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1. peppermint stick

“Genetically engineered perfection.” Pepper held her hands out in front of her to gesture at an invisible point on the table. “Literally. Maybe the aesthetics weren’t what they had in mind, but the whole evolutionary good provider thing follows right behind it, you know?”

Natasha swirled the straw in her lemonade. “Well, sure, but he’s got more going for him than the biceps and the insane shoulder-to-waist ratio. Even for me, and I don’t exactly go for the clean-cut God and country type anyway.” She took a long sip. “If Howard Stark had those baby blues in a syringe somewhere, Tony would be selling it on QVC by now.”

Pepper smirked. “True enough. And the whole chivalry thing is incredibly hot. The naivete, maybe not so much, but he catches on awfully quickly.” She sat back, considering. “And a little mysterious, you know? You know he’d never kiss and tell, and it’s like... yeah, good Christian boy in the forties, on the one hand; but on the other -- Army, chorus girls, a country full of women whose boys are off to war. So maybe he’s an adorable fumbling virgin, oooorrr...”

“Or maybe not.” Natasha smiled, amused. “We already know the Army taught him to curse.”

Pepper’s eyebrows lifted. “When did we learn this?”

“Tony was trying to talk him through restarting a generator somewhere during that HYDRA mess in Alsace. He declared it a ‘cocksucking spitfuck’ and raised questions of its parentage.” She sipped at her drink again. “And to answer your next question, it was exactly as hot as it sounds.”

 

~*~

 

2. fistful of red hots

“Wouldn’t know.”

Pepper’s brow furrowed. “Really? I mean -- I hadn’t meant to assume, but... well, I kind of did.”

Natasha laughed. “Lots of people do. And, I mean, sure, once or twice, but mainly just out of boredom. I used to have too much sex as a matter of work to care much about it for pleasure, and he’s...” She ate the last bite of her ice cream, considering her choice of words. “In want of neither drive nor willing partners.”

Pepper folded her arms. “I think the word you’re looking for is ‘slutty’, Agent Romanoff.”

Natasha smothered a grin. “You said it, not me.” She dropped her spoon into her empty bowl. “It’s funny... I still have problems with being touched unexpectedly. Everyone at SHIELD is as hair-trigger as you can get. But he just -- you see him. He just hugs everybody.”

“He hugged me the second time I met him.” Pepper smiled fondly.

“Exactly. If anything, he’s gotten more touchy-feely with more time in the field. But he’s never done anything else conventionally, either.” Natasha stretched her arms over her head. “He sleeps with people like he’d go bowling with them. Just as a pastime. No hang-ups, no emotional involvement, just... I’m hot, you’re hot, let’s get it on. Upfront, honest, polite and skilled. Can’t ask for much more in a one-night stand.”

“But you do admit he’s hot.”

“I think the phrase you’re looking for is ‘have a pulse,’ Miss Potts.”

 

~*~

 

3. licorice twist

Pepper downed the last half of her sangria in one long gulp. “So do we start with the hammer puns, or save them for last?”

“Honestly, Pepper. We’re grown women. We are far too sophisticated for such lowbrow pursuits.” Natasha poured herself another glass. “Now, hitting that like the fist of an angry god, on the other hand...”

 

~*~

 

4. pop rocks and pepsi

“He’s magnetic, I’ll give him that.” Natasha kicked her feet up onto the penthouse balcony, hands wrapped protectively around a warm cappuccino. “I’ve got every reason in the book to hate him, but I can’t seem to do it.”

Pepper smiled softly. “He’s a lot simpler than he looks. He's terrible at expressing emotions, so he throws money at things instead."

"I guess it makes sense that way." Natasha smirked. "I don't suppose the ADD is any fun in the bedroom, though."

Pepper grinned widely in response. "Oh, you'd be surprised. He's always doing three things at once in his head, but sex is at least usually top priority." She sipped her coffee slowly. "And it makes him an excellent multitasker."

Natasha snorted, struggling not to laugh. "And if his mouth is half as skilled at anything else as it is at talking, I'm surprised you get anything done."

"Oh, it's the hands. Definitely the hands. He's been welding together microchips since puberty, for God's sake. You've seen him work."

Natasha spent a long few moments considering that, and the look on her face sent Pepper into a fit of giggles.

 

~*~

 

5. candied ginger

"It's always the quiet ones, right?" Pepper drizzled a spoonful of cherries and syrup over her second slice of cheesecake. "Studious, unassuming, kind of disheveled looking... I mean, he wore a brand new Prada tux to a company function last month and he still looked kind of homeless."

"Not surprised." Natasha grinned, scraping some leftover graham cracker crumbs off her plate with her fork. “He’s got the whole Clark Kent nerdy professor thing going on. I think if he walked past NYU he’d come home with six hipster undergrads humping his leg.”

“I think it’s the whole intellectual thing.” Pepper took a small bite. “They say the brain is the biggest sex organ. He’s so thoughtful and deliberate about everything else...”

Natasha leaned back, gesturing with her fork. “I can tell you personally about having that kind of control of your body. You can see it in his face -- he knows exactly where all his extremities are at every moment. It’s mentally exhausting to learn, but it becomes second nature with time. He’s not quite there yet.”

“But he’s such a little hippie.” Pepper leaned back. “The meditation and yoga and teas I can only pronounce half of...”

Natasha raised her fork again. “Excellent taste in tea, though. I’ve snooped.”

Pepper frowned. “It might all be theoretical anyway. Wasn’t heart rate part of the whole...” She gestured vaguely.

“Initially, yes. Involuntary transformations were triggered at around 200 beats per minute, although it’s much more controlled now. I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t the case anymore.”

“And a normal heart rate during sex is...”

“130 to 160, depending.” Natasha put her plate down. “Although that can be controlled with practice. Like you said, yoga, meditation...” A pause. “...tantra, if you’re ambitious...”

They polished off the rest of the cheesecake in complete silence.