Things Past, Present, and Still Yet to Come
Cutscene: Things Past, Present, and Still Yet to Come
IC Details

An old year passes away and a new one comes. (Game-Wide Montage)

IC Date: January 01, 2019
IC Location: Various
OOC Notes & Details
Posted: 01 Jan 2019 14:31
Rating & Warnings: PG
Associated Plots

In Gotham

Graveyards aren't the place for festivities, and here in London all is quiet and still while revelers miles away drink and be merry as hours turn to minutes turn to seconds and the present marches towards the past. The blissful, lonely silence is broken only by a snort and an airy, echoing whinny as a horse impossibly white and just as impossibly translucent trods quietly across the sprawling walkways and just as carefully through the frost-tinged grass. Her rider maneuvers her towards one of the older gravestones before gently reining her up so that he can dismount.

Clothed in white from head to foot and equally transparent in figure, it's like he's stepped out of the past itself, and in some ways it's near to the truth. His cloak sweeps around him as he steps towards the grave, cane tucked under an arm as he moves to pull open the sack he carries, removing a very tangible wreath woven of holly and pine branches, poinsettias tucked into a focal point at its base like a bow. He rests it against the headstone with great care, a gloved hand moving to trace the name nearly worn away by the passages of years before: Nell Craddock.

From the same bag he pulls out a fine bottle of wine and a pair of glasses which he fills with ease before setting one upon the headstone and raising his own in silent toast. He reaches up to remove the tall hat that seemingly hovers just above an equally floating monocle, which turns with his unseen face as he regards the grave he stands before. "And here we are again, mother. At least one of us can be at peace…"

She’s not dead.
She should be dead.
But she’s not dead.
Maybe she is dead? Is this what dead feels like?

She’s never been dead before. She’s been close to it plenty enough, however.

Maybe she never saw it coming. Maybe forgotten, she evaporated into nothing at all.

After all, isn’t that what the Joker promised would happen?

They’ll laugh.

They’ll forget you.

I'll kill everything you'll think to hold dear but me.

But she never held herself dear.

Maybe that’s why Harley Quinn still draws breath, staring at a nail pop in the ceiling of the latest in her string of commandeered vacant apartments from atop the naked mattress that the previous occupants left behind. She didn't tell Owen Mercer that the biggest gift she gave this year was his, and it wasn't one he had to unwrap. It wasn't even one he knew he'd gotten. It was a question she never asked.

She absent-mindedly runs her fingers with their chipped red manicure through Bud and Lou’s fur and starts with every errant firecracker until there’s finally an explosion of excitement outside. “Happy New Year,” she exhales.

The lights still glow from Christmas decorations that have not yet taken down yet. The sky is overcast and rainy. Atop Wayne International Tower, Batman stands on the edge of the roof, surveying the city. Though tiny on the pavement, he can see those walking by under umbrellas - a few stumbling under the influence of too many drinks - or perhaps something stronger. He's too high to hear the sound of laughter, of merrymaking. The building beneath him is silent, dark.

Toward the center of the city, people gather to celebrate a New Year, kiss their sweethearts, make resolutions. Some will break their resolutions the next day. Some will make it a few months. Even fewer will stick it through.

Bruce Wayne? He doesn't make New Year's Resolutions. He made his promise long ago and he will keep it. No matter what.

His attention turns to another block, making sure there is no one out there taking advantage of people's slipped guard in the face of a joyous holiday. He will be their guard, he will ensure that even when they are not watching…he is.

In New York

A car nearly careening off of a bridge. A taxi that had collided with a fire hydrant. Stupid people taking advantage of the holidays by breaking into closed shops. Ronnie hadn't anticipated things being so crazy, but after hanging out a little longer than planned at Metropolis's New Year's Eve bash, it seemed like everything was against him and Professor Stein in trying to get home so they could finally join Ronnie's mother for New Year's Eve dinner. New Year's, now, officially. Maybe he shouldn't have taken the detour after all. It was like some switch was flipped because the world knew that there was someone available who could handle things.

And they had handled things, him and the professor. As Firestorm they'd transmuted the road into sand to stop the speeding car. They'd repaired the fire hydrant and turned the cascade of water into snow. The would-be thieves were rounded up in their own jackets and crowbars, awaiting the police as they sat bound within the store with freshly repaired windows and doorframe. And finally home, Ronnie, his mother and the professor could enjoy dinner and watch a replay of the annual ball drop in Times Square that she'd recorded, just to set the mood right.

Joanne Raymond and Professor Martin Stein walk into the living room holding glasses of cider with Joanne carrying an extra for her son. They look down at the teenager sprawled out on the couch, where he'd practically passed out after the meal. Exchanging glances with a lopsided smile, Joanne shakes her head as she sets down the extra glass on the coffee table and stoops down to brush Ronnie's hair from his forehead before planting a light kiss. "Happy New Year, sweetheart."

The reports are disturbing. Peggy can't believe this is what she is reading: these new authorizations, research, teams. Dressed in a brilliant red dress, her hair in perfect curls and the victory rolls she could do in the field and in her sleep, she is perfectly made up and certainly looks ready to celebrate the coming of the New Year. However, her expression is troubled, her brow creased.

"This doesn't make a lick of sense, Fury," she says as she scans the latest memo, softly, to herself, standing alone at the desk. Her home office is nothing like the one at SHIELD. It's organized, but something of an organized mess. Papers are piled high, books are opened to certain pages. "What are you playing at. This is reckless for you."

"Peggy." There's a knock on the door and she can hear Steve's voice. They have plans, she knows this and knows they should have left already.

"Yes, of course, I'll be right there." A legal pad of notes are filled with strange symbols and cyphers. She adds a few more to the bottom, frowning. Then, quietly, to the papers, "You're up to something."

The Hudson River Yacht Club opened just two months ago. Despite its name, the bar is self-consciously a dive, with an old-fashioned juke in the corner playing the year's top 40 for a lousy, no-good 2018. ’thank u, next’ is right.

The bar’s moniker might as well be a middle-finger to Wilson Fisk's dream of a posh Hell's Kitchen where anyone with an actual yacht might want to live.

It isn't perfect. Everything's still too new, and far too many of the old faces are gone. But it's the closest approximation Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson have found to Josie's that was. And it's with that memory in mind that Matt Murdock raises his shot of Jack Daniels in the direction of law partner & best friend Foggy Nelson.

"To Josie," Matt says with a twitch of a sad smile, before knocking it back with a wince.

This is a terrible idea.

"To Josie," Foggy chimes back, and his glass clinks without much merriment against Matt's. It's a somber moment, honoring the fallen. There's so many lives to speak to, so many souls that are no longer walking the earth. Everything in Foggy's shoulders are tight and uncertain in those memories. He breathes out a slow exhale, looking around the room with a flick of his gaze. "Not the same." It isn't a question, but a statement.

When he looks back to Matt, all he can do is agree: This is a terrible idea.

"No, it isn't the same," Matt agrees quietly, something wistful creeping into his ordinarily mellow tone. He takes a hard sniff that flares his nostrils. There was never any chance that this would be a happy, boisterous New Year in Hell's Kitchen. This one has far too many ghosts. Josie, Sal, Father Lantom…

Matt looks to his friend and smells the sadness on him: stress hormones mixed with alcohol and sweat. It strikes him that Foggy's had the hardest year of all. Matt and Luke had their breakdowns, Frank Castle his violent catharsis, Owen Mercer his moment of temptation, Danny his media crises. And God, Kinsey.

But Franklin Nelson lost his whole neighborhood, watched his friends and acquaintances crack up, and resolved to shoulder the load on his untrained, unpowered shoulders. He kept his head while everyone else was losing theirs. Appropriate or not, the man deserves a good night, full of booze and fun and nothing maudlin. Maybe even —
Wait. What's that perfume again? It comes in with the winter wind through the front door, accompanied by the clack-clack-clack of high heels. He almost can't believe it, and he finds himself smiling — genuinely smiling. "Hey, uh, Fog? Blast from the past at your six."

Almost as if Foggy is reading each of those thoughts, the weight around him settles in. His shoulders cannot seem to hold it, and he sags under it as he takes another grimacing swallow from his tumbler. He doesn't catch the scent, doesn't hear the heels, but when Matt comments on a blast from his past, he looks up first to his friend. The smile is… odd on Matt. Perhaps because they haven't felt the need to smile lately, not really.

So, his brow furrows and he pivots slightly on the stool toward the front door. It takes him a moment to place the blonde, but her winning smile at spotting Foggy is enough to kick up his heart a meter or two. His mouth goes a little dry, tongue a bit thick, and by the time she's at his side, he can't seem to gather a greeting before she sliding her forearm on the bartop, settling her weight into it. "Well, if it isn't the Lawyers of the Year," Marci Stahl says in that warm, cheerful voice. Her eyes drift from Matt to his stunned partner, and her eyes crinkle at the corners with an even wider smile. "Hey there, Foggybear."

Meanwhile in Harlem, the cacophony of celebration is still going on strong in the apartment building that houses Luke's bar. They weren't together when the Ball dropped, but what matters is they are together now. Luke is clad in a new pair of buffalo plaid pajamas, relaxing the last vestiges of the day away in their king sized bed while a black and white movie plays on low volume across the room. Two new sets of slippers are on the floor at his bedside that have jokingly become his 'business slippers' (comfy lined house shoes) and his novelty ones (hotdog buns) courtesy of Frank and Bart respectively. His large arm tightens around Jessica's shoulders, pulling her closer into a warm embrace against his chest. It's not a raucous way to start the New Year with his fiance, but to him it's the perfect one toasted with sparkling cider and cookies left over from Emery. "Oh. By the way, Danny gave us a stock portfolio worth about three hundred and fifty thousand." Luke rumbles a laugh deep in his chest. "Happy New Year, babe."

"You're joking right? Last year he gave me a gift certificate to some really nice clothes store and I think it was more money than I'd ever spent on clothes in my entire life. We got him a nice bonsai tree, because…ch-i?" Jessica shakes her head a little helplessly. Sums up everything she knows about Danny. And murmurs, "I'll just write a nice thank you note." She has not yet progressed to being the type of person who wanted to drag Luke into her shopping madness, because she turns into an anxious wreck while shopping for presents, and she figured one of the best presents she could give him this year would be to not subject him to that while inviting him to sign his name to anything he wanted. She had, perhaps to his surprise, wanted to add a tree to their apartment.

"Of course, I'm equally as flabbergasted Frank gave us presents. Maybe not you, but me? I really wish I'd thought to give him anything." She's about to spiral. She knows she's about to spiral. So she just rolls to her side to give him his belated 2019 kiss. "Happy New Year, Luke Cage."

Emma Frost doesn’t stumble. Not literally, anyway.

But halfway through a New Year’s Eve party held at a new art exhibition in Chelsea, Emma loses her desire to be sociable. Despite the fact that she’s wearing enough Swarovski to catch the light at every turn with crystals in her updone hair, dripping from her ears in huge chandelier earrings, and adorning the expanses of her nude-colored gown with its strategically placed feathers, someone spills a drink on her $700 stiletto pumps. He spends the next two hours regaling anyone who says ‘artist’ with his deepest middle school nightmares. It’s an art exhibit. He doesn’t run low on material, despite never telling the same story twice.

The telepath doesn’t even stay long enough to see the second wave of her revenge, she’s sliding into the back of her limo twenty minutes later and laying her head against the back of the seat. Her driver asks her where she wants to go, and it takes her a long moment filled with dark and destructive thoughts before she finally manages, “I don’t know. Just start driving, and I’ll tell you when I figure it out.”

Ten minutes into the aimless drive, she pulls out her phone from her purse, slowly navigates her way through her contact list despite her presently problematic vision, and dials…

Stark NYE parties are legendary.

There has been one every year and each year Tony Stark outdoes himself from the last. This year is no exception and perhaps Stark put a bit more into it than usual. With his departure from the company, this will be the last one he’ll host after all so why not make it memorable.

The lobby of the building full of party goers, the top floors of the tower full of revelers. Outside holographic fireworks explode, laser light shows dance from the roof of the Tower to welcome in the new year in style. This is, of course, New York City and everything has to be done in style and Stark manages it. Robots flying formation. Drones with little party hats. Every technological marvel that Stark could pull out is on display. It has everything…

…except Tony Stark.

In a dimly lit work room, surrounded by tools and benches of half-built dreams sits the man himself. At one side the little mechano-arm known as Dummy. A half empty bottle sits next to him as he listens to the party go on above and below him. A tumbler that was once full of something sits close at hand as he lets his eyes close long enough to feel the burn of what he just drank…

And the phone rings, splitting the silence with the opening strains of Black Sabbath’s ‘Evil Woman’.

Tony looks at Dummy and the little bot just rotates its arm curiously in what counts as a shrug. A smirk crosses the inventor’s face as he flicks his finger, answering the call and opening the video up.

“Emma? I’d have thought that you would be busy about now.”

The world is a blur around him; streaks of light and smears of colors and shadows, an ebb and flow of light and dark as Impulse passes through cities and the rural spaces alternating between them. Houses both big and small, lit up with people inside, some with Christmas lights stubbornly left to line the eaves or festooning trees and bushes. He rushes past cars en route from one party to the next as though they stand still, breezing his way along the stretch of road heading up to the City of Lights. It's New Year's Eve and the team had decided to throw a party at headquarters. Surely he can't miss that!

A new year, huh? It seems both long and yet gone so quickly if he thinks about it. So much had happened. He'd gained a half-brother. His workplace blew up. Demons invaded New York. New teammates, new friends. Was briefly thought an ancient god. Inherited a fortune, which makes… Okay, so he's still not quite sure how to categorize Tony Stark just yet. It's a lot to process, more so when Bart allows himself to reminisce.

The cold settles around him when he comes out of his run, frozen vapors trailing from him as though just stepping out of a sauna. Impulse pauses, stares, and then smiles wryly to himself as he gently knocks a fist against his own head. The 'T' of the Titans former headquarters stands silhouetted across the waters. He'd made a beeline for their old team home out of pure habit. One more thing to include in the night's recap, he thinks with a wistful sigh. But it's just a building. The Titans are wherever his team is, where his friends are. Turning, Impulse casts one last look at the tower before taking off. Because where his friends are, that's where he'll be.

In the observation deck of the new Titans headquarters, Zatanna Zatara, dressed for a party, kneels in front of a black candle in the otherwise dark room, with an empty bowl and chalice set near it. A thin thread of gray smoke coils from an incense stick. Her head is tilted back and her eyes fixed on distant fireworks exploding above the waters of the bay. Her hands cradle a sealed, glowing mason jar filled with water that glitters like shattered diamonds. After a moment, she leans forward and blows the candle out, leaving her silhouette illuminated only by the light of the magic she has trapped in the jar.

The Titans Mall remains festively decorated, with some combination of Holiday leftovers no one has bothered to take down or clean up yet and the usual New Years items, colorful banners welcoming the Year 2019. With how long the party has been going, many surfaces of the food court are covered with paper plates and forgotten plastic cups, or with fallen streamers and confetti from those popper things. It's like a very festive war zone. Amidst the team members who have gathered, Starfire stands in her extremely sparkly, sequin-covered party dress, hanging close on Nightwing's side.

Various jumbo video screens have been reclaimed from their usual video-game hookups to broadcast the countdown, with Times Square naturally figuring front and center among various others. "Three! Two! One!" they all call in unison. "Happy New Years!" As they shout, Kori turns, leaning down and into Dick as she presses a kiss to his lips. And then the two are suddenly sparkling. Not just in party glitter, but in motes of light, as their bodies fade away.

In the same instant, hundreds of miles above, they materialize in the cockpit of her small shuttle. The viewscreen shows the dark-shrouded Earth below, overlaid with holographic details, the line of New York's longitude highlighted and glowing more brightly, moving steadily West. "From here," Kori says, still holding on, and with a sparkle of mischief in her glowy green eyes. "We are not limited to just one kiss of the New Year. There are many more yet to come, and we can celebrate them all." Shortly after, the two have settled into some comfortable cuddling in the command chair, a warning blinks in Tamaranean on a nearby display: Vessel Entering Limits of Local System. For now, it goes unnoticed.

Amid the stress of the holidays and the halting grind of everyday life, there's still a lingering brightness amid the populous city streets of New York City. It comes in the form of old friends happily reuniting at an old haunt after years of wandering their separate ways. It appears as optimism masking apprehension in a man planning to surprise his girlfriend with an engagement proposal at midnight. It sharpens among the rowdy revelers in the streets, their excitement building as time-old traditions pass the hours until the countdown to the New Year commences.

No matter the distance, no matter the space, Raven can and will sense all of these things passing over and through her, like waves stirring in a pool of still water. The highs, however, have been a welcome change to the feelings she has experienced in the past; with all that has occurred within the past year alone, fear, anger, and frustration have constantly been at the forefront. And yet due to the undeniable lull of weariness, time convinces her to think that it's been longer, much longer than several months of constant struggle.

Violet eyes open after Raven softly exhales, narrowing under the shadow of her peaked hood as she fixes upon the lights and noise among the dark city streets. Despite the good she has done, despite her newfound and renewed connections to her teammates, she can't seem to shake the feeling of uncertainty that clings to the hope of a new start…

Frank Castle is in the process of discovering that New Year's Eve is not a great time to go hunting. Too many targets are at parties where he can't go without significant bodycount. He's only after very specific prey tonight: Hellraisers. Luckily, they're odd enough that they aren't all at parties, and so Frank Castle has found himself a target. The man already has his skull on, perched on a rooftop overlooking Times Square looking impressively demonic. Frank has his skull on too, the white paint bold on his black vest. His feet crunch softly in the gravel on the roof, but with the noise of the concert, the Hellraiser doesn't even move, not until Frank is just outside of arm's reach with his Ka-Bar held low at his side.

Then the Hellraiser whirls on him, bat in hand, and the two men batter and slash at one another, until Frank gets a hand under the Hellraiser's demon skull and tears it off. "Don't figure you want to just talk, do you, asshole?" The Hellraiser snarls, and then it turns into a yelp as Frank gets the knife across the other man's right arm, both arms now marked and bleeding. That robs the bat of a lot of power, and Frank soaks a blow to the shoulder, ducks in closer, taking a glancing blow to the temple, and then he's in under the weapon. The bat clatters to the ground, one of the Hellraiser's hands going to Frank's knife-wrist, the other to his throat.

Stumbling back, Frank clubs the Hellraiser with an elbow to the side of the head, and words start to roar in the backround, "10… 9… 8… 7… 6…" Another club to the side of the Hellraiser's head, and Frank pushes forward, driving the other man back away from the point of his knife despite darkness starting to gather around his vision. "5… 4… 3…" Over in Times Square, the ball drops slowly toward its base, and Frank changes tactics, slamming his left hand down into the Hellraiser's elbow to buckle the arm, "2… 1…" Castle rocks forward, slamming his brow into the bridge of the other man's nose, and fireworks blaze inside his head and out. "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" Kisses are being had up and down the Eastern Seaboard, but Frank… Frank has a headache and a collapsed Hellraiser to question about just what in the hell they're doing with Jennings and the Gotham mob.

Minutes before midnight on the rainswept New Year's Eve, the redheaded vigilante stands on the edge of the rainswept roof, overlooking the neighborhood basketball court, enclosed in chainlink. The purple leather of her suit is scorched, the laces of one boot torn loose from their usual tight crisscross; her reinforced gear has proven its downsides as the lack of give in the seams means she is more bruised from grapples and throws. A deep abrasion burns her right cheek, accented by a cut just beneath the edge of her cowl's mask. She looks down at the court, lit now only by the headlights of the two police cars. The lights illuminate the bodies of Hellraisers and the teenagers they had terrorized — the teenagers that they showed up too late to protect. Her chin dips low, gloved fingers closing into fists.

The New Year promises much what the old one did: struggle, small victories, inevitable defeats. It also holds portents of the new and different, the angles of never-ending war drawn slightly askew with the shifting of alliances and acquaintances, similarly old and new and both at once. Sometimes, apparent paradox is not so very paradoxical. The gusting rain slicks and darkens tousled blonde atop the features of the trench-coated figure who steps to the roof's edge behind Batgirl, the blood running down the side of his head from a blow amidst that chaotic crown gradually washed clean by its passage. John Constantine doesn't watch the police round up the gangers below, doesn't watch the ambulance carry away the civilians caught up in a thing they had no stake in; there's seldom purpose to be found in death, and less in those who would sell their souls in service to it.

Instead, John watches the redhead, lightly draws one gloved hand to him, a gentle gesture to turn her from the spectacle — and the destructive inwardly-targeted reverie he knows runs through her mind. "We did everything we could do." He's said it before; he'll say it again. It's unavoidable. "Everything we had to." It's scant comfort, and the rakish warlock knows it. He lifts his other rainswept hand to Batgirl's chin, and tips her gaze towards his own, offering in place of cold comfort a slow, steady kiss. It's far from celebratory, it's far from joyous: but it is a far more real comfort, and at times like this? Solace has to be enough.

"No, we didn't," the vigilante says in a stoic, cool whisper. It is the response of a woman who is not used to the failure, not used to the loss. Who did they really save? She's not even sure if the ambulance carries the living or the dead. Still, her hand opens to his at his encouragement, and her fingers gingerly lace with his. She allows him to draw her back, allows him to draw her in; the touch to her chin lifts her eyes to meet his briefly before the solace-inspiring kiss touches her lips. Her anger, her disappointment — the hard, brutal edge of her own self-analysis of failure — is given a momentary reprieve. The kiss is met — and with it, she feels the dawn of the new year.

Her head presses into the hard brick, the coarse exterior catching the fine strands of her black-brown hair. She cradles her wrist against her chest, feeling the pain in her knuckles, the dislocation of her hand. She stands in the alley, face tilted up to the stars that peek through the half-mask of clouds — but her eyes are closed.

She can still hear the dull roar of the crowd — the gasps and cheers and boos all mixing together into a stark, terrible cacophony. It had been strange in the ring tonight — her opponent felt like she moved faster, harder than she remembers from their previous fight. Her punches slipped, her kicks were ill-timed and caught more air than body. It came as a surprise when one of her punches did land, but instead of being awarded with the satisfaction of the blow, her hand screamed in agony with the impact.

"The Daughter of the Dragon has fallen!" The note went up through the crowds, and Colleen Wing hit the mat in with an unintentional surrender. Not a great start to a new year.

In Metropolis

In Metropolis, amidst a burst of a wild kaleidoscope of color, Katherine "Kate" Bishop can be seen dressed in fashionable winter outerwear as she pins a blond, older man on the ground while attempting to forcefeed him half a cheese pizza while chaos rages around her in yet another supervillain's attempt in ruining the holidays. She is later hauled off her hapless victim by Jessica Jones.

At the Edge of the Galaxy

It all started with an argument. It usually does among friends. Rocket saying something about how he could make better fireworks himself. Peter calling him out on the fact that he didn’t know what fireworks were before he came to Earth. Kitty somewhere in the middle, Atli contemplating new shoes.

And then Groot had said those three magic words. ‘I am Groot.’

Rocket and Peter agreed. A plan was formed. Copious amounts of booze were acquired. Possibly from Asgard. Possibly not very legally from Asgard. Don’t look too hard into it its fine!
Booze was consumed because of that age old excuse of ‘its New Years Eve’ and the Guardians of the Galaxy…well stole their own ship from SHIELD’s impound.



All too prove that Groot’s words were true. That space had the best fireworks.

Which is why the Milano is parked at the edge of a nebula, the multicolored gas cloud throwing shades of dozens of impossible colors across the interior of the ship. Aimed towards a distant star on the verge of going supernova. It will be fantastic…

If anyone was actually aware enough to enjoy it. Because everyone seems very close to passed out drunk. Quill is trying to rally, sprawled in the pilot's chair, leg over one armrest and mug of something in his hand.

“I told you!” His voice more than a touch slurred. “Best idea ever.”

It took quite a lot of alcohol in order to get Kitty to go up into space willingly. Or, well, drunkenly. 'Fireworks' light up across the nebula, the thousands of colors strangely beautiful and drifting. The drunk and half awake Kitty is sprawled against Quill, haphazardly almost falling off the chair as she watches the display.

Unable to help herself, she is softly rambling. Her words slur together every now and again, but she is emphatic. "Is it New Year's here?" Kitty can't help to ask. "I mean, there are time zones and this is outside of time zones maybe…maybe this is twenty years ago! Or five years ago! Or next Wednesday. In which case it's already the new year! Or hasn't happened yet. Or will happen. We could do this every night and it'd be New Years every night. Oh my God, you guys, we could celebrate New Years every night! Let's do it. I think we should do it. I think I get space now. It's New Years Every Night!"

"Verily, time is a construct. Otherwise how would I have cut through it to be here with you, all of you, my very dear friends."

This profound statement comes from the Girl of Thunder as she very carefully removes one of Kitty's boots, at which point she leans back in her chair somewhere to the side and behind the nearly passed out couple, and presses the bottom of the boot to her own foot. It could be she has picked up some bad habits from the Guardians. Like stealing. Wait, no, borrowing. There is a little frown and Atli drops the boot atop the pile of bottles at her side upon finding the boot to be Kitty sized, and not God-sized.

Yes, well. There goes her fifth plan to finally get footwear worthy of a God.

"Rocket, Groot. Come here, you are missing our great victory over this fool of a space blob that thought it could withstand our spacely might! Rocket? Groot?"

Behind Atli there is a bit of a shift, and a goatly snort, where said goat shifts. Is that a raccoonoid foot and oddly shaped branch sticking beneath the goat? No matter. Atli rises, meandering closer as she picks up the very last bottle nearby and tilts it back. "Yes. Whichever year this was, It. Was. Mighty."

And then Atli Wodendottir passes out, slamming face-first into the windshield and just sort of hanging there, face smooshed to the viewport as light reflects against her passed out visage, a grand display that she won't see the half of.

In Washington, DC

“Senator Kelly, sir,” comes a quiet man’s voice, breaking through the boisterous sounds of celebrations throughout the city and on the Potomac River. There’s a huge celebration at National Harbor, but the aide had handed over his event tickets to his sister and her new boyfriend.

There were definitely drawbacks to being the senator’s right hand man in a time when his pet cause seemed to perpetually in the spotlight, and last minute fire drills are familiar territory.

As the older man turns away from his thinking spot in front of the office window, the aide slides over a manilla folder, open and turned to a page of dates and locations across the country. “This is the finalized list of recommended stops. Torres is pulling together the statistics and presentation now. We should have that ready to go by early next month, and then it’s on to making sure that your travel arrangements are in order.”

The white-haired man looks over the list, and then closes the folder. The glasses come off, and he pinches the bridge of his nose. “I’ll take a better look in the morning. Sharon’s furious that I made her go to the Mueller bash without me, and I really just need to get home. You should, too.”

“Yes, Senator.” Then Paul stands and goes to get his coat from the hook by the door.

As he’s pulling on his wool scarf, the senator stops him by walking over. “One more thing…”

“Yes, sir?”

The younger man feels the senator clamp a hand down on the his shoulder. “You are doing a tremendous job here. Your country will thank you one day when they look back and remember how it nearly all went wrong. These are the moments that we’ll look back on, someday, and stand proud when we remember that we were the first to stand up and say ‘no more’.”

That younger man’s lips quirk into a polite smile as he holds out a hand to shake. “Thank you, Senator. And happy New Year.”

“Happy New Year.” Despite his commentary about returning to his wife, the Senator shakes his aide’s hand… and then turns and goes back to the window to think. He has a country to help save from itself.

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