"We should have a dog park," Jan said, over breakfast in the dorm one morning. Everyone was there but Steve, who was wrapping up a dance marathon, and Natasha, who was pretending to spy on him instead of watching his ass.
"Why?" Loki asked.
"Well, we have two dogs now," she said. "And, okay, Cosmo seems to be happy just to float around -- "
"I think his suit takes care of his, you know. Business," Tony remarked, and everyone with a mouthful of food looked a little grossed out.
"Bulldog has yet to leave her pillow, she might not be real," Jess put in.
"Bulldog is real!" Jan insisted.
"She's wearing a crown," Kamala pointed out. "Most dogs don't."
"No, I agree, our dogs are as special as we are," Loki said, looking wicked. "Bee Lady, we should certainly have a dog park. I nominate Tony to build it."
"I build robots and the future," Tony said. "I'm not a landscaper."
"Make Red Hulk do it," Enchantress suggested. "He likes ripping things out of the ground and leaving them lying around."
"One time," Red Hulk rumbled. "One time!"
"Uh, guys," Quill said, tapping his fork on his plate to get their attention. "We have a dog park."
There was a pause.
"No we don't," Tony said.
"Yeah we do," Quill replied. "It's the empty green bit near the gym, with the trees? We've had it for a long time. Since before we had dogs!" he added brightly.
"Why would we have a dog park before we had dogs?" Pepper asked. "I've never seen any permits for this dog park."
"Me either," Sharon added. "And I go through all the papers on Fury's desk whenever I can."
"Well, I mean." Quill shifted uncomfortably. "We're not supposed to talk about it."
"How do you know?" Jack asked.
"The sign says so," Quill said.
Steve and Natasha had finished their tasks by the time everyone left the dorm to follow Quill to the so-called dog park, and they fell in with the crowd curiously. Quill took them on a roundabout circuit through campus, eventually coming to a stop in front of a pair of trees.
"There," he said.
Between the trees was a large white sign:
- No dogs allowed in the dog park
- No hoverboarding, flying, dancing, spying, shrinking, growing, or combat in the dog park
- Do not look directly at the dog park
- The dog park is closed to the public
- You are not supposed to talk about the dog park
- This means you, Peter Quill
The sign was big, but it couldn't quite obscure what rose between the trees behind it. It was tall and deep black, but not in the way a black shirt or a black sign or a black building was; it was black in the way that made your eyes hurt. As if it were a hole into a pool of blackness.
In the vague shape of Steve Rogers.
"Honestly, it's one of the better images of me I've seen," Steve said, as the rest of them stared silently up at the terrifying, statue-shaped void. "Most of them get my nose wrong."
"We can't see your nose," Kamala pointed out.
"Which means it's not wrong, at least," Steve said.
"Does anyone else feel like they sprained their corneas?" Pepper asked.
"Hey, has anyone seen Jan?" Tony asked suddenly.
There was a joyful bark from the Dog Park.
Distantly, they heard the sound of Jan's "happy" scream (it had a specific pitch to it, different from her angry scream and her new-shoes scream).
"Ah, crap, we're gonna have to go in and find her and the dogs, aren't we?" Quill groaned.
"Don't damage the statue-shaped void," Steve said, pulling his shield off his back. Natasha already had her stealth box ready.
"AVENGERS, ASSEMBLE! AND TRY NOT TO LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE DOG PARK!" Steve yelled, and they charged into battle.