Plus Two: A Pepperony Fanfic
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Word Count: 2138
Pairing: Pepper Potts x Tony Stark x F!Reader
Warnings: alcohol, drugs, grief
Synopsis: Tony Stark- Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist, Pepper Potts, his long-serving and overworked assistant, and you, their on-again/off-again girlfriend and lead singer of the hit band, Arctic Fire. Three very different people navigate a world of fame, addiction, betrayal, and superheroes, while they move from having a plus one to a plus two
Apart from the whole, detoxing and learning to not automatically just turn to drugs or alcohol for everything from simple boredom, being minorly inconvenienced by something, and fitting in socially, rehab was pretty nice. The facility was exclusive, on the beach, and mostly involved lazing about in beach chairs getting sun. There was yoga, meditation, tennis, and swimming, dotted in between haute cuisine and therapy sessions.
It was so good that you ended up checking in three times over the next four years before it finally seemed to stick.
Or maybe that was just the fact you couldn’t stop drinking or taking drugs.
It turns out kicking addiction was really hard. Who would have thought? Especially when your support system was your bandmates who all still drank and took drugs, and your best friend the functioning alcoholic.
In the four years you were in and out of rehab you managed to write and record an album. Its debut at number one and the consequent party to celebrate was what ended up sending you into rehab the second time. When Tony’s house was blown up by terrorists and he responded by blowing up all his Iron Suits, you were already in rehab for the third time, but the whole incident made you extend your stay because all you could think about was going on a bender to numb the feeling of clawing dread you had when Tony had gone missing once again.
After your third stay, you started to feel like you might have a hold of this thing. It was never going to be easy, especially not in your line of work. There was always alcohol around. Always. Every single venture out your door involved mimosas at breakfast while record execs tried to sell you on some new idea, wine over lunch while you were interviewed for Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair, and hard liquor at dinner for galas and award shows. Many trips out involved drugs too. Even just going to spend time with your bandmates would usually involve them smoking pot. You couldn’t expect people to alter their behavior because you had a problem, so you just had to perfect your shameless no and fight the urge to fill voids with addiction.
“Do you think I can come and stay with you?”
Pepper hadn’t even waited for you to say hello.
“What? Don’t you have like seventeen homes around the world?” you asked out of sheer confusion. The Malibu mansion was still under construction, but you knew that Tony also owned a condo in Beverly Hills that Pepper could use if she needed a place in LA.
“I’m leaving him,” she said.
The words hung heavy in the air and the silence lasted so long that you started to wonder if time itself had frozen. It slowly dawned on you that it was your turn to speak, but you didn’t know what to say. What could you say to your ex-girlfriend who you’d only ever fought with once because you hooked up with the man she was in love with, and who ended up in a relationship with him sending you on a shame bender that ended with you overdosing in a nightclub’s bathroom, now that she’s breaking up with that very same man?
“I don’t -”
“Did you see the news?” she asked. “About the attack on the Avengers Tower?”
“What no?” you asked.
“Go turn on the news,” she said.
You went into the living room and turned on your television. It only took switching over to CNN to see the damaged Avengers Tower on screen. “What happened?”
“I don’t know exactly,” she said. “I’m in DC making deals for a government contract. I get a call from Tony. He was trying to make some kind of bot. I don’t know… AI or something. It turned on him and the team and they went off to South Africa.” She paused and took a deep breath. “I can’t do it anymore. He said he’d stop. He blew up his suits and said that he would stop being Iron Man, but it’s just more and more and more.”
There’s a weird little thrill you get hearing her talk like this. The part of you that felt abandoned when Tony and Pepper had got together loved the idea of them having trouble. It was petty and you hated that part of you, but it was still there.
“Maybe… maybe you should talk to him before you just up and run,” you say softly.
She sighed. “What’s the point? He’ll just say he’ll stop and then not stop. I keep just going round and round in circles with him.”
You weren’t sure what to say. Tony’s addictive personality was always something you connected to. It was a mirror to your own. The sex. The alcohol. The drugs. The adrenalin. The work. You knew what he got from each new fix. You knew how hard it was to give it up.
You also knew how hard that was for everyone around you to live with.
“If you need somewhere to stay, you can stay with me,” you said. “But you should talk to him. At least tell him you’re going and don’t just make him come home to an empty penthouse.”
“I can’t go back to the penthouse anyway,” she said. “You realize that two of our homes have been blown up because of what he does? This is the second time that the tower has been attacked.”
“To be fair to Tony all of New York got attacked the first time,” you said.
“You’re defending him?” she said, her tone accusatory.
“I’m not -” you sighed. “Pepper, you’re my ex – he’s my friend. I can’t take sides here and if I could, whose side am I supposed to take?”
“The side of the person who’s right?” she snapped.
“I don’t think anyone is right,” you said. “He’s who he is. He’s saving the world. Love shouldn’t be under the condition that someone changes.” Pepper made a ‘tch’ sound. “But…” you continued, not letting her railroad you. “That doesn’t mean you have to put up with things that you’re not okay with.”
“You worked on your addiction,” Pepper said.
“Yeah, I did. On my own. Because you – you left me for him,” you said, your voice cracking as you tried not to yell. “I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”
“It’s okay,” she said softly.
“No, it’s not,” you said. “We weren’t together when you ended up with him and if you had wanted to be with me you would have been. But my point stands. I’m an addict and I’m single. I don’t want to be with someone who can’t handle the fact I might slip sometimes, but I also wouldn’t expect anyone who couldn’t handle that to be with me. Neither position is unreasonable. Just disappearing on him might be.”
“When did you get to be so reasonable?” Pepper asked.
“Three long stays at various rehab facilities,” you said.
“Okay,” she sighed. “Okay. I’ll wait to talk to him.
Pepper was living with you in your Los Angeles home by the end of the week.
Tony nor any of the other Avengers returned from the trip to South Africa. An incident with the Hulk had sent them on the run. Tony going missing once again was a struggle for your sobriety. It killed his relationship with Pepper Potts.
It didn’t matter that it wasn’t for long. It didn’t matter that the Avengers had saved the world. She hadn’t been able to wait for him anymore. It hurt too much.
Having Pepper at your place might have been what saved you from relapsing for the fourth time. There was something to be said for having a dual support system. You took care of her and she took care of you. When she needed to cry out her grief at the end of the relationship you were there with ice cream and held her while she sobbed it out. If you started jonesing for a drink or a hit, she found something else to distract you. She made sure the house was free of anything stronger than Ben and Jerry’s American Dream.
Three weeks after the Sokovia incident you got a call from Tony asking you to meet him at Blu Jam Cafe for Brunch.
When you arrived he was already shifting nervously at an outside table. His blue-tinted glasses barely hid his anxiety or his identity.
“There’s my rock star,” he said, standing and kissing your cheek as you approached the table.
“Hey, Tony,” you said, taking a seat. “How are you holding up?”
‘“Oh you know,” he said. “I broke a couple of ribs. And my arm keeps going numb.”
“Well, that doesn’t sound good,” you said.
He waved you off. “I’ll be fine. You need anything? You want to order a drink?”
“Tony…” you sighed.
“Oh right – sorry. Coffee?”
“Yeah, I’ll have a coffee,” you agreed.
He waved over the waitress and you both ordered coffees, when she left you alone you picked up the menu and started looking it over. “I’m not going to talk her into getting back together with you.”
Tony’s feet tapped out an erratic rhythm on the ground. “Are you – did you two?”
“…hook up?” you finished, looking at him over the top of your menu.
He made a circular motion with his hand. “Well, are you?”
“No, Tony,” you said. “She’s devastated.”
“She left me!” he yelped.
You put down the menu and looked at him. “Why are you both putting me in the middle of this?”
“She’s staying with you and you’re my friend,” he said.
“You could still talk directly to her, you know?”
Tony shifted a little and tapped his fingers on the table. “What’s the big deal? I just want the perspective of my friend here.”
You let out a breath and you tried to put together your thoughts in a way that wouldn’t make you seem as jealous and conflicted as you felt right now. Because the truth was that you wanted them to get back together and be happy, and at the same time you wanted them each for yourself.
The waitress interrupted your thought processes by bringing your drinks and asking if you were ready to order. When she was gone again Tony shifted in his seat and pushed his glasses up on his face.
“I don’t want to lose her like I lost you,” he said.
“You didn’t lose me,” you said. “I’m sitting right here with you.”
He shook his head. “Yes, no. I know. But I did. You know I did. I loved what we had. Didn’t you?”
“We were fuck buddies,” you said.
“Yeah. We were. We loved each other but we were fine with how we were,” he said, running his hand through the back of his hair.
“What complete fucking disasters who were probably going to end up dead before we were forty?” you snapped. You were suddenly aware of how many people were around you. The call to get up and walk out was becoming stronger. “All we did was stop having sex. If you think that the sex was the important part of the relationship we had, you’re a much shittier person than I thought you were.”
“Fuck,” Tony cursed. “I’m bad at this. I’m bad at feelings. You were always good with me being bad at feelings. Why aren’t you getting what I’m trying to say?” He took a deep breath and looked at you. “That night… when I came back. And you had that fight with Pepper. I came around and I said we should stop being fuck buddies.”
“Yeah. You said just friends,” you said.
“No,” he said. “You said just friends.”
All the blood seemed to rush to your ears, and the wet thud-thud-thud of your pulse drowned out all the other sounds. A whole different life suddenly flashed through your mind. One where you’d never gone spiraling down into the depths of your addiction, and while you went off playing tours Tony saved the world. A world where you’d be called a power couple and your photos would be on the cover of every gossip magazine every month.
A world where Pepper had never gotten to have her great love with him either.
“I have to go,” you said, getting up so suddenly that it knocked over your coffee and it spread out all over the table, instantly soaking through the napkins that your silverware sat on.
“Honey,” Tony said, getting to his feet and pulling out his wallet. “Wait!”
“Don’t follow me,” you said as you hurried out of the building, tears pricking your eyes. You hoped he would listen because the bomb he’d just dropped on you had the potential to ruin everything.