Tony sluggishly stood up from the wheelchair and walked off of the carrier plane to see a crowd of reporters waiting to greet him. He knew he had to make a statement to them, but the last three months of being in that cave were still heavy on his mind. The bombing, being held hostage, and his great escape, it all flashed through his mind. Not to mention the miniature arc reactor in his chest, that now kept him alive.
He wanted to make his quick statement and then retreat to the comfort of his home. The only thing on his mind was to call Bree. He didn't know if he was up for a night of rough sex yet, but he hoped she would willing to just give him company and a friendly face.
Pepper smiled as Tony reached her. "Mr. Stark. It's good to have you back home."
"It's good to be home. But first, a cheeseburger, then a press conference to get this all out of the way."
Pepper narrowed her eyes. "Are you sure? Wouldn't you rather go to the hospital?"
"No," he answered sternly. "Conference and a burger... burger first."
Meanwhile as soon as the news reached her ears, Bree walked from her tiny bedroom, to her living room, and turned on the news. He's safe... he's home. She took a relieved breath and felt tension leave her shoulders as wiped a few tears from her face, curled up on the couch.
As soon as Stark walked into his home, he went to the kitchen and poured himself a stiff drink. "Jarvis, call Bree." He said, then waited as the phone rang.
"Sir, the number you have on file is disconnected," Jarvis responded. "Shall I search for a new number?"
"Disconnected? What the hell? Yes, find her new number. Make it your priority." Tony said, feeling mildly concerned. He took a sip of his scotch and leaned against his kitchen counter with a sigh.
Jarvis went silent for a little while until he spoke once more. "Sir, I have found a new number for Briana Woodrough. Her name also brings up a newspaper article and a mention on the local news about a court case. Would you like all of the information?"
"Yes, I need to know everything right now." Tony said urgently.
A nearby tv screen popped up once Tony sat on his couch, airing the news broadcast.
"Tonight on the ten o'clock news we bring you the latest. A young woman was found beaten tonight outside of a local club called Nextdoor. She has chosen to not give a statement but her injuries are non life threatening and she was taken to Memorial Hospital. This is the sketch that was drawn of the man that attacked her and he is still at large for assault and suspected rape. The woman has been identified as known Stark Industries PR associate Briana Woodrough. If you have any leads, as always contact the local NYPD."
Tony watched the newscast in shock. Once it was over, he stood up and started walking towards the door. "Jarvis, have my car brought around. Find Bree's exact location right now and send it to my GPS." He fretted then walked outside. When the car was brought around to the front, Tony climbed in and instantly began driving towards Bree's home.
Once he arrived, Tony parked his car in the parking garage that belonged to Bree's apartment complex, hurried to her door and knocked. "Bree, it's Tony. Let me in." He called out, his voice urgent.
The harsh sound made Bree jump and look at the door. "Tony?" she murmured. Bree stared at the door for a few moments then let out a breath of air she held before she slowly got up, keeping the blanket wrapped around her body, and answered the door. As soon as she met his eyes, her own watered. "Tony."
Without a word, Tony pulled Bree into a tight hug. "Come on, I'm taking you back to my place. I can guarantee your safety there." He said softly.
"What about my things?" Bree murmured as she clutched to the fabric of his shirt with one hand and the blanket with the other. She leaned back a little, feeling something digging into her chest. "Are you wearing jewelry?"
"What things do you want to bring?" Tony asked curiously. "As for that, I will explain later." He promised.
Bree turned and looked at her small apartment. "My phone... some clothes, maybe some other bathroom stuff." She looked back up at Tony, still clinging to him. "How did you find me? I moved from my other place."
"Jarvis found you. Do you want me to help you pack some things?" Tony offered.
"S-sure." Bree reluctantly let go of Tony and stepped to the side so he could fully walk into her apartment. "It's good to see you," she added as she pulled the blanket tight around her again.
"It's good to see you again as well. I kept thinking about you. It kept me sane." Tony admitted.
Bree walked over to her hallway closet and retrieved a duffel bag, then slowly walked into her bedroom to pack a few things. "When I never heard from you, I thought you'd stood me up at first," she admitted. "But then it came on the news, what happened."
Tony followed Bree, staying protectively close. "I never would have stood you up. Trust me, I would have much rather been here with you."
"When I think back on it, I wish I talked you into postponing the demo. Then nothing would have happened." Bree sniffled and wiped her eyes with her blanket, then continued to pack. If he sees me... all of me... he'll never think of me the same.
Tony watched as Bree gathered the last few items into her bag with a scowl on his face. He stepped up behind her and pulled Bree into another hug. "I'm sorry I wasn't here to protect you."
Bree smiled and placed her hands on Tony's arms, that rested around her waist. "It's not your fault Tony."
"I feel like it is. If I had just stayed here, you would have been safe." Tony said softly.
"Don't blame yourself," Bree said softly. She looked down to see the blanket had moved to show most of her arms and it made her grimace. A long line of still healing skin marred her right arm from the knife of her attacker. At least I don't have stitches anymore.
Tony glanced down then pulled the blanket round Bree again. "When you're ready." He told her, wanting her to be comfortable.
Bree sniffled and nodded. "I just need to change clothes."
"Listen to me, I'm here for anything you need. I won't try to rush you, I just want you to know that you're safe with me." Tony promised her. "I will be right outside the bedroom door." He assured, then walked out to give her privacy to change.
To think I thought he stood me up. Here he is being my shining prince, coming to rescue me. What's left of me. Bree sighed and let the blanket fall from her shoulders so she could toss it on the bed. She turned and rummaged through her closet to find a t- shirt and a hoodie, then got a pair of sweats out of her dresser. When she turned and saw herself in the mirror, Bree couldn't help but hold back tears at seeing the pink lines on both of her arms and the fading bruises. She knew more were beneath the night shirt she wore, so she turned away while she changed, not wanting to see herself.
When Bree came out of her room, holding her duffle, she saw Tony was sitting on her couch, watching tv. "Tony? I'm ready when you are."
Tony looked up when Bree came into the room, then stood up and walked over to her. "I will go grab your bags then we can go."
"I only have this one," Bree said, motioning to her duffle. "If I need more clothes, I can always come back. I don't want to intrude."
"You aren't intruding at all. Do you want to pack more before we go?" Tony asked as he gently took the duffle from her.
"I have enough for a few days," Bree answered.
"Alright. If you need anything else, we can either come back or just buy it." Tony promised. He held his hand out, hoping Bree would accept and take his hand, then smiled as she gently grasped it before he led her out of her apartment.
"I'm guessing... you found out?" Bree asked as they made it to Tony's car.
"I did. I had Jarvis found the medical reports and I looked at them on the way over." Tony admitted.
"You did?" Bree asked. "What for?" She asked as she climbed in the car.
"I tried to call you and your number was disconnected. That worried me." Tony explained. He closed her door, then walked around and climbed into the driver seat. In only a moment, he had them on the road.
"The... the NYPD advised me to have it changed just in case," Bree answered. "I also lost my PR job because I haven't had the energy to go in."
Tony glanced over at Bree in disbelief while he drove. "Who signed your termination letter?"
"I'm not really sure. All I got was an automated phone call. But to be honest, I just didn't go back after everything happened," Bree replied.
"I will find out. In the meantime, Stark Industries is moving in a new direction and you have your job. It will be waiting when you're ready." Tony promised Bree.
"That's sweet of you Tony," Bree replied. "I'm not quite sure when that will be though. I'm not really myself."
"Take your time. I can arrange any physical or mental health care you need." Tony replied.
"Having you is enough right now," Bree murmured. "I know it's just a casual thing between us, if that's still a thing, but I've missed you."
"I've missed you too. You were my first call. The last three months have been hell, and it's your company that I wanted." Tony told Bree.
Bree felt her eyes water as she reached across the console of the car to grasp onto Tony's free hand. "Thank you... for coming for me."
"Thank you for letting me help. Maybe we can help each other through all of this." Tony suggested, giving her hand a squeeze.
"I like the sound of that," Bree replied quietly.
Bree woke up with a scream on her lips, looking around the room in a panic, until she realized she was in Tony's living room, laying on his couch. I'm at Tony's. I'm safe. She sighed and rubbed her tired eyes before she looked at the clock. "Three in the morning... might as well get up and drink some water," she mumbled.
Tony hurried from bed and down the stairs to check on Bree. "Are you alright?" He asked as soon as the living room came into view.
"I'm okay," Bree responded as she poured a small amount of milk into a glass. "It was a nightmare."
"I wish you would come sleep in my room. I meant it when I said it was free of any expectations." Tony said truthfully as he walked into the kitchen.
"I don't want to keep you awake Tony. I really don't sleep well... honestly I hardly sleep," Bree replied. She met his eyes and gave him a tiny smile, knowing he could see her arms in the light she had turned on above the stove.
"I'm not comparing trauma here, so don't take it that way. But after what I went through, I don't sleep well either. I thought maybe holding you might help us both." Tony told her, then caught sight of her scars. I wish I could help her more, but I won't make her uncomfortable.
Bree put her glass in the sink, then walked up to Tony before she wrapped her arms around his waist. "That sounds nice," she said softly.
"I will be up early to work on a project, but a good night's sleep is always nice." Tony said, holding Bree close to him.
"I don't mind trying to go back to sleep," Bree agreed. "I feel safe with you."
"Come on then, let's go." Tony released her from the hug and took her hand so they could walk upstairs.
Bree followed Tony upstairs and into his bedroom. Upon seeing his giant bed, she smiled, remembering the times they had together. "This feels good. I like having good memories to think about for once." She sat on the edge of the bed, then turned and laid down.
"Hopefully the rest of the night will be good." Tony agreed. He walked over to the bed and laid down on his side, where the blankets had already been pulled back, then pulled the blanket over him. "Get under the blanket with me."
Bree shuffled around before she snuggled beneath the blanket. "Thank you for letting me come here Tony."
"I came over to get you the moment I knew something had happened." Tony told Bree. "Is it alright if we cuddle?"
"Sure," Bree whispered, then scooted up to Tony and into his waiting arms. As soon as he was embracing her, she felt herself relax against him. I haven't felt this calm and relaxed since what happened.
"This is nice." Tony said softly. I've missed having you in my arms.
"Very nice," Bree agreed as she snuggled against Tony's chest with a small sigh, then winced at the hardness she felt against her arm, causing her to move back slightly. When she opened her eyes in the pitch black room, she was instantly drawn to the blue glow on his chest. "I'm sorry," she murmured.
"It's alright. It won't hurt you." Tony promised Bree.
Bree slowly reached up and ran her finger along the cool metal circle, realizing it was connected to Tony. "What is it?"
"It's an arc reactor. It's keeping me alive." Tony answered quietly.
"That's... a lot to take in," Bree admitted. She slowly ran her finger along the skin surrounding the reactor and felt Tony flinch. "I didn't mean to hurt you."
"You're fine, it's just still healing. It was quite the operation to go through." Tony said simply. "Do yours still hurt?"
"My arms don't," Bree answered. "But my side stays sore. That injury was... a bit worse."
"You have some nerve damage, but it looks like it will heal. It just takes considerably longer." Tony explained. "I don't want you lifting anything too heavy. That will slow the healing process."
Bree chuckled and tilted her head so she could meet his eyes in the dark, only able to see them because of the reactor. "Are you my doctor now?" She asked softly.
"No, I'm your recovery specialist." Tony chuckled. "I'm here for the heavy lifting."
"I'm okay with that," Bree said softly. She reached up, cupped the side of his face and caressed his cheek with her thumb.
Tony leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to Bree's lips. "I really have missed you."
"I've missed you too," Bree whispered, then kissed him once more. "So much."
"Get some sleep, alright? You look like you could use a good sleep." Tony encouraged, wanting Bree to get some much needed rest.
Bree held back a yawn and nodded. She snuggled against him, making sure she had some sort of skin on skin contact, putting her arm around his waist, beneath his shirt.
Tony tightened his arm around Bree. "Sweet dreams." He said softly. Sweet dreams for us both.
Bree woke the following morning as everything that happened the night before rushed back to her mind. She looked around the bedroom, thinking she was alone, only to realize there was a heavy arm tightly wound around her waist.
"Good morning." Tony said softly, already awake. "How did you sleep?"
"Better," Bree replied as she rolled over to face him. "What about you?"
"That was the best sleep I've had since... well, the night before I left." Tony answered, thinking back.
"It seems like we benefit each other then." Bree rubbed Tony's back slowly, letting her fingers trail over a small scar she found.
"We do. I want you to stay here with me for now." Tony said truthfully.
"For how long?" Bree asked as she continued her ministrations. "I don't want to be in your way Tony."
"As long as needed, as long as you want. You won't be in the way." Tony promised.
Bree smiled and pecked his lips. "Fine. If you're okay with having me, then I'll stay."
"I would like to have your company. My new company direction is already being criticized, and I need a friendly face." Tony replied. "Breakfast?"
"New direction?" Bree asked. She sat up and stretched her arms above her head, letting her night shirt ride up. "Breakfast sounds good."
Tony tapped the arc reactor through his shirt. "We aren't designing weapons anymore. I will be working on a new energy program, as well as a different project. I can take you to the garage after breakfast and show you, if you want." He offered.
"You have me intrigued." Bree watched as Tony got up and put on a pair of jeans. "What did you want to eat?"
"I have some eggs and bacon in the kitchen, or I can have something delivered. Whatever you want." Tony told Bree.
"Eggs and bacon sound lovely. I can help you cook if you want," Bree replied as she climbed out of bed.
"I didn't know you could cook. Yes. We can cook together." Tony agreed.
"Yes, I can cook. It's good to know how when you normally live alone," Bree said. She walked out of the bedroom, then downstairs towards the kitchen.
Tony followed Bree down and into the kitchen and started taking out the ingredients they would need. "I'm excited to try your cooking," he admitted.
"I'm glad. I like cooking for people," Bree replied as she placed a skillet on the stove.
"I haven't cooked for many people yet, so I can't promise how good it will be." Tony chuckled. He took out a bowl and began cracking eggs into it.
Bree grabbed bacon strips and laid them out on the skillet, then got in the fridge to add a bit of butter to it. "I haven't cooked for anyone in quite a while. I really don't have any family around here, or really any friends honestly."
"You can cook for me any time you like. It's not a favorite pastime of mine," Tony said.
"I can do that," Bree commented. "It'll be better than getting take-out all of the time." She checked the bacon with a fork, then leaned against the kitchen counter.
"What's wrong with takeout?" Tony joked. He added everything to the bowl to make scrambled omelets and began mixing it.
"Nothing," Bree chuckled. "But nothing beats homemade food." She flipped the bacon over, doing her best to prevent getting popped on by grease.
"That's very true." Tony agreed. "I can't cook good enough to give that home cooked meal feeling though." He said, then found the skillet he needed for the eggs.
Bree smiled over at Tony and watched as Tony turned on the burner and poured the egg mixture into the skillet. I've never seen Tony be so domestic. I think I like this. She turned to the fridge and got out the milk before she turned and added a little to the eggs before she put the carton back. "I can help with that."
"If you think you can make better eggs, go for it." Tony chuckled, not minding at all.
"Just keep stirring then with a spoon and you'll be good," Bree answered. She checked on the bacon and put finished pieces on a plate before she added new ones. Then she came up behind Tony and wrapped her arms around his waist.
Tony smiled to himself when he felt Bree's embrace. "How's the bacon coming along?" It feels different with her. More than just the usual fling.
"I'm on the second batch. How much do you want?" Bree asked.
"Unless you want more, I think two batches should be fine." Tony replied. "My appetite comes and goes still."
Bree nodded and placed a kiss to Tony's back before she reluctantly let go of him and went back to tending to the bacon. "How long have you been back?"
"I came back yesterday. I was pushed into a press conference, then I came home. I tried to call you as soon as I got back here, when the number was disconnected, I had Jarvis look into why and then I came to get you." Tony explained, laying out the full timeline for her.
"I guess both of us are in dire need of relaxing. I can't imagine the stress," Bree replied.
"I do have a hot tub, if you're interested in an evening soak." Tony offered.
Bree smiled as she moved the cooked bacon onto a plate with the rest of them then turned off the burner. "That sounds tempting," she replied.
"It sounds tempting to me too." Tony agreed, flashing a small smile. He finished cooking the eggs, then scooped them out onto a plate.
"Then we can make it a date," Bree answered, then widened her eyes once she realized what she'd said. "Um... I'm sorry."
"It's a date." Tony agreed. He picked up the plates and carried them over to the dining table. "Can you grab some forks?"
"Sure." Bree opened a couple of drawers until she found the silverware, grabbed a couple of forks, then followed Tony to the dining table and sat across from him. "So... you're okay with a date? Even if it's not leaving the house?"
"Why wouldn't I be? House dates can be even better at times." Tony replied. He took a piece of bacon and took a bite.
"Normally you're not a date person, that's why I asked,'' Bree said. She took a bite of her eggs and smiled. "You can make good eggs."
"I know I'm not, but I've learned a few things in my absence." Tony explained. "Thank you." He said, then took a bite of the eggs.
"You're welcome Tony," Bree replied. She quickly finished her plate, realizing just how hungry she was.
Tony picked at his food until he finally finished it, then he stood and began to clean up. "You made the perfect bacon."
"Thank you." Bree watched as Tony stacked empty plates. "Do you want me to help? Then you can show me this new project."
"You relax, it's not that much to clean up. Then I will show you the new project." Tony promised. He carried the plates over to the sink and started washing them.
Bree decided to follow Tony and leaned against the kitchen counter. "I'm curious to see it. I've never seen your lab."
"Not many get to see my lab. I don't want anyone else seeing what I'm currently working on. You will be the only one trusted with that secret." Tony told Bree.
"That's... special. Are you sure Tony?"
"Can I trust you to keep the secret?" Tony asked curiously.
"Of course. I don't have anyone I could tell," Bree said honestly.
"You are the head of my PR department so you have plenty of people to tell." Tony chuckled, only joking.
Bree scoffed and shook her head but still smiled. "That's not my title anymore."
"Yes it is. I told you things are changing." Tony said, being serious.
"You still want me to work for you?" Bree asked. "Even if I'm... damaged?"
"Would you still want to work for me, knowing I've been damaged?" Tony asked, reversing it on her.
Bree stopped Tony from washing dishes and took one of his hands so he would look at her. "Tony, I don't see damage when I look at you. I see someone who's become stronger after what's happened to them."
"Why do you think I would see anything different in you?" He asked her softly.
"Because I don't feel stronger. I feel weaker," Bree murmured. "That... the person that attacked me. They were so close to getting what they wanted." Bree shook her head as tears welled in her eyes. "They hurt me in a way nobody should have to feel."
Tony wrapped his arms around Bree and held her close. "You are still here. That alone makes you strong."
Bree sighed once Tony's arms were tight around her, feeling safe in his arms. "Here lately there are times when I don't know if I want to be here," she whispered.
"But you're still here even when you haven't wanted to be. I promise it's going to get better and I will do everything I can to help you." Tony promised.
"Thank you Tony," Bree whispered. "That's all I can ask for. I feel safe with you."
"You will always be safe with me." Tony assured Bree.
Bree looked up at Tony and smiled before she leaned up and gave him a lingering kiss. "Are dishes done?" She asked softly.
Tony returned her kiss then nodded. "They are. Let's go see my project."
"Lead the way Mr. Stark," Bree replied sweetly.
Tony took Bree's hand and led her downstairs to his lab. Unlocking the door, he led her in and took her over to his plans for the new suit. "This is what I'm working on."
Bree looked at the chrome suit with wide eyes. "It's... pretty amazing. Do you fit in this?"
"Yes, it will fit me. I can go back and destroy that camp with this suit." Tony said softly.
"Camp?" Bree asked, Turing to face Tony once more.
"The camp that held me prisoner. They are mercenaries with massive weapon hoards." Tony explained, keeping his eyes on the plans.
Bree frowned. "I'm sorry Tony. I didn't mean to pry."
"It's not you Bree, you're fine. It was eye opening to see how many of my weapons they have. Someone is selling to them, off the books." Tony told her.
"No, this would be someone on my team that is betraying me and selling the weapons directly to mercenaries." Tony explained.
Bree furrowed her brow and sat in a nearby chair. "I can't think of anyone that would want to do that."
"I will find out and I will deal with them." Tony said, full of conviction.
"We'll figure it out Tony," Bree replied just as a knock sounded on the lab door. She turned to see Pepper standing on the other side with a clipboard in hand.
"You changed the password!" Pepper called.
"Jarvis, open the door." Tony said, then turned to Pepper. "I've changed a lot of things." He told her.
Pepper looked at Bree then back at Tony. "Collecting pets now?"
Bree narrowed her eyes. She is such a bitch.
"Don't cross that line." Tony warned Pepper sternly. "Do you need something?"
"Touchy much? I need your signature on a few things. There's an event coming up in a few weeks, but you're not required to attend," Pepper said stiffly.
"Leave everything for me and I will look over it. I'm not signing anything without reading it anymore." Tony replied firmly.
Pepper sighed and rolled her eyes before she sat the clipboard on Tony's desk. "I get that. I'm going back to the office, don't have too much fun down here."
"I will bring the papers to you when I've finished with them." Tony said, giving Pepper a confused look. What is this attitude about?
"Thank you Mr. Stark. I will see you when you can make it to the office." Pepper smiled at Tony, then turned and left the lab.
Tony sighed and turned back to Bree. "I'm sorry about her, I'm not sure what that was about."
Bree rotated back and forth in the chair. "I don't think she likes me."
"She doesn't like anyone really. I think she might be jealous." Tony said.
"Why would Pepper be jealous of me?" Bree asked. "I'm not anyone special." shrug.
"Except that you are special." Tony corrected Bree. "She doesn't get the level of attention that you get."
Bree chuckled and smiled a true smile. "You can be really charming when you want to be."
"Promise you won't tell anyone? If everyone finds out I'm charming, all the ladies will be after me." Tony chuckled.
Bree stood and walked up to Tony so she could wrap her arms around his neck. "I won't. I'd like to keep you for myself... if that's okay."
Tony hesitated for a moment, nervous about making a commitment. "It's fine with me." He quickly replied.
"I don't want to push you Tony," Bree whispered. "We can go slow."
Tony nodded. "Slow would be good, but I do want to try."
"I like the sound of that," Bree said softly as she caressed the back of his neck.
Tony leaned in and gave Bree a soft kiss. "Do you want to help me build the suit?"
Bree's eyes widened. "You want me to help?"
"Of course I do. You will be helping once I'm using it as well." Tony told her.
"What do you want me to do?" Bree asked. She looked over at the suit with curious eyes.
"Right now, just get things I need." Tony said, not sure what he would have her do yet, but knowing he wanted her company.
Bree chuckled. "I can do that, and you can pay me in kisses."
Tony grinned and stole a quick kiss. "I like that form of payment."
"I do too," Bree agreed, then pulled Tony back down to her level to give him a lingering kiss.
Tony returned her kiss, wrapping his arms around her. "Ready to get to work?"
Bree ran her fingers through the back of Tony's hair. "I'm ready when you are Mr. Stark.