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I don't blame you.

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Steve [6:32PM]: “Leaving work now.  Be there soon.”

Steve [6:58PM]: “I’m outside.”

Steve [7:04PM]: “Tony?”

Steve [7:11PM]: “I’m assuming you’re still in your meeting since you aren’t answering.  I’ll be here when it’s over.”

“Tony?” Pepper stops in her tracks when she sees the man in question practically glued to the window behind his desk.

“What is it, Pep?” he asks, not even bothering to look at her.

“What are you still doing here?”

“People watching.”  Tony’s looking down at the street below the tower, but Pepper’s line of sight makes it impossible for her to see what exactly he’s staring so intently at.

“I thought you had a date with Steve.”  

“Yeah, at 7,” he says dismissively.  

“That was,” she glances at her watch, “fifteen minutes ago, Tony.”

“I know.”

She looks at him quizzically. “It isn’t like Steve to be late.”

“He’s not.”


"He's here."

She frowns. “It’s rude to make other people wait.”

Tony sighs.  “I know, I know… but I can’t bring myself to leave.”

“Why?” Pepper asks, her curiosity getting the best of her.

“Just come here and look at this,” Tony says, beckoning her over.

She takes the half-dozen steps to stand at his side and looks down. “What could you possibly—oh.”  Pepper whistles low when she notices the man that Tony was no doubt staring at. “Wow.”  Clad in a form-fitting jacket and dark jeans, Steve’s stopped at the street corner, straddling a Harley Davidson.

“‘Wow,’ indeed,” Tony agrees. “I don’t blame you if you want to ogle him a little longer, by the way.”

She fights the urge to blush. “I was not—”

Tony spares a glance at her. “You’re practically drooling on the carpet, Miss Potts.”

Pepper ignores him. “I’m surprised he hasn’t looked this way already.”

“Well, you know Steve.  Taking in his surroundings and whatnot,” he means to say it flippantly, but there's a hint of affection in his tone

She sees Steve look at his phone for a few moments before pocketing it again. “He’s still waiting for you, Tony.”  

“But he looks so delicious.” Tony somehow manages to press his face even closer to the glass. “It’s so much fun admiring him from afar.”

“Y’know that you can admire him up close, right?” she points out. “He is your boyfriend.”  

Tony waves her off, and she’s momentarily impressed that he doesn’t stick his tongue out at the word (not that he doesn’t love Steve, but he still isn’t one for labels).  “This is much more enjoyable.  Well, for the moment,” he corrects himself.  “It’s like chasing him all over again.”

Pepper scoffs.  “Chasing?  You pined over him for four months.”

“I wasn’t pining!” he defends.

She looks at him incredulously.  “You were doodling hearts on everything and following him around like a puppy.”

“I don’t know where you get your information from, Miss Potts,” he’s fixated on the man outside again, “but you should really verify your sources before coming to any sort of conclusion.”

“Clint and Natasha said that they had never seen anything more pathetic in their lives.”

“Whatever. Those two are always out to get me, anyway.”  

Pepper hears Tony’s phone buzz, but he doesn’t make a move to check it.  “Tony, as CEO, I am ordering you to exit the building so you can spend the night with your fiancé.”

He moves away from the window after a few moments and gives her his full attention.  “Are you actually kicking me out of my office?”

“I’m having a hard time believing it too.”

“Huh.”  Tony muses for a moment. “This is an interesting turn of events… Quite frankly, it’s a little unsettling.”

“Tony,” she warns.  

“All right, all right,” Tony gives in.  He grabs his suit jacket off of his chair and shrugs it on.  “Don’t blame me if I’m late tomorrow.  I’m just following your orders and going out for a night on the town with my supersoldier boyf—fiancé.”

Pepper rolls her eyes but smiles anyway.  “Just go,” she says, but there’s no heat in it. 

Tony pauses on his way out the door.  “You aren’t planning on staying at the office all night, are you?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.  Happy’s on his way.”

Tony blinks. “Right.  Okay, good.”

“Good bye, Tony,” she says exasperatedly.  

He bids her farewell and mock salutes her before walking out the door.

Pepper takes a seat in Tony’s office chair and looks at the clock.

7:23.  Her ride should be here any minute.

She spins in the chair and looks out the windows again, keeping an eye out for the black Bentley that Happy had recently taken a liking to.  It’s past rush hour, so the traffic isn’t too bad… but the sidewalks look a little more congested than usual.  She tells herself to just keep looking for the car.

…but if her eyes just happen to roam back to the man on the bike, well, no one has to know, right? 

Pepper spots Tony making his way over to the blond, and she notices the other man’s face practically lights up upon seeing genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.  The blond says something that makes Tony laugh, and Tony throws his arms around his shoulders and pulls him down for a kiss.  Pepper smiles at the sight.

She feels like she’s seeing something special—a Tony Stark that not many people get the chance to see.  She’s known Tony for years, but she can’t remember a time when Tony’s looked as unguarded and carefree as he does now. 

The two men part and Tony begins talking animatedly, gesturing wildly with his hands.  When Steve looks confused, Tony points at the window—directly at his office, she realizes—and waves at her.

Pepper blushes and quickly averts her gaze, pretending to look at another couple across the street.  She startles when her phone chimes, alerting her of a new text message.

Tony [7:27PM]: Like I said, I don’t blame you. ;)