I'm so sorry this took so long. I'm terribly slow when it comes to updating, but I've been trying harder to update faster lately, so hopefully that will change
Anyway, thank you guys so much for all the favs, follows, and reviews ;)
Note that this is the first time I've written Pepper, so I hope she's in character :P Also, this chapter ended up having a little bit of suggestive themes, so I hope y'all are okay with that, and this chapter also requires a bit of Iron man 1 & 2 background knowledge.
And, like I said last chapter, I'm no bird expert so I can only hope that everything said in this chapter is accurate :P
And I got really antsy to upload this, so I've only reread it once, and if they're too many typos and confusing sentences, I'll look over this a couple more times.
I hope you guys enjoy the chapter even though it ended up being a filler mostly DX
When the Avengers sent him a mixture glares and tired looks after he had asked which one of them was going to call Pepper, Tony was honestly confused. Did they really think that he was going to call her?
She was probably freaking out over the news report. It had revealed the poor quality video of the fight that had created more questions than answers by showing that he had been hit by Loki's magic.
And although he had been busy with tests when he had gotten back to the tower, he still hadn't called her which wouldn't be enough of an excuse to her. Yeah, she was going to murder him!
Tony's new wings, colored in many variations of red, shivered at the thought, and he resisted the hard urge to look over his shoulder and glare at them. He didn't need his teammates to think he was crazy — or crazier.
"She's your girlfriend, call her yourself. Or better yet, call her in here. I want to hear her chew you out," Clint said with a smug smile.
"I believe it will be much more than her chewing Friend Stark. When I do not tell Lady Jane of my ventures…" It was pointless to say how odd it was to see Thor frown and shudder from fright.
"You guys aren't helping. At all."
"Well," the only redhead in the room drawled. "Prolonging the time it takes you to call her won't make it any better." Tony scowled at Natasha and, only because he knew how to look for it, he saw a small smile grace her lips.
"And you need to sleep Tony." At the reminder of his current exhaustion from the day's events, he didn't have the energy to transfer the scowl from Natasha to Steve.
"Hey, so would this be the one time Tony will actually listen to you Steve?" He did, however, manage to glare at Clint.
"Hah hah, very funny," Tony turned around and stumbled down the corridor (he briefly wondered why the whole team was located on his floor, why not the Avengers' common room?).
His wings dragged along the floor due to his lack of strength to hold them up, and his posture was slumped forward. He probably looked a Hunchback of Notre Dame zombie. The genius grimaced at that flicker of imagery; he hoped he didn't look that bad.
As he moved down the hall to the bedroom that was too far away, Tony barely heard Clint's words, "Jarvis, can you record Tony's and Pepper's conversation?"
Tony smirked and said in a volume only Jarvis would hear, "You know the answer to that buddy."
"Of course, Sir," he could hear the amusement in the AI's voice. "Should I also initiate the Bird Brain protocol?"
The billionaire couldn't hold in a snicker at that; Clint was going to just love that surprise. "You read my mind."
When he reached his room, he wanted to all but collapse on his awaiting bed, but he refused to lay on his stomach due to his arc reactor (the mere thought of putting pressure on it gave him the shivers) and he wasn't sure if sleeping on his back would be comfortable. With the couch incident still fresh in his mind, Tony gingerly laid down on his back, irrationally afraid that just putting some weight on them would hurt (his wings were still sore from when he had haphazardly sat on the couch with his wings underneath him, between him and the piece of furniture. He was never doing that again). His wings were splayed out beside him; the tips of them hanging off the edge even on his exceptionally large bed.
The feeling of the appendages pressed between the bed and his body wasn't entirely comfortable… but it wasn't uncomfortable either.
He sighed; it was the best he could do. It wasn't like he could change it or anything.
"Sir," Jarvis cut in, most likely sensing his unease. "Shall I call Miss Potts?"
"Now's a good as time as ever, I guess." He had nothing against Pepper, and he knew that she deserved to know that he was okay so she wouldn't have to worry any more, as she had surely been doing so even since the team's fight with Loki. Tony was just suddenly melancholy.
"Tony? Is that you?" His mood automatically lightened a bit at her voice. "Please tell me you're the one calling right now and not one of the others telling me your hurt or something because I don't know what—"
"Pepper, are you saying you are actually worried over my safety?" He managed to interrupt her with his usual snark.
"Of course I am!" Pepper responded fiercely. His comment had fallen flat, showing him just how worried she actually was. "That news report was horrible! They should've gotten a better quality video or shown nothing at all! I couldn't understand what was going on! One minute you're doing fine, then the next Loki is shooting you, then you're having a— a seizure, and then those things coming out of your back. What even was that!?"
Tony blinked in surprise; he was usually the one to ramble. He was so shocked that he had failed to fully comprehend what she was saying; her words washing over him. By the time he had understood her last question — which he wasn't sure was rhetorical or not — she had started again. He didn't even know if she was still talking to him.
"And I haven't even mentioned the press! God, those guys are utter morons!" Tony once again blinked in shock; it was rare for Pepper to lose her calm. At least now he knew that no, she wasn't exactly talking to him. "How many times do I have to tell them that I don't know anything! You have to be informed or told of something in order to know it! And then they wouldn't even let me inside the tower!"
Tony wasn't really sure who they was. He could assume that she meant the press, or the agents that would prevent her from coming in due to the press. The winged billionaire managed to get the energy to stand up to look out the large window that spanned the entirety of his wall.
The window was on the same side as the building's entrance, so if the press was as bad as Pepper was saying then he would be able to see it. He felt his eyes widen. From his angle, he shouldn't be able to even see the crowd, yet he could.
Only then did he perceive that Pepper was still talking. He waited for her to pause, knowing that would be the only way to get her to stop.
"Pepper! Look, I'm fine, and I can just send a helicopter or something to pick you up. See? Press problem solved, right there." They both knew that wasn't really true since there was no way to get the press to leave unless they released a statement. Which Pepper couldn't do since she still didn't know what was going on and Tony because of many reasons (the biggest being that he couldn't go out in public at the moment. He was going to have to figure that out, yet another thing to add to his growing list of problems.)
Her sigh echoed through the speakers in the ceiling. "Okay," he heard her take another breath. "Okay, but you better explain to me what happened."
Now for the fun part.
Tony opened his mouth to speak when his throat closed in on itself. He knew wanted to tell Pepper, so she wouldn't need to needlessly worry but… His wings closed against his back self-consciously;he just couldn't get himself to say it aloud (he briefly thought it was the equivalent of saying Voldemort in Harry Potter). Nonetheless, he forced himself to speak, "I… urm.."
Pepper exhaled with a mixture of exasperation and worry. "Fine, explain it to me when I get there."
Tony nodded in relief, even though she couldn't see him. He guessed he really didn't even need to explain to her over the phone since the new appendages would say everything with just a look. He suddenly froze — should he at least warn Pepper about the wings?
The pro would be that she wouldn't be as bewildered, although he probably would have to tell her what not to be shocked about or that would only create more worry, and he didn't particularly want to say his predicament over the phone, for reasons he didn't know. The con would be that she would get the shock of her lifetime.
"Tony?" The sudden noise scared him in the quiet. His wings unconsciously flapped as if to escape, and his feet lifted the from the ground. He couldn't help but let out a grunt of surprise. He stumbled as he tried to gain his balance from the unexpected uplift. "Tony?" Pepper asked again; this time with more urgency. "Are you okay? What's going on?"
"Yep, just fine. Nothing going on here," he answered hurriedly. He winced at how suspicious he had sounded. His tired and addled brain struggled to change the topic. Exhaustion chose to then pull at his limbs, and he sat on his bed. Luckily (and obviously), the bed wasn't a couch, so his wings were free to flow over the sheets.
Sitting down, Tony was painfully reminded of how tired he was. He just wanted sleep, no matter what kind of nightmares would visit him then. And the thought of explaining to Pepper what had happened did not sound appealing in the slightest.
He abruptly recalled the usual reason Pepper left the tower: meetings.
"Jarvis, when is Pepper's next meeting?" He could practically hear Pepper's confusion at the sudden change of topic.
"It's in ten minutes, Sir."
"And when does the meeting end?"
"At three fifteen pm, Sir."
"I want you to send the helicopter over right when it ends."
"What! Tony, no! I —"
"Pepper, like I said, I'm fine. I'm not hurt, and I'm not going to die. I'm just—" tired, is how he had wanted to finish. There wasn't anything else to it, or that's how he wanted it. Tony was tired, angry, confused, and conflicted. He even felt betrayal, though he didn't know why. But those feelings didn't matter, they never had.
He opened his mouth to continue, but his mouth didn't make any noise, like there was a rock in his throat. Tony was only then aware of the uncomfortable feeling in his gut, like his emotions were physically hurting him.
His wings moved to clench against his back. It was almost like they were trying to comfort him, yet the limbs' movement matched his current emotions completely, displaying it like an open book. This just seemed to aggravate him. He just wished that they would go away; they pushed off of him like he was on fire. He glared at them (but weren't they technically a part of him?) and he wondered why all of this was affecting him so much; they were just wings.
Only then did he realize that Pepper was still waiting for him to finish his statement.
"I'm only tired, and I actually want to sleep, for once. That's it." Tony actually hoped he hadn't sounded harsh, but he was at his limit.
"Alright." He could imagine her head nodding and lips thinning from her resigned tone. "But we have to talk when you wake up, okay?"
"Yeah, sure." He was actually fine with that, then he would be rested — or at least as rested as he usually was, which wasn't all that much. At least he could stand the idea of talking to her then.
Tony felt his wings relax, and he guessed now was a good time to tell her to be prepared when she came.
"Uh, Pep?" He could practically hear her raising a brow. "So like I've said, I'm fine... — ish." He could practically sense an incoming lecture about the difference between truths and lies. "But," he interjected quickly, "what happened may have caused some… side effects." Which wasn't really true at all because the whole reason Loki casted the spell was to turn him into a bird.
"Side effects!?" He winced. "Like what, exactly?"
"Er…" Tony could tell that Pepper was waiting for him to continue, but he didn't. A few moments passed in silence.
"Fine, I guess I'll see it when I get there. As long as you're okay?" The last sentence ended in a question, and Tony hummed a yes in reassurance. Pepper sighed, "Sleep well Tony." There was a beep as she ended the call.
He ran a hand across his forehead, "Remind me to never get her worked up again. K' Jarvis?"
"Don't you do so on a daily basis, Sir?"
He glared at the ceiling and decided he was far too tired for another squabble. The genius finally laid down on his bed. Sleep claimed him instantly despite the odd and unfamiliar feeling of his wings digging into the bed.
But, just as Tony had expected, even with a thoroughly exhausted mind, his brain was still able to conjure nightmarish images to haunt his sleep. He had never been sure of what exactly it would be every other — or sometimes each — night: Afghanistan or the Wormhole. Or maybe even Obadiah Stane. The nightmares usually appeared if something in the day was remotely similar to it, even if he had not even thought about it (he would be sent into a panic attack otherwise), and in his line of work, it happened quite often.
And sadly, he could somewhat see why his brain would compare the events of the day to both Afghanistan and the Stane incident. Gaining the new feathery appendages had not been pleasant in the slightest. He had felt like he had been — he daresay — violated by them, and they were frequently betraying him by showing his emotions. Both of which Stane had done. He had betrayed Tony by taking the arc reactor, and he had violated him just by touching Tony's literal heart.
And of course, Afghanistan. Need he explain? There was pain, violation, and a little bonus, trepidation. He had had no idea if he would die in that cave (his dread alone had nearly killed him), and the emotions were similar with his newfound wings. Of course it wasn't anywhere near as extreme as it had been in Afghanistan, and he in fact found his current apprehension absolutely ridiculous. But he couldn't help that fact that he usually knew or was able to at least predict what was going to happen, and with the wings, just like with Afghanistan, he had no idea of what might occur. The horrible couch incident was proof of that. The wings had thrown a curveball at him, one he hadn't been able to catch, and that absolutely petrified him, though he would never admit it aloud.
And so he watched as the arc reactor was taken by Stane, only to be replaced by the terrorists known as The Ten Rings. He thrashed and screamed in their clutches, practically reliving the events.
Tony watched as Obie— Obadiah leaned towards his face to taunt him while he took out his heart. He waited for the coming pain of the shrapnel delving into his chest and his heart failing him, when the billionaire was suddenly cloaked in an unidentifiable fluff. Stane vanished from his sight, along with his Malibu house in the background (or perhaps it was the cave, he wasn't too sure). He could only see darkness that felt nothing like the Wormhole. It was warm, comforting, and he didn't feel like he was on the brink of death.
For the first time in so long, the nightmares left, and they didn't touch him for the rest of his sleep.
When his eyes weren't forced open from a viscous dream and instead calmly opened on their own, Tony could only blink in puzzlement. He didn't remember his nightmare at all; he just knew he had gone through one near the beginning of his sleep. And he always remembered it when he woke up, since it normally was the reason he awoke.
Tony briefly wondered what had stopped the dreams before he lifted a hand to his eye, or he tried to anyway. His hand had been stopped by something... feathery — his eyes snapped downwards to see large red wings wrapped around his entire body. He reeled in astonishment and bewilderment before his memory snapped back to him.
Annoyance instantly replaced his surprise. He wasn't exactly sure as to why. They had gotten rid of the nightmares after all, but that was probably why he was irritated. He didn't need to be comforted and coddled by anything or anyone, even if the seemingly foreign things were technically him, though they sure didn't seem like it.
He lifted a hand to move the left wing off of him (he didn't like the idea of moving it like he would his other limbs) when it decided to move for him. It flopped off to the side to stretch along the bed before his hand could reach it.
The genius stared and, forcing his irrational discomfort aside, sat up. His right wing rolled off of his stomach and automatically curled against his back as best as it could, considering that the bed was still underneath him.
As he sat up, Jarvis started the usual procedure of spouting the time, date, and current weather whenever he awoke. Jarvis had always done that, even before Afghanistan, but for quite some time, the purpose of it was to bring him back from any nightmare-filled daze he might be in upon awakening. It was nice to know that Jarvis's current monologue wasn't needed for once. Tony blocked out Jarvis's voice, instead choosing to stand up.
His arms stretched over his head, and his wings followed. The fact that they hit the ceiling went unnoticed as he was distracted by the sharp uncomfortable pain caused by the sensitive feathers of his wings rubbing against the fabric of his grey t-shirt. He almost wished that his shirt had been torn apart when his wings had bursted from his back. Then he wouldn't have to deal with the trouble of taking the clothing off, and it would've simply made him happier in general because it made much more sense if it had been torn to shreds.
Tony's wings shuffled in accordance to his thoughts, creating further discomfort that made his sleepy-and-deprived-of-coffee-brain decide that it wanted the shirt off now, and unfortunately, he wasn't quick enough to realize that he wouldn't be able to take it off through normal means… and he didn't hear Jarvis saying that that wasn't the best course of action.
Before he knew it, he was pulling the shirt over his head, and it was soon bunched around his wings like ropes that were far too tight.
The genius, logic once again failing him, automatically started to try and escape the bindings by flexing his wings (no matter how discomforted he was by doing so). Up, down, inward, and then outward. Every movement causing more ridiculous pain (just why was all this hurting so damn much?). He grinded his teeth onto his lip in an attempt to contain a building whimper.
Each time he moved, it proceeded to make his bundled shirt change from laying on top of the feathers to sliding between them, displacing them and causing them to turn in disarray. And holy shit it hurt!
It was then that Tony decided that it wasn't the wings he hated, it was the feathers.
"Do you require assistance, Sir?" Jarvis's voice may of sounded monotone but Tony knew better. Jarvis did care that he was hurting, but he was actually waiting for him to cave and admit that he needed help. That was something the AI always got mad at him for, just like Pepper and Rhodey.
"No, Jarvis. I'm sure I can figure out how to take a shirt off on my own." In a fit of anger, his wings threw themselves outward, pulling and stretching the shirt with them. A very poor decision on his part — even though he hadn't had much choice in the matter. From this movement, the shirt was even more compressed around the wings, and therefore, bending the feathers at even more drastic and painful angles.
Tony's teeth released his lip as he could no longer hold in a sharp grunt of pain that sounded far too much like a squawk to him, and he was ashamed to know that his eyes were glistening with unshed tears. The feathery appendages instantly went limp, but it did nothing to stop the numbing agony. He fell to his knees, the pain tiring him.
"... Your team will not think less of you, Sir." The genius's wings couldn't help but twitch at that. Jarvis was being extremely pushy, addressing two of his insecurities. Not only had his AI said the words your team — words that still made him nervous even after being an Avenger for seven months — but Jarvis had also referred to his subconscious need to prove himself to them... since he was just a man in a giant suit.
Tony's mouth voiced the sum of his thoughts, "You're really pushing it, J."
His AI ignored him, "Miss Potts and the other Avengers are currently in the kitchen located in the common room. Shall I inform them of your current predicament?" The rest of Jarvis's statement was lost to Tony after the mention of Pepper.
"Wait, Pepper? When did she get here?"
"She arrived at the tower at approximately six forty-five yesterday."
"Yesterday? How did— What?"
"It is currently six thirty am. You have been asleep for about sixteen hours, Sir." It took a few seconds for Tony to register that before he recoiled in shock. He was sure the emotion was clear on his face. He hadn't slept that long for quite some time. He grimaced, remembering that Pepper's meeting had ended at three o'clock… Yesterday.
Jarvis was quick to answer his unstated question, "At three fifteen yesterday, I informed Miss Potts that you were still sleeping, and she requested to postpone the helicopter's arrival until her final meeting ended at six thirty pm. The others informed her of what had occurred during your fight with Loki except for the effects of his spell as Agent Barton was able to convince the others to let you tell Miss Potts of yourpredicament yourself."
At the reminder of his wings, he once again felt the dulling pain that had been pushed to the back of his mind at the mention of Pepper. And he was once again reminded of the fact that he needed to tell her. He guessed this was the best time.
Tony swallowed, "Jarvis… Call Pepper up."
It was only then that he realized that the light blue of his arc reactor was the only light source in his bedroom, expanding all the way out to its corners where it fought off the shadows… and it was completely exposed. He was about to tell Jarvis to only let Pepper up, when the room's door opened to show both her and all the others. Despite his body's protests against the movement, his wings immediately stiffened and clenched to his back. Tony might trust his teammates, but it wasn't quite enough yet to override what Obadiah Stane had done.
He was on the floor on the right side of the bed, and his head was barely peeking over the top of it, so the other Avengers and Pepper couldn't see his problem.
He could hear a faint tremor in his girlfriend's voice, "Jarvis, lights please."
They stepped inside the room. Pepper eyed him with worry while the others did so with both confusion and concern.
"Friend Stark," Thor spoke first, "may I ask as to why you on the floor and hiding like so?"
"Nope," Tony was quick to reply, his voice tight. A small amount of guilt was added to the emotions already churning through his gut when a sad and highly concerned frown marred Thor's face. "And didn't I only call Pepper up? What are you guys doing here?"
Steve chose to speak for the others, "When we heard Jarvis say you needed help instead of saying you wanted to talk to Pepper—"
Tony could see his girlfriend smile at that; it had taken an unbelievably long time to stop Steve from saying Miss potts.
"— we… uh thought we should…" A light blush dusted his cheeks, and he gave a light shrug.
Tony groaned and turned his eyes to the ceiling, "Well, you guys can leave now. I just need Pepper—"
He was interrupted by a sharp laugh, and his eyes snapped back down to see that Clint had walked around the bed, allowing him to see exactly why Tony had needed Pepper's help. The archer pointed at him while he tried to talk between his fading laughter, "That's karma right there!"
Poor Pepper looked further worried and confused at that, but she didn't move from her spot near the door, "Karma?"
"Yeah, that jerk woke me up with the chicken dance song and then flooded my room with feathers. And, everytime I go to the kitchen or the bathroom, Jarvis plays the duck song."
Since Tony was the only real one with a sense of humor — and the victim of his joke was the only one who would've laughed — his chuckle was the only one to fill the room. Although he could've sworn he saw a hint of a smile on Pepper's face. Good.
"So Tony," he lifted his eyes from Pepper's moving mouth to her eyes, "What did Clint do to make you do that?" And of course, Tony knew she wasn't trying to counsel their differences. He knew she had figured out that this had to do with what Loki had done to him, and this was supposed to be his moment of revelation.
Tony swallowed, and his brain once again froze, "Uh…"
Clint scoffed, and he knew the other was rolling his eyes. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the master archer walking up to him. His head whipped around to look at him, but before he knew it, there was a hand on his arm that was pulling him up. He almost didn't hear Clint speak — "Just fucking stand up."
The billionaire was quick to step out of Barton's reach — because physical contact plus a bare arc reactor sometimes equalled flashback to Obadiah. He was lucky he had seen Clint walk towards him. The other gave him an odd look but otherwise didn't say anything.
Then he remembered Pepper; he turned around. The others were looking at the shirt encasing the limbs on his back while Pepper was looking at his wings in general, seemingly oblivious to the fabric.
As her eyes scanned them, he briefly wondered if this was comparable to a girl waiting for the result of her pregnancy test, just far less extreme… and nerve-wracking… and life changing. So, actually, the two situations really weren't similar… at all. And where had he been going with this?
Tony had the sudden urge to jump when her eyes moved to his face, examining him. He nervously waited for her reaction, and he certainly had not expected her to sport a small smile and giggle. He was glad he wasn't the only one unable to keep the surprise off his face.
"I can't believe you were afraid to tell me about this Tony. You actually had me worried for a while there." She let out another giggle. "Hold tight, I'm going to grab some scissors." Pepper walked out the door.
"So," the archer drawled. "Is it her time of the —"
"Clint," the red headed Avenger spoke. He stiffened.
Tony held in a snort. He supposed Pepper's behaviour had been odd, but there was a much better explanation. He could admit he had made the wings seem way worse than they actually were, and Pepper had most likely expected something worse to have been done to him. She probably had just been happy to know that she hadn't been right.
It was then that Pepper walked in with a rather big pair of scissors.
"Go ahead and sit down Tony." He sat back down on the floor, not wanting to sit on the bed for the fact he had to move his wings to do so.
Pepper squatted down behind him. She gripped the shirt with one hand and although she had done it gently, he winced as it had managed to pull on the red feathers. The genius could practically hear her frown, "Steve, do you mind coming over here and holding the shirt for me?"
"Not at all."
Very quickly, the super soldier moved and sat on his heels beside Pepper. He grabbed the top and bottom of the shirt closest to his shoulder blades, and, just like Pepper had, he pulled them as gently as he could. Once again, Tony couldn't hide his flinch.
He could feel the clothing move against the feathers as the scissors cut through it. The uncomfortable feeling was hard to ignore. His wings shuffled in both irritation and embarrassment. They instantly stilled when he was lightly slapped on the back of his head.
"Stop moving, you'll make it worse," the strawberry-blonde behind him said.
"It's not my fault. They move on their own."
"Well try to keep them still. It won't do you any good if the feathers are bent."
He snorted (he ignored the second slap to the head), some feathers were already bent because of his carelessness yesterday when sitting on a certain couch. Nevertheless, her words circled through his head. He turned his head to the left and looked over his shoulder, "Since when were you a feather expert Miss Potts?"
"I have to be prepared for anything when it comes to you, Mister Stark," she answered slowly, focused on cutting the shirt.
Tony raised a brow and smirked, "Pepper?" She hummed. "You just found out about the wings." She looked up at him then, obviously trying to hide a blush.
"It's obvious you don't want the feathers bent, Mister Stark, or is common logic too simple for a certified-genius like yourself?" His cocky expression didn't change in the slightest at her jab, and he waited. When she groaned, he knew he had won.
"I had a pet cockatiel when I was a kid. He was really clumsy, and I always had to fix his feathers for him."
A chuckled sounded: Clint. He had forgotten that the others were still there. His wings ruffled as he turned his head to look at the archer.
"That's great. Your girlfriend's using her experience with pets to—"
"Haha," Tony interrupted, his voice tight with sarcasm. "Yeah it's great, hilarious. How about you go now!?"
When it was clear that Clint didn't want to leave quite yet, Bruce cut it. "Jarvis do you mind playing the Duck Song?"
Barton walked out the door before the song could start. "Alright, alright. I got it. Leaving!"
Tony smiled. He was glad he could count on Bruce, but he was also happy that all of his attempts to get the man with the alter-ego of the Hulk to open up had not been for naught. He gave his science bro a thumbs-up.
Bruce nodded with a smile of his own, "You're welcome."
Pepper's scissors reached the tip of his shirt, and the pressure around his wings vanished as the cloth fell to the ground. He sighed in relief and was happy to see that there wasn't further pain created when his wings slumped down to rest against his back, "Ugh, thank god."
With Tony's declaration of relief, he had expected the other Avengers to be satisfied and leave, yet they still stood and the captain remain crouched beside him.
He tried to relax his wings and make them fall to the ground, lose their remaining tension, but it was like they were glued to his back or had a sudden case of stage fright. He couldn't get them to move, not when he was this nervous with the arc reactor being bare around so many people.
Pepper's hand moved to the open space right in between the wings in a soothing manner, and Tony relaxed somewhat. Not just because it was comforting but because it told him that she knew about his messy emotions.
He felt her turn her head to face Steve, but she spoke in a voice loud enough to be heard by the other people in the room. "Why don't you guys go ahead and finish your breakfast? We'll join you in a little bit."
The Captain blushed, "Sure, we'll leave you two alone."
"Why Steve," he looked at Tony, "Since when were you so straightforward?" The billionaire waggled his eyebrows. Steve's blush intensified. He opened his mouth and no sound came out. He all but fled the room, and the others followed him after shooting Tony exasperated looks.
The hand on his back moved to slap his head for the fourth time that day.
She huffed, "Was that really necessary?"
"I should be asking you that," he said as he rubbed the back of his head.
Pepper grabbed the collapsed shirt that lay around his feet. He rotated in order to see her better until her voice commanded him to stop. "Don't move, we're going to try and get this shirt back on you."
He raised an eyebrow and ignored her words, moving anyway. He was facing her before she could say anything else.
She glared at him and groaned, "Don't you ever listen?" He opened his mouth. "No," she answered her own question. "Of course you don't." Tony smirked and moved his eyes down to look at the spread out shirt at the same time she did. It had an almost perfectly straight line, ruined by the tearing of the scissors, going down it's back. Pepper looked back up at him with a smug smile, "Turn around."
"But Pep," he whined childishly, "I don't wanna move!"
She adopted a sorrowful look, placed her hand on her cheek, and sighed, "Shame. I guess I'm going to be lonely tonight." His eye twitched. Pepper sighed again, prolonging it far more than necessary. "And to think that I wanted to show you a new trick."
"Wait, trick? What trick?" Her eyes moved to the ceiling, and she sighed once more, ignoring his words completely. "What trick? Pepper, you're killing me here!"
"Now if only you could turn around so I can help you with your little shirt problem." Her blue eyes finally moved down to look at his brown ones. She waited. A smile tugged at her lips as she watched his resolve slowly crumble.
Tony grumbled as he finally turned around so his back faced her. "Huh," he looked over his shoulder at her voice. "Guess you can listen."
His wings collapsed to the ground at that, showing his irritation and defeat clearly. "You aren't fair."
"I know." Tony heard the cloth move. "Now move your wings up."
A moment passed, yet the appendages remained lax. Would she believe him if he said he couldn't move them? He really hadn't been able to before, but he knew he could now. He just really didn't want to. It was like it was his stubborn way to refuse them. If he could have someway to show that they weren't really a part of him, it would be like saying that they would disappear and go away sooner.
"Tony?" Pepper's voice was soft, lacking the teasing tone from before. For once, he wasn't sure he wanted her to know about something, so, after another moment of hesitation, he slowly lifted the wings up so they framed his head like the letter Y. The feeling of them moving through the air and against both his back and the glass of the large window unfamiliar. The soft fabric of the cut shirt pressed up against his back and wings; he assumed Pepper was trying to see how to make it so he could wear it.
"You know," the sudden sound of her voice caused both him and his wings to flinch slightly in surprise. "They're not all that bad, Tony." He was about to send a glare over his shoulder when he recalled that his wings were in the way. The genius settled for giving a scoff full of disbelief and slight irritation. She was too damn perceptive, seriously how did she know he hated the new limbs?
"It's a very important skill that I had to acquire after working for you for so long."
Did he say that out loud?
"You did," she confirmed.
"And," Pepper continued, "Since you're so damn quiet about everything — I mean come on — who doesn't tell someone they're dying!?"
Tony winced and offered a cough, "Getting side-tracked here, Pep."
She went on oblivious, "I sort of have to figure you and your wacky emotions out for you."
Tony wisely stayed silent, figuring this was her way to get her own wacky emotions out — the ones created from her worry for him. First had been the odd happiness and next was anger. It had gone about the same after New York.
The strawberry blonde sighed, "Anyway, I really don't think these wings are all that bad," she distractedly brushed her hand over one, making him shiver. "I mean you really just have to find a new way to wear to your shirts, which can be solved by doing this," her tone caused him to turn around, wings dropping back down to his back and the carpeted floor.
Pepper had positioned the scissors so they would cut an odd u shape from shoulder to shoulder. The new hole in the shirt went past his shoulder blades, allowing his wings to be free of the shirt.
She handed it to him. "Here, put this on," he did as she asked, putting his arms through the sleeves; the back of the shirt hanging off to his sides. He watched her walk to the other side of the bed to the dresser. She reached a hand into the drawer to pull out three — baby pins?
Why were those in his room?
"Not a word Tony," she said looking straight at him.
She moaned in irritation, a light blush on her cheeks, "You're a genius figure it out." He blinked, and she groaned again, her blush getting darker, "I sleep in here, with you. And sometimes, my clothes get ripped, and I refuse to go out wearing your clothes when people like Clint or people from the 1940's live in the same household as us."
Ah, right, and Pepper hated sewing… Her words sunk in, and he smirked, "You afraid of little ol' Clint?"
She crossed her arms, "Well, he is the one who kept interrupting everyone to make sure I didn't know anything about you, just because you had pissed him off." Tony held in a snicker; Pepper only used vulgar language when she was flustered or, of course, angry. His wings, however, once again betrayed him as they hopped off his back in what could only be described as a laugh (his face also somewhat helped in that conclusion). Pepper glared, "Do you want me to fix your shirt or not?"
"By all means, go right ahead Miss Potts."
Before he knew it, the three baby pins were secure and connecting the back of the shirt. The small pieces of metal were cold against his back, but that was really the only discomfort.
"There we go," Pepper said, rubbing her hand along the spot where the baby pins were located. "See? Easily fixed. We can probably have Jarvis change a couple more shirts and replace the baby pins with velcro. And there we go, shirt problem solved," her hand slowly moved up, so it was on the bare skin between the two wings. He trembled at the touch and felt his wings lose all the tension that had remained. "I'm sure with that genius brain of yours, you can tweak your suits to fit these in no time, and I know I'll get hell for for canceling all of your press conferences… but I can do it until we figure out a way to hide these when you're in public."
He looked back at her, "How do you expect to hide these?"
Tony was slightly surprised when she leaned forward and kissed his cheek, "I have the utmost faith that we can figure it out. Besides the fact that I already have a few ideas."
"Care to share?"
She hummed, "I'll wait for everyone else to hear…" He expected her to continue with a teasing comment, but there was an only silence. She brushed her hands over his wings to delicately straighten the feathers.
He knew she was expecting him to say something, though he wasn't sure as to what. He mulled over what she said and realized the underlying meaning.
Pepper had said there wasn't anything really to worry about since the majority of the problems caused by the wings were either solved or addressed, and even she, her little mind reader, couldn't understand as to why he was so… negative about things that weren't all that bad.
Yet he couldn't explain how in his eyes (along with much exaggeration), it was far too reminiscent of Obadiah, of being betrayed. Not to mention that they were a huge nuisance.
But he supposed he hadn't looked at the positives of these yet, and if he were to have them for a while, it would be much more beneficial if he were to accept them, even if that could lead to him loving and becoming attached to them (but he was technically already attached to them, so he had one part down). And he could tell that his emotions were confusing and weighing Pepper down.
Tony moved his head to look back at Pepper and reassure her that he would get himself together when his eyes caught the sight of the scenery just beyond the window, to the rolling clouds and the over-reaching sky. For once, he wasn't mad at his wings when they responded to his thoughts and vibrated with an odd and newfound energy.
Step one of getting himself to like them: use wings for what they're meant for.
"Pepper, I need to go to the roof."
I hope that was a good place to end it. I had written half of the chapter when I realized I had no idea of when I was going to end this, and since I ended the last chapter with dialogue as well I thought, why not? :P
Anyway, I hope everyone was in character, I felt like Tony was a little (and I have no idea about Pepper), so I would appreciate any feedback you guys might have, I'm still getting used to writing all their characters and staying consistent :P
I really hoped you guys enjoyed the chapter. Hopefully the next chapter won't take nearly as long as this one did, though I can't say I have no idea as to when it will come. So I hope you guys can be patient with me, I'm terribly slow :P
And it makes me feel terrible with all the follows, favorites, and kind reviews you've given me DX
Hopefully I'll "see" you guys again soon :)