Pepper decides to ignore the fact that Natalie is better at many things than she ever was as Tony's assistant. This includes, but is not limited to, typing at 120 wpm, making a mean mushroom omelette that is almost (but not quite) as good as Tony's, and having impeccable Latin skills.
The one thing she cannot ignore, however, is the calm efficiency Natalie has when she throws knives at two would be assailants and then proceeds to roundhouse kick the third.
Pepper stares in shock at first, but Natalie's composure is hardly ruffled when she grabs her by the arm, firmly leading her back the way they'd come. "I-"
"No time for questions right now, I have to save your life," she replies brusquely as a loud shot rings out and she throws Pepper in the opposite direction, away from the second and third bullet that hits the wall right where her head had been.
She ducks, heads for a desk and uses it for cover as Natalie throws another knife from god knows where at the now downed assassin.
"Ninja skills weren't on your resume!" Pepper exclaims as Natalie returns, maneuvering her towards the back stairwell.
"Employers usually get twitchy when you tell them that you can kill them with a spoon."
"Ah," Pepper responds, nodding although still mostly confused and slightly relieved that she wasn't dead yet. They race down the stairs, and she kicks off her professional high heels half way through (a damn nuisance when running for one's life). Their hurried steps echo ominously around them, and a clanging of metal a few flights up tells her that they still aren't in the clear. The footsteps of at least three more men hot on their tails reassures her of this fact.
By the time they reach the ground floor and potential freedom, she's already called up Happy to meet them at the back and Tony to get his metal-suited ass over here before she wound up dead and began to haunt him from beyond the grave.
Natalie slams open the door and pushes her through first, arm still gripped firmly. "You're going to want to move very fast very soon," she says, before turning back to throw something probably very deadly in their trail.
Pepper runs, Natalie right behind her. "Was that what I think it was?"
"If you think it was a high-grade explosive timed to explode in one minute and twenty seconds, then yes, yes it is," Natalie replies between quick breathes.
The car speeds into view, tires squealing as Happy brings it to an abrupt halt in front of them. Just as she reaches the door, the carefully timed explosives go off, sound screaming in her ears and the shock throwing her and Natalie into the car haphazardly. She focuses on breathing and the ringing in her ears is a painful reminder of why associating with Tony Stark is never easy.
Natalie's weight against her isn't as annoying as she'd thought it would be and a rush of gratitude hits her along with some ample confusion and how the hell was this her life. As Happy peels out of the parking lot, whistling low at the now on fire building, she looks at Natalie who's smoothed her hair and has more composure than Pepper would have imagined.
She's not quite sure how or why she does it, but she leans over and kisses her on the cheek, or at least she's pretty sure that's what she was aiming for. It somehow lands on Natalie's lips, light and tasting like cherry. Her lip gloss is smooth against Pepper's mouth, lips supple and pliant. The kiss is over before she can even think about it, and the light blush that creeps along Natalie's cheeks afterward is pleasantly surprising.
"Thanks," Pepper says, not knowing where or how to start understanding just how Tony'd managed to hire a secret ninja as a personal assistant.
"Just doing my job," she says back. The smile that graces her face is genuine and sweet, a complete contradiction to the efficient ruthlessness she'd had not moments ago. But, then again, everyone was full of surprises.