The mansion was quiet except for the low noise of CNN in the background as Pepper went on as usual…well as usual as she could given the circumstances. She sorted and answered the long list of emails, returned phone calls and hired a contractor and construction firm to make the necessary repairs on the Stark Industries headquarters in New York after the explosion. The house was far too quiet and working was the only thing that was keeping her from coming unglued totally at the moment.

It wasn't working though. By the third soft snick of another email hitting the inbox, Pepper snapped.

"Jarvis? Is Tony still alive up there or did he drown?" Pepper snapped.

"He is very much alive, Ms. Potts." Jarvis replied. "He says he is letting the hot water beat the bruises out of his back and shoulders."

Pepper sighed. Tony could be downright stubborn when it came to certain things and dealing with Iron Man injuries was one of them. "Would you please tell him that he knows very well that only one thing takes those bruises away better than anything else and I will gladly help him with it?"

A pause. "But Mr. Stark sends his objections to smelling like a fruit salad with a mint kicker."

"It's his choice," Pepper sighed. "He can walk around like Frankenstein for the next few days or he can suck it up and let me put the cream on his back for him." She added as she went back to work and made a few quick key strokes on her computer before going into the bathroom to grab the healing balm.

She got her answer soon enough.

Not ten minutes later, Tony was making his way down the stairs. His hair was still damp and messy from him attempting to towel dry it. The dark eggplant colored bruises on his chest, arms, ribs shoulders and back stood out in deep contrast to his slightly flushed skin from the hot water, especially since he did nothing to attempt to hide them since he was only wearing a pair of loose gray cotton lounging shorts.

"You know that you're evil, right?" Tony stated. "That wasn't nice to turn off the hot water."

"Would you have listened any other way?" Pepper replied as she scooted back on the couch to have Tony sit in front of her.

"Eventually…" Tony shot back as he eased himself on to the couch. Getting blown back by a poorly made and half detonated homemade explosive doesn't feel good but Tony did not discount the fact that if it had been one of his weapons like in London, he would have been dead and Stark Industries would be a pile of rubble.

"Like when you got hungry," Pepper teased as she took off the top of the cream and started to work the pink goo into Tony's back.

"I would have come down before that," Tony said with a grunt as Pepper worked her hands into his back as he turned up the volume on the TV.

"Out of New York today, there has been a development in the case regarding the bombing of the Royal Armory in London…" the newscaster said.

Tony and Pepper paused to hear the story.

"The director of the FBI has stated that a definitive arrest has been made in this case…"

The picture cut to a taped statement by the director of the FBI.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Today, we were able to apprehend a known terrorist and the person who was responsible for the bombing in London - Feda al Razul, a member of the Ten Rings Syndicate. We can not take full credit for the apprehension of al Razul. If it was not for the highly skilled assistance of Anthony Stark, we probably would not have caught him yet. With that, on behalf of the FBI and Interpol, we would like to publicly clear Anthony Stark of any and all involvement with this case and apologize for any undo stress or suffering that this may have caused him and his family…"

Tony gave Pepper a quick nudge to her elbow. "See? He called you family…"

"Hush Tony…I want to hear this. I'm surprised you don't." Pepper said, shushing him.

"I got what I wanted so far…" Tony stated with a smirk.

"The trial will be held in an International court with the combined charges from London and New York. Thank you, no questions at this time."

No sooner the final syllable had been uttered; Tony flipped the channel and then got up to head down to his garage, totally satisfied with what had just happened.

"Where are you going?" Pepper almost demanded when she saw tony heading for the garage. Over the two weeks that he had been ill, she had almost gotten too used to not letting him down to his workshop.

"My cars have felt very neglected over the last two weeks and I need to make sure Dummy and Butterfingers weren't fighting…not to mention the fact that I need to get about a hundred pounds of concrete dust out of my suit." Tony said with a smile as he came back up and stole a kiss from Pepper's lips. "I'm not going anywhere…I promise." He assured her before heading down the stairs.

Since he promised, Pepper could rest a little easier as she picked up her laptop again to go back to work…until she was interrupted again.

IronDevil44: Meet me down here 7pm tonight – wear black lace/red satin dress

BlazinCherryPepper: Why?

IronDevil44: I'm owed a million dollar date. :)

When seven o'clock came around, Pepper, in the red satin and black lace dress that she had worn to the auction, went down to Tony's workshop and stopped breathing for a moment. How he had done it without her noticing, she would never know but it definitely impressed her.

First off, Tony had cleaned. Then about two dozen roses were in a vase on his coffee table with crystal candelabras surrounding them. Two dinners from what looked like Tony's favorite Italian restaurant were set on opposite ends of the table waiting to be enjoyed as soft music started playing.

"I had to get my money's worth," Tony said softly as he stepped out of the shadows in his tuxedo.

Pepper smiled as she crossed over to him and kissed him passionately. "I think you spent too much though."

"Nah…I would have dropped a billion on you if it was necessary." Tony said as he pulled back from the kiss. "You don't know how much I have missed this over the last two weeks. Not being able to even kiss you out of fear of getting you sick was driving me insane."

"But I did promise I would make it up to you, didn't I?" Pepper said as she took Tony's hand and led him over to the plates he had set up. "But first, we'll need food if I am to make it up to you properly."

After dinner, Tony had Jarvis put the music back on as he slow danced with Pepper. A few songs had finished before Tony's eyes darkened with the deep passion that had been lying dormant while he was sick. He leaned in for a deep kiss as they danced while his hand silently unzipped Pepper's dress. Tony spun her quick and Pepper's dress slid to the floor to reveal her black lace underwear. Tony knew very well what black lace underwear meant…it was meant to be taken off.

Pepper gasped slightly when she saw what Tony had done. "Things seem to be a little unfair here," she purred as she pressed her body against his, easily feeling what she was doing to him.

"Then maybe you should even the odds…" Tony growled passionately as he kissed her again.

Without breaking the kiss, Pepper divested Tony of his tie, jacket and shirt. "Perhaps we should change locations?" Pepper suggested breathlessly.

"I'm not making it that far…" Tony said as he scooped Pepper up and took her over to the couch.

Soft morning light filtered in through the few windows in Tony's garage, bright enough to illuminate the room but not enough to disturb. Tony and Pepper were both still sound asleep on the couch, blissfully naked and still entwined under a large fleece blanket, enjoying each other's presence in sleep as much as they did in wakefulness. Nothing could ruin the moment.


"Sir? Colonel Rhodes is on the phone for you." Jarvis interjected.

Tony growled at his wake up call. "I'm going to kill him…" he muttered as he grabbed the phone to deal with the best friend who has really bad timing.