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This might be ... extremely long.

the one that was going to be long and plotty Clint/Natasha/Phil

Sometimes very smart people make very stupid decisions. It’s a fact of life, if an unpleasant one, and Phil’s had to resign himself to it.

His boss is frequently pretty intractable, though, and there’s nothing he can say at this particular juncture to convince Directory Fury that not only is neither of the agents in question anything except completely loyal, but that attempting to play them off each other is going to end really, exceptionally badly. Without anything better to do, at least until he escapes the planning meeting and Hill’s terrifyingly watchful stare—she probably suspects him of a thousand plans he hasn’t actually cooked up yet—Phil tightens his grip on the pen he’s holding under the table until his knuckles turn white and begins mentally updating his will.

At some point, he’ll need to start cooking up a contingency plan so that he can explain that Seriously, None of This Is My Fault Not Even A Little Bit and thus escape with his life.

But for now: blind panic, and the desperate hope that no one in the meeting can read his mind.

--

Security Classification: Bravo-4
Mission Protocols: Operation 2745-900034/Huntress

Huntress is a solo mission assigned to Agent Natasha Romanoff (codename: Black Widow). It is classified as Delta-3004: Deep Cover, subclassification Whiskey-Foxtrot-74, meaning that the agent should not break cover for any reason other than a direct command unless his or her life and the mission are both in direct jeopardy.

The primary directive of Huntress is to infiltrate and acquire intelligence about the organization run by suspected weapons smuggler Jordan Strobl, believed to be operating out of central Poland.

The supervising agent on this mission will be Phil Coulson.

This directive can be viewed only from a S.H.I.E.L.D.-secured connection. Deleting it on any terminal will delete all iterations of the message and any traces of its existence. For this reason, a single hard copy exists in Directory Fury’s personal files. Any creation of a second hard copy, except under direct orders or if doing so will protect the agent’s life and the mission, will be considered an act of treason and is punishable by United States civil and military law.

--

Security Classification: Bravo-2
Mission Protocols: Operation 2745-900572/Stormbase

Stormbase is a solo mission assigned to Agent Clint Barton (codename: Hawkeye). It is classified as Delta-3004: Deep Cover, subclassification Whiskey-Foxtrot-74, meaning that the agent should not break cover for any reason other than a direct command unless his or her life and the mission are both in direct jeopardy.

The primary directive of Stormbase is to infiltrate and acquire intelligent about the organization run by suspect weapons smuggler Daniel Peterson, believed to be operating out of southwest France.

The supervising agent on this mission will be Phil Coulson.

This directive can be viewed only from a S.H.I.E.L.D.-secured connection. Deleting it on any terminal will delete all iterations of the message and any traces of its existence. For this reason, a single hard copy exists in Directory Fury’s personal files. Any creation of a second hard copy, except under direct orders or if doing so will protect the agent’s life and the mission, will be considered an act of treason and is punishable by United States civil and military law.

--

The mission directives Phil gives Clint and Natasha are nearly identical; they will be carrying out very similar missions in separate environments.

The directive Fury gives him is markedly different.

--

Security Classification: Alpha-7
Mission Protocols: Operations 2745-900034/Huntress and 2745-900572/Stormbase

The secondary directive of Huntress and Stormbase is to ascertain the connection, if any, between the organizations of Jordan Strobl and Daniel Peterson.

The tertiary directive of Huntress and Stormbase is to ascertain the likelihood that either Agent Barton or Agent Romanoff is a covert operative for an organization with goals unlikely to align with those of S.H.I.E.L.D.

All other information remains as presented in the directives given to the agents themselves.

At present, the secondary and tertiary directives of Huntress and Stormbase are known only to Directory Fury, Agent Hill, and supervising agent Coulson. They will be revealed further on a strictly need-to-know basis.

This directive can be viewed only from a S.H.I.E.L.D.-secured connection. Deleting it on any terminal will delete all iterations of the message and any traces of its existence. For this reason, a single hard copy exists in Directory Fury’s personal files. Any creation of a second hard copy, except under direct orders or if doing so will protect the agent’s life and the mission, will be considered an act of treason and is punishable by United States civil and military law.

--

It is not at all an unusual thing to pit agents against each other in order to determine whether one of them is a mole, not for S.H.I.E.L.D. and not for any other intelligence organization in the world, but it is unusual for them to use two who normally work as partners. That level of trust—because despite living in a world of lies and misinformation, people cannot work together without trusting each other—throws a wrench into the affair.

Look, it’s just—Phil’s never been entirely sure how much of Clint and Natasha’s—er, Barton and Romanoff’s—relationship is on the up-and-up. Strictly speaking, they’re forbidden from any kind of romantic or sexual entanglement, but they’ve always been close and Phil just hasn’t been particularly inclined to ask questions. Unless it starts to interfere with their work, it’s none of his business.

He looks up from his desk, making sure there’s no one in the vicinity, and then rubs his eyes.

Just because he’s gotten basic information about the missions doesn’t mean he can just sit around and worry, unfortunately.


--


To his credit, he thinks, Clint doesn’t challenge the assignment until Directory Fury and Agent Hill are out of earshot.

Of course, he then does everything short of melodramatically shouting I’m a soldier, not a spy at his handler and sometimes friend.

“Look,” Phil—Agent Coulson?—tells him, in that obnoxiously calm (and calming) voice. “I know you don’t like undercover work and I know you especially hate deep cover, but you have the perfect background and skill set for infiltrating this particular organization. We’ve had incredibly bad luck getting anyone inside in the past—”

“Have you tried sending Natasha?” Clint asks, a little sharp.

“No, but Peterson has shown a—well, let’s just call it a tendency to mistrust women. His organization is especially deadly to them and Directory Fury believes the risk isn’t worth it. Additionally, he’s demonstrated a certain weakness for people with, well, shall I call them troubled backgrounds? Our preliminary intelligence hasn’t gotten us much beyond that.”

Clint scowls.

“We’re going to cook you up a cover identity that keeps most of your childhood but deviates at or shortly before you joined SHIELD.”

“Oh, fun. Everything I’ve ever wanted.” Phil looks apologetic and Clint might feel bad if he weren’t so very uninterested in reliving huge chunks of his childhood.

“None of this was my idea.”





Natasha knows that Coulson hates sending her on deep cover assignments. She’s known it for almost as long as he’s been her handler, because despite his semblance of unflappability, everyone has tells. The trick isn’t to try and mask them, because then you just get tells for thinking about your tells; the trick is to incorporate them into your behavior and learn to use them to your advantage. But the point is that Coulson has a tell—the set of his face changes, the skin around his eyes is always tighter and his mouth drawn to a thinner line when he sends her off on a deep cover assignment.

She, on the other hand, loves them. The autonomy, the isolation, the chance to become a new person, if only temporarily.

Clint hates them too, but he’s not going with her on this one so it’s kind of irrelevant.

“Tasha,” Coulson says, sliding into the seat across from her at the small table.

She grins at him, a little toothy, and he raises an eyebrow. “Agent Coulson.”

“I assume you’ve read your mission brief and are ready to start hashing out the details,” he says.

Natasha laughs. “If you have to ask, you’ve been spending too much time with Stark.”

“Don’t I know it,” he answers, pulling a folder out of his briefcase. “Here’s everything we have on





The first communication he gets from Natasha isn’t exactly what he would have wanted, in a perfect world. Of course, deep cover assignments rarely take place in a perfect world, which is a not insignificant part of the reason he hates them so much.

Natasha’s message, though, is a brief confirmation that she has successfully infiltrated the organization but that the other people seem very suspicious and she’ll have to keep future communications to a minimum.

If Phil didn’t know her as well as he does, he’d be sure that she was saying it just to get more autonomy; as much as it bothers him to be unable to literally be the voice in her ear on missions like this, she thrives with it. They’re really not a natural pairing, him and Natasha; he and Clint very much are, but she thrives on the missions designed to make his blood pressure rise and he’s used to having a closer working relationship with his agents than she ever has.

He put his career on the line for her, though; when Clint defied orders and what a lot of people would call common sense to bring back a young Russian woman so small that there was probably more blood on her hands than in her veins, Phil immediately turned around and swore up and down that Barton would never have saved her if she weren’t someone who could be saved. They were right, of course, because she turned out a brilliant and loyal agent, but the real effect of that first encounter of their was that she trusted him almost as much as Clint and he ended up as her handler as well.

Still, she’s private and difficult to read and as a result of that, he gets nothing more from her message than exactly the words it says. The people she’s working with are suspicious—not surprising, given their organization—and as a result she’ll have to restrict any behavior that might make it seem that she’s communicating with an outsider, including actually doing so.





The air tickles against the back of Natasha’s neck, like there’s something wrong, like she hadn’t spent what felt like weeks finding the perfect table at the perfect café, where no one will be able to surveil them and get a decent shot at her, at least not without her being able to see them.

No one, that is, except—she turns instinctively, looking at the window she’d noticed before; it’s too far away for anyone but a truly exceptional marksman to be able to make the shot. She’d figured that, unless they somehow brainwashed Clint and stuck him up there, she was perfectly safe, at least on that front.

But the skin on the back of her neck is tingling, and she knows this feeling because she’s had it before. It just can’t—shouldn’t—be possible to have it here, right now. Because, well, there’s no way that Clint is there, watching her with calculating eyes and an arrow trained on her. And times when he is are the only ones she’s ever felt this before.

It’s certainly not a risk worth taking. There’s time, before her meeting, to dart in the direction of the building and use some of her more nefarious skills to ascertain whether he—or anyone else, for that matter—is watching her, ready to strike if necessary. She does just that, ducking into the crowd on the sidewalk and moving with it, faster than the pace with which it seems to shuffle along but unobtrusive within it.





Phil stands completely still, his back perfectly straight, and listens to Director Fury.

“Agent Coulson, your actions in handling agents Barton and Romanoff on their respective operations have been reckless, irresponsible, and in direct violation of the orders I gave you. At this time, you are ordered to stand down from supervisions operations Huntress and Stormbase.”

“Yes sir,” Phil replied, for lack of anything better to say.

 

the one that was going to be Bruce/Pepper/Tony

Their bed was huge, large enough to comfortably sleep three adults—

Tony had always had huge beds, to suit his huge room, and Pepper had seen no reason to change that when she redecorated a bit after they became an official thing.

He'd objected to the redecoration, of course, wanting to keep the room that Pepper had always called half bachelor pad and half temple of seduction. It wasn't until she pointed out that he didn't need to be doing any seducing—I'm kind of a sure thing, Tony—that he relented.

—and Pepper hadn't really foreseen how convenient it would be. For a good while, she and Tony had mostly used the extra space for pillows and somewhat athletic sex, nothing more.

But now there was a third person in the bed, and it felt a little precognizant of her to have kept it.





Pepper doesn’t actually meet Dr. Bruce Banner until after New York, when they’ve moved on to repairing the tower and the city and their lives. She’d heard of him before that, obviously, from the files that she knows nothing about—everyone she’s ever interacted from SHIELD is exceptionally good at pretending she doesn’t even know who they are—but even before she associated his name with a giant green monster trashing the city, he was familiar. As the executive assistant (slash handler) for the CEO of a company with a huge R&D component, it was her job to know who he was.

So getting home late to see him asleep on the couch was more than a little strange.





There are a lot of qualities a person has to have in order to work for Tony Stark as effectively and for as long as Pepper did—you have to be smart enough to keep up, you have to be able to command his respect, you have to be exceptionally good at picking your battles. But the key, the one thing she’s pretty sure it’s impossible to work for him without, is being just as screwed up as he is.

No one warned her about that one—in all honesty, it had probably never occurred to them; they probably looked for people with perfect lives who had everything in order and then watched them crash and burn when they couldn’t be as dependent on Tony as he was on them. Pepper has always kind of suspected that she lasted as much because she was lonely and overworked and pathologically terrified of failure as because she can walk in five-inch heels and juggle six conflicting schedules and actually get Tony to do what she says.

She was young when she got the job—young enough that it’s half a miracle Tony never really tried to seduce her—but she wore suits and stilettos and impeccable makeup like it was armor and forced him to listen when she spoke.

There wasn’t anything else to her life, so there was nothing to stop her from pouring her soul into the job, pouring her soul into Tony. She didn’t live at his mansion but, well, there were months (bad months) when she slept in a guest bedroom there more nights than she didn’t, so tired that Happy refused to drive her home and she just collapsed on the bed and was asleep before she even got out of her jacket.

If anything, it was difficult to keep from letting it become her life, the only thing that really mattered, and from there it was an easy step to needing Tony as much as he needed her.

(She hid it better, though. He’s admitted, in open, intimate moments, that he’d not had any idea until she spelled it out for him with her hand literally inside his chest and braving something most people would find repellant and horrifying just to keep him alive.)

The point of all this, though, is that she can understand, at least on some level, the things she sees in Bruce’s eyes from time to time—loneliness, confusion, uncertainty what he’s gotten himself into, fear that he’ll inadvertently ruin everything he’s starting to care about too much.





It’s unusual—almost jarring—to have another genius around. Pepper’s been dealing with Tony for so long that her mental map of the way they function is wired for him, for occasionally self-destructive, Scotch-swilling, big-hearted, quasi-lunatics who dive head first into being superheroes like it’s half a game and half the only path to redemption.

Bruce is something else entirely; he’s a genius, but usually composed and always controlled. Saving the world over and over isn’t what he does because he needs to atone for his past, it’s what he does because at least it puts the monster he created within himself to good use. They’re kind of opposites, she knows. Bruce Banner, mild mannered and unfailingly polite, puts the literal monster that is the Hulk to good use, while Iron Man, hero and savior, puts the figurative monster that is Tony Stark to good use.





Falling in love with Tony Stark was surprisingly easy, or maybe unsurprisingly so. He was young and she was younger; he was lonely and she was lonelier; they spent all their days moving in circles around each other and learning a comfortable way to live in each other’s spaces, filling in the cracks and smoothing over rough edges. Pepper spent a lot of time dealing with the firsthand evidence that Tony wasn’t the easiest person to know or to date, but he was incredibly easy to fall in love with.

The incredible charm didn’t hurt.

Falling in love with Bruce is even easier, mostly because he’s just an easier person to love than Tony. Despite all the overlap in their personalities and quirks, despite Tony being an inveterate charmer and inexplicably sexy, despite the issues presented by issues of the green monster variety, Bruce is an easy person to spend time with and an easy person to care for. He’s honest and humble and self-effacing, which are not qualities Tony possesses in spades but Pepper discovers that she’s missed them.





Dr. Banner isn’t an easy person to get to know, for all that he insists she call him Bruce while refusing to call her Pepper. He’s polite and more than a little shy, if not immune to Tony’s inimitable way of getting people to like him. Bruce had spent more hours than Pepper knows about in the lab





Here’s the thing, though: Pepper loves Tony an incredible amount. It is a crazy, nearly overwhelming love—when he was missing, it threatened to destroy her—and it has shaped her life in ways she cannot even begin to imagine.

And in the years that she’s spent with him, loving him, helping him, being loved by him, she’s come to understand him about as well as anyone can.

Tony—well—Tony believes that, despite his infinite capacity to care for others, their capacity to care for him is limited. Pepper has practically made a career out of turning down the gifts he offers her as some sort of misguided reward for enduring his company. Well, she usually turns them down. Sometimes he’s a pain in the ass and she deserves some $700 shoes for hauling his pathetic self around. She’s careful about what she takes—if it’s an apology for being a jerk or showing up to a meeting drunk, it’s fair game, but if it comes out of nowhere then he’s probably trying to apologize for his personality and that’s not something she’s going to let happen.

Pepper knows all this, and more, and she knows that Tony won’t believe it’s possible that she loves both him and Bruce, that if she had to choose it would always be him.

She’s built an entire life around him; you don’t give up something like that for a whim and a mad scientist.

Not that Tony isn’t a mad scientist as well—Pepper’s taste leaves a little to be desired, or so her mother has told her. Neither superheroes nor unstable, alcoholic CEOs nor the aforementioned mad scientists are the best material for long-term relationships, but she loves them all and she loves the way they combine to make Tony (and Bruce).





Arc reactors did not the best bedmates make—cold and hard and brightly lit—but she'd finally convinced Tony to make a little cover for his. It looked ludicrous against his bare skin but at least she could sleep facing him without the light blinding her and making sleep a virtual impossibility.

(It had occurred to her, more than once, to ask him about wearing it under his clothes, to prevent to light from blinking through, but she was always stopped by the memory of how Tony wore it—proud and defiant, daring people to challenge him for having made technology a part of himself in such a way.)



  

the one that started with Harry and Liam hooking up at boot camp idek man

The thing about boot camp is that it’s probably the most stressful thing Liam’s ever done; he’s constantly strung out and tired and everyone around him is in exactly the same state. It’s a non-stop adrenaline rush, and he feels like he’s been teetering on the edge of a minor breakdown for most of it.

This is the only possible explanation for how he ends up letting himself get pressed against an out-of-sight wall by a boy he’s met a few times—his name’s something like Harry, but Liam can’t bring himself to really care because he’s got his hands under the back of Liam’s shirt and is kissing him like it’ll help him win the X Factor.

Which, well, it really emphatically won’t, because if they’re caught they’ll probably be headed home as quickly as they ended up against this wall but—god, Harry knows what he’s doing with his mouth. And his hands, which have stopped working under Liam’s shirt and are toying with the waistband of his trousers instead, those are pretty good too. Mostly, Liam is focusing on what Harry is doing with his tongue and how much he wants to pull away from the kiss for just long enough to bite his earlobe (and maybe his neck as well). And then there’s the sound of a zip coming undone, which Liam realizes somewhat belatedly was his; he realizes because there’s suddenly a lot more air around his dick and because he can feel Harry’s hand through his pants.

The gasp he lets out is rather more high-pitched and breathy than he expected it to be, but it’s just that—the feeling was unexpected, okay?

He’s with it enough to return the favor, at least, scrabbling at the button of Harry’s trousers until they come undone and shoving them off his skinny hips. Liam realizes, around the time he reaches into Harry’s memorably tiny briefs, that he’s left Harry in his pants in the corridor, but then the hand that was toying around near his dick gets a proper grip on it and—right, Liam is in the hallway at boot camp for the X Factor, getting jerked off by one of his fellow contestants. This is happening.

Harry’s hand is moving steadily, twisting a little, and it’s making Liam supremely conscious of how uncontrolled his movements are, his hand stopping and starting on Harry’s dick and his hips jerking forward erratically. It’s not a surprise at all when he comes first, his head dropping back against the wall painfully and his hand going slack around Harry. Liam barely registers that Harry brings his own hand down to move with Liam’s on his dick, probably because Liam has gone kind of limp. He can feel Harry going tense and coming all over their hands.

They have barely a moment to lean weakly against each other before there’s a jarring voice over the PA system, summoning them back to the circus that is boot camp.

--

At least nothing is going to come of it; Liam’s seen Harry around enough to know that he’s—well, he’s friendly, is a kind way of putting it. It’ll just have been one time, wanking each other off in a corridor, and they’ll be able to forget about it and go back to barely knowing each other.

Of course, then everything goes completely pear-shaped. Well, goes pear-shaped and then rights itself and then goes kind of pear-shaped again because all of a sudden, Liam is in a boy band and he’s in it with the guy he wanked off once. In the space of five minutes, he’s gone from being a solo artist cut from the X Factor again to being someone who’s had a one-off with one of his bandmates.

There’s a group hug, during which momentarily Liam tries to hide that he was crying until he sees how red everyone else’s eyes are, and they’re herded away for interviews and to actually speak to each other and—Liam’s not really paying attention, because he’s not going home, which is the biggest relief, and he’s trying to figure out what to make of the fact that he now has to spend a lot of time with a bloke who’s dick he’s touched.

Between the interviews and calling his family and





Being in a band is strange, terrifying and stressful and comforting all at once, and his bandmates are strange, and, well Harry swims naked.

The other lads seem perfectly happy to chase each other around the bungalow for hours, and Liam wants to scream at them that they need to practice. Zayn’s not there, not yet; everything is loud and wild and nothing like anything Liam’s used to from home.





It gets easier, with practice—his mum had assured him it would, and, as usual, she turned out to be right. They all go out for a walk and picnic, for no reason except that they can,





The relief when Zayn shows up is like having a small mountain lifted off his shoulders. They hug, quickly, and Zayn neither gropes nor bites Liam. He didn’t think he’d ever be in a position where not having his mates grope him would be a pleasant surprise, but apparently that’s happened. Well, mostly he’s glad to not have Louis groping him. Niall is more fond of slapping and sneak-attack hugs, and Harry—Harry cuddles but doesn’t grope. Except for how he gropes everyone else.

Liam can’t bring himself to dislike everything, because dinner is a ridiculous affair that nearly turns into a food fight—Louis doesn’t like boiled carrots and starts to chuck his at Harry, but it turns out that Harry adores them and tries to catch them in his mouth.

Zayn laughs at that, a little quiet, and Liam gets a pointed reminder that for all he wants to shake them until they work harder, he’s had more time to get used to the rowdiness.

The breakdown of who sleeps where on any given night is determined by two factors that are really three: the order they go to bed, who can cope with Harry’s snoring, and Liam’s unwillingness to sleep in the same bed as a naked Harry. Not that anyone knows about the last one. Usually he just stays up late enough—practicing, usually by himself but sometimes with the others—that he can arrange not to be with Harry; if that doesn’t work, he blames it on the snoring.

That night, he ends up sharing with Zayn, who pokes him in the side a couple of times when he climbs in. He doesn’t say anything, though, just curls up and goes to sleep. This is why Liam likes Zayn, understands him.

One morning, when Niall drags Harry and Louis to MacDonald’s for breakfast, Liam and Zayn have a bit of a lie-in. Well, really, Zayn has a bit of a lie-in and Liam enjoys the chance to lay about on the sofa and not have anyone try to take his shirt off or tickle him. He’s drowsing and listening to music when a weight settles on his legs. Upon opening his eyes, Liam sees Zayn sitting on his calves, and he wiggles them free and drapes them across Zayn’s lap instead.

“Good morning,” Zayn says, his voice low and hoarse with sleep.

“Morning,” Liam mumbles, the effort of opening his mouth properly seeming overwhelming.

“Where’s the others?” Zayn pokes at Liam’s ankle, which doesn’t really wake him up at all because the repetitive motion is too soothing.

He tries rubbing his eyes instead. “MacDonald’s. Niall wanted …” Actually, he’s not sure what Niall wanted because he went back to sleep instead of listening when Louis was shaking him awake. “I don’t know, some sort of food.”

They fall into comfortable silence for a bit, and then Zayn grabs his ankle and shakes it a little. “You alright?”

Liam nods distractedly, but Zayn just shakes his leg ankle again. Opening his eyes, he sees a look that, well, if he had to guess, it means that Zayn doesn’t believe him at all. He shrugs a bit. “It’s all a bit much, yeah?” Zayn snorts in agreement.

“I’m glad you’re here now,” Liam hears himself say.

“They’re all a bit mad, aren’t they?” Zayn says, and Liam laughs. “Were they bothering you before I got here?”

Liam rolls his eyes, because of course they were. Louis is completely incapable of going more than about fifteen minutes without bothering someone, regardless of the circumstances, and the more the person minds, he more he wants to get under their skin. Niall goes along with everything, because it’s a chance to have a laugh. And as for Harry, well, he and Louis are a terrifying matched set of troublemakers and on top of that, every time he meets Liam’s eyes everything goes a little uncomfortable and queasy.

This is why having a one-off with your bandmate is a terrible idea; the fact that they weren’t in a band together is not exactly good enough consolation, under the circumstances.

Belatedly, Liam realizes he hasn’t actually answered, but Zayn seems to have understood anyway. “You know Louis doesn’t mean anything by it. He [pisses] off people he likes.”

Liam shrugs again, and answers before he can catch himself. “Louis’s not the worst, Harry is.”

On his ankle, Zayn’s hand stills. “Mate,” he says, “Louis is definitely the worst. He’s funny, but he’s a total pain in the arse.”

There are a few options here: Liam could tell the truth, that he and Harry wanked each other off in a hallway, or he could make something up, or he could pretend to have fallen back asleep, or he could just ignore it altogether and make some toast.

“Harry just—is,” he says instead, which is terrible because now Zayn will know for certain that there’s something off but it’s too late now.

And, predictably, Zayn frowns at him a bit. “Do you fancy him or something? Cause, you know, it’s fine, we’re not going to be [douches] about it …”

Liam kind of jerks his entire body away from Zayn, because that’s really completely entirely not what he was expecting and besides, he doesn’t fancy Harry, sure, he’s pretty enough, but he’s a prat and doesn’t understand how to work for anything, and besides, there’s Louis. Naturally, the only part that comes out of his mouth is the last bit. “No, he’s got Louis, it would just make a mess of things!”

Zayn looks at him sideways, frowning, and Liam wonders what he said wrong.


 

 

a series of beginnings of various TSN fics I'm kind of fond of but are super short

(Inception notfic)
The most dangerous thing about inception isn’t the number of layers the team has to go down or the risk of death or any of those things Sean doesn’t quite understand because it’s not his job.

The most dangerous thing—and the team he hired spelled this out for him in great detail—is that sometime in the future, the mark will realize that the idea wasn’t his.

No one really understands why it happens or what causes it, and it’s not exactly common, but it happens often enough, relatively speaking. Weeks or months or years later, with the benefit of hindsight and the time for introspection, sometimes people can pick out the string of memories and feelings that aren’t quite right.

Sean had just kind of figured that Mark didn’t spend enough time evaluating his own emotions for it to be a hazard.

So when Mark does storm up to him, movements as sharp and clipped as his words, and spits out “What the hell did you do to me?” Sean is understandably surprised.

“What?” he says.


--

(meta erica.doc)
The phone is ringing—has been for hours, it feels like—and Erica is ignoring it. It’s flashing up at her that the number is screened, and she’s learned the hard way what happens when she answers those calls.

All these years later, and she’s back to being the girl who broke up with Mark Zuckerberg.

She saw the movie, not when it came out or anything, but she got it from Redbox shortly after it was released on DVD; maybe it was morbid curiosity that drove her. People—old friends, mostly—had warned her that there was a version of her in the film, an unrecognizable caricature of a girl whose relationship with Mark was nothing like hers had been. Even her name was changed, probably in an attempt to keep her from having to deal with—

Well, from having to deal with this.

Sure, the girl on the screen was named Susanna Cartwright, but the blog entries were real and someone—Erica isn’t sure she even wants to know who did it—got a little creative and found them and now, somehow her phone number is being passed around the more disreputable media outlets.

Because, apparently, having cruelly dumped a guy who’s now a zillionaire is something that people want to interview her about.

The first time the phone flashed Restricted at her when it rang, she answered it—after all, a PR manager at a small New England nonprofit has no reason to monitor her incoming calls all that closely; she’d figured it was one of her little cousins prank calling her and prepared herself to play along.

So when the person on the other end had asked for Erica Albright, she’d been slightly taken aback. So she was already playing a game of mental catch-up when she heard, rushed out on one breath, “I’m Josh Thompson from the National Enquirer, do you mind answering some questions about Mark Zuckerberg?”


--

(Mr and Mrs Smith AU)
It's the worst kind of cliché and Dustin knows it, but the moment he walked into the ballroom and picked Chris out from the crowd of tuxedo- and ballgown-glad party-goers, he realizes two things. The first is that Chris (whatever else he may be) can definitely pull off a tux.

The second is that he's never going to be able to complete this hit.

So it would probably be accurate to describe the moment as life-changing, but Dustin’s not sure he wants to go in for quite that much cliché.




“Does this mean you’re going respectable?” Mark asks, his voice somewhere between confused and angry (and angry on Mark usually means hurt).

“I,” Chris begins, though he’s a little unsure where the sentence needs to go. “Mark, it’s a really good job. Basically my dream job.”

And it is, Chris knows that with all his heart. He loves working for Mark, he really does, but this is what he’s wanted to do his whole life, having the chance to really make the world a better place instead of occasionally ridding it of bad people (and sometimes good people, too, but he tries not to think about that too much).

“Yeah,” Mark says, clearly not understanding what Chris is getting at in the slightest. “Good luck, then.”

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daisysusan

April 2013

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