Curious

By ZionAngel

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Tony stares down into his beer bottle at the few drops left in the bottom, swirling them around as Rhodey finishes off another slice of pizza. This is supposed to be a guy's night, hanging out in the home theatre and doing absolutely nothing useful on Rhodey's first weekend back from his tour in Afghanistan, but somehow Tony's mind keeps wandering elsewhere.

"Do you think she's gay?" he mutters absently in his friend's general direction.

"What?" The reply is a little slurred, and he notes that there are already two empty beer bottles on Rhodey's side of the table.

"My assistant."

"Piper?"

"Pepper." He clarifies, setting his own bottle on the table and propping his feet up. "I think she's gay."

"What?" Rhodey cranes his neck over the back of the couch toward the door, as if the woman in question is standing there for him to examine. "She doesn't seem gay."

"Oh, yeah, and you'd know." Not the answer he was looking for.

"So why the hell did you ask me?" Rhodes grumbles, glaring at him.

"She's been working for me for four weeks."

"Miss Potts has been in your employ for five weeks and three days, Sir," Jarvis chimes in, but is largely ignored.

"So?" Rhodey presses.

Tony just turns to him and gives him a long, dumbfounded stare. "Five weeks, Rhodey," he deadpans. "The only other assistant I've ever had who stayed that long was that ninety-year-old school-marm lady who only left when she broke her hip."

"Mrs. Hansen," Jarvis interjects again, calmly, "was fifty-three and in good health, Sir. She was in your employ six weeks before receiving an alternative offer of employment for a position which, as she put it, would not drive her insane."

Rhodey tosses the leftover crust of his pizza slice back in the box, taking another swig of his beer before continuing. "I thought the goal was to keep an assistant and get the board off your back for more than two days, why are you complaining?"

"Not the point," Tony grumbles. This really isn't the way this was supposed to go. Really, this whole situation with Pepper is starting to drive him up the fucking wall.

"Then what is the point?"

"Five fucking weeks, Rhodey!" he blurts out, losing his patience with the both of them. "Five fucking weeks and nothing I've done has worked at all."

"Oh, for cryin' out loud," Rhodes groans loudly, shaking his head. "Are you seriously that incapable of meeting a woman without trying to get her into bed? She's not even that attractive."

Tony stares again, truly incredulous at that last statement. "Did you get shrapnel blown in your eyes or something? Did you fucking see that woman's legs?" Okay, so Rhodes really only met Pepper for about two minutes when he arrived at the mansion earlier in the afternoon, but still. She was wearing a pair of strappy, dark red stilettos. How could he not have noticed her legs in those?

"So go out and find a redhead with nice legs somewhere."

"That's not the point, Rhodey. Seriously, nothing I do fucking works. If she responds to something at all it's just some sarcastic remark and then she just up and leaves. She's got to be a lesbian, what other explanation is there?" He wonders if he sounds more like he's ranting or whining at this point.

"Right. Because no woman could possibly -"

The click of high heels is already well inside the room by the time Rhodey shuts up.

"What are you still doing here?" Tony asks as nonchalantly as he can, trying not to think about how he never even heard the door open. He watches her over his shoulder as she approaches.

"Doing the paperwork for the new Tokyo branch so that you don't have to, Mr. Stark." She partially blocks his view of the TV screen as she comes to a stop by the couch, and hands him a document and a pen. "Sign these, please, or construction on the new facility won't get started on schedule."

He subtly kicks Rhodey as he shifts to take the papers, trying to wipe that idiotic deer-in-the-headlights look off his friend's face. He puts the folder in his lap as he signs the pages, and takes the opportunity to check out her shoes again. Closed-toed (he doesn't think he's seen her wear open-toed shoes yet), but the heels are a good four inches, and the straps that criss-cross back and forth over the top of her feet and her ankles look gorgeous, and the burgundy tone is perfect against her pale skin.

He knows for a fact that those heels would feel fucking amazing digging into his thighs. And that knowledge is frustrating as hell.

"You have that conference call with the board to finalize everything in the morning at 9:00, so don't drink too much." She takes back the papers he hands her, glances at them, and steps away from the couch. "I'll be going now, but I'll be back before the call in the morning. Have a good evening."

She walks away, the sound of those heels growing gradually quieter as she retreats toward the door. For a few relieved seconds, he thinks they might actually be in the clear.

But then her footsteps stop, just for a moment when she reaches the door. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Stark, but despite what your ego might lead you to believe, you're not irresistible."

And then she's gone, leaving him with only the sound of Rhodey, laughing openly at him.