Story: DaVinci of his Time

Author: saichick

Challenge: Pepperony 100

Theme: 021 Hands

Rating: PG-13

Timeline: between IM1 and IM2

Preview: Pepper doesn't mind doing a little people-watching in Tony's workshop

Pepper juggled her stack of paperwork and punched her security code into the glass airlock securing Tony's workshop from the rest of the house. Tony was hunched over his workbench, soldering whatever project he was working on with Butterfingers assistance.

"Here's the mail," Pepper said, "and I've got paperwork that needs to be signed."

"Mmmmm..." he grunted, engrossed in whatever it was that he was doing to the delicate robotics he was soldering together, "just a moment."

Pepper stood there holding the paperwork and waited. Since she had nothing better to do until he finished, she half-sat on one of the stools near his bench, curiously watching what he was up to. It was always amazing to watch him work. The media called him the DaVinci of his time, which Tony thought was ridiculous, but anyone who had ever watched him meld raw materials into the intricate creations he invented couldn't help but be amazed at his level of skill. Tony Stark had the hands of a surgeon. Perfectly content to take a load off her aching feet and enjoy the show, Pepper sat the rest of the way down and zoned off.

"Move that down there," Tony murmured to Butterfingers, sliding his hand down the thing he was working on. "There, hold it steady."

Butterfingers slid the magnifying glass down to where he was soldering some wires into the steel frame, a leg-piece to his Iron Man suit, perhaps? Pepper didn't wish to disturb his concentration, so she simply labeled the creation "leg" in her mind and silently watched. Little puffs of smoke wafted up from where the solder melted into the join as he delicately moved his fingers to coax the tiny little wires into place.

"Now over here," Tony ordered. "No, not there ... there!"

Tony had always had a nice physical build, but while he was in Afghanistan, he had both lost weight and bulked up. The first thing Pepper had thought when he walked off that plane was how his face had lost the soft edge it had always had. When she'd walked in on him in the lab after his return wearing nothing but his favorite wifebeater, the hills and valleys of his shredded muscles highlighted by the eerie silver-blue light of his arc reactor, it had taken her breath away. Swinging a 50 pound hammer to forge steel in a cave for 3 months had converted every ounce of baby fat into rock hard solid muscle, like some primordial Hephaestus, Greek god of the forge. His arms, shoulders, neck, chest, abdomen, back, buttocks, face, even his hands had converted to rock solid muscle! Pepper had just stood there and … stared … at his ripped-out shoulder muscles rippling just under the skin like a schoolgirl with a crush until he had been forced to ask here why she was there. She still felt that way whenever she saw him in his work clothes, but she'd gotten a little more subtle about her people-watching.

"JARVIS," he said, "run a signal diagnostic of the transmission strength from the helmet to this unit."

His shoulder muscles were rippling now as he moved the soldering iron. As each finger moved in his hand to manipulate the work he was doing, Pepper could see the corresponding muscle move in his forearm all the way up to his bicep. Pepper preferred modern art, but if ever there was a classical painting that would tempt Pepper to abandon Picasso, it would be a stylized portrait of Tony Stark doing what he was doing right now, soldering together a masterpiece of technology in his workshop wearing nothing but his favorite greasy wifebeater, his strong, exquisitely sensitive hands and ripped out shoulder muscles coaxing his creations to come to life. Tony Stark was the DaVinci of his times. She didn't care what he said. Anyone who had ever seen him work would agree.

"Butterfingers, you're no help whatsoever," he said, "I might as well do it myself. I said here, not here."

Pepper wondered what it would be like to be taken into those strong arms and kissed, to circle her hands around his waist and press her palms flat across his back as so she could feel the deltoids ripple beneath his skin, press her midriff against his rock hard abdomen as his strong, capable hands first tangled in her hair, then worked their way down her back to pull her close enough to feel what mysteries lay beneath his favorite designer jeans.

"Aaahhhh!" Tony said. "Perfection!" He bent upright and turned to Pepper, a beautiful triumphant smile on his face. "You have something for me to sign?" His dark eyes always shone bright and his iris's would lighten to highlight the few golden flecks he had when he had successfully completed a project.

Pepper carefully composed her features into a businesslike expression and stood up. The show was over. Time to get back to work. She walked over to the table, handed him the papers, and squelched a sigh as she noticed how the tiny muscles in his hands as he held the pen caused subtle ripples up his forearms all the way through his biceps to the deltoid muscles in his shoulder. Who would have thought the mere act of signing his name would cause her breath to catch in her chest and heart to race?

"Thank you, Mr. Stark." she said, her professional mask hiding the impure thoughts racing through her mind.

"You're welcome, Miss Potts," he said, smiling.