Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Characters: Tony Stark-centric, includes all the Avengers and Pepper
Pairings: Tony/Pepper, Clint/Natasha, Steve/Bucky, Jane/Thor
Word Count: ~2500
A.N: Written as a fill for this comment on comment-fic
Summary: How the Avengers come to live in the tower; or: In which Bruce is easy, Thor is powered by lust, Natasha and Clint are inscrutable and mysterious, Steve Rogers is a little punk, and Tony Stark gets all he wants and then some.
Bruce is the first and the easiest; Tony doesn't even have to ask.
“I have a theory I'd like to test out,” he tells Tony on a call from Greenland. “I'll drop in for a couple of weeks, if that's fine.”
Four months later, Tony gets Hill to get a lackey to get Bruce an ID with the tower listed as his home address. Bruce blinks owlishly at the envelope, but he doesn't demur.
Thor's down on Earth for an interstellar booty call with Dr. Foster (or, as Thor likes to put it, “Important business for the Allfather”) when Dr. Foster's intern's intern (who is, in fact, not actually Dr. Foster's intern's intern, but something called a Skrull which kidnapped the original sub-intern months earlier and took his place) builds some sort of ray gun from Dr. Foster's equipment and goes on a rampage in Colorado.
Once the Skrull is dead and the intern's intern is safely returned to his family in Connecticut with a semi-plausible cover story, Tony tells Jarvis to ready the tower to store a weapon that emits death rays. He's just readying the ray gun for transport on his jet when Dr. Foster approaches him, all 5'2” of her as tense and determined as Pepper during employee evaluation week.
“Excuse me,” Dr. Foster says. She pushes her goggles up her nose, but they slide right down again when she frowns. “That's my ray gun.”
Tony blinks. “No's not.”
Foster takes a breath and lets it out again, slowly. “Ian-Fake Ian-made that in my lab, with my parts, using my equipment. And I want it back.”
Tony looks at Dr. Foster. Tony looks at the ray gun, which only requires opposable digits to operate. Tony looks at Dr. Foster's laboratory (if it can be called that), which doesn't even have a padlock on its doors. Visions of death and mayhem dance before his eyes, and he unconsciously tightens his grip on the gun.
“You don't even have a padlock on your doors,” Tony points out quite reasonably.
Dr. Foster opens her mouth to retort but is at that moment interrupted by a high-pitched voice yelling “Meow Meow!” from her trailer.
The moment jolts Tony's brain back into action, and by the time Dr. Foster jerks back and starts with the frowning again, he's got a plan.
“I've got a plan,” he says. “I take the ray gun back to Stark Tower with me-”
“And I bring you back to Stark Tower with me too, give you a floor, and fund your research for the next five years in return for-uh, Pepper'll get back to you on that, but we could use you on the Avengers, kid, and you won't have to deal with undergraduates.”
The smile Dr. Foster turns on him could literally blind something.
So Dr. Foster moves in, and Thor follows within the week (and the intern follows in three, later letting Tony know she wanted to let them get the 'Christen all the rooms!' impulse out of the way first, because gross). The intern's intern does not follow at all, but Tony's pretty okay with that, and, barring one or two incidents with mead in the labs, everyone adjusts and life goes on.
Tony has a standing offer for Natasha and Clint to come live in the tower-has, since he finished the Avengers' floors-but he's always gotten the impression that Natasha would rather skin herself alive than settle down in one place for more than a week at a time. And then Washington happens, and Tony doesn't see hide nor hair of the redhead for eleven months.
So it comes as something of a surprise when Pepper tells him, in the middle of a pool game, that Natasha moved into her designated floor yesterday and might be staying a while.
Two days after Tony first sees Natasha in Stark Tower, he's working on a little experiment with Bruce and grabbing some yogurt from Bruce's kitchen when Clint Barton drops out of a vent onto the breakfast table.
“The fuck,” Tony says.
“Huh,” Barton mutters, and ignores him. “Wrong kitchen.”
Barton shrugs, shoves Tony out of the way, and crouches in front of the fridge. “Tasha wanted some O.J.”
He's back in the vent, four bottles of minute maid secured somehow on his person, before Tony can think of anything to say.
Tony asks Steve, way back after the Battle of New York, before he even plans the Avengers floors, if Steve wants someplace to stay that doesn't have SHIELD's paws all over it.
Rogers says 'Thanks, but I want my own space,' and Tony maybe mocks him about sleazy old guys and bachelor pads but otherwise lets it go, because—well, yeah, he can understand the need to get your head on straight all by yourself. He's a little disappointed when Rogers becomes SHIELD's gofer boy, but Roger's life choices are his own, no matter how shitty they might be, and Tony has more than enough on his plate to keep him from speculating on Rogers' personal life.
Tony misses Washington by a hair because he's on a Peppercation (which is to say a vacation with Pepper on a deserted island that has no contact with the outside world except a remote link to JARVIS that Tony never uses), but he's in time for the cleanup around the Potomac, and he susses out enough information about what happened to add some space on Steve's floor for Sam Wilson (and to make a note to work on a pair of wings for the guy in between projects).
A year and a half after Washington, he's watching a game with Rhodey when JARVIS alerts him to a disturbance in the lobby and says he might want to go downstairs immediately.
Rogers is, to Tony's shock, not actually the one arguing with the receptionist: that would be Wilson, who's explaining something that involves the words 'Presidential pardon' and 'national security', two phrases which Tony prefers not to hear in the same sentence.
Rogers, however—Rogers, in cargoes, a Kevlar vest, and with a big shiner on his left eye, is standing with his back against the wall, smiling charmingly at the security guards, and generally doing a very good job of pretending he doesn't have the Winter Soldier slung, unconscious, over his shoulders.
“Stark!” How Rogers manages to wave while keeping hold of the limp body, Tony will never know. “I was hoping we could, uh, kick back here. For a while.”
“Yeah? Well, I don't know what 'kicking back' meant back in your day, gramps, but-”
“Great!” And Rogers, the little shit, jogs past him to the elevator (and is he limping? That is most definitely a limp) and taps in the security code like he takes it every day. “Nat said you've got a swell apartment set up for me and Sam. I always wanted to live in a skyscraper, y'know.”
And with that, Captain America and his shit-eating grin (and also the sleeping/possibly comatose assassin) are gone, and Tony makes a mental note to have a very thorough conversation with Romanoff about old spying habits and how they're not nice things to use on your friends.
For now, though, he turns to Sam and sticks out his hand.
“Tony Stark,” he says. “Want to see your rooms-or your wings?”
And the last member of Tony's family (except for Rhodey, who has guest quarters and wanders in and out all the time to steal Tony's beer)
“Nice touch on the walls,” he tells Pepper the second time she redecorates their floor.
“It's taupe,” she says. She leans back into him as he wraps his arms around her. “It's soothing.”
“Yeah?” He kisses the shell of her ear, and damn it, he's got a speech prepared and everything, a heartwarming thing full of emotion, but it's blown away like dust in the freaking wind and, yeah, he's got nothing.
“I like it,” he says instead.
“I do.” Then, because he's an idiot. “I want-I want you to be happy here, Pep.”
And he fishes the ring out of his pocket and sets in the palm of her hand. He made it himself, of course: crafted it during a week of sleepless nights the last time Pepper visited Japan, polished, spotless precious metal with a glowing blue stone mounted securely on top. “I want you to be happy here for as long as you'll have me.”
Pepper gasps, and her eyes tear up, and she turns around and faces Tony, and Tony drops to one knee and-yep, there it is, there's the speech (though it's not so much a speech as it is the honest truth about Pepper and how she makes him a better person and how absolutely shitty his life would be if he'd managed to drive her out of it way back when-so thank god he didn't-but mostly about what she means to him, precisely).
He's pretty sure she'd have said yes even without the speech, but some things need to be said out loud sometimes.
The end result, anyway, is that Pepper slips the ring and says “Oh, Tony, yes,” and the next evening they have everyone to dinner and break the news.
And Tony doesn't have it in him for a speech again so soon (and anyway, those are just for Pepper), but he thinks his life would be pretty shitty without all of them, too.
And Then There Were More...
Except, of course, like, five months after Cap and Bucky move in, the thing with Ultron happens, and when Tony finally gets back to the Tower after spending the entire day talking to nervous-looking men in black suits who may or may not want to arrest him, Scarlet and Quicksilver are lying huddled together, asleep, on a bed in the medical wing, and Steve and Bucky are holding hands and sitting beside them.
Tony takes one look and says “No,” because the kids might have helped the Avengers eventually, but they're half the reason this whole mess happened in the first place, and they're fucking dangerous and more than a bit crazy (and possibly brainwashed). But then Steve says “They're orphans, Tony,” and then Bucky, who still rarely speaks or sleeps or socializes, and who has let go of Steve's hand and is honest-to-god polishing a throwing knife, looks at Tony, looks at the knife, and says he will be personally responsible for both of them.
And, you know what, if Barnes wants to get himself strangled and teleported to another dimension in his sleep, and Rogers with him, far be it from Tony to stop him. So Tony mutters “Fine, whatever, I'm too tired for this shit,” and stomps off to find Bruce.
And that would be it for Casa de los Superheroes, but then Bucky's out free running and finds a three-legged, flea-ridden dog about to get run over in the street and, instead of taking him to a vet, wraps the thing in a towel and brings it to the Tower instead (and doesn't even ask if he can keep it, which is just plain rude). That, of course, inspires Clint, who makes an impromptu visit to an animal shelter and bonds with a deaf mutt; naturally, this is the beginning of an epic, pet-owning bromance between him and Bucky, and they go jogging and walk their dogs together at ungodly hours in the morning, and one day when they come back Bucky's holding both leashes and Clint's supporting a vaguely familiar-looking teenager with a black eye and finger-shaped bruises around her throat.
“We found her in Central Park,” Clint says two weeks later when the girl shows no signs of leaving Clint and Natasha's quarters. “I thought she'd be better off here.”
And Tony's not actually going to say anything, because, hey, it's a big Tower, there's plenty of room, and he doesn't know the kid's story but he knows it can't be good, but then Clint adds “And she's as good as Bucky on the target range,” and Tony's sold (and, later, crafts Kate Bishop something that's not quite a crossbow and isn't quite a rifle either but answers uniquely to her palm print).
For several months after that, things settle down into a disturbingly domestic rut. Lucky and Three-Legs learn how to sit, stay, and beg for treats; Thor asks Bruce to teach him yoga and subsequently uploads an instructional video that actually breaks youtube; Bucky decides to teach Wanda and Pietro how to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and everyone ends up getting invited and gorging on Dr. Foster's intern's leek fritters, which are delicious.
Of course, one day Sam comes back from a Fantastic Four assist with a parakeet in an enormous cage (“Space pirates. Don't ask.”), and then Dr. Foster's intern's new intern turns out to actually be Spiderman in disguise, which Tony thinks is awesome, but the kid also turns out to be an ESU undergraduate who mutters to himself about “Aunt May”, “medical bills”, and “oh, god, mortgages” when he thinks he's alone in the labs, which Tony thinks is not awesome, so Peter Parker gets a suite. And then Natasha appears one morning at breakfast after a weekend away with three red-haired little girls whom Tony is fairly certain are actually clones of hers (because Russia), and then the number of birds in Sam Wilson's suite exponentiates (because Falcon), and Steve starts holding trauma support group meetings on floor 47 (because three out of four of the Rogers-Barnes-Maximoff cohort (family?) were held captive and brainwashed by evil organizations, and, yeah, Tony actually is capable of keeping his mouth shut when the situation calls for it).
And, sometime in between the Baxter Building exploding (“Thank you so much, Tony; we'll be out of your hair in three months, tops”) and Dr. Foster's intern (yes, he knows her name is Darcy, she's a very nice girl but she carries a taser, thank you very much) developing sudden and mysterious bouts of nausea every morning at breakfast after ducking rumors of a secret boyfriend for weeks—somewhere in between there, Tony just sits back and resigns himself to living in the most ridiculous social experiment ever (and also eating in the most ridiculous dining room since the Duggars', and, honestly, not even Pepper can even with that on a regular basis, but somehow Weekly Dinner Night becomes a thing anyway). Sometimes he still has panic attacks and needs the whole world to go away; sometimes he forgets to stop working and doesn't sleep for days; sometimes, when everyone in the tower is too much or too loud or too everywhere, Tony shuts himself up in his labs for a day or two and builds things that guarantee that no one in his Tower will ever want for anything (and that he and Pepper will continue to be obscenely rich for the rest of their lives).
But mostly he lives happily ever after (and then some).