It was a rather quiet day in New York. No aliens invading, no cat crazed demigod wielding his magic scepter, and no motherships cutting skyscrapers in half like a block of cheese. Not that New York is ever actually quiet, but in light of recent events, it was just a normal day.
And yes, though you would never expect it, the term normal did at the moment apply to the events going on in Avengers Tower.
"Greetings Miss Carter," Stark's AI Jarvis voiced as I stepped into the large elevator after bypassing security.
"Hello Jarvis," I intoned, still trying to get used to the fact that I was talking to a robot that wasn't even a physical presence.
"I have informed Mr. Stark of your presence. Would you like me to take you to the recreational level?"
"Take me wherever Captain America is." I shrugged, leaning back against the railing. The floor under my feet shifted, and a slight hum could be heard as the elevator rose steadily.
My reason for coming to Avengers Tower was a simple one: Rogers had invited me. We had been on three dates now, and when Steve had learned that I had a day off from the CIA, he had invited me to come spend the day at Avengers Tower with the rest of the team.
And how could anyone refuse an offer like that?
The elevator came to a stop, and after a pause the doors opened upon a spacious room furnished with couches, game tables, a full bar, even a pool off in the corner, while the sole light source came from one entire wall converted into a window where sunlight streamed in.
All crammed together on one couch in front of an enormous flat screen TV, sat Thor, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Bruce Banner.
They were playing Mario Kart.
Thor was on the edge of seat, gripping his controller in two massive hands, his eyes devouring the screen in an eager, open-mouthed gaze, giving way to tremendous deep throated laughs whenever he moved up a placing or hit another racer with his assortment of weapons.
Steve, who was at the moment matched against Thor, had a slight confused look about him, and he seemed to be watching where he put his fingers and what button to press more than the actual screen.
Stark, who was sitting between the two with a laid back air, shouted out advice and witty cynicisms at both of them, while Bruce sat a little off to the corner, hugging a pillow to his chest but quietly watching the game and its players with a contented smile.
"I WIN!" came the roar from Thor, followed by a gale of uproarious laughter that filled the room.
Steve dropped his controller on his lap with a sigh. "I cant figure out which button to press to shoot the thingy you get when you crash into the shiny box thingy." he said quietly to Stark, who made a face and showed him.
Thor, in his victory dance, turned and saw me. "MISS CARTER, WELCOME!" he cried in a voice to big for the room, a large happy grin on his face.
Everyone on the couch turned and also cried out their greetings, Steve passing his controller to Stark, who began a rematch with Thor, and coming up to stand beside me. "Hello Sharon," he said quietly with a smile.
"Hello Steve," I replied, before both of our attention was arrested from another victorious shout from Thor who had just zapped all of the player in the game with lightning.
"HAHAHA! Even in this tiny universe ruled by a little red man and his green brother, I am still the God of Thunder!"
Stark rolled his eyes. "You do realize that anyone can do that, right? And the guy's name is Mario."
"A strange name for a strange little red man." Thor replied.
"It's Italian," Stark grumbled, for even though Thor had dropped back to last place to zap everyone with lightning, he had somehow gotten in the lead again.
"Tony, play nice." came Pepper's warning tone from over by the bar, before she turned back to chatting with Maria Hill over steaming mugs of tea.
"I WIN AGAIN!" Thor roared, leaping to his feet to celebrate, and Stark quickly snagged the controller out of his hands before he could throw it out the window.
At that moment, Natasha Romanoff silently entered the room, her head swiveling as if looking for something.
"Hey Widow," Stark cried, "want to come over here and show us how its done? I think Thor's getting a little egotistical." And he cast a loaded glance at the smug Thunder God.
"Hmm. Not right now boys, maybe later..." she replied distractedly. "Hey, have any of you guys seen Clint?"
A chorus of "no's" greeted this question.
"Have you tried the roof or air ducts?" Bruce chimed in helpfully in the relative silence that followed.
"Those were the first places I checked..." Natasha muttered, trailing off, and a thoughtful line appeared on her forehead. Suddenly she smiled. "Jarvis," she said speaking to the ever-present AI, "find Hawkeye."
A sandy-haired head suddenly popped up over the flat-screen, startling everyone present.
"Cheater!" Clint cried, before rapidly firing off a series of Nerf darts in her direction, using the TV as cover and for gun support.
Natasha Romanoff, the fearless Black Widow, actually squealed before diving forward to take cover behind the couch, returning fire with her own Nerf gun in between the heads of the gamers sitting on it, much to the outcry of the general public as they were being peppered with stray bullets.
However, when Natasha discovered that Clint's aim only increased in accuracy, she decided to go on the defensive, and after firing off a few rounds at the TV, she ran to safety and disappeared out of view behind the wall in the corridor, laughing her head off as Nerf bullets bounced off the wall following her flight.
"Hi Sharon!" Clint cried, grinning, as he ran past Steve and I in hot pursuit.
"Was she...laughing?" I asked Steve in disbelief.
He grinned. "Clint has that effect on her."
"Exactly how long has he been behind there?" Bruce asked the group in amazement, for they all had never noticed Clint sneak behind the flat screen.
The man in question paused in the doorway, and raising his gun, fired a series of darts down the corridor.
"I got you!" he crowed triumphantly. "Game over! You're dea—" but he never got to finish, for in the next moment he was lying flat on his back. "Oh come on, Tasha! That's not faaaiiiirrrr!" he broke off into cry, as he was suddenly dragged from view behind the wall by his feet.
A few seconds of the sound of tussling ensued before: "Ow! Nat! You win! Uncle! Uncle! Ow!"
Everyone laughed, and turned back to their game, talking and jesting like the good friends they were.
"Earth's Mightiest Heroes," Steve sighed, with an almost fatherly smile upon his face. "We're just a bunch of kids."