I've been working on a single, very long fanfic for ages and whilst it is not yet over I really needed to write something else. ('Something else' excluding the long and arduous history essay I am currently hitting my head against.)
So, here this is, here is this! I've recently been getting very much into Iron Man 1 & 2 and the Avengers which has resulted in many a fanfic idea, naturally. I am fascinated by the character of Tony Stark and I think Pepper Potts is absolutely awesome. It's refreshing having a female character who doesn't just fall over whenever a plot point occurs.
I'm looking forward to Iron Man 3 so much I am liable to say 'I am really looking forward to Iron Man 3' at the slightest provocation.
Example: My sister and I were watching old How I Met Your Mother episodes the other day and I just randomly announced my eagerness for Iron Man 3.
So, I hope you enjoy this fanfic! I've taken some freedoms with (a.k.a made a tonne of stuff up about) technology. Computers spontaneously stop working when I enter the room, so if some stuff in this fanfic is wrong…it's a miracle the computer I wrote it on worked, so, yeah…that's proven something…somehow…
::Find Tony Stark::
JARVIS was running badly.
Now this would be cause for alarm, or at least severe annoyance, at the best of times, but Tony Stark had just updated JARVIS's program so he wasn't just alarmed/severely annoyed, he was confused.
Tony Stark was confused.
Fixing JARVIS had gone to the top of his very long list of priorities, because if it was one thing Tony hated, it was getting held captive by terrorists in Afghanistan for three months of the year 2008.
But if there was a second thing Tony hated, it was being confused.
Yeah, that sounded about right.
Tony had set the update running that morning and then gone out to spend the day with Pepper. Pepper, his incredibly awesome girlfriend, was probably the only person in the world who could've distracted him so thoroughly from his technology; he didn't even check his phone (though who would he want to call when he was with Pepper?)
Hence it was well into the afternoon, long since the update had finished, that Tony checked in with JARVIS to see how he was running.
And he was running badly, of course, so Tony went straight to his workshop/office/trophy room to find out what was wrong.
"Good afternoon sir," JARVIS said in what Tony could've sworn was a feeble tone despite him never having coded anything of the sort.
"What's wrong with you?" He demanded, taking off his jacket and going straight to his desk.
Tony tossed his jacket over the back of his chair before throwing himself down into it.
"CODEPP_xERRORfile_FTS(527-)? I've got about 19 of these things," Tony said, bringing up his phone's inbox on the middle computer screen and staring at the 19 text messages from JARVIS.
"Apologies, sir," JARVIS said, "I've been having some trouble with this updated program. I'm afraid it auto-installed over my old programming and the new coding isn't compatible with some scans that were underway."
"What scans? I wasn't doing any scans," Tony said and scooted his chair angrily forward (yes, it is possible to scoot a chair angrily.)
"They weren't your scans, sir," JARVIS said in a mournful tone that would've been more suitable at a particularly depressing funeral.
"Whose were they then? Bring them up," Tony waved his arm to indicate the computer screen.
He wasn't just annoyed because JARVIS was malfunctioning and he didn't know why; if he had to finish the great day he'd had with Pepper recoding the Artificial Intelligence program he was going to need to blow up at least three things to work off his anger.
The computer screen in front of him had completely failed to bring up the desired file.
Tony waited, tapping one finger rapidly on his desk with irritation.
It took seconds for the file to come up.
He was Tony Stark, he didn't have seconds.
Finally, several eons later, a register of the current scans had come up. All of Tony's scans had been discontinued before the update but under the 'Commands' file were, mysteriously, a set of scans he had never ordered.
Tony drew his hand across the desk and the cursor on the screen mirrored the movement.
The file name flashed blue as he clicked on it, then his cursor turned into a small hourglass
Reminding himself that using his Ironman suit to shoot his computer would be highly irresponsible (not that this was much of a disincentive) Tony waited for a list of commands to appear.
The list appeared slowly; slowly enough for Tony to realize that whilst numbered and dated differently, each file had the exact same command.
'Find Tony Stark.'
Tony sat up a little straighter, frowning slightly.
There were five hundred and twenty seven of them.
The order 'Find Tony Stark' again and again and again, five hundred and twenty seven times.
What were these from? Who had made them?
Tony didn't need finding. He was right here.
Tony read the dates.
They were all from 2008.
Tony sat back in his chair, head tilted to the side as he thought he should've guessed.
Because when had he ever needed finding more, then in 2008?
"Who ordered these?" Tony asked.
He was looking at the start of the commands where each had a number, from one to five hundred and twenty seven. In front of the numbers were the same letters.
He had a feeling he knew whose name those letters stood for.
"That would be…Miss Potts, sir," JARVIS said after a long moment of reading the code and converting it into an audio file.
Tony looked at the files, not really seeing them.
He'd known Pepper had taken part in the search for him, he'd seen the files she given the FBI, the questions she'd answered. He'd thanked her and she'd smiled and they'd both moved on.
But there was a big difference imagining Pepper, who then had just been his secretary, being a small contributor to the huge military search for him and imagining Pepper alone in his empty house, ordering JARVIS five hundred and twenty seven times to find him, to find Tony Stark.
He was home now. He'd been home for years and Pepper was happy…but Tony still felt a little sad for that past Pepper.
Still felt guilty.
Still felt uncomfortably touched by her persistence.
"Why are these scans still going? You found me…or if you didn't you're coded worse than I thought," Tony asked JARVIS, spinning his chair around once, full circle.
"Miss Potts never defined when the scans should be stopped and she didn't discontinue them when you were found, sir. The scans have been continuous for years as you keeping moving, sir."
That explained why JARVIS was running badly; five hundred and twenty seven constant searches for Tony Stark running on outdated coding.
That was easily fixed. Indeed, Tony could probably order JARVIS to alter the coding; JARVIS could've done it all this time, if only he'd been told to.
What was less easily healed was the knowledge that Pepper had been in his empty Malibu mansion for months and months, all on her own.
Pepper didn't have the technology or knowledge to give JARVIS orders remotely; she would've had to have been in the mansion to do so. And these commands came more than once a day, every day, for the entire time Tony had been gone.
Tony knew Pepper; she was as likely to ask for company when he was missing as he would be should she disappeared.
That was to say, not at all.
He couldn't help feeling like he'd abandoned her, even though it was against his will that he'd been taken.
But that was all years ago. Pepper was fine now, she was happy.
And so was he.
"JARVIS?" Tony said, resting his head on his jacket folded over the back of his chair and looking up at the ceiling.
"Yes sir?" JARVIS said with the same aggrieved tone he had assumed ever since the data update.
"Mark the searches as complete and save the file history onto your current hard drive."
"May I ask what the point of that is, sir?" JARVIS asked, sounding as though he thought the request was unreasonable and was politely trying to get Tony to realize.
"I'm back and we're both okay," Tony said, planting his feet onto the ground and springing to his feet. "But I don't want to forget what happened. It made me who I am."
And I don't want to forget what Pepper did, even though it's over.
But that was too private to say. Even to JARVIS. Even though he didn't really understand why.
Tony would make all of this make sense in his head before saying or doing anything further about it, so as not to, in ignorance, put a foot wrong.
"Mark all of those files as private and store them on my personal drive," he said as he picked up his jacket.
"And if Miss Potts inquires about the scans?"
Tony pulled his jacket onto his shoulders, looking over the white glow from his chest and to the floor.
"Sir?" JARVIS prompted after a moment.
"Tell her to ask me," Tony said quietly.
He straightened, looked once around the room and turned on his heel. As he walked towards the door Tony pulled his phone from his pocket and tapped on the first option under speed dial.
"Hey Pepper, you busy?"
"I'm at home…you said you had stuff to do tonight."
"It's nothing that can't wait."
"But you said something about JARVIS sending you, what were your words exactly? 'Like, a hundred texts'?"
"Heh, yeah. Nothing that can't wait. So, you busy?"
"You were doing Stark Industry stuff, weren't you?"
"It was really important, wasn't it?"
"If I come over to your place for a nightcap and you don't get your work done the Industry will fall into complete disarray and the board will be furious with me, won't they?"
"…I'm coming over."