It was Steve's idea.
It jumped into his head after he had spent the evening watching Clint playing Call of Duty, Tony on his IPad and Thor staring at the microwave.
The Avengers apart from Tony, were all sitting around the large rectangular breakfast table in the middle of Tony's kitchen, eating cereal when Steve left Stark Tower early the next morning; muttering about how his evenings weren't like that when he was a boy.
Tony was slouching against the counter top, drinking a mug of black coffee the consistency of tar and mourning the lack of a bacon sandwich that the Captain aways made him first thing in the morning.
They were all used to Steve's comparisons of modern life to the good ol' days and let him go without a word.
They were still sitting there, when Steve returned with a brightly coloured box. He slammed it down in the middle of the table, almost knocking over the milk jug, splashing Bruce's paperwork and making him jump, which wasn't the best idea. An appearance of the Other Guy would not be helpful at that time in the morning.
Clint and Natasha ignored the interruption, their heads so close together, that no-one could hear their whispers.
Thor poked the box gingerly and looked relieved when it didn't move.
"What is this Midgardian trickery Captain?"
"It's a puzzle"
"We know that" snapped Tony, still cross about the bacon sandwich "What is it doing here?"
"We have so much technology, that I thought we should have something simple in this place."
"Something you can do, you mean."
Everyone in the room gave Tony a dirty look for the snide comment, which Steve didn't hear or refused to respond to.
"It's a 2000 piece picture of us. I thought it might be fun. Everyone loves a puzzle."
Steve left the puzzle on the table and that was where it stayed for days, weeks, months. They just ate around it, planned missions around it and ignored it. Determined to prove the Captain wrong.
Bruce was the first one to cave in.
It was late one night after a few intense hours in the lab. He'd blearily got himself some coffee and saw the box on the table, still in it's plastic wrapping.
"Shouldn't take me long." he mused "It would be satisfying to improve my other cognitive abilities."
He opened the puzzle and tipped out the pieces on the table. He proceeded to find the corners and the edges. By the time Steve had come down for breakfast, the edges were done and all the colours were in neat little piles.
"How long have you been up?" Steve enquired
"Would you like some help?"
"I'd like some coffee."
"How about some pancakes as well" Steve grinned, pleased that at last someone was enjoying his gift.
After completing the pancakes, he turned to see Tony putting the pieces of Iron Man together. He was not the type of person to be left out of the next big thing, even if it was a very old concept. He was methodical and precise, pressing all the pieces together gently. Not a hint of his usual impatience with electrical gadgetry.
Thor munched pop-tarts by the toaster, eyeing the progress skeptically.
"We do not have such frivolity on Asgard. This is a futile endeavor, Man of Iron. What is the point of it, where is the battle?"
"It's called fun, Thor. Give it a go" He handed Thor a piece of what looked like Mjolnir. "Just put the piece where it goes"
Steve felt warm on the inside, a glow of importance.
Thor, stared at the puzzle, like it could bite him at any moment. He placed the piece where he thought it should go.
"Why does it not fit, friend Tony?"
"Try somewhere else or another piece." Tony said dismissively, concentrating on his portrait.
"It should fit, yet it does not" Thor bellowed at it, like it would automatically change shape for him as he was a God.
When it didn't, he slammed his fist on the table, making the puzzle jump and the loose pieces move a few inches to the left and fall on the floor. He stormed over to the toaster and stuffed more pop-tarts in his mouth in anger. The rest of the Avengers expected lightening to come out of his hands or some other crazy God thing. When it didn't, they went back to the puzzle.
"Who cracked first?" came a voice from a silver steel air duct on the ceiling, about 10 feet up and to the right of the table.
"Banner" Everyone answered, not bothering to look up.
They knew it was Clint and not an intruder. What they didn't know was how long he'd been up there. They'd given up asking.
The archer opened a grate and stuck his head out.
"Is Iron Man the only Avenger?
"Shut it Legolas."
"This calls for a Hawks eye view. Hey Tasha"
He suddenly noticed the redhead stepping into the room, looking immaculate as usual. She went to the fridge, poured herself some orange juice and closed the door quietly.
"Clint, get out of the ceiling and eat something." She said, without looking in his direction.
"Looking as delectable as always, Ms Romanoff." Purred Tony
Thor and Steve raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Knowing there was no point chastising him for his treatment of women. It had never worked.
"Bite me Stark"
Before Tony had time to elicit his usual response of 'where', a torrent of Russian bore down from above him.
"What did he say?"
"Something about arrows, sleeping and some other words you wouldn't want me to repeat in polite company"
Natasha sat next to Bruce and sipped her orange juice.
"What's going on? No-one can spar with me today."
She picked up a puzzle piece with distain. "Who has time to do puzzles?"
"Us evidently." Said Bruce, finishing Captain America's shield.
"No orders to assemble from Fury." Tony said with a mouthful of pancake. "Yet"
He was relishing in the fact that Pepper was on holiday and wasn't there to scrutinise his every move. Mostly with disapproval.
"Top left" Clint spoke from his vantage point.
"Put that puzzle piece in the top left, underneath the letter S"
Natasha instantly where to put the piece, not having to ask for any more direction. They had worked together way too long.
Steve grinned with pride as he placed more pancakes on the table. He knew that they could live without technology for one morning. It was just like Christmas, when he was small.
Each using their strengths or in Thor's case not using them; to work together. Just like in battle, but with less blood and bullets. His team, his family.
"You coming to help Capsicle? This was your lame ass idea."
Tony broke him out of his revere, just as a puzzle piece flew over his head.
He pushed himself into the throng of shouting and laughing, enjoying every minute of it.
Eventually, Clint flew from his nest in the ceiling, doing a front somersault on the way down, just because he could. He landed softly on the wooden floor and got a pancake shoved at him by his Widow. He smothered it with maple syrup and ate it in two bites, much to Natasha's disgust.
With five Avengers helping and one watching on disapprovingly, the puzzle was finished.
"Shall I get another one?" Steve suggested, as he surveyed the finished masterpiece.
"NO!" Came the Avenger chorus
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