Title: Across the Universe
Author: chocolatemooses

AN: I recently went camping with some of my friends at June Lake and it seriously got some creative juices moving. I am still stuck on From the Very Beginning but this new story has lots of promise. I have basically the whole thing worked out in my mind, so I should be able to update pretty frequently. Please comment, everything is welcome. Creative criticism is greatly appreciated, it really helps my writing. Enjoy!


Since his time in Afghanistan Tony has become, for all intensive purposes, a changed man. In all the important ways, at least. He still watched a beautiful woman sway her hips as she walked away, he still would make his assistant's life a general headache, and he still would skip big "important" corporate meetings. But he was, for all intensive purposes, a changed man. But even changed men have relapses.

Most recently has been his unhealthy; Pepper's words not his, work binge. For the past two weeks he had been working un-relentlessly on his battered, iron suit. During this time he had ignored everything but the red and gold metal of his super-costume. He had ignored all of Pepper attempts to get him to the leave the basement, all of Rhodey's messages-ranging from furious anger to distressed worry-, everyone of S.H.I.E.L.D's attempts at contacting him (by the way, who the hell did that Nick Fury think he was?), and-most disturbing in retrospect-he had ignored all of Jarvis's concerned reports on Pepper's repeated incidents of tardiness. Lateness on Pepper's part hadn't happened once in the seven years she had been in his employment, if he hadn't been so wrapped up in his work he would have immediately seen this as some kind of warning sign. But he had ignored all of the outside world for the shining gold and red of idealism and his damned ego-driven heroics.

When he finally emerged from his isolation he was surprised to immediately run into an uncharacteristically flustered Pepper who dropped an armful of papers she had been holding unceremoniously on his bare feet.

Laughing good naturedly, he crouched down on his heels, gathering the papers around his toes. He glanced up at Pepper, who was trying the straighten the remaining papers in her hands, and marveled at how much he missed seeing flustered and annoyed Pepper in his daily life.

He got up and handed her the files, saying, "My, my Miss Potts what flew up your skirt? As far as I know I haven't done anything to piss you off recently." He paused, "well, not more than usual."

Pepper rolled her eyes. "It's good to see you too, Mr. Stark. And for once it isn't you that has me in this condi-" Before she could finish her cell phone rang shrilly, as though it was trying to convey that the caller was just as impatient as the piercing ringing. With an exasperated sigh, she held up one finger to silence him.

"Hello, Miss Potts." Another tired sigh, but this time it was more to herself than to the person on the phone. "Yes, Mr. Chambers, he was just about to sign the last of the projections." She gave him a look and tapped at the papers in her carefully manicured hand. "Half are at my house and the rest are still at Stark Industries." Another pause. "Well, sir, you were the one who moved up the due date on the reports by a week. I would have had them ready a week from now, but not today." She was silent once again but this time she didn't even look like she was paying attention to the voice on the other line. "No, I am going to Stark Industries right now then I have to stop at my house to pick up the rest of the files. I should be able to get them to you by," she checks her watch, "7:30." A pause. "Okay. Did you get all of that Stace? Okay, see you soon I guess. Bye."

Tony quirked his eyebrow curiously, idly playing with the hem of his shirt sleeve. It wasn't a sign of nervousness, he just could never stand still longer than a few seconds. Glancing up at his assistant, he asked, "What was all that about?"

"That was Justin Chambers, he needs the stock projections on the new arc reactor tech. The projections were originally due a week from now but Mr. Chambers," He noted with some humor that she said his name far more venomously than she had ever said his, "moved the due date to today." She said all of this in a rushed push of air. "So," she continued, derailing any of his attempts at making a smart remark, "I need you to sign these," she shoved the papers in his face, "right away." He said nothing an annoyed glare was his way. "As in now, Tony."

With a shit-eating grin on his face, he took the papers from her and flew through them with a fast hand. Pepper watched his with a strangely serene stare, as though she thought getting him to sign was to be the most aggravating part of the day (normally he would agree with her but he had driven in LA traffic during rush hour, he had nothing on that).

Handing her the papers back, he gave her his most charming smile. "You know you love me." He stated this as a fact, undisputable and undeniable.

Pepper simply rolled her eyes but he could see her valiant attempts at trying to hide her smile. Her old humor returned, "In your dreams Mr. Stark."

With that she turned on her heels and strode up the remaining stairs. Tony followed her and leaned casually against the wall of the hallway, watching her hips sway slightly as she sauntered away. After a moment, he was finally able to tear his eyes away from her retreating figure and make his way to the kitchen, fully intending to devour most of it contents.

If Tony had known that within the next few hours his beloved assistant's face would be nothing but a bloody caved in mess, he would have grabbed her by the shoulders, held on to her, and never ever let her go.


AN: Don't worry, this is a Tony/Pepper story. So please read on, I promise a happy ending.