Tony Stark was acutely aware of how people's treatment of him had changed since he came out as the heroic Iron Man. He had expected things to differ. He was a superhero, after all. Techinically, a sort of demigod among men but the heightened attention and flattery was instead replaced with hooded glances, whispers behind lips shielded by hands. It was almost as if people were afraid of him. This wasn't what he expected and it wasn't what he wanted. He had a plan, though.
"Your plan is flawed," Pepper Potts told him as she followed him into the airport.
"And how is that, Pepper?" He smiled kindly at a passerby who was clearly gawking at him. The man turned away without a hint of a grin. He rubbed the back of his neck and griped, "You'd think I kicked one of Brangelina's kids or something."
Pepper smiled softly for a moment and then told him, "I applaud what you are doing, really, I do. I think it is good that you have eschewed your private jet to travel with everyone else. But-"
"No buts," Tony told her, shaking his head. "I am travelling with the masses. Tony Stark is traveling commercially! I am giving up the luxury of my private jet equipped with all the amenities of a freaking house."
"There is a burrito machine in that jet, Pepper. Did you hear me? A burrito machine."
"Tony, all I am saying is that your flying first class might not be the best way to reconnect with the public."
He looked at her with an incredulous look. "Well, what else would I fly?"
"Business," she told him. "Or coach."
He laughed loudly and told her, "You're funny, Pepper. Do you know that? A natural comedian."
"Business is not a ridiculous thought," she told him soberly. "Coach would be a bit of a shock for you. All they get are a bag of peanuts-"
"That's a joke too, right?" She gave him a look. "Dear God, I am staying in first class. Besides, I need the extra leg room. I have long pegs. As do you, Pepper. You see, I am doing this for you. It is for my comfort as well as yours."
"Alright, alright, let's get through security."
Tony strode over to the security line, stopping beside a squat blonde woman who was already taking off her shoes and putting them in a bin. Tony looked at her oddly and Pepper told him, "Shoes off, Tony. You have to put them in the basket along with your belt."
He looked back at her. "Are you trying to undress me, Pepper?"
"Precisely," she retorted. "Now, come on, you don't want to hold up the line."
He grabbed onto the table as he pulled off his shoes. His socks followed a moment later when Pepper told him, "Those too."
"Are you serious?"
"Homeland security does not joke, Tony."
He frowned and pulled off his socks, nearly toppling over as he pulled the sock off his left foot. Pepper had already taken off all the proper garments and smirked at him as he padded over. "You'd think a super hero would have better balance."
"Can it, Potts."
They walked forward, Pepper going through the metal detector, and then Tony went to follow her. She had gotten through easily but as he went through the machine began beeping. She turned around and watched the security guard approach and ask, "Sir, take off all metal."
"I did," Tony said, checking quickly for anything he forgot. "All clear."
The security guard frowned and said, "Try again."
Tony stepped back through the metal detector and once again it began beeping. The security guard sighed and took out the wand they used to further inspect people. Pepper already knew what had set off the machine. If Tony did he didn't show it but as the metal detector made its way down from Tony's neck it began beeping right at his chest.
"Open your shirt," the man demanded. Tony began unbuttoning it as he quipped, "Are you at least going to buy me a drink?"
The security guard began to give him a disapproving look but stepped back when he saw the circle of palladium set into Tony's chest. He looked up at Tony with narrowed eyes and asked, "What the hell is that?"
Tony looked down. "Oh, that is palladium."
"I'm going to need you to come in back with me," the guard said, eyeing Tony warily. Tony shook his head and stepped forward a bit as he began to explain the apparatus in his chest. The guard's hand landed on his gun as Tony moved forward and upon seeing this Tony stepped backward slightly, his hands up in yielding.
"Look, I don't want to cause trouble. Let me just explain. I was travelling with armed forces down in Afghanistan when our armored vehicle was hit."
"I don't really care what you were doing. You need to come back with me."
"Shrapnel entered my chest. That's sort of a big deal. And this palladium here keeps the shrapnel from entering my heart."
"You're going to have to go back with me."
"Hold on just one second," Pepper said, stepping up and pulling out a slim envelope from her purse. She handed it to the security guard who read it over quickly before handing it back to her with a curt nod.
"Go ahead, Mr. Stark."
Tony looked oddly at Pepper who was nonchalantly slipping the envelope into her purse and followed her away from the security check point, his shoes and socks clutched in his hands. They stopped at a nearby bench and as he pulled on his socks he asked, "What was that?"
"What was what?" she asked innocently.
"The paper you pulled out."
"A letter from Rhodes." He clearly needed more clarification and she grinned before adding, "It is a letter that passed you through security. It explained that what is in your chest in indeed not a bomb."
He stared at her for a moment, his shoe half on. "You had that all along?"
He finished putting on his shoes and then stood before her. She saw his belt on the bench and reminded him, "Your belt, Tony." He hastily grabbed it from the bench and as he put it through the loops of his pants he said, "So, are you telling me that I went through all those hoops with Bad Cop for nothing?"
Pepper grinned. "I wanted to let you experience what everyone else does. It is part of your getting in touch with the masses."
"No, that was really not part of it."
"Come on, let's go sit by the gate."
"You are not allowed to add to the plan," Tony told her. "The plan is mine. Only I can add to the plan." She nodded in yielding, but the smirk on her face told him that she would not actually comply. His voice sounded childishly pressing as he said, "Really, Pepper, my plan is good enough."
"You're right, Tony. Your plan is flawless."
The sarcasm was not lost on him.
Tony and Pepper entered gate 37 D, Pepper sitting on the end of the aisle and Tony next to a man who was fast asleep. The sleeping man's breathing hitched with a rather violent snore. Tony looked over at him in terror. "Change seats with me," he told Pepper.
"No, I'm fine right here."
"We'll be boarding soon."
The man began snoring steadily and his head dipped down, lolling to the side so his body leaned toward Tony. Pepper smirked as Tony turned to her and said "I am never flying commercial again."
A/N: Please leave feedback! I am relatively new to this fandom and would love your reactions to this!
Shameless Promotion Time: Make sure to check out my other Iron Man story "The Cereal Aisle" :-D