Fandom: Iron Man
Prompt/Claim: #17:Wide Awake; 20_fics , Table 4, Iron Man: Tony/Pepper
Summary: For so long, he had known that he would live and die the last Stark. Now, well, it seemed things had changed. Little Stark Jr. was growing right now in Pepper's womb.
Length: 1,300 words
A/N: I suppose I've taken a two-month (almost three-month) break from working on my Iron Man claim, but don't hold it against me! I've been drawing and NaNoWriMo-ing, then took December to finish the novel that I started in November. I now have a complete (except for editing) 90,000-word novel. Huzzah. And now I may return to fanfiction. :)
Tony Stark was wide awake.
His brain refused to let him sleep. Calculations were running through his head at light speed, and he couldn't seem to shut them down. He didn't know how long he'd lain here, staring up at his bedroom ceiling, trying to shut off thought. This hadn't happened to him since college – usually if he was calculating and not sleeping, he was in the workshop, actively engaging himself in whatever project the calculations were for.
The result of these calculations, however, was already here.
To his right, Pepper shifted in the dark, tugging the covers away from Tony. After a moment, she resumed that light snoring noise that let Tony know she was really, deeply asleep.
After the stress she'd been through today, she deserved a good slumber.
Telling Tony Stark that you were unexpectedly pregnant with his baby was not easy.
In true Pepper fashion, though, she'd handled it with a cool, rigidly calm face and an even voice usually reserved for the most hostile of board meetings and press conferences. The calm façade – because the hands clinched like iron let him know it was a careful, precarious façade – cracked only when her face turned to confusion at his dazed grin. She hadn't been expecting that reaction.
Hell, he hadn't been expecting that reaction.
There had been a time when he would have told her to terminate without so much as a second thought. He'd probably even be nervously biting his nails until the pregnancy was taken care of.
Today, he hadn't been able to bring himself to utter the words. Not that they hadn't crossed his mind. They'd just never crossed his lips.
And now he was lying awake with calculations running through his mind.
They hadn't figured out when she'd gotten pregnant just yet, how this had happened. "Careful" was Pepper's mantra. "Do not get girls pregnant" was Tony's. And yet somehow, it'd happened.
He wasn't even sure yet that he wasn't dreaming. The odds didn't seem to add up in his mind. This was one of those things that always happened on TV or in movies and never in real life.
Then again, so was being a superhero. The odds for that were even less likely than knocking up your girlfriend.
Sighing, he shifted a little on the bed.
At the same time, his calculations shifted from the past – trying to figure out how this had happened – to the future – what the hell he was going to do. What in the world was Tony Stark going to do with a baby? He'd just started learning what to do with an exclusive girlfriend. Responsibility had never been his strong suit, and now he was juggling Iron Man and Pepper. How in the world would he throw a child into the mix?
And Pepper. What was he going to do with Pepper? Turning his head, he fixed his gaze on the curves of her back, which were toward him.
It had been somewhat difficult to persuade her, as unsteady and tightly wound as she was, to stay here tonight. And she had already made it clear to him that she "did not want a pity marriage out of him, even on the chance that he tried to offer it."
He wasn't sure even now of his reaction to that statement.
Did she think so lowly of him that he wouldn't have the honor to offer to do things properly? Grimacing, he admitted to himself that prior behavior had probably warranted that assumption. But she knew that he was different now. He had taken great, great pains to prove that fact to her.
Or was it simply a matter of how well she knew him? Did she, in all of that great Pepper wisdom that so often surprised him, know that he had assumed for so long now that marriage would never be for him?
Even after moving away from constant one-night stands, staring death in the face had forced him to contemplate such things – the futures that were never going to happen – in great depth.
One realization that had come was the fact that he was the last Stark. The empire ended with him.
His will would have left Stark Industries entirely in Pepper's very capable hands, but it would not have been the empire that it once was. He was convinced that she was the closest he had to family, but even so, she wasn't a Stark.
No Mrs. Stark, no little Stark Juniors. That was the realization that had hit him square in the face. It had stung, but he had tried to take it in stride. When facing near certain death, preparing for it even, he'd had to realize that a lot of things were never going to happen. Marriage, babies, a 50th birthday, growing old…
He had known that he would live and die the last Stark.
Now, well, it seemed things had changed.
Little Stark Jr. was growing right now in Pepper's womb.
He almost wanted to reach out and touch her still-flat stomach in wonder. There was a living thing growing inside her that was half Tony Stark. That had usurped his role as the last Stark. That would grow up to inherit the empire.
Oh, poor Pepper. She was going to have her hands full.
She was the most capable person Tony knew, but she was going to meet her match in a half-Stark child, he was sure.
And if she let him – because he was still questioning how much of a role she would let him have – be involved, he was certain his would be too. He was less than confident in his fathering abilities, just like he was less than confident in his ability to be a good husband. What did he know about any of that? He came from a shaky family background at best. He was certain his own familial instincts had been broken somehow.
Sometimes, though, there was just something about Pepper that made him want to give it a shot. To give it that wild shot in the dark, no matter what he knew or didn't, and see how it all worked out.
He knew even if she didn't that having a child was either going to cement them together or completely tear them apart. He was willing to bet that marriage would be exactly the same. He didn't really understand why Pepper wouldn't want the package deal. It had as good of a chance working out either way.
He would tell her that when she woke up. If he was going to do this, he wanted to do it all out. Marriage, kids, white picket fence, everything. OK, maybe not with the fence. It would be a little difficult to fence in the seaside Malibu mansion. But everything else would come as a package deal.
He rolled onto his back, staring up at the ceiling again.
He didn't want to give this some sort of half-assed attempt. And he wanted the maximum incentive to stay – a blood relative, his one blood relative, and a wife who could take him for everything he was worth if he messed up.
That would be his own insurance policy.
If he was going to forfeit his right to be the last Stark, he wanted to make sure he wasn't going to screw it up. He was going to make sure that the new last Stark grew up better than he had.
And just think, what if Pepper had twins? Then neither one would hold the ominous title of "The Last Stark." Or if more followed after this. Not only would the empire continue, Tony could be the head of his own little empire of Starks.
He felt a grin come to his face and involuntarily shifted again.
Beside him, Pepper stirred. After a moment, she rolled over and blinked at him in the darkness. "Tony, are you still awake?"
He rolled toward her. "Pepper, do you think it's twins?"
She just blinked at him. "Tony?"
"Go to sleep."