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Iron Rescue

Story Info

Title: Iron Rescue

Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)

Fandom: Iron Man (MCU)

Timeline: after “The Avengers”, before “Iron Man 3”

Genre: Drama

Rating: K+ / FRC

Characters: Pepper Potts, Tony Stark (Iron Man). Also: J.A.R.V.I.S.

Pairing: Pepper/Tony

Summary: Pepper has a dream about wearing her own suit of armor, and she pitches the idea to Tony. He doesn’t find it funny the way Pepper does.
Complete. Part of “Genius, AI & Bots” series.

Inspired by: SilverAvenger’s (AO3) comment on one of my stories in the series, wishing to see Pepper as Rescue.

Warnings: Language, referenced canonical violence (generalized).

Disclaimer: Iron Man, Avengers, and Marvel Cinematic Universe, including characters and everything else, belong to Marvel, Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Paramount Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. In short: I own nothing; this is pure fiction created to entertain likeminded fans for no profit whatsoever.

Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)

Feedback: Most welcome.

Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.

Iron Rescue

~ ~ ~

Iron Rescue

Malibu, California

When Pepper entered the workshop, Tony had been there for almost four hours already, tinkering away. Her gait didn’t suggest that she had noticed, or if she had, she wasn’t about to bring it up; for the most part, Pepper didn’t involve herself in Tony’s erratic post-New York sleeping patterns, but every now and then Tony imagined he saw something in the way she pursed her lips and adjusted her stance.

Like she disapproved.

Perhaps the long years of Tony being her boss and binge-working on projects had taught her that genius waited for no one, and that’s why she stayed off his case, which was how he liked it.

Some days he wanted to broach the subject and get it off his chest, but he didn’t know how she would react – or how he would feel after revealing the already exposed nerve, as a certain fellow scientist of his would say…

Tony didn’t want to share his traumatic experience and the bothersome effects it was having on his day-to-day life. He was adamant he would learn to deal with it if just given the time and space to do so. Usually when people were told of a problem, they felt like they needed to fix it, and Tony didn’t need that – not even from the people he trusted most.

“Morning,” Pepper greeted, smiling.

“Hey,” Tony replied, giving her another quick glance to confirm that she was still not reacting to him being in the shop.

“You know,” she mused, “I had a funny dream last night.” She walked over to a rig that had a suit of armor hanging from the ceiling, and her hand moved to touch the surface where the outer casing was intact, next to an exposed area of the mechanics below where Tony was working on some improvements.

“Yeah?” Tony asked, his attention already sliding to the task at hand, modifying a repulsor to operate on a different frequency which might just work like an echo-locator. It would help him navigate and map out tight spaces, although it was highly experimental and might not have a quick enough feedback if he was, say, flying rather than walking. But it was worth a shot, especially for suits designed for search and rescue.

The more functions Tony could get out of a single piece of machinery, the less weight and space he had to waste. Condensing was always an issue, choosing one feature over another, so getting multiple uses out of something was Tony’s new motto. At the same time, he was making more specialized armors, because a Swiss Army knife only worked so well until you needed to, say, dig a hole to gain access to something or someone underground, or assist with a controlled demolition, or –

“I dreamt of wearing the suit,” Pepper distracted him from his manic need to be prepared for every eventuality, in some way. If not for the magical word at the end of the sentence, it may have not caught his attention at all.

“Why?” was the first question he blurted out, although it was not the only one he could think of.

Pepper laughed, clearly amused. “I’m not sure. But it was clearly made for me.”

“How d’ya figure?” Tony asked, mind already trying to jump ahead and guess her reply.

“Well, the suit was more endowed in certain places,” she replied with a smile, gesturing at her chest, “and a bit less in others.” She didn’t need to drop her hand to gesture at her nether regions in order to make a point.

Tony huffed, tapping a mini-screwdriver against the piece of machinery in his hands. “That’s ridiculous. The suit isn’t a second skin, so there would be no need to make such adjustments just for a woman’s figure. Besides, it would compromise the flight capabilities, and the arc reactor housing would have to be altered –”

“Tony,” Pepper cut him off, walking closer to him, “it was a dream. Dreams are surreal. Why would I even wear an armor?”

“Exactly,” Tony swiftly agreed.

Her expression changed slightly. “What, you think I couldn’t pull it off?”

And that was when Tony knew he had agreed too fast. Sometimes it was best not to make his opinions known. “You don’t need to. It’s enough that I’m wearing the armor.”

“And Rhodey,” Pepper reminded him.

“And Rhodey,” Tony sighed.

“Maybe I would save the two of you for a change. Come to the rescue at the last moment, guns blazing.” The thought seemed to amuse her, even when she had been put in the middle of said kind of action before, outside a suit. She never liked it, just like any sane person wouldn’t enjoy being trapped in the middle of a high-tech firefight. She did seem tickled by this new concept, and Tony chose to believe it was highly hypothetical and not grounded in reality in any way.

She was just having fun with her ridiculous dream…

“What should I call myself?” Pepper went on, looking thoughtful. “Iron Woman? Iron Girl? God, that’s tacky,” she grimaced. “Perhaps Iron Lady. Or Maiden.”

“Funny…” Tony muttered, now glaring at the repulsor he had been working on.

“You don’t think so?” Pepper asked, sobering a bit. “I could protect you for a change.”

Tony’s fingers tightened around the screwdriver. “But that’s my job. To protect you, and everyone else.”

“Just because you have help – like Rhodey, and the Avengers – doesn’t mean you become invalid,” she told him, a lot more serious now than a minute ago. “It’s just meant to take off some of the burden you keep piling up on your shoulders.”

It was a lot like a conversation he’d had with Rhodey, some long months ago, in this very same workshop. Back when Tony thought he was dying and he still had to do it all on his own, because he couldn’t let anyone know how bad it was, and it was his final chance to do the right thing.

To do anything, really…

“No one wants to be the damsel in distress,” Pepper added.

“Doesn’t mean I should build you an armor so that you can join the fight,” Tony argued.

“I don’t think I would, even if I had one. Not unless it was to protect someone. I’m not like you and the other heroes, who can put themselves out there, time and again. But I don’t think anyone should turn away from preventing trouble if they have the power to stop it, and safeguard others.”

She had a point, but Tony still thought that if he was smart enough, she wouldn’t have to worry about those things. Nor would anyone else for that matter, but Pepper was more important to him than most other people. Well, more important than everyone else, if he was being completely honest with himself. However, he wasn’t certain how she would react to him telling her that; it might not go over well, to admit he would choose to save her rather than some Regular Joe.

He hoped it wouldn’t come to that, but if it ever came down to making that choice… Tony wouldn’t have to think about it too hard. If she knew, though, she might make another argument for the benefits of her own armor, even when she was mostly joking.

Those kinds of scenarios were the things that kept assaulting Tony’s mind these days, and that wasn’t even figuring in his newfound knowledge that something like an alien invasion was well within the realm of possibility.

“With that logic, I should give every good Samaritan a suit of armor,” Tony argued somewhat childishly.

“Would that be such a bad thing?” Pepper asked. “I know it’s not feasible, because in the real world those suits would get taken advantage of, not to mention make those people a target… But it would give good people a chance to make this world a better place.”

Tony pursed his lips. She had a point, but she wasn’t the one wearing the armor and flying nukes into wormholes. How far should someone else wearing the suit go – whether they wanted to or not? He and Rhodey had chosen this path, but for anyone else to have to make those same sacrifices, to take the same risks… He was aware that it was perhaps arrogant to think that way, when every single day people not equipped with this armor endangered their lives to protect others. Iron Man didn’t regularly put out fires or help war efforts overseas – not the way normal people did. His battles were quite different in nature. Who else was going to tackle the fights he was faced with?

He most certainly didn’t want Pepper to ever have to make a choice like that.

Pepper was watching him, perhaps waiting for a verbal reaction. It was uncommon for Tony not to say what he was thinking, he knew, but these were matters he didn’t go spouting out to just anyone who was listening.

Especially someone who wasn’t on the level with him – and even then, he’d be worried that the other party might not understand what he was going for.

“Look, I’m not trying to belittle what you’re doing,” Pepper finally said. “I still wish you didn’t have to do any of it; you know how I feel about it.”

“I do,” Tony agreed.

“I just wish more people could take part, to share the load.”

“And if something happened to those people? I would have to clean up the mess – and feel the repercussions if they weren’t up to the task.”

Pepper smiled sadly. “Because no one else has the guts or the willingness to go all the way.”

“They shouldn’t need to, if I’m doing my part,” Tony insisted.

“And if it were a perfect world, you wouldn’t need to be out there either.” She raised her hand when Tony opened his mouth to speak. “Enough. It was a silly dream, and you’re not in the best mindset to have a conversation like this.” It may have been the first time she let Tony know she was aware that something was up in his life recently.

He waited for her to push, to say something else, but she simply stepped back towards the stairs. “I’m going to make some breakfast. You’re welcome to join me.”

“I will,” Tony promised. “I’ll just… wrap this up.”

She nodded and left, leaving Tony to his tinkering.

Three hours later when Tony was done, he headed upstairs to find that she had already left for the office, but a plate of food was sitting on the table.

“Why didn’t you remind me to come upstairs?” he asked out loud as he bit into a cold slice of toast.

“Miss Potts told me not to bother, seeing as you were busy,” J.A.R.V.I.S. replied.

“Think she got offended that I wouldn’t build her an armor of her own?”

“I doubt Miss Potts would actually want an armor, sir.”

“But she sure liked to hint I should give them to other people.” He frowned, then gestured at the coffee maker. J.A.R.V.I.S. started it for him.

“In a perfect world, wouldn’t that be ideal? To distribute the possibilities of the suits – and not just for their destructive power.”

“Luckily we don’t live in a perfect world,” Tony mused. “Otherwise I would be losing sleep for yet another reason.”

J.A.R.V.I.S. didn’t comment, and Tony focused on stuffing his face before he would be heading back downstairs, to drown himself in work and trying to safeguard the world from future threats, one Iron Man suit at a time.

The End