There's no such a thing as Avengers' movie night
There's no such a thing as Avengers' movie night and Tony would be the first person to correct this mistaken assumption. There is, however - especially now, since the Stark Tower 2.0 has been finished and can be used as a place to hang out - an elaborate plan to introduce Capsicle and their resident demi-god to the joys of modern entertainment. And since Tony is the only one with space available - Steve has some poor-ass broom closet in Brooklyn, Bruce is bunking in Stark Tower with him, Clint and Natasha probably live in the SHIELD HQ (at least that's what Tony assumes) and Thor, apparently, doesn't sleep at all - they meet up every Friday at his, armed with popcorn, pop-tarts and few liters of cola, to watch some movies chosen by Pepper and develop strong team bonds that Fury constantly talks about.
There is, however, no Avengers' movie night.
The first not-movie night is a spontaneous decision. They've just kicked ass of some teenage idiot going by the name of Baron Zebo or Baron Zemo, or something akin to that, and they're still high on adrenaline when Tony shouts "let's have a party!". Clint and Natasha exchange dubious looks, but Tony is still grinning and keeps talking about his giant DVD/Blu-Ray collection. Eventually - after telling Fury that they'll debrief tomorrow, because now they're just fucking tired, sir - everyone agrees and the fifteen minute walk to Stark Tower is spent on trying to explain to Steve and Thor what the exactly a DVD is.
Pepper Potts has been away on some conference in Singapore and it shows when the team enters Tony's so called lounge: there's nothing in the entire house except for toast bread and a bottle of scotch, and Tony can't find any of the DVDs he wanted to show them. The only thing he does find is a collector's edition of some Disney cartoon or another, and - at the time - it seems like a very good choice. After all, that's Disney we're talking about, and they make their living by making films suitable for kids. Not to mention, it's going to be simple enough for Thor to follow and understand the plot. And Steve will probably appreciate the colours, what with him hailing back from an era of black-and-white movies.
"Okay, gang," Tony says as he puts the disc into the DVD player and tells JARVIS to start the movie. "We all need some relaxing, and there's no better way of relaxing than mindlessly watching a pretty kids' movie."
He is met with twin disappointed groans from Clint and Natasha - and suddenly Tony remembers that they are two master assassins who kill people who disappointed them - and an interested look from Steve. Thor probably doesn't know what a kids' movie is, so he puts on that blank expression he's wearing most of the time. Bruce just rolls his eyes, but that's okay; Bruce is Tony's science bro and science bros always have each other's back.
"I'll make some toasts," Tony carries on when the savannah appears on his giant flat screen, "and you enjoy the movie. Especially the music. It's good. It's Elton."
"What's an elton?" Thor asks and Natasha giggles.
For a while, everything seems great. Tony manages not to burn the toasts and even finds some out of date peanut butter to serve with them. He looks regretfully at the bottle of scotch before opening it and using in the most improper way; soon after he hands everyone a glass filled with scotch-tasting tap water. Steve asks a few questions and then shuts up, shushed by Clint, when "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" starts. Thor is fascinated by the movie and Tony congratulates himself on his wise choice, when things start to go downhill. Mostly, Tony decides, it's Scar's fault. Quite possibly also Jeremy Irons'.
The frown on Thor's face deepens and deepens with every passing minute of the film and by the time Scar throws Mufasa into the stampede, his expression can be only described as a reverse psychotic smile. He doesn't cry, though, when Simba lies down by his father and is then tricked by Scar. Thank God for small mercies, Tony thinks; Pepper always cries at Mufasa's death scene and while Tony has no problem comforting her, he doesn't want to be comforting a god of thunder. Things get brighter once Simba meets Timon and Pumbaa, and Thor is even heard repeating "hakuna matata" along with the characters. He starts getting grimmer and grimmer towards the end of the movie, again, but outright breaks down after Scar's fall. Tony is not exactly sure if it means that Thor has a soft heart or that he's siding with the villain here. He's still trying to sort this one out when Natasha smacks him on the head.
"If The Lion King was your genius plan then it was a stupid-ass plan," she tells him while, on Tony's left, Bruce is awkwardly patting a crying Thor on the back.
"How was I supposed to know that he's such a Shakespeare fan?" Tony lifts his arms in defence. "He didn't look like it when we first met."
"It's not about Shakespeare," Natasha says angrily. "It's about showing him a movie where two brothers fight, family members kill each other and, in the end, no one is able to save Scar." Tony swallows thickly. Shit. This, this, he didn't foresee. "You really do like to pick on other people's issues, don't you?"
No, no, he doesn't. But that's a problem with Tony Stark, isn't it, he sometimes acts first and thinks later, and now that he is thinking about it, it's pretty clear that Thor might have very personal problems with The Lion King. Hell, that little shit Loki and Scar even look similar.
"Is it customary on Midgard?" Thor asks and lifts his head to look at Tony. His eyes are very red. "For warriors to weep over movies?"
Tony doesn't know what to say. He doesn't cry at movies - he doesn't - and he doubts that anyone else here does. Especially not Natasha, she's probably biologically incapable of crying at movies, he thinks.
"Yes," Natasha answers, "it is a sign of true strength, Thor."
She's looking pointedly at Tony while she's saying that and Tony can only think that it doesn't bode well for the future.
Somewhere along the way it is decided that an impartial judge should pick their movies. Barton, the fucker that he is, says that Fury should do it. That proposition is immediately vetoed by Steve, Bruce, Tony and, surprisingly, Natasha. The crown argument is that Fury is weird and would probably pick movies with some motherfucking snakes on some motherfucking planes. In the end, the task is given to Pepper and Tony promises her extra Christmas bonus for doing it. Pepper just smiles, says she'd rather have a Valentine's Day bonus and that if Tony agrees, they have a deal. Tony agrees. He doesn't have to be asked twice.
That's how they end up going through most important Oscar movies, most important war movies, the actually funny comedies (Tony is tempted to recreate The Hungover with his teammates the next time they have a free weekend) and the sickeningly sweet rom-coms. No one seems to remember The Lion King fiasco and there are no subsequent incidents. At least until the day Pepper chooses Atonement for them.
This is a movie Tony refused to watch with her, if only because Pepper thinks that this McAvoy dude is good-looking. (Which is ridiculous as he's even shorter than Tony. Pepper usually rebutts this statement with an excited "oh God, Tony, but his eyes!") So he has no idea what to expect. For the first time, they are all watching a movie no one on the team has previously seen. It starts out fine - and, sadly, that McAvoy dude is good-looking and has amazing eyes - and then bam!, and the main couple gets separated, roughly, what, fifteen minutes into the movie? Steve whimpers on Tony's right and Tony feels obligated to ensure him that, yes, it's just a sob-fest for the ladies, they'll get back together before the end.
The whole WWII thing hits a bit too close home for Steve - even Thor notices that, but thankfully doesn't comment - but his spirits uplift a bit when Robbie and Cecilia meet again. And again. By the time Robbie kicks that bitch Briony out of Cecilia's house, Tony is smiling smugly. After all, he was right - it is just another crappy war-related romance story, even if McAvoy's genetically impossible eyes make him want to scratch his own out.
And then - shit fuck what? Tony struggles to lift his jaw from the floor where he dropped it after old version of Briony-the-Bitch made her big announcement. Wait, what? What the hell was this twist?
"So... He died," Steve states rather than asks. Somewhere on the periphery of Tony's vision Clint nods. "And he and Cecilia never saw each other again," Steve carries in that hollow, too-many-emotions-to-cry voice, "and they never went together to that house."
And fuck this movie, because - as Steve is saying it - the imaginary versions of Robbie and Cecilia play merrily at the beach. Tony has never wanted to punch a fictional character before, but he wishes Briony would just die in a fire. She made up her own ending to the real story to soothe her guilt, that bitch.
"I know what it feels like," Steve finally says and wraps his arms around his knees, hugging himself. And isn't that just the cherry on the top of the rainbow-happy cake this evening turned out to be?
Tony cancels next week's session in lieu of buying all copies of Atonement from the local DVD shop and ritually burning them on a beach adjacent to his Malibu house. It doesn't make the parallels between Robbie and Steve any less obvious or painful, but it does make Tony feel a bit better.
The first movie watched on the first Friday of the first month of 2013 is all a blur that Tony cannot make sense of. He remembers just a few things:
1) it was another weepy romance crap that, supposedly, made everyone cry (at least that's what Pepper claimed and Tony knew for a fact that she was right; she cried at that, Rhodey's mum even cried at that and she was one tough as nails older lady),
2) ten minutes into the movie Natasha - that lovely Russian, Tony doesn't know why he ever disliked her - came up with a spectacularly good drinking game for that movie (in their defence, New Year's Eve was only four days before and there was still plenty of booze and mead around the Tower),
3) everyone - and that includes Steve, Tony still doesn't know what Natasha had put into his shots but it worked - got smashed and was giggling throughout the whole movie, even when it turned out that the main lady has Alzheimer's or something,
4) everyone except for Bruce, who was huddled on Tony's sofa and was crying openly, with sniffs and blotchy eyes,
5) Tony - ever the good science bro - forbade mocking Bruce for being a lady and weeping at sad love stories,
6) because - at one point - Bruce told their merry band to shut the fuck up because he had the right to cry as that was the last movie he and Betty ever saw as a couple.
That turned out to be a very efficient way of making one sober up. Natasha couldn't stand the suddenly suffocating sadness that had crept into the Tower, decided to take out the big guns and opened a bottle of quality Russian vodka. Tony didn't register anything after that moment and the next day he woke up on the sofa next to his science bro, with his science bro's face smashed on his shoulder and his science bro's tears still wet on his shirt.
Tony will forever claim that he didn't forget about Pepper's birthday as much as - on his way to deliver the best present she has ever received - he was kidnapped by associates of Justin Hammer and Amora the Enchantress and had to fight his way out. And when he finally did, it was already a day after Pepper's birthday and Pepper wasn't answering his calls. She didn't even want to look at the giant bruise and a broken arm that were supposed to serve as proof of his ordeal. Then again, it's not like he never asked Rhodey to help him out this way - Pepper did have a legitimate reason not to believe him, given his track record.
That's why he didn't think that the Weekly Not-Movie Night would happen - what with Pepper being angry with him and refusing to restock the Tower with cola and pop-tarts, which were the only things that shut Thor up for the whole duration of any movie. He was very surprised when, upon entering the lounge, he heard Thor's booming voice and Natasha's laugh, all coming from the general direction of his sofa.
"Guys, I thought we weren't meeting today," Tony mutters when Clint hands him a bowl of popcorn and Natasha pushes a milkshake into his hands. It's a strawberry milkshake and this thing alone should have prompted Tony to consider this whole thing a trap. Alas, it didn't.
Tony goes over to the bar to mix up some drinks for himself and thus misses the credits in the beginning. He sits down on the sofa between Natasha and Steve and lifts the glass to his lips when he hears it.
"Captain's log, stardate 8130,3."
Oh no she didn't. He glances at the DVD box that's lying on the coffee table and yes, she did. Oh, Pepper. Tony constantly forgets that there's no more fearsome force than a woman scorned and that Pep knows him better than anyone else on the planet. Better than he knows himself, really, and that's why he overestimates his ability to sit through this movie unmoved.
It's always been a weak spot of his, this movie, and he never thought that Pepper might use this against him. It's-- it's almost cruel, in a way. It might also serve him as a reminder that he's supposed to be more in touch with his feelings, that this is what he and Pep's been working on for the past few months.
Thor and Steve find the movie equally fascinating and amusing. Bruce joins them on the amusing front while Clint and Natasha don't pay attention at all, preferring to play Angry Birds on Bruce's iPad. Tony is not offended by that. After all, this is a silly movie.
"I have been, and always shall be, your friend."
A very silly old movie.
"Tony, are you-- are you crying?"
It's Bruce who asks that question and that's the only reason it's not delivered in a mocking tone. Tony blushes a furious red and wipes the tears off his face. He can't help it, he tried - the emotional reaction is just rooted too deeply in him to get rid off. Clint whispers something in Natasha's ear and she snickers. Tony gets even redder.
"If you have to know," he announces loudly, "I was twelve when I first saw it, and had no friends whatsoever. The concept of someone dying in name of friendship was just weird."
That shuts Natasha up.
"But that's not it," Bruce comments, the observant bastard.
"No, it's not." Tony looks over to his left, where Steve is not exactly blocking the view of Manhattan. "It was the first and only time my dad took me to the cinema."
"Sorry," Natasha mutters, sheepish. Tony shrugs. It doesn't matter now. It's in the past, he's an adult. And what if a stupid sci-fi flick makes him a bid sad. Everyone has a movie like that. He grimaces. Well, except for Natasha, who's apparently biologically incapable of crying at movies.
"Didn't you say, Natasha, that weeping during a movie was a sign of warrior's strength on Midgard?" Thor inquiries and makes everyone laugh, for reasons he still does not comprehend.
Tony is grateful for that.
Tony decides that the world can end right now because he's seen everything the evening Natasha brings a well-used DVD and plays a weird Indian movie. Bollywood movie, she calls it. Kal Ho Naa Ho, she says, probably butchering Hindi in the process. The point is, it's ridiculous.
Actually, no, the plot itself isn't bad - it's only been done by everyone and their mother. Two guys - who happen to be friends - are in love with the same girl and only one can get her. And the other one is dying of a heart disease. But really. The jokes aren't bad, acting isn't that bad either - the movie is even fun, for the first half an hour. Then it gets boring, and around hour two it gets simply annoying. And the songs, God, the songs - Tony could do without the songs. Thor could do too, and Bruce, judging by the vein pulsing on his temple. And Clint and Natasha... Tony takes a double look to ensure himself that he's seeing right. But yes, he is, and Clint and Natasha are hugging each other tightly and sobbing on each other's shoulders. Which is stupid, because the ending wasn't that sad. Okay, it was that sad, Tony decides, but that sadness was forced down your throat and that made it un-sad. And then it was all about carrying on after loved ones are dead, beacon of hope, light at the end of the tunnel, and Tony does not understand how anyone could cry at a damn three-hour-long Bollywood musical.
(The mystery is resolved the next day, when Tony accidentally finds out that it was Phil Coulson's birthday the day before and that the damn three-hour-long Bollywood musical was Phil Coulson's favourite movie. Tony makes a point of financially supporting the next Indian Film Festival he hears about.)
Loki sighs and drops gracelessly onto his sofa. It's Friday evening, it's quiet and nobody is bugging him. (It's always quiet on Friday evenings because nobody is ever bugging him.) Amora is back in Asgard, pretending to be the perfect lady, and Justin Hammer is on some charity ball he expressly forbade Loki from attending. And Karnilla-- Loki puts a hand over his eyes. Let's just forget about Karnilla, that bitch. Loki yawns and turns on the TV. Even the Avengers haven't been interrupting and destroying his ploys and plots lately; it's almost as if they lost any interest in him whatsoever. It's boring, frankly speaking. Loki is just bored (and disappointed and quite a bit sad, and a thousand other things he's not going to name).
There's some animated movie starting on one of the channels and Loki shrugs and decides to give it a shot. It's not going to be any better than action films on other channels; who knows, this one might actually be fun. The main character likes to wreck havoc, he notices with amusement. Maybe he'll be able to relate. And, well, the music is appealing.
An hour later, Loki wraps his arms around himself and pretends that the sofa and the apartment aren't as empty as they really are. He decides that he hates the music, hates the characters and hates this movie. He stopped trying to wipe the salt off his face because it just kept coming back. Midgardian magic, it must have been some kind of Midgardian magic. Loki hugs himself tighter and quietly repeats after the blue monster that no one has ever wanted or cared about:
"Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten."