Hey everyone, this is the first chapter of my new story! I have already announced it recently, but I decided to start it now spontaneously. I'm curious to hear your thoughts to this. The first chapter is very short, but it's more like an introduction. I'm nervous to see your reactions. So please let me know! I've never written a topic like this, so it's also kind of new for me. And yes, I'm kind of making a secret of why Pepper is famous, but you'll get to know it soon.
I don't own the characters or places!
"No, Joe, it doesn't work like that! I can't just leave now. I'm working." I said into the phone and glanced at the clock. It was four in the afternoon. If I didn't leave in the next five minutes, I would be late for my appointment with the press this evening. I couldn't afford that. Not now. Not after I'd come so far.
"Baby, you always say that." Joe sighed. "Why can't you relax? You're always so stressed, it can't be good for you." He sounded annoyed, something I got used to in the past months.
"Relax?" I laughed dryly. "I don't have time for that. Look, we should talk again later. I've got to leave now. There's this important appointment this evening..." I stood up and started to collect my things from the table. "I don't want to be late."
"Sometimes, I wonder why we're still together at all." Joe muttered and even through the phone I could hear the sad tone of his voice. I had already reached the door of the hotel room, but then I hesitated.
"What do you mean?" I asked quietly, trying to process the meaning of his words.
"You don't care about me anymore. Not since you started your career!" Now he sounded frustrated. "We barely see each other and when we do, you just talk about your job. It's like nothing else matters. You never even ask how my day was or what I've been doing!"
It was true. We saw each other about once a month and if we did, I always kept telling him stories about my life. Or I was too tired to even talk at all. My work was taking all my strength. Until now, I just didn't realize it. "I'm sorry, but I'm sure it will get better -"
"It won't!" He interrupted me harshly. "You don't care about me anymore, Virginia! Don't say that you do, I know it would be a lie."
"Joe..." I started hesitantly, but didn't know what to say. I glanced at the clock again. I had to leave now, otherwise I'd really be too late. "We can figure this out, let's talk later, after the interview."
"What if I don't want to talk to you about it?" His cold tone surprised me. Normally, he never reacted like this. I always thought that he understood how important the job was for me. "Shouldn't you leave? You might be late if I steal more of your time."
I breathed in deeply. "Fine. Goodbye, Joe." I ended the call and left the hotel room. Now I really had to hurry. On my way downstairs, I thought of the conversation again. Joe and I had been together for nearly four years by now. We'd met at university and it didn't take long until we were together. He was the love of my life. Or at least that's what I thought back then. Right now, I wasn't so sure anymore. Because he was right, I realized. I didn't even know what he was doing right now! Just that he'd started to work for this advertisement company, but that had been months ago...
I left the hotel and breathed in the cold air. I couldn't think of my personal life right now. I had to remain professional. The car was already waiting for me and once I sat down in the back, the driver started to manoeuvrer through the crowded streets of New York.
"What took you so long?" My manager, Phil, asked. "You wanted to be here ten minutes ago! We're going to be late."
"I'm sorry, Phil. It won't happen again." I hoped that he wouldn't ask what had caused my delay, but I knew I wouldn't be that lucky.
"You look troubled. What happened?" I was working together with Phil Coulson for over two years by now, but we had known each other much longer. He was like a part of my family.
"Joe called me." I sighed. "He doesn't understand that this is so important to me. He keeps insisting that I should come home and spend more time with him."
Phil frowned. "He knows that you're busy at the moment. Now it is very important to work hard. It never seemed to bother him before. I always thought he supported you."
"That's what I thought as well." I muttered and looked out of the window thoughtfully. "Seems like I was wrong."
"Virginia..." Phil said hesitantly and placed a hand on my arm. "I'm here if you want to talk about it. However, it might not be a good idea to do it now. The interview -"
"Is really important, I know." I ended his sentence and turned to him. After another deep breath, I had gained control over myself again and pushed all thoughts of Joe away. I would deal with that later. "So what do you have for me?" I pointed at the papers he was still holding.
"More requests for interviews. There's also that important meeting in LA next week, the one where the next steps will be discussed." He hesitated only for a few moments, but I noticed it anyway. "And you got more letters."
I raised my eyebrows. "Just like the ones before?"
He grimaced. "Worse."
That made me pause. "How can it be worse?"
"Let's just say the threats are getting more graphic. Not just announcing violence but also describing what they want to do." He sighed. "They want you to step back."
"They always want that." I muttered. "Nothing to be worried about." I decided after a few more moments. "Ever since I started my career, I got those letters. They always talk very much, but so far, nothing happened. Those are just empty words." I said with a look at the letters in Phil's hand.
"I'm not so sure anymore." Phil threw in. "Maybe we should take precautionary measures."
"Such as?" The scepticism in my voice was obvious.
"A friend has recommended a very good security company. They do everything. Monitoring, surveillance, research, personal security. It's expensive, but I think it would be worth it. We can't risk that something happens to you now." He sounded worried and I smiled calmingly.
"I know that you're concerned, but you're overreacting, Phil. Nothing will happen to me. Those people just want to scare me." He didn't look convinced, but he nodded.
"I hope you're right." For some time, we were both silent. I tried not to get lost in thoughts again. I had to focus on the interview that was going to come. It should be easy. Talking about my job and my motives for some time. Nothing else. Trying to charm people. I hoped that I wouldn't look tense. The conversation with Joe was still bothering me, even if I tried to avoid thinking of it.
To distract myself, I reached for the mirror in my bag and checked my appearance. Long, red hair that fell over my shoulders in soft curls. Green eyes, surrounded my makeup. Not too much, of course, I had to look serious. Red lips, not too dark or shiny. The white blouse was also clean and in place. Just like my necklace, the one I got from my parents so many years ago. It was my lucky charm.
I breathed in deeply and finally, I was able to let go of all my negative emotions. This evening, I would make a good impression. People would like me and what I was going to say. Everything would work out.
"We're there." Phil announced when the car stopped. "Are you ready? Lots of people are out there."
I nodded. "Let them come." I said with a smile. After one last deep breath, I got out of the car.
The reporters were surrounding me immediately. Many of them were just taking photos, but a few also tried to talk to me.
"Ms. Potts, what will the interview be about? Will you discuss your new plans?"
"Are you nervous because of what's going to come?"
"Ms. Potts, please wait. You've made a very important decision concerning your life. Do you regret your choice of career already or do you still enjoy your work?"
"Of course she's enjoying her work!" Another person snapped at the last question. "Otherwise, she wouldn't be here!"
I ignored all those people and was glad when the door of the studio shut behind us.
"Everything alright?" Phil asked quietly.
I nodded. "I thought that I would be used to this by now."
He chuckled. "I think you'll never get used to it."
"Ms. Potts, it's a pleasure to have you here!" A loud voice interrupted our short conversation. It was a tall, dark haired woman who walked towards us, smiling widely. "You're such an inspiration to all of us here. My name is Nora and I'm going to show you your personal area. There, you can relax again before the interview. You have about thirty minutes left."
I smiled at her gratefully. "That would be awesome, Nora." She wasn't the type of woman who tried to make useless conversation and I was glad about it. I tried not to show it, but secretly I was nervous. I always was before events like this.
The thirty minutes passed faster than expected. Then Nora showed me the way to the studio.
"Today, we have a very special guest. Please welcome Ms. Virginia Potts..."
I breathed in deeply and entered the room with a wide smile on my lips.
"It's so good to be home." I muttered and opened my eyes.
"You should enjoy your time here. It won't last long." Phil said calmly.
"I know." I sighed. "But it's also good that things are finally happening. We've worked so hard to get here."
"It will be worth it." I always envied Phil for his endless optimism. The car stopped and I smiled, happy to be home. I just closed the door of the car when I heard Phil gasp in shock.
I turned around and froze. My bag was falling to the ground, but I barely noticed it. I was looking at my house, but it didn't look like it anymore. The white walls were dirty, windows were smashed and the front door was open. I ignored the warning voices of Phil and the driver and ran inside. Everything was destroyed.
Then Phil was next to me and wrapped his arms around my shoulders, pushing me outside again. I heard that our driver Happy was calling the police, but I didn't care. My whole life was destroyed. So the threats had been real after all.
Hours later, I was sitting in a hotel room on the couch, right next to Phil. He'd placed a blanket over me and handed me a cup of tea. I was still trying to process what happened to my home and smiled at him gratefully.
"The police called. It's not as bad as it looked. Apparently, nothing was stolen. They just destroyed as much as possible in a short amount of time, mostly mirrors..." He sighed. "I'm so sorry, Virginia. And there's something else, but maybe you should see it later..."
"Show me." I whispered.
"You're not feeling well right now..."
"Show me!" At my loud voice, he flinched. Then he pulled his phone out of his pocket and showed me a single picture. It was my bedroom and there was a piece of paper hanging on the wall directly above the bed. You'll die. Only those words and nothing else.
Was this also an empty threat or real? My heart was beating fast in my chest, but I wasn't sure if I should be afraid or angry at the people who did this.
"I'm not going to back off." I whispered.
"No one expects you to." Phil said softly. "I called the security company."
At this, I closed my eyes. I didn't want help, but couldn't stop noticing that I might need it. This looked more serious than I liked. "Which one?"
"It's called Stark Industries."
I frowned. "And you're sure that it's a security company?"
He nodded. "They also produce systems for surveillance. The other parts of the business were included later."
That didn't sound very promising, but I kept quiet. Phil saw my doubts, but he didn't say anything. Instead, he turned on the TV.
"Today, we have a very special guest." Was the first announcement we heard. "Please welcome Ms. Virginia Potts from California, who's running for president this year!"