Pepper types her code in the door to the workshop and the music suddenly stopped.

"How many times do I have to tell you NOT to turn down my music!" Tony yelled.

"Tony, I need you to sign off on the rest of these reports so I can get them over to R&D before they leave for the holiday."

Tony looked at his watch and said, "It's only 11:30 in the morning, why are you rushing me?"

"Because, Mr. Stark, after I drop these back at Stark Industries, I am starting my holiday vacation and I have a lot to do."

"Plans? You have plans again? I have told you on numerous occasions that I do not like it when you have plans."

"I am well aware of that, Mr. Stark, but it is Christmas Eve and I have been planning this for months."

"Christmas is overrated," replied Tony. "Just what are your plans exactly?" Tony felt like a masochist. He wanted to have plans with her. He always wanted to have plans with her, but he never seemed to have the courage to tell her. He laughed at the irony. As Ironman he faced death on almost every mission, but the thought of telling his PA and best friend that she was the only thing in the world that he loved stopped him dead in his tracks every time.

"What's so funny?" asked Pepper.

"Nothing. What did you say your plans were?" Tony asked changing the subject.

"I'm cooking dinner for a friend. And I still have to go to the market, decorate the house and get a few last minute gifts."

He felt like a knife went through his heart. "Great, enjoy it." He said, with the sarcasm dripping from his lips. "Here." He said as he thrust the signed papers back into her hands. He turned back to his desk and muttered, "Merry Christmas, Miss Potts."

Pepper froze for a second and seriously began to re-think her plans; plans that she had had for seven months. She was positive that if she could just get through the next seven hours, everything would be as it should. The sadness in his voice was enough to break her heart. She took a deep breath and replied, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Stark."

He heard her heels click out of his workshop but he didn't hear her conversation with Jarvis on the other side of the door.

"Okay, Jarvis, is everything ready?"

"Absolutely, Miss Potts. I have gone over everything in the schedule and there appears to be no chance for errors."

"All we have to hope is that Tony stays in the workshop until it's time."

"Miss Potts, once he sees you leave, I believe his desire will be to work nonstop throughout the evening; only coming up on December 26th."

"Let's hope so. Okay Jarvis, the plan starts now."

As predicted, 5 minutes after Pepper left the workshop, Tony yelled out to Jarvis. "Jarvis!"

"Yes, sir," replied Jarvis.

"Has Miss Potts left the mansion yet?"

"Yes, sir. She is currently in her car in the driveway. Would you like a visual?"

Tony decided he was a masochist after all.

"Give me visual," he said.

On his computer monitor, he watched as Pepper drove down the long driveway and out the gates. Tony put his head in his hands for five minutes. When he finally snapped back to life, he began barking orders at Dummy and Butterfingers. "Jarvis, no interruptions, PERIOD!"

"As you wish, sir." If Jarvis was an actual human, this last statement would have been accompanied by him crossing his fingers behind his back. Jarvis also had to temporarily reconfigure the security monitoring so that if Mr. Stark happened to view any video feed in the house or on the property, it would confirm that he was the only one on the property when, in fact, he was not.


At precisely 6:31 pm the electricity in Tony's workshop went out.


"I am attempting to locate the problem sir. But it appears that the auxiliary switch in the main electrical box needs to be physically replaced."

"That's just fucking great. I don't suppose we have a back up switch here do we?" Tony asked.

"There should be one located upstairs in the supply closet, but either way, you will need to physically retrieve and replace the switch." Jarvis replied rather convincingly.

"Alright, fine." Tony headed up the stairs, cursing under his breath, to the main floor and saw the lights on. When he reached the top step, he looked up and stopped. He was staring at a fully decorated Christmas tree. Not the professional kind that Pepper usually ordered, but one that resembled the kind his family used to put up when he was a child.

Even though they were quite wealthy, Maria Stark had always insisted that the Stark Family Christmas tree be adorned by the family with ornaments that signified something meaningful. It was one of the most cherished memories from his childhood. But ever since his parents died, he never had the stomach to decorate a tree. Truth be told, it was probably due more to the fact that he didn't really have a "family" to decorate it with.

So every year, he always had Pepper order a fully decorated tree and, although they were always stunning, they never really did much for Tony. In fact, in light of this year's events that had taken place, he instructed Pepper to not even bother with a tree this year. Obviously, she didn't listen.

When he moved closer to the tree, he noticed that many of the ornaments on the tree were ones that he recognized from his youth. There was the angel ornament welded together out of left over circuitry and copper wiring that he made when he was six, there was also the Stark family handprint ornament, and one he had never seen before. It was a pretzel wreath ornament intertwined with a faded ribbon. The picture in the center was a red-headed freckle face girl who looked no older than 4. On the back of the ornament was a date of December, 1977.

He heard some humming coming from the kitchen and started to head that way when his eye caught the mantel of the fireplace. Hanging there were 5 oversized stockings with the names: Tony, Pepper, Jarvis, Dummy, Butterfingers. Tony had to choke back the sob in his throat.

He rounded the corner to the kitchen and saw Pepper.

"It's about time," she teased. "Didn't Jarvis cut the power 10 minutes ago?"

"Huh?" It was the only thought he was able to come up at that particular moment.

"I had Jarvis cut the power to the workshop. It was the only way I knew to get you out of there."

"Pepper, what are you doing here? What happened to your plans?"

"This" she said waving her arms about, "is my plan. I told you I was making dinner for a friend, which is currently on the stove. I also told you that I had some decorating to do, which you must have passed on your way in here. And I had some last minute gifts to pick up, which are currently under the tree." She said with a completely matter of fact tone.

"This? All of this was your plans all along?" he asked again. He wanted to make sure that he wasn't hearing things or misinterpreting things.

"Yes, Tony," she replied softly. She saw the look in his eye and almost melted right there on the kitchen floor. It was the look genuine happiness. She leaned in and gave soft kiss on the corner of his mouth. He wasn't sure if it was a "best friend friend" kind of kiss or a "best friend lover" kind of kiss but at that moment he really didn't care.

She knew that she loved Tony, was in love with Tony, and every ounce of her body yearned to be with him. She knew he cared for her, hopefully even loved her and their playful flirtatious banter probably held more truth in it than anything. It was in that arena where Tony was the most comfortable expressing his feelings for her. But she also knew that Tony would never cross the line into a physical relationship with her until she was ready. Tonight she was ready and she was prepared for everything.

Pepper needed to lighten the mood for her own sanity, plus she wanted to test the water.

"Mr. Stark, you must be starving." She reached into the refrigerator and pulled out a full platter of prepared oysters on the half shell and placed them on the counter.

"Oysters, Miss Potts. I do believe that many cultures view oysters as an aphrodisiac."

"Really, you don't say." She took one off the platter and instantly sucked it down. "And just how many do you think one needs to swallow" she paused for effect "in order to induce said state?"

He could feel the blood start rushing downward and he was pretty sure that was Pepper's intended result.

"Watching you eat another one of those might just do it for me."

Pepper giggled and bit her lower lip. "Mr. Stark, dinner will be ready in 20 minutes. Why don't you take a quick shower, grab a bottle of wine and then we can start to celebrate Christmas Eve."

"Why don't you join me in the shower and we can start celebrating right now." Tony asked lustfully.

She shot Tony a look. He laughed and said, "Can't blame a guy for trying. After all it is Christmas, the time of miracles." But this night is already a miracle, he thought to himself as he headed for the shower. He figured he was going to need to be a cold shower if he had any hope of getting through the evening.

Standing under the water, he knew this was the night. Pepper had made the first move, leap really, and if she was willing to put herself out there, then he was going to seize the opportunity.

"Hey Jarvis," Tony said.

"Yes sir," responded the trusty AI.

"As payback for your "electricity out shenanigans" I am going to need for you to fully execute file GFMTL, with the following additions." Tony rattled off some additional instructions and then added, "and Jarvis, please make sure that you RSVP to the Watson party for tomorrow evening. I am suddenly feeling in a festive mood."

Tony shaved, conditioned his goatee, and dressed in a pair of black slacks and deep crimson pullover. He selected a pinot noir from the wine cellar; Pepper and he had visited the particular winery and he knew it was one of her favorites. He made it back to the kitchen with 2 minutes to spare.

"Perfect timing," Pepper said as she saw him round the corner.

"What would you like me to do?" Tony asked.

"Why don't you pour the wine? Dinner is already on the table. I am just waiting for the bread to be done."

Tony reached passed her to grab the glasses. She took a deep breath and inhaled his scent. It was unmistakably Tony and she felt her knees go weak. Tony noticed the reaction and whispered in her ear, "I guess you approve Miss Potts."

"Oh, most definitely." she replied barely audible.


Dinner was great. They shared memories of holidays gone by. Tony regaled Pepper with stories of his hilarious holiday antics. The time he set fire to an original Picasso when he supercharged the Christmas tree light display; then there was the great Christmas train crash where Tony managed to completely annihilate his mother's prized Dicken's Village with the "reconfigured" Lionel train set. Pepper recounted the time she nearly froze to death when the neighbor kids literally turned her into a snowman and the time she ate the entire batch of Christmas cookies that her mother baked for the church bake sale; she was sick for a week.

They had laughed so hard that their sides hurt. Pepper loved the way Tony looked right now, happy and relaxed. She hoped he felt the same way because she wasn't sure she would be able to go back even if she wanted to.

The wine and food were long gone, but they were both still sitting at the table. It was the greatest "date" Tony could ever remember being on. Being with Pepper was so easy and he thought of that cheesy line from a Tom Cruise movie; but with Pepper it was true: she did complete him. He was going to make sure that this night was the start of the rest of their lives together.

"Since you cooked, I'll do the dishes," Tony said as he pushed back from the table.

"Then I will clear the table so we can continue with the Christmas Eve plans," Pepper replied as she stood up.

Tony found himself face to face with Pepper and, again, at a total loss for words. "Pepper, uh, dinner was, uh dinner was really great, amazingly great and I uh..."

Pepper knew Tony tended to ramble when he was nervous or unsure of himself. It was actually one of the traits that she found so charming. She wasn't sure where her confidence was coming from, but she didn't care. She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a very soft, lingering kiss. As she pulled away she said, "Merry Christmas, Tony."

"Um, okay, I don't know what else you have "planned" for the evening, but I'm thinking I would like to do a lot more of THAT." Tony suggested.

Pepper giggled. "We just finished dinner and you want dessert already?"

"You know me Pep, I'm always up for dessert, no pun intended" Tony laughed.

"If you manage to behave yourself through the showing of the pre-selected holiday classic movie, I think I could be persuaded into an early dessert. I'm thinking Banana Splits." Pepper instructed.

Tony loved ice cream and banana splits ranked very high on his all time favorite lists. "I don't suppose the pre-selected classic is a very short cartoon like Frosty the Snowman, is it."

"You are so bad!" Pepper managed to get out while suppressing even more laughter. "The quicker you finish those dishes, the quicker the movie will start. I'll be waiting in the living room."

Tony finished the dishes in record time and made his way to the living room. The fireplace and Christmas tree were providing the sole light for the large space. Pepper was sitting on the couch with her feet propped up on the ottoman coffee table. Tony took a throw pillow off the couch and proceeded to stretch out on the couch, resting his head in Pepper's lap.

The movie was just about to start when Jarvis' voice came through the ceiling speakers. "Excuse me sir, but I wanted to inform you that I have fully executed the GFMTL file and all required components are available in the workshop for your review."

Tony responded, "I only want to review item number one. Please leave that displayed on my desk in the requested location. All other items can be placed in the previously mentioned location at the previously agreed upon time."

"Very well, sir."

Pepper asked, "What was that all about?"

"Well this entire evening was sprung on me, so to speak, and there were some necessary things that I needed Jarvis to attend to." Tony tried to act nonchalant, but he really wanted to change the subject.

"Jarvis, please start the movie." Tony requested.

As the movie played, Pepper had draped her arm over Tony's chest. He, in turn had taken her hands into his and every so often he kissed her fingertips.

About halfway through the movie, Tony rolled over to face Pepper.

"I have a question I have to know the answer to right now." He stated.

"Oooookay," she replied quizzically.

"Do you have an innie or an outie?"

Pepper laughed. His genius mind did work in strange ways. "Tony, what on earth made you think of that?"

"I don't know. I just realized that I have been laying so close to your belly button and after all these years, I have no idea."

"Jarvis, please pause the movie." Pepper requested and then looked down at Tony's face. "Well, Mr. Stark, why don't you see for yourself."

His eyes opened so wide that Pepper thought they would fall right out of their sockets. "Seriously?" he asked.

Pepper just smiled a devilish smile and nodded.

He slowly lifted her shirt and exposed a perfectly round, perfectly perfect belly button. Then he did what came naturally to Tony. He pressed his lips to her skin and traced the outline of her navel with his tongue. She shuddered slightly and held her breath. She knew there was no turning back, and she didn't want to. She was ready for dessert.

All he could think was that this was Pepper, his Pepper and he was tasting her soft skin and that it tasted oddly familiar. He pulled away, sat up next to her on the couch and gave her a confused stare.

"Something wrong Mr. Stark?" Pepper asked with that same devilish grin on her face.

"Miss Potts, are you aware that your belly button tastes like banana?"

"Hmmm. You know, Mr. Stark, I told you that a banana split might be on the dessert menu. Although, I have to admit, I didn't think it would be the first flavor you would find."

"Excuse me, WHAT?"

"I said…."Pepper started to repeat herself.

"Oh, I heard what you said. It just that I think my brain may have actually shut down upon hearing the words, first flavor you would find."

Pepper giggled and bit at her lower lip. Tony could feel himself getting hard.

"Miss Potts, are you trying to tell me that there are a variety of different flavors that make up a banana split strategically placed on various parts of your body for me to find?"

"See, I knew you weren't just a pretty face." Pepper whispered in a low, sultry voice, "So, Mr. Stark, are you ready for a scavenger hunt?"

She didn't wait for his answer; she just pressed her mouth over his. This kiss wasn't like the soft kiss she had given him in the dining room. This one was full of womanly desire. She slowly moved to straddle his lap while she moved her tongue into his mouth. She had wanted to do this for so long. She had dreamed of what this moment might feel like, what Tony would taste like. The real thing was better than even she imagined.

Tony was totally in awe. He had been with lots of women, so he had experienced many first kisses. But, nothing, nothing at all could be compared with the first real kiss with Pepper. He was trying his best not to become overemotional at the moment, but he really didn't think he could trust himself. He had been consciously waiting for this moment for months and months, although he was pretty sure he had been in love with her for years.

When they finally broke for air, Tony was the first one to speak.

"Oh my God, Pepper. I love you. I have loved you for so long and I want you to stay here, with me, tonight. Well, every night really. I don't really know…."

Again, she stopped his rambling with a deep, passionate kiss. When they broke apart the second time she was in complete control.

"Tony, you're all I have and I love you. The only place I am planning on going is to your bed, right now." She slowly got off the couch and held out her hand to him. He took it and let her lead him up the stairs.

The next few minutes felt completely surreal to Tony. He had fantasized about taking Pepper to bed more times than he could remember, but actually doing it was causing a heightened response from every inch of his body.

As they approached his bedroom door, Pepper hesitated slightly. She knew once she crossed that threshold, in this particular instance, there was no going back. Tony seemed to sense her apprehension. He was hoping she would recognize the significance of his next gesture.

Careful not to break their current kiss, in one movement, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her into his room. He placed her standing right next to his bed.

His lips left hers and started to move across her cheek to her left ear. As his lips and tongue began the journey down towards her neck he stopped and whispered, "I just found the chocolate."

In the sexy voice he had ever heard, Pepper replied, "2 down, 4 to go."

"Miss Potts, I do believe in order to find the remaining flavors, I am going to have to remove your clothing."

"You are in order to find the last three. And, Mr. Stark, you can bet if I am going to be exposed, so are you."

Her last words were spoken directly into his mouth as she pulled him toward her for yet another unbelievable kiss. His erection was more than evident now; it was bordering on downright painful.

His hands managed to find the bottom of her shirt and he pulled it over her head and dropped it at her feet. Her hands relieved him of his pullover just as quickly. He ran his fingers over the outline of the green silk bra and let the palm of his hand brush against her nipple with just the slightest of pressure. The way she let her head fall back ever so slightly and the soft moan that escaped from her throat started to send Tony into a frenzy.

He went back to her mouth with his as his hand found the clasp of her bra and flicked it open with expertise. His mouth found it's way to her shoulder and pushed the garmet off one arm and then the other. He gently pushed Pepper back on the bed knowing he wanted to take more than a moment suckling her perfectly plump breasts.

His mouth quickly found her left breast and his hand cupped the other one. That earned him a response of "Ooooooh Tony." He started to repeat the process as his mouth began to moved across her chest to the right side. As soon as his mouth covered her erect nipple, a smirk came over face. "I found strawberry."

Pepper was beginning to lose her mind. She had always thought she had been a slow starter when it came to foreplay, but she found herself wet from almost the first kiss. Now, with Tony's mouth searching for the hidden flavors, she was in overdrive.

While Tony was temporarily distracted by his latest flavor find, Pepper swung her leg over his and flipped positions.

"Potts, I think that this position may hinder my searching capabilities."

"Stark, you're halfway there, I think it is my turn to explore." As she said it, her tongue found his earlobe and she gently ran it across the indentations while moaning ever so slightly.

She worked her way down his chest and mimicked his performance; slowly circling her tongue around his nipple while rolling the other one between her thumb and forefinger. There was however one distinct difference. As she moved across his chest, she found herself directly over the arc reactor in his chest.

At this close a distance and with the blue glow she could see how his own body had fused around the mechanical device that was keeping him alive. Her tongue traced around the top of the reactor. It was an odd sensation of cool metal combined with the warmth of Tony's body.

Tony's nerves felt like exploding electrodes. He could feel himself writhing against the bed and couldn't believe this was happening. How many women had he bedded? Every one of them had been satisfied at least once before he ever let himself come close to releasing. And now, with Pepper, he felt like he was on the brink of an orgasm and he still had his pants on! Well, not for long.

Pepper was already moving down his stomach and her hands were expertly removing his zipper and releasing his manhood from the confines of his clothing. When she had pulled his pants and boxers completely off, she was starting to kiss her way up his leg. He had to put a stop to it.

He bent down and easily picked her up and threw her on the bed.

"What's wrong Ironman?" she purred.

"I'm afraid if I don't stop you right now, I would become ironboy and not in a good way."

She giggled when he questioned, "Now, where might I find vanilla?"

Her skirt came down rather quickly and it was on the trip back up that he found both the vanilla and marshmallow cream flavors. She thought it was a bit of overkill to put the marshmallow cream on the inside of both her thighs, but she knew it was his favorite flavor.

"Well, Miss Potts, that leaves only one flavor left, and I think I know where to find it." His lips were against her already moist matching green panties and her entire body was overwhelmed at the anticipation of having Tony inside of her.

His thumbs hooked over panties and he dragged them down over her slender feet, dropping them next to accumulating pile of discards. He took a moment to study Pepper, fully exposed. In all the years together, he had never seen her naked. In his imagination, sure, but the real thing didn't hold a candle.

He knew what she wanted and he was prepared to give it to her. He moved his mouth back up her legs and began to drag his tongue across her impeccably groomed sweetness. Once the game was on, he knew where he would find the "cherry on top" flavor and she didn't disappoint.

As his tongue entered her warmth he probed until he exposed her clit. As he began to suck and tease it with his tongue, he could feel the motion of her hips against his head.

"Oh God, Tony, please, please."

It made him work even harder and faster. He added a couple of fingers for good measure, but it was unnecessary. He produced the most intense orgasm she had ever had. He proceeded to drink in all she had to offer and then slid his tongue across the rest of her body until he reached her open mouth.

After a minute, she began to refocus. "My turn." she said.

"I don't think it's going to be a very long turn." Replied Tony, very seriously.

"Don't be so sure about that."

Her mouth started the trail downward; this time her tongue traveling along the bottom of the arc reactor. Her hands made their way to the thick patch of dark hair and he hitched his breath when she dragged her nails through and they came to rest on the base of his very hard shaft. The light pressure she was exercising alternately between his balls and his cock were sending him into another world. It was as if she knew exactly what to do to bring him to the edge of orgasm and then retreating just before he was ready to explode.

She loved how he looked at this very moment; eyes closed, mouth slightly open and a glistening of sweat across his body. She knew he was close and she wanted to feel him release inside her.

She straddled him on all fours, placing her knees on either side of his hips and her hands just above his shoulders. As her mouth found his once more, she slowly slid her wet self against the underside of his cock. With a slight shift of her hips, she managed to do the same to the front side. He was now experiencing how wet he made her against himself without having been inside her yet. It was sexy and torturous as hell at the same time.

"Peeeeeepppper, I have to be inside you right now, I have to feel you. Please."

The last word sounded almost like a dying man's last wish and she knew it close to his breaking point. With precision she hovered her hips over the head of his cock, just barely taking him inside of her. She relaxed herself. Years of pilates had given her precise control over every muscle in her body.

She slid down him and watched as his body tensed. As she moved back up in a rhythmic motion she tightened herself around him but always released on the downward movement. After a minute or so, she sped up her pace and kept herself tight around him, he came within 15 seconds.

She felt his arms wrap around her and roll her off of him. He nuzzled at her hair but didn't speak; couldn't speak was actually more accurate.

After lying in silence for more than a minute Tony came back to life and said. "You do realize that what you just did is going to land you on the Naughty List, right?"

"Possibly, but I thought that I could have JARVIS leave Santa a DVD of tonight's activities and then he would consider leaving something in my stocking."

The look on Tony's face was a dead giveaway. "JARVIS," he called out.

"NO! NO Tony! You can't do that!"

"Jarvis, please move the video feed of tonight's activities onto my private server and add an extra layer of security specifically to keep out overweight, old men in a red crushed velvet suit."

Pepper laughed uncontrollably. "I think the extra layer of security should be added to prevent you from watching it."

"I will have no need, Miss Potts, because I plan on having the real thing at my side at all times."

"Well then, you better follow me to the kitchen, 'cause I plan to have some "real" dessert before I go to sleep."


After their midnight kitchen raid, Tony and Pepper settled back into bed.

Tony did not normally get too excited for holidays. In fact 6 hours ago, he planned on skipping Christmas altogether; not now. Now he was so excited, he didn't think he was going to be able to sleep. Between the excitement of Pepper in his bed and HIS plans for Christmas he was in desperate need of a distraction. Pepper, meanwhile, was completely content and was starting to drift off.

"Miss Potts, I don't suppose you are in the mood to tell me a bedtime story."

"Huh?" was her response.

"You know, one of those sweet holiday stories you have from years gone by."

"You want me to tell you a bedtime story to help you fall asleep?"

"Absolutely, and it has to be good or I'm just going to make you tell me another one."

"Okay," she replied, "but you have to close your eyes." He missed the devilish smirk that crossed her face.

"It was the last day before winter break of my senior year of college. There were 4 of us that had finals on Friday afternoon. Normally the sorority house closes on Friday night and doesn't reopen until after the new semester starts, but the house mother had to leave to go out of town early and since we were all seniors and officers of the sorority, she figured it was no big deal.

Campus was completely dead and we just decided to spend the night packing up and drinking cheap wine and booze."

"Don't mean to interrupt you here, but if this is not headed in the direction that I am hoping….."

"Don't interrupt, Tony, or I won't finish."

"Sorry, shutting up, now."

"Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah, so were are all in the game room and Suzy finds Twister and thinks it would be fun to play since we are all half in the bag. We were about to start when Kelly decides we should play, strip and drink Twister."

"I think I like Kelly already," Tony interjects, "She should definitely be a bridesmaid at our wedding."

Pepper whacks him with a pillow and continues. "So we all get assigned a color: I got red, Kelly got yellow, Suzy got green and Lilly Parker got blue. When the spinner landed on your color, you had to take a drink and remove one article of clothing. Northwestern was cold so it was fairly harmless until we each had our color come up 7 or 8 times. By then we had all refilled our drinks at least once, I think Kelly and I had switched to vodka and Lilly and Kelly were already completely naked."

Tony's eyes were still closed, but he most definitely NOT asleep. As a matter of fact, every once of his body was decidedly awake, including is dick which was beginning to throb uncontrollably. Pepper smiled at the effect and continued with the story.

"I don't remember exactly who brought up the fact that we were all running out of clothing to remove, maybe Lilly, but Suzy decided that once you out of clothing, you had to do something else besides just drink when the spinner landed on your color. She suggested that we have to kiss a designated body part."

"Another bridesmaid," Tony chimed, "For that, maybe even maid of honor!"

That earned Tony another whack with the pillow before Pepper continued, "We all drew slips of paper. Kelly got the lips, Lilly got the leg, Suzy got the navel and I got the breast."

Tony moaned and started to move his hand toward his rock hard cock. Pepper put his hands over his and whispered, "Don't worry, I plan on taking care of that once I get to the "audience participation" portion of the story."

Tony moaned again, a little louder.

"It started out fairly silly. Of course with my luck, red came up the first 2 spins. I placed quick little pecks on the top or on the underside of everyone's breast. It was all I could do not to laugh. Suzy followed my lead and her navel kisses were almost ticklish. Kelly's color came up next and I think she ultimately changed the tone of game. Her kiss was very soft and lingering and sensual. I will say this, we may have all been plastered, but we were all severe type A personalities and highly competitive. Kelly may have started the bar, but we were all going to raise it to the next level.

My color came up for a 3rd time and I followed Kelly's lead. I took my time and remember how great it felt to feel their nipples get hard around my tongue and between my lips. Lilly went next and she decided that she would stake claim to our inner thighs. After 2 spins in a row for Lilly, Suzy had passed out after satisfying herself with her fingers. The last spin landed on Kelly's color and she decided to change the definition of lips.

I had only had one boyfriend throughout college and our experience was fairly straightforward and uneventful. When I felt her press her lips inside me, I thought it was the most amazing sensation. After she was through with me, she moved on to Lilly. I left and went up to my room. I was so turned on and hot but still not quite satisfied. So I resorted to the vibrator that I kept in my bedside table."

Tony was on her before she could finish. She was actually surprised he had made it that long. The newness of each other provided for a long foreplay session before Pepper finally moved herself over Tony one more time and sank down on him. His eyes flew open and her mouth clamped down over his. He switched positions to give himself more leverage and proceeded to make them come in unison.

When they were through, they both fell back to the bed.

"Seriously, Pepper, those girls should definitely be in the bridal party. It's going to be a big wedding, event of the year and they are not going to want to miss it. Plus, I'm thinking that you may want to have your bacherolette party here. I'll even buy the DVD version of Twister."

Since this was the third time he had made a reference to getting married, she figures she may as well take the bait. "And when is this big fabulous wedding taking place?"

"I'm thinking New Year's Eve."

"This New Year's Eve? As in one week from tonight?"

"Yeah," he says, hoping she was just going to argue the date and not the entire concept.

"Huh," was all she replied and Tony was a little thrown at her response.

She continued with, "I could probably get 2 of them here by then, but I'm not sure the Congresswomen would be able to make it on such short notice."

With that, Pepper rolled over and drifted off, leaving Tony to try to fall asleep with the sound of her tempered breathing and by attempting to recall the names of all the possible female Congresswomen. He finally drifted off when he had managed to eliminate 42 out of the possible 120.

The morning sun began to shine through the partially raised blinds and Tony glanced down at Pepper's hand that was resting on the arc reactor. With the combined glare of the blue glowing light, the breaking sunlight and the very large diamond he placed on her finger while she slept, he had to avoid looking directly down.

She began to stir and he nuzzled at her hair. She instinctively tilted her face up and enjoyed the softness of their morning kiss. As she brought her left hand up to touch the side of his face, she saw the ring.

"Mr. Stark, are you aware that someone has placed a rather large gem on my left finger."

"I see that Miss Potts," He said as he opened her left hand a kissed the inside and outside of her ring finger.

"I guess Santa really does favor those on the Naughty List."

He laughed out loud as he sat up and faced her. "Pepper, I doubt the man in the red velvet suit would make a very appealing spouse."

"You're probably right. What with him spending day after day in this workshop tinkering with toys, flying off in the middle of the night to travel around world, living off a diet consisting of cookies and other junk food, although I must admit, the red suit is a turn on."

He took a moment to let her words sink in and responded with, Huh.

"Too bad for him that although facial hair is sexy, I am partial to a jet black goatee over a long white beard. And I prefer that my husband spend time tinkering in his workshop with robots instead of elves and seriously, if he hasn't figured out that arc reactor technology is the most efficient way to power a flying vehicle, then I'm afraid he isn't the one for me. Besides, I much prefer a red suit made from titanium alloy; it's way hotter."

"Miss Potts, it sounds like your standards are quite high. I'm not sure where you expect to find this perfect spouse." Tony replied with a very large grin.

"I plan to find him on top of me in about 10 seconds. What do you say Mr. Stark, will you marry me?"

Tony flipped her over and wrapped both arms around her as he rolled on top of her. "Miss Potts, I thought you would never ask."

After their morning lovemaking, Tony got up and put on a pair of pajama bottoms. He pulled his robe out of the closet and handed it to Pepper. "At some point, probably tomorrow, we are going to have to have your things moved in here."

"Tony, I think that might be taking things a little fast."

"Pepper, how long have we known each other?"

"Seven and a half years, give or take." She said as she pulled on his robe. She caught the scent of him on the collar and immediately smiled.

"Exactly, and although I was a little slow to come to the realization that I love you…" He saw her eyebrows arch upwards and decided to rephrase the last part of his statement. "Okay, a LOT slow to realize that I love you, it doesn't change the facts. We have waited long enough to be together and if I thought there was any way to pull together our wedding any sooner I would marry you sooner. But I think a week is pushing it as it is." The last sentence came out a bit more forcefully than he anticipated.

"You're right." Pepper said as she moved toward the bedroom door.

"I'm right? I mean I am right!" Tony responded as he followed her out.

"Yes, you are right, except about the whole big wedding thing." She said over her shoulder as she descended the stairs.

"What do you mean "whole big wedding thing", Pepper. I want a big huge wedding and I want to dance with you in front of everyone I know while you are wearing a beautiful, backless, white dress."

She was about to respond when she reached the living room. There were lots more presents under the tree than she remembered purchasing and the stockings were overflowing with items that she definitely had not seen before.

She stopped and turned to him with watery eyes. "How did you do all this?"

"It was easy, really. I just had Jarvis execute GFMTL file."


"Yes, gifts for my true love. Some I've had for years. I always meant to give them to you, but I was too scared. Others I have been waiting to buy for you and I have kept a catalogued list of all of these things. When you showed up here last night, I had Jarvis execute the file, and with some outside help…."

Once again, his sentence was stopped with a kiss; long, lingering and instantly arousing. "I love you."

"I love you too, Miss Potts. Now let's get some coffee and start working on those presents. I think it might take most of the morning to get through that pile."

The presents ranged from the practical (new packages of wifebeaters custom-made with an arc reactor cut out for Tony, extra Blackberry batteries for Pepper) to completely absurd (a membership to the Lingerie of Day Club complete with the welcome starter kit for Pepper and an extra large monogrammed first aid kit for Tony) to unbelievably meaningful.

Tony's last gift to Pepper was amazing, not in cost but in sentiment.

Three years earlier they had been attending a round of development meetings in Indonesia. On the last day, Pepper managed to find the time to visit the local street market she had been desperately trying to get to. Pepper collected glass figurines and she had spotted some of the most amazing one of a kind, hand-blown creations at a vendor booth. She purchased 6 in total. She remembered showing them to him as they were leaving for the airport and explaining her reasoning for selecting those particular pieces. He had barely glanced at them at the time, or so she thought.

In her haste to get to the plane on time, she had absentmindedly placed the bag with the figurines in the cargo area. When they landed back at Stark Industries and she retrieved her bag, she found them all shattered. She was devastated.

And now, in this box, were exact replicas of those pieces. She couldn't speak but the look on her face said it all.

"Lucky for you, Miss Potts that tall redheaded Americans with hundred dollar bills are memorable for a while."

Pepper handed Tony the last present from under the tree. Tony opened it and saw a copy of a Kazakhstan newspaper. Pepper was the only one he confided in about what really happened in the caves, and even that was edited. But somehow, she managed to find the one good, life-changing experience and document it.

On the front page was a magnificent tribute to Mohamed Yinsen, brilliant scientist and doctor from Gulmira. The first half of the story focused on his accomplishments as a devoted family man and educator. The ending paragraphs introduced the Yinsen Scholarship Foundation that would focus on helping to educate brilliant minds in war-torn regions of the world.

Underneath the newspaper was a wrapped box. He carefully removed the paper, took the frame out of the box and saw a much younger Yinsen's face. It was a posed picture of what looked like a receiving line. On the other end of the handshake in the photo there was a smiling Tony and the words AAEE Conference Bern, Switzerland hung on a banner in the background.

"Merry Christmas, Tony." Pepper said as she placed a light kiss across his lips. "It's time to remember the good things about the past and move forward."

"I couldn't agree more."