October 07, 2017:

A few days after their return from Wakanda, Bucky and Jane finally reach out to those who were part of bringing them home. Special Iron Man and Spider-Man cameos.

Brooklyn, New York


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It's been a short while since everyone finally came back from Wakanda. Maybe a week. People made their way back in their own various ways; Bucky and Jane, they made their way back alone. Not because they didn't want to see anyone, but because Jane was moderately concerned — with good cause — that Bucky might accidentally knife someone if suddenly startled. A month in the Wakandan brush fighting for his life made him more than a little twitchy — more than a little settled back into Winter Soldier. He needed time to calm back down and shed survival mode before human interaction.

With time, he'e slowly remembered James Barnes, and put away the Winter Soldier again. The nightmares have resumed their usual tenor, instead of being about hot jungles filled with fangs. Eventually he remembered gratitude was due.

He and Jane were both exhausted, however, and not predisposed to go outside. So they simply put out the word for people to come over to their place. Some invitations were a little more subtle than others — Matt Murdock, for the trial, instead of Daredevil for the heat of Wakanda, for example — but one by one, they went out.

Then Jane and Bucky ordered in a lot of alcohol and food, because as Bucky bluntly put it, he was probably going to need a barrel to even get buzzed. He's being sparing with the Asgardian mead.

It's an unseasonably warm evening for October, and the residence is nicely lit — finally, there is no more need for secrecy. For now. Bucky is answering the door, because he's still paranoid anyway, and probably the first thing anyone will notice about him is the fact that his left arm is gone: sheared neatly off through the middle of the star. What's left has been filed smooth and capped, up until such time there is a replacement.

The first thing Bucky will probably notice is whether people get capes spawned on them, because Constantine, and profusely apologize to anyone who gets caught.

Withdrawing from the world after all that crazy bullshit certainly made sense to one Jessica Jones. As did the two of them flying home on their own.

Her first choice for getting home would have been asking either of the wizards for a portal, an awesome thing that meant she did not have to get into a big metal death trap. Her second choice, if the wizards were not game or available, was basically to take some outstanding pain killers May gave her and to take as many as it took to sleep through said flight. Either way, she got home, where she immediately took on two new clients with cases that seem relaxing and easy when compared to the journey into Wakanda.

But when she got the call she was certainly happy to accept the invitation. She comes dressed in jeans, a green tank top and her leather jacket. The Great Ward of Capes does not trigger when she knocks, or when she crosses the threshhold, so Bucky is spared the apology to her, at least.

She flashes a smile and says, "Hey guys. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to bring food or not, like whether it was polite to bring food, or polite not to bring food, so I tried to make cookies but they turned into these yellow lumps of goo that then sort of bubbled up over the pan. The end result was some sort of um, burned swamp monster-looking goo thing— you know. Basically nailing it. It kind of became a moot point, cause I knew just bringing a package of Oreos was probably not too cool, and I knew sparing you guys the sight or smell of that frickin' thing was definitely the right thing to do, and so anyway here I am, hi!"

Fun fact, no matter how much she adores everyone she expects to see at this gathering, Jessica is not in her native habitat when the order of business is to hang out, relax, shoot the shit. Sure, she did the one thing with the movies, but see, there were movies to do the talking about not-case-things for her, mostly, and everyone had brought food, but she hadn't billed it as an event where they'd be given food, thus her confusion regarding the basic courtesies on the great Food vs. Not Food debate.

It is probable those cookies would not have been anything like edible had she actually managed to pull something off the pan that looked like something worthy of being brought over, so all and sundry have dodged a bullet these days.

The two Carters arrive at the same time. It took her some convincing to make her brother come and she didn't trust him to not just ghost if she didn't accompany him. Peggy, on the otherhand, is certainly not unwilling. However, knowledge that this visit might force a cape on her and her brother might have colored her opinions on arriving. Her own contribution is booze: a bottle of bourbon.

Luckily, they both step into the apartment without any sort of cape appearing on their backs and - in fact - has no idea the danger she might have encountered had fate not been in their favor. Not to mention the fact that she's pretty sure her brother would kill her had that happened. Even if it might have been worth it. She quickly pours them both a drink.

For Michael, this whole thing is not unlike an office Christmas party. Not that he's been to many of those, but he has been to the occasional stilted MI-6.5 mixer. Imagine a room full of very British people who serve Queen and Country and who deal with life and death situations on the regular. People who are incredibly stiff until they've got a few in them. Well, except him of course. The supersoldier serum might not have worked properly on him in many ways, but he did get the alcohol tolerance.
He comes bearing gifts as well, though his is in the form of a box of donuts from Brooklyn. It seemed appropriate. He finds a place to set them down, because he's not the kind of person who needs his contributions acknowledged. He's wearing a soft blue suit, but no tie. He's just happy to not be sweating profusely at the slightest movement. He leans in towards his sister. "What's polite? Thirty minutes? Sixty?" Before he can disappear. It's not that he's antisocial so much as American parties tend to be so…expressive.

Weirdly enough, one of the more disreputable and least stiff attendees this evening isn't going to be an American — it's a Brit. He's not posh, however, whatever his button-down shirt, slacks, and (loose, nooselike) tie may suggest. When John arrives it's with the confidence of a person who knows precisely what sort of consequences there are for visitors to this particular appartment — and that he's not vulnerable to them. At least, none of the consequences he's personally responsible for.

What he brings will be immediately identifiable to both of the apartment's permanent residents, as the items stacked in his arms have visited on multiple occasions: tupperware containers with offerings in them from Chas, who must be back from his lengthy return to London.

He had been in Wakanda, or so Jessica Jones must have confirmed, though after that initial meeting he disappeared again. It's a thing that he does. Someone else might have a sheepish look, at least, for the host — but the reason must have been good, whatever it was, because he doesn't look especially apologetic. That's John, for you. "Sends his regards," he says, as soon as the door opens. Meaning Chas, one assumes. "Said he'd have swung by to deliver these himself, but he's — well, it's a long story. Good to see you, mate. You're not half as mosquito-bit as I expected."

Did someone say 'expressive'?

Why yes. Yes they did.

As if summoned by the thoughts of one of hte Carter siblings the patron saint of 'expressive', the crown prince of loud, the lord of shiny, arrives.

That would of course be Tony Stark.

He's not entirely dressed up for the occasion. T-shirt. Jeans. Lether jacket. On the surface its very smiliar to what Jessica would wear. Of course Tony's t-shirts are custom printed, prolly using wool of his own personal alpaca herd, and those jeans arn't off the rack. The jacket is defintally custom work, and the shades he is wearing likely cost more than most supercars with all the electronics packed into them.

All of this of course pales in comparison to his winning personality.

So in he walks. Grin brightening up the room and before he can say anything, before the door even can close behind him, a long cape of white unfurls from his shoulders. Across the back of the Sudden Cape(tm pending by Constentine) there begins to scrawl as a speed a master typist would sell their soul for, what looks like the worlds longest run on sentence.

Just words. No breaks. Occasional ASCI pictures, the first one is a slightly animated GIF of Constantine's head exploding, in ASCI, as Stark realises just what happened.

Ah well. Just go with it.

"So everyones home! No body is dead! …where are my suvioners?"

While Jane Foster usually possesses enough social acumen to provide hostess duties, and seems recovered well enough from the past many months to continue that —

— something about it still seems off. A bit hitched, a bit forced, probably a woman — forced into a life of constant war and danger — trying to remember how things can be so /quiet/ again.

Dressed down in her usual jeans and flannel shirt, she's quiet too, though by no means withdrawn; Jane puts energy into keeping herself off the wings of the growing gathering, and putting the work into making this /an actually nice, relaxing night./

"Jess," she says in mild, but sincere greeting, and the sordid tale of cookies a la Jones tugs a genuine smile to her mouth. "All good. We ordered Chinese. Italian. Burgers too. I think pizza? Eat it before James does, seriously."

She means that.

Peggy's arrival with her brother earns a familiar wave from tiny Jane, milling about, looking a lot thinner than last seen, though probably trying to fix that with the beer she nurses in hand. She does know her manners, however, to approach Michael with a small-voiced, because the ex-physicist nerd is still new at the meeting strangers thing, "I don't think we've met." She offers a hand. "I'm Jane."

It's John, in the end, Jane's the most reserved with. She gives him a wan smile when she sees him, but can't seem to meet his eyes. He'll know why: he'll smell magic all over her.

But then there's Tony, here — in /another/ cape. Jane casts a glance at Bucky, because he better not be missing this.

It might help Jessica with her sense of ease that Bucky basically cuts off her rambling by pulling her into a brief one-armed hug. It is extremely uncharacteristic for him, or at least for him as he is now — he certainly didn't mind in his youth — but well… after the kind of ordeal everyone just went through? People can do with a little bit of uncharacteristic.

"It's fine," he says, with his usual brevity, and that's much more familiar — as is the dry half-smile he quirks at her as he retreats back to a more customary distance. "There's enough kinds of pizza for everybody."

He turns to the Carters afterwards. They'll have to put down their offerings, which Michael promptly does: Bucky only has one hand to his name. "Peggy," he greets first, leaning in to drop her one of those barely-there air kisses. "Mr. Carter." Michael, fortunately, only has to deal with a handshake. "Glad you both got out in one piece. Wakandan intelligence's notoriously opaque and follows no conventions any of us are familiar with."

Though there is a shadow of tiredness and strain to his eyes still, he comports himself with surprising fluency as a host. Peggy might be the only one not surprised, as one of the few people who knew the Bucky before the Winter Soldier, who was more than up on his social graces.

As for John? The brief light that flares in his eyes is half for Constantine and half for what the British mage is holding. "Chas knows exactly how to welcome someone back," he says. "I've been fighting months to get back to this cooking. Let's have this put down back in the kitchen before other people get to it."

He claps his remaining hand to John's shoulder. "Not mosquito-bit," he says, "but bit by every god damn other thing else. Crocodiles, panthers, Wakandan royalty — " Is he joking?

And then — Tony. A gloriously caped Tony. Bucky tries not to laugh, and mostly succeeds, thank God. Up until he crosses Jane's eye — then his mouth curves inevitably in a grin. "I had to give up my panther skin at customs, Stark," he says wryly, "or else it would've been yours."

"Biters, are they." Meaning 'Wakandan royalty.' Obviously, crocodiles and panthers are biters. John only rocks forward a little bit when Bucky claps him on the back, and he's easily maneuvered toward the kitchen. "What is it with nobs and biting? The Queen's shite sons are like that as well. It's like they're trying to exercise into existence the chins they hemhorraged out of their bloodlines over centuries of cousin-shagging. You put a crown on something and suddenly it-"

He stops mid-sentence, and mid-stride. What it is that gives him pause isn't immediately clear, particularly since Jane, avoiding looking directly at him, may entirely miss the way his gaze slants unerringly in her direction, watching her out of the very corner of his eye. It's just as easy to put it down to Stark's entrance, anyway: he hears that expansive, loud, shiny, loud voice erupt near the door and rolls his eyes ceilingward, continuing his trajectory toward the kitchen to stash food meant strictly for the residents. "And then there are the people who need repeat invitations to bite your arse, for whom the message never does seem to properly sink in," he says to no one in particular, just before disappearing into said kitchen.

Michael has one up on most people at parties in that his ocular implant scans faces and matches them against dossiers. Jane's pops up just as she's introducing herself. "Ah, yes. Doctor Jane Foster. I've attempted to read your papers once or twice. I thought I was relatively intelligent but I'm afraid I found myself lost after the thesis statement. Michael Carter, for the formality of it all. Pleasure," he offers his hand to shake.
And then there's the other half of the hosting party, minus a limb, he notes. He reaches out to shake Bucky's hand in a way that for him, is more friendly than formal. It's difficult to tell the nuances, admittedly. "Mr. Barnes. Congratulations. I hear you're free and clear. Though, perhaps one wouldn't call what you've endured 'free'. Certainly, it came at a great cost. As enlightening as Wakanda was, I am quite happy to be away from the blasted heat. Though I will say that the US could certainly do better on its air quality."
He, like the others, is distracted by Tony's entrance. The dossier pops up for him, but obviously, it isn't needed. His reaction is extreme coming from a man of tight restraint. It merits some expressive eyebrow arching action.

When Azalea Kingston breezes in behind John, it's almost like she was stalking his shadow. But it's purely coincidence, and if the air seems to want to snap and waver at her neck for a moment, it becomes clear that she isn't going to inherit Batman's cape and cowl tonight. Instead she is spared John's cape-curse, leaving her dressed in a not unusual way for the girl back before she was locked away in a cage. Boots, with black, many-pocketed pants tucked in, and a grey T-Shirt with Iron Man's helmet prominent, front and center of her chest. In black marker, Az has made her own modification: 'Behold the Sun God'.

Don't think for a moment that the shirt was made for Tony's benefit

Azalea stops as Tony breezes in, reaching out to take hold of his cape for a brief moment, just so that she might read the sprawl that's cascading across that surface. It flutters from her fingertips, but Tony might feel the brief pull, her way of saying hello, before she raises a hand to those she knows and those she may not, finally reaching over and into John's personal space to relieve him of some of those containers, intent on helping him ferry them off to the kitchen.

It'll give John a great view of her shirt before she vanishes with that food.

It won't be until she's dropped off those wares that she stops long enough to take in the sight of Bucky and Jane, crystal blue cutting across open space to as much look through them as at them. Then, she's there, a hand at Bucky's back, once he's done greeting the others, her hug coming in a slow wrap of her arms and a firm squeeze.

"Welcome home."

That hug does cut her rambling right off. It shocks one Jessica Jones, but she gives Bucky Barnes a hearty hug back. She grins, both shocked and pleased, at this event that has never happened to her, as far as she knows, ever, but which is quite welcome. The bright grin she gives him is pretty much exactly as unusual, and says just about anything she'd want to say. Once he's off to greet other people she heeds Jane's warning by snagging herself a burger right off the bat, giving her a quick grin as well.

Once that's done, she wanders over to John whenever he makes it out of the kitchen, digs something out of her inner jacket pocket and offers it to him. It's a pack of the cloves he smokes. "Here you go. See there? You share, I pay back with interest."

She does do a double-take at the image of T'Challa biting him.

The cape pops onto Tony's back and she does another double take. And checks her own back. Cape free? Yes. Cape free. Good.

Bucky Barnes' lawyer arrives late, eschewing the iconic buttoned-up fare from the Winter Soldier Trial and the devil suit (utterly ruined, desecrated by laser-panthers) for something more casual: a gray chambray shirt with rolled-up sleeves and a dark, dressy pair of jeans. There are shadowed half-moons under his eyes — he came back from Africa last of all of them and is still jet-lagged — but the crimson lenses of his sunglasses obscure most of it. He carries a six-pack of some subtle, Belgian brew in offering, and with it wry half-smile for the man who eventually greets him.

He also suffers the curse of the cape, with the worst possible optics: a blind man, who spent more time freeing Bucky Barnes than just about anyone else, suddenly hazed with the nearly-naked image of his best friend and law-partner Foggy Nelson on his back, speedoed and grinning and with two-thumbs stuck up. It's a good thing the paparazzi aren't around — there's a two-thousand word thinkpiece just waiting to be written about the various intersections of it all.

Matt, for all that his blindness is mitigated, complicated, can't really look behind himself — he can only feel the sudden weight on his shoulders and furrow his slightly-bushy brows. "Hey, James," he says wryly, warmly as he extends his free hand. "Glad to have you back." That is, before he leans in to ask, "What am I wearing?"

That brief but very /real/ hug that Bucky extends to Jessica — it softens the corners of Jane's eyes. To see him do something like that seems to loosen one of the countless knots noosing up her tiny shoulders.

With her attention firmly on the very posh Michael Carter, whose accent and manner is so British it leaves her feeling all the more painfully American — he really is Peggy's brother — the scientist colours a little in the face at all the formality. "It's just Jane," she answers feebly, with a helpless shrug that's not as much humble as it is just awkward. Oh god, attention, the bane of all solitary nerds. "And — it's just a thesis. I mean. If there's a part where you got stuck, I could explain — I have a whiteboard. No." Don't mention the whiteboard. "No, I don't. Not here." It's definitely here. "I'm rambling. Help yourself to food."

Jane doesn't miss that look John slants her. She pretends she does, and not very well, but it's hard to miss something that feels like a brick wall falling on her. She sees him disappear into the kitchen, considers going after, then absolutely chickens out and refills her own beer. There's not much room to go in her tiny apartment, its main room little more than a couple couches and the coffee table repurposed into a grand buffet of food. She finds a place to mill, only glancing over in time to recognize Azalea's arrival, passing the woman a gentle, searching look — which /derails off the tracks/ at Matt Murdock AND THAT CAPE. She covers her mouth with a hand. Oh no.

"Thanks," Bucky says, to Michael's congratulations. "I'm pretty damned glad to be out of the heat too. In more ways than one. It's time to start making good use of the second chance."

Biters, are they? John inquires. Bucky grimaces. "I might've bitten him back a time or two myself," he says. "It was anything goes out there. Though you know, if T'Challa had a problem it was most definitely not a weak chin — "

He pauses when John pauses, and his gaze follows the other man's over towards… ah. Bucky passes Jane a glance, a sympathetic but stern look that says 'you're on your own because I empathize and I love you and I know you did it for me, but really stop shooting up magic and I'm going to let John chew you out if it'll get you to stop. Then he passes John a look too, a sort of 'please help me out with that,' look, before he leaves the man to stash his burden.

He turns back towards the main room. In the time since he stopped paying attention, another has arrived. He feels the hand on his back first, and it's much-needed as a warning, because he stiffens in that fight-or-flight response that plainly says Azalea might have gotten karate-chopped if she didn't warn him.

He registers who she is, a moment later, relaxing into her greeting. He turns to her afterwards. "Hey stranger," he says. "Heard you got your own shit sorted, finally."

Matt's arrival carries with it… a dilemma. Bucky takes one look, blanches, looks at Jane in panic, and then looks back at Matt. Taking the lawyer's extended hand in a shake, he tries desperately to think of what to say. "I… would stand with your back to a wall for the next fifteen minutes," he says. "We had a mage put a warding hex on the place, but he was in a pissy mood at the time, and we haven't gotten him to take the hex back off, and we forgot about it, and — "

Bucky grimaces. "It's harmless but not… great…"

To Michael, Peggy gives a grin. "You've been good in coming, I'd say sixty is polite. Though, perhaps you might actually enjoy yourself and stay longer. They are friendly and enjoyable people." Almost immediately, Tony's entrance makes sure that Michael will see the double edged sword that is that truth. She imagines the cape to be simply something Tony would wear until Matthew Murdock arrives sporting one himself.

Peggy sets the bottle down to accept Bucky's hand. Her eyes immediately go to the missing limb before they move to his face. There is little to say in that matter, so she instead gives him a bit of a smile at the air kiss. "It's good to see you back as a free man. It's been awhile."

Jane's approach is met with a nod toward the doctor, though she takes in the thinness with a tilt of her head and worry. "It's good to see you, Jane." Leaning forward, she raises an eyebrow. "I didn't realize lawyers went so much for the dramatic."

It's unclear whether or not John reads the glance from Bucky, given nothing really changes about his expression, or his current objectives. He does eventually emerge from the kitchen, and when Jessica corners him he glances her way with one arched brow — a look that remains after she hands him that pack of cigarettes, though in the end he lifts them in a little salute and makes them disappear. "Ta. Looking better, Jones." He pauses, and from somewhere manages to scrape together enough compassion to look momentarily sympathetic, reaching out to clasp her shoulder for a moment. "Was sorry to hear about Rizza. 'tanna told me after the fact."

In spite of that gesture — genuine though it is — he's still not the type to linger on things that involve Feelings, and probably never will be. It's probably no surprise when he changes the subject to something else, having spotted another familiar face near the door: "Everything seem to be alright with Kingston?"

He's not even looking at Jane. Obviously, he's still got enough manners to prevent causing a scene at a celebratory gathering.

…or he's decided that he wants to let her marinate in her own apprehension first, to ensure maximum flavor during the inevitable roasting alive.

Probably that.

"Ah, thank you. And thank you for having me." says Michael politely to Jane with a little nod of his head. He's suddenly very glad there's no whiteboard in view, even if he would be genuinely interested in learning some more about her fields of study. A house party is not the place for it. And besides, he gets a strong feeling that they think in very different ways. For instance, he knows exactly where all the exits are and who here would pose the biggest threat if they suddenly all turned on each other, Battle Royale style.
He leans in towards Peggy, then looks pointedly to the two with capes, then looks back to her with a grin that for a moment, almost looks mirthful. "You know I would have left immediately if that had happened to me, right?" Proper British dignity would not abide that.

It's harmless, but not… great…, or so Bucky Barnes tells Matt Murdock about the cape behind him. The man himself has no way of verifying. But from his experience? Being assured something is harmless usually means it's bad enough to be misread as something with the potential to do harm. Matt smiles slightly, gamely, and his shoulders shrug upward with the force of a chuckle. "Guess you better get me a drink then," the lawyer says dryly, though not unkindly, before he switches the hand he clasps for the hand that carries the six-pack of beer.

Then, a few steps further into the room he's familiar with, he turns his back towards the wall and waits for the timer to stop and that subtle burden to lift off the back that's turned towards the wall.

When Bucky comments on Azalea's condition, something in her disposition slips, if only a little. But it's clear she isn't the creature she was before, filled with a manic desperation, or urges that could not be contained. Now, it seems, she is in control and it brims at the corners of her eyes as something older and wiser than she should be looks back at Bucky, the person she tried to save so she might in turn save herself.

"I had to die first. But it's okay, John kissed it and made it better." She smirks and then gives Bucky another strong pat on the back, stepping away to let other well wishers in lest they pile up in line for Bucky-Hugs. "We'll catch up later. I think I'm going to go get a dri-"

That's when she sees it. Once upon a time, seeing that cape on Murdock's back would in fact bring the party to a cold stop with a mad cackle, followed by some comment about Foggy's package. If there's any doubt about her recovery, or that some part of her still yet remains, she confirms it by First: Containing herself and Second: Taking out her phone to snap a picture as she lets Matt in for the greeting.

And just like that, her phone has a new wallpaper.

That done, she wiggles her fingers at Peggy in a greeting, and proceeds on her original mission to get something to drink. Along the way she'll pass John again. Jessica will have to suffer the interruption, and John will have to suffer the hug that will, in fact, lift him bodily into the air. It may not answer his question is everything is alright with her, but she certainly seems better.

Azalea should be, now that she's around the closest thing she has to family.

I had to die first, Azalea says. Bucky's own expression passes through a shadow. "I know exactly how that is," he says, and lets her go.

There are other things to attend — like poor Matt Murdock, oppressed by cape. Bucky does, in fact, fetch Matt a drink. It's a pour of the bourbon Peggy brought. He pours himself a highball glass full of the stuff, because that's about what 'a shot' is to him now, and returns to hand Matt his measure of the alcohol.

"Let's just say — " he tries again, "it's, you know. Foggy. Except not in a — well — just don't put your back to the middle of the room, for his dignity."

He speaks almost as if Matt were not a blind man. Bucky knows the truth of how close Murdock can operate to being sighted, of course. "How's business been since the end of the trial?" No mention of Wakanda.

Jessica takes that shoulder clasp from John and some of the deep guilt sadness she's still feeling does cross over her face, though she shoves it all right back. She's not about to dampen the mood, so she says, "Thanks, man," and seems as eager to get off that subject here and now as he is.

She glances at Bucky and another quick half smile passes over her face, a reminder that this is a happy occasion. She takes a bite of her burger and chews it after that question about Az, trying to decide what to say. She saw her the once, just after they left breakfast together, and they haven't been in the same room together until just now, since. As best as she can tell, Az hasn't returned to Alias Investigations since attaining her newly won freedom.

So she settles on this, sotto voice, "So far so good, as best as I can tell."

She does step to his side and out of the way so John can continue moving and mingling if he wants, cornering him hadn't exactly been her intention, just giving him the cloves. And then Matt is sweeping by to get his drink with the cape; Azalea snaps a picture and that tells her everything she needs to know about Not Wanting to Know what's on it. "Hey, Matt," she greets, but only after he's gotten his stab at maintaining his dignity and Foggy's by finding a patch of wall to prop himself up against, and is all settled with his drink.

Az bear hugs John and she chuckles. "Hey, Az," she adds. She steps over to the Carters, adding, "Hey guys. You feeling better, Michael?"

Peggy nods to Michael. "Yes, I definitely get that. Though, honestly, if it stays on no matter what for fifteen minutes, it might have been better just to stay. Otherwise I would certainly have gotten pictures of you in a cape on the street." There's a smirk and Peggy gets herself a drink, taking a swig from it immediately.

The greeting from Az is met with a smile and a nod as she studies the others in the room and realizes that she knows all of them at least tangentially if not more than that. Her attention is drawn to Jessica as she approaches and she smiles. "Hey Jess. How are you?" The question is a bit softer, knowing some of what the other woman dealt with at the end of the entire Wakandan investigation.

Michael has rather pointedly not helped himself to food. Perhaps it's so he can more politely sidle out, or perhaps he's simply not hungry. He does find himself a drink, though, because being emptyhanded at a house party just feels a bit awkward. "Hello Jessica. Yes, better, better. Thankfully, I was on the upswing before the wretchedly long flight." With a stopover in London, notably. He gives his sister A Look for that comment. "Honestly. You'd think a gathering such as this would be about the return to dignity, not…naked men on capes." Despite the supposed outrage in his voice, he seems to be barely containing laughter.

Bucky brings a back-walled Matt Murdock some of Peggy Carter's bourbon in a glass, which he accepts with a grateful smile and a puff of a chuckle. "Yeah, sure, I'll take the strong stuff," the lawyer says with a roll of one shoulder. "As long as there's a Lyft for me at the end of the night." Then Bucky is telling him roughly what's been pinned to his back. His chin dips, and he manages a short, quiet burst of a laugh. "Good thing he didn't come," Matt echoes wryly, of Foggy, through a party-ready veneer of good humor. If anyone could see the world the way he does, they'd hear his pulse thrum with something like quiet anger — though not at the host currently talking him up.

Bucky asks him how business is since the end of the trial. Matt takes another sip from his drink, as he thinks through the sliver of what he's seen and heard — Foggy has handled the brunt of it, given all their givens. "It's been interesting," is what Murdock offers with another little shrug. "Active, obviously." The latter said with dry humor — a muted admission at all the interest their win had drawn to the tiny, upstart firm. "Lots of intake meetings that are mostly about — you know. Separating wheat from chaff."

And then Matt hears a voice he knows, and likes, and adds a warm, wry: "Hey, Jess. How's it going in your neck of the woods?" By which he means three blocks over.

"Peggy," Jane replies her greeting fondly, with a gentle smile that seems to very much want to allay all that worry. "It's so good to see you. I never got to tell you thank-you directly. You as well, Michael," the scientist adds, extending a quick glance to the second of the Carter Family.

But she doesn't say any more on that, because she's exhausted enough to get maudlin, and well — don't want to get too American with the Brits. "Drink and eat up, though, I think we got too much food," Jane says again, because she's sure saying that a lot. It's easy to give others the advice she sure isn't taking. Her dark eyes crinkle with amusement at their corners to Peggy's commend regarding Matt.

"Only the good ones are dramatic," she says, with audible fondness. "And he's the best."

Otherwise, Jane seems to occupy herself with rigourous and unnecessary arranging and rearranging of the platters of food and drinks; at Bucky's glance of many unspoken things, she gives him an impatient look that pretends misunderstanding, and she definitely marinates in apprehension like an overdone, anxiety-glazed ninety-pound ham.

Eventually, she situates herself on the arm of her own couch, drink held against her knees. Jane seems quiet, but otherwise content to watch.

Jessica's quiet answer gets a satisfied nod from John, but anything he might have said in addition is lost in favor of a "What in the bloody-?" as he's not just hugged, but lifted up off of the ground, a development that puts thunderclouds in his expression. Unlike the Carters, the Liverpudlian tends to sound anything but buttoned-up most of the time, but he still manages to sound delicately offended in that very English way as he adds, "Christsake, Kingston." He watches Jessica slip away, off toward said Carters, and shoots her back a flat look, as though blaming her in some way for what's happening. Which, being realistic about John and the kind of person he is, he probably is.

"Put me down, luv. And go wash your hands, you don't know where I've been." It's only mostly a joke.

Bucky grins as Matt says sure, he'll take the strong stuff, though a bit of polite incomprehension enters his gaze at the quip about the Lyft. "What?" he says. "Is that like an Uper? Did something edge out the Ufer already?" There's a pause. "Uter? I only just got caught up on what that was…"

Shaking his head, he drains his bourbon morosely. "Whatever it is, we'll call you one. I'll make Jane do it." Jane, who is pretending not to get what his meaningful staring is all about. He sees you there, Jane. "Good to hear business is going well. Though I expect you'll be as selective as ever with what you pick up."

There's a wealth that goes unsaid aloud in that statement.

He politely steps back when Matt turns his attention to Jessica. Sensing someone quiet, he moves to Jane, taking a seat on the couch beside her and leaning against her side.

"I'm good," Jessica assures Peggy. "Good food, good company, no complaints."

And then there's Michael, and she flashes another smile. "What's this? Are you laughing? Michael, I didn't know you were capable! Peggy, did you know he was capable?" Yep, she's just totally going to yank his chain, just a little bit. She finishes the hamburger. She takes a look at the booze— she does— as she tries not to smile over Bucky's fumbling over Uber, but she opts to head back over to the food table and snag a slice of pizza instead, and answers Matt warmly: "My neck of the woods is good. Came home, picked up a couple new cases."Because why come home and take a day off when she can load up her agenda with a whole lot of brand new trouble?

She looks up to find John glowering at her, and she simply shrugs at him and smirk. She does not accept this fault! Or has no repentence, or both.

Probably both.

She glances over at Jane, settling down so quietly, and she smiles at her, but lets her have her moment of quiet.

May arrives to this party late, likely because she got the invitation right after returning to base. Plus side, she's got some down time and thus was able to stop by. Minus side, she JUST got back from a mission and is tired and quite possibly a little bit grumpy. She can't really tell, though, as she's focused on getting here and not really bothering to notice if people are clearing out of her way or not.

Approaching nearly silently, she stops near Jessica and says in her usual Vulcan-esque quiet tone, "Nice party."

"I am not laughing, Jones. I may be smiling, but I'm not laughing." But Michael doesn't do that much either, so, progress? Or perhaps there's some things that even get through his right proper facade. From in his coat, his phone vibrates. He pulls it out and frowns. One might be forgiven for thinking this is a built-in excuse, but, "I'm afraid I have to be off. Duty calls. I might be able to make it back, but if it means walking through that door again might make me risk a cape…" He eyes the door, then looks back to Peggy. He reaches out and squeezes her wrist gently. Then, "Make my apologies to the hosts, will you?" Jess gets a little grin, then the spy is making his way towards the exit.

Jane's reassuring smile is met with a nod. For a party, Peggy will take that at face value. "Of course," she says to the thank you. "I would say 'any time' but I can only hope that was a one time sort of thing." She has little desire to find herself in a Wakandan prison again any time soon. As she drifts to the couch, she does not follow, much like Jess and allowing the woman her space and moment of quiet in a busy room.

Turning her attention fully to Jessica and her brother, she returns to the levity. "I would have thought your tours on the front would have cured of embarrassment of naked men in capes," Peggy tease her brother as she hears him barely keep back his laughter. "I knew he was able awhile ago. I thought perhaps he had aged out of it." Grinning, she confides - sotto voce - to Jessica. "One time, back in 38, I even heard him tell a joke. Of course, it was quite a dry one." That comes with the Britishness.

The appearance of May at Jessica's side is met with a nod of recognition and greeting. "Agent May." Any other formality or method of talk is shortened as her brother turns to leave, Peggy gives him a rueful smile and a nod at the line 'duty calls'. "Of course. I'll let them know."

May's arrival spurs Bucky to get up again; he crosses over to May and Jessica, with a nod for Jessica before he turns to the SHIELD agent. A handshake is offered. One does not simply… hug… Melinda May.

"Glad that you could make it, Agent," he says. The most immediately obvious thing about him, given that handshake, is the fact it's the only hand he has to offer — his left arm is gone just below the shoulder, the broken end covered with a cap. "I had heard you were able to take some time to assist Jessica and Peggy."

Out of the corner of his eye, he notes Michael's departure. It doesn't surprise him at all.

"It's — a car," Matt says of Bucky's Upers, Uters, Ufers and Lyfts. "We'll work it out."

Matt lifts his drink subtly towards Bucky as he backs away and engages the newly arrived Melinda May — right before turning his attention back to Jess. "No rest for the weary," the bespectacled lawyer says, wry and fond, as Jessica tells him she's already embroiled in a host of new cases. "Hey, just let me know if there's anything with an interesting angle on our end." 'Ours' presumably meaning Nelson and Murdock.

He takes a long sip from the rest of his drink, a hard swallow as the door shuts with Michael's departure — which happens to coincide with the fifteen-minute mark and the evaporation of his scandalous cape. Suddenly unencumbered, he draws in a breath that he didn't realize he'd been holding and steps forward towards the couch, a trajectory that carries him in the social orbit of a watchful Jane Foster.

Well, of course Azalea will put John down. She almost doesn't realize she lifted him up, and John can see it in her expression, something that hasn't been there in a very long time: Embarrassment. Her hands come to his shoulders, mostly to make sure he's alright, intact, but when John mentions where he may or may not have been she pauses. Her brows lift.

She pulls a hand back to sniff at it.

One eye seems larger than another for a moment, and her mouth crinkles around the edges in something brimming with horrible familiarity. Oh god. Finally it dissolves into a little smile. "Just good to see you, Constantine."

Of course she will take his advice, and so she does indeed go to wash her hands, lingering in the kitchen for a bit. Staring off into space, or through a window if there is one, epiphany striking her like lightning as she makes the slow turn back towards the room. Finally she pushes away from the sink and heads back into the room proper, scanning it until her eyes settle on Jane and the form of Bucky leaning in against her. When Bucky rises to go meet May, she swoops in and takes his empty seat, turning to face Jane with an almost conspiratorial demeanor.

"So.. Jane.." She lowers her voice a little, almost squinting as she leans in. "I have a little problem."

That is a bad way to start, but really, there's no other way to ease into this sort of thing. "I know this is out of left field. You've been through something the word 'ordeal' doesn't begin to describe, and I'm sure you're exhausted. But once you've had some rest, once things are a little more normal, I was wondering if you'd be interested in teaching a long lost alien civilization about science from the ground up, while in turn learning about their culture, their world, all that…"

Yep, no easy way to make that kind of request.

"Even if, you know.. it were just a very basic sort of thing.. otherwise…" She slowly looks over to where Tony Stark is, her brows lifting as she watches his cape swish and swagger in tune with the magnetic Iron Man's personality. "…he is going to have to do it all by himself. I'd.. I'd very much like them to survive their renaissance."

John's poker face is the stuff of legends, so when he manages to look like a man striving to preserve his cantankerous mood in the face of some small amusement — this, for the display Azalea puts on with her expression, upon sniffing her hand — it can only be a deliberate fissure in the facade. A little concession, for the young woman he last saw in the aftermath of a very strange astral adventure.

He dusts at the front of his coat as though being hoisted that way could dishevel him more than he intentionally dishevels himself, and then it's well past time for him to find and consume a drink. It's remarkable how quickly he can disappear even in a small crowd when he's of the mind.

Pulled out of her brief, pensive reverie — whatever thoughts trouble a consummate overthinker like Jane Foster — she pulls a glance on the sudden Bucky Barnes at her side.

He leans into her, and though she says nothing, she gentles immediately to the contact. She fusses briefly up at him, a hand at his jaw, leans in closer, has a sniff, and with amusement dark in her voice, says, "How much whiskey have you /had/."

At Agent May's arrival to her small brownstone apartment, Bucky gets back up to go be proper host, and Jane recognizes the woman well — lifting a hand into a brief but well-met wave of greeting — also a 'help yourself' to all the food and drink. Especially drink. Bucky is going to have it drained soon.

She catches Jessica's look and her expression softens, before her peripherals catch Matt's inevitable approach her way. Jane straightens herself up a bit, like someone trying to pick imaginary lint off their own soul to carry on human conversation —

— and then a sudden Azalea.

Taken wholly by surprise, Jane pops up her eyebrows, attention fully on the other woman, though the cursory welcome in her face — and the memory of smalltalk on her tongue — dissolves to that whopper Azalea has to say. It's not a proposal Jane is given often. It's actually not even one she's been even at all. Between the whole 'alien race' and 'teaching science', the physicist looks a little out of her depth. "I — what?"

A long time ago the near mania that consumed Azalea might make every word harder and harder to believe, but even when she seems unsure how to phrase something, there's an earnest quality to every word, and even she seems aware of how absurd it all sounds. "Yeah I know…" A breath escapes her, fluttering her hair away from one cheek, and then she reaches up to run her fingers through it. Oh where to begin.

"Well…" And then she, too notices Matt, incoming. She owes that man so very much, and not just for the cape he was wearing just a moment ago. She certainly owes him an apology. But not now.

"Right… you know, the minute I said it, I realized I'd probably need diagrams to explain this whole mess. We can talk another time." Somehow she still manages to give another nod and mouth 'alien civilization'. Then, her attention turns to Matt once more. "Hey.. ..Bucky's lawyer. Guy. How's it hanging?"

Jessica chuckles as Peggy explains about Michael's very dry one-time joke, and winks at her. In response to Matt's comment: "Who's weary? I was afraid there'd be nothing. As a matter of fact there are some things though," Jessica tells Matt, "so pencil me in would you?"

But she knows darn well if she keeps going down that road she's going to end up babbling about work. So she takes a bite of her pizza, lets Matt go, and there's May. She smirks and raises a hand in greeting to her, mouth full, just before Bucky greets her. This allows her to see Azalea's response to Constantine's complaint, which causes her to nearly snarf said pizza, just a little. But then she's launching in and it's vaguely confusing to her as well.

She, too, finds a place to settle in, claiming Michael's vacated spot over near Peggy.

Matt Murdock has doubtless heard just about everything there is to here on the matter of educating alien civilizations about the wonders of science. But most of his life is spent playing dumb, and he does so with aplomb here as he approaches the intersection of Azalea and Jane. He offers an affable smile at the greeting. "Hey," he says with an outstretch of the palm not carrying a more-than-half drunk bourbon. "Yeah, Matt Murdock. Don't think we've had the pleasure."

Of course, they have, and he knows it. The crimson lenses of his spectacles fairly-well glitter with the knowledge. But the slightly-stubbled countenance looks as though butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

May nods a hello back to Peggy, then shakes Bucky's hand when he approaches and greets her. "I'm glad also, Barnes. And I did, though not as much as I'd hoped for." There's no way she failed to notice his lack of a left arm, but she doesn't so much as bat an eyelash about it.

That cape on Stark, however, THAT gets the closest she will ever come to a doubletake. "I take it that it's not been a dull moment around here." She claims a cup of water, though she's contemplating snagging something to eat. The last thing she ate was hours ago and those power bars are just … disgusting.

"Are you finally getting a chance to settle in?"

Spider-Man was spying from afar but he got so super distracted thinking about ridiculous British superheroes like Captain Britain and John Constantine that he accidentally webbed himself into a ball and rolled away.

Like http://p.fod4.com/p/media/70ecdd689b/h9PntFOBR9e8cbrY3ciL_Spiderman%20Rollin.gif

Exactly like that.



Peggy does have a drink, which she takes another sip from as Bucky arrives and shakes May's hand. Doing her sisterly diligence, she offers to him, "Michael sent his apologies. He's not exactly a party person. He said he might be back, though I believe his winning of the cape roulette might keep him away for a little while. Much to my dismay. I was hoping to get a blackmail photo."

May's observation to Tony's cape is met with a smirk she cannot hide. "Apparently there is some form of hex on the doorway that gives people of a chance of a cape appearing. Though, with Tony, it's hard to tell if he arrived wearing it." That is certainly something he would do.

"Not nearly enough," is Bucky's fond remark to Jane's inquiry about how much whiskey he's had. "I've been without for months. Let me indulge a little." He waggles the glass in question, which is empty. "It takes a couple of these for me to feel anything, anyway."

Pushing her playfully off when she sniffs at him, he gets up to discharge host duties a moment later. Crossing the room to May, there is a polite wave-off of her remark that her assistance was not as much as she'd hoped — a non-verbal 'don't worry about it.' "Every bit counted, really. Wakanda is… not the easiest country to deal with." Understatement of the century, right there.

He indicates the alcohol, in a sense that he will get her whatever she might want; if she sticks to water, that will be taken in stride, though Bucky will pour himself another glass of whiskey. "Never a dull moment with any of these assholes around," he says, amused.

His expression dims a little when she inquires if he's finally getting a chance to settle. "Finally, yeah," he says. "Feels like I finished a marathon. There's business to see to — " A lift of his left shoulder indicates the most pressing, "and then back to work."

Peggy's explanation of where Michael went is met with a nod. "I don't blame him," he confesses. He doesn't say more aloud, but Peggy would know him well enough to recognize the strain around his eyes that says he is wearing a facade for the sake of others — a facade that used to be his true self, seventy-odd years ago — and that it will come down again once everyone has left, leaving behind someone exhausted and harrowed and raw.

Jess is, for her part, pretty well relaxed by now. She hops up for some more food, once again eyes the booze before deciding she won't, and then comes to sprawl next to Peggy. Its possible she's reached the end of her ability to make light, casual conversation. But she's happy to just sort of be around everyone, to absorb their conversations. Bucky's comment in particular about how there's never a dull moment around any of them draws a soft chuff of a genuine laugh from her.

It's good to be home. More than good to see the members of the Foster-Barnes household back home where they belong, without any axes hanging over their necks. She is not, like Constantine is, trying to fade into the background. She's just— enjoying it, being right there, and maybe consciously trying to avoid saying anything that might spoil the moment.

"Oh, I'm sure it was only a matter of time Mr. Murdock, as much trouble as I get into. Hopefully you give a discount for friends of friends. Azalea Kingston. I work with Jessica over at Alias." She'll take that hand and give it a firm shake even standing to make sure it's not so awkward, and though she had a hard time figuring out just the right way to ask Jane to help save a civilization from Tony Stark, the small talk seems easy enough.

"Everyone really appreciates what you did in that courtroom. Jessica told me a little bit about some of the other work you've done, too. When I think of 'lawyer' I don't immediately think of someone looking out for the little guy. But I read Trish's play by plays during the trial. It convinced me you're good people, and you've got someone in your corner over at Alias if you ever need anything. Like, you know. A refill, on that drink for starters? Jane, you want anything? I'm going to do some rounds, pretend I'm a waitress and see if Tony Stark is drunk enough to let me drive his car home. With him in it. Last part optional."

May wanders for a moment with her glass of water before making her way back to the food table and claiming a small plate of breaded and fried … something. Could be cheese, could be zucchini. She couldn't tell at a glance, though either would be fine.

She finally looks for a place to settle and… well, opts to just drop into sitting cross-legged on the floor. Because she can. She is, though, keeping half an eye on Bucky. He might be successfully putting on a friendly and outgoing facade, but she knows from personal experience how exhausting that can get.

Hm. Zucchini. Not bad.

"A lot of diagrams," Jane answers Azalea, her voice loosening from its confusion with a small, awkward laugh. "Definitely a lot of diagrams. I'm a little stacked with projects at the moment, namely, well —" she motions out Bucky Barnes across the room, looking slightly more lopsided than usual. "His arm being the first of them. But I'll hit you up? And I'll definitely have another drink."

She can barely comprehend it — teaching science to a what? She barely has the patience to teach advanced quantum mechanics to SHIELD R&D interns who are /supposedly/ Ivy League valedictorians, whenever she's asked to do outreach.

But as it is, Jane Foster sits there, looking strangely at peace with her apartment around her: full of people, good people, people who rose to the call and are all part of the reason Bucky Barnes is still alive. Here. And able to make her eyes roll again in good humour at his incessant draining of the world's supply of whiskey. She's not a speech person. She's actually REALLY not a speech person, but —

They deserve it. And she can try. "Hey, everyone?" calls up Jane, who colours immediately under any sort of attention she draws. Not used to this. Still, her brown eyes are sincere. "The reason why you're all here is, well, James and me, we want to say thank you. For everything. You've all been here for so much, and I know if I can make it back to each and every one of you… I don't know if I ever can, but I want to try. Thank you for being my friends. And, oh god, I'm going to stop speeching now, so please go back to drinking."

Bucky definitely goes back to drinking.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License