1964-09-25 - An Evening at the Beach
Summary: Pepper and Bruce meet on the beach. They share hotdogs and conversation but, oddly, forget to share their names!
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Theme Song: None
pepper bruce 

It's late and almost everyone is off the beach. This is just how Bruce likes it. The probalem is that he can't see things in the dimming light, and what he thought was a seashell is just another peice of glass. His baggy pant legs are rolled up. The waves are relaxing, and although he likes kids, the beach is much more calm for having no screaming kids. It's getting later in the year, but he goes out to stand in knee deep water anyway. He stands there for a moment, but the tide is coming in, and the next wave is big. Bruce starts trying to wade back to the shore, but doesn't make it. The waves bashes around him, and he ends up soaked from the waist down.

Of course, Pepper is far more elegant about this all. Despite also wandering in the tide, she's carefully picked up the skirts of her sun dress so she doesn't dare get the edges wet and has them delicately wound around her hand that is holding her sandals. She looks like some shore maiden in the hastening moonlight, but it was the only time she could actually escape the office to the beach. And her secretary had told her she needed a day off, quite firmly. And Mr. Wayne was giving her that glare about working too much. So… she came somewhere for peace. She picks herself carefully through the edges of the tide, her eyes a million miles away despite her grace, red hair idly dancing around her face in the wind.

Bruce makes it back to the shore with a laugh. He looks down the beach and sees Pepper. He stares at the woman, captured by the scene. He and teh creature inside him have a soft spot for beautiful woman. The scene is peaceful and calming. He might be staring too long, because he forgets that he's doing it as he takes off his half wet shirt to squeeze out the water. It's not some slick move. Bruce is no Greek god.

As she grows closer, Pepper cannot help but notice that shadow on the horizon. She blinks, eyes half narrowing at the man, but it's probably good for him that he looks mostly unassuming and gentle instead of like some greek god who WAS trying to show off — it means that that flight instinct that most women have when a predator might be around doesn't kick in. If anything, Bruce looked too gentle for his own good. Pepper takes a few steps closer before calling with a little laugh, "Tide's coming in, wading that deep could be dangerous…"

Bruce says, "Yeah," he laughs. "I'm not used to it. I'm not from a place by the sea. Kind of the opposite, in fact. But, it's beautiful." So is the woman, but he doesn't say that. He puts his soggy shirt back on. "I've been trying to find shells, but it's getting too dark." He looks around to see if the woman is with anyone. "It's getting dark," he repeats. "Are you here with anyone?" He looks around, trying to figure out where his shoes are. "You haven't seen my shoes, have you?"

"Here? No… no. My secretary and boss both stared at me until I left the office at a reasonable hour. Didn't quite feel like going home so… I came for a walk. A good place to clear one's head, you know." Pepper offers quietly, looking back out to the ocean in the dying rays of daylight. "Oh no… I… haven't seen your shoes. Please tell me you put them farther up the beach? The waves will take anything this time of night." She is half laughing but also feels awful they could have been lost.

Bruce shakes his head, "I'm such an idiot. I can describe the curve and pattern of a wave in mathematical terms, but I can't predict that high tide is going to take my shoes…" He looks at the wet beach in dispair, then he perks up. I see them!" He points to his shoes bobbing at the very edge of the surf, and he runs to try to get them before the sea sweeps them away.

The woman somewhat quickly dashes after him, though it'll, no doubt, slightly soak the edges of her skirts. Better she gets a bit damp and he actually has shoes, than they use the shoes on the next wave. She manages to catch the second one, if he grabs the first, and then turns to dash quickly back to the more shallow waters, "Good eyes! Goodness… that was luck. THough they'll still be miserable to go home in."

Bruce manages to get the first one. They are battered old loafers. He takes the shoe from her, a little embarrassed, but she can't see the red on his face. "I knew where to look, but it IS getting dark. I'm going to head up to the boardwalk. And yes, they are going to be kind of wet." He smiles a little, "Thanks for helping me. Sorry to bother your walk. I take it you're a work-aholic? What do you do?" he asks politely trying to flick the water off his shoes.

The woman follows him up a bit more, towards the boardwalk and less water logged areas of the beach. Sand clings to her feet and ankles, having been mostly doused herself there, but she's kept her skirts mostly clean. The comment about being a work-a-holic makes her laugh a bit, "Generally takes one to know one… Work-a-holics that is. But… yes. Getting out of the office is a… challenge, most days. I work for Wayne Enterprises." Pepper states, probabyl entirely too humbly, but if he ever watched the news back in the spring, it was ALL over the papers that a beautiful redhead had been made CFO of Wayne Enterprises. The controversy was truly awful.

Bruce doesn't watch much TV, but he knows that Wayne Enterprises is a big deal. "Oh! That's a very big company. And," he laughs, "Why do you think I'm a work-aholic? I'm wandering around like a bum on the beach?" He glances at his poor shoes. They are going to fall apart. He's sure of it, but he's just gotten a pay check. He'll break down and…oh…she's coming too. Nice! "Miss, would you like a hotdog? I think Nathan's is still open. Or an ice cream? As thanks for helping me safe my shoes?"

"As I said, takes one to know one. Who would really think a girl in a dress walking down the beach could be a work-a-holic, hmm? Even if I said my boss kicked me out of the office. Maybe I just had a tiff with him, or something. But… no. You recognize it. And I recognize it. So… yes. It'd probably be healthy for both of us to get some food. Have you eaten tonight? I certainly haven't. Come now." Pepper begins ahead with the confident determination of a woman who has never, ever let a man make her wait for something she needs. Sand and dress or not, there is some red headed determination about her. Even when it's just concerning hot dogs.

Bruce blinks at her determination. At a loss of words, he chuckles. "Well, okay. If you put it that way. I guess I can tell. You seem…very efficifient?" Silver tongued Bruce strikes again. He sighs and runs a hand through his hair. "I did eat something at the lab…but that was…" He thinks about it. "Yes, I should eat. Maybe two hot dogs. It's on me." He slips his soggy loafers on when he gets to the boardwalk. "What do you do at Wayne Industries?"

"I'm their CFO." Pepper states offhandedly, like it's a throwaway comment, the same as saying she works in the secretary pool or does computer calculations. She doesn't dwell on it, though it might be shocking, but continues on up the beach with him. "Lab? What do YOU do? And if you cannot remember the last time you ate, you are just as bad as I am." Pepper offers with a genuine bit of a laugh, recognizing it all too well in the man, even if he's standing there like a bum on the beach.

Bruce is suitably impressed, "Oh! I think I heard about that! I…wow." He stomps his shoe on, and it squishes. "Me? I work in a lab…Stark Industries, actually. R&D. I just started, a couple of weeks ago, though…that's why the shoe and waves thing." He smiles. "I was working in Nevada before." He was hiding out in Mexico immediately after that, but it's not a lie. "I can remember when I ate. It was at 10:45."

"10:45? You are worse than I am. And…" Pepper gives a little laugh, "I used to work for Stark Industries… I was with Tony a long time before… things happened. I like where I am now. It's making waves and paths for a lot of other women. So… it's worth it." But, if Bruce is good at reading a person in any way, he might be able to hear how much Pepper actually misses Stark and the company. "But…well, this is far prettier than Nevada, so… Welcome to New York City."

"Tony? He's a great guy! He gave me this job. I knew him in school…" He didn't like him in school. "I was working on some of the same matters that he is, so I came here." To totally take advantage of the facilities. "Nevada is beautiful in its own way, but I do like the ocean here. Maybe I should learn to surf. Do they surf here?" He must be joking. He does sense something from the woman and tries to steer the conversation to lighter matters. "What do you think of the research that they are doing with rockets into space these days?" Bruce's version of 'light.' He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wet wallet.

Seeing Bruce's poor wallet, Pepper gives a little chuckle and a small wave, "Put it away. I can buy us a few hot dogs. It's not an issue." Pepper drops her own, still dry shoes onto the deck and slips her slightly sandy feet into them. She'll deal with that later. She then grabs at her own still dry wallet from a hidden pocket in her dress, moving up to the hot dog stand. "Tony is… a very good guy when he wants to be. He just doesn't see that very often." Pepper murmurs gently. Then she adds, "No…this is not surfing beach, alas. Tony has a place out in Malibu. We went on occasion. That… that is better surfing. And I think his rocket research is going to change the whole world."

Bruce tilts his head, "It's not very gentlemanly of me to invite you for a hotdog and have you pay…but I am a big supporter of the women's movement." He flashes a sheepish smile. "I'm conflicted." Neverthless, he puts his wallet away. "I see…so you and Tony. I'm sorry it didn't work out," he says sincerely, not wanting to trash his new boss but totally knowing where she's coming from. "Sometime his own brilliance gets in his eyes. He's the second smartest guy I know."

"…You being the smartest?" Pepper asks with a slightly wry smile, her eyes glimmering at the thought, but she doesn't protest it. She simply is clarifying. She then hands over a fiver, it not alone in her wallet, and gets as many hotdogs as that will get them. It's enough she's handed two paper plates, one of which she passes in Bruce's direction with a fully amused grin at this point. "Lunch and dinner." She clarifies to him, only half teasing, "And I'm a CFO. I know what the people in Tony's lab make. You're well paid. I'm paid better." She winks at him and nods to a bench. The question of her and TOny gets a little sigh, "Tony and I are… complicated. It is what it is. He's a very good man."

Bruce grins and blushes, "I didn't say that." Of course he's not going to deniy it. He pushes his glasses up on his nose. "Yes, he's a good man." He takes the plate and goes to sit at the bench. He picks up a hot dog, "These things are a mess of meat by products and hazardous chemicals, but they taste so good!" He looks more closely at Pepper. "He's missing out. This is the best date I've had in years. But I don't know your name. I'm sorry. I didn't follow the news that much before I came to town."

A deeper laugh escapes Pepper's lips, "Perhaps…but no one really wants to date a woman married to her career. Still… I'm glad we got to meet…" SHe raises a hot dog in his direction, like a toast, and dips into the thing herself. THe rest of the meal is spent in light banter, far more relaxed than some of their heavier previous discussions, and Pepper even gives him a quick hug good bye before heading off to her car. It's only when she's walked off into the night that she realizes they didn't ever actually exchange names, but she wouldn't forget the evening for some time.

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