It’d been a long day. It had. Tony was doing his best to get through it, but, well… It’d just been a long day. He stepped off the elevator and into the penthouse with shoulders aching, exhausted to his core, already tugging at his tie. He stopped short as he passed the breakfast nook and noticed a sheet of paper that had been left out.
Coming closer, he couldn’t help but smile as he realized it was a little cartoon sketch from Steve. It was the whole team, or at least child-like versions of them, in one big downpile and covered in a pile of blankets. A TV glowed across from them and a short note was scribbled underneath.
Movie night tonight. Your pick. Bruce is cooking.
Picking the note up, he carried it into the kitchen to stick on his fridge with the others. Somehow, impossibly, he already felt a lot better.
“Let Capsicle know I’ll be there, would you, J?”
“Of course, Sir. You’ll be pleased to know Dr. Banner appears to be making the red curry tonight, as well.”
Tony’s stomach rumbled, already eager. He’d skipped lunch, trying to handle everything, and the red curry was his favorite.
“You know me so well.”
He headed to the bedroom for a change of clothes, rolling his shoulders as he went. Maybe, if he was really lucky, he’d be able to talk Nat into giving him a back massage as the movie played. He’d owe her a foot rub later, but it would definitely be worth it.
His night was looking up.
"Prompt for Tony's birthday: the rest of the team trying to outdo each other to get him the best present!"
“Uh… what’s goin on here? Was there an orgy planned and I missed the invite?”
Tony stared, wide-eyed at his team, all tangled up together on the floor of the common room. Steve’s face was turning bright red and Tony honestly wasn’t sure if he was blushing or if Natasha’ thighs wrapped around his throat were cutting off his air.
“Nothing,” Clint denied, completely unconvincingly from where he was being all but squashed by Thor. Thor who, in turn, was in a choke-hold from Bruce of all people. “We were just watching some, uh, wrestling. On the TV.”
“And you thought you’d try it out yourselves? In my living room?”
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Bucky contributed.
“They’re fighting over who’s birthday gift you’re going to like best tomorrow,” Pepper said, calmly standing from the armchair she’d been occupying out of the way of the chaos and picking her want through the bodies on the floor. “They’re all idiots, of course. It’s clearly going to be mine.”
Clint let out a squawk of protest, but Pepper just looked smug.
“Why don’t you head on up and get changed out of that suit?” she suggested, kissing Tony on the cheek. “We need to to be at the airport in an hour if we want to meet Harley when his plane arrives.”
“I flew him in just for you. School’s out now, so he’s here all week.”
Tony’s over-joyed whoop was met by grumbles and groans from his team. They knew when they were beat.
"Rhodey and Pepper have all sorts of traditions when it comes to Tony's birthday. Most of them were born of Tony's habit of pretending he wants grandiose when in fact they know better. So they're subtle about it and they train everyone else to leave special attentions for Tony any and everywhere they can to brighten his day. Could be Gen, could be a pairing thing where Steve/Bucky or both take on what they're doing and start doing the same :)"
Rhodey and Pepper exchanged a glance across the dinner table, smiling at each other. It was a small affair - “friends and family only,” as Steve had put it. Bruce had cooked and Bucky had made the cake for afterwards. There were no cameras besides Peter’s phone, no glitz or glam or socialites. There weren’t any glasses of alcohol that Tony had to pretend to sip until he could get rid of it in a bush or potted plant.
It was perfect, private, and there was no proof of that more compelling than the huge, slightly-disbelieving grin on Tony’s face as he opened up Clint’s gift to find a pair of hand-knitted socks with a matching scarf and hat. They were a horrific shade of neon purple and Pepper knew as soon as she spotted them that Tony would love them. She was going to have to have a very stern talk with him about not wearing them to any press conferences, but that could wait.
“They’re good for him,” Rhodey observed quietly, polishing off his piece of cake and eyeballing hers.
Pepper rolled her eyes and nudged her plate a bit further away from him.
“They are,” she agreed. “They really are…”
"Yay, prompts! How about MIT era Tony and Rhodey getting into some wild shenanigans, causing trouble wherever they go, and generally being two lovable menaces? :D (platonic or romantic, it's up to you!)"
In a universe where Steve Rogers was discovered in the ice while Tony was still in college.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Oh, man!” Rhodey gasped, grabbing Tony’s shoulder as he stumbled and dragging him forward to keep running. “I can’t believe we did that!’
“I know!” Tony cackled with glee, only remembering at the last moment that they were supposed to be keeping quiet. “Did you think he’ll like it?”
Rhodey just rolled his eyes.
“You’d know better than I would. He’s living in your house.”
“Only for as long as dad manages to keep him there,” Tony snickered. “And I only ever see him on breaks, you know that.”
“Do you think he’ll know we did it?”
“Oh, I’m pretty sure we’ll be getting a call as soon as he sees the news.”
Rhodey’s grin was wicked.
“God bless America.”
Inspired by the recent prank at MIT!
"for the bday prompts: Tony doesn't expect his bday to go right or that anybody remembers, a mission just went sideways but the Avengers still manage to surprise him and turn it around. :)"
It wasn’t like they’d really planned anything. There’d been some talk about arranging a dinner, but they hadn’t ever gotten around to discussing details. Then the day itself had kind of snuck up on him. Tony’d figured they still had time, figured he’d ask JARVIS to check in with the others. That hadn’t worked out so well.
Instead, there’d been an attack in the Gulf of Mexico, near Puerto Rico. Some made scientist had watched one too many SciFi movies and decided it would be a good idea to create a collosal, mutant octopus.
Seeing as most of the damage was accidental and it wasn’t exactly the creature’s fault it’d been created and then just set loose, they goal was detainment instead of destruction and it… complicated matters. No one had given the octopus the memo that they didn’t want to hurt it. It was frustrating as all hell.
By the time they returned to the tower, they were exhausted. Tony included. It was a bit late to actually do any sort of dinner, and he wouldn’t blame the others in the slightest for the day slipping their minds in all the chaos. He figured he’d catch and shower and fall into bed. Sleeping at a decent hour for once seemed like a nice enough birthday gift to himself.
Nat caught him sneaking off, though.
“Where do you think you’re going?” she asked accusingly.
He froze, feeling suddenly guilty even though he hadn’t done anything wrong.
“Uh… to shower?”
An eyebrow arched.
“And then to bed?”
Nat blinked in surprise, stern demeanor dropping instantly.
“You’re not trying to sneak off to your lab?”
Tony’s bark of laughter was a touch hysterical.
“I don’t think I’d have the energy to get anything done.”
She hummed in agreement.
“Alright, then off to your shower with you. But then I expect to see you in the kitchen. No ditching you’re own birthday dinner!”
Clint cackled as he passed them.
“Yeah, Tony. That’s just rude. You don’t show up, I’m eating all your cake!”
Thor followed that up with some statement about defending Tony’s birthday cake, his prize for conquering another year, but Tony wasn’t listening any more.
Looking around at all of them, he realized something else, too.
"hey, could you write some arc reactor issues (idk, power issues or weather/temperature issues, just as an idea) and surprised but comforting team? That would be so cool! thank you very much ♥"
The great thing about spring was that the weather started to improve. New York wasn’t as nice as Malibu in that respect, too cold. The chill sunk into Tony’s bones, the metal of the arc reactor leaching any and all heat right out of him. Spring came as a relief, a change to finally feel warm again.
Except, of course, for when it rained.
Then the temperature dipped all over again and he was lift shaking like a leaf as his body tried to keep itself warm. He layored up long sleeves and hoodies, had special, insolated undershirts. He swathed himself in blankets to ward off the chill and spent the day drinking coffee and eating soup to fight the chill both inside and out. It wasn’t fine, exactly, but it was tolerable.
He’d looked into adding a heatsource to the arc reactor, but the risks were just too high. Too much could go wrong, and it would require carving out even more of his chest cavity than already had been. He’d pass.
Today, rain pouring in heavy sheets against the windows, it was Thor who found him first. Without a word, the god of thunder nudged Tony over on the couch and settled in behind him, letting Tony cuddle into his warmth as Thor continued to head his book.
Then it was Natasha, who settled delicately atop Tony’s feet as she stripped and cleaned a selection of weapons.
Bruce wandered through, sparing them a glance before heading to the kitchen, the sounds of soup-making drifting out. From the smell of it, Tony was guessing something spicy, maybe that Korean tofu soup that was so good.
Clint came trudging in with a blanket of his own, a fuzzy purple monstrosity that hurt Tony’s eyes to look at for too long. He settled on the ground beside where Tony sat, pressing back against him and talking loudly as he started flipping through tv channels.
Steve arrived not long after, just in time to help Bruce distribute the bowls of soup.
Tony continued to shiver faintly, but his chest definitely felt warm.
"FOUND IT!!! Blanket burrito Tony gets kidnapped!"
They’d wrapped him in a blanket to make their get away, a fucking blanket. Apparently wrapping him up like a burrito was supposed to keep him restrained because these absolute morons had forgotten to bring anything else to tie him up with. At least that’s what Tony was assuming because there wasn’t any other reason that he could think of for using a blanket at a method of restraint.
Fucking hell. What even was his life?
He wiggled inside the fabric, pushing towards the small opening that blessedly cool air was seeping in through until he was able to worm his head out from within the bundle.
“You guys do realize this is an extremely bad idea, right?”
“Shit!” one of his kidnappers, the one behind the wheel, cursed. They swerved badly before getting the truck back under control.
“I mean, I assume you know my history with kidnappings. My kidnappers? Yeah, very few of them are still alive anymore.”
“Just shut up! We don’t want to hurt you, but we will if you have to.”
Tony just rolled his eyes, wiggling around a bit more to test the give of the blanket.
“I’m just saying, you know. Due warning and all that. The Avengers are probably tracking my location as we speak. If I don’t get away on my own, they’re definitely going to find me. And let me just say, Steve takes one of us getting kidnapped really seriously.”
Honestly, after the last time with Natasha and what happened to her attempted kidnappers, Tony was surprised anyone still tried. He sighed and settled back against the floor of the truck, ready to wait this whole thing out, when he didn’t get a response.
“Alright, then. Have it your way. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though.”
"If I'm not too late? Tony wants to help Bucky get rid of the triggers, but he needs to be certain it works first. For that, he decides to prove it on himself, but he needs to have trigger words himself."
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The feeling was jarring, like being suddenly smacked upside the head. It wasn’t a physical blow, though. It was all mental, all inside, and it left Tony reeling.
Tony sucked in lungfuls of air, mind spinning. The hit wasn’t dissimilar to some of the drugs he’d tried back during college, but he knew it wouldn’t be something so easy to come back down from.
The room swam in an out of focus, making Tony grateful that he was sitting down. At least he thought he was sitting down.
It was like a livewire hitting his brain, everything suddenly alight. He gasped, all his muscles going taught.
It wasn’t like a high anymore, but like the fall. It was crash and the burning. His brain was on fire.
He might have cried out, but noise was a distant register. All he could focus on were those words.
He thought he might have fallen. There was something cool and hard pressed against the side of his face. He blinked sluggishly, realizing it wasn’t the floor. It was a hand. A metal hand.
The hand was attached to a person, a person who was shouting at him. None of the words being shouted were the right words, though. Tony didn’t pay them any mind.
Like a rush of cool water, the burning was swept away. Tony had a moment of sweet relief before that, too, was swept away.
“Ready to comply.”
For those who are interested, here is the translation for Tony’s words (yes, they’re in Italian):