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On Monday the public figures out that nobody’s seen Tony Stark, Captain America, the Hulk, or the Black Widow in nearly a week, and everything goes apeshit.

“For the last time, it wasn’t my fault!” Tony shouts.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Go-out-and-get-laid,” Clint snaps back. “You have a fucking arc reactor on your chest, of course someone was going to figure out it was you!”

“Hey!” Tony yells. “Unlike you, who I can only assume has not been laid in a very long time, I have enough experience with women to know how to make wearing a shirt look sexy! I know how to hide my own fucking arc reactor! If you want to talk about conspicuous, let’s talk about the guy who destroyed a fucking playground!”

“Look,” Bruce says placatingly. “We live high-profile lives, it was bound to happen eventually. Let’s try to focus on - “

“You shut up,” Tony says snidely. “It might help if you could learn how to walk straight, you actually look like somebody.”

“For the last time, it’s harder than it sounds - “


“If you’re all quite done?” Steve says pleasantly, and there’s the steel that’s been missing from his voice since this whole fiasco began. Also, apparently even as a ninety-pound weakling Steve still has the strength to heave his shield up onto the table. That’s good to know.

“You’re just jealous because the hot playground moms all gave me their numbers,” Clint says to Tony, much more calmly.

“Yeah, so they could sue you for damages,” Tony retorts. “...How hot?”

Coulson coughs pointedly. They settle down, looking innocent. One of the things Clint has always liked best about Tony is his ability to go all-out in a really satisfying shouting match and then get over it the next minute.

“Girl-on-girl is even better as a participant, by the way,” Tony says, because the idea of not pushing his luck is a foreign concept to him.

Okay,” Coulson says, glaring at them all. “The public has noticed your conspicuous absences. I don’t care if it was someone’s fault. I care about fixing it.”

Bruce clears his throat. He still looks a little miffed by the fight. “Unfortunately, I think our best option is still Loki. In terms of a permanent solution, I mean.”

Coulson waves this off. “I don’t care about permanent right now, I care about short-term.”

“All right,” Steve says. “Short-term... Bruce, how long can you fake being Natasha from a distance?”

Bruce winces. “Probably not long. I think I can manage walking like she does for a little bit as long as I don’t have to wear high heels. Or lean over. Or turn.”

“Okay. I’m sure we’ll have some paparazzi soon - “

“Southeast corner,” Tony says absently, fiddling with his phone. “They set up about fifteen minutes ago. Trying to take advantage of the fence Bruce busted after that thing in May.”

“Great. If we get somebody to do your hair and makeup, Bruce, could you handle going out on the balcony and not making it look too obviously staged?”

“Yes?” Bruce says uncertainly. Clint winces.

“Okay,” Steve smiles at him reassuringly. It’s oddly endearing on his scrawny face. “If Natasha can do the same - “

“No,” Clint says immediately. “Just asking’s going to set her off.”

Bruce and Tony look at him questioningly. Clint smiles a little.

“Trust me, no matter how professional you are, when you get an assignment your heart races. This counts as an assignment.” Coulson nods in agreement.

“Okay, that’s out,” Steve says regretfully. “Still, that plus a few more Iron Man appearances and - Clint, if you could patrol as Hawkeye? - that might buy us a little time.”

“I can plant somebody in a press conference so we can answer ‘no comment’ to a question about ongoing undercover operations,” Coulson says. “We can leak some pictures of Captain America out of the country somewhere, too - the politicians love to jump all over that.”

“It’s worth a shot,” Steve says. “Okay. Now it’s just a question of helping Loki fix all this - “

“ - And hoping nobody calls our bluff before we’re done,” Coulson finishes grimly.