My lovely, talented, and gorgeous beta @saved-by-the-notepad convinced me to post part 1 of the casino!AU that I’ve been working on for over a year now so…*throws it at you and then runs away*
Steve didn’t mean to become friends with Tony; it just sort of happened. It seems like one day he was a faceless dealer at Extrema, the next he was getting drunk with a billionaire genius. He knows what caviar tastes like now (he doesn’t like it) and he’s seen the Strip skyline at night from 60 stories up in a penthouse (that he does like). Most importantly, he knows Tony and Tony was the one that he got drunk with when the days were rough.
They met through Tony’s complete disregard for professional attire on the floor. Steve walked into one of the staff rooms, fresh off the floor, late one night after most of the dealers were either out working or had gone home. Tony was sitting at a table, looking at a deck of Skip-Bo despondently. It’s not like Steve could recognize Tony instantly; this scruffy-haired, goateed man dressed in dark washed jeans and a worn AC/DC shirt looked nothing like the polished, playboy Tony Stark the media portrayed.
Steve thought the man looked vaguely familiar and just assumed he was a new dealer who had recently moved. With that, Steve glanced again at the Vaguely Familiar Sad Man. Due to his promotion, he and Bucky had just moved to Las Vegas in the last few weeks; maybe he and Sad Man could become work buddies.
Years later, he would freely admit that the tantalizing curve of the man’s neck and sparkle in his eyes was the main motivation that prompted Steve to offer to play a game of Skip-Bo with Sad Man instead of his determination to believe that his sole motivation was to make a new friend.
Soon they had played 4 games and were well on their way through a 5th, with Steve quickly learning that this man’s beatific smile made Steve’s heart beat dangerously quickly. Sad Man had introduced himself by this point as “Tony”, quirking his lips for some reason at Steve’s casual response. Steve had reciprocated with his own name, throwing off his casino mandated branded tie and unbuttoning his white button down. He couldn’t help but notice the way Tony’s eyes fixated on his collarbone and the little quiet, breathy noise that betrayed Tony’s thoughts.
Flirting with people he had just met was not ordinarily something Steve did, especially after Afghanistan and Bucky, and certainly not with men. But with Tony, he found himself saying things that could only be described as playful just to watch Tony’s mouth curve upwards in response. It was worth it to watch Tony’s dark eyes twinkle with mischief as he started to casually throw out innuendos that made Steve’s neck and ears turn red.
Tony had fixed Steve with a look of intent, pausing in the game, when a tall, blonde, female force of nature came sweeping through the door to the staff room yelling, “Tony! This is exactly what we talked about!”
Tony paled and jumped to his feet, assuming a nonchalant stance. “Carol! What a surprise.”
The woman, Carol, glared and crossed her arms, her biceps stretching the striped material of her blazer in a very intimidating way. “Just because you’re mad at me doesn’t mean you get to shake me off in order to…” she gave Steve a calculating look. “flirt.”
Steve’s heart was pounding; he had completely given the wrong impression. He knew that he had to be careful but it was just so easy with Tony.
“Can’t a man just spend time playing games?” Tony tried, widening his eyes in mock innocence.
“Not when he was supposed to be at a conference explaining this and not down here in his employee’s break room!” Carol shook the new promotion flyer for the gaming expo Tony Stark was hosting next week at Extrema.
Steve whipped his head around, pointing an accusing finger at Tony. “You’re Tony Stark!” Tony had the audacity to look amused.
“The pleasure’s all yours.” He leaned across the table and grasped Steve’s finger, shaking it like a typical handshake as Steve continued to gape. Steve tried to wrap his head around the fact that the scruffy man in front of him was not only his boss, but the richest and most well-known casino owner in the world, not to mention a mathematical genius. After mentally running through the past few hours, Steve realized that he maybe should not have flirted so much with a technical genius and panic began to form in the pit of his stomach. Tony frowned at the look on Steve’s face and snapped his fingers in front of him.
“Stop harassing your employees with, god what is that? Skip-Bo? Dammit, Tony, I thought you had better taste than that.” Carol gave several purposeful tugs on the back of Tony’s shirt until he began to walk.
“He volunteered.” Tony grumbled, walking out of the room with Carol following close behind.
Their good-natured bickering faded away as the door closed behind them and Steve was left sitting in the break room, still half in his work uniform and staring at a half-finished game of Skip-Bo, wondering what the hell just happened.
A thing is that I happen to think it’s one of the most underrated Caryl scenes that exists.
The backdrop to what’s happening here is so important, because for all of us who ship it like Fedex, it’s easy to get lost in the shippy perfection of this episode and forget where the ep fits into the larger context of the show.
Carol has been banished by Rick, spent three and a half minutes thinking maybe life could be “normal” for a second, found Lizzie standing over Mika’s dead body, shot Lizzie, and offered her own life to Tyreese as atonement for killing Karen and David (not to mention killing a bunch more people in order to save all of Team Family at Terminus).
Daryl has watched Hershel be murdered, thought he and Beth were safe for three and a half minutes, hung out with the nighmarish Claimers, offered up his own life to save Rick, Michonne, and Carl, and been about thirty seconds away from having his throat slashed so he could watch his own life bleed away in a trough.
They’ve had a rough couple of weeks.
But then we get the quiet of this ep, and the entire episode takes place pretty much in two layers. First, there’s the obvious action – the plot. But beneath that surface so many currents are flowing, both Carol and Daryl simmering with emotions they’re not yet willing to directly address.
This tiny scene functions at face value as some amusing banter, a way to lighten the tone of what in so many ways is a deeply somber, sad episode. (Every time I watch it I pretty much want to marry Bear McCreary, omg the music.) Daryl hilariously mocks the painting, and Carol – most likely just to be contrary, although perhaps she merely has interesting taste in art – insists that she likes it.
And that’s where level two comes in. When he says “Stop” in response to her insistence that she actually appreciates the painting, she replies with, “I’m serious. You don’t know me.” She only uses those four words, but what she really means is:
“You have no idea about the terrible things I’ve done. If you knew the choices I’ve made – if you could see everything – you’d probably be running away at top speed, because at this point even I can’t be sure I’m not a monster who deserves to burn in hell forever.”
Without missing a beat, Daryl responds with, “Yep, you keep tellin’ yourself that.” But what he really means is:
“I’m fully aware by now that I don’t know the whole story of what happened while we were separated. But I know your heart inside and out, and no matter what you think you’ve done – no matter what kind of horrifying punishment you think you deserve for your imaginary sins – there is nothing in this entire universe that could make me love you any less.”
And she smiles. An absolutely for real smile.
Because although she’s not even close to forgiving herself, there is some kind of bone-deep comfort in Daryl’s words, in the knowledge that he will always believe in her, even when she’s lost all faith and ability to believe in herself.
She can’t love herself in this moment, but this tiny exchange shows her that he unquestionably still can.
>Picking up right after the events of season three “Ultron Revolution,” the fourth season finds Tony Stark trapped in another dimension. While the Avengers muster all of their knowledge and strength to try and find a way to bring him back, they are attacked by a new Cabal of villains who scatter the mighty heroes across space and time. With the help of the Black Panther’s new team, including Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Ant-Man, Wasp and Vision, the Avengers must reunite in time to save the universe.
>Disney XD will also present a series of six shorts featuring the newest Avengers – Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, Ant-Man, Wasp and Vision – in a flashback sequence that introduces their powers, beginning FRIDAY, JUNE 2, on Disney XD, the Disney XD App, Disney XD YouTube and VOD.
Actually excited to write more Bad Seed Rising now!
So happy I’m motivated again, I was really struggling just because I wasn’t really sure how to make the plot go where I wanted to but after a discussion with @yokaishinari I think I might be back on track.
Really hope you guys like where I’m going to take this. New chapter will be posted tonight.
So she wasn’t Leonard’s match, after all. Carol’s thoughts were in a jumble as she watched the doctor grieve. It was a horrible tangle of guilt, sadness and envy for the closeness the two of them shared.
Jim had given his life for them in a very painful way. She was sorry that she hadn’t been able to have that drink with him, figure out what made that fascinating mind tick. He’d really annoyed her at first, but she’d quickly seen that he Christine’s description of him had been inaccurate. Their misunderstanding had clearly led to a warped perspective and Jim the Captain wasn’t like Jim the Playboy.
The haze of gloom was suddenly pierced by Leonard barking orders and calling for a cryotube.
Once she understood what the goal was, Carol jumped into action as they prepared to put Jim into cryostasis. It was a desperate reach, but she’d do anything to help Leonard and take that awful pain out of his eyes.
With a careful hand, she began cutting at Jim’s shirt, listening to Leonard telling Uhura to make sure Spock brought Khan back alive.
The pieces of his black undershirt sleeve fell away and her eye caught what looked like a tattoo on his arm. A closer look revealed it to be her own name in her handwriting and she gasped before composing herself.
“So that’s what he meant when he said it’s complicated,” she muttered to herself, “what a mess.”
Leonard barely even glanced up to see what she’d observed and made a face.
“That’s putting it mildly. But it’s not your fault. Someone Up Above got their wires crossed.”
With a ripping sound, Jim was relieved of the rest of his clothes and Leonard called for a nurse to help him hoist the body into the prepared cryotube, its recently vacated occupant on another bed, kept in a coma. Carol was stunned by the ugly bruises that covered his torso and legs from the beatings he’d taken by both Klingons and Khan. She swallowed hard as he was sealed in the tube and tapped in the activation sequence.
“I hope it’s not too late,” she whispered. “We have a lot of unfinished business, Captain. You are much to young to leave us.”
Exhaustion overtook her and she swayed in place.
“Whoa there, Dr. Marcus,” Leonard said, supporting her. “You shouldn’t be standing so long yet.”
He guided her over to his chair and made her sit down. Carol didn’t protest. The adrenaline rush had evaporated and she was worn out.
“Leonard, you’ll let me know how it goes? I’m going to try to get some rest, I think.”
Carol fled the place well before Khan was brought in. If she ever saw his creepy face again, she’d probably pull a Kirk on him and punch that smug expression right off of it.