Author's Note: Okay, so here's chapter one. I'll get finishing chapter 2 ASAP…


Chapter One

In hindsight, pepper realised she should've checked for the tell-tale glow of the Arc Reactor before jumping to conclusions. But, she'd been panicking when she'd seen the suit, so it was excusable.

"Pepper?" the voice of Rhodey brought her out of the thoughts in her head and back to the ambulance surrounding her. A paramedic was checking the cuts she'd gained from crawling on the glass with some kind of alcohol that she figured should burn, but she couldn't feel it.

"I'm fine," she replied with a smile. She was fine; Tony was alive. If he wasn't in the suit, then he wasn't dead.

"Pepper," Rhodey started. "Nobody could survive that sort of crash. You saw the suit."

"I did, Rhodey," she was still smiling, "the suit was empty. He wasn't in the suit when it crashed; therefore, he's obviously alive."

With a sad look in his eyes, Rhodey realised that Pepper was in shock. He'd know for a while that her and Tony were close, and knew now that she wasn't going to admit Tony hadn't survived.

"Come on," he said, offering a hand. "I'll take you home."

"No," she argued. "I want to go to Tony's. He needs the place cleaning for when he returns.

Sighing, Rhodey agreed.


Pepper opened the door to Tony's Malibu home, her arms full of metal. She'd insisted on bringing the suit with her, claiming he'd want to try and fix it. Jarvis greeted her upon entry, and opened the door to the workshop upon request. She placed the metal down before leaving, returning upstairs. She took off her jacket and hung git over the sofa.

"Jarvis, some music while I clean, please?"

"Of course, Miss Potts. What would you like?"

"You choose Jarvis – you know what I like."

As the music started, Pepper began to clean. She hovered, polished, neatened up and dusted, ordered food to restock the fridge. When she finished that much sooner than anticipated, she set about organising his CDs, DVDs, and finally his wardrobe. When she'd done that, she rescheduled meeting and sorted through her emails.

"Miss Potts," came Jarvis' voice. "Colonel Rhodes is calling."

"Tell him to go away, I'm busy."

The AI was silent for a moment, before: "He told me to tell you this isn't healthy."

"Well you can tell Colonel Rhodes that when he can show me a degree in medicine that proved he can make a diagnostic such as that, I will speak to him. Ignore any calls from him in future.

"Yes Miss Potts."


It took a whole week fore it really register with Pepper that Tony was missing and not just away. She'd been going about her usual business so far – managing the company, eating, sleeping. But it was today that changed everything.

She'd been making herself a coffee, and then realised that she'd set out two cups. It was such a simple mistake to make, but the weight of it hit her like a ton of bricks. She'd done it everyday and hadn't noticed. She'd made him coffee… had she set out clothes for him too?

With shaking hands, she dropped the spoon she was using to make the coffee, and brought them up to her face, covering the sounds of her crying. Her eyes were shining with tears.

He's gone…

A sob tore through, creating a hole in the dam she'd built up this last week. She fell to her knees as the tears fell, the first since it happened. She felt so far away from him, so lonely. Pepper managed to take herself down to the workshop, thinking she'd feel closer then. But it almost drove her insane. It was too much; he was everywhere down here. He was lying in a chair, asking how big her hands were, he was working on a car, he was tinkering with the suit, and he was sliding along the floor in his chair. The room was so full of him – too full of him that it broke her heart to be in here.

With a cry, she pushed the nearest thing to her; some shelves. Then, she grabbed anything in reach and threw it, screaming all the while.

"Why?" she screamed, throwing something else, relishing in the sound of it crashing. "Why did you take him from me?" With a final sob she stopped, and noticed the mess around her. She noticed that her objects were always directed at one thing – the two remaining suits. She blamed the suit for his disappearance. If he hadn't made the suit, he would never feel the need to "save the world" and then he wouldn't have been gone again.

She staggered from the room as fast as she could.