Steve's actually the one to come up with the idea, mainly because Tony's fidgeting is driving him up the wall.
"Why don't we play a game?"
Everyone turns in unison to look at him like he's sprouted a second head.
"What?" Steve shrugs, squirming a little under the scrutiny. "Just tryin' to break the ice, s'all..."
"I say we give it a shot." Sam steps forward, raising his right hand from where it'd been crossed casually over his chest. "I mean, what the hell? We've got some down time, might as well try some team building."
"I do not recall ever playing a... 'game'." Vision muses, to no one's surprise.
Wanda shifts in her seat, flipping her legs down from where they'd rested on the couch and planting her feet on the floor, looking eager. "I'd like to do something like that, yeah."
Steve smiles warmly at the three of them, then glances up at Tony, one brow quirked in a question and his eyes glinting. Tony tries glaring at him, but he can't quite keep the act up. With a huff and a dramatic slap of his palms against his thighs, Tony relents with a loud, "Fine!"
"Fine what?" Bucky appears in the doorway and the occupants of the room visibly stiffen.
Steve turns with a smile now slightly forced. "We're going to play a game."
"A game?" Bucky blinks, then frowns as if he'd misheard Steve.
"Yes, Barnes, a game. Ever heard of a little thing called fun?" Tony tips his head indignantly and Steve shuffles a little. Tony and Bucky have been at each other's throats since Bucky'd been brought to the complex. No actual, physical scraps- but the harsh words and cold shoulders are nearly just as painful. Steve's tried being a mediator in their stubborn little war, but it hasn't seemed to really do the trick. Both men are hard-headed and egotistical, and entirely intolerant of each other.
Steve's sure it's just a faze; that the two of them are testing each other, sussing the other out. Soon they'll settle in and things will go a little smoother.
It's not like Tony's the only one who's had trouble adjusting to Bucky's presence. Sam's still bitter about a few run-in's with the Winter Soldier not so long ago and, despite accepting Steve's assurances that that wasn't Buck, he still took a while to warm up to the super soldier. They have a fairly comfortable relationship now, if not a little love-hate. Steve likes that just fine; their radio-chat banter during missions keeps the situation light. They're both two of his closest friends, people he loves and trusts, and he's fine with whatever compromise they come to. He doesn't mention it- and neither do they- but part of the reason they're able to find that middle ground might just be their relationship with Rogers; both understand how much the other means to Steve, and neither want to hurt him. So, they've found a way to get along. And it works, for the most part.
Tony and Buck aren't quite there yet.
Steve thinks it might be a case of worse-before-better. As long as he's there to help contain things when the 'worse' hits, he's decided he may just have to let things run their course.
He's tried pushing Bucky into a box, cookie-cutter him and squish him into the mould of the man he once was- the friend Steve once knew. He's not quite James Barnes, but he's certainly not the Winter Soldier anymore, either. Steve's had to adjust as much as anyone to Bucky's person, to who he is now, and who he is to them. Bucky's still gravitated more towards him than anyone. He finds familiarity in Steve, that much is clear, but he's still on the road to (re)discovery. Things aren't what they once were, but Steve'll take what he can get. Bucky's still his best friend, and he still loves him. He just hopes the others can learn to love him too, in their own way.
"Yeah, I know fun, Stark. Wasn't born yesterday." Bucky bites back, striding over to Steve and taking a seat beside him on the tight leather couch. "So what're we playing?"
It occurs to Steve that they haven't actually decided.
Steve shrugs his lips. "I dunno," He glances around at the room. "Any suggestions?"
He's met with various indecisive answers.
"What about a classic?" Stark suggests, getting up and moving with purpose towards the large television and muttering a few orders to the computer.
Steve perks up. "A classic?"
"Yeah..." Tony's reply is quiet, distracted. There's a moments pause and then more screens line the walls, all them brightening with life, colourful images flashing with loud, upbeat music accompanying them. "Ha!" Tony claps his hands together and rubs them, looking a little too giddy for a man his age.
"Is this..." Clint shakes his head and Steve startles a little. He'd forgotten Barton was even still there. He vaguely remembers the archer collapsing in the common area a few nights prior and loudly announcing something about staying a bit before promptly passing out on one of Tony's uncomfortable minimalist chairs.
"It is." Tony nods with a glint in his eye. He passes around the room, distributing shiny white remotes to each team member.
"This isn't a classic." Steve mumbles, a little disappointed. When Stark said classic, he thought he meant dice or cards or marbles, or something actually classic.
"Sure it is." Tony grins over his shoulder. "Just not for you, gramps."
"Mario Kart." Natasha says monotonously but for a hint of disbelief and amusement.
"Oh, yes!" Sam gasps when Tony hands him one of the controllers. "Look, the Wii was a mistake, but this game is the shit."
"I wouldn't say that." Clint says, looking more miffed than anything, dragging himself up into a sitting position and loosely grasping the controller in his hand, clipping the hollow wheel Tony passes him onto the back. "Try having kids, Wilson. I'm sick to death of this shit."
"Your kids play Mario Kart?" Rhodey, who'd also kept quiet at the rear of the room, raises an eyebrow.
Barton points his controller at him. "Hey, we live in the middle of goddamn nowhere, Rhodes. We're behind on the times, give 'em a break. They're kids."
"What are we meant to do with this?" Wanda asks in her heavy accept, one hand holding up the wheel and the other the controller.
Tony struts over with a little too much eagerness bouncing in his step. "You clip the remote into the wheel like this, see," He demonstrates for her. "And the you steer the car with the wheel like you would a normal car, right? You use this button," He points. "To accelerate, and this one to fire your weapon things and..." He continues to explain the game controls to her, his voice becoming nothing more than a buzz in the background as Steve tries and fails to clip his remote into his wheel.
"Need a hand?" Bucky offers with a small smirk; teasing, but not nasty, and so painfully Bucky.
"No, no, I'm fine." Steve shoos him away. He continues pressing the remote into the the wheel until finally, with a frustrated huff, he snatches Bucky's remote from his hand and examines how he fit the wheel on so perfectly first shot.
Bucky watches him with an amused expression. "You're putting it in upside down, Steve." He finally says with small hint of a laugh in his voice.
"Shuddup." Steve replies, passing back Bucky's remote and flipping his around, clipping it in with a soft, satisfying snap. "I woulda figured it out."
Tony stands up and clears his throat, calling their attention.
"Right, so now we need teams."
"Teams?" Vision tips his head, his remote held stiffly in his hands.
"Yeah, red and blue." Tony says, and then he somehow winds up appointing the teams.
Team Blue consists of Steve, Bucky, Sam, Wanda and Clint. Team Red- Tony, Natasha, Rhodey and Vision.
"The numbers are uneven." Steve points out, looking mildly concerned at the unfair advantage his team has.
"Don't sweat it, capsicle." Tony waves him off. "I figured you've got enough to worry about, what with the two of you just trying to work out how to turn the controllers on." He waggles to fingers at Steve and Bucky, a smirk pulling at his lips. "Without having to worry about being a man down."
"Oh, so you're taking it easy on us, hey?" Bucky pipes up and Steve rests a restraining hand on his shoulder in warning. "Don't think you got anythin' to worry about?"
"Well, you tell me, Barnes. Do I?" It's a dare. A dare to beat him, to win. Tony thinks he's got the upper hand. Steve internally groans, here we go again.
Bucky stares him down, locking gazes. "Oh yeah." He says darkly. "Yeah, you do."
Tony's eyebrows raise just the tiniest bit. "Okay then, solider. Challenge accepted."
And suddenly Steve finds himself caught in the middle of another one of Bucky and Tony's dick measuring contests.
The players take turns picking characters and cars, and Steve really has no clue what's good, but he does his best. Tony winds up playing 'Mario', mainly because he insists he does and threatens to turn the console off when Sam begins to argue. Bucky snatches up 'Bowser' because he "looks the most badass", and the others fill up the other spots until Steve's left with little choice but to go for a stumpy character called 'Toad' who Bucky reckons resembles Steve in a past life. No one sees it, but it makes him snigger, so Steve lets it slide.
The racers line up and the count down starts 3... 2... 1...
And then suddenly Steve's stuck at a standstill and frantically hammering the buttons on his controller, and how is everyone moving and what is going on?
"Here-" Bucky whispers urgently out the side of his mouth and fingers a button at the bottom of the remote, small with a little '2' on top. Steve tentatively taps the button and his character inches forward on the pixilated tarmac lined with gaudy green grass and little buildings with red roofs. He presses again and holds, and his character rushes forward on his screen, spinning wildly out of control and skidding into the green. He grunts frustratedly and presses the button down harder, turning his wheel almost 360 to manoeuvre his car out of the sticky green.
"I don't know how you're doing this man, but it's awesome." Sam mutters to Tony, who grins smugly.
"I can do anything." Start replies proudly with a confident smirk. A smirk that is wiped off his face a split second later as he curses and hunches forward over his controller, suddenly giving the race his undivided attention. Something blue had flashed briefly across Steve's screen, but he'd been too busy trying to get in the race to notice what was going on with the others. Bucky seems to know what went down, though, because he gives a whoop and cackles evilly. "Who's first now, Stark? Eat my dust."
"Oh, it's like that, is it?" Tony snarls.
"Yeah, it's like that."
They both bend forward, elbows braced on knees and hands twitching in swift, precise movements, sending their characters into controlled spins and moves far too advanced for the others to mimic. Steve watches incredulously out the corner of his eye as he finally gets his character on track and works on just completing laps, having no hope of catching up or passing now. There are things he doesn't understand. Boxes that Bucky briefly explains he "would want to hit" and other items he "will definitely want to avoid", and Steve winds up just avoiding anything that isn't road to keep things simple.
Tony looks like the personification of a storm cloud, his teeth grit and jaw set. Something happens that Steve doesn't even question and that particular race is over. He asks if they won and Sam explains that they're only one course out of four down, but that they won that individual heat thanks to Bucky.
"You played before, Buck?" Steve cranes his neck to look at him, smiling with a hint of pride.
Tony is fuming.
"He's a 90-year-old fossil, how the hell did he beat me?" He growls, seething. Rhodey looks like he might try and console him, but abandons the effort before he really commits to it. Steve doesn't blame him. Tony looks outraged, he looks scandalised.
"Round two, gramps. You and me." Tony glares daggers at Bucky.
Bucky holds up his wheel cooly, a relaxed smile on his lips and eyelids at half-mast. "Sure thing, kid."
Tony grumbles something incoherent and suddenly Steve's watching the golden countdown again as their characters rev their engines at the line of an extravagant mall-like location. This time he's ready, and he actually get's going fairly well, if he's still only surrounded by computer generated racers- at least he's surround by someone.
Tony and Bucky are miles ahead, shouting at each other and screaming "take that!", and "eat shit!", and "get the fuck off my tail, asshole!"
Steve can't help but be amused.
Tony wins that race by a margin, but he makes it seems much more. Bucky takes the defeat with a cool rage, and then the next round begins much the same. Buck and Tony leave the others for dust in the icy terrain, and Steve's only really aware of how they're going by their vulgar running commentary. And the outcome by Bucky's victorious cheer.
Then it's the showdown and everyone seems a little tense at the race goes to countdown, the 3, 2, 1 seeming to drag out five times as long.
It's a goldmine track and Steve spends more time off the edge than he does on the track, but it's fun nonetheless. He actually manages to beat Vision, Wanda and Barton- who seems mildly impressed and simultaneously peeved. Tony and Bucky, are neck and neck the whole way.
It's close, and the whole team holds their breath as they cross the line.
The results flash up next to the icons of their characters.
"Oh, my..." Rhodey says quietly.
Sam's eyes widen and even Natasha looks shocked. Wanda frowns and mutters something to Clint, who leans over and mutters something back; they both wind up looking very impressed.
Steve blinks at the screen, squints, then it registers what it's showing and he turns to face both Tony and Bucky with his jaw dropped, brows nearly at his hairline.
Tony stands up and leaves the room quietly, his controller set neatly on the tinted glass of the coffee table, nothing but the repeating theme music following him from the common area.
Bucky's lips only curl into a smile once he's gone and he reclines in his seat, hands coming up to hold the back of his head, ankles crossing on the table. "What d'ya say to that, Stark?" He calls.
"I don't want to talk about it." Comes his stoney reply. Bucky just smiles smugly.