Five days after Bruce leaves Tony throws a spectrum microscope through a seventeenth floor window, hits someone’s – thankfully empty - car and gets his face plastered on the tabloids again. Must be a fucking Tuesday.
He throws money at the problem until it goes away, or to be more accurate, he gets Pepper to throw money and her considerable charms at the problem until it goes away, but the end result is the same. Well, apart for how she ends up standing in his lab, arms crossed, and a less than pleased looking expression marring her features.
“Tony,” she says and there’s a whole world of meaning in that one word, like his name is a book with a thousand and one stories. Pepper has of course read them all which makes the fact that she’s still here nothing short of a miracle.
“What?” he barks and then regrets it immediately, holding out a conciliatory hand, sagging with relief when she takes it.
“Tony. Just…” She sighs, squeezing his hand tightly, her grip so much stronger than she seems, just like she’s so much stronger than Tony. “What are you still doing here?”
He looks at her, noticing the sad cast of her eyes, the tired way she’s holding herself. Tony is not the only one missing Bruce. “Go get him,” Pepper urges, giving him a little shake and smiling for what feels like a first time in five days as she pushes him toward the suit. “Bring him home.”