"Before you ask, yes, that is really me. Not a dream, or a hoax, or your imagination. I really am riding a nuclear missile like a mechanical bull, and I'll have to put that on my business card."

"Is that really you?"

"What did I just tell you?"

"Well, I'm just a little shocked. I mean, alien invasions, nuclear missiles, you riding them in an extremely suggestive manner -" Pepper plopped herself down into one of STARK 1's ridiculously luxurious seats. If she didn't look out the window, it was hard to believe she was on a jet. "It's enough to give a girl the vapors."

"Turn up the air-conditioning."

"Done. Are you sure there wasn't anything else?"

"Well, I did want to tell you that uh, it's perfectly safe for me. I made sure the Mark 7 was space-rated, in case they needed me to fix the ISS or something. So I'll just get it through that portal, and head back. Just like we planned." Wasn't his best lie, but he was counting on Pepper being too distracted to not-

"Mmm hm."

Well, crap.

"Nothing else?"

"I love you."

"I love you too. What did you really call for?"

"Well, it's nothing big," said Tony, as he and his big, phallic friend approached Long Island. He could probably drop in on the house where he spent the first few years of his life, see if they had left the crayon drawings on the basement wall. Maybe they were charging for tours. "See Tony Stark's first purple turtle!"

"Just - before I ask, I want you to know that if you say yes, I want to have lots of kids. At least ten. If you want to marry me, I mean."

"No, no matter how much I'd like to have Captain America for the godfa-wait, what? Tony, what did you say?"

"Crap, I screwed up. Lemme try again-"

"Tony, of course I'll -"

"Wait, wait, I have to ask properly. Semi-properly. I'll pick up a ring later. Miss Virginia Potts, will you marry me?"

"You're seriously asking this now?"

The portal loomed. The Team was trying to cut in, but he ignored them. He'd make it back. One way or another.

"That's not a y-"

If you want to see a similar earlier story of mine filled with Tony, Pepper, banter, and Vanko's cockatoo, check out my Iron Man 2 fic "What happened to the burd?" ( /s/6007882/1/ ).