Just a little one-shot, it's my first attempt at writing an Iron Man fic so hopefully the characters came out okay. Enjoy!

"I want an American cheeseburger, and... I want you to call a press conference."

Pepper stared at him, her eyes wide with shock. "What? A press conference?"

Tony lay his head on the back of his seat, staring up at the ceiling dazedly. He was absolutely exhausted, but he really wasn't in the mood to go to sleep. He had been gone for two months; what had he missed? What would Jarvis say when he got back? He already knew the answer to that, of course-the thing was, after all, just a machine-but it was an exciting question to think about. Plus, it kept him awake. "I just need to get back into things, alright? I have to make sure everything's-"

"You need to get into a hospital," Pepper said, interrupting him, a good amount of concern creeping into her voice. "No one would expect-"

"I don't want to go to the hospital. I hate hospitals. They smell, and they make you wear those weird-looking gowns, and none of the nurses are pretty, and-"

"Fine. Fine! We won't go to the hospital, but someone will give you an examination when we get you back home. I don't care if the mailman does it, it's got to be done." She paused with her lips pulled together in a tight line and looked him over thoroughly for any obvious damage. Her gaze quickly settled on the slightly raised circle in the center of his chest, the thing she probably wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't been leaning backwards like he was; it was much too round to be natural.

"Mr. Stark, what is that?" Potts asked, worry thickening her tongue for a moment before she spoke...but as usual, Anthony was completely impervious to worry. He lifted his head up just enough to look down at his chest, then lay it back down on the backrest again. "Oh, that's an arc reactor, I made it to keep the shrapnel out of my heart."

"Shrapnel? Out of your heart?"

"Yeah. When the funvee blew up I got shrapnel in my chest, and without this it'll cut into my heart and kill me."

Pepper was speechless for a moment; she recovered a second later with a little shake of her head. "Funvee?"

Tony picked his head up again. "Did I actually say that out loud? Sorry. Pretend that I didn't."

Potts looked up at his face, her brow still gently creased with concern, and he gave her a big, goofy grin in response. She pursed her lips at that; it was hardly appropriate for the situation. "Are you crazy? You've got shrapnel in your heart and you don't want to go to a hospital? They can get it out for you."

"No and no, I hate hospitals and they can't get it out, trust me we tried. And no, it's not in my heart, if it was I'd already be dead. So it's not. Trust me, Pepper, I'm fine."

"No, you are not fine. You can't blow this one off."

"Well, maybe not, but you can't make me go to the hospital either because you work for me and not vice versa."

Pepper stared at him, then huffed out a frustrated breath and sat back on her seat. "Fine, we won't go to the hospital. But if you die-"

"I'm not going to die, I'm fine. Honestly."

Pepper smiled at him with a face that said, you can't lie, but you can try. "Yes, Mr. Stark."

"I am! Really, it doesn't even hurt anymore. I'm fine."

Potts shook her head. "You just spent two months in captivity in the middle of nowhere, managed to save your own life and escape, got lucky enough for Rhodes to find you before you died of thirst, and you say you're fine."


"I think you're crazy."

"Probably..." and then he sat up, his teasing mood suddenly gone. "But I-there was this other guy, Yinsen-he was the one that saved my life." Tony frowned to himself. "He did that twice."

Potts looked down at her hands and rubbed them together, unsure of what to say to that. "Did he live?" she asked finally, her voice making it very clear that she knew he hadn't.

Tony confirmed her suspicions just a second later. "No."

"I'm sorry."

Stark didn't say anything to that, just nodded and lay his head on the backrest again. Pepper sighed to herself and looked out the window, still worried for him but unable to do a thing about it. She noticed they had finally gotten into town; Hogan had pulled into a MacDonald's drive-through and was slowig the car at the menu sign. "Sir, we have arrived at the drive-through. What would you like to eat?"

"A big mac, large fries, chocolate milkshake," he said without sitting up. He really did look exhausted now, like he could pass out any minute. "Pepper, you want anything?"

Pepper shook her head. "No sir, I think I'll be all right."

"You sure?"

"Yes sir."



"O.K." He closed his eyes. "Then just pass it back here whenever it comes."

"Yes, sir."

"And Pepper?"

"Yes sir?"