Walking In Backwards

Rating: M, 2008 Movieverse

Pairing: Tony/Pepper

Synopsis: It's hard working for Stark Industries...

Disclaimer: SO not mine.

Pepper Potts looks at the computer screen. A beeping sound alerts her to yet another batch of incoming emails for Tony Stark; anything and everything from Nigerian businessmen looking for a new partner to yet another offer from Playgirl who just won't take no for an answer.

She looks at the small clock flashing in the bottom right of her screen. 4:55 p.m. The edge of her mouth twitches as she watches it flick over to 4:56.

"Pepper?" Tony Stark's voice comes over the intercom. "I'm going to be leaving in a few minutes for the evening's engagements. Anything I need to know before I go?"

"Hold on." Her long slender fingers dance over the keyboard, bringing up small window after small window of schedules and information. "You have an early-morning meeting with the Board at 8:00 a.m. Keep that in mind, please."

A rough laugh. "Who scheduled that? I hate mornings."

"You did." She can't help a smirk escaping; no one can see except Jarvis and he knows when to keep a secret. "It's to discuss future investments and it was the only spot open in the appointment book."

A flurry of curses fill the air, most of which she already knows and a few she suspects are being made up on the spur of the moment. Finally it dies down to a loud grumbling. "I'll see you tomorrow, then."

"Good night, Tony." She cuts off the connection and turns her attention back to the screen. 5:00 p.m. exactly. Pepper initiates the shutdown procedure, watching carefully as the screen goes blank. She lets her breath out slowly, sagging down in the plush office chair. Reaching down she pulls off her shoes and wriggles her toes; stifling a yawn as she reaches up over her head and flexes her fingers.

Out of the corner of her eye she spots Tony's car racing down the driveway, definitely driving too fast.

The redhead leisurely walks to her own car in the underground garage, fumbling in her jacket pocket for her keys.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Ms Potts." Jarvis purrs as she opens the door.

"Later, Jarvis." The engine starts up and she taps the gas pedal delicately, avoiding the burn marks of previous cars that have raced up and out of the garage.

The GPS in her car points the way to her home until she taps in alternative coordinates; the screen changing to display traffic conditions. As usual, leaving in rush hour has trapped her in a mass of moving metal that doesn't relent until she reaches her turnoff and can escape. Reaching up behind her Pepper pulls the small elastic that hold her hair back in a ponytail, letting the reddish locks fall around her shoulders.

The parking lot is nearly full when she pulls into her spot; her small compact out of place among the Mercedes Benz and the Jaguars prowling the lanes. She gets out of the car and turns the alarm on with the remote hanging from her keychain still the same.

Her Blackberry hums with a text message.

YOURE LATE.

Her thumbs fly over the miniature keyboard.

COULDNT LEAVE BEFORE THE BOSS.

The response is swift.

BASTARD.

She chuckles as she strolls towards the front door, her overnight bag slung over one shoulder. The Blackberry is turned off and slipped into a side pocket of her purse, to be ignored for at least twelve hours, as per her usual routine.

The doorman nods to her, returning to his audit of the daily newspaper. He says nothing.

The elevator ride up is silent and quiet and lonely. She has never seen the other occupants of the building and has no wish to, to be brutally honest. One of the reasons this complex was chosen was the emphasis on privacy and comfort.

Don't ask, don't tell in its purest form, in other words.

The walk down the hallway takes only a few minutes and she pauses at the door, fumbling in her purse for the key. It's on a special keychain and set apart from her other keys.

Before she can find it the door opens.

The redhead laughs and walks into the darkness.

The arms swoop around her before her eyes have a chance to adjust, pressing her up against the closed door. She can feel the roughness of his beard on her neck as he lays down a trail of wet kisses.

"Your boss is an asshole." He mumbles between kisses.

"You may be the last man in the world to realize that." Her jacket falls to the ground along with her blouse which she's been unbuttoning since the elevator stopped. The overnight bag lands with a soft thud on the carpet.

"I got dinner." He steps back with a wide grin. "Figured we'd eat first."

"You cooked?" She laughs as she walks into the kitchen, the smallest room in the entire condominium. Goosebumps appear on her naked skin as she surveys the small boxes with a familiar logo on the side.

"If by 'cooked' you mean 'ordered and picked up on the way home', then yes I cooked." The dark-haired man reaches for the paper plates so thoughtfully provided by the Chinese restaurant. "And I got extra shrimp so don't even think about stealing all of mine." He points at her with a pair of cheap wooden chopsticks. "And don't even think of getting dressed again." A leer appears as his eyes drag over the black lacy bra. "I'll even turn the heat up."

"No problem." She stares at him, the ratty and worn t-shirt and sweatpants his usual after-work attire. "But then you have to lose the shirt."

"Agreed." He yanks it over his head and tosses it into the far corner to be retrieved by the maid that comes in once a week, whether the place needs it or not.

As she loads up the two plates with obscene amounts of food and makes a mental note to spend at least two hours in the Stark Industries company gym tomorrow he wanders out to the living room with two cold bottles of diet soda and begins to set up.

Setting up consists of pulling out the sofa into the largest pull-out bed she has ever seen. The first time he "modified" the living room he admitted, under duress, that he had special-ordered it specifically for this purpose.

"Look, there's no need to get all fancy with a bedroom and all that." He waved his hands in the air. "Because when it all comes down to it we're going to be spending as much time in bed as we can and it might as well be comfortable." A slight leer touched his lips. "Unless you plan to be entertaining guests…"

Which, of course, earned him a righteous smack on his bare ass and even more sexual innuendo in response. Still, it had proven to be the right choice and she wonders at times why it hasn't caught on in more places.

She carries the plates into the living room, carefully climbing up on the king-sized bed and handing him his portion. Scooting back against the over-sized pillows behind her she digs in, discovering that she is more hungry than she thought.

"Did you skip lunch again?" He mumbles through a mouthful of sesame noodles.

"Boss needed some files."

"Your boss is an asshole."

"I believe we already agreed on that." This time it's through a mouthful of chow mein which, as he reminds her yet again, is not actually a Chinese dish.

After a few minutes of gorging themselves he finds the television remote and begins flipping through channels as she puts both plates on the table beside them. That habit came into existence after finding too many crumbs in embarrassing places the morning after.

He pauses on an all-news channel. The scenes are startling in their honesty. A pack of gunmen waving rifles in the air; APCs rumbling through a barren landscape, a family with the remains of their home burning behind them.

She snatches it away and turns the channel. Now is not the time.

"If it bleeds it leads, right?" He turns to her with a forced smile. A tear threatens to break loose out of his right eye and he blinks wildly, pulling it back inside.

"Shut up." She finds a cooking show and tosses the remote into the darkness. There are no other lights in the room other than the television set casting eerie shadows over them. "Just… don't."

It is a plea and a curse and a request that he can't refuse for tonight. At least for tonight.

Suddenly he lunges for her, capturing her in his arms and rolling into the center of the mattress where he makes short work of the bra and the skirt she's still wearing; yanking the underwear free with a muffled curse.

For her part she's not passive; wrapping her hands around the waistband of his sweatpants and pulling them down. One eyebrow rises as she discovers no other impediments.

"Going commando?"

"Only when you're around." He whispers back, burying his face in her long red curls. She feels a sudden dampness on her skin, chilling her to the bone.

Her mumbled reply is lost as his hands wander up and down her body, causing involuntary shivers that only encourage him. The rough calloused fingers somehow turn into soft caresses that search out each and every super-sensitive spot on her body; pausing just long enough to tease her to new heights of pleasure and then dance away with a grin and a nudge of his hips as he pulls her even closer.

When she can think she fights back; dipping her head down to nibble at that particular spot on his neck that brings out a guttural moan while her hands shift and squeeze, stroke and tickle to the point of no return.

He twists and turns until he is on top; snickering as she opens her mouth to issue a warning that she thought they had agreed that next time and is silenced with a deep kiss that wipes the thought from her mind and replaces it with absolute nothingness.

Her hands split their attack, one grabbing the back of his head with fingers tangling in his hair while the other slides down between them, batting away his own investigating fingers to take hold of him with definite ownership.

His head lifts up, catching her eyes. "Bossy."

"Assertive."

"Bitch."

"Asshole." She punctuates the word with a gentle squeeze that chokes his response deep in his throat, replacing it with a growl that trails off into a needy whine.

"Yep." He snarls as he increases the pressure, his hips shifting from side to side.

Her legs move to wrap around his; both trapping him and freeing him. She gasps as he moves into her, arching up from the bed as his hands move around to the small of her back and yanks her up against him.

His teeth land on her shoulder, nipping at the skin. She knows he won't break the skin; it's too much evidence to leave behind. But he skirts the edge and dances on the precipice until she begins to feel the familiar swirl of heat under his hands making her gasp for air.

And, as usual, the bastard is smiling even as he grits his teeth and thrusts harder; pushing his own control to the edge. Being a true gentleman he won't finish until she is fully and truly satisfied if it takes ten minutes or two hours.

Fortunately she is so attuned to his touch that she surrenders to him without much of a fight; dragging him along for the ride as he screams silently into her shoulder and she collapses limp in his embrace.

With a visible effort he rolls to one side and reaches for the remote, turning the television set off and leaving them in darkness. And as the sweat cools on their skin she reaches out and covers the arc reactor with her hand; both of them watching as the light turns her fingers translucent, leaving only the bones visible. He closes his eyes, placing his hand atop hers as they both slip into a sound sleep.

She wakes the next morning to an empty bed, a single rose daintily deposited on the pillow beside her. Her eyes flash to the television set, set to her favorite morning news show, and the small clock at the bottom of the screen.

8:45 a.m.

She showers and dresses quickly, scampering down to her car with the overnight bag that is tossed into the back seat for later retrieval.

Technically she starts at 9:00 a.m. Of course, technically she doesn't work past 5:00 p.m. and while that has actually become possible of late she has racked up way more than enough overtime hours to justify a late start every now and then.

"Good morning, Ms Potts." Jarvis's voice is steady and even.

"Good morning." She nearly runs for the coffee machine, filling a Stark Industries mug to the top with hot, fresh coffee. "Where's Mr. Stark?"

"He is currently on route from his morning meeting." A pause as Jarvis makes calculations too fast for the human mind. "He will be arriving in five minutes. Three." The robotic voice has a tone of disapproval. "He is speeding."

"Not surprising." Pepper sits down at her desk and opens up the email program. Yet another dozen offers for investments, requests for interviews and two more from Playgirl and some foreign magazine that claims to do very tasteful nude layouts.

"Ms Potts." Suddenly he is there in the doorway, looking quite dapper in one of his expensive suits and with a bit of weariness in his eyes.

"How did the meeting go?" She looks up from the monitor.

"Just fine. But I don't like morning meetings. Don't schedule me for one again. Even if I say to." He turns on one heel as if to leave then pauses. "And put aside another evening next week; same engagement as last night."

Pepper reaches for the Blackberry, tapping on the keyboard to enter the data. "Confirmed."

"So, how was your night?" He looks over the sunglasses precariously perched on his nose with just a whisper of a grin on his face.

"Not so great." The redhead enjoys watching his face fall, if only for a second. "My date left too early."

"Bastard." Stark snaps back, just a bit too quickly. "I'll kick his ass if you want me to."

"Thanks for the offer but I think I'll just keep working on him." Her attention returns to the keyboard but she can feel a faint heat in her cheeks. "I believe you have a lunch date with the Air Force and then another meeting with a group of charity organizations."

"Well, then." He finishes pivoting. "I'll be in the workshop if you need me."

"Yes, Tony." Pepper looks at the retreating form, her eyes staring unabashedly at his ass. Then he is out of sight and she lets out a sigh and returns to work.