"Break a vase,
and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger
than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole."

-Nobel Lecture, Derek Walcott

Chapter 4

The next morning she awakens to the soft scratched words of "Red River Valley" languidly settling into her room with a light happy warmth that seeps into her liquid bones. She stretches, straining each muscle and curling her toes, bumping into his thigh. Her red eyelashes turn white as she blinks her sleep away, and gazes out at the bright sky. She props herself a bit upwards, watching him sitting naked on the edge of her bed, the sunlight bathing the rippled muscles and the white burning light filtering his strong form in and out of her consciousness, illuminating him.

He hadn't left.

Ok, so maybe he was serious.

He pays no notice to her, intently focused on each pallid page of an old photo album she had been lugging around for 15 years. His hands skimming the fading pictures with the savoring stillness he usually reserved for his most prized projects in his workshop. There is an odd familiarity to this scene, and she marvels at it. She nudges a foot harder into his thigh, sweeping the length of her hair over her neck and letting it rest on one shoulder as he tears his gaze away from an old black and grey photo booth picture of her and a friend she could no longer remember.

"Get over here Stark, I'm freezing".

He grins crookedly, almost shyly, softly shutting the album and resting it on the chair.

"Yes Ma'am."

He lifts the sheet over and above him and slowly lowers the length of his hard body over her form, wrapping his defined arms around her tiny waist and resting his head on her breast. He laughs into her skin, for no particular reason, breathing and tasting the golden dust of her skin. For a long while they say nothing, letting the sun curl sensuously into their skin.

"What do you want to do today?" She finally whispers into his unruly hair.

His arms tighten around her and she feels his chest vibrate against her stomach.

"Well I was thinking about us getting a certain matter of 'Frank' removed, but I think I'm enjoying this a bit more".

She grins as she rests her head upon his ruffled crown and places her hands on opposite sharp shoulder blades.

"So does this mean I win?" He teasingly mumbled against her skin.

"Hey, just be happy I let you back inside." She laughingly sighs, as though he was a stray dog, "You can't get everything you want, you know."

"No, but I came pretty damn close. And I think, or hope or whatever, that I kinda already have what I want."

She feels the curve of his smile widening into a grin against her freckles. She kisses the top of his head and runs a slender hand through his tousled hair. Her other hand drops on its way to his back and he stares at the ribbed calluses in her fingers as they go by. She doesn't say anything. The music from down below wafts into a soft cadence throughout the honeyed cocoon of her bedroom.

"And maybe", he continues softly, "this place isn't such a rats-nest after all. I mean, security's a joke, but that's fixable. And mayb..." With this he turns his head and rests his chin on her slender body, staring intently at her from his perch. "What I'm saying is that if this place means so much to you, then it means something to me too." He grins nervously, quite possibly the first time she had ever witnessed him to be the slightest bit nervous, "I think, Pepper Potts, there's still a lot I need to learn about you...and I fully intend..."

He stops, propping his body on his elbows as he finds himself distracted by a lone freckle hiding in her belly button. He was never one for confession. As he bends his head down to softly kiss it, Pepper turns her gaze to the bright burn of vibrant daylight streaming from the window's wavy glass.

"I knew you'd come around", she murmurs victoriously.

So yea, this was written really quickly, really impulsively, so my apologies for the, uh, lack of continuity or jumpy writing. A couple of things are off with this story, but I just want this document off my computer, lol. And sorry for the unnecessary abundance of swearing, I've just been in a perpetually grumpy mood as of late, and this is just what's shooting out. : ) And again my apologies about the past/present tenses getting mixed up, I'm just incurable.