This is a fluffy Avenger fic for a friend who had a really bad day. I'm posting it because it's her birthday today. Happy Birthday Kiwi! As this was written for the Fluff Queen, this is really fluffy.
As always, thank you to the lovely force that makes up the Beta Branch. We're not exclusive by any means, so take a peek if you're interested. The link's on Alex Kade's profile!
Summary: The team comes together after a mission gone wrong.
Tony felt wired, as if someone had injected him with a shot of adrenaline. He couldn't sit still. He'd try, but seconds after plopping onto his bed he'd shoot back to his feet. Sleep had been elusive, full of taunting images of their failure. He'd showered and scrubbed away all the traces of smoke and fire that he could, but he still felt as if the stench clung to him. Tony Stark was nervous and jittery, causing him to make circuit after circuit in his room until he found himself stumbling in exhaustion.
The images of the day still replayed in his mind. They'd received a distress call from a S.H.I.E.L.D. outpost, and had gotten there in time to see the entire building and parts of the nearby town go up in the flames. The team had searched desperately for hours, but there were no S.H.I.E.L.D. survivors and many of the nearby civilians had also perished in the fire. The worst sight was probably the destroyed school building and the mutilated kids pulled from the fire.
Tony clenched and unclenched his fists before striding to the door and throwing it open. He was finding it hard to breathe in the spacious room. The overwhelming need to escape to some place where he could release the tension coiling in his veins had grown even stronger.
Coulson's anxious face and his blurted question of, "Did you find any survivors?" still echoed in Tony's memory. Tony hadn't been able to speak, choked up by the horrible sight they'd seen. It had been Steve who had answered the agent quietly, telling him softly that none of their agents had survived the initial blast. After Coulson had bolted from the room, Fury had told them one of the agent's friends had been stationed inside the base. The team would normally have some sort of dinner or gathering after a mission, but clearly none of them were interested in eating. The entire team had been subdued as they divided and went to their rooms to attempt sleep.
Tony hesitated and turned for the stairs. He didn't think that going to the workout room would be the most intelligent idea. There was no way of predicting how much would be left standing in the face of Tony's disappointment. Wearily, Tony climbed the staircase until he reached the skylight that led to the roof. Gently he slid it open, and pulled himself up. The fresh air filled his lungs, helping to wash away the traces of smoke still lingering.
He turned and came face-to-face with Natasha's ever-welcoming gun. After a moment of silence, she stowed it away.
"I felt claustrophobic," he revealed to her quizzical look. Her expression cleared, and she nodded, pointing to a figure on the other side of the roof. Clint was stoically ignoring them, his knees pulled up so that his chin could gently rest on them. The archer looked downright miserable in his sleeveless t-shirt and pants that still reeked of smoke.
Tony hesitated, not sure if Clint would welcome the company, but after a moment Clint turned his head to glare at Tony, "Are you just going to stand there, or are you going to sit down, Iron Man?" he snapped. Tony grinned at his teammate as he ambled over, unperturbed by the mostly-faked hostility. Natasha had curled up on a bedroll she must have carried up when she climbed onto the roof, and Clint had brought his own.
The Iron Man wavered, not sure if he should retrieve his blanket. It was frighteningly tempting to relax with the others. Clint, noticing what Tony was lacking, rolled his eyes and beckoned at the man. "Come on," he growled, moving over so he was closer to Natasha. Surprisingly enough, Natasha didn't object to sharing her sleeping bag. Tony grinned again and plopped down on the space Clint had left for him. It was a tight enough squeeze, three people on two bags, but none of the trio seemed to mind.
Strangely enough, Tony reflected as he stole Clint's pillow amid some creative curses, he felt like the jittery feeling was beginning to slip away. The slow, relaxing release of tension was almost painful as he unconsciously relaxed.
Tony didn't mention that he knew the other two slept up here quite often. It was a miracle one of the team hadn't fallen off the roof and broken their necks. None of the three talked, but instead just lay there. It was enough that they had undergone the same horrors that day and were sharing quietly in the aftermath.
Clint had begun to hum quietly to himself, a quiet, almost lullaby-like tune. It was surprisingly serene for the archer, but neither the almost-asleep Natasha or the still slightly jittery Tony chose to remark upon it.
The skylight opened with a small clatter, a noise not loud enough to startle the trio. Natasha was almost asleep, so Tony took it upon himself to turn to greet the newcomer. It was Thor, sans hammer, who was in the process of hauling himself through the window. The Asgardian froze when he saw Tony staring at him.
"Stark," he greeted evenly, bedroll in hand. Tony bit his lip upon seeing that, apparently, he was the only one not prepared for an impromptu camp-out on the roof.
"Hey," Tony hailed his teammate softly, trying not to disturb Natasha. She would probably kick him off the roof if he was too loud. Tony couldn't say that he envied Clint for being snuggled up between Natasha and him. "Couldn't sleep?"
"No," Thor responded warily, probably suspecting some sort of trick as he carefully made his way across the roof toward the group.
"Well, grab some floor and join us," Tony managed a half-hearted smile as he patted the roof beside him. "I think all of us are pretty fried from earlier."
Thor didn't speak again, but instead plunked himself down beside Tony. Within moments, he too was lying on the rooftop and staring up at the sky above. Tony stretched lazily as he felt relaxation begin to set in.
There was the sound of someone scrambling onto the roof, and Tony didn't need to turn around to know who had tripped on his way up."Hey there, Doctor Banner," he said lazily. "You're late."
"Not as late as Captain Rogers," Banner replied easily, sounding utterly beaten. "Sorry I didn't receive the memo on the campout up here."
Tony chuckled softly as Natasha shifted on the other side of Clint, her foot dangerously close to an area Clint would probably rather keep intact. The archer was definitely eying the Black Widow with more than a little caution as he tried to scoot further away from her, inevitably pressing up against Tony.
There was a crash as Mr. Super Serum Soldier himself managed to catch his foot on the woodwork and drop whatever he was carrying. Natasha came awake in a sudden flurry of movement, her knife leaving her hand to slam into the roof beside Clint's throat. The next few seconds were a blur as the archer tried to scramble over Tony, who had sat bolt upright, in an effort to escape Natasha, Banner almost Hulked out as a sheer-panic reflex, and Thor became buried under the writhing Tony and Clint. After a few minutes of mass chaos, the team managed to right themselves enough so that they could all glare at the sheepish looking Steve Rogers.
"Um," he said once all eyes were upon him. "I brought cookies?"
Still wheezing from the aftermath of Clint's elbow in his gut, Tony managed to choke out a laugh. Within moments, Barton and even Natasha began to chuckle as well. Banner shook with laughter as he went to help Steve pick up the stack of boxes he had strewn all over the roof when he tripped.
When the pair approached the edge of the roof, Tony eagerly scrambled to his feet to snatch a box from Steve. The Iron Man stared in disappointment at the sandwiches before him.
"I thought you mentioned cookies?" he whined.
Steve pointed at Natasha and Thor, who had claimed the delicious smelling baked goods from Banner. Deciding it didn't seem worth risking his life for a few cookies, Tony settled for stealing Clint's jello.
"Hey!" the archer protested as he tried to snatch back the green substance. Tony stuck out his tongue as he managed to snag a spoon. It felt good to be able to forget just or a few moments in the fresh air, and to push the horrible sensations of the day to the back of his mind.
After just a moment, a cookie dropped into Tony's lap. Surprised, the Iron Man startled and managed to drop a spoonful of jello on his pristine white shirt. The whole team smiled for a moment as Tony frantically tried to rid his clothes of the gooey chocolate and jello. Silence once again fell over the team as they finished their meal, each feeling a knot of tension unwind within them. The silence wasn't strained like it was after Tony started a fight, and nor was it overly solemn. It was a comfortable feeling that lasted for several minutes.
"Today sucked," Tony said finally. "We were too late to do anything." The rest of the team's eyes slowly turned to him as he continued. "But… thanks guys. For not making any of us face it alone."
Clint was the first one to reply as he suddenly raised his Coke. "We're stuck with one another," he said with a smile. "To not facing shit alone."
There was a pause as Banner raised his water bottle. "To friends," he added solemnly.
Tony watched as Natasha and Thor allowed their own bottles to raise. "To teammates," Natasha replied quietly.
They all waited quietly until Steve finally raised his water to join theirs. "To family," the man murmured softly.