embellished masks

concept: fitzsimmons grow old together, but they don’t explain very much about their past as secret agents which makes them adorable but a little eccentric. 

sometimes at reunions and holidays they’re so cute and in love that they get asked how they met and they start fitzsimmonsing about how they met in school when they were two young prodigies. and how they were clueless lab partners. and fitz will insist he was in love with her the whole time since they met. then Jemma will say it took him long enough to tell her. And he’ll say he had to figure it out first and then work up the courage to actually tell her. but she’ll say he was nothing but brave when he finally did. And then she’ll say it took her a while to realize she loved him back and by then she was scared she’d lost him. and they’re just talking about when they were young and falling in love… and they completely leave out the whole part about being shield agents. 

and whenever they directly reference something they don’t actually give any context. so their kid(s?) and grandkids are constantly confused and bemused at family reunions when Fitz will interrupt Jemma’s story about how “he would have waited around forever” to defend his slowness with, “Well darling, that was after you had just come back to earth, and I was just glad you were alive. I wasn’t gonna ruin that with all those pesky feelings when I had just gotten you back.” and everyone will think, “Wait is that a metaphor? what do you mean, she came back to earth?” and if someone asks Fitz simply says “Oh Jemma took a little trip to space to get out of going to dinner with me.” and Jemma, who doesn’t actually want to explain, just smiles and pats his shoulder or squeezes his hand as if that’s a perfectly acceptable answer and adds under her breath, “You know I would never want to get away from you, dear.”

Then later Fitz will sacrificially give her the last piece of pie “Take it, Jemma.” And Jemma will roll her eyes and say something like, “Oh, Fitz, don’t be so dramatic! It’s not like we’re trapped under the ocean and you’re giving me the last of the oxygen. We can split the pie.” and people will think she’s just a little creative with her expressions. 

Their past becomes an inside joke of sorts. Not really a joke, but something personal that they’ve embraced and learned to live with… but something they’ve almost fictionalized or turned into myth as a way of not flaunting the truth or glorifying the past… and as a way of keeping people from seeing them differently. People might wonder what on earth Fitzsimmons are talking about, but they always dismiss it. At the least they figure it’s all just teasing, at most they figure they had a little bit of a rocky past that they mask with embellishments so they don’t have to talk about it too much.

So people just think they have this made up way of talking to each other because they can’t actually believe any of it’s literal when Fitz says things like “Hey, if I jumped through a hole in the universe twice, I think I can handle this.” 

Also no one knows how Aunt Daisy came to be Aunt Daisy, but they don’t question it. She is mysterious Aunt Daisy who seems like she is always hiding a secret when pops up at gatherings. She gushes and teases and makes awkward jokes then disappears.

After they pass in their sleep together on their 70th anniversary, the truth comes out… they’re honored by shield and all the stories are told and it all makes sense and everyone has to pick their jaws up off the floor.


Bulgarian Muslims Reviving Old Traditions

In the remote village of Draginovo, Bulgaria, Muslim brides are returning to the old tradition of gelina, or face painting, to mark their transition into married life.

Emilia Pechinkova is one of those young Muslim brides. The 24-year-old is a Slavic Muslim, part of a group often referred to as Pomaks. The elaborate wedding rituals of the Pomaks were suppressed while the country was under communist rule.

In an effort to recapture their forefathers’ customs, Pechinkova and her fiance Tsanko Perchinkov celebrated their love during a traditional three-day wedding ceremony. The festivities were captured by photographer Nikolay Doychinov on April 22 and 23.

During the gelina, Pomak brides are painted over with a thick cosmetic creme mask called belilo. An expert make-up artist spends up to two hours applying the mask and embellishing it with sequins arranged in floral patterns. Then, the artist applies lipstick and darkens the bride’s eyebrows. The bride’s family put her dowry on display in the room.

In order to keep the mask intact for the next several hours, the bride usually keeps her face very still. After an imam says a blessing, she is escorted by her family members out of her childhood home and to her groom’s house, where her husband will take off her makeup.

Although these rituals have been part of Pomak culture for years, they were suppressed during the time that Bulgaria was a satellite state of the Soviet Union. According to Reuters, the regime at that time tried to force Muslims to adapt the traditions of the country’s majority Christian Orthodox population. The traditional Pomak wedding ceremony was reportedly banned and was only resumed after the end of the communist era.

Today, Muslims are the largest minority religion in Bulgaria, making up about 8 percent of the population.

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Show Yourself (Tony Stark x reader)

Request: Tonyxreader were Tony has a masquerade ball & tony finds the reader at the bar & he offers her to dance & later on their outside on the balcony and they revile themselves (they both like each other but to afraid to admit it) fluffy & cute :-)

Here you go, doll!  Hope you enjoy!!  

Today was the biggest day of your career; Tony Stark had hired your catering company to provide service for his annual masquerade ball at the Avengers tower.  You had spent months preparing, choosing a menu that had eclectic selections for the different personalities on the team, who themselves likely had friends who were equally as diverse.  Tony had only spoken to you a few times about some of the specific details that he had wanted, otherwise most of the planning was handled by his employees.  During your meetings he was always very polite, thankful, and very, very handsome. You had definitely looked forward to meeting with him, but you knew he was too far out of your league for anything other than admiring from a distance.  He was about to arrive any minute now for a final check-in before you packed up and brought your staff to the tower.  

“Ok, so the bar has been fully stocked already, right?”  

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good.  You can go ahead and load the dessert trays into the truck, and I’ll put the appetizer racks into my car.  We should be able to leave in about ten minutes.”

Everything had been going to plan so far, and you were just waiting for Mr. Stark to arrive. Glancing at your phone you nervously awaited any sign of him; today was not the day to run late for anything. You decided to give him a call when he finally walked thru the door.  His calm demeanor was the opposite of the stress and anxiety you were feeling inside, and you tried your best to not let it show so he would have no reason to worry about your ability.

“Hello, Mr. Stark, it’s good to see you again.  I think we have everything ready to go and we’re just finishing packing up.  I was able to get everything you asked for.”

He casually walked past the rack of appetizers and peeled back the lid of the top tray, pulling out a shrimp and popping it in his mouth.  “Not everything I asked for.  I asked you a long time ago to call me Tony.”

“Tony, yes, sorry.” Quickly stepping past him you folded the top of the tray back down and pushed the cart towards the door.  “So, Tony, is there anything else you can think of before we get this fabulous party underway?”

“Yeah, about that, all this time and I can’t believe that there’s one huge thing that I’ve totally forgotten.  I just hope it’s not too late to make it happen.  It would really ruin the whole night if we can’t.”

You mentally ran thru everything that the two of you had planned for the party.  You were able to secure every type of alcohol he had requested, even that ridiculously expensive $2500 per bottle of champagne that he wanted. You made every appetizer, dinner item and dessert that each Avenger had asked for, and more.  What could he possibly have missed?  “Sorry, but I don’t follow.  What did you forget?”

“I would like to invite you.”

“But I’m already going to be there, Mr. Stark.  I mean…Tony.”

“Well I would prefer to see you there as my guest.  I think you’ve done enough work, don’t you?  You’ve earned some fun.”  He walked towards the door to leave, again stealing a shrimp from the tray.  “Remember, it’s a masquerade ball.  No revealing who you are until the end.”  He threw the shrimp into his mouth and waved a quick goodbye.  “Damn, I’ve got good taste,” he mumbled as the door closed behind him.

There was exactly zero time for this.  Driving to the tower, unloading, and setting up was planned perfectly to finish just as the party was to start.  How would you possibly pull this off?  You didn’t want to seem unappreciative to Tony, and really wanted to accept the invitation, but you didn’t think there was any way to pull it off.

“Excuse me?”  The arrival of a delivery pulled you from your thoughts, which weren’t really helping you figure out what to do anyway. “I have a delivery for a Miss (Y/N) (Y/L/N).”

“That’s me.”  The delivery boy was holding a large box with a note on top.  Curiously, you took the note from the top and opened it.

Don’t worry, I didn’t look.  I won’t know it’s you.


You gasped as you opened the box to reveal a pink and silver ball gown with a matching mask embellished with pink and clear stones.  Pulling out the mask and holding it to the light, you marveled at their clarity and sparkle.  It was intricate and beautiful.

“Do you think these are real?  They can’t be real, right?”

“I’m not sure, ma’am. I just do deliveries.”

Nodding quietly, you signed for the package and hurried to get your own deliveries done so you could prepare for what would surely be the best party of your life.


I’m so good.

Surveying the party, it looked like everyone was having a great time.  Since you were hidden by your mask, you could only overhear the positive comments about your catering and about the work your team was doing. It was a bit awkward, though, mingling with a team of superheroes.  It was easy to guess which person was Captain America and which was Thor, just by their size alone.  The rest were a bit more difficult, and you had a pretty good idea of who they were, but you had yet to try to figure out where Tony was.

“This is easily the best party Stark has ever thrown, right?”

You turned from your drink to address the man behind you, who had quickly moved to sit at the bar next to you.  “I should say so.  It’s very impressive, indeed.  I’m sure he’s quite proud of himself, knowing him.”

“Yeah, that guy’s really full of himself.  I mean, he’s not as bad as he used to be, I’ll give him that.”  The masked man grabbed your empty glass and gestured to get the bartender’s attention.  “Can we please have another?  I’ll take the same.”

“Are you trying to get me drunk?  I don’t even know who you are,” you scoffed as he handed you a refilled glass.  “By the looks of it I won’t even get to find out for another two hours.  I really should trust the man who might end up carrying me out of here.”

“Woah, slow down.  How about a dance first?”  He grabbed your hand to pull you towards the floor as you slammed your drink back in one swallow.  “Wow, now who’s impressive?”

You laughed, already feeling the effects of the liquor as it warmed your throat and chest.  “Do you realize how much Stark paid for this stuff? I’m gonna get as much as I can before this night is over!”

The man spun you as you entered the dance floor, and pulled you in tightly to him with his hand gently on the small of your back.  You causally rested your hand on his shoulder as he held the other, swaying to the slow and mesmerizing music.  There was a strange familiarity with him, but you couldn’t place it.  Certainly you didn’t know anyone in this crowd, so you just shook off the feeling and enjoyed the moment with whoever this was.  As you continued to dance thru several songs, the warmth from the drink had now made you relaxed and the stress of the day was completely gone.  

“You smell nice.”

“Haha, you’re getting drunk!” he laughed.

“No, not yet.  Just enjoying the moment.”  

“Well, if we’re going to exchange pleasantries, you smell nice too.  And I must say, you look very beautiful.”

You gave him a skeptical look, even thru your mask, “You can’t even see all of my face, you liar.”

“Let’s remedy that then, shall we?”  He released his hold on you and took your hand, leading you towards the balcony.

“Hey, Stark said we can’t reveal ourselves until the party’s over!”

The man continued to pull you along, not worried about the details.  “Yeah, screw that guy, right?  Who listens to him anyway?”


“You go first.”

“No, you go first. This was your idea to be a rule breaker.”  You crossed your arms over your chest, determined to see his face before you revealed yourself.  “There’s still a lot of party time left, so if this ends poorly I can keep working on finding Stark before I give myself away.”

He stepped closer to you, taking both of your hands in his.  His voice became low and deeper now as he spoke.  “Why would you want to find him?”  The close proximity to him was exciting, but you didn’t want that to interfere with your thinking.  He held your hands against his chest as he looked down at you, waiting for your reply.

“I…I don’t know…why.”

“Are you interested in him?” His fingers slid down to your wrist, feeling your pulse.  “Ah, you are.  I felt your heartbeat speed up just now.  Do you think he’s interested in you?”  Despite his questions of your interest in another man, he held his position close to you, his grip on your hands just a little tighter.

“I’m…um, I don’t know.” Your voice faltered as you stammered, and you lowered your gaze as you began to feel uncomfortable with the conversation.

He released one of your hands and reached up to remove his mask.  You looked up and gasped at the revelation of who he was, covering your mouth in shock.

“Tony.  Oh my god, Tony, it’s you.”

He released your other hand and reached up to remove your mask as you stared at him in shock, not trying to stop him.  

“I knew it.”

As quickly as the mask was gone, Tony held your face in his hands and leaned in to kiss you.  He kissed you like a man who knew what he wanted, and knew how to get it.  You pulled him closer to you as you realized that you too had wanted this all along. When he finally pulled back, he smiled and laughed a bit, remembering your earlier conversation.

“So, that Stark guy, huh? God, he sounds awful.”