Anthony and Virginia

By: InitialA

Disclaimer: I own nothing in the Marvel universe.

"Keep the disco stick of death somewhere else," Tony waved Natasha away as Clint and Thor hauled Loki into the safe room—well, Pepper called it the safe room, he called it the needlessly heavy-to-build, ridiculous-when-you're-living-with-a-superhero room. Encased in a foot of metal and another foot of concrete, it would serve as a prison until they could safely get Loki back to Asgard.

What he really wanted was another drink, and to run a check on his vitals, without anyone watching. Bruce, after he had lost the nasty shade of green he'd been walking around with, said he'd been out for a few minutes. Out-out. No arc reactor-out. He knew how quickly the shrapnel could react to the loss of stability. Three minutes might have been just enough time.

The elevator dinged. Everyone looked up as the door slid open. Pepper, vivid in white and livid with rage, stormed out of the elevator. "What the hell was that?" She yelled, bee-lining for Tony.

He couldn't help it. He grinned, and opened his arms wide. "Pepper, I—ow! Ow, what—"

She hit him several times on the chest, still making sure not to hit the arc reactor, tear tracks evident on her face. "You… You absolute—incredible—insensitive—jerk! Moron! I hate you! I hate you, I hate you!" She punctuated each insult with another hit.

The assault was mild at most—he'd been on the receiving end of a few of her really angry slaps (admittedly he had earned two of them, the jury was out on the third)—so he knew she didn't mean it, she was just upset. He folded his arms around her. She rested her forehead against his shoulder, her fists still, but at the ready, on his chest. "I don't know if you've heard, Ms. Potts, but I've just had a very hard day of saving the Earth, so if you could keep any additional bruises at the minimum…"

"Bruising will be the last thing you'll need to worry about when I'm through with you, Anthony," Pepper said, her voice muffled in his shirt.

"Anthony? I'm hurt, Virginia."

"You don't get to be hurt right now!" Pepper looked up at him. Her eyes were red and puffy. Guilt pinched at him. She dug in her handbag. She held up her phone, showing the one missed call notice. "You don't get to try and throw your life away and your dying wish is a phone call to me while I watch you vanish to God-knows-where with a missile strapped to your back, and then tell me you're hurt! You don't get to say that when I have to listen to all the reporters speculate, and talk about 'Tony Stark's Iron Man saves us all at the cost of his own life'. And then to see this. And have to keep it together in front of everyone."

She started to cry again, and Tony pulled her back to him. She wrapped her arms around him and clung to him. He noticed the others had left discreetly at some point during Pepper's scolding. "Does it help if I say it was a nuke?"


"What about if I said I was calling to tell you I was sorry, asked you to forgive me, and that I love you?"

"Tony… please. Don't…"

"I mean it. I know. I messed this part up in the past. But I mean it. I love you. You. Complete. Me. I've been saying it for years."

She looked up. He raised one eyebrow. He could tell she was trying to maintain the façade of anger, but was losing that battle spectacularly. She kissed him, hard. When they parted, she smacked him on the chest again. "Don't worry me like that again."

"So, what you're saying is, no more space adventures."

She pretended to think about it for a moment. "Mmm, no."

"Stratosphere? Like, how high up into the atmosphere are we talking? Where space actually begins can be kind of tricky."

"Figure out what twelve percent of the atmosphere is, and stick with that." She finally smiled.

"I can make a really good argument for fifteen," Tony said, relieved.

"Mm, I'll bet you can. Let's leave negotiations until later."

He leaned down and kissed her lightly. She smiled, and rested her forehead against his. "I love you ,too, Tony."