A/N: This is an AU of the movie-verse, one in which Pepper smokes...I don't know why but I can sometimes imagine her being a smoker, the stress of her job and all, making her hypocritical of the way she's always telling Tony to cut down on alcohol because he's endangering his health and so on and so forth...

I will be posting another chapter to' The Perverted Mind Of Tony Stark' sometime tomorrow, this is kind of an idea that I've been playing with for a while that I've only just scribbled down, so I apologise if there are any spelling mistakes.

Disclaimer: I don't own them...

Hope you enjoy it...

It had happened again, Pepper noted as she peered over her shoulder, the morning sunlight drifting through open curtains coming to fall softly across the back of a man whose name she couldn't remember.

She closed her eyes as regret ebbed away in her chest, the tears threatening to fall. She took a deep breath as she stood away from her bed, pulling on the robe that hung from the back of her bedroom door, her fingers resting on the box of cigarettes that nestled in her pocket.

She drew a single stick from the box and gently put it to her lips, lighting it as she reached her kitchen, the kettle's fresh scream surrounding her as she took it off the stove and poured herself a cup of coffee.

She never made two cups, hoping that, like all the others, last night's conquest knew not to ask for one. She inhaled her cigarette, her eyes closing as she heard her front door slam, she felt guilty for not even taking the time to learn his name.

Pepper realized, as she watched the nameless man walk down her drive, how she'd suddenly taken after her father, those women who'd come and gone when she was a little girl, all of them nameless, and none of them not sticking around long enough to say goodbye. Why else would she have been so good at telling Tonys one night stands to beat it?

She'd asked him once how many of these women it would take until he was happy, and she now found herself directing that very same question at her own life.

This wouldn't have happened she realized, had she taken a chance on Tony, if she'd allowed herself that one indulgence to finally know what it felt like to feel his lips on hers. But she hadn't and he'd moved on, finding himself a new girl to hang off of his arm, and this one had a ring.

Madeline Greene.

Pepper could feel the prick of her tears at the back of her eyes before they'd started to waterfall down her cheeks, she hadn't even noticed that she'd dropped the coffee cup until it shattered into a thousand pieces falling on the tiled floor like small drops of rain.

Too caught up in her own self pity to notice how her legs gave out underneath her, her body crumpling to the floor, her left hand gripping tightly to the cigarette as if it was her only lifeline, the other flat against the broken china.

She leant down on her arm, the sharp pieces of the white china digging into her palm; she could swear she'd heard the sound of her skin breaking as the tiny pieces bite into her flesh.

She welcomed the physical pain, her tears deserving something more to cry about rather than that of the emotional despair she felt day in, day out.

Her heart in pieces much like the china cup!

Her chest felt heavy as she walked into the Stark mansion that morning, her eyes were probably still red, her right hand, now neatly bandaged, throbbing with dull pain.

She saw Tony eating a bowl of cereal in the kitchen, the spoon stopping short of his mouth when he noticed her standing there, his eyes taking her in.

The spoon fell into the bowl with a clatter as Tony stood quickly and made his way over to her with the swiftness of a cat, his hand grabbing hold of her right wrist, his fingers slowly moving over the pristine white bandage.

The hairs on the back of her neck stood up, and her heart beat that little bit faster as his chocolate browns shot up to her face, "Pepper, what happened?" his eyes seemed almost as lifeless as hers, and she wondered for the millionth time if he was truly as happy as he said he was.

She cleared her throat, her voice barely a whisper, "I broke a cup." It wasn't a lie, but it wasn't the truth either.

His fingers, she noted, were still caressing her palm.

"Tony, sweetheart," Madeline's voice broke the moment, Tony suddenly letting his hand drop to his side, his middle finger brushing softly over hers longer than it was necessary, she felt electricity shoot up her arm, and then nothing except the whoosh of her arm as it brushed against the material of her suit, "I'm still not sure about having roses for centre pieces and was wondering – Oh Miss Potts, good morning." The blonde model said with a smile.

Pepper did not smile back, instead she nodded her head and muttered a "Good morning" in return, she didn't even look at the other women, her eyes focused on Tonys.

She could hardly breathe from the intensity of his gaze.

"Miss Potts," Madeline said sharply forcing Pepper to look at her, "I have some dry cleaning that needs picking up."

Pepper gave a tight smile, even though she could feel tears once again prickling behind her eyes, "Of course." She said her voice wavering slightly.

She left quickly, not wanting to be in the room a second longer with that woman.

"Maddie!" she heard Tony hiss, "Show Pepper some respect she's my-"

"She's your assistant Tony," she bit back, "nothing more, nothing less; it's high time you got that into your thick skull!"

Pepper closed her eyes; she may be his assistant, but that didn't stop her from wanting to be his something more.

Pepper gripped the steering wheel tightly as she turned off the ignition of her car, her eyes daring to look in the rear-view mirror, Madeline's dry cleaning piled neatly cross the back seat.

She inhaled from her cigarette, her hands shaking tremendously, she rested her forehead upon the steering wheel and turned her head to the side watching the smoke twirl from the cancer stick; she wanted to cut up every expensive piece of clothing that sat in her car, or better yet burn it, all she had to do was throw the cigarette behind her and wait for the clothes burn.

But she didn't because as much as she disliked Miss Greene she was still a professional; she was still Tony Stark's personal assistant, a very highly respected woman in the business industry, a woman whose hopes and dreams for the future would be gone in a flash if she let her personal feelings get the best of her.

Her eyes stayed glued to the cigarette, at the way the tip burnt slowly, the smoke rising in small curls and wisps, she wondered what it would feel like pressed against her palm, and about the inevitable flow of pain that would ensue. It would give her something to cry about, rather than wasting tears on emptiness and uncertainty.

She stubbed it out, throwing away the thought; she was not into self harming, even though the cuts on her palm told otherwise, she would not do it again.

She took a deep breath before stepping out of her car, grabbed the freshly clean clothes and walked into the house. Pepper did not call for Miss Greene to let her know about her dry cleaning, she instead like the good little assistant she was, took the clothes up to the master bedroom, the same one she longed to be invited into as more than as a Stark employee.

She laid the bags onto the bed, her eyes scanning around the room, she picked up a picture of the two of them, Tony and Maddie, feeling her heart lurch in response. They looked happy, Tony looked happy, more so than he did now.

Was that woman sucking the life out of him?

Or was he just tired like he always said he was?

She clenched her fists, her nails digging into her palms, not into self harming huh? Her conscious remarked as she most probably irritated the fresh cut wounds.

"Pepper?" startled, Pepper dropped the picture frame, and spun sharp on her heel coming face to face with Tony, "Shit Pep!" he muttered under his breath, he came towards her and for the second time that day nestled her palm in his, the bandage was slowly turning red.

He gave a gentle tug on her hand, his way of telling her to follow him, so she did. He never once let go of her hand from the journey from his bedroom to his workshop, cradling her palm as he told her to sit down on the small infirmary bed he'd had installed, along with many other medical supplies, just to make her job that much easier when stitching him up. It gave her butterflies.

Neither of them said a word as he removed the soiled bandages and applied a clean one. It wasn't until he'd finished that she broke down in tears, too over whelmed with her own emotions, she could not find it in her to lock them back up into that little box in the back of her mind.

She loved this man, and to see him with another woman was killing her.

She felt Tonys arms warp around her shoulders, drawing her towards his chest, enveloping her in a hug, he didn't say anything, he didn't whisper to her that everything was going to be alright, and he didn't ask her what was wrong, knowing that she'd tell him in her own time.

"I hate this!" Pepper howled, her cheek crushed against his chest, "I hate this and I hate her!" she sobbed harder, her shoulders shaking under his touch, "I hate her Tony, I don't want to but I do!" he tightened his arms around her, and she knew that he knew that she was talking about Madeline, knowing that he probably thought she was referring to the way the blonde treated her, rather than the fact that she was jealous.

Pepper felt his lips press a kiss to her forehead, and she closed her eyes to savour the sensation, giving him the opportunity to place kisses on both her eyelids and then her nose, before he tipped her chin with thumb, his eyes seeking hers, she only just managed to take a deep breath before he kissed her mouth.

Time seemed to slow down, and all she could hear was the beating of her own heart and the short breaths coming from his nose. It was tentative at first, gentle, explorative, as if they were both testing the water before jumping straight in.

He held her cheek in his hand, before he thrust it back into her strawberry tresses, titling her head back, kissing her deeper, his lips thrashing against her as if his life depended on it. She fisted his shirt in both her hands, her legs wrapping around his waist, pulling him closer, trying to crawl her way underneath his skin.

It was a mixture of teeth, tongue and lips, it was heat, it was passion; it was everything.

"I love you." The words falling from his mouth in a whisper, she froze.

She pushed him away, her breathing heavy, and walked briskly out of the workshop, and away from him. She loved him, she'd stopped denying it years ago, but he was engaged, he couldn't love her, he'd gotten caught up in the moment as much as she had, right?

She was scared.

She didn't know what to do anymore.

"Shit, shit, SHIT!" Tony cried digging the palms of his hands into his eyes. He felt his legs bend at the knee but caught himself before hitting the ground, mustering up the courage to pull his weight back up, and turning on his heel, ending up with his face against the wall.

He swung his head forward, his forehead crashing down on the concrete; he didn't notice the pain in the least, still hurting too much from watching Pepper run out on him.

He was an idiot, what on earth possessed him to say those words? He closed his eyes, he'd meant them though, every single one, but he was engaged, he wasn't supposed to have fallen in love with his assistant, except that he'd always been in love with her, or at least he had been for as long as he could remember.

He went to his desk, his eye caught on the picture that sat untouched, in a silver photo frame from Tiffany's, an old Christmas gift from Pepper that he'd never found the right picture for until the day before his last birthday.

Pepper had planned a night out, just the three of them, Tony, Rhodey and herself, telling him that she wanted him to remember at least one of his birthdays. She'd worn an emerald green dress that clung to her curves perfectly, the skirt stopping mid thigh, him and Rhodey both in a tux.

The picture was of him and Pepper, he had his arm around her, and they were both smiling, she'd looked beautiful that night and he'd told her so; they'd flirted so shamelessly that Rhodey had nudged him with his elbow, they way a guy tells another guy to go for it without actually saying it.

He'd walked her to her door and surprisingly she'd kissed his cheek, it was her subtle way of telling him to make the next move, and he had, just not with her. The next day on his actual birthday was when he'd met Madeline, she'd been beautiful and he was instantly drawn to her, Tony knew now that the only reason he'd gone for her in the first place was because he was scared of commitment, scared of hurting Pepper.

He'd tricked himself into believing it was because Madeline had been so challenging, she'd denied him the first time around and so he kept pursuing her, calling her, asking her out, sending her gift after gift, and when she did finally give into his charm he'd given her a ring.

She'd been wonderful and kind at the beginning, but slowly her true colours began to shine and he didn't like what he saw, he'd fallen half in love with the idea of her and he hated himself for it.

He no longer wanted to marry Madeline, and by God had he tried to break it off but she was manipulative and cruel and now that he had her, he didn't want her and the woman he truly wanted had just walked out on him.

Tony picked up the photo and ran his finger over Peppers face wishing he could kiss her again, knowing that unless he did something soon, he would never get the chance.

Today was the day, Pepper thought bitterly, the day that Tony Stark got married, a day she would hate for the rest of her life.

There was no doubt that every news station would be playing live footage of the prestigious event, it had been the most looked forward to event since the Brad and Angelina wedding, maybe even more so.

She didn't dare turn on the T.V for that reason, knowing she probably wouldn't come out of the experience in one piece, much like if she'd turned up to the live thing she probably wouldn't have survived at all. Her invitation had been torn into pieces and immediately thrown into the trash.

She didn't dare turn her radio on either, the only sound though out her entire house had been the ticking clock that sat on her mantel piece until a few moments ago when the sound had gotten unbearable and she'd thrown the antique across the room, the silence was now deafening.

She curled her legs up towards her chest and hugged them tightly, the oversized ex-boyfriend sweater falling off of her fragile frame, the sweat pants she wore helped her to feel even less attractive than the jumper ever could, but what was the point in trying to look good when she felt like a frazzled up bundle of nerves.

The pack of cigarettes she gone though hadn't helped in the slightest.

Pepper darted a look over to her phone, checking to see if it had not somehow crawled back onto its cradle, it had rung constantly until the point when she'd snapped, pulling it off the cradle, hanging up on whoever it was on the other end and throwing the piece of plastic carelessly onto the table, she couldn't bear to speak to anyone.

She hated this feeling, was there a name for it? When you feel as if you might just fall apart at any given moment, where you crumble into yourself and find it impossible to find your way back from the edge?

She wiped her eyes, jumping at the sound of knocking at her door; she only answered it five minutes later when the banging became persistent.

She swung the door opened and her breath caught, was she seeing things or was that Tony on the other side of the threshold?

"Hey Pep." he said, his voice hoarse, almost as if he'd been crying, his eyes were red and so were his cheeks, so maybe he had or it could've just been the rain.

She didn't say anything, still trying to work out why her boss was here when he was supposed to be taking his vows.

She closed her eyes and gathered herself, "W-what are you doing here?" she asked her voice low, afraid that if she was too confident that the image of him standing in front of her would shatter only to reveal to her that she had in fact been dreaming.

She could hear the tap, tap, tap of the rain as it hit the ground, the roar of it falling sending a chill through her, Pepper looked a mess and the presence of the man who she was hopelessly in love with, a man who was supposed to be getting married, was not making it any better.

She didn't dare raise her hopes up.

"I couldn't do it Pepper, I couldn't marry Madeline." He said, his eyes begging her to understand what he was saying, almost as if there was a hidden meaning behind his words, was there?

She choked back a sob, hope rising in her chest, "W-Why? Why couldn't you –"

"Because I don't love Madeline, how could I when the whole time I was in love with you!" he cried ecstatically, a wide smile overtaking his features, his eyes bright, happy to finally tell her, to not have it bottled up inside anymore.

Pepper stared at him, shock written all over her face. She couldn't move, his words sinking deep into her soul, awakening something she'd squelched down long ago, the sudden rush enticing and yet frightening.

It was too much, too fast, "How?" she already knew why, but the how somehow seemed more important.

"I said no," he chuckled lightly, the sound almost drowned out by the rain, his hair sodden against his brow, he shook his head in reminiscence, water droplets falling on her face mixing with the tears that fell from her eyes, "I told her I couldn't lie to myself anymore, couldn't deny myself what I truly wanted," he paused and took the time to look at her, she was smiling, despite herself she was smiling, tears of joy streaming down her face, "I want you Pepper, and I will always want you." He brushed his thumbs against her cheeks wiping away her tears, "Pepper, please don't cry." he too was crying.

She nodded, her face crunched up as she tried not to cry, but she couldn't help herself, she chuckled happily through the tears and threw her arms around his neck forcing him to take a step back, pulling her out into the rain, her lips crushing against his own as she kissed him hungrily.

Her hands came to rest on each side of his face as she moved her lips desperately over his, tasting him, "I love you Tony, I love you so much it hurts!" she whispered against his lips before delving her tongue inside his mouth as she sought after his own, "Promise me you'll never leave me?" she begged as she held him close, pulling him into the house, their hands quick to remove the clothes they wore.

"I promise!" he whispered as he captured her lips with his once again, the door closing swiftly behind them, the walls the only witness to the love they shared.

The china cup was now much like her heart, whole again, and so it would remain for many years to come.


A/N: Yay a happy ending after all...hope you guys liked it...Please review and let me know what you thought, thanks.