(A/N: Hello everyone, I decided to try my hand at writing some IMAA. Still trying to get the hang of the characters but hopefully you like this.)
Disclaimer: Who owns IMAA? Not me
Chapter 1: System Down
Pepper quietly moved through the lab, Rhodey and Tony had been working on something for most of the day but hadn't told her what. Now that they had both left though she was free to find out what it was for herself. Her first plan of checking the computers was crushed when she found out to get to anything interesting she needed a set of passwords she didn't have and couldn't hack it like her dads files.
Never one to give up though she went over to the communication station and smiled, Rhodey had left everything on an unlocked. She set in the chair with a Chester cat grin on her face. "Ok let's see what you've been up to."
Watching Rhodey use the controls for so long had taught her the basics and with growing confidence she jumped from program to program. Finding out what they had been working was pushed from her mind when she figured out how to listen in on phone calls using the systems communication arrays.
There was already a list of numbers in the computer and she recognized Tonys and Rhodeys. According to the program they were talking to each other and she couldn't resist listening in.
"Come on tony you have to do something about her."
"I know I know, it's just I don't want to hurt her feelings."
"Well you'll have to figure something out soon because she's making it hard to do anything. Always following you around and butting in."
"Yea but she's helped out a lot too."
"A couple of times but lately she's just been getting under foot."
They can't be talking about me, can they? No, no way I'm always a help.
"Ok just meet me back at the lab and I'll take care of it." The connection between their phones ended.
"No way, are they going to kick me out of the group, they can't I mean me I know tony is Iron Man.
Unless he really did make some ray that would erase my memories! Wait was that what they were working on? Oh no." She ran back over to the main computer and started hitting keys trying to guess at the passwords.
"Come on come on!" again and again the system refused to let her in. Then finally the screen changed but not in the way she wanted. A blue background appeared and streams of data flashed in front of her. "Oh that's not good."
A sound like grinding gears was coming from the computer now and smoke began to pour from the cooling vent. "No no no no. stop that!"
She hit the power button without result. When that didn't work she grabbed the power cord and tried to pull it out but only succeeded in getting an electric shock that knocked her backwards. "ow."
"Pepper what's going on?!" Rhodey and Tony stood at the entrance to the lab.
"I don't know! The computers gone crazy!"
Rhodey reached over and pulled the main power switch for the lab, they were plunged into darkness for a moment until red emergency lights flickered on. Tony walked over and helped pepper up. Rhodey looked at the smoke coming out of the computers. "Pepper, what did you touch?"
"Nothing, I mean ok yes I touched it but I didn't cause this!"
"Then who did?"
Tony stepped in between them. "Calm down guys."
"Calm down? Pepper just toasted everything!"
"We don't know that, give me a minute to check." Tony booted up the computer in a safe mode and scrolled through a few logs.
He turned back to them, he didn't look happy. "Pepper, you erased all the armor systems."
"But, no, don't you have them backed up?"
"Yes, but it'll take days to reinstall everything! On top of replacing the hardware you burned out! What were you doing?!"
"I'm sorry; I was just trying to see what you guys were doing." Then she frowned at them, "besides if I hadn't broken the computer you'd have already erased all my memories. And they're mine and I want to keep them!"
Tony had an utterly confused look on his face. Rhodey held his head, "what in the world are you talking about?"
"I overheard yours guys conversation. How I was just getting under foot now and you had to do something about me. I know all about your mind erasing ray you've been building to make me forget everything."
"How did you, you used the labs communications to listen in on our call didn't you!"
"Yes I did!"
Tony unscrewed a panel from the computer. "We were talking about Whitney. I already told you I didn't have any mind erase rays."
"Wait but, you mean, you didn't build one?"
"No Pepper we didn't."
"Opps, my bad. What can I do to help?"
"Just go sit over in a corner or something."
She did, after almost an hour of trying to help and getting told off again and again she finally just left. As she walked home she found a can on the ground and started kicking it, taking out her frustration. She knew she'd messed up bad but the thought that she might forget everything about Iron Man and Tony, well it just wasn't an option in her opinion.
That night she had a fitful sleep, waking up every half hour or so. Finally just before dawn she got up rubbing her face. She already knew the day was going to be horrible. A nice long hot shower seemed to be just the thing.
And it was, she was feeling better when she got out until she slipped and slammed her shoulder into the wall. Pepper was really glad her dad was away on a trip so he wouldn't come rushing in to see what the noise had been.
Things didn't improve much on her way to school, some crazy driver nearly ran her over and she banged her knee when she jumped out of the way. Then when she got to school pepper found out that Rhodey and Tony had apparently decided to skip for the day.
After just two classes Pepper was just too restless to stay any longer. She snuck out before third period vie a window in the janitors closet. As she walked to the lab she was still trying to think of a way to apologize for yesterdays little mess up. Then it hit her, if she was right Tony and Rhodey would have worked through the night.
Which meant they probably hadn't had much time for food so she took a little detour to a convinces store. When she got to the lab she was carry a tray of slushies and a bag of every type of junk food known to man.
It looked like she was right; they had parts spread out all over the floor. "Hey guys I brought food!"
Tony looked up for soldering a set of computer boards. "Pepper be careful-"
His warning came too late as she tripped over a thick power cord. The slushies went flying and landed on a small pile of parts, the pile gave a fizzling hiss as the blue liquid soaked them.
"I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry!" she looked over and saw both Rhodey and Tony had exasperated looks on their faces.
Tony picked up one of the parts as the slushie dripped from it. "Its fine, these parts were mostly ruined anyways"
They did stop working long enough to eat but then were right back to work. Pepper stayed around for awhile in the hopes that there would be something she could do that would help.
Tony was half in the computer housing on a rolling board "Pepper, could you get me the volt register?"
"Got it." She grabbed it off of the table and handed it to him. That was how the day went, but by the end she was starting to get annoyed that all they were letting her do was hand them parts.
Finally though Tony turned everything on and it didn't explode. Pepper clapped her hand together, "So you can use the suit again right?"
Tony frowned at her. "No, now we can reinstall all the systems which will take about three days."
"Oh, well that's not too bad."
"Not too bad? Pepper you gave every villain and crook in the city a four day free pass! Do you have any idea how much damage they can do in four days?!"
Rhodey put his hand on Tonys shoulder. "Calm down, I was the one who was flying off the handle earlier remember? Come on lets all go for a walk we've been cooped up in here for too long. Besides there's nothing more we can do for now."
"Fine." Tony walked out of the lab with Rhodey and pepper following.
They eventually ended up walking near a small trench next to the river. Finally the silence got to be to much for pepper. "Tony listen I."
He held up his hand to stop her. "Pepper, I don't want to hear it."
She zipped it and fell a few steps behind Tony. A few minutes later though his cell went off and he found ten new texts from Pepper. He turned back towards her. "Fine what is it?"
"Well I was trying to apologize but you told me you didn't want to hear it so I decided to text you instead then"
"Ok ok I get it."
As he was turning around to keep on walking Peppers vision suddenly blurred, "Tony?"
He looked back at her in time to see her lose her balance and slip into the Trench. "Pepper!"
He ran and slide down after her, she was laying at the bottom unconscious. "Pepper? Pepper!"
He gently checked her over; it looked like she had hit her head on the way down. She also had several cuts on her arms and a few bruises but otherwise seemed unharmed. As he finished checking her over she opened her eyes with a moan.
Tony put his hand on her back to help steady her. "Pepper are you ok?"
"Yea, what happened?"
"I don't know but you fell down here."
She looked up the steep slope. "That would explain it."
Tony wanted to take her back to the lab but someone had seen her fall and called 911 and they insisted on taking her to the hospital to get fully checked out. The paramedics loaded Pepper into the ambulance and as one of them started to close the doors Tony ducked in and sat next to her. "Hey, get out of there kid"
Tony looked him in the eye. "I'm going with her."
"You can't just jump in and expect a ride now out!"
Tony grabbed Peppers hand. "Why? There's no law saying I can't go with her, besides the longer you argue the more time you waist and have to spend with us."
"Fine you kids aren't worth the trouble." He slammed the doors closed. Rhodey had already gone back to his house to tell his mom tony had gone with Pepper while she got check out.
Two hours later Pepper was laying in a bed in the emergency room, Tony sat in a chair next to her. The nurses on duty had enough since not to ask him to leave, not that he would have. Finally a female doctor walked over to them looking over a clipboard. She gave Tony a distasteful look, "Well Miss Potts everything looks fine beyond some scratches and a few bruises. However we can keep you for the night if you would like, for observation purposes."
"No I'm fine."
"If you are sure." She gave another look at Tony. "I'll have a nurse come and get you in a minute."
Tony looked at Pepper, "Sure you're feeling alright."
"Yes, I just slipped that's all."
He was about to say he didn't believe her when a nurse came over with a wheelchair. Pepper looked at it then her, "I don't need that I can walk just fine."
"Sorry hospital policy, everyone has to leave in a wheelchair."
Pepper surprisingly didn't protest but she obviously wasn't happy either. Tony pushed the wheelchair to the front of the hospital but as soon as they were outside she jumped out of it and started walking, Tony left the wheelchair for the nurse and went to catch up with her.
As they left the doctor watched them, when the nurse returned she stopped her. "Who was that young man with Miss Potts?"
"I don't know, but I can look into it for you."
"Yes, thank you."
Tony and Pepper walked together for about a block in silence. "So your dads still away on his trip right?"
"Yea, he'll be gone another few days why?"
"Then why don't you come stay at the lab tonight?"
"Oh don't tell me you're still worried, I told you I just slipped."
"Fine don't come, I'll just spend all night worrying, not getting any work done with the Iron Man system. Probably lose hours of work."
Pepper stopped and pushed her finger into Tonys chest. "You're trying to use guilt aren't you?"
"Yea, so? You'd do the same thing."
"Oh yea, fine I'll come to the lab." Truth be told she was secretly happy he was worried about her. And he seemed to have forgiven her for the mess ups.
When they got back to the lab Rhodey was already there watching the system loading files, he saw them come in and jumped up. "Pepper, you ok?"
"Yes I'm fine. I just slipped."
"Pepper will be staying here tonight." Tony said as he checked on the progress of the system. When he looked away from the screen he saw Pepper was holding her head. "Is your head hurting?"
"Why don't you go lay down in the infirmary for a bit?"
A few minutes later Tony went in to check on her and found her already asleep. He stood there for awhile just watching her, Tony was so engrossed in her that he didn't noticed Rhodey come up behind him. "Tony?"
He jumped and little and spun around. "Oh Rhodey its just you."
"Of course it me. Peppers asleep?"
"You know you should try it sometime, us normal people do it a lot."
"I will in awhile, you can go to bed I just want to make sure the next set of data starts loading without any problems."
"Ok I'll be back in awhile to make sure you really do go to sleep though."
"Yes mother." Tony said with a roll of his eyes.
A few hours later Rhodey went back to the lab, the main system was still loading but tony was nowhere to be seen. After a quick search he found him in the infirmary setting at its computer console. One look at him told Rhodey something wasn't right. "Tony?"
He looked up from the screen with a jerk. "Rhodey."
"What's wrong Tony?"
"Pepper, she really is sick."
"But the hospital said"
Tony slammed his hand down on the computer "They were wrong!"
Rhodey held up his hands defensively "What does she have?"
"It's a genetic disorder. It can go unnoticed for generation built when it does show up it attacks all the body's systems. Starting with the brain and nervous system."
"Can't you cure it?"
"No, this isn't my specialty. I can do incredible things with things with machines but nothing for something like this."
"Check the Stark mainframe, maybe they have something on it."
"I already did and they do. My dad was researching a cure for it along with a lot of other stuff. Obadiah closed the lab when he took over though. The good news is they did come up with a cure."
"Then no problem, wait for the Iron Man systems to finish, go get it and cure her."
"It's not that simple Rhodey, Pepper has maybe a week left. By the time the system is done it could be too late. I'm going tomorrow. I'll take the secondary suit system we were working on."
"You sure? We never got too far into it."
"Yea it's the only chance."
"Ok but then I'm coming too."
"No I need you to stay and watch Pepper for me."
"What are you talking about there's no way she's going to let you leave her behind. And you're not leaving me behind either. Got it?"
"Fine." Tony knew he wasn't going to win this argument, but that didn't mean he couldn't sneak off on his own later. They'd be mad but he wasn't going to put them in danger. The research facility he had to go to was pretty remote and the records showed the security system was still active.
(A/N: well there you have it, the first chapter, the next should be up in a few days barring any unforeseen issues. Let me know what you think. Oh yes and sorry for any spelling and grammar mistakes, word seems to be having trouble with it.)