His ear was sore. Tony blinked his eyes open, staring at the ceiling, and tried to figure out what was the last thing he remembered-. Ah. He’d hauled himself up from S.H.I.E.L.D. medical after he’d promised to sleep off the mild concussion he’d received after being bounced off a building or two, courtesy of the rogue mecha the Avengers had collectively destroyed. He must have been so deep into sleep he hadn’t felt…
Gingerly, Tony got up, pausing to make sure he wasn’t going to hurl, pass out, or fall down. Equilibrium established, Tony stood and reached up to touch his ear. A small bolt of metal, with what felt like a jewel mounted on one end, was punched through his right earlobe. The wound was fresh, and when he pulled his hand back, there was a faint smell of disinfectant on his fingertips. His heart speeding up as a thrill of excitement mingled with the warmth of contentment, Tony walked to the full length mirror and look a close look at himself to see what had changed. A ruby stud mounted in gold twinkled from his right ear, clearly visible even in the dimmer lights of the bedroom.
Tony stared at it for a long time. A slightly worryingly long length of time. Possibly even what some would consider a narcissistic amount of time. He finally unbuttoned his shirt and bared himself to the waist, the better to see the elegant blue and red pinstripes that covered over the palladium discoloration and swooped over and around the arc reactor, washed over his ribs, over his pecs, diving over his shoulders and then back around to plunge below his beltline to far more interesting places. Some of the lines were particularly crisp, others just a tiny bit blurred, showing they’d been there for a while.
He’d been wondering when Pepper was going to leave her mark again, but the stud… He touched it again, swallowing at the slight thrill of pain. Everyone would be able to see this. Everyone could see him wearing Pepper’s colors. He smirked at the thought that everyone would assume he was just wearing Iron Man colors. Never. He wore the gold of Pepper’s eyelashes and her favorite shade of red lipstick. Hers. That had always been a source of pride for him and amusement for them both, that he flew around as a superhero sporting his Dom’s colors, like a medieval knight submitting his honor to his lady. But now everyone would be able to see it even out of the armor.
It was a change, a visible one. A public one. Insanely gorgeous.
“Tell me,” Pepper had commanded, when Tony had brought out his list.
“I want to wake up to something good.” It had been so easy to say with her hand on his head, bent over his workbench, hands idle as she’d demanded his full attention. Easy as putting his heart in her hands.
Pepper had hugged him then, the arc reactor pressed against her, and understood. The Ten Rings had caused it, Yinsen hadn’t asked to save his life and change him, and Pepper understood why. He needed to know the next time he woke up changed, it would be something he’d be all right with, under Pepper’s loving direction. And she took that direction in places sometimes he never suspected.
Pepper stood in the doorway, her high heels giving her several inches on him. She smiled when she saw him staring at himself, and gestured subtly. Tony moved to face her, hands relaxed at his sides, feet planted solidly, waiting for her to look him over. She circled him once, reaching out the trace the pinstripes, making goosebumps erupt on his skin. She paused and touched the stud, and Tony drew in a sharp breath. That was too good, too much, so solid and freeing at the same time. He was like she wanted him, and her smile let him know she approved of what she saw.
“That looks very tasteful, Mr. Stark.”
“I’ve got a killer personal shopper, Miss Potts.”
“Of course.” Pepper traced his earlobe for several long, torturous minutes, sending shivers of pleasure up and down Tony’s spine as he stood in easy acceptance, making it a part of him with every satisfied caress of her fingers. Finally she dropped her hands to his bare chest again, and drew up his shirt, buttoning the slightly-wrinkled garment and smoothing it over his body. “Very good.”
Tony let a harder shudder rock him as she gave his ear a final tug, and stared into Pepper’s eyes.
Pepper smiled and touched his temple, letting Tony relax and kiss her gently, the ruby catching the light between them.