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wild laughing at the stars (and stripes)

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The first time Wendy Marvell met Natsu Dragneel was at three in the morning in the middle of September, when he dropped his cat on her and gave her two hundred dollars. She didn’t really know if this could count as a real meeting, though, since she barely remembered any of it.

So maybe it would be more appropriate to say that she officially met Natsu when she walked into her bathroom one Thursday evening and saw him trying to help her suitemate, Lisanna, put a ginger wig on.

“Hey Wendy!” he said, dropping all the bobby pins he was holding. Lisanna sighed.

“Are you dressed as Iron Man?” she asked him.

“Halfway there, but I appreciate you noticing.” He beamed at her. “Hey, you wanna see Civil War with us? It’s a whole group of us, not just me and Lisanna! The only thing is you have to dress up as a character.” As he asked her this, he got on the ground to gather up all the bobby pins.

“I’ve never...what?”

“Let’s see, Pepper and Wanda and Natasha are already taken, so...you could be Peggy Carter? Maybe Sharon Carter! Lis, do you think she’d look better as a blonde or brunette?”

“Levy’s going as Peggy, actually. Something about her being ‘a great TV lesbian to rub into Gajeel’s stupid face.’ And I’m pretty sure Juvia is our Agent 13.” She thought for a moment. “How about Agent Hill, so she doesn’t have to wear a wig?” Lisanna, without Natsu’s assistance, seemed to be getting her wig on with no trouble.

“No, Erza’s creepy fiancee is going as Hill. I know! Dr. Helen Cho! Lisanna told me you wanted to be a doctor, it’s perfect!”

Lisanna grinned. “Great idea! Wendy, do you have a labcoat?”

“No?”

“That’s fine, we’ll find you one!” Natsu said flippantly.

“I’ve never even seen any of the Marvel movies, though!”

Natsu gasped like she had just told him she liked to eat the shit out of Charle’s litter box. “What?”

“Wait, seriously? You haven’t even seen The Avengers?” Lisanna asked. “I thought literally everyone had seen The Avengers.”

“I’ve never been all that interested in superheroes…” she admitted, feeling ashamed suddenly even though there was literally nothing to be ashamed of.

“Okay, I--crap! I left half my costume at my apartment. Lisanna, can you get her up to speed on everything so she isn’t totally confused when we go see the movie tonight?”

She nodded. “Can do, Mr. Stark.” She sounded very professional.

Natsu’s face went pink. “See you in half an hour!” He rushed out of Lisanna’s room, forgetting to close the door behind him.

Lucy came in a few moments later, thankfully closing it behind her so anyone who happened by wouldn’t see Lisanna, who was only half dressed in her costume, which, from what Wendy could see laid out on her bed, was just really nice business casual clothes?

Lucy was wearing a black catsuit and red wig, so Wendy didn’t quite recognize her at first. “Are you...also going to the movie?” she asked her.

“Yep! I’m the Black Widow of the group. Why, did Natsu invite you? Who’s he making you dress up as?”

“Helen Cho?”

Lucy shook her head. “No, no, I think you’d be a much cuter Hope van Dyne.” Lisanna snapped her fingers.

“True! Oh, but we don’t have a Scott Lang.”

Lucy shrugged, the catsuit squeaking with her every movement. “We could call Jellal? Myst is actually already coming, as Hawkeye.”

“Why?”

“I guess Myst used to coach archery at summer camp? Plus, he actually has a car.”

“Fair point.” Lisanna pointed at the mirror with her mascara wand. “But do you really think Jellal would want to dress up, and on such short notice?”

“It can’t hurt to ask.” Lucy pulled her phone out from somewhere and texted Jellal.

“Okay, so Wendy hasn’t seen any of the movies. Do you want to help me explain stuff to her?” Lisanna asked.

“Of course!” Her phone vibrated. “Oh, looks like Jellal can’t do it. Shit. Do we know anyone else?”

“I could ask my brother?” Wendy suggested. “I think he likes these movies.”

“You have a brother? Never mind. Just ask him.” Lucy waved dismissively at her. “Now, where to start?”

“Chronological order, or movie order?” Lisanna asked.

Wendy, meanwhile, texted Rogue, me and my friends are going to see some superhero movie, and they want me to ask if you want to come but you have to dress up as someone named scott lang

Several minutes later, she got a reply. I may or may not already have the costume. Ask if they need a Spider-man because my roommate will not take no for an answer.

“Do you guys need a Spider-man?” she asked while Lisanna and Lucy argued over where to start explaining the MCU to her.

“Yes! Oh, that’s a great point! Do you know someone?”

“Yeah, my brother’s roommate says he wants to do it. I’ll get back to them.”

they don’t have one
a Spider-man I mean
so your roommate is free to come
I guess I’m coming as someone named Hope???

Hope and Scott sort of are together at the end of their movie. Are you uncomfortable with that?

not really
I really don’t understand any of this
I haven’t seen any of these movies, something that I guess is unforgivable?

It is.
We’ll watch them together later.
Where and when are we meeting?

“Where and when are we meeting?” she asked.

“Oh, the elevators, in an hour. We’re getting dinner before the movie at midnight,” Lucy told her.

elevators on gaebolg 10 in an hour

We’ll be there.

“I guess we have a Spider-man and a Scott Lang!” she told Lucy and Lisanna.

“Excellent. Now, go see if you have a pencil skirt, if not you can borrow one of ours, and then it’s time to start your education, with World War II!”

While the girls pinned up Wendy’s hair so it looked like she had a bob cut (kind of a cute look on her, actually)* and she shimmied into a borrowed skirt, Lucy and Lisanna explained to her in turns first the origin of Captain America, then something called SHIELD, a whole bunch of bastardized Norse mythology, and Iron Man.

“And then Steve looks up and the man he’s been fighting this whole time...was Bucky!”

“His best friend from the war who died?”

“They find out that the Nazis actually recovered his body, and turned him into a brainwashed super assassin who doesn’t even remember Steve anymore. It’s the most tragic love story of our generation,” Lucy explained somberly.

“I thought you said they were just best friends?” Wendy got more confused the more they explained.

“They are,” Lisanna said.

“They could very easily be more than friends!” Lucy retorted. “Why do you think Laxus is our Bucky? It was supposed to be Lyon, but then the whole breakup happened and we had to find someone else to do it. It was originally going to be a couple costume. Winter Soldier, get it?”

“Okay, that is pretty cute,” Lisanna grumbled.

“Didn’t Gray and that guy break up months ago?”

“We’ve been planning these costumes for a long time, Wendy,” Lucy informed her.

“Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude…” Now she felt really bad.

“What? Oh, you’re not intruding! Natsu invited you, he clearly likes you for how well you took care of Happy that time. And we all like you too! You haven’t met Laxus or Gajeel or Gildarts yet but--”

“Actually, she has met Gajeel--”

“--why has she met actually I don’t care right now, point is you’re our friend! And we want to include you in this stuff.” Lisanna smiled at her. Maybe it was the nice clothes, but Wendy felt very comforted.

“I still don’t understand why Natsu invited Gildarts but forgot to invite Cana. You know I had to do it? She’s coming as Angie Martinelli. She has this whole theory about Angie being trans…”

Natsu came back a little while later. “Not Helen Cho?” was the first thing he said, pointing at Wendy.

“Wasp,” Lisanna informed him.

He grinned. “Even better! What about Ant-Man?”

“Her brother. Her brother’s roommate’s coming as Spidey.”

“I can’t believe I forgot Spidey!” He smacked himself in the face. “But you said you found someone? That’s great! Are they coming to dinner with us?”

Lucy nodded.

“Do they have a car?”

“Yeah. Rogue’s roommate’s got a car named White Lightning.”

Lisanna and Lucy stared at her, but Natsu just cackled. “Great! Now we don’t have to worry about transportation for the extras. Do you wanna ride with them, or, actually let’s just figure out rides when we all meet up in half an hour!”

The group collected in the elevator lobby half an hour from them was larger than Wendy was expecting. It was her, Lucy, Lisanna, Natsu, Gray, Erza, Minerva, Myst, that Gajeel guy, Levy, Cana, Juvia, Erza’s fiancee who she sort of met that one time, her brother, her brother’s roommate, and a three blond guys she had never met before.

“Do you know everyone here?” Lucy asked her.

“Who are they?” She pointed at the three blond dudes, who were not standing anywhere near each other.

“The old one is Gildarts, he’s Cana’s dad, he teaches here. The one with the fake wings is Loki. The really buff one is Laxus. Maybe don’t talk to any of them first,” she advised her.

Lucy then explained who everyone was dressed as. Natsu was Iron Man, Lisanna Pepper Potts, herself Black Widow, Myst was Hawkeye, Erza was Scarlet Witch, Gray was Captain America, Laxus was Bucky Barnes, Loki was Falcon, Gajeel was War Machine, Gildarts was Vision, they had no Black Panther, Cana was Angie Martinelli, Minerva was Agent Hill, Levy was Agent Peggy Carter, and Juvia was Sharon Carter.

Levy, who was wearing a brunette wig and amazing red lipstick, grabbed onto Lucy and dragged her away. This gave her brother a great opportunity to slide in to talk to her.

“Wendy, who are all these people?”

“Are you holding a helmet under your arm?”

He scoffed. “Of course. It’s part of the suit. You make an excellent Hope, by the way.”

“Thank you? Um, these are my friends. Well, some of them are friends of friends. But they’re the group we’re going with, I guess. Do you want me to tell you everyone’s name?”

“Yes, please.”

“Well. The one in the catsuit is my RA, Lucy, and the guy in the red white and blue is the guys’s RA, Gray. Then, um, Iron Man is Natsu, and Pepper? I think is what she said she was? is his girlfriend Lisanna. The lady with the red hair is Erza, and the lady next to her is Minerva. The big blond guy is Laxus, who I don’t really know. Wings guy is Loki, who I also don’t know. Levy is the one talking to Lucy, Cana and Juvia are the ones over there in the corner, the old guy is Cana’s dad Gildarts, the one with the bow and arrow that I really hope is fake is Myst, and then the one with all the piercings is Gajeel.”

“Gajeel Redfox?

“Maybe?”

“Wendy, he’s a legend in the engineering department. Why didn’t you tell me he was coming? I need to talk to him.” He slipped away, leaving only his roommate for Wendy to talk to.

“I’m Sting. We’ve met.”

“I couldn’t really tell, what with the…”

“Full body suit and mask? Fair. I’m the guy who owns White Lightning.”

“Oh! Yes, it’s very nice to uh, meet you again.”

“I know.” He sounded inordinately smug for someone wearing what was essentially red and blue pajamas, Wendy thought.

“If I’d known Minerva was gonna be here, I might not have come,” he added. “We’ve got History.”

For some reason the way he said it made the H in History sound capitalized, somehow. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Eh, years ago she was in me and Yukino’s relationship. But I guess she and Yukino are friends now? So we might be cool. Hey, Minerva!” he called above the chatter. Erza’s beautiful fiancee looked over, confused. He pulled the mask off so she could see who she was. She grimaced. “Maybe we’re not cool. Whatever.”

“I don’t think I’ve actually formally met Minerva, now that I think about it,” Wendy mused.

“You’re not missing much,” Sting informed her. “Oh, hey, speaking of me and Yukino, I’ve been meaning to ask you, is your brother gay, or bi, or, do you know?”

“Why don’t you just ask him yourself?”

“Because--”

“Okay!” Natsu shouted. “We’re gonna figure out driving now! People with cars, stand over there! People who don’t have cars, stand over there!”

The car arrangements were: Minerva and Erza by themselves, Gildarts with Cana, Juvia, and Gajeel, plus Gajeel’s cat carrier, Sting with Rogue and Wendy, Lucy with Levy, Gray, and Loki, and Myst with Lisanna, Natsu, and Laxus.

“Did you seriously bring Lily to be our Black Panther? Gajeel, it was a joke,” Levy shouted when she saw the cat carrier.

“I can never tell with this guy!” Gajeel pointed accusingly at Natsu, who just grinned.

“I didn’t mean it as a joke!”

“Natsu, we can’t bring a cat into the theater!”

“Why not? I’ve got Happy waiting in the car. He’s gonna be Happy Hogan!”

“Oh my god.”

“I’ll stick Lily and Happy in my room. They like Plue.” Lucy made Natsu go get his cat, then left for a few minutes with the cat carriers.

“Now we don’t have a T’Challa, Lucy!” Natsu protested.

“Tough.”

“Did you seriously, actually tell Gajeel to bring the cat to be Black Panther?”

“Well, yeah, it was him or Lucy, right?”

“Wait, why me?” Lucy asked.

“‘Cause you’re so catty.”

“I will kill you, Natsu.”

Somehow, they made it to the restaurant, which just turned out to be Carl’s Jr., without any casualties. This did not appear to be for lack of trying.

Wendy did her best to keep included in the conversation, but since she didn’t know some of them, and since she was so painfully shy sometimes, she spent most of the meal just listening and trying not to get ketchup all over her borrowed blazer.

They stood in line at the theater for about twenty minutes before they were finally able to buy tickets, and they took up a whole row. She and Rogue split a popcorn and Coke.

During a quieter point in the previews, the person seated behind her tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around, a little startled.

“Hey Wendy! It’s me, Chelia!”

Wendy smiled. This was the best part of her night so far. “Hi Chelia! Do you like these movies?”

“Yup! Seen everything since the first Avengers in theaters. Are you a big Marvel fan?”

“This’ll actually be my first, but everyone explained what happened before to me. Are you wearing a costume? They made me wear a costume if I wanted to come.”

“That explains the hair! You’re Wasp! That’s great. I’m not wearing a costume, but my sister is dressed as Black Widow and Lyon’s Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier.”

“Oh yeah, I heard he was originally gonna come with us, but…”

“Yeah…”

The silence was a little awkward for a second, before Chelia said, “Well, you guys have fun! Maybe we’ll see you after? We’ll have to keep Lyon and Gray separate, but. It could be fun!”

“Yeah! Oh, speaking of, Rogue!” She nudged her twin. “This is my friend Chelia! Chelia, this is my twin brother, Rogue.”

“Hi.” The Ant-Man helmet was at Rogue’s feet, thank god, or he might have really creeped Chelia out.

“Your twin brother? Really?”

“We’re fraternal twins,” he explained.

“I mean, obviously, you can’t have a biological male female pair that’s monozygotic. Are you dressed up too?”

“I’m Ant-Man.”

“That’s great, you’re Ant-Man and the Wasp! Oh, that’s so cute, isn’t that cute, Sherry?”

“What?”

“Shut up, it’s starting!” someone hissed at them.

Wendy turned around to pay attention to the movie. Wow, it sure was nice Chelia was here. But now she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to focus on the movie.

A few minutes in, Chelia laughed. It was something the woman in the tan coat--Natasha?--said to the Falcon guy. “I’m not gonna thank that thing.” And Chelia giggled, so Wendy made sure she giggled a little too, but inwardly she was freaking out because she couldn’t remember ever hearing Chelia laugh so cutely before.

God, she was gay.

It was a pretty good movie, she thought when it was over, even though she didn’t really understand all of it. She really liked that Falcon guy. He seemed cool. And Black Panther was cool too. They told her he was going to have his own movie, she might go and see it.

When the credits started to roll she tried to stand up and found people pushing her back down on three sides--left, right, and back. She found out why when there was extra scene in the middle of the credits, but they also made her stay for another credits scene. Why not just put them in the movie?

Whatever. She had fun.

She found Chelia after the movie while the rest of her friends were taking their time to leave, all arguing too much to get out quick.

“What’d you think?” Chelia asked.

“It was pretty good! There was some stuff I didn’t get but it was fun!”

“I’m glad! If you ever want to watch any of the others I have all of them.”

Wendy’s face fell. “I already promised my brother I’d marathon them all with him, he likes them all so much.”

“Who says you can only watch them once? We can still watch them if you want.”

“Okay! Yeah! That sounds fun.”

They smiled at each other. Rogue coughed politely and Wendy realized she was blocking the way out.

“How could they be on a break?” Natsu whined to Lisanna as they passed.

“Natsu, just because we dressed as a couple that broke up doesn’t mean we are.”

“Lisannaaaaaaa!”

Lucy and Levy were talking about something else. “I’m so glad the Russos are fixing Natasha,” Lucy sighed happily. “That girl in Ultron was not Natasha Romanov. ‘Got a key?’ Honestly.”

“I liked that look of horrible regret on her face every time someone brought up the Hulk,” Levy replied. Lucy nodded enthusiastically.

“Did you dress up as Sharon because you knew she was going to get to kiss Gray’s costume?” Cana asked Juvia, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“Juvia had no idea! And you of all people know Juvia is no longer interested in Gray.” She fluttered her eyelashes at Cana.

“You better not!”

Gildarts, walking behind them, laughed.

Gray, chatting quietly with Loki, came by next. But he abruptly stopped talking when he saw Chelia’s group. “Lyon.”

“Gray.”

Everyone froze. Even Gajeel, who really didn’t give a shit, because he thought maybe looking like he cared would ingratiate him a little to Levy, who was still doing her best to pretend he wasn’t there.

“So you came as Bucky after all.”

“Of course. I worked for months on this costume. I wasn’t going to just scrap it because of you.”

“Hmm, well, Laxus’s is better.”

“Don’t you fucking bring me into this,” Laxus groaned.

“Wendy what did you think of the end credits scene!” Chelia asked her very loudly.

“Excellent question, girl I’ve never met!” Levy said.

Wendy, sensing the thick tension in the air, answered, just as loudly, “I like that Black Panther is such a great guy but I was confused because isn’t Captain America friends with Scarlet Witch and Vision who both have cool mind powers? Why didn’t he just call them to fix Bucky so he wouldn’t have to go in the cryogenic storage?”

Everyone was silent. They all stared at her. Even Gray and Lyon, who were more interested in what she just said than their weird arguing.

“I guess, maybe Bucky will be in the Black Panther movie this way?” Chelia replied.

Like that, the spell was broken, and everyone broke up to discuss it. Gray went back to talking to Loki, and Lyon muttered something to Chelia.

Thank god.

“Well, I don’t know about you, but I have classes in the morning. Let’s head back to the dorms,” Rogue told Wendy. She nodded. Midnight premieres sure were late!

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Chelia!” she told her friend.

“Yeah, seeya!”

In the car on the way back, she and Rogue made up a schedule for when she would catch up on all the movies. He told her there were also multiple TV shows she’d have to watch eventually, but those would have to wait until after they watched certain movies.

“But if you want, you could binge those with your girlfriend,” he finished slyly, giving her a sideeye and grin.

“She’s not--we’re not dating! Me and Chelia? What, what would have given you that impression? Pssh, are you projecting, Rogue? Because there’s no one in your life?”

Sting glanced back at them. He had been relegated to chauffeur for the twins. This was something he had a small stake in, though.

“Don’t change the subject, Wendy.”

“Are you blushing? Oh my gosh, Rogue, is there someone you like? Tell me! What’s their name?”

Sting now seemed very interested.

“Oh look, we’re back,” Rogue said, pointing. It was true, they were at the dorm parking lot.

“You’re not getting out of this conversation!” Wendy told him, but dropped it. She was really tired.

She wiped all the makeup off her face, unpinned her hair, and changed out of her borrowed clothes, hanging them up for Lisanna to grab whenever she got back, into her pajamas.

“I had fun, Charle! And I bet you had a great time with Laki,” she whispered to her cat, as both the cat and her roommate were trying to sleep.