Disclaimer: I do not own nor do I claim to own any characters or concepts related to Iron Man or the associated Marvel Universe. This is a nonprofit work of fanfiction. Obviously.

Author's Notes: Unrelated to the flashfic requests, lj user lazaefair requested "post-movie, the third time Tony and Pepper got into some awkwardly romantic tension and didn't resolve it." I wrote this waaaay back in May 2009, so keep that in mind.

And with this story, I can finally mark this collection as complete. Thank you so much to everyone who has read, commented on, and/or favorited these stories over the last couple years. Thank you. :)

The Necessity of Open Communication

The line connected in the stairwell between the ninth and tenth floors. Outside the broad windows the sun was setting, blazing like a dying fire on the horizon over the city. Pepper cupped a hand over her mouth and turned to face the window.

"Yes, hello, are you there?" said Tony, his voice faded in the sound of rushing wind. The suit, of course. "Speak up, Miss Potts, I'm a busy man with things to do."

Pepper spoke as quietly as she could manage without sacrificing lucidity. "Tony, you can't just abandon board meetings like that; half the majority stockholders are up in arms. Where are you?"

He dodged the question with practiced grace. "Is that concern I hear?" he said. "Concern, perhaps, for your dear old boss?"

"Concern for your stockholders, maybe," she said. Pepper shifted, resting her shoulder against the window. The glass was cool, cool even through her sleeve; winter had borne down on Los Angeles with uncharacteristic severity. Very softly she said, "You shouldn't charge off like that, you know. Not without telling someone. Half the time no one knows where you've been until the evening news rolls out."

"You're right, I'm sorry, how thoughtless of me. I'll be sure to run my schedule by the next supervillain who decides to point a death ray at the Empire State Building."

The sun was sinking faster now, the inferno slipping away beneath the city line. The glass windows of the surrounding buildings caught and reflected the passing light: red here, orange there, a myriad of heated colors fading into blue.

"That's not what this is about," she said at last.

"Missing me already?" said Tony.

"Tony," said Pepper.

The line was silent. The sun slipped lower.

"Right, sorry," he said; and he meant it this time. "The old guys that mad?"

She smiled reflexively. "Not that mad," she said. "A little grumpy."

"And yet, you with the panicking," he said. A dull roar blasted through the connection before she could mount a decent defense of herself, and Pepper held the phone from her ear, wincing slightly.

"On my way home," said Tony over the roar. "Keep the porchlight on."

This story was originally posted at livejournal on 05/06/2009.