“So you’d rather take her from behind?” Clint asked, his face completely straight as he stared thoughtfully at the battle plan Steve had come up with.
Tony snorted, the action surprising him just as much as it did Steve, who spared him a stern glance before nodding at Clint. “I think it’s easier that way,” he said confidently.
Another snort and Steve turned to Tony who held his hands up in mock innocence, nodding to Bruce who tried to cover the laugh with a cough. “Sorry, something in my throat, please, continue.”
“Tony can go in first, open it up for the rest of us,” Clint offered. There was no snort this time but when Steve looked to Tony for confirmation he was biting his lip, trying desperately to hold in his laughter.
“Is that ok with you?” Steve stood up straight, hand on his hips, his best “I’m Captain America” voice challenging Tony to disagree.
“Sure, I’m always up for going in first.” Tony smirked and Bruce, who’d obviously been trying just as hard as Tony to keep in his laughter, dissolved into silent chuckles which seemed to become contagious because Tony followed soon after.
“What is so funny?” Steve asked, the fact that he honestly didn’t know, serving only to make Tony and Bruce’s laughter double. Steve looked to Thor for help but the Asguardian shook his head, the confusion set deeply in his own features as he looked from Tony to Bruce and back again. Steve turned to Clint for enlightenment but got only a shrug in return.
“I have no idea,” Clint said, the amused tone in his voice so controlled that only Natasha would have caught it. And she did, if the glare she sent him and Tony and Bruce was any indication. The force of her stare was enough to make them pull it together and they made a motion to continue. “After Tony opens her up, Bruce can come in and plow the field.”
Steve could see Tony reach out and grab Bruce’s arm to steady himself, but chose to ignore it, wanting nothing more than to just get through the briefing at this point.
“Thor, I need you front and center, see if your lightening can make a dent in that shield.” Steve said.
“It will be an honor to call the thunder and blow right through the magical force field,”
“It’s not—“ Steve started to correct him and explain that it wasn’t actually magical but he didn’t know how to explain what it was, and the fact that Tony’s face was turning a spectacular shade of purple in an attempt to reign in his laughter mean he was going to be no help either.
“While everyone’s distracted with that, we’ll slip in the back door,” Clint offered, pulling the briefing back on track. “I’ll stay on your six make sure no one else can get in. You can go after the mad scientist and I’ll work on shutting off the drill.”
“You’ve looked over the schematics?” Steve asked. “You know which hole to aim for to knock it off line? We’ll only get one shot at this.”
“Don’t worry I never miss.” Clint said glancing at Natasha, the barest of smiles on his face now. Natasha glowered at him and Steve heard a thud right before Clint yelped, grabbing his shin.
This was obviously more than Tony or Bruce could be expected to take and they collapsed, the laughter they’d been trying desperately to keep in exploding out of them both with no hopes of reining it in at this point.
“It’s like working with children,” Steve said throwing his hands up in frustration. “When you want to get pack to the plan on how we're going to take down the crazy scientist intent on tunneling to china let me know.”
Only Steve’s statement had the opposite intended effect, and instead of snapping everyone back in line, it just made Tony and Bruce laugh harder. Even Natasha was trying to hide a smile now. “I give up.” Steve mumbled.
“Cap, wait,” Natasha said, following after him, trying to keep her smile in check. This is what finally broke Clint, doubling the archer over with laughter and she smacked him in the head as she passed for good measure. “You guys need to grow up.”
“Why is everyone laughing but me,” Thor asked, feeling disgruntled now because he was being left out of something that was obviously most amusing.
“Tony bet Clint he couldn’t slip something into the conversation more than three times without Steve catching on.” Bruce said quelling his own laughter.
“And you managed five,” Tony said shaking his head and wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. “Impressive.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out five crisp twenty dollar bills. Stopped and peeled off another five and tossed them onto the table. “You get a bonus for bringing Rogers and Thor in on it without them knowing.”
“I’m just good like that,” Clint smirked, grabbing the bills and slipping them into his back pocket.
“I still do not understand what was said that brought about this much merriment,” Thor shook his head and Bruce reached up to whisper in his ear. Thor’s eyes went wide and his smile stretched across his face as the joke was explained to him.
“That is most amusing,” Thor boomed, clapping Bruce on the back. “On Asguard we call this practice sitting on the giant. It is the most sought after reward one may receive in Vallhalla, an honor bestowed upon only the fiercest of warriors. An honor I believe we’ve all more than earned yes?” Thor said happily as he walked away.
Tony’s laughter died in his throat and he turned to Bruce who was swallowing hard. “Well that’s a thought that’s going to fester.”