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Maria goes straight to Tony's labs when she gets back after getting the Sokovian refugees as settled as possible for the moment. Fury's still trying to figure out somewhere for them to go. He'd wanted her to stay and help, but she'd said, "I came when you asked," and he'd only stared at her for a moment before nodding and sighing, shooing her off with one hand.

She goes straight to Tony's labs and she stands outside them, waiting for him to let her in. She's pretty sure she could sweet talk FRIDAY into letting her inside, but she wants it—needs it—to be Tony's choice.

She stands at parade rest outside the windows for the better part of three hours before he gives in, and even then, she's almost certain it's just because he wants to leave at some point, and is smart enough to know she will sleep on her feet before she walks away. He opens with, "What, their health insurance not a sure enough thing for you?"

"Look at me, Tony," she says.

He laughs, short and sharp and mean. "You realize what we did was just a game, right? It was not real. You are not, nor were you ever, in any way, shape, or form, my superior."

She doesn't miss the pointed use of past tense, nor does she bother to hide her sigh. "It wasn't meant as an order."

Tony pretends he didn't hear, despite her speaking at the exact same volume. Instead, he goes on. "Oh, and by the way? You're fired."

Showing fear is usually a quick way to lose an argument, but she isn't sure she's interested in winning this one, so much as ending it. "Pepper has to sign off on that."

"You think she won't pick me over you?" He turns then, looks at her, and she almost wishes he hadn't.

Wishing has never gotten her anywhere, though, so she ignores that part of her. "I didn't pick them over you, Tony. I didn't—this wasn't a competition. We weren't even on different sides. Fuck, you could have just told Fury no."

"And you would have just stayed? Like a good little employee?"

"Of course not." She rolls her eyes. "I would have stolen one of the company jets to come and fight with you. You obviously needed as many hands as you could get."

For the first time since she's walked in the door—the first time since she started watching him through the windows—Tony stills.

She softens her voice. "What we do isn't real for a million reasons, Tony, but none of them have to do with who's in charge and who's not. It has to do with the way we simplify everything, we create a fake set of rules that only exists within the boundaries of the game. It makes everything finite and clear and that's not the way things work outside of those very safe moments."

There's a silence between them then that is neither awkward nor comfortable. It's too complex, too thick for either of those things. Finally, Tony says, "Then I want to make a new rule."

Maria takes a slow breath. She knows this isn't victory, not yet. "What rule?"

"Next time we play, you're mine." His voice is low and intent and almost…feral. It's the only word that comes to her mind, even after moments of thinking.

"You want me to sub?" she asks.

"Unwilling?" he asks, a taunt.

She changes the question. "You want to dom?"

He shifts, a little less certain of that answer. She takes a step toward him. "We have safewords, Tony. We negotiate a scene and I'm fine doing my best to go down for you, but only if it's because you really want that from me. Not as a form of revenge. If that's what this is, I'll tell Pepper I resigned and walk out that door and never bother you again."

He closes his eyes, closes her out. When he opens them again, he takes a step toward her. There's still space between them, but she appreciates the gesture. He says, "I need this—that. I need that from you. Need to…"

She aches to reach out to him. She doesn't. Instead she tells him, "My dad was a jerk. Grade A dickhead. But he taught me how to play chess. Taught me the rules and some of my first moves and the strategy behind making a plan. Later, when I went into the Marines, I figured out that while a game may be just a game, how we play tells us a lot about ourselves, about who we are, how we think."

"Yes," Tony says, barely a whisper, but steady, sure.

"Okay," she says. "Okay."

*


Even if Maria's number one rule when domming wasn't "don't dish out anything you can't take," which means she's tried everything she's ever done to someone else, she didn't hatch out of the BDSM womb as a domme. No, when she'd first gone looking, partly due to a lover at the time, and partly out of sheer curiosity, the idea of being rewarded for service had been intoxicating.

It took years—and the prompting of a partner who liked to switch—for Maria to consider dominating, let alone actually begin doing it. Once she had, she found that the promise of control, complete control, in parameters that allowed it to be safe, was her absolute favorite drug, even more so than giving everything up.

Not that that means the thought of surrender isn't occasionally seductive. With Tony and Pepper, the thought alone makes her want to get on her knees then and there. It's been a long time since she's been with someone who knew her, really knew who she is, and what she does.

They negotiate, of course they do. Maria marks her own sub sheet, carefully categorizing her dos and don'ts, her shoulds and shouldn'ts. Tony looks over the list with dark eyes. His surprise is obvious when he says, "That's a lot of room to maneuver."

She smiles at him. "I like going a long way down."

*


Maria comes to them on the night they've arranged, anticipation humming in her veins. She knows it's foolish—she may be Pepper's and Tony's, but they're certainly not hers, not for keeps—but it feels like this shifts something. Like she just might get to hold on longer than she's used to after tonight. It's the most she's had in a while, maybe the most she expects to ever have. And Maria is good at working with what she's got.

She's in jeans and a t-shirt, nothing else. She doesn't want getting naked to be complicated, not tonight. When she shows, Tony's fully buttoned up in a dark, three piece suit, the kind he wears to testify in front of congress, or otherwise make a splash. It's an obvious concession to her kink for being naked while whomever is topping her is fully clothed, and her heart beats just a little faster, a little harder.

Maria just about swallows her own tongue when Pepper comes around the corner in professional layers of her own. Pepper smiles, pretending not to notice. "You're early."

Maria finds enough air to say, "Wanted to make a good impression."

Tony seems to fidget for a moment before reigning in on the extra energy and saying, "Words?"

"Stars, glock, sword."

He nods. "Take off your clothes."

The order is curt, but it doesn't make Maria any less shivery inside. She answers up, "Yes, sir," and strips off the shirt, steps out of the pants, folding them and setting them to the side. She folds to her knees then, not liking the feel of standing anymore. They'll tell her to get up if that's how they want her.

Pepper walks over, the muted steps of her heels against the plush carpeting the only sound in the room. She comes behind Maria and wraps a blindfold over her face. It's one of the kinds made for playing these games, nothing gets through it, not the barest sliver of light. Pepper asks, "Can you see anything?"

Maria murmurs, "No, ma'am."

Pepper runs one manicured finger along the vertebrae in Maria's neck, then steps away. Tony's hands are what she feels next, as he maneuvers her into different positions, allowing Pepper to tie and loop and knot her ropes. It's nothing too fancy. Maria's elbows are locked to each other, her legs tied so that they are bent double. They place her on her knees, her legs splayed wide.

Nothing fancy, but it will take perseverance to hold without crying off. The thought licks warmly at the base of Maria's spine. She likes showing off.

A crop hits her thigh, but not hard and not quite angled right, almost like…almost like Pepper is holding Tony's hand, guiding him. The thought has her taking a quick breath. It doesn't even matter if it's what's really happening. The image alone would make her squirm if Tony didn't pick that moment to say, "Stay still."

"Yes, sir."

"And no coming until I say."

Maria could help the, "No kidding?" that comes out of her mouth if she wanted to. She doesn't want to.

The crop comes down on the sole of her left foot, and her breath spikes, but she doesn't yelp. Pepper asks, "I'm sorry, what was that?"

"Yes sir," Maria answers. The crop slides gently along the line of her shoulders.

Tony's a quick learner. The next few hits are awkward, pulled short, but after that he finds his rhythm and staying still gets more challenging, which only makes Maria dig in harder. She's lost in the concentration of it, the deep lull of focus when she's tilted forward, Pepper's long fingers tilting her face so that when she's positioned on her knees and shoulders, it's her cheek to the floor, not a full faceplant. The movement is disorienting, sudden.

It doesn't take long for her to just sink back into the space of stay still, the otherwise quiet that spreads through her mind, as Tony's callused hands dig into one or two of the marks on her thighs. Because she's not thinking ahead—not thinking, really—she doesn't expect the feel of cotton wool against the marks, the sudden, thick slide of Tony's cock into her. She moans a little, her body drawing tight from the shock of it.

Tony's hand comes down on her ass, setting off sparks from the marks already there. "What was the rule?"

"Stay still, sir," she has to concentrate to form the words. The "sir," gets slurred when Pepper sticks a finger in her mouth. Maria sucks, half out of instinct. Pepper pets her hair.

Tony reaches down and draws a finger over her clit and she swallows harshly around Pepper's fingers. Tony makes an "ah ah ah," sound at her, and Maria takes a deep breath through her nose, concentrating in order not to bite down on Pepper's fingers.

Tony draws out with the same suddenness that he plunged in, and Maria doesn't even hear the flogger before she feels the impact over her vagina, heavy and intense. She groans and arches without even meaning to. Pepper takes her fingers away, raking her nails over Maria's exposed left torso. "You know better. Stay still."

Maria manages a, "Yes ma'am," but needs the rest of her focus not to jump from the hits, or, alternately, curve up into them. She's not sure what she wants anymore, only that it doesn't matter. What matters is staying still.

She misses when, exactly, the flogging stops. With no sight, everything is sensation, the beating of her heart, the occasional caress of Pepper's hands, the heat of forming bruises. She's far enough down, though, that when the first drop of wax falls onto her spine, she doesn't move, just makes a noise, low in her throat.

It's Tony who whispers, "Well done," carding a hand through her hair, which means Pepper's handling the candle. Maria pulls up a shaky, "Yes, sir," and lets herself sink further, to where the pain is everything and nothing, her body simply a tool to be maneuvered for their purposes.

At some point they turn her over and undo the bonds on her legs. She does cry out when they pull her legs straight—each of them massaging one, the pins and needles as intense, if not more so, as the wax—and more widespread. She doesn't move.

Pepper kisses the insole of her foot, and Tony picks her up. She basically falls into him, her arms still tied, her sense of direction and awareness off. He says, "I've got you," and she murmurs, "Yessir."

He sets her on the bed, Pepper's hands at her shoulders, steadying her. There's some shuffling and then she's pulled against Tony's chest. Pepper must kneel in front of her, because her lips brush over Maria's. It takes everything Maria has not to follow them, but she hasn't been told she can move.

There's no warning before something cold, too cold, really, presses into her nipples and she bucks slightly in shock. Tony smacks her clit, and asks, "Rule?"

"S-still," Maria stutters. "Stay still, sir."

He caresses her clit at that, and she whimpers, overly sensitive and well beyond the place where she wants anything for herself. Tony splays his hand over her stomach. The cold drips—ice cubes, then—down her breasts. Tony says, "Close your eyes."

"Yes, sir," she says, even as she follows the order. She feels the blindfold lift, but she keeps them closed. The ice goes away, and Maria has the vague sense that something's being wiped over her right nipple, but it's numbed enough that she's not sure.

Pepper says, "Open your eyes."

Maria blinks them open, glad the light in the room is dimmed. Her eyes catch quickly on the glint of the needle in Pepper's hand. She glances up at Pepper, who holds her gaze and says, "Use your word for slow-down, and we don't do this, we just go onto whatever's next. There are a million ways we can mark you as ours, ways that will wash off easily."

Maria feels the heat of Tony's hand, heavy on her stomach. He's still fully dressed behind her, even zipped up at this point, and she is warm in his grasp. Marking has always been one of Maria's favorite things, by bruise or by pen or even the raking of nails. The word, ours floats around in her mind, and she sighs, "Stars, ma'am."

Tony's fingers dig ever so slightly into her, and Pepper watches her for a moment before saying, "Take a deep breath in, one, two, three, four." She pinches the nipple tightly with a pair of clamps and says, "And exhale."

Maria's barely begun to let the air go when the needle pushes through. The cold is wearing off, and the pressure-punch of it is definitely biting, but she keeps herself still. Tony tips her chin up and kisses her deep and frenzied as Pepper cleans her up, slipping the barbell through and fastening the ends.

Maria does not miss it when the ice comes back, onto her other nipple. Tony pulls off, and Pepper puts the hand not holding the ice to Maria's jaw. "One more? One for him," Pepper brushes a finger lightly over where the ends of the barbell shine gold, ruby studs peeking out from each end, "and one for me?"

Maria anchors herself in them, the feel of them surrounding her, and says, "Stars, ma'am."

The second time is harder, most of her adrenaline having drained off, but she holds herself still and Tony whispers in her ear about how gorgeous she is, how strong and perfect. He pushes her forward to where Pepper holds her upright. She glances down at the second barbell, titanium with sapphires. She's shivering, and she knows that's against the rules.

She starts to apologize, but Pepper kisses her quiet, lifts her up and Tony takes her from behind. It's been awhile since she's done anal, but he's slow this time, careful with her. Pepper unzips her skirt to give herself some more mobility, and tosses aside her panties so as to slip in her favorite strap-less strap-on.

She and Tony work to keep Maria's breasts from being touched, even as they set up a rhythm, both of them pulling out almost all the way and driving back in, slow and complete, down to the hilt. Maria stays as still as is humanly possible, but Tony is telling her how pleased he is with her, and Pepper keeps doing this thing with her hips, and both of them are still at least half-clothed, surrounding her, holding her. She doesn't realize she's crying until she finds herself gasping out a, "Please, please, sir. Ma'am," and Pepper wipes at a tear.

Tony mumbles, "Any time, any time you can."

It takes one more hitch of Pepper's hips, one more hit of Tony's breath cresting over her ear lobe and she's coming untouched, sobbing and panting. She rolls with everything that happens afterward, only slightly aware of Tony coming, his hands holding her arms with a bruising grip, Pepper licking a line half way up Maria's sternum, kissing her, deep and wet, as she comes.

Maria comes back, a little, as they untie her arms, working out the cramps and the numbness. Tony cradles her, rocking her gently as he carries her to the bathroom, where Pepper has run a lukewarm bath, complete with Epsom salt and lavender oil. Pepper gets her to swallow some Tylenol and drink a bottle of water before they put her in the bath, Tony shampooing her hair while Pepper soaps down her body, seeing to her nipples with baby soap.

Pepper disappears again while Tony helps Maria dry off. She's settling a little, if still floaty. He carries her to the bed, despite the fact that she could make it on her own by this time. Pepper comes in moments later with a breakfast tray. Maria tries to reach for the glass of orange juice, but Pepper just sets her hand aside and proceeds to feed her. She starts with the orange juice, then a few bites of the peanut butter and toast, and some of the grapes. She goes slowly, but doesn't stop until Maria has finished what she's brought.

By that time, Maria can barely keep her eyes open. She's a little chilled and must be shaking, because Tony pulls her down and wraps the sheets and comforter over her. He curls up behind her. Pepper sets the tray on the floor before climbing in, lying as close to Maria as she can without pressing on her breasts.

Tony has FRIDAY darken the room. In the blackness, he caresses Maria's hip and tells her quietly, "You don't have to leave them in, of course. You can take them out now, if you want."

"Nosir," she responds, too sleepy for this conversation, but one hundred percent certain of what she wants.

He smiles against the skin of her neck, kissing her. "We're not in the scene anymore."

"Nope," she mumbles. "But y're still m'boss."

His breath falters for a moment. It's enough to keep her awake. He kisses her again, this one not as confident, and says, "Unless I want you to be mine, sometimes."

"Unl'ss that," she agrees. He might say something else, but she wouldn't know. She's too warm and safe and comfortable and asleep.


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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile