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every man's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed girl

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"So, this just in," Clint says, dropping from a vent in the kitchen ceiling. It doesn't even make Tony bat an eyelash anymore. "Natasha's going as Fury to the party."

That, however, makes Tony choke on his coffee. "What?"

"Yup. Badass, right? The baby agents will die," Clint predicts confidently as he boosts himself up onto the worktop, feet propped up on the table.

Tony groans. "Why are there going to be baby agents at my party? And when did it become fancy dress?"

"Because baby agents need love too."

"You spend too much time with Agent Android."

All Clint says is "Huh."

Tony rolls his eyes because whatever fucking platonic soul bond those two are kidding the world (and possibly themselves) they have going on, Tony knows dumbfuck in love when he sees it.

"Also, because fancy dress is never not awesome," Clint says.

Tony isn't going to grace that with an actual comment. "Yeah? Who're you going as?"

Clint scratches his head. "Can I borrow a suit?"

"Iron Man or Armani? Because either way, no."

Clint flips him off and then tilts his head back, talking to the ceiling in that weird habit they've all picked up from Steve and Thor. "JARVIS? Can you hook me up with like, a lot of green body paint?"

Tony snickers into his coffee mug. "You're an ass, Barton."

"What about you, then?"

Tony shrugs expansively and then perks up and taps his reactor. "Naked, man! I can be a flashlight."

"Nobody wants to see your naked flashlight, Stark," Coulson says from behind them, and Tony totally doesn't jump half a foot off the couch.

"Damn it, Agent. What have we talked about? I'm gonna get you a bell!"

"Oh, I strongly encourage you to try. Agent Barton. Walk with me."

Is that like, propositioning in Coulson-speak? Tony's kind of dying to know and kind of never ever wants to know at the same time. Because if bureaucracy makes more than one of his team mates pop wood, then Tony is seriously concerned. Also, Coulson says stuff like that to Clint a lot. So. Anyway. Whatever.

Idly, Tony pulls out a tablet and sends off an email to all of the team, plus Coulson, and Pepper, because well, tight leather is always a possibility and Tony never claimed not to be an opportunist.

re: Avengers Assemble (in each other's clothing)

Okay some asshole has made this into fancy dress and I hate everything about this idea. New rule: we're all going as each other. Natasha, you are excused because you are a flawless queen. On a totally unrelated note, it's been nice knowing you.

Iron Man out.

Job done. This might actually make the eyeball-melting hell that is fancy dress bearable.

*

Dressed in a quality but really depressingly boring suit (but oh it will be so worth it later), the first thing Tony does is scan the room for the rest of the team, making sure nobody's punked out on the deal.

Clint is not dressed as jolly green. Clint is an asshole in tight gold pants and an even tighter red shirt like some kind of disco-nightmare-acid-flashback Iron Man. Coulson is – predictably, if a little unsettlingly when Clint's costume is taken into consideration – Cap. Obviously he was never going to give up an opportunity to don that particular outfit. Tony's eyes almost pop out of his head though when he realises Coulson has Steve's shield. His actual don't-touch-that-Tony-I'm-serious-it's-my-modern-world-security-blanket-hands-off-please shield. So fucking unfair. Thor is...jesus, Thor is very green and very nearly pantsless, and Bruce, cracking up at the sight of him is... Bruce is Tony's total favourite and Tony makes a mental note to shake his hand ASAP, because Bruce is in tight, sleeveless black with a toy bow and arrow and a couple of fluffy white wings on his back. Steve takes a bit more working out, because the Captain America-ness pretty much bleeds out of him, but he's wearing a pastel shirt under a lab coat and, okay, definitely Bruce.

This is great. Tony has the best ideas.

Or maybe the second best, because there's Natasha, and she is, she really is wearing a long leather coat and an eyepatch and a big gun. He can't help giving her a quick salute when he catches her eye over the tops of his mirror shades, because damn, that takes a serious set of balls. It's not like Fury's gonna turn up (Tony's pretty sure the world would end if Fury ever partied) but since SHIELD is basically just a particularly well equipped gossip machine, he's gotta know by now.

Leaving aside the fancy dress element and the fucking baby agents circulating and making Tony twitch, it's shaping up to be a pretty awesome night. Beautiful people in admittedly dumbass costumes, drinking and dancing and flirting and where is Pepper? It is completely not okay for her to leave him hanging while she dresses in the outfit she's been resolutely refusing to let him have a sneak peek at.

Still, the opportunities for people watching are kinda interesting. If it didn't hurt his eyeballs just to look in Clint's direction, he'd be passing the time trying to figure out exactly what is going on with the solicitous way he brings Coulson drinks and then steals them back again when he's thirsty. Instead, Tony settles for checking out Darcy's ongoing, extremely forthright and looking-increasingly-like-it-might-just-be-effective campaign to bone Captain America. She's dressed as a zombie and it's – okay, Tony's just going to say it, it's working for her. Very Tim Burton chic. She's all up in Steve's grill and for once Steve doesn't look like he just got handed a grenade with no pin.

It's kinda cute, really. Still no Pepper though, and Tony snags himself a drink and lets himself be dragged into conversation with someone he only vaguely recognises from a briefing or a meeting or somewhere, Christ, the coffee shop for all he knows. There's a whoop of laughter from behind him and Tony turns to see Jane practically hanging off Thor's arm as he whirls her, her Rubik's cube (Tony does not even want to know) costume already liberally smeared with green paint.

These crazy kids, he thinks, with a fond grin, trying to refocus on what the agent-slash-barista-slash-HR guy is saying. But then he gets this little tingle of awareness, looks around and...oh...dear...god.

It's not like Pepper doesn't rock a pants suit with alarmingly sexy regularity, but this... It's flashier than she usually goes for, gun metal grey with a faint sheen, just enough to keep it classy, the double breasted jacket offset by the rich red shirt and a flash of gold cufflinks and oh, holy shit, Pepper is amazing.

" – so then I told him that – " Tony rambles on on autopilot for a couple of seconds and then just gives up. "Ohhh my god. Gotta split. Excuse me."

He doesn't so much weave through the crowd towards her as he does barge. Other people kind of cease to exist when Pepper does stuff like this. The unabashedly masculine cut of the suit is incredibly sexy, doing wonders for her already lean figure. The jacket and the peaked lapels make her shoulders look wider. Even the cap toe shoes are perfect, exuding just as much sex appeal as her six inch time-to-kick-some-corporate-ass stilettos.

Tony's mouth doesn't know whether to make words or just full-on salivate at first, but then he catches himself and blurts, "Pepper, oh my god. You – are you me? Are you being me?"

"Correct," she says, smoothing down her jacket. The movement draws Tony's attention to her – his, actually – tie. She once tied his hands together behind his back with that tie. Wow. Wow. Pepper is terrible and devious and Tony loves her best of all.

"You look sharp," Tony says, pulling his shades down low on his nose to admire the cut of the suit. "No wonder you're attracted to me."

She lets that pass with just a raised eyebrow and says, "I thought about giving myself an eyeliner goatee." She reaches forward to scrub her fingers over his beard. "I figured you'd smudge it, though."

"Uh huh. Very probably. You mind? I just gotta – "

"Oh, be my guest," she says, as he pulls the shades all the way off and leans in to kiss her.

"Jesus, babe."

"And who are you supposed to be?" she asks when he moves back.

"Isn't it obvious?" Tony asks, gesturing at his thoroughly nondescript suit and twirling the mirror shades. "I'm Agent! Look, I even have the, ah – the mini Hawkeye action figure in my pocket, check it out." He dances little two inch high Clint down the sleeve of her jacket. "Plus! Best bit!" He leans closer to whisper, only to have his thoughts neatly knocked off track. "Is that – are you wearing my aftershave?"

"Yes, I am."

"Hm." It doesn't smell like that on him. Tony doesn't think it does, anyway. If it does, Pepper has a shit load more self control than Tony because it smells like 'jump me now'. "That, uh. What? What were you saying?"

"I wasn't, you were. The best part?"

"Oh! Right!" Tony lowers his voice, wants to hug himself at the sight of the smile on her face. "I totally have a Captain America t-shirt on under the shirt. So I'm waiting for the right moment to like – " he mimes ripping his shirt open.

"Oh, god," she says, but she's smiling and he leans in to kiss her again, touching the collar of the suit, the neat knot of the tie.

"Where'd you get this made? I need the number, seriously, Pepper, this is one fine suit."

She laughs quietly and promises to put him in touch with the tailor. He is absolutely gonna get a suit just like this made for himself, and he's pretty sure wearing it will never not be a turn on after this.

"Hey," Tony says, before any of the weird and wonderful sights on display can capture her attention too much. "Would you care to dance, Ms. Potts?"

"Certainly," she says, formal but with that same bright little smile he loves so much.

Five minutes in, he realises she's leading, looks at her in her crisp suit and blurts out, "You know, I'm not sure if this is narcissistic or just kinda kinky."

Her laugh is so beautiful as she throws her head back and tells him, "Tony, with you, it's usually both."

He decides to take that as a compliment.