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07 June 2008 @ 09:49 pm
Drabble - Iron Man  
So, this is a drabble for gabby_silang, who stumped me with a line from my own fic, then requested: Iron Man, Pepper Potts taking a moment for herself.

And yeah, this was so going to turn out differently.  I meant for Pepper to take her moment for herself in the beginning of this drabble, but she flatly refused.  So, yeah.  More stuff happened, and about two thousand words later, Pepper finally fulfills the drabble request.  Sort of. 

Gabby, hope you like this despite that.  That Pepper, she's a stubborn woman. ;)

Fic: Beneath the Surface
Author: Rhien Elleth
Pairing: Tony/Pepper
Rating: PG-13
Words: 2600 words

This is un-beta'd, being a drabble.  Any errors are mine.

Pepper liked decadent things – ridiculously expensive shoes, six hundred thread count sheets, Swiss chocolates with ganache centers.  She hid her weakness behind control, behind conservative suits and tastefully reserved skirts paired with high collared shirts.  She hid behind professionalism and propriety.  But she always wore heels at least four inches high, and she relished the occasions rated special enough for a spray of Chamade on her wrists – a gift from Tony, of course, two years ago at Christmas. 

She’d picked it out herself, and paid for the little bottle of deeply sexy parfum as she had all his gifts to other people, which she also picked out.  She enjoyed the task, usually.  Enjoyed picking out personalized presents for board members, business contacts, friends, and the dozens of other people who received gifts from Tony Stark, by virtue of association. 

And, some part of her could admit, she enjoyed picking out personal, decadent, even sexy gifts for herself, ostensibly from Tony.  Always tasteful, but intimate enough that she could close her eyes and pretend, even if only for a precious, stolen second, that they really did come from him. 

Pathetic, Potts.

But that didn’t stop her from indulging in the fantasy, or the reality of the gifts themselves. 

She should have realized it would catch up with her, sooner or later.  Thanks to that utterly ridiculous dress – her own fault, really, for falling for the cool touch of satin, the feminine thrill of sexy lines and that cursed, daringly scooped back – now Tony knew her secret.  She’d rather hoped it would slip his mind.  That he’d just chalk it up to a single (clearly ill advised) incident, and that would be the end of it.  She could continue enjoying her secret passion for decadence, and the professional demeanor she’d built so carefully would remain...a stalwart barrier.

Because sometimes that barrier was the only grip on sanity she feared she had left.

Her first inkling that this was not the case came in the form of roses.  Not just any roses, of course, because Tony Stark was nothing if not compulsively extravagant.  It was one of the things she loved best about him, even when she sometimes disapproved. 

No, they were blue roses, supposedly impossible to produce without the aid of paint.  But these were genuine, natural, fantastically scented roses, with veins of darker midnight running through the paler, sky colored petals.  There were two dozen of them sitting on her desk the week after his fatally honest press conference, when she arrived at five forty-five in the morning.  No card, no note, just a leaded crystal vase and the extravagance of cerulean blooms, their scent filling her office. 

She stopped in the doorway, blinked, stared, and thought about pinching herself to make sure she wasn’t still asleep, and dreaming.  Then she looked for a card that didn’t exist, expecting to find it addressed to someone else – Ms. Everhart perhaps – but there wasn’t one. 

Incredibly, they had to be for her.  From Tony.  Really from Tony, as she didn’t remember ordering herself any flowers. 

Uncertain, thrilled, and alarmed all at once, she gave the vase a wide berth as she stepped around her desk and sat gingerly in her chair.  She powered on her computer, still staring at the roses out of the corner of her eye, wondering what it meant – what they meant.  She went about the business of her day, and all the while the beautiful bouquet sat on her desk with the same presence as a bomb wired to explode. 

She answered e-mails and reviewed Tony’s schedule, returned phone calls and checked messages, and an hour and sixteen minutes after she arrived at work, sat back in her chair and sipped her morning coffee while she pondered those roses.  What they meant.  What to do with them.  Whether or not it was safe to indulge the sudden, irrational need to bury her face in their blooms and inhale their scent. 

No, best not. 

She set her cup aside and rose, Blackberry in hand, to deliver Tony his schedule and morning coffee.  He was in the workshop, of course.  She supposed he’d probably slept down there, again.  If he’d slept at all.  Something about a new and improved arc generator was consuming him lately.

She came down the stairs slowly, cautiously.  Experience had taught her to be wary and expect anything when venturing here.  But this time he was bent over his workbench, attention focused solely on whatever small piece he was soldering.  She let out a breath of relief, and crossed the garage to place his coffee carefully within reach, but just out of spilling range.  Then she stood back and waited patiently for the sparks to stop jumping. 

A critical sweep of his work area and attire confirmed her earlier suspicion – he had worked through the night.  Silently, she cleared away the half eaten box of pizza, the empty soda cans and last night’s cup of coffee, untouched and long cold.  His dark hair was disheveled, standing up in odd spikes all over his head.  Grease smudged the wife beater shirt he favored for working, the cotton creased and wrinkled.  She told herself it wasn’t the least appealing, that in fact, Mr. Stark needed a shower, shave, and sleep, in that order.

Not that he would do any of those things, even if she told him.  Though she rather thought he should, considering the emergency session of the Board being held in a little less than two hours. 

He sat back suddenly, a weary breath escaping him as he rolled his shoulders and lifted the safety goggles from his face. 

“Finally,” he muttered, and set down the torch.  “Jarvis, let’s—”

Pepper cleared her throat, pointedly.

“Mr. Stark, you have a nine o’clock video conference with—”

“Did you get the roses?”

She stopped, flustered, as that intent gaze shifted from his workbench to her. 

“Ah, yes.  They’re lovely, thank you.  The Board—”

“Lovely?  You don’t like roses?”

“What?  No – I mean yes, I like roses very much.  Thank you.”

He frowned, and pushed back from the workbench.  “You already said that.  You don’t like them.”

“No, I do like them.”  She could feel a flush heating her face as she watched him peel heavy gloves from his hands and toss them down.  What was wrong with him?  Calling them lovely and saying thank you was a perfectly acceptable response—

“You didn’t even smell them.  Women like to smell roses, when they’re given them.  It’s the first thing they do.”  He smiled crookedly.  “I should know; I’ve given enough – or should I say you have, in my name.”

How did he know—

“You were watching me?”  More surprised than she should have been, she stared at him, mouth open.  She closed it a second later, nearly biting her tongue.

“Not me.  Jarvis.”

“Oh, no.  Jarvis uses a camera that feeds to one of your screens down here – you were watching.”

He shrugged, unrepentant.

“I wanted to see if you liked them.  Evidently roses weren’t the right choice, not even blue ones.  It’s okay, I’ll get it right next time.”

Next time?

“Roses are fine – I love roses, actually.”  Especially blue, because he had given them to her.  But that would have been dangerous to say.

“Is that a fact, Ms. Potts?”  Casually, he walked around the desk, picked up his coffee, and sipped.  Watching her the whole while with eyes that were weary and dark and maybe just a little more intense than usual.  It was difficult to hold her ground and not take a step back, but if she did, he’d see that as a retreat and respond accordingly…no doubt in some fashion she’d be sure to regret.

So, she met his eyes and lifted her chin.

“It is, Mr. Stark.  I didn’t smell them because…” she floundered, rallied, “well, because I wasn’t perfectly positive who they were from.  Or what they meant, precisely.”

He paused, cocked his head.

“What they meant?”  He smiled slowly, and her hand tightened around her Blackberry.  He leaned closer, and the fact that he smelled of sweat and oil and heat only underscored the need for a shower.  And made her lightheaded, but that was beside the point.  “It’s really very simple, Ms. Potts.  I know your secret.”

“My secret?” she asked, trying not show how flustered she was, sure he could see the rapid fire rhythm of her pulse at the base of her throat.  “I don’t have secrets, Mr. Stark.”  She lifted her Blackberry, determined to take control of this conversation back.  “The Board—”

His hand on her wrist stopped her cold, lodged the words firmly in her throat before they evaporated completely.  The touch was light, his thumb brushing the sensitive underside of her wrist while his fingers rested on top.  Breathing was suddenly difficult.

“Don’t lie.  You, Ms. Potts, are full of secrets.  For example, that dress the other night, your shoes—”

“My shoes?”  The words were fainter than she would have liked, the best she could muster under the circumstances.  She had the most insane urge to lean into him, and so of course, it was everything she could do not to jerk away.

“Your shoes,” he said firmly, and let go of her wrist. 

A breath of relief escaped her, until his hand moved from her arm, to her collar, tracing the edge of her lapel.  She should have worn the grey pinstripe; the collar was higher, more conservative.  The black Dior and crisp white undershirt she’d chosen, instead, allowed his fingers to skim so close to her skin, she had to lock her jaw together to avoid the complete humiliation of a whimper.

“I wonder, Pepper, what lies beneath this exterior of yours.”

Today, white Chantilly lace, matching, with garters. 

Not that she was telling him that, of course.  Besides, she doubted her choice in lingerie was what he’d meant.  Then again, a glance at his face, at the darkness brimming in his eyes as they followed the line his fingers were tracing, had her changing her mind.  Lingerie was probably exactly what he was thinking. 

Oh my God.  Panic clouded her mind; she couldn’t come up with a single thing to say, a single coolly phrased sentence to put him in his place and establish, once again, the ground rules that defined their relationship.  That had always defined their relationship. 

His eyes flicked back up to her face, just as his finger slipped, skimmed her collarbone for just a bare second, the warm friction of skin whispering over skin.  He leaned in, and she knew he meant to kiss her.  Tony was going to kiss her, like he almost had on that balcony, and words tumbled from her mouth without her having to think them.  She had no idea where they came from, for a second didn’t even know what she was saying.  Her mouth moved, and sounds emerged. 

Tony froze, poised only inches from her, so close the light from the arc generator in the center of his chest washed blue across her face.  She could feel the heat from his body, see the hard outline of his chest beneath a swipe of grease that moved from his shirt, to smear across one muscular bicep.  His nipples were hard under that thin, no longer entirely white cotton. 

Oh my God, she thought again.

“…and the Board needs to feel confident you’re going to hold everything together, or you’ll lose all of your backers and the company will plummet to bankruptcy.”  What was she saying?  Her brain had finally reengaged, and caught up with whatever words had spilled from her lips.  She paused, and Tony remained frozen, a faint frown creasing his brow.  “If your company goes bankrupt, Mr. Stark –” yes, she needed the separation of formality between them just now “—Iron Man loses his resources.”

For a long, suspended moment, Tony just stared into her eyes.  Then he moved away, his hand falling to his side as he picked up a towel and wiped at his fingers, then his arms and neck.  Pepper swallowed hard, her knees shaky beneath the impeccable line of her skirt, and resisted the urge to rub at the spot he’d touched.  Her skin still burned.

Ridiculous, Potts.  He barely touched you! 

Yes, thought a traitorous little voice, a demon, she was sure, perched right on her shoulder, just imagine what he could do with his hands really on you.

Not helping
, she thought back, annoyed, and hoped the flush in her cheeks had died down.

“Well,” said Tony, into the silence.  He tossed down the rag, and folded his arms across his chest as he looked at her.  “I guess I’d better shower.”

“That would be advisable, Mr. Stark,” she said, and tried unsuccessfully not to imagine him naked, under the multiple sprays of water she happened to know all of his showers sported, even the one down here.  She consulted her Blackberry, though she didn’t need to, while her cheeks burned anew.  “The Board will be live at twelve o’clock, New York time.”

“I promise to be upstairs, and properly dressed by eight fifty-five.”

Her smile was a little too bright.

“I’ll have the latest figures uploaded to your Blackberry,” she assured him, and turned on those stupid, indulgent spike heels to walk herself back up the stairs.


She paused, her right foot on the first stair, and angled back toward him.

“I’m sorry?”

He smiled that crooked smile, while his eyes laughed at her.

“In case you were wondering what’s under my exterior.  Absolutely nothing.”

He could have meant any number of things – that Tony Stark, billionaire genius playboy, really was as selfish and irreverent as most of the public perceived.  That beneath that charming smile and whimsical, fly-by-night persona was nothing deeper than a man in search of his next conquest or thrill. 

But that wasn’t what he meant at all, of course.  Pepper’s breath caught in her throat, and her mouth went dry.  She caught herself, pretended to misinterpret his words as she arched a disapproving and skeptical brow. 

“Well, that’s truly a shame,” she said.  “Of course, I don’t believe it’s true.”  She turned and marched smartly up the stairs without waiting for a response.  “The man who created that iron suit has a great deal more than nothing beneath his exterior.”

She didn’t stop at the top of the stairs.  She kept walking, all the way back to her office, where she could close the door and lean back against it.  She gulped air into her lungs until her pulse slowed to normal.


“Yes, Miss?”

“Is Mr. Stark watching this room?”

“No.  Mr. Stark has engaged the workshop’s shower facility.”


Pepper needed a moment.  She closed her eyes and took long, deep breaths.  She opened them again, slipped off her heels, and walked in her stockings over the carpet to her desk, where she buried her face in fragrant blue roses.  Their petals kissed her cheeks, soft and light like butterfly wings, while she inhaled their scent. 

They were beautiful, and extravagant, and she loved them.  She’d tried not to let them affect her, not to let him affect her.  But she had to admit, Tony had won this round.  And not because of the roses.

For the rest of the day, she wouldn’t stop thinking about Tony Stark, beneath his carefully tailored Armani suit, going commando. 

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Miss Crankypants: Iron Man Tony/Pepper Smoochiesaka_paloma on June 8th, 2008 06:17 am (UTC)
Nnggguhh! You wrote Iron Man fic. You wrote Tony/Pepper Iron Man fic. I don't know whether I love you more for writing this or gabby_silang for stumping you.

Once again, I find that the tension built up in your stories always makes me forget to breathe. You're really good at building the anticipation for whatever might be next.

“In case you were wondering what’s under my exterior. Absolutely nothing.”

And I sort of pathetically giggled loudly when I read that.

*sigh* That was great. I wish you'd write more Tony/Pepper but I totally understand that you've got your novel (and sequels) to work on. Thanks for this little bit you wrote. I really loved it.
rhienelleth: tony stark - mizkitrhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 06:40 am (UTC)
That Gabby! She knew what she was about with that line and then this request. ;) This pairing was only a matter of time for me, anyway. They've been whispering to me since I saw the movie. *sigh*

This helped, but there will have to more, once the novel is done.

Once again, I find that the tension built up in your stories always makes me forget to breathe. You're really good at building the anticipation for whatever might be next.

Thank you! ~ you say the very best things. :o) The tension is the most interesting part to me. Well, okay, so the actual smut is a pretty good payoff for all that tension, too. But I love recreating in words what I see (or imagine) one the screen.

Seriously, once le novel is finished, some nice, entertaining fic will be just the ticket...and I must ask, where did you get that fabulous icon?
(no subject) - aka_paloma on June 8th, 2008 07:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 07:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aka_paloma on June 8th, 2008 07:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ancarett on June 8th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rhienelleth on June 9th, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
"Connoisseurs of Difficulty": Girl Talkkistha on June 8th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
Hee-hee. Even though I haven't seen the movie, but I get the idea.

Favorite line: Not helping I can so hear it in my head!

rhienelleth: ironman look uprhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 06:44 am (UTC)
The icon! Heh. :)

Thanks, I hope this was a good escape for a few minutes. ;)

Yeah, and this wasn't too spoilery - the whole boss/assistant tension and angst thing is fairly obvious from reviews or casual talk about the f-list.

And I still can't wait for you to see this movie. :-)
S.: cb; it is all about the scruffartic_fox on June 8th, 2008 09:36 am (UTC)
Loved this very much. Your writing is beautiful! I hope you treat us to more fic in the future :)
rhienellethrhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I hope so, too. I enjoyed writing Pepper and Tony. :)
gabriellagabby_silang on June 8th, 2008 01:22 pm (UTC)

I love your definition of a drabble. And your PEPPER and her extravagant secrets and jesus, you took away his underpants and I LOVE IT and I have to go to WORK on a SUNDAY MORNING but there is nothing better I could have woken up to. Oh, hell. I really, really, really missed your fic.
rhienelleth: ironman look uprhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
LOL - I told you I suck at drabbles! I think it was mspooh who once asked me "You know a drabble's supposed to be around 100 words, right?"


I'm so pleased you liked it! You are my gold standard for this couple. :) And the lack of underpants was totally Tony's idea.

I'm sorry you're stuck going to work on a Sunday. :(

Edited at 2008-06-08 04:22 pm (UTC)
celli on June 8th, 2008 02:56 pm (UTC)
This is absolutely fantastic. nngh.
rhienelleth: deathsparkly - nosprinklesrhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks. :o)
The Famous Pepper Potts: T/P comiclady_s on June 8th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
That was really cute. I enjoyed it so much. Too bad they didn't kiss, though. ;)
rhienelleth: tony stark - mizkitrhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you! A kiss, well, Pepper wouldn't cooperate. Tony makes her too nervous. :) But there will be a kiss in their future...among other things.
(no subject) - lady_s on June 8th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lady_s on June 8th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Jena Bartleyjenab on June 8th, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
Very lovely and fantastic. I love the UST between Tony and Pepper
rhienelleth: ironman look uprhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :-)
amonitrateamonitrate on June 8th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
For the rest of the day, she wouldn’t stop thinking about Tony Stark, beneath his carefully tailored Armani suit, going commando.

Best last line ever!

Really, I enjoyed Pepper and how flustered Tony makes her. And yeah, I'd totally wonder what the flowers meant if I were her:)
rhienelleth: tony stark - mizkitrhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I think Tony enjoys flustering Pepper. ;-)
(no subject) - amonitrate on June 8th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
A work in progress: Smile Iron Man Pepper Skyancarett on June 8th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
I love, love, love this short story. Heck, if this is what comes of a drabble prompt for you, I'm in awe! Really wonderful sexual tension and great fun with the characters. Well done!
rhienelleth: ironman look uprhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
LOL - I so suck at drabbles! This is a longstanding truth. A thousand words is pretty much my minimum, and (as this story proves) often I can't even stick to that.

Thank you, I'm really glad you loved it. :-D
staarssstaarss on June 8th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
Ok, so I found myself yelling at my dog to leave my room as I read your fic--i didnt want to be disturbed! You are EXCELLENT as UST and building up tension...i can only imagine what you can do with bringing that tension to a conclusion--and trust me, i will imagine...have you written any other IRON MAN stories? or for any other fandoms? i would love to see what else you've done!

thanks for the inspiration to continue my UST-enhanced story!
rhienelleth: tony stark - mizkitrhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you thank you! Wow, what a compliment! :)

I haven't (yet) written any other Iron Man, but I'm pretty sure I will - all that UST needs a conclusion. (Plus, Tony will not rest until he's seen for himself what Pepper wears under all those suits.)

I've written fic in other fandoms - here, in my memories, and most of my Alias fic is here.
whochick: applaudwhochick on June 8th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
Beautiful, descriptive and hot. I hope you're planning on writing more, even if they're not consecutive chapters.
rhienelleth: ironman look uprhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :) I hope to. I've got another project I'm trying to finish, first, and then I'll be able to indulge in some more fic writing.
Elle: SCC Sarah Connorquiet_elle on June 8th, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
How much do i love this fic :D Its brillant my dear :) Could i possibly inquire to whether there might be anymore Iron Man fic coming from your direction in the forseeable future!
rhienellethrhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Once the novel is done, it's very likely. ;)
Waterdancerageofaquarius on June 8th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
I kinda love you. Is that okay? :-)
rhienelleth: tony stark - mizkitrhienelleth on June 8th, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
Aw, of course! :-)

I love that this fandom has some of the old Alias crowd in it, so very much!

I really should have known this ship would demand fic. Gabby is evil with her drabble requests, because now that I've written them once...yeah.

Oh, and on the Hulk front - yeah, I am so excited for, like, two minutes of cameo!
(no subject) - ageofaquarius on June 9th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
°°  £å  §âM¥  °°: RDJ * eyelashes!pornlasamy on June 8th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
oh....wow *_*

rhienelleth: tony stark - mizkitrhienelleth on June 9th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
abelard369: tonypepperabelard369 on June 8th, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
Awesomeness. So great. Would LOVE to read a sequel to this!!!! (insert whatever begging would be most effective with you here!)
rhienelleth: ironman look uprhienelleth on June 9th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
LOL -no begging necessary! I'll be writing one, after a finish a non-fic WIP I have currently going.

And thanks!