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It Starts Out Like an A-Word (As Anyone Can See)

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The day the Avengers come to Sesame Street, Oscar complains that the letters of the day must be PR, but Elmo thinks that's silly, because the yowling yellow yaks don't just show up at Hooper's Store every day for no reason. Besides, everyone knows that Avengers starts with A.

But the superheroes aren't there for the letter of the day- or the number, either, since there aren't twelve of them. They're just visiting to help everyone fix the buildings on Sesame Street after the big incident last week, because everyone knows that if you shared in making the mess you should share in cleaning it up, even if it was an accident.

Elmo saw them on TV, and they're just like he expected. All of them are brave and strong and nice- well, most of them are nice, at least- and they really do wear their costumes even when they're just walking around helping, which Elmo will point out the next time Oscar asks why Grover is wearing a cape if he isn't even leaving Sesame Street.

Mr. Thor is teaching Abby and Zoe how to use tools so they can help fix the flower boxes that fell from windowsills, even though his hammer is much bigger than theirs are. Mr. Clint is helping Big Bird rebuild his nest, and Mr. Bruce is sitting in a corner fixing the electric blanket. Miss Natasha is trying to help fix Oscar's trash can, and even though he keeps yelling at her she just smiles like she deals with this all the time and says she's used to dealing with cranky green men, which makes Mr. Bruce smile a little when he hears it. Elmo's pretty impressed with Miss Natasha for that, because it took him a long time to understand how to handle Oscar. But he's the most impressed with Mr. Steve, who just smiles and listens and helps everyone with whatever they need. Elmo is pretty sure he wants to be Mr. Steve when he grows up.

Mr. Tony isn't doing much of anything, except being Grover's new idol. Elmo is a little nervous, because Mr. Tony does a lot of work with electricity and Super Grover isn't even allowed to use matches yet. Plus Mr. Tony said that he'd make Super Grover shoes so that he could fly better. Elmo doesn't think Super Grover flying more is the best idea.

Elmo tries not to pay too much attention to that, though, because he doesn't want to think about Grover getting hurt. Besides, Mr. Steve is a really good question-answerer. Sometimes people who don't know Elmo get angry when he asks a lot of questions, even though he just wants to know things. Mr. Steve just smiles at him and explains what Elmo wants to know, and one time when he's carrying a really big stack of wood he even lets Elmo sit on top of it so that Elmo can see what Sesame Street looks like from Big Bird's point of view.

Elmo wants a costume just like Mr. Steve's when he grows up. Except he's already red, so his costume just needs to be blue and white.

"Mr. Steve?" Elmo asks while they're re-painting the front door of 123 Sesame Street. "Why do you have a shield?"

"To protect people," Mr. Steve tells him. "I can use it to make anyone who wants to hurt someone stop."

"Oh." Elmo pauses for a moment. "Elmo got a shield once. But Oscar took it back because it was raining and his dirt collection was getting too muddy."

Mr. Steve nods. "Want to help me with this, buddy?" he asks.

Elmo is a very good helper. He can reach the bottom of the door much more easily than anyone else can, and he's very careful to paint in straight lines. Gordon says it looks even better than it used to, and that maybe Elmo should be the new handymonster for the block. Elmo's considering it

"Mr. Steve?" Elmo asks.

"Yes?"

"How can Elmo spell shield?"

"S-H-I-E-L-D."

"Oh. Okay."

"There's an easy way to remember that," Mr. Steve says. "SHIELD is an acronym. It can stand for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division."

Elmo stops on the sidewalk, thinks about that for a good long time. Mr. Steve waits while he does. Finally, Elmo looks up at him. "It's a lot easier to spell trash can lid."