This didn't really turn out exactly how I wanted it to, but this idea just popped in my head after re-watching both the Iron Man movies and the Avengers (still awesome the third time). I wrote it out and decided to share it anyway! Read and review :)
Paranoid they liked to call him. Tony tends to disagree. He says he's just being cautious. And Pepper? Well, Pepper agrees with Tony. To anyone else it might have bordered on paranoia, but she appreciated the lengths he went to, to make sure he was at full strength at all times.
Like how the first thing he did after any battle was restock the suit, if it was still in one piece, with more bullets and missiles. He ran diagnostics on the systems, making sure each piece was still in complete working order. Even before he was attending to his wounds, he was making sure that every piece of the suit was functional.
(Pepper thinks it's because of a certain time that she was injured. Tony hadn't been able to get there in time because he hadn't made the necessary repairs to the suit the day after a battle. He had taken a hard hit and the doctor's had threatened to tie him to the bed if he didn't rest. With a little help from Jarvis, he had managed to sneak out and get to her in time to save her life. Still, she knew it kept him up at night, caught up in the "what-ifs.")
If there was time before a battle, he checked to make sure each piece was working how it was supposed to. The check only took a couple minutes, each individual piece whirring as it moved, then closing back into place. It was a rare day when they got that much warning before Tony had to fly, but after the first few times he had flown off without checking, the rest of the team noticed how agitated he got, so they always told him first when there was a mission. That way he had time to check the suit and still catch up with the team.
(Pepper remembers the 3 a.m. phone call she got from Steve. "Pepper? It's about Tony. We were on a mission and a piece of his suit failed. He fell off a building and the flight stabilizers didn't respond. Listen, Thor caught him before he hit the ground, but his arm got broken in the process. We'll make sure he gets home. Don't worry." She did anyway.)
He always has at least one extra suit ready for action. Usually he has at least two or three, each one just a little different than the other. As they evolved, they became more and more convenient. Like the suit that Happy could carry around in a briefcase, or the one that would connect with his bracelets and form around him. He even promised Pepper that one day, he would create one that she could carry around in her purse. He stored at least one suit in their home in California, one in the Avengers' tower in New York, and one in the Avengers' home base, wherever that was. Anywhere that Tony spent time at least a day a week, there was a suit there.
(Pepper remembers how helpless Tony felt when Ivan attacked him in Monaco. After that moment, he started making sure there were suits everywhere he was, so he could call them up at a moment's notice. It didn't help when he came back from his first mission with the Avengers, Steve's words were still ringing in his ears: Big man in a suit, take that away and what are you?)
Despite his protests, Tony never took back Rhodey's suit. The War Machine, he called it. In fact, Tony made sure to visit once a week, or have Rhodey bring the suit over, so that he could upgrade the system and make sure everything was still working. There were times that Rhodey would get into the suit, greeted by Jarvis, and find new functions loaded into the system. Along with that, Tony hooked his suit up with Rhodey's, so that if anything ever happened to him while in the suit, Rhodey would know about it.
(Pepper remembers a particular "date", where it was just the two of them, and out of nowhere, some guy had just attacked Tony. He had taken a hard shot and the arc reactor had been cracked. Pepper had managed to pull him out of the line of fire when the police arrived and call Rhodey for help. By the time he got there, Tony's heart had started stuttering. A few more minutes and he wouldn't have made it, the doctors told her later.)
Speaking of the arc reactors, he always had extras of those too. They weren't easy to carry (well, Tony always argued that they were easy to carry, it just wasn't necessarily safe) but he kept an extra everywhere that there was a suit. The only time he needed to replace one now, after discovering the new element, was after a battle, when the shielding on the arc reactor wasn't strong enough and the reactor was cracked or punctured. Of course, the majority of the time he wasn't conscious to change it out, but everyone he worked with had been instructed on how to change it.
(Pepper remembered walking into the New York Stark tower before it became the Avengers' tower, after S.H.I.E.L.D had arrived to take Loki away. Steve had stared in horror as Tony just collapsed, the arc reactor blinking in and out before it just went dead. Banner was trying to keep everyone calm, since he understood more about the technology in Tony's chest, while Natasha tore his lab apart, looking for an extra reactor to put in. Pepper had walked into the middle of this and immediately took control of the situation. It only took 30 seconds to change out the reactors, another 30 for Tony to wake up, but another week for him to restore calm in his teammates. He finally relented on his "need-to-know" basis and instructed them all on how the reactor worked, where the extras were, and how to change them. Since then, a teammate had had to change it out three times. Three times too many in Pepper's opinion.)
Tony never said anything against his teammates when they laughed at his caution. Instead, he easily diverted their attention with a jab at someone else, using the Stark charm he had been born with. He never really said anything about it to Pepper either, but they had known each other for almost ten years; he didn't need to say anything to her. She understood and made the best accommodations that she could. Tony Stark wasn't known to be careful and take precautions, so whatever assistance she could provide, she would.
(She spent the hours, days, sometimes weeks he was gone worrying, praying it wouldn't be like Afghanistan again, that he would come back to her in one piece. So far he's always come back alive. Maybe a little scraped up, or so exhausted he would sleep for days, but alive and breathing. But she always made sure to that she took the time to wrap her arms around him the first chance she got and just hold him, so that she could feel his warmth, hear the arc reactor humming, see that his chest moved up and down. Even if that meant she had to wait until he had made repairs to his suit before she got him.)