Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from the Marvel Universe or the Avengers movie. Nor do I own or have the rights to BTVS. This is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Crossover that takes place 5 years after season 7. The Buffy comics do not exist in my world. The story will continue after Iron Man 3 even though I don't planning on getting much into Pepper's exposure to Extremis. It's useful to have seen Iron Man 3, but I don't think essential. The Thor 2 movie has not occurred in my version. I do NOT read the Marvel comics, so forgive any mythology inaccuracies. Email me if they really bother you, and I'll try to fix them.
Chapter 1: The Interview ******New York******
Willow sat anxiously in the coffee shop sipping her latte. This was the first real job interview she'd ever had, and it was so unbelievable that she was trying not to pass out. It'd been five years since the hellmouth in Sunnydale had closed. Since then, she'd worked some with Buffy and Giles in gathering and helping all the newly called slayers. After three years, it seemed the newly formed Watcher's Council had things well in hand. She'd managed to finish her degree at Oxford while she was in England. Then she'd come back to the States to get her graduate degree at Columbia. Xander, Buffy, and Dawn had been dying to be back in the U.S. and had begged her to try a school in New York. Dawn and Buffy had both started classes at NYU while Xander had snagged a job building things for Stark Industry. It was great to focus on normal things for once and not the constant stress of saving the world.
When Xander had suggested Willow apply for a position in their robotics division, she'd laughed. However, he'd been serious. Tony had recently revealed to the world that he was a bona fide superhero, so Xander thought that it was kismet that his company employ the semi-retired Scoobies. Now there was an entire league of them around. The Scoobies could try to be normal for a change. Buffy had an interview scheduled next week at Stark's. Willow had been more than surprised when Pepper Potts, the CEO, had called to schedule a personal interview. Normally, human resources did an initial interview and often the hiring. That was how it had been with Xander.
Buffy had been unable to resist slipping into the cafe where Willow's interview was going to be held. She'd thought it a bit strange that the CEO of such a huge corporation had both wanted to personally interview Willow and had suggested a place not on Stark's property. Then again, Buffy mused, they may own the coffee shop since it was just across the street. Buffy was excited for Willow, though, and hoped she'd land the job she was dying to have.
It had been great to see Willow become passionate again about something besides magic. After their initial year of collecting the newly called slayers, Willow had started talking about going back to school. Her relationship with Kennedy-much to Buffy's relief-had fallen apart. There were so many slayers now that Willow didn't feel her particular expertise was needed as much. Buffy had been too busy to join her-not that she'd ever get into Oxford with her spotty academic history. When Willow had gotten the first recruitment letter from Columbia, Xander and Dawn had latched on to the idea of going back home to America. Buffy wanted Dawn to have a normal life again, so she had agreed. Dawn had decided to start classes at NYU and convinced Buffy to go back to school. Somehow Buffy had managed to get a history degree. It wasn't something she could use for anything career wise because she had no desire for more schooling. Finishing the degree had been something she felt she needed to do. Her mom would've been so proud. Giles had been. He had flown in for graduation last spring, leaving Faith in charge back in England.
Faith had surprised Buffy by stepping up in ways Buffy had never thought she was capable of. She'd taken a backseat to Buffy in the beginning when they went to Europe. Then when Buffy wanted her to do more, she'd stepped up. Faith had been serious about being a better friend and slayer. Finally, they had become real friends. It'd been Faith who'd first supported her desire to leave the Council and come back to the United States. She'd done enough, Faith said. Now it was time for Faith to earn back some redemption. Faith was currently in Ohio where half of the newly acquired slayers had gathered. The hellmouth there was gearing up to be a hand full. Buffy was confident that Faith and the girls could handle it without her, however.
The very attractive Pepper Potts entered the coffee shop. Buffy had found a table behind Willow, so that her presence wouldn't distract Will. She'd brought a book, so she could pretend to read. Buffy so wanted this job for Willow. She'd lost so much and sacrificed everything in Buffy's fight. She wanted Willow to have everything she desired. Willow deserved this.
Willow stood and waved when she recognized the famous CEO and fellow redhead enter the coffee shop. Buffy thought she'd been clever sneaking in the side door and sitting at a table behind Willow, but Will had known she was there the moment she came in. She'd spent so many years surrounded by slayer energy that its presence was always tangible to Willow. Buffy thought it was her witch power that kept Buffy from ever being able to sneak up on her. Buffy didn't seem to get that the atmosphere of every room was changed as soon as she walked into it. Sunnydale had so much mystical energy that the residents never picked up as much on Buffy's presence. However, when they'd moved away, Willow had easily began to sense the difference when Buffy and Faith were around. The arrival of more and more slayers had only increased the presence of power.
"Willow Rosenberg?" Pepper asked. Willow nodded and returned Pepper's smile as she sat down across from Willow. "I'm so sorry I'm late. Tony has trouble letting me out of his sight these days."
"It's understandable," Willow said. And it was. Willow and her friends had known that aliens had to exist in other realms when one had come to Sunnydale to clean up Glory's mess of crazies. They hadn't been particularly surprised when an invasion had occurred in New York. The Chitauri Army had used the tesseract to open a portal. Tony Stark had nearly died closing it. Buffy had spent her energy killing some that had escaped the initial showdown. Luckily, she'd managed to do it under the radar. Then a new threat had popped up that had almost killed Pepper and left Tony presumed dead for a time.
"Is he really giving up his suit?" Willow couldn't resist asking. Xander had been majorly geeked out when his new boss had revealed he was a superhero. Willow had fallen a bit in love herself to discover another person was using their brain power and not some mystical empowerment to make a difference. Tony had quit his playboy ways when he'd fallen in love with Pepper. He'd entrusted her with his company, quit making nuclear bombs and weaponry, and spent his energy with his Iron Man suits and his renewal energy projects. Then after the alien invasion he'd gone a bit off the rails, pissed off some nut job, had his house blown up, and nearly gotten Pepper killed more than once. It had spurred him to destroy his suits. He was completely unpredictable and utterly fascinating.
Pepper shrugged. "Well, he got the shrapnel removed finally from his chest, so he doesn't need the magnet there. He can wear a suit if he wants, but he says he doesn't need the suit anymore. He is Iron Man," she shared with a chuckle. "The reason I'm interviewing you is because no one knows Tony better than I do. The position would require you to work closely with him, and that isn't easy to do. He's got the attention span of a child, the manners of a teenage boy, and the mind of Einstein. He can go days without much sleep or food if he's immersed on a project. He never forgets anything and absorbs knowledge like a sponge. He doesn't suffer fools or deal well with people he feels can't keep up."
Willow grinned as Potts recited Tony Spark's flaws and gifts. Between Faith, Buffy, and Xander, Willow thought she'd be able to more than manage to deal with Tony's little quirks. She felt exhilarated just listening to Potts.
"Tony has decided that he wants to start a real robotics division. He's been using robots as his personal toys for years, but he's never tried to make them a commercial success. Now that he's decided to quit tinkering with his suits, it's his new obsession. When Tony's obsessed, there's no stopping him," Pepper shared.
"I've had some experience tinkering with robots myself," Willow said with a smile as she recalled the Buffy-bot.
Pepper opened up the folder she'd brought. "You double majored in computer science and electrical engineering in Oxford after starting at a small college in California?"
"Yeah, the school and town was destroyed in the earthquake. Our mentor was from England, so we followed him there afterwards," Willow said.
"I hope your family is okay," Pepper said.
"Yes, there were clear signs of something bad about to happen. Most of the town was deserted when the earthquake hit," Willow explained. Even the people of Sunnydale could no longer pretend what was happening in the town was normal those last months.
"You did your master thesis on robotics. What made you interested in that field?" Pepper asked.
Willow explained meeting a guy who'd made a sex-bot, and Pepper laughed. "You're joking?"
"Nope. It was further proof that I was right to give up guys. There were two that were made to look extremely human. One was made for this perv that had a thing for my best friend. Somehow I ended up fixing it when it broke down," Willow admitted.
"Why would you do that?"
"Well, our town had a nasty gang problem. The robot was very strong and programmed to fight. My friends and I used it some to fight off the bad guys," Willow said. Buffy and she had decided to keep things as truthful as possible without revealing the supernatural components. With the changes in the world now, they felt Stark's would be a bit more open than some. However, it was best not to test the theory so soon.
Pepper looked impressed. Then she looked down at the file again. "You don't have any prior job experience, right?"
"Well, I helped my friend at his magic shop selling stuff, but I did that voluntarily. I've been focused mostly on my education," Willow admitted. "Is that a problem?" She suddenly felt anxious and inadequate.
Pepper shook her head. "No, it's not. Tony actually prefers people with no experience. He says he doesn't have to break them of any bad habits. He likes people moldable. Do you consider yourself that?" Pepper asked.
Willow nodded eagerly. "Absolutely! I love learning new things and would be completely devoted to my job. I'm single and gay, so I don't expect to be having children any time soon," Willow shared. If the company was homophobic, it was best to find out now.
"So you'd be immuned to Tony's natural charm and charisma and won't fall in love with him and quit after he breaks your heart?" Pepper asked with a smile, only half-joking.
Willow's eyes widened in surprise at the question. "Does that happen?" she asked.
Pepper nodded and sighed. "Too damn much. He either offends and pisses people off or he charms them utterly. Both cause lawsuits. Believe me, your sexual orientation has now moved you to the top of the list!"
"That's gotta be a first!" Willow said with a laugh.
Pepper grinned and Willow fell just a tiny bit in love. Not really, but it was so great to talk to one of her heroes. Pepper, like Willow, knew what it was like to constantly be in the shadow of greatness. Yet she'd managed to carve out a place for herself next to him and not behind him. She and Pepper had so much in common, it seemed to Willow.
"Well, I need to talk to Tony and schedule a time you can meet him for a second interview," Pepper said. She always said that even though Tony always trusted her choices. The meeting would just be a formality. It saved Pepper the headache that would come later if Tony had an instant dislike to her choice. "He's partial to redheads, so your chances are good."
Willow laughed again, feeling amazing that her first interview was going so well. Pepper got to her feet and shook Willow's hand. When she walked out of the cafe, Willow turned to Buffy with a happy grin.
Buffy got up. "So you knew I was here?" she asked.
"Of course! I always know when you're in a room," Willow said.
"Let's go find Xander. He's working at the building next door, so you can tell us both about it," Buffy suggested. The coffee house was across the street from Stark Industry, who owned several buildings on the block. When they got outside, they heard a scream from the alley next door.
Both ladies ran to the alley. Willow was dismayed to see three guys manhandling Pepper Potts. One was trying to take her purse from her, and the other had his arm around her throat with a knife against it.
It never occurred to either women to call the police. Instead, Buffy and Willow hurried toward the danger.
"Look at this, Will. Three against one. Maybe we should even the odds," Buffy said with an eager grin.
Willow laughed. They didn't spend as much time killing demons anymore, but New York had a lot of dumb criminals Buffy got to slap around occasionally. "I don't know. I just got my nails done," she joked.
Pepper looked in concern at the two ladies. "Go get the police!" she ordered.
"Sorry. That's not our style," Buffy said as she grabbed the closest guy whose back was toward her and threw him hard against the nearby wall.
Pepper's eyes widened in surprise. Then she wondered if Willow had designed her own personal bodyguard. She was so getting the job!
"You're going to get your friend killed!" the guy holding the knife yelled, causing Pepper to cry out as the knife pressed into her throat.
Willow chanted a spell and held out her hand. The knife disappeared and reappeared in her hand. "Oh, this little thing? I think it's better off in my hand," Willow said casually.
Pepper had trouble believing what she'd saw. The girl hadn't used telepathy since the knife had disappeared and reappeared. But she had teleported it. The guy kept Pepper in a headlock, so she couldn't get away. She saw the small blonde woman exchange blows with the second guy. It wasn't long before the man was knocked out and fell to the ground.
Buffy looked at the remaining guy. "You should never assume that female equals weak," she told the guy still holding Pepper. Pepper realized the woman had a point. She stomped down hard on the guy's foot and elbowed him as hard as she could in the stomach, causing him to gasp. She stepped away and turned to see Happy running across the street. Pepper moved away as Happy pulled out his stun gun and electrocuted the guy unconscious.
"Are you okay?" Happy asked, gasping for breath after his run. His security team had alerted him to an altercation the cameras had picked up. When they spotted Pepper, he'd ran to help, praying he wasn't too late. Tony would kill him if anything happened to her. Not to mention he'd be heartbroken himself.
"I am. Thanks to these two ladies," Pepper said, gesturing to Buffy and Willow.
Willow gave her a nervous smile and hoped that Pepper was as cool about the witch thing as she was the lesbian thing.
A short time later, the two women were ushered up to Tony Stark's office. He had Pepper on a small sofa being checked over by a doctor. "I'm fine, Tony. I told you!" she exclaimed in exasperation.
"Why then do I see a cut on your throat? YOUR THROAT
!" Tony shouted. "Someone had a knife to your throat!" The man was obviously freaked out and very, very angry.
"And Happy has them in custody. It's just a nick," she assured him.
Tony took a deep breath, trying to calm down. He'd barely recovered from his battle with Killian, who'd nearly killed Pepper. He still had nightmares. Now a simple mugging had almost taken her from him. "What were you doing going anywhere without Happy? Weren't you the one who said security was needed? You said even I needed a team?"
"I just went across the street. The guard watched me go and said he'd be watching. I didn't think anything about it," Pepper admitted. "When I came out of the coffee shop, a guy came up to me and pushed me so fast into the alley, I didn't even have time to scream."
"Their head of security is named Happy?" Buffy whispered to Willow. Willow ssh'd her.
Tony gave the women a sharp look. His penetrating eyes studied them. Buffy was unused to being on the receiving end of such a look and tried not to squirm.
"You saved Pepper. Ask me for anything in this world and maybe even a few others, and I will find a way to get it to you," he vowed, meaning every word. Pepper had become his everything. She'd always been the only one who never left him, who'd love him and cared for him. When he'd finally saw her as a woman, his life had changed forever. He could handle a lot of thing. However, he knew that he wouldn't survive her loss.
Willow's mouth fell open a bit at his offer. In a panic, she gave Pepper a beseeching glance.
Pepper got to her feet. "Tony, this is Willow Rosenberg. I was just interviewing her for a position in your new robotics division," Pepper said.
"You're hired," Tony said simply. "You can begin interviewing your staff immediately."
Willow's head started buzzing at his words. Surely, he wasn't putting her in charge? "What? My staff? You're kidding, right?" she asked, dumbfounded.
"You're the Willow Rosenburg who graduated from Sunnydale High School, a school that mysteriously blew up at your graduation ceremony. You scored off the charts in every aptitude test you ever took, especially in science and math. Computers are your thing, but you've turned your attention to robotics," Tony recited from memory.
Willow was flabbergasted that Tony Spark knew so much about her. She looked at Buffy, who looked impressed and amused. "You can do it, Will. You can do anything," Buffy assured her.
Tony's attention turned to her. He glanced at Pepper, who ventured to ask, "Is this your security robot?"
Buffy couldn't contain her laughter at that suggestion. "Well, been there and done that. But no. I'm not a robot," Buffy said. "I'm Buffy Summers, Willow's best friend."
Willow answered Pepper's unspoken question. "Yes, this is the friend who did have a robot replica made of her. But the Buffy-bot got destroyed by a motorcycle gang," Willow admitted. No need to mention that the gang members were demons.
"You made a human robot?" Tony asked impressed.
"No, this guy we went to school with did. I just maintained it and fixed it a lot," Willow admitted.
"Find that guy and hire him," Tony ordered. He took a step back when Willow's eyes turned black at the thought of Warren being alive and given a job next to her.
Buffy grabbed her hand. "Will," she admonished softly.
"The sick bastard is dead," Willow said grimly. She took a deep, calming breathe. Her eyes went back to normal.
Tony looked at Pepper; once again communicating without words. "I won't ask what happened," Tony said. "At least not yet." He looked back at Buffy. Her name was familiar. "Buffy Summers. Why do I know your name?"
"Well, I did apply for a position in your security department. I have an interview next week," Buffy admitted.
Tony looked at Pepper. "She fought off two men very effortlessly," she shared.
"I know better than anyone that appearances can be deceiving," Tony said. "Do you know Natasha?"
Buffy shook her head, assuming correctly he was referring to the lone female that was sighted on camera as fighting with Tony and his Avenger friends as they fought off the alien invasion. Buffy didn't know if Natasha was a slayer. It hadn't been confirmed. Giles had said the lone woman had too long of a documented history as a government agent to be one, though.
"Are you human?" Pepper asked Willow.
"Why would you ask that?" Tony wondered with a frown. Changing eye colors didn't necessarily signify extra-terrestrial.
"She used magic of some kind to take the knife from the man. It was against my neck. Then it was in her hand," Pepper said, looking at Tony.
"Well, I'm sort of a practicing witch. But I'm 100% human," Willow admitted.
"She's an extremely powerful witch," Buffy said proudly.
"Are you one, too?" Pepper asked.
Buffy shook her head. "I've just had a lot of training," she said. Giles had some friends fabricate real martial arts training that would explain her skills. She didn't think Tony knowing she was superhuman would be a big deal, but Giles worried about S.H.I.E.L.D. getting its hands on her or any of the slayers. After the initiative, they were all wary of government agencies and their agendas.
"Magic? It does not exist in this world," Tony said firmly. "If you were Asgardian, I'd buy it. But you were born on earth, right?"
"Yes, I'm an earthling," Willow said with a smile. She wasn't going to argue with her new employer.
He dismissed her and looked again at Buffy. "So Buffy Summers, you don't have to go to your interview next week. You're hired," Tony said. He looked at Pepper. "What position was she being interviewed for exactly?"
"As your personal bodyguard. Happy can't take the stress and none of our current employees in his department applied for the job. They know better. Since you gave up the suit, you are vulnerable," Pepper said.
"Why can't I just have Banner as my personal bodyguard?" Tony asked with a mischievous grin.
"Because the collateral damage that would occur every time the Hulk made an appearance would be a nightmare. Not to mention a PR nightmare," Pepper said, shuddering at the thought. She looked at Buffy who seemed unimpressed with the things they were talking about. There was something about her. "How about we take you on a trial basis? If working so closely with Tony is too much, you come to me, and I'll find another position in the company. No questions asked."
"I'm not that bad," Tony said defensively.
"Yes, you are," Pepper said with a fond look.
Tony sighed. "Yeah, I guess I am," he admitted. He gave Buffy a probing look. "Do you think you can handle working with a demanding and temperamental boss?"
Buffy grinned. "Oh, I think I can manage," she said confidently.
"Ladies, I can't think you enough for your assistance today," Pepper said, holding out her hand to both of them. "If you will go down to the second floor to HR, they can begin the paper work. I will find you and talk salaries."
"Anything you want," Tony said breezily.
"No, Tony. We have specific guidelines to follow," Pepper said pointedly.
"Add 10% at least. They saved your life. They deserve more. Give them company cars and an expense card," Tony added. Money was nothing to him.
Buffy and Willow's eyes widened at his words. Neither had expected so much. They both had saved countless lives in the past decade, yet no one had ever really offered a monetary reward. Once Anya had suggested Buffy start charging for her services, and Buffy had been horrified at the suggestion. If Anya could see them now, she'd be very impressed.
"Not necessary," Buffy said quickly. Willow echoed her words.
"You'll earn it working with Tony," Pepper assured them. "When you're done, come back up to my offices, and I'll go over more specifics."
In a daze, the two women left his office to follow Pepper's instructions.
As soon as they left, Pepper looked at Tony and said, "They are not normal. The girl really is a witch. I saw it with my own two eyes. It was not a trick. She teleported a knife."
Tony frowned, his mind struggling to accept the implications. "Her eyes did turn completely black for a minute there," he said recalling.
"Not only that, Tony, but you should've seen them. They were completely unafraid of the three
muggers!" Pepper shared. "They made jokes. Willow stood and watched as Buffy took care of the men, not surprised by Buffy's strength or skill. One guy had to have been a hundred pounds heavier than her, but she still threw him like he weighed nothing!"
"Really?" Tony said, intrigued.
"Could you not sense there was something different about her?" Pepper asked.
"She's small, blonde, and beautiful," he said with a shrug. "You know other women barely register to me when you're in the room."
She rolled her eyes, doubting that. The man noticed everything. "That wasn't what I meant. She's different."
"Maybe she's a master assassin like the Black Widow," Tony suggested.
"I don't know. You can have your friends check her out," Pepper suggested.
"I can check her out myself," Tony said. "It'll be fun."
"The secret spy club doesn't advertise on the web. Call Natasha," Pepper advised.
"So were you going to hire Willow before she helped you?" Tony asked.
Pepper nodded. "Yes. She's brilliant and will be immune to your charms," Pepper said with a sly grin.
"What? Not possible!" he protested.
"She's not into men," Pepper said.
Tony grinned. "Really? Do you think the two of them are lovers?" he asked eagerly.
Pepper rolled her eyes. Guys were so predictable when it came to some things. "No. They didn't give off lover like vibes. Willow called Buffy her best friend, not lover. She was open about her orientation, so I think she would've said if that was the case," Pepper said.
"What about Buffy? Are you worried she'll fall for me?" Tony asked, laughter in his eyes.
"That'll be your problem. Don't go enticing women that can kick your ass. You may not like what happens," Pepper said with a smile.
"You're supposed to defend my honor," Tony said, grabbing her and pulling her against him.
"I don't have time for that," she said, trying and failing to look stern. He was incorrigible, but he was hers. There was no one else on earth like him.
He kissed her, and she melted against him. Then he put his forehead against hers, looking at her. "Please don't get yourself killed," he begged softly. "I couldn't survive your loss. It'd be the one thing that'd defeat me."
"I'm sorry," she said quietly. And she was. She never dreamed a mugger would dare attack her. Most in the city knew she was Iron Man's girlfriend. "I will be more careful."
"You better," Tony said sternly. Pepper stepped away. She smiled as she heard Tony say, "JARVIS, find out everything you can on Buffy Summers and Sunnydale, California."
If the new bodyguard had any secrets, Tony would find them. Tony didn't notice her leaving, his mind already miles away. His dismissal never bothered her. She understood her man. More importantly, she accepted him. She hoped the two new hires would be as understanding.