Future Old Ones On R& R

Dawn looked up as someone cleared their throat from the doorway.  "What's up, Rhodey?"  Lt. Colonel James Rhodes was a mean tease but she liked to hit him back so it evened out to the point where they got along well enough.

"Stark said the school called and you have to actually attend a lesson there this week.  You're scheduled for Tuesday."

"Thanks."  She put that into her calendar.  "Any idea why?"

"Some sort of mandatory class everyone has to have in person."  He shrugged.  "Anything going that way since he's got me giving messages?"  She handed over an envelope.  "What's that?"

"Graduation invitation for him, Callia, and Pepper."

"I can deliver that."  He walked off to do that, much happier.  "Invitation?"

"Toss it," Tony said absently.

"Short Stuff would be really pissed."  Tony smiled and took it, scanning it into his system to link to the spot in his schedule.  "It's yours, Pepper's, and the baby's."

"The baby will love to go.  She'll get to dress up."

"Taint from her mother?" Rhodey joked.

"She spotted a sniper because there was a shiny spot."  Rhodey groaned and shook his head.  "We recreated it to make sure."

"She's one hell of a little girl."  He left, going to the lab to see what was going on.  Dawn went jogging past him.  "Problems?" he called.

"Not for you."

"Okay."  He shrugged.  He'd hear through gossip later or someone would call him to help.  Stark went running past too.  So apparently it might be important.  He followed more casually.  There was someone holding a magical looking shield against someone throwing an absolute fit.  He got there in time to see Dawn tackle the fit thrower into a wall and start to scream at her about it.  Stark got the shield holder down and calmed.  "Can I help by finding handcuffs?" he offered.

Tony smiled.  "Find Coulson.  He can have Tara's stepmother arrested."  One of the guards was calling for him.  He limped out still looking pissed at everyone.  "Still in pain?" Tony asked nicely.

"Quite."  He stared.  "Summers, off.  That's my job. You're an assistant, not an agent."

"No, this goes all the way back to Sunnydale."  She hit her again then got off.  She walked over.  "Tara, are you okay?"  She cuddled her and got her moved to the mess to get some tea and help her calm down.  "She's such a stupid bitch.  We all know that you're better than they ever thought," she soothed.  "Or else Phil wouldn't like you and Fury wouldn't let you on the ship."  Tara smiled slightly and nodded, letting Dawn fuss over her.

"This gives me great pleasure," Coulson said, hauling her up to arrest her.  He called a more junior agent to get her file out of his filing cabinet and to come arrest her.  The woman was struggling until he glared then she shrank away from him.  "He's already in jail," he said quietly.  "You should've stopped him for yourself and Tara.  You were stronger when you married him and saw what he was doing."  He walked her down to the entry, handing her over.  The junior agent looked worried.  "She's Tara's stepmother.  Just assaulted her."

"Got it, Agent Coulson.  Are you coming back soon?  People are antsy."

"I'm cleared in another six days."  The agent smiled and nodded, hauling the protesting woman out to the SUV.  "Document any existing injuries.  Summers slugged her jaw but I only grabbed her arm."  The agent nodded, understanding that reasoning.  He went back inside to calm Tara down.  She was down to shaky and not quite ready to cry.  He flopped down and winced.  Tara turned to fuss over him.  It helped her calm down and they all knew that.  Dawn smiled and got him some coffee then went to get Callia.  She loved Tara and Phil.  Tara took the baby to cuddle and it was all good for now.  Dawn got back to work and they could help her finish calming down.


Fury was let into Stark's office.  "You have my senior agent."

"He's still injured.  The infirmary won't clear him for another four days."  He looked up.  "Which has meant that he's helped Tara, who has been hiding over here since then."

"I heard her stepmother showed up."

"We had her arrested for trying to attack Tara.  Coulson and my daughter have kept her calm and centered since then."

"Damn.  I didn't realize it was that bad."  He looked around.  "No Summers?"

"Mandatory lesson today at the academy."  He smirked.  "Problems?"

"People are downright twitchy with him gone."

"I'll escort Tara back tonight," Coulson said from the doorway.  "If we can make her give up Callia."  He looked at Stark.  "Dawn just sent a text message saying she was really sorry that she was probably going to be back late due to detention for telling the teacher she was full of shit.  That's verbatim."

"Why?" Stark asked.  "Dawn's usually more subtle."

"Something about the class pissed her off."  He shrugged.  "What class was it?"

"No idea."  He called out there.  "This is Tony Stark, is the headmistress free yet?"  He was switched over immediately.  "What happened?"  He listened.  "No, I'd call that bullshit to.  Even if it is mandatory.  Yes, I know very well that Dawn's mother assigned her that paper.  We all applauded that Joyce handled that part of her education from the cancer ward at UCLA."  He rolled his eyes, making a note. 

"No, I don't think she needs to.  Madam, she's not a charity student," he said dryly.  "Or a scholarship student.  I'm using her to test your school to see if I want to send my daughter there.  I believe I won't be.  Send Dawn back today please.  No, I'm sure she's gotten a better lecture than yours about how evil sex is.  I'm sure she's gotten all sorts of facts and actual scientific information.  Which is what her mother wanted.  As a matter of fact, we're trying to set her up with a good first boyfriend so she doesn't have to worry about her first one being such a dirtbag.  Now, does she really have to stay for that?"

He listened.  "Yes, we're all looking forward to her graduating.  That's fine, if that's such an issue we'll be suing you for the cost of tuition we've paid.  I'm sure Pepper would heartily agree and I paid it anyway.  Now, are there other demands?  Then good day and do send Dawn home."  He hung up.  Dawn reappeared.  "You okay?"

"It was such bullshit I had to call bullshit.  Especially when the teacher tried to tell us that masturbation caused cancer."  Tony winced.  "And when I pointed out that abstinence wasn't technically a sexual activity, it was a birth control method, she got really huffy and called me a slut.  So I pointed out I was still a virgin, unlike her unmarried, sleeping with three boyfriends ass, and that I knew it didn't cause cancer.  Also that the only absolutely safe sexual practice was masturbation because you can't get yourself pregnant or give yourself something."  Tony burst out laughing. 

"She huffed off.  The headmistress demanded to know how I knew that so I told her about Mom's research paper.  Then I pointed out I had done that before I had learned to research there, and handed over a copy of the updated one I fixed after talking to Natasha about sex ed stuff and research papers.  That's when I got pulled to the office and called an uppity, frustrating charity case.  I pointed out we paid tuition, she sneered.  I told her to check and she did then still sneered.  That's when I warned Phil that I'd be late due to detention for possibly kicking her ass."  She looked.  "Hi, Director Fury.  Sorry, just some drama from stupid bitches with delusions of education and control issues."  She looked, smiling at Phil.  "I'm still getting good bakery stuff for dinner."

"Thanks, Dawn.  Are you all right?"

"I'm good."

"You brought copies?"

"I printed and summoned."

"That's what I would've done," Tony agreed.  "Let me call legal."  He did that and had them start on the school.  "That way you can still graduate."

"I don't care if I have to take a GED or home schooling test," she admitted.  "The teachers said I have handed in everything they wanted and a few extra credit things in biology again.  I don't even have to take any finals outside of biology."

"You'll walk.  It's important to your mother," he said calmly.

She smiled.  "Thank you."  She hugged him around the head then looked at his desk.  "Damn."  She got to work straightening it out.  "JARVIS, I need a few more bins for plans that failed."

"Of course, Dawn."  A few new plastic storage bins were sent in and she got to work making files and boxes for them.  An inventory as well so Tony could find things later on.

Tony smiled.  "You're more efficient than Pepper was.  She made me do that myself."

"Your genius brain doesn't bend to minor things," she teased with a grin.  "Why make it struggle."

"Good point."  His legal department called back to get the check stubs from her tuition and anything else they had.  Tony sent them to Pepper, who had all that gathered already.

Pepper paused in the doorway.  "I don't disagree with you yelling at her, but less swearing, Dawn.  Even though I broke out into one or two with the stupid wench, be more polite about it."

"Yes, Pepper.  Sorry to disappoint."

She smiled.  "You didn't and I did like that research paper.  We're keeping it around for Callia's education."  She walked off after smiling at Fury.

Fury shook his head.  "I heard you listed us on your resume?" he asked her.

"I listed working on an associated classified project as an unpaid assistant," she corrected, finding her phone to call up her college application.  She had it on there so people could scan it for worrisome sections.  She showed him with a smile.  "Phil said that was the right way to do that."

"It is," he decided.  "You can use SHIELD and administrative intern," he decided, handing it back.  She beamed and nodded.  "Any other traumas today?  If not, I need to make Coulson show up tomorrow."

"I can be there for a med check, sir," he agreed.

"I can escort him since I probably won't be back at the school," Dawn quipped.

"She said you got brought in twice," Tony said.

"They made me go back to listen to the BS lecture so I brought in my iPod.  They said I had to attend, not listen.  The teacher threw a hissy so I pointed out I already knew more than she did and she had mislabeled basic female anatomy since it didn't include the clitoris or the perineum.  She's apparently like those people in Tennessee that think hugging automatically leads to sex."

Tony patted her on the head.  "You're a better and smarter girl than that."

"That's right, it's Budweiser that leads to most teenage sex," she quipped.  Fury burst out laughing and left.  Phil was clinging to the door.  "It does."

"It does," Tony agreed.  "Or better beer, depending on how cheap you are when you're stocking the party."  Phil limped off shaking his head.  "Nice work," he said quietly.  She grinned.  "So, Miami?"

"Yup.  Bikinis, beach time, no villains or mobsters trying to capture me."

"That's a good idea.  Bring your emergency switch."

"I will."

"Good.  And find a bikini that your mother won't have fits about if it ends up on a tabloid."

"She's seen the pictures and thought I looked really hot but she agreed with Phil that I need the new Islamic bathing suit designs."

"They do?  With the modesty dictates?"  She looked it up for him and he stared.  "My father had pictures of him in something like that only no headpiece."  He closed that window and got back to work.  He tossed down a few more projects, earning a light huff and her getting another box.  Now his desk was mostly clear of the annoying things that he knew had a few good ideas that he couldn't find.


Xander appeared, looking at Dawn.  "Are you still graduating?"

"I think so."

"Good!  Your mom wants me to create a viewing portal."  He smiled and hugged her.

"I was hoping she could get out."

"She's trying.  The doctors say it might be risky.  We'll see."  He patted her on the head.  "Remember to wear something pretty under the robe since you don't have a battle."

"I nearly prayed last night that we wouldn't be attacked."  He smirked.  "I know, you heard."

"I did and Ares asked why you were praying for that.  I told him to go look at ours.  He came back and slapped me on the back, handed me a bottle of ale, and said that it wouldn't happen this time."  He disappeared.

She smiled and finished her packing so she could go back to her apartment.

"You're on my couch," Phil called.

"I can go home."

"You can't go home."

"I can so."

"You can't.  You're moving two buildings to the left this week."

She walked out.  "Why am I moving?  Is it the same rent?"

"Ten dollars more a month."  He smirked at her.  "The junior agents on the punishment list all complained about your books and shoes."

She snorted.  "Is that one nicer?  Still got light?"

"Yes.  It's got a good bit of light in three of the rooms but not your bedroom.  The tub is one of those cast iron old ones."  She smiled.  "So the shower's mostly external because of it.  I didn't think you'd mind.  Kitchen's a bit smaller but still useable.  About the same size as mine."  She hugged him.  "I didn't even tell you about the two closets," he teased.

"You're a great big brother."

"Yes I am."  He patted her.  "Help me up."  She did.  He was still aching in that wound.  "How's the nerve thing in your back?"

"They say they're screwed but it's only three nerves and might not impair anything except maybe make sexual release and gratification harder."  She shrugged.  "So said the doctor that reminds you of Pippi Longstockings."

"I like her.  She's got a gentle touch."  He helped her grab her bags and took her to his place.  She had been there once before to clean it on him.  She had actually been over to get off the hell carrier for a while but she had ended up cleaning it on him.  They curled up with some takeout they had paused to get on the way home, watching tv.  It was comfortable and soothing.  He swatted her hand when she reached for his bandage.  "It doesn't need healed and you have to learn how first."

"Yes, sir."  She leaned against his arm, earning a smile.

He finished her dinner and it was good.  Very soothing.  He slept there, his leg propped up on the coffee table.


Dawn strolled in with Phil the next morning, delivering him to the infirmary.  "Doctor Pigalli at Stark Towers' infirmary sent over his records this morning," she reported.

"Thank you, Miss Summers.  Agent Coulson, let's look at that wound."  He nodded, letting her take him into an exam cubicle.  "Do you want her to wait to help you upstairs?"

"No.  She can go check my desk and then straighten out the head office."

"Sure," Dawn agreed, strolling off.

A few agents smiled at her.  She grinned back.  "Agent Coulson?" one asked.  He had trained at Xander's.

"Infirmary getting checked."  The agent smiled and went to tell the others.  His desk was clear so she went up to the mess that was Fury's office.  He had records all over.  She stood in the doorway and grimaced.  "Maybe a wind spell."

He looked up.  "It's budget time, Summers.  I've got to justify things and make one out."

She walked over.  "Most of that is in the system, Fury."  She took his computer to log in and start to work on that.  "I may not like it but Excel will even do the adding for you."  She did it like they did at Stark Enterprises.  He relaxed and let her handle most of it while he went for coffee.  A few things she needed to refer to the files for.  She had to find the files first and make sure they contained what they were supposed to.  Those she straightened out as she went.  By lunchtime she had a good, working one with categories that had actual expenditures and expected for next year.  She looked up.  He wasn't around.  She carried the laptop out to him on the bridge.  "Try that?"

He looked it over.  Even he could understand that and he was not a desk-riding agent sort.  "You upped R&D?" he noticed.

"Both Stark and Banner said you needed a few upgrades in the machines and a few other things."

"Good point."  He kept going.  "Pay went down?"

"Expected retirements only."  She reached over his arm to page down.  "That's there with a separate breakdown by category of agent and staff, expected hirings and retirements."

He looked it over, nodding some.  "Add another three people's worth to staff."  She took it to do that and saved it, letting him have it back.  He went back over it.  "Nicely compact."  She smiled.  "Will the Senate like this?"

"They should.  That's the way Pepper does it."

"That's not a bad thing."  He went over it again.  "Why doesn't this one category add up?"

She looked and grinned.  "That's your emergency response fund.  With that projected range, depending on severity of incidences and how many incidences, there's no way to sum it."

"Huh."  He looked that over.  "We usually spend more."

She pointed at a line.  "Overflow put in nicer, more polite words."

He nodded.  "Each category has one?"

"A small one."  She smiled.  "Which you can then move around if you have to."

"Good idea."  He nodded.  "Proof it and print it, Summers."  She took it back to do that and then printed it for his okay.  "What about what I need to bring with me?"

She moved the mouse to show the desktop.  "This is your budget folder.  It's got all the reports that I cited in it and all the projection files we used."  He smirked.  "You can put those in Power Point if you want or just flash them up on the screen.  The rest of the computer, once attached to an unsecure system, has a double password, the same one at the moment.  That folder only has one so you don't have to expose the rest of the system."  She handed the laptop back with a grin.  "And that file is also backed up on your backup drive.  I did the backup before I came out."

"Even better.  I've been meaning to get to it."  He looked over the budget packet he'd need.  "Thank you, Summers.  Go eat."

"Yes, sir."  She strolled off.  "Agent Hill, can I bring you back anything when I come back?"

"Get me a coffee please, Dawn?  We're short up here."  Dawn smiled and made some in their pot, letting her have the first cup.  She smiled.  "She's very efficient, sir."

"She is.  It even makes sense to me.  Last year's I had to hunt things down and ask my assistant.  They liked her more.  I should bring her this time so they can ask her questions."  He went back to his office.  All the files were now nicely put away.  His desk was clean outside of two files and a small stack of reports.  That was very nice to come back to.  Maybe he'd steal her from Stark since he couldn't steal Potts.  She was the next best thing to Pepper.  Cuter too in some of her outfits.


Phil looked up as his office door opened.  "Dawn?"


"I've got tons of stuff to catch up."

"Then a half-hour break will help."  She helped him up.  "C'mon.  They're making pasta."   He relented and followed her down there.  It would make the agents feel better if he was seen in public.  He had noticed the twitchy ones.  The cook gave him a pointed look.  "What?" Dawn asked.

"Did Rosenburg have to zap him again?"

"No, there was nowhere near that level of injury," she assured her with a smile.  "Just a minor forty-five into his thigh.  They had it cleaned up before I got taken from the building by that agent."  The cook grinned and gave him more pudding.  They settled down to eat, letting that gossip break the old gossip so people quit worrying.  "I got an email from Cordy saying she wanted to see me dancing in those skin-colored heels and a bikini."  He quirked an eyebrow up because she had nicely timed it so he wasn't going to choke.  "I sent it to Wes, who said it proved she wasn't herself.  They're going to fix that later."

"That's good," he agreed, eating a bite.  "If you should, I'll be beating you to death."

"I know.  I'm too good for Girls Gone Wild too."  One of the other agents choked and fell to his knees.  Dawn turned to help him.  "Are you all right?"  He shook his head.  "Then don't eavesdrop at work.  Use that skill on the job, not in here."  She let his buddies take him.  She settle back into her seat.  "I do get to walk.  The headmistress has relented because Tony's told everyone about that stupid class she said is mandatory."

"More parents complaining?"

"That it was so unfactual and leading to a lot of teenage mothers as alumni."  They shared a look.  "I offered that opinion when someone asked."  She ate a bite of her pasta then went to get some cheese.  He took the rest of it from her to add to his own.  "How was your day?"

"Boring.  Staffing reports."

"I got to work on the budget."

"You're good with them," he agreed.  He smiled slightly.  "Get it done?"  She smiled and nodded.  "Excellent.  Last year's was a wreck."

"I used the same sort of template we used for Pepper."  She ate a bite and added salt.  It was perfect then.  He did the same and they ate.  "So, should I send you a postcard?"

"Definitely.  Remember your emergency beacon."

"I will.  Tony reminded me too."

"Good girl.  We'll probably be down about that HYDRA agent."  She nodded, digging in again.  "You're going before graduation?"

"I only have one final in biology."

"Excellent work, Summers."  She preened and dug in again.  His phone beeped so he looked at it.  "Natasha said that she found you a better bikini that's not as exposing."

"We can go after work."  He nodded, sending that back. They finished up and she made sure he got back to his office before going back to the head office.  She had stopped by the onboard Starbucks to get Agent Hill a decent coffee.  She looked like she could use it.

"You're late, Summers," Fury said when he spotted her.

"I made sure Agent Coulson got back to his desk full of reports," she said with a perky smile.  "And it's not like I took a morning break, sir."

"Barely a point," he said, staring her down.  She just smiled.  "Emergency beacon when you're in Miami."

"I will.  And my phone."

"Thank you."  He walked off.  "Take the budget to accounting so they can verify the amounts.  They think you used the wrong forms."

"Yup."  She got the folder and took it down there.  "Here you go, one budget."

The head down there scowled.  "What template is this?"

"The one we use at Stark."  She smiled.  "That way it's easier to find individual things.  If he wants me to change the format I'll easily be able to do that.  It's in Excel."

"That's reasonable," he decided, looking it over.  Her footnotes had cited reports, which he checked.  "That's an old one, Summers."

She looked and pulled it up in his system.  "No, that's marked last month's."  She showed him.  "This one just came out this week."

He looked and nodded.  "I hadn't realized it was time for that yet."  He did find one old report but it wasn't out yet and she cheerfully fixed it when that lower minion handed over the new copy.  He had to grump but it was easy to find things and she was too perky to hate for much longer.  He had no idea what made her so special to get that internship but some of the minions were complaining that they hadn't gotten to move up into the head assistant's spot.  There were rumors that she was sleeping with one of the Avengers but they didn't think it was true.  She was too perky to have regular sex.


After another disastrous bikini trying on, Natasha had to concede that Dawn did look best in the skimpier versions.  They also decided to go with the push up tops for some support.  The original tops were a bit...tiny.  The makers clearly expected girls in Dawn's size to only have a B cup at the most instead of Dawn's generous C.  Natasha took a picture and sent it to Coulson who sent back a 'must you really do that to me'.  She smiled and sent back a 'yes' and left it there.  She and Dawn were packing for her trip.  That way she could sneak all the weapons she needed to with her.  She'd have to ship them via UPS with her clothes but that was modern US airport security for you.


Dawn walked down to the beach her first day in Miami, sighing in pleasure.  Her earbud was in.  She had her nice sunglasses.  She had her towel.  She took off her hat and put it aside, laying out the towel by a group of young women about her age and then shimmying out of her shorts and t-shirt.  A few of the people on the beach were watching her so she grinned.  She sat down and got comfortable to enjoy the sun and a book.  Her clothes got used as a pillow.  Her hat got adjusted to shield her face.  Her sunscreen had been applied back in her hotel room.  It was all good.  Later she could swim.

She looked at her phone when it beeped a text message.  She stared at it and sent back to turn off the satellite feed, she was fine.  Her emergency beacon was in her hat at the moment, and she had on plenty of sunscreen.  Tony reminded her to call if she needed something over Pepper's arm.  She said she would and then put her phone back in the shorts pocket.

Really, what was going to happen to her down here?  There weren't any villains.  There weren't many Russian mafia sorts.  There were no Council people.  She'd be fine.


Pepper turned off the satellite feed with a huff.  "I know she's eighteen.  Even Joyce was worried."

"It's what good mothers do," Tony agreed with a grin.

"I'm only old enough to be her aunt," Pepper said.  But she was smiling too.  "I wonder who bought her that bikini."

"Natasha."  He walked off.  "Remind her to jog in the morning for Coulson."

"I will later tonight when I check on her."  She sent that captured picture to Joyce's phone so she could see how nice and twinkly Dawn looked on the beach.


Buffy answered the text beep, looking at the picture.  "Why can't I look like that in a bikini?" she complained, showing her mother.

"Dawn works very hard to look that nice, though I'm not sure I'd have let her go out in that."  She enlarged the picture and sighed.  "She does look nice."

"Nicer than I do," Buffy said.

"You can get up and jog each day," Joyce said patiently.

"Eww.  I only run if something's chasing me.  I get plenty of exercise that way."

"Yes, dear, but Dawn does time in the gym and jogs to look this nice.  She also has a very good diet, which you do not.  You're looking like an anorexic that has one of those protruding stomachs like the starving children in Africa again."  Buffy pouted at her stomach.  "Dawn has a lot of vegetables and lean protein.  I'm sure you've only had a candy bar in the last few days with how thin you are."

"I had a coffee," she admitted, smiling some.  "It's been busy, Mom."

"Those iced coffees of yours are like coffee milkshakes.  Still not good for you, dear.  You need real food to do your job well."

"I need to get a job as an assistant," she complained.

"Most of them don't pay that well.  It's the company and the higher profile that makes her paid better.  That's also why she got taken a few times, so someone could demand a ransom from her boss or Pepper."  Buffy grimaced.  "If you wanted to work, that would be fine."

"I have a part-time job," she admitted.  "I can't work more hours or I never get any sleep."  She leaned on the bed.  "Dawn's done good but I still need a job like hers."

"She's done very good and has a good head on her shoulders.  That's why she pays for her own tuition, for all that Stark goes behind her back to pay for it and give her the money back.  She's got a good college fund and plans for her future."  She brushed some of Buffy's hair off her forehead.  "You need to make some plans."

"I only plan a few months in advance," she admitted, looking at her Mom.  "You know I can't go farther than that," she said quietly.  "Though I did take the hint you gave me before and have set up funeral arrangements just in case I do fall."  Joyce smiled sadly and patted her hair down.  "I know it's hard right now, Mom.  With you being sick and me being me, Dawn's had to lean on others and it's done her good but it's like she's not Dawn any more sometimes."

"She's still your sister, just more adult now.  She's grown up.  She's eighteen.  Remember that age?" she teased.

"I was handling an apocalypse near my birthday," she agreed.  She smiled.  "I'm glad Dawn's only on the outside of that problem.  It'd kill us both if she got dead from it."  Joyce nodded.  The nurse walked in.  "Hi."

"Good day, Miss Summers.  Joyce, how are you feeling?"

"Decent, thank you."  She showed her the picture.  "Doesn't my younger daughter look too nice and like I should go put a shirt on her?"

The nurse smiled and nodded.  "She does look like a full course meal."  She pointed at the fruit basket.  "She sent that on her way out of the airport."

"I've nibbled a few times," she promised.  "Buffy, eat some of that for me.  Save me the soft fruit."

"Sure, Mom.  I could use lunch."  She got an apple and settled in to eat it while the nurse checked Joyce over.  "Can she get out soon?"

"She's getting a few hours out for your sister's graduation."

"I haven't heard when that is," Buffy realized, looking at her mother.

"My invitation is for both of us," Joyce said.  Buffy smiled and nodded.  That made more sense.  Joyce couldn't hope to go alone.  She smiled at the nurse.  "Dawn's in Miami."

"It's pretty down there.  It's good for a girl to get some sun and relaxation with how hard that one works."  She smiled.  "Someone called about visiting later.  A nice sounding young man."  She patted her foot and left them to talk.

"Got a hotty of your own, Mom?" Buffy teased before eating another bite.

"I'd have no idea what to do with one after all this time," she said dryly.  Buffy giggled and Joyce felt better.  Buffy was so serious sometimes.  "Get more fruit.  That way I'm sure you've eaten today."  Buffy nodded, handing her mother the grapes and nibbling on a pear.  The 'nice young man' turned out to be Steve Rogers.  Joyce gaped.  "Captain Rogers.  It's an honor."

He grinned.  "Dawn asked us to check on you while she was gone."

"I love my daughter for being so fussy."

"She is very good at fussing over things.  Including Callia.  She had her a few days after the last incident happened."  He showed her the pictures.  Stark had pulled them from the security system for Joyce when Steve had asked.  Joyce melted and smiled.  "She'll be at graduation since they won't let Tony bring her up to this ward."

Joyce touched one picture and smiled.  "Thank you."

"It's not a problem.  Dawn's like a teasing little sister to the group."  He smiled.  "I don't want to tire you out.  I'll show up if we have more news or if we hear something's going on down there."  She nodded, letting him go.  He left her the pictures.

"I made a pretty baby girl," Buffy said quietly.

"You did," Joyce agreed, smiling at her.  Buffy grinned back.  They relaxed and Buffy put the pictures into an album for her.  Joyce was slowly sorting through all the family pictures to put into albums for them.  Buffy was helping by making labels for identification.  Some day Dawn would get them all and she'd need to know who they were so she could tell Callia and any kids Dawn had.


Dawn looked over as a towel was spread next to hers.  "They sent you after me already?"  It had only been a few days.

"Yup.  Infection."  She glared.  "Not in the wound," he said quietly.  "I tripped over one of our R&D scientists and broke a toe.  That's infected."  She rolled her eyes and went back to her book.  "Sunscreen?  You look pretty dry."

"I'm fine.  I put some on an hour ago."  She handed over the bottle.  "You can lose the t-shirt and do the same thing."  She looked over his longish swim shorts, nearly knee length.  He was wearing a dark short-sleeved t-shirt and runners sandals.  She stared at him. 

"I don't need that much exposure."

She shifted and took his t-shirt off him.  "You're pasty white and glow in the dark, Phil."  She saw a few people watching.  "He's like my big brother."  The girls smiled and waved at him.  "He's a really nice guy.  Very steady.  Works for the government in a really great job.  He's single too."  They came over to chat him up.  They even helped him oil his back down.  They cooed over him being on injury leave and over how pasty he was.  Dawn laid down and went back to her book.  The ladies had Phil well in hand.  She smiled at one guy that paused to flirt with her.  He winked and invited her to a beach party later.

Phil looked over.  "She's like my sister and if you touch her I'd have to break your arm."  The jock scurried off.  "Dawn."

"I can flirt, Phil."  The girls giggled and distracted him again.  Clearly Dawn needed some help getting free of her big brother leash.  But he still seemed nice and polite.  Dawn was nice enough to leave them alone to go splash in the water with some flirty guys so that left them a clear space to flirt and enjoy the fresh meat.

Phil realized he had been handed to sharks by Dawn and appreciated her style.  That was so mean of her but he'd pay her back by not letting her flirt.  The ladies got a tiny bit of flirting and it made them all happy.  Even if they did look at him like a daddy figure and one asked if he spanked his girls.


The Avengers were having a meeting before their scheduled meeting.  "Dawn's report last night said that she's going evil," Tony said.

"Why?" Barton asked.

"She's apparently hooked up with a group of nubile beach nymphs and handed Coulson to them.  They've been cooing over him, helping him oil himself down, making him laugh.  Coulson's report said she gave him to them then wandered down to the water to give them plenty of space."

"That is evil," Bruce said with a smile.

Fury looked up as he walked over reading.  "How is she?"

"She's handed Coulson to some beach bunnies," Barton said.

"Why?" he demanded.  "It doesn't seem like Coulson's style."

"Who really wouldn't like twelve nubile young women oiling you down and spoiling you rotten, sir," Barton teased.

Fury considered it.  "I wouldn't mind some days."  He shook his head.  "Any other news?"

Steve cleared his throat.  "I visited her mother for her."  Tony stared at him.  "Dawn asked that someone stop in to check in on Joyce since she's still hospitalized.  I brought those pictures I had you download, Tony, and she was nearly crying over Callia's so I reminded her that she'd be at graduation."

"She will be.  Grandma can get some cuddling time then."

"How many are going?" Bruce asked.  "I know I'm not invited but we're not that  close."

"I know she had to limit it," Tony said.  "I am, with Callia on my lap so she's not using a seat.  Pepper, Natasha, Joyce and Buffy.  Xander and Tara."  They all nodded.  "I think there's a free seat but not totally sure where it is."

Steve smiled.  "It's good to have your family for those events.  I know I caught Dawn saying a minor prayer to not have an attack," he said.

"Xander told her he would make sure of it," Tony said, smiling at Natasha.  "She has no idea how to do her hair.  Pepper wore hers loose but it's supposed to be a sauna that day or raining."

"A simple low bun should do," she said, considering it.  "Her dress?"

"Not sure."

"We'll talk later."

Clint shook his head.  "At least she is graduating.  There's some rumors that Coulson is going to be less protective once she does."  Tony snorted, shaking his head.  "Some agents are sharpening their tracking skills too."

"Not a chance," Tony told him.  "Coulson, Natasha, and Joyce get a say in who she dates and Pepper is the final authority."

"I think one has asked Pepper for permission to date her," Bruce said.  "I saw an agent asking her something about a date the other day in the hall."

Fury shook his head.  "Hell no.  She's not allowed to date on the hell carrier."  They all smirked at him for that.  "Or at college.  College boys are all hands and booze."

"Not all of us," Stark countered with an evil smirk.  "Some of my friends hated booze so they only had pot and the occasional blotter.  It was considered safer than having to drop out of school in disgrace because you knocked up the chess champion."

"You went to MIT, they're all chess champions," Barton shot back.

"Most of us were, yes," he agreed.  "I tried so hard to get her to go there instead.  That way she'd find a nice geek to date and maybe create later lab helpers for me."

"Am I running a daycare?" Fury demanded.

"Yes, it's on the third floor of Headquarters and Callia adores it so thank you," Tony quipped.  He looked at his former assistant/herder.  "Did you teach Callia to call Coulson Fi-Fi?"

"I think Dawn did since she's usually the only one that uses his given name," she said.

"Oh!  I thought they might be calling him a poodle since he needed a trim."

"No, I believe it's as close as she comes to saying 'Phil'."

"I'm pretty sure it is too," Steve admitted.  "I caught her watching tv and they were talking about Dr. Phil.  She kept babbling 'not Fi-Fi, bad' over and over."

Stark shook his head.  "She is very bright for being sixteen months."  They all nodded he was right.  He leaned on the table, grinning.  "She looked at the mailman the other day and told him he wasn't an officer.  No po-po."

Natasha smiled.  "The uniforms are the same color."

Fury got up and walked off.  "Let me go somewhere else before he pulls out baby pictures," he complained as he huffed off.

"Sure, I can do that," Tony said, pulling them out.  They all smiled at how Callia was tormenting Dawn's hair.

"Does her mother visit?" Bruce asked.

"Buffy said it'd be too hard so she lets Dawn spread the news for the family," Tony said.  "Which I totally respect her for.  She agreed before I could even mention a custody agreement that I should have her because her life was too dangerous.  She made the same point about mine and we agreed on what a nanny had to be able to do to protect the baby.  Thankfully someone vetted this last one better than the first few."

"The half demon was nice but turning her toward her own warrior clans," Natasha said.  "Did the raw meat harm her?"

"Made some really gross diapers but otherwise thankfully not."  Bruce grimaced.  "The last nanny was a half-demon.  Harmless species, ate raw meat but not people.  She was okay but she was trying to warp Callia.  The first two Pepper liked then didn't like when she called them racists."

"Now you have the former agent for a nanny," Barton said.  "She's one tough chick."

"She is and it's helped," Tony said.

Steve nodded.  "I caught them in the park and her tossing a reporter with a camera into a trash can after kicking her around," he said.

"There was a bounty to get pictures of her first birthday," Tony told him.  "A few mags got together to offer a million for pictures of it, more if it was one of the important or usual birthday pictures like her blowing on the cake or having her face smeared with cake and icing."

"At least you managed it by moving it at the last moment," Natasha said.

Tony nodded.  "They're about rabid over the baby.  Happy said one tried to drive him off the road so they could get pictures of her injured."  Natasha growled.  So was Steve.  "The nanny shot out their tires while calling 911."

"I can just see it now.  The first time she breaks her arm they're going to get all alarmist and then you'll have to calm them down," Barton said.

Tony nodded.  "I have to each time we take her to the pediatrician.  They've had stories that she's deathly ill twice now.  One that she got shot by an invading military person.  Dawn decked the reporter that jumped up, grabbed her, and put a camera in her face to demand answers to that allegation.  Once the woman was out of her face she scowled, put her hands on her hips, and said that Callia had the sniffles, which was a normal baby thing.  That all babies had multiple appointments with the baby doctors and she was just fine and normal.  Then she huffed off.  The reporter tried to charge her but the lawyer pulled up the footage from the café she was laying in wait at.  It showed Dawn reacting to a threat."

"The press here in the US get so stupid sometimes," Banner said.

Tony nodded.  "Not the legitimate press but the tabloids?  Yeah.  Especially since they were trying to tie Thor to the Stargate program being outed.  Apparently they thought he could change form to a Roswell Gray.  O'Neill and one of the warriors Xander got him from up there had to counter it."

"Did one of them actually ask Thor if he was sleeping with Xander?" Steve asked.

Tony snorted but nodded.

Barton nodded too.  "The big guy threw a fit.  A 'how dare you sully my family name like that' fit.  I thought he was going to use the hammer on the reporter."

"Someone asked me if I knew about that and I nearly lost my temper too," Bruce admitted.  "I sent a silent thought at Xander and he showed up to chew her a new one."

"I heard Bia laid into one over that rumor," Barton said.

"She showed up to save the wench from Xander and took over.  I've never heard anyone swear in nine languages at once in the same sentence.  The only reason I know it was nine was Doctor Jackson was there for the meeting I was going to and he told me when I asked."

"Was that the geek that we saved from HYDRA later that day?" Barton asked.  Tony nodded.  "Huh.  Yeah, that's a language geek."

"Who ascended once," Natasha put in.

"McKay said it's not all it's cracked up to be," Bruce said.  "He touched the wrong machine on Atlantis and did it."  They all groaned.  "He was working on formulas we still have no idea what they go to."

Stark nodded.  "I've seen some of that.  I've offered his geek team and Mari a spot in the lab."

Bruce blushed but smiled.  "I like Mari.  She's loud and affectionate but she's very good at what she does."

"What does she do?" Barton asked.

"She has four PhD's, she said they're all in blowing shit up," Tony said.  "That's a direct quote."

"Is she family of Xander?" Natasha asked.

"Adopted by Shiva for being so strong.  She's presently fighting off the evil father of arranged marriages."

"Her and Dawn both," Barton quipped, getting pinched by Natasha.  "With the way Thor was going off about it, I almost thought he was hinting."

"He has another ten months to find a fertile mate," Tony told him.  "Odin's decree."

"Jane doesn't want to be immortal," Natasha said quietly.

"We know.  The same as Carolyn Lam didn't.  They've become friends," Tony said.  "They're penpals with Tara too."  She smiled at that information.  "So this idiot HYDRA agent who wants Dawn?"

"Down there next week by his flight reservations," Steve said.  "We're heading down before then.  Coulson will keep her safer than she wants to be until then."

"What is the thing with her scar?" Clint asked.  "I got some of it but not really."

Tony stared at him.  "It makes her feel normal.  Like every other eighteen-year-old girl instead of... what she is."  He looked around.  The meeting area was in the open on the bridge.  "Only real, normal girls worry about things like tanning, bikinis, and scars.  Mystical warriors or artifacts don't."

"That I get," he said.  "Before I thought it was her trying to find the same shallow mask that Buffy wears now and then."

"Part of it is," Natasha agreed.  "Most of it is just the desire to be like every other girl.  We've talked about when it's appropriate to have to disclose her specialness if she finds someone worthy of her."

"She asked Pepper.  Who said that it was probably a good idea to have that talk before the wedding but after you were sure he was the one," Tony said.

Natasha shook her head.  "I suggested only if it became relevant due to an attack or something.  The same as I would not tell of my past as a spy if I married someone normal unless it suddenly mattered.  The knowledge could and probably would drive them off with worrying that an attack could come.  She liked that answer a bit better than Pepper's because of the fear of driving them off."

"She said she'd have to disclose it some day and that guys could only take so much weird stuff," Clint said.  "That the scars and the other stuff would push them too far."  Everyone looked at him.  "That was the night we took her home from the rescue.  How many might know?"

"Anyone who was high enough in the Council to read the report," Tony said.  "That's who set that new contract on her.  They were going to separate them and use the other thing as a weapon to end the demon menace."

"Trial transcripts?" Steve asked, looking worried.

"Sealed.  The UK version of the terrorist court," Tony said.  "We made sure.  Dawn was so worried she had to keep making her desk equipment float back down to sit on the desk."

"Good," Steve decided.  "The British seem to pop up some strange secret societies every few years."

Natasha nodded.  "Mostly they just come to light over doing evil things."

Steve leaned on the table.  "Tara came to me last night.  She had gotten an invitation to a new local pagan club.  She said she asked a few friends and they said it was not what it seemed.  It was like the Hellfire Club on evil steroids from what she said."

"It's a wannabe Hellfire Club," Tony said.  "There's a branch still here in the city and I'm told that they hate that new club.  They may also house some of the cult that Xander had that vision about."

"I always imagined pagan clubs would be either lots of ladies in long dresses sipping tea and reading strange books or them dancing around a fire some nights for celebrations with flowers in their hair and maybe a bit of natural wine," Bruce said.  "Maybe a picnic then a romp in the woods."

"Mostly, the celebrations I've heard about were," Natasha admitted.  "Following the calendar and the old ways."  She frowned.  "It depends on if they're doing it in their name or if they're doing it to worship.  Those who worship use the old ways.  The ones who do it in name are like those televangelists who think God needs money."

"I met one of those doing supposed charity work by standing around nagging the real workers," Bruce said.

Tony grinned, leaning back in his chair.  "Dawn got pounced by one about not being Godly so she shot back about the books that were taken from the bible by that one meeting back in the 800's and the faulty translation King James did.  Then she said at least her way was *natural* and walked off.  I'm pretty sure she had PMS though because she was using Pepper's frozen yogurt habit for lunch that day and LA was pretty cool since it was winter everywhere else."

"I've heard Dawn telling one that God didn't need PR work when they tried to force their fliers on her.  The person called her a heathen bitch and Dawn shot back it was better than being a hypocrite and they went to hell first."

Tony burst out laughing.  "I love it when the Queen of Nag is mouthy that way."

"Is she still nagging you?" Natasha asked with half a smile.

"Yes!  The only one who doesn't get it is Pepper.  She's more subtle with her.  If Pepper is working too late and Dawn suggests a dinner break but gets blown off Dawn orders her something and puts it next to where she's working.  Pepper realizes it, smiles a bit, and eats.  If I'm sleeping in she'll barge in and get me up and nag me into the shower while telling me what I'm supposed to be doing.  I growled about one because I was seriously not feeling good and she quipped it was a good thing I had to hit the doctor for my yearly physical and to remember to wear clean underwear."  Barton burst out laughing, shaking his head.  "If I'm in the lab she'll stroll in and lean over my arm to ask billions of questions until I shove her off and ask what I'm missing."

"That's what she did to me the other night when I was missing dinner," Bruce said with a smile.  "I ended up explaining particle physics to her over dinner in the mess."

Tony nodded.  "I've explained a lot of engineering to her until I realized that she was there to nag me and pulled me out of my building moment.  That's why I wanted her at MIT.  She's used to my crazy genius so she could get on well there."

"I'm sure there's at least one at NYU," Banner said with a smile.

"Why does she avoid one campus?" Steve asked.  "Even driving she asked to go farther around it."

"She said that someone in the physics department is screwing with wormholes and hellmouths," Tony said.  "She checked that campus during her decision process and nearly fled from there.  That reminds me, I should tell McKay that."  He sent him a text message.  He had to admit he didn't know who was doing it but Dawn had felt it on the campus.  McKay promised he'd go recruit.  "Good, that means we don't have to worry about anyone opening up a hellmouth in New York City."  He put his phone back in his pocket as it beeped, looking at it.  "I have to get back to the lab.  Callia somehow got hold of one of the robots and is presently being carried upside down at full speed up and down the halls giggling."  He headed back via the beaming satellite.

Barton looked at Natasha.  "When do we get that?"

"When Stark builds us one," Banner said.  "It came from the SGC people he liaisoned with.  He stole the plans."  They all nodded at that then sighed.  Tara came out to hand them water.  "Thank you, Tara."  She smiled and patted him on the cheek before leaving.  He watched her.  "Is she okay?" he asked quietly.

Natasha shook her head.  "Her stepmother is still trying to initiate contact and nag her about things that no one should ever try to discuss."

"Can Dawn smite them?" Steve asked.  "I heard her saying they were going on her list."

Natasha nodded.  "She did get in a few good swings when the woman found Tara at Stark Tower.  Coulson let her and then had her arrested for assaulting Tara."

"Has anyone told Xander?" Bruce asked.  "Because I've heard him say the same thing about her family."

"I do not know," she admitted.

Fury came back.  "Where's Stark now?"

"Rescuing his daughter from one of the robots she's playing with," Bruce said.  "Tara's stepmother?" he asked quietly.

"I had her sank into a cell so hard her ancestors rattled," Fury said, sitting down.  "That HYDRA operative?"  They passed down the plans they had.  "Good."  He looked around.  "The ones in town?"

"Going to be arrested once he's in the air so they can't contact him," Barton said.  "Coulson set it up long distance, sir."

"Excellent.  Any new dramas outside those?"

"Not that we know of," Natasha said.  "There is no movement on the mafia front to capture her again."

"Why are they still after her?" Steve asked.

"She fought back too hard," Barton said.  "She managed to kill two of them before I got in there."  Fury looked pleased.  "She still won't be an agent, sir.  She's adamant she's not turning into an agent.  But if there's a problem she'll help quietly."

"That's fine.  Sometimes you need a hidden asset.  How good is she?" he asked Black Widow.

She shrugged.  "She could be better.  She's good enough to rescue herself from most things and handle a sudden incident starting in her vicinity.  I would never send her out for undercovers even if she was inclined to be an agent.  She still has a few weaknesses that would make her unstable in the field.  Including how much she's attached to her family."

"Good to know.  What if something happens to the hospital Joyce is in during another battle?"

"Pray like hell," Barton said.  "Dawn will automatically switch from defense to offense to protect her mother or sister if necessary.  Less with Buffy because of her own special skills but with her mother being so down she'll go bitch on 'em to quote her.  I asked.  She agreed it would be unconscious and it would happen without her being able to stop it."

"That's something I would expect in the untrained," Fury said, looking at Natasha.

"I can not turn off her care for her mother," she said bluntly.  "Nor would I.  She's not an agent by any means.  She's the next generation of Pepper Potts only a bit stronger so she can handle Iron Man's battles with him and his daughter when it's her turn."

"That's actually a good thing.  Stark needs a minder," he said, considering it.

"She said she doesn't report to us because we don't pay her," Barton said bluntly.  "She'll tell Coulson if she thinks it's important.  Anything like major injuries or something.  Things like him being in such a foul mood he put on the suit to go fly and beat some cliff somewhere.  Other than that she's never going to tell anything.  I'm pretty sure Stark knows that."

"He does," Steve said.  "He was amazed she didn't tell when he had that moment the last time.  She came in, gave him cocoa, reminded him assistants didn't spill secrets, and unless he broke himself it was like me beating a punching bag.  Then she fluffed his pillow, nagged him to drink the cocoa - her mother's recipe - and left us to talk."

"She's seen what battles do to a person up close and personal," Bruce said.  "I'm sure her sister came home torn apart more than once."

Natasha nodded.  "She always knew, even before Joyce did by her memories.  By the time she appeared there, Joyce already knew about Buffy's calling.  She was also taking basic stitching and bandaging lessons so she could help Buffy after battles."

Fury smiled.  "Every warrior needs a girl like her to go home to after a battle."  Steve nodded.  "Which is why I know half of us around here aren't good enough for her."

Steve smiled.  "She's got good taste in who she flirts with."  Natasha nodded with a smile of her own.

"She picks on me," Clint said.  "She even did a picture like the one that drove us nuts that night when she showed off the boots her sister gave her."

Natasha smiled.  "I helped her.  I could use it to recruit but she said no."

"If it helps us recruit strong agents, I'm all for it," Fury said.

"She said no."

"Fine," Fury complained.  "How was it?"  She found the picture in her phone and showed him.  He swallowed and slid it back down.  Steve caught it to look and blushed, handing it over.  "Come be an agent like this one, strong, powerful, exciting sort of campaign?" Fury asked.

Natasha smiled and nodded.  Barton leaned over to see it and whistled.  "Is that not what they were thinking?"

"It was, yeah.  Including knives in the boot tops."

"It has holsters already sewn in for when she wears them at a club."

Bruce leaned over.  "May I?"  She handed the phone over.  He looked and blinked a few times before handing it back.  "If I was a young man I might've tried out for an agent's spot to meet her."

Steve nodded.  "Many men joined the military because pretty girls prompted them to.  The gun belt was a nice touch, Natasha."

"Thank you."  She put it back into her pocket.

Clint squeezed his eyes shut.  "Damn it."  She slapped him.  "Thank you."  He rubbed his eyes.

"I need one of those I think," Fury complained.  "Where is she now?"

Natasha checked her watch.  "On the beach."  She called up satellite footage and enlarged it.  It was a great view of her on her back, Coulson a bit away being mobbed by cute girls who were oiling his leg down.  He looked like he was protesting but yay.  She showed him.

He stared.  "Now I see why we had the great bikini debate."  He got up and went to his office to have some ice water.  And maybe a walk on the deck in the wind too.

"I still don't see how girls wear that skimpy of suits to swim in," Steve complained.

"She can," Natasha said.  "We made sure she could defend herself if she needed to."

"I'm surprised there isn't a moat of drool around her," Barton quipped.

"Coulson has his own," she agreed happily.  "All her doing."

"Yup, the girl is slightly evil," Bruce agreed.  He got up to go back to the labs.  He'd work out equations that had nothing to do with busty bikinis.

Steve went to do what he usually did to take thoughts out of his head, he went to work out.

"Miami, so are you bringing a bikini?" Clint teased.

"No.  I prefer the topless beach as you well know."  She walked off.  His laughing was a good sound.


Phil looked at Dawn the next morning.  "If I wear a tanktop do you think you can quit encouraging them to rip my shirts off?"

"Sure, you did get a bit burned yesterday."  She smiled.

"Do I even want to know what you're wearing?"

"No.  Probably not."

He nodded she was probably right.  He got to drive because he was being persnickety according to Dawn.  He still made her get up and jog with him too.  They were up to three miles now.  They went to the usual beach and she laid out her towel.  He put his closer, knowing that the pack of succuba pretending to be college girls would pull him away later.  Dawn stripped off to her bikini and he nearly froze.  He glanced around.  "Dawn, this isn't a topless beach," he complained mildly.

"I'm fully covered."

"No you're not."  She adjusted it a bit and even he had to blush.  "Um... not much better, Summers."

She smiled.  "Mom loved this one."

"I think she wants more grandchildren."  He paused and stared at her.

"Regrowing, thanks.  All the talk of kids meant that I started to unconsciously create the structures.  Which is why they removed it and it's regrowing.  So I have a few months without one."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

She looked at him.  "By the day I found out it was already starting to grow, Phil.  That day I got sent home for cramps?  Then."  He grimaced.  "I'm fine though.  The last exam said that it's trying to regrow now."

He nodded.  "As long as it doesn't hurt you."

"So I have to adopt instead?  That's not a bad thing."

"No, it's not.  You'll be a great mother some year in the future."  She grinned and spread out to read.  He was not going to stare at the tiny bright pink thong back.  He wasn't.  He made himself pick up his own book and start to read.  He hit his headset when his phone rang.  "Coulson."  He listened.  "Yes, Pepper, she is wearing a suit.  Her mother liked it."  Dawn flipped over.  He looked at her.  "Pepper just gasped something vulgar so can you put on a shirt now?"

"No."  She smiled as she leaned closer to his earpiece.  "Hi, Pepper.  Mom loved this one.  I'm tanning that new scar out too."  She flipped back over.

He listened to Pepper's demands.  "If I could I would redress her, Pepper.  We all know I want her in something more lengthy."

"I can put on the coverup since it's a bit breezy but it's gauzy," she quipped.  She got up to put it on.  It was like a long tunic with a flirty-low neckline.  You could see right through it.  It was skin colored and the bikini was black and bright pink. 

He took a picture for Pepper since the satellite image didn't catch it very well.  "Pepper just swore that she was telling Stark to find you a husband."

"Tony wants me to marry a geek to follow his footsteps and our kids will help Callia so they can switch back and forth for generations in the suit."  She got back to her book.

Phil repeated that and Pepper agreed that was Tony's master plan but he could find her a good possible warrior geek very easily.  "If she'd let you I'd have to vet him too."

She looked over the edge of her sunglasses at him.  "Don't try."

"Go put on something else?"  He handed over the car keys.  "Please?"

"Fine."  She got up and took the keys, going back to the hotel to change.

He hung up and said a silent prayer for her sanity.  Because that bikini could probably be worn underneath most other ones.  Not even girls in Brazil wore that tiny of bikinis.  He censored the thought about how much she had to shave to get into it.  That was not the thought he wanted to have.  He sent an email to Xander to ask him if any love gods were trying their hand on him with Dawn and to please make them quit.  It was the only reason he had for thinking about how much she shaved.  She came back in one of the structural bikini tops and the same bottom.  The top was more covering, had underwire, and made her look like a stacked goddess.  He whimpered.  She just smiled.  "No picking up college boys."

"I haven't picked up a college boy yet.  The last one I was flirting with was a doctor in his residency."

He slumped and picked up his book to read, holding out a hand.  "Keys."  She handed them over.  "Shorts, or a cover up?" he asked hopefully.

"You hate my khaki shorts."

"That's because they belong on club girls dancing on stage."

"I guess that could be a career option but not why I'm going to college."  He scowled.  She grinned.  "Many girls do."

"You're smarter and better than they are."

"Maybe but a girl does like to be admired."

"I'm sure you've gotten plenty recently."  She beamed and got back to her book, crossing her feet and bending them up so she could wave them in the air.  He went back to his own book, mentally counting how many bullets he had on him so he could shoot their way off the beach if necessary.

Someone had to teach Dawn not to tease the poor men.  It was mean to them.

He nearly flinched when he heard the giggling.  He had to teach her how to torture for SHIELD, not for fun.  He really did.


Phil stopped her the next morning.  "Did you get a different one for each day?" he asked.  She smiled and nodded.  "You can't do laundry?  I'm sure there's one in the city so you can were something....covering."

She sighed and took off her long t-shirt she was using to cover up today.  "Is this all that bad?"

He looked.  It was black with purple lipstick kiss marks.  It was structural and push up like but not too much.  The back of the bottoms actually had a slight back.  The high heeled espadrille sandals were wedges but cute with the outfit.  She huffed at the look on his face.  "The team's going to be here in a few days, Dawn.  Think about what Captain Rogers will do if he sees you in that."

"This is the most covering one I could find."

"What about that one piece Natasha said Pepper found you?"  She sighed but went in to change.  It was shiny black, had tank top-like top with a very scooping neckline, held up by a zipper up the front and a tiny thong back even worse than yesterday's bikini.  He squeaked a tiny sound of horror.  "You look like you're a dominatrix in that," he said.

"That's what Pepper said when I tried it on."  She smiled.

"The bikini," he decided.  "You'll get a whole different sort of boy drooling on you and they might have weapons."  He trudged off, putting on his sunglasses.  He noticed she wasn't wearing hers.  "You'll be blinded."

"I don't want the white circles from the coverage.  It'll make me look like a dork when we get back.  I wear them on and off through the day."

"Fine."  He had to let her drive.  He was having some difficulty with higher thoughts at the moment due to the stampede of bad ones in his mind.


Dawn tapped her earpiece for her phone.  "Hello?"

"What's up, Short Stuff?  Cute outfit," a familiar voice said.

She smiled.  "Natasha helped me pick it out, Clint."  Coulson looked at her.  "I figured it'd be soon.  Are you coming down to join us?  Phil could use saved."

"I'm not saving Coulson, he'd kill me for saving him from the beach nymphs," he said dryly.  "I'm your assistant today."

"Wonderful.  Can you get me a latte then?  It's really warm down here."

"Ha ha.  Maybe later.  Incoming call."  A beep.  "There you go, sir.  Dawn Summers."

"Hello?" she asked, knowing that Clint and probably Coulson were listening.

"Dawn," the semi-familiar voice, usually heard only over loud music in a club said.  "You look excellent spread out on the beach.  Is that a boyfriend?"

She put on her sunglasses with a grin.  "No, that's my big brother sort.  He's protecting my virginity at the moment from the guys playing football who want to drool on me."  The girls around Phil laughed.  She smiled at him.  "So, you're in Miami?  That's great.  Want to meet for dinner tomorrow?"

"Sadly I'm not available tomorrow.  Tonight?"

"Hmm.  I've got a thing to go to tomorrow.  I got invited to an all day party on a boat so I was going to bed early tonight.  So it can't be later than say, seven?"  Coulson shook his head and mouthed 'six'.  "I was thinking of having it at six or so at the Cuban place up the street from my hotel.  Are you nearby?"

"I am and that new scar on your side does not mar you at all."

She blushed and looked then up again.  "Thank you.  It was an unfortunate mugging sort of thing.  He tried to stab me, Mark."

"A pity, pretty one.  Very cute bikini."

She smiled.  "Thank you.  How close by are you?"

"Just watching distance."  He chuckled.  "Your big brother sort does not look fond.  Can you leave him at home tonight?"

"He got sent with me because of the mugging thing and someone who stupidly tried to take me hostage to get an in with the boss.  So I doubt it unless he does a background check on you first."

"No, I'd rather he not," he sighed.

"But we can make him sit nearby instead of at the table."

"That would be excellent.  I will see you there at six, little one."

She smiled.  "I'm not that little."

"I can see that, and the beautiful blush you just sprouted."  The line went silent.

Dawn sighed.  She could tell they were still on there.  She tapped the earpiece a few times.  "How do I hang this up?  It's new and I don't know where all the buttons are yet."

"Let me," Mark soothed and hung up.  The line beeped.

She sighed.  "That means I get a decent dinner tonight," she quipped, smiling at Phil.

"Cuban food can be spicy so be careful."

"I will be.  You'll be across the restaurant anyway so you don't have to do a background check."  She grinned.  The girls around him cooed and hovered nicely.

A sudden bit of shade heralded Clint Barton flopping down on her free side.  "Cute outfit, Short Stuff."

"I'm not that short."

"That's not why you wear the heels?" Clint teased.

"If he imagines you as anything but twelve I'm going to kill him," Coulson quipped.

"Ouch, sir," he teased back with an evil grin.  "Fury suggested I hit on her."

"Not likely," Dawn teased back, smiling at him.  "What is the dress code there?"

"Your green and silver dress," Phil said.

"It's nearly floor length and it makes me look fat."

"It hangs nicely on you," Natasha said.  "You do not look fat in it."  She sat down between her and Coulson, nodding.  "Ladies, can we have him for a few moments?  Dawn's stalker has shown back up."  They agreed it was fine and went to splash in the water for a bit.

"Thank you," he mouthed at Natasha.

"We all thought it was great she could turn so mean and evil," Barton quipped.

Dawn pinched him.  "I'm not mean or evil.  If I was evil I'd graciously allow the very nice busty Brunhilde to hit on my big brother sort.  Clint scanned around and whistled.  If Thor had been a very busty blonde girl, that would've been her.  Dawn smiled.  "I had to tell her you weren't going to be moving down here because she's looking for something serious.  I didn't want to get her hopes up."

"No, I can't move down here," Phil said.  "I need to make sure you don't get stalked around NYU."  She smirked at him.  "And maybe taze Stark a few times for fun."

"Are you sure the green dress is going to be nice enough?  I mean it's a bit beachy and I'm not sure how dressy that restaurant is.  I can wear the silver and black dress."

"Not if you value your life," Phil said bluntly.  "You didn't bring shoes either."

"I brought the black heels for the night I was going to learn how to salsa dance."  He gave her an evil look.  "Every girl should learn.  It teaches you how to use your body better."

Natasha nodded.  "It can, yes."

"Not.  Helping," Phil growled.  "What else did you bring?"

"That dress, my pink gauze dress.  My espadrilles will look nice with it.  One pair of skinny jeans and the black flowy top, again for a night in the club maybe.  Or I was going to wear that on the flight back."

"Are those the same ones that a junior agent asked if they were painted on?" Phil asked.  She smiled and nodded.  "So I'm assuming that top is the flowy top with the slight case of sparkles to draw your eye to the decadent cleavage?"  She grinned.  "Hell no.  Not even on the plane."  The ladies came back and dragged him off to play in the water.  Thankfully his toe was healed, his thigh was healed, and they made a good cover for him to scan the beach.

Clint looked at her.  "Do you enjoy doing that to him?"

"I'm pretty sure I enjoy teasing all guys, but he forgives me for it."  She grinned.

"Wear the green dress," Natasha said.  "Hair up."  She got up and strolled off, getting attention from a lot of the guys that were staring at Dawn.

Dawn looked at her new bodyguard.  "You can go play too."

"Do I look suicidal?" he quipped with a grin.

She stared at him until he looked away.  "I might turn into a shrink instead.  Do you want me to practice?"


She patted him on the wrist.  "Then only tease unless you want an honest answer," she said quietly.  He started to get up but she pulled him back down.  "I'm not picking on you.  I'm not reading your mind.  But if you ask I listen.  Tara does too."

"I doubt anyone...."

She shut her book, using her finger to hold the place.  "Tara once did a spell so that Buffy and none of us could see demons because her father told her she was going to turn into one on that birthday.  He came to collect her.  My sister has never come so close to killing a human in her life."  She stared at him.  "Xander's adoptive family this go-round are the dictionary definition of abusive drunk fuckers."  He shuddered.  "My mom is great but even she had cocoa with Spike to let him talk about Dru.  Who screwed him up mightily.  Willow's parents were traveling, book writing shrinks who told Xander it was his fault Willow had destroyed most of Sunnydale during the trial."  He slumped a bit. 

"I'm very perceptive.  I'm slightly empathic.  That's why a lot of people feel happier when I'm around."  He stared at her.  "Natural thing, can't stop it," she admitted.  She glanced around then at him.  "But Tara and I do listen.  Xander does but he'll give advice.  I've heard my sister purging spew about the demons.  I've heard Spike doing the same about Angelus and Dru.  I'm the only witness to the only time Xander has ever lost his temper in known history.  He may slightly lose it in a battle but he was standing, fuming.  Lost.  It. 

"I was really worried that he was going to destroy the town and this was before he admitted he had powers.  This was after his roadtrip when everyone was back on his ass about being *normal* and too normal to help with the fighting."  She stared at him.  "We've all seen fucked up things.  You haven't lived until you see what Glory nearly did to me in another realm.  I asked during the last Xander convention."  He nodded.  "So, no, fucked up is a scale and you're not at the top.  You're not in the mask strapped to a board teasing an FBI Profiler."

"It was before you met us."

"Bullshit.  I heard."  He stared at her.  "Gossip.  They wanted to make sure that I knew you weren't like that when they found me teasing you that first time."  He relaxed.  "So yeah, I heard.  Loki, all of them, are fucking bastards."  He cracked a grin.  "The one here keeps trying to get into my head too.  He hasn't made it yet.  He hates like hell that his son treats me like his sister.  It leaves his son too stable to use."

"Do you think Xander's been under mind control?"

"I think being turned fish-like like he nearly was left him close enough for the mind of that one to take over.  I'd also thing being possessed by a hyena and having to do her will would be about the same considering they terrorized people."  She glanced around, noticing a few people watching them.  She looked at him again.  "There's worse things than you could have done.  Even with him ordering it, you caused the least amount of damage you could."

"That's not really a good bandaid."

"The only better one is that now you know he can do it so you can prevent it.  There's exercises."  He stared at her.  She nodded.  "There are."  She grinned slightly.  "Buffy went hugely telepathic once thanks to something she was fighting.  I can get the books from Wes.  Giles would panic that I was trying to learn mind magic."

"It's still a scar."

"Yeah but it's not a fatal blow.  Scars happen, even to me.  Hell, I've covered up a shitload of them.  I've healed a few well enough that no one ever knew."  He stared at her again, over the edge of his sunglasses.  "What's the first thing you'd do when you learn there's a hell goddess after you, she's going to destroy everyone you love to get you, and then you?"

"I'd make sure..."  He looked at her wrists.  "Healed?"

"First healing spell I did.  Xander caught me."  He nodded.  "We all have scars.  Some deeper, some uglier.  Some prettier and able to be fixed.  Our inner selves sometimes look horrific through the scars but it doesn't make us all scar tissue."

"I get it.  I've tried."

She nodded.  "I'll get the book for you."

"Thanks, Short Stuff.  Who picked that one out?"

"Natasha.  She said to wear it the day you guys would be down."  She grinned.  "She thinks I should tease you more often."

"I don't mind being teased but you're being evil to Coulson."

"He hasn't had a nightmare in six days," she said quietly.  He grinned back.  "Sometimes a bit of evil is really doing good in disguise."

"Yeah, it can be."  He stood up.  "Go play in the water?"

"I should really change.  Phil made me change one day."

"That's because you're giving everyone evil thoughts."

"You should see the one piece Pepper found me."

"I heard."  He took her down to the water.  She magically protected her bag and their towels so it was okay.  Her phone rang and she tapped the earpiece.  He stared at her, getting a head shake back.  She hung up after an 'okay'.  "Who?"

"Fury.  He thinks that the cult Xander foresaw is in Cleveland and wants me to fix that while I'm down here."

Clint shook his head.  "Not nice of him."

"Oh, he got not nice in the extreme.  He said I should pick a good teacher, one who could make sure I had a thorough education."  She gave him a pointed look.  He splashed her.  She smiled and nodded.

"Hell no."

"He told me to think about it because you'd probably say that."  She splashed him back and ran over to hide behind Phil.  "Your boss is mean.  He thinks I'm too pure and warping you."

He looked back at her.  "Is he trying to set you up with someone?"

"Just a teacher."

He snorted.  "That's not going to work."  She leaned on his back and grinned.  "Who?"  She poked him on the side, getting swatted back.  "Who?" he asked again.

"Only so many buddies down here."

"I'm going to poison him," Phil decided.  "It'll be a nice, slow-acting one too."

"Not you," she said.

"I figured that out."  He looked at Clint, who shook his head quickly.  "She could do worse," he admitted.  Dawn stared at him oddly.  "You could.  Not encouraging because I'll have a headache but there's worse.  Dorans comes to mind."

"He's large but scary," Dawn said.  "And a 'roid abuser by what I've seen in those pants he thinks makes him look nice."

Clint took her earpiece and put it into his pocket when it rang again.  "Before anyone else spreads bad ideas." 

She splashed him then Phil, who got his pack of girls to chase after her.  They dove around Natasha a few times then she jogged out of the water.  She ran into a guy and grinned.  "Sorry, being a girl tag game."  She winked and jogged around him.

He growled and followed.  He was going to pounce that.  Phil walked past him looking like his normal, calm self.  "I'm her big brother and a Federal Agent," he said quietly as he walked past him.  "Turn back around unless you want to be in Gitmo as the prison toy."  The guy turned around and went back to his game.  He looked.  Dawn had disappeared but her towel and bag were gone.  So was the rental car.  "She's back at the hotel?"

"Probably needs a shower," Clint said as he walked around him.  "Nice move."

"Thank you."  Natasha got a look.  "Heading back?" he asked hopefully.  She nodded.  "I'm catching a ride with you."  He smiled at one of the pouting girls.  "Dawn took the car so I'm catching a ride with our friends.  We'll probably be back tomorrow."  They cheered up and went  to party for the night.  He grabbed his towel and book and followed them to their rental.  He slid into the back.  "I'll nominate for medals for heroically saving me.  They wore me out."

"You need more stamina work," Barton teased.

"Yes I do."

"Where's the other one?"

"Her spring break ended.  The rest are going home this weekend."

Natasha started the car and backed out.  "At least you're not some doped up jock," she offered.

"Thankfully no, I have honor."

"Fury wanted to use that picture of Dawn for recruiting anyway."

"There's a slow, long acting poison in his future if he does."  He leaned his head back.  "I'm out of sorts from the teasing.  Anyone else come with you?"

"No," she said.

"Thank you.  I don't need others to see this."

She smiled at the windshield.  It was cute how relaxed he was from all the girls gushing over him and fussing.  She'd have to tell Tara.


Dawn came out in her green and silver maxi dress.  It was fitted with princess seams from the halter neckline to her waist then loose and flowing.  It brushed the top of her sandals.  Her hair was twisted up and secured with a clip and a few bobby pins.  Natasha followed her out of her room, closing the door.  She was wearing a wire.  Phil tipped his head to stare at her.  He was wearing a light gray version of his usual suit at work.  "I know, a lot longer than most of mine."

"Thor wanted you in dresses that long all the time."

"Thor's cute and huge and all but not my type.  He's a bit tense.  He'd never let me tease him."  She checked her purse, taking the key card from Natasha.  "All right, we're going to dinner."  Phil nodded, checking that he had everything, including his phone's earbud that doubled as a communications piece.  Dawn had hers too.  The official one, not the cheap new one she had been using earlier.  They left together to walk to the restaurant.  Clint and Natasha had a good spot set up to listen.

Dawn, of course, had Dawn luck.  She ran into a reporter.  "You're Dawn Summers, assistant to Pepper Potts," the reporter said.

Dawn smiled and nodded.  "I am.  I'm on vacation before college."

"I had forgotten you were so young, dear.  Just a vacation?"  Phil walked around them.

"Yup, just a vacation.  I start school during the second summer session since it'll be slower.  So I'm getting a tan and all that now."  She grinned.  "I'm actually on my way to a dinner engagement.  Is there a problem up there?  No one's told me anything about a statement."

"No, dear.  Just wondering.  It's not often that we get good girls who come down to play."

She grinned an impish smile.  "I'm here mostly to tease with a bikini since you can't do that at home."  The reporter cackled and walked off.  Dawn walked inside the restaurant.  "Hi, I have a date here.  I don't know which name he put it under."

"Dawn," he called.

"That's him."  She strolled over.  "Sorry, ran into a reporter."

"I saw."  He looked her over.  "That's very demure of you."

"Big brother liked it more than my black and silver dress or my new gauzy pink one he thinks is a bit too cute for me."  She put her bag down by her knee and looked at the menu.  "Am I getting my half?"

"No, I will."  She smiled and nodded.  They made small talk throughout dinner then went for a walk up the beach's sidewalk instead of in the sand.  She asked him how his pharmacy down here was doing since he had said he was down for personnel contract negotiations.  He told her a nice lie about how well it was going.  They got lemonades at a cart and headed back toward the hotel.  Of course, Dawn luck held.  People rushed to attack Dawn.  He moved to defend her.  Phil moved to defend her.

Dawn defended herself and got a few down.  Officers rushed up and she panted, acting more scared than she was.  It let Phil walk her off with a nod of thanks for the agent.  She smiled at him and said she'd see him tomorrow before the boat party?  He nodded and agreed to an early breakfast, after her usual jog with her brother sort.  The officers got things cleaned up.  The officers were really SHIELD agents.  They questioned him about things without him realizing it.  It gave them more leads to look through and they could arrest him at breakfast.

Dawn glared at the two spies when she got back.  "The attack?" she asked.

Natasha shook her head.  "It was not us."

"Not at all," Barton agreed.  "You good?"

"I'm fine.  Bruised knuckles."  She waved her sore hand.  "This thing itches."  They went up to their rooms, Dawn taking off the wire and handing it back.  She came out in a t-shirt and a pair of skimpy beach shorts, plus sandals, heading up to the rooftop deck.  It was a pretty night but the club was on the ground so they had the deck mostly to themselves.  The few couples up there wouldn't last too long.  Phil got up there first.  "You looked nice in that non-agent suit," she offered with a smile.

"It's very comfortable but I can't wear it at work."  He settled in to relax.  The other two joined them.  "Anything good come of it and who were they?"

"They were related to the one I rescued you from," Clint said, glancing around.  Dawn grimaced but nodded.  "Minor thugs.  Already questioned and handed over to the locals."  Dawn nodded, settling in her seat.  He looked her over.  "Do you usually dress like that?"

"When I'm not in work clothes or going out?  Yeah.  Why?"

"I never imagined you for the daisy duke sort."

"I'm not.  Nothing's that short.  Comfortable, soft, mostly second hand so they're soft.  Easy to move in and comfortable enough to sleep in if I ended up napping in them.  The colors have gotten darker since I met you guys but mostly still the same sort of clothes.  I was never a surfer chick to wear the board shorts and tanktops.  Now and then I stole a tank top from Spike and Xander but not really."

Natasha nodded.  "I remember your wardrobe when you showed up.  It looked a lot like your sister's.  Sunnier colors, geometric prints, and booty skirts."

"She sent those with me.  Remember, she thought go-go boots were appropriate workwear too."

"Yes, I remember seeing her version of work appropriate," Phil said, grimacing some.  "I think Stark nearly choked."  They smiled.  "We were with Thor then, guarding him," he told them.  "Thor would say something mean about Xander and one of the ladies would smack him with something off a wall.  That was before and after the explosion in Sunnydale."

"I showed Pepper what she had packed me and Tony said he was having stripper thoughts so he paid for me to get my first few work outfits."

Natasha shook her head.  "You look nicer now, more comfortable than in the suits."  Dawn grinned at her.  They all looked at the explosion on a boat off-shore.  "Interesting."

"Not our doing," Phil said.  "I checked for any local ops before coming up here."  Dawn just shrugged.  She was a simple assistant.  Then she stretched up and back.  Phil looked at her.  "Who was that woman?"

"Reporter.  Pepper said to make nice with them.  That the school is encouraging one of their alumni who's in the entertainment reporting business to show up to interview me and I have to play nice with that one.  Usually I play a bit clueless and 'why ask me, I'm an assistant'."  She grinned.  "It works well.  They never ask me for anything pertinent.  Definitely nothing on Iron Man after that first time when they caught me sucking on a pain killer sucker and I said that he was a really nice boss but I'd only seen him in the suit during field tests around the office."

"Pain killing sucker?" Natasha asked.  "Those grape ones?"  Dawn nodded.  "Why?"

"At that time, cutting a wisdom tooth.  Now, the nerve thing."  She shrugged a bit.  "I pulled it wrong when I yanked it out.  If I had realized I would've been more subtle.  It's only three nerves so I can ignore it most of the time unless I slept wrong."

"No healing spell worked?"

"I'm not that vast in healing spells.  The ones I know I tried and it didn't.  Tara's teaching me healing and herb healing too.  It's just taking forever."  That got a group nod.  "She said the real danger of healing others is taking their injury into you so you can heal it in yourself instead."

"We'll remember that," Clint promised.  He looked around.  "Your interview is early.  She looks like a tourist."

Dawn looked and grimaced.  "Guys, if you want to flee, do it now?"  They settled in.  The reporter stomped over.  "Hi."

"Miss Summers.  I'm Maribeth Cornell.  Of *the* Cornells."

"Pleasure to meet you.  I heard the school asked to have an alumni interview me."  She shifted to cross her feet.  "We're just chilling out after a day of vacation on the beach so when did you want to do it?"

"Why not now?" she asked.

She looked at her group, who shrugged.  "I guess if they don't mind.  You're not talking to them though."

"Fine."  She set up her recorder.  "First, I know you're a paid intern at Stark International."

"Yes I am.  Pepper took me in as a mentor when my mother got ill."

"So you've known the Stark family for years?"

"Two years."  She considered it.  "Yeah, two years and four months next Wednesday."

"Then how did you get Ms. Potts as an intern mentor?"

Dawn grinned.  "My mother was on the oncology ward of UCLA.  Due to a situation I had an agent guarding me while Mom was up there and my sister was handling the situation.  The agent, and a few others, suggested I could use a strong mentor while my mother was sick.  Pepper got suggested and we clicked pretty well.  She's been a great mentor.  She's encouraged me in my ideal career path.  She's made sure that I had plans that were realistic, including funding my own college years.  She's been like a great big sister to me."

"What's oncology?"

"My mother has a brain tumor," Dawn said.  "Though it's clear you didn't do much research before coming down here.  That's fairly well known."  The reporter glared.  She stared back.  "Did Miss Havers yell at you a lot?"

"How did you know?"

"You're wearing the pin and I'm graduating from there in a few weeks, dear."  She stared at her.  "Plus they told me they were sending an alumni."

"Oh."  She huffed.  "I want to talk to you about this supposed slayer rumor that is going around.  You seem to know something about that myth."

"She's not a myth, I'm related to one."

"Excuse me?  It's a woman?"

"The slayer is always a female.  Has been since some people way back in grunting and pointing days created the essence that enters the slayer to turn her powers on."  She stared at her.  "There's a huge history on that.  I'd cite the book but I don't think there's any copies outside private hands."

Phil coughed.  "There's one in the New York Public Library system but it's in a special collection.  They inherited it from a deceased Watcher."

She smiled.  "Good to know.  I'll have to look at that, see what's in there.  Tara could use the outing too."  She looked at the reporter again.  "In that case, it's in Olde English but still pretty readable if you could read some of the English assignments we've had."  She shifted to cross her legs in the other direction.

"We know that all that is a myth," she said.

"So I take it you didn't see the invasion?" Dawn asked.

"Of course I did!  Everyone did.  I was even down near there trapped at a Starbucks."

"Remember the short blonde girl and the curvy brunette fighting beside her?"  The reporter nodded slowly.  "They're the current slayers.  There's presently two due to CPR.  The older one got temporarily killed but someone revived her."

"Why are you so evasive of who she is?" she demanded with a saccharin smile.

"Because I don't want crackpots hounding my family to try to take her out.  It's happened in the past and I'm not going to risk my mother's life for that.  If someone should attack my mother in the hospital I'll kill them all and then the nice relatives and friends can all go 'wow, I didn't know she had that sort of temper'."  She stared at her, smiling slightly.  "I wouldn't out anyone's security so their family got attacked.  Why would I out mine?"

"It's said that your sister was Mr. Stark's surrogate."

"Not exactly.  There was a government program that decided they wanted to see what my sister's kid would be like with Mr. Stark.   That came out with the birth announcement.  Again, research might've been handy," she said dryly.  "Everyone else knows that.  Callia's an adorable child.  I spend as much time as I can with my niece.  She's incredibly bright and likes shiny things right now."  She grinned.  "She helps me file sometimes and we play and read together all the time."

"If there's two slayers why won't you name the one not in your family?" she asked.

"Why would I risk any of her relations?  I would be responsible and feel very guilty if someone died because they wanted to attack the slayers' families and managed it," she said coolly.  "The same as I wouldn't mention anyone in your family's security arrangements in case they got attacked."

"Is that a threat?" she asked.

"No, it's a statement of fact and I don't know your family, dear.  I've never even seen a news article on them."

"We're famous."

Dawn shrugged.  "So?  Fame is annoying.  It gets in the way of the fun things in life.  If you can't hit Starbucks without someone commenting then what use is it?"  The reporter gaped.  She smiled.  "Thankfully I went for smart over fame.  That's why I'm graduating magna cum laude next weekend."

"Congratulations.  I knew you were near there," Phil said quietly.

Dawn grinned.  "Thank you.  Even without the biology final.  I took it early."  He grinned.  "Before you ask something dumb, this guy is like my big brother.  I met him through Pepper.  He complains about how high my heels are and kept trying to make me put on a bigger bikini this last week."

The reporter huffed.  "There's rumors that you're sleeping with an Avenger.  Which one is it?"

If the idiot reporter wasn't going to mention she was sitting next two of them, Dawn wasn't going to enlighten her pea brain.  Though she could feel Natasha trying hard not to giggle her ass off.  The look she saw from the corner of her eye on Barton's face as he was trying not to laugh was nearly hilarious.  "I'm still a virgin, dear.  I'm not even dating right now," she said blandly.  "I want it to mean more than a backseat tumble or in a club so I choose to date first.  Right now, things are a bit hectic so I haven't had the time to date more than a few times.  As for the Avengers, they're all very nice people.  A bit snarky now and then but fairly great people.  I've learned some from most of them.  Thor taught me how to swear about horses in Norse the other day.  He was swearing at his sister's pegasus biting him."

The reporter gaped.  "Then why do you know them?"

"I'm Pepper's assistant.  She has to sometimes attend meetings with them or help Mr. Stark with things for them.  Recently I've been helping file around their office because one of the senior assistants went on leave.  I make a lot of coffee, deliver a lot of files, and file a lot of non-classified files.  I spent my spring break doing that actually."

The reporter blinked.  "So you're an *assistant*?" she demanded.  Clearly this was not the story she had expected to do.

"Yes, I am.  Pepper found me a job I absolutely adore."  She grinned.  "It's let me have some incredible experiences."

"So Mr. Stark is paying your way through school," she said snidely.

"No, I'm paying my way through school."  The reporter's mouth flopped open.  "Occasionally Mr. Stark will refund it for me because I've caught something like a major accounting error but I pay for my own school, my own rent, my utilities, my food costs, and my own clothes.  I also plan on paying for all my own schooling.  I have a great college fund set up for that.  I won't need a single student loan.  Pepper made sure my plans were financially sound and helped me find someone to teach me about investing my tiny portfolio so it grew.  So unless the stock market, the bond market, and a few other markets plunge I'm all set for college and working part time during it to make sure I'm not drawing too heavily from my savings."

"She makes you pay your own rent?"

"Not until my eighteenth birthday.  That's why my college fund is so massive."  She smiled.  "Pepper and I worked out an agreement when I asked if she wanted me to pay rent.  She said she wasn't going to charge me until I was eighteen.  I only had to provide my own food because I was living above her garage in a really spacious apartment that had a killer bathroom and closet system.  Now that I'm in New York full time, we found me a wonderful apartment that's rent controlled and I still pay my own way.  I'm not the sort of girl to lay on my back, think of England, and hope they pay the rent for it."

"Your part time salary covers rent in New York?" she sneered.

"No, actually I'm full time.  Have been for a while now.  I'll be part time during college.  That way I don't have to worry about missing classes for important meetings in Asia again."

"Oh," she said, drawing it out.  "So then your family gives you no help?"

"I don't want to stress my mother out any more than I have to.  Fighting cancer wears you and all those around you out.  I want to be the least stressful thing in her life so she can concentrate on her fighting and beating the cancer.  My sister and I both agree.  She's visited as often as she can and I'm with her at least one day a week.  While I'm on vacation I've asked a friend to pop in on her to check on her."

"That's very nice of you," Natasha said.  "He did and brought pictures of Callia."

Dawn grinned.  "Mom would definitely appreciate that since she can't be brought to the hospital."

"Why not?" the reporter asked.

"Well, because cancer floors are as germ free as possible," Dawn said.  "And kids always have some sort of germs on them from playing and being active.  Secondly, there's an age rating for the floor she's on.  No one under sixteen, even their children.  It's considered stressful for both the patients and the children."

"I suppose that makes sense," the reporter said in a way that meant she had no idea what Dawn was talking about.  "When you start college, what are you majoring in?"

"Business with a double major in accounting and a minor in communications."  She smiled.  "I start in eight weeks during the second summer session."

"You're going early?" she asked, looking horrified.

"Soonest started, soonest done," she quipped.  "I want to get in there, knock it out, get it over with in the best fashion I can, and then get back to my life."

"Most people want to stay in school."

"Yes, but most of them want to stay in school because they appreciate the parties.  I'm not really a party girl.  I may club now and then but I don't drink outside a glass of wine with dinner and one really traumatic night when they said my mother's brain tumor had regrown.  I don't use drugs.  I don't party like a freshman and I'm not rushing a sorority.  Everything I need to do in college is in a classroom, not in a party room.  Why do I need to drag that out?  Beyond that, half of those wouldn't draw it out if they were paying their own way, like I am."

"Mr. Stark won't pay for it for you?"

"Why should I ask him to?  It's my college education and it's my job to fund it.  It's the responsible, adult thing to do.  I have the money, I'm paying my own way.  If I didn't have the money then I'd look at student loans and all that.  Since I saved well over enough to get an MBA and still live in a killer apartment, wear fancy clothes, and eat out whenever I want, without working for the next four years, I'm good with paying for my own way."  She smiled.

"So this slayer in your family," she said.

"Redirecting like that doesn't really confuse people," Dawn said.  "And to clue you in, most of us consider it pretty darn rude.  You're still not getting who it is.  Actually, if you had done your research you might already know.  It has been noted in the press before."

The reporter glared.  "I still think that there's something going on, Miss Summers.  No no-talent girl like you gets where you are on your legs."

"Oh, I have plenty of talents," Dawn quipped.  "Including secretarial ones.  Pepper had me take all sorts of tests to see were my skills were so she could channel me into a career I'd like.  It turns out I'm a super assistant.  I also have enough math and science skill to understand when geeks start to babble at me about their inventions, and I'm good at helping Pepper translate it back into normal people talk.  Beyond that, I've seen what real warriors go through. 

"Slayers go through hell to protect people, including nightly patrols.  And yes I mean every single night for multiple hours each night.  Even if they're tired, they're sick or injured.  I've seen plenty of battle injuries so even if Stark is injured during a battle I can help Pepper without fainting like some of the office staff.  Beyond that, I'm also a kick ass researcher with a slight gift toward languages.  I'm learning six of them at the moment.  So yes, I have talents but I'm still a virgin so I have no idea if my talents extend into the bedroom."  The reporter got up and huffed off.  Dawn pulled out her phone.  "Pepper, sorry, I tried."

"I know you did," the speaker said.  "What a bitch."  Dawn giggled.  "I'll call her editor to see if they'll send someone with a clue and who knows how to research out.  By the way, Buffy's fine.  That cult is in Cleveland the last I knew, and you had better not wear that red bikini down there.  It's too small and you said it was only for sunbeds."

"I didn't bring it, Pepper.  It's in the bathroom for when I need to wear something while nairing."

"Good," Pepper said, sounding more cheerful.  "How was your dinner?"


"Pity.  You'd think guys like that who were trying to draw in a young woman would be more interesting.  Have a good night, people."  She hung up.

Dawn put her phone back in her pocket, leaning back to do it then sitting back up straight.  "Sorry, the power of snark does come naturally from my sister."

Barton burst out laughing.  "You did fine, kid."

"Thanks."  She grinned at Natasha.  "Didn't you find me a new version of the red bikini in the right size?"

"I believe it's the one you haven't worn yet."

"I was going to wear that tomorrow."

"No," Phil warned.  "I've seen the picture of you in it, Dawn Summers.  We don't need you to be plucked up like some tasty chocolate treat from the beach."  She looked at him.  "I'll probably have some work to do.  Which means you'd be on your own."

"Isn't that why I train with her?" she asked, pointing at Natasha.

"Yes, but still.  I've seen you in that picture."

"It was too small when that was taken.  This one fits."

"I get approval in the morning."

"Yes, big brother sort."  She smiled.  "I could've said the blue one."  She shrugged and got up to stretch.  "Let me go to bed, guys.  I have a long day of lounging to do tomorrow.  Night."  She strolled off.  She got nearly to the elevator before someone tried to pull her into a kiss.  She stomped on their foot and made them howl.  "Ask, like a normal guy.  I like guys who ask instead of grabbing.  This isn't the caveman days.  We can do more than grunt."

"I wanted a kiss?" he said, looking hurt.

She kissed him quickly.  "There."  She got onto the elevator.  "Anything else requires dating, a lot of dating."  The doors closed and she went down to her room to nap.

Phil was glaring at the young guy, who slunk off before he got beaten to death by the overprotective people.  "Did you have to dress her like that?" he asked Natasha.

"Those shorts she picked out."

"I knew that.  I meant that bikini."

"The rest made her look bad.  I wanted her in something a bit more substantial so she teased instead of blatantly showed.  They all made her look hippy and heavier."

"No comment because I don't want to spar tonight," Barton said when Phil glared at him.  "I didn't pick out a single one of them."

"Thank you for that.  If she asks, try to make her put on real clothes?"

"That dress earlier was a bit massive."

"And didn't look right on her," Natasha said.  "We'll get her something better for her next vacation."  She looked at Phil.  "Did she buy the story that you broke your toe?"

"I did break my toe," he said.

"Yes, but you broke your own toe," Barton said with a smirk.  "Fury was living up to his name when he realized that."

Phil shrugged.  "She needed the protection.  I've turned in a number of dealers and gun runners while down here."

"I can see why," Natasha said.  "Maybe next time she'll go on a cruise or something safer."

"She said she's going for Mardi Gras this year," Phil warned.

"We'll talk to her about drinking again," Natasha said.  "Let me retire for the night as well."  She left, going back to her own room to cackle gleefully.  It was fun watching Phil Coulson slowly lose his mind because of Dawn in a bikini teasing people.  It was the most fun she'd had in ages.


Barton caught sight of Dawn at the hotel's buffet line the next morning.  She was wearing a gauzy coverup that showed the bikini very well.  "No way in hell you're leaving this building in that," he said quietly.

She looked at him.  "You're not the big brother," she noted with a grin.  "And how are you this morning?"

"That's much too showy.   Coulson would flip his wig."

"He doesn't have a weave."  She reached around him for a muffin the worker was putting out.  "I'll be fine."

"Who bought you that one?" he demanded, following her to the table.

"Natasha helped me pick it out.  She thought I should get it in black but the sparkly deep blue works better for me."  She sat down.

"You can't go out unless Coulson sees you in that," Barton said firmly.

Phil walked down to join them.  "Her door closing woke me up."  He looked her over.  "I see you did replace that red bikini."  He shook his head.  "No."

"I can go out on my own.  I'm a big girl and I know self defense."

"You can wear that out of this hotel if Natasha goes with you.  Otherwise no."

"I only go to the topless beach," she said, sitting down to eat breakfast.  She looked at Dawn.  "That does fit you very well.  Perhaps a navel ring though."

"No, no new holes.  I might think about fun ones later on, after I realize why they're fun, but not yet.  Topless?  Like fully clothing optional or just topless?"

"Just topless.  There's too many perverts staring at the clothing optional one," Natasha said.

"Then I'm good with that idea."  They shared a smirk and finished up.  The guys were still complaining but yay!  They had met the rules.

Coulson looked at his junior agent.  "No way in hell," Clint said.  "I didn't even bring a swimsuit, sir."

Coulson smiled.  "I'll have paperwork all day."

"They're big girls.  Natasha will take care of her.  I do not want to see a topless beach.  Half of the women there need the structure because it looks like National Geographic."

"Fine but if there's an incident you are first on site."

"Fine.  I'll be at the big sports shop."  He finished up and went to grab what he needed to go shopping.  The new bow models were out.  They couldn't compare to his but it was nice looking.

Phil had a more leisurely breakfast.  The forms to be filled out were already in his email and done.  It was a great excuse to avoid the pack of girls Dawn had sicced on him.  A few were trying to get attached and he couldn't have that.


Dawn called home, putting it on speaker low enough that only Natasha could hear it.  "Home for Horny Teenagers," a male voice answered.

"Isn't your daughter too young for that?" Dawn asked.

"Who's talking about her?  I'm talking about me.  I haven't even gotten the chance to go flirt with someone recently."

"I might be able to find some of the deaging candy that Ethan Rayne put out one year.  It's only mentally deaging though.  It was kinda funny.  Mom kept nagging Buffy to loosen up."

"No thanks," Tony said.  "Really.  I hate it when you guys go on vacation.  Hi, Callia."

"Hi, Callia," Dawn cooed.

"Dawn-Dawn!" she squealed.  "Beach?"

"Yup, I'm on the beach.  I have some nice pictures for you of some of the people I met down here."

"Story?" she asked.  "Story story story story story story story story story," faded into the distance and came back.

"What book do you have?  I'll read to you," she promised, settling more comfortably on the chair.

"She has the Barnabus book," Tony said, sounding like he was smiling.

Dawn cleared her throat.  "Follow along in the book, Callia."  She recited it.  The baby loved that book so she read it all the time.

Tony was clearly happy.  "She's napping.  She had been helping me tinker with a new repulsor replacement.  Where's my orange notebook?  I can't find anything when Pepper leaves and now you've inherited that."

"The second bedroom that's not really a bedroom, but you're too exhausted to make it to bed and you're wandering to the right instead of the left side of the lab?  Second shelf in there."

"Thank you."  He clearly carried the phone with him and made a happy sound when he found it.  "Why the call?  Did you have psychic assistant senses that I was lost and needed nagging?  Because usually by the time I start finding things myself I don't remember why I have an assistant until one of you beats me on the head with something I forgot."

"You're already forgetting things, Callia has an appointment with the pediatrician at two today," Dawn said dryly.  "I called to make sure that Pepper wouldn't freak out because we're not on the usual beach."

"We?" he asked.  "Topless or nude?"

"Natasha's glare at me says I can't tell you, boss," she said dryly.  "Just let her know so she doesn't freak if she tries the satellite thing again."

Tony hummed.  "Clearly not looking in the right place," he complained.

"She's glaring like she's going to kick your butt, bossman."

"She can try but I can fly and she can't."

"We will see," Natasha said dryly.

"Hi, Pepper, remake the doctor's appointment?"

"Already have," she assured her.  "Dawn, is that you?"

"We're not on the normal beach."

"I saw that.  Are you okay?"

"We're fine.  Natasha and I are together since Phil has paperwork."

"Fi-Fi?" Callia asked.

"Yup, he has paperwork."

"Oooh?" she asked.

"Yup, just like I usually read to you.  I'll text him to have him call and read it to you so he gets done faster." 

The baby cheered.  "Bikini?" she asked.

"Yes, I'm in a great bikini, baby girl."

"Cool!" Callia said happily.  You had to imagine that she was beaming happily.

"Did you teach her that or did she learn that word?" Tony asked.

"I taught her."

"That's fine then.  What bikini are you wearing today?"

"If I told you it'd be reverse sexual harassment according to Phil."

"Oh, damn," he muttered.  "Bring Pepper pictures?"

"Of course.  She has pictures of all of them anyway.  She was half of my approval committee.  Phil vetoed one down here but I changed tops."

"I remember," Pepper's voice said.  "Go back to relaxing."

"You're coming, right?"

"What, excuse me?" Tony asked.  "Pepper's not due for a vacation.  She has things to do, like run the company and nag me about things that I don't want to do."

"I'm going for the weekend then Dawn and I will fly back together," Pepper said with a smile.  "I could use a weekend on the beach."

"Bikini?" Callia asked her.

She smiled.  "I have one but your dad won't get to see it."

"Cool!"  She clearly bounced off.

"Callia, leave those alone and you can help me rebuild the helmet again," Tony called.  "I should pout that you're both having fun and I can't have any."

"Gala Wednesday, boss," Dawn reminded him.

"Oooh, yay," he said sarcastically.

"At least Pepper and I get to be dressed up.  Then you get to see me in mediaeval clothes next month."

"Why are you going to the stuffy British event?"

"Giles is speaking and Buffy wanted backup.  She might have flashbacks to the halloween dress of doom.  I still have to pick out a costume and figure out how to put on a corset properly."  Tony groaned.  She laughed.  "Have a better day, Pepper, and maybe he'll find something fun to do."

"We can only hope," she agreed.

"Mousy!" Callia yelled.

Tony looked her way.  "What?"


"Another mouse person?  Later, Dawn."  He hung up.  The baby was pointing and pouting.  Xander appeared, squatting down to look.  "Xander?"

"We'll go look at the mousy person, Callia, see what it is."  She stared at him.  He stood up and held out a hand.  "Show me?"  She pouted.  "C'mon, you can show me.  We'll talk to them."  She took his hand and walked with him.  He could read where she wanted to go.  One of the guards gave him an odd look.  "I'm her godfather."

"Mousy," she said.

"We're going to look at the mouse people."

"Mouse people?  Are you that Alexander guy?"

"I am."  He smiled.  They let the baby lead them to her room and Xander looked for her.  "It is one of those.  I'm very sorry I let the cat attack you last time.  I had no idea your people were peaceful until I looked you up."

"It's all right, sire."  He smiled and waved at the baby.  "We're here to look after her for her Ma.  Spike asked us to do it for her."

"That's very nice of Spike and her mother."  He looked at Callia.  "The mouse person is here to make sure you're okay for your mommy."

She frowned and patted it.  "Easy, miss," the tiny being said.  "I'm not mean."

"He's not mean," Xander said.  "He's a good boy."  He picked him up and put him on her shoulder.  "He's here to make sure you're okay."  She smiled and patted his foot.

"Is that demonic?" the guard asked quietly.

"I'm not totally sure.  I've only found one reference and it was by an idiot Watcher.  He thought they were half Little People and half a harmless demon species.  They are harmless and protective.  If something happens around her they'd probably try to protect her."

The guard looked at the smiling thing on his future boss's shoulder.  "Should we leave things out like they did in the myths?  My grandmother told me about Little People."

"No, sir.  She leaves us plenty with her snacks."  He smiled at her.  "C'mon, we'll go watch you play."

She squealed and ran back to the lab.  "Mousy!" she said, bounding around.  He was holding onto her collar.

Xander strolled in smiling.  "Harmless.  Totally harmless.  Protective.  Spike asked them to watch over her for Buffy," he said quietly.

"Then I'm sorry I sicced Natasha in cat form on you."

"That's fine.  Not many can get away from her when they see her coming.  Not that many men want to get away from her when they see her coming."  Tony grinned.  "She's a fine baby.  Very bright."  Callia pulled him around to hug.  "Easy, missy."

"Mousy friend."  She grinned and kissed him on the head then put him back on her shoulder and bounded off to play with the helmet daddy had promised they could fix.

Tony looked at Xander.  "Question."


"She's been having repeated nightmares."

Xander frowned.  "She hasn't had any reason for nightmares."

"She keeps saying demon when she wakes up."

"There's no way.  No pre-slayer should have slayer dreams."  He paused.  "Unless it's a critical emergency that will end the line."  He disappeared.  He was going to have to break some major rules this time.


Dawn strolled out that night dressed up.  The hotel's doorman tipped his hat and summoned a cab.  "Thank you."  She got in.  "I'm looking to hit a nice place to learn how to salsa dance."

The driver looked at her.  "There's one not that far away.  Are you old enough to get in?"

"I'm eighteen but I don't drink."

"I'll take you to the one farther away.  They don't check ID's."

"Thank you."  She got comfortable, making sure her hair was nicely laying.  She paid when they got there and she got out, getting into line.  The bouncer strolled over.  "The nice driver said I could learn how to salsa dance here," she said with a grin.  "I'm not drinking."

"Are you even eighteen?"  She pulled out her ID.  He nodded.  "Fine."  He let her in and pointed for the bartender.  "No drinking."

"Not an issue," Dawn quipped.  She looked at the floor and carefully moved down there.  She wasn't used to this sort of club and there were always club rules.  One of the guys walked over.  "I wanted to learn.  It's said it's great to teach you how to use your body."

"It is," he agreed, leading her out to show her how to move.  She didn't do bad.  She could slightly move.  "Relax," he soothed, moving closer to nuzzle her ear.  "It's all about showing how sensual you are."

Dawn smiled.  "Never learned the depths of that skill either."  He moaned and the dance got a bit warmer when he pulled her closer.  And yup, there was Dawn luck.  Thugs walked in.  She turned and shook her head.  "One of them tried to take me last month because of who my boss is," she told him.  "Can we move deeper onto the floor?"  He nodded and led her that way.  She did look good enough to make it near the center of the floor, even though she was still learning.  The other guys nodded at her looks.  She was pretty, confident, and looked nice enough.  One of the more experienced dancers took her from her partner and she smiled.  "I'm still learning."

"It's good to learn.  Teaches a woman many things about her body," he said in broken English.

"That's why I need to learn." 

He smirked and showed her a few new moves.  She did fine.  She looked fine.  The only problem was someone tried to take her.  "I believe she's mine right now."  The thug stomped off.  "Boyfriend?" he asked.

"No, they tried to kidnap me last month to get my boss to pay ransom.  I'm an administrative assistant.  Personally I'd like to shoot them but the boss said I'm not allowed."

"Hmm," he said.  "Real men don't have to kidnap women."

"They're Russian thugs," she said, turning when he prompted.  He turned her back around.  "I work in New York."

"That figures.  They're not real men like South American men are."  She smiled and teased his chest.  He let her shelter with him for now.  When the thugs came back with help, he led her to the emergency exit and took care of the slugs from overseas.  They clearly were not good for Miami.

Dawn caught a cab and fluffed out her hair, sighing a bit.  "You're not Russian, right?"

"No, miss."

"Thank you, Goddess.  Excelsior hotel please?"  He nodded, driving her off.  She stretched her neck and back as much as she could.  She spotted Phil before the cab even got near the entry.  She paid and a tip.  "Thank you.  Please don't see me."

"I never met you," he assured her with a grin.

She got out, the doorman helping her.  "Thank you."  She smiled and tipped him then walked over to Phil.  She couldn't avoid him, he'd catch her.  If she managed to make it around him he'd give her that disappointed look.  "Dance club, no drinking," she said when he stared at her.

"Where you somehow started a fight between a South American cartel second and the Russian mob?"

"I was learning how to salsa dance and the guy nicely sheltered me and helped me get away when the thugs came back for a second try with more help."

He took her arm carefully and walked her inside, waiting until they were thankfully alone in the elevator.  "I'm going to chain you to your bed," he warned.

"I had no idea the dancers were connected.  I let the cabbie pick the club."

He stared at her.  "No research?  You know better."

"I couldn't find any."

"Uh-huh.  We'll talk later.  After you change out of that dress and those shoes."  He looked her over.  "I think you've outgrown it.  It's shorter than it used to be."  He walked off the elevator.  "Come on, Dawn."  She barked but followed.  "I can find you a nice leash set," he offered.

"Only if you want to need it," she countered.  Natasha leaned out of her room and shook her head.  "Salsa club.  By the way, there are Russians down here."  She got into her room and firmly shut the door, locking it before anyone could get in.

Phil looked at her.  "We need to implant a new tracker.  Her last one died already."

"I'll have one sent down."  She pulled back in to laugh.  She texted Dawn but Dawn assured her she was fine.  The nice guy dancing with her had helped her get out of there before it became a problem.  The second text that she hadn't known he was in a cartel himself made her snicker more.  "Only her," she decided.  Natasha checked the clock.  A half hour later Dawn was complaining she was bored and it was only ten.  Natasha agreed she was rested as well. 

Dawn promised to change into something nicer and cuter.  The pink dress of doom came out of the bag and she came out changed.  Natasha found something nice enough and joined her.  The pink dress was gauzy, flowy, ruffley, and nearly see through in the right light.  It drew attention to all of Dawn's assets, including her shape.  Natasha had been brilliant talking her into buying that one.  They left together for the club at the hotel.  It was safer in case they had more Dawn luck.

Coulson came out calling Barton.  He was up a floor above Dawn's room.  He met him at the elevator.  "What was she wearing?"

"Something pink and fluffy that made her look like a wanton virgin."  He scratched his ear.  "And those sandals from the beach."

"Great," Coulson agreed.  "At least she changed from the other dress."

"I spotted her coming in.  Salsa dancing?"

"Yes."  They got off the elevator and headed for the club.  They could just barely see Dawn.  The pink stood out among all the black, tan, and grays in the room.  Natasha had already blended in.  Dawn was like a beacon of bright light and the DJ was shining the spotlight on her.  Barton moved to flank Dawn, making sure nothing too harmful was near her.  Natasha was letting her hair down up the floor.  Coulson could watch from the edges.  Even though one of the girls had spotted him and was forcing him onto the floor.  He could protest but all SHIELD agents had to be able to fit into any environment so he could almost dance.

Dawn grinned when she spotted her minder.  "I'm fine," she mouthed.  He shrugged.  She rolled her eyes and turned back to dance with the nice guy.  He wasn't even groping.  Maybe he had felt the knife on her thigh when he had gripped her.


The trio had to leave Dawn three days before her vacation ended.  Coulson set down rules.  She'd probably ignore half but he would nag her into it.  Including that she had to hit the gym at least once while they were gone and she had to keep jogging.  Not to wear anything too slutty on the beach.  Or on the plane ride home.  No wild parties, or partying at all.  Beach, dinner, back to the room.  She joked about being grounded but he assured her she was for slipping out to go clubbing.  She pouted.  He smiled and patted her on the shoulder then they left.  By the time they hit the airport he had a report from a junior agent still in town watching someone that his assignment had seen her, wanted her, and gotten rebuffed, and was she allowed to wear a yellow smiley face bikini?

He sent back a slight set of orders to protect Dawn, who she was, and that he should encourage her to change.  As long as she didn't end up less clothed somehow.


Fury looked up when Coulson walked in with his pile of reports.  "You had that much trouble with her?"

"No, sir, we found a great many problems on the beach thanks to them staring at her."  He handed over the stack.  "The only problem I had with her is that she snuck out for salsa dancing lessons and nearly got a war started between the Russians that want her and some South American drug dealers she had been taking lessons from."

Fury shook his head.  "Why," he complained.

"They were protecting her when the Russians tried to invade the salsa club."

"Great!"  He glared.  "How many arrests?"

"All through the locals, sir."

"Any coming from Romanoff?"

"Not that I'm aware of.  Or Barton."

"Even better."  He made shooing motions so Phil left him to his headache.  He read them over.  Coulson clearly had problems since he described each bikini.  He accepted one report from Romanoff.  "Bigger problem?"

"On how Dawn sicced some partying college girls on Agent Coulson," she said with a smile.  "She said it helped with his sleeping troubles."  She strolled off.

"Even better.  I thought he looked too tanned."  He read that one first.  He wanted film to prove it but he doubted she had exaggerated that much.  Clearly someone had lost their mind in Miami and he wasn't sure which one it was.


Xander felt pulled as he reappeared on his own plane.  He went to the judges panel knowing he was right in what he had done.  "I had to break the barriers."

"Why?" one asked.  "What is that important?"

"My duty and calling."  The judges stared at him.  "There are more than one pre-slayer having slayer visions."

"Which means a huge problem," the head judge agreed.

"My job is as Protector of Humanity."

"It is," he said.  "I helped nominate you.  What is that important?"

"If multiple not-called slayers are having visions it means that it is a threat not only to the slayer line but also to humanity," he pointed out.  "I went to talk to another of myself in that realm."

"How did you explain your godhood?" another judge asked.

"We met during a convention of us that some of us called."  He smiled.  "There were many of us there, though I was the only god."  They groaned.  "It's on a separate realm so no real barriers breaking.  That one runs a comic shop."

"What are comics?" the head judge asked.  Xander showed him one.  "Why was this important?"

"Look on the cover."  He did and scowled.  "That is about the same figure that Callia Stark, daughter of the slayer Buffy and a pre-slayer, saw in hers.  She's mostly preverbal so I could get a clear image without her emotional overtones on it."

"That being is very dangerous," the head judge agreed, handing it back.  "Will that help you protect humanity?"

"To them we're a comic."  He smiled.  "It may not have a totally right history but it will have how the people there figured out how to fight him.  Some of the writers and artists are gifted."

"Very well.  That is a good reason," the head judge decided.  "You must tell others."

"I am."  He bowed.  "Thank you for the indulgence."  He appeared in Valhalla.  "People."  They all stared at him.  "We have pre-called slayers having visions."

"That means that there is a huge threat to earth," Tyr said gravely.

Xander nodded.  "There is.  That's why I jumped realms to talk to someone who knew history in strange ways."  He held up the comic.  "What is he to us?  I have not heard tales of him from any Aesir."

Odin looked, scowling.  "He is very bad news.  We are all doomed, Grandson.  Are you sure he comes?"

Xander nodded.  "The slayers have been seeing him.  Who is he?"

"It was before your time," Frigg said quietly.  "There was a war with him.  Many Gods died."  Xander listened, nodding.  "It is said that when he comes back the rest of us will."

"We cannot defeat him," Odin said.  "That is why Valhalla and all it holds is doomed."

Xander stared at him.  "Since when does a true Asgardian not die with his sword in one hand and a mug of mead in the other?" he sneered.  "We are no more doomed than we let ourselves be.  I, for one, will fight this monster no matter what, both for humanity and the Gods."

Odin stared at him, swallowing.  "It is true but before we were not strong enough."

"There are more of us now," Xander reminded him.  "Even my own father and my uncle."

Odin nodded.  "We are at your call to protect us all."

"Thank you.  Let me warn the rest."  He looked at Tyr.  "I need everything we have on him and any prophecies for I know that Valhalla is full of them."

"There's only a song," Frigg said, summoning the stone it was on.

Xander read it and nodded.  "The child born to the Power for the Light and the Power of the Light is Callia Stark."  They slumped.  "Her mother is a slayer, her father Iron Man."  He looked at them.  "This one is sure?"

"The person who saw it was," she assured him.  "As sure as yours have been, grandson."

He nodded.  "Very well then.  We will fight."  He disappeared, going to Zeus next.  He was the next powerful and he could use Ares.  He would've went there first but protocol demanded he warn his natal family before anyone else.  He found them in meeting.  "Hold.  I have news."  They stopped arguing.  He handed the stone to Ares.  "The pre-slayers are all having visions."

"That means humanity itself is threatened," Hera said.  Ares nodded, handing on the stone.  "Oh, no."

Xander nodded.  "Yes, it appears.  I had to break the barriers to get information from another realm.  It's surprising how many of our bad and evil ones show in comics in other realms.  Or tv shows."

"Is he messed up with Dahok?" Hercules asked.

"Dahok is a lesser form of who he is," Ares said.  He cleared his throat.  "My warriors are at your command, Xander."

"Thank you.  I have no idea when he attacks, yet.  When I do I'll let you know."  He shook his hand and took the stone back to visit all the other existing pantheons.  Then he went to Avenger's headquarters.

Nick Fury looked up.  "This looks bad."

"This is very bad.  I need all of you."  He walked out.  "Dawn Summers, I summon thee," he called.

"Now?" she called.

"Yes, right now.  Even in the bikini of doom."  She appeared with her beach bag.  Dawn at least put a shirt on overtop of the smiley face bikini.  Xander summoned the others, it was just faster.  Thor landed on his ass but oh well.  "Sit, Uncle."  Thor stared.  "Now.  It's official business."

"I had heard and felt that the judges called for you," he admitted.  He took his usual seat.  "Why, nephew?"

"Because the slayers all have visions, including those not called."  Thor bit out a swear.  Xander handed over the stone tablet.  "From your mother."

He read, frowning.  "I know not of this battle."

"It was before our time.  Before we were even thought of.  Now apparently he desires to return."

Thor looked up.  "Your father?"

"The other mayhap, not mine.  Father!" he yelled.  Loki yelped as he appeared.   "Yes, I summoned.  All the slayers are having visions."

"That is bad news," he agreed, looking at the tablet.  "I have seen that battle's records."  He went to find them and brought them back.  "Odin is shaken," he said quietly.

"He just told me we're doomed until I reminded him a true Asgardian dies with his sword in hand and a mug of mead in the other," Xander said dryly.

"Yes, we do," Thor agreed.  "Even if doomed we do not lay down and die."

"Or make vacation plans," Steve said.  "Why?"  Xander slid the stone tablet down.  They all got to read it.  "Who is this?"

"Ares said Dahok was his lesser incarnation," Xander said.  He put down the comics.  "Why I got called before our judges for breaking *major* rules.  Another of me in another realm runs a comic shop."

They settled in to look over what had happened.  "How did we figure it was him?" Dawn asked.

"Callia's vision.  She's the youngest and I could get a clear picture without the emotional overtones or her interpretation of it.  I described what she saw, put it up in a picture, and he knew.  It took a few days his time to get the books but crossing the barrier meant I didn't lose any time."

Loki shook his head.  "Not even that other me that is still imprisoned is that insane, son."

"Then we might need his help," Xander said bluntly.

"The time code," Steve said.  "Is that Callia or someone like Dawn?"

"That is Callia.  Slayers are weapons for the Powers That Be and for the side of the Light.  She's the only slayer that's given birth in the last two years.  Even the ones that timed out."

"So her being born was a herald," Tony said, slumping some.

"It doesn't mean she's in any more danger than the rest of us," Dawn said.  "All of humanity is boned."

"I'm wondering if someone in the NID knew this one," Xander said, looking at Fury.  "Were any of them part of that stupid cult?"

"Not that I know of.  Is that cult...."

"To call him back," Xander said.  "I checked before I left."

"Which means that I'm a problem," Dawn said quietly.

"Not all of you," Xander said dryly, smiling at her.

"I'll take care of that," she said.  "Once I get back, or really a few days later."  They all stared at her.  "Girl moments scheduled for the day I get back.  Can't really do much during it."

"Good point," Fury said.  "Unless you want to hit it on the beach?"

Dawn shook her head.  "No.  Not with the Russian mob down there and searching now.  Besides, I keep running into drug dealers."

"However you want," Xander said.  "Just soon."

She nodded.  "As soon as I can when I get back.  I need some mental adjustment time."  They all nodded.  Steve patted her on the arm.  "Thanks, Cap.  Xander, when is the sacrifice planned?"

"Next weekend.  After your grad."


"Be aware there is a known spell to make you eligible again," Loki said dryly.  Dawn growled.  "They can use it.  Their God will be displeased but better a flawed powerful sacrifice than a lesser one."

"I'll keep that in mind.  That's my graduation night so I was planning on going to see Mom back to her bed then going to celebrate."

"Not alone you're not," Xander said.

"If we can stop the sacrifice can we stop him showing up?" Tony asked.

"Maybe," Xander said.  "It's harder if he's not summoned.  They can make a rip in the space-time continuum and draw him."

"That guy at the local college?" Dawn asked Fury.

"McKay," Tony said smugly.  "He recruited heavily with threats.  That cult?"

"Cleveland," Coulson said.  "Under watch.  Buffy's local," he told Dawn.

"I know.  I cannot talk to my sister about this.  I don't want to hear the shit.  And Mom will cry."  She ran her hands over her hair since it was in a ponytail.  She saw the look at her nearly bare chest.  "I was still on a beach, Cap.  At least I put a shirt over the bikini."

"Thank you," he said with a smile.

Fury tossed down a folder.  "I was going to call four of you in later to talk about this assignment.  I was going to send Dawn on it with Widow, Hawkeye, and Coulson as backup since she could trust them even if she broke free of her control."

Dawn summoned the folder to look at.  "Excuse me?" she demanded.  "You wanted me to do what?"

"You're the only one that can get them into that club, Summers.  You're only facilitating."

"How is that going to work with me starting college late next month?"

He frowned.  "You're not waiting until fall?"

"No, I'm starting early so I can get it done with as soon as possible."

"We can work around classes probably.  It's a clear cut infiltrate, gather intel, arrange for pickups and then fade."

"But I'm fairly well known," Dawn said.  "They got pictures of all of us on the beach and managed to even identify Agent Coulson."

"Which works in their favor actually.  You're the only one that could ask for and get admittance.  The fame works to let them in with you.  As does yours."

She considered it, looking at Xander.  Who shrugged.  "Not my area," he reminded her.  "The last time I went undercover I almost turned into a merman."

She passed the file to Natasha.  She trusted her judgement on things like this.  Natasha looked it over.  "How would that work?"

"I'd suggest you and Coulson and her and Hawkeye but however you people work it.  That would also give her a better chance of avoiding the problem there."

"The cult's people would be drawn there," Xander said.

"Tara said  there probably were some.  She got invited and asked me to go in her place to scope it out.  She didn't want to go by herself and she had a bad feeling that it might be dirtier than her level of naughty.  She was right."

"So you have an open invite?" Fury demanded, smirking at her.

"Yeah but I haven't went back since then.  The whole whips and chains thing just didn't do it for me, boss.  And the cult was there.  I saw a few with that marking on the edge.  Mostly wearing the marks on pendants; they were having fun beating people."

Coulson took it to look over.  "She's not an experienced field agent," he said calmly, staring at Fury.  That poison wasn't going to take as long as he had thought a few days ago.

"You just need her for entrance and maybe protection," Fury said.  "If you can get entrance on your own after that first time, great."

He grimaced, handing the folder on to Barton.  Who was already grimacing.

"This sucks wide, sir," Clint said.

"Can't help it.  Look at the clientele list."  That got a massive scowl.  "I have no one else to go in.  Tara's even less trained than she is and I doubt she could handle that sort of club anyway."

"I don't really like them," Xander admitted.  He sent a message to Bia.  "Let me go brief my people.  When I know more I'll bring it to you."  They all nodded.

Dawn looked at the other three, shrugging some.  "I don't like it.  Didn't like it that night and I'm pretty sure they knew that.  They kept giving me patronizing looks and one patted me on the head like I was a kitty cat.  I'm doubting even Stark could BS his way through that club."

Stark looked over and shook his head.  "I wouldn't even try.  That's definitely not something I enjoy."  He looked at her.  "This will probably get captured in the press."  She nodded she knew that.  "I know you've heard the rumors."

"The dumb twat reporter asked me which one of you I'm sleeping with and if I slept my way to my job," she said dryly.  Tony snorted, shaking his head.  "Can we do it subtly?"

"We can find a way to minimize your exposure," Coulson said, staying professional.  In his head he was ranting hard.  "Romanoff, Barton?"

"If we must we must," Natasha said, looking at Dawn.  "We'll work on it but you may get to wear those boots."

She smiled.  "I have better since the last time you took me shopping."  She stood up.  "Let me get back to my last few days of freedom.  I'm flying back with Pepper on Sunday afternoon," she told Phil.  "Come over for dinner to talk about how and all that?"

He nodded.  "I can do that.  I'll order pizza."  She smiled and disappeared, leaving the shirt there and taking her bag.

"Were those smiley faces?" Bruce Banner asked.

"Yes, it's a bikini I encouraged her not to buy," Natasha said.  "It is nice to know she really is a normal teenager."  The smiley faces barely covered the peak of her breast and the large one that was the front of the thong wasn't much better since it had a tongue out.

Fury squeezed his eyes shut.  "Now I know why you put those in the reports, Coulson.  Brilliant thinking to break your toe."  He walked off.  "Alert all the agents, Coulson."

"Yes, sir."  He stood up.  "Meet me Sunday at her place."  The others nodded and left.  Tony went to tell Pepper and his trusted people.  Rhodey could take it to the higher brass.  Phil Coulson made it all the way to lunch, when he could hide in his office closet, to have his losing his mind fit.  He was very proud of his self control.


Xander appeared in his meeting hall, staring at everyone.  He put the tablet on the table.  "I just saw Odin say we're all doomed and mean it."  John flinched.  Roque growled.  He slid the tablet down.  "We're really boned."

They read it.  Bia raised her hand.  "Sacrifice?"

"Dawn.  She's working on fixing that by then.  She'll be back Sunday, have a few days of girl issues, and then fix it.  Somehow.  I left it up to her.  Fury left it up to her but he's been doing some unsubtle hinting about it."  He rubbed his neck.  "I talked to the other pantheons."

John raised his hand.  "Anything other than that?"  Xander summoned the comics he had forgotten.  They looked them over.  "Damn he's strong," he complained.

"If they can't get her, can they use another sacrifice?" Bia asked.

"They might have keyed it to her so he's expecting her.  If not, then yes.  If they have then no.  Dad pointed out that there's a potion to fix that issue too."

"We need to clean Cleveland and stop the cult," John said.  "If no sacrifice is given?"

"Time-space rip and summoning him that way.  Harder, nearly impossible, but hey, zealots."

"Most of us would offer to save Dawn," Clay said calmly.

"I have no idea what she's thinking.  She's in Miami right now thinking."  He nodded and texted her.  She sent back a thank you and she was considering her options right now.  Xander flopped down, looking at his people, his friends and family.  "I had to remind Odin that doomed isn't in our dictionary."

"It's not," Roque agreed.  "Did you tell my mother or just our higher ups?"

"They were meeting.  I timed a bit to make sure I hit all the weekly meetings."  They all nodded.  "Dad?"  He appeared.  "Do you have any idea if you or that other you can and will help?"

"I'm definitely not helping him," he said.  "That other me is damaged.  I'm not sure about his idea."

"Find out.  Please?"

"I can do so.  My brother already is going to."  Xander nodded, relaxing slightly.  "If we can stop it we will.  I'll volunteer to help her myself."

"Don't make me stab you," Xander warned.  "It's been a craptastic day."

"Fine."  He smirked at Roque.  "You?"

"If that's what she wants.  She knows that." John nodded he would too.  "Who, besides McKay's little band of idiot savants, can open a wormhole?"

"That guy he recruited," John said.  "Three others that I know of off the top of my head who retired from the SGC."  He sent that at Rodney, getting a name list.  John texted it to Stark.  He sent back they'd check them out.  "This sucks.  I thought things would be calmer here on Earth."

Xander nodded.  "This one won't eat us," Xander offered.  "Slightly better as he'll just destroy us."

"Slightly better," John admitted, smiling some.  "Loki, can you find other copies of these comics so we can check for other information?"

"I can browse."  He went to do that.  It was an interesting thing and he had more freedom than most chaos gods to look in other planes.

"I asked comic nerd me," Xander called after him.  "And Lavelle.  He's more focused on graphic novels and anime but he used to be a Marvel freak."  They smiled.  They had heard about Lavelle and he sounded like their sort of guy, even if he was a darker than average Xander.  Who had a bad habit of turning into a girl.

Bia looked at him.  "We'll handle it, Xander."

"I know.  I'm not sure we'll handle it and be whole.  Odin said it killed some of them."

"Only an Asgardian can kill another," John said.

"Unless they're part of Creation," Roque put in.  He looked at Xander, who nodded he knew that.  "How are you against him?"

"Smaller leak.  He's directly tied."


"But hey, that means I need more work to turn me into a better weapon."  They nodded they could help him.  "Let every demigod, every godly offspring know.  Let every warrior we know hear so that they may understand and pass it on.  That way humanity is not lost," he proclaimed.  It was his first one as a god.  It was not a good sign for his life.


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