Here's the secret to coping with genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist and utter pain in the ass Tony Stark-- or so Pepper told her on her first day on the job:
If you actually have to think of it as coping, then you're not.
Pepper probably prefers more action-oriented, collaborative terms. Such as enabling or diverting, depending on the day and the situation. But then, she's had him wrapped around her littlest finger for years. Buffy is rapidly coming to favor slightly more descriptive phrases such as cat-herding or arguing into submission. When she'd agreed to test-run the Slayer/SHIELD cooperative contract in her own person, she hadn't expected to be put undercover playing stealth bodyguard slash personal assistant to a guy who's like Willow crossed with Spike and Angel both, on science steroids.
It's a good thing she's actually as smart as her SAT scores say rather than her high school transcripts or work evaluations, or she'd never be able to keep up with the business side of things. And her LA society girl training is getting more of a workout than it's had in years. She thinks of Cordy every time she dresses down a skeazeball at a Stark Industries party, and of Willow every time she has to give Tony the Resolve Face to drag him away from something he finds far more interesting than another boring meeting. Not exactly what she'd been expecting when she'd offered her hot chick with superpowers self up to Nick Fury for joint world saveage. Sneaky bastard.
She has to admit, though, Tony does keep her on her toes. She doesn't know how Natasha managed, back in the day when his A-word distraction of choice had been alcohol rather than Avengers. Or Pepper, before that. There's no way either fearsome lady is baseline human; you'd think sobering up might have slowed the guy down a little, but you couldn't prove it by Buffy. Without Slayer endurance, she would have dropped in her tracks one week in.
Even when he's out of the office, that doesn't mean the rest of her job grinds to a halt-- it just means she has more to juggle while he's off superheroing or being brilliant. And when he's not around to be a flashy, magnetic distraction-- in armor, or out-- Buffy has to wield an even firmer fist over the legacy company assholes. It's not just that she's a young, beautiful woman in a position of power; it's that she isn't Pepper Potts or even Natalie Rushman. It's like the early days of envying Kendra's handbook-perfect record, or being jealous of Faith's charisma, only she has to keep the Slayer thing under wraps. At least he's not CEO anymore; and Pepper's got her own PA to help.
There are some benefits to the job, though, she has to admit. Tony's kind of hilarious, for an older dude with an ego the size of a small moon. He's already well-trained to respect a determined woman, which makes for a nice change from most of her previous non-Slayage occupations. His A.I. makes her nostalgic for Giles every time she takes the elevator up to the private floors of Stark Tower-- or Spike, when JARVIS is in full snide and arguing with her about tracking down his master. And best of all are the days when she finds Tony in company with the other Avengers.
Banner's cute, in a favorite uncle kind of way; he reminds her of Oz, and sometimes Xander when he's ducking his head and trying not to draw attention. Rogers reminds her of the days when her duty as the Slayer had been all that kept her together; he's got some essential, hammered steel edge in him that even she responds to, and she gets the feeling he'd understand if she ever felt the urge to talk about heaven. Thor is like an overgrown Riley with a case of the Medievals, and Natasha is pure concentrated kickass. And as for Clint....
She slips off her shoes as she steps into the testing range, leaving the four inch heels behind by the door, and pads up to Tony with her clipboard tucked under her arm. The place used to be where all the baby handguns came to take their first steps toward production, but since Stark Industries went into the clean energy business it's been wholly devoted to muscle-powered lethality. Lately, it's been by far her favorite place to track Tony down.
She licks her lips at the sight of Clint Barton's giganormous biceps as the agent draws his bowstring to his ear. An experimental shaft is nocked and ready: he holds it, releases it, and draws another from the quiver in one smooth, flexing motion. Before he can release the second arrow, though, a massive splotch of paint appears at the other end, obliterating the target.
Tony whistles approvingly. "Think you can get more range than our paint-ball guns with one of those?"
And there is Buffy's cue, if she's ever heard one. "I hear no evil, I see no evil," she chirps in his ear, "but for the record? A girl could throw a paint bomb farther than one of those SHIELD peashooters will."
Tony startles visibly, then turns and shoots her a narrow-eyed stare. "One of these days, I will have JARVIS tie an alarm to your movements, Summers. Don't think I won't."
"That could be fun, if you let him vary the tones," she replies nonchalantly, tilting her head as if in consideration. "You know that one hall in HQ with a door opening every ten feet for like, miles? I could get through a couple whole verses of a song ducking in and out of those."
Clint chuckles at that, deliberately relaxing his stance. Then he detaches the tip of the second arrow, offering Buffy the paint-filled, oversized point. "Speaking of girly throws. Care to put your money where your mouth is?" he teases.
She looks down at the clipboard in her hand, then at the arrow point, biting her lip; then solemnly offers Clint a trade. Tony doesn't like being handed things, but trusts his teammates if they choose to pass something on, and there's nothing he likes more than watching someone test his latest invention. She hefts the arrowhead in her hand, listening for the sound of a nib scratching on paper as she eyes the purple splotch marring the wall; then she cocks her arm back, making a show of winding up.
"I'll show you girly," Buffy says, smirking at the speculative appreciation in Clint's gaze, and throws.