It's the middle of the night - though quite frankly, Tony wouldn't know it. He's been up for hours - days? - riding that mix of sheer focus and unadulterated exhilaration that is invention, that is creation, and the only reason he's left the workshop is because JARVIS is re-doing some calculations on the specs of the vacuum proofing he's adding to the suit (because apparently his life now includes the possibility of ending up in outer space by way of not-actually-magical wormhole portals and he needs to be prepared for that).
Anyway, it's the middle of the night and Tony's in the kitchen looking for coffee (he does have a coffee machine in the workshop - or rather, he did - there was a minor accident and really, Dummy is far too eager to use that fire extinguisher - anyway, hence the 'in the kitchen' part of the sentence), reaching into a cupboard for a mug, when something brushes his hand.
At first he thinks it's a mouse, except, well, he doesn't have mice. JARVIS would have said something - no, JARVIS would have called an exterminator, so Tony doesn't have mice. Anyway, whatever it was, it hadn't been soft and warm.
He peers into the cupboard, trying to spot whatever it was, already halfway to convincing himself that perhaps it's about time he finds his bed for the night - only, something peeks back. Blink and you'll miss it, a frightened pair of eyes peeking out from behind the big "Stop! Hammertime!" mug that Thor hasn't smashed yet.
And it certainly doesn't look like a mouse.
"Hello?" he tries - because honestly, he talks to robots and JARVIS and SHIELD agents, talking to a mysterious presence in his kitchen cupboard is hardly going to be what ruins his reputation.
"I'm not going to hurt you. Promise. Come out?" he coaxes, and slowly, trembling, the presence does - tiny hops and then he reaches out a hand and finds himself with a cup in it.
A teeny, tiny teacup. White with gold and purple edges, a tiny chip on the rim, looking nothing at all like something that ought to be in Tony Stark's kitchen cupboard in the first place - and not just because of the huge eyes and trembling lips.
"Well, hello there. Where did you come from?"
The teacup opens its mouth, trembling - and bursts into tears.
For a moment Tony hesitates, because even thunder gods and men out of time and scary Russian assassins hasn't prepared him for the possibility of one day being confronted with a teeny, tiny teacup that wants its mother. Then he does the only thing he can think of.
He goes to find Pepper.