Author: ninamazing, or Nina
Fandom: Iron Man movieverse
Word Count: 767
Spoilers: set mid-first movie
Excerpt: He came up from the shop for dinner and Top Gear, like it was the humdrum Tuesday they'd never had, and fell asleep in her lap.
Author's Note: I wrote this off some prompts from roboticonograph, and if you follow that link, you can see HIS fic, which rocked my face. This started as a prologue for the thing I'm doing next, but it spun off in its own direction, so here we are.
Her friends, when she still had them, used to exclaim at the "total weirdness" of evenings in the Stark casual dining room. Pepper syncing her BlackBerry, nodding politely as the boss regaled her with details of this inviscid lift coefficient or that Playboy Bunny, fit their chick-lit-fueled imagination about as well as hefty hiking boots fit Pepper's skinny legs.
This, on the other hand, would have captivated the girls for at least three consecutive cocktails. This, Pepper couldn't help realizing, was totally weird.
When she leaned forward and shifted her laptop to the table, Tony's head had slipped off the couch pillow and come to rest on the top of her thigh. There had been no break in his snoring.
Pepper sighed at last and allowed her body to relax into something resembling a comfortable position. There was toffee ice cream in her freezer at home; and if she was lucky, next month's issue of W.
Tony didn't stir, but she felt a warm drop of drool seep into her linen-covered leg. She was unlucky.
He'd slept so badly since he'd gotten back; since he reappeared, magically, alive. She thought she'd seen the arrogant twinkle in his eyes on the tarmac, but the luster of it had darkened, somehow, by the time he spoke at the press conference. He kept Happy close afterwards, smiled so much less at the adoring faces full of questions, shook so many fewer hands.
It was all to be expected. Traumatic experience for the CEO. Taking some time to focus on his health. After thorough medical assessment, does not see a current need for formal hospitalization. She'd predicted he would disappear into the shop, send commands only through JARVIS, and after some number of weeks would emerge and leave her staring down an exterminated swarm of empty Red Bull cans. She'd imagined too that the girls would return at some point, clogging the hot tub filter with bikini tops and promising that captured-tortured-brainwashed would soon be words of the past in Stark-related press.
As usual, Tony was never to be expected. He came up from the shop for dinner and Top Gear, like it was the humdrum Tuesday they'd never had, and fell asleep in her lap. It was no wonder, really; this piece of furniture was eight thousand dollars of lumbar support and pure luxury, and she doubted he'd even seen his own memory foam mattress since he came back.
He hadn't even gotten a haircut, since what must have been a rushed affair in some air base hospital, and it didn't look like he was trimming the goatee. The Mr. Stark she'd known was a watered-down, flippant, sparkling version of this guy.
Pepper honestly didn't remember when her fingers had threaded their way through the dark waves at the top of his head. He was pinning her here, anyway, with his Cro-Magnon sniffles and the lonely dark spaces under his eyes and his absolutely pathetic need for sleep. The weight of his head had cut off most of the circulation in her thigh, making it tingle. She was entitled to find the first possible productive activity, to stroke his hair while he slept and curl her fingers softly around that frantic skull.
His breathing didn't change, and Pepper didn't notice that she held her breath when she traced a slow path around the curve of his ear. He still wasn't moving. She let out the breath and buried her knuckles in this scruff of his neck, massaging.
Tony's right eyebrow curved, and shot upward.
"I didn't know you liked my hair," he said. Naturally the smirk couldn't help but follow.
"Tony, you —" she retorted, and he caught her wrist before it flew away. "You were snoring. I didn't want to wake you up. I was supposed to go home an hour ago."
"Are you yelling at me or apologizing?" He was grinning; it was a fuzzy sort of charm, with the sleep still in his eyes, but to Pepper these days every smile counted.
"My point, Mr. Stark, is that you should sleep in your own bed," she told him, with her own tiny smile in return. She let him twine their fingers together before he released her; she was sure she didn't feel him rub the palm of her hand with his thumb, so briefly.
"Thank you, Miss Potts," he murmured.
For the lazy or simply poll-happy, or both: Thoughts on the fic?