Chapter 1: Shoeboxes
The gym is nice; Tony’s a big fan of the gym where Cap likes to work out. Whatever SHIELD employee got the job of building an old fashioned gym for them to confine Captain America to did their job right, the gym smells right, just the right kind of floor polish to mingle with the scent of sweaty guys working out, all the equipment is vintage and in excellent condition. Well, the equipment Rogers hasn’t been let loose on. When Tony feels like examining things he can see where chains were replaced, where bags were split, where floor boards were punctured or something snapped. Tony doesn’t bother looking around much, it’s more than a little depressing to consider the cage that SHIELD has built to hold their all-star American hero.
“Hey, wingnut!” Sometimes Tony want to pitch stuff at Cap’s head, paperballs, pens, whatever was on hand at the time, just anything to ruffle Cap’s picture perfect hair and maybe irritate him a little. It’s not like he hasn’t seen Cap annoyed, Tony manages to get under Rogers’ skin most of the time, but he’s yet to see Rogers really loosen up. That’s one reason behind tonight’s group outing.
That and they’d saved the world. Any bar still standing should comp their drinks, and hey if the bar feels like being dicks, Tony can pay.
“Mister Stark?” And oooh doesn’t it give him shivers to hear Rogers call him that? Barf, no, it makes him want to ask ‘did you call my father that?’ and also possibly to smack Rogers upside the head. “Did you need something?”
Rogers is a little sweaty, a little, but not to the point that he’s going to need a shower. Tony’s grateful, they’d all showered after the giant life changing world saving battle, why Cap had felt the need to go work out after that Tony had no idea. “What I need is for you to get your patriotic rear end,” because god forbid he say ass around Rogers, “in gear! We’ve got a schedule to keep, chop chop.”
Rogers is looking at him with earnest baby blues and really, Stark has no idea how the guy hasn’t been blown by half of SHIELD at this point. Or maybe he has been and that’s the reason the guy’s brain seems to have dripped out of his ears. Well fine, Tony could speak Tarzan as well as anyone else.
“Me,” Stark pointed at himself. “You.” He pointed at Rogers then he made a vague motion towards the door, “The team. Out on the town.”
Rogers continues to stare at him in confusion before looking down at himself. He’s dressed in a tight little white t-shirt and a pair of sweat pants. God, it’s like he’s posing for some sort of patriotic pin up calendar.
“Hello, am I getting through to you?” Tony walks over to Cap and reaches up to knock rapidly on Rogers’ head, or he would if Rogers didn’t grab his wrist in one of those meat locker sized hands of his. “Let’s get this show on the road, Rogers!”
“I-”Rogers paused and then nodded. “Alright, I just need to get changed…”
Which meant being subjected to Rogers’ idea of fashionable. There was only so much khaki and plaid that Tony could take! But for a night out on the town and a chance to see if Rogers’ offhand comment to Barton (‘I can’t get drunk’) really was true. “Alright, winghead, now let go, will you? I don’t hold hands till you buy me dinner.”
Steve’s grip disappeared immediately and he flushed, all pink cheeks and earnest farm boy charm, Rogers wasn’t even from a farm, it didn’t stop the charm though. “I’ll just go…” Rogers shuffled, it was almost teeth rottingly sweet.
“Yeah, yeah, change. I’ll walk you to your rooms so you don’t try to weasel out.”
Rogers gives him a look, and okay like Rogers would ever weasel out of anything, but Tony isn’t about to back down now, not after he’s said he was going to stalk Rogers back to his rooms like some sort of deranged fanboy. They don’t make conversation as they walk, Tony doesn’t really have anything more to say (shocking isn’t it) and Rogers apparently isn’t the idle conversation type, the hallways of SHIELD aren’t really the place for chit-chat anyway, the walls are too clean, the floor too shiny. Everything is strikingly clinical, how they’d intended to convince Rogers he was living in the same decade when he would have had to walk through these hallways to get to the gym is beyond him. They take a few turns through featureless hallways and eventually Rogers’ stops outside of a door, it looks like every other door in the hall.
“This one’s mine.” Cap presses his hand to the black handprint reader next to the door and the metallic block hisses and then retracts into the wall. Pretty showy, that, Tony is unimpressed. “I’ll just...”
Tony stares in horror at the inside of Rogers’ room.
“This is where you-” the room is stark, clinical, just like the featureless hallways and every other bit of SHIELD’s headquarters that Tony has seen. He can’t say ‘live’ because this isn’t the kind of place where you ‘live’ it’s the type of quarters where you… where you sleep the bare minimum of time required and then flee. Maybe this is why Rogers’ was spending time in the gym, this is ridiculous. The walls are bare and white and hard, Tony doubts you could get a thumbtack through them if you wanted to. The mattress is about as thin as the Black Widow’s waist and looks about as hard as her abs as well, Rogers probably doesn’t need blankets but Tony almost breaks in hives just at the sight of the scratchy ones that he’s been issued. There is a desk along one wall, and the room is barely big enough for it, which appears vaguely homey only because of the books stacked on it and the papers kept down under a cup full of pens. “This is where they have you sleeping?”
Rogers glanced around the room like he was seeing it for the first time but when he looked back at Tony he still appeared confused. Tony might be coming from a privileged background but still, still, the room was the size of a shoebox. Pepper had closets big enough than that!
“Oh hey, you found him.”
Fuck, they needed to put a bell on Barton when he was off duty. Tony turns to find not only Barton but also Romanoff standing behind him (need to bell her too), Barton’s smirking and Romanoff’s lips have a subtle sort of turn to them. She’s probably laughing at him internally or whatever it is she does when she doesn’t want anyone to see that she has actual emotions. On Natalie he’d wanted to crack that ice on Natasha it makes him want to cover his balls.
“He wasn’t hard to find.” Rogers has slipped into his room and closed the door which left Tony to make small talk with Romanoff and Barton in the hallway. Well, small talk he could do. “Have you seen his room?”
Barton wrapped an arm around Romanoff’s shoulders, she elbowed him sharply in the ribs and he stumbled to the side. He didn’t stop smirking though. “Oh yeah, nice, right? Bigger than mine. SHIELD broke out all the stops for Cap.”
“It’s actually supposed to fit two.” Romanoff stated, apparently taking pity on Tony or so her tone would imply. “But Steve is very important to the Avenger’s initiative.” She idly punched Barton in the shoulder when he looked ready to wrap his arm around her waist.
“He’s about as big as two guys anyway.” Barton rubbed at his recently punched shoulder. “You figured out where we’re going?”
“Uh…” He must have missed the memo about every day at SHEILD being like this, or maybe the memo about not being tag teamed by the Black Widow and Hawkeye (little did he know that there actually was a memo out about that). “I haven’t decided yet.”
“We’d rather ride our bikes than crawl into your limo.” Romanoff wrapped an arm around Barton’s waist and tugged him along. “Text Clint the address.”
Which left Tony blinking at one sanitized wall in confusion until his line of sight was broken by Banner stepping out of his own room. Banner looked presentable, at least, nice pants and a shirt that was neither purple no plaid. It was still a button-up but Banner was probably glad to be provided with buttoned shirts after a year or two on the run. “Oh, you’re still here.” Banner was nervous around him which, okay, was understandable. “Have you figured out where we’re headed?”
“Nowhere crowded.” Tony had made that decision hours ago shortly after he’d made the decision to drag the whole team drinking. Crowded was out, extremely loud or filled with strobe lights was also out, that just left Tony with classy. Steve would probably appreciate a nice classy place better than the kind of loud dance bar Tony had loved during his wild phase anyway. “I’ve got an idea. You live here too?”
Banner glanced back at the little room he called ‘home’ and shrugged. “Until SHIELD picked me up I was a fugitive, Mister Stark, and it’s not like it would be a good idea for me to commute.”
Yeah, Tony could see the problem with that.
“You don’t find it a little…” Tony made a vague box shape with his hands and then squeezed it.
“Small?” Banner was wearing that self-effacing smile again, the one he used when being complimented on the Hulk or when Tony had made one too many cracks. “It’s bigger than some of the places I’ve lived.”
Which, okay, Banner probably was probably just talking about the places he’d stayed when he was on the run, right? Except the look on Banner’s face said that wasn’t so. Tony was about to start asking when the door behind him opened and Steve (dressed in khakis and flannel) stepped into the hallway with a nervous smile.
He barely fit through the door.
This had to stop.
Chapter 2: The Foundation
In which Tony and Fury verbally spar and Pepper's winning proposal streak might be broken.
Location could have been a problem but it wasn’t, Tony already had the perfect plot of land picked out. He’d thought, briefly, about putting up the Avengers in Stark Tower (Avengers Tower had a nice ring to it didn’t it?) but no, they needed to be on the ground, close to the people. They weren’t gods (besides Thor anyway) and Tony wasn’t actually sure how ‘at home’ people would feel when they were dozens of floors up in the air. Plus Tony had a mansion that he wasn’t using (the house was the size of a city block and Tony had always felt weird with that much empty space) which would suit the Avengers needs. He was pretty sure if he got the proposal worked out right Fury would okay it.
“No.” Fury set the open folder down on his desk. “Hell no.”
Okay, now Tony felt a little insulted. He’d had Pepper work up the proposal herself? No one turned down a Pepper Potts proposal, they were foolproof. “Why not?” So he sounded a little defensive, if he let Fury turn him down Pepper’s decade plus long winning streak would be broken and she’d be out for blood.
Fury placed his elbows on the desk and steepled his fingers, a sure sign he was getting down to business. Tony debated briefly between looking Fury in the eye or the patch and went with the eye. “Because, Mister Stark, the men in charge aren’t going to like it. They don’t like that I don’t keep Banner in a cage, they’d rather that I’d mugged you in a dark alley and made off with your suit and they’re certainly not going to entertain thoughts of allowing the entire Avengers’ initiative to live offsite and unsupervised.”
“Hey, I’m willing to hand this land over to you. It’ll be SHIELD property, I’ll even tie the damn gate shut with a bow if that’s how you people want it.” Granted he was also going to file all the paperwork to get it put down as a donation for his taxes, Tony (or actually Pepper) wasn’t stupid. “And I’m the one who did all your recent upgrades, remember? Any surveillance technology will be completely compatible with SHIELD’s own resources.” Of course SHIELD headquarters didn’t have a JARVIS but SHIELD headquarters didn’t deserve a JARVIS.
“Stark-” Fury started again but Tony cut him off.
“And if you’re worried about supervision you can install an agent or two. There’s going to be room. Hell, have Coulson move in, he’s practically our babysitter anyway.” Fury opened his mouth again but Tony kept steamrolling on. “Plus if the World Security Council doesn’t agree to this proposal I’m going to the news to expose the absolutely terrible conditions you’re keeping Ste- Captain America in.” Fury’s mouth shut. “The world might not care about Banner,” actually people were starting to warm up to the Hulk now that his destructive powers were being put to good use, “but when it comes out that you’re housing America’s favorite hero in a room the size of a shoebox fur is going to fly.”
Fury held up his hand to stop Tony before Tony could go on further. “The Avengers Initiative may be public knowledge,” primarily because how the fuck could it not be, “but you signed a non-disclosure agreement, Stark, any information about Captain America’s living quarters would fall under information gained through your work here at SHIELD.”
“Genius, billionaire, philanthropist playboy, Nick.” Tony grinned. “I’ve got an army of lawyers to back me up.”
A muscle in Fury’s cheek twitched. He closed the folder and stared at Tony for a full minute without saying anything (Tony stared back and only twitched minutely) . “I will get back to you, Mister Stark. See yourself out.”
“Be sure to do it in a timely manner, Nick!” Tony was practically jaunty as he strolled out of Fury’s office. The spring in his step was greatly increased by the fact that he was positive he heard Fury mutter ‘motherfucker’ under his breath before Tony was even out the door.
Chapter 3: A Construction of Science
Coulson has agreed to be the Avengers Mansion's nanny... provided Tony can get two other Avengers to agree to move in. Tony starts with Bruce because he's a push-over for Tony's puppy dog eyes.
Mild spoilers for the avengers movie - nothing major if I didn't mention it and you hadn't seen the movie you wouldn't know! Also, fic is now marked canon divergence due to, again, the movie having come out and me having seen it and canon outclassing my fanon.
“If you get three members of the Avengers Initiative to a-“ Coulson paused and gave Tony’s raised hand a dark look, “Yes, you count.” Tony smirked and let his hand fall and Coulson continue. The agent was looking a little trigger happy at the moment, probably because he was being threatened with potential eviction and long term babysitter duty. Coulson loved them though, well, he loved Cap and he had a fondness for Banner and Thor and there was a little part of Coulson that enjoyed Tony’s company. A tiny part. “As I was saying, if you can get three members of the Initiative to agree to move in to…” Coulson’s mouth twisted.
If Tony felt like being annoying he would call that expression a moue.
“…Avengers Mansion then it will be designated a SHIELD safe house. I will be assigned to it,” ‘to you’ he meant, “as a glorified nanny to a frathouse full of superheroes.”
Tony blinked and checked to make sure he’d actually heard that. Sometimes Coulson’s humor was so dry you only noticed it when dehydration set in. The twist to Coulson’s mouth had turned from a grimace into a slight smirk though so he’d been joking and he’d definitely said that out loud.
“Hey, if I get Natasha to move in it’s not really a frat house is it? I mean, it’ll have a girl.” What Tony knew about fraternities were gleaned from the occasional late night Cinemax film, he’d never paid attention to them while he was in college. Sororities, now those he paid attention to. Coulson just gave him one of those flat looks that made Junior SHIELD agents quiver in their regulation bootstraps. “So, two people, easy peasy. I hope you’re all packed!”
“One way or another, I will be.” Coulson’s statement was made in an undertone that Tony, who had already started heading off, didn’t really catch. He had, after all, roomies to corral.
Bruce was the first because, well, Tony was already giving the man a lift to Stark Tower (currently under some renovations) for playtime in the R&D levels. He and Bruce were totally science bros, fistbumps and everything, and it didn’t take a lot to lure the man into his evil clutches.
“Come into my parlor…” Tony murmured under his breath when he stepped out of the elevator with Bruce. The other man shot him a vaguely confused look which only became more confused when Tony just smiled at him, but Bruce shook his head and then turned to the left as a shiny new piece of research caught his eye. It took Banner a full two hours to make his way over to the crème de la crème of Tony’s workshop, mainly because it wasn’t something Tony had whirling around on the displays. The console was dark, which Tony’s consoles rarely were, until Bruce tapped at it to see what exactly Tony had let idle.
The blue prints (done in red of course) of the Avengers Mansion popped into view, the fancy security system Tony had been designing for it highlighted in gold.
“Oh, hey,” Tony carefully set down one of his terminals (they could withstand a fall or a drop or hell he had field tested a few to be sure they’d still run if they were thrown from a three story window [a little scratched up but still working] but he was playing for time) and then quick stepped it over to shut the screen down. Bruce was, of course, having none of that.
“Are you building a house?” Bruce ran his finger down one line of data and it sprung to life, revealing the arc reactor Tony was going to have installed soon (next week if possible) and the panic room that was damn well insulated enough to handle either the Hulk or a nuclear strike. “Don’t you have enough of those?”
“I only have two, well, three.” He wasn’t really using them anyway but that wasn’t the point. “It’s not really a house for me, not that I’m building it. It’s already built I’m just… revamping it. Renovating it. You know, for friends.”
Bruce let his fingers do the talking, the schematics for the gym coming to the forefront to be followed by the underground firing range and then the helipad, perfect for landings by men of iron and demigods alike. Oh, and also helicopters. “Tony…” Then Bruce triggered the science lab that Tony had made out of a few rooms he didn’t think anyone would be planning on using. Ground floor, corner room, it overlooked the back yard and it might not have been Tony’s R&D levels or SHIELD’s labs or even Reed Richard’s study but it was off-site and somewhere you could do quiet research.
“I’m looking for a roommate, or two, if you’re interested.” Tony started off his spiel, unsurprised when Bruce turned and looked like he was going to respond negatively right off the bat. “I already ran it by Fury, everything’s good, I get two of the Avengers to agree and bam, we get Coulson as a live in liaison. C’mon, you like Coulson. Everyone likes Coulson. He’s a big lovable…” Tony paused, fumbled, “secret agent guy.”
Bruce shut the screen down and shook his head slowly but then he peeked Tony’s way with a small secret smile. “You really didn’t have to go through all this trouble. You could have just asked.”
Tension Tony had only been peripherally aware he was holding in his shoulders leaked out of him. “So, it’s a yes?”
Bruce’s smile expanded and Tony mirrored it with one of his own. “It’s a yes.”
And then he held up his fist. Tony, companionably, bumped it with his.
One down, one to go and then three more to round up.
Chapter 4: Made in America
ITTY BITTY UPDATE. Tony thinks about asking Steve to move in with him... and chickens out.
He had debated who to ask next. Oh, okay, he doesn’t debate, he actually choses Steve next because Steve is sort of who he is building this whole house for and despite the fact that he and Steve don’t always get along (half of their relationship is based around arguing) he thinks Steve should definitely be one of the first people he asks. Not the first, because he needed to test out the idea of course and Bruce is his new third favorite sounding board (Pepper, of course, being first, Rhodey, always the second although Rhodey mainly just said ‘no, Tony, stop that you stupid f*cker’).
So, he had chosen to ask Steve next, he had gone down to the gym even. He had stood there and listened to the sound of Steve’s fists hitting a punching bag. It was repetitive, maybe even soothing. Tony had carefully pushed the door open, just enough that so that he could peek in and watch.
It was more than soothing, it was hypnotizing. Tony couldn’t pick a place to focus on, those broad, moving shoulders? Steve’s big fists hitting the punching bag again and again, a puff of chalk dust erupting from each hit? Steve’s glorious ass? Tony couldn’t look away, even as Steve picked up the pace. It was only when Steve punched the bag hard enough that the chain broke and the bag flew towards the wall that Tony pulled himself out of the gym.
He should go ask.
He really should go ask.
Tony pushed himself off the wall and brushed off his front. He’d ask Steve later. He wasn’t worried Steve would say no or anything, it was just that clearly Steve had issues he was dealing with and Tony was sure that Thor would agree to bunk over at the mansion with minimal fuss. Although Thor might want to bring his entourage… which, admittedly, Tony was okay with. It was still a really big house.
With that settled, and the urge to touch that made in America ass stifled, Tony went off to find a thunder god.
Chapter 5: IKEA
After a battle with malevolent Jell-o shots Tony makes Thor an offer he doesn't want to refuse.
Since becoming Iron Man Tony has learned to accept the fact that somewhere, someone, somehow is attempting to either bring chaos and destruction upon the world or end it completely. Since joining Avengers he has learned that there are a great deal more people attempting to end the world all the time than he had previously though. Either that or they have increased since the Avengers formed, it’s pretty obvious they’ve become more public with their world ending antics. Tony flies over the carnage in search of Thor, Thor is smashing a few resilient ‘Jigglers’ (Jell-o is probably going to attempt to sue Hawkeye if that one gets leaked to the press) into the pavement. The amorphous blobs of red and blue (Natasha had demolished all of the green ones half an hour ago) are amazingly resilient, even in the face of Thor’s hammer. Tony repulsor blasts two of them and then waits.
Thor’s having a lot of fun and whatever the difference was between Aesir DNA and Human the toxic topical properties of the Jigglers did not seem to bother Thor.
“Hey, big guy.” Tony said while Thor cornered the last quivering Jiggler. “Got a question for you.”
“Very well.” Thor swung his hammer round and round until lightning crackled down from the sky and smote the quivering little blob out of existence. Then Thor turned around to face Tony with a smile on his face. “What do you wish to discuss, Tony?”
There was something really super weird about the Norse god of thunder saying his name like that. Tony sometimes felt like Thor should call him Anthony or Man of Iron, something long and pretentious. “Want to take a walk?” SHIELD cleanup crews were already scurrying through the wreckage and Tony felt no need to battle it out with black or Hazmat suited agents. If there had been robots… well, Tony had battled it out, legally, that he was allowed to obtain at least one piece of mechanical equipment when they battled mechanical enemies. The Jigglers, while scientifically created, weren’t robots and thus Tony really didn’t care.
“Of course. Shall we fetch the others?”
“No, no,” Tony retracted the faceplate before waving a hand between the two of them, “just you and me. Mano a goddo.”
Thor got the expression on his face which meant ‘I don’t understand that reference but won’t bring it up because there are many things about this world I do not understand’. It was a face that Steve wore too, although for Steve it meant ‘this decade I don’t understand’ but that wasn’t the point. The point was they wore similar expressions on their big, handsome, blond faces.
“Here?” Thor asked and motioned to the chaos around them. Tony considered it for a brief second before flipping his faceplate down and launching two feet in the air.
“Race you back to the tower?” Thor’s answer was a large grin and an updraft created by his swinging hammer. Since Tony had never promised to play fair he took the chance for a head start and raced off towards home. Thor joined him and then shot forward, Tony put on a burst of speed to keep up.
Neither of them took a straight route, they were forced to weave around buildings and occasionally crossed paths. Thor rode the airways more naturally than Tony, who was more likely to just push himself through. Whether by chance or cheating Tony got to the landing platform first, Thor was only a few seconds behind. “And Iron Man is the winner!” Tony proclaimed, hands fisted in the air. He lowered them when he stepped through the first of the dissembling machines, the disks spinning and removing his suit a piece at a time. “So, since I’m the winner, I think I should claim a forfeit.”
“It was a most enervating race.” Thor’s tone held a lot of humor, it was practically brimming with humor, that was Thor for you. “A forfeit? We placed no bets on this match.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, but it’ll be a forfeit you’ll enjoy, I promise.” Free of the suit Tony walked backwards into the tower. “C’mon, I want to show you something. Promise I won’t keep you up past your bedtime.”
“I have no curfew.” Thor seemed huge compared to the rest of the remodeled room, but then everything was sized for Tony and Tony had long ago come to terms with the fact that he was, compared to others, rather short. “What is it you wish to show me?”
“Nothing much. Just wondering, you know, I’m not sure where you’re staying while you’re down here on planet Earth.” Tony spun around when they came to the table he liked to use as his primary display device. He touched a few spots on the surface and let the designs for Thor’s floor pop up. “I’ve got a lot of room, so if you needed to crash sometime after a-”
In retrospect, Tony should have expected Thor to sweep him up in a rib grinding, internal organ combusting, sweaty smelling hug. “It is magnificent!” Thor said, Tony’s face still pressed against Thor’s chest. Tony mumbled something in response and Thor squeezed him again.
Oh god, his ribs had definitely creaked a little at that.
“Thank you, Tony.” Thor set Tony back on his feet and turned to admire the holograms. This gave Tony a few seconds to get air back in his lungs and wobble while his body re-orientated itself. “Jane has been… asking if I intended to stay with her for much longer. While I love my lady I’m afraid her bed is rather…” Thor mimed something in the air and when Tony didn’t get it looked at him pityingly. “Small?”
“Ah, well, you’ll find no shortage of large beds here in Avengers tower.” Oops, had he said that out loud? He hadn’t even gotten the paperwork done to change the sign. Memo to self, talk to Pepper about Avenger’s tower. “I have them built especially big.”
Thor clapped a hand on Tony’s shoulder hard enough to make Tony’s teeth rattle. “My friend, I would love to spend my nights here in Avenger’s tower with you and the rest of my friends. I believe that Jane wishes to move on, her research into worm hole theory leads her to many,” Thor released Tony to do air quotes (who taught Thor that?), “‘corners’ of your globe. Which reminds me! Darcy is holding a party for her tonight, I must get going or I will be late!”
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” Tony shouted after Thor, unsurprised when the man just jumped off his landing platform.
Two confirmations down which meant Coulson had no choice.
Now, to kidnap two SHIELD agents and seduce, er, convince one national icon.
Chapter 6: Shafts and Clever Euphemisms
Natasha scares Tony but for the first time in their short relationship she actually agrees with what he is saying.
SHIELD headquarters never stopped being, in a word, boring. Tony kicked his feet up on the low table in front of him and ignored the somewhat shocked noise from the non-receptionist who really shouldn’t have had the power to make him wait. But there was SHIELD and then there was SHIELD and unfortunately in order to get to the suit wearing badasses with shoulder holsters he had to get past the thin veneer of black and white suited government employees. One of the reasons Stark liked the hellicarrier, pretentious as it was (and since he’d had a hand in designing the thing he was allowed to call it pretentious, he was Tony Stark he knew pretentious) and that was the fact there were no weights, no hiding in plain sight (except for the camo function) and he could fly into the hanger bay and then walk up to the bridge.
Coulson was probably the one making him wait, or Fury. Or maybe it was Sitwell, Sitwell seemed like the vindictive type.
The door to the ‘offices’ opened and Romanov stepped through. She smiled at the receptionist (who pinked up, interesting) before giving Tony a surprised look. The delicate arch of her eyebrows and ‘o’ formation of her mouth was just so very… well, realistic which meant it had to be scripted. It also made Natasha seem like a nice person which Tony knew she wasn’t. No way, nuh-uh, no how.
“Tony! Are you waiting for Steve?”
See? Not nice at all.
“Actually.” Tony kicked himself out of his chair and dusted off his suit before he dropped a mote of invisible lint onto the floor. “I was hoping I could speak to you and your nicer half.”
That earned him an even higher raise to one of her eyebrows.
“But I’m scheduled for a meeting with Coulson.” Tony grinned brilliantly, something he was good at. “Has he mentioned he’s moving in with me?”
“I wasn’t aware the two of you were dating,” Natasha pulled upon a door to the super secret section of SHIELD and motioned for Tony to head inside. She gave the receptionist (what was her name anyway?) a glowing smile (which caused the woman to blush yet again) before following behind Tony. Tony turned to walk backwards because he might trust Romanov out in the field but he didn’t actually trust her not to stab him in the back on a day to day basis. “Mazel tov.”
“Are you even Jewish?” Tony questioned, unsurprised by the way she only smiled in response. Okay, whatever, possibly Jewish or maybe just screwing with him. “Anyway, Coulson’s going to move into my awesome tree house and I’m here to tell you that it’s not boys only.”
“The Avengers mansion was given a green light?” Romanov asks and it surprises Tony for a whole three seconds, he even stops walking after her. Romanov makes it to the end of the hallway and then stands at an intersection waiting for his brain to come back online.
He guesses he shouldn’t have been surprised but c’mon, it’s not like the idea was ever on paper. Or, no, it was on paper wasn’t it. Damn, and Coulson could have let it slip. It was hard to imagine Coulson letting things slip but to Natasha? Yeah, everyone let things slip with Natasha.
…which sounded a lot more innocent in his head than it ever would out loud.
“So,” Tony started when he had joined up with her again. “I’m guessing since I haven’t been widow zapped in the balls you’re alright with the idea?” There was more he could have added onto that ‘alright to the idea of living with a bunch of super powered bachelors’ except some of them had girlfriends. Thor did, or at least Tony was pretty sure he was serious about Jane, and Bruce had that weird pining for Betty from afar thing going on. There had been a cellist recently for Coulson (mental note: find out more) and Tony had Pepper.
Well, he had Pepper when Pepper wasn’t mad at him or he wasn’t busy and they’d both agreed long ago that monogamy and Tony wasn’t going to work. But mostly, he had Pepper. (All other dates had to be run through her background checks.)
“My lease is up soon and I have been thinking about getting a larger apartment.” Natasha commented nonchalantly, although she probably knew exactly what had been running through Tony’s head. She wasn’t a telepath was she? To check Tony thought sexy thoughts about her ass in leather which morphed to thinking about Steve’s ass in anything at all.
When she neither laughed nor smacked him he figured he was in the clear.
“Wait, you have an apartment?” Tony did a double take (and noted that she had been subtly leading them towards Coulson’s office) and noted that she was definitely almost smirking at him. “I thought you…”
“I have quarters in the barracks.” Natasha opened up a door that lead from the super-secret section of SHIELD to the super-super-secret and also badass section of SHIELD. “Most specialists do, some of us chose to save money and live here full-time while others keep living quarters off-site.”
It always seemed chillier in this section of SHIELD, Tony figured that was either because of the make-up of the walls (lots of metal) or the roving red eyes of security cameras. “So, Barton?” He wondered if Natasha had an appointment with Coulson as well or if she was actually conversing with Tony of her own free will. He pushed the button for the elevator and waited. “He live off site?”
“He used to.”
Silence fell, quickly grew into pregnant and by the time the elevator had dinged and the doors swooshed opened had evolved into awkward. Tony stepped into the elevator and tugged on his collar before leaning to push the button for the floor of Coulson’s office. Natasha gently touched his wrist to halt him, which really made him freeze up more than halt, and when the elevator doors had closed she pressed the button for the roof.
“The roof?” Tony shifted away from her (he had seen what she could do, alright? Just her fingers on his wrist could probably kill him quicker than he could scream.)
“Don’t you occasionally like a good long ride, Stark?”
…did she really? “Was that innuendo? Because with you I’m never sure if it’s innuendo or a clever trap. You’re like Pepper but worse. Pepper doesn’t understand innuendo.”
Then she smiled at him and Tony stuck to his corner of the elevator for the duration of the trip (he refused to call it a ride) frantically texting Pepper about how he was worried Natasha was going to push him off SHIELD’s rooftop and/or castrate him.
Pepper’s cleverly worded responses about how it was all a plot so she and Natasha could run off together really did nothing for his words.
Chapter 7: Smart House
Barton is a mopey emo yadda yadda and Tony is sad that he keeps getting interrupted before he can win the archer over with his charm and self-confidence.
Tony isn’t really surprised that they’re on the roof to find Barton, he’s not really surprised Barton’s up on the roof either. While the man’s good in close quarters combat he thrives on high, high, high, high ground. He’s just glad that, when the elevator dings and the doors slip open, he doesn’t find Barton doing something like hugging the guard rail that runs around the top of SHIELD. The helipad is empty but the wind so high up is strong, since SHIELD headquarters isn’t nearly as high up as Stark tower, not even his little landing pad, Tony walks through the breeze almost like it’s nothing. Natasha walks through it like it is nothing, like the wind isn’t causing her short curls to bounce and weave and tangle. “He’s up there.”
Barton is indeed sitting on top of the entrance to the elevator. He is squinting into the wind and his legs are dangling off the concrete box that is the highest point of SHIELD (barring the lightning rod). He doesn’t glance over at them when Natasha scales the elevator soundlessly or Tony clambers up after her. “Hey.” He says only after they’ve sat down next to him.
“The Avengers Mansion has been given a go.” Natasha says, point blank, cutting in before Tony can even begin his spiel. It’s a shame because he had been looking forward to bribing the two of them. He had all sorts of gym equipment, complete with shooting range, and there would be access to top of the line tech of any kind. He hadn’t yet hacked into psych profiles to see if they had favorite colors or food but if his original bribery hadn’t worked he had put that down as plan b. Maybe he should put in climbing walls on the outside of the building for the two of them; they’d probably be crazy enough to enjoy that. Or maybe just install cables and a safety net and let them go at it Mission Impossible style.
It’d give Pepper and Steve a heart attack, Bruce would probably watch them wistfully or some such bull.
“So?” Barton responds, he has not turned to face them at all and instead chose to stay squinting into the wind.
“So,” Tony snaps, before Natasha can say something potentially reasonable, “I’m inviting you to move in,” he briefly attempted to think of mopey archers and decided to just go with, “mopey dumbass.”
It didn’t take a genius (although Tony was one) to see that this got Barton’s hackles raised, the archer’s shoulders raised and he hunched forward while his face, which was decidedly unfriendly looking from the start, crinkled up into a thunderous scowl. Natasha sighed right before Barton opened his mouth to deliver, no doubt, a string of recriminations as long as Tony’s dick.
Thankfully they were interrupted.
Tony’s cellphone (a slim piece of plastic that a few years ago would have been mistaken for, well, a slim piece of plastic instead of one of the most advanced cell-phones on the planet) gave a quick buzz in his pocket before Jarvis started speaking. “Sir,” Jarvis’ polite accented tones were echoed by Natasha and Clint, Clint had tipped his head slightly to the side, Natasha cradled her earpiece with two curved fingers. “There appears to be a situation.” Tony fumbled his phone (it wasn’t out on the market yet, though it would be next year, it had taken Tony a while to convince Pepper to let him call it Winter and deal with paying Martin that pittance for using ‘winter is coming’ in the ads) out of his pocket. Video was playing on the screen, some sort of desperate call for help from…
“Wait, I know that guy, that’s Parks…” Tony drifted off as Parks ‘zapped’ the camera and disappeared. “What?” Because yes, Parks had been working with laser technology and the bands on his wrists had clearly been projectors of some kind. Had he turned invisible?
“We need to get off this roo-“ Romanov starts to say before there is a crackling noise, Tony drops his phone when it starts to spark. His fingers are already singed and he backs away two steps, he is forced back another two when Natasha and Barton force their way in front of him and shove.
“Too late.” Barton says.
Tony wishes he had his phone so he could shout at Jarvis to ‘deploy’ but as it is he has to hope that the transmitters in the bracelets will work just as well to call his suit to him. He also wishes he hadn’t left it in the trunk of his car and that he hadn’t had to park the car in SHIELD’s underground lot. This was going to incur some serious property damage. Tony eyed the crackling rather electrical looking figure in front of him and admitted, to himself, that some physical damage to his person would also probably occur. Romanov was armed with a gun and a knife and Barton had pulled what looked like a collapsible crossbow out of his cargo pants, they couldn’t exactly be on top of their game.
After the fight (which actually had incurred less physical damage than Tony had thought it would and had also been rather short since Tony had solved it through the use of his suit and SHIELD’s abnormally awesome lightning rods) Tony flipped his faceplate up and gave Barton and Natasha an obvious once over. Barton had a cut on his forehead that was bleeding profusely but wasn’t actually that bad, Natasha was cradling one wrist, since she wasn’t cursing under her breath Tony hoped it was just a sprain. She had been preforming some amazing acrobatics despite the injury.
“So, since you guys are, you know, injured I think you should take some time off and recuperate at this fancy mansion I’ve heard of that is renting rooms. For free, even. It’s awesome, you’ll love it.”
The two SHIELD agents exchanged a glance, the kind of look that Tony could give or receive from Pepper or Rhodey, the kind of look that contained a volume of words.
Since it was Barton and Romanov it was probably a dreary Russian novel, War and Peace or Dr. Zhivago.
“One month trial period, I don’t like it? I’m out.” Then the door to the roof opened and a plethora of SHIELD agents spilled out, disrupting any further conversation.
Tony flipped his faceplate down to hide his grin.
Next up planting his flag on the Captain.