Title: Blue and Black, the Lines of a Pain Laced Mind

Author: Night of the Land

Rating: T

Disclaimer: I don't own Ironman nor do I own any character portrayed herein.

Summary: What if Iron Man 2 had ended differently? What if Tony had not been able to make that new element? What if he really never did tell Pepper he was dying?

A/N: Okay, folks, here's a new one. Since I didn't know Tony's birthday, I used Robert's. And I made up the day of death.

The shades were pulled tight and very little light entered the room. The silk sheets of the bed had been haphazardly kicked off, they lay in a crumpled pile still half hanging from the large California King sized bed. There was no noise in the room save for the shallow labored breathing of the lone occupant.

Pale and drawn, Anthony Edward Stark (better known as Tony) huddled on his side, curled in the fetal position as pain racked is body. He trembled with cold, even though his dark hair was slicked back from his face with sweat and his pale skin shone in the dim lighting. His hands clutched at the stretched collar of his shirt and drew his knees closer to his chest, breathing coming in short gasps. The veins of his hands were spidery and bulged from the pale skin prominently, a dark blue colour. The veins of his face and arms the same. His eyes were squeezed tightly shut, white tracks etched down his tightly drawn taunt face, his lips pressed together firmly.

He let out a moan of pain and clutched the back of his tee shirt tighter; wrapping his arms further around himself, if that was even possible. His body burned all around him, his mind dulled with pain as he lay in the middle of his bed. Fresh tears streaked their way down his already tear streaked face, and he gave another moan of pain. He felt as if someone had taken a hot fire poker to his insides. Or that the gods were angry with him and were boiling him from the inside out.

With another half groan he shuddered, his body fighting the poison that was coursing through it. The thing that was meant to keep him alive was slowly killing him. For the past 3 months he had tried every compound known to man and even a few of his own design, looking for something to replace the palladium that was being used to fuel the Arc reactor. No joy however, obviously.

He bit back another groan of pain. Since he had not found a solution to his problem, he had donated his ungodly expensive art collection the Boy Scouts (an organization that he had never been a member of despite his desire to when he had been a child), had made Pepper CEO (and a damn fine good one she would be), and had had his will updated. He made sure that his house and all the funds in his accounts were left to the proper people and that there were no loopholes. He knew who he wanted to have his money and all his possessions when he died, and he wanted to make sure that nothing happened to disrupt his wishes. Now, he thought to himself, his mind foggy from the pain, all that was left for him to do was to actually die.

And that thought scared him shit less. He always thought that when (not if, because even he did not think that he would live forever) he died he would be with his family and any friends. He had imagined a houseful of people who would care that he was gone, with a wife by his side and children, lots of little red headed children with bright blue eyes. But now, all he had was a house empty, and he lay on his bed his body decaying even as he still breathed in short agonizing breaths.

His voice was weak and hoarse as he called out to his ever faithful AI servant, "Jarvis?"

The brisk voice was quick to reply, and Tony could pretend for a moment that it was laced with concern that he knew was not there, "Yes, sir?"

"Call Pepper." He whispered, fighting the pain that dulled his mind. His body shook as more pain coursed through him like white hot lava. He gave another moan and squeezed his eyes tighter shut, tears once more leaking from between lashes. He hated that he was this weak. But, he reminded himself, his mind struggling back from the fog, it's the body's defense mechanism; crying helps to release the pain. And what a damn fine it was not doing, he thought as he shuddered as more quick white hot pain laced through his inert body.

"Sir, Miss Potts is not answering her phone. Would you like me to keep trying to contact her?" Jarvis's voice cut through the haze of pain.

"Yes." Tony managed to bit out, his teeth chattering, before the pain became for than he could bear, and he passed in blissful unconsciousness.

Pepper Potts was worried. After seeing her 14 missed calls from Tony she felt her heart throb in her chest. Her former boss had not been acting like his normal self for the past several months. First with his insane donation to the Boy Scouts of all people, then his decision to make her the head of a company that he loved more than anything (despite the way it may appear to many people who did not know Tony, he seemed to not be concerned with the company, when in reality it was his life), and now all the missed phone calls.

Not even waiting for the car to roll to a halt, she vaulted from the backseat and sprinted up the walkway to the ocean side mansion. It was uncharacteristically quiet, Pepper noted as she fitted her key to the front door, only to find that it was already open. Her heart skipped a beat and she entered scared as to what she would find.

Quickly she headed for the basement workshop, knowing that her former boss would more than likely be in his haven. As she descended the staircase she frowned as no music or sound of any kind was heard. The lights were all out and everything was neatly put in its place, even the ever present coffee mug was missing from the workshop's many tables.

"Jarvis! Where's Tony?" she called out to the AI, her mind whirling with the possibilities of where he might be. And with each one her heart grew a little weaker.

"Mr. Stark is in the mater bed room, Miss Potts." The brisk voice replied, and for a moment Pepper thought she heard concern etched into the words. She quickly shook that thought off as she headed for the master suit.

She rushed through the house, her mind screaming at her that something was terribly wrong. There was no noise in the house and her heart stopped as she opened the bedroom door.

Laying in the middle of the large king sized bed was the pale still form of her boss-wait her former boss. She gave a small gasp and hurried to his side. His black hair was plastered to his forehead by sweat and his body trembled, his face tense and eyes squeezed tightly shut. She knelt down on the bed next to his inert body and with a trembling hand touched his hair gently.

"Tony?" she asked, her voice wavering slightly, her hand carding through his damp hair gently, "Tony, can you hear me? What's going on?" she asked again, her eyes brimming with tears, as he tensed under hand and let out the most heart wrenching sound she had ever heard.

The moan came from deep with in his body and it was filled with unimaginable pain. Pepper's eyes shone with tears as she stroked his hair. "Tony?" she called again, moving her hand down to his face, gently cupping the pale cheek.

Pain laced dark eyes opened slowly and tried to focus on Pepper, but he just wasn't able to. "Pep?" he bit out, shuddering from the white hot lines of pain that invaded his body.

"Tony, what happened?" Pepper asked kindly, her eyes crinkled with sick worry.

"Palladium…..so…sorry…Pep." he gasped out, his hand weakly coming up to take hers. "Pep." He gasped, closing his eyes, tears streaming down his face as his body convulsed.

"Jarvis! Call an ambulance!" Pepper called out, cradling Tony's head in her lap, stroking his hair, whispering words of comfort to him.

"No!" Tony gasped, eyes squeezing tighter shut, "No….hospitals….Please, Pep." He murmured his voice hoarse and thick like he'd had too much to drink the night before.

"Tony, you need medical attention, please let me get you to a hospital." Pepper pleaded with him, tears threatening to fall down her pale freckle spattered cheeks.

"Too…late." Tony gasped, opening his own eyes to look at her through the cloud of pain he seemed to be in. Everything was fuzzy, like he was looking at the world through plastic wrap.

"Tony?" Pepper gasped out in question, taking his face in her hands, making him look at her. His name echoed around inside his head like a bad techno song, bouncing off the corners of his pain addled mind, and his internal voice giggled slightly at the thought of what his name would look like in bright neon lights in front of one of those old techno bars.

"Tony?" Pepper cried again before looking to the ceiling, "Jarvis, what does he mean?"

"Miss Potts, Mr. Stark has given me orders to keep his medical condition top secret. I regret to inform you that you are not privy to this information." The cool accented voice replied.

"Damn it, Jarvis! Tell me!" Pepper yelled angrily.

"I am…"

"Jarvis, tell her." Tony managed to gasp out, clutching Pepper's hand tightly as he tensed again, another wave of vicious white hot pain laced through his veins. He felt his heart beat faster and breathing became more difficult with each breath.

The world faded as Jarvis' voice echoed around the room, and Tony faded in and out, the gentle hands of Pepper cool on his feverish skin and in his sweat soaked hair. The sweet smell of her perfume entered his head, and cut through the pain. He thought it was fitting that Pepper would be here with him; in the end….But there was something he was forgetting. Something important…what was it?

"Pepper?" he gasped out, eyes cracked open into little slits, and he blinked several times to try and focus on Pepper's beautiful face.

She leaned down so that she could hear his soft hoarse whisper, tears streaming down her face. Why hadn't he told her he was dying? Why had he kept it a secret? But then as she thought about, all the little signs, all the little hints….he'd been trying to tell her, but she hadn't let him. And with that thought she cried even harder.

"Pep…I'm so sorry." He whispered, using the last of his strength to squeeze her hand tightly, "Should…have told you…" he closed his eyes, leaning back heavily in her arms, "Always…..should have…said….always….sorry…" he murmured, words becoming harder now, "Always…"

"Always what, Tony?" Pepper whispered back, stroking his hair gently, encouraging him to speak.

"Always…loved you, Pepper." He whispered, "Love you."

Pepper's eyes widened and then closed as she felt him struggling for breath in her arms. His body shuddered with pain and was hot to the touch. Her heart breaking even more she gathering him up so he was lying in her lap, his head resting on her shoulder, eyes still squeezed tightly shut. Brushing his hair back off his face, she leaned in and whispered to him, "I've always loved you too."

Eyes cracked open one more time, and through his pain he gave a small smile. His breathing was slower now, and he could feel his heart beginning to slow its racing. The pain soon began to fade into numbness and it left him foggy, but he knew that it was coming to the end, that he would die in Pepper's arms.

Her soft lips descended onto his, and they met with a gentle passion. Her lips were soft and tasted of her cherry chap stick. Tony gave a moan that had nothing to do with pain, and he gathered the last of his reserves of energy to bring his hands up to thread in her ginger hair and pull her to him. He knew this would more than likely be his last kiss and he wasn't going to waste it.

Pepper gave her own moan, and opened her mouth slightly, melting into Tony's kiss, her body lighting its self on fire. His lips were soft even though they were chapped and his usually neatly trimmed mustache and goatee were rough against her skin, but she didn't mind.

After a moment, she pulled back to look at Tony. His face was pale, his eyes were closed tightly and his breathing came in short labored gasps. His hands were still in her hair and his forehead rested against hers. "Tony?" she whispered, and he slowly opened his eyes, he gave her a small smile before he tensed in pain and his eyes rolled back in his head, body going limp. "Tony!" Pepper gasped out, laying him down on the bed.

He was completely still, his skin still hot to the touch though, and as she leaned over to check his pulse his hot breath gently tickled her skin. Tears streamed down her face, as she leaned down kiss his forehead gently. This was truly it. Tony Stark was dying. She wanted one more kiss before…before….

She pressed her lips slowly to his slightly parted mouth. Her tears landed on his hot skin and slid down her own cheeks. When she pulled back, she felt a gently breath expelled onto her cheek like a sigh then there was nothing. Her hands shook as she franticly looked for a pulse, and finding none, she stroked his hair once more off his face, smoothing it back, before she let out an agonizing cry of pain and collapsed over his body, clutching him to her desperately.

She rocked on the bed, gently, tears streaming down her flushed face, muttering to herself. Denying that Anthony Stark was truly gone. She refused to believe it, she couldn't believe it…

Anthony Edward Stark

Beloved Son,

Friend,

And Co-Worker

April 4, 1977

To

October 15, 2008