A/N: Hmm...Just a little fic to kick start the New Year. Happy New Year everyone!
The fireworks slowed as the cheering drowned with the rest of the night.
He couldn't find it in himself to party or lose himself to alcoholic oblivion. He could only stand there by the corner of the room and stare at her. He could only hold that single cup of scotch in his hand, the only drink he had the entire night and lean against the bar table, feeling completely and utterly sober for the first time in many years.
He could only watch her laughing with what who he presumed as her only friends. The people she worked with. They were the people that were there for her when he wasn't. The people who kept her afloat in the decade he spent living up to his infamous reputation.
The guilt was undeniable and ever since kissing her, the guilt only grew. It became something that haunted him. Something that echoed in his head and reminded him of every uncomfortable situation he put her in. He remembered the mornings he required her assistance in 'taking out the trash' and the many birthdays he forgot, or the strawberries and the really simple things that mattered.
But then he remembered the day he told her she was all he had and the day he spent three hours cooking her that omelette. He remembered the day Jarvis told him he was dying and the need that suddenly became so clear to him. The need of wanting her, but not in the way he normally wanted women. The need of wanting to just hold her and know that no matter what he'd be okay because he had her. The need of wanting to know that he had finally done something right, that he had finally done something right for her. That he didn't just need her for the eight other numbers.
He sighed quietly to himself and wondered what would really have happened if he died. He wondered if she would cry for him or whether she'd be a hopeful wreck. He'd like to think she'd remember him for his want to change and be something better. He wanted to think that she wouldn't remember all the stupid things he did.
He looked up from his drink at the familiar colonel who haphazardly collapsed on the seat beside him.
"This is different," the colonel slurred and thumped his head on the table.
"Funny, the same thought crossed my mind," he murmured, feeling slightly amused at the colonel.
"You know," he started softly. "Normally you're supposed to get drunk and party after it hits New Years. Not before..."
"You're...You're the voice of hypocrisy you know," the colonel slurred and swayed in his seat as he pointed a finger at him.
"I know," he smiled and raised his glass to the colonel. "I try."
"Is that your...that your first drink...for...for...the night?"
"It is," he murmured and glanced down at his drink again. "Fortunately my last as well."
"Things changed, Rhodey and besides, I'd like to be sober this time for a change."
"No fun in that," Rhodey slurred and motioned to the bar tender.
"Haven't you had enough?"
"Hypocrisy," Rhodey remarked pointedly as he swiped his drink from the bar tender's outstretched hand.
He chuckled as he watched his friend disappear into the crowd.
"Another Scotch, Mr Stark?" the bar tender asked.
He shook his head, "No, that'll be all for the night. Glass of warm milk might do some good though."
"Well this is different."
He turned around slowly as he sipped on the glass of warm milk.
"Is that warm milk?"
"Let's face it, Potts, this is not the weirdest thing you've caught me doing."
"And you're not drunk," her voice was soft as she looked at him curiously.
He sighed and nodded as if defeated. "I'm the voice of hypocrisy, I know."
She smiled sincerely and mumbled, "Something wrong?"
"No," he murmured, "Not really. I just wanted to welcome the New Year sober for once."
"Tony," she regarded him with narrowed eyes, "I've known you for a decade and for every single one of those years, you've drank yourself to oblivion every New Year's."
"Yeah...But it's the first New Year's that I'm Ironman and well, being Ironman changes things," he punctuated his word with gestures as he looked at her intently.
"And kissing you," he added shortly, "That changes things too."
"I meant it," he murmured sincerely.
"I meant it when I said you were all I had," he added softly. "And I suppose something good came out of Afghanistan after all."
"Tony, you don't-"
"Yensin told me...that I was a man that had everything, but nothing at all," he mumbled.
"You don't have too," she said softly as she tightened the hold on his hand.
He glanced to their hands and he smiled, "But he was wrong."
He turned his eyes to her and added, "I've got you, Pepper...and that's everything I'll ever need."
The curl of her lips and the expression plastered on her face made him swell. It was something that warmed his soul to know that for once he had finally done the right thing. That even though he spent ten years drinking himself to oblivion and sleeping with more women than there were stars, he'd do what he could to spend the rest of his life making it up to her.
Because for her he'd commit. For her he would give his life and give his world.
Because she was worth it.