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New shoe day is a glorious day in the Stark- okay, maybe the Potts-Stark- household.

Pepper doesn't understand the thing about shoes. Of course Pepper wears amazing shoes; Pepper wears Louboutins as a matter of course. Pepper doesn't get shoes though. She has them bought for her, she wears them, she might ogle a nice pair or two in a store window, but Pepper just doesn't understand them.

Tony understands them. Tony understands them very well.

Tony's shoes, after considerable debate, many attempts at compromising with high-end yet off-the-rack models, are custom-made for him by a shoemaker in Italy. They are the finest leather, sleek, a slight heel- possibly a little more than slight heel, but Tony gave that battle up many, many years ago. They are not the most expensive shoes in the world, because fucking idiots make the most expensive shoes in the world, with no regard for anything like comfort. They're fucking Damien-Hirst-knock-off monstrosities, and while Tony occasionally finds that amusing- the idea of a copy of For the Love of God with the suit helmet is too fucking funny- you can't fucking walk in things like that, and if you could, you wouldn't want to.

So instead Tony has his comfortable, elegant, beautiful shoes, and he couldn't be happier. It takes several weeks between measurement and delivery, and for once Tony doesn't badger the shoemaker to get them as fast as he can. This man is an artist, and Tony has great respect for the things he can do to Tony's feet.

This is another reason that Pepper will never understand shoes like Tony does. Pepper accuses him of knowing nothing about delayed gratification, but she doesn't understand that you have to wait for something this fine. He's not even sure that Pepper understands that Louboutins have pre-orders and wait times- they just show up to the house and she puts them on. It's a little tragic.

Which brings us back to new shoe day.

Tony very carefully opens the first box, the one that he's gently lifted out of the crate. He pushes back the soft wrapping and breathes in the scent of them; the shoes will never smell like this again, not even close, the hard, seductive smell of leather and the fainter tone of polish and oil. Tony will take care of them- as much care as he takes of anything, which, let's be honest, is sometimes lacking, but cut him some slack- but they'll never be pristine after this.

Tony knows no one is here but him and JARVIS, Pepper away in meetings that will last hours, but he looks around anyway, as if people are going to sneak in the windows and see him communing with his shoes. Satisfied, he takes the first shoe out of its box and holds it to his face, putting his nose close to the opening and breathing in deeply. He sighs in satisfaction; they smell as absolutely perfect as they do every time, new and gorgeous, immaculate. It's not like the smell of something new that he's machined himself. It's something completely different, a creation of someone else's hands, someone who actually knows what they're doing and how to do it perfectly.

Also it's a shoe. God, is it ever a shoe. Tony sets it down, taking its mate out of the box. He shuts his eyes, putting his cheek against the sole just to feel the perfection of it. It is glorious.

He puts both of them back in the box, looking over at the crate. Maybe he can let himself unwrap one more pair. There are six in there, but he wants to save them for later, for another moment like this one.

But one more can't hurt, right?