The freckles on Pepper's face might be covered with very expensive foundation that matches her skin tone almost exactly, but her arms and shoulders are bare, hair twisted up in some ridiculous smooth style that makes her look like an old-time movie star. He can see the spray of freckles on the nape of her neck, an elongated swirl like an arm of the Milky Way, and another brief line of them on her shoulder blade, like Orion's belt.
Tony shifts his martini from one hand to the other, fingers slightly cold and damp from condensation, and slips into the space beside her, trailing the tip of his index finger over Orion's belt, territory he'd like to explore someday, though it's never not going to be a bad idea.
She shivers almost imperceptibly at the touch--if he weren't still touching her with the tips of his fingers, light as a feather, he'd never know it--and takes a sip of her drink.
He steps up, fills in the pause in the conversation before it can turn awkward, smiles blandly at the guy who's checking out Pepper's cleavage. Tony checks it out himself, half-smile on his face, and guides Pepper away with the touch of his hand on the small of her back, enjoying the feel of her skin against his.
"Does it matter if I offend that guy?"
"Okay, then." He shrugs. "Unless it was something personal?" He raises a suggestive eyebrow.
"No," she says again, on a huff of laughter this time. She raises her glass to her lips, but it's empty. He offers his without comment, and she sips it delicately, leaves no ring of lipstick around the glass. Shame, that.
He leaves her then--she can fend for herself easily enough, probably better without him hovering, making her aware of things she pretends not to be aware of. He watches, though, when she thinks he's chatting up a swimsuit model whose name he can't recall. She's smiling at something one of the Senator's aides is saying, her head tilted gracefully and her lipstick as perfect as it was when they left the house. When she catches him looking, the smile widens as if she's sharing some private joke with him. He grins back, one eyebrow raised.
Later, when the car pulls up in front of her apartment to drop her off, he reaches out, rubs his thumb over the smooth arch of her cheekbone.
"Mr. Stark." Her voice is breathless, laughing beneath the reproving tone.
He wrinkles his nose at the faint smudge of foundation on the pad of his thumb. "I like your freckles."
It's too dim to see whether she flushes, but she fumbles for the door handle. "I--Thank you."
He grins; he always enjoys flustering her. "See you in the morning?"
"Bright and early," she answers briskly, all business now. "You have a conference call at eight thirty."
He huffs in exasperation. "All work and no play--"
"You'll never be a dull boy," she says, as Happy opens the door for her.
She turns back, one foot already on the sidewalk. "Mr. Stark?"
"Have a good night."
She smiles. "You, too."
The door closes behind her and he sits back against the leather seat with a sigh, rubbing away the faint tinge of makeup between his thumb and his index finger.
In the morning, she greets him with a cup of coffee and a smile, freckles clearly visible on her face.