Ok, so first and foremost, I owe you all an apology. For the time being, Razor's Edge is being withdrawn. I have literally no inspiration for it any more. I know how I want it to end, but the getting there isn't happening. When the urge hits me again, I will post it, but until then it's being taken down. I really hate to do it, but I have to.
There were many emotions that didn't even register in Tony Stark's vernacular. Emotions like embarrassment, and fear very rarely, if at all, ever affected him. One particular emotion he hadn't felt since he was twenty-one was worry. His company was earning him millions, Happy could see off any non-business threats, so he never had a reason to worry, and yet here he stood, feeling exactly that as he watched Pepper flitting around her office at Stark Enterprises. She'd been avoiding him all day too, and usually this wouldn't bother him because she often avoided him in order to get more work done –the work that he was supposed to be doing- but this wasn't like that. He'd done all the work she needed him to do, and as far as he could tell she hadn't gotten a great deal more work done than usual over the past few days. She'd come back on Monday after the weekend and just seemed…off. More distant. And she kept moving and not staying still for more than a few minutes as if she was trying to keep herself busy despite the lack of work. It was now Wednesday and he could count the number of conversations they'd had on one hand. She hadn't been to his house since Friday, preferring to e-mail him anything important, and the few times he had seen her, she'd been even more professional than usual, and a lot more skittish.
So here he stood, forced to come into the office just to talk to her, and now that he stood here, he couldn't think of anything to say. 'Hey Pepper, why are you ignoring me and doing your job?' didn't seem to cover it. And she still hadn't noticed him. she usually had a sixth sense for him, but he'd been standing at the door for a good ten minutes, watching her fiddle with the items on her desk, a mere ten feet away, and nothing. He was very confused. More so when he realised that for the ten minutes he'd been standing watching her, she hadn't actually done anything. She was just staring at a picture frame on her desk.
Tony sighed and pushed himself off the door frame, resigning himself to leave her to it, but his sudden movement caught her eye and she jumped out of her skin, her eyes going wide and her expression going from one of complete dissociation to one of abject terror, and that really threw him.
"Pepper?" he stepped into the room and noticed she scooted back a little.
"Tony." Pepper gasped. "God, you scared me." She took a deep breath and her eyes seemed to flit around the room. She looked caged in.
"Yeah, I noticed." He said, voice low so as not to startle her. He walked further into the room and she visibly flinched. "You ok?"
"Sure." She said, rearranging her features to try and make the statement more believable.
"Are you?" Tony asked as he got to her desk.
Pepper gulped and stood up, gathering up some of her paperwork as she did so. "Why wouldn't I be?"
Tony watched her fumble with the papers. She didn't meet his eyes. "Well I don't know." He said. "You just seem a little off this week. Are you sick?"
She glanced up at him and hoisted the stack of papers up a little more. "I'm fine." She said, giving him an unconvincing smile. "Seriously. Just had a lot to…I've been busy today." She emphasised her point by nodding at the papers and waling around the desk.
"Pepper, wait a sec." Tony turned with her and grabbed her wrist gently.
Several things happened at once. As Tony's hand closed around Pepper's wrist, she gasped and he felt the muscles in her arm tense and he could physically see the rest of her body react. The papers fell from her grasp and scattered across the floor as she raised the hand holding them to her mouth.
"Jesus." Tony exclaimed, quickly letting go of her. "Pepper, what-"
"I have to go home." She interrupted him, backing away towards the door and clearly trying to hold back tears. "I'm sorry, I don't feel very well."
"Pepper, what just happened?" Tony tried to follow her but she held her hands up.
"Tony, please, I'll talk to you tomorrow." She said, her voice just this side of hysteria. She turned on her heel and bolted from the room, and for the first time in over fifteen years, Tony Stark was worried.
This was a bad idea. A very bad idea. But it was the only idea he had. Pepper hadn't turned up that morning, and he hadn't heard a thing off her since the previous day when she practically fled from the building, so the only choice he had left was this, standing outside of her apartment and calling her house phone. He could hear the thing ringing on the other side of the door, her car was in the lot, and her cell was off, and if she didn't pick up the phone soon, he was going to have to break the damn door down. He hammered on it yet again, his knuckles becoming sore from constant contact. After waiting for another five minutes and still receiving nothing, he flipped his phone shut and stepped back, prepared to kick it in, when a thought stopped him. He bent down and lifted the mat – nothing. He lifted up the plan pot to the right of the mat – nothing. Sighing again, he looked around, trying to find any other hiding places and his gaze settled on the gable above the door. There was a small ledge built onto the front. He reached up and felt around for a few seconds and then – success! He felt a spare key and immediately brought it down, shoving it into the lock and opening the door.
Pepper's apartment was quiet. Too quiet. He spotted her phone lying next to her purse on the coffee table. The blinds were drawn and the rest of the place looked dark.
"Pepper?" he called out. Silence. He closed the door and made his was slowly through the apartment, heading to what he thought was her bedroom when he heard something move behind the wall in front of him. He swallowed, preparing himself for a possible fight, and stepped around the doorway into the hall, immediately finding a baseball bat swinging at his head. He just about managed to get his arms up in time to deflect it, grabbing the weapon out of his assailant's hands and tossing it over his shoulder, drawing his fist back to counter-attack, but he stopped fast when he saw who it was.