More often than not Pepper was alone.
In the old days, as Tony's assistant he was always off somewhere doing something or someone. She put in a lot of hours but only a fraction of them were with Tony. In reality she worked alone - at the office, at the house, on flights and in hotels. Tony worked alone or partied and Pepper – Pepper worked alone and slept alone.
When she become CEO it only changed when Natalie come on board as Tony’s assistant. Her own assistants, Bambi ad Rolph worked almost normal hours. She did her share and was a responsible CEO, so they didn't have to work the hours she had all those years for Tony. She was still alone though, which she found harder to bear. For some reason, she had assumed once she was out from under Tony's influence everything would be different and she would have those opportunities to find new friends and relationships but it wasn't that easy.
Of course it wasn't.
Then Natalie came along and started working for Tony much like she had and Pepper still had to chase him around like a child and she found she wasn't on her own all the time. Wasn't alone all the time.
At first it was hard; she felt awkward, forgot some of her manners, didn't know how to act. Natalie never seemed to take offence when Pepper ignored her, or snapped or forgot to offer her coffee. She just got her own coffee, waited patiently for an apology. Prodded Pepper to remember to include her. She wasn't always nice, or smiling, or even willing to give Pepper a second chance, but mostly she was good to Pepper.
Which made Pepper feel worse when she treated her badly. Especially when her continued presence made her feel so good.
After a while she got used to it, she remembered Natalie's coffee preference, started to include her in everything. Even started to talk to her about her life outside of work, what little there was – though Natalie was extremely cagey about that. Pepper wondered if she had a life outside of Tony now or if she just didn't trust her enough to share. It was nice though, and she felt relaxed for the first time in years.
She smiled as Natalie's curt voice reminded herself once again she wasn't alone. She gave a small smile in return, then handed her a file and took another in return.
It was the first time the younger woman had asked her that and she nodded in reply.
“Just not used to having company while I work.”
“Me neither,” Natalie said, face steadfast. “What about Tony?”
“He wasn't around as much as you'd think,” Pepper said, “that would've meant actually working.”
Natalie chuckled, and sat on the sofa next to her.
I had noticed,” she said.
“It's nice though,” Pepper continued, looking back at her laptop and away from the younger woman.
Natalie shifted closer to her on the sofa, and Pepper kept her eyes on her work, the words of the report starting to blur a little.
“It's been a long few days.
Natalie chuckled again, a deep pretty sound that had Pepper looking up again to see the other woman looking at her, carefully examining her face. She blushed and tried not to turn away under her gaze, and took the moment to look over Natalie's face. She was much paler than Pepper had initially thought. Lips were redder despite the pale pink lipstick frosting them. Her eyes were darker, her hair curlier.
“I meant the loneliness,” Natalie said.
She went to deny it for a second; she had friends, had dates, but the reality of it was bleaker than she would've liked. She was tired. So horribly tired but she loved her work, always had, and would always work through the loneliness until it faded and she was happier again.
“So am I,” Natalie said softly.
She leaned forward and kissed Pepper on the lips. She froze for a moment as Natalie's warmth took over her she was pulled into her embrace and kissed her back, forgetting the laptop, the coffee, the files and folders.
She turned her entire body towards Natalie's and kissed her back, unsure what to do with her hands except hold herself up right and digging her fingers into the fabric of the sofa. Natalie's hands were on her thighs, just resting on the fabric of her suit trousers. Her lips were as soft as they looked, Pepper decided, and she tasted sweeter than she could have ever imagined. They kissed for a long minute, lips gently pressing against hers and this - this is what she had needed for so long. When they needed to breathe Pepper pulled away, Natalie's hands running down to her knees and remaining there as they breathed hard.
“Ms. Rushman,” she gasped.
Natalie laughed, that sweet deep sound again and Pepper blushed under the flush already staining her pale cheeks.
“Really?” she said.
“Sorry,” she hesitated. “I – Natalie.”
“Better,” she smiled and kissed her again, “Pepper.”
“This is a -”
“Not a bad idea,” Natalie finished for her.
“No, no, it's a bad time maybe. A bad place.”
She looked pointedly around Tony's living room, and over to the door leading down to his workshop.
“We could go somewhere,” Natalie said, taking Pepper's hand. “Your place, my place, another room.”
Pepper smiled and pulled her hand away.
“I'll hold you to that Ms. Potts,” Natalie said, kissing her deeply but briefly, leaving Pepper breathless again.
She certainly hoped so.
Suddenly a few days had passed and everything had changed again and she still felt the same. Again. She was pretty sure being CEO would kill her, Tony was dying but now not any more and Natalie – Natalie wasn't from legal.
That was the easiest bit to deal with somehow.
On the flight back to California, the young woman accompanied her and, while Tony slept his injuries off in the plane's bedroom, the two of them sat opposite each other in silence for a little while as Pepper figured out what to say to her. She assumed Natalie was doing the same. It was nice to have her on board though,
Is your name even Natalie?” she blurted.
“And, everything else. Was it a lie?”
She stood and crossed the small space between them in a moment, and leaned over and kissed Pepper on the lips until they were both gasping, Natasha pressed her forehead against for a second.
“What about the loneliness?” Pepper asked, trying to catch her breath. “I need to know.”
Natasha moved to straddle Pepper's lap in the big beige chair, smiling at her. She cupped her face and stroking her cheek with a warm thumb, the skin rough against hers.
“I wasn't lying about that.” She said, kissing her again. “Don't quit. Stark needs you as CEO.”
“I know,” she said quietly. “What about you? Where will you go after this?” she asked.
“Wherever I'm told,” Natasha said, kissing her again. “I'm here now though.”
Pepper smiled, blushing hard when Natasha settled further onto her lap, pulling Pepper's hands onto her hips, running her own into the light red hair. Pepper stroked the black leather of her jacket underneath her fingers, over the curve of her denim clad hips. Natasha kissed her again, demanding everything from her with strong lips against her and the flick of her tongue over hers as she opened up to her without a moment's hesitation. She let the younger woman lead her through it, let her move her hands beneath her black top and onto the soft skin of her waist. Pepper listened to her sigh and followed the sound down her throat with her lips, feeling more confident with every moment.
Pepper didn't really know what she was doing, for the first time in a very long time but the loneliness that had plagued her for so long was gone and there was a warmth spreading through her that she hadn't felt in even longer. She followed her instinct, listening to the little noises Natasha made as she started to strip her clothes from her fit body. Soon there was more skin to explore, soft and pale and hot.
Kissing the hot space between Natasha's breasts, she suddenly found herself on her on back, the chair reclined all the way the other woman looking down at her and grinning.
“How did you do that?”
“Trade secret,” Natasha said, with a laugh, that laugh, the one that now had Pepper's stomach doing flip flops.
Without another word she stripped Pepper of her blouse and bra, pausing to look over her body before leaning down and taking a nipple into her mouth to swirl her tongue around it.
“What if, oh, what if Tony wakes up?” she hissed.
“Stark's taken enough sedatives, painkillers and alcohol to knock him out through an orgy,” Natasha said, hot breath over her nipple, making her moan again. Pepper laughed, breathy and shuddering under Natasha's body.
She slipped down onto her knees at Pepper's feet, running her hands up her legs until she came to the edge of her black pencil skirt, running her fingertips under it.
“Tease,” Pepper said, looking down at her.
“Oh you have no idea Ms Potts,” Natasha said, slowly pushing the skirt up her thighs. When she came to the edges of Pepper's thigh high stockings she paused to run her fingers over the warm skin. “Oh,” she murmured, pushing the skirt up higher forcing Pepper to lift her bottom up a little until it was around her waist and Natasha could see everything.
“You have freckles on your thighs.”
“I have freckles everywhere,” Pepper said, blushing hard.
“I like them. You're beautiful,” she told, avoiding eye contact for a second, and Pepper wasn't sure what to make of that, but when Natasha looked back, the redhead smiled at her, sincere and breathtaking. The arousal in the pit of her belly grew and shifted forward in her seat to get closer to Natasha and her rough fingertips, trying to vocalise some of her own feelings about the other woman.
“Want something Pepper?” Natasha asked, smirking, pushing her legs apart a little. Pepper wanted to resist but she felt the control of her body slipping away more and more the closer Natasha got to her centre.
“I don't know what I want,” she moaned as fingers inched further up her thighs, brushing lightly over the lace edges of her underwear.
“That's okay,” she said, pressing her fingers against the woman's centre until she made a deep keening sound that echoed around the little room. “I know what you want.” Pepper closed her eyes and helped Natasha remove the damp navy cotton and lace, listening to them drop to floor and forgetting them the moment she felt the other woman's tongue sweep over her centre.
“Oh God,” she cried, “Natasha.”
The other woman didn't reply, she simply pressed her tongue harder against the wetness, finding Pepper's clit and sucking hard onto it. She twisted in the beige chair, pushing her hips up and following the movements of Natasha's lips and tongue. The young woman was filling a deep need in Pepper, a need to sweat and scream and find solace in another human being that she hadn't had in so long.
She jumped when she felt hands touching her again, a strong hand firmly on her hip, pressing into her skin and fingers spreading the wetness around her centre for a moment before she felt the other woman's hesitation.
“Please, Natasha,” she whimpered, “I need you.”
She felt the press and push of fingers at her entrance, and dropped her head back onto the leather as more pleasure took over her body, one hand holding too tight onto the arm of the chair, the other finding Natasha's hair on instinct, twirling her fingers through the soft dark red curls as Natasha pushed a single finger deep into her body. Pepper couldn't help the squeal of pleasure as and her entire body tightened in pleasure. She tried to hold onto the ends of Natasha's curls as she pulled back from between her legs to look up at her.
“Was that you?”
“What?” she panted.
“That noise?” Natasha was grinning at her again, face tense as she tried not laugh out loud. She pulled her finger out, slowly, and pressed two back into.
Pepper squealed again.
“That was amazing Pepper.”
“I – I can't help it.”
She sat back on her heels and began a slow rhythm in and out of Pepper's hot body, watching carefully as she reacted to every little movement – white knuckles holding on her chair, biting down on her bottom lip until it was red, eyes fluttering closed and mouth open. She felt Natasha pulling at a hand, lacing their fingers together as she pressed two of her own deep inside her. She was on fire, unable to stop the same little squeals and deeper moans escape her with every in and out, with every curl and stroke.
“I can't-” she uttered, not exactly sure what she was trying to say at first as the pleasure built up and Natasha's head dipped down again to flick her tongue over her clit once more. “Can't do this.”
“You can Pepper, you can,” she whispered in returned, squeezing the hand she was holding, pressing a third finger into her tight body, following the rhythm Pepper herself was setting with her hips.
Pepper felt the pleasure spike, and her oragasm hit hard as Natasha kissed her lightly on the lips, thumb pressing down on her clit, her whole body shaking. She wanted to cry, felt her eyes burning but the tears didn't come and she tried to catch her breath as her orgasm made her curl up against Natasha. She held her close, feeling fingers pulled gently from her body as her muscles still contracted around them and then strong arms wrapping around her. She spread her partially clothed body over Pepper's holding her as she continued to shake.
“I don't know what's wrong,” she mumbled, through harsh breaths, hiding her face in Natasha's chest.
“It's okay Pepper,” Natasha said, “I'm here now.”
They lay like that for sometime, until she calmed again and the cool air of the jet's air conditioning started to cool the sweat on her skin. She shivered a little and Natasha climbed off her, standing up in her jeans and bra, smiling still, her own face flushed red from arousal. Natasha urged her out of her skirt, soothing her palms down Pepper's thighs as she did so, laying the garment carefully onto the other chair. She grabbed a blanket from the little compartment in the room and, after crawling back onto the large chair with her, spread the blanket over the both of them. It was wonderfully intimate, as much as the orgasm, and Pepper wasn't sure how to handle it.
“Better?” Natasha asked.
“Yes, thank you.”
She leaned forward and kissed her on the lips, hands roaming down Natasha's side, the other woman putting her hand down to still her caress.
“Get some sleep Pepper,” she said, “It'll be a while before you're home.”
“But what about...what about you?”
Natasha smiled at her, sweet and almost sleepy, before kissing her on the forehead and settling onto the chair with her.
“I'm here now. I'll be here later.”
She closed her eyes, and Pepper relaxed next to her, realising that was as close to a promise of a future as she was going to get.
She didn't mind. The loneliness had gone.