This was written for, and inspired by, dear Quicksilvermad, after I offered up a fluffy Tony/Pepper fic to cheer her up after a computer disaster. She requested 'a Pepper attacks Tony via use of her lips sort of thing.' I do hope she finds this fic to be satisfactory. Aaaand, for those of you who are frustrated that Tony and Pepper just can't get their act together in my Pepperony 100 fics, here you go: Tony and Pepper, getting their act very much together. ;-) Enjoy, everybody!

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Girlfriend

By ZionAngel

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"You know it's actually not that bad. Even I don't think I'm Iron Man."

"You're not Iron Man. You're not." She touches him more than she needs to as she helps him into his jacket, just to feel that he's strong and real and alive beneath her hands.

"Yeah, I see." She hears him take a deep, steady breath, and it's comforting to hear. "You know, if I were Iron Man, I'd have this girlfriend who knew my true identity." He turns to her, but she doesn't meet his eyes because she doesn't want this Tony, the arrogant man so glad to be alive that he'll chase after anything in high heels. "And she'd be a wreck because she'd always be worrying that I was gonna die yet sort of… proud of the man I'd become." His voice is slower, and she still doesn't look up because that most definitely is not arrogance in his voice now. It's… sincerity. "She'd be wildly conflicted which would only make her more…" He clears his throat. "Crazy about me. Tell me you never think about that night," he adds quickly.

"What night?" And she finally looks up, busying her hands with his pocket square, and no amount of fear or nerves could tear her away from his eyes, from the vulnerable, gentle look she sees there.

"You know." She almost mistakes his tone for suggestiveness. Almost.

"Are you talking about… the night that we danced?" She's barely even thought of that night, done her best to keep the pain of his rejection out of her mind. But now… as she thinks of it, puts two and two together from what he's told her, she certainly can't blame him for forgetting her after just learning that he had been betrayed. And he did pull her onto the dance floor, hold her too close, tell her that she looked good… and she was the one who stopped their kiss before it began, not him. Could he really feel what she feels? "And we went up on the roof…" Oh, damn it, they have less than a minute before he has to give his statement, not nearly enough time to say and do what she wants and still expect him to get out to the press room on time, let alone be coherent. "And you went downstairs to get me a drink and you… left me there, by myself? Is that the night you're talking about?"

"Mm-hmm," he barely manages to croak out. The look on his face, the shock and humiliation and dejection rips her heart out. She wants to take it all back immediately, or just kiss him right here and now, anything to erase the emotions painted across his face. But she is, if nothing else, his eternally responsible assistant, and she knows that he has a statement to make. As much as it may not feel like it, this can wait three minutes.

"Thought so." Now, when she stares down at his tie as she gives it one last brush, it's in an effort to keep the elated grin off her face. "Will that be all, Mr. Stark?"

"Yes, that will be all Miss Potts." He's leaving before he even finishes the words, like he can't get away from her fast enough. If he tries to hide the devastation in his eyes, he fails miserably.

As she watches him go, her heart screams at her to stop him, to kiss him and tell him he's wrong and that she loves him, and it takes all of her willpower to remain silent. She watches him until he disappears down the end of the hall. When she knows he's out of earshot, a joyous peal of laughter escapes her, because the strain of trying to hold her utter happiness inside is simply too much to bear. She just feels so fantastically in love with him, maybe more so than she ever has up until this point, and so thrilled at the sudden realization that the feelings are, in all likelihood, mutual. She can barely pull herself together, and really only manages it for the sake of admiring Tony as he appears on the TV screen.

She takes a few deep breaths as he bickers with some reporter, trying to formulate a plan in her mind. She knows already that she's going to kiss him as soon as he's finished, because she simply wants to, and has for the longest time, and really, why the hell shouldn't she after he made his feelings so clear? Maybe it isn't love that he feels - and she can live with that - but she knows that those words, that sincerity coming from Tony Stark can only mean that it's the kind of emotion that might one day grow into love. He proved to her that he's a changed man, yesterday, when he earned her trust and loyalty with a simple but profound explanation of his newfound duty. And with that, with how much he's shown her that he's changed in the weeks that he's been back, she trusts him enough to put her heart in his hands, trusts him not to break it into a million tiny, irreparable pieces.

She wonders how she should kiss him. If she should grab him by the lapels of his jacket and shove her tongue down his throat, if she should throw her arms around his neck and press her full body to his in a passionate kiss, or if she should gently cup his face in her hands, smile at the confused or stunned look on his face, and press her lips to his as gently as she possibly can.

"The truth is…" Finally, the sooner he gets the statement over and done with, the sooner he can get back in here and she can - "I am Iron Man."

She wonders how she should kill him. If she should grab him by the throat and throttle him until his neck snaps in two, if she should throw the heaviest object she can pick up at that thick head of his, or if she should let her searing, furious glare bore into him, and see if looks really can kill.

The reporters are going ballistic, and Rhodey and Agent Coulson are falling over themselves trying to get Tony away from the podium and tell them that it's a mistake, he misspoke, he's not Iron Man. But anyone with half a dozen working brain cells could see that no cover-up, no retraction, no lie could ever convince the world of any other possibility now. Ever.

The rage coursing through her veins is so blinding that she doesn't even realize she's moved an inch until she's outside, purse in one hand, keys in the other, just a few yards from her car, undamaged and exactly where she parked it when she brought the SHIELD agents here last night. When she leaves the Stark Industries complex and heads for the freeway, she's quite sure that she's never driven so recklessly in her life.

All that keeps playing in her head, over and over, are the hundred and one different variations of what she wants to say to him, each version more furious than the last. She spends about twelve miles raging at no one before she realizes that it isn't making her feel any better. It certainly isn't giving that bastard a piece of her mind, or teaching him a lesson. With that realization, she barely manages to exit at the nearest off-ramp, and then she's back on the other side of the freeway, heading towards Tony's house instead of her own.

She's slamming his front door shut behind her before she knows it. She throws her purse down on the couch, sits down for a grand total of three and a half seconds before she's up and pacing restlessly again.

"Miss Potts?" Jarvis says hesitantly.

"What?" she barks back.

"I observed the press conference. Mr. Hogan is currently driving Mr. Stark back to the mansion. He should arrive in approximately seven minutes."

After that, the AI shuts up, which is really a good thing, because Pepper has no interest in wasting her rage or her voice on anyone who isn't her short-sighted, idiotic boss. She doesn't need to go hoarse before she gets her chance to yell at the man who actually deserves it. Because - damn it, he just ruined everything with four little words, ruined SHIELD's plans, hers, and God only knows what damage this fiasco could cause.

She nearly wears her stiletto heels down to a nub pacing back and forth waiting for Tony. But when she hears the front door open and shut, they're in plenty good enough condition to rush forward and corner him in the entryway.

"What the hell part of 'stick to the goddman cards' do you not fucking understand?" He jumps about a foot when she startles him, but she barrels on all the same.

She's pretty sure she sees genuine fear behind his glare. "Miss Potts, I think that's the most swear words I've ever heard you use -"

"What the hell were you thinking?!"

"Pepper, calm down -"

She vaguely registers his growing anger, but it doesn't slow her down for a second. "Don't you dare tell me to calm down, Tony Stark, you just revealed highly classified information to the entire planet when you were explicitly told not to -"

"Gee, did Coulson call you? Because you sound just like him."

"Do you have any idea what you've done? Do you have any idea how much danger you've put yourself in? Put me in - and everyone else - and your own company, Tony! Are you even capable of comprehending what kind of damage the fallout from this could do?"

"Hey, listen -"

"No, you listen!" She takes a moment to catch her breath, try to keep her head from exploding. She's just so pissed off and frustrated at him for everything - nothing is going the way it's supposed to. They should be on the couch in his office right now, making out like a couple of teenagers. "God, you've always gone flying off the handle and you've fucked up plenty of things real bad, but this takes the cake -"

"Hey!" He finally snaps, cutting her off and letting his own anger out - though she has absolutely no idea what he has any right to even be angry about in the first place. "How long do you think we would have actually been able to keep this a secret, huh? How long before people started to realize that my so-called body guard and I were never seen at the same time?" All she can think as she listens to his excuses is how pissed she is that he took away her opportunity earlier, to kiss him and do whatever the hell else she felt like once she had him back inside his office with the door shut and locked tight. About how much she still wants to do it. "How long before they started to realize that Iron Man hardly ever showed up anywhere other than L.A. or wherever there were illegal Stark weapons?" And the adrenaline is still coursing through her blood, making her heart race and her muscles sore with inactivity, and quite frankly, all she wants to do right now is shove him down to the floor and punish him for this fuck-up in whatever highly inappropriate ways come to mind first. "How many months of media speculation do you think it would take to make SHIELD break down and just admit that it's been me all -"

"Oh, shut up!"

And then she's shoving him backwards until he crashes into the wall, pinning him there with her hands on his chest, and she's kissing him as fiercely as she possibly can, attacking him with her lips.

He's completely stunned by the assault, and doesn't move a muscle for several long seconds. He doesn't fight her when she pries his lips apart and adds her tongue to the mix. When her tongue caresses his more strongly, it seems to knock some sense into him, and he tries to pull away. He manages to get the first syllable of her name out, sounding utterly confused, before she's shoving him back and sealing her lips over his again.

He starts fighting her back then, either because he's figured out just what the hell she's doing or because he's decided not to worry about it. But she doesn't allow him to gain nearly enough ground to win.

He grabs her hips roughly, pulling her body against his. She grabs fistfuls of his clothes in retribution, using her grip on the fabric to pull him away from the wall. She steers him further along into the house, and he struggles to keep his balance as she moves him. Somehow, though, as he fights to stay on his feet he manages to slide his hands from her hips down to her ass, gripping her firmly through her skirt. And with that, she's had enough of this game. She grips a fistful of hair from the back of his head and yanks his head away from hers.

"Upstairs," she hisses fiercely. "Now."

For some reason, his tie is still wrapped around his neck. Pepper takes full advantage, wrapping it around her fist and pulling him after her up the nearby staircase. This time he races after her, keeping up with every step. She kisses him again when they reach the top. It's still a fierce kiss, to be sure, but now she actually savors the kiss, the feel of his lips, instead of just attacking him with her own.

Before she knows it they're in his bedroom, and she's pulling off his jacket and tie without the slightest hesitation. His fingers dig for the hem of her shirt and quickly lift up over her head. When it's free of her arms, when she has a moment to look at him, his eyes wide and dark, his lips swollen and pink and parted just a little, it dawns on her, fully for the first time, just what is going on here. Dawns on her that she's standing in front of the man she loves, without her shirt on, that she's been kissing him when just a few hours ago she wasn't sure she ever would, that the look in his eyes means that he wants her, that the erection he's quickly developing is because of her. And just like that, her anger is gone, she barely even remembers what she was so mad about, doesn't care when she does. The only thing she wants to do right now is make love to Tony, and with that, she pulls him into a deep kiss and sets to work on the buttons of his shirt.

The way he kisses her back, tenderly caresses the skin of her back and sides, moans softly into her mouth tells her everything she needs to know, that he absolutely feels the same as she does, that she isn't just another woman to him, that this is more than mere sex.

Their remaining clothes come off quickly after that, and she pushes him down to the bed. She knows which nightstand drawer he keeps the condoms in - hell, she was the one restocking his supply half the time - and she doesn't need to look as she fishes one out. Her eyes are free to stare at him, staring back as he props himself up on his elbows, and God if he doesn't look exquisite, all muscle and tight skin, doesn't make her that much more aroused and hungry just looking at him.

She follows him onto the bed as he scoots more towards the middle, until she's straddling his thighs, bent over him for another passionate kiss. He touches her everywhere, and her breath catches in her throat when his hands find her breasts knead them gently. She leans into his hands for a moment, reveling in the sensation before she begins kissing down his jawline and throat, moving lower and lower until she's kissing his chest, her breath fogging up the cover of the arc reactor.

She sits up and makes quick work of the condom, taking more than a little bit of pleasure in the sound of his strangled groan when she touches him. She kneels over him again, touching his face until he opens his eyes and looks at her. A small but genuinely happy, genuinely loving smile appears on her face, and it warms her heart to see the look mirrored in his own features. They kiss once more, the touch conveying every emotion in their shared look and more, and it's during this kiss that she shifts above him and takes him inside her without warning. She can't tell which of them breaks the kiss first, only that their sudden connection leaves her gasping, and him groaning deeply.

She gets her bearings before Tony does - a result, no doubt, of the fact that he's spent nearly five months in celibacy, whereas she'd never known him to go more than five days prior to that. Whatever the cause, she begins to move first, rolling her hips and tightening her muscles around him in a way that has him groaning all over again. It's a few more rolls of her hips before he regains any level of control over his own body again, and with two large, strong hands on her hips, he flips them in a single, expert maneuver so that she's on her back.

A faint squeak of surprise escapes her lips at the unexpected change of position, and she catches a glimpse of Tony's smug grin before he kisses her, accentuating it with a hard thrust. His kiss is fierce, just a little bit rough, like he's giving her a taste of her own medicine. She's hardly thrilled about losing the upper hand like this, but when he thrusts again, and again, making it utterly clear how much better this position is for her, any possibility of trying to regain her control vanish.

She slides one hand up to his neck, tangling her fingers in his hair and pulling him deeper into the kiss. She moves her other hand, maneuvering her arm until it's snugly between their bodies where she can touch herself. She moans softly into the kiss at the added pleasure of her own circling fingers, arching into him. After a few moments, when the position of her arm becomes uncomfortable - and after she apparently manages to drive him just a little too crazy with the way her tongue teases his - he breaks the kiss and rises up to his knees, easing the pressure on her arm. And Tony - being Tony - can't help but look curiously down at that hand, even though she knows there can't be the slightest bit of confusion in his mind as to what she's doing.

Of course, she can't say she's the least bit upset with the look on his face when he sees her touching herself, that look of absolute primal lust, the look that tells her it's taking a great deal of willpower no to just come right now. And she can't say that she doesn't love that, love that her own pleasure gives her that kind of power over him.

He shifts them a bit more, leaning further back and shoving the nearest pillow under her hips for support. She whimpers a little when she feels the new angle of his thrusts, and her breathing becomes shallow and erratic as her fingers move faster.

His hands start moving again, along her legs and sides and her belly, but she only half-registers the sensations until his hands reach her breasts, gripping strongly. She cries out, not so softly this time, as he works her flesh in his hands, massaging firmly and tweaking in just the right ways, as if he already knows how she likes to be touched. And those hands on her breasts are the last straw, the icing on the cake, exactly what she needs to push her over the edge, along with the feel of him inside her, the touch of her own fingers, and the knowledge that it's him, and the security of knowing what this - what she - means to him. Her free hand clenches his wrist impossibly tight, holding it to her chest, and he speeds up his thrusts just as she starts to come, carrying her through her climax until she falls limply against the sheets, breathless and completely sated.

When she manages to open her eyes, the look she sees on his face is pure desperation, like he's trying to hold on to her and this moment just a little bit longer, just in case he's wrong. His vulnerability breaks her heart and makes her love him that much more. She runs her hands up and down his arms soothingly, touches his chest and clenched abs. "Tony -" she whispers when his dark eyes meet hers. It's okay, I want you to come. And then his hands are holding her hips in a vice grip, using them as leverage as he thrusts as hard as he can. Her name comes out as a strangled groan when he comes, and as a strained whisper when he collapses on top of her, pressing a feather-light kiss to her shoulder.

He rolls off of her after a moment, and she finds something so wonderfully satisfying about seeing him like that, sweaty and panting because of her. She cuddles close to him again, taking his shoulder for a pillow, and he gladly accepts her presence. She suddenly feels exhausted, after getting only a couple hours of sleep in the midst of last night's chaos, and after their intense work-out just now. And the warmth of Tony's body, the soft hum of the reactor over the slowing beat of his heart is just so soothing that before she realizes it, she's drifted off to sleep.

When she wakes again, she finds herself lying under the covers, the weight of a hand across her hips and warm breath sliding across her shoulder.

"I really wouldn't advise falling asleep like that too often, Pepper," he says smoothly, just a hint of smug arrogance in his voice. "Gonna give me a pretty big ego if you do that."

She doesn't answer, just stares at him, lying beside her. He's here. Still lying beside her, close and intimate. Not hiding in the garage, or getting dressed so he can pretend that this whole thing never happened. He's here - he wants to be here. She never realized until this moment just how afraid she was of that, even after everything he said earlier.

"Pepper?"

She narrows her eyes, doesn't tell him the worries floating through her mind, because they're already gone. "You're still a dead man."

His lips turn up in a small grin, and he kisses her shoulder. "As long as you're the one to kill me." He sighs deeply, snuggles closer and just enjoys the moment for a little while. "You know," he eventually muses, "I was thinking a little more about that whole superhero's girlfriend thing."

"Is that so?"

"Mm-hmm. It's a very crucial part of the superhero's life, Pepper. The superhero's girlfriend is usually the only thing person who can keep his head on straight. She's the one who helps him remember why he does what he does, helps him through all the tough times and keeps him going."

"Sounds like an important job."

"Very. The superhero's girlfriend has to be very strong, very stable. Very caring. Someone who can comfort him when he can't take it anymore, and keep up with him in bed when he needs to remember that he's alive. Someone who loves him enough to stay with him, even with all the worrying he puts her through."

"I see. So that's what makes someone qualified for the job?"

"Yeah. That, and the superhero has to love her more than anything else in the world. Cuz if he doesn't love her, then there's just no point."

She turns her head away from him, to hide the elated grin that she just can't stop from appearing on her face. But it doesn't matter, because she's sure he hears her blissful little laugh. "Hm. Have anyone in mind for the position?"

"As a matter of fact," he says, smiling, leaning over her and tilting her face up to him. "I think I have the perfect candidate." Then he kisses her, a sweeter, more loving kiss than any of the ones that came before, and she's falling all over again.