Author's Note: I'm back! This is the sequel to They Didn't Know so there shall definitely be one sided Clint/Steve but we'll just have to wait and see whether Clint's feelings will ever be reciprocated. For the record I do listen to my readers…
Disclaimer: Don't have anything to do with Marvel and their wonderful play-land of creations … sigh…
"I need a guinea pig."
Several pairs of dubious eyes turned to look at Tony.
"What for?" Bruce queried, his scientific curiosity getting the better of him first. Tony grinned and pulled a quiver and a small, black object from behind his back. Flicking his wrist the object unfolded into a rather elaborate looking bow.
"I need someone to try out Hawkeye's new toy," the billionaire's eyebrow arched. "Since he is still in hiding," a hand was held up in retreat as Natasha's eyes narrowed. "On holiday."
"Can't you just wait till he comes back?" Bruce asked. Tony pulled a face, shaking his head fiercely.
"No, no, no. I need to start work on the new arrows. I have so many ideas for new arrows," Tony's eyes sparkled with the excitement he got when he fixated on a new project. Looking around the group he thrust the bow towards Thor. "Come on big guy."
"Oh no," Thor shook his head, actually taking a step backward. "The bow and I are not friends."
Tony's eyebrow arched.
"But surely a mighty warrior such as yourself would..."
"I am sorry but I cannot," Thor interrupted solemnly. "I promised Fandral I would never again lift a bow after..."
Tony opened his mouth to demand more information as Thor's voice trailed off but he noticed the God of thunder actually looked quite distressed. With a small sigh he turned toward Bruce, holding out the bow.
"Oh, I don't think so," the doctor shook his head. Tony pouted. "Aside from the fact I refuse to handle such a weapon I don't know the first thing about bows and couldn't aim one to save my life so wouldn't be very useful feedback would it?"
Tony pulled a face and turned to Steve.
The billionaire let out a weary sigh.
"But I w..." he stopped abruptly as the bow was snatched from his hand. Efficiently Natasha pulled an arrow from the quiver Tony still held and lined up the shot, Steve only just being able to duck out of the way of the assassins quick shot. The female quirked her head slightly.
"Not bad," she shoved the bow back towards Tony. "But Clint's left handed."
The billionaire arched an eyebrow, watching the female depart the room.
"What you done to upset her?" he asked Steve as Bruce pulled the arrow from the wall. The soldier turned his gaze from the door where he too had watched Natasha depart to give Tony a confused look.
"I don't know."
Tony just gave a small shrug and raised the bow as if to shoot, holding it in his left hand as a right handed person would. With a satisfied nod he switched hands, cursing as he realised that the ridiculously comfortable hand grip was now the wrong way round.
The billionaire stopped muttering obscenities under his breath and looked towards the figure in the doorway.
"Pepper!" he offered a wide smile. The female however arched an eyebrow.
"What's the rule about weapons at the dinner table Tony?"
Tony opened his mouth to argue – after all technically he was not actually at the dinner table but standing by one of the counters – but the stern look from Pepper wore him down. He closed the bow and dropped it into the quiver which he lowered with a sheepish bow of the head.
The female arched an eyebrow at her boyfriend before turning a warm smile to those sitting at the table.
"How was your first night in the tower Thor?"
"Most comfortable, thank you Pepper," the thunder god grinned. "Accommodation and company fit for a king."
Pepper gave a small nod, widening her smile.
"I'm glad you like it," she turned her attention to the whole group. "Well I will leave you gentlemen to enjoy your breakfast. I shall see you at dinner."
Tony frowned as the other men offered his girlfriend polite farewells.
"Breakfast?" he looked around the large room trying to locate a clock. "It's morning?"
Steve and Bruce rolled their eyes as Thor gave the billionaire a bemused look.
"Yes it's morning," Steve replied obviously. Tony arched an eyebrow, looking the super soldier up and down, paying particular note to the coffee mug in his hand and the toast on the plate in front of him.
"Then what the hell are you doing here? You finally moved in?"
Steve frowned slightly.
"No I just stopped by on my morning jog," he answered, bracing himself for the argument that was to come.
"So when are you moving in?" Tony crossed his arms. "Pepper and I are quite offended you keep declining our kind offer."
It had started as a joke - a flippant comment from Tony when they were fixing up the tower about just letting the team move in. Within the week Natasha had moved into her floor. Not her room - her floor. Pepper had assigned each of the team a whole floor. It far exceeded her twelve percent quota but who was Tony to argue? He had simply responded by moving Bruce into the tower and building yet another lab. And a third gym. And what he affectionately called the Other Guy's play room. Thor had declared he would stay in the tower during his stays on earth as he split his time between Asgard and Midgard. Steve however - Steve was being stubborn.
"Pepper is not offended," Steve replied calmly. Tony shrugged.
"Well I am offended," he stated plainly. Steve sighed quietly.
"I just like having my own space," the soldier shrugged. Tony's eyebrow arched.
"You would have a whole floor of the tower! How much space do you need?" he tilted his head slightly. "There's no fancy tech if that's what you're worried about? I kept it all... basic for you. JARVIS won't interfere unless you ask him to."
"JARVIS does not bother me," Steve gritted his teeth. "He has a Damn sight more manners than you."
Tony pulled a face.
"Offended. Truly," the billionaire arched an eyebrow. "Nothing to do with Clint probably moving in when he returns?"
Steve's brows furrowed into a faint scowl.
"Of course not."
Tony raised the other brow dubiously but chose not to pursue the topic. Instead he made his way over to the coffee machine, instructing JARVIS of his caffeine choice, taking the cup over to the table and slumping down next to Bruce. Steve focussed his attention on the toast in front of him as Bruce and Thor exchanged a concerned look.
"Well I guess it's time I got going," Steve stood from the table. "Go and hit the gym for a while."
"If you stayed here you'd just have to go down a floor…" Tony pointed out quietly although he did not look up from the tablet he was reading. "Or up two. Or down six," he shrugged but still did not look up. "We have three gyms."
Steve rolled his eyes.
"I'll see you all later," he offered Bruce and Thor a smile before turning and making his way toward the door. Bruce sighed and looked over at Tony.
"You think Clint is the problem?"
"Without a shadow of a doubt," Tony replied, again still refusing to look up. Thor frowned concernedly.
"I get the feeling that things may be… tense when Clint returns," the thunder god commented. Bruce arched an eyebrow.
"Tense?" the doctor sighed. "You think he'll move in here?"
"Yup," Tony replied instantly. "His playmate is here. Steve not being here will help."
Thor sighed and reached for another pop-tart.
"Well we will just have to see when he finally returns. Pray that may be soon. I think only he understands the workings of Natasha's mind sometimes!"
Elegant fingers drummed steadily against the desk, the other hand twirling a cell phone round in a slow circle.
"Still no word from Clint then?" Pepper offered Natasha an understanding smile from the other side of the desk. The red-haired assassin scowled.
"No," she sighed heavily. "This is not like him. He's not the type to run away from his problems."
"He's never done this before?"
Natasha shook his head.
"He usually just buries his head and ignores things," she sighed wearily. "The Loki thing still bothers him – more than he would care to admit. He can't set foot outside his room back at SHIELD without someone saying something to him. Or just… the looks he gets you know? He's started going to the gym and training rooms in the middle of the night to get some peace. Not to mention his own guilty conscience," her lips quirked slightly. "Being part of a team that are as screwed up as him really actually helped," the faint smile faded as another sigh slipped from her lips. "The team dynamic will have changed now though," she arched an eyebrow, tilting her head guiltily. "I… kinda shot an arrow at Steve this morning."
Pepper too raised an eyebrow.
"You're mad at him for Clint being away?"
"No – I'm mad at Clint for Clint being away. But Steve is here."
Pepper nodded slowly.
"How's Steve taking things?"
"He's… ignoring it. He looked shocked when Loki told everyone but since Clint disappeared he's just… you bring up Clint and he either stays out the conversation or changes the subject," she sighed. "Like I say – the team dynamic is definitely going to change. I just don't know quite how much," she shook her head, forcing a smile onto her lips. "I'm sorry – I should let you get some work done."
"Don't worry about it," the other female glanced up at the clock. "Early lunch?"