Sometimes, May forgot that Tony was a successful billionaire. When they were together, they were either at May’s apartment or the hospital, or just around Queens and such. Aside from that weekend visit to the compound before Thanksgiving, the pair hadn’t spent much time in Tony’s neck of the woods.
That fact sometimes made May forget that Tony wasn’t just her Tony, the nerdy goof who was willing to argue fictional plot lines with her in the middle of the night and talk about Italian family quirks, he was also a famous businessman and superhero with a paycheck to prove it.
So when she walked off the elevator and into his penthouse at Stark Tower for the first time, she was admittedly blown away by the sheer expensiveness that the entire place seemed to shout at her. May suddenly felt extremely out of place in her blue jeans and white shirt.
She stood in the open living room, just taking in everything from the stainless steel kitchen to the very expensive looking couch that she was secretly scared sit on in fear of ruining the material. She saw the stone-looking fireplace on the edge of the lounge area and wondered if Tony actually knew how to start and stoke a fire.
May was so lost in her own head as took in her surroundings that she didn’t notice when the elevator gave another ding nor when the tell tale sound of heels clicking along the floor alerted her of someone else’s presence.
May spun around to face the elevator, yanked from her thoughts as she took in the sight of a slightly startled Pepper, who seemed to be just as surprised to see May in the penthouse.
“My apologies,” Pepper began, giving May a small, polite smile. “I didn’t know you were here, I was looking for Tony. I needed his signature for some contract and proposals.” Pepper held up a small stack of papers to corroborate her story.
May gave Pepper a smile in return. Things were still awkward between the two women, with the whole misunderstanding on May’s part of Pepper and Tony’s relationship and Pepper being oblivious but respectful once Tony explained it to her. The two women just hadn’t talk it out with each other yet.
“I wish I could tell you were Tony was, but I have no idea. We were going to go out and see a movie. He had Happy bring me here with the message that he’d meet me at in his penthouse and we’d head out,” May explained. “If he’s needed for some meeting later though, I’m completely fine with rescheduling, it’s no big deal.”
Pepper chuckled, shaking her head. “No, no. You don’t need to reschedule anything, I promise. All I need is 30 seconds for grab his signature, that’s all. I guess we could both just wait for him to show up, as long as you’re all right with that, of course.”
May gestured to the couch off to her side. "Please, by all means."
Pepper thanked her and set her stack of paperwork on the coffee table in front of the couch before making her way into the kitchen. "Would you like anything to drink," she called over her shoulder.
“Ah, a water would be nice. Thank you!” May felt slightly uncomfortable with seeing how at ease Pepper was in Tony’s kitchen, until she remembered that the woman and known and worked with Tony for more than 12 years. Of course she’d know where the man kept his glasses, whether they had a previous relationship or not.
Pepper joined May back on the couch and handed her a glass of water. May murmured a thanks before the awkward silence between them was back. They both sat uncomfortably, not really doing anything but also not willing to be the first to speak.
“Alright, this is ridiculous,” Pepper exclaimed, breaking the silence. She turned to face May head on and held out her hand. “Let’s start over, please? I’m Pepper Potts, it’s nice to meet you.”
May chuckled and shook the other woman’s hand. “May Parker, it’s nice to meet you as well.”
Pepper smiled. “Great, now that introductions are over, let’s address the elephant in the room. This,” she gestured between them, “is so awkward it’s cringy.”
May nodded. “Yes, please. This is way too awkward,” she added with a laugh.
Pepper nodded too. “I know Tony and I use to date, and I know what the media has been saying about all of this recently, but I hope you know that Tony and I ended things over a year ago and we ended on good terms. We were friends before there was anything between us and that’s what we are now. We’re each other’s family, along with Happy and Rhodey. Now Tony’s added you and Peter into our small circle and I think that’s amazing. I’m so happy that you two are together. Tony deserves to be happy for once, and excuse me if I cross any lines, but I’d say you deserve to be happy again too.”
Pepper had reached forward to grasp May’s hand at the end of her little speech. “I even pushed Tony to take you on a date. He was terrified after he asked you out for the first time. I came over and pushed him out of his lab to get ready. I don’t know if I should tell you this, but he was terrified to mess up with you and have your relationship end like our did. I told him, though, that this time it’s different, and it is May. You two seem to click and gravitate towards each other in a way that he and I never did. Now, I’m with David and I think it’s only fair you guys get to be happy too.”
May squeezed Pepper’s hand in gratitude. “Thank you,” she whispered, trying to blink away tears.
“While Tony and I were beginning to talk and spend more time together, I kept hearing in passing all the things you two were still doing together or how much time you two still spent together. I wasn’t jealous, per say, but I felt conflicted because I was starting to feel things for Tony that I didn’t want to feel if you two were getting back together. And that was what everyone had assumed was going to happen. After Tony and I started dating, he explained how you guys were friends and family even though you weren’t together anymore. I think I still had some doubts buried deep down though. So thank you. Thank you for giving me peace and a chance for us to clear the air.”
Pepper nodded again. “Of course, May.” She laughed, shaking her head in amusement. “If only we had this talk sooner. Then maybe everything after that first meeting would have been less awkward.”
May joined in the laughter. “Probably, but we seem to both be stubborn women who want to work everything out on our own and talked to anyone else.”
“Seems like it.”
They were quiet for a moment, both relaxing after their talk. May looked at the time on her phone before turning back to Pepper. “I don’t know how long Tony is going to be.”
Pepper shrugged. “That’s normal. No matter how hard I’ve tried, he always insists on being late for most things. He’s probably caught up in a project in his workshop, to be honest.” Pepper paused before giving May a mischievous grin. “Do you want to hear some embarrassing stories about Tony while we wait for him?
That was how Tony found them, half an hour later. He walked out of the elevator with an apology for May on his lips, but paused when he saw May and Pepper together on the couch, laughing at how Tony once had to call Pepper down to the lab because the robots that used to remove the Iron Man armor had malfunctioned halfway through removing it and it ended with him somehow suspended upside down in the air while the robots gripped his legs, and dummy spraying fire the fire extinguisher everywhere, including Tony.
In that moment, Tony experienced joy and fear at the same time. Joy that the two women in his life are seemingly now friends, but also fear because he knows how dangerous for him their friendship would be.
God help him.