Tony found Steve and Clint in the kitchen one night, a few beer bottles strewn across the counter nearby, and swing music pouring from the stereo. Steve looked . . . relaxed. He had pulled his t-shirt out from his waistband and he was leaning back in the hard chair, a beer in his hand, his feet tipping the chair on its legs and waiting for Clint to make a move.
"Monopoly?" Tony asked, surprised to see Clint sitting still for a board game. Video games were more his style. That and racquetball.
Steve took a swig from a beer bottle. "It's a good game. I remember playing as a kid."
That explained a lot.
Tony found that familiarity tended to relax Steve, unsurprisingly. When Tony first shared the playlist he made of music from the thirties and forties and explained to Steve how to pull it up on the stereo and listen, Steve practically melted into the couch that night, falling asleep to the music within an hour. When Natasha explained cable television and showed him AMC, he sat for hours watching old movies and had to be told twice that it was time for their daily briefing with Fury.
So Tony shouldn't have been surprised to find a thirties board game entertaining his housemates one night.
"Clint? Doesn't seem your style," Tony asked as he pulled a beer from the refrigerator.
"It's fun," the younger man replied, "There's stuff to think about."
"Strategy," Steve added.
Tony laughed, "It's got dice. Not a lot of strategy."
"Join in and back that up," Steve said, looking up at Tony with a grin.
"Nah," Tony said, "I'll just watch the expert."
Steve shrugged and they kept playing and Tony got bored and went down to his workshop for a while. It was a quiet night and he got a lot done, and when he went back upstairs a couple hours later, he found Steve asleep on the couch, and Clint was playing a video game.
"This is more your style," Tony said as he walked through the room.
Clint looked over at him and nodded, "Yeah, the old man crashed, so I figured history night was over."
"Fun though?" Tony asked, gesturing back to the kitchen.
"Yeah. Go figure."
"Are you gonna get him to bed, or am I?" Tony asked, gesturing at Steve.
Clint laughed, "I'll handle it."
"Good. He's heavy," Tony retorted. " 'night."
Clint waved and Tony headed to bed. He was struck again at how it was kind of odd to have housemates.
Poker night became a regular occurrence.
However, Tony almost drew the line a few weeks later when he came in from a function (whoever decided to call events like that 'functions' had a damned good sense of irony) with Pepper and found Steve, Natasha, and Clint playing Tidily Winks. Bruce was sitting on a bar stool drinking orange juice and watching with amusement.
"Tiddlywinks? You've got to be fucking kidding me," Tony blurted, as soon as he walked in. Bruce laughed.
Steve tried to get one of his chips into the bowl and missed, prompting Clint to elbow him, saying, "Drink up, Captain!"
As Tony threw his dinner jacket on a chair and loosened his tie, Bruce explained, "They've turned it into a drinking game. Of course," he added after a pause, "I don't think Steve can get drunk."
Steve laughed and winked at Tony, "It's fun anyway." Clint and Natasha just ignored them, calculating angles and discussing strategy.
Tony just sighed, went upstairs to change clothes, and then grabbed a drink and joined Bruce on a stool to watch. Steve definitely couldn't get drunk anymore.
A few nights later Tony discovered that Steve also couldn't play video games very well.
To be fair, Clint tried to dump him into an online game of Call of Duty, and that was just a bit much for someone who'd never heard of a television two months ago. Natasha came by later and loaded Tony's collection of vintage Atari games, though, and Steve tore through Asteroids and spent so many free moments playing Tetris over a few days that Tony was about to be worried. He slowed down after a bit, though.
One day Jarvis told Steve about Tony's vintage pinball machine collection on the fourth floor. Tony wasn't sure how Steve did it, but he managed to turn pinball into a drinking game for Clint and Natasha, too, and the laughter that echoed from the pinball room lasted far into the night when they tried that.
When Tony found them playing marbles in the penthouse living room one night, he just poured himself a drink and ducked down to his lab, where he found Bruce hiding as well.
Of course, that meant everyone was getting to be better friends, and that made scenes like the one a week later even harder to handle.
When Tony, Bruce, and Thor picked their way through the rubble that had been a large meeting center and found Cap holding Hawkeye in his arms, pressing one hand to Hawkeye's side where blood was seeping through his fingers, Tony knew game nights were out for a while.
He saw the bodies of the henchmen who had obviously attacked the two Avengers strewn nearby, obviously victims of Cap's shield and Hawkeye's arrows, and knew they'd had to put up a hard fight. There were at least nine of them, and the Captain and Hawkeye had been backed into a corner while the rest of the team fought in another part of the building before exploding the bad guys unceremoniously.
Cap had a gun in his free hand, and his shield was draped in front of Hawkeye, obviously with the intent of holding off any bullets or other projectiles. Blood was streaming down the side of Cap's face, and Tony noticed that even though he had Hawkeye in his lap, it was a desperate grip and Cap's left leg was splayed out at an awkward angle. The arm holding the gun was shaking, too, and Cap's eyes looked wild and unfocused.
Tony gestured to Thor and Bruce to stay back a little, and he walked up to the men slowly, sliding his faceplate up and talking in a calm voice. "Cap, put the gun down, okay? It's us," he said.
Steve didn't move, and Tony realized he hadn't followed Tony's voice and was still staring at the rubble behind them, eyes unfocused.
"Captain," Tony said, louder, "Put down the gun."
Steve blinked slowly and then lowered the gun after a long moment, setting it down next to him and looking at Tony. He tightened his grip on Clint and kept the pressure on the wound. As Tony approached, he could see that Clint's shirt was soaked through with blood, and there was a gash on his forehead that left blood running in rivulets down his cheek. His color was ashen and his breath was coming in short gasps. Steve had him in a tight grip.
Bruce came up next to the fallen men and said, "Captain," beckoning Thor over as he did so, "Let Thor take Hawkeye for help, and I can have a look at you."
Cap's grip got tighter and he looked at Tony in desperation, focusing for the first time. "He's hurt badly, Tony," he said, his voice shaking.
"I know. We've got SHIELD EMTs outside waiting. Let Thor take him and he'll be safe." Tony knelt down and pulled the shield off of Clint.
Cap didn't let go.
"Steve," Tony said softly, putting his hand on top of Steve's grip, "Come on. Let him go. They'll take care of him."
Steve drew a shaky breath, "We were ambushed. Didn't see them coming. It was supposed to be recon, but they found us out and there were too many." His eyes lost focus again as his voice broke.
Tony looked back at Thor. "Thor, come get him." Tony pried at Steve's fingers, "Steve, let him go now. He needs help."
Steve looked at his own hand in astonishment, and finally loosened his grip on Clint. Thor gently picked the archer up and Bruce took one look and told him to just get him back to the staging area where the medics were waiting.
Tony stood up and offered Steve his hand.
"Can you stand?" Tony asked, leaning over.
Steve put his hand to his head and felt the blood streaming down his face. He didn't answer.
Bruce came and knelt down beside them, motioning Tony to step back for a moment.
"Captain, can you look at me?" he asked quietly. He watched as Steve tried to find and focus on his eyes, with no luck. Bruce looked back at Tony, "Definite concussion." As if to confirm it, Steve drew a sharp breath, leaned over, and threw up.
Bruce stood. "Come on, Tony, help him up. We need to get him checked out."
Tony nodded and stepped over, reaching down with his hand.
Steve looked dazed. He stared at his legs for a moment and then bent one knee up and grasped Tony's hand. With a groan, he pulled himself up. When he tried to put weight on the bad leg, though, his face went white and he drew a sharp breath, swallowing hard and closing his eyes, swaying into Tony.
Tony found himself holding the Captain up. "Okay, not so much with the walking out on your own, then."
Steve leaned into to Tony, breathing and speaking through clenched teeth, "I need to get out of here." He tried to walk again.
"Stop," Tony said, his voice hard. Steve wasn't good at listening right now, so Tony leaned down and picked the Captain up, a move only possible when Tony was wearing his suit. Steve protested, but only for a moment. As Tony carried him out of the demolished building, he felt Steve lean into the armor.
Bruce followed and insisted on riding in the SHIELD ambulance after they loaded Steve in, while Tony and Thor helped with cleanup around the warehouse.
A few hours later Tony and Thor headed over to headquarters to check in on the team. Bruce met them in the lobby and showed them to a room.
Clint lay in a bed, pale and hooked to IVs; Natasha sat at his side, having just arrived back from a solo mission for Fury. On a couch on the other side of the room, Steve lay, dressed in running pants and a white t-shirt, with his bad leg splinted, a bandage on his head, and his eyes shut.
Tony knelt down next to the couch. "Cap, you okay?"
Steve opened his eyes a little, but not all the way. "Tired."
Tony looked back at Bruce, "Should we take him home? Clint's not going to be up for a while, right?"
Bruce shrugged, "No, he'll be out for a few more hours, probably. Cap can go home."
"No," Steve mumbled, not even bothering to open his eyes. "Staying here."
"Natasha can stay, Steve. You should come get some rest," Tony countered, looking back at his captain and friend. When did that happen? Tony didn't know, but had a sudden thought that it had probably been during a game night.
"Am resting. Shut up, Tony. 'm not leaving," Steve replied, and then he mumbled something Tony didn't make out.
"Natasha has cards. We can play cards while we wait."
Tony laughed and ruffled Steve's hair, replying, "What, no Tiddlywinks?"
Steve managed to smack his arm away before falling asleep on the couch. Bruce, Tony, Thor and Natasha played cards until Clint woke up.