“I’m just so worried about him,” Pepper said, her voice wavering. “I’ve never seen him so distracted, I- I don’t think he can handle this alone anymore.” Bruce clasped her hand reassuringly.
“You did the right thing by telling us,” He said.
“We should inform the rest of the team.” Steve said, standing from his seat.
“Oh,” Pepper’s eyebrows furrowed. “I don’t think Tony would want everybody to know about this.”
“All of the Avengers care about Tony deeply, Ms. Potts,” Steve said gently. “I think it would really help him if he saw that we were all there to support him.”
Pepper sniffed, and then nodded slowly.
“Call Coulson while you’re at it,” Bruce called after as Steve left the room. “He watches Celebrity Rehab, right?”
“Whoa.” Tony walked into the living room to find all of the Avengers, plus Pepper and Coulson staring at him. They were all sitting on the couches, sharing paper plates of cookies. Tony’s eyes skittered from one face to another, a sense of dawning doom settling upon him as they returned identical grim expressions. “Shit. This is either the lamest belated birthday party ever, or an-“
“Intervention!” Clint sang, throwing a handful of shredded napkin in Tony’s face. Coulson glared at him until he wilted back into his seat, muttering, “You should have let me have the banner.”
“Tony.” Coulson cleared his throat as he opened a small notebook and began to read from the first page, his voice dry and awkwardly monotone. “We, your friends and colleagues, have gathered here today because your health and well-being is very important to us.”
“Seriously?” Tony threw up his hands, backing away from the room. Steve stood up and firmly escorted him to an ottoman which was surrounded by all of the couches, pushing him down into a sitting position and then standing guard over it.
“Today we would like,” Coulson flipped the page, “To engage you in a discussion about your risk-taking behavior of choice and how it has affected our relationships with you. We hope that we will be the reasons that motivate you to seek the help you need.”
“Guys, I know, this is really flattering. No one’s ever cared enough to stage an intervention before. But seriously-“
“My name is Phil Coulson and I will be moderating this intervention today.”
“I know who you are, Coulson.”
“My qualifications,” Coulson continued, undeterred, “Include five years acting as the handler of Agents Barton and Romanov as well as three years babysitting the Avengers. As a moderator, I will be an impartial guide along your journey to recovery.”
Everyone gave Coulson polite golf claps as he took his seat and Pepper stood from hers, straightening her skirt. She unfolded a piece of printer paper.
“Aw, Pep,” Tony begged, “This is about the drinking, isn’t it? I’ve cut back, I swear. Three a day, which is very normal nowadays. Okay, more for special occasions, but com’on, you can’t expect to drag me to a fundraiser and not drown my boredom in champagne. Also after saving the world, because I fucking deserve it. And on Tuesdays. Because they suck. But that’s all-” Steve clapped a hand over Tony’s mouth, earning a baleful glare and a mumble mumble that might have been a threat to lick.
“Tony Stark,” Pepper looked down at her paper, reading with a determined voice. Everyone in the room leaned forward to hear her speak. “I have known you for seven years, and loved you first as a friend and then a partner, and then thankfully a friend again. I have seen you proud, humble, brilliant and in pain, and never have I made a request as important as the one I’m making now. ” She looked up to meet Tony’s eyes, which were bewildered and hurt. “Tony, please stop having sex with robots.”
“Ah!” Steve yelped, pulling his hand away. “He bit me!”
“What!” Tony exclaimed.
Natasha cut in matter-of-factly, “One, you lock yourself for hours, sometimes days in your workshop, returning with scratches, burns and bruises in suspicious locations. Two, both Steve and Clint have admitted to hearing you groaning and calling out pet names when there is no one else in the room. And three, you’ve been having trouble sitting down for days.”
“It’s okay, Tony.” Pepper put a hand on his wrist. “You don’t have to hide anymore.”
“You guys …” Tony looked around frantically, “You think …” To everyone’s surprise; Tony slapped his hands over his face and began sobbing, his entire body shaking. Steve was the first to react, sinking down to put his arm reassuringly across Tony’s quivering shoulders.
“Tony,” Coulson said, “This is good. This is what we’re all here for.”
One by one, the Avengers read their intervention letters.
Steve started carefully, “I don’t know very much about this sexual fetish because, well, we didn’t talk about this kind of thing in the forties. Also there were no robots. But I hope you don’t feel that this meeting is attacking you for your sexual preferences, because the SHIELD sexual harassment seminar I went to said that that’s a bad thing to do. So I’ll just say that we all wish that you are safer, and quieter, in your activities in the future. Thank you.”
“Robots can’t give consent, Tony.” Natasha said, “You’re a robot rapist.”
“I just … can’t look the Mark VI in the eye anymore,” Bruce said helplessly.
Clint shook his head, “Please God tell me you’ve stayed away from the kitchen appliances.
“I have composed a ballad for this occasion!” Thor announced, because no one had been able to convince him that this wasn’t a storytelling competition. “It is called, Of how the Man of Iron did grapple with his desire for metal flesh.”
Afterwards, everyone sat around and chatted until the cookies were finished. After the others had drifted back to their rooms, Tony stretched out on the sofa and called, “Jarvis?”
“I’m not talking to you, Sir,” Jarvis’ voice was as miffed as a technically unemotional AI could be. “Now they all think I’m a loose woman.”
“Oh. You guys got a banner.” Bruce said as he walked into the living room.
“I made it!” Clint said excitedly, by which he meant that Steve had made it and Clint had drawn penises all over.
“Can an omelet bar be the next addition?” Darcy asked.
“Totally feasible,” Tony assured her, “Only the best for Bruce’s mental health.”
“Okay,” Bruce said, sitting down good-naturedly. “What’s this about?”
“Can I go first this time? I’ll go first this time.” Steve stood, unfolding his paper. “As team leader, I know how important it is for you, everyone around you, and also the city of Manhattan that the Hulk is kept under control. However, I also cannot condone the use of the illicit substances you keep in the tea canister.” Coulson handed Steve the container, which was made of aluminum.
“Wait,” Bruce said slowly. “Tea? I keep tea in the tea canister.”
Steve shot him a pitying look. “Whatever you want to call it, Bruce. Hash, weed, Mary Jane, cabbage, schwag, grass … we all know what it is.”
“I … think that it would be best for Bruce’s sake if I confiscated that.” Darcy said, reaching for the canister.
“I know it’s hard,” Steve said earnestly, looking into Bruce’s eyes. “And sometimes we want to take the easy way out. But anything worth having is worth fighting for.” In the back, Coulson could be seen wiping his eyes.
“Thanks.” Bruce said flatly, snatching his tea canister from Darcy’s hands. “But if you don’t mind, I’m going to go seep some marijuana in boiling water and drink it before everything starts to look smashable.”
“Remember, we’re always here for you!” Steve called after Bruce’s retreating back.
“I was not able to recite my ballad.” Thor said mournfully.
The next time, they had an omelet bar, champagne and a banner without penises on it. Also, Jane Foster was there. Thor seemed delighted when he stepped into the room and everyone toasted him with a jubilant, “Intervention!”
“Intervention!” He boomed back, accepting a flute from a Natasha, drinking it in one gulp, and then throwing it on the floor, where it bounced because of the carpet. Eagerly, he took his position on the recently-dubbed Ottoman of Personal Responsibility. “Friends, what faults of mine have you encountered, which you wish to berade me for?”
“Oooh, me me me!” Clint pushed forward until he stood in front of Thor. As everyone peacefully munched on their omelets, Clint made a dramatic production of unfolding his letter, straightening his clothes (white t-shirt and pajama pants) and clearing his throat. “Ladies and gentlemen of SHIELD, the Avengers Initiative, Stark Industries, and Foster Laboratories.” Jane waved excitedly at Thor from her position next to Darcy. “We are all here today to stage an intervention because our friend, Thor Odinson, is travelling down a dark and dangerous path.”
“Amen!” Tony raised his glass.
“His obsession, nay, his addiction, has changed him from a strong, vivacious man into a haunted being.”
Steve and Jane nodded along, and even Thor seemed abashed. Clint paused, closing his eyes and taking a deep, dramatic breath. In the silence, Coulson’s voice could be heard at the omelet bar, ordering green peppers, onions and American cheese.
“I’m talking,” Clint said, staring into Thor’s eyes, “About your relationship with Poptarts.”
“Wait.” Tony cut in abruptly. “Wait. Wait. Wait. I thought we agreed to intervention him about his brother complex.”
“Loki?” Thor stood abruptly.
“Sit down, big guy,” Clint swatted Thor on the pec, clearly irritated at being stood up. “Dude, Tony, we agreed at the pre-intervention meeting that we were doing Poptarts! Everyone wrote Poptart-based monologues.”
“Actually …” Jane said sheepishly.
“What?” Clint exclaimed. “Is this crack for real? Whoall wrote their monologues about Loki?”
Tony, Darcy, Bruce and Coulson raised their hands.
“Okay guys, easy fix.” Tony gestured with his fork. “We’ll do this thing in shifts. Half of us will lecture Thor on his uncomfortably close and possibly incestuous relationship with his brother, while the others eat, mingle. Then when they’re done, the other half can talk about how Thor is ruining his life with sugary breakfasts. Ready? Break.”
Due to space and flexibility constraints, only Natasha was able to show up for Clint’s intervention. The others waited outside the vents, tooting their support on party horns and snacking on the chocolate fountain that had been set up in the living room.
“You knew it would come to this.” Natasha said to Clint, taking out the fifth letter from her belt, which was from Pepper.
“No!” Clint wailed, curling his body around the big pile of clothing which lined the shadowy corner Clint had claimed for his nest. “You know I can stop anytime I want!”
“Although I do not mind you taking my nightgown,” Natasha read from Pepper’s letter, “If I find, Clint Barton, that you had anything to do with the disappearance of my Jimmy Choos, I will cut you. Master assassin or not, I will cut you.”
Clint didn’t answer, burrowing down into the clothing pile until his entire body was out of view.
“I think everyone is flattered, actually, that you value us so highly as to include us in your safe place,” Natasha read from Bruce’s letter, “However, I have it on reasonable estimation your ‘nest’ hasn’t been laundered in three months. Do remember that it is in an air vent.”
A muffled sound of protest came from the shaking pile of clothing.
“Please return my underwear.” Natasha read from Steve’s letter.
Everyone showed up for Steve’s intervention. Somehow Fury had found out about it through Maria Hill, Erik Selvig had popped up from his lab, and even their friendly neighborhood Spiderman was chilling on the patio, munching a hot dog with his facemask pulled halfway up.
“Steve,” Darcy said, not even pretending to read from a letter, “I know you look awesome for your age and all. But you can only use the I’ve-been-trapped-in-ice-for-seventy-years excuse for so long.” She put her hand on her hip. “It’s time to say it, Steve.” Everyone clapped.
“What?” Steve’s face flushed, and the cup in his hands crumpled a little, lemonade and ice coming dangerously close to spilling over. “I’ve said it before.”
“No,” Darcy said patiently, “You’ve said ‘relations’, and ‘lay with’, and, on one memorable occasion, ‘nookie’.”
Steve clenched his jaw, his eyes darting around the large group of people. “I can’t, Darcy, not in front of-“
“If you say ladies, so help me God, I’m going to come over there and forcefully ruffle your hair.” Darcy smiled.
Steve continued to shake his head mutely, his blush rising up to his ears.
“Okay,” Darcy sighed, “Here’s what’s going to happen. Everyone at this intervention has a dirty word. Which they will continue repeating until you say it back to them.” She held a flashcard up. “Mine is fuck.”
Steve bit his lip.
Someone in the background, probably Coulson, started chanting Steve’s name. A few other’s joined in.
“Fuck.” Darcy said patiently.
Steve sighed as the chanting grew louder. “F …”
“For Christ’s sake, I’m a grown man.” Steve said irritably. “I can say f …” He gritted his teeth. “F…” Everyone held their breath. “F – fondue!”
Loki laughed. “And so they believed that you were laying with your metal creatures?”
“Well, I was apparently making sex noises alone in my workroom and coming out with bruises.” Tony said, grinding Loki into the wall as he unclasped a belt from around his waist. Two down, sixteen more to go. “Fuck, why can’t you just bibbidy boppidy boo your way out of your clothes?”
“Anything worth having is worth fighting for,” Loki purred, fisting his fingers in Tony’s hair as he dragged them the direction of the living room.
“Wonder where you got that from.” Tony muttered, as he snapped on the light.
“Intervention!” About twenty people jumped out, screaming. Loki flailed wildly and would have turned everyone into jumper cables if it wasn’t for Tony latching onto him for dear life.
The banner was green this time, and it read Loki’s Bad Life Decision: Sleeping With Tony Stark???. There was a penis in the upper right corner.
“Oh no.” Tony deadpanned. “Loki. Our torrid love affair has been discovered.”
“You planned this!” Loki whirled angrily on Tony.
Tony shrugged sheepishly. “Jarvis wanted his name cleared.” He threw an arm around Loki’s shoulder. “And besides, isn’t it nice to see how much everyone cares about your mental health and well-being?”
Thor stood, “Brother, I have a ballad prepared for this occasion. ‘Tis called, Look at thy life, look at thy choices.”