“We could go and check out that superhero team that Mycroft mentioned...Sherlock, don’t give me that look, you wouldn’t really be helping him out, I’m sure he only spoke to that Fury guy to get you out of the country for a bit.”
Sherlock continued to glare at him. “Why would he want to do that?”
“Possibly because even Mycroft couldn’t deal with the fallout if you don’t get a case for much longer. You’ve already insulted everyone in a three mile radius, destroyed a wall in Scotland Yard and don’t get me started on the incident with my jumper and the poison darts.”
“But they’ll be so boring, John, all focused on saving the world.”
“Do you know anything about them? At all?” questioned John, knowing the answer.
“Of course not. I don’t keep up to date with such trivial things.”
“You’ll be in for a surprise, then,” John smirked. “I’ve seen their press footage.”
“Who says I’m going?” Sherlock protested, although the lack of effort of his part suggested otherwise.
“A bunch of outcasts to analyse and insult? I’m shocked you’ve even bothered to talk for this long.”
Sherlock smirked, seeming almost proud of John for his statement. “Pack a bag. Our flight’s in six hours.”
- - -
John stared up at the tower in awe. Sherlock was less impressed, striding towards the door purposefully. The SHIELD agent who’d driven them there had coped with the detective remarkably well, merely chuckling when he was told his own life story thanks to the hem of his jacket and one throwaway gesture. He’d gone on to explain that SHIELD had dealt with much worse. Like the time Tony had bet Clint he couldn’t use the newly rigged paint arrows to write offensive messages on all the corridors of the Helicarrier.
“John.” The familiar voice cut into John’s amazement at the huge, ostentatious building that screamed ‘all the Avengers live here’. Maybe it was easier to let the bad guys know where to attack, he wondered as he automatically hurried to catch up with Sherlock, who was waiting for him impatiently. Fury and Mycroft had apparently agreed on a clause that the neither of the pair weren’t allowed to wander off alone. Sherlock had taken this as permission to call John’s name every time he wasn’t alongside him.
They had only been waiting in the shiny, just as over the top lobby about thirty seconds when a woman strode out of the elevator door and over to them.
“Hello, I’m Pepper Potts, CEO of Stark Industries, and you must be Sherlock Holmes and John Watson,” she smiled. Sherlock opened his mouth. “Before you ask, no, my duties don’t normally include welcoming the Avengers’ guests, but considering that they were daring each other to greet you in the most shocking way, I thought this would be best.”
John still had the awed expression on his face, but Sherlock was finally looking interested, or as interested as he could look when there was no case to be solved. They followed her into the elevator, one that could only be opened by entering some kind of password.
“JARVIS, where are the Avengers?” Pepper questioned, apparently to the walls.
“They are currently all residing in the largest living room, Ms Potts. I believe they are waiting for their guests.”
Whilst John gaped at the British voice that had replied to her from nowhere, Sherlock was up to his usual tricks.
“You started as Mr Stark’s secretary and are now CEO.” Sherlock looked almost impressed, although he would have denied it. “You also dated him, although you broke up over a year ago. Still on good terms, it’s a lot easier for you this way.”
Pepper nodded. “I would congratulate you, but you’ve deduced things the press have known for years.” John laughed loudly.
Sherlock scowled. “I don’t waste my time reading about that sort of trivial matter.”
“Well, this should be an interesting experience then. Do you know anything about them?” inquired Pepper, her smile widening.
“No, he doesn’t,” John cut in, finally getting over the building enough to speak. “Apparently his idea of fun was the chance to go and work out everything about them. It’s a strange sort of holiday.”
“Says the man who was rendered mute by a large building and an artificial intelligence in a lift,” muttered Sherlock, smirking slightly. He looked at Pepper. “In an elevator,” he amended.
Pepper looked at John. “Good luck.” He nodded, a mixture of thanks, exasperation and resignation.
- - -
“Guys, we don’t really want to scare them away before they’ve been here five minutes,” Steve sounded exasperated, although he didn’t bother doing anything to remedy the situation. Clint was sitting on top of the bar and had already thrown a glass that had flown two inches above Tony’s head and smashed against the wall behind, Thor was laying across the floor and complaining loudly about Midgardian architecture and Bruce had stolen all the cushions in the room to make a pillow fort in order to avoid Clint and Tony.
“What are they even fighting about?” Steve asked Natasha, who was perched on the arm of the sofa, watching everything with one amused eyebrow raised. He’d been busy trying to decide what to change the background on the new tablet Tony had given him to; sometimes he wished Tony wouldn’t give him every prototype he invented and would let him keep a piece of tech for more than a month or two.
“They’re not,” she replied simply. “They’re bonding. If they were fighting that glass would have hit him.”
The sound of the elevator made Tony jerk around and Bruce peer out from over his cushion wall.
“...unnecessarily antagonize them,” Pepper concluded as she walked out, Sherlock and John following her.
“I can’t promise anything,” Sherlock said solemnly. John had reverted back to staring, this time at the chaos that confronted them.
“Wow,” he muttered quietly.
“I knew the elevator shouldn’t open straight onto the living room,” Pepper said to herself. “People should have the choice to not be greeted by...whatever this is.”
Sherlock’s eyes were darting around the room, motivated by an overload of data that he was positively drinking in. John paused, realizing that any pleasantries would be up to him, as they usually were.
“Hi,” he waved cheerfully, clearly trying not to focus on any one aspect of the scene but rather take it all in at once. Steve stood up, ready to take his place as leader and the person least involved in the craziness going on at that moment.
“Doctor John Watson, right? Nice to meet you, I’m-”
John cut him off, in an awestruck voice. “Captain America…”
“Yeah, and this is the team. Sorry about...them. We knew you were coming. It’s just hard to avoid chaos here really.” Steve smiled apologetically.
“It’s fine,” reassured John as he gave his own apologetic smile in return. “I brought another unstable person to add to the mix, I should be saying sorry as well.” John had read the news reports and the internet profiles, so he knew all about the team. He was finding it hard not to be rendered mute by the fact that he was talking to a guy who’d fought in World War II like it was a few years ago. In a room where he was the most ordinary person by a million miles, and he helped someone solve crimes for fun.
“Hope JARVIS didn’t freak you out,” Tony said in a voice that suggested he hoped the opposite, as he walked across the room. Steve rolled his eyes at the apparent greeting.
“No, although Sherlock worked out what it was in an instant, so it wasn’t too bad,” John retorted, waiting for the inevitable. It seemed everybody was, as they were all staring in the direct of Tony. He didn’t disappoint.
“Sherlock Holmes? The genius consulting detective? Lovely to see you, what murders have we committed?” Tony exclaimed loudly as he stepped towards the other visitor.
“I assume this elaborate excuse for a house is yours, am I correct? Are you making up for your obviously inferior intellect, or your height?” Sherlock drawled, accepting the challenge.
“Let’s go meet the others,” Steve muttered to John. “They’ll be ages yet.”
- - -
A few hours later, John was playing Mario Kart Wii with Thor and Natasha, still in a haze about what was going on. Natasha kept glancing over her shoulder, as she was fully aware what was going on behind her, unlike the other two. Clint and Tony had discovered that Sherlock had known next to nothing about the Avengers before he came, didn’t bother himself with such useless information, so were trying to make him annoy Bruce enough for him to hulk out. Steve was keeping an eye on them, but half-heartedly because he knew that it would take more than one consulting detective to make Bruce lose control. Also, Sherlock was annoying the two of them way more than Bruce.
“You two have more issues between you than a small country’s population combined,” the detective pointed out. “And I can tell that from your haircut and, well, your whole life.” He gestured at Clint and then Tony, the latter of whom grinned widely at this.
“Glad to hear you disapprove, Mr I Obviously Should Never Try and Deduce Anything About My Own Mental State.” John jerked his head around at this line, causing his kart to flail wildly across the screen.
“I’m sorry, has Sherlock met his match?” John interrupted.
Bruce nodded. “The combined wit and observation powers of Hawkeye and the Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist here seem to be keeping him at bay.”
“I will never live that name down, will I?” muttered Tony. “One retort in the heat of the moment ages ago and it will forever haunt me. It’s not like ‘playboy’ is even that true anymore, it’s not easy to invite anyone back on some slick pretense when you have to apologize for the crazy superheroes when they walk in. ‘Yeah, Thor’s naked, he does that, and ignore Captain America polishing his shield in a tight shirt.’ I must stop living with hunky living legends and Norse gods.”
“Did you just use the word ‘hunky’ in a serious sentence?” Clint asked with a grin.
“See,” Natasha turned to John. “Sherlock has no chance against conversations like these. He may annoy them with a comment or two, but they’ll quickly find something crazier to worry about.”
“I don’t know what I expected to find here. Less insanity, maybe?” Natasha smiled at that. “Sherlock likes being the centre of attention, although he won’t admit it often. He’ll be over here soon. Oops, the race,” John added as he looked at the screen.
“Don’t worry, I won,” Natasha declared. “Thor got distracted by the Wii remote Tony modified to shout creatively explicit insults at you if you’re not winning at the game in question.” John stared at her in disbelief. “He upgrades everything. It’s something you get used to worryingly quickly.”
As John had predicted, seconds later Sherlock threw himself down on the sofa next to him. “John, I can’t think in these conditions.”
“‘John, they won’t play nicely with me’,” his flatmate mocked. “‘They aren’t impressed when I tell them personal details that I worked out from their sleeves.’ Of course not, Sherlock. One, they live with, encounter, and in some cases actually are, professionally trained agents who have pretty decent powers of observation on their own, and two, they are icons who are in the news constantly, the public already knows plenty about them. Most of America could tell you a thing or two about Tony Stark’s issues.”
Everyone had gone quiet to listen to John’s rant. Sherlock was staring at him, somewhat confused, like a child who’d expected to be consoled and instead was told off. Steve was whispering under his breath ‘yes Tony, he’s right’ and Clint was silently applauding. For the first time since they’d arrived, it was quiet. Sherlock was considering how not to appear speechless at such a lack of solidarity.
“But we don’t even know why we’re here,” he whined.
“You don’t?” all of the Avengers seemed to chime in simultaneously.
“Of course not,” Sherlock replied in his usual derisive tone.
“I thought Mycroft might just want Sherlock to do his deduction thing to you lot,” John elaborated. “For government reasons or something. Or would tell us more when we got here. At least, I assumed there would be some excuse for us turning up.”
“Maybe he thought we might like guests,” suggested Bruce dryly.
“I considered all those options,” Sherlock stated. “But if he just wanted me to find out secrets about them, he would have said. There would be no need to be mysterious. If he was going to reveal some mission once we arrived, he would have done it when we arrived. Mycroft has the resources to know where we are. It doesn’t make sense.”
“What did he actually say?” asked Steve. They were all getting engrossed in the mystery.
“He told us to pay a visit to the superhero team in New York when we had the time. He said ‘the Avengers are interesting’, but not much else. Obviously, he knew that would mean nothing to Sherlock,” supplied John.
“Mycroft is infuriating,” muttered Sherlock angrily.
“Still, you’re here now,” proclaimed Tony, standing up with his arms spread wide, before putting on a high pitched voice. “Welcome to your vacation with the Avengers. We take no responsibility for injury or death as a result of alien attacks, evil villain plots or anything other strange threat. Would you like one room or two? Or maybe a third for Nancy Drew’s ego.”
“Two please,” said John, trying and failing not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the invitation and the situation in general. He was going to wait and see whether it was Sherlock or one of the Avengers who cracked first and went entirely insane.
- - -
Back in London, Mycroft chuckled. “I hope it’s going well,” he smiled to the person on the other end of the video call.
“I’m assured it is,” replied Nick Fury, looking at Mycroft through his one eye. “Apparently Ms Potts thought their expressions when they first met the Avengers were priceless.”
“Good, Scotland Yard were begging me to find a way to take Sherlock down a peg or two. It seems I found the solution. Thanks Nick.”
“As long as he annoys the hell out of Stark in the process, I’m happy.” Fury’s smile was almost sinister. “Goodbye Mycroft.”
As Mycroft ended the call, he chucked again to himself. Who’d have thought he’d manage to find a match for Sherlock’s level of annoyance?