A/N: Hello everyone! I'm sorry about the long delay for this chapter, I've had a lot on my plate and it hasn't all be that great. I do hope you all enjoy this chapter and that it was worth the wait! Also, please forgive any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors that I may have missed.
Tony was exhausted by the time he finally made it back to the mansion. Ruby had been right, he had been caught out by the military and had to try and cover himself up with her Uncle Rhodey. He messed that one up big time, he wasn't good a lying to his best friend, especially since he was more concerned about getting home to his daughter.
He had been shot at, they had tried to blow him out of the sky, and then he had been attacked by some fighter jets. It had all been going well, until he was ready to zoom home. He ended up having to save one of the pilots from one of the fighter jets, since he had to use the emergence eject after being hit by accident and his parachute failed to open.
The only good thing to have come out of it was the fact that he had managed to destroy a whole hoard of Stark Industries weapons that were in the hands of terrorists, and as an added bonus, he had managed to get Rhodey slightly more interested in what he was up to. But now, now he was worried about his daughter.
Happy had taken her to her room, and tucked her up in bed. Tony had watched the video feed and found it rather amusing how the big guy was being so gentle and affectionate with Ruby. It was a whole new side to his favourite bodyguard that he had never seen before. The old Tony would have tormented Happy about it, calling him a big softie and the likes, but not anymore, he had more respect for the man now, and he was looking after his daughter.
Now that he was standing on the platform in the workshop, with several robotic arms all trying to take the suit apart and get it off him, he was worried how Ruby was going to react. He had a feeling that she was going to be more than just a little angry at what he had done, drugging her to make sure she got some sleep.
"Okay, come on guys, let's get this done." He said, standing there as the robots tugged away and tried to get him out of the suit. "JARVIS, how's Ruby doing?"
"She should be waking up shortly, sir." His AI replied, having been keeping a close eye on the young Stark. "Sir, please keep still."
"Yeah, hey! Ow!" Tony cried, the mechanical arms really tugging at him now. "Careful." He wasn't exactly pleased with how rough they were being with him, although it really wasn't their fault.
He was too busy to notice the figure that was heading down the stairs, which stopped to stare at the broken glass that covered the floor. He was still moaning at the fact that he was being pulled around. "It's a tight fit, Sir." JARVIS pointed out to him. "Sir, the more you struggle, the more this is going to hurt."
"Be gentle. This is my first time." He said, as Pepper stepped through the broken window and into the workshop. "I designed this to come off, so… ow! Hey! I really should be able to…" He was just being pulled around even more now, bending backwards as the machines tried to do their job.
"Please, try not to move, Sir." SWAIN ended up calling out, both of the AIs now getting rather frustrated with the man.
Pepper had just been standing there, watching what was going on, and with a confused look on her face. "What's going on here?"
Tony stopped struggling, and turned to look at the woman. "Let's face it. This is not the worst thing you've caught me doing." He told her, before remembering that both JARVIS and SWAIN had heard that. "And you two, do not let Ruby know I said that, she just doesn't need to know things like that."
But that was when Pepper noticed something. "Are those bullet holes?"
Before Tony could reply, SWAIN was speaking. "Sir, Miss Matthews-Stark is awake, and heading your way."
Tony's eyes widened. "Uh, please tell me that she isn't armed?" He was slightly worried that she was going to be angry with him and come after him with the baseball bat, again.
"I am afraid I cannot do that, Sir." SWAIN replied, knowing that Ruby was absolutely furious and heading down to the workshop with her baseball bat in her hand.
Now he knew that he really was in trouble, and Pepper was just standing there looking at him, wondering what the hell was going on. "Okay… Okay, uh, you might want to get out of here, Pepper, this is about to get really messy." He warned her, not wanting her to see how angry his daughter was with him, or how violent she could really be.
But she stayed exactly where she was. "Tony, what the hell is going on?" She asked him, wanting to get some answers.
"Seriously, now really isn't the time. Just go wait for me upstairs or something, trust me, you do not want to be here when Ruby gets here." He really was worried about how Ruby was going to react. Of course, he knew that she wasn't going to be happy with him, and he had expected her to shout and scream at him, and possibly make a few threats, but this was a little more serious.
"Not until you tell me what is going on, Tony." Pepper was standing her ground, like she had to do a lot more recently. Since Ruby had appeared in both their lives, Pepper Potts has had to be a lot firmer with Tony Stark, especially when she wanted to get answers out of him.
Before he could tell her anything about what had happened, he saw Ruby heading into the workshop, her bare feet being cut by the shards of glass that covered the floor. Both he and Pepper watched as she walked over to one of his cars, her bat hanging at her side. She suddenly raised it up, and swung it. "No, no, no! Not the red one!" Tony ended up crying, as she whacked his beloved red sports car with the bat.
There was fury burning in Ruby's eyes, and she took another swing at the car. The bat made contact, and smashed the windscreen, before she went and hit the car again, and again. All Tony could do was watch as she smashed one of his cars to bits. He knew there was nothing he could do to stop her, he just had to wait for her to get it all out of her system.
Pepper was standing there in pure shock at what she was seeing. The woman had never seen Ruby be so violent before, she had no idea what Tony had done to her, and she had no idea of what had happened to cause the younger Stark to act like that. However, it was clear from the look on her face that she was far from impressed with what was going on in front of her.
Finally, Ruby stopped, satisfied with her handy work and that fact that the car was battered and beaten, and basically nothing more than a heap of metal now. "Be glad that it was your stupid car. I swear, the next person that drugs me like that, I'm going for their head with this bat." She spat at her father.
"Okay, you going to calm down now?" Tony asked her, only now realising that while he had been watching his daughter, the robots had managed to completely dismantle the suit.
To answer his question, she gave the car another wallop with the baseball bat. "What do you think?" Ruby growled at him, clearly still rather annoyed with him.
"Ruby, honey, I'm sorry. And do you know what? I don't care about the car, you had every right to smash it to pieces." He told her, trying to calm her down, to get her to talk to him and forgive him. "But you know exactly why I had to do it. You've not been sleeping, you're making yourself sick again, honey. There was no way that you were going to listen to me, you're too damn stubborn, just like your mother."
"Don't you dare bring her into this." Ruby hissed at her father. "I know how much like my mom I am, I don't need you to tell me."
Pepper couldn't take it any more, she needed to know what she had missed and what Tony had done to cause Ruby to be so angry with him. "Tony, what did you do?" There was a hint of anger in her voice as she spoke to him.
But it wasn't Tony that answered her. "He tricked me, he tricked me into thinking he needed my help when all he really wanted to do was drug me." Ruby told her, glaring at her father the whole time.
"Hey, now come on, I didn't drug you." Tony protested, while Pepper looked at him with her mouth hanging open. "It was just something to help you sleep."
"That is still classed as drugging me!" Ruby shouted at him, really starting to lose her temper now. "I am sick of people drugging me, thinking that it's better if I just go to sleep, just to keep me out of the way."
"Ruby, it was not like that, and you know it." Now Tony was starting to get a little riled up. "I know that you haven't been sleeping at night, I've seen it. The other night, you ended up coming to me because you couldn't sleep. You're still not eating properly, and I am not going to just stand here and watch you make yourself ill again."
That was when Ruby lost it even more. "And what about you?" She shouted, tears now starting to sting in her eyes. "You sleep just as little as I do, but hey, that's okay, because you're Tony Stark and the world is always at your feet! You can do whatever you want, because you're Tony Stark, but me? No, I'm just some stupid little kid who is always getting in everyone's way." She was so sick of her father telling her to do things when he was doing the exact opposite. He barely slept as it was, and he was always on her back about her sleeping.
"This isn't about me, Ruby, and I did not do that to keep you out of the way. I have never thought of you as some kid getting in the way, because you're not." Tony told her firmly, really not liking the way that she was speaking to him. "You have got to stop thinking like this, honey. Look, I know it was stupid and I probably shouldn't have done it, but it's only because I care about you."
Pepper was still slightly lost, although she did understand that Tony had decided to drug his daughter to get her to sleep. She would agree that Ruby did need more sleep, but it really was the wrong way to go about helping her to get that. What she would also agree with was what Ruby said about Tony also needing sleep.
"What, like you care about yourself?" Her anger was starting to fade a little now, but that was only because of how upset she was getting. It also didn't help that she still hadn't eaten anything, and she knew that her blood sugar was seriously low. "What if something had happened? What if something had happened to you out there? You had me knocked out, I wasn't there to help if something went wrong."
Tony had expected her to come out with something like that, and he was ashamed to admit that he really had needed her help when he had been out there and got caught out by the military. If it hadn't been for Rhodey, he really would have been in some deep trouble. "Ruby, come on…"
She shook her head at him, just as the first wave fell. "Don't, just… don't." She said to him, before turning away from him and walking across the broken glass once more, not caring that it was cutting her feet again.
"Ruby, please, will you just let me explain." Tony called to her, ready to chase after her only to be stopped by Pepper putting a hand on his arm. "I need to talk to her, Pep, I need her to understand."
"No, Tony, you need to leave her alone and let her calm down. I don't even blame her for being so upset with you, what you did was not okay." She told him, making sure that he understood that there was no way she was going to let him get away with what he had just done to his daughter. She was going to give him absolute hell for it. "I'm not saying that what she has just done is okay, but I can see why she is so upset."
He hadn't really expected Miss Potts to side with his daughter, but after what he had just seen from Ruby, he could understand why she would be worried about her. "Pepper, it really isn't a bad as you think. She hasn't been sleeping properly, she was refusing to eat as well, I just wanted her to get some rest."
Pepper simply frowned at him. "And drugging her was the best way to do that, was it?" She was far from impressed. "I have no idea what is going on with you both lately. I know a lot has happened, but maybe it's time that you got some professional help, especially for Ruby."
Tony looked at his assistant with wide eyes. "No. She doesn't need any professional help, and neither do I. That girl has been to hell and back, talking it out with some complete stranger is not going to do her any good at all." Ruby had already had to cope with so much already, he wasn't going to make her talk about it all with someone, especially when he knew she wouldn't want to.
"So you don't care how violent she is? Tony, have you seen what she has done to your car?" Pepper Potts really was annoyed with her boss and there was no way that she was ready to back down. Something was seriously wrong, and she needed to do something to help. "She needs to talk to someone, all of those things that happened to her, everything you both went through, it's too much for her."
All Tony did was shake his head at her. "Nope, not going to happen. If Ruby wanted to go and see a shrink then she would have said something already. She's got plenty of friends that she can talk to, she does not need professional help." He was going to stand his ground, he was not going to let Pepper take control of the situation.
Instead, Pepper let out a sigh, knowing she as going to have to talk to Ruby herself. "Maybe you should ask her yourself, and not just assume." She told him, before heading out of the workshop, carefully stepping over the broken glass, and making her way up the stairs. "JARVIS, where's Ruby?" She asked the AI, heading into the kitchen to collect something.
"She is in her room. It would appear that she has some shards of glass in her feet and is in the process of trying to remove them." Once again, Pepper let out a sigh, and she grabbed a box from under the sink.
With the box in her hand, she made her way to Ruby's room, knocking gently on the door when she made it there. "Hey, Ruby? Can I come in?" She heard a few muffled words, before the young Stark called for her to come in. The first thing Pepper saw was the white bath towel on the bed, which had a fair amount of red blotches on it now.
"I… uh, I think I was a little stupid." She told the woman as she used her nails to try and pull some more pieces of glass from the bottom of her feet.
Pepper stepped over to the bed and sat down on the edge, opening the box she had brought with her. "Just a little." She replied, giving Ruby a small smile. "Here, let me do that." With a pair of tweezers in her hand, Pepper began to carefully tug at the tiny parts of glass. "Ruby, what was that really all about, because it wasn't just what your father has done, was it?"
Ruby kept her mouth shut to stop from a squeal coming out as Pepper pretty much yanked the shard from her foot. "He drugged me, Pepper, he wasn't even here and he drugged me. He had it all planned, he had everything ready for it, he even had Happy here, ready and waiting for it." She told aunt, while the woman carefully attacked the glass with the tweezers. "Why would he even do that to me?"
"Well, maybe you should have just spoken to him instead of just taking a baseball bat and smashing up one of your fathers cars." Pepper told her, still working away at getting all the glass out of Ruby's feet. There was actually more lodged in there than she had first thought. "You need to start talking to us more, Ruby, you can't keep everything bottled up all the time."
"I'm fine, Pepper, I don't need to talk anything out." Ruby said, flinching a little. "I'm doing okay with everything, I really am, it's just… I got angry with him, it was either smash up his car or beat the hell out of him." She knew that she really would have started taking a few swings at her father if she hadn't grabbed the bat first and headed for the car instead. He really was lucky that she hadn't gone for him.
Pepper didn't really believe her, but she knew that Ruby was going to be stubborn and stick to her story, so she kept herself quiet now. She was worried about both of Tony and Ruby, they were acting oddly, and constantly keeping themselves busy in the workshop. There was more going on, she just knew there was.
"Okay, this is going to sting a little." Pepper warned, before dabbing a cloth covered in antiseptic against the sole one of Ruby's feet. She expected her to flinch, or at least hiss at the pain, but Ruby just sat there on her bed, a blank expression on her face. "Ruby?"
The young Stark blinked several times and looked at Pepper, who was just staring at her. "Huh? Yeah?"
"Ruby, are you sure everything is okay?" The woman asked her once more. She wasn't ready to give up asking her just yet, just on the off chance that Ruby might lower her defences just enough to let Pepper in.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Everything is fine, Auntie Pepper." Ruby knew that was one way to sweeten the mood with her, to call her auntie. "I guess I'm just stressed out still, it's making me a little crazy. Plus the fact that he has grounded me really hasn't helped matters."
"Just promise me that you will talk to me, okay, Ruby? I am always here for you, no matter what time of day or night. Okay?" Those words really did make Ruby feel a little guilty. Pepper was always so good to her, she had done everything to make her feel comfortable when she first moved in. It was Pepper who made sure the stuff that she wanted was shipped over and everything else put into storage. Pepper was the one who was constantly on Tony's back to make sure the Ruby had everything she needed, and Ruby was keeping things from her, and her father.
The only thing that Ruby could do was nod at her. "I promise, Pep." She knew that Pepper was only trying to help, to be kind and caring, and Ruby wasn't going to keep pushing her away because she was just too stubborn.
Pepper smiled at her, and carried on dealing with Ruby's feet. With all the glass finally out of it, and all of the cuts covered with antiseptic, all that was left for her to do was to bandage them up. Ruby didn't even bother to protest when she got the bandages out and started wrapping them around her feet. "You need to be really careful, Ruby. Watch where you're walking, but it would help if you didn't walk around too much at all."
"I know, I'm sorry. I was just so angry with him, I just didn't care, I didn't think. I knew the glass was there, but it didn't even register until the adrenalin had faded." She wouldn't admit it, but her feet really were hurting. When Pepper had been putting the antiseptic on it really had been stinging, but she acted as if she couldn't feel a thing.
"How about I go get you something to eat, Chinese maybe?" The moment Pepper suggest that, Ruby's face fell. Her father had promised her that they would get takeout when he was back, and she had really been looking forward to it. But she doubted that was going to happen now, not after what she had just done.
She realised that she really needed to start controlling her anger better, because it she was letting it out way too much. Ruby was ready to have a call from Fury, telling her that she needed to cool off or something. "Uh, actually, I'm good." Ruby told her, obviously lying. "I mean, I'm not really that hungry right now. Maybe… maybe in an hour or so." Right now she just wanted to be left alone so that she could pull herself together. She knew she was going to have to apologise to her father, even though she really didn't want to, and she needed to work out what she was going to say to him, without getting angry again.
Pepper just nodded at her and left her alone, taking the medical box with her. Of course she didn't believe that Ruby was fine, but she knew not to push the youngster into talking to her, or into doing something that she didn't want to.
After putting the box back where she had gotten it from, she headed back down to the workshop, where Tony was sitting at his desk, staring at a blank screen. She noticed that Dummy, one of Tony's little robots, was cleaning up the broken glass, and he stopped to let Pepper get past.
"She's okay. I managed to get all of the glass out of her feet and bandaged them up, but she doesn't seem to want to eat anything." The woman told her boss, wondering what was going on in that head of his. Sometimes it was easy to know what he was thinking, but since Ruby had come into his left, it was a lot harder.
"Uh, yeah. I… uh, I promised her we'd get takeout when I got back." He had noticed his daughter's reaction when Pepper asked her if she wanted to get Chinese, he had been listening on the pair.
"Well then, maybe you should go and talk to her." Pepper told him, before walking off, her heels clicking against the floor as she went. She had work to do, but she didn't feel like going to the office or home to do it, not until she knew that both Tony and Ruby were going to be all right.
Tony simply let out a sigh as he rested his head in his hands. He knew why Ruby had been so upset with him, and he really didn't blame her for it. He wasn't going to punish her for destroying one of his cars, he had deserved that, and he wasn't going to give her a lecture. He needed to make it up to her, that was what he needed to do.
He pushed his chair away from the desk and strode over to the empty frame before stepping through it and charging up the stairs. He didn't really know what he was going to say to his daughter, but he was working on it in his head.
One he had reached her room, his hand hovered for a few moments, before he actually mustered the courage to knock. "Hey, uh, you got a minute, honey?" He called through the door, hoping that she wouldn't just send him away.
"Yeah, come in." Ruby's muffled voice called back to him. She had already been expecting him to pay her a visit, she just hoped it would be a little later.
He opened the door to find Ruby sitting on her bed, bandages wrapped around her feet and her phone in her hand. "You okay?" Tony didn't really know what else to say to her, he didn't know what the right thing to say was. She gave him a simple nod as she glanced back down at her phone. "Ruby, I really am sorry, I shouldn't have tricked you like that."
"Whatever." She didn't want to fight with him anymore, she just didn't have the energy for it. She had checked in with SWAIN and JARVIS and they still hadn't found anything, and that was annoying her even more than what her father had done.
"Wait a minute, after that little performance of yours downstairs, all you can say now is 'whatever'?" That wasn't exactly what he had been expecting from his daughter, he had been expecting round two from her, not for her to just brushing him off.
"Yup." Ruby really wasn't in the mood for talking to him, she was still pretty angry with him and knew that it wouldn't take much for her to fight with him if he really pushed it.
Tony just let out a sigh, not really knowing what else he could say to her. "Hey, so how about that takeout then? I did promise that when I got back we would get takeout." He was hoping that she would say yes, because she needed to eat and he wanted to get back into her good books. Being on the wrong side of Ruby was never a good place, and he had learnt that very quickly.
Ruby shrugged her shoulders at him. "Don't care."
"Come on, Ruby, I'm sorry. I know it was wrong, and I really do regret it. You were right, I needed you, and I got into trouble." The moment he said that she glared at him. "You were totally right, I got caught by the military, had two fighter jets after me. I really could have used your help out there."
"You survived, Uncle Rhodey stepped in, didn't need me at all really." It seemed the Ruby had a remark for everything that he said. "You never really need me."
Tony was shocked by what his daughter had just said to him. "Ruby, I always need you, don't you dare think that I don't. I wouldn't have gotten out of the cave if it wasn't for you, I would be dead right now. You are the single most important thing in this world to me, and all I want to do is protect you." Ruby just blinked at him, knowing that her father wasn't usually the emotional type, he didn't generally talk about his feelings or anything like that to her, not to anyone. "I'm still trying to get the hang of all this, honey, I'm still working out what it takes to be a good father, but I am trying, and I am going to get some things wrong."
"Yeah, well you got it wrong, big time." She muttered, knowing that he could hear her.
"I know, and I promise you that it will never, ever, happen again." Tony could see that she was finally calming down, she was starting to turn back into her moody teenage self. He'd rather have moody Ruby around than murderess Ruby. "I'm making mistakes, Ruby, and you got to help me when that happens."
Ruby nodded at him, but didn't say a word. She already knew that taking a baseball bat to his car was not the smartest thing to do, she had just been so angry that he would ever do something like that to her. Maggie had done it to her, Clint had done it to her as well, even though both situations had been slightly different, Ruby still did not appreciate it at all.
"So, how about it then? We get takeout, whatever you want, as long as you eat something." Tony was expecting her to say no to him, but to his surprise she nodded her head, giving him a small smile as she did.
Ruby was still mad at him, he was still worried about her, and Tony knew that nothing was going to be fine until they had found all of those weapons, destroyed them, and discovered who it was who had been dealing under the table in the first place. What he also knew was that he needed to get it done quickly, because it was taking a much bigger toll on his daughter than she would like to admit. She was his main priority, and he was going to do it for her.
A/N: I promise that we will get to the good stuff soon, it is on it's way. I've reopened the poll on my profile in regards to splitting the story or not when it's time to move on to the next movie. I'm leaving it up to the readers to decide.
A big warm welcome to everyone who has favourited/followed the story recently, I hope you all keep on enjoying it just as much. Also, to those special people who take the time to leave a review, thank you all so much. I do enjoy reading your reviews, and it helps me to progress with my writing, so thank you so much.
I've managed to update a total of 4/5 of my stories this week, yay for me! So now it's time to get cracking with the next lot of updates. Until then!