Summary: An aftermath, for the everyday person, is the result of a catastrophic event. For Tony Stark, an aftermath is just another regular day in his life. SPOILER ALERT: Set after Captain America: Civil War.

Standard disclaimer for all my stories: My stories are graphic, angsty, frustrating, filled with cliffhangers, drama and foul language. Read at your own risk – medical issues and subsequent bills are not covered by yours truly ;) If you don't like, please don't read. I appreciate reviews and constructive feedback but if you cannot stand the plot, save yourself and me some time and walk away. You don't have to love all IM stories :) I don't own IM. My stories are better viewed by using the "half screen" option of FFNET.



She was too engrossed in catching up with their injured friend to become aware that she was being keenly watched from afar – to become aware of what her presence was doing to him. He had not seen her in person, or at least not this close, in what seemed to be several weeks; perhaps much closer to a couple of months, in fact. Quite possibly, thinking about it further, it was most likely a lot longer than that. It was nowhere near a year, however; that much was true. But it was long enough to feel as if three eternities had gone by. Hell, maybe four!

Tony Stark silently scoffed at his own denial of the issue at hand – at the fact that he was, yet again, lying to himself. At the irony that was to be caught red-handed undertaking the one thing that he had been accused of continuously doing by the very same redhead that was unsuspectingly sitting by Rhodey's bedside, at this very moment, behind the glass wall that barely kept his presence from being noticed by either of them.

Virginia Pepper Potts: she knew him too well, and that was the problem. She could tell when he was lying to others. And, worse than that: she could tell when he was lying to himself.

How long had it been since she had told him this? How long had it been since she had walked out the door on him because of it?

Six weeks? Two months? A whole fucking year? Who the hell knew?

I do, the billionaire thought somberly before he shook his head, stared at his feet for a moment, and then looked up again to watch Pepper wipe tears from her face.

If truth be told, and he was not really known for doing much of this in everyday life, he actually knew the exact number of months, weeks, days, hours, and seconds that they had been on a break. He appeared to have some type of innate internal calendar that kept filling up every morning, as soon as he opened his eyes, with yet another instance of the life that was now his reality – filling up his soul, as it would add yet another grain inside a sand clock, with one more day that was going to go by with him not waking up by her side.

Oh, yes. He most certainly knew just how much time had passed since she had ended the relationship – there was no doubt about that. Yet, he firmly kept back from officially quantifying the lapse. If he were to say aloud the precise count to the defined level that he knew it to be, he feared that it would cement the undesirable outcome; that it would guarantee that there would be no turning back for them.

That it would make extinct all of his hope.

His head shifted to his right, his gaze simultaneously staring at everything and nothing, and it focused only when he realized what he had just done once more.

He was, yet again, guilty of lying to himself.

No hope. He already knew that there was no hope.

He clenched his eyes shut and returned his head to the front. He inhaled deeply through his nose, swallowed hard a couple of times, and then finally opened his eyes. It took him a second or so, but once it dawned on him that her blue ones were staring back at him, he was paralyzed where he stood.

He momentarily pursed his lips when he realized the poor choice of words that had echoed in his head. Yet, thankfully for him, Rhodey could not read his mind. On the other hand, Pepper Potts did not need to be capable of doing that. And, at this very moment, as her eyes bore the clear signs of crippling mixed emotions swirling within one's fractured soul, he came to the realization that neither did he need to do the same for his former ladylove.

She was more than just a little disappointed.

And she was disappointed in him.

A/N: *slowly walks up the dusty, cobweb littered stage, taps microphone, and clears throat* This thing still on? Yeah? OK. Cool. Hi! Remember me? Been long, huh? Any of my Iron Man fanfic Faithful Readers still out here? Any of them willing to join me in another angsty fic? Are we all alive here, even after watching Civil War? *sighs* Yes. I just got back from watching that awesome movie, but I'm also so very bummed at finding out what happened to our Pepperony. I've spent the last three years writing Pepperony under Iron Man: Armored Adventures, and then I find out what Marvel did to our favorite couple.

I sob.

Tissues, anyone?

Anyway, I refuse to accept MCU Pepperony is over, so to deal with the pain, here's a story that I have no idea where it's gonna go, save for one crucial thing: it will bring our couple back, even if just for our fic world.

Hope you enjoy :)