Author's notes: I don't speak Japanese, like, at all, so please excuse any grammar or spelling errors. I also don't normally write this kind of story, but I'm not going to make any excuses there.
You Are Here
Tony had been sending Pepper camera-phone pictures all night—that is, all night in Tokyo, which was all morning back home in Malibu. It was a favourite habit of his, when he was bored or just craving some personal contact, and Pepper had long since given up trying to discern any pattern in his messages.
He was out on the town with the head of the Tokyo office, as well as several owners of prominent manufacturing and robotics concerns that had been assiduously courting SI Japan since the early days of Iron Man. She could chart the progression of his evening in the photos he sent: thus far, he'd been to a bar that featured nyotaimori (this photo arrived with the caption, I wonder what's for dessert?), a different bar that featured karaoke, and—wonder of wonders—a third bar, which apparently just featured sake.
The most recent SMS—timestamped 2:15 a.m. local time—read, Fun fact: Suntory contributed to the genetic engineering of the 1st blue roes.
He was obviously either drunk, distracted, or still thinking about the naked sushi. Rose, she texted back. Not roes.
The next picture appeared to have been taken in the men's room of one of the bars—she could see a urinal (thankfully unoccupied) in the background. The photo was of a sign in Japanese posted over the sink. It says YOU ARE HERE, the accompanying message explained.
As opposed to where? she inquired.
I couldn't tell you.
He called about half an hour later—10:53 a.m. California time, to be precise. She took the call on her hands-free earpiece, so that she could continue to sign off on paperwork while they talked. She didn't expect it would be a lengthy conversation; it was late, and he was probably tired and possibly inebriated.
"Moshi-moshi," he chirped. Tony's facility with languages was simultaneously very convenient and a little bit annoying. "I am here. Just like the sign said I would be."
"Not still in the bathroom, I hope?"
"Nope, I'm in the limo now. Just dropped everyone off. I'm headed back to the hotel. Figured I'd call and say oyasumi nasai."
"Which means?" Pepper's grasp of Japanese was limited to 'dōmo arigatō' and the names for various kinds of tuna.
"A lovely sentiment, except that you're just a little bit late."
"Actually, I'm sixteen hours early," he corrected, sounding slightly smug. "It's Wednesday here. It's the future, Potts, and I'm living in it."
She laughed. "Right."
"Of course I'm right. We should just take it as read that I'm always right. Now, let me ask you something very important, Pepper. It's been a long day, and I really need to know." His voice eased into the lower register. "What are you wearing?"
Personally, Pepper had never really been convinced of either the efficacy or the appeal of phone sex. She could talk a good game, but she felt silly and self-conscious saying those things while sitting alone in an empty room. There were too many elements in play, too many things happening at once that she needed to track. She didn't really get what she was supposed to do, and the results were… unsatisfying.
But between the demands on her time as CEO, his new role as CTO, and the unexpected complications of being Iron Man, they hadn't seen each other in person in almost two weeks—which, given the frequency and intensity of encounters she'd become accustomed to since getting involved with Tony, was a drought that put the Horn of Africa to shame.
She was, not to put too fine a point on it, somewhat hard up.
"I'm at the office," she informed him, somewhat uncertainly. "I'm wearing… what I usually wear to work."
"It's been a while since I've seen you," Tony replied smoothly. "A little more description would be appreciated."
Tony depended on an active sex life as a panacea—to destress, to energize, to keep his head uncluttered and in the game. This wasn't a revelation, of course, but being on the receiving end of his attentions was a little more challenging—albeit far more rewarding—than simply being captain of the clean-up crew.
As a rule, Pepper liked challenges.
"Okay." She took a deep breath, and tried to ignore the knot of anxiety in her stomach. "A navy two-piece suit—jacket and skirt. And a white silk camisole." She couldn't decide whether she should tell him about her underwear or not. It wasn't particularly exciting, anyhow—just plain white cotton. She wondered if she should just make something up.
"Nice. Hair up or down?"
"Patent stiletto heels. Oh, and stockings. Thigh-highs." A small embellishment, but after all, he'd never know the difference.
"And what are you wearing?" she countered—more out of curiosity than anything. She wanted to see how it was done, which details she ought to focus on.
Her handset binged softly. She opened the message to reveal yet another camera-phone snapshot: Tony at arm's length, gracefully sprawled across the limo's black leather interior. He was wearing his charcoal Armani with a dark red shirt and tie, and sunglasses, of course. His suit jacket was unbuttoned, the tie loose and slightly askew. A day's growth of beard gave the normally crisp edges of his goatee a smudged look.
There was nothing particularly suggestive about his pose or his expression, but she still felt a heady rush of desire as she looked at the picture—primarily because it was such an intimate thing. Being with Tony meant being resigned to the fact that tens of thousands of people gazed at his image every day in awe and wonder and longing. But this photo, this iteration of Tony Stark, was just for her. No one else was intended to see him like this.
"Very nice," she echoed. "But take the sunglasses off, please."
"You got it. Are you in your office?"
"No, yours." It wasn't an outrageous lie—after all, this had been his office, once upon a time, before Pepper had accepted the appointment. "I'm sitting on your desk, actually."
"Are you," he purred.
In swift, efficient strides, she crossed the room to the big double doors and locked them at the top and bottom before returning to sit behind her desk. The last thing she needed was for someone to walk in on her in the middle of this particular conversation. "I wanted to be somewhere that I could feel close to you. I hope that's okay."
She gave an exaggerated, breathy sigh. "I probably shouldn't be sitting here like this, though."
"Well…" she drew the pause out, made him hum with anticipation. "I'm not wearing any underpants." The fabrication was, in part, a practical choice—if she didn't have any on, she wouldn't have to describe them.
There was an intake of breath, and a protracted rustling—fabric and leather seats and skin. She wondered if he was really doing what it sounded like he was doing. If so, it meant she was on the right track.
"Are you… touching yourself?"
"Yep. Keep going."
The response was so utterly him that she nearly laughed. Instead, she had a sudden burst of inspiration.
"Why don't you let me do that?" She imagined her fingers brushing over the plane of his stomach, slipping into the waistband of his shorts. "I'm putting my hand down your pants, Tony. I'm holding you in my hand. Does it feel good?"
It sounded totally ridiculous when she said it out loud, and she worried that he would laugh. But instead he hissed, "Yes," as though she really were gripping him tightly, wringing the word out of him.
She closed her eyes and imagined it—a smooth column of vein and pulse growing under her palm. "You're really hard," she said, wanting it to be true.
"I like that a lot. Stroking you a little faster now."
"I hope I'm not squeezing you too tight?"
She suddenly wished she had thought to ask him how far it was to his hotel. The last thing he needed was to be photographed getting intimate with himself in the back of a hired limo. He'd had more than his fair share of that kind of exposure in the media—although usually there was another person involved.
Which gave her an idea.
Tony took a perverse pleasure in doing the opposite of what was recommended to him in any given situation. And he was a bit of an exhibitionist. Both traits she could use to her advantage.
"We shouldn't be doing this," she said, dropping her voice to an urgent whisper. "I don't know why I'm touching you like this. You always seem to talk me into these things. We're going to get caught, Tony."
He groaned. Loudly.
"Shh! Do you want the driver to hear us?"
His breath hitched, and then—stillness. She could almost hear it: the slick slide of skin on skin. She imagined him canting up into her hand, hot and hard and relentlessly needy.
"You'd better not come," she added sternly.
"Don't stop," he pleaded. She could tell that he was close.
"I don't want to stop." Which wasn't a lie—tension was coursing through her, and she was gripping the handset of her phone like a lifeline. "But if you come now," she continued, ruthlessly, "you're going to make a mess and then everyone is going to know what you and I have been doing. Everyone is going to know that I was jerking you off. That I had your cock in my hand." Pepper had never said the word cock in broad daylight before—never mind over the phone in her office. It felt… strangely powerful. Given the depth and variety of Tony's experience, it was exhilarating to know that she could bring him to the edge with merely a few well-chosen words and the sound of her voice.
"Is that what you want?" she persisted.
Tony exhaled sharply—a breathless, voiceless grunt that sounded punched out of him. She knew what was happening—could picture his hips jerking upwards off the seat, spasming into empty air; his head thrown back, eyes closed, lips parted. Achingly beautiful and all undone. She wished she really could be there to see it.
Then there was a clattering noise, and a muffled curse. He must have dropped the phone, she realized, feeling absurdly pleased with herself.
He was back on the line a moment later, breathing hard. So was she, for that matter.
"Hey," he said shakily, then exclaimed, "Dammit!"
"Broke my sunglasses. Shit, they're completely trashed. Looks like I stomped on them."
She laughed. "How did you manage that?"
"They were beside me on the seat, and I guess I knocked them onto the floor? Shockingly, they were not my main point of concern at the time," he added dryly. "Whatever, I'm over it."
"So I take it you enjoyed yourself?"
"Oh, yeah." He gave a slow, satisfied sigh, and she envisioned him sinking bonelessly into the cushioned seat. "I'm lucky I had a handkerchief with me, I almost enjoyed myself all over the interior of the car."
Which answered the perennial question of how he managed to lose so many pocket squares. "Never have I been so happy not to be the person who handles your drycleaning."
"How about you?" he inquired, unexpectedly solicitous. "Where are you at?"
"That's okay," she said, trying to sound relaxed, even though her nerves were jangling, her entire body thrumming. "I'm all right. Anyhow, I'm at work, I shouldn't—"
"That's right, I remember now. You were sitting on my desk."
"Um," she stammered, torn between knowing she should ask him to stop and not really wanting him to stop.
"That's good. I like that a lot. You're sitting on my desk, those gorgeous legs dangling in front of me. Neat little suit. All buttoned up and so polite."
His voice was like warm honey, rich and slow and sugared, and she let her eyes drift closed again. She imagined he was there with her, looking just as he had in the snapshot: slightly rumpled, careless, gorgeous. She thought about his hands—long and tapered, with their square, blunt fingertips. Such fantastically capable hands.
"Just another day at the office," he drawled. "Except… what's this? You're not wearing any panties, Pepper."
"Not very professional of you. I have to say, I'm disappointed."
"Then don't look, Mr. Stark," she replied archly.
"Pepper. How could I not look at you?" She could hear the smile in his voice. "I'm touching your legs now. Running my hands along your calves, up to your thighs. Does that feel good?"
She grazed her fingernails gently over the top of her thigh. "Yes."
"Rolling down your stockings—your skin's so warm and smooth, I can't get enough. I want to taste every inch of it."
She should have known he'd excel at this, she realized. After all, sex and the sound of his own voice were two of Tony's favourite things.
"I'm sliding your skirt up around your hips. I need to see you. Still with me?" he inquired.
"Good," she said, vaguely aware of the fact that she wasn't really answering the question.
"I'm stroking your inner thigh now, I love how soft the skin is there. So sensitive. Just the lightest touch is all it takes. I can tell you're wet for me, because you smell so good."
She shifted in the chair and crossed her legs, squeezing herself tightly, breathing faster as a jolt raced through her body. She was still far too conscious of her surroundings to go too far—but just listening to him was so arousing that she probably wouldn't need much help.
"I bet you taste good, too," he was saying. "And here you are, spread out in front of me. So many intriguing choices. Should I eat you now?"
She leaned back a little in her chair, arching her spine, and thought of the prickle of his goatee on her hip, her thigh. As her hand drifted under the desk and into her lap she could feel his fingers spreading her, his tongue lapping at her.
"Or should I fuck you now, and eat you later? You're so quiet," he observed. "Tell me what you need."
"Tony," she gasped, gripping the armrest of her chair with one hand, pressing into herself through her clothes with the other.
"I'm right here," he encouraged.
"Please, pleaseplease…" She couldn't articulate, couldn't put a name to her need. It didn't matter anymore what he said—she just wanted to hear his voice.
"Yeah, okay, I'm pushing into you now, my cock is filling you up, you're so slick and hot and you feel so good and I need to move, I'm holding your hips and pounding into you, so hard, fuck, it's so good, it's too good, I can't stop—" The words poured into her ear in a long, low, unbroken stream. It was exactly what she needed to push her past the limit.
"Yes, yes, Tony—!"
"That's right, come for me, Pepper. Let me hear you."
She tensed, and cried out, then shuddered as the dam broke and relief flooded through her, hot and sweet.
"That's right," he murmured again, as she rode out the waves. "Good girl."
Some moments later, when she was once more capable of speech, she said, "Wow."
He laughed. "Dō itashimashite."
She wanted to say something naughty and clever, but she felt far too scattered. Instead, she went with, "You're talented."
"I know," he replied. "Hold on a second." She heard him speaking to someone—presumably the driver—In Japanese. Then footsteps, a flurry of street noises, a soft electronic chime. "There's another one," he said.
"'You are here.' On the elevator."
"It's probably ideomatic." She was talking on autopilot, barely aware of what she was saying.
The sound of a door unlatching. "Home sweet home," he sighed. There was a soft whump! which she guessed was him tumbling into bed. Her suspicions were confirmed when what he said next was partially muffled by a pillow: "Be nice to have you here." Which was the closest Tony generally came to saying the words I miss you. "You should come out for a few days."
"We'll see." She walked on jelly legs over to the door and unlocked it. "I've got a lot I want to get done this week."
"There's a pool on the roof of the hotel. I'll get them to clear everyone out one night, get some champagne brought up, we'll have a nice moonlight swim... just because it's you, I'll even spring for a bikini. As long as it's a small one."
"That's very generous of you. We'll see," she repeated. "You should get some sleep. But this was a productive call, Mr. Stark. We'll have to schedule another one very soon."
A pause, and then: "You are a woman of astonishing depths, Miss Potts."
She smiled. "I know."
"So. Same time tomorrow night, onegai shimasu?"
"Are you kidding me?" she snorted. "Tony, I have a job to do! I can't just lock myself in the office for an hour in the middle of the workday to cater to the demands of your raging sex drive."
"But you're so good at multi-tasking. And so efficient. Look at how fast you were able to—"
"I'll call you tonight at bedtime," she interjected. "Then we'll talk."
"It's bedtime now." He sounded half-asleep already.
"It's almost morning where you are now. You're living in the future," she reminded him.
"Anata ga koishii, Pepper."
"Go to sleep, Tony."
"Oyasumi nasai," he replied, and hung up.
Pepper signed on to her computer and checked prices on commercial flights to Japan—she didn't feel right about using company resources for what was essentially a vacation, and she could afford to fly first class on her salary. Her cursor hovered over the "Book now!" button for almost a full minute before she closed out the browser window. It just wouldn't be responsible.
She opened a second window, and clicked around Dolce and Gabbana's website for a minute or two before finding what she wanted. They were a little flashy for her taste, but she knew what Tony liked and he would definitely be pleased.
She called the 24-hour shopping service she usually used in Tokyo, and was assured that the gift would be dropped at the hotel and delivered to the room with Mr. Stark's coffee in the morning. She asked them to charge her personal credit card, not her corporate one.
"No message," she affirmed. "No note. Just the sunglasses."
No sooner had she ended the call than her handset jittered against the surface of the desk.
It was a grainy photo of a darkened room, a luxurious hotel bed softly illuminated by a familiar blue glow. Another arm's-length phone snapshot—this time taken from overhead. Tony lay on his back, bare-chested, feigning sleep, his face in profile aimed towards the centre of the bed, his free hand splayed over the empty half of the mattress.
The message read, You are here.