Okay, so this took a lot longer than I thought it would, and it probably really sucks. It's a semi-songfic, but only towards the end. My mom was listening to it and it caught my attention.

Hope you like it!

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"Will you be okay here?" she asked, turning around, ready to leave.

"No," he answered hoarsely. Pepper swallowed.

"What do you need?" He weakly extended his hand.

"Stay with me," he replied softly. And in her heart, Pepper knew that Tony wasn't asking for sex. He simply wanted to make sure that she would always be there.

"All right," she answered after a moment. She kicked off her shoes and took Tony's hand. He pulled her towards him, until they were lying side by side. Pepper exhaled and relaxed in his arms.

Long after she had fallen into a light sleep, Tony lay awake, unable to relax. What would have happened if Pepper hadn't been there? he wondered. Tony laughed silently to himself. I guess even Iron Man needs to be saved.

God, Pepper, what would I do without you?

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Eleven Months Later

Tony Stark straightened his suit as he ran up the stairs of Stark Tower two at a time. Clearing his throat, he pushed open the door and walked up to the secretary's desk. She smiled at him, and he acknowledged her with a nod.

"Hey Melanie," he said, smiling only half-heartedly. Melanie was one of Pepper's best friends from college, who had been looking for a job. Knowing that she was a hard worker and a good friend, Pepper had hired her straight away.

She frowned, studying Tony's face.

"What's wrong, Mr. Stark?" she asked cautiously. He shrugged.

"Nothing really…" he said nonchalantly. Melanie raised her eyebrows. Tony sighed. "The Firefighter's Benefit."

"It'll be fine," she said, abandoning her professional attitude. "Pepper doesn't hold grudges. Tony, she's tried."

"I know," he said, sighing heavily. "But I…have something for her. And I'm not sure what her reaction will be." Melanie frowned.

"Like…a gift?" she asked, confused. Tony smirked.

"You could say that," he asked, and pulled a small, velvet box out of his pocket, tossing it to her. She opened it and gasped, shutting it quickly and tossing it back to him as if it was on fire. He caught it and slipped it back in his pocket. "Well?"

"What?"

"Will she…" he asked, not sure if he wanted to know the answer. Melanie sighed.

"I'm not Pepper," she responded. "I don't know everything that goes through her head. But I do know that she loves you." Tony's face split into a real grin for the first time that day.

"Thanks," he said quietly, moving past her, towards Pepper's office.

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Tony tried opening the door quietly, but it squeaked, and Pepper looked up from her computer.

"Tony, what're you doing here?" she asked, surprised. "I didn't think-"

"I didn't either," he answered with a grin. "But-" Pepper smiled.

"But you got bored," she responded with a laugh. She stood up and walked over to him. Tony immediately took her hand and pulled her into a firm hug.

"Something like that," he muttered. Pepper looked into his eyes, but he looked away. The smile vanished from her face instantly.

"What's wrong?" she asked quietly. Tony didn't answer. He stared at the floor, determinedly looking anywhere besides at Pepper. "Tony…"

"Pepper…I'm sorry," he said softly. "I didn't…" She narrowed her eyebrows.

"For what?" she asked cautiously. Tony looked up and she saw that his eyes were slightly red.

"For leaving you that night," he answered, his voice barely more than a whisper. Pepper frowned.

"What night?" she asked.

"You know," he said quietly. Her eyes widened slightly.

The benefit?

Pepper opened her mouth to say something, but thought better of it. She moved closer to him and kissed him tenderly.

"You had more important things to worry about that night, Tony," she said quietly. "I don't blame you." He gave her a regretful smile and drew her closer to him. Pepper exhaled and relaxed in his arms.

"It will be better this time," Tony whispered into her ear. "I promise."

I love you, Pepper. I just hope that I'm not moving too fast…for both our sakes.

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A Few Days Later

"Tony?" Pepper called, walking down the stairs to Tony's workshop. She opened the door silently, but found the room seemingly empty. "Tony?" she called again.

"Over here," called his voice from the corner of the room. He was in the process of taking of the Mark III suit, his face bruised and cut, smiling brightly nonetheless. Pepper walked over to him.

"Am I right in saying that the mission was a success?" she asked. Tony sighed heavily, the last bit of armor taken off. He walked towards her, throwing a t-shirt over his head. He collapsed onto his couch.

"I suppose," he said.

"What happened?"

"The weapons…they're mine," Tony said hesitantly. "I don't know how…"

"You haven't made weapons for nearly a year, Tony," Pepper said, sitting down next to him. "They can't have been yours."

"See, that's what doesn't make sense," he told her, a grin on his face, despite the circumstances. Pepper smiled slightly.

"Look, Tony…we have another problem," she said quietly. He frowned.

"What is it?"

"I just found out…I mean, they just told me…" He stared at her blankly, and then a thought struck him. His mouth opened, but no sound came out. He cleared his throat.

"Holy shit, Pepper," he managed. "You're not-" Her eyes widened when she realized what he was talking about. She laughed.

"No," Pepper said, the traces of laughter still etched onto her face. "No, I'm not pregnant, Tony." He sighed heavily and relaxed, his eyes still following hers.

"Well…then what is it?" Pepper swallowed.

"My...my parents are coming," she said softly. Tony frowned again.

"Why is that a problem?" he asked, confused. "From what you've said about them, they don't seem that bad." She smiled.

"They're not bad people, they're just…" She frowned, searching for the right word. "They're a bit…old-fashioned…and they never really approved of me working for you." Tony nodded in understanding.

"They didn't want you to become 'one of those girls'," he said sadly. Pepper nodded reluctantly.

"And I'm afraid…that they won't be able to see past that," she said hesitantly. "I know you're different, but they don't. They only see the Tony Stark that the rest of the world sees." He smiled.

"I'm used to people judging me before they get to know me," Tony said. "I don't like it, I don't think anyone does, but it's something I have to live with." Pepper shook her head.

"No…Tony, you don't understand," she said, a tear starting to form in the corner of her eye. "My parents don't know about…us. And I think that they won't let us be together. I'm sorry, Tony…" He sighed and gathered her up in his arms.

"It'll be all right," he said, a contrast to the sinking feeling he felt in his heart.

Dear God, I hope it'll be all right.

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The Next Morning, LAX Airport

Pepper paced nervously back and forth, waiting for her parents' plane to arrive. Harold "Happy" Hogan, who had accompanied her, was sitting down on a bench.

"That makes me sick, Pepper," he complained slightly. She raised her eyebrows at him.

"Happy-" she tried to say, but he cut her off.

"It'll be fine," he said gently, giving her a warm smile, a rare smile. She reluctantly smiled back.

"I haven't seen them in years," Pepper said quietly. "I don't know-"

"Things aren't ever as bad as you think they're going to be," Happy pointed out. She nodded, understanding.

"Sometimes," she responded, a smile fighting to appear on her face.

"Ginny?" said a female voice from behind them. Pepper swallowed and turned around. She smiled nervously and walked up to her parents. Her mother was somewhat shorter than her with light red hair that was mostly white. Her father was taller than her with white hair that was thinning. He wore glasses and a smile that would've lit up a building. Her father gave her a strong hug, and she sighed contentedly.

Happy was right. Maybe it was just my nerves.

She turned to her mother and gave her a gentle hug.

"It's great to see you," she said, through silent tears that had been streaming down her face. Her mother smiled. "I'm sorry-"

"It's fine, sweetheart," Mrs. Potts said. "We understand you've been busy." Pepper smiled hesitantly.

"We saw your press conference," her father said. "I always knew that you'd go far."

"Thanks, Dad," she said quietly. They finally noticed Happy standing up, ready to take their bags.

"Who's this?" her mother asked. Pepper turned around.

"Oh, Mom, Dad, this is Harold Hogan," she said. Happy smiled slightly and shook hands with them. "He's…" Pepper frowned. How was she supposed to describe him?

"A boyfriend?" Mr. Potts suggested, eyeing Happy.

"No," Pepper answered. "Not at all. He's my friend and Tony Stark's personal chauffer."

"Tony Stark's driver?" Mrs. Potts asked surprised. "Why would he drive you to the airport?" Pepper stared at her parents, openmouthed.

"Uhh…" she responded smartly. "I…I don't- um…" She turned red and determinedly looked anywhere except at her parents. "Well, shall we?" Pepper asked after a few awkward minutes.

"Absolutely."

"All right."

Happy took their luggage and stowed it in the trunk, then took the driver's seat. Pepper sat next to him, and her parents sat in the back. She sighed heavily and Happy smiled at her encouragingly.

"I told you it'd be fine," he said quietly, so only Pepper could hear. She only nodded and he turned the wheel, setting the course to Malibu.

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Tony sighed, mindlessly toying with a wrench. He set it on the table and leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes.

"Jarvis?" he called out.

"Yes, sir?" the AI answered in his cool British accent.

"What are my chances of getting along with Pepper's parents?" Tony asked.

"Well, sir, I would say that depends-" Jarvis started, but Tony cut him off, frowning.

"Never mind, I don't want to know."

"Very well, sir," Jarvis said, leaving Tony alone in silence once more. He was about to close his eyes again when he heard the front door upstairs open. His eyes snapped open and he was instantly alert.

"Jarvis?"

"I believe that was Miss Potts," the AI said.

"Duly noted," Tony said, running up the stairs two at a time, flattening his hair and straightening his shirt.

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"So this is the famous Stark mansion?" Pepper's father said.

"Yes," she said. "Um…" He looked at his daughter suspiciously.

"What are we doing here, Virginia?" She swallowed.

"Well…my apartment is too small for three of us, and I didn't want you staying in a hotel, not here," Pepper said nervously. "I asked Mr. Stark if he would be willing to let you stay here, and he agreed." She turned around, hearing footsteps coming up the stairs. "And…I believe that's him now."

Tony appeared at the top of the stairs, a grin on his face. He walked over to them.

"Hi," he said, extending his hand. Pepper's father shook it, though still suspicious, and her mother smiled. "Um…you can choose any bedroom you like, and make yourself at home. It'll be nice to have some company." Pepper sighed in relief. He smiled at her.

"Hi, Mr. Stark," she said quietly. Tony raised his eyebrows.

"I've told you many times, Miss Potts," he said, "I don't like formalities. Never have." He winked at her, and she smiled. He turned to her parents. "As long as you stay here, my name isn't Mr. Stark. It's just Tony." He took hold of their bags and started walking up the stairs, the Potts's following close behind.

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That Night, Stark Mansion

"Hey," Tony said quietly. Pepper jumped and turned around. He smiled warmly. "You look great." She blushed and came closer to him.

"Thanks," she said softly. "You know…that was very good of you…letting them stay here." Tony shrugged nonchalantly.

"It's the least I could do," he said. "Look…if you'd rather spend tonight with your parents…I understand."

"What do you mean?" Tony smiled at Pepper's confused face.

"Pepper…remember what you were saying earlier?" he asked. "About…us?" She swallowed.

"Yes," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

"We do need to work this out, you know," he said, taking her hand. "I don't like keeping secrets." Pepper laughed.

"That's obvious, Mr. I-am-Iron-Man," she said. Tony smiled slightly.

"Well, I asked them if they wanted to come to the benefit tonight," he said warily. She looked at him in disbelief.

"Why?" He gave her a crooked smile.

"You'll see," Tony said, kissing her cheek. He made to turn around, but not before he noticed Pepper's dress. "You really do look beautiful."

"Will that be all, Mr. Stark?" she asked, like she always used to. Tony gave her a slight nod and a true smile.

"That will be all, Miss Potts," he replied, before leaving her to finish applying her make-up.

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Walt Disney Concert Hall, 4th Annual Firefighter's Family Fund Benefit

"This is amazing," Pepper's mother said, staring at all the men dressed in their best suits, and the women in their customized dresses.

"Very impressive," Mr. Potts agreed. Tony nodded.

"Not bad, huh?"

"Thank you for inviting us, Mr. Stark," Mrs. Potts said. Tony smiled slightly.

"It's Tony, remember?"

"Yes, of course," she said. "And where's Ginny?" Surprised, Tony looked around. He frowned, not seeing Pepper anywhere.

"Maybe she went out for some air," he suggested. "Um…I'll go look for her." Knowing where she would be, he moved towards the balcony where they had almost kissed the previous year.

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"Pepper?" he asked quietly. She turned around, and Tony saw that a few tears were running down her face. "You all right?"

"Yeah," she said softly. "It's just…" He slowly moved closer to her.

"I know," he whispered. "But this year is different." He leaned down and kissed her tenderly, nothing between them. Tony closed the gap, pulling Pepper closer to him as he ended the kiss. He held her in his arms, never wanting to let go.

"I love you, Tony," she said, her voice somewhat sad.

"And I love you," he said, kissing her forehead. "I will always be there for you."

"I know you will," she whispered into his chest. Tony reluctantly stepped out of the embrace with a grin on his face. "What?"

"You wanna dance?" he asked. Pepper rolled her eyes.

"All right, Tony," she said, wiping away the tears that remained. Tony reached for her hand and she grasped it gently. As they walked back inside, Pepper took a deep breath, not knowing, that inwardly, Tony felt the same nervousness inside his heart.

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Tony placed his hand on her waist, and she tightly gripped his arm. He sighed heavily as the song ended, and as the next one began, he led Pepper onto the dance floor.

Oh, thinkin' about all our younger years
There was only you and me
We were young and wild and free

Now nothing can take you away from me
We've been down that road before
But that's over now
You keep me comin' back for more

Baby, you're all that I want,
When you're lyin' here in my arms
I'm findin' it hard to believe
We're in heaven

And love is all that I need
And I found it there in your heart
Even too hard to see
We're in heaven

A tear trailed down Pepper's cheek. "Tony…" she whispered. He gave her a smile and nodded. "You picked out this song?" He winked, and she bit her lip to keep from crying out loud. She moved closer to him, leaning on his chest.

Across the hall, Pepper's parents watched their daughter dance with the man she clearly loved.

"This isn't what we wanted for her," Mr. Potts said sadly.

"What do you mean, Richard?" Mrs. Potts chided her husband. "I wanted her to be happy. And if Tony Stark of all people does that for her…"

Oh, once in your life you find someone
Who would turn your world around
Bring you up when you're feelin' down

Yeah, nothin' can change what you mean to me
Oh, there's lots that I could say
But just hold me now
'Cause our love will light the way

And baby, you're all that I want
When you're lyin' here in my arms
I'm findin' it hard to believe
We're in heaven

Yeah, love is all that I need
And I found it there in your heart
It isn't too hard to see
We're in heaven

I've bin waitin' for so long
For somethin' to arrive
For love to come along

Now our dreams are comin' true
Through the good times and the bad
Yeah, I'll be standin' there by you

As the chorus played again, Tony gently lifted Pepper's chin up, to see her eyes glistening with tears.

"Tony…" she tried to say, but got choked up. He softly kissed her forehead and smiled. "I need some air." She turned to go outside, but Tony took hold of her hand.

"Pepper," he said in a voice she had never heard him use before. She turned around, extremely confused.

"Tony, what-" she started to ask. He gave her a small smile and she was silent. Pepper came slightly closer to him.

"I wish I could tell you when I first knew that I loved you. It may have been Afghanistan, or maybe even before that. But whenever I'm with you…" he said quietly, "I feel like I'm in heaven." Tears streamed down her face as Tony knelt down before her. "Pepper, you were there for me when no one else was. And I'm hoping you always will be. I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.

"Virginia Potts, will you marry me?" he asked, slowly opening the small velvet box to reveal a simple yet elegant ring, with diamonds laid in gold. Pepper swallowed, fully aware that everyone's attention was now on them. His brown eyes found her blue ones, and she knew what her answer was.

"Yes, Anthony Stark," she answered through her tears, "I will marry you." Tony released a breath he hadn't even known that he was holding. He slowly stood up and slipped the ring onto her finger. His hand grasped hers, and she moved closer to him.

Pepper looked past the crowd of people, and found her parents watching from across the hall. She looked at them nervously, expecting bewilderment, shock, and maybe even anger. But they both simply smiled at their daughter, and she saw a few tears slip down her mother's cheek.

Tony looked down at Pepper, and smiled encouragingly.

"I told you it'd be fine," he whispered. "I'd never let anything tear us apart. Ever."

"I know," she murmured. "Not even Iron Man."

"Especially not Iron Man," he corrected. He kissed her forehead tenderly, and moved down to her lips. Their lips touched softly, but with such love and passion that neither of them could remember the last time they had felt this happy. Tony released himself from the kiss and Pepper leaned on his chest, right on the arc reactor. He smiled to himself, not caring that pictures were being taken of his every move.

Pepper…how did I know it would all work out? Easy. Our love can get through anything. Kidnappings, insane CEOs, and so much more.

Life is hard for everyone. But with you by my side…I know everything will be fine. How? I just know. Because I'm in heaven.

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Was it good? Or just too cheesy and sappy? I probably did a bad job with Pepper's parents, I kind of compared them to my own grandparents. My grandpa has glasses and thinning hair, plus he's tall. That leaves some hope for me. (Yes, I'm short.) No comment.

The song is "Heaven" by Bryan Adams. It's actually not that bad, considering the music I listen to isn't like Bryan Adams at all. I just thought it fits Tony and Pepper's relationship.

Okay, so there will be one more one-shot after this, and then I'll start on the big chapter story. I actually have the first chapter all typed and everything, so if you want me to post it before I finish the next one-shot, please let me know. Just let me know what you think about the series in general. Thanks for the support,

Jason