Title : An Avenger's Guide to Owling

Fandom : The Avengers

Rating : PG-13

Written for the fic_promptly prompt : Avengers/Thor, Thor, owling

Disclaimer : All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

An Avenger's Guide to Owling

Steve isn't quite sure what to make of Thor's current position or the look of absolute concentration on his face, but he stands back and watches for a while and Thor doesn't move a muscle. He steps quietly back inside and decides it must be some kind of meditation thing.

When he sees Thor later, he's poring over a map of the city. He seems to be looking for something and so Steve moves closer, offering his help, after all, he does know the city, even if some of that knowledge is a bit outdated.

"I am looking for a statue," Thor said emphatically.

"A statue? Of what? Or who?"

"It matters not what or who, only that it be prominent and that there be a flat area on the topmost part," Thor explained.

Steve frowned.

"I must owl."

Steve's frown turned to a look of complete bafflement. "You must what?"

"Owl. 'Tis an important Midgardian custom that Master Clint was telling me about the other day. He said that I should practise this custom in order to gain respect amongst the Midgardian peoples."

"I've never heard of a custom to do with owls. I mean you don't even find them around here. You'd need to be out in the wilds at night to see an owl." His comment drew a returned frown from Thor. "I don't think you're going to find one no matter how long you wait outside like that. I'll ask Tony about it, just in case. He'll know."

****** THE AVENGERS ******

"Captain Rogers is at the door," JARVIS interrupted Tony's running monologue as he worked on his latest schematics.

Tony looked up, waved and Steve came in looking worried. Concerned by his expression, Tony tapped at his communicator as if it had faulted out and he hadn't received some important message. "Something wrong?" he asked, now tapping at his phone which also wasn't showing any missed calls or messages. "I haven't heard anything. I'm not ignoring messages or anything. There's been nothing at all. Has there, JARVIS?"

"No sir, there have been no communications since you came down here."

"What? Oh no, that's alright, it's not you . . . it's Thor, I'm worried about . . . or maybe Clint because he's the one who told Thor about it. . . I think . . ." He sighed. "I think they're mistaken about something, but I guess, I couldn't be absolutely certain that it wasn't me, so you know, I thought I could ask you and you could . . . clarify the misunderstanding?" His face showed such a look of hopefulness that Tony found himself hopeful that he could help too.

That was a new one. He couldn't let Steve know that pulling 'that face' hit something approaching heart-strings and made him want to do whatever Steve asked. He'd never live that down and if Steve pulled it in meetings – Argh! It didn't even bear thinking about!

"Yeah, guess I could try," he said off-handedly. "I mean, between you and Thor it's debatable which of you is the most out of touch. Where's Jane? Couldn't you have asked her?"

"She's out of town or I would have tried . . . Thor is practising 'Owling' which he seems to think is an Earth custom that he needs to master. I've just managed to delay him because he was poring over a map trying to find a suitable statue to 'Owl' from! I've tried to explain that there is no such custom but then I began to have my doubts, but I mean it's not like he's going to spot an owl in the middle of the city, is it?"

Tony bit his cheek, trying not to actually burst into laughter at Steve's sincerity. He turned away and ran a hand over his face, trying to calm down before turning back and saying, "Owls . . . Actual owls have um. . . nothing to do with owling." He allowed himself a grin at Steve and hoped that he took it in good heart. "Owling . . . yeah it's not exactly a 'custom' as such . . . more of a . . . stupid thing that teenagers get up to?"

Steve's eyes widened in horror.

"You know what planking is, right?"

"I dread to think!"

"Of course you don't . . . It's lying down and looking like a plank of wood."

"Well that doesn't sound too bad," Steve nodded.

Tony let out a hmmm as he considered what to say next. "It tends to be frowned upon in sane society." Steve frowned as he leaned in closer as if eager to hear what was said next. "The lying down tends to happen in places that common sense would tell you not to lie down in – like the edge of balconies, between balconies, over the top of statues and stuff like that. Not seen as a good thing at all, particularly as it's often seen as a good idea after a few drinks which impairs the participant's sense of balance and judgement."

Steve's expression changed to one of horror at the image Tony was portraying.

"Right, so owling is its younger cousin so to speak. It involves perching like an owl somewhere really public while you have your photo taken. Look . . ." He turned to the computer before him, rapidly bringing up pictures of people owling. "The good thing about it is less people feel the need to be drunk before they do it!"

"And it's not a custom? Just a . . . prank?"

"That's a really good way to put it," Tony agreed. "Probably not something you want Thor doing in public. I mean he's not going to be in danger of falling or anything but still someone will see him and it'll be all over the internet and then you'll be dealing with all the bad press because loads of stupid kids saw Thor do it and thought it was a good idea and they fell and broke arms, legs, hell knowing how stupid kids can be their necks aren't out of the question."

"I have to stop him! And Clint!" Steve turned to head for the door.

Tony called from behind him, "I'd give up on Clint not doing it – it's kind of in his job description – with the whole archery gig, plus he's not stupid enough to have his own photo taken doing a prank like that. Coulson and Fury would have his guts if he was. . . Maybe you need to work more on the not setting Thor up?"

****** THE AVENGERS ******

So the conversation with Clint and Thor did not go quite as well as Steve had hoped. Thor had, thankfully, promised not to owl in public and to avoid getting his photo taken in the light of the ensuing bad press. Clint was somewhat less repentant, still seeing the whole thing as a joke and saying that how was he to know that Thor was actually foolish enough to try it.

The ensuing argument between the two men had not been pretty and by the time Steve had got Thor calmed down enough from being called foolish that Clint felt honor-bound to apologize, they were all late for a meeting with Director Fury and Agent Coulson and none of them really wanted to explain the reasons behind that.

As they left the meeting, Thor leaned closer to Steve and said, completely unsubtly, "In future I shall trust no words from Master Clint's mouth and shall always check with Jane or yourself about the veracity of Midgardian customs."

Steve almost groaned aloud as he heard Director Fury call out, "Captain Rogers, if you would be so kind as to stay behind for a few moments, there are a few matters that I wish to discuss with you."

Tony patted him on the arm as he passed and gave him a sympathetic grin. "The price of leadership, my friend . . . it's the price of leadership."