Thank you so much to those that have reviewed, you guys are great! I really appreciate it. This chapter brings in the fluffy stuff that I wanted to bring in to this story since before starting it. Hope you guys like it! As always reviews are welcomed :D.
The pounding on the door was incessant. It was after nine and most of the people in the building were gearing down and getting ready to head to bed. Happy had driven manically due to Tony's insistence and had taken his boss his former assistance's location; a girl friend's condo 20 minutes from the mansion.
The person who answered and finally ended the on-going banging was said friend, looking much irritated and with a glare that almost made Tony want to turn away and pretend he'd knocked by accident.
"Is Pepper here?" he asked careful to maintain his anxiety under control and not push her aside to rush in and look himself.
"Maybe, who's asking?" the glare had yet to leave her face.
"My name is Tony, uh Tony Stark," The lack of a response told him that that name didn't much to her, "she came to see me earlier. I really need to speak to her."
She gave him the once over one more time and then immediately closed the door before asking him to wait. A few seconds later it was opened again, this time by Pepper.
"Pepper, hi, how are you?"
"I'm fine Tony. Can I help you with something?"
"I-I came here to apologize. I'm….sorry, for how I reacted." She stayed still waiting for him to continue.
"I-can I come in? I think maybe we should talk further." She simply nodded and stepped aside allowing him to enter. Once he was in she led him to the living room and offered him a drink.
"Coffee?" He said as he took a seat on the couch. He spotted the friend who'd opened the door for him standing in the hallway and he watched her as she stepped through one of the doors and closed it behind her. A few minutes later Pepper came back with two cups. She handed one to him and sat down on the chair across from him waiting silently for him to start.
"When you told me I had a son, I was shocked, but that wasn't what shocked me. What shocked me, Pepper, was that I'd had this son with someone who I felt I trusted and who I thought trusted me. Someone who I was happy to consider a friend-maybe even more-but I was disappointed to find that it had taken two years to finally learn the truth".
"Wait, please, let me finish." She nodded at him, appeasing his desire to continue.
He took a sip of coffee before he started again.
"After you stormed out today, I was left alone with a lot of time to think. I thought about you, about me, about us. I though about why I was mad, why I felt so hurt by your actions and I came upon two conclusions."
He paused for a moment before continuing and watched her. She'd been listening intently to his speech. Her expression looked stressed, ready to jump in and defend herself once again, but still she waited patiently for him to continue.
"First, I've come to realize that you're more than just a friend to me, that you have been for a while now. I care deeply about you Pepper, as a friend, as family, as more than that and I think maybe that's why I reacted the way I did, because I have never felt this way about another person before."
"Tony…" he waved his hand at her gesturing to wait for him to continue. She fell silent again, the impatience for wanting to speak growing with each sentence.
"The second conclusion I came upon was that I don't care anymore. The lies all that, they don't matter, what's important to me now is that everything is out in the open. You told me your secret and now I'm telling you mine, and I hope that this will change things, that we can grow from here, because Pepper, I don't want to loose you again." He fell silent then and waited for her to say something. He hugged the hot cup of coffee tightly between his hands and found himself growing nervous by the silence. He had just basically told her how he felt about her and he felt a bit frightened that she wouldn't feel the same way.
He felt stupid, like a teenager again, waiting to see if the girl he had a crush on would say yes to going to the spring dance. This was bigger than that though, way bigger. This was….love? Maybe it was, maybe it was too early to tell, but either way for him, for all three of them, this could mean changes.
After a few minutes of gathering her thoughts Pepper finally spoke up, her eyes keeping sight with the cup in front of her.
"I'd be lying to you if I said I wanted no more than a platonic relationship with you Tony. That night…that was more than just a drunk reaction I think. As your employee I was always afraid of taking things any further with you, but…even though I can't promise anything…I know I'm no longer afraid to try."
She looked up when she finished and met his eyes. There was a small smile on his lips and his eyes gleamed with hope. She returned the smile and felt a sudden surge of relief run through her. Unknowingly this was the moment she'd been waiting for this whole time; the moment when she could finally admit her growing feelings for her former boss.
"Can I see him?" he asked after he felt the emotions in the room level out.
"He's sleeping right now, but yes you can see him."
She got up from the couch and he followed after her as she led him to the same room which he'd previously seen her friend go into. As soon as they entered they found said friend sitting on the bed next to their sleeping son. She had a huge smile on her face, the baby monitor on the night stand next to her.
She quickly got up from the bed and crossed the room towards the door.
"I'll, uh, I'll be outside if you need me." She winked at Pepper, and smiled at Tony as she squeezed past them to leave the room.
As soon as they were alone Tony stepped close to the bed and sat next to the sleeping child who was lying on his stomach and sucking on his left thumb; his arms and legs splayed out around him.
Pepper moved closer to bed. She found herself almost unable to contain the happiness she was feeling at that moment. She watched Tony as he sat and just stared at their son, taking in the details of the boy's features.
"He's beautiful, Pepper." She smiled, relieved to finally be able to share this with him.
"He looks just like you." She told him. And he did, and it was one of the things that she loved the most. Even at barely a year and a half there was no mistaking that the boy would grow to look just like his father. He had messy brown hair and large brown eyes that were captivating to look at.
"I can't believe I'm just asking this, but, what did you name him?"
"Jason Potts." He cringed a bit, looking a bit put off by the fact that he wasn't given the Stark last name. It actually made her laugh a bit.
"Potts, hmm, I don't know Pepper, that may have to be fixed." He looked at her, a joking look on his face, but she knew he was serious.
"Ha ha ha Tony, very funny. In all honesty though, it's ok with me if you do want to change it."His smile grew. He was learning to accept this new development and enjoying it. Looking down at his son, his own son, who was obviously the very image of his father, Tony felt himself grow more fulfilled and comfortable.
"I can't wait to get to know him, see what he's like." He commented. At this an idea struck in Pepper's mind, a perfect way for father and son to interact. For a second she thought about not going ahead with it, thought maybe it was too soon, but in the end she decided to just trust her instinct.
"You know, Clara and I were thinking of doing some shopping this weekend, do some catching up. It would be great if you could watch Jason while we go."
"Sure, that sounds great. When, exactly?"He asked as still watching the boy and barely registering what exactly she was asking him.
"We were hoping….tomorrow." At this he froze and looked up at her, a perplexed look on his face.
"OK Tony, here's my number, here's Clara's number in case you can't reach me, and here's my pager number." She handed him a piece of paper scribbled with numbers on it, which he looked at with raised eyebrows.
"Pager number Pepper, seriously? Didn't those things go out of style years ago along with VHS tapes?" she rolled her eyes.
"I don't know Tony, but I don't care. When you have a kid, which you do now, you make every effort to be available any way you can." He looked at the numbers one more time and folded the paper putting it in his back pocket.
"Okay, well how long do you think you will take anyways? You know I've never done this before."
"I'm fully aware Tony that you're barely able to take care of yourself-"
"Hey I did okay these past two years." She continued ignoring his input.
"-but I also know that you are more than smart enough to be able take care of a child for a few hours. Besides, you've got Jarvis here who can help you. Clara and I won't take long; we'll be back around four."
"Okay, well have fun then. Now, hand him over." He held his arms out to her impatiently ready waiting for her to finally hand their son over to him.
"God, I can't believe I am crazy enough to be doing this." She said as gave him the child.
"Hey, I do believe it was your idea." He took the child and began making funny faces at him. The boy laughed and started playing with his father's hair, marveling at its slickness.
"Yeah, don't remind. Ok, don't forget what I told you about the diapers."
"Uh, yeah I….got that."
"As you've seen already he knows how to walk so you have to watch him closely or else he'll run off on you and be careful with the bots down stairs and-"
"Pepper, it's fine. I'm not completely incompetent when it comes to taking care of others you know, and I remember when you told me all this the first time."
She stopped her frantic movements and stared at him. He was holding Jason firmly in his arms as the boy made a mess out of his father's hair. Tony seemed completely unbothered by this, and for the first time that morning she didn't feel worried. Everything's going to be ok.
"You're right." She stepped closer to Tony, putting the baby bag around his shoulder and leaned over to give Jason a kiss goodbye.
"Be good for your daddy ok?" the boy smiled up at her nodding.
"Take care and call me if you need anything." She grabbed her purse from the couch and headed towards the front door where Clara was already waiting in her car.
"What, I don't get a kiss?" Tony called out as she was leaving. She answered without turning, a smile plastered firmly on her face.
"Maybe next time Tony."
It was noon around the time that Pepper had gone shopping and left Jason alone with Tony. He was already feeling hungry again, after having had an early breakfast that morning when Pepper came over with Jason, so he decided that the first of bonding they would do would be to spend some time in the kitchen.
"Hey, kid, are you hungry? You think you want some food?" The boy responded by shaking his head up and down smiling enthusiastically.
"Foo'! yea!" taking that as reassurance that food needed to be made, Tony took grabbed the baby bag and took them to the kitchen. He sat Jason down in a tall chair he had bought for him earlier that morning and started rummaging through the bag Pepper had given him.
"Ok, then lets see what your mom put in here for you." He pulled out some diapers, shirts, and empty bottles before finding a number of Gerber baby food containers at the bottom. He pulled them out and set them on the counter observing them closely.
"Apple sauce?" he asked the boy.
"Peas? Bleh, no. Let's see creamy vegetables? Hmm, how about I fix us something instead, huh?" the boy simply smiled as he watched his father go through the contents in the bag.
Tony gathered all the items back up and threw them unceremoniously back into the bag. He set it down and then started going through the cupboards in the kitchen looking for something he could make. Honestly Tony didn't know much about cooking at all. He was used to somebody else always cooking for him, going to restaurants, or ordering out, but knew he had some ready made items in the cupboards that he could probably figure out how to make.
He finally found something that looked appealing enough to him that he knew he could share with Jason. He pulled out a box of Kraft's extra creamy macaroni and cheese and started reading the instructions.
"Boil four cups of water; add half a cup of milk, two spoonfuls of butter….ok. I think I can make this. What do you think?" He held up the box for the boy and let him have a look at the cover.
"Yummy." He responded while tapping on the box.
After finding a pot and measuring cup, which he felt he'd never seen before in his house, he set the water to boil and waited patiently.
He looked down at boy sitting at the chair next to him and found him staring right back. The big brown eyes, which matched his so closely, stared with such an intent curiosity, that Tony felt he was observing him as closely as he himself was observing the boy.
In the short time that he'd spent with his son the night before and this morning, Tony had learned quite a bit about the boy. He'd expected him to be a typical toddler, running around, screaming, making a mess, but he was surprised, and relieved, to find that the boy was nothing like that. Even at such a young age, it seemed like he already had a close understanding of the environment around him. When he and Pepper were talking, he would sometimes look at the boy and find him staring up at him or Pepper watching their movements as they talked. He was a pretty calm child, staying in place when he needed to, but still had a bright personality that kept him laughing and smiling constantly, and as Pepper had warned him, he wasn't immuned from running around and getting into trouble occasionally.
He wasn't usually too fussy, which he was thankful for. When he was left to play, he didn't go around throwing his toys or trying to break them, instead he would sit with his blocks or Lego's and start building them together. He was bright, very bright actually. Pepper told him that his doctor back home had recommended Jason get IQ testing as soon as it was possible, but she said she wasn't in any real hurry to start declaring their son a little prodigy. After all, considering who the father was, she had already anticipated that the boy would inherit his genius.
Tony's thoughts were interrupted when he heard the water boiling in the pot. He went over and finished preparing the mac and cheese and served a small amount on one plate and more on another. He took the small plate and set it on the table in front of Jason with a small fork he had found in the bag Pepper had left for him. He set his own plate across from him and sat down to eat.
"Hmm, this is actually pretty." Tony said after taking the first bite,"I guess I can add cooking to my long list of traits. You like it buddy?" He looked up to find the boy holding the fork unskillfully in his right hand trying to grab the small noodles, his tiny tongue sticking out of his mouth as he concentrated on the task in front of him.
Tony had to laugh a bit at that image and reached out to help him.
"Here, let me help you out." He told him. He set the fork properly in the boy's hand and wrapped his own hand around it as he guided the food into the boy's mouth. He took his time chewing the food and then set out again trying to grab the fork as his father had previously set it, but failing miserably.
In the end Tony had to feed most of the food to the boy himself, though he had succeeded in feeding himself a couple of times.
When they were done he took Jason out of his chair and set him down on the floor allowing him to stand next to him. An idea sparked in his mind, though he knew Pepper wouldn't be too thrilled, he felt he must share it with his son.
"You want to see all the cool robots I have in the shop downstairs?"
"Bots!"He didn't know if he really understood what he was asking him or just agreeing with everything he said, but Tony found he was having fun interacting with his son so far.
"Ok then, come on."He grabbed the toddler's small hand and led him to his work shop downstairs.
Yay! New Chapter! More father-son bonding with Tony and Jason in the next chapter! Love the fluff... :D