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Title: Start As You Mean To Go On (Five Questions, One Statement, and One Answer, All in a New York Minute)
Author: caitri
Rating: PG
Pairings: Pepper/Happy, Bruce/Darcy, Thor/Jane, Natasha/Rhodey, Peter/Gwen, Clint/Coulson, Steve/Tony
Word Count: 2,915
Summary: New Year’s Eve at Avengers Tower. Movieverse.
A/N: With some Science Bros especially for tocourtdisaster because I never finished her birthday present, and Bruce/Darcy and Clint/Coulson for gadgetorious on principle.
Disclaimer: I know this may come as a shock, but I am not, amazing as it may seem, Joss Whedon, Stan Lee, or Marvel Pictures. Just so you know.

5.

“How did I miss this?” Tony should stop staring, he knows he should, but, well… “Also, how can Happy afford to get you this ring, I mean, it’s huge, and I know I pay him handsomely, but still—”

“You weren’t looking,” Pepper says dryly. “Do you know, my favorite thing about Happy is how he misses nothing?” He’s wound her up now, Tony can tell, and he steels himself for it as best he can. Pepper Potts in a fury was like a storm in a tea kettle when she was his PA, like a hurricane when he was on the beach when they were dating, and in post-break-up friendship it’s still rather terrifying even if he knows intellectually that they’re both going to walk away from this companionably. “Like, say, every time there was broken glass everywhere and I’d lost my shoes, he’d put his coat down for me! Without irony!”

And Tony knows this is a mistake, he does, but being Tony, he does it anyway: He turns to Happy and says, “Really? You put your coat down for her to walk on? That’s gallant, man!”

“Thanks, Boss!” Happy smiles at him in the mirror.

“Oh for God’s sake.” Pepper huffs and exchanges the Stark tablets they’re each holding. “Tony, we’re supposed to be having a meeting about where the Maria Stark Foundation proceeds are going to go this year, I told you—”

“I know, I know! I’m sorry!” Tony apologizes—and not just for missing the ring, or being surprised at her and Happy (though yeah, not gonna lie, he is surprised, but—kinda happy, too, honestly), or even not having done the reading for the boring stuff—but for not having been the kind of guy who could have gotten all of that. “I’m—I’ve been busy.”
And yeah, that’s a lame excuse too, but—well, the Avengers have saved the world three times this year alone, and that’s gotta count for something.

“I know.” Pepper gives him a small smile, one of her old and rare and real ones, and he knows that she really does. It’s all very comfortable and familiar, and Tony feels something dangerous like nostalgia and affection tighten his throat, so he coughs and they both pause to arrange themselves back to prickly affability. “I think we should send the funds to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Good works, not too political—”

“I like it, do it,” Tony says immediately, and Pepper smiles as she checks off something on her phone. He looks over to Happy. “Yo, man, when’s the date? I need to plan for this thing.”

Happy grins at him. “Ask Ms. Potts, boss. She’s in charge of me now, too.”

Tony sits back, satisfied. “Smart man.” Pepper slaps him on the arm, lightly, and he laughs at them both—at least until a horrible thought occurs to him. “Wait, you guys are still coming to the party, right?”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Pepper says, just as Happy says, “You got it.”


4.

“Do you think she’ll go out with me?” Bruce is too nervous by half, Tony thinks; he’s half dressed, fiddling with cufflinks before he even has his jacket on. Tony snatches them out of his hands and puts them on the dresser table, because, really, guys have got to stick together, especially at parties. “I mean, you know, you don’t think I’m like, y’know, too old for her right?”

Tony doesn’t answer immediately because he’s trying—and failing—to find a tie that’s not an eyesore.

“Oh God,” Bruce says in horror, “I am, aren’t I? I’m like a Humbert Humbert—a caricature—if I were gay I’d be Aschenbach…well if I were gay and German—”

“What? Wait, no—” Tony has to pull Bruce back from where he’s miserably starting to get undressed again, clearly ready to hide on his floor forever, or at least the next eight hours. “No, big guy, sorry, I was just—” Tony waggles a tie with Bugs Bunny on it. “—being appalled at your sartorial decisions. Also, what’s up, doc?”

“I like the classics.” Bruce grabs the tie from him as if to protect it—which is fair enough, because Tony’s already plotting how to distract Bruce for a few hours so he can fix the man’s closet, because it was fine to dress like a homeless professor before he moved to the Tower but as Avengers they have reputations to maintain, and also, Tony has eyes he would like to not burn from his own skull. “And Darcy.”

Tony blinks, because he’d half forgotten his original question in his calculations to divest the Tower of all formal clothing items that featured cartoons. “Darcy? Like—wait, Foster’s assistant?!”

Tony must be a real adult now, he thinks with a little pride, because he remembers the girl in question for her location on the SHIELD security chart for the Avengers’ floors well before he remembers her other—assets—splendid though they appear to be.

Bruce’s olive skin flushes darkly, like a teenager’s, and he looks down and runs a hand through his hair, rumpling it further. For a moment, he isn’t a brilliant scientist or a comrade in arms, he’s the little brother Tony always wanted, and he needs help. With a girl.

Tony is on this.

“Tell me everything,” he demands breathlessly, but not before he filches the eyesore tie and stuffs it into his pocket for safekeeping (prior to the ritual burning).


3.

“MY LADY JANE?” Thor resists the urge to pace outside the entrance to their bedroom. His lady is beautifying herself therein and while he is most patient, he would like to access the room of the bath prior to donning his own celebration regalia. “MAY I ENTER?”

“Just a second!” Jane calls back through the door. He can hear feminine giggles within, those of his beloved and also the Lady Darcy. Thor can’t help but smile to himself, leaning against the frame of the door; while the gatherings of Friend Tony and the Avengers had little in common with the feasts of Asgard, Jane had assured him that the year-end rituals of Midgard were not so different. Still not quite what you’re used to, I guess, she had said, but they are special to us. From what he gathered a piece of fruit would be dropped in the Square of Time.

It was baffling, but it pleased the mortals, and as a guest in their realm, it was only meet that the Son of Odin would comport himself suitably.

“Ready!” Jane announces, and the door is opened fast enough that Thor nearly falls inside with a merciless lack of grace. “Oh!”

“MY APOLOGIES!” Thor pulls himself back just prior to dropping his head against his lady’s décolletage—which, though there were of course far fouler fates to be had, he knows would thoroughly mortify his dear Jane. “FORGIVE ME, MY—” He stops, because he’s had a chance to look at her: The Lady Jane is absolutely resplendent in a dark blue gown that has caught the gleaming rainbows of Yggdrasil in its embrace, shining ear-drops her only other decoration, and the jewels are but a bit of gaud to their setting.

“Told ya, Jane,” the Lady Darcy says smugly, “you look hot in that.”

“Shut up,” Jane says out of the corner of her mouth. She looks up at him, cheeks like roses and eyes bright. “Ready?”

“Yea,” Thor says weakly, struck to his heart.

“You okay, big guy?” Darcy is concerned now.

“YEA!” Thor rallies, and beams at the pair of them. He kisses Jane’s hand, and she grins at him, biting her lip. “VERILY, I MIGHT SAY I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE ... OKAY ... IN MY LIFE.”


2.

“You didn’t tell me how you met Tony,” Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes says as he brings her a flute of champagne.

“That’s classified.” Natasha smiles politely as she takes it. They clink glasses, the crystal making a certain sound like money. “You didn’t tell me how Tony became your ‘mentor.’” She doesn’t know why she felt the need to make air quotation marks like that, but she tells herself that it’s part of the character she’s playing right now.

“That’s need to know information, ma’am.” Rhodes sips his drink.

“Oh believe me,” Natasha smiles again, a little more warmly this time, and moves her shoulders back and forth flirtatiously. “I need to know.”

Rhodes is quiet for a long moment—long enough for it to be uncomfortable. Natasha stops moving. “Bullshit.”

“What?”

Rhodes takes a deep breath, and gives her a false smile. “I’m sorry. I’m tired. But this feels political, and I’m not in the mood for politics tonight. This is Tony’s party, right? How many people are coming? Really?”

Natasha looks around: Pepper and Happy are on the viewing balcony, Darcy is teasingly pulling at Bruce’s lilac-colored tie, Jane is giggling at something Thor is saying. Natasha looks back at Rhodes. “We’re missing a few people.”

He grimaces. “Like fifty. What time was this thing supposed to start?”

“About half an hour ago. I count six missing.” Rhodes pauses, staring at her until she explains. “Tony will be late because it’s his party. Steve will be late because he won’t get here until after Stark does. Agents Coulson and Barton will arrive separately because they are deluded and think we won’t notice they aren’t together. I believe Fury and Hill were invited but Nick hates parties and Maria had plans.” Natasha takes only a small sip of her champagne; she doesn’t like to indulge.

“Six.” Rhodes lets out a short bark of laughter and looks down at his feet before he looks up at her again. “I’m sorry. I’m a dick. I didn’t realize it would be a real…party. With people.”

“I’m sorry, my programming doesn’t understand that phrase.” Rhodes stares at her for a heartbeat of shocked horror before he starts to laugh—loud and long. Natasha can’t help but smile.

“Alright, let’s try this again.” Rhodes sticks out his hand, still shaking with amusement. “My name is Rhodey.”

Natasha takes it and gives it a firm shake. “Natasha.”


1.

“I still think you’re making this up.” Peter knows Gwen doesn’t really mean it, but he’s still excited—and okay, yeah, a little terrified—about what her reaction’s going to be when they walk in.

And okay, yeah, he’s a lot terrified himself, but a lot of that has to do with how beautiful Gwen looks in that dress and how wide her smile is for him—and okay, yeah, maybe a little of the terror has to do with how the security guard is frowning at them and running the little wand light thing over their invitation.

“I was joking, I don’t really think he’s making this up,” Gwen says to the guard, who says nothing and just runs the wand light thing over the paper again. “Tell me you’re not making this up, Peter?” she asks in an undertone.

“Nope, there is a distinct lack of making things up going on here,” Peter says with less cool than he would like. He beams at Gwen and smiles at the guard.

The guard doesn’t smile back. “Top floor. The elevator will take you straight there.”

“Uh, thanks!” Peter smiles even wider at the guard, and Gwen waggles her fingers at him in farewell with her thanks, but the man still doesn’t crack. They get in the elevator. “Uh, are there buttons on this thing?”

“I don’t see—” Gwen starts to say, but she breaks off when a familiar British voice intones, Buttons are unnecessary. Welcome back to the Tower, sir.

“Uh, thanks, JARVIS.” Peter laughs a little to show that he’s not nervous at all, nope, not him.

You’re welcome, sir.

“Oh my God!” Gwen mouths at him silently, before clapping her hands over her mouth and giggling.

“I know, right?” Peter mouths back at her.

Penthouse suite, JARVIS announces a moment later, and the doors open.

“Oh, look at that, the Avengers’ living room. Full of—Avengers.” Peter’s going to be able to not state the obvious when he’s not in costume one day, but it’s not going to be this day. “Uh, hi, everybody.”

“Hello.” Gwen makes a short wave at everyone.

They can’t all be staring, can they?

“Peter! You made it!” Mr. Stark walks around the corner from somewhere, beaming, and gives him a handshake followed by that thing some people do where they hold onto your arm for a second like a second handshake, minus the actual shaking… “So glad to see you, kiddo! And who is this lovely lady?”

“This is Gwen, my—friend, girlfriend?—” He looks to her and she nods, Oh my God, she nodded! “—girlfriend!”

Peter has no cool and never will, he just needs to make peace with this now, that’s all.

“Hi,” Gwen says, and Mr. Stark smiles at her.

Enchanté,” Mr. Stark says and kisses her knuckles, and Gwen turns bright red, and Peter wonders why he decided it was a good idea to take Spanish instead of French. Maybe he can do a drop/add next term. “Bruce! Darcy! Come over and say hi to the Boy Wonder!”

“I’d really like to not be Robin, please,” Peter says because he can’t help himself. “I mean, if that’s cool.”

“Oh thank God, you’re a real person who speaks English,” says a woman who must be Darcy, who looks like she’s a couple years older than they are, college age maybe. Bruce deflates a little, but Darcy puts her arm around him. “Chill, big kahuna, your English is great, I’m just mocking Tony for being a DC boy.”

“I…don’t follow,” says Bruce, but he does relax a bit.

“Old argument,” Mr. Stark says, rolling his eyes. “Excuse me a sec.” He claps both Peter and Bruce on the back at once, and darts over to where another guest is coming out of the elevator.

“Who’s that?” Gwen asks curiously, taking glasses of—okay, it’s probably not champagne, or maybe it is, Peter can’t tell, and Aunt May might kill him whether it is or isn’t anyway—from Darcy.

“That’s Captain America,” Peter answers, going for nonchalant, and making it for once. That’s why Gwen is the one who coughs nervously on the champagne, and then Darcy suggests they go out on the viewing balcony—another couple is coming back in from the cold—and it all works out because when they’ve gotten their composure again Gwen kisses him, and Peter is sure 2013 is going to be amazing!


0.

“No, you can not wear that to the party,” Phil says for possibly the thousandth time that night.

“But Phiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil!”

Clint has a remarkable habit of drawing his name out in a whine that’s something between a Dallas housewife and a kicked puppy. If it were anyone else it would be appalling and irritating, but because it is Clint it is merely irritating with a soupçon of irrational cuteness. Phil feels himself weakening already.

“It’s a purple kilt,” Phil has to point out. “I know you like them but the nineties called, and they want their shit back.”

Clint pauses, impressed. “Damn, sweetie, have you been watching TLC with Stark again?”

“Didn’t have to, ‘Tasha thought it would be funny to let Darcy play with her new Widow’s Bite bracelets. Stark walked into the room and right back out again.” Phil can’t help but smile as Clint snorts with glee.

“Oh Jesus, and you let me miss that? What gives, partner?” Clint actually has to wipe tears of mirth from his eyes. Then he pauses and gives Phil the gimlet eye. “Also, biggest bash of the year and you’re wearing the same suit you do every day?”

Phil shrugs. “It’s a classic. How about I don’t say anything about yours if you don’t say anything about mine?”

Clint grins that near maniacal grin of his, and goes to get—Lord, a top that actually matches the purple kilt of Portlandia. “Deal!”

+1.

“Yes, obviously,” Steve says, and kisses Tony hard enough to take his breath away. Tony isn’t sure what the question was, but he doesn’t really care either, because all of New York City is singing “Auld Lang Syne” and you can hear it all the way up here on the top of the Tower.

“PRAY TELL, IS THIS ANOTHER MIDGARDIAN CUSTOM?” Thor wants to know. Tony isn’t sure if he’s asking about the singing or the kissing at midnight, and Jane says “Yes,” so it could be either.

“You okay, Tony?” Steve looks concerned, which is wrong, so wrong, because Tony just wants to kiss him again.

“Fine, great, perfect,” Tony says, and kisses him again, because maybe impulse control has always been a little bit of a problem, and also? Captain America is here and kissable. Steve laughs into his mouth, warm and tasting like mint toothpaste—which should be kind of gross and boring, but so totally not, because see also, Steve Rogers, kissing him.

Eventually Steve pulls back. “Are you always this ridiculous at New Year’s?”

Tony’s never really had a New Year’s like this before, one where he’s looking forward to every day that’s coming because they’ll each have the Avengers, and friends, and Steve, in them. “Yes,” Tony says, because it’s the first day of a new era, and that makes it true.

Comments

( 19 comments — Add your .02 )
xcziel
Jan. 1st, 2013 11:50 am (UTC)
Fantastic way to start the new year! ♥!
caitri
Jan. 1st, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
<333333

Thanks, bb!! Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3
suddenlyswept
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:03 pm (UTC)
<33333 Happy New Year, bb!!!!

and look, i'm on lj, shocking I know
caitri
Jan. 3rd, 2013 02:57 pm (UTC)
tee! I've missed youuuuuuu!! <33333
tn_tiger
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
Awww!
I just watched the movie (first time on DVD), and this was a lovely way to follow it up!
caitri
Jan. 3rd, 2013 02:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Awww!
*G*G* Awesome!!!! <3
green_grrl
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
That's adorable!
caitri
Jan. 3rd, 2013 02:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks!! <33
evilmissbecky
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:53 pm (UTC)
This is great! I love each and every one, but the last one of course has me grinning from ear to ear.

Happy New Year!
caitri
Jan. 3rd, 2013 02:58 pm (UTC)
*G*G* Thanks, I'm so glad you liked it!! <33
danian
Jan. 1st, 2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
That was great fun - I loved the way you changed 'voice' for each segment. I especially liked Thor and Peter - or more properly: Jane and Gwen :)
caitri
Jan. 3rd, 2013 02:59 pm (UTC)
*G*G* Thanks, I'm so glad you liked it!! <33
margi_lynn
Jan. 2nd, 2013 01:16 am (UTC)
This was a brilliant New Year's fic! Thank you for sharing ♥
caitri
Jan. 3rd, 2013 02:59 pm (UTC)
*G*G* Thanks, I'm so glad you liked it!! <33
londonsabre
Jan. 3rd, 2013 10:43 am (UTC)
So much fun!!
caitri
Jan. 3rd, 2013 02:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!! *G*
pinigir
Jan. 3rd, 2013 02:59 pm (UTC)
Loved it! Loved the various snippets of how everyone was celebrating or preparing to do so. :-)
caitri
Jan. 3rd, 2013 03:00 pm (UTC)
*G*G* Thanks, I'm so glad you liked it!! <33
weepingnaiad
Jan. 19th, 2013 03:05 pm (UTC)
D'AWWWWWW.

Peter's so adorable and Clint in "the purple kilt of Portlandia"... epic, bb!

*hugs*
( 19 comments — Add your .02 )

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