Chicago Pizza
Pepper visits Tony in his labs. He's hard at work on a new invention and has ordered pizza from Chicago. Always a bad sign.

Tony's Lab

March 29th, 2013

"—Pepper. I didn't do it, I won't sign it, and I already donated this year."

Tony's been spending a lot of time in his lab since his most recent brush with death. For a man as irreverent and roguish as he appears to be, he tends to bury himself in his work when he's troubled. For him, this is therapy. Therapy with explosions.

"Dummy, roll camera. Okay. Modular Missile Launcher. Test fire four." Tony is standing at the end of a long glass corridor that seems to have been hastily installed. At the end of the corridor, a small room, also glass, forms a sort of cap. He's barefoot, wearing slacks, a belt, and an undershirt, and has donned one of his armored gauntlets for whatever ill-advised experiment he's about to perform. Two days' of stubble around his goatee and a distinct rumpling to his hair are signs that he probably hasn't left the basement in a while. That, and he's had someone flying pizza in from Chicago. There are empty boxes everywhere, including a stack in his little glass room.

Pepper Potts' work is never done. If it is not handling the small fires that Tony sets at Stark Industries with his newest ideas, it is literally putting out the small fires that he sets at the Stark Mansion. While she makes sure to check in with Tony just about every evening, she hasn't actually seen him in about two days. Worried and also needing him to sign some paperwork, the world's most diligent assistant punches in her distinct key code on the security system leading into the lab.

However, she sees that Tony is in the midst of some sort of test, so she hangs back from entering into his hastily constructed glass corridor. Folding the large stack of folders across her chest, she tilts her head just slightly and studies the somewhat disheveled Tony's latest test. Her features show a fond and worried expression as she watches the display.

"Fire in the hole. Dummy, If I do catch fire, please don't wait so long to douse me this time. Moderation. That's the key." Stark clears his throat, aims his gauntlet, and presses a button.

There's an ear-splitting whine as a small, finned projectile pops out from the top of the forearm plate and takes off toward the pizza boxes. When it arrives, though, it simply ricochets around the glass room until it runs out of fuel. This earns a sigh from Tony, who wriggles out of his armored glove and turns toward—

"—Pepper. I didn't do it, I won't sign it, and I already donated this year." He smiles winningly and turns toward the bar. "Drink?"

With a raised eyebrow, Pepper stalks closer to the glass room. While she winced and quickly turned away from the sound and lights, she's back to having her game face on. "You don't even know what I'm about to ask, do you?" With a smirk, she shakes her head. "I could be handing you forms for our all expense paid trip to Jakarta." Of course, that is highly unlikely. It's not hard to tell that Pepper is getting worried about Tony and all the time that he's been spending in his labs.

Glancing at the pizza boxes - Chicago, always a bad sign - she sighs and picks up one of the stray ones. "Tony, should we talk about this?" Not just his pizza addiction, but whatever may be bothering him.

"It's okay, Pepper. I'm okay," Tony replies. He pours two glasses of scotch, drops in three cubes of ice apiece, and crosses back to Pepper's side. One of the glasses is offered to her, along with a more genuine smile. "I've just been thinking too much. That's my curse. This intensely potent genius of mine can't be contained."

And while it's not unusual for him to dive into his work for a day or two, this particular excursion has been a little more intense than others in the past. Chicago. Always a bad sign. He clears his throat and takes a sip of his drink.

Automatically, Pepper take the drink that Tony offers. However, she's not quite in the mood to be placated by his most winning smile and a drink. Setting the glass down on the nearest surface, she frowns and also sets down the folders that may or may not have been the excuse she needed to intrude on his private space. They know each other well enough by now that she knows he's attempting to cover something up.

"You know that's not holding up when you're ordering Chicago pizza." The red head glances over at the pizza boxes again. He's trying to keep her in the dark again. He did it with Iron Man, he did it with the reaction of his arc reactor, she can tell he's attempting to do the same thing now. "Your intensely potent genius hasn't shaved in a few days and is testing out projectiles. What's going on?"

Tony takes another gulp, then sets his own glass aside as well. "Assume we can actually get the Avengers Initiative to work. Say we can keep it working, even. We put that many giant egos, including my own, into a room and try to get them all marching in the same direction? And we expect it to work all the time?"

The more time he spends explaining this theoretical situation, the more dubious he seems. He's shaking his head by the time he's finished laying it out. "I'm not convinced," he continues. "Maybe we can do it once. Twice, even. I just don't trust that it'll hold out in the long run. So I've been working on the suit. Just in case things go—"

BOOM! As usual, Tony's missile has exploded when it was god damn good and ready. Luckily, the explosion seems as if it'll be contained by the blast chamber.

Pepper is used to things exploding in Tony's lab. While she does start, she takes a look behind her, realizes that everyone is okay and then turns back to Tony. Reaching a hand out, she places it on his chest. "I thought the point of the Avengers Initiative was that everyone would come together when you're needed the most." There are times when people need Iron Man and there are times when they need Iron Man and Captain America and Thor…

With a bit of a smile, Pepper shakes her head. "Only you could talk about how you worry about everyone's ego and then think that you're the only person properly equipped to save everyone." But, the smile fades to a more serious expression. His worries are valid. "But, the one thing I think all of you have in common is that you want to keep us all safe. That's, at least, a foundation."

Arms that have grown surprisingly strong and lean in the last few years reach out to snare Pepper around her waist. Tony draws her in close to him, savoring her girly scent and the soft tickle of her hair against the bottom of his chin. "I want to keep you safe," he says. "As long as there's me and there's you and there's a big tower with my—our name on the side, I'll be happy.


"Two towers. One for each of us," he amends. "You can even have a pool boy. Whatever flavor you want."

Easily, Pepper leans against Tony when he pulls her close. She rests her head by his shoulder and smiles. "I am safe." She wraps her arms around his waist. "There's that ego again," she laughs. "Oh, I get a tower of my own in this fantasy? I'm not sure Manhattan can handle it." There was a large ruckus over the zoning of Stark Tower. "First, I'd have to have a pool in order to have a pool boy. You already shot down my idea of the Stark-Potts Tower. I'll have to live with knowing I will never have a building with my name on it."

"Be careful what you wish for," Tony says, giving his heavy brows an enigmatic wiggle. "Now c'mon. I think we both know I could use a shower. Why don't you join me? You look like you've just had one, but that's okay. Doctors always say you should get plenty of fluids, right? There are fluids in the shower."

Before she can protest, Tony bends down to scoop Pepper up and bears her off toward the master bathroom with a twinkle in his eye.

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