Pepper Potts cocks her head as she ghosts over the shards of glass nobody has bothered to clean up

"This isn't your usual AC/DC," she says over the pretty waltz.

"Mmm." Tony Stark grunts and holds a glowing arc-reactor up to halogen, "I know. He said this…" Tony nods at the reactor as he cradles it in his left hand and whispers over the surface with a copper wire between the tips of tweezers, "He said this was my ninth symphony. Like…Beethoven…I guess…thought I'd see what this was ah—shit!"

"I don't think this is Beethoven." Pepper counters as she places a sandwich next to him, "And it's definitely not anybody's ninth."

"Well…" Tony's tongue slips between his teeth as he concentrates on the wire in hand, "I have been down…here…for like…four…ho—fuck—a long time so…it's just…classical…I had…downloaded—goddammit!"

"Maybe you should take a break." Pepper advises, nudging the sandwich toward him.

"Maybe…later…" The wire slips again and Tony throws the arc-reactor across his desk and drops his head into his hands.

"Don't look at me like that, Pep, it's a tough little fella." Tony speaks without lifting his head.

Pepper rolls her eyes and walks around the desk to pick it up.

"Thank you," Tony mutters as she places it on the desk before him.

"Take a break, Tony. You've been working for four hours."

"Mmmf. I know. I can't concentrate." Another grunt. He looks up at her, and she smiles helpfully.

Tony picks up half of the sandwich and contemplates her.

"Would you like to dance?"

The question catches her so off-guard that she stumbles back a couple of steps. "What? No. No." She shakes her head lightly for emphasis.

He swallows the rest of the sandwich and stands up, "Come on, Pepper…dancing is like exercise," he takes a step toward her and holds out his hand. She doesn't take it.

"Tony, I have work to do."

"…It relieves stress," he says, continuing his earlier thought, "And relief of stress helps you concentrate, and," he steps toward her again, this time taking her hand instead of simply offering his.

"Tony—no." Pepper says as he pulls her swiftly into an embrace.

"No?" He asks, as he pushes forward into a waltz.

"No." She counters as she steps with his strong lead.

"Hm." Tony cocks his head and considers her.

"What?" She says, looking up at him through black lashes.

"This doesn't feel like a, 'no', that's all."

She rolls her eyes, "Tony." She gulps as his hand skims down her back to rest at the curve of her hip, "I have…work."

"So do I. But we're on a break."

She moves her hand from his shoulder to his chest, and pushes lightly. "Seriously, Tony."

"You're still calling me Tony," he says, moving her hand gracefully from his chest and back up to his shoulder where it belongs, "So you can't be that serious."

She smiles—she can't help herself. "Alright, well, Mr. Stark." She says, her voice just above a whisper.

"Mr. Stark?" He asks, and she nods.

"Mr. Stark…we should get back to work."

He looks down at her. Soft, red hair, pretty, shining blue eyes, and pink full lips. Not to mention long gorgeous legs and a perfect figure. He waltzes her slowly toward the back wall, near where he parks her favorite Lamborghini.

"Mr. Stark!" Her eyes open wide as her back hits the cold wall. She lets go of him, places both hands over the arc-reactor in his chest. She doesn't push, but she holds him there. "Mr. Stark." She says again, swallowing visibly, "This is inappropriate. It's time to get back to work."

He knows her next move will be to duck under one of his arms, so he moves with her and catches her lips in the process.

His mouth slants over hers and he feels, rather than hears, her moan. The kiss is more possessive than anything, slightly urgent and long overdue.

Her hands drop slowly from his chest and grasp for purchase on the slick cement wall behind her, her knees buckling slightly. She pushes against the wall like it is her only support.

His hands stay where they are—on either side of her head. Only their lips are touching. So why does his body feel like it's about to explode in fire?

She shivers against the cool cement and he pulls back, his breathing heavier than he likes it to be.

She looks up at him. His eyes are dark, dark brown and swirling with emotions she'd rather not face. His bangs drop softly over his forehead and his mouth is slightly open. She can feel the intensity that is intrinsic to Anthony Stark radiating off him like the quiet light from the arc reactor that pulsates in his chest.

He looks down at her. She looks vulnerable—he always knew Pepper Potts, for all her organization and deadlines and schedules, was weaker than he was.

Time stands still as the two stare at each other, their breathing heavy and in sync, Pepper's heart in her throat and Tony's about to short-circuit.

A split, infinitesimal second passes, and it happens.

They move.

Her arms wrap aggressively around his neck, drawing his lips back to hers. His hands immediately are on her waist, pushing her shirt up and her skirt down.

He doesn't go straight for the zipper, instead he lets his fingers glide over silky skin, up her long torso and over the ridges of her bra.

She runs her slender hands down, over hard triceps and down his arms, grasping his forearms as she kisses him like it's her last chance. She slides her tongue into his mouth and he fights back, pushing past her lips.

One of his hands goes up to cradle the back of her head against the cement. He pulls his lips away from hers and moves them across the line of her jaw, down her neck.

She cranes her head to the side to allow him better access, and lets her hands roam down to where his black wife-beater meets his jeans. She slips her hands under his beater, lets them slide up his hard stomach and then down the trail of hair that leads from his bellybutton.

She reaches his belt, and deftly undoes it with a speed she'll be embarrassed about later. She tugs at his beater and he pulls back to whip it off for her.

He goes back to his ministrations at her neck, sucking and nibbling and—is he biting? She feels her knees grow weaker and weaker, and she hangs onto him for support. He's fiddling with her buttons, his fingers clumsier than hers as he works them. He's gotten one, two, three—and then he lets out a frustrated growl and rips the rest open.

She lets out a hiss, "Tony!" and he shrugs and tries to look sorry but it's halfhearted at best as he pushes the sleeves down her slender arms.

"Buy you a new one," he mutters against her skin, "Buy you a whole new outfit. Promise."

He kisses down her neck and over the tops of her breasts while he unzips her black pencil skirt.

She's trying to be mad about the buttons on her brand-new silk Dolce & Gabbana top, but she can't seem to feel anything that isn't unabated lust when he's pushing against her and kneading at her lower back the way he is. She steps out of the prim pencil skirt and kicks it aside with one of her stilettos and gasps as he lifts her and none-too-gently slams her against the wall.

Her heels can't be easily kicked off so she ignores them and wraps her legs around his waist and silently thanks the heavens that her bra and panties match. He kisses down her stomach and she twists her fingers in his hair.

He leans his head back and looks at her, eyes so dark and so deep, and whispers her name, "Pepper."

She's lost. Any inhibitions she could even dream of having have just flown out the windows, out the garage door, out the hole in the ceiling, and she nods, her loose curls falling all around and in her blue eyes.

"God…Tony." She whispers as he holds her against the wall by pressure alone, his hands leaving her for seconds to undo his jeans.

Moments later and she buries her head in his neck, her ginger hair enveloping both of them, and the black La Perla she bought herself, from him, on her 31st birthday, is godknowswhere. And he presses into her, and there she is, between a wall and Tony Stark and surrounded by several million dollars' worth of cars and all she can think is that this is what she's been waiting for, all those years of bringing him coffee and coercing him into meetings and picking up the dry-cleaning.

And all he can think is that Pepper Potts is all he has, in this dark cold world, and she's so much more than that—she's warm and friendly and funny and sweet and she knows him better than he ever wants to know himself and this is what he's been waiting for, all those years of pretending to like her terrible coffee and going to meetings just so she'll smile at him in that way and having her pick up the dry-cleaning so she knows that the woman in his room means nothing to him.

And then neither of them can think.

And it's better than seeing him for the first time after thinking he was dead for three months, and it's better than flying at super-sonic speed around the world, and it's even better than an American cheeseburger after nothing but gruel.


She shudders against the wall and he collapses against her. And they stay there for several minutes, holding onto this moment that each is so terrified will disappear at any second.

And he pulls back and lets her slip down him and she quavers on her five-inch heels. She doesn't know what to say, if she should say anything, or where her clothes are, or how she's going to find them. And he can't seem to stop touching her, and his hands are skimming over her curves and he doesn't want to let go just in case when he does she never comes back.

She lifts one hand up to graze over the arc-reactor in his chest, and she laughs softly to hide her fear.

"I'm not one of those girls, you know. Not one of those girls you can just…throw out." She whispers as she concentrates on the flickering lines of the arc-reactor.

And he tips her chin up so she can't avoid his piercing gaze and he chuckles, "No, Pepper Potts, you're not. I thought I already told you. You're all I've got." And one side of his mouth quirks into a lopsided half-smile, "And I think…you're all I need."