1964-08-01 - Once More With Feeling
Summary: Tony and Pepper come together to make questionable decisions.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
tony pepper 

Morning comes, and with it, a hangover. Drinking water helped, but Tony will never admit it. Jarvis informs the room in his soft, polite voice that it's seven in the morning and breakfast will be ready presently. Tony groans, "No breakfast. No waking up." He's face down, voice muffled by a pillow. He's also in a comfortable sprawl that doesn't lend itself to bed-sharing. In his defense, he's not being consciously selfish. He's just so good at it on his own.

Fortunately, Pepper never needed much space. And while she started the night tucked in her little corner of the bed, somewhere in the middle of everything she's rolled over to wrap herself around him. Old habits die hard. She's got her head tucked under his arm, so his bicep is sprawled over her red hair and her breath brushes his ribs from where she still sleeps almost too deeply. One arm is draped over his stomach, fingertips loose against his hip. A soft thigh is errantly draped across his, calf between his knees. She's tucked herself into the perfect little spot and her exhausted body is content to remain there, until he stops speaking. She gives a little moan of protest, instinctively tucking herself a bit tighter against his chest. "mm… no…" She agrees.

That's right, lovely and familiar female voice— wait. Tony opens his eyes and sees the red hair. The night before comes rushing back to him, and with it the sensation of a hammer to the forebrain. He groans from the headache, closing his eyes again. What did they talk about last night? Did they…? No, they wouldn't be wearing pajamas if… He remembers three little words, and his stomach lurches. Those three little words are almost always a prelude to him fucking up, big time. His heart beats faster. Hell, how is he going to wreck this?

It's the quiet, panicked echo of his heart against her cheek which wakes Pepper up more than anything. Drowsy eyed, still in far too much sleep debt, the redhead tiredly pulls herself up off of his chest enough she can look down into his eyes. Her hand that was at his hip comes up, splaying gently across his sternum as she looks down at him through a fall of her red hair. "Hey… Tony. Breathe. I'm here. You… didn't mess up last night. You were drunk… you didn't want to be alone. You apologized. It's fine… Just… Breathe." Her voice is husky with sleep, still trying to wake up, but the words are important.

The touch to his sternum, so near the magnet that keeps him alive, is both soothing and exhilarating. Panic and other kinds of excitement get their wires crossed so easily these days. He lays his hands over hers, opens his eyes again, and smiles faintly as he says, "Hey, there you are." His brows lift, and he adds, "Good, that's good." He breathes. Okay, good. "I feel like I got hit in the head with a horseshoe, and I'm pretty sure the horse was still attached to it."

"I know. I told Jarvis to cancel your morning appointments. I don't know who your secretary is now, but she'll have to reschedule them. You were… a bit of a mess last night." Not working here, not dating him… but Pepper will always take care of him when she can. It's pure habit at this point, and she likes it. Even as his hand rests over her's, she smiles a touch more and allows the pad of her thumb to idly brush around the outside of that inset device, just at the edge of his skin. Affectionate, respectful… Very much Pepper, looking at his differences, acknowledging them, without judging them. "…you want some asprin? I can get up, get you some… Water. Maybe juice."

"You're an angel," Tony says. "I'll adopt religion long enough to tell you that." Done and done. "To be honest, I don't know who my secretary is now," he says. He sighs, and he wraps his arms around her to draw her in close. The gesture has an innocence to it that just isn't like him, a genuine affection independent of trying to score. "I don't deserve you," he says. "I feel like I'm going to be apologizing for a lot." He nods, then winces, then says, "Aspirin would be great. I don't suppose you're going to go for a little hair of the dog?"

Pep is just about to get up and out of bed, to get him that asprin and water, when he wraps her up in those still-strong arms and pulls her closer. SHe cannot help but melt against him, sinking a touch closer than even before, now half atop of him with his arms securing her there. She smiles, uninhibited and honest. She enjoys that trap of his arms, it makes her own heart quicken for all the right reasons. "…Mm…no. Probably you don't. But… you… could try, you know? Really try to make it work… not to mess it up because you're scared. That is an option." And, as ever, Pepper is too intelligent and honest for her own good. Even as she stares down into his eyes. She smirks deeper at the question of hair of the dog and gently tries to extricate herself from his arms. "Water and apsrin."

Tony's brow furrows, and he peers up at Pepper. "Not mess it up? I'm sorry, I understand each word you're saying individually, but when you put them together like that they make no sense." Despite the morning-after headache, there's a glint in his eyes, and he smiles. Then he sighs and says, "Water and aspirin." He relaxes his hold and gives her a pat low on her back. Just her back, not her rear. He's being good.

He gets a wry stare for a heartbeat or two, "…That is your choice, to not understand." And with that patented Pepper glare, she does actually slip out of his arms and move towards the master bathroom. She's just in his shirt, that she borrowed last night, her long, dancer's legs bare and ever so soft looking in the morning light. CFO or not, she still looked like she should be a dancer or some pin up girl. That never changed. The sound of water running can be heard and, a moment later, she comes back out with a glass of water and two asprin. She perches at his side on the bed, her hip against his ribs, before handing it over. "Drink. The whole thing."

"That's cold," he says into the glare, but he doesn't argue. He pushes himself up on his elbows and watches her head to the master bath. When she returns with water — from the tap like he's some sort of trash person — he groans, but he sits up to take the glass. "I'm being punished," he says. He takes the aspirin and drinks, though. When all is lost, just shut up and do what Pepper says. Why he fights this constantly is anyone's guess.

"You are taking your medicine." Pepper doesn't disagree that he's being punished, though, she just smirks those pink, currently unpainted lips in a full, quiet line. And watches him drink. When he actually finishes the glass of water, she cannot help but look quietly pleased and a little proud. "…If you actually want to come to the living room, I can see what of the bottled stuff — water, don't look so excited — you have left. And put on some coffee." While she was tired when she woke up and probably could have slept two more hours, now that she's moving, she's up and going. In work mode. In take care of Tony mode.

Tony offers back the empty glass, and he's just so put upon. Water is a precursor to a real drink, damn it. "Just coffee, thanks," he says. He glances back at the bedding, and there's a temptation there to curl up around a pillow and just never get out of bed again. But Pepper is here, and she's taking care of him. This morning, he wants to be worthy of that. "All right," he says. "Let's do this." He gets out of bed and stretches, still quite fit for his age and tendency to drink too much and eat too little. "Let's just take today off," he says. "We can continue this slumber party all day. I'll figure out who my secretary is and tell her to cancel the rest of my day."

As he actually pulls himself up out of bed, Pepper looks over his frame, up and down, brows arched quietly but also a small smile on her lips that says she's actually enjoying the show. She still finds him attractive, even after all this time. She makes a brief, approving sound before turning on the ball of her foot and allowing her long, bare legs to carry her out into the front area. She still knows where everything is, moving for the coffee maker fairly quickly. "You can take all day off… I still have responsiblities, but I… can call off the morning, probably. Relax. Catch up. Make certain your headache is mostly gone before I go."

"It'll be fine after coffee," Tony says, "but I'll fake it so you won't leave." He smiles, then winces, because the headache isn't gone just yet. "Jarvis, have my secretary cancel all my meetings."

"Yes, sir. Anything else?"

"Find out who my secretary is."

"Your secretary is Christine Hunt. You hired her before you left for Berlin."

Tony looks at Pepper and shakes his head. Yeah, he has no memory of this. "All right, thank you, Jarvis." Tony leaves Pepper to the coffee prep and goes to collapse on the couch. "Do I have to be awake today?" he complains. So much like a boy parading around in a man's body sometimes.

"No… you could go back to bed right now, you know. I won't keep you up." Pepper states simply, as if she were pointing out the most logical bit of truth. She finishes putting on the coffee and then she grabs the bottle of sparkling water, opening it and grabbing some ice from the little bar freezer. Once she's got the ice in a glass, she's topping it off with the water and carrying both over to him. "Here, your fancy water first… It'll help the headache when you wake up later."

Tony regards her with those sad, hungover puppy eyes. "You could keep me up if you wanted to," he says. He peers at the sparkling water. "What is it with you and water?" He sits up and takes the glass, though. There's respite in having some kind of structure, one he's not cobbling together in free fall. He takes a drink from the glass, then notes, "Tolerable water." Then he looks up at her and smiles, the lines around his eyes softening. "Hi," he says quietly.

"…Is that a double entendre, Tony?" Pepper asks to the comment of keeping him up, even as she stands right in front of him, in nothing but his long shirt, her hands now resting on her hips. Stern and upright, as ever, even bed tossled and wearing borrowed clothes. "And water keeps you alive. Despite the fact you no longer sign my paychecks and slowly drive me insane, I still care about you, you idiot…" She states softly, her own voice easing out to a bit of earnest, tender concern. Her blue eyes alone show just how much she's missing him. "…Hey." She breathes out softly, in response to that last word. Without control, her fingertips come forward, tenderly combing back through his dark hair.

Tony looks Pepper over. He will never get over those legs, or rear, or any of her. He's not subtle, and when his gaze finally reaches her eyes, he arches a brow and says, "I thought it was a single entendre." He takes another gulp of water, only grimacing a little. He raises his glass to her. "I can tell you care, you're calling me names." He presses the glass to his forehead, and with a sigh, he lets some tension out of his shoulders. They're still tied in knots. The touch to his hair brings a soft, rare and genuine smile to his lips. "So, are we really thinking about doing this?"

Pepper shouldn't. She KNOWS she shouldn't. She just got her life back on track, her head clear, her career better than it's ever been. If only she could pull her hand away from his hair, but she cannot. Her fingertips trace down to the back of his neck, instinctively rubbing at that knot just at the very top of his spine that she knows comes when he's got a headache. She still remembers, even after all this time. She has yet to allow herself to sit down, though, or come any closer. It's like she's trying to talk sense into herself escaping. "… that… That is on you, Tony… because if you fuck this up again… I'm done. I can't… can't go through it again. I can't. You have to want it enough to try… *really*… try. And turn to me for help when you feel like you're slipping, instead of just diving off the deep end…"

Tony inhales sharply as Pepper works that knot, and he utters a quiet sigh. He swallows, and he nods slowly. "Yeah," he says. "You've already given me more chances than anyone deserves." He lowers his gaze, studying his hands loosely clasping the glass of water. "I'm in a bad place," he admits, "and I don't want to dump this wreck on you. But I don't want to give up the chance to be with the one woman I can't over." He smiles weakly. "Isn't honesty something?"

Silence lingers for several heartbeats, Pepper's fingertips continuing to gently massage into the base of his neck for a few more moments. Then she tenderly pulls away, just enough to go actually make them their coffee. It's silence to let her thing, and pulling her away enough she's not constantly feeling the pull of his body and charisma. She can focus her thoughts when she's looking at coffee. "…I know you're in a bad place. I want to help you. But… you have to want help. You have to trust me. ANd… you have to actually listen, for once. You have to work on this for you… as much as me. Or I should leave right now."

"I do want to," Tony says, "right up til I don't." He doesn't understand PTSD, doesn't understand where those impulses come from. If he did, maybe he could frame it in some intelligent way. Knowledge is power, he could use it. But he sits, staring at the water, and he says, "I don't know why sometimes I just crash to watch myself burn. I can promise you I'll never crash again, but it's not a promise I can promise to keep." He rubs at the bridge of his nose. His headache is letting up, but it's still there, sharp right behind his eyeballs. "What if we start slow? Baby steps? We can practice doing normal things like normal people."

%f"…What normal things? How are we normal people, TOny? You're the CEO of the biggest tech company in the world. I'm the CFO of one of your direct competitors. There is nothing normal about our lives…" Pepper admits with a faint, tired sort of ridiculous laugh. She then carries both their mugs of coffee over to the couch and sets them on the coffee table in front of Tony's knees, before she folds her soft frame down into the couch next to him. Her legs tuck in under her butt, knees brushing the outside of his thighs. "…and you could…talk to someone, you know? A professional? A shrink?"


Tony wrinkles his nose and shakes his head. The stigma, it's a thing. "I'm not crazy," he says. "I'm just impulsive. You know, it's very charming right up until it isn't." He flashes her a toothy smile as he takes his coffee. After taking a sip, he lets out a gusty, relaxed sigh. Coffee. Coffee will make everything better. "Anyway, you know what I mean, though. Dinner and a movie, taking walks, talking. Throw me a bone, Pepper, this stuff isn't like me, but being around you makes me want it to be."

The redhead looks skeptical, even curled up on the couch next to him, wearing his shirt, looking very much like she absolutely should be his girlfriend or wife. She's still looking skeptical. "…that's what you said last time. Then you went over seas and I didn't even get a call… if I say yes this time, you going to run again?" Pepper cannot entirely hide the utter hurt she feels in response to all of that, still. It stung her in places she thought she'd closed off.

Tony shakes his head and says, "No, I'm not going to run. You aren't why I ran in the first place." He makes a show of stretches, then one arm drapes on the couch behind Pepper's shoulders. "I wasn't me," he says quietly. "And I got…" He hates to admit this. He probably wouldn't admit it to anyone else but her, and even now the words come grudgingly and spoken in low tones. "I got scared. I can't remember ever having been that scared. The breakup, the man I had to have been to just do that to someone. I know I'm no angel, but even for me, that was cold. I felt like I was losing myself and I went back to the place where I feel like I was born." He taps the magnet on his chest and smiles weakly. "I don't expect it to make sense."

A slow breath escapes Pepper's lips, considering all of that as she listens to him, though her eyes are a hint skeptical. She then shifts on the couch, instead of her legs being tucked under her, she drapes them overtop of his lap, long, bare and soft. SHe must have shaved just yesterday. One hand remains around her mug of much needed coffee, but the other lazily trails up through the back of his hair again. SHe's touching him, she's probably falling in deep again. Her best chance of escape was while she was making the coffee. "It… it does in a way. I still wish you'd talk to someone. You don't have to be crazy to talk to someone… it still helps people. Crazy or not. You've been through a… lot of awful things, Tony. Having someone who is trained to understand… I mean, I'll always listen, but I don't know what to say to help."

"Who's going to understand Soviet terrorists forcing me to make a weapon?" Tony says quietly. He slides his arm down over her shoulders, drawing her closer. He inhales the scent of her hair and sighs. Sense of smell is what really grabs the brain and doesn't let go. She smells like Heaven. Better than Heaven. She smells like home. "Baby steps," he says quietly. "I'll talk to you, cross my heart. Before it ever gets to the point of Berlin, I'll talk to you."

The woman allows herself to be pulled in closer and she cannot help but smile. Pepper fits there, beneath his arm. She always has. It's like they were made physically for each other, she able to tuck into every corner of his body. She sinks her head into the crook of his neck and just draws in a deep breath of him as well. Even if he still smells like booze, it's Tony. "…baby steps. I'll take it. But you have to do that, Tony… you have to. If you just… disappear again… If this falls apart again, I don't know how… I'll put myself back together."

"I won't take off again," Tony says. "I don't think I'll ever be that scared again." He presses his lips to her hair. "Before, the place I was in, I just knew if I talked to you I'd say something unforgivable. I didn't know that guy, I just know I had to get away from him. I left him in Berlin. I'm here to make life work again. I want to tool around in my workshop. I want to spend my evenings sleeping with the competition, and I want… I want you." He smiles weakly. "So, yeah."

Sometimes Pepper's brain is still a bit tired and waking up. She blinks drowsily to him, "…you plan to sleep with *all* of the competition?" She asks, genuinely a bit worried about it. She knows how Tony acted before, how many times she walked in on him with another woman. So, to say she's a bit touchy is an understatement… She studies his dark eyes, pulled away just enough she can watch his face, can look for any hint that she should not be doing this.

Tony smiles as he says, "Only the toughest competition." He presses his forehead to hers lightly. "I mean you." He's about to promise he'd never sleep with another woman, but he's wary about making promises. Promises want to be broken. He draws back to study her features. There's still so much raw hurt in his eyes, like a wounded beast, but it gives him a certain staggering sincerity. With the walls down, it's hard to hide behind them.

While every bit of good sense Pepper has in her brain is screaming at her to run, she was never able to listen to good sense when it comes to Tony. Pale blue eyes look upwards, into his, seeing all that rawness there. The sincerity, the fact that he might actually be trying. Maybe they'd make it work this once. And then all her last walls are down. She's falling, there's no going back. No more words. Pepper just leans forward quietly, pressing her lips to his in a deep, full… uninhibited kiss. The sort of kiss she's been dying to give him since she saw him again.

Tony sets his coffee aside, the better to draw her into both arms. God, she feels good in his arms, all soft and sleek, her red hair silken to touch. He runs his fingers through it as he returns the kiss with matching inhibition. He's wanted to kiss her like this since she walked in last night with water. No, since he heard her voice on the phone. How could he have been so stupid to leave before? Next time, he would take her with him. No, wait, there wasn't going to be a next time.

The kiss deepens, Pepper sinking into him, drowning herself in him until she loses her breath and her head is spinning. Clearly, this was meant to be with them. They were to be together. How couldn't she see that? How did anything that felt this good go so wrong? Pepper is completely breathless and flushed by the time she comes back from that kiss, pulling away just enough she can take some air for herself. "…we…should stop… or I'll never… get into work."

"I'm already crumbling the competition," Tony says, though for all his glibness, his pulse is racing, and the flush coming to his skin isn't from alcohol. He draws her close in a nearly-crushing embrace, and he plants another kiss on her lips, this one with more urgency. If he had his way, she wouldn't even be working at Wayne Enterprises. She would be working for him, if she worked at all. He'd take care of her in a heartbeat. Goading her to play hooky is so, so tempting. His fingers skirt over her thigh, and he draws the kiss down to her throat. "We should," he says. "It'll be something to think about for later."

The fact that he actually stops himself is both a surprise and a touch of a disappointment. But it is for the best. Pepper draws in a shakey sort of breath, trying to calm the race of her pulse and get her head back on straight. She then leans forward, pressing one last kiss to his cheek before she fully stands from the couch, "…I should go. I'm already going to be late. But you… relax. Enjoy the day. We…we'll plan something in a day or two, alright?" She asks gently, trying to keep some control over her feelings and her life.

Tony settles back into a comfortable slump and takes up his coffee cup, raising it to her as he says, "I will greatly enjoy the rest of the day." With one of those patented, dazzling smiles, he adds, "Think of me." He's trying to be good, but maybe not too good.

"I will, between all the fire fighting I have to do going into the office this late!" Pepper then disappears into his bedroom again, quickly grabbing at her dress and pulling it on as fast as her small hands can move. Somehow, she manages to work magic, getting dressed and smoothing her hair into place in less than five minutes. She comes back out just as she's slipping her heels on. "…Call. Don't run away again. The next move is yours. Make it wisely, Tony."

Tony inclines his head and says, "Understood. I'll try to call when you're super busy." Because he's still Tony, and he's still going to be a pain no matter how hard he tries. He winks at her, then says, "Thanks, Pep. I don't know if I'd be a dead man without you, but I'd be one whose life isn't worth much."

A heavy look in his direction, "…don't waste it. I love you. Don't… destroy the man I love." And with those somewhat fateful words, Pepper turns on the ball of her foot and heads to the elevator. Soon she's being whisked down too many floors and will dash practically just across the street to the Wayne building, where she works, having to give all sorts of apologies but most everything will go back to normal soon.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License