The remainder of that week Tony and Scarlett spent in Moscow, actually enjoying the hotel room that they'd been put up in for the duration of their recovery. When they finally left, though neither one was completely in fighting shape by that point, they fought over who would pick up the tab. Eventually, Scarlett had won the fight and only because she had successfully managed to convince Tony that he had left something in the room and would have to go back for it. By the time he'd returned to the hotel lobby Scarlett had paid the bill in full and discarded the receipt so he would never know the final price. She'd also provided a very generous tip for the attendant behind the desk so that he would disappear until they were out of the hotel and she was sure Tony wouldn't try to override her payment.
After the monumental amount of trouble Scarlett had put Tony through since they had first met the very least she could do was pay for the hotel room they had enjoyed together. Besides, how often was it that anyone treated Tony Stark to anything? Not that he needed treating very often considering he purchased whatever he desired and money seemed to be of very little object to him.
Once they had left the hotel they stopped for a bite to eat, though Scarlett hadn't fully regained her appetite. It would take her a long while before she could eat like normal again since she had gone without for so long. When he'd taken her out to dinner, what seemed like eons ago, had been a fluke and ever since that night her stomach had barely managed to keep food down.
The trip across the Atlantic on Tony's private jet was the most relaxing plane ride Scarlett had ever experienced before. She hadn't expected to fly private and had never done so in the past. The jet was the very definition of luxury with plush leather seats that reclined into beds if need be, a lounge area in the back where Tony had a stripper pole installed for what she assumed were parties he'd had on the way to other parties. The flight attendants were dressed inappropriately which suited the mood of the plane; Scarlett couldn't help but roll her eyes at her ridiculous boyfriend. But all Tony could say to defend his decisions was to offer to get her a similar costume if she wanted to outshine them. She was very proud he hadn't made a joke about working the pole.
It still felt alien, getting used to being in a relationship with Tony Stark. He was just lucky that she wasn't the jealous type or easily offended by sexist remarks. Halfway through the flight Scarlett felt sick to her stomach and though the trip was the smoothest she had ever been on, her equilibrium hadn't yet properly recovered from her bout of pneumonia. At some point Jarvis, who had been installed on the airplane along with all of Tony's other modes of transport, reported that she had a low grade fever but nothing to worry about.
Tony kept his thoughts on that matter to himself but when she had finished ejecting her lunch from her stomach and came back still looking green at the gills, he made her lay down in one of the recliners next to him; there was ample room for the both of them to lay comfortably. Before she had realized it Scarlett had fallen asleep on the plane. Tony, on the other hand, wasn't able to find the same kind of rest. Ever since he'd woken up and found her on the couch and not in his bed something had changed in the back of his mind. The last few weeks had been spent doing far too much sleeping for his tastes. Now when he closed his eyes he saw things that haunted him; he was forever a changed man.
Upon touching down at JFK airport in New York, Tony woke Scarlett up. She was reluctant to arise since she had at last slept so comfortably. Though she wouldn't have told him she was sure he could've carried her out of the plane and into the car and she never would've been the wiser. The illness in her stomach had faded while she'd had her time to rest and while she was sure she hadn't yet seen the end of it, it was progress and that was all she could ask for. Not a single nightmare had plagued her for the remainder of their flight and she wasn't sure if that could be attributed to exhaustion or if she was just simply beginning the healing process. Either way Scarlett felt grateful for sleep that didn't skew her grip on reality.
When they were cleared to get off the plane, Scarlett was surprised to see that Pepper and Happy were both waiting for them on the ground. Pepper looked as exhausted as they both felt but Happy seemed chipper and alert. They both hugged their boss and expressed their relief that he had made it back to them in one piece. Happy seemed grateful to see that Scarlett was still around as well and while Pepper seemed reluctant at first eventually she gave Scarlett a hug that felt somewhat genuine.
"Look, one big happy family now." Tony swatted Scarlett on her backside before walking off with Happy, who had obtained his boss' luggage, toward the black car that waited for them on the tarmac.
"He paid for this landing space here at JFK. It's unorthodox but being that he is Tony Stark he's very hard to say no too." Pepper broke the awkward silence between them. "You know that better than most people."
"It's not saying no that I have a problem with, trust me." Scarlett watched Tony get into the car, talking excitedly to Happy. The Manhattan skyline stood towering nearby, magnificent. She'd been to New York on many occasions but never a peaceful one like she was now. This was going to be home, or at least one of their homes. It wasn't going to be an easy adjustment but she'd sure as hell try to make it.
"I didn't know if you actually loved him or not." Pepper started as Scarlett walked toward the car. This made her stop and consider what that meant. But what was she going to say in response to that? That Pepper seemed to assume many things about Scarlet that weren't backed up by proof? Every time they talked she seemed to have a new opinion of her. Pepper was turning out to be a very finicky woman.
"Well, I do. Not that it's any of your business how I feel." Scarlett could feel the grudge Pepper was still holding against her after what she'd pulled after first meeting Tony. It seemed like a lifetime ago when Scarlett had used the sexual tension between them as a tool to twist things to her benefit. Even when she'd done it, it hadn't been as simple as that. Nothing between Tony and Scarlett had been simple, not even for a flicker of a moment.
"Thank you for not taking off again." Pepper followed, though she seemed to taste her words before she said them. Getting along with Scarlett wasn't going to be the easiest thing she ever did, but the mysterious woman was right. There was nothing Pepper could do about it and it really was none of her business. If Scarlett made Tony happy then Pepper would have to deal with it. Neither woman was going to go out of their way to step on the other's toes if they could help it but that didn't mean they had to like each other.
"I didn't do it for you." Scarlett threw Pepper a sideways glance and stood outside of the car door. "I did it for him. I left for him last time too, you know."
"I know." Pepper nodded. The two stared at each other for a long moment, feeling the other out and trying to discover hidden motives if there were any. They discovered that neither one had hidden motives, at least not for now. Maybe they would be able to deal with each other after all. Friendship wouldn't be a requirement for their relationship, simply tolerance and respect. Scarlett wasn't sure how easily she'd get any respect out of Pepper but as long as she wasn't harping on her constantly about her character flaws then they would be just fine.
"Ladies? What's going on? Mud wrestling? Girl fight? Can I watch?" Tony rolled down the window to the backseat of the car, trying to break the palpable nervous tension. "Please?" He pouted with his puppy dog eyes, but neither woman fell prey to them. Tony Stark was cute, but he wasn't that cute.
"In your dreams, Stark." Scarlett rolled her eyes but smiled at Pepper. The woman smiled back and then nodded. A silent agreement had been made.
"Oh, you have no idea." Tony opened the door again and grabbed Scarlett's hand, tugging her onto the backseat next to him. It was hard to deny him when he was acting so adorably. Their relationship was almost toxic, but the kind of toxic that Scarlett knew she shouldn't love as much as she did. Scarlett would've made a terrible addict. She didn't see why she should stop doing what was obviously bad for her when it made her so happy. Especially when Tony smiled at her the way that he was. "Everything alright between you two? Am I going to have to have the talk with one of you?"
"I think we'll be just fine." Scarlett glanced toward his assistant as she got into the passenger's seat. Tony slipped his arm around Scarlett lazily and leaned back against the plus tan leather.
"Oh yes, I think we'll adjust to each other. Manhattan's much different than Malibu, Tony. There's much more change than you think." Pepper chimed in from the front seat of the car. Happy slipped the transmission into gear and drove them off of the tarmac, led by men on the runway that had a safe passage laid out for them that would take them back onto the Belt Parkway.
"It's better." Tony squeezed Scarlett's shoulder reassuringly but then loosened up when he remembered that only a few inches south was the last of her gunshot wound. "I grew up here, I know these streets. It's like coming home."
"I don't know if I'd use the word better…" Pepper clicked her tongue disapprovingly. "I'm going to miss Malibu very much."
"I didn't sell that place, you know. It's still there and we'll still go there… but work is here for now and this place I built? It makes Malibu look like a shack." Tony smirked, his eyes playful.
"Don't get any ideas Tony, there's a ton of work to be done. Do you have any idea how much builds up when you're gone? I'm not CEO of your company anymore, remember? You keep shoving things onto my plate that I'm not prepared to handle. I'm an assistant, not a business owner." Pepper scolded. Scarlett rolled her eyes, but not as an insult. It was Tony's company, not Pepper's and she wondered if the woman realized that. "Not to mention the amount of press coverage I've had to deal with! You appear at a charity function with some mystery bombshell and the whole thing goes to pot?"
"Whoa, that was old news! Who's bothering you about that still? Is it that Vanity Fair lady again? Christine whatever her name is? She's probably just jealous of Scarlett." Tony began but Pepper spoke over him.
"That was a big deal Tony and you never addressed it! All you did was call up the media and make it worse by making dirty rumors spread around about you and her! Have you even seen the tabloids lately? The gossip columns are out of control."
"Have you been collecting them? I want to see. This could be fun." Tony made a bemused face, looking down at Scarlett who had decided only to half listen to what had been said. Funny, she'd forgotten about the nasty things Tony had said about her in a public forum and now that she'd recall them it didn't seem as humorous as Tony was making it out to be.
"Fun? You think this was fun? After all that you disappeared out of the blue and I was left to answer questions about what you were up to when I had no idea what you were up to."
"Calm down, Potts." Tony widened his eyes when she wagged her finger at him and leaned back in his seat like she'd smacked him.
"Calm down? Happy do you hear him? He scares me half to death by traveling to the Middle East and then tells me to calm down!" Pepper's face was turning as red as her hair. "Do you ever think outside of the moment and how it will affect others?"
"You know I don't. Are you getting senile, Pepper? You've known me longer than almost anyone else." Tony was nonplussed by her anger but he could see that Scarlett seemed weary of his assistant's shrill voice.
"You could tone it down a little." Happy began cautiously. "I mean it wasn't all bad. You got to sleep in a bit. Besides they just got off a plane, you can berate him later."
"Yeah that's right!" Tony started up in excitement, snapping both his fingers and then pointing down at Scarlett like he'd gotten a marvelous idea. "We're practically just getting out of the hospital! You shouldn't bombard us with this high stress nonsense! I'm still sore and Scarlett's got this cough that will not go away no matter how many cough drops I throw at her." Scarlett shook her head but couldn't help but smile as she listened to Tony trying to weasel his way out of trouble with his assistant. This was the way things would be from now on. It was definitely going to take some adjusting considering the way she used to live was the polar opposite.
"I wasn't bombarding her, I was bombarding you and you look just fine. A little soreness never killed anyone."
"I was tortured, that kills people! And she's been having these fevers still on and off, which by the way, Scarlett, I'm not so sure those are related to the pneumonia you had." Tony woke her out of her reverie and she batted her eyelashes to put his face back into focus. She'd been admiring the New York skyline as they got ever closer on the ride home. Would this place Tony built be visible on the ride there? Would she be able to pick it out amongst all the other high rise buildings in Manhattan? Was it even a high rise building or had Tony purchased space in an existing building? These were all questions she probably should've considered before they'd gotten to Manhattan.
Pepper looked from Scarlett to Tony then back to Scarlett and slumped her shoulders in defeat, turning back to face the road in her chair while she considered Tony's words. "Fine." She sighed heavily and while she still sounded annoyed there was a small smile on her tight lips. "Do you have any idea how long I've been holding all that in?" Happy went to open his mouth to say something but Pepper shot him a look and he closed it.
"My guess is that you've been practicing that speech on Happy for the last few weeks." Tony yawned then turned his attention away from his assistant who had finally calmed down. The tension in the car lessened and allowed them all to relax a little, everyone except for Scarlett that was. She was nervous as they drove through the busy city presumably closer to what would be her new place of residence. "Are you okay?"
"Do I not look okay?" Scarlett straightened her back and turned her attention away from the streets of Manhattan again. She loved this city even if it made her nervous. Everything from the people to the architecture and the lengthy history of the place, and driving through it, while she was still on edge, made her fall in love with it all over again.
"You just seem off."
"Is it because I didn't laugh at a joke? Not all your jokes are funny, Tony." Scarlett heard Pepper and Happy stifle laughter in the front of the car but didn't turn her attention away from the handsome man looking down at her, concern sparkling in his brown eyes.
"No, you seem kind of lost actually." Tony whispered, shooting a glance at his employees before turning back to his girlfriend. "And all my jokes are funny, thank you. You're girlfriend obligated to laugh at them."
"I'm okay, really." Much to her surprise Tony placed his hand to her forehead to try and feel for her temperature. Wide eyed, she waited for him to pull away and he cursed under his breath.
"I still can't tell, damnit." With a pout of his lip he pulled his hand away from her forehead. Scarlett picked up his hand and kissed the back of it reassuringly.
"I'm fine, Tony. Still a little groggy from the nap on the way home but otherwise I'm just fine. I'm not pleased that I have to laugh at all your jokes, but I'm okay." Scarlett wasn't fine but she wasn't feeling particularly bad either. Nervous didn't mean troubled in her book. Nerves were an important part of living and as long as she didn't turn running out the door the moment she walked into the building then it was fine for her to have a bundle of them knotting up in her stomach. Considering the many ways she'd been made uncomfortable over weeks past, this was a breeze.
"I'm still pretty worried about these fevers. It's just not normal." He whispered, well aware that Pepper and Happy were listening to every word of their shared conversation even if it was in hushed tones. "I'm going to have to invest in some cars with privacy windows in them so that you know, we can have some privacy."
"You don't want them to know you're kind of cute, I think." Poking his side gently, Tony snatched her finger and kissed the back of her hand and over her wrist.
"It is pretty disgusting how cute I can be. I was trying to spare them."
"I promise that when I've managed the whole insurance nonsense you Americans have then I'll go see a doctor about the cough if it persists. And I like when you're nauseatingly cute. It's endearing and makes up for all the boorish jokes."
"And the fevers."
"And the fevers. It's probably important I become a citizen or something first, I don't know. I haven't bothered with legalities in years." Scarlett smirked. At this point Pepper chimed in and turned in her seat.
"I've already thought of that and got the ball rolling for you."
"Yes, if you're going to be sticking around then you're going to have to do your best to avoid the negatives in the press. I figured citizenship was a good start and SHIELD is more than willing to help with that. For some reason they want you to look good too." Pepper spoke proudly.
"She's good, can I borrow her sometimes?" Scarlett looked up to Tony pleadingly but she could see Pepper smile out of the corner of her eye. Maybe they'd get along better than she thought. It wasn't that she didn't like Pepper, it was that they butted heads and she didn't like people who made assumptions.
"She's going to help you anyway even if you don't ask. Pepper's a mother hen, she can't stop herself."
"That's not true." The red head objected immediately, her brow furrowed, turning in her seat to face them.
"It is." Happy and Tony spoke in unison. Unable to argue with them Pepper huffed and puffed for a second then instead chose to stare out the window.
"Speaking of SHIELD," Happy began, "they sent you quiet the housewarming gift while you were away. Haven't touched it of course but the delivery boy had to have me help him inside with it."
"We'll throw it away probably. SHIELD has caused me more grief in the last month than I care to think about. Let them kiss our asses for a little while." Tony glanced down at Scarlett who was in her own world again. He could feel the nerves radiating off of her the closer they got to their location. "Take a look outside, you can see the place from here." Tony leaned over her so he could get closer to her window, nodding toward the buildings they slowly passed in Manhattan traffic. Scarlett peered out the window and saw a high rise, taller than the others around it and modern in structure. It was beautifully designed and built. At the top was the name "Stark" hanging in giant letters. Rolling her eyes, Scarlett swatted at him but couldn't help but smile.
It was just like Tony to build a giant monument to himself in the center of a city full of monuments.
She really did love Tony as foreign a concept as it still seemed. Loving anything had always seemed strange. Honestly, she loved scotch and she loved a good Cuban cigar with a glass of scotch. Scarlett loved walking barefoot in the sand, she loved adventure, danger, Dior couture. There were many things she loved but people had never been a real occurrence. As a child obligation had made her love her parents but even in her youth that had faded and turned into distaste and eventually loathing. There had been a boyfriend once, a week long summer fling that she had thought was love.
With Scott she had thought that love meant settling for something and compromising for someone else's feelings. She had fought loving Scott every second of their relationship and had only been party to it because she hadn't known better. Not until she met Tony had she realized what love actually was. It was a feeling beyond her control, the urge to want to take care of someone other than herself not out of necessity but out of desire.
How many times had she explained this line of thinking in her mind and yet still she could not apply logic to it? It was hard to admit to herself that she was in love and saying it out loud was even harder. Love didn't make sense. She couldn't sit and tell people why or how she fell in it just that she was there and she never wanted to leave it. Someone had once told her that love was a game for children, and she was almost sure it was Natasha Romanoff, but she wondered if Natasha had ever truly loved.
It wasn't a game and it certainly wasn't for children. Children could love blindly without knowing the meaning of the word. To be who she was and to be in love with Tony and to give into those feelings took trust, confidence, and nerves of steel which Scarlett commended herself for having.
But even now as she stared up at the immense tower as Happy stopped in traffic across the street from it, the town car surrounded by yellow cabs, Scarlett couldn't help but think about how odd it was to be going somewhere that had a place all of her own.
Yes, she'd had safe houses and apartments that Scott had often referred to as "theirs" but never anything quite to this extent. This place was permanent. Very permanent. When it came down to it, for the first time in twenty years, ever since Scarlett had run away from her home and gone to Cambridge to get her degree after getting early acceptance to the university, she had done something for her. She wasn't sure when it had come to that, but her whole life had been about her job, the next mission. It had gotten so bad that, though Scarlett lived a life many would never get to experience, she didn't have the simple things that others so often took for granted. Scarlett had no family, she had no friends save for Natasha and it wasn't like that was a normal friendship of any kind. Even this little bit of normalcy was overwhelming. Thankfully she was sure the rest of her life would compensate for any oddities she may have missed.
"Do you like it?" Tony's lips brushed against the rim of her ear, the faintest hint of his whiskers tickling her flesh. After shaking off the shiver they caused she turned to look at him and contemplated her words carefully, though she already knew her answer.
"It's a little pompous but, that being said, I love it." Tony chuckled at her response but then the car came to a stop on the corner and he sat alert. Happy got out of the car and opened the door first for Pepper and then for Scarlett and Tony. Arm in arm Scarlett walked with him inside the big glass doors of the building and was surprised to see that just inside was the forefront of Stark Industries. They would be living in a building that was not only designed for their personal use but also for his professional use.
"The first few floors are all offices and things related to my company. Then there's the basement levels that are mostly my garage and labs for heavy duty experiments that needed proper grounding and six inch concrete walls. Then there are the laboratories we'll be working in on the same floor, you know so I can bother you if I get bored or poke around your stuff." Tony smirked, leading her through the lobby and toward the elevators at the back of it.
"Oh great, so we're never going to get anything done because you'll be too busy trying to get in my pants." Scarlett teased, watching as Tony pressed the elevator button. He was just as curious of this place as she was. He'd seen the pictures and had designed most of it himself. Hell, he'd even approved the blueprints personally after the architect had finished them so he knew exactly where everything would be, even design wise. But still, seeing it on paper and seeing it in person were two completely different things. The technology employed in this new home of his was far beyond anything that he'd previously used.
"No, that's not true at all. I'm not going to try anything."
"Don't lie to me."
"Let me finish before you assume I'm lying."
"Because you're so good at not interrupting other people."
"Shush." Tony laughed, sitting just inside the elevator and waiting for Pepper to follow them. Happy would be along any minute now, but he would meet them upstairs after he'd parked the car in the garage and had retrieved their luggage. "I just meant that I will not only try, I will also succeed."
"That makes much more sense." Scarlett rested her head against his shoulder. Pepper watched them from the corner of her eye but turned away her gaze when she realized Scarlett had noticed her. It was still foreign for her to see her boss in a relationship as intense as this one. Even when she'd dated him, for however brief a period as it was, it had never been the way that it was with Scarlett and for that she was glad. She just couldn't see herself as committed to the romantic aspect of it after all the years as friends and coworkers of sorts.
"On top of that is the play area, as I like to call it. Seriously, we're going to throw the best parties you have no idea. I have this bar against the back wall and it is completely stocked with goodies. There's a hot tub, a pool out on the balcony overlooking the New York skyline. You couldn't ask for a better backdrop. Plenty of room for party guests and still not even attached to the part that I'm calling home. That's the rest of the damn thing and you will see it… in just a second here." Tony stepped behind her and placed his hands over her eyes, obviously intent on surprising her.
The elevator door opened and Tony guided her carefully out of it. She could hear her heels clicking against something, she guessed hard wood since it didn't sound much like stone. Slowly he led her across the floor until at long last he stopped. When he removed his hands from her eyes she kept them closed.
"Open them." Tony was eager for her to see what he'd planned for them. On the left side of the room was a lofty living room, overlooking Manhattan. The windows would darken if he so desired but for now they showed the lay of the land near them. It was a view that couldn't be beat in any city in the world. The floor of the living room was lower than the rest, two steps down with a wide television above a stone fireplace. Carpet lay beneath the couches which were covered in colorful but muted pillows. Behind the living room were a series of desks and office equipment, presumably for moments where work had to be brought home.
Black surfaces looked out of place, but Scarlett would soon discover with an absent touch of her hand that they were high tech computer screens, able to display whatever was laid upon them either across the black surface itself or project it into the air with a hologram much like the Jarvis layout had done in Malibu but with far more ease. Across the room was a bar and a small but decadent kitchen in case they ever felt the need to cook. Scarlett was well aware that somewhere hidden in the building there would be another kitchen where Tony had someone paid to do the cooking for him and usually had the food delivered via Jarvis.
Outside that was a beautiful deck, decorated to the nines with every outdoor luxury she could imagine. Scarlett's head spun at how gorgeous the house was and how far removed it was from the one in Malibu. The home in Malibu had been the quintessential bachelor pad, but now looking around, Scarlett could see things that she had mentioned liking or noticed the absence of things she had particularly disliked from his home. On the walls in the living room were paintings from a French painter of Paris and her heart nearly stopped when she saw them.
Tony had designed his home as a home for them both and not just for himself and Scarlett couldn't have been more moved by the gesture. Her heart was racing and she had to cover her mouth to cough when her breath caught in her throat. This was more than she had ever expected to see. The nerved she had couldn't have prepared her for what she'd found. When she turned to look at Tony he was standing proudly. If she hadn't come home with him he didn't know what he would've done.
A month ago he'd woken up in a hotel in Egypt and found he was handcuffed to the bed and the woman he loved was running from him.
The plans for his home had haunted him because he knew there was a distinct chance that one way or another she wouldn't be coming home with him to enjoy it. Now there she was standing in the middle of it and he could tell just by looking at her how much it meant for him to have attempted to include her. It was a very small inclusion of her, of course, since it wasn't like they had the time or the opportunity to sit and talk about what they would want in a home together or even if she wanted to move in with him, but the fact that he had taken her into consideration at all had meant the world to her.
Scarlett clearly realized how difficult it was for Tony to think of anyone but himself and not because he meant to be selfish, but simply that his whole life had been about indulgence. When it came down to it, Tony barely knew how to be in a relationship even as simple as a friendship nonetheless a romantic endeavor. Even the smallest thing, even remembering that she liked a certain color or disliked a certain pillow, made Scarlett's heart twinge with emotion. Scarlett understood him better than any girlfriend in the past ever had.
"I started planning this even before I understood what was happening between us." Tony walked over to the black countertops and waved his hand over them. Floor plans were illuminated in the air in front of her. Scarlett had experienced the wonders of Tony's computer system before but it still took her breath away when she witnessed it.
"Beautiful," she muttered, taking a step toward it and touching the hologram. It spun at as her fingers graced the blue lines. "You gave me my authorization back." Scarlett turned to Tony with a smile, sounding touched. He'd removed it after she had broken into his computer system after their first night together and she didn't blame him for it.
"This place is as much yours as it is mine."
"Tony," Scarlett tilted her head to the side and closed her eyes. She wasn't upset with him, quite the opposite. Overcome with emotion, Scarlett couldn't seem to find the proper words to express her gratitude.
"I couldn't help it. I didn't understand what I was doing until I started chasing you from London and into Africa. I knew I was building a place for us to live. I know it's stupid and kinda selfish… likely a fool's errand since things were so hectic then but I needed to do this. Part of me coped with you running by planning on having you with me. I want you to know that no matter what happens, this place? This place is ours. No one can touch us here." Tony walked closer to her and placed his hands on her shoulders, letting them gently brush down her arms, careful of the gauze still wrapped around her left one since he'd earlier forgotten it. "This place will always be waiting for you."
Scarlett felt her eyes burn hot with emotion but didn't shed a tear. It was the single nicest and most romantic thing anyone had ever done for her before in her life. But how was she supposed to tell him that? When she turned her gaze back to his brown eyes she could tell that he already knew, because it meant the same thing to him. Scarlett slipped her arms around him and met his lips, engulfing them with her own. She hoped that her kiss said the words she couldn't seem to find.
Tony placed his hands on her hips and held her close, returning the affection. There was something different about this kiss. It was like she was trying to thank him for what he had done but wasn't sure how. Tony wasn't sure anyone had offered her something like this before; it was an awfully grandiose gift after all. But Tony had never had anyone understand him like Scarlett before either. They were both giving each other things that they didn't think existed.
"I know that you were hesitant to live with me." Tony began once their lips parted, though he found time to steal another kiss before he continued. "You probably still are. And though this place is for us both I respect that. We haven't had an easy run."
"We haven't." Scarlett searched his face, wondering what he was thinking. Sometimes Tony was easy to read and wore his heart on his sleeve and other times, such as right now, she had no idea what he was thinking. "It's not that I don't want that. I love this place, it's beautiful, but we have been running around like crazy since the moment we met. I want to do this right, I don't want to screw things up because we moved too fast."
"I get it, I do. And I tend to dive right in when it's something I want." Tony nodded his head. "That's why a few floors down, just above our labs there's a few floors of lofts that can be rented out for guests and one of them is bigger than the rest and shares a floor with the gym. That's yours. You live there. It's empty now because it's not my place to decorate it for you. But until you're ready to live with me, that's for you. I don't want you to live far but I want to be able to pick you up for a date at your front door and try to weasel my way into your bed." His lips curled into a playful smirk and Scarlett couldn't help but laugh.
Digging in his pocket he pulled out a keychain with two keys on it. One of them was labeled "home" the other "your place". Taking the keychain, Scarlett let it dangle around her index finger before shaking her head in awe.
"You should help me decorate. You're surprisingly good at this." Scarlett glanced around the rest of the house. "And it wouldn't be mine without you in it. Though I look forward to you trying to weasel your way past my front door."
"I'd be honored to help. But one thing at a time. Apparently I have some affairs to get in order. I can feel Pepper glaring at me from the other side of the wall. It's a super power she developed. I swear that I could feel it even in Afghanistan." Tony acknowledged the rest of the room. "What do you think? Are you happy?"
"Happy?" Scarlett wondered if this was the word she'd use. It wasn't like her to really use it because happiness along with love seemed so trivial and pathetic. But now it didn't seem pathetic at all. Her heart was still racing no matter what she tried to say or how she spun it in the back of her mind. "Yeah, Tony, I'm happy. I think I'm happier than I've ever been."
"Good." Tony started to walk away but turned to walk backwards so he could look at her while he did. "I won't be gone long. She gets tired of me when I'm being an ass."
"Which is always." Scarlett added in. Tony winked and pointed at her to let her know she was correct about that.
"Feel free to explore the place. We have to christen it you know. Every flat surface, I think it's in the building code somewhere that we have to." Scarlett laughed but didn't disagree with him either. It was endearing to hear him back to normal.
"Hey Tony?" Before he walked out the door and into the hallway she stopped him, her voice hesitant.
"What?" He stopped, both hands on the door frame but with a smile on his face.
"Are you happy?" Scarlett asked, taking a step forward. Tony leaned against the doorway and watched her before nodding his head.
"Yeah, I am." His face wrinkled up as he smiled, and Scarlett was again reminded that he had the most childish smile she'd ever seen before in her life. It was the kind of smile kids were supposed to have on Christmas when they got exactly what they asked for. Without another word, Tony walked out of the room leaving Scarlett alone inside the new beautiful house. It would take her awhile to adjust that this place beyond her wildest dreams was somewhere she would be spending a good majority of her time, but she knew she could adjust. For awhile she'd worried that Tony lived a life too luxurious for her and she would have a hard time coping with it without feeling like a snob. But now in the extravagant home set before her, Scarlett didn't feel out of place at all. Something stirred inside of her stomach and she placed her hands against it. It wasn't the nausea she felt earlier but something much different.
"Miss Damien?" A familiar voice overhead echoed and Scarlett's face broke out into an infectious smile.
"Jarvis! How I've missed you." She exclaimed, looking all around her. It was still kind of confusing when talking to Jarvis. He wasn't up above her, he wasn't in any particular place, he technically was the house. Eventually it wouldn't be so weird for her and she'd speak to him with ease the way that Tony did.
"I have missed you as well." The charming computer responded. "Mr. Stark and I weren't certain you would ever get to enjoy this place. It is a delight to see that you are well though I do detect increased heart rate. Should I get you some water? You should at the very least sit down."
"I'm just so happy to hear you, Jarvis." Scarlett assured the computer that didn't respond to her as if to not understand. "You were worried about me, I think."
"I was. Mr. Stark was as well."
"Thank you for that, Jarvis."
"There are no thanks necessary, Miss Damien."
"Call me Scarlett." She walked back to the hologram of the high rise she was currently inside and spun it around before letting it collapse onto the black surface. The computer again didn't respond. Scarlett walked over to the doorway that led out onto the balcony and stared again at the beautiful city, one that she thought she might never visit again. How close had she come to death and how many times in the last month had it happened? New York City had never looked so beautiful.
"Scarlett?" Jarvis broke the silence and she felt somehow like the computer system was overcome with emotion.
Those words struck Scarlett harder than she thought they could. Home.
Scarlett was home.