In the hall leading to the main living room of the mansion, a series of shelves and glass panes had been installed along the wall, reminiscent of a trophy case.
Initially, the case had only been furnished to display the medals the Avengers had been awarded from the mayor of New York City for stopping the Chitauri invasion. But once Carol had joined the team, Steve, ever the gentleman, had invited her to include some of her own awards since she lacked a medal, having not been present to aid them.
So she contributed to the trophy case: awards for her skill in marksmanship that were gained during her time in the U.S. military, several certificates of achievement for her work in journalism, and even a trophy from a gold tournament, earned during her college days, she told them.
As more than a playful joke than anything else, Tony also hung the multiple blue ribbons won during his school science fair years in the display.
Apparently, Steve thought this lark was a sincere gesture, because he added his military decorations earned during World War II, in addition to an award attained during high school, in recognition for his artistic talent, which Tony found distressingly sentimental.
Tony would be unable to pinpoint when, but soon the other Avengers had included their accolades as well: Thor, with his laurels of victory from battles and antlers of Bilgesnipe; Bruce, who had awards not only praising his ability for science, but also for his cooking, yoga, and fencing skills; and Clint's medals for martial arts, acrobatics, marksmanship, which sat beside by a single battered boomerang, painted with bright, circus-like colors, which he had evidently seen as worthy to accompany his homages.
Even Natasha had placed several medals in the case, but the engraved words were written in Russian, and thus, none of the other Avengers, except for perhaps Clint, knew what skill they were lauding.
Several times a day, Tony often encountered Marvel standing in the hallway, presumably gazing into the trophy case, though he couldn't be certain, as her gaze was obscured by her mask. But her sudden fascination continued for nearly a week, to the point that when one day, Tony, ascending from his lab after almost fifty hours of working and drinking coffee with shots of rum, noticed she wasn't in her usual spot and inquired to J.A.R.V.I.S. for her whereabouts.
"The mansion's golf course, sir. However, she neglected to bring any sort of golfing equipment along with her, so if you're planning on joining her, you'd best remember your clubs."
For a moment, Tony was puzzled about why Marvel, who basically lived in the gym, would bother with golf, but then he recalled her abrupt makeover.
"Not necessary," Tony muttered, exiting the mansion before J.A.R.V.I.S. had the chance to respond.
He followed the set stone path in his own extensive back lawn for a few dozen feet, then veered off the path to take a shortcut through the green of the golf course. He could see Marvel, now, standing on the snaking path. He strode toward her.
"Beautiful day, isn't it?" He asked with sarcasm. "Perfect for a game of golf, huh?"
She was wearing the silver reflective aviators again, and he was unable to read her expression as she turned her face to him, acknowledging his presence. Surprisingly, she was also dressed in light, casual civilian clothing of reasonable fashionability.
"I cannot understand why one would be entertained by such a pointless game," she responded flatly.
For several seconds, Tony reeled in shock at actually hearing her voice. He couldn't recall her ever speaking before. Her voice was cool, devoid of emotion, and low but easily understandable.
"Well, some people appreciate it." His tone was fairly scathing, even to his own ears, but he wasn't going to stop himself now. "Carol did. And if you want to be just like her, you should learn to like golf as well."
Marvel was silent, and though Tony was vaguely aware that he was basically baiting a dragon, he continued; it must have been the sleep deprivation.
"Because that's what you want, isn't it? To be just like Carol- wear her emblem, take her name, be her physical image, and play golf, right?" Tony threw his hands into the air, exasperated. "Well, newsflash, you can't ever be Carol. You can never replace Carol."
"I am not trying to replace her," was Marvel's calm reply.
"No? You sure? Then why did you bleach your hair blonde? Are you wearing those blue contact lenses?" A coalescing wave of exhaustion, disappointment, and grief abruptly crashed over him, and Tony almost stumbled over. "Stop trying to live up to someone else's reputation kid," he said bitterly, with a brief but intense thought to himself and his father. "It doesn't do you any good in the long run."
"I am merely attempting to honor Carol Danvers's legacy by emulating her," Marvel said, unperturbed. If anything, she gave the air of being somewhat bored by the unlikely and wildly sporadic conversation.
"'Attempt' is the right word," Tony informed her, pressing a hand against his head, which had begun to throb with pain. "You're sure as hell not succeeding. Let me tell you something: I don't like you. I don't like you because you're a young punk who's walking around wearing the symbol of my best friend, and you have no idea of what it stands for. Put on a different uniform, one that doesn't have a lightning bolt, take a different name, and then everything will be fine and dandy between the two of us."
"I will not change myself to please anyone else," Marvel returned steadily.
"Please." Tony waved his hand about. "You already revised yourself to be outwardly just like Carol, hence the random blonde hair and blue eyes, and now you're trying to convince yourself take on Carol's interests, such as golf. But you know what? You'll never understand Carol. Any fraction of her would be worth ten of you."
"Carol certainly was a noble and generous figure," was Marvel's irritatingly unconcerned response.
"If nothing else, at least do something about your hair," Tony snapped. "You look like a playboy bunny, and not in a good way." He regretted the words the moment they parted his lips, if only because he just remembered that he didn't know Marvel's actual age.
However, she was still completely unemotional. "If we are going to discuss aesthetics, then I would advise you to shave."
Tony shook his head, angry but too tired to proceed with his tries to bait Marvel into an argument. This was doing nothing: he couldn't get a reaction from her.
He settled for a demand. "If you're going to strut around in Carol's uniform- and reworked or not, it's still hers- then you have to be worthy of it. Remember that kid, remember that."
The world tilted around him before he managed to finish the sentence.
"I shall," she said without any sort of passion.
Still, he started out on his stumble back to the shelter of the mansion, leaving her there, alone with only his challenge for company, standing in the sunlight.
A/N: Let me know your thoughts, please.