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Christmas At Avengers Tower

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When December rolls around, they start talking about Christmas presents.

“Should we do a White Elephant? Secret Santa?” Bruce asks at the breakfast table on the first.

“Fuck that,” Clint says. “The more presents the better.”

Coulson rolls his eyes, but Tony holds his fist out and Clint bumps it.

“I think we should do a Secret Santa,” Coulson says, and Clint sticks his tongue out at him.

“Secret…?” Thor starts.

“Everyone picks someone’s name from a hat, and they get a gift for that person. Basically, you don’t know who got your gift until after you open it.”

Steve nods at Coulson. “And a white elephant?”

“Craaap!” Clint sings out. At Coulson’s look, he says, “What, you can’t tell me you ever got anything decent from a White Elephant gift exchange. That’s why it’s called ‘White Elephant–’ it’s useless!”

“We are not doing a White Elephant gift exchange,” Natasha said, her tone final. “God only knows what kind of gag gifts you people would come up with!”

Tony gets a speculative look on his face, and Bruce groans. “Let’s vote on it. All in favor of Secret Santa?”

Coulson, Thor and Natasha raise their hands.

“All in favor of getting gifts for everyone?”

Bruce, Clint and Steve raise their hands.

Bruce looks at Tony. “You didn’t vote.”

“I was waiting for you to ask about the White Elephant.”

Natasha glares at him, and Tony says, “OK, OK, gifts for everyone!”

Bruce nods. “It’s settled. Everyone will get a gift for everyone else.”


Coulson had always preferred a quiet Christmas. And, God knows, Clint didn’t have many fond memories of Christmas growing up, so anything is fine with him. They usually ended up curled up together on the couch in Coulson’s living room, a fire in the fireplace and carols playing on the radio. They put a wreath on the door, had a small tree, but nothing beyond that. They’d have Natasha over for dinner (that part was the one thing they did go overboard on, since Clint loved to cook, remembering too many days when the hollow ache of an empty stomach followed him into uneasy dreams).

When they move into Avengers Tower, though…

Clint thinks most of them are stunned.

Thor doesn’t know much about Midgardian holidays, but he throws himself into it with his typical enthusiasm. Natasha just rolls her eyes and stays out of the way. Clint’s not sure what 1940’s Christmases were like, but he’s fairly sure that they were nothing like this.

Because Tony Stark, in everything, has no sense of proportion, and if even Clint (whose idea of subtlety is to shoot someone in the kneecap when they’re not looking) thinks he’s going overboard, you can imagine how bad it is.

He does appreciate the mistletoe though, doing everything he can to maneuver Coulson under it at every opportunity.

Coulson grumbles, but lets him do it, kissing him softly every time.

However, Tony also strews motion-activated singing Santas and reindeer and snowmen in every room, causing a huge racket whenever someone passes, an occasional “Joy to–” or “–bells! Jingle–“ audible amid the din. The tree is at least eight feet tall, and it’s a good thing the Tower is self-sustaining, otherwise it’d black out all of Manhattan and part of the Bronx with all the lights Tony’s put on it.

When Coulson sees the ass-shaking Santa he pulls Tony aside to have a talk.

Clint thinks Tony might be overcompensating, throwing himself into it to forget holidays in the past, but he’s the last one to talk about someone else’s issues.


Tony drags them out in mid-December to pick out a tree, insisting on a real one.

“Why would one put a tree in one’s dwelling?” Thor wants to know.

Tony shrugs. “Tradition. Something about rebirth or renewal, who cares?”

Steve wants something small and tasteful, and Coulson agrees with him. Bruce wants one with sturdy branches so they can hang ornaments easily. Natasha doesn’t say anything, and Clint just wants to go somewhere warm, preferably with Coulson near at hand.

Steve manages to talk Tony out of the artificial snow on the tree, and he gets one with branches like Bruce wants, but because he’s Tony, it has to be huge, and because he’s Tony, he gets it delivered.

They decorate it that evening. Tony and Steve drag boxes out of storage and put them in the living room.

“I could more easily–” Thor starts, but Bruce cuts him off with a hand on his arm.

“There’s a reason they don’t want you or me handling the breakables, big guy.”

“Here, you can put on the lights,” Tony says, tossing the mass of wires to Coulson.

Coulson narrows his eyes fractionally, which Clint knows from experience means “I will kill you in your sleep,” but starts unpicking the strands.

Tony’s version of “carols” is…eclectic. He has the usual artists, like Bing Crosby and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but “Heavy Metal Christmas” also makes an appearance, along with “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” and some song about spending Christmas in jail.

“Some of these ornaments are antique,” Steve says, over the sound of Miss Piggy demanding “Fiiiive gooooold riiiiiings, ba-dum-bum-bum!”

Tony looks at the hand-painted glass ball in his hand, “It was my mother’s,” he says, so quietly it’s hard to hear him over the music, and stretches to hang a light-up version of the Enterprise on a high branch.

“What does this signify?” Thor asks, holding up a blue plastic phone booth.

Coulson looks up. “It’s the TARDIS,” he said, then goes back to the lights.

“High five, Coulson! I knew you were a geek!”

Coulson ignores Tony’s upraised hand, while Clint groans.

“Oh, please, do not get him started on Doctor Who!

“Doctor who?” Steve asks.

“Exactly,” Clint says, because he’s been living with Coulson long enough that he’s been corrupted.

Natasha rolls her eyes, as Tony tells Steve, “I’ll explain later.”

“There’s no photo ornaments in here,” Bruce says, rummaging through the box.

“What?” Clint asks.

“My family always had ornaments with pictures, and fifteen-year-old glitter encrusted macaroni.”

Tony coughs. “Oh, yeah, um…my family didn’t really…do that.”

There’s an uncomfortable pause as Bruce realizes that of all of them, he, and possibly Coulson, are the only ones who had what can be called a “normal” childhood. Well, Steve might have had one, but it was over seventy years ago, and times have changed a lot.

Coulson saves him by handing Tony the lights, perfectly ordered, every one lit. Tony and Clint wrap them around the tree as the others search the boxes for more ornaments.

Natasha carefully hangs a blue-tinted glass snowflake. Thor’s found some old wooden ornaments, which he hangs near the top, since he’s the only one who can reach.

After a while the tree is mostly decorated. It’s eclectic, just like Tony, a mixture of vintage ornaments and novelty, geek and chic. Small LED lights twinkle from the branches.

Tony hands the star to Thor, who’s the tallest of them. “Put it on the top.”

Thor does, and they all just stand looking at the tree for a few moments.

“It looks nice,” Steve says quietly, and Tony preens.

“Now we just need some presents to put under it,” Natasha says.

“SHOPPING SPREE!” Tony yells and would have run off if Coulson hadn’t grabbed him by the collar.

“Not now!” he says. “Wait until tomorrow at least. If you want presents to put under it–” He lets go of Tony and leaves the living room.

“The fuck?” Tony asks Clint, who just shrugs. Just because he’s dating Coulson doesn’t mean he can read his mind.

Coulson’s back in a few minutes with an armful of neatly-wrapped presents, which he arranges under the tree.

“You did all your shopping already?” Clint blurts out.

Coulson looks at him archly. “Haven’t you?”

Clint growls and shakes a fist at him. Coulson ignores him.


There’d been a certain amount of surreptitious (and not-so-surreptitious from Tony) sneaking around in the beginning of the month, and it increases as Christmas approaches.

Clint groans, collapsing melodramatically on their bed.

Coulson just looks at him. “Problem?”

“I don’t know what to get anyone except you and Nat. I mean, what can I get for Stark that he hasn’t already invented, for Chrissake!”

“You were the one who wanted to give gifts to everyone.”

Clint brings his arm down from his eyes. “Seriously? You are seriously telling me ‘I told you so’ right now?”

“No,” Coulson says mildly. “I’m saying you made your bed, now lie in it.

“Get Steve something from the 40’s or 50’s,” he continues. “Vintage.”

Clint nods. “Okay. What else?”

“I did my shopping already,” Coulson says, and walks out.

Clint groans again. “Fuuuck!”


On Christmas Eve Tony calls them all into the living room and shoves Steve down onto the couch. Caught by surprise, he goes.

Tony plops down next to him and shoves a book at him. “Read this.”

Steve blinks, looking at the book. “A Visit From St. Nicholas. Why do you want me to read it?”

“Because you’re the logical one,” Tony says, and everyone nods, folding themselves into chairs.

Steve sighs slightly, but opens the book. “’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house…”

Surprisingly, Tony doesn’t make any snide comments. When Steve’s closed the book, he says, “Time to hang and stuff the stockings.”

“Stockings?” Thor asks.

“We got one for you, don’t worry.”

It doesn’t take long to hang them over the (electric) fireplace, then Tony starts shooing people out one by one so they can fill them. “Go to bed, Santa won’t come if you’re awake!”


Clint’s woken up the next morning by someone shaking his arm. “Hnnngh?” He gropes in the bed next to him. It’s empty.

He opens his eyes blearily to see Natasha glaring down at him. “Tasha?”

“Come on, get up, everyone else is!”

Clint groans and rolls over.

“There’s food.”

He cracks open an eye.

“Coulson made it,” she coaxes.

He drags himself reluctantly out of bed. As he heads to the kitchen he smells something heavenly. “Cinnamon rolls?” he asks Tasha.

She nods. “Four dozen, although that might not be enough for Thor.”

When they reach the kitchen, they see Coulson, in a robe and oven mitts, putting a tray on the counter.

“Latest batch,” he says to Clint. “You want to help me here?” He waves at the oven, and then the table, where Thor is demolishing the cinnamon rolls.

“Hey, I just got up!” He snags a cinnamon roll from the plate and eats it, before popping another batch in the oven.

When they’re all full (mostly; he doubts Steve and Thor are ever not hungry) they troop into the living room.

There’s an enormous pile of presents under the tree. Clint makes for them, but Natasha grabs his elbow. “Stockings first, you know that.”

He sticks his tongue out at her.

“Don’t point that thing at me unless you intend to use it.”

Steve chokes.

Tony’s in his element. “Okay, stockings,” he says, rubbing his hands gleefully. “Who’s first?”

“Thor,” Natasha says, and Tony nods.

“Be careful with it,” he warns him.

Thor slowly takes down the stocking and sits down on a chair. He lifts out a small black porcelain cat and beams. They’d found out early he had a thing for knickknacks. There’s also a stuffed hedgehog, a small geode, a set of bluebird salt-and-pepper shakers, and a pocketwatch.

Thor examines everything, then looks at them. “Thank you, my friends,” he says gravely, in what seems to Clint to be a totally out-of-proportion reaction.

“Steve, your turn,” Tony says.

It turns out most of Steve’s stuff is edible; walnuts, a small orange, chocolate coins–but in the end of the toe he digs out two small metal boxing gloves, painted red, white and blue.

He grins at Tony. “Thanks.”

“I’ll give you your real present later,” Tony leers, and Steve blushes, even though he ought to be used to Tony by now.

Clint’s been fidgeting in his chair, and Tony apparently notices, because he grins and says, “Fine, go before you sprain something.”

Clint bolts for his stocking and tears into it. “Awesome!” he says as he pulls out the mini-darts. There’s also some marbles and a set of jacks, a hackeysack…all things he didn’t have as a kid, but all things that improve hand-eye coordination. He suspects that was Coulson’s idea.

He opens his mouth to thank them, but–

“Don’t bother,” Bruce says, smiling. “Your face says it all.”

“Thanks, guys,” he says anyway.

“OK, who’s next?” Tony asks.

“You should go next,” Bruce says.

Tony tries to demur, but they outvote him.

Clint has no clue what’s in Tony’s stocking, besides the fact that they’re all electric whatsits and all look vaguely dangerous, but from the faces Tony’s making he appreciates them.

“Were you behind this?” he asks Bruce.

“With a little help from JARVIS,” he confesses.

Tony nods, gathers up his loot, and says “Your turn.”


“C’mon, Bruce, you have to go sometime,” Natasha coaxes, and he nods.

Clint grins to himself. They’d had a lot of fun putting together Bruce’s stocking.

The first thing he pulls out is a smooth stone with a depression in the middle. “A worry stone,” Tony says helpfully.

“I know what it is, Tony,” Bruce says quietly. “I lost mine.”

“Which is why we got you another one,” Coulson puts in.

His brow furrows at the next item. “A Koosh ball?”

“Koosh balls are fun,” Clint says. “You need more fun.” That’d been his idea.

Next he pulls out several packets of herbal tea and a box that jingles faintly. He opens it to find two metal balls nestled inside. “Stress balls.”

He rolls his eyes at the next items. “A slide rule?”

They all point at Tony, who says, “Hey, you can use it, right?”

“Right, I can use something that was obsolete forty years ago,” Bruce says, but he sets it aside. “And a pocket protector, lovely.”

“Complete with pens,” Clint grins. That had been Coulson’s idea, but no one would believe it.

At the bottom are several pieces of bubble gum.

“To keep your stress down, but it’s fun too,” Natasha explains.

Bruce nods, and unwraps a piece. “Thanks for…most of it,” he says deliberately.

Steve shakes his head. “You’re welcome.”

Of course Steve had disapproved of the gag gifts, but they’d insisted.

“That leaves Coulson and Natasha,” Tony says.

Coulson gestures at Natasha. “Ladies first.”

She scowls at him, but moves to the mantel.

Her expression changes completely when she reaches into her stocking. “A pen?”

“Press the button on the side,” Coulson instructs.

“I don’t see what that–”

“Press it again,” Tony grins.

“I don’t see what that–” the pen says.

Natasha’s face turns positively evil.

She spots the camera in the glasses immediately and puts them on. “Cell phone spy recon?” she asks of the next item.

“You can monitor phones,” Clint says.

“Motion Activated,” Natasha reads on the alarm clock. “These are–”

“Not to be used in the Tower,” Tony completes. “JARVIS will know.”

She pouts, but nods.

That leaves Coulson. Most of his are semi-gag gifts, but Clint made sure to slip something in he’d appreciate.

There’s a jumbo pack of post-its in various colors and a mini-stapler with refills. Red, blue and black pens. Binder and paper clips. And, slipped down the side, a “My other vehicle is a TARDIS” bumper sticker.

Coulson looks at Clint and sighs, but he can tell from his expression that he’s more amused than exasperated. “These will come in handy.”

“Knew it!” Tony repeats.

Coulson still ignores him.


All that’s left now are the regular presents. “So how are we going to do this so it’s fair?” Natasha asks.

“Screw fair,” Clint mumbles, quietly enough that no one hears him.

“Clockwise in a circle?” Steve suggests.

“Sounds good. You go first, Clint,” Natasha says.


“Otherwise you’ll whine.”

Clint makes a face at her, and opens the first gift he can get his hands on, a bunch of arrows. At his questioning look, Bruce explains. “I found a way to lessen the wind resistance. They’ll go farther now and hit harder.”

Clint grins at him and starts examining the feel of them.

“You’re next, Steve,” Bruce says.

Steve picks up an envelope, holds it to the light, then opens it. Two small pieces of paper flutter to his lap. “JANUARY 11-13th,” he reads, “CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL AT THE FILM FORUM.”

“You can take one of us, or whoever you want,” Natasha says.

Steve beams at her and tucks the tickets back in the envelope.

“Your turn Tasha.”

She takes a switchblade out of her pocket and flicks it open. Everyone flinches except Clint and Coulson.

She picks up a present and examines the tag. “It’s from Tony.” She gives him a sunny smile, then carefully separates the tape from the paper. Out of the corner of his eye, Clint sees Tony swallow.

It turns out he got her a set of wicked-looking throwing stars. She grins at no one in particular, then remembers to say “Thanks.”

Now Clint gulps.

“Coulson,” Tony prompts.

Coulson quickly unwraps a bulky gift from Tony, which turns out to be an espresso machine with so many buttons and dials it looks like it belongs on the space shuttle.

“You keep stealing mine.” Tony explains.

“Only because it’s the only decent coffee in the Tower,” Coulson shoots back.

“You can program that for whatever you want, flavor, temperature, strength…”

“I’d thank you, but you said it was self-defense.”

“Damn straight,” Tony mutters, but there’s a smile tugging at his lips.

Bruce is next, and he reaches for the gift on top of his pile. “It’s from Coulson,” he says, looking at the tag, then unwraps it carefully. Clint muffles his snort, knowing that Bruce is careful with everything.

When he opens it, though, his face breaks out in a rare smile. “How did you know I like Fawlty Towers?” he asks, holding up the DVD.

“Research,” Coulson replies enigmatically.

“Is it now my turn?” Thor asks, as if afraid of breaking some custom.

“Go for it, big guy,” Clint grins at him.

Thor looks at his presents for a long time before picking one. “It is from Tony.”

He unwraps it, his huge fingers surprisingly delicate, and looks puzzled at the contents. “What is this?”

“This” is the biggest toaster Clint’s ever seen in his life.

“You can toast a family-size box of Pop Tarts all at once with that,” Tony says.

He’s lucky Thor only practically wrings his hand off, although they’ve been trying to teach him to moderate his hugs.

“My turn,” Tony grins, and finally someone tears off the paper like they’re supposed to.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” he says, staring at the back of what looks like a frame.

He turns the frame around to reveal a colored-pencil sketch of Dummy in a Santa hat.

Steve coughs. “I…thought–”

“I’m hanging it up in here,” Tony cuts him off, and does, moving aside a Warhol-style portrait of himself to do it.

Steve blushes crimson. “I’m…glad you like it.”

The look Tony gives him tells Clint just how much he likes it, and only makes Steve blush redder.

“Oh, leave him alone, Tony,” Natasha says.

It’s Clint’s turn again, and he picks up Natasha’s gift with some trepidation, afraid it might explode. When he opens it, though, he almost wishes it had.

“A teddy bear, Tasha? Seriously?”

“You vetoed the White Elephant because of gag gifts!” Tony accuses her.

She ignores them both, cleaning her nails with the blade of her knife.

Thinking about it, though, Clint realizes why she got it for him. She could disguise it as a gag gift, but even when they were no longer together, he tended to wrap around her at night on missions.

He sees Coulson hiding a smile, since he’s been subjected to the same thing.

“Steve again,” Clint bites out, to stop him from making one of his deadpan comments.

Clint didn’t know what to get Steve, so settled on a book of classic movie quotes and facts. Steve seems to appreciate it, though.

Natasha’s next gift is a bottle with a bow on it. She opens it and sniffs it cautiously, and a disbelieving smile spreads across her face. “Sbiten? Where did you get this?”

Bruce scuffs a toe on the floor. “Yeah, I…tried my hand at making some. I developed a taste for it when I was in Russia, and…it’s probably not as good as what you had, but–”

She ignores him, walking out of the room into the kitchen. “Hey, what about the presents?” Clint calls after her.

“We’re taking a break!”

So they make hot cocoa, and Natasha drinks her spitten, or whatever it is. From the look on her face though, Bruce did a pretty good job with it.

When they get back to the living room about fifteen minutes later it’s Coulson’s turn, and he picks up a flat, square gift. “From Natasha.” He opens it and goes as close to gooey as he ever gets, the lines on his forehead smoothing away.

Clint cranes his neck to see what’s so special and groans internally. His masculinity won’t survive today. It’s a framed 8x10'' that Tasha must have snapped when they weren’t looking and gotten sepia toned.

He remembers that day. He’d had a close call when an army of gremlin-things with poisonous fangs descended on New York. They were riding airfoils, and one of them came at him before he could shoot it down. The bite didn’t go through his glove, but Coulson bustled him off to medical anyway and then sat him down on the couch for the rest of the day, growling if Clint so much as shifted position.

So. One teddy bear, one photo of him and Coulson snuggling. Yep, he’d lost some serious manhood-points today.

Natasha got Bruce tickets for a spa weekend. Clint’s thankful he’s not the only one whose masculinity is in peril today.

Thor opens Steve’s present, a huge pewter mug. “I doubt you can put a dent in that,” Steve says. “I couldn’t.”

Thor flicks the metal gently with a finger. It pings. “Thank you, friend Steve.”

Tony’s next gift is from Coulson. He opens it to find a pad of “Stark Industries” stationery.

“Since you keep forgetting to leave the SHIELD paper where it belongs,” Coulson says. Clint should’ve known he’d get Tony back for the Post-it-filled stocking.

Coulson’s gift for Clint is a long, flat bundle. He opens it to find a carved flat piece of wood with a small hole in it and several sticks. They smell like–

“Lavender and peppermint,” Coulson says. “They’re supposed to be soothing.”

Clint stares at him, since if there’s anything Coulson isn’t it’s New-Agey. But he had been having nightmares, more sporadic now that several months have passed, but still present. It’s possible Coulson thought this would help him.

“Thanks,” he says, touched.

Bruce got Steve a set of vintage records. “Glenn Miller! The Andrews Sisters! Ella Fitzgerald! Benny Goodman!” Steve gushes, looking through them. “Thanks, Bruce!”

Bruce smiles and nods at him. “Don’t mention it.”

Coulson got Natasha a rappelling harness. She grins and tucks it away, no doubt to try out later. Clint reminds himself to pull the blinds in their room.

Coulson picks up a small package. “From Steve.”

Almost everyone stifles grins, since they all know what Steve got him.

Clint’s almost jealous of the look on Coulson’s face as he flips through the deck of (signed) Captain America cards.

“I figured it’s the least I could do, since Fury ruined yours,” Steve says, blushing slightly.

Clint’s face darkens, remembering how livid he’d been when he found out Coulson had been in a coma and Fury had kept it from them.

But Coulson is actually speechless, so Clint nudges him.

“What do you say?”

Coulson coughs, manages a “thank you,” but doesn’t put down the cards.

The next thing Bruce unwraps is a CD from Steve. “‘Meditative American Flute.’ I’m beginning to sense a theme here,” he says dryly.

Steve coughs. “I didn’t–mean anything by it, just…”

Bruce waves a hand at him, shaking his head. “Don’t worry about it. I can use it.”

Thor’s next present (from Natasha) is a book of dating tips.

“Because, trust me, you need it.”

“Jane and I–” Thor begins.

“Are firmly a couple, yes. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t still want romance every so often.”

Thor nods gravely, thanks her, and opens the book.

From Steve, Clint gets a set of stiletto-like throwing knives, which he insists on strapping on immediately, over Coulson’s objections. Steve looks pleased.

Coulson’s gift for Steve is a record player, and Steve makes Tony turn off the carols so he can play his new records. Tony agrees only on the condition that he pick which one they listen to.

“How did you know he’d need a record player when you finished your shopping before the rest of us started?” Clint hisses at Coulson.

He shrugs. “Someone was bound to buy him records. It was logical.”

Clint’s gift to Tasha is a down comforter, since she didn’t exactly object to him snuggling her, and her feet were always cold.

When Coulson opens Clint’s gift, he stares at it for a long time, so long that Tony says “What did he get you, lube?”

Meanwhile, Clint is chiding himself for being an idiot. Yes, Coulson has a huge scar from where Loki stabbed him, but all this will do is remind him of it. It’s not like it’ll make it go away, not something that big, and even if it did, it would still be there underneath, hurting him–

Coulson holds up the tub of shea and cocoa butter ointment, labeled “Organics: Shea and Cocoa Butter Body Cream.”

And he must get what Clint meant by this, and apparently it’s the thought that counts, because Clint could swear his eyes are misty.

“Thank you for this,” he says, and Clint’s pretty sure he’s not just talking about the scar cream.

He nods, throat tight.

Bruce’s gift from Tony is a printout of a digital camera photo. He looks at it in bewilderment. “Why would you give me a picture of a mass spectrometer?”

Tony grins. “Because, Bruce, the genuine article was too big to wrap, so I left it in the lab.”

Bruce beams and gets up, looking like he’s going to rush out of the room, but Natasha restrains him with a hand on his arm. “Later.”

Thor’s gift from Coulson is also a piece of paper. “Certificate for one training session at the SHIELD facilities?”

Coulson nods. “They’re getting all new equipment next year, so they don’t care if the old gets…damaged.”

Thor laughs delightedly. “Thank you, Son of Coul!”

Bruce’s gift to Tony (which all the rest of them had agreed to) is the Platinum Package at a nearby portrait studio.

“So we can get a photo of all of us done.”

Tony snorts. “We’re superheroes, Bruce, don’t we get enough pictures taken of us?” But he carefully folds up the voucher and sets it aside.

Clint’s last gift is from Tony. Apparently he’s picked up on Clint’s love of cooking, because he got him a full set of Wüsthof knives and what looks like a month’s supply of spices. “Awesome!”

Tony grins at him. “Hey, it’s not like I didn’t have an ulterior motive. I’ll be eating what you cook.”

Steve picks up a manila envelope from the bottom of his pile, with “To Steve, Love Tony” scrawled on it.

It’s a printed article. Steve reads the headline, his jaw falling open, stares at Tony, then skims the article. “You didn’t!”

Tony smirks at him. “I did.”

Then Steve launches himself at Tony, as the rest of them gape, and plants a kiss smack on his lips.

It’s so out-of-character that Clint picks up the article, as Steve breaks away from a somewhat-stunned Tony to shake him. “I told you not to do that!”

The headline explains his bizarre behavior: “DODGERS MOVE BACK TO NEW YORK” the article declares, and, in smaller type, “Tony Stark to return team home to Brooklyn.”

Steve sits down again, somewhat red-faced. “He bought the Dodgers,” he says as explanation, then glares at Tony. “We’ll talk about this later.”

Clint whistles under his breath. He wouldn’t want to be Stark when Steve’s through with him.

They’ve unwrapped the last of the gifts, and the only sound is the crackling of the electric fireplace and the sound of trumpets and drums from the still-playing record. Coulson and Natasha go around stuffing the wrapping paper into trash bags.

“JARVIS, cue up the movie,” Tony says suddenly.

Bells ring, and a black-and-white “Liberty Films” comes up on the big-screen. Steve’s face lights up when he sees the monochrome, and he recognizes Frank Capra, if not the movie itself. He lights up further when “Starring: James Stewart” appears.

“It’s a classic,” Tony says at his borderline-adoring look. “And…I figured even if it was after your time, you’d know the actors.”

Clint settles down next to Coulson to watch the movie, as Natasha plops down on the floor in front of Thor and Bruce moves so he can see the screen.