Author's Note: This silly little blurb was written for a 'write-off' challenge over on my Yahoo group. This takes place directly after the movie Avengers, so SPOILERS for the big final battle scene – if you haven't seen it, you shouldn't read this.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, and I'm not making any money from the story.

Warnings: For F/M non-consensual spanking.

Prompt: Tony Stark put himself in serious danger when he took the missile through the wormhole. Someone isn't happy about that. Include the elements: eighty-five, pearl, and artificial AFTERMATH

Tony pulled into the multi car garage at his mansion, and turned to smile at his friend Bruce. "Ready to get to work?"

"I can't wait to get my hands on it." Bruce said with a grin, as he stepped out of the car. Even without the energy source, the machine that opened the wormhole was an amazing piece of technology.

"Neither can I." Tony said. They walked together to the main door, and Tony gestured for his friend to go inside first.

"I can't believe they're going to let us fiddle around with it to see what makes it tick," Bruce said as he walked in.

"They could have eighty-five different scientists looking at it, and none of them could do a better job than us," Tony said with conviction. "With our combined IQ, real life experience, and technical…"

"Tony?" Pepper's voice cut him off.

He turned towards her voice, and saw her coming out of the living room. "You're home," he said with a warm smile. "I thought you were in…"

She ran to him, and threw herself into his arms, holding onto him as tight as she could. He grunted with surprise at the sudden impact, and struggled to stay on his feet. He wrapped his arms around her, and breathed in the scent of her hair, thinking how much he would have missed that smell if he'd gotten stuck on the other side of the wormhole. He could feel her body shaking, and he heard a soft hitch in her breathing. Frowning, he said softly, "What's wrong?"

"You almost died," she whispered.

His chest swelled with love for her when he heard those words. He kissed the side of her head and whispered back, "But I didn't."

Bruce stuck his hands in his pockets, and pretended to be interested in a painting in the hallway.

She squeezed Tony tighter. "But you could have."

Trying to lighten her mood, he said, "Hazard of the job. Being a super hero and all."

She stiffened in his grasp, and he knew he'd said the wrong thing. She leaned back so she could look at him. "You think this is some kind of joke?" she asked with a glare.

"No." He shook his head. "Not at all. But I'm fine." He gave her a quick peck on the lips. "And because I'm fine, I can look back on it with a smile. It all worked out. I saved the city, and I proved to Captain StickUpHisAss that I will put my life on the line when it's necessary."

Her eyes flashed with anger. "So you were proving a point?" She let go of him and put her hands on her hips.

"No, no, it wasn't like that." Trying to change the subject, he gestured to Bruce and said, "And maybe we can have this talk later, since we have company. Pepper, this is Dr. Bruce Banner. Bruce, this is my better half, Pepper Potts."

Bruce held his hand out, and Pepper gave him a genuine smile when she shook it.

"It's lovely to meet you Dr. Banner," she said. "I've heard so many nice things about you."

"Please, call me Bruce, and it's nice to meet you too Ms. Potts."

"It's Pepper," she said with a smile. "Tell me Bruce, in your opinion, was Tony putting his life on the line that day because there were no other options, or do you think he was out to prove a point to Captain America?"

Bruce found Tony's obvious discomfort amusing, and decided to tell the truth. "There are always other options, in my opinion…"

Scowling, Tony cut him off. "Since you were a big green thug with the IQ of a rodent at the time, I don't think you get an opinion." He turned to Pepper and said firmly, "I did what needed to be done at the time, it just happened to work out nicely after the fact that what needed to be done also proved a point."

"Okay." She grabbed him by the ear, and gave it a little yank so that he had to lean down. "And now it's my turn to prove a point."

"Ow!" Tony complained. "That's not funny. Let go of my ear."

Pepper ignored him and gave Bruce an apologetic smile, "If you'll excuse us for just a moment."

"Of course." Bruce gave Tony a smirk and added, "Take all the time you need."

Tony glared at him from his hunched over position. "I bring you into my home to help me examine the device, and this is how you repay me?"

Bruce shrugged, "The big green thug is annoyed with you."

Pepper gestured to the living room and said, "Make yourself at home, Bruce." She glared at Tony. "You come to the kitchen with me." She kept his ear in her grip, and towed him towards the kitchen while he complained loudly.

"Pepper, this is ridiculous, be reasonable. I'm perfectly capable of walking into the kitchen without your assistance, and I'd appreciate it if you'd let go of my ear!"

"And I'd appreciate it if you weren't so glib about almost dying!" She pulled him over to the counter.

"I wasn't being glib! I was stating a fact! And you're overreacting!"

"Overreacting?" Her eyes opened wide, amazed that he would say that to her when she was already upset with him. "You almost got killed proving a point, and I'm overreacting?"

"Yes!" He tried to keep his head down where her hand was, so that his ear didn't get pulled on. Even with his efforts, the ear had been tugged a couple of times, and it was starting to ache. "So let go!"

If it were anyone other than her doing this to him, he'd have grabbed their wrist, forcefully removed the hand from his ear, and probably snapped a few fingers in the process. But he could never be rough with her, especially after everything she'd put up with from him over the years. He wouldn't fight her, and she knew it.

She glared at him for a few moments, and then let go of his ear.

"Thank you." Irritation laced his voice. "Now if you'd just calm down, and try to be rational, we can talk about this." He stopped when he realized Pepper wasn't even listening. She had opened a kitchen drawer, and was busy rifling through the utensils. He crossed his arms and said, "What exactly are you looking for?"

"Ah ha." She pulled out a wooden spoon with a pearl handle and showed it to him.

"Ah ha what? You're going to cook me something distasteful to make me suffer?" he asked with a scowl.

She raised one eyebrow and said, "Try again." She gestured to the wall with the spoon and said, "Face the wall, and put your hands on the counter."

The instant realization dawned he glared and hissed, "No! There is no way in hell I'm going to stand here and let…"

Having heard enough, Pepper grabbed his ear with her left hand this time, and snapped the spoon down onto his ass hard.

"Jesus!" he yelped, and covered his ass with both hands. He glared at her as best he could while she was holding his ear and said, "Don't you think dragging me around by the ear was humiliating enough?"

"No." She started slapping the spoon down on the backs of his legs since he had his hands over his ass.

"Ow, ow, ow! Stop it!" he moved his hands down to cover his thighs, and she started smacking his rear end. "Pepper!" He tried pulling away from her, but she had a strong grip on his ear, and pulling was too painful. Frustration bubbled out of his mouth. "God Damn it Pepper! You realize you're spanking me for saving the city and doing my job right? Would you have preferred it if I let all those people die?"

She stopped swatting and glared at him. "How can you say that? Of course not! I'm not spanking you for saving the city, I'm spanking you because you almost died."

He raised an eyebrow, unable to follow that bit of non-logic, and waited for her to realize what she'd said.

She narrowed her eyes when she saw his expression. Then she closed her eyes for a second, and took a deep breath. When she opened them again, she was much calmer.

"Sorry, that's not right. I'm spanking you, because of your attitude about almost dying." She started snapping the spoon down onto his butt again, but at a much slower pace, so he had time to listen. She said, "I understand that you're a super hero, and I understand that there will be times that you have to put your life on the line to protect others. But when you come home to me, you'd better be contrite and apologetic about almost getting yourself killed. I do not want to hear you joking about it, and I certainly don't want you to be smug."

His hands moved to cover each new spot of pain with every smack, so half of the swats landed on the backs of his legs while the other half landed on his butt. Tony tried to keep his reactions to a minimum, and considering the searing pain each smack left, he thought he'd done an admirable job of it so far. Only three small gasps of pain had escaped his lips. Wanting desperately to appease her, he decided to agree. He could be contrite. It might be artificial, but he could do it. "Okay I will! Ouch! Pepper I will! I'll be contrite next time!"

She stopped swatting, let go of his ear, and tossed the spoon onto the countertop. She put her hands on her hips and added, "Almost losing you is not funny, Tony."

Tony rubbed furiously at his abused skin and opened his mouth to respond, but before the biting comment could come out, he thought better of it. Instead he said softly, "I'm sorry you were worried about me."

She searched his face for a few seconds, and decided he was being sincere. She took a deep breath, let her hands drop down to her sides, and said, "Well…Okay then."

"Okay?"

She crossed her arms. "Okay, I'm not mad anymore."

Unable to stop himself, he smirked and said, "So you forgive me for saving the city, and possibly the planet?"

She rolled her eyes and sighed. "You're impossible."

He put his hands on her waist, and pulled her over to him. "You love it when I'm impossible."

She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and leaned into him. "No. I love it when you're here with me, and not putting your life on the line."

He hugged her tight and whispered in her ear, "When I thought I wasn't going to make it, all I could think about was you."

She leaned her head back far enough to put her lips on his. He responded with an urgent, almost demanding, kiss that had both of them wanting more. A few seconds later, she broke off the kiss and said softly, "Later. For now…" She let go of him, and took a step back, "…we have a guest waiting for us."

Tony groaned. He just knew Bruce had heard some of those smacks, and he'd certainly heard some of his yelling.

"It will be fine." Pepper said with an encouraging smile. "I'll go see if he wants something to drink, and give you a minute to yourself."

As soon as she had left the kitchen, he glared hatefully at the spoon on the counter, grabbed it, and tossed it into the trash. Feeling slightly satisfied, he moved out to the living room to face his friend.

He could hear Pepper's voice saying, "Okay. Let me know if you change your mind," as he walked down the hall. He rounded the corner and saw the two of them standing by the couch. A smile of amusement lit Bruce's features.

Tony pursed his lips, and crossed his arms, not wanting to hear whatever Bruce was going to say.

"I'll let you guys get to work," Pepper said. "Let me know when you're hungry for lunch." She walked to Tony and gave him a quick kiss, before leaving the room.

The two men watched her leave. A few seconds later, Bruce said with a smirk, "Did she prove her point?"

"Yes," Tony said with an unintentional pout, "and until you get a girlfriend of your own, I don't want to hear it."

Bruce shrugged. "I'm not gonna give you a hard time about it, but I am keeping this in mind for our next mission. When you give Steve a hard time, I'll know who to call."

"Great." Tony rolled his eyes, and gestured towards his lab. "Did you want to actually get some work done today, or not?"

"Let's go see it." Excited to see the device, Bruce moved in the direction Tony had indicated.

The two men were soon lost in their work.

The End