Joyous Yule 2018
Roleplaying Log: Joyous Yule 2018
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Yule Celebration 2018 at the Asgardian Embassy

Other Characters Referenced: Thor Lorna Ms. Marvel Betsy Doctor Strange Power Woman Aquaman Selina Kyle Sloane Albright Nico Minoru James Barnes Jane Foster Darcy Lewis Jennifer Hayden Bruce Banner
IC Date: December 20, 2018
IC Location: Asgardian Embassy- Manhattan
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 22 Dec 2018 03:07
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 for alcohol use and suggestive language
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: Thor, Inga the Asgardian
Associated Plots

* OOC Time: Thu Dec 20 20:01:02 2018 *

* * *

The embassy has been decorated for Yule. Garlands are hung from rafters and wreaths decorate every door. Long tables are heaped with feasting foods ranging from roast boar and turkey to a variety of fruits and vegetables. Casks of Asgardian alcohol are situated in one corner, though a few tables are set up with alcohol form a variety of local distilleries and breweries next to it along with more pedestrian and widely distributed alcoholic beverages.

Asgardian and Earth traditions have been mingled, and a plant that normally has no place in an Asgardian Embassy is here, though a close examination will reveal it to be fake and made of plastic— Mistletoe. It is liberally evident in doors and arches throughout the embassy. The embassy's lighting is low, but the lit fires in the fireplaces and hundreds of candles arrayed on the tables provide a warm, cozy, intimate light.

The staff is clad in Asgardian finery. The women are clad in something like a dirndl while men are in suspenders and long pants. A dozen of so armed and armoured Asgardian soldiers of either gender are on duty, working near the door and to keep stray visitors from entering restricted areas.

Tables allow people to be seated. An octet plays Asgardian chamber music and a floor is cleared for dancing. A modern sound system is set up for when the party inevitably gets more raucous.

The attitude is formal, certainly, but there is an undercurrent of energy and anticipation throughout as if there might actually be a party waiting to happen amidst a sea of tuxedos and gowns.

Thor is not in the receiving line, instead he is mingling in an effort to keep the line moving. He is in uniform, gleaming mail and flowing red cape making him stand out in the sea of finery.

* * *

Here's the thing. Kamala HAS formal wear. She doesn't wear it that often because it's almost exclusively for weddings and similar, but when she let it slip to her mother that she was going to a formal event as a representative of the Titans, there was no way she was getting out of the house without looking like a bride ("because," her mother said, "who knows when or if you will get the chance to wear this?" which was definitely not supposed to be guilt-inducing. At all.)

As a result, Ms. Marvel has combined classic elegance with both science and wild excess. The theme is the night sky: it's picked out in silver and gold across midnight blue silk. The sleeves are long and tight with gold bracelets and wrist-cuffs that reach halfway to her elbow. A high neckline is softened slightly with a slit that reaches the top of her sternum, and the bodice is embroidered thickly in swirling gold thread. More midnight-blue silk falls to the tops of her feet, and though the hem and front slit (the dress is cut something like a coat with a black skirt underneath) are also thickly embroidered and set with gems, the gems are… glowing?

Yes. And so is a lot of the rest of the dress, particularly the skirt. Tiny LEDs glow under the outer layer of silk, twinkling and fading in the folds. For what it's worth, Kamala herself engineered this part: they're attached to tiny batteries that burn out in 24 hours but can be refilled and recycled. Either way, it means wherever she goes she's followed by a little halo of light. The dress is completed with a drape of silk embroidered with more tiny stars crossing from her left shoulder to her right hip and hemmed in with a wide gold-embroidered belt.

The effect doesn't stop there. There's rings on her fingers, little blue-and-gold shoes, and a necklace and earrings that continue the trend of Gold and Blue and Lots. Her hair has been plaited to one side in a thick braid set with pearls and tiny flowers. All in all, it's a wonder she doesn't clang when she walks. Even her fingernails have been painted to match.

One other problem: absolutely no etiquette books discuss what to bring a Norse god as a host-gift. Kamala was a little on her own for that one, though given that she's clutching a gold-colored gift bag it seems she's tried.

* * *

Lorna was working, technically. At least that was what she had been told. The young woman had gone beyond her comfort zone, beyond warnings from home.. and left her hair undyed for this one, single night. Green hair, vibrant and bright hung loosely about her shoulders in soft curls about her face. It was off set by the soft, silk dress that hung off her shoulders in a deeper, emerald green all trimmed in black velvet and gold. It hugged her waist and brushed the floor gently. It looked near enough to Asgardian taste and style as a gown from Earth could get without straight out copying the designs. Black high heels matched the trim, velvet and rich, strappy and clasped around her ankles.

Simple gold earrings dripped from her ears, and a matching armband clung to her upper-arm.

Still, the young woman looked awkward, she was tall by human standards.. but here? She hardly stood out.

Still, she had a duty to keep things going, to keep an eye out on Thor as well. It was all dizzying.

Lorna was well beyond her scope of understanding. Never in her life had she spent time in such a formal setting, much less with other-worldly beings and famous heroes surrounding her. The green haired woman kept to the sidelines where she could, green eyes scanning the room and stepping in here or there to fix something that she spotted out of place.

* * *

She'd had her hair given a colored gloss that morning, so now it looks like amethyst trapped in a thin shell of rose quartz. It pairs better with the ball gown of embellished antique rose tulle, that glitters with beads and sequins of rose gold, black, white, and clear crystal. Hair is swept up in a soft, romantic style, to show off the large, colorless, sparkling stones dangling from her ears and at the hollow of her throat with the faintest settings of rose gold. Makeup is also soft and subtle, faint shimmer versus more obvious glitter to highlight her features with a soft glow. Her nails are painted jet to match the black beading of her dress, with tiny crystals set at the tips. The shoes are strappy heels in a glittering champagne, exposing pampered feet with the polish theme extended.

Betsy will be the first out of the black limousine, a hint of a swirl to let her dress settle around her in true princess fashion, before she will wait for her date to join her. While she has a rose gold rose wrapped around her wrist, he has a pale pink rose tipped in the metallic hue for his lapel on his tux.

* * *

THE SANCTUM SANCTORUM, EARLIER

The protective spells on the home of the Sorceror Supreme can keep out almost any force in the multiverse - but not, it seems, the Christmas spirit. No, the residence of Earth's foremost magical guardian is in fact looking downright festive, with a cheery wreath hung on the front door (it occasionally sings carols, but only when it feels like it - also, it's started getting some of the words wrong) while inside there's Christmas music playing on an old radio, because the Sanctum's residents are decorating. Yes, they waited until it was almost the day of to do it. They're wizards, okay?

In addition to an actual small tree (provided by Zelma Stanton), Strange and Wong have hung lights from the living trees in the living room. The Sorceror Supreme is even wearing a very ugly Christmas sweater, a gift from one of the neighbours. They got a matching one for Wong, too; neither man seems to realise the implication.

"Ey, boss," says a Christmas tree, sitting on a table. It's not the tree Zelma brought; no, this one looks straight out of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Strange looks bewildered that it's even there, because he certainly didn't pick it out. It speaks with a difficult to place but probably Eastern European accent. "They're attacking again, yeah? Lots of 'em, hey. Maybe bring backup."

Doctor Stephen Strange, Sorceror Supreme, Master of the Mystic Arts, lets out a faint sigh, and reaches for his Justice League communicator (it's just his cellphone). After a moment's thought, he scrolls through the contact list down to P.

THE ASGARDIAN EMBASSY, NOW

The door to a coat closet inside the embassy bangs open, and a man in a red suit stumbles out. It's a very distinctive red suit, actually, with white fur lining… And it is several sizes too large for the man wearing it, who's been forced to cinch up the wide black belt about as far as it'll go.

His dark hair, with streaks of white at the temples, is sticking up in disarray, glued in place by something… Purple? Similarly bright-coloured goop mats in the fur of the suit, like smears of varicoloured gore, but the silvery sword he's carrying is clean.

"Well, that was…" Strange retches a little bit, coughing up a glob of… You know it sort of looks like sugary candy? Grimacing, he wipes it off on the suit. "…Horrible. You'd never think the gumdrop fairies would be so vicious. They're so adorable."

Somewhere along the line, he lost the hat.

* * *

Following Betsy is the King of the Seven seas himself! Arthur Curry emerges from the limo after Betsy, wearing a pitch black tuxedo and a pink tie to match Betsy's beautiful ballgown. "You look amazing." he smiles to her, before locking arms with the wonderful woman and walking with her straight to the venue. Though the Atlantean King does look for the God of Thunder, and likely shaking a hand whe it gets there, those eyes are looking for so much more right now.

Like hopefully nothing going wrong.

* * *

Selina isn't dressed overly-flashy, her gown all black and lacking anything like lights or other beautiful effects that'd make her stand out. She is, perhaps, underdressed compared to their host and many of the guests already present. That's not to say that she doesn't look beautiful by her own right. She just… looks a bit plain, perhaps. Hair pulled up into a loose bun, her shoulders are left bared, the neckline of her gown demure. The skirt is floor length, tight to her ankles where it then sweeps behind her in something of a train. Her midnight color scheme continues with her strappy heels that add a couple inches to her height.

Small box in hand, she steps into the great hall, looking as if she might feel a bit out of place.

* * *

"Hmm, yes. I suppose you are right, Toothbender. It seems somewhat like bribery. But then, if there is some fat man who can simply slide down your chimney and eat all of your children, a little milk and cookies seems trivial for such assured safety. Still."

There is a crunch then, as Atli eats the last of Scott Adsit, Agent of Shield's cookies. All while Scott Adsit's children look on in wide-eyed horror. Atli only then seems to notice them.

"Oh, do not worry Children fo Adsit, your father is a great hero, and perhaps more than that, a great singer. I am certain that Santa and his Klaws will never rend your flesh to bits while Scott Adsit is about." Her beaming smile washes over them all, and though Scott Adsit had some doubts about asking an Asgardian to be a last minute babysitter, Atli Wodendottir proves her worth. Also, it could be the only Christmas movies Atli has ever seen are also horror movies. "In any case, here is the Netflix stick, which will control your ability to see all manner of gruesome things, which will bolster you for when you all inevitably become warriors for the glory of Midgard."

Atli hands over the remote control, shoulders a great big bag of something or other, and pats Toothbender's side, the goat having just finished eating the cookie bag. And so that is how Atli Wodendottir abandoned three children to watch Rocket Raccoon's netflix account (which is likely, actually, Phil Coulson's netflix account) to attend a party for the ages.

The Girl of Thunder makes plenty of time to swing by and pick up a friend or two, and when Atli arrives, it is in less than formal attire. While she often meanders around the city and beyond in her light armor, tonight she is dressed down just a bit. It is a party, after all. Her midsection is most exposed, as if to laugh in the face of Midgardian winter, and where once was metal is simple leather, breeches and a wrap around to keep her modest. Over this is her vester and a cloak of some new construction, tinted a glorious red. Her spear is nowhere in sight, and she has a brilliant smile as she takes in the atmosphere. Oh, and of course, she's wearing her mismatched flip flops. A story for another time.

"Verily my friends, it is time."

* * *

The texts go to a single, particular number on her contact list; two photographs, and a whole lot of worry.

omw to asgardian xmas party, beware of goats
am i overdoing it??? i don't know this space diplomacy stuff
maybe i should change, fuck

THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW:

The last week or so has been incredibly productive for SHIELD Agent Sloane L. Albright: She's had nights off, actually gone outside, and even snuck off to a bar a couple of nights so she could stretch her legs with music. Now, a short-notice request from one of her best friends, Atli, leads to her arriving at the party feeling a little … out of her depth.

The dress is daring, at least by Merrow's metric: The modest collar of a deep red dress, cutting under her arms and essentially backless, letting the light play off of the rich and vivid blues of the scales on her arms, back, and face. Her shoes have a couple inches of heel and look expensive; straps cutting across her feet and breaking up skin and scale with a bold swath of color. Sloane's hair is styled up and pinned in a bun, though bangs and fringe are allowed to fall free to frame her face, and gold hoop earrings take the place of the usual silver studs in her long, tapered ears.

Flanking Atli from one side, she tries her best to not break out into nervous laughter, looking from the Girl of Thunder to the other friend brought along on the journey. Yes, we — are! I— um. … Holy crap, Atli, this place looks great."

* * *

NICO MINORU did dress up here, because god dammit it's an excuse to dress up, and she estimates - in the brief moment after Atli surprises her by honking her goat and saying 'get in nerd' or words to that effect - that she can wear what she wants, and the people of Asgard will roll with it. As such, Nico comes forth in an outfit that seems to be suiting her, because she's standing upright and walking with a far more confident stride than is, statistically, her average.

NICO MINORU'S DRESS is. … a double-breasted long-sleeved dress in thick cotton with polished buttons and a deep-red set of ruffles and collar-bow. Garter-patterned stockings in black and white. Platform calf-high boots with zippers and fasteners. A silver chain from her nose ring to her left ear, dangling with tiny glass beads of red and green. Forest-green lipstick, red-and-white eyeshadow. (Exciting visual references here, True Believers! - https://imgur.com/a/8gL60M7)

Nico spots Kamala - it is hard not to - and gives her a thumbs up tipped by a poison-green fake thumbnail nearly two inches long. Her other, non-thumbs-upping hand is cradling a large bottle wrapped in brown paper with a 'THANK YOU' sticker on it, which Nico, true believers, did NOT purchase herself. She asked Atli to conduct the actual business transaction. No crimes were committed. this time.

"Is that chamber group playing the Immigrant Song? Badass," Nico says to Atli. "— Is that Thor? Do I give this to Thor directly?" Her voice lowers conspiratorially. "If I do is he gonna just pop it right there?"

* * *

PREVIOUSLY, ON KAREN STARR: THE POWER WOMAN

Karen is sprawled in bed in a hotel in Hong Kong. With her frustrating all of her business partners by having a long vacation coming up — going back to the Kent farm is a ritual she's not disrespecting — everyone is trying to get their work done at the last moment. With as little offense directed to Hong Kong and her fine hotel as possible, she really, really would rather not be here. How is it possible to get exhausted from signing papers and shaking hands?

Her JL communicator buzzes on the nightstand next to her. Her JL communicator is also her mobile phone because she's a technologist and knows how to keep her work lives separate on one device. Karen twists to grab it, holding it above her head as she checks the name.

DOC STRANGE

"Oh this is going to be a weird one, I can feel it," she murmurs.

It's not a difficult guess.

NOW

Power Woman stumbles out of the closet with Doctor Strange, clad in a red dress with white fur trim, matching gloves, candy-cane patterned stockings, and black square-heeled ankle boots with golden buckles. At least, this was the color composition before someone hurled various buckets of rainbow-various viscera at her. Or she did something that had a similar effect.

Power Woman staggers a step, reaches out to place her hand on the doorframe, and puts her hand over her mouth. She closes her eyes and waits for a three count, and then straightens her poise and looks up. Still has the longest record in the League for no puking during Strange emergency calls.

Her surroundings catch up to her. Power Woman leans over and stage whispers to Strange.

"Doc, I thought we were going back to your place to clean up before going to the fancy party where we're trying to impress people."

Power Woman hesitates a moment, thinking this through. Maybe being covered in gore is a plus for Asgardians. She's gonna lean on that wishful thinking for now.

* * *

Ever since he'd officially thrown into the ring of registration to back Tony Stark, James Barnes has found the rather quiet existence he's tried to lead after his trial steadily disrupted by a growing resurgence of media attention. And why not? The Winter Soldier, being one of the first to put his name on the metahuman registry? Some decried it as unfair pressure put upon an American hero, who had been exonerated after terrible things were done to him; many others said, 'good, leash him up, who knows when he'll go insane and start murdering people again.'

Bucky himself has tried not to do too much speaking on the subject, leaving it to the many PR people circulating around SHIELD and the Avengers, but then there are functions like this one where it 'helps' for him to show up in solidarity with Tony and Thor and the rest of the Avengers, and all that. Nonetheless, he convinced backup to come with him, at the least. His argument was that he would die if he was left alone to talk to people for several hours.

Their arrival is rather low-key, the way Bucky tends to prefer things these days, and his suit is similarly non-daring in a shade of dark charcoal. The seam holding the left sleeve to the jacket does look a little loose, though. One of the last times Bucky went to a party that ended badly, he needed to tear his sleeve off for full functionality, and he's just decided to go ahead and make the operation easier this time.

They don't get far into the party before some interesting guests arrive. "I don't think that's Asgardian entertainment," Bucky observes to his two companions for the evening. "…is it?" The involvement of viscera makes it hard to tell, honestly.

* * *

Psylocke takes Arthur's arm with a smile, greeting those in the receiving line, before peeling off as appropriate to do the mingling lap. "Well, it wouldn't do to look plain Jane when I'm out with you, now would it?" There may be just a bite of British sass there under the light tone. Violet eyes will glance at her escort with an arched brow as she accepts a drink to sip from. She's not mentioning the other evening, not yet. That will not be a public discussion.

She will spot Thor, smiling just a bit as she remembers that encounter in the street with the very large men. That had been a fun trip into the city, meeting Thor and Steve Rogers had only made it more so. "Is there anyone here you know and would like to greet?"

* * *

"Fair enough, but…you would think that I'd at least look normal here." and Arthur STILL feels out of place. Maybe it's because of hte lack of Atlantean armor of great kings or his Trident in hand. though he does keep the handy thing nearby juuust in case. But he's happy she hasn't tried to put him on the spot in front of God knows how many people.

"Well….hmm." he spots Karen stumbling out of a closet apparently. "Apparently Karen is having a good time already. Lets go say hi?" he smiles. "I hear a lot about that guy…might as well say hi." of course, he speaks of good ole Doc Strange.

* * *

When the Certain Number got the Certain Photos and Texts, the recipient took a selfie that included a tiny Pakistani woman crouched in front of her hem while the wearer, photographer, selfie-taker, and recipient of Sloane's pictures (it's Kamala, okay). The following came next:

this dress is like 20 lb
i'm pretty sure it's bulletproof
you are not overdressed you look fantastic!!!!! i am not allowed to have skin i think my mom thinks she is sending me to a wedding. maybe my own. remember me as i was, a free house-elf

So it is that Ms. Marvel, when she sees the blue-and-white Sloane in her lovely dress (PATRIOTIC), hustles over there. It helps that Nico is there, too. It kinda helps that Atli is there, because Atli don't give a crap, but Atli is, while always a blessing, also always a mixed blessing.

"I'm so glad to see you! You guys look amazing."

* * *

Jennifer Hayden's sole cop to the dress code are her nicer pair of shoes. Not 'nice'— certainly not expensive. Sensible winter-style boots that are probably a season past their expiration date. Jeans and a sweater makes for an unflattering, casual ensemble. Only the photography gear slung around her neck and in her bag marks her as more than a party crasher.

"Smile!" she tells a couple, and the camera goes *click*. "Thanks," she says, a little laconically, and meanders into the crowd. Short and unassuming, she'd totally blend if it wasn't for her emerald colored skin and the spinach green of her hair. Despite her lack of concern for her clothing, she's a least brushed out the tumbling locks to a healthy sheen.

"Smile for the camera!" she tells Psylocke and Arthur, bracing herself backwards to support the camera on the steadyrest and snap a flickering array of photographs of the duo.

* * *

It isn't that he is distracted so much as she's distracting. Thor has had absolutely no interest in the green haired woman. None. Not an iota. An almost insulting lack of even an appraising eye. It's her daughter who has his heart. At least until she stopped dying her hair, and she wore that dress. Blue eyes dart over to Lorna periodically. His lips quirking in an ever-so-soft slightly crooked little smile from time to time as he looks over at her. "My assistant, Lorna." Thor keeps indicating her. As he listens to the Nigerian ambassador, an elegant man by the name of Kalu, Thor pauses, and he leans over to whisper something to the man. The man looks surprised, then gives a broad smile and looks skywards.

One of the ceiling lights opens up, and Thor's goats, clad in silvery jingling bells and broad leather tack descend from the ceiling. Perched on the back of one of them is a car seat, where in an adorable little girl, clad in a little green elf suit waves as she descends on goat back. Someone has applied leather harnesses to the goats, giving them each an immense pair of antlers behind their massive ram's horns. Despite their bulk, the massive beasts almost delicately descend through the air on cloven hooves to land amidst flash photography and applause to the floor. All the while, Lorna's daughter, Dawn, is eating up the attention as the littlest party guest.

"Dear friends and beloved guests, my noble steeds have graciously agreed to pose with party guests, though please do not feed them anything shiny? It makes them cross." Thor's voice booms in the room, as the God of Thunder is aptly titled. The goat with the baby carrier on his back gives a cross, loud, bellowing bleat at Thor. The staff moves over to remove the baby carrier and the adorable little girl from it as the goats move over to a corner to await the photo opportunities. One shoulder chucks the other, and they mean mug each other for a moment, then settle in to glower at each other and be photographed with company.

Thor whispers something to the Nigerian ambassador, and the man readily nods. Thor kisses his elegant wife's cheek, then moves over to greet the Atlantean monarch. His bow is courtly. Mjolnir gleams at his hip and his cape is swept back in a flourish. "Your grace." It is an anachronistic greeting, and almost certainly reinforced by the Asgardian Prince's secret addiction to Game of Thrones. "We are honored to receive you and your lovely companion."

Doctor Strange meanwhile is approached by a woman of uncommon proportions and height. Her voice is low, warm, and ever-so-slightly teasing as she offers the Sorcerer Supreme a tankard of mead. "For you, Santa and Mrs. Claus?" She asks softly, seemingly amused by the man and woman. 'We were not expecting you both until later." Apparently, she believes they are the entertainment. "Have a care. This is mead from Midgard with a slight bit of that from Asgard. It is, potent." Somehow, the way she says the word is vaguely, pointed, and a little flirty.

Some women dig the silver foxes. Inga gives Power Woman a little smile. A smile poor Power Woman is used to. It never ends. "This is your daughter?" Inga asks Strange.

Kamala, meanwhile simply is barraged by flash photography. Her dress is a hit. Selina Kyle, meanwhile is offered a drink with the same warning that the good Doctor is given.

Bucky and his date receive a casual wave from Thor, but he is greeting royalty, so that is as much as the Asgardian prince can spare.

The Asgardian staff wanders the gathering, offering drinks and warnings of the unusual potency. even those who maybe are a touch too young to maybe be drinking are unfortunately offered a beverage as Asgardians have different considerations regarding alcohol.

* * *

Earlier that day Tony Stark had received an invitation. Well truth be told he received it earlier /much/ earlier than today but he just looked at it today. Then forgot about it. A Christmas party. He's made several appearances at them so far this year and perhaps he things that will be enough. Some days you just don't want to go to a party. Especially when its only a few days after a not very pleasant anniversary.

So instead he was working. He was building. He was doing what he does best when he wants to avoid doing other things.

/Sir./ JARVIS intrupted him several hours ago. /There is a party for you to go to./
/Not feeling it, buddy./ Had been the reply.
/…of course, sir. I just thought to remind…it is the Asgardian party…/
Tony had stopped. /…I'll get my coat./

Which is why as the guests arrive the screech of tires, as always, announces the arrival of one Tony Stark. Stepping out of his car in a perfectly tailored white tuxedo, because of course he is. Black bow tie. Red carnation on the breast.

…because sometimes you just have to feel like a secret agent. And really there is nothing like the classics.

He smiles for the cameras, laughing as he strolls in like he owns the place…because that is how he goes everywhere. He is just about to say something when Strange and Power Woman stumble out of a closet…and there is a smirk at that.

"Always one-upping my entrances aren't you all?" He calls out towards the pair of them, laughing dancing in his eyes as he glances at the pair over the rims of his glasses.

* * *

Oh thank God. A drink! Selina flashes a bit of a smile before she takes it, all teeth and everything, then she moves out of the way, not wanting to block the entrance into the embassy anymore than she has while working on gathering her nerve.

When Tony calls out she pivots slightly from the waist, taking him in with something of a laugh. She has never had cause to meet him, although they might run in similar circles, but she knows who he is. Hell who doesn't know who Stark is? Her glass is lifted to him in something of a silent toast, a hello given in gesture rather than word, and then she's pressing further in.

* * *

"Hmm."

Atli chinrubs at Nico's question, and then waves a hand. "From my grandfather's stories, most bottles ever delivered to him were aimed at his head. I say, do whatever feels right." And then she gives Nico a pat on the back, and is just about to slide her arms across the shoulders of her two companions and lead them on a merry adventure of revels when a pair of viscera covered, party crashing, Yule Demons step out of the closet.

"That doesn't seem right. Ah yes, the Marvelous One. You look most Marvelous tonight, do make sure you drink in great quantities and wake up next to an attractive stranger."

Atli gives Kamala a distracted thumbs up as she steps a little closer towards the closet, and the pair that came out of it, her big great bag of something or other left behind and forgotten, spilling out water wings and all sorts of floatation devices in her wake. You see, Atli is always prepared. She always has a plan. No one would be felled by the Yule Tide if she could help it, and if the movies she had been watching are correct, it is a dangerous tide indeed.

"Hello there, Christmas Closet Demons covered in the rotting blood of your victims! If you could perhaps refrain from rending our guests apart until i've retrieved my spear, that would be most appreciated!"

But then they are being treated like guests, and Atli furrows her brow and crosses her arms. It is not until the goat lords enter bearing a child that she stares on in actual horror, her eyes wide and her mouth agape.

"What.. the Hel."

* * *

"I do now know this Karen or this other guy, so feel free to lead the way." Betsy will say to Arthur, before she will pause for the photo. Her head tips, model-perfect smile flashing easily for the camera. She will give the photographer a warmer version of her smile.

Thor will get that warm smile with a side of amusement, as she releases Arthur's arm to allow him to do whatever it is a god-type and a king-type meet. It's certainly not something that was in her etiquette classes growing up. "Thor. It is nice seeing you again without those blue louts about. I trust you finished your holiday shopping?" The model will beam at him, violet eyes bright. It may or may not click to him just who Betsy is, without her psi-katana in hand.

* * *

Jane Foster is not a function person. In fact, she is decidedly anti-function, still lingeringly triggered from all the post-doc schmoozing that never went anywhere to get grant money from people who didn't know the first two words into the natural of her work. These things are largely redundant, monotonous, and an utter waste of her time better spent eye-deep in some monstrosity she's electrically engineered to life.

But some functions, she concedes, are worth it. Especially those that involve friends. It doesn't do to hole up in her lab for a week straight.

In a surprising break from her uniform of jeans and plaid… Dr. Foster cleans up well. Clad in a simple cocktail dress — nothing elaborate, simplicity and functionality always — coloured a dark, cobalt-blue, and her dark hair pinned in a half-knot, she enters at Bucky Barnes' side: ever the famous, faithful significant other to the equally-famous ex-Winter Soldier.

Checking her clutch briefly — remembered her migraine pills, good, care of a recent diagnosis, she took a handful of them while getting ready but may need more — Jane's dark eyes are surveying the crowd.

"I really hate heels," Jane is already complaining to Bucky and Darcy in tow — arrived together — before some of her grousing drops to turn her initial smiles on those in congress. The first is aimed at Thor, a warmth there when he makes greetings, and she answers his wave with a mouthed 'Nice digs!'

She spots familiar faces here and there — oh god, Atli — and — Tony. Jane's mouth presses a little tighter to see him, not in disapproval, but with an inflection close to worry. Something she's becoming to sport more and more. And worse of all —

Bucky's attention goes Strange-wards. Jane clues in a second later, double-takes, then rearranges herself to press her knuckles to her mouth. "Is that —"

* * *

Looking back into the coat closet, everything would seem… Perfectly normal. As though it hadn't just been a portal from some ethereal realm, where… Honestly, it's difficult to say exactly what was happening, if one were to look at the unexpectedly festively-dressed Justice League members.

Covered in sugary viscera.

"Right," the Sorceror Supreme says. "I opened the portal directly from the Island of Misfit Toys to the Sanctum, and…" Frowning, and slowly squinting, Strange looks around. This is definitely not the Sanctum Sanctorum. In fact, there's a bunch of people here, and unless Wong and Zelma started throwing parties when he was away (not infeasible) that was definitely not the usual state of things at the Sanctum. There's also a certain goat-y smell which he definitely doesn't associate with home.

Also, perhaps more worryingly, those people have noticed them.

"Ah," Strange says, bobbing his head in a slow nod. "So… Right. Definitely the wrong portal. If we just quickly slip back inside, I can conjure…" Nope, they're being approached! And he's being offered a drink, at which point the wizard is trying to juggle the tankard and the (vorpal) sword, without accidentally cutting anything (it's pretty sharp (it's in the name)), but then…

This is your daughter?

Stephen opens his mouth, closes it without a word, and turns to look at Power Girl, festive and gore-spattered. They get called demons by a red-haired young woman, and that doesn't help any. Instead, he finds himself say something he never thought he would ever say in his entire long life:

"Oh thank god, it's Tony Stark."

"Uh, sorry, Miss," he tells Inga, who is to be honest sort of intimidating. "Me and Mrs. Claus need to go tell a billionaire industrialist he's getting coal this year."

There's a squish under one booted foot as he steps away.

* * *

The Marvelous One is not THOROUGHLY used to being photographed quite so excitedly. She's not a model! She's a science nerd. But apparently electrified Pakistani formalwear is what everyone wants to see tonight, and she flashes smiles and the Model Pose (one foot back, one turned out) until they go away.

"Atli Thorsdottir!" Kamala's smile is somewhat manic. "I couldn't get the thing you suggested. I can't buy alcohol — no, thank you," she continues, smiling sweetly at the server who tries proffering little gold cups. "Er, do you have anything non-alcoholic?" Do non-alcoholic drinks even exist in Asgard?

But then there's Santa's Evil Twin and Naughty Mrs. Claus staggering out of a closet AND — "Oh hey, it's Mister Stark. Of course he'd be here." Resist, Kamala. Resist the urge to show off your sparkles to the boss. But THEN —

"Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, it's Dr. Jane Foster." The words are a worshipful whisper. Kamala's eyes go wide as she watches the lady. Of course she's seen her in Stark Industries a dozen times, but she's never had the courage to actually greet her. HALP.

* * *

Darcy Lewis happens to be the third companion with Bucky and Jane.

Like most everyone here she's dressed rather 'up' for the formal evening. She wears a simple maroon off-the-shoulder dress that has a slightly flared skirt. It's that floof of a skirt that Darcy is currently messing with. It's so rare she gets to dress in what she calls 'big-girl' clothing. Normally it's all jeans and t-shirts and beanies, but not tonight! Not tonight! And even Jane dressed up! Christmas miracles do happen.

Either way, at Bucky's words, Darcy automatically stops messing with her skirts and looks up and then over at the slime covered guests. "I'm gonna say that seems like a negative, B-Man." Darcy says lightly, before her gaze sweeps the area as she jokes, "Man this place is already packed. We might have to elbow our way through this crowd."

And then Thor waves in their general direction and Darcy, being Darcy, raises a hand up and waves right on back. Much like Jane the brown-haired woman offers a, "Great party."

Then it's back to her two companions and when Jane seems to recognize someone Darcy says with natural curiosity, "Is that who?"

* * *

Artgur grins widely at Thor as he is given such a wonderful greeting! "Hail and well met, Thor. Thank you for throwing and inviting us to such a wonderful party. Truly, you've already outdone yourself." he clasps Thor's arm heartily before he looks to Betsy, smile wide.

* * *

Lorna directed guests that asked after the bathrooms, distracted by her work as she answered questions and made sure that everyone knew where they were supposed to go, sit, or where they could find the drinks when their cups went low. Thor's glances, his introductions to ambassadors and elegantly dressed guests sailed over her head. She pushed green curls back from her face, as she gaped at her daughter's entrance.

Her lips parted, her head tilted back as she stared as her daughter, dressed as an elf of some variety, rode in on flying goats. More over, her daughter giggled and waved and grinned at everything around her with the delight of a toddler. The sea-foam green haired little girl was obviously related to the only other woman with green haired locks in the room. Which was proven over as Lorna rushed forward as soon as other staff had taken her daughter from the child's seat off the goats. The little girl babbled happily in her mother's arms. The two a matching set of gem-tone greens, a promise of Spring and Summer in the depths of Winter.

Lorna smoothed her daughter's hair back, holding the little girl close as she smiled weakly at the staff and waved off their concerns.

"Please tell Thor that I just need to step out for a little bit, I'll pass her off to the care givers in a bit. Thank you." She murmured, and made her excuses to step out of the main party room briefly. Hopefully there wouldn't be any international… inter-planetary? Dimensional? Issues and or diplomatic issues as she stepped away.

* * *

"You'd better conjure fast because my danger sense is picking up incoming flirting," Karen murmurs in aside to Strange.

TOO LATE. APPROACHED BY THE ASGARDIAN.

Fortunately for Power Woman's need to believe in miracles, alcohol arrives with said Asgardian. That's both a miracle in itself and an enabling of believing in them! Truly godlike alien societies have their priorities together.

Unfortunately, Strange gets the tankard. Power Woman can't argue. The guy just horked up gumdrop sludge. Instead, she gives Inga a weary smile in return. "If he is it's news to me, and I've had enough surprise magical parents for one decade."

Power Woman raises her open hands toward Atli, which is normally an indication that she doesn't want to fight but in this case just shows off more sugarplum fairy goo because she did a lot of punching.

"Look, kid, they were technically victims but they definitely had it coming. It's actually illegal to try to devour people, even for fairies."

Strange mentions Stark. Power Woman glances his way, then immediately looks through the crowd to spot Tony. For a moment, the life drains out of her. Time to see if the bio-electric disguise aura works on experimental nano-augs. Then, Power Woman is back into full form, which means projecting confident nonchalance.

"Sorry, duty calls," she says to Inga and Atli, raising a gumdrop-soaked glove. "Guy has been very, very naughty. We had to start a new list."

* * *

Jennifer gets a few snapshots of Kamala's outfit. "Very nice," she murmurs, though the party's loud enough for her quiet voice to get lost in the shuffle of things. Kamala's given a politely grateful nod. Then the photographer's scooting onwards, loading a new flash drive into her camera with practiced and smooth motions.

Jen hesitates for a moment, putting her back to a pillar so she's not blocking the flow of foot traffic. While she's on a low rise she snaps a few photos of the swirling melee. Her eyes remain fixed on the viewfinder while she captures images of some of the East Coast's biggest movers and shakes rubbing shoulders with one another and (actual!) royalty.

* * *

"Thanks!" Nico tells Kamala, grinning for a moment before letting it segue into a more normal smile. This is less bad with her lipsticks. She then looks over as the Odinson speaks unto them, eyebrows raising as she curls and uncurls her fingers, the long fake nails on 2 fingers and 1 thumb per hand feeling, no doubt, kind of weird.

She was about to say something to Sloane, probably, when Dr. Strange and Power Woman come out the closet with the force of a thousand kellies. Blinking several times, she says "hi" in a way that gets somewhat drowned out by Atli's more thunderous voice, leaving her next to Sloane for a moment. "So," she begins to Sloane, before looking back at the arrival of

o/~ Tony Stark~! o/~

"I guess everyone's invited, huh," Nico says. Her arms fold a little, the bottle of powerful something-or-other staying snug in her arm. When a staff comes by and offers her a drink, she takes the glass and raises it to her lip. "Mead rules," Nico tells Sloane, which is extremely mature and adult. She downs it a moment later.

Her eyes squeeze tight shut and slowly open. It runs down her tongue and her throat.

Courage and eloquence fill her! For a shining moment, Nico Minoru completely loses the ability to say 'uhh' and to laugh nervously. Those space-fillers are replaced with burning vigor. "Wow," she says to Sloane. "Okay, that is REALLY good." Then she takes a deep breath and calls out, "ODINSON!"

There is a hesitant pause for about a heartbeat but Nico then raises her totemic object aloft. "I got something for you! It's completely legal!"

* * *

At last, she sees the dress beyond a picture with a mom in it. At last, she sees the masked Ms. Marvel in her fancy blue dress, and Sloane shifts the fanciest clutch she owns under her arm, letting her hands clap together twice upon seeing the masked Ms. Marvel. "Shut. Up. That dress looks great, Mz."

She doesn't get to greet for long, though, as Power Woman (holy shit!!) and Doctor Santa come stumbling out, a total mess of gore and holiday cheer. Sloane's fiery orange eyes open wide before she lifts a finger, turning her head to look at Atli for something — help, guidance, or even a modicum of understanding— because Atli is, really, the only touch point Sloane has to understand Asgardian culture.

This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view.

"Tony Stark shows up to every party; I'm pretty sure he's psychic." Sloane says, glancing toward Nico. With drinks offered, Sloane hesitates for a moment before she sees Nico's reaction — both with the firm declaration of how awesome mead is, and then taking a more conservative drink before it hits her tongue — and while the alcoholic content is pretty potent, it's not as jarring to her tastebuds as hard liquor.

"Talk about liquid courage," the agent murmurs, taking a second glance at the offering, before a glance is shot at Nico with a squint of her eyes. "You're twent—"

— 'ODINSON!!'

She'll … get back to that one in a minute.

* * *

What can Atli do but agree with both Power Woman and the Strange One, tilting her head from side to side when they mention Tony Stark being naughty. It is, in fact, the only thing she is certain of right now. Without further words, she lets them pass, reaching out absently to swipe a bit of goop from Power Woman's shoulder to sample it.

"Hmm, tastes somewhat like Alfhiem.. everything." When Lorna rushes over to get the child from the goats she snaps her fingers. That, too, now makes more sense. For a moment, she had thought Thor had stolen a green headed child from somewhere. Crisis averted, she turns to Kamala, that question about drinks without spirits producing only confusion.

"Hmm, I'm not sure what that means."

Finally she waves a merry wave to the green haired woman on her way out, meanders back towards her friends.

And then.

"NOBLE BARNES! SORCERESS SUPREME, JANE FOSTER!"

Atli does not waste time, she rushes the pair, skidding to a halt in her flip-flops before them both. "A merry yule to you! Do not worry, I have floatation devices. Ah, and you have brought a friend. Verily, tell me who you are, friend of Barnes and Foster, and most welcome guest."

This she beams to Darcy, while looking between them all.

In the meantime, Toothbender smells something sweet, and begins homing in on Power Woman and Doctor Strange like a hungry shark.

* * *

Bucky nods back to Thor's greeting, but doesn't seem to expect much more of the Asgardian's time than that. Guiding Jane and Darcy out of the receiving line to make way for other arrivals.

Jane leaning against him draws his attention back. "You holding in?" Bucky asks, when Jane complains about her heels. Her migraines have been worrying him. "We can go early. Whenever you're done with all this."

That's about when Tony arrives with a little less fanfare than usual, which is to say he isn't flying in in a suit. "Cmon," he says, guiding Jane and Darcy through the crowd towards Stark. "Let me do the elbowing, I've got a good one for it."

Drawing up alongside Stark. "Hey Tony," Bucky says, reaching to grasp the other man's shoulder. It is a bracing sort of grip; Bucky knows the date. And he, like Jane, feels worry and responsbility over Tony Stark for other reasons.

He might have said more, but then Jane notices a certain personage. Bucky's own eyes widen as Doctor Strange turns and he recognizes him. "That," he answers Darcy, "is a grade-A asshole. That's Doctor Strange, the — "

SORCERESS SUPREME, JANE FOSTER!

"Atli?" Bucky says, a little weakly. "Uh — good to see you."

* * *

Inga's eyes linger on Doctor Strange. It is an almost predatory look as she watches him walk. One of the other staff walks past Strange and she murmurs something about 'crushed pelvis' and 'good luck'. She offers Power Woman a mead as she walks past and she gives Karen a slightly too bright smile and an almost saucy wink. Maybe the staff has been having a few drinks themselves? That same woman wanders over and offers Atli two tankards. "Princess?" She asks, as if making sure she is allowed to approach.

Thor clasps Arthur's hand warmly, and he nods to Betsy. "Aye. I do recognize thee, my lady. Tis good to see thee once more and in the company of one of the finest men of Midgard. King Arthur, please assure the staff that thou art of suitable constitution if they ask." He gestures to the staff. "From my meadery." He tells the woman indicating Arthur with an energetic point. "I would know what thou—"

Odinson? That's Thor. He pauses. "I must beg thine pardon." He looks about and espies Nico. He visibly thinks though the list of guests and he has no idea who the hell that is.

He really regrets that mug (or five) of mead earlier. "My lady!" He gestures. "You came! Tis glorious to see thee!" He fakes it. "How might I be of service." He pats Arthur's arm again, "We must have a meeting, you, I, and Princess Diana sometime soon. I am certain we can accomplish great things together, I have no doubt." He shoots the pair an apologetic look and wanders over towards his guests. An astute eye might notice he watches Lorna and Dawn leave, looking out of sorts, as if vaguely upset at himself over something. He steps towards Miss Marvel, Sloane and Nico. He points at Miss Marvel. "The spring water." He apparently heard her request. Ears like a fox, or some such. He adds, "Hail the mighty Titans." He greets Miss Marvel as an equal and a true heroine, dipping his head with respect. "You honor Asgard." It sounds like a grateful tone. He looks about and his smile returns when he sees Atli and he calls out, his voice like thunder, "Hail Wodinsdottir, and princess of the Asgard to come."

Far off, thunder roils in greeting.

* * *

Naughty? Stark? HOW DARE—

No not even going to finish that remark there. He's totally naughty in various forms.

That wicked smile of his never fades as Selina Kyle smiles at him from over the heads of party goers. That gets his attention, that /always/ gets his attention and he smiles back even as he swipes a tankard of something from a passing waiter. Does he know whats in the thing? No not really. The pretty woman is giving him a toast and he needs something to return said toast. Which he does, and in fact starts in her direction…

But there is so many distractions from all sides.

Goats and Babies and holy man he might actually have been sorry if he had missed this. Maybe. Especially when the opportunity to embarrass his employees raises its head.

That is right. He sees you all over there. And takes a few steps in that direction even. "Super soaker!" This angled towards Sloane. "Nice dress, and I see your shiny friend trying to hide while giving Jane over there the eye." A beatpause. "You want me to introduce you? Here I'll introduce you." And he turns towards where Jane and Bucky are walking in to wave them over. A pause. "Darcy too? The gang is all here! Come on over I got someone to introduce you too!"

"SO! Jane this is the ever fashionable, Ms. Marvel. She is totally always fashionable. And pretty damn smart. You'll like her. You already know Super Soaker, and Little Lightning." This a gesture towards Sloane and Atli.

"And this is Jane Foster, who has almost ended the world as many times as I have. Almost." A flash of a grin. "And her brooding gunbunny, Bucky. Who enjoys cleaning up our messes."

Atli suddenly is right there as well there with hip flasks and shouts. A flash of a grin.

"Little Lightning. I'll have to make sure you still have a place on the roof after I move." A beatpause. "…and I didn't know Thor had a kid. It isn't like…a snack for the goats is it?" A beatpause as he raises his voice towards the Lord of Thunder. "Thor! Your goats have acquired a child shaped hat!" Oh wait mom swooped in and god it. "No nevermind. Looks like its taken care of!"

"…now…if you excuse me I think I need to introduce myself to some lady that was smiling at me…" Again looking for the fleeting form of Catwoman…

…and entirely unknowing that DOOM approaches on Strange and Power wings.

* * *

Darcy is a-ok with letting Bucky shoulder the load of pushing through the well-dressed crowd.

As she passes by people she automatically offers greetings, "Hey, hello, hi.", and there might even just be vague hand-waves. "'xcuse us. Coming through."

And then they're over by Tony and Tony greets them, Darcy is quick to flash a grin, "Hey Boss-Man, how's it going?"

More could be said, but Bucky's answer to her question about 'who that is' pulls a look from the brown-haired woman. Again her gaze cuts to Doctor Strange, "Grade A, huh? I'll keep that in mind for future reference." Because friends stand with friends.

That's right.

That stray thought brings Darcy's gaze back around to Jane and for a minute Darcy watches her friend with half-concealed concern. That concern tucks itself away, however, at Tony's rather inspiring greetings. Automatically Darcy waves at Ms. Marvel as she's introduced to Jane, "Hello! Nice to meet you!"

The mention of Jane's gunbunny also prompts a flash of a grin from the brown-haired woman.

* * *

Bruce Banner isn't exactly festive or particularly prone to being seen. He's never been particularly good at conversation or mingling to begin with, much more comfortable in a laboratory or a library than among the people. But here he was, just the same, a bit rumpled and awkward, his hair dissheveled as he does his level best to go unnoticed. He keeps his hands in his pockets and, in fact, seems to have managed to miss the coat check, his jacket pulled closed over a Caltech sweatshirt.

He does get a drink, though. Nothing wrong with a little social lubrication, especially to keep you calm. "What the hell am I doing here?" he mutters to himself, finding his back up against a wall, giving a nod to anybody who looks his way, whether he recognizes them or not. He doesn't always know who knows him.

* * *

"Tell me about it, lady," says a muffled voice from Strange's pocket, when Power Woman offers a defense for why they're covered in gumdrop fairy gore. Moments later, a stuffed animal head pokes out from the too-large red suit; it looks like it was supposed to be a bear, probably, but it's missing an eye, and its ears look like they were from a stuffed dog. "Those gummy bastards keep tryna' kill us every year! I seen 'em tear the train with square wheels apart, piece by piece, 'cause the sorry sumbitch couldn't get away fast enough."

The Sorceror Supreme's eyes tighten when he realises that one of the misfit toys has, in fact, stowed away on the trip back into what most people would consider conventional reality. Also, why is something so misshapenly adorable so foulmouthed?!

"Listen," Strange says, tucking the vorpal sword (carefully!) under one arm before using his sword hand to push the stuffed bear-dog back into his pocket. "If you need me to do a quick glamor or something that's no problem, I mean there's a lot of people here, and…" That red-haired Asgardian is very loud, so it's difficult, indeed nigh impossible for him to not hear what she shouts in greeting.

"Well, now I have a headache," Strange remarks, before stopping, standing there, and drinking the entire tankard of probably dangerously strong alcohol in one long pull. For a wonder, nothing weird happens. At least, not yet. "Oh, that taste does not mix with the gumdrops," the wizard does note.

"Yeah," agrees the muffled voice from his pocket. "Those fairies ruin everything, the gummy little fu—"

Strange cuts off the bear-dog by shoving his hand back into that pocket.

"Okay, so, hey, hi," Doctor Strange says as he comes up to the knot of people around Tony, which notably includes Jane and Bucky in what is surely a completely coincidental turn of events. He offers the empty tankard towards someone without looking - probably Darcy, she does have kind of a waitress look to her - before continuing. "Doctor Stephen Strange, Sorceror Supreme. Or I thought I was, anyway, since it sounds like Miss Foster here is taking my job? And this is my associate, Power Woman." See? He's not a grade-A asshole all the time. "How you guys doing? Enjoying the continued existence of reality as you know it? You're very welcome."

* * *

Sloane is so sweet that Ms. Marvel gives her a quick hug, dignity be damned. But then THOR ODINSON is there, and her attention's seized by the party's host. At least she kinda knows how this part goes.

"As-Salamu-Alaykum, Prince of Asgard. It's an honor. I — " She raises the gold gift bag slightly. "From the Titans, a small token of gratitude for your kind invitation." A pause. "…the only actual reference I could find to host-gifts was in Njall's Saga and I didn't really feel like a silk gown with gold buttons was your thing, so…"

The contents of the bag include several small boxes and jars of the favorite snacks and delicacies of the Titans that can mostly only be found in New York. Some really amazing chocolate truffles, for example, and a small jar of pickled pineapple (deceptively amazing). Kamala doesn't bow, but she covers her heart with one hand and offers the bag with the other. "With my compliments and those of the Titans."

And THEN. Then Tony is introducing her to Dr. Foster, and her eyes may be getting huger than they did when she got to greet, y'know, an actual god. She extends her hand to shake with both Jane and Bucky, squeaking out: "Hi! It's an honor!" That's almost passable. But then: "I READ YOUR ARTICLE ON THE EINSTEIN-ROSEN BRIDGE AND IT WAS THE MOST EXCITING THING I'VE EVER READ — "

Throatclear. Strained smile. "Big fan."

* * *

Jane's gunbunny, who enjoys cleaning up our messes, Tony introduces him. Bucky sighs audibly. It's almost like being back in 1944, trying to prevent Howard and Steve from doing Yet Another Dumb thing, and Peggy isn't even here to help him right now.

"Darce, the nickname's not up for fair use," Bucky says automatically, as if sensing Darcy grinning about 'gunbunny' behind him.

But he's being introduced to someone now. "Nice to meet you," he greets Ms. Marvel, which is obviously a codename. He shakes her hand, smiling faintly at her enthusiasm. "I'll give you some advice right now if you're just starting an association with Tony Stark: only listen to about 15 percent of what he says." A pause. "If that."

And then Doctor Strange sweeps in. Bucky looks at the ceiling as if he might find an additional reserve of patience floating up there. "Doctor Foster," he says, with the sort of tone that suggests he's had to repeat this correction a lot. "I'm sure it's more than just you holding together reality, Doctor."

He gives Darcy a backwards glance that seems to suggest it would be fine if she sort of just let the tankard hang there, untaken, forever.

* * *

"Hey, thanks," says Power Woman as she snags the offered tankard. She raises it in acknowledgment to the woman. Saucy winks don't phase her. Really, saucy everything doesn't phase her. Power Woman has been caping for twelve years now. She's… seen things.

This is also why she declines to comment on or generally acknowledge Atli sampling some fairy murder goo from her shoulder. Sometimes she's just gotta let people follow their bliss.

Power Woman follows Doctor Strange across the room. She's in fan-meeting mode, so that means headnods and points toward people she feels looking at her with more intensity than the usual checking out. Charisma is often just reciprocating attention.

"Hey it's Aloysius!" says Power Woman, lowering her mead after a swig. The bear is much higher in her esteem than Strange's."I thought you got eaten, little guy. Glad you made it."

Power Woman doesn't question the mechanics of this because it's simple horror movie logic that the first named character you think died (not counting intro death characters, naturally) has a decent chance of coming back in the third act or the denouement.

The blonde pulls up to the Circle of Stark with Strange. She raises her hand in greeting as she's introduced. "Hey. Pleasure."

She takes another drink. Yeah, this is good mead. It almost takes her mind off of her very reckless experiment of seeing if Tony buys into her being Power Woman. The aura hasn't failed her yet, but science is science.

Her gaze flits between Strange and Bucky. Oh no, they have history. Jabbing history. Awkward.

* * *

SYS: Kate Bishop is now set as an observer.

* * *

Nico Minoru flips the Coin of Ill-Advised Action and gets tails.

* * *

"Great Thunderer," Nico says, "I am Nico Minoru of Malibu."

She bows deep at the waist. Her nose chain jingles.

"This is a powerful drink of my people," Nico says, proffering the bottle, which is a 750ml of hipster-as-h*ck golden ale aged with cider lees in bourbon barrels. "It is a small thing but I am still like, developing in my occult powers and stuff? Anyway thank you very much for your hospitality and okay that's all!! Your goats are great," she says, shifting a little closer to Sloane. This ends her spiel, although there is time for the Thunderer to interject further.

"Tony! I can call you Tony, right," Nico says, around the corners of Tony's introductions. She trails off, slow-blinking at Jane when she's introduced as a semi-hemi-demi world-destroyer, saying afterwards, "I'm Nico, hi." ("why are you super soaker," she asks Sloane then, in the sidebar.)

Then Doctor Strange comes in and immediately begins chatting up Darcy. Nico looks to Darcy, over to the Doctor, back to Darcy, back to Strange, and to Strange she says, "So where did you and Dr. Foster get those titles, huh?"

* * *

"You are no fun." Mutters Darcy to Bucky, though her tone is more amused than anything else.

Because he knows her well enough to she would totally have used gunbunny. Totes.

And then, all of a sudden, Darcy finds a tankard being thrust at her, by Dr. Strange even! And while she automatically reaches for it that look from Bucky stops her. Quickly she drops her hands to her side with an almost apologetic look to Bucky (and Jane). She's just too used to doing intern'y things, like taking empty cups.

Carefully, now, Darcy mouths to her two compatriots 'total grade A'. Total.

When Nico arrives at their little group Darcy automatically smiles. "Love your make-up." However, at the mention of Doctor Foster, Darcy is quick to subtly point at Jane versus herself. "I'm just Darcy." She's quick to offer to clear up any confusion.

* * *

"A mighty revel, Noble Barnes, I am happy to have you here."

At Thor's greeting, Atli lifts a hand, one now holding a mug. She lifts her other hand as well, and also has a mug! But then she realizes who doesn't have a mug. Hmm, well, this needs to be remedied. And so she offers all of her mead to Noble Barnes and Sorceress Supreme Jane Foster, the light of the dawn shining through that godly smile. Don't worry, she'll get a proper, filled one for Darcy too. But it all melts away as Tony speaks of securing her favorite camping spot on his roof, even after he leaves.

"Wait, do not tell me the Ancestral home of Lord Stark has been overrun yet again. Verily, I shall call upon those here to free it from possession. What has befouled the realm of Clan Stark this day?"

Don't worry Karen, Atli isn't going back for seconds. Toothbender is another matter entirely. Fortunately, he finds Doctor Strange first, sniffing at him before letting the good doctor enjoy the sensation of goat tongue replacing that faerie goop with the much cleaner goat saliva.

Atli does not yet notice the quickly growing miasma of goat indulgence and instead ponders a city without the home of Clan Stark in it. One eye larger than the other, and then she fixates on Strange's face. "Lord Stark is this man your brother? He seems to have copied your beard."

Subtle is not the way of Atli Wodendottir, and she narrows her eyes, wondering if perhaps Stark's brother is challenging him for his fortress.

* * *

Her arm is quick to hook around Ms. Marvel's shoulders, giving the girl a grin before glancing around at their surroundings. "I'm so lost here," she confides in the other inhuman in whispers. She doesn't even take a breath to add, "Does that guy have gumdrop guts on his Santa suit?"

"Heyyy, Tony. — what can I say, red's my color."

Stark's method of introducing people is about as wonderful as it ever was, brow creasing and frowning a little bit at 'Super Soaker.' They may have met once before in the past, but it was likely under more intense situations, so she does her best to preserve manners through Tony's routine. "Sloane Albright," she says, her scale-backed, cool-to-the-touch hand extending in turn toward Jane and Bucky.

Nico asides toward her, and so scaled Sloane tilts her head toward the stylish mage in return, speaking in aside, "I beat up a giant robot with water." She waits just long enough to prompt a response, then adds, "Long story."

Atli — mentions the beards. Her lips press together in a line, and she tries to not smile what with … Tony Stark, techno-guru, and Stephen Strange, sorcerorus Santa.

* * *

Thor accepts the gifts with a gracious smile. A staff swoops in to take them. "Leave those at my desk, please? It all sounds and looks delicious." He nods. "Ms. Marvel. Have some of your associates come by and pick up thine gifts? They are less whimsical than the ones thou hast graciously gifted me, but tis some kitchen appliances I have discovered make quick work of making snacks. Young bodies require tasty nourishment to grow strong." He pats Ms. Marvel's arm in a chaste gesture of comradery. "I am told things might grow complicated with recent legal changes and the like. Know that you currently stand on Asgardian soil, and this is a place where we can all discuss the issues of the day as equals and without fear of reprisal." He reaches for a mug of mead as a waitress goes past. "Kindly remember that." He then holds out an arm towards Atli, as if expecting a hug. He? might be well into his cups already."Is that thine goat or mine molesting the man in the red suit? Is that Strange? The man. The man's name." He clarifies twice.

* * *

"All good," Jane answers Bucky, with a brief smile — there's many things she wants out of this good world, and none are them to bring more worry to his life. He's had enough. "It's probably just all the lights. And the holiday cheer. And, seriously, these heels. Darcy, I hate you for convincing me to buy these."

But the grousing comes with an amused tightening of her eyes; whatever her sea legs when it comes to parties, she's determined to be a good sport at this one.

NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, SUCH AS:

Exhibit 1) Dr. Strange.

Darcy asks who it is. Bucky answers. Jane agrees. "Also known as Dr. Jerkwad. I think Magic Tony is another name we use. It's like Harry Potter if you take out all the whimsy and replace it with a giant stick up —"

Exhibit 2) Atli.

The thusly-proclaimed Sorceress Supreme winces at the larger-than-life arrival of the Asgardian, though it's really, really hard to stay mad at Atli. It's like kicking a puppy. "Atli, seriously, I'm not the —" Just give it up, Jane. "It's good to see you. It's been way too long, and possibly not weird enough in your absence. I'm still getting over that last — oh. This is Darcy. Darcy, Atli. Princess of Asgard. From the future, of course. I'll explain the nebulous details sometime. Atli, this is my old research assistant. I think Stark is husking out what's left of her common sense. There was little to begin with."

All dead-panned, from Straight Man Foster. Darcy's probably an old hand at this.

Finally, Exhibit 3) Tony Stark.

He whirlwinds in, and though Jane's concern lingers at the wings of her expression, she seems relieved to find him as — vicacious as he is, these days. She exchanges a silent, moment-short glance with Bucky. "Tony. I did not almost end — this is not appropciate party talk, oh my god, James is not a gunbunny, and —"

Jane's attention turns on Ms. Marvel, mask and dress and all. And, perhaps by magic or simply the Miasma of Tony Stark, all of her exasperation is simply gone, vanished into thin air, and replaced with a warm, if not slightly tired, smile. She extends a hand. "Ms. Marvel? Super pleased to meet —"

AND THEN ALL THAT. The torrent of words leaves Jane staggered, somewhat silent.

Perhaps famous now for a multitude of reasons, you still can't teach the introvert nerd how to not introvert nerd. So her response to that is just to blush inelegantly up to her ears, and manage, "Oh, well, it's, thanks, um, you're exciting too!" What the hell, Jane.

At least Dr. Strange is now here to absolutely hear her sounding like an idiot! Jane answers him weakly, "Hi. And I'm not a sorceress anything, I swear, Atli is from — well, I think string theory may be involved."

* * *

The only thing that makes Bruce feel any sort of comfort is that, even here, things haven't changed that very much. He might have a monster of indestructible rage inside him. He may have been a fugitive and a hero, faced down aliens and mad scientists. But when he shows up at a party, he's still the weird nerd in the corner who doesn't know how to talk to anybody and lurks at the edges of the conversations trying to seem like he doesn't stick out like a sore thumb.

He sort of…lingers around the edge of Tony's conversation. He's known Tony since they were both teenagers, gifted kids competing for the same grants and the same awards at the same conferences. Tony usually won those. People love giving awards to rich kids. It's a good way to get a back scratched. Not that he minded. The world wasn't fair, he knew that better than anyone and he certainly wasn't going to let it bother him or get on his nerves, no matter how much better his particle analysis algorithm was than his…

Y'know, maybe he should get another drink.

* * *

"Mister Stark is a very intelligent man," Ms. Marvel says with an entirely straight face. "Who says a lot of very interesting things." See? Diplomacy!

Bucky. Oh. OH. The name strikes her just about the same moment that the face from her history books clicks into mental place. Don't fangirl. Don't fangirl. "Gosh, it's wild to meet you both," she says while trying to figure out a dignified way to say WE SHOULD TOTALLY HANG OUT AND BE HEROES TOGETHER.

And then Thor, who is immensely thoughtful. Kamala beams up at him and responds: "Thank you very much, Your Highness. I understand your meaning and I'll pass it along. I understand — and I appreciate it. We plan to continue doing the right thing. For preference within the law. The Titans didn't form to be vigilantes." All true. Admittedly, they may become less than legal vigilantes before long, but. They aren't NOW.

Aaaaaaaand now there's a wizard, who Ms. Marvel also recognizes from newspaper clippings and hero-watching Lextagrams. And when it seems like it might become a fight — "Doctor Strange, I've heard so much about you. Ms. Marvel. Definitely not a Doctor Anything. It looks like you've had a really interesting evening!" Smile. Smile. SMILE. Smile and take that spring water and wish like heck she was old enough to drink and also not absolutely prohibited from it.

* * *

"Always call me, Tony." This to Nico as he's addressed again, and then Strange and Power Woman add to the bunch. Stark's train of thought derailed from his search he turns back to the little knot of people with a smirk.

"Fifteen percent, Bucky? You're being generous. You know that is in the offical Avengers records as 'broody gunbunny' right?" This towards Bucky and Darcy so he can let them grumble about that.

He smirks slightly as Kamala fangirls over Jane before turning attention to Strange and Power Woman. A flash of a grin towards the good Doctor. "Tony Stark, Genius, Playboy, Billionaire, Philanthropist." He introduces himself to the pair of them with that same toothy grin of his.

Karen is worried, Strange offers his help. They both are right to be worried about Tony Stark. The man, should be put his mind to it, is capeable of impossible feats of science and technology. The heights he can reach when properly motivated stagger the soul. Thankfully for all involved…

He gets distracted easily.

Give time and effort and energy his nanno-augs might just break though Power Woman's shielding. However he has none of that on hand right now, she wants to keep her ID a secret and Stark doesn't pry. I mean he might be free with his true name, but he isn't about others.

Besides, he's lazy.

"So Doc," This towards Strange of course. "Rumor has it your the only one that can be as much of a jackass as I can. So its nice to meet you. As Atli points out you have excellent taste in facial hair." A pause. "I'd shake your hand but its covered in goo and goat drool. That stuff /stains/. Trust me."

His eyes slip towards Power Woman and again that bright smile as he nods towards her. "And a pleasure to meet you too, I'll be moving to your neck of the woods pretty soon I'm thinking…" Well that explains some of the background for Atli.

For the rest…

He just smirks at the firey Asgardian. "No need to start a war on my account, I'm just moving my operation to Metropolis. Don't worry, Pepper still is gonna run Stark Industries. Though They might rename it to Allen instead. So no need to stab anyone over it!"

A pause.

"She was your research assistant, Jane. Like she had any common sense left when she got done with that."

But then someone else catches his eyes and…

"BRUCE! I see you over there…come on over here and meet people! Everyone this is Bruce Banner. Bruce, this is everyone."

…look at that. Introducing people is so easy!

* * *

"They look great on you." Darcy is quick to reply to Jane's mention of the /shoes/.

And then more introductions!

Darcy is quick to smile at Atli, "Nice to meet you, Future-Princess Ma'am.", and then Jane mentions her common sense and Darce just affixes a wounded look upon her features. "An arrow to the heart, Jane, straight through the heart." Which has her adding, "And Jane would know since she was my first *boss* and all." Which coincides rather nicely with Tony's similarly themed remark. It has her giving the man a quick thumbs-up and a grin.

Back to the group, Darcy once more hears introductions and turns her attention to the new person being introduce. A hand raises upward in greeting as the brown-haired woman says, "Nice to meet you."

* * *

Strictly speaking, it's not his Santa suit.

It actually belongs to… Well, most of the people here wouldn't believe Strange if he told them.

"Oh?" Strange says, with a certain faux surprise, when Bucky corrects him - not for the first time by any means - about Jane's proper title. "Well, congratulations on graduating medical school then, Doctor Foster." He gives it all the disdain you would expect from a vain and prideful medical professional. Honestly, when was the last time an astrophysicist ever stitched someone's brain back together?

The empty tankard does, actually, end up just kinda floating there with Darcy prevented from taking it by Bucky's intervention, and Strange carefully switches his grip on the vorpal sword, resting the flat of the blade on his shoulder. He should probably do something about that, but all things in their time, right?

If there's anything that makes it difficult to fully lean into being kind of a dick, though, it's that bright and innocent and actually unnervingly wide?? smile from Ms. Marvel, who also introduces herself, all exuberance. He looks at her, and opens his mouth, and then he feels a tug on the red suit he's wearing.

"HEY, WHAZZAT DOIN'," demands Aloysius as he pops back out of the pocket to see Toothbender bending teeth like four whole inches away from him. His life is in peril again! Goats eat everything!

Strange just lets out a bit of a weary sigh.

He'd answer Tony's comment about his dickishness and facial hair, but there's a frown that crosses the Sorceror Supreme's face when he turns to look at Nico. It's almost recognition - not of identity, but of kind. But the girl also asked a question, didn't she?

"Well, I got the Doctor title from Columbia University," is the wry answer from the sorceror, before he takes a turn for the ominous:. "Sorceror Supreme is the title conferred on this realm's mystic defender by a higher power, after many harrowing trials."

"Seriously, boss!" Aloysius pipes up, really undercutting the moment. "If I could I'd be peein' myself here!"

* * *

"Yes, well met, Darcy, Junior Sorceress Supreme." That's what it means to be an assistant to Jane, right? She beams a smile at Janes, and looks almost sheepish. Certainly, she has not been around as much as she could. "Soon I shall come visit, and bring a book for you, and some sort of munition for Noble Barnes. It will be a grand evening. I will even cook. Ask the Steven Rogers, Shieldmaiden of Midgard how good my cooking is!"

There is some amount of side-eye as Thor extends his arm for a hug. Atli stares at it long and hard before finally tilting her mug back to drink and drink in direct challenge to her one-day-grandfather's show of affection. It's always been a bit odd, being here with Thor the Avenger, who both is and is not her grandfather. And then there's the mystery of her grandmother.

But, all that said, it is the season. It might be a season for people to step out of your closet, covered in faerie gore and whatnot, or perhaps the season to fend off the terrible tide of Yule-vengeance, but she has noticed something else. As those gathered begin to converse, as friendships are re-affirmed in the glory of mead and all present seem to enjoy a merry gathering, she relents somewhat and drops her mug to the side to give Thor a hearty hug.

It is brief, for he calls attention to the goat.

"TOOTHBENDER! The Brother of Stark is not for.. whatever it is you are trying to do to him!"

Atli does her best to rush in and dislodge the goat, hopefully before Strange decapitates it or somesuch. Don't think Atli didn't notice that wonderful, oh so sharp sword! In the midst of goat complaining and all manner of nonsense, Atli struggles with the beast briefly, until finally she's nearly bowled over into a table nearby, and then Power Woman.

"Excuse me there, great woman of excellent proportion. My goat is most onory this evening and he almost knocked me into THOSE."

Atli is of course nodding to the gifts piled upon a table. "Might I ask your assistance in wrangling him outside?"

* * *

He both is and is not her grandfather all at once. Some quantum state that Jane or Tony could explain. After giving her a fierce hug, Thor simply watches after her. 'Ah. Tis yours. Mine are almost certainly eating someone's watch." he deadpans to himself. He takes another swallow from his drink and lifts it in salute to Bucky and Jane. He brightens. "Banner!" He warmly greets Bruce, his voice carrying a resonance as he greets the other Avenger.

With that, he turns his head to watch Atli. He regards her shoes for a moment, and rubs his forehead. "Atli. I have had a room prepared for thee here at the Embassy. Even if thou dost never use it, tis always a place for thee in my home." He knocks back the rest of his mead. He mutters to himself, "Where is Lorna?" He looks about and makes a face. Another mug is pressed into his hands before Thor gets moody. No one wants that.

* * *

Looot of history going on here. Lot of stuff Karen really doesn't want to get tangled in. New York has so much interpersonal drama. At least in Metropolis people just shoot each other with experimental alien technology to work out their feelings and call it a day.

Power Woman waits for Tony's reaction while working on her mead. She doesn't usually get things served in tankards. It's making for a pretty heavy dose of not-having-to-talk-to-people. While she waits for her turn, she idly runs through the possibilities of the nanotech interaction with her bio-electric field. Theoretically, nothing should interfere with her subconscious suggestion aura that she and Karen Starr are not the same person at all despite numerous logical points to the contrary, but—

Tony's eyes slip toward her. She sees the distraction in his expression and half-lids her eyes in turn. In the end, it's her other super power that does the heavy lifting.

"We have a whole traffic manual for meta flight right of way, I'll email it to you," she deadpans. The banter moves on and, with it, Power Woman glances toward Strange. Specifically, she glances toward Aloysius squirming in his Santa suit.

"Hey, doc," she murmurs, using a more personal volume. "I'll take the bear and drop him off with Wong. I don't have as much patience for being covered in dried sugar as you do, anyway."

Power Woman sets her tankard aside on a passing platter and then reaches in to pluck the bear from its Strange hiding place.

"C'mon, we're putting you with the rest of the talking Christmas paraphernalia. I got a tree you should meet —"

Atli is summarily goat-punted into Power Woman, who shifts a foot backward out of reflex to center her balance but otherwise does not move at all. She waits for the other woman to disentangle herself from THOSE.

"What, you mean my eyes?" she says.

Atli gestures toward the table. Power Woman's gaze slides over to the presents. Aha.

Bear in one hand, Power Woman reaches for the goat with the other as she heads out. "Yeah, sure. We've almost got everything we need for a petting zoo."

* * *

("oh I see," Nico answers Sloane, re: her super soaker powers.)

When Darcy answers her, Nico's eyes swim for a moment, but then she nods emphatically once to Nico. Darcy. (Also to Nico, probably.) "Thanks," she says, smiling - carefully. "I don't look too much like a peppermint stick, right?"

Her lips press as she suppresses a snort at Jane "Actual Adult with a Degree" Foster drops a burn on Dr. Strange.

Strange does not get deeply froggy, and answers her. In Nico's mead-fueled assessment this is a positive development, a sign of character. "Oh," she tells him. "You don't have to go to an Ivy for it, right?" She smiles afterwards as if to say: This is (mostly) a joke. "So what… happened to you and Ted there? That smells like sugar but looks like blood."

This is where Nico would normally stop but she does not. "I mean I wish I could just like spray out red sugar instead let me tell /you/," though she doesn't qualify this remark, not yet. BACK TO KAMALA. "Are we out here? I didn't know we were out." She is then distracted by Atli wrangling a goat, like you do, which means that her eyes inevitably rest upon the incomparable Power Woman and also the nearby stack of gifts.

Nico looks back, gradually, from Power Woman, Atli, and the Emoticon-That-Grazes, in favor of Dr. Strange, briefly, and then to Darcy, to whom she says, "So you work with Dr. Foster? Is it like normal work or like /adventure/ work. I dropped out of high school, so I had to become a secret adventurer."

* * *

"You do not look like a peppermint stick." Darcy is quick to confirm to Nico; because every girl should have that sort of affirmation. "It's totally cute."

With that affirmation now given, Darcy considers that last question of Nico's. "What do you define as 'no-rr-mal'?" Asks the brown-haired woman, the word 'normal' being stretched out somewhat. "Like the world is ending normal? Or I just have to pull out the taser normal?" Of course at the mention of becoming a 'secret adventurer', Darcy adds with amusement, "You know it's not a secret if you tell someone, right?"

* * *

"Yes, well, thank you Thor. I shall endeavor to use the room, and bring many, many guests."

Here Atli gives Thor a great big thumbs up, and as she begins to wrangle the thrashing, very upset goat with Power Woman, she asides. "Hmm, I should introduce you to my friend Rocket. He is small and beautiful, and does very much enjoy petting. And do not worry, the goat is very familiar with my other best friend, also a tree." Note to all those involved: Only Atli has been able to successfully pet Rocket's head without getting bitten.

"Oh, Sloane Brightscale! The goat is being a fool, and so you may have to call an 'uber'. Come now, Power Queen, let us teach this goat the meaning of manners."

No really she just intends to take the goat to Baskin Robins because nothing else will shut it up once it's had a taste of sweets.

* * *

"Aye. Many guests." Thor replies, then he puts it together. Wait a minute. Guests? He calls after Atli. "Not that many!" That is not going to sit well with him. He is pulled away to meet with some other ambassador for a moment, shooting his Earth family an apologetic look as he steps aside to be an adult and ambassador, and generally all the things a prince should be and do. He pastes a little smile on his face as he does so.

* * *

("Yeah, it's a thing. … it's pretty cool," Sloane replies to Nico.)

Letting her back straighten — with corrected introductions handed out and the like, she looks between Nico and Doctor Strange before she brightly injects, herself, "Oh, I studied at Columbia for awhile!" and what the hell is in his pocket

Sloane cannot, honestly, help herself — she's staring at the debacle of Toothbender, Atli, and Power Woman, even bringing a hand up to cover her mouth as things become dangerous for the Girl of Thunder.

"Wait. Atli! Are you—" The next word out of her mouth was going to be 'serious,' but then she's gone, with her goat. Thumb and forefinger lift, pinching the bridge of her nose while she sighs. "I swear to god if I get *another* call from a donut shop because that goat ate the stock *and* a chair, I'm gonna…"

* * *

"Traffic manual for meta flight?" There is a laugh, a shake of his head. The billionaire smirks just slightly. "Alright so New York might need that. I'll get Pep to share it with the city, she'll like it I'm sure. But yeah, I'm pretty sure I'll need that. I'd ask how you'll get my email but you're the League. If I haven't given it to you already you'll just get Batman to find out."

There is a smile though. The man seems to be enjoying himself.

"But…don't worry too much about me. I have a basement lab already worked out, trying to get a little facility away from the busy parts of the city. It'll be fine. We might be seeing more of each other! I mean I'm hoping. Trust me, I'm not that bad." A beatpause as he glances at Bucky and Jane. "Don't listen to anything they have to say about that."

At least the facility is away from the busy parts of the city. He's learned that much.

There is a wave towards Thor as he walks off and then Stark himself is starting to slip in the direction of the bar. "Now, if you'll excuse me. I have some Asgardian mead to make some horrible life choices with." …he is putting that nano-tech to the test isn't he. "Don't any of you do anything I wouldn't do tonight!" A pause. "Strange, seriously though. Sweet beard." And the man with seeming inexhaustible energy gives a nod before off he goes towards said bar.

* * *

"I mean I'm not using names," Kamala whispers to Nico. Shit. Did she? "At least not to anyone who has codenames. But I'm Ms. Marvel. Dig the mask." She points to it, just in case.

In the back of her head, though, a few things are coming together. She straightens and looks between Power Woman and Doctor Strange.

"You… didn't kill Santa, did you?" Cue a look of growing horror.

* * *

"Ah, I told you /what/ I am," Nico tells Darcy with a raising of her eyebrows, "but I didn't tell you about the secret /adventures/. I have to advertise, right? Or else I'm just going to end up in the least secret adventure of them all, /debt/."

"BYE ATLI," Nico calls towards her, before asiding to Sloane, "Did she just… pick up Power Woman? Are goats the new dogs? This is bugging me." Looking back towards the others she explains, after giving Kamala a firm nod re: the mask - excuse her, /Ms. Marvel/ a firm nod etc. - "I had a tragic past so I don't have any loved ones to protect."

"Do you actually have a taser?" Nico then asks Darcy, curiously.

* * *

Man, Arthur must have been daydreaming! though he does give a happy smile to Thor before the Atlantean King wanders off, snagging a thing of Asgardian mead while he does so, he seems to smile. "This looks like fun." though…his eyes then watch as apparently bear and goat wrangling is about to occur. "well then. I'm starting to love these Asgardian parties."

He goes to find a seat where he can observe the most festivities without having to adjust himself constantly. It's a good day. Wai,t, who was talking about tazers?

* * *

"The magic? No. I think you know that already, though," Strange replies to Nico, grey eyes watching her. The third one, too, but likely nobody present can see that, beyond some tickling of awareness for the less experienced spellcaster. It's clear enough to the Sorceror Supreme, though, that the girl's magic isn't the usual run of things: There's a curious sort of miasma that hangs around her because of it, sticking to her aura…

But oh, right, social interaction.

"They were gumdrop fairies," Stephen explains, as though this were perfectly normal, with only a brief look of exasperation towards the departing Tony. "I had a… Run-in with the Island of Misfit Toys some years back, and promised them my assistance. The fairies go on an annual rampage around the winter solstice, like… Gummy locusts."

His attention slides to Ms. Marvel, with her horrified question.

"No, of course not," the sorceror says, sounding almost… Offended? "I just borrowed his suit. It has strong protective spells woven into it, you see, and… Hm. Wait," Strange realises with a sigh, scrubbing his free hand through his hair. It does not help. "The hat. By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, I left the stupid hat behind." He really doesn't want to have to explain to Santa why his hat is missing: 'Jolly' old Saint Nick can turn around in a real hurry. "If you'll excuse me, I need to go find a threshold nobody's crossed in the past half hour…"

* * *

"Ye…nnnnn…no? Maybe? It's so hard to tell with her sometimes," Sloane says, hands set on her hips. "I wouldn't — I wouldn't think about the goat being a dog so much, though, 'cause the majesty wears off really fast. Like, Atli still owes me a remote control because of that goat. … And a chair."

In turn, she follows the conversation as Tony and Dr. Strange start moving toward the bar. Her expression steadily grows more and more incredulous as they move, and as the story gets away from her, but holy shit the things she's hearing: Faeries and gummy locusts, and —

"And I thought I had some wicked crazy stories," she murmurs to herself, sounding almost defeated. Christmas this year is … /weird/.

* * *

Aquaman goes home.

* * *

'I think you know that already, though.'

Nico's eyes turn sideways towards Dr. Strange and a shadow crosses over her face for a moment. It is not a scowl. Even with five honk-equivalents of Asgardian mead in her, Nico has the control of herself that, probably, was cultivated for a day that was to come in the future. There is something dark there, lingering. It's inside of her.

Nico herself thinks: What does he know? What can he see? Maybe I can talk to him. Maybe he'll take this stupid THING and —

— and then I don't have any friends any more, Nico thinks.

'They were gumdrop fairies.'

Nico blinks once and when her eyes open again that ominous cast has left her features. "… That's messed up," she says. "Are you saying you actually hung out with Santa??"

"Try the broom closet?" Nico advises the Doctor, before he fades out.

Nico then looks at Sloane.

LATER, ON THE CURB

"oh god why did I drink that," Nico says, smearing her face into Sloane's shoulder as she grinds her face into the other woman who is probably propping her up. "I thought it was a JOKE, and -ugh - it was real - ugh I threw up in front of them and they LAUGHED - god I'm so ed UP, no wonder I can't form any kind of a real relationship with people when I just bounce around like a god damn House of Pain song between hiding in my ing ROOM and trying to act COOL in front of people who ALL KNOW BETTER ALREADY! Why did I come to the East Coast, oh, gu-guh…"

Sniffling, Nico looks up at Sloane. "I didn't screw up, right?" she says, face a mess. Her hands come up to clasp with iron force on Sloane's. "Like, I didn't FEEL right but like maybe I should have, like, made it work with Victor - I mean, like, I can't tell you his last name but the OTHER Victor, like the one from where I lived, he -"

This time the honk comes from the uber driver, who rolls down the window and hits all his annoying light flashy options.

"I'm having a MOMENT, asshole!" Nico shouts at him. "Don't tip him," she tells Sloane darkly, but, of course, it was on Sloane's phone. Her call. Her choice. Her burden….

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