Title: The Origin of Rocky: Iron Dog

Author: A.j.

Rating: G
Notes: Once upon a time, Michelle told me she'd only read Iron Man fic if someone wrote "Tony and Pepper get a puppy." This is that fic. (Part 1 in the furthering adventures of Rocky: Iron Dog.)

&

It starts because Tony is easily distracted.

Okay, no, it starts because Tony is a slob and easily distracted. And likes eating bagels while working on highly technical blue-prints of indeterminate nature and isn't paying attention when Pepper walks up behind him.

Pepper's woman enough to admit that half the reason she takes her shoes off after 5pm is so she can sneak up on Tony and make him yelp like a little girl.

"I was eating that!" Is what follows after this one.

Pepper just smirks and eyes the bagel that's face-down on the shop floor. She might have felt bad about it except that Tony built scrubbing robots to take care of the garage, so Juanita and Leo don't have to do any damage control.

"You just weren't paying attention. And now there's jam all over the floor." She eyes it. "Grape?"

"Blackberry, and this isn't good. You know if I had a dog, it would just eat the bagel and jam and I wouldn't have to get the mopping bots out." Later, Pepper knows that she misses the thoughtful rather than silly look because it's 6:30 on a Friday and she's due at the Galleria Theater in forty-five minutes for a showing of X-Men with Nancy from accounting.

So, instead of doing her level best to dispel this little idea, she shoves her clipboard under his nose and wags a pen at him. "Right. I need you to sign this."

He does.

&

Two weeks later, she's running late. There's a traffic jam on the 101 (no surprise) that's been exacerbated by a minor hostage situation. She rolls her eyes when she notices Tony jetting in overhead, making dire observations about his person and how was it that he could build the most advanced weapons systems on the planet, but not actually put a jetpack in her trunk.

She's disgruntled about that all the way up to the mansion. She's actually still grumbling about it when she comes in the back door into the kitchen and goes completely ass over teakettle thanks to a roly-poly ball of fur.

Her head is throbbing - it glanced off the center island - and when the world finally stops moving and she's able to pry open an eye, there's a puppy calmly watching her from about two feet away.

"Oh, hell no," she says, and then swears.

The puppy, all ears and feet just gets up, wags its tail and licks her chin.

&

"You realize that you live on a cliff, right?"

"Are you sure you're okay? That's a really good black eye you've got."

"This is your fault and I'm putting in for workman's comp tonight. Also, you live on a cliff."

"Whatever, and why do you keep pointing that out? I'm aware I live on a cliff. I was intimately involved in the building of this house ON this cliff."

"You have a puppy."

"I named him Rocky. He's a mastiff."

"Of course he is, and you live on a cliff."

"Will you stop harping on that? WHY are you harping on that?"

"Because you don't actually have a yard."

"There's the rock garden."

"You don't have a yard where little puppies can take a bathroom break."

"Oh."

"Yes, oh."

"Well. You are my assistant-"

"I am not walking your dog."

"But you're my assistant! 'Everything Mr. Stark requires', remember that?"

"That wasn't actually an oath, you know."

"Rocky looks kind of funny."

"He's your dog."

"He's cute."

"He's very cute. I'm not walking your dog."

"I'll give you a raise."

"You keep saying that, and yet, no jet pack."

"Are you sure you don't need to see a doctor? Head trauma can be sneaky."

"Never mind. Oh, and you might want to get out the mopping robots."

"Why?"

"Because Rocky doesn't seem very patient."

"What? Oh, that's nasty."

"Maybe you can get Happy to do it."

&

In the end (after several fights, a raise, and a Mexican stand-off that ends with Tony agreeing to add a dog run), Pepper walks Rocky. It isn't that bad, and it does get her out of the house for her breaks. Admittedly, she has to schlep up and down the driveway so that Rocky will actually have a place to do his business, but once she brings in a pair of NewBalance sneakers and the blisters heal, she's good to go.

Turns out, he's actually decent company. He, for one, doesn't actually talk back.

"You know, I've known your master for a long time now," Pepper muses to Rocky as he investigates a particularly interesting bush. "It seems like longer than it is, but that's mostly because he's.. well. Him. Did you know you were an impulse buy?"

Rocky answers by relieving himself on said bush.

"Mmm. He really doesn't have very good impulse control." She and Rocky make it another fifty feet down the driveway before there's a squirrel and a short but vicious fight about leaving the path. After finally hauling him out of the brush, Pepper makes a mental note to sign him up for obedience training. He's only three months old now. She has no desire to find out where a full-grown Rocky could drag her.

"Actually, you're not that bad." Pepper smiles at the puppy as he wags his tail and snuffles the ground. "Plus, you chewing up all the crap Tony leaves in the living room is pretty great. I've been trying to get him to keep his mechanical stuff in the basement for years. This is the best negative reinforcement ever and he totally can't blame me at all."

-fin-