In the months immediately following what Tony liked to call 'The Day Shit Almost Went Down But Didn't Because Of Tony Stark's Heroic Bravery And Stunning Pectorals', S.H.I.E.L.D decided that it would be for the best if all the Avengers were to stay in one location.
You could be forgiven for assuming that they would choose a top secret military base as the location for the greatest slumber party of all time, but apparently the safest building in the country at that time was Stark Towers.
There had been much protesting about this. Tony, at first, had been reluctant to give up the use of four whole floors of his building, saying that the introduction of a communal area greatly reduced the number of surfaces available for copulation. Steve had been worried that Tony would decide to copulate on these surfaces anyway, and he didn't want to be witness to that. Bruce, bless him, had been afraid of 'hulking out' in Tony's home and didn't want to cause millions of dollars worth of irreparable damage. Tony had patted him on the head and reassured him that he was Tony Stark, bitch, and nothing was irreparable on his watch. Heck, he'd even repaired his watch and added a voice activated egg timer. He didn't even like eggs. Natasha hadn't wanted to live somewhere with people she was likely to want to assassinate after ten minutes, but was eventually persuaded on the promise that she'd have her own room. She later demanded her own floor, and her demands were met after a long standoff involving origami swans and paperclips. Clint was afraid of being caged. Tony responded by taking offence at this, assuming Clint thought his home was small. Clint wanted an easy life and accepted.
Thor was a different matter. S.H.I.E.L.D soon found out that it was a lot harder to contain a demi-god from another world than one might at first expect. They relied on plan B.
Plan B was Tony Stark.
Tony Stark resents being plan B. He isn't happy being anything but plan A, and he definitely isn't keen on being named after a form of birth control. Regardless, he performs his role with cunning and aplomb.
It's been an idea long in the making, Tony thinks. There'll always be consumer demand for Pop Tarts, and that consumer demand will more than likely double each day Thor was on Earth. The revelation comes to Tony some three months after TDSAWDBDBOTSHBASP.
The Avengers have been living in Stark Towers for a month. Thor has been flitting back and forth between Asgard and Midgard like a fickle mosquito and it's starting to give Tony a headache. One morning - well, 2pm - Tony rises from his beauty sleep and stumbles into the kitchen, where he's greeted by a rather odd sight indeed.
Thor is sat at the kitchen table in front of a plate piled at least a metre high with Pop Tarts. Bruce, dishevelled and sweaty, is slaving over a hot toaster. Steve sits at the breakfast bar, doodling. Tony definitely remains completely 100% oblivious to the fact that the super soldier serum apparently allows the recipient to look dashing even in sweatpants.
"What in the name of Thor's biceps is going on?" Tony asks. Bruce looks at him, wild-eyed and desperate.
"Pop Tarts," he replies. Tony takes a sip of the coffee he'd had JARVIS make him as a wake-up call.
"I can see that," he says. "But how, what, when and why? I don't need to ask who, obviously."
"Whom," Steve corrects, shading an area of paper so darkly that Tony thinks he might be drawing his soul.
"I have discovered that there is indeed no such thing as too much of a good thing!" Thor announces, stuffing a Pop Tart into his mouth. Tony raises an eyebrow.
"You should try ecstasy," he quips. Bruce looks alarmed. Tony raises his hands in mock surrender.
"Thor's eaten, at last count, seventy-eight of them," Steve continues. Tony's eyes widen.
"Seventy eight?" he repeats. Steve nods.
"Seventy nine, now," he says. Sure enough, Thor has crammed another into his mouth. His beard now appears to consist more of crumbs than hair.
"Where did he get them all?" Tony asks. Bruce makes a choking sound.
"The store," he whispers. "I was there at opening time, bang on 6am."
Tony pats Bruce on the shoulder.
"And you've been on toaster duty ever since?"
Bruce nods fearfully.
"It's true," says the toaster. "I have been at full capacity since approximately 0624 hours. I can't help but feel as though I should be above this."
"You're getting far too cheeky for your own good," says Tony. "And you're not above anything. You're a toaster."
"The toaster talks?" Steve asks, putting down his pencil. Tony grins.
"Sure it does," he replies. "This is Stark Tower. If it can talk, it talks. If it can calculate missile trajectories, it calculates missile trajectories. If it can cook eighty Pop Tarts, then it can... oh. Oh. There's an idea."
Steve swings his legs over the stool and faces Tony, meeting his eye with a confused glare.
"What's an idea?" he asks carefully.
Tony shrugs, standing on tip-toes and stealing the top Pop Tart from Thor's mountainous plate. Thor glares at him.
"Pop Tart Toaster," Tony replies. "JARVIS, tell me how brilliant I am."
"Beyond words, sir," the voice of JARVIS replies. Tony beams. Steve raises an eyebrow.
"Did you configure it to say that?" he asks. Tony takes another Pop Tart and shrugs. He chooses to ignore the 'it'. It's not like Steve is exactly well-versed in AI pronouns.
"I programmed JARVIS to always tell the truth," he answers. "JARVIS, JARVIS, in the walls, who is the fairest of them all?"
"That would be either Captain Rogers or Thor Odinson, sir, if I am to take into account the results of public research polls and scientific research on facial symmetry," JARVIS answers. Tony looks at Steve. Steve raises an eyebrow.
"I guess I got a few wires crossed." Tony shrugs, reaching up to take another Pop Tart. Thor moves the plate out of his reach.
"Friend Tony, if you attempt to steal another, I will be forced to warn you off with Mjolnir," he states. Tony sighs.
"You're going to eat me out of house and home, you know," he says. "But I can fix that. Give me two hours."
He leaves the kitchen to the sounds of Steve's incredulous laughter and Bruce's terrified sobs.
JARVIS announces the return of Tony Stark to the kitchen area with the custom fanfare Tony has chosen; Justin Timberlake's 'Sexyback'. He had been worried when he programmed it that it would become tiresome eventually. So far, after six months, it's still as hilarious as ever. He still needs to think of fanfares to announce the arrival of the other Avengers. He's currently stuck on ideas for Bruce. 'Relax' is the obvious suggestion, but he's not sure how comfortable Bruce would be having his entrance to any room announced by a song about sexual patience. An uncomfortable Bruce often means broken furniture and months of nightmares, so he's decided to hold off on that one.
Tony stalks triumphantly into the kitchen, carrying a silver box about the size of a toaster, perhaps slightly smaller. Bruce looks at it as though it might contain Hope itself. Steve seems wary. Thor is too focused on his one hundred and eighth Pop Tart (Tony has asked JARVIS to keep count) to notice.
"I come bearing gifts," Tony announces. He pauses. "Well. A gift. Although if you count the gift of my presence, then yeah. Plural."
He sets the silver box down on the table and beams. The rest of the room wait for an explanation. When it doesn't come, Steve rises to the challenge.
"What is it?" he asks, carefully.
"It's a Pop Tart Toaster," Tony replies. Bruce looks confused.
"All toasters are Pop Tart toasters," he says. "That's the point of Pop Tarts. You toast them. In toasters. I may be a genius, Stark, but even Thor has realised that."
"Ah, but this is a special kind of toaster," he explains. He presses a small red button on the side of the Pop Tart Toaster, and a silver tray slides out, reminscent of a compact disk tray on the computers Tony likes to look at in museums sometimes. "Look. You put the ingredients of a Pop Tart in here – namely sugar, happiness and rainbows, although you should read the pack for further information – and within five minutes, this little baby has whipped you up the perfect breakfast treat, toasted to, well, perfection. Et voila. The Pop Tart Toaster. No need for Banner to trek to the store at 6am every morning to stock up."
Thor looks at it curiously.
"You can touch it," Tony says. "Only in context, though."
Steve picks up the nearest empty Pop Tart box.
"Do we even have all these ingredients?" he asks. "It looks like a whole lot of flavouring and artificial colours to me."
"That's the joy of chemistry," Tony beams. "This little beauty does all that for you."
Steve seems unconvinced.
"It doesn't sound all that healthy," he says. Tony shrugs.
"It's not," he agrees. "But no-one eats Pop Tarts because they want perfect abs worthy of Captain America."
He turns to Bruce.
"I hereby relinquish you of toaster duty," he says, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder. "I have intentionally designed this so that even a dog could use it. I'm pretty sure Thor's capable of shoving some ingredients into a tray and waiting for a few seconds."
Thor demonstrates his capabilities by promptly shoving an entire Pop Tart into the tray. Tony sighs.
"OK, so perhaps there's a few design kinks that need to be worked out," he admits. "But the premise is there."
Steve raises an eyebrow.
"You are insane," he says. "I am living in a mental home. I'm going to wake up tomorrow and find that I'm being tube fed with all the other crackpots."
"That's offensive," Tony replies.
"THAT'S offensive," Steve says, pointing to the crumb-filled Pop Tart Toaster.
"I take umbrage at that," says the Pop Tart Toaster.
"I've created a monster," Tony groans.
Thor quietly eats another Pop Tart. Bruce pats Tony on the head.
"I've been relieved of my duties," he says. "I'll just leave you and Frankenstein the toaster over there to your romantic dinner."
"JARVIS," Tony asks, as Bruce skips out of the kitchen, a free man at last. "Why do I do this to myself?"
JARVIS is silent for a few seconds.
"There is a 67% probability that there is no logical reason," comes the eventual response.
Steve claps Tony on the shoulder.
"Bon appétit," he says.