Warnings for: mentions of canon torture and physical abuse of a minor (Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways; New Avengers: Illuminati), mentions of canon domestic abuse (Fantastic Four), mentions of canon alcoholism (Tony Stark)
Kate had not, in any sense of the word, expected the situation to spiral out of control the way it had. To be fair, she hadn't had much of a reason to expect something that was meant to be a secret getting heard by what was probably 90% of the superhero community. To be less fair, she was a superhero, and really should have expected things to go pear-shaped at some point, if only because both her sister and David had gotten involved.
There were literally hundreds of heroes here. And a couple of villains. Some of them were tied up, and some of them were partying. She had not planned on inviting more than, maybe, ten of the heroes, and none of the villains. Hell, she hadn't even planned on having a party at all.
She ignored the music and well-wishers, and made her way over to the DJ table that was currently manned by her… by her husband.
"I get the feeling this was a terrible idea."
To go back to the beginning, Noh and Kate were friends. They were still a little awkward about the failed relationship from the time period Kate privately called the revival of the Young Avengers, but they were friends.
Noh-Varr, unfortunately, was still kinda sorta officially banned from the planet. He wasn't human, or mutant, or Inhuman, so he didn't have any legal rights that could feasibly combat the Avengers' quick decision to tell him to get the fuck off of Earth and not come back. He snuck down once in a while, of course, but it was a bit of a downer in relation to the rest of the team. Sometimes, Billy just teleported the team up to Noh's ship, which was basically the best of many options.
"What if you got American citizenship?"
Noh-Varr looked up from the records he was sorting, and blinked at Kate, in the funny way he did where his actual eyelid didn't move quite fast enough to hide the nictitating membrane sweeping across sideways first.
(Kate wasn't sure if she found it gross or cool, and had privately promised herself to never mention, to anyone, that she'd found the truly alien aspects of Noh's biology kind of hot.)
"I don't think I would be allowed into the country for long enough to qualify for the citizenship exam." Noh-Varr said. "Don't you need to be a permanent resident for ten years before you're allowed that?"
"Hm… yeah, I think so." Kate leaned back in her seat and looked up at the ceiling of the ship. "Could you get permanent residence?"
"Not with the Avengers blocking any attempts to petition the government for such."
"I thought they were easing up on you?"
Noh-Varr snorted, uncharacteristically bitter.
Kate pouted and stared down at the ground. Having a teammate exiled like this was really bad for communication and missions.
Noh looked up at Kate, eyebrow raised. "I'm waiting?"
Noh blinked. "What?"
Kate felt her face stretching into a grin. "No, listen. You could get married. I'm fairly certain that so long as the certificate is from a country legally recognized by the US, and you can argue that it was a legitimate marriage for love and not for the permanent residence, you can petition the government for a Visa or something."
"You want me to get a green card marriage." Noh-Varr summarized.
"I think it's a plausible solution." Kate defended the idea. "I mean, if you're married to a United States citizen and have a recent history on the side of the heroes, even the Avengers would have a hard time blocking you off from the country, especially since you already served your time for the early crimes and they didn't go through legal channels for the later ones."
"Kate, I haven't dated anyone since you, and even if I had, it wouldn't have been long enough to convince anyone that it was a legitimate for-love marriage." Noh-Varr pointed out.
There was, technically, a solution.
"Kate, no." Noh-Varr clearly recognized the look on her face."
"Instagram shows the relationship going back months." Kate pointed out.
"Kate, we only just got past the—"
"We're both mature adults." Kate said, warming up the idea the more she thought about it. "We wouldn't have to do anything to make it seem more legit than just hang out, and god only knows how much easier it would be to pay my rent with someone to share it."
"Kate, I'm still not—" Noh closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Kate, I still have not gotten over the breakup. I know you have. I know this will be, if we even manage it, very awkward and rather uncomfortable. I'm… I'm not opposed to the idea on its own merits, but you have to understand…"
"I trust you not to make things weird." Kate said, after several seconds of silence. "I'm not planning on any real long-term relationships soon anyway, so I have the time and space. Literally all we'd have to do is find someone to perform the ceremony, make sure to get some witnesses, which probably means inviting my sister so she doesn't freak out on me, and live together without any super-obvious problems for a few years."
Noh-Varr frowned. "And you're sure this wouldn't destroy our friendship, given…"
He trailed off, and Kate shrugged. "Like I said: I trust you not to make this weird."
"And who would we get to perform the ceremony?"
Kate opened her mouth to answer, closed it as she frowned, and then very, very slowly said, "I may have an idea."
"This is a terrible idea." Noh-Varr informed her as they walked under a stone archway, escorted by robotic guards.
"Yet you're going along with it."
"To make sure you don't get yourself killed." Noh said. "I find that you are extremely reckless when you have neither a full team nor Clint to look after."
Noh grinned, "Maybe it is a Hawkeye thing."
"Shut up, Noh." Kate stifled a snort as she was led into the throne room.
"Well," Said the man upon the throne. "To what does Doom owe the pleasure?"
"Doctor Doom." Kate nodded once, and then held her head up straight. Noh took up a spot behind her shoulder, probably with his hands tucked behind him. "I heard you brought Cassie back."
Doom sat impassively for a moment, face inscrutable behind his mask, and then nodded. "Indeed. While I did so under the influence of a powerful enchantment, I do not regret this. Why?"
"Why bring it up?" Kate clarified, and then continued when Doom gave a curt nod. "Well, partly to say thank you, even if it was mostly your fault she died in the first place. And partly as an excuse to get in here to ask you something else."
Doom tilted his head to the side. "I had access to a miracle and was feeling altruistic; Stature was as innocent a victim as my plans have had. As for the rest… I am listening."
"We wanted to ask if you'd mind officiating a marriage." Kate said, maintaining eye contact.
"Why ask me?"
"The Avengers banned me from planet Earth." Noh says before Kate can figure out a way to put it more delicately. "I'm still allowed to be in Earth's orbit, but have been banned from the United States and all associated countries, which in this case means any country that happens to be part of NATO."
"I do not see why I was your first choice."
"It would irritate Reed Richards." Noh says, and Kate fights the urge to bury her face in her hands, because while pissing off Reed is technically a good way to motivate Doom, putting it so bluntly is… not. "And I genuinely do not like him, considering he stood by and approved while Namor decided to get violent when the Illuminati visited me in the Cube. Also, we don't want the Avengers finding out until it's technically too late. Latverian marriages are accepted as legal in the US, and as a head of state, you have full rights to grant a marriage, even to foreigners, and you have no strong ties to the Avengers that would prevent you from doing this based on Captain America and Iron Man's distaste for me. We checked the laws and their ban would be in a really murky area as soon as my SWORD-issue work visa wasn't my only legal tie to the planet. A marriage isn't an automatic green card or anything, but as soon as the tie exists, their ban is basically null and void."
"You truly hate Richards?"
Noh shrugged. "I haven't met him enough to 'truly' hate him… but there is a very definite well of negative feelings."
Kate leaned over and whispered into his ear, "Once we're done with all this, you're telling me more about the Cube."
Doom tilted his head. "And your government will not suspect that the marriage is arranged solely for the legal help?"
"They might suspect, but I doubt they'll be able to prove it." Kate said, and then sighed and continued when Doom gestured for her to elaborate. "We have our relationship tracking back on Instagram almost a year. There's a gap from after we broke up, but Clint, at minimum, knows that we've been growing closer again."
"So does Jessica Drew."
Kate resisted the urge to snort, because she knew for a fact that that friendship was built largely on "bug people" and Jessica getting annoyed at Carol for something or other and deciding that being friends with Noh again was a good way to get back at her.
Doom nodded slowly, as though thinking it over. "You will need to provide your own witnesses."
"I can call up Billy and get him to teleport some people over." Kate promised. There was a tiny knot of anxiety building in her stomach, mixed with excitement. This was really happening.
"Also identification and fees." Doom added, which is also pretty expected. Latveria had a lot of laws that differed from the US, but the legal requirements for a marriage (not the religious ones) were basically the same. Kate had done her research. Unless Doom decided to charge an exorbitant fee for his services now, which she hoped wouldn't be the case, she'd be fine.
"Would a SWORD visa count as proper identification?" Noh asked, because, well, that was the one thing that everything hinged on in most of the places Kate looked at.
"Doom will allow it."
"I've got a driver's license, birth certificate, and passport on me." Kate said. "And are we looking at the base fee for a Latverian marriage license? Or is there extra for having the ceremony performed by you?"
Doom nodded. "The opportunity to show Richards that I am compassionate in ways he is not is enough. You will pay only the, as you call it, base fee."
Kate had hoped for that. Nice. Now to just… ah, yes. The part she was somehow dreading more than actually talking to Doom.
"We'll go take care of getting our witnesses then and let you keep doing your job until you're ready for us." Kate nodded her head, and added in a really shallow curtsy since she didn't really know what else to do, and exited the hall to wave in whoever was planning to come in to talk to Doom next.
"That went much better than expected." Noh said.
"I wasn't joking about you telling me more about what Reed Richards had to do with your time in the Cube, Noh. But that can come later. First," Kate pulled out her phone and wiggled it in the air a little. "Witnesses."
Noh nodded. "I… do not have many close friends other than the team. What few I have are Avengers and thus not a desirable presence in this situation."
Kate bit her lip. "Anyone in particular you'd like to have present that wouldn't be trouble?"
"I assumed you were already planning on inviting Teddy." Noh-Varr shrugged. "His father was a very well-known Kree captain. It is the closest I will have to a Kree presence at the wedding."
"Right, and we were planning on inviting Billy if only due to the fact that he promised to handle transport." Kate sighed. "That's technically enough, but… I really don't want to make this call, but she'll never forgive me if I don't invite her."
"Cassie?" Noh hazarded. "America?"
Kate shook her head. "My sister."
The call went a little like this:
"You're what?" Susan Yamaguchi, née Bishop, shouted into her phone. "When did you start planning this?"
"Like… a few days ago?" Kate said.
"Please tell me it's not some guy you met a week ago."
"We've known each other for a few years, have been friends for a year, dated for at least half of that." Kate affirmed. "The wedding is sudden, but the relationship is solid."
"And the wedding is when?"
"…in like fifteen minutes? And I want you to serve as a witness because you're my sister and I love you?" Kate rushed out as quickly as she could, voice inching higher with every word. Billy was standing a few feet away, looking like he was ready to laugh, while Noh seemed only slightly amused and Teddy just had a sympathetic smile on his face.
"Kate!" Susan sounded frustrated. To be fair, she had every right to be. This wasn't really the sort of timing people liked. "What are you even thinking?"
"That if I told anyone beforehand they might try to stop me." Kate said, and was surprised by the fact that her voice didn't shake when she said that. Must have been because it was true.
"Fine, I'll… I'll try to make it." Susan said. "I don't know how you expect me to get ready and anywhere in the city that quickly, but I'll try."
"Okay, before you say anything else, I have a friend that can get you here in seconds." Kate took a deep breath. "Second, um… 'here' isn't in the city."
The line was silent for a second.
"Where are you getting married?"
There was the sound of Susan taking a deep breath on the other end of the line. "Why are you getting married halfway across the world? In Latveria of all places?"
"My boyfriend got banned from the planet by Captain America and Iron Man a few years ago, but they don't really have authority over the whole planet, just parts of it? SHIELD mostly abides by it, so NATO does too, but Latveria isn't part of NATO or otherwise associated with the US enough for their decision to matter, so… we can actually get married here." Kate took a deep breath as she ended the explanation, having explained the whole thing without stopping for air at all.
She really didn't want to fight with her sister. Again.
"…You're explaining how you got yourself into this situation later." Susan said, and Kate let out a silent sigh of relief. "Do you have a dress?"
"Er… no?" Kate frowned. "I've got… I have a friend that can take care of that, I think."
Billy gave her a thumbs up and a grin.
"Same way he's getting you here: magic." Kate paused and she thought that maybe, just maybe, she could hear Susan going quietly apoplectic on the other end of the line. "You can bring some of your designs if you want?"
"I'm holding you to that." Susan huffed. "Send your friend over in five minutes. I'll be ready by then."
"You don't have work?"
"Working from home today." Susan answered. "See you soon, Kate."
"See ya, sis." Kate pulled her phone away from her ear, and stared down at it. "She's going to totally murder me later."
"Maybe." Noh agreed, smiling. "We'll stop her, if that helps? It wouldn't do for me to become a widower so soon."
"Very suspicious." Teddy nodded along, grinning and putting his elbow on Noh's shoulder.
"And we'd miss you." Billy slung an arm around Kate's shoulders and made a 'there you have it' sort of hand motion.
Kate, ever the mature one, rolled her eyes. "You've got five minutes to get my sister."
"Sure thing." Billy closed his eyes and started muttering. "IwanttofindKate'ssisterIwanttofindKate'ssister IwanttofindKate'ssisterIwanttofindKa—"
"This is actually happening." Kate said to herself after he was gone. Noh and Teddy were still in the room, as well as whatever Latverian guards were there, but with Billy's departure, it just felt like another nail in the lid going 'ding ding ding you're making a decision!'
"There's still time to back out." Noh told her, coming to stand in front of her and looking her in the eye. His brow was furrowed. Oh. He was worried about her. That was nice of him. "If you want?"
"No, I promised to do this." Kate said, stepping forward and wrapping her arms around Noh-Varr, and pressing the side of her face against his chest. "Besides, it's just a marriage. We can always get a divorce if things really do go badly, or even just once we feel like it wouldn't be suspicious anymore. It's not like having a baby or whatever."
"If you say so," Noh-Varr replied, putting one arm around Kate's waist and one around the back of her head. They started swaying back and forth, and Kate smiled. Okay. She could do this.
"Sorry to interrupt," Teddy said, and Kate cracked an eye open. He did actually look apologetic, at least. "But it looks like Billy's coming back with you sister."
Kate pulled away from Noh, though not by much. She shifted only so far as to put them side by side, arms around waists. There was, indeed, a spot of shiny blue that was steadily getting more solid.
Within seconds, Billy and Susan were standing there.
Susan had gone redheaded since Kate had last seen her, dyeing away the natural black and switching out to something that, in Kate's opinion, didn't suit her nearly as well; it was up in some kind of braided bun. She was also wearing a pale gold business suit, pencil skirt included, and flawless, if hurriedly simple, make-up.
"Oh, hell, Katie." Susan said as soon as she saw her. "I mean, I had my suspicious, but I'm not exactly happy to be proven right, you know?"
"Um…" Kate tilted her head. "Context?"
"You're Hawkeye." Susan said, gesturing vaguely at Kate's body, "Which brings up the question, were you really planning on getting married in uniform?"
"Er… yes?" Kate felt like she should probably take a half-step back. "This isn't a huge thing, Susan."
"You're getting married. I ask for at least some good pictures in a nice dress."
"Are you staying in the suit?"
Susan shrugged. "It's nice enough. Anyway, I have some designs here. Any requests?"
Kate's mind blanked as she looked at the binder in her sister's hands. She hadn't really thought much about what she'd want to get married in, at least not in recent years. "Um… white and purple. Easily removable skirt in case a fight breaks out, but I kind of like the idea of a huge poofy skirt like from the live-action Cinderella movie. Er… lace for the top layer of fabric on both the bodice and skirt, sleeveless with a sweetheart neckline?"
Susan nodded, pulled out a sketchbook and some pencils (and yes, Kate noticed, there was quite a lot of purple there), and got to sketching. "I'm going to make it mostly white with a thick purple ribbon, satin, around the waist, but you covered enough bases that I don't have to do much to the design."
Billy walked over to stand behind Susan, pointing at parts of it and asking questions that, from what little Kate understood, had to do with making the skirt detachable in a fight, and also something about materials and fabrics?
"I'm going to design you a dress for the reception, too."
"Reception?" Kate squeaks, because they were having a hard enough time getting Noh on-planet most days, let alone having a party with him as a central player. Even ignoring the fact that they'd invited almost no one to the wedding itself, which could be explained away as just 'Doom was involved,' a reception in the middle of Manhattan, especially off-the-cuff and probably magicked up by Billy…
Oh god, that was going to be so many guests. So many heroes. Fuck, so many things were going to get destroyed.
"Clint is going to whine that we didn't ask him to do it." Kate muttered after a moment, staring dazedly at the wall.
"Why?" Noh-Varr asked, somewhat distracted by the way Billy's magic was shimmering around his form as it built up a tux instead of his superhero costume.
"He got ordained by like… the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Online." Kate gestured vaguely. "It's ridiculous but he can legally marry people."
"Clint as in Barton?" Susan asked, and Kate had to remind herself that everyone knew about her friendship with Clint. Or at least, Hawkeye's friendship with Hawkeye.
"Yes. He's… a bit of a human disaster, but he's got a lot of weird skills." Kate didn't want to trash-talk her friend. But there was only so much that could be said for Clint's non-public skills before things took a turn for either the weird or the nonsensical. "He's great at boats?"
"You're adorable." Billy told her, smirking. "Both of you."
"Me and Clint, or me and Noh?" Kate asked, gesturing between herself and her husband-to-be.
Kate rolled her eyes, and then took a step forward and held her hands out to the sides so that her body was in a T-shape. "Okay, just try to make my uniform go into magical storage instead of completely disappear. I'm ready for you to work your magic."
"Hilarious," Billy snorted, but held his hands out towards Kate's body and started muttering under his breath. Just like with Noh, magic started to flow and glow around Kate, though due to the fact that it was a dress, the magic started at her waist and moved outwards, rather than going from the bottom up.
"One thing," Susan said, when Billy got near the top of the bodice. "I was thinking we'd make it an illusion neckline instead of completely sleeve and strapless."
Kate made a face. "Uh… can we go with those weird, bunched-up strap sleeves that are like an inch thick where they attach and widen out on the shoulder instead? The… I can't remember what it's called. Queen Anne neckline? Cap sleeves?"
Susan and Billy exchanged glances, and then simultaneously nodded. "That'll work."
Kate was glad she still had some control over the situation. "Made of lace."
"You got it." Billy grinned as he finished off the dress with a flourish. "Ta-da! Now, what do you think?"
He conjured up a mirror, and Kate got to see herself in her wedding dress. As she watched, magic teased her hair up and back into something that looked more appropriate to a wedding than her usual work ponytail.
"This is really happening." She finally said, reaching out to the side to grab Noh's hand and squeeze. "Okay. Let's go back in there, and get Doctor Doom to officiate our marriage."
"And then on to the reception." Susan said, getting a look of alarm from Kate. She snorted. "Don't give me that look. I already told you, you're probably pissing off a lot of people by not inviting them to the actual ceremony. The least you can do for damage control is a reception."
"I thought you were joking earlier. And doesn't that require a lot of planning?"
Susan held up her phone and wiggled it a little. "You may not be talking to Dad anymore, but I've still got access to my trust fund, and my own savings from work, and a husband that's willing to support me in almost anything, including scrambling together a last minute reception for an obnoxious little sister."
"I'm not obnoxious," Kate retorted before her brain caught up with her. "And anyway, how do we even compile a guest list?"
"David's phone tree?" Billy suggested. "I'm not joking, he knows everyone, or knows someone who knows someone who knows someone that leads to everyone. And, being David, he'll be able to guess your guest list with 90% accuracy."
Kate buried her face in her hands. "Fine," she said, muffled, "But we're inviting both Doom and the Fantastic Four, if only so I can watch the fallout."
Teddy, thus far mostly staying silent, sighed. "That's going to be a disaster."
"That's the point."
Billy smiled. "I'm going to ask if Sue Storm wants to help organize the reception."
So the actual ceremony went off without a hitch. This was basically expected, because all they really did was say "I do" a couple times, with Doom doing both Kate's Protestant vows in English and, weirdly, Kree ones, in Kree, as well. Kate didn't ask how he knew the latter, and simply assumed he'd picked up the former at some point because of media, or living the United States. Noh actually flew everyone except Doom back to New York, as Kate grew increasingly anxious over the fact that Susan and Sue Storm and David were talking to each other and organizing the reception. From what little she could hear, almost everyone David had contacted was actually going to be able to come. He'd even gotten most of her "invite out of spite" invitations correct, so that was… something.
"He invited Carol," Noh said blankly once they finally got around to seeing the list of people David had managed to contact.
"I guess he wants to rub it into people's faces that they're going to have a much harder time keeping you out." Kate squinted at a different entry. "Is that Star-Lord? I've never met him, have you? Why is he on the list?"
"Kitty Pryde's plus one, and fiancé." Billy clarified. "I've gone to a few of her holiday functions for Jewish superheroes so we're kind of friends, and she's nice, and she's got enough influence on the X-Men and sympathy for your situation that having her there will probably help if the Avengers try to start something."
"Ah," Kate said, looking back down at the list. "I feel like this is a superpowered brawl waiting to happen."
"You did say that's what you wanted."
"I know, but like… whatever. Oh, hey, he even got Finch and Marcus."
"Who?" Susan asked, having not yet been privy to all the strange things that happened while Kate was in California.
"This nice gay couple that helped me out a lot in Cali. I helped them recover some orchids for their wedding, and then they helped me figure out how to, you know, be an adult. They had a trailer near the one I was cat-sitting at, so we ended up pretty close."
"They also patched her up every time she almost got blown up." Teddy cheerfully added. "Which was a lot."
"I did not get blown up." Kate huffed.
"Nah, you just got run over and took a selfie of it." Billy pretended to agree, also grinning. Even Noh-Varr snorted quietly from the pilot's seat, as Susan's eyebrows climbed higher by the second.
"I took a selfie to get him arrested, oh my god." Kate pretended to wail. "It worked, didn't it?"
"Sure." Billy said, and then pulled out his phone following a low chime. "David wants to know if he should call in Mr. Harold and Detective Caudle, too."
"Yes to Caudle, even if he'll probably turn it down. No to Cat Food Guy. He's kind of a dick and I'm pretty sure he still can't leave LA, so like… there's that." Kate made a face. "You'd probably like him. He looks like that Cumberbatch guy from that one show you marathoned a while back."
Billy raised an eyebrow. "You mean Sherlock?"
Susan pinched the bridge of her nose. "I can already tell this is going to be a disaster."
"You think?" Kate muttered. She could already guess what was going to happen.
"You have to invite Dad."
"He tried to have me killed!"
Kate scrunched up her nose and made a face. "He's part of a criminal ring in New York that paid to put a bounty on both my head and Clint's. I wasn't entirely sure that he knew I was Hawkeye, but, well… I asked David. He says that from what he can tell, there were pictures provided and Dad definitely knew the person he was helping pay to have killed was me."
Susan looked like she was going to be sick. "I wasn't… he'd never…"
"The reason I cut off contact with him was because I found out he was helping fund Madame Masque," Kate said as gently as she could. "He's not a supervillain, but… he's not a good guy, Sue."
"Invite him out of spite!" Noh suggested from the pilot seat. "He can't try anything with the number of heroes that are going to be there."
Kate's eyes met her sister's, and she grinned.
So, it went like this:
Kate and Noh showed up at the Baxter Building, where an entire floor and the roof had been cleared out to host the reception. Sue Storm and Susan, Kate's sister, got together with papers and plans almost immediately, only pausing so Sue could congratulate Kate and Noh on the marriage. Reed wasn't there, and Sue just rolled her eyes and told them he was currently doing science on a different floor.
"I feel that it would be best to keep him in the dark until Victor is actually hear. He tends to overreact to things." Sue had informed them, "Johnny and Ben are free to help, though. If we need any muscle that you can't provide, just ask them."
Kate was sure they'd have most of the muscle taken care of with Noh and Teddy, but it was nice to offer.
Billy excused himself to go get the guests that had already RSVPed, starting with the rest of the team.
"You have no idea how much I had to argue with my mom for her to let me come," was how Cassie greeted her as soon as she left Billy's portal. "Also, what the hell? Since when did you decide to get married?"
"Recently and before you ask, we only invited three people as witnesses." Kate winced, "Also Doom officiated, so there's that."
Cassie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Okay, then. You are… I don't even know."
Kate let out a short laugh. "So, how'd you convince your mom?"
Cassie snorted, then screwed up her face into the best approximation of a 'whiny teenager' expression, with matching voice, that she could. "No, they already had the wedding, but their friends were really annoyed because they weren't invited so they're having a reception just for that and please Mom, I promise there won't be any heroing I just wanna see Kate and she got married and—!"
She cut herself off at Kate's laughter, smiling.
"Good to have you here, Stature."
"Good to be back, Hawkeye."
Cassie drifted over to talk to Teddy, who was talking something over with the caterers. They were probably ordered by Kate's sister, going by the looks of them; Kate wasn't entirely sure she wanted to know how Susan had gotten such high-quality catering on such short notice, but the combined weight of Bishop-family riches and the influence of any number of superheroes, including the Invisible Woman, probably had some effect.
Johnny was talking to Noh-Varr, who seemed a little bemused, and as Kate got closer, she realized that the man was bemoaning the lack of a bachelor party.
"You wouldn't have been invited anyway, Johnny. We've barely met," Kate interrupted.
"I confess that I do not see the appeal," Noh added, shrugging with what might have passed for an apologetic smile on his face.
"Moving on," Kate said, pressing herself up against her husband's (her husband's, what the fuck) side and lacing their fingers together. "You got someone to invite as your plus one?"
Johnny's attention wavered, and then he settled fully on the new subject. "Yeah, you know Silk? The new Spider hero? We went on a date a week or two ago, and… well, it hasn't led to anything, but I still have her number and we got along pretty well, so I was thinking I'd call her since most of the other people I know are already invited."
He paused. "Unless Spidey already invited her. Then I'll just… invite someone else, I guess?"
"You should probably make that call soon, then." Noh advised, and Kate smiled at Johnny and dragged Noh away as the other man pulled out his phone, presumably to call Silk and get her to attend.
"Kate!" Sue called, and Kate's head snapped around. "Clint, Bobbi, Jess, and Natasha are here."
Kate closed her eyes and took a small, fortifying breath. "Time to face the fire."
Noh pulled away a little, clapped her on the back, and said, "Point Jessica in my direction, if it's Drew and not Jones. The rest are yours to handle."
He heads off in the direction of, apparently, America Chavez and her new girlfriend. Lisa, maybe? Kate thought she remembered a text to that effect, but not many details.
David was there too. She'd have to thank him for handling the guest list. Mostly sarcastically, sure, but—
"Katie-Kate, what the hell?" Clint was suddenly in front of her.
"Okay, hi, hello, scared me there." Kate's eyes widened, and she took a step back.
"You got married." Was Clint pouting? He was totally pouting. "Ignoring the fact that Hawkeyes getting married tends to end in disaster—"
"Pretty sure that's just you." Kate glanced at Bobbi for assurance. The woman shrugged in a what-can-you-do sort of way.
"—but you got married by Doom. I could have done it! Literally anyone could have done it! Why the hell did you go to Doom?"
"First of all, I don't want to be married by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster." Kate held up one finger, and then put up a second, "And Latveria is one of the few countries that doesn't fall under SHIELD or NATO purview, and thus would let Noh-Varr into the country without a ton of sneaking."
Clint frowned. "Also, why him?"
"He cheated on you!"
"…No? No. No, he didn't." Kate shook her head. "He was in contact with her, and broke up in the middle of a battle for his ex, but he never cheated. And it's not like I didn't make any mistakes in that relationship either."
"At least you can admit that much. A lot of people can't." Bobbi came up to stand next to Clint and casually punch Kate in the shoulder. "And you moved forward and worked past it. Good for you."
Kate shrugged, a little uncomfortable. They'd technically worked past it well enough to still be friends, but for a full relationship again? Not so much. Not yet, probably never. "Thanks. Um, by the way, Noh is waiting on Jess over on the other there."
She gestured to the other side of the room, and Jessica Drew, who was wearing her new costume with the rocking motorcycle jacket and colored shades, nodded to her with a smile and headed for Noh. Behind her was a man with a camera that Kate didn't recognize and… a reporter?
"Smile!" The unfamiliar man said, holding up a camera to his eyes. Kate brought up her best Manhattan socialite smile, honed by years as the youngest Bishop girl, and the flash went off. The other guy, the reporter, stepped forward and held out a hand.
"Ben Urich, with the Daily Bugle. The one with the camera is Roger. He used to be Porcupine. Still is, but he's trying out the hero side of things and working for Jess."
"Nice to meet you." Kate shook hands with both of them. "I trust you know how to keep things discreet, given the number of heroes here?"
"Considering what Jess would do to me if I didn't?" Urich shook his head. "The fact that she trusts me with the details is part of why she suggested I come to cover this whole thing. That way she can go over it to make sure nobody's secret identities are being spilled before it goes to print."
"Well, good luck with that. I'd like to take a look when she does, if that's alright?" Kate asked. "I technically still have a secret identity."
"Barely," Natasha finally joined the conversation, and got slugged in the arm by Bobbi for her efforts. "What? We all know it's paper thin by now, considering what she got up to in LA."
Kate didn't bother trying to argue with that. "I did say technically."
"Anyway, congratulations." Natasha said, but there was a knowing look in her eyes. Bobbi had it, too, and Kate wasn't entirely sure Clint and Jess were as ignorant of the real circumstances as they were pretending.
Actually, Jess was taking a selfie with Noh and Roger, and from what little Kate could hear, she was sending it to Carol. Kate didn't want to know what kind of issues Jess and Carol were having if this was happening.
Just a few feet away, Cassie was trying to do a one-armed handstand on America's head. Lisa was laughing and taking pictures, though, and America's look was of long-suffering amusement instead of any kind of real irritation, so Kate wasn't too worried.
"I'm going to go check out the food." Bobbi declared. She held out her arm to Natasha. "Come with?"
Natasha slipped her own arm through the crook of Bobbi's elbow. "Of course."
Kate watched as the two women walked away, Natasha in a sundress and Bobbi in her uniform, and then turned to Clint with wide eyes. "When did that happen?"
Clint shrugged. "I have no idea. Could have been a month ago. Could have been just now. No one really ever tells me anything."
Kate figured that wasn't as true as he was pretending, but close enough that she didn't bother trying to call him out on it.
"Anyway, who else is—"
Kate absolutely did not yelp as a pair of red-clad arms pulled her into a hug. She squirmed for a second until she was let go, and then gaped a little. "Hey Deadpool. You're, uh, looking good."
He was, in the sense that he was wearing clothing that was actually suitable for a reception. A well-ironed shirt, some nice slacks, and apparently his plus-one was his daughter. "You remember Eleanor, right?"
"Ellie, dad. I'm Ellie." The young girl was wearing a white sundress with a purple wildflower print on a white background, which matched the little bouquet of similarly purple flowers that she held out to Kate. "We didn't know about the marriage until today, and my allowance isn't enough for wedding presents, but I got you some flowers! Dad said you liked purple, and I think they match your dress."
Kate smiled. "Well, I don't actually know much about where things are going, but my sister and the Invisible Woman are pretty much running the whole reception, so you could probably ask one of them where to put the flowers. They're very pretty, and I love purple, so I'm sure they'll fit in somewhere."
Ellie glanced up at her father, who shrugged and gestured for her to go ahead if she wanted to, and then did indeed scurry off to find Sue Storm.
"There isn't going to be anyone else her age here."
"Yeah, well, most heroes are at least a little good with kids. I'm sure she'll find someone who loves to tell stories of their greatest battles and whatnot. Might make for a good flashback sequence, even!" Wade gave her a thumbs-up and a grin. "Or foreshadowing!"
"Life isn't a comic book, Wade," Clint said, with the air of someone who'd gone over this argument a thousand times.
"Not at the moment, no. It's a fic, which means I'm way out of my element. I don't think this writer's handled me before, so who knows what my personality's going to end up like?" He made a face. "What if I end up all serious and unfunny?"
"I don't think that's possible for you, Deadpool," Kate assured him, clasping a hand to his shoulder. "I didn't expect you to show up out of costume, to be honest."
"Gotta look presentable for a wedding. Some costumes are fine, but any morality darker than pale grey needs to be dressed nice instead. It makes things less awkward." He smiled. "Also, your wedding present is waiting in the room that Security puts all their confiscated weapons."
Kate considered this for a moment. "Is it a rocket launcher?"
"It is absolutely, one-hundred-percent a rocket launcher. I call her Marcia II." Wade gave her another thumbs up. "In memory of that time you blew up New York!"
"Just a tiny part of it!" Kate protested. "And you enabled me!"
"That I did, that I did!" Wade gave a small wave and headed off in Ellie's direction. "Anyway, this scene is kind of dragging, so I'll get out of the way for someone else to get their dialogue down. The author keeps making typos and backtracking to fix them, anyway, and that's really making my head hurt. Much easier to handle if I'm not the one talking."
"…Right." Kate gave him a small wave back, and then turned to Clint.
"Weird guy," Clint commented, getting an eye roll from Kate.
"I once found you sneaking around Walmart at three in the morning, in the dark while it was closed, humming the Mission Impossible theme, holding your fingers in a gun shape and pretending to shoot enemy combatants that were actually just mannequins, while you tried to find coffee without bumping into anything. Which you failed at, despite your literal secret agent status, considering how many stands you knocked over." Kate delivered the accusation of sorts with as dry a tone as she could manage. "You have no right to be calling anyone weird."
"I hadn't slept in three days!" Clint defended.
"Because you were marathoning Dog Cops," Kate countered.
"…point." Clint shrugged. "Anyway, how weird is this guest list going to get?"
"Uh… well, Doom, Magneto, and my dad are all going to be here, so that's going to be interesting, considering all the heroes."
"My sister insisted. Then I told her about the bounty he helped put on us. And then Noh suggested we invite him out of spite." Kate shrugged. "Not like he can do anything while he's here, anyway."
"And he wouldn't dare reject your invitation?"
Kate snorted. "Considering that he'll probably guess the rest of the guest list? Hell no."
"Er, ma'am?" One of the Baxter Building security guards tapped Kate on the shoulder. "We were told to ask you about anyone trying to get in that wasn't a confirmed superhero."
"Yeah?" Kate tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. "Who is it?"
"A… Takeshi Yamaguchi?"
"Brother-in-law. He's cool, you can let him in. Just point him over to my sister, the redhead in the gold business suit." Kate waved the man off, and then turned back to Clint.
"Church fire wedding?"
"You heard about that?" Kate shook her head. "Never mind, I definitely told you about how the team met me."
"You did." Clint bumped his shoulder against Kate's, and then put a hand on her back and pushed her towards the now-thickening crowd. "You have guests to entertain. So entertain."
As it turned out, she did. In fact, she had quite a few guests to entertain. Like, to the point of wondering just how well David's phone tree worked, because he seemed to have invited absolutely everyone.
("I did not." David said with a huff, when she asked him. "I definitely made sure that even the current and former villains were told whom to absolutely keep away from.")
("Well I'm sure as hell not letting Madame Masque or any of her cronies get in, no matter what kind of LMD she uses to disguise herself. Johnny was very willing to help set up that particular security measure, as was Billy. And then Dr. Strange.")
("Don't look at me. Inviting Strange was all on Billy.")
So, okay, a lot of people showed up. More than she expected. Spider-Man had shown up in full uniform with Black Cat on his arm, and quickly made a deal with all attending official government agents that they wouldn't try to arrest her until after the reception was over. "It's like Party Switzerland, yeah?"
It was nothing like Party Switzerland, but sure.
Kate wasn't sure who'd pulled Nick Fury in, but he'd shook her hand, reminded her of the help she'd given during the first superhero Civil War (the first, she insisted when he raised an eyebrow, because that sort of thing would always bubble up again so long as a community with this much power existed), and then pointed to a wedding gift that he'd brought, which was apparently some long-ago confiscated Kree tech that he'd figured Noh-Varr might want.
His plus-one was Daisy Johnson, which Kate very carefully didn't ask about after Agent Johnson shrugged and said that she was there because Agent Hill was under the impression that her presence would lead to a fight of some sort.
Jessica Jones showed up with Luke and Danielle, whom Kate got to hold for a minute and coo at, because as little as she cared about having children of her own, other people's babies were adorable. Danny and Misty, though as far as Kate could tell, the two weren't actually a couple.
"I," Jessica declared, "am going to see if Spider-Woman is more willing to hold my baby now that she's not actually a Skrull Queen in disguise."
"Pretty sure Danielle's too old to be a baby anymore. Toddler, maybe?" Kate pinched the little girl's cheeks after she handed her back to Jessica.
"Details." The woman brushed off. "She'll always be my baby. Anyway, congrats on the marriage, I want pictures from the wedding—"
"We didn't exactly have a photographer, we just took phone pics."
"—and also from the reception." Jessica finished, steamrolling right past that. "Anyway, I heard on my way past your teammates, that the Maximoff family is almost here, so that's… something to be aware of."
Kate cringed. "Oh no."
"Oh yes." Jessica said with a grin, and then left to go find the other Jessica. "By the way, I get the feeling you should go grab your husband before he gets too distracted by the DJ stand."
Kate ran that through her mind for a second, and then turned to see that yes, Noh had indeed laid claim to the DJ table instead of continuing to mingle with guests. She decided to leave him as he was, because while Kate was good at people, Noh was a bit more liable to get overwhelmed by the concept of socializing. Besides, he was varying his choices in genres, which was enough for Kate.
"Congratulations, Mrs. Bishop." A voice came from behind her, and she turned to see Matt Murdock, in a red button-down and black pants, with Elektra on his arm. Sure, why not. She had no idea why David had invited them. If he even had? Give the phone tree, it was entirely possible the man had been invited by accident. "Or is it Varr, now?"
"Still Bishop, thanks." Kate stepped forward and took the hand he offered, shaking it. "Daredevil, Elektra."
"I'm not Daredevil."
"Sure, and I'm not Hawkeye." Kate snorted. Her secret identity was still more intact than his, but… well, not by much. "Wasn't expecting you, honestly. Mostly because I wasn't the one handling the guest list, of course, but still."
"We'll get out of your hair, then." Elektra promised her. "Wedding gifts were left with Security, by the way."
"More weapons?" Kate muttered, knowing they'd both hear her just fine. Going by the smirks on their faces, they'd absolutely realized they weren't the only guests that had needed to leave their gifts where they had.
"But of course."
Kate stumbled as a rush of wind hit her, mostly because Tommy had just come around from behind to stop right in front of her.
"Yes, hello to you too." She said instead of getting more obviously annoyed. "Nice to see you, it's been a while."
"You got married!" Tommy said, somehow aghast, and absolutely pointing at her. "You! Married!"
"Yes, what a surprise. It's not like I'm at an age where it's reasonable or in a long-term relationship or anything." She rolled her eyes, willing him to understand if he hadn't already been told by Billy. Tommy was a fast thinker, he'd get it.
She needn't have worried.
"But by Doom! And, more importantly, not to me! I thought we had something special, Kate, I really did."
"You have a boyfriend, you utter dork." Kate poked him in the chest. "Which, by the way, where is David? He organized the entire guest list, and I saw him earlier, but I still haven't thanked him."
"Around. I think he was talking to Stark?"
Kate stared. "Stark. Stark is here. And not… trying to ruin things?"
Tommy shrugged. "I don't think he cares nearly as much as you think he does. I stopped there for half a second before I came to find you, and literally all he was doing was talking to David about science and asking War Machine to keep him away from the champagne so that he wouldn't fall off the wagon."
What the actual fuck.
"That's… new. Okay. Sure. Honestly, I thought he'd be one of the most adamantly against Noh being here."
Tommy paused, long enough to be significant, and then carefully said, "I think he's very used to making mistakes that people try to use as a way to judge him for the rest of his life instead of taking his attempts at fixing things the way he hopes they will. So he's probably trying not to judge Noh too harshly, because he's been there, in some ways, and only mostly got out with his reputation even partly intact because he was on the winning side, and human, and rich."
Kate thought it over for a moment. "Speaking from experience, are you?"
Tommy shrugged, and a sad smile flitted across his face. "I'd be holding way more grudges, including against your new hubby, if I had the kind of mindset some people do."
"Fair enough." Kate took a breath. "So, I heard the rest of the family was coming."
"Uncle Pietro's sulking in a corner with Gambit—"
"—Aunt Lorna is trying to keep herself from dumping a glass of champagne on Alex Summers' head—"
"—Wanda's cooing over the Jones-Cage baby—"
No actual surprise guests there.
"—And I think Gramps decided to start a glaring contest with Nick Fury." Tommy finished off gleefully. "Luna isn't here yet, because Uncle Pietro thought she'd be bored, but since Danielle and Deadpool's kid are here, he called up the ex-wife so there's going to be Inhuman royalty coming, yay!"
Kate buried her face in her hands. "At this point I wouldn't be surprised if Nate showed up."
"Don't jinx it. Or, well, give someone else ideas to jinx it. There are people who can do that here." Tommy mused.
Kate spun around, hands fisted in her dress, and very much suppressed both the urge to yelp and the urge to sock whoever had surprised her in the face.
"Would people please stop surprising me?" Kate was not ashamed to admit she was basically whining. "Seriously, what the hell?"
Loki smiled widely at her, and bowed. "My apologies, Kate Bishop, but you must admit it's amusing."
Kate let out a small noise of frustration. "No, it's really not."
They were cut off as someone started shouting behind them. "—not how Shi'ar tech works and you know it!"
"I think David's gotten into a 'friendly debate.'" Tommy mused. "So I'll go see if I can keep that from escalating. You two have fun!"
Kate turned back to Loki. "So."
"So." Loki agreed, nodding.
"…You're presenting as a girl."
"Perceptive." Loki drawled. "But yes, I am."
"Any particular reason, or…?"
"It's a girl day." Loki shrugged. "I'd have brought a plus-one, but the people I'd have brought are either ghosts trapped in bracelets or not existing as they should yet.
Kate furrowed her brow. "You know, I may not have made the guest list myself, but I'm fairly certain you weren't on it when I looked."
"And when did you look?"
"…like three hours ago, so yeah, it's probably changed since then." Kate acknowledged. "Anyway, are you going to be hiding from your family at all, or…?"
Loki winced. "I… kind of stepped out of reality to get here. It's the eight months that weren't, you see, the first set, and I've moved on and back."
"…Loki. That makes almost no sense at all."
"There's, like, three people I expect to show up in my life that would understand what I'm talking about. Deadpool's one of them. Billy's another, at least in Demiurge mode. If Sera gets here, which I doubt is going to happen, since I'm pretty sure she's still trapped down in Hel, she'd be among that number, but…" Loki shrugged. "It's a situation that requires a weird kind of expanded consciousness that humans can't usually grasp without going at least a little insane."
"Like Wade." Loki nodded. "Don't worry too much about it, and just… don't mention my presence to anyone, please? I promise I'll stay out of the way, or even leave, but I already cheated by coming back for this after drawing the door out to 'after' of the event, so…"
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Kate told her, "But I'll play along. It's…it's good to see you again."
She reached out and put a hand on Loki's shoulder. "You know you can come to us if you need to, right?"
Loki gave a full-body flinch. "That's… precisely why I can't, Kate."
"I'll go… talk to Magyk, yes? She's over there with Shadowcat, you see. I'd like to ask her about her opinions on some things. I left your presents on the table with the rest of the safe ones." Loki ducked Kate's hand, and swept over to the mutants in question, seamlessly drawing Magyk away from the rest and engaging her in conversation.
When she started scanning the room again, it was to find that a number of people had shown up without her noticing. Doom, for one, had finally arrived, and most people were giving him a wide berth. Dr. Strange was braving that distance, though, and Kate would have guessed that they were talking about magic. Little Valeria Richards was there too, sitting on Doom's shoulders, and Kate thought she'd heard somewhere that the girl was actually his goddaughter. It seemed there were more children here than she'd expected when she talked to Wade.
To be fair, there were more people than she'd expected at all. For a woman who hadn't even planned to have a party, she was getting a hell of a bash.
Her eyes landed on Carol Danvers and Hank McCoy, who were talking in a corner and repeatedly glancing over at Noh.
"Oh, fuck." She whispered.
She stood there, indecisive, for a full fifteen seconds before there was a light touch at her elbow. Jessica Drew stood there, closely followed by Kitty Pryde.
"We'll take care of it," was the only thing Jess said before she headed over for the two heroes that had once been Noh's teammates, and had been the ones to take his betrayal the worst. As Steve Rogers came to stand with them, weathering Jess and Kitty's quiet warnings to keep things civil with a frown, something in Kate's chest tightened further.
She'd expected fights. She'd even planned some of them, but… there was still a chance that things would end up going terribly wrong.
"Hawkeye," a voice called her attention, and Kate turned to see Thor. Well, the Odinson. Whatever. "I have heard rumors of mine brother. Have you seen him?"
"Not at all." She'd seen his sister, actually. Technically not lying.
"I see. I would like to wish you good fortune in your joining." He held out a box, long and thin. "I believe such gifts are customary at Midgardian weddings?"
"You can put it over on the table with the rest, unless it's a weapon, in which case you should hand it over to Security. We're not opening anything until after the party's over." Kate gestured over towards the table in question, smiled and chatted for a few more minutes until Odinson left, and then turned towards the next guest, who happened to be a tall redhead in ridiculous armor that apparently also formed wings, next to a woman that Kate would tentatively label as Gamora, part of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
"Congratulations," Gamora said, and Kate noted in the back of her head that the word felt like it was starting to wear a little thin. "I am Gamora, in case you were unaware, and this is Angela."
Kate thought she remembered hearing about an Angela that fit this woman's description, embroiled in some Asgardian royal scandal. They seemed to have a new scandal every few months, though, so she wasn't too sure. "Pleasure to meet you. If you don't mind me asking, how did you two end up invited? Prodigy handled most of the guest list, so I have no idea who's coming at this point."
"I believe we were invited through Kitty Pryde and Peter Quill." Gamora said, like she had expected a situation like this.
Angela was ignoring the conversation, and staring at the gift table with something approaching scorn.
"Is something wrong?" Kate asked. "Please tell me you aren't glaring at the table because somebody brought me a cursed wedding gift."
"Angela's mostly just offended by the fact that there are gifts," Gamora explained.
"Nothing for nothing," Angela said, like it was a quote or a proverb, something common enough to expect people to know the meaning by heart. "Gifts are… not something my culture is very well-acquainted with. We believe in payment above all else."
"Well, if you ever get married, you can invite me and I'll bring you a gift in return." Kate shrugged. "That's how most people would view it. Or you can think of it as payment for the buffet and all the fights you'll probably get to watch, given how many heroes we have here. Dinner and a show, I guess?"
Angela stared at her, and then nodded. "This is acceptable."
She strode off, and Kate glanced at Gamora. "So… am I getting invited to her wedding, or is she going to eat our entire spread?"
Gamora shrugged. "No idea. We did leave the gift with Security, though. They said no weapons were allowed in."
"You and about 70% of the guest list. Everyone seems to think weapons are a great gift."
"They're not wrong."
"Well… no, they're not."
As Gamora left, Kate managed to catch a glimpse of an Asian girl in a spider costume, standing next to Johnny and Spider-Man, apparently deep in conversation with Black Cat. Spider-Man noticed her before any of the others, and held up a camera as he jogged over.
"I noticed you don't have any professional photographers," he said, "Do you want me to take some?"
"Maybe later. I don't think all the guests are here, and I'm pretty sure Noh can keep his shirt on for long enough to get the pictures later. Or put it on after he's taken it off. I'm not picky, so long as he's dressed for the photos."
She didn't mind the fact that Noh liked to go around shirtless, not at all. But for a wedding photo? Even for a not-entirely-genuine wedding like theirs, it was kind of tacky.
"I talked to Urich and Silk, too. Mind if I grab some photos around the party in general? We've all got similar jobs, so we're kind of pooling our resources to get the best outcome."
"Be careful that you don't out anyone's identity, but sure. Go for it."
She thought she could see his mouth shifting into a grin behind the mask. "A picture of the bride, then?"
"Don't really have a bouquet, but sure."
She posed, letting Spidey grab all the photos he thought he'd need. Halfway through, though, she paused and swore under her breath.
"Something wrong?" Spidey asked, coming closer. "You don't look very happy."
"My dad is here."
"…is that a bad thing?" he hesitantly asked.
"He's part of a criminal ring that put out a hit on me and Clint, basically paying to have me killed. My sister convinced me to invite him out of spite, but I'm not so sure that was a good idea anymore."
Spidey stared at her in apparent horror, then back at Derek Bishop and the bodyguard he'd brought instead of Heather. At least he had some sense.
"Okay, so I'm just going to go tell everyone who he is, and what he did, and that way everyone can make sure he doesn't try anything." Spidey said eventually. "I'm not super sure it'll work out, but at least it'll get everyone on guard."
"No killing him. Or arresting, I guess, we don't really have enough evidence for that, or he'd already be behind bars after what I found in LA." Kate said, and then watched as Spider-Man nodded and jumped away to start telling people what the hell was going on.
The change was palpable. As the whispers spread from person to person, with Spider-Man actively moving around the room to spread the information, an illusion of cold settled around the room, heroes either covertly or blatantly glaring at the civilian in their midst.
(Though it may not have been an illusion. Bobby Drake was one of the first people to hear, and he didn't seem particularly impressed.)
The glares all seemed to say "if you make the bride cry, I'm going to rip off your arms and feed them to you."
Kate would have said that the glares just conveyed "if you make her cry, it will not end well for you," except Wade came out to a foot or two away from Kate's dad and very, very loudly said the former, with a disturbing smile and a little girl on his back, staring at Derek Bishop with wide eyes.
(Kate was a little more concerned about Ellie's nonchalance than Wade's threat, honestly.)
Susan eventually showed up to grab Derek and pull him away to the side, and judging by the look Kate could see on her sister's face, was giving him a very direct message about how much she knew, now.
"What is going on here?" She heard at one point after the conversations had started up again, and turned to see Reed Richards, rumpled in a way that suggested he hadn't slept in a few days, standing in the doorway and blearily blinking at the party.
"Your wife offered to let me and my husband host our wedding reception here." Kate said with the most content-looking smile she could muster. "It was very kind of your team to help us out on such short notice."
Reed's eyes traced over the room, growing more and more confused and possibly horrified. He muttered, "This is a nightmare, and I am going to wake up now."
"Don't be such a child, Reed," Sue Storm said quietly as she made her way over to him. The room still had enough conversation going that not everyone was eavesdropping, but there were definitely more than a few super-spies present. "They got married and didn't have a party planned at all. Of course, I had to help them out."
Reed turned to stare at her. "Dr. Doom is here. As are several other villains. I can't imagine that you would willingly—"
"Actually, Dr. Doom is here because we invited him as a thank you for performing the ceremony." Kate interrupted. "We couldn't get married in the United States for legal reasons, so we went to Latveria instead."
Noh-Varr had, at some point, made his way over to her, and slipped and arm around her waist. She was too busy looking at Richards to look at Noh's face, but she felt certain that Noh was probably glaring daggers at the man.
The man who currently looked incredibly confused. "But why Doom?"
"I don't like you, and I was fairly certain it would piss you off." Noh said, slipping in the colloquialism like it was something he actually did on the regular. "For once, Richards, yes, it really was all about you."
That certainly seemed to break the man out of his insomnia-induced confusion. "Excuse me?"
"Reed!" Sue hissed.
"He's not even supposed to be on the planet, Sue!" Reed said back, not nearly as quietly. "They said he was dangerous for a reason, and you asked him into our house."
"You didn't seem to think I was dangerous when you were letting Namor let out his anger at me in a particularly violent manner in the Cube. Was it the bars that made you so confident then, as he attempted to beat me within an inch of my life, and you only made your presence known through another's telepathic tricks? For shame." Noh's voice was practically a drawl by this point.
"Laying it on a little thick, there." Kate muttered, but didn't try stopping him. Noh had never gotten quite as many opportunities to call people out on their mistreatment of him as most people. Not safely, anyway; after all, who cared if a Kree soldier got smacked around a little?
Surprisingly few members of the superhero community, for one.
"You burned down half of Manhattan." Reed said with disgust in his voice. "And after escaping the prison, you—"
"Osborn lied, and I lacked the resources to know he was not the hero he claimed to be." Noh's eyes appeared white now, the nictitating membrane having slid completely across, and stayed. "And at least I burned things on purpose, or made mistakes because I was misled by people who I had thought to trust. Whereas you brought Annihilus and Abraxas to this planet through sheer incompetence—"
"How dare you?!"
"—and from what I've been told, drove Dr. Doom to become your own worst enemy through the force of your personality alone." Noh-Varr finished, his tone once more completely dry and even.
"Reed, don't." Sue's voice was still quiet, but there was a force to it. She wasn't using her powers, or even doing much beyond putting a hand on her husband's shoulder, but it was enough.
(This, Kate thought to herself, was the strength that must have kept Sue from breaking under what Reed did, before and during their marriage. Kate had only ever heard rumors, though a handful had been confirmed by Clint, about the kind of abuse that Reed had apparently levered against his wife and children, but a woman like Sue… the only way to handle a man like that was to leave, weather it, or to gain the strength to rein him in, which was a different kind of strength from the kind needed to leave or endure. For whatever reason, Sue had decided to stay, or at least come back after that stint with Namor, and rather than weather it, she'd gotten to the point where she could stand strong against her husband. The mindset needed to forgive him for what he'd done, Kate suspected, was one crafted of steel.)
(Kate didn't want to know more, though. She never wanted to know more, not about things like this.)
Whatever song had been playing so far ended, and Kate felt the muscles in Noh's arm relax in a very deliberate manner.
"Enjoy the buffet, Dr. Richards." Noh said, a plastic smile on his face, and turned back to the DJ station. Kate followed him, hand tucked around his elbow, and acutely aware of the fact that most of the disapproving glares had transferred from Kate's father to Reed.
Well, that was certainly one way for a fight to happen. She'd been expecting Reed to fight Doom, instead of trading words with Noh, but it was… certainly something.
"Are you okay?" She asked instead. "Do you need to get outside for a bit?"
Noh's control of his body was too perfect for his emotions to seep through in the form of a tremble or shudder, but his eyes slid over to meet hers, and he nodded.
"Want me to send Jess out?" Kate asked, hoping that her hand on his shoulder was grounding instead of threatening. "Or someone else?"
Noh nodded, and then quietly jumped out the open window and climbed up the wall. Kate's eyes met Jessica Drew's across the room, and she jerked her head towards the window. With a grim look, Spider-Woman nodded and made her way out a nearby window, completely ignoring Carol's questions.
Kate decided to find someone who could man the DJ station until Noh got back, and quickly found that Peter Quill, while most well-versed in music from the eighties and before, was still qualified to handle the system without making things get weird.
"You know," Kate heard at one point as she was making the rounds of the slowly-normalizing crowd again, and turned to see Tony Stark. "I was there, when that happened, in the Cube. I didn't stay long, but I didn't stop Namor either."
There was a tumbler in his hand, but… it looked like a club soda. He was keeping sober, at least.
"This was right before the Civil War broke out, then?"
Stark shrugged. "I was in a bad place, but that's no excuse. Not for letting a kid that had already spent years of his life in prison get the shit beaten out of him. Not for… what I suggested before."
"I don't want to know." Kate immediately said.
"You should." Stark said, with the kind of unhappy grin that Kate had learned to associate with someone trying to make her hate them because they thought they deserved it.
(She'd seen it a lot on Loki's face, in quieter moments.)
"Stark, whatever the hell happened then, it's over no—"
"I suggested Professor X rewrite Marvel Boy's mind."
Kate held her silence for as long as she could, and then quietly breathed it out. "Mr. Stark, this is a wedding reception. It's already tense enough. Please don't add to it."
Stark raised an eyebrow. "Then how about this: the first thing your husband said to Namor, ever, was 'Dude, put on some pants.'"
Kate couldn't help the short little laugh that escaped her at that. "Okay, better."
"Sure there's nothing you want to know?"
"…Just… who was involved."
"Me, Richards, Namor, Professor X, Dr. Strange, and Black Bolt." Stark frowned. "Strange didn't get as involved as the rest of us. I don't think he ever actually talked to the kid, just let the rest of us… say things."
"While Namor kicked the crap out of my husband."
"And Professor X manipulated him with, let me guess, visions that he didn't even pretend weren't a result of his telepathy?"
"And his own brand of verbal manipulation, yes."
Kate glanced at the tumbler of champagne in her hand, not entirely sure of when she'd gotten it. She shrugged, knocked it back, and turned to Stark. "At least you tell the truth and admit to your mistakes. That's more than a lot of people have done for me and mine."
"I know, but I'm not the one you need to say that to."
"I'm pretty sure I did, when we recruited him after Osborn. Not sure. Can't really remember all of that time."
"Still. Given the incident with the Phoenix and him getting kicked off-planet…"
"Yeah. Sure thing, kid."
She didn't forgive him, of course.
But it was nice of him to try.
The party was getting too heavy, though. Too… weighed down by negative emotions. Kate had hoped for an explosive fist-fight that they could laugh about after a few minutes, not… whatever this was.
"You know, I thought a wedding reception was supposed to be a bit happier."
Kate whirled around and threw herself forward to hug the speaker with a happy cry of, "Marcus!" followed almost immediately by turning to hug the partner. "Finch!"
"Hey, girl." Marcus ruffled her bangs, as a concession to the fact that most of her hair was still in the wedding up-do. "Your friend brought us over a few minutes ago. I think we missed most of the commotion, but you look like you need a hug."
"Yeah, I kind of… yeah." Kate sighed. "The husband's outside calming down away from the crowds, in case you were wondering."
"Well, you sure know how to throw a party."
"God, no. This was all my sister, a teammate, and the Invisible Woman. I just had to show up, look pretty, and do minor edits to the guest list." Kate shuddered. "I'm not good at throwing parties."
"That is… a lot of heroes." Finch commented after a moment. "You know all of them?"
"Mostly. Some of them are just people's plus-ones or known through a friend, or Noh's guests." Kate gestured vaguely. "I do know more of them than I don't, though."
"We brought Detective Caudle, by the way. I don't think he knows what he's doing here, but he said that as long as he was invited, he might as well come." Marcus said.
"He also said 'even if it's for the biggest pain in the ass I've ever met.'" Finch added.
"Sounds like he and Fury would get along well." Kate laughed, and then scowled. "I see Captain Rogers heading my way, so if you'll excuse me, I'm just going to… hide."
She did hide, near immediately, and successfully avoided Steve for a bit longer. She also avoided Carol, and Hank McCoy. She did not avoid Kamala, because Kamala was great, and also a baby superhero, just like Kate used to be. That was basically why the girl had been invited, honestly.
"Aaaah, thanks for inviting me!" Kamala practically squealed. "I can't believe I'm at a superhero wedding!"
"Well, as far as the papers are concerned, this is Kate Bishop getting married, not Hawkeye." Kate reminded her.
"You're secret identity is in tatters already!" America shouted from a few tables away, where she was talking to… was that Eli? What the hell, why hadn't he said 'hi' yet?
"Up yours!" Kate shouted back, and then turned back to Kamala. "Anyway, yeah, there's a lot of heroes. Keep your cool, see if you can make connections, and maybe take some selfies if you want. Your parents know you're here, right?"
Kamala nodded vigorously. "I had to let them talk to your friend on the phone, and then they made my brother come, but he doesn't really care what I do so long as I follow Muslim rules and traditions well enough, and after he saw me come into the building, he decided there were enough people that were general considered trustworthy that I couldn't get into too much trouble."
"Well," Kate said, and then stopped for a moment. "There… are a lot of heroes here. And we've already caught a few villains who weren't invited show up to try and gate crash. So… you probably are in at least a little danger."
"I can handle it!" Kamala protested.
Kate nodded. "Yeah, but I'd rather not worry your parents overly much, okay?"
The girl pouts. "Okay."
"So, Kamala, you want to take a selfie to prove where you were to your parents? You'll need to take off your— okay, you're gaping in horror. What's wrong?"
"How do you know my name?" she squeaked.
Right. That. "I'm a private investigator when I'm not a hero, and I spend a lot of time in Jersey. Ended up doing some snooping to make sure you had a support network just in case."
Kamala subsided a bit at that. "A support network?"
"Parents, friends, all that. I've known some teen heroes, and even adults, who can't handle the strain of the job because they don't have people there to make sure they're okay." Kate shrugged uncomfortably, thinking of Noh and America. Even Tommy, for a while, and Loki. "But you've got a good head on your shoulders and people that have your back, so I think you'll be fine. Sorry for being creepy; that was probably an invasion of privacy."
"I… thanks. For worrying about me. But I have all that, and the Inhumans, so, um… I think I'm good? And please don't do it again?" There was an embarrassed blush crawling up Kamala's cheeks, not entirely noticeable with her natural skin tone and the mask obscuring it, but visible to a Hawkeye.
"Do you want an internship?" Kate asked on impulse. "I can't promise the work will be very interesting, but I can give you a small stipend and write a letter of recommendation when you need it. But I do need someone who's decent at organizing files, or running errands, and won't freak out overly much when my superhero job barges into my real life."
Kamala's mouth fell open. "I, um…. I'll have to ask my parents? But I think that would be okay, even though it's in Manhattan!"
"Awesome!" Kate patted her on the shoulder. "I do have other people to talk to, so I guess just mingle? And, uh… I know this probably goes against everything you believe, but don't listen to Captain Marvel about Noh, please. They have some bad history and she still hasn't forgiven him, even though he was only trying to help, and has been trying to make amends."
Kamala nodded slowly, wide eyes slowly going back to a more normal size. "I, uh… I can talk to Captain Marvel?"
Kate blinked. "Talk to whoever you want, if you think you can get away with it. Try to avoid some of the older people like Richards and Strange, and maybe keep away from Doom, but overall, you're good."
"He officiated. Seemed rude not to invite him, and Sue Storm said it was fine."
"Oh. Cool." Kamala stared at the man for a few seconds, and then turned to Kate. "So, um, who should I talk to first?"
How was Kate supposed to know? She checked around the room for someone who'd have comparable life experiences but wasn't talking to anyone at the moment and was close enough in age to Kamala for it to not be weird.
Cassie was talking to Megan Gwynn in a corner. Good enough.
"That's Stature and Pixie, over there. You should have at least a few things in common. Try to tone down the fangirling a bit and you'll be fine."
A steady warmth showed up behind her just as Kamala left. A larger hand enveloped hers after a moment, and their fingers laced together.
"I'm back," Noh-Varr muttered, his lips just barely brushing against her ear.
"Mostly. Jess knows the feeling. She helped. What did I miss?"
"Stark wants to apologize. I may have an intern soon. The nice couple from the trailer next to the one I was cat-sitting in when I was in LA finally got here. I've been avoiding Rogers, Danvers, and McCoy a lot."
"Jess can take care of Carol, and I think I saw Stark with Rogers and Johnny Storm with McCoy." Noh-Varr noted. "I think you can relax for a bit."
"It would be my genuine pleasure." Noh said, and he must have used his nanites to send a message to the DJ stand, because just a minute later was a slow dance. They set out for the floor, but got intercepted by Clint and Jess.
"Traditionally, the first dance is with the parents, but I think we can switch that around a bit in this case." Jess said, taking Noh's hands from Kate and pulling them into position.
"My actual dad is here, Clint." Kate said, even as she did nothing to stop him.
"Well, last I checked, you hated your dad, so forgive me for assuming I could take this place instead. Besides, your other option was apparently Wade. I'm not joking, either, he actually asked me whether you'd be pissed off or amused if he tried to steal your dad's dance."
"I'm not sure if I'm disappointed or glad that you came instead." Kate finally said. "I'll dance with him later. First, we finish this, and then I dance with Noh."
"Pffft, obviously." Clint spun her around, and Kate almost asked where he'd learned to dance, but… well, he was a secret agent, for all that he was also her favorite human disaster. "You okay with him here?"
"My dad? I'm… dealing. Susan's been handling him for most of the night." Kate shrugged. "It is what it is."
"Fair enough." He angled them towards Noh and Jess, and passed Kate off to Noh, grabbing Jess for himself.
"Hey, lover boy."
"Kate Bishop of Earth," He said, like it was their first day dating all over again. Someone, she could tell, was taking pictures of all of them. After a moment, a red and blue blur informed her that the person in question was Spider-Man.
"Can't believe we actually did this." She laughed, leaning forward and laying her head against his shoulder. "But… things actually seem to be going okay? Even Fury isn't trying to kick you off the planet, and if he's supportive, that means we've got like 70% of SHIELD on our side."
"Kate?" Noh asked, his cheek pressed to the top of her head. "Maybe we could talk about this some other time?"
"…sure, space boy." Kate allowed, realizing that he was worried people would figure out the real reason they'd done all this.
She frowned for a moment as a thought suddenly struck her. "We're totally going to have to see if you can legally park your spaceship on the roof of Clint's apartment building."
In the end, about ten different supervillains tried to crash the wedding, including Madam Masque. The superheroes largely took offense to that, and the villains, by and large, ended up tied up in corners if they weren't invited or someone's plus one. Richards and Doom did get into an actual physical fight, getting pulled apart by Wanda Maximoff and Illyana Rasputin. Derek Bishop did end up getting a dance with Kate, but it was characterized by little more than frosty silence; Carol's dance with Noh fared better, if barely.
(Doom, at one point, declared that he was honored to be here, and refused to let anyone sour one of his few positive interactions with most heroes by murdering the bride.)
Both Susan and Sue started bringing up the idea of maybe redoing the actual wedding, since people clearly wanted to see a ceremony. The suggestion was met with a flat no.
Afterwards, Noh-Varr moved in with Kate, and did indeed park his spaceship on the roof of Clint's building, where Kate was living. Whether or not they were actually in love was up for debate among their friends who knew the truth, but they handled domesticity pretty well.
(Tony Stark, apparently not quite sure how to make sure his apology was seen as sincere, gave them a car as a wedding present, fully paid off, including a year of insurance. It was, to Kate's delight, a purple convertible.)
(Kate's dad, similarly awkward in the way of apology and wedding gifts, paid off their rent for two years. Kate didn't bother telling him that, with Clint owning the building, she didn't actually need to pay rent.)
The paparazzi caught wind of the wedding before the Daily Bugle reported on it, with Silk and Spider-Man and Ben Urich's joint article making the front page, and immediately began speculating. Was it to hide a pregnancy? Was it for some groundbreaking changes to green card laws in regards to marriage and actual aliens? Was Kate Bishop really Hawkeye?
Kate and Noh didn't answer these questions, of course. Even if some of the answers were a definitive no, the others were too close to the truth to risk commenting.
Steve Rogers, Carol Danvers, and Hank McCoy did come by one day to investigate the green card marriage rumors, five months after the ceremony and reception.
They walked into an apartment that smelled like breakfast, with Noh mostly naked (save for an apron and underwear). Kate was drinking coffee and reading a paper, and Lucky was taking his turn with them for the week, and it all looked so very domestic that they decided on the spot that it was either genuine or they were planning to go in for the long haul well enough that it wouldn't matter.
(Noh and Kate never did get that divorce. After the five year mark, numerous piles of coins changed hands, as people finally admitted that maybe, just maybe, Hawkeye and Marvel Boy really were in love.)
A/N: A few things I should address before I continue…
I do not know whether Kamala would be allowed out normally for something like this. I do not know enough about Islam to make that call. However, the final issue before Secret Wars implied that Kamala's mother had known about Kamala being a hero for a long time, so you can assume that her mom was the one to give the okay, because she knows what's up.
I tried to be as respectful as I could in regards to Susan and her situation with Reed. I did a lot of research to find the circumstances behind Secret Avengers: Illuminati and the instance where Namor kicked the stuffing out of Noh, and that lead to research into Reed's mistakes so that Noh would have accusations to hurl back. Unfortunately, most of the lists I found centered around the domestic abuse (emotional, physical, verbal, etc.) of Sue and the kids at Reed's hands, so I ended up including a mention of that. It's a long and fucked up history, and I'm kind of confused as to who Hank Pym ended up the memetic abuser instead of Reed.
Susan's husband doesn't have a name in canon, so I made one up.
I'm not sure where the Bobbi/Natasha came from, but I am digging it.
This story is dedicated to sergeant-angels-trashcan on tumblr, who helped brainstorm this story with me months ago.