A Dim-Witted Form Of Genius
Yinsen broke apart their playful bickering with tea, his hand resting on Rebeckah's shoulder, smiling his tender smile that spoke volumes to the young woman as she leaned into his touch. His touch reassured her, brought her comfort. She watched as Yinsen finally insisted that Tony take a turn on the cot and rest. Two minutes later, Tony was asleep. It gave Becka the chance to talk with Yinsen alone again. Because of Tony's crazy work ethic when he got rolling, he slept infrequently, and not for very long.
"I want to talk with you about religion."
Looking up at him as she sipped her tea again, she smiled, and they moved to sit close to the fire. "What did you want to talk about?"
"You are one of those American Christians." He used that as a statement, not as a question, and the connotations behind that was slightly negative, but not judging.
"I'm doing my best to not be one of the typical American Christians. They're depicted as greedy, hypocritical, and thoroughly bogus. It's a front that many people hide behind to try to justify their behavior, decisions and say 'I'm in progress, so you have to deal with me.' I want to live right by God, Yinsen, not by my culture's standards." She looked into the fire, contemplating her situation and life so far.
"You remind me very much like my wife."
Looking up at the older man, the woman who was the age of one of his children stated, "You tell Tony that she's out there, but I can see what he can't. I can see how your eyes go dark and tired when your family is mentioned." She looked directly into his gaze, not diverted by his glasses, his shield. The young woman leaned in closer. "Where is your wife, Yinsen?"
He didn't answer for a long moment, but didn't break the gaze they shared. He knew that she was a counselor by her very wiring, yet that wiring warred with her administrative talents. She was wise and mature beyond her twenty-two years. He knew that if she and Tony did not end up together for all of time, she would become a close confidant to the man, one who would be a sister to him and the woman he would eventually settle with. She would tell him the truth without sparing his emotions. She would be real.
So he would likewise be real with her.
"She is waiting for me," he murmured. "I am waiting to join by her side."
And he didn't need to say anything more, but his hand soon was held within the young woman's while she comforted her elder, a father to her in this dark place.
She awoke from her nap, disoriented, feeling a hand in hers. "Yinsen?"
A soft sigh met her ears, causing Rebeckah to look up just as Tony whispered, "No, love." He squeezed her hands once, then stroked her palm with his thumb, tracing lines over the top of her hand with his fingers while she slowly gathered her mind together from the unexpected deep sleep. When he saw her eyes focus on him, he murmured, "I would have loved for him to have been here for this time. Even if your pastor's angry with me."
Chuckling softly, she murmured, "We never set a date."
"Which annoys me."
"I lead a double life as it is . . . somehow, I don't think that religion is going to help that any." Tony shifted slightly to ease the pain from his back, earning him a glare from his beloved. "Yes, there was an emergency, and no, I wasn't about to wake you up. You haven't been sleeping well and it's cute to see you napping."
"Are you hurt?"
"Bruised. But okay otherwise."
He wasn't prepared for her tackle, or that she pinned him and sat on his butt while pulling the back of his shirt up to see the bruises and none-too-few scratches.
"You know, what you did there is really kinda hot . . ."
"I don't wanna hear it." She grabbed his wrist, standing and half-dragging him from the couch, leading him to the main bathroom and pointing to his shirt. "Off."
He began to strip-tease, but that only got him a light jab to his gut. Wincing, he finished pulling the shirt off and turned his back to his fiancé, feeling her cool hands resting lightly on the bruises, not hurting him even with that touch. She had him turn so that there was a particular angle that the light hit his back from, and she nodded. Tony was able to watch her in the mirror, seeing the concentration on her face and the light frown on her beautiful forehead. "How do you do that?"
"Do what?" came her absent reply as she turned towards the cabinet and pulled together the materials she needed, placing them on the sink counter as she found them. Rolling her sleeves up, she pulled on medical gloves and turned to prep something liquid. Tony didn't like the look of the clear liquid at all.
Clear stuff stung.
"You aren't turned on. You aren't even halfway seeming to care."
Her hands stilled as she thought about that statement, then continued to clean the shallow wounds on his back. Her voice was soft, tender and filled with all the love in her heart for her man. "I've learned how to ignore hormonal impulses in order to care for someone."
"That doesn't make any sense," he muttered grouchily.
He didn't understand why she chuckled softly, but there was no lack of love in the voice she held for him. "I love you so much more than how my body's reactions dictate me to love you." Pausing, she walked around him to look up at his dark eyes, darker with frustration while hers were bright with love. "Pepper and I have to be the two women on the face of the earth that can resist your physical charms. Tony, your body isn't a draw for me. Your heart, your mind? Those are what draw me to you. That is what Yinsen saw in you, and began to cultivate within you. Your body is a great bonus, but it's not the main draw." She leaned up to rest her nose to his, smiling, then moved back to finish cleaning the scrapes.
Tony grinned like an idiot, euphoric about her love for him.
"I don't feel that this is the right path for you," the board member said stiffly, standing to address the still-sitting CEO. "This choice is going to bring the downfall to the entire company!"
Tony cocked an eyebrow, his hands folded upon the table. "Okay, so my marriage is going to pretty much end the world. Seriously, please enlighten me about this."
"She has no background in the upper echelon of society! Furthermore, she's from the East Coast. Nothing good comes from Boston!"
The heated comment was met with quiet but equally-heated murmurs among the other board members. Most of them had settled in and around New York City, meaning that while there was friendly competition between the two cities regarding sports teams, there was also respect and appreciation of what the other city had to offer.
"So then who would you rather me marry?" Tony asked calmly, twitching his hand to signal Pepper. She, as usual, was taking notes beside him, doing her job as personal assistant and secretary. That twitch meant that she should start looking into this man's background, dig a bit, and see if there was a way that he could be retired soon. She'd have help with it, of course.
The man seemed thrown off that Tony was calm about it. Those who supported his view were also looking shocked. Those who sided with Tony about his marrying Becka were watching him closely. They were the ones who understood the man better than the other half of the board table. "Well . . . Pepper."
They both froze, looked to each other, and scooted an inch farther away from each other. Tony shook his head. "She already mothers me. I don't need to be smothered. Besides. Happy is courting her, and he'd win in a fair fight."
A few of the younger men on the board snickered. They knew Happy. Pepper also piped up. "Not to mention that dating my boss is a bad idea. Anyone dating their boss is a bad idea. That's not my argument, mind you. My stance on not allowing him to court me stems from the fact that our personalities are completely incompatible."
"Good point," Tony muttered, not looking at Pepper. "Besides. I don't see why Becka would cause Stark Industries to spiral down the tubes. If anything, the way she thinks would save us money, help up along the line to become more green and eco-friendly, and probably result in better working relationships among the staff. She's got a lot of innovative ideas on the aforementioned topics, which has opened my mind to possibly using her suggestions." He shrugged, seeing that there were a few non-supporters of his marriage now seeming to listen to his corporate reasoning behind his marriage. "Granted, none of that is why I'm marrying her. She's a vixen and I can't wait to spend my life with her."
"Oh, God, Tony, don't tell bedroom stories during business hours," one of the men laughed, shaking his head. "You're insufferable."
Grinning, he sat back. "If you want to talk to her about her background, then it can be arranged. Contact Pepper and we'll see what schedule can be arra—"
He looked to Pepper sharply, and she thumbed towards the phone behind her, staring at her Blackberry, rereading the note that flashed upon its minute screen. "Call for you."
Cursing, he swung out of his chair to pick it up. "Hello?"
"It's Fury. We have a situation. Come to HQ for a briefing."
Dropping the receiver back onto the cradle, he strode out of his board meeting. "Sorry, emergency! We'll finish this discussion later! Pep! Get Happy, pick up Becka, order pizza, and you know the rest! Ask her if she'll be willing to talk to some of our board members about what's been discussed today!" The door closed on his last words.
She sighed. "Well. We all know what he's up to. I've got notes to pick up on for our next meeting. Thank you for coming, gentlemen." She strode out after Tony, calling Happy up the moment she was out the door.
They heard the crash over the squealing-tire car-chase scene of the newest Michael Bay movie that had hit theaters that day, able to pay a premium to watch it in the Stark residence. Without stopping the movie, all three scrambled off of the couch and darted down into the basement. Tony was laying on another wreck. Pepper sighed, crossing her arms over her chest. "Great. That's going to be fun to replace."
But Becka's sharp eyes caught the dim glow of the Arc reactor. She cursed. "Jarvis! Get that armor off of him!" She darted over to trigger the emergency releases around his helmet, tossing it to one side and sweeping his sweaty hair out of his face, cradling his cheeks within her cool hands. He cracked one eye open, then hissed as the mechanical arms began to lift him, pulling the armor off of him. Rebeckah moved with the arms, and Happy moved closer to catch Tony. Once she had seen his face and seen that there was something wrong, Pepper called the SHIELD doctor, requesting him to be there five minutes ago. They knew how bad it was by Tony not biting back his groans and hisses of pain. Becka rested her hand over his chest, then blinked in shock. "Oh, hell! The reactor's loose!"
"I am not putting my hand in there again!" Pepper snapped.
"My hands are tinier than yours," came Becka's swift reply. "Jarvis, scan him. What's the damage to the arc reactor?"
Tony winced as he was gently released, feeling Happy pick him up easily and bring him to the chair he had used to replace the Mark 1 Arc Reactor in the first place. He couldn't even talk, and that got Jarvis to report faster. "There is a very loose connection between the Arc reactor and the magnet that suspends the shrapnel within his chest. In all actuality, it's almost an easy fix."
"Define easy!" Becka snapped, grabbing a bottle of Purell and dousing her hand with it, ignoring how it stung the cracked skin over her knuckles. Her hands always dried out during odd times of the year, and this was one of them. She walked over as Pepper cut away the neoprene suit that was already ruined.
"A wire needs to be replaced."
"Manufacture that wire. Is it easy for me to replace?"
There was a crash. Pepper stalked over with the Mark 1 generator in her hands, pulling it free of the decorative casing that it had gone back into after Tony designed the Mark 3 reactor. "Just pop this in, we'll fix that one later."
"I love your quick thinking," Happy said softly.
"Guys, focus on your dying boss," came the soft snark from Tony. He wheezed, wincing.
Becka unscrewed the Arc reactor the rest of the way, then pushed her hand into the small cavity, following the wire down, careful not to touch the exposed part. Yanking the plug free, she pulled the arc reactor out and tossed it to Happy without looking. Grabbing the copper wire, pulling it free and placing it in the right position, she glanced up at Tony's face, making sure that he was still with them. Her hand darted out, grabbed the Mark 1, and she looked back down as she replaced it, plugging it in and feeling it click right back into place. His breathing began to even out, his heart-rate slowing to a normal pace.
Her hand twisted the Mark 1 into the "locked" position, feeling it click. Sighing, wiping her hand off of the goo that resided at the bottom of the arc reactor housing, she looked up at Tony's face again. The grey was starting to leave his cheeks, but he was still pale and sweaty. Leaning over to catch his gaze with hers, she pushed his hair back off of his forehead again. Seeing him swallow and open his mouth, she shook her head, resting a finger against his amazing lips. "Talk later. Let's get you cleaned up."
He nodded, and she pulled her hand away.
"The doctor is here," Jarvis announced.
Tony let his head fall back with a soft groan. He hated doctors.