Apologies upon apologies for this redonkulously late update. I have felt absolutely no motivation to write this for literally a year. But I made this extra funny just for you! I promise! I also pinky swear that at least two more chapters will be released soon-ish.
Feel free to give me a cyber smack down if I don't. I have the memory of a goldfish cracker.
The invitations were not expected.
Actually, the invitations were entirely expected. They got them all of the time.
Their delivery mechanism, not so much.
"Mail, mother fuckers!" Fury yelled as he threw a stack of envelops at Tony's face. "Six o'clock, on the dot, suits pressed, faces washed, White House front entrance in style, do not cause an incident, and do not make me call Pepper."
And with a swish of his leather coat (it still made Draco and Harry snicker like children at the sight no matter how many times they saw it) he was gone, leaving the Avengers to look at the mail that had gathered around Tony's feet in a bewildering pile.
"I missed something, but I have no idea how I missed it."
"Don't strain yourself."
"Thanks for that, Firecracker."
"It's a popsicle that's all red white and – you know what, never mind. What the hell are all of these?"
"You could, I don't know, read one?" Natasha stated drolly in only the way she could, still managing a hefty intimidation factor while getting her toenails painted by Clint and eating an ice cream sundae.
"Point." The inventor bent and snatched one up, not bothering to see the addressee, tore it open, and began reading.
"Dear Thor Odinson, Prince of Asgard ohh, fancy you have been cordially invited by President Barrack Obama to take part in the Heroes Ball. You are allowed one Plus One. Formal attire. Blah, blah, blah. Essentially, it's a party. Whoopee." With that, he flopped back onto the couch and started poking at his phone.
"I'm telling Pepper you called a presidential invitation a party," Harry called from his spot on the floor.
Tony sat up instantly. "You wouldn't dare."
"Try what?" the devil herself asked as she walked in in all her skyscraper heeled glory.
"Tony called a ball invitation to the White House a party," Clint said, not taking his eyes off of his work. The pinky toe was always the trickiest part.
"Never said I wouldn't say anything about it."
"Tony!" She stalked over to the man who cringed back into the couch as though it could somehow save him, and snatched the invitation out of his hand. "Guys, this is tonight."
"Did they forget about us or something?"
"That might be the case," the CEO said calmly. "Let's get this done and over with, then. Tony, you have a suit, but I need a new dress. You're buying. Get over it. Clint, wear the suit from that case I saw you work last month, but with a bow tie. JARVIS, call Bruce and Betty, let them know to get something nice. Actually, just call Betty. Bruce will protest too much. Put it on Iron Man's tab, along with anything Jane wants to wear. Let her know that a private jet will be coming to get her at around 4:00 this afternoon. Natasha?"
The assassin looked up. "I could use a new dress."
"Good, you'll be coming with me, then. Thor, do you have a suit?"
"Nay, Lady Pepper, but I have ceremonial dress from Asgard, if that will do?"
"Perfect, it sets a statement. Draco, Harry? I don't think we can get anything handmade that fast, but we can see about getting something tailored."
"Actually, we have our own clothes," Draco said. "They're wizard's dress up clothes."
"Good. And Steve, I have something that I know you will like. Let me know later if it's too much, okay?"
And with that, Pepper clicked away, talking quickly with JARVIS about schematics of some kind.
"She could be a general," Steve said in awe.
"I think she is one already," Draco pointed out.
There were few things Clint absolutely hated. Disliked, sure. Some things caused more grievances than should be allowed, too, but hated? Not too much.
Getting bloodstains out of a white tuxedo, however.
"Dammit!" He was elbows deep in his bath tub that was quickly turning a frothy pink, which was in turn morphing the rest of the suit the same color. "'Wear that suit from the last mission' she said! 'Your contact was told a white suit' Fury said! 'Don't worry about staining, you'll never have to wear it again' he. Friggin'. Said!"
Scrubbing furiously at the jacket in a fit of rage, Clint managed to splash about a gallon of the filthy water onto the ground where his previously untouched pants were laying.
"Well, now I'll look like I just came out of Chelsea. It'll be great. Maybe I can cover this up with the cummerbund? Do white pants come off the rack? Oh my god this is a disaster. Have I tried bleach yet? Oh, yeah, that's what dissolved the sleeve. How much bleach was recommended? Half of what I used. Good to know. Why don't I know how to do this at this point? Oh, that's right! Because I'm a sniper that wears black for this very reason!"
Despondently, the archer stared at the disgusting pink mess that was once a perfectly respectable tuxedo on the floor of his bathroom.
Sighing, Clint held up his handy work. It was still dripping pathetically, the stains no closer to being gone than before; they were just very diluted and smeared around.
"Hey, Clint have you seen the – what happened here?!" Draco cried out as he entered the bathroom. "What did you do?!"
"Why do you assume I had anything to do with it?!"
"Well, for one, this is your bathroom, which you are sitting in holding a suit that looks like it came out of a macabre pride catalogue. For another, you can't even tell me that that thing isn't yours because you wrote your name on the trouser tag like a grade schooler!"
Clint glanced down. "Goddamnit, Natasha! Okay, so I had a little bit to do with it. I'll just wear a different suit! It'll be fine!"
"Do you even own another suit?"
"Thought not. Well, give it here, then," Draco drew his stick (which Clint now knew to be a wand. A WAND!) and rolled up his sleeves.
Glancing an appraising eye over the disaster, the tall blonde waved his wand and muttered something under his breath. Within seconds, all hints of the life giving fluid were gone from the cloth, and the sleeve that Clint had ripped off with his over exuberant bleaching had reattached like nothing had happened.
"What the – that's amazing! Can you do that with all of my clothes?" Clint asked excitedly, clutching the repaired tux to his chest like it might sprout wings and fly into a nearby crime scene at any moment.
"No. You can learn to be an adult and wash your clothes by yourself," Draco snatched the iron that had been sitting on the counter, and spun on his heel before departing the room that was likely a biohazard of some kind.
"How do you even know a spell like that?" the archer called after him, trying to catch up and not slip on the wet floor.
"Well, darling, that is just a secret known only to homosexuals, so you are never to know," the wizard snarked.
"Fine, fine, don't tell me. I'll just bug you in the middle of the night for cleaning tips next time we have to fight something radioactive in the Hudson."
"Can't tell me what to do; not my real mom."
"I – what? Is that even a real saying?"
"I feel like I'm losing brain cells. I will see you later."
With a sharp crack, Draco had vanished from the spot, but not before Clint noticed the black tattoo on his forearm.
"I didn't know he had ink. Looked pretty cool though."
That's when he noticed something vital; he had once more dropped his tux pants, this time on one of his acid arrows that he had been experimenting on.
"Should we really have left the boys alone to deal with this themselves for two hours?" Natasha asked from inside the changing room.
"They'll be fine," Pepper answered from across the hall. "I think."
"Didn't they let a stray mercenary in the last time who stole all of our frozen pizzas?"
"We should probably hurry up. Tell me what you think of this one."
Pepper stepped out of the dressing room into the waiting area, a perk granted quickly after flashing a platinum card proclaiming 'Stark'.
"I think it's a winner."
The CEO was wearing a blue silk gown that flowed across her curves, accenting everything nicely with little silver beaded highlights, with a very slight trail that was only noticeable when she stood still.
"Oh, thank you! I wasn't entirely sure at first, but with the right heels I think it'll make Tony have a coronary." That was always her final box to check when getting any new clothes. The more he liked her dresses, the more he'd let her buy with his money, which was always a plus. "You look fantastic as always."
And Natasha did. The Widow wore a simple black dress with only one sleeve that artfully went down to her knuckles, the rest swirled gracefully to the floor, only giving peeks of her red shoes as she walked.
"I think I can fit at least twelve weapons into this."
Ah, there it was.
"Nails and hair then?"
Thor was both bored and excited. He had managed to call Jane in New Mexico without breaking his phone to see how she was doing, who was excited but definitely flustered. But that was her natural state, he assumed, as he had yet to see her show any other distinctive personality for more than five minutes at a time.
After ending the call with her, which had been admittedly abrupt seeing as Darcy had been screaming something about silent hills in the background, he dug out his ceremonial garb from his bag. This was another emotional Bifrost, as it had occurred to the god halfway through unpacking that it had been the last tangible thing that his mother had done for him before she had passed.
He wasn't ashamed to admit he had curled up into a ball in a corner in mourning for a while.
Past that, however, he was bored. He had met many rulers and politicians in his time, this one would be no different, so there was no nervousness to overcome. His clothing was laid out to be donned at a more appropriate time. He had showered and fed.
Now he was just bored.
Tony passed him from his place on the couch. "All ready, point break?"
"Indeed, metal man."
"Awesome. Play Mario Kart with me."
Steve stared in awe at the suit that was laid out on his bed. He had to hand it to Pepper for being prepared for anything, that was for sure.
It was his dress uniform. The original dress uniform, in fact, from the '40s. Apparently, Howard had turned into quite the pack rat in his absence, and had kept most of his things that hadn't been 'worthy' of being donated to the Smithsonian in DC. But there it was, in all its medaled glory.
He still remembered that day.
"Hold him still now, boys!"
With no further warning, Dum Dum had him around the waist, pinning his arms to his sides. Gabe and Jacques each had a leg, where they then proceeded to remove his dress shoes (somehow) and hand them both to Jim, and Montgomery snatched the hat off of his head with no more than a smile.
"Officers. Can't do a damn thing by themselves," Bucky said grinning as he proceeded to neatly maneuver around the Commandos and start rearranging the ribbons and medals that were collected across his uniform. "Have to leave it all up to the NCO's, don't cha? See, this one? This goes over here. I swear to God, Steve, did you do this blind folded?"
"No, that's how he did his shoes," Jim reported dryly from his seat on the ground, where he was polishing away at the leather. "Either that, or he ran across the entire German army on the way to this tent."
"Is he wearing two different colored socks?"
"Why, yes, Jacques, it looks like he is. You hear that, Sarge?"
"That I did. You, Rogers, are a fricking disgrace. Monty, black socks, please. You find the right cover yet?"
"Well, Barnes, I believe that it was left at an outpost somewhere, as it is certainly not in his kit. Chuckles in supply owes me, I'll go check with him, shall I?"
"See, Steve? Having to call in favors. Shame on you."
Within short order, he was deemed ready to go, albeit with a stunned silence still about his person.
"Do me proud, huh?" Bucky had joked on his way to the mess tent with the others. "And bring back dames!"
Steve sniffed back a few loose tears and reached for the fabric. Holding it up to his face, he breathed in deep and broke down right there. It still smelled faintly of his ditty bag where it had rested for months in between use, along with the forests that were trekked. But mostly, it smelled like the ratty old tent that the Commandos, Peggy, Howard, and Colonel Phillips had always returned to to drink to whatever momentous occasion had occurred to warrant the wearing of such fine outfits. It smelled like home.
He gripped the uniform ever tighter, and was rewarded with the slight crinkle of paper. Sniffling more, he held it out, finding a hidden pocket on the inside of the jacket, with a picture in it.
It had probably been placed there by Bucky at some point, as the back was signed with a simple "for inspiration, Punk", but the shot itself was the best thing he had ever seen.
It was a picture certainly no historian would ever want to see, but one he would have tattooed onto his eyelids for all the good it would do; it was his family, plain and simple.
Philips stood in the middle, grumpy look on his face as he tried to avoid the kisses that both Peggy and Howard were trying to bestow upon his person, while Jim, Gabe, and Jacques held the inventor parallel to the ground to get him to the best angle. On the other side, next to Peggy, Monty was applying a dark shade of lipstick to the grinning mouth of none other than Dum Dum, and Bucky stood by with the biggest smile on his face, proudly wearing a collection of every hat in the group.
Steve couldn't contain the uproarious laughter that bubbled up at the sight, and didn't remotely stop until Tony, Thor, Clint, Draco, and Harry came running.
"We could hear you three floors down, what's going on?"
"Has the gas of laughter returned to besmirch this day once more, captain?"
"I'm going to get whiplash from all these double takes. Stop saying weird things!"
"Look, I'm telling you-"
"We leave you alone for three hours and we come back to find Steve hyperventilating! I swear to God, Tony, if this is your fault…!"
"Guys, I'd like you to meet Betty – did I miss something? I feel like I missed something."
Steve kept smiling as he looked up from his picture of his old family towards his new one.
Everything was going to be just fine.
"This is at least 12% your fault, you know."