Title: I'm Working On It
Author: Sare Liz
Disclaimer: So not mine.
Universe: Iron Man movieverse, TS/PP
Author's notes: …here goes nothing.
Like most of his good ideas, this one came from out of nowhere. Or perhaps it was better to say that it came from nowhere, but was laid on the foundation of those two moments of the last six months – forgetting her birthday again, and the moment of seeing her from across the ballroom in that blue dress.
And of course, the idea was set in the context of reality, and shape of his life. And that life had dramatically changed the moment his chest was penetrated by shrapnel that came from his own factory. And though the world had not quite caught up to the state of his reality, his days of being the playboy of the western world were over. It just seemed so unimportant now.
Of course, with Obadiah gone, he was going to have to be much more present in Stark Industries, and business would be taking up much more of his time from now on. But to be certain, he was in a better position with the board now that stock had jumped 78 points since the press conference two weeks ago.
Still, he thought as he verified the right stores in downtown L.A. to go to with Jarvis, there would be enough time for everything. There always was. And somehow there would be enough time for this, this good idea of his, though he was damned if he knew how to go about it. He'd never actually been in a meaningful relationship in his life. He wasn't precisely sure why he wanted to start now, or at least, he wasn't able to put it into words, but there was something about her that called to him in an almost foreign way. She knew him. She knew every dirty little secret, plus all of the dirty little facts that were never secrets at all, and she was still around. She was the perfect assistant, it was true, but Tony couldn't help but wonder if he played his cards right, if Pepper might not be willing to become the perfect superhero's girlfriend.
But first things come first. He needed to properly apologize for leaving her on the roof of the Disney ballroom before anything else. And this, for better or worse, was not something that he'd ever done before.
Which perhaps explained her confusion as the car pulled up smoothly to the high-end boutique. Pepper looked over at him with the question in her eyes as they waited for the door of the Bentley to be opened.
"And why are we here?" she asked.
He got out of the car without answering and adjusted the sunglasses on his face as he held out a hand to her, taking over the usual job of the chauffer, as he did upon occasion. This time though, he held on to her hand for perhaps just a moment longer than necessary.
"This, my dear Pepper, is an apology. Savor it."
"An apology for what?" she asked, her voice tinged with wariness as she followed him toward the boutique.
"An apology for abandoning you so cruelly at the Fireman's Benefit."
Tony watched her blink as he held the boutique door open for her.
"This really isn't necessary, Mr. Stark," she said, her tone formal in that weirdly intimate way.
"Oh, but it is, Miss Potts. In fact, I absolutely insist," he replied with the same strange formal intimacy bred over the last nine years.
And so they shopped. Three hours and five stores later she had three new suits, a gorgeous evening gown, seven pairs of shoes and a very intriguing set of lingerie.
"Tony," she had said with something like panic in her voice, "we are not going into Agent Provocateur. You are not buying me anything from that store."
He hadn't stopped moving toward the door.
"No," she said quietly, but frantically.
"Yes," he said with calmness and serenity, already imagining the lovely Miss Potts in a white garter belt and silk stockings. Yes, he thought, a nice virginal white for Pepper Potts. While it was a statistical improbability that she actually was a virgin, relatively speaking she had nothing on him, so white it would be.
"No." The whites of her eyes were showing.
He took her hand in his and rubbed her knuckles with his thumb. "We don't have to buy anything, just come inside. That's all. Just come inside." He applied a steady pull to her hand and when she finally relented, he tucked the hand in the crook of his arm and pulled her close to him.
"Tony," she started, speaking in such a low voice no one else would hear. "Why are you doing this?"
"I told you. This is an apology," he remarked calmly.
"You've already apologized enough. I know how much you hate shopping for other people. Remember? I do all your shopping for you?"
"Well, then you can think of this as a treat for me, doing so well in my apologizing, because I guarantee you that I'll enjoy this store." He fingered a red teddy as they walked by and glanced up to see that Pepper's blush came close to the color of the lace.
Wandering nonchalantly by the section with the garter belts, he snagged a white one in her size – he'd been paying attention at the other stores. Size 6 dress, size 8 shoes, preferably with a four inch heel that brought her to exactly 6'1" – the perfect height, in his opinion.
"If you think I'm wearing that for you, you're out of your mind."
Tony looked over at her, all innocence. "Pepper, I'm flattered that you'd even think of it."
"I'm not wearing it. For anyone. Ever."
"Don't like the color?" he asked, reaching back for a black one before changing his mind and grabbing a pale blue one instead.
"It's a garter belt!" she said with quiet vehemence, and a light to her eyes he found fascinating.
"Yea," he replied, raising a single eyebrow, grinning, and staring her dead in the eye.
She glared at him. "You know," she said, "you haven't had any of your… traditional companionship since you go back. That's six months now. Perhaps you ought to look into that, sir."
Tony shifted so he was standing right in front of her, and held both of her hands for a moment. "Funny, about that. My tastes seem to have changed somewhat. My… traditional companionship no longer seems quite so compelling." And with that he turned around and wandered off into the aisles, seemingly leaving her alone.
Of course, fifteen minutes later, he came back with an armload for her to try on.
And three minutes later, he knocked on the door.
"Don't I get to see?"
"You modeled for me in all the other shops."
"I wouldn't count on it."
But not long after she did emerge, there was a large pile of rejects that did not include the pale blue garter belt. He said nothing, nor gave any indication of his barely suppressed glee.