Pissing New and Old Old Ones Off.
(I Hate You, You Hate Me, We're a Big Happy Family - yes, channeled Barney)

Phil Coulson looked up as Dawn walked in on her day off, jaw still swollen.  "Shouldn't you be fixing that?"

"I got ordered to come do a sitrep."

"Ah."  He took the diploma and smiled at her.  "Good work."  She beamed.  "I'll hold this."

"It's going on Mom's wall."  She walked off.  She walked upstairs and onto the main office area.  "Morning, Agent Hill."

"Good morning, Dawn.  I thought you were off today."

"I am.  I got ordered to come do a sitrep."  Agent Hill shook her head.  "He in?"  She nodded.  "Thanks."  She walked in.  "Good morning.  You took me from the meditation to cure my ear?"

Nick Fury looked at her.  "I could be nice and offer you a job."

"I promised my mom I wouldn't unless I was desperate."

"Fine."  He held up the report form.  "I believe you need to do that."

"It's not in your email?"  He looked and groaned.  She smiled.  "Did it after breakfast.  Anything else, Director Fury?"

"No.  Go home, fix your ear."

"Thanks."  She strolled off, taking her diploma back from Phil.  "I was efficient."  He smiled.  She went to sit with her mother and let her cry on her over doing so good.  Then she went to meditate.


Dinner came and went and no Pepper, no Stark.  Natasha had called and Tony told her 'ten minutes'.  Pepper hadn't answered.  Dawn was nibbling on her dinner and not really concerned.  She had talked to JARVIS, who had dropped something on Tony's foot for her.  Callia was pouty too according to the AI.

Dawn did get her ear healed and it was nicer.  She could stand up straight and not feel like she was leaning.  She finally had enough about one in the morning.  She kissed her lovers, who had fallen asleep on the couch, and put on her sneakers.  One in the morning in New York was no place for heels.  She strolled out, calling a cab on the way down.  It got there a few minutes later.  She got into Stark Tower and went to her locker, packing things.  She went to the lab floor and frowned.  Her log in wasn't working.  So she picked the lock and walked in, handing over her ID.  "I'll be over to visit her in two days."  She walked off.

"Dawn?" he asked, staring at the ID badge.

She looked at him.  "What?"

"What's this?"

"My ID.  You had me taken out of the log-ins.  My contract is up as of last night and there's been no negotiating going on.  I think you sent a pretty clear message."

"Not what was going on."  She put the bag down.  He realized what it was.  "You think I'd ....."  She looked at the clock then at him.   He winced.  "I got lost."

"So did Pepper apparently."

"No, I told her to come without me."  She shook her head.  "Think she's safe?  JARVIS, where is Pepper?"

"At home, Mr. Stark.  She said they'd see Dawn in the morning."

Tony almost winced at the formal name calling.  JARVIS was upset with him too.  "See, we were going to...."  Dawn stared at him.  "No one told you that?"  She shook her head.  "Crap."  He moved closer.  "No, I'm not firing you.  You're getting a new contract as soon as I can finish this little beam for Fury."

"I turned down his attempted offer before he got it out.  Said I promised Mom."

"Good!"  He stared at her.  "Seriously?"  She nodded.  "How many have you turned down?"

"Sixteen as of dinner.  All over seventy, so I'm expecting yours to measure up in babysitting time."

"Yeah, it does."  He nodded, considering it.  "Why?"

"Someone got my transcripts of the language stuff I took out of one of the other schools."

He winced.  "That wasn't there?"

"No."  She smiled.  "Actually, I did that through somewhere in Rio.  Never even saw the campus but they offered languages I wanted as well as the business classes I had to transfer in since they weren't offered online up here."  She leaned her hip against a table.  "A call, anything?  You normally would."

"You're...  Last night it hit us both that we're not stand-in parents anymore."

"Since when do parents, stand-in or otherwise, stop at eighteen?  Or nineteen?"

He blinked.  "How would I know?"

"Are you going to do the same to Callia?"

"No!"  She stared at him.  "Point.  Actions are always louder with you."  She nodded.  "I'll buy you shoes."

"I don't need more clothes.  Do you know how many times they nagged that I had more than a backpack of clothes?"

"How much did you keep?"

"About a carry-on worth with some extra space for some of their stuff too."

"You know what, how about I beat them?"

"Don't even try," she said dryly.  "They can both wipe the floor with you."

He nodded.  "Possibly true."  She grinned.  "Fine.  Are you better?"

"Yeah.  Have been for hours now."  She stood up again.  "All up to you, boss."

"I'll be over at breakfast.  You're not getting that much of a raise."

"You know, by my last contract, with an MBA I should automatically go up ten grand."  She smiled.

"I know, which sucks since that's over what Pepper made.  She might pout."

"I doubt it.  She's making CEO money now, Tony."

"True."  He sighed and looked at her.  "Fine.  All the babysitting you want without it being forced most of the time so it won't interrupt your sex life, all the nagging you want, and a five grand raise."


"Seven?" he demanded.

She smiled and nodded.  She walked over to his computer and got into a few things, pulling them up.  She let him see it.

He stared then at her.  "Damn it."

"My area of genius isn't in engineering or math.  Though I do find accounting to be soothing in a lot of ways."

"Do they know that you did this?"

"They knew I was taking the language classes.  Clint picked the school and gave me ideas of which was most useful."  She hopped up to sit on the worktable.

"Damn."  He looked at her.  "Fine, ten."

She smiled.  "Seven."

"Shut up."  He gave her a nudge.  "And go home.  It's really late and I'm sure they're not sleeping well."

"They were on the couch.  Callia's going to pout you to death."

"Probably," he sighed.  He got back to work.  "I do not like that thing."

She expanded it for him.  "Easier?"

"Much."  He finished the repair and she shrank it.  "Thanks."  He smiled.  "And take your badge back.  You'll get a new one when you sign in.  JARVIS, why is her log-in not working?"

"HR took it out earlier due to the end of her internship."

"I'll be over after I yell at them," he told her.

She gave him a hug.  "I'm taking the stuff home to do laundry."

"Sure."  She strolled off.  He got back to his repair job, considering things.  He walked over and emailed that to Coulson.  If Pepper didn't know, and her boyfriend and girlfriend didn't know, then he didn't.  Or Joyce probably.


Clint groaned, getting up to answer the door.  He stared at Coulson then looked at the couch.  "There's not a chance in hell she's going to run and why are you already dressed for work?"

"We're running tonight."  He walked over and leaned over, pinching Dawn's nose closed.  She woke up and swatted at him.  He smirked.  "You took how many language classes?"

"I like languages.  It's my area of genius."  She yawned and stretched.  "Why?"

"I'm going to make you translate for me sometimes."

"I don't work for SHIELD."

He smirked.  "Stark works for SHIELD."  He patted her on the head.  "We're having dinner."

"Okay."  She looked at the clock then at him.  "You're late."

"He called in for a late meeting.  It's my day off."  He smirked and walked off.  On the way he called the lab.  "Stark, were you supposed to be somewhere this morning?"  He hung up.


Tony looked at his phone.  "What?"

"Breakfast with Dawn," JARVIS reminded him.

"Shit!"  He tossed down his screwdriver.  "I'm going."

"You might want to stop and get the contract I printed," the AI said. 

Tony grabbed it to look over, nodding at it on his way out the door.  "Happy, going to Dawn's."

"Yes, sir.  Should we stop for danish or anything?"

"No, with my luck there'll be an attack and she'll quit."  He got into the car, drawing out some changes.  Seven, really?   They got there and he got out, weathering the glare from Natasha, who was dressed for a run.  "I was still fixing something that Fury said was critical."

She looked at him.  "She's in the gym.  I will gut you," she reminded him.

"Not my intention!  We had this talk at one."

"I know." 

He headed inside to the gym.  Steve was in there.  He watched Dawn jogging in shorts and a sports bra.  "Don't we have a shirt rule?" he complained.  He walked over, taking her earbud out.  "Shirts?" he asked again.

She looked at him after dropping that earbud into her cleavage.  "I'm fully covered.  Even Cap isn't blushing."

"No, that's more covering than some joggers I've seen," he quipped.  He went to the other room to work out so they could have a talk.  It looked like one of those sort of talks to his limited experience.

She turned off the treadmill, jumping off it as it stopped.  "What's up?"

"I was still working this morning."

"That's not my fault.  Were you cursed?" she asked dryly.

"I shouldn't have taught you sarcasm after all."  He handed the contract over, leaning on the bars of the treadmill.

She looked it over.  "I thought we agreed to seven."


She went back to it, finding the last few things.  "Can't."  She pointed at one.  He looked and struck it out.  "That's going to be a pain since that's in all Stark Industry contracts."

"I doubt you'll ever be an industrial spy," he said, staring at her.  "Even if she might.  I'd forgive you for your girlfriend's BS if that happens."

She smiled.  "I'm told it's a sucky job and everyone hates you."  Stark nodded that was true.  "I have rights to whatever I create and find?"

"If you find a new mineral in the storage area and no one else claims it, it's yours.  Standard in all the contracts."

She looked at him.  "For the scientists."

"You never know.  You could work with Andrew to find a way to make magic and tech work better together."

"He can already do that.  He doesn't like to talk about magic because of his older brother."

"I know he's dead."

"He was a black magic mage and kinda tortured Andrew a few times."

"Oh, I did not know that." 

She nodded, going back to reading.  She saw the last one and smiled.  "Okay."  He handed over a pen.  She signed it and handed them back.  He signed it.  "When do I start again?"

"I'd say today but I doubt it'll happen."  He rubbed his forehead.  She tested him.  "I know, I'm still sick with the flu."

"That's because you made him turn them off."

"I know.  This is my third dose of meds soon."

"Talk to Tara?"

"I'm going to."  He straightened up.  "Want a week off?"

She shrugged.  "I can do that."  He smirked and walked off.  "Thanks."

He looked at her.  "I would've been there."

"Any idea where Pepper is?"

"She was crying that you were all grown up all night on Callia."  She sighed and nodded.  "We'll see you in a few days.  A week from Monday, Miss Summers, and no teasing clothes."

"You said twice a month," she shot back.  "It's in there on page three."

"Not the first day."  He smirked and headed back to the car.  He handed the contract over.  "That way if we crash you can still hand it to HR and make Pepper quit crying."

"I can do that."  He  drove him back, with a stop for something to eat and coffee.  Once they had parked, Tony took it back and went to HR.  Happy smiled.

Tony walked in and smiled at his head of Human Resources.  He handed over the contract.  She looked and then at him.  "That's her official one.  She starts a week from Monday."

"That's a lot for a bachelor's."

"She's got an MBA.  We didn't know that."  He walked off.  "File it and make sure she gets a copy."

"Yes, sir."  She scanned it into the system, sending Dawn a photocopy for her records.  That meant she had to put Dawn back into the system.  It would mean she'd have to fill out all the forms again though.  She really did think Dawn was a bit strange and they had enough strange with Stark himself and his daughter.


Dawn looked around her apartment.  She had cleaned it.  Her closets were all organized again because Natasha had been on a cleaning kick.  She walked over to sort out things that she had worn to formal events.  A few she kept back because they were classic.  The rest she put into a zip bag and took to the charity that offered teenage girls prom gowns.  "Hi," she told the desk person.  "Formals?"

"Thank you, Miss."  She took it to do the receipt for tax purposes.  "Wow.  Actress?"

"Admin assistant."  That got a smile and she took the receipt.  She left, going to get groceries.  They needed a few things.  She carried them home in a cab and went up to the roof to stare across the city.  This really weird city.


Phil Coulson looked up from his paperwork as someone appeared.  "Yes?" he asked politely.  "Is there a problem or should I call Alexander?" he offered.

"No, we wish to talk to you," Zeus said.  He took him with him.  "You'll be back in time so Tara won't worry.  My wife would send me into the void if we upset Gaia's handmaiden."  He stared at him, looking his aura and others over.  "A suggestion was made about you, Agent Coulson."

"What sort?" he asked.  "Another demigod that needs help?"

"No.  The only one that needs help is Ares so he quits fighting with his half-brother."

"I can't even begin to judge that situation since I don't have all the facts."

Zeus smiled.  "Polite, thank you."  He nodded.  "You'll do."

"For....?" he asked.

"Alexander's being spread too thin."

"He doesn't seem bothered by it."

"Yes but it's wearing on him."

"I believe having a consort instead of a mate is wearing on him, sir."

"That as well.  That he can fix himself before my wife and Aphrodite get into it."  He nodded, calling Odin and the other Elders.  They stared at Phil, making him nervous but he wasn't showing it.

Xander appeared.  "All right, what are you doing?  I adopted Phil into my house, people."

"We know, and believe it was a good idea," Zeus agreed.  Xander looked confused.  "There's a subset of your own powers that you can't seem to get to."

"I get to most of them."

"You need someone to guard the various heros," Odin said firmly.  "That way they get nagged when they're dumb.  Where are my son's goats?"

"On the hillside at my temple.  Thor was missing them."

"I heard."

"He told Callia that he had seen more of them than of his natal family a few years," Xander pointed out.  Odin glared.  Xander stared back.  "Don't give me that look.  I agree."

"Whatever," Zeus said firmly.  "Thankfully you have no real natal house now," he told Xander.

"I have two.  They just don't respect me," he shot back.  He looked at Phil.  "He's already marked."  They smiled.  He glared.  "Phil, they're trying to make you take a Godhood."

"Excuse me?"

"The God Protector of Heros," Xander said.  "The Shield of SHIELD."

He considered passing out, which he had never done in his life, but kept his calm.  "I don't think I'd do good at it."  He didn't really want to be a god; this was one of those life altering events that he was not prepared for.

"Yay," Zeus said.  "It's our choice and not yours."

"I will not do good in it.  I'm not used to anything power wise, sir."

"Actually, you have one of the most loyal souls ever," Odin said.  "Much like my grandson."  He looked more closely then nodded.  "You'll do fine.  You do much of the job now without powers."

"This is so going to screw a few things," Xander said.  "He has mortal twins with Tara, Gaia's handmaiden."

Alana appeared and smiled.  She looked at the scroll, updating it.  "I see six lost their places."  She rolled it forward.  "Your son may be the first male valkyrie, Phil.  Your daughter is due to be gathered when she goes."  She stared at him.  "That way they're not lost.  Tara is going to become an eternal handmaiden."

"Tara and I aren't together that way."

"We know."  She smiled and pinched his cheek.  "It's a rare soul who can help a pouting demigod calm down.  I put my godhood behind him."

"We do all put our godhoods behind him," Zeus said formally.  He stuck the emblem on Phil's chest, making him flinch.  His half stuck.  Odin pushed in the other part, making it sink in.

"Guys, he's not immortal," Xander pointed out, fixing that before it killed him.  He grabbed Ares and took Phil so they could train him.  "Sorry," he told him.  "They nearly screwed up and killed you doing it."

"No, thank you, though I'm not so sure this isn't a curse."

Xander looked at him.  "Steve's on the pick up list of the Valkyries," he said quietly.  "Stark is probably going to ascend if he works at it.  Dawn's going to ascend, she's too powerful not to.  Pepper could.  Natasha's already marked as being picked up by the Valkyries.  That only leaves Barton.  If he wants to work at it, he can ascend.  Ascending is boring as shit because you're not allowed to interfere."

"I..."  He swallowed.  "This is not how I expected my life to go."

"Yeah, me either but you can't really pick and choose some things."  He hugged him, feeding him the extra energy he needed to steady himself and calm himself down.  Coulson nodded, taking a deep breath and letting it sink in.

Ares looked and finished sinking in the godhood emblem.  Suddenly Phil flinched and squeezed his eyes shut.  "We can teach you how to filter those and make them work for you instead of giving you a headache.  There's a lot of lessons you need."

"I guess I do," he agreed.  "Thank you both for helping me with this transition."

"It was us or Dite and Cupid," Ares said.  Xander shook his head.  "I know, you have a bias against love gods."  Xander nodded.  "Never get on Aphrodite's bad side."

"I'd never want to get on the bad side of any goddess, Lord Ares.  I saw how scary they could be."

"You're one of us now, Phil.  It's just Ares."

"Thank you."  They taught him how to move, how to use his powers, and how to channel prayers and energies. The last few lessons only Xander could teach him since they shared a duty and a House.  Xander took him to the scaffolding above the bridge of the hell carrier, where the Avengers were meeting in a bit.  Phil stared.  "What are those shadows?"

Xander leaned on the railing, looking at him.  "In any hero there's three seals.  Seals is as close as I can come."  Phil nodded, relaxing against a support pole.  "There's a destiny one.  Those of us who were born with one have one.  If you look at Thor, he has one."  Phil looked and nodded slowly.  "The destiny seal is a strong one but it's not totally indicative.  Prophecies are crap and we all know that."

"Okay," he agreed.  "The other two?"

"There's a reality one.  That they're actually doing the work."  That got a nod.  "If you look at Stark, that's what he has.  With a hint of the second one."  He looked over.  "The second one is emotional.  That you think you're a hero.  That one can be deceptive.  There's been a whole lot of people that thought they were heros and weren't.  You'll hear from them too."  That got a nod.  "If you look at Barton, his seals are a bit cranked."

"I can see that.  Interesting."  He moved back to the railing.  "What do I do now?"

"Now?  You're the one that helps when they fall, when they need an ear, the one that they pray to when they're overwhelmed.  You're part mother hen and part rescue service, or at least I am half the time."

Phil smiled.  "I do a lot of that now."

"You do.  That's why they picked you."  He smiled.  "Practice."

"I will.  The twins?"

"The list had them being in their fifties, Phil," he said quietly.  "The son may be the first male one because there's now more female warriors being acknowledged."

"Okay.  What's the other thing Ares said I had to learn?"

"Time stopping and flipping.  Not technically something we're *supposed* to do.  But damn handy if you need to get a battle you only heard about ten minutes ago that started hours earlier."  That got a nod, he'd had that in the past.  Xander showed him by getting him to the meeting before it started.  Phil smiled at how simple that was.  "Sorry, Zeus and a few of the Elders wanted to talk to him about demigods who might want to do something more than drink and slut around."  He disappeared.

Thor looked at him.  "Son of Coul."  Phil sat down.  Thor looked him over.  He knew.  "Was it a productive meeting?"

"I'm going to meet with them and see if any have the training or the desire to possibly make a new team or one for Europe."

Thor smiled.  "Then I pray you help them all."

Phil felt that prayer hit him and nodded.  "I hope most of them need my help."

Thor patted him on the arm.  "I think many could use a steady head nagging.  Many drink for more than meals."

Tony Stark stared at him.  He could faintly see a glow thanks to his sunglasses.  Two plus two still equaled four on this earth.  "Dawn signed her contract."

"Good.  When does she start?"

"A week from Monday.  She's trying to figure out what to do with her week off."  He smirked.  "I think she's going to see why Pepper was crying on my daughter instead of going to dinner with her."

"Maybe she'll get some new time on the beach," Steve quipped.  "She needs a new tan."

"Then Phil would have to break his toe again," Barton quipped.

"Quite possibly.  She has regained that weight and put on muscle beyond that."  Phil stared at him.  "A question was raised at the meeting.  They think that there's going to be a few demis who are going to try for ascension."

"McKay said it's boring," Stark said.  "Spending eternity watching and ranting at stupid things."

"There's other groups," Phil said.  "Some that go explore other areas."

Stark considered that.  "I might consider that.  Why was it brought up?"

"They were wondering if any of you were going for it as well.  I know, because Alana told me, that someone is on the Valkyrie list."  Steve gave him an odd look.  Phil looked at Natasha, who gave him an odd look.  He nodded.  "They're starting to recognize female warriors."

Xander appeared and sat down.  "Yeah, they are.  They actually think his son will someday be one of the first male valkyrie to pick up female warriors."  He looked at Natasha.  "Alana's looking forward to it too."

"I have no idea what to say about that.  Though I like it better than I like Dawn's idea."  Clint swatted her hard on the arm.

Stark looked at Xander.  "Why the interest?"

"Because the Ascended are factions of damn it and fuck me," Xander said bluntly.  "Then a third side of sitting on their thumbs and a few who go explore.  And then get into trouble and bring it here.  Which causes me hell."  He grinned.  "I can kick you into ascension if I have to, Stark.  You and Barton both."  He grinned.  Clint opened his mouth.  "There's no chance I want them to try to play 'she's mine' tug of war about Dawn," he said bluntly.  "With her luck, she'll draw one of our alien invasions.  Well, another one," he said, looking at Phil.  "Did I give you those notes?"

"No, you hadn't."  Xander flashed home and came back with a folder.  "Seriously?"

"From an ascended who talked to the spores.  Three races that are very dangerous and headed this way possibly.  A few more that aren't real nice and might not make us cows, roaches, or slaves."  He handed them down.  "And one that's kinda nice but a lot of people are going to freak out."

Phil looked them over, handing them on.  "Which ascended talked to them?"

"Daniel.  He's back up there and due back soon.  They pulled him for a problem member that was wanting to meddle."

"This globe of goo one?" Clint asked when he got it.

"Yeah, Daniel said they think 'no' is a fun game.  The rest of the universe blows them away whenever they get near women at the first sign of their inability to understand the phrase 'eww!'."  Natasha gave him a look.  She got the information sheet and glared.  Xander nodded.  "Yeah.  Them I'd say are annoying.  The others... more of a future apocalypse battle they think.  Oh, the spores *adore* Dawn.  There's places where their metal is made into crowns so they can help leaders make wise decisions based on the history they have seen."

Phil rubbed his head.  "Earth doesn't have too many queens like that anymore."

"Thankfully," Xander agreed.  "I used to cringe about every other crowning because bloodline does not always tell."

Fury got them last and looked them over.  "They like Dawn?"

"They'd like to form a crown and name her our empress.  They think she's smart, wise, cute enough to be a showpiece that would encourage others to like her and want to be her, and that she's able to handle idiot world leaders."

Fury looked at him.  "Really?"  Xander smirked and nodded.  "We'd never allow it."

"You notice those ones that want to turn us into slaves?  They'll only negotiate with a single world leader."  Fury slumped and glared.  "I can't fight in space and we don't have a Superman sort here who won't die in space.  So how do you want to do that?"

"We'll make plans," Phil said.  "Soon?"

"Could be anytime in the next century he thinks.  He thinks the raping goo globes are probably the soonest, they're the closest.  The nice ones are actually the farthest away.  I'm most worried about this one," he said, pointing at it in Natasha's hand.  "They're nearby spatially speaking.  The stargate goes within a few galaxies of there and they have their own form of transport something.  Daniel didn't know how to describe it.  They are looking for new places to conquer and make theirs.  They're not terribly technocratic but enough that they have light speed engines."

Fury nodded, taking that one to look over.  "That's bad," he decided.  "We can definitely start to make plans.  Is this why they wanted my agent?"

"No, they wanted your agent to talk to because how he helped Thor straighten his ass out, helped Dawn calm down, helped me with a few of my duties, helped John a few times with his, and Roque with his."

"Oh.  So the other demigods like him," Fury said.

Xander smiled.  "They're learning to like and respect him.  They're trying to put him for a godhood underneath me." 

Fury shook his head.  "I don't think that would work for SHIELD."

Xander smiled.  "It could mean that SHIELD worked.  Because you guys have a whole rebellion group going on that wants to use the heros to take control of the world from the lesser mortals."  He manifested a folder and handed it to him.  "One of them is a Star Wars fan and Bia caught it."

Fury looked at it, frowning.  "I heard we had a few people wondering if SHIELD was going to take some control."

Xander shrugged.  "I'd be more worried about a takeover bid.  That goo clone episode showed where the weaknesses within the group are.  They think Agent Hill is nearly impossible to get by but you're ... they're young and aren't seeing experience."

Fury looked at him.  "I've heard a few grandpa comments," he assured him dryly.

Xander smiled.  "Look on the second page."  Fury did and growled.  Xander nodded.  "Which is why they were thinking some of the demis are useless wastes that could use a job."

"I wouldn't mind if they really wanted to join the program and really train," Fury said.  Xander nodded.  "Including Sheppard if I can steal him."

"Doubt it.  He's about fifth in line behind O'Neill.  Him and O'Neill's successor Mitchell, people would walk through hell for.  If something happens those two are going to take over the SGC and keep it as whole as possible, because they have some of those too.  Even from Atlantis."

Fury leaned back, considering it.  "Is this a huge movement?"

"No one's sure.  They've probably got silent supporters.  I'm pretty sure that the groups involved only need a few each."

"They could," Fury agreed.  He considered it.  There were tight ties between them and the SGC, especially through Stark.  "Any in Stark's people?"

"Yeah," Xander said with a nod.  "A few of his scientists."  Tony snatched the folder to look for familiar names.  "Though not all of them are correct because they think Dawn would support them.  Dawn would probably stomp them flat."

"Dawn would stomp them flat," Tony agreed.  "They're listing her as a possible supporter?"

"She's powerful and gifted, underneath one of the few people who could take over in the style they want," Phil said.  "If they were going to name an overlord, it'd be someone like you, Stark.  You have power, connections, scientists, tech that others can't hope to match.  Even SHIELD would probably align with you to keep itself steady as a tactical move."

"You were the push behind the non-conscription votes," Bruce said quietly.

Tony looked at them and nodded.  "That's a bad idea though.  I'd ruin it."

"You'd be a figurehead," Xander pointed out.  "I can almost guarantee that they'd make sure Pepper stayed right where she was to make sure you'd be right where they wanted you."

"I've had someone try that," he admitted.  "And Dawn is Pepper's heir."  Xander nodded.  "Huh."  He looked around.  "Agent Hill, can I get a copy of this please?"  She took it to copy while she read it.  He looked at Fury.  "For right now I'm not going to take over anything."

"You'd better not," he growled.

"Look closer," Xander said.  "There's a second group that's their direct opposite.  That's after that tab."  Tony looked.  "They're not the conscription sort.  They're the send them to their own country so the rest of us are spared their fighting and evilness."

"That's got a lot of religious backing," Bruce said.

Tony nodded.  "I've gotten a lot of hate mail from their sort.  Especially after New York."  He looked.  "My head of HR is on there."

"Yes she is, and by scanning her direction I can see she really loathes Dawn.  And Callia.  Calls them both freaks."  Xander grinned.  "The same one that feeds her cinnamon candy."

"That'll stop," Tony assured him.  He handed it over to Barton and Natasha.  "Can we stop either group?"

"Sure, get the Pope to declare that metahumans are born that way because God knows they're needed," Xander quipped.  Steve winced.  "I heard.  I know you're not an abomination of science trying to take God's place."  Steve relaxed.  "He doesn't acknowledge that any of the demis exist either.  He calls Thor 'that alien'.  He calls me an abomination.  Though that may be because I nearly ripped down the Vatican during the fifteen hundreds during a battle to protect everyone."

"Damn," Tony complained, getting comfortable.  "So we actually have two bad factions of the same idea with different end goals.  For us to be isolated either on top or on the bottom of society."

"They don't want you in prison, for the most part," Xander said.  "They really want you guys where they can't see you, no damage gets done by any of you, that sort of thing.  There's a few that want you rounded up like they're Nazis, and most of them are modern day Nazi sympathizers who cloak it in God.  They say the same thing about gay people."

"I've heard and made sure nothing we do goes near anything that they like," Tony said.  "So, they'd give us Hawaii and let us all breed and fight there as long as stayed there?"

"Yeah, unless there's a world catastrophe then you'd be blamed either for helping or not helping."

"Look, we saved five thousand lives, but we had to leave your little isolation camp to do it," Barton said dryly.  Xander nodded.  "Sometimes humanity sucks."

"It does," Phil agreed.  "The majority aren't like that though."

"No.  It's probably ten percent on each side," Xander said.  That got a nod.  "The problem is that the ten percent in the places where they have access to dealing with their plans of stupidity.  O'Neill nearly had a coup one month.  The president wanted him to disband Atlantis and rip her apart to make an orbiting weapons platform.  O'Neill told him off and told his people he wasn't going to.  The fact that he tried to stop the ones that were going to take out the higher ups with the plans meant that they were going to do him too for standing in the way and trying to be reasonable."

Tony scrubbed his face.  "I heard about that.  He said he lost a lot of people he really needed to treason charges."  Xander nodded.  "And the president decided it meant that they were too headstrong."

"At which point in time I went to talk to the president and pointed out that they're the people protecting him and everyone else.  Do you really want to make your guardians resentful, hateful, and willing to stand by so a lot of people die.  Dad was not amused."  Fury shuddered.  "Then again, my stepdaddy feels the same way about SHIELD."  He smirked at Fury.

"We need all those groups to go private," Tony said.

"Can't do that with the SGC," Xander pointed out.  "They will claim Atlantis."

"We can get them moved to the World Security Council like we are," Phil offered.  "That would give them oversight but not as much."

"WSC is a pile of political shit," Xander said.  "And most of them are acting in their own interests instead of the world's.  If I had to deal with them instead of you guys, I wouldn't."  That got a mass of nods.  "I can see making a new WSC so it's right and protective and not political for the most part.  That way no one gets ordered to not protect against something that's going to hit the Middle East instead of Europe.  Because I'm pretty sure it'd happen right now."

"They've already tried to tell me where I can protect," Fury admitted.  "They're probably going to side with the ones who want the metahumans on top."

Xander nodded.  "It would give them more power.  Frankly not my strong suit."  He rubbed over his neck.  "Eww."  He flicked the spider off.  "I hate bugs."

"Dracula?" Barton asked with a grin.

"Yes," Xander said dryly.  "Dawn told you?"

"Yup."  He grinned.

Xander looked at him.  "You're so going to be ascended no matter what you want."  Clint laughed.  "If it comes down to it, John and some of his people can retreat to my temple or Atlantis and have her take off again. You guys can't fly the hell carrier indefinitely.  You need things like fuel.  Atlantis can go back to Pegasus or some other nice planet and farm if they have to.  The rest of the SGC can do that too."

"They call it the alpha site," Natasha agreed.  She frowned.  "I don't see how we can overtly fight this."

"This isn't an overt fight," Phil said.  "This is a warning that we're going to be used as pawns."  He looked at Xander.  Who nodded.  That explained a lot about why he now had powers.  He was to protect the people who were in the middle.  The Shield of SHIELD.  He got it now.  He sighed.  "There's going to be people trying to manipulate missions, pick and choose which is worthwhile."

"They have forever," Clint said.

"Yes, but now it's more important that you don't get caught in it," Xander quipped.  "They can't get you two to take out world leaders anymore."

"This is a regime change inside a regime change.  It's the French revolution using superheros," Tony said.  Xander nodded and grinned, disappearing.  "I don't want to be an emperor, they don't wear clothes."

"We'd appreciate you continuing to wear clothes," Natasha said.  "Would this go back to why we three were captured?" she asked Phil. 

Who nodded.  "Probably.  You're the least noticed and noticeable of the Avengers.  Dawn wasn't on the rolls at all, almost no one knew about her.  If Stark goes missing or Thor, people notice and wonder.  They probably wouldn't take Doctor Banner because they couldn't control him.  Your gifts and strengths were good for their purposes and no one worried that you disappeared for a few days."

"Which means that we have to be careful about manipulations.  Speaking of, why was Hammer out of SHIELD custody?" Stark asked.

"The judge let him go," Fury said, looking at the list and pointing.  "Him."

"Then I'm glad Dawn turned him down and stopped him from escaping again.  And kicked the other guy down the stairs or whatever."

"Over the railing," Natasha said.  "How is Pepper?"

"She's still crying and I don't know why."

"I'll talk with her," Natasha said, looking at Phil.  There was something different about him.  "Are we having dinner?"

Phil smiled.  "I'd like to help her celebrate the new contract if you'd host us and the twins of doom."

"Sure," Clint said.  "Callia can come over too."  Tony nodded he and the baby would be over.  "We can use that penthouse roof and cook out.  There's a nice grill up there."

Bruce smiled.  "It's nice to be on the ground in a homey place."

"It was a great apartment," Clint agreed with a smile.  "She good?"

"She's wonderful and she's thinking about trying to start back to work."

"I wish her luck," Fury said.  He looked at his team.  "We'll handle it as it comes.  If you hear of a rebellion coming....  Let us know.  If you see it starting, stomp it flat."  They nodded.  He walked off.

Coulson looked around.  "Bring our own food to cook or do we want to pool it?"

"Pool it," Clint said.  "It's payday."  The meeting broke up.

Natasha stopped Clint in the elevator before he could move to push a button.  He let her lead the way this time.  "Something just happened," she said.

"He's glowing."

"I did not see that."

"I'm in the right angle to see him out of the corner of my eye.  Stark noticed."

"You think?"

"I'm pretty sure and I'm pretty sure why."  He leaned over to hiss in her ear.  She smiled.  He smirked back.  "Pick out dinner?"

"Fine."  She walked off, going to Stark Towers.  She signed in and went up to the main office.  Pepper was still looking upset and cuddling Callia while they petted her rabbit.  She leaned over to pet the rabbit, looking at Pepper.  "There's worries that you're going to need Joyce's bed at the cancer center," she said quietly.

Pepper shook her head.  "No, I won't.  It's not...."

"You're hormonal," she said, staring at her.  "Is she getting a sibling?"

"No.  No, there's no chance of that."

"That is why there's adoption."

"I know.  It's just...."  She waved a hand.  "It's a blow when you have a plan."

"I know."  She stared at her.  "You worried Dawn so much she came back to tell Tony to be honest if he had fired her."  Pepper winced.  "We're having dinner tonight on the penthouse roof."

"I can be there."  She hugged Callia.  "I wanted one of them."

"Nothing is every really impossible with healing spells," she noted.  Pepper stared at her.  "If Roque's mother can make a male werewolf pregnant....."

"I wouldn't even know who to ask and I thought I'd have one soon, that's why I went to see about sperm donation.  It's easier than the exhausting things that would go on."

"It is.  Apparently half of every SHIELD agent that's stored some sperm has put my name on the can use list without telling me."  Pepper laughed.  "See if Dawn can help."  She handed over the copies of the folders.  "Problems possibly coming this way.  The French revolution redone with metahumans as Stark put it."

Pepper looked over that.  "The head of HR," she said.  "Who feeds Callia candy."

"Xander said she calls them freaks."

"That's going to end.  Does Tony...."

"Yes.  Xander pointed it out during the meeting."

"Wonderful."  She looked at her.  "How is Dawn?  I didn't mean to disappoint her."

"She'll be at dinner tonight and she starts a week from Monday."

Pepper smiled.  "That's good.  I'd miss her."  Tony walked in.  "Are you going to talk to the head of HR?"

"She's on her way."  He stared at her.  "Why have you been crying?"  He looked at Natasha.  "How did you beat me here?"

"Your satellite."

He rolled his eyes.  "Okay, whatever.  Pepper?  Are you maybe pregnant?"

She shook her head.  "I was thinking about it and the doctor told me that's nearly not possible unless I suddenly ascend into a goddess."

He winced.  "We were...."

"No.  Because that's going to make things weird and impossible and I'd end up running away from you.  I was going to go to the genius sperm bank."

Tony snorted.  "Fine.  Daughter, can you and your rabbit go back upstairs?  We have to talk to someone."

"No," she said with a smile.  "We fine."

"No you're not.  Natasha, please?"

"I can do that.  Come, we'll talk about a new story."  She took the bunny from the child.  It was a very calm bunny.  She checked, still alive, but very calm.  She walked the baby out and up to the nursery in the penthouse.  They got to miss the screaming that the woman would do about freaks and Pepper discovering how badly she had messed up her department.


Tony walked up to Dawn, handing her a pen and the contract.  "Yes, you have to sign another one."


"The head of HR trashed it and the whole system.  So you have to do forms too."

"Great."   She signed it and the family group clapped.  She smiled.  She looked at him.  "You put in a clothing budget?"

"Yup.  You'll need it."  He smiled and took it to sign.  That got another clap.  "She's now more expensive than Pepper is."

"She nags the rest of the lab too," Clint quipped.  "Pepper only nagged you."

"Good point."  He tucked it into his pocket.  "HR is such a mess, if you have problems when you come in let me know."  He patted her on the back.  "Still Monday."

"Yes, boss."

"Good girl."  He pointed.  "Your niece."

"Hi, Callia."

"Hi, Auntie.  Babies."  She went to talk to them.  She looked at Tara.  "More babies?"

"Not right now," she admitted.

"Shoot.  Need more babies.  Auntie, babies?"

"No.  No babies.  Probably not ever but not for a very long time, dear."

"Shoot.  Auntie?" she asked Natasha, who shook her head.  "I need babies."

"Some year soon," Natasha promised.  That got a huff and she went back to telling the twins a story.  She looked at Dawn.  "You could."

"Not really on my agenda at this time."

Clint stared at her.  "Maybe in a few years."

Dawn shrugged.  "Depends on how things are going, right?"

"Yeah."  They gathered around to look at the grill while Stark cooked.  "So," Clint said, smirking at Coulson.  "Is there another group announcement that needs to be made?"

"They asked me to be the Shield of SHIELD."

"You're over the heros," Dawn said, getting that.  He nodded.  "That's so cool."  She hugged him.  "Don't even think about including me."

"As it got taught to me there's actually three seals you can show if you're under mine.  There's a number that show one.  There's very few that show two or all three.  Xander said the only ones he knows with all three are one that's no one's seen in decades in China, since communism took over, one demigod that's basically like that show Highlander and another one that's out of Greece because he got screwed on the prophecy front to quote Xander."

"So most of us probably show at least one," Tony said.  Phil nodded.  "I don't have two, right?"

"I'm not answering that sort of question."

"So you're really going to be looking over all the demigods for a new team and help," Clint said.  Phil nodded, sipping his beer.  "At least you get a more exciting job."

"They all go drinking at a bar in London or at Xander's pool hall," Dawn told him.  Pepper came out.  "You made it."

"Sorry.  Some personal traumas."  She hugged her.  "I'm still so proud."

"Thanks, Pepper.  Are you okay?"

"No, but I'll be okay.  Just some bad personal news."  She saw the panicking start, shaking her head.  "There's no lump.  I thought about having a little protege.  Turns out that's not real good of an idea."

"Well, there's options so we'll look.  Maybe I can help."  She walked her over.  "Callia demanded we give her new babies."

"She wanted me to have one too."  Tara looked over.  "Hi, Tara."

"I'd offer but I'm not sure I could give them up if I surrogate."

"I know.  They're hard to resist."  She smiled at the twins.  "Hi, guys."

"Mine," Callia said patiently.  "They can sleep with Carrot."

"No they can't," Tony assured her.  "Carrot's cage isn't big enough for the twins and we're still building the bigger one."

"Fine."  Callia looked at her aunt.  "When you back?"



"I've considered that."  She smiled.

"I can't afford to break anything this time," Phil said blandly.

"I'll be a good girl and you won't have to keep the Russians off me this time."

He looked at her, shaking his head.  "No."  He went back to flipping over steaks.  "Take a group one for that, Dawn."

"Fury said that won't happen unless we have to run to save ourselves again," Clint said.

"He doesn't want SHIELD agents to have any attachments," Tony told him.  "He hates that I have Callia and Pepper."

"It can cause a problem," Phil admitted.  "But not that much of one.  Since a quarter of the hell carrier's female population managed to get pregnant."  Dawn snickered.  "What?" he asked.

"We think the party that they had to have held needed mead."

"I still think they just jumped into a pool and let whoever's got there first win," Clint said.

"Eww," Pepper said.

"Ninety-seven new parents," Tony said smugly.

"Still, how would you even make a pool like that?"

"A lot of work," Tony quipped.  Dawn poked him.  He smirked at her.  "Some day you can have one."

"Some year in the future."

"Fine.  I still need someone to follow Callia into the suit and be her assistant."

Dawn poked him again.  "With the way my luck runs I'll have to take the suit until she's old enough."

Tony stared at her then walked off shaking his head.  "Can't see it.  I'll give it to Barton or Natasha first.  Thanks, Dawn."  He got himself something to drink before the horrible thought stuck.

Natasha looked over at Dawn.  "You don't have sun poisoning," she said in Russian.  "Are you feeling fevered again?"

"No," she replied back in Russian and a grin.  "Just in a mood.  I'm thinking someone's getting tied down tonight and played with and I don't mean me."

"Not me," Natasha said.

"No, not you either."  Natasha smirked evilly.  Dawn gave her one back.  Clint was moving out of the way.

Phil looked over at them.  "Please remember some of us speak that one as well, ladies?"

"Sorry, big brother."

He smiled.  "I can still ground you."

"I'm a big girl now."


"As you said, being a parent or stepparent doesn't stop at eighteen," Tony quipped.  He went to let Joyce and Bruce in.  "Fair warning, Dawn's in a teasing mood and your granddaughter is demanding siblings."  He led them back up there.  Steve was already up there.  Stark plugged in his iPod, Dawn's mp3 player, and Pepper's iPod into the docking station on the built-in stereo, turning them on randomly.  He looked at the song that came up, unhooking Dawn's.  "You need to change that," he told her, handing it back.  She tucked it into her pocket.  "Why not an iPod?"

"They're expensive, pretentious, only work with iTunes, which is a piece of crap program that's exclusionist, and it was a present.  I love my mp3 player."

"Can't you put more happy music on it?"

She shrugged.  "Maybe some day."  She smiled.

"Fine."  He walked off.  "Steve, did you get the meeting's highlights since you were in the infirmary with the cracked ankle?"

"I did watch it over the closed circuit system and I'm not really happy."

Tony nodded.  "I got to fire six people today, two of them scientists.  One of them decided to screw up everyone's personnel records."

"Ooh," he said with a wince and a hiss.  "That's going to be a mess to fix."

"Yes it is.  Fortunately I can move people up into most of the spots."  Thor came off the elevator and Callia squealed, running over to pounce him and babble at him.  He smiled and took her back to where the twins were so they could do the counting game again.  The twins squealed happily about it so that was great.  Phil watched over it all, mentally shaking his head.  He really had to do a few things to make sure the Avengers got to stay together.  He'd have to work with Xander on that goal.


Natasha looked over Clint that night in the shower as she joined him.  "You're hiding."

"I am.  You two had that look that means I'd have to call off work tomorrow."

Natasha smiled and stroked up his back with her nails.  "We have tomorrow off.  As does Coulson.  He arranged it."  He looked back at her.  She nodded.  "Apparently he thinks we should cure a certain dirty mind."

"I think we should too before it gets me tied down."  She smirked.  "What?" he asked, backing away.  He ran into Dawn, who kissed him until he moaned.  She distracted him so Natasha could handcuff him.  He looked down then at them.  "Why?"

"Because we want to bathe you and then make you really dirty," Dawn quipped, grabbing the sponge and his soap off the shelf.  He groaned and went with it.  Not like he could escape.  Dawn could find him even if Natasha couldn't.  He shivered as the washing started.  Dawn was the best body slave he'd ever had, she took great care of him.  Then Natasha made him dirty and made Dawn do dirty things.  It was great being him most of the time.


Tara looked at Phil once the twins were in their beds.  She sat next to him.  "It's not really fair to you to stay single," she said quietly.

"I'm fine, Tara."  She gave him a look.  "Every man has those moments.  So do most women."

"I know."  She squeezed his hand.  "You deserve someone who cuddles and kisses and loves you."

He stared at her.  "I knew this wasn't a marriage," he told her.

"I know.  It just seems like you're not letting yourself look beyond us and that's not right."

"Have you found someone nice to date?" he guessed.  She blushed and shook her head.  "Then shouldn't I worry about the same thing?"

"I went without for a long time."  He hugged her.  "We make good babies and parents and friends but I..."

"I never expected it of you, Tara."  He looked at her.  "What brought this on?"

"Strife.  He showed up with Diama to play with the twins.  He was trying to get a good read on your personality."

"Even as a kid I wasn't really one of his."

"Every kid is a bit his."  She smiled.  "He asked me to describe you and I realized I was using the same words I would to describe Xander."


She nodded.  "He was always very loyal to us, he protected us, handled things that needed to be handled.  He stepped in to help us even when we were absolute woofing dogs to him.  Whenever one of us needed something or just to talk he was there, even if we weren't talking.  Even Spike."

He considered it.  "That does sound a lot like me but I've never really thought about guys, Tara."

She grinned.  "Dawn said it looked like fun."  He snorted, shaking his head.  "And when Cupid came to get Diama and Strife, because he wasn't supposed to bring her down here, he agreed that you two are a lot alike."

"We are, and we're nominally friends.  I've still never really thought about guys.  Outside a few drunken wonderings in college, it's never been my interest."

"There's that necklace that makes the Lavelle Xander turn into a girl."  He stared at her.  She nodded.  "He's supposed to find it here and lock it up."

"That might be helpful.  Though I did promise Dawn if we survived the battle in Sunnydale she could turn me into a girl for a few days."  Tara gave him an odd look.  "She said I was nagging like a mother.  I told her if she did, we'd see if someone got lucky."  She cackled and hugged him.  He hugged back.  "I'll consider it but with the new stuff...."

"It could help."

"Maybe.  There's also Bia to think about."

"Bia's got her eye on one of John's teammates."  She smiled.  "She thinks he's adorable and hot.  Geeky like she likes.  Strong, talented, and she said he's great in bed."

"More than I needed to know."  She pinched him.  "If it comes up I'll think about it."

"Thank you."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "Callia's really pushy."

"Kids who aren't single kids are more secure socially."

"Tony has had billions of women.  I'm surprised she doesn't have siblings."

"Not that SHIELD could find."  He finished his coffee.  "Go nap."  She smiled and went to her room.  He considered it.  How did they decide to pair him with Xander?  He liked Xander but Xander was a bit less subtle than he was as a warrior.

Xander appeared.  "Love gods meddle," he said dryly.  "I nearly married Anya thanks to Freya."

"I remember logging in that event."

Xander nodded.  "Odin broke the blessing Freya had put on and suddenly Anya had to think and she hated that."  He flopped down beside him.  "They are pushy."

"I almost thought one was trying to push me at Dawn."

"One was.  I looked at Cupid and pointed at Dawn's line.  He just groaned and left it lying there."

Phil hung his head and shook it.  "Figures."

Xander smiled.  "Some of them are subtle and some aren't."

"Like the difference between us as fighters."

"I get into my fair share of loud battles, but not all of them are.  There's been a few days I was so bored I went to Denver and started to pick on the guys holding up convenience stores.  I did that job for a bit and I always thought it was great fun to make them trip over things and fumble so badly that they gave up."

"Necklace?"  Xander pulled the book from home and showed him.  "That's an interesting one."

"Lavelle, the me there, uses it to change forms and gender."


"He says his boyfriends only like him as a girl.  But it let him have a family."

"That's a very, very dirty thought."

"Yeah, it is.  That's why it's in Dawn's jewelry box."  He smirked.  "You're tense.  What's up?"

"Just been a long day."

"I give killer backrubs and there's no strings or anything attached.   I won't even flirt."

"I'm not really into that."

"Nothing sexual."

"No, that's fine."  There was a flash and suddenly they were in a room with a marble soaking pool and plants discreetly around the edges.  There was a long marble table with a pad on top of it.  The walls were marble and had hanging plants around the edges.  The ceiling was open to the stars.  He looked at Xander.  Who shook his head.  "Any idea where we are?"

He looked up at the stars then at him.  "Mom's people."

"We're in India?"

"Yup.  Lower India it looks like."  He pointed.  "That star pattern happens in the fall over the lower peninsula."  He looked around.  "This isn't Mom's garden retreat.  Especially since she's an eastern river goddess."  Phil smiled, shaking his head.  "Love gods, yeah."  A basket appeared with steaming towels, a bottle of oil, and a massage roller.  "Thanks, Shiva, but he's not really into guys," he called.  Nothing happened.  They couldn't leave either.  "So, anyway, how do you feel about backrubs?"

"I don't mind massages.  I'd feel a bit weird but otherwise...."  He looked around.  "At least it's not really romantic.  No flower petals, girlish candles."

"They'd never do that to me.  I'd destroy something," Xander said dryly.  "Krishna's wife used to tell me I'd make a really pretty girl.  Me and John both.  John stomped off.  I was sick so I couldn't.  It got to the point where Krishna asked her to please stop so they could quit fixing things and redecorating.  He was tired of painting."  Phil laughed.  "That is where Dawn got her sari from.  Shiva, Krishna's wife, and Mari picked it out for her."

"I'd assume she'd look fantastic in it."

"She does."  He looked at the table then at him.  "Here.  Let's work on that stress knot."

"Why did you tell Fury?"

"To see what his reaction was going to be.  There's a lot of us that realize Fury isn't exactly the nicest guy.  If he was going to use you as another asset I would've killed him."  Phil shivered.  "I'm not part of either movement but damn some people on the World Security Council need sense.  Fury should be running the CIA, not SHIELD."

"We do a good bit of spying."

Xander looked at him.  "Probably more than you need to."

"Probably," he agreed.  He looked around again.  "I guess we should give in or we'll be here all night."

"Probably," Xander agreed, helping him out of his shirt.  "You've seriously wrecked that shoulder, Phil."

"It's fine.  It doesn't hurt."

"I know that story very well.  Steve told me he hated it when all of you did it to him."

"He does."  He got onto the table and Xander was very good at easing the pain and helping him relax.  He nearly fell asleep there.  When Xander was done he looked at him.  "Think they're going to make me try to move?"

Xander smiled.  "Not tonight.  I think the shield's up."  They disappeared to their own homes.  "Bia, the love gods are going again."

"Who now?"

"Me and Phil."

She blinked, staring at him.  "Huh."  She smiled.  "I can see that."  She went to her own suite.  They were just different enough to get comfortable against each other and so alike it was like twins in some ways.

Xander shook his head.  "Don't you dare help them."

"Formal dinner tomorrow."

"Yay," he complained.  "Tell Dawn."

"I am.  Your mother's people are hosting."

"At least Dawn has a sari."  He went to his room to soak in his nice, big tub and forget that the love gods were such crackheads at time.


Dawn called Mari.  "Is the sari you helped me buy going to be good enough?  I just got an invitation to a grand dinner again."  She winced.  "The shirt needs to be more formal, right?  I can do that.  New York.  I can find it.  Thank you.  Long?  Jewelry?  Shoot, no.  thanks, Mari."  She hung up and headed to the bank and then got a cab.  "I need to go to the Indian part of the city.  I have to shop for a dinner."  The driver nodded.  He was Pakistani if she was guessing right.  "You probably don't know but my friend is pulling me with her to a huge family dinner thing.  She got me a pretty sari, but she got me a short shirt that's tummy baring.  Should I be buying one with sleeves?"

"Short sleeves might be appropriate," he admitted.  "Shoes?"

"I have sandals I can wear.  The sari's purple and gold I think."  He nodded.  "Wrong color?"

"That's up to the woman.  Unless they're very high up, then they'd expect something more delicate."

Dawn winced.  "I still have to get jewelry too.  I prefer simple pieces like a simple chain."  He laughed.  "I know.  I like a lot of her family and I don't want to insult anyone."

"They'll probably forgive you."

"Some of them make queens look like hookers." 

He nodded.  "So does my mother-in-law."  He parked.  She paid him and tipped him.  "Have a good shopping trip."

"Thank you.  Happy tips today."  She walked in there and sighed, looking at the elderly woman.  "My friend Mari is bringing me to a huge family dinner thing.  She got me a sari but she got me a shirt that's belly baring.  She said I need a new shirt and is purple and gold going to be appropriate?"

"Depends on the family," she admitted.

"They're kinda uptight at times.  Though I know one who flirts a lot."

"I would check on that color then."

Dawn found her phone and the number.  "Gladriel, Dawn.  Help?  I have the purple sari Mari helped me buy....  Please.  Thank you."  She hung up and the assistant to Xander's mother walked in.  The shopkeeper gaped in awe.  "Please help?"

"How much can you spend?" she asked, smiling at her.

"Three thousand and Mari told me I do not have enough jewelry."

"That's not that bad.  Yours is purple?"

"And gold."  She texted Natasha, who was lounging around eating cookies.  Gotta love PMS sometimes.  She sent back a picture.  "That's mine."

"Hmm.  No, not appropriate."  She led her back to the back areas.  "I need to remind Xander he has to dress up in a formal kurta."  Dawn gave her a look.  "I know, he hates it.  Yay."  She found one she liked and nodded.  "Not exactly formal but there's no way you can get formal enough for that little amount of money."  She considered it.  "I may let you borrow one."

"It was easier before."

"I know, dear."  She led her out.  "Thank you," she called.  She let Dawn take her back to the house.  "Get dressed.  We're going to get you a formal one.  It'll stretch farther in Mumbai.  The exchange rate is good today, nearly 55 rupee per dollar."  Dawn nodded, pulling out what she needed.  Gladriel looked in her jewelry box.  "You really do need more accessories, Dawn."

"I tend to wear a pair of earrings and maybe a necklace."

"Hmm, not tonight."  Dawn came out dressed in her sari and shirt, hair back in a ponytail.  She stepped into her sandals.  "That might do for tonight."

Clint and Natasha were staring in the doorway.  "Guys, gotta do the formal godly dinner thing tonight."

Clint nodded.  "Thankfully we don't have to."

Gladriel looked at him.  "Don't think Xander's mother won't suggest it, son."  He winced.  She smiled.  "Tell Xander he has to find a formal kurta."

"Yup, I can do that."  They disappeared.  He looked at Natasha, who had been staring.  "She did look nice."

"She did.  Very nice.  I wonder why the dinner's being called."

"Probably to welcome Phil?"

"Possibly," she agreed.  Clint smiled.  "Not tonight."


"Unwrap her later."

"I can do that."  They went back to the living room.


Xander hung up and looked up.  "No, I'm not coming!"

"Shut up, son," his mother called.  "Before I have to dress you and John both."

"Bite me."  Bia was laughing.  "I'm not wearing a kurta.  Take me as I am, Mother."

"No, son.  We're hosting and you are family.  You must be appropriate."

"Still, bite me."  His head rocked with the swat.  He stomped off in a foul mood now.

"You have that one you got given," Bia called.

"It's black satin, they'll freak out," he called back.  "And I really don't like dhoti.  There's no pants with that one."

"You'll be fine," she said patiently.  "That means I need a sari too."  She groaned and got up to find hers.  There was one packed away somewhere.  This wasn't the first godly banquet that the Hindu pantheon had hosted.


"I thought reds were for weddings," Dawn said.

"It's for all joyous occasions," Gladriel assured her.

Xander's mother appeared then looked at her assistant.  "She's right, I'm not marrying her off tonight."

Dawn groaned.  "Hell no I'm not being married.  No one I'm with wants that step."

"We'll see when you're older.  I know you have a purple one.  You really need the one that goes with Xander's house."

Dawn looked at her.  "I think that's why Xander said he was showing up in leather."

"No, he may not."  She smiled.  "Get that one."  She pointed.

"Way too expensive," Dawn said.  "I have a budget I have to live in."

Xander's mother rolled her eyes.  "Gladriel, get her outfitted."  She disappeared.

"Okay."  She pointed.  "She'll take that one."  They found a nice shirt.  Dawn was fingering a different sari and she looked.  It was gold cloth, looked like a thin silk with a satin looking shine, and was embroidered with silver and red threads.  "That would look fantastic on you," she agreed.  "The coloring is good with yours."  They compared them.  "That one."  Dawn grinned and got it, then they got a shirt and underskirt.  New sandals since those were dusty.  The new sandals were barely a strip of leather with an ankle strap and a toe ring.  Then they went to look at jewelry.

Dawn's phone rang.  "I'm busy," she said in greeting.  "Dinner with the extended family of Xander and Mari.  Yes, one of those.  I'm in the middle of Mumbai, Stark.  Because mine from Mari is purple.  I do not have the right jewelry."  She sighed, looking at Gladriel.

"I'll bring it there," she promised.  Dawn hugged her and disappeared.  She smiled, going to get in a bit of her own shopping.  She hadn't gotten anything new and pretty in a while.  She also understood the stress that assistants had to be under at all times.


Stark hung up as Dawn appeared, making him stare at her.  "Damn," he said.

"Yeah, and dinner with the extended everyone later."  She looked behind her.  "Hey, Rhodey."

"Why are you wearing that?" he asked.

"Have to buy a formal one for the multi-pantheon dinner tonight."

"Oh."  He nodded slowly.  "I have no idea what you mean so I'm going to concentrate on the fact that you look hot in that."  She smiled at him and looked at Tony.

"Your niece," he said with a point.

She sighed.  "It's a girl problem?"

"Yes.  The nannies are both crying.   Pepper's not here.  I'm not a girl so I'd probably never understand."

Dawn walked off, going to see what her problem was.  She found her pouting in the lab.  "What's wrong?"

"What's that?"

"It's called a sari.  Indian women wear it."


"Because this is how they dress.  Why are you making people cry?"

"They're mean!"

"They're not mean.  Why are you making people cry?"  She pulled her closer and squatted down to get on her level.  "Well?"

"They not read, they not count, they hate me."

"They don't hate you.  Was it maybe nap time?"  She shook her head with a pout.  "JARVIS, can I please see the footage?"  He put it up on a monitor.  She watched.  "Has her dad seen this?"

"He hasn't asked."

"Show him."  She looked at her.  "You can't throw those sort of fits.  You can hurt someone," she said quietly, staring at her.  "It is never right to use your powers on someone who isn't doing something wrong to hurt you."  Callia sat down on the floor.  She made her look at her.  "You are grounded.  You will apologize and I will be ripping Gertrude a new one over it, but you're still grounded."

"Yes, Auntie," she said with a sniffle.

"Thank you."  She stood up and took her hand.  "Let's go talk to your nanny."  She walked her up there, staring at the nanny.  "What the fuck were you thinking!" she yelled, making the nanny flinch.  "Threatening her?"  The nanny backed away.  "I do not know what your problem is, but there's no reason to provoke her into using her gifts against you."

"They're unGodly and God will protect her once the taint of Satan has been worn out of her.  The ministers are right!"

"She was born this way, what's your excuse?" Dawn shot back.  "Because according to your religion, your God doesn't make mistakes.  So being born this way means she's meant to do it."  The nanny stomped off.  "Where's the other one?" she asked more patiently, hearing the door open.  That one stomped off too.  Dawn checked on the rabbit, because they were that stupid and mean spirited.  Tony stomped in.  "They fled."

"Good!"  He looked at her.  "So in trouble."

"Grounded," she sniffled, looking down.

"Yes you are.  There is never any reason to use your powers on someone unless they are trying to hurt you or something you love."

Callia looked at her, nodding.  "I be better."

"You will and you can start talking with Tara about that stuff."  Callia nodded, looking down again.  She looked at Tony, who was grinning.  "Sorry to usurp."

"No, that's a good thing."  He looked her over.  "Are you wearing that to the formal dinner?"

"No, that's why I was shopping.  Gladriel was helping me."  Her phone beeped so she looked.  "It's at the house.  Thank you!"  She sent that back.  "I've got to go shower, shave, lotion, bedeck myself, all that."  She stared at Callia.  "Tomorrow, I want you to tell Auntie Tara what happened.  She'll be in with the babies and you two can talk then.  Until then, sit, work on your letters, and do not throw a single fit."  Callia ran over to do that.  She looked at Tony.  "Sorry."

"Better than I could've done."  She smiled and disappeared.  He looked at his precious, insane offspring and pulled her close to talk to her about that stuff.  Callia got a lot of things explained to her and she seemed to understand.  He could build on what Dawn had started.


Clint tipped his head when Dawn appeared in front of the tv.  "You're cuter than basketball."  She huffed but sat on Natasha's other side.  "When do you have to disappear again?"

"Dinner.  It said it'd pluck me from here at seven so I have time to shave and all that."

Clint looked her over.  "Nair, it's faster."

"I'm out."

He leaned over to kiss her.  "I get to unwrap you later."

She grinned.  "You can do it now but you'd only have a half-hour and there's a game on."  She got up, looking at Natasha.  "Want to help me shave?  I don't think he can do legs very well."

"No, he can't.  The time I had a broken arm and he helped he cut me."  She got up and went with her to soak and clean up in that girlish way.  Helping Dawn shave was fun.  When they finally got out, it was time to lotion down, put on the special underwear and slip, then wrap her into the sari.

Gladriel appeared.  "I thought you might do that.  Other shoulder, Dawn."  She nodded and undid it, redoing it.  She smiled, helping her put on the jewelry.  "I'd bring you both but then they would think it was an announcement of an upcoming union."

"There is no talk of marriage yet," Natasha assured her.

"That's fine."  She smiled.  "Did anyone think to dress the new one?"

"I've felt Bia a few times," Dawn admitted.

"Good."  She finished up with Dawn, helping her apply her makeup.  "There we go.  Few hours, hopefully."  They disappeared.  Dawn handed her invitation over and was let in.

"The Key, Dawn Summers."  Dawn walked in and bowed to every table, sitting at Xander's beside Mari.

Mari looked at her.  "Gladriel did a really good job."

Dawn smiled.  "She did.  I'd be so lost sometimes about all the protocol.  I haven't even found a book."

"I have a whole set I'll lend you.  I use it to hold down dirty dishes under the bed."  Dawn smiled and nodded.  "No date?"

"No, I heard that means we're getting married."

"It would."  Phil got announced.  He walked in and bowed, walking over to their table.  He looked pretty decent in his long kurta and dhoti.  It was blue and matched well against his eyes.  "It's nice that guys can wear less strict clothes," Mari sighed, adjusting an earring.

"I'm glad I don't have to put on all the jewelry," Phil said.  "Dawn, you look splendid."  She grinned at him.  "I saw a picture of you in your purple one before."

"I got promised unwrapping help later."

He smiled.  "You'll need it just to get all the twinkling things off."  Roque and Clay were announced.  They came in and sat at the House's table.  John came next with Xander following.  John was the eldest son but Xander headed the House so it gave him more status.  They stood up at Xander's entrance.  John's kurta was embroidered green silk with a nice open collar.  He wore regular pants instead of the folded dhoti.  Xander's black silk kurta had a green dragon embroidered on it and his pants were green silk.  He bowed to the head gods and sat down.  His house sat after him.  Phil leaned closer to John.  "How long do these typically last?  It's my night to tell bedtime stories," he hissed.

"Weeks and weeks," John sighed.  "But only a few hours there."  Phil nodded.  Bia was announced and came in separately.  He looked at Xander because that was weird.  Xander shrugged.  Bia smirked at them and bowed then went to sit with her parents.  "We were set up," John said quietly.

"I can tell," Xander said, getting a bad feeling in his stomach.  He stared at Bia, who shook her head.  He growled.  She nodded then sipped some of her wine.  The last few Gods got there and they were staring at the head table.

"As you know, we suffered through one of the biggest battles we've had in generations a bit over a year ago.  All the official mournings are done so it is time to officially note who did not make it and who was helping the battle," Krishna said, standing up.  He read off the name of the dead Gods, most of them bowing their heads in respect.

Phil had his eyes shut.  He had seen it.  He could still see it at times.  Mari took his hand to squeeze, getting it squeezed back.  Dawn got the same treatment from Mari.  She was nearly squeezing her eyes shut and slightly shaking.

Krishna rolled the scroll up.  "Let their names appear in the Halls of the Fallen."  A bright light took the scroll there.  He looked around.  "Though our native son was a bit frustrated, he did lead us into battle.  We won because he nearly gave himself up for us.  He and his adopted daughter, Dawn."  He bowed to them, getting bowed back at.  "For that we thank you.  If it was not for your unique skills we would have lost everything we hold to be true and dear to us." 

He clapped his hands.  "For now we mourn and yet we welcome new ones.  It was by a multi-pantheon and Elder Council's decision to give Alexander somewhat of a break.  We created a God who protected those who protect.  Tonight is his first time with us.  Philip."  Mari nudged him so he stood up and bowed.  "He is our new God of Protectors.  With him one of our own has taken a rightful spot.  Jonathan has been named the Protectorate of the Greek and Roman pantheons."  John stood up and bowed.  "We welcome you both into the service of humanity.  If you should need help with your duties tell us and we will teach you how to handle it."

Phil and John sat down.  "It is also with a glad tiding that we have found something while Alexander was incorporeal with our eldest gods who have become one with the powers of creation.  During it he checked repeatedly on certain people.  We have indication that there are feelings there."  Xander slowly shook his head.  "We know that you had to marry your consort due to Odin's decree, Alexander."  Xander was still giving him a strange look.  "It was obvious to the Elders when they saw how your attention wandered."

"I was checking on Dawn because she was taken hostage by people who I will finish killing soon."

"Not always."  He walked over and showed him.  Xander looked confused.  "That is not Dawn near there."

"No, that's her mother Joyce, who I adore like my own."

"Not that one.  She is nice but her line is satisfied with what she has."  Dawn squeaked and covered her mouth.  He smiled.  "She's fine."  He looked at him.  "Look again."

"I did and you're wrong."

"We are not wrong, Alexander.  You are mated.  We have checked the lines."  He smiled.  "It makes much more sense now."  He went back to his seat.  "So we will celebrate the upcoming marriage of our newest one and our native son."  The crowd cheered.

Xander looked at Phil.  "We can mutually stab each other."

"Dawn threatened to bring me back again."

"That sucks."

"By my decree, my grandson must marry within a year," Odin announced.

"I already met your decree," he assured him, staring him down.  "I will not be forced into anything against mine or his will.  Or there will be an honor challenge in your future."  The whole hall quieted.  "Has it occurred to you that he may not like me that way?"

"The lines are strong," Aphrodite said.

He stared at hers.  "So were yours and Ares'."  She looked horrified.  "Lines aren't everything.  We're decent friends, people, but don't start shopping yet."

Krishna smiled.  "That's fine.  We are immortal and we can wait for him to adjust to his new duties and you two to each other.  I believe the modern emphasis on dating is a bit strange but if that is what you wish we can wait."

"For many years," Xander assured him.

Phil patted him on the wrist.  "I"m sure we'll figure out how to deal with this."  Xander looked at him.  Then smirked.  Phil didn't mean getting married but they'd *deal* with this.  He looked at Krishna.  "I do wish someone had asked my opinion since I've never had a relationship with a male."  Krishna stared at him oddly.  "Not all men have."

"Being pure on your wedding night is nothing to us.  We expect it of someone and know our native son is not."

"I'm not either but I've still never even really considered it."

"It will happen as it does."  He smiled.  "I also see that Roque has brought his mate."  He smiled at them.  "Jonathan, do you not have your future mate?"

"I'm not dating or seeing anyone."  Krishna looked horrified.  "I do not date people in my command.  No matter who might think it would be nice," he said, staring at their mother.  "Nor do I agree to be ambushed."

"I see," Krishna said.  "We thought you were seeing someone.  You have been found in each other's company many times."

"Yes, friends and battlefield companions, but again, he doesn't like men."

Krishna nodded.  "That can be a problem.  I'm sure you can work it out.  We can grant him immortality."

"I doubt he would take it."

"Hmm, we will see later."

"Only if you want him to blow up people," John said with a smile.  "If you're talking about Rodney."

"We were.  He does not like us?"

"He's not very spiritual."

"He'll learn."  He looked that way.  The man in question was not dressed nor did it look like he was going to be.  Krishna huffed and sent a page to tell him to get ready.  Rodney's 'no thank you' was almost rude.  He looked at John.  "He is not coming?"

"No, he's not.  We're not seeing each other.  Why would I bring my friend to this and have people speculate?  I get enough of that from the soldiers under my command about five different people."

"It could be a good match," Aphrodite offered.

John looked at him.  "I'm fairly certain you remember Rodney, Lady Aphrodite."  She shuddered.  "If they're talking about him, I doubt he'd take it."

"No, he would not.  He didn't want enough golden apple juice to heal a serious injury because it might get him too much and he'd have to suffer for eternity as he put it."

"Some people are happier with a single life," Dawn said.  "We're hoping a few of those ascend so I'm not bored spitless when it's my turn."  She sipped her wine.

Xander nodded.  "Us too.  Though I did hear that someone had suggested another alternative to Phil."  He glared at his father.  "Butt out."

"Fine, son.  Only trying to make you happy."

"He's taken."

"I saw.  Still...."  Xander's growl filled the hall.  "I will let the majority decide for me."  He smiled.

Xander stared him down.  "Don't hold your breath, Father."

"Fine."  He smiled at his future son-in-law.  "I'm sure we'll get along quite well."

"I shot that other one," he said politely with a smile.  Loki stared.  He stared back.

"I wondered who had done that.  You were dying," Loki said.

"Yes, I was and did."

Loki shivered.  "I can wait for the official proclamations."

"It will have to wait until I'm no longer at SHIELD, as there's rules against it, and that is where my duty seems to be the most beneficial."

"It is," Thor agreed.  He was having fun not being in the middle of this argument.  "You do good helping us protect ourselves and others, Son of Coul."

"Thank you, Thor."

"Anyway," Xander's mother said with a smile.  She checked, Rodney was quite stubborn.  She would have to talk to him.  "Let us feast to celebrate the new ones."  They nodded and dinner was served.

Phil looked at the bird on his plate.  "It's like a government dinner," he said quietly.  "Only with relatives."  John snickered, nodding, digging in.

Hera smiled at Dawn.  "Dear, would you like to go get your dates?"

"No thank you, Lady Hera.  Neither one is really interested in this sort of thing."  She smiled.  "They'd much rather we all be eating on the couch to tv and a quiet night in."

Hera stared at her.  "Really?"  She smiled and nodded, eating a bite.  "Hmm."

"I asked and they said it was not their thing," Gladriel said with a smile.  "Though they did say she was quite pretty."

"She is.  You did a good job," Xander's mother praised.  Dawn smiled and so did Gladriel.  "Are you sure?  I can have someone sent to help them."

"We're in no means ready to have such a formal statement made upon us," Dawn said politely.  "We enjoy things the way they are at the moment."

Xander's mother sighed.  "You can settle down."

"I'm only nineteen."  She ate another bite.

"That's a fine age to marry.  I was."

"Yes, but now women are expected to work and I enjoy that more."  Xander's mother slumped.  "Thank you for that kind offer though."  She ate another bite and turned to talk to Mari.

Xander looked over.  "Bia, your suite is still yours if you want to come back."

"Thank you, Xander.  I'll be back tonight."  Her mother stared at her, shaking her head.  "I am.  I haven't packed or anything.  Besides, there's things to do and I have to take care of the garden.  He'd never do it."  She stuffed her mouth.

"If not, you can have the spare bedroom at my temple," John said.  "I'm not using it until I have kids."  He grinned.  "Which is probably never."  His mother wailed and nearly collapsed.  "Especially if someone tries to force me with Rodney since he doesn't like children."  He ate a bite.

"Amen to that," Roque said.

"Did I tell you about the world with the dragons?" Dawn asked down to him with a grin.

"I heard," he assured her.  "We all got drunk, Dawn."  She giggled and they got back to eating.

Phil was eating and muttering quietly.  "So this is what it feels like to be hit by the bus you got thrown under."

Mari smiled at him.  "Yup."  He dug in and finished his excellent quail.  The other courses were sent out and they ate then fled for their homes.

Xander's mother tried to stop him.  "Son, I'm sure...."

"You finish this sentence and you're in the next battle."  She stepped back looking horrified.  "I didn't like it when you did it to Roque and I.  I don't like it now and I don't have to be dutiful anymore."  He walked off last, his house thankfully out of the crossfire.  Next time, the damn universe could save itself because this was not a reward.

Zeus smiled and saluted them.  "I wish you much luck."  He drained the glass.  His family group left.  "Bia, are you going home?"

"Yes, I'll be helping Xander train warriors."  She disappeared as soon as she could.

"The young do not listen," Bia's mother complained.

Hera looked at her.  "I wouldn't either."  She walked off happier.


Dawn appeared at the apartment.  "Oh, damn."

"What happened?" Natasha asked.  "Was it not a good dinner?"

"Dinner was nice.  It was the stuff before.  Not only did we go over the ones lost in the battle, so can I have cuddles tonight, but they announced that Xander was checking on Phil while he was incorporeal so they're getting married."

Clint shuddered.  "We think they might make an interesting relationship."

"No, they announced they're marrying," Dawn said.

"Then that'll happen the other side of never," he said dryly.  "They're both stubborn."

"They tried to get me to bring you two up but I shot down that idea because it'd mean I was announcing our upcoming marriage.  And they tried to get John to marry Rodney.  They broke Xander's marriage without telling him."

"So they're about screwed," Clint said happily.  "Good to know."  He looked her over.  "I think I liked you more in the purple one.  You looked happier and more comfortable."

"I was.  I jingle."

"You do," Natasha agreed.  They got up to bring Dawn into the bedroom to help her unjewel herself.  Then Clint got to slowly unwrap her.  They could take her mind off things very well.


Upstairs by two floors, Phil reappeared, getting an odd look from Tara.  "Don't ask."

"It didn't go well?  Did they pick on you?"

"They decided I'm marrying Xander."

"Ah."  She nodded.  "We think it'd be a great thing but I think that's really between you two."

"They were pushing for tonight."

"No, I doubt that would happen," she said.  She handed over the fussy one.  "See, the father."

"Good evening, Melissa."  She grumbled at him.  "I know, I wasn't there for dinner."  He settled in to read to the twins.  They were happier now that he was back and they could go to bed now.  Somehow they had picked up that Mommy didn't like to be alone in the house.  "What's this I heard about a coven-wide trip?"

"I can't go.  They don't allow the kids to come and I can't impose on Joyce for a week."

He looked at her.  "I am here.  We have the daycare."

"Yes but you can be called to go on assignment at any time and in any place."

"Good point but I doubt I will be this week."

"It's next week and I'll go on the next one or go take a vacation with them."

"Sometimes you need to get away from everything," he pointed out.  "You can go."

"No, I can't.  It's not practical.  Joyce is looking for a job for the first time since she got sick.  You guys just got briefed on some new bad guys.  Dawn's going to be back at work then.  I'll go later on.  We have another one planned in September for a long weekend."

"We can make plans for that," he agreed.  She smiled.  He looked at them.  "It is time for bed."  They fussed.  He stared at them.  "Now."  They calmed down.  It was their nightly ritual.  They fussed, Daddy was calm, got them bathed, and put them down.  It was only fair since Tara got to do all that all day long.  Phil went to change because the outfit was mostly comfortable but he was still in bad mental places land.  He might have to remember the trip to Miami to get rid of it.

Tara looked up.  "Subtle, people.  You'll never get him to do it now."


Phil walked into the office the next morning.  "Thank you, gentlemen," he said when the sign-in people quit arguing long enough to log him in.   He headed up to the main floor, finding Maria Hill already there.  "Is he in a bad mood?" he asked quietly.

"Pretty much.  There's no coffee.  The new admin person didn't order any."  Phil winced.  "So there's a whole lot of bad moods."

"Charming.  I'll have to remember that."  She smiled.  "See if any of Dawn's fellow students are free?"

"She was but she's good at other things."

"Stark has more than one."

"Fury thinks he can do it on his own."

"He has for years."  He walked in there.  "Director, there's an FYI you need to hear that's probably not going to make your day."

"You're moving to another office so I'll loose what little bit of goodwill we have with Stark?" he guessed, looking up.

"No, there was a meeting and banquet last night of all the gods to mourn those who had passed on during the battle and then they announced that they wanted me to marry Xander."

Fury paused, stared, then burst out laughing.  "Really?"  Phil nodded.  "You're serious?" he asked, losing that tiny bit of happiness that had lasted without coffee.  Phil nodded.  "Why?"

"Apparently we're a lot alike in ways that they wanted.  They also caught him checking on Dawn and Joyce while I was in the vicinity so they decided that it was to be so, announced it would be so some year far in the future - because we both protested - and had his marriage annulled without telling him.  The first we knew of it was Bia walking in and sitting with her parents.  She's still out there; Xander told her the room was still hers."

"Oooookay," he said, drawing it out.  "That's something I did need to know before rumors got back to me.  Anything else interesting happen?"

"They tried very hard to get Doctor McKay up because that would subtly announced that he and Colonel Sheppard are marrying, and they're not.  Rodney apparently tazed or somehow injured one of the assistants that got sent to gather him."

"I would too."

"They also tried to get Dawn to bring up her dates, again for the same reason, but she pointed out that whatever they have is good with them and no one's even thinking that ridiculous marriage word."

Fury rubbed his forehead.  "You had to do this on a day we don't have coffee?"

"You wanted me to wait and tell you after the rumors got started?"

"No," he said.  "Thank you for that."  Phil nodded and left.  "Agent Hill, run out and get some Folgers or something.  I need something."

She leaned in.  "One of the Junior agents has planned and executed a raid on a local grocery store," she said, looking totally serious.  "We're expecting reports of gunfire over the coffee but Agent Dorans is overseeing his 'mission'."  Fury groaned.   "I did text him when Agent Coulson looked like he was going to be giving you a headache so he would pick up extra."

"Thank you, Agent Hill.  There's days I think you, him, and Sitwell are the only ones that have sense around here."

She smiled.  "Sometimes we are, sir."  She walked off, back to her post.  That was a great compliment from a man who never gave any praise.


Dawn walked in her first day looking neat and presentable.  And promptly had problems.  "I know it's new," she said, looking at her pass that wouldn't run.

"Computer says you're not in the HR system, Summers," one of the guards grumped.

She called upstairs.  "I'm not in the system?"  She hung up and smiled.  "Pepper's coming."  They grinned back.

Pepper walked over and reloaded the system and there she was.  "HR had a major computer catastrophe when the head decided to play god," she told them.  "Any others, make a note and send directly to me so I can see where their forms are."  She walked Dawn off.  "Nice skirt."

"Thank you."  She grinned.  "Paperwork?"

"That oh so charming pile.  I don't know why he didn't give it to you to fill out last week."

"He did and it got eaten apparently."

"We have to have some sort of snake down there then, I guess that's what I'm doing today.  I never expected the CEO to be quite this busy.  Tony definitely wasn't."  Dawn laughed. 

They got off on their floor and Dawn went to her desk to fill out the forms again.  She got a sharp mental poke that reminded her not to list them on any beneficiary forms.  Dawn shot back that her mother was going on most of them but her life insurance was still going to them so they could just like it already.  She also reminded her that she was going to start becoming mule headed soon.  That got the nagging to end.  They didn't want to know what she'd do if she went fully stubborn.  She got finished and brought them in for Pepper's signature.  Pepper gave her a strange look.  "They insisted."

"Ah.  That doesn't really surprise me."  She finished signing them.  "Did you give them their portion of that reparation?"

"I did and they protested."  She shook her head.  "Want me to take them down there?"

"No, I will.  You weren't the only one."  She smiled.  "Go do your rounds and pull Stark from the labs.  He has sparring in an hour and he's been there all night."

"Sure."  She walked off.  "JARVIS, is my log-in back?"

"It's working, yes."

"Thank you."  She made her rounds of the various departments, stopped in to talk to Andrew and Jonathan, then went to the tinkering lab.  No one.  She went up to Tony's personal lab and logged in, getting let in.  He looked over, fiddling with a wrench while he looked at some plans.  "Sparring, one hour."

"Great.  Problems?"

"Yeah, had to redo the paperwork again."

He snorted.  "Pepper's going to have fun then."

She walked over and pointed.  "Isn't that the stuff that they spotted that's making them land in that one spot?"

"I'm trying to find an alternative."

"Can you make it artificially?"

"No.  Not and take out that resonance problem."

She nodded.  "Then have fun, boss."

"Anything happen last night?"

"They tried really hard to make John call up Rodney so they could announce they were marrying."  Tony winced.  "Rodney apparently nearly killed one of the assistants.  They'll leave it for the next one.  They tried to get me to call up mine but I pointed out that we're not even thinking about that.  And they announced that Xander and Phil are marrying."  Tony fell off his stool he turned so fast.  Thankfully he didn't hit the floor on his ass.  She nodded.  "They caught him checking on me while he was ghostly and decided he was looking at Phil's butt."

Tony rubbed his head.  "No, not good."  She smiled.  "Please tell me it's a prank?"

"He probably wishes.  He had to tell Fury before the rumors hit him."

"Yeah, I'm staying here today."  She pulled up his calendar and pointed.  "He can come here."  He texted him to tell him that.  He got one back.  "Oh, great, they have no coffee over there.  I'm not going near that building."

Dawn's phone flashed a news alert and she groaned, putting that up on the monitor.  "We're here where some agents, who are apparently very coffee deprived, have decided to hold up a grocery store to get indecent amounts of coffee for their office," the reporter said.  "So far we've heard reports of automatic gun fire and yet no injuries.  It's like something out of the MIB movie but we're not sure if it's a prank or not."

Dawn texted that to Agent Hill, who sent back an 'I know'.

The reporter looked over as two SUV's pulled up and discharged Director Fury, who was living up to his name, and a few agents.

"Are you really this fucking stupid!" Fury shouted as he walked in.

"Yes, yes they are," Tony said, turning it off.  Dawn just shook her head.  Dawn's phone rang with a text message.  "I will pay you double whatever Stark does so you come work in the SHIELD office once a week and the rest you can spend there with them and your niece.  Official SHIELD benefits and all the perks."  Dawn held it up.  "Your contract has a no firing for stupid reasons clause," Tony said dryly.  "I would consider that treason against my empire."

She sent back that she was flattered but Stark said she couldn't do that and she gave him a name of someone who was better.  Fury sent back a 'are you kidding me'.  She outlined the idea and it was better.  Her mother could whip his ass into administrative shape even if Joyce hadn't really done it before.  It took organization and talking to people, which her mother excelled at and her mother was polite to the higher ups who wanted things.  He huffed but yay.

"Your mother would be the scary admin assistant sort," Tony said, calling the news footage back up.  "She'd institute a spanking routine for people like that.  Oh, it was Dorans."

She looked up and shook her head.  "Doesn't shock me any."  She looked at him.  "There's Steve."  She waved him in.  He came in and stared at the other side of the projection at the news feed.  "Yeah," she told him.  "It's going to be one of those weeks."

Steve nodded.  "We knew it was bad when Brenda didn't order coffee.  Even though I don't drink it usually the rest of the staff guzzles it like there's going to be none tomorrow."

"If they're that desperate, there's a Starbucks not three buildings down," Tony said.

"They're closed.  They're already out of stock."  Tony shuddered.

"The next nearest one is about two blocks in the other direction then," Dawn said.

"They're running short.  The rumors were already starting."

"That's why I give mine a coffee allowance and they buy whatever they want but if it's the expensive stuff they pay the rest," Tony quipped.  "Each lab has their own coffee maker."

"Two in a few lab's cases because one drinks decaf for health reasons and the other one needs hot water for tea."

"They can't combine them?" Tony asked.

"No.  The one on decaf can't have any at all due to a heart problem."

"Oh."  He nodded.  "Thankfully I don't have that problem."  He drank some of his.  It was cold.  "Dawn, make some?"

"Of course."  She walked over to clean out the old and make a fresh pot.  "We might want to clean the machine soon."

"Eww, vinegar coffee.  Buy a new one."  She gave him a strange look.  "Really, go ahead."

"I'll pass on that requisition to Pepper."  She smiled.  "Anything else we need today, boss?"

"Not yet."  She gathered the files she had already gotten and left.  She left one.  He looked at it and opened it since it had his name on it in Dawn's precise scrawl.  It had a list of agents who were problems.  He smiled and tucked it away to go over later.  "Sparring?"

"Yup," Steve agreed.

"Sure.  Better than watching Fury save a Safeway."  They went to the gym.  It was clearly Monday of the Week of Stupidity.


Dawn made it home that night and flopped down on the couch.  That was as far as she was moving.  She listened, no noise.  She sighed.  Fine, they could be pouty or whatever.  She kicked off her shoes and curled up on her side, getting comfortable.  She heard a thump on the porch and opened the door magically before he could pick it.  "Did you guys get all of the stupid or did you mail us some for tomorrow?"

"We mailed you a whole lot," he said, staring down at her.  "I'm making dinner."

"I'm not moving without a very good incentive."  She sent over what her day had consisted of.  He leaned down to kiss her.  "That's a nice incentive," she admitted.

"She's still huffy."

She stared at him.  "You know one of those is to notify you if I'm in the hospital again, right?"  He nodded.  "Mom may be nice but that doesn't mean she won't lose her mind and if Mom's not available they'd have to ask Buffy, who is that unthinking."

"I didn't think about that."

"Not like it's filing for a domestic partnership."  She sat up with a wince and a hiss.

"Why are you so sore?"

She looked at him.  "Did you not see the three filing cabinets that fell on me thanks to Lt. Colonel Rhodes-is-a-dead-man?"

"Ow.  I thought you caught them."

"Mostly or I'd be in the infirmary with broken ribs."  She got helped up.  "Let me change."

"Go ahead, I can wait."  He smirked at her backside.  "Ink."

"I saw."

He waited, thinking at Natasha, who sighed and said it might be true but Joyce would tell them.  He pointed out it could mean Buffy was making the decisions.  That got a shudder.  They liked Buffy fine but now and then she still didn't act right about Dawn.  They also doubted she could make hard medical choices.

Dawn came out in a long t-shirt and socks.  "I can't put on pants.  My hip's swollen from the bruising."  He checked, it was seriously swollen.  She winced at his kiss to it.  "Thanks."  She hugged him.  "It's only Monday."

"It's going to be a long week," he agreed, walking her back to the elevator.  They ran into Steve, who blushed.  "She had three filing cabinets fall on her, Cap."

"I saw.  I helped move them so she could beat James."

Dawn nodded.  "And he laughed until he ended up in the infirmary for it."  Steve nodded, smiling at her.  "I'm too sore to sit on that side."  They got off and went to dinner.  Dawn walked in and kissed Natasha.  "You can be pouty if you want but Mom said she didn't want my life insurance and investments if something happened to me.   So find a good charity or something if you must."  She walked over to the couch and sat down slowly and carefully then flopped over again.  It was the only way she didn't hurt.

"Why are you so sore?"

"Catching filing cabinets means that you catch the top edge to hold it up," she reminded her.  That's how you physically caught them too.  That got a nod.  "Well, if the drawers aren't locked, they open."

"Ow," Natasha said, coming over to look at her side.  It was a large bruise.  Her other side wasn't much nicer.  That bruise had a pattern.  "Chair?"

"Yup, trapped against the one I was sitting in to file."

"How far did you kick his ass?" Clint asked.

Dawn looked at him.  "Not far enough.  Tony pulled me off him.  Cap told him to let me go.  That I'd stop soon as I lost my temper or realized it hurt to hit him."

"No, I think they might've been burying him," Clint said, coming over to look.  "Ow, no wonder you can't wear clothes."

She shook her head.  "That doesn't even show the whole 'ball in the stomach' thing from the guys up in shield development that were playing with a pitching machine in the hallway and missing about every single shot.  The machine was aimed at the elevators so they could smack the balls into the new shield and window behind it to test it."  Natasha winced and petted over her hair.  "Fury offered me double what Tony pays me and SHIELD agent status if I'd come fix his office.  I could spend a day a week there and then the rest at the Tower."

"I doubt they'd like that," Natasha said.  Dawn shook her head but she was smiling.  "We will baby you tonight."

"I could use some babying."  She pulled her down and cuddled up next to her.  Clint got dinner onto plates and brought it out.  It made Dawn sit up but she almost managed to be vertical.  "I suggested Fury hire Mom to be his administrative assistant."

"She could do the work," Natasha agreed.  "He might not like the softness she'd bring to the agents when they needed it."

"I suggested he move Brenda, the new one, over the labs with a strong reminder that their only food source was dried fruit and a lot of coffee.  Then Mom could split off some of Agent Hill's duties in gathering the staff reports and all that."

"That could be helpful," Clint agreed.  "They're still planning on moving nearly everything to the hell carrier next year."

Dawn shook her head.  "They can't do that.  There's too many parents."  He gaped.  She nodded.  "No parent's going to allow that to happen."

"Usual military rules state that they'd have to give up custody while they're on the ship," Clint said.

"Yeah, because they're going to do that?  SHIELD's not military, Clint.  They can't do that."

"No, they probably can't," Natasha agreed.  "It may be moved out of New York though."

"Mom wouldn't mind being back on the west coast."

"Hmm.  And SHIELD can pretty well work anywhere," Clint agreed.  "We'll have to bring that up to Agent Hill."  He fed her a bite.  "Eat."  Dawn smiled and dug in.  "Are you having a perpetually young day?" he teased.

"No, I feel like a really old lady.  Now all I need to do is fart all the time."  She stuffed her mouth, making Natasha laugh.  They finished up and let her cuddle up again.  They could feel the pain from the bruises through the link.

Natasha was looking along it.  "You bruised those ribs."

"Hush or they'll make me stay in the infirmary instead."

"JARVIS monitors us?" Clint asked.

"For emergencies."

"That's handy to know," he decided, pulling her closer to rest against him.  "I'm a fantastic heating pad."

"You are."  She stretched out along his side, her bruised one against his.  That did help and Natasha got his chest for now.  It was comforting and nice.


Tony noticed how Dawn was moving the next morning when she brought him some files in the penthouse.  "Were you hiding some MD class credits too?"

"No, not at the moment.  Why?" she quipped.

"Because it's clear you didn't let anyone look at you in the infirmary."

"I'm fine."

"You're moving like you broke a rib."

"Maybe bruised one.  My whole side is bruised though so it's really a toss-up about how great this is.  And have I mentioned I'm taking stock in the people who make advil?"

He snorted.  "Their company doesn't have great returns.  I've done that a few times."  He moved closer.  "Just bruised?"

"Huge bruise on each side," she said.

"Go to the infirmary.  You have sparring later with Agent Coulson."

"He saw during my run this morning and winced."  She finished filing and walked off.  "I'm fine, boss."

"Uh-huh."  He called Pepper, who walked her down there.  He smiled.  He'd have to make sure she didn't teach his daughter that.  Speaking of, he watched her walk around the penthouse apartment wrapped in a large beach towel.  "What are you wearing?" he asked.

"Pretty thing like auntie."

He took a picture.  "We'll get you some better fabric to do that with."  She beamed and nodded.  He called up a search box and used it to find children's saris.  Apparently they didn't start wearing the full thing until they were adults.  So he ordered her some longer lengths of fabric in a half-length of a regular sari.  Dawn could show her how to put one on.

Pepper came off the elevator with Dawn, who was tucking her shirt back in.  "Two bruised ribs.  Aww, is that your sari?" she said, catching sight of Callia.

Dawn smiled at her.  "That's very pretty, Callia.  I'll teach you how to wind it, c'mere."  She did that and Dawn got a sheet that was from the baby crib.  "You fold it like this," she instructed.  "Then tuck it in here."  She slowly folded it and then wrapped it around properly.  "Like that."  She tucked the end over her shoulder and put on a few pins.  "There."  She smiled.


Dawn nodded with a grin.  "Yeah, a lot of wow."  They shared a smile.  "There, have Daddy take a picture."  He did that.  "Lunch?"

"Lunch," she agreed, eyes wide.  "I change?"

"No, you don't have to change.  You look very pretty."  She beamed and followed out with her and Pepper.

Tony followed because his daughter was adorable.  By the time he got to the caf, they were chatting with a few of the Indian scientists.  Dawn was explaining how she needed one for her formal dinner with a friend's family and Callia had thought it was pretty.  Tony smiled.  "I've got some fabric coming for her," he told Dawn.

"Daddy, they're from where you wear a sari," she said.  "I asked."

"She did," one said with a smile.  "She's a brilliant young child, Mr. Stark."

Tony smiled.  "She's my female clone.  That way I know what'd I've be like as Antonia Stark."  They laughed and she walked off with him.  He looked at Dawn, who nodded at her.  She had started the conversation then.  "That's great. I like how she interacts with the scientists and everyone."

"Outside the one guard that she likes to stomp on the foot of or fart at?" she guessed.

"Outside that one."  They got lunch and sat down to eat and talk with her.  Dawn put on a G-rated Bollywood film for Callia to watch, making her stare at all the fancy clothes and dance numbers.  She pointed.  He nodded he saw.  Dawn grinned.  "Bollywood is all bright and loud, kids should like that."

"It's good to expose her to things like that anyway," Pepper agreed.  "Gets her used to other cultures."  She looked.  "What sort is that one?"

"I think it's a wedding one.  It's G rated but my Hindi is a bit sparse right now."

"Finish taking the classes," Tony quipped.

"I would but I came in last night and fell onto my better side."

"Next time, you are to report to the infirmary, no matter what," Tony said firmly.

"Yes, sir."

"Good."  They watched Callia watch the movie and slowly eat.  Dawn and Pepper got back to work, leaving them to watch it together.  He had no idea why they kept having dance numbers but his daughter adored it.  Maybe this was their version of those Disney shows with teens that supposedly have talents?   Which was what his daughter liked, she hated princesses.  Even Mulan, who wasn't really a princess and she fought.


Joyce showed up for her meeting with Director Fury.  "My daughter suggested I take a position in your group?" she asked with a smile, shaking his hand.

"She did.  She was the best unpaid intern I've ever had when I could borrow her from Stark."

Joyce smiled.  "Pepper has channeled her skills very well."  She sat down.  "What sort of help did you need?"

"I need someone to do what Dawn did and straighten out my ship full of sloppy agents," he admitted.  "I'm sure you saw a few of them lose their minds and jobs?"

She smiled and nodded.  "I did and cackled I'm ashamed to say."

"I did once they were in jail."  She smiled and nodded.  He handed over something.  "Your daughter worked out how to deal with matters.  It got changed some by Agent Hill earlier, she's my senior officer, when she pointed out we couldn't consolidate back to the Hell Carrier."

She quirked an eye up.  "Like an aircraft carrier?"

"That flies," he said smugly.

"Huh.  She didn't tell me about that."  She looked it over.  "That's not a bad thing.  I can definitely do that.  How much is on-site and how much is off-site?"

"If we're on the hell carrier, you'd probably still be in the main building, which would mean Agent Hill would go back to gathering anything in person.  Dawn worked up templates based on how Stark did his forms.  I think she blatantly copied and pasted in a few cases."  Joyce grinned.  "My last one caused that problem by letting the coffee run out."

"Dawn's said that most scientists seem to live on dried fruit and coffee.  Where is the office?"

"Right now it's in town.  I'm having a new one built."  He leaned back.  "I know you're dating Doctor Banner.  He'd have R&D space with us in the building.  You might even get your daughter there if Stark moves his operations again."

"Dawn's much happier where she is."

"Yes, but they'd be coming too.  Barton and Romanoff are both agents."

"I know."  She smiled.  "I haven't done much administrative work in this manner but I did run my own art gallery so I've had to do most of it in another method.  Dawn told me that most of what she does is organizing and filing."  He nodded.  "I can do that.  I do not know how to use a weapon and I'm not terribly interested in finding out how."

"That could be a problem if we're attacked but we do have non-lethal weapons.  Agent Coulson has a tazer he apparently carries more often than his sidearm."  He smirked.  "We can work around that."

"Doctors appointments to follow up on my former cancer?"

"Those as well."

"Then I'll accept."  She smiled.

He shook her hand.  "I'll get the contract to you later today.  Report tomorrow with it."  He handed over the address and temporary pass from his pocket.  "Top floor, report to Agent Hill and she'll get you set up."

She smiled.  "I've met Agent Hill.  She's a wonderfully smart girl and I hope her parents are absolutely proud of her."

"I'm sure they would be."  He smiled and left.  That solved one huge headache and one minor one.  Because it meant that Joyce couldn't really have him lynched in the press again.

Joyce smiled and packed up, going home.  Bruce was going to be happy.  They might get to celebrate.  She got home to find him trying to calm down.  She put down her briefcase and walked over.  "Bad time in the lab?"  He nodded, lips pressed together.  She kissed him and he moaned, pulling her closer.  "I'm not scared of him but if he breaks the tv, you're buying a new one," she said with a smile.

He laughed, hugging her.  "I would."  He looked at her.  "You look happy."

"I'm going to be Director Fury's new assistant."

"Really?"  She nodded.  "We heard he's moving to the hell carrier."

"Not totally."

"Huh."  He took another kiss.  It was helping him calm down.  He was still a bit green and expanded but not totally.  She teased his shoulder through his shirt, making him shiver.  "Joyce, I can't lose control right now."

"I know you won't hurt me.  If you change I'll cuddle but you're not getting sex that way." 
He snickered.  "No, I wouldn't expect it."  He kissed her again and used that to calm himself down.  He was still slightly green and expanded but he was calmer, feeling more in control.  She did lead them up to the bedroom because she knew they weren't teenagers to have sex on the couch.  He groaned and went with whatever wicked plans she had for him.  It always made him feel good.


Stark turned off the security alarm to Joyce's house for a second time.  "JARVIS, you're being a pervert," he complained.

"He is still partially hulked out, sir."

"Yes, but she's taking care of it.  Lower the sensitivity to if he grows a foot or is fully green."

"Yes, sir."  He did that.  "Should I also lower the sensor on Dawn's apartment?"

"Yes.  I've been meaning to lower that since she's so loud."

Natasha cleared her throat from the doorway.  "You have us bugged?"

"No, we have an emergency sensor there in case screaming starts.  Apparently you're good to her," he shot back with a smirk.

"Yes, we are."  She strolled in.  "Were is his new building going?"

"No clue.  Maybe nearer to the dock?"

"That would be a bad commute."

"We might be able to put in some sort of super speedy rail shuttle."  He shrugged.  "Have to see about that."  She nodded.  "Why are you here in assistant gear?"

"Stark sitting."

"Ah.  You can go babysit the one that needs it."

"No, I think not."

"Damn.  Well all I'm doing is repairs."  He walked off to get back to it.  "Did he hire Joyce?"



"Why was Banner halfway gone?"

"Idiot with opinions."  He looked at her.  "I'm glad I don't have to buy a new physicist who only thinks she knows half of what Banner forgot about gamma radiation."

She nodded.  "They can be annoying.  Is that the same one that called Dawn a slut?"

"Yup.  She's apparently part of the group that thinks I'm turning her into the mother of my heir too."

"A woman like Dawn would never permanently wait at home for you to get home from the lab," she said dryly.

"As opposed to sitting home while you're on missions?"

"I come home."

"True.  Partially."  He smirked.  "I came home for Pepper."

"Yes but then you kept forgetting."

He looked at her.  "If we're comparing how fucked up our relationships are, I'm not really into girl talk."  He dropped the pencil he was twirling and stared at her.  "Though I will warn you that if you fuck up Dawn in a permanent manner I'm going to make sure your last few days on this earth are a living hell as you're slowly dissolved one way or another."

She tipped her head.  "I would never want to do that."

"Good."  He smiled.  "Then perhaps you'd like to explain why you missed her birthday again this year?  We had lunch with her."

She winced.  "It's next week."

"It's yesterday."  He called up her HR forms.  "See?"

She looked and sighed.  "We were planning it for next week."

"I'm sure she'd like it then too."  He canceled it.  "We want Dawn to be as happy as humanly possible.  Apparently she likes you two that way, even if you do forget dates and occasionally have to disappear for weeks on end without being able to call."  She tipped her head.  "I'm pretty sure the line to kill you both if you screw this up and hurt her starts behind Coulson, but I may be wrong and Joyce is in front.  It may depend on who's there first.  I will be the last one you see however."

"I would never do it on purpose."

"Good."  He smiled.  "I'd hate to see what she'd do with her skill set."

"Me as well."  She shook her head.  "Not why I came in here.  The president is looking for you."

"I'm not talking to world leaders today.  That's why I have Pepper."

"He won't talk to her.  Line three."

He looked around because he might as well before he found if she had learned nagging from Dawn or not.  "JARVIS, line three."

"On, sir."

"What did you need?" he asked the air.

"Are you aware that the Avengers are planning to move out of the US, Mr. Stark?" the president asked.

"I believe he's going to be changing headquarter buildings, not moving us totally.  He would like to decentralize back to the hell carrier but he has too many parents in his staff."


"Almost everyone celebrates the world not ending," he said blandly.  "Even SHIELD agents."

"Oh.  Parents."

"I'm told he had to change the status of ninety-seven people."

"Ow.  So he's going to be looking for a better building?"

"I think he wants to craft one for his specific needs."

"We'll see.  How is that assistant of yours?"

"She's wonderful.  Dawn's a great help to me."


"Yes, Dawn.  She's technically Pepper's assistant but she spends half her time in the labs being the assistant to all my scatterbrained geniuses around here."

"Oh, I had no idea she wasn't part of SHIELD."

"She never was.  We graciously leant her to Fury when his disappeared during the goo clones.  She straightened out his problems there a few times."

"I see.  Interesting."

"Fury tried to steal her but we won because I'm the better boss.  Anything else, sir?  I'm in the middle of chewing on someone about how her relationship is making Pepper upset."

"No, thank you."  He hung up.

Stark looked at her.  "If Pepper starts to cry about it, you're on your own.  Pepper swings a mean softball bat."

"I've heard."  She walked off smiling.  Not many dared to threaten her.  She passed by Dawn in the halls.  "You're limping?"

"Nerve things."  She smiled at her.  "Did Tony give you the shovel talk?"

"Shovel talk?"

"You upset my friend that you're dating and I'll beat you to death with  shovel."

"Yes, I believe it was."  She smiled.  Now she understood.

Dawn grinned back.  "That's sweet.  Mom was going to."

Natasha patted her on the arm.  "It does mean that they care a lot for you.  Where are you heading?"

"Storage three.  Someone dropped something into there that shouldn't be there."

"I can help.  Pepper had me checking the labs for reports."

"You didn't upset Jonathan and Andrew, right?"

"No.  They flinched but I assured them I wasn't metallic and they smiled.  They are calmer without Warren."

"They are," she agreed, grinning again and walking with her.  "They're really nice guys.  Xander was right that they're great guys.  I only met them through him."

"They're what I'm used to geniuses being like.  Stark is nearly spastic next to them."

Dawn laughed.  "There's a linear template for that.  Some are calmer, some are like Rodney on a flailing day."  Natasha laughed.  "At least he quit flailing with coffee after something he spilled some on bit him back."  They walked into Storage three and paused.  There was a bright red light off to the side.  Dawn snuck carefully closer, pointing at her to stay there.  Odds were if it was something it wasn't something she could shoot at.  "What are you?" Dawn asked it.  The energy creature stared at her.  "Did you travel here?"  It shivered and tried to disappear.  "Oh, no."  She slapped a containment field button and the whole room was shielded.  The being zapped around.

"Dawn," Natasha ordered.  "Get out of there."  Dawn got out but did get mildly zapped.  She checked her over.  "Breathe."  Dawn gulped air and rubbed her chest.  She called for a medical team and Stark to come handle this thing.

Stark got there first, he was closer.  He stared.  "What's that?"

"Don't know.  It hit Dawn and she's having some light chest pains.  I'd expect something electrical."

"We were looking for Dr. Boran's journal," Dawn panted, holding her chest.  The doctors rushed in and helped move her away from there.  They got Dawn calmed down and zapped her to counter the off-rhythm beat her heart now had.  Dawn got to relax, looking exhausted.  "So this is Wednesday of the Week of Stupidity," she quipped weakly.  "I'm not staying overnight."

"You will if you must," Natasha said.  She followed them.

Dr. Pigalli looked at her.  "You're not on the paperwork, you don't get to make decisions for her," she noted.  Natasha winced.

"Correct that for me, Doc," Dawn called, wincing as she moved.  "I want her and Clint on it."

"We didn't want to be noted on paperwork," Natasha said.  "People could take the wrong information from it."

Dr. Pigalli looked at her.  "I think Dawn can pretty well protect herself or it wouldn't have taken you over a year to get back."  She walked over.  "You have to correct the forms, not me."

"She and Clint can make decisions for me.  I don't want Mom stressed.  Please don't let Buffy do it."

"I won't," she promised.  "Let's give you something light to help you doze."

"Hell no."

"Shut up, Dawn.  Mr. Stark's orders, you are to be taken care of even if you fuss."  She stuck her anyway.  She saw the two worried boys in the doorway.  "She's fine.  The electrical monster touched her and we had to put her back on rhythm."

Andrew swallowed and nodded.  "Good.  Can we visit?"


"Boys, do you have something that can defeat a being of electrical energy?" Natasha asked.  They nodded.  "Storage three."  They ran that way after a stop in their lab.  She came in and sat beside Dawn's bed.  "You'll be fine and we'll baby you again tonight."  Dawn shifted onto her side, facing her.  She patted her hand.  "Rest."  She got up and went to help or take over Dawn's duties. She hated waiting and watching someone in the hospital.  She did not have that sort of patience.  Snipers had that sort of patience.


Clint looked up from the meeting he was in then at Coulson.  "Something's going on at Stark."

"Interesting."  He called.  "Agent Romanoff, we'd like a report," he said into her voicemail.  He hung up and shook his head.  "No answer."

"Huh.  The light tether that Dawn keeps on people to help her stay focused when she's doing ten things she shouldn't do at the same time went blank."  He called.  "Hey, Doc.  What's happened?"  He winced.  "She okay?  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Energy problem in the storage area."

"Really," Phil said.  Clint smiled and nodded.  "Why?"

"Don't know.  She got zapped.  Agent Romanoff's helping."

"Great."  The junior agents all groaned.  He nodded.  "Welcome to dealing with Stark.  Learn to have quiet patience and calm security that you can probably kill someone if you have to.  And then get Dawn or Pepper Potts to yell for you."

Clint got a text and looked at it.  "Andrew."  Phil stiffened because Andrew texting was the sign of a Very Bad Thing going on.  "She's fine.  They had to hit her with a jolt when the energy monster touched her."

"Energy monster?" Phil asked, trying to stay calm.

"In storage room 3."  He texted back.  Andrew sent what it was.  "Oh, it was naturally occurring because people stored the wrong things in there together in the wrong sort of containment box."

"So Stark's getting ready to turn one of his people into hamburger," Phil said.  "Does Agent Romanoff need backup?"

"She got the two geeks to help Stark."  He sent one back and put the phone into his pocket.

Phil nodded.  "Good."  He took a breath then looked at them.  "It's not usually this bad, but now and then....."

"Dawn called it the Week of Stupidity," Clint quipped.

"Yes, it has been."

"She asked that we not mail them any more."

"If it happens here, we do know how to fall out and handle things?  We need to go over invasion drills anyway," he decided at the blank looks.  He pulled up those files.  That's not what this meeting was for but he'd never leave the ship or main building that unprotected.  Clint got up and left.  Phil would talk to him later.  One agent raised her hand.  "Yes, Agent Steller?"

"We heard rumors, sir."

"He was under mind control at the time.  He was unable to fight it.  Frankly, if a god messes with your mind, we'd probably forgive you too after making sure you're normal."

"Not about that.  About them being taken?"

He sighed.  "That's classified and if anyone else mentions it, you are to tell them that.  That's also a bad subject because someone was trying to use SHIELD to their own agenda, mainly to create a new world order."  She shuddered.  "If we had known before then, they would not have been taken.  If we had known where they were, we would have went to rescue them.  We did try and missed them by about fifteen minutes."  She nodded, looking down.  "If it should happen again, SHIELD is going to do a lot of very unsubtle damage to prove our point.  Last time they managed to not cause a lot."  He smiled.  "That's because they're excellent agents who do their chosen jobs *very* well."  She nodded.  "I hope more of you make it to their level of agent.  Some day, we'll need people to take our jobs."

"Yes, sir.  Is there special training available?"

"Yes, there's quite a lot.  If you want considered, you talk to Agent Hill and she'll have you tested if she thinks you can handle it."

"She's a bit scary, sir," one of the male agents said.

Phil stared him down.  "Agent Hill is not that scary, but she is very firm.  If she's the worst thing you have to face while at SHIELD, you've been hiding in a closet a lot."  The agent ducked his head.  "Now, let's get back to reminding you of invasion protocols."  He went back over it.  Someone really had to look over the pre-training for agents again.  Even Dawn was stronger than these ones.


Phil walked up to Maria Hill, handing her a cup of coffee from the Starbucks up the street.  "Between the energy monster at Stark and the new agents I'm supposed to be leading in training thinking you're scary...."  She burst out laughing.  "Dawn called it the Week of Stupidity."

"It is."  She sipped.  "Perfect, thank you," she said, relaxing some.  "Any hope?"

"Many.  I may have to beat someone but perhaps.  I stopped the original lecture to make sure they knew what invasion protocols are."

"Fury wants to run a drill," she said quietly.

"Please tell me he's not going to force Barton," he said quietly.

"Yup.  Already told him."

"Shit."  He looked around and found him.  He sent a thought at him, getting a head shake back.  "When?"

"Up to him.  No helping him plan it."  She looked at him.  "He's been thinking about a second team," she said more quietly.

"We don't have the people for it yet."  He walked in there.  "Sir."

"Agent Coulson, if you're going to complain....."

Phil turned and shut the office door and muted the shields, then let his aura out.  "Until I can decide if any of them are able to handle the duty and get them worked around to wanting to be Avengers and protectors, there's not a chance we'll have a second team."

"They gave you a power to help you with them."

"Yes, they did."  He smiled and muted it.  "Which is why Xander hinted.  They pulled me up to talk to me and made sure I could handle it if someone like Thor or John Sheppard had to go rogue."

"I see.  Are you a god?"  Phil stared at him.  "No, that's good that you're not."  He frowned.  "I need Barton able to handle a raid."

"He can.  When they were on leave protecting each other they ran a lot of them.  Including having Dawn help a few times."

"That wasn't in any report."

"Nor will it be.  They won't expose anything about that time."


"To protect Dawn and how much tampering they had to undo.  I've barely heard any of it, sir, and Dawn would probably tell me if it wasn't something she knew could not get out."

"I can agree with that," he decided.  "Is she any good?"  Phil quirked up an eyebrow.  "I know I can't recruit her."

"Dawn will do what she needs to do if and when the time comes, sir.  Same as before."

"Fine.  So they did lead raids?"

"Yes.  There were more than a few problems that got solved, even if they did nag Dawn that she has too many material assets."

"Sometimes that links you back."

"Which alone proves that Dawn's not agent material.  That and she still can't climb a rope."

Fury snorted.  "Whatever.  Have him pick three teams, to try on different days."

"I had to go over invasion scenarios earlier instead of the training I was supposed to be doing, sir."

"Go over it for everyone."  Phil nodded.  "Will that end once you find them all?"

"Sir, I won't be able to find them all.  Some of them are hiding from the Chinese army."  Fury slumped.  "Xander said there's one very strong one over there that had helped defend China and their pantheon for ages, nearly as long as Xander has, but he disappeared when communists took over.  No one's even sure if he's alive."

"Fine.  Keep me informed.  Does it give you any powers like flight or teleportation?"

"Not as far as I know."  He walked off, going to Agent Hill again.  "We are to go over invasion protocols this week."  She nodded.  He sent a thought at Clint about that change in plans, getting a smirk and a text that simply said 'yes, sir' back.  "Two weeks, Barton."

"Yep, I can do that."  He got up and went to talk to the bigger gossips.  He had to pick teams carefully.  He wanted them to be good and strong but it would probably be bad if they overthrew SHIELD.

Coulson and Hill shared a look.  "Three," he said quietly.

"Okay," she agreed.  She sent out the staff-wide memo to order everyone to review and update their invasion and defensive action strategies.  That they were to go over them every three months.  The first mandatory review was this week and she would be checking for compliance.  That was subtle enough.


Dawn walked up to Tony and Pepper, pushing them back into the office and shutting the door.  "Fury called an invasion drill soon," she said quietly.  "Three different days.  Clint's picking the teams."

"Okay, then I won't go in blasting when it happens."

"What if something happens when it happens?" Pepper asked.  "Especially this week."

"I'm not sure if Fury wouldn't want it to be live fire," Stark said.  Dawn shrugged.  "Thanks for the warning."  He looked her over.  She was in one of the older full business suits with a jacket.  It was about eighty degrees in the building.  "Ribs?"

"Ribs."  She walked off.

"I don't know of anyone who can wear a bra with bruised ribs," Pepper agreed quietly.  "At least she can camouflage it."

"Thankfully.  We do have that meeting tomorrow."  Pepper winced.  "Lunch?" he suggested.  They both looked up at the alarm.  "JARVIS, what did Dawn do this time?" Tony asked on his way to the elevators.

"She was in the garage to escort someone to their car because they were found crying in a hallway.  Two cars sped in and tried to capture the one with her.  Dawn isn't gravely injured, just a graze.  The three agents in the cars are not as lucky.  The woman she was guarding is sobbing against a car.  NYPD is already responding."

Tony went down there.  "Dawn?"  She waved, trying to get the woman calmed down.  "What happened?"

"They sped in and slid," Dawn said with a point.  "Got out with guns drawn."  Officers were showing up.  "Freeze," she shouted.  "That's a weapon you just stepped on.  I doubt the safety is on."  The officer looked and carefully put is foot beside it.  She helped the young woman up.  "They came in, slid, and ran out like idiots waving guns to get her," she told the officer coming to them first.  "She was crying in the halls, I'm not sure why.  She hasn't calmed down enough to tell me."

"Miss, are either of you injured?"

"We have an infirmary for lab accidents," Tony assured him.  "Dawn?"

"Slight graze, right over the bruised ribs from the filing cabinets."

"Great," Tony sighed.  "Can we take this upstairs to the infirmary?"  The hysterical one shook her head.

Dawn sighed and pulled up some magic.  "Calm," she said, brushing a hand over her forehead.  She let the magic go when the woman quit crying.  "Why are you sobbing?"

"I'm scared!"

"Okay, and I get that.  Is why you were crying at first why you're still crying?"  She nodded.  "Why is that?"  She got into her phone and showed her.  "That sucks,"  she said, handing it to the officer.

Tony looked at it then at her.  "Which department do you work in?"

"HR!" she said, starting to cry again.

"Not much damage you can do there outside of personnel things," Dawn said, looking at Tony.  "Trying to get information on the scientists?"

"Probably.  There's some really dumb agents, as you know."  She nodded.  The officers were staring at them.  "She did an unpaid internship at SHIELD."  They nodded they could agree with that.  Pepper came down.  "Pepper, they have her kids hostage and were coming to get her."

"Okay," she said, walking her off.  "Come on, we'll go get some tea in my office.  Officers?"  One followed.  One followed Dawn and Tony to the infirmary.  Dawn winced as she pulled off the jacket and blouse, then lifted the t-shirt material tank top bra underneath it.

Tony looked.  "Not too bad."

"I'll heal it in a few, when I've caught my breath."

He nodded.  "Well, it had been every other day until today."

"I wasn't the target this time, boss."

"No, thankfully you weren't."  He frowned, looking around.  "Where's Dr. Pigalli?" he asked the nurse.  "I know it's her day on."

"She's off today due to a sore throat.  Doctor Demets is here instead, Mr. Stark."  She smiled.

"I don't think I've met him."

"He's the resident."

"We have a resident?"  She nodded.  "Why?  We're not a teaching hospital."

"He wanted to do more work with trauma."

"Oh, okay, I guess.  A bit weird but okay."  He was frowning when the young doctor came in.  He was six-three or four, muscled, fit, tanned, had a great smile, great hair.  Tony's hackles went up.  He was a bit too perfect.

Dawn looked at him then growled and moved the officer out of the way so she could attack.

"I'm supposed to be protecting you," the officer protested.  Stark got him out of the way but Dawn wouldn't let him help either.

"Sit!" Dawn snapped.  The guy smirked and attacked harder, moving with a foot sweep.  Dawn, who was in heels, jumped then kicked and pulled a few hidden daggers off her belt.  He knocked one out with a kick but she got his leg with the other one.  She pulled the other weapons in that set, the sickles.  The guy growled.  Dawn was staring at him.  He attacked and Dawn fought back harder, making him a sorry spy.  She had the guy backing up and had a few new cuts from his longer knife but he was bleeding a lot too.

"Down," Natasha yelled.  Dawn moved and she shot him in the stomach.  She walked over.  "Are you that sore?" she demanded.

"Hello, two bruised ribs and a new graze on top of them," Dawn defended.

"Shoot him next time."

"NYPD has the gun because they were attacking someone in the parking garage while I was helping her to her car."

Natasha huffed.  "You should conceal more weapons."

"I can't do that in a knee-length dress.  The ankle holster shows."  Natasha smiled.  Dawn looked at herself then sighed.  "Let me go heal these."  She walked off, using her tanktop to wipe off the blades.  She summoned the daggers and put them back too once they were clean.

"Dawn," Tony said, following her to the hallway bathroom.

"Going to the bathroom and if you follow me in there I'm going to spread rumors that you're hitting on me, boss."

"You're not my type, Dawn.  You're too young."  He made her stop and head back to the infirmary.  "Let us help you clean them up."

"I'm going to heal them and that means I need to be more naked so I can see them."

"Yay," he shot back.  He pointed at the infirmary bathroom.  "Take the nurse in there and do it."  She sighed but did that.  He looked at Natasha, who shrugged.  "Where were you?"


"Pepper and that one all right?"

"Fine.  She's still crying."

"They have her kids," the officer said.  "Is that...."

"People like to steal Dawn," Tony said.  "We made sure she was fully trained in self defense.  Speaking of, Agent Romanoff, please go find out who that putz belongs to."  She walked off to drag him into a room so they could...chat.  He smiled at the officer.  "When can she have her gun back?"

"As soon as ballistics registers it.  As long as it's registered."

"I believe it is, yes."

"Good."  He walked off making a report.   He noticed who was coming up the hallway and stared.  War Machine.  Out of the suit at least.  "Mr. Stark's in there."

"Figures she shoved him out of the way again."  He walked into the infirmary.  "Short Stuff shoved you out of the way?"


"Decided since she couldn't kick my butt she'd do his?"

Tony was staring at the mouse ears and fuzzy nose that were slowly growing on his best friend's face.  "Huh," he said.  "Dawn, that's mean."

"He squeaks a lot.  If he keeps it up, he'll have three fingers and red shorts too," she called back.  The nurse was giggling.

"Damn it!" Rhodey complained.  His voice sounded like he was sucking helium.

Dawn leaned out, clearly shirtless.  "Shut up, Lt. Colonel Squeaker."  She closed the door again.

"Wow, huge mousy," Callia said, sounding awed.  "Thanks, Daddy!  I'll name him Cheese!  That way I have a veggie and a cheese, and if Pepper's there I get two veggies and a cheese!  That way it's well balanced like the tv people say food has to be."  She hauled Rhodey off.  He was pretty much in shock.

"Um, dear," Tony said, following her.  "Let Uncle Rhodey go so Auntie can turn him back please?"

"But... my Cheese!" she complained.

"I'll get you a pet mouse to go with Carrot."  She beamed and let him have the Air Force officer back.  "Why don't you go help Pepper calm down the lady from HR?  They're in the office and she's crying."  She ran to the elevator to do that.  He looked at Rhodey.  "I'll have her change you back," he said quietly.  "Go...  Go take a nap.  You look tired."  He tried to pat him on the shoulder but couldn't do it.

"I am for some reason, yes."  He walked off rubbing his new nose and checking his new tail.

"Dawn, change him back please," Tony ordered.  "Without a stop at the Squeaky size."

"Yes, boss.  If I must."

"Thank you."  He walked to where Natasha was dealing with him.  "Who is he with and why does he want Dawn?"

"He was going to use her to get information for his people in Great Britain who want their own Iron Man."  She finished her patch-up job on his stomach, which was making him cry.  "Then next time do not take what is mine," she said in Russian.  He shivered.  She smirked.  "Or Hawkeye's."

"She's your student?" he panted in Russian.


He swallowed.  "I understand, Widow.  Thank you for leaving me living."

"Next time I will not and she will not.  If she had not been injured from earlier in the week we would not be having this talk."  He shivered but nodded.  "Good."  She flipped open her phone.  "Agent Hill, I intercepted a British agent here to get information on Iron Man so they can make their own.  Injured, though I have patched him up slightly."  She stared at him.  He looked away.  "That is acceptable.  By the infirmary.  No, she's fine.  The incident in the garage caused a graze but otherwise she's fine."  She hung up and stared at him.  "Thank you for cooperating."  She walked out, heading for the bathroom.

The nurse stood in her way.  "Agent Romanoff, until you let her put you on the paperwork I can't let you into her treatment area."

"I thought I put it on there last night," Dawn said, sounding tired.

"If not, it will be on there later," Natasha said, pulling Dawn closer.  "Still can't heal the ribs?"  She shook her head.  "Well, the bruises faded."

"Still hurt."

"I know."  Dawn got handed in a t-shirt by Tony, who wasn't looking.  "Thank you."  She helped her into it, watching where she winced.  She opened the bond because Dawn was hiding it.  "We'll soak later."

Dawn grinned.  "I'd like that."

"Good."  She walked her out.  "Let me get her home."

"I have three hours left to work today.  I'm not going home early in my first real week of work," Dawn complained.  "I can be sedately filing though."

"Fine, we'll *file*," she said, staring at Dawn.  Dawn sent over it was important that no one here thought she was weak, or they'd attack again.  "I agree."  She walked her back up there.  "That skirt is too long for effective fighting."

"It's an old one.  I need the matching jacket to cover that I was only wearing the t-shirt bra."  She settled in with a wince and a hiss.  "Remember when I was seventeen and that super hoover slut kept trying to get Tony so she was trying to get me out of the way?" she asked quietly.  "I don't want that again."

"I remember.  It's tactically sound but we do not want you in pain."

"I know.  I don't like being in pain."  Natasha smiled.  "But I can't appear weak."

"I understand.  We will file together."

Dawn looked around then leaned on her arm.  "I need to spar again."

"We will once you're fully healed.  We've been meaning to."  She smiled and helped her sit up.  "We'll file."  She winked and got her sedate things to do.

Phil walked up the hall and looked at Dawn.  "Shouldn't you be home?"

"No.  It'll make me look weak."

He stared at her.  "If another one like that bitch shows up, I'll take her out.  Let's go home."

"She had better be packing up to go home for the night," Pepper called.  "She's injured.  I want her resting tonight."

Dawn leaned in there.  "I can handle the next few hours, Pepper.  It's healed."

"Yay!  Show up in the morning!  Not like I'm going to fire you for defending yourself twice."

"Twice?" Coulson asked.  "Why twice?"  Natasha said something in his ear.  He looked at her.  "Let's go.  Agent Romanoff, coming?  I'll give you a ride."

"Yes, I am."  She helped Dawn gather the few things.  "We'll see you in the morning."

"Sure," Pepper agreed with a smile.  She looked at Phil.  "She's too strong for her own good."

"She mentioned the woman that had wanted Stark when she was seventeen."

"That made me worry a lot so she's to quit that," Pepper ordered.  He smiled and followed the ladies downstairs.  "I swear," she complained, leaning back.  "The Week of Stupidity only has a few more days or else I'll end the calendar."


Clint stared down at the agent that Natasha had been talking to earlier.  The man looked up at him, blinking.  "You did what?" he demanded quietly.

"I had no idea."

"Uh-huh."  He smirked slightly.  "You're in such deep shit it's not funny."

"I'd never do it again.  She made herself clear."  The smirk got brighter.  "Including that the young one is not a student, merely trained for self-defense."

"She is."

"She moves wrong."

"She has two bruised ribs."

"That would explain it.  How is she usually?"

"Great."  He walked off.  "I'd better never see you again."

"You won't."  He settled in to hold his stomach.  The SHIELD doctors hadn't been as nice as Agent Romanoff.  Whoever that young woman was he had been tasked in taking to control, she was well liked.


By the time he got home, Dawn was naked and letting Natasha work some sort of cream into her bruises.  "That bad?" he asked, closing the door.  Natasha nodded.  "She break the bruised ones?"

"Not that I can tell.  Possibly cracked one."  Dawn made a whining sound.  "She was going to prove she was stronger by staying."

"I've done that."  He moved the pillow Dawn was hugging and let her curl up against his chest.  "One more day."

She looked up.  "Which means we'll have another invasion on Saturday or Sunday."  She put her head back down.  "What did he want?"

"You so he could put you under his control, which would lead to you getting him the Iron Man information," Natasha said.  She found another bruise from the fight.  "She didn't look bad considering her side was in agony from the new graze and the bruised ribs."

"Maybe she should take a day at SHIELD to show Joyce how to do those forms," Clint said.  "Not tomorrow but sometime soon."

Dawn looked at him.  "If they get near my mother, I have an alarm that will summon me and I can't guarantee I'll remember it's an exercise if they're using live ammo.  Mom doesn't like guns."  He winced but nodded.

"We'll get your mother out of there," Natasha promised.  "Though, if they're doing it tomorrow then there's every chance it'll be used as a cover for a more extensive one."

"I told them to make sure of it," he said.  "Just in case."

"At least the ones who used you two breaking in to get that arms dealer to overthrow him were nice enough not to hit on me," Dawn quipped, sounding tired.  "The PMS I had that week might've killed them all."

"I thought women synched up," Clint complained.

"Ours are prompted by the pill cycle," Dawn said, looking up at him.  "It can't."

"Oh."  He nodded and she put her head back down.  Natasha smiled and kissed her back, earning a groan.  "Shift around so she can do your front."

"I love you guys but I'm not in the mood for sex," Dawn admitted.  "I'm exhausted.  Which sucks since I'm doing less now than I was before."

Clint smiled.  "It's just the injuries.  Like in Peru."  Dawn turned and he pulled her into his lap.  Natasha smiled but fixed all the bruises.  "How many times did he tag you?"

"My blocking skills are non-existent on that side," Dawn admitted.  "Each time I move that arm it sends a lightening bolt of agony down my side and made my leg nearly give."

"Standing is better," Natasha said quietly.  "I took an extra second, I'm sorry."

Dawn kissed her.  "You did great."  She moaned as Clint's hands worked on her shoulders.  "Maybe I might feel up to sex."  They laughed at that.

"You'd spoil us the same way," Clint reminded her.  She nodded, letting them pamper her.  She needed and deserved it.

Natasha kissed her.  "If you make it a whole week without something stupid happening I might even consider the option of the office Halloween party."

Dawn smiled at her.  "Buffy said I need to go as something that shows off my stomach muscles."

"That's not really appropriate," Clint said.  "Even in Stark's company full of bimbos."

"I was thinking the purple sari," Dawn said.  She looked back at him.  "Phil has to go to the ball because he's on for Fury's guard detail."

"At least he can wear a suit."

"No, bodyguards are to be dressed up, but they can be identical so they can identify each other."  She grinned.  "I suggested they go as superheros in spandex."  Natasha burst out cackling.  She smiled and took a kiss from each of them.  "That was not his reaction."

"I can't see Fury dressing up."

"I think he'll pull the formal leathers out of his closet," Dawn said dryly.  "Maybe he'll go as a gladiator."

"That's an image I don't need," Natasha said, kissing her to take the silly images out of her mind.  "What is that choker?"

"That is the special choker that Lavelle wears, ours in this realm anyway."  She got up with a moan and got it, bringing it out.  "I can't hitch it on for you or only I can remove it."

"It's magical?"

"It's a really powerful chaos artifact."  Clint pulled her back down so she leaned her head on Natasha's convenient shoulder so he could get more of her back.

"Hedonist," he teased.

"Yes I am.  And you're great at prompting that feeling, both of you are."  She kissed the skin next to her lips.

Natasha put it on and squeaked when it changed her. She carefully removed it.  "It's for disguises?"  Dawn took it to put on and changed to a guy, then handed it back once it was off and she was back to normal.  "That was thorough."

"Any picture in your mind," she said.  "He got stuck into it as a girl so he had to learn."

"Huh," Clint said.  "That could be handy."

"Which is why I'm pretty sure Xander left it with me to guard," she quipped back.  She looked back.  "Lavelle uses it so much that he has set personalities in each gender.  His boyfriends only really love him as a girl though."  Clint shivered.  She smiled.  "Only one issue.  There is a single fertility spell that works with it.  There, Janus used it on Lavelle's copy.  Here, the thing is locked up."

"So... he got pregnant?  Lavelle is that world's Xander, right?"

"Yeah, and yes, he did."  She got up to get a photo album.  She found the picture.  "That's one I copied out of his wallet."

"That's a lot of kids," Clint said.

She pointed.  "He had that set of twins and this set of twins, and this one."  She smiled.  "Himself."

"Okay, so if I'm in it, we need to make sure no chaos gods are going to prompt me to get pregnant."  He handed it back.  "You two can play with that."  Dawn kissed him and he smiled.  "I'd feel like I was cheating."  She grinned.  Natasha moved up behind her, naked now as well.  Dawn leaned back to kiss her.  Clint groaned.  Dawn was clearly feeling better. He could join the nakedness.  Dawn did it for him.  That helped him pull her into his lap and slide into her while those two kissed.  She moaned into Natasha's mouth, making her groan back.  He let Dawn turn around and slowly rode her while Natasha was played with and teased.  Dawn ended up nibbling on her until she came then Clint gently helped Dawn on top of her and rode her until she was just as limp. He let himself come and snuggled his ladies.  They were good together.  This was the best end of the stupid week there was.


Phil looked up from his paperwork of doom, confused when he felt that switch in one of his people.  "What are they doing?"  Then it hit another one but it came back off almost immediately.  He sent a thought at Xander who reminded him of that choker.  "Oh, she showed them."  He pulled away because he had felt them deciding to calm her down.  He did not need to know.  A plate appeared next to him.  He thought at Xander.

Xander appeared.  "I did not send that.  Or the honey dust that's on the fruit."  He smiled.  "I think that's from Freya."

"Isn't she a love goddess?"


"Ah."  He nodded.  "Is honey dust toxic?"

"It's a sex game.  You lick it off people."

"That stuff, okay."  He ate a piece of peach and nodded.  "She had good taste pairing it together but it still won't make me want to marry anyone."

Xander smirked.  "She's going to call you a tease."

"She might but I missed lunch."  He ate another piece, letting Xander have one.

Xander smirked evilly.  "Cunning, I like that.  I can see you being in Slytherin."

"I'm not sure which house I'd fall into," he admitted, eating a berry.  Xander cackled and left.  Phil got back to his boring mundane identity.  He heard the alarm and winced.  "Shit," he muttered, grabbing weapons and heading upstairs.  Joyce was in the building.  He looked around then popped up there and took her out of harm's way.  "Stay."  He disappeared to go handle whatever was going on.  It had better not be the invasion drill or he'd be beating someone to death.

Fury winced and came out to get his new assistant out of harm's way before Summers showed up to kill them all.  She wasn't there.  "Agent Hill?" he called, heading for her.

"Two small groups, sir.  Both on the lower levels.  Agents are fighting back."

"Ours or not?" he demanded.

"I can't get a reading and it's not like we have ID chips like pets, sir."

"My assistant so I don't have to see Summers apologize for blowing us all up?"

"I saw Agent Coulson take her off."

"Good."  He looked at the status reports.  "They're heading for the prison?"

"No, sir, that's a diversion," Agent Hill said, looking at another screen.  She sent agents toward floors three and five.  "I'm still not sure if this is the drill or not," she said quietly when Fury looked at her.

"All agents, if this is the drill, you got farther than I expected.  If it's not, they're enemies."  New gunfire erupted.  "No, it's not."  He moved to guard the main area.  They weren't coming up there though.  "Get that spy out of the cells!" he snapped.

"He's not there, sir, only Hammer is," another bridge agent yelled.  The HQ main admin area was set up a lot like the bridge on the hell carrier so no one had to get used to new things.

"Someone get down there to keep them from getting him free again."  He rushed off to help since they weren't coming up there.


Joyce was in her nice, safe spot when people rushed in with guns.  "Boys."

They stared at her.  "Hands up," one shouted.

Joyce stared at him.  "Do not yell at me."  The lead bad guy threatened her with his gun.  She snorted.  "I've seen death.  My daughters and I have all seen death.  Frankly, they can do it better than you can because they can do it in heels and a short skirt."

"I know her, she's the mother of a slayer."

"Oh, you must be Council," Joyce said, stabbing him.  "I've always wanted to do that to Travers, I guess you'll stand in this time."  Agents came rushing in and she got out of the way.  She put her pretty self defense dagger back into her pocket.  "I'll have Dawn help me clean that later."  She smiled at the man she had stabbed.  "What is the Council doing invading SHIELD?"  He spluttered.  "That is not polite.  I may not have been able to teach Buffy to wear real shirts, but I did teach her manners."  He tried to crawl away.  "Want me to call my daughters to come ask?"

"No!" he shouted.  The local agents smiled as they hauled him away.

"Let us question him, Mrs. Summers.  We really liked Dawn when she was here."

"She is a good daughter," she agreed.

One looked at her.  "How did you get down here?"

"Phil.  He was protecting me."

"That's nice of him.  Come this way, ma'am, the mess is probably safer."  He helped her up there.  "Dawn spoke of you often."

"Dawn's a sweet, good daughter.  I don't know what I would've done if Dawn hadn't managed to grow up with Pepper helping her.  She did an excellent job with her."

"She did," he agreed.  "Here, ma'am, have some tea.  If they show up here you can yell and we'll come stab them for you."

She patted him on the cheek.  "Thank you, Agent Bronson."

He grinned, she knew his name!  He went to help torture the one she had stabbed.

Joyce did get herself some tea and calmed down.

Fury walked in once it was over with.  "Where did he put you?"

"Someplace that looked like a maintenance shaft."

"How did he get you into there?"

"I have no idea."  She smiled and finished her tea, tossing out the cup.  "Let me go see which forms we'll need to have done.  Dawn gave me a sample book so they're easily found and filled out, Director."  She walked past him, going back upstairs.

Fury watched her go then looked at the junior agents, who all shrugged.  They had no clue.  Fury walked off shaking his head.  He went to see the captives, finding one suffering.  "Who stabbed him instead of shooting him?" he asked.

"Mrs. Summers did," Agent Bronson said.  "She called him Council, sir."

"She said she didn't like guns," he said dryly, staring at him.  "Why are the Watchers Council still together?" he asked.  The man spluttered until the glaring got to him then he started to talk.  Especially after one noted that someone would have to tell Dr. Banner that she had nearly been attacked.


Joyce smiled as she walked in to great smelling dinner scents.  "That smells wonderful, Bruce."  She found him in the kitchen, gripping the counter, head down.  "I was perfectly safe, dear.  Phil moved me out of harm's way."  He looked at her.  "They wanted someone in the jails."

He groaned and pulled her over to hold her.  "Are you sure you're all right?"

"Well, I did run into someone that was Council so I stabbed him for all the hell they put us through over Buffy but otherwise, I'm fine.  Not even scared."  He calmed down and just cuddled.  "Is the bread burning?"

"Probably," he agreed, turning off the oven.  "It doesn't matter.  I take it this wasn't the drill they had planned?"

"No, apparently not."

"Maybe he'll cancel it.  Otherwise I'd have to worry about you and then go destroy the whole building full of people."  She poked him and he kissed her.  "You're that important."  He smiled.  "Though I can see where Dawn gets her modest moments from."

She poked him again but she was smiling.  "I am very modest.  I could never wear my daughter's clothes."

He laughed.  "Thankfully."  He leaned against a wall and just held her.  Dinner was ruined but it was worth it.  She was more important than pasta and garlic bread.


Dawn was cuddled next to Clint, Natasha lounging on her back.  She was playing with Natasha's hand.  "The Brit guy tried to call me a name," she said quietly.

"Like bitch?" Clint asked.  "You've heard that plenty."

"He called a Brown Recluse."  Natasha stiffened.

"No, you are not," she promised, taking a kiss.  "I made sure to correct that thought when he thought you were our student instead of ours."

Dawn grinned.  "Thanks."  She took a kiss from each of them then flipped over to hold Natasha instead. "You're chilly."  She called the sheet up and covered them, making her moan and sniff.  "I found the fancy ones, yeah."  She smiled and snuggled in.

Clint shifted to hold them.  Natasha was chilled.  It was her turn in the middle.


Stark got the message that the problem had been ended, no one was injured, and that the invasion drill was off.  "That's a great idea," he said sarcastically.  "I'm sure someone's throwing a fit."

"Only Director Fury," JARVIS said.

"That's good to know."  He smirked at the current design.  Natasha's Widow's Bite needed upgraded.  She was the only one that didn't have any new weapons.  It looked good so he'd have to test it.  He started the manufacturing process through the system.  Then he went to check on his brilliant, slightly warped daughter.  She was petting her rabbit looking upset.  "Is he sick?" he asked, looking worried.  He was not ready to have the 'all dogs and rabbits go to heaven' talk with her yet.

"No.  Someone hurt Auntie Dawn."

"Yes but Auntie Dawn stopped them from hurting her or anyone else."  He squatted  down in front of her.  "That's what big people who know what they're doing do.  The same as I do when I'm in the suit."

She stared at him.  "You stop bad guys?"  He smiled and nodded.  "Wow."  He hugged her.  "Can we call Auntie?"

"She's relaxing and enjoying some natural pain relief encouragement," JARVIS said quietly.

"I think we'll talk to her tomorrow.  She's probably taking a nap after earlier."  Callia grinned at that silly idea then hugged him better.  "Some day you'll be like your aunt and me, protecting others, and making the world safe."

"Daddy, can I be a doctor?"

"You sure can."

She beamed and nodded.  "I can turn the suit into 'spital."

He smiled.  "We'll see about that."  She grinned and they sat down to read together, and with the rabbit.  Callia loved Carrot more than penguins and flowers.


Tony looked up as someone screamed on the lab floor.  It wasn't a pain scream.  Or a 'having at it in the closet' scream.  No, it was frustration.  He walked out and looked around, seeing Andrew slinking off.  "'Drew?"  He flinched and looked at him.  "What happened?"  He walked closer.

"One of the pretty science assistants wanted to... um..."  He looked down and blushed.  "She's not happy."

"Hold on, one of our science assistants hit on you?"  Andrew blushed brighter and nodded, still looking down.  "I don't care if you date, Andrew, in fact I'd heartily encourage it, but not if they're going to make you uncomfortable."  He walked off with him.  "Which one?  I need to have a talk about predators."

"Predators?" he asked, looking up and confused.  "She's not old enough to be a cougar."

Tony stopped them and stared at him.  "Some women are mercenary.  They're in it to screw their way to the best position they can," he said patiently.  "I'm pretty sure she was trying that instead of being interested.  If she was interested she wouldn't push."

"She walked off complaining that I wasn't good for her.  I think she added for her.  I hope so.  I've been studying the books...."

Tony covered his mouth.  "I'll talk to her.  Go take Dawn and get some coffee?"  He smiled and nodded, going upstairs.  She'd help him figure it out.  "JARVIS, who was it?"

"Miss Nomes."

"She's in ...."

"Lab eight."

Tony walked that way, watching how she was playing.  He walked in.  "I don't think that's appropriate lab behavior."  The lab geeks in there flinched and got back to work.  "Not you guys, you're fine."  He stared at her.  "Let's go talk, Miss Nomes."  She smiled at him.  He walked her off.  "I've had reports that you've been intentionally distracting people from working by way of ineffectual sexual relations?" he asked.

"Excuse me?  I'm not ineffectual.  If that little *genius* said otherwise...."

He stared at her.  "He didn't have to.  I know very well Andrew has no idea what to do with women.  I saw the aftermath."  She flinched.  "Then saw you trying it again on another scientist, who yes is a genius as well.  Most of us in the building are.  Even my assistant is, she's just below MENSA standards."  She sneered.  "We don't appreciate those who have a playlist or who are using their bodies to make their way up the corporate ladder so I would suggest you leave before I have you removed for sexual harassment."

"He asked me."

"I doubt that.  Andrew's not ready to ask a girl out for coffee, much less into a broom closet."   She was backing away.  "Security, we need you to escort a bimbo off premises."

"Yes, sir," was replied over his comm earbud.

Stark stared at her.  "Next time, leave the good boys alone.  They don't play, that's what makes them good boys."  She shrieked and tried to attack her but he had learned how to fight.  He was holding her against a wall when security got there. "Here, have the predator."  He let her go.

"I'll see them ruined," she sneered.

"Not unless you gave them VD that rots the mind and I'll make sure they're checked for that," Tony assured her, making one of the guards laugh.  "Get her wannabe predator ass out of here, guys.  Fired for sexual harassment."  They walked her off.  He walked off happier.  He ran into Bruce.  "You look upset.  Did the bimbo hit on you too?"

"We had a bimbo?  No one told me."

"Yeah, tried to trap Andrew and he wasn't sure enough for her.  What's wrong?"

"You have JARVIS listening to the apartments?"

"No.  There is one sensor per level that is a security sensor.  It is to come on at the sound of gun shots, screaming, or other dangerous sounds.  In yours, and Joyce's, it comes on if you grow more than a foot and turn really green.  I had it set at a lower level by accident but I saw you calming her down one too many times."  He smiled and patted him on the arm.  "That way we're aware.  It's the same in the new building.  Which is why I turned it down in Dawn's apartment.  She shrieks when it's great."

Bruce blushed.  "I guess that's reasonable.  Gunshots?"

"That apartment used to belong to Dawn."

"Oh, yeah, that makes more sense then.  Joyce heard and got worried."

"It's the same one we use in the labs and workspaces.  Most of the time he can't even answer.  The feed goes to my phone for yours or Dawn's.  Or Coulson and Tara's place.  The rest go right to security."

"So you, um, caught us calming down?"

"Yes."  He smiled and patted him on the arm.  "And I promptly turned it off.  Joyce is a sweet lady but much too nice for me to even consider."

Bruce smiled.  "She is.  She told me if I ended up changing I'd have to replace the tv."

Tony grinned.  "She is a great lady and she made a great younger lady.  Who occasionally swears like a sailor," he said, looking up the hall.  "Did you break something, Dawn?"


"Was it a nail?" he guessed, walking that way.  "Oh, no, that's not a nail," he said at the sight of the robotic guard dog tester unit having her hand in a tight, bear trap like grip.  "Where's the owner?"

"I have no goddamn idea," she growled.  "But they're going to have to rebuild it."  She concentrated.  The dog howled and exploded.  She sighed and held her hand.  "Let me go get a few bandages and maybe an x-ray."  She walked off.

"I'll help you there," Bruce said with a smile.  "Did you know that there's security sensors in the apartments?"

"Yeah.  JARVIS connects to mine.  We talk when I'm having nightmares."  She sighed.  "It's Friday finally, right?"

"It is."  He patted her on the arm.  "It's been a long week for you."

"Yes it has."  They came off the elevator to people fighting.  "Yo, shut the fuck up!" she shouted.  That fight stopped.  "In my way to the infirmary, people."  One of them rushed over and tried to attack Bruce.  "Listen, dumb bitch," Dawn said, shoving her off.  "That's my stepfather.  I doubt you're ever going to live up to the skills and style my Mom has, and passed down genetically to me, but I'll be *damned* if some skank like you touches my stepfather." 

She pushed her back with her good hand.  "If you try again, I will teach my mom how to fire a gun up your cunt ass and blow what little brains you keep up there out.  Now, are we clear why you don't touch Dr. Banner again, bitch?"  She looked scared.  "I asked you a question."  She nodded.  "Then I'd suggest you quit fighting with security and move your ass out of my way right the hell now."  She slowly backed up.  "Any one else?"

"No," one of the guards said quietly.  "When did you turn into Director Fury?"

"When the damn robotic dog decided to try to eat my hand."  They winced.  "By the way, he has to clean up a mess."  She walked off with a huff.  "Damn bimbos, giving the rest of us a bad rep."

"So, you don't mind me and your mom?" Bruce asked.

She looked at him.  "If you hurt my mother not even your other side will survive.  Seriously.  I can send you into the sun if I have to.  I might only be able to fling you to Mars but you'll eventually hit the sun.  You make Mom happy and she deserves to be happy for all the hell she's been through, starting in her first marriage.  I expect to see a ring some year and I expect to sniffle at the wedding shortly thereafter, but I don't expect it this year.  Mom's having too much fun breaking both your backs."

He laughed.  "She can, yes.  You're clearly in pain."  He walked her up the hall.  "Dr. Pigalli, there was a robotic guard dog on the lab floor in testing."

She looked at the wrist area.  "Are sure it wasn't a shark?"

"No, made to look like a sheppard," Dawn huffed, hopping up onto the table.  "I'm pretty sure I need x-rays."

"I'd say you're right."  She pulled it over.  "Doctor Banner, are you escorting her further?"

"I'm making sure she'll be okay."  He walked off smiling.  He ran into Pepper at the elevator.  "She went Springer on her," he said quietly.

"Tony had the security cameras up to make sure she didn't duck you.  I heard."  She walked in there, looking her over.  "You don't look like you're on tv."  Dawn held up her wrist and she winced.  "Ow.  Can you even move your fingers?"

"Two broken minor wrist bones," Dr. Pigalli said, handing over the brace she had been finding.  She stuck Dawn with the painkiller too.  "And something to calm down her temper."

"It's been a week of hell, guys.  Sorry I vented on the bimbo, Pepper.  It sets a bad precedent and I'll apologize if you want me to."

Pepper smiled and waved a hand.  "I couldn't have said it better myself, even if you did turn into a Springer audience member."  She grinned and helped her off.  "Let's get you up to the office.  Next time, shoot the dog."

"Gun's on that side."

"That sucks."  They got up to the office, where Clint was waiting.  "When did you get here?"

"I snuck in," he said with a smile, looking at her wrist.  "What happened?"


"He's going to yell," Tony warned but he was grinning.  "He tried to yell at me."

"I'm so over this week," she said dryly.  The scientist stomped in and Dawn pulled Clint's gun to point in his face.  "Your mutt bit me.  I put it down," she said slowly and clearly.  "There is no reason for your mutt to prevent me from coming into the lab to check on you."  He was backing away.  "Now, do you perhaps want to change the programming when you build the next one?"  He nodded quickly.  "You're certain?"

"Yes, Dawn.  I'll exclude you," he said, sounding shaky.

"There's others that need to get into your lab too, like emergency personnel," Dawn pointed out.  "Don't you think they should be excluded before it means that they can't treat you?"  He nodded.  "Good boy.  You have a better day.  I'm pretty sure I left the core processing unit intact."  He ran off.

Clint took the gun.  "Yours is on the wrong side for you to pull, isn't it?"  He watched her slam the doors then huff.  He sat down and pulled her into his lap.  She looked at him.  "Not like they don't know."  She leaned on his chest.  "Broken?"

"Two of the wrist bones, and I'm on fuzzy headed drugs for the pain because I ripped into the ho that was trying to grab Bruce to have him there in the hallway."

"We thought it was brilliant," Tony said.   He looked at the flashing monitor, turning up the sound.

"Oh my god!  You hurt Dawn!  How could you, she takes really good care of us!" Jonathan shouted.  "You can't hurt the Dawn!  Half of us wouldn't eat if she doesn't remind us and she saved us all from Warren!"  He took a swing and then walked off sniffling.

Clint texted down there.  A few minutes there was a knock on the door.  "Enter," Tony called.

Jonathan walked in.  "I'm sorry I lost my cool, Tony."

Dawn pulled him over and hugged him.  "I only take care of the worthy geeks.  He can starve to death."  He sniffled and she let him calm down.  "Thank you."

He kissed her on the cheek, blushing hard.  "Some day I want a girl like you."  He looked at Tony.  "But I won't build one."

He smiled.  "Good.  No more fighting, Jonathan."  He nodded and glanced at Clint, blushing a bit.

"He's really good to me," Dawn assured him.

"I thought you and, well, *her*," he said, glancing at the bosses.

"Well, yeah," Dawn admitted with a grin.  "Kinda."

Jonathan turned bright red.  "Wow."  He fidgeted.  "We like her.  She's nice to us.  We'll kill you over her," he told Clint.  He fled.

Dawn relaxed after closing the door magically again.  "Did I close that on someone?"

"I'm not sure," Pepper said, walking over to open it.  "Andrew, coffee, bless you.  Hillary?"  She took the reports.  "Thank you."  She left and she walked Andrew inside.  "She couldn't see you there."

"I didn't," Dawn said.  She kissed him on the cheek too.  He blushed and the tray wobbled.  Pepper caught it.  "Thank you, Andrew."

"You're okay?"  She held up the brace.  "You've had a sucky week."

"I did.  But hey, didn't end up telepathic or making zombies."  Andrew giggled and left.  "Thanks, 'Drew."

"Welcome, Dawn," he called back.  "Feel better."   He and Jonathan needed to gossip so hard now.

Pepper put down the coffee tray and closed the door.  She leaned against it.  "It's not even noon yet."

Dawn looked at her.  "Don't remind me there's still two more days this week!"

Clint hugged her.  "It'll be fine."

"It's not today, right?  The drill?"

"No, he canceled it after yesterday's actual invasion."

She sighed in pleasure.  "Good.  I'd hate to have to pay to rebuild SHEILD's HQ.  My budget wouldn't let me shop then."  Clint laughed and hugged her.  She put her head back down.  "Can we just rename today Sunday, boss?"

"Definitely," Tony agreed.  "You have an hour of lunch, Dawn.  Go nap off the painkiller in one of the guest rooms."  She nodded, getting up with a moan.  Clint helped her up and down to one.  He looked at Pepper.  "It was saving up from that year she was gone."

"It probably was."  She got them both coffee.  The monitor flashed that there was a security problem and they watched.  "They have it set against Clint?"

"Yup."  He turned that off at the source.  Downstairs in security, the guy who crushed on Dawn was pouting but he saw the boss ending his protocol so he couldn't redo it.

Tony shook his head.  "They love Dawn more than us, you know that, right?"

"The only one they love more is Callia."

He grinned.  "She is loveable."  He relaxed, sipping his coffee.


Dawn came out of her napping off the painkillers alone.  Clint had snuck out thanks to his phone going off with Phil's ringtone.  She was walking back upstairs redoing her hair, bobby pins in her mouth.  It was really hard to do with one hand.  Someone came rushing off the elevator in body armor and with a gun.  "Okay, so no one wants me to do my hair after all," she said, spitting out the bobby pins so she couldn't swallow them.  "Please let this be a hallucination?"  The guy tried to grab her and she blocked. 

He was solid, not a hallucination.  She kicked him back and blocked the next hit with the brace, wincing some.  Her whole right side was in a bad way between that and the ribs that were slowly healing.  He growled and tried to hit her again.  She kicked him back again.  He pulled a taser and she ducked one of the strands but the other caught her.  She yanked it out as it was going off, making herself ignore the pain.  He looked stunned right about when she shoved that pin in his eye. 

"Really?" she asked.  He was rolling around screaming so she grabbed the taser he had dropped.  "I'm setting it off in ten seconds unless I have a damn good reason not to.  You caught me in the *wrong* week, dude.  Why are you trying to attack or snatch me?"  Nothing but crying.  "Two seconds and I set it off."  She gave a quick pulse of the trigger and he screamed like she was burning him alive.  "Hey, eyeballs smoke at high electricity.  Interesting.  I did not know that.  Who the fuck are you?" she growled.  Security was rushing off the elevator.  "Why are you trying to grab me?"

"The UK wants you," he panted.  "You're our ticket to a team of her own."

Dawn leaned down.  "I'd.  Kill.  You.  All."  He nodded, trying to back away.  "Let's face it, if I wasn't in a bad mood today I probably would've just killed you.  Instead, you caught me at the tail end of a *really* bad week.  Are you happy with that since some of it was your people's doing?"  He shook his head, starting to cry.  "You sure?  Because I *really* could use the stress relief and that smoking eyeball thing looked like I might want to test to see how much smoke comes out with a longer pulse."

"No, we're really sorry!  We thought you were just a girlfriend!"

"I am.  And an assistant.  Unfortunately I'm also the sister of a slayer and one of the most kidnaped beings on this plane.  So yes, I learned self defense from some of the best," she said dryly, staring at him.  "Including torturing from a Master Vampire named Spike."  He shuddered.  "He'd so enjoy the eyeball thing.  I'll have to tell him about it later."  He started to cry for real.  "You can tell them that please?"

"I can, I promise I will," he sobbed.  "Save me?" he begged the guards.

"Yeah, we can do that.  Miss Summers, would you like escorted down so you can get a painkiller?"

"I had one an hour ago," she complained.  She looked at herself.  "I have to change.  Damn it."  She walked off shaking her head.  "There's no way I can do that with one hand.  Stockings take two."

"You can probably use your fingers," one of the female guards offered.

Dawn looked at her, shaking her head.  "No, I can't.  I can't move them.  The stupid robomutt broke my wrist."  She winced.  "Let me hit my locker to get something clean."  She trudged that way.  Everyone stared at her.  She looked at the blood then at them.  "Someone attacked me.  It's been that sort of week."  They nodded.  She walked into the locker room.  Her locker was bare except a jacket.  She considered it then popped home after texting Pepper she had to change, she was rumpled.  She called Spike while she was changing.  "Hey, Spike, did you know that if you electrocuted eyeballs they smoked?"

"They do?" he asked from the speaker.  "What're you doing?"

"Changing.  Some Brit agent thought I was a helpless girlfriend sort.  He had a taser."

"Hmm, that sounds like fun I want to try.  If you're getting naked, I don't need to know."

"Nope, not naked.  Just changing."  She hung up and pulled up stockings then pulled on a simple dress that needed zipped.  She checked.  Her armpits needed shaved so she found a sweater to go over it.  She stepped into new shoes then 'ported back to the office.  "Pepper, can you do the zipper?" she asked since she was in the hallway.  "Sorry," she told the guy in the suit, waving her cast.  "She's like my big sister."

Pepper zipped her up.  "There you go.  Why don't you go home?"

"I've had a bad week but not that bad.  Let me get what I need for the meeting."

"Someone was testing a robotic guard dog this morning," Pepper said quietly.  "It bit her."

He winced.  "That's bad."

"She destroyed it."  He smiled.  "That's actually my assistant Dawn.  She's just having one of those days."

"We've all had those days but I've never been bitten by a robotic dog."  Dawn came back carrying a tray and had her tablet on a strap around her sore wrist.  Pepper let them into the meeting room.  Dawn left and came back with a small plate of things to nibble on.

"Those are all vegetarian and all natural," she said.  She walked off.  "Sorry, forgot a step after lunch."  She came back with something and sucking on a certs.

He smiled.  "Not everyone could handle their jobs after being attacked by a robotic dog."

She smiled back.  "All a day in my wacky life sometimes, sir."  He laughed and got down to talking to Pepper about what the agreement between their companies could bring them.  Dawn pulled a lot of information up for them to look at and had to cancel a new email that popped up automatically from Stark that had a cute cartoon.  She shook her head but they smiled at it.  They came to an easy agreement based on current prices of their stock and materials, letting Dawn put the draft of the agreement up for them to look over.  One small mistake showed up and Dawn erased it when she spotted it.  It was printed and they took them to their boards to look over.

Pepper looked at her.  "Smoke?  When did you pick up that vile habit?"

"It's a good day for one.  I think maybe Sunday."

"Cigar and some brandy?" she quipped.

"Definitely."  She picked up the last muffin for herself.  She hadn't gotten lunch.  They went back to the office so she could type up the formal agreement.  Pepper compared them and nodded, sending it to the various board members. Dawn finished her muffin and got to work on the files.

Tony walked up to her, staring at her.  "What makes you think you don't get to go to the infirmary when you're attacked?" he asked.  "I thought I made it clear, Dawn.  Each and every attack."

"I had to go home and change and there was the meeting.  I'm heading there before I go home."

He stared at her.  "Yeah, not working.  Pepper, did she mention the other attack?"

"Excuse me?  She said she was rumpled from napping off the painkillers."

"No," Dawn quipped.  "I was until someone came off the elevator.  Apparently I'm a helpless bimbo girlfriend sort according to the UK.  I think they're going to change that opinion now.  Let me finish this and I'll let them re x-ray my wrist, Tony."

"It can wait."

"It can't wait or I'll have to come back on Sunday so it gets done before the cleaning crew tosses it on me.  They do it anytime I leave files on the desk or the cabinets."  She finished the filing and let him walk her down there after she grabbed her coffee.  "I'm okay."

"Yeah, not caring."  He smirked at her.  "You didn't look too bad considering your right side is really weak."

"I can barely move on that side.  I feel like a mountain fell on me."

"I know," he assured her.  "I've had many days like that inside my shiny suit of tin cans and weapons."  She laughed.  "C'mon.  We all know you're not a bimbo."

"They don't."

"They're dumb for all that they have Oxford and Cambridge."  He walked her into the infirmary.

"I was wondering how much time she was giving us to remove that taser spike from the agent's eye," Dr. Pigalli said dryly.

Dawn snorted.  "Did you know they smoked when you tapped the taser switch?"  She grinned.

"I did not nor did I want to," Tony admitted, handing her over.

"I'm so having a hangover Monday to celebrate this week being over with," she warned as he walked off.

"Sure, we can celebrate that hangover together," he quipped.  He laughed most of the way back upstairs.

Dawn looked at the doctor and sighed.  "I think it needs a new scan."

"It probably does.  You couldn't do it magically?"

"No.  It's not allowing me to do less than killing them."

"Oh, okay."  She took off the brace, looking at the layer of new bruises.  "Used it to block?"  She nodded.  "Dawn!"

"Only way I could, Doc.  Especially with those ribs."

She pulled over the x-ray machine, doing them and her ribs.  "How are you managing an underwire bra with bruised ribs?" she asked.  She leaned closer.  "And one slightly cracked one.

"Sheer stubbornness," Dawn sighed.  "I can't be braless, it sends the wrong message, and I don't have any that aren't underwire."

She looked at her.  "You need to find a few."

"Next week I have to be in a corset," she said dryly.  "For that gala.  My dress has one and I don't have time to shop."

She winced.  "There's no way."

Dawn put back on the brace.  "No way not to, Doc.  Gotta do the job."  She sighed, looking at her wrist.  "That's bad."

"That's only dislocated."  She took her brace back off and looked then found the right area, pushing on it and flexing at the same time.  Dawn yelped and went weak-kneed, grabbing the bed with her good hand to stop herself from hitting the floor."  She put back on the brace and went to look in her files.  "This is all you're getting from me on the painkiller front.  Make it last.  I'm including a dose for that damnable corset since you can't find something else in time."

"Anything else I'd have to have fitted," she said, looking at her.  "I hate being so tiny sometimes."

"You could use a few pounds too."  She handed over the bottle once the system had filled it.  "Go home?"

Dawn looked at the clock then at her.  "I won't take one until I get home."

"Go home."

"Soon.  Very, very soon."  She tucked them into her pocket and made sure she was looking normal, hitching one of the stockings back up.  The doc helped her.  "Thanks."  She walked off trying to look normally unconcerned.  It was Friday.  She was about to snoopy dance like Xander.  She walked up to the office.  "Okay, I have painkillers for this weekend, and for Wednesday's event."  Pepper gave her a horrified look.  Dawn nodded.  "Did you forget, boss?"

"Yes."  She stared at her.  "It's payday."

"Yay!  I can take Natasha and go to a salon to get waxed tomorrow then.  Because there's no way I can shave and I might as well go through that torture too."  She sighed.  "Anyway, I'm going to celebrate this week being over."

"I heard you'd have a hangover Monday," she said with a smile.

"I think I deserve it."  She turned and found both lovers there.  "Who called?"

"Doc," Clint said, staring at her.  "And one of the guys in security who really wants to bear your future genius babies."

She frowned.  "Did Roque's mom get him too?"

"Dog?" Natasha asked.

"Robo dog."  She held up her wrist.  "I discounted the theory that I was just a bimbo girlfriend too."  She blinked a few times.  "I've got to get waxed tomorrow for Wednesday.  Wanna come?"

"I'm not into torture," she said dryly.

"Neither am I but I figure it's one of a very short list I can do that's not really injurious that I haven't went through this week."

"We'll buy you some nair," she assured her.  She pulled Dawn closer, looking at her wrist.  "Broken?"

"Two bones, was dislocated after the last thing."  She handed over the pills.  "So I don't lose them."

She looked at them.  "Three days worth."

"Tomorrow, Sunday, Wednesday night."

"You don't have to go," Tony said.

"Growly said I had to."

"Fury can bite me," Pepper said.  "You don't have to go."

Dawn looked at her.  "It's a minor request and I can handle it for a few hours.  I even have lower heels to wear."  She smiled at the clock then at Pepper.  "Can I have the ten minutes?"

"Go!  Now.  Guys, baby her and if she wants to come in with a hangover on Monday I think this last week deserves it."

"Yes it does," Clint said.  "All the way around."  He walked the ladies out.  "Who was he?" he asked in the elevator.

"UK."  She looked at him.  "Did you know eyeballs smoked?"

"Yes, I did."

"Cool."  Natasha looked at her oddly.  "Taser."

"Did it hit you?" she asked.

"Only one prong.  That went into his eye."  She walked off the elevator.  "Cab?"

"Cab," they agreed.  It was only fifteen blocks and usually Dawn would walk.  Not this time.  They signed out and security had called her a cab.

"Thank you," Natasha called.

Once they were in the cab, Dawn looked at her.  "It's a good thing I work for Stark.  Anywhere else and I'd have been fired for having that many incidents happen to me.  I hate what looking for a job entails."

"I know you do."  She petted her hair down.  "If you had to, you could come help your mother at SHIELD."

"Maybe, though I promised only if I was desperate."  She yawned.  "I hate this week."

"It's done with," Clint promised.

She looked at him.  "Don't jinx it."

He grinned.  "I'm not.  Your part of the week is done with.  You can rest at home in jammies all weekend long."  She grinned.  "Cap wanted to watch movies anyway."

"Okay."  They paid at the apartment building and got out, heading upstairs.  She started to fall onto the couch but Natasha took her into the bedroom to strip her down while Clint made her something soothing for dinner.  Dawn would try to fuss over them unless they did it over her first.


Sunday morning, Dawn poked Clint and pointed.  "You did jinx yourself.  There's a giant robot or we're having a robot parade."

He lifted his head off her stomach to look out the window.  "Damn it," he groaned, getting up and heading to find pants and his bow and arrows.  "Natasha!" he yelled loud enough to wake her up.  She was slightly tipsy from last night.  Pepper and Dawn had a nail doing thing with her and Joyce, Agent Hill, and Tara.  They had all gotten a bit beyond tipsy before finally going to bed at around sunrise.

"I'm starting to feel my age," she complained.  "Why are there robots?"

"They're having a parade," Dawn said sarcastically.  Natasha flipped her off but found something to put on and weapons to go with it.  Cap was already out there trying to stop them.

Xander appeared with a higher level, five shot vehicle mounted missile launcher.  "Would this help?  I won it in a poker game."

She took it and hit them all.  "Yes.  It does."

"Girls night hangover," Clint explained.

"I've seen.  Been forced to be at one and seen.  Buffy even tried to french braid my hair."  Coulson laughed, turning around and walking off instead of coming to help.   "I actually think Buffy in the green face mask is more scary than Banner in full on Hulk mode."  He disappeared after curing her hangover for her.

She looked up.  "Thank you."  She looked down at the mess she had made.  Clint got one last one with an explosive arrow.  She looked at him.  "That's the cold arrow."

"Oops."  He looked down at Cap, tapping his comm piece.  "It's been a hell of a week.  I say we have burgers on the rooftop grill and beers."

"Beers won't really do much for me but it has been a very long week," Cap agreed. "One more I can see stomping this way."  Tony finally got there and blew it up.  "Better late than never, Stark," he complained.

"I was halfway up the coast," he shot back.

"It's Miller Time," Clint decided.  "How much do you think the Hulk could drink?"

Natasha said something rude in Spanish and hit him on the head.  "Shut up."  She walked off.  He laughed, in a better mood now that he was awake enough to pick on her.

The End.

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