It starts with Tony Stark, because all good and wholesome things do.
Well, okay. Maybe not entirely good, and definitely not wholesome, but definitely awesome and full of win because when Tony Stark does something, whether it's good or really, really stupid, he doesn't do it halfway.
"Nay, Man of Iron. I think this not one of your more brilliant ideas," Thor begins, but Tony, faceplate flipped up and grinning maybe a little maniacally in the back of the Quinjet, only uncaps the permanent marker in reply.
"Tony," Steve begins, disapproving. Behind him, Clint is making frantic thumbs up signs and mouthing 'Winning'. The shadows in his eyes that had rolled in as soon as they'd gotten word Loki was in the area are still there, but there's something bright in them too, bright and fierce and totally thirsting for blood, metaphorical or not.
Tony is only too happy to oblige.
Natasha is navigating the jet, but he caught her approving eyebrow raise when he brandished his weapon of choice.
"Sorry Cap, can't hear you over my awesome." With that said, he launches his assault on an unconscious God of Mischief, tongue sticking out thoughtfully and eyebrows scrunched together as he carefully scribbled along a smooth, crazy-forehead. He can feel Steve's heavy stare on his shoulders, see's Bruce peeking out from one of those scratchy ambulance blankets and watching the whole scene calmly, and tries to focus on the task at hand and not think of the good old doctor naked under that flimsy barrier.
Because, yeah, uncomfortable suit, not a lot of room, lots of other reasons that's not a good idea, blah blah blah.
"I'm thinking 'God of Dickery'," he says thoughtfully, and Clint whoops. "Any inputs?"
"A penis." A feminine voice says from behind him. Clint whoops harder. "Underlining it."
"Creative, Widow. Creative and ruthless. I like it." Tony obliged. "Cap? Got any input?"
Said Captain's lips thinned.
"Is that a no? Jesus, fine, don't go all Fury stare on me, it's worse when there's two eyes instead of one. Well, not really." He hears something like a chuckle in Bruce's vicinity, and resists the urge to tap the arc reactor that doesn't stop the feeling of fluttering somewhere in his chest area. He'll have to remember to check that out later, because seriously, that can't be good. "Barton?"
"Dicks," the archer said with vehemence. "Dicks, all over his face. Dicks on his eyelids."
"Taking lessons from Natasha, I see. Good man." With Thor and Steve hovering like mother hens in the background, occasionally clucking and telling him what a bad idea this was and yeah, duh, he knew that, but it was going to be hilarious so really c'mon, he finally finishes his masterpiece and steps back to fully enjoy it.
Even Steve chokes over the finished product.
"You have bested my brother at mischief for now," Thor says, as grave as one could get in a room where there are sharpie dicks drawn all over the sleeping occupants face. "But I fear that this shall come back and dine upon our buttocks."
"I think you mean bite us in the ass." Bruce pipes up. "In which case, you're probably right." He tries to catch Tony's eye in a 'really Stark you just have to push your luck don't you' look, which Tony neatly evades by capping his marker and storing it with exaggerating flourish in his suit.
"Now that this is settled," he went on, and flipped the faceplate down. A few moments later, and he was flipping it back up. "Good. Got it. We're good." He sent his own thumbs up to Clint, who was grinning maniacally. Steve made a low sound in the back of his throat. "Tony, what did you do?"
"What, me? I didn't do anything. Or, rather, I didn't do anything I haven't done before. I'm sure Fury knows about it, so it's okay, he hasn't ripped my guts out and used them for jump rope yet, so I assume it's all good in the hood."
"That's my story and I'm sticking to it." At the look on Steve's face, Tony raises his hands. "Alright, alright, calm down there Capsicle. I'm just getting JARVIS to tap into S.H.I.E.L.D. security camera feeds so he can catch the exact moment that dickhead here," he gestures to Loki. The frown on Thor's face deepens, even as Clint bursts out laughing. "Realizes he's become Ironmans personal easel. In fact…"
And here, Tony has the suit re-eject the sharpie. He's not stupid, okay, there are several tests he can and has blown out of the water to prove this, but what Thor said strikes a chord. Honestly, he'd just wanted a bit of fun to get that haunted look from Clint's eyes and stop Natasha from grinding the Quinjets handles to a fine powder with her bare hands. It just ended up as one of those ideas he never really thinks through, the ones where it looks suspiciously like everyone is going to suffer the backlash of his lack of forethought, and damned if that isn't a bitch.
Well, maybe he could take the heat off them. Just a little.
"Tony, what—" But Steve's protest is cut off when Tony makes a flourished TS, as if he was signing off on a check instead of a supervillains upper lip.
There is silence for all of five seconds.
"What did you just do?" Steve chokes out, eyes wide and disbelieving. Thor is looking equally distressed, while Clint's smile widens into something no less than terrifying as he makes grabby hands for the marker. "My turn," he hisses, using his best My precious tone.
"Absolutely not." Natasha says.
"What did you just do?" Bruce, now, echoing Steve, sitting up a little straighter in his miniature blanket cocoon.
Tony shrugged. "As if I'd give all the credit to you people," he grins, reckless and avoiding any eyes determined to lock with his.
"Do you even realize what you've just done?" Steve asks lowly.
He waves a dismissive hand. "You know me, Cap." He forced a preen. "Can't help but show off. This was my handiwork, by the way, so I think I deserve at least ninety seven percent of the credit. Natasha gets the rest for the dick-underline."
"Then why aren't her initials on there too?" Bruce demands, not as slouched as before and certainly a bit more tense.
"Um, because I'm the one with the sharpie? Duh."
Has Tony ever mentioned that he sort of loved Bruce's' Teacher tone? In a really dirty, not safe for work or lab but maybe workshop oh definitely on Fury's desk, that'd show the bastard kind of way. But he digressed.
"When you guys get a sharpie, you can write whatever the hell you want on whoevers face. Excluding mine. Okay? Yeah? Are we good?"
Both Bruces' and Steves' mouths open at the same moment Natasha says, "We're here."
That was totally Tony's cue to jump out of the jet and zoom off to greet Fury with his habitual 'arrrr me matey!' greeting.
They end up in Fury's office only an hour later, once Loki has been properly detained and there are absolutely no guards where they can see him because god fucking damn it, Stark.
"I couldn't help it." He shrugs. "It was hilarious."
Fury doesn't say anything, so Tony totally accepts that as an agreement. He hopes JARVIS tapped into all of the security feeds; he wanted Fury's face when he first saw Loki as his wallpaper for his phone. Walking into S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters had been the funniest thing to happen to him since Barton got his head stuck in one of the ventilation shafts when he had tried jumping out upside down to scare Tony in his workshop.
Peoples faces, man. And not just any people, oh no; the workaholic drones who work in S.H.I.E.L.D. and lie to their sick old grannies right to their faces and who only get out of their little bubbles to go get more forms to fill out.
It had been a thing of beauty.
"How long do you think it'll be until he finds out?" He asks the ceiling, head tilted back and resting on the chair. "I mean, Dummy did that to me once after I sent him to time out. It took me three days. I went to board meetings. I talked to Pepper. She said nothing, the traitor."
"As interesting as that is," Natasha cuts in, sounding the very opposite of enthralled. "We still have the little problem of Stark being a complete and utter moron and basically handing Loki an invitation to attempt to kill him."
Tony shrugs, which was more suppose to look devil-may-care than the 'better me than any of you' they all apparently take it as. Not that it was wrong, necessarily, but damn it.
"You're an idiot," Bruce says calmly.
"Moron." Natasha agrees.
"My fucking hero," Clint grins viciously, although now there's faint worry making its way into the righteous light in his eyes at the small if childish victory.
"Motherfuckers." Fury sighs.
They're strolling now through S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. Or, rather, he and Bruce and Steve are. Clint, Natasha and Thor had headed on up to the roof to fly back to the Tower, but Tony is hellbent on getting some goddamn food in him that isn't something from a horrible monotone colored cafeteria.
He's just opened his mouth—most likely to say something awkward or or completely rude that will no doubt escalate into him and Captain Wonder over there having a fight, he can already see Bruce's' lips twitching knowingly from the corner of his eye—when the relative peaceful silence is broken by someone other than him.
Horrible, nails-on-a-chalkboard screaming that they shouldn't really have been able to hear all the way up from where they are, but they do, and it's like it's in the room next to them, echoing hard against the walls and assaulting their ears so badly Bruce's blanket slips a little when his hands twitch to cover his ears. The floor beneath their feet literally quakes from the amount of rage in the sound.
When Tony looks over, Steve's eyes are as wide as saucers and Bruce is looking a little green around the edges.
"Whoa there, big guy." He holds out a steadying hand, which makes Bruce look at him with a mixture of wariness and gratitude. "You okay?"
"I think Loki knows," Bruce says instead. Tony blanches.
"What gave it away, do you think?" He wonders.
Steve is already pulling his cowl back on, hefting his shield a little higher as he turns to backtrack to where they're keeping Loki when Coulson, dragging what appears to be two young women behind him with one arm and the psychic power from his brain, or maybe the second woman is just running, whatever, Tony's idea was funnier, stops in front of them. "Take them." He says, breath whistling out from between his teeth. Tony has to resist the urge to poke the arm in a sling.
"What—" Cap begins, but he's taking care of an armful of shaking brunette, and staring down in no little amount of horror. "I… Hello, ma'am." He says weakly.
She never looks up from where her dark, wavy hair is hiding her face, or stop shaking.
"Take them, and leave." Coulson says again, gun now magically in his good hand. "Now, Stark. Captain, would you mind staying behind? We might need you."
"Of course, Agent Coulson." Carefully, he hands the shaking woman off to the panting one, who keeps looking over her shoulder worriedly. Tony has already taken out his phone—absolutely delighted to see his new wallpaper—and is talking fast with Happy who needed to have gotten here fifteen minutes ago.
"Happy's on his way," he says, bouncing on the balls of his feet. "With liquor, 'cause this seems like an alcohol kind of day."
A low keening noise is starting to come from the woman, and even Bruce takes a step back. Coulson doesn't blink, which only further proves Tony's theory the MIB movies were based off this guy. He'd first thought the man was an android, but the thought that there was someone out there that could build a better 'bot than him grated like nothing else.
And the idea that Coulson built himself was just laughable.
Except Coulson was sending him that knowing flat look with one eyebrow just the barest bit higher than the other, so that's supporting one of his other theories that he's psychic.
"Take them to the Tower, and then standby. Do you understand?" Coulson goes on. A stray S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent bolts passed, caught only by Coulsons outstretched foot that sends them cartwheeling midair for a moment before landing painfully. Steve squeaks. "Get back to securing the perimeter," he says mildly.
The Agent stutters out an affirmative and runs back in the direction he came from, albeit slower than before.
"You're vicious," Tony decides.
"Professional." He calmly corrects.
The girl is starting to make the sound of a balloon that hasn't been tied right, all the air whistling out slowly, and to be honest it's starting to freak Tony the fuck out.
"Get them out, get to the Tower, standby." Coulson repeats, and then he and Cap are off and leaving a naked doctor and a freaked out Tony behind with a woman staring at them with wide eyes, arms wrapped securely around the one shaking.
"So…" Tony begins. "Hi."
"You're Tony Stark," the woman breathes.
"Ah, yup, that's me. This here is Doctor Bruce Banner," he gestures to Bruce, who gives this little awkward wave, still wrapped in what's got to be the most uncomfortable blanket ever but he's not complaining, and it's seriously the cutest thing. "AKA the Hulk."
"Tony," Bruce mutters reproachfully, and he shrugs. They're starting to walk now, or more like shuffle along, and there are still more Agents running back and forth a hell of a lot more faster than they are.
"Uh, not to put unnecessary strain on little miss here, but we should probably get going. Y'know, faster. Slow and steady wins the race, but you know what? I had turtle soup last week, and let me tell you, that little dead turtle spirit was probably kicking itself all the way to little turtle heaven. Or little turtle hell."
The shaking becomes more pronounced. Tony, naturally, panics.
"Uh. I'm sure the turtle was killed very humanely. Or maybe not? I think they boil them alive or something; or is that crab?" Oh Christ. This wasn't as bad as it looked, right? Bruce was over there, shuffling along with that sort of half smile on his face, so it couldn't be that bad, right? Right? "Look, Jesus, can you just get her—"
"Dicks," the shaking girl whispered brokenly. Tony paused.
"Dicks!" She wailed, fisting her hands in the shirt of the woman holding her. "Dicks were on his face! Oh god!"
Even Bruce looked stunned at this, so Tony felt it justified to gape. "You…"
"You saw Loki?"
The woman, who looked near faint with terror just a few moments ago, now looked ready to step up and scold the Hulk. "You saw Loki?" She shrieked, dropping her arms. The girl stumbled.
"There were dicks on his eyelids." Tears, literal actual fucking tears Tony already knew he was going to love this girl, were streaming down her face. Her cheeks were trembling, but her fiercely huge grin didn't waiver for a moment.
"I like you," Tony decides on the spot. He thinks the sound he hears to his left is Bruce facepalming, but he doesn't look over to check. "What's your name?"
"Darcy. Darcy Lewis." She waves a vague hand to her friend, and nearly ends up smacking her in the face. "Jane Foster, girlfriend of Thor, scientist, stick in the mud, you name it."
"I am n—" Jane Foster begins, which is conveniently cut off but the building not so conveniently begin to tremble.
"That's our cue to a) get the fuck out of here, b) go superhero, or c) die." Tony says calmly.
"I don't like option C," Darcy begins, already picking up the pacing, and Jesus that grin has not fallen from her face even once. Tony would bet a large chunk of money that she's had that grin for a while now. "And option B sounds suspiciously like option C for us."
"It does, doesn't it?" He says cheerfully, now running down S.H.I.E.L.D. hallways with a not so surprisingly quick Bruce and Jane on his heels. "Damn, he's pissed. He wasn't even fully coherent when we brought him in. What did you do?"
"There were dicks. On his face." Her voice is flat.
"I didn't know anyone had authorization to be down there besides Director Fury and Agent Coulson," Bruce says quietly from behind him. Which, huh, good point.
"Holy shit," Tony blurts out, delighted, even as Jane starts making half assed excuses for her and the Darcy girl nearly runs into a wall laughing herself silly. "You broke into a S.H.I.E.L.D. holding cell?"
"Broke into is such an ugly phrase," Darcy cackles. Actually cackles. "It's more like borrowing without asking."
"You borrowed a supervillain?"
"More like borrowed S.H.I.E.L.D.'s time with a supervillain."
"I like her." Tony tells Bruce, grinning fiercely over his shoulder. "Can we keep her?"
"Papa Stark." She bats her eyelashes at him.
They're in S.H.I.E.L.D. lobby when the walls shudder and almost seem to flex. Grip tightening on the suitcase handle of the suit, he sends a calculating glance to Bruce. "You okay, big guy?"
"Dude!" Darcy is inching closer to Bruce, who appears to be shaking a bit, and that's not good for anybody. "You're looking like a cracked glow-stick."
"Told you." Tony grins.
"Aren't we suppose to be getting out of here?" Fosters voice is just a few shades high of calm, wringing her hands in front of her and glancing around worriedly while Tony cheerfully ignored her and checked his phone.
"Well, Widow copies, but she's not about to pull a U-turn unless someone is dead or dying. Or Coulson calls." Bruce doesn't ask him why. "And I'm pretty sure Happy is out front, so, ladies?" He offers his arms. Darcy is the only one to take it.
"So," she says, even as they hurriedly step outside and slide into the car Happy has pulled up to the curb. "Can we get pizza tonight?"
The look Foster sends her makes Tony burst out laughing.