An Iron Man Christmas Carol ~

A Love Story

Stave the Sixth

In which the protagonist of our story gets lucky.

With groceries delivered from the nearest open delicatessen, Tony and Pepper made and ate Christmas dinner together.

It was an unhurried, sensual affair, marked by the sharing of bites and long, meaningful glances, but without any sense of urgency.

Tony hadn't done much cooking on his own, and hadn't ever prepared this particular meal, but with Pepper's help to fill in the blanks in his memory with quick Internet searches, they managed to conjure up a meal close enough to suit what Tony remembered from his childhood. Pepper filed their cobbled together version of the recipe away into her own private collection "for next year," she told him, eyes shining.

His own glowed happily in response.

"Shall I pour us some wine?" Tony eyed the selection of bottles in the wine rack above the sink in Pepper's kitchen. Pulling one or two out, he was pleased to note that they were all excellent labels - probably gifts from him and other corporate 'friends', or else she'd culled a discerning taste in fine wine over the years. That fact did not surprise him.

Pepper finished putting away the last of the dishes, watching his exploration as she dried her hands on a cream-colored dishtowel, her eyes making him wonder where exactly her mind was. "Go ahead," she answered after a moment. "I'm going to start a fire in the fireplace.

With a grin as she disappeared, Tony selected a bottle and first sampled the vintage, pouring just a little into his own glass. It was a good year, and an excellent label. Completing his service, filling two glasses and setting them and the bottle on a tray, Tony took them into the living room, where he'd seen the fireplace earlier in the evening.

He'd assumed she'd gone there when she'd said she was going to start a fire, but although the Christmas tree twinkled merrily in it's corner, the hearth stood cold and dark. It took him a minute to remember – with a twist of hope in his stomach – that there was another fireplace upstairs, in Pepper's bedroom.

Hardly daring to breath least he be wrong, Tony carried the service tray upstairs and around the corner to the door he remembered from his earlier visit as leading to Pepper's bedroom.

Tapping lightly, the door fell inward a few inches anyway. "Pepper?"

She was crouched in front of the fireplace in the sitting area portion of her bedroom, the gas flame just springing to life amid the brightly colored bits of cut glass arrayed in the tray below.

Looking up, Pepper's cheeks were pink, and Tony wondered if it was due to the warmth of the flame, or the fact that she had skillfully maneuvered him into her bedroom. He grinned at her, and the deepening color confirmed his suspicions.

"I thought we might be more comfortable-," she started to say.

He interrupted her, not wanting her to waste a second on embarrassment. "Wine?" he asked, setting the tray down and extending one of the glasses he'd filled toward her.

Keeping her eyes on his, wondering what he was thinking, Pepper accepted the glass and took a drink, perhaps a little too quickly, because Tony chuckled. Drinking from his own glass, Tony moved closer to her and sat down on the loveseat, patting the cushion beside him.

Pepper gave him just one wary look before remembering that this was her idea, that she wanted to be here, and exhaled as she sat beside him, willing herself to relax again.

Watching her, a little dismayed, Tony put his arm around her the way he had that morning in the carriage. "Pepper," he said softly. "We don't have to do this," he assured her. "We could," his eyes landed on the flat screen T.V. "Watch a seasonal movie." Her amused snort and incredulously raised eyebrow told him what she thought of that suggestion.

"What?" he teased, daring to lean in to kiss her neck. "I could be in the mood for 'It's A Wonderful Life'." Encouraged by her shiver, Tony moved to kiss lower – the enticing skin of her décolletage that always changed color, depending on her mood. "Maybe 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer', you know I feel a kinship toward a fellow inebriate."

"Tony…" Pepper exhaled, but whether out of exasperation over his words or to encourage his actions, it was difficult to tell.

"Alright, alright," Tony murmured distractedly, his hand reaching to take the elastic from her hair, tossing it aside so that he could run his fingers through the silken tresses unhindered. "Then it'll have to be 'Die Hard', or nothing. That's my final offer."

Pepper's eyes were closed; she was having difficulty focusing when they were open, but at this, she attempted to turn her head to look at him. "Tony… 'Die Hard' isn't a Christmas movie."

Loosening his tie, Tony pulled it over his head and tossed it away somewhere. He started to unbutton his shirt but Pepper's fingers stopped him, replacing his with her own. Fascinated, he watched her nimble fingers work the buttons, one by one.

"It's my favorite Christmas movie," he confessed. "And it's as much a Christmas movie as 'It's A Wonderful Life' is," he was completely distracted now. "They both take place on Christmas, and that's their only claim to the holiday." Pepper opened her mouth to argue but Tony had thoroughly tired of this discussion.

Arcing over her, he pressed his mouth to hers, humming in deep satisfaction when she responded instantly by winding her arms around him, bowing her own body up into the arc he'd created above her. Wrapping his arms around her waist, Tony pulled Pepper tightly against him, finally releasing her mouth only when he needed to find oxygen to breath.

Gasping for air only inches from her face, Tony said, "Alright. No Christmas movie then. We'll have to think of something else to do." Pepper nodded drunkenly. Diving back in to kiss her again, Tony ran his hand down the length of her side searching for the end of her dress.

Pepper clung to him, running her hands inside his shirt to his shoulders and pushing at the material until he shrugged it away, flinging it off to join his tie somewhere in the room behind them. The arc reactor shone through his muscle tee, and Pepper peeled that over his head as well so that he was bare-chested, braced above her on just one arm.

When he found the hem of her dress, Tony hesitated only as long as it took him to realize, hazily, that Pepper had been stripping him. Then he carefully pulled the red sheath from her body, leaving her only in the lacey black lingerie he'd caught her in that morning.

This time he didn't turn away, but made a show of looking his fill until Pepper was a dusky rose color, all over, from blushing. She held his gaze directly though, as if awaiting his appraisal, and when his eyes completed their circuit of her body and met hers again, they were full of hunger and desire.

"Pepper," he murmured.

Pushing herself up into a sitting position, Pepper reached behind her to undo her bra, but Tony stopped her. "Wait," he shook his head. "Not yet."

Lifting her into his arm, Tony carried her the fifteen or so feet to her bed and set her down on the soft, wine-colored comforter. Her pale skin looked even softer, more delicate against the jewel-tone material and he wanted nothing more than to spend hours touching her.

Loving her.

Stretching out alongside her, Tony noticed Pepper watching him, and he smiled softly, reassuringly. She smiled back and it felt as though a hand were clenching around his heart.

Nodding, Tony watched as Pepper once again reached behind her and this time, removed the scrap of cloth coving her breasts from view. The sight of them bared to him, when he'd spent years imagining this moment…

Tony had seen many breasts in his time. Even a lot of what you might call 'perfect' breasts, given the southern California regions penchant for breast augmentation surgery. But Pepper's were natural, slightly more than a handful, upswept…

And the most beautiful things Tony had ever seen.

Looking to Pepper's eyes for permission, Tony moved in, first to touch, then to taste the gorgeous display she'd gifted him with. Swirling his tongue around the nearest stiff peak, he kept his eyes on Pepper's face as her head tilted back in pleasure and he drew a moan from her throat.

Her fingers burrowed deep into Tony's hair, holding his face close against her chest. Pepper would be lying if she said that she'd never imagined being with him like this, but she had never imagined that her body would respond to him with quite so much strength and urgency. It was overwhelming and almost a little frightening, but she didn't dare stop him.

Kissing his way down past her stomach, swirling his tongue into her belly button and making her arch up toward his mouth, Tony hooked his fingers around the ends of her panties, but didn't pull then down just yet. Instead he mouthed her sex through the black silk and lace and just breathed, exhaling warm air and inhaling the increasingly familiar scent of Pepper.

Beneath his mouth, Pepper twitched and bucked. Expelling a long, needy moan, her fingers curled like claws in his hair, pulling tightly. Her knees tried to come up on either side of his head but Tony wasn't ready for that yet. Ignoring her frustrated whine, he pushed up onto his elbows and pulled her panties down to midway on her thighs, restricting her movement.

He could tell by her body language and the frustrated sounds she was making that she was going to complain, but Tony knew what he was doing. Sliding his tongue along her cleft, he slid one probing finger inside her just as his tongue curled back upward to target her clitoris. Carefully adding a second finger, he sucked on that sensitive bundle of nerves, delighting in the way her body rocked upward into his mouth, and the way Pepper cried out his name - just as much as he enjoyed the sweet, exquisitely honeyed taste of her.

Pepper was dying. She had to be, because although it had been a long time since she'd had sex (not since she'd been in a relationship back when she'd first been promoted as Tony's assistant; that asshole, Roger) he had never made her feel this good. And just as she came against Tony's mouth, shouting his name in graceless abandon, she remembered a drunken promise her employer had made the same Christmas Eve on which Roger had broken up with her.

'I'm going to eat you out until dawn; see how many times I can make you come before I'm even inside you.'

She was still shuddering through her release when the laughter came, as hard and unbidden as the memory.

Tony didn't question the laughter, he just grinned, mistaking it for euphoria. And in a way, it was. Pulling her panties off completely, he tossed them aside and hooked her legs over his shoulders so that he could dive in better and taste her more fully.

"Oh, God," Pepper moaned, shaking at just the touch of his breath against her skin, she was still so sensitized.

But Tony didn't intend to linger there for long. Attending to her oh so gently, he remained only long enough to clean up the remnants of her orgasm and to tease her toward the beginnings of a second before he once again climbed the length of her body in search of her mouth. Tasting herself on his lips, Pepper found herself growing even more aroused, to her own surprise.

Tony was still half dressed, but Pepper could feel his arousal pressing against her. She realized that he'd kept his pants on all this time to prevent himself from losing control while he saw to her needs. It was by far, one of the least selfish things she had ever seen him do, and she couldn't help grinning, even while she was kissing him.

Reaching between them, Pepper cupped the thick bulge of Tony's erection through his pants. Immediately he stopped kissing her – he froze entirely, hissing in a breath of surprise and desire.

She was watching his face and it took him a moment to realize it. He remembered to breath about the same time, turning to meet her eyes, his own dark with passion as he panted heavily. Without a word, Pepper slid her hand up the length of him to his belt buckle where her other hand joined the first and made quick work of both his it, and the fastenings on his pants.

Pepper wasn't expecting him to be wearing underwear. He wasn't. It made it that much easier for her to press his slacks down around his hips, reach in and remove his cock. He was heavy in her hands, thick, and as she gave him and experimental stroke, she could feel Tony jump even before she heard him moan.

Grasping her shoulder, Tony bowed his head, closing his eyes and willing himself not to just lose himself right there in her hand. Pushing out of his pants, he didn't toss them away as he'd done with the rest of his clothes but only so that he could extract his condom case.

Once she realized what he was doing, Pepper stopped him, putting a hand over his. "It's okay," she said, her voice breaking as though she hadn't spoken in years rather than minutes. She cleared her throat. "It's okay. I've been getting shots for years – for the hormones," she explained. "And we both get screened regularly; I see the results, so…"

Tony felt strangely like crying.

Everything he had experienced with the Spirits – it had all been about love, of course. But one of the things he had learned was that real love was impossible without trust, and that was what Pepper was giving to him. What she did give to him every day. And it would be what he would give her from this day forward.

Starting now.

Tossing his pants aside, tossing the case aside, Tony cupped Pepper's cheek and kissed her again, long and deep, his tongue delving into the cavern of her mouth to caress its dark hidden depths and drink her inner sweetness.

Tony hovered over her, flattening his palm over the soft skin of her belly and splaying his fingers. Sliding his hand upward until he could cup her breasts, first one, then the other, he rolled their pleasant weight in his hand, thumbing her nipple and smiling when she shuddered.

When he moved between her hips, Pepper's breath caught, and she could see the mixture of want, desire, and fear in his eyes that were an echo of her own emotions. Somehow, knowing that he was just as nervous as she was helped encourage her that it was the right time.

He kissed her when he entered her, and their gasps were swallowed in each other's mouths.

Tony spent several moments just kissing Pepper's face, which was screwed up with both pleasure and discomfort. It had been awhile for her, and although her body was more than ready to accept him, even practiced women occasionally were unprepared for his girth. He waited, breathing heavily, until she began to move under him.

Whispering her name like a prayer, Tony withdrew from her almost completely; her tight heat was almost unbearable, but he couldn't stay away from it for long. Thrusting inside her with a protracted groan, he realized instantly that this would be over far too quickly for his liking. He had wanted her for far too long and she felt impossibly good.

Pepper wrapped her legs around his waist, trying to bring him closer, or deeper, she wasn't sure which, just that she needed it now. The open, needy expression on Tony's face wasn't just about sex, although it was astonishing to her how clearly she could see that he wanted her. He wanted her. Not just any woman. It made her want to laugh again with joy, but all she could manage now was a moan of pleasure as the rhythm of his thrusts increased.

No, she could see something else too, and when he opened his eyes, Pepper could see what he had yet to put into words. What even she had yet to verbalized, and something inside her went off like a firework.

"Tony," she gasped, reaching up to take his face in both her hands. "Tony." He was somewhere else entirely at first, his hair tousled, and his large chocolate brown eyes so wide, for a moment she could image what he must have looked like as a little boy.

Pepper smiled at the confusion in his eyes. "I love you," she said. She laughed to hear herself say the words out loud. To him. And in the middle of having sex with him. "Tony," she said again. "I love you."

She actually felt his heart beat faster. Tony kissed her, so hard she squeaked in surprised. He still hadn't withdrawn from her body, but he gave her the most solemn look she had ever seen from him since the day, post Iron man, that he gave her that speech about knowing what he had to do.

"Pepper Potts, I love you, too. And I'm not just saying that because of where my dick is."

Rolling her eyes, Pepper swatted his chest, but grinned widely. "I know that, actually," she confessed.

Tony's grin grew wider. "Good," he exhaled, relieved. "I just wanted to make sure you didn't think that."

He leaned in to kiss her again, and Pepper accepted his lips, but the moment his hips began to rock forward again, she put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

"Ah-ah," she denied breathily.

"Ah-ah?" Tony looked pained.

"Roll over," Pepper urged him. "On your back."

He blinked at her once before complying, praying he understood her intentions correctly.

Pepper waited until he'd assumed the correct position then knelt beside his prone form. Taking his cock in hand, she stroked him gently, taking the opportunity to examine him properly.

Watching her, even incredibly aroused and rocking in her hand, Tony had time for a smug grin at her obvious appraisal. Raising as eyebrow, he was pleased to see he could still make her blush at this stage of the game. He loved that about her.

And then she took him in her mouth, and Tony loved her even more. "Holy shit… Pepper, holy shit!"

Pepper laugh around him, and he nearly lost it. Grabbing a fistful of her hair, he held on for dear life as she slowly sucked him in, her tongue dancing around his flesh, and Tony's head dropped backward.

It had been a long time since she had done this, but once upon a time she had enjoyed the intimacy of the act. And Tony seemed to be enjoying it too… just the right combination of hand, tongue, just a little bit of teeth and then tongue again, swirling, molding to his flesh - she could taste herself on him again, and it was almost obscene how much she was enjoying that.

Tony couldn't take it anymore. Pulling Pepper up and over him so that she was draped across his body, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her, shoving his tongue in her mouth.

Breaking the kiss long enough to speak he mumbled, "Keep that up, I wasn't gonna be able to fuck you any longer." He kissed her again, thrusting his erection against her thigh. "And I really want to fuck you longer."

Pepper laughed. "So romantic," she chided. "You would have gotten hard again," she teased, practically. "It wouldn't have taken all that long either, I'm betting."

His mouth was at her throat but she could feel him grinning. "Hmph. But I want you right now…"

He thrust again, and Pepper's breath caught in her throat. Positioning herself over him, she said, "Well, they you'd better take what you want, hadn't you?"

Not needing to be told twice, he tightened his arms around her, his face pillowed between her breasts, and thrust up into her body, moaning in satisfaction.

Mouth hanging open – this was… superb – eyes closed, Pepper reached blindly for Tony's hands, which he gave her, watching her from beneath lazy eyelids.

Using the heels of his palms for leverage, Pepper set a nice steady rhythm, rocking back and forth, building in speed until Tony had to reach for her waist to help her ride him, bucking up to meet her until at last, with a throaty cry, he felt her tighten around him and then she was shuddering in his arms.

Holding on to her tightly, Tony kissed wherever he could reach as he let go, rutting into her with rhythmlessly, till finally he too was spasming through his release.

Rolling onto his side, Tony pulled her into his arms, his face buried in her hair.

For a time, it was quiet until Pepper rolled to face him, unsuccessfully masking the worry on her face.

"Are you staying?" she asked.

Wishing that he were never in a position to have caused her that kind of concern, Tony brushed a few strands of hair away from her face. "I'm staying as long as you let me, Pep," he said. "Or till we both go back to my place," he amended.

Pepper said nothing, but she studied him for a long moment, as if seeking the veracity of his answer, then nodded.

Tony kissed her and offered a smile. "Do I need to make this official? Pepper Potts, will you be my girl, until such a sufficient time has passed that I can ask you to move in with me, and/or be my wife?" Seeing the shock on her face, he added, "I've wasted more than enough time on this, Pep; but I'm not gonna screw it up by skipping steps here. I'm in it for the long haul, and I want you to know it so that no slick bastard like Jesse Howell sneaks in and tries to poach what's mine… but I'm willing to wait so that we can do thing right. So yes - I'll be here in the morning, and next week, and next year.

"That is… if you'll have me?" He asked, signs of vulnerability in his eyes.

Pepper, who had been listening to him wide-eyed, smiled.

"Yes."