Disclaimer: I own nothing other than a few OC's and my own plot lines

A/N: Warnings for Language

Thoughts are in italics

*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*

Usually when Tony had a woman in his penthouse they knew what the rules were when they entered. Tony hated to pretend even in his own home and made it a point to let his bed partners know that it was for one night and one night only. There will be no second chances. The game often went like this; offer them a drink, a little chitchat maybe to charm them right out of their panties, then after a few hours of fun time, send them packing. If he liked his current bed partner enough, he might make her a bagel before sending her on her way. That was the old Tony Stark. Before a feisty Pepper Potts stepped center stage into his personal life.

However, Tony really didn't think these old rules were anywhere in the same galaxy of reality when you factor in the fact that said woman currently in his penthouse was one Natasha Romanoff. Formally the stunning Natalie Rushman, assistant to the previously mentioned Pepper Potts. Not unless he wanted to die in some creative, and likely painful fashion, doled out by either one or the other female. Possibly both. Likely both.

"Can I help you with something Miss. Romanoff?" Tony asked as he closed the door behind her, briefly letting his eyes skim over her casual jeans and blouse, before heading straight for the wet bar to one side of the kitchenette.

"Would you like something to drink?" He offered a moment later when she didn't immediately reply. Letting her glance around the living room with plush sofas, armchair and big screen TV. Opening the mini fridge, Tony hummed softly under his breath as he debated what he wanted. Tony watched from the corner of his eye as her nose wrinkled briefly in disgust before it smoothed away into a neutral expression when she turned back.

"It's nine in the morning Stark; little bit early don't you think?" Tony closed the mini fridge door with a little more force than necessary at her tone, letting a plastic smile slide automatically over his lips in subconscious defense. Thought her tone was neutral enough, Tony knew full well that she was throwing an unspoken jab at his previously excessive drinking habits of the recent past.

"I was referring to the bottled water or the soda Miss Romanoff." He answered crisply, perfectly polite. Wouldn't do to die by assassination because he was rude after all, even if she started it.

They looked at each other for a moment in silence as he absently unscrewed the cap off the cold water he'd taken out for himself. Her body language was stiff, whether in discomfort or dislike he wasn't sure and frankly, just at the moment, he didn't give a damn. Finally she seemed to give an internal sigh of annoyance and spoke once more. "Director Fury wanted to know if your offer to house the other members of the Avengers Initiative still stands?"

Picking up his bottle Tony moved around the bar and walked towards the lone armchair in the living room. Wondering why the man hadn't simply called him about the question, rather than sending this prickly messenger. Was it some misguided attempt to coax or butter him up? Because this was definitely the wrong woman to send for the job if that was the case, SHIELD spy or not. "Yes, the offer still stands. Did Fury happen to say when he wanted to send you guys with your things? I have to set up space for you all first."

Natasha gave a sharp nod in response, crossing her arms over her chest as she tracked his movement into the living space with her eyes, not moving to join him. Tony sat down and made himself comfortable. If Natasha wanted to stand in the middle of the room that was her own problem. Tony scooped up the tablet he'd been using before she's knocked on his penthouse door, lightly balancing it on one knee as he gazed back at her with a raised eyebrow.

"As soon as possible, let me know when the space is ready." Romanoff said, with a slight irritated huff. Tony didn't know what the woman had to be annoyed about. He was being perfectly civil in his opinion. He chose not to call her on it.

"Alright, I'll get a hold of a contractor and let Fury know what the time estimate is; I wouldn't think it to be longer than a few weeks. Jarvis?" His mind spun with various ideas, and what each individual would need. As always, his AI was prompt at determining what Tony needed without his having to say anything.

"Yes Sir, informing Miss Potts of the renovations." Jarvis' voice echoed smoothly in the room.

Tony rose from his chair, setting aside the tablet again as he did so. Walking towards Natasha, Tony gave her the same plastic smile he'd given her earlier. "Well, was that everything today Miss Romanoff? Yes? Excellent." He said without waiting for her to give a response.

"I will contact Fury later with further information, as I mentioned. Email or by phone, text, whatever. By the way, Miss Romanoff send me an email later about what design styles you, Clint and Rogers like so they can be incorporated, yeah?" Without much effort on Tony's part, Romanoff allowed herself to be herded towards the penthouse door, offering only a clipped affirmative to his design comment, and a goodbye as she exited. Clearly as ready to leave as Tony was to have her out of his personal space.

The billionaire sighed in relief with a roll of his eyes once the door was safely shut and the lock re-engaged. Switching mental gears with a slight bounce to his step he grabbed up his water bottle and headed towards his private elevator off to one side of the room. This was just what he needed to get his mind off of personal issues regarding a certain green eyed person with a sexy British accent, who should not have been on his mind in the first place. Pepper's eyes were blue after all, not green, and she sure a s hell wasn't British as far as Tony knew. Not matter how much he thought about things, or turned things over in his mind Tony couldn't resolve himself one way or the other anyhow. "Lab time Jarvis! We have living spaces to create downstairs!"

"Sir, may I remind you that you have a two o'clock meeting with the board of directors that Miss Potts insisted that you be present for?"

He waved a hand dismissively as the elevator doors shut and the machine whirred to life around him, traveling down to his personal lab that could only be accessed from his floor. "Yea yea, that's hours from now Jarvis, remind me again an hour before."

"As you say Sir." The AI sounding a bit sarcastic in regard to Tony's flippant attitude. After a few moments the elevator slowed, and then stopped, doors sliding open to Tony's private nirvana. Lights flicked on to reveal the chaos of machine parts, metal bits, tools, engine oils, lubricants and all manner of things strewn over countertops, shelves and tabletops alike. Grinning like a fool Tony sauntered into the mess, pausing only long enough to grab a couple of power bars off the nearest counter. Unwrapping one and stuffing it into his mouth then tossing the other one onto the only small bit of cleared table space for later consumption. Pushing some of the items carefully to one side to give himself more working room without the danger of knocking something breakable to the floor, Tony quickly chewed the bite in his mouth.

"Alright Jarvis, light her up! Lemme see what floor spaces I have available, or that can be cleared without much fuss for our little project!" Instantly a holographic diagram of the Stark Tower appeared in front of him, lighting up the open floors.

"There are currently six floors open to being changed Sir. Four are simply being used for storage or empty office space as of right now and can easily be allocated to your plans once the items therein are moved elsewhere. They are below this laboratory. Two are above the penthouse and are currently empty; you had them set aside for a previous project that you later discarded."

"Huh... why don't I remember that?"

"Your blood toxicity level at the time Sir was rather high. It is therefore, not surprising you do not recall this project."

"What was I planning to do with them?"

"You had the idea of converting one floor into a gymnasium with showers and pool, and the other into a 'Playboy Bunny Playhouse' I believe is the phrase you used."

"Okay, the gym and pool sound good, but Pepper will murder me for the other. Turn one of those floors into living space for Rogers and Thor. The one with the huge balcony should work, just put in some sliding glass doors and voila! Landing pad for the Thunder god and a little bit of outdoor space for Rogers." The two floors in discussion lit up and zoomed in, everything else falling away as Tony examined what he had to work with.

"Very well Sir, how would you like the living floor set up?"

"Shared balcony and hallway to the elevator, but separate apartments I think. Bedrooms, large size bathrooms for these guys, modest living room area with kitchenette. You know, enough to cook something simple, store junk food and drinks. That kind of thing."

"And the gym area Sir?"

"Set it up with weights and various machines, a running track if there is room, and a matted floor area. Then the showers and locker-room in between that area and the pool so they are separate spaces." Tony watched as the picture blurred and then cleared, showing the various changes as he spoke them, pausing for a moment he examined what he already had for these two floors above him, considering what else could be wanted or useful.

"Okay, I think that's it for the moment on those floors, you said there are four others?" He watched as the image spun away as it zoomed out to show the other four floors below lit up. "Floor right below us, turn it into a common area for everyone, full set kitchen and eat in dining area. Full size living room and entertainment space, TV, Stereo, gaming stations, set it up, make it cozy and comfortable, bathroom too. The floor below that set up Clint and Natasha's apartments, same layout as before, put Bruce under them with his own lab and Zen space. Make sure that one is reinforced for the Hulk's strength."

Again he stopped to consider what he already had and the special needs of his new guests; roommates? What the hell am I supposed to call them? We are all still strangers to each other.

"Shift Bruce's floor down one and make the previous space a shooting range for Clint and Natasha. Then move Bruce's lab down one floor so he has more space to play if he wants to use it."

"Dr. Banner has the entire floor to himself. Would that not possibly be misconstrued as favoritism Sir?" Tony frowned as he thought about it, and then shrugged. What the hell do I care, thought Tony. Bruce and I share more of a liked mind and understands my need for privacy not to mention my insomnia.

"Thor would be a lousy roommate for Bruce when he was around because he's just so damned loud. Clint would pop out of hiding somewhere and scare the hell out of him, and Natasha isn't comfortable around him as it is. I doubt she would want to room with him." Besides she is the type to shoot now ask questions later.

"There is always Steve Rogers, Sir."

Again Tony shrugged "I think if there was an incident, for whatever reason, a reinforced floor of his own with no potential casualties would make Bruce more comfortable than sharing. If for some reason they can't understand that; then too damn bad."

"As you say, Sir. All the available floors have been used and arranged as you requested. All that is left is decorating preferences of the members assigned to them. Miss Romanoff has not yet emailed the requested information." Jarvis continues.

"Alright then, for right now we're done. Keep an eye out for that email for me Jarvis. How much longer do I have to play?"

"You currently have three hours before you need to dress for the Board meeting."

Tony sighed. "Damned boring board meetings, why do I even need to go? Isn't that why I made her CEO? Bring up the specs on the repulsors for the Mark VII; I want to see if I can make them lighter without altering their integrity or power output." The building diagram winked out of existence and was replaced with images for the Iron Man suit. Contently Tony dove into equations, letting the world around him slip away briefly until it was time for him to get ready for Pepper's dreaded board meeting.

*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*~ MB ~*

Two days later Tony received that email from Romanoff on their decorating preferences. Did they think I have nothing better to do with my fucking time than to sit around and pander to their needs? From there is was two weeks before the floors were completed to Tony's satisfaction. However, everyone showed up the minute he let Fury know the rooms were done. Except for Bruce, he went back to India for a short time, but would be returning later during the week. As for Thor, who the hell knew where or when he would show up again. Tony was happy to do the grand tour to each living area, chatting a mile a minute as he went. Tony felt the uncomfortable atmosphere being given off from the others behind him as they shuffled along with their bag clenched tightly in their hands.

Not knowing what else to do the ease the tension, he invited them to dinner in the common area and left them to settle in after introducing them to Jarvis. Which really could have gone better, if the alarm in Clint's eyes, and the frown on Steve's lips was anything to go by. But, they seemed pleased with how their personal rooms were decorated if nothing else; even if Rogers was a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of space he could call his own.

The rocky and awkward beginning should have clued him in that things were going to go south. They were not ready to be a part of the Tony Stark world, and truth be told he was not ready to have them in it. Tony chalked it up to having others in their personal space all of a sudden.

Tony should not have felt disappointed that no one showed up for dinner, but he did. When he checked with Jarvis, Tony learned that the two agents Romanoff and Barton left the building hours ago, and Steve was nowhere to be found. Pushing away his disappointment, he cleaned up the ordered food, placing it into the fridge and taking his own plate of Chinese, headed down to the lab for some playtime instead. Pepper was in Malibu for the next two weeks working on their newest phone and Stark Pad promotions, so he had plenty of time for himself. Asking Jarvis to alert him to when any of the others came back, and to let them know about the Chinese left for them, he dove into his latest project with gusto.

When Jarvis alerted him of the 48 hour mark, the others still hadn't returned to the tower. Blinking sleepily, Tony shuffled over to his much abused coffee maker, peering at the sludge within and wondering aloud under his breath if the food poisoning was worth it.

"Jarvis, poke around at SHIELD and tell me if they know where our lost ones are."

Getting an affirmative from the AI, Tony peered at the coffee forlornly, but decided a possible hospital trip because he was lazy was not worth the cost of a worried and angry Pepper. Sighing, he grabbed the carafe and dumped it out in the utility sink, rinsing it out before setting about making a fresh pot of the addicting nectar of the gods.

"Sir, it appears that agents Barton and Romanoff are overseas on assignment, while Rogers is both attending several charity functions and SHIELD training courses."

Tony blinked rapidly a couple of times, breaking his stare down with the coffee maker.

"Huh, why didn't any of them tell me they were leaving for a few days?"

"I do not know Sir." Tony waved dismissively at the AI. "Oh well, it's not all that important, I'll set something social up when they all get back." But it would have been nice to give me a fucking heads up they were going to be off globe trotting.

Except when they all came back home, they constantly had excuses or other things they just had to do, that couldn't be rescheduled or avoided. Tony offered game night, multiple social dinners, hell even breakfast. Offered to host everyone dressing up and going out dancing for the night on his dime. Nothing. Bruce was constantly busy with his hospital work at one place or another, the agents constantly seemed to be on assignment, and hell if he knew where Steve was most of the time, other than sleeping and using the gym, he was almost never there.

It became enough of a pattern that Tony started to really pay attention to what was going wrong with his offers. Their body language was uncomfortable, tense or annoyed no matter how he tried to ease them. Their conversations were always brief, and distantly polite. He just couldn't figure it out. He was being generous with his resources and time, but they always seem to rebuff him, even if it was done nicely. The only times he could say he spent any real time with any of them at all was when Iron man was needed and he refused to count that because, come on! Really!

Inevitably, he came to an inescapable conclusion. He was the problem. Tony Stark. They quite simply, didn't want to spend any real time with him outside of missions. They were not his friends, they were not his companions, they were barely associates or acquaintances. It was beyond a depressing and hurtful conclusion. It made him angry. I offer up my home and yet I am rebuffed in it as if I owe them something when it is them who owes me. I didn't even get a fucking thank you for giving them free room and board.

What was worse, were the constant fights between him and Pepper. Red flags were everywhere and Tony just didn't know what to do about them, or how to fix them. I'm a genius of science, not relationships. When he had flown that nuke into space he had expected her to be upset that he almost died saving the damn world. But she showed him no type of emotion or affection. Hell he had been upset, to this day he is still upset that no one else volunteered to sacrifice themselves not even the great Captain fucking America. The only thing Pepper saw fit to give him is grief. She had been furious, and crying, and screaming about his recklessness and disregards for others feelings.

Tony was shocked as he watched her pack her things. That first time she had only stayed away a few days while they talked over the phone. But as Iron Man became busier, she became more distant. At first he did not realize it; Pepper always stayed busy with the company, always traveling for one reason or another. She kept him up to date on his paper work, projects and what meetings he was forced to attend. It wasn't until he started paying attention to the snubbing of his teammates that he realized that Pepper had pulled away from him. Started treating him like a stranger rather than a lover, not even a friend. Months passed before he noticed. Looking back, he remembered more fights than dinners, and more cold nights sleeping alone than lovemaking. Yet Tony remained faithful. Picture that, me billionaire Tony Stark, remaining faithful to a woman who treats him like cold fish.

Somehow they had slowly shifted back into Tony just being her boss and he didn't know what to do about it. Tony did not want to fight with her, he did not want her unhappy, and it was more than obvious that she was at this point. So he backed off a little, giving her some space. He still offered dinners and dates, but not as frequently, and more often she would turn them down. Until he came back from one mission, a simple one that was more time consuming than anything else to find all of her things gone and his penthouse empty. However, he felt nothing when he realized she was gone. He went to his lab to work on the suit and hadn't noticed until weeks later he had not heard from her. No phone calls, notes, or emails, no texts. Not even updates on what was going on with Stark Industries. She simply wasn't there. Even after everything he thought they would still remain friends, Pepper was the one constant in his life. It seems I'm going to have to take the bull by the horns and become CEO of Stark Industries again. Damn you Pepper, I planned on giving you the fucking world, whether or not they'd lasted a lifetime. But this? This Tony could not accept.

No communication, no reason. Though Tony suspected it was because of Iron Man. Nothing. This wasn't like the Pepper Potts that Tony knew. With his heart heavy, Tony stopped tearing himself apart with indecision. Pepper had made the choice for him. While Tony would certainly grieve for what could have been, there was another option out there. One that had come back from a place he'd never expected, and still wasn't entirely sure was real. Regardless, Tony being Tony was going to grab onto it with both hands and see where it went. Tony didn't chase anyone who made it clear they didn't want him anymore. No, Tony got them out of his system the best he could and moved on. So Tony did what Tony always did when he got his heart broken.

Tony got rip roaring drunk and trashed the penthouse.