He had never heard her like this. She had never been anything other than in control, on top of everything. Smiling, efficient, nothing ever threw her. To hear her like this tore him up.
He tried to respond, but before he could, Pepper had brought herself under control. “I’m sorry,” she said.
“You don’t have to apolo-”
“No. I do.” Her voice had acquired it’s detached businesslike demeanor. “That was… unprofessional. You didn’t ask for this to happen. You did your best. We should be grateful that you weren’t killed in the attack. I have…” She paused, and there was a slight choke in her voice that she promptly shoved away. “I have every confidence that you’ll find him. And Mr. Stark is very resourceful himself. You shouldn’t count him out” “Absolutely. He’s probably building a matter transporter out of three paperclips and a toaster oven as we speak, and he’ll just beam himself out.“
“You’ll keep me appraised.”
“Absolutely, you’ll be the first one to know.”
“Thank you, that means a lot.”
“And Pepper-” The phone beeped at him. The person on the other end had disappeared. He couldn’t tell whether it was a dropped call or if she hung up. Either way, the conversation was over.
He pocketed his cell phone and wondered, not for the first time, if Tony Stark was aware of just how completely, totally and madly in love with him Pepper Potts was. For that matter, he wondered if Pepper herself knew.