Standard disclaimers apply.

Pepper Pott's phone rang, and she blinked the sleep out of her eyes to see that she had passed out on the long white couch in Tony Stark's living room once again. Her laptop was deep in screen saver mode, and she knew that behind the Stark Industries logo moving slowly across the screen were dozens of emails left unanswered. Tony had been missing for three months, but that didn't mean Pepper's job had gotten any easier. There were still messages to respond to, board members to placate, and endless streams of press conferences where she had to tell crowds of people who didn't even know Tony Stark, that there was still no sign of him.

She rose to her feet, stumbling over a pair of red-soled Louboutin heels she'd left at the foot of the couch as she moved to retrieve her cell phone. The caller identification flashed James Rhodes in neon white letters. As far as she knew, Rhodes was still looking for Tony in Afghanistan. Her fingers fumbling blindly, Pepper opened the phone and said, "Rhodes? What is it?" There was no answer from the other end of the line.

"Rhodes," she said again. "Is it about Tony?"

"Hi, Pepper," said an achingly familiar and deliberately nonchalant voice.

"Tony?" Pepper breathed.

"Did I wake you up? I forgot about the different time zone. It's... what, two in the morning there? Yeah, two. My math is never wrong. Sorry I woke you up."

"Tony," she said, sinking back onto the couch and wrapping one arm around her stomach, "Oh, god, Tony. Are you alright? Where are you? Are you hurt?"

"I'm fine," Tony said, and she could hear the suppressed smile in his voice. "Mostly intact, even. I'm on my way home."

"You're sure you're alright?" she asked.

"I'm sure," he said.

"Could you just... say something sarcastic, or perverted, or incredibly inappropriate? Please?"

Sounding mildly confused, Tony said, "I'm trying to get a mental image of you, so tell me, Pepper, what do you wear to bed?"

"Thank you."

"What was that about?" he asked.

"I just wanted to make sure I wasn't dreaming. But I couldn't have come up with that line, even in my subconscious."

"So you dream about me often?" he said.

"That's enough, Tony," she said. "I get it, you're really alright. Now don't make me wish you weren't."

"I missed you too, Pepper."