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He Knows Change Isn't Permanent (but change is)

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Yes. Tony may have been a little bit of a bastard when people started moving into the tower. 

Even though that had totally been his plan.

And yes, it was because Natasha had "hacked into" (was given freely without permission) the plans he'd drawn up about two hours after shwarma for their floors precisely a day after he'd done it. It was the point of it all. Tony liked to throw a shitfit about his plans being revealed by someone else. That was his thing. But if some people hadn't figured out that was his deal yet, i.e. Fury (who had looked at him with such disappointment), well, that was their own problem. Like, even Cap had Tony figured out by now. (The disquieting thing was that Nick probably knew exactly how Tony worked and his disappointment was supposed be some kind of lesson or whatever. But Tony doesn’t do lessons, Nick Fury! So there! And yes, even Tony hates that he said ‘so there!’ to Nick Fury in his head).

But he was not running a hotel. (Well, technically he was, but it was in Florida and also technically run by a very competent group of older ladies.) It was not in his tower, his Avengers Tower for Avengers.

Everybody and their dog moved in. Okay, everybody and their cat, because who knew Bruce was going to have a cat? Seriously. Who saw that coming? Nobody expects the joke "Is that a cat in your pocket..." because it's dumb but it's even more dumb for that to be answered with "yes." Because what. Who puts a cat in their pocket and thinks it’s going to turn out okay? Anyway, as soon as Bruce and Dr. Paws were installed on their floor, the others followed in turn, like, 30 minutes later, and even though it was a Sunday, Cap still helped everyone move in. Tony wanted to hire movers, because that’s what people do--even for Bruce, because while he’d totally been lying about that toothbrush thing, there still wasn’t much of Bruce’s stuff. But Dr. Paws--oh, Dr. Paws lived like a Bond villain. Or Tony. (And yup, one day Tony's totally expecting to walk into the room to have the chair swivel and see Dr. Paws waiting for him and stroking Bruce’s hair. Kinky? Or just weird? Thoughts for another day...)

God his head hurt. What had he been thinking about before his internal exposition machine started running? It even hurt to think about all the italics that train of thought had produced and he actually winced at the all html now traipsing through his brain. GOD. He supposed Jane's brain was all magically rich text.

JANE.

Right. Everybody and their cat moved in, which meant Thor brought Dr. Foster and Dr. Foster brought Darcy who was some kind of...assistant? Except not, because he mostly just saw her lounging around the gym, “watching people work out. You know, to learn.” But ever since Bruce had mentioned it, Tony couldn’t stop thinking of her like a predator eyeing the watering hole. Ugh, Bruce was such a weirdo about Animal Planet and now it was totally infecting Tony’s brain. “Big Cat Diaries” played constantly in his room because Dr. Paws loved it (so Bruce claimed) and after about two interactions with Dr. Paws wherein the cat had just stared at Tony and basically looked into his soul, he wasn’t going to question it.

Anyway, Darcy had basically introduced herself as “there for the eye candy” and Tony was pretty sure she meant that as a two-way street. Like, eventually Nat was going to stop showing off for her and make her start actually doing some training but until then it was pretty fun to watch Darcy watch (assess strength and agility? Virility?) everybody else and he was totally excited for the American flag string bikini she’d bought (and showed him) to make its appearance at Steve’s birthday party. Both for the hilarity of Steve’s reaction and, well, Darcy’s boobs. It was also nice to have her around because she got to ask questions that he’d always wanted to, but couldn’t for reasons of face-punching and...face-punching. Why were Steve’s work out pants so tight? Were his sperm super soldiers too? Was Clint an elf in disguise? Could she just touch his ears to check? And his biceps?

WHAT. No, totally OT again. Jane. Jane was the reason his head hurt, Jane was the reason for the child-sized Thor t-shirt he was wearing because Jane--tiny, innocent-looking Jane--was EVIL.

And she was the reason that suddenly one of his Avenger floors contained a non-Avenger Air Force Colonel and a physicist that, if Tony tried really hard to sort through the hazy hurty memories of the night before, was probably still passed out under Bruce’s lab table wearing the Hawkeye shirt.

Jane was the Ultimate Science Bro. That’s what her shirt read, anyway. Who saw that coming?

Dr. Paws, probably.

Chapter Text

Tony Stark lives a ridiculous lifestyle but even he thinks it’s a little OTT to announce one’s arrival with a crack of thunder. Or maybe it isn’t, if one is the God of Thunder?

“Maybe Tony Stark shouldn’t be judging anyone on anything,” Natasha says, without looking up from the elaborate pancake and bacon structure she’s creating.

“Stop reading my mind or I’ll put the tin foil hat on again,” Tony warns, and he will. He really will.

Steve gives him the classic Cap ‘I pity you, but in a non-judgey way, because really, I pity you’ look and says, “You said that all out loud, buddy.”

Right. “Oh. I knew that. I just wanted to make sure someone was paying attention to me.”

“Creepy. His id is showing. Nat, make it stop,” Clint says, through a mouth full of egg-white omelet.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full, egg-white omelet.” (Tony’ll take his shots where he can get them.)

“Hey, I’m sorry I can’t eat a Lumberjack Grand Slam every morning and keep up with some of these ripped motherfuckers,” Clint says, gesturing vigorously with his fork. “Believe me, I’m really really sorry. But I don’t have super metabolism or an iron suit to slip into, okay?” and takes a vicious drink of his smoothie.

Tony’s hurt. “I’m not doing all this core work for nothing, you know.”

“Core work my ass. I saw you in the gym once last week.”

“Ah, you saw me once. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t there other times.”

“I’m always there, asshole. Just shut up while I force this turkey bacon down my throat.”

“Don’t swear,” Tony says. “It makes Cap sad.” He sneaks a quick look at Steve, mostly to see if he’s still paying attention. He’s not. He’s reading the paper and honestly, they could take slings at each other’s mothers and Steve wouldn’t care as long as they all still ate breakfast together.

“Steve doesn’t care and even if he did, Clint doesn’t give a shit. Steve ate a package of sausage this morning. Steve doesn’t get to be sad.”

This, at least, brings Bruce’s head up from his tablet. “Oh god, this doesn’t herald another day of speaking of yourselves in third person, does it? Because that was so hilarious.”

Clint and Natasha openly grin at each other, and Tony hides his own because that had been a fun day.

“’Cause I’ll tell you this now—Bruce smash if that happens again.” When Bruce looks back down at his tablet, everybody at the table mimes a high five. Getting Bruce to actually say “Bruce smash” has been a team goal and it’s always nice to see a plan come together.

Something brushes against his leg and Tony sticks his head under the table. Yup, there was Dr. Paws, curling himself in the light of a sunbeam under Bruce’s chair. Weirdest cat Tony has ever met…but then, cats, right? Not to be trusted.

“Greetings friends!” Tony hits his head on the table as Thor comes striding into the room. “It is good to see you all again!” Thor generally enters every room with the same phrase, whether it’s been a week or an hour since he’s seen them last. Steve puts his paper down though, and everyone gives a louder hello than the usual mumbled “hi’s” which is confusing until Tony remembers it actually has been a week since Thor left for his vacation with Jane.

“How was--?”

“San Francisco,” Steve murmurs.

“How was San Francisco?” Tony says.

Thor grins widely (is there any other way Thor grins?). “Most enjoyable. We toured the jailing island, which I found fascinating. When Jane was occupied with her scientific duties, I wandered the city and sampled a wondrous variety of delicious items. Then I flew Jane to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset there. Steven, I thought of you.”

All heads swivel to Cap, who’s making a zipping motion with his hand.

All heads swivel back to Thor, who is, of course, still grinning. “I found a spot that closely resembled where the Elders often appear.”

Natasha makes a gargled noise and Steve looks resigned. Everyone else just looks confused.

“You guys watch “Charmed”?”

Predictably, all heads now swivel to Natasha, who looks mortified that she could name the show.

“Steven and I are often the only ones awake early in the morn, and as we both have a desire to be aware of Midgardian ‘pop culture’ (yes, real finger quotes) we began watching a channel which promised explosive programming. Instead, we discovered the story of three sister witches, as well as   the one that follows after—what is it again, Steven?”

Steve heaves the embarrassed sigh of someone whose bad television love has been exposed and, almost inaudibly says “‘Angel.’”

“Yes! The warrior vampire with a soul. We have only just started that program. It is confusing, though we are persevering. ”

“I can’t believe you guys are watching that without me,” Nat mutters. “I’m awake early too, you know.”

Thor and Steve both look horrified. Thor goes so far as to kneel beside her chair. “Lady Natasha, had we known you enjoyed this program we would never have excluded you! We will see you tomorrow, then. 6 am, in the viewing chamber.”

“‘Charmed”, Nat? Really?” Clint looks gleeful. “Maybe next time we run into something magicky you can orb us out of there.” He immediately slaps his hands over his mouth but it’s too late, and Steve and Natasha point accusingly at him.

Thor just nods wisely. “Clinton, we will see you there as well.”

Steve pushes back from the table. “I’m going the gym! Who else wants to go to the gym?” Nat and Clint practically leap across the table to follow him—although Tony thinks that maybe Clint went over it and Nat under. Thor takes Clint’s chair and his grin turns into more of a smirk.

“Oh my god, you totally did that on purpose!” Tony’s mouth drops open. “You just wanted to embarrass them! That's like--like something I would do!”

“I admit that I missed teasing my shield brothers and sister. Additionally, when I was helping to move personal belongings into the building, I noticed that Lady Natasha owns the entirety of several such sagas. I enjoy the,” he searches for the word and then brightens “marathoning of such things.”

“You have depths, Thor,” Bruce says with admiration.

“Did you question that I did?”

Before Bruce can answer that loaded question, Dr. Paws leaps into Thor’s lap. “A new companion!” he exclaims. He inclines his head. “Well met, sir.”

Bruce half-stands, hands waving. “Oh, I’m sorry, he shouldn’t have jumped on you like that. That’s—he’s Dr. Paws. He’s my cat. I’m sorry, he’s shedding on your, your cape and I need to brush him--”

Dr. Paws lets out a long yowl at Thor, who lifts his hand and lets the cat bonk his head against his fingers. Then Dr. Paws gives a sniff in Bruce’s general direction and jumps down, heading for the door. “A pleasure, doctor,” Thor calls after him.

Too many things have been hilarious to Tony in the span of three minutes so he doesn’t even bother explaining that’s the cat’s name and just laughs hysterically.

Thor starts finishing Clint’s abandoned food. “There was something I wished to inquire about. The large floating city in the Bay of San Francisco. Jane was unable to see it, which I found curious.”

Bruce and Tony look at each other and Bruce shrugs. “There are a couple of islands in the Bay. Nothing I’d call a ‘large floating city’ though. Are you still talking about Alcatraz?”

“No, as I already informed you, Jane and I both went there. I have the t-shirt proclaiming me falsely as an inmate.” He winks. “Jane’s states she is an honorary guard. Besides, this city was quite large, with many towers and spires. It even reminded me somewhat of Asgardian architecture.”

Tony shakes his head. “There’s nothing like that there. Sorry buddy.”

“Yes, there is.”

“Well, no. There’s not.”

“Is.”

“Not.”

Boys,” Bruce says wearily.

Thor’s beginning to look a little wary. “I tried to fly closer for a better look—truly, lovely architecture—but I was given the distinct impression that I was unwelcome. And as I mentioned, Jane was also unable to see it. Perhaps it is something shielded from mortals?”

Yeah, that doesn’t sound good at all. Tony sees his alarm mirrored on Bruce’s face. “I’ll call Fury. Bruce, get the Power of Three out from wherever they went to hide their shame. And Thor? Let’s go to the lab and you can tell me all about this floating city in the Bay that no one else can see.”

 

Chapter Text

“No, this one was more…spiky,” Thor’s saying, fingers trying to pinch the holographic display Tony’s trying to create. “And these towers were definitely more phallic in shape.” And the thing he does with his hand over that particular tower is obscene in a gross way.

Tony slams his hand against the table top. “If you say—or do that--one more time, I’m gonna suit up and punch you in the face. It doesn’t have to look exactly the same, I just want to know how big it is!” He gives it a second, but really, he’s the only one in the room who would make the ‘that’s what she said joke’ anyway.  He waves a hand across the beautiful 3-D topographical map he’s created of San Francisco and the bay, with the Golden Gate Bridge anchored in the pixilated waters.  “I’m just going for a rough approximation.” Now Bruce laughs, because he knows that the entire model is in perfect 1:28.1 scale.

Thor crosses his arms over his chest and glares. “I am merely attempting to guide you to a pleasingly aesthetic representation. This is adequate, but does not capture the…beauty or shine of the city I saw.”

“Adequate? Adequate.”  That’s all Tony can say. Bruce is already coming around the table toward him.

“I assumed you would draw it, that is all,” Thor says with a shrug. “Add a little shading, maybe.”

Tony squeaks and he would clutch his damn pearls if he had some.

“Do I look like I should be wearing a beret?” he says plaintively to Bruce, who is now hovering at his elbow. “Do I have sketches of Bon Jovi and Britney Spears hanging behind me?”

“No and no,” Bruce says soothingly. “Your model is perfect. Like, actually perfect. Hey, don’t think I didn’t notice the way the current is moving.”

Tony is somewhat mollified by this until he sees that Thor’s still got a nonplussed look on his face.

“You want it to be aesthetically pleasing?  You want a little shading? Fine.” Tony rips open a drawer and scrounges viciously through it until he finds a notebook and pencil. He throws both of them toward the corner of the lab where Steve is pacing. “Take those to Steve and make him draw it. He’s an artist and more importantly, not standing by me.”

To say the look Thor gives Tony is disdainful would be putting it mildly. Thor makes a great show of sighing and adjusting his armor before standing.  He retrieves the notebook and pencil with exaggerated care; delicately smoothing the pages before going to Steve.  The two of them sit on the couch and Thor pointedly turns his back to Tony before handing over the notebook to Steve.

“The middle towers are quite phallic in nature,” he says loudly at Steve.

 It’s so not fair that Tony’s always the one that gets labeled the drama queen.

Steve bends over the notebook, pencil in hand and deep in thought.“8,981 foot span, 746 feet high--” he mutters. Then he seems to remember where he is. “Hey Tony, do you have an engineer’s scale?”

Captain America is saved from a ruler to the face by Bruce’s gentle but firm arm on Tony’s shoulder and cajoling questions about whether they can do an earthquake simulation.  Tony knows when he’s being handled but allows himself to be dragged back to the table because fuck yeah he can do an awesome earthquake sim.  A few keystrokes and Tony’s ‘Mayan Apocalypse 2012: Scenario #34’ is up and running.

Natasha comes in just in time to see the end. She glances at it. “That’s not real time, right?” she asks, in a voice much too cool for someone who just watched a holographic California disappear into the Pacific.

Tony switches off the screen. “No. But hopefully you’d be a little more worried if it was.”

“Anger is more useful than despair,” she counters, cocking an eyebrow. The look on Bruce’s face says he’s not sure he agrees.  But then her eyes flicker across the room and Tony knows she has news and she doesn’t like it.  

“What’s the word, hummingbird?”

“It’s strange. The word from Fury is that he wants us to stand down. Apparently they know all about the city in the bay.”

Yeah, that is strange, right? It must be, because Steve is standing now, looking concerned.

“But he wants us to suit up, right?” Steve asks.

“No. He explicitly ordered us not to. He said we should sit tight and he’ll brief us soon.”

“Uh huh,” Tony says flatly. “Fury’s actually gonna come here and explain something to us.”

Nat twitches her lips. “Well, no.  He’s sending people to explain. Which I do not like. But when I said that we were gearing up, I was told absolutely not, to stand down or we’d end up starting some kind of inter-departmental incident.” She glances at Bruce and says “Oh, and that he doesn’t need any more publicity because of us.”

“That one’s all on you, Doc,” Clint says from somewhere behind Tony.  Tony jumps because that’s what you do when people freaking appear silently behind you.  He fucking hates it when Clint does that.

“I fucking hate it when you do that.”

“I know, dude. That’s why I do it. Keeps you on your toes. You got a nice vertical leap, though. Why don’t we ever play any b-ball?”

Tony groans. “Don’t ever say ‘b-ball’ again, Clint. You’re too old and it makes me embarrassed for you. And don’t be mean to Bruce. I thought the picture was cute. I even saved it.” He points at the photo clipped to the wall that shows Tony in the lab, smirking at the camera and Bruce in the background with Dr. Paws perched on his shoulder. “Do you have any idea how many gifs and tumblr accounts that picture has spawned?”

Bruce buries his face in his hands. “Look, he just likes sitting there and it’s, it’s…soothing for him. And me. Okay?”

Tony gives him a reassuring pat on the arm. “Shoulder cat,” he says, knowingly. He did his research.

Thor’s nodding from the couch. “I’m sure it is soothing for you both. And it can only be advantageous for the good Doctor to be in closer proximity to his work.”

Yeah. No one knows what to say to that. Thor is an extra weirdo about the cat but nobody wants to like, ruin his dream or whatever so they just don’t say anything.

Anyway, let’s get back to the invisible city and the fact that Fury’s just sending people over to my house now? How are we supposed to know who these people are or if they’re even telling the truth? Because I’m not going to let just anyone into my--“

“It won’t be hard to tell which ones we are, Stark,” comes a dry voice from somewhere behind Tony. Again. He’s gratified to see that Clint jumps too this time and has drawn down as well. In fact, Thor and Steve are both on their feet, hammer and shield (respectively) raised. Natasha’s in front of them, a gun leveled in each hand. He shoots a quick glance at Bruce to see if it’s going to be “Ho, Ho, Ho!” time in the valley as he reaches for his bracelet but Bruce shakes his head minutely and is wearing a really strange look of…recognition? He gestures for Tony to turn around.

A golden glow is dissipating from around the two men now standing in front of them. There’s a tall guy, wearing some kind of black military-like thing that Tony has seen on people at SHIELD bases and the other guy—the other guy is--

Tony’s mouth drops open. “Fuck me. Rodney McKay.”