It was quiet, too quiet in that beautiful house in Malibu. Tony, no Mr. Stark, was missing and presumed dead, and it was all she could do to keep going, to keep up the fiction that he was merely indisposed and not gone. Her new favorite spot to take a cup of tea was his workshop, surrounded by the machines he's built.

Jarvis gave her daily briefs on the status of the search for Mr. Stark while she sat on his stool, surrounded by his tools, and endured the solitude of the workshop, lacking the vitality of its owner. The radio was quiet, the big screen TV dark. The robots were in powersaving mode, waiting for their absent owner to call them to service. The cars, kept in excellent condition, were waiting for Tony to come back and tinker once more.

Pepper sighed once, then rose from the stool and with her empty cup, and her heels clicking, left the robots and sleek cars to the unnatural solitude for one more day.