Dawn walked into the office and paused. Pepper was
head down on the desk. She moved closer. "Pepper?" she asked
quietly. She heard a snore and smiled, leaving things off to the
side for her. She walked out and closed the doors, forwarding the
phones to her desk instead. Tony walked that way and she shook her
"Sleeping on the desk," she said quietly.
Tony smiled and peeked in then closed the door again. "Her mother
called last night." She smiled. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, why wouldn't I be fine?"
"You look like someone needs to do your hair."
"All that stripping made it wrecked. I've been doing daily
conditioning but it's still wrecked. I've got salon time later for
that and a trim."
"Okay." He walked back to the labs. "Call me when she gets up."
Dawn nodded. She finished all her tasks and settled in to do some
ahead. There were some progress reports she could get started on
for next month. Her calendar beeped a warning and she
winced. There was a meeting in twenty minutes. She sighed
and texted Tony, who said to let Pepper sleep. So she'd
stall. She checked but she was still asleep. This was not
going to be good. She floated in a note next to her head so she'd
see it when she woke up. When the time came she smiled and went
down there. "Miss Potts is presently handling a personal matter
and she'll be a bit late. Can I get anyone something to eat or
nibble on?" They stared at her. She smiled at them.
"I'm her assistant, Dawn."
"What sort of personal problem?"
"I believe her mother called up with something desperate."
"Oh, I see. That's probably a problem," he agreed.
Dawn smiled. "Her mother would never normally call here.
They talk every Sunday." That got a nod. "Anything needed?"
"Some coffee please, Dawn?" one requested.
"Of course," she said, moving to put some on in the pot in there. She smiled and handed him the first cup.
"You haven't switched to those new K-cup makers?" he asked. "It looks easier."
"Most of the lab staff tends to live on coffee and dried fruit.
It's much more efficient and economical to do it this way. In one
lab we have the old two gallon percolator set up because the three that
use it the most tend to go through a lot of coffee every hour."
They smiled. "The ones that don't put in their own soda
machine." She smiled. "Anything else needed?"
"Can you start the projector and all that?" he requested.
"Of course." She typed into the system to get to that level.
Everything else was locked off. The projector came up with the
Stark Industries logo then went to mute. "When you put in a disk
or move it, the screen saver will turn off. Let me go check on
her." She smiled and walked out. She checked on Pepper from
the doorway, sliding inside and shutting the door. "Pep?" she
"Is there an emergency?"
Pepper lifted her head to look at her. "Which meeting?"
"That trade-off meeting about the metals and computer parts," she said with a wince.
Pepper grimaced. "Ten minutes." She sat up and
stretched. Dawn went to tell them that. She went to splash
herself with cold water and change into something that wasn't
wrinkled. She walked past Dawn. "They good?"
"They're all set, your files are down there, and they know you were
handling a personal problem with your mother calling off schedule."
She smiled. "I was." She walked in there. "Sorry to
keep you waiting. My mother needed to be talked into not getting a
divorce or killing my father for a bit." They smiled. "How
are we today?" They settled down to handle the meeting. Even
though she was exhausted. Dawn had even left her a cup of coffee
that was perfectly mixed how she liked. She could nap again
Tony smiled at Dawn. "You woke her up?"
"Did you want new computer chips?" Dawn asked, smiling at him. "I left it as long as I could."
"That's what she said and one was grumpy she had been talking to her
mother." He looked her over. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Why?"
"You look tired too."
She nodded. "Few nightmares." He stared at her.
"Normal ones." Tony nodded. "Phil was up all last
night and I got random flashes of him being confused or pissed off."
"The whole marriage thing."
"That does suck."
"It does and Xander's already drawn his line in the sand. Those
that tried to go over it have been shoved back. Including him
snubbing a banquet."
Tony winced. "That's not politically sound."
"He's not really playing politics."
"Good point." He walked off. "Are you going to go?"
"No, I'm not obligated to go if he doesn't. I'm part of his house."
Tony smirked. "Too bad. You could get dressed up."
"I get plenty of dressed up time." He laughed. That reminded
her, tomorrow was new outfit day and she had one she wanted to
try. It might freak a few people out because it did remind one of
her chainmail. Which was lovingly put on a form in her living room
and oiled each week.
Pepper looked over Dawn's outfit of the day. The silver mesh lace
overtop of the dark blue column dress looked nice. "If you wore
leather with that, it'd probably look kinky but it does look nice, even
with the long group of chains necklace. New place?"
"A designer asked me if I wanted to look at his designs. I found
this one and a pretty stunning purple one." Pepper smiled.
"I got warned not to wear that one to work unless I brought extra
weapons." She handed over the files she was carrying. "Mom
and I are having lunch."
"Tell her I said hello."
"I will." She walked off. She did her usual round of the
labs, making coffee, taking reports, calming Andrew down because he was
in a flailing mood. He stared at her in the outfit, gaping in
awe. She smirked. "New one."
"That looks nice and it just hints at your chainmail. If it was
green underneath they might freak out but the blue is nice and it's the
color of your boyfriend's eyes, right?"
"It is." She smiled. "I got another one from the same
designer with a purple and red motif but without the lace." They
grinned. "Why are you all flaily?"
"The new superhero movie is out and we can't go see it."
"We're on the day it comes out."
"Guys, you're allowed to take the day off," she reminded them. She
got into their computer and found the form. "This is your day off
form. You fill this out, you give it to me or make sure Pepper
gets it." They smiled and nodded, doing that for her. She
printed it for them. "Sign, date," she said with a point.
They did. "I'll bring this to her." She smiled. "I
like the new tentacle on the roomba dog. It's not phallic
anymore." They laughed and she walked off to finish her round with
Tony, as usual. He stared at her outfit, head tipped to the
side. "New designer. He wanted me to look at his stuff."
He nodded. "It's pretty. A bit scary but pretty."
Dawn smirked. "Someone told me I was just a pretty ass the other
day." She separated out his pile. "Reports on minimal
He saw the leave form. "They asked for a day off to go to the movies?"
"The new superhero movie is out."
He smiled and signed it. "They haven't taken any days off yet that I know of."
"I had to show them the form."
"That's good. Are you going with them?"
"They didn't invite me."
"Ah." He looked over her outfit again. "You're not leaving the building today, right?"
"Actually, I'm going to lunch with Mom."
He nodded. "Wear a weapon."
"I'm always wearing a weapon, Stark."
"You can't tell."
She smirked. "The benefits of magic." She strolled
off. Pepper signed off on their day off too, smiling at
them. Dawn copied it and put it in their mailbox so they knew they
could go. Then she got to work handing back things that had
Joyce walked into her boss's office with some files. "Requisitions
from R&D and since Dawn's coming to pick me up from lunch, can we
have it here?"
"You can. She knows where the caf is and I'm sure there's a few
people who'd like to nag her about her shoes again," he said dryly.
"Who nagged her about her shoes?"
"Coulson. Her tiny feet led to her having to buy stripper shoes."
Joyce grimaced. "I never could find her shoes," she
admitted. She took the signed things back and went to deliver
them. She smiled at Bruce since he was working at a
blackboard. He took his forms with a smile. "Dawn's coming
"That's great. Tell her I said hi. I'm seeing some sort of
subspace fluctuation that no one can find on sensors so I probably can't
She patted his hand. "It's the universe belching."
"It probably is," he agreed, smiling at her. She laughed and let
him get back to work. He looked. "It really probably is a
gas bubble." He ran that idea through the math and it wasn't quite
but he could figure out what it was. It was the formation of a
tiny black hole. "Ah, an ulcer of the universe." He sent
that to his former coworker, who sent back a thank you.
Joyce looked over Dawn when she appeared for lunch. "Those are stripper shoes."
"They fit," Dawn quipped. "Which is really rare, Mom." She signed in. "In for lunch with my mom."
They smiled. "That's fine, Summers." They walked off
together and one guard shivered. "She's very strong looking
The other nodded. "Looks like someone called her a bimbo again." He texted Coulson that she was there.
Joyce looked at the shoes in the elevator. "Platforms?"
"I had to. It's that or four inches without them."
"Why four inches?"
"None shorter in this color. I have a few in the five and six inch
range because I needed a pair in that color. My only two pair of
nude ones are with-platform six inch and one without because I couldn't
find them lower than six inches."
"Oh, dear," she sighed. "I've thankfully never had it that hard with shoes."
"There's plenty of days I'd love flats. It took us six months to
find sneakers and when I did I bought ten pairs so I would not have to
find them again for years." They walked into the mess
together. A few people stared. "I'm having lunch with my
mom." They smiled and got back to eating. "Saw Andrew and
Jonathan today. They were flaily over the new comicbook movie."
"They're sweet boys."
"They are." Dawn paid for their lunches, she made the better
salary, and they got what they wanted so they could find a table.
Joyce pointed but Dawn picked the bigger table. "I'm expecting
that they told Phil at least."
"He's in the building somewhere," Joyce agreed. He and Tara walked
in, followed by Maria Hill. She did like that young woman, she
"I love that dress," Tara told her when she sat down with her lunch. "I'm glad I know where you got it."
Dawn grinned. "You look good in the one you got."
"I do, yes." She smiled.
Maria smiled back. "Are you wearing it to dinner in a few days?"
"It's not formal?"
"We're going to the park."
"I can wear pants."
Maria beamed. "That'd be great. We can go skating?"
"She has roller blades she uses well but hasn't had time to," Phil said. He smiled at Dawn. "Quite a statement."
"Someone told me my only asset was my butt." He snorted and shook his head, digging into his lunch.
Clint walked in and paused then nodded. "I did not see that when I left."
"That's because you leave almost an hour before I do." She
smiled. "You have to report earlier and commute a few more
"I do, yeah." He got his lunch and sat down, looking her over. "You do look nice."
"They called you a bimbo again?"
Joyce snickered. "I take it she's done this before?"
Phil got into his phone and showed her a picture. "Stark wanted her to dress up so she wore that one day."
"I like that dress on her. She looks sweet."
Maria looked at her. "I had to write up twelve different agents
for hiding in the bathroom." Joyce blushed. "She was sweetly
tart that day if we're talking about the pink dress."
Dawn giggled. "We probably are. Twelve, really?"
"A few took extra sparring time," she said with a grin.
"Huh. Too bad I don't fit in it anymore and it's in Tara's
closet." She dug into her salad with lots of bacon and
chicken. The last seat was filled when Natasha walked in and got
her own shake. "Eat more than that," Dawn chided. "You need
fuel to beat the crap out of all the guys who think you're only pretty."
Natasha smiled. "I do, yes, but I took lunch last hour." She
sipped her protein shake, looking Dawn over. "I left much too
soon this morning." Dawn grinned. "Do not wear the other to
"I get two teasing days a month. It's in my contract." Joyce
coughed, shaking her head. Phil patted her. "It does
relieve stress. I inspired whole new ideas in a few people."
"Not always good ones," Clint agreed, "but they did get new ideas.
Stark got three new patents out of it." Joyce stared at them.
Dawn grinned and showed her a picture. Phil showed her another one. "That's not really professional, Dawn."
"It lightened the mood when we needed it," Clint assured her.
Maria nodded. "It did. It was also good distraction armor
when she was worried and didn't want anyone to see." Dawn
nodded. "Though the day you ended up in your unitard that you use
for fights, that day was a bad one."
"That was all I had. I literally had slime kill most of my closets."
"I heard." She smiled.
"And a second dose that would've gotten the new clothes if she had put
them up," Phil said. "We were over that night and the slime
"It did," Clint agreed. He looked at her. "You got something from the same dickwad Russian guy."
"I did. I left it on the counter so you could give it to Natasha today."
"I saw it," she promised. "They are quite sorry. Their entire network of files got handed to the FBI."
Dawn smiled at her. "Thank you." Natasha smirked back.
Dawn sent a thought at her and got a shrug back so she kissed her on
the cheek. "You help me protect myself very well."
"I do, yes. That's why I'm going to go through your closet."
"Did you realize I have a free closet?"
"I did not," she admitted. "When we moved in it was full."
"Few lab accidents, I donated the gowns I'm not going to wear again."
"Did you keep that cream one?" she asked.
"I kept the lavender version and the black one." Natasha
growled. She smiled. "I think I looked a bit too sweet and
innocent in the cream one."
Clint shook his head. So did Phil. "Nope," Phil said. "Sorry." He stuffed his mouth.
Joyce looked at her. "What dress was this?"
"The one I wore to grad, Mom."
"Ah. You did look nice. You mostly manage to look nice, even when you are being a bit naughty."
"And all of my shirts are actual *shirts*," she said dryly, cracking her mother up.
"Your sister is never going to live that down," Clint said. Phil
found a report and let him read it while he chewed. "When was
"Recently." He stuffed his mouth again.
Dawn leaned on Clint's arm, casually brushing her breast against
it. "That's my sister's patented bait patrol uniform." She
let Joyce see.
Joyce sighed. "She really does need to wear something more massive."
"I offered my unitard but she hated it," Dawn said. "Said she felt stifled."
Joyce looked at her. "I heard why you had that."
"No one else handled it."
"You had better not be." She shook her head. "Good."
She handed Phil back his phone. He found one last picture.
"Aww, the black dress."
"Yes it was. It was the only thing I had clean. That was the day after the slime attack."
Joyce handed it back. "You looked comfortable in it."
"I wore it clubbing a few times. Someone asked me that day if I
was the mini-Natasha so I kindly kicked her." Natasha chuckled,
nodding. "That was the same day I ended up in the unitard and one
of Natasha's scarves as a sarong because the dress got stained by the
water cooler on the fifth floor."
"It still has a residue," Maria admitted. "Got one of my uniforms one day."
"The dry cleaner I use got it out of there," Dawn offered.
"I went to mine and he did wonders. He fixed the splitting seam I
had too." She smiled at Tara. Then at Dawn. "We are
going to the new superhero movie."
"I have no idea what I'm doing that night. I know it's Mom's anniversary of getting out."
She smiled at her. "We're celebrating the next day, when your
sister can get in. Bruce and I are having dinner that
night." Dawn smiled and squeezed her hand across Natasha.
"Eat, dear. You'll be late getting back."
"Stark told me to come back with a wicked idea for a new weapon.
He needed something flashy." She looked at her girlfriend.
"I saw yours up on his monitor too."
"My Widow's Bite?" Dawn smiled and nodded. "Interesting. I'll have to see what he's doing with it."
"Probably upgrading it," Clint said. "I need more of those cold arrow tips."
Xander appeared, looking at Phil. "I need a bad idea leash holder
and I can't use Dawn because as soon as I hit Asgard Freya's going to
jump her to try to make her get married. Hi, Mom." He hugged
her. She cuddled him back. He looked at Dawn. "Damn,"
he said, smiling at her. She beamed. "That's hot."
"Only one person asked me if I was Joan of Arc. I said I wasn't on
a holy quest from God, the Goddess said I was doing just fine.
She so huffed off."
"The wife of the guy with the dog?" Clint asked.
"Figures," Xander said. He looked at Phil. "Would you like to see Asgard and watch me make everyone really unhappy?"
"Will it cause problems down here?"
"I don't know."
"Then I probably should try to keep you from causing problems for the earth." Xander smirked and disappeared.
"Aww," Dawn said with a grin. "Xander's lost his temper
again." Joyce shuddered. "It's going to be so bad but we'll
get to sit and watch." She finished her salad and kissed everyone
on the cheek. "Let me go warn Stark and play with my niece."
She smiled at her mom. "We'll see if we can pull her out for
lunch." She smiled at Maria and Tara. "If I can, I'll
babysit." They grinned. She walked out and
disappeared. Much faster than a cab. She found Callia in the
halls. "Are you wandering?" she asked, grinning at her niece.
"Yup." She looked at her. "Wow. Knight armor?"
"Something like that. I have chainmail at home. Your uncle
Xander got it for me. It was made by dwarves." She walked
off with her, taking her to Tony's lab. "Hey, boss, got the sprout
and Xander's invited Phil to try to stop him from doing something that
might drive everyone nuts."
He leaned over to look at her. "Thanks for the warning and hi, Callia."
"Hi, Daddy." She pointed. "Knights armor."
"Yes it is." He grinned. "Some day you can have your aunt's
chainmail." Tony stared at her. "Anything on that new idea?"
She walked in and hissed in his ear. He shivered.
"Sometimes you gotta have it." She strolled out. "Let me
check in with Pepper, Callia."
"I help." She followed her. She smiled at Andrew when they
ran into him in the hall. "I saw story with tentacles."
"Really?" What were you reading?" he asked. Dawn was looking confused.
"Had daddy's 'puter. Found tentacles. The heros were all
huggy and kissy." She grinned. "The tentacles were mean
ones, not like puppy roomba is."
"They can be, but we made sure the roomba dog is a lot nicer," he said with a blush.
Dawn nodded back at the lab and took Callia off to talk to her about her
anime habit she was trying to pick up. They really had to
institute a kid filter around her.
Andrew walked into Tony's lab and found his tablet. "JARVIS, is this the one Callia had?" Tony stared at him.
"Unfortunately. Second tab, she never closed it out."
Andrew found it and handed it over. "She said it was meaner than
the tentacle on the roomba dog. The heros were all huggy and
kissy." He walked off.
Tony read it, frowning. "That's just wrong!" he complained.
"On so many levels that's wrong." He kept going. "Oh, and
they'd die if not? I've never been that hit."
"There are chemicals that can do that to one, sir," JARVIS said.
"I tried to block it from her but she is reading well beyond the needs
of that story."
Tony canceled it. "My daughter is not allowed to get online at any
site that is not G rated, JARVIS. No matter which computer she's
"I'll do my best, sir, but she got to that one without me realizing.
It's on the same site as those Avengers stories you've been
tracking. I didn't realize it until I noticed you were reading
slower than usual."
"Great," he muttered. "I should make bombs of that. Send
them into the caves of Afghanistan. Then the Taliban could work it
out." The AI snickered. "Send one to Rhodey, make him have
some stress relief too."
"I think that would be a bad idea, sir."
"Probably, yes. But better than tentacles."
"I don't know, sir. I found Alexander's chaos slip tentacles to be rather fun to watch."
Tony glared at the ceiling. "Shut up. I don't want to remember those things."
"Very well, sir."
Callia bounced up to Tara when she showed up that night. "I babysit!"
"You're too young to babysit so you'd have to be sat with the babies."
"So? I still babysit."
"Okay, we'll see if we can arrange it so you can babysit."
"Do not even think about asking Andrew and Jonathan to do it," Dawn
warned. "They have plans for tomorrow. They have the day
Callia pouted. "Pepper?"
"I don't know. You'd have to ask her."
She took her aunt's phone and found Pepper's name. She smiled when it was answered. "We babysit?"
"She wants the twins tomorrow while Tara and Maria are at the movies,"
Dawn called close to the phone. Callia pouted. "She might be
busy." She took the phone. "I told her she had to
ask. The trip to Singapore's not on the schedule. Oh, that
reason. Yeah, I can be packed for that. Thanks,
Pepper." She hung up. "Sorry. I'm not going to be here
"I ask Daddy," she said.
"He's going with us. That means your nanny is sitting you."
She pouted. "She watch babies?"
"You'd have to clear it with your dad." She took the phone back to
find his name and call. She pouted. "Look at Tony," she
said, finding it. "That's his first name. Only you call him
Daddy. If I did things might get weird." Tara cackled but
"Oh." She pushed the right button and listened.
"JARVIS? Ask daddy if nanny can sit babies with me?" He did
and Tony answered the phone. "We babysit?" She looked at her
aunt. "Why not him?"
"Auntie say Singapore." She grinned. "He not go."
"Pepper said he has to go."
She repeated that. "Okay, so we sit babies for Auntie Tara?
Please?" she begged. "I babysit and help." She
grinned. "Okay!" She hung up. "He check." She
hugged Tara. "Need more babies."
"Some year, dear." Maria looked at her. "Phil has some stored that he said I can use," she said quietly.
"That's wonderful of him." She kissed her and Tara blushed but
smiled. She winked. "If not, we can go on the next
weekend. It won't be as crowded."
Tara smiled. "Maybe." She took her hand to hold and they
walked with the baby to look at the books. "I don't want to read
about the civil wars of Central America, Callia. Pick out a happy
book." She did and they settled in to read. The twins were
napping in the living room - all hail growth spurts making kids nap.
Dawn went to start dinner. She had changed down to shorts and a
t-shirt. Clint and Natasha were on the way home before a team
dinner. Phil was with Xander, trying to make sure he didn't screw
up the universe.
Xander walked up to someone, holding up the contract. "I'd like to claim this."
He looked then at him. "It's on you."
"I died during a battle. That means I killed me." He smirked. "Then Dawn stabilized my core and I came back."
He considered it. "It's meant for someone else to have."
Xander shrugged. "I still managed to kill myself and I'm a God so
they won't be able to." He flashed his magnificence.
"I see." He called his boss, who sighed but said to give it to
him. "Fine." He handed him a map. "It's there.
If you can open it, it's yours."
"That's not in the contract," he said.
"It's in the tiny print around the edges," he said with a smirk.
"That's fine, I don't really need the map." He and Phil flashed
there. "Oops, forgot my decoder ring." He summoned it.
Phil looked. "Is that a first run Green Lantern ring from Kellogg's?"
"It is." He grinned. "It was what I had on hand so I imbued
it with one of the keys to open this holding spot." He
smirked. "It's nearly mint."
"I had a collection of Captain America cards. Director Fury damaged a few but I found new ones."
Xander smirked. "You can have this one after I'm done with
it." He focused and opened the vault. They heard a
roar. "Hey, be nicer," he complained, walking in there.
Phil looked. "That's a dragon, Xander." He might be a bit
worried about this, even with Xander in a really bad mood. He was
not trained in how to kill dragons.
"Yes it is." He grinned. He looked up at her. "So,
anyway, I won the right to set you free but you can't go near any of the
villages." He looked. "Aww, the eggs hatched. That's
great, Nyama." He scratched her neck. "I'm happy that your
draglets are so cute. I work with a few firelings and they're very
soft." She snuffled and let out a tinier roar. "No, you
can't go anywhere near the villages. They'll try to kill you or
make me try to kill you." She nuzzled his stomach. "I'd let
you come to earth but you'd have to leave the villages alone there too
or they'd kill you with bigger guns." He scratched an eyeridge,
getting happy noises. "So it's up to you but I won the contents of
She looked then at him. She nuzzled Phil, who hesitantly petted her like Xander had. "She's very soft."
"They are," Xander agreed with a grin. "So, what do you want to
do? There's even a bilgesnipe up the road a bit you can feast on
and feed them their first real meat."
She stretched up and her wings, then called to her young and flew
out. They followed, one waddling since he didn't fly. They
attacked the creature and ate well. Xander created a portal.
"To Iceland. There's a lot of areas that have no people.
Find them." She nodded, nudging her fledglings through the
portal. She had to keep nudging the one that didn't fly but that
was fine. Xander grinned at Phil. "She won't hurt anyone."
"Just create a panic," he said, staring at him. "Your mind is a weird place."
"Sometimes, yes, but all people are a bit weird. Or else we'd
freak out at our minds running our bodies without us knowing anything
"Possibly," he agreed. He moved closer. "Why do this?"
Xander led him back inside and found a few things, then shoved the rest
into a bag he had gotten at the Xander convention. "These."
He held them up.
"Those look like they belonged to some royal person."
Xander spun one. "This one's Dad's official staff of power. That one's Freya's."
"Hmm." He looked at them. "That's nice."
"She was behind it."
"We can store it in a closet under Dawn's shoes."
"We can." They disappeared together.
Phil got warm. Xander was cackling evilly. Phil was still
too much of an agent so he did call in a warning, to Stark. "The
new dragons are from Asgard. Where it's very cold. Xander
said they're not to bother people." He hung up. Xander
smirked at him. "I had to warn them."
"She won't bother people until she goes into heat next time."
"Is there something I can do to help calm you down?" Phil asked. "Backrub?"
"I love backrubs but no. Thank you."
"No one's prompting me, Xander. I'd like you to calm down before I
spend the next three weeks away from my desk defending people."
"I'm not mean to the people."
"Yes but governments panic and then we have to handle it anyway."
Xander shrugged as he walked off for the kitchen. Phil followed,
taking Xander and his soda back to the couch to work on his stiff
shoulders. "Relax, let me do this. You're in nearly as bad
of shape as I was."
"I... Phil, they'll take it as a bad sign."
"You said it was my choice and only my choice. Right now I'm
helping you take care of something, which is part of my job description I
might add." Xander gave him a funny look. "I protect all
protectors, even you." He went back to fixing his back
tension. Xander made pretty noises that still weren't hitting him
where it needed to. That proved they were wrong and it wasn't a
Loki looked up then at the demigods he was bothering. "I felt my staff."
John choked and spluttered his beer. "Excuse me? He let out the dragon?"
"Dragon?" Loki asked.
"Roque," John called. "Xander let out the dragon."
Roque appeared. "She's in Iceland with the babies." He looked at Loki. "Yes, he did."
"Why? You were the one that put her in there."
"No, we fought her for two weeks and stupidly lost," Roque said.
"Your son showed up and talked her into there to protect her eggs and
nest. That's where his part of the Silvertongue legacy comes
in. Or did you think there was another reason that even the wolves
protect him?" He looked at John. "She's not bothering
anyone. Settled in a remote cavern area with the eggs. No
gold though. That was noted in a price on his head." He
"So he claimed the price on his own head?" John called. "Xander
needs to calm down and I can't help with that." He finished his
beer and got another one.
Loki stared at him. "He did what?"
"He did a lot of what," John said dryly. "You never noticed.
Or that all the dragon attacks on the villages stopped." He
gulped this new beer and got a third. His head was going to
explode. It really was. This was way worse than the time
Atlantis had twins of Rodney. Even if they had been
triplets, it couldn't be this bad.
Loki created a viewing mirror to look at what he had missed of his son's
life. What he saw... did not amuse him one bit. "And they
say I'm evil?"
John smirked at him. "Xander's only evil for a reason."
"He collapsed Valhalla!"
"Twice," he agreed. "Because Odin needed smacked on the head and
that was the only thing big enough to get through the ego and the
hat." He went home before his mind got stuck remembering. He
felt Phil nearby and was suddenly sober. "Hey, I needed that."
"Your city's being attacked by militia people," Phil called.
"Then, yeah, I don't need to be drunk." He grabbed a few weapons
and left to defend Atlantis again. He found a young goddess there
playing with wires. "Diama, there's a problem so can you go home
for a few hours please?" She pouted at him. "There's a
battle, cousin. I don't want you hurt." She huffed but
disappeared. "Thank you. You can come back later to help us
fix any damage." He scanned around and found the militia on
boats. He sounded the alarm and it was nice. They were well
prepared to defend the city thanks to doing it so often.
Stark hung up and looked at the others having dinner with him. It
was a team dinner. "Xander released a dragon onto this plane but
it's an ice dragon and it's not going to hurt anyone." Bruce
stared, then huffed. "Coulson warned me."
"Okay," Clint said, considering it. "Why?"
"He's still very pissed off at them," Natasha said. "I would
be. If it won't hurt anyone then it'll only cause a panic."
"What is it doing against his paternal family though?" Stark asked.
"I am not an expert in that." She called Dawn, who put out that
dragons were inherently magical. They brought more magic with them
and opened more earth magic up. Which might take some away from
up there or it might just have been holding something he
needed. She projected the email so they could read it.
"Something he needed," Clint said.
"Probably," Natasha agreed.
Stark shook his head. "Will we have to fight it?"
"Not if it stays away from people," Steve said. He looked at Thor,
who was silently gulping his water. "Bad?" Thor
nodded. "How bad?"
He put down the empty mug. "Xander's heritage from his father
allows him to talk to anything dangerous or evil like Loki uses to
sweettalk virgins into bed." He got more water even though he
really wanted mead. "There's a reason Loki's known as
Silvertongue. Xander convinced many creatures to help him that
"Is that how he plays kitten poker?" Natasha asked. "Dawn said he used to do it for weapons."
"Probably," Thor agreed. He finished that glass and put it
down. He checked. "Phil is protecting and calming down that
protector before he has more evil plans but I feel two power
scepters. Thankfully not mine."
"Like official, queen and kings hold them scepters?" Steve asked.
Thor nodded. "Aye. We have to leave some power in it as a
backup and helper during bigger things. I can use it during
battles as a weak weapon. I feel one is my brother's and the
other... female I believe."
"So probably a love god?" Stark asked.
"Perhaps," Thor agreed. "Which means we'll hear much complaining."
"Are they going to complain to you about him?" Clint asked. "I
know he said he got complained at about you, his father, Willow."
"No, that's only on him." They went back to eating. Thor
really needed a vacation. Not at home but perhaps he'd go visit
Jane for a bit. He looked down at his hammer as it wiggled.
"If he's calling you, go." It wiggled again. "This is
bad. He could call my hammer before. His anger must be too
great now. Or his mind too evil." He watched as it finally
did go and came back smoking fairly quickly. He patted it and it
settled against his leg again. He could feel that Xander's anger
had clouded him. "He's much too angry."
"There's not really much we can do about it," Stark said. "They made their own bed by trying to force things."
Thor nodded. "I was blocked from standing up against it. I
did not like being glued to my chair. I told him thus later and he
forgave me." He dug into his hamburger. "We may see
Valhalla fall in again. Last time it was a great vacation to the
Summer lands. I was just before my manhood hunt."
"You have manhood hunts?" Steve asked.
Thor smiled and nodded. "A true man proves he is so, not simply
ages into being one. We bring back a hunt we have killed
ourselves. Xander's is in the hall right above mine. It
needed the extra bracing since it was large." He shook his head.
"What was yours?" Natasha asked.
"Seventeen point buck." He smiled. "Not bad for one of my first solo hunts."
"Not bad at all," she agreed. "What was his?"
"The head of a rabid werewolf that had been attacking a village.
They are quite large up there. Twice a man's height. Xander
was but fourteen if I remember right. It was one of his villages
so he went out and sat out. It came for him and he killed
it." They all nodded. "His axe was quite a mess I'm
told. The head people of the village saw him kill it and started
the celebration of his manhood. Odin heard and got there a few
days later to see for himself. He relented even though he was a
bit young. Then again, the next year, Xander caught the only
seventeen-foot rabbit I've ever seen."
"A what?" Steve demanded.
Thor shook his head. "A witch had tampered. The same one that made the biting rabbits with horns."
"Callia said she wanted one of those," Stark sighed. "That's why she got Carrot."
"If they're raised from birth, they're protective but not sweet," Thor
said. "I'd think she'd do well with a wolf pup when she's older."
"Fine." He smiled and finished eating. Xander was a bit more
calm. He had no idea how Coulson had done it. No one
he knew could calm Xander down when he was in a hurt and pouty snit.
Stark looked at him. "Dawn mentioned some chaos artifact she
needed a keepsake box for when she was looking for one online."
Natasha and Clint both choked. "What is it?"
"It's called the Deermere choker," Natasha said.
Thor looked at them. "Why is she acquainted with that damnable object?"
"The Xander in another realm, who goes by Lavelle, had it gifted to him
for the higher ups letting him be tortured," Clint said. "She told
us what it did."
Thor licked his lips. "Remember that the one who puts it on must
take it off. If they're dead their offspring may. Or else it
stays locked until you die in it. You may change settings but
"We saw," Clint said. "She also said that the Janus there used a
fertility spell on Lavelle to let him bear his own children."
Thor nodded. "That does not surprise me of any chaos god. It
being in reparation meant that things were evil." He considered
it then shook his head quickly. "My brother had a hand in making
it. It is a powerful artifact."
"What does it do?" Tony asked.
"It changes you fully to another form," Thor said. "Another male
form, another female form, whatever image your mind paints for your
"An illusion?" Steve asked.
"No one is certain. It may change those things that you humans check for identity."
"We need it locked up better than a box on Dawn's dresser," Tony said, looking at the two lovers of his assistant.
"It's in my safe," Clint said.
Tony stared at him. "I know that could be very useful in your old lines of work, but it's a bit creepy."
"It's a beautiful diamond choker," Natasha said. "We could find many uses for it."
Thor shook his head quickly. "My mind goes many bad places. I
must visit Jane to get my head out of them. Excuse me." He
grabbed his hammer and took off from the porch.
Tony nodded. "So did mine and they weren't all work related."
"Mine either," she said smugly.
Clint looked at her. "Your birthday's next." She hit him on the arm. "It is."
"Fine. Did you want to go out to dinner that night?"
"Dawn promised us dinner in Paris."
"I could like her blipping around that way," he decided.
"I'm to know in case she gets snatched, or you guys do," Stark ordered. "That way we can find you and get you back."
"We'll have a tracker on," Clint said. "She does have a new one?"
"Yes, shielded against magic browning it out too," he assured him.
They smiled. "Especially with a trip to Singapore tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Clint asked.
"Pepper just found out earlier."
"Damn it." He looked at her. She smiled. "Maybe she'll
find that shoe place again. They had her size and they were
actually lower heels."
"They did," Natasha agreed. "They didn't look too sturdy though."
Tony shook his head. "Does she have worse in her closet than what
she wore today? Because I heard she had to snark at someone who
asked her if she was Joan of Arc. A lot of us stared because she
had the princess warrior thing going."
"A few," Clint said. "She's got some empty space." Tony
stared at him. "We used to nag her about how much clothes she
"Girls like Dawn and Pepper should have a lot of clothes and
shoes. They're what keeps the economy moving. Though, remind
me the next time we have to go on a trade mission to the Middle East to
hire an extra bodyguard." He stuffed his mouth.
Clint laughed. "I heard her complaining about jewelry a sheik had given her."
"Attempted," Tony corrected. "He walked up to Pepper and I, with
Dawn taking notes behind us, and offered us this really pretty platinum
and jade set for her hand in marriage. She looked at him and shook
her head, telling him she was underage and her mother would never
approve. He asked about her father and she said he was divorced
and had not talked to her, but she was her mother's daughter and would
kill whoever tried to force her into something. She went back to
"That night, that jewelry and another box of diamond drop earrings, plus
ten pounds of Godiva, showed up in our room with Pepper's name on
it. Again, asking her for permission to court Dawn. I had to
have the bodyguard stick on Dawn like glue that whole week.
Pepper told him she wasn't interested and wanted to work with
them. He offered to pay for Joyce's treatments, buy her a grand
house here in the city so she could work with us, and he'd emigrate to
study over here because he wanted to get an English degree. The
guy would not leave her alone.
"She got one short shopping trip, in the local all-covering gear as a
security precaution and so no one would try to pick on her. No,
out of all of them he found her again. Offered her candy."
Natasha sighed. "She finally told him that a fat wallet did not
make her want to date a man. Respect, honoring her, and being a
good man did. He pouted. His father complained to me and I
pointed out she was right. She needed a strong man. Not one
that would only buy her things. He finally got the point and
called his son off because he scared her by breaking in and she shot him
in the arm."
Clint and Natasha looked at each other then at him. "Were there others?" she asked.
"I know of two others that went stalker, they were both magical sorts
though. They knew she had power but not why and wanted it for
their personal uses as they broke down their wife. You'd have to
ask Pepper or Coulson, Natasha. He spent more time with her than
"He did." She considered it. "We'll ask her later."
"That might help. I'm sure we didn't hear all of them. She
was queen of hiding stuff from Joyce and us if she thought it might
upset us. Hid a report card for a single 'c' in gym class."
He sipped his water. "I think Coulson got her straightened out
with that one. Told her we wouldn't be disappointed. That's
when we found out that other secretary had been telling her we'd stick
her in an orphanage if she screwed up. I've never seen Coulson
slug someone but he walked up to her and laid her flat. Pepper
looked at her then at him and asked if she had hit on him so she could
fire her for sexual harassment. She and Dawn had a girl talk that
"I remember the girl talk, I was reassigned to babysit you then."
"Yeah, that was that weekend. The Saudi trip was a few weeks later."
"She was more plain then. Didn't really understand how to dress."
"Pepper did some tutoring but she had sense. She had to finish
growing into it. She had that green stretchy dress for over a year
before it fit her properly. She had that one growth spurt that
made her quit looking like she was fourteen."
"I remember watching it and helping her handle things like bra shopping."
"Thank you for handling that so I wasn't traumatized. With Pepper
in Europe that month, I had no idea how to help her." He
smiled. "Remember her fit about being a tag-along?" She
nodded, smiling some. "She had another one about college because
they asked me if I would go on the alumni rolls. She made sure I
hadn't screwed it up for her. She had to make the point about why
but I assured her it was all hers."
"She was concerned that people wouldn't see her, they'd see the shadow
of Pepper," she said. "At the same time she was struggling with
the whole identity issue thanks to how she was created."
Tony nodded. "She still does now and then. That's where her 'normal' thing came from."
"I figured it was," she agreed. She smiled at Clint.
"Half the time, any Stark Sitting jobs required us to work with Pepper
while monitoring him to make sure he wasn't making something to blow us
all up. Neither Phil nor myself are qualified to work in the labs
with him. We both spent a lot of time helping Pepper with Dawn's
mentoring because Pepper was doing ten things at once, including her own
Stark herding jobs. It was Coulson who noted that he reacted when
Dawn nagged him so she got that part and it eased Pepper's many jobs."
"That and all the pressure she was putting on herself," Tony
agreed. "I did the same sort of thing when I suddenly had to take
over the company." He sipped his water. "Then they
disappeared for five months and I was stuck with you two herding me
around like I was some one-trick pony."
"I'd say you have three or four tricks," Clint taunted.
"Just about," Tony agreed. "I'm just glad Pepper made it home
finally from Europe. You two drove me nuts trying to make me quit
"I learned a lot watching Dawn handle it," Natasha admitted. "I
wonder if that's why they decided she was the future mother of your
"Probably," he admitted. "That and I drive everyone but her and
Pepper nuts, and we couldn't make it work. She can only take so
much crazy genius at a time." He stuffed his mouth.
"Did we test Dawn's IQ?" Clint asked. "I know she's really bright."
"175," he said pulling up those files. "That intake
evaluation? Got stopped cold when I promised I would nuclear bomb
their houses with miniature pinpoint nukes and gave them their
addresses." Natasha laughed. "The psych profile is a lot of
wrong. The woman was gauging her like she would an agent or a
genius with a leaning toward crazy. She didn't get that Dawn was
quiet because she didn't want to talk to her. I got her fired
too. We filed suit against her license thanks to Warren's
increased damage. She lost all three and her one for the International
center in Switzerland.
"The new one over his case filed to have her blackballed so she can't
get one in any other country. He thinks she should've realized
Warren was completely snapped when she first got him. He said
looking at her notes she was almost prompting him to act out by forcing
him to deal with real women that were making suggestive comments and
"He was pathologically afraid of them," Natasha said. Tony nodded. "The other two?"
He smiled. "They're happy, healthier young men. They've
healed a lot. They asked for their first day off to go to the
movies tomorrow." She smiled. "Dawn had to show them that
form but they did it themselves. They've had some really good
ideas. When Callia found some anime on that site that had
chemically caused screw or die issues and tentacles, Andrew told
me. She had told him she had found it because of the roomba dog."
Clint shuddered. "I don't want to know."
Tony smirked. "Callia's able to read well enough that she told her
aunt the heros were all huggy and kissy. I had to issue a
'approve of it as soon as she touches a computer' with JARVIS to make
sure she couldn't sneak anything else."
"She is brilliant," Natasha praised.
Steve nodded. "She is. Is she picking up Russian from you and Dawn?"
"The wrong parts of it," Tony said dryly. "Dawn hit her ankle and
cracked it good. Callia chirped the swear words right back so Dawn
had to tell her that was swearing in pain words, not good girl words.
Rodney was here and he corrected her pronunciation and taught Callia
some words for things like cat and dog. Including carrot, rabbit,
"What if she want to be a zoologist?" Clint teased.
"Barton, I liked you more when you talked less," Tony joked back with an evil smirk.
"I figured it had to be." He shook his head. "I come out of
the lab more now. She actually got me out of a blind rage at
someone stupid one day. That was really brave. She took a
repluser weapon from my hand and got me sitting down then hugged
me. "I still hopped up but she got me calmed down again."
"She's good at what she does," Natasha agreed.
"Then she took the repulser weapon and went to kill them," Steve
quipped. "I heard someone mentioning it at the Malibu house."
Tony nodded. "Yeah, she did. Nearly made it out the door but
JARVIS got around her attempts to disable the lock. She would've
went out the garage entry but that would've meant climbing that
cliff. She was going to walk around but JARVIS stopped her by
putting up a forcefield over the doorway when she started to do more
than look at the cliff. She was so mad she didn't think about
doing it magically."
"What did he do?" Natasha asked. "I wasn't there that day."
"He's the guy that created that problem that nearly stomped the hospital Joyce was in."
"She would have killed him," Steve agreed.
"I was pissed because he had done it. I didn't realize it was that
hospital until Dawn told me. Then I had to get her calmed down
enough to call Joyce."
"Coulson was with Thor," Natasha said.
"We were without any agents that day. The one that had been
watching from the parking lot went to handle the damage control.
She almost shot the lock with the repulsor beam but I reminded her twice
it wouldn't work and would initiate a safety shut down."
"She does have a temper," Natasha said. "We've seen it once."
"Happily only the once," Clint agreed, finishing his water and getting
more. Tony was staring at him. "Someone had us hostage to
get information. Not the greatest plan but it worked. Dawn
totally lost it. She melted their building. It just flowed
down like it was melting ice cream instead of stucco. A few guys
shot at her and she skinned them I think." Tony shuddered.
"And then she found us and the person who had us was not happy when he
went flying up. It took almost thirty minutes for him to come back
down." Tony winced. "We got her calmed down and she was
crying about it but she worked it out and calmed down about the time the
guy hit the ground."
Natasha nodded. "She looked over and said she thought it'd take
longer. Then hiccuped and wiped her nose with her hand."
"Yeah, let's not let her do that again, all right," he ordered, staring at them. "Unless she has to?"
They nodded. "We try, Stark," Clint said.
"Good. I never want to see her in another battle unless we'll all die."
"Which is when she said she'd jump in," Steve said. "Dawn's got
sense and she knows her limits, Tony. She knows what she can
and can't do."
"She still hides things," Clint said. Tony nodded and pointed. "But she usually is right that she can handle them."
"Buffy tried so hard to coddle her so she could be normal while
complaining that she got into trouble," Tony told Steve. "There's
whole psych textbooks that could be written about Buffy and Dawn's
"Joyce has sense."
"She tried but when you can't be there, and no one blames her. We blame the people that gave her that first shot."
"I'd like to find them anyway," Clint admitted. "Make sure they're somewhere harmful."
"They're part of the UN hunting squads," Tony said with a smirk. "Hunting demons down in Africa and the lower Americas."
"We nearly ran into them," Natasha said. "That's who Dawn
spotted." Clint grimaced but nodded it must have been. "They
should be in prison."
"Yes but some people find them useful," Tony said.
"Not us," Loki's voice called. "Where is my brother?"
"Hiding from you," Clint called.
"Fine." His voice faded.
"Have we mentioned it's really weird when he acts fairly normal?" Clint asked Tony.
"It is. Especially after that last one. This one is a bit
warped but he's playing long-term games instead of short relief
ones." He finished his sandwich and wiped his mouth, putting his
napkin on the plate. "Are you three going to the movie too?"
"She hasn't said she wanted to go," Natasha said.
"She's not a huge fan of crowds so maybe when it's been out a while."
"That could be nice. There's a nice second round cinema up the
street." Clint nodded he liked it. "Is that sheik's son
"Cornell," Tony said. She winced. "Yes, the one that was in
that car crash." He smiled. "Nice enough of him to prove his
Clint looked at her. "I missed a news story?" Tony pulled it
up. He read it. "He's fugly. Dawn can overlook a lot
but not that."
"He's internally and mentally fugly," Tony assured him. "His younger brother is model pretty but evil."
"Wonderful." They got finished and stood up. "Let us go save Dawn from the children."
"Have fun with the twins. Coulson might be back by now."
They shrugged and went back to the apartment building. Steve
looked at Tony, shaking his head. "They're cute."
"They're very cute. Especially when Dawn fusses over everyone."
Tony grinned. "She is fussy and she learned it from her mother."
"She did, yes. She's got that same 'talk to me' thing her mother does too."
"I've noticed and she does good getting people comfortable." They
went to watch some tv. Cap was across the hall from Coulson so he
heard a bit too much from the twins, who had been cranky recently.
Phil finished getting Xander to relax, finally. That part of his
powers that monitored Xander read him as calm, less angry, and able to
handle things. "You should eat dinner."
"What did you need Thor's hammer for?"
Phil shook his head. "Should I know?"
"Dumbass opened the wrong book and it opened a tiny portal to let out
some aliens I stomped on way back when. I put the portal into a
book and he didn't even check."
"Hmm. You need to mark those."
"They all have gold diamonds on the spine."
"That's what that means. I thought maybe it was a publishing house symbol since they seem to be romance novels."
Xander grinned. "What better way to piss off a demon you're
storing in a book than making it a sappy, fade-to-black romance novel
where the girls are wimpy and the guys are creepy." Phil
laughed. "It works *very* well."
"I guess it does." He stood up. "Let me go rescue my spawns
from the aunts." Xander smirked. "I'll talk to you
soon." Xander nodded so he left. He felt along all his other
people and found Thor moping and scared. He checked, he was
flying up to Jane Foster's house so she'd straighten him out.
Stark was calm and not planning, plotting, thinking, or creating so that
must be Steve next to him on the couch. Dawn was having a minor
plot but nothing too huge. Probably something even more naughty to
tease them with. He smiled as he appeared, looking at his happy
twins. "You two finally calmed down? Your aunt is a saint."
"Not hardly," Dawn snorted.
"Sometimes, when you're not wearing something trashy." He kissed
her on the head and took the kids from her. "Maria and
Tara?" She pointed upstairs with a smirk. "Maybe I'll see
about moving into the free apartment." He smiled at her.
"Yes, big brother."
"Thank you." He walked up there, listening at the door. He
went up to the penthouse and called Stark. "I should give Tara her own
space since she's dating," he said in greeting. He listened.
"Actually, right now we're hiding in the penthouse." He
smiled. "I doubt he'll need it. I'm looking forward to a
slightly sappy wedding we have to make sure they elope for." He
laughed. "If he wanted to move down a few floors that would be
fine. Or I could. Either one's fine." He nodded.
"That one is nice, yes. Thank you. I can do that."
He hung up and looked at the twins. "We should go down there and
get you used to your new part-time apartment." He took them down
there and it was nice. A bit old fashioned. Had an electric
fireplace that looked like an older Victorian one. Decent
kitchen. Two bedrooms. Two bathrooms. Good
closets. That might not totally work when the kids were older.
Some day soon they'd have to stay in their own rooms. Which meant
switching with Tara really. He could see her decorating here and
getting a cat. He wasn't sure if Maria was allergic or not.
He'd talk to them when they were done.
Loki looked around the mess on the white house lawn. He huffed,
hands on his hips. "I had no idea he had put that into a book," he
complained bitterly. The secret service guards were staring at
him. "My son has a nasty habit of putting things into books that
"He captured an alien invasion?" one of them asked.
"A few decades back in London, behind a bar he used to favor." At
least the lightening had stopped the new invasion of tiny things.
Maybe he could put them in India in a certain ex's river. His son
was going more evil than him and it was probably a bad sign for the
universe. He might have to be *good* for a bit, fight like a
*hero*. He might even have to save his father's life. He
shuddered and walked off to find something to take that horrible thought
out of his head.
"You shouldn't really drink," his consort said. Loki scowled at him. "Not in your condition."
"I don't have a condition." He sipped the bourbon. "She
thankfully made sure it was not going to happen before you had to
explain how your male lover got pregnant to the US." He
smirked. "Beyond that, I need a drink. Son, how do you know
when the books contain something?" A sign appeared that he
remembered from the library. "Ah. I'll remember that from
"Don't we have two more of those here?" the president asked.
"I'll make sure what's in them before I read them." He went to get
his bedtime reading. It did calm him down to laugh at the stupid
reactions. Both had higher level demons. He stared at
one. "When did he run into you?" he demanded. The demon told
him. "Oh, there." He got another drink after sending the
books back to the library. He sent the sign back as well.
Hopefully it would be more noticed.
"Sir," one of the guards shouted. "There's a report of a huge
flying lifeform that just appeared in Iceland by the satellite photos."
Loki walked out, because he might have an idea. "Her name is Nyama
and my son has told her she may not eat people. It looks like her
eggs hatched when she was in confinement though." He finished
that drink. They were all staring at him. He shook his
head. "He, Roque, John, and a few warriors had to hunt down the
dragon that was terrorizing some villages. My son managed to talk
her into confinement when the attacking approach got a lot of people
injured. I found this out later because most consider Roque and
John to have done it." He got another drink. This was going
to be a bad week.
"So it's a dragon?" his lover said. "An actual fire breathing dragon?"
"Actually, if I remember right, she's an ice dragon. She blows
poisoned smoke." He saluted him with the glass. "My father
has pissed off my son to the point where my son's having bad
ideas. There were a few things stored in her nest that my son
apparently felt he needed." He took a drink, looking at the
guard. "Yes, my son Alexander, not the one in Russia who's
actually a daughter."
"He is?" his lover asked.
"Yes. Decided at eight she was a boy. She's been one of the
tougher warriors ever since she announced that. Anytime someone
complained she proved them wrong. She and her wife are usually
very happy but she's being a bit picky. I suggested she use some
of the seed Alexander left her. That way I have normal
grandchildren that don't try to fight my father over him deciding my son
is to marry."
"Your father... Odin just announced that your son is marrying?"
"Yes, at a banquet." He smiled. "My son is a bit
stubborn. It's going to cause some issues. Especially if he
would simply displace them instead of killing them," he called up.
"That way I don't have to hear the complaining." A little sign
showed up saying 'better you than me'. On the other side was
a flashing 'nagging is only accepted from people that have been up
close and personal with my ass, so unless I'm screwing you or gave birth
to you, you don't have a right to nag'. Loki snorted. "I
take it Mother showed up?" The sign nodded. "Figures."
This was probably the least stressful talk he'd had with his son since
his son was six-years-old. Like magic the sign fell because it was
on fire from that thought. The guard stamped it out. Loki
finished his drink. "I'll buy a new bottle of this most amusing
"It's twenty-year-old bourbon," his lover said.
Loki looked at him and pulled some mead from the special barrels,
letting him have a sip. "This is mead. Real, traditional
mead not what they serve at those amusing festivals." His lover
moaned and nodded. "That is over fifty years old. It is
fermented honey." He smirked. "It's why I have that son
"That's your version of big meal drinks like we'd do champagne?"
"It is. Beer or ales were for regular meals." The guard
looked confused. "Not like we have water purification and who
wants to drink the water from a stream with fish in it?" The guard
shuddered. "Exactly." He finished most of the mead.
It made him calmer. And hungry. "Shall we have a late dinner?"
"That's not a bad idea." He took the rest of the mug to
drink. It was good. Warm, spicy, comforting. Like a
warm blanket had just been wrapped around him. Loki was in that
same calm, happy place so maybe a very late dinner after they worked out
the bad moods.
The guard fled at the first kiss. He did not need to know. That was above his classification rating.
Freya appeared to Phil that night, smiling. "You managed to calm him down."
"I used my powers," he said. She lost the smile and looked
confused. "He is one of the ones I protect. It lets me feel
what they need. Really, Dawn always said my greatest power was my
ability to hug when she needed one."
"Holding someone because they need comfort? Your people don't do
that? Because if not, I can see why Loki's always so mad."
He was a bit snarky but it had been a long day.
"It's not really for warriors," she said firmly.
"Bullshit," he said in the same bland, calm tone of voice. "John
Sheppard is one of the toughest warriors I know and he gives some of the
best hugs when you need comfort. He was helping an agent who was
having flashbacks and got her calmed down and able to function very
quickly by holding her."
She still looked confused. "I know not of anyone who does that outside the bedroom."
"I give Tara hugs all the time and I only slept with her that night so she could have the twins."
She huffed off. "He said it was his powers," she told Frigg.
"That Alexander is one he protects." Odin snorted.
"He has stopped many things. Including stopping that last battle,"
Frigg said. Odin stared at her, looking horrified. "Phil
would be above him as well. Or at least his well-being. I
still sense a friendship that can grow into a good mate relationship."
"He claims it was a *hug*," Freya complained.
"What are these hugs?" Odin asked.
"What you needed to give more of to your sons so they could have real
relationships without issues," John said, holding up a scroll.
"From Hera, Frigg." He tossed it over. "Hugging is holding
someone who needs comfort. Like you would a sobbing child."
"I wouldn't. That's a mother's job."
"It's both parents' jobs. You both made the kid, not just
her." He disappeared. "It's no wonder the goddesses revolt
with attitudes like that," he told Hera.
"I could use a reply, Jonathan."
"They can send it. I was going to smite Odin." He disappeared.
"I seem to sense a lot of that feeling." She sighed and relaxed
until the scroll came back. She did want that recipe for those
scones. She frowned at earth, spotting something.
"Jonathan!" He reappeared. She pointed. "What is
that? It has some of your taint on it. That's not the
He looked and frowned. "No, that's the alien invasion that Xander
found by peeing on it behind a bar one night. He had the remains
trapped in a book. Who knew Loki read Harlequin romances," he said
dryly, going to get something and fix it. He appeared on the
white house lawn with a huge gun. He held up a hand.
"Colonel Sheppard, Atlantis. The portal's still open. Let me
blow the sucker." He fired into it and it did explode. He
wiggled a finger in his ear. "Good, it's dead now." He
smiled at the guards. "I'm under General O'Neill."
"We know, sir," one guard said. "Do you know about those things?"
"Yeah, I do." He pulled his journal from the time to let them see.
They read it, nodding slowly. The lead guard sighed and looked at him. "Why was it here?"
"Xander tends to trap things like that, with a chance of coming back or
higher demons he defeats, inside books. All the books have a tiny gold
diamond on the spine somewhere. He tends to put them into romance
novels to disgust the higher demons." He grinned at their
groan. "I'm guessing someone likes trashy romance novels."
"His father apparently." He handed the journal back. "Can we please have you fill out a sitrep, Colonel?"
"Can I do it at the office and mail it to O'Neill?"
"Please," he agreed. "By morning call if possible."
"I don't have a date tonight," he admitted. "Which sucks hugely." He disappeared with his gun.
The lead guard looked at the other one. "Now we know why he was at that battle out there."
"I wonder if he's related to the VP." Loki cleared his throat from
the doorway, not wearing anything. "Is he your relation as well,
"He's related to my son by their mother. His father's greek. What was that?"
"He blew up the remains of the portal. Totally safe now, sir."
"Charming of him." He went back to bed.
The guards winced. They did not want to tell the God of Chaos what
to do. Last time they had all been trained monkeys for six
days. Birthday party hats, horns, a few unicycles, and a lot of
bananas, all that one would expect for trained monkeys. They'd
have to get the boss to remind him that strolling around the white house
naked was probably not very discreet of him.
Nick Fury looked at his senior agents the next morning. It was the
daily meeting. He had gotten all the usual complaints out of the
way. "We have one last issue. Coulson, what can you tell me
about little silver aliens that are about four inches high and came out
of a romance novel?"
"Not much, sir. As I understand it, Xander was peeing behind a bar
and found them. He called his friends from inside and they
stopped their invasion. Then Xander kindly put the remains in a
book. Why is it important?"
"It was on the white house lawn."
"Oh. I didn't realize the president read romance novels."
Fury gave him a funny look. "He does it to piss them off."
"It's certainly working on me."
Coulson shrugged. "Long before we were formed, sir."
"I see. How many more does he have?"
"I did not look in the library." He sent a text message. He
got a mental one back. "Xander estimates at least sixty that hold
demons or other problems."
"Sixty?" Maria Hill demanded.
"Some are higher demons he was battling," Phil said with a smile for her.
"Can we please find a containment system for them, sir?" Maria Hill asked. "I don't want to see another demonic invasion."
Phil frowned and looked up, sending a text message. Xander sent
back to just ask and he pointed out he was in a meeting. Xander
appeared and handed him a file then disappeared. He looked at it
then handed it down to the director. "On the next people trying to
do another invasion scenario."
Fury looked at it. "Great! We'll stop them now
instead." He put it down. "I want a list of how many and
what they are."
"Sir, how would I know which demon it was?" he asked. Fury glared
at him. "I can ask if he has one but last night he said he didn't
really keep track."
"Sorry, sir. We can probably separate out demonic versus the rest."
"Are there other alien invasion portals?"
Xander appeared. "One to elves. Does that count?"
"Elves?" Fury demanded.
"I hate elves. They're snobby bitches worse than most virgin
Goddesses who think that they're so damn great because of the pointy
ears and try to lord over everyone, even the Gods. The mutual
hatred society pretty well started during an attempted invasion of
Fury looked at him. "How did you run into that?"
"That one, no comment because it wasn't my doing and the slow curse I
applied for it is leaching someone's powers out." He
smirked. "Thankfully they saw the invasion and I managed to get
free to solve it. The later ones I've put into the same
book.... I felt it happen. There's one remaining portal and
it's above LA, about two miles up. They didn't have more than
horses and riding deer then so I thought that might keep them from
coming through. They might have jetpacks by now so if they invade
they're coming from there."
Fury sat down, staring at him. "I want a list of every single problem that could come back to eat us or hurt us."
"Do I look like a librarian?" he demanded. "I'm a busy god,
Fury. I've got training duties, all sorts of fucking battles
because you guys can't pull your shit together enough to agree to not
starve the people, and on top of that I've got bitchy higher ups that
think you're a roach. Do you think I have time to do a memory
review?" He disappeared.
"He was actually calm last night for a while," Phil sighed. "Sir,
he's under a lot of stress thanks to them deciding to force him to
"Who?" one agent asked. "Can we talk to the spouse and get them to help?"
"No, I can't read minds," Phil said dryly. They all stared at
him. He nodded. "I'm also supposed to be searching out the
other demigods to see if they need help and if they want to and can
possibly train to make a second team. I've made contact with a lot
of them. They're in the city having a drinking competition in an
old Irish pub."
Fury groaned. "How many have powers?"
"Six that I know of. The others.... No clue yet, sir."
"Find out, Coulson. We do not need drunk demigods destroying the city."
"If they hold a party I doubt they'll destroy anything but the bar,
sir. Even if a fight breaks out, I'm told it'll turn into sex
later on and it'll all be calm." Fury stared at him. "So
said the demigod Roque. They apparently do it every few years,
usually in London."
"See if he has a partial list, or Sheppard."
"I can send them an email, sir." John appeared with a stack of journals and handed them over. "Thank you, Colonel."
"That's just mine. You'd have to ask Roque, he didn't keep a
journal." He sighed as he disappeared. He had hoped today
was going to be uncomplicated. He went back to hearing O'Neill and
Mitchell bitch. They stared at him. "Director Fury wanted
to know what else might be trapped in a book."
"Go. Away," O'Neill said with a point. "Before I send just you back to Pegasus, without your city."
"Thank you, sir." He saluted and disappeared.
Mitchell shook is head. "Permission to go break open my skull on a wall?"
"Granted as long as the docs don't stop you. I'll be joining you once I have a few forms filled out."
"Sir, it's Miller time somewhere in the world," he said bluntly. "I say it is here too."
"It's not even nine, Mitchell. We can't call off today to get drunk."
"Yes, I can, sir. I have leave time I need to use." He quit
sitting on a filing cabinet and saluted. "I'll be at the bar,
sir." He walked off.
"Do a report before you get too lit," he called after him. He took
something for his headache and got to work on the forms.
"Just think, they wanted me to marry the lunatic," Rodney called. "Imagine what it'd do to my genius brain."
O'Neill dropped his pen and grabbed his wallet. "Mitchell's right,
it's Miller time." He walked off. "Shut up, McKay and get
off my base for the next month! Before I file papers to have you
conscripted into the regular military as a Marine."
"They'd never accept me," he said dryly. "I'm too old."
"Conscription solves that," O'Neill said with a wave over his shoulder.
Rodney smirked and had himself sent to Stark Tower. It was his
second favorite playground. "Ah, better." He looked
around. "No one's here? Did we all take time off to see that
"Yes, sir," JARVIS said. "The greater majority of the science staff is off today to go to the movies in a large group."
Rodney looked up. "Why on earth would they want to?"
"Because they like comic books and as one said, at least it's not on Iron Man."
"Fine. Let me go work on something to take that issue out of my mind."
"Mr. Stark is in his personal lab."
"I'll head that way then. Thank you, JARVIS." He headed up
there, finding him tinkering and talking to Dawn. "Am I
"Yes," Dawn said with a grin. "But we'll forgive you for it
because it's really quiet today. Even the office staff went to the
movies." She frowned and looked up. "After work. I
don't get paid by Stark to go do a library inventory for Xander,
Phil." She looked at him then rolled her eyes. "Xander has a
whole bunch of stuff trapped in books."
JARVIS put up a bit of film from the morning SHIELD agent meeting. Tony groaned, shaking his head.
"I wondered why Sheppard took that gun," Rodney said. That footage
was put up. "That was a loud explosion. We'll have to test
"Not in this building. Malibu's lab has a great containment
system." Rodney smirked at him. "I'd suggest the SHIELD
facility in Arizona but it caved in." Dawn shuddered.
"You're fine and you weren't there."
"Saw it second-hand."
He stared at her. "Really?"
"Often." She smirked. "That's why I wear the high heels and you wear sneakers."
"I could be a bitch in sneakers," he said. She pulled something
and held it out. He stared at the pretty piece of jewelry.
"That's that choker, isn't it?" She smirked and nodded. "I
wanted to scan that."
"What does it do?" Rodney asked.
"Try it on," Dawn offered. "It's not harmful," she said at his
look. He took it to try on and squeaked. He scrambled to get
it off. "Yes, anything you can imagine in a human. Made by
He carefully put it on the workbench. "That's evil."
"Actually it could be really handy and kinda kinky." Tony was laughing. "Couldn't it?"
"Very," he agreed. Rodney was making squeaky, horrified noises so
Dawn got up to get him coffee. He gulped it and then stared at
her. "It's old," Tony said.
"I could tell. It was cold."
"It let me make a new pot," Dawn quipped.
Stark set the necklace to scan, watching it run. "Chaos magic does have slight gamma radiation spikes."
"Yeah, whenever Bruce changes I get a bit of a wobble on the chaos magic
sensors." She handed over clean, new cups of coffee. "Doc,
the only creamer is hazelnut."
"That's not going to harm me." She let him read the
ingredients. He shrugged and took a sip. It was fine.
He looked around. "Is he here?"
"He and Mom are having an anniversary celebration," Dawn said with a
smile. "It's the year anniversary of her getting out." Tony
smiled. "We get her tomorrow. Buffy can't get up until
"Good to know you'll be having a long lunch tomorrow."
"I have tomorrow off," she reminded him. "You and Pepper both signed it and it's on the schedule that I'm off."
"Fine," Tony said. "That's a happy thing you need to
celebrate." The computer started to beep frantically. Dawn
moved the necklace away from the now warm beam. The beeping
stopped. "Chaos magic?"
"Yeah." She smiled at Rodney. "The Xander in that realm,
Lavelle, said that the first time someone put him into it he had K cup
breasts and looked like a blow up doll to keep him from escaping."
"Some men do enjoy those," he admitted. "I've had a few girlfriends that were about as responsive."
Clint strolled in. "I got an alert that you moved something."
"He wanted to scan it." She handed it over with a grin. He took a kiss. "You have a movement alarm on it?"
"Yup, just in case someone like Loki wants it."
"You know, I'm pretty sure he's got another one hidden," Dawn admitted, considering it.
Xander appeared and hugged her. "I love you like I gave birth to
your warped ass. Thank you, Dawnie." He disappeared.
Dawn cackled. "I think I gave him the mean idea."
"Quite possibly," Stark said. "What was it?"
"Where would Loki hide something like that?" she asked.
"On him, if possible.... oh," Tony said, getting it. Clint
cackled. "Well, hopefully Xander will make him pretty." He
sipped his new coffee. "Eww, hazelnut."
"You bought it," she reminded him.
"Get me some irish cream when he takes you to cure that funny mood?" Tony quipped.
"It's not near time for lunch and I'm pretty sure he has work,
boss." She walked Clint out and downstairs. "I should've
worn that blue maxidress today."
Clint stared at her. "You might look like an evil empress in it, Short Stuff, but don't warp the boss too much?"
"I'll try." She winked and strolled off. "See you after work."
"Sure." He took the necklace home to put back then went back to
work. By the time he got there, Fury had texted a summons to his
office. "Sorry, sir, hiding the chaos artifact that Dawn's
"Is it another thing like her?" he asked.
"No, sir. The Deermere choker." He went back to his training
group. Some of the newbie agents really needed their heads
unscrewed. Even more than Dawn did. Thankfully he wouldn't
get forced to fix them like he would be Dawn's dirty mind later.
Fury called down to that library to have them look it up. What he
saw did not amuse him in the least. Especially when Joyce came in
and turned on his tv and left snickering. A female version of Loki
was caught swearing at his son to take 'this cursed implement off me
before I unmake you'. Fury was snickering. Served him
right. Especially when a reporter broke in with a scroll that had
an order signed by Odin that all of Valhalla's denizens had to marry and
mate within so long and it was running out.
Natasha was staring at the tv in the cafeteria, shaking her head.
"At least he made her a pretty girl. He could have been much less
Steve was looking at her. "That's that thing, right?"
"Another version. That one is in the safe."
"Great." They watched as someone asked if she was pregnant since
she did have a slight bump to her stomach. She glared and stomped
off. No powers came when he snapped. The camera caught him
looking at his hand then up. Clearly whatever he said was a vow of
revenge. A scepter fell at his feet and he picked it up. He
glowed. He had some of his powers again but not that much.
She went back to stomping off.
Someone was going to pay hard for that stunt.
Dawn made up a nice packet of her favorite fashion mags, a few catalogs,
and a few coupons she had lying around, sending them at Loki.
She'd need the new bras and clothes.
"Not funny," Loki's voice said a minute later.
She smiled. "You need them so you don't look like a tramp he
picked up in a bar. That way you're tasteful and classy."
"My son will still be paying."
"Hey, you made it," she pointed out.
He growled. "He'll still pay."
"You're trying to screw his life, he's letting you be screwed in return," she quipped.
"Not likely." His voice faded off.
"Just wait until you have to have your first girl exam to get on the
pill," she said quietly. She wouldn't cackle, it was so cheesy and
someone might stop her ideas.
Tony and Pepper met for lunch. "They've not had sex recently,"
Tony told her. "They can't have. Dawn's in evil mode."
"Dawn does evil so well though." She smiled. "She was even helpful by sending him magazines and coupons."
He looked at her. "Did it spread?"
"Maybe." She smiled. "Maybe I'm just enjoying the show."
"You know, I can offer you the same cure."
She looked at him and patted him on the hand. "No you won't."
"Yes I will. I think I definitely will." He had the
satellite move them to the penthouse office/suite. He kissed her
and made her moan, moving her backwards to the couch. She really
needed to unwind more often.
Jonathan walked up to Dawn later that night. "Dawn, do you have a few?"
"Of course. How was the movie?"
"It was so great." He grinned at her. "Great action
sequences, they were pretty true to the source materials. I so
went total fangirl squeal over it." She smiled. He lost
his. "We accidentally made something we didn't expect based on
"Um..." He looked around. "You're like a girl so I can't mention it," he said quietly.
She looked at him. "Let's go look." He nodded, taking her
down there. The entire floor was silent. She read the notes
and frowned. "Is that a club drug?"
"Not exactly," Andrew said. "We realized it was that when we heard
some tweens in front of us talking about a FOD story they read."
"FOD? Fuck or die?" she asked. They blushed but nodded. "Andrew, was Warren working on this?"
"He asked for our help and we weren't sure why. He said a
pheromone thing for his girlfriends. We went through all his old
notes to see if there was anything we wanted to finish. We thought
that's what it was and it might help with, like, animal breeding or
maybe those people who can't get it up?"
"Clearly it will. Is this all you have?" They nodded.
"Okay. Let's get a small containment box and put that bottle and
the notes in it." They did that. "Let me take this to
"He's busy," JARVIS said quickly.
"Who's here in chemistry?" she asked.
"None outside Doctor McKay and I'd assume he had baseline experience."
"Rodney's going to be so disappointed," Andrew sighed, looking down.
"Not with you two but he might fly up and smack Warren again."
They grinned shyly. "Let me go talk to him." She took it
with her. "JARVIS, are there any other projects in the system that
was bordering on this?"
"No, not at the moment. Even the ones that peek into other's work to get inspiration haven't been bothering them."
"Thank you." She found his lab and walked in. "Rodney?"
He looked over. "Make some more coffee?"
"Later." She put the book down. "The boys were looking over
Warren's notes, looking for stuff they had worked on together." He
groaned. "They... you've seen fuck or die stories online, right?"
"Unfortunately I confiscated one from someone the other day that had me
doing Elizabeth Weir and our nagging doctors. They did?"
"Warren had them helping so they could do something for his
girlfriends. They realized it when some tween was talking about a
story she read after the movie." She handed over the box and
leaned on the table. "That's what they made. They were
thinking maybe warping it to animal breeding or ED drugs."
"Well, yes, it would definitely cure impotence," he said dryly.
"And cause heart attacks." He kept reading, rubbing his
forehead. She did nicely make him some coffee. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He sipped and read. She leaned on the table, hips
sticking out. "Andrew said you're going to be so disappointed in
"No I'm not. He has sense. He stopped it before it got too
far. Quit leaning like that before I get mental images of you
leaning in a car window to ask if I want a blow job." She laughed
and stood up. "You really are a horrendous tease."
"It's my superpower beyond organization and coffee making," she quipped.
He snorted. "You have others to lean on."
"But I like that one." He swatted her with the papers, finishing
the reading. He took one of the pills to run tests on. "Is
"They coded the machine wrong." He put in his own notes and sealed the box. "To Stark."
"He's *busy*. Or else I would've already been there."
"Put it in his safe."
"Yup." She went to Tony's lab and put the box in there once JARVIS
had popped it open for her. She wasn't going to pick it.
Then she got to go home.
Rodney walked down to the boys with a copy of the test results.
"I'm proud you realized your mistake and corrected it." Andrew
sighed in pleasure and relaxed. "Though someone needs to teach you
how to code the forming machine." He settled in to go over what
they had done, what they had found. He hadn't seen these
notes. They had only found them while packing up Warren's room for
him. They took him up to their suite to look for any other hidden
Warren's work journal was found and it was fairly scary, especially
since he was going to take the real-life versions of his girlfriends and
Dawn to see how they compared. That's what the formula had been
for. Rodney confiscated everything and let the boys copy only what
they had helped with. He went over what each one was probably for
and they decided to mark it out or not. They might need the idea
processes some day so they could keep them. When they were done he
checked on Stark, who was not to be disturbed. He sighed and
decided being a military scientist was easier sometimes. He left a
message to be called ASAP.
Tony looked up from feeding Pepper some steak. "What,
JARVIS? I heard the beep and I know you only let the important
ones leave messages." He ate a bite and fed her another one with a
"Doctor McKay was alerted that the two boys you mentor found some more
of Warren's work. Dawn talked to them about something, at their
request, and she took it to Dr. McKay. I helped her put it in your
"Is that bad?" Pepper asked. He flashed the chemical analysis
McKay had been running. She looked at Tony to interpret it.
Tony was staring. "Yes, that's very bad. That's so far past
rophy's it's not even illegal yet. Is the only batch in my safe?"
"Thank god," Pepper sighed. "How could they?"
"They stated they did not know. Warren wanted their help for
something to help his girlfriends. I believe that Dr. McKay found a
work journal that abused that notion."
"Why?" Tony asked.
"He was muttering about how at least he hadn't managed to capture those three and rape them, sir."
"Three?" Pepper asked. "JARVIS, call him or send him up."
Tony nodded, finishing their dinner. Rodney knocked and was let
in. "Three?" she asked.
He handed over the journal. "He was thinking about trying to
compare his former girlfriend before they were made. He wanted to
compare afterward and with Dawn."
Tony glared. "How many others?"
"I confiscated everything. We tore his former room apart.
The boys have copies of what they worked on and nothing else. They
marked out most of it for non-consideration as they put it."
"That way they can look back," he agreed. She gave him a funny
look. "It was one on a rocket powered skateboard that gave me the
repulsor weapons, Pepper. Sometimes you need the old plans, even
if they're stupid or criminal."
"I get that." She went back to reading. "Crap." Tony
took it to read, grimacing. "Can I go up there and beat him?"
"Please do. Saves me a trip." Rodney looked at him.
"Andrew said he realized it when someone made a comment about a story
like your daughter found. Before he thought it was for something
like animal breeding."
"Breeding like an animal maybe," he said. "This isn't what the pill was."
"They miscoded the forming system. I've since taught them how to input values in the milligram and microgram settings."
"Thank you." He kept reading, growling near the end. Pepper
looked and went pale. "He is never coming out of that bed."
"That's probably a great idea," Pepper said. "Even if I'm in a
wheelchair I'm popping up and killing him." She sighed.
"Hold on, that stuff on Dawn's hair."
Tony went back and reread, nodding. "It was." Rodney
groaned. "And that was done by the Russians." Rodney stared
at him. So did Pepper. "COULSON!" He appeared with one
of the twins eating her dinner bottle. "Here, read this."
He took it with his free hand, letting Melissa hold the bottle. Pepper took the baby. "I'm assuming Warren?"
"Yes." Tony called up a report. "From Dawn's and hers hair."
He compared them. "How did the Russians get that?"
"I don't know," Tony said. "Where do you want me to start looking?"
"I know someone who'd like to know more." He smiled and took his
daughter back. "Meeting, your office, tomorrow, I'll let her
know." He disappeared.
"Dawn's not going to save us any. She can do it long distance."
"Yes she can," Tony said dryly. "He taught her that too." He
grinned. Rodney groaned. "Thank you, Rodney. We'll
see you in the morning at that meeting?"
"Definitely. O'Neill gave me the rest of the month off." He smirked and left them to their entertainment.
Tony kissed her again. "If he had tried, I would have separated
his molecules." She leaned against his chest to kiss him back. It
was good and Callia was happily in bed. They were heading there.
Natasha looked up as the text message beep hit her phone. "What now?" she asked.
Dawn leaned over to look. "Meeting, 9am, Tony's office." She
relaxed against her again. "I wonder what happened this time."
"Who knows. Maybe another robot me."
Dawn looked at her. "I've been in smutty mind hell all day and you had to give me the idea of you as twins?"
She smirked. "Clint's birthday is coming up."
"Hmm. I wonder if he'd like twins. Switch them later?"
"We could do that," she agreed, taking a kiss. Clint was in the shower.
"I heard that," he called. They ladies laughed a bit evilly.
They heard him groan and mentally heard him encouraging himself to
Phil appeared at Xander's once the kids were in bed, looking at
him. "I got ordered to do an inventory of what you have stored
that way." Xander shrugged and pointed, still reading. Phil
leaned over to see. "Is that nice?"
"No." He grinned. "Dad might like it though."
"Since Roque's mother got him, might that be overkill?"
Xander beamed. "I didn't even think of that." He got up to show him. "That whole row is diamond books."
"I can see that. Any idea what's in them?"
"Not really. I made a few notes once but that's been ages ago." He found that and handed it over. "Sorry."
"It's all right. At the very least we can sort the others into demonic or not."
"I keep having visions of Barton with the ghostbusters guns."
"Vision or *vision*?" he asked.
"I'm hoping it's a bad thought instead."
"Me too. It's not really his weapon of choice." He
considered it. "If we have to defeat a giant marshmallow tearing
up a city, we might need one."
"Jonathan can do that. He made the control band off GI Joe too."
"I've used that in interrogation. It's considered creepily
efficient by the staff. No one can figure out how to block it or
beat it yet. There's CIA officials who got it leaked to them that
are ready to steal those two."
"No, sad is that there's so many other people that could have gotten
them, like Obadiah Stane, who used to be Tony's partner at Stark, or
Justin Hammer that could've taken them in to pretend to mentor them and
kept them hostage for years before anyone realized."
"Andrew may not always seem like it but he is a survivor. He
survived his brother using black magic to torture him. He survived
Sunnydale and the graduation battle because he was there." Phil
smiled. "He would've gotten them free somehow. He was also
the first to start pulling away from the evil overlord idea. He
realized it wasn't going to get him a dream girl like Dawn or a
heroine. They don't get the smart scientists, they get the evil
bitches who use them. Just look at what they did with our
craptastic school system and tiny things they could order on a tiny
"I think that's why Stark likes them. They were innovating and
cannibalizing, not just doing linear research. Even if a lot did
come from comics. He thinks the trio, or now the duo, could
probably connive their way into a trash dump on some alternate reality
and make it back."
"I also think Stark's a bit worried since he thinks Jonathan's getting fixated on Callia."
"Jonathan and Andrew are both younger than Buffy. Andrew's stuck
on McKay. Of the 'I'll do anything as long as you let me help you
and learn from you'. I'm pretty sure he'd even sink to S&M to
get that close to him. It might take years to get that
broken." Phil nodded. "But yeah, Jonathan's considering
Callia his idea woman when she grows up. He'd never touch her
before she's eighteen but I'm not sure that even if he does marry he
wouldn't show up the day after her birthday and propose."
"Stark would throw fits for ages. There's twenty-two years between them."
"Twenty-and-a-half." He looked at him. "You don't feel them as yours?"
"I don't. Do you?"
"Yeah, I do." He smiled. He let Phil feel it.
"Huh. I'll have to look at them tomorrow during the meeting." He looked at the shelf. "Help me do this?"
"Fine. I was going to make myself a float."
"Bring it back in here unless you have rules about food or drink in here?"
"It's my house." He went to do that while Phil pulled the books he
knew about. He came back. "They're not timeline or
anything. I shoved them onto the shelf."
"That's good to know." Those got stacked with the list and they
went over the others. Xander made two boxes, one marked 'demonic'
and the other marked 'other'. It was a start. The 'demonic'
box spilled into a second one. The 'other' box he recognized a
few. They got a note tapped to them.
Fury looked at the boxes the next morning at seven. "He had a lot."
"He's looking in his storage area to make sure that's all of them.
The demonic he can't tell who they were until he gets into them.
Which would probably release them. The other he marked what he
"Looks you're going to be busy," he said dryly.
"I have a meeting at nine with Stark and a few others."
"Something in Warren's research."
He grimaced. "That bad?"
"Yes, sir." He handed him the list he had made. "That's all we know of so far."
"That's all very bad. He couldn't end it?"
"He got it to the most stopped point he could then stored it when it got beyond his skills."
"Do others have these?"
"Not that I'm aware of. John said he didn't. Roque said he
just killed them. The few he couldn't he handed to Xander."
"All right. Any way to tell which demonic entity it is?"
"No clue. I'll ask Dawn."
"Fine. Get me the library staff." Coulson called them, they were waiting. "Alexander were storing these."
They looked then at Coulson. "Best you could do?"
"Best he could do. He said he can't tell which demon unless he accesses it somehow. Which may release them."
"Why romance novels?" one asked.
"Would you want to live eternity in a romance novel?" Clint asked from the doorway. "Coulson, meeting?"
"Nine." He checked his watch. "We have time for the morning
training meeting." He nodded and walked off. "Sir?"
"Go." He looked at the library staff. "I want to know what
they are, how dangerous, and find a way they cannot get out. We
know from Rosenburg's history that she accidentally scanned a demon onto
the internet once."
"Yes, sir," they agreed, carrying the boxes down there. They'd find a way or ask one of the two good watchers they knew.
Fury rubbed his head. "Maybe Alexander is a sign of the end of the world," he muttered.
"Not. Funny," Xander's voice called. "I can quit helping
your building full of idiots and make you do it like an insurance
Phil walked back in and looked up. "I doubt we can sail this
building like that one, Xander. Please get some sleep before you
get more cranky? I'll even bring Hellion with me so he quits
waking you up." The dog appeared next to him with a bark.
"Have a good nap."
"You too. I don't see when you sleep with how often you're running around."
"The kids keep me up more than the agents. Come on, Hellion.
We'll let you train with the agents." The dog barked and trotted
Maria Hill stared. "That's his war dog."
"He's keeping him up."
"Ah." She nodded. "Melissa likes to do it to me too."
He smiled. "That won't work. That still leaves one apartment with
only two bedrooms."
He grimaced. "I didn't consider that. I'd love to have the
penthouse, which has five bedrooms." She smiled. "I'm not sure
what he needed it for either. I'll see." She nodded.
He walked the dog down to the training meeting. A few of the
trainee agents flinched. "This is Alexander's war dog from
Ares. Hellion was a gift when he ascended." He sat
down. "Sit, Hellion. We'll play with the agents in a
few." The dog laid down next to him, staring at Clint, who reached
down to pet him. Hellion seemed happier and put his head down.
Rodney looked at the meeting's people. "Do we need all these
people and why do you have the dog? I saw quite a lot of the dog
on Atlantis whenever he had passed out yet again at his brother's feet."
"Xander's napping and later on we're going to work on the agents who are
pitiful." He smiled, looking at the ladies. He made Stark
move out from behind the desk so he wasn't behind him. "Last
night, Dawn found out that the boys found new things from Warren's
work." They nodded and Pepper was looking pissed off. "I had
him sedated. He's not allowed to wake up for a few days until we
know where the leak was."
"Leak?" Natasha asked. Dawn pulled up reports for her. "That looks out of balance for anything I've seen used."
"It is," Rodney agreed. "They made it too strong by
miscoding. Originally he told them it was for his robotic
wenches." Natasha winced. "He lied." He put up the
scans of the journal pages. Natasha growled. Dawn squeezed
her hand. "Also," he said, flipping the page. "Notice that
the original formula looks fairly familiar?"
"That's what they pulled off my hair," Dawn said.
"How did they get that?" Natasha asked.
"No clue," Coulson said. "Which is why we're telling you." Natasha smirked. "Find out and let us all know?"
"Gladly." She looked at Dawn, who let her go after a squeeze. "I can start here."
"Good. Especially since those guys that Xander stomped on are
back. I spotted one when I was getting coffee and took the back
way up here."
"They shouldn't want to follow you."
"'Tasha, if they're going to pick one of us to pick up, do you think
it's going to be you, who they know how you're trained, or me, who they
think might be trained?"
"You," she admitted. She calmed herself. "We'll work on that."
Dawn grinned. "I'll help where I can."
"You can use our servers to hack," Tony assured her. "If we have a leak I need to know."
Xander appeared, looking at the two silent boys. "If I ask will you make me a proton expeller?"
"Old school or laser cannon style?" Andrew asked.
"Why?" Jonathan asked. "Did you find Gozer?"
"That's Aphrodite with a hangover. We have fucking flying
squirrels the rookies can't figure out how to shoot." They
giggled. "Lighter, more mobile?"
"It's in storage," Jonathan said. Tony looked at them. So did Rodney. "I got bored at summer camp."
"I'm so glad Stark got you instead of someone like Stane," Coulson said
with a half smile. They beamed at that compliment. "We might
like to look at those plans too." They grinned. "Also," he
said, looking at Natasha. "I know we're hiding that thought
issue. I want to see if that is the way to beat their band.
We know people who can divert their minds into odd streams," he said
with a point at Stark, "have a better chance of beating it for a while."
"I was put into it," Natasha said.
"You kept it closed. I want to see if that's it."
She nodded. "We can test it here so they don't find out?"
"Definitely." He tossed it over from his pocket. "I want EEG and EKG readings."
"I can do that," Tony agreed. "Because, yeah, realized." He
looked at the two younger geeks. "Have I seen these plans?"
"I think so," Andrew said.
Tony called up their files, looking at them. "Is that...."
"That's as much as we put down," Jonathan admitted. "Sorry, Mr. Stark."
"It's still Tony unless I'm chewing on you," he pointed out.
"Which I'm not." He looked at them. "I want to see it in
action too, though I think it's more likely Athena with a hangover than
Xander grinned. "You'd be shocked. She turns into the uber
bitch of the universe when she's been drinking. There's been
*years* when no one got any, no one felt any love, nothing. Cupid
finally had to get her drunk again and sink her into the void for a bit
after she removed the curse because the birthrate had died for three
"Ow," Pepper said. "What was she drinking?"
"New wine," Xander said dryly. "She's a casual sipper except at orgies. Then Hephie cures her headaches."
"That usually makes me more dizzy," Dawn said quietly. Natasha looked at her. "It has."
"It does," she agreed. Jonathan let out a tiny whimper. She looked over. "I am possessive."
"I remember when you were a kitty and you used to curl up in my lap to claw me," Dawn quipped.
Natasha swatted her but looked fondly pleased. "That was because of the sweater."
"But you looked adorable."
"Focus, please," Rodney complained. "I don't want to know why she was a cat."
"Willow," Dawn said.
Rodney was rubbing his head.
"Doctor McKay, would you like walked back to your room so you can lay down?" Andrew asked.
Rodney looked at him. "I'm a miserable bastard to date,
Wells. I'm demanding, just as mean, and slightly evil. I
have funny hours, strange moods, and creepy stalking things around my
office." Andrew smiled. "I also have a few coworkers that
would love to stab you for thinking about it because they said I quit
working on things when I've been laid properly."
"You'd have to teach me to do that," he said with a blush.
"Oh, dear god, you're a virgin," he said. He sighed.
"There's an allure to purity but it is not one I have the energy to
chase. To properly teach you, I'd take at least a full week, which
neither us can go without being in the lab." He stared at
him. "Also, you are a good fifteen years my junior."
"So? That only matters when it's girls dating teenage boys," Dawn
quipped. Tony glared at her. "They don't call guys cutesy
animal names for it."
"No, we call them leches," Pepper said. "We make jokes about
viagra and nursemaids not girlfriends or even money grubbing hos."
Dawn laughed. "I got that slung at me by the wife of the dog guy that still thinks I'm going to take in Stark."
"You're much too wild for me," Stark said. "Banner?"
He had seen him getting off the elevator. "Quick thing.
Scanning a chaos artifact Dawn is hiding we found slight gamma
radiation. Like that wobble on the satellites out west that was
driving people nuts."
"That's good to know. Dawn, can you help me test that?"
"I don't do much chaos magic but I can find you one to talk to, Doc." She smiled at him. "Mom ready for lunch?"
"She is. Buffy woke us up. She got in late last night and
Hylal was happy this morning. It was so loud I nearly Hulked up at the
"I have a few stored things of Dad's so you can test them," Xander offered.
"Thank you, that would be helpful, Xander."
Xander grinned. "You know, if you hurt Joyce not even your other side is going to survive, right?"
"I do. Dawn's already promised."
He grinned. "Good. Then I'm happy if you are and we expect invitations for the elopement."
"Elopement?" he asked.
"Do you really want to stress about a wedding instead of calling up
somewhere in Vegas or the Poconos and having it done that day?" he
"That's a really good point. I've never been to the Poconos that I
remember." He walked off. "I'll be in my lab."
"I'll dig 'em out. Be a few hours."
"What are the Poconos?" Dawn asked.
"They were *the* honeymoon destination on the east coast," Pepper said.
"They have neat things like motel rooms with jacuzzis shaped like
champagne glasses and heart shaped beds," Tony said. "It's cheesy,
slutty, and romantic in a paper hearts sort of way. I went for a
conference and laughed myself sick at the room."
She nodded. "Okay," she said. She looked at Natasha. "Will I have a date for my mother's wedding?"
"You might," she admitted. "I try not to go to them. They
make me sniffly." Dawn grinned. The two geeks sighed in
pleasure. She looked over. "She's still mine."
"It's so sweet," Andrew said with a grin. "Especially the really hot trio thing."
"And the whole mental connection too," Jonathan said with his own grin.
"It's very steadying when I get flashes and urges to go take out
people," Dawn quipped. "Like certain ministers that made fun of
being sued. They're really going to hate it since the judge isn't
throwing it out."
"No using your powers," Coulson said quietly.
"Don't need to. We've proven that they're breaking laws that were
on the books with the freedom of speech clause. Including making
"Good." He straightened up. "Boys?" They took Xander to their storage area.
Dawn looked at him. "If you hurt him I'm going to rend you into agent fat candles. Big brother or not."
"If it moves that way I would never hurt him, Dawn," he assured her,
staring her down. She smiled. "But the threat is
noted." He kissed her on the head. "Go back to work."
"Yes, sir." She looked at Pepper, who nodded. She left.
Natasha got comfortable. "This is not what I was expecting from hearing Warren's things were uncovered."
"Us either but it's strangely appropriate that he was going to test his real one against you."
"Then perhaps some of our plans will change," Natasha said. Pepper
looked at her oddly. "Clint's birthday is coming up."
"I'll make sure Callia can't call this time," Stark said. "Because I do not need to see that bikini ever again."
"He tried to get rid of it but she saved it." She smirked.
"Let me use the spare office to find the information we all want."
She got up and walked out. Maybe they would both be Dawn for
Dawn looked at her. "If so, we need to get something special," she said quietly.
Natasha laughed. "I think that can be arranged."
Dawn went to do a lab check. She also had to check with the doctor
about that strange fungus that had touched her. She hoped it was
Tony looked at Pepper. "If they do something slightly official I
say we send them to Miami with as many bikinis as Dawn can pick out."
"I say they're going to Fiji with me this year. I need guards."
Coulson looked at her, smirking slightly. "If you were going
somewhere more dangerous perhaps but there's no chance of an operation
in Fiji. Sorry. Dawn would have to leave them here."
"Our next vacation is a week before the stupid expo everyone keeps
forgetting," Dawn called over JARVIS. "Boss, can I see you in lab
12 please? Like right now before this huge fungus monster that's
been trying to mate with me manages it?" He hopped up and ran for
the doorway with Rodney and Phil behind him.
Pepper winced. "She said she had a spot of something. I
guess that was like a promise ring." Only Dawn, really. She
did look up the expo's timing, wincing since it was under six months
Dawn walked in that night walking funny and wincing. Clint stared at her. "I felt them scrape that."
"The thing thinks I'm the perfect wife. It doesn't know you won't
let me cook." He kissed her. She relaxed next to him.
"Natasha is busy."
"I know." He stroked over her hair. "How was lunch with your mom?" She winced. "Didn't make it?"
"I called and told her why. She was wincing in sympathy and wanted
to beat the crap out of the guy's wife. That was her project so
she could dump her husband, who didn't really make anything useful, and
go for Stark herself. She was going to have him sucked in by it
and slowly dissolved. I was her test subject because she thought I
was in her way. They used the control band to make her admit to
it." She curled up against his side. "I need to soak in
"We have some." She smiled. "Want help soaking?"
"Can we bring in a tv tray and eat in there?" She looked up. "Please?"
"I'll spoil you rotten but I heard some very odd ideas for my birthday?"
She grinned. "You'll remember it more fondly than your last one."
He kissed her. "Not possible." She wrapped her arms around
his stomach. "The amount of trust and the way you just gave in to
us was so sweet, so good." She stroked his stomach. He
realized he was hard and she was teasing him. "You made me hard,
Dawn, just thinking about it."
"I like you hard or squishy." He laughed. She did lean down
to tease him through his jeans. He growled. She snickered as
she used her teeth to lower the zipper then get him better. He
shifted to give her better access. She used it. He was
slowly thrusting up and she was making him very happy. He started
to thrust faster, one hand drifting up to tangle in her hair. She
moaned and he smiled, giving her a nudge. She went down further
and he appreciated that. He didn't have to work as hard. She
laid down over his thigh to get the best angle, making him shift again
for her. That was better and she was still so great. He came
and she swallowed. "Better?" she asked.
He smiled. "Much better. But I think you could use some attention."
"I'm still sore."
"Only in that one spot." He pulled her across his lap, shifting
her skirt out of the way so he could look the skin scrapping spot
over. It was off to the side. He touched something.
"Scab from waxing and I got ordered to stop that. That I had a few scars from infected hair follicles."
"Hmm, I've seen but ingrown hairs happen." He let his thumb drift
over the top of the see-through bandage then move inward. Dawn's
breath caught and she shifted her legs apart. "That's good."
He let his other fingers play, teasing her. "I miss doing this
more often." She was relaxed, eyes closed, head on the arm of the
couch, spread out for him. He smiled. "Hedonist. Don't
"I'm not. I'm trying to hold back so I don't pounce."
"No, no pouncing tonight. Tonight it's just this." He
brushed over her again and she shifted. He smiled and got on with
the teasing. By the time he was getting impatient, she was sweaty
and panting. He dipped two fingers inside her and used his thumb
on her clit, making her arch up and nearly moan in two octaves as her
voice went up. He smiled and played with the electric little
nub. She came and went limp. He smiled and licked his
fingers. "Exam today?" he asked, grimacing.
"Sorry, she had to check. I thought I cleaned it up."
"You did. Just some leftover taste." He lifted her up.
"Tub. I'll get dinner. Two cups of salt for the size of
your tub." She nodded, going to run it. "Warm, not cool."
He did up his pants, wincing a bit, and washed his hands, making a
simple dinner for them to relax with. He even rolled in the tv
from the bedroom and hooked up the DVD player. She was happy and
he settled in with her, hissing at the heat. "Very hot."
"It's nice though." She snuggled against his chest. She was
teasing him and feeding him a few bites of dinner. He fed her
some. They let the movie play and kind of watched it. They
had seen it before, multiple times. She made sure his insistent
hardness was taken care of. He stroked her long enough to make her
more sore. But she adored it. That's what they needed.
In Stark Tower, Natasha looked up. "I'm trying to concentrate,"
she complained quietly. "I'm spanking you both later." She
heard the laugh to that threat and got back to her searching. She
crossed her legs to ignore how much she wanted to be there. She
could get them later. She flinched at the beam of light.
"JARVIS, I was busy."
"You can go back to it. Mr. Stark's orders." He hung up.
She walked into the bedroom, taking down her hair before walking into
the bathroom. They smiled at her. She changed the movie and
stripped off slowly, letting them enjoy it. Dawn was stroking
Clint again. He was shifting to make her do it harder. She
finally got naked and stepped into the tub, curling up on his lap.
"Room for me?"
"Definitely, always room for you," Dawn said, taking a kiss. Clint
stole one from each of them. They teased her until she was in the same
happy mood they were in. It was nice, even if Clint wouldn't be
able to feel his feet later on.
Xander was stretched out on his sofa drinking some diet soda, a bad
holdover from Sunnydale, when his father showed up. He
smiled. "You need to brush that rats nest, Mom. They'll
realize you're not a real woman if you don't."
His father sneered at him. "You will remove this object so I can destroy it or I will make you wish for death."
Xander stated at him. "Even if I did, you'd suffer so much worse,
and hey, it's slightly a blessing with Roque's mom's thing.
Lavelle did say that morning sickness was easier as a woman."
"Whoever that is...."
"Me in that realm, Dad."
"Whatever. It did not work, son."
Xander stared at him. "You sure?"
"I made sure." He stared at him. "Do remove it now."
"Why should I? I consider it weak payback for all the hell you've
caused me through the years." He finished his soda and put the
"I protected those you care for while you were gone."
"And then promptly tried to screw me again," he said dryly.
"That was not my doing."
"Did you protest? Because if not, that makes you just as guilty."
Loki stared at his son. "You can find a way around it, I'm certain my son can," he said dryly.
"I shouldn't have to." He stared at him, letting all the hatred
out now. His father shuddered. "If it had been natural, it
might've been great," he said quietly. "Now.... It won't be
anything." His father took a calming breath. "It's sad when
your family is what makes you the most mad."
"I could help you channel that," he quipped.
"I think I can channel it just fine," he said dryly. "Or you wouldn't have PMS."
"I don't think I work that well."
"Yes you do. I was *very* thorough. You always did say the details made the plans, Dad."
His father nodded once. "Do it another way. It's making others freak out."
"Why would I care?"
"They're going after witches like Dawn."
"They'd go after Dawn anyway. It's an excuse." He snapped
his fingers and the slim necklace appeared, letting him hold it
up. His father snatched it. "You're still getting it."
"Others are going to protest next banquet," he said. "Including Hera."
"That's great, but I don't give a damn anymore. I'm not going to be there."
"That's a great snub, son, and not politically good for a strong position."
Xander shrugged. "I don't play politics. It gives me
migraines." His father stared at him. "For that matter, I
don't care if those two pantheons destroy each other at the
moment. Any and all alliances I had before are gone thanks to no
one sticking up for me." He crossed his feet. "Apparently
they didn't mean much to them if they couldn't even make a token
"Neither did your uncle or aunt."
"Both glued to their chairs. They admitted it to me later that night."
Loki sighed. "I can help you get out of it," he said.
"I'm not owing you a favor, Dad. At all. I know damn well
I'm just as likely to be wrapped up in one of your lunges for power as
anyone else is. Family has never meant a *thing* to you outside
making sure that none of us would work against you."
"I still protected that which you protect," he said.
"Yeah, and then used it to get higher political points."
"I did," he admitted. "That's the God I am."
"Which I have no illusions about."
Loki stared at his son. "Is he that distasteful to you?"
"No. We might've been moving to a place where we could've dated. It won't happen now."
"No, I can't. Anyone I'm with is going to be there because they
want to be, not because of you, of Hera, of Grandfather, of a love god,
nothing else." Loki sighed. "I learned long ago that the
fickleness of power means that no one's going to last unless it's of
their own free will."
"That's a point to consider. He has calmed you down."
"I'm one of the people he protects," he said bluntly. "He's still trying to get me to calm down and not kill your ass."
"Not like the leak closed," he said dryly. Loki shuddered.
"So, no. Thank you for helping Dawn for whatever it got you.
If I could have I would have taken it from her."
"You have enough plots and sights like that."
"Yes, and I lived through them. She shouldn't have to."
"No, she shouldn't." He stared at his son's gardens then at him. "Where is Bia?"
"Oh." He sat down across from him. "It could happen."
"If it does of his free will. Otherwise it won't."
His father grimaced. "He might be moving there."
"He has a lot of variables to consider. Including his children."
"Real men take care of the kids they spawn."
Loki grimaced. "It's not how we were raised."
"That's why I always made sure there were no kids unless I could be there."
Loki nodded. "Hera apparently appreciates that ideology."
"She's always liked me more than our family."
"I think she likes me more than most of mine as well." He looked at him. "We can get the arrangement released."
"Won't stop the love gods and it won't mean I'll put back any alignments
I had. For that matter, unless the next godly war impacts my
area, they're not getting my help. Then I'll destroy whatever
comes near my area."
"You could destroy a lot of gods, son."
"Yes, I can." His father gave him a pointed look. "Not for
your benefit or mine, and if I take out my paternal lineage like so many
want me to still do, I'll make sure I spare Uncle since he's found a
purpose and a happiness to his life."
Loki raised one eyebrow. "Just collapse the hall on him again."
"I didn't hear that."
"John got tired of it and went up to ring that gong that vibrates so
badly. Grandfather's still screaming that he's going to kill me
for that, even when John told him it was him for being such an
asshole." He made new diet soda and drank it.
"You need to eat real, not created food," Loki reminded him. "It
doesn't have any nutrients in it. All it does is give you the
illusion of eating."
"No, you're clearly not fine and your temper is still at a level that
would scare most people who knew you," Loki said bluntly. "Wear it
out before someone finds a way to wear it out."
Xander looked at him. "What's one more person I get to destroy?"
Loki swallowed. "I see." He sighed. "You act like an Elder already."
"I do head my house and I've been like this for years. Some people saw it."
"Yes, mostly other chaos gods," he said bluntly.
"Well, they tend to look and measure more than just overlook."
"We do, yes. What did Janus do back in Sunnydale?"
"He reawakened some of the memories that the hellmouth taint suppressed
by having one of his high priests show up with a blessed costume
shop. They had us possessed by our costumes."
"Dear Goddess," Loki muttered. "I would've loved that."
"It was handy." He finished that soda and put the glass back down.
"I can have someone make you a real sandwich."
"Not really hungry. That's why I'm having diet soda for dinner."
"Buffy, Willow, surrounded by girls," Xander countered.
"Good point. Even I felt that nastiness happen earlier." He
leaned back. "You still have to drain some of that temper, son."
"No, not really."
"No, right now it's doing me good. I've gotten in more training
time recently than not. I'm nearly back to where I was before I
hit that recycling curse."
Loki stared at him. "You were happier then and weighed more than an anorexic teen girl."
Xander snorted. "No I didn't. I was nearly at death's door
when you hooked me to Roque. Even he said I looked sickly."
Loki looked back then at him. "I didn't notice it."
"Then you're about the only one."
"That could be because you've always shielded yourself from me and others."
Xander quirked up an eye. "Not really."
"You have illusion shields over yourself, son. You have since you were three and that wolf tried to hurt you."
"It tried to eat me," Xander corrected. "It wasn't going to play
roughly with me." Loki huffed. "It's a damn good thing I
could talk it out of it." Loki slumped, staring at him.
"Just.... this isn't the family reunion you wanted so let's not."
"Even you have to answer to a higher authority."
"Yeah, the one they wanted me to marry."
Loki frowned. "He is?" Xander nodded. "I suppose that
makes sense. You have protected humanity quite well." They
looked out at the bellow that shook the hill. Thor's goats started
to scream in rage. "He didn't attack his favorite son's goats,
did he?" He wouldn't put it past his father, but that was really
low, even for Odin in a snit.
"No, they want out to kill him." He pulled Odin inside. "Did
you have a problem? You just woke up the warriors that're here
"You were warned not to touch that gong again," he growled, pulling up power.
"That was John, not me. I've been here all night." Odin
still hit him with power, which hurt. Xander let it hurt for a
second then sucked it in. He looked at his grandfather.
"Let's unblind your eye," he sneered, standing up. He cast the
curse and Odin screamed in pain, falling to his knees. Xander
stared down at him. "That is the last time you'll blame me for
something I didn't do," he said calmly. "I don't give a damn why
you hate me or my father. You do not attack me for no
reason. Not without me reacting." He took hold of Odin's
hair. "I'll be back." He sent them back to Valhalla, sending
him into the snow at his wife's feet. "You lost track of your
whiny thing." He walked off.
"Alexander, you must undo that," Frigg yelled.
He turned to look at her. He created a mirror big enough to show
everyone what happened. "Since when am I that one?" he asked with a
point. "Perhaps all of you should see better."
"Don't you dare," Tyr warned. "Some of us did not blame you."
"Did you tell her it wasn't me?"
"Then you're still at fault." He snapped and power washed over the
group. "You are no family of mine. Any of you. The
bonds are severed and all that I helped protect are given to their next
guardian. All the spells that I helped with are done. All
the protections I helped raise are gone," he cast. "All that I
brought to life here are no more." He flashed out. Around
them, Valhalla started to crumble even further. Every few
centuries all the offspring had to help shore up the protections.
Without that one, they were weakening. All the gods were weakening
because their base of belief was gone. Their children were what
held their powers steady. Well, and Loki had chaos.
Alana looked then at her family. "I'd do the same if it wouldn't
destroy all that I hold dear." She walked off. "Ladies,
let's get the nags and go find a good resting meadow to camp in."
They nodded and followed. "Warriors, your hall is still sound for
now. If not, find one of your own." They nodded and went
back inside. A few of the elder women that served were
crying. Alana looked at one. "It's their own fault.
They plotted and planned their way into it. Anyone with sense
could've seen that, especially after simply hearing of the last time
anything was plotted against my nephew."
"They can't rebuild it."
"They can and will. They're too vain to camp in the snow for
long," she snorted. She got her own mare and they rode off to the
Summer lands to camp.
Tyr sighed and looked at the wreckage. He looked at Odin, who was
still holding his head. He summoned Apollo. "Alexander got
mad and fought back."
"Good! Especially since Odin just tried to kill him."
Everyone stared at him. "We felt the power hit him and Xander suck
it in and use it." They slumped. He walked over to look at
him. "He cursed you to true sight," he said after checking the
eye. "That way you can't lie to yourself any longer." He
walked off. "Have fun with the rebuilding. Let us know so we
can come for the reopening of your halls." He went to check on
Xander, who was not in a good mood. Xander faced him, power in his
hand. "Ease it, boy. I'm here to make sure you're all
"Why?" he asked bitterly.
"It's the calling of the job." He stared at him. "I need to make sure you don't need healing."
"I think it's beyond that," Loki said. He took the power build-up
his son had, moaning as he absorbed it. Apollo healed the burns it
was causing. "He really pulled up some power to try to hurt you."
Apollo checked the very angry young god. "Want me to ask Ares to find you a battle?"
"No. There's plenty if I want one."
"Okay." He backed off carefully. "Release it back,
Xander. You have to release it back into the core. Before it
explodes and you have to rebuild." Xander shuddered but channeled
it into his anchor stone. The shields flexed and glowed then went
silent and stronger. "Sure, that'll work too," he agreed, backing
"He's not going to kill you," Loki said dryly. "You're not family."
"I have no more family," Xander said simply. Loki stared at him. "You made your bed, Dad. Have fun with life."
"Fine," he said. "I'll quit trying to calm you down."
"I doubt you're helping," Apollo sneered.
"At least I usually have my son's best interests at heart. Unlike those who get with others to plot."
Xander stared at him. "For some reason I hear this alarm that
keeps chirping 'bullshit' over and over. You're as likely to use
me and my siblings in plans as you are anyone else. There's never
been a special level for us. I've made my way out of many of your
"They were never intended for you."
"No, it just happened to form around me," he said dryly. "Sure, I
believe that." His father glared. "You can't tell my Syria
wasn't your doing."
"It was meant for John because he was being a jackass to you."
"Yeah, well, didn't go that way. Nor did Rome." Apollo
started to open his mouth but Xander glared and he fled for his
life. He stared at him. "By the way, yes, still mad at
Loki stared at him. "I can understand that and it was a punishment that I was talked into. I did destroy them."
Loki sighed. "I'd apologize but you'd never take it."
"No, I won't. It's like IOU's with your name on them."
"I always pay my debts," he said firmly.
"In your own way."
"Well, yes." He stared at him. "Why are you mad at me? I wasn't even involved."
"You were there?" Loki nodded. "Did you say anything against
it? No. You actually tried to help it." Loki backed
up. The temper was coming back. "Therefore, I still have no
"Your brother and sisters would be disappointed."
"I may keep them. Depends."
"Fine." He disappeared, going to find somewhere to bleed off the
extra energy his son was bleeding into the air. There was no way
he could be around mortals like this. He had to go to his
elemental form to let it drain off. He came out to find Roque and
John staring at him. John with a knife he was sharpening.
"That was not my doing. I was trying to calm him down."
"Didn't work," John said. "Made it worse."
"His grandfather showed up," he sneered. "He made it worse."
"Odin's going to get his," Roque promised quietly, staring at him.
"We need to fix this," John said. "Before Xander finishes losing his temper."
"The only way he'll go forward with it, and let himself be calmed, is if his mate has true feelings for him."
"Coulson would probably do it just to get him calmed down," Roque admitted.
"Which would take him from his kids," John agreed.
"How did they manage to make that work?" Roque asked.
Loki smiled. "I handed Dawn that book that helps witches with
higher issues. It advised Tara it was a great time to have a
child. That was also the same night that the halls sent down
dinner for the group."
"So, mead?" Roque asked.
"Mead," John agreed. "Though he would've done it for her anyway. He put sperm up so she could use it later."
"Huh," Roque said, nodding slightly. "Good." He looked at
Loki. "Whatever your part in this trauma is done with."
"It is. I would not have my son destroy that which he
protects. It does my plans no good and my son's anger at himself
would never stop."
John nodded. "Could be." He put the knife back into his
holder, staring at the senior God. "They blamed him for me?"
"Yes. Odin tried to kill him because of that."
John winced. "Let me go talk to the hidebound asses." He disappeared.
Roque stared at him. "Leave your son be."
"Make my son eat. He's eating created food." He disappeared.
Roque went to back up John. Not that he probably needed it.
Frigg was yelling at him. "Maybe it was the only thing that got
through your thick skulls." They stared at him. "Each and
every time you have a plot that involves Alexander, your building
collapses. Did you not see the pattern with the first two?"
She shrieked and threw power at him. He caught it and tossed it to
John. "Xander's done worse recently. Frankly, we can't wear
him out anymore. He's too mad. You're going to be lucky if
you can rebuild, people. Last time it took Xander putting a lot of
energy into the web of the stones." He and John
disappeared. "Leave them. They'll either learn or get
John nodded. "I don't want them to go near Xander again."
"They won't." He and John shared a look then cast a curse on
them. The next time they tried to blame Xander for something
someone else did, the destruction was going to magnify. They heard
Xander cackling and winced. That was a universal red alert sound.
John thought back. "The Egyptians weren't at the banquet," he
realized. "They were having a holy day." Roque sighed in
pleasure. John went to talk to them. "Thot, I have need of a
desperate plea being heard," he said as he landed.
"Due to Valhalla falling in?" he asked dryly.
"No, I did that. Due to my brother starting down the path to madness in his anger."
Thot looked that way and shuddered. "We cannot make him weed it out."
"Perhaps but you were the only ones not at the banquet, so could not
stick up for him. He's cut all alliances due to that."
"I will talk to him."
"You might pull him here," John said more quietly. "That way he's
maybe made to calm down and eat? Loki said he's only eating
"The girls could like that." He summoned him, having to yank a
bit. "I was not at the banquet, it was our holy day," he said,
staring at him. John had faded out before Xander had
appeared. "I just heard there were problems." Xander
snorted, scowling at him. "Do not give me that look. I'll
lock you in a pyramid," he said dryly. He got up and walked down,
taking the boy to talk to him. He could tell the young god was in
bad shape from his anger. It was starting to eat at his physical
form again. They could fix that.
Isis appeared to the new young god. "Thankfully I'm not a love
goddess," she said with a smile. He nodded politely at her,
patting the baby on his shoulder on the back to make her belch.
She sat down and he finished her off, laying her down in her crib.
She had some more gas pains so she had been fussy. He came back
out to sit across from her. "We were not there."
"Thank you," he said quietly.
"I believe that it may have grown into it. It might not have been
before your twins were grown though." She tipped her head.
"If it was natural, would you have accepted it?"
"Yes, of course."
"So would he."
"I do worry that it may be my gifts prompting some of it. Examining a few things led me to that conclusion."
"Sometimes our powers will guide us to what we subconsciously
want." She tested him and showed him where that had
happened. "This is how you lock that down so no one can get into
them," she said, showing him. He did that and relaxed. "We
are quite fond of the boy. He helped us defend ourselves many
times. Including against Roque and his family once." Phil
nodded at that. "Most of us have ever hoped that he would find
someone worthy to focus all his energies on. Especially the bouncy
parts." She smiled. "I think he could find that in you."
"Which is ruined," he said quietly.
"Not so. He left that up to you. If you felt truly mated to
him, then he would accept it." Phil nodded he knew that. "Do
"I don't know. I was working on friendship."
"Friendship is a good thing." She considered it. "What was it you told Dawn when she had a tough choice to make?"
He winced. "I wouldn't do that to either of us."
"Good. That would be the easier path but it would lead to later
problems." He nodded. She sighed. "Things were easier
in the days when we had a full power base." She crossed her
legs. "What are your plans?"
"I work with SHIELD, I'm seeing if any of the demigods would like to
make a second team. I'm working on my training, helping Dawn when
she needs it. Raising my two children."
"All good, worthwhile things to be doing. What are your plans beyond that?"
"I haven't made any. Until my children are at least adults, I'll
be by their sides as they need me. All the things that my new
duties give me keep taking me from that more important duty."
She smiled. "That is well-put. Not many consider those things."
"Xander did. He pointed out I had two infant children when they changed me."
"Has he had children?"
"You should ask him."
"I tried. He walked off."
She sighed. "That ties back into that incident in Rome that no one will speak of."
He nodded. "I understand it was traumatic for him and I haven't pushed."
"Very. Especially since it was his father and grandmother that
decided he needed to be sent there because he was too strong
willed." Phil's eyes narrowed. "No, he never forgave
them. He spent nearly a decade without much powers. And then
a problem happened. A higher demon escaped and none of the gods
or demigods noticed." He shuddered. "He noticed. It
came right for him, feeling the power that he couldn't touch. It
meant he would've made a great sacrifice and could've had his
powers. Xander could not break out again.
"He struggled desperately and begged most everyone. No one at the
time wanted to get between them. We were in seclusion after our
pantheon slightly fell to make sure we wouldn't fade. Or else I
would have granted him full godhood then." Phil nodded. "We
all felt it when he finally broke free. The Roman gods woke up and
stared in horror as that demon took down his mortal family. And
then Xander nearly destroyed all of the world defeating him."
"Xander... Xander had a few things he could call on as
allies. He summoned one. It appearing shook every pantheon
free of their stasis and staring. It's what led us to check on
him. It allowed Xander to use his power and Xander destroyed the
demon. It's impossible to destroy one that high. One that
humans would have considered a Fallen. Xander did. He broke
him at the elemental level and there was a fire so great the gods had to
put it out before it consumed the Roman empire. They all thought
it a hallucination and all mentions were taken from humanity before it
could be noted. The ally he called on took his powers back and got
burned out. He can't manifest a new form. Xander apologized
but he said it was necessary to protect everyone. He forgave
him. Xander went to mourn and grieve. Even when they
"John got sent?"
"No. None of us who were not chaos gods could get anywhere near
there. We knew not to send his father, he would've been sacrificed
to bring the children back." Phil nodded he understood that urge,
swallowing and looking at his hands. "We asked Janus, who said he
could only see Xander appearing to smite everyone, no matter who was
sent. Roque snuck that way to talk to him." Phil looked at
her. "That's how he got that scar on his face. Xander was
nearly insane in grief and attacked him. Fortunately he realized
on some level it was Roque and didn't kill him.
"Roque knew fighting back would mean he'd reopen the power drain.
He got Xander out of the blood mourning and calmed down." She
wiped off one cheek. "We all watched him and when he came out,
John was waiting. They took Xander somewhere none of us could
watch for a few generations. We still think that they used the
excess power in Xander to create a subrealm. One that was full of
problems for Xander to wear himself out on. Because being peaceful
has never helped him calm down."
"I've seen that," he admitted quietly. "Does it still exist?"
"Yes, it does. John and Roque have been considering sending him in
there. They asked Thot to talk to him first. We were not
there, could not stick up for him. We will be during this next
"He.... we would both appreciate that," he agreed. "We feel the
same way about it. If it had been natural we wouldn't have
"I think it would have been natural." She smiled. "I did not
tell you to make you upset. I did so with the hope that you would
"I do understand as much as one who hasn't been through it can," he said quietly, staring at her. "What happened earlier?"
"John collapsed Valhalla on Odin's head for being a hidebound ass.
They tried to blame Xander. Odin tried to kill Xander.
Xander nearly killed him and everyone else in their pantheon by
withdrawing his support from them. He's one of two demis that have
gone on to have real powers."
"So Thor is the one they're leaning on?"
"Yes, and he has said he supports his nephew's anger. Though I believe he'd like him to calm down as well."
"I'd rather have Xander calm and plotting than angry and reacting," he admitted. "His anger scares me."
She nodded. "His anger scares all who are smart." She
smiled. "Which apparently you are." She reached over some
power, letting him take hold of it. She showed him how to do it
properly. "We refined his power usage. We'll do yours."
"It'll seem like it's being pushed if it's right now."
"No it won't. He's probably seen. He's very aware of anyone
around him thanks to his father." She smiled. "Are they down
for the night?"
"Yes, and their mother's here."
"I do adore Tara. If Gaia hadn't gotten her first I would've
snatched her up." She took him with her. "We must work
on smoothing some of the rough edges Xander and Ares left," she told
"Thank you for helping him, Isis," Xander said respectfully. He looked at Phil. "It was a long time ago."
"Something like that you don't lose," he said.
"They tried awfully hard. John actually tried lethe water."
Phil shuddered. "Yeah." He grimaced. "I know they're
not going to do that. They've never played games like that.
Go learn." He nodded, going with her. He leaned his head on
Thot's knee again. "I suck," he said quietly. "I'm scary
"You are but your anger is reasonable to us." He patted him on the head. "Sit up and eat."
"I'm not really hungry."
"So? Eat anyway. You're going to lose control of your form
and be nagged by those who have merged again." Xander sighed but
the handmaidens came in and fed them dinner, making him relax for a
bit. He was safe up here. They might agree it'd be a good
choice but they'd never force things. He'd never get more than
discussion on it. The handmaidens fussed like Dawn would over him
so it was nice enough. Even if he didn't want to eat. The
alternative was even worse. They'd never quit nagging him if he
went back to the spot he had been while he couldn't hold a physical
Phil met up with Xander the next morning for breakfast. "You look and feel better."
Xander grinned slightly. "They're good. There's plenty of
times I thought about petitioning to stay here." He ate a
currant. "But they have rules that even I consider uptight.
And no snow."
"That is one thing to consider," Phil teased. He was better
now. Stronger. He had a firmer grasp on his powers and he
could do things that he would have to teach Dawn. They had agreed,
she needed to learn how to do more tiny things with her powers.
They had taught him how to teach her. "Now what?"
"I don't know," Xander admitted. "Training's going on today even if I'm not there. You have work."
"Today's my day off but I was going to take the kids to the park."
"That's a nice trip." He looked. "Tara's looking
worried." He created a note and she sighed in relief, starting
Xander smiled. "Tara worries about a lot of things." He
nibbled on some berries. "Harvests were good this year."
"They're all very good. Some of these I've never had."
"Those, if I could plant them, I would. It takes a lot of heat
though." He stole one of those berries to eat. "Bit bitter
so picked a tiny bit early but they make great wine that way."
"It has an interesting taste. The wine would probably concentrate
that tartness?" Xander grinned and nodded. "Can you mix that
with young mead?"
Xander smiled. "We have. John and I got so plastered one
day. Had the hangover to prove it too." They finished
breakfast and Phil went to get his kids for their day off. Xander
relaxed, waiting on others to get up.
Sekhmet walked out to nibble one of the berries. "I did get it a
bit too early." He blushed. She smiled. "Still good."
"They are. Especially on granola." She laughed and patted him on the head. "I hope I'm not intruding."
"If you were, we would've sent you home, Xander. You know
that." She patted him again. "Must we send you to that
"I'm trying very hard not to send myself there."
"I know you are." She petted over his hair. "I saw the
convention of you. The one with the hair is very adorable."
"I doubt I could stand that in a battle."
"Me either." She smiled. "Still, perhaps you should learn his form."
"Yeah, I can see sparring with someone and breaking out in dance moves that way. John would beat me."
"Perhaps but others would like it."
"To pick on me."
"That may happen as well." She patted him again. "Finish up and come help me."
"Didn't you tell me no more magic?"
"You may need it and I have need in the armory as well." He
finished up and the last piece of toast with honey on the table,
following her to help her. She smiled, letting him nibble.
He needed food. He'd only eaten created food for weeks apparently.
"Did we ever see why my magic went screwy in Sunnydale?" he asked once
he was finished. "It kept rebounding into the wrong area and even I
couldn't figure it out."
She looked at him then looked back at his youth in this life. She growled. "Where is she?"
Xander looked. "The redhead? She had died during the battle,
her death sentence for destroying Sunnydale was carried out that
way. The Council of Elders brought her back for Hecate."
"That's Rosenburg?" she demanded with a point.
Xander pointed. "The redhead is. The blonde there is
Buffy. This blonde is Tara, she only showed up after high
school. And that's Dawn with her Mom." He grinned.
She looked and made a slight whimpering sound. "It was her, Xander, not you."
"Cool! I was hoping it wasn't me." He grinned. She
swatted him and banished the looking glass. They went back to her
herb garden for spells. She had need of a few. Then perhaps
she would fix the problem that had been brought back. Osiris had
to be out of his mind if he had allowed it near her chosen.
Hylal appeared in Xander's temple, thanks to that stupid witch, and
stared around. "No Alexander?" he asked John, who was on the couch
"He's in Egypt. What's wrong, Hylal? Huge demon you need help with? Can I come smite Willow for you?"
"I wish." He huffed. "We were told that Alexander brought down Valhalla."
"No, I brought down Valhalla on Odin's pointy head." Hylal gaped
in horror. "He deserved it for the way things were going.
It's not the first time. It's the first time I let it fall on his
head, but not the first it's fallen." He ate a cookie and held the
rest out. "Want one? They're oreos."
"No thank you." He frowned. "Why would you do such treason to us?"
"What do you know about what's going on with Xander?" he countered.
"Not much. Just that he is fighting doing his duty."
"It's not his duty. He's an adult, full god. They have no right to force anything on him any longer."
"Still, a dutiful son would do such, even with a father like his."
"Even if it was meant to make him fucking miserable?"
"Well, that is a problem."
"Even if it was done to intentionally harm him? Actually, both of
them, and they tried it on people that they had no right to do it on?"
Hylal licked his lips and sat down. "Explain such to me so I can
make a decision?" John explained what had happened during the
banquet. At the end Hylal shook his head. "I respect the Son
of Coul. He is a good man."
"He is. Xander's said if he actually felt something for him then
he'd give in. Until then, he's cut off all alliances he has.
Odin tried to kill him last night even though it was me. Odin
nearly managed it and then Xander did something that cursed him to true
sight." Hylal shuddered. John nodded and finished his
cookies. "I asked that Thot take him in for a few days to talk to
"They were getting friendly."
"Would you want to stay with Buffy even though it was love god created?" he asked.
"No. Alexander was good to pick her for me."
"He didn't pick her for you or ask you to marry her, Hylal, he wanted you to get to know her and if you liked her, have her."
He smiled. "I do. If he's broken alliances, then who guards the villages?"
"Alana. She's already taken out the fire giant queen and has plans for the frost giant queen."
"She is a tough warrior...."
"She'll kill you if you call her a mere goddess," John said dryly.
"No, I would not. She's a fierce warrior but will the men follow her?"
"When was the last time Xander called upon the villagers to help?"
"Not in many attacks. Even that last one he had them evacuating
instead of honorably fighting." John nodded. "He knew they'd
be needed to guard the evacuating ones?"
"He knew it'd be bad probably. Xander does have a sense about how
battles will go. It's what makes him so good at his job."
"Then why does he fight?"
John leaned forward and showed him Anya, then their attempted wedding
night. Then the others that love gods had thrown his way.
Hylal shuddered and looked away. "Would you want anything that
they threw at you? Beyond that, Xander's a full adult. No
one has *any* say over who he marries or doesn't marry. He's had
his manhood for longer than some of us consider sane. Would you
"No, I would not," he admitted. "If my father had asked that I consider it...."
"He didn't ask. They announced it at the banquet. Then they tried to announce mine and Dawn's."
Hylal frowned. "Why?"
"It's a plot but I'm not sure who by. Clearly it's a plot to get
them killed instead of just fading off or committing suicide. It's
a great plan to get Xander to kill them."
"The leak that he used during that battle never healed, Hylal."
Hylal slumped. "Yes, he can. Actually, between him and
Coulson, I'm pretty sure they could easily find a weapon to do it too."
"That is not good."
"No, but they brought it on themselves."
"I understand. It is wise to stay out of it or to back the
fight." He stood up. "Thank you for explaining it to me,
"You're welcome, Hylal. How's things?"
"She is still there."
"The Elder Council brought her back for Hecate."
"Then they should give her to Hecate before she warps my wife."
John smiled. "We're going to tell her that soon."
Hylal smiled. "It is nice." He got sent back by John.
"Wife?" Buffy demanded.
He wouldn't wonder how she had heard, he could feel the witch still in
their house. "In Asgardian terms we are bound, your mother gave me
that right. In human terms I'm waiting to see what you consider
bonding." He stared at her. "I would go along with it when
you are ready."
"So we married when Mom told you how to treat me?"
"Yes. That was her permission. When my mother cried on you,
that was hers." Buffy blushed. "There was a great dinner we
hunted for." That got a squeak. "I have not officially
declared it to be so beyond among our friends that you are mine."
He kissed her. "When you are ready, we will finish the bonding in
your family's style. That is when we will officially be mated."
She blinked at him. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I thought you knew."
She huffed. "I didn't. I thought we were dating, you know, like seriously dating?"
"We are until you decide we are to be mated in your family's style. As we're not on Asgard, your local ways hold sway."
She blinked a few times. "So, if we're at home, I'm the wife, and here I'm just the girlfriend?"
"As you will it until you will to change it."
She sat down and stared at him. "Still should've told me, Hylal."
"I thought you knew." He hauled her up and sat down, letting her
sit on his knee. It was her favorite spot and his for her.
"Alexander said that you would have to work your way around to it based
on what your father did."
"You're nothing like my father. You'd never cheat on me," she said bitterly.
"Nay, and if I thought about it you could slay me," he said dryly.
She smirked and nodded. He kissed her. "As we are with your
people, until you proclaim me as such, however humans do so, then I am
merely your future mate."
She nodded, relaxing against his side. "I...."
"We have many years."
"I'm a slayer, Hylal, I may not have many years."
He looked at her. "You do because I have thwarted death
before. More than once. Including during a blizzard I nearly
got lost during. I ended up sheltering with a dragon, who did not
hurt me or try to eat me, and made it home with some of its
treasure. It was a strong enough fighting against death that
it ended up becoming an epic myth that is told to young warriors to
warn them of being in blizzards."
She looked at him. "Really?" He smiled and nodded. "Huh. That's almost Xander luck."
He stroked her back. "He is in the middle of strife right now."
"The godly one?"
"I don't think they are speaking. The pantheons together decided
he was to marry someone without their consent. He's gotten quite
angry over it." She shuddered. "I talked to his half-brother
because of the rumors we heard. He is not taking this happily."
"Is the person bad?"
"No. Not in the least. Nor will he be unless he is under
mind control." He kissed her again. "He is not home, he is
visiting people he knows in Egypt."
"With the pyramids?" she asked, looking confused.
"They have their own gods," he said with a smile. She nodded and
sighed. He hugged her. "We should eat before patrol."
"Can you ease up on Willow?" she asked quietly.
"Nay. Not in any version of chance. I can feel the foulness
of her death, I can feel how death still hunts for her for warping his
realm." She shuddered. "I can also smell the taint of magic
around you and that is usually not a good thing. Dawn?" She
appeared and frowned at Buffy, taking off spells. "Thank thee."
"Welcome, Hylal. That's not good. Buffy, she's got some strange magic that's not looking beneficial."
"How would you know?" Willow demanded.
Dawn looked at her. "Experience points," she quipped. She
finished removing the magic and looked at Hylal, ending his too.
He smirked. "I know, that was an old curse."
"From my mother to never bear the brunt of a happy village. We moved around it."
She smiled. "Good job." She looked at Willow again. "Why are you hexing my sister?"
"It was protections."
"There's no death magic protections, Willow." She shrieked and hit magic at her. Dawn shot her in the leg.
"Hey!" Buffy complained.
"Hush," Dawn snapped and Buffy backed down. She stared at the
crying witch. "You're in deep and I know for a fact that SHIELD is
"Their protections are gone," she sneered.
"Really?" Phil asked from behind her. "I doubt that since I'm
their protection now." She got up and glared at him. He
stared at her. "Try it." She threw magic at him. He
did what Ares had taught him, and barely any touched him. That
part burned and he winced but threw it back.
Xander appeared with a sonic boom, staring at her. "Really?" She looked scared, backing off. "Let's talk."
"Xander," Buffy whined. "Please?"
He looked at her. "I should have after the trial. I stupidly
believed someone else would handle it." Buffy nodded, hiding her
face in Hylal's shoulder. "Dawn, home."
"We're family," she said. "It's our responsibility to see the rabid member put down."
Xander shook his head. "It's my job, Dawn. It has been my job."
"I believe it's more mine," Phil said.
"Dawn, heal him." Xander looked at Willow, arms crossed over his chest. "No more. You're going back there."
"You can't and won't win."
He walked forward, backing her against a wall. "I don't care what
sort of plot this was," he said calmly. "Even if I do end up
married in a loveless marriage, then I'll deal with it." He
touched her forehead, reading her. He nodded, then pushed some
magic into her. Her shriek ended abruptly after a
microsecond. She turned into a shadow on the wallpaper. The
shadow fell down and lost cohesion, going to a puddle of ash.
"Honorable sentence carried out." He said a prayer then blew on
the ashes to scatter them to the four winds. He stepped back and
slumped. Dawn hugged him. He gave her a squeeze.
"Don't worry about the next banquet. I'm not going." She
nodded. He looked at Buffy. "I made it painless."
"I know. That was fear, not pain." She got up to hug him. "Thank you."
He kissed her on the head. "You're good. Hylal, she's shivering."
"I will help her calm down." Xander smiled. "Thank you for introducing us."
"You both deserve the greatest things." He let the ladies go. "Let me get back to Egypt." He disappeared.
Phil made sure he was all right. Dawn spotted something and
drained the bad magic, which brought Hera scowling. "Willow," Dawn
Hera looked and helped him get it out of him. "That girl was wrong in many ways."
"Now she's ashes," Dawn said bluntly. Hera gaped. "Xander
said it was his duty, we're as close as he comes to a family."
She tipped her head. "It's been a long time since he had a
family." Phil shivered. "It will not happen again. No
one presently can call back something like that. Even if they had
used Willow at full blown strength as a sacrifice." She ran a hand
over his head. "You should go talk to him."
"When he wants to talk, he'll come to me. I'm not going to intrude
on his grief, Lady Hera. We're not that good of friends at this
She frowned. "You could give in."
"Why make everyone miserable to ease stress that someone else is using as a plot?" he countered. "Would you have?"
She considered it. "I did not have a choice."
"We do, to fight it or not. I'm not ready to be married even if we were in real, true, unprompted love."
She nodded. "That is something to consider. He could still use a friend."
"We barely know each other," he told her. "I would be intruding."
"John probably could but he's holding down the temple," Dawn said.
She put her gun back when she heard cars pulling up. "Send the
minions out?" she suggested.
"Rogers, go talk to the PD," he ordered. He ran out. Phil
looked at Hera again. "If it had been allowed to grow and see
where it went, then it would've been a lot nicer and easier. As
is, neither of us is the sort to give in to pressure or we'd have
"I see. If it was unprompted?"
"It was, which is the point that hurts him. He doesn't need
someone pushed at him, he needs someone who understands him and wants
him. Someone who only wants him for him, not for his powers or
anything. The times have changed and we don't need political
"I can understand that. If I could have, I would've wanted the same thing."
"And yet, you pushed and shoved and made him angry about it," Dawn
quipped. "Which is why he's no longer talking to anyone but those
in Egypt and a few friends."
Hera looked at her. "Which means you should give back gifts, child."
"I've already dropped them on Gladriel earlier. Thanked her for
it. Pissed Xander's mother off totally." She grimaced but
let it clear up. "I won't have it done to my relationship
either. It is up to them when and if they ever become ready, not
someone outside of us. Pushing John wasn't much smarter."
"No, it wasn't," she agreed with a sigh at the end. "It was not planned that way."
"Yet that's how it happened," Phil said. "I can't give up what I
have for that, even if I was in true, unprompted love. The twins
need me, my job needs me. Frankly, I connect better with him now
that I'm actually over his protection." Hera gaped then groaned
and left. He looked at Dawn. "Home." She nodded and
waved at her sister before leaving. He looked at the watching PD
"The witch that is no more attacked," he said, pointing at the faint
shadow of Willow's dust that remained. "Alexander made sure she
could not do it again."
"The one that shot her?"
"The one I just sent home. Willow was attacking her." He
cleared the demonic mind control he could see, making the officers all
shriek then go limp. "Better, gentlemen?" They nodded.
"Who're you?" one asked.
"SHIELD. We watch over the slayer as well." He smirked
slightly. They nodded and made notes then left. He looked at
the two agents. "You say one single thing," he warned. "You
will be turned. I will personally find Druscila and let her have
you." They nodded, looking down. "Good." He looked at
Buffy. "We're going to talk your mother into eloping."
She smirked. "She's ready for that?"
"Yes, because like you she knows how precious time is and how it can disappear at any time." He disappeared.
She looked at Hylal. "That wasn't subtle."
"Not in the least." He kissed her. "When you're ready,
you'll tell me." He stood up and put her on her feet. "Let
me get what we need to banish bad spirits." She went with him.
Coulson walked up to where Fury was standing with Maria Hill and
Joyce. "Dawn found out that Willow had spelled her sister," he
reported. Joyce stiffened. "Dawn was removing them when
Willow showed up to protest. They had words, Dawn shot Willow when
Willow tried to magic her, and then Alexander showed up because it was
still his duty to." He walked off.
Joyce stopped him. "Is she coming back?"
"He scattered her ashes to the four winds," he said quietly. Joyce
relaxed and smiled. "Your elder daughter also found out she's
married by Asgardian standards. He told her he'd wait until she
was ready to do it the human way." Joyce smiled. "Perhaps
when you and Doctor Banner elope you can make it a dual ceremony so Dawn
only has to shop once."
"We're...." He stared at her. She blushed. "That would be less stressful."
"It would, and cheaper," he agreed with a smile. "Vegas, Poconos,
Atlantic City? We can clear anywhere to make sure there won't be
She cleared her throat. "I don't know."
He smiled. "We all consider it a great thing, Joyce. He
makes you happy." She blushed and nodded. "Then let us help
you celebrate. Tell us when." He walked off happier.
Joyce cleared her throat again. "Sorry, sir."
"As long as he's happy, I'll be happy for you both," he said dryly.
"We may still be a few months from that discussion. I'm not
certain. I haven't really thought about it. Though..."
She sighed. "I'm still a romantic even after my first
marriage." She walked off. She wanted to take a break to
talk to Bruce before rumors hit him. She walked into his
lab. "Phil just suggested we elope and let Buffy and Hylal hold
theirs at the same place. Maybe I'm a romantic," she complained.
He smiled and kissed her. "You are and I adore that about
you. I was going to suggest it around the holidays so everyone was
She smiled and kissed him, sinking against his chest. "I might like that." He squeezed her.
"Buffy has to hold hers at least a week after ours due to her celebration curse as I heard it called."
Joyce laughed. "I think she'd like that anyway. It'd let
them escape to go do smutty, young people things." He whispered in
her ear, making her shiver. "Bruce!" She swatted him.
He smiled. "I'm not that old and neither are you. Our mileage may be up there but not that high."
She smiled. "We'll see about later. Order a pizza?"
"Order Greek?" She smiled and nodded. "I'll meet you at
home." She walked off blushing. He smiled. He was
really happy. Truly happy. A bit worried about her follow up
this week but otherwise really happy. If someone had slipped her
more of that serum, he was going to Hulk out and kill them all in the
most brutal manner he could, and then he'd come back to help her through
Tara sat down with Phil at lunch, unwrapping her sandwich. Maria
sat with them. "We need to figure out how to do the bedroom
He smiled. "I think I can change one." She smiled. "I
need to learn how to do that, but I'm pretty sure I can. Do you
want to stay in ours or moved to the charming, Victorian one
downstairs?" He ate a bite of his lunch. Of course, his
phone beeped with a text message. He looked at it. "Bia
handled it." He put it back after a quick thank you text back.
She smiled at Maria. "We snuck down to look at it."
"I like the more modern one."
"That's fine." He smiled. "We can set up their rooms in my
place." His phone beeped again. He looked and resent the
last message. Bia apologized for getting huffy. He suggested
he had cookies in his fridge. She said she'd steal some and then
left him alone. He put his phone back. "We should probably
be prepared to decorate for them anyway."
Maria Hill nodded. "Do we want to do a girlish room for him and a boyish one for her?"
He smiled. "Not really. Pink gives me hives."
"I like some of her songs," Tara said, cracking the two agents up.
"Grateful Dead bears? One of the coven really likes them for her
"Castles and mythical creatures?" Phil offered. "I don't want them
to smoke pot." She pinched him. "Castles, dragons?"
"I could like that. We can transform the fish into a moat."
Maria smiled and nodded she could help with that. "Will a little
girl want a castle?"
"She's going to be just as tough as you are," he pointed out.
Maria laughed. "We have lace," she reminded him.
"I know. I helped her pick out her bedspread. I'm fairly certain if she had to, Tara could go storm a castle."
"Possibly," Maria agreed, making Tara blush. "I could like a forest and castle scene, maybe with horses?"
"I'd like that," Tara agreed. "Later on, she can have stuffed mythical creatures?"
"That would work for both kids," Phil said, eating another bite.
They smiled and nodded. "We'll get stencils or whatever this
weekend." The ladies smiled and dug into their lunch, talking
about upcoming pediatric appointments. There was another run of
shots coming up and Tara wanted to spread them out. Phil had no
opinion and it was fine with him. Maria was a bit worried but as
long as the daycare didn't say anything then she guessed it was
fine. They finished up and went back to work.
Maria Hill walked her change of personal information form into the office. "Sir."
Fury looked at it then at her. "If you and Agent Coulson are
moving in together, we'll have a problem and have to move one of you."
She smiled. "He's moving downstairs, sir." He walked in with his personal information change form.
Fury looked then at his top agent. "Why are you moving in?"
"Because I'm planning on asking someone great to marry me some year if I survive working here, Sir."
Fury blinked. "You know, we're talking Joyce and Banner into
eloping," Phil said with a smile. "And letting Buffy and Hylal do
theirs around the same time. You could join in that time.
That way they're all grouped."
She blushed. "We'll see." He smiled. "Pervert."
"Totally practical. You'd have to take off for Joyce's wedding anyway. So would she."
"Probably," she agreed. She ducked her head some, looking at the boss and straightening up.
"If you do, that's fine," he agreed. "I'll send these down to HR."
"I can deliver them," Phil said. "It's a floor below mine, sir."
"Fine." He signed off and handed them over. "You two, go write reports or something."
They walked off, going to their respective desks with a few stops. Maria needed some coffee.
"Tara would love something flirty in the spring under some pretty trees," Joyce said quietly.
She smiled. "I think I can pull that off." She winked and went back to her desk.
Joyce smiled and made possible plans. She'd have to shop for
them. She had no idea what the ladies needed in their apartment
beyond a babysitter.
Dawn watched as first Callia went crawling past her desk, plucking out
her phone when she saw she was being followed. She taped it with a
smile. "Pepper," she called quietly. She and Tony came out
of the office and they both grinned at the trio of crawling kids, Callia
leading them around. Dawn sent the film to Phil and Maria Hill,
because Tara's phone wouldn't do video texts. "Callia, take them
down to have Andrew and Jonathan see," she called.
"Okay, Auntie. They're very good at it. I spent all morning teaching."
"You did a great job," her father agreed with a grin. She smiled
and waved, prompting the twins to do it. They made it onto the
elevator and Callia got up to poke the button then got back down on the
Dawn giggled. "That's so sweet of her."
"They're mobile little hellions now," Stark said with a wicked smirk.
Phil looked at his phone and smiled. "Good job, kids. I need to pick up presents for that."
Upstairs, Maria was smiling. "Tara, the twins crawled." She
ran over to see, cooing at the picture with Joyce joining them.
Fury walked out of his office. "Emergency?"
"Callia taught the twins to crawl," Maria said, rerunning it.
"Aww, she's so smart and teaching them good things," Joyce cooed.
Fury walked off shaking his head. "Send that to me, Maria?"
"I can do that." She looked at Tara. "We need to pick up stuff to give them treats."
Tara smiled. "They're going with Dad tonight." She gave a
wicked little smirk and strolled off to make sure Phil had seen.
Maria sent the video on to Joyce, Buffy, and Xander's phones. Joyce would share it with Bruce.
Steve would find out later when the twins got free of Dad and found their way to his apartment to make him read to them.
Xander appeared in the middle of a problem that needed to be handled,
which humans were ignoring. He was handling it pretty well until
he realized he had forgotten to reload a gun. And there were no
bullets in the armory for it. He huffed and switched
weapons. This was so going to be a long day.
A few hours later, he was pinned down in a building. The two
buildings he had been saving were free and clear. The secondary
targets were being left alone. Which meant he had done his job
Phil appeared, handing over some ammo. "Welcome."
"Thank you, ammo fairy guy," he quipped, reloading.
Phil looked around. "We could let them handle it."
"The kids aren't far enough away."
"No, they're not. By the way, the twins crawled."
"Congrats." He grinned. "That's a great age. Means they can start getting into trouble."
"Don't remind me." They moved and Phil helped him. Xander looked at him. "I am an agent."
"In the US. Won't this cause you problems?"
"Not really." He smirked. "Sometimes you gotta do the job as
you said once." Xander nodded that was true. They switched
hiding spots, going somewhere more defensible that would drawn the bad
guys farther away from the kids they were protecting. "Any
idea why Dawn's paying property taxes in South America?"
"Fallback spots," he said.
"Good! I like that idea." They finished firing on the group
that was coming toward them. They checked. "One's going for
the orphanage." They moved out to protect the kids. Within a
few hours, things were worse. They were nearly out of bullets,
they were tired from blasting idiots in converted pickup trucks that
were pretending to be tanks, and Phil was once again missing his bedtime
rituals for the kids. He looked at Xander. "We need to end
"If I overtly blow them up, we'll draw more attention. I can do that, but there'll be bitching in the press again."
"Can we send them somewhere, like into the middle of a drug gang meeting?"
"Maybe," Xander said, considering it. That got a plan
started. They broke apart to work on that, running into each other
a few hours later with a lot fewer threats. No bullets, no more
energy for spells, and six or seven remaining bad guys. Xander
panted as he fell onto his butt beside Phil. "Okay, it's been a
while since I've had to do this."
"You've been at it for nearly a day," he pointed out. "Of course
you're tired, even with great stamina. I have good stamina and I'm
tired." They looked at each other. "We'll still win."
"I might have to deage and getting shot sucks. Especially the
nagging afterward. Two guns twinkled into being in front of them
and then someone shot a few of them for them. They looked
up. "That's Dawn," Xander said.
"It is," Phil agreed. "I'm paddling her."
"Get in line," Xander joked.
"I'm over both of you, me first," Phil quipped and got up. The gun
got grabbed on his way to a new spot. Xander did the same,
following him. They ended up against a wall. With new
reinforcements. Yay! They heard a quiet 'fuck this shit' and
a sudden explosion. "Not subtle," Phil called.
"Go spar?" he suggested.
"They're asleep. It's nearly two," she quipped. Then she flashed out before she got shot.
They looked at each other and the moment was just right for a
kiss. The possible end of their mundane lives and a lot of
gunfire. It was the macho guy romantic stereotype moment.
They looked up as a gong rang and the bad guys decided to flee. "I say we kill them too," Xander said.
"Less temper," Phil warned. "You scared Dawn." He stared him
down. Xander sighed. "If it's meant to be, it will
be. I'm not giving in to any pushing."
Xander smiled. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Now, let's let the locals handle it? I can hear
sirens." They flashed out, making sure they brought any weapons
with them. Phil went to take a shower. He was a bit battle
Xander went home to do the same. He pulled his axe when he saw
Cupid. "Just because it was good doesn't mean it's happening."
"But...." Cupid said.
Xander stared at him. "You *forced* it." Cupid fled.
Xander put his axe back and went to shower. He could use a
shower. And then maybe he'd go finish wearing his temper out in
that one realm. He could use it. Because, yeah, he'd felt
the love god hand pushing them. There was no way Phil wanted him.
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