Truth and Other Promises

August 13, 2014: Pepper comes to get Tony out of the medical wing of Triskelion, then he tells her the truth of what's going on.

Triskelion, then Stark Tower



Mood Music:

The bed they have Tony laid up in is not the kind one finds at the Ritz. It's uncomfortable, small, and he's hooked to a box that sits on his chest like some advanced life support that runs on a magnet. At least there's television right? Just now he's laid with his hands back behind his head and his ankles crossed watching Seinfeld. What is it about old sitcoms, anyways? He really loves them.

Or maybe they're just simple.

Nothing about Tony Stark's world is simple. Like the fact that he's been unable to contact Pepper for the last couple days, though everyone keeps promising him that they'll get in touch with her. He's tried to get a hold of a phone, done everything short of threaten to tear the magnet off his chest…

So he's starting to worry that, either they're not going to, or they did and she's decided to let him stay dead. Neither are very pleasant eventualities, but at least he had company? At least until a little while ago when when they moved Evelyn to another room and left him in here by himself… with nothing but time to think and Seinfeld.


The voice carries, starting almost before the door begins to open.

"Anthony Edward Stark!"

And then Pepper's in the room, and she looks all kinds of simultaneously worried, hysterical, infuriated, and relieved. She rushes across the room to Tony's bedside with one of the SHIELD medics trailing after her. "WHAT were you thinking? No, don't answer that. I know what you were thinking. How can you POSSIBLY be so, so … blase about your own safety?" Oh, yeah. She's had at least a day to think up what she was going to rant at Tony.


Oh yeah, Tony knows that full name being called from a mile away. And like Pepper, he's equal parts frightened and relieved when she comes in through the door. Truth is, she's one of the only people he's wanted to be here the entire time. Seeing her cracks the ever present mask of cockiness into something of understanding, she deserves to be mad. He cannot imagine how she must have felt getting that message, but…

His smile is weak, at best, "Well, I didn't really think about it.. people needed protecting, Pepper. Haven't you seen the news? I couldn't just let the truck run those people over.. I mean, they were protesting, so I ''should'' have, but seriously. Being ignorant isn't any reason for someone to die." Not the time, Tony.

"Sorry.. Sorry Pepper, I didn't mean to worry you. I just didn't want the sharks to take everything. I had to put something in place to protect you, if something happened and I couldn't anymore."


Pepper Potts puts one hand over Tony's mouth. "Enough, shush. Just, don't talk for a minute, all right?" She is trying to continue looking and sounding stern, but it's a very thin veneer at best. Looking at the doctor, she reaches into her shoulder bag with her other hand and pulls a hotrod red velvet drawstring pouch.

She has to take her hand back off of Tony's mouth to open the pouch, but the telltale blue glow of an arc reactor is visible almost immediately and the doctor steps around to start working on removing the Box from the billionaire's chest.


That's… new. Tony watches Pepper over the curve of her thumb and doesn't say anything. Instead he nods and turns a little to watch the doctor disconnect the magnet that's been keeping him alive. Even once her hand is removed it's like he's far to interested in what's going on with his chest, to say a single word. Did she really get through to him?

When the box comes up, he takes a sharp breath. The monitor shows a distinct increase in his heart rate and he glances up towards Pepper with a weak sort of smile that is intended to hide the pain he's very clearly feeling. They have, thankfully, removed the overloaded reactor which leaves the titanium casing shield he's installed into his chest to fit the replacement.


She's only done this one before and it pretty damn well freaked her out that time, but taking a deep breath at the same time that Tony does, Pepper leans forward to connect and properly seat the new arc reactor as if it were old hat. Total time Tony's heart went without protection here: ten seconds.


Tony never doubted her for a second.

His features were starting to pale a little bit and there's a little sweat, but he knew she could do it. Hell, she's done it before. Who else would he trust with something like this? Certainly not some SHIELD doctor. Hell and no.

With the reactor connects it lets off a low hum as the power radiates and the magnet kicks in. Then it's streaming through his body, as it always does when he changes them out, and he's smiling. Like he could run a damn marathon. "Thanks, Pep." Said genuinely.

His hands smooth his hair back, "I don't suppose you brought me some clothes too? I didn't ask for any.. but I don't think walking out of here in a hospital gown is going to be the 'change' we were looking for."


Pepper Potts nods to the doctor, then moves to set a duffel bag she'd had slung on the same shoulder as her purse onto the foot of Tony's bed. "Toiletries also, if you wanted to shower before we leave." She steps back at that point. "I'll wait outside." She needs to have a word with the doctors anyway. She follows the SHIELD medic back out of the room, the door closing after her with a soft click. Her voice can be heard ever so faintly regardless.


Tony disconnects all the wires and monitors and unzips the duffel back. A grin spreads across his face as he pulls out his favorite Rollin' Stones shirt and a pair of blue jeans. She even brought his sandals? Toiletries too. At first he just wants to get the hell out of here, but… might as well use their shower while he's here, I mean they're probably going to bill him for it anyways.

So he does get cleaned. Then changes. It's record time for Tony who can periodically take some pretty long showers. Maybe it's because the water isn't as filtered as it is at the Tower? Probably he just wants to get the hell out of here.

There's so much he has to tell Pepper. So much he promised he'd tell her. Now he doesn't know how and suddenly he's in a hurry to get to it? It's weird.

After cleaning and dressing, Tony pops out of the room with the duffel over his shoulder, flicking open his cellphone just to see the familiar glow of technology that's not connected to his chest. Strange the things he misses, "Alright, time to go. Hospitality sucks… I'm going to trash you on yelp."


"No, Tony, you're not." Pepper simply nods to the doctor then hooks her hand in her boss's elbow and starts to lead him away. "Agent Coulson has a plane waiting for us, now come on."

That's the way the entire trip back to Stark Tower goes, with Pepper all but bodily dragging Tony along and refusing to let him stop more than briefly at any point. But, once they're back in his penthouse…

"All right, Tony. No one else but JARVIS around. I'm listening."


Tony tries to stop them at a couple places, even asking if they can fly to France for the weekend. He paints a pretty picture of it, having breakfast in front of the Louvre, but she's like a rock. So he goes quiet and tugs at his bottom lip, staring out the window as they fly back to the tower.

Once they land and SHIELD has departed, leaving him alone in his penthouse with nothing but the ever present sound of electricity that comes with any modern day city… but is three times as obvious in anything built by Tony Stark.

That's where the shoe drops.

He spins towards on his heels and smiles. Not a manipulative smile, but a… sad one. "Alright." Nodding, he's headed towards the couch where he drops into the comfortable cushions and sighs. "Alright.. Four months ago, the arc reactor started flickering. At first I thought I was draining the power supply with the Iron Man armor, but diagnostics showed that it wasn't a matter of limited energy output. It's an over abundance." Does he need to speak English?

"It's giving off a byproduct chemical that is molecularly like potassium, but radioactive in nature. It's causing the core element to degrade at an accelerated rate. Which, to me, means: I have to find another element that can sustain the eight gigajoules of power, without causing a massive cardiac arrest." That being said, he drops his head back onto the couch.

"And there's not one. There is no element that I can find that can sustain that kind of power without killing me. SHIELD.." Nodding to the black dot on the night sky that was the plane that brought them here, "Had files on me. They knew about the arc reactor and my accident. They're going to help me fix this… I don't know how. I mean, they're not the brightest crayons in the box, but they're going to."

"Because if they don't, I ''am'' going to die. In… two.. maybe three months. Tops."


Pepper Potts walks over to sit on the couch next to Tony. "This is why you've been even more erratic than usual." It's a statement, not a question. "And why you keep trying to get me to shirk my duties here and run off somewhere with you." She looks at Tony for a long moment, regardless of whether or not he's looking back at her. "Why did you feel you couldn't tell me the moment you realized it?"


Tony forces a smile that is about as deeply troubled as he really has to feel, right about now. "Because I was hoping I could fix it without scaring you." He says, his left hand trembling just a little. Gooseflesh runs up his arm, across his neck, and his chin starts to quiver just a little. "I don't want to die, Pepper, but I would.. gladly, if I could keep you from having to deal with me dying. If I die saving people, people think I'm a hero…" He waves his hand a few times to make it stop trembling.

"But I don't want to just fade away in a bed because I couldn't fix myself. I don't want to be a charity case that everyone looks at like 'screw up' Tony Stark. Barely the man his dad ever was… I can ''fix'' this." His fist slaps against the reactor, jaw clinching behind the skin of his face. "I didn't want you to see me broken."

Even like this, raw and exposed, he's making a joke. "I don't pay you enough to change my diapers…"


"You're right, you don't," Pepper says while looking at Tony squarely. "That's why you're going to figure this out. And that IS one thing that those SHIELD people have right. You can't do it alone. You have both the resources and the contacts to help, if you'll allow it." Where does Pepper's mind go first? To Rune. She's got access to elixirs and the like that are outside the realm of science, and if nothing else, can likely help keep Tony's health stable for a bit longer than projected.


Tony takes a breath and visibly calms under her square deal stare, "Yeah." Nodding in the affirmative, but he's already looking towards the Workshop. "I need you to work out having them transfer what they have on metallurgy to me. I spoke with the Deputy Director, but you know how I am with people…" She does, that's why she's usually the one talking to them. "Evelyn is probably going to be around a bit more too. I offered to do some…" Pressing his lips together, but.. whatever, Pepper knows everything, at least now, "Upgrades on her. She might have the key to what can help me too.. She certainly can't set me back any."

Because his work has made inroads, but nothing even remotely close to a solution. "I don't suppose Rhodey called?" He doubts it, not because his friend doesn't care.. but he's busy. It's understandable. His fingers absently drum across the glowing surface of the reactor beneath his shirt. "Maybe that's why I ended up in that market? Might talk to the wolf-lord before his party.. see if he knows of some 'mystical' element." Doubtful, but if there's a rock to overturn looking, he might as well try it. "Try not to make this a thing.. the fewer people who know, the better. I have about a month before I start getting bad off… but I'm going to set the 'point of no return' date to forty days from now. We don't solve this by then and we might better start researching cryogenics." He's being serious.


Pepper Potts shakes her head no, a bit regretfully. "No, Rhodey didn't call. But last I heard he was deployed, so that's not a complete surprise. I'll try to reach him again for you." And she can tell he's already mentally on his way to his workshop. "Promise me one other thing, Tony. I know the clock is ticking on this, but you can't go without eating or sleeping like you always do. That compromises your immune system and lets that… whatever it is take hold faster. So when I tell you to eat or rest you're going to do so. All right?"


Tony hasn't jumped off the couch yet, even if he has glanced that way several times, but when she mentions him not burning the candle at both ends, he looks her way with a tilt of his head. "Pepper, didn't you ''get'' my message?" His brow furrowing slightly, "You're the boss now.." He reaches out and lays a hand on her check, "I meant everything I said. I just wish I'd had the guts to say it in some other way."

Now he does stand up, but leans over and kisses her forehead, "I love you. You're better to me than I deserve." Maybe it's got something to do with dying, putting everything into perspective and all that. When he straightens, it's with a renewed vigor, "Huh…" Chuckling quietly, "Who knew honesty felt this good?"


Pepper Potts really, really hopes that she doesn't blush at the kiss. He's got to mean that in a platonic way, right? Yeah, it's got to platonic. She smiles up at Tony. "I've mentioned something like that to you before, haven't I? Now, go on, I'm sure Dummy's waiting for you. I'm going to get started making some phone calls." Not to mention she has to start gearing up for the media frenzy appointing her CEO is going to generate.


"I'm keeping my shares though." Tony says, walking backwards, "At least half of them… okay, more than half." He's grinning, who even knows with him? "Wouldn't want you scrapping my company for spare parts and selling it to Wayne." As if she'd do that. Dummy probably is waiting, Tony is already opening up the file as he walks. The blue image spreading out in front of him and moving as he does to stay just within arms reach. "JARVIS, what was the last power output rating on the beryllium-quartz reactor?"

Seriously, he's been trying everything, "Zero point zero one, sir. High levels of toxicity, but down from the beryllium-verillium by almost three hundred percent."

"Good, retest it against the… hold that thought." Tony turns and looks at Pepper, "You sure I can't get you to fly to France? Last chance… I'll be down there all night.." Brow perking, but he clearly already knows the answer. Did he mean platonic?

Hell, sometimes even Tony doesn't know.

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