Pepper first hears about it on the news when Lela all but falls into her office because she’s in such a rush to turn the TV on. When the news proves more sensational than informative, both women relocate to a window with a view towards the city. They watch as a very large and angry looking reptile of some sort storms through the streets, visible over the tops of buildings as it lifts cars, smashes them and flings them at the surrounding cityscape. Despite this, it manages to look nothing whatsoever like Godzilla, which is no mean feat when you’re a hulking great angry lizard amongst skyscrapers. They watch as it’s enraged rather than particularly injured by a fighter jet attempting and failing to kill it. And they’re still watching moments later when the creature pulls the same jet from the sky and grinds it to pulp.
The CEO laments briefly and silently that she’ll likely be late for her board meeting and all those intolerable old men will be disgusting about it for months. Then she hands her PA her phone and heads for the elevator. The military are clearly outmatched. The Avengers are in Sri Lanka and will take far to long to arrive. Peter is in Canada on some kind of camping trip, which is lucky because he’d undoubtably try to get involved and no teenager should be fighting god awful mutated reptiles the size of a high-rise no matter what they’ve been bitten by. And considering Pepper hasn’t heard about any other enhanced heavy hitters in New York, there probably aren’t any. Which means she’s going to have to deal with this herself and figure out what to do about the media fallout of publicly announcing her enhanced status later. Tony’s going to be beside himself when he gets back.
The horrible reptilian hell beast is only a few blocks from Stark Tower when Pepper makes it onto the sidewalk. The police are trying to clear people from the area and frantically try to signal her away from the thing but she strides past them unconcerned. Actually, she’s pretty concerned about her dress but there’s no saving it now. She kicks off her shoes – Louboutins, such a shame – and begins to jog and then run and then sprint at the creature, which completely fails to pay her any attention. By the time she’s within a couple of yards of the thing, her clothes have started to smoke. Within moments, they begin to burn away and her skin takes on the glow of red hot iron. When she’s practically at the beast’s feet and it’s finally started to take notice of her, her skin is already shifting and rippling like molten metal and her eyes are glowing a deep burning red. The creature is intelligent enough to consider this a warning sign but it’s already too late. Pepper delivers a solid flying punch with her entire momentum and enhanced strength behind it. The creature screams terribly and its injured leg crumples beneath it, driving it to one knee. Infuriated and in pain, it lashes out with its enormous, razor sharp teeth aiming for Pepper’s head and torso. It never connects though, because Pepper diverts its lunge with a heave of effort and her burning hands against its snout. The creature screams again in pain, the sound higher and more ear splitting than before. Undeterred, it lunges again, this time with clawed front legs, but Pepper is already out of the way and deftly scaling the creature’s side, using its rough scales and spines to make her ascent. The creature tries to shake her off, but Pepper holds fast and pretty soon she’s reached the creatures head. Without ceremony or fanfare, she lifts a burning fist and punches down hard into the back of the creatures head – once, twice – crushing its skull inwards and killing the beast almost instantly. It takes a moment of swaying for the great carcass to realise it no longer numbers among the living and to make its slow-motion tumble towards the ground.
The body finally lands at the feet of a contingent of soldiers, guns slack in their hands, staring up at her in shocked awe as she rides it elegantly to the ground. Still smoking, hair a red halo around her head and only slightly ruffled, Pepper dismounts without any apparent rush and with an air of dignity not usually obtained by people lightly dusted in ash and chargrilled reptilian brain matter.
Behind the soldiers a car screeches to a halt and disgorges Pepper’s somewhat frazzled PA Lena, carrying more items than anyone should technically be able to walk with. The soldiers watch on, dumbstruck, as Lena makes record time over to Pepper and hands her a fist full of wet wipes to clean up with as they walk towards the car.
“Do you have the progress report?” Pepper queries as she delicately hands back the soiled wet wipes.
“In the car along with a copy of that memo that you wanted to discuss with the board,” Lena responds as she hands Pepper a dove grey dress of the variety that is too classy to look as expensive as it probably is. Pepper slips it on over the top of the fireproof body suit Tony kindly made static proof – to avoid skirts sticking to it – and knee length – so a situation like this wouldn’t have her on the front page of the newspaper in short-shorts. (Tony probably hasn’t pieced that bit of reasoning together yet thought. He almost certainly assumed she wanted to forestall his inevitable lecherous remarks about the suit. A suit which will, in her mind, always be inextricably linked with a terrifying episode in her life. He hasn’t made a single comment, the sweetheart).
Lena zips up her dress for her as Pepper slips on a pair of very dangerous looking Jimmy Choos. The soldiers look on in gobsmacked silence as she fails to wobble even once, despite not even pausing in her conversation or unhurried movement towards the car. Happy opens the door for Pepper as she approaches and complains loudly, “Mr Stark’s going to kill me for letting you do that.”
Pepper, twisting her hair expertly into a chignon that somehow manages to disguise the worst of the grime, raises an eyebrow and points out, “You didn’t let me do anything.”
She then turns back towards the crowd of silent, and totally redundant, soldiers and gives them an acknowledging nod - “Gentlemen. Ladies.” - before slipping into the car. Lena and her microcosm of stuff squeeze in after her and the car pulls quietly away, for all the world like it were an ordinary Tuesday afternoon. The contingent stare after the departing entourage for a while yet, in many cases with mouths agape, until finally Lt Jackson says a touch too loudly, “So it looks like I’m a lesbian.”
No one gives her any shit for this however, since ‘terrified and turned on’ is the pervading mixture of emotions across the entire platoon.
Pepper Potts arrives half an hour late to the board meeting smelling only faintly of burning flesh and ruffled to only the most discerning of eyes (like, say, the eyes of a Black Widow). The board collectively turns to stare at her in abject terror. In the background, footage of her descending from the creature’s back like some kind of avenging goddess plays on multiple screens.
Pepper smiles winningly but it must come off as predatory since Mr Pinches-Every-Female-Bottom-At-The-Christmas-Party actually whimpers and Mr Flaming-Bigot at the front wheels his chair backwards an inch.
Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.