1. "Ok, and just hold out your arm, lemme get that cuff straight... Perfect!" Grace stepped back and smiled, nodding decisively. "That's going to look great."
"Under the armor, sure, fine, just as long as this stuff doesn't chafe," Mr. Stark said, stretching out from one side to the other, testing the way the closely-fitted flightsuit felt against his skin. "I don't know if I can reiterate the agony of being encased in world-saving tech and having an itch you can't scratch."
"Under the armor?" Grace said faintly.
"Yeah. I really didn't have the time to make this myself, but I think this'll work. JARVIS, button me up, let's see if I can get to Malibu without wanting to rip my skin off at the end of the trip."
Grace tried to keep herself from shrieking in dismay as the Iron Man armor covered every well-tailored seam and crushed the perfect folds she'd spent hours getting to look just right on Mr. Stark's form. In seconds the armor had completely obscured the special commission, rush-order, A-1 top priority uniform that had kept Grace up for days without sleep.
"Ooo," Mr. Stark said, keeping his faceplate up so she could see his eyes widen. "Silk lining around the junk. You do love me!"
"You did specify that, Mr. Stark," Grace said through clenched teeth, feeling a little miffed that she'd had to use the special order silk apparently purely for Mr. Stark's genital pleasure.
"Well, gotta dash. Things happening, stuff exploding, all that jazz. This thing is fireproof, right?”
Before Grace could even get her wits together to answer that, Mr. Stark was already gone, flying out their stairwell and nearly decking Jay. Luckily he’d saved the precious Starbucks, or she would have had to kill him.
“Oh, sweetie,” Jay said in understanding when he saw Grace’s crumpled face.
“He covered it up!” Grace wailed, before drowning her sorrows in a white chocolate mochaccino.
2. "Liquid uniforms?" Agent Romanov said, her tone dangerously low.
"You see, you just break the capsule over your head, and the bio-nanos go right to work! They imitate armor flex-weave with no pinching or heavy fabric, and it takes just seconds to put on! Then you don’t have to worry about whether or not you have your armor on you when you’re in the field,” Harold said, pushing his glasses back up his nose in his enthusiasm.
Behind him, Jay and Grace held their breath as Vera edged towards the door. They could never tell exactly how the Black Widow was going to react. The catsuit they’d designed for her a few years ago had gone over well, but there was a rumor that their predecessors at F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. had suggested something with a little more décolleté than she’d wanted. Which was why all of them had been hired within the last five years.
Jay didn’t believe that. Not really. Surely no S.H.I.E.L.D. agent would wantonly murder an entire (if small) division of harmless fashion experts, would she?
Then Agent Romanov’s eyes narrowed, and he desperately wished he were next to Vera.
“Do these work on anyone, or just me?”
“Ah, the bio-nanos are tailored to you, but they’d probably work for anyone of approximately the same size and shape. I wouldn’t try it on Thor, unless you want to see him in a singlet.”
Grace’s eyes glassed over for a minute as she contemplated that beautiful mental image. Jay joined her briefly.
“And how, exactly, did you tailor these things to me?” Agent Romanov said, shaking the capsule.
“Wait, those are just the prototype capsules, don’t shake-!”
Too late. The capsule burst all over the Black Widow, dissolving through her clothes and forming around her curves. Except with the “bursting,” some of the bio-nanos had escaped to lie, pooled and confused, on the floor. Thusly leaving the Black Widow in a very brief version of her usual armor that barely covered the essentials.
“Oh God,” Harold whispered, color draining from his face.
The Black Widow shot them all a look that froze them to the marrow of their bones, and stalked out silently.
“I’m gonna die!” Harold wailed.
“Ten bucks says by tomorrow,” Grace said.
“Give the lady some credit. By five p.m.,” Jay said.
3. Vera tried not to bang her head on the desk.
“How many times is this?”
Jay ticked off on his fingers, twice. “Twenty-one.”
“We tried the Spandex.”
“Twice. Shredded like tissue pepper.”
“Didn’t stand up to a grenade launcher.”
“The Flexy Flex-Weave.”
“Came off during the Underminer Incident. Never found.”
“The liquid pants.”
“We never speak of the liquid pants!” Grace and Harold chorused from the other side of the room.
“Then the unstable molecule briefs that Dr. Richards came up with.”
“God, those were hideous. That shade of blue with the Hulk’s coloring? Glad he abraded those off in the mission in the Rockies.”
“And the Pym particle pants.” Vera shuddered. “I can’t believe how long those lasted. That shade of orange should be outlawed.”
“Thanks goodness for Dr. Doom. Ok, so what are we down to? Or rather, what do we have left to give him this time?” Jay asked.
Vera sighed. “Asgardian chainmail briefs.”
Jay goggled. “Wow.”
“There’s just a little problem. Or make that a big problem.”
Jay winced pre-emptively. “What?”
Vera sighed. “We have to measure the Hulk. In detail.”
Jay blanched and Vera was still banging her head on the desk when Dr. Banner showed up for his appointment.
4. “…and that should just about do it, Agent Barton!” Jay said proudly, smoothing down the lines of the jacket. “Give it a try.”
Agent Barton turned to the side and scooped up his stunt bow they kept in the shop for him, drawing back the string and dry-firing a half-dozen times at different angles. Jay grinned when the hidden panels of the tuxedo jacket let him move however he wanted, able to fire at bad guys all night and still be able to tango afterwards.
“Not bad,” he said, an ultimate compliment from the oft-taciturn Agent Barton. Well, at least he was taciturn with F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.; Jay had heard rumors from the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents upstairs that apparently Barton was a snarky, bantering, darkly-humorous rogue that could fence words with Mr. Stark all day long. And often did. Jay sighed; they didn’t let them out for much more than coffee nowadays.
“This is waterproof, right? I got to make a wet exit from this gig.”
Jay’s face fell a mile.
“Then I’m gonna be going through about three miles of forest to get to the extraction point.”
And another half mile.
“This guy uses wolves to do his tracking, just so you know.”
Jay’s face finished the hundred-yard dash to the finish line of full-blown disappointment.
“So this is more or less gonna be a write-off at the end of the night. I’ll need some spares.”
Trying not to whimper, Jay turned back to the fabricator.
5. “Harold, tell me you’ve repaired armor before.”
“Yes. I. Have,” Harold said with a grunt, bracing with both feet as he tugged at the metal shards stuck in Thor’s breastplate. One came free, and he tumbled to the floor, waving his pair of pliers with triumph. “Got it!”
“Well, we have to get a lot more. That one was really shallow,” Grace said, looking at the breastplate with dismay. There were dozens of the things, flung there from who-knows-what. “Can’t we just scrap it and start over?”
“You saw what the Black Widow did to Harold, right?” Vera said softly. “He limped for a week, and that was just for an accident. This armor’s from Thor’s home. We scrap it-.”
“-He scraps us, got it,” Grace said, and put her hands on her hips. “Well, we’ve got to these stupid things out.”
“I got it!” Jay crowed from the doorway. He triumphantly wheeled in-.
“A jackhammer?” Vera said, incredulous.
“Dear Director Fury, in our annual budget we need two fabricators, six industrial-strength sewing machines, one armor-weave loom, assorted pins and needles, and a few construction tools,” Harold muttered. “We’re never going to get that departmental pizza party.”
“Shut your face, we’re working. Come on, do you want the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. to go on thinking we’re just the joke department in the basement?” Grace said. “Harold, fire up the forge. Jay, plug that puppy in. Vera, hammer and tongs. We gotta do some major surgery.”
“I just had my nails done,” Vera bemoaned.
“Make it work!” Jay said, gritting his teeth as he manhandled the jackhammer into position.
+1. “Is this… um… F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.?”
Grace looked up from her worktable to take in the lovely sight of Captain Rogers in the doorway of her department.
“Fabric And Bio-Uniform Logistic Operations Underground Support!” she chirped proudly, hoping against hope he wouldn’t have something too insanely impossible for them to do today. She’d already done her six impossible things before coffee, and needed another before she heard another insane request.
“I understand you guys were the one that made my uniform.”
“Yes, we all did. Grace, Jay, Harold, and me,” Vera piped up, hoping to spread the heat around (if it was a complaint) or spread the love (if someone had actually come here with a compliment, not that that had ever happened).
“Who did what?” he asked, and Jay sided in place over by the sewing tables. The idea of getting individually and personally chewed out by Captain America was not going to make his morning.
“Ah, Grace did most of the design, I did the utility belt and accessories, Harold did the fabric and armor reinforcements, and Vera put everything together and did the headgear.”
And Captain Rogers smiled. Genuinely, brightly smiled. Grace wanted to capture that megawatt smile and use it to illuminate her apartment.
“Thanks, Grace. It looks wonderful, even better than I had back in the day, and people really respond to that. I’m proud to suit up every day,” he said, clasping her hand.
“Jay, thank you. I’ve had everything I’ve needed and everything I didn’t know I needed. I’ve never been caught without the essentials.” He smiled. “Or the luxuries. Thanks for putting the chocolate bar in there.”
“Harold, I’ve been spared a whole lot of hurt because of you. Thank you. I might not have made it back a few times without the suit.”
“Vera, the uniform feels great, it’s tough as nails, and that helmet has saved me no end of trouble in the field. Thank you so much.”
The four members of F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. gaped at Captain Rogers as he clasped each of their hands in turn.
“Uh, um, well, you’re welcome!” Grace managed finally. “Really!”
“I just wanted to be sure you weren’t being taken for granted. The others were saying they’ve been working you guys pretty hard recently. Natasha says she’s ready for those capsules, if you’ve managed to fix the shaking problem.”
Harold continued to gape as he walked his hand over to a drawer, opened it, and handed over the container.
“Thanks guys. Keep up the great work,” Captain Rogers said, and turned to go. And then turned back. “Actually, I have one more question if you don’t mind, because I think you guys would know best… There’s a party I’m supposed to go to, I need a tuxedo, and I really would rather not use Tony’s tailor, so do you know a good place to go?”
“Oh, Captain,” Grace said, confidence coming back as she rose from her workbench, a tape measure in her hands and a satisfied gleam in her eye. The others gathered around as her intentions became clear. A tux for Captain America? A plain (yet stylish, that went without saying), party-going, non-indestructible tux? The universe must love F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. today. “You came to the perfect place.”
Sometimes she really loved her job.