Author's note: If you know these songs, or if you dare to look them up, I apologize for any earworms I may inflict upon you. With St. Patrick's Day approaching, I couldn't get "I'll Always Be Irish" out of my head.

As American as Irish Stew

An Avengers story

By Karen Weber

The smell of buttered popcorn and the final bars of end-credits music accompanied the Avengers as they emerged from Tony's cinema room. "Home theater" was too plebeian a term for room full of comfy armchairs and cushiony couches and a screen that covered the wall.

"That … was not a good movie," Tony said, though he actually sounded a little doubtful.

"I don't know. I thought it was sweet," Pepper said. "A little old-fashioned, but the costumes were wonderful."

"It was too long," Natasha said critically. "And it could have used better editing. It was disjointed."

"It had too many plots," Bruce agreed. "Whose choice was this?"

"Mine," Steve said. "There was a list. 'If you liked "Mary Poppins," you might like…'"

"It was no 'Mary Poppins'," Tony said decisively.

"No, but the music was by the same guys. The Sherman Brothers," Clint pointed out, as he looked up "Happiest Millionaire" on his cellphone.

"The music was the best part," Bruce agreed, and everyone nodded agreement. "But was it supposed to be a coming of age story? A romantic comedy? An immigrant makes good?"

"I liked John Lawless," Steve said, the tune of "Fortuosity" humming in his brain. "He reminded me of Mr. O'Brien when I was a kid. He came over from the Ould Country." Steve drew out the words in a well-remembered Irish accent. "Went into service like John. Saved his money, married the family cook and together they opened the best bakery in Brooklyn, at least in my corner of Brooklyn."

"I liked John, but it was Cordelia's story," Pepper said.

"Based on a book by her," Clint put in, still looking at his phone.

"'Am I Valentine's candy or boxing gloves'," Pepper quoted. "There comes a time for most girls when they stop feeling like a little girl and start feeling like a woman. The transition can be difficult."

"I didn't really like the fella hauling her off bodily at the end," Steve admitted.

"That's the old-fashioned part," Pepper agreed. "But it was what they both needed to break from their controlling families."

"Better than poisoning and stabbing like Romeo and Juliet," Tony said dryly.

"I liked the giant lizards," Thor said decisively. "I would like to wrestle one," he said wistfully.

"Alligator wrestling. That used to be a thing," Tony said. "But they'd probably call it animal cruelty these days."

Thor's face fell and nobody liked to see Thor unhappy. So Tony hastily said, "But sometimes zoos need to restrain alligators for medical treatment or to move them. I'll make a few calls …"

"I'll make a few calls," Pepper corrected. "And let some zoos know you're available if they need some muscle."

Thor brightened (as did the weather outside). The conversation turned to other topics as the team moved toward the dining room.

But the Avengers couldn't get away from "The Happiest Millionaire" just yet. Steve often caught himself humming "Fortuosity." When he felt a moment's sadness for the life he'd lost, he looked at his new teammates and reminded himself, "Sometimes castles fall to the ground, but that's where four-leaf clovers are found."

Clint heard him singing. "Man, we need to have another karaoke night."

Steve agreed that had been fun. "Still not sure about doing it in a bar full of drunks, though."

Clint laughed. "That's half the fun."

One afternoon, Steve caught Tony polishing one of his classic cars and singing under his breath. Only a super soldier could have made out the words, "It's a land where golden chariots are molded out of dreams — Detroit!"

One evening, Pepper dropped wearily into a chair after a long day arguing with stubborn board members. When asked about it, she said, "There are those, I suppose, there are those." To which Thor boisterously replied, "No shilly-shallying, no dillydallying let's have a drink on it now" and brought her a glass of wine, which made Pepper smile.

And, during sparring, Clint quite deliberately sang, "Watch your footwork. Better learn to bob and weave. 'Cause Natasha's got dynamite up her sleeve." Natasha promptly laid him flat.

"What an uppercut," she quoted dryly.

Flat on his back, Clint protested. "That wasn't an uppercut. That was a roundhouse kick."

"My mistake."

When St. Patrick's Day rolled around, Steve remembered John Lawless, which sent the song "Fortuosity" rolling through his mind on an endless loop. He was about ready to visit a probably overcrowded Irish saloon to make it stop with a few choruses of "Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." Then the Avengers were called to action.

"Too bad Big Green is in India right now. He'd fit the color scheme," Tony commented, looking at all the Irish festival's green decorations that were being tossed around by a …

"Is that a giant leprechaun?" Clint asked incredulously.

It was a huge man in a leprechaun's green top hat and coat. He had badly dyed red hair and a beard and he flailed about with a knobbed stick a full eight feet long.

"He's just my size," Thor announced. "I'll get him." The thunder god leaped to grapple before anyone could protest.

The leprechaun lashed out with his stick. There was a green flash and Thor went flying backwards, plowing through two festival tents, narrowly missing the pony ride, and crashing through a brick wall out of sight.

"Jarvis, what was that?" Tony demanded.

"Unable to analyze," the AI answered. "It corresponds with no known energy signature."

"Ugh. Magic," Clint commented.

The leprechaun went back to smashing the festival, sending people scattering. Iron Man soared up to catch a clown tossed three stories in the air.

"That's not funny!" Tony snarked at the villain.

The man smashed a food truck flat with his cudgel, then knocked over the Ferris wheel. Iron Man dropped the clown and caught the Ferris wheel. The clown landed on his feet, kicked off his floppy shoes and sprinted away, snatching two little kids out of the path of flying debris as he ran.

"Get the civilians clear," Captain America ordered the other Avengers. He leaped up on a car into view of the villain. "Who are you? What do you want? Why are you hurting these people?"

"I am the Shillelagh!" the man announced dramatically.

Steve heard Clint snort over the coms.

The Shillelagh ranted, "These people mock the Irish with their clowns and corn dogs. They have forgotten our people's struggle. They've forgotten what it means to be Irish. And you," his eyes narrowed at Cap. "You are the worst of all. You have abandoned your Irish heritage. You flaunt this red, white and blue."

If Shillelagh wanted to focus on him, Steve was happy to oblige. He said so to his team.

"Ware, captain," Thor said. "His stick packs a punch."

"Are you all right?" Natasha asked.

"Aye, I'll be back with you as soon as I extricate myself from this rubble." Crashing noises came from the direction where Thor had disappeared. "It will be just a moment."

"My parents were starving in Ireland," Steve told Shillelagh while the Avengers rescued festival visitors. "They came to America for a better life, but they never forgot where they came from. They couldn't forget when they were scorned in the U.S. and relegated to second-class citizenship. St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in New York to remind Americans about the contributions the Irish have made to this country."

"And now they serve tacos," Shillelagh sneered. He advanced on Steve, using his shillelagh to whack another food truck out of his way. The flying debris kept Iron Man busy, while the Black Widow and Hawkeye hustled people out of the way.

"Time for a donnybrook," Shillelagh snarled at Cap with a gleeful smile.

Steve didn't want to fight. Too many people were likely to be hurt if there was a super powered battle right here. But it didn't seem that Shillelagh was leaving him a choice.

Shillelagh whacked his cudgel on his hand, sending up green sparks. "Let's see if Captain America can fight like an Irishman."

Then, bizarrely, a song from "Happiest Millionaire" began playing in Steve's head. He laughed, which made Shillelagh pause in puzzlement. OK, Steve would make confusion work for him.

"Thor, you remember the songs from the movie last week?" Steve asked, puzzling the Avengers.

"Of course, they have scarce left my mind," the Asgardian said.

"Then wait for your cue. I'm going to cause a distraction." Cap pointed at Shillelagh. "You think I'm not Irish because I wear this country's colors? I'll tell you how Irish I am!"

And he began to sing: "I'll always be Irish, 'cause that's how I began. I'll always be Irish. I'll say that to any man. And when I'm an American. I'll be a good one too. I'll be truly as American as Irish stew."

Cap winked and said, "Ask for Irish stew in Ireland and see what you get. In Ireland, all the stew is Irish!"

Shillelagh stood mouth agape as Cap danced a little jig on the roof of the car, then slid down the windshield to the hood, drawing Shillelagh's eye away from Natasha slipping past to help people hiding behind the crafts booths. Steve leaped from the car and spiraled around a lamppost to the ground. Shillelagh couldn't take his eyes off Cap's capering, allowing Clint to calm the ponies and extricate them from the remains of their tent.

Steve could see Thor coming up behind the flabbergasted Shillelagh, so he took up John Lawless' song again. "I'll always be Irish. A fact I'll not deny. I'll always be Irish. And I'll hold me head up high. I'll wear the green St. Patty's Day. And yet for all of that. I'll be truly as American as Casey At The Bat!"

Steve shouted the last words and ducked. Mjolnir flew to strike Shillelagh's cudgel. The two magic weapons met in a blinding flash of green lightning. The wooden cudgel shattered into splinters and the oversized leprechaun was flung high into the air, like the debris he'd batted aside, and Iron Man caught him just like the rubble.

Without his cudgel, the dazed and docile Shillelagh proved to be just a mentally ill man who had somehow been spirited out of an institution. The Avengers handed him over to the authorities.

"It was green magic," Natasha commented. "Think it was Loki?"

"Perhaps," Thor sighed sadly.

"None of that," said Tony, now out of his armor. "We won the battle and kept any innocent people and ponies from getting hurt. Now it's time to feast. How does corned beef and cabbage sound?"

Cap laughed. "That's not really Irish food, Tony."

"No, it's pure New York," Tony retorted. "What's your point, Captain Irish-American?"

"No point," Steve admitted. "Corned beef sounds good to me."

"Nobly spoken," Thor said, then he brightened when he remembered his own favorite John Lawless song. "And green beer," he said. "No shilly-shallying, no dillydallying, let's have a drink on it now!"

A/N: Since this was pre-VCRs, we played the cast album over and over when we were kids, so when my sister and I watched the movie the other day, I was surprised how many of the songs stuck in my head. And, yeah, I'll have to write the karaoke story now that I thought of it. Happy St. Patrick's Day!