1963-07-05 - A Stark Homecoming
Summary: Pepper comes home from her two week long trip to a few headaches and a surprise.
Related: Tony Pepper Angst logs.
Theme Song: None
pepper tony 

Raven has made her escape some time ago, although the spare bedroom remains tousled, with her bandages left behind. Tony took the note she left for him, tossing it in the fire in frustration. He'd track her down in time, mysterious creature that she is.

When he hears the soft ding of the security system, at first, he wonders if he's being attacked again, summoning a gauntlet that flies onto his hand, repulsor at the ready. He's still a bit scratched up from the initial attack, a band-aid on his forehead from a nicked gunshot along his scalp. They hadn't been playing around, those killers. Whoever they were.

When he sees it's Pepper, he exclaims in relief, "Holy cats, you scared me!" he says, as you might exxpect of a man in pajamas with an armored gauntlet on his hand to say. Well, he'd have to say -something- in that get-up.


And, of course, it's a Pepper who couldn't harm a fly right now except for maybe by kicking said fly in the groin with her high heels, because she's dragging a suitcase and a garment bag behind her, looking the most mussed and exhausted he's ever seen her. And a bit annoyed. Well, maybe she could harm a fly. She stares over to him, about to fly into some lecture when she takes note of the other small details — the bandage on his forehead, the slightly scared look in his eyes, the gaunlet on his hand — and most of her anger falls away.

"…Tony… What in hell happened? Are you okay?" She drops her bags immediately, stepping double time over to him so she can gently grasp his chin and examine him in slightly better light. It seems he's dodged the lecture this time.


Tony smiles, "Well, somebody's been missing the New York papers, I see," he says. "Nothing serious, just a little minor attempted murder. I cleaned their clocks pretty good. The restaurant didn't come out so well, but I threw some money at it, so I'm sure it'll be fine," he says. Still, he does allow her to peck over him and baby him because…well, because.

"My date for the evening actually got the worst of it, but she turned out to be a shapeshifting mutant who could take a few bullets. Which is certainly convenient, if a bit…unexpected," he says. "She saved my life, though, so I can't be too mad about the deception. Well, I could be, I'm excellent at holding a grudge, but I'm choosing to take the high road. Let me get your bag," he says, reaching over to grasp her luggage, "That way, your hands are free to get me a Scotch>"


Date. There is just a moment of something across her face — Jealousy, hurt, a mix of both — but then Pepper packs it away beneath that still somehow glossy, pink lipped smile and a gentle brush of his cheek. The worry is still there, that is something she cannot put away, especially as he speaks about someone trying to take his life. Her fingertips trail up, through his dark hair and down the back of his neck before she pulls away without other contact. "No, I was busy entertaining scientists for you… they tend to be out of touch with the world. Reminds me of someone I know. But… I'm glad you, and your *date*…are both okay."

She then does hand her bags off, not going to complain about the little bit of help she gets, even as she bustles over to the bar cart in the corner and searches if there is any unmelted ice left. If not, he's getting just a few fingers of his preferred scotch. She does still remember that, at least. She also pulls down a second glass and pours a single finger for herself because she damn well needs it. "They all signed everything, by the way. Non disclosures, gave Stark Industries first refusal rights. Everything."


Tony nods, "I wasn't going to ask. Once I sent you, I knew that was done," he says to the last, taking the drink and taking a sip. "And yes, I had a date. It wasn't even a first date, although, given the gunplay, I'm guessing it's the last," he says.

"I can't pretend I'm a good man in many regards, Pepper. I'm a drunk. I'm thoughtless. I'm forgetful. I'm selfish, sometimes to the extreme. I have no religion and no deep moral code. I try to do what's right, but I slip. And I sleep with women, sometimes to excess, if there is such a thing. But I can promise you one thing. I'll never lie to you about it. I am scrupulously honest, even about how unscrupulous I can be," he says.


Those words keep her quiet for a few moments. She just returns with his scotch, handing it over smoothly. Somehow she still smells a touch of vanilla, though there is peppermint from some breath mint and cigarettes from the airplane on her too. But it's Pepper. Even after 12 hours of travel, she's mostly got herself together. She gives him a smile that is edging on bittersweet as she stands in front of him. "I… very well know that I will never be much more to you than the woman who keeps your business running smoothly, and that is the most value I have to you, Tony. Sometimes, I need to be reminded that is enough." She forces a bit more of a smile to him and clinks her glass against his before knocking back a full gulp of the scotch.

She needs it after that trip.

Another moment, watching his eyes, and she tears her pale gaze away so she can walk over to the couch and actually sit a few minutes. Sleep should happen, but not quiet yet. "Please tell me you at least saw a doctor."


Tony shakes his head softly, "That isn't at all what I said, which I think you know. If you were only the woman who keeps my business running, you wouldn't have a place to live in this building, nor would you be here in the night sipping Scotch with me. I understand you like things organized, that's why you're so good at your job. But I'm not. I don't fit into easy compartments. I have an excellent mind for the logic of circuits, the laws of physics, all the iron-clad and unbreakable things I've been taught. And my mind has taught me that I am capable of breaking those boundaries and those limits and those laws. Yes, sometimes it blows up in my face and I get a few bits of shrapnel," he says, knocking on the glowing device underneath his shirt. "But them's the breaks."

"And please, there's no doctor in this city more qualified to treat me than I am. Just because I don't have a license doesn't mean I don't know what I'm doing," he says.


"It's not what you *said*… but it's what I need to remember. Or I'll get attached. Dammit, Tony…I'm already attached. Even if it's just as your secretary." Pepper states with a little huff, finishing the rest of her scotch in her second gulp. Maybe she should have poured herself more generously, but after multiple plane trips, it seemed unwise. "You are the most brilliant man I know… and the least organized one. I suspect it goes hand in hand." The worry aches behind her eyes, even as she watches him tap his chest.

But it's NOTHING like the worry that comes when he insists he's not seen a doctor. Her eyes widen and she sets down her empty glass, standing again to go to his side, "Dammit, Tony…Someone tried to KILL you! What…what if they had poison on whatever they used? What if something embedded in you? I mean… beyond…" She gestures at his chest, still never quite able to directly discuss the damage to his heart. "You can't do it all alone! And I wasn't here…"


Tony raises an eyebrow, "Poisoned bullets? That would be quite a feat. But don't worry, they didn't do much more than scratch me. The armor took care of the rest," he says. "And I'm fairly sure I can do it all alone, although the idea of outsourcing probably isn't a bad one. Super-people are becoming more and more part of the world and they're starting to make a mess. Not to mention get unfairly targeted, like the mutants," he sighs.

He throws back the rest of his Scotch, going over to pour another for himself. "And there's nothing wrong with attachment. Being attached is being alive. My father was detached. All it did was make me hate him," he says. "Maybe he thought he was protecting me, since he was out doing spy work and might get killed. But that wasn't his call to make. You feel what you feel and if you get hurt, well, boo hoo. Don't we all," he says. Then blinks, "Sorry. That came out more harshly than I intended. Especially since I"m the one doing the boo hooing."


Even if it does come out harshly, and from the look on Pepper's face it certainly does, Pepper doesn't interrupt him. She just listens, tired blue eyes watching the cut of his handsome frame as he walks back to the bar to get more booze. Hell, even when he's finished speaking, she doesn't respond for a few heartbeats. While she might worry over his head, it's not worth the pushing tonight. She's simply tired. She knows letting him win these battles means she might be able to win more later on. In fact, the first thing she does say is a quiet. "Fine…I won't push it this time. But the next time I say you're seeing a damn doctor, you listen to me, alright?" Ammo for later is always good to have.

She then exhales slowly and stands, moving to set her glass aside on the bar to be cleaned in the morning. She brushes past him as she does but, but doesn't stop to touch right now. Despite his words, she fights that attachment. "It's…late, Tony. I should go to the apartment. Get sleep. One of us needs to be up in the morning." He gets a faint smile before she goes to gather her bags.


Tony nods softly, "Well, it's not going to be me," he says. "Pepper…thanks," he says. "For California and for giving a shit. It really does mean a lot. And I'm okay. Really," he says, even as he pours his third glass of Scotch.

"Maybe I could make a doctor…" he starts muttering to himself, starting to imagine a medical table with X-rays, blood samples, body scans…hmmmmmmmm…he grabs a notebook from under one of the couch cushions and sits down to start scribbling.


The woman is about to walk away, bags in her hand, garment bag over her arm, when he says that. Pepper sighs quietly, looking back to him and just watching him as he dives back down into the muttering, the notes, the scotch. Even the sight of that hurts, it entirely too late to be doing any of those things. She sighs to herself, draping the bag across the top of her suitcase and then stepping back over to his side. When she's close enough, she leans down to kiss his temple, the touch too tender for her NOT to be attsched, but she knows she can't fight it as much as she tries.

"…Try and get sleep Tony. Please. Sometime." She whispers against his hair. The warmth of her hand lingers a heartbeat longer, but then she turns to go again. Unless he actually stops her, she will leave this time. At least it will be to sleep in her own bed.


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