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Archival Modernization: Across the Pond

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Tad has always enjoyed moving. He knows this is an unpopular opinion, but that is merely because the majority of the population lacks organizational skills and refuses to commit. Moving is a fresh start, a chance to get rid of things that no longer work and leave the frustrations of an old place behind. So long as one has a comprehensive plan and sticks to it, moving can be a smooth process.

Tad’s preparations for the temporary move to New York had started five weeks ago, and he has managed to stay on track despite a few hiccups with Miss Lewis’ things. His comprehensive plan is linked between his phone, tablet, and computer. It has nine points, from transportation to disaster preparation. He knows every piece of luggage Miss Lewis is transporting, both from London and New Mexico. He also knows how many life rafts are standard on the Stark Industries jet.

He is at ease. He is prepared. Tad is calm and in control, and not affected by Oliver’s mismatched sweatpants and half-smashed boxes. Tad does not care that one of the boxes is leaking orange liquid, beyond directing the ground crew to quarantine it.

Oliver has lost the key to his flat twice now, forgotten his coffee on the roof of his SI car, and now can’t find his passport. Tad has no sympathy, he’d offered the template for his moving document. Oliver’s boxes could all be colour-coded. His passport and other credentials could be zipped into his carry-on, as well as saved to his tablet. Tad hasn’t asked, because he doesn’t need the second-hand stress, but it’s likely Oliver hasn’t even made his lodging selections at Avenger’s Tower.

At least Oliver is on time. Tad had made a quick coffee order, and he suspects the cup Dr. Foster is clutching as she scowls at the sun is the only reason things are still relatively calm. She’d objected, loudly and frequently, to the five am departure.

Tad glances at his watch, noting that it’s now half past.

He’ll have to have someone go to check on Hannah and Patrick. That’s all there is for it. Surely they didn’t both oversleep. Perhaps there was a problem with their car?

Just as he hits the refresh button on his inbox, because he would have been notified of any snags on the SI side of things, he hears a familiar wail of distress. Tearing his eyes away from the three emails Tony Stark had sent in the past thirty seconds, he spots Hannah and Patrick.

Patrick’s rolling suitcase - not regulation carry-on size - is on its side, one wheel broken off. Hannah is on her knees, despite the fact that she’s wearing tights, attempting to right things.

The brightening morning sun makes Patrick’s loud Hawaiian print shirt positively garish, but even that spectacle is topped by the sight of the other man’s sock clad feet jammed into a pair of rubber sandals.  A small grey dog runs in circles around them, tangling them both in a long leash.

Tad doesn’t realize he’s started towards them until Hannah catches sight of him, her hazel eyes widened in distress. Today they look more green. Tad gives himself a mental shake.

“Tad!” She looks down at the broken wheel she’s now attempting to attach to the suitcase with some goop she’s scooping out of a lip moisturizer bottle. “Oh, no. We’re late, we know, we’re sorry.”

“The car came to my house first.” Patrick is digging in a pale yellow satchel Tad recognizes as Hannah’s. He comes up with something that appears to be a hair dryer. After more than a year at Ms. Lewis’ side, Tad knows better than to trust appearances. “It was supposed to pick up Hannah first. I was still sleeping, and then Hannah thought she’d been forgotten. I almost forgot to wear my travel sandals.”

“So I called the office, and Anita sent another car.” Hannah accepts the hairdryer from Patrick and turns it on despite the cord being cut off a few inches from the bottom of the device. A sound more suited to a lawn mower starts, but cuts off quickly when Hannah turns the machine off. She gives the newly attached wheel a testing spin. “But then my car passed Patrick’s car on the way to get me. So Patrick switched to my car.”

“Why travel sandals ?” Oliver asks. Tad had possibly been absorbed in deciding if it would be polite to offer Hannah a hand up - and then worrying that his hands are sweating, and worrying about his hands sweating always makes his hands sweat - and had not noticed Oliver’s approach.

He startles so badly that some of his coffee spills over the rim of his cup. At this point, he doesn’t understand how the coffee didn’t land on Hannah.

“In case we have to run, of course.” Patrick tips his head back, frowning up at the sky. “Looks like it’s going to be sunny.”

“It’s raining in New York.” Tad finally manages. Actual words, an entire sentence even. He’d checked the weather as a matter of course, but he’d been pleased when he noted the rainy forecast. Hannah and Patrick prefer the rain, working outside under umbrellas when they can. Something about thinking more clearly and also smoother skin. Tad doesn’t profess to understand.

“Really? Arnold!” Hannah attempts to catch the small dog, but it dodges her hands and barks twice, sharply. Tad has to step over the leash three times, and nearly trips when Hannah latches onto his hand as she stands. Only Oliver grabbing the back of Tad’s belt keeps him upright.

She doesn’t notice, thank god because he’d choked a little, as she’s busy brushing at her knees.

“I am so sorry about Arnold.” Hannah says, glancing nervously at Tad. She looks away again before he can recover and smile. “The veterinarian prescribed some travel pills, they were supposed to calm him down.”

“It turns out a rare side effect is to make some dogs hyperactive.” Patrick lunges and comes up with the dog in his arms. “Medical doctors. Can’t trust them.”

“Patrick, hush.” Hannah begins to untangle the dog’s skinny legs from the leash. The dog squirms and licks her in the face twice.

Tad can’t believe she touched him. His hand is tingling. He should say something. Offer to help. Her coffee! He ordered her a coffee and a croissant!

“There! Back to rights!” Hannah flips Patrick’s suitcase back onto the wheels and grasps the handle. “Don’t worry, we’re ready.”

And Hannah hurries past him, Patrick following with the wriggling dog cradled in his arms.

With their arrival, the group surrenders to momentary chaos as they all board the jet. Prince Thor is terribly hard to wake, and he’s fallen asleep on the luggage ramp. Captain Rogers returns from checking Oliver’s car for his passport, said missing essential document in hand along with a box of pastries. It quite outshines Tad’s sad croissant. Which the dog is now eating anyway.

Tad manages to give Hannah her coffee before she disappears to another cabin so the dog won't bother anyone. The dog pees on Tad’s leg just as Tad is about to compliment her lovely dress, and Hannah looks near tears. Telling her that he, of course, has a back-up suit does not reassure her and she darts past the curtain, the dog’s pointy little face on her shoulder almost mocking Tad.

He stands there staring at the curtain for several minutes, until the jet lifts off and he realizes there are things he should be doing.

He needs to double-check that the flight bags Miss Lewis had packed for everyone had been distributed properly. He should confiscate Oliver’s passport before he loses it again and throws off their entire schedule when they arrive. He needs to see what the emails from Tony Stark are about.

Oliver clamps a hand on Tad’s shoulder. “You should go change into your back-up suit.”

He should change into a suit that doesn’t have urine on the pant leg.