They are not instantly a team, and they do not become one for a while. Steve's not sure how to go about bringing them together. His first team drew together naturally, with comradeship and in the face of some greater war. So instead of trying to inspire them to unite with words, he gets by on various secondhand techniques.
Icebreakers got him laughed out of the room at first, and that's when he has to get creative. He goes for the modern day method of bonding that Stark and Barton talk about, and for a time, it seems to work. He gets them to play games like Monopoly (Tony surprisingly is horrible, Clint just likes to make the figures fight each other, and Natasha cheats like a woman with a mission), Twister (which ends when Thor's head gets put in a place they don't like to talk about), and Scene It (and amazingly, they do have a Wizard of Oz version). Some games he doesn't even try – no one wants to play paintball with Barton, truth or dare with Natasha (who would probably suffer through Barton's "she'll tell you, but then she'll have to kill you' interjections with a straight face) and hide-and-go-seek doesn't seem safe to play with Banner.
What he's left with is a strange collection of things that don't quite fit and aren't quite reasonable. Somehow they work.
Cole Bergoon is competent, efficient, brilliant, and a decent handler. They are all aware that he isn't going to last the first week. The team is (pretending to be) efficient, brilliant (Or at least, Banner and Stark are. Jury's still out on Barton), and competent. He's too normal. He goes to the gym after work every day, obeys the rules, and tries too hard to act like Coulson. He doesn't freak out over sock monkeys (Banner), people handing him things (Stark), or meeting someone twice in a coffee shop (Romanov). He's so well-balanced that he makes the rest of them look like homicidal maniacs, if homicidal maniacs buy strawberries to say 'I'm sorry' and sleep on the roof when they're tired of civilization.
He acts like there's something wrong with texting with an ancient Norse God or asking an AI to order some take-out shawarma.
Also, he doesn't come to watch Notorious with the rest of them.
The easiest way seems to be to tackle them one by one, going with the "divide and conquer" method Bucky liked to use with women. Also, whenever they get in a group of three or more, something seems to explode, so Steve's trying not to give Fate the middle finger. He's decided that going to see a reshowing of Notorious will be the best way to start bonding and none of the team will admit to watching it, so it seems like it's a good solution.
None of them seem like particularly easy targets, but he starts with Thor because Thor seems to be the easiest to convince after Clint told him that all movies were based on fact (it made for an awkward conversation after Tony made him watch Bambi).
"Thor, do you want to go to the theater? They're doing a reshowing of classic movies, and Tony was talking about it the other day."
Thor looks up. "Will there be tales of heroic deeds and great feats of strength?"
Steve hesitates. He hasn't actually seen the movie yet, but he'd looked forward to it before the crash. He wasn't quite sure it would fit Thor's parameters – with a mental shrug, he told himself that they could always switch at the last minute and see that action flick with newfangled effects Clint was rambling about. "Yeah," he says, crossing his fingers behind his back. "There will be."
Thor smiles, and booms, "Then I shall go," and well, that's that.
Then he goes for Clint, because Clint's easy as well. He catches the archer stuffing his face full of M&M's and drops down beside him, opening with, "You know, there wasn't always the M on the side."
Clint chokes on the candy and Steve waits until he demands, "And why did I need to know that?" before continuing.
"It's weird, that's all. We didn't have any orange or blue ones either. Is it true they stopped manufacturing red because they thought it was communist?" Clint looks at him, eyes slightly glazed over, so Steve continues. "Anyway, do you want go to the theater?"
"As long as you stop talking about M&M's, I'm in."
Steve plans his attack on Tony strategically. He waits until Tony's knee deep in scrap metal before he drops over the balcony and says, "You still in for movie night?"
Tony gives some mumble of agreement, says absentmindedly, "Yeah, sure Pepper." And by the time he looks up ten seconds later, Steve's already gone.
It turns out Banner's the only one that'll admit to seeing something made before color was included in filmography. He looks up rather absentmindedly when Steve first pesters him, and frowns after a moment of silence as Steve patiently waits for his answer. "Notorious?" he asks a little dubiously. "Are you sure Stark will sit through that?"
Steve pauses. "What else is there to see?" he asks a little uncertainly, and Banner beckons him over. Steve settles into the chair beside the doctor and he nods thoughtfully when Banner points out a few alternate options.
"That should work," he says at last, a little impressed by Banner's surprisingly shrewd reasoning. "Good job."
He's halfway out the room when Banner stops him. "Do you want me to order tickets online?" he asks, and Steve startles.
"You can do that now?" he asks before he can stop himself. The doctor nods, and Steve tries to give a confident one of his own in reply. "Yeah. I'd appreciate that. Thanks Doctor Banner."
He leaves the man behind, ignoring the small smile on the edges of Banner's mouth. It had been easy enough to convince Banner to go once they made a final decision.
Steve pauses outside Natasha's door a little hesitantly. When he lays a hand against the cool metal, he hears her demand, "Are you going to come in or not?"
After a moment he enters, trying to avoid looking hesitant. She looks at him, head cocked slightly to one side.
"I'll go on one condition," she states, and honestly, Steve shouldn't be surprised that she knows what he's up to. He crosses his arms and attempts to look nonchalant when she continues. "Sparring sessions, every morning for a month."
It's hard not to wince. She had a wicked gleam in her eye that makes him wonder if she thinks she can beat him.
"Agent Romanov," he says slowly.
"Natasha," she interjects. "Just Natasha. Are you in?"
He hesitates, and nods at last. It's probably the best deal he'll get from her.
He saves Bergoon for last, and only requests his presence out of a sense of obligation and fairness.
"Want to go to the theater?" he asks casually.
The man doesn't look up at all, fingers flying across the keyboard. "What movie and who's attending?"
"The whole team," Steve reports, ignoring Bergoon's grimace at the information. "To see something called Live Hard. No, Die Easy."
Bergoon curls his lip. "Die Hard? With Bruce Willis?"
"Yes?" Steve tries.
The man shakes his head. "I have a report due on the last mission."
Steve gets up and walks away, and that is that.
What starts out as two letters in Steve's desk in the Helicarrier becomes eight, then drops down into six.
He wrote one for Peggy and one for Bucky when he first woke up and was trying to get drunk again. The lines are dark and thick and full of sadness and 'I miss you's' and he's not entirely sure what to do with them at first. Then eventually he's confronted with the end of the world, and when he gets back onto the helicarrier he starts writing again.
One letter he fills pages and pages with apologies, regrets and old memories before he lights it up. He could have just thrown it away, but he didn't trust Tony not to go into the shredder and piece it together out of curiosity. The writing is slightly shaky, remnants and evidence of the adrenaline he'd been feeling at the time, but it gets small and smaller until he finally fills up a page and a half and seals it away.
He writes the next letter immediately after, and this one's to Banner. He only puts in two sentences, but he thinks it's enough. It's all he has to say and hopefully something he'll one day have the courage to say in person.
The next two letters he writes at the same time. He starts with "I'm sure you're going to read this before I mean for you to, but" and he ends with "I don't mind at all." Between the words is a wealth of information he thinks they'll understand.
He writes the next letter, not really knowing if the recipient will be able to read it. He's not entirely sure what to say, and then he breaks through the block and pours it all out. He's sure one day he's going to tear it apart but right now, he just needs to put into words in the confusion and pain and simple longing for a place to belong he's seen reflected in the other.
One day he stands on the side of the helicarrier and drops the first two into the sea. It seems like a fitting end.
"Rock, paper, scissors on who gets to tell Fury that everyone's skipping on post-mission medical checks to go bowling. Romanov, please remember Thor is a God. Thor, please remember that Stark probably is able to determine the statistics of what you'll chose and precisely when you'll choose it. Stark, please remember that while Natasha is Fury's favorite, if she kills you, they'll never find the body. Barton, be aware that Bruce is unconscious from de-Hulking. And-"
Translation: "I'll do it."
They're not quite a team by the time the next major attack happens, but that's okay.
It's okay because when Clint gets blasted out of the window, hits the ground with a thud and doesn't move, the following happens: Bruce gets calm, Tony gets worried, Natasha gets scared,Thor gets quiet, and Steve gets angry. It's then that he realizes that they've changed each other and there's no way they can go back to the way they were before.
Steve knows that they're a team when he accidentally calls Clint Bucky, and Tony Howard.There's a sad look in both their eyes, and Tony looks betrayed.
Steve apologizes profusely, but it's not okay. If they were strangers, it would have been perfectly fine. But they're not strangers - they're family, and that's why when Steve, three days after strained conversations and awkward pauses, says "I'm sorry" and Tony gives him a blueberry and Clint quotes John Wayne at him (they'd had a marathon the other day when Steve was startled that he had a lasting career), he knows it's okay as long as it doesn't happen again.