Steve ran into Bucky’s back when the soldier came to an abrupt stop in front of him for seemingly no apparent reason to the blond. The sassy comment died on his lips when a moment later he too noticed the reason for the roadblock. Despite the early hour and the unusual silence of the Avengers Compound, the kitchen was filled, which wasn’t uncommon. Not after Team Captain America – as the media had dubbed his fraction of the so-called Civil War – had been pardoned due to the combined evidence of Zemo’s involvement in the Accords Bombings and Secretary Ross’s unlawful imprisonment of Team Cap in the Raft without due process.
There were still rocky relations between Team Cap and the world at large due to the Accords and their unwillingness to sign them. However, with Ross’s actions during the Civil War and his connection in creating the Abomination exposed to the world, many were calling for him to be put on trial under the very Accords he indorsed. As of yet, there weren’t any proceeding in process, but Secretary Ross had resigned his position after only a week.
In conjunction with the revelation Zemo’s had orchestrated the whole Superhero Civil War, his involvement in framing James Barnes, a POW brainwashed by Hydra for over seventy years, was also revealed. The public had sympathized with the WWII veteran but it was shaky at best with him fleeing after the bombings instead of turning himself over to the police. Nicholas Fury, having come back from the dead, worked to manage the FUBAR the Civil War had caused and called in all his markers to do so. The former Director of SHIELD was now instated as part of the oversight committee overseeing the rebuilding of SHIELD under the new Director Phil Coulson and was currently overseeing the Avenger Initiative while the Accords were amended to provided them the protection they needed.
However, in order to show a united front, the Avengers – both Team Cap and Team Iron Man – had to be seen together to demonstrate to the public there were no lingering animosity between the two fractions. The public needed to see they were working together to fixed the fracture’s the Accords had caused while the Accords were under revision. As such, Team Cap had left the safety of Wakanda’s boarders and moved back into the Avengers Compound.
That was two months ago. Since then, most of the Avengers had taken up residence in the Compound with the exception of James Rhodes and Tony Stark. The Colonel’s physical therapy kept him in New York City – receiving the best care money could buy – while Tony had been busy doing damage control on top of running his company.
Clint Barton and Scott Lang would have liked to be among the numbers living elsewhere as well. Yet Laura Barton and Maggie Lang had made it perfectly clear neither one of them were going to be allowed anywhere around their children until further noticed. Both women disappointed – which was putting it lightly – with their decision to runoff at a moments noticed without talking to them or even notifying them about the situation before leaving.
Today though? Today was different because Natasha – who might have been living at the Compound and joining them for missions but didn’t talk to either supersoldier after learning what had transpired on Siberia’s soil – was in the kitchen, cooking of all things. Vision was aiding the former Russian spy in the only way any of the Avengers allowed him to assist in cooking. He was manning the stove. While the synthetic's sense of taste wasn’t like than of a human's, his computer like mind enabled him to cook anything to perfection.
As for the corner booth - which was an authentic 40s style dinner booth - tucked away under the huge window, it was laden with various stacks of pancake while all seats were occupied. Clint and Scott – having formed a genuine camaraderie due to being kicked to the curb by the mothers of their children – seemed to be having a pancake eating contest with Sam seated between the two acting as referee. Or maybe a causal bystander who didn’t want to be caught in the middle of their warfare.
Wanda had taken the seat at the end and was listlessly picking at her plate, fidgeting uneasily. Not that Steve could blame her seeing how King T’Challa was sitting at the opposing end of the booth, calmly eating from a bowl of fruit. The Wakandan King wasn’t a normal addition to the Compound since he wasn’t an official member of the Avengers but he did stop by on occasions to talk with Natasha or have the necessary conversation with Steve and Bucky about the latter’s rehabilitation.
Things between the supersoldiers and the Black Panther had changed since the end of the Civil War. For starters, T'Challa’s goodwill towards the WWII vets due to the discovery Bucky wasn’t responsible for his father’s death was all but gone. He too was dissatisfied with their actions at the Hydra base. Even more so since Steve had told him Iron Man was well enough to make it back to civilization and he’d listened to the man. It was only thanks to Vision and FRIDAY that Tony hadn’t lost any fingers or limbs from frostbite and only had a mild form of hypothermia when the synthetic got him to a hospital.
None of which was the cause for Bucky or Steve’s reluctance to step out of the hallway and into the kitchen. What had the Winter Soldier and Captain America frozen in place was the comforter cocooning a person draped over one of the chairs at the breakfast bar. It didn’t take a genius to figure out who was wrapped up in the hotrod red comforter and due to the fact the only available seats were those at the breakfast bar, the supersoldiers’ hesitations were understandable.
Taking a deep breath, Steve worked up the courage Captain America was known for and moved around Bucky with a confidence he didn’t feel, taking the seat to Tony’s right. A second later, the brunet soldier took the chair to the left. Each of them discreetly glancing at the red cocoon, only glimpsing stray strains of dark brown hair peeking out and nothing more.
“Here,” Natasha reached across the bar and dropped two large stacks in front of the two supersoldiers with metabolisms four times faster than the regular human. She completely ignored the groan coming from the bundle in between them when the plates clattered loudly against the marble surface. The redhead pivoted around and started mixing a new batch of pancakes, this one with chocolate chips.
The two soldiers sat there, not knowing what to do. Bucky went so far as poking his pancakes with a fork before looking over the red lump at Steve. He might not have said anything out loud, but the blond could – for the first time since the sniper had been brainwashed - tell what the man was thinking with just a look.
‘Do you think they’re poisonous?’
Steve looked down at his own blueberry pancakes and over at the booth where the others were munching away before staring into dark blue eyes, one eyebrow raised. ‘Doesn’t appear to be.”
‘But she likes them. She doesn’t like me.’
‘You did shoot her.’
‘I don’t think that’s why she doesn’t like me,’ Bucky’s eyes darted to the red cocoon in between them before meeting sky blue eyes. Steve winced at the reminder that neither of them had any contact with Tony since their fight save for missions. Even then, Iron Man mainly kept up his witty comments but never spoke to Captain America or the Winter Soldier unless absolutely necessary and only when it concerned the parameters of the current crisis.
‘Just eat the damn things,’ the original supersoldier glared, sticking a fork in the top pancake and shoving the whole thing into his mouth to make a point. Regardless, Bucky waited until he swallowed and started on the second pancake before the brunet even dared to cut into his food.
Bucky’s fork clattered against the countertop as his teeth bit nothing but air. The gears in his arm whirring to life in preparation and his body tensing for attack. He wasn’t the only one startled into action, out of the corner of his eye, the Winter Soldier saw the red glow of Wanda’s powers flare to life and the two bird related Avengers reaching for some kind of weapon they stored on their person. Scott had disappeared from view, leaving behind a pile of street clothing he’d been wearing over his suit, and T’Challa didn’t even move, continuing to eat his fruit in peace.
Point in fact, Vision didn’t react either, merely flipping another pancake over before it could burn while Natasha poured out four new pancakes on the griddle. The Black Widow only glanced up when the shouting man stormed into the kitchen pointed at her.
“Yes?” the redhead quirked a single delicate eyebrow. “What can I do for you Colonel Rhodes?”
“Rhodes?” Falcon chocked, setting his gun down on the table as those around him unwound somewhat, but didn’t quite relax after the sudden outburst. “Shit man, what happened to you?”
Rhodey either ignored or didn’t seem to hear the former pararescue due to his agitation and took a step closer to Natasha. “For the life of me, I couldn’t figure it out, what kind of person in legal would tell him that?! Then it dawned on me, like the fucking needle to my neck, you were part of Stark Industry’s legal department! And you stabbed him in the neck with a needle.”
The Black Widow hummed and inclined her head. “So I did, it saved his life. Why does it matter?”
“Because! This is Tony Fucking Stark we’re talking about! He kindly informed me that his legal team set a precedence before stabbing me in the neck, injecting me with Extremis!” Rhodey waved his hand in the air, pacing back and forth before an amused redhead.
“That explains why you look like your twenty-five,” Natasha ran her eyes up and down the man appreciatively. For someone who was on the other side of fifty there wasn’t a single wrinkle or greying hair. In fact, he looked as if he’d just stepped out of the picture from his first deployment – with less military uniform and more ratty MIT sleepwear – which she’d found among Tony’s prized possessions. “And why you’re walking without your exoskeleton.”
“That isn’t the point! Tony injected me with the Extremis virus!”
“You’re not exploding, he must have fixed the glitch,” the former Russian spy pointed out as if that was all that mattered.
Taking a deep breath, Rhodey gritted his teeth. “That’s because he messed with the coding so it would heal my wounds before becoming inert. It wasn’t supposed to be the Super Soldier Serum Maya and Killian were working on.”
“I don’t really see the problem then. There is the added bonus, you don’t even have to worry about governments trying to steal your blood to recreate the serum since it's not something they'd be interested in without the supersoldier component.”
“The problem is that Tony thinks it’s acceptable to go around injecting people with questionable lifesaving chemical compounds because you did and that is not okay. He can’t do that!”
“I beg to differ,” Tony objected strolling through the kitchen as he finished fixing his cufflinks, weaving around Rhodey to take the newly plated pancakes from Vision’s hands before shoving them into the man’s chest. “Darling, eat your pancakes and quit complaining. It’s done and over with, honey-bear, move on.”
“I do not like you very much right now, darling,” the man growled. Regardless, he took the plate of food and allowed himself to be manhandled into the chair across from Bucky. Then the billionaire made a beeline towards the coffeepot. None of the members of Team Iron Man seemed to take notice that the rest of the Avengers were looking from the immaculately dressed businessman to the red cocoon huddled on the breakfast bar.
“You’ll get over it, platypus,” Tony grinned sliding down in the seat next to Rhodey while setting the two cups of coffee down on the bar. A hand from the red lump snaked out across the marble only to be smacked away. “Don’t even think about it.”
“No coffee?” a head emerged from the cocoon, giving the genius the most pitifully haggard – or was it haggardly pitiful? – expression the young boy could offer.
“No coffee for you,” the greying haired brunet confirmed, taking a sip from the steaming cup and set it down before him, well within reach of the boy yet he didn’t dare make a grab for the steaming mug as he moved the other cup towards Rhodey. “Minions don’t get coffee, especially when they’re-”
“-grounded for life. Yeah, yeah, I heard you the first million times,” the teenager yawned, rested his head upon one fisted had and staring longingly at the coffee.
“I’d say you’re exaggerating, but I know you’re not,” another boy around the same age as the first strolled through the hallway wearing an AC/DC shirt and hoped onto the stool next to Tony. “Morning Mechanic, Rhodey.”
“Morning Minion, where’s the last one of you?”
“Right here,” a woman somewhere in her twenties wearing nothing more than jersey down to her knees with the #02 and War Machine printed across the back came around the corner.
“Tony, my sister is not one of your minions. You’re not allowed minions, I distinctly remember telling you, you couldn’t have minions. Why is my sister apart of the minions you’re not supposed to have?” Rhodey groaned as the woman with hazelnut colored skin kissed him on the cheek.
“Jamie, I’m offended you would even think I’m one of Tony’s minions!” the woman, who was apparently Rhodey’s sister, said affronted.
“Oh, thank the lord,” the man let out a huge sigh of relief.
“I’ve been promoted to Henchgirl!”
The two boys snorted while Tony smiled brightly as the woman kissed him on the cheek too. “That’s right, R2 is my Henchgirl and you can’t take my two minions away from me, I’ve got paperwork to prevent that.”
“I’ll defect for coffee.”
Rhodey sent the boy between the supersoldiers a withering glare. “Yeah, no. I agree with Tones, you’re ground for life.”
“How does that equal no coffee?”
“Because it seems to be the only way to get through to thickheaded geniuses types. You are in trouble for the stunt you pulled and I’m inclined to agree with them too, Peter,” R2 took the second cup of coffee and sat herself in her brother’s lap.
“Not you too! You’re supposed to be on my side,” Peter sighed, head falling on his folded hands.
“For the record, I’m on whoever’s side that offers me the better deal,” the other brunet, wearing the AC/DC shirt spoke up, attentively watching the byplay between the others with unholy glee.
“I’ll give you those photos I took at last year’s Christmas part,” R2 smirked around the lip of her coffee cup.
“Sold! To Rhodey Mark II,” the kid immediately jumped at the offer.
“I’ll remember this Harley, just you wait.”
“Sorry, Pete, but those pics don’t need to see the light of day…ever,” Harley stressed, giving Peter a deadpanned stare only to change his face to the patented Stark Smile Gala Version E. “So, what can I do for you, R2?”
“Hmm,” R2 tapped the side of her face with a finger, a smile slowly spreading across her face. “Well, seeing how Tones is single again and big brother hasn’t had a date since forever, I say we hook them up together.”
Rhodey did the manly thing of chocking on his pancake. “Say what?!”
Tony, on the other hand, merely raised an eyebrow and took another sip of his coffee. “I thought you were going to try to set him up with that newly promoted captain, Danvers was it?”
R2, ignoring her brother yanking the cup of coffee out of her hand to wash down his food, wrinkled her nose. “You’re right,” she let a rather despondent sigh, placing her chin on her hand and tilting her to the side as she stared at Tony. “What do you think of a threesome?”
“I’m always up for a threesome,” the playboy gave a lewd smile as both teenager boys groaned and Rhodey tilted his head back, seemingly asking the ceiling why he wasn’t dropping dead right then and there.
“If you two don’t knock it out, you’ll give Rhodey a heart attack despite his new lease on life,” Natasha pointed out, placing the rest of the chocolate chip pancakes in front of Peter and Harley who looked like they were whishing the floor would open up and swallow them to keep from hearing anymore about anyone’s sex life.
“Ooh! Chocolate! Thanks Tasha!” Harley grinned, having completely forgotten about the previous topic and his mortification in the presences of food.
“Thank you for the distraction, I do not need to hear about my dad having a threesome with his best friend and Carol Danvers,” Peter groaned, taking the can of whipped cream Tony held out to him and spraying a mountain of white on top before exchanging it with the chocolate syrup Harley finished layering his food with.
“You’re welcome, but you’re still grounded.”
“I hate my life.”
“Then you won’t mind me taking these then,” Harley grinned, standing up on his stool, stretching across the breakfast bar and snagging the other teen’s pancakes.
Faster than the eye could see, Peter snatched his food back and into the safety of his arms. “Don’t you dare, I’ll string you up by your ankles if you take away my food.”
“Really now? Wouldn’t-”
“Boys,” Tony interrupted the brotherly fight, “play nice and eat your own breakfasts. You have school in-” the billionaire turned his wrist to glance at his watch.
“Fifty-seven minutes,” Vision filled in for his creator as he handed a plate to R2 and another to Natasha who took Tony’s seat when he got up.
“-and Happy will be here in half an hour. I have a meeting in-” the businessman filled his cup of coffee, making another one which was passed along to Natasha.
“-forty-three minutes,” the Black Widow accepted the cup, smiling when Tony quirked his eyebrow at her knowledge of his schedule.
“-with T’Challa and a few dozen of our closet Accords friends,” the sarcasm in his voice was impossible to miss, “and I don’t expect them to let us escape until well after dark-”
“So go straight home,” the two teenagers parroted.
“-Rhodey Mark II, keep an eye on Rhodey Mark I, Extremis should have finished running all repairs last night, but he’ll need plenty of food and sleep to keep his body from canalizing itself.”
R2 shoved a piece of pancake into her brother’s mouth to keep him quiet. “Got it. Feed big brother Jamie and then put him to bed. Arguing won’t be tolerated, Doctor’s orders.”
“You’re not a doctor yet,” War Machine glared when he finally swallowed.
“Three weeks, five days, twelve hours, and then it will be official.”
“And we’ll throw you a hell of a party then, in the meantime, I’ve got to get going or else I’ll be late. You ready, nekomata?”
“Indeed,” the king gracefully stood up, not batting an eye at the nickname thrown his way.
“Great, boys, have a good day. Blow up a science lab or something, just don’t go chasing down international fugitives or-”
“We’ll be grounded for life.”
“-correct! Rhodeys, take care of each other. Tasha, thanks for all your help with Operation Rhodeys 2.0 Mark I-”
“Wait! You helped this asshole inject me with Extremis?!”
“And that’s my cue to leave,” Tony make his way out of the door even as a helicopter touched down across the Compound lawn.
“Ms. Romanova, thank you for the wonderful breakfast,” T’Challa expressed his gratitude, giving her a slight incline of his head, “and I appreciate your hospitality for the duration of my stay. I shall try to stop by before I depart for Wakanda if possible. If not, it was a pleasure seeing you again. Farewell, Fair Widow.”
There was a collective bids of farewell from the various remaining people in the kitchen before the king departed.
“Okay, what the fuck is going on? And who the hell are you people?” Scott sudden outburst coincided with him regaining his true size. Rhodey, both of them, looked up to stare straight at the ex-criminal due to his outburst while the two teenage brunets continued to eat their breakfast in bliss.
“I think we established Operation Rhodeys 2.0 Mark I implementation and success,” R2 said slowly as if she was speaking to a child.
“I can’t believe there was a codename for it. Wait, Starks were involved, of course you had a codename for it,” Rhodey shook his head, familiar with his best friend’s eccentricities.
“Jamie, be quiet,” the young woman shoved her elbow into her brother’s side. “For your second question, I’m the prettier Rhodes, Roberta but everyone calls me Rhodey thanks to Tones insisting I’m Rhodey Mark II or R2 to those that know this lug over there. There ya got Harley Keener-”
“Are there any pancakes left?”
“-and that’s Peter Parker.”
“Grounded for life.”
“They’re Stark’s boys,” Natasha passed a plate of pancakes to Harley, but half of them were speared by Peter’s fork.
“Stark procreated?” Wanda raised an eyebrow. “I’d thought that’d make the news.”
“Just because the media says something doesn’t make it true,” Peter turned to glare at Wanda, not at all bothered by the fact that she had powers and he was a just regular human. “But in this case, Tony was my godfather who took me in after my parents were murdered.”
“Same, my dad walked out on me, left me with his newest fling and her kid. Couple years later, I met Tony and when the lady I was living with died from cancer, her family took in her daughter while Tony came for me.”
“They may not be Tony’s kids by blood, but they’re definitely his boys,” the Black Widow hummed, polishing off her food. “I’d advise you not to question that, because you think he was angry after finding out his parents were murdered? That would be nothing in comparison to how pissed he’d be after.”
Both Harley and Peter nodded their heads in agreement as they stood up, “And if any of you ever hurt him again, not even God will save you from our revenge.”
“That goes double for us Rhodes,” R2 cheerfully stated. “Now if you excuse us, I’ve got two nephews to get ready for school and one older brother to force into bed. Come along minions, it’s time for us to go.”