The day of the Battle of Manhattan was full of drama and danger. The day after was no picnic either. Or what happened when Tony Stark woke up with two assassins sitting on his bed. A Very Good Team-fic.
I'm assuming there were a couple of days between the end of the battle and Thor taking Loki home.
Let's Take a Day
Chapter 1: The Day After
When bruised and battered Tony Stark woke up from exhausted sleep late the morning after the Battle of Manhattan, there was a master assassin sitting on either side of his bed.
He started violently, one hand coming up to cover the arc reactor as if that could still the rapid beating of his heart.
"Geez! Scare a hero to death"
Two well-matched smirks greeted him.
"How did you get in here anyway?" he demanded.
They ignored his question. It suited Natasha's air of mystery to not tell him that Pepper had let them in when she found out about their mission.
"Time to get up, Stark. There's something you need to see," she said. "Jarvis?"
"Of course, Agent Romanoff," the artificial intelligence's voice responded.
Tony muttered, "Traitor," as the big screen came on with a four-way split screen showing news broadcasts and websites. Tony stopped wondering how Natasha had gained the cooperation of Jarvis when his mind registered the images.
"Son of a bitch!"
Multiple images showed a raging Hulk with an inset photo of Bruce Banner looking his most scruffy and disreputable. General Thaddeus Ross appeared, distinguished and forthright, with his medals gleaming. He spoke seriously, detailing the crimes of Bruce Banner, alias The Hulk.
"Jarvis, can we squash this?"
"It's too late, Stark," Natasha said. "It's everywhere."
"I'm afraid Agent Romanoff is right, sir."
"How could SHIELD let this happen?" Tony demanded, feeling guilty that he'd let it happen.
"It's not your fault," Natasha said, accurately reading her former employer. "It's not SHIELD's fault, either."
"They're still digging out the New Mexico base," Clint said grimly. His eyes were focused on something Tony couldn't see. "The helicarrier is in drydock. The New York headquarters has a space whale on top of it and so many of our best agents are injured or … dead." He swallowed hard and hung his head.
They all thought of Coulson for a moment. He wouldn't have allowed this attack on Banner, but he was gone.
Tony thumped Clint's knee. "Not your fault, Featherhead. It's all on Loki. You saved millions yesterday. Don't forget it."
"What he said." Natasha punched Clint in the arm hard enough to make him wince and rub it, hard enough to break him out of his funk, at least momentarily.
"All right, let's see what kind of damage control we can do. I've got a couple of ideas percolating, but first I need a hot tub." Moving stiffly, Tony started to throw the covers aside, warning Natasha he hadn't put any "PJs" on the night before.
"Please, Stark," she said. "You don't have anything I haven't seen before," the spy scoffed.
He tapped the arc reactor in his chest by way of response. She just smiled. "I was your assistant, remember. I've seen that, too."
Clint climbed off the bed, wincing at the pain in his back. He'd had the benefit of SHIELD medical treatment and a Romanoff back massage, but he was far from his normal agile self.
"You look as bad as I feel," Tony said frankly, while he gingerly levered himself off the bed.
"Crashing through a window will do that to you," Clint replied.
"Tell me about it!" Tony answered. The two men shared a grin. Clint's was weak, but it was genuine.
"You're welcome to join me in the hot tub. You too, Romanoff," Tony said, doing the Groucho Marx thing with his eyebrows.
Turned out the spies weren't at all shy about joining him au natural in the hot tub. But Tony knew better than to ogle Natasha. He wanted to keep all his parts intact. Tony relaxed as the hot water loosened his sore muscles.
"Now if we just had the rest of the team. A little science talk for the mind and some nice beefcake for the eyes."
The agents chuckled. "I'm not sure Rogers would be up for the nudity," Natasha said.
"You might be surprised," said Clint, a former Army sniper. "There's not much privacy in the army. And a war zone is even worse."
"But I doubt he's ready for Romanoff," Tony answered.
"Cap is an officer and a gentleman," Natasha said. "There aren't many left in the world. I wouldn't want to spoil it."
Pepper came in with a tray of food that she passed around. She sat beside the hot tub dangling her bare feet in the water and told Jarvis to put Channel 12 on the main screen.
The newswoman stood with her back to the clean up, talking earnestly into her camera.
"It's the day after what's being called the Battle of Manhattan and clean up efforts are already underway," she said. "You can see the black vans of a secretive agency called SHIELD collecting the alien weapons." A caped figure swooped by overhead then landed alongside a blue-garbed man who was heaving dead aliens into a dump truck. "There goes Thor, who some call a Norse god and some call a friendly alien, and with him is Captain America. Both men are working to repair the mess created by their battle, but where is Iron Man? There's been no sign of the self-proclaimed hero. Just because he's a billionaire — does that mean he's too good to clean up his own messes?"
A startled gesture by her cameraman was the only warning the newswoman got before a steely voice spoke politely behind her.
"Excuse me, ma'am. I couldn't help but hear what you said," Captain America told her.
He'd been a full block away, and yet he'd heard her over the heavy machinery.
The cameraman started to put down his camera, but Cap gave him a stern look and he began filming again.
"You are doing Mr. Stark an injustice," Cap continued. "He would be here if he could, but you have to remember, there is a man inside that iron suit. He got plenty beat up in that battle and he doesn't heal up as fast as Thor and I do. He could hardly walk last night. Would you ask a man who's been in a car accident to jump out of bed and pick up the broken glass? Stark saved the entire city from a nuclear missile. I think he earned a day to recuperate. You look for him tomorrow and I bet you'll see him. Nice talking to you, I've got to get back to work now." He gave the speechless woman a small salute, then trotted back to Thor.
The woman swallowed, plastered her smile back on her face and spoke to the camera again. "There you heard it from Captain America himself. Tony Stark was injured during the battle but once his wounds are treated, he will be back to help with the clean up. And now back to the studio."
"The defender of liberty is defending me?" Tony was incredulous. "Turn it off, J," he ordered.
"So, has the genius percolated, yet?" Clint asked.
"Coffee's done," Tony announced. He climbed unashamedly out of the tub, but meekly wrapped a towel around his waist when Pepper held it out sternly.
"What are you going to do," Pepper asked curiously. Fight fire with fire?"
"No, I'm going to fight PR with PR," Tony said with determination.
To be continued