Summary: And a few times Tony's noise made things better . . .

A/N: Someone (or several someones) mentioned doing a piece on Tony's endless chatter actually doing some good or coming in handy, and for some reason some ideas for that only came to me recently. So, to Kikino, if you're reading this, you were right, I have a problem . . . I blame a too long Christmas break from school . . .

Disclaimer: Well, if Marvel did hire me they'd at least have an overabundance of completely useless fluff . . . which is probably why they haven't . . .


It is rare that anyone in the tower goes down to Tony's workshop besides Pepper or Bruce. Pepper because she had enough experience to ascertain whether it was safe to go in and Bruce because, well, science.

The rest of them weren't exactly afraid (they were superheroes, seriously, no fear of suspicious explosions at random hours, no sir) but they preferred to keep their distance. It didn't help that they all questioned their own sanity for moving in with a mad-man in a suit every time they walked by the lab doors.

But Clint didn't really mind.

He only glared at anyone who asked (except Natasha, because that woman is the queen-mother of all glaring) until they finally ran away.

The fact was Clint sort of had a semi-permanent "nest" (Nat's word, not his) built into one of the air vents running through Tony's shop. Clint liked the noise.

Not to get it confused, the archer was just as prepared as the next person to smack Tony for the genius shooting his mouth off. But Tony in his shop was different.

Of course, Stark still talked. To everything. He talked to the bots, to Jarvis, whatever he was working on, to his suits, to himself . . . the list was endless. The rest was the sound of movement and work, gears whirring and tools clicking (sometimes Dummy smashing). Tony would laugh over successes and grumble over failures. Bruce would walk in sometimes and they would converse about things Clint only understood maybe half of.

Sounds of life.

When it got way too quiet in Barton's head sometimes and he would start to think about . . . Well, some not cheerful things . . . When that happened he came down to his spot and just listened. And felt a little more human.

He knew Tony knew he was up there. The genius would leave things for him sometimes – a new arrow or gadget – with a note to "test this if you're going to lurk."

But otherwise, much to Clint's relief and confusion, Tony never said a word about it.


Natasha Romanoff could handle herself.

Seriously, that super-scary-spy thing was not just an act it was a way of life and she made it look good.

But sometimes even the Black Widow got overwhelmed. Like right now.

She wasn't sure how many men she had just taken down, only that she was still completely alone in an undercover operation gone wrong and back-up was nowhere in sight. She had one stolen gun with three shots left and a knife that was about to slip from her grip because of the layer of blood. She thought she'd been drugged at some point, her head hurt. And she was alone.

Natasha had gotten way too used to working with Hawkeye. Or the team.

She was officially on autopilot, letting training take over and only seeing enemies. Bodies would come around corners and she would dispatch, not wasting time looking at faces, just acting.

Which is why she didn't hesitate to attack when the next figure came round the corner.

She went at him with the knife first, only registering a threat in body armor, and when that didn't work fired two shots.

Backing away she saved her last shot as a last ditch attempt at escape.


She flinched at that. And paused, which was stupid because this guy should be down by now.

"Hey, easy, it's ok we're here now, you're safe."

He was trying to distract her. She wouldn't be safe until she got out of this underground maze and found back-up.

"Ok, Natasha? I'm gonna take this off now, alright?"

The figure started reaching for his head and pulling his helmet off. When it was off Natasha could make out his face in the dim light.

"It's me, Tony. I know I'm not your favorite person but seriously, the gun was not needed to get the point across – "

"Shut. Up." Natasha was feeling more frazzled by the second and someone trying to trick her was not helping.

The man paused. Her gun was inches from his face and he seemed to be going cross-eyed trying to look at it.

Then, "Okay . . . but let me say one more thing? If you kill me Pepper'll be seriously pissed, as she has, and I quote, 'not kept me alive this long just for me to provoke a super-spy'."

Natasha lowered the gun. No way could that be anyone but Tony Stark.



"Shut up and get me out of here."

"Yes ma'am."

Bruce (and Thor, sort of)

If there was one thing Thor knew about his teammate they called the 'Hulk' it was that the giant green creature did not like loud noises. Especially thunder.

Thor didn't know what he'd done to the beast to deserve such prejudice, but he would take it back in an instant if he could.

Not that such a wish would help him now as the battle was over and the Hulk was still after him. It wasn't nearly the monster's usual fervor for a fight but they were breaking things as they raced through the streets (Thor racing and Hulk chasing) and the good Captain had asked Thor if he could keep such destruction to a minimum. Was it Thor's fault if one of his main forms of defense was the beast's least favorite?

"Well, big guy, it looks like you could use some help," a voice and a metal suit suddenly appeared beside him as he flew through the air and did nothing to raise Thor's spirits.

"I do not believe there is anything you can do to help, Stark. Get out of the way," As much as the Man of Iron was annoying, the Asgardian did not want him hurt.

"Yeah, sure, just lemme try something real quick, hm?" Before he could protest Stark was gone –

Falling back to the green giant currently chasing them.

"Stark!" Thor raised his hammer to go to the fool's aid . . . but it seemed he wasn't needed.

Immediately upon seeing the red and gold suit the Hulk stopped in his tracks, glaring at the puny thing blocking his way. (Well, blocking was perhaps the wrong word, but still . . .) The Hulk growled low in his throat then roared in an attempt to dislodge the Iron Man from the air.

"Hey, Buddy!" Was the lunatic's response.

The Hulk cocked his head like a curious puppy . . . then grabbed Stark with one giant hand and snatched him closer.

Thor shouted again, but Tony waved him off with one metal clad arm. Thor had a minor war with himself. Eventually he lowered Mjolner and decided to trust Stark unless something truly threatening happened.

The Hulk was still focused on Stark. The giant grunted at the comparably tiny tin man and plopped down in the street with Tony held in front of him.

"Hey, Buddy," Tony repeated, more calmly, "I think that's enough for today, huh? Remember what I said last time? Playtime's over when the bad guys are gone."

Hulk made a grumbling noise and pointed a giant green finger at Thor landing a few yards away. If the god of thunder didn't know better he'd say the beast was pouting.

"I know, big guy," Tony's helmet had slid open and he was giving the Hulk a sympathetic look, "Hammer man is loud. But he's on your side, and we have to play nice, right?"

Right, now the beast was definitely pouting.

By now the rest of the team was arriving, with varying degrees of disbelief.

"What?" Was all Clint got out, before Tony was talking again.

"Now, it's time to settle down. Can you do that for me?"

The Hulk grunted but set Tony down on the side walk.

A few hours later when the Doctor was back to normal and Thor was less annoyed, the god had to ask, "How did you know that would work?"

"I didn't."

And Thor was again annoyed. But slightly impressed.


Steve was really trying hard not to spook Tony again.

After the incident in the lab where he actually managed to strike Tony Stark dumb, the super-soldier felt pretty guilty. And conflicted.

So he'd kind of been avoiding Tony. He didn't think Tony was angry about it, but he wasn't taking any chances about accidentally sending Tony into that weird silent place again. That was freakier than any alien monster Steve could dream up and he was not eager to see that look on Tony's face again.

But apparently people began to notice. He wasn't taking his usual trip down to the lab to make sure Tony was still alive when it got too quiet (which wasn't that quiet really).

Eventually, Pepper passed him while Steve was fleeing a room Tony had just walked into and rolled her eyes, "You have to talk to him sometime, Captain. Who knows when the next apocalypse is?"

So, after about twenty-four hours of mentally prepping himself and a warning glare from Natasha, he was standing in front of Tony's shop door. He had a peace-offering of pizza in his hand and he'd made sure Bruce wasn't present because it would be awkward to have to ask the Doctor to give them some privacy.

He buzzed the door and stepped in when it slid open.

Turned out he probably shouldn't have been so nervous.

Tony looked up at him and grinned comically with a mess of wires hanging out of his mouth as he worked on his latest project, "Hey, S'eve. S'up?"

The Captain hesitated in the doorway, but finally moved to put his package down, "I, uh, thought you might be hungry."

"Did Pepper put you up to this? I told her I've been eating just fine, but she still fusses. She even got Jarvis in on it – "

"For your own good, sir."

"Shut up, Jarvis."

And just like that Tony was bantering with Steve and Jarvis and munching on pizza.

Steve was still a bit on edge, but Tony seemed normal. He supposed he couldn't ask for more than that. They talked a while longer, Steve feeling more and more at ease but staying far away from any topics that might set something off.

The Captain was shocked then, when Tony was the one who brought it up.

Steve was just getting up to leave when Tony said, "You shouldn't feel bad, you know?"

At Steve's confused look, Tony sighed, "About . . . what you said. Me being like Howard?"

"Oh," Steve fidgeted in his seat, "I, um, I am sorry though. I-I didn't realize – "

"Why would you?" Tony interrupted quietly. Steve looked up at the younger Stark and Tony sighed again, seeming to choose his words carefully, "Howard . . . My dad wasn't the worst father in the world, Steve," he shrugged, "But he wasn't the best either. He never hit me or yelled at me . . . At best he ignored me." Tony let his gaze fall to the table top, and said slowly, "I don't know if the Howard Stark you knew is the same man I knew. All I know is, when I was a kid, I never wanted to be like him. But I was always afraid I'd done just that. It's not your fault."

Tony shrugged again and looked up at Steve, "And that's my speech. Stop feeling guilty, I seriously cannot handle a sulking super-soldier in my house." He smirked and with that turned back to his project.

Steve figured he was pretty much dismissed, but he sat there a moment anyway.

"You are," Tony looked up seeming almost surprised Steve was still there and talking, "Like him, I mean."

Tony's mouth dropped open but Steve continued, "You're exactly the kind of person who would fly into enemy territory, against orders, because he knows it's the right thing to do, no matter how crazy. That's the Howard I knew."

Tony's mouth snapped shut and he stared at Steve.

Before either of them could start to feel too awkward, Steve got up and went to the door. Just before stepping out, though, he turned to a still stunned Tony, "And I'll be here to make sure you don't screw it up."

The door slid closed behind Steve but it didn't block Tony's short bark of laughter on the other side.

A/N: This has been in my head a while but I'll just make it a late Christmas present to ya'll. Hope you had a good holiday. Also, I'm sorry if they seem a bit short, but I really wanted to get it done and it's bordering on one a.m. Good night. Or morning. Whatever.