"You made a list."
"It appeared... more efficient than continuing to haul him up in front of disciplinary hearings, sir."
Agent Coulson could almost taste Nick Fury's skepticism.
"The oddest thing is, it seems to be working. I've had to deal with a lot less of his anti-social... "
"Bullshit?" Fury offered.
"That's one way of putting it, yes," Coulson replied, relieved. "For reasons unknown to God and man, and probably to Barton himself, he appears to actually have some respect for the List." He handed a copy to Fury, who took it as if convinced it would burst into flame in his hand, and began to read.
THE LIST OF THINGS CLINT BARTON MAY NOT DO
1. Flipping the bird is not a proper salute.
2. May not use any of the Seven Words in open comms, even if grammatically or scientifically accurate.
3. Must wear pants in presence of members of the public. For the purposes of this rule, Director Fury counts as "public."
4. May not mislead Steve about any aspect of modern culture, especially the meanings of slang words.
5. Your name is not Lola and you are not a showgirl, no matter how good you look in drag.
6. Tony and Bruce are not Science Boyfriends or The Wonder Twins.
7. May not attempt to provoke Director Fury into living up to his name.
8. Food does not beg for mercy.
9. Hanging upside-down in closets is not funny.
"Cap screamed like a little girl."
"Still not funny."
10. SHIELD vehicles may only be used for SHIELD business. This does not include booze runs or dates.
11. The objective of a tox screen is not to see if you have "collected the set."
12. May not attempt to "collect the set."
13. May not give your opinion on anyone's personal life unless explicitly asked; may not tell those with relationship problems how to dispose of bodies EVEN IF explicitly asked.
14. May not attempt to hypnotise anybody, especially JARVIS.
15. May not attempt to tell anybody's fortune, especially JARVIS.
16. May not barricade Tony inside his workshop.
17. May not barricade Tony OUT of his workshop.
18. May not use any method of conveyance indoors except elevators or own feet.
Coulson raised his eyebrows at seeing a pair of feet pass his office window.
19. Yes, Barton, that includes your hands.
20. May not ask anyone if they "feel lucky" while aiming an arrow at them.
21. You are not in a submarine, and SHIELD HQ does not need to "Dive! Dive! Dive!"
22. May not ask to take a ride on anybody's disco stick.
23. Director Fury is not your homeboy.
24. Nobody wants to know what you did to their mom last night, or What She Said.
25. May not use office equipment for anything other than its intended function.
26. May not replace the household coffee with decaf.
27. May not make any beverage in the coffee machine except coffee.
28. May not make coffee with any liquid other than plain tap water.
29. May not put anything in the coffee machine except coffee grounds and plain tap water.
30. Just leave the coffee machine alone, Barton.
31. You may be "a poor boy from a poor family" but you may not sing Bohemian Rhapsody in mission briefings.
32. Or any other song, for that matter.
33. Sitreps may not be given in the medium of interpretive dance.
34. May not give Bruce chew toys.
"But they're good for his teeth!"
"Shut it, Barton."
35. The US may not have an official language but SHIELD does. And it is not Esperanto.
36. Thor's hammer is not his penis.
37. Director Fury does not ask rhetorical questions.
"Is that a rhetorical question, sir?"
"Well, hypothetically speaking..."
"Hypothetically speaking I could bust your ass down to janitor by the time you finish that sentence. Do you want to finish that sentence?"
"Damn right, you don't."
38. May not try to convince Steve to go to the Dark Side of the Force.
39. May not try to convince ANYBODY to go to the Dark Side of the Force.
"The Dark Side has cookies."
"I don't care. Shut it, Barton."
40. You are not ordained clergy in any recognised religion.
41. May not draw on anybody who is asleep, passed out, unconscious or otherwise non compos mentis.
42. That includes writing on them.
43. Even if it is not in a language they understand.
44. Nobody in SHIELD or the Avengers Initiative wants a balloon animal, even if they say they do. Even Stark.
45. Especially if it's made of inflated condoms.
46. May not sleep in the air vents.
47. May not sleep halfway out of an air vent.
"But I was comfortable!"
"Deputy Director Hill wasn't, and it was her office your head and arms were hanging out into."
48. May not attempt to trade anything for magic beans.
49. May not call Agent Coulson "Honey."
50. May not call Agent Coulson anything other than "Agent Coulson " or "Sir."
51. May not request that people call you "Al."
52. May not call anyone "Betty" unless that is actually their name.
53. May not request that people call you "Princess."
54. May not complain when Thor calls you "Princess."
55. Nobody wants to see your birthmark.
"But it's in the shape of -- "
"I don't care."
56. Nobody is impressed by prehensile toes. Use your hands to pass people things.
57. Alternative washing instructions for things are not "Give them to Natasha."
"You're a dead man walking, Barton."
"Only if you tell her, sir."
"You're assuming I haven't already."
"Fuck." Clint bolted for the nearest air vent.
58. May not watch LOTR after abusing the television every time Legolas comes on screen.
59. May not offer anybody "sexual healing."
60. May not offer anybody faith healing of any kind.
61. May not ask anybody to realign your chakras.
62. You do not have a "boom-stick."
63. Chainsaws are not authorised SHIELD weapons.
64. May only submit requisition requests for things that actually exist.
"Shouldn't take me more than a week to knock together something that'll do the job."
"Shut it, Stark. Don't encourage him."
65. Nuking them from orbit is not the only way to be sure.
66. You are not on "a mission from God."
67. Even if Thor sent you.
68. If you are sent to fetch or find something, you are not to declare it a Quest.
69. May not eat anything not easily identifiable by at least two other human beings as "food."
70. May not eat food intended for other species.
71. Taking orders is not against your religion.
72. You are not a member of any Royal Family who has been sent into hiding for your own safety.
"But they never did find Princess Anastasia."
"Considering she'd be more than one hundred years old, I'm relatively confident you are not her."
"So I look young for my age. Good genes."
"Shut it, Barton."
73. You are not a ninja.
74. You cannot kill people with your brain.
"I should at least be allowed to try!"
"Shut it, Barton."
75. The Director's name is "Fury," not "Furry."
76. May not introduce fish into any bathing facility.
77. Or any other aquatic or amphibious species.
78. Or any species of waterfowl.
79. Just leave the non-humans at home.
"But sir --"
"One word about Thor and it's a month in the stockade, do you hear me?"
80. May not drop anything on anybody's head from a high place unless on an operation and it will advance the objectives thereof.
81. May not remove pants during a debriefing. That is not what "debriefing" means.
"Then why is it called that?"
"Just keep your body inside your clothes."
82. Must attend debriefings fully clothed, defined as all of torso (front and back) covered, buttocks and genitals covered, legs fully or partially covered.
83. Deputy Director Hill is not "alive with the sound of music."
84. May not request presence on diplomatic missions.
"Not after last time, Barton."
"It was only a small bomb!"
"I rest my case."
85. May not add sequins, lace, ruffles, tulle or any other embellishments to body armour.
86. Or any other part of uniform.
"But it makes me feel pretty!"
"Shut it, Barton."
87. May not "astral travel" during meetings.
88. May not request time to "put your face on" before going into the field.
89. May not secede from the Union.
90. Iron Man is not "the only way to fly."
91. May not attempt to exorcise anyone or anything at any time for any reason by any method, ever.
"But the computer was haunted."
"You forgetting your password does not mean the computer was haunted."
92. SHIELD Security staff are not "The Fun Police."
93. May not submit sitreps written in any form of invisible ink.
"We're a covert intelligence organisation and I'm not allowed to use invisible ink. How is that fair?"
"Shut it, Barton."
94. You do not have disciples.
95. Or an invisible friend.
96. May not request SHIELD clearance for your invisible friend.
97. Or anyone else. If Jesus needs SHIELD clearance, which is doubtful, he can request it his own self.
98. May not paint your personal quarters.
99. Colouring in the walls with Sharpie marker counts.
100. Your personal quarters do not need "window treatments."
101. You do not have a totem animal.
102. You are not a totem animal.
103. May not claim Mondays as a Holy Day.
104. May not call in dead to work.
105. May not pretend to be dead at all.
"Hey, if Agent Coulson... "
"Think very hard about how you want this conversation to end, Barton."
"Shutting up now, sir."
106. Must shower -- with soap -- at least once per calendar day.
"Does it count if I use the soap to block the plughole?"
107. May not "mark your territory."
108. Nobody wants to see your "little archer."
109. May not wear a monocle without a medical reason.
110. May not whine when other members get new tech and you don't.
111. Your whereabouts while in any SHIELD facility are not on a "need-to-know basis."
112. May not miss operational briefings because "your stories are on."
113. May not pretend to be asleep during meetings.
114. May not actually sleep during meetings.
"What if I'm passing out from blood loss?"
"Then you should be in medical, not a meeting."
"They've started making me bring a note if I come in unaccompanied."
115. May not attempt to tunnel out of any SHIELD facility.
116. May not attempt to tunnel INTO any SHIELD facility.
117. Thor's cape is not a "health and safety hazard."
118. May not magnetise anything.
119. May not threaten to "use your powers for evil."
"Seriously, Barton. You've tried that. Look where it got you."
"Arrested by you and recruited for SHIELD, sir."
120. If the thought of saying or doing something makes you giggle for more than 15 seconds, you may take it as read that you are not allowed to say or do it.
Nick Fury looked up from the list to Agent Coulson's impassive face.
"Remind me why we keep this little asshole around, please?"
"Because he's ridiculously good at what he does."
Fury gave him a "You have to be kidding me" look.
"And because he's an even bigger pain in the ass when he's working against us."
Fury almost smiled. "Thought it would be something like that. Hopefully that last rule will keep him from exploiting loopholes any more than he already does."
"For a while, anyway. And after that, well, I've still got my taser."
"Good. Keep it fully charged."
"Always do, sir."