"ASFDJDRBNHDFUA!" Darcy screamed from the computer lounge, and Steve almost dropped his stack of photocopies in alarm. His wolf-brother, George, was quick to assure him that citrus soap-Swedish Fish-really good skritchin' was not in any actual distress, and then to trot ahead down the hallway to investigate the cause of her excitement.
Tony poked his head out of Thor's office door. "Did you just vocalize keysmash?" He called down the hall.
"Sloths go meep!" Darcy answered, helpfully.
"What?" Tony laughed as he left the office, along with Thor, Jane, Natasha, and their wolf-siblings, and joined Steve on his way to the lounge.
"Sloths go meep," Darcy repeated when they got there, restarting, enlarging, and turning up the sound on the video she was watching to prove it.
"Huh," Natasha said when the video ended.
Tony cocked his head. "The more you know! Ooh, speaking of animal videos . . ." He leaned over Darcy to commandeer her keyboard, then stepped out of the way so that they could all get a good look. "Who does this remind you of?"
"Oh for the love of—" Coulson said from the doorway, where he and Barton were leaning, when the screen filled with filled with the frightening, somewhat pixellated visage of a goat-like creature that bellowed and spat at the man attempting to engage it in a conversation about politics in Spanish. He sighed and shooed Barton and their Companions into the room and then shut the door and Steve, who gamely shuffled over to make room for the new arrivals in the rather cramped quarters of the computer lounge, found himself brushing elbows with Tony, his eyes bright with mirth in the far corner of the room. "Turn that off."
"Yeah, come on," Natasha said as she leaned over Darcy to pause the video, pretending unconvincingly that she hadn't been chuckling along with the rest of them. Her wolf-sister, Anya, put her front paws up on the table next to the keyboard. "Let's watch something else."
"Homoerotic skating cowboys?" Jane proposed.
Darcy bounced in her seat. "Ooh, yes! Them! Them and their tight little jeans!"
"No," Natasha said as she pulled up the search bar. "Everybody's already seen the skating cowboys."
"Homoerotic skating cowboys," Darcy corrected. "With legs."
Steve raised his hand tentatively. "I haven't seen them."
"Oh." Natasha glanced at him. "Well, I'll show you later. What was that Cake thing you were watching yesterday? The one with the dancing."
"Oh, um." Steve tried to remember. "The one with all the movie clips?"
"Cake dancing?" Barton asked with a frown.
"If we can't watch the cowboys," Darcy said as she slid out from under Natasha's elbow, "how about that guy that looks a little like Thor's brother who always skates to Lady Gaga?"
"No," Thor, Barton, and Coulson all chorused.
"'Cake dancing' sounds fun," Tony opined. "I think you should look that up and see what happens."
"You don't like Johnny Weir?" Jane asked Barton and Coulson.
"No, Tony," Natasha said.
"I don't like Thor's brother," Barton answered, and Coulson nodded agreement. "In fact, I think he's a dick."
"Come on," Tony wheedled. "Live a little. I can hardly imagine a search for 'cake dancing' turning up anything too horrible."
Thor frowned. "They look not that alike."
"'Live eel insertion', on the other hand," Tony continued.
Steve frowned in confusion at Thor's wolf-sister, Sigrún, currently sniffing at the ear of Jane's brother Richard, and Jane, noticing his discomfort, leaned over and whispered, "Scholastic fictive kinship. They shared a supervisor at Aberdeen."
"But you agree that he's a dick?" Barton asked Thor, who smiled wryly.
"I've never met Master Weir."
"Got it." Natasha pulled up the video and stepped away from the screen, as much as she could in a small room packed with eight humans and seven wolves. "Everyone shut up now."
"Ooh." Barton perked up at the first twang of guitars, and so did his brother Locksley. "I haven't heard this song in ages."
"Nice," Tony nodded at the screen, which showed clips from various mostly black-and-white movies, first in quick flashes and then in longer sequences, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gliding effortlessly around a variety of dance floors, sometimes accompanied by their equally graceful wolf-siblings.
Thor hummed and started moving his hands, crossing his wrists over and under in front of his body and then moving them to one side as he shuffled his feet to the rhythm of the music. "I could poi to this."
Barton nodded and grabbed for Coulson's hands, drawing him into a space-constrained ghost of a ballroom dance. Coulson rolled his eyes profusely but went along with it.
Steve looked back at the screen and sighed. "They make it look so natural. I wish I knew how to dance like that."
Tony glanced at Steve, then back to the computer. "I could teach you. Well," he amended, raising his eyebrows at the video, "maybe not that."
Jane grabbed Natasha's hands and pulled her into a twirl, displacing Thor and the wolves who had settled around his feet, while Darcy kicked her chair as far out of the way as possible so that she could get up and boogie too. Now everyone was up and dancing except for Steve and Tony, including all the wolves—Richard pacing circles around Jane and Natasha's feet as they flitted around the crowded room and Locksley leaping into the air excitedly after Barton dipped Coulson low enough for him to lick his ear and then pulled him back up, sputtering.
Steve grinned empathetically with George when Tony's wolf-sister, Ada, jumped up on his back, sharing his delight as she wrestled him playfully to the ground. He found himself leaning closer to Tony, his back sliding sideways across the wall as he grooved subtly to the beat, and froze when he realized how close he was getting.
"Wait a minute," Tony said, frowning at the screen, "You like Cake?" He turned to look at Steve and blinked at finding his face hovering only inches from his own.
"Um . . . actually yeah, I do." Steve blushed and straightened back up against the wall, tearing his eyes away from Tony's and struggling to untangle the wave of feelings he was picking up through the bond, trying to pick out George's affection for Ada from his own—what? Fondness? Gratitude? Attraction? Steve wasn't sure what he felt towards scooter-newsprint-computers-coffee-eucalyptus-scotch, but whatever it was, it was pretty strong.
He cleared his throat, trying to conjure a witty response to distract Tony, who was still staring up at him with one raised eyebrow while their Companions tussled on the floor, then looked up and locked eyes with Fury, watching from the reopened lounge door with his enormous, grizzled sister Ishtar sitting by his feet.
"Working hard?" Fury asked over the fading music, and the assembled scholars, lupine and human, turned as one to stare at him.
"Absolutely," Thor said, shoving his hands in his pockets.
"Physical activity." Barton let go of Coulson's hands and made a show of dusting off the shoulders of his suit jacket. "Has beneficial effects on mood and mental agility."
"Well alright then." Fury smiled like a shark and glided back down the hall towards his office, with Ishtar as his omnipresent shadow.
As soon as he was gone, Jane lunged for the computer. "Now it's time for cowboys."