Pepper had no idea where he was. All night, through the entire party, she watched him move from female to female, flashing his grin and eliciting giggles. Each time she saw him, he had something different to eat or drink. Now that the crowd was dwindling down, one would assume he would be easier to find.
"Think, Pepper," she said to herself. The last party was Christmas and she found him, dead to the world, sprawled out in the lap of one of the young interns from Accounting, Kandi or Bambi or something like that. She also remembered the dry cleaning bill she had to pay because of the "accident" that happened when she woke him a little too suddenly.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a shoe sticking out from under a chair. Pepper went to retrieve it and saw its mate laying a few feet away. A little further down the hall, she saw a sock. "Follow the trail of discarded clothes," she said. "How could I forget?" Another sock, a jacket, and a bowtie led her to the game room where he was curled up with one of the new female employees. Pepper carefully shook his shoulder.
Brown eyes blinked hard, trying to bring Pepper's face into focus. When he spoke, it came out in a sleepy drawl.
"J.A.R.V.I.S.," she said to the ceiling, "tell Tony I found him." Pepper sat on the edge of the love seat and pulled the three-year-old into her lap.
"He came in here about an hour ago while we were playing pool," the young woman said. "He said he was sleepy. I didn't know where you or Mr. Stark were. Everyone else left eventually, but I stayed with him so he wouldn't be alone."
"Thank you," Pepper said.
"Oh, I didn't mind at all. He's quite the charmer."
"Comes by it honestly," Pepper said with a grin.
"Do you need me to stay, Mrs. Stark?"
"No. We'll be fine. You've been a big help. Thanks again."
"Your welcome. Good night, sweetie," she said, giving his cheek a pat.
"Night," the little boy replied, showing a wide smile.
When the temporary babysitter left, Pepper turned her attention to her son. "A.J., you had me and Daddy scared to death. We were looking all over for you."
"I sow-wy," the youngest Stark apologized.
Pepper saw the sad look in those puppy-dog eyes. It had the same effect on her heart as when it was the senior Anthony Stark. "Just don't do it again, okay? Mommy and Daddy don't like it when you go and we don't know where you are."
"Mm-kay." The toddler wrapped his arms around his mother's neck and kissed her cheek. "Love you, Mommy," he said drowsily.
"I love you, too, A.J." Pepper hugged him close and rubbed his little back. He laid his head on her shoulder and was soon fast asleep. She brushed the dark hair off his brow and breathed a sigh of relief. Words could not describe how scared she'd been when Tony told her he couldn't find their son. Her heart was finally about to calm down. Pepper didn't think she would be able to handle life if anything ever happened to him. She loved the child sleeping in her embrace more than life itself.
She stood and started walking, carrying A.J. to his bedroom. It was a good thing Pepper had experience putting sleeping Starks to bed after a party. She chuckled lightly and shook her head. It didn't look like this little ladies' man was going to let her stop anytime soon.
Author's Note: This was just a little something that got stuck in my head the other night and I can't write anything else until I get it out. I know the "twist" wasn't exactly Agatha Christie, but I thought it was cute. PLEASE let me know what you think. I live for reviews. :D