The Impala rumbled to a stop in the private parking garage below Stark Tower’s North Building and Dean tried not to let himself get too overwhelmed. As much as he hated to admit it, teaming up with the Avengers was pretty damn exciting. He stepped out of the car and shut the door behind him, gazing around at Stark’s collection of vehicles. Motorcycles, muscle cars, classic cars, sports cars, and even a few prototypes, all on display in the vast garage. Dean leaned back on the Impala and bit his lip to keep himself from salivating.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Winchester,” a voice sounded from above. Dean swung his head around wildly, trying to locate the source.
“My name is JARVIS; I am Mr. Stark’s AI. If you’d please remain where you are, Mr. Stark will be down in a moment to escort you to the Main Tower.”
Dean stuck his hands in his jacket pockets and settled back against the car again. “Alrighty then…”
“1967 Chevrolet Impala?” a different voice echoed through the garage a few minutes later. Dean looked over to see Iron Man walking toward him and he smothered a childish, giddy grin.
“Yeah, you like her?” he said, as Tony came up and patted the hood appreciatively.
“A little road weary but makes her authentic. I had a ’67 myself. A Shelby Cobra.” Dean whistled. “Unfortunately she was the victim of some of my early experimentation.”
“Oh, you know, crash landed right on top of her. Heavy iron suit and all that, wasn’t pretty.”
“Son of a bitch,” Dean said, running his hand along the Impala’s roof, reluctant to entertain thoughts of her demise. He went and grabbed his bags from the trunk, locking it again before Tony could catch a good glimpse of the weapons cache. “Baby’s been through her fair share of trouble but I’ve fixed her up every time.”
The two men began walking toward the junction between the North Building and the Main Tower.
“Ah, Mr. Handy Man, huh? Good, we’ll probably be able to put that to use. How do you feel about robots?”
They continued talking all the way through the lobby and up the elevator. On the way up, they were startled when Castiel decided to drop in, appearing between them.
“Holy shit, Cas,” Dean said, backing against the wall of the elevator. “You couldn’t have joined us before we got in the elevator?”
“You must be angel boy,” Tony said, cuffing Castiel on the shoulder.
“…Yes, and you must be the arrogant billionaire who owns this tower.”
“That would be me, indeed.” Tony smiled brilliantly and Cas looked at him, his expression unchanging.
“Cas, I thought you were gonna call when you were coming. How’d you even know we were in here?” Dean asked, straightening his jacket as he pushed himself off the wall.
“I asked the receptionist.”
The three of them rode the rest of the way in silence until they emerged onto the main party deck floor where everyone was gathered. Dean looked around the room, taking note of the floor-length windows and positions of all the entrances and exits.
Tony cleared his throat and the general chatter died down as everyone turned their attention to the new arrivals. “Our final recruits have arrived. Everyone, Dean Winchester and Castiel. Dean Winchester and Castiel, everyone.”
Dean waved as best he could with his hands occupied by his bags and a few other people responded with “Hello” or a small nod or salute.
“You can drop your bags there for the time being; you can move them down to your room later. But for now,” Tony said, clapping his hands together, “we’re all here. Let the Armageddon Party commence!”
Jack popped a bottle of champagne and everyone got up to mingle, going up to greet Dean and Castiel or to talk to various other allies.
Dean went over to Sam who was sitting at the bar. His brother stood up and clasped his shoulder. “Hey, you made it.”
“Yeah. How was your ride in the Magic School Bus?”
Sam rolled his eyes. “It’s called a TARDIS, Dean. And it’s really cool; you missed out.”
“Yeah, well, I’m much happier taking the open road with my Baby. And speaking of babes…” Dean moved Sam to the side and approached Natasha, who was drinking with Clint and Coulson.
“Hi,” she said, barely sparing him a glance and taking a sip of her champagne.
“So I’ve heard.”
“And you’re Black Widow.” Dean put on what he thought was a charming smile. Natasha set her drink down on the bar as Clint and Coulson hid their smiles behind their glasses.
“That I’m also aware of.”
“Right…” Dean laughed nervously, and the three S.H.I.E.L.D agents watched him, waiting for him to continue. “I’m…wasting my time here, aren’t I?”
Natasha nodded, a tiny smile hinting on her lips. Dean laughed again awkwardly before turning on his heel and going back to Sam who was on the verge of convulsive laughter. “Not a word,” Dean warned, taking a beer from the provided cooler and twisting the cap off. Even Cas, who had come to stand across from Sam, looked mildly amused.
The rest of the of the allies had branched off into other parts of the room, falling into easy conversation. Tony joined the Doctor, Rose, and Bruce in a discussion of space travel. Jack, Steve, John, and Thor sat together on the couches, sharing war stories and laughing heartily as Jack re-enacted an air battle, complete with sound effects. Of course, Clint, Natasha, and Coulson were huddled at the end of the bar, probably talking about secret agent business. Sherlock was off by himself, standing by the windows and staring out over the cityscape as if he was going to deduce all of New York.
Sam watched the stoic detective over his glass of Jack Daniels, ignoring his brother’s complaints over the female-to-male ratio of the room. Castiel’s unblinking stare bored into the side of Dean’s skull and brought the hunter out of his ramblings.
He turned to the shorter man, leveling his annoyed gaze with the always-observant blue-eyed stare of his friend. “Cas.”
“Remember what I said about staring.”
“No, I remember something about personal space. Which I still don’t understand–how does one monopolize a specific portion of the atmosphere–”
“Okay, okay,” shaking his head, Dean took another swig of the thankfully familiar beer. “Ease off the staring.” He shoved his elbow into Sam’s side. “That goes for you too.”
“Who are you staring at?”
“Uh, Sherlock Holmes I think is his name.” He inclined his head toward the tall brooding man. “He just looks lonely.”
“No, we can’t make friends here, Sammy. We don’t have a good streak with keeping them alive.”
“These people are geniuses and superheroes, Dean. I don’t think we need to look after them quite like our other friends.”
Dean scoffed and drained the last of the amber liquor in his on bottle. “Wait till they hear it was us who started the apocalypse. We’ll see just who is left in the end for us to be friends with.” He scowled.
Castiel touched both brothers’ shoulders firmly, “If it’s any consolation, it’s really neither of your faults. Heaven would have made it happen with or without your cooperation.”
“Sure doesn’t feel that way.”
“Hey!” Sam called out, “Sherlock!” He held up a beer in place of a question.
Sherlock sighed. He really didn’t want to socialize with any of these men. The little John inside his head reminded him he was going to be spending an undetermined amount of time with these people. This was the End of the World, it was probably going to take some time. The little John in his head urged him to take a chance and talk to the Winchesters…and their companion.
Castiel. This was an interesting man. With a small nod, Sherlock answered Sam’s silent question and moved over to join them.
Sherlock took the unopened beer bottle from Sam’s hand and with a swift turn of his wrist, uncapped the bottle and let the small metal disc clink to the floor. Dean nodded in approval and opened another for himself in much the same fashion.
“I didn’t take you for a beer guy,” Dean said. He looked over the suit-wearing detective curiously.
“Usually under disguise, John and I have to “get loose” and drink a few to blend in. John prefers light beer or scotch. You, I can tell, drink a lot. More than your brother, usually of a lower quality but you can appreciate a good whiskey or a quality microbrew. Sam prefers dark beer but likes wine as well.” Dean smirked at that and ignored his brother’s side glare. “However your friend here… He is not human.”
The Winchesters tensed but Castiel regarded the man with curiosity, tilting his head to side. “Yes, how did you know?”
“You are different. I see you are rather uncomfortable in your body, like it is not your own, and you seem newly acquainted to human society by your mannerisms. I just overheard Dean telling you about personal space, but a man of that,” gestures to Castiel’s vessel, “age should know about personal space to the point of not requiring to spare a thought for it. You had to be told not to stare, in fact you sometimes stare off, like you’re focusing on something far away, perhaps you are really feeling the area. You three both seem uncomfortable in this city scape. You’re used to the country and traveling. The way Dean always stands between Sam and present company implicates that not only in hostile situations but in everyday life you feel the need to protect him. You seem much more like a father protecting his child than an older brother. Your family is broken–”
“Dean.” Sam put his arm in front of his older brother. Dean sat fully back on his stool again, still leveling a guarded glare at the detective.
“You are a gifted man.” Castiel was awed by Sherlock’s deduction skills, and took a step forward. “I’m pleased to know you are working to stop criminals rather than using your skills against your fellow humans.” The taller man was obviously surprised by the praise.
“It’s much more fun solving puzzles than creating them. What are you?”
“I am Castiel, an Angel of the Lord. This appearance is just my vessel.”
Sherlock’s eyebrows rose and he gave Castiel a disbelieving smirk. “Really. An angel. Wings, halo, and all?”
“I don’t know about the halo bit, but I’ve seen his wings.” Dean took a swig of his beer as Sherlock narrowed his eyes at Castiel in thought. “And I’ve seen him smite people. I didn’t believe it either at first, but he really is an angel.”
“…It is not impossible for angels to exist, and if the Apocalypse is truly happening, that lends more credibility to Biblical folklore.” Sherlock pressed his hands together in front of his lips, gazing at Castiel thoughtfully. Dean almost thought he was praying, but it turned out he was mulling new questions in his head. “What is your wingspan? You will likely not show anyone you do not explicitly trust your actual wings, as they would be too vulnerable to injury if revealed, so I will not ask you to.”
“Do you mean my wing span as I am contained within this vessel or my true form? In my true form my wingspan would easily be as long as the Avenger’s tower is high.”
Sherlock opened his mouth slightly, his brain going into hyperdrive trying to remember classes of angels and any references to their size. Before he could fire off an inquiry, though, Thor came over and clasped Sherlock’s and Castiel’s shoulders. “Who is ready for a drinking contest? I am told you Midgardians do that to commemorate friendship!”
Dean crossed his arms on the counter, leaning forward on them with a smirk. “Straight up drinking or a game?”
“I have not played any of your kind’s drinking games, but I believe I could still defeat you lightweight humans in a such a contest,” grinned Thor.
“I think your demigod metabolism might give you a little bit of an advantage there, buddy. Cas could probably take you on, though.”
“Dean, I don’t like it when you volunteer me for things.”
“Relax, Cas, I know you can totally win.” He fixed Castiel with a sly smirk. “Or can some pagan god defeat an Angel of the Lord in even as simple a contest as this?”
Castiel huffed, but sat on the barstool on the opposite side of Dean from Thor. “How is this game played?”
“Ohhhh, a game!” cried the gangly Doctor, who stopped by their group en route to the soda fountain.
“Oh this will be even funner. The God, The Angel, and The Time Lord. It’s a drinking game called ‘Quarters’. It’s really quite simple. You’ll each have a cup representing you at the end of this table, and you take turns flicking quarters and trying to bounce them into the other person’s cup. Every time a quarter manages to get into their cup, they take a shot. Basically it’s a game to try to make your opponents get drunker, faster. Usually I play till I stumble down on my ass but that’s up to you guys.”
“A feat of precision, marksmanship, and friendly competition, I like it,” declared Thor, popping his knuckles in each huge fist, eyes narrowed as he judged the distance between himself and the end of the counter.
“What do I hear about marksmanship?” Clint came up and rested his elbow on the counter, “I can get behind a game of marksmanship.”
“John,” Sherlock called out. The blonde man looked up from his circle of new comrades. “Come show these imbeciles a thing or two about marksmanship.” Sherlock’s mouth twitched up, knowing his dear blogger couldn’t resist a good challenge.
John glanced at those gathered by Sherlock at the bar and rose from his place on the couch to join them. “Well, fellows, I’m going to try my luck at not getting my arse served to me by a couple of ‘higher beings’.”
“Hey,” Jack lightly smacked John’s arm with the back of his hand. “Perhaps later I could show you my marksmanship skills elsewhere?” A coy light glinted behind his eyes, his eyebrows raised meaningfully.
“I’m not–,” John glanced at the waiting Sherlock for the briefest of moments, “I’m not interested, sorry.”
“Ah well, I gave it shot.” Jack laughed at his own joke and winked at the sandy haired man. Smiling gratefully at the understanding old soldier, John stood up and then joined Sherlock where a few others had flocked to join in on the fun as well.
Give any of these people a gun, or a bow, perhaps a knife, or even a hammer and they could hit their target dead on each and every time. However, giving them a quarter and telling them to flick and bounce it across a table is equal to watching a sugar-crazed three year old trying to play ring toss when the target is 5 feet away. The only ones who could really make a decent shot were surprisingly Castiel and Thor. The angel was very well aware of the power and movement of his vessel and easily found the right amount of force to use after Dean showed him how to angle the quarter. Thor on the other hand found this to be similar to a more kid friendly game he played back in Asgard. They tag-teamed against everyone else. John and Clint were aiming for one anothers cup as well, but not faring as well in their aim, though Coulson was 99.99% positive Clint was losing on purpose, his quarters sailing perfectly between the slim spaces that separated the cups. The Doctor could hardly flick the quarter enough to get it to bounce a reasonable distance. Eventually Castiel and Thor turned on against the other and aimed with pinpoint precision for the other’s glass. They downed shot after shot of their choice of drink.
Foreseeing his unavoidable loss, the Doctor conceded early and slipped away, once more heading toward the sodas at the end of the bar when a dim glow under the resident Iron Man’s shirt caught his eye. He approached the genius with a spring of curiosity in his step.
“Now,” the Doctor spun in a circle and stopped gracefully at Tony’s side, “What is that faint glow under your shirt, Mr. Stark?”
“I thought you knew all about us, Doctor?” chuckled Tony. He slugged back his own shot of liquor and leaned against the bar.
“I know who you are, and what you do in general but not your precise history.”
“Too much universal knowledge to hold in that head?” Tony held up a glass. “Want some?”
Wrinkling his nose at the sharp-smelling liquor, he avoided both questions with silence. Bringing up his hand to accent his next question, the Doctor was cut short when Tony turned his back to the Doctor to fill a fresh row of shot glasses on the bartop in front of him, but with whiskey this time. Nimble on his feet, the Doctor quickly shifted to the other side of Tony. “I’m really interested, mostly for the well-being of yourself, and those present. ‘Cause the last time someone had a glow on their body, it turned out to be a nasty alien parasite, living off their–”
Tony laughs. “It’s not an alien parasite; I can guarantee you that.”
“How? How can you be sure, absolutely positively–”
“Because I put it there myself,” stated Tony, catching the Doctor’s eye, effectively silencing his ramblings. The Doctor didn’t break Tony’s gaze, he merely tilted his head a bit and mimicked Tony’s resting stance, leaning on one elbow.
“Yourself? You willingly put some glowy thing in your chest?”
“Yes.” Tony raised the glass to his lips, hesitated and dropped his gaze. His glass came to rest on the counter with a thunk. “It protects my heart in more than one way. I call it the Arc Reactor. It’s an energy source, kind of like a mini fusion energy generator–” laughs at the Doctor’s surprise, “It’s completely stable. No radiation, different elements.” At this Tony did sigh and downed a shot. A familiar world-weary look settled over the Avenger’s face. The Doctor looked around the room once before looking at Tony again to continue. “It not only powers my suit, but the electromagnet that keeps pieces of shrapnel from damaging my heart.”
“Brilliant. Though, I don’t think I want to know why there is shrapnel in your chest cavity.” He frowned. Tony laughed and nodded in agreement. “Can I take a look, if you don’t mind. That has to be one beautiful piece of technology. Oh, don’t worry,” he said, seeing Tony’s unease as he pulled his sonic screwdriver out from an inner pocket of his long coat. “I’ll just give your Arc Reactor a little scan, nothing too probing or potentially problematic.“
“A scan? Really?” the genius raised an eyebrow.
“Oh please, if you think I’ll steal your designs, have no fear. I have no need for any of your technology, advanced as it may be for humans. I just want to understand– this.” He gestured excitedly to the faint glow from Tony’s chest. "It’s absolutely fascinating.”
Tony eyed the Doctor skeptically. “Alright, well, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”
Tony pointed at the Doctor’s screwdriver. “I’ll show you the reactor but only if I can look at your Sonic doohickey.”
"Oh, well, yes, I suppose that would be fair…” The Doctor looked between his sonic screwdriver and Tony apprehensively before nodding once, his eyebrows drawn down a bit. “Yes, alright. You first?
Tony smirked, “Deal.” Pushing away from the bar counter, he tugged the bottom of his shirt up.
The Doctor’s smile turned to confusion. “Whoa!” He exclaimed and looked away from Tony, bringing his hands up and looking around. He loudly whispered “What are you doing?”
“Stripping. Goodness, who knew the ancient Time Lord was a virgin.”
“I am not–finishing that sentence.” He ended slowly. Tony just laughed, tossing his shirt aside. “There are people around!”
The Doctor blew out all the air in his lungs, slumping slightly. “I know who the promiscuous one is in your group.” He muttered under his breath. His eyes caught the exposed arc reactor and the light drew him in like a moth.
“What was that, beanstalk? Like what you see?” mused Stark.
“Shush.” The Doctor’s curiosity grew stronger the longer he eyed the Arc Reactor that rested in the center of Tony’s chest. Leaning in closer, he started to change the setting on his sonic screwdriver, his eyes never leaving the soft blue light. “Does it hurt?”
“No, not anymore.”
“Anymore?” Tony could feel the breath of the word on his exposed torso.
“I kind of got palladium poisoning. That was the first element I used in my original arc reactor. Now it’s replaced, and I haven’t had issues with this one. Hey–” the Doctor retracted his hand that had been tracing the edges of the arc. “I thought you said just a scan!”
“Hmm? Oh, yes.” The Doctor abruptly stood up and stepped back to a more acceptable range. “Right, sorry. That is a marvel right there in your chest, Mr. Stark.” With a final adjustment to his sonic’s setting, he moved in closer once more. He brought the glowing tip to the rim of the reactor and paused when he noticed Tony stiffen. He flicked the sonic screwdriver around the edge of the reactor and snapped it up to his own face for examination of the analysis.
The Doctor looked up to ask Tony a question and saw him trembling, grasping the bar counter. His face was pale and his eyes were wide, nearly bulging. The trembles quickly turned into shakes, running up and down the man’s body. His breath escaped him in a shuddering, painful sounding gasp. This gained attention from Tony’s teammates almost instantly. Tony thrashed, lost grip of the bar counter, and fell to the ground in a fit.
“Tony?!” Steve ran over from overseeing Thor and Cas’ drinking escapade and cradled Tony’s head, attempting to prevent brain damage. Seconds after Steve had stilled Tony’s head, the genius went completely limp, previously flailing limbs dropping to the floor. John and Bruce were running to aid the unconscious man, a frayed medical bag slung over Bruce’s shoulder. A distinctive click resounded in the new found silence and a gun pressed to the back of the Doctor’s head. He raised his hands up slowly.
“What did you do?” hissed the Russian spy.
“I–I just scanned his arc reactor! I swear! I don’t know what happened to Tony! He shouldn’t have had a reaction, it was just a five dimensional scan!”
“Natasha,” Bruce said in his warning voice; he sounded strained and looked rather green around the gills. “I can’t predict what the other guy will do if he hears gunshots right now.” Both doctors were checking Tony’s vitals and the rest of the room’s activities and conversations had ceased. “Please, put the gun down. I can’t guarantee anyone’s safety if you don’t.”
“His pulse,” interrupted a confused John, “Seems–”
“Normal?” spoke a voice from below. The surrounding company looked down to where Tony Stark was lying awake and grinning like they had all fallen for an elaborate joke on national television. His face looked normal again, not a hint of strain on it. “I was acting. Didn’t think it’d stir up such ruckus.” He winked at Bruce, who proceeded to slump back against the bottom of the bar and repeatedly bang his head against it.
“Tony.” Bruce breathed out, raking his hands over his face.
“See? Fine! He’s fine! I didn’t do anything,” exclaimed the Doctor.
“He really didn’t, Tash. Sorry for the worry.” Tony grinned back at her. Her glare caused him to visibly flinch. Clint shot a glance back at Tony before following Natasha as she stalked off toward the elevator. Steve held Tony’s head a bit more firmly for a moment before he finally let go with a restrained huff. He refused to look at Tony when the shorter man apologized to him.
“It’s not funny, Tony,” snapped Steve. “Don’t ever joke about something like that again.”
“Aw, come on, Cap, it was just a joke.” Tony whined. Steve’s knuckles creaked as he clenched his fists.
“It was not a very good one,” was his clipped, forcibly calm response. A glance down at Tony had Steve tightening his jaw as well and he headed for the stairs, his destination the gym where he could work off his worry and frustration. “Your health and safety should not be a laughing matter, here or in a battle.” It was muttered to himself, and those that had hearing sharp enough to catch it were either too focused on getting each other completely smashed or chose to keep quiet. The bang of the door behind him was like the final say in the matter.
“Sheesh, our Star-Spangled Man sure has his stripes twisted up in a knot,” Tony quipped as he stretched like a cat on the floor.
“He’s right though, Tony,” came the soft voice of Dr. Banner, still finding his zen against the bar wall, “you shouldn’t make us worry like that for shits and giggles. We honestly thought the Doctor had hurt you, and upsetting delicate team dynamics is not good for the…other guy, or me for that matter.”
“Well, that–” John grunted as he stood up, “was enough excitement for me today. It’s late. I’m retiring for the evening.” Joints popped as the old soldier straightened and stretched his back. “Goodnight all.” Sherlock was almost instantly by his side and the pair walked out.
“Me too.” Rose yawned as she stood from her spot. She gently took the Doctor’s hand in her own and led him away from the tense group.
Dean had Cas propped up, one of the angel’s arms slung around his shoulders. “I have a drunken angel to put to bed. Sammy.” Automatically, the younger Winchester came over to support the other side of Castiel.
“I can fly to bed,” Castiel insisted, a slur the only audible indication of his intoxication.
“Negative, ghost rider, flight pattern is cancelled, you are officially grounded. We don’t want you halfway inside walls or something.” They led him away, Castiel mumbling something about references to things he didn’t understand. After muttering half-hearted goodnights, everyone wandered to the elevator to head to their respective rooms. Tony stayed on the ground until Bruce stood and offered him a hand. Grunting, Tony pulled himself up and was assaulted with a face full of his t-shirt.
“Seriously, Tony, must you push buttons?”
“I’m the master of button pushing, Bruce.” He pulled the shirt off his face.
“You came far too close today with me and I think you went too far according to Steve.”
“He needs to loosen up.”
“Tony,” Bruce intoned reproachfully.
Tony looked down at his shirt for a moment, before hastily putting it on. “I’m gonna work in the lab tonight. Care to join?”
“We’ll probably have a briefing tomorrow morning. I’m going to bed. You should too.”
“Yeah, I probably should.”
“…but you won’t. Somehow, I’m not surprised.”
Tony flashed Bruce his trademarked megawatt smile. “You know me well enough by now, Brucey. Sleep is for normal people.”