Hotter than Fire Part One
“Damn bug,” Tony hisses under his breath and slaps at his neck with one hand before returning his attention back to the rest of the team who are all glaring at him. “Sorry, mosquito.”
“Okay, what were you saying before you were so kindly interrupted,” Cap says turning his attention back to Agent Hill. Tony catches the super solider’s small eye roll and bites back a quip. He turns his attention to Hill.
“You guys have done your job for the day-”
“You mean you called us in just to bust down some doors?” Steve interrupts incredulously.
“Now look who’s causing interruptions,” Tony whispers under his breath. Natasha must have caught it because she snorts with amusement on her face.
“You wanna say that to my face?” Steve snaps and turns to glare at Tony.
“Sure,” Tony shrugs. “I said-”
“I know what you said,” Steve snaps angrily.
“I wasn’t sure if you could hear. Hearing tends to degrees with an age,” Tony says and leans himself against the wall.
“Gentle men, can we please focus?” Hill asks before Steve can find a comeback line.
“Yes, by all means, continue,” Tony says and gestures to her, bowing his head slightly.
“Thank you,” Hill sighs. “The reason we’re sending you all home is because the situation in the basement is a little more delicate. We’re sending in a specialized hazmat team so things don’t get broken. We just needed you guys to get us in. We don’t want you guys breaking something and getting sealed in here.”
“So we can go home?” Tony asks hopefully. It’s been a good three days since he’s been home and since he’s seen Pepper.
“Yes, you all can go home, but we have a briefing on Monday to discuss finances and some more missions,” Hill replies.
“I think we’d all be appreciative if everyone could be on time for that,” Steve pipes up. “That way we’re not wasting any time.”
“I absolutely agree,” Tony says affirmatively, knowing full well that Steve’s comment was aimed at him. He had technically been on time for the last meeting, he had just been forced to take a minor detour to the bathroom to deal with a minor panic attack.
“You realize that was aimed at you, right?” Steve says turning to glare at Tony yet again.
Tony smirks. “Yeah, I got that hon.”
“Do you just thrive on annoying people?” Steve retorts.
“Yeah, that, some snark, little bit of alcohol, that’s all I need,” Tony replies.
Steve scoffs and shakes his head, but doesn’t say anything else.
“You two should go home before someone gets their throat ripped out,” Hill mutters.
“I’m taking that as my dismissal,” Tony says and slips past Steve. “Oh and Steve, you might want to see about getting that cob removed from up your ass. Those things can cause nasty infections.”
“Go home Stark,” Steve snaps with a mix of disgust and annoyance in his tone.
“Already on it,” Tony says and bows deeply to Cap before spinning on his heels and leaving the distressingly pristine bio lab. Tony doesn’t really blame Steve for being so snappy. They’ve been stuck in the same vicinity for three days, and that’s more than the average person can take. Pepper and Rhodey somehow do it, but Tony has never been entirely sure how they do it. Putting up with him for as long as they have should be considered one of the seven wonders of the world.
“Pep!” Tony calls as he walks through the door of the house. “I’m home!”
“Tony, we talked about you wearing the suit in the house,” Pepper sighs in defeat and approaches him
“I love you too,” he retorts. “And I forgot the car.”
“That’s a new one,” Pepper laughs. “How’d your super secret boy band meet go?”
Tony laughs a little before stepping out of his suit. “Oh you know, same old same old. Just busting up illegal bio testing labs.”
“Did you shower?” Pepper jokes lovingly. “I don’t want any diseases from you.”
“The only contagious thing I have is love,” Tony says grabbing her hand in is and batting his eyelashes at her. “But I wouldn’t mind a shower, if you’d care to join.”
“Is that so?” Pepper says seductively and pushes herself close to him so her face is mere inches from his. He leans into her warm touch. Three days is far too long to be without her
“Mhmm,” Tony say as her hands slide under the back of his shirt. “I can show you.”
“The house doesn’t have a black light setting so no one will know,” Tony says letting a mischievous grin cross his face before pressing his lips against hers.
“Okay,” Pepper mumbles around his lips and her soft fingers slip into his waistband.
“J, some privacy?” Tony says quietly, as he slides his own hands under Pepper’s shirt.
“We should do that more often,” Tony says and leans his head against Pepper. He’s not exactly sure at what point they ended up in the bed, but somehow they’re there.
“You should come back from trips like that more often,” Pepper says and presses her lips against his forehead.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Tony whispers. “Are you hungry?”
“Yeah, you wanna order something or cook?” Pepper asks and maneuvers herself upright.
“I’ll cook,” Tony offers and swings himself out of bed. His muscles ache strangely at the movement. “Did you do something different?”
“Nope,” Pepper says from her side of the bed where she’s pulling one of his MIT hoodies on. It comes down a good halfway down her thighs. She flips hair as she pulls it out of the neck of the hoodie. “Same stuff we’ve been doing, why? Did I wear you out?”
“You wish,” Tony snorts and pulls on a pair of shorts. He’s probably just sore from the op. Too much time in the suit can have that effect. “So what shall I cook, my queen?”
Pepper wrinkles her nose at him with a playful expression. “Maybe we should order food. I’d like to actually eat.”
“Hey! I’m a culinary genius!”
“You are a genius on many subjects, my love, but food is not one of them,” Pepper says with affection dripping from her voice before turning and heading out of the room.
“Hey! If you’re talking about the omlet I made you on the jet that one time, that doesn’t count! I was dying,” Tony protests and stumbles after her.
“Is that what that was supposed to be?” Pepper jokes. Tony tries to hide his offended expression, but obviously fails because her eyes soften into a more concerned look. “I’m sorry Tony.”
“It’s fine,” Tony says, sliding his hands into his pockets.
“No, I shouldn’t have joked about that.”
Tony shakes his head, feeling bad for spoiling the mood. “It’s fine Pep, I promise. Besides, it was a really bad omelet.”
“I’ll make it up to you, and I’ll eat whatever you fix.”
“What ever I make?” Tony asks, narrowing his eyes. He could whip up some very interesting food concoctions to feed her.
“I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?”
“You’ll just have to wait and see,” Tony chuckles as Pepper sits down at the kitchen island.
“When’s your next briefing?” Pepper asks as Tony rummages through the fridge to find something to make.
“Tomorrow, are you gonna come with me to face the wolves?” Tony asks and grabs the box of take out.
“If you guys are going over financing, probably,” Pepper replies. “You should really see about The Avengers program getting registered as a charity. It’d be a great tax write off for the company.”
“It really is a charity, isn’t it?” Tony laughs. “But I think there are much better charities out there to donate too.”
“I think I’ve gotta agree,” Pepper says. “None of those charities keep you away from me for days on end.”
“Isn’t that the truth,” Tony says with a sigh before falling into a moment of silence just looking into Pepper’s beautiful crystal blue eyes. He smiles at her as warmth spreads through his chest. “I love you Pep.”
“I love you too,” Pepper says and leans across the counter to kiss him.
“Is now a bad time?”
Tony nearly jumps out of his skin at the sound of Rhodey’s voice. Pepper lets out her own small yelp of surprise and pulls the oversized hoodie further down.
“Uh…” Tony hums trying to form words, but he’s caught like a deer head light.
“I’m going to go get some pants and uh a shirt for you,” Pepper says her cheeks going an unnatural shade of red.
“You realize, I installed a doorbell for a reason, right?” Tony asks and empties the leftover steak and potatoes into a frying pan.”
“Yeah…” Rhodey says a little awkwardly and walks deeper into the house. “They told me you were off assignment so I was going to pop in a surprise you, but I didn’t really think it through. I should’ve know you two would be-”
“Oh, we’re done,” Tony interrupts. “We decided we were hungry.”
“Ah, so I walked in on the snack break?” Rhodey says understandingly and eyes the clothes on the floor. “I see you guys didn’t waste any time.”
Tony ducks his head and tries not to blush. “Yeah… you want some food?”
“I think I’m good,” Rhodey says and sits down at one of the stools at the kitchen island.
“Aw, did we scar you, honey badger?” Tony teases.
“Shut up,” Rhodey retorts.
“Yep, shutting up now.”
“How’d the raid go?” Rhodey asks and picks up an apple off the fruit basket sitting on the island. “I would have been there, but the air force had different plans.”
“It went well. We were pretty much just serving as a glorified battering ram for Shield. They sent us home after we cleared the above ground levels. There was apparently some nasty stuff in the basement that they didn’t want us to break.”
“It was the bio research lab right?”
“Yeah, they were apparently making some illegal bio weapons or some shit,” Tony replies as he turns the burner up. A shiver slides up his spine and he wiggles uncomfortably. “Is it just me or is it cold?”
“Maybe put on a shirt,” Rhodey says. “Wearing clothes usually helps you not be cold.”
Tony sticks his tongue out at Rhodey playfully as Pepper comes back with a shirt in her hands. “Here you are.”
“Thanks Pep,” Tony says and pulls the shirt on over his head.
“Are you going to be joining us at the briefing on Monday?” Pepper asks and rubs one hand gently down Tony’s back and he feels some of the tension in his muscles release.
“I’m afraid so,” Rhodey sighs and then frown crosses his face.
“What?” Tony asks.
“You’re bleeding,” Rhodey says and there’s concern in his voice.
“No I’m not-” he trails off as a droplet of blood falls and spatters onto the stove top. “Oh.”
He reaches up and wipes his nose and takes his hand away only to see that there’s a blood smear left behind.
“Here’s a paper towel,” Pepper says and pushes a one into his hand. “You go sit down and I’ll finish frying that.”
Tony doesn’t protest and walks around to the other side of the counter to sit down next to Rhodey.
“What’d you do to him, Pepper?” Rhodey jokes and pats Tony on the shoulder.
“She didn’t do anything,” Tony grumbles and pinches the paper towel harder around his nose. “My nose is just dry.”
“Aw, are you getting sick?” Rhodey says sympathetically and pushes the back of his hand against Tony’s forehead.
“I’m fine,” Tony snaps and ducks away from his friend’s touch.
“Woah, hand on Tones,” Rhodey says quickly, concern coming into his voice. “Are you feeling okay? You feel warm.”
“Does he?” Pepper asks perking up and reaching across to rest her hand on his cheek.
“Rhodey’s right,” she says. “Are you feeling okay?”
“Yes, I feel fine,” Tony fusses and swats their hands away from his face and yanks his head back. The sudden jerk sends a low throbbing pain through his skull and his eyes lose focus for a second.
“Woah,” Pepper says her voice thickening with concern and he knows from her reaction that she caught his lapse in focus. “Tony, are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he replies and slides off his stool, almost immediately cramps shoot through his abdomen and it takes all his self control not to grunt in pain as he doubles over clutching his side.
“Waoh!” Rhodey cries and reaches an arm around him to support him. “Tony, are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, just got a little a dizzy,” Tony replies as the cramps in his abdomen tighten and twist. He lets out a gasp of pain and his legs give out.
“Tony!” Pepper’s cry is distant as the pounding in his skull intensifies.
“I just need a minute,” he chokes as his stomach clench and convulsion takes over his body. He leans forward and lurches as he throws up on the floor. His vision blurs as he cringes again and throws up again, the back of his throat burning.
“Pepper! Call 911 now!” There’s panic in Rhodey’s voice as his hand grips Tony’s shoulder.
Through the sour after taste of throw up Tony can sense a different taste. It’s strong and metallic, blood.
“Rhodey…” he manages to mumble as he feels himself tipping backward.
“I got you Tones,” Rhodey says gently as Tony leans back against him.
“What’s happening?” Tony whimpers as a flash of heat hits him.
“I don’t know,” Rhodey replies and runs a hand through his hair.
“We’re both right here,” Pepper says comfortingly and closes her hand around him. “The ambulance is on it’s way.”
“Rhodey, he’s burning up,” Pepper says urgently not taking her eyes off Tony. There are already beads of sweat forming on his face, and his hand feels clammy in hers.
“I’m cold…” Tony mumbles as his eyes flutter closed and a shiver course though his body.
“What’s happening to him?” Pepper says desperately searching Rhodey’s eyes that only reflect her own panic. “He was completely fine five minutes ago!”
“I don’t know!” Rhodey replies frantically as another shudder shakes Tony’s body. “Jarvis, did they get tested for contamination after the raid?”
“The rest of the team went through screening. He did not because the air filtration in the suit would have detected anything dangerous entering the suit,” Jarvis responds.
“And you still feel completely fine?” Rhodey says pinning Pepper down with his intense gaze.
“Yes, I feel fine.”
The grip of Tony’s hand around hers slackens as his breathing hitches.
“Tony, I need you to stay with me,” Pepper says desperately and cups his cheek in her hand. His skin is hot and wet to the touch and two thick slugs of blood are working their way down his face from both his nostrils. Pepper sneaks a glance away from just long enough to get a brief look at the small puddle of bloody throw up. “Just hang in there.”