"I'm not a prude!" Steve argued, shrugging his shoulders a little defensively. "I just believe in sex being, you know, private."
She raised a brow at him, but didn't push it. "Fine," she allowed. "You keep it private. Just remember that I know you've had your brains banged out at least five times."
Steve furrowed his brows. "How do you ..." He trailed off, as he realized what a stupid question that was. "Just so you know, we've done it more than five times," he dared to point out. He looked the device over before handing it to Nat. "Care to do the honors?" he asked her, not wanting to admit that the thing kind of gave him the creeps.
"Sure, you Luddite," she said, taking the little device from him with a gently teasing nudge. Pressing her thumb to the pad, it activated, and she turned the dial to the number of people passing through from this side to the other. In about a minute, the stable portal had opened, waiting for them to pass through.
"I'm not a Luddite," Steve remarked with a straight face. "I'm Christian," he told her, resisting the urge to stick his tongue out at her, just for fun. Like sex, religion was a topic he rarely brought up in conversation. "Shall we?" he asked, turning his attention to the portal hovering in front of them.
She snorted with laughter. "After you, Your Holiness." Unlike Steve and many of their other friends, Nat practised no religion, officially referring to herself as an atheist. It wasn't that she couldn't believe in a greater power; she just didn't have any evidence for one.
"Careful or I'll make you kiss my ring later," Steve said. He wasn't really known for his quips, but there was something about his friendship with Nat that just naturally brought them out. They were naturally very easy going in each other's company, but then they were best friends. "See you on the other side," he said, just before stepping through.
Nat's chuckle followed him into the portal. There was the familiar sensation of being stretched through one dimension into another, and he stepped out, into the wide gardens of the Avenger's Mansion on the outskirts of New York City. A moment later, Nat was there beside him, deactivating the portal to close with a whoosh behind them.
Steve looked around at the familiar surroundings while he waited for Nat to join him, which she did just a moment later. "Everything looks normal," he remarked. At least, as normal as a mansion could from the outside. There were no spaceships hovering or giant spiders attacking or any other obvious signs of trouble.
"Seems to be," she agreed, looking around warily herself.
A speaker rose from the ground nearby, and the surprisingly comforting tones of JARVIS, Tony's A.I. assistant, made themselves known. "Welcome Captain Rogers, Agent Prescott. Mr. Stark is in the common room at present."
The common room, Steve repeated in his head. "Thanks, Jarvis," he said, nodding to Nat for them to head that way. "Anything else we should know?" he asked, taking another look around, as if everything was too normal. What exactly was it that Tony had claimed was a matter of life and death?
"Mr. Stark has requested that I not share the reason for your arrival here, Captain Rogers," JARVIS answered, somehow managing to obey his programming while dropping Tony right in it. "However, I am able to assure you that there is no hostile activity you need concern yourself with."
"That's good to know," Steve said, a little relieved. He'd guessed as much from what Tony had said and had taken a chance in leaving the shield home with Lucy. Thankfully, his bargain seemed to have paid off, as it didn't look like he'd need it. He shrugged at Nat, as if to say he had no clue what was going on. Her guess was as good as his.
"Don't look at me," Nat commented, starting toward the house. "This is looking more and more like he got a splinter and doesn't trust anyone but you to take it out for him."
"Nah, if that was all, he'd have asked Pepper to take care of it for him," Steve reasoned. "Besides, he asked both to come here, and if he wanted a doctor, he'd have asked me to bring Luce." Steve fell into step to lead the way toward the mansion. "Maybe he wants to ask us to be godparents," he suggested, though that seemed unlikely.
"I'm pretty sure Pepper doesn't want their kid caught up in all the extra-curricular here," Nat mused.
A flash of motion inside caught her eye - for some reason, Sam was running along the first floor corridor, arms outstretched in front of him, staring at something no one could see from outside.
Steve furrowed his brows at the sight. "Did Tony get a dog?" he asked, curiously. That still didn't explain why the man had summoned them here, unless he was hoping they'd take it off his hands.
"If he did, I am not taking it home with me," the redhead said firmly. "Coco is more than enough adorable puppy for me, especially with Alia getting into everything."
"Don't look at me! Our house is practically a zoo as it is," Steve said, lifting his hands in the air. Not only did they have half a dozen kids, but a small menagerie of pets, besides.
"We're agreed, then," she chuckled. "All pets, his problem." The door into the mansion opened as they approached it, proof that JARVIS was tracking their progress, no doubt on Tony's orders.
"Thanks again, Jarvis," Steve said, addressing the A.I. almost as if he was a living being. He didn't have to hold the door open for Nat, as Jarvis was doing that for him, so the two of them just strode inside, heading in the direction of the so-called "common room".
"It is my pleasure, Captain Rogers. I have informed Mr. Stark of your arrival."
Nat smiled as they stepped inside. "Yeah, thanks, J," she added, flicking her hair out of her face.
The mansion was eerily quiet, but for the sound of someone running around upstairs. Opening the door to the common room presented them with Tony, sat on the floor with the disparate pieces of the coffee machine scattered around him, tool wrap open nearby.
Steve furrowed his brows again when he saw Tony sitting on the floor surrounded by coffee machine innards. "Um, I am not helping you fix that," he told the man. And he sure as hell hoped they hadn't been summoned all this way with that in mind when Tony could easily just buy another.