Title: Across the Universe
Author: chocolatemooses
Chapters: Fighting
Disclaimer: I don't own Iron Man...you win this time Stan Lee.

AN: Another day another chapter. Sorry this one took so long, I got a little stuck towards the end. Please review it helps me so much and it really motivates me to write more. Enjoy.


Justin Chambers was in love. Madly in love. She was everything to him; beautiful, brilliant, and utterly ruthless. Before her, he had only dated idiots, trophy wives, arm candy. That was the only category he had thought women really fitted into; the smart ones were always cows. Until she came into his life he had never felt the need for…anyone. He had seen people as morons or competition; he still thought the same of the general population. But not her, she was perfect. She had walked into his life with those stiletto shoes of hers and no shit attitude and blown him away.

Now he was bent over her (and his desk) breathing like he had just run a mile. His pants and boxers hovered somewhere around his knees, he was still fully clothed from the waist up and his shirt was only slightly stained with sweat. Stacey had hardly removed a single item of clothing, her skirts bunched up around her stomach (she had gone without pantyhose today, to Justin's delight). Only one button on the top of her once crisp but now slightly damp white blouse was undone, a testament to how little patience her lover had when it came to lunchtime rendezvous.

She was patting his hair absent-mindedly, running her fingers through his scalp. Justin picked up a golden curl that danced in front of his eyes. He wrapped it around his finger, in a similar way she wrapped him around hers. He pulled it gently and it bobbed like a spring. "I like it better when you straighten your hair. You look more frightening that way. When you wear it like this you look like you are five."

Stacey hardly blinked at his comment and shot back, "I enjoy actually having an orgasm during my lunch break, so we can't always get what we want, can we?" Justin rolled his eyes and pulled back from her, falling back into his big black chair. She was unperturbed by his departure and calmly lifted her panties from their place around her ankles and lowered her skirt. The only evidence of their recent activity being the still unbutton button on her shirt.

Justin lolled his head back, "Give me a minute." He was mildly annoyed at the look she gave him, he didn't like thinking that he couldn't please her but he really was too tired to anything about it right now.

"Forget it," she was now teetering on the edge of his desk, her Blackberry suddenly in her hand. "You have a meeting in fifteen minutes and you can't miss this one."

Justin finally brought his eyes to her and gave her, what he thought was, a charming grin. "Do I ever?"

Her eyebrow quirked up but only said, "Indeed." Justin reached down and lifted his pants half-heartedly, still hoping for a quickie before he left.

"You coming to the house later tonight?" Stacey didn't answer him, she completely ignored him. He was getting frustrated by her attitude and his anger was escalating pretty quickly. He repeated himself, only for her.

Stacey still didn't look at him but did answer, "What's the point, from today's performance I can't imagine having a great time."

In a flash, Justin was on his feet and grabbing hold of the wrist that was typing away on the phone. He squeezed tightly, and she met his eyes with her steel blue ones. He backed her up against the desk, his grip so tight that he was positive there would be bruises. He hoped there would be bruises. In a dangerous voice he said, "Don't fuck with me, Miss Keller." She hardly flinched, even when his hand began to travel up towards her neck.

"Really," she said snidely, "that's what I thought you wanted me to do."

Justin's hand reached her neck and he held it tightly, enough for it to hurt but she was still able to breathe, barely. "You know, I could kill you with my bare hands. Without even trying."

"You won't do it."

Justin squeezed tighter and she gasped in. "Oh, really. How do you know that?"

"Because you love me."

Justin stared at her and she glared back. He gave her a parting squeeze before letting her go and leaning back into his chair. "I don't have anyone else but you." He said it plainly without emotion. He probably didn't love her, but he could stand her presence and she tolerated him. He was human, to some extent, and he didn't particularly relish being alone all his life. He was using her and she was using him, but what for he wasn't entirely sure.

Stacey was rolling her eyes as she replied, "Yeah, I know." She was back to typing away, like his threat against her life had never happened. "But I still can't come over tonight. You are leaving tomorrow at noon for Beijing, or did you forget?" She peered at him and Justin sighed loudly.

"Yeah I did forget." Stacey finally put down her phone and crossed over to him, sitting on his lap. She patted his hair gently.

"You can't forget, this is incredibly important, baby. You can't let yourself lose focus, it will ruin everything you've worked for."

"I know, I know. You tell me all the time. You know, after the whole China thing, I think we should get married. Don't you?"

Stacey sighed. "Sure baby. We'll get married after the China thing. I promise." She kissed him on the lips. "Just take care of that first, okay. For me."

Justin buried his head into her soft cradle of her cleavage. "You love me, don't you?"

Without missing a beat she replied, "Sure, sure I love you." He didn't believe her but she said it when he wanted her to and that was all he wanted.



"Morning, or should I say good evening."

"Holy shit!" Tony had wandered into the living room, the day's events still a little hazy in his mind, and was surprised to find two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and Katrina sitting calmly on the couch. He leaped five feet in the air, although he would deny it later. "What the hell are you all doing in my house at," he checked the time, "three in the morning?"

Tunney stood. "Chambers is leaving tomorrow."

Tony scrubbed his face, trying to wake up enough to comprehend the meaning of the agent's statement. After he had left Pepper in his room, he had gone back down to his basement to try to clear his head. He tried to get work done but nothing could push thoughts of Pepper from his frazzled mind. He knew, he knew in his heart, that he could only bring turmoil to Pepper's life but, as time went on, his reasons became less and less convincing. Eventually he realized that no work would get done with the state of mind he was in. So he had tiredly come upstairs, where he had discovered his guests.

Finally he replied, quite intelligently, "Huh?"

"Chambers. We don't know why but he is leaving weeks earlier. We've had someone check his bank records, he has rented two penthouse suites in Beijing and Hong Kong for four weeks." Tunney's face became even more grim. "We don't have anything ready for you. We can't get you any backup or anything for at least a couple more days. We need more time."

Tony crossed his arms deep in thought. Katrina watched the scene, "We can arrange everything for Tony in hours. I can get hotel rooms, contacts, and passes to the Olympics without a problem."

Tunney shook his head, "That's not the problem, we assumed Mr. Stark can take care of all that. The problem is we don't have nearly enough intelligence Chambers' schedule. Our hackers haven't even started working on the encrypted files that we have." Tony opened his mouth to speak but Tunney cut him off. "Make no mistake we can hack it but we need at least 24 hours."

"So why don't you arrest him?" Tony asked looking between the agents.

Sinclair finally spoke up, "We have no concrete evidence against him." He shifted his eyes fearfully to the ground. "Well, no evidence that we could hand over to a judge…or the public."

Tony could see where they were going with this and he was going to put a stop to it right now. "No. As far as they know Pepper is dead, and she is safest that way. You are not going to put her in anymore danger."

Tunney approached closer, trying to get through to the man. "Stark, we need to keep him here. If he leaves the country without you there then there is a good chance we could lose him. We have no evidence, even Pepper's testimony wouldn't be enough to get him extradited. If he leaves now, he is gone."

Tony wasn't moved, Pepper was his main concern. "Find another way, because Pepper isn't going to do this."

"Do what?"

Three heads swiveled around to see Pepper standing in the doorway, still in the same summer dress. She looked confused, her sleepy disheveled hair only added to her innocence and made Tony furious that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents would even suggest putting her in danger. She repeated, "Do what?"

Before Tony could even say a word, Sinclair replied, "We want you to go public so that we can arrest Chambers long enough to get the intelligence that we need to help Tony when he goes to Beijing."

Tony butted in, "You aren't doing it Pepper. It is too dangerous, it will guarantee that another hit will be put out on you."

Pepper's eyes were clouded over with thought. Tony's stomach plummeted, he could tell that she was considering doing this. He couldn't let her, this was exactly what he wanted to avoid.

"Is this the only option?" She asked the agents even though she was staring at Tony.

Tunney, who hadn't offered his opinion on this idea at all, finally spoke up, "It is the best we can do right now." Tony saw a look in the older agent's eyes that was eerily similar to the one he was wearing. "If you don't want to do it we won't make you. This is your decision entirely."

"No it's not." Tony knew he sounded like a child throwing a tantrum but he didn't care. "I am a part of this and I refuse to go through with it if Pepper puts herself in danger."

"I'll do it."

"What!" Tony was incensed. "You aren't, don't you understand Pepper. When they find out that you are alive they will try to kill you and they won't send amateurs this time."

The look in her eyes was one of steel. "I am not living the rest of my life in hiding and the only way I am going to be able to live without fear is if we stop these people."

Tony let out a frustrated growl. "Can we talk in private?" Tony didn't even wait for her to answer; he grabbed her gently by the arm and pulled her into the hallway. When they were alone he launched his attack. "What are you doing? Why are you putting yourself in unnecessary danger?"

Pepper's voice was just as venomous but she kept her to a reasonable level. "The danger isn't unnecessary. You know that this is the only way we can keep this going."

Tony leaned in closer, she had her shoes off so had a few inches on her and he used it to his advantage. "I am not letting you do this."

Pepper's eyes were glassy but she stood her ground. In wavering voice she said, "You wanted to be out of my life. Well, this is how it is going to be." She turned on her heel but Tony's hand shot out. He spun her around so hard that she slammed into his chest. She quickly recovered and tried to pull away but Tony held fast.

He spoke in a near whisper, "This is not what I meant."

Jerking out of his reach, she back away, keeping her gaze on him. "Well this is how it has to be. If I am out of your life I am out of your life. You can't pick and choose the times you are a part of my life. Either you're in it or you're not. I am not your yo-yo!"

She was breathing hard now and Tony was fascinated by the rhythmic rising and falling of her chest. He was soon distracted by the red flush that covered her cheeks and neck. He didn't even realize what he was doing until he was halfway there.

Without preamble, he cupped her by the nape of her neck and brought his lips crashing down on hers ferociously. He vigorously attacked her mouth, even as she stiffened in surprise. After a moment though she began to respond with the same vigor and she brought her arms up and around Tony's neck. Tony was surprised at how warm and soft she felt in his arms, he was melting in her embrace. He gently ran his tongue over her lips, asking her permission.

This seemed to click something in her brain because she gasped and pushed him away. Her face was still flushed and her lips were slightly swollen. She was beautiful and she was frightened. She was waiting for him to say something.

"You can't go public, please. It will be easier when you leave later. The world can go back to pretending that Pepper Potts is dead."

Pepper closed her eyes, whether from exhaustion or pain, he was unsure. "Tony, please stop doing this. I can't take it. I care about you Tony." He shuddered slightly, her words having an amazing affect on him. "I want to be with you but you said we can't. Then, then you do stuff like this and I don't understand. It is driving me crazy, you're hurting me." Her eyes were bright with tears but she was too strong to cry now.

Tony lowered his gaze, her tears too much for him. "I don't want to hurt you, I just want you to be safe. I am doing that the best way I know how." Taking a shallow breath he continued, "I stand by what I said before."

Pepper nodded her head even as a she lowered her eyes, her hair becoming a curtain and shielding her face from his searching gaze. "Then I am sticking by what I said before. If you want to be a part of my life and my decisions all you have to do is say so but right now I can't handle all this." Her gaze burned him as him as she stared him down. Her tone was similar to the one she used when Tony was being particularly troublesome. "As of this moment, Mr. Stark, my life is exceedingly complicated and our relationship is something that must, for the good of everyone, be put on the backburner." She grabbed him by the collar and forced him to pay attention to every word coming out of her mouth. Tony was startled by this massive moods swing but he still hung on every word coming out of her mouth. "But make no mistake. We will be discussing this," she gestured between them, "even if I have to tie you down to do so." With that she swiftly turned and walked out of the hallway, batting at her face with her hands in an attempt rid herself of her tears.

Tony watched her leave the hallway and leaned his body against the wall. He sighed loudly and scrubbed his face once again, using his blunt nails to scratch the sides of his face. He was getting sick of the emotional rollercoaster ride he was on and he felt guilty that he was pulling Pepper along with him. He tried to steel himself against the emotions that were coursing through his veins.

Reentering the room, Tony was unsurprised to find the attention of the room immediately centered on him. He met Kat's eyes, everyone else was too emotional for him and she was the most stable choice right now. She gave him a half smile as he sat on the arm of the couch.

"So what do we do now?" Tony was furious still but he could see that Pepper was not going give in. He knew that he was going to have to be in this 100 percent now with Pepper's safety on the line.

Katrina clapped her hands. "Well, it looks like I have a press conference to organize."


AN:I hope that Chambers and Keller were creepy enough. I really tried to make them like a sick version of Tony and Pepper, sort of like a contrast to our favorite couple. I really don't like that ending but I didn't want to get into the press conference yet so... Please R&R! And yes, I know Pepper didn't wok as hard to get her man but, realistically, she has more important things to focus on right now. Like stopping terrorism, so you know, romance kinda goes on the backburner for a moment. But don't worry, life-threatening moments breed romance and there will be many life threatening moments for our heroes.