Title: Blinding Heights: The Storm Arrives
Author: Sare Liz
Disclaimer: These character do not belong to me.
Continuity: Movieverse, fic: "Blinding Heights". Tony/Pepper
Rating: T for adult conversations about sex and relationships.
Note: Still, I am inspired by the theme to Casino Royale, "You Know My Name" by Chris Cornell.
When the storm arrives, would you be seen with me by the merciless eyes I've deceived?
"Mr. Stark! Mr. Stark!"
The reporters mobbed the Bentley – mostly paparazzi, as he didn't recognize most of the faces, but Happy made a hole and he walked through it without looking back. But he could still hear.
"Mr. Stark, is it true that…" The clicking of camera shutters, and other shouts to get his attention, to confirm or deny the suit of the city, the congressional investigations, two dozen false Iron Man sightings, and his latest bed partner. He ignored them all.
"Mr. Stark is not prepared to make a statement at this time. The press will be notified the next time Mr. Stark is prepared to make a statement. Thank you."
Walking through the door, what Tony Stark didn't hear was the click-clack of stilettos on concrete getting progressively louder, which would have alerted him to the fact that Pepper had successfully run the gauntlet. Instead he guessed that the crowd had encompassed her completely, because the shouts and camera shutters were all he could hear.
"Miss Potts! Is it true that you've been on-again off-again with Tony Stark for the last five years?"
"Miss Potts! How long have you known about Mr. Stark's mental instability?"
"Miss Potts! Is it true that he's building a suit of Iron Man armor for you? Will you be the next Iron Maiden?"
"Miss Potts! Is it true that you've raised three of Mr. Stark's illegitimate children for him?"
"Go get her," he murmured to Hogan, still facing the main welcome desk in his office building. He waved over a security guard at the same time.
"Yes, Mr. Stark?"
"Ask them politely to leave. Then use force. Uninvited reporters and photographers are now banned from all SI property in the city, effective immediately, until further notice."
"Yes, Mr. Stark."
Three security guards joined the first and headed out the door, through which, even closed, he could hear the press.
Arms crossed, facing away from the glass doors of the entrance, Tony Stark took a deep breath and waited. And he listened. He heard the soft woosh of the door being opened again, heard the guards sternly ordering the persistent ones that they were trespassing and would be forcibly removed if they did not vacate immediately. He heard the soft tread of Hogan, and the distinctive clip of Pepper.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Stark," came her cool tones as she walked toward him, and they started across the vast open hall, leaving Hogan to his own devices.
"Least I could do for the woman who raised my three illegitimate children."
"Yes, Tony, Jr. and his sisters have missed you, so. You never call, you never visit," she deadpanned as they walked to the elevators.
He raised an eyebrow. "I missed Ginny and Pepper's birthday again, didn't I?"
"Don't you usually?" she asked wryly.
"I'll make it up to them."
"I don't see how. Twin 11 year old girls don't forget this sort of thing."
"How could you have raised my 11 year olds if you've only been working for me for the last nine years? We need to work on this story."
"Why would you name your imaginary twin daughters after me?" she countered, ignoring her lack of mathematical consistency.
"We named our first after me. I thought we could name the next two after you, the genders being what they were."
It was just as well that the elevator was empty. She turned her head slowly to meet his gaze for the first time since their banter began.
"We? Our? I wasn't aware that I was the mother of said imaginary illegitimate children of yours."
A slow smile crept up as he took in the fact that her amused detachment was becoming less and less detached.
"Worried you won't make a good mom? I bet you will. I hear no complains from Junior, for instance."
"That's because Junior doesn't exist. This is how malicious rumor starts, you know - inane conversations like this."
"Malicious? You, the mother of my children, imaginary or otherwise – malicious? You know, malicious rhymes with delicious. I like delicious better. Let's call it a delicious rumor instead."
"Tony, be serious," she said as they walked toward his office.
"Which reminds me. What am I doing Saturday?"
She checked her blackberry and responded, dropping her purse on the top of her desk and following him into his office, letting the doors swing shut behind them. "Your schedule is free, unless you decide to stay in Washington. Then you'll be free, but in D.C."
"Great," he said, walking over to the window and looking out, crossing his arms once more. "What are you doing Saturday?"
There was the pause of a heartbeat before she answered. "Are you asking if I have plans?"
Here goes nothing: the end of flirting, the beginning of honesty. "Not really. I'm asking if you'd like to have plans with me."
"What sort of plans did you have in mind?" she asked, her voice going a bit lower. He wondered if she knew she did that, sometimes.
Still, Tony's heart skipped a beat at her words. Still facing away from her, he turned his head and saw her stance mirror his own, arms crossed defensively, features cautiously closed. He returned his gaze back to the morning horizon through the glass.
"I'm thinking of sending the yacht down to Costa Rica. Thought we could go down there, after the meetings on Friday." He could hear her step, muted through the carpeting. He listened to the silence of her step until she was level with him at the windows. Tony dropped his arms and clasped his hands behind his back.
"Hm. Well, I did have plans, as a matter of fact," she responded softly, her voice quiet and low.
"You know I hate it when you have plans," he murmured to the window, as if to her.
"Yes, I know. Sometimes I do it anyway. Mostly you never know."
Tony swallowed down that little piece of information and decided to consider it later, perhaps, depending on how badly this present conversation went.
"These plans… Are they date-type plans? Boyfriend-plans?"
"Who's asking?" she retorted with a tone of mild incredulity. "Mr. Stark, Iron Man, or Tony?"
He cocked his head to the side and looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "Who do you want to be asking?"
She turned and leaned a shoulder against the glass, her arms still folded across her chest, blackberry in hand. "Well, from Mr. Stark it would be sexual harassment, and it would be none of Iron Man's business. That leaves Tony."
"And who is Tony?" he asked, turning as well, and facing her for the first time in their conversation, and standing less than an arm's length away.
"A friend, of sorts. A little misguided, sometimes. He's got some issues, but he's not a bad guy. Neither is he what my mother would term, "a nice young man", but he's not bad."
Tony took a half step toward her and quirked his eyebrow again. "Is he boyfriend material?"
Pepper remained where she was, arms crossed and leaning one shoulder against the expansive windows behind his desk. "Based on previous experience?" she asked. "No."
"But what about now?"
"Now? Maybe. Maybe."
"Okay. Tony's asking," he said, quirking his lips in a little maybe-grin.
"Asking if your Saturday plans were date or boyfriend related."
"Possibly. It's hard to tell."
He gave her a look. She was flirting, and that was encouraging. She was also prevaricating, and that was less encouraging. "It's not hard to tell if someone asks you out on a date, Pepper."
"Well, a sort of friend asked me to accompany him on his yacht in Costa Rica. Many things are implied but nothing is explicit. And I haven't decided whether to go or not, yet."
"I meant the other plans."
"Those plans?" she asked, putting on her best passive press corps face. "No, I have no comment on those plans."
"But what if they are date-related? I can't imagine you stringing two men along at the same time. Not very nice of you, Pepper."
"And now you're assuming quite a lot: two men, stringing them along, and my own capacity for niceness. I'm not nice. I'm not even always polite. Mostly, I am efficient, and that always seems to work in my favor."
"Seriously, Pepper." Did he just say that? He didn't just say that. Surely he only thought it.
"Seriously, Tony." Funny, she didn't look too serious.
"Are you already involved with someone?"
You're all I have, too, she had said. But maybe she'd been exaggerating… True, not much time had passed since then, only a month or so, but still. She was intelligent, engaging, and gorgeous – every day that passed was another day she could meet someone else. Enough days had passed. Hell, he could pick up a woman with a look and a smile, fifteen seconds or less. Hogan had timed him, once. It would probably take any man longer with Pepper, but certainly a month was enough time.
"Do I have a snowball's chance in hell, here?" he added.
"Those are two very different questions." Her arms were still crossed, but he had now stepped right up to her, hands still clasped behind his back. Thanks to her four inch heels, they were exactly the same height.
"And I'd love to have both of them answered," he replied, his voice close to a rasping whisper. Six inches of air stood between them, thickly.
"No, and we'll see."
He smiled broadly and she shifted so she was leaning back fully against the glass. Tony shifted, too. His right arm came up, elbow against the glass by her head and he, too, leaned toward the glass, and of course, Pepper. In fact, he kept leaning in until his lips were by her ear. Tony put his other hand in his pocket.
"So, got any plans for Saturday?" he asked quietly, the rush of air from his words brushing past her ear.
"It seems I'll be off the coast of Costa Rica," she said in that voice that low and delicious.
Which is what he blamed his next actions on, in retrospect: that low, delicious voice she sometimes used. Tony planted the tiniest of kisses just below her ear, at the edge of her jawline. It was really less of a kiss and more of a brush of lips, the same sort of brushing of lips that he did intermittently down her jaw, over her chin, and to the corner of her lips. Her breathing had increased, he noticed. He brushed his lips over hers ever so briefly before tracing his path back to her ear.
"Don't forget your bikini. It would be a shame if you had to tan in the nude."
"I don't tan, Tony, I burn."
He pulled back a bit and smirked at her. "You can tan by moonlight. It's great. You'll see."
She narrowed her eyes and before he knew it, her arms weren't crossed in front of her chest anymore. The hand that wasn't holding the blackberry was at the back of his neck, securing him and pulling herself away from the window. "Don't assume too much, Mr. Stark," she said, just before she kissed him with closed lips, firmly, but briefly.
"Mr. Stark?" he asked when she had ended the kiss and leaned against the window once more. He licked his lips and enjoyed the taste of her. "When did he come in? I thought you were talking with Tony."
"Well, now I'm talking with all three of you: don't assume too much. You're all I've got, and I'm not throwing that away just so I can fall in bed with you this weekend."
Tony noticed that her hand was still at the back of his neck. He really was trying not to assume too much, but he was having a difficult time, his track record being what it was.
"We don't have to use a bed. There are always deck chairs. And who said it was limited to this weekend?"
"You heard me, Tony. I'm not having sex with you."
He couldn't keep the horrified look off of his face. "Ever?"
"Not as a prelude, anyway," she replied, rolling her eyes and smiling at his moment of panic.
"Okay," he said, relief flooding his system. He leaned in and kissed her, but this time it was less brief, and significantly less vanilla. Her tongue, he found, tasted wonderfully good. Eventually the kiss ended, but not before he was completely satisfied with it.
"Tony, what are we doing?"
Somehow his hand had left his pocket and lay on her hip. Her blackberry was being pressed into his chest. His other arm was still bracing himself on the window, but it had shifted, and that hand managed to cradle her head at the same time. It was a cozy position, and Tony thought it was rather obvious what they were getting up to in his office.
"In English, we call this kissing."
"That's not what I mean," she said, and Tony was lulled the pleasant sensation of her short fingernails scratching at the base of his skull. "I don't want a fling with you, Tony. It would break my heart, and you'd lose a damn fine assistant. You know I hate job hunting."
"Well, Pepper, you're in luck," he said, and as he spoke, his thumb gently caressed her hip. "I don't want a fling, either, and I don't want a new assistant. What are we doing? I have no idea. I've never actually done this before."
"Tony, you've had hundreds of—"
"This. I've never done this before. And make no mistake, I have no idea what I'm doing. Feel free to give direction. Sex, yes, I'm an expert. Pick up lines I've got aplenty. I can be charming. Hell, I'm Prince Charming. But this? Whatever this is, I've never been here before."
"You mean we're in virgin territory for you?" she asked with an eyebrow raised and an amused tone of voice.
At that response, he gave in and buried his face in the crook of her neck. He nuzzled down until he was inside of her collar where he could lick and nip and suck to his heart's content. When he felt her shudder and gasp, he paused to ask, "How interesting?" before continuing on his gentle but persistent ministrations, which, yes, would probably leave tell tale marks.
"Very interesting," she managed to say without much change to her voice.
"Interesting enough for me to have my way with you on my desk?" he murmured into her neck.
At that he surfaced, licked his lips, and pronounced his opinion on the matter: "Shame."
"Hardly," she said, looking him in the eye. "You wanted direction, here it is. Don't expect sex on the first date."
"Could Costa Rica count as the first three?" he asked, full of hope.
"No. And I'm not counting, but neither will I fall into bed with you on the first opportunity. As friends go, Tony, you're really only sort of a friend. You're mostly my boss. And I know a lot about you, but how much do you know about me? Lines are crossed pretty often between us, but if we're going to date, I need to spend time with you where it's just you and me, and it's got nothing to do with Stark Industries and the fact that I'm your personal assistant. Does that make sense?"
He sighed, because it made more sense than he was really wanting to admit. He looked up to the top of the window, where it met the ceiling, and addressed his comments to that point of the wall. "I can see that masturbation will continue to be a part of my evenings for the foreseeable future."
Pepper sighed. "I didn't say I wouldn't ever have sex with you, Tony."
"Good," he said, looking back down and into her eyes. "Because that would be tragic. Whenever it is we get around to it, sex between you and I, Pepper Potts, is going to be mind-blowingly good. It's going to be scream yourself hoarse, die a little death, heaven on earth good. The angels will weep, Pepper, for the sheer beauty of witnessing the two of us together."
"Good," she commented nonchalantly, leaning up to give him a peck on the cheek before walking across the room. "It's been ages since I had a decent orgasm," she said, just before she opened the door and left.