Old Ones Coming Back To Normal
Xander was struggling with his godhood. He really wanted to be
back to flesh and blood but each time he started to gain a form he was
stopped and it hurt a whole lot. "Okay, so not fair," he
complained to himself. The elder gods that had merged with time
and space gave him a dirty look. He shrugged. "Yes, I'm
young and impatient. I've been up here now for almost ten
months. I can barely hold a steady shade, much less a real
form." He concentrated on the exercise again. And again, it
hurt. He scanned himself and found the problem. Well, two
One was a Dawn-based infection in his powers. He concentrated on
removing that from his elemental core. Otherwise he'd end up with
an energy pregnancy courtesy of the Key. Which he didn't really
want to hear the jokes about. The other... looked like something
different. He stared then at the power around him.
"Hellmouth radiation, really?" he demanded. The elder ones all
started to laugh. "You could've just told me, people. Then I
would quit annoying you faster."
"You are the most life we've had in a while," one said.
"Yeah but I haven't had sex in *years* now." They all giggled
again. "Sure, you gave up on it. Some of us haven't
yet. I've still got plenty of idiots to deal with. Because
humanity *loves* to destroy itself." They all nodded. He
concentrated on the hellmouth energy and his leak back into the powers
of creation, frowning. "Yup, I can do that." He filled the
holes left by the radiation with the power he wasn't supposed to be
accessing. It was just as tainting and just as bad for him as
hellmouth radiation. The other gods all stared. "Yes!" he
shouted as he disappeared. He landed and shook himself, looking
around all the staring people. "What? I'm finally free,
His father's consort stared at him. "Alexander, nice to meet you in person."
Xander smirked at him. "You're my father's consort." The
crowd moaned. He snickered. "Yeah, I saw the election."
"Do you have anything you want to say?"
Xander smiled. "The next person who tries to make someone do my
job, and the job of my people, against their will I'm going to
destroy. Possibly down to the country level." A few
gasped. He smirked. "Yes, Dawn is like my little
sister. That's why we fought that battle together," he said
facetiously. "So drop it!" They cowered. He
smiled. "So, Stepdad, if he wants, I'm going home. He can
come for dinner as long as he's peaceful and not on a kick." He
disappeared. "He knows how to get there," he called back.
He nodded. "Yes, my stepson is very tough," he agreed. "And
in many ways I agree with him, though I would rather we know what sort
of rogue powers we may be facing." A comic book floated down and
he took it to look at. "That is an unusual source." He
tucked it away for later reading since it was probably important.
The banner had 'mutant registration' so he got the point. His
stepson was in no way subtle.
Xander appeared and the temple shook. "Stop it," he yelled. It stopped. "Thank you. Daddy's home, dear."
Bia looked up from her reading. "About time."
"They didn't tell me I had a Dawn-power infection or that the hellmouth
radiation had to be slightly replaced." She laughed. "Yeah,
but I was entertaining for them. How's Joyce?" He checked
then blinked and looked away. "No, I don't think I'm going to
"Pole dancing class?" Bia guessed. Xander nodded. "Dawn
suggested it. Said it was great cardio. I'm taking it in the
He kissed her on the head. "I hope that you find some nice being to wreck because of it, dear."
She laughed. "Me too."
He walked out back. "I'm back!" he bellowed. He knew Roque
and John had both set up listening bells to send anything critical to
them. He looked around. "Damn, Bia, were you that bored?"
"Yes. Callia helped me plant the gardens though."
"That's great." He looked around. No John or Roque. He
sighed and went to hug his Goddaughter. She had *grown*.
She was nearly four now. He sighed and cuddled her.
"Uncle Xander!" she squealed, hugging him back. "You're back? Are you really back?"
"I'm really back." He cuddled her.
A guard walked in and paused then backed out. "Welcome back, sir."
"Thanks." He smiled at her. "You did a great job helping Bia
in the gardens." She beamed and bounced around, dancing
some. He laughed. "You're so silly." She pounced him
for another hug.
Loki appeared. "I do not believe that we will have that
registration problem either." He handed the comic back. "I
am working on it, son."
"I can go blow shit up if it'll help."
Loki looked at his son. "Go find a whore," he complained then left. Stark was coming up the hall with Pepper.
Xander shook his head, looking at Callia. "He just doesn't understand."
She shook her head back. "Nope." She smiled and waved at her father. "He's really back!"
"I can see that." Tony grinned. "Have fun?"
"I hate meditating but my frustration gave them entertainment."
"Good. I guess." He took Callia back and Pepper helped
Xander stand up. He hugged her too. "Don't do that to me."
Xander kissed him hard and fast, making him moan. "Shut up.
I'd be the best thing you've ever had and you'd beg for more. Just
look what I did to Anya." He smirked and patted the baby on the
head, she was cackling. "Anyway, checking in. No emergencies
"No," Stark said.
"Dawn still good? Each time I look that way I see things that made
the Elders giggle their asses off. They really liked the strapped
on toys they were sparring with."
Stark shook his head. "Not in front of the baby."
"She didn't hear a word. I covered her ears. Mystically but still covered." He grinned. "My uncle?"
"Moping. Odin's nagging about the wife thing."
Xander rolled his eyes. "I'll help him. Pepper, anything I should know?"
"Not yet. Joyce is downstairs. They wanted to do an in-depth
MRI and it would take some sedation so we're doing it here.
"That's cool. How are she and Hylal?"
"She claims he walked around and had her mounted like a deer head."
Xander laughed. "Doesn't surprise me any. That's a mark of
claiming." He tweaked Callia's ear, getting swatted and laughed
at. "Let me go find others since they didn't respond to the I'm
back call." He smirked and disappeared. "See you later, baby
"Bye, Uncle Xander." She waved at the air then smiled at her Daddy. "Things are going to be better now."
"Yes they are. Because if anyone can protect your Aunt, it's him."
Pepper smiled. "Why don't you go pounce your mom?" She
cackled evilly and ran off to do that. "Aww, you're already
turning her into an evil genius. I'll have to teach her what
shopping is to calm her down."
"Please don't. You taught Dawn and she spends thousands when she
goes. Even with sales. I doubt Callia will find a sale until
she's a teenager. By then we'll be broke." He walked off.
"Could be. I saw the cutest couture shoe line for little girls. Even some heels."
"Hell no! You might find her stripper shoes like you found her aunt."
"No, I pulled anything of ours out of any event that was also using the
people who made kiddie lingerie as sponsors," she said. "Have you
seen their lines? It's almost as bad as Victoria's Secret for a
"Needing brain bleach," he noted, going into the lab. "Destroy
them if you can, Pepper, before my daughter gets bad ideas." He
closed the door. "Like bikinis that wreck minds, strap on dildos,
or even snipers," he muttered. Dawn had been so normal until they
had taken her. Maybe they could help her finish calming down.
Dawn looked at herself. "I'm glowing and I did not release any power."
Clint nodded. "You're very bright and we're in a city," he
noted. They had left Guatemala when some idiot had tried to
capture Dawn and Natasha. It had been a few months but they were
getting her used to the way things usually went in the field. She
sucked it in and sighed in pleasure. "Good?" he quipped.
"Yeah. Better than I got last night." He hit her arm.
She smirked. "Apparently I left some of it with Xander and he sent
it back." That got a nod. "So we're doing what?"
"I'm going to talk to someone. You're going to stay here," he reminded her.
"That's not really any fun."
"Yay." He got out of the car and locked her in, heading into the bar.
Dawn watched. Because that's what she was supposed to do.
She saw them go onto the roof to talk. She saw the gang show up to
talk to Clint in that bad way. He was firing on them but one shot
him. She flashed up there and shot two, taking his bow to get the
one that was farther away and had shot Clint. He died as he fell
off the building. She handed the bow back and leaned down.
"Healing spell before I thank you for the aiming lessons?"
"Please." He shot the person sneaking up behind her. "No touching her."
Dawn grinned. "Are you having that birthday caveman growl again?"
she quipped, working the healing spell. He moaned and relaxed,
nodding. "That's fine." She helped him up and they gathered
the weapons. "Now what, boss?"
"Now, we were turned on."
She smirked. "So that guy at the bar?"
"That guy at the bar."
"Cool!" She disappeared back down to beside the car, strolling off.
"Wait for me," he called.
"Yup, sure am." She found the local contact Spike had given her and smiled as she moved up beside him. "Hi, Clem."
"Dawn!" he said, looking around then at her. "Why are you
here?" She whispered in his ear, earning a whimper. "Back
room. Please don't do what your sister would?" he begged.
"I'm not going to hurt a single peaceful being that doesn't try to
attack me and my friends, Clem. I'm very much her sister in that
still." She tweaked a wrinkly fold of flesh. "The fact that
they helped kidnap one of my friends...." She smiled. He
nodded. "Thank you, Clem. Happy and prosperous games."
She blew a luck charm on his cheek instead of a kiss and walked
off. The wrinkly demon slumped into his barstool, drinking his
ale. He saw the other one walk in and hung his head, pointing in
Clint decided he'd ask about the wrinkly guy later. When they got
Natasha back. He found Dawn teasing one of the vampires to
distract him, and pickpocketing him. The vampire went up in a
spout of dust and Dawn dusted herself off as she got off the
chair. The two trying to hide Dawn's prey got out of her
way. They were just as dustable. Clint smirked at her.
"Thank you." She hauled him over. "Hi."
"Miss," he said, looking terrified.
"Do you know who I am?"
"No," he said cautiously. "We know who he is."
"And who is he usually found around these days?" she asked.
"You're the slayer's sister," one said.
"Yeah, I am." She smiled at their information source that had
turned on them. "And you've just pissed me the fuck off."
The demon tried to move. Dawn held him still. "Give me one
really good reason, that had better be an intelligence source or
information you have, that I should not kill you?"
"We heard they warped you."
She smiled. "I would've done this when Xander taught me. Or
Spike. Or hey, Dru used to send me letters explaining what kittens
were used for." The demon tried to go limp. "No, I think
not." She pulled out her hidden gun. "I've lost my
patience. Especially since I had to do a healing spell." He
stared, nodding. "Yeah. And by the way, Xander's back.
Since she was the one that *everyone* wanted him to take as a mate...."
"Oh, dear," he said, wetting himself. "She's with Ragna. That was his people. He runs this demon area."
"Where is he?" Clint asked. "And where is the Black Widow?"
"She's there," he said with a point at a hotel. "That's his stronghold."
Dawn let him go and walked off. "What's my damage level for the day set at?"
"Fuck if I care?" he admitted. "Nothing that would get us noticed,
like setting it on fire. The rest of the block would probably go
up too. This slum is all old wooden buildings."
"That's not a bad idea," she admitted, raising her hands. "But it
won't hurt anyone nice." She cast the illusion charm, making it as
real as she could. Demons ran screaming from the hotel.
They walked inside. Demons were running so hard that they were
nearly knocked over. Dawn took her gun back from the pickpocketing
demon. Clint got his too. And his knife and wallet.
Dawn found a trace of Natasha and headed that way. "Pool area,"
she said. "Nicely able to be cleaned up."
"As long as they haven't drowned her."
Dawn looked at him. "I will pull a Willow and it won't have to be a
problem like Phil's was." She pushed open the doors. She
was better at demon things because they were scared to death of her
"She'd hate that."
"Yay. She can nag me for a while."
"True, she'd probably cut you off too."
"Hey, I can beg," Dawn quipped. "We'd have her at least."
"True. I'd hate to be without her or you." Dawn
smiled. They walked in. Natasha was on some fairly thin
plexiglass above the deep end of the pool, tied to a chair. They
could hear the stuff cracking and the demon demanding answers about
Dawn cleared her throat. "Me?" She blasted him at the same
time Clint shot him. Then she carefully lifted Natasha up and off
the plexiglass. "Don't want to mess up your hair, dear." She
smiled at the smoking demon, who was still standing. "What did
you want with me?"
"You're weak now. That battle weakened you."
"While it's true that I did send a good bit of power out during the
battle, I had *three* sources of it. Which all recharge."
The demon's eyes went wide. She smiled. "I clearly didn't
use them all." She stabbed him and watched him dissolve, picking
up the few bits and pieces in the goo that could be used to bring him
back. They got tossed into the pool to dissolve. "Their
brains are like kidney stones," she quipped, walking back around.
"Okay, so we're officially not here any longer." They
"I say... We skip back to the hotel so we can pack and I take us
to Xander's temple." They nodded. She brought them back
there by teleporting. The packing took all of two minutes.
When they had to leave the house in Guatemala she had sent most of their
things to her house at Xander's temple complex. Now she sent the
rest of their things and them. They appeared. She relaxed
and rolled her head around, letting it pop. "Want me to dye my
"No," Natasha said. "It was not your fault you got spotted when we
had you teasing that arms dealer." She took a quick kiss.
"I heard you in the hallway and it would not happen."
Dawn smirked. "You sure?"
"Quite, because I would have to kill both of us." She stared at her. "One life at the most."
"Fine. Maybe." She walked off. "Bia, do we need to get groceries?"
"No, dear. The garden has plenty of vegetables," Bia called.
She came out to look at her. "You need to eat before your mother
"I'm not underweight, just a bit skinny." She waved a hand in the
'magic happened' way. Bia sighed and rolled her eyes.
"Xander back here yet?"
"Chasing John around Atlantis I think."
"Huh." She put up a mirror to look. They both giggled at
Xander trying to get John. It looked like fun. Finally
Xander teleported in front of John and hugged him. John hugged him
back but swatted him on the head. "We should have a family group
relaxing weekend," Dawn said.
Bia beamed. "We should. I can't find Clay."
Dawn switched it to find them. Tied up in a basement looking
place. Dawn considered it then changed the portal so it was
open. She casually threw over a light stick then a knife, then a
knife at the bad guy monolouging. "Why is it that bad guys always
yap?" she complained. "They talk more than I do while
drunk." She closed the portal.
"I don't think that's possible," Clint called. "Bia, is there still a grocery store at the bottom of the hill?"
Dawn smiled and changed her hair color to blonde, then put on something that padded her shape some. "Steaks?"
"Yes, please," Clint ordered with a grin. "I'll come."
"Sure. Natasha, wanna come with?"
"No. I'm going to relax by using this tub you got given. Pick me up some as well."
"Okay." They left, jogging down the hill. It was only three
miles each way and Phil would be happy that she could jog six
miles. He had asked when she had shown up for Tara's birth
party. It had been held safely inside Stark Towers because the
hospital had been raided by agents in case she showed up. Phil had
not been amused. SHIELD had not been amused when Phil had ordered
a strike team to come take them out. The people who had ordered
the original team screamed at Fury, who snorted and hung up on them then
chewed Coulson out for calling for that much help for a mere six
Coulson pointed out he was busy with Tara and a bit distracted by the
very graphic, disgusting version of the birth film starting. Fury
walked off shuddering and complaining about how many of his people had
given birth after that battle. Apparently SHIELD had a 'woo hoo,
we survived, let's celebrate without condoms' event on the hell carrier
on the way back home. And there hadn't even been mead. It
was truly a bad day when Fury had to fill in ninety-seven change of
status forms to 'parent' and list all the kids. In government
Clint stared at her. "You're thinking about all the paperwork again?" he guessed.
"Thinking back to the disgust that Fury had with all that change of status paperwork."
"I'm thinking most of the women on the ship just dove into a vat of sperm with the way it turned out."
"Not really. One guy is the father of five. Three singles and a set of twins."
"Not Coulson, right?"
"No. Not him. That mental midget in accounting."
He laughed. "How did he know what to do? He seemed like the dying a virgin sort."
"I have no idea. I was also thinking that they needed mead to make
it a better 'we're not using condoms because the world didn't end'
event." He cackled, nodding. They slowed down when they got
near the store, catching their breaths. It was a pretty fast
trip. They had backpacks to fill. Clint got beer. "We
have that bottle."
"I want a beer."
"Okay." She handed him a better brand. "That way we can
drink too." He handed her another six-pack of it. They
looked at steaks, finding a few very nice looking ones. A few
other things, and a diet soda for Dawn. Plus a giant candy bar as a
hosting gift. Xander was probably missing chocolate. They
checked out and Dawn paid; they packed the backpacks, then took off back
to the temple.
O'Neill pulled up beside them. "Get in." They got in. "You guys all right?"
"Just peachy keen," she quipped. "How's your end of the bad guy spectrum?"
"Quiet this week. I think Daniel's migraine scared the
universe." They passed through the barriers and Dawn dropped the
illusions on them. "How did I see through those?"
"I set it so people that didn't know and like us saw it."
"That's not a bad idea." He parked and they got out, taking their groceries to their house.
"Yes, chocolate!" Xander squealed. "And Dawn!"
"Get off, Mr. Grabby Hands. You lost your chance at my fine ass
when you broke my crush on you." He laughed and hugged her
tighter. She squeezed back. "Do not go ghostly again."
"I won't." He looked at Clint. "Thank you for helping and saving her."
"It was our pleasure." He smiled. "Good to be back?"
"Very good to be back. Now all I need is a good screwing.
It's been years." He walked off. "Bia, I need to find a
"You need to find someone," she agreed, taking a bit of his giant candy bar for herself. "Because I'm not doing it."
He kissed her. "I know." He sat down to eat his
chocolate. Stark appeared with Callia. With Tara, Phil, and
the babies. Without Joyce or Buffy. Stark also left
again. "Sure," he said happily. He looked at the
babies. "Hi, kids." They were napping. "They're
adorable but I do not want one."
Tara smiled. "They are adorable."
Dawn strolled over to get hugs. "Hi, little heathens who
scream." They snored at that naming. She grinned at
Tara. "Not babysitting."
"I know. You might teach them to like bikinis like you did your
niece." Dawn snickered but kissed and hugged her. "You're
"I'm just fine," she assured her. "The others are starting the
grill." Everyone piled out to get mellow and calm down.
Clay's team appeared thanks to Roque, who looked a bit sweaty.
"Morning," she called with a wave.
Roque glared. "I needed that shithead to bring down another one." Dawn pointed at Callia. "Hey, brat."
She stuck her tongue out. "I'm a good girl for good boys. You're a bad boy so you get bratty me."
"Yes I am," he said smugly. Natasha came out wearing something
comfortable. "How am I going to get around him to get intel?"
"Ask Clem? He's in the kitten poker hall."
"Who was he?" Clint asked.
"He's a very old friend from Sunnydale. He's a crossbreed and he
plays kitten poker for food sources." He just nodded. "He
did some of my babysitting with Spike. Clem's really peaceful and
nice unless you threaten what he likes. Then he kinda
inflates." Clint shuddered. "But he's a really sweet guy who
loves kitten poker a lot."
"Sure," he agreed.
"Clem is a nice guy," Xander agreed. "Is that for all of us?"
"Get your own," Dawn quipped. "We didn't get dinner last night."
"Fine." He got the steaks from the freezers and started up the bigger grill for them.
Bia walked up to Natasha, handing her some water. "Are you all right?" she asked quietly.
"I'm fine. A bit out of sorts."
Bia smiled. "Dawn in a cuddly mood either cheers you up or totally annoys you," she said quietly.
Natasha smiled. "Yes, it can. You still have to like her for it anyway."
"You do," she agreed. She got something for the pain in her lower
back. Dawn walked over and flipped her against a column, working
on the knots there. "Dawn."
"Hush. You've got knots."
Dawn leaned on her shoulder. "Is it not my job to fuss over you
two?" she asked quietly. "I think that's what the vote said was my
"It did," she agreed, smiling slightly. "We could go inside for this."
"We could but you'd end up missing dinner."
"I'm still not happy with that idea," she warned.
Dawn grinned. "I know. And I'm being a total bitch about it."
"You are but I do understand." Dawn finished working the knots out and she moaned as the pain stopped. "Thank you."
"Welcome. Who else would let me go tease?" She walked back to the grill and took her beer to sip.
Callia stared at her. "No drinkies."
Dawn looked down. "I'm allowed to have one or two. I'm not
going to get drunk, dear." Callia scowled. "I know you hate
it when your daddy does it. I'm not going to be like that.
This is my only one for now." Callia relaxed and went to talk to
Xander. She groaned across the bonds. They both smirked at
her for it.
Tony walked over. He had just come back. "The vote on the act to conscript people is next week," he said casually.
"How is it looking?" Clint asked.
"Not bad. Cap gave them one hell of a 'some people aren't
warriors' talk. I backed that up. Fury backed that up.
The commanders of all the armed forces backed that up. O'Neill
backed that up. Cap's was very well written for him I must say,"
he said with a smirk. "Pepper wrote it." Dawn waved a
hand. "You did?"
"I did. She was busy and tweaked it."
He smiled. "Then you did a really great job. He had some
senators crying." She smiled. "The Joint Chiefs all noted
that even if we had conscripted you, with what they did to you they'd
never allow you in the service. There was too much danger of a
hidden bit of programming coming up or you going psychotic when the
training started to control you. You might be a good weapon but
they didn't want to risk it." She smirked. "I think O'Neill
prompted that one because he asked for the notes on what we knew had
happened to you. I gave him the abridged version that was a lot
nicer than the real thing."
"I'm glad it helped," she said quietly. "And there's not going to be any reason for any more kidnaping jokes."
He smiled. "I'd hope not. It might teach my daughter bad
things." He poked her on the side, getting one back. "You
"I'm good. We learned how to handle any urges that may still come
up. We broke most of it and the rest Lady Mnemosyne pushed into a
tiny little box that won't even hold the pink bikini." Tony
swatted her. She smiled. "I'm fine. The remaining ones
give me urges now and then to go deal with people who are screwing with
"Want me to have someone make you a uniform?" Tony asked.
"No! I want to go back to being Dawn, Pepper's wonder assistant,
and sometimes slutty club girl." Clint walked off laughing.
"I'll use it to protect her and Callia more."
"They'd like that. Pepper was worried she'd lose you to Fury."
She shook her head. "No. Another huge apocalypse battle yes, but full time with SHIELD, no."
"Good. Pepper also said that you need to make an entrance to show you're not worried."
"I think that's tactically unsound," Natasha said. "It could draw too much attention and lead to attacks."
"We're already anticipating one. Joyce is being sued by her ex to
gain custodial rights over your things, Dawn," Tony said.
"Really? The cheating bastard is trying to claim shit he has no right to. Huh. When?"
"Tell me so I can pop in. I want to have words with my stepfather."
"Stepfather?" Tony asked.
"I didn't assume I was fully Buffy's sister. Especially since they made me of Buffy."
"We can test that assumption," Tony decided. "We'll pull some
blood tomorrow for a paternity test. He made Joyce take one over
Buffy during the divorce so the results are on file." He walked
off to call Pepper and tell her that.
"Hey, Stark," Clint called. "Did you ever get whoever leaked about Dawn's history?"
"It was one of the crackhead knights in an effort to discredit her."
Dawn looked at him. "I did not hear about this."
"We were hiding it from you in case you went and blew them up," Tony said with a grin. "Happy birthday."
"Do they know?"
"They do. Some reporter skank put him under a lie detector on
tv. Pepper had it spun that yes, it had, and yes you burned it out
during the battle. You had a mild touch of magic left and nothing
more." Dawn grinned. "So they know. No one believes."
"I can understand that. Denial is heavy until you're slapped with
demons and magic." Tony nodded. "We can use that," she
decided, looking at Natasha, who was the better field tactician.
"We can but you can kick him in the nuts." She had seen that mental flash of desire.
"Thanks." She grinned. Things got calmer and smoother.
They all relaxed. They ate, they joked, they relaxed. Dawn
decided to go for a swim in the pond. She heard someone jump in
and looked back but they were under water so she went back to her own
laps until someone pulled her against him. She knew instantly it
wasn't Clint, he was a bit heavier than this guy and had more
muscles. She kicked back and then stabbed him, making him
scream. "What did you think you were doing?" she asked.
Xander flashed in. "What happened?" He looked. "Tell me he didn't try to rape you," he said.
"He sure as hell was hard when he pulled me against him," Dawn
said. She stuck the knife back into her ponytail. It was the
only place she could carry it since she was skinny dipping. "I
thought we were allowed to skinny dip."
"You are," he agreed. "The posted rules say that the pond is
clothing optional." He helped her out while Clay got the
idiot. "Nice stabbing job. Not fatal but deep, good spot so
he can live and suffer." He hugged her. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. I'm not fragile."
"I know." He kissed her on the temple. "I'm still going to go stomp people."
"I'm sure you'll leave me some," she quipped with a grin.
He smirked back. "Maybe. Don't know yet." He looked
around. "Isn't he one of O'Neill's?" They all nodded.
"Someone get him?" Roque disappeared to grab him and bring him
back. "Your idiot tried to rape Dawn. Dawn stabbed him."
Jack O'Neill looked at the idiot. "I'm having Carter arrest
you." He called her. "Come get this moron. He tried to
rape a young woman here at the temple." He hung up. She got
beamed in with MP's and took him off. "Are you all right, Dawn?"
he asked, not looking at her. She was very pretty but naked and he
didn't need to see any naked girls, pretty or not.
"I'm okay. That's why I stabbed him."
"Good!" He smiled over her shoulder so he didn't have to stare. "I like that." He left them alone.
"If you can look at it in a museum, you can look at it in person," she called.
"I don't go to museums, Summers. That's for nerds like Daniel."
She snorted but got free. "Okay, I was swimming laps." The
others broke apart, leaving her to it. Clint stared at her.
"I knew he wasn't you."
"You put down your shield," he said quietly.
"I did," she agreed. "And I am now reminded why I shouldn't even
in safe places." He hugged her and let her get back to her
laps. "I got you new shirts."
"I saw." He went back up there. They were sleeveless
t-shirts so he didn't have to rip any off. That was nice of her
and they were Under-Armor so they were meant to go under sports uniforms
or other sweaty clothes. That was really nice and would fit
nicely under his uniform when he got it back. He looked at
Natasha, holding it up.
She smiled. "I got a similar present, only the bodysuit version."
"She does spoil us."
"She does." She moved closer. "We have an upcoming decision to make."
"I know. I have no idea if we're staying with her or not. And openly or not."
"She would let us hide."
"She would but it'd hurt her and us." She nodded. "I say we
see if she's moving into her old apartment since Joyce is in it."
"Joyce has said that if Dawn comes back she'll move. Dawn went on a
rant that she was not moving, that she had missed her, and Dawn was
going to feel abandoned and unloved if Joyce moved." Clint
grinned, that sounded like Dawn. "So we may have that
"The walls are pretty thin there," he said. "Though some nice
beams on the ceiling." He thought at Dawn, who said she liked that
apartment but she could let her mother keep it and find somewhere big
enough and safe enough, plus within commuting distance for them.
In fact she had an idea about that and could actually use it for class
credit in her last semester. He asked what but she was
evasive. He rolled his eyes. She said she'd tell them when
she got it together. She clinched off the link and went back to
Those two stared then shook their heads and went to shower and change
for bed. Dawn strolled in later, took a shower, and climbed
between them naked. They appreciated that about her. She
hated to sleep in clothes.
Dawn walked up to Tony the next day. "So," she said. "Did that guy pay?"
"He paid very hard. His whole government paid very hard."
She leaned over to hiss in his ear. He considered it.
"That's actually not a bad idea," he admitted. "New York could use
more security conscious places." Ideas were flowing through his
head. "You sure you want something that small?"
"Us, maybe Tara and Phil? He was saying last night he was thinking
about moving to a better school district in the city. That would
put him near the better prep schools."
"True," he agreed. "Or there's another idea." He smiled and patted her on the arm. "Let me think and plot."
"You sure? I can."
"I know. You've gotten very good grades in all your planning
classes." He walked off doing something on his phone to work on
ideas. Because that was an excellent one. They'd need really
great soundproofing though. Dawn still snored. So did
Barton. He could even include some extra security measures that
most secure places didn't have. Eight or ten levels. Full
apartments. With good closets because Dawn was still probably
fashionable. Or would be once she got back to work.
Nice bathroom because he remembered Dawn liked to soak. With a
good counter for bandage changes. Near Stark Tower would be good
too. He went to wander in the garden with his daughter. They
could head back tonight so she got some last minute Joyce time while
she was in the building. The elevator would have to be bigger
too. Banner kept getting antsy in the enclosed spaces
recently. So maybe a hospital sized one. That could be handy
for moving things too.
That night, a woman walked into Joyce's infirmary room as quietly as she
could. It was nearly impossible to get near this woman but she
had her orders. She quickly jabbed the needle into the body on the
bed, getting a yelp and thrown across the room.
Buffy got off the bed, pulling the needle out and tossing it aside. "What the frilly hell are you doing stabbing me?"
"You're not her," she said, backing up.
"No, that's my mom and she needed a cuddle." She hauled the woman
up to sneer at her. "Why were you going to stab my mother with a
needle?" The woman was panting and looking scared so Buffy threw
her down and followed to hold her down. She punched her full force
over her heart, making the woman gasp like she was dying. "I'd
tell me now, bitch. Who sent you to stab my mother?" She
heard alarms starting but didn't really care. The woman still
couldn't breathe so she grabbed her scalp and pulled. "I'm not
worried about your boring, flat hair dyed hair, lady, I'm going to rip
your skin right off your damn skull if you don't tell me." She was
pulling the handfuls of skin apart. Blood was starting to drip.
"Consortium," she whimpered. "They want to infect her again."
Buffy stood up and stomped on the woman's stomach. "Let's hear
more about that," she sneered. "Who is this Consortium?
Where are they? Why do they want my mother to be so sick again?
Tell me or I'll finish ripping your skin off by the handful!" She
heard a growl and looked up, staring at the big, green, angry looking
man of muscles standing there. "Huh," she said. Suddenly she
wasn't that angry. She was predicting how the fight was going to
go. "Mom, are you okay? Oh, shit, Callia, no! Back
"Shush, Mommy!" She poked the green guy until he looked at
her. "Uncle Grr Guy, quit! You're scaring Mommy."
He patted her. "Like Callia."
She smiled. "I like you too." She hopped up and he caught
her, letting her hug him. "But you can't scare Mommy or she won't
visit." Buffy sighed, sinking onto the bed. "Please?"
He shivered and slumped. "I promise you can beat up on the next
guy, Grr Guy. For right now I want to introduce you to Mommy and
Grandma. Mommy, this is Uncle Grr Guy. Sometimes he's Unclie
Bruce but not right now. Grr Guy, this is my Mommy Buffy and my
The hulk looked at them and held her tighter. "Won't hurt."
"I'd never hurt my own daughter," Buffy promised. "That's why I
don't see her that often." He shuddered. "Please don't scare
my mother? I'd hate to have to try to fight you." He
growled. She growled back. "You may be huge but I'm still a
"Mommy!" Callia shouted. "Stop it!" She looked at him.
"No growlies at Mommy. You'll make her leave. I want her
for a few days until Auntie Dawn can come back." He cuddled her,
stomping up the halls. "We need to go help Grandmommy. Bad
guys were there and Mommy had to stomp them."
"You safe," he told her.
She kissed him and grinned. "I'm very safe with you." He
shivered and started to shrink. "You're a great guy and you love
me because I'm adorable and smart." He nodded, hugging her
harder. She snuggled in. He finally shrank back down to
Uncle Bruce. "Hi, Uncle Bruce," she said quietly.
"Callia." He cuddled her. "What?"
"You heard someone threaten Mommy and Grandmommy and came to stomp them
flat. But Mommy already did that. It even smelled like they
had an accident."
Bruce walked her back. "I'm sorry," he told them. "I did not mean to scare you."
Buffy waved a hand. "I look like that in a face mask, only shorter
and more blonde." She smiled. "It's clear you love my
little girl." Guards rushed in now that the Hulk was calmed
down. "Guys, sorry, she might've had an accident. I didn't
mean to hit her that hard but she stabbed me with the needle
thingy." They called that in so the main infirmary could come move
"Here, sit," Joyce ordered, pushing over a chair. "She's nearly
asleep on you and you standing doesn't make a bit of sense." She
smiled. "Joyce Summers."
"Doctor Bruce Banner," he said, shaking her hand with a weak
smile. "Most people don't want to be near me after meeting him."
Buffy shrugged. "I'm a vampire slayer. I've seen weirder and
more dangerous than you that was a foot high and bit me." He
burst out laughing. "Really, I have. I punted it across a
highway too." She sat on the bed. Tony hurried in.
"She said the Consortium sent her to do the stabby thing with my Mom,
Stark. Who are they?"
"I don't know yet. I'll be sure to ask." He looked at her. "What did you do?"
"I punched her in the middle of her chest at full slayer strength for
stabbing me with the needle. Then I was going to rip her scalp off
but she was giving up information, which pissed me off so I stood up
and stomped on her stomach. She might've had an accident and I'll
totally clean it up."
He looked at her. "We have a cleaning crew, Buffy." The
doctors rushed in. "Buffy bruised her mightily like Thor had
slammed his hammer into her, Docs."
"Thor's hammer is pretty and shiny but I'm not sure if I hit harder or not," she admitted. "Never tested it."
He looked at her. "I have. He hits harder with the
hammer. It's the extra height and muscles for more force and more
"You just spoke Klingon again," she said dryly.
"Bigger people hit harder," Bruce said.
"Oh, that. Yeah, I get that." She nodded. The doctors picked the poor woman up.
"Needle?" Tony asked. Buffy pointed where she had thrown it.
He grabbed it for testing. "I'll be right back. Want me to
put Callia down, Bruce?"
"She's fine. She snores less than Dawn used to. It's kind of
comforting." Tony grinned as he walked out. He smiled at
Joyce. "You have a very special granddaughter. She's always
thought the other guy was a huge cuddle toy, even when he was growling.
I'm pretty sure he considers her like a comfort snuggle sometimes."
She smiled. "That's a fine thing, Bruce. She's very
special. She's my only granddaughter," she said, looking at Buffy.
"No," she said, shaking her head. "Uh-uh. Nope. None
before marriage and I haven't known Hylal that long." He appeared
and looked confused. "I didn't summon."
"I believe your sister did." He looked at her. "You look upset. What has happened?"
"Someone wanted to stab Mom with a needle and got me."
He pulled her up to look her over. "Are you all right? I will smite that person."
She patted him on the chest. "I did a pretty good job of smiting her."
He calmed down and sat down, putting her in his lap. "It is a
fitting seat for you," he said at her protesting huff. Bruce was
trying not to smile. He nodded at him. "Scholar."
"Bruce Banner," he said, nodding politely. "Have you met Callia, Buffy's daughter?"
"I have. She is a winsome child that makes my wish my boys were
girls at times. Though I know what hellions I raised so they might
have ruined Asgard." Bruce snickered. "You laugh but mine
are very strong warriors."
Buffy patted him on the chest. "I like the boys. They're sweet and don't tell me how short I am."
He smiled. "You may not be the size of an Asgardian woman, Buffy,
but you have the heart and soul of one of us." He kissed her.
"Not in front of Mom," she hissed.
"I don't mind," Joyce said, waving a hand at them. "Hylal."
He looked at her. "I give you permission to court my daughter but
there are rules." He nodded once, staring at her. "You have
to learn how to let her do some things on her own and to lead you to
help her, not take over for her. It frustrates a woman when they
always get pushed back to have things handled for them. Also, no
more than sex once a day." He pouted. "It can be four or
five hours but you're wearing her out for patrol and I will not have my
daughter die because she had too much sex and a vampire ate her."
"Aye, I can do that."
"You might also let her show you what she really likes. Make it
more of a union than you mounting and claiming her," Joyce said, staring
at him. "I heard about the missionaries at the door."
"Missionaries? What missionaries?" Buffy asked, looking up at her boyfriend.
"That sort of thing isn't good for a human woman. We like to be
involved and make it good for both of us." He blushed but ducked
his head and nodded. "And lastly, you have to vow to protect my
grandchild like she was already your own."
"Aye, she is my stepdaughter and I treat her as such."
"No, no step. She is your daughter," Joyce told him.
He smiled. "She will be my daughter upon our families joining."
"Good. Then I won't kill you. Unless you hurt her or hit her
or something. Then, I will make sure that whatever hounds of hell
I feed you to after I gut you will take *forever* to finish you off."
He shivered but nodded. "As is proper for a mother of a wounded
daughter. I will accept and protect them both for you."
Joyce smiled. "Good. Maybe you two should go on a date tonight?"
"A date?" he asked, looking confused.
"It's where a couple goes out and does things other than have sex,"
Buffy said. "Like a picnic before patrol or a movie maybe?"
"I could like such." He smiled and pushed her hair back over her
shoulder. "We will make you as pretty as your sister is and go out
to be seen and do things."
"I'm very pretty."
He kissed her. "Even in the men's pants you are wearing you are,
but I wish to see you in something that makes you smile because you put
it on." She blushed but nodded, leaning against his chest.
He looked around the room then at Joyce. "I know you have been
cursed to sickness. Are you ill again?"
"No. They wanted to do some tests to make sure. I think
that's why they were going to stab me with the needle that hit my
daughter." Hylal picked her up to look at her, taking her shirt
off her. "Not in front of us. I saw enough of her naked when
I used to change her diapers, Hylal." He got up and carried her
into the bathroom. She yelped but that was fine.
Bruce smiled. "You are a very fierce mother."
She grinned. "I had to be. Buffy used to go on patrol in booty skirts."
"I heard from Dawn." He handed Callia over. "I'll let you rest."
Joyce stared at him. "You know, he's not that bad."
He tried not to flinch. "He is. He really is."
"Any creature can panic when they're being attacked. It also conditions
them to being attacked and having to protect themselves," she said
quietly. He stared at her. "Things would probably be
different if they hadn't attacked you, Bruce."
"Even that first time, before they found me, it was pretty bad."
"You were probably in pain, confused, and not sure why you were in a
lab. Werewolves have the same transition problem from what I
remember of the one our group held." He slumped a bit. She
smiled and patted his hand. "You're clearly learning that just
attacking isn't the answer. Or else she wouldn't calm you down."
"I... Maybe," he admitted, smiling slightly. "I'd still rather no one had to see him."
"We all have a primal nature. Some of us are just closer to
it. Did Xander ever tell you how he got possessed by a hyena on a
school trip to the zoo?"
"No, he hadn't." He sat back down. Joyce told him and he got
it, he really did, and it wasn't quite the same but he did get the
point. She squeezed his hand and he realized she didn't mind
touching him. That was almost a first. Even Tony gave him
some room after he changed back. "Thank you."
"Sometimes the most healing things are the simplest." She smiled. "I'm sure you've got a lab full of work."
"No, not really. I was doing something because I couldn't sleep
when I heard the alarm." He shifted. The bathroom door
thumped and something ceramic sounding crashed. "I think they
broke the sink."
"If so, water's not coming out," she said. "Maybe the tub?"
"Maybe," he said, calling Stark to tell him that.
Tony walked in and stared at the door. "I know she's hell on the
back, Hylal, but try not to destroy the bathroom making her let you
go." He walked off shaking his head. He had spotted the hand
holding and it was sweet. Bruce needed a good woman in his life
and Joyce needed someone to fuss over instead of worrying about her
health. Joyce was the sweet sort that could help Bruce calm
down. He ran into Coulson in the hallway. "Aren't you in
Colorado? Or are you his clone?"
"Tara's napping and you have thirty seconds to convince me that Banner
going full out had a really good reason." They both looked that
way at the new crash. "He's in Joyce's room?" he demanded.
Tony stopped him from moving. "That's Buffy and Hylal in the
bathroom. Callia got Bruce calmed down after Buffy beat the crap,
literally since there was a foot of intestine that got shoved out of her
body, out of the person who stabbed her with a needle that comes up
with the same serum that got Joyce before."
"Shit," Coulson muttered. "Is the attacker still alive?"
"Begging for death. All Buffy got was the name Consortium."
Another crash and the sound of Joyce giggling. He called for
maintenance robots to go clean up and fix the bathroom.
Hylal came out carrying Buffy.
"Put me down, please?" Buffy begged. "I'm not a sack of whatever
vegetable you guys eat since you said potatoes don't grow there and no
one will respect me if you carry me like this."
Hylal stared at the duo. "Stark, is there any way to see if that
foul substance has infected her the same way it did her mother?"
He put her down carefully. "I would not wish her to be that cursed
"I'm not sure I'm strong enough to go through that," Buffy said quietly. "Mom's a lot stronger than I am some days."
Tony looked at her. "You'd get through it the same way your mother
did, because her daughter needs her to," he said bluntly. She
nodded that was true. "And Dawn would kick your ass. She's
actually pretty good at it now." Coulson nodded that was
true. "Secondly, we're scanning her in the morning, Hylal, and
then once each week for a month."
"I can make sure she comes." Buffy blushed. He patted her on
the head with a smile. "Her mother has granted me permission to
"Next time, use something less breakable than the bathroom," Tony said dryly. "Like a bed. A concrete pylon."
"Broke one," Buffy muttered.
"I don't need to know," Tony assured her.
"Did you tell Tara that story yet?" Coulson asked. "She's had a cranky son keeping her up for the last few days."
Buffy blushed brighter red, shaking her head. "I'd never tell Tara
sex stuff. She doesn't like to hear about sex stuff. I'm
not even sure how she told the doctor she wanted babies put in her since
she hates talking about the sex stuff so much."
"She didn't," Phil said with a smirk. Buffy squeaked and leaned back against her boyfriend.
"Nor do I need to know that," Tony assured him.
"The journal that gives advice to witches said it was a good idea.
We had gotten it from Loki so she made sure first." Tony stared
at him. "That night Dawn and Xander had went to Asgard and Dawn
had brought back dinner."
"A proper Valhallan dinner has mead," Hylal said.
"Yes it did. Warmed, thinned down, and spiced," Coulson said.
Hylal smiled. "Then it was a good dinner." He walked Buffy off. "We will retire to her room."
"Second floor, room fifteen," Tony said. That got a smile and
Buffy trying to hide inside his shirt with him. "The bed's really
hard down there," he said once they were in the elevator. "Callia
said she can't even jump on it it's so hard."
Coulson shook his head. "They'll probably soften it up some." He went to check on Joyce. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," she promised with a smile. "How are the babies?"
"He's fussing up a storm. All night every night."
"Make Dawn or someone babysit and give her a night off, Phil."
"I'm going to." He nodded at Banner. "Thank you. Tara would cry if she got hurt again."
"I like Tara, she's a very sweet young woman."
Phil nodded. "She is most of the time. Though there's still
an agent who thinks he's a pony and one who thinks he's a cat thanks to
them fighting over something and nearly hitting her." He left to
make a report and went back to the temple. He found the fussy son
in mom's arms and took him to look at. "If you're a good boy I'll
let yo go suck up to Bia or Dawn." He put him in with his sister,
which calmed him down most of the time, grabbed the diaper bag, and
walked him off. "Bia?" She looked over and cooed. "We
need a night off. He will not quit."
"That's fine. I can babysit the adorable things." She took them to coo over.
"Thank you." He went back to their suite and pulled her into a hug. "Bia's babysitting."
"I didn't want to impose," she said.
He kissed her on the tip of her nose. "She thinks he's
adorable." She grinned. "Now, you need to rest. Do you
want to cuddle?"
"I...Phil, you know I can't." He brushed her cheek with his
fingers, and her eyes widened. He smirked. "Then..."
"I guess it's not the same." He took her to put her down for a
nap, crawling in behind her to hold her. It only took a few
minutes for her to finally fall asleep. He laid there considering
options. He had a few and he needed to make a few decisions.
Especially if Tara didn't want another baby soon. Even he had some
Dawn woke with a stretch and a moan, curling up in the other direction
to hold Natasha. Who wiggled free. "Hey. Mean."
"Dawn," a familiar voice called.
Dawn sat up and blinked, staring at the people staring at her. She
glared at Fury. "If you teleported me I'm killing you. If I
did it, I'm sorry." She disappeared back to the temple. She
trudged into her bedroom and flopped back down, cuddling up to Natasha,
who still wiggled. "Maybe I'm sleep teleporting."
"You're what?" Dawn mumbled what had happened. "No, I don't
think you are." Dawn smiled and snuggled in better. "I need
to go to the bathroom." Dawn let her go. She went and came
back out. "It's six."
Dawn blinked at her. "This is vacation time."
"It's not," she said with a smile.
"It's debriefing time," Clint noted. "Which is part vacation so we
can sleep in until at least seven. I'm sure she'll be woken up
for a jog with her 'big brother'."
Dawn reached back to pinch him. "He's cuddling Tara so they stay
asleep." She pulled Natasha back down. "Be decadent and
sleep in for once. I'll reward it and make you feel less
nasty." She curled up around her again. Clint got her
back. They could help cure any PMS. All it took was a
thumb. Anya had been right, orgasms cured cramps.
Natasha huffed but laid there and accepted it. She had to, they
had her pinned and she didn't want to hurt them to get free.
Dawn got texted that the trial was on. She appeared beside her
mother, sitting down. The judge stared at her. She
smiled. "I think I should have a say about my own assets,
especially since I'm nineteen and I've done a pretty good job of
managing them while I'm escaping idiots."
"We don't want a security situation to happen, Miss Summers."
She smiled. "If it starts, I'll leave. But before then
there's a few things I want to say to my stepfather." She handed
the bailiff an envelope. "Paternity test."
The judge looked it over. "I need to ask a delicate question. Is that news story that you were created true?"
"Yes, it is." A few people in the courtroom gasped. She
glared and they shrank back. "It's never mattered to my mother, my
sister, my sister's friends - who are all like a family to me, anyone
I've dated who's known, my boss and friends at work who are aware,
though we do not talk about as it is a security risk."
"I see." He considered it. "So he's actually had no contact with you?"
"No," she snorted. "He's also had no contact with his actual
daughter either outside of one awkward summer custody visit where he
bought her things to make up for dating someone her age. In front
of her." The judge winced. "In fact, if you look back at
their divorce filings, my mother found over ten different affairs when
she went looking. I'm not saying my mother's perfect, because
that's where I learned to nag from, but she's not a cheating bitch who
hates that she had kids because it meant she couldn't be a swinger."
"Language please," the judge said.
"I'll try but a few things really peeve me to no end, including liars."
"I understand. I don't much like them myself." He looked at
the father, handing over the paternity test. "I'd say that you had
not a lot of leg to stand on."
"I don't see how she came from that," he said with a sneer at Joyce.
"Well, first of all, Mom's had two different bouts of brain cancer,"
Dawn said dryly, standing up to face him. "Yeah, the hair's a
little thin, a bit more gray, she lost a lot of weight and is working to
get healthy again. What would you have done if she had died and
left us alone?" He glared. She stared back. "Let me
guess, you would've hidden from all responsibility, like usual?"
She smiled at Bruce and pointed at his briefcase. "May I?"
He opened it for her and she pulled out the files she had found.
"Hmm, let's see. Two baby sons and a baby daughter, which you
don't pay for.
"One might actually be HIV positive, born that way from his mother," she
said, looking at him. She handed that to the bailiff. "I
see that you've been fired because even Eastern Europe won't ignore how
much of a problem you philandering around the office caused when you got
moved from Spain. Especially when, it looks like the HIV positive
baby was your supervisor's teenage daughter." She handed that
file to the bailiff. "And oh, look at this. You're in league
with the people who kidnaped me." She handed that over as
well. Joyce was choking. People in the audience were
starting to talk.
"Enough!" the judge ordered, banging his gavel. He read over the
files. "I do see these facts. How did you uncover them?"
"Google. Easily obtainable at any library terminal in most of the US, Your Honor. I didn't have to look very far."
He nodded, looking them over again. "I don't see how you'd be a
fit parent to her anyway," he said. "Even if she was
underage. Miss Summers, who looks out for your affairs while
you're fighting the problems going on?"
"I do. I have an investment guy who helps me but I can internet
with the best assistants ever." She smiled. Her father
yelled and lunged at her so she kicked him in the balls. "I've
wanted to do that since Mom walked in and found you with an underage
redhead in their marriage bed. She probably would've done you
anytime you asked but *no*, you had to cheat. That's probably why
Buffy's not in a total relationship. Why I'm seriously touchy
about even the little white lies that get told between lovers." He
got up slowly, staring at her. "Then again, you're pretty
pathetic. Look how you treated your actual daughter when her
calling came at her. You put her in a hospital."
"Vampires aren't real," he sneered.
"And yet, CNN was talking to a few last night at a party that had broken out too far."
"I can call up footage," Bruce said. "If I can have my phone back."
"I saw that and her other daughter doing her appointed duty," the judge admitted. "Who was that big man with her?"
"Hylal. Alexander introduced them." Dawn grinned.
"He's an Asgard and a warrior. They understand each other *very*
well. He's got three sons and she's got her daughter so it works
"It should," he agreed. He looked at Hank Summers. "I
believe your time is up, sir, and you have lost. Please vacate my
courtroom before I let her kick you again." He stomped off.
She held up a hand. "Unless all that stops, I'll continue to be a
roving assistant sort. I'm not the snazzy spandex wearing girl a
few others are to quote me a few years back, when I was a lot more
normal." She looked at her mother and grinned. "Good!"
She stared at Bruce. "Very good." She grinned and left.
Joyce patted his hand and smiled. "My daughter is very perceptive," she said quietly.
"She is. I've always liked that about Dawn, that and she'll call
you on it if you're lying to yourself over things." They packed
The judge banged his gavel. "The suit is thrown out because it has
no merit." He walked off, letting the files be taken for
evidence. Maybe someone would get him for child support.
Dawn appeared that night in her temple, looking at the two worried people. "The vote went well."
"It leaves a decision," Clint said.
"I had every plan of buying a tiny, three floor apartment building and
securing the hell out of it. Giving Cap one of the
apartments." She sat down. "Tony said he wanted the pleasure
of doing that." They stared. She smiled. "I have no
say in what you plan on doing with the offer. I'll pout a whole
lot if you just visit very rarely but we all know I'm like that."
She relaxed. "And I did get to kick my father in the nuts."
"Good," Clint said. "Saved me from shooting an explosive arrow
into them." He looked at Natasha. Then at her. "I'm
not the hiding it sort."
Dawn grinned. "I like that about you." He smirked
back. "You're welcome to come and go, get your own there if you
want, anything you want."
"We'll see what he comes up with," Natasha decided. "If we go back are you moving in with your mother?"
"For a few days so I can fuss over her. You can join me there
too. Not like Mom doesn't realize and she's kinda having the
sweet, hand-holding thing going on." She grinned. "I'd never
want to ruin that for her."
"With who?" Natasha asked.
"Bruce." Clint giggled. "They're sweet. Really sweet and I think she told him she's not scared of him."
"She could use someone to fuss over her and he could use someone to fuss
over him," Natasha said, nodding. "They're a good match."
Dawn grinned and nodded. "We can go to a hotel."
"We can do that," Dawn agreed. "And did I mention I sent in my last
paper for classes yesterday?" They grinned. "Which means I
think we need a celebration."
"Not tonight," Natasha complained.
Dawn shrugged. "Okay. Grades come out in a week." She smirked evilly.
"I sank that crocheted bikini," Clint told her.
"I know, but I rescued it. It's nicely in a special keepsake
box." He groaned. "I found the dress that she used to have
too and bought us two. One in her favorite black and one for me in
green." Clint stared at her. She grinned. "That night
I plan on using my enormous gifts to go to Thailand and have dinner in
celebration." He moaned. Natasha moaned too. She
grinned. "We can all dress up and have dinner if you want."
"We can do that," Clint decided, looking at her.
"Barring another battle," she agreed.
"There had better not be a way to ruin my celebration," she said dryly.
"We'll do it the next night," he assured her.
"If you're not in the infirmary."
"True. Then we'll do it when we're out." She nodded they
could do that. She also got up and got something, taking Natasha
into the bedroom. He leaned back, watching the closed door.
Natasha moaned and then yelped but she came out looking happier.
Dawn dropped a tiny cube in the fireplace and lit it. It burned
quickly. She sat back down. "What was that?"
"Mechanical vampire box. Sucks out blood clots and stuff," Dawn
said. Clint gaped in horror. She smiled. "Works well
on periods too."
"Wow. Who designed that?"
"Tony when was fifteen and his girlfriend of the time kept hitting it at
the wrong time." Natasha shook her head but she was
smiling. "Swim in the tub or the lake?"
"Swim in the tub," Clint said. "So I don't have to damage any more idiots."
"I damaged the last one," Dawn said.
"No, there was one this morning that was all but rubbing himself off
because you were wandering around in one of my new shirts and a pair of
"Where was he?"
"Down the hill in a tree." Dawn rolled her eyes. "He did not
like falling and spraining his good wrist when the branch he was
standing on split."
Natasha giggled. "I heard him whining you were mean and wondered why."
"Because I am." He grinned. The ladies smirked back.
"Tub?" They got up and hauled him up, taking him in there.
Yeah, that worked for them. It worked very well for them.
Stark finally got the news that Dawn was free and clear. He and
Pepper celebrated and called her. She squealed and promised to be
back in two days since it was a Friday. "Small caveat," Tony
said. "The planned building is about three-quarters
finished. Yours is one of the ones that's not finished.
There's one empty one upstairs if Barton wants it, right above
yours. Or the lovely Natasha if she wants it."
"I think we were going to do that anyway," Clint said. Clearly she
had it on speaker. "Just because of SHIELD rules."
"That's fine, just letting you guys know. It'll probably be a
month before hers is done. Each apartment's tailored a bit to the
person who I planned on living there. Agent Romanoff's apartment
is below Dawn's. Yours is above her, Barton. You can pick up
the keys later."
"Thanks, Stark. Leases?"
"Waiting in her inbox," Pepper said with a smile. "Dawn, please
come in wearing something more covering than that olive drab dress I saw
you wearing the other day?"
"I still have almost all my old clothes, Pepper."
"Wonderful. Do they fit?"
"Yup. A few shirts are a bit tight due to the muscle issue but otherwise they all fit."
"Good. I'll be glad to have you back. The intern I've been
using is kind of sweet and nice and has a good idea now and then, but
she hates to bother people."
Dawn giggled. "That was never me, no. Is Doctor Banner moving into one?"
"He has one if he wants," Tony said. "I haven't asked him. I can do that tomorrow."
"Cool. See you guys Monday."
"Where are you?" Pepper asked.
"Um, halfway up a mountain?"
"I don't want to know. When you come back, you're an assistant unless there's an emergency."
"Of course I am. Otherwise I'd be a bad influence on my niece. Laters all." She hung up.
Pepper hung up her phone, looking at Tony. "It might be a hard transition."
"From what I've heard since they left Guatemala? Maybe.
Being our assistant is still easier than dick teasing arms dealers."
"Oh, she didn't," Pepper sighed.
"She did. At least twice in fact because they were so good they
were noted, including that one ended in a rescue attempt and her being
mugged by Natasha. And I think they took care of the Russian mob
problem too so maybe it'll be an easier time."
"Maybe," she said, clinking glasses with him again. He took a kiss and smiled. "How did you get Fury to agree?"
"It got Coulson somewhere he was closer even with the twins. Which
meant he might not have to poison his neighbors with his new
skills. They were objecting to having the twins there. He
nearly shot them one night. NYPD told him to find a babysitter and
get some rest." She laughed. "Yeah, Callia babysat that
night. That's why she started to ask JARVIS how she'd get a baby
brother or sister before she stole his. It also got all the
Avengers out of HQ because Fury's thinking about giving up the lease and
moving everything to the hell carrier."
"That's dumb. It can be attacked, and has been attacked. They need a safe fall back."
"He's going to move it to a special building he's having planned."
He sipped his champagne. "It also meant he didn't have to put up
with conjugal visits if they're still serious. Apparently Dawn
heard he was worried about her skill set now so she showed up one night
in his office to remind him she was our assistant and not Natasha
lite. He said they'd see. She offered to kick his ass and
they did get into a pretty nasty sparring match."
"Is that why he redid his office?" she asked, sipping her own champagne. Tony nodded with a smirk. "Good for her."
"She ended it by turning him into a tiny little black ferret with an eye
patch. Which then went to visit Coulson's twins with Tara.
Apparently he decided she was mean enough to be part of SHIELD but she
was slightly too evil so we could watch each other for evil movements
toward wanting to rule the world." He finished his drink and
looked out in the hall when he saw a shadow. "Banner," he
called. He came to the doorway. "Two things. Well,
probably more but you know. Tell Joyce Dawn starts work again on
Monday. Right now they're halfway up a mountain somewhere together
I guess. The other thing is do you want an apartment in the new
"Dawn's idea. She was going to take a tiny building and turn it
into a totally secure apartments for them and others like us who need
it." Bruce smiled. "So I took it over on her and made it
larger to accommodate the whole team if they wanted it. Cap's
there already. The rest are in the works. Yours is on the
top floor so you have extra roaming room for when you feel closed
in. That'd also mean you could quit sleeping at your desk."
He smiled. "I'll ask Joyce her opinion. How much is it?"
"I put the leases in everyone's inbox earlier," Pepper said with a
smile. "It's a totally blank slate and decorating is all up to
you. SHIELD pays for part of the rent."
"Means we don't have to stink up Fury's new HQ when he gets it built unless there's a problem," Tony said with a grin.
"I'll talk with her tonight. Thanks, Tony." He left, he had a
date tonight. It was his first one in a long time.
They shared a smile and Tony snuck another kiss then got up. "I
guess I should go back to fixing things that aren't broken." He
"I'll see you tomorrow," Pepper promised, finishing her champagne and
getting things ready for Monday. Having Dawn back was going to
make a huge difference in a positive manner.
Dawn walked out of Clint's apartment that Sunday night and went up a
floor, picking the locks and walking in. "Aww, who's the little
fussy man," she cooed. She took him to hold. "What's
wrong? Do you have gassy bellies or is it some other
problem?" She checked him and did a slight healing. He
belched like he was inflating sails on a ship. "You sound like
your mommy the one time I got her drunk on beer," she cooed with a
grin. "Don't worry, you come by that naturally. She does it
too even though she doesn't like to admit it." She patted him on
the back. "How's that? Think you can sleep now? You
can even nap next to your sister."
"The pediatrician said to try to separate them," Phil said.
She smiled. "Yeah, sure." She put him down in her crib and
he cooed, waving at his sister. She waved back. They fell
asleep with some humming from the auntie and some stomach rubbing.
Phil relaxed. "Thank you. How did you hear?"
"Your kitchen window's open." She gave him a hug. "See you in the morning."
"Tell them they're meeting with Director Fury first thing."
She winked. "I'm sure they'll be able to make it." She strolled off.
Phil relocked the door and came in to look at them. "I wonder if you can give a baby Gas-X."
"Yes, they make baby simethicone drops," Tara said. "I've been giving him some."
"Maybe they really wanted the aunt and godmother," he said. She
pinched him and went back to her bed. Coulson went to his and it
was quiet, which was great. Some junior agents had laughed at him
napping at his desk until the other new parents at SHIELD had beaten
them. Fury had declared all the new parents had a nap day and the
kids could go to a daycare they approved of. It meant Fury could
cut the daycare out and just subsidize the parents using one
off-site. It had helped ease a few tensions once the parents got
used to it.
Dawn walked in Monday morning, hair up, pencil skirt and blouse, heels,
stockings. Sunglasses. Pepper stared at her. "Fell."
"If that 'fell' was because you were sparring and got an elbow in the
eye, duck better. If it's because someone beat you I'm killing
them," she said bluntly.
"No, I already made him damn sorry." She smiled.
"Subway." Pepper rolled her eyes. "All right, here's your
inter-office mail, the reports from everyone who was pouting that I was
"Why are they pouting?"
"They think Dora's really sweet."
"She is but she wilts when Tony stares at her."
Dawn nodded. "He is a very strong personality." She
smiled. "Come in, Dora. I'm Dawn." She shook her
hand. "Want me to take over Stark Sitting duties?"
"Please." She smiled. "You and Dora can work out how to split that."
"You mean in the lab?" Dora demanded.
Dawn nodded. "Yeah. Sometimes you have to go wake him up if
he's sleeping in there or Callia if she's sleeping in there with him
working. Sometimes it's to remind him of meetings. A few
times I've had to bring him really bad news in there and lived to
tell." She smiled. "He's not a mean guy. He's a bit
sarcastic now and then but not mean."
"No, he's not. He held my hair once as I vomited up my toenails
thanks to food poisoning." Dora shuddered. She looked at
Pepper. "Remind me I need to get a new passport? Mine's
"You can do that through our travel office."
"They're all in Bermuda and their emails are bouncing." Pepper
smiled. "Anyway. Looks like your schedule is full of whining
board members." She showed her. "I'm guessing you're going
to hear a lot of 'how can you hire *her* back' remarks and the few that
still think that Tony is making me his perfect spouse."
"Probably," she sighed. "Trip to Amsterdam again next week."
Dawn smiled. "If I can get a new passport that's not a fake."
Pepper grinned. "If not, take Dora and I'll pop around." She
widened her eyes. "Hopefully without giant robots this time."
"The trio missed you a lot."
"I saw and I sent them hot pepper candy from down there." She
smirked. "Let me go wake up the boss." She strolled
off. "Morning, Stella, Sheila."
"Morning, Dawn," they said, staring at her. "Wow."
Dawn grinned back at them. "It was in the closet. Not like I
really wore them." She got onto the elevator and went down to the
labs. She tried her old log in. Nothing. She tried
the one she had hacked and gave herself, that opened the lab door but a
slight moaning from JARVIS meant he had caught her. "Well, I need
it," she told the AI.
"I'll make it your official one, Dawn."
"Thanks." She walked over to the workbench, picking up a
wrench. Tony was under the suit and groping for something so she
handed the wrench down.
He looked then up at her. "Laser cutter?" She kicked it closer. "Thanks. Did you meet Dora?"
"I did. She thinks you're scary."
"Only when I'm in the suit," he said dryly.
"Even then you're not that scary. Did you ever meet a yeti?" She smiled at his odd look.
"I don't want to know. What's my schedule like today, Dawn?"
She called it up. It looked blank. "That can't be
right." She resynched it and found his phone to make sure.
That got synched in too. It added something the next day.
"So either I have a day off or there's an emergency coming."
"The whole board is going to descend on Pepper for the next few hours. Does that count?"
"Possibly." He finished up and climbed out from under the
suit. The removing station fixed itself and it was good. She
helped him up. "I should probably hide."
"Then I have nothing to do all day." She smiled and waved at
someone staring at them. "We're not scary today." The
assistant in HR ran off. "Okay, maybe you need a shower," she told
him, earning a punch on the arm and him heading off to the toolbox
area. "If you get me greasy I have to change and I haven't
"If you wear something like that pink dress again I'm going to give you to someone as a consort."
"I doubt that'll fly," she said dryly.
"Where are they?"
"Fine. Eating lunch?"
"They might be taking tests to make sure they haven't lost any
skills. That might be hampered since the yeti really wanted
Natasha and bruised Clint's non firing arm. Apparently redheaded
yeti women are rare."
He shook his head. "I do not want to know." She giggled and
came over to take his coffee cup to wash and then refill. "Thank
you. McKay's around here somewhere. Make sure he doesn't
"I can do that." She walked out, heading to the other labs.
They had a lot of geeks in their own worlds. She paused to make
coffee, clean out coffee cups, take update reports, and then found McKay
in Banner's lab. She used her new code to get in and walked
over. "Hi, Stepdaddy." He jumped and stared at her.
She smiled. "What?"
"Not yet I'm not."
She pinched him on the cheek. "Nothing is more stubborn than a
Summers woman. Look at how stubborn Callia is and she's only half
of one." He smiled. She hugged Rodney to make him quit
tinkering. "If you haven't eaten in the last twelve hours Sheppard
told me to hogtie you and carry you to the caf that way." He
rolled his eyes. She took the tools and found the glucometer she
carried whenever he was around. She stuck him quickly then gave
him back his hand. "You're at sixty-three, Doc." She showed
him. "At least get a donut?"
"Get me something without nuts or citrus."
"Bruce?" she asked, moving to the phone.
"Please. We've been up all night."
"Sure." She tossed the strip and lancet in the biohazard bag since
it was next to the phone. "Caf, it's Dawn up in the labs.
Doctors McKay and Banner have been tinkering all night again.
McKay has allergies to nuts and citrus, even being near the stuff can
kill him. Thank you. That'd be great and I've made coffee up
here. I can do that." She hung up. Rodney was heading
for the coffee pot. Dawn turned it on and he smirked. "I am
the wonder assistant sort." She smiled. "Ten minutes.
They'll call to come get it." She looked at them. "Anything
to pass on in the report writing sense, Docs?"
"No," they said. "Just tinkering."
"Okay. Let me go deliver these and then I'll be back with
food." She walked out, handing them to Tony as she walked past
him. "Banner and McKay are tinkering."
"Bombs again?" he asked.
"No, looked more like servo motors."
"That might be interesting."
Dawn went down to the caf and got muffins for Tony. They
smiled. "The boss went to help them tinker." Another covered
plate got given and a plate of muffins. "Thanks. Which is
"McKay's has the orange lid. The muffins do have citrus."
"Okay. Thank you." She carried it up there, using a touch of
magic to make it lighter and steadier. She walked in and looked
at the table, moving things out of the way. "McKay, yours is the
orange lid and the muffins have citrus." She brought is over to
him. She handed Tony his muffins and plate. Banner got his
"What if those had been important?" Rodney asked.
"Well, first, they're still there. It's not like I put them on the
floor like I did a few times to the boss. Secondly, I was going
to sort them out again because you left a rats nest of a mess." He
snorted and got down to eating. She did that and even made files
for the various projects. Bruce smiled at her. "You guys
would never be able to find anything in the labs if someone didn't
organize behind you." She left them to eat and plot.
"That's why I want her to marry a geek," Tony said. "She'd make a perfect wife for a genius."
McKay nodded. "She might but she's a bit too strong willed."
"That means she manages to make Tony hit meetings," Bruce said with a smile. "How's the apartments looking?"
"Good. So far no one's had any complaints outside the twins having
gas cramps last night." He nibbled on a muffin. He
swallowed. "Personally I think that it's them trying to separate
them too soon."
"It might be. They say some twins are linked," Bruce said.
Tony nodded. "I've heard that. Had a few too." Rodney
rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Twins are fun, McKay.
You need to date and find that out."
"I'd rather not."
"You know, Xander's looking for a good, true mate," Bruce teased.
"I get enough hell from his brother going out to fight everything in the
universes that might give them more work. I don't need the other
one to give me just as much hell." He stuffed his mouth and
pointed. "Did she name them?"
"Yes but she uses practical names like 'robot attachment and grabbing
thingy'," Tony said with a smile. "That way I know what I'm
looking at." McKay shook his head. "It does make it easier
once you realize what she's done."
"I suppose," he said dryly. He looked. "Bombs, 1 through 25? I thought we only had 24."
"I think we may have created one last night," Bruce said, pulling up the
video to run through. "There, that's one. I printed
it." That got a nod and McKay shook his head as he stuffed his
Fury looked at his people. "You're set up to recertify
today. You have a week to show at least your old
proficiencies." He looked at the large bruise his sniper was
showing. "What did that?"
"Yeti." Natasha slugged him on it. "It liked redheads, sir." She hit him again.
"I don't need to know unless it's going to attack a major city to get them. Do you have your bows on you, Barton?"
"You're not using some strange bag of holding crap are you? Because I do not want her doing that."
"She didn't. Andrew did."
"Remember that geek trio that Stark had to kick for the senator?" Natasha asked. "He's one of them."
"They allow that over at Stark?"
"No. They allow magic in case of problems like a fall or something
to help keep people from getting injured," Clint said. "He did it
off-time as a birthday present for Dawn."
"Again, no need to know then."
"Even though we heard you tried to recruit them, sir?" Barton quipped.
"I was stupid that day," he assured him with a glare. "How much contact did you have with Agent Coulson?"
"Not that much," Natasha said. "Now and then Dawn would meditate
at Tara. A few calls made by payphone and calling card."
"How did you two get to that battle then?"
"Stark," he said.
"Stark has that satellite," she reminded him. "He also has an
alarm set up on it to read any heavy uses of magic. Hence us
catching the one in the Ukraine that we talked to about who she could
not trust in the region."
"I heard about that. She did good work getting the people off her
family." They nodded. "Did you tell her about the local
offices over there?"
"We did and she has no desire to work with us, sir, or anyone else,"
Barton said. "She's doing herbalist work to make ends meet.
She's a slightly chunky, happy young woman who is planning on getting
married next year when they can afford it."
"We did give her Tara's address so they could talk if they wanted to,"
Natasha finished. "Tara does have a good hand with herbs as you
"I do." He considered it. "That was all?"
"Now and then Dawn may have talked to him," Clint admitted. "He is like her big brother."
"Is she back on even footing?"
"Yes. The only things that remain are some urges to take out
people who are causing problems. We've helped her channel it into
sparring practice and the occasional people smuggler that always wanted
to keep her," Natasha said with a smile. "The sparring helped her a
lot and she'll be a better guard for her niece and Pepper Potts."
"That might help, her current assistant is a bit mousy," Fury
said. "She wilts when Stark says anything." Clint snorted
and shook his head, crossing his feet. "Is there anything I should
be aware of about any of you?"
"Dawn still can't climb a rope," Clint said. "It's not a matter of
muscle mass, because we made her build it up, but the ability to
transfer it. She throws a weak punch too, sir."
"I've seen other women that had that problem."
"It made getting out of a few places interesting," Natasha said.
Clint nodded. She smiled. "Otherwise it did some damage but
she's managed it."
"Fine. Go get recertified today. Are you two living in that building Stark put up?"
"I'm above Dawn and she's below her," Clint said.
"So no rope down?" he joked.
"No, if I want a perch there's a great one on top of the building.
It had been for Dr. Banner but as you know he's dating Joyce Summers."
Fury licked his lips. "Really?" They nodded. "That's a bit odd."
"Not really. He still calms down for Callia," Natasha said.
"When there was an attempted attack that got Buffy instead of Joyce they
figured out they could talk to each other. She's actually very
caring and has helped some of the serious issues some of our teammates
feel they have."
"I knew Rogers was talking to her about his time before he was frozen,"
Fury said. Steve leaned in and grinned, coming in to shake their
hands. "They'll be in the gym later."
"Great! I keep breaking junior officers."
Natasha smiled. "We will spar against you."
"Even better." He patted Clint on the back. "Did you see Xander was back?"
"We did. We spent some time at his temple." He
grinned. "O'Neill's green as grass cadets all wanted Dawn.
We had to correct some thinking."
"I'm sure Xander spanked them."
"Actually, Dawn stabbed one."
"Even better." He smiled. "See you guys later. Any idea where Doctor Banner is?"
"Dawn said earlier that he, Stark, and McKay were all tinkering in the same lab."
"Wow, I'd want to hide from that." He walked off. "Great to have you two back."
"It's nice to be back. There are some serious drainage holes
pretending to be first class hotels in the world. Dawn though it
was a vacation but we had to tell her how that was actually how we lived
before we were on the team."
Fury shook his head. "Go recertify. Get medical checks as well."
"We got cleared by Carolyn Lam," Natasha said. "She's an SGC doctor."
"I know who she is. Why?"
"I had a back spasm so she demanded."
"Fine. Do the mandatory ones anyway. Not that I don't trust
her but she's not ours and someone will say something about paperwork."
They nodded and got up, going down to the infirmary for that
first. It was easy enough to get past and they didn't ask Natasha
more than if she needed new pills. They took notes on her new
brand and that was fine. They went to the gym. The
recertification was easy enough. They were just as proficient, if
not more, than they were when they had been taken. Later on they
got told they had mandatory post-incident therapy evaluations as
well. That one might be harder to hide with the links going on.
Dawn smiled at the geeks she was walking past. "Did you guys like the candy?"
"Loved it," Jonathan quipped. Dawn hugged them all. "Thanks."
"No, thank you three for standing up for me and Callia." She walked on reading a file.
The boys smiled at each other and decided maybe being fully evil was a
bad way to get what they wanted. Being slightly evil but sticking
up for the right things would get them better women. It might also
keep Colonel Sheppard from taking them to Las Vegas and getting them
drunk enough to try to flirt again. It had been a dismal failure
but the girls had taught them some things.
Dawn walked into the office and handed over the file. "Proofread,
only one mistake in grammar, one spelling one in a header. Want me
to correct them, Pepper?"
"Please." Dawn nodded, going to her desk to do that for her.
She smiled at the board member in there. "Dawn is a great
"She's *damaged*," he said quietly, glancing out there. "Who knows what she'll do."
"We do know what she'll do. She's healed from the kidnaping and
all that. Dawn brought in the corrected version and another
folder. "What's this?"
"The list of people that had us taken and attempted the
reprogramming. Their ties were searched back by Agent Coulson to
six of our board members, but not this one." She looked at the
older man. "I'm not fragile, thank you. I wasn't before
then. Let's face it, my sister's a slayer, one of my great-aunts
was a costumed sort, and her aunt before her." The man
shuddered. "My mother's family had both Ravens, who started to be
active in the Second World War. Captain Rogers knew her."
She smiled. "I'm pretty sure doing what you have to do runs in the
family, Mr. Purcell.
"And until or unless I'm attacked, my need to do list includes filing,
running errands, playing with my niece, proofreading reports, herding
Mr. Stark to meetings and sometimes making sure he didn't fall asleep on
top of a new weapons prototype, and the occasional bout of babying the
geniuses around here who keep forgetting to eat and drink on
schedule. I'm pretty sure none of that is going to make me feel
endangered and if it does I was able to smack it down before because I
kept getting kidnaped by various groups, beings, and idiot people who
wanted Stark to do something for them," she finished blandly.
"That's why I was taking nearly daily self defense lessons."
"You were?" he asked, looking at Pepper.
"Because of her sister. A few times she got taken because of the
skills she drained at that battle. Before that battle there was a
sacrificial cult that wanted her because she wasn't an easy slut,"
Pepper said. "A few were to get leverage on either myself or
Tony. We made sure Dawn was training in self defense because when
we took her in to help her mother, there was a hell goddess after
her." His eyes were large and nearly popping out. Pepper
smiled. "She's always been an asset to us. She's made
herself indispensable. I missed her horribly while she had to
"Why did you take her in?"
"My mother's first brain tumor," Dawn said. "Which was caused by
people who wanted to make demons do the same things they wanted me to
He slumped. "I see."
Dawn got him a bottle of cold water. "I'm not much different now
than I was then, only I know how to throw a knife better and I can use
more subtle weapons more accurately. Before I had size queen
issues with my guns." He coughed and patted her on the arm before
walking out. She smiled at Pepper. "It took them a month to
teach me how to aim with something lighter than the ones I like to use."
"I've seen some of yours, Dawn." She smiled. "The new apartment?"
"I got to pick out the paint colors. The furniture is coming in a
few days. My closet is all unpacked and there's no chance of any
slime getting into it." Pepper laughed. "I have a great,
ancient cast iron tub that they refinished for me. It's big enough
for three people if they get cuddly." Pepper smiled. "My
kitchen has more cabinets than I know what to do with. And a
fridge so big I'll never fill it."
"Good." She smiled and waved Dora in. "Did you get those reports?"
"They said they're not ready yet," she said.
Dawn called down there. "Gina, Dawn. Pepper's sending me
after those reports now. She's been dealing with board members all
day. Stark's tinkering with McKay and Banner. Yeah, it's
one of those days. Sure, I can give you an extra ten
minutes. Thanks." She hung up. She smiled at
Dora. "Sometimes you have to nudge a tiny bit. I've went and
sat down in a department, waiting on things that they needed to send
up. Brought a magazine and a soda once. They got huffy but I
told them Pepper said to come sit in there until I had that report to
"It got done in record time since they had said three days," Pepper
agreed. "We're going to lunch in about an hour, Dora. Do you
want to join us in the caf?"
"No, ma'am, I brought mine."
"You can still sit with us," Dawn assured her with a smile. "I'm
not mean and I only bite food." Dora blushed but shook her
head. Dawn strolled out. "Let me head down to get that
report. Do a check of the labs, Dora. The geek trio in Lab 7
are due to make a report this afternoon. They're very shy guys
who have *no* idea how to talk to girls. They'll probably stammer
and look down. Don't upset them; just be polite and smile a
bit. They're all really nice guys. My sister went to high
school with them."
"I can try." She went down to talk to them.
Dawn strolled onto the elevator. A few minutes later she walked
into that department. The head was scowling. "I can find a
"Please don't." She handed it over. "Preliminary, the final
will be out in four days thanks to that banking crisis thing that was on
"Okay. Thanks." She walked it back up there. "Banking crisis is making it take longer."
Pepper looked it over. "Thankfully not much was in there and it's
secured." She called Tony's phone to let him know. She got
JARVIS, who said he was too involved to hear anything. She sighed
and handed it over. "Go nag them to eat lunch too."
Dawn smiled. "I got them breakfast." She headed down
there. She passed by Lab 7, looking in there. Dora was
trying hard not to look at them. "Guys, she needs the stuff for
Pepper and if you're sending any reports to Stark I'm heading that way."
"Sure," Andrew agreed, smiling and getting them for her. "Thanks, Dawn."
"You're welcome." She pinched him on the cheek. She looked
at Dora's back then at him. He grinned. "Callia will
probably be out and about later."
"She stared at us and told us we were naughty," Jonathan said. "I'm not sure if we should be insulted or not."
Dawn smirked. "Callia knows that naughty lab people get stood in
corners." They laughed. "Dora, can you hit Accounting on
your way back? I know their progress updates are due tomorrow but
see if she's got them ready yet." She walked off, logging into the
lab to get entry.
"No disturbing us," McKay said.
"Bite me, McKay; never mind, you'd never figure out how." She looked at Stark. "Banking crisis?"
"I've heard something. Why is it important?" he asked, not looking up.
"The one that you have the R&D fund and the scholarships in is part
of it?" He glared. She handed over the report.
"Preliminary. Four days for the official so they get some stuff
He read it. "That lowered the fund that pays that out. I'll have to take care of that. The other things?"
"Lab 7. Dora was so shy she couldn't look at them."
He shook his head. "She has good credentials. We thought she'd lose some of that."
"I think she needs the right incentive."
"She probably does. I have no idea what it is."
"For most girls, there's a trigger in things that they're hiding. An ex, a health issue, a fat awareness issue."
"When has that ever stopped a woman?" she countered.
"Good point. Do you think?"
"I think with the way she dresses like Tara used to that she's got
family issues but I'm guessing her ex is an issue since she keeps
talking about him in the past tense."
"So recent breakup talk. I'll watch for that." He read those over. "They're what?"
"No idea," she admitted.
"Go get Warren." He looked at the other two. "Tell Andrew no more magical tech."
"Give me five." She walked back down there. "Warren, Stark
wanted a personal update to explain something." She walked in and
smiled. "Andrew, he said no more mystical tech. Even though I
consider it really handy it bothers Banner and McKay because they can't
explain the base rules."
"I can fix it. I'm only using magic as a test of the electrical
systems." He showed her. "That way I don't hook up something
that's going to blow the lab's power grid again."
"He'd appreciate that." She patted him on the back. "I think
that's a really good idea." He beamed. "Jonathan, do you
have anything you needed to report? I know your report was skimpy
because you were home for a few days. How's your mom?"
"Not great but like usual. She still doesn't realize I'm there half the time."
"You know, my mom's in and out of here a lot if you wanted to
talk. Doctor Banner and she are seeing each other so if you
*really* need to talk he can call her for you."
He smiled. "Thanks. It's not quite that bad but it's close." She gave him a gentle hug. "Thanks, Dawn."
"You're welcome. You guys are special. You survived the
hellmouth." They grinned. "Let me tell Stark about that so
he quits worrying, Andrew." She walked up there. "Stark,
he's using the magic in place of the electrical systems for testing
only. That way they don't have to listen about blowing the power
"That's more than acceptable. Jonathan's was a bit sparse."
"He had to go home for a few days."
"I forgot. Thanks, Dawn. Have a good lunch."
"Call down an order and I'll bring it up when I'm done, guys. It's
nearly one and you ate at eight-thirty." She walked off.
She heard Warren yelp and grinned. "Must've been trying to pick up
girls by force again." She went up to the office. "Lunch?"
she asked Pepper.
"Please." They went down to the cafeteria and it was pretty decent
food. They ate and talked about clothes. Dawn
checked, the kings of geekdom hadn't made a lunch order so she did and
brought it up after they were done. Pepper giggled but being a
genius meant things slipped past you sometimes.
The next day went well enough. Dawn was mentoring Dora. She
clearly needed some more backbone. Lunch she took off campus with
the geeks in Lab 7. They needed out and Tony thought some
socialization would do them good. She had been in New York less
than a week and Dawn Luck had come back. She was snatched and put
up a hell of a fight. The geeks saw and called people. Dawn
was destroying the three people that had taken her. Clint's voice
popped up and told her to find out who they were taking her to.
She played along and left one mostly alive. The man on the other
end smiled when she was shoved at him.
"I'm not Dora. I'm Dawn. Dora's still back at the office."
"Of course you are Dora. She's the lovely Potts woman's assistant."
"I'm the primary assistant, dude. I'm not Dora. I'm over
Dora." The man walked off. Dawn turned and disabled the
guard. "You're so going to pay for kidnaping me. What the
fuck do you want?"
"Such language!" he complained. "My Dora would never do that!"
"Then it's probably a good thing I'm a Dawn, huh?" He
laughed. She could feel Clint telling her to calm down and see
what he wanted. They were already responding. "You know, the
guys that you took me from having lunch with are probably
panicking. They're nice young guys who have no way of handling
He waved a hand. "They'll find their own genius brides."
Dawn stared at him. "I may be a borderline genius, especially in languages, but I'm still not Dora."
"You are. We've talked many days. Don't worry, I'll take good care of you before and after we're married."
"I doubt that." He walked off like he hadn't heard a word she
said. She let out a bit of frustration, making things in the house
shake. She looked around. "You're a fucking slob,
dude. You have roaches. Your files are laying
everywhere. Can't you clean this up?" she demanded.
He stared at her. "Don't touch my work."
She scowled. "If I'm Dora I'm certainly not living in this
pigsty. She deserves better. She's a nice young
woman." She fixed a few of the files to piss him off. He
tried to snatch them but she glared. He backed down. She
stomped on a few of the bugs too. She looked. "Your equation
is out of balance. Even I took Calculus."
"No you didn't."
"Yes I did. I took AP Calc in high school and I took enough theory
of economics to know that you're out of balance. For that matter,
you're so far out of balance I'm pretty sure that's what's wrong with
the rest of the house. The chaos in your theory has spread."
She heard someone pound and walked up there. "Oh, great,
agents. Here for him for taking me?"
"We're here for you, Miss Summers."
"She's not! She's Dora," the mad scientist complained.
Dawn turned and knocked him out then looked at them. "So I take it
you're not a rescue squad?" They glared. She pulled a gun
before they could. "I'm not that nice. You guys made sure of
it and made me a bit paranoid. Now, shoo. Before I make it
an order." They backed away slowly. "Go. Now."
They turned and ran. She huffed. She looked down at the
crying man. "I'll tell Dora you want to talk to her again.
Maybe she'll forgive you for this mistake." She walked out and got
into the SUV that was pulling on the street. "Are the geeks
okay?" she asked Coulson.
"Andrew panicked. Stark almost couldn't understand him. We
stopped Warren from pulling out tech to help. Jonathan was going
to help with that plan." She grinned. "Are you all right?"
"He thought I was Dora."
"Geez," Clint muttered. "Are you okay otherwise?"
"That guy is seriously nasty. His unbalanced equations led to a
whole house of unbalanced crap. From roaches on down." They
shuddered. "Yeah." They got back to the tower and she walked
in, going to calm down the geeks. "Thanks, guys." They all
relaxed and smiled at her. "It's all right. I'm Dawn, I get
this a lot."
"Did they hurt you?" Andrew asked, looking her over. "You're all dirty."
"I'm fine. I beat the idiots who took me pretty badly and their
cheesy van needed to be cleaned." She kissed each one on the
cheek. "You guys did good calling it in. Thank you for
getting me help." They grinned. "Let me check in with
Stark." She got led to his lab, where Dora was screaming at him.
"Hey!" she shouted.
"You hurt my Percy!" Dora shouted at her.
"He kept thinking I was you, even when I pointed it out. I had to
try to break that so he'd listen that I wasn't you." Dora
huffed. "I also pointed out that his equation was wrong and that
he had roaches in the house. So when you go see him later, clean
on him. Organize his life. He'll appreciate it even if he
does freak out for a few days. It's what I do to Stark all the
time." Tony nodded. "I didn't really hurt him. I did
hit him once to make sure the agents who were trying to snatch me from
him couldn't hurt him. That kept him out of the crossfire and out
of trouble." Dora slumped. "If you want him, go to
him. He could use you. It's clear he misses you."
"While we don't usually encourage people to go to people who kidnap
young women, it's clear you are dear to him and he's dear to you,"
Coulson said, writing out the address. "He's there."
Pepper smiled. "Go to him, Dora. Love shouldn't be kept
waiting." She nodded. "Tell me by Monday if you're coming
"You guys are all so scary," she said. "I'm sorry."
"That's okay. A good scientist deserves a great helper." She
smiled and left. "Guys, make sure she has cab fare and a decent
cab," Pepper called after the guards escorting her out. They
smiled and nodded. She looked at Dawn. "Five days?" she
asked. "You couldn't go a whole week?" She pointed and
huffed. "I know. It's funny but I know." She gave her a
quick hug. "Did you get lunch?"
"No." She walked off. "Let me hit the admin breakroom for
the snack machine." She smiled at Clint and Phil. "Thanks,
guys. Should I go into a chorus of 'my hero'?" They smirked
and shook their heads. She kissed them each on the cheek and
strolled off mentally telling Clint he'd be getting rewarded later.
Clint looked at Stark. "Any other weird employees that might like her?" he quipped.
"There's that guy in Lab 12," McKay said. "I find him rather
creepy at times. He tends to look through you instead of at you."
Banner nodded. "I would put him on that list, yes. And the
one in HR that is jealous of her for being younger and prettier than his
"She's known about him," Pepper said. "He tried to mace her in the
garage and she kicked him over the railing and down a flight of
stairs." Coulson smiled. "Yes, him. The other
one... I'm not sure. He might not like Dawn. She tends
to bring order to chaos, and he lives on the chaos theory."
"Like that guy in _Jurassic Park_?" Clint asked.
"Worse," Tony said. "Less linear."
Andrew cleared his throat from the doorway. "Pauley up in lasers
research. He wants to see if her blood can power a super
one. Or Finnigan in shield design. He's got a mini shrine to
her. So does Halls in security but he's a nice guy and adores her
like anyone should."
"That's very good work," Coulson said. "Thank you. We keep a
list but sometimes it falls behind." He handed over his
card. "If you see someone snatching her again, let me know and
"You're the one that's like her big brother," he said.
"I am, and the father of Tara's twins." Andrew squealed and hugged
him then bounced off. He looked at Barton. "Hand-to-hand
recert against the instructor." He nodded, going to the car.
He looked at Pepper, who smiled at him. "They're finally sleeping
"Congrats," Tony said with a grin. "I nearly made myself sick
celebrating with ice cream watching her sleep. Because I knew as
soon as I moved she'd wake back up." Coulson laughed. "Sure,
laugh now but crawling starts in about six months," he said
smugly. "And you have two."
"Hell," he said, walking off to make plans for that. Fatherhood
took a lot more tactical planning than running missions in the field
"With his luck, they'll forgo crawling and just float around, swimming
in the air like Xander did the last time he was in the infirmary on
Atlantis. We had to hitch him to some recharging batteries to make
him quit swimming and we still needed a leash a few times," McKay
complained into his mug of coffee. Pepper walked out giggling.
"I'm so glad Callia only found out she had magic after she started to walk."
"She's using it for climbing," Bruce said.
Tony shook his head. "Where?"
"Library. Where else?"
"What was she going for?"
"Books on bathing suits and naked people." Tony turned and thumped
his head into a wall a few times. "I heard her keep saying 'not
an elephant' and comparing it to the picture of one." That got a
few more thumps. He patted him on the back. "Some day she'll
be a teenager and all this will seem like fond things."
"Shut up, Banner, before I lock you out of the labs."
"I'd just take Joyce to lunch." He grinned, going back to their
sandwich fixing platter. Dawn had done good getting them things
they'd probably eat.
Tony walked off. "I'll be back after I talk to her nanny."
He rubbed his forehead all the way up there. He ran into Dawn in
the elevator. "She got into naked people books. Compared
them to elephants."
She nodded. "That day she had JARVIS send her to me, I was kinda naked too. She asked me if I was taking a bath."
He nodded. "Did she remark on anything?"
"No, at the time I was smoother than she is," she said dryly. He blushed. She grinned. "Birthdays."
He patted her on the shoulder. "I do not need to know." She
cackled. "Let me talk to her nanny. Go let Pepper warp you
so you're normal again."
"Yes, sir." She saluted. He got off and she went to the
office. "He's going to see the nanny." Pepper texted Tony
she was up there. Dawn handed over what she had went to fetch,
letting Pepper take the antacids. "How many more?" she quipped.
"Four." She handed Tony the file Dawn had handed her. "I didn't remember to hand you this yesterday."
He looked at it and nodded. "That's great to know. Thanks,
Dawn." He walked the nanny out to talk about Callia's issues with
nudity. The nanny thought it was normal. Tony explained why
it wasn't. The whole 'genius baby' thing was not working in his
Dawn squatted down in front of Callia. "When you're old enough,
you can have supermodels too. Just like daddy does." Callia
beamed at her and went back to writing. Dawn showed her how to do
it and she followed along. That helped. "Good job."
She smiled. "Why don't you go down and talk to Andrew, Warren, and
Jonathan. They need to know what good girls are like so they quit
stealing the skanky hos."
"Skanky hos?" Callia asked. Dawn pulled over a magazine and pointed at a model. "Oooooh. Nasty."
"Exactly. They need to know what good girls are like so they want
good girls." She beamed. "They're down in Lab 7." She
ran off, looking determined. She and Pepper shared an evil smirk.
Warren looked up as the door opened. "What are you doing in here?"
he demanded, moving to stop her. "You can't be in here, Miss
Stark. It's dangerous."
She stared at him. "Auntie said I'm a good girl and I can teach
you what good girls are like." She grinned and hugged him.
"Good girls hug and they sing and they read and they like to
play." She went to hug the other two, who were smiling at
her. "No more skanky hos. They don't play. They look
mean," she told Warren while hugging Andrew.
"They do," Andrew agreed.
Jonathan nodded. "All the ones we've captured have been." He
took her to cuddle. "Maybe we'll find a good girl like you and
your aunt." She beamed and kissed him on the cheek.
"Thanks, Miss Stark."
"I'm Callia," she said slowly and clearly. They grinned and the
two geeks settled in to talk to her while Warren pouted. Warren
knew robotic girlfriends were easier than real ones. Metal ones
didn't do weird girl things. Or have girl moments or bad hair days
or any of that sort of womanly malfunctions that you couldn't program
Stark walked in and sighed. "What are you doing?" he asked his daughter.
"Auntie said they need to know what good girls are like so no more skanky hos. They look mean."
"They are, yes. I dated more than my fair share of them."
"Auntie say I get sooper models like you, Daddy." She beamed.
"Some day I'm sure you will, princess." He picked her up.
"Yes, some day you all want a girlfriend like Dawn as an ideal.
One who helps you with your work, cleans up when the ideas drive you
nuts, and makes your life a living hell when you're an idiot. I
had Pepper for that and Dawn's in training to find her own genius
mate." He patted Warren on the head. "Do not turn her on,"
he said quietly. "You need a real girl."
"Real girls are hard," he complained.
"Yes but they're worth it."
"No they're not. She can do anything I need or want. She's even flexible."
"Warren, look at Agent Romanoff some day. Compare her to your former robotic girlfriend and see how she compares."
"We'd only drool on her pretty shoes," Jonathan sighed. "That's one hell of a woman."
"Yes and as an ideal woman she's a bit tough but she does have the right
qualities to be a good mate to someone who has a high IQ. She has
one herself actually. Compare the two and see how they stack
up." That got a sullen nod. "Good boy." He patted him
again. Callia leaned over to give him a hug. "That's very
nice of you, daughter."
She grinned. "Some day I need a Pepper of my own," she said, staring at her father.
"Yes you do and we'll help you pick one to drive you just as crazy as she does me." He walked her out.
"Agent Romanoff is like a goddess," Jonathan sighed, leaning on the work
bench. "No woman can compare to her. I'd gladly take her if
she wouldn't kill me for it." He looked at Warren, who was still
pouting. "Compare her to Pepper. She's popular, pretty,
smart. Everything our wanted and needed mates should be."
"True," Warren agreed. He sat down to compare them by listing
traits he wanted. Pepper was coming out on top. Maybe he
would make a Pepper bot and a Agent Romanoff bot. That'd be really
good and they'd be hot together and with him. They had all the
stuff here and he had gotten a good look at the plans for those other
robots, which were weak. He could definitely make it better.
A few days later, Natasha felt a tickle of thought from Dawn, walking
out of the battle ring to call her. "What's happened?"
"Are you there?" Dawn asked. "I mean at SHIELD?"
"Yes, why? Is there a problem?"
"I'm looking at your clone," she sighed. "I think Warren wanted a higher, more better girlfriend."
Natasha looked at her phone then put it against her ear. "Who?"
"Geek trio Warren? Made the Buffy bot?" she said.
"Yes, I remember that story."
"Your clone here is a lot better than the Fury bot. Not as many
processing errors. I don't think Stark's figured it out yet she's
so good. Which is why I thought I'd check." She hung
up. She could swear that it was Natasha. They got all her
mannerisms, down to her walk, down perfectly. Dawn was almost
embarrassed by her reaction. She tapped out a text message to
Pepper to look at the security camera in that hall. She sent back a
'tell Natasha I said hi'. Dawn sent back she was at SHIELD, she
had checked. Pepper came off the next elevator. Dawn looked
at her. "I couldn't tell," she said quietly.
"He did fantastic work."
"Tony hasn't figured it out yet," Dawn said quietly. "She's not magnetic either."
"Shit," Pepper muttered. "Natasha, let's go talk," she said,
smiling at her. "I haven't seen you since you got back." She
walked her off.
Dawn walked up to Tony and hissed in his ear. "No way."
"Yup. I checked, bossman."
He looked. "That's better than the Fury bot."
"Or the Buffy bot."
"JARVIS, how many did they make?" Tony called quietly.
"Two, sir. I believe Ms. Potts just ran into her other self.
They're comparing outfits." Tony hung his head. "It is very
hard to tell them apart," the AI said. "The only way I can is the
biometric scans we have of the two real women don't match the robotic
one's biometric rhythms."
"They're so grounded," Tony decided, heading that way. Natasha got
there and followed silently. Coulson too. Dawn smiled and
waved. Natasha gave her a pointed look. "I couldn't tell,"
he told her quietly. "At all. There was no lag, no
difference in your voice, your inflection, nothing." Natasha said
something rude in Russian. "Dawn couldn't tell." Natasha
shook her head.
"I figured that's why she called," Coulson said. He glanced back at Dawn. "Can we borrow them?"
"They have very little understanding of social interaction," Tony said
quietly. "Sheppard took them to Vegas, got them drunk, and they
still didn't manage to do more than stammer at a woman."
"Understood." He walked into the room second and had to
pause. "Two?" he asked. Warren flinched. He decided
not to lecture. Clearly a fragile genius sort. "That's very
adventurous. Most men can't handle two strong, powerful
women." He patted him on the arm. "SHIELD wants to register
the plans, without taking and using them. We'll help you file the
patents so no one can steal them again, Warren. Would that be all
right?" He blushed but nodded. Natasha and her metal self
were circling each other. Fortunately the human one was wearing
her SHIELD uniform so they could tell them apart.
Pepper and her metal self were talking to see how deep the programming
went into her history. "You called my mother to tell her the
gossip?" the human Pepper asked.
The metal one smiled and nodded. "She was lonely for new news of you."
"Huh. Okay." She smiled. "We should go shopping some time."
Warren shook his head. "You'll warp her programming. That's
evil girl stuff that confuses us men. I gave her fifteen outfits
and shoes. Only one was the cut-off shorts you used to wear to
tease Mr. Stark."
She patted him on the cheek. "We'll talk later, Warren." He
hung his head and nodded. "She's a fantastic job. I might
actually need to borrow her in case of a threat."
"Like the earlier version of the Buffy bot I am programmed for self
defense and to handle any threats to my human boyfriend," the not-Pepper
said with a grin.
Pepper smiled back. "Sure, that's a great thing." She
wouldn't flinch at the 'boyfriend' comment. "Natasha, is yours
programmed to spar like you can?"
"She said she is."
"I'm still uploading martial arts forms," Warren said quickly, taking
her to put behind him and protect her. "She's not ready to spar
Natasha looked at him. "I am flattered," she said quietly.
"But a bit disturbed. I wish she looked more like my sister than
me." He grinned and nodded. "Thank you." She walked
off. Dawn met her in the elevator, turning off the security
cameras and suspending it between floors so Natasha could vent where the
fragile genius could not hear her. "I have never met anyone like
that," she finally said, calming down. "Really, I have never met
anyone that afraid of women."
Dawn hugged her. "He'll figure it out. We're working on
it. Tony made him turn off his last one and store her so he could
learn to interact with real women." Natasha hugged her back.
"I want to see Clint's reaction to her."
Natasha shook her head. "He would want to try things." Dawn
laughed but let her go and turned back on everything. "Thank you
for the warning."
"I honestly couldn't tell and I was having a reaction I wasn't really comfortable with."
"I could barely tell," she complained. She got off and went to the
SUV. Coulson would be there for hours dealing with this and
she needed to go get out some energy. She got back to her
physical fighting recertification. Clint was staring, waiting for
her. "I nearly couldn't tell." He grinned. "He'll
correct her image so she's my sister instead."
"That's great," he agreed. "Fury heard something."
"The little genius would fold under his scowl," she said in
Russian. "He does under Pepper's." Clint walked off
laughing. "Coulson is still there. He can make a
report." She pointed at someone. "I need sparring
time." He groaned but came over to be beaten to death. This
was not right and it couldn't even be blamed on Dawn's unique view of
the world. Demons were not as strange as her metallic
doppleganger. She heard Dawn protest and apologized, sending a
soothing thought toward her even as she beat the junior agent.
Xander appeared at Stark's frustrated yell, looking amused. "What's attacking the earth this time?"
"Three geeks who you grew up with."
Xander scanned where they were. "Wow, better than the Buffy
bot." He nodded, flashing down there. "Hey, guys. Can I
bum your genius brains?" They stared at him. "The temple's
firing range is really basic. I need to up it to something less
than the danger room and better the standard robotic walk-through
course." They beamed and nodded. "Good. Come to
Colorado." He wrote down directions. "I'll get it cleared
with Stark." The robo-Natasha teased the back of his neck.
"Hi, friendly." She smiled a tiny little smirk. Warren was
looking jealous. "You know the dangerous ones like me," Xander
said dryly. "There was someone in the government who wanted to
breed me to her."
"That would suck," Warren said. "No girl is normal after you date them, Xander."
"I try really hard." He grinned. "I need a girlfriend."
"Do you think I should program in lesbian tendencies?" Warren asked.
"I don't know. Dawn spent almost a full year with her. Ask
her." That got a nod. "Show up soon." He flashed back
up there. Natasha was seriously a dream girl for him but there was
no way she'd be his so he could only imagine. "I'm having them up
my range building."
"Sure," Tony said with a smile. "Thank you."
"Welcome. She looks almost exactly like Natasha but a bit off."
"She requested that she become her sister instead of her."
"She's definitely like a hot twin." He disappeared. "Hey,
Bia. Remember me talking about the Buffy bot?" She shuddered
but nodded. "The three geeks are coming here to up the range
Jensen leaned out from the kitchen. "Someone created a robot of Buffy?"
"Fully responsive and all. The same geeks made one of Natasha and
Pepper." Jensen just stared. "They'll be here soon."
He nodded, going back to making a snack.
"I'll make sure one of the instructor rooms is open for them,
Xander." She smiled. "That way they're comfortable."
He blew a kiss and headed to his suite. She slumped, shaking her
head. "There's very few geeks that warriors can stand," she
muttered. She called Dawn, who told her about then. She
realized one had sent prayers her way and she smiled. She did like
geeks, look at how much she liked John and Xander. Maybe she
could help them while they were out here.
Clint watched Natasha hack into the Stark servers to check the security
footage of her metal self. She ran it back to their meeting.
He had seen it through Dawn's mind but that was really hot.
"Twins." She poked him. "What about now?" She changed
it so he could see the present version. "Very nearly twins."
"She needs to look less like me."
"I'm sure she will. You did say your sister." She swatted
him this time. Dawn came in and laid on his back, changing the
footage and logging into something else. They got to watch the
geeks argue with Warren about his choice of clothes for each of
them. They couldn't get a good, clear picture of Natasha's battle
uniform so they decided on something spandexy like Dawn's former unitard
Clint smirked at Natasha. "You do look good in all those." She stared at them.
Dawn leaned down to kiss her. "That's why I had to check. I
saw and reacted before I realized." Natasha scowled. "It
took Stark over an hour."
"I realize that." She huffed and turned it off. "Where are they now?"
"Upping Xander's range."
Clint moaned. "That means there's going to be a Danger Room course."
"Xander said below that and above what SHIELD or any PD has for a
walk-through." She slid off his back and snuggled her other
lover. "It could be worse."
"I don't see how."
"You could've been pregnant twins." Natasha shuddered and shook
her head. "So, see, not as bad as it could be. He thinks
you're hot. You're like the universal symbol for hot woman.
He still calls her and you Agent Romanoff instead of by your
name. Pepper was more a girlfriendy choice instead of a 'tie
you up and show you things' sort for him." She leered. "Not
that that's bad." Clint kissed her to make her stop. "By
the way, my apartment's done." They went with her to check it
out. The kitchen was spacious, though Clint's was biggest because
he could cook better than Dawn. Dawn had a nice dining area, a
great living room area with her old tv in it.
The sectional had stayed for Joyce. Her mom had gushed that it was
the most comfortable couch and they did like watching movies on
it. She led them back to her study, which was a great room with a
lot of shelves that she needed to unpack books onto. Then into the
public bathroom, which was nice. The spare bedroom then the main
bedroom. It had the bed raised up on a platform but hanging from
the ceiling by chains. It looked like heavy wood with a nice
The closet was most of one wall. Not walk in but most of one
wall. She had a small vanity area to do her hair and the door to
the bathroom on the other wall. They walked in. A large
antique cast iron tub with bronze accents. A good countertop, but
all the apartments had that and a standing box for first aid
supplies. Dual sinks. The shower was tucked into a corner
but it wasn't as small as it looked because the side wall was a fake
wall. It gave it enough depth to have two shower heads.
Everything was done in cream with bronze.
"Wow," Clint said. He went out to test the bed. "What's the rating on this?"
"I made sure when I found that sucker that the ceiling could take
it. I talked to the guy who was head of the reno crew in here and
brought him in to look at it. He said the chains and the ceiling
will hold at least three thousand pounds of pressure." He
smirked. She grinned back. "Even bouncing around shouldn't
bother it. Pepper thought it was a great bed, reminded her of the
porch bed on Fiji."
"It does me as well," Natasha said. She climbed in and sank in,
smiling in pleasure. "This is nice." Dawn climbed up to kiss
her. It was good and the bed cradled her nicely. Dawn was
nicely happy. "Are you all unpacked?"
"No. Not hardly. That'll be my task tomorrow night while you
two have the first aid recert class." They smiled and settled in
to tease each other. Natasha needed a better mood. Dawn was
in a playful mood and wanted to make her squeal. Clint was happy
to help. They'd get him later when they wore Natasha out. He
checked, the beside tables were built up enough that you only had to
reach over. Just higher than the mattress's edge. He looked
and groaned. Dawn looked. "That side," she said.
"We can move them around so they're in easy reach," he said, grabbing
what he wanted from the two boxes of condoms and some lube.
Natasha gave him a pointed look. "Just in case?"
Dawn kissed her. "Can I?" she asked with an impish grin.
"I believe you need to learn the difference between me and
others." Dawn showed her the plans she had seen. Natasha
shivered. It was self lubricating, had perfect female anatomy,
including nerve responses, and was vocal in bed. Natasha stared at
her. "Why did you see that?"
"Pepper had me go make Warren brag." She leaned on Natasha's flat
stomach, grinning some. "She's so responsive she's like ten steps
beyond the Fury bots. They tested her with an IQ of over
150." Natasha slumped. "She's not fully learning but she can
be programmed with new information. They did everything to
worship at your altar since Warren decided he would never be worthy of a
woman like you." She stroked the older woman's side. "I
have that feeling now and then too."
"You are more than woman enough to worship," Clint assured her.
"We're both worthy of worshiping her." Natasha started to give
them funny looks but they ganged up on her to worship her properly.
Phil knocked and walked into Dawn's apartment. "Dawn," he called,
starting the coffee maker. "Time for our run in the gym."
They had been back on the schedule for weeks now, since Dawn had
"Ow," was called in a familiar but not Dawn voice.
Coulson smiled. Dawn came wandering out holding her head. "Hangover?"
"Tiny bit of sleep. Why are we running in the gym?" He
pointed at where it was pouring rain outside. "Crap, the speech is
outside today," she muttered.
"Sorry." He handed her a mug of coffee. "Go get
dressed?" She nodded, wandering back that way. She came out
in bike shorts, her sneakers, and a sports bra. "Shirt?" he
"Hell no. I'm really warm." He frowned and tested her forehead. "Just tired."
"Not really. Come on." He took her down there to go through
their daily workout. It was helping him lose all the baby and
cookie weight he was carrying. Tara spoiled him horribly.
Dawn was lagging and he got her off the treadmill to test her
again. Still a bit fevered. "Why are you sick?"
"'m not," she muttered then yawned. "Just tired."
"We'll see. You can pop into the infirmary for a check. You
can't be around the twins or Callia if you're sick." Dawn sighed
but nodded. She came down pulling on a t-shirt and carrying an
outfit in a bag so it wouldn't get soaked. He drove her in.
He knew the difference between too much sex tired and sick. The
doctor looked at her and tested her forehead. "She said she's
"She's got the flu like half of the rest of the building." He
winced. "The twins are fine. We vaccinated them ourselves,
Agent Coulson." She took the dress and hung it up. She gave
Dawn some medicine then put her to bed. "Half the science teams
are down too."
"Okay," he agreed, popping up to talk to Pepper. "She's got the flu."
"Dirt. I needed her today."
"You could use one of the other ones."
"No, I can't! I have to write the speech, I'm horribly behind, I have no idea what I'm doing."
"Then call and see if Romanoff can go back to pretending to be a Stark sitter," he said.
She smiled and sighed. "Thank you! That's the best idea I've
heard since Tony went down sick three days ago." She
called. "Please tell me you don't have the flu," she begged.
"Yes, she does. Thank you! No, I'm so far behind.
Tony's been sick for three days. Everyone else is sick. I
have a speech today." She smiled. "Thank you, Natasha.
Here." She hung up. "She is here?"
"Napping off the medicine." He smiled and left her to her
panicking. Thankfully he didn't have to write speeches for Fury.
Dawn woke up and couldn't quite figure out where she was. It was
dark. It was way too quiet. She could feel air moving.
She checked, no sign or feeling of people. She slowly stood up
and headed for the doorway. In the back of her head she heard
someone warning her not to go into the hall. That was probably a
good thing? She wasn't sure. She didn't know why she had the
voice in the back of her head. It yelled again. Maybe it
was a bad thing.
Clint woke up to a feeling of calm panic. Dawn. He opened
the link and told her to stay where she was. He was up and pulling
on pants. She was ignoring him so he got more forceful. She
still ignored him to move out into the hallway. He called Stark
security on the way over. Dawn was out of it and could hurt
Natasha woke up to that interesting byplay and sent her own at
Dawn. //You will be in so much trouble if you leave that
infirmary. You are fevered and need to be in bed.// Dawn
seemed to fade in and out during it. She got up to put on
clothes. She ran into Steve Rogers coming in. "Dawn is ill
and wandering through the Tower," she said at his curious look.
"We heard they had a mass case of the flu."
"She does as well." He followed her. "We can handle it."
"Not to be rude, Natasha, but if she's sick enough to be hallucinating I
doubt that." It wasn't that far to drive. Clint was
already inside. They stepped in and a guard rushed to tell them
where they thought she was. She wasn't the only one hallucinating
either. Thankfully JARVIS had locked everything important or
dangerous so none of the sick ones could get into it. Clint was in
the ceiling in the penthouse trying to track Stark because he had a
weapon. They had to get Dawn.
Clint felt Natasha wake up and that was great since he had a higher
priority to find. Stark could cause real problems if he was
hallucinating. "JARVIS, can you turn down the power on that
weapon?" he asked quietly.
"I can and have. It shouldn't do more than stun one but he thinks
he's in his suit firing on busty women with eight shapely legs.
Brunette ones are what he's hallucinating, they're guarding their
Clint considered that. "Why?"
"I believe something in the current bout of influenza is encouraging
it," he admitted. "Though it's not Dawn they're using. It's
"Interesting." He moved on. "Check on the geek trio's robots?" he suggested.
"The two new ones are in the lab working on something together.
The one that had been in the closet isn't in there. Scanning the
building. Oh, she's in virology."
"Shut them down," Clint ordered. "Tell Agent Romanoff."
"I can do so." He let Clint track the wily super genius who was hallucinating badly.
Clint found where Stark had made an emergency nesting area.
Probably in case of attack by all the weapons. There were no
obvious gaps so Stark hadn't made it here yet. He shut and locked
it then moved on. Stark had tech stored around the building in
case of emergencies. Clint found him in a hidden computer core
room. "JARVIS, can you please beam him into a locked infirmary
room?" he hissed.
"The satellite is off-limits during emergencies."
"Not externally, in the building. Say the room Joyce had been in? There's no tech there, right?"
"No, there's not." He did that. Clint jumped down to look at
the computers. "That's not the self-destruct," the AI said.
"It looks like new plans. Or he was doing a backup of the
mainframe. I'm not totally connected to that system, can only read
it off a camera."
"Okay," Clint said. "Do whatever you have to do. I'm going to go find Dawn."
"I took the liberty of sending her to a room like that as well but she's
managed to pick the electronic locks magically and escaped. She's
in the ceiling on that floor. I've alerted Captain Rogers and
"Let me get Dawn. They can get the robots." He headed down
there. He had studied the plans for the tower so he knew the
layout and all the shortcuts between floors. He fired a grappling
arrow and slid down a ventilation tube to the floor Dawn should be
on. He paused and listened. No Dawn.
"One down, Agent Barton. She's going for the weapons lab."
"Of course she is," he agreed. Because Dawn liked weapons.
He hurried after her, pouncing her before she could slide out of the
ceiling. She fought back, because even sick Dawn was feisty.
He finally managed to get her pinned and knocked her out with a tiny
bottle of knockout drops he carried in case of emergencies. She
went limp. He waited. She wasn't snoring. He nerve
pinched her but she tried to move. Thankfully he still outmassed
her by about twice her weight. Now she was out.
He got them out of the ceiling and back up to the infirmary, settling
her in a bed and strapping her down this time. Including a few of
the tiny locks she couldn't pick magically. He made sure she
didn't have anything like a paperclip so she couldn't do it physically
either. He found two machines most of the rooms had and set them
to help distract her focus. He walked off, closing the door so
JARVIS could lock it. "Where are the other agents, JARVIS?"
"Nearing Lab 7."
"I'm heading for Virology."
"I'll tell them." He passed that on.
Natasha and Steve walked into Lab 7. "What are you two doing?" she demanded.
Her metal self looked up. "We're building something that the boys need out in Colorado."
Steve moved closer slowly. "Are either of you behind the flu that's been going around?"
"No," robo Pepper said. "We weren't aware there was an
epidemic." She and her other half shared a look. "We can
help if someone's too sick to work and it's critical. They did
program us to handle a lot of practical tasks."
"I can even bake," the robo Natasha said with a grin. "Warren does love cookies."
"Most guys do," Steve said. "For right now, I want you two to
confine yourself to this lab until we find out what's going on."
JARVIS cleared his throat. "Agent Barton had an idea."
"What was it, JARVIS?" robo Pepper asked.
"Mr. Stark was fighting eight-legged versions of Miss Potts. The
army of them was guarding their redheaded queen. That's what he
wanted the suit for. Instead I gave him the supposed new design
that was actually a VR-aligned set of glasses so he could fix whatever
"That's not a bad idea," Steve agreed.
Natasha looked around. "Where's the prototype?"
"Virology," JARVIS said as the robo ladies said the closet. "With Agent Barton moving in to capture her."
Natasha ran out, heading down there.
"She got jealous?" robo Pepper asked Steve. She pouted.
"That's not right! We would've shared Warren. Even if she's
not as advanced we could help by uploading new programming and data
Robo Natasha nodded. "I would have helped her. Warren's a
great stud and could use another good girlfriend." They shared
another look. "JARVIS, don't let them hurt her. We can
rehabilitate her," she called.
"I believe she's going to be turned off for now," Steve said.
"Then Tony will figure that out." They pouted but nodded.
"For now, finish up what the boys needed done and then go ahead to a
sleep cycle or whatever you call it?"
"It's so hard to sleep without Warren snuggling, drooling, and snoring
on us," robo Pepper sighed. "But I guess we can curl up
together." They got back to work.
Steve headed out of the lab and down there. He was so glad he was a
physical sort instead of a super brain like Tony or Warren. They
never seemed to have really usual problems.
Natasha got there as Clint was getting the door opened. She
followed him, letting him go left while she took the right side of the
room, guns out. "Put down the vials," she ordered.
The original model of Warren's girlfriend smiled. "Natasha, is
there a problem? Does Warren need more help than you two can give
him in Colorado?"
"No, and I'm not the robotic one."
The woman grimaced. "Inferior fleshy model then. Very
inefficient. Takes too much energy and makes too much
waste." She yelped when Clint fired a jamming signal crossbow bolt
into her arm. "Hey! He won't like scars! Warren only
loves us if we're perfect! You're going to make him not love
me!" She started to cry and reached for something.
"No," Natasha said, stopping her. "We can fix that so Warren won't
mind. Calm down." She moved close enough to flick her to
the 'off' setting and the robot went limp against her. She looked
at the lab's contents. "Get someone who can handle this?"
Steve leaned in. "Only two people in sciences aren't sick.
Neither one can handle this mess. Who do I call outside of
"JARVIS, call Carolyn Lam. We need her ASAP," Clint said.
"I'm waking her up now," the AI agreed. "That is not too bad but we might have to quarantine you three for a few days."
"That's fine. We took flu shots," Clint said, rubbing his
neck. He looked at Natasha, who shrugged. "I'm not like
Warren, right? I know Dawn undid all her scars again."
"You're not. You never were. Nor were you a genius."
He grinned. "Great!" Doctor Lam came rushing in. "Hi, Doc."
"This is Warren's original girlfriend," Natasha said. "She got jealous of the newer models."
Carolyn winced. "I heard. What do we think she was making?"
"Weaponized flu," Clint said. "Most of the building is down with the flu. A lot with targeted hallucinations."
"I can handle that," she agreed, calling in a few others to help her
handle it. The three agents went up to the infirmary to be checked
over. The robot had her energy core pulled by McKay. He
went up to pull the other two's, explaining why before he did it.
They pouted but understood since that one had been so dangerous.
McKay looked at what they were building - simulated bombs - and sent a
heated thought at Xander to beat the hell out of them. Mari got
sent to handle those. Rodney went to shut down the labs just in
case something else was going to go critical or stupidly
explosive. He had thought Atlantis had all the universe's screw
ups, apparently Stark took in the ones that couldn't handle military
Phil walked in the next morning with a carrier of coffee cups, handing
them to the three agents. He looked at where Dawn was sleeping,
still tied down to the bed. He noticed the tininess of the locks,
the white noise machine next to her, and could feel the ionized air
machine going at high speed. That made a lot of sense if one had
to take Dawn down. He looked at Clint, who shrugged. "Is she
feeling any better?"
"Doctor Lam has a treatment going and they're all going to feel better
in a few days," Natasha said. She checked on Dawn, patting her
hand when she tried to move. "Rest. We're here to watch over
you." Dawn tried to shift onto her side. Clint got her free
of that side and let her curl up with a sigh of pleasure. She
hugged Natasha's hand and smiled.
"I don't blame her for hating the infirmary," Phil said quietly.
"Not a bad action plan, people. Thank you." He walked
off. Stark was grumpy but awake. He handed Pepper the last
coffee, earning a smile. "Stark, can you remember anything?"
"Eight shapely-legged Peppers, an army of them tossing their hair in
that agitated way when she's being thwarted and carrying laser
pistols. I really have to make better laser pistols. Can't I
have some coffee?"
"No," the nurse called. "No caffeine for a whole day. It might counteract the medicine, Mr. Stark."
"Damn." He grimaced. "The robots?"
"Off," Coulson said. "McKay submitted a report. It was the
original one who was jealous. She created the flu because the two
newer ones had taken her lover and boyfriend. The two new ones
were more than willing to share but she didn't want that."
Tony rubbed his forehead. "Jesus. Warren?"
"Hasn't been told yet," Coulson admitted. "Unless he has some sort of health sensor on them for them being put to sleep."
"Good to know. I want to kick him again."
Pepper shook her head. "He needs help, Tony." He
nodded. "I'll start looking for a therapist for him. We'll
move the ladies to a dedicated safe room. That way if we need them
for some emergency reason we can reactivate them."
"Please," he agreed. "Give them enough so they can plug in but not
access the outside until we can debrief them and download their memory
cores." He rubbed his forehead again. "I don't know if this
is caffeine withdrawal or if this is the flu."
"It's the flu," she assured him, patting him on the leg. "Let me
check things over." She walked off with Phil. "Dawn?" she
"They found a way to diminish her abilities to get free." He
waited until they were alone. "Very tiny locks, ionized air, and a
white noise generator."
"Tiny locks are because Dawn has a problem with finite, tiny
movements." He smiled and nodded. "The ionized air to
counteract some of the magic?"
"Probably. The white noise to distract her so she can't focus as
hard. Also to soothe her. She hates being in the infirmary."
"I would too with as long as her mother spent in the hospital and as
many times as she's had problem checks after things." Phil
smiled. "Is she all right?"
"They're with her."
"Good!" She looked over as the door to the office opened. "Rodney, anything I need to know right now?"
"Everything was on safe shutdown outside of the two labs the robots were working in."
"Stark wanted all three in a safe room," Coulson said. "Enough
power to plug in but no power cores. He wanted to download the
memories and things."
"I can work on that. It's not that hard. Has anyone talked to Warren?"
"Not yet," Pepper said. "Unless he had some sort of alert that went to his phone."
"His phone is in the lab," Rodney said dryly. "He forgot
it." She smiled. "It was showing a tampering alert for his
"Good to know," she agreed. "Thank you and Carolyn for the assistance last night."
He shrugged. "We are getting that young one help?"
"I'm looking at where," she admitted.
"We don't have a version of Arkham Asylum here," Coulson said dryly. "Or I'd suggest there."
"There's places for geniuses who snap," Rodney assured him.
"Including one here in the city that's not exactly reputable and has a
lot of government interference with testing and the like."
Phil shook his head. "No, SHIELD does not consider that a safe
location. They've had three patients escape in the last
year. The one in Massachusetts is safer. It's also more
humane and less drugging oriented for correction."
Pepper smiled. "Is that where you were going to stick Tony if he
broke in a critical manner?" He nodded. "Good to know.
Can you get me their contact information?"
"I can," he agreed. "The only other one we have rated with that sort of security and health oversight is in Switzerland."
"Good to know," she decided. "Thank you, Phil."
"Welcome, Pepper." He walked off, going to the office to make that
report and to get that contact information for her. Who knows
what other geniuses might need it.
Pepper smiled at Rodney. "How bad?"
"She did a very nice job weaponizing it." She grimaced, sitting
down. "Warren is beyond good at what he does, but he's very
twisted. He was having the two in his lab build mock bombs for
Xander's range building." She winced. "No explosives."
"That's good to know." She leaned back, sipping her coffee. "How many are down?"
"Most of the building. You're under quarantine orders due to the
rash of the flu. Carolyn had the rest of the staff that works here
alerted not to come in for the next few days. They'll be back
"A five day weekend is a great thing," she sighed. "I guess I can
stay in Tony's suite so I can't infect anyone." He smirked and
walked off. She got into her emails. The expected ones from
the board of directors was there. She typed out a report on what
had happened. It included the administrative actions
taken. She was going to beat Warren to death. Then
send him to therapy.
Dawn blinked awake, finding someone she didn't really know staring at
her. "Who the fuck are you?" she asked in a broken sounding voice.
"I'm Doctor Pigalli."
"No, I know her."
"I'm her husband."
"The last I knew, she had a wife." The man laughed. Dawn
felt along the link. Clint told her the guy was the doc's husband
and he wasn't bad. She let him go back to whatever briefing. "So
why are you here?" She frowned and shut it off completely because
it had sounded like he had just said the same thing. Which he'd
excuse as her funkiness from being sick.
He stuck her with something. "This will break the mental
connection for an hour, no more. It won't make you sleep
either." She glared but he smiled. "She noticed." Dawn
Over in SHIELD, Clint shook his head. "Dawn's broadcasting. She just woke up to a strange doc."
Fury nodded. "Can she often do that?"
"Like when she had the migraine," Clint said.
"Oh, that. Fine. She okay?"
"Dr. Pigalli's husband has her."
"I thought she had a wife," Natasha said.
She nodded. "That's fine then. Is there any update on the little warped genius?"
"He's going to therapy according to Pepper," Coulson said as he walked
past the table. "I'm heading out to gather him for her." He
handed Fury the report and got sent through the Stark satellite.
He walked down to the range building, pausing in the doorway.
"Boys, can I have Warren?" They nodded and smiled at him.
"Thank you. Warren, we need to have a slight discussion." He
walked him off. "Your original girlfriend weaponized some flu
samples that were in virology," he said quietly.
"She was turned off."
"She got jealous that you had two news ones, which are also turned off
at the moment until we can make sure it can't happen again."
Warren whimpered. "Stark Tower has ninety-eight percent of the
people in the infirmary. Including Dawn."
"Oh, no," he moaned. "You're going to kill me."
"No, I'm going to order you to therapy. Clearly, your first
girlfriend had issues that she got from your programming. You will
be going to therapy with a group that handles geniuses with
issues." Warren looked down. He walked him off. "They
actually run a very well respected intake facility for geniuses that
have lost themselves or have had psychotic breaks. SHIELD has
arranged an open placement for someone in Stark Towers to need it.
"Probably Tony Stark," he admitted. "You are not that bad.
Yet. So you will be going to therapy. You will be going
twice a week, every week, and I will personally be overseeing your
progress." He stared at him. "As well as Pepper and Doctor
McKay. If you disappoint any of us, that bed will be yours.
Am I clear?" he asked quietly and calmly.
"Good." He patted him on the arm. "Stark has ordered all
three of your women shut down until you are in a more stable spot and
their programming can be looked over for other aberrant possible
actions. That way it can be corrected. They're going to be
in a safe room and can plug in but will not have power cores." He
nodded, swallowing. "Depending on what your therapist says, you
may be able to talk to them. I'm not sure if that's a good idea or
not while you're all under review." He gave his arm a
squeeze. "The therapist you'll be working with will be here
tonight. Your first session is tomorrow. We're not bringing
you back to the building because it's under quarantine until Tuesday
probably and there's a really good chance you'll be beaten to death by
more than Pepper Potts. A lot of the scientists are under
medication that means they can't have caffeine."
Warren shuddered. "They'd kill me for that."
"Yes they probably will. Since you will be here for a few weeks
working on this project anyway, you can start your therapy here. I
do not want to hear that you're being uncooperative or that you're
trying to get around her, making it a game. Understood?"
"Good." He patted him on the arm he had been holding.
"You're free to go back to work but consider yourself confined to the
temple's grounds until you're taken back to New York and then you're
going to be grounded to the Tower. I had to pull a few favors to
keep you out of SHIELD's jail today." He stared at him.
"I won't disappoint you, sir."
"Good. Go back to work. Xander said you've been very helpful
to his training methods." Warren nodded, trudging off. Phil
looked up, spotting Xander watching. He smiled.
Xander strolled down. "We all knew he had a few chips in his core processor," he said quietly.
"Doctor McKay is quite impressed with how they learned things like
jealousy." He smiled. Xander smiled back. "Dawn's
"I know. I have a health sensor on her."
"Wonderful." He shifted closer. "Should I arrange it for the other two?"
"No. I think they'll help each other and hold Warren steady enough. For now. If Warren loses it no clue."
"I'll take that into consideration." He looked around.
"Bia's plantings have really helped cheer up the grounds." Xander
smiled. "Thank you for the help with the twins. They're
actually sleeping all night now."
"It's supposed to happen." He patted him on the shoulder. "I
can hear Fury grumbling something about the trio." He took him
back and smiled. "Here you go, one super agent." He
disappeared, going to check on Callia. "Hey, sprout."
"Uncle Xander. Daddy's sick."
"He has the flu. A lot of people have the flu." He sat down
in front of her on the rug. "Want to learn what I did when I was
She beamed and nodded. "Do you have songs that teach you things? I like those."
"Some." He held up his hands. "We're going to do the hand
patting thing in this pattern." He showed her. She practiced
it a few times then he slowly repeated the number song that he had
learned in Norse. It grouped them by how they related to each
"I don't know that language."
"I'm going to teach it to you so someone else can talk to Uncle
Thor." She grinned and learned with him. After a few rounds,
he translated it into english. She squealed and they went a few
more rounds of it. Then he went back to Norse. She could
repeated it back after a few more times. He changed it so they
were doing each word at a time in norse then english.
"Do we have words for penguins? I really like penguins."
He put up a projection of a map. "Penguins come from the south
pole. Asgard and all of us come from up here, above Europe,
sweetie. We have polar bears, elk, and bilgesnipe." She
looked confused. He put up a picture, switching to animals.
That had a learning song too. A lot of younger Asgard couldn't
read back in the day. It was only half that read now. That
was something he and Alana had agreed needed to change.
"Are Jackalopes real? I saw them on the Monty Python movie with Daddy."
"Well, a few got created but they don't happen naturally."
"Oh. Are they mean like on the movie?"
"Not if you get them really young and you raise them right. It's a
little bit harder than raising rabbits though so you should probably
start with one of those." He grinned and created one for her, and
the cage. She squealed and pounced him. Carrot got found a
nice spot on her bookshelves. They played with him for a bit and
she learned how to take care of him. Carrot would need brushed,
fed, watered, and cleaned up after and she had to do that herself
because Carrot was her responsibility. She vowed she would.
Xander even taught her how to scoop rabbit litter. She grimaced
but that was what you did when you owned a pet. They went back to
the learning games. She was learning a lot of new things
today. Her daddy and aunties would be *so* proud.
Tony woke up to his daughter sitting on his chest. "Why are you in here? You'll get sick."
"I won't get sick. That's why I had icky shot, Daddy." She
smiled. "Hands up." He looked confused but did it for
her. She showed him how to clap and he nodded, letting her show
him what she had learned today.
Thor walked in with a milkshake for Tony, Jane had said it would make
him feel better. He smiled at her. "You learned those from
"I did!" She squealed and hugged him, taking the milkshake to
drink then hand her father. She let him help her show her
father. In both Norse and English.
"Wow," Tony said, sipping his shake. "That's really handy."
She switched to the animal one, which tickled Thor. He could teach
her a few more verses in it. That made her happy. Then she
brought out Carrot, who had been sleeping on the foot of the bed, safely
out of kicking range. Carrot went into her lap. "What's
"That's Carrot. I'm learning how to take care of him so I can have a Jackalope some day." She grinned.
"I can see it's a rabbit," he said. "Has Gertrude seen Carrot yet?"
"Yup, and I showed her I knew how to feed and clean up after him
already." She grinned proudly. "She said I'm getting very
big and Carrot's a great first pet."
"Yes, they are," Thor agreed. "My first one was one of my
goats." He settled in to tell her about his goats. They
pulled his official Chariot and were some of his best friends at
times. There had been plenty of years that he spent more time with
his goats than his family. He did miss his goats. Maybe
he'd summon them down or have Roque or Xander get them for him.
Tony watched his daughter wrap another guy around her fist and squeeze
to make sure his heart went all mushy. He looked at Carrot; he
hadn't had a pet when he was younger. This would be a learning
experience for both of them he guessed. "We don't have stable room
here or at SHIELD for them," Tony said, earning a sad look.
"But," he took a sip of his shake. "You could see if they could
stay on Atlantis with John or at Xander's temple."
"I had not thought of that. Bia would probably love my
goats." He smiled at Callia. "Then Carrot could visit with
"That'd be really cool, Uncle Thor." She hugged him. "Do the county one again?"
"Sure." He let her lead off. It was a good job. He'd
have to relearn some of the other ones to teach her with. And
eventually his own children.
Bia looked up then at Xander. "Thor's missing his goat friends."
Xander pointed to the left. "There's a nice big, bare spot with
bushes and trees that can house a small shed for the two spoiled goats
of doom and sled pulling." She laughed and went to check on it,
putting up a shed for them. She knew how big the goats were
because she used to sneak goat-back rides when she was on
Asgard. She did clear some of the brush and moved part of
the jogging trail out of the way. She put up a fence with a nice
sign saying that they were Thor's goats. She sent Roque to get
Roque gave her a dirty look. "His goats bite."
"He wants his goats. Is that really too much to ask?"
"Take John with you." She manifested some rope with a smile.
He huffed but he couldn't really refuse Bia anything or she'd make his
life a living hell. She had in the past over not passing the
vinegar. Took nearly a decade for the pranks to quit. He
grabbed John from a meeting with O'Neill. "Getting Thor his goats
and they bite him less than me. Be back in a few." He and
John disappeared. They headed for the stables, which were a
mess. They stunk. "Alana!" he bellowed. She came
jogging out. He pointed. "Your bitches are lazy.
There's no stable hands but the bitches."
She looked then around. "I'll be fixing that later. Why are you up here?"
"Thor wants his goats," John said dryly. She pointed. "They got loose?"
"Aye. I'm going to turn the rest loose there once they're
gone. They bite." The guys nodded, going to herd the goats
to a point where they could hitch them to the leashes. Then they
took them to the temple. One tried to kick and bite. Alana
went stomping inside. Two minutes later, Valkyries and others who
had animals out there went fleeing for their lives before their animals
were eaten for dinner one night. The two sick ones got excused and
Alana took care of theirs.
One didn't get taken and she hunted that one down, taking her book from
her. "Being able to read and liking it does not mean that you
can't take care of your own pegasus," she said with a point.
"Now." She nodded, getting up to do that. The Valkyries and
others were scrubbing that stable by hand until she was satisfied it was
finally clean and the animals could be put back after they had a good
One of the headwomen of the kitchen came out. "It's time for them to serve."
"Screw the warriors! They haven't been taking care of their other
responsibilities. It'll do them good to get their own mead and ale
tonight." The headwoman gaped. She stared at her.
"I'll tell 'em myself." She walked in there. "The girls are
all busy with chores that should've been done earlier. If you
don't like it, starve. You're not too weak, too sickly, or too
dumb to get your own drinks and food or else we never would've gathered
you. If you whine, then you starve," she announced, staring around
the hall. Everyone nodded. "Good!" She stomped back
out. She had to oversee some chores apparently. It was
another duty for her. It had probably been assigned to another
lazy ass inside.
Odin blinked, looking at his wife, who nodded she agreed. "She's in a mood tonight," Odin decided.
"The stables were nasty, All Father," one of the warriors said, handing
Odin the platter of meat for cutting. "She took it upon herself to
enforce chores from what we saw earlier."
"Who was over that?" he asked his wife before cutting into the elk.
"I believe you were as you haven't assigned it yet." Odin
scowled. "I'll have someone make sure to oversee the
cleanliness." He nodded, eating a bite as he cut more off.
The warriors carried it off for the others to grab some food. Odin
cut another because one was never enough in the hall.
Roque reappeared in front of Thor. "The goats are safely chewing
on bramble bushes at Xander's," he said dryly. "Alana took over
the stables because they were nasty. Yours were outside and could
"I shall later. Thank you and Xander."
"Thank Bia and John. She made me and John do it." He gave him a pointed look before disappearing.
Thor smiled at Callia. "Bia is a very strong goddess. You women should always be strong and know your mind."
She nodded. "Some day I learn how to box with Happy and kick butt like Auntie Dawn."
"Not exactly," Tony said. "But you're getting self defense lessons
in case you need them." He patted her on the shoulder, all he
could reach. "Have your Uncle help you put Carrot back in his
"I can do so," Thor agreed, helping her down and taking the rabbit to
carry. Carrot was a bit big for her to carry at the moment.
It was a fifteen pound white rabbit with a few brown spots. She
only weighed about thirty-five pounds herself.
Tony waited until he was alone to finish his milkshake and smile because
his daughter was learning something that had taken him sixteen years to
Pepper walked into the nursery, smiling at Gertrude, the nanny.
The backup nanny was there too. "What's wrong?" They
pointed. Callia was telling her rabbit a story. "That's
sweet. Who got you a bunny, Callia?"
"Uncle Xander." She grinned. "This is Carrot. Carrot,
this is Pepper." She beamed and wiggled. "You're both
She squatted down. "He's a very sweet looking rabbit. Does he like stories?" Callia smiled and nodded.
"We feel she's a bit young," the backup nanny said.
Pepper smiled. "I had a dog by her age, ladies." They
slumped. "Callia has to learn to take care of Carrot herself, the
same as I had to learn to walk my dog."
"Of course. Carrot's mine and I have to take care of what's mine,"
she said, looking serious. "Even if scooping poop is nasty."
"Yeah, it can be, but rabbits don't poop all that much." She
hugged her and the rabbit. "You let us know if you have problems
taking care of Carrot, like he's up too high."
"I can. I need bags for the poop."
"We can get you some." She looked at the cage setup. "That's
not very big. We'll get him a bigger one so he has more room to
hop around." Callia beamed and nodded. "Remember, if he does
something on the carpet you have to clean it up too. Rabbits
can't control when they go, like the twins can't use a potty yet.
They just go when they have to go."
She looked around the carpet. "Eww, but I can do that. Do I use a towel?"
"Paper towel." She handed it to her and helped her move Carrot,
who was a bit hefty. Callia cleaned it up and tossed it into the
trash can. Pepper showed her how to use the spray stuff to degerm
the rug. Callia beamed. They settled in to read to her and
her bunny. The nannies were looking disappointed but Pepper stared
at them. "It's great for a baby genius to learn how to handle
more delicate things and responsibility," she said bluntly.
"I suppose," Gertrude admitted. "Why a rabbit?"
"It's a good first pet, will hopefully last more than a few weeks, much
longer than goldfish, and it's better than a hamster because you can
play with bunnies."
"I guess." She made sure the cage was stable and Callia's little
step was in front of it. At the end of the story, Callia put
Carrot back. "Once a day, you need to make sure he has food,
water, and you've cleaned up after him," Gertrude said, looking at her.
She nodded. "I will before bedtime."
"That's a great thing," Pepper agreed. She smiled. "It'll be a good thing."
Callia paused. "He trip with us?"
"No, if we're out of the city I'll have someone feed and clean up after him, but only if we're not here."
"Okay." She smiled. "Daddy build a cage?"
"I'm sure he can," she agreed with a smile back. "That'd be a
great project for you two." She cheered and ran out to tell her
father that. Pepper stood up. "It's great for kids to learn
how to take care of something," she said quietly. "Especially
"It's not like she's spoiled."
"Yes, but we're going to make sure," Pepper agreed. "If I know
Tony, he'll put together a much bigger cage with a bigger doorway for
her to use." She walked off. "Thanks for letting me know,
"Yes, ma'am," they agreed. Then sighed, staring at the
rabbit. They guessed it was better than her getting a
sibling. Geniuses really needed to be given plenty of attention.
Callia walked into the caf that night, settling in beside her Uncle Bruce, who hugged her. "Gertrude nap."
"We can get you dinner," Rodney said since he and John Sheppard were at the table with him. "What do you want to eat?"
"Beyond tomatoes?" Bruce asked. "You have to have more than tomatoes tonight."
She pouted. "Orangy stuff?"
"No, you can't have that while we're sitting with Rodney." She
started to pout. "No, listen," Bruce said firmly. He had
seen her on a pouty fit and the cafeteria didn't need to see one
tonight. "You know that sometimes people get sick from
food?" She nodded, her nanny had said that's why she couldn't eat
candy with her. "Well, Rodney." He pointed at him.
"Gets really sick at oranges and all those sort of fruits and
peanuts. He can't have either one. So you can't eat it
around him because it could make him sick."
"Oh." She patted him. "I sorry you get tick."
"It's something you get used to. They have hamburgers." She grimaced and shook her head.
John smiled. "They have lamb bites." He let her taste one of his.
"Can I have that and matos?"
"Yes you can," Bruce agreed, smiling at her. "I think that's a
great dinner." He got up with her to get it for her. She
pointed. "No, that's grapefruit and that's an orange type of
fruit. Sorry. Next time they have it if Rodney isn't
around." She shrugged. He carried her plate and her glass of
milk back to the table, getting one of the booster seats too. She
grinned and hugged him. "Thank you, Callia. You're such a
sweet girl. What did you do today?"
"I learned songs from Uncle Xander on county and animals. In us
language and Norse. Uncle Thor was really happy and he taught me
more." She grinned, wiggling some. "Uncle Xander gave me
Carrot too. I have to take care of Carrot all by myself so I can
have a jackalope. Just like on the movie." She beamed and
dug into her dinner. "He told me about his goats."
"Roque and I got his goats down to Xander's temple," John said with a grin. "They're huge goats."
"That's okay. Carrot's a really big rabbit. Nearly as big as I am."
"That is a big rabbit," Rodney said, smiling at her. "Did you play
all day?" She grinned and nodded. "Good. Some day
you'll miss playing." He patted her on the head. "Chew with
your mouth closed."
"Oops." She looked at the meat. It was in big pieces. She carefully floated the knife up to cut it.
"No, let me," John said, catching the knife and taking her plate to do it for her.
"I didn't realize," Bruce said quietly.
John smiled and shrugged. "It's cool, Doc." He finished
cutting it up for her and she grinned, digging in again and being more
mannerly. "Good job." He dug into his own dinner. She
was happily nibbling when Dawn came in.
"Dawn?" Bruce called. "Why are you out of bed?"
"Hungry?" she guessed. "Food." She pointed.
"They'd bring you food."
She frowned. "Nah-uh." She got some soup and went back to
bed. She still felt really rotten. She found Natasha coming
in and hugged her. "Soup."
"We got you some nice egg drop soup."
"Better soup," she said, putting that aside. She found Clint in there setting things up. "Better soup."
He smiled. "You're still half out of it, aren't you?" She
nodded, climbing back into bed at their prompting. "Here, we
brought you good soup." She beamed and kissed them both then dug
"What happened?" Dawn asked between gulps of soup.
"Warren's first girlfriend," Natasha said. Dawn winced. "She got jealous of the new ones."
"Ah." She sighed and groaned. "Ow. That's going to be a
mess." She drank some more. "Aren't you two eating?"
"We ate on the way over," Natasha said, smiling at her. "You have to spend another night in here."
"'Kay, I guess," she sighed.
Clint sat on the foot of the bed. "Did you realize you basically forced the bond wide open earlier?"
"I thought I shut it off."
She sighed. "We need a door."
"We could, yes," Natasha agreed, sitting down in the visitor's
chair. She crossed her legs. Dawn was staring at them.
"Eat. You are in no shape to appreciate more than soup
tonight." She smiled slightly. Dawn nodded, going back to
drinking. "How would we do that?"
"I have a bland idea but nothing great," she admitted. "I need to look in the book that I got Clint."
"There were ways of putting in specific accesses," he agreed. "I can pull the book for you when we get back."
He nodded. "Nothing Avengers related though."
"Okay. I should probably take that medicine again so you guys can't hear me and I can't distract you."
"We weren't going to ask," Natasha admitted. "Just to do some of the exercises for shielding."
"I'll do both." They grinned. "So you guys go be glamourous
super spies and stuff while I get better and hopefully look and feel
better for the business school graduation party." They stared at
her. "It's basically like the prom for the business school.
They get up there, tell us who was the best at it, the most likely to
succeed, all that. Then it lets prospective people hit on us about
future jobs. It's a formal, slightly less than black tie
event." She finished her soup. "Thank you for dinner."
"Welcome," Clint said, grinning at her. "We might be back in time."
"You'd be bored shitless talking to people who want to be Stark."
"Could be," he admitted. "But we can go for you."
She smiled and shook her head. "As much as I like seeing you two dressed up, no thanks. It's three hours of boring."
Pepper walked in with a muffin for her. "The business school
prom? It is." They smiled at her. "I'm going. We
really need a second higher level intern for the labs."
"I can do that," Dawn complained. "Not like you give me tons to do most days, Pepper."
She smiled. "Tony wanted to talk to you about an MBA."
Dawn quirked an eyebrow up, looking at Natasha. "Isn't that the classes I've been taking?"
"I thought so," she admitted.
Pepper stared at her. "You little minx," she said with a
grin. Dawn grinned back. "You know, this means he's going to
have to renegotiate your contract." Dawn cackled. "That's what I
was hoping you'd say." She smiled and patted her on the
foot. "Six more days."
"Am I walking in the spring? I don't think they hold a commencement for any other time."
"They don't as far as I know. We'll see. If you want to you
could." Dawn shrugged and got her other soup to drink. "Then
we'll figure that out." She patted her again. "Xander got
Callia a *huge* rabbit she named Carrot."
"I'll learn to love Carrot." She smiled. "How huge? I
saw a news article on a forty-five pound bunny breed that people are
looking at for dinners."
"Fifteen or so I think."
"Then I hope it won't grow too much bigger than she is." Pepper
smiled and let them talk. "So anyway, I have to figure out what
"That cream ruched dress," Natasha said. "If it's not inappropriate."
"It's probably a good choice. For guys it's good suit or tux."
"Then it should be fine." She smiled. "We will be back by
then. It shouldn't take more than four days." She stood up
and kissed her on the forehead. "Rest, get better."
"I will. You two be safe." They smirked and Clint took his
own kiss before leaving. Dawn settled in to do the meditation
exercises. Which blew the link open. She groaned.
Being sick sucked. She pulled herself slightly out of her body and
it was easier to see why. Something was infecting one of the
Keys. She got to work on that problem. It's probably why the
ear on that side hurt.
Dawn was finally not sick, had swallowed the link between them so it was
fully shut at the moment, because she did not want to put them into any
sort of danger, and now she was about to have a break on her second day
back at work. She went down to check on the people in the
tinkering lab. "Guys, need anything?"
"Coffee," Tony called with Rodney. Bruce just smiled at her.
She sighed but made them a pot; she had switched out the ten cup coffee
maker in there with a two gallon maker percolator she had found in
storage. She also washed their cups on them. She left once
it was started, heading back toward lab 7. She leaned in.
"Andrew, guys, want to take a break with me?" She walked in.
"What's that? The new metal mix?" she asked, looking over
Warren's arm. "Shit, quit that!" She grabbed the torch from
him. "Did you not read anything on this!" she demanded.
"That energy metal burns like napalm only it does it for *years*,
Warren! You can't do that! You could've been killed!"
Andrew and Jonathan were looking scared. "Dawn?" Andrew asked.
"I know a piece of that has been burning for ten years. A tiny
sliver of a piece of it." The other two geeks backed off.
"Guys, go get Stark from tinkering. JARVIS, do we have any sort of
reaction starting in the blocks?"
"Unfortunately a slow one has started and it's a gas it looks
like. And perhaps something else. I'm not completely sure
what." Jonathan and Andrew ran out.
"Were you trying to die?" she demanded. "You didn't look at any of the stuff we have on it? Not a bit!"
"It doesn't matter."
"It does so matter! You could've blown all of us up!" she shouted
back. "Including Stark, McKay, Callia, Pepper! Me! You
and the boys! Hello! Not a great idea." He glared.
She pulled a ping pong paddle from the game room and hauled him over to
beat his ass with it until he started to cry. "How dare you
endanger everyone in this building, if not this block!" she
shouted. "You have no idea what sort of force those could explode
Stark rushed in. "What's going on?" He looked at the blocks of mixed metal. "JARVIS, why are they smoking?"
"He had an arc welding torch on it," Dawn said, handing him over. She looked. "JARVIS, is it still fuming?"
"Okay. We need containment," she told Tony simply. He
nodded, calling for that. She carefully wrapped layers of magic
around the blocks. "We need the meteorite storage, boss."
"That's in Malibu," he said.
"I know." She wrapped some more around it because it was eating
through her spells. "Now, like right now right now." He saw
where it was trying to leak and called for some more help. He
handed Warren to McKay. "JARVIS, we need to hit Malibu
"Be damned," Dawn ordered. She glared at Tony.
"Override it," Tony agreed, putting in an access code. They both
got beamed. "Okay, Dawn, just a few more feet," he said, walking
it and her. She was holding it, adjusting the magic so it'd quit
being eaten. "Is it toxic?"
"It's sentient. It's fighting the magic. It's absorbing the
energy and tasting it. I swear I can feel something from it."
"We need the heavy duty containment which is in the basement." He hit the nearest alarm button. "C'mon."
"This would happen the day of the business thing."
"Yup, sure does," he agreed. "How's your ear? I know you've been dizzy."
"Still dizzy. My jaw's swollen but I'm covering it pretty well,"
she quipped. They got onto the elevator and headed down to the
basement containment cells. She walked it into there and backed
out slowly once it was on the exam table. The doors shut.
She cut the magic before it could be reabsorbed by her. She did
not want that in her. She took a deep breath. "Okay. I
left all the magic in there." They watched as it ate through
it. Special scientists came down.
"That's the energy metal and that new super silver metal mixed," Tony told them.
"It's not the energy metal. That's fuming," Dawn said. "And I
still swear I can feel something from it. It's not alive but it's
One of them scanned them. "Let's get you to quarantine for a few hours," one of them said, putting her in a bubble.
"JARVIS, scan that," Tony ordered.
"She's correct, the super silver, as you've been calling it, has some
sort of spore residue. That's the only thing that could be putting
off that feeling."
"Scan the samples of the pure stuff," Tony said.
"I am." He paused. "It does have the same spore, only it feels more alive and less tempered by the heat."
"Check the ones she has at home," Tony said more quietly. He
hadn't told Dawn that he had a full sensor array in her apartment in
case something happened.
"The earrings are mixed, one contains some spores and the other
doesn't. It looks like they were killed. The necklaces is
full of it."
"Is that what causes the vibration?" Tony asked.
He concentrated a beam on the sample. "I believe it may be, yes," JARVIS said.
Tony nodded. "Full containment on that. We have no idea if
that spore is harmful or not. I'll have someone bag up her two
pieces of jewelry made in it." He jogged off, going up to the
infirmary. "Dawn, the spores are what creates the vibration Cap
"That's interesting," she said from behind her shield. She ran a
hand over her hair. "I haven't worn the necklace into the building
or SHIELD since that day because of the scanners and systems going
screwy. I only wore it out to dinner the other night."
"I can have that place checked," he promised. "Need anything?"
"My shampoo and all that so I can shower and my nail polish so I can do
my nails. Might as well assume I can go tonight and get
ready. It'll take me less time later."
"I can have that sent. What color?"
"Okay." He got that sent. Pepper knew which shampoo and soaps she used. "I need a report of what happened."
"I left you guys and went up to see if they wanted to take a break with
me, get some fresh air at that little café across the
street. Even though Warren's grounded that's within security
range." He nodded. "I walked in while asking and saw what
Warren was doing so I took the torch. I screamed at him. He
told me it didn't matter if we all died so I grabbed a damn paddle from
the game room and beat him. He's fully gone, Tony. His eyes
were that scary, not exactly seeing the same reality you are sort."
He nodded. "Andrew and Jonathan?"
"They had to be more exposed. JARVIS found it was fuming up from the heat."
"Okay. We've got them in quarantine I'm sure."
"Don't separate them. Buffy saved Jonathan's life back in high school."
He nodded. "I saw that. Rest. I'll have them send in
stuff for you to do and a few magazines." He got sent back to the
building. He went to look over the lab. "Did JARVIS tell you
about the spore?"
McKay nodded. "I had Tara bag up the pieces she had in it."
He leaned on the table. "What was he trying to do?"
"Commit suicide," Tony said. McKay slumped. "Dawn said he
said it didn't matter if we all blew up. That his eyes were
showing he snapped."
Rodney nodded. "He has to go tonight."
"He is. Andrew and Jonathan?"
"Together in quarantine with Sheppard talking to them," he said.
"Good." He walked off to talk to them. "Guys." John
cleared out to give them privacy. "Did you know what he was
doing?" Jonathan opened his mouth. "I don't care about
anything else at the moment. Did you know he was trying to blow up
the building." They shook their heads. "Okay, that's
good. Did you have any hint he was depressed?"
Andrew nodded slightly. "We called his therapist but she said it
was probably normal. We failed him and he's our best friend,
"You didn't! You did not fail! You cannot control someone
else, Andrew. Not at all. The only one you can control is
yourself unless you suddenly get Dawn-level magic and start doing mental
control spells." He slumped but nodded. Tony grabbed a
personal force shield device and got let into the containment
field. "Dawn found that the super silver had spores that are
alive." They stared at him. "She felt it trying to make
contact. Did either of you?"
"I don't have any empathy with my tiny bit of magic," Andrew said. "Was it activated by that?"
"No. Her necklace shows it. It's what caused all the sensors
to go nuts." He relaxed. "Here, Jonathan, scoot over next
to him. You're about to shake apart." He helped him
over. He saw the hesitant looks. "There's not going to be
anything said, even if it was a fact, guys. I would kick so much
ass it's not funny."
"We're not," Jonathan said.
Tony shrugged. "Why do I care either way? Right now you need
the basic comfort of someone willing to hug you and I don't hug.
There's no way I'm letting Callia anywhere near here in case the spores
love her like everyone else does. Pepper's not here and Dawn's in
Malibu's quarantine so you're the only ones that hug." They
relaxed. "Right now, holding someone or something comforting is
all good. That's all that is. If you two need to do some
stress relief stuff, the infirmary staff isn't going to say a
word. You wouldn't be the first." They smiled
slightly. "Just cuddle in. I need a report on everything
you've seen Warren doing and everything you've done with that mix.
How did you make that mix?"
"He did," Jonathan said.
"Okay. Did he log anything in?" They shrugged. "We'll
make sure. For now, rest, comfort each other, calm down.
He's going to Massachusetts. I'm putting him on the first plane up
there knocked out." He walked off. He ran into Fury.
"Not right now," he said, walking around him. "Coulson?"
"Dawn slammed him into the infirmary magically, strapped him down, and
stuck him with a needle full of thorazine," Phil said bluntly.
"How is she?"
"Just in case quarantine. That super silver has some sort of intelligent spore that can absorb magic."
Tony nodded. "Get him into that bed you guys had ready for me as
soon as humanly possible. If he's here in an hour I'm going to
"Where is it being held?" he asked.
"Malibu's super containment system in the basement lab. Pod
3. The whole meteorite project staff and our lone virologist on
staff are with it. She's doing her nails." He walked off.
"Good," he agreed. "Can we look at your emergency procedures later?" he called after him.
"Yes. You, me, and Barton are doing it later. Dawn's actions
earlier pointed out a flaw that I thought was a better idea. I
was clearly mistaken." He walked onto the elevator and stabbed a
"Okay," he said, calling up there. "This is Agent Coulson with
SHIELD. That young engineer who is being seen off-site is now
being moved on-site. He tried to suicide bomb Stark Towers."
He walked into the infirmary. "No, he's presently sedated.
Someone paddled him then locked him to a bed and stuck him with
thorazine. No, no intended dosage. A full needle of
it." He looked, someone had pulled it out and put it on the
bedside table. "Looks like a forty cc needle maybe? Thank
you. Yes we can. I'll have him on that flight or a private
one. Give me five minutes to arrange it and I'll call back."
He hung up and looked at the director.
"Use the chopper." He walked over to where the other two of that
trio were huddled together. One was sniffling and he had to calm
himself. "Did you know he was going to do that?" he asked.
"We called his therapist because he looked depressed," Andrew said. "She said it was normal, sir."
"I see. What did he say his plans were today?"
"To make a new bullet design or a new power core for something bigger,"
Jonathan said. "We're programmers more than engineers."
Coulson walked up behind Fury. "Boys, we know you weren't involved. Where's his notes?"
"In his head," Andrew said. "He doesn't do a journal or anything. Is he really badly off?"
Coulson nodded. "If he's not snapped fully he's in serious
trouble. Like being considered a terrorist trouble." They
nodded, slumping down together. "You two calm down. Tell us
if you need something to read or eat. I'm pretty sure you guys
"No, we're okay," Andrew said. "Dawn was coming in to get us for a
break but we had just taken one in the big break room downstairs.
She paddled him."
Coulson smiled. "If she hadn't I would have." They
nodded. "Rest. It'll be a few hours to make sure nothing
hurt you." He walked off. "Chopper is heading this way,
Director. I'll escort him up there myself."
"Do so." He walked off, going to find Stark. "Spore?" he asked as he walked in.
"JARVIS, put up the scans of what they've seen so far?" Tony asked. They all looked at it.
"I've seen something like that in a meteorite," Rodney admitted.
John nodded from where he was standing. "That's what we found in
that one the Asgard towed in for being so unusual and dense. I
read that mission report."
"It's at Area 51," Rodney told him. "We have no way of comparing it because I doubt they did a single thing with it."
"Fuck that shit," Fury said, pulling out his phone. "It's Nick
Fury. You people have a dense meteorite that got pulled in, had
some sort of strange spore. I don't know which of the three it
John took the phone. "It's Colonel Sheppard. The Asgard
towed it in. The spore is oblong and possibly sentient." He
handed it back.
"That narrowed it down to two," Fury said. "Stark Labs needs it to
compare to one they just found. We have three people in
quarantine." Rodney winced. "It's in secure containment."
"It's in the meteorite containment system," Tony agreed. A new
result popped up. "JARVIS, is that an energy reading from the
"Yes, it is," the AI said. "It is measurable even with the decay
of the energy metal thanks to it fuming up. The bonding process
decreased the stability of it. The fumes are not good for a
human. It's leaving behind what would seem to equate to charcoal,
which is stronger and more durable."
"I want kept informed and on how Dawn is doing," Tony ordered.
"She's doing her nails presently. They're trying to figure out why she has a slight case of vertigo."
"Her ear," Tony said.
"I'll let them know that." A pause. "Dawn has said that it's
actually a slight infection in the Key that rests on that side and is
affecting her ear."
"Is it the spores?" Rodney asked.
JARVIS paused. "She's testing against it. She doesn't
believe so. She thinks it's something else. Something
metallic but not this sort."
John held up a hand. "Let me see if I can help her." He flashed over there. "Hey, Dawn."
"Can you manifest a ball of power with that in it?" She looked at him. "Like focused drawing?"
"I have it blocking off the link because they're on a mission," she said quietly.
"Okay. Though I think they're back. Coulson's
back." She nodded, concentrating. He fed her
instructions and she slowly did it. The little ball of glow was
gathered. "How much of it is that?"
"About half and now I'm more dizzy." They gave her a shot and she winced. "What's that?"
"Dramamine. It works well for vertigo," the nurse said. She handed John the ball of power on a sample plate.
"I'll bring this back to Rodney and Stark." She nodded.
"Finish getting pretty." He flashed back, carefully balancing the
little ball on the plate. "Stark." He took it to put under a
machine and test it. "She said that's about half and she's more
"Good to know," he said. It came up with something. "That's a metallic residue."
Rodney looked, frowning. "That's a coating the Asgard use on their
ships. How did she get exposed to that? Xander!" He
appeared. "How did Dawn get exposed to that?"
He looked up while sensing then at him. "There's a good sized
chunk on the hell carrier's underside. Roque and I both noticed
it. It's what draws us to that spot to land instead of anywhere
else in the hell carrier unless we concentrate."
"That is odd, we are all drawn to that spot for landing," John agreed. "I never noticed that."
Fury considered it. "There's an energy sensor below that by a few
decks, just under the holographic tiles. Could that be it?"
Rodney snapped. "That is it. I remember the design and we
used a reflector made of Asgardian metal." The two gods
nodded. "How did it get on her?"
"Meditation," Xander said. "Osmosis. The Key will naturally
suck up native energy to keep itself strong. It usually clears
itself fairly easily though. Dawn had about as much hellmouth
taint as I used to carry but within two weeks of being out of the town
it was gone. The Key had exchanged it for the native energy."
"So...." Fury said. "She can't come back?"
Xander smirked. "You need to get rid of that. She's not the
only one that does that. Pregnancy does it because looking at it,
it's right beside your water containment and filtering system and has
leaked." Fury slumped. "Sorry." He looked at
Stark. "If we have time I can take her to let her bleed it out
somewhere more pure."
"She has that business school party tonight."
"Dirt. She needs to go to that." He bit his lip. "Okay, well, afterward." He disappeared.
Tony moved to a workstation, pulling up ideas to find a way to easily
scan people. "We can do it with one of the bug scanners if we
resonate it on a different frequency." He calibrated one and put
it on a table. "JARVIS, this goes to Agent Hill with a note what
"Yes, sir." He beamed it over. "She has it and is using it on herself first."
"In humans it might not cause any problems," John said.
"Yeah but Thor's not human. Steve's a bit more than human.
Bruce genetically is just off human like you are." John
winced. "That's right beside the meeting table." He walked
off. "Let me calm down others."
"Check his girlfriends," Rodney called after him. "Make sure he didn't tell them."
"Am." Tony waved.
John looked at Rodney, dropping his chin. "Okay," he decided.
"Indeed." They put things up. The continued decay of the
metal was still being shown. It was turning into something they
could really use. "I say we patent this process in his name and
use the funds people will pay for it to pay for his care," he decided.
"I could like that idea," John agreed.
Fury looked at them. "Who would want it?"
Rodney pointed. "That's harder than the full shell of a tank,
which is multiple layers. That sample's barely a millimeter
thick." Fury moaned. "A lot of people would like it."
"Especially if you could find a lab grown version," John agreed.
"True." He got to work on that equation. "We can I believe
but one of the trace elements we'd have to use is not available down
here. Which would benefit the SGC's coffers as well."
"That'll salve the hurt of all those jackasses who want to take our
funding," John agreed. "JARVIS, can you tell Tony that idea
"Yes, sir, and he's agreeing. He said he'll get to work on the paperwork later."
"Thank you." He looked at Fury. "Saves medicare paying for him."
"Privately paid means that no one can take him out to use his genius,"
Rodney said. "They won't let anyone take him out. If
medicare or some other insurance was then they could allow him to be
used to pay for part of his bills. They did it to one and he
nearly blew everyone up."
"Then yeah, let's get him paid for by himself," John agreed. "Let
me go check on the boys." He left them to it. Andrew and
Jonathan had to be really upset.
Rodney looked at Fury. "Shoo. I don't need someone staring at my brilliance."
"Fine. Whatever." He left to find Stark again. He
didn't like that plan but he didn't want the chance that the US would
sell him to a foreign government to cover some debts.
Dawn walked into her apartment that night looking like she was
exhausted. Pepper followed her in. "Sorry," she called,
knowing that they were close.
Natasha came out of the study. "What happened to your jaw?"
"Stupid infection in the Key that's resting on that side is screwing
with my ear. The vertigo made me trip into a wall and the wall had
a baseboard there," she said, rubbing it. "I'm going to
camouflage it." She walked back there. "I need to retouch my
nails." She found the nail polish pen she needed and retipped
that nail then sprayed on the setting spray. A few minutes under a
lamp and she was better. Pepper was looking at the dresses.
"I'm wearing that one ruched one."
"You have it in lavender, cream, and black." She looked.
"Cream." She pulled it out to check over. "No stains and not
wrinkled." Dawn smiled, getting up to strip off and put on all
Clint walked into the doorway and stared. "Are you already covering it?"
"Once I get the dress on so it won't smudge." She slid into the
bra that made her look her most perky and fixed it so it was
strapless. Then the garter and panties. The sheer stockings
and they were clipped. She stepped into the dress and let Pepper
help her zip it. "There." She sat down at her vanity to work
on the cover-up job. "Pepper, where's your dress?"
"In the car."
"Getting it," Natasha said, going to do that.
"Let me hide while you two do girl things," Clint said, heading for the kitchen.
Dawn popped her neck and looked in her jewelry box. "What's this box?" she called.
He came back and held it up. "We found it for you."
She opened it and sniffled. It was a silver filagree heart
pendant. Inside was a picture of the twins, and a group
picture. She kissed him then Natasha. "Thank you."
He put it on her. "We thought you might like that for the special
events." He left them so they could finish getting ready.
Natasha looked at Dawn's hair. "At least it's clean."
"Decontam shower," she admitted.
"Why? Who blew up what this time?"
"Warren tried to blow us all and himself up," she said dryly. "With alien metals that have intelligent spores."
Natasha stopped her brushing to stare at her in the mirror. "Really."
"Yeah. That super silver stuff." She looked.
"Tara has it bagged up and it's in my safe," Pepper said. She went
into the bathroom to change. "Dawn, we have to be there in a
"I know." She got to work camouflaging the lump. "If I had
the time I could detox the Key fully but it'd take like twelve
hours. Thankfully I have tomorrow off because my contract
officially ends tonight." She grinned. "Bun cage?"
"The silver one will go." She helped her pull her hair back.
Dawn did her make up and Pepper came out. Natasha zipped her
up. "Are you sure you don't want us to come?"
"You'd be bored to death," Pepper assured her. "We will be and
we'll have Tony snarking at everyone." She slid into her shoes,
then looked at Dawn's shoes. "Screw it, I'll ache." She
found a pair she knew were a bit big and would go with her dress.
She winced. "That'll work." Dawn smiled. "Brushed your
"I keep forgetting that step." She went in to do that and came out
to reapply her lipstick. She sprayed a bit of perfume into the
air and walked through it. She checked. No stray hairs, no
bad wrinkles. No earrings so she corrected that on the way out the
door. She grabbed the right purse, transferred her purse gun, her
taser, and her ID badge, plus the invitation. She blew a kiss at
Clint. "We're late or I'd mug you."
"I'll expect it later." They walked out together. Clint looked at Natasha. "How boring are those?"
"Extremely. It's pimping yourself for a job offer." Clint
shuddered. "Stark will redo her contract tomorrow. She has
"She can sleep in and hopefully cure the vertigo then." He took a kiss. "I made dinner."
"We'll appreciate it later? Or should we just save her some?"
"Let's save her some. I didn't get lunch." Natasha laughed
but set the table. They settled in to eat and it was nice.
Dawn strolled in, smiling at the man taking invitations. "Dawn Summers and my boss, Pepper Potts."
"I see you both on the list. Top floor, ladies, to the lounge."
"The spinning room?" Dawn asked with a wince.
The guard nodded and pointed. "He has dramamine for those who it might make ill."
"I already have vertigo from the flu. Thanks." She walked
over and he handed her some and a glass of ice water to take it
with. The waiter at the top of the elevator took it. "Thank
you," she said quietly. They walked in together and she got her
usual glass of sparkling water. They found Tony standing off to
one side looking indulgent as someone nagged him about something
stupid. She walked over, wincing. She tried facing the other
way, it was worse. "Okay, so we face this way and spin with the
room," she quipped.
Tony looked over. "You look really nice."
"Pepper had me save it for a special occasion. Can't get much more
special than finally being out of school." She smiled at the man
nagging Tony. "Hi, Dawn Summers."
He shook her hand. "I heard you were Pepper's version of herself
for Tony," he said with a smile. "What are your plans now?"
"Being the biggest Stark herder ever." She smiled. He laughed and left them alone.
Tony looked at her. "I'll offer you ten more dollars a year and
less lax rules on the teasing clothes at least twice a month," he
She patted him on the cheek. "You're sweet but I'm worth more than ten bucks."
"You are, yes." He sipped his champagne. "This room has always bothered me."
"I'm wondering if the force of the movement is easier near the center pole," she admitted.
"It should be." They walked that way. Dawn walked up beside a
very green young woman and helped her that way. "Force is
stronger on the outer edge of the spin," Tony told her.
"A few of the waiters have dramamine," Dawn said quietly.
"Thank you, Dawn. I get so motion sick sometimes." She went to find one.
Tony stared at his assistant. "So, more than ten extra bucks? Because we already pay you outrageously."
She smirked. "I'm think I'm pretty fantastic and worth it."
"I think you are too," Pepper admitted, sipping her own wine.
"There's the dean of the business school." They turned to look at
him. Dawn had to shift so she was facing the direction of the
spin. Pepper rested a hand on her shoulder to steady her since she
was wobbling. Tony had noticed, because he did things like
that. He got her a chair and made her sit.
"I have to go up and the certificate thingy," she said quietly, sipping her water.
"That's fine. Walk slowly," Pepper reminded her. Dawn nodded.
The dean of the business school smiled. "It's wonderful to see
another group of you go out into the world, spreading our winning
lessons and successes into more and more businesses. I'm sure
we'll all be very pleased with the successes you'll create and mentor in
another generation." The group clapped. "For tonight, we're
here to celebrate the students, both undergraduate and at the masters
He smiled around them. "And a few who were exceptional beyond
that." That got another few polite claps, including Tony.
"Let's start with the more general students." He read off a name
and her major, bringing her up to get her diploma. They had them
on hand, they didn't have to wait for them like the high school's.
Dawn smiled when she noticed Tony staring at her because he had just
passed her name. The list of those ended and he moved to his
second pile. "We have the double majors." He read off those
few. Dawn sipped her water.
Pepper patted her shoulder, looking confused when they passed by Dawn's name. Tony was starting to get an idea though.
The dean was smiling. "Now we come to a few incredibly sensible
individuals who went for a compressed MBA due to work experience credits
and other credits." He read off two names. "Dawn Summers,
Double Major in Business Finance and Accounting, minors in International
business and business management. Who, by the way, is the fastest
to get through the program thanks to a lot of work credits working for
Stark Industries and going full time for two years." The room
clapped. She stood up and walked up there. He smiled.
"Sorry, I know the room spins."
"I had the flu last week," she said with a smile. "Thank you, Dean Henricks."
"You're quite a credit to us, Dawn. I'm glad you were so
pushy." She smiled and went back to her seat. "Now we have
the straight MBA placements."
Tony stared at her. "That's going to blow the MBA clause out of
the contract," he said. "Which is an automatic raise." She
smirked. "Brat." She poked him and he finished his
champagne, getting another glass. The spinning of the room was
getting to him too. Finally the formalities were over with and the
oozing of offers could begin.
Dawn was at the bar getting some new water when the first slimy person sidled up to her. She knew him. "Mr. Hammer."
"Miss Summers. I've heard that Stark mentored you."
"Pepper mentored me while my mother was sick." She paid for the
water and sipped. "Thank you, very cold." She smiled at the
asshole who was probably on the run from Phil and his coworkers.
"I'm really not looking for any offers. I have a number of
excellent fellow students who might be though."
"I can offer you a lot. Including additional education in languages and international business."
She smiled. "Mr. Hammer, I speak eight languages at the
intermediate level." He gaped. She smiled. "Beyond
that, I'm quite happy at Stark." She walked off, going back to
where Tony and Pepper were. "How did he get free?" she mouthed to
He looked over her shoulder. "I have no clue," he said quietly. "What'd he offer you?"
"More lessons in languages and international business."
He shook his head. "I don't think you need more languages. You read ten of them."
"I do, yes." She smiled at Pepper, who smirked back. "I'm
still improving my Russian." Tony coughed, shaking his head.
"Feeling better?" he asked.
"No. The ear is killing me. I have the feeling if I don't relieve it soon it's going to pop."
"Ow. Infirmary if it does," he ordered.
Justin Hammer was coming over. "So, you're sure you want to stay
with such a ...notable company? There's many people that don't
like Stark's methods or his habits."
She smiled. "Mr. Hammer, my sister is a slayer. I understand
Mr. Stark's drives towards perfection very well." The man
sneered. She smirked. "I can also throw you off this
building if you try anything against him. He did make sure I was
trained to help protect myself from the leches that some men become."
"I heard rumors he was making you his future wife."
"I doubt the one I'm dating would like that." She smiled.
"But thank you for your interest. I doubt I'd leave Stark at all
unless something catastrophic happened. My niece would miss
me." Hammer nearly swallowed his tongue. "I would suggest
that Melody would be a good fit. She's majored in International
business and has three languages under her belt natively, including
Thai. Where I believe you have a subsidiary company."
"I might try her then." He walked off.
Dawn sipped her water. She rolled her eyes and popped her neck. "Ow."
"Sit," Tony said. "We can guard you."
"I doubt most others are going to look this way," she said dryly but she
did sit. The room was seriously getting to her. Her ear
felt like it should burst open and spew the Key. Tony got led off
by someone he knew. Pepper was talking to a new assistant that
would help in the Malibu office. Dawn relaxed.
An older man walked over. "Miss Summers, quite impressive."
"Thank you, sir." She smiled. "I believe you run Ramethoen."
"I do, very good research." He smiled. "I'm in need of a
personal assistant. I have a very good package of benefits.
Including full health care coverage for domestic partnerships."
She smiled. "I'm fairly certain I'm staying with Mr. Stark."
"I offer starting pay at ninety thousand a year for MBA's," he offered.
"That is impressive."
"401K and other private insurance and investments through our
office." He smiled. "A lot less traveling as I don't deal
outside of the US and the UK."
"That's a wonderful offer and right now, it's my second choice," she
admitted. "I have ties at Stark. Including my niece."
"I heard." He smiled. "Do consider it."
"I will. Thank you." She shook his hand.
"You're quite welcome." He looked around. "Are any of them interested in electronics or weapons?"
"Melody, who I suggested Mr. Hammer talk to, though I know she'll blow
him off. She's an International business major but her father is a
Captain in the Marines. Ummm...." She looked around and
pointed. "There he is. The extremely lanky Mr.
Williams. Two of his brothers are doctors. His mother's an
engineer, chemical, and his father is a doctor."
He looked. "That's an interesting mix."
"He has a sister in Harvard but she's undecided in her second year." She smiled. "Either one might do you well."
"I'll definitely consider them. Thank you for the
recommendations." He smiled and walked over to him. Hammer
annoyed him and he was clearly annoying the young woman. He'd
approach her when she got free. Best not to become an enemy.
Dawn sipped her water. She smiled at the teacher staring at her. "I told you I could do it."
"You did. What happened to your jaw?"
"I had the flu last week when it hit Stark Towers." She
winced. "Vertigo from it. I fell into a wall and the
basebord cracked my jaw earlier. I wouldn't have come if it wasn't
He smiled. "That's fine, Dawn. Did you suggest Mr. Williams?"
"I did. He does electronic and light weapons research and designing for the US military."
"That's a good thing then. I know he was thinking medical but there's not many of them."
"All I see are insurance." The teacher smiled and patted her on
the arm. "Thank you for your indulgences with all the
"It's no problem for the exemplary students." He walked off
happier. She had been a bit of a problem but she had always found
ways around things on her own.
Tony walked over. "What did he offer you?"
"Ninety a year, 401k and investments if I wanted them, including domestic partnership healthcare."
Tony stared at her. "I didn't pay Pepper that much."
"Inflation," Dawn quipped.
"Clearly." Pepper walked back over. "He offered her ninety a year, Pepper."
"I'm worth that much," she agreed with a smile. "He probably won't go over seventy, Dawn. That's what I was making."
Dawn grinned. "I won't be too mean."
"Good," Tony said, laughing at her stuck-out tongue. "Keep it up
and I'm going to put in there that you have to help your niece take care
of her new rabbit Xander gave her."
"I probably would anyway. I never had a pet."
"I think you have one now," Tony teased.
"No, we got her changed back and she hid from me most of the time."
She smiled. "He's not a pet. He swears up and down that's
not his job description." Pepper giggled. She looked over as
someone came off the elevator. "You did not have to come," she
said with a smile.
Natasha walked over in the black version of the dress Dawn was
wearing. "It's very important to you. We should be
here." She casually brushed a strand of hair that had snuck out
off her cheek. "Did you get some sort of honorable mention?"
Dawn showed her the diploma. "I shocked Tony so much he nearly choked."
Tony gave her a dirty look. "This means I have to spend her day off renegotiating her contract."
"After I clear this ear thing," Dawn said. She looked at Natasha. "Dinner?"
"We're not planning anything special. Tonight we're having lasagna
when you get home." Dawn beamed. She brushed that piece of
hair off again. "Your hair is very wispy. You overwashed
"Decontam shower," she said.
Natasha nodded. "At least you got to use your own shampoo. My last one I couldn't."
"She didn't," Tony said. "She got it afterward."
"That makes more sense." She helped her up and over toward the windows. "What is he doing out?"
"We were wondering that."
"Wonderful." They ignored Hammer while she noted he was out of
prison. Fury was choking. That was great. They shared a
look and Natasha smiled. "Clint is stretched out reading."
"That's fine. I doubt his bra itches." She shifted a bit, earning a laugh. "It does."
"They do." They walked around to talk to some of the other
students. Natasha had noticed how Dawn kept herself facing so that
was fine. It meant they were near the exit when they heard an alarm
going off. "Go," she ordered.
"No, you go after Hammer, I'll do my job and guard Pepper," Dawn said
quietly, heading back. "Alarms going off," she said in Tony's ear,
on her way to Pepper. People came off the elevator. There
were a few personal bodyguards in the room. They stopped most of
them. Two came up the stairs. They were going to hit Stark
and Pepper. Dawn stepped in front of one and tripped them.
She shoved the other one back through the door and followed. The
guy tried to hit her so she blocked it and knocked him down the
"This ear thing blows," she muttered. She followed.
The guy tried to run so she magically tripped him over the railing,
making him groan and whimper when he hit the floor fifteen stories
down. "Then next time don't make a woman chase you in heels.
Do you know how much these hurt?" She was walking back up when
someone came running out the door. She tripped them, making him
roll a few stairs. She stared at him. "Mr. Hammer."
She helped him up. He pushed at her. She slammed him into a
wall. "Problems with your plot of the day?" An agent came
down the stairs. "Agent Sitwell."
"Miss Summers!" He stared. "Can I have him?"
"Sure." She handed him over. "He's messing up my
nails." She walked back up there, getting some new ice
water. She walked over to Pepper. "Mr. Hammer was going to
"That's because his people were trying to kidnap me." Dawn looked
at her. She waved a hand. "They got most of them. I
only had one to get and Natasha got him when he pulled a gun."
"I should've done that."
"You're barely able to stand," she pointed out. Dawn shrugged.
Agent Sitwell walked past them. "Miss Summers, would you know
anything about the man wearing the same style of clothes as the
kidnapers who happens to be on the floor?"
"I believe he tripped while running and fell over the railing."
She smiled at Hammer and sipped her water. He looked down.
"Have a good night, Agent Sitwell."
"You as well. Congratulations as well. We're all very proud
that you did your bachelor's in two years." Dawn showed him the
"Work credits and passing the tests." She smiled.
"Then that's even better." He walked off chatting about Dawn to
annoy Hammer. Agents were getting the unlucky person who had
'fallen'. Though he did wonder about her jaw.
Natasha walked over. "He fell over the railing?"
"Probably trying to do the cheesy dropping between floors."
"It's a spiral staircase."
"No one ever said people like that were brilliant," Dawn said
dryly. That earned her a smile. "Pepper, can we escort you
to the car?"
"No, I'm fine. Tony's still around here. We'll be over
tomorrow to talk about the contract. I might be early, I have a
doctor's appointment at two." She winked. "Have fun handling
the ear and celebrating." Dawn smiled. She tucked her
diploma under her arm and the purse off her wrist. They walked out
together. Pepper sighed. "Barton would look so wicked
between them in a tux."
Tony walked up behind her. "Don't even think about it. I
think he's a bit busy with the two of them," he said in her ear.
She smiled. "We're going over for dinner to discuss her contract."
"Sure, we can do that. I'll get Callia to take care of her rabbit
beforehand." He sipped his champagne. "Fell down over the
"Huh. Can't be too smart to try to jump on a spiral staircase," he
said sarcastically. They walked off to go home. They had a
bit of celebrating to do. Joyce couldn't be here, she was too weak
to be at something like this, but they were great stand-in parents for
Dawn. They had proved it over the years.
Dawn walked in first and let Natasha get the door. She pulled down
her hair. Clint was staring at them. "Someone tried to
"I was wondering why you looked rumpled."
"Two muggers outside who just *had* to think I was too pretty to kill
them," Dawn quipped. She straddled Clint's lap and took a
kiss. Then rubbed her ear. "They're coming for dinner."
"Cool. Go take care of that."
"Twelve hours of meditation."
"Never mind. Dinner?" She smiled and they settled in to eat. It was a great graduation night.
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