"What's all this, then?" Steve asks, looking up from his sketch as Wanda and Natasha work their way through the door one after the other, smiling and breathless and each with their arms laden down under bulging shopping bags.
"They had a post-Memorial Day sale on sweets," Wanda shrugs, her voice an apology but her smile implying strongly otherwise.
"Please tell me that's not all candy," Sam says with a raised eyebrow as the two make their way to the coffee table and start covering the surface with their haul.
"It might be," Natasha winks.
"I bought a dress..." Wanda murmurs with a ducked head and flushed cheeks.
"Hey, every girl needs at least one fancy outfit in her wardrobe, even if only for herself," Natasha says, half reassurance, half scolding. "Besides, you still came in under budget."
"You were supposed to get groceries," Steve reprimands Natasha gently, peering into one of the bags. He can feel his eyebrow slowly climbing his forehead as the assassin beams.
"Oh, we got those too. I'm about to recruit some of you boys to come help carry things. We just figured we'd bring the important stuff up first."
"You two do realize that I'm going to judge you based on what you brought back, right?" Clint asks, all but stuffing his head into the nearest bag. He rustles around for a second before letting out a laugh that is downright maniacal, and Natasha smirks.
"I'm rather offended that you would even doubt me."
"Holy shit," is Scott's contribution to the conversation a second later as he enters the room, and Steve doesn't have to do more than send a saccharine grin in the man's direction to have Scott muttering to himself and fishing a dollar out of his pocket as he heads for the bulging swear jar.
Yes, Steve thinks to himself as he watches Scott struggle to fit the bill through the slit in the lid, he is definitely going to have to buy himself something really nice before this trip is over.
But there will be plenty of time to decide what that will be later.
"How many more bags are in the car?" he asks Natasha.
"About two trips worth. Or one, if the person is feeling reeeeeeeeally showoffish."
"Challenge accepted," Bucky smirks, holding a hand up for Natasha to toss him the keys.
"Go get 'em, tiger," the assassin smirks, fishing the key ring out of her pocket before tossing it to the man and heading into the kitchen to put what looks like a carton of ice cream in the freezer.
Wanda digs through one of the bags, drawing out what appears to be a red sundress before spiriting the article of clothing off to her room.
Clint begins emptying the bags onto the table eagerly as Sam lowers himself to the far side of the sofa that Steve is on, and a moment later the archer drops back into the middle seat of the couch between them with a groan.
The assassin makes her way back into the room as Scott moves to perch on the arm of the sofa, the man leaning in to see the impressive spread of candy displayed on the little coffee table before them all.
"Please tell me you got Kit Kats," the thief asks, glancing up with a hopeful expression. Natasha simply answers by pointing to one of the yet-un-emptied bags, and Scott is quick to dive in.
Steve watches as Natasha scans the full couch for a moment with a raised eyebrow, sparing a half-hearted glance at the open sofa on the opposite side of the little living room before she instead takes three casual paces that put her directly in front of him.
He doesn't have a chance to react as she presses her fingers to his shoulder and applies gentle pressure to tip him back, the assassin turning and settling herself in his lap with a casual familiarity that makes him flush.
"Natasha, really? There's an open seat right there," he mutters into the back of her head as she lounges against his chest.
"Yes, but everyone else is over here," she shrugs.
"Not a good excuse."
"Seems perfectly valid to me," she counters with a grin.
Steve grumbles a final little complaint for appearances' sake but makes no move to relocate her.
Wanda comes back into the room barely a second later and makes a small noise that is half distress, half insult as she finds herself without a seat, but with a glance at Natasha the younger girl decides to simply remedy the problem in the same manner.
"Oh, God, Wanda," Clint groans as the girl climbs up onto the sofa and nestles herself between the archer and Steve, mostly on top of Clint.
"Well I'm not gonna be the only one left out!" she protests.
"Yeah Clint," Sam chimes in with a grin. "Are you really gonna make her sit all alone on the other sofa? You big meanie."
Bucky comes back upstairs before the archer can respond, staggering through the door with about forty grocery bags hooked over his remaining arm, the handle of another clenched in his teeth.
"Thought you said this was one trip," he manages around the plastic, stumbling toward the kitchen as Steve unsuccessfully tries to smother a chuckle.
"Hey, Wanda could have gotten it in one trip," Natasha points out with a barely-hidden smile.
"Yeah but she can also pick up the whole car with one hand," Bucky points out, finally releasing the bag in his teeth as he carefully lets the other shopping bags come to rest across the kitchen floor.
"I never specified that it would be one trip for you," the assassin counters.
Bucky simply sticks his tongue out at her before turning to begin sorting the few cold groceries away into the fridge.
The feel of movement to his right draws Steve's attention back to the sofa, where Clint is trying to relocate Wanda to a slightly better position on their over-crowded sofa.
"Kid, you have a bony ass," the archer laughs, shifting the little witch slightly as he gives her an exaggerated grimace.
"Swear jar," Steve interjects before Wanda can respond, and Clint lets out a groan.
"Sofa was too crowded anyway," the man mutters, struggling to get up.
Wanda lets out a little squeak of protest as Clint dumps her forward on her stomach across Natasha's lap, and the assassin absently starts stroking a hand through the girl's dark hair as she watches Clint untangle his limbs from the pile with a smirk.
Bucky is quick to dart in and take over Clint's position on the sofa beside Steve, a bare moment before the archer manages to force his bill into the tight-packed swear jar.
"So what did we get, besides half the store?" his best friend asks with a grin, tapping his fingers against his leg as he glances between the bags eagerly.
Scott replies with a mumble around a mouthful of chocolate that Steve can only think to interpret as "Kit Kats," and Sam grabs the nearest bag to begin rummaging through it.
"Oh ho ho," the man says a moment later, drawing a little cardboard box from the bag that rattles like it's full of something tiny and hard.
Steve glances over the packaging as Sam carefully peels the top flaps back. It has what looks a little bit like purple gravel patterned across the box, and there are a few lumpy purple creatures on the front of it that Steve can't immediately identify as any particular animal.
"So before everyone starts in on the sugar," Natasha interjects quickly. "I would like to mention that most of the stuff in these bags is going to be a fun surprise for Bucky, Steve and Wanda - they've likely had limited exposure to modern-day American candy."
"Wait, really?" Scott asks, having finally managed to swallow. "How?"
"From the twenties," Natasha lists with a grin, pointing at Bucky, "from the twenties," - a finger pointed back over her shoulder at Steve this time - "and from mid-Europe," with a final gesture down at where Wanda is still resting across her lap. "So most of what I have is going to be a brand new experience to them."
"Well in that case, here you go, Wanda," Sam says, opening the little box. "Try some of these."
Wanda scrambles her way upright, obediently holding her hand out for Sam to tap a few of the lumpy little candies out into her palm.
"What are they?"
"Nerds. Hard sugar with a flavored candy coating."
"Oh, I think I've seen those in stores - they label it as 'American Candy,'" she laughs as Sam gestures for Steve to hold out a hand as well so he can give him some.
Steve tosses the candy into his mouth, rolling it over his tongue for a moment in contemplation as it begins to dissolve. It's mostly sugar, from what he can tell, but there's a bit of a fruity flavor in there as well that he thinks may be strawberry.
Sam makes a show of debating whether or not he's going to let Bucky try as well, before Natasha gives him a nudge and he relents with a grin.
"They're not bad," Steve muses as Bucky tosses his allotted portion into his mouth. "Not sure I'd go out of my way to get them, but I definitely see the appeal."
Sam shrugs in reply, murmuring "to each their own" before shaking some of the candy from the box directly into his mouth.
"What's in the baby bottle?" Wanda asked Natasha, nodding toward one of the candies that Clint had set out on the table.
"Wait, they still have those in stores?" Sam asked in surprise, straightening up sharply. "I haven't had one of those since I was in college!"
"We got lucky," Natasha chuckles, reaching to pick up the tiny bottle and beginning to peel the plastic off the cap. "Last-minute purchase at the register, and there were only four, so you guys either have to fight over them, or share."
"Fight, fight, fight," Clint begins to chant, but the man is abruptly cut off by Sam flinging a pillow into his face.
"I'll pass on it," Scott says, putting his hands up. "A bit too much sugar for me."
"I'll pass too," Clint grins, setting the pillow aside. "But Steve, Bucky, and Wanda definitely have to try one."
"So it's you and me," Sam says, turning to Natasha as she pops the clear plastic cap off the bottle.
"All yours if you want it," she says, handing the open one to Wanda. "I'm holding out for the chocolate."
"How do I even eat this?" the little witch frowns as Natasha leans to grab another.
"Unscrew the cap, then you lick the top and stick it in the sugar," Sam smiles.
"...that's it?" the little witch asks, skeptical.
"Basically," Scott chuckles. "Usually the sugar part is sour."
Steve is the next one to receive one of the candies, the item labeled "Baby Bottle Pop" and done up in bright colors, and he hesitantly peels off the plastic and pops the cap.
The blue candy on top is just like a lollipop - hard sugar with a fruity flavor - and he licks it as instructed before dipping it into the candy sugar.
It comes up crusted in sugar crystals, and he shoots a glance at Wanda to make sure he's doing it right before putting the top in his mouth like a pacifier.
The sugar from the inside is both sour and sweet, with a strong fruit flavor that's similar to the base lollipop he had, and Steve sucks on it until the sugar is gone from the top before drawing it from his mouth once more.
"So do you just keep doing that?" Wanda asks with a confused little head tilt as she looks into the bottle of sugar.
"Yep," Sam nods. "The top is basically there to get the sugar from the bottle into your mouth."
"Like a pixie stick, but with extra steps," Clint smiles.
"A what now?" Bucky chimes in, his tongue died a bright blue from the sugar.
"We'll pick some of those up on the next trip," Natasha smirks. "But for now we still have a lot of other candy to go through."
"Like these," Scott grins, fishing a box of large, star-shaped candy out of the box.
"Peeps?" Wanda reads off the box.
"Huh. Never seen them in that shape before," Clint muses. "Guess they must do it for more than just Easter and Halloween."
"Normally they're shaped like baby chicks," Natasha explains to the group. "Thus the name. But these are the Fourth of July and Memorial Day ones, so...Stars!"
"They're so squishy," Wanda smiles, accepting one when Scott hands it to her and pressing her fingers together to flatten it slightly.
"Marshmallow," Sam says, before stuffing one into his mouth.
Steve takes a marshmallow star when offered, noting that this treat is also covered in a coating of sugar crystals, and mentally thanks Howard Stark for making sure that the serum prevents him from getting diabetes as he takes a bite.
It's...about what he'd expected. Marshmallow with a coating of sugar.
When he glances around, Bucky seems to be having more fun playing with his peep than eating it, and Steve just barely resists dragging his hand over his face in exasperation when Sam casually mentions using the microwave to blow the marshmallows up until they pop.
Thankfully Clint pulls out another package before either of them can get up to follow through with it, and all attention turns eagerly to the archer as he tears it open with a big smile.
"Here you go, kiddo, try some of these," Clint smiles, taking Wanda's offered hand and shaking a small pile of lumpy, white candies into her palm from a black packet.
"Sam already had me try these," Wanda protests, but that doesn't stop her from tossing the pinch of them into her mouth.
"Those were Nerds. This is something else," Clint grins.
The little witch tilts her head in question, her brows drawing slightly in distrust over the next couple seconds, before she suddenly jolts hard.
"Augh!" Wanda yelps, sticking her tongue out a little as her expression screws up in discomfort. " What th-...ow! It bit me!"
Clint bursts into laughter at that, and the little witch rounds on him, demanding to know what the hell he just let her eat between little sounds of surprise and discomfort as the candy snaps against her tongue.
Natasha, still in Steve's lap, is hiding a grin with her hand.
"The asshole did the same thing to me," she informs Wanda, pointedly ignoring Steve's mutter of "swear jar" as she leans forward. "Right after he brought me over to SHIELD. Gave me a big handful, told me it was candy, and then sat there and cackled as it all started popping."
"You mean it's supposed to d- ow! -...do this?"
"They're called pop rocks for a reason," Scott grins.
"I didn't know that when I - ow! ...put them in my mouth!" she protests.
"Here," Clint says with a smile that is almost apologetic, offering out a glass. "Try some water."
"Don't," Natasha snaps before Wanda can drink. "He's lying. That'll make it worse."
"You are such a-!" The end of her sentence is censored by another little yelp of surprise from the witch, and Clint doubles over with his hands clapped over his mouth, struggling not to laugh.
"How do I make it stop?" Wanda begs the two of them pathetically, wincing through another pop.
"Go spit them out," Steve chuckles, a little pang of pity threading through his chest as she blinks at him in utter surprise.
As someone who had also grown up on the edge of starvation, he understands why the option wouldn't have even occurred to her.
Wanda hesitates only until the next little pop before darting to the kitchen sink to rinse them from her tongue, Clint's laughter following her all the way.
"They can't be that bad, can they?" Bucky asks skeptically.
Instead of a reply, Clint simply hands him the packet, still snickering at Wanda's expense.
Bucky is quick to pour himself a large handful and toss them into his mouth, having clearly learned nothing from watching the little witch. Sure enough, a moment later Bucky is making faces in discomfort and slapping the arm of the couch as he tries to keep himself silent through some surprisingly audible popping inside his mouth.
"Having fun there, tough guy?" Sam snickers.
Bucky's only response is to shove the rest of the packet into Sam's hand with a brow raised in demand.
"Oh, hell no, I'm not falling for that shit."
"Steve, I swear to God..."
Sam's reply is cut off by another little shove of the Pop Rocks packet into his chest by a smug, self-satisfied, smirking Bucky.
Sam scowls back at him for a long couple seconds.
"...you wipe that stupid grin off your face. I'll eat twice as many pop rocks as you."
"This is the quality content I paid for," Natasha grins at Steve, lounging back against his chest with a grin and popping open a cardboard box of candy as Sam upends the rest of the packet into his mouth and turns a fierce stare on Bucky.
Wanda returns from the kitchen a moment later, still frowning a little as she works her tongue against the roof of her mouth.
Clint pats the open cushion beside him, asking "You okay?" with a barely-hidden grin.
"You're awful," the girl scolds affectionately, giving his shoulder a swat before settling herself at his side. "I'll find some way to get you back for that."
"I'm sure you will," he grins, giving her a one-armed hug.
Across the room, Bucky and Sam are staring intently at one another through squinted and watering eyes, the pair of them clearly struggling to be the one who keeps the largest amount of popping candy in their mouth for the longest time.
Natasha is watching in glee, munching her way through what Steve finally recognizes as Snowcaps as she glances between the two in rapt fascination, and Steve holds his hand out in front of her till she shares.
Scott is looking the other direction with a barely-hidden smile, pretending that he has nothing to do with any of them as he all but inhales another package of Kit-Kats.
It takes a long moment for the pop-rocks to finally dissolve, and Bucky makes a face as he sticks out his tongue with a little wince.
"Not sure I like those," he mutters. "At least not that many at once."
"Well you aren't really supposed to down half the package in one go," Natasha snickers.
Bucky makes a face at her as Sam finally manages to swallow.
"Yeah, no, those are definitely meant to be eaten in moderation," he nods with a little cough. "I think my tongue is numb."
"Shame," Clint smiles. "Cause it looks like Nat got soda as well."
"Sure did," the assassin grins, finally hopping up from Steve's lap to go get cups from the kitchen. "I figured if we were going to give ourselves sugar comas, we might as well go full throttle."
"Ice in mine, please," Scott calls, a hand covering his half-full mouth.
"Roger that. Rogers?" Natasha asks with a grin, clearly very proud of her verbal play, and Steve simply shakes his head in fond exasperation.
The assassin is gone for a long moment, rustling about in the kitchen, before she returns with six red solo cups, three balanced carefully in each of her hands.
"Come and get 'em," she smiles, sauntering over waitress-style and offering the drinks out to the gathered teammates on either side of her.
Steve takes the cup when offered, a smile curling his lips as he takes a sip of what has been a long-time favorite of his. It's not quite as bright a flavor as he remembers, but it's definitely old and familiar, and brings a warm smile to his lips.
"Here, Wanda, try this," Clint smiles, offering one of the cups out to her, but the girl shakes her head immediately.
"You've already tricked me once. I'm not tasting anything else you offer."
"It's all right, Wanda," Steve pipes up. "It's Root Beer soda. It's a little fizzy, but good."
"Take a small sip," Natasha cautions. "I have a feeling you aren't going to be too fond of this one."
The little witch carefully takes the glass that Clint offers, tilting it just enough for her to get a taste before quickly drawing back.
"It tastes like medicine," she says, screwing up her face.
"You see, that's what I thought," Natasha says, turning to Wanda with a hand leaned casually on her hip. "But all these crazy Americans seem to love it."
"What's wrong with Root Beer?" Scott asks, sounding rather offended.
"Have you tried it?" Natasha asks.
"Have you tried it?" he counters.
"Unfortunately, yes. It tastes like mouthwash."
Scott and Sam exchange a confused look as Clint smirks.
"It's what they use to flavor it," he explains when Wanda tilts her head at him expectantly. "Usually artificial sassafras or sarsaparilla, and stuff like licorice and wintergreen. Over in Europe it's mostly used medicinally, so you likely grew up associating the taste with stuff like cough syrup or mouth wash. It's like the Listerine or sour cherry flavors here - they have drinks in other countries with similar flavors, and they think it's great, but to us it tastes like bottled drug store."
"Huh. That's weird," Scott says, taking the remainder of the Root Beer from Wanda when she offers him the cup. "You guys are missing out."
"I will do so gladly," the little witch says, making a face.
"It's better with vanilla ice cream," Steve says, unable to hide his smile as Wanda shudders a little, shaking her head hard.
Bucky finishes off his own cup with a flourish, letting out a breath as he holds it out for a refill.
"Well, not exactly like I remember, but it's pretty damn close, huh Steve?"
"And that makes it six dollars now," Steve grins.
Bucky just sends him a glare.
"So was that most of the new stuff that we'd wanted them to try?" Scott asks, rustling around the bags for a moment as Natasha pours Bucky a refill.
"Should be. I didn't want to blow the entire budget on sweets, after all."
"Just most of the budget," Clint says with a wink, fishing out a yet-unopened bag of candy as he begins loading the rest of it into the shopping bags to bring to the kitchen.
"What's that?" Wanda asks him hesitantly. Instead of a reply, Clint tugs the bag open and draws out a couple pieces.
"Here you go, kid," he says, tossing her a little tinfoil-wrapped piece of candy as he heads for the kitchen. "Here's something that I promise you'll like."
Wanda peels back the wrapping cautiously, examining the candy for a moment before shooting Clint a suspicious glance.
"What's the trick?"
"No trick, just dark chocolate," he says with a smile, ruffling her hair on his way back to his seat beside her. "I've tormented you enough for one day."
"Clint, I swear, if I put this in my mouth and it's got hot sauce in the center or something..."
"Cross my heart, it's fine!" Clint laughs.
The little witch gives him a pout, but does trust him enough to place the chocolate on her tongue.
She winces for a long second in pre-emptive displeasure, but slowly starts to relax as it begins to melt on her tongue.
"There, see?" Clint laughs.
Wanda just gives him a nudge, shaking her head in exasperation.
"So that only leaves one more bag," Steve says, nodding at what looks like a large jar filled with little colorful snack packets - the only thing left on the table.
"Ah, yes, I almost forgot!" Natasha grins, hopping to her feet and drawing the plastic jar out of the bag with a flourish.
"...pretzels?" Sam asks with a questioning frown and raised brow.
"Oh, we didn't get it for the snacks," she says with a wink. "Wanda and I just figured that Steve's poor swear jar could use an upgrade."
Steve actually laughs aloud at that, pushing himself to his feet to go accept the jar from Natasha as she presents it to him with a flourish.
It's about a foot tall, easily six inches wide, with a screw-on lid and clear sides. With a little slit cut in the top, it will be perfect.
"Thank you, Natasha," he smiles, turning the jar over once before unscrewing the lid. "As soon as we burn through the pretzels, I'll switch it over."
"You really shouldn't encourage him," Sam sighs, shaking his head. "He's just going to keep calling us out on that shit."
"Yes," Steve smiles, enjoying Sam's wince of realization far more than he should. "Yes, I absolutely am."