Pepper groaned slightly as she settled down in the hotel room, raising one hand to her forehead to rub at the skin there. She ached all over, and her heart was still racing - that was what a near death experience would do to you she supposed. She could still feel the sparks that had hit her as the car door had been torn in half in front of her, and her phone was ringing as yet another press agency demanded a statement. With trembling hands, she went to answer the call.
Natalie removed the phone from her fingers with startling efficiency, and smiled at her before shaking her head.
"Don't." The redhead said softly. "You've done enough for today Miss Potts..."
Pepper smiled at her, exhaustion threatening, and leaned out to gently brush her hand against Natalie's in silent thanks. She could never have got through the day without Natalie. Not only was the young woman from legal an amazingly efficient PA, and able to organise appointments, she had been fielding press enquiries, liasing with the police, and even keeping Stark calm initially. She had been the one to make the idiot change his clothes back to a suit before he had gone to the prison, and she had been the one to draft a brief initial statement to the press.
"Thank you Natalie." Pepper whispered. "You were... you did so well."
"Thank you." Natalie answered, and she was standing again, only now her hands were on Pepper's shoulders, skilfully easing away the tension. Pepper couldn't remember any mention of massage on her forms, but she couldn't bring herself to mind - this felt far too good to question. She relaxed against her, and then shivered as she felt Natalie brush her hair to one side and press a kiss to the back of her neck.
"You've had a stressful day. Let me look after you."
Pepper smiled a little, leaning back against her hands.
"Relax Miss Potts..." Gentle hands ran down her sides, and Pepper relaxed back against her, letting Natalie guide her over to the bed and then gently strip her, pressing kisses at her chest as she did so. Pepper heard herself moan as Natalie pulled her closer, stroking gentle fingers over her stomach and then down between her thighs.
She tried to pull Natalie’s shirt up, frowning when she saw a thick lump of scarring on her stomach. She reached out to touch it.
“What?” She breathed.
“Surgery.” Natalie answered, leaning in for another kiss.
Pepper shivered with anticipation, gasping softly as Natalie's head dipped to trace the path her fingers had stroked, and threw her head back, crying out towards the ceiling in sheer bliss.
The next morning, she woke slowly, wrapped in one of her night gowns. Some of Natalie's paperwork was resting on the pillow beside her, neatly filled in. The PA herself was nowhere to be found.
It was a few months later that Pepper got back to New York, her phone once again ringing off the hook after Tony's (and Tony's new team's) latest escapade - saving the world from aliens coming through a black hole. She made her way up to the living area of what remained of the newly opened Stark Tower, and raised an eyebrow. Tony was there, but he had apparently brought some friends. Including Natalie-not-Natalie.
She walked over straight towards her, as Tony looked up, and glared. The redhead raised an eyebrow, and Tony coughed.
"So, Pepper. This is the Avengers initiative. Captain America, Thor, Dr Banner, I don't need an introduction, I'm me and I'm amazing, the man in the corner is Barton, and Agent Romanoff I believe you know."
"Agent." Pepper answered, her lips pressed together in a thin line. Tony patted the sofa next to him, and Pepper sat down and rested her head against his shoulder as her eyes scanned across the room. Her eyes kept being drawn back to Natasha, sat there in a catsuit exuding a sense of control and confidence.
She barely noticed the man from the corner getting up until he limped in front of her, his eyes shadowed and skin pale.
"Pepper..." He murmured, looking her up and down. "So you're the CEO Nat wouldn't shut up about."
Pepper pressed her lips together into a warning line, but Barton was apparently too slow or too in pain to register it.
"She really likes you you know? Which is great, I haven't known her like someone for a long time. Long story really, and not mine to tell. But she rambles about you - Ow." He turned and glared at Agent Romanoff, who smiled at him brightly. He picked up the pen which had been thrown at him, and threw it back to her. She caught it, and put it down, then stood up and walked over to Pepper.
"Natasha." Pepper spat the word, glaring at her. Natasha just smiled slightly.
"Could we talk in private?" Natasha asked, resting a hand on her shoulder, then leading her away. Pepper followed, and once they were alone Natasha leaned in to kiss her.
Pepper opened her mouth to object, but a moment later she started to kiss back, her hands wrapping around Agent Romanoff's shoulders. It had been a long day, far too long, and far too frightening, and Agent Romanoff was offering a warm bed and a chance to relax. She didn't want to say no. Agent Romanoff's mouth was against her neck, and she pulled away only to show her to one of the bedrooms which had survived the fight. The kisses were urgent, frantic, simply relieved to exist after what could have been the end of the world, grips hard enough to bruise.
The next morning, Pepper woke up to an empty bed. On the pillow beside her this time was a chocolate, like a mint in a hotel room. Pepper rolled her eyes, but reached out to eat it before heading back to the living area and getting breakfast for herself.
After that, it settled into a routine of sorts. It wasn't every night, or even every month. Only when either one of them needed it. Natasha was gone every morning, and Pepper could never find the words to ask her to stay.
There was a knock on the door in the middle of the night when Agent Romanoff had been gone for two months, and Pepper opened it to find Natasha stood there with a black eye and a bruised lip. She looked pale, shaken, and Pepper welcomed her inside, reaching out to put a steadying hand on her arm.
"Are you alright?"
Natasha nodded quickly, leaning against her shoulder for a moment.
"Yes Miss Potts. Just thought I'd let you know I'm back."
"It's alright. Come in. Sit down."
Natasha made her way to Pepper's bed, sitting down on it and looking up at her.
"Do you need me to get Bruce?" Pepper asked, frowning. Natasha shook her head quickly.
"No." She answered firmly. "You can help me right now, he can't."
Pepper paused, sitting beside her and resting a hand on her shoulder.
"You can stay tonight if you need to."
"I don't." Natasha answered. "Just wanted to relax. Long mission. You help." The words were fragmented – she sounded almost out of breath, like she had been running.
Pepper opened her mouth to say something more, then spluttered as Natasha kissed her softly, fingers running through Pepper’s long hair. It took only a moment before she was kissing back, her hands running over Natasha's body, searching out to see where she was hurt - there were a few scrapes and bruises, but no new scars. Pepper was used to Natasha's missions by now, knew that if she was back in one piece it was far better than it could have been.
She guided Natasha back onto the bed, kissing down her, body hands brushing against the assassin's chest then sliding to her hips. She was aware of just how strong the agent was, how easily she could kill her if she chose, but there was a strange kind of safety in that. A knowledge that she could just surrender and let Natasha do what she wanted to. Natasha's fingers tangled in her hair, pushing Pepper down, and she moaned, kissing at her hips and then nipping at her thighs, before leaning in to lick between them. She shivered as she heard Natasha gasp, doubling her efforts as her hands caressed Natasha's chest. She felt the tension building inside her, the way Natasha's breaths came quicker and even the softest sounds fell away, before Natasha arched in perfect silence, orgasm sweeping through her.
Pepper made her way up beside her, cuddling close, as Natasha's fingers stroked down her body and dipped between her legs.
"Good to have you home."
"Good to be home."
A few minutes later, after Pepper had moaned herself hoarse, Natasha was gone.
The meeting had gone on for hours, and Pepper had never felt worse. She was used to the occasional snide comment, but today it had felt that her board, the people she worked with, were actively trying to tear her apart. The comments had gone from casual questions about if she could control Tony in any way, to hints that she was completely inadequate at what she did and should never have been allowed to take over.
Pepper had sat there throughout, continuing to calmly make her case, and argue down any criticism. After almost five hours the latest business plan was hashed out, close to what she had originally wanted, and she was shaking with exhaustion. It had not been an easy day. She shook hands with each board member in turn, managing to make herself smile. She thanked them for their input, and then when she was alone in the room she allowed herself to relax. She down into the chair and groaned, closing her eyes and burying her face in her hands. She breathed deeply. She would not let them tear this from her, and would not let them make her cry.
She tensed as a hand landed on her shoulder, worried that one of the board had returned and caught her in a moment of weakness.
Pepper let out a gasp she didn't know she had been holding in, turning and smiling at Natasha who was stood beside her wearing a hoodie and jeans. Natasha smirked at her, and Pepper couldn't help smiling at the sight of Natasha in casual clothing, looking quite so relaxed.
"I could kill them all for you if that would help?"
"I'd only have to arrange a new board." Pepper explained, a smile rising to her lips. "And the stock would dip. More trouble than it’s worth? I appreciate the offer though."
"You're welcome." Natasha was smiling as she said it, then she sat down on the desk, leaning in towards her. "What happened?"
"Just a bad meeting." She shrugged. "Nothing I can't handle, I promise."
There was a delay before Natasha nodded once, sharply.
"The door is locked. No one will disturb us, or know... would you like another massage?"
Pepper's mind drifted back to her first time with Natasha-then-Natalie, and nodded.
"I brought some new oil." Natasha explained, digging into a pocket and withdrawing a bottle. "Rose and lavender scented. I thought it might help a little."
Pepper nodded, glancing around the board room.
"This might not be the best place to do it." She pointed out. Natasha shrugged, a hand on her shoulder, carefully guiding her so that she was sitting side-on to her chair, and then moving Pepper's hands so that she took off her shirt.
Warm hands, slick with the massage oil, reached her shoulders. They stroked over the skin, teasing out soft noises, and Pepper allowed her eyes to close, shivering as Natasha massaged her back, before turning so that Natasha's hands could run across her front. Natasha straddled her lap, and smiled at her as she brushed her fingers against her chest.
"Relax." She murmured softly, leaning in to kiss her gently. Pepper obeyed, kissing back.
Steve was still in hospital. SHIELD had fallen. Pepper had been asked for a job by Maria Hill, and whilst she was delighted to have her on side, that more than anything else brought home just how much life was going to change. This was a new world. Hydra might not have brought about the new world order that they had hoped for, but they'd managed to destroy what had gone before.
When she heard the door to her bedroom open, she tensed. There were still Hydra supporters out there, far too many of them, and she was a relatively easy target. She turned to see Natasha stood in the doorway.
"Miss Potts." Natasha slunk into the room, her eyes a little dark, clouded.
"How are you?"
"I’ll survive." Natasha answered calmly, her hand resting on Pepper's arm.
"Tony said you blew all your covers in the data dump."
"I did a lot of things." Natasha replied. "And if you just want to talk about that I can leave."
"No." Pepper said, a little too quickly, giving Natasha's hand a gentle squeeze. "I want... we don't have to talk. Hill is joining Stark Industries you know. If you wanted?"
Natasha shook her head quickly.
"No. That wasn't why I came." Natasha leaned in and kissed her. "I came to see you."
Pepper paused for only a moment, before she started to kiss her back. Her hands ran over Natasha's shoulders, then pulled her closer, stroking her fingers gently across her spine. Natasha pulled away after a moment, shaking her head.
"Not like that. Not tonight."
Pepper hesitated but nodded, and kissed Natasha again, moving to push her back against the wall as she ran her hands down to Natasha's hips, kissing her again. She started to undress Natasha, unbuttoning her shirt. Her head found Natasha's neck, nipping at the skin there roughly, making the assassin gasp, head going back. Natasha reached up her hands to undo Pepper's shirt, smoothing her fingers over her chest.
Pepper pressed against her hands, running her fingers to Natasha's waist and undoing her jeans, easing them down.
Natasha nodded, mirroring the actions and pushing Pepper's underwear away.
Pepper's leg pressed between Natasha's own, rubbing up against her quickly. There was a loud gasp of pleasure from Natasha, which Pepper took as a sign to carry on.
Natasha moaned, then fell silent as she climaxed, gasping and panting for air, her fingers dipping between Pepper's legs until she shuddered in climax.
Pepper reached for her, guiding her into the bed. She rested a hand on Natasha's waist, and closed her eyes.
The next morning, she woke up slowly, certain that Natasha would no longer be there. It didn't matter how many times they had sex - Natasha didn't stay. It just wasn't her style.
As she opened her eyes, she found herself staring at soft red hair, Natasha's back facing towards her.
"Nat?" Pepper asked softly, not foolish enough to attempt to sneak up on Natasha. "You awake?"
Natasha's head bobbed slightly, and she moved to cuddle up against her, the curve of her ass fitting snugly against Pepper's hips. Pepper ran her fingertips over Natasha's side, not trying to startle her, and shushed her gently in an attempt to keep her relaxed. Natasha twisted and smiled at her shyly.
"Hey yourself." Pepper answered, gasping as Natasha leaned in to kiss her. This kiss was more gentle than she was used to, and Natasha turned to face her. She smiled sleepily, her fingers drawing patterns across Pepper's skin, before taking her hand to the lump of scarring Pepper had noticed the first time they had been together.
“He had to shoot me.” Natasha whispered. “We were close… he… he was like Clint was. It wasn’t his fault.” She shivered, and Pepper cuddled closer. “And now SHIELD has gone…I’ve lost the only home I ever felt safe in.”
“You have a home at the tower. And if you’d like, you have a place with me.” Pepper murmured, blushing faintly. Natasha nodded, looking into her eyes and managing a soft smile.
“You are beautiful.” Pepper whispered, stroking over the scar.
"You're beautiful too." Natasha murmured.
"Thank you?" Pepper responded cautiously, not wanting to break the sense of trust that was between them. She slowly began to relax, her hands stroking Natasha's hair, murmuring softly.
Before, it had always been about release. It had been simple. She was a CEO, and Natasha was a spy. There wasn't space in their life for tenderness, for intimacy. What happened between them worked because they both needed a chance for release, and this gave them that. It was nothing more complicated.
Only now Natasha was kissing her gently, sucking on her bottom lip and then guiding her tongue into Pepper's mouth, and things were a lot more complicated. Natasha was gasping now, moaning, and letting out soft noises of pleasure. It was intoxicating, and Pepper kept up the gentle touches, aiming for more. She kissed gently at Natasha's neck as she eased her legs apart, stroking her fingers gently between them. There was no hurry this time, no frantic rush to orgasm, just tender kisses and curious hands mapping each other’s bodies. The world had changed, and this was a new start.