Chapter 3 - Guess Who's Coming for Dinner

One of the best things about being Tony Stark is having Pepper Potts as a girlfriend and, from time to time, spending your evenings with her. Tonight happens to be one of those occasions and, considering the generous cleavage of her classy black dress, Tony counts it as a personal victory.

The dinner has been really enjoyable; the lobster delicious, the champagne excellent and Tony is pleasantly content. Only one thing could make his evening even better, and that is convincing Pepper to stay overnight.

His eyes flicker to her and back to his plate. She wouldn't turn him down, now would she? Tony doesn't remember having this kind of dilemma with other women, but Pepper being Pepper... it's kind of hard to be sure.

He clears his throat.

"Yes, Tony?" she says, raising an eyebrow. Taking the glass of champagne between her hands, she lifts it to her luscious, pouty lips and takes a small sip. Tony begins to feel distinctively turned on.

"How about you joining me for a... late night meeting?" he says as seriously as he can under the circumstances. "I have this... pressing matter my CEO needs to attend." Tony scratches his head as his eyes drop to the rather obvious proof of his arousal. "I think it might be a bit outside your regular job description." He shrugs.

Pepper takes another sip of champagne before shaking her head. "Mr. Stark, you should know by now that nothing is outside the job description on your own boss," she says softly. The expression of her blue eyes is wicked. "As a matter of fact, I think I should call mom and tell her how busy we are," Pepper continues.

"Yeah. I mean... Yeah, you could do that." He nods, unable to take his eyes from her lips as she grabs her cell phone and starts dialing. His mind is already celebrating the victory when the phone stops in midair, deep blue eyes shining with mischief.

"This comes, however, with one condition," she says. Her voice, more than her words, triggers all the "anti-work" alarms in his brain.

He rolls his eyes in sheer annoyance. "Pepper, you're killing me. How many times did I tell you this? Enjoy the moment."

"And who says I won't enjoy it after I have your word." Her low, suggestive voice glides hotly over his every nerve.

"I can't believe I'm doing this. Just keep in mind that you'll have to work hard to make me forget you ruined my moment."

Her mouth curves in a smile.

"You know I never back off from hard work, Mr. Stark." Tony has to mentally slap himself out of the memory evoked by her words. He takes a gulp of champagne as a pretext to break eye contact with her. He needs a distraction if he doesn't want to jump on her like a horny dog. He'd most likely be punished for it later.

He sighs melodramatically and downs the rest of the champagne in one gulp. "All right, I know I'll live to regret this. Do your worst."

"Remember you asked me to make you an appointment with Robert Moore?"

Robert Moore? He actually tries to remember who the fuck the guy is, or at least why did he want to meet him. He can't focus. Not even a bit. Not with her cleavage in sight.

"The arc reactor?" she tries. "Robert Moore is the senator who introduced the bill about the alternative sources of energy."

Oh, now he remembers. Among all the puppets and clowns populating the American pantheon, Moore made a name for himself as a strong supporter of the clean energy movement. Tony respected that. More than that, he needed the kind of political support the Senator could provide for his energy projects.

"What about him?"

Her eyes dart from him to her BlackBerry and back. "I've got you an appointment on Monday. That means..."

"For fuck's sake, Pepper!" Tony sighs, an almost pained sound. "It's Friday evening! Can you harangue me about this thing tomorrow, thank you?"

At first, Pepper doesn't even flinch. Then, a few creases appear on her forehead. Her blue eyes narrow slightly and her lips turn into a thin line. When she finally opens her mouth, he already knows is his CEO speaking and not his girlfriend.

"Tony, this is very important. I need you to come to Washington with me and help me solve a couple of things. The meeting comes first, of course, but there are also other aspects you need to take into consideration-"

"And I will." Pepper gives him a very suspicious glare and crosses her arms over her chest with a huff. "I give you my word, scout's honor." He straightens his posture and strolls around the table.

"You've never been a scout, Tony!" she admonishes him, but from his voice he can tell she's not actually that mad. He rests his hands on her shoulders and his fingers start kneading along her firm, tense muscles. A low moan escapes her lips and she leans her head to the side to provide him better access.

"You seem like a hard woman to please, Miss Potts." Tony lowers his mouth to her exposed neck and trails hot, open kisses up its length, savoring the salty taste of her skin. He stops only a few inches away from her lips. "How about we put that to a test?"

Without a word, she stretches up and catches his mouth, long fingers curling in his hair and pulling him closer to her. He moans against her lips, moving his hands to cup her breasts and-

"Sir, Captain Steve Rogers wants to talk to you," Jarvis says in that proper English accent.

Tony's heart literally jumps out of his chest, makes a few tumbles and falls into his stomach. "Sweet mother of balls, Jarvis! You scared the shit out of me! Jesus!" he gasps between short, raspy breaths. Pepper makes a muffled sound, which looks very much like laughter, and grabs the cell phone to dial her mom.

"I had to do this anyway," she says apologetically. He looks at her phone for a moment, unable to decide what to do next, then takes a few steps toward the door. "Damn it, Jarvis! Just – just tell him I'm out!"

In his peripheral vision, he sees Pepper getting up and moving her sexy body toward the balcony, talking at her cell phone. Ever since they started dating, a few months ago, her mother became surprisingly suspicious of his intentions. Okay, so maybe his reputation might have something to do with the old lady not wanting him around her daughter in anything other than a professional position, but he'll find a way to charm her over. Eventually. Not that there would be a problem with his reputation.

This gives him another one of his brilliant ideas.

"Jarvis, better tell the good Cap. I left town for a couple of weeks. Took Pepper away to Paris where we're busy having lots of kinky sex."

This earns him a dirty look from the redhead. It looks like she's trying talk her mum out of hiring her a chaperone. "You're not helping!" she hisses at him, covering the speaker. All right, it's good to know he's not the only one who's pissed off.

"Sir, I'm afraid that is not possible," Jarvis intervenes. "Mr. Rogers is already in the elevator."

Tony snaps. "How the hell did he get in there in the first place? Jarvis, the security protocols in this house must be updated."

"Sir, you've updated them recently."

"And it seems I didn't do such a good job," he retorts and makes a mental note to remove any member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and any Avenger from the very short list of persons having access in his sanctuary. At least, he has to make them a visiting program or something.

Covering the phone's receiver, Pepper makes an impatient gesture for him to open the door, which he does, without trying to hide his annoyance. It is... 8:30 p.m., what the fuck could have happened? Not like he's dying to find out; he would rather enjoy his evening with Pepper than be debriefed.

"Mr. Stark," Steve salutes as he enters the room.

Wearing a T-shirt and what seems to be a pair of Calvin Klein jeans, 'grandpa' almost looks trendy. That is, if you don't count the haircut. For Tony, the very existence of a salon where they could make you look like your grandfather is a continuous surprise. He always had a sneaking suspicion Rogers was cutting his own hair. Or maybe Fury had a weird fetish for it and did it himself.

Tony's smile is anything but friendly. "Captain," he greets and reluctantly shakes the hand the good Captain offered to him. "If you came for that Shawarma, I've already had dinner."

"No, I..."

"Captain Rogers, welcome!" Pepper is finally done talking to her mom. She puts the cell phone on the table and walks over. "Nice to see you."

Rogers makes a step toward her. "Nice to see you too, Miss Potts," he says and kisses her hand reverently. Pepper smiles, obviously flattered by his old-fashioned charms. Really, now? Who the hell does that in this century?

"I'm sorry for interrupting your dinner," Rogers says and actually sounds like he means it. Well, there's always a solution when you don't want to disturb. You just don't. "Fury sent me," he continues, like that would make all the difference in the world. "Your phone was out of range and he couldn't contact you for the whole week."

And if he couldn't, that should have told him something. Like the fact that Tony might not really want to talk to him. Or to Rogers. Or to anyone who didn't have blond hair, blue eyes and a sexy, firm ass. His eyes meet Rogers and he notices with no small amount of alarm the man actually fits the description. What the fuck was wrong with him to even remember what Steve Rogers' ass looked like?

His mind is still fighting against raising panic when he feels Pepper's eyes on him - the same disapproving, questioning glance she always has when she wants to scold him for not taking his responsibilities seriously. He shrugs, takes a deep breath and turns to Rogers, who stopped talking and scans suspiciously the various devices that fill the place.

"And he just couldn't live another day without hearing my sweet voice," Tony says, trying to keep panic out of his voice.

"Look, Stark, I'm not here because I want to or because-"

"Guys, please," Pepper intervenes, taking Tony's hand and pulling him closer to her. "Would you mind not acting like a jerk?" she whispers in his year, her sweet smile never leaving her lips. "I might change my mind about staying over tonight."

Tony gives her a worried look – she is serious, he can tell, although she looks as calm and innocent as usual. Sweet mother of Jesus, she can be actually scary sometimes. The thought of the kinky punishment she might have in mind for him helps him regain his composure.

Tony props his hands on his hips. "All right then, what happened? And, please, don't touch that!" he says, pointing to a strange looking device with a few buttons on it. "That is a beta prototype of a magnetic sensor device with a field generator and sensor element and it still needs some-"

"English, please?"

Cautiously, the Captain moves away from the little device without waiting for him to answer.

"It detects magnetic particles." Tony explains briefly. Hi-tech for complete dummies. "So, what happened?"

"Loki happened."

"You mean Loki – God of Mischief, son of Odin and brother of Thor, who recently led an army of monsters and tried to invade Earth? That Loki?" Pepper jumps in, shrugging when both men turn to her. "I thought he went back home to face Asgardian justice."

"He probably had a good lawyer." Tony cannot help it. "What, they're everywhere, why not in Asgard?" he adds.

"Stark, this is serious. Loki's back and apparently, he lost all his powers."

That is news indeed. "So now he's what? Harry Potter without his wand?"

The mental image of a Loki without his magical power is so incredible, Tony has to drink something. He walks to the small bar and takes out a bottle of brandy.

"Want some?" he asks Rogers who, predictably, refuses.

"You lose." He pours a drink for himself and puts the bottle back in the bar. "I'm all ears."

"Well, looks like he was arrested a week ago near Columbia. Carlson, the agent sent there by S.H.I.E.L.D., couldn't take him into custody, so Fury decided to go there in person."

Tony takes a sip of his brandy and paces the room in total silence, trying to think. It just has to be more than the eye sees. Otherwise, Fury wouldn't bother to inform him that Loki has been arrested somewhere in the United States.

Rogers is here because Fury needs him. And Fury doesn't need him to take care of Loki, since he is already in charge of his godly ass. Rogers' silence can also be a hint, unless...

The sound of laughter reaches his ears. It looks like Pepper and the good Captain were having a great time together. What a prick. Taking another sip of brandy, he walks straight to them.

"So let me see if I got this right," he says, frowning. "Somehow, Loki has escaped Asgard and he's back on Earth. He got busted by the cops in Columbia and claims he doesn't have any magical powers. Fury went there to escort him to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. I fail to see how Tony Stark fits in this picture."

"There's one more thing," Rogers says.

Of course it is.

"I knew it." He turns to Pepper. "I knew it. They never give you information just for the sake of it."

Rogers takes a paper out of his pocket and hands it to him. It is covered with numbers – coordinates, his brain supplies. Space coordinates.

"What is it? What is out there to make Fury ask me to check?" he asks. The Captain doesn't even try to hide his unease – it's written all over his face.

"He said something about a hundred of unidentified objects heading towards Earth with an impossible speed. He needs you to use your telescope to take a look at them."

Pepper gasps and covers her mouth with her hands. "If that's true..."

"The telescope is on top of the building," Tony says, shoving the paper in his back pocket. "Let's take the elevator."


A few minutes later, the three of them are on top of Stark Tower and Tony re-calibrates his telescope to fit the coordinates Rogers gave him. Once he finishes, he watches through the eyepiece, frowns and verifies all the coordinates again then watches for the second time. It is worse than Fury's darkest nightmares. "Sweet mother of-"

"What is it, Tony?" Pepper asks, a worried appearing between her brows.


Tony looks at them in disbelief, the piece of paper still hanging in his hand. "If these readings are correct - and I'm sure they are," he says, taking a deep breath, "then we have a Chitauri armada heading straight to us. I can tell that because this UFO looks just like the mother-bee I nuked when I entered the other side."


Author's Notes:

This time, I was faster. Really. It took me only three weeks to edit this chapter. I only hope it sounds a bit better that the first version.

I will have to re-write the next chapter entirely, so it might take a while to post it.


Special Thanks:

To Cosmopop, as usual. I have no idea what would I do without your generous help.

To Ordis - I can't believe you left me a review! I was just reading your great stories (I will leave a review soon, I promise) when I saw the review. Wow. Thanks! For your sake, I will try to bring Sanders back in future chapters.



1. Kelly Clarkson – Miss Independent

2. Westlife – When You're Looking Like That

3. Adam Lambert – For Your Entertainment

4. Kelly Clarkson – Beautiful Disaster

5. Fellowship of the Ring Soundtrack – A Storm Is Coming

6. Fellowship of the Ring Soundtrack – A Knife in the Dark


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