the_water_clock: abstract painting (Untitled 1953)
[personal profile] the_water_clock
Author: Clio
Title: Loose and Tight in All the Right Places
Pairing: Pepper/Natasha, Clint/Coulson, Tony/Steve. Also background Thor/Jane, Bruce/Darcy, secret Maria pairing.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: The Avengers, led by Tony Stark, have been kicking around the Williamsburg scene for a couple of years now. When bassist Pepper Potts finds them a new guitarist who completely changes their sound, they also get the attention of SHIELD Records' top A&R guy, Nick Fury.
But on the bill with The Avengers on their big night is Spies Become Soldiers, formed by Williamsburg vets Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton, who wanted to take their music in a new direction. They've only been playing together a few months, but they've already got a lot of buzz surrounding them, and the songs to back it up.
So Fury sends them both out on tour, an extended battle of the bands for the one remaining slot in a SHIELD showcase at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin. Which band will end up with the spotlight and record deal? Will they kill each other trying to get there, or be too distracted by romance to bother with fighting? Or is it really all about the music, man?
Warning: (skip) No warnings necessary.
Length: 15,400 words
Notes: Written for [profile] marvel_bang, so first thanks go to the lovely mods for running this big bang! Thanks also to [personal profile] amyamy, [personal profile] verity and [personal profile] earlofcardigans for reading early drafts and giving me direction, and to everyone who listened to me yammering about the concept. Stevie in particular was a lot of help in thinking about the music itself. And of course, thanks to [personal profile] ali_wildgoose who is basically the best and most patient beta ever.
End notes detail the music referenced in this story.




august

"Man, let's just form our own band," Clint said. "I'm serious. Fuck this shit. We're both good writers. Let's just fucking do it."

Natasha looked up blearily at Clint, sitting across from her at their tiny kitchen table. Her first cup of coffee hadn't quite hit her bloodstream yet. "You mean that?" she asked. "Because you've said that before."

"I know, but these Circus guys, they're just dicking around and I'm tired of it."

"What if Barney comes back?"

"He's not," Clint said, though he didn't meet her eyes. "And if he did, well, it'd be cool if I was making something of myself. Then maybe he couldn't get to me."

"Maybe."

"C'mon, Tash. Those Red Room assholes just want a hot girl bass player to make them look cool. They don't even let you sing or play any of your songs. I don't know why you're staying now that Bucky's fucked off."

She didn't say because it was easier, or because it was familiar, or because she'd thought that she'd break up with Bucky but still be writing songs in a band with him, but he made that impossible by moving out of New York entirely and she was still angry, which made her stubborn. Instead she said: "Maybe if Bucky's friend had joined."

"But he didn't." Clint held out his hand. "Let's do this."

Natasha hesitated for a second before shaking on it. "All right," she said. "Why not?" Maybe something new would be good; at the very least it would be different. Bucky had completely changed what he was doing after they broke up; why shouldn't she?

"Awesome. Because Maria's band just broke up, you know."

"So that's why you're doing this now," Natasha said. "Well, I have always liked her." She also liked not being the only girl in the band, but Clint knew that already.

"Now we just need a guitar player," he said, "and we'll be golden."

Turned out Maria had a friend, and his band was playing the Helicarrier the next night.

"Just don't judge the book by the cover," she said. "His look doesn't really go with his playing style."

"Why doesn't he just change it?" Clint asked.

"He likes confounding people," Maria replied. "But this band doesn't know what to do with him."

On stage was a band playing possibly the most generic music Natasha had heard that wasn't on the radio; it was all very run-of-the-mill. Good thing Maria had said all that stuff about books and covers, too, because her guitarist friend was wearing an actual suit and tie, with sunglasses, like a Blues Brother without the hat. And he could have used the hat, actually; his hairline was receding.

He also looked bored out of his mind, called upon to play nothing but power chords for the Thursday night former-frat-boy after-work crowd.

"Seriously?" Clint asked. "This is your friend?"

"Wait," Maria said, and when the song ended she shouted, "Let's go crazy!"

Some others in the crowd picked that up and shouted it, too, so Natasha assumed it was one of the band's usual covers. Figured—the lead singer looked over-dramatic enough to pull off Prince.

"All right, all right," he said. "We heard you. Phil, you up for it?"

The guitarist leaned into a nearby mike. "Yes," he said, in a voice as devoid of inflection as Natasha had ever heard.

"You gotta be kidding me," Clint said.

The singer pointed to the keyboard player, who started in on the opening church organ chords and the singer milked it for all it was worth. But it wasn't until the guitar riff kicked in that Natasha remembered this song had not one, but two sick Prince guitar solos.

Which Phil proceeded to completely shred.

"Tasha?" Clint said, awestruck. "I think I'm in love."

Natasha turned to Maria, wide-eyed, and Maria had "I told you so" written all over her face.

After the set ended Phil came over and hugged Maria, who said, "Jeez, take the off the shades."

"Oh," Phil replied, removing them to reveal eyes of a startling deep blue, and now that she could see his entire face up close, Natasha realized that Phil couldn't be more than three or four years older than she and Clint.

"Scratch that; I know I am," Clint said.

"Know you're what?" Phil asked.

"Uh, know I'm right to ask you to be in our band?" Clint asked, glancing at Natasha, who nodded. So he continued, "You're really good, man, and you're criminally underused in this band."

Phil cocked his head. Off stage, his movements were just a bit jerky, and his shoulders twitched. "So are you. In your band, I mean."

"You saw us?" Clint asked.

"Sure," Phil said, holding his gaze. "Isn't that what everyone does, goes out and sees each other's bands?"

"Most people, yes," Natasha said, smiling, because Clint didn't do that, and liked to hide his introversion under a veil of assumed snobbery. Even she could only get him out of the house and away from his music a couple of times a week.

Phil turned to Natasha. "You are, too, but everyone knows those Red Room guys are dicks."

"Thanks?" Natasha said, and wondered why people were only telling her this now.

"So c'mon, Phil," Maria said, bumping his shoulder with her own. "You in?"

"Why not," Phil said.

"Cool," Clint replied.




"I hate auditioning people," Bruce said. "Like, who the fuck are we, you know?"

"We're the Avengers," Tony said, as if that meant anything at all beyond two or three stops on the L train, if there. But it was what they had, and with Rhodey fucking off to grad school, the Avengers needed a guitarist fast. Pepper just hoped it was someone who could both deal with Tony and move the band in a new direction because to be honest, things had gotten just a little boring lately. There had been a burst of creativity from both her and Tony after they broke up—that and Bruce's pleading were the reasons she'd stayed in the band—but even that ran out after six months.

Thor wandered the practice space, restless. "When does the next axe-man arrive?" he asked, a little impatient because they'd dismissed the previous applicant so quickly.

"Any minute now, and they aren't all men," Pepper said, because of course she'd placed the ad, read the emails and made the schedule. Not because she was the girl bass player—she did no cleaning or procurement of food, on principle—but because none of the rest of her bandmates couldn't organize their way out of a paper bag.

"At least this one sent us some songs," Bruce said.

"Oh, that's who we're seeing now?" Tony asked. "They were pretty good, actually."

"Hello?" called out a voice in the hall.

"This way," Pepper shouted back.

Tony's back was to the door. "Thanks for coming, great, great," he said, turning, and then stopped.

Pepper glanced at Bruce, who was trying not to laugh at the sight of Tony Stark made speechless by six feet four inches of blond hair, blue eyes, handsome face and solid muscle.

"Hi," the man said with a grin, and held out his hand. "I'm Steve Rogers. I came about the band?"

"And I'm so glad you did," Tony said, all but licking his lips as he shook Steve's hand. "Rogers—have I heard that name before?"

Steve shrugged. "Pretty common name, I think," he said.

"All right, well, that's Bruce Banner, he plays keyboards and does the loops and shit that I don't. Thor Odinson's behind the kit. And don't let her whole red hair and freckles thing fool you—Pepper Potts is an amazing bass player."

Steve waved as he bent down to open his guitar case.

"Wow, that's a really nice guitar," Tony said, and it was—limited edition Gibson, Pepper was pretty sure, with a sweet mahogany veneer.

"Thanks; it was a gift," Steve said, slinging it over his shoulder.

"So plug in over there, and is there anything you were thinking of?" Tony asked.

"Gee, I don't know. I haven't been playing rock that long—only a few years."

"Really?" Bruce asked. "You seem pretty comfortable with that thing."

"Oh, I've been playing since I was four, just, mostly blues and stuff, I guess."

Tony turned to Pepper and mouthed, "Four?" and Pepper shook her head, because anyone who was learning programming at eight to get that sound out of his Casio shouldn't be teasing.

Aloud Tony said, "All right, well, Stones? Zeppelin?"

"Zeppelin?" Thor asked, sitting up a little straighter.

"Sure," Steve said. "Whole Lotta Love?"

"Cool, but let's skip the trippy middle part and just go straight from the second chorus into the solo." He turned to Thor. "Sorry, buddy."

Thor shrugged. "It is not my audition," he said.

Steve checked his tuning and adjusted the levels on the amp. "Well, I guess I'm starting," he said.

"It's all you, baby," Tony replied.

Steve had seemed a little nervous and shy when he walked in, but as soon as he started playing his whole affect changed. His hips swayed just slightly to the groove of the song, and when Pepper joined in he looked up at her, a twinkle in his eye. Tony started singing and Steve leaned toward him slightly, rocking back and forth on two feet now, hips still scooping with the riff, and then Thor's drums kicked in and he nodded with the beat. It was as if the entire song lived in his body, had to have expression somewhere other than just his fingers on the frets and strings.

And yet—and this was the opposite of nearly every lead guitarist Pepper had ever known in six years of playing in bands—when the solo came, his body language didn't really change. He played it well, made it his own in tiny ways Pepper was aware of but couldn't pin down, but he didn't draw any attention to himself when he did it. It was odd, this self-effacing confidence.

"Brilliant!" Thor pronounced.

"Bruce?" Tony asked.

Bruce had been watching, leaning slightly over the keyboards. "No, it was good," he said, nodding. "Very nice."

"Very nice?" Tony asked. "Zeppelin?"

"What?" Bruce said.

Tony shook his head. "Let's just do the audition piece," he said. "And I should have thought this through because I'm blowing out my voice here. Pepper, can you sing it this time?"

"Sure," Pepper replied, though she wasn't fooled; Tony wanted to watch Steve without having much he needed to pay attention to himself.

"Thanks. Steve, I'll just play rhythm with you. I know the song's kind of a cliche, but we figured it was something everyone knew and would get you playing with all four of us."

"I actually didn't know it," Steve admitted. "New to rock and all. I'd heard it before, but I've just learned it, so it might be a little rough."

"Well, I'm just warning you right now, if you aren't a Radiohead fan, you can't be in a band with Pepper," Tony said. "Kind of the rule around here. But hey, you might make it better."

"Hope so," he said, hopping up onto a nearby stool. Thor counted them off, and Steve started playing.

Please could you stop the noise I'm trying to get some rest Pepper sang, thinking about how Steve had had no more than a week to learn the song and played it as easily as if it was nothing more than a bunch of power chords, following its myriad changes and mood shifts like a raft floating down a river.

"That's what it sounds like when you've just learned a song?" Bruce asked when they'd finished.

"I guess?" Steve replied, and he was even blushing.

Tony turned, looking at each of them, then back at Steve. "Rogers, can you … give us a minute or five?"

"Sure," he said, pulling his phone out of his pocket as he walked out the door.

No sooner had it shut behind him than Tony said, "We need him and I swear to God, it's not because he's ten miles of sex."

"I think that he would be an excellent addition to our merry band," Thor said. "And not simply because he wished to play Led Zeppelin."

"He's really good," Bruce said. "Like, crazy good. And not an asshole, which helps. We have enough assholes in this band."

"Pepper?" Tony asked.

She wanted to fake him out, but it seemed pointless, so she just nodded. "I like him," she said.

"Yes, excellent," Tony said, with the gleam in his eye he always had when he got his way, and he flung the door open and called down the hall.

Steve walked in a moment later. "So?" he asked.

"I'm doing this against my better judgment," Tony said, "letting another hottie into the band. Might cut into my action."

Steve blushed again, smiling and looking down at the floor. "I'm pretty sure we appeal to completely different types, Tony," he replied.

"Maybe," Tony said. "Well, come out with us tomorrow night, kind of a personality check, and then at practice on Wednesday we'll go through your songs. See what improvements we can make."

"And yours," Steve said. "Songs, I mean."

Tony raised his eyebrows. "Yeah, sure," he said.

"And I don't drink," Steve continued. "Hope that's okay."

Tony sat back on his heels. "Totally straight-edge?"

"Something like that," Steve said. "But I'm not—I don't care if other people drink. I'm kinda used to it."

"Good, because Thor likes his Aquavit," Tony said. He held out his hand. "Steve Rogers, welcome to the Avengers."




The thing about languishing in a band that doesn't appreciate you is that you either stop writing entirely, or you find yourself with a giant backlog of songs that you fear no one will ever hear.

Luckily Maria, Natasha, Clint and Phil were all the latter. Sure, they played some covers to clear out the cobwebs, spent entire practices jamming to figure out how their pieces fit together. But it was easier to dive into the pile of songs and ideas and riffs and noodle around, fling bits in and out, and because they'd all come out of shitty situations they were both more and less compromising.

The first real argument they had was over who was going to sing the stuff. Because they all could, and yet—

"I am not a front woman," Maria said. "I'll sing backup, but no—that's not—no."

Clint shrugged. "Figured you'd be singing my stuff, Tasha," he said. "Sounds less fucked up coming from you than from me. You know, like that Prodigy video."

"But you have a great voice," Natasha said.

"Can't front a band from behind the kit without looking like an asshole," he replied.

"You are an asshole," Maria said.

"Not that kind of asshole. I'll do harmonies, and you get to sing about hot dudes for a while."

"Oh," Phil said, looking up. "You're gay?"

"Bi, actually," Clint said, leaning his head back against the wall and giving Phil his best "wanna make something of it?" stare.

But Phil showed no real reaction, just the slightest smile. "Me too," he replied.

Clint struggled to keep his face just as blank, though Natasha knew better. "Cool," he said.

"I think Maria's the only straight one in the band," Natasha said, "with her mystery boyfriend."

"He's not in the scene," Maria replied, "and I like to keep my lives separate."

"He ever come to one of your shows?" Clint asked.

"It's rare," she said, "but I'll let you know if he does." She was very carefully not looking at Phil and Natasha wondered if he knew, but whatever—everyone had a right to their secrets.

"Phil maybe you can sing some of Clint's songs about hot boys," Natasha said.

"I'll take a few leads if you want me to," he said, "but I think you should be fronting this band."

"Three against one!" Clint said.

"Yeah, but I'm the one!" Natasha said.

"Natasha," Phil said, "you're really the only one who can. When Bucky was still with Red Room, that was fine; you two played off each other. But after he left, everyone who watched that band was looking at you and wondering when they were going to let you near the mike."

"Which was never," Clint said.

"Exactly," Phil replied. "And that's why you need to do it now."

Natasha looked from Phil, to Maria, to Clint (the traitor), trying to think of a way out of this. Bucky had always wanted her to sing, had seen himself as handing over the reins of Red Room to her when he left, but the rest of the band only saw her as Bucky's girl and she was too confused by his sudden departure to push for it. But maybe now was the time. "Promise you'll tell me when you really want to sing something?" she asked.

"Absolutely," Maria said.

"All right," Natasha said. "Guess I'm taking one for the team."




Well, at least Pepper had been right about Steve being able to handle Tony. And about making things a little less boring. But the early days of the Avengers with Steve fell under "be careful what you wish for," because practice was … well, contentious was a nice word for it. Pepper, Bruce and Thor sat in the back and just watched Steve and Tony go at it, like they were at a tennis match.

"Okay, what part of auditioning with Zeppelin and Radiohead led you to believe that you weren't joining a rock band?" Tony asked.

"Zeppelin was your suggestion," Steve said. "I just said I'd been playing the blues."

"Wouldn't that be a natural progression? Rather than this adult contemporary boy band crap you're trying to give us?"

"Tony, you heard the songs before I joined the band."

"Yeah, well, silly me, I thought they were just demos. I didn't realize you considered them a finished product."

"I never said that."

"Well, you don't seem to want any kind of arrangement for them, any of the rest of us playing on them."

"Not the way you want to do it. You know not every song needs to have a giant guitar solo and twenty layers of keyboard loops on it, right?"

"You play the guitar like you do, and you're saying that?"

"I'm a songwriter, Tony. So are you."

"I see myself as more of a performance artist, actually. The songs are just the foundation."

"That's … really unsurprising, actually."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means that for someone so arrogant, you come across as not having enough confidence in the damn songs to let them stand on their own."

"Well, I'm sorry we can't all be authentic bluesmen sitting on a porch with nothing but a stool and an acoustic guitar."

"This isn't about authenticity, Tony, come on."

"And honestly, if you wanted to just play the songs by yourself on a guitar then why did you join a band in the first place? Tons of guys like you on every subway platform in this city."

Steve paused. "I know," he said. "I … was stubborn about it at first—"

"At first?" Tony asked.

"—but a friend, he'd been trying to convince me and, he succeeded. I just think—I hope—we can meet in the middle someplace."

"How about this," Bruce suggested, and all eyes turned to him. "How about you each take one of the other's songs, take over one practice, and work it out like you think it should be done? Then maybe we can figure out where the middle actually is? And the rest of us can help decide? It's not like we don't have a vote, too."

"Sorry, sorry," Steve said. "Of course you do. I didn't mean to imply you didn't. Or to come in here and completely upend your band."

"No, you did," Tony replied. "The second part, I mean. You did. But that's—" he stopped, and looked at Pepper. "Maybe that's good. Creativity, change and opportunity, you know, all that bullshit." He looked back at Steve. "Maybe that's good. So what will you take? I can give you the demo for whatever—"

"I have some," Steve said. "Like I said, I have a friend."

Pepper was trying not to smile, knowing that would only irritate Tony, but she was glad that someone else was interacting with him and taking up some of his relentless energy. With Rhodey gone that task had fallen to her more and more often and she wasn't his girlfriend anymore. It would be nice to get out of the Tony-wrangling business long enough to get into the fucking-someone-else business.




october

One day at practice Maria asked: "You hear that the Avengers got their guitar player?"

"Yeah, some dude from out of town," Clint said.

"Steve Rogers," Natasha said. "Bucky emailed me."

Phil sat up. "Really?" he said. "I mean, I'd heard he might be in town, but …"

"You know him?" Clint asked, the nonchalance in his tone fooling only Phil.

"Oh no, I don't know him," Phil said, fussing with his guitar.

Maria looked at him quizzically. "Anyway, they'll be at the Helicarrier on Tuesday. I saw Pepper at the Coffee Loft yesterday and she said they had a new sound."

Natasha snorted. "That would only happen if Tony wasn't in the band. And then they wouldn't be the Avengers."

"We should go," Clint said. "Check them out."

"Cool," Natasha said. "Phil?"

He gave a slightly over-exaggerated shrug. "I guess," he said. "No reason not to."

Tuesday night the Helicarrier was packed, and while the Avengers were a popular band with a solid local following, the crowd was bigger than their usual.

"Guess word got out about this new sound or whatever," Clint said. "Half the people we know are here."

Natasha looked around. At any show there were bound to be a lot of fellow musicians in the crowd; that's why they called it a scene. But tonight there weren't many non-playing scenesters, almost no "I just wanted to see a show tonight" types who'd wandered in from who knows where, and very few of the assorted friends and significant others that bulked out a crowd. Instead, the room was crowded with members from almost every band playing out in the Williamsburg and Bushwick clubs. Even the Red Room guys, who were known for never coming to anyone's shows, were glowering in a corner, half at Natasha and half, she assumed, because Steve Rogers had decided not to join them when Bucky left.

"Hey! Jane!" Maria called out, and waved her over.

Jane Foster dated Thor Odinson, the Avengers' drummer, but wasn't typical of the band girls that usually hung around the scene, not least because she'd been with Thor for approximately ever. She was cool and had her own thing going on, which meant she tended to hang around with the women musicians. But as the Red Room guys had a weird hate-on for the Avengers (that Natasha had always assumed was mostly jealousy), Natasha hadn't seen Jane or Pepper Potts all that often over the past couple of years.

Jane hugged each of them, face in a wide-eyed smile, and of course she already knew Phil because Jane knew just about everyone in the scene. "This is Darcy," she said, drawing a dark-haired girl into the circle. "She's going to be working with me at the planetarium next summer!"

Natasha introduced herself and the others. Darcy was a cutie, but a little too young for Natasha to really see as a prospect. She glanced at Clint and was amused to see a protective glint in his eye.

"I heard you guys were forming a band," Jane said. "Got a name yet?"

Natasha glanced at the others before saying, "Spies Become Soldiers seems to be the winner."

"You know, because before we were in other bands kind of undercover," Clint says, "and now we're on the front lines."

Jane nodded. "Sounds intriguing," she said.

"Good, because we're playing in ten days," Phil replied, "and we'd like people to show up."

"Hey!" said a voice from the stage, and they turned to see that the between-bands break was over, and Tony Stark was standing at the mike next to a very tall blond whose face Natasha recognized from Bucky's photos. "We're the Avengers and we are new and motherfucking improved!"

There were some shouts and claps and someone in the back called out, "Climb him like a tree, Stark!"

Stark leered—a standard pose for him—and said, "Don't think I won't!"

"Not that improved then," Maria muttered, arms crossed, and both Natasha and Jane cracked up.

"Okay, we're starting with one of Steve's songs," Stark said, and Bruce laid in a shimmering chord while Thor counted off.

But when the song kicked in—well, for one, Stark wasn't singing; new kid Steve was. Stark was playing rhythm guitar and singing backup. And the song was tighter and more melodic than the Avengers's usual art school prog-rock with metal leanings. But as Natasha listened to the lyrics she thought she recognized a story she'd heard, without much detail, from the other side, from Bucky. She'd always wondered about Steve—Bucky had never exactly called him an ex—but listening to Steve sing your hair's so long like it was years ago my fingers need it to touch you like I should have known there wasn't much doubt.

And he played a great solo, sometimes while he was singing.

The rest of the songs proceeded in the same vein, straight ahead rock but heavy-bottomed with bright filigrees of keyboard and guitar. Steve and Stark traded vocals, with many of Stark's being Avengers songs Natasha had heard before that had been rearranged into the band's new sound, and their voices blended amazingly well for only having sung together a few months. The crowd was taken aback by the change at first, but quickly got into it, such that by the end there was a great deal of hooting and hollering.

The Avengers ended the show the same way they usually did, with a scorching kiss-off of a song that Stark often blew out his voice singing, though when Natasha heard you're dying a legend darlin' and I'm dying to touch you baby she had to wonder who Stark could ever think of as a legend other than himself.

They were the last band on the bill, so everyone hung around, having another beer and gossiping. Jane brought Darcy up on the stage to see Thor, and Natasha watched, amused, as Bruce put on his glasses to look at Darcy and his eyes nearly fell out of his head.

"Young love," Maria said, sighing.

The newly minted Spies Become Soldiers stuck together in the crowd, the subject of plenty of curiosity, and Natasha hoped that at least some of that would turn into a crowd for their first show. None of them on their own were a huge draw, but they'd each been kicking around the scene for a while now and had built up some good will. Even Clint, with his sometimes dickish ways, was seen as a straight-shooter.

Stark was making the rounds, hauling Steve around like he was some kind of prize. Pepper followed them, looking amused at the show Stark was putting on, which Natasha supposed was a relatively healthy way to deal with it. She caught Natasha watching and rolled her eyes, and Natasha laughed and waved back.

So hey, that would be a benefit to leaving Red Room, getting to know Pepper Potts, who was much more her type than Darcy. Or Maria, but she had some super-secret sugar daddy of a boyfriend, anyway. Natasha had felt less interested in boys since Bucky left, but after four months she felt ready to get out there again.

The wandering Avengers made their way to Natasha, but before Stark could make his introductions Natasha said, "Hi Steve. I'm Natasha. I've heard so much about you."

His eyes flew open. "Natasha?" he said. "Wow—can I give you a hug?"

"Sure," she said, even though she wasn't really a hugger with strangers, because Steve seemed sweet and Stark was taken aback.

"Hey, what did I miss?" Stark asked.

"She used to date a friend of mine," Steve said.

"Wait a minute. Your friend is Bucky Barnes?" he asked.

"We grew up together," Steve said. "Not far from here, actually."

"Huh," Stark replied, looking slightly displeased. "Well, this is—"

"Phil," he said, leaning forward and jostling Clint in the process. "Phil Coulson, hi, nicetomeetyou." Phil seemed unusually twitchy and Natasha couldn't think why. He was even blushing—and sure, Steve was hot, but Phil had been playing his totally-obvious-to-Natasha-and-Maria crush on Clint a hell of a lot cooler than that.

Steve, to his credit, took it in stride. "Hey, nice to meet you, Phil," he said, shaking his hand, which Phil held just a beat too long.

"It's great how you play solos under your own vocals," Phil said. "Like Nat King Cole."

Steve's smile grew more genuine. "Yeah, it's a lot like that—hadn't thought of it that way. Thanks."

Phil nodded, still a little red-faced.

Clint gave him the side-eye. "Yeah. I'm Clint," he said.

"Circus, right?" Steve asked. "I saw you guys a few months ago, must have been right before you left the band. You were good but they didn't seem like nice people to be around."

"They weren't," Clint said lightly. "But thanks."

"No one has anything to say to me?" Stark asked.

"Nope," Maria said, her eyes on Steve. "Hey, I'm Maria Hill."

"Oh!" Steve said. "I've heard your name from—"

She put a finger to her lips and Steve stopped.

"Jesus, he's been in town five minutes and he knows everyone better than I do?" Stark said.

"Four months," Steve corrected.

"And you don't really pay attention to other people, Tony," Pepper said.

"I notice what matters!" Stark protested.

"Fine," Clint said. "Stark, it's cool that you guys still end with that 'Bang' song. The new version sounds good."

Stark huffed and rolled his eyes.

"What?" Clint said.

Pepper leaned forward, smiling. "That's my song," she said. "Tony just sings it better than I can."

Natasha leaned toward her. "You make him sing a fuck you song to himself?" she asked.

"You bet," she replied.

"Well done," Natasha said.

"I'm standing right here," Stark said. "And anyway, it's a really good song." He shrugged.

"Wow, you guys are so Fleetwood Mac right now," Clint said.

The four of them headed out soon after that, Phil coming along to walk Maria home before heading to his own place, which was closer to the Williamsburg clubs than the little apartment Clint and Natasha shared.

"Looks like Stark's given up trying to be the new Peter Gabriel," Maria said. "I don't think I've ever seen him just stand there and play his guitar and not climb around all over everything."

"He actually has a good voice," Natasha said. "Now that we can hear it."

"Yeah, but—okay, Phil?" Clint asked. "What the hell was that with their guitar player?" There was a little edge to his voice that Natasha found inexplicably adorable, and she bit her lip to keep from smiling.

"Oh, yeah," Phil said, turning to walk backwards and looking a little sheepish. "Um, so Steve Rogers—he was Little Stevie Rogers. You know, the blues prodigy? Played on the Grammy Awards in that tribute to BB King when he was nine? Won one when he was seventeen? And then he completely quit a year later and no one's really heard from him since?"

"Oh my god," Clint said. "You're a fan, aren't you?"

Phil shrugged. "When I said I wanted to play the guitar my parents got me one of his records. That's how I learned to play, listening to his stuff. Bought all his other CDs, saw him in concert twice. I mean, you heard tonight—he's amazing."

"He has an amazing ass, you mean," Maria said. "Seriously, how long until Stark fucks him?"

Natasha snickered. "By Christmas."

"By Thanksgiving," Clint said.

"You don't have a problem with that?" Phil asked.

"With what, people in a band fucking?" Natasha asked. "Why would we? We're all adults."

"There's bound to be drama anyway," Clint said. "Might as well get some fun out of it."

"Huh," Phil said, and stopped short.

Clint crashed into him. "What the—" he began, before Phil pulled him into a kiss.

When they pulled apart Phil asked, "Okay?"

"Um, yeah," Clint said.

"Good," he said.

Just then a car pulled up, and Steve leaned out the window. "Give anyone a ride?" he asked.

"Shouldn't you be loading out?" Natasha asked.

"Van's packed," he said. "I'm meeting them at the practice space. Got the amps in the back."

"Can you take the ladies?" Phil asked.

"Oh that's right," Maria said, "you live around the corner, don't you, Phil?"

Steve, who was perched on the open driver's side window, raised his eyebrows, and Natasha had to snicker.

"All right, c'mon Maria, let's leave them to it," Natasha said, and she and Maria climbed into the car, Maria getting into the back next to one of the amps.

Clint squatted down to look in through the window. "Thanks, man. Make sure you watch her walk in?"

"Clint!" Natasha said. "I'm not ten."

"I will," Steve said. "Have a good night, guys."

"Oh they will," Maria said as they drove away.

Steve knew where Maria lived—one of the luxury high-rises on the river—so they dropped her off first.

"So," Natasha said, "a car in the city?"

"My place is in Red Hook," he said. "It's just easier, lugging gear and all that." He paused, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, then said, "So, what did Bucky actually tell you about me?"

"Oh, that you grew up together," she said. "Though nothing about your winning a Grammy."

"I'm not surprised," Steve said. "That was a crazy time."

"And that he was with you before he came back to New York."

Steve smiled, but his eyes were sad. "Yeah, well, you know Bucky. Sometimes he has to be someplace else." He glanced at Natasha, then back at the road. "Sometimes he has to leave."

"Yeah," Natasha said. "I know."

"But I got to see him for about a month before he left Brooklyn," Steve said.

"He said he was going to try to get you to take his place in Red Room," Natasha said, "but I'm glad you didn't."

"Met up with a couple of 'em," Steve said. "Not my type at all. Glad you both got out of there."

"Thanks." She tried to think of something else to say, but then Steve was talking again.

"I also met the—well, I met who he left with," Steve said. "I dunno, it might be wishful thinking, but I got the sense that he's moving toward something this time, instead of away from something else."

Natasha saw the hope in his expression, and decided not to crush it; Clint always said she was too pessimistic, and there was no point in getting it all over everyone else. But she didn't like to lie, either. "I guess we'll see," she replied.

"Yeah. I guess we will."

Another turn and they were on her block. "Thanks for the ride, Steve. The show was really good. I think you guys are on to something."

"Yeah?" he asked. "Me too. It feels good. Can't wait for your show—next week you said?"

"Wednesday," she replied.

"I will absolutely be there." He opened his arms, and she let him give her another hug before she got out of the car.

True to his promise to Clint, he watched from the street until she got through the vestibule, waving before he drove away. As she walked up the stairs she tried to picture the Bucky she knew with someone as cornfed as Steve seemed to be (even if he did grow up in Brooklyn) and couldn't quite get there. Yet the way he described Bucky, and the way Bucky had talked about him, it was clearly the same Steve Rogers.

She realized that over the past few months, with quitting Red Room and starting a new band, that she'd been trying to forget Bucky, forget over two years of playing together, writing together, living out of each other's pockets. But after talking to Steve it all came flooding back, though with a little less pain attached. The good parts were looming larger, now, than realization that the darkness that held she and Bucky together probably wasn't the best place for both of them to live.

Well, why not take advantage of Clint's absence? Natasha pulled the vodka out of the freezer and grabbed a tumbler, setting up in the big chair near the window, which she cracked open. She turned out the lamp and settled into the chair, lighting a cigarette and pouring herself a shot. Then she looked out at the wet city lights along the approach to the Williamsburg bridge, and let herself remember.




fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you Pepper typed furiously into her phone. She was waiting for Tony—she was always waiting for Tony, actually; story of her life—so they could head over to the Helicarrier and see that new band Spies Become Soldiers. But Tony was dragging his feet a little more than usual.

A few moments later she had Rhodey's amused reply.

Stark wrangling getting you down?

I seriously hate you so much right now. Breaking up with him was supposed to mean I didn't have to do this anymore. I would love to get laid in this century.

Can't the new kid help? You said they were getting along finally

Tony listens to him about music not general behavior and called Steve a boy scout

Called? Not calls? Something stopped him?

Steve returned his eagle scout medals because homophobia so he didn't appreciate it

Tony does have a talent for picking insults that will get him kicked in the head

That's half the problem

How about just deciding that it isn't your job to keep his ass out of trouble?

Because eventually Bruce will get mad and you know what that means

Yeah broken equipment

"Who are you texting?" Tony asked.

"None of your beeswax," Pepper replied.

"Ooh, you're pissy," he said. "And probably at me—"

"Christ you are so self-centered."

"—which means you're talking to Rhodey. How is he?"

She looked up, smiling. "Relieved that he doesn't have to get you out of the house anymore."

"Ha ha," he said, and reached for his own vibrating phone. "Aww, he texted me for you. 'Be a good boy and do what Pepper says.' How sweet."

"Let's go, Tony," she said.

He sighed. "Mom, do we have to?"

"Yes. Phil is my friend and I want to see him play. The rest of the band will be there and you know how grouchy you get when things happen without you."

"Fine, fine," he said, finally motivating to get out the door. "But I'm not going to like it."

Helicarrier was moderately full, not bad for a Wednesday night. Nothing like the crowd for the Avengers' last show, but no one had actually heard Spies Become Soldiers yet, so the turn-out was more about curiosity than anything else. Steve and Thor were so tall that they were easy to spot in the crowd, and once Pepper and Tony had made their way over to them they could see Jane, Bruce and Jane's friend Darcy, who was involved in a very animated discussion with Steve.

"Oh my god, BB King? Are you serious?" she asked.

Steve shrugged, blushing and smiling sheepishly. "He was always such a nice man to me," Steve said. "He's the one who advised me to join a band. Thought I might like it better."

"Okay first, better than what," Tony said, "and second, why was BB King giving you advice?"

Darcy cocked her head. "You have heard of the Google, haven't you, Tony? Steve went on tour with BB King when he was like, seven."

"I was eight, actually," Steve said.

"I don't Google people I've actually met, Darcy; that's creepy," Tony replied. "So is that who gave you that guitar?"

"Yeah, it was a present when I—um, when I was seventeen."

"And do you like being in a band better?" Tony asked. "Than being a blues wunderkind or whatever?"

"Yeah," Steve said, a pleased, lop-sided smile on his face. "Yeah, I do."

"All right then. Darcy, leave Steve alone and pay attention to your date; he looks like a kicked puppy over there, and the first rule of being in the Avengers entourage is don't ignore Bruce."

"I thought the first rule of the Avengers was don't talk about the Avengers," Bruce said.

"Steve, you can talk to me and Pepper." Tony turned to Pepper. "Okay?"

Pepper smiled at him. "Yes, thank you."

"Great," he said, turning toward the bar. "That should buy me a few weeks."

Not long after that the band started, Natasha Romanov standing in the middle of the stage with her familiar slight scowl, looking slightly less tiny next to Phil and Maria than she had when she was on stage with those hulking Red Room guys—who, Pepper realized, were conspicuously absent, as were the other guys from Circus though she'd heard they'd broken up anyway.

"Thanks for coming out," Natasha said. "We're Spies Become Soldiers."

Clint started the song, and Pepper had forgotten, because Circus was kind of a shitty band that attracted a weird crowd, his penchant for wearing sleeveless shirts when on stage, like it was 1982 or something.

"Damn those arms," Tony said.

Natasha had never fronted a band, to Pepper's knowledge. But now that she wasn't in contrast with the sometimes absurdly aggressive posturing of Red Room, her swagger was more evident; she easily sold lines like I'm not suicidal I just can't get out of bed and I heard you fuck through the wall with just the right balance of menace and vulnerability. The band tore through their songs with a minimum of chatter; sometimes Natasha would note who in the band had written it with a quick, "This is from Maria," but otherwise they just played.

They just played, and it was more than enough when they had a series of tight songs with edges sharp enough to cut yourself on, Phil's guitar riffs and Maria's synth fills sitting next to each other easily between Natasha's vocals and Clint's drums. Maria and Clint sang back up on most of the songs, Maria looking out at the crowd with a direct, challenging stare while Clint mouthed along to the words he wasn't singing. Most importantly from Pepper's perspective, Phil actually looked like he was having fun.

And yet she couldn't take her eyes off Natasha. Sure her voice sounded great, but more than that, it was as though she was the focal point for her three companions, all of them in black. Natasha didn't play on every song; sometimes Maria played the bass line on keyboards, but even then Natasha didn't move so much as stalk the front of the stage. Her dark red hair glowed in the stage lights and by the third song she had most of the crowd in the palm of her hand and wasn't letting them go. When they finished quite a roar came up from the crowd, and Natasha smiled a little to hear it.

Apparently it wasn't just Pepper who thought Natasha was sex on legs.

"Well after that I need a damn drink," Tony said, and turned to order from the bar. "What did you think, Steve?"

"I'm impressed," he said. "To gel personally and find a sound in such a short time. There's some kinks they need to work out but a lot of potential there." He took the soda Tony handed him. "And Natasha—Bucky said to keep an eye on her, and he was right."

"Pepper?"

"I think they're going to give us a run for our money, is what I think," she said.

"I think you're both right," Tony replied. "Dammit."

Spies Become Soldiers was in the eight o'clock slot, as they were a new band, and so had to get their gear off the stage to make room for the next band. Pepper watched as they moved their things backstage, idly listening to Tony and Steve bicker over one of the new songs, a sound that had become an undifferentiated hum. Spies Become Soldiers probably would be real competition for the Avengers, but Pepper thought that was a good thing. Rhodey's departure had snapped Tony out of his complacency and Steve pushed all of them to work harder; Pepper had written more songs in the last few months than she had since she and Tony broke up.

As soon as she saw they were free, Pepper slid through the crowd to go congratulate the new band, Steve just behind her. "Phil!" she called out, and when he turned she gave him a big hug. "You were wonderful!"

"I thought it went well," he said.

"Better than that," said Clint, who'd come up behind him and slipped an arm around his waist.

"Oh, you remember Clint?" Phil asked, as if Pepper hadn't taken Phil to dinner two days before to drag the details of his new boyfriend out of him.

"Of course," she replied. "The band sounds fantastic."

"Thanks!" Clint said, grinning.

Out of the corner of her eye Pepper could see Steve, who'd been chatting with Natasha and Maria, turn toward her. "Phil Coulson," he said. "That was pretty great!"

Phil looked up, his skin flushing. "Really?" he asked.

"Definitely! You play so well with Maria—it's taken me a while to figure out how to blend with Bruce."

"Wow, well, thanks!" Phil said, and he was smiling a little, pleased.

Clint leaned into Pepper. "Hey, you should come to brunch with us Sunday. It's just us and Tasha."

"No Maria?" Pepper asked.

"I have plans," she said.

"What she means is, brunch is the price she pays for being a kept woman," Clint said, winking at her.

"Whatever, you wish," Maria replied.

Clint turned to Phil. "You know, if you want to pay my rent …"

"No, Clint," Phil said. "But Pepper, please come to brunch."

Natasha said, "Hey I invited Steve too."

"Hope that's okay," Steve said.

Tony, who was on the other side of Steve, cleared his throat and they all turned to see him staring up at the ceiling, innocently.

"Okay, you can come, Stark," Phil said, "but only if you don't behave like an ass."

"Come on, Coulson," Tony replied. "When do I do that?"

Once they were leaving the club, though, Tony was a little less cool.

"Fuck, they're good," he said.

"Really fucking good," Bruce agreed.

"Then we shall take it as a challenge!" Thor said. "Work harder, practice harder, together!"

"All right," Steve said. "What do you think, Pepper?"

"I think we've done incredibly well," she replied, "but we could do better. Let's double down, gentlemen."




december

Spies Become Soldiers and The Avengers playing on the same bill was bound to happen eventually, and Natasha couldn't fret overly much that her band had the 9pm slot and The Avengers the ten o'clock. The Avengers were an established band with a new sound; Spies Become Soldiers had only been playing out for a couple of months, however much people liked them. They were still writing songs at a rapid pace and trying them out at every show.

And hey, maybe with Steve and Pepper around Stark wouldn't even be a dick about it. He hadn't been a dick when they'd all gone out to brunch, and Natasha wasn't sure she'd ever spent two hours with the man and had him not say something unpleasant. Maybe Steve was a good influence on him. And Pepper had been able to just relax and have fun. It was a good look on her.

Then Maria wandered into practice and said, "I heard Nick Fury is going to be at our show next week."

Clint looked up. "A&R guy for SHIELD records Nick Fury?" he asked.

"He's probably coming to listen to The Avengers," Phil said. "They've got a lot of buzz right now."

"So do we," Natasha said.

"Think he'd come earlier to see us?" Clint asked.

Maria shrugged. "He might."

They all looked at each other, then Phil said, "Practice every day until the show?"

"New songs or old?" Natasha asked.

"Both," Clint said firmly, and that was that.




Pepper thought the show went better than any of them could have expected. Sure, the Avengers had been gelling in a new way lately with the addition of Steve, but there was a seriousness about all of them, and a feeling that they'd earned this unofficial audition in front of Nick Fury. She couldn't pay close attention while Spies Become Soldiers were on, as she was far too nervous about their own show, but as far as she could tell, they sounded good, too.

They didn't talk to Fury, but got an email the next day—standard operating procedure for Fury, as far as Pepper had heard—and were asked to come to his office at SHIELD records later that week. What they didn't expect, when they were ushered into a conference room, was Spies Become Soldiers sitting on the other side of the table.

"Oh," Natasha said, looking up. "Hello, Pepper."

"Hello, Natasha," Pepper said, trying to establish some civility before the inevitable Tony breakdown.

Fury came into the room then, his trademark black leather coat floating out behind him like a cape. "I see you're all punctual," he said. "Good, good." He sat down at the head of the table. "Good to see you, Steve. See you followed BB's advice."

"Yes I did, sir," Steve said. "Working out pretty well."

"Wait," Tony said, "you signed Steve?"

"Stark, how the hell old do you think I am?" he asked. "Steve was signed over fifteen years ago, when he was three or some shit."

"I was seven, actually," Steve said.

Fury shook his head. "Here's our situation: SHIELD Records is doing a showcase at South by Southwest, and after listening to you both the other night I can't decide which of you I want. So I'm sending you both out on the road in January. Six-week rust belt tour, usual clubs. We'll do the booking and you'll get a small stipend plus whatever you get from the door. I assume both bands have road-worthy vans; if not, get one. I have people throughout the region so I'll know how you're doing as you go. The tour will culminate in Austin where you will audition again for me, and I'll make my decision." He sat back in his chair.

"Seriously?" Natasha asked. "This is what you're doing? A competition? Next you'll tell me you're filming it all for a reality show."

"You either rise to the competition, Ms. Romanov, or you are flattened by it," Fury said. "Might as well learn that early. Any other questions?" He looked around the table. "Good. We'll contact you with the details." And then he swept back out of the room.

"Did that actually just happen?" Clint asked.

"I think so?" Steve said.

"No, no, no," Tony said. "No fraternizing. Do not talk to them." He got up.

"Tony," Pepper said, "I don't think we have to—"

"You?" Tony said, pointing at Spies Become Soldiers across the table. "You're going down."

"If you say so," Maria said, smirking.

"Avengers, let's go," Tony said, leading them out of the room.

Pepper stayed behind slightly, to wave at her friends and also because fuck Tony; she was an adult who did as she pleased. "Sorry," she said. "You know how he gets."

"Oh we do," Natasha said, rolling her eyes.

"Pepper!" Tony shouted. "Now!"




Natasha thought the whole thing was ridiculous; of course bands competed for slots on a bill when they played out, for attention from an audience, for a following, but the scene was cooperative in its way, too. And anyway, it was never head-to-head like this tour was going to be. She'd decided to let Stark behave like an idiot if he wanted to; that made things harder for his band, not hers.

This lasted until the second night of tour, when Stark realized that not only would they be playing eight or nine o'clock slots for the entire tour—of course they were; they were unknown bands from out of town—but that Spies Become Soldiers and The Avengers would be trading those slots back and forth. That second night, when The Avengers were to play at eight, Stark went on, but he was unfit for human companionship afterwards, throwing a shit fit of epic proportions. It was so bad that Steve and Thor hauled him out to the parking lot and forbade Bruce and Pepper to go out there—Bruce because no one wanted to see a flare up of his anger management issues, and Pepper because she'd frankly dealt with him often enough.

But Natasha was appalled, and the next day while Clint drove the van to Pittsburgh Natasha scribbled furiously into her notebook and demanded that Phil keep playing that riff he'd been dicking around with lately. By the time they'd passed Harrisburg Clint was tapping out a beat on the steering wheel that matched the sound of their wheels on the road, Maria was humming a keyboard bass line that would be just as relentless, and they had the shape of a song that Natasha was determined would be played that very night, even if it was a little rough. They got forty-five minutes in the club in the early afternoon, and by mutual agreement just ran through the new song as many times as they could, until they got it to a place where it hung together and the changes made sense.

They started their show at twenty past eight, by which around a dozen people had shown up to the club. But they were responding fairly well to the songs—the usual too-cool-for-school head-nodding and foot-tapping

At the end of their set, Natasha said, "This is our last song. It's a new one, so you guys are hearing it for the first time." And hey, there was some clapping at that, so they'd at least gotten the small crowd's attention.

The Avengers were standing at the back of the room, but to look at Stark while she sang it would be a little too direct even for her, so instead she looked at Pepper.

Really, any excuse to look at Pepper.

Natasha dropped her bass behind her back—she was just singing this one, but she wasn't going to move an inch, just planted her feet on the center of the stage. Phil started them off with that driving riff of his, and then it was just Maria and Clint's rhythm as Natasha sang all the gold and the guns and the girls couldn't get you off, all the boys, all the choices in the world. Then Phil's guitar came back in the chorus over I remember when you were gambling to win. She and Maria dropped out so it was just Clint and Phil, then kicked into the second verse, Maria and Clint singing back up—all the toys and the tools in the box. After the second chorus they dropped back to just Clint's drums again, and then built up layer by layer—not just the instruments, but the vocal parts, too, Clint singing more and more, more and more while Maria sang the oooh-ooh vocal hook and finally Natasha on top with is it ever gonna be enough?. Then everything dropped but Phil and Natasha, one last "ooh" before Natasha ended the song.

Pepper, to her credit, maintained eye contact with Natasha even though she knew full well who Natasha was singing about. But then, she made Tony sing her own song about what a shit he was, so Natasha didn't think she'd really mind if Spies Become Soldiers did it too. Anyway the crowd liked it, more than any other song they'd done that night, and since it was clearly a keeper The Avengers would just have to get used to it.

Natasha didn't feel particularly awkward, walking past the other band as they cleared the stage for them, and while the others seemed a little cold—Steve was scowling which, honestly, he had to deal with Stark on a daily basis, so she didn't get the attitude—Pepper was smiling slightly.

Stark himself, on the other hand, was stoic. He stared at her for a moment, his eyes almost black, and then said, "Good song. You should hold on to it."

"I intend to," she said, and that was that.




Until the Avengers covered "The Bitch Is Back" at the Cleveland show.

And Spies Become Soldiers covered "Barracuda" at the Detroit show.

And the Avengers covered "Killer Queen" at the Cincinnati show.

And Spies Become Soldiers covered "I'm Looking Through You" at the Indianapolis show.

By then relations between the bands were very chilly indeed.




They had a day off coming up in Chicago, and SHIELD had arranged for a secure spot to stow all their gear. But tonight, post-show in Indianapolis, it was Pepper's turn to sit with the van. Not that she didn't need a bit of a break from her bandmates, but however comfortable the seats were (Tony had made sure of that) spending the night in a van in a motel parking lot was kinda lonely.

Pepper looked up, and saw Natasha slip out the door of the room and lean back against the wall, lighting up a cigarette. She was wearing black jeans, a white t-shirt, a leather jacket and some boots, and she could have been Chrissie Hynde or Shirley Manson. However long Pepper had been playing out in bands, she always felt a little bit like a fraud, as though everyone could see the prep school girl she'd once been.

Though to be fair, even in prep school she was sneaking out at night to concerts and rock shows.

She hesitated, wondering if Natasha just wanted to be alone, but then the other woman looked over at the van and didn't turn away, so Pepper rolled down the window and leaned out. "Warm in here," she said.

"Sure you want me in your van?" Natasha asked.

"Wouldn't ask if I didn't," Pepper replied, pulling herself out to sit on the open window ledge.

"Sure the rest of your band wants me in your van?"

Pepper shrugged. "They're not out here and I am."

Natasha seemed to consider that, then held up a hand. "Just a sec," she said, putting out her cigarette and ducking back into her motel room. Moments later she emerged with a bottle and two cups in her hand, and climbed into the van.

"Hey, you brought refreshments," Pepper said, regarding the bottle of vodka.

"Hostess gift," Natasha said, folding herself up in the chair and leaning back against the door. In the big seat she looked even tinier; Pepper was amazed that she was able to create such presence on stage.

"So, getting sick of your band?" Pepper asked with a little smile.

"Maria's in the van tonight," Natasha said, "and of course Phil and Clint really want to be fucking, not sitting there staring at me. Guess that's a problem you don't have, unless—are they fucking yet?"

Pepper rolled her eyes. "No!" she replied.

"Seriously?" Natasha said. "Doesn't Stark usually move a lot faster than that?"

"Only when he doesn't care, actually," Pepper said. "Took him five months to ask me out."

"So you're saying he cares about Steve, then."

"He does care about some things, you know," Pepper said. "He just hides it well."

Natasha sighed. "Sorry," she said. "Of course he does. Of course he does." She opened the vodka. "Look, I didn't mean to start a whole thing with that song," she went on, pouring a drink for each of them.

"It's a good song," Pepper said. "And sometimes he's out of line. Nothing wrong with noticing that."

"Maybe not," Natasha said, nodding. "But I'm glad, what you said about Steve. He's a good guy."

"He is, isn't he?" Pepper said. "Like, actually a good person. Not many of those playing out in rock bands."

"Heaven knows I'm not one of them," Natasha said.

"It's overrated," Pepper said. "They all think we're bitches anyway."

Natasha looked at Pepper for a moment, then laughed. "Oh my god, they do," she said. "Clint says that's why he likes me, but Clint's kind of a dick."

"Eh, so's half my band," Pepper said, shrugging.

They were silent for a little bit then, drinking and listening to Janelle Monae singing being alone's the only way to be.

Then Pepper, trying to be casual, asked: "So why aren't you just hanging out with Maria in the van?"

"Because she's having special alone time with her boyfriend on the phone," Natasha replied.

"In the van?" Pepper asked.

"Clint and Phil always take their turns together and fuck in there," Natasha said, shrugging. "I mean, they air it out, pretty much? But there's a lot of sexy times happening in that van, actually."

"I'm torn between thinking that the boys must be masturbating in here," Pepper said, "and thinking that there's no way they'd even think to get rid of the smell."

"I don't see any tissues," Natasha said, looking around. "But it's entirely possible that we're the only ones not getting off in the vans."

"Well, that's hardly fair," Pepper said, frowning.

Natasha threw back the rest of her vodka and in one fluid movement pulled herself out of her seat and into Pepper's, straddling her in the chair. "No, it isn't," she said.

Pepper, startled, put her hands on Natasha's waist. "Is this—are we doing this now?" she asked.

"Isn't this why you invited me into the van?" Natasha asked, leaning over Pepper so her hair hung like a curtain on either side of her face. "And can you think of a single reason why we shouldn't?

"No," Pepper said, smiling.

Natasha smiled, too, and shook her head. "No," she said, and then they were kissing, slow and wet and easy, because seriously there was no rush. Natasha's lips were plush against Pepper's, her waist tiny under Pepper's hands as they shifted so that Natasha sat more fully on Pepper's lap.

"You have the most beautiful neck," Natasha muttered, and started to kiss her way down it, wriggling against Pepper in the most delicious way.

Pepper cleared her throat. "There's a sort of cushiony thing in the back," she said.

Natasha chuckled. "Of course there is."




By the time the boys emerged from their rooms in the morning, Pepper and Natasha had already gone to get everyone coffee and donuts and were sitting on the hood of the van with the also-awake Maria.

"Should have known you'd consort with the enemy, Pepper," Tony said. "I'm wounded, really I am."

"I got you a chocolate glazed," Pepper replied.

"Are you bribing me?" he asked.

"Maybe," she said.

Bruce took the cinnamon sugar. "When's the 'can't we all just get along' speech?"

Natasha shrugged. "You're adults. I say, fuck Fury and his stupid fucking competition. This isn't a reality show. We're on tour together. No reason we can't help each other. If Fury needs to choose, that's his deal, not ours."

"I agree," Thor said. "Why should we reduce our strength through petty bickering when we can increase it through cooperation? I would imagine that we have many things to learn from each other if given the chance."

Natasha turned to Clint, who shrugged. "I don't think I have too many 'fuck you' covers left in me anyway," he said. "Gets kinda boring at some point. Besides, Phil's friends with Pepper so he's been all sad about it."

"Well, Tony?" Pepper said.

He was still looking at Natasha. "You started it," he said.

She rolled her eyes. "Which means I can end it," she replied.

Steve snickered. "She's got you there," he said, which earned him a glare from Tony. "Just take the donut."

Tony sighed, but did as he was told. "Don't think I don't realize you're saying this now because you two are fucking," he said.

Pepper wanted to say it was none of his business but really, who was she kidding? "Whatever, Tony," she replied, putting her hand on Natasha's nearby ankle. "Not all of us think with our dicks."




The truce made Chicago infinitely more pleasant. They parked their equipment-laden vans in the garage at the offices of SHIELD's parent company, one of those anonymous media conglomerates, and then they scattered to the winds. Maria was of course immediately off to a rendezvous with her man, and Steve, who'd gone to college in Chicago, was commandeered by Tony to give him some kind of grand tour before meeting up with Thor and Bruce at a hockey game that evening. Pepper, Natasha, Clint and Phil grabbed a late lunch, and it was fun to see how well the four of them just fit together, even if Pepper and Clint weren't exactly sure what to make of each other quite yet.

Then Pepper said, "How strongly do you feel about boots?"

Natasha raised her eyebrows. "Very strongly," she said, and before she knew it they were spending the rest of the afternoon shopping. That had never before been a favorite activity of Natasha's—more an occasional necessity—but Pepper was ruthless, efficient, and frighteningly good at zeroing in on the one thing in any store that was both cool and cheap. Shopping was clearly Pepper's superpower, and watching her in action turned Natasha on, to be honest. Sure, the thing with Pepper wasn't even twenty-four hours old, but it was all Natasha could do to keep her hands to herself on the L ride back to the hotel.

Unfortunately, Clint and Phil had gotten to the room first, and were definitely in flagrante delicto when the ladies walked into the room.

Phil was unflappable as usual, and Clint merely sat up. "You know, Tasha," Clint said, "we share an apartment. There's nothing you haven't seen, nothing I haven't seen—or heard, as you well know. Phil and Pepper know each other, we've all watched porn, let's just share the room and get our thing on. Also, shopping? That's your aphrodisiac?"

"I've been shopping with Pepper," Phil said. "She's amazing. It's very sexy."

"Huh," Clint said. "Hey are those new boots?"

"Yes, and I'll model them for you later," Natasha said, then turned to Pepper.

"So that line about hearing you fuck through the wall?" Pepper asked.

"Me and Bucky, yeah," she replied. "That's Clint's song."

Pepper looked at Clint and Phil, who smiled at her, and then back to Natasha. "The heck with it," she said, throwing her bags down on the floor and unbuttoning her coat. "It's a bed. I've had sex in rougher places."

"Really?" Clint asked.

"Clint," Phil said sharply.

"Sorry, babe," Clint said, and returned his attentions to his boyfriend.

"Need some help taking those things off?" Pepper asked.

Natasha turned to her, blinking, to see that she'd gotten down to her underclothes in remarkably little time. "No," she said, "but I'll take it."




They got a little more time in the space the next day—a proper practice session for each band—and by unspoken agreement they all sat in to listen to each other's newer songs.

Steve couldn't quite make eye contact with any of them when he said "Yeah, this is called 'Can't Steal Your Heart Away,'" and it sounded like him, with a verse where he was playing lead guitar fills under his vocal, which turned more emotional in the chorus, not unlike his song about Bucky.

But this song was definitely not about Bucky, not with lines like said I wasn't lonely in your pretty world. Tony, for his part, stood there stone faced, dutifully playing rhythm and singing backup. How could he not know, or even pretend to not know, when he'd been so quick to pin down Natasha's song?

And then they played Tony's song Surrender and it got worse—you got me where you want me come and get me? The whole thing was absurd.

Maria leaned over. "Do they know they're doing this?"

"Purposeful blindness, " Natasha whispered back.

When the songs were done, Steve asked, "So what do you think?"

Natasha blinked.

Clint could always be counted on to have something to say, though. "So that thing where Pepper is doubling Tony's lead an octave up? You could do more of that on Steve's stuff. It's a cool sound."

"Yeah, okay," Steve said.

"And Tony, man, you're singing about surrender but I'm not really feeling it. Steve's got his heart on his sleeve all the time. And you don't seem to have a problem screaming your way through 'Bang'."

"That's Pepper's song." Tony said, shifting his feet slightly.

"So?" Clint said. "Do it on your own song, man. "

"I'll take that under advisement," he said. "Anything else?"

Phil cleared his throat. "It might be easier, Steve," he said, "if you kept your vocals clean, played your fills as real fills, you know, when you're not singing?"

Tony nodded. "It's his way of pushing his vocal down into the mix," he said, shaking his head.

"I dunno," Steve said, shaking his head. "Tony said that too, but I feel funny with my singing just … out there."

"Too bad," Phil said. "You're singing lead. You don't have any trouble playing solos on Tony's songs."

"True," Steve said. "I'll um, yeah, I'll work that out."

"Your turn!" Tony said.

And after they'd switched out gear, gotten into position, Natasha said, "Well, we're having a lot of trouble arranging this one. Clint wrote it on the piano and we're not really sure when it should kick in, but, we can start it anyway."

Maria started the chords, Phil joining in, and Natasha sang: I'm just as fucked up as they say, I can't fake the daytime, I found an entrance to escape into the dark. In the second part of the verse the vocal went up and Clint started playing—

"No, no," Bruce said, waving his hands. "Not yet."

"It's not boring?" Maria asked.

"It's atmosphere, man," Tony said. "Keep it going."

"Okay," Natasha said, and they started again, holding Clint back until after the first part of the vocal, when Phil switched from sustained chords to the riff he'd contributed.

"That's it," Bruce said. "Totally then."

They played "Gold, Guns, Girls" after that.

Tony said, "Yeah, you shouldn't change a damn thing." Then he grinned. "I should get more girls mad at me. Makes 'em write damn good songs."

Steve shook his head. "I really don't think that's a method we should be pursuing."




After the Chicago show they got an email from Fury, who'd apparently been at the back of the room or something and had seen them play. His notes were brief, specific but encouraging, and had more to do with stagecraft than the songs themselves. He also told them he'd get them some money to get some new clothes on their next day off in St. Louis, because in his words "everyone who isn't Pepper or Natasha basically looks like shit."

Pepper only allowed herself to preen for a few minutes before promising to take everyone else shopping, too.

They were only halfway through the tour at this point, cities and highways blending into each other. But it was less grueling now that they were all riding in each other's vans and mixing up the conversations. Like instrumentalists tended to cluster together. Everyone initially worried that Thor and Clint could only give each other destructive ideas but they seemed to spend most of their time talking about session drummers from the 60s after Clint, listening to Thor praising John Bonham, introduced him to something called the "Purdie Shuffle." Maria and Bruce were bonding over programming and loops and how to get the best piano sound. Pepper could tell that Phil was in heaven, sitting around jamming with Steve—though the admiration went both ways, now, and Phil even got a song out of a long conversation they had about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Tony bounced around all the groups, given that he could play all their instruments backwards and forwards pretty much, though he mostly liked teasing Pepper and Natasha about their love for Tina Weymouth and Aimee Mann.

Or other times, Clint and Tony talked vocal arrangements, and Steve and Natasha harmonized together just because they could and rarely got a chance to, playing acoustic guitars in the back of the van. Maria and Thor had conversations no one else could follow about Norse mythology, and Bruce, Pepper and Phil started an ongoing cutthroat travel Scrabble tournament that no one else wanted to get anywhere near.

And Pepper and Natasha spent most of their nights together, either watching over one of the vans or continuing their sharing-the-room arrangement with Clint and Phil. Admittedly, fucking in the same room was a little weird, though when Maria found out about it she declared that it shouldn't be different for her, and started having her special alone time phone calls with her secret boyfriend in the room as well as in the van. And those phone calls—Natasha hadn't realized how many topics could be raised during phone sex, nor that Maria considered four the absolute minimum number of vibrators to bring on tour.

"So now the four of us know exactly what kind of sex everyone else is having," Phil said.

"Maybe it will bring us closer together as a band," Natasha said.

"Hearing about all that monkey sex you've been having with that man of yours is certainly enhancing my life," Clint replied.

"What can I say?" Maria said. "He really likes being fucked in the mouth with a strap-on."

"Wow," Natasha said. "Can't wait to meet this guy."

Mostly, though, Natasha and Pepper kept things fairly low-key. Not difficult, as they both were practical ladies, and had a job to do every night. The Avengers were working almost seamlessly by this point, the songs getting tighter with every show, and with everyone in both bands getting along so well—and having plenty of other outlets for when they inevitably got on each other's nerves—there was really only one source of tension, other than just the tedium of touring.

They were in Oklahoma City, Pepper and Natasha making out in the Spies Become Soldiers van, when Steve knocked on the window.

"Can I come in?" he asked. "Bruce and Thor are drunk and crying about their girlfriends again."

"In the room?" Natasha asked.

"No, in the other van," Pepper replied. To Steve, she said, "So go in the room with Tony."

"I dunno," he said, looking away. "Since you two have been, you know, it's just been kinda awkward when it's just the two of us."

"Are you kidding me?" Natasha asked, crawling over Pepper to lean out the window next to her. "He wrote an entire song where he says 'I surrender come and get me.' Maybe you should go get him."

"Really?" Steve said. "You think that song's about me?"

Natasha huffed, rolling her eyes and slouching back down in her own seat. "I swear to god, I'm am going to get out of this van—"

Pepper placed a hand on Natasha's arm. "Steve, we all know that you wrote 'Can't Steal Your Heart Away' about Tony, and we all know that Tony wrote 'Surrender' about you. But Tony gets scared when he really cares about someone. So you'll have to make the first move, which means you have about thirty seconds to march up to that room before Natasha pulls you up there herself, and believe me when I say: Tony will never let you live that down."

Steve looked over at Natasha, who was all but vibrating, then back at Pepper. "I guess I should go talk to Tony."

"That's the right answer," Pepper said, nodding, and rolled the window back up.

"So, where were we?" Natasha asked.

The next morning they were woken by banging on the door. Pepper popped her head up and saw Tony, grinning like an idiot, and opened the door.

"I'm taking everyone out for waffles!" he shouted. "Ain't it a great morning?"

Pepper turned to Natasha, who was rubbing her eyes. "Well," Natasha said, "I guess that happened."




march

They arrived in Austin a day before they needed to play for Fury, another blessed day off. Jane and Darcy were at the hotel waiting for them, holding up a banner to welcome both bands, and they stumbled out exhausted and thankful that the tour was basically over and once again they could leave their gear in a location secured by SHIELD. And they took full advantage, scattering around the city and not coming back to the hotel until quite late.

Pepper was woken the next morning by Maria, who walked into the hotel room with a cart full of food.

"Guess SHIELD wants us well-fed," she said, lifting one of the metal covers. "There's another cart down the hall in front of your room, Pepper."

And Pepper could take that hint, that it was band time now. She threw her clothes back on after a quick kiss from Natasha.

"Hey," Clint said, "at least when you go down the hall you can kick out some girlfriends yourself. Circle of life and stuff."

"Yeah," she said, and smiled, even though she didn't feel like smiling. The two bands had become so intertwined in the past few weeks that this reminder of what they needed to do today—to return to the competition that Fury had set up for them in the first place—was jarring.

She couldn't shake that feeling of being generally unsettled. The Avengers ate breakfast and talked about their set list, but it was strange for all five of them to be in the van together with no one else. Steve drove, and everyone was quiet, wrapped in their own thoughts. They got to the small club and loaded in, Spies Become Soldiers following shortly after, and then waited for Fury to arrive.

Pepper wasn't expecting him to come alone.

"Well," he said, looking at them, "you seem to be getting along better than you were the last time we met."

"We all decided," Pepper said, "that cooperation was better than competition at making us better bands."

"Huh," Fury said, sitting down. "Well, get on with it. The Avengers first."

And so they did, and being on stage was the only time all day that Pepper felt her focus return. They whipped through their forty-five minute set like it was just another show on tour, not a bit of nerves, no dumb mistakes, The Avengers as well-oiled machine. Steve sang about Bucky and Tony; Tony sang about Steve and himself and maybe a few other people. And Spies Became Soldiers stood in the back, nodding and tapping their feet and applauding every tune they played. The bands switched places and it was Pepper's turn to watch the other band play songs that were almost as familiar to Pepper now as her own. And they were just as on top of their game as The Avengers had been; Pepper had no idea how Fury was going to make this decision.

When Spies Become Soldiers finished, The Avengers sat down on the edge of the stage, facing Fury, and awaited his pronouncement. He didn't hesitate.

"Competition or no, both of you have certainly improved," he said, standing and pacing back and forth in front of them. "I dropped in a few times while you were out on tour, and I was impressed with your progress—and the new songs you wrote out on the road, which can keep this momentum going." He stopped moving and turned to look at them. "Good thing, because you'll both be playing tomorrow night and I do not want to be embarrassed."

Pepper looked over at Natasha, who seemed as shocked as she was.

"Let me understand," Tony said. "There's room in the showcase for both bands?"

Fury shrugged. "Always was. Wanted to keep my options open but I sent you out on the road hoping that I'd have two good bands coming to see me here in Austin. But I got two better bands."

Pepper heard a shout and turned to see that Maria, who'd been standing next to Clint behind the drum kit, was climbing up onto the bass drum. She then launched herself off the kit and through the air, over their heads, screaming as she hit Fury in the chest and knocked him down to the ground.

"What the hell, woman?" Fury said, struggling to get up.

But Maria had him pinned, her knees over his legs and her hands holding his arms down. "I can't believe you," she said. "Instead of, I don't know, being a normal person and just sending us out onto the road without all this competition bullshit hanging over our heads, no! No, let's make the bands fight each other for no reason! Maybe just so we can keep a secret from them, because secrets are great, right? They really foster trust and healthy relationships with the people around us!"

"Oh my god," Natasha said. "Oh my god, Maria, your secret boyfriend is Nick Fury?"

"Not secret anymore," Maria said, growling. "Maybe not boyfriend, either."

"You had all that crazy sex with him?" Clint asked.

Fury stopped moving. "What the fuck did you tell them?"

"Oh like you didn't know that there were other people in the room when we were on the phone," she said. "I'm in a band and we were on tour. Where did you think I was going to get privacy?"

"All right," Steve said, and plucked Maria off of Fury like she weighed nothing. "You two can have that conversation later."

"So, just so we're clear," Tony said, as Fury stood up, "we're both playing tomorrow night?"

"That's what I said, Stark," Fury replied.

"Okay, so I know we don't have a whole lot of leverage here," Tony continued, "but if we could stop with the lying, that would be good."

Fury glared at them all, his hands on his hips, then sighed. "Play tomorrow night," he said. "In two weeks, be ready to go into the studio. We'll sign the deal when you get back to the city."

"That's … acceptable," Tony said.

"I'm so glad you approve," Fury replied. Then his voice softened. "Maria, dinner?"

She nodded.

"Good." He turned and walked out of the room, his leather coat sweeping out behind him, but just as he reached the door he turned back. He wagged a finger at them. "Don't fuck it up," he said, and then he was gone.

"Wow," Tony said. "Who knew he would get all Ru Paul at the end?"

"We did," Clint replied.




Natasha would have thought that the showcase would be anticlimactic, after the tour and the audition and having the record deal in their hands. But what actually happened is that they were able to let go of everything, and the showcase went better than even the best shows they'd had on tour. The Avengers played first, followed by Spies Become Soldiers, and then SHIELD had a party for them and a couple of other bands that would be playing later in the festival. It was fun to mix it up a little, see people that weren't in the Williamsburg scene, and particularly fun to do it all while holding hands with Pepper.

Then she turned around and saw a familiar face. But before she could say anything, she heard Pepper talking.

"Rhodey?" she asked.

And yes, that was Pepper's old bandmate Rhodey, standing there hand in hand with Bucky Barnes.

"Hey, Natasha," Bucky said. "Band sounds great. You should be proud."

"I am," she said. "We all are."

"I'm—well, I'm glad you got out," he said.

"It was really Clint's idea," she replied. "And to bring in Maria. So if the band's anyone's baby, it's his."

Bucky nodded. "If I'd known—if either of us had known that Tony and Steve could stand to be in the same room together for longer than ten minutes we would have just suggested that in the first place."

"Oil and water," Rhodey said, shaking his head. "I thought they'd tear the band apart."

"They sort of do, sometimes," Pepper replied. "But it works."

"Works really well," Rhodey agreed. "And you're permanently off Tony duty?"

"Yeah," Pepper said, looking across the room at where Tony stood with Steve. "He takes reasonably good care of himself these days. And what about you two?"

"Well, school, you know," Rhodey replied. "But I've been writing a little lately, with this guy here."

"Oh really?" Pepper said, smirking a little.

"Yeah, I've been playing out," Bucky said. "Just me and a piano; I think I'm not a band guy after all. Old songs, some new ones. Nicer songs now, like you, Natasha. Love songs, even."

"Love songs?" Natasha asked, her eyebrows raised. "Didn't you say love is for children?"

Bucky wagged a finger. "No, that was you!" he said, and she laughed, because she could.

"Well," Rhodey said, "we probably should go talk to Tony and Steve. But we'll see you later?"

"Definitely," Pepper said. Then, once they'd walked away, she turned to Natasha. "Okay?"

"Sure," Natasha said. "Actually it wasn't as weird as I thought it was going to be, huh. Just hella awkward, to be standing here with my new girlfriend talking to my ex and his new boyfriend who's my girlfriend's friend." She paused. "You were just friends, weren't you?"

"Well, there was that one night," Pepper said. "Or more like three nights. But that was all."

"Oh my god," Natasha said, thumping her head into Pepper's shoulder. "We need to meet other people."

"Never!" said Clint, who'd walked up behind her. "We have enough new people."

"You would say that," Natasha said.

"So hey, are you all right?" he asked. "Bucky, I mean."

She waved a hand. "I'm fine," she said. "Why?"

"Well, Thor thinks it's time to do shots," Clint said, "and I kinda agree."

She cocked her head. "Did you bet him that I could drink him under the table?" she asked.

"The bet's with Tony but you know it's five hundred bucks easy money."

She glanced at Pepper, who threw up her hands and said, "I'm out. No bet from me."

"C'mon, Tash," Clint said. "Let's do this."

She remembered the last time he'd said that to her, in their kitchen, about this band they were in. Maybe it was that, or maybe she just liked saying yes to things these days. She squeezed Pepper's hand a little tighter.

"Why not?" she said.

The night after that was a blur. It took a little more vodka than Natasha usually drank in one sitting to get Thor to topple, but topple he did, like a tree, Jane taking pictures the entire time. Not that he was out for long, just long enough for referee Steve to declare Natasha's victory. Tony handed over the money without too much petulance, though Natasha thought that was probably because both Rhodey and Pepper were giving him the stink eye.

She remembered wobbling into the back hall at one point, searching for a bathroom, and seeing Bruce fucking Darcy on top of a Fantastic Four pinball machine, and Pepper laughing and saying, "How very Desperately Seeking Susan of you."

Bruce grinned, a little sheepish, and Darcy shouted, "All fucking right I'm so Madonna right now!"

"You know that movie?" Bruce asked her.

"Cable, and how about kissing me again?" she demanded.

At some other point the DJ played a sexy Jill Scott song and Natasha and Bucky danced up on Steve, much to Tony's amusement. The DJ responded to that with a bunch of other made-for-fucking R&B songs and it quickly became a preview of the Spies Become Soldiers-Avengers orgy they hadn't quite had on the road. Even Nick Fury was on the dance floor with them at some point, Natasha was pretty sure. (Later Pepper said she wouldn't be surprised if Tony sent out formal invitations and filled his place with cushions, pillows, and bowls full of condoms, dental dams, and single-use packets of lube. The specificity of this description made Natasha wonder if he'd done this before, but she decided there were some things she didn't actually want to know.)

And then at the end of the night, when they'd somehow got back to their hotel rooms, she and Clint and Steve and Phil and Tony and Pepper were laying around, leaning up against each other, not quite ready to go to sleep and declare the day over, and Clint said, "Did that really just happen? Did we start a band and get signed?"

"Yep," Natasha said.

"And start fucking people we didn't even really know a year ago?" Tony asked.

"Pretty much," Phil said.

"And make new friends and change our lives?" Steve asked.

"That happened too," Pepper said.

"Wow," Clint said. "That's a lot. I'm going to need a nap after this."

"When we get back to Brooklyn I'm going to sleep for a week," Phil said. "Maybe more."

"Can we get barbecue tomorrow?" Tony asked. "I hear it comes with pickles and white bread."

"Yes please," Pepper said.

"Can we get everyone into a bed before they fall asleep?" Steve asked.

"Sounds like a plan," Natasha said, and she wasn't awake for anything that happened after that.

But someone must have moved her, because she woke up on a bed cuddled next to Pepper, and only a little hungover.

"Hey," Pepper said. "Ready for the next thing?"

Natasha wasn't sure if she meant just barbecue or all of it, but decided it didn't matter; her answer was the same. "More than ready," she said, and smiled.




Musical end notes:
All Avengers songs are by Empires. All Spies Become Soldiers songs are by Metric.
Phil's old band covers "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince.
Steve auditions with "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin and "Paranoid Android" by Radiohead.
At the first Avengers show, Steve sings "Anywhere" and Tony sings "Bang."
At the first Spies Become Soldiers show, they play "Satellite Mind" which Clint wrote that refers to Natasha dating Bucky.
Natasha writes "Gold Guns Girls" about Tony being a jerk.
In the van, Pepper and Natasha are listening to "Cold War" by Janelle Monáe.
Steve writes "Can't Steal Your Heart Away" about Tony.
Tony writes "Surrender" about Steve.
Spies Become Soldiers play "Artificial Nocturne" for Avengers to get their notes.
Phil writes "Gimme Sympathy" after talking to Steve about the Beatles and the Stones.
At the post-showcase party, they dance to "The Real Thing" by Jill Scott.
Page generated Aug. 17th, 2017 06:04 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios