The first time, it's merely convenience. Jane and Tony have been arguing fiercely, the which spectacle Thor watches whenever he can. Jane's eyes flash with lightning of her own and he can taste electricity in her kisses after. Pepper ignores them both, focused only on stirring milk into her coffee while Thor sits next to her on the counter. Tony has glided over to his table to pull up figures from the air and prove his point, so only Thor sees when Jane pulls a marker out of her pocket, and then looks around, her lovely forehead wrinkling like linen.
"Paper?" she asks Pepper, who reaches for a paper towel, but Tony has, of course, overheard.
"Oh, that's adorable," he says. "Also completely environmentally unfriendly, I'd just like to point out, as the soul-sucking corporate monster who's also the only person in this room to have built a totally green skyscraper."
"Soul-sucking?" Thor repeats, jumping to his feet.
"Okay, that's even more adorable. It's a metaphor, my magnificent walking blond joke. Foster, it's very sweet that you're trying to acclimate him with Dark Age tech, but you've gotta draw the line somewhere. I don't think the academy will accept theorems in edda form."
"I'm really glad you never wear a shirt," Jane tells Thor, ignoring Tony.
"Me too," Pepper says, catching Jane's eye and grinning behind her coffee cup.
"Me three," Tony says. He walks away from his glittering work long enough to reach for one of the mugs on the counter, and Pepper slaps his wrist and hands it to Thor instead.
"No, stay still," Jane sighs, putting her hands on his waist and guiding him, turning him to face Pepper across the counter and scribbling on his back. "Pepper, keep him still, please."
"Stay still, Thor," Pepper says mildly, as Thor bites down laughter.
"It tickles," is his only comment, and finally, Jane is done.
"See?" she says.
"Well, okay, I'll give you points for presentation," Tony says after a moment. "You may be onto something here, Foster. More science should be presented on demi-gods' asses."
"Refill?" Pepper asks. Thor, indeed, has already drained his cup, and he hands it over to her gratefully.
The second time, Pepper is gilding her toes with sparkling paint. Thor, sitting down next to her on the couch when she asks for his help with one of her hands, assumes the bottle's size owes to its being gold, but Pepper laughs and tells him it was ten dollars from Target. There is nothing about this sentence that makes sense to him, but her tone speaks of insignificance.
"Yeah," Tony says, as he and Jane wander in, pausing in their arguing for a moment. "Which is basically a crime, because I think at this point we can both afford real gold for your toenails. Or the God of Thunder over here can bring you some from the Planet of Bling." Thor looks up to gauge Jane's face, to guess whether she might be willing to use the pause to make an escape with him, but she's still glowering at Tony as she leans over Thor, pulling her marker out, and sets to scribbling the runes of her own language, the glyphs that only she and Tony can make sense of, on his back.
"Stay still," she just hisses at him, when he hands the bottle back to Pepper, and then he hears her straighten as she finishes, and grins at the look on her face as she beams triumphantly at Tony.
Tony says nothing, and Jane's smile grows like the rising sun. Tony takes the marker from her hand, brushes Pepper's hair off of her back --
"No," Pepper says, though the thin straps of her top leave enough space for a bit of work. She doesn't look up from Thor's toes.
Tony's sigh is a weary one, and he leans over to scribble on Thor's skin instead. His hand is nearly as quick as Jane's, but his larger fingers splay out differently. Thor notes the feel of it as he does the wind and the sun, without surprise or concern. Pepper looks up for a moment then, not to Tony but to Thor, who's not entirely certain what she's looking for in his face, and so offers her a smile in place of anything else. She smiles back, her silent question answered, though Thor still doesn't know precisely what it was, and is still smiling as she returns to his bare feet.
The third time, Pepper allows Tony to catch hold of her arm during dinner, perhaps because she and Thor are three verses into one of his favorite drinking songs, her lovely face flushed with wine and laughter as she stumbles over the words. Thor is laughing too, because of course that's the point of all the bubbling B's and slithering S's, all the sounds that cluster together.
"I'm screwing it up," she says. This is unusual for her, but she's laughing so hard that he never worries that she might give up.
"No, you see, that's the point!" Thor tells her, encouraging her to keep on. Meanwhile Jane and Tony are racing one another with words and numbers, in harmony for once, and the only protest either Thor or Pepper makes is to glower at Tony when he reaches for the arm in which Pepper has her wineglass.
She doesn't even need Thor's instruction by the end, is only a heartbeat behind him in draining her cup, then throwing it hard to the floor. Tony and Jane jump, which only causes Pepper and Thor's laughter to come in a heavier torrent than ever, hard as any storm. They end with their foreheads pressed together, and only when Pepper puts a hand against Thor's chest does he remember that Jane and Tony -- in need of more room to work, of course -- demanded his shirt's removal a few verses back.
He hears Tony and Jane go still and silent, but doesn't look to them, because under Pepper's heavy lids is something like that other question.
"Well, that's one way to broach the subject," Tony finally says. "Yeah, we sort of had an ulterior motive in dinner, guys, probably should've mentioned that..."
Pepper laughs again, her eyes falling closed, leaning closer, to rest her forehead against Thor's. From the corner of his eye, he can see as Jane, careful as she can be, takes hold of Pepper's arm, crosses out something Tony wrote at the very beginning of the debate, and then presses a kiss against her palm. Pepper shivers, which Thor more than understands, having experienced the same kiss before and knowing full well its effect. Indeed, given Pepper's smaller size, her relative weakness compared to Thor, it's a wonder she doesn't shake to pieces with it. Tony hums a thoughtful, hungry little sound.
"That's completely ridiculous," he whispers, but his tone is oceans away from the light, easy arguing. As one, Pepper and Thor turn to watch as he leans down, takes the marker from Jane, sets it on the table, and kisses her ferociously.
The fourth time is the very next morning, all of them sprawled on the bedroom floor. Jane and Tony's whispering, and the delicious smell of coffee, rouses Thor, but he's then ordered to lie back down, to stay on his stomach while Jane and Tony try to reconstruct their work on his back. Pepper, the sweat-wrecked work of last night already re-traced on her arm, smiles down at him, and tugs his head into her lap, letting him rest his chin on her thighs and drink from her mug. She pets him absently, smoothing his hair, and the smell of her, dried sweat and warm sweet sex, mingles with that of the coffee. Thor's stomach yowls like a jungle cat, and they both laugh.
"You know, if you're hungry," Tony begins. There's some joke here that Thor doesn't grasp, because Jane makes an exasperated little sound and Pepper rolls her eyes, but he's used to this feeling, and enjoys the chokes of laughter when he says that in fact, he really is. Pepper looks down at him, her face red, and she seems to understand that Thor's encouraging them in their joke, smiles and runs her hand through his hair and spreads her legs a little further apart. He understands the meaning now, and joins the laughter, sliding a hand under Pepper's knees and pressing a kiss against the creamy freckled skin of her thigh, enjoying the way her giggle catches just the slightest bit.
"That's not gonna help with keeping him still," Jane complains.
Tony's voice is mild, as well, but there's something more to his interest. "Please. Head and neck. With that glorious Samsonian mane, we're not using them much anyway. I think you're just grasping at straws so I don't blow your equations out of the water. In which case, speaking of straws, by which I mean things you put in your mouth and suck, and/or of blowing -- "
Jane snorts, her breath warm on Thor's skin as she leans in close and traces something just over his kidney. Tony is getting closer as well, their fingertips grazing Thor's back as the marker changes hands. He feels himself hardening -- maybe it's the touches, or maybe it's the thought of Jane's mouth around Tony. The latter seems especially likely, because it seems to have the same effect on Pepper; her scent is stronger; her sex, beside his cheek, grows warmer. Her hand tightens in his hair, and the way she presses, just a little, against the back of his head, is confirmation enough.
"You'll see," Jane says mildly, and Thor laughs a little at her voice, a laugh that turns into a merry growl as Pepper draws her legs apart, and he can press his mouth to her at last. Pepper makes a similar noise, half laugh and half delighted yelp, and he feels the marker in Tony's hand jump, feels a streak glide halfway down to his ribs. There's stillness from Jane and Tony, for once, and then wet fingers rubbing out the streak, sliding further down his spine and making him shiver. Their hair and skin and breath tickle him as they kiss, pillowed on his back and their own work, so that he's gasping out laughter, too, when he can bring himself to pull away from Pepper long enough to breathe.
The fifth time, Thor and Pepper are making sandwiches when Tony and Jane storm in, shouting at one another. Jane is flushed, and Tony's eyes are dark, and they appear to have concluded already that the pause is only momentary, will last only long enough for them to look at Thor expectantly. In fairness to them, however, he promptly reaches for his shirt. As though she can hear the little thought in his mind that it would have been nice to eat his sandwich first, Pepper puts her hands out and catches his before he can do more than grasp the hem.
"We were making sandwiches," she says. Her voice is cross, and only Thor, working across the counter, is near enough to notice the way her mouth shivers with laughter. She winks at him, then trains her features still stonier before turning and plucking the marker out of Jane's hand. Tony and Jane hover there beside them, gaping like fish in the air. Pepper is much better at this than Thor, but she hasn't steered him wrong yet, so he does his best to follow her lead and keep his own face blank as well, releasing his shirt and reaching for the lunch meats again. Once he's stuffed several slices into his mouth, it's easier to hide his smile.
At last, Tony reaches for a bit of ham from the mountain on Thor's unfinished sandwich, and Pepper springs, grabbing his wrist as a snake grabs a mouse. She doesn't look at Tony, doesn't look up at all, ducking her head so that only Thor, looking at her across the counter, can see the grin on her face, sheltered by the curtain of her hair.
She works hard to smooth her face out; his senses so much more than humans', Thor can almost hear the muscles in her face as she pushes them. Looking up, she tugs on Tony's wrist, just hard enough that he stumbles a little closer, and she has the smooth inside of his forearm before her. "Thor, sweetie," she says, laughter a-simmer in her voice, "has anyone showed you how to play Hangman?"