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On The Road

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When Fury first tells him who he’s going to be sharing a car with, Coulson has to struggle to keep his face impassive, if only because Tony Goddamn Stark. But he quickly realises that the only thing worse than Tony Goddamn Stark in an enclosed space for several hours is Tony Goddamn Stark in an enclosed space for several hours with Bruce Banner, and he almost thanks Fury for deciding to take two separate cars instead of one people mover, because he simply could not have handled the stress.

Coulson decides not to text Tony or any of the others to tell them that he’s coming. He doesn’t want them to be able to organise a defence.

Steve answers the door, and waves him in. Coulson explains the situation and, thank God for Steve, because he doesn’t argue, just grimaces a little bit.

Thor, in turn, seems positively excited with the concept of going on a road trip with ‘Phil, Son of Coul’.

Coulson enters the pass code and opens the door to Tony’s lab.

Coulson insists that, no, Tony is not allowed to take his private jet, or fly there in his suit. Officially, this is because Fury wants to keep things as normal as possible for the suits in Washington. Unofficially, they don’t want Tony to have a quick means of escape.

Tony refuses to leave his lab. Coulson heads back upstairs and helps himself to some of Tony’s presumably expensive scotch.

Somehow, Steve must have convinced Tony to join them, because just as Coulson is pouring his third glass of scotch, they emerge. Tony is even wearing a suit and tie.

Tony and Steve climb into the back without protest, leaving Thor riding shotgun.

Tony asks why he couldn’t have just flown there in his suit for the sixth time, and insults Coulson’s car for the tenth time.

Coulson wishes he had thought to bring along Tony’s bottle of scotch.

Coulson looks into the back to find Tony trying to pry his hand rest off his door. ADD, Coulson thinks. Doesn’t anyone else realise how much of a damn liability that man is?

Steve is excited to find out that they’re about to drive through the ‘new Lincoln Tunnel’. An enthusiasm not shared by Thor, who, after a brief and disastrous attempt to use the Subway, has developed an intense hatred for being underground.

They exit the tunnel, and Thor unclenches his grip on Mjolnir.

Steve prys the handrest off Tony’s door for him. Tony is fiddling about in the wiring behind it. Coulson thinks about asking him to stop, but at least he’s keeping quiet.

Thor has his head stuck out of the passenger window like a dog.

Tony pulls a phone from his pocket, and begins filleting it for parts to add to the wiring inside the car door. Coulson becomes slightly nervous.

Tony reattaches the handrest and looks smug.

Thor becomes disenfranchised with having his head out of the window after swallowing, and nearly choking on, a bug. He looks rather sullen.

After a few minutes contemplation, Thor declares the bug to have been a more worthy foe than most he has faced on Midgard, and returns to his usual chipper self.

Using an app on his tablet, Tony is now able to roll the car windows up and down at will. It is a small yet irritating protest.

Coulson winds his window up.

Coulson winds his window up again.

Coulson gives up and leaves his window down.

There is a grand total of one minutes silence before Tony asks him to put on some music, for the love of God.

Tony vetos all of Coulson’s CDs.

Tony plugs in his ipod without argument, Thor and Steve not really caring about the music and Coulson preferring to keep Tony happy and thus less likely to further hijack the car.

Steve somehow knows all of the lyrics to Rock You Like A Hurricane. Coulson wonders just how much time he has been spending down in Tony’s lab.

Back in Black plays. Coulson catches himself humming under his breath, and stops immediately.

Thor’s stomach grumbles loudly enough to be heard over the car stereo, and Coulson makes the decision to stop at the next gas station for food.

And maybe a bathroom break.

Coulson emerges from the bathroom to find that Thor is buying out the gas station’s entire supply of pop tarts, and most of the candy. The cashier looks slightly terrified as he rings up the purchases.

Steve, in turns, buys four sandwiches.

They rejoin Tony in the car, who had steadfastly refused to leave. Coulson hates to think of what he has been up to.

Coulson catches Tony eating one of Steve’s sandwiches. Steve looks smug.

Thor eats all of the pop tarts, raw, within the space of a few minutes.

Coulson taps his fingers on the steering wheel impatiently while Thor is throwing up by the side of the road. Somewhere nearby, a cow moos.

They resume driving.

Star Spangled Man plays. Tony lunges towards his ipod to change the track, and Steve goes red.

Thor regales them with tales of Asgard. Most of them involve drinking, and, Coulson begins to notice, disturbingly close relations with Loki.

An awkward silence falls.

Steve suggests a game of ‘I Spy!’

Thor goes absolutely fucking mental about ‘I Spy’.

Coulson can’t help but join in.

Tony’s lying, Coulson knows that the ‘w’ stood for ‘window’.

Steve guesses correctly with ‘wing-mirror’. Coulson fumes silently, but he can’t deny that the two are working as an efficient team, and it would kind of go against his job to rebuke them for that.

Everyone (except Thor) grows suddenly tired of 'I Spy' and the game fizzles out.

The car is silent except for Tony’s quiet tapping on his tablet.

Steve falls asleep, head back against the seat, neck at a horrible angle.

Thor spys something beginning with ‘c’.

Tony thinks that it’s probably ‘clock’, but doesn’t say anything.

Coulson thinks that it’s probably ‘clock’, but doesn’t say anything.

Coulson looks back to see that Steve, still asleep, has slumped into a more comfortable position: against Tony’s shoulder. Tony glares at Coulson, and he keeps his mouth shut.

Thor reveals that is was, in fact, ‘clock’.

Thor pauses Tony’s ipod and starts singing Asgardian drinking songs at the top of his lungs. Coulson can feel a headache brewing.

Steve is startled awake, blushing.

They arrive, thank God, before Thor can start on his third Asgardian drinking song. Coulson contemplates whether he could switch Thor for Natasha on the ride back, but instantly decides against it.

Coulson is thankful that he has a few days to recover before the return journey, as he catches Tony winding down all the windows of the now parked car to let the rain in.


Artwork by the wonderful Harriet.