Alright everybody, welcome to the first chapter of Home Sweet Home. I still can't seem to come up with good titles for these things. Anyway, to the people who are coming here from Protective Reasoning, popular vote said this was coming first. For the people who voted for the other story, rest assured that it will be coming directly after this one.
If you are new to my Avengers stories, this is a prequel to my story Protective Reasoning. Give it a read if you want.
This chapter gave me a bit of trouble, and I know a lot happens in it. I swear it will get better after this. I plan on giving you all a good look into how the friendships you saw in Protective Reasoning came about.
So please read and review, and give me your feedback, suggestions whatever. And know that I respond to all reviews I get, unless you review as a guest. But I read and appreciate every single one.
As always, I own nothing.
"Tony, you don't have to do this." Bruce spoke hesitantly as he climbed out of the billionaire's car in front of the heavily damaged Stark Tower.
They'd just gotten back from seeing off Thor and Loki, and the Avengers had gone their separate ways. Bruce had been prepared to find his way back to India, or maybe Africa this time around, but Tony had been quick to offer him both room and lab in his Tower. While the offer was very tempting, Bruce hadn't been sure that he wanted to put his new friend into the danger that was his constant companion. But Tony had all but pleaded, and in the end convinced him to stay for just a few days to 'test the waters' so to speak.
Even so, Bruce wanted to make sure that Tony knew he should in no way feel obligated to offer him anything at all. Much less the kindness of food and shelter when it was perfectly possible that he could destroy what was left of the Tower if the Other Guy made an appearance. True, he had that part of himself under control now more than ever, but it was still a very big risk for Tony to be taking.
"Bruce, seriously." the billionaire rolled his eyes as he waited for the other man on the steps leading up to the Tower doors, a smirk firmly in place. "I want to give you a place to stay, alright? You can't tell me that you like staying on that tin can Fury calls a base-in-the-sky with all those beady little eyes staring at you like you're going to snap and kill them all."
"In their defense, it's a valid possibility." Bruce said dryly, grabbing his duffle bag that held his small array of possessions. He had been staying on SHIELD's helicarrier in the few days since the invasion had actually happened. But he was pretty sure after what had happened during the attack on the helicarrier, he wasn't very welcome there. Or anywhere else near a SHIELD base.
Tony scoffed and rolled his eyes as he turned to go into the building, Bruce following behind with a slow shake of his head at the younger man's actions.
Tony Stark was the only man Bruce had ever met to be so indifferent about the Other Guy. Part of him thought the billionaire was crazy, or had some inherent death wish because of it. He wasn't going to lie to himself and pretend that it wasn't nice to finally have someone look at him without fear in their eyes, though.
"Anyway." Tony changed the subject as they walked through the building lobby, bypassing every security checkpoint with a cheery wave and complete ignorance of the confused looks Bruce was being sent. The doctor suspected it might have something to do with the fact that he didn't think Tony Stark was one to play well with others, by his own admission. "The top floors of the Tower are really the only ones that got damaged in our little brawl. They're already undergoing repairs, but until they're done I've got a temporary apartment floor you can stay on. Luckily, the labs didn't take much damage, but I'm going ahead and taking the opportunity to just turn the top four floors into our own little Avenger's area, including giving our labs an update. I'll show you more of the plans when we get upstairs."
Bruce listened to Tony talk, feeling slightly overwhelmed the second the man mentioned that he could stay on an apartment floor. They'd stepped onto what was apparently a private elevator, seeing as it took a passcode to enter.
'Good afternoon, Mr. Stark.' a disembodied voice came from above, making Bruce look up in confusion. 'Should I tell Ms. Potts to expect you and Dr. Banner to be arriving?'
"Yes, JARVIS." Tony said easily, before catching on to his companion's expression. "JARVIS is my AI. He's basically everywhere in the Tower and hooked up to everything electronic. He'll also help you with pretty much whatever you need, so don't be afraid to ask."
'Of course. It would be my pleasure to assist you Dr. Banner.' the disembodied voice agreed, and Bruce couldn't help but be impressed, an expression that Tony also noticed, and made him chuckle.
"This, my friend, is just the tip of the ice burg." he said, throwing an arm around the doctor's shoulders.
Bruce almost jumped at the contact before forcing himself to relax, giving his head a quick shake of amazement. He couldn't remember the last time anyone had willingly gotten so close to him.
When the elevator doors opened up, Bruce glanced over what he could see of the floor. There was a kitchen almost directly in front of them, a large window with couches nearby to the right and a short hallway and doorway to the left. There was a blonde woman seated on one of the couches, laptop in her lap and talking into her phone.
"No, Leroy, at this time Stark Industries is not looking to invite any second parties into the development of the technology." she was saying, sounding somewhat exasperated, looking up and grinning when she saw Tony making a beeline for where she was sitting. "Yes, I'll let you know if Mr. Stark reconsiders, but I wouldn't hold your breath for it."
Bruce came forward slowly, looking around himself, slightly uncomfortable. He stopped at the edge of the circle of couches, standing awkwardly as Tony plopped down beside the woman that was finishing up her phone call.
"And how are you today, Ms. Potts?" Tony questioned once she had set aside both phone and laptop, looking to him.
"Annoyed." she answered matter of factly, accepting the kiss on the cheek before glaring at him. "How many times do I have to tell you to get those reports back to me, Tony?"
"Maybe you haven't noticed, but I've been a bit busy with the whole aftermath of the 'saving the world' thing lately." he retorted easily, before casting a smirk at Bruce. "Pepper, this' Dr. Bruce Banner."
"Oh." she looked up to him quickly, and mentally Bruce prepared himself for the tension and fear that usually accompanied him meeting new people. Instead, he blinked slightly when she just stood to greet him, holding out her hand. "Dr. Banner, it's a pleasure to meet you. I hope Tony hasn't been driving you too crazy."
Bruce felt himself give a small, almost hesitant smile, taking her offered hand and giving it a quick shake. He was amazed to see a little caution in her eyes, but no fear, which was certainly leaps and bounds better than what he usually saw. He'd just have to be careful not to give her any reason to let that caution escalate.
"It's a pleasure as well, Ms. Potts. And no, not today at any rate." he offered another grin and the woman chuckled knowingly.
"Hey, I'm right here, you know." Tony protested crossing his arms over his chest in a pout, before he leapt to his feet. "Come on, Bruce, I'll show you the lab."
Before he could reach where the doctor was standing, Pepper stepped in front of him, reaching out to put a hand on his chest.
"No. You're going to go get those reports looked over before you get head over heels into some project. I will show Dr. Banner his room while you do that, and then you can scamper off to the lab." she said matter of factly, no room for argument in her tone.
"But Pepper," Tony started, and she silenced him with a look that had him huffing as he sent Bruce a pleading look.
"Don't look at me." the doctor raised his hands in surrender, not wanting to get into the middle of anything within ten minutes of arriving at the tower.
"Traitor." Tony accused, before sighing and taking the papers Pepper directed him to. "Fine, fine. Jeeze what are you, my mother? I was pretty sure you were like my girlfriend or something." he muttered under his breath.
Pepper snorted and rolled her eyes with a smile, before waving Bruce back towards the elevator.
"I'm sorry about that." she said to him as she pressed a button and the doors closed. "But if I don't get him to do it now, trust me when I say that it won't get done."
"No, that's fine." Bruce said quickly, fixing the strap to his duffle bag on his shoulder somewhat awkwardly. "Thanks for letting me stay here."
"It's no problem at all, Dr. Banner." Pepper said lightly, stepping forward as the elevator doors opened. "You've got this floor all to yourself."
Bruce followed her, looking around in surprise. It looked almost identical to the one Tony and Pepper were on, complete with kitchen and multiple couches. There was a lot of room, and Bruce had absolutely no idea what he was going to do with himself. The last few years he'd made do with whatever shelter he could find, and it was certainly never this luxurious.
"The kitchen's stocked with the basics, and if there's anything you want, just let JARVIS know, and he'll put it on the list for the next delivery. Of course, you're always welcome to join Tony and I if you want." Pepper continued, giving him a kind smile. "I'll give you some time to get settled in because Lord knows Tony's going to be coming to get you as soon as he's done."
"Alright, thank you." Bruce nodded, agreeing with her statement, but finding that somehow the billionaire's enthusiasm didn't bother him. He was a little excited to see what the man had referred to as 'Candyland' as well. What SHIELD had let him use on the helicarrier had been the closest thing to a real lab he'd used in years.
Pepper gave him another smile before stepping back into the elevator, and Bruce wandered down the short hallway into the bedroom. The lights came on automatically as he entered, which made him give a blink of surprise before he simply gave an amazed shake of his head and continued to set his bag down on the huge bed across from the door. To the right was another doorway that he assumed led into a bathroom, and to the left was a window that looked out over the city, with a view of the Empire State Building. Of course, the area still looked like an alien army had gone through it, but he supposed that was to be expected.
It didn't take him long to unpack, seeing as he didn't have that many possessions in the first place, and once he had everything put neatly away, he simply sat back on one of the couches and allowed himself to look around in unmasked awe, wondering how in the world he had ended up staying in Stark Tower.
When the elevator sounded, he looked to it curiously only to grin when Tony's head popped in, followed shortly by the rest of him.
"How do you like your new digs, Banner?" the billionaire asked flippantly, all but falling down onto the couch across from the doctor.
"It's great, Tony, really." Bruce said sincerely. "When you said you had a room for me, I wasn't expecting an entire floor."
The other man just shrugged before unexpectedly rolling to his feet again, eyes brightening in excitement.
"Well, come on. I believe I mentioned something about some science before we were so rudely interrupted by Pepper and her paperwork." Tony made a face that caused Bruce to chuckle, standing to follow him back into the elevator again. "Like I said, my main lab is being renovated and being checked for structural damage and silly things like that, but there's a smaller private one down one floor."
"Right, silly things." Bruce scoffed, with a roll of his eyes that just made Tony smirk at him.
Bruce allowed Tony to all but drag him out of the elevator and down a hallway to a door that once again required a passcode. He became slightly wary when he caught Tony's now very excited face, but he felt his own eyes widen when the door opened, revealing what Tony had called a 'smaller' lab. Truth be told, it was probably a good half of the entire floor. As he stared, Tony gave a muted chuckle and continued into the area, clapping his hands twice and then turning back around as all the machines and computers turned on.
"Welcome to about, oh, a quarter of Candyland." the billionaire informed him easily and Bruce shook his head as he followed Tony's lead inside.
"You're serious?" Bruce heard himself ask as he took his glasses out of his shirt pocket and slid them on, looking around in amazement.
"Psh, yeah buddy. This' nothing. Your lab's going to be cooler than this." Tony scoffed before going over to a mostly transparent screen that was laying on a desk, tapping on it quickly.
"My lab?" Bruce asked quickly, turning to look at Tony again from where he had been inspecting one of the engines Tony had propped up and was apparently working on.
"Well duh. You didn't think I was going to let you live here without your own lab, did you? And since you're already here, you can have design input and everything." Tony said as if it was obvious, glancing up to Bruce with a raised eyebrow.
"Tony, you don't have to-," Bruce started, only to have Tony give an exasperated sigh and meet his gaze.
"Seriously, if you don't stop with that, I'm going to have to start ripping my hair out or something. I think I figured out why people don't do nice things. All it gets them is their motives questioned and an incessant mantra of annoying things like 'thank you' and 'you didn't have to'. Well no shit, Sherlock."
Bruce gave the billionaire an exasperated look of his own, able to recognize the teasing quality to the man's voice.
"JARVIS, pull up that algorithm I was trying to work out the other day. I want to see if Bruce can tell me why in the hell the new tracking system isn't tracking." Tony changed the subject abruptly, and Bruce came forward, interested.
Pepper gave an amused sigh as she stepped out of the elevator on the floor where Tony had set up a temporary lab. It was well after eight at night, and she was positive neither Tony nor Bruce had left the room in well over five hours. While she knew it was typical for Tony, she figured that she at least owed it to Bruce to make sure he wasn't going crazy. As she typed in her passcode to open the door, however, she felt her eyes widen when she heard the banter between the two men as they worked over a screen, arguing about something she wasn't even going to try to follow.
"Boys." she said sharply, an edge of amusement and exasperation to her voice, making them both look up suddenly, Tony annoyed and Bruce wide-eyed with surprise.
Tony brightened once he saw her.
"Oh, hey, Pep." he said before looking back to Bruce. "I'm telling you. That will work just fine."
"Sure, if you want to blow yourself up." Bruce said as a sigh, though he seemed to visibly pull back into himself, something that made Pepper frown, and not just at the idea of Tony trying to blow himself again.
"Wouldn't be the first time." Tony tossed back cheerily, before faltering at the woman's glare. "Or… we could take another look at it, couldn't we, Bruce?"
"I wouldn't have let him blow himself up." the doctor added in, seemingly for Pepper's benefit, and the woman relaxed and gave him a smile.
"Thank you, Dr. Banner." she told him truthfully, before turning her gaze back to Tony who offered her a typical smirk. "You will be taking another look at whatever it is you're trying to kill yourself with this time, after dinner. It's after eight. Just because you like spending an ungodly number of hours holed up in here doesn't mean you don't need to eat. How many times have we been over this?"
"Too many." Tony replied without skipping a beat, and Pepper just sighed, knowing it was true. "But you still love me, right Pepper?"
"If you're lucky." she said dryly, before stepping aside and waving both men towards the door. "Let's go, both of you."
"Oh, that's alright. I'm-," whatever Bruce was going to say was cut abruptly off by Tony latching onto his arm and dragging him forward.
"Hungry, he's hungry. Famished." the billionaire said casting a wary glance to Pepper and speaking quickly into the doctor's ear as he pulled him out of the lab.
The woman smirked, catching a bit of what Tony was saying as they passed.
"Trust me, do not argue. Whatever you do. She will force feed you, it's best to just go willingly."
Bruce looked somewhat surprised but didn't protest, only speaking up once they were almost to the elevator.
"Tony, let go of me." he said, forcing an exasperated tone into his voice and rolling his eyes.
The group of three ate together, Tony and Pepper talking with each other over a variety of subjects while Bruce just mainly sat back and listened, trying not to intrude.
That's the way it continued for almost a week. Bruce got used to living in the Tower, and the always present possibility of Tony popping up unexpectedly that went with it. He was still quiet, reserved, and would try his best to almost make it seem like he wasn't even there whenever he was anywhere but the lab, which Pepper and surprisingly Tony picked up on. So, the billionaire took to pulling Bruce into conversation as well.
Slowly, the doctor found himself relaxing. He was happy, for the first time in a long time, and he was pretty sure the Other Guy had never been farther from his mind. He and Tony would spend most of their days in the lab, and Bruce found that the billionaire had an eye for much more than just engineering. He could also tell by the way that Pepper stared at him during more science-related conversations that she was impressed that he was able to keep up with Tony in a way she had never been able to.
One night after dinner, Bruce had decided to forgo the lab for an hour or two and simply try to relax and read a book instead. He found himself joining Pepper on Tony's floor instead of his own, settling down with his book while she worked on some paperwork. It was a nice, silent companionship that she seemed to enjoy and he certainly didn't mind after spending the day with Tony.
They both looked up when the elevator doors opened, Tony stepping through and moving to join them on the couches.
"So, Bruce, can you just stop kidding yourself and admit you're going to stay?" Tony asked lightly and Bruce gave a sigh as he sat his book to the side and faced the billionaire, expression hesitant.
It was a conversation they'd had a time or two before, and while Bruce wasn't hiding the fact that he liked living in the Tower, he was still wary that he'd eventually end up causing more trouble for his friend in the form of the huge, green rage monster that he occasionally became.
"Tony, as amazing as it is here, and as grateful as I am that you'd even consider letting me stay, I don't want to hurt you. Or Pepper." Bruce said carefully, not looking at Pepper who had turned to listen to their conversation as well.
"Of course I'd let you stay. You're the only idiot I've ever met that's smart enough to keep up in my lab and stupid enough to put up with me." Tony said matter of factly, a knowing smirk forming on his face. "Besides, despite whatever anger issues the guy has, the Big Guy saved my life. And he doesn't mind listening to Rodgers, so when he moves in too, we'll be good on that end."
"Tony, you haven't even asked if he wants to live here yet." Bruce said exasperatedly, shaking his head. Tony had explained to him before that he was putting rooms in for the rest of the Avengers, and didn't seem bothered that Thor was in another realm, Steve probably had a perfectly good place of his own, and that Agents Barton and Romanoff were still active SHIELD agents.
"Semantics." Tony waved him off, causing Pepper to sigh as well.
"Tony," Bruce shook his head again, but the billionaire just cut him off.
"Fine, whatever. But when we go Avenging and we all die because you were off in the asscrack of wherever, that'll be on you." he said with a shrug and Bruce glowered at him. "What? We both know damn good and well that you've got a lid on the Big Guy better than ever anyway. The only thing you're going to do here is help us, and have extended geek-out sessions in the lab that would make any one of your former colleagues drool on sight. Seriously, that's it."
Bruce bit his lip, warring with himself. His mind told him that this would only ever end badly, that'd he'd end up hurting his friends now just like he had before. Then again, now his friends consisted of at least one and possibly four more superheroes. That had to count for something. Before he said a word, he glanced to Pepper, wordlessly asking if she wanted him to stay. They too had formed a friendship over the past week, and he would never stay if she thought she was in any danger.
"Bruce, I want you to stay too . I trust you." she said truthfully, reading the question in his eyes.
Tony, to his credit was silent for the moment, watching the doctor with unmasked pleading. Bruce saw and he gave a heavy sigh before he gave a short nod and met Tony's gaze.
"Alright. I'll stay." he said, unable to help a grin when the billionaire practically started bouncing up and down in his seat in excitement.
"Tony." Pepper scolded, thought there was an edge of laughter to her voice as she watched his antics. She cast a gaze to Bruce, and saw him give her a slight roll of his eyes before raising an eyebrow as the billionaire hopped over to sit beside him instead, holding his holoscreen phone out in front of him and letting a hologram of a floor plan pop up.
"So, which room do you want?" Tony smirked, making the hologram a little bigger.
Bruce looked over the image curiously. He counted six rooms fanning out around what seemed to be a circular common area, complete with a large kitchen. None of the rooms were small by any means, and he didn't see much difference between them. He knew, though, that Tony wouldn't let him get away with not specifying his preference, so he pointed out the one almost directly across from the kitchen, fourth around if you started at the elevator doors.
Within moments, that room within the hologram had been shaded green, which just made Bruce sigh and cast an exasperated glance to the billionaire who just smiled unashamedly.
"I'll take this one." Tony muttered, letting a gold color shade the room to Bruce's right, before he looked to the doctor. "Which one should we give to Capsicle?"
Bruce rolled his eyes again at the nickname for Steve, before he gave a small grin.
Together, Bruce and Tony mapped out which rooms would be going to which Avenger. Hawkeye had been designated the room with the largest window at Tony's suggestion, which turned out to be the first room from the elevator doors. From there came the Black Widow's room, followed by Rodgers', then Bruce's, Tony's and finally Thor's. While Pepper sat watching them both in amused fascination, they also began planning how to decorate the rooms, though Bruce was sure to steer Tony's ideas away from anything their new teammates may find offensive. After all, they still didn't really know each other very well.
Truthfully, he wasn't even aware of Hawkeye's first name, and he was fairly certain Agent Romanoff was still afraid of him. After the battle, and subsequent Schwarma at Tony's insistence, both SHIELD agents had left fairly quickly and Bruce hadn't actually managed to have an actual conversation with either of them. Aside from the one where Agent Romanoff had convinced him to come in in the first place. And seeing as he'd at one point been held at gunpoint, he didn't really count that as a civil conversation.
Bruce was shocked that the renovations were complete on the top floors of the tower by the time another four days had passed. His new lab was quite honestly the very definition of an R&D paradise, and coupled with Tony's that made up the other half of the floor, Candyland turned out to be better than he'd ever expected. Above their labs was the Avengers' new living space, and below was the floor dedicated to a training gym that Tony had made sure would be able to stand up to Steve's and Thor's enhanced strengths, as well as include a state of the art firing range that he swore would be able to give even Hawkeye a run for his money. The top floor, directly above their rooms, remained mostly unchanged from the original design; an open lounge area complete with bar and balcony that looked over the New York City skyline.
That's where Tony and Bruce were located currently, the doctor trying to make Tony finish up the paperwork Pepper had left for him while she was in Toronto on a business trip.
'Sir, Director Fury is on the line.' JARVIS' voice announced, and both men looked up though neither was startled. Bruce had grown used to the AI soon after he'd moved in to the tower, and no longer felt weird talking to empty air when he asked for something.
"Great, JARVIS, put him over the speakers." Tony said quickly, casting a triumphant glance to Bruce who sighed and shook his head. There was an audible click of the line transferring, before the billionaire continued. "Director, what can I do for you today?"
'Stark, I'm sending a Quinjet to pick up you and Banner. I've got a potential issue that I need to brief the entire team on.' Director Fury's gruff voice came over the speakers and Bruce felt himself frown, wondering what could be causing a problem that needed the attention of the Avengers so soon after the last crisis.
"The entire team? You might have an issue getting a hold of Goldilocks. I don't think you have coverage for inter-dimensional calls." Tony said lightly, grinning when Fury growled.
'Just get your damn ass on the jet when it lands, Stark. And then get to the bridge for the briefing.' he said shortly, before the line cut off.
"Do you have to be a smart ass to him?" Bruce questioned as he stood, one eyebrow raised. "I don't think he'd mind shooting you."
"He won't shoot me until he doesn't need me." Tony said wisely, joining the doctor and leading the way to the elevator. "And currently, he apparently needs me. Besides, this gives us a chance to tell our in-realm teammates about their new living choice."
"He still might shoot you." Bruce protested, but stepped into the elevator anyway. Tony had had a landing pad put in on the roof for cases such as this, when they needed to get somewhere quickly and Fury sent a Quinjet.
They only waited about five minutes before the jet came into view and landed, the back ramp opening up for them to enter and the pilot looking back at them from the cockpit.
"We've got maybe a fifteen minute flight back to the helicarrier. Sit tight." he informed them, eyes resting on Bruce a minute longer than they did Tony, the wariness and caution visible.
Bruce sighed at the sight but didn't comment, instead taking a seat on one of the benches beside Tony and clasping his hands in front of him. The billionaire saw the glance too and his eyes darkened, which was somewhat surprising, but the doctor understood when he then spent the entirety of the fifteen minute flight ribbing Bruce about his 'anger issues', and his apparent dislike for cramped spaces.
While that was true, the Other Guy was nowhere near making an appearance from a simple jet ride, which Tony would also know. Bruce couldn't help but inwardly be amused despite how disapproving he appeared to Tony after he caught on to what he was trying to do.
Needless to say, even after they landed, the pilot didn't look back to them again.
Bruce followed behind Tony, letting the other man lead the way to the bridge and ignoring the distrustful stares he was receiving from pretty much everyone they passed. It was an easy thing to ignore, seeing as it was something he'd grown accustomed to around people who knew what he could become a long time ago.
Fury, the Captain and Agents Barton and Romanoff were already waiting at the table positioned to the back of the bridge and Bruce was quick to settle into a seat between Tony and Steve, returning the smile of greeting the Captain sent in his direction. Looking to the other two members of his team as Fury turned to them, Bruce saw that Hawkeye just looked rather bored and indifferent, though Bruce noticed with concern that there were easily identifiable bags under his eyes. The Black Widow's face was simply expressionless, listening intently as Fury began speaking, a hologram appearing in the center of the table.
"We've received intelligence that a new terrorist group has popped up in the country." Fury began without preamble, and Bruce turned to him as well, taking in the information.
"So, you're telling me these idiots raided a zoo, and are trying to see if they can genetically mutate the animals they liberated into killing machines that they will then unleash onto an unsuspecting civilian population." Tony said after Fury had been speaking for maybe a half an hour.
All but Hawkeye had more or less relaxed around the table, and were now staring at the SHIELD director with varying degrees of disbelief.
"Yes, Stark, that's what I'm telling you." Fury said shortly, eyes narrowing at the billionaire. "I want you all ready and knowing what you're facing if the time comes that you all have to go in and take care of the situation."
"Not really a job for the National Guard, huh?" Tony mused as Steve spoke up, his expression the most disbelieving out of all of them, though Bruce couldn't say he blamed the super soldier.
"If they do try to mobilize these things, they're probably not going to be able to transfer them very far without causing a scene." the Captain pointed out, leaning forward slightly as eyes turned to him.
"You also have to consider their intent." Hawkeye surprised them all by commenting, his tone as blank as his expression. "If they're trying to cause mass panic, they're not going to just let them loose in a random area."
"What is the main goal of our new friends?" Bruce asked, looking to Fury who sighed.
"This is all still very much in the beginning stages of operation, so we're not quite sure. But we do have eyes on the situation, so we'll be the first to know if anything changes." he said matter of factly, before looking around the group. "We also don't know when or if we can count on Thor returning so for now you're operating as a five-person team. Be ready to suit up any time. Dismissed."
The director then walked away from the table, pausing to speak with Agent Hill before he left the bridge entirely.
"Well that was enlightening." Tony sighed, glancing up quickly as Barton and Romanoff stood to leave the table as well. "Hey, hold up. I have an announcement."
Both agents paused and turned back to look at the billionaire, but neither made a move to return to their seats.
"Since we're going to make this whole 'saving the world together' thing an actual thing, we should probably, you know, try to stay together. Do some team-bondy stuff. Just throwing it out there that everyone's got a room at the tower with their name on it." Tony said easily, and Steve's eyes widened as if he was impressed.
"You're going to let us live in your tower?" the super soldier asked and Tony tossed him an expression that suggested it was obvious.
"Unless you've got some huge place you forgot to mention." he said with a raised eyebrow, before he turned back to the group as a whole. "Bruce is already moved in and everything. You haven't died yet, have you Bruce?"
"No, Tony." the doctor said placatingly, though there was a grin on his face.
Steve still looked undecided, so Tony looked to the two assassins instead, expression questioning.
Bruce watched as the two shared a glance, though it seemed to convey almost an entire conversation, which surprised him. Before he could dwell on it though, it was over and Romanoff was looking back to Tony as she and her partner continued off the bridge.
"We'll think about it." she said simply, and Tony gave a huff of annoyance, before turning to the other two men.
"Why do I get the feeling Barton doesn't like us?" he asked, sounding insulted, Steve giving a shrug.
"I'm not entirely certain he likes anyone." the Captain said, sounding somewhat confused by his own words. "As far as I can tell, he's still pretty beaten up over what happened with Loki."
"I guess having your mind messed with can do that to a guy." Tony said, sounding unconcerned. "What about you, Rodgers? There's like a whole floor of a training gym that you can use to your heart's content. Besides, holing yourself up wherever SHIELD has you stashed isn't exactly going to get you used to the century."
Steve cast a quick, questioning glance to Bruce, who was happy to respond with an amused grin.
"I promise that I won't let him overwhelm you. Just come back with us and take a look around." the doctor offered, and Steve nodded his agreement and moved to stand from the table, Tony following suit and looking triumphant.
"I thought you didn't play well with others." the Captain tossed to Tony who just smirked and shrugged.
"What can I say? This whole 'Earth's Mightiest Heroes' team thing is growing on me." he said matter of factly, taking the lead as they walked towards the airstrip.
Tony continued to babble on about the tower, its contents and basically how awesome it was for the walk, and subsequent ride back to New York. Bruce tuned the billionaire out within minutes, while Steve just listened to him talk with a raised eyebrow and bemused expression.
It became apparent to Bruce almost immediately that throwing Steve, who had barely begun to get used to cell phones and computers, into arguably the most technologically advanced building in the world was going to be difficult. That said, the Captain took in everything fairly well, though Bruce tried to pick up on his lost expressions and explain as quickly as he could. He couldn't imagine effectively going to sleep in the 1940's and waking up seventy years in the future.
JARVIS had been the hardest thing to explain to the super soldier, but eventually he got the idea across that there wasn't an actual person speaking, but actually a very advanced computer.
"Steve, if you ever have any questions, you can always come to me." Bruce said with an amused sigh as they sat down on the couches in the common area outside their rooms. Tony had long since proven more hindrance than help so Bruce had shooed him down to the lab and taken over Steve's tour by himself.
"Thanks, Dr. Banner." the Captain looked around himself with a slight shake of his head. "I guess I've got a lot more to get used to than I thought."
"Trust me, if you can manage here, you can manage anywhere." Bruce told him matter of factly.
"Does dealing with Stark get any easier?" Steve asked after a few moments, and the doctor gave a slight sigh.
"I think a lot of Tony's issues with you stem back to his father. Give him some time. But other than that, no he doesn't usually shut up." Bruce offered a small grin and Steve gave a snort and a shake of his head.
"Well, I have to admit, I agree with him one thing. If we're going to be a team, we have to stick together and we have to get to know and trust each other." the Captain said firmly, before looking around himself again. "I guess I'll have to run by my apartment and grab my things."
"I'll go with you if you want. Just let me tell Tony, so he can get the gloating that he told me so out of the way now and I don't have to listen to it later." Bruce offered, standing, and Steve raised an eyebrow.
"You didn't think I'd move in?" he asked curiously, and Bruce gave a slight shrug.
"I think that getting all of us together for a substantial length of time is going to be interesting."
"I'll give you that." the super soldier grinned, before following Bruce over to the elevator.
Well, there you have it. Tell me what you think if you have the time to leave a review. I hope you enjoyed it. I'll hopefully have the new chapter up by Tuesday.