Find Yourself Anew
Dislcaimer: All Characters Belong to Marvel excluding my OCs
Find Yourself Anew
"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." ~ Joseph Campbell
Despite popular belief its Tony that ends it.
It's a Wednesday in the middle of March. A smart move on his part because business was always slow in March.
She knew something was wrong when he walked into her office carrying a box of white chocolates, the kind she liked, and wearing that blue shirt of his that made her all flustered.
Well actually...no...that wasn't exactly correct.
She'd known something was wrong for a while now, since The Battle for New York really. Tony had been distant, not cold...but not as warm. Their romance had been faltering. They'd stopped going on dates. She rarely saw him alone. He was always with Bruce or Natasha or Steve...mostly Steve...
At first she'd thought it was because of all the Avenger business taking up his time. Then because the Avengers had moved in and he was having a hard time adjusting to their presence. Then because work was busy and she had to go on several business trips while he worked to coordinate R&D. But then she had started to have her doubts, her nagging feelings of insecurities.
They're relationship was strained and Pepper was beginning to fear why.
"I'm sorry," is how he starts.
She doesn't let him end."It's Steve, isn't it?" She breaths in deep to keep back the tears.
He doesn't insult her by saying she's wrong.
Instead he leaves the chocolates on her desk, kisses her goodbye, says he hopes they can still be friends and walks away.
She spends the rest of the day in the office.
She doesn't know where to go after work. She lived with Tony. She'd sold her apartment in LA months ago and she didn't have a place in New York. She hadn't needed it.
In the end, she checks in at the Plaza because she's just been dumped by the one person who knew her in every way possible and she isn't handling that very well. Her room is lavished with all the comforts she could want, but it's not home. It's not Tony.
She ends up taking a bath. The water is nice and hot and hides her tears. By the time she comes out her hands our pruney and her cheeks are sticky, but she's too tired to care.
On the nightstand is her phone. It has three missed calls. One is from Natasha, one from Tony, and one from her mother.
She deletes two of them and listens to one.
I know I'm the last person who should be calling...you don't need to go away Pepper. This can still be your home if you want...This isn't goodbye...
She doesn't go back to the tower. She wants to, but she doesn't.
Instead she calls Natasha around lunch time to go look at apartments. It takes three hours before she settles on a good sized flat. It's uptown, about half an hour from the office, an hour from the tower.
She recruits Happy and together they pack her things and move it to the new apartment. She doesn't have much. Her clothes and makeup and few furniture items that Tony had never really liked but had tolerated for her sake.
She leaves her shoes. She couldn't bear to take them. The memories had been too strong.
Her neighbor's name was Markus. Friends called him Mark. He had blond hair and green eyes. He had a five year old daughter. His wife had died of cancer.
He brought her cookies the day after she moved in and spent two hours talking to her about nothing.
The first time she sees Tony since the break up, they're passing each other in the halls at SHEILD. He's talking animatedly with one of the scientists that wasn't Bruce.
She can't bring herself to talk to him. Instead she ducks her head and hurries up. And if she catches his eye for a moment, they don't talk about it.
One day during lunch, she sees a vase in the window of some thrift shop. It is pink and flowery and, in all honesty, rather ugly. The first thought that went through her mind when she sees it is that Tony would have hated it.
She buys it because she has to.
She had never really thought about how much of her life had begun to revolve around Tony.
She ran his company. All her friends she'd met (in some way or another) through him. She hadn't even had her own house until the breakup. Even before they got together, she pretty much lived in his Malibu mansion.
All her favorite things were related to him, as well. Her clothes were bought by him or for him. The art she liked and bought had something to do with machinery. Even her hobbies like cooking and singing were done because Tony couldn't cook and he liked her voice.
It was as if she had become so involved in his life that she had forgotten how to have her own.
She tells Markus this the next time she sees him.
"What you need is distance. It's how I was able to move past Claire. I dropped Marie off at her grandparents, rented a car and just drove." They were at his house, having coffee. Marie was at preschool.
"I wish I could do that," She confessed, "But what with the company and all."
"See that's the problem right there." Markus pointed out. "You just told me that you wanted to create your own life and yet you're running his company. It's as if you don't want to move past him. You need to let everything related to this guy go."
She took a long sip, thinking before admitting, "I don't think I know how."
Steve and Tony get together four months after the break up.
Pepper supposes its more out of respect for her then Tony needing time.
The next time Steve sees her, it's at a Gala of some sort. He doesn't speak to her, just smiles as if he pitied her.
Natasha was wearing her Green 2007 Louboutins when it really hits her though.
Tony has moved on. Moved on to make a life of his own without her. He had his own friends, his own love life, his own work life, his own house, his own hobbies, his own everything!
All she had was the broken rememberrings of what was and what could have been.
And what was she supposed to do with that?
She knocks on Marks door the next day. It's late, around 10pm and he's wearing PJs.
"Where did you go?" She asks him.
"On your trip, after Claire," She clarified, "Where did you go?"
He blinks at her sleepily, processing. "I didn't really go anywhere. I just drove until I found a destination I liked. It wasn't really about getting anywhere, you know. It was about getting away, getting perspective."
She thinks about it for a long time before finally admitting to herself that she needed distance to heal, but even then Pepper doesn't leave immediately. Instead, she quits.
"Will I see you again?" Tony asks when she hands him her resignation letter. It's the first time she's been back in the Tower. He's in the kitchen, for once, instead of his lab. They're alone.
"I don't know," She shrugs, "I need time."
Tony nods his head. His frown doesn't go away. She appreciates, briefly, that he didn't attempt to change her mind. She wasn't sure if she was strong enough to say no to him yet.
"Does he treat you right?" She blurts out before she can stop herself. She thinks she already knows the answer though. Tony looks healthier, well rested, well feed, well taken care of. That had always been a problem in their relationship. At times, Pepper had to wonder if she was his girlfriend or his mother.
He smiles, his eyes glaze as if remembering something wonderful, "Yes, yes he does."
It was what she'd hoped for and dreaded. She swallows hard, "Good. I'm glad." It came out bitter. She hadn't meant for it to be bitter.
"Not that our relationship wasn't wonderful," Tony added. Looking at her for the first time that afternoon, "I hope you know that."
"Then why did you break up with me!" She was surprised by her anger. For so long all she'd been feeling was a kind of sad-numbness. She hadn't realized her anger.
Tony looked out the window, probably in an attempt to collect his thoughts. "I always believed that if you find yourself unable to commit 100% to relationship then it was best to stop before you ended up hurting yourself and your partner. I loved you...but as time went on I found my mind wandering. It wasn't fair to you and it wasn't fair to me." His expression was somber, serious. He looked at her in a way he hadn't since before The Battle. "I'll always love you, Virginia 'Pepper' Potts. I just wasn't able to love you enough."
She rents a car. It's blue and old and ugly and Tony would have hated it.
She returns it the next day because she hated it too.
When Markus asked her why (he'd liked the car. He was weird like that), she said it was because she couldn't live her life based on what Tony would have hated, let alone what he liked. "I figured it was defeating the purpose."
She bought a silver 2010 BMW. Tony would have liked it, but she loved it and that was the reason why she bought it.
"Are you sure you have to do this?" Natasha asked over a cup of coffee two weeks after she quit. Her expression was closed off, carefully blank, but Pepper liked to believe that this woman had come to trust her enough to reveal at least a little of her emotions.
"It is something I have to do," Pepper replied, "I need to...I need distance and perspective."
Natasha reached over the table to take her hand, imploring her, "You'll come back?"
Pepper clasped their hands together. Natasha had been a rock for her to lean on for the past six months and she would always appreciate her for that, but she was also an unwavering link to Tony and she couldn't afford that now.
For the first time in a long time, Pepper Potts acted selfishly and merely shrugged
She leaves on a Tuesday morning without telling anyone.
It's early, around 5am, and she can hear Markus moving around next door. She packs a week's worth of clothes and nothing else. She wanted to travel light and pick up the things she would need along the way, kind of like picking up a new life.
As she starts the engine of her new car, she takes a moment to breath in deep. She takes a moment to remember all the good and all the bad of her life with Tony. It's a long moment because it's a long memory filled so many different emotions and rollercoaster-like moments that still make her heart beat just a little too fast. And then, she breaths out and lets it go.
She felt lighter now; new as if she was being reborn. Gone were the broken rememberrings of what was and what could have been. Instead here lie the future if what will be.
And as she pulled out of the parking garage and onto the empty streets of Manhattan, she feels like flying.
A/N: Three thoughts on this story:
1) OMG! I finally wrote an Iron Man fanfiction plus a Superhusbands fanfiction. I am so proud of myself
2) I tried my hardest not to many one an asshole. They're just people. People who fall in and out of love because that is what happens in real life. It's no one's fault really. Time changes things and time changed Tony. He fell out of love and it sucks for Pepper, but that's life. He isn't a horrible person for doing it, Steve isn't a horrible person for getting in a relationship with Tony, and Pepper isn't a horrible person for not being able to move on for a while. They're all just people and I hope I got that point across.
3) I think the one major problem with this story is that I have no idea what its liked to be dumped. I've had one boyfriend and it was mutual. I was moving away, long distance wasn't realistic. So I had to rely on my imagination and what I'd seen in real life or in literature. I know I must have gotten some things wrong and I would love for my readers to tell me what.