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How the Team Finds Out

Chapter Text

They don’t hide their relationship. They’re not ashamed of it. All three of them have been through too much to care about that. It’s just that these are their friends, and their friends can be…a bit much. Especially Tony.

So they don’t hide their relationship. They just let the rest of the team figure it out at their own pace.

It helps that two of them are lethal assassins. Gives them good poker faces.


JARVIS is the first, of course. Nothing goes on in the Tower that he doesn’t know about. He gets sensor data from the entire building, and there’s camera coverage of all hallways, doors, windows, and shared spaces (Tony went through a paranoid phase during construction).

Of the three of them, it took Bucky the longest to get comfortable with the omnipresent, seemingly omniscient voice. He still sometimes had to practice his knife skills to feel comfortable talking to JARVIS. Steve was never bothered by it; just another “strange new future” thing. There was very little that could phase Natasha.

JARVIS knows, then. The first time. When the entire team gets back from a mission, exhausted and grimy at 12am. They pile into the common room. Share pizzas, make tea, start to decompress. Everyone mingling, chatting, comparing bruises and scrapes. Nat ribs Clint about missing a shot; Clint swears to anyone listening that he meant to scrape the hubcap instead of shooting out the tire to “make the car easier to track”. Everyone rolls their eyes when he isn’t looking. Bucky and Thor arm-wrestle, godly strength against mechanical arm, chatting quietly in between rounds. Steve moves around a lot, checking on Sam’s ankle, Pepper’s arm (she hasn’t quite mastered her Extremis powers yet), Wanda’s headache.

Couples and singles start to drift off. Nat leaves first, casually moving by Bucky, then Steve. JARVIS is the only one that catches the feather-light touches she gives them: Bucky’s right arm, Steve’s left hand. JARVIS is also the only one to catch the quick glance between the two men, the minute eyebrow raise signaling confirmation. Bucky leaves after fifteen more minutes. Steve stays with Rhodey and Bruce to finish cleanup before yawning, stretching. A chorus of “Good night”.

JARVIS observes Captain Rogers’ entry into the elevator, his choice of floor. Just as he observes the opening of Ms. Romanoff’s door, her stealthy pad through the hall and descent down the stairs. JARVIS registers that the door to Sergeant Barnes’ room opens twice and that three hearts beat slowly, steadily, in close proximity for the rest of the night.


Sam was next.

He knows the signs of Steve or Bucky or Natasha having a bad day. After all, he’s been there for most of Steve’s and some of Bucky’s. Natasha has only let him in once, but that instance was enough to teach him some of her tells.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the serums, they have some traits in common. A slight clenching of the jaw when entering a room. Hyper-vigilance. A need to be near some kind of weapon, be it knife, chair, or teddy bear. Sam is still nervous about that last one.

They each have their own specific responses, too.

Steve sketches, anything and everything. He needs to keep his hands busy. On bad days, he can fill up an entire notepad with sketches of the city skyline outside the window, the bowl of fruit, Bucky’s arm, uniforms, his men from the war, Natasha’s eyes, his own hands. Whatever he’s closest to.

Bucky stills, withdraws back into himself. He’s slower to respond to Sam’s careful questions, Bruce’s quiet acknowledgements, Tony’s sarcasm. Always keeps his back to the wall, focused, watching. Only Steve or Nat can draw him out of it even momentarily, get through to him enough. Sam doesn’t read anything into that, just chalks it up to shared life experiences helping those two to bridge the gap when the others can’t.

Natasha…Natasha sharpens. No other way Sam can think to put it. She’s all edges, razor-sharp wit ready to eviscerate, stalking with refined power and strength, eyes daring anyone to challenge her. No one does, especially after she bruises Thor’s windpipe badly enough to make him wheeze audibly for three days, and shoulder-checks Tony hard enough to bruise. Sam tries be especially gentle those days. The first time he follows her to the ballet studio, soon after his joining the team, he does so because he’s worried that she’s going to hurt herself. He only catches a brief glimpse—floor-to-ceiling mirrors, the bar, polished wood, her feet moving to starting position, her gaze reflected—before the door closes.

The second time he sees her in the studio, it’s late at night, several weeks later. The Tower is mostly empty. Tony, Pepper, and Rhodey are off at some conference, Clint is with his family upstate, Thor and Jane are visiting Asgard, Bruce is in the middle of a science-bender that’s left him unaware of the world outside of his lab, and Darcy and Wanda are already asleep. Sam is walking down the hall to check on Steve before heading upstairs to check on Bucky (all three of them were having a bad day), but Steve’s room is empty. Bucky’s is too.

JARVIS directs Sam down four floors. The hallway is dark except for the light spilling through one open door. He dimly remembers that it’s the ballet studio, approaches carefully. Sam freezes in place once he can see inside.

He knew Natasha danced, so it wasn’t a surprise to see her, graceful and poised as she flows, floats through the room. Sam was dumbfounded to see both Steve and Bucky in the room with her—-she wants to be left alone when she’s like this what the hell are they thinking—and then it registers that the two men are not just in the room with her; they’re dancing with her.

Three bodies, each one enhanced, crafted, honed, trained, for war, for muscle and deadly power. Three bodies, moving in concert with each other, flowing around and through each other seamlessly. Three bodies, in motion, together. And then.

They stop. Bucky holding Natasha up, flesh and metal hands gentle but strong around her waist, Steve steadying Bucky with one hand, the other clasped in Natasha’s. They breathe in unison.

Sam slips away undetected (or so he thinks).

At breakfast the next morning all three of them troop in together and regard him coolly. Then Steve beams, Natasha cracks a smile, and Bucky gives him a quiet grin. Sam chuckles and shakes his head.


Several months later: Natasha, Bucky, and Steve had taken one of the Quinjets to Europe to hunt down a HYDRA base.

Pepper is perceptive. It’s part of why she’s so successful as a CEO and dealmaker. Within the company, her ability to salvage negotiations is legendary. She’s contracted with the UN on occasion. It also helps that she’s fluent in 5 languages. So: Pepper knows people. Prides herself on her ability to read them.

It took her even longer than she thought it would to start to understand Nat and Bucky. Steve surprised her the most. Pepper had thought he was an open book, but it appears that he’s been learning. That should have been the first clue.

She’s there on the roof to meet them as the Quinjet lands. The ramp lowers and Pepper starts forward, stops suddenly in understanding. They’re not even doing anything specific; normal post-mission things: gear stowing, packing bags, going through the post-flight checklist. They’ve done it hundreds of times; she herself has seen them do it dozens of times, but this time…she sees.

Sees the affectionate glances, the not-quite-necessary grazes and touching as they move around each other, how relaxed they are around each other.

She smiles and nods acknowledgment as all four walk to the door.

A chocolate cake with frosting saying simply, “Congratulations” appears outside Natasha’s door three days later.


Thor likes to take laps around and through the city. See the people, feel the wind in his hair. Remembering that the captain mentioned something about moving furniture around his apartment, Thor decides to head over to help. On his approach he notices that all the windows are shaded save for one. Through it he can see Rogers. The red hair means Romanoff, and the metal arm Barnes. But why do all three seem to be focused on one particular piece of furniture…

Thor only flies through one building. Luckily it was already scheduled for demolition.


This time around Jane’s hit a snag on the latest round of calculations for generating a stable Einstein-Rosenthal bridge. Thor stumbled in a couple days ago shedding brick dust, but seemed embarrassed when she’d (distractedly) asked him about it while grabbing a snack. He has been of no help for the past few days, so she heads out to see the Berlin Philharmonic.

Jane not-so-secretly loves going to the symphony. It helps her relax when she’s stressed and stuck on a problem; something about going to see dozens of people who’ve practiced individually and together for hundreds of hours working together to showcase their talents.

She thinks she saw Natasha making her way into the hall ahead of her, and Jane is pretty sure that that’s the back of Steve’s head as he’s waiting in line to order tea, but is utterly bemused by their possible presence. She’d expect Bucky, who had unexpectedly proven to be an avowed fan of classical music (and a remarkably good pianist), to show up, but other two? What were they doing here?

At intermission she quite literally runs into Bucky from behind. Jane is so taken aback that she stumbles back, trips over her own feet, only to be caught by strong, sure hands (Steve’s?). Stepping out of his grasp, she sees that Steve and Natasha have both appeared, Nat’s eyes glinting with mirth. They all seem…relaxed. Bucky starts chattering away about the performance, and Jane joins him while keeping half an eye on the other. To her surprise, both Nat and Steve follow along with the conversation closely, even making a few comments of their own, but mostly just watching Bucky with a clear mixture of affection and fond amusement as he gets so excited that words seem to escape him. Jane has never seen him this…at ease.

She gets so caught up discussing the music that she must have let slip that she can still kinda play the cello. That’s the only explanation Jane can come up with for the day two weeks later when she’s up early collecting data and hits another bottleneck. She must be visibly frustrated, because the next thing she knows, JARVIS is politely recommending that she make her way to the performance space where she keeps her cello. Jane is astounded to hear instruments and a soft murmur through the open door. She steps in–who else is even awake right now–to see Bucky seated at the piano, Nat perched on the windowsill cradling a violin, and Steve seated across from them strumming on a guitar. He doesn’t stop when Jane enters quietly, just moves his chair to open up a space for her. She takes her cello and sits down.


Captain, Kitten, Soldier, Spy

Clint had pretty much always wanted Natasha to get a cat. He’d suggested it several times over the course of their friendship, but she’d demurred. Especially when he put on his “concerned big brother” face and worried about her getting lonely. She just scoffed at him.

The first time he saw the kitten in the Tower, he assumed it was Jane’s or Darcy’s. But it was there even when they weren’t staying at the Tower, so he figured it might’ve been Pepper’s until he remembered that she was allergic. Wanda wasn’t really an animal person, and Thor, being an actual godly golden retriever, was a dog person through and through.

On a whim, Clint spent two full days monitoring the cat’s movements (sometimes he got bored). JARVIS did’t say anything to him about it, but Clint got the feeling that the AI was exasperated with his constant requests for updates on the kitten’s location.

Clint was bewildered when he concluded that the cat was, in fact, Nat’s.

“What changed?!”

She just smirked and kept scratching its head.

It didn’t escape his notice that the kitten was clearly fondest of Nat, but it also seemed to like Bucky and Steve. It mostly ignored everyone else.

And then one day the kitten disappeared.

JARVIS informed them that she had managed to make it into an air vent, and was now climbing through the duct system.

Clint took one look at Natasha’s face and volunteered. Which was why he now found himself wedged into a cornering of the ducts between floors 46 and 47, trying to coax a reticent kitten to move just…a…little…bit…closer…

A sudden thud spooked the kitten and retreated again. He could hear Thor’s sheepish grin over the comms.

“Sorry! I was merely trying to open another entrance into the small metal tunnels.”

Clint cursed silently; asked, “JARVIS, where is she now?”

“She is climbing up the to the 49th floor, Agent Barton. Sergeant Barnes is moving to intercept.”

Clint sighed heavily and gathered himself to wedge his way further upward.

Upon hauling himself out of the vent (without the kitten), Clint is met with the sight of Bucky gently cradling the kitten in his metal hand as she purred loudly enough to fill the hallway. A second later, Natasha and Steve (Clint is in enough pain from the contortions that he doesn’t really question Steve’s presence), all but sprint around the corner. Clint can only watch as the kitten jumps, still purring, onto Steve’s shoulders, twining her tail affectionately around his neck, before jumping happily into Natasha’s arms. Bucky and Steve move to either side of Nat, all three smiling down at the now-sleeping kitten.

He finally catches his breath, looks up, does a double take.

“Huh.”


Wanda and Bucky have a standing arrangement for a Russian movie night every two weeks. They commandeer the common room, turn down the lights, make popcorn.

Wanda is sitting in an armchair, Bucky on the couch. Nat wanders in, yawns, curls up catlike on the couch, feet just touching Bucky’s leg. Several minutes later Steve walks in. Bucky sits up, moves toward center of the couch, Steve sits, Nat extends her legs out over both of them, and Steve massages her feet while Bucky gets her calves/quads. Over the course of the movie they just calmly rotate through massaging each other and talking about the film but Wanda is so distracted by the casual touching that it takes her most of the movie to register that they’re talking about the film in Russian, even Steve–since when does he know Russian…

Wanda smiles.


Darcy is getting pissed.

She’s seen them operate solo, or in pairs, or as part of the larger team, but never before with just the three of them. And gods is it beautiful.

You know, in a “stunning yet terrifying display of strength, coordination, and skill” kind of way. Eerily perfect synchronization, no wasted movement, relying on their strengths, covering for their weaknesses, in almost total silence (save for the occasional bit of Russian).

Darcy has a problem with that.

She’s the mission coordinator. The one who handles transport, monitors communications, sends in backup if necessary. Those last two are significantly easier when the members of the team one is coordinating are actually communicating.

Also she doesn’t know a word of Russian. She huffs loudly in frustration.

Over the comms, Bucky chuckles.

Shit, she thinks. That was out loud

“Yes Darcy?”

shit “Uh, nothing, Ms. Roma–Natasha. Natasha. Just getting a bit quiet in here with just myself” that was smooth. I think that was smooth

Darcy can hear Natasha’s smirk as she says, “Of course. Dears, we’re doing that thing again.”

Steve’s laugh is cut short by a very loud boom.

Darcy refocuses quickly, pulling up external drone footage and heat signatures. “Steve, I need you to clear these last two rooms. Natasha, Bucky, there’s an exit three doors down the hallway to your southwest. That should get you to the final building. Your ride out is standing by.”

They wrap up the mission in about twenty minutes, with noticeably better communication.

Darcy definitely does not let squeal audibly when she’s requested to coordinate their next mission. And she absolutely does not start keeping a list of their pet names for each other.


Rhodey panics.

He’s been planning this surprise party for his sister for months, invited most of the extended family, sworn everyone involved to secrecy, and now there’s only a couple hours left and the caterer is late, half of the tables and chairs aren’t set up, and none of the balloons are inflated. So yeah, he panics.

He’s not even trying to call Steve, it’s just that his phone registers a scroll as a tap and oh gods it’s a video call why is this happening…

…but it’s not Steve. It’s James. A shirtless James.

“Hey Rhodes, what’s up?”

Rhodey manages to ask about Steve, to which James responds by launching the phone overhand (are he and Steve at a beach?) not to Steve, but to Natasha (who, alarmingly, is wearing a sun dress and a ridiculously large floppy hat), who finally passes it to Steve. He takes one look at Rhodey’s face on the screen and says, “Give us twenty five minutes, we’ll be right there. Just text me the address.”

This means that Rhodey has about twenty minutes to just sit, panic, call the caterer for the fourteenth time, and ponder that phone call with Steve. Or rather with Steve and friends.

Steve who is definitely off taking some much needed vacation. Steve who definitely seems more of a solitary vacationing type than a ‘hang out with friends from work’ vacationing type. Come to think of it they all three are. What the hell are they doing together at the beach?

Twenty minutes goes by rather quickly while he ponders this question, and before he knows it, they’ve arrived.

Steve, Bucky, and Nat instantly scan the room, assess the situation. Bucky’s taken Rhodey’s phone before he knows what’s going on. Nat and Steve head for the remaining tables and chairs. Rhodey eventually figures he might as well keep working on place settings. A couple minutes later his phone is tossed back along with “The food should be here in 10.”

“How the hell did you manage that?! I’ve been calling them for the past two hours!”

Bucky shrugs, smiles a little. “I know a guy.”

Steve calls over as he sets up the last table, “Is it the same guy who helped us out a couple months ago? Yeah, Rhodey, you’ll be just fine.”

Nat shoos Rhodey away from the tables. “Take a seat. We can finish this.”

In remarkably short order, they’ve completely set up tables, straightened chairs, and organized place settings.

It gets weird when all four of them are inflating the balloons: Bucky sucks in some helium and starts talking, and both Nat and Steve fall to the floor laughing so hard they can barely breathe. Rhodey just watches in confusion as his teammates have more fun than…well, than he’s ever seen them have in all the years he’s known them.

He puts it out of his mind as the guests start arriving.

One of Rhodey’s nieces is the one to say something to him during the party about how cute his friends are together and why hadn’t he mentioned to her that they’re all dating. Rhodey stares at her for a second.

“Who’s dating who?”

“Your friends. Over there.” Pointing at Steve, Bucky, and Nat.

“What? No, they’re not…dating…” As he says the words, he sees Steve wrap an arm around Nat’s shoulders, press a quick kiss to the top of her head; she pecks Bucky on the cheek, and he and Steve share a small kiss. Just a moment, and one that Rhodey would have missed if not for his niece.

He elects not to say anything to them until after the party, when they’re helping with clean-up, seizes his chance when Bucky and Nat are wandering around collecting cups (Steve is the least intimidating).

“So. You three?”

Steve smiles a blindingly happy smile. “Yeah.”


Hope takes one look at them, smirks, and high-fives each of them.

Chapter Text

Bruce is exhausted.

It’s been…a while? How long since he’d gone into the lab on Tuesday–he thinks it was Tuesday–and today is…maybe Thursday…Friday?

This happens sometimes, where he’ll get so deeply involved in a project or theory that he’ll completely lose track of time and only resurface when he can barely keep himself upright long enough to slump out of the lab. This particular “science binge” (as Sam and Wanda have helpfully taken to calling them) was prompted by the most recent round of results from the LHC.

Bruce giggles a bit as he shuffles out onto the balcony, squints into the sun, thinking, everything is always radiant about me

Immediately prior to collapsing onto the nearest chaise lounge, Bruce gets fragmentary glimpses of Natasha, Steve, and James hanging out in the pool, James jubilantly mid-cannonball, Natasha laughing–has she ever laughed that buoyantly, Steve serenely floating in an inner tube. The last thing he registers before he finally crashes is that each of them seems to have a small matching triangle tattoo on their right shoulder.

The following afternoon:

Bruce wakes up in his own bed. In his room. Definitely not where he fell asleep yesterday…

Still half-asleep, he glances at the photos left on the bedside table showing Natasha, James, and Steve making ridiculous faces at the camera with Bruce sprawled in the background.

Rubbing his face, he stumbles out, heading for the common room.

Pepper, Natasha, Tony, James, Clint, and Steve look up at him when he enters. Clint smirks at him, slides a plate down the table. Bruce digs in, feeling his brain spool up to something approaching regular speed as he eats. And when it does, he utters an involuntary gasp, dropping the fork and his jaw at the same time.

Stares blankly for a bit before refocusing on his teammates. And then he just starts laughing.

Once again, Clint smirks, and Pepper gives a quiet smile. Natasha gives him a tiny grin, eyes alight; Bucky a slight nod; Steve beams blindingly.

Tony is just confused and demands what Capsicle, Red October, or Natasha did (Tony tried to give Nat a nickname once. Once. Never again).


Nick Fury doesn’t know, doesn’t care, and did not shed one single happy tear at 3am.


Peter is absolutely not following Mr. Rogers while Mr. Rogers is going grocery shopping.

(He has his phone out, camera ready, waiting for the perfect moment. This school project on a local celebrity is going to be a piece of cake. Delicious delicious chocolate cake…oh and maybe some pickles…wait. Project. Photos. Mister Rogers.)

Peter strolls casually through the store, keeping an eye out for Mr. Rogers’ cap, making sure that he only loads up on essential snacks like M&Ms and almonds, until he finds his quarry in the dried bulk foods section…but he’s not alone. Is that…Mr. Barnes? It is. And he and Mr. Rogers are looking all sorts of couple-y as they squabble over lentils. Perfect.

Phone up, three quick pictures, circle around to the next aisle. Hopefully they go into produce next, Peter wants an apple.

In the end, he’s gotten probably 5 good shots total, which is a good start for the project if he can come up with reasonably sappy captions. Then Mr. Rogers gets a phone call and his face lights up. He claps Mr. Barnes on the shoulder, heads out the door while the latter stays behind to pay.

Peter follows Mr. Rogers to a coffee shop, where he meets Ms. Romanoff (she is definitely nice but very scary)…and suddenly they’re kissing in a super not-just-friends way and Peter is kind of freaking out because if Captain America is cheating on the former Winter Soldier with the Black Widow, something is wrong. He manages to get a picture, but he’s not sure what to do with it. Post it online? No, too much. Show Mr. Barnes? But they’d seemed so happy in the grocery store…

Just prior to feeling a tap on his shoulder, Peter barely registers the telltale faint whirring of Mr. Barnes’ arm. Peter whirls, recovers his balance, and looks up, aghast. He is regarded with a quizzical expression that clears following a quick glance at the still-unlocked phone screen. Mr. Barnes looks up, behind Peter–brief rustle of fabric, smell of coffee, Mr. Barnes’ expressions softens–Peter does a quarter spin, registers Mr. Rogers and Ms. Romanov, he’s carrying coffee, she’s carrying three jackets.

“Um.” (Peter is at his most eloquent in unexpectedly stressful situations).

“I was right. Again.” Mr. Barnes smirks at Mr. Rogers. “Cough up, Rogers, I won.”

Mr. Rogers pulls out his wallet, protesting all the while. Ms. Romanov just smirks silently, winks at Mr. Rogers, and arches one eyebrow at Mr. Barnes as she intercepts the bill.

Still smiling, she focuses back onto Peter: “What do you know about polyamory?”


T’Challa is actually one of the first.

He’s the ruling monarch of a technologically advanced country, and his sister is simultaneously the most brilliant and most confusing person he knows. Shuri is convinced that she’s found a pattern on Bucky Barnes’ Instagram, and she. will. not. stop. talking about it.

“Brother! You know how I’ve shipped Steve and Bucky for years but recently I’ve gotten conflicted because of everything coming out about Bucky’s past and especially his past with Natasha…I think I figured it out! I only had to promise JARVIS two series of system upgrades to get him to help with the data mining and analysis. Oh and here are the new designs you requested for your suit, the latest reports on the research, which, by the way, my team and I are rocking, and my essay, with fully formatted citations and appendices, on why my new ship is, clearly, actually real.”

T’Challa knows. He’s only heard about her “ships” and “OTPs” for the past decade and a half. He is also fairly certain that if something of this magnitude were true, either Nakia or Okoye would have told him about it. It is their job to know, after all. Still…

As luck would have it, Steve, James, and Natasha actually make a brief stop in Wakanda on their way back from a mission only a few weeks later. They greet T’Challa warmly, but head to their respective rooms soon after their arrival – rooms which he has ensured all three adjoin each other. He lets Shuri know once the soldiers are asleep. Her scream of delight may have woken them up again…

T’Challa knows that he, Shuri, Okoye, Nakia, and M’Baku will all want to meet and eat and talk with their three visitors. Sleep, however, is vitally important, especially after a mission.

And so he is unsurprised when they do not appear at breakfast. Lets them sleep. When only Natasha shows up at lunch, he gets worried. Shuri is also noticeably subdued at the lone presence instead of the expected three. Before she can say anything, Natasha asks gently, “Would it be all right if I just bring some food back to my room? Steve’s having a bad day, but Bucky and I should be able to get him to eat something. I’m sorry, I know you were wanting to talk to all of us.”

She puts together three full plates, and somehow manages to balance fruit on top. Okoye moves to help, but Natasha smiles slightly, shakes her head. “He’s getting better about it, but he still doesn’t want the rest of you to see him like this.”

T’Challa subtly alerts the palace’s medical team to keep a closer watch on the three rooms, and asks them to keep two therapists specializing in PTSD on call, just in case.

He smiles warmly at Natasha as she turns back to the door. “Let me know if there’s anything we can do to help.”

“Thank you.” And with a slight nod, she’s gone.

M’Baku steps into the room ten minutes later. “Did I miss them?!” he booms, “or were they too busy f-”, registering Shuri he stops briefly, “…forgetting about their gracious hosts?”

Shuri’s eyes narrow, but then she just huffs and walks out of the room imperiously.

The next morning, T’Challa wakes early and pads downstairs quietly, pausing momentarily at a quiet murmur of voices from a common space. Smelling coffee, he knocks on the open door gently to announce himself.

He is only mildly surprised to see Shuri, Okoye, and Nakia speaking quietly with their three visitors.

Watching quietly from the door, he absorbs the calm of family and friends…who are potentially more than friends, if the touches and bracketing of Steve by Natasha and Bucky are anything to go by.

That night at dinner they walk into the room together. T’Challa hugs them, says simply, “I’m happy for you.”


Tony is the last to find out. Everyone else knows; has known, in some cases, for months. Almost everyone has forgotten that he doesn’t know yet. Three don’t, of course. They’ve taken to making bets on it.

(How far will Tony go to explain oddities away? How much of what’s right in front of him will he miss? For an admittedly brilliant detail-oriented inventor, he can be astoundingly unobservant when it comes to people who aren’t Pepper – and it took him a long time to learn from her.)

Here’s how it happens: Tony is not a morning person. There’s a very short list of people with whom he’s willing to interact before noon (Pepper and JARVIS are the only two on that list).

So one morning, as Tony mumble/shuffles his way down the hallway, intent on the fridge and another Red Bull, and hears chattering voices and laughter coming from the kitchen, he grumbles audibly and prepares to ignore whoever is there.

He reaches the doorway and starts towards the fridge, but stops after three steps, when his brain finally catches up with his eyes: Natasha’s wearing one of Steve’s shirts, Steve’s wearing one of Bucky’s, and Bucky’s shirtless except for a Frozen-themed apron. They’re all visibly sleep-rumpled, tousled hair sticking out.

Then he (finally) registers the tattoos. And then the hickies.

Tony yelps. “You! And you! And you! But I thought that you were…or that the two of you…or oh hell I even thought there might have been something between you two once! What…how long?! When?! JARVIS!”

He sprints down the hallway to tell Pepper.

JARVIS interrupts, telling him not to hurt himself.

Thor just blushes when asked and rapidly changed the subject.

Natasha, Steve, and Bucky say nothing about it that day, but Tony is a miraculously frequent target during the next all-Avengers Nerf War.