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Thread Contributor: Justin HallowaySomeone call a doctor, I'm hurt
Marvel Comics-616-ish

155 Posts
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Mike

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#1
Justin's humble abode since being accused by Tony of being a freeloader was... Very humble, but it worked. With all of the people coming and going in the hub, there were shops and facilities that were abandoned here and there, as well as places forever looking for more help, including, he was pleased to find, a clinic. He'd signed on with them, medical services being something that was always in demand, and had in that short month, afforded a small apartment. It wasn't much, but then he didn't have unlimited funds, magic powers, or elves making bedroom eyes at him, so he had to make do with what he could get.

He was, at the moment, up on the roof, and looked like he'd been working out. His new staff was pretty cool, he had to admit. He was good with it, but he needed to be better, and since he needed something to take his mind off the fact that he had let Lori just go off on her own (with six other people, but they didn't count) to some other world, he was practicing. It was ALMOST working, too... But not quite.
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Marvel-MCU-2

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#2
Lori had gone off on a dangerous mission in another world on more than one occasion. she was an Avenger, that was something that they did; just a part of their job. She had never however, left someone behind to go do this before. Today have been different, she had left Justin behind, and she wasn't sure how she felt about that.

She had a lot of conflicting emotions coming home from the mission to rescue the three missing women, she had killed one of her family members, a man she had known most of her life and loved like an uncle, and she had witnessed what the world would be like if not for her family. she had seen the ghosts of that world’s Avengers, the ghost of her parents, her friends, and she had fought alongside them against a powerful sorcerer. she had watched a tiny version of her uncle use magic, and another version of a different uncle step out into the line of fire. it was a lot to deal with.

What she really wanted to do right now, was find Justin, curl up on the couch with him, and… She didn't know what else. She didn't even know what they really were, but they were something, and he was the first person she thought of to turn to for comfort. so it was just after getting back that she pulled up to the apartment where she knew he was staying parking out on the street before shutting her motorcycle off, and heading upstairs, her gait a little bit less playful than it usually was. “Justin? Are you home?” She hoped he was... She didn't know where else to go.
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Marvel Comics-616-ish

155 Posts
3 Threads
Age:33
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Mike

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#3
The sound that Justin heard made him turn from where he was running through a series of strikes against the poles on the roof, frowning as he looked around to see what it was and brightening immediately. So that was what a flying motorcycle sounded like. He waited as it got closer… then watched it dip down to the street, apparently not having seen him.

He peered over the edge of the building in time to see her disappearing into the building. Shouldering his staff, he hurried over to the door, his feet skipping over the stairs as he just about jumped down them, catching himself on the doorknob to his floor, throwing the door open in time to see her knocking on his door. “Yes, I am,” he answered from behind her, hurrying over with his keys out, grinning in spite of the fact that she was looking much less than excitably bouncy.

She didn’t look hurt. That was a start, he supposed, but she looked like this had been a particularly rough mission, which he supposed shouldn’t surprise him. Three hostages and an unknown world? That was pretty much a recipe for a nasty time. “Welcome back,” he said, unlocking the somewhat-crooked door and shouldering it loose from the frame. “Sorry I… ah… didn’t go. Which… makes no sense, I might add, I can’t even remember why I just left like that…” He frowned slightly, his eyes losing focus as his mind slipped over that part of his memory that was somewhat messed up by the magic that had affected it. There was only one thing he remembered clearly about his departure… but she wasn’t looking like she was in the mood to pick up where they’d left off on that.
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Marvel-MCU-2

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#4
A flying motorcycle. For real, she had used her wish for a flying motorcycle, and she had gotten an honest to goodness flying motorcycle. It was probably the best wish ever. Lorelei flew the thing directly to Justin’s apartment, but she gunned it and practiced her control over the bike; dipping down and pulling up to gain altitude, making sure she had it down before she arrived at the apartment building. Part of that bit of practice was to make sure she didn’t hurt herself or anyone else when she went to land and park, and part of it was because she didn’t want to look like a novice in case Justin was watching.

She parked without much of a fuss and then headed into the building, heading directly to Justin’s apartment. Going somewhere else, seeking out one of her not-fathers or not-uncles didn’t even occur to her; she was upset, she felt stretched out too thin and the person she wanted to hug and hold her was right here, so here is where she had come.

The familiar voice coming from behind her had her turning around and brightening significantly, happy to see him. “Hey.” Seeing him, Lori grew almost shy, her voice taking a slightly quieter tone as she greeted him. Once he was close enough, she wrapped her arms around him in a hug, not caring at all that he had obviously been working out.

“It’s so good to see you.” It was. The rescue mission had been horrible, the small group had succeeded marvelously really; they had overcome all of the enemies that had crossed their paths, the Iron Mongers, the Hulk, and then finally the sorcerer in black.

“I’m sort of glad you didn’t go.” It was the truth, spoken gently, “It was horrible, Justin. That place, that whole world…” She wasn’t hurt physically, but emotionally...that was a different story. “It wasn’t just you. A lot of people up and left when the old cowboy told them to. Don’t feel bad, Justin.” She leaned forward to hug him again, dropping a kiss on his cheek, “I know if you could have, you would have come. You’re an Avenger, that’s what’s we do.”
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Marvel Comics-616-ish

155 Posts
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Mike

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#5
She obviously hadn’t expected him to be coming up from behind her, and the effect of that surprise was… well, it was adorable. He hugged her back, giving her an extra squeeze as he did that said, plainly, that he was glad to see her. She didn’t seem to be hurt (and he could recognize the signs without examining someone, he was a doctor), so that was good, too… all in all he was going to call this one a win. “It’s good to see you too,” he said, and that was true. He almost said that he hadn’t expected her to be by so soon, but actually, when you got down to it, where was she going to go? They were in the Hub, and everyone she really knew was in another world that, as far as he knew, she still couldn’t access on her own. And while even he forgot it sometimes, the people here weren’t really the people they knew (well, in his case, Wanda and one Tony seemed to be, but that was it). All things considered? He should have expected this.

And, apparently, this one had been really bad, which just made Justin all the more tempted to ask things he should just shut the hell up about. He hugged her again, kissing her forehead when it leaned against his shoulder. “You… want to take this inside?” he asked lightly, smiling a little when she looked up. He unlocked the door, letting her into the apartment that, while unimpressive, he was paying for, which was more than some tin-plated jackasses could say. “So… you want to talk about it?” he asked. It was up to her if she was just going to bury her head and not think about it, after all.
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Marvel-MCU-2

88 Posts
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Nyte

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#6
When you went to someone’s apartment and knocked on their door, you didn’t expect them to come up behind you, no. Lorelei hadn’t called before she’d come, not because she’d thought to surprise him or anything, but because her mind had been preoccupied with getting to someone, somewhere familiar, someone soothing and comforting, not on making sure he’d be home. That hadn’t even actually occurred to her till she’d gotten here and started to knock. She was really usually better put together than this, really she was! He was right, too; Lori had few people in Hub that she was downright familiar and comfortable with; many of the Avengers that resided in the city were too different for comfort but familiar enough to accidentally forget sometimes, and that was a recipe for disaster when you were looking for support and hugs. Justin, however, was a previous unknown who was now ranked amongst her friends, her support group, as small as that group was. So yes, her coming to him might have been expected…

As for the affection he was showering her with? She accepted it gratefully and with as much grace as she could muster, smiling at the kiss to her forehead, “Yeah. Sitting down would probably be nice.” She hadn’t done much of that today, and sitting on her new motorcycle didn’t really count.

The apartment was cozy and comfortable, and really, Lori didn’t care about the rest. He had all the important things a home needed. She slipped her shoes off at the door and moved into the apartment, not exactly ignoring the question, but instead waiting to answer till she had situated herself on the couch, pulling her feet up underneath her and waiting for him to join her before she curled up against him, “It was terrible. They were all dead, Justin. Every single Avenger.” She closed her eyes, her lashes growing moist, “Except for Bruce. He was…” She kept her voice calm and smooth, but she didn’t hide the emotion that thickened the words, “He was old. Miserable. He begged us to kill him; we didn’t know who he was, he didn’t look… He was ancient, Justin, there was a Bucky with us, he did it, but all we accomplished was summoning the Hulk…”

The last words she spoke were almost too quiet to make out, leaving the impression that perhaps maybe he might have misheard her, “I killed him.”
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Marvel Comics-616-ish

155 Posts
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Age:33
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Mike

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#7
Justin set the staff down next to the door, the one thing he had that didn’t really have a place yet, then hung up his cape on its hook above it as he followed her into the apartment, locking the door behind them. The fact that she slid over and cuddled up to him told him just how terrible this mission had been more than anything she could say. True, they weren’t exactly in a physically-unfriendly state of acquaintance anymore, but that wasn’t to say that they were snuggle-buddies (yet). The need for physical comfort was strong in this one, and Justin could only wince at her descriptions.

And, sadly, he couldn’t say he was surprised. In the far future, the only one of them left alive was Banner, one universal constant that he just wished would knock it the hell off. They’d run across a few futures like that, with the Hulk in varying states of antagonism to the rest of the world, one more just made Justin sigh a little. All he could remember was one of the last things he’d heard Thor say, promptly before launching an Asgardian-empowered Hulk into low orbit. ‘You? You’ve always been a pain in the arse.’ Or something like that. The exact wording was hard to catch right now. “I hope you’re going to forgive me for just being glad that when a Hulk showed up, you came out on top,” Justin said. “I’ve seen him rip through the strongest that our world has to offer, and from everything I’ve found out from Friday, my world has a lot more to offer in the way of ‘strongest,’ quantity-wise at least.” The memory of Hulk, having conquered New York, forcing Strange, Tony, Black Bolt and Reed Richards to fight for their lives still held a special dark fascination to him, he had to admit. Still, he hugged her as he said it, he knew that had to be rough. She seemed to be a lot closer to her Banner than he was to his. “I’m sorry, Lori. I don’t even know what to say to this one. It sounds right up on an Ultron level of horrible. Did you get everyone back all right?”
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Marvel-MCU-2

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#8
No, they weren’t exactly snuggle-buddies, not to say that they weren’t definitely heading in that direction, but neither of them had had any particular need for physical comfort. Until now. Typically, Lorelei was fairly happy-go-lucky, optimistic and bright eyed. She’d seen bad missions, and she’d gotten through them with the help of her friends and family. Every Avenger could make much the same claim. But killing one of them? A friend, a member of her family? Lori was not okay with that, even if it had been necessary, even if she had known it was what he wanted, what he would have asked her to do if he’d had the chance…

Didn’t make it okay, not even a little bit.

When Justin said he was just glad that she’d come out on top, Lori gave a watery laugh that ended in what might have almost been a sob in someone else. “In my world,” she told him quietly, “Bruce made the arrowhead. I only had the one. I’d always just assumed I’d only ever need only the one.” She’d retrieved the arrowhead, of course; it was the only like it she had, and she really didn’t want to have to ask for a second one… Not unless she could honestly tell the others that she’d used it as a last resort because she’d ran out of everything else. “He wanted to make sure we had a way of stopping him if it… If it ever became necessary.” Her voice didn’t waver, and she didn’t sob or shake, but tears first welled in her eyes and then spilled over to silently wet her cheeks, “He wouldn’t wanted to have killed everyone, you know? But I didn’t want to kill him, either.”

Did they get everyone back all right?

She shook her head, “We got everyone who wanted to come… But a few stayed behind; they seemed to have another goal, another destination. I hated leaving them.” But she had needed this, and she had been tasked with delivering a message to Tiny Adorable Tony and his Serious Steve. “But she asked me to pass a message to her brother, and everyone else had already gone through the portal…” She didn't move from where she was curled against him, taking the comfort he offered.
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Marvel Comics-616-ish

155 Posts
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Age:33
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Mike

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#9
Christ… Bruce set up his own death? The even worse part about that story (although Justin did appreciate a world where Bruce actually took a role in keeping himself in fucking check) was that now Lori had used the arrow and would need to ask for another, which would give away the fact that she had used that arrow for which there was supposedly only one use. That… would be awkward, to say the very least. “On my world, they shot him into space,” Justin said dryly. Ah, yes, yet another time that Tony’s great decisions had come back to bite them in the ass when he let Reed Richards whisper into his ear. The fact that Strange had been in on it was overlookable, naturally. “They couldn’t think of another way to deal with him, so they shot him into space to another planet to buy themselves time, and I’m willing to be they forgot about it, then. Then a while later, this big ship shows up over Manhattan, and down comes Hulk with the fucking army he’d raised and takes over the island.” Justin shuddered. That memory wasn’t a pleasant one. He’d been completely outclassed, but he’d still been right there in the thick of it… and also, he didn’t know why it was the thought that came up right now. Maybe it was because he was just having a hard time relating to a world where the Hulk was an integral, valued member of the Avengers? The memory of those ‘obedience disks’ that he’d been slapped with took him back from that when he started to think about valuing having the Hulk around.

Pointless reminiscence. He pulled her a little closer, into his lap, sinking back into the couch with her. “Well, if they stayed, that was their call. They must have had some sort of plan, right? I hope they’re all right, but…” He drifted off there, not knowing what he could say that wasn’t going to make him sound like a massive dick. The truth was, once they weren’t being held to anything against their will, if they wanted to go rushing off against their own self-interest, that was their affair. He tried to not let people go get hurt unnecessarily, but he’d long ago learned that some people, you just couldn’t stop from shooting themselves in the foot. Hopefully, there was more to this than the little bit Lori knew.
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Marvel-MCU-2

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Nyte

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#10
Of course Bruce, her Bruce, had worked on a way to stop his more destructive alter ego. Bruce Banner was a gentle soul, and the Hulk had the capacity to do great harm to people. So Bruce had devised a way to put him down should it ever become necessary. And he had given the archers he trusted the means to carry that end out should the need Ever arise. Now, Lori had used that weapon, had killed a Hulk who had lived for so long, and she would need to admit it to a man who was her family, her uncle, that she had killed another. older Version of himself. "Shooting him into space is a really stupid idea." the statement lacked her usual cheerfulness, but that was, under the circumstances, understandable. She snorted when Justin mentioned the army, "Why, exactly, did they shoot him into space in the first place?”

Justin pulled her into his lap; where she might normally flirt or tease today she just opted to snuggle against him. "Yeah, I hope so..." She shook her head, "Her brother seemed pretty distraught. I feel bad for him if nothing else." Lori went quiet for a long moment before she murmured, "It was the right thing to do. He begged us to kill him before he changed. He was a miserable." It had been the right thing to do, the compassionate thing. Right?
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Marvel Comics-616-ish

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#11
The fact that she needed to ask why the Hulk might have been removed from the planet made Justin wonder if she knew a different Hulk than he did. That thought, though, brought him dangerously close to empathizing with Tony Stark, which just hurt his head, so he didn’t go there. “Well, he wrecked a big chunk of Vegas, for one thing, and there just wasn’t a good way to stop him. Don’t ask me to justify it too much, I think that they were idiots for doing it.” That was, after all, right in the middle of Tony’s super-douche phase, and the fact that he was palling around with Richards more than usual probably didn’t help.

Her very obvious bid for affirmation over her actions wasn’t easy for him to answer, and partly highlighted to him the differences between them. He’d been a soldier before he’d been an Avenger, he’d already been acquainted with the idea of killing in battle. Everyone liked to put on airs about Avengers not killing, but the truth was, they all knew that there had been times that someone had done it, had been forced to do it, and he’d very rarely held it against them. All the same, just answering her in the affirmative wasn’t always enough to be reassuring. “Lori, you’re a good person. You have a good heart. If you looked at that situation and couldn’t see any other solution? If you felt that you should do it, that you needed to do it? That should tell you that it was the right thing to do. I think it was, at any rate.”
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Marvel-MCU-2

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#12
Lori's Hulk was... Unique. Yes, he was destructive, and he tended to hit first and ask questions after (if at all), but he wasn't completely mindless. Hulk might smash, but he had saved her dad and pretty much all of the other Avengers plenty of times, too. Justin's description of what the Hulk had done earned a flinch from Lorelei, "That... Sounds horrible."

Lori had been raised as an Avenger. Her parents were Avengers, the team had been her family since she had been a young child, killing was sometimes necessary, she knew that, they all knew it, but it wasn't easy for her. To take down a member of her family was infinitely more difficult. Being told that she was a good person was and wasn't helpful. Had there been another solution? Lon considered the situation before she slowly shook her head. "Not without casualties. Not for him." she went quiet a moment before she continued thoughtfully, "He was old. Older than any human should be able to get. Ancient, withered, and miserable. He asked us to kill him, Justin. I can't imagine not being able to die, to see no end. no out... Bucky - not the one from my world, but still Bucky - tried to. None of us knew who he was. He was angry, of course, but it wasn't just rage, he was confused." She gave him a level look, "People would have died. I couldn't let him do that, not when he wanted to be done. He deserved that much. He deserved to have as little blood on his hands as we could afford him." If she hadn't acted, then Serious Steve would probably have died. She hadn't been able to let that happen.
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Marvel Comics-616-ish

155 Posts
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Mike

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#13
“Yeah, well… Hate to say it, but that’s what we learned to expect from the Hulk. He was good for a good long while, we thought maybe all that was over, but… no. Vegas happened, and I guess they just couldn’t take any more.” He made a little blasting off motion. “Off to space he goes, then back to earth he comes to ruin everyone’s day.”

Justin tried to remember back to what he’d been like before he’d been on his first deployment, but honestly it wouldn’t come to him. That had been a lifetime ago, it felt like, before the Marines, before the Scourges, before the Avengers. Had he been like her? Ever? A part of him hoped so. “You did the right thing, then,” he said. “When it’s a Hulk-level threat? You don’t even have the luxury to think too hard about it, or people will die. It’s that simple. Even now, you can’t think of anything, so… It’s cold consolation, but you did the right thing. You saved the rest of the people with you, and the people that you had to rescue.” He didn’t expect that to just make the issue go away, killing people didn’t just magically leave your mind like that, but knowing that people didn’t think you were terrible for doing it could help.
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Marvel-MCU-2

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#14
What they learned to expect from the Hulk. Lori frowned to herself, turning the words over in her mind before she looked at Justin intently, "You and I know two very different Hulks." sure, Bruce worried about the Big Guy going rogue and hurting people, but Lori had seen him stop to avoid crushing a kitten. "Very, very different."

It wasn't like this had been Lorelei's first 'permanent take down'. But it was the first time she had had to kill a fellow Avenger, one of her family, someone she had known since she had been little. It affected her. "Yeah. I know. I mean, if there'd been another way, I'd have done anything else. But there wasn't. I hated doing it." She sighed, "I still hate it." She'd been steady through the rest of the mission, never letting herself pause to question or regret what she'd done, what she'd had to do, not while they were still out there, but now that it was all over she had to think about it. She had to deal with it. Not dealing with it wouldn't go well for her, she knew. Besides, Papa had taught her better than that. So here she was, seeking comfort while she processed what she'd done, what she would need to do tomorrow, and how she felt about both.
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Marvel Comics-616-ish

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#15
Justin didn’t even try to argue with Lori. “Yeah, that’s what I thought, pretty much,” he admitted. “Because really? Mine tended to be a giant pain in the ass.” That was, after all, how Thor had ended up putting it, and the least Justin could do to honor the big blonde lump was to stick to that party line.

Justin wrapped his arm around her a little tighter, nodding as she processed things a little more. “That sounds like one hell of a screwed-up world,” he admitted. “Still kind of wish I’d gone, but… I don’t know what sort of good I’d have made. I still wouldn’t be able to put a dent in a hulk.” Especially not compared to the dent the Hulk would have put in him. Justin could feel a marked difference in himself, just from this morning. Lori felt like she weighed nothing in his lap (not that she’d been heavy before, but now picking her up would be laughably effortless), he’d done some serious damage to stuff on the roof (although some of that was the staff, he could tell), but a Hulk could still turn him into paste. Now, though… now, it was all over, thank god, and they were (mostly all) back.

And he was still left feeling kind of clueless, unfortunately.

“What can I do?” he asked.
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Marvel-MCU-2

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#16
A giant pain in the ass. Lori actually giggled, "well sure. Mine can be like that sometimes. But so can my Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Clint Barton. She wasn't arguing with him; Lori was trying to lighten up. No, she wasn't fine, nowhere near it yet, but she'd be okay, and grieving didn't have to be done all at once. "I can see what you mean though, if he wrecked Vegas." People had to have been terrified.

Justin held her, and Lori relaxed in his arms, little by little. "It was horrible. Th whole world was dying. We found a few people, scared, starved, but still fighting to survive; we sent them back to Hub, where they could find new homes And start new lives. But there were so few, and the world was ending... Really ending; a moon was in a decaying orbit-they had hours left, we, and they, only made it by the skin of our teeth." Oddly enough, Lori was calm when it came to the world being destroyed, but the death of a single old man filled her with grief.

Blinking at the question. Lori considered for a moment before offering Justin a smile, "This," she said, "Be you. Tell me what did you do while I was gone?" she tipped her head. "What was it like? You weren't quite yourself before we left."
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Marvel Comics-616-ish

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#17
What he’d done when she was gone? Ha. Justin looked oddly sheepish at that. “Well, I… ah… went and picked a fight with Steve,” he admitted. Okay, it was sparring, but sparring was a lot less… casual when you were doing it with Captain American and were legitimately trying to come out on top. “I mean… after you guys left and I figured out that no, I couldn’t follow you, I had to do something, and I was left with the fact that I’d just had a magic card make me as strong as a Super Soldier- maybe stronger, I don’t know- and I… well, I had to test that out.” He shook his head, rolling his eyes a little. “So for the record, no, even being able to flip a car over doesn’t give you an edge against Captain America.” Well, not unarmed, at least, and he was finding out that he wasn’t exactly clueless at using the new staff. The rematch might end up being a bitch when it came. “It was a good distraction, at least. I felt like an idiot after I left that place. I mean… Not as bad as I should have, I guess, I just kind of felt like a chump. And… probably that in the state I was in, I didn’t give as good a showing at… certain things… than I usually would have…” At this, Justin turned just a little red…
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Marvel-MCU-2

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#18
Why would Justin look sheepish at the question? Lori blinked at him until he explained that he had gone out and gotten into a fight with Steve. I mean, who went and picked a fight with Captain America?! Lori giggled at Justin's explanation, genuinely amused, though it was obvious she understood, at least on some level. ''Hey, if I suddenly became super strong, I'd probably try my hand and see how I held up against him, too." She grinned, thoroughly distracted from her grief and uncertainty for the moment, "I think most of us Avengers would."

Justin's lack of "showing" hadn't been a concern for Lorelei. He had been under the influence of that little turtle statue - magic if she didn't guess wrong - and it would have been crazy for her to have expected... Well, she hadn't expected him to be at his best, not like that, and she still didn't blame him. The fact that he was blushing was... Wow. That was unexpected. Instead of focusing on that, though, Lori just smiled, "Well, you'll just have to show me what you can do when you're at your best then."
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Marvel Comics-616-ish

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Mike

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#19
Was Justin above showing off for the pretty girl? 100% of doctors surveyed all said that no, he was not above showing off for the pretty girl. When she did not call him an idiot for 'picking a fight' with Steve, it did encourage him a bit, of course. Grinning, he slipped his arm under her and hefted her up off his lap one-armed, easily enough that yes, there was a decided difference in how strong he'd been even from what she'd been able to see so far. "Well, I did do better than I had before," he admitted as he settled her back onto his lap, "But it's still Steve. Maybe if I'd decided I wanted to be faster it would have made the difference. Or maybe not. I kind of think that the day that I could beat Steve, I'd decide that the world had gone wrong or something." After all, you always wanted to beat your dad... until you finally did, at least.

And no matter how sheepish he might have been over being in some kind of hypnotic haze (even though his mind was totally too strong to be hypnotized) when she'd kissed him, could he really back down when she laid down a challenge like that? Oh hell no. He shot her a little scoffing smirk, as if to say that he was always at his best (evidence of the day before being ignored), then just nodded. "All right."

He cupped her face with both hands, giving her every opportunity to pull away, but he could see that wasn't going to be an issue. Leaning in, he kissed her much more actively and attentively than he had back in the magic store when he'd been hypnotized (which he was totally to strong to fall for, seriously). Reassured that no, she wasn't going to pull away or try to push him back, his arm slipped around her waist, his hand coming to rest behind her head as he lost that last little bit of uncertainty and started to really get into the spirit of things.

@Nyte
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Nyte

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#20
Justin might have been showing off, but Lorelei certainly didn’t mind in the least. Really, what girl would mind something like that? Not her! Instead, she grinned and paid attention. She didn’t snark or chastise him for picking a fight with Steve because… Well, who amongst the Avengers hadn’t done more or less the same thing at one point or another? Other than Bruce… Bruce never picked fights with any of them; he was always the one looking for the peaceful way out, the solution that didn’t require fighting. When he picked her up like he did, she gave a little gasp before she giggled, “Well sure. Steve’s not just hard to beat because he’s a super soldier… It’s the training and experience, too.” Not to mention his tactical skills. “He’s nigh impossible to beat one-on-one.”

Lori didn’t think Justin had any real reason to feel sheepish or bad. Everyone other than the few who had apparently been fated to go on the rescue mission had underwent the same sort of hypnosis. She had known even at the time that Justin hadn’t been himself, that he was under some sort of spell or effect. That hadn’t been the point, though. She liked Justin, and she’d been fairly sure he liked her too, and she had been unwilling to go off on what might have been a mission she wouldn’t be coming back from without… Something. So she’d kissed him.

Her words had been meant as an invitation, not a challenge, but hey, she wasn’t going to complain at the result. In the magic shop, she had kissed him; it had been brief, a goodbye, and a hope to see him again, but this time? This time he kissed her, and while he instigated, Lori returned the kiss with the same energy and attention as he gave. She didn’t try to pull away, far from, instead she leaned into his embrace, winding her arms around his neck even as she smiled into the kiss.

@Mike @Arjay
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