1963-12-04 - Vampires and the Viennese Waltz
Summary: Pepper and Strange end up in the same beginners ballroom class together. They realize they have more in common than they first thought. Bonding over their mutual hatred of vampires occurs. Pepper tries to relax.
Related: All the old vampire logs
Theme Song: None
strange pepper 

Word-of-mouth is generally the best way to find those hidden gems within a huge city like New York. Ignore the flashing signs, the ritzy lights, the broadly-typed expanses of billboard proclaiming this and that. If you've heard about a place multiple times from multiple people and all share their experience with a grin and a glitter in their eyes — clearly, you need to go inquire.

Word-of-mouth has led him to stand here in Midtown on the sidewalk, one hand holding a cleanly-creased piece of paper detailing an address to a loft. Strange hums thoughtfully down at the scrawl before glancing a bit dubiously back up at the building. It's an older design, early 1900s, maybe in need of a little landscaping, but the entire third floor seems to be lit from within and active. There's a shadow that passes the shuttered windows and it seems to glide rather than walk.

"Well, this must be it then," he murmurs as he folds up the paper and shoves it into his Belstaff's pockets before approaching the front door. It opens to reveal a much nicer interior.

The place houses a good number of little shops, all offering various sundries that pertain to dance as a whole, and he pauses to admire a pair of men's shoes offered up on display beside a door. With a sniff of a laugh, he pulls himself away and pauses only once more to consult the directory in bronze placards at the base of the stairs. There it is, "LeFevrier's Dance — 3". By the time he reaches the top, he's nearly finished divesting himself of his coat. The black garment ends up slung over one arm as he follows the sound of soft classical music towards a set of double-doors. Already, the man is grinning.

The dance floor itself is polished to a sheen, a deep lustrous amber pitted by years of use but not neglected in the least. Flat and smooth and loved. It doesn't look like it's going to be a big group, he notes as he enters the room, sticking to the carpeted portion of the studio. Folded chairs are pushed back up against the wall and a few attendees either sit or gather in small groups. Dance draws everyone from all walks of life, men and women alike, and the good Doctor allows his eyes to wander just briefly over them all before trying to decide who happens to be the teacher. Coat and crimson scarf are draped across the back of one chair (with a whispered command to the scarf to behave!!!) before he stands there, hands in pockets of dress pants, and scans the room as well. A long wall of mirror, of course, and his reflection looks circumspectly back at him. The dress shirt is cobalt-blue with a slight sheen as to indicate its fine weave. The clock is observed, reflected backwards, of course, to indicate five minutes until start time. Where is the teacher now…?


To say it had been a bad few weeks was putting it mildly. But, Pepper couldn't work any longer. Tony literally wouldn't *let* her work any longer. And Saturday date night was beyond depressing to spend alone. So, she's taken some advice from one of her girlfriends and decided to try a dance class. Something that would help her in the various galas she needed to attend for both Tony and the community work she did with Fisk, something that might help her meet a far nicer man than the (apparent) assassin she had been dating, and something where she could be distracted enough not to dwell on the miserable. So, she did her research, and it brought her here.

But two minutes after Strange has stepped into the room, the door opens again, admitting a slightly short, beautifully built redhead in the latest elegant style. She was told to wear a properly flowing skirt and heels, something made to be twirling around a dance floor. So, she's put herself into a stunningly emerald gown with a fuller skirt, more of a 50s style, but it looks wonderful on her and emphasizes that tiny waste and not so tiny chest quite nicely. Her red hair is drawn up off her face in soft curls cascading down the back of her neck. She has the rawness of slight exhaustion around her eyes but it's all artfully hidden with a skillful make up job. She gazes across the room, slightly nervous and slightly hopeful as she shrugs out of the black overcoat she wore, fully exposing that green dress.


He hadn't precisely been contemplating the shine on his shoes, but it does take the sound of the door opening once more to make the good Doctor glance up. A woman, dressed in an entirely-appropriate gown, enters and he notes that she is, in fact, a red-head. Hmm. Perhaps this is the teacher? Maybe she's French? Actually, no, with that hair color, she's more than likely to be Irish. Though maybe she married into French? His steel-blue eyes give her a quick, calculating once-over before noting the absence of a ring on her hand. No, not married. Poor thing. With that build and the air of apprehension around her, she'll be a target for many of the perspective single gentlemen here looking for their other half.

Oh well, never hurts to ask. Strange walks over and offers a professional smile as he asks, "Excuse me, are you Miss LeFevrier? The teacher? I wanted to ask you a few questions if you are." He adopts a nonchalant sort of posture, one knee lightly bent, hands still within his pockets.


The elegant woman jumps a bit as a handsome, slightly older gentleman comes in her direction. She blinks in a touch of confusion, before realizing who he thinks she is and giving a little, husky voice laughed. "Oh! Oh…goodness, no. No. I'm just… just here to try it out. Sorry. I mean… I can generally answer questions, but I'm not certain I'm near the expert other's here might be." It's an odd thing for her, to admit that she's *not* good at something. That's a rarity which rankles her pride just a bit.

She then shifts, turning to hang her coat up on one of the hooks at the side of the room, showing her delicate shoulder blades as the dress nearly entirely bares the upper half of her back. There are a few old marks there, some scars, but the, old, twin puncture marks of her time with Dracula might be the most interesting thing to Strange. Even if other men would be enjoying that voice of her's as much as her body.


Those sharp eyes don't miss a thing, especially since the dress offers so much skin up for perusal. The scars could be dismissed as simple accident, but not the puncture marks. It's enough to cause him to inhale silently, draw up tall in apprehension, and blink the Sight over his eyes. The scarred hands slowly emerge from the pockets, fingers ready to form mudras. If this woman is vampire, not only is he out of here, but he'll be sure to deal with her appropriately. With appropriate amounts of vehemence.

Her aura reads clear, merely a mundane mortal, and swallowing in great relief, Strange quickly dismisses the power, returning his frosted-lilac irises back once more to steel-blue.

"I'm sorry, my mistake then," he replies with a slight ruefulness to his charming smile. Normally he's quite astute about identifying the leader at any gathering. "You're dressed so appropriately." Maybe she catches how the good Doctor idly scratches at the braided scarring at his throat, where the Bride caught him off-guard and nearly took everything from him even after he rebuffed her soundly with a handful of sunlight. Then he offers out this hand in a friendly manner. "Stephen Strange."


While Pepper is generally sharply observant of things in the office or business, after hours, in her personal life, she tends to be a wreck. She just doesn't have the same clarity of mind that comes in a board room or behind a desk. So, all those little motions and changes that Strange goes through? She's completely oblivious with her back turned. She misses it by seconds, turning back around to him with a warm, respectful sort of smile. He didn't seem nearly so sleezy as half the people she meets in bars or clubs. There was a certain safety with an older, elegant gentleman.

Maybe he just reminded her of Tony. As unhealthy as that thought is.

The name, however, makes her blue eyes go a bit wide and surprise dance across her features, "…Strange. I… I wrote you. You sent me… well… Goodness. Dr. Strange. You….you saved my life. I'm…Pepper. Pepper Potts. I… I wrote you for help, with the…" She motions slightly to her neck, almost self consciously, but the slight bit of trust she had for him suddenly triples within seconds. She looks both relieved and overwhelmingly grateful. "… I should have come to your place before now. To say thank you. I… It was rude, that I didn't, but… How does one say thank you for *that*? For getting their whole life back?"

The woman, a moment later, realizes his hand is out there. She somehow missed it in her overt gushing about his name, but then Pepper suddenly takes his scarred hand between her delicate palms an gives it a gentle, firm, eager shake. If the scarring disgusts her? She gives no show of it at all. She's just a bit more ginger than she might be with most business people.


Caught off-guard once again by this young woman, Strange loses some of that relaxation in his posture. His own name being thrown back at him, title and all, gains her a narrowed look that quickly lessens as he places her face in congruence with her name, only known before via a little note asking about information she should know nothing about. The Darkhold. He gives her mildly-enthusiastic shake a quick squeeze in response before releasing her hand.

"I remember this now. You asked about the book." That book. "Don't worry about it. If it helped you at all, and it sounds like it did," he adds with a pleased smile, "that's thanks enough for me. You'll have to tell me how you found out about the book sometime. I'd love to know." A bit of a drop in volume and pitch, a more pensive lilt combined with a glitter of curiosity in those eyes.

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of an older woman in a shin-length sleek ballroom gown in deep orange, clearly at least part silk by its gleam of fabric, who claps her hands once with all the power to make the sound like a crack of a gun.

"Alright, this is the 6:30pm Basic Ballroom class. If you are not here to dance and make a fool of yourself, you may leave." Her announcement is met with mostly silence from the general attendance, though one woman titters behind her hands and turns red. Strange glances from the grey-haired matron to Pepper, shrugs with a half-hidden smile, and back to the woman once more in time to see that stern expression turn suddenly gay and laugh. "I am kidding, my goodness. You New Yorkers. So serious." This could only be the teacher, LeFevrier, with that zipping accent on her words. "Put your coats aside and gather on the floor in a circle. We must introduce ourselves and then, on to the lessons."

The good Doctor extends a hand out towards the floor. "I guess we should go make fools of ourselves now? Though this is old hat for me, so unless she pulls any tricks, I'm not terribly concerned." And in fact, he's the first one out on the floor, leading the way to stand a respectful distance away and beside the old dance teacher.


"Well, perhaps if you give me a dance tonight, we might be able to catch up about it all." Pepper responds just as smoothly, now that she's gotten over her momentarily overwhelming gratitude. It must have been bad, whatever she went through, to break her normally calm, cool, collected nature. The walls are back in place and she looks smooth and elegant as ever. Especially as that call comes.

The commentary from the dance teacher earns a raised brow, but she follows Strange onto the floor. She wasn't going to be out-shone by anyone, or out couraged! She walks with a calm, straight forward elegance that says she's probably danced a time or two as well. But then, she's dressed for it. The laugh comes and Pepper's brows arch even higher. She murmurs beneath her breath to Strange, "The good teachers are all a bit crazy, aren't they?" And yes, New Yorkers are wound up! She settles onto the floor next to him, in that circle, a game little smile on her cupid's bow mouth.


Who could deny the redhead in emerald green a dance? Surely not a single gentleman in the room? The dance teacher waits until they're all assembled, a perfect even ten in number other than the matron in terra-cotta, before introducing herself.

"I am Jeanette LeFevrier, your teacher tonight. I run this company myself along with my husband, Tomas, who is currently guest-teaching at the Broadway Dance Center." Eyebrows go up around the room, including those of Strange. Whoa. These people knew what they were talking about then. The good Doctor nods to himself; words were all well and good, let's see the old dame in action.

Geez, this guy's ego.

Mrs. LeFevrier goes on to explain her several decades of dance experience as well as several public wins of dance contests here in New York as well as abroad. "However, you need not explain your experience. I will know soon enough," she adds, giving them a gimlet smile. "Merely your name and your occupation will do, perhaps why you chose to attend my lessons if you are brave enough." Her hand, though wrinkled with age, flips agilely over into Strange's personal space briefly to dictate him as the first to go. With a soft laugh, he looks out at everyone and nods in an oddly timeless greeting.

"I'm Stephen, I am a consultant within the field of neurosurgery, and I came here to see if it's as great as everyone says," he announces. Short and sweet. Thank god no one seems to recognize him without the addition of his rather-singular last name. He glances aside to Pepper and smirks. "Your turn."


Where as Strange probably has enough ego for this room, Pepper oddly doesn't. For a woman who should, she seems ever on the edge of being completely uncertain about herself. Maybe it's the exhaustion, or maybe it's just being a woman very much ensconced in a man's world. Or maybe it's being outside of her comfortable office and desk job where everything was familiar and made sense. Books make sense. Ledgers balance. People? Not so much. So, she watches everyone with slightly too wide eyes, the woman's explanation getting a respectful, almost eager nod. Pepper is, absolutely, a brown noser of a student.

Then it's time for them to introduce themselves. Neurosurgery? Pepper blinks to him, tilting her head slightly. While she knew he was a doctor, she thought it was far more the metaphysical sort, considering what she wrote him about. More and more intriguing. She can't hide that little, surprised smile, but quickly it's come to her turn and suddenly she's giving a nervous little laugh.

She blushes almost as prettily as she does everything else. But also almost as dark as her hair, not some put upon thing. Pepper is genuinely a little embarrassed about having to talk in front of everyone in a social setting. Press conferences were so much easier. "I'm Virginia Potts… ah, but, everyone just calls me Pepper. I'm the executive assistant of Tony Stark and manage most of Stark Industries. I… I guess I came here to… try and get my mind off things. Relax. They tell me I need to relax." She says that with the tone of a woman who actually doesn't know what that means and is rather skeptical about it's practice. Relaxation. PSH.


The rest of the circle is composed of a Tim who works in accounting, a Liam who partners in running a bakery, an Angelica who is a housewife and wanted to surprise her husband with dance lessons, and five others around the circle until the focus returns to Mrs. LeFevrier. She claps her hands once more at that loud level of sound — Strange flinches despite himself and side-glares at her briefly — before announcing that seeing as this was the most basic of levels, they would touch on the most basic of concepts. Who has prior dance experience? The good Doctor raises his hand along with two other gentleman and one woman (he doesn't catch if Pepper is courageous enough to raise hers, not looking at her in the moment, but granting LaFevrier his attention) and the dance teacher nods.

"Then I ask your patience while I fill in the others. Gentleman, ask politely for a lady's hand and lead her back a few steps more. You all need your space to practice."

Well, how serendipitous. Turning lightly on his heel, Strange offers out a palm to Pepper, who seems to be recovering from a case of the blushes. "Can I have this dance?" Better to snag her now than leave her to the whims of Tim From Accounting, who is glowering rather stormily at the good Doctor for beating him to the punch.


Pepper can practically *feel* Tim's eyes all over her. In theory, she was supposed to come here to relax, meet someone else, maybe find a nice accountant to date. In practice, Pepper's eyes have gone wide enough that she just wants to scream and run away. Accountants were so boring. She's awful at dating. What was she thinking?! She completely misses the question about having experience, so she can't rat herself out to the teacher. In fact, she's considering a polite way to escape out the door. There's no way to be polite about it. There are too few people there.

Fortunately, again, Strange comes to the rescue. He ducks in and offers the first dance, which gets an immediate smile of relief from Pepper, "I would be honored, *Stephen*." Pepper remembers to use the name he introduced himself as, so to not out him to anyone else here. Little details like that? She'll always catch. She then slips her fingertips into his and lets herself be lead away from that glaring Tim. Once they're settled on the floor, she murmurs beneath her breath again. "…Thank you. I… really don't know what I'm doing here, but… I know I didn't come to spend the whole night getting felt up."


Happy enough to lead her away from said Tim, especially in light that she actually admits aloud the fear of being inappropriately touched. Standing as the lead in a pair in a much large expansion of the previous circle, Strange grants the man a very narrow, scalpel-thin glare that is eventually enough to cause the accountant to look away and pay attention to the woman he actually asked to dance.

"You let me know the second he touches you wrong. I'll speak with him," he murmurs beneath LeFevrier's explanations of time count in conjunction with musical pieces. As Sorcerer. And that means not just words, but Words. "It'll get easier though, I promise. I had two left feet when I started dancing." The darkness in eyes and expression leaves his face as he gives her a cajoling smile. "You've danced before then?"


"I… I can fight my own battles. Besides, you sort of just get… accustomed to it, after a while." Pepper admits, about the inappropriate touching. Sadly, it is very much the life of someone who looks like her and dares to dress to flaunt it. She knows that she invites such attentions, inappropriate or not. She shrugs it off with the tired acceptance most women find by the time they hit their mid twenties — whether it's healthy or not, it's just the way life is.

She does settle comfortably in with him, her body uprighting itself in proper dance posture and elegant, bare arm almost seeming to float on top of his. Clearly, she must have *some* experience to know that stance alone. She gives a slight smile, "…a few times. Put through classes growing up but.. it's been a long while since then." She's still a perfectionist. A perfectionist with a LONG memory. She won't be near rusty as she fears. "And I'm finding myself at more and more… rather lavish affairs. For business, but… people are expected to comport themselves properly. So, while I've been kicked out of the office to 'relax', I might as well do something which… helps business in the long run, at least." Ever working.


LeFevrier moves on to the basic steps of the Waltz now — how wonderful, it's extremely familiar territory for the good Doctor, so he can definitely focus on side-chatting rather than actively listening — and Pepper does echo admission with the proper form to the follower half of things.

"That's how I came into learning it, for formal events. Back when I was active in neurosurgery. You know, balls, award ceremonies…actually, you probably do know, if you work for Tony Stark, hmm?" There's something he didn't know about her beforehand. The teacher begins to clap out a simple, slow, three-step cadence and he begins to lead it with her hand held with respectful pressure and his hand easily high enough on her back to dictate comfortable control. She follows with ease and he gives her another smile. "There you go, look at that. Now you're dancing."


For a woman, much of good dancing is having a strong, competent lead. Pepper knows how to follow (on a dance floor, at least. Not so good in a board room.) So, she easily falls into the gentle, instructive pressures of Strange's hands and the hints of where they are going to before their bodies actually turn. Dancing is as natural as breathing, if one knows how to read the signals correctly. Pepper has a good instinct for the things, not a doctor who understands bodies quite intimately, but a woman who has been trained to read body language of all sorts. It's helpful in business. She smiles a bit softer to him.

"Yes, I… suppose I'm not as rusty as I thought. Though you are a damn fine lead. The battle axe leading this class is going to yell at us both for being here and try to get us into a more advanced one full of snobs." Pepper teases with a bit of a smirk. Because NEITHER Of them was a snob. No. Of course not. She keeps with the easy, trio beat melody. "…and yes. Tony finds such things boring at best… or full of sycophants that he'd rather shoot himself than hold a conversation with, so… I end up at most of them. Alone."


"Well, it's most definitely to Mr. Stark's loss," the good Doctor replies dryly as he glances over his shoulder. LeFevrier's back is turned, so he dares a carefully-timed turn in place that should make the green gown swirl out most appropriately. They cut a fine figure in the mirror and he takes a moment to appreciate this before glancing back at Pepper. "You hold a conversation just as well as everyone else around here. Surely he doesn't find you boring?"


Whooooops. Caught.

Strange casually turns their arc of travel back to see the dance teacher looking at him with barely-contained amusement. The lead pauses the dance in mid-shift, holding Pepper with refined control to allow for a posing of sorts, seeing as there's no longer a count being clapped out.

"This is not your first time dancing, I see."

The good Doctor shrugs blithely and replies, "No, m'am, it is not."

"Can I count on you to assist as my lead if need be?" Color the good Doctor so damn pleased, he could purr.

"I'm happy to assist as needed," he replies diplomatically with another inclination of his head. LeFevrier rolls her eyes at him and goes back to explaining the particulars of keeping to form as to avoid injury. "So sorry," he murmurs to Pepper with a bit of a grimace. "I didn't expect to be called out."


The redhead is happily spun, out and in, she following the motions easily as her skirt shows off it's stuff. But then he is caught and Pepper actually laughs a little. His comment about not expecting to be called out gets a little, teasing sort of glare, "Liar. You were showing off probably in the hopes you *would* be. You like being just a bit better than everyone else in this room, even at something like dancing. It's alright. I won't tell anyone else." Pepper accuses him teasingly, not actually offended in the least. She just knows how to read people and isn't going to let him get away with the false humble act. She tosses him a wink as if to say she really will keep his secret.

Then they are back to dancing, a little easier now as she doesn't restrain herself from showing off, and he probably isn't either. It was just a nicer place to dance that one of those stuffy galas where business draws them away every few minutes. Pepper sighs a touch, as her thoughts return to her boss. "No…not always. I think eventually Tony Stark would find everyone boring… He's just like that." There's enough weight behind her words that there is clearly something else going on there.


He has a tart response to her accusation, but holds it behind his teeth in light of her return to darker musings.

"You know, my mother had a saying about people thinking that others are boring. I think it went something like, 'If you're bored, you're boring'. Or was it 'If you think others are boring, you're boring'? Something like that," Strange says dismissively. "Which clearly makes this Tony person very boring. Bring him to dance classes. I hear it builds bonds. That's why I'm here, anyways, seeing if LeFevrier is as good as she says."

Another turn, double this time, maybe just a little testing on his part. "You wouldn't be the first person to accuse me of showing off, however. I think I was told that just yesterday. 'Stephen, the interns do not need to see that procedure, stop it'." The good Doctor mimics a stern, feminine tone before chuckling. "Dr. Palmer, an old friend of mine at Presbyterian."

For some odd reason, his squirrely mind draws an abrupt connection and his expression turns quietly pensive. His voice drops lower still and he leans in, alongside her cheek, to keep the conversation between them. "I have to ask, in light of my mantle as Sorcerer Supreme, Pepper. Did you need that spell from the Darkhold because of Drakul?" The lead dancer even rotates Pepper away from the mirror's reflection in case it's too personal a question too abruptly.


The boring commentary makes Pepper chuckle, just a little. "I don't think anyone would ever call Tony Stark boring. But… I'll keep that in mind." It was a weird comfort, in a way. She follows through the double turn without a hiccup, his hands not fine enough for surgery any longer, but still perfectly serviceable in guiding a dance partner, it seems. Her red hair bounces along behind her, along with the flare of her green skirt. She really was made for this, a timeless sort of beauty about her delicate frame. Possibly why she drew the eye of their next topic of discussion.

The more somber tones and question draws Pepper's smile off her face. She slightly stumbles, the moment he says the name Drakul. Pepper is always a heart on her sleeve kind of person, and, to this day, the thought of that creature jars her. "S-sorry…Sorry…" She mutters, having slightly tread upon his foot, but she's managing to keep back up with the dance a heartbeat later and her mind isn't quite so shocked. After all, he had that formula. She nods quietly, "…yes. He… He said I was his… Lady. Elizabeth, he called me… He… tried to make me into her. Whoever she was. Came to my dreams… God, Stephen, I… thought I was going to go insane." She confesses quietly.


Strange keeps the disturbed tensing from his hands where one supports her delicate fingers and at the small of her back, but not from his brows and thinned lips. Now the bite marks make sense and he hates vampires even more.

"No, Pepper, I'm sorry," he murmurs once more. Her weight on his foot was slight, passing, and no more than a brief pinch. "That wasn't thoughtful of me, springing the question on you. I'm used to getting my answers immediately." She's given an apologetic smile and he feels worse still at how she seems a bit paler for his query. "Vampires have that unfortunate ability, making us question our sanity. You were bit." Observation, statement of fact in light of the dual pricked scars at her neck. "The venom is…horrifying."

He glances up momentarily to see where LeFevrier is at. She's currently going around and helping the other dancers with their form. A bit of a risk, admitting this, but… "One of the Brides bit me. Tore me open." He offers up that angle of his neck to her view, where the slightly-raised scars remain, even after a humdinger of a healing spell as well as some very singular tea. "I nearly bled out and the venom caused me to hallucinate." Yes, imagine it. The Sorcerer Supreme in the midst of lucid dreams. "You're not alone and you're not insane."

Maybe saying it aloud, with the quiet steel in tone and eyes, will be enough for them both.


Now that Pepper is prepared for the questions, the conversations, she doesn't lose her time in the dance again. Nothing fancy any longer, though, the conversation far more important than some basic waltzing. Even Jack didn't really understand what she'd gone through, but the side of that scar on his throat? This is a man who understands. Her hand tightens momentarily against his shoulder, reassuring and thankful at the same moment. She takes in a slow breath as the pass through another turn, trying to figure out adequate words to say. There aren't any, really. "…they are horrific. Vampires are… are absolutely horrific." Pepper finally whispers. Saying it aloud does help, a little.

"…he… insisted I was his beloved. This lady. Elizabeth." And, if one does look back through history books, there is some resemblance to the horrifying Bathory. But Drakul had to be stretching. "He…trapped me. But left me with a stake so… if I wanted free, I could kill some of them, and be free. He wanted me to… to be a killer. Just like she was. I… did it, but…" She shivers a bit beneath his fingertips, remembering that quiet horror of it all. Guilt still catching at the back of her throat over it all.


"You survived. We both did." The Sorcerer came terribly close, within a single syllable, of obliterating the dearest being of his heart from the face of reality itself when within the grips of the fever-dreams he experienced. "There are scars, but you heal and you learn. Believe me, Pepper. If you catch wind of a single vampire within this city, you call me. Contact me, however need be, and I will make sure it doesn't leave this city intact." His expression is grim, staunch, the moue one seen in classical sculpture of knights riding into battle. He means this with every iota of deadly vengeance in mind in the case of one errant undead.

Clearing his throat and going through a cycle of centering breathing, the good Doctor then attempts another smile, hoping to coax the conversation towards lighter realms. "I bet he wasn't nearly as a good dancer as I am."

Offered, of course, in a tone of teasing self-recrimination. That ego.


A firm, small nod is giving in agreement about having survived. Yes, yes she did, even if it was harrowing. "Yes… we both did." Pepper echoes his words softly, that little mouse of a woman having stood up to vampires and actually survived? When they nearly felled the Sorcerer Supreme himself? She must have a bit more fire and heart to her than one might originally see. Or strength, at least, despite being delicate of frame and wide of eye. There's something a bit special about this woman. She gives him one last nod at the commentary, "If…if I do, I'll contact you. Immediately. But… hopefully they are gone. For good."

Then he's moving on to more teasing words. A slight laugh escapes her lips, "No, no…I'm sure he wasn't. Though don't let Tony hear you say that. He'll get into a dancing match just to prove himself, probably." Pepper looks up to him and teasingly winces, "The two of you in the same room would be incorrigible."


"Seeing as I know nothing about Tony Stark other than what you've told me, which is that he's bored at social gatherings and not inclined to dance, I can safely assume that I'm the more interesting of the two of us."

Interrupted once more by LeFevrier, but only briefly. The line of Strange's shoulders is corrected ("Do not slouch, Stephen, you are a lead, not a wilting flower!") and Pepper's elbow is more carefully aligned ("Mind your form there, else you hyperextend backwards on an outwards push. Such a strain takes a long time to heal.") before the matronly woman moves on to the last couple.

He sighs. "So sue me, lady, I was having a conversation," he mutters. "Anyways. Relaxed now? Having fun?" They're rotated nearer to the mirrors now and he does that same turn as before so her dress billows out.


"Yes, ma'am!" Pepper responds, stiffening a bit more, so over eager she is to be absolutely perfect. She looks like the person who is just slightly dying inside at having been corrected at all. She doesn't quite have Strange's confidence to brush it off with a smart remark. But then they are rotating back into the dance and she's breathing a bit easier, the slip up slowly being forgotten. "…I…well… I guess this is…Relaxed? It's been nice, at least. Still… missing the office. But you are a pleasant distraction." She won't say whether he's more interesting that Tony. That seems to just be tempting fate. She'll spend the rest of the class with him in more casual conversation, doing a few more fancy steps, but over all just actually trying to relax. And almost succeeding.


"Then I've accomplished my goal of remaining clearly very good at what I do," the good Doctor replies, giving her a big grin. She's too kind, playing into that ego. "I like what LeFevrier has to offer too. I think I'll be attending classes, though not alone, and probably not at this level. Perhaps the more advanced class. I like a challenge." A triple turn now, most definitely showing off, and Tim the accountant really dislikes this neurosurgeon guy. "Perhaps we'll even see you there, since you know how to dance."

Of course, more casual conversation, all on much more positive topics than vampires and bloody pasts, and the evening class ends on a high note for all.

Except for Tim.


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