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*blasts away a huge block of concrete blocking the cleanup crew's path and zips over to land next to Natasha, standing off to the side of where Steve, clearly exhausted, flushed under his mask (but of course he doesn't push it up, trying even now to draw a line between Captain America and Steve Rogers), is fielding a barrage of questions from clamoring reporters*

*flips his mask up, glances at Natasha* How long's he been doing this? *she makes a face, tells him too long, and he sighs, starts a timer for three minutes, then he'll drag Steve away*
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*gets caught up in analyzing the suit's performance report from his trip with Steve, and then starts out some new software to compensate for the data spikes, and it's not until he has to stop to wait for his code to compile that he remembers about Steve's Twitter, starts reading through it with a mix of horror and pride*

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*is just starting to wake up after inhaling two giant mugs of coffee, doing his best not to be annoyed by (a) his empty mug and (b) shiny perky Steve across the table, Steve who's probably been up since 5, and has since run ten miles and helped five old ladies across streets and plucked some kittens out of trees and is currently talking cheerily about his latest visit to some old people home and hey Mabel and Lucille are doing great and Walter's back is better and -- ugh, at least Clint and Bruce both look as tired as he does, and Natasha is probably a robot, and Thor -- Thor is eating all of his Pop Tarts, one after another, goddammit, Thor*

...New rule. If you're awake enough to be qualified as peppy, you make coffee for the rest of us.

*looks pointedly at Steve, and -- then his phone rings, his phone only ever rings when it's Rhodey or Pepper or Happy or one of the Avengers and all of the Avengers are here and anyway, there's no name attached, weird, pulls it out and frowns at it for a moment before answering it*

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*Natasha finally gave him the green light early one morning at SHIELD, looking tired and relieved, and he doesn't hesitate before heading over to the hospital. he's only seen Bucky so far as he was when they "retrieved" him (SHIELD lingo, really more like rescuing him, but whatever), and he's heard bits and pieces here and there, primarily about his arm, and. and now he's standing outside the door of Bucky fucking Barnes, and what is his life, seriously.

he knocks on the door and waits for a reply, doubts the doctors around here have been giving him even that much independent choice]
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*has been getting ready for the charity gala for what feels like about five billion years. her new assistant is terrified to touch her, totally useless, she kicks him out in ten minutes and continues on her own, thanks very much. she goes simple (and lazy) with the hair, down and tousled, does her makeup with smoky eyes and pale lips (because her bitchy makeup woman told her to do dark lipstick and the bitchy makeup woman sucks [she is not getting wrinkles at the corners of her eyes, get the fuck out, bitchy makeup woman, totally firing you soon]).

her dress is fucking gorgeous, thanks to Pepper and her fashion connections for that one (god, she misses having Pepper around). she pulls it on carefully, and realizes waaay too late that it zips -- and clasps, motherfucker -- in the back. her arms definitely don't twist that way, dammit.

she pulls the zipper up as far as she can and slips into the teetering black Louboutin's (and winces, her feet are going to be so sad later) and necklace, holds the dress to her chest to keep it from falling right off*

Hey JARVIS, anyone nearby?

*JARVIS informs her that Captain Rogers is in the nearest living room, and then he tacks on minding his own business because JARVIS is a dick, rolls her eyes and heads out there to find him*
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*it's been approximately 24 hours since they saved the world, and the last three hours of it have been full of debriefings, and about halfway through she'd decided she'd kind of rather be flying a nuke into space, and said so out loud, and got a look from Fury that would probably kill if he had two eyes.

by the end, even Cap is looking twitchy, and finally, finally, Fury leaves with some sort of parting jibe she's already forgotten by the time he's out the door, and she looks around*

Right. Who else is drinking?
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[sprawled on his bed, pretty extremely stoned, kept company by an empty Milanos bag, a near-empty Goldfish bag, a half empty package of Oreos, his phone, and his tablet, ignoring all of them in favor of being completely engrossed in an old episode of Buffy]
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[has been back in New York for three weeks, and hates how much he still misses California (and fine, yes, associated people). but the Tower is fine, and he's thrown himself back into development for SHIELD, and that's good, and working with Bruce is great because Bruce can keep up, and he's had Dummy shipped here and JARVIS is here and if things feel a little empty, then, well. it's been worse.

it's early afternoon now, and he hasn't slept but isn't tired, working on programming a new subroutine for the Quinjet power management on one computer while JARVIS runs diagnostics on failsafe backup protocols for the arc reactor]


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Tony Stark

July 2012

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