A/N: And this is it...enjoy.
There's something strange that erupted in his chest when he watched her from the other side of the glass window. There was this look in her eyes, the way she looked at him as if nothing could ever be so perfect again. It left him feeling overwhelmed with something much more than love itself. Something so indescribable and beyond mortal comprehension.
He didn't know what to say to the colonel beside him and strangely enough there were no comments to make or snide remarks to voice. There wasn't those one liners or that sarcastic note of the situation. Because in that moment, watching her was everything that he ever truly wanted. Watching her hold their little baby in her arms sent him into a world where he never thought he would ever be in. It was a world he never imagined he would ever want to be in.
He heard the quiet whispers of Natalie and Happy beside him and for the briefest of moments he gazed at them. Because it was hard to imagine that something so silly, something so menial had resulted to this. It was hard to believe that whatever it was between them had led to this. That Happy's carelessness and lack of timing for rushing a kiss to one of the most well rounded martial artist fighters had led to this.
The only thing he could seem to focus on was how beautiful she looked. It's about how perfect, how completed and fulfilled she had made him. It's about how she's dressed in a simple hospital gown holding their little baby, sitting on her wheelchair and yet looking completely and utterly beautiful to him. It's about the little baby that's sitting in her arms. The wires and cords strung and attached to the little body. But she's holding their little baby so securely, so gently as if she'll protect it from the world. It makes him fall in love with her all over again. It's the fact that this is theirs and theirs alone. That no matter what would happen in the future, nothing could ever be bad because he had this, he had her and he had his little family.
The fleeting thought of dying didn't seem scary to him anymore. He didn't want to die of course and he wasn't going to die any time soon but the fact that he had everything. That her love and their little son had completed that puzzle of uncertainty and doubt in his heart. It was as if his wrongs had been written off, that every heart ache and pain he ever put her through had been expunged. That no matter what, they had this now and nothing could ever replace this.
"I really can't believe it," the colonel murmured beside him.
He turned his gaze briefly to the colonel.
"You're actually speechless," the colonel replied with a comical grin. "No comment or sarcastic remark, just pure adoration written all over your face."
He rolled his eyes and gazed back at them again.
"There's only so much you can say in moments like this," he replied softly, still mesmerized by the way she held their little son.
The colonel regarded him with a smug expression. "She is glowing which is different and you've got this hopeless, longing look on your face..."
He glared mildly at the colonel and muttered, "Thanks, I'm glad you find humour in my hour of pride..."
"You're a father, Tony," the colonel chuckled, "You're entitled to look hopeless..."
"You just wait," he muttered dryly, "One of these days you'll find someone to love..." his eyes glazed a little when he caught her gaze and suddenly his sarcastic retort didn't seem necessary anymore. "And when you do you'll see a side of the world you never knew existed."
"While the idea of love is interesting...unlike you, I don't have the time to settle down just yet," the colonel murmured quietly beside him.
"Sometimes I think I'm too lucky," he said softly.
"You...lucky, no...really?" the colonel muttered sarcastically.
He glared and softened his gaze when he looked at her again. "What I mean is that I don't deserve this...she's so perfect and I'm-"
"That's bullshit and you know it, Tony, so don't even go there..."
"But everything I've put her though...all those years," he sighed and offered her a smile when she gazed at him again. "And yet she still loves me."
"She has always loved you."
He smiled warmly at how gently she laid their baby down back in the incubator. The nurses were ushered at her side but she was so attentive, so ready to offer her assistance. He figured they were probably explaining something to her about his situation and he really suddenly wished he was there beside her. He watched as the nurse turned to look at him, the blank look on the nurse's face told him she had probably requested for his presence. He grinned again.
"I think in a way, I have always loved her," he mumbled softly as he watched the nurse walk toward them. "I just had to realize it."
"Yeah, yeah," the colonel sighed, "Go be with them already."
He smiled briefly to the colonel and gazed toward Natalie and Happy, he added, "Bring them home if you can. I've got a feeling I won't be leaving the hospital tonight."
The colonel smirked and nodded.
"Thanks man, I owe you one," he murmured before he stepped through the door, followed closely by the nurse.
He turned his eyes to her and then he knew.
He knew everything would be okay. He knew that no matter what, they had this now and nothing could ever replace it. Nothing could ever replace her and nothing could ever be as beautiful as her. The stars couldn't touch her and the sun could never glow brighter than her. She was his world and she always will be.
Happy rounded the corner and pulled the Bentley slowly alongside the narrow driveway. The mansion was dark she noted, too dark. Despite the fact that evening had dawned upon Malibu, she would have assumed that Tony, the most world renowned engineer would at least know how to turn on a few lights. Happy gave her a comforting smile and she brushed off the nagging worry at the back of her mind.
Her day spent attending board meetings, press conferences and many other meetings was tiresome and she really was beginning to question herself as being CEO. Granted she had been CEO for almost two years now, one would think that she would have gotten the hang of it. There was no doubt she loved it and it was moments like this, coming home, not to an empty apartment but coming home to him, her family. It made her heart swell and it left her smiling rather uncandidly much to Happy's dismay. She noted his raised brow and she gave him a small wave.
"Goodnight, Pepper," Happy mumbled softly through the slightly opened window before he drove off.
She stepped up on the porch and scrambled to press the key code into the number pad. The porch lit up the instant she had lifted the keypad shield followed by Jarvis' very welcoming voice, "Welcome home, Mrs Stark."
"Thank you, Jarvis," she replied with a warm smile. It was always nice to be greeted like that; she could never get over it. The many years she spent stumbling home to her empty apartment was still a vague memory in her thoughts.
She didn't know why she felt giddy with excitement as she stepped into their warm home. She had been living here for two years already and such a mundane task like walking into their home was anything but different. She dropped her coat on the coat stand and promptly glanced up the steps. The rooms upstairs were dark and she imagined he was at least in the kitchen or lounge room. He rarely spent time in the workshop at this time of night.
"Jarvis, where is Tony?" she asked the handy AI.
"He is in the workshop," Jarvis answered. Was there a hint of amusement in the AI's voice?
"What is he doing? Doesn't he know he's got other responsibilities now?" she asked curiously and worriedly at the same time. She really hoped that he didn't forget because if he did, not only would it be really difficult to explain to the press, but she would most likely scold him and lecture him on how careless he could be.
"He is taking his responsibilities rather seriously but as to what he is doing, I'd rather not say," the AI responded, "I think perhaps it is best if you saw with your own eyes."
She raised a brow as she kicked off her stilettos at the corner of the door. It haphazardly fell to its side but she really didn't care right now. She was too preoccupied in wondering just exactly what he was doing in the workshop.
As she passed the lounge she dropped her bag onto one of the seats and turned to descend the steps. She undid the tie at her hair and messily ran her fingers through her curls. She always felt completely at ease once her hair was down. It made her feel somewhat less regal and more just the ordinary, Pepper. She swiftly felt like hurrying back up the steps to their room and changing out of her business attire but after her feet touched the last step she decided against it. She eagerly glanced around the cement wall toward the glass doors expecting the worst but the sight that unfolded before her brewed an overwhelming sensation of complete and utter warmth in her chest. She couldn't help but let an endearing smile splay across her lips as she made her way to the glass door. She keyed in the security code and stepped into his workshop.
His back was facing toward her and she could hear his comical chatter as he stared seriously into some machine part he was attending too. She decided not to interrupt because the moment was very candid, very unlike Tony but she loved it. She had never come home to find them like this before and for the first time she could honestly say that he had finally become the man she never thought he would be. Despite the fact that she had fallen in love with him and went so far as to marry him, she didn't quite expect this out of him.
"A electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic components such as resistors, transistors, capacitors, inductors and diodes, connected by conductive wires or traces through which electric current can flow," he explained very seriously, "Note, it is always important to structure them properly and not carelessly because bad wiring can lead to really bad things and I don't think mummy would like that too much."
"Da..." she heard the drooling coo.
"Yep," he agreed, "I don't think you would like that either." She watched as he held up the machine in his hand and held it out before he said, "So, what do you think?"
"Ga..." came the unpredictable response.
"Hmmm...Interested in the period table are we?" he hummed as he scratched his chin. "Ga, if I'm not mistaken is Gallium," he mumbled as he curiously looked at the small machine in his hands, "It is the 31st element in the periodic table. I really shouldn't explain it too much, mummy will murder me if you start preschool and the first thing you recite to your play mates is the entire periodic table."
"You really want to know?"
"Well, Au is gold, element number 79, daddy's wedding ring is made of gold actually, it also has some Titanium in it to strengthen it a bit, that's Ti, element number 81," she heard him explaining as he showed the toddler the ring at his finger, "and O is Oxygen, element number 8, that's what we breathe, watch daddy for a moment..." she smiled warmly as he placed the machine from his hands on the table and began to breath in deeply and very animatedly. "In and out, you feel that?"
She watched as he leaned over and pressed a soft finger on the toddler's chest. She caught the toddler's eye and he instantly squirmed with delight.
"No squirming Reily, remember what we talked about earlier," she heard Tony instructing very calmly yet pointedly. "If you squirm too much you'll fall and I really don't think mummy will like it if she comes home to see a gigantic bump on your head."
"Ma...Ma..." the toddler exclaimed when she smiled wider.
"Hmm...I don't think there's a Ma in the periodic table," she heard him mumbling as he promptly slid his hands under the toddler's arms. He barely lifted the toddler and turned around before he paused, his hands under the toddler's arms and eyes fixed on her. He looked as if he had been caught stealing cookies. "It's not what it looks like," he stumbled and she laughed softly.
"And what is it supposed to look like?" she said and smirked at him.
"He was eager to learn," Tony protested as he promptly lifted the toddler and settled him at his side.
She always loved the way he would hold their son. His arms always had that protectiveness look when he held Reily. It was as if he had this sense of determination and goal that he would never let any harm come to his son. The thought always made her heart swell at the fact that he had gone a full circle. He went from being the world renowned playboy to romantic boyfriend to loving husband and to dotting father. She didn't think he could be anymore inspirational. Trust him of all men to actually be the man she was sure she'd never find. And to think she had worked with him for 10 years before their relationship even surfaced.
He held a hand to her and she eagerly leaned into him, embracing the both of them as she leaned back a little to press a kiss on Reily's forehead. The toddler squirmed between them with delight and made several attempts of 'gaa-ing' and 'goo-ing'.
"Have you two eaten yet?" she asked briefly as she brushed a few of Reily's bangs away from his eyes.
"No, we thought we'd wait for you," he replied before he pressed a warm and lingering kiss on her lips.
It was at that precise moment that she felt Reily throwing his arm around her neck and his other hand around Tony's neck. The kiss that they shared became rapidly rough as she noticed the toddler suddenly gushing and pressing his head and lips with theirs as well. She smiled into the kiss and tightened her hold around Tony. She felt his arms encircling warmly and protectively around both her and Reily and she didn't think her life could be so simply wonderful and just perfect. There was something really special about coming home after a long day at work to see her husband teaching their toddler about the elements of the periodic table, and to sharing a family kiss between the three of them all at the same time.
Between the laughter and the sudden loud kissing sounds that Tony was making to Reily, she vaguely remembered that morning. The morning where she'd woken up to a nauseating sensation. The morning that changed their lives and incidentally the morning she first saw that look in his eyes. The morning they found out she was pregnant. The same morning he looked so innocent, so loving, so completely changed from the man she once knew.
That memorable morning.
A/N: Hmm...what can I say? It's been one memorable journey in writing this story and I've enjoyed every step. This was actually the very first Ironman fic I've ever written and I'm so surprized, amazed and completely grateful to everyone who has reviewed and favoured it. To be really honest the first time I posted up the first chapter of this story it was meant to be a one-shot. But some how one thing led to another and next thing I know it ends at chapter 16. All I can say is thanks to everyone who has reviewed, that's the inspiration that keeps me going. Well, that and music I suppose. I'm sorry if this last chapter seemed rushed in anyway. But anyway, now it's time to focus on my other Ironman story, Icecream.
Thanks again to everyone who has reviewed:
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