“It’s so funny that I didn’t think of this before…” Tony Stark sat slouched on a chair in his workshop, biting the tip of a ball point pen thoughtfully. Around him papers and scraps of metal suggested that he’d been working diligently on a project, although from the mess, it wasn’t exactly clear what. Pepper had just entered the room, her clipboard under one arm, caring an espresso on a tiny porcelain saucer. She stopped and set down the cup.
“Pepper, I’ve had an excellent idea,” Tony stated, his voice filling the room and a half smile starting to form over his face. “You remember the other day when you said something about…” he waved his hands, trying to remember, “Oh, that I have you running around twenty four hours a day, and you never have time to yourself, least of all time to take care of your apartment?”
Pepper raised an eyebrow, a thought flashing through her mind. “Sir,” she began, slowly, “…are you planning on giving me time off?” Her tone was unsure. She brought the clipboard to her front, pressing it against her chest protectively, “Honestly, Mr. Stark, I don’t think that’s a very good idea right now – we’re in the middle an incredibly busy week – the phone has been ringing nonstop with calls from the media and you have meetings scheduled every other hour for the next ten days-“Tony tapped a finger to his lips in a silent shushing motion, and Pepper abruptly stopped talking.
“No Pepper,” Tony rolled his eyes and pushed his chair to face another table, “Honestly, I don’t know what goes through your head.” He picked something up off the desk and stood up, turning back towards her. “I just thought you could use some help…” In his hands his presented to her a small shining chrome robot, shaped what appeared to be a lap dog. He grinned, obviously expecting her to be impressed with the gift.
“Oh, Mr. Stark…” Pepper said, slowly, placing a hand it’s head, hesitantly. “It’s a…little metal dog…”
“No!” Pulling the machine away from his assistant, Tony set it back on the table. “It’s just shaped like that – I thought you’d think it was cute.” Sighing, audibly and dramatically, he pulled out a remote control from his pocket. He pushed a button and the dog came to life. A blue light shone from where its eyes would be, if it was a real animal, and it made a strange robotic barking noise. Tony looked at Pepper expectantly, the grin reappearing on his face.
“Very nice.” Pepper said, smiling slightly, trying to push back thoughts of all the work she could be doing rather then sitting here and looking at a toy.
“But that’s just the beginning, Pepper. It reacts to voice commands. I’ve installed sensors in it so it can detect a mess – and clean it! It can remind you of any meetings you have to attend…there’s a phone chip and you can order out dinner, just by asking…or it can phone whoever you want it to!” Looking intently at the machine, Tony spoke, “Call James Rhodes.” A tiny tail-like antenna came up from the back of the dog, which Pepper assumed was another ‘cute’ addition, and the sound of a dial tone filled the room.
‘CALLING JAMES RHODES.’ The dog said, in a tinny computerized voice, and a moment later there was a click.
“Hello, James Rhodes speaking.” A professional voice rang out, on the other end.
“Isn’t that cool?!” Tony looked up to Pepper for a response, “And you can dictate a letter and it will convert it into text – and there’s a little USB drive that comes out of its mouth like a tongue…”
“Tony, is that you?” The voice coming out of the robot started again, this time with a hint of annoyance. “Do you even realize how busy I am? I’ve basically been clean up duty ever since you’ve decided to tell the world you’re-”
“Ah, terminate phone call.” Tony said quickly to the dog, and the room went silent.
Pepper was now standing with her arms crossed in front of her, drumming an impatient rhythm on her arm with the fingers of her free hand.
“It can do more!” Tony said, starting to feel like he was losing his edge, “It can scan a room and help you locate things you’ve lost and even help you pick out your outfit with this colour combining software that I put in…’
Pepper hadn’t moved.
Tony’s hands dropped to his side in defeat. “It’s great, Pepper! It’ll basically do whatever you ask it to. Why don’t you like it?”
Pepper bit her lip, “Mr. Stark, I believe what you’ve invented a robotic form of me.” She said, her tone careful “And for whatever reason, you decided to make it look like a dog.”
Tony felt a flush come to his face. He looked at the robot, and then he looked at Pepper, momentarily speechless. “No, no no…Pepper, I didn’t mean that. I absolutely do not think of you as a dog, and even if I did, you wouldn’t be like a…pet dog…you’d be more of a guide dog. You know, like for the blind.” He cringed at what he was saying and tried to compose himself. “It was supposed to be more like a Blackberry with legs.”
Pepper looked at Tony, and started to smile, “Mr. Stark, I’m as grateful as someone who just got compared to a dog could be.” She gathered up her clipboard, and left the room.
Tony sat down heavily into his chair; unsure of if Pepper was actually angry at him after what was he felt was probably the worst present giving attempt that had ever occurred in the history of mankind. The dog let out a small yelp, as with a swift motion Tony reached for his remote control and pressed a button, shutting it off. Rolling his chair back to his work table he sighed.
“Back to the drawing board…”