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First things first: the Flash Fiction of the day (and then everyone who’s only here for Story Hour can just skip to the comments, if they want. ;-P) Warning: Dark. References to suicide. Continue at your own risk.

Steve reached into his mouth.

Gripping the capsule in his fingernails, he pulled it from the empty space where one of his wisdom teeth had been pulled months before. (He remembered that. He wasn’t supposed to. A patch on the back of his neck had immobilized him, and an IV line fed tranquilizers and painkillers into his bloodstream, but his metabolism had broken them up, burned them out of his blood. It had hurt. It was too strange, to be in pain like that and yet physically incapable of screaming.)

He stared at it, and it seemed to be winking evilly back at him, its glossy coat like a milky, unseeing-yet-aware eye.

He wanted to yell, to scream, to crush it into powder, into fluffy gray ash, but he couldn’t. It was filled with the most virulent substance SHIELD had been able to concoct, and he could not risk it getting into the city’s water supply. Even diluted more than a million times, it would still cause people—living real actual thinking breathing people—to sicken, waste away, fade, die.

All he could think was How did it come to this?

All he could do was to slip it back into its space and resolve not to use it.

He was still screaming inside.

Yup, it’s dark. There are cookies in the comments for anyone who can point out the huge, glaring, obvious main reference in this piece.

Now, on to lighter stuff; a few tools for writing the Avengers in everyday life.

1. Neither Thor, nor Steve Rogers, despite both being blond and muscular, are idiots, not by a long shot. Thor is a warrior, and unabashedly so. He’s probably good at cranking out a couple of battle plans when they need them (after he gets over his arrogant streak in Thor, that is.) Thor has a vocabulary that no other Avenger can rival, and has some operating knowledge of battle tactics, as well as being even more experienced than Cap. Steve is more intuitive than Tony Stark, which may be why people discount him, because sometimes it can be hard to follow, but if you’ll bear with me… Steve is a reader. (Remember that scene in The First Avenger, with all those books?) Steve uses his head. It’s not like he had a choice, since his body was rather lacking for the first 24 years of his life. So maybe he was getting beat up every other day, but he was also probably pretty good at outwitting the bullies. Steve Rogers was probably the SSR’s most valuable tactician, for goodness’ sake! Not only could he come up with an effective battle plan beforehand, he could also modify and adapt it while a bunch of Nazis and HYDRA agents were trying to kill him. Not even sloppy, to tell the truth. And then, in the Avengers, we get to see him strategize on his feet again, and we learn something more about him–Steve is an excellent judge of character and is extremely good at placing his teammates for the optimum effectiveness. Steve is empathetic and compassionate. That’s his edge.

2. Tony Stark is a bit more vulnerable than you’d think. His brash, arrogant front is more bluff than reality. He uses it as a shield to try and keep him from getting close to anyone else, because his experience with Obadiah Stane tells him that caring is a vulnerability. Actually, he and Steve clash not because they are absolute polar opposites, but because they’re different sides of the same coin. They have some personality traits in common, but they have different backgrounds, and their pasts tend to come between them. I think I love these boys so much because anything goes, really. It would be possible to write them as friends, or to have Tony be a supervillain without really wanting to be (can someone please write this with Pepperony instead of that other painfully non-canon ship… the Ship-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named), or whatever. The tensions between them are because they are somewhat similar but with personalities that still clash.

3. All the Avengers (with the possible exception of Thor and Clint) would probably have a preference for organic food, whenever possible. Thor isn’t choosy (though he still would probably like organic, since it’s the only kind of food on Asgard), while Clint is perfectly okay with junk food. However, the others’ reasons for choosing organic are different. Bruce does it because it’s healthy and he wants to support organic farmers, Tony for similar reasons (also partly publicity and elite whatever,) Natasha just because it is a choice she does have and I think with her history she’d like to have the chance to choose for herself, and Steve… well, his senses are enhanced, and nothing tastes familiar to him, with all the artificial flavoring going on these days. If he doesn’t have a choice I suppose he could live with processed or whatever but really, even for normal people, after eating organic for a while, processed foods are disgusting. (The limited-edition sugar-not-corn-syrup Coke would be a godsend for him.)

4. Concerning Steve Rogers: he never actually completed basic training. Thus, his knowledge is all entirely practical, learned on the fly while in the middle of leading the Howling Commandos. (This is why we respect Cap: He was thrown into a battle situation practically unprepared and still owned it.) His military bearing was mostly learned from the Commandos. (Ironically, this makes him a little more like Colonel Phillips, who also strikes me as a bit of an unorthodox commanding officer.) Also due to the fact that he was learning on the job, he knows some unexpected things as well as borderline-legal ones. For instance, due to Hydra’s obsession with Norse mythology, I imagine Steve as being able to read runes, in German, and pronounce anything from that mythology (or anything Asgardian) better than Jane Foster can. Also, apparently he knows how to hotwire a car, and I would expect that he knows how to disable certain types of bombs and IEDs. Not entirely hopeless with technology. After all, with Tony’s help, only a couple of weeks after waking up in the twenty-first century, he is able to help fix this sci-fi helicarrier engine. That’s impressive by any standards.

5. Tony Stark sees more about his teammates than he lets on, and while he struggles with compassion and being a team player, I expect he acts on it.

6. Clint Barton has a sense of humor and enjoys startling people. (No one else, except for Natasha, really intentionally startles people. Mostly it happens because Steve or Bruce is sitting in the background and they’re so quiet people forget they’re there.)

7. Bruce is compassionate, but he hates worrying over others’ problems because he feels helpless to fix them. (Did I mention that I love Bruce Banner? He’s such a sweet guy!) One of Bruce’s flaws is that he tends to be focused to a fault on anything he’s working on… there is room for story development here.

8. Natasha Romanoff is perhaps the most screwed-up of the Avengers. When she’s not on a mission, she doesn’t know exactly how to respond to personal barriers or how to put together any of her own. (This will probably cause her to make Steve uncomfortable; he doesn’t like other people in his personal space, and he doesn’t particularly like to be touched, either; in The First Avenger the only person who he really allowed to touch him was Bucky, who was perhaps the only friend he had had for many years, and he wasn’t used to other people in his space.) She does know to give Bruce space, though.

9. Most of the Avengers have snarky sides, though Tony will probably pretend to be surprised every time Steve snipes right back at him. (They should absolutely have an insult war.)

I think that covers just about everything… Thanks for reading, and God Bless!