Old Ones Building Up To Things.  
R, m/f - /f

Dawn saw the odd look the next morning when she appeared in Pepper's office doorway.  "What?" she asked.  "I look better today."

"A tiny bit.  That's not your usual sort of outfit."  Dawn shrugged.  "Fine.  Go bother Tony.  He has  a meeting in two hours and your niece is in for lunch."  Dawn smiled and went to do that.  It might take two hours to pull Tony out of the lab, depending on what he was doing.  Pepper stared at her back.  Something was wrong.  Dawn's usual exuberance was muted.  Her clothes were downright matronly today.  She'd have to get the girl to talk to her later.

Natasha walked up behind Dawn and pulled her into a meeting room, closing the door.  "You still look like hell."

"I slept last night.  I'm fine, Natasha, really."

"Bull."  She looked her over.  "Did something bother you?"


"Hmm."  She moved closer and Dawn did flinch at her touch.  "Lying?"

"That didn't bother me."  She stared at her.  The next touch she expected so no flinching.  The hand touching hers was fine.  The one to her waist made her flinch again.

"You're still in pain," she said.

"Tiny bit.  I took something for it."

"Perhaps it was something else."

"Perhaps it was something that keeps hurting," Dawn said dryly.  "Damn thing grew back again and it's pulling too."  Natasha winced.  "I tried to burn the potion out and it didn't help."

"Hmm.  We might ask someone who knows more about potions."

"To do that I'd have to talk to another Xander in another realm."

"I have heard of the convention.  There's one coming up?"  Dawn nodded.  "When?"

"Few days.  I was hoping to get more help and advice on what I can do.  I know I exist in at least one other realm."  Natasha nodded, letting her go back on her rounds.  Dawn put her code in on the lab door.  It didn't work.  She put in Tony's code and heard JARVIS huff.  "Pepper told me to come get him."

"If you must.  He's actually being productive."

"He has a few hours."  She walked in and shut the lab door, getting glanced at.  "Hour and a half warning, bossman."

"What are you wearing?"

"Something comfortable?"

He looked at her.  "Usually your comfort level is at least partially teasing and slightly naughty.  I've seen nuns wear less, Dawn."

She shrugged.  "I'm in a tiny bit of pain today."  She walked over.

"You're wearing sneakers?"

"Again, tiny bit of pain and I need to break them in so I can wear them then."

He put down whatever he was tinkering with and turned to stare at her.  "Okay, what's wrong?"

"Not a damn thing," she said with fake cheer.  "Does this mean I don't have to nag to get you to the meeting?"

He pulled her closer by her wrist.  "This isn't normal for you.  Worrying about the battle?  Your mom?"

"No, I'm just in a tiny bit of pain today."

"From that box?"

"No.  Though that's a further complication in my life I don't really need right now."  She sighed and shrugged.  "It's stupid shit."

"Clearly, that's why you're uncomfortable standing next to anyone," he said.  He stared at her.  "What happened whenever you were trying to combat the potion again?" he asked quietly.

"More pain?"  She got free.  "It hurts more and more each time."


"Because each time it renews the damn thing gets tougher."

"Huh."  He considered it.  "What about just removing that part?"

"It grew back in under an hour one night," Dawn said dryly.  "I'm starting to feel like I'm on a chore list right below doing the dishes."

"So pain and a block because of the pain.  We can't find a way around it?"

"I've tried the suggestion.  I can't even find a mention of the potion."

"Of course you've looked online and all that?"

"I had Jensen look."

"He's better than I am at that," Tony agreed.  He considered it.  "What if you just manually break it?"

"Still pain?" she guessed.

"Good point.  Can we leave it alone?"

"I would but it's pulling so I'm in a great and craptastic mood," she said dryly.  "Right up there with PMS."

"That might be part of it," he said dryly.

"If so I'm sure that'll complicate it more.  I'll probably break it by accident and it'll grow around the tampon so it has to regrow each time I change it."  He grimaced.  "Sorry for the TMI."

"Actually, it might," he said.  She groaned and shook her head.  "So the pain thing?"

"It's not like I feel like being touched or anything."

"I get that.  I totally do.  That's going to suck for sparring practice."

"I can barely walk," she said quietly.  "I'm a bit better than I was yesterday."

"Healing spell?"

"No change."

"Crap."  He leaned back, considering it.  "JARVIS, scan Dawn, see if you can find anything unusual."

A beam came over Dawn and the AI cleared his virtual throat.  "I believe there might be a piece of shrapnel interfering with something."

"Shrapnel?" Dawn asked, looking up.  "What?"

"I believe it might be a fingernail."

Dawn shook her head, summoning it, wincing when something else got caught.  "Ow."  Tony tossed her the bottle of pain killer he kept in there.  She took three dry and tossed it back.  "Still regrowing.  Great.  Thanks for trying, bossman.  Don't forget the meeting."

"I won't."  He watched her walk off.  She had tossed the nail out, which he didn't mind.  It was pretty clear it wasn't Dawn's.  This was so messed up.  He paged Natasha and pointed.  "Part of the pain."  He turned back around to get back to tinkering.  "I had JARVIS scan her for an abnormalities."

"She has another one but I believe she was working on healing it," JARVIS said.  Tony looked up.  "She was growing a few extra pieces again.  To complete the set as it were."

"That would probably make anyone ache," Natasha agreed.  The nail was hers, she had wondered when she had broken it.  "Is she better?"

"No.  She's feeling like she's another daily chore."  He looked at her.  "Wouldn't you?"

"We have tried to minimize it."

"Yeah and then it got to the point of pain and she's not into that."

"I agree.  We've tried."

Tony looked at her.  "Quit trying."

"That is the current plan.  Clint also thinks it can stabilize her power accessing problem."

"A lot of that is prep work.  If she's doing it on the fly, she can barely touch it, like a toothache. If she's prepared for the pain of the toothache she can get something for it and hit it until she's immune or at least ignoring it."

Natasha considered it.  "Why would she have that problem?"

"Who wants to have her core energy source open to every little thing?" Tony asked.

"That is a good point.  I know some have worried that she'll have problems afterward."

"Not unless those knights are gone," he said dryly.  "Then we won't have to worry and neither will she."

Natasha nodded.  "We have plans for that."

"Can we get them all?"

"I am not sure."  She walked off to call Coulson to see where that part of the plan was.  And to get him to make Dawn talk to him.  For some reason his phone went to voicemail.  She looked at it.  That was not like him.  He must be in the middle of a raid or something.


Coulson made it back to the office and managed a whole hour before getting called up to Fury's office.  He walked in.  "Problems, sir?"

"You went around standing orders."


"Storing later semen."

"To be blunt, Director, I don't want anyone to use it without my consent.  Even if I'm dead, I'd rather that the person who used it was someone I respected.  I did it solely so Tara or Dawn could use it."

"I see another name."

"I'm not the only one that's included her in case she might want some one day."  He crossed his arms over his chest.  "For that matter, I'm privately paying so it's not really any of yours or SHIELD's business, sir.  Anything else?"

"We have the research clause...."

"Sir, for all that I admire Captain Rogers, I would never want any of my possible children to be tested on or be made lab rats," he said firmly.  "That's another reason I'm not using our health insurance plan.  Which, again, is pretty much none of SHIELD's business."

Fury stared at him.  "You used to be more calm and stable."

"I used to not want to poison you too," he said bluntly.  Fury flinched.  "Unfortunately things have happened since then even if it wasn't always you."  He tipped his head.  "And leave Tara alone, sir."  He walked off.

Fury frowned, going to talk to Agent Hill.  "What's wrong with Tara?" he asked quietly.  She pointed where Tara was fussing with one of the plants on the bridge that was for air cleaning.  "She's glowing?"  Tara glared at him.  "Tara, are you sick?"

"Not at the moment.  Ask me later, sir."  She went back to it.

"How much later?" he asked.  He could add.  She glared again.  "Is this...."  She slammed him into the ceiling then gently floated him back down before stomping off.  "I think that's a hormone swing," he said.

"I think she's too early for that, sir.  I think you just pissed her off," Hill said, following to talk to her.  She found her in the bathroom.  "Congratulations," she said, giving her a gentle hug.  Tara hugged her back.  "Are you all right?"

Tara smiled and nodded.  "I found out doing it that day would mean I'd conceive and it'd help protect a few people.  Even if I didn't want to be a mother, I'd want to be a mother."

"I get it.  He might not because he's a guy, but I do get it."

"I can fix that," Tara offered quietly, glancing around.

She smiled.  "Dawn did do that already."  She gave her a squeeze.  "Half of the women on the hell carrier and here in HQ go outside our infirmary for female exams."  She wrote down a name.  "Most of us go here."  She handed it over.  "I want up to date information on anything we cannot let you do.  Understand?"  Tara nodded.  "Good."  She smiled.  "We'll talk about a baby shower after the battle."  She left, going back to her post.   "She'll make an excellent mother, sir," she said quietly.  "Look how good she does with the crew."

Fury nodded, watching Tara walk off.  "I can understand that urge but it's really bad timing."

"Actually, it's very good timing, sir.  What if whoever she asked dies?"

He nodded.  "There's others who would volunteer."

She looked at him.  "A woman should pick the father of her children more carefully than her lunch, sir."  He winced.  She modulated her tone.  "I'm fairly certain whoever she picked is going to be a good donor and father if she wants.  She'd never pick someone like Dorans."

"No, I'm pretty sure I know who she picked."  He walked off, shredding the paper from the clinic.  Now he knew why and he wasn't going to interrupt that.  One agent wasn't that important and if it was, they had his cells on standby to clone him.


Phil walked up to Natasha later.  "I'm going to let you know before you hear the rumors that I did put you on the allowed list of my stored...DNA," he said quietly.  "Like a few others, in case you wanted one some day so you had a choice.  You, Dawn, and Tara."

She smiled.  "You're the first one that's told me that he did that.  Thank you.  I'm not sure I want one but it's a thoughtful gesture."

Clint sat down across from her.  "Ditto."

She kicked him.  "I figured you had.  Rumors said you had."  He nodded.  She looked at Phil.  "Is Dawn feeling better?"

"I haven't talked to Dawn today.  Why isn't she feeling all right?"  He sat down.

"Between not being able to get rid of the potion, some other parts growing now, and an accidental fingernail breakage, she's not been exactly comfortable," she said quietly, glancing around.

Phil grimaced.  "So she's in pain and pouting?"

"She's so dressed down people are wondering if she's depressed," Clint said.  "I've gotten a bunch of dirty looks over that."  He stuffed his mouth again.

"No, she told Stark that at times she felt like she was a chore."  Clint paused in his eating to stare at her.  She nodded.  "Like doing the dishes."

"I don't see it that way," he said.

"I think the potion itself is wearing on her and it's about time for her to need midol," Phil said quietly.  "I'll talk to her later."  They nodded.  "We still have to go to the club later."

"With her?" Clint asked.  "Or without."

"If she's in that much pain, without," Natasha said.  "She was wearing sneakers, pants that didn't look pleasing on her figure at all.  A shirt that had a collar.  A lace one but Stark said he'd seen nuns wearing less clothes."  Phil winced.  "I believe she might need an ear."

"I'll talk to her in a few minutes.  She's due in today to help Fury."  They nodded.  "Thank you for letting me know."

"Thank you for letting me know," she countered with a slight smile.

"There'll be enough for about twenty tries by the battle," he said quietly.  He got up and left.

"Fury almost went off on Tara," Clint said quietly.  "She slammed him into the ceiling.  I waved when he went past where I was hiding."

"She is very happy to be a mother.  That's all that really matters, that and she'll be an excellent one."  Clint nodded.  "Of course, that means we have to buy presents."

"I can buy presents for a shower.  If not, I'll ask for opinions."

Tara strolled over with her salad and mushroom casserole, sitting in the seat Phil had used.  "I'm going to ask you to help me to put furniture together."

He smiled.  "I can do that."  She grinned back and blessed her food before eating.

"Is there anything we should be aware of?" Natasha asked.

"Right now, I'm good.  The baby's protected.  Hera blessed me so it'll probably be an easy birthing experience as well.  During the battle I'll be with the coven handling the hellmouths."  They smiled.  "If I end up with restrictions I'll tell you too."

"Good.  We do not want you injured."

"It won't happen."

"So, any idea yet?" Clint asked.  "Boy, girl?"

She shrugged.  "Not for weeks.  Right now it's barely got DNA."

He grinned.  "Let us know.  It'll give us a happy feeling before the battle."  She nodded, digging in.  He and Natasha got back to eating.  They had to get back to preparing for battle.  They had time but not that much time.


Dawn woke up with a gasp, holding her head.  "Ow.  Visions suck.  Xander was right."  She swatted at the hands touching her.  "Get off!"  They backed off.  She sat up, still holding her head.  "Why am I in the infirmary?"

"You wouldn't wake up," the nurse said patiently.

Dawn stared at her.  "Why do I feel like I was sedated?"  The nurse looked horrified but checked her arms.  Dawn pointed.  "There's a needle mark there.  I need Stark.  Now."

"Why?  He's busy."

Dawn looked at her.  "I just had a vision about the battle."  The nurse scowled.  Dawn found her phone and texted.  Pepper came in a few minutes later.  "No, I need Stark.  There's stuff left in Sunnydale.  I saw me calling Jonathan and getting permission to get into his stored evil geek trio stuff."  Pepper smiled.  "There's weapons.  I saw something sub-nuclear I think."  She rubbed her head.  "Please?"

"Let's take it down while Tony gets back here.  He's at SHIELD."

Dawn shook her head.  "Let me go there."  She teleported, looking at them.  "Sunnydale still has stuff," she told Tony.  "I saw myself calling Jonathan to ask him if we could bum his house during the battle and we found stored geek stuff.  We found weapons.  We found something sub-nuclear by one of the demon bars."  He nodded, getting up to help her into a seat.

Thor looked over.  "Visions are not for the weak.  They can kill seers," he said.  "Which is why we worried when Alexander got them."

"Xander knew most of the arms dealers in town," she told Tony.  "Have him do the map."  He nodded, calling for him.  Clay appeared.  "Vision."

"We heard, kid.  We're preparing to go there."

She shook her head.  "I broke into the geek trio's stuff in a 'fuck this' moment."  She panted and swallowed.  Clint handed her some water.  "They wanted to take over the world.  They have stored stuff and plans.  You'll need a higher power of Geek."

"We'll take McKay.  Stark's busy."  She relaxed and nodded, drinking to keep her stomach calm.  "Xander didn't even remember.  Just calm it down.  I've seen Xander wrecked for days from them."

"I'm a girl, we're always stronger."  She started to get up.  Tony pushed her back down.  "Ow.  Going to the bathroom, boss."  She got up and wandered that way holding her head.

Tony looked at him.  "I'm not that busy."

"You are.  Go capture the three dweebs so we can find out what sort of plans they have."

"They're in the Malibu lab."  He smirked.  "I wasn't going to let evil geek wannabes out into the world.  I'd have to fight them.  As is I had to yell about giant battle robots that they set on downtown LA to pick them up slutty girls."  Clay squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head.  "Yeah, huge robots, cylinder of storage tubes that rotated as each was picked up, pole and go-go platform for them to be stared at from.  One's starting to look schitzo.  The other two are followers.  I can go."

"Sure."  He brought him back with him.  Everyone else was ready and Xander was marking a map of places they had to check and what was likely there.  They sent themselves there and moved in to take down the town.  They'd leave the buildings intact so they had cover.  John was taping it so the SHIELD people could get accurate readings of the terrain.  Xander headed toward two areas first.  One he had bought from.  One was Buffy's.  He sent hers to her and the rest got loaded up to go with them.

Roque looked around, whistling.  "I forgot what a nest of hell this place was," he said.  "We have artifacts.  We have....  Is that a scythe?"

"The slayer scythe," Xander said.  "It's part of the calling.  I'm going to give it to Buffy."

"Good.  She'll like that."  They got everything that wasn't nailed down, useful for the later battle as cover, or clothes out of there.   They didn't need furniture falling on them if they were hiding in a house.  Clothes could be turned into makeshift bandages though.  Xander and John stayed to make emergency packs of things while the others brought the materials back to the temple.  Mari was called in since she was the bomb expert.  She and McKay started on a weapon based on the ancient text.  Hephaestus and the other creating Gods were building the new version.  The mortals were building one that could be powered by something other than a god or Dawn.


Stark walked in happier a few hours later.  "Six sub-nuclear bombs, a whole bunch of guns that had been headed off world to a battle there, swords, stakes, and axes.  A lot of artifacts we have to categorize."  He looked at Buffy, handing her the wrapped package.  "From Xander's hand to yours."

She took it, frowning as she unwrapped it.  She picked it up.  "Oh, damn, that's... that's meant for a slayer."  She got up to test it.  "It feels like one of us."

"Xander said it's part of the slayer calling and he said it has a use in a specific battle if the First Evil shows up.  For right now though, it is a blessed weapon to the slayer line.  It can call more slayers."  She smiled and petted it, sitting down again.  Tony sat down.  "The evil geek wannabes are going over their plans with Mari to see if anything they already have is helpful.  Jonathan agreed he would've told Dawn about it so she could've used it."  They all nodded.  "We're also working on two weapons."  Fury smiled.  "One not powered by a God but we're hoping it helps."  He looked around.  "Dawn napping?"

"On my bed," Clint said.  "Coulson's room is a mess since he had to rip it apart to find bugs and cameras."  Tony stared at him.  "One of the junior agents trying to get blackmail on him.  Coulson's already beaten him in sparring.  The guy's whining to Agent Hill in the infirmary and begging that Dawn and Tara don't get him before he hits the brig."

"Good.  Can the rest of us help?  I can stand him where I can't half the junior agents."  He looked at Fury, tossing down a tape.  "The terrain as it lays now."  He played it so they could see what was still standing.  "That's where the hellmouth is," Tony said.  "It's in the middle right of the school.  Under the former library."

"Who would build a school on top of a foul spot like that?" Thor demanded.

"The old mayor, the one that tried to turn into a pure demon," Tony said.  Thor muttered something.

"Thankfully it was Southern California so none of the students came into the library," Buffy quipped.  "Just our group studying there.  The table we worked on was right overtop of the hole.  It made a total mess the night the thing opened and the kraken came out.  We were shelving books for *days*."

Fury looked at her.  "You didn't think it might have radiation or something?"

"Why would a hole to other realms have radiation?"

"Space itself has radiation," Tony said.  She looked confused.  "We'll scan you later." 

She nodded. "How did Xander suck up so much hellmouth radiation?"

"He said he was ill when he landed and it sucked up to power the healing spell," Barton said.  "I asked when I found out."  Buffy looked at him.  "What?"

"He doesn't answer questions."

"He doesn't answer *personal* questions.  Like a lot of soldiers and commandos, we don't answer anything personal.  We get to know each other through less personal questions.  Things about food, dates, those sort of things."  She shrugged.  "Don't worry, we'll find you a nice commando and he can show you."

"Please do."

"Xander said he could marry you off," Tony offered.  She scowled.  "It'd make your mother happy."

"But no dating."

"He'd make it someone who would want to date you anyway.  Make sure it was someone who could work beside you," Steve said with a smile.  "He told Dawn he would if she needed him to."

"Let him fix up Dawn first.  Xander has really bad taste."

"No, Xander was too tired to hunt down a date.  He let them come to him," Steve said.  "I asked."  He grinned.  "He said he nearly married a few centuries ago but his mom made her run off."

"His mom was pregnant and made her commit suicide," Tony said.  "John told me."  He looked at Fury.  "We have emergency packs laid around town, including with extra clothes to use for whatever reason, even for bandages."  That got a nod.  "At that time we can staff medics around them or whatever."

"We have the old hospital there," Buffy said.  "Did they check it?"

"We did.  McKay and I did check.  It is functioning.  There is still power to the town, running water service, and a generator at the hospital.  It's off to the side of the town so it's not in the direct combat line.  They left everything, including a few patients."  Fury shuddered.  "All human from what we could tell."

"That doesn't really surprise me any," Buffy sighed.  "They tended to let anything die that was more serious than stitching, handing drugs to, or putting on a cast.  Xander's really lucky he lived through them taking out his appendix."

"He was seven," Tony said.

She looked at him.  "Dru's favorite snack was toddlers.  Age doesn't really matter to most vampires or flesh eaters.  Young kids are tender."  He shuddered.  "Yeah.  So.....  He's lucky he lived that long."  She looked at Nick.  "Are we bringing vehicles?"

"We're flying the hell carrier that way, landing her off LA, up toward your town," Fury said.  "We will chopper in teams and vehicles as needed."  They all nodded.  "I need a priority line for fighting.  Beyond the Avengers."

"I go in the first row," Thor said.  "The non-godly ones should be behind us, even the goodly strong Steve is no match and if he calls minions they'll need to handle that."  He looked at Tony.  "Minions?"

"She did not say."  He looked over.  "Also, where was she?" he asked Fury, who looked confused.  "I called Pepper to tell her Dawn had made it here.  She said Dawn hadn't been there since ten this morning."  Fury turned and threw something against the wall.  "Yet, someone was pretending to be Pepper pretty well since Dawn was within touching distance of her.  I saw a flash of her trying to calm Dawn down when I helped her sit down."

"It was not us as far as I know."

"I don't know anyone who can trace it back," Buffy admitted.  "Ask Tara?"

"No, we can't," Tara called from where she was fussing over someone who was sick and puking on the bridge.  "She was here in the city though."

"Tara, you do not need the flu," Tony called.  "You should probably be getting a few shots as well."  She grimaced but nodded, helping him off to the infirmary.  He looked at Fury.  "Pepper said she had no idea what happened.  The security cameras don't show it.  Dawn's usual tracker is in the lab for some reason and the other one is browned out by her magic again."

"We stuck her with a tracking dot this morning," Coulson said as he walked in.  "It did track her movements.  The agents who went there were very pissed off at the goo clones this time and the people behind them."  He put down the picture of the altar.  "That's the cult, correct?"

Tony nodded.  "That's them, and this mark," he said with a point.  "Was on the remote control of the robot that attacked Amsterdam."  He pulled up her research notes on that, handing them over.

Coulson nodded.  "I've seen most of those, but it's nice that there's a connection to the Council."

Buffy flinched.  "Did Travers get out?" she asked quietly.  He looked and nodded.  "He hates this family.  He loathes Xander for jumping in and taking it from a solitary duty to a shared one.  He hated me for still having a family.  He hates me whole bunches more for daring to tell him to blow me one time and keeping my watcher.  That's why there were multiple prices on each of us."

"We found one."

Buffy shook her head.  "Travers knew the demon underground."  She called.  "Spike, me.  Quick question.  I need a list of the current prices on all the team's head thanks to anything Council.  They're behind the cult trying to get Dawnie and other things.  Including this bad thing."

"Give me a sec, I'm at the poker hall.  Oy!  Slayer wants to know how much the kitty is on the team now!"

"Fifty-eight thousand on Dawn's blood," a tiny voice called.  "A million if they get her and she's still pure.  Three-quarters if not because they can fix it.  Even if the Russians they contracted through got her first they could fix it and it would make her docile.  On Rosenburg there's a shoot on sight order and a cool million to make it so.  On you, Slayer, there's two prices.  One through the Russians and one not.  Both of them are just under nine hundred thousand translated from Pounds.  There's a seven million dollar contract on your former knight in the real world and double that among demons because they were warned he had done something to make himself powerful."

"Xander's really Alexander," Tony said, taking the phone to put it on the louder speaker at the table.  "As in the Son of Loki Alexander."

The demon whined.  "There is a price on his head as well and it is all the gold in the vault of Asayas."

"About how much?" Tony asked.

Thor shook his head.  "It is a mythical amount of gold.  Those who sealed the dragon in there on her hoard to save the Old Ones wrote that the gold is higher than a mountain but the dragon does not wish to be compressed so she has shrank it."

"Anything on the God Roque?" Tony asked.  "Just in case since he and Xander are working together?"

"Nay, his mother scares us all," another voice said.

"There is one to have him turned but it listed him as a human and he is not.  We knew, that was why no one touched them.  That and the fireling would kill us all."

"Any of the other gods in Xander's temple thingy or Faith?" Buffy asked.

"Faith they want dead on sight, Slayer," the first voice said.  "Her price is small though.  They think she will die in battle one way or another."

"The other gods, like Bia?" Tony asked.  "John Sheppard?"

"John Sheppard... there's a small one to have him turned," the second voice said.

"John's also know as Alexander's half-brother, Jonathan," Buffy said.

"No, we know not to tangle with him.  He will destroy us all.  So will Alexander if he should hear."

"He'll hear who told me so you're safe," Buffy said.  "Thank you and tell Spike thank you."

"We wish you luck.  Even the harmful sorts don't want the world to end, Slayer."  They hung up.

Tony hung up and handed Buffy the phone back.  "Now we know."

They all looked up as Xander's voice shouted 'I'm surrounded by fucking morons!'.

"I see my nephew has realized what happens before most godly wars," Thor said dryly.  "We may wish that popped corn food."

Buffy nodded.  "Xander sounded like he was going to lose his temper big time."

"Too late," Xander called.  He appeared, staring at her.  Then at Roque when he appeared.  "You want to be an orphan, right?"

"I love my mother, Xander.  You know that."

"Your mother just made my father pregnant.  Right before a battle we need him in."

Roque considered that.  "Why?"

"Who in the hell knows?  The whole goddess tea society is off their fucking rockers and I've had enough!" he bellowed.  It echoed through all the pantheons.  "Those who do not want to help in the battle and run will not be allowed back if we win.  Those who harm another God or demigod or any other being in the fight before it is fought will be taking their places.  Am I clear!" he shouted.

Ares appeared.  "They're going to complain."

"I care not."

Ares nodded, disappearing and taking Roque and Thor with him.  It was safer and they needed them in the battle.  He put a shield around the rest of the table to protect them from stray bits of power.

A beautiful African goddess showed up.  "You think yourself like Ares, pup?  I knew you were arrogant."

"I'm sure you've heard by now that we're about to be attacked, Roque's Mom."  She nodded.  "You do realize that I need my father in that battle as he's one of the few chaos gods that can fight?"

"So?" she demanded.

"SO?  You just made him mother fucking pregnant!  How do you expect him to fight like that?"

She sneered.  "I care not and you are sounding more like Ares, who we do not respect."

"That's fine."  He handed her a sword.  "You can take his place."  She gasped.  "I care not what you want.  Either you fight with us or you're guilty of treason."  She backed up.  "I do not have the patience, the time, or the energy  to deal with this shit on top of the upcoming battle.  So either help, or flee and don't return."

"I do not deal with these things," she said, dropping it.

"Then you'd better make sure anyone you changed can be there.  Because if not, you're going to be called in their place."

She sneered.  "I will not go."

He snapped and she screamed as chains wrapped around her wrists and ankles.  "I care not," he repeated.  "If I am to fight for all of humanity and all of the pantheons, then they should probably not make my job harder," he finished in a growl.  "Before I make sure I do not have to worry about them."  She started to cry.  "Tears do not phase me.  Hell, I was raised around girls this last life.  I know how easy tears are to fake, even for a goddess like you.  For that matter," he said, calling another one.  "Take off whatever you did to the Key.  Today."

"I have done nothing to her."  Xander created a portal and pointed.  "That is but a mortal."  Xander revealed her aura.  "So that's her," she sneered.  Xander punched her, knocking her out through the front view window. 

Xander looked at the other goddess, who was cowering.  "Fine, we will do this the honorable way.  I call Treason on you and Athena."  Gods appeared, including Zeus.

"Xander," Zeus said.

"I will not have what little advantage we have killed by the likes of your spawn or this bitch," he said firmly in Greek.  "If you cannot abide by the battle we have coming up and help it, then get out of the way and don't expect to come back if we win.  Either you help fight for us all or you are a coward," he said in English, staring at him.  "Your daughter already proved her allegiance by trying to poison the Key.  This one decided to take out the one who could be very useful on our side by making him pregnant right before the battle. 

"I have had enough.  Every last pantheon is either in this battle or they are not going to have anything to worry about.  Because if I have to unmake every goddamn temple hill, so fucking be it!"  Bells rang out.  Zeus started to look scared.  "Now, pick your goddess damned side, Zeus.  She may be your daughter but she just lost the war for us.  Do you want to live or do you want to finally spank the arrogant bitch you gave birth to?"

"She will go before the judges," Hera said.  "As will your statements, Alexander."

He looked at her.  "I already know you and the other goddesses got petty and bitchy before godly wars and you use it to pick at the others you're having arguments with.  That does not mean we have the time for this shit.  And if you take someone out who is important to the battle I would be finding a sword."

"Goddess don't fight," Artemis said.

Xander snorted.  "I may have been unconscious in Pegasus but I did see the Goddesses fight."  She flinched.  "If you want to run, fine.  You have fun with that.  I hope you find a great life there.  You won't be coming back here.  I will be using the power of any abandoned temple to throw at the bastard because we're going to fucking need it.  Ten gods, a Key, a few slayers, and the Avengers aren't really a full battle unit."

She nodded.  "You will have my amazons."

"What're they going to do against a power of creation god?" he asked.

"He may call minions."

"Then I'll gladly call up on them.  Beyond that, they'd just get in the way."

"True.  We will have them defending our hills."

"Thank you!  That'll help."  He looked at Hera.  "Please go take whatever your stepdaughter did off the Key.  Today."

"I will see what she did."  She flashed to where the girl was.  "That's bad."  She removed it and felt the wrongness.  "Alexander, they potioned her."

"Yes, I heard.  The Council was behind that and calling him apparently from what we've just found out.  Thank you for creating them," he told Zeus.  The elder god growled.  Xander pulled up his power.  Zeus's eyes went wide and he backed up.  "Good thing I was deaged and tortured, huh?  If that was someone's plan to help save us all, next time just stop the people doing the bad thing instead."  Hera came back with Tara and Dawn.  Tara was glowing and happy.  Xander smiled.  "Congratulations.  You'll be one hell of a mother."

"She will be and I guard that pregnancy.  We will need one who is good to counter all the idiots," Hera said.  She looked at Dawn.  "I have removed it."  She showed the judges.  They clapped Athena in irons.  Zeus started to open his mouth so Xander summoned one of Zeus's lightening bolts.  Hera smiled.  "I forgot we blessed you able to use any godly weapon you may need for any fight you may be in."  She patted him on the cheek.  "May I have Roque's mother?"

"Go ask my father if he wants to stay pregnant."

"He is breaking the rules of the pantheons," she sneered.  "He is trying to reclaim power on the mortal plane."

Xander looked at the assembled gods.  "Did anyone expect any chaos god to follow those?  Especially Loki?"  Everyone shook their heads.

"What is he doing?" Buffy asked.

Xander grinned.  "He's dating the lead candidate for president.  He wants to be the first wife."

Loki appeared.  "First *husband*," he sneered.  He glared at Roque's mother.  "I thought you more smart when I nearly arranged that marriage."  Xander hit him upside the head.  "Son!"

"Shut up!"  Loki saw the temper climbing and backed down.  He glared at the other one.  "You will either fix it or take his spot," he vowed. "Or I will charge you with Treason against the pantheons because you could have us all killed for being so petty."

"She'll be charged anyway, even if she does take it," one of the judges proclaimed.  He looked at Loki.  "Breaking that rule is wrong."

"My son has seen fit to get some of my consort's helpers mad at him."

Xander stared at him.  "If they don't want to help with the battle they can switch planes too," he said bluntly.  "And stay there, just like any god who does.  I have too much shit to deal with right now without this shit too."  He stared at his father.

"Fine.  We are all staying quiet until after the battle."

"Whatever.  Half of the time your *consort* doesn't really like SHIELD.  That's gonna look *real* good."  Loki winced.  "Find a better fuck buddy."  His father huffed and left.  He looked at the judges.

"Can you perhaps calm down?" Gaia asked.

"No!" he said.  "Because I'm dealing with stupid people whose selfish inclinations nearly got us all killed.  If you want to give up hope, go for it.  I'll use the power of your temples to help the rest of us survive."

"I am staying and I will do what I can, even though I am not a battle goddess, Xander."  He smiled and nodded.  "Now, your temper is very high."

"My temper is probably going to stay high," he agreed.  "I have a little over a month left."

"You have less than three weeks left," Hera said.  "The calculations were wrong."  Xander sighed but nodded.  "Jonathan did do that to help you."

"I know.  And if it comes down to me or him, he's going to go on to make little baby colonels with someone great who I can stare at from the afterlife and hope like hell they never date Anya."  Odin appeared.  "Flash.  Off," he warned.  Odin left, looking scared.  "Anyone else?"  No one said anything.  He handed over the goddess he was holding captive.  "You have fun with them.  Apparently I need to go back to making battle plans."

"Hold," Alana said as she appeared.  She handed over a box.  "From the dwarf who all-but adopted you."  Xander smiled.  "They left a few extra rings for fitting.  If it's not perfect, bring her up for a day."

"Thank you, Goddess Alana," Dawn said.  "And thank them for me?"

"I shall."  She smiled.  "Wear it over that bodysuit thing, Dawn.  It looks comfortable enough for a long battle."  She looked at her nephew.  "If you need us...."

"I'll call.  I'll call you, the warriors, the dwarves.  Hell, if I need to I'll call the damn frost and fire giants."  She smiled and pinched his cheek before leaving.  He handed it to her.

Dawn opened the box, pulling out the chainmail tunic.  The arms was a top line of chains but no bottom level.  It hitched around the wrists.  The neckline was a mandarin collar, open in front so it wouldn't choke her but it sealed across the gap if she wanted it to.  It would probably come down to her mid-thigh.  "How do I put this on?"

Xander unpinned the extra rings and helped her slide into it.  "Bit tight," he admitted.  "We can add a few rings though."  He hitched the cuffs.  "Slightly short but again, a few rings."  A dwarf wearing a crown appeared.  "King."

"Alexander."  He looked it over.  "We had no good measurement.  Not bad by guess.  We can fix that."  He moved over to take notes and take it from her.  "We will be back in two weeks, human time."

Xander bowed.  "I'm honored by your personal attention and humbled by how you protect my adopted child."

He smiled.  "She is very much a child we could appreciate, even as you were."  He smiled.  "That's why we all but adopted you into the dwarven kingdom."  He disappeared.

Xander grinned.  "That will not counter any magic."

She hugged him.  "Thank you.  I love you but if you die I'm going to kill everyone."  He laughed and gave her a hug.  She pulled back.  "I'm going back to bed.  I still have a thumping headache from the vision."  She took the box with her, smiling.  "Hey, sis.  Hey, guys."  She handed Clint his key.  "I have one to Phil's room so you can have yours back."

"His is still sealed, use mine," he said, handing it back.  She smiled and nodded, heading down there.

Buffy looked at him.  "At least you're dangerous in a good way."  Xander popped her on the head.  "Hey!"

"Hylal!" he called.  The warrior appeared and saluted.  "This is the Slayer Buffy.  If she lives through the battle, I wish you to make yourself known to her."  He looked at her and nodded, but Buffy was staring at him.  "As slayers are under my aegis, if you two work, she's yours."  He walked off.  "Her mother would agree and hoped I'd find someone who was good to her."

"Hey!" Buffy complained.

Hylal, who was almost as tall as Thor and about as broad, but had a bit of softness to his muscles, knelt beside her.  "Slayer, I am the senior warrior Hylal.  I protect one of the outer villages from the frost giants.  We have not lost a battle yet."  She stared, mouth slightly open.  He smiled.  "In truth, I have heard much of this plane, including that it has less snow.  Which would be a blessing from Odin himself on me."  He kissed her hand.  "I look forward to seeing if we are mated.  Only a true warrior woman could ever be my spouse, as is fated."  He touched her hair and smiled.  "Even if it said she was a brunette pretending not to be."  He kissed her hand again then disappeared.

The judges conferred.  "We will bring this to our chambers so we do not annoy more humans.  They are not used to us and our squabbles, or Alexander's temper."  They all disappeared en masse.

Buffy was still squeaking and pointing.

Tony smiled.  "He found you a good one.  He was helping O'Neill if I remember right."  She whimpered.  "Thor?" he called.  He reappeared with the others courtesy of Roque.  "I'm sure he's sorry," he told Roque.

"They'll just put her in as a minion goddess for a bit and make her make another alignment marriage and womb using," he said dryly.  He looked at the shocked slayer.  "What's wrong with you?"

"Xander set her up with a warrior named Hylal?" Clint said.

"He's a strong, sturdy guy.  Can't outdrink me because he hardly doesn't," Roque said.  "Can sometimes kick my ass sparring.  Has three or four sons but his former spouse died because she wasn't warrior enough and the childbirth was hard on her since they're all big suckers.  Guy commanded a battalion during a battle without orders.  The guy in charge died and he took over. 

"It was critical and he won it for us."  She squeaked again.  "You'll like him.  He has stamina.  More than Clay does.  Personally I think his wife died of childbirth because the fifteen hours it took to conceive his daughter wore her out."  He disappeared to the judge's chambers to speak on his mother's behalf.  He loved his mother, even when she went from a fertility goddess to a petty and jealous love goddess.

Buffy looked at Tony.  "Was I drugged?"

"No, I don't think he'll need to."

She leaned forward to bounce her head on the table.  Clint casually slid some paper under her forehead so she wouldn't break the table.

Steve looked at Tony.  "I thought Director Fury swore," he said quietly.

"No, Xander can apparently."  Steve nodded quickly.  "He was about to lose his temper too."

"He can fix the windows too," Fury complained.  "Someone monitor to see if he's blowing up somewhere else."

"They're in Germany and England," someone reported.  "The addresses are associated with that same group that attacked Ms. Potts in Amsterdam."

"Hey, no more Council," Tony said happily, smiling at Steve.

He nodded.  "We shouldn't have any more problem from them."  Buffy bounced her forehead a few more times.  "You should go talk to your mom."

Buffy looked up.  "I should go talk to my mom, yeah.  Thank you for having a good, common sensical mind."  She got up, hugging her new weapon to her chest, and headed down to catch a cab.  Tony got Happy to drive her since she was so out of it.  He texted Joyce too.  That way she knew she was coming.

"So apparently we're nearly ready to kick this god's ass," Fury said.  "Any debate?"  They all shook their heads.  "Then go do what you need to do until the date we get there.  We land the weekend before."  They nodded and left.


Clint walked into his room that night, watching Dawn sleep.  He had no idea how she did it since he tended to wake up as soon as someone walked past his door these days.  He carefully closed and locked it, walking over to the bed.  She was still dressed.  He sat down and brushed her hair back, which woke her.  "Morning."

"It is?" she asked, sounding fuzzy minded.

"Not quite.  It's dinner."  She nodded and let her eyes drift shut.  "You need to eat."

"Will when I get up," she mumbled.  "Should go home."

"No, stay."  He took her shoes off and tossed them aside.  At least she was on top of the covers.  "Head still hurt?"  She nodded.  "Want me to get you some of that migraine stuff?"  She shook her head quickly then held it.  "You sure?"

"M'fine," she promised then yawned.  "I should hit my own bunk so you can have yours."

"No, you can stay."  He laid down behind her, smiling when she snuggled back against him.  "Feel better?"

"Much.  Still sucks.  Hera helped the key kick it into high gear so the growing stuff is nearly done.  That's what's making me so tired."

"Is that why you look a bit bloated?"  She nodded.  "It'll be fine."

"I hope.  She said it might go into overdrive and I'd have to remove it and start over or to find a woman to have it judge against."  She yawned again then flipped over.  "You sure?  I know I have dragon breath."  He kissed her anyway.  She hummed.  "That's nice."

"Still sore?"  She nodded.  "That's fine."  She snuggled in and napped on his shoulder and in a way it was comforting, like she trusted him.  He hadn't felt that in a while.  Even if she was snoring it was nice to be trusted so totally because no one was any more vulnerable than when they were sleeping.  It was also calming because she was almost radiating sleepiness.  He got a good nap too and then they could hit dinner.  Or pig out at breakfast.


Stark looked up as Dawn walked in the next morning.  Less covered but still out of sorts since the clothes looked too tight.  "Are you gaining weight with Tara?"

"No.  The powers are finishing up the growing stuff and I'm bloated because of it.  I feel like I might be though."  He smirked.  "Seriously.  Hera said I might have to scrap it all and start all over again."  He winced.  "Yeah.  Or find a suitable model for it to work from."  She handed over the envelopes.  "Pepper, daily mail, Pepper, and two things from board members."

He opened them first because they probably needed a reply.  He read the joint letters.  They had gotten together to write letters like people in Amnesty International did about his 'relationship' with Dawn.  He handed them over with a smirk, getting into Pepper's mails.  One was on something he had to look over and the other was a reminder of something.  He checked his phone.  "We have a meeting next week."

"Not that I've seen," Dawn said, looking at her own schedule.  She shrugged and put it into his and synched the system.  That helped and she walked off calling one of the board members' wives.  "Hi, Darla, Dawn Summers.  Can we talk for a moment?  Your husband wrote a fairly bad note to Tony Stark accusing him of sleeping with me since I was sixteen."  She smiled.  "That's what I thought because if there was I was clearly missing out. 

"I barely get to date now, much less then, and I was a virgin until a month ago.  So I do not know where your husband got that idea.  Can you maybe talk to him about that issue for me please?  Before it bothers my college career too?"  She grinned.  "Thank you.  You have a great day.  No, him and the other one was signed Bart Lemmings."  She grinned.  "Even better.  Thank you, ma'am."  She hung up.  She made her way back up to Pepper's office, handing her the letters.

Pepper stared then rolled her eyes.  "It'll blow over."

"I talked to Randal's wife and she said she'd talk to him about his delusions as well as the other six we should be expecting.  She didn't know about Mr. Lemmings."

"Oh, crap," Pepper said.  "Now I know why Tony used to come in and get drunk after board meetings," she said cheerfully.

Dawn smiled.  "I told her I barely got to date then and now I still wasn't really dating.  That if there had been anything like that he must've been a saint since I was a virgin until a month ago so I doubt it was accurate."

Pepper smiled.  "I'm sure it'll go away."

"I'm sure too.  I don't know how they got onto that.  I've taken Steve out twice to protect him and I've been seen with Phil, Clint, and Natasha a few times.  Never with Tony out on the town."

"Who knows.  Maybe they think he was grooming you."

She raised an eyebrow.  "I don't take him as the hair dressing sort."  Natasha laughed from the doorway.  Dawn handed over the letters.

She shook her head.  "They never considered that with me."  She handed them back.  "Are you feeling better?  You look tired and bloated."

"The magic is growing that last little bit, as long as it doesn't overreact, or need a role model."  Natasha winced.  "Yeah.  Hera said at the end, it'd settle around something tiny and tear-through until it was broken."  She shrugged.  "No effing clue," she muttered.  Natasha laughed.  She saw a board member coming off the elevator.  "Pepper, Ms. Thurston is here."

"Let her in, ladies."  They did.  "Dawn, can you please go poke HR for the reports?  Natasha, Tony's in the lab."  They nodded, going to get those done while she smiled at the board member.  "Yes, Hilary, what can I do for you today?"

"There's rumors going around that Stark has been turning her into his better half," she said bluntly.

Pepper shook her head.  "Tony's more of a big brother to her than not."

"He's seen as teaching her things, grooming her into a better spouse's image."

"No, if there's any grooming it's so she can take over for her niece if something happens to us."  The woman gaped.  "Callia is her niece."  She smiled.  "Dawn does help with things in case she has to take over as guardian for Callia."

"So if Stark gets himself killed being Iron Man then *she* takes over?"

Dawn walked back in with the reports that had been in the inter-office mail.  "No, if Mr. Stark dies and Pepper lives, then she is guardian of my niece Callia.  If they *both* die then I am."  She smiled.  "Unless you'd rather have her mother, who is the senior slayer?"  The woman shuddered.  She smiled.  "That's one reason why I suck up so much knowledge around here, in case I need it to help her.  If not, I'm just Pepper's perky super-assistant sort."

"I see.  What if the board doesn't like that?" she asked.

Dawn grinned.  "Who said any board of directors has any say over where a child is placed if the parents die?"  The woman flinched.  "For that matter, they have no right to say anything in any custody case.  By law, only her parents can unless a judge tries to interrupt parental or representative rights.  Since I doubt that would happen...."  She shrugged.  "Callia's my niece, ma'am."

"We won't want *you* voting," she said smartly.

Dawn grinned.  "I'd probably appoint someone to handle the board seat.  I'd be busy raising her."  The woman sneered.  Dawn sneered back.  "For that matter, it's not any of *your* business what Mr. Stark has in his will over his daughter's custody."

"The board...."

"Can blow," Dawn said bluntly.  "Stark is more than the head genius around this place.  He has other titles, like Father.  Sometimes that has to come before business.  I'm fairly certain his voting block on the board is appointed to someone he likes for it.  I'm also fairly certain that he's made sure everything is as legal as possible."  She smiled.  "Hi, Callia.  Callia, this is Ms. Thurston, she's on the board.  They meet to talk about business stuff."

Callia smiled and waved.  "Hi."  She looked at her aunt.  "Notes?" she asked, smoothing down her skirt.

"Sure, we can do that later."  Callia beamed and ran over to hug Pepper.  Dawn smiled at her.  "If you're that concerned about who he has as her guardian if he should die, then I would talk to him, not Ms. Potts and not me."  She stomped off.  "I can make you an appointment if you wish," she called after her, smiling and waving.

"Dawn," Pepper warned.

"What?"  She looked at her.  "I was polite."

"Yeah, you were."  She called Tony.  "There's people who are worried that you're leaving your daughter to her aunt some year if you die."  She hung up and got the camera footage from in the office to send to him.

Tony walked past ten minutes later, smiling at Dawn.  "I do have it sorted to someone I like, yes."

"I was polite," she defended.

"A lot more than I would've been.  You really need to learn better sarcasm.  Daughter, want to come create with me?"

"Cool!" she squealed and ran over to grab her father so he could pick her up and walk her off.

"Then we'll write a nice letter to the board."

"Called one of the wives, we're missing about six more letters," Dawn said.

"Yay," he said sarcastically.  She giggled.  "See, sarcasm, it works."  He walked off talking to her about what they should build after they call the board to smack them with a rolled up newspaper.

Dawn winced.  "Excuse me," she said, running for the bathroom.  She was still going to have to change clothes.  Clearly the regrowing hadn't worked.

Natasha walked in.  "Dawn?"

"The regrowing started off the mother of all periods.  I feel like I'm hemorrhaging."  She winced and grabbed her stomach.  Hera appeared and frowned, laying a hand on her stomach.  "Ow," she said, squeezing her eyes shut.  "Lady Hera, can I please live through this?"

"You will," she said, banishing the creation with a sigh.  "I have no idea why that didn't work."  Dawn relaxed, panting.  "Go home, rest, change clothes."

"I can go home and change clothes."  She came out.  "Tell Pepper?"

"I will."  Dawn disappeared.  "Is that going to keep happening?"

"No, probably not," Hera admitted.  She disappeared to check on the girl.  The magic was gathering in her abdomen again, making her almost look pregnant.  "That is not good."

Dawn finished sliding into new panties.  "Doesn't feel great either, Lady Hera.  Thank you for saving me back there."

"We'll figure it out."

Dawn nodded.  "Or I can do something."  She looked around then concentrated really hard.  She felt the shields on the house flex but hold.  The magic wrapped out around her.  Everything was fixed.  She was much too skinny now.  The remaining magic was gathered around her renewed hymen and would probably lash out when she broke it if it wasn't controlled.  Hera smiled and helped her.  The bloated feeling came back.  Dawn did the control exercises, pulling it all back in.  Then she locked it back behind her access code.  She concentrated and the shields were still holding.  She fixed everything and sighed as the magic finally dissipated to that one spot and nowhere else.  "Thank you," she said quietly.

"You're welcome, child.  Take something for that pain?"

"I've had worse recently," she admitted.  She put on a dress, calling Phil.  "If that alarm is going off, I was fixing something that went wrong."  He said it hadn't.  "Great.  Thanks, Phil."  She hung up and hugged the goddess.  "Thank you, Lady Hera."

"You are most welcome."  She disappeared.  The girl did hug nicely.

Dawn 'ported back to work, fluffing out her hair.  "Okay, I'm all cleaned up, and it's all good again.  What did you need me to do, Pepper?"

"Where did you go?"

"To change.  It started off massive problems and had to be scrapped."  Pepper winced.  "Natasha was supposed to tell you."

"I think she said something but it was mostly grumbling."

"I'll find her.  Duties?"

"HR?"  Dawn pointed at them.  "Thanks.  Go check on the various departments for me then settle in to do the inter-office mail."  She nodded and left.  Pepper went over the reports.


Dawn frowned at the knock, going to open the door.  "Didn't I give you a key?" she asked the guy on the other side.

"I didn't think you'd appreciate me just appearing," he said dryly.

"Why not?  I do."  She grinned and hauled him inside.  "I'm cooking."  She walked back to the kitchen.

"You look wrecked."

"Did Natasha tell you I had to do something huge earlier?"

"Yeah.  She said she checked and nearly freaked out a bit."

Dawn nodded.  "If it wasn't for Lady Hera I'd probably be in surgery."  She smiled.  "I'm making pasta and putting italian salad dressing on top with cherry tomatoes and corn."

He nodded.  "I haven't had a home cooked meal in a while."  He looked in the pot.  "Nearly there."

Dawn fished a piece out and nibbled.  "Still a bit chewy."

He tasted it and smiled.  "About two minutes.  It's supposed to be barely chewing."

"Huh.  Mom lets hers go to nearly mushy."

He pulled her closer.  "Are you all right?"

She nodded.  "I'm okay and the potion is gone for good."  He grinned.  She looked at the radio, changing the song playing.  "Sorry."

"I noticed the noise.  What band is that?"

"Linkin Park.  Xander gave me a mixed CD."

He listened then looked at her.  "Bit depressing."

"Yeah but sometimes it helps.  The depressing is a lot better than being lied to about how it'll be all right, even if that's all you want to hear."

"Good point."  He looked.  "No mp3 player?"

"I broke it earlier.  I dropped it and had to get into it to fix the battery.  I'm charging it to see if it'll still work."  She stirred it and drained it, then came back to kiss him.  "Needed out of your head?"

"I did.  I could really use some stress relief."

She smiled.  "I can do that."  He grinned back.  "Open the corn and heat it in the microwave for about a minute and a half?"  He did that while she did the pasta and the tomatoes.  They got mixed together and some bread was quickly toasted under the broiler while Dawn set the table.  He brought things out and they settled in to eat and talk about something other than work, though Dawn did tell him about the snotty board members.  He laughed at the thought of her and Stark.  They settled on the couch to slowly work their way up to anything else.

He sniffed her hair.  "Did you borrow shampoo?"

"She got me my own bottle."  She smiled.  "It does keep my hair perky."

"Smells nicer too."  He nuzzled her ear and it was nice.  "Did it come back?"

"The last time it'll be there and the house is under a full shield to protect things."

"That's good.  Less pain?"

"A lot less pain."  He smirked and pulled her closer.  She went willingly because it was always good.  The teasing was great and as it happened, the flash of magic only summoned something that they got to kill.  So it was like hunting as foreplay.  She groaned and apologized with a blow job, which he gladly accepted and forgave her.


Pepper looked up as Dawn walked in the next morning wearing something a bit weird.  "Why are you wearing that?  Is that Tara's?"

Dawn looked at herself then nodded.  "Tara did it."  Pepper shook her head.  "She'll change it back.  She promised she'd be here in a bit to do that."

"Good."  She smiled.  "The board are very sorry thanks to Tony yelling at them that he was going to fire them all."  Dawn grinned.

Natasha walked in and tightened the corset.  "Tara's a bit wider than you are.  She's also stuck in midtown traffic."

"That's fine.  I still look pretty decent and no one can say I'm not demure today."

"True," Natasha said.  She smirked.  "Are you better?"

"I'm good today.  I made dinner last night and have leftovers if you want some."  She smiled.

"I could do that.  I'll get it at lunch."  She handed over a note.  "From the mail and one of the board."

"Great.  They want me to fire Dawn for tempting Tony to the dark side of underaged sex."

Dawn sighed and called the one that had written the note.  "Mr. Paul please.  Dawn Summers.  He wanted a question answered."  She waited.  "Mr. Paul, Dawn.  Yes, I did intercept that note.  You do realize that the allegation is false considering I was a virgin until a month ago?"  She smirked as he ranted.  "That wasn't me.  I've only been Pepper's mentoree since my mother went into cancer treatment.  I met her through SHIELD agents.  I had no idea who they were before then.  Sunnydale wasn't exactly a hotbed of superheroes or tech people."

She listened.  "That's not me.  No, that's Miss Romanoff.  Not me.  I'm the young one that follows Pepper around taking notes.  No, I'm not on that team, sir.  I do have some magical skills and I have had to use it to protect Pepper and myself but I am not an Avenger."  She glanced over, getting a nod.  "Again, that would be Miss Romanoff.  Yes, the redheaded one."  She smiled.  "Actually I think we're her mundane identity.   We're her Daily Planet as it were."  He spluttered.

"Now, are there any other concerns?  No, sir, and I can provide a written statement if you want," she said sarcastically.  "After all, I waited a while to pick someone worthwhile instead of getting it at a club like many suggested I should do.  Or on the beach during my vacation in Miami as some suggested would be a good thing."  She listened then laughed.  "Really?  That's funny.  No, that's not me, that's my sister.  Callia's mother.  I'm Dawn, her little sister and Callia's aunt.  Yes I'm quite certain.  Who said that?"

She hummed.  "Unfortunately there were pictures of me during that time.  A few weren't all that flattering but there was no way I could conceal a pregnancy, especially at sixteen or seventeen.  You can look them up.  One was in Time right before Callia was born, sir.  You have a better day and I do hope that whoever is starting these rumors is stopped soon before I have to sue.  Thank you and you have a better day."  She hung up.  "He looked up the Time picture and said it was clear I wasn't carrying."

"No, we would've all realized it when your magic went screwy," Pepper said.

She grinned.  "It leads back to that dumb reporter too."

"Wonderful.  Prepare a statement."  Dawn went to her desk to do that.  She sighed and looked at Natasha, who shrugged.  "Tell Tony?  He'll have a fit if I tell him and try to rush to protect her."

"I can do that."  She left to go talk to Stark in his office.  "That reporter from Miami has twisted facts so that you've had Dawn since before she moved into Pepper's apartment and she's Callia's mother plus on the Avengers."

Tony quirked an eyebrow up.  "I wondered where it started.  She okay?"

"Pepper has her preparing a statement."

"Thanks.  Close the door?"  She did and paused.  She walked off smirking.  She had no idea who the woman in there with him was but it was nice he was moving on slightly from Pepper.


Dawn smiled and shook the reporter's hand.  "Thank you for helping me correct this problem one of your supposed brethren caused."

"I had our editor get a copy of the tape.  That is not the story she submitted.  That's why he confiscated the tape."

Dawn nodded.  "She really was dumb."

"She still is."  She settled in to go over the facts that were being pushed around.  Dawn was poised and happy seeming.  The story would be a sensational mess about how some reporters were trying to make news by starting conspiracies.  During it, Callia decided to get let in.  They were in Stark Towers.  Callia kicked and called out for Dawn until she got up to let her in.  She smiled and greeted the child, who smiled and waved back then cuddled her aunt.  It was clear she was a good aunt to the child and took good care of her when she was in her custody.  Tony Stark came in ten minutes later scowling and took the baby with him, shutting the conference room door.  Dawn just shrugged and the reporter laughed a bit.


Natasha walked up to her coworker, staring at him.  He was watching from above the bridge.  She sat beside him on the walkway.  "You have smiled more in the last few months than I've seen in years."

He looked at her, smirking some.  "Don't compare.  Please don't compare."

"I'm not.  Simply making an observation."  He nodded.  "Should I prepare for ...."  She waved a hand.  "The semi-stalking thing you used to do?"

"No.  I think I goofed."

"Hmm.  She said you lied to her."  He winced.  "A meaningless thing said in bed probably was how she put it."

"Not totally a lie."

"Hmmm.  Perhaps."  He looked at her again and she shrugged.  "This is all up to you but she's being a bit pouty today.  The guards at Stark said to kick you around for whatever you did."

"It's strange.  She's tried really hard not to be clingy.  She's managed it."

"She does have wisdom beyond her years."

"Yeah, she does.  I made the wrong joke in Miami and she pointed out a few wise things."

Natasha smiled.  "She is very perceptive."

"Yeah, she is.  I...."  He closed his mouth.  "I'll talk to her."

"That's fine.  She's due for a late night with the new problems.  The board has called ten meetings in the next month."

He huffed.  "One called here to get my statement on how long she's been impure as he put it.  I asked why he wanted to ask me that and got told the guards told him."

"Gossip works there as it does here.  Though there's still a few who wanted Coulson to be her first."

"He's much too much a big brother."

"Yes he is," she agreed.  "Though he's trying hard to resist the urge to hover over Tara."

"That's weird but I guess it's making Tara happy and that's important."

"It is.  She's a strong young woman."

He nodded.  "Very.  What's wrong with her weight?"

"When Hera had to fix the problem that the regrowth caused, it left her magic a bit strong.  Apparently she wore it out."

"So she...."

"Yes.  I nearly panicked when I saw all the blood."  He growled.  "Hera helped her.  It's all at the right point now.  She needs to regain the extra ten pounds she lost."

"Figures.  Is she back to wearing her usual stuff?  I know there were a few guards here that worried her clothes were covering up that something bad had happened."

"Mostly.  Today was a dress down day so she was wearing jeans.  Not exactly baggy but not her tight ones.  I think that may be Pepper's doing.  A few of the places they shop together thought that Dawn was her submissive and that's why she had her dressed so strictly."  He shook his head quickly.  She smiled.  "You're smiling."

"I saw that black bathing suit Coulson said made her look like a domme.  He's right, it does."

"She does have a very strong will," Natasha said.

"I should go talk to her today."

"You might bring her something nice to apologize."  She stood up.  "She doesn't expect either one but she's still eighteen and girls do appreciate such things."

He smiled at her.  "The last time I bought a present to apologize to you, you nearly killed me with it."

She smiled.  "You did get me a weapon."  She strolled off.

He considered it.  He had a good idea of what she'd like.  They did need to talk.  He got up and headed down to the main levels.

Coulson cornered him in the elevator.  "The guards over at Stark are saying they're going to shoot you and present your body to her."

"I didn't think it was that bad of a pout."

"It's not.  I talked to her and she went off on one of them.  Pepper chastised her and Stark went off on him too."  That got a nod.  "But."  Clint winced.  "They're still 'concerned' that she's upset right before a battle.  They want her to be perky and upbeat.  I personally think she's thinking again."

"She is.  It wasn't a major thing."

"I didn't think it was.  Did you withhold chocolate?"

"I let one of those little lies in bed out."

Coulson slammed him into a wall.  "Dawn will not take lying.  At all," he said calmly, staring him down.  "Joyce's marriage broke up due to her husband's cheating and lying.  Then Hank lied again and again and again to Buffy and Joyce.  She got all those memories downloaded like they're hers."

"It wasn't that sort."

"I get that.  She probably does.  Just be honest with her.  No matter what.  Buffy lied to her about things.  Joyce tried to lie about how bad things were.  Xander and Spike didn't.  She does take it better from women then men."

"It wasn't even that sort of lie.  Actually it was more a half-truth."

Coulson let him go.  "Go talk to her.  Today."

"I am."  He flicked the switch so the elevator could go on.  "Security tape?"

Coulson smiled.  "I told them not to because I was going to kill you."

"Sure, got it," he agreed.  He got off the elevator and headed to pick up something.  The place he went could even preload songs for him if he asked nicely enough and bought them.  Fifty bucks was a good present and it was something she'd use.  He brought it to Stark Tower, sneaking in so he didn't have to see all the scowls.  He found her heading up a hallway and into a storage room.  He came out of the ceiling and slid in after her.

"I need to drop this off and I'll be right back."  She smiled.  "Who threatened you?"


She rolled her eyes.  "Give me five."  She picked up the box she needed and brought it back, heading back there before Pepper could give her more orders.  She walked in and locked the door then fuzzed the cameras magically.  She stared at him.  "I'm sorry he threatened you."

He pulled her closer, sitting on one of the old chairs in there.  "I did not realize that something like 'you're the best' was going to bother you."

"It doesn't.  The lie of it does."

"I got that.  Coulson about ripped out my heart."  She frowned toward that building.  He turned her face back around.  "You are in one of my top three times," he offered.

She sighed and sat on his knee.  "I know very well I could never compare to a history of being so familiar that you got too familiar."  He winced.  "I asked before all this started."

"That's basically what happened."

"That's why I nearly didn't pick you.  I didn't want to upset her."  She looked at her hands then at him.  "We talked like women and she told me that it was the familiarity issue."

"There is that but we're not...."

"She told me."  She smiled.  "I don't expect strings."

"I know.  I like that about you actually."  She grinned.  "It's good.  It's comfortable without being too much.  Even when I'm having one of my darker days.  Though the brownies?"

"Tara.  She said you had a bunch of nightmares and she hoped that they helped you sleep."

 He nodded.  "They did.  I ate myself sick on them and fell into a pretty deep sleep.  Herbs?"

"Probably made with tea instead of water."  He nodded once.  "I like what we have."  He grinned.  "But no more lies."

"No more lies unless you ask me to."  She looked at him.  "When and if you want me to tell you it'll be all right."

"I'd love to hear that but I know it won't be."

He cuddled her.  "It'll be good enough.  It may not be perfect or fine but it'll be good enough."  She nodded, resting against his shoulder.  "Is Pepper going to yell?"

"Probably a tiny bit.  Then again she told me to show up tonight in something slinky so we could have a post stress-relief talk.  That men were better at talking afterward."

He laughed. "Sometimes."  He pulled the little package out of his pocket and put the earbuds in her ears, turning it on.  She hugged him.  He relaxed because it was good.  "Dinner?"  She nodded.  "See you then."  He took a kiss and left.

She stayed there for a few minutes then went back to work.  One earbud stayed in and the other ear was free for conversation or phone calls.  It helped a lot.  Pepper gave her a pointed look but she shrugged.  Pepper smiled and they got back to work on the problem of the moment.


They were at SHIELD HQ for a meeting and Dawn had Callia.  "Sorry, her nanny is really sick."

"Poisoned?" Fury asked.

"No, flu."  She sat down and put Callia in her lap.  "Let's listen to Mr. Fury," she said with a point.  Callia smiled at him and they settled in to go over the initial plans.  Dawn shook her head.  "The port's not that deep.  I remember a complaint that a small day-cruise ship couldn't get in.  The mayor had arranged it and they couldn't become a heavy snacking time."

"So we have to land near LA," he said.  "It's a few hour drive so under a half-hour of flight."

"What about to the north?" Dawn asked.  "I know we have beach access just outside of town thanks to the mermaid thing."

Fury looked at the maps.  "There's one within an hour's drive so that should work."

Callia raised her hand, looking at her aunt.  "Trip?"

"Yes, for a later trip.  You'll be with Gertrude."  Callia' pouted.  "You can go the next time we go on a trip, dear."  Callia nodded and settled in.  She climbed onto the table and down to Bruce Banner's seat, climbing into his lap with a grin for him and a cuddle.

Fury shook his head.  "Let's hope she doesn't have to be pulled out beds like her father does," he muttered.  Dawn pegged him with a pen.  He glared.  "You need to be on the hell carrier when we leave."

"I'll be at my house the night before," she said.  "To make sure that Willow's removed all her protections and stuff."  He opened his mouth.  "I can do the initial scouting and setting up of surveillance gear too."

"That could help.  I was going to send a forward team."

She shrugged.  "I grew up there partially.  I can do it."  He grimaced but nodded.  "We're missing a few family pictures anyway."  She settled in her seat.  Callia had moved onto her favorite uncle with the hat.  She was pouting at him so he tickled her.  She kicked him under the chin and crawled across the table to hide with Steve.  Who cuddled her.

Fury looked at Dawn.  "Can't you put a baby leash on her?"

"No."  She smirked.  "She doesn't need a leash.  She's not a puppy dog."  Fury shuddered because that was a hint he'd be named Furry instead if he pissed Dawn off.

Callia looked at her uncle.  "Elephant?"

"Um, no," he said.

Dawn got up and picked up the baby, walking her over to a wall.  "Stand there.  Face the wall.  You don't ask that question and you know it."  Callia tried to turn around but Dawn stopped her, getting a fit started.  Dawn just stared at her.  "The longer you fuss the longer you're standing there.  You know better."  She turned her back around and stood behind her so she couldn't move.  Callia finally sat down to pout.  "You do not ask people that question.  You know better," she said calmly.  Callia looked up at her.  Dawn pointed at the wall.  She pouted at it.

"Is that a time out?" Steve asked.

"I think that's a stand in the corner," Clint said.  Natasha nodded.  "Elephant?"

"She started to use that word when she climbed over a naked Clay to get a story from Roque," Dawn said, looking back.  He groaned.  "So, no, she's not allowed to ask that question."

"Daddy," Callia sniffled.  Dawn put her back there.  "Daddy!" she screamed.

"It's not hurting you but you will learn manners, niece."  She put her back in place.  "Two more minutes."  She pointed at the wall.  "Nose there."  Callia started to cry.  "Not working."

Tony walked in.  "What are you doing?"  He noticed Steve blushing and his daughter having a melt down.

"She's asking about elephants again."  He winced.  "So she's standing in the corner."  She stared at her niece.  "You know better.  You do not ask that."  Callia was still crying so she let her go.  "Next time you ask that question anywhere but the zoo you can go again."

Tony picked her up.  "She's a bit young."

Dawn stared at her.  "Mom said Buffy was in a corner half of her second year.  Callia's smarter than Buffy ever was."

"Good point."  He sat down, letting her sit on his lap.  "No, you may not go to Uncle Steve.  You asked Uncle Steve something bad."  He held her in place.

"I..." Steve said.  "I can take her back."

"No, she needs to learn some boundaries," Tony said.  Dawn sat down again.  "Is that her first one?"

"Second.  We caught her trying to grope.  She went into a corner then.  Fussed and whined but we kept at it until she finally gave in and stood there."

"That's fine.  I can take that sort of correcting.  She's got your mother's strong will."

"Undiluted apparently," Dawn agreed.  Tony smiled.  "When you do good things, you get praised.  When you do bad things, you stand at the corner," she said.  "Don't do bad things."

Callia pouted at her father.  "Zoo?"

"Maybe tomorrow."  She pouted and sat there.

Fury shook his head.  "There's days I wish agents were that easy to correct."

"Who would want a ship full of toddlers?" Dawn quipped.  Fury walked off shuddering.

Tony smirked.  "Nice sarcasm.  I'll train you to use that instead of your temper yet."

"Probably," she agreed.  "Still won't keep the board members from saying things though."

"I saw that article in the paper.  Did you warn your mother?"

"Yup.  She laughed herself sick.  Literally sick."  He grinned.  "Though it was nice that one of the people who responded in the editorials thought that I was dating Pepper with the way she made me buy the clothes she liked."

Tony shook his head.  "Bad image, Dawn."

"Sorry, bossman."  She grinned.

Coulson shook his head.  "I did not want that one either."  Dawn reached around Natasha to pat him on the arm.

Fury came back.  "What now?"

"Nothing, sir," he said, straightening up.  He glared at Dawn, who grinned.  "You're getting stood in the corner too."

"I could've used a worse one."

"Probably, yes."

"Okay, so we're moving later this week," Clint said.  "Getting there, parking for a day to make sure nothing's changed," Clint said to get the meeting back on track.  Callia climbed off her father's lap and over to sit in front of him.  "Hi.  Did you need something?"

She grinned.  "Hug?"  He gave her one.  She slid into his lap.

He looked at her.  "I'm not really used to kids, little one."  She patted his hands so he shrugged.  He frowned at the calm feeling, looking at Dawn.  "She does the same thing you do."

"We're pretty sure Willow opened that gift in her," she agreed.  Tony looked confused.  "The empathy thing."

"Oh."  He nodded.  "Yeah, she is.  She has a brain wave blip in the area of empathy the same way Dawn does."

"Huh."  She was floating paper down.  Coulson gave her a pen so she looked at Fury, ready to 'take notes'.

Fury shook his head.  "Do we have the weapons we need right now?" Fury asked Stark.  The baby was making 'notes' by writing lines of scribbles.

"Cutting it close.  Both are due to be done two days before."

"Is the plan going to change if he can't be destroyed?" Dawn asked.  "Shoving him back?"

"If so, do so," Tony said.  She nodded.  "Anything we need to think about?"

"Willow and Tara both have places protected around Sunnydale.  They'll want to remove those so they don't get hit by them going down.  I have to undo the one on the house."

"I'll note that to them," Coulson said.  "Is Rosenburg getting a battle escort, sir?" he asked.  Callia was 'making notes' and they were precise little lines of squiggles.  He looked at Fury again.

"Yes but I'm not sure who yet."

"There are three magic resistant junior agents," Dawn said.  Everyone stared at her.  "I tested half the hell carrier on purpose to see who she'd use to get free.  Two are on her guard team.  The other is that guy on the bridge," she told Phil, who nodded.  "I have not tested everyone around here but one of the women here is.  She's also pregnant.  Which I'm thinking means the baby might need some lessons from Tara."

"We can assign them to her," Fury decided.  "If they're guarding her now they know how slippery she can be."  They all nodded.  "Tara's leaving when for England?"

"Day after tomorrow," Dawn said.  "She's got a doctor's appointment tomorrow."

"Fine."  He looked around.  "Stark, any extra weapons lying around your lab?"

"Still working on some.  They're going but...."  He shrugged.  "I'm not sure that just explosives will work."

Dawn shook her head, pushing her hair behind her ears.  "Not according to the comics that Xander found."

"Then we'll figure it out," he said.  "It could at least work long enough to distract him for another attack."

"That can be a good idea," Clint agreed.  "Will guns work?"

"Maybe," Dawn said.  "The new enhanced ammo should work better.  How much do we have of it?" she asked Tony.

"I forgot you had JARVIS work up a different mix."  She grinned.  "It does work well and it's explosive tipped.  How did you figure that out?"

"I asked him about stuff until he figured out what I was asking and helped me."

"That makes more sense.  It should help and it's being mass produced."

"Enhanced how?" Fury asked.

"Tougher metals, explosive tipped," Tony said.  "It's good for body armor shots too."  That got a nod of understanding.  "I'll bring some over."

"I ran a range test with it.  It fires the same but it does more damage," Natasha said.

"I saw that," Coulson said.  "That could help and against thinner body armor it did pierce it."

"We have some of the old armor piercing rounds," Tony said.

Dawn shook her head.  "Not enough and someone's already shouting that we're putting out weapons that are going to hit the black market."  Tony scowled at her so she found the article and slid her phone over.  "Them."

He looked it over, groaning.  "If they want to make super weapons let them try."  He slid it back.  "I'm not worried about them."  She changed to another site and slid it back over.  He stared.  "That I am.  How did you get that plan?"

"It's on the web.  That's part of their show-off for the upcoming expo."  Fury took it to look at, frowning.  She looked at Tony.  "If it's already out there on the web, then people have it, yes?"  He nodded slowly.  "They somehow got hold of one of the enhanced bullets too.  They can't figure out the metal mix.  They were making a few with some special asteroid mineral."

"Do you remember which?" he asked.

"No.  I remember someone in R&D here told me to please snatch one because they were deathly worried and their industrial spy was sucking this week."

Fury looked over.  "Hill, find out what it was made of?"

"Yes, sir."  She called down there, grimacing.  "Iridium and Vibranium, sir."

"That's Cap's shield," Dawn said.

"Partially," Fury agreed.  "Damn it!"  He tossed her back her phone.  "Will that hurt them?"

Tony nodded.  "Probably."

Agent Hill walked over.  "They said the bullet was going to fracture.  The bonds between the two metals are not firm.  It nearly crumbled in their tests," she reported.  She called up the reports they had sent her by email.  "This is the preliminary that they have."

Tony leaned over to look at the display.  "That's not a good job at all."

Dawn pushed her hair back again.  Then she tied it up with a pen in her pocket.  "When JARVIS was helping me, he said that forging the few we were looking at needed an intermediary metal for them both to bond to.  Is that the same problem?" she asked.

Tony smiled.  "It is.  The one they need is actually steel probably."  He made notes on the display.  "Do we have any supply of either left?"

"Very little," Fury said.  "Probably not enough to experiment with, Stark."

Dawn sighed and did a net search, calling Jensen at the same time.  She smiled.  "That's going to suck.  One of the metals that makes up naquaddah is vibranium."  She looked at Tony.  "They don't know how to extract it without blowing up a lot of stuff."  Her phone beeped and she looked at the link, sliding her phone over to him.   "The lesser form of Iridium."

"I'll be damned," he said.  "Jensen?"

"Yup, like you said, always ask the best," she quipped with a grin.

"They're both lesser versions that aren't pure," Tony said, making equations on his own tablet computer.  JARVIS had popped up a box reminding him he did have a tiny bit of both substances stored to test with.  "Those two won't mix with steel or anything I know of."

Dawn considered it then tapped out something to JARVIS, who scanned something.  It came back it would work but the metal might not be able to be unmade properly.  Though she had two things in it.  She smiled at Tony.  "Remember that pretty hammered necklace I got for going with Xander to the convention last night?"

"I saw it earlier and had you take it off because the scanners were going haywire."


"Yes, Dawn?" he asked from Tony's phone.

"How much of a match is that?"

"That would bond even the lesser versions together.  At the more pure versions it would make them nearly indestructible."

"Okay, now can you call my sister's friend Spike and have him find us some?  They have my phone."

"I can do that."  He paused then laughed.  "Spike said he knew where it was.  It's fairly plentiful on this realm since no one can work in it.  Should he procure some?"

"Yes," Tony said.  "And anything else he thinks might be helpful."

"Tell him to ask about any energy metal," Dawn said.  "The other Xander's find it really handy."

JARVIS paused.  "That is apparently more rare here but there is some available."

"How much?" she asked.

"Not outrageous.  Ten thousand dollars a gram."

"A gram?" Tony demanded.

Dawn pulled up something to show him.  "That little sliver has been burning for over ten years."

He stared.  "Really?"  She nodded.  "Is it the same composition?"

"No idea."

"We'll have to look into that.  Can we get some from wherever to test against?"

"Ask Xander.  They have a communication box for penpal things."

Tony called him and talked to him about it.  "He has some in his temple in the fire lamps."  She grinned.  "And some of the other metal.  JARVIS, we're getting samples from Xander.  Start immediate testing for atomic level sturdiness and components."

"I can do that, sir.  Spike said he can get the other fairly cheaply.  A hundred dollars for about six pounds."

"That should be good.  Thank you," Tony said, hanging up.  "If that works, I'm so buying you new shoes."

She grinned.  "I have plenty of shoes.  I'll let you buy me a new tv though because however I mounted it was wrong and it fell off the wall last night."

"I can do that too.  Cheaper than shoes."  He tapped out a message, looking at Fury.

"Go.  Do you need Doctor Banner?" Fury asked.

"I want to see this new metal," he admitted.  They left together.

Dawn got her phone back and put it into her pocket.  She noticed Callia staring at her hair and the pen.  She took a pencil and did hers that way, earning a smile.  "You'll learn that when you're older."  Callia nodded and got back to making notes. 

"Unlike your aunt, who used an uncapped blue sharpie one day so she still has a dot on her neck," Coulson said dryly.

Dawn stuck her tongue out at him then smiled at Fury.  "One of the Xander's uses that energy metal to fuel his forge."

"That might be handy to know about," he decided.  "That necklace?"  She summoned it and let him see it.  "It feels like silver."

She grinned and nodded.  "But once it's forged it's almost impossible to get it undone."

"Very interesting," Steve said.  "Why is it so cheap here?"  He took it to look over.

"Probably no one here knows how to use it.  Xander would ask one of the Xanders that use it for how to form it properly."

"Huh."  He handed it back and she put it on.  He winced.  "Dawn, it's got a vibration."  She took it back off.  "Thanks."  He wiggled a finger in his ear.  "Can I test that against my shield?"  She nodded, tossing it to him.  He got up and went to do that.  It got near it and the shield squealed but once he was within a foot of it no more squeal.  It mellowed the closer he got.  He took it back there.  "Definite reaction but it got more harmonic the closer I got."

She put it into her pocket.  "That Xander makes jewelry and stuff out of it.  And sometimes things like swords or hairpins."

"Hairpins?" Natasha asked.  "Why?"

"That Xander, and the others like him, have waist length hair."  She shivered.  "They're also a safety measure."  She smiled.  "For when they get taken again."

"The hormoned ones?" she asked.  Dawn grinned and nodded.  "Interesting."  She shook her head again.

"I can't see how anyone has waist length hair but a guy especially," Clint said.

Dawn smiled.  "You might actually like that Xander.  He's a great guy, very fun, kinda smart.  Fights with a sword.  Is immortal."  Clint stared at her.  She smirked.  "Has a hormone problem that means he has to wear it out a lot or he gets kidnaped but he's a great Xander.  Very fun.  Kinda wise.  Keeps having to take down demon realms for wanting him.  He's taken down something like forty-two or so."  He shuddered.  "For trying to make him their wanted one, yeah.  But he's a really good guy."

"Are there any normal Xanders?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, most were.  The one that we got the comics from went from hunting to owning a comic shop because my sister there was a bitch.  Most of them are.  There's very few special Xanders, though I'm not sure if Lavelle is in that group or not.  Oh!"  She grinned.  "We were talking about the world where a witch there got really mad at the Xander and Hannibal, from the Blade movie," she told Clint, who nodded. 

"They're hunters, and Xander there is raising the Losers because Willow pulled them from their movie and deaged them to give Xander sons.  Anyway, she started an apocalypse and they stopped her but the FBI handed her back so she created a D&D world.  Dragons and all.  The first anyone knew of it was a wash of magic over Hawaii and then dragons eating a sniper that was firing on the Xander there and some officers he had been talking to.  They had to go help."  She pulled up that file.  "I took notes on what they did, how they did it, and who did it."  She handed them to Natasha with a smile.  "I think you know her."

She read it over, nodding.  "I do know her.  We know her."  She let Clint see.

"I knew I should've been allowed to kill her.  Does she have magic here?"  Dawn shrugged.  "Can anyone else do this?"

"Yes.  With three higher demons helping."  She grinned.  "That's at the level that Tara pretends to be.  A stronger witch might not take as much help.  Notice it washed over Hawaii all the way to Vegas.  They were dealing with the one that happened here in New York to hype it that went down to Kentucky if I remember right.  That one was done by one of the sons of the Devon Coven.  He's an eco terrorist witch here too."  She pulled up that file.  "Much more magic and it would be good for trees and things.  Though they did say they had to fight Central Park trying to eat the muggers for the PD."

Clint looked at her.  "You need to be less perky."

She smiled.  "Chaos.  Mages."

He shuddered.  "That's a horrible thought."

"They're having a meeting next month," Natasha remembered.

"Janus sees into all realms so I'm pretty sure he saw over there since our Xander went to help."

"If we suddenly have dragons here, we're going to have a lot more problems," Clint said.

"Especially since there they like to take pretty women."

"So you'd have to dress down a lot and maybe wear some sort of Middle Eastern covering gear?" Clint teased with an evil smirk.

"Yep, since they *adore* magic."

Fury shuddered.  "How possible is it that they can do it here, Dawn?"

"That one son is supposedly a white light witch but he's also an eco terrorist, only trees are good sort.  The one that did it there I have no idea if she has magic or not."

"If so, we're taking her out," Clint said happily.  "I knew I'd get to shoot her one day."

Steve cleared his throat.  "What's a D&D world?" he asked.  Dawn pulled up the footage to show him.  They stared.  "Those are dragons," he said.  "And a flower that's eating someone's head."  He frowned.  "So mostly like here only there's magical creatures and problems?"

"Magic's very high there," she agreed.  "Hawaii here is nearly as strong with magic as there was by the scans they did.  Less protections but as strong."  He nodded, going back to watching it.

The team watched a dragon snatch a person.  "Using it to cuddle up to?" Clint asked hopefully.

"Sometimes but others they're food."  She handed him something.  "The Xander there and the weapons creating Xanders, who are twin CSI as well, created this and they wanted it given to whoever would handle this situation.  The only caveat is that the cold version lowered the temperature in Manhattan by twenty degrees in July at the strongest level.  That one lowered the temperature in Hawaii nearly thirty degrees when they used two to kill fire breathers trying to get into schools."  She found another file.  "The original was used against some demonic spiders, which we do have here and they're not all that rare."

"Seen them," he agreed with Natasha.  "Everyone we know was taught to stomp them on sight."

"They can nest in groups of up to a thousand.  The twin Xanders' CSI lab was invaded by a nest."  Natasha shuddered.  "That's the cold radiation bomb they used to fix it, which was what had that drastic of a temperature drop.  Andrew helped them create it with O'Neill's help."

They looked that incident over.  "We can use that," Fury said.

She smiled.  "They said if we get dragons here, the cold one will kill the fire breathers.  The other one will boom splat a dragon."

He nodded.  "Good to know.  It's looking very compact.  We need to get Stark to make some."

"I was going to give it to him afterward.  Give him happy thoughts in the infirmary."

Fury looked at her.  "His birthday is in six weeks."

"I know."

"Still need to be less perky, Dawn," Clint said.  She got him into the testing video of the weapon.  He was nearly moaning in pleasure at the thing.  "That's sweet.  Small."

"We can probably shrink one down to an arrowhead," Dawn admitted.  He stared at her.  She grinned.  "No clue if he can or not."

He nodded.  "That could be handy in some limited situations but maybe."  She was getting pounced later to take care of the perky, bad idea mood she was in.  Talk about teases.

Natasha looked at her.  "If so, we may use them in other manners."  Dawn grinned at her.  She looked at Fury.  "Can our R&D do it?"

"No.  They cut the budget on weapons research again."

Dawn got into one last file and let Clint see it.  He shuddered.  "That's the Xander there on the D&D world.  Aren't Clay and them cute little kids?  I showed him that picture and he walked off telling Roque to please take him out before Rosenburg did it for him.  Got the movie off that Xander, and another one but our Xander has it."

"I'll ask him for it."  He handed her back her phone after turning it off.

Fury looked at her.  "Barton, escort her back to Stark's side and make sure he sees those.  Coulson, figure out a response if we suddenly get dragons and find me those people so we can watch them."

"Yes, sir."

"The dossiers are on your desk," Dawn said with a perky smile for her 'big brother'.  "I told Tara so she had someone look them up for her."

"That's a good first step."  He looked at Callia.  Dawn picked her up and took her and Clint down to the car.  He breathed out.  "I'm sorry she's in that sort of mood," he said.

Fury shook his head.  "Dick tease," he muttered.

"Yes, sir, she is," Natasha agreed.  "I trained her well in how to tease and not give out."  Steve was blushing.  She got up.  "Let me help him get those people watched."  They walked off together.

Steve went to the gym to take the bad mental images out of his mind.  Dragons were not what he wanted to fight.

Thor was still looking a bit confused.  "I thought dragons were a myth here."

"They are," Fury said.  "There they're not."  He walked off, going to his office.

Thor went to talk to others.  Including Tara.  He adored Tara.


Clint was driving Dawn's car so they got back to the lab in one piece.  He looked at her.  "You are getting pounced later."  She smirked.  "Especially if we can put that down to an arrow tip."  He parked and they got out.  Dawn took Callia up to Pepper then they went to the lab.  "Stark, she's a huge problem and a dick tease."

"Dawn, why are you dick teasing him?" he asked absently.  The screen he was looking at suddenly became a testing video of someone blowing up dragons.  He looked at her through it.  "Where was this?"

"Our Xander had to go help their world."  She opened all the other files.  Clint could explain the spiders and other things.  Stark was staring in awe at a few things.  "The twin Xander CSI and weapon designers said to please give the plans to whoever would be dealing with dragons when and if they did it here."  She grinned.

He looked at her then at Clint.  "I'm not dating her."

"She said she was going to give this to you in the infirmary after the battle as a birthday present," Clint quipped back.

Tony looked at her.  "That would have been mean.  Very mean."

"I'd say more incentive to get better faster," Dawn said.

"Barton, take her somewhere.  She has an hour for lunch as long as my daughter is somewhere else.  I'll work on that after the battle."  He moved it off to the side.  "I'm pretty sure I can do an arrow tip with the cold one at least."

Clint smirked.  "Thanks, Stark."  He walked her off.  "If we do get dragons here, I'm ordering you that outfit."

"If you're sure it'll help," she quipped.

"It'll definitely cut down on your teasing," he complained.  Dawn took them back to her place.  He pinned her to the staircase and it was good to have her on the stairs then upstairs in the bedroom.  She could be five or ten minutes late.  Stark was too busy to notice.


Tara walked into Phil's office the next morning, looking at his desk full of folders.  "Busy?"

"Tiny bit," he said with a grin back.  "Why?"  She closed the door.  "Problems?"

"No.  When Lady Hera protected it she moved me a bit further along."

"How far?"

"I'm eighteen weeks."  He nodded.  She handed over the pictures.  "There's four good ones."

He smiled, looking at the pictures of tiny faces.  He found the other picture folded on the back.  "Twins?" he said, looking at her.  She smiled and nodded.  "Wow."  He got up to hug her.  "Happy?"

"Very happy.  I didn't understand what they meant when they said my son was going to be more like me and she'll be more like you."  He gave her an extra squeeze.  "Someone at the pharmacy suggested I should start a baby book now."

"You should," he agreed.  "Why were you at the pharmacy?"

"He upped my daily pregnancy vitamin."

He kissed her gently.  "Come on.  We'll help with that."  He led her down to HR and the head's office.  "Do you have three minutes for a delicate situation?"

"I do, Agent Coulson."  He let Tara walk in first and shut the door after himself.  "I don't gossip but I tend to hear a good bit of personal news.  I heard you were pregnant, Tara."

She blushed and smiled.  "He let me."

"That's wonderful."  She pulled up the forms.  "I'm assuming you want her put on your insurance, Agent Coulson?"

"Please.  Plus as my beneficiary."  She smiled at him.  "It was going to Dawn and you before," he told her.

She patted his hand.  "It'll be fine and it'll be years before you leave us."

He stroked over her cheek.  "I hope so too."  She blushed and he smiled.

"We do have another form you need to amend," the head of HR said.

"I've already pulled up my will to start the amending.  I was due in four months anyway."  Tara gave him a look.  "All SHIELD agents have to have a will on file.  We're supposed to update it yearly on our signing anniversary.  I usually get mine done sooner."  She ducked her head.  He stroked her back.  "This year I wanted it done sooner because of the upcoming battle."

"I'll try to get it put through by then," the HR head said.  "Usually it'd be another month but I'll definitely try."  She finished the forms, letting him sign them.  "It looks like your insurance would go up about fifteen dollars a month."

"That's fine."

"I can cover that," Tara said.

He looked at her.  "So can I.  I make a better paycheck than you do."  He smiled.  "Will that cover her doctors?"

"It depends on if they take our insurance."

"Agent Hill gave me the name of a doctor she said a lot of agents use."  She handed her the card.

"Oh, yes, we do."  She smiled and printed out the pregnancy packet they had.  "Here, fill that out.  That way when he or she is born they're automatically put on his insurance and as his beneficiaries.  The last form is done after the birth of course since it lists a name."

"It's twins," he said proudly.  "One of each."

"Excellent news, Tara."  Tara smiled, ducking her head slightly again.  "You're going to be a terrific mother.  You prove it by babying the junior agents and making them straighten out."  She handed Phil a paper.  He read it and nodded, signing it.  "Thank you.  I'll try to rush these through.  Any health problems, Tara?  That way they know up front."

"No, not that I'm aware of."

"That's fine then.  Have a good day celebrating."  She smiled.  They walked out together.

Tara looked at him in the elevator.  "I was going to ask Dawn to be a godmother with Natasha and Clint as the godfather with Xander."

"That would suit me," he agreed.  "They'd probably be very happy."  She smiled.  He took her to where they were sparring, whistling to get their attention.  It stopped the match before they got too close.  "She has ultrasound pictures."

Natasha came over to look at them.  "One's very dark."  Coulson flipped the strip over to show the one folded back.  "Twins?" she demanded, making Tara smile.  "He was clearly potent."  Tara blushed.  She handed them back with a smile.  "Congratulations."

"Wow, two mini Coulsons," Clint teased with a grin.  "They'll be running this place and the hell carrier some year."

Tara nodded.  "Both may have my gifts but Lady Hera said she would definitely be more like her father while he would be like me."

Clint blinked a few times.  "Wow, one of each.  You're never going to get any peace from the picking on each other.  He's going to be overprotective and she's going to fight it."

She grinned.  "I was going to ask you two and Xander and Dawn to be godparents."

"I'd be honored," Natasha agreed.  Clint nodded he would too.  She hugged them and they walked off to get something to snack on.  Natasha looked up at her friend.  He shrugged slightly.  "I'll help you put together the furniture."

"Thanks."  He stretched and they got back into sparring.  "I guess someone moved her farther along."  She nodded.  "That means she's in the second trimester too."  She hit him extra hard, making him wince.  "Easy."

"I doubt we'll see any of that."

"Probably not.  Last time was a bit more than I wanted to know."  She laughed.  The sparring match was back on and it was good for them.


Dawn cheered.  "Yes!  I knew it was twins!"

Pepper came out of her office with Tony.  "Who?"

"Tara," Stark said.  "Twins?"

"One of each.  Hera moved her to eighteen weeks.  They have the first ultrasound pictures."

He grinned.  "That's great for her.  I hope the kids are a lot like whoever she picked as a father."  He noticed Dawn trying hard not to blush.  "You know, don't you?"  She nodded.  "Do we know them?"  She nodded and pointed up the hall.  "Oh!  Ooooh, interesting combination there."  He walked off shaking his head but smiling.

"Phil?" Pepper asked quietly.

"Um, yeah.  There was dinner and mead with the group," she said quietly, looking around then at her.

"Wow."  She smiled.  "I'll have to pick out great baby presents.  Does she know what they are yet?"

"One of each."

"Aww."  She went back to her office to look up possible baby presents.  Tara was probably going to breastfeed so no bottles.  Diaper gift certificates were an option to put into the baby gift basket.  Clothes of course.  She'd have to see where Tara registered.


Dawn got an idea and went back to the Council's library at SHIELD HQ to look it up.  It was easy enough to do and she had something that could help.  She considered her options then found the perfect thing.  It wouldn't bother his firing or his fighting.  She took it home to put the spell on it then got out all her weapons to look over while Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, and Skillet were playing from her new mp3 player.  It would help.


Dawn walked in the next night, finding someone sitting on her rafters.  She smiled.  "Are you going to come down?"

"Maybe later."

"Even if I have a present for you?"

"I could like presents but is it going to make you hyper again?  Because if so, I'm not coming down."

She laughed.  "Probably not."  He slid down his rope.  "How did you get up there?  Do I need to clean the table or the counter?"

"I used the rope, Dawn."

"I still can't do that."  He smirked at her.  "I know, I'm not infallible.  Trust me, my mother reminded me earlier."  She got into the closet and came out, sliding the simple cuff on his bicep.  "Too tight?"

"No, feels good.  Protection?"

"That too but if you touch the pretty raised design it summons back all the arrows but two.  It wouldn't stick on them."  She handed over the bag.  "All three of my crossobows and my bolts.  I did your quivers too."

He smiled, kissing her.  "That's a really handy present to have."

"I probably won't need a weapon during the battle."  He pulled her closer.  "You have to leave tomorrow," she said.

"I know."  He took another kiss then settled in to look over what she had.  He had only found the one.  The other two were heavier than his usual one but they were also wrist mounting if he needed them to be.  That was handy and the bolts were all on forearm quivers.  He pulled her closer.  She snuggled into his side.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  You'll use them better than I ever could."  He nodded.  She put her head on his shoulder, one arm teasing his stomach.  It was comforting.  It was the last time she'd see him before the battle.  "You and Natasha ready?"

"Yeah, 'Tasha and I are as good as we can be," he said quietly.

She gave him a squeeze.  He relaxed.  "Want me to make dinner?"

"Not really hungry."

"Want me to get naked?" she teased.

"I might like that later."  She just snuggled into his side.  He relaxed, not thinking about the upcoming tragedy in the making.  She was calming.  It was great for his nerves.  He finally pulled her into his lap.  "You need to gain that ten pounds back."

"I've gained back five of it."

"Uh-huh.  Eat while we're gone."

"I will be."  She snuggled in better. 

He relaxed again.  "Want lied to?" he asked.

"Please," she begged.

"It'll be okay and everyone will come through healthy and whole."  She relaxed.  That was what they both needed.  And maybe some pizza after a stress break.  Which she was all for too.


Pepper walked into Tony's lab with a mug of coffee.  She handed it to him.  "You can't improve the suit any more," she said gently.  "You've already upgraded everything."

He nodded.  "I feel like there's something more I need to be doing."

"Then like last time, when you hugged Callia to death when you got back, go hug her now."

"I'm going to.  I..."  He ran his hands through his hair.  She leaned in and kissed him.  "Yeah, I need to hug you too."  He pulled her up to his suite and it was good.  Comforting.  Calming.


Dawn looked up at Clint, who was half asleep but looking smug.  "We should gang up on you."

"Even I need recovery time, Dawn."  He smirked.  "She'd kill you if you pulled her."

Dawn texted her buddy, who sent back that she was trying to pack things.  Dawn pulled her over, making Natasha scowl.  "Pack later."

"She's right, Nat."  He held up a hand.  "Come get calmer."  She slipped into the bed and it was good.  Recovery time be damned with those two ganging up on him.  Fortunately he had been working on his stamina.


Six days later, Dawn walked into her old house.  She felt the protections wrap around her.  She texted Tara to remind her to gather hers and Willow's.  She wandered through the house, staring at the old rooms, some of the old furniture.  It hurt.  It hurt a whole lot.  She went to put up the cameras, calling in that they were up.  They got told they were off so she adjusted them.  They worked and she went back to the house, looking around the town. 

The Magic Box had been raided but she went in to get the more personal things that no one would've thought of.  A few pictures.  An amulet that was on the counter with her name on it.  She smiled.  "Giles," she said, rubbing a finger over it.  She put it on and walked out.  She went back home.  Whoever had cleaned the house had thrown out the box of pictures as a shoe box.  She sent that at her mom.  She put her bag in her old room and went down to look.  No food in the fridge of course.  Or the freezer.  Fortunately she knew where things were kept and no one had went looking for the overflow pantry.  She made some popcorn and went to sit out back.

It was so quiet she swore she could hear cars on the interstate about fifteen miles away.  She settled into what was usually her chair on the back porch.  She opened the bag and ate a few pieces.  A man appeared next to her.  "Quit looking like him," she said quietly.

Loki changed into his usual form.  "Fine."

She looked at him.  "I'm not sleeping with you."

"I'd never ask.  You're much too nice."  He sat down.  "It would be nice here outside that stupid hole."

"Hmm.  Yeah but that's why Sunnydale was built.  Is that going to bother you?"

"No.  I've opened myself up more so it won't trap me."  He took some of the popcorn. "This is a nice house."  Dawn nodded.  He heard the complaint over her earpiece that the cameras had browned out.  She shot back that how many of her tracking devices had done the same thing and they hadn't compensated yet?  They groaned but it was fine.  They had a partial picture.  Dawn ate some more popcorn.  Loki looked at her.  "I can feel the wish almost starting."

She looked at him.  "The last time I knew you weren't a wish granting deity," she said dryly.

"I'm not.  Still, I can be magnanimous."

"Sure, make sure we don't have to have this battle."  She ate another bite of popcorn.

"If I could I would.  I do not want to lose my only son."  She pinched him.  "Ow!"  She smirked.  "You really are like his daughter."

"Yes I am."  She got up and made him his own popcorn.  The sound of a beep fills the air, breaking the quiet.


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