1964-06-30 - Ladies Who Lead
Summary: Kara comes to fact check a few things with CFO Pepper Potts.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
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kara pepper 

It's late, well after five PM when the male executives go home, but Pepper is a woman. Pepper is still earning her keep. She'll probably feel like she's proving herself and earning her keep until the day she retires, but right now it manifests by staying well after everyone else leaves. Books have to be balanced, after all. It's late enough in the day her suit jacket is off and her high heels hidden beneath her desk as she works over a large leather ledger.

Pepper isn't the only one earning her keep. Working for a newspaper isn't exactly the most glamorous job in the world for a woman right now. They can type copy, they can confirm research, and then they can hand it over for the men to get the bylines. And yet, that doesn't particularly bother Kara. She doesn't love it, but who needs the credit when the work itself is exciting?

For example, the paper wants to do a piece on this Pepper Potts who's suddenly gone from secretary to CFO, but there are a few pieces of information they need verified. In true fashion, Kara volunteered despite the hour.

There is no secretary this hour to let Kara in, but a security guard saw a nice young woman, figured she was a secretary, and held the door open for her. So, Kara is in. The elevator up to the executive floor is easy to find and, sure enough, Pepper's office is the last light in the hall. The quiet sound of a page turning can be heard coming from the partially cracked door. Pepper likes to hear if anyone comes into the building at this hour.

"Miss Potts?" Kara clasps a notepad to her chest as she peeks around the doorway, an unassuming smile behind oversized, dark-rimmed glasses. "Miss Potts, I'm sorry to disturb you, I'm Kara Danvers, from the paper? Mister Wilson sent me over to verify a few things before the copy comes out on the feature piece on you."

Blue eyes flicker up from the desk, slightly jumping as Kara is far more quiet than the other people that often come down this hallway. "AH… hullo? Yes? Miss… Danvers? Are you related to Carol at all?" That makes her blink, a bit surprised and curious. She sets her pen down, sitting up a bit straighter and trying to stretch her feet into her high heels without the woman noticing. SHe needs to look dignified! "And yes, of course, come in… Sit!"

"I have a cousin Carol?" Kara offers with a lopsided smile, stepping inside and perching on the edge of a chair, ankles crossed beneath her. The button-down shirt with the peter pan collar and the understated plaid skirt she wears are just perfect for blending into offices. They practically scream junior staff. "I'm not sure if you would have met her, though. Really, I'm sorry to show up so late, but you know how deadlines are. Kind of…just suggestions until they're almost there, right?"

"Yes. She and I… well… I don't know that we're good friends, but I like her. We've met a few times. She's a good woman." Pepper finally slips into her second shoe and, therefore, can stand up neatly from her chair. She's still just in her bespoke skirt and camisole, the suit jacket draped over the back of her chair, but she offers a gentle hand in the girl's dirrection. "Kara, you said? Well, it's good to meet you…Do you want a drink… Coffee? Scotch?" Pepper asks, stepping around the desk and giving a warmer smile from tired blue eyes.

Kara pops up out of her chair to take the offered hand, her grip surprisingly firm. Must just be excited to be out on assignment, right? "Really? That's crazy," she smiles swiftly. "It feels like I haven't seen Carol in forever. I didn't know you two knew each other. I mean, I guess it makes sense, all that time you worked for Mister Stark, and with the contracts he has, and with Carol working with NASA, then you must have run into each other sometime." Apparently, she doesn't realize there are any interpersonal connections here.

"It's so nice to meet you, though, Miss Potts. Honestly, you're such an inspiration to all the girls in the typing pool at the paper. I don't need anything," she adds quickly, shaking her head, ponytail bobbing.

The expression on Pepper's face warms just a bit more as the girl calls her an inspiration. Every reason she's sitting in the CFO chair is that. Pepper finishes shaking her hand, a good grip herself though nothing super about it at all, then her palm pulls back and she folds down into sitting again. "You are… too kind. I'm just a woman. Any woman can do this. Any one. If you set your mind to it and keep proving yourself, you'll get out of that typing pool… and if there is anything I can do to help any of you, just say. The world would be a hell of a lot better if women actually got near their fair share and I'm doing every last thing I can do to see that we get the chances…" Pepper then stops herself before she goes on too long a rant. She takes a breath. "…Sorry. That's… not why you are here."

"I think it would make a great quote, Miss Potts," Kara grins, then looks away as the smile twists sheepishly, shrugging. "The boys probably wouldn't much care for it, though. Then again, that's assuming they read the copy before it goes out." There's a twinkle of something in her eyes behind those glasses, then she's clearing her throat and pulling a pencil out from behind her ear. "I was actually just here to verify some data, help fill in the blanks in the article. Where was it you went to school?"

"Sure… Ask away. And quote anything you like. And if they try to cut it, tell them that I withdraw consent for the story. They either print the whole damn thing or they don't get it at all. Understood?" Pepper states with a little, proud huff to her voice. Her back gets a bit straighter and stronger as she says it. She then smiles, taking another, calmer breath as she resets her shoulders and settles a bit. "Margaret Morrison School of BUsiness at Carnegie Mellon. THey have a specifically women's business program and it's great."

"Oh, no, I couldn't do that," Kara laughs, ducking her chin and shaking her head as she pushes her glasses up her nose a bit, scribbling down the notes. "It's just the way it works, right? You pay your dues, and then you work your way up. None of the boys are getting their own articles before they graduate college either, so it's not like I need any special treatment. It's important to work hard, no matter what the task is. Every task is important in its own way."

She scribbles something else, looking up as she realizes she's been rambling. "Ah. I mean. And what was your first job out of school?"

"You could do that. Because I mean it, Kara. If they try to strike what I say, you don't print this." Pepper's eyes level hard on the other woman, her red headed stubborn determinaton clearly coming through. This woman, for as tiny, cute, curving and perky as she looked was a force of nature. No wonder she was a CFO. She then lets that smile flutter back across her lips, "My first job? Secretarial pool at Hammer Industries… then Stark Industries stole me away about six months later."

"I mean, ah, I don't- That isn't my- Ah-" Kara is flustered for a moment, pen tapping on her pad, then clears her throat with a nod that makes her ponytail bob again. "Yes ma'am, Miss Potts." There's an answering, awkward smile that flickers across her features, then it's nose to the pad again as she writes. Because obviously now she can't leave anything out. "How did that happen?" she asks. "The stealing, I mean."

"I noticed a few mistakes in some transactions between us and brought it to Stark's attention. I thought they were trying to short us. When SI realized how sharp I was, they made me a better deal and I took it. Still just a secretary but…" Pepper shrugs, a slightly almost secretive smile across her still slightly too perfect red lips. "It was a step in the right direction. Then I caught more errors. Brought them to the CEO. Next thing I know, I'm his executive assistant…"

"Which I'm sure had to be interesting," Kara says ruefully, shaking her head without looking up from her paper. Oh, she knows what Tony Stark has been known to get up to. Although apparently she missed the memo about her cousin. "But you've gone on record before that you're not interested in sharing other people's personal stories, right? I think that's very…honorable, by the way," she adds, looking up from the pad. "Classy. People forget that you don't have to be vicious just to get by, you can still be kind and polite and do just fine. How long were you at Stark Industries?"

Pepper isn't exactly preening her feathers, but it's close. She's done well for herself, she knows that. She likes talking about it, helping inspire others. So, Kara's question brings her smile a bit wider and a touch more energy to her lovely features. "No, I will not discuss Tony Stark's personal life…or Bruce Wayne's. Or anyone's. This is work and business. I can talk mine. NO one else's." Pepper's statement is flat on that, firm and certain. Then the next question comes and she considers, "…A little over two years? A year personally working for Tony."

"Wow, that's such a short time. I thought you must have had to have worked there for, like, ten years or- Uh. Not that I think you're old. Or you look old. You're not. I mean you don't. I mean-" Kara clears her throat, turning a fabulous shade of crimson. "Can we just pretend like the last fifteen seconds didn't happen, and I can start off by saying something that sounds way more professional?"

A deeper laugh escapes Pepper's lips, "I went through a lot of schooling to get there. My masters, actually, so…started a bit later than most secretaries. Couldn't quite rely on young and perky… Assets." Pepper looks down at her still, well, rather perky rack with a knowing smirk. And then she tosses Kara a small wink and sinks back into her tall backed, leather chair. "So, yes. Other questions?"

Kara points with her pen, clearing her throat again. "So, two quick years, and you're the cornerstone of Stark Industries. So what prompted the move to Wayne Enterprises? And why Wayne Enterprises? There are other places headquartered in the city as well. Ones that might pass for more female-friendly, even. Lexcorp and Rand-Meachum are both under female ownership."

A slight pause comes there, the first time Pepper has wavered this entire interview. There is something deeper here, maybe something almost shameful? But Pepper tucks it behind a smile a heartbeat later, "Tony and I had… a falling out over some differences. I ended up leaving Stark Industries on my own choice… was lost a little bit, then went to working for Act-F for a while until Bruce Wayne came along with an offer I could not refuse. CFO. I'd have to earn it in the board room, but he thought I could do it. I told him I knew I could."

Kara perks up just a bit at the mention of Act-F. "What was that like, working for Act-F? That was the joint task force that was meant to deal with the alien issue, right?"

A nod comes to follow, a touch relieved that the woman doesn't probe more into why she left Stark, "Exactly. Mr. Richards and Ms. Storm were… amazing. The whole project was great, even if it was run by some people who…ah… I don't know that they understood what the team was trying to do. But the work was great. I'm a bit sad it all died but… better that the world is safe and it wasn't needed, right?" Pepper asks with a half hopeful smile.

"Did you meet any aliens while you were working there?" Kara asks, scribbling notes and looking up over the rim of her glasses. "Or was it all…I mean, was it just everyone out looking for aliens but not so much finding them?" A bit of an odd turn, but then again, there's still a lot of sensationalism around the whole idea of aliens.

A deeper laugh crosses Pepper's lips, "No aliens…Not that I am aware. But I think, Ms. Danvers, you will find that there are far stranger things on this earth than we could ever imagine in the stars. If you want to be shocked, just look all around you. Truly, all around you…" A secretive smile crosses Pepper's lips with that.

"Oh, I'm sure the world is full of all sorts of interesting things," Kara smiles crookedly, taking a look at her notes so far. "But interesting is the key. It seems like a shame to me that we find out there are other people in the universe, that aliens are real, and the first thing that happens is a joint task force of people to go after them, you know? I'd kind of hope we could learn to live together."

"…You and me both. But, hell, we're still learning to live with mutants and superpowers. People are scared. It's a hard time. All you can do is try to be an example, to… tell their stories, Kara. Get their truth out there so people can read and start to maybe understand." Those words are softer from Pepper, not the big shot CFO or the woman who has to prove everything. But a woman who has seen the writing on the wall and is scared of it. And sad, perhaps mainly sad.

"I think that's true of all of us, though. Mutants or humans or aliens or whatever else. We should just all be examples, do our best, and believe that everyone else is too." Kara takes a few more notes then tucks her pencil behind her ear, looking back up with a small, sheepish smile. "I know in the city that attitude's sort of naive, but I think if more people acted that way, we'd all be happier."

"Yes… it is true of all of us. But I'm talking about *you*. I'm talking about the choice you've decided to make with your career. Your life. You have made a choice to write stories. TO show the truth, I hope. And that is needed now more than ever. These people… mutants, aliens… They NEED their stories told. Need to be heard, so the rest of the world can start realizing that maybe we're not all so different. That is your duty now. THe Fourth Estate needs to do it's job more than ever…" Pepper's voice is kicked up with a touch more passion again, someone who is used to swaying worlds with just her words, especially when she believes in something. And she does believe in this.

"I agree," Kara smiles faintly. "There are a lot of people who need to be heard. A lot of stories waiting to be told. And people need to hear those things. Good things. Important things. Things that aren't…laundry tips and recipes," she adds, wrinkling her nose. "It's not that those aren't useful and they don't have their place, it's just…The world is such a big place. We should all know more about it."

"You're a damn better reporter than laundry tips. Just start telling the stories and people will listen. And if they tell you to shut up, you go somewhere else. Take your story to someone else. Scream it louder. Keep breaking down doors until that story gets in print. Don't let them beat you down, Kara… Because they sure as hell are going to try. You need to fight back harder." Oh, goodness, it seems Pepper might have found a new person to mentor, or so says the passion in her voice. SHe reaches into her desk, pulling out her card and sliding it across. "That is my number. If you start doubting…You call."

"Oh, there's-" Kara waves a hand, shaking her head and ducking her chin with a self-conscious smile. "There are good ways to fight. You don't have to always attack people for it, you know? Sometimes it's enough to do the right thing and let people see it. I really do believe that people know when something is right." Still, she leans forward to take the card, looking up with another small smile. "Thank you, Miss Potts. Really, this has been great. I should probably let you get back to work so you can get home, though."

"Probably…I should get home before midnight. But this has been an honor, Kara. ANy time, anything you need, you pick up that phone. We need more young women like you in the world." Pepper then stands up again, so she can escort Kara to the door. Respectful and warm, like Kara was some business mogule and not just a junior reporter. But Pepper is like that. "Best of luck with your story. Never let them quiet your words. Remember that."

"Thank you, Miss Potts," Kara says as she stands, tucking the card safely away. "I will. And you remember that there are women all over this city who are looking up to you, Miss Potts. You talk about leading by example, and you've been doing that for all of us. So thank you, for reminding people they have somewhere to go. That they can accomplish things if they set their minds to it."

A quiet, more enigmatic smile crosses Pepper's lips. "I'll remember. And I'll keep doing it. We all have to. Good night, Ms. Danvers. It's been a pleasure." And with that, Pepper gently shuts the door behind her. Back to work, but the ledger doesn't seem near so heavy as it did at the top of the night.

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