TITLE: Yes, Virginia, There Really Is An Iron Man
SUMMARY: Pepper deals with Tony's newfound lease on life and ends up making a mountain out of her molehill of emotion where her boss is concerned.
DISCLAIMER: Iron Man etc. belong to Marvel Comics et. al.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: MOVIE-VERSE. I loved this movie. And I really wanted Tony and Pepper (well, "Virginia," really) to resolve that whole oozing tension thing.
"The truth is… I am Iron Man."
Pepper Potts immediately dropped her face into her palm. Stick to the damn cards! How hard is that, Tony?
The quiet reporters became one mass of flashing cameras and shouting voices to the point where Tony Stark just smiled guilelessly and ignored the seething look that Rhodey was giving him. Shrugging, Tony tore up the blue note cards and tossed them into the air before heading towards the door he'd just come in through. Rhodey could handle things from here.
Pepper was right on his heels.
"Anthony Stark!"she shouted. Tony grinned to himself and kept on walking.
"Virginia Potts!" he mimicked—high pitch and facial expression included. They were heading for the elevator that lead to the garage, though Pepper was in too much of an angry haze to notice. "Are we going to do that entire first name thing again, Pepper, because I know you hate being called 'Virginia.' I would so win this argument we're about to have."
They both stepped into the elevator as it arrived. Tony pressed the button for the first level of the garage and yanked the knot out of his tie. Pepper crossed her arms and looked at a fixed point just beneath the security camera. She didn't even move until the elevator came to a stop—and when Tony headed for his car she followed with angry footsteps. Ones that would only make her feet hurt later—especially with the shoes she was wearing.
"Stick to the note cards—take no questions… How hard is it to do just that? " she muttered and paused by the passenger door of Tony's silver Audi—waiting while he unlocked everything.
"Not hard at all. And I didn't take the question—I was trying to shut her up."
"By answering her question?!"
Tony smothered a grin as Pepper jumped into the car and slammed her door. "You hungry?" he asked once he got settled behind the wheel.
"A little. I skipped breakfast and—hey! No!" she waved a finger in his face and buckled her seatbelt at the same time. "You do not get to change the subject."
"But I'm trying really hard. Look, it's not a big deal. How's IHOP sound?" he started the car and pulled out of the parking garage—moving seamlessly into the daily traffic.
Pepper blinked at him. "'Not a big deal?' Tony, people would, and will, kill to have that technology. Kill you, specifically."
Tony smiled reassuringly. "You're worried," he stated.
"Of course I'm worried. You have no idea what I went through when you…" memories flooded back to her and Pepper found herself looking out of the window at the moving traffic. She hadn't given up on the hope that Tony was alive and when he'd come back with a hole in his chest she'd felt like someone had picked at an important thread in the tapestry of her mind and tugged. Things were unraveling.
Tony had grown quiet as well—memories of Yinsen and how he had actually made a friend with someone and how much it hurt to lose him, the physical and emotional pain he'd been in, the mental strain of being held captive by men who had guns he himself had designed—all of it was fresh again. Like a picked scab.
He kept driving, directing the car towards IHOP without thought.
"No, you're right. I do have no idea what you went through," Tony muttered quietly.
Pepper suddenly looked at him and could almost see what he was thinking just by the expression on his face. There was pain there—more than she had gone through.
"I'm sorry, Tony."
And the argument winner is… Tony Stark!
He hid his smile well. "It's okay, Pepper. You're allowed to worry. But I'm allowed to make my own decisions."
He pulled into a parking space a decent way from the door. "Okay, we're here."
She looked confused, then noticed the sign on the building in front of them. "IHOP?! Are you serious?"
Tony unbuckled his seatbelt and pushed the button on Pepper's. "Totally. I want French toast—you?"
Pepper gaped at her boss for a small moment—then gave into that unraveling tapestry thread and shrugged. "Why not," she muttered to herself. "It's called the 'International House Of Pancakes' for a reason. I want pancakes."
Tony Stark hopped out of the car with a sarcastic groan. "Where is the adventure in that?"
"I'll use three different types of syrup," Pepper answered once he joined her in step on the way to the entrance.
He hooked her arm through his. "Now that is spontaneous."
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