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Pepper likes to sit between them on the couch, sandwiched in with Tony (who always runs hot and keeps her warm) on her right and Bruce (who is considerably less wiry, god, Tony’s all sinew and bone) on her left. This way she never misses anything and also can interrupt and mediate any potential slapfights. There haven’t been any yet, but there was one time they came close while watching Twister. Not because of Twister, but because they got into an argument over whether the house from The Wizard Of Oz could have actually remained in one piece during the twister or whether debris and wind shear would have ripped it apart and dismembered Dorothy (and her little dog, too).

"We should write a screenplay," Tony says at one point, leaning back on Pepper, head tucked up on her shoulder. Bruce lets his head fall back against the couch in exasperation. "What? We could actually write a scientifically accurate — NO," he yells at the television, where Red Planet is, at this point, mere background noise. An escape pod is bouncing across the Martian landscape, heading for a cliff. "Motherfuc — I designed those airbags, those are PATHFINDER AIRBAGS, they are fucking flawless, this would not happen.”

Pepper eats popcorn while Bruce argues that past performance on another planet is no guarantee of future results. This lasts approximately twenty seconds before Bruce himself is off on how they colored the sky on Mars wrong.

"Screenplay," Pepper prompts gently in Tony’s ear.

"Yes we should. How hard can it be? James fucking Cameron manages to vomit words on paper with enough force to sell to Hollywood. I know tons of agents, I’ve slept with like half of……"

Pepper stifles a giggle as his eyes get really big and Bruce murmurs, “Awkward.”

"You know who are really lousy lays? Everyone in Hollywood," Tony announces generally.

"Quit while you’re ahead," Pepper advises.

"I am rich enough to literally encrust you with diamonds should you so desire."


They fall silent for a little while, until Tony and Bruce both go off at once with Gravity doesn’t work that way! and an intricate, totally incomprehensible explanation of how artificial gravity using centrifugal force would function. Pepper doesn’t actually need to understand; she just likes to hear them talk. It reassures her, in a way she can’t quite define — she supposes that as long as Tony is yelling about science, the world can’t be in too much trouble.

When they wind down, she pats Bruce’s arm. “It’s a good thing you’re pretty,” she tells them, and places the empty popcorn bowl in Tony’s lap. “More, minion, plus beer.”

"Your wish, princess," he says, standing and stretching. "You know," he adds, heading for the kitchen, "Maybe we should just go to Mars. That might be easier than the screenplay. Bruce, you’d be up for Mars, right?"

"That depends," Bruce says, winking at Pepper. "Are we going to crash land horribly when our airbags fail to deploy properly?"

"FUCK YOU, GREEN MAN," Tony yells.

Pepper sighs happily. It’s so nice to have a quiet night in with the boys.