The Blue Line

February 10, 2017:

Tony Stark goes out to Central Park to test some of his Iron Man tech. He foolishly asks Darcy to help him. Things go as well as one might expect.

Central Park

It looks suspiciously like Central Park.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The last time Tony Stark tested something recently, it ended up a minor spectacle as it crashed into the Hudson. Not really that low key. Though its not like Stark /ever/ does anything low key. Pepper would kill him if she knew half the testing procedures he ignores.

Which is why he doesn't bother people with details.

Unfortunately details are a problem for some people.

Which is why when Stark headed for Central Park with a case over one shoulder and a spring in his step SHIELD rushed to find /someone/ to go with him. Someone who could handle his personality. Someone who could deal with his problems. Someone who, with gravity and responsibility, not cause any kind of incident.

They couldn't find anyone like that, so they just send Darcy.

It was better than nothing.

Which is how Tony came to be in a secluded section of the park, near the basketball court. With a large black case and a set of four…well it looks like four pieces of the iron man suit sitting in that case. "Alright. So. Last time the stabalisors weren't really that great…this time…gonna get it tightened up. So." And the inventor claps his hands twice, like a master magician.

"Wake up boys!"

With a slight shudder, the four pieces start to raise off the ground in a wobbly kind of hover.

Darcy was getting ready to hit the gym when they called her for this outting. workout clothes already on, and gym bag over a shoulder, Darcy just shrugged and went as she was. Now, she stands on her bright pink outdoor wheels, hands in their black wrist protectors that match the elbow and knee pads, green eyes watching the four pieces hover.

"WHy not girls?" she asks him, red knit beanie on her head.

It's surprising, the amount of things you can learn just by watching. Just ask the Watcher. He won't answer, but it's the thought that counts.

But simple observation can unfurl a wealth of knowledge and fun tidbits about people and places as long as you know just how to perfectly wallflower. And one of the first things that Loki Odinson ever learned to do in his long life is how to watch. How to watch, and how to wait, for that perfect opportunity. That perfect story to unfurl.

Really though, right now, he's just wasting time while he waits for other proverbial eggs to hatch; settled at a park bench, wearing a nice white dress-up shirt with a loose green tie, black vest, slacks and shoes, the seemingly young man has perfectly contented himself with people watching today. And perhaps, that's all he -would- be spending his time doing, if nothing interesting had flitted across that bright green gaze of his.

But it does, so really, Tony Stark has no one to blame but himself when Loki catches sight of him and Darcy and decides it's only natural that he tag along at a healthy, quiet pace behind them until he rearches the outer fringes of that relatively secluded court, and just… watches, with a calm sliver of a smile that only grows with muted interest as those Iron Man segments start to rise. A brow arches. Darcy speaks. He can't help himself.

"She's right, you know," he remarks absently as he leans back just so, staring at those pieces with a critical eye. "It's probably more likely most of them are girls. Statistically speaking." Pause. "Oh, don't mind me. Feel free to keep doing what you're doing. It's fascinating. … But she's probably right."

"Part of my armor, so I made it, so I call them boys." Tony replies as he pulls out a little tablet and lofts it lighting though the air towards Darcy. "I guess I could call them girls, but its JARVIS' voice in it so I call em boys. If it was FRIDAY in there, that would be different." His rapid fire words easy, smooth as he hardly looks up from a second tablet he has clutched in one hand. Holographic data floods it, faster than most minds could follow.

"Check the blue line on that readout," He adds this time towards Darcy. "If it dips below about a third of the way down the readout yell. Or something." He adds as he adjusts this, and pokes that. Soon the four pieces are hovering by themselves at a safe and steady point about a foot above their box.

"Getting the repulsors turned right is important I suppose…if I don't want to end up splattered across the ground at least."

Finally the creator of the Iron Man suit looks up and over his shoulder at the peanut gallery. He narrows his eyes slightly behind his shades(yes its night, no he doesn't care) before glancing back over towards Darcy.

"He with you?" He asks curiously.

Taking the tablet, Darcy pushes backwards to roll a bit closer to their sharply dressed 'innocent by-stander'.

"Well, I guess that makes sense. Created in your image, or some shit. Still, if you ask me, girls have better images. Junk in all the right places," Darcy's mouth is just as rambly and fast-paced at Tony's. Any wonder they sent her as the last resort? Her green eyes slide over Loki's form, not recognizing him from George. Red lips curl up in a smirk.

"Dunno. Haven't asked yet. Haven't been asked," is her retort to Tony before she's offering that 'gauntleted' in plastic and velcro hand to the sharp dressed by stander.

"Darcy." No, she's no longer looking at the tabelt Tony gave her in order to give warning about some blue do-hickey.

Hands slipping leisurely into his pants pockets, the green-eyed young (probably) man tilts his head at an owlishly curious angle as he watches those readouts. Fascination creeps briefly over his expression before he blinks, and looks back Tony's way — as if only now realizing the man's looking at him and asking questions. Green eyes flit back towards Darcy.

"Yes, I'm with her," he declares with casual confidence and winning smiles abounds, as if this were just a matter of fact. "At least in one sense of the phrase. Ask me about the others later." He waves a hand dismissively, as if he doesn't really want to be asked. Instead, he just turns his attention to that offered hand considerately.

"I'm…" Who is he today? He should decide that. "… Reynard. You can call me Rey. All my friends do." Or they certainly would. He takes that hand, smiles ever-so-warmly, and bends at the waist to press a kiss. Against the plastic. He studiously avoids the velcro. "It's a pleasure to meet the brains of the operation here."

He's certainly in no rush to remind Darcy about that tablet, either, happily distracting as he offers to Tony, "And you're a man who needs no introduction!" A second passes.

"… Who are you, though?"

"I occasionally make sense," Tony replies. "But I can't disagree with the junk placement on girls." Which is of course when Pepper is likely just stepping into earshot of the little knot of people. The quartet of brightly colored Iron Man armor shards hovering by themselves over a black metal box.

He can't help but smirk slightly though at Reynard's responce. "I think I might like him." Then he asks who Tony is. "Me? Nobody. Not really anyone important at all…" He drawls as he clicks a button and one of the pieces of armor goes zipping like a hummingbird into the night sky. Droind all sorts of ariel acrobatics, tracked by a pair of glowing red lights set on one side.

"…just the person who created the thing that powers most of a city block without any enviromental problems, desigened a flying suit of armor more advanced than anything this planet has seen and just last week…developed the perfect ice tea maker."

His eyes are fixed on the flight of the little piece, as the little blue line on Darcy's pad starts to wobble.

Green eyed man did what now? Darcy chuckles at the kiss to the plastic of her wrist guards. Withdrawing her hand she takes a moment to check how bad it smells. When DID she wash her gear last? Oh, right. Darcy before yesterday. okay. Not so much stank this time. This as she's grining at 'Rey' and quotes a movie.

"Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say Yes," Darcy offers her 'sage' advice. Because this is how Darcy's brain works to memorize names and faces. Sometimes her brain to mouth filter catches it before it spills out of her lips. Most times, her filter has flipped the world the bird and taken the night off to drink beer and watch Netflix. "Also, you have a point. You /are/ totally with me right now." She turns to Tony.

"He's with me," Darcy confirms, eyes glancing at the flying drones and wondering if they had been rhoombas. Because rhoomas are evil enough when they roll all over the floor. Give them the ability to fly to attack dust anywhere… frightening. But the show is entertaining, as it hte banter with Stark.

"Of course you can't disagree. You're straight. Right? Or a little both ways? Not that it matters. Kinda hot, actually," Darcy's saying, watching the acrobatics for a bit before slowly and without rush or concern about the blue line she's supposed to be looking at but not currently watching begins to lift the tablet up so she can look at it.

"What was I supposed to be looking for again?" Because she probably wasn't listening.

Fortunately relatively stank free. Good luck. Besides, the lingering stink is completely forgiven by:

'Ray, when someone asks you if you're a good, you say Yes.'

The man calling himself Reynard smiles a charming smile that exposes pearly white teeth.

"Yes," he says, and pauses just so before adding, "Yes, I think you're now my favorite person, Darcy."

For the reference. Obviously.

And so, he listens to Tony with the slow and steady arch of his brows, as if looking suitably impressed with the man's words. He even whistles, just a bit.

"Well, then it's clearly an honor to meet you, Mr. Nobody!" enthuses the green-eyed man, clearly having taken the wrong point home from Tony's long introduction. He looks impressed, though, and that's what matters!

Soon enough, the man who is definitely Reynard turns his attention back on Darcy, offering a conspiratorial wink in her direction as she agrees with his declaration. "He certainly does look like the progressive type," he asides to Darcy as she asks those questions, before peering at the tablet she lifts. Here, the black-haired man very carefully leans in close towards her to offer a helping hand, with every intention of guiding a finger down and poking at the screen.

"Let's see… I think he meant… here," he begins, slow but sure, as he points away from the wobbling blue line. But he says it with such confidence!

The brisk click of a distinctive (to Tony, at least) pair of shoes herals Pepper's arrival a moment before she's actually in eyeshot. And of course, she catches up in time to hear Tony's spouting all kinds of braggadocio. But, for maximum effect, she waits to speak up until she's nearly within arm's reach of the inventor. "Anthony Edward Stark, why am I having to wander Central Park on a Friday night to find you?" Why can't you go party in a nightclub like a normal rich lunatic?

"Right, he's with you." Tony just accepts this. After all Darcy is with SHIELD now. That means she's competant right? She's had training? She's…oh who is he kidding, she hasn't but its not like he was going to say anything about who she decides to hang out with. "Straight unless I'm /really/ wasted. Which thankfully hasn't happened in awhile." He adds absentmindedly as he works on his controls and sends a second one soaring off to join the first in a suprisingly spritely dance though the air.

"The b—" And thats when the com near his ear chimes and gets his attention. "Just a sec. JARVIS?" Com goes live. "Go, you're on the air with Tony Stark."

"Ah, good sir. I have been trying to reach you for a half hour."
"Huh, whats up JARVIS ol' buddy ol' pal?"
"Miss Potts requested your location. I think she may be on her way to—-"


"….and she's found me. Gotta go, I'm in trouble." He clicks off the phone to turn towards the sound of that woman's shoes. And voice. "Pepper! So nice of you to join us! You've met Darcy right, and her…" A wave of a hand towards Loki. "…something. Rey." A longer pause. "I'm totally in trouble arn't I? But look, I just can't get this kind of field testing in a lab!"

…and meanwhile that blue bar creeps still lower.

To 'Ray', Darcy smiles with winning mischievousness. She nods, because it's nice to be favored by people. People are pretty awesome in general. And, because people who know the original Ghostbusters and not the remake are even more awesome. Because Darcy assumes that 'Ray' said she was his favorite because he also is a fan of the movies. His wink is returned before her gaze slides toward Tony again.

"Totally. His butt's kind cute too," Darcy quips. Because 'Ray' seems able to keep Filter happily entertained with Supernatural reruns. Dude; them Winchester Boys, tho'! Anyone else needs to fan themselves? Keeping one toe-stop down so she's not rolling about on her wheels, Darcy's gaze returns to the tablet, looking where 'Ray' points. Hmm… seems not right, as Darcy reads the whole screen again, watching the blue line dipping. Which compared to everything else looks out of place.

And then Pepper, and Darcy looks up at Tony.

"OoooooooOOOOOOO, she called you Anthony Edward Stark! You in trouuuuuuuuuble! I'm out," she's declaring even as she's not moving an inch, not even making a motin that hints that she's actually running for it. And just because, Darcy turns to Pepper, smiling at her friend who joined her for coffee with a raccoon and a tree after too much to drink with their friend upon whose face she wrote her phone number in black sharpie.

"Hi, Miss Potts. Tony's made all boy flying robots. He should make some all girl flying robots. I will name them Ginger, Baby, Sporty, Posh, and Scary," Darcy tells Pepper. Bcause tht all makes perfect sense, she turns back to Tony.

"We've got a blue line playing limbo over here. That's good, right?" Darcy is helpful!

It's a series of perfectly layered distractions. Really, he couldn't ask for anything better.

That mischief in Darcy's smile is reflected in Reynard's own before he turns a critical eye back on Tony, brows lifting and an index finger tapping at his chin in the quintessential Pose of Pondering. "I suppose it is. Relatively speaking," he declares in a most complimentary way. He even gives an encouraging little thumbs up for Tony before his attention returns to that tablet. "Hmm. Maybe it's this one, though…" he murmurs. "Then again, this part looks pretty important—"

Anthony Edward Stark, a new voice calls out with all due severity at just the opportune time, and Loki helpfully sucks on his teeth. Sympathetically. For Tony's sake. "Anthony Edward Stark? That seems so… normal, compared to Mr. Nobody. I'm a bit disappointed." He'll get over it. Besides which…

"This seems like it might be a bit personal. We really should leave, right?" he asides to Darcy solemnly, while not even budging a fraction of a step away from the incoming encounter. "We should definitely give them privacy." But he doesn't; he's more interested in waving pleasantly to Pepper with a helpful, "I'm with her," of introduction before his attention returns to those floating, armored husks, head tilting at a curious angle as that line dips precariously low.

"I think he said he wanted it low. Lower is better, from an efficiency standpoint," he says, which is wrong, but he's being helpful too.

Pepper crosses her arms and raises an eyebrow at Tony. But even so, she greets Darcy and 'Rey' politely. "Darcy, good to see you again. And Rey, a pleasure to meet you." And then her attention is back on Tony. "And you didn't think to let anyone know you were heading out here, Tony? I had to find out from JARVIS where you went."

"I didn't think it would take that long!" Tony protests. "I mean really. Just in. Out. A few tests. Back before anyone was the wiser." A pause. "That didn't sount right. Before anyone started to worry." Yeah. Thats better.

He reaches out sloowly for Pepper's hands. "I mean its really nothing. Just a minor field test. I didn't even get near the Hudson this time."

Why would he even say that.

"I mean I didn't wnat to bot—-wait." His gaze slowly slides towards Darcy. "Hold that thought. Which line is doing a limbo?"

…and about that time…

A annoyed humming comes from that first piece and a set of sparks rake down its side before it suddenly takes a nosedive. There is a crash as it slams into the second part that was just innocently flying in circles and then they both seem to careen off. One buzzes Pepper, the other heads for 'Ray'.

"…right. The blue line."

"Yeah. Likewise. Hey. You guys doing Festivus again this year? I loved the chocolate pudding wrestling match against you," Darcy replies to Pepper, no longer looking at the tablet again. Oblivious to potential danger, Darcy's smiling at Pepper then Ray as he suggests privacy.

"Totes. You can take me to dinner," she states as if it were the most normal thing in the world, inviting people she just met out. Well, for Darcy. It kind of is. It's how she ended up dating a blue speedster who's been moving too much and too fast to return phone calls. Currently unconcerned about this, Darcy is just turning back to Tony and Pepper in time to see the drones careening all sorts of directions. One of which is the very innocent by-stander, Ray the God. Because if asked, Ray will answer in the affirmative. So sayeth the Darcy. Also, days are now darcies. You're welcome. (

Drone on a crash course for the 'civilian' closest to her Darcy reacts.

"Stark, get Pepper," she calls out, likely needlessly, while Darcy moves to derby shoulder check-tackle Ray out of the drone's path. Maybe it puts her in its way. Maybe it doesn't. The point here is that even if Ray says YES to being a god (instead of the Dress), Darcy is pretty sure that he's not actually a god. It's just a mnemonic device Darcy uses to help her with names and faces. Connect them to something random, off the wall, and already in her long term memory. BAM! One memorized name and face. Possibly even location details. Depends on the thing Darcy attaches new name/face to. Not the point, but an interesting side note nonetheless.

"Pleasure's all mine," the man who is certainly named Rey today assures Pepper, the smile that comes an easy one. His green gaze focuses on those floating mechanical pieces. Any second now. Just wait for it…

"Your…" he searches for the appropriate term for Pepper and Tony's seemingly complex relationship, black brows furrowing inward. "… your Anthony Edward Stark -" It's the best he could think of, really, "- is a very fascinating man. Willing to test such remarkable things out in public with such confidence even while the blue line drops and they warble so dangerously…"

A moment of silence passes. Perfectly timed. Of course.

"… Ah. They're not supposed to warble dangerously, are they."

And then it comes, a cavalcade of distractions leading towards runaway Iron Man limbs and/or other body parts. 'Ray,' or 'Rey,' or however you'd like to call him, of course, only widens his eyes in what would be completely understandable surprise for an everyday, normal human bystander, which he assuredly is. It's an image that would be completely ruined if that floating chunk of metal hit him, of course —

— which is why he is ever-so-grateful to have Darcy roller-bladed tackle into him right on cue. He's surprisingly dense (not in that way) underneath all those sharp clothes, which might be a point of curiosity, if he wasn't making sure to make himself topple backwards on cue — and grab Darcy by the shoulders to take her along for the ride before she gets pummeled by renegade Iron Man tech. Fancy that.

Because he's certainly not a god, he lets out a dramatic little 'oof!' as he hits the ground, ideally with Darcy in tow, watching as that metal piece flies overhead. He rubs the back of his head as if it was sore. It's not. But. He certainly makes it look like it.

"… I can't help but feel none of this would have happened if he had just used the girl parts instead," asides Loki, or Rey, or Ray, most lamentably. "Thank you for the save." Which he clearly needed, definitely. "I guess I owe you one now, don't I? So…" A second passes.

"Where do you like your dinner, Darcy?"

Pepper looks to be about to say something when one of the floating pieces dive bombs here. She gasps and just barely manages to get out of the way. "That's it, Tony. You need to take these thngs back to the drawing board before someone gets hurt." She looks like she wants to say more, but hopefully that will be enough to get the inventer to gather up the armor pieces.

"Kefi," states the SHIELD agent in derby gear, all too happy to leave Stark in Pepper's hands. She changes her foot gear, from skates to scuffed and unlaced combat boots. Skates in gym bag, Darcy hefts it up to a shoulder and leads the way.

"I gotta call in that Stark's been handed off to work, if you'll gimme a sec?" Darcy asks Ray as she holds up her phone. After getting his agreement,Darcy calls it in, states she is clocking out for the night to the person on the other end of the line, and then hangs up and smiles at Ray.

"Exciting stuff, huh?"

Loki has certainly never heard of Kefi before in his life. "Kefi it is, then," says Ray, like it was the most natural thing in the world.

The man comfortably waits for Darcy to get ready, and when she heads off, he follows beside her, one hand lifting to push through the inky blackness of his hair while his eyes tilt back just to catch a brief peek of Tony Stark being essentially dragged off. His smile is a pleasantly happy one by the time he turns his attention back to Darcy.

"Take all the time you need, I'm as patient as they come when it's in my favor to be as patient as they come," the young(ish) man jokes easily, letting Darcy get her call in at her leisure as he looks about the city around him like one taking in much of the sights for the first time. Curiosity and faint amusement line his features.

"Oh, thrilling," he agrees when she's done, casting her an amused grin. "It's not every day you get to be nearly killed by a mad scientist's runaway machines. I can cross that off my bucket list, now." His eyes flit briefly to her phone, curiosity tinging briefly on the refined edges of that voice of his as he asks, "So, what do you do, Darcy, when you're not busy watching dangerous experiments in public places?"

Phone in her hoodie pocket, Dracy walks at Loki's side.

"I skate, and I work on getting a school all chartered and legal, and I help wrangle weird shit happening the city," she replies without worry.

"And Tony's hardly a mad Scientist. This assumes he's a scientist."

"Well," Loki begins leisurely without so much as missing a beat as Darcy casually talks about her weird shit wrangling proclivities, "I think that's just amazing. I mean, skating — now there's an accomplishment." His words are teasing, his smile the mischievous sort that seems to come to him like a second nature. He rounds the corner, letting Darcy lead them to the restaurant even as he speaks.

"Seems like you live quite the life. Helping mad people who don't have the benefit of being scientists," See? He corrected himself! "Working on schools, saving poor, innocent young men from harm at your own personal expense…" He turns around to walk backwards, squinting at Darcy as he does. "… you wouldn't happen to be one of those super heroes, would you? Maybe something like 'The Rowdy Roller Derby Girl!' … or something?"

His mischevious smile summons her own and Darcy is laughing ambiably at Loki's jokes, the snark and the quips. When he turns around to walk backwards, Darcy looks afronted though her eyes are sparkling with mirth.

"Dude! That's my move," is the grouse, followed immediately by a warm laugh that tells the winter chill to shove it.

"I know a few. But the Rowdy Derby Girl is…" she looks around, like she's goingto share a big secret. Leaning forward, Darcy stage whispers, "Right here." Hey, i just met you and this is crazy but wanna know my secret identity?

"Oh, I think you're terribly mistaken," is the man who calls himself Ray's very insistent, very matter-of-fact response to Darcy's complaint, expression solemn as he lifts one hand to his chest. "I'm afraid I came up with this move first. It's indisputable. However…"

Jovial and amused as ever, there's a glint in those emerald eyes as he makes his very thoughtful offer, "… play your cards right, and I may just be generous enough to name it after you anyway. 'The Darcy Maneuver.' Has a nice ring to it, wouldn't you say?"

His laughter joins hers, laced with amusement before she starts to lean forward. He blinks, and leans towards her in turn, listening to those whispered words with eyes that widen right on cue for the dramatic reveal.

"Yes, and I'm secretly a god in disguise," he claims, with expertly cultivated sarcasm, waving a hand through the air as if to dismiss the entire idea of her Dramatic Reveal!; that glint of amusement in his eyes yet lingers, however. "I think I'll need to see some proof before I believe you're a hero as infamous as…" What did he say it was? "… Roller Derby Girl?" There.

At his insistence that he invented the turn and walk backwards, Darcy tilts her head, eyes bright with ready to argue the point. Painted red lips at kicked up in a lopsided grin, chuckling at his so thoguthful offer.

"Well, considering when I'm in street shoes I fall on my ass, you go right ahead. But that, on wheels, all mine, bitch," she allows even as she's noting.

"Yup. Walking backwards, falling on ass. Totally sounds like a Darcy Maneuver. You keep that one." Darcy chuckles again, enjoying how his eyes widen right on cue. She seems far less impresed by Loki's reveal.

"Mmmhmm… I'll show you mine when you show me yours. And the name is S'Ass. Short for S'Assmastah. And I'm so fucking famous, Ray, I am totally In Famous," Darcy says ready to reach out to grab Loki by the tie and yank him toward her if he doesn't stop and turn around to avoid walking backwards straight into Kefi's front door.

So very generous is Loki that he absolutely does not dispute the Darcy Maneuver involving falling on her ass. His brows lift just a little bit at the rest of her claim though, head tilting. "I suppose I'll allow it," he ultimately decides about her roller skating dominion, as if he were the authority to grant such permission. At least he says it with such casual confidence he might as well be.

Still, when Darcy talks about her secret identity and lays out her conditions, the man named Rey for today just scoffs easily, a grin exposing pearly white teeth. "Well then, S'ass. I look forward to hearing all about your exploits. As for me… I don't think there's much to show. Terribly tragic, I know." He taps a hand against his chest. "But the second I think of something fun to show, believe me, you will be the first to know—"

And this is when Darcy yanks him. He blinks; he could resist, but that would ruin everything. And where would the fun in that be? The roller derby vigilante and/or SHIELD agent and/or infamous S'assmastah will feel a brief moment of heavy weight at the other end of that tie before Loki gives in, toppling towards her and making sure to stop himself just short of bowling her over. Hands come up to her shoulders in a strong grip as they pause, just a foot at most from that front door.

"Saving me from embarassment yet again," he remarks, with a lopsided smile of his own as those vivid green eyes sweep back up to Darcy. "Looks like I'm building up quite a debt with you."

Darcy is listening to all of this from Loki with a grin, nodding at his promise to show her something interesting with the very obvious expression that she not at all expecting him to be able to show her anything at all and that is completely okay by here. There is no judgement in her eyes whatsoever.

The slightly heavy weight was not expected and so Darcy stumbles back a half step, help steady by Loki's firm grip.


Brushing it off, Darcy smiles again, taking a moment to readjust Loki's tie for him, patting it smooth and in order, and then she is moving to collect his arm to turn him forward facing. This as she reaches for the door with her other hand.

"That you are. However will you pay it off with me?" she quips, green eyes dancing again.

Weird indeed. But certainly not something worth worrying about, right? Loki even helps with an easy laugh that is so very, very normal as she adjusts his tie for him. Certainly a laugh belonging to Ray, whose main talent is being so sharply dressed.

Once he's sure Darcy is stable, though, the black-haired young man pulls back; he has every intention of pivoting on his heel to get the door, before he feels Darcy's arm on his. Blinking, he lets himself be led for the moment, turning about face before looping his arm into hers with practiced ease.

"And making sure my tie looks nice, too. Thoughtful to a fault," he praises easily, offering a little 'thank you' to his companion as he steps forward. A little grin, and he ushers them both in.

"Oh, I'll have to think of something truly appropriate," he assures, voice so very light as he looks her way. "Perhaps I'll just put myself at your tender mercies. Hmmm. But am I brave enough to handle that—?"

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