A/N: I couldn't think of a good situation for this, so it kind of became 6 times Tony made Pepper blush. (Also rated T for suggested sex, just so ya know.)
1) It is Virginia Potts' first day as Tony Stark's personal assistant, and to say she was nervous would be a tremendous understatement. There were the usual jitters regarding a new workplace, a new schedule. But that wasn't really it. It was more Tony.
She knew the reputation he had; everyone who didn't live under a rock did, she was pretty sure. He was brilliant - there was no mistaking that - but he was also a lazy, self-entitled playboy. That is, if the magazines could be believed.
Yet at 7:30 sharp, Pepper made her way into his office, dressed rather conservatively in a knee-length skirt, blouse, and blazer. "Hello, Mr. Stark," she nodded, hand outstretched. "I'm Virginia Potts."
Tony wasn't quite sure why he was at the office at 7:30, much less awake. "You don't look like a Virginia," he commented; his gaze ran up and down, catching on her red hair and freckles. A smirk tugged at his lips. "Your freckles.. They're like pepper. I like that. Pepper." He shrugged nonchalantly, finally reaching out his own hand. "How're you doing, Pepper?"
She turned her head slightly, determined not to let her new boss see the light flush of her cheeks. "Will that be all, Mr. Stark?"
Try as he might, Tony couldn't hold back a laugh at that. "And you've got the attitude to go with it! I bet you'll do well here."
2) Pepper's beginning to regret bringing a date to the Christmas party. To be honest, there's nothing romantic between them. Or, at least, she doesn't see him that way. They've been friends for as long as she can remember; she and Noah grew up together, went to college together.
She's not really sure what made her invite him. Boredom, perhaps. Tony usually didn't come to the party, so she often had no one to talk to. This year he was here, though. And, as always, the source of many of her problems.
Her arms are wrapped around Noah's shoulders as they sway softly to the music, just tight enough to not be awkward but not tight enough to send the wrong signals. It's a fine balance, she has realized. And although Pepper attempts to lose herself in the music and the general glee of the party, she can't. Because no matter what she does, her thoughts drift back to Tony.
He's watching her, though he does a pretty great job hiding it. Yet every once and a while she'll meet his gaze, surprised at the darkness of his eyes. It's an expression she's not used to seeing on Tony Stark's face; as someone who generally gets what he wants, jealousy can't be a familiar feeling.
She meets his eyes again, immediately glancing away. And she hopes that the lights are dim enough to hide the fact that her cheeks suddenly rival Rudolph's nose.
3) Tony likes her; he knows that now. Truly, it's more like love, but he's not quite willing to go that far yet. And maybe it's blind optimism on his part, but Pepper certainly seems to be sending the signal that she feels the same.
In an uncharacteristically festive gesture - or so he tells himself - Tony decides to decorate. Tinsel lines the bannister, snowglobes lay upon shelves, and mistletoe hands in several doorways. It is this last addition that makes his heart flutter.
The next day, he enters the kitchen to find Pepper leaning casually in the doorway, seemingly unaware of what hangs above her head. In hindsight, Tony wonders if she knew all along, but just then he was more concerned about getting over to her as fast as possible without looking suspicious.
She accomplishes the task for him: "Tony, can you come sign this?"
Nimbly grabbing a pen, he skips over. "Of course!" Her brow furrows at this display of enthusiasm; but before she knows it he is standing nervously before her, hands clasped behind his back.
If his enthusiasm seemed odd, it is nothing compared to the timid look that lays upin his features now. As she opens her mouth to question him, he jerks his head up slightly.
And- oh. The realization dawns at last. Tony looks almost scared as he shrugs and steps forward; but even nerves can't keep the beginnings of a smirk off his face. Pepper meets him halfway, their lips touching in the lightest of kisses. His hand slips to her lower back, pulling her closer and-
"Whoa!" Rhodey exclaims. "Whoa, okay. Didn't need to see that. Here's your Christmas gift. I'm going to leave now."
As they both stammer and avoid each other's gazes, Pepper knows that there is no darkness to hide her blush this time. At least, she thinks, his is just as bad.
4) Things are kind of awkward between them now. Pepper hoped that Tony had noticed this too, because she doesn't like to think about the possibility that she might finally be going insane. It's weird, and Pepper doesn't like it.
There was something so nice about the consistency they used to have: Tony would flirt with her, she'd roll her eyes, he'd go to bed with yet another woman. Now, though, it was different. She hadn't seen another woman in the house since Afghanistan. When he flirted, there was a odd sincerity In his gaze that scared her. Because Pepper craved consistency, security. And the thought of their relationship changing, or becoming something more, was frightening. But not quite as frightening about the possibility that he didn't feel the same.
Pepper had her chin propped up on her fist, glazed eyes focusing distantly on some nonexistent horizon. She didn't often daydream. In fact, she almost never did. Right then, though, thoughts of Tony swirled around her head. If anything could distract her, it was him.
The familiar whine of the office door startled her from her daze; her head snapped up, a grin tugging at her lips. "Hey there," Pepper murmured. "What brings you here?" If she wasn't mistaken - and she rarely was, at least when it came to him - Tony looked embarrassed, almost nervous. She'd seen that expression on his face only a number of times, and it never failed to remind her of a puppy.
"Pep," Tony started. "I just- I brought you these." He pulled a small bouquet of tulips from behind his back. A nervous cough escaped him as he thrust his hand forward. "I know you like tulips. And they're orange and red, and they reminded me of you."
"Flowers?" Pepper clarified. "For me?" His face was carefully poised, yet the nervous eagerness in his eyes belied his calm air. Tony Stark was used to be accepted, used to getting what he want. And right then, Pepper could tell that he didn't just want her acceptance. He needed it. "Thanks," she whispered, as if any louder tone would interrupt whatever moment they were having.
A smile quirked at his lips, causing her face to twist into an expression of confusion. "It's nothing," Tony insisted. "Just.. Your cheeks match the tulips now."
5) "Eight months," Pepper whispered to herself. They had been together for eight months. It was probably some sort of record; she couldn't help but think a medal was deserved for the taming of Tony Stark. Wild beast to domesticated house pet, as one magazine cover had said. And not only was this Tony's longest relationship, it was her only decent one since beginning to work for him. Oddly circular, in a way.
As Rhodey had put it, they were "sickeningly sweet and too damn perfect for each other." Tony was no stranger to women, she knew that. But Pepper had seen how he had looked at them, as short term solutions to a much deeper need. She was the opposite; there was an this part of him, this purely loving gaze, that was reserved just for her.
Standing up from her desk, Pepper raised her arms above her head in a deep stretch. "Toooony!" she called, wondering just where her boyfriend had gotten off to. He wasn't in their bedroom, or his office, or the kitchen..
She stepped cautiously into the living room, wondering why the lights had been turned off. The only break in the darkness was a small box on the couch, glowing a familiar white-blue. It was his original arc reactor, encased in the plaque she had given him. "Proof that Tony Stark has a heart," it read. Yet there was something different about it now: there was a small band in the center, which looked suspiciously like a-
"Pepper," Tony murmured. She spun, eyes widening as she took in the sight of him down on one knee. "That arc reactor.. It was proof I had a heart, you once told me. And then, yeah, I'd say that was pretty accurate. But now, well, I'd like to think that you're the proof." He nodded toward the box, an adorably shy expression causing a small grin to cross his face. "I love you, Pepper. Will you marry me?"
Speech was suddenly impossible; instead Pepper nodded, dropping to her knees and burying her head in his shoulder. Tears - utterly happy tears - burned trails down her flushed face.
6) She was asleep. Her breathing had slowed and evened out, one arm wrapped loosely around his chest.
Tony couldn't sleep, though. Or, more accurately, he didn't want to. It was soothing to just observe her like this. It wasn't that he didn't she was beautiful on a daily basis; she was awe-inspiringly so. But here, she just looked so.. Serene. Calm. He resisted the urge to stroke a hand through her hair, afraid that the movement would wake her.
He had thought that no moment would ever come to the sheer happiness of their wedding. It was as close to perfection as he had ever thought possible. Free from paparazzi and any concerns in the world.
But it had just been topped. For watching her come undone above him, usually pristine hair tousled, eyes screwed shut, and skin flushed.. Yeah, that was perfect.
Tony's eyes slid shut; his arms were wrapped tightly around her, holding her body flush against his. And he fell asleep knowing he'd wake up the next morning and the morning after that next to the love of his life.
People often called Tony Stark lucky, and he agreed wholeheartedly. But it wasn't because of his wealth or fame, though he wasn't complaining about such things. No, that wasn't what made him lucky. In his mind, it was Pepper.
A/N: Reviews legitimately make my day, so if you liked it.. Feed the hungry author!