"Natasha," Steve said, or tried to say with his face smushed into his new bed's pillow, "can we do this tomorrow? I'm really, really tired."
"It is tomorrow," she replied coolly, moving only enough to settle more firmly on his shoulders, knees and feet holding down his arms. "It's approximately 12:01, and I must say that I'm very proud of you for staying up past 10:00 pm."
Steve grunted, trying to shift over a little so at least his legs weren't hanging halfway off the bed, but with no upper body leverage, he just succeeded in pressing his face further into the pillow. "I was with Bruce. He was showing me Bugs Bunny cartoons. I'm not really sure why."
Natasha seemed to think it over, if the pause before her reply was any indication. "Did you used to watch Bugs Bunny?"
Steve shrugged as best he was able. "Not really. I liked more realistic animation. Like Snow White."
There was another long pause, followed by a sigh. "Okay, whatever. So, Steve, what's going on with you?"
He wriggled a little more, just enough to get his face out of the pillowcase. "Nothing. I told you, I'm just tired."
With another sigh (and really, this was more deliberate emotional hinting from Natasha in the past two minutes than Steve thought he may have ever had in the entirety of their friendship), Natasha tipped herself off Steve's shoulders, flopping down with an uncharacteristic lack of grace onto the bed. She tucked an arm behind her head, crossing her legs at the ankle. "Aren't we all."
Steve, finally free to move unhindered, pushed himself up and looked at Natasha. He hesitated, still half on and half off the bed, partially kneeling on the floor.
Natasha cracked one eye open, looking over at him. "Steve, get on the damn bed."
He flushed a little. "I - really?"
She rolled her eyes. "Well, I guess that depends. Are you planning on groping me the second I close my eyes?"
"What?" Steve yelped, scrambling backwards. "No! I would never do that!"
"How disappointing," she deadpanned. "And are you particularly afraid that I'll grab you in certain sensitive areas the second you close your eyes?"
"I -" Steve sat back on his haunches. "Well, no, okay, that depends. For the purpose of causing pain, or just for the sake of trying to make me uncomfortable?"
Natasha stared at him. "Get on the damn bed, Steve."
"Okay," he said, grinning back at her even though he was fairly certain his cheeks were still pink. He pushed himself up and rolled over onto the bed, jostling her as he bounced onto the mattress. He reached over to unlace his shoes and toe them off, laughing when Natasha kicked him lightly in the head to make him turn and help her pull off her own boots. After depositing them on the floor next to his he stretched out beside her, mimicking her pose.
"Better," she said, turning on her side to look at him. "Were you always this hesitant? I read your file, you know, many times. I wouldn't really have expected someone who got in so many fights when he only weighed about 90 lbs to be so shy."
Steve shrugged, scratching idly at his nose. "I've always been... I guess you could say shy. But I couldn't stand being pushed around. Just because someone's skinnier than someone else or shorter or just... different, that doesn't give other people the right to push anyone around. I know that belief made me do a lot of stupid things back then, and it's not like I've gotten any better really, maybe I'm even stupider about it since I practically jumped down Tony's throat the first time I met him because he reminded me of those guys that used to corner me after school, but I was so wrong, and it was so embarrassing, and I can't blame it on being iced over or a Capsicle or whatever the name is because I should know better and..." He trailed off. "Sorry. I forgot what your question was."
Natasha drummed her fingertips on the mattress between them. "How did Tony remind you of the guys that used to beat you up?"
Steve shrugged uncomfortably, looking up at the ceiling. "I guess... when we first talked after we got Loki, I didn't... he was asking me these questions, and saying things that I didn't get, and I thought he was making fun of me, you know?" He chuckled, twisting his fingers into the hem of his white t-shirt. "I guess he sort of makes fun of everyone, though, that's just his way of talking. But I didn't know that, and I was already kind of, you know..." He sighed. "I just felt weird. He made me feel kind of... lost."
She nodded, tucking a few slightly curled red strands of hair behind her ear. "He has that effect."
Steve watched the play of her fingers over her hair. "Does he? I sort of figured it had to be just me. He seemed to get along much more easily with you, didn't try and push you or anything."
"Oh, he had plenty of time to do that before," Natasha replied. "I met him a few years ago, posing as a member of his company in order to determine his suitability for the Avengers Initiative." She smirked. "It wasn't a good first impression, or second impression..." She tilted her head. "Or third or fourth or fifth. It took a long time to get down to the actuality of Tony Stark."
They lay quietly together for a little while, Natasha still on her side, occasionally glancing down at Steve, and Steve on his back, hands folded over his stomach, staring up at the ceiling. It was much nicer than his ceiling back in his little apartment. There were no cracks in it for once, and really, Tony - or whoever had set up the room - had done a nice job in picking a space for Steve. The room itself was a good size, with a little table by the big window that looked out on the city below, and a dresser and and a big closet full of all kinds of storage units that Steve couldn't imagine ever really filling. The bed was big and comfy, not too soft, and with a very nice chocolate brown comforter. The room itself was actually in many different warm shades of browns and dark reds, lit by lamps rather than overhead lights, giving it all a cozy glow. It felt... like a home.
And when Natasha's carefully sharp fingernails gently started carding through the strands along his hairline, Steve just... melted.
"I think I'm attracted to Tony."
Natasha chuckled, not stopping the movement of her fingers. "I guessed that, Steve."
He whined, not caring anymore just how pathetic he probably sounded, turning into Natasha and hiding his face on her shoulder. She shifted a little, cradling his head with one arm as her other reached around to more fully move through his hair. "At first I thought maybe it was because of Howard, maybe I was just interested because he reminded me of his dad, but it's... it's not it. Tony's so different, and just.. intense. And when he looks at me, I -" He broke off. "I sound like a teenage girl right now, don't I?"
Natasha didn't stop the movement of her fingers. "I never really got to be a teenage girl, so I'm not the right person to make that comparison," she replied after a moment, and Steve looked up at her. "I wouldn't mind pretending with you for a little while, though. Though I'm not braiding your damn hair."
Steve couldn't help it; he started laughing. When his laughter tapered almost into a giggle, the sound actually got Natasha to let out an honest laugh of her own, and then they couldn't stop. They curled up in their pile, clutching at each other and gasping for breath as they slowly wound down.
Naturally, about two seconds after they'd gotten themselves back under control, they nearly fell off the bed in shock when Thor banged his way into the room, door smashing against the opposite wall. He struck a pose just inside the doorway, fists on his hips, flannel shirt just as messy and partially untucked as always, though it seemed as if the whole front was off by two buttons.
"I have arrived!" he declared.
"Uh, yeah," Steve replied, clutching at his heart. "I got that."
"The wall got that too," Natasha said. "What happened to staying with Jane until tomorrow?"
"It IS the morrow!" Thor informed her, crossing the room and collapsing onto Steve's bed as well. Unfortunately, he didn't wait for Steve or Natasha to move their legs first. "It is nearly a half an hour beyond the new day. We must celebrate!"
"Ow, Thor," Steve grunted, trying to move his legs from beneath him , but failing. "Are we celebrating the half hour of new day, that you're here, or the real time test we're about to do at how much faster my broken legs knit than Natasha's?"
Thor laughed heartily. "Steve, I am glad you have fully recovered your sense of humor."
"Well I haven't," Natasha growled. "Get off!"
"Is this a cuddle pile?" Clint shrieked from the doorway, making all of them wince, but nowhere near as much when he launched himself across the room and proceeded to land almost entirely on Steve and Thor.
"Oh God," Steve gasped, trying to curl up and failing. "What the -"
"Good aim, Clint," Natasha replied, and dammit, Steve could hear the smirk in her voice.
"Hey, if there is uncomfortable amounts of affection going on anywhere, I want part of it," Clint replied, slinging one leg up over Thor's shoulder and resting his head on Steve's stomach. "Cap, your muscles are like pillows. This is beautiful."
"Oh my gosh," Steve groaned. "I just wanted to go to bed."
"Let me have my moment," Clint demanded, wriggling in. "I've been cleared for active duty!"
"This is good news, Clint!" Thor boomed, patting Clint on the leg so forcefully that the smaller man's entire body shook. "I am most pleased!"
Steve shot Thor a look. "Did you know Clint was on probation?"
Thor frowned. "To be most honest, I am not completely certain about any of this. But if Friend Clint is happy, then so am I!"
"Thanks, Thor," Clint replied with a grin, knocking Thor in the head with his knee. "See? Thor knows how to celebrate. So what are we talking about?"
Natasha smirked. Well, Friend Steve here was just about to tell us -"
"About to tell us how he managed to set up an orgy on his first night here?" Tony Stark cut in from the doorway. He had his arms crossed over his chest, bare and really, the guy had some great arms on him. Steve tried not to blush. Well. Tried not to blush more. "I'll admit I'm impressed, Cap. And I'm also incredibly hurt you didn't invite me."
"I didn't invite any of them," Steve protested, trying very hard to worm his way out of the painful pile, but while he was extremely strong, he couldn't match three fully grown adults collapsed on top of him.
"Well," Tony replied, "that's not exactly conducive to an orgy."
"I didn't want an orgy!"
"Join us, Stark!" Clint cried, pushing himself up and off of Thor and Steve, stretching himself across the foot of the bed. "We're bonding!"
"Are you drunk?" Tony asked skeptically, though he did take another step into the room. "Because the scene before me bears all the hallmarks of a group of drunk people."
"I can't get drunk," Steve replied, finally kicking his legs free from Thor.
"And I cannot either, not off of your weak Midgardian ale," Thor added.
"I'm Russian," Natasha said.
"I'm..." Clint trailed off. "Well, you'll just have to take my word for it. Not drunk."
Tony rolled his eyes, coming over to stand beside the bed. "Didn't really need conclusive evidence to the contrary, but I'm touched you all want to prove yourselves to me."
Steve propped himself up on his elbows, watching Tony out of the corner of his eye. The other man was surveying the others with amusement quirking at the edges of his lips, though his eyes held that intensity again. He was analyzing them, cataloging them, processing them.
He was removed, dark eyes distant.
"I'm up for another movie," Steve said after a moment, and Tony looked at him in surprise. Steve smiled sheepishly. "As long as it isn't Bugs Bunny."
Tony's lips twitched as he stuck his hands in the pockets of his track pants, still looking down at Steve. "Bruce loves his Bugs Bunny. Sleeping in front of the screen right now. I left a post-it on his face letting him know there was an orgy in your room, so either he'll be here shortly or never come to this side of the tower again."
"That is not a kind thing to do to Dr. Banner," Thor intoned, brows drawing together.
Tony glanced briefly over at Thor. "Neither was Clint's idea to put plastic scorpions in your bed, but he's gone and done it anyway."
"Betrayal!" Clint yelped, flinging himself backwards off of the bed when Thor spun around to make a grab for him.
"I'LL SHOW YOU BETRAYAL," Thor roared, literally making the windows rattle in their frames. He lunged at Clint, who rolled and hauled ass back out through the door, whooping all the way down the hall, the sound punctuated by the dull thuds of Thor hitting the walls as he swerved right out after Clint.
"Excellent bonding exercise," Natasha snorted, which Steve still thought was adorable.
"Yeah, well," Tony replied, and then suddenly he had flopped onto the bed directly next to Steve. Steve flushed and tried to scoot over towards Natasha, to give Tony more room of course it was to give him more room it wasn't because Steve was having any kind of mental fritzing because Tony was in Steve's bed with him, but Natasha hid her smirk behind her hand and refused to budge, so Steve found himself legitimately squished between the two of them.
"Jarvis," Tony called, oblivious to Steve's mental trauma as he waved a hand at the large landscape painting of New York across from Steve's bed, "transfer the projection to film upload." He turned to grin at Steve, elbowing him. "Ever seen The Exorcist, Steve?"
"Oh my God," Natasha groaned.
"Um," Steve swallowed, trying to tilt a little away from Tony but only managing to bump his head into Natasha's. "No?"
"I kind of think I should be the one in the middle for this," Natasha said, reaching around Steve's shoulders and keeping him pulled to her, even as Tony transferred out the landscape for what Steve recognized as the openings of whatever film this was.
"Nah," Tony said, settling in close to Steve, actually putting his head on Steve's shoulder. "He's fine where he is. And wow, Cap, Clint wasn't kidding about you being all soft and pillowy..."
Steve only stopped blushing when Linda Blair's head started spinning around.