TITLE: Heart Burn
AUTHOR: Quicksilvermad
SUMMARY: (Movie-verse) Tony's thoughts as he lies on the rooftop of Stark Industries. ONESHOT
GENRE: Hurt Comfort/Romance
RATING: T
DISCLAIMER: Iron Man etc. belong to Marvel Comics et. al.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Another one of my more in-depth views into the psyche of Tony Stark.

He could hear her voice calling his name. It was faint, desperate, but coming closer. Tony wanted so badly to sit up and call back to her—to reassure her that he was going to be fine… Despite the fact he felt like pounded hamburger.

"TONY!"

He heard those four inch heels she insisted on wearing click-clacking up the metal staircase that lead to the roof. Tony tried to open his mouth and tell her to be careful running in those damn things, but the only thing that came out of him was a pitiful croak.

Pepper swore a blue streak when she slipped on some gravel and practically tore the shoes from her feet.

"Oh God, Tony!"

He blinked. His right arm hurt and his chest was feeling a bit like an elephant was using it for a futon. "I heard you," he whispered. He could remember her calling his name at another time… At another point in his existence when the thread of his life was being pulled taught and ready for the scissors of fate to cut.

"I heard you," he repeated.

Her eyes were red again. Involuntarily, Tony tried to reach up and still her tears with his touch but his arm refused to cooperate.

"Don't move," she warned. "Oh God, don't move! Tony, what do I do? I don't know what to do…"

He grabbed her ankle with his bare hand and blinked his drowsiness away. He needed to get the suit off. The longer he was hooked up to it, the less time his heart had. Pepper, being so in tune with Tony's thoughts, knew instantly what his touch meant. She managed to unlatch the glove on his right hand and threw it across the rooftop.

Pepper was frantic.

Pieces of battered armor bit at her fingertips when she pried them away from his neoprene sheathed body. With each removed bit of titanium—each shaky reassuring whisper that left Pepper's lips—the light slowly strengthened in the old arc reactor.

"…I know you said you're not the nostalgic type, but I am—that's why I made you the plaque. And whether you realize it or not you are nostalgic, Tony. Oh God," she paused in her stream of consciousness and bent at the waist to press her lips to his cut forehead. Tony knew he must look awful, but seeing her face clearer than he had when she first came up on the roof gave him enough strength to finally reach his hand up and cup her cheek.

His fingers brushed past her Bluetooth earpiece and he felt comforted by how real she was.

Tony hurt all over but didn't feel any of it as his heart pinpointed on the utter wholeness he felt when her eyes met his. "Pepper…"

She swallowed thickly and pressed her hand against his. "You're gonna be okay, right?" she asked. Her other hand pressed against his chest to feel the beat of his heart. The arc reactor appeared to glow just a bit brighter at her touch.

Tired, and feeling like he had an awful case of heart burn, Tony managed a smile. "Are you gonna be okay?"

Pepper let out a strangled laugh and bent to rest her forehead in the sweaty crook of his shoulder. "Tony, you idiot," she whispered.

He weakly reached up and held the back of her head with his battered left hand. "Thanks—" he slurred, "you did a good job, Pep…" He felt her grip on his hand tighten as other voices started swarming toward them.

As consciousness faded away, Tony Stark tuned out the sounds of the others and focused on matching his breathing with Pepper's—feeling his heartbeat settle as his brave assistant slowly sat up and began dictating orders.

She needs a raise…

End