Title: What Shall We Do With An Arc Reactor?
Disclaimer: Not mine. *sniff*
Rating: PG-13 for a bit of bad language.
Notes: Movie-verse, so a couple of spoilers, naturally. More of a vignette than a fic; Pepper, thinking about Tony. Based around one of my favourite scenes, and one of the things that made me write down lots of exclamation marks.
"Destroy it," he says. But part of being Tony Stark's assistant - and Pepper is very good at it - is knowing when not to take him seriously. So she asks, and he affirms, and perhaps Mr Stark isn't nostalgic, but occasionally, perhaps, Tony might be.
She cradles the device in her hand as she walks away. It shines like a miniature star, as brilliant as the mind of the man who made it. And it was part of him, it kept him alive for months, and Tony told her to incinerate it.
Tony, who still has the engine he built when he was six, and who refuses to reprogram the robot arms (he claims, of course, that he's testing the learning capabilities of their AIs, earlier and simpler than the one he built for Jarvis), and who worked so hard to live up to his father's legacy that he took until now to realize that he wanted something else.
Pepper sets the arc reactor down on the table, and stares at it. It can't go to R&D, because if Mr Stark wanted it there, that's where he would have had her send it. It can't go anywhere outside the company, for obvious reasons. If she isn't going to destroy it, it has to stay here. Unless it were to power a yacht, or some such; but Mr Stark is the only one who could integrate the systems, and Mr Stark wants it gone. Or she could take it home with her; but it seems just a little too intimate, because it was inside him, and she is just his assistant, and it's one thing keeping the cashmere scarf he wound round her neck in New York but this would be like stealing his underwear (which is silk, by the way).
Pepper huffs in irritation as she goes to wash her hands. And she so totally did not buy that line about the pus being from the device; she's never seen that kind of crap at the big arc reactor at the plant. It was pus, and it was, ew, totally disgusting, and she spends a good five minutes scrubbing her hands. And thinking.
Christ, she had her hand inside his chest and she messed up and she could have killed him and he was so, so, so nice about it! And he was half-naked and he called her capable and trustworthy and she hurt him.
The stubborn bastard should have gone to a doctor. Hell, he could have flown in a top heart surgeon and had them make a house call, if he wanted, and instead he had her. Pepper Potts, highly organized, reasonably intelligent, occasionally bitchy, and she'd once told a friend that Mr Stark's life was in her hands but she'd never expected it to be so literal.
The device shines on, sitting on the table, and she ignores it as she goes back to catching up with the fallout from Mr Stark's latest impulsive decision. All of the newsfeeds are depressing. Either they don't believe anything will change, or they're talking about how this change will affect the company (answer: badly). She turns to the public, a neat little cross-section of prominent bloggers on big business. One of them refers to Mr Stark as "the heartless Merchant of Death." Pepper blinks. She has good reason to know how very wrong that is.
Pepper picks up the arc reactor. Such a small thing it is, to protect a man's heart. She knows exactly what to do with it.