Who: Pepper and Tony What: a brief interlude When: over Valentine's Day weekend Note: backdated
It was a sunny day in the Languedoc-Roussillon of France, only twelve miles away from the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. A red R8 Spyder zipped toward a picturesque château with the top down, passing through dizzying rows of trimmed grapevines. When the car finally came to a halt in front of the biggest house in the complex, Tony Stark turned to his wife and gave her a bright smile before cutting the engine and getting out of the car. He quickly walked around to open the passenger door and offered a hand to help her out.
"Told you you'd be surprised," he said, after convincing her to cross the Atlantic on a vacation and leaving Darcy and Morgan in New York to have a sisters only sleepover with unlimited pizza and movies. This wasn't the only surprise he had in store for Pepper, but Tony wasn't about to blurt it out yet. Not until he knew what Pepper thought about their romantic retreat. "Welcome to your romantic trip for Valentine's Day, Mrs Stark. Tell me that I get style points for this. At least twelve. Billion. Twelve billion style points. Non-refundable."
It was no surprise to be taken overseas for Valentine's Day. Tony had done far more extravagant gestures. Pepper was actually used to it. Some far away winery in France was kind of tame. Sweet but tame.
It was pretty. Very pretty. Pepper admired the view as she took Tony's hand. "Very nice. You get...two billion style points. The rest will have to wait until I see and taste more."
"An argument could be made for six billion, since nothing's on fire or blowing up." Tony was staring at her like she was very pretty. Prettier than the scenery, which was pretty impressive as far as an Instagram moment went.
He gave her hand a little squeeze and led her inside the main house. Through the entry way into the large well-appointed common room, one was there to welcome them. There was, however, an embossed congratulations card and a chilled bottle of champagne in a silver bucket, along with two glasses. Tony wasted no time opening the bottle while looking everywhere other than at Pepper. Which might be suspicious too, considering he couldn't hide anything from her and it sure looked like he was hiding right now.
"What'd you think?" he asked, popping the cork and pouring a glass of bubbly for both of them. "I mean, it's not a castle, but it's close. Office upstairs if you need to make a call. Got a winery. A greenhouse. A pool. French farmer's market is down the road. Mediterranean is a short drive away. It's practically a winery-slash-yoga retreat."
He turned around and held out one of the glasses to her, smiling a little too brightly.
"And it's yours," he tacked on. "Happy Valentine's day, honey."
The place really was beautiful. Pepper always appreciated the French countryside. There was just something different about them that you didn’t find anywhere else. You could put her into a sensory deprivation containment and let her out anywhere that looked as if it could be in France, but wasn’t, and she’d know within seconds.
But then Tony dropped that bomb and she turned a surprised blink to her husband. “What?” She blinked some more. “Mine? But! Should you be doing something like this right now? What about the press releases, PR relations and the hearing?” The look on her face was hopeful, possibly even gleeful.
"Those things will keep happening, because you're with me. This is about anyone else but you and me. C'mon, take this," he said with a smile, wagging one of the flutes of champagne at her. "You don't need to do anything other than enjoy this. I hired the old groundskeepers and vintners, so you don't have to lift a finger."
He looked at her like she was still, and always would be, his one thing that he couldn't live without.
"I love you, Pepper. You have been through so much, and done so much for me and Morgan. You deserve a lot more peace and quiet than you get, living and working with someone like me. That's why I got you a winery. Because what doesn't say I love you, like a place where you can get your wino on?"
Pepper looked at Tony with her green eyes shining. He wanted to make her happy so badly. Wanted to always show her how much he loved her. Little did he know that he didn’t have to make these huge gestures. She’d tried to tell him that over and over but...this was how Tony was. She had to take this for what it was: Tony saying he loved her and to express his gratitude.
In reply she pulled TOny into a hug. “I love it.”
Tony liked it when she pulled him into a hug, or told him they were taking showers, or kissed him abruptly on rooftops with stuff exploding in the background. In which this (and giant bunnies) likely spoke volumes about how slightly nutty but surprisingly well-meaning he was.
He instantly wrapped both arms around her, giving her a quick but loving kiss. He was careful not to spill any champagne, as he turned his head to whisper near her ear, "I love you the mostest. P.S.? It's twelve billion style points, and you know it."