"Z! Sweetie! I wasn't expecting you back so soon."
He curls up on Lev's chest.
"I can just hold you. As long as you need to be held."
He nods and stays where he is. "That'll -- probably be a while."
Then they can cuddle for a while!
Meanwhile, Asher is drawing up a to-do list. There are a lot of steps. Some of them he can handle now.
He asks his contact at SHIELD to divert some sex pollen. He emails a friend who might know someone who knows Vanessa Fisk. He sketches out some designs for drones with facial recognition technology and the ability to call the cops.
And Marlo —
— is having a very quiet, very contained crisis in the privacy of his own quarters.
There’s a hesitant knock at his door.
He gets himself together enough to open it and hopes that it isn't too obvious that he's been crying.
“...hey, so — I wanted to say I’m sorry. For what went down with the hate ray.”
"It wasn't your fault," he says, quiet.
“It was still a shitty thing to say. —fuck, it wasn’t even something bad about you, it was just something I knew would fuck you over to hear. Not okay even if we were all brainwashed. So...still sorry.”
"How did you... know?"
“...that it’d fuck you up, or that it was true?”
"Gets pretty obvious if you know a lot of Marlos."
That should buy him a second to come up with an answer that Marlo can actually process.
"Don't worry about it."
"...you spend a ton of time trying to live up to this...big damn perfect hero ideal, and you're from the forties. Obviously it was gonna hurt you."
"...yes. You aren't wrong."
He still doesn't know how Z knew it was true, but.
"...can't actually explain why I know it. I mean, fuck, anybody'd hope it, but I can't tell you how I knew."
"Alright." He's just... not going to wonder whether it was obvious to everyone but him, because that isn't productive.
(He absolutely is going to wonder that.)
"...so, I know I'm probably not the best guy for it, but do you wanna, you know..."
"...talk about it?"
"I don't know what there is to talk about."
"...to be totally honest with you? I don't either. But this is kind of a big deal, right? Gotta be something to process."
"...I just wish I could apologize to my fiancée."