"Tony!" Pepper's voice floated from the next room. "We should go."

Tony didn't turn his head. "…one second…" he said. "I think…"

He let himself begin to believe, for one, elated moment, that it might actually be gone. He'd almost let himself relax, when he thought he heard something. Then he heard it again. Throwing his hands down, Tony swore.

"You know what we agreed about damage to the Tower, Tony." Pepper's heels clicked against the floor in the next room.

"Yep," Tony scrubbed his hand through his hair, aiming at a nonchalance he was not achieving. "I remember."

"Just leave him alone."

"Just –" Tony pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. He started into the next room. "Pepper, he's been sitting in my air ducts, playing the djembe you brought him in that tiny little suit for hours. And you just want me to leave him alone?"

The sound of the tiny drum pounded through the room like the pulse of some huge animal. Tony searched the room for a broom handle or something vaguely rock-shaped and settled with jumping up on the tabletop and banging the flat of his hand against the ceiling. "Party's over, Lang!" he shouted.

The pounding did not stop. It only intensified. Then it slowed to a recognizable rhythm.

A voice was echoing in accompaniment. Tony stared at the ceiling in dawning horror.

Why can't we be friends?

Why can't we be friends?

Why can't we be friends?

Why can't we be friends?

"That's it." He beckoned Pepper, "Toss me the Raid. Loki was right, that son of a bitch."

"Tony," Pepper made no move towards the bug spray.

"You know, I knew he was gonna end up being right about that. I just didn't want to give him the satisfaction."

She stood in the middle of the room, her hands in front of her, holding a sweatshirt. When he looked at her, she was trying to hide a smile. Tony didn't get that.

"You think this is funny?" he demanded. "How about if I sat in the ducts, drunk off my ass, playing kazoo? Is it funny then?"

"You're a grown man, Tony. Get down."

"Irrelevant. Just because he's tiny doesn't mean he's not grown man. Toss me the Raid."

Resolute, Pepper did not move. "I don't think I'll be able to hear him from outside," she said.

"I'm not leaving him," Tony snapped, "in my Tower. You know what?" he clapped his hands together and jumped down. "I'm calling an exterminator."

Pepper's voice floated behind him. "I'm leaving in ten minutes, whether you're there or not."

He didn't break stride. "I'll be there." Then, "Friday?"

"Yeah, Boss?"

"Get me an exterminator. ASAP. I've got places to be."

"Are you sure an exterminator is the right move?" Friday asked.

"Oh yeah. You hear that, Lang?" Tony slapped the wall. "It is time to go home."

Behind him, Pepper sighed. "I'll be in the car."


The End