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"Here's the plan," America says, spreading her hands out over the table and almost knocking over Noh-Varr's beer. "David, Billy, you two are on intel. Noh-Varr, you're my backup. Teddy, you're my backup vocals. Loki, you look like a fine, law-abiding young man. Kate—"

Kate chugs the rest of her rum and coke. She already knows how this is going to go.

"—you gotta get Clint to let us play at his club."

See, here's the thing. The Young Avengers are a mess, and they're neither an interesting mess—no one's getting high on stage and rolling around in broken glass like Darby Crash—nor a particularly promising one. Kate knows three chords, Teddy knows five, Billy can sort of keep time on drums, David is okay on bass, and America is solid at screaming. They've played four shows and they like to fuck around in David's garage until his mom yells at them, but they are not ready to play at a club like Boomerang. Not even as cover.

Clint lives in the shithole apartment above Boomerang, which is slightly less of a shithole than the club but only because the floor doesn't usually have any stealth broken glass. Kate unlocks the front door with her key, sidles past the superhero gear ranged in milk crates in the foyer, and dodges a trashcan overflowing with bloody gauze and empty cans of Meister Brau. Great. She's going to have to deal with Clint injured and hungover.

"Please," Kate says a few minutes later. "I know that Quire isn't exactly big-time—"

Clint yawns into his armpit, then rolls onto his back and scratches his belly. He's lying on the broad plank he claims is a couch despite the fact it is merely covered in a tattered blanket that is not quite long enough to hide the fact the plank is balanced on two sawhorses. "Is he out of middle school?"

Kate crosses her arms. "He's creeping on girls at shows, I don't exactly care how old he is."

"What are you guys going to do? Put the fear of God into him?" Clint says.

"Well," Kate says. "Sort of."

America is really into planning. Not like Loki is into planning, because he gets pissed when his scheming falls flat; America likes to have contingency plan after contingency plan because whatever the Young Avengers decide to do immediately goes to shit 99% of the time. "Quentin is a formidable opponent," America says, hanging her jacket on the back of Kate's desk chair. "We should be prepared for failure."

"He has, like, every psychic power," Kate points out as she unbuttons her jeans. "We're basically counting on Loki to distract him for five seconds before you punch him in the head. This is a terrible plan."

America shrugs. "If I can't surf the crowd, Noh-Varr will do it for us." And get kicked out by Barney, probably, but okay. "Or we'll call Xavier himself."

"I think that would offend Clint's honor," Kate says.

"We could call Doreen," America says after a moment. Squirrel Girl is the only undefeated superhero in the northern hemisphere; she's also America's ex-girlfriend. The breakup was not exactly amicable.

Kate unties her halter top and says, "Let's not talk about Doreen."

The Young Avengers' band is also called The Young Avengers, because they're very subtle. They've written three songs together: "Destroy You," "Superpowered," and "Unnatural Love," which, given the percentage of people in the band with the same equipment fucking each other, you might think was about gay liberation, but actually chronicles the time Loki read them the juicy parts of Flowers in the Attic on a trip up the coast. Clint has set them up to open for Some Assholes, a hardcore trio from DC that is best known for stripping down to their jockstraps mid-set and crowdsurfing, so that's going to go well.

"I'm ready," Teddy says backstage, which is real convincing when he's clutching his guitar to his chest like he's Buffy and it's Mrs. Beasley.

Billy leans in and cups his cheek. "You are actually green around the gills, babe."

As Teddy reaches his hand to his neck and grimaces, America shoulders past him toward the stage. She's paired her trademark jacket with leather pants and Liberty spikes, and, yeah, Kate's totally going to hit that if they survive this showdown. America turns at the threshold, catching Kate's glance. "We're going to rock this, chica," she says, and then, "All of us."

"Punk rock this," David says.

"We're going to die," Kate says cheerfully.

While the crowd at Boomerang might not be pumped for shitty garage punk, they are totally down for stage dives. Kate can't make out Quire among the audience, but America spots him readily enough. She shoves the mic stand toward Teddy and leaps off the stage with her arms spread and eyes wide open. The group at the front of the stage catches her and whoops as Teddy picks up the vocals in a dull monotone, "Up in the attic, up in the attic, staring to panic, yeah, yeah—"

Apparently this crew goes in for stage dives and unenthusiastic chanting, because America gets over to where Quire is in no time, and then… comes back.

Uh, Kate mouths as America hops onto the stage. What?

America nods toward the back of the club. Where Jean Grey and Wolverine are sternly dressing down Quire and—Jean Grey is wearing Loki's combat boots.

Yeah, this definitely isn't going according to plan.

"No one got kicked out, you guys didn't get booed offstage—" Loki says, ticking off items on his fingers. "Quire is scared shitless—"

David raises his eyebrows. "Until he figures out you're not actually X-Men?"

"It was cool being Wolverine," Noh-Varr says as he flags down Boomerang's bartender. "Can I get a bottle of Rolling Rock?"

"Rolling Rock," Kate says disparagingly. "Ugh."

On stage, Some Assholes are alternating between howling into the microphone, shredding, and cutting their clothes off with razor blades. On Kate's right, Billy and Teddy are making moon eyes at each other, status quo. On Kate's left— "Miss America Chavez, that was quite some stage dive."

America grins. "You liked that, huh?"

"Let's get out of here." Kate puts her hand on America's shoulder and leans in to say, "I'll show you just how impressed I am."