Steve's ideas for team bonding activities range the gamut from "Yes, it's cheesy, but please stifle your giggles so you don't hurt the Super Soldier's feelings" to "Did you know the President is now trying to get a law passed to keep you from doing that ever again?" To be fair, his ideas would probably go over better if his teammates were more normal, but it doesn't change the fact that whenever he tries to strengthen the bond between all of them, things tend to explode and people get hurt. It is a rare occasion when only one of those things happens. It's rarer still that neither of them happen.
Right now, things are hovering dangerously at that point between "Okay that was actually a good idea, let's do it again," and the usual sort of disaster that happens when you put a group of bored superheroes together.
It had started as a getting to know you game. Well, a getting to know you and drinking game. It had devolved to Tony staring incredulously and waving his drink around.
"Wait, wait, wait...what do you mean you've never done an Easter egg hunt?"
Thor frowns. "In Asgard--"
"Yeah, yeah. That's nice. We get it, you're an alien god. I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to him." Tony's drink sloshes and threatens to spill over as he waves his arm roughly in Clint's direction. "You are not an alien god. How is it possible you've never been on an Easter egg hunt?"
Clint shrugs. "Guess it was never at the top of my childhood priority list. Better things to do."
"There is nothing better than an Easter egg hunt--"
"Tony," Steve warns, hoping to avoid the inevitable and looming disaster. Tony, of course, ignores him.
"That's it, I'm throwing you an Easter egg hunting party. Pepper--"
"I have more important things to do than plan egg hunts, Tony."
"Like running your company. Speaking of which, I have to go."
"Oh come on, Pep." Tony reaches out and attempts to grab her as she walks by. "We're bonding!"
"Good bye, Tony." She smiles at Steve. "Good bye Cap, everyone."
"Pepper come back. We have to plan an egg hunt!"
Clint slouches into the couch. "I don't even want an egg hunt. It sounds stupid. That's kid stuff."
"Shut up Clint, it's a rite of passage. I'm throwing you an egg hunt."
"Tony, he doesn't want to do it--"
"Clint," Tony says, taking the other man's face in his hands, "I want to do this for you. Let me do this for you. I feel as if it is my personal responsibility to see to your upbringing." Clint bats his hands away.
"I'm an adult, Stark. There is no upbringing for you to see to."
Bruce leans over to pat Clint on his shoulder. "It might be easier for you to just give in and let him get it out of his system."
"I too, would like to experience a hunt for the eggs of Easter! Surely it will bring us much honor when we are succcessful in our quest, Hawkeye."
"See? Thor wants to do it. That means it has to be a good idea. We're going to have an Easter egg hunt in honor of your deprived childhood and in the name of good diplomacy. Thor, you're in charge of the eggs. I'll bring the drinks."
Of course, the chances that an egg hunt that hasn't quite been planned by Tony Stark would go any more smoothly than Steve's attempts at forging the bonds of brotherhood are basically negligible.
Several things happen, and in Tony's defense no one in their right mind would consider any of them as things that could realistically happen.
(Apparently Tony never received the memo that state that when you are on a superhero team with Norse god and a 90+ year-old super soldier and your heart is literally a generator you should probably stop thinking realistically and move toward the more fantastical spectrum of thinking.)
The first thing that happens is that Fury gets extraordinarily angry. None of them are sure if it's because they're having an Easter egg hunt or if it's because they didn't invite him, but once he discovers it he teams up with Natasha and Clint. Clint still doesn't care about finding eggs, but Natasha and Fury become some sort of frightening comptetitve egg hunting machine.
The second thing that happens is that every non-Avengers (plus Fury) person in the immediate area realizes that it was probably not a good idea to allow a bunch of superheroes to play children's games.
There is a surprisingly large amount of destruction. (Actually, no. It's not surprising at all.)
And then Loki shows up, apparently invited by Thor and he transforms a chocolate bunny into a giant, sentient rampaging chocolate bunny.
Luckily, it's a hot day. The bunny does not take long to subdue. It takes much longer to clean the melted, chocolatey mess left in its wake.
They're tallying up the number of eggs they've each managed to find when the fourth thing happens.
(For the record: Steve and Thor each have two, Clint has one, and the frightening Fury-Natasha team has twenty-four. Bruce refused to play, but found one as he was trying to escape Tony and return to his lab. Tony has none, but he was supervising the hunt.
That is to say, he spent the entire time sitting on a chair and drinking while criticizing everyone else.)
Natasha is sitting next to Fury, curled around and polishing what can only be referred to as their horde when Tony shrieks.
(He will insist later that it was a manly yell.)
"The egg moved!"
"Ah, my friends! It appears this is a most joyous occasion! We have partaken in a most arousing hunt and now we will experience the coming of new life into this world!"
Everyone looks at Thor.
Finally, Steve asks what everyone else is afraid to.
"Thor, where did you get these eggs?"
"When the Man of Iron tasked me with finding eggs for this momentous day, I took the quest quite seriously. After journeying for a day, I found a small lake with many a waterfowl nested. The beasts themselves were small, but hardy, and it is from there that I harvested the eggs for our hunt today."
"Wait, so you're saying these eggs are...um...fertilized?"
In answer to Clint's question, an egg cracks open.
Fury immediately divorces himself from the entire event and summons Coulson to deal with the hatching eggs. In short order, he manages to scrape together enough supplies to create a makeshift nesting area in Coulson's office and everyone surrenders their eggs. Thor is forbidden from fetching eggs from anywhere that isn't a grocery store and Tony is banned from celebrating holidays.
They stand around, waiting for the eggs to hatch.
Eventually Coulson chases them out with threats of paperwork.
And then the city gets attacked by giant robots.
By the time they return Coulson's office is empty and the eggs are missing. Sitwell tells them that they're too late, and the eggs are gone. They spend the next several moments standing awkwardly in the doorway to Coulson's office, unsure of what to do because the sudden loss of eggs is nothing like what they were ever trained for.
And then a lone quack sounds from around the corner.
They run toward the sound not unlike a herd of children toward Disneyland--
--only to be confronted with the sight of Coulson, surrounded by fuzzy little ducklings, reprimanding a teensy ball of fluff.
"This is a working environment, not a playground. Save it for when you're outside."
The little duckling bobs its head.
Coulson shifts his attention to the rest of the ducks. "Now we're going back to work, and I don't want to hear another peep from any of you."
He turns, and the ducklings fall into a straight line and follow him.
"I hope that the fact you're all standing there gawking means that your reports are already completed and on my desk."
The threat effectively scatters most of the Avengers, but Hawkeye is still a bit high on adrenaline and instead falls into line behind the ducks and follows them to Coulson's office, closing the door behind them.
The ducks return to their nest (settled in two straight lines), and Clint falls onto the couch.
"You trained the ducks."
"I have a lot of work to do," Coulson says, glaring at his computer.
"You trained the ducks."
"You make it sound hard."
"You trained ducks to walk in a line and follow you around and to not quack and they're only a few hours old."
"After all of these years of dealing with you, it was nice to have something that was easy to train."
"Did you just compare me to a duck?"
"Don't be ridiculous, I would never insult a duck."
Clint rolls to his feet and crosses the room to squat in front of the nest. "So which one's mine?"
"They don't belong to anyone. I'm trying to make arrangements to have them picked up by the proper authorities. That means," Coulson clarifies, "don't get attached."
"They're just ducks. I'm not going to get attached--"
"Petting zoo. George the goat."
"That was one time."
"You wouldn't let any of the kids near him."
"They had to forcibly remove you."
"It wasn't that big of a deal."
"We've been permanently banned from the zoo."
"George would understand," Clint grumbles as he adjusts the heating lamp. "It's kind of cool you were able to train them so fast. You uh...you'd be a good dad. If you had kids."
"That was the most awkward transition ever."
"Shut up, you know what I mean. Haven't you ever thought about it? Having something more than just...the job."
"We couldn't even keep a fish alive, Clint."
"No, I kept the fish alive fine. You were the one who killed Senor Taco while I was on a mission."
"You killed the cactus."
"It was a stupid cactus. Kept giving me the stink eye."
"It was a cactus--"
One of the ducklings erupts in a series of loud cracks, interrupting their argument. Clint scoops him up and cradles him in his hands.
"It's okay, little guy. Senor Taco is in a better place. A nice wet, fishy place. You don't have to worry about him. He's up to his gills right now in the fish ladies."
Clint looks up at Phil and smiles.
"I didn't say anything!"
"You don't have to."
"Come on, don't you think it's be kind of cool--"
"I said no."
"--if we got a dog?"
Phil sighs. "We can't get a dog."
Clint's smile drops. "Right. Well. I'd probably be a terrible parent anyways."
"We can't get a dog--"
"You already said that, Phil."
"--because we have thirty ducks."
"I can't find anywhere that will take the ducks. And apparently it's illegal to release them into the wild. So we can either donate them to R&D or take them home." He doesn't mention the other option because he remembers how badly Clint had taken the news of Senor Taco's death. Phil doesn't even want to imagine what that would be like if it were multiplied by thirty ducklings.
"You would donate our babies to R&D?"
"Barton, get out of my office."
"Does this mean I get to call you Mom now?'
"Clint, I swear to God, I will turn them into a Thanksgiving feast--"
"Not our babies!"
"You are a highly trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Stop acting like a thirteen year-old girl and get out of my office."
"So are you."
"What's your point?"
"Phil Coulson, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Not so intimidating when you're followed by little balls of fluff."
Phil "I have work to do. Put the duck down and get out."
Clint does put the duck down, but only because it's started squirming and trying to jump out of his grasp. "I think it's cute."
"Fine, I'm gone. But I'll be back later to check on our babies."
"Bring your report with you. And make sure it's actually finished."
Clint leans over Phil's desk, grinning. "Don't I at least get a good-bye kiss?"
Phil doesn't quite glare at him. "I just gave you thirty ducks." It would be an argument if the statement wasn't filled with the warmth of tone that comes from Phil's mouth, but never Agent Coulson's. He turns back to what papers he can still read around Clint's valiant attempts at distracting him. "If thirty ducks isn't enough to convince you I love you, then I highly doubt a kiss will have that much of an impact."
(He kisses Clint anyways, because this is one battle he won't win and he is happy to lose it. The kiss itself though is ruined by the fact that a duckling attacks Clint's ankle. Neither of them had any idea a duckling could be so dangerous. They name her Natasha.)