Fighting, Shopping, Competing Old Ones?

Fury looked over at the meeting he had called.  "For the first time we have been invited to the All Agent Olympics."  A few of his groaned.  "It's an honor, people.  That means they consider us fellow agents finally."

"If we kick their asses does that mean they'll quit sending us the idiots?" Clint asked.

"Hopefully."  He put up a copy of the events.  "I know we have people who can compete in some of these."  He looked around.  "For the sake of personal interest I have asked and all adjunct, specialist, and creative consultants can help."  He smirked.

"Dawn's a good shot," Barton quipped with a smirk.  "But not that much, sir."

"We only have two that can do any gymnastics," Fury noted.

"She barely knows any and I only took her through the balance things," Natasha said blandly.  "For that matter, I have not really practiced in years."

"Practice.  We need to kick their asses so they respect us more, people.  Barton, you're on for the sharpshooting and bow targets."  He nodded at that.  "We're testing to see who is going in for the 5K, 10K, and marathon classes."  He looked around.  "No exemptions unless you absolutely are not able to run.  Marksmanship scores will see who follows into those. 

"Does anyone know what crew rowing is?"  A few agents raised their hands while looking amused.  "Have you?"  Most of them nodded.  "Then you're our team."  He smirked.  "Figure it out and make sure you work well.  I want to take at least third in at least eighty percent of the groups."  He looked around.  "Any questions?"

"Sir, what's that one?" he asked with a point.

"Mechanical bull riding as in rodeo.  We have modified events because they didn't want us to need horses or some shit."

"Actually, a few of us could probably do very well in the equestrian events," Natasha said dryly.  "Including Dawn if she was taught."  Fury rolled his eyes.  "Is that a language one?"  He nodded.  "I'll see if she'll do that."

"Thank you."  He smirked.  "Any other questions?"

"Do we have adjunct members beyond Stark's people?" Coulson asked.  "And am I included, sir?"

"That's something I'm not sure about with your ...spouse," he admitted.  "They might think that was cheating.  I'll be asking that later."  Coulson nodded.  "If I remember right, you could do some marathon events."

"I have in the past," he agreed.  "I haven't seriously done one in a few years though."

"Get back into training shape."

"I've been devoting it to sparring time."

He considered it.  "There's a fencing competition," he said.

"Not that sort, sir, but ask Sheppard?"

He smirked.  "I forgot about them.  Thanks," he said, making that note.  "I'll check on that.  Any others?"

One of the females raised her hand.  "No can do on the gymnastics, sir."

"Why?  You're one of the few that I knew could do it and have competed."

She patted her stomach.  "The future agent doesn't like me bending very much."

He stared at her.  "Didn't I say no being in HQ or the hell carrier if you're stuffed up?"

She nodded.  "You did, which is why I only came in for this meeting when you specifically ordered, sir.  Next time maybe."

He nodded.  "How many months until we lose you for maternity leave?"

"Four.  I'm going to be going into labor on the deck."  She grinned.  "My husband doesn't want to let me nest either.  He says it's upsetting his agent skills with the paint stink."

Barton snickered.  "Just wait.  We saw Tara nesting at Coulson's now and then."

She smirked at him.  "We knew you had some contact."

"Dawn did," Natasha agreed.  "Buffy painted Xander's place with his dog's help."

"I want a dog and he says no."   She shifted in her seat.  "Now I know why he conveniently forgot the condoms."

"I do not need to know," Fury said dryly.  "If it was for that reason, you have my permission to mood swing on him.  I saw one of Potts' mood swings on a reporter that is now finding god."  He looked around.  "Any other comments, concerns, or questions?"  They shook their heads.  "Dismissed."  They walked off talking about the various events they wanted to test for.  Fury sat down, shaking his head.

Maria smiled at the pregnant agent.  "You can still do languages.  Two of the ones you speak aren't that used.  I'm told it's a stump the person you're talking to event."

"I can try."  She walked off.  "We want peanut butter."

"Go home," Fury ordered.

"Not yet, sir.  Still have hours yet."

Maria smiled at her back then at the boss.  "She'll make a fussy, safe, good mother probably."

"She has almost no temper, that's going to be a bonus."  He went into his office, coming out to hand Joyce an envelope.  "I thought I sent that out."

"We reuse the envelopes," she said, pointing at the crossed out names.  "That way you're not paying ninety cents to send something around the building."  She looked inside and handed them to him.  "From HR.  Then you mark out their name and put where you're sending it."

He shook his head, walking back in there.  "I don't see why."

"Ninety cents for twenty uses or one," Joyce quipped.

"Whatever."  He looked at the forms, signed what he had to, filed the rest, then sent them back to HR with a note saying he didn't like reusing things.  He got what he needed and went to Stark International to talk to them.  Then he'd get taken to the SGC to talk to O'Neill.


Dawn raised a hand during his spiel.  "Why tell us?  We're only affiliated through Stark.  Not the rest of us."

"You're still listed as an adjunct on-call for emergencies, Summers."

Dawn snorted.  "No, if I need to I'll show up."  She looked at Tony then at him.  "Still, not my thing.  Thanks though."  She got up and left.

Tony followed.  "I don't jog or anything, Fury.  You should know that by now."  He smirked at her in the elevator.  "You could probably do the 5K."

"I could probably do the 10K but I'm not.  I'm not really into jogging for medals.  I jog to keep my body hot so my mates don't pout that I'm getting fat."

He laughed.  "I did some working out for that same reason."

She patted him on the arm.  "You're getting a bit flabby too.  You and Happy need the gym."  She got off on her floor, letting him laugh all the way up to the penthouse.  She sat down at her desk and got back to work.  Pepper came out of the office to stare at her.  "Fury's pimping the Agent Olympics thing."

Pepper shook her head.  "You're not an agent."

"No but we're considered adjunct members," she said dryly.

"I'm sorry, you're usually too busy here to train seriously for something like that."   She went back to her desk to talk to Tony about that.  He admitted they had both walked out at the suggestion of them *jogging*, making her smile back.   She liked watching Tony spar and jog.  He grumbled but said she could come watch him spar later at the gym.  She agreed and hung up, getting back to the mundane jobs around the office.


Dawn came in that night.  "Who is Presley?" she asked.

"Lower level agent wannabe?" Clint guessed.  "Why?"

"He thinks he beat me because I didn't drop fully into the sparring mindset when he challenged me and I let him win to salve his ego?"

"No," Clint said.  "Fix that shit."

"Fury said I had to let him win!"

"So?" Natasha asked, coming out of the study.  "Beat him."

"Invite him over so I can change.  I gave him thirty good minutes while I was in heels and a skirt."  She went to change and came out to get kisses, teasing Clint by sitting in his lap.  He laughed and hugged her.  She winked.  "You want a fair observer?"

"Sure," he agreed.  He texted Steve, who said he'd referee.  They went down to the gym when he got there.  Dawn stretched off to the side.  Clint stared at him.  "She got told to let you win," he said with a smug look.  They all hated this guy.  Even Stark said he was an egotistical jackass, and that was coming from the King of all that kingdom.  Dawn stepped onto the mat and waved him over. 

He kicked off his shoes.  "Don't want to bruise your prettiness," he sneered.

She laughed.  "Please!  I can leave plenty of bruises without shoes."  She waved him on.  "I'm a defender."  Steve blew a whistle and the idiot agent lunged.  Dawn let herself drop into the proper mindset and stood there for a second then spin-kicked him in the jaw before moving in.  When he was down and she was kneeling on his shoulders, one hand squeezing his throat, watching his eyes pop out and his lips turn blue, she smiled.  "So, anyway," she said.  "How's your day been?"  He burbled.

"Dawn," Steve called.  "Get off him."  She got off.  "Thank you.  We don't want to lose agents to you making them choke."  He looked at him.  "You good?  Need medical?"

"What is she?" he demanded with a point at Dawn.

Cap smiled.  "She's Dawn.  She's been taking self defense for years because people like to try to kidnap her."  He stuck his hands in his pocket and grinned so he wouldn't hit the guy.  "She did a really good job."

"Not bad," Natasha said, moving closer to Dawn.  "Still dropping your right side and it's no longer sore."

"I think that's a bad habit I learned during the rib thing.  I'm still hesitant to block on that side," Dawn admitted.  "I need to work on it."

"We will focus on that the next time we spar."  She smiled and patted her on the cheek.  "Good enough showing, about a B of your usual level."

"I was trying to scale back to my opponent," Dawn admitted.  "I didn't want to unleash the asskicking I usually use on you and Clint or even Steve sometimes."

"We like that," Clint agreed.  "You might've killed him and there's a ton of paperwork when you accidentally kill another agent."  He looked at him.  "Her going full out is the lesser standard you have to meet to start testing to be on the team," he told him.  "But you also need special skills that the rest of us can't cover."  The guy walked off swearing.  "Sorry," he called, waving at his back.  "Or not," he muttered, walking over.  He checked her over.  "Few bruises?"

"Few and my ear hurts."  They checked and removed the earring that had been caught in the punch so therefore ripped a bit.  "Thanks, guys."

Steve nodded.  "There's some agents that can beat you, but they don't want to be Avengers."

"Maria and I have sparred.  She's pretty good," Dawn agreed.

"Presley's training agent could make it but he doesn't have many special skills," Clint said.  "He's a good training agent."  Coulson walked in with Presley.  "He that hurt?"

"No.  Did we tape it?"  They pointed at the security cameras.  "I'll get one from Stark."  He looked at Dawn.  "You didn't go all out?"

"I was trying to lower my skill level to his.  If it was a real battle I would've went all out and just killed his ass."

"Good."  He smirked a bit.  "I'm glad you will."  He looked at Presley.  "The base level for testing to be a future Avenger is: beating Dawn in hand-to-hand or someone of her level in a weapons-based physical fighting style, beating all the top tier agent standards for physical fitness, having some sort of special skill or ability or style that is currently needed on the team or can act as backup to one of the current members, and you have to go through thorough training and get permission from Captain Rogers to be on the future B team I'm setting up."  Presley sighed and nodded. 

"There are slight exemptions such as Barton can't make the leg lifting requirement sometimes due to an older leg injury.  He has found a way around it and he's proved it on various missions.  We do also encourage them to be field mission tested and trained so they won't freak out during something hard.  The agents on the team still do take missions as well except when there's a battle, and if it's that sudden Stark has a method of handling it," Coulson finished.  "Any questions?"

"No, sir.  How close am I?  I can do most of it."

"You're not field mission tested," he noted.  "You're still considered an agent in training."  That got a nod.  "Your hand-to-hand is not good enough to beat Dawn.  I'm not sure where you rate on the physical levels."

"There's nothing wrong with being a normal agent," Dawn said.  "The group needs more of those.  Goddess knows what'll happen if one of the more known agents goes out on something and they recognize them."

"It is a problem we have considered," Coulson agreed.  "Even before certain things happened, some people were getting too well known."  He looked at the lower agent again.  "When, and if, you can meet up to those standards then we will try again.  Until then, she's right.  We all started out as basic field agents.  Myself, Agent Hill, Director Fury, these two in here.  We were basic field agents who did the job and evolved over time to higher status due to our excellent records and our handling of field missions. 

"Their special skills come from their various backgrounds.  I'm sure you have a few of them yourself and I'm fairly certain in a few years you'll find out whether or not you'll want to move higher.  There is a security, a comfort even, from being a simple field agent who doesn't have to make the hard decisions, doesn't have to lead a team, doesn't have to handle apocalypse battles, nothing like that.  There's been plenty of times in the field I wished I had someone who I could ask for advice when things went wrong."

"I understand, sir."

"Yes, but understanding isn't realizing," Dawn said.  She moved closer.  "Think of it this way.  A really great field agent will possibly retire at sixty.  An Avenger will end up retiring from injuries at maybe five years after they join.  Which do you want to do?  Because it's not glory, it's not fame, and it's not fun."

"There's those events."

"Which are deadly dull," Barton assured him.  "We only go so we can see Dawn dressed up."

Natasha nodded.  "Sometimes to tweak a few contacts."

Dawn grinned.  "I only go to flirt."  They smirked at her for it.  She looked at him.  "Being a really good field agent is a lot more satisfying because it's also a steady job.  These two are on training duties until something happens."

"I've seen.  That looks nice."

Natasha laughed.  "We have to be in peak physical shape at all times.  No days of sprained ankles, no called off missions due to problems.  I got written up for breaking a rib once.  Special agents don't get those luxuries.  That one with the broken rib, I still went on my next mission, which involved an underground fight club that also shipped weapons and people around the world."

Barton nodded.  "I've had a few of those myself.  Beyond that, you've barely passed through field agent training.  You haven't even picked a speciality yet.  You need to decide what sort of field agent you work best as so they can channel you into those assignments. That's a whole testing scenario you've got to go through with Agent Hill.  Plus anti-interrogation training, anti-torture training, all that stuff."  Presley shuddered.  "Being a basic, simple field agent is easier.  A lot easier.  It's also safer and healthier.  Basic field agents tend to get shot, not tortured or interrogated.  You're minions so you don't know anything to be asked about."

Coulson nodded.  "That is true.  At the upper levels, anti-interrogation training is a lot more difficult to deal with than it was at the basic level.  There you have to learn how to lie and get around questions, make sure you don't whimper when you're in pain, and you can handle being hit.  At the upper levels you get pain sticks, shock collars, waterboarding...."  Dawn walked off shuddering.  He smiled at the lesser agent.  "You're prepared for anyone like a terrorist group or an hostile government to take you at the upper levels."

"You could be a good field agent," Natasha told him.  "You have tenacity and stubbornness but can follow sensible orders from what I've seen of your files.  You should focus on strengths that you have instead of wanting to go somewhere you are not suited.  As they would not send you to bait or blatantly sex information from someone, you should not want to go there.  It is not as fun as it seems in the movies."

He nodded.  "I get that," he decided.  "Thank you for being honest."

Barton nodded.  "There's not a single one in your group that I could see going that high.  A few might make upper junior level agents, mid-level ones like Coulson was originally.  You'll know when you see one who belongs there or higher.  If you see one, let someone like Coulson or your trainer know so they can test their skills and make sure.  We have sneaky ways of channeling good skills."

"I can do so.  Thank you, Agents Barton, Romanoff, and Coulson."   He nodded at Steve.  "Captain."  He left, thinking all the way back in the cab.  He reported to the infirmary.  The doctor there glared at him.  "I wanted to test myself against Summers."

They nodded.  "She's got some skills."  They got him patched up and back to his bunk room.

He ran into his trainer on the way down.  "Sir, I...."

"I heard you went stupid, Presley.  What were you thinking?"

"That I was better than someone who wasn't legal to drink.  Then I got proved wrong and had a realistic talk with Agents Barton, Romanoff, and Coulson."  He sucked in a  breath.  "Can I have one with you as well, sir?"

"Let me get a beer, kid.  I'll come to your berth."  He nodded and went to his room to make sure it was clean enough.  The training agent sent Coulson an email on his way to the mess to get a beer or three.  Coulson sent one back.  Including footage of the fight.  It wasn't a long one by any means, but that girl was really tough.  He came back to go over it with him.  The talk afterward had been recorded too and he agreed with their assessments. 

He knocked and got let in, handing over a beer and the ice pack he gotten.  "So, you got your ass handed to you by a tiny little girl.  I've gotten that from Romanoff.  It's not as bad as it sounds."  He settled in to talk to him about his future pathways.  He had skills in a few areas.  None in the special fields but the world needed more good field agents who could handle missions.  He wasn't James Bond, but he was a lesser version of Austin Powers maybe.


Fury got the updated training records and frowned.  "Hill?"  She walked in.  "Why do we have movie spies being used as a rating system?"

"The trainers said it was less subjective, sir."  She wrote out the code for him.  It noted speciality areas and abilities.  "Here."  He read it over, nodding slowly.  "It was the only one they could agree on."  She looked.  "Presley has more skills than I thought he would.  Apparently being handed his ass after Dawn gave him a real test helped."  She walked off happier.  She had things she could schedule him to look over to see if he wanted to take those lessons.

Fury came out to look at her.  "I told Summers to let him go."

"She did.  Then she admitted it and they asked him back for a real test.  Which he lost in about twenty minutes.  Then I'm told they had an ego-blowing talk about reality and why some agents are 'special' agents and some are 'agents', sir.  I think he may have found a good area for him to focus on."

"He's the nephew of another agency's head," he said quietly.

"He's apparently got good field agent skills.  I'm going to channel him toward Brooks' teams."  Fury nodded that was acceptable.  "There for a while I was going to tank him due to his ego."  She smiled.  "The rest of the trainees, there's about four."

"Good."  He walked off.

It suddenly made sense to her why they had a few agents who had *no* clue what it meant to be an agent.  It figured.


Agent Coulson looked at the next batch of recruits and mentally sighed.  They all looked like they wouldn't make it.  "We're going to go over why you think you're here and what you're really here for," he decided.  "Because many of you have high ideals and not a clue."  A few glared.  He put up some of the most recent battle footage from Cleveland. 

"At SHIELD, we not only handle world ending emergencies, we stop them before they happen.  We back up the slayers and others who keep down demonic menaces.  We also happen to watch over people of interest due to their helping us, and therefore we don't want them to fall into enemy hands, or because they're probably going to cause us problems."  One agent raised her hand.  "Yes?"

"Does that include Mr. Stark?"

"Yes, it does.  There's three agents that routinely look over his shoulder when we feel he needs some.  Mostly those agents are assigned because we already have ties over there.  I have them because I help mentor a few of the younger scientists and engineers."  She nodded at that.  He changed film so they saw the battle from New York.  "The more common agent is in this sort of position when things start to go wrong.  When we have major battles, you'll be the backup, the one moving civilians who are frozen in fear."  He waited until it played out then moved it to another battle. 

"This was quietly fought overseas and if we had lost, then someone would have gotten plasma power sources that they had stolen and killed for."  He let them see it.  He looked around.  "It is not glamorous, it is not what you see in the movies.  It is not being an Avenger.  They are *special* agents.  Right now, you are trying to become an agent.  Later on, you'll get to see if you become a regular special agent or a senior field agent.  As I was."  He looked around again.  "Any questions so far?"

"How does one get to be an Avenger?" one of the guys asked.  Phil recited the rules he had set down, getting a nod and a few making notes.  "So, it's pretty much a long shot?"

"Most of you will get to back them up for bigger battles.  Some of you will be moved to the more covert sections, which do not handle battle duties.  As was pointed out, they take film of those and if someone you were doing covert work against spotted you in them, your cover is blown and you can end up dead."  That got more nods and notes being taken.  "Being picked for covert sections requires skills, I will not lie.  It is not common place, it is not easy.  This is for people who excel in field work with minimal guidance to no guidance at some points. 

"This is for the ones that infiltrate companies and groups that will cause problems."  They all nodded.  "If you have hopes of being Agent Romanoff," he told the female agents.  "That sort of training is available and she has trained a few female officers with skills how to do the same things she does.  She has also trained a few male agents.  You'll be seeing both Agents Romanoff and Barton sometimes during your training so you can ask them if they think you have skills."  Most of the room nodded.

One raised her hand. "Sir, if we want to be part of the battle unit, is that separate training?"

"That is the more open side of SHIELD.  You'd still be trained to do field work.  Our military people come from the SGC."  She smiled.  "We recently sucked them under our umbrella to protect them from the politics.  If that's what you want, talk to the training officers.  We are realistic people.  We know some of you will not make it.  We know some of you will want to so badly and won't make it.  We also know that some of you need to uncover your real strengths and weaknesses.  We're there to help you do that and to mold you into a better agent.  Some of you came from other agencies.  We're not that nice to ours."  They all nodded.   A few sat up straighter. 

"Our standards are higher because, outside the CIA, our risks are greater.  Our missions to protect and serve protect the whole world, even parts of it we don't like."  He flipped open a mission report, partially blacked out.  "This was one of mine when I was newly out of your seats.  One of my first ones."  They read it and a few looked green.  He shrugged.  "Doing so kept the children from very bad hands in HYDRA.  We do what we must.  That was not my primary mission.  My primary mission was to get the single child that was the offspring of a nuclear scientist that was being ransomed for them.  I chose to help them all and nearly lost my objective.  I won't lie and say the director was *pleased*."

One raised her hand slowly.  "Do we do that often?"

"Go off target?  Hopefully it won't often be necessary."

"Rescue the children of important people that have been taken."

"No.  Frankly he was one of ours or we would've told another agency."  That got a nod and a grimace.  "No, they probably couldn't have," he said more calmly and quietly.  "Which would've been a tragedy.  His daughter is one of our greater weapons designers."   She smiled.  "So, more questions?"

"I'm told we start with physical training?" one of the males asked.

"Yes.  We have standards.  If in two weeks you don't pass the base level to move on, you are cut.  We routinely cut a quarter of you for that reason."  They nodded and got into that handout to see what they needed to do.  One whimpered.  Phil smirked slightly.  "As I said, ours are higher standards than most agencies, Mr. Trellis."

He looked up.  "They are, sir.  I was FBI."

"I know.  I read all of your dossiers.  The unsealed ones."  They all nodded at that knowledge, even the one that used to be CIA.  "I would expect it to be tougher on you than basic training for those of you who were military, but not as emotionally draining.  We only yell at you if you deserve it.  Though there have been times I've borrowed a few dogs of war and let them help with the training."  He gave them a smug look.  "If that should happen, do not harm the dogs.  Alexander will not be pleased."  That got a mas nod. 

"Any other questions or should we go on the tour of the three levels you're allowed on?"  They picked up their packets and followed him.  They had shown up last night to get room assignments so they had their bunks.  They had found the cafeteria this morning he hoped.  He started with the gym.  "Notice the raised jogging track.  We do have treadmills if you'd prefer but the running times are done on that track."  He showed them the regular machines and the free weight room, then the small sideroom that could be used for yoga or other specialized exercises.  It had a ballet bar as well as a mirror. 

He walked them to the cafeteria, where a few brave souls got drinks.  Then he showed them the library level.  It passed by two levels they weren't allowed on but they realized there was a lot more to the building than the three levels.  "This is our regular and occult library, carefully maintained by the library staff that we hired.  We got it from the Council of Watchers, who used to be over the slayers."  He looked at them. 

"Some agents have had to research the demons they were running into in here.  The ones on assignment in Cleveland tend to brush up and make their own classification manuals based on the reports that the prior agents have called in.  You're free to do the same thing and it's probably a good idea," Coulson said.  "We do rotate a three-agent team through Cleveland all the time, and more when we're anticipating problems.  Especially with a pregnant slayer."  He walked them back up to the meeting room.  "Any other questions?"

"Sir, when does our two weeks to impress people end?" one asked.  "Is it starting tomorrow or today?"

He smirked.  "Smart ones started last night because they've been in the habit of training every day.  They officially start tomorrow.  Do note that you only have a single day off, and we would advise that you don't."

One of the women raised her hand.  "Any gender differential standards?"

"No," he said.  "We expect our women to be just as strong and as tough as our male agents."  He smirked.  "If you cannot, that's a problem."

"Understood."  She looked over as the door opened, staring at the woman who walked in and handed Coulson a note then left.  "Is she an agent?"

"Tara is an adjunct member.  She's our on-call witch."  The woman winced.  "She's actually a lot stronger than she looks.  She survived Sunnydale for over two years."  He looked at the note then put it into his pocket.  "Dismissed for lunch and then we meet in the gym, people.  That way you can measure yourself against the standards set."  They nodded and left.  He went down to the infirmary, looking at his son.  "Why are you sick again?"  John fussed and held up his arms so he picked him up.  "What's wrong this time?" he asked the nurse he didn't know.

"Sir, only his mother should have him.  Please put him down."

Phil stared at her.  "I'm his father, Nurse."  She stomped off.  The doctor came over.  "She's clearly new."

"She is.  He's got a pretty good sinus problem that's wrecking his ear again."

"I know he had an ear problem.  His sister's cleared up but his went to his left bursting even with antibiotics."

"With twins there's usually one that's a bit sicker.  It's usually the one that was smaller at birth."

"That was her.  He was nearly five pounds.  They were full term too."

"That's a great thing."  She showed him the test results.  "We can try another antibiotic."

"Is there a sinus medicine we can give him?  I know Tara was looking for an herbal one."

"Not that I'm aware of.  I'll call a pediatrician I know to ask her that."  He nodded at that.  "You really need to take him to one outside us."

"We do, but he's out of town this month," Phil admitted, shifting John to his other hip.  He looked at his son, who was holding his ear.  He kissed him on the forehead.  "Want to go to Mom?"  He snuggled into his shoulder.  "We can manage it with the trainees I'm running ragged later," he decided.  He sent a text up to the main office and Maria's phone.  He got one back authorizing him to go home.  He said he only had trainees so John could help by encouraging them.  He smiled at the doctor.  "If you find out, let us know."

"I can do that.  Good luck.  Have you talked to an allergist?"

"We know it's flower based, I'm not sure which one."

"It's possible it's multiple flower based or fragrance based."  He nodded that was true, taking him upstairs for lunch with him.

Fury walked in and stared.  "Sick again?"

"Yes, sir.  Another sinus infection that's killing his ear."

"You can't really have him in the building, Coulson.  It's dangerous."  Phil gave him a pointed look.  "Even for you.  Can your...mate watch him?"

"Not sure."  He sent a thought at Xander, who showed up and held out his hands.  "Are you sure?"

"I'm running some of O'Neill's pilots ragged today.  They'd like to be cheered on.  C'mon, we'll go pick on Uncle John."  John pouted and clutched his father's shoulder.  "I know, you feel nasty and want Daddy.  I can cuddle."  He picked him up to cuddle.  John sniffled and whined so he handed him back.  "Apparently not."

"We'll figure it out," Phil promised.  Xander grinned.  "I only have trainees."  Dawn appeared thanks to someone else texting her.  John sniffled and reached for her.

"Oooh, poor thing," she cooed, taking him to cuddle.  "C'mon, I can teach you to type.  Callia really liked those lessons."  She took him back to the office with her and he put his head on her shoulder, looking miserable.  She kissed him on the forehead, settling down with him in her lap.  He stared at the screen and cooed at the letters being typed quickly.

Pepper came out, staring at them.  "Ear ache?"

"Sinus becoming an ear ache.  Again."  She let Pepper cuddle him, which got her cooed at by John.  He was flirting even though he felt rotten.  Pepper was cooing back.

Stark walked in and stared.  "She's mine, you can't have her yet, Mini Coulson."  He took him and got pouted at.  "I know, she's a pretty girl and you like pretty girls."  He gave him back.  "Ear?"

"That too," Dawn agreed.  She finished up and printed, handing it to Pepper, who read it to the baby as she went back into her office.

Stark shook his head, walking off smiling.  He called Callia down to cuddle him too.  John was in heaven, he adored Callia cuddling him and they both could read to him.

When the reporter showed up for her interview with Stark, she paused and cooed.  "He's adorable.  Another scientist's son?" she asked Dawn.

"Agent Coulson's son.  One of the twins."

"Awww.  He's sick?"  Dawn nodded.  "That's so sweet of you two to watch him."  She got led off by Tony, talking about the kids.  She had two teenagers and she missed hers being that tiny.

Tony quipped that there was a chaos sorcerer working on that somewhere, making her cackle.

Phil showed up at about five, staring at his son.  His son was flirting with the ladies in the office, including the reporter.  "Son, I didn't know you were part Stark," he teased.

"Hey," Callia complained.  "Auntie flirty too and she's not a Stark."

"That's right.  Summers women can be flirty too," Dawn agreed with a grin for her.  "Some day I'll teach you how to be flirty."

"Cool.  Can I have bikinis then?" she asked her father.

"Maybe.  We'll see."  She shrugged and cuddled John.  "I think his father wants him."

"Mine," Callia told him.  "I even change diapers."

"That's very sweet of you but Melissa wants him back."

"I can watch her too," she promised.  "They can sleep with me and everything.  We can watch 'toons in the morning."

"Sorry.  Tara wants him home."

"Shoot.  Daddy....."

"No, your Aunt Tara doesn't need you tonight.  With John sick it's going to be tiring all night."

"Fine."  She kissed him on the forehead.  "You have a fever."

"His mother has something for that," Phil assured her, patting her on the head.  "Thank you for taking such good care of him today, ladies."  He picked up his son, getting pouted at.  "We're going to see your sister," he promised.  John grinned and ducked his head.  He kissed him on the forehead.  "You do have a fever."  He went down to the infirmary to see if he'd been given anything. 

She dosed him, earning a grin from John.  She also had a sinus liquid to give him.  He took it with him and told Tara, who cuddled the baby with Melissa.  That worked and he was a happy boy most of the night, except in his bath.  He hated the ear plugs.  He still went down nicely and slept all night.  Tara read the medicine's page on WebMD and was satisfied.  They'd try that each night.  That way if it made him sleepy it was fine.


Xander showed up that night, staring at Phil.  "He didn't want me."

"He went to flirt with Dawn, Pepper, and a reporter," Phil said dryly.  "My son has excellent taste."

"He does," Xander agreed happily.  He leaned down for a kiss.  "Need more help?"

"I'm good but I can watch tv if you want."  Xander grinned and settled beside him to watch some tv and cuddle.  It was nice.  "We have to work out this split-state living plan," he said quietly.

"Hephie's going to put in a door that keeps the kids on this side in case something's going on at the temple."

"That would be nice as long as the women can't show up here to nag and lengthen Dawn's clothes again."

"They shouldn't.  They've been avoiding Dawn's temple completely."  He snuggled into his shoulder.  "When do I get the new rookies?"

"Three weeks."

"How many?"

"As of today, half passed the physical requirements.  Some might add on enough."  Xander nodded.  "We'll have to see in about two weeks."  Xander took another kiss.  Phil smiled at him.  "Feeling a bit frisky?"

"I am but if you're not I can wait."

"I'm not totally unfrisky but not up to great, enthusiastic sex tonight."

"I can see simple stuff."  He pulled Phil onto his lap.  "Simple stuff can be nice too."  Phil smiled and rubbed against Xander's body while they kissed.  Xander moaned and pulled them closer together to get a good amount of friction.  It was sweet and nice.  They both came and cleaned up then settled in to watch more tv.  It was a good night off.


Dawn settled between her lovers on the couch, taking kisses and handing over plates.  They grinned and dug in.  Clint gasped and grabbed his glass of ice water.  "What?"

"Spices," he moaned.

"I used the prepackaged kind."

Natasha tasted and nodded.  "Yes, you did.  You weren't supposed to use half?"

"No, I used half."  They groaned and got some bread to help cut the heat.  Dawn ate hers and shrugged off the heat.  They could handle it.

Natasha found the package to read the directions while getting a second glass of ice water.  "You did use half."  Dawn nodded.  "It was meant to use half for a single serving."  She looked at the plates.  "Clearly someone likes peppers too much."  She got them some plain rice started to cut the spiciness.  Clint liked that and smiled at her.

Dawn shrugged while she chewed.  "I thought it looked a bit strong, that's why I used half."  She finished up and got them ice cream.

Clint looked at her.  "You can't cook for a week."

"Sure."  She grinned.  "Of course, I'm going to be gone for part of that week."  They groaned.  "I'll think of you while we're at the Malibu office."

"Sure," Clint sighed.  "Think of us here alone."

She kissed him.  "You're going to pounce Natasha and I'll shamelessly listen in," she teased with a grin.

He smirked.  "Yes, I will be, so you know what you're getting when you get back."  He took another kiss and they ate their ice cream.  "Fury's pouting that you guys won't help his ideal of winning a few contests."

"I'm still not an agent."

"I know."  He smirked.  "You can run."

"I don't run in public.  I can't run wearing a t-shirt."

"I don't think they'd care," he admitted.

"You would."

"I would but I think they're going to make us do at least the 5K.  It's all agents if we want it to be.  Scores per agent are added."  She huffed.  "Try?"


"Maybe they'll send us better recruits," Natasha said.

Dawn looked at her.  "We're not getting them at Stark."  Natasha poked her.  "They're not."

"You can still help," she said.

Dawn looked at her.  "Did Fury give you a bonus to nag me and Tony into it?"

She smirked.  "A week off with you somewhere secluded.  All three of us."

Dawn groaned.  "I'm not sure I can get that off."

"You can.  He talked to Pepper, who said it was romantic," Clint admitted.  "Just the 5K and the language thing?"

"We'll see."  He kissed her and rewarded her for being so great.


Phil watched and timed Dawn's daily 5K and sighed.  "You beat half of the rookies."

"Only half?" she panted.

"We have two marathoners in the group."


He smiled.  "We could get you to do a triathalon."

"No you can't," she quipped back.  "The only Iron Man I want to know about is Stark's version."  He walked off cackling.  She went back to her three times a week run.  Phil logged her scores into the system that was tracking them.  She heard the ping.  "Is that a bad noise?" she asked hopefully.

"That was you beat Agent Hill's scored time."  They shared a look.  "We can do it together."  She groaned and finished up.  He had done his and was on for the 10K.

"Can't I just hand out water at the aid stations?"


"Damn it."


"The language thing?"

"He was hoping you and Natasha could work out something on the gymnastics thing.  Maybe on the sharpshooter because you need to requalify."  She grimaced and got off the treadmill.  He pointed and she huffed but finished.  "Thank you."

"This really sucks."

"Yes it does," he agreed.  "It might have good benefits though."

"I'm not that lucky."

"Hush."  She finished up and wiped down with a towel.  "We'll run together.  Be buddies."

"Fine," she agreed, smirking at him.  "That means you need to run more often."

"I've been sparring."

"I know."  She smiled as she walked off wiping at her sweaty neck.  "I'm going to shower and hit work."

"Sure.  Have a good day, Dawn."  He logged in that last time and the computer pinged again.  She had barely beat his score.  Fury sent an IM saying they could run it together.  He sent back he had talked her into that and the languages.  He could almost see the director pouting but that was tough.


Dawn looked at Callia's gymnastics instructor.  "There's an all-agent olympics, which includes adjunct members," she said quietly.

He laughed.  "Did you ever train, Miss Summers?"

"I got some, mostly for balance work, by someone who did."

"Are they trained?"

"Black Widow?  Slightly."  He shuddered.  "If we decide to brush up on her skills, can we bum some space?  Totally paid for the time?"

"We'll see.  I'd have to test her, and you, to see what you could do."  He looked at her.  "SHIELD does things like that?"

"It's all agencies."

"That's strange."

"It's like team bonding or some shit like that," she muttered, cracking him up.  "They've already roped me into running."  She shifted her weight.  Natasha strolled in with a bag over her shoulder.  "Hi."

"Good afternoon."

The trainer looked at her and nodded.  "Did you compete?"

"No, I learned for practical reasons of training."



He groaned.  "They're always good."  He shrugged.  "I'll see where you are after the kids are done."  They nodded and settled in to watch over Callia.  He looked then at the kids.  "Stark."  She looked up and grinned, waving at them.  "What are you doing?"

"We're reading about the girls in the real olympics.  You told us to and you said we can't touch the bouncy pad without you standing right there."

"Yeah, I did."  He walked over to get them back into practice.  Callia wasn't bad but she'd never be great.  She enjoyed it though, which was important.  When they were done, Callia ran over to hug her aunt.  "Your driver's here."

"Hi, Happy."  She smiled and waved at him.  "Can I watch them?"

"Not this time," Natasha said.  "Next time if it's going to keep going."  Callia pouted.  "That way you don't have to see it when I fall."

"Falling is part of learning," she said.  She bounded out to pounce Happy, earning a smile.  "They're going to do big girl stuff."

"They probably are," he agreed, getting her into her booster seat then getting in to drive.  "Your father said you're taking family pictures tonight so you need to go shower and change."

"Cool!" she chirped and wiggled to the music he had on.  When they got there and she got let out, she ran to the elevator and onto it, heading up to the Penthouse to shower and put on real clothes.  "JARVIS, what did Daddy want me to wear for pictures?"

"I believe he wanted you in something blue or red, Callia."

She looked in her closet.  She huffed.  "I need Auntie's help."

"You have very good taste," he assured her.  "Wear what you want to look nice in."  She considered it and pulled down something then put it back because it had a huge stain.  She pulled out something else and looked at it, putting it down and then tights and shoes.  Then she went to shower.  She came out to find a different dress.  "Daddy, you didn't like that one?"

"It's too small," he called from the kitchen.  She put on panties then ran out to pounce him.  He smiled.  "You need to shop."

"I can take Auntie?  And Auntie Pepper?"

"You can, yes."  She beamed and ran back in there, coming out in a pretty dress that her Auntie Pepper had gotten her for her birthday.  He smiled.  "That's a really good choice.  I'll change my shirt."

"We look fine."

He kissed her.  "Pepper's wearing a darker shade so I need to change to one."  She nodded and settled in to sip the milkshake he made her.  "How was gymnastics?" he asked as he headed for his closet.

"It was fine.  One of the older girls was a bit sick and the coach had a yell at her mother for it.  One of the girls in my class was sore but I don't know when she fell."  He looked out at her.  "We didn't talk about it, I only gave her a hug, Daddy."

"That's very sweet of you, dear."  He came out buttoning up a new shirt.  She smiled at him.  "C'mon, we're going to be in the lab."

"Maybe I should wear pants so we can be under the car together," she chirped, walking beside him.

"We can do that later.  Those are informal pictures.  These are Stark portraits."  She giggled and took his hand to hold on the way down there.   The photographer was waiting and so was Pepper.  He had her arranged so Callia hid the baby but Pepper was sulky so Tony let her pick the pose and it went better.  Callia was hugging the baby during a few but that was fine.  Then they took an official portrait for the Stark page of Wikipedia - because every now and then Tony went in to edit it.  The photographer told him when they'd be done and left them to tinker or whatever a set of Starks did with a CEO staring over their shoulder.

Callia stripped off the dress, showing her favorite leotard underneath.  She found her shorts in the bathroom and put them on - because her father insisted she wear shorts or pants over them in the offices - then she and her father moved to tinker with the cars.  She loved the cars.  He had promised to teach her all about them and how to drive some year.  It was so cool.

Pepper watched, smiling and sipping her tea.  Callia was so like Tony sometimes.


Natasha and Dawn walked into the apartment that night.  "Is Fury's dynastic plans going to happen?" Clint teased with a smile.

"Natasha was still almost form perfect," Dawn quipped.  "She was missing some of the more modern moves.  He gave her the book to study and suggested a few places to look.  I'm excused.  I do not know enough about anything."  She sat down.  "Which is nice."

"You want fencing?" Clint teased.

She shook her head.  "Not really.  I can't use a foil.  I need something a bit heavier."  She took a kiss.  "How did your scores go?"

"Decent.  I played it down since they'll be handed over."  He let her cuddle, pulling Natasha down on his other side.  "So?"

"I suppose I can," she decided.  They both grinned at her.  "I know Dawn is on for the 10K with Coulson.  The posted scores were very decent.  Neither one was pushing themselves but decent."

"I never push myself on the treadmill," Dawn said.  "I figure if I have to all-out run for a reason then I'll be okay for a shorter but still long-enough distance."

"Probably," Clint agreed.  "You'll need to run faster during the run though."  She sighed but nodded.  "At least we don't have to get sponsors like the ones in high school."  Natasha laughed, giving him a squeeze.  "I'm on for the 5K."

"As am I," Natasha agreed.  They smiled at Dawn.  "We'll be waiting for you."

"Please do."  They laughed.   She stretched.  "We'll figure it out."

"We will," he agreed.  "We'll do our best.  The other agencies will quit patting us on the head like we're puppy dogs following them around."  She gave him a squeeze.  "There's a lot of other sharp shooters."

"Yes, but not many with a bow," Dawn said with a grin.  He smirked back and got comfortable, putting his feet up.  "Who's making dinner since I'm grounded from the kitchen?"

"The pizza place I called ten minutes ago," Clint said.  They both grinned at him for that.  It was good and they could handle it.  Dawn got up to pay the pizza guy and take the food.  She had to stab him but that was about how things happened around her.  "Does that mean it's free?" Clint quipped.

"Maybe," Dawn said, handing them over.  "But I don't think you ordered live baby squid."  He sighed and called them.  They promised it was on its way.  The demon that had delivered got sent to Xander to kill.  They didn't want to scare the poor pizza delivery teenager.  They might never get delivery again if the new guy saw them killing the demon one.


Dawn showed up for the meeting about the various things.  She sat down next to her boss, who patted her on the back.  "What're you going in on?" she asked.

"5K.  Pepper talked me into it.  You?"

"10.  Phil talked me into it."  They sighed and shook their heads.  The coordinator team walked in behind Fury and she shifted to look at them better.  She heard their spiel about fostering inter-agency cooperation and held in the snort barely.  Tony didn't manage that and got a dirty look, then a second look.  When they asked for questions, Dawn raised her hand.  "The languages event.  Are demonic ones allowed?"

They looked at her.  "Demons have languages?"

"More than humans do.  I know one.  Is it allowed?"

"I...."  The team looked at each other, then shrugged.  "We're not sure.  We'll see and let you know by certified letter tomorrow."  She nodded.  "Any other questions?"

She raised her hand again.  "For those of us in the sharpshooter comps, we need a list of allowed weapons, customizations, and any other persnickety rules like those who're so used to having their earpiece in they'd need it during it."

"Earpieces are not to be worn during it, even if they're not connected," the lead one asked.  "Customizations?"  Dawn pulled out her gun and walked up to put it on the table in front of her.  "Why do you have it weighted?"

"I do better with heavier guns."  She shrugged.  "I couldn't carry one in my favored weight class on my thigh and conceal it, even magically."

She nodded, looking it over.   "We have a list of allowed weapons and excluded ones.   We can make sure of that and send you a copy of those as well."

"Thank you."  She put it back in her holster on the way to her seat.

"Do you do that on field missions?" the lead of the team asked.

"I'm a perky super assistant sort," she said with a smile.  "I'm an adjunct member.  If I'm in the field there had better either be an apocalypse battle or someone I really care for is in deep shit and I'm solving it."  A few agents laughed.  "Yes, I like you enough to save your ass too, dickhead."  She gave someone a head nudge.  "Even by accident when I got the person trying to kidnap me again."  She sat down.

"You said adjunct members could help," Fury quipped.  "Frankly, she's only on for apocalypse battles."  Dawn smirked at him.

"That's fine.  We have people in the FBI who use their consultants."  She made notes on who needed those.  "Should we send those here?"

"Stark," she said with a smirk.  "Care of Dawn Summers."  They nodded and one shivered.  She stared at him.  "Practical question.  When someone tries to kidnap me there, what's my limit and how would you like to handle that?"  Tony snickered, shaking his head.  "Don't even laugh.  The security team this morning had to save me from someone who was FBI and wanted to own me so I could help his caseload."

Tony patted her on the knee.  "We love you anyway, Dawn."

"Thanks, boss."  She smirked at him.  "By the way, he's still probably in my old storage room."

"I was wondering why you had gotten in there."

"Are you two...." one of the SHIELD agents asked quietly.  Tony glared at him.

Dawn stared at him.  "He's like my dad, dude.  Really.  He used to have to talk to me about bras."  The agent slumped down.  "Though he does give really great neck rubs."  Steve laughed from his seat.  "For those doing the swimming, they might need the suit rules," she noted to the team.  "Including if they can use those new porpoise penis skin suits."

Fury was trying not to react.  One of the team was cackling though.  "No, they can't use anything not Olympic standard, Miss Summers.  You?"

"No, I swim for enjoyment and teasing in a bikini.  Thanks anyway."

"Good to know."  He posted those rules and a few took them down.  "For runner's shoes, nothing that's not Olympic standard.  We will have EMT's standing by to help us."

"I'm bringing Dr. Pigalli," Tony told Fury.  "We like her more when we injure ourselves."

"Fine," he agreed.  "She can join my people."

"No, I'm not seeing your people," Tony said dryly.

"Especially not the nurse who told agents that they couldn't be parents because it was against the rules," Dawn quipped.

"Which one?" another agent asked.

"I know of three.  I helped Mom find the complaint forms," Dawn told him.  Tony looked at her.  "Not him.  Same nurse though."

"Are they on my desk yet?" Fury asked Joyce, who nodded.  "Good.  I'll handle that.  I may not like how many parents we have because it makes them have skewed priorities at times, but I understand that and work around it."

Dawn looked at him.  "I know some geeks who're working on a way to speed up what Roque's mother does for mortal men."  His eye went wide and he backed up.  She smiled.  Joyce looked back at her.  "He didn't want Patty to suffer, Mom."

"I'll talk with the boys later," she promised.

"I want to see if they can do it," Stark admitted.  "Let them, Joyce."

"Fine."  She turned back around and smiled.  "I'm very glad I'm not going to have to do it."

Fury looked at her.  "You can train."

"No I can't.  My doctor forbid it."

"That's reasonable.  Maybe next time," he told her.

She smiled.  "Perhaps.  He said two years."

He nodded.  Dawn got up to hug her mother then sat back down.  He looked at the qualifications team again.  "Any other rules we need to know?"

"I'll send you the full rule book for each event."

"Is fencing foil only?" one agent asked.

"Yes it is.  Standard fencing rules apply."

"Is there a mixed style martial arts event or just standard types?" Dawn asked.

"There is one but it's kickboxing."

She shook her head.  "No thanks."

One of the team looked at her.  "There is one but it's weapons centric."  She smirked at him for that.  "Daggers or other smaller hand-held items."

"Got it.  I need those rules too."  They nodded and made that note.  Tony looked at her.  "That's why I've been taking self defense since I was fifteen," she reminded him.

"True, you have."  He shifted in his seat.  He texted Pepper about the idiot from this morning.  She said they had finally told her after she had some tea and a snack so she wouldn't be too mean to him.  He snorted and sent one back.  She quipped and said they could come gather him.  "Fury, Pepper's finally released the guy she got this morning if you want him."

"I'll send someone," he said, sending a message out.  "Any idea, Summers?"  She dug the ID case out of her bag and tossed it at him.  He caught it one-handed and looked at it, nodding.  "His cousin works with us."  He tossed it at him.

He looked then back at Dawn.  "I'll tell his mom he was an idiot.  Did you hurt him much?"

"No.  He tried to gas me so I broke the cab into pieces and then I turned him into a mouse for easy carrying.  When the security team picked me up on my sixteen block hike back I changed him back and let them have him.  He might still be squeaking though."

"I'll take that into account when we have a talk later," that agent said dryly, turning back around and shaking his head.  He pulled out his phone to text his mother and aunt.  They were good southern boys, he would listen to his mother's butt beating and lecture.

Tony looked at her.  "You still have two others running around in there according to Pepper."

"Oops.  Didn't I change them back?"  She concentrated and did that.  "I caught 'em trying to talk to Callia about work stuff, boss."

"Thanks."  He sent that and she said she got their ID's.  "Fury, you need handcuffs of your own."

"I can go get them myself," he promised, sending that to the same agent.  "Going after his daughter?"

"Pumping her for intel on the suit stuff," Dawn said, waving a hand around.  "Did she like working on it, did it have servo motors or hydraulics.  That's when I stopped them.  Jonathan called me to tell me they were trying to chat her up in the caf.  He said later if I hadn't been there he would've called 'Drew."

Tony nodded.  "Andrew and Jonathan could make them very sorry for touching her."

"They are her favorite geeks," she agreed with a smile.

"They are," he agreed.  His phone beeped.  "Huh.  Xander needs me."  He disappeared.

Dawn rolled her eyes.  "At least he warned him."

Fury smirked at the qualifier team.  "It's only that insane at Stark."

"That must be nice," one of them agreed.  "It's all the geniuses probably."

"Quite likely," Dawn quipped, getting a few snickers from the other agents.  "You guys should've seen the Expo.  The food carts didn't even have real coffee."  A few agents moaned.  "That's why I bought one out and showed them how to do it the right way."  Joyce smiled at her.  "I even got them the good stuff.  If they got that far they're good geeks."

"Some of it was very interesting," one of the agents in the back of the room agreed.  "It was very good coffee too.  I had no idea that geeks lived on food like that."  Dawn looked back and nodded.  "Huh.  No wonder they're either rail thin and fragile or really heavy by the ones I've seen."

She smiled.  "The meanest ones are vegan."

"That's about usual," he assured her.  She smirked and turned back around.

"They confuse me so I'll leave it to the experts," Fury said dryly.  "Any other questions?"  A few more got asked.  Then they got dismissed.  "Summers, can I talk you into the marathon class?"

"Hell.  No."  She blipped back to the office.

Fury sighed.  "We need a few more who can move up to marathon lengths."  He looked at the team.  "Since we're technically shielding the SGC under us, are they eligible?"

"Yes," they decided.

"What about the ruling on that one agent?" he asked more quietly.

"We're not sure," they decided.  "We wouldn't let Thor due to his special skills.  Or Captain Rogers due to his."

"Then I'll tell him probably not."  They nodded and made that note then let him alone.  He sighed and went to find Coulson.  "They won't let Thor or Captain America compete."

"Then I'll find Dawn another running buddy," he promised.  "Are you picking up the white mice collection at Stark, sir?"

"Heading there now."  He went down to the garage, getting an agent to drive him.  New York was funny about him only having one eye sometimes.

Phil smiled and sent that at Xander.  Who told the SGC people there.  That way they were ready to be conscripted.  There were a few there he'd trust to be Dawn's running buddy.


Fury looked at the collection of tied up agents, staring at the guards watching them.  "All these?"

"They're the ones that turned back to human in here, sir," the head of security said.  "I had no idea we had more than three."  They heard a thump and opened the other storage areas down here to find the rest.  They found a mouse-sized hole that was around an ankle too so got him out of the structure of the building to hand him over.  "We'll ask Miss Summers if she has incident reports or anything."  Dawn came down with them.  "Thank you, Miss Summers.  Can you please limit it to six to pull a carriage for your niece?"

She smiled.  "I can do that.  I totally forgot about a few of them.  We might want to check Cheese's cage.  I think Callia found one too."  They radioed a guard upstairs to go check. 

Sure enough, he found Callia staring oddly at the former mouse that was in the shared cage of Carrot and Cheese.  He was mightily squished but crying on Carrot at the moment.  She helped them remove the front so they could get him out.  Callia told him he had to replace the litter box he had stepped on and broken and he sobbed he would, giving her a hug.  She looked at the guard.  "He's really weird," she said, letting the guard broadcast that back. 

"He probably was," Dawn said with a smile for them.  "Sorry, guys, I forgot I had changed you that way to keep you off my ass."  A few sniffled but let Fury haul them out.  She strolled off.  "Sorry, guys.  I'll stick to six and under."

"Thank you, Miss Summers," the head of security said.  "Four and under if possible?"

She smiled.  "I'll try to remember to make better notes and let you have them daily.  How about that?"

"That would be perfect, thank you, ma'am."

"Miss Summers," another guard asked.  "Why didn't you remember?  You usually have a very good memory."

"Someone is making me train for the agent olympics thing and it's ruining my concentration at work."  She shrugged and got onto the elevator.  She went back to her desk.

"Running more often shouldn't ruin her mind," Fury complained.

"She hasn't teased recently either," a lesser guard said quietly.  "I know the duo in Lab 7 have been worried about that."  The head of security nodded and made a note to Stark to ask her if there were more problems.  Fury gave them a funny look.  "Dawn's allowed two teasing days a month," he explained.  "She let one pass by.  She was wearing pants and a bun."

"I'm not shocked Stark lets her," he decided, walking the last few agents out.  They were huddled in the back of the van he had called for.  He got into the SUV and followed the van back.  They were very nice to tell him who they were, who they worked for, and why they had been picked up when Joyce chuckled and said that Dawn was usually more creative than white mice.

Fury just shuddered at remembering being a ferret.  He had some sympathy for these idiots.


Stark reappeared at HQ and stared at Fury.  "Xander found a few snukes being worked on by some fairly disreputable geeks."

"Please tell me they're in custody?" he begged, looking up from the paperwork.

"Slightly.  The FBI agent that Dawn cleared as being trustworthy had no idea what to do with them.  He liaisoned back with Coulson, who told him who to get, which is why Xander called me and McKay to deal with them.  They're in FBI custody and they're handing them over to my lab today."  That got a nod.  "For total dismemberment.  I'm not going to leave a single bit of that piece of shit bomb together."

"We do not need something like that getting free.  Are there others?"

"That agent's looking into it."

"Summers cleared him?"

"She ran minor background checks on agents out there to create a safe list for the team."  He smiled.  "She did good.  He's almost as uptight as Coulson but he has more emotions."  He looked back at the flash of light.  "We good?" he asked Rodney.

"All disabled.  They're tearing the components apart while the fissionables are already under double lock in the special safe area you set up."

"Good.  Thank you."  He looked at Fury again.  "The fissionables are going to Atlantis.  I trust them not to blow us all up.  Most of the time."

"Granted," he agreed.  "They're under us now."

Stark nodded, looking at Rodney, who smirked.  "Schedule it."

"I'll have Sheppard move it with Roque."  That got a nod and they went back to Stark.  Rodney was already talking with John, who had it planned.  Tony gave them his access code for that safe area, which wasn't used anywhere else.  That helped and they got it moved within minutes, before anyone else could hear.  The rest were being happily ripped apart and written down so they knew in the future.  Stark walked into his building and the guards all stood at attention.  He winced.  "How many tried for her this time?"

"She stored fourteen agents as white mice, sir.  We gathered them all to hand to Director Fury.  She said in the future she'd keep better track of them."

The other guard coughed.  "Carrot's cage front needs to be put back on.  We had no idea one had gotten so free as to go cohabitate with Cheese, sir."

McKay burst out laughing.  "That's so cute."  He went to the elevator.

Stark shook his head.  "Fourteen?"

"She claimed the jogging is killing her concentration," the first guard said dryly.  "She promised to keep it under six and try to give us daily reports of them."

"Thanks."  He went up on the next elevator, pausing at Dawn's desk.  McKay was there complaining about the level of coffee at the Malibu lab.  "I give each department money for coffee," Stark reminded him.  "They pick their own.  Fourteen?" he demanded.

"Sorry!  I forgot!"

"Bullshit."  He stared at her.  "Go get a new CT done."

"I don't have a concussion."

"Uh-huh.  CT, now, Summers."  He pointed.  She huffed but went.  "Then come see me in the lab.  You haven't even dick teased recently so I know something's wrong and apparently we need to have some girl talk time."  He walked off to check on his daughter's pets.  They were happily running around in their little playpen area, which was on top of an easily cleaned mat so they didn't crap on the rug again.  "Are they okay?"

"They're fine.  Why was that agent in there?"

"Apparently he pissed your aunt off and she turned him into a mouse."

"If I get more than one mousy I might have to name them after specific cheeses.  Do you think my first mousy would like to be American or Cheddar?"

"I prefer Swiss but go with Gruyere.  Something fantastic."  She grinned and petted the mouse, calling him that.  He went back down to his lab.  No Dawn.  He called the infirmary.  "Are you keeping her?"  He listened.  "How did she get a concussion?"  He considered it.  "I did not hear about that.  Did her mates hear about that?"  He smirked.  "I'll make sure, yes.  Thank you.  About how long ago?"  He nodded.  "I didn't hear a thing." 

He hung up and called Barton's phone.  "Are you busy?"  He kicked back.  "How did Dawn get a three-day-old concussion?"  He listened to that not amusing story.  "Yes, she does.  She forgot she had fourteen mouse agents here."  He listened.  "Ah, no wonder!  No, we have a Dawn rule.  Dawn is to go to the infirmary no matter what happened and how minor it was.  We had to make that rule during the week of stupidity when she didn't go right away after stabbing that agent in the eye with the taser spike." 

He listened.  "That's good to know.   I'll have our docs call over there.  Why did they take her there?  Oh, not considered an emergency facility even if she asked.  That's fine.  Yeah, I did have her scanned.  Thanks, Barton."  He hung up and called the infirmary back.  "They took her to St. Vincent's.   She told them it had been a car crash instead of an agent attacking her for being her." 

He hung up and considered it.  "I wonder if he was one of the mice."  He sent that text to Dawn's phone.  She admitted he might be a mouse but not here.  She couldn't remember if she had changed him or not.  She said Natasha had chased him so she had a better description.  He asked her for it and he knew that agent.  He had seen him earlier.  He had been arrested in LA.


Dawn sighed as she walked into the lab.  "The ER didn't say I had one."

"Well, duh, they're highly overcrowded and you left."  He looked at her.  "They got the records, including the signing yourself out AMA."

"They weren't going to let me sign myself out at all, Stark.  They thought I needed someone to pick me up and wouldn't let me call the security guys to do it.  Had to be a blood relative."

He snorted.  "That's stupid if you have guards who can do it.  We'll make sure that they know to call here."  He stared at her.  "Is that why you didn't dick tease that day?"

"No.  I had on something nicer but had to change.  There's not a lot of dick teasing clothes in my closet.  Somehow I have almost two empty closets right now."

"Pepper needs new clothes, your niece needs new clothes.  You can take them."

She shrugged.  "Maybe I'm scaling back."

He snorted.  "Girls like you don't have less than a bag's worth of clothes."  He stared at her.

"I'm not the girl I used to be."

"You still are, you just hide a slightly darker side now and then."  He rolled his stool over to stare at her.  "Problems?  They nagging?"

"No.  Not at all.  I'm just not in a flirty mood recently.  It happens."

"It doesn't just *happen*."  He stared at her.  "If I was a telepath," he said dryly.  She rolled her eyes as she walked off.  "Schedule a trip to take Callia and Pepper shopping later."  She nodded, waving as she walked off.  He did the sneaky thing and called Romanoff.  "What's wrong with her?"  He listened to her complain.  "She's got nearly two free closets?"  Natasha said something quietly. 

"Uh-huh.  I can have her conveniently sprain her ankle.  It's not something I want to do either."  He got comfortable and listened.  "That sucks, Romanoff.  Your wife didn't even flirt or tease for the last few weeks.  She just said she's not the same sort of girl she was before."  Natasha sighed and admitted she'd been having nightmares.  "Would that have something to do with the fourteen mice agents?" he asked dryly.  He heard her ask someone that.  They told her who had been brought in and he smirked at her growl.  "I don't know, but I know she's not acting normally.  She's not exactly upset but she's being quiet and not flirty. 

"She's almost edgy and I know you guys have been sparring again.  Maybe she is waiting for another attack.  Not totally sure.  I know the time in Malibu is going to hopefully help and I told her to take Pepper and Callia shopping because my daughter needs clothes."  He saw Dawn walking toward the door.  "Want to talk to her?  I don't care if you do tell her I'm nagging.  She knows I do it back."  He hung up.  He saw Dawn look up then glare at him.  He gave her a pointed look.  "Like I said, I'm not telepathic."

"I'm fine."

"You're not fine.  You're carrying at least one heavier weapon than usual because your usual walk is off."  She groaned and huffed off.  He had her brought back by Callia.  "Talk to them about it, Dawn.  She and I are going to see where she wants to shop."

"We have our shops," Dawn said.  "Did you want to go somewhere else this time?"

Callia shrugged.  "I need more leotards.  Can I get a camo one?"

"We'll see if we can find you one," Dawn promised, smiling and patting her on the head.

Callia looked at her.  "Why you have so many hidey spots?"

"It's been a long week," she told her.  "If we're going out I have to carry some extra weapons in case someone tries to take you and Pepper."

"That's why we have guard guys," Callia said, staring at her.

"That's very wise, daughter.  That is why you have guards."  Tony looked at Dawn.  "You're a last line, not the front line of defense."  She rolled her eyes and went to the bathroom.  "Talk to your spouses please."  He looked at his daughter, smiling at her.  "You do good things."

"Of course I do.  Auntie taught me how."  She hugged him.  "I need lots of clothes or little bits of clothes?" she asked with a grin.

"You've outgrown almost everything in your closet.  You need a lot of clothes, which should make your Aunt Pepper happy."  She beamed and danced around.  Dawn came out.  "Better?"

"I was fine before."

"You're out of sorts in ways that not even Midol will help," he said dryly.  "Or chocolate."  She sighed and shook her head.  "Are the Russians back?  In any format that they've shown up?"  She stiffened slightly.  Bingo.  Sometimes it was so easy to read Dawn's problems.  "Which ones?"

"No comment since you're a nark."

"Don't you think your Russian wife should know about them?"

"I'm pretty sure she realized it since she kicked one around yesterday."

He speed dialed Natasha again.  "So, Russians?"  He listened.  "Should I send an extra guard with them for the shopping trip?  No, Callia's out of clothes.  She's outgrown most everything."

"I don't need a bodyguard," Dawn complained.  "I don't."

"You do," he assured her.  "And so do Callia and Pepper.  You're the last line of defense, not the first one.  Remember when you used to enjoy shopping?"

"You don't like shopping?" Callia asked, looking upset.  "Why not?  Were they mean?  We can switch stores."

Dawn hugged her.  "I like shopping just fine.  I simply haven't went recently.  Which is why your dad is nagging me like I do him about forgetting to eat."

"Oh."  She nodded then hugged her.  "We'll remember how much you like it together."  Dawn smiled and gave her a squeeze.  Callia cuddled.  "Daddy, quit nagging."

"I'm going to."  He listened and huffed.  "Really?  That's fine, we can wait until LA then.  That'll be in two days.  Thanks, Romanoff.  Yeah, tell him he can."  He hung up.  Dawn stiffened.

Callia cooed, "Hi, Unclie, hi, auntie," in Dawn's ear.  Then she ran over to pounce her father.  "We shop in LA instead?"

"You are.  There was a huge bad guy spotted in town and I don't want him anywhere near you."

"Okay."  She snuggled in.  Dawn was on the floor holding her head while the three of them talked.  Dawn winced at something so clearly some yelling.  Tony casually got into Dawn's emails, smirking and sending one to Barton's phone.  He had sense and long distance weapons that would be more useful against the major bad guy that wanted Dawn to work for him.  How someone who was an evil overlord sort had found out about her he wasn't sure.  They could figure that out later.

He got a text.  //The overlord jackass is making her tense but she wasn't sure why, just sensed the possible trouble.  She's calming down and he won't get near the sprout.// Tony sent back a 'thanks' and put his phone down on the table again.  He looked at his daughter.  "Did you tell Aunt Pepper that you need to shop?"  She got into the video conference system to talk to her.  Tony waved.  "I authorized this call."

Pepper smiled.  "I'm talking with someone for the next two minutes, Callia, and then we'll talk?"

"Okay, put me on hold."  Pepper smiled and did that.  She looked at her father.  "Is there another big bad guy?"



"He wants to be your Aunt Dawn's husband I think."

"He's a dumbass.  She has one of those."

Tony nodded.  "She does, but no swearing, daughter."

"Still true.  I'm sure Auntie Dawn can kick his butt."

"If not, I know some who certainly can."

Pepper came back.  "I heard.  Who?"  She smiled.  He sent her that email.  She read it and looked that name up.  "She'd never go for a genocidal idiot like him."

"He's got high tastes on a beer budget," Tony said dryly.  "She's got to go shopping.  Badly."

Pepper smiled.  "I'm an expert at that too."

"We're going in LA," Callia cooed.  "So bad guy can't get near Auntie."

"I like that idea.  We three girls can go."  Callia smiled at her.  "Is she down there?"

"Talking to her spouses," Tony said smugly.  "I talked to Romanoff about her not being flirty for days."

"I noticed that but I figured they were all worn out from all the recent things."  She shrugged.  "We leave in two days."  Callia beamed and nodded.  "We'll go through your closet so we can donate things.  It's the responsible thing to do."

"Okay.  I like that.  That way other girls can have pretty dresses too."

"Yes they can," Tony agreed.  He patted her on the back, making her belch.  "In the pickles again?"  She nodded.  "Manners?" he prompted.

"'Scuse me, Auntie Pepper."

"I've done it a lot recently too.  The baby makes me burp a lot."  She saw Tony look at his phone.  "New problem?"

"New email just hit her system."  He opened it and frowned, forwarding it to Fury, Barton, Romanoff, Coulson, and Pepper.  Pepper's growl made him happy.  He smiled.  "We're going to deal with that."

"Yes, we will."

Dawn flinched again.  "Get out of my email.  That's private stuff."

"The Supreme Court said that an employer can snoop in on any employee emails, lockers, or anything else that's company owned," Tony quipped.  "Why didn't you want us to know?"

"I'm discouraging him."

"Good!  We're going to help with that."

She groaned.  "I'm not fifteen, Tony."

"I never said you were but I wouldn't take that on by myself.  Did you think that he might have been behind some of those mice agents?"  She winced.  Then rolled her eyes because apparently one of her spouses said something.  "When did we spot him?"

"Four days ago when he showed up while I was getting you that specialized coffee sludge.  He walked up to me and tried to chat me up but I said I was busy and at work.  I looked him up when I got back.  That night I got an email, shot back that I was not interested, I was more than happy with how things were in my life currently."

"Hmm," Tony said, looking at Pepper, who was still scowling.  He quirked an eyebrow up.

"Fury said it's not his agents' jobs to deal with that issue for her."

"It is, because they put out a contract on Clint," Dawn said.  "Which I've already had words with someone about.  Repeatedly."  Clint apparently said something hotheaded because she winced.  "I did tell you.  I blatantly left it in your bow case, dear.  I also noted it to Phil.  Who apparently hasn't been at his desk in days."  She winced when Natasha asked why she wasn't told too.  "Because I'm still trying to see if he has one on you.  I figured he'd share.  One of them."  She leaned forward to rub her forehead.  "I did tell him.  I did tell Phil."

"You forgot to tell us," Tony said.

"I sent you an email."

"I never got it."  He got into his own email account, not finding it.  He and Pepper shared a look.  She got their IT people to look for the intrusion.  "Huh, he's a hacker."  Dawn moaned.  "Yup, he's going down."  He put Callia down.  "We'll be right up, Pepper."  He hung up and they walked out.  Dawn followed, going to talk in there from the couch.  Pepper got out of his way so he could get into the system more heavily.  JARVIS was getting huffy but yay.  They found out why, and the intrusion, and then how it had happened.  "Not even from one of my systems.  How cheesy."

"Then he should be a mousy too," Callia quipped with a smirk for her daddy.  "He needs to be a mousy."

"He might be later," Dawn muttered.  "I figured it would cause a panic and get me in trouble if I did that to a world leader."

"He's not really a world leader," Tony said dryly.  "He's a wannabe.  By the way, you're worth more than him."

"I knew that," Dawn said.

Tony smirked.  "Give them mean ideas, Dawn.  They need the really mean ones.  Before your knights go after him for you."  He looked at Andrew since he was in the doorway.  "Evil overlord sort?"

He waved a hand and snorted.  "Please!  I did better and I was the nicest of the three of us."  He looked at Pepper, smiling.  "MB says that there's some sort of pregnancy fashion show next week.  She was wondering earlier if some day they'd do guy pregnancy fashion too."

"They might," she agreed.  "Thank you both.  I'll look it up to get an invitation."  He smiled.

"I want what you have on him," Tony said.

"Already coming up, boss.  Jonathan said he's a woose he would've pointed the jocks at to spare himself."  He walked off.  Dawn was clearly having a mental argument with her spouses.  He'd check on her later.  She had been more pouty than Buffy recently.


Fury looked at the agent in front of him.  "It's not our job," he told Coulson.

"It is our job.  He's put out a contract on Barton, sir."  He handed over the notice Dawn had left him.  Fury read it and glared.  "She's tried to have it removed a few times.  She was trying to be subtle and warn us in ways that he couldn't compromise.  Stark's not sure if some of the attempts to get her haven't been from his people."

"That's our job then.  Barton?"

"They're having a discussion about what she knew, has done, and all that.  She hadn't told Romanoff because she wasn't sure if he could see her doing that."

"Interesting.  Why does he want Dawn?"

"He's got some minor magic himself.  She's perky, pretty, well liked, would make a good co-regent with him."  Fury shuddered.  "He thinks he can keep her contained and try to make her happy enough until she gives in.  She's been undermining his threats without us realizing it.  Until Stark got onto her about her attitude change that wasn't related to the three-day-old concussion."

"Why was that?"

"Some agent attacked her on the street.  They may have gotten away but she got taken to St. Vincents instead of Stark's infirmary by the ambulance crew."

"Not good."

"Protocol.  They're not an ER."  He crossed his arms over his chest as Natasha walked in.  "They still arguing?"

"No, we're making plans.  Dawn has done an excellent job getting around him and his plans.  She was trying to let us know but we never realized it.  His last one said she could bring Callia with her when she came to be his queen."

"Will they have enough guards in LA?" Coulson asked.

"I would hope so.  Using some of my contacts, there's three people that have tried to take the contract on Barton's life."  Coulson growled.  "They were stopped, twice by Dawn and once accidentally by a rookie."

"I wondered who that was that had been run off," Fury admitted, grimacing.  "Why are they going to LA?  Here is safer."

"Pepper's speaking at a business meeting in two days," Natasha said.  "She's bringing Dawn with her and now Callia because she could use some shopping time.  She's outgrown everything."

"I can take Callia shopping," Joyce called.

"It's not safe," Phil said.  "The idiot overlord wannabe is more than willing to let Dawn have custody of her when he marries her."

Joyce snorted.  "Over his dead body."  She smiled sweetly.  "Have I met him?  I know I got a nice invitation to lunch from someone who supposedly wanted to interview me.  We're doing it here in the caf."

Phil took that notice to look at, nodding.  "He is.  He was going to walk in here like he belonged here."  He handed it to Natasha, who read it and handed it on.  "Romanoff...."

"He will not make it to dinner."  She strolled off.  "Joyce, please remember your taser."

"I am, dear."

"Good."  She went to get a few things, telling Clint and Dawn on the way.  They wished her happy hunting.  Barton was still growling.

Fury looked at Coulson.  "They'll need a guard."

"I'm sending Barton anyway," he said dryly.  "He can guard all three and Callia will listen to him where she won't the security team Stark has.  She considers them big playmates most of the time."  He strolled off talking to Xander.  Xander yelled at Clay, who said he had some bored people with an evil smirk.  Phil shared what had shown up recently as far as he knew.  Cougar volunteered to help Natasha, being sent to talk to her.  She might need a sniper and couldn't have her favorite one, but he would do.  She agreed and they went hunting together.

"They're the top of the dangerous animal food chain," one of the rookies quipped when he saw them walking past to one of his buddies.

Barton got that one with the training crossbow he used for surprise, painful shots to correct problems.  "So are the rest of us."  That one winced.  "I'd go back to training."  He ran back in there.  Clint looked at the other one, who shrugged.

"I have no idea who the guy was outside of not being an agent.  You can't be an agent with hair like that, sir."

"He's one of the better snipers in the US Army.  He was Delta trained."  The guy shivered and nodded, walking off.  "You'll meet him if you make it to training with Alexander's people."  He walked off, still seething at that idiot wannabe.  Dawn calmed him down by telling him she had dealt with one of his minions earlier.  He paused and considered that.  He asked how.  Natasha echoed that.  They heard she had him nicely tied up in the security area of the apartment building.  He had tried to gas rag attack her on the treadmill.  Natasha said she'd get him.  Clint grumbled but got summoned upstairs.  "Yes, sir?" he asked as he walked in.

"You're going with the group going to Malibu as *security*."

"Can't get much more secure than with me there," Clint agreed, nodding at Clay when he appeared.  "Problems?  I know Natasha borrowed Cougar."

"Jensen, John, and I are going with the happy family.  Jensen's going to be on Callia's guard and only on her.  John is on Pepper's.  You're going as the hidden one and I'm going as the more formal one on Dawn."

"Got it," he agreed.  "That'll solve some tension and I need to help her shop anyway.  She's got nearly two free closets."  Clay shook his head with a moan.  "She hasn't even teased recently.  She got battle tense and was trying to handle things.  And did manage a few things."

"I heard.  Your handler nerd and his husband have been chatting."  He gave him a smug look.  "Anything you'll want?"

"They're probably going to stay at the Malibu house, not sure," Barton said, asking Dawn that.  "They are.  It's pretty secure and has JARVIS there as the main unit."

"Good to know."

"Including the original tinkering lab," Barton warned.

"I'll keep my idiot tech support boy out of it."

"Callia will want to go tinker.  She does when she's stressed."

"He can handle that."

"She'll probably try to talk him into going to the zoo so she can see the penguins."

"He might like that," Clay admitted.  "He's been missing his niece again."

"She can't visit?"

"His sister doesn't want her around the trainees."  They shared a look.  "He's going to video chat and see if she and Callia want to become penpals."

"That'll be good.  She wants more friends her own age."

"Beth's a few years older but not much."  He looked at Fury.  "Any orders beyond letting them get back here safely?"

"The girls are taking Callia shopping.  She's outgrown everything," Clint said dryly.

"Figures.  They're girls, they shop," he said dryly.  He disappeared to lay out the priorities.  John could lose his uniform for a few weeks.  Clay had no idea John had been the intelligence gatherer of the demigod and fully god community.  That explained how he had met Natasha back when she was a young woman.


Clint walked up to Dawn's desk with lunch, handing her the bag with hers.  She smiled weakly.  "You can't just talk?"

"I wasn't sure we weren't bugged.  We've found a few extra ones here."

He nodded.  "I checked, we did have one.  So he heard me begging you for mercy last night."  He settled beside her on the floor with his back against the wall beside the door.

She looked at him.  "You can have a chair."

"Pepper, it okay if I sit here and stare at her?"

"We have a meeting in about an hour," she said, coming to the door.  "Use a chair, Barton."  She smiled at them.  "Have a good lunch.  You could use the admin breakroom."

"I have to finish the slideshow," Dawn admitted.  Pepper took it to do.  "I can."

"Fix that, Dawn.  You three are my favorite crackhead, smutty romance novel."

"Yes, ma'am."  She looked at him.  "Breakroom?  It should be empty."  He nodded, getting up and following her in there.  She settled in and opened her lunch, moaning in pleasure.  "You're fantastic."

"I am," he agreed with a grin.  "Which is why I spoil you rotten."  She grinned and nodded, digging into her lunch.  He ate a bite, chewing while they had one of their talks.  He understood her points, and they were great ones, but he still wanted to know.  That way he could take some extra precautions.  Dawn pointed out she had put that note into his bow case two days earlier.  He had apparently not played with it.  He agreed he hadn't.  He had been in trainee hell land again.  She laughed and ate another bite, smiling at him. 

He went over what she had done and it was a good way of stopping things since she wasn't sure who the idiot had compromised.  She admitted she had brought in Agent Sitwell, which surprised him but she said she knew him well enough to know he wasn't compromised.  He sent a text message to Sitwell, getting back a report email.  He read it over, nodding at it.  "That's a good bit of work," he agreed, sending that to Coulson.  Phil said he had just seen that and they were talking.  Clint put his phone back up and sent a thought at Dawn, making her blush.  He stared at her.  "You do protect us very well and it was nice that someone realized you were.  I should've paid more attention."

"I tend to relax more at home than I do here anyway."

"I get that.  This building isn't all that secure."

"Some areas are," Dawn said dryly.  "Not all of them."  He nudged her foot with his.  She smiled and dug back in.  He finished his and escorted her back to her desk so she could finish that presentation for Pepper's meeting.  She asked if he was assigned to guard her body today so he leered and nodded.  "At least I get handsome guards," she said with a wink.

"You do.  Very competent ones too."  She grinned.

"Aww, mushy again," Tony said as he walked up to them.  "Pepper, meeting."

"Bathroom," she called.

"She did what we wanted and we didn't realize," Clint said.  "It's being handled."  He looked at her.  "You three, me, John, Clay, Jensen.  Jensen is Callia's guard.  John is Pepper's.  Clay's yours and I'm just helping."

She kissed him on the cheek.  "That'll be great."  He gave her a hug.  She cuddled back.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  Next time, open mouth and spew?  We don't mind you spewing."

"You told me to quit spewing."

"Only about the bad cabbies that kept hitting on you.  Not about this stuff."  He stared at her.  "Did you ask Fury?"

"I asked Mom if she could ask him to pull up a real background check.  He said no."

"I'll yell at him later."  He kissed her on the nose.  "Go be perky and assistant-like."  She nodded, going to check on Pepper.  "Jensen's going to introduce your spawn to his niece."

"My spawn might love having someone who knows computers as a penpal."

"Not a spawn, Daddy.  He's a scary comic book guy," Callia said, bounding up the hall with Roomba dog and Jonathan.

"Not that sort."  He winked at her. 

She giggled and hugged him then Clint.  "If I need to be a scary comic book sort some day I'll let you and Auntie Natasha help me pick out my uniform.  That way I look scary but cool the same way she does and you do."

He smiled.  "If you need one, we'll help train you too, sprout."  She grinned and bounded off with the modified roomba.

Jonathan looked at him.  "We're already working on a new spandex material for body armor.  Dawn could use some in a catsuit.  They look really hot on her."  He looked at Tony.  "MB is insane."

"She's not.  She's a girl.  Sometimes they're like that."

"Amen," Clint muttered.  He still got pinched by Dawn on her way past him with Pepper.  "Want escorted?"

"If he's in the building, I'm killing him," Dawn quipped.

"He invited your mom to lunch in the HQ caf," Clint said.

She turned to stare at him.  "Excuse me?  He went near my mother?"

"We had no idea until she told us."

"Huh.  Mom and I need to have a chat.  Then he and I need to have a chat."

"I think that's why Natasha and Cougar are going to find him," Clint quipped back with a smirk.

She gave him an evil smirk.  "He's at the Raddison.  Couldn't get a good enough room at the higher priced places."  She strolled off again.

Clint called that in.  Natasha thanked him and found his room.  They could toss it while he was out.


Joyce smiled at her lunch meeting.  "Good afternoon."  She shook his hand.  "You didn't mention what sort of interview you wanted to do.  Or about what?"  She settled herself back in her seat, sipping her tea.

"We're doing a piece on your daughter."

"Buffy or Dawn?"


"Dawn's a very sweet girl."  She smiled.  The man settled in across from her to ask her questions.  She answered in the most vague fashion she could about most things.  Really, what sort of scary overlord wanted to know what designer her daughter favored the most?  Or shoe maker?  Did this guy have a crush on Dawn too?  "Really, she doesn't pick favorites that way.  She more picks up outfits that she looks good in.  She's never been the designer sort.  That was always her sister."

He nodded, making that note.  "What about now?"

"Now, we browse and find something nice here and there."  She smiled.  "We never go directly to any one store.  Outside one shoe store that carries her size.  It's pitiful that we can barely find any in her size."

"A particular designer?"

"No, unfortunately the only store we've been able to find her size shoe in actually sells to exotic dancers.  She does nice in the heels but even she wishes she could find some flats at times."  The reporter swallowed hard and she smiled.  Underneath the table a slight blue haze was being released from a vial in her pocket.  "She'd desperately love to find some smaller heels for a few colors that she can only get in six inch ones."

He nodded, starting to sweat.  "That's interesting.  Any of the designers might have that size?"

She laughed.  "Dawn would never pay more than a hundred dollars for a pair of shoes.  She's got sense.  Even if she does like being a bit of a flirt now and then she does have good sense about her clothes.  She's very much a sale shopper.  That's how she saved an impressive amount for her college fund."

He nodded, writing that down.  "That's always a good trait.  I'm sure she makes a great salary there."

"She does.  I'm proud she earns it."  One of the other agents started to say something and she gave him a pointed look.  "I made new tea for the whole admin area if you wanted some."

"Maybe I do, it'll go nicely with my salad.  Thanks, Mrs. Summers."

"You're welcome, Agent Piers."  He grinned and went up to sound the alarm that they had some sort of chemical release in the cafeteria.

Phil heard and smiled.  "What color was it?"

"Blue.  Very light blue.  Looked like blue smoke."

"It'll only bother you if you're drinking something with caffeine.  It's got minimal effects, including a mild hallucinogenic."  Fury looked at him.  "It's been in my bottom desk drawer for a few months now, sir.  I had planned on using it for interrogations."  Fury shuddered.  He smiled.  "You did allow me to learn."  He walked in there.  "Joyce."  He kissed her on the cheek then slugged the other guy.  He went down.  Phil looked at her.  "You took the antidote?"

"Of course.  If not, I did try mushrooms once."  She handed him the vial with a grin.  He slightly smirked back and let her be taken to the infirmary for a check.  Agents came in wearing gas masks to gather the idiot.  Phil followed Joyce to make sure she was fine since her husband was at Stark for the day.

Fury looked at him then at her.  "That was damn dangerous."

She snorted and patted him on the cheek.  "A mother is always the most dangerous being when someone's threatening their children."  She walked off on Phil's arm.  "That's got a faint odor but thankfully it was fried fish day."

"It does but it's nicely floral for the most part."  He looked at her.  "I can take you to Stark's infirmary."

"I'm sure the nice doctors down here won't be too evil.  They weren't when they helped with that second tumor."

"We've had an almost total change of staff since then," he admitted.  "We miss some of the older ones."  He walked her in there.  "Doctors?"  They looked over.  "She used a mild hallucinogenic on a person during an interrogation."

"We can put her in quarantine."

Joyce laughed.  "I did take the antidote."

"It's still standard protocol."

"Not really," Phil said.  He pulled the rule book off the shelf to look that up.  The doctors were glaring.  He stared at one.  "It does not say that."  He closed it and put it back up.  "Let's get you to Dr. Pigalli.  She'll probably giggle over all this.  She does whenever Dawn turns idiots into mice."  He took her with him.  The doctors tried to stop him but the agents they sent all backed down.  "We're going to Stark so her daughter can fuss over her."

"Let us drive you, sir," one said.  They went down in the elevator together.  "I don't blame you," he said once they were in the SUV.  "Those doctors are weird and grabby about certain people.  Two of the new trainees got the same feeling."

"Any idea why?" Joyce asked.

"No clue, ma'am."

"Huh.  Could they be doing experiments of their own?" she asked Phil.

"It's the most likely cause or they're in there to find someone like another strong ATA carrier."

"A what?"

"Something from the SGC," he said.

"I heard rumors that someone was trying to overrule the director taking them in and trying to get the city especially from them."

"There's so much politics about that," Phil admitted.  "Including the president butting in."

She snorted and patted his hand.  "I can spank Loki just like I did my girls, Phil."  He smiled at her.  They pulled into the garage and they got out.  "Thank you, Agent...."

"Tys, ma'am."

She shook his hand.  "Thank you, Agent Tys.  You have a better afternoon."  He grinned and got back in to drive while Phil escorted her.  "We do have some very nice agents."

"We do.  Thankfully they can lose that in the field," he agreed.

She pinched him on the cheek.  "Including you."

"I am at home," he agreed.  She laughed.  He took her up to the infirmary.  He found the book he had written out for the doctors, opening it to the right poison.  "She said she took the antidote."

"That's fine," the nurse agreed, helping her onto the bed so they could check her over.  "You look fine but we'll watch over you just in case, Joyce."

"Thank you, Missy."  The nurse smiled and left them alone.  She looked at Phil.  "So, do I get to go stab him?"

"I wish but no.  He's the head minion.  His boss is being hunted by Natasha and Cougar."

"Carlos is a sweet boy who needs a good woman to knock him down and play with his hair."  Phil blushed.  She patted his cheek again.  "Go check on Dawn?"

"I can do that."  He walked out, smiling at Bruce.  "It's a just in case observation."

"I heard.  Who?"

"The head minion of the person who wants Dawn.  He invited her to lunch at SHIELD's caf."

Bruce snorted.  "Not even Stark's that overconfident."  He walked in there to kiss her.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, dear.  I picked one that wasn't lethal and was only mildly mind altering.  If I'm affected it'll be like I tried 'shrooms again."  He laughed and hugged her.  The nurse helped him get onto her bed so he could hold her.  It was nice.  She snuggled into his shoulder and they talked about what he'd been doing all day.


Phil ran into Barton upstairs waiting.  "Meeting?"

"Yes.   Stark said it's over boring things that he didn't want to talk about."  He looked up from his magazine reading and pointed.  "That way by four doors."

"That's fine.  I know where the meeting rooms are.  Are you three all right?"

"Fine, sir."  He grinned.  "The lunch thing with her mother?"

"Joyce took the blue vial from my bottom desk drawer."  Clint shuddered.  He smiled.  "Only a few agents might be affected since they were in the cafeteria.  Find out what's wrong with our infirmary staff."

"Two of them are looking at private genetic research topics recently and the new head doc is psychotic.  As in lost his license in England for killing patients for fun."

"Interesting."  He headed back there.  They had the antidote out.  He administered it.  "There," he told the last one with a slight smile.  "That should help."

"Why did you give them that?" one of the nurses demanded.

"Because that's the antidote to the poison, which I made."  The nurse backed up looking scared.  He smiled slightly at her.  "I doubt these nice agents have time to have a mind trip today."  He looked at the director.  "Our head doctor lost his license, sir?"

"I had not heard that.  How did you?"

"Someone wondered and did a more thorough background check."

"I'll ask her."


"I'll ask him then."  He stared at him.  "How dangerous is that?"

"Very mild.  If you've been ingesting caffeine for the hour before you were hit with it, it'll be a bit stronger.  I never keep the most lethal things I learned in the open."

"Good.  I like that policy.  Even if we did have to remove a few stashes of them here and there."

"They had been in my office, sir.  I believe someone removed them before I used them on him."

"Probably.  I'm going to let Barton or Romanoff study the same way you did."

"I'll gladly share my notes from the course and the extra books I found, sir."

"Good."  He walked off.  "I know it's not him."

"Head minion."  Fury smirked evilly, going to help with the interrogation.  Phil looked at the glaring doctor.  "We are a paranoid bunch here.  Usually for very good reasons."  He looked at one of his former field agents.  "How is your girlfriend?"

"She got smart and dumped me last year," she said.  "Said I could never be normal enough not to worry about things and she didn't want to be paranoid."  Phil undid the straps for all of them.  "Can we help with this worm who believes he's worthy of Dawn?"

"If you want.  I know Agent Romanoff probably needs a better background check done if she hasn't done one yet.  I know the head minion downstairs might not like his future but I doubt he'd willingly turn."

"Pity.  It'd save us some work."

"Perhaps.  Then again, as someone noted, he's a big fan of genocidal operations."  She grimaced but nodded.  He walked over to one, checking her over without any outward signs.  "You'll be fine."  She smiled and relaxed.  "Paperwork to Agent Hill tomorrow."

"I have an appointment the next day, Agent Coulson."

"That's reasonable.  There's some extra forms you can do, starting today."  He sent that text message to Maria, who brought them down to go over them with her.  "Feel free to recommend Tara's doctor to her," he quipped with a smile.

Maria smiled back.  "A lot of us like him."  She went over the paperwork.  "How certain are you?"

"I'll know officially in two days, ma'am."

"That's fine.  I'm your first stop once you're here."  She nodded.  "The second is to HR to amend your file.  That way we have an up-to-date contact for you."

"I went to a bank," she said quietly.

"That's fine as well.  We still need one."  She nodded.  "If not, it falls to myself or the director to make medical decisions if you're that injured."

"Understood.  Can I just name you?  I have a mother but she'd panic and wail.  She doesn't handle stress well."

"You can or another agent.  That's totally reasonable.  A lot of us don't have people we'd want called."  She got smiled at.  "Tara totally threatened our old infirmary when someone else she held that for was shot and they weren't acting fast enough.  I did not know she knew that sort of language until then.  Before then I thought she was mousy, shy, and polite."  The agent giggled.  "Pick someone you trust who can handle high pressure stress decisions.  That's the most important part and make sure they know and what you want."

"I can do that, ma'am."

"Good."  She handed her the next form, letting her fill it out.

"There's no pregnancies allowed," one of the nurses sneered.

Maria turned and shot her.  "Shut up.  She's not allowed in HQ and will be put on assignment somewhere easier for her to carry successfully but we are human and are allowed to bear future agents."

"Yes we are," Phil agreed, dialing upstairs.  "Sir, Agent Hill just had to shoot a nurse non-fatally.  Protesting that one of the ones hit was pregnant.  Thank you, sir."  He hung up.  "He said he expected better shooting from you, Agent Hill," he said blandly.   "He said you're due range time because clearly you missed."

"I was saving myself paperwork from killing her in the building and trying to be nice," she said back with an evil smirk.  The director stomped in.  "Sir."

Fury looked at the poor agent.  "You had to do it now?"

"Yes, sir.  Next year I'm due to have a hysterectomy.  They found a lump."

He nodded.  "Then I wish you well and talk to Joyce," he said, patting her on the shoulder.  "I'll find you a sedate desk job without much stress for a few months."

"Yes, sir.  Can I go to the Calgary office?"

He smirked.  "That's a cherry assignment but fine."  She grinned back.  He looked at the nurse.  "Her problem was?"

"She said agents aren't allowed to be pregnant," Phil said.  He looked at her.  "Not the one in Alberta?"

"Much too boring."

He nodded.  "It is, yes.  It's all monitoring work."

Fury looked at him.  "Why are you still in here?"

"I had to administer the antidote myself and had to unlatch the agents they had strapped down, sir."

"Huh.  Still against protocol."  He glared.  "Agent Hill, has that background check got done yet?"

"Nearly, sir.  She's compiling now."  Maria texted that to her.  She got an 'on the way, ma'am' back.

"Excellent."   When the agent walked in he held out a hand, taking her tablet.  "Is this one of the Stark ones?"

"Yes, sir," she said with a blush.  "It's the basic system but it does everything I need and then some.  It's got great features and it's the same price as the iPad I was wanting."

He nodded, reading over the files.  "Interesting."  He snapped and junior agents came in to arrest people.  He had them waiting in the hallway.  "On anyone else?"

"Sir, I've assigned my group to do the rest of them's checks," that lower agent said.  "They're working on them now." 

Maria sent a text to check.  "Three of them are.  One said you're not the team leader."  She corrected that and the file got started.  "Titms and I will have a good spar later, sir," she told the Director.  "We could both use one for training."

"Have fun with that," he said.

"Should we give them the standard offer for agents that have messed up?" the junior agent quipped happily.

Fury looked at her.  "What?"

"Suicide, sparring, or straight to gen pop, sir?"

"Oh, that.  Sure, if they want to commit suicide, I'm all for that.  Saves us money keeping them in detention."  The whole staff huffed off.  "Coulson, find me people who are capable."

"I'll ask Dr. Pigalli for a recommendation, sir."

"Thank you."  He walked off shaking his head.  Maybe the next set would be more liked than Stark's infirmary.  He had no idea why he felt he had compete with them but he was.


Dawn came off the flight and stretched, looking around.  Clay pushed her back.  "Sorry."

"Us first, Summers.  You're a last line, a bodyguard sort, not a front lines person."

"Yes, Clay."  She picked up the sleepy Callia.  "C'mon, we'll go put you down in your room."

Callia blinked her at her.  "We haven't decorated there in years."

"You're right, we haven't.  You've still probably got the princess bed."

Callia grinned.  "Princesses can be nice.  The one they keep showing on tv is and she has sense."

"She does, and that's a great thing," Pepper agreed, following them down the ramp, John helping her.  "Thank you, John."

"Welcome."  He smiled.  "Some day I'll find a woman who wants to do that for me."  She laughed and swatted him.

Dawn looked over at him.  "Andrew wants to spare MB pain."

"Don't even think about suggesting it," John warned.

"Too late," Pepper sighed.  "With the way the boys were sobbing at Hallmark cards the other day they at least got the hormones down."  They got put into the car, Happy had flown with them and was getting it ready after Jensen checked it over.  She sighed.  "More comfortable than the plane's seats."

"I don't know why they have to make them so uncomfortable," Dawn said.  "We're in them for hours."

"It's a design flaw.  The same as they're for people who are about 5'7" and about 160lbs."

"That sucks," Dawn decided.  She strapped Callia in.  The guys got in last and they were off.  "So, tomorrow, lab," she said, pulling out her phone.  She sent an encrypted message to Clint, who got waylaid by someone stalking him all over the airport with a camera.  Press people could be so annoying.  "Then we confirm for the speech."  Pepper nodded.  "We can hang out there all day or at the house.  The speech, then shopping?  Or did you want to do that instead of being at the lab?"

"Let's do that instead of the hanging out at the labs.  I know they want you to spoil them but you can do it while we're speaking."  Dawn nodded, fixing that.  "Then...."

"The next day we have free for additional shopping for the heir to the kingdom."  She smiled.  "Including the geek store that Jensen added to the list."

"That's fine," Pepper agreed with a smile.  "How many formals this holiday?"

"Three that I know of."  She checked.  "We're here for the P-A-R-A-D-E," she mouthed.

"We'll hear squeals of joy over that.  She nearly ran at the last one."  She looked at the guys.

"We can blend in and make sure it'll be fine," Clay decided.  Dawn grinned at him.  "When is he getting here?"

"Later tonight.  It took him two hours to lose the reporter and his buddy that got called in to try to corner him and ask him things.  I swear if I run into that TMZ guy that manages to sneak up on me I'm going to pin him down and ask him how."

"He has some sort of protection amulet from being sensed," Jensen said.

"He's a demi," John said with a grin.  "I've already had one talk with him about making people paranoid, especially ones I've got to help save."

She looked at him.  "I can usually save myself.  If you catch someone taking me again to put me in the pretty tower up the coast, go ahead, but otherwise I'm okay."

Clay swatted her on the shoulder.  "Shut up."

"I didn't know he was still doing that," John said.  "Jensen, he's one of you."  That got an eye roll.  "He didn't try your sister?  She's the sort of princess he would've wanted."

"By then she was a slayer.  He might've tried Cordy but she had money to protect her then."

"You'll be out of his range on your next birthday so hopefully he'll want someone younger," John said.  "You're also not the only one that got free by yourself."

Pepper shook her head.  "Tony had a total fit and hired two guards specifically to go get her.  Neither Phil nor Natasha were around that week."  She looked at him.  "He had her in some strange electrified cell with a huge mirror, a wardrobe full of pretty gowns, and a princess canopy bed in heavy cherry wood."

"There for a minute he looked at me like I was his Mina," Dawn said.

"You being someone's Mina Harker is a bad image," Clay said.  Jensen and John both stared at him.  "I do actually read," he said dryly.

"We made them watch the movie with us," Dawn said happily.  "The Gary Oldman version."

"I didn't like that one as much as _Dead and Loving It_," Jensen said.  "But it was pretty decent."

"I didn't get to see that.  Next Halloween, if you're here, we're having a movie night, Jen," Dawn said.


"When do I get to see those?" Callia asked, half asleep.

"It's rated R, so at least thirteen," Clay said dryly.

"The rules say seventeen," Pepper said.

"If her father wants to show it to her earlier, that's up to him since it's under seventeen accompanied by an adult."

"Good point."

Callia shifted to curl up on her side.  "I still like _Rocky Horror_ best."

Everyone looked at Dawn.  "Why do you think it was my fault?"

"I don't think Tony's seen it," Pepper said.  "Or else we'd have heard Frankenfurter jokes for weeks."

"Tara let us watch it," Callia said through a yawn.  "Me and babies and Auntie Maria.  Who said we cannot watch _Sound of Music_ ever again."

"She's not exactly the practical, singing nun sort," Jensen agreed.  Pepper swatted him.  Clay did too.  "Fine, I won't get her the soundtrack for her present."  He grinned at Dawn.

"I almost got them a vacation over there and booked them on the tour," Dawn admitted.  "Tara said no, she didn't have a passport and didn't really want to see Austria.  Maybe Australia but not Austria."

"You're both weird," Clay assured them.  They grinned at him.

"Thank you," Callia said quietly, then yawned again.  "I need to go potty before bed."

"We'll get you in the potty just as soon as we get home," Pepper promised.  "Then you can go to bed."  She shook her head.  "Do you have to go now?"  She nodded.  "Happy, she needs to go potty."  Really, Pepper could too.  The bathroom on the plane was tiny and her stomach didn't fit through the door sideways anymore.  Since you had to turn sideways to get out of the bathroom....

"There's a Burger King," he offered.  "Or we'll be home in twenty minutes."

"She'll never get up for that," Pepper sighed.

"Got it."  He pulled into the Burger King so John, Pepper, and Callia could use the bathrooms.  A few people stared but they smiled at the adorable sleepy kid who stumbled toward the bathroom repeating 'potty' over and over.


Clint slid into a cab at LAX with a sigh of pleasure.  He gave the address.  "You know that's Stark Mansion?" the cabby asked.  "That it's restricted access?"  He looked back and recognized the guy.  "You're that archer guy."  Clint nodded.  "Um, does Stark know you're going there, sir?"

"Yes he does.  He's expecting me there."  He called Dawn because that's what you did when you had a problem with a Stark thing.

"Summers," she answered.

"Short Stuff, I'm finally here.  Tell the nice cabby I'm allowed to touch those hallowed halls?"

"I was expecting you an hour ago, Hawkeye.  Did you have an extra layover?"

"Diverted landing to LAX due to that storm."

"Damn.  Yes, he's allowed to come to Stark Mansion."

"You're his assistant, that Summers woman," the cabby said.

"Yes I am.  Please bring him out here.  He's late for a meeting."

"Yes, ma'am.  Just making sure.  We can't be involved in anything criminal like."

"I understand.  See you soon, Archer boy."  She hung up.

Clint snorted but put his phone back in his pocket with a smirk.  The cabby took off.  He relaxed, watching the city as they drove up the interstate.  LA was pretty but New York was nicer about some things.  He paid when they got to the gates and got out, taking his bag up to the entry button.  He pushed.

"Yes?" JARVIS said.

"It's me, JARVIS."

"Ah, Agent Barton.  Come on up.  Miss Dawn is not sleeping well."

"Thanks."  He walked in and the gate shut behind him before opening the second one.  He walked through it and up to the house, finding it very silent.  JARVIS lit his way, even though he had a map so he knew where he was going.  "Thanks," he said quietly.

"You're most welcome.  We worry about Miss Dawn sometimes."

He smiled.  "So do we, JARVIS."  He found her room and slid inside, dropping his bag.  He could tell Dawn woke up but she didn't move or twitch.  "It's me."  She relaxed and smiled at him.  He stripped off and climbed in with her, letting her curl up against his side.  "Nightmare?"

"No.  Just not happy to sleep alone."  She snuggled in better and played with his chest.  "Bad flight?"

"Long flight.  Two sick Make A Wish kids in first class with me with hovering parents and a nurse between them.  Going to the Disney out here I guess.  Both kinda young, not older than Callia."

"It sucks when kids are that tiny and that sick."  She gave him a squeeze, making him squeeze her back.  "Has 'Tasha checked in yet?"

"No, not yet.  She and Cougar are in Eastern Europe working.  I trust him with her.  She'll be fine."

"I know.  Just worried."  She nuzzled him.

"Runny nose?" he joked with a grin for her.

"Kitty nuzzling.  She did it to me once then clawed me and huffed off because I petted her."

"I'm sure she was a confused kitten.  Now she'd just nuzzle."

Dawn looked at her.  "She'd claw me and make me beg her for more with nuzzles."

"Yeah, she would," he agreed, flipping onto his side to cuddle her better.  She sighed in pleasure.  He smiled, kissing her gently.  He could feel the standard gun and knife under the pillows. He could see the handle of her knife.  It'd be okay.  Her room only had one tiny window that was the three-horizontal-pane sort so no one could climb in it.  Probably replaced after the first time someone had tried to keep her.  The bathroom had a nightlight on.  The room was pretty plain.  Just a closet, a dresser, a desk, the bed and night table.  It didn't look decorator done, just like a normal dark oak bedroom suite.  Clearly Dawn had decorated it.  Or Joyce.  She yawned against his shoulder and fell asleep there.  He let himself drift off too.  It had been a really long flight from New York.


Clay flinched awake.  "Relax, Colonel, that was Agent Barton appearing," JARVIS said quietly.

"Thank you."  He relaxed and let himself drift off again.  He heard someone moving.  "If that's Jensen, tell him to go back to bed."

"It's Miss Potts."

"She okay?"

"She's fine.  The baby woke her."

"I hear it happens," he said.  As long as it did not happen to him.  Ever.  He heard John moving to check on Pepper then the front door.  He was sure Barton had locked it but they were paranoid people for a reason.  Clay stretched then put his hands back under his pillow on his two guns so he could sleep.  Being here in LA had some bad memories but this time there was no Max, no Snukes, no Wade, or Roque being on the wrong side.  They had come a really long way since Xander had shown up to save them.


Callia walked into the store with the adult clothes then looked at her aunt.  "Can't I shop yet?"

Dawn smirked.  "You have all day tomorrow to shop.  Today is Auntie Pepper's turn to shop."

"Fine.  I can give advice like Daddy does then."  She smiled at the saleslady.  "Auntie Pepper's coming.  She got stuck."

"We don't really do plus size clothes," she told Dawn with a smile.

Dawn smirked.  "She's pregnant, not fat."  She walked off.  "C'mon, Callia, you don't need exposed to the snotty attitude syndrome she has.  It might be contagious."  They walked Pepper back out.  "She said they don't do plus size clothes."

"The New York store is so much nicer.  I guess I can find someone else to do my next gown."  They walked up the street with the guys around them.  A few people looked and one stared. 

Dawn looked at the woman gaping in awe at Clint.  "He doesn't like to be drooled on," she hissed.  "Just say 'hi'."  She bounded over to say hi and chat with him.  Clint sent her a dirty thought but she smiled at Callia.  "Some day other geeks are going to do that for you."

"Yes they will," she agreed.  "Oooh, science store, Jensen!" she squealed and pointed.

He took the card for Calla's shopping from Pepper and went in there with her.

"Jensen, find me a new sample of the various minerals for meditation focusing please," Dawn called.

"I can do that," he agreed.

They walked into the next store and the woman in there gaped in awe at Pepper.  "I saw on the news, Miss Potts, but I thought you were only six months."

"Just into my seventh," she said with a smile.  "The baby's all huge and soaking happily in the bath in there."  The saleswoman smiled and led her to their maternity section.  "I would've went up the street but they thought me being unable to stand up out of the car on my own meant I was plus sized."

The saleswoman snorted.  "Some models may think a size six is plus sized but real women know better.  Beyond that, it's only the baby that's so big, not you."  She smiled.  "I have three.  I nearly slugged some woman for suggesting I buy size twelve jeans when I was an eight."  Pepper grinned.  "What were you needing today?"

"I have a speech to give tomorrow and while I have something nice I'm not against finding something else nice.  I also have three events to go to in the next four months.  I could also use some daily wear things."  That got a nod and they moved that way.  "Dawn?"

"I'm looking in my section, Pepper.  I don't need maternity clothes yet."

She smiled at her.  "Some day."

"Sometime in the future, when things are calmer."  She found a few things, holding them up.  "Wrong color."

"Dawn, don't get it because it's on sale," Pepper sighed.  "Get it because it makes you look nice."

"I usually do.  I keep the stuff I bought because it was on sale in the locker for emergency changing."  Pepper smiled and they browsed.

Clint walked in and swatted her on the ass.  "Thank you."

"Welcome."  She looked at a dress.

He stared at it then at her.  "Since when are you a matron?"  She gave him a look.  "Not even you could make that look hot, Dawn."

"I can so."

"You can't.  It's flowered."  He put it back and helped her find things that would be pleasing to look at.  Dawn's thinking process for work clothes was weird to him but he could handle it.  Natasha sent over her ideas.  He told her they were in LA so she sent a favorite shop over.  He said they'd go there later.

Clay looked at the current pile over Dawn's arm.  "Half of those are a bit girly or a bit matronly."

"Somehow she can make the most girly, innocent things look like she's a newly debauched virgin," Clint told him.  Dawn blushed but nodded.   She moved racks.  "You're not used to shopping with anyone."

"We shop all the time," Pepper called.  "She's not used to shopping with guys.  That was her sister."

"Xander claims it was his pack mule years," Dawn quipped. She looked at Clint.  "I do most of my shopping up the street.  We go here for business suits and stuff."

Clint stared at her.  "Try them on and we'll see."  She sighed but nodded, going to do that.  "Hey, Dawn, who was that Countess?"

"Um.... Countess?" she asked in a squeaky voice.

Clint smirked at  that telling noise.  "Yes, that one."

Pepper cackled.  "The woman walked up to her out of the blue at an event, laid a kiss on her that made her dip Dawn, and told her she'd love to be her future wife."  She went back to her trying on.  "We had no idea what to tell her other than Dawn was only seventeen at the time and she took a lot of dating."

Dawn leaned out.  "She was a nice looking older lady.  What I'd imagine Natasha would look like as a seventy-year-old woman.  Very couth, well dressed, in heels, hair done perfectly, perfect makeup, still slinky."  She pulled her head back in.

"You wear stockings?" Clay asked.

"Pantyhose are evil to women's bodies," she quipped.  "So yes, I do.  Sorry to have flashed you, Clay."

"I know where I belong, Dawn, and you're too young for me anyway."  He looked at Clint.  "Why the question about the old grand dame?"

"Because Natasha said something about a lawyer and a will."

"Excuse me?" Dawn asked, coming out in her first choice so he could zip it up.

He looked at it.  "Too tight around the waist."

"I have that problem a lot.  That's why I have a tailor I like.  He fixes those, hemlines, and bodice lines.  Fitting my height and my shoulders means that I'm either in baggy things until then or they're all too tight in the waist."

He looked at her.  "I'm not sure he could fix that."  She went back in there after he had unzipped it.  He sent a thought at Natasha, who sent back it was sent to the lab by courier.  "It'll be at the lab soon."  She came out in the next one and got a head shake.  "No.  Maybe if you were thirty."  She sighed and went back in there.  He looked at Pepper.

"We've had that problem.  I dress her like a mini me and Natasha dresses her like a younger, sluttier woman."  She shrugged.  "She needs some things that are more formal business suits, Clint."

"Sure.  John, make sure you let us know when the courier gets there."  He looked around.  "Still at the science store?"

"It'll be *hours*," Pepper assured him with a smile.  "Especially if they have models."

Dawn came out and Clint grimaced but shrugged.  So the maybe pile got started.  "She does love making model cars with her dad."  She went back in and came out in a business suit he grimaced but nodded at.  She smiled and hung that on the hook next to the door.  The last one she came out in he shrugged.  She put that in the maybe pile and put the one yes one on the counter.  The saleswoman came over to help her pick things out.

Clint watched, then took her up the street to a place he liked.  It was younger, meant for hipper professionals that were just out of college.  The suits were more tailored looking and they didn't really want to fit Dawn's figure well enough.  He tried somewhere else but Natasha sent him to a specific shop.  He walked her in there.

The girl in there smiled.  "Finally!"

Dawn shrugged.  "I had it sent to me in New York."

"I know."  She looked her over.  "You have more muscles."  She led her back.  "Are we looking hot for work or hot for the boyfriend there?"

"Yes?  I need work stuff but my closets are getting bare."

"She has absolutely no flirty things anymore," Clint said.

The salesgirl, who was probably Dawn's age, smirked at him.  For some reason that smirk made him want to grab his bow, grab Dawn, and hide.  "That's a shame."  She led her into the back rooms.  "Let's see, business gear."  She found the suits and Dawn found a few she liked, and a few dresses.

Clint looked around.  It was a goth shop.  He hadn't expected this.  Then Dawn came out in a longer slim skirt with a fluff of extra fabric around her knees.  It was so slim she had to change the way she walked.  Over it she had a silk button up poet shirt.  He nodded.  "I like that but I like you in the jewel tones instead of the stark black."  He looked at the salesgirl.  "For some reason her wardrobe is full of purple, red, green, black, and gray."

She giggled.  "As if you don't know," she taunted with an evil smirk.  "You know, they sell miniatures of the whole team."  She pointed at the case with them in there.  She got Dawn a few more things that Clint appreciated.  One that made him get a bit happy.  Then she got Dawn into a stunning backless black gown with silver beading.  It was slim fitting and clung to her curves.  It was flashy enough that Dawn looked good in it.  That and a new necklace she handed over, which Dawn nodded she liked.

Clint licked his lips.  "I like that better than I do the one you wore to the Expo."

She smiled at him.  "Really?"

"Really."  She smiled and it went onto the buy pile.  If she couldn't wear it somewhere, she could wear it somewhere they took her.  They found some flirty skirts for her too.  She came out in one last bathing suit, which was black with red spiders all over it.  He stared.  "She's going to pick on you."


Clay walked in.  "Pepper said to quit goth shopping."  He paused and stared.  "The skimpier bottoms looked better on you."

"They don't carry thongs here and I'm not allowed to wear one if we're using Stark's pool.  He doesn't want Callia to get ideas."

"Huh, yeah, ideas are happening," he admitted.  "C'mon."  She got changed back and paid, taking the bags to the car.  Pepper took them to where Dawn was supposed to shop by Natasha's usual list.  They fawned over Dawn's figure and she found some nice things.  Dawn window shopped in a few new stores.  Pepper found one for pregnant women and went in there.  Dawn went across the street to a jewelry store.  She got some new earrings and tucked them into her purse.  They ended up in a store that Dawn had wanted to go to but Pepper had said no.  She smiled at the girl.  "I need new stockings."

She pointed.  "We have six or seven styles there or the back lingerie lines have some, miss."

"Thank you."  She looked.  "Cool, patterns."

Clint stared then at her.  "Goofy," he said with a grin.  She smirked and nodded.  "Can't wear them to work or out clubbing."

"If I go to the one I've been invited to I can."

"We'll see."  He helped her get ones for her wardrobe, and a few that he wanted to see her in.  She got a striped pair that looked like the Wicked Witch's set.  He looked at her.  "Why?"

"To tease Cap."

He nodded.  "We'll see."  She smirked at him while moving to look at the bras and panties.  He pointed at one set.  She found it in her size and put it into her basket.  A few more and they checked on the other lingerie.  She found something she put into the basket before he could see it.  He grinned.  She smirked evilly back.  "Working on next year's evil empress outfit?"

She walked over to pick up something for that and brought it back.  "I can do that."  He moaned.  The velvet bustier was going to look good on her.  They checked out.  Pepper was waiting impatiently.  "Stockings."

"Just go to Fredericks' or Trashy," she said dryly.  "I'm sure they have some."  Dawn held up the striped pair, making her laugh.  "Okay, those are cute."  She held up the flowered ones and Pepper giggled.  "Do they have nursing bras?"

"No, but plenty of bra and panty sets."

"I might.  I need measured."  She went in there to get that done and find something sweet to tempt herself with.

Jensen and Callia finally joined them, putting a few bags into the trunk and Jensen handing Dawn one.  She looked and paid him back, kissing him on the cheek.  "Thank you."

"Welcome."  He got Callia into her booster seat and settled in with her.  She had on her x-ray glasses and was giggling at the images it was giving her.

Dawn settled herself in and Clint sat beside her.  "We have real ones in the lab here.  Andrew made some."

"Cool!"  Callia smiled at Jensen.  "We can find them?"

"We sure can."  Pepper came back with a small bag, blushing some.  They settled in and went to the other shopping area.  Dawn tossed her purse into the trunk and tucked her wallet into her bra strap.  Pepper did the same thing.  The guys stared at her.  Dawn shook her head.  "Prime mugging area, guys."  They nodded and walked around the ladies.  They were nearly mugged but Clay got to break a few punks until they cried for their arrests.  Pepper and Dawn split up.  Clint had total control of what she bought and it was cute that he wanted her in slightly flirty things but the few that she really liked he thought was too much.  She got them anyway, usually with the sales girls winking at her.

Pepper was blushing since John gave critiques of her clothes.  He smirked at her.  "Its what a shopping buddy does, right?" he quipped.

She pinched him on the arm.  "I usually only have Dawn as a shopping buddy.  She reads and looks up then says 'yes', 'no', or 'could be longer'."

He laughed.  "She's still working on her artistic eye.  Whereas I used to be a pretty decent photographer way back when."  She blushed harder.  He smiled.  "Go find something pretty and flirty, Pepper."  She did and he nodded, helping her pick out a great wardrobe that would make Stark beg for attention.  They joined back up with Clay, Clint, and Dawn, who now had a black eye.  "Bad?" he guessed.

"The girl that wanted Barton elbowed her to get her out of her way," Clay said dryly.  "So Dawn slugged the bitch before I could pull her off by her really bad weave."

"I was about to slug her myself," Clint admitted.

"Thankfully I'm almost an expert at covering these sort of things," Dawn said.  They all stared at her.  "Hello, very kidnaped here.  Had more than my share of bruises from them."

"We couldn't usually tell," Pepper agreed.  They went to a makeup shop for her to get some coverup and then got into the car.  Dawn and Pepper talked, heading back to the lab to look up clothes.  Clint had them stop one place he wanted to.  Pepper looked then at him.  "She used to shop here until she quit wearing the knit dresses that looked like the lady on that one Fran Dresher show."

Clint smiled.  "Really?"

"Yup.  A lot."  They went in anyway and he did find a few things.  Dawn came out with them and they got back in to head back to the lab.  By the time they got there, Dawn's bruise was covered and Callia wanted lunch.  They got lunch from the caf and went to check on things.  Dawn got to fuss over some of the scientists there that needed it when they came looking for her.   The courier got there looking exhausted.  Dawn and Clay got summoned back.  Clint didn't go into the labs, the geeks gave him dirty looks for 'owning' Dawn.  Dawn walked in.  "I just heard that you were here."

"Ma'am, may I see some ID?"  Clint tossed over her purse, letting her dig out her ID for him.  He nodded and let her sign the form, giving her the letter first.  It had the key to unlock his briefcase in it.

Dawn read it, eyes blinking a few times rapidly.  "She left me what?"

"She left you the tiara she wore while masturbating," the courier said.  "I noticed her daughter avoided touching it when she handed it over and clearly was not pleased with how it was used, but the office all thought she was a bit stiff and her mother was quite free and clear with her affection."

Dawn nodded, smiling some.  "She kissed me really hard but I never gave her any flirting.  Why did she leave me it?"

"Because you're the one she thought of, miss."  She blushed.  He smiled.  "Unlock me please?"

She did and opened the case, staring at it.  "Damn," she said in awe.

Clint leaned over to look.  "Very."  He looked at the courier.  "How old is that?"

"It's a remade piece for an older Tzarist piece, sir.  Are you related....."  Clint held up his hand with the ring, getting a smile and a nod.  "Then you have exquisite taste according to our employer."  He handed Dawn the other form, letting her sign it.  He kissed her hand properly then left.

Pepper stood up to look at the tiara.  It was black and blue diamonds with a single emerald and sapphire in the center.  "That goes so well with your life."

Dawn nodded.  "It does."  She carefully closed it.  "I think I need to talk to my insurance agent."  Mentally she was calming herself down and wondering how hard it was to test for high pheromone output since things like this only happened to hormoned, long haired Xander.

Clint snickered.  "I don't think you're like him, Dawn."

She looked at him.  "Are you sure?"

"Very.  Or else they would've left you the title too."

"Good point."  She sat down on his lap, getting a hug.  They were still staring at the case.  "John, did you recognize it?"

"Only the center piece.  The sapphire and emerald cluster is from a piece that Catherine the Great's grandfather gave to his mistress because it was their eye colors."

"Any chance of it being stolen during the overthrow?" Pepper asked.  "We don't want people showing up suing her to claim it."

"From what I remember, they sold it to get out of Russia after he died.  It was one of those multi-function pieces that either hung on a longish pearl necklace or was a broach as needed."  He frowned a bit.  "Xander had it at one point in time but when he died and recycled, his family of the time sold it to someone Danish if I remember right.  Xander got it from a girlfriend."

"Then I'm shocked no one's recut it," Pepper said.  "It's like you and him but Natasha's surrounding you two."  She sniffled.  Clint handed her the tissue box.  "Thank you, Clint."  She smiled.  "You can wear it with whatever gown you got at the goth shop."

"I could and it'd look fantastic, but I think I need to see it on someone's head."  Clint nodded he agreed.  They all smirked at her.  "It'll look fantastic in her curls."

"It will."  He gave her a squeeze.  "I can hear a geek."  She elbowed him but got up to see what the guy sucking on his inhaler wanted.  She got him some help and walked him down to the on-site infirmary chiding him about setting off an asthma attack.

Pepper dialed Tony.  "We're using your personal safe."

"Sure, what did you buy that's so pretty?" he asked with a grin.  "Or did my girl get her first necklace?"

"She hasn't yet.  Dawn ... remember that really classy elderly duchess?"

He thought back and nodded.  "The kissing one?  Yes."  Pepper got handed the box by John so she opened it for him.  He gasped.  "Damn."  Clint laughed.  "That's....  she needs the right outfit for that."

"She has a black dress that will look stunning under it," Clint assured him.

"She went to that goth shop again."

He nodded.  "She has one here that she likes the same way."  He blinked.  "It's very...twinkly.  Has Callia seen it?"

"She and Jensen are going on the public tour right now.  She wanted to."

"That's fine.  Sure, please use the safe.  Is it real?"  She tapped a stone and nodded.  "Huh," he said.  "Any other huge news?"

"No title with it," Clint quipped.

"Thank god!"  He hung up and walked off to tell Bruce.  He ran into Jonathan.  "Dawn just got a major bit of bling given to her."

"We heard that the duchess wanted her so much she nearly kidnaped her once."

"That same one."


"Very."  He found Bruce in his lab and walked in to tell him about that dinner.

Jonathan sighed and went to tell Andrew.  Dawn went well with twinkly things and pretty things.


Callia looked around her room and decided she needed to redecorate for when they came back the next time.  She pulled up her drawing application.  "JARVIS,  how do you draw a room to redesign it?"  He laid a template out of what it looked like now.  She fixed it and he sent it to her father.  She got online to find pictures of beds and found one she liked that made her squeal, sending it in. 

He sent back that he'd look at it and to hurry home soon.  He missed reading to her.  She recorded her babbling about the new clothes and the other pretty stuff then sent it.  He sent back one of him laughing, which made her happy enough to twirl around.  She heard someone groan and giggled to see who had done what this time.  Jensen was staring at her auntie, who had on a pretty dress.  "I dress up?"

"Doubt it, squirt, I'm taking her on a date," Clint told her.

"Shoot."  She smiled at him.  "Why a date?"

"It's what big people do.  Go ask your other aunt.  She's been on some."

"She getting backrub from John."  She ran off to pounce Clay.  "What's a date?"

"It's where people go out together.  Aren't I supposed to chaperone?" he called.

"I've got it.  Thanks."

"Fine.  Be safe.  Wear a locator."

"She is."

"No one's going to take me tonight," Dawn called, putting on her new earrings.

Clint smirked.  "Not without me getting very mad."  He escorted her out to the car he had gotten permission to borrow from Stark earlier.  Now all they needed was Natasha, who was still working and was in town.  Maybe later she'd get to sneak in.  He drove them off, taking them to the nice restaurant.  They never got to go out on dates in New York.  Too many people pounced one of them.  Tonight it was just Clint and Dawn, and maybe later Natasha.  No people calling him Hawkeye or her Black Widow.  Or Dawn a bitch for having them on her arm.  She ran a hand over his thigh, earning a smirk.  She grinned back.  The restaurant was nice, sedate, quiet.  They got a nice back table.  The greeter gaped in awe at them but the waiter treated them like trash, like everyone else was getting.  So that was great.

Halfway through their salads, Natasha appeared and sat down, earning smiles.  "Good evening."

"It's a great evening now," Dawn promised.  "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."  She patted her hand then Clint's hand.  He smirked at her.  "So what was it?"

"A very pretty tiara."

Natasha moaned.  "The one with the sapphire and emerald?"  They both smiled and nodded.  "I've heard it was pretty."

"We think you'd make the perfect place for it to rest," Dawn said quietly.

Natasha smiled.  "You inherited it."

"You're more royal material than I am."

"Perhaps."  She smiled.  Dawn grinned back and the waiter got her order for dinner.  They settled in to talk about Dawn's new wardrobe, Natasha huffing at a few things.  She hated the goth shop that Dawn used to prefer.

"It was there or the succuba-run shop," Dawn offered.  Natasha shivered and let out a quiet moan.  "I'm going there tomorrow.  Callia can help me pick something sweet out."

"I can go," Clint offered.

"Nope.  This way you can have a surprise too."

Natasha laid a hand on his.  "Trust me, it will be a good one."

"I can do that then."

Dawn grinned then ate a bit of meat.  She looked at Natasha, who shrugged.  "You can't sneak into my room."

"I remember Coulson redoing the window and the security system around your room."

"I didn't have that on last night."

"What system?"

"There's an extra few alarms in my room, one on my desk because everyone wanted to stop there and look at what I was doing for homework, and a laser sensor around my bed," Dawn said with a grin for him.  "Which leads to an alarm loud enough to wake the entire house and half the town."

"Yes it does," Natasha agreed.  "I accidentally tripped it getting her up for sparring practice."

Clint shook his head.  "Thanks for not having that on."

"Welcome."  She dug in, she was a bit hungry.  "I should find a way to go ask that one Xander to help me shop."  Clint snickered.  Natasha moaned and shook her head.  "He's got great taste, he'd help me be flirty enough.  He likes to shop."

"You should have enough if you get off-duty clothes," Natasha reminded her.

"No she doesn't.  She only got a few things," Clint said.  "We couldn't find much that suited her shape."  Natasha moaned, shaking her head.  "Even with a bit of later tailoring."

Dawn chewed the bite she had eaten, nodding.  She swallowed and sipped her wine.  "I need to talk to my bank guy again."

"Same bank?" he asked.

"No.  Different bank.  Real bank."  He nodded and they could schedule that.  They finished dinner, had dessert, and went back to the house.  The girls could share the passenger's seat in the little sports car.  Dawn was in a good teasing mood anyway.  They got back and Clay nodded at them, smirking once they were past.  Dawn came back to hug him and tell him the few places she had to hit, getting a nod he'd arrange it.  She went back to their room.  Dawn strolled in and closed the door, locking it because her niece was a bit nosy.  She looked at the two kissing on the bed, smiling as she stripped out of the dress, then the jewelry.

"Get naked and get in here.  She's only got two hours," Clint said with a grin.  She did and got in on Natasha's back, licking and nibbling up it.  Natasha gasped and arched back against her.  "I'm sure you've been denying it," he said in her ear.  "Which is very hard to do when she's so pretty."

"I'm not the only pretty one.  None of us are ugly."

"That is true, though most men would rather be called handsome," Natasha said.

"He's still pretty.  That's why women drooled on him, Nat."

She chuckled, a low, warm sound that made Clint shiver.  "She let one pounce me, Nat."

She kissed him.  "I would have too."  Her phone rang.  Dawn grabbed it and tossed it at her.  She read then got up.  She gave them each a kiss.  "I will see you soon."

Clint pulled her down for a deeper one.  "Be very safe and come back to us."

"Or else," Dawn agreed, taking her own better kiss.  Natasha smiled, getting dressed and leaving, though she did pat a small switch on the wall.  Dawn looked over at the hum.  "She turned on the security system."

Clint looked down.  It glowed faintly at the moment.  "JARVIS can't turn it off?"

"The alarm.  Not the system.  This was the trial system for the one in Callia's room."

"How sensitive is this one?"

"You get within a foot of it and you're tripping it.  My desk, the window, or the door."



Clint looked around and nodded, getting up and trying to move.  The sheet fizzed when it touched the laser sensor.  "Huh.  Nice to know."  He laid back down and kissed her.  "In the morning."  She smiled and snuggled against his side, stroking down his chest and arm.  He kissed her.  "She'll be fine."

"She will be or we'll ride in to save her and I'll kick some ass too."

He grinned.  "Yeah, we can do that."  He took his mind off not backing up Natasha this time.  She had good, overly competent help that was just as good as he was.  Dawn was the best tonic to some frazzled nerves, and his to hers.  They'd handle it well enough.


Phil walked out to where Xander was looking over the training area, handing him some water.  "I need to learn more than hand-to-hand," he said.

Xander looked at him.  "You want to learn how to use a sword?"

"Yes.  You're a weapons person and I should be able to help you with that."

"We all have our strengths, Phil."

"I've never even tried heavier weapons."

"We can test and see."  He led him down to the sparring ring, pulling down a few weapons.  He scattered them around the ring.  "This is how we test to see which weapon you instinctively favor so you get training in that first.  That way it's easier.  Disarm."  Phil did that and came back.  Xander walked behind Phil and pulled a sword, feinting a lunge.  Phil instinctively went toward the nearest one but ducked and rolled, coming up with an axe. 

Xander smiled.  "Sweet choice."  He moved over to show him how battle axes worked as weapons.  Phil nodded and they slowly got into it.  By midnight, Phil was sweaty and tired. Xander was sweaty too.  Phil had a good grasp of what he needed to do with them.  He and Xander shared a look then Xander took them to Asgard to get in some advanced time with the dwarf who had helped train him.  They had a school that was out of time and space.  Xander took them both there.  Phil was looked over as they appeared. 

The training dwarf nodded.  "He'll do, Alexander."

"This is my mate, Phil, God over Heroes."

He looked at him.  "We knew you would ascend."

"God protectorate of Humanity," he said with a smile.

"Excellent choice for you."  He looked Phil over, nodding.  "How much training has he had?"

"He's a modern agent sort.  They use guns, he can spar, and I've begun teaching him tonight."

"I should be able to back my mate up in any battle he chooses as his own," Phil said.  "In whatever manner is needed."

The dwarf nodded.  "You should.  How long do you have?"

"We can go and come back if we must," Phil admitted.  The dwarf snorted.

Xander shook his head.  "We need the fully out of time approach.  We have two weeks, standard Asgardian time, to get him back and he needs to be somewhat rested for work."

"We can arrange that."  He hit the gong and the school faded back out of time and space.  The other students walked out, mostly late teens.  "This is your new trainee, Phil.  He is Alexander's mate and must live up to his skills.  Or better him."  They nodded and took Phil to show him where things were.  He looked at Xander.  "You're not to break his training."

"I know.  But I do give killer massages," he said with a grin.

"Aye, you do.  No special privileges outside stretching your cot."

"I won't.  Maybe food."

"Mayhap food," he said dryly.  "Be on with you."  Xander smiled and followed the trainees.  The trainee dorm wasn't all that well liked but they needed the extra toughness the leaky walls and rough cots gave them.  He made sure Phil had what he needed for training, including working on his wrists because they were sore from paperwork all afternoon.  Then they got called out to the ring.  The arms master tested Phil the same way Xander had and he picked up an axe again so it was good.  They could start there.


Pepper walked in just before nine the next morning to find Clint on a rope he had strung from the bed to the arrow embedded in the wall and he was slowly moving toward the clear area.  "You couldn't just hit something into the switch?"

"Didn't work," he admitted with a grin.

Pepper hit the switch to turn it off.  "Ten minutes before we leave, Dawn."  She walked off putting in her earrings.  "Natasha turned on the security system."

"I heard about that from the kid," Clay admitted, looking her over.  "Left a tag."  He pointed.  She looked and got some scissors to cut it off.  Dawn and Clint came out dressed reasonably well.  "Dawn, bank?"  She went back in to put on something more businessy than the dress pants and shirt she was wearing.  He smirked at Clint.  "Welcome."

"I like looking at her legs.  They're in really good shape."  He accepted the toast and coffee from John and ate on the way to the car.  The cup got put into the bar's sink.  "I'll get that later, JARVIS."

"I can handle a simple cup, sir."  He sounded happier when Dawn came out.  "Very fetching, Dawn."

"Thank you, JARVIS."  She patted a wall she walked past.  "Have a good day."

"You as well, miss."  They left and he had one of the robots fetch the cup to be put into the dishwasher so he could run it.  This group was much more lively than Mr. Stark was but also more fun, especially when Callia was making out lists of things for everyone.


Dawn came out of the bank's office shaking her head.  "I had no idea I had done that."  Clay gave her a look over his sunglasses from his seat in the lobby.  "Seriously."

"Took over the world?" he quipped with a smirk.

"No, that was Lavelle.  He even did it by accident."

"That's great."  He got her into the car and followed her. 

"I'm more than set up to shop like a starlet and I don't want to because I have sense."

"You usually do," he agreed.

"Happy, remember that succuba shop?"

"Unfortunately.  Must we?"

"I cannot find a single flirty thing."

He huffed.  "Fine.  You make sure he's armed."

"They won't try to keep me, I'm not a virgin now."

"Good to know."  He drove them off.  Dawn gave him a hug through the window once they got there.  He still didn't like this whole street.

Dawn got out and walked in there, looking at the sales succuba.  Who moaned at Clay.  "Eyes on the prize, ladies.  I need to drop major money on flirty clothes."

"Summers, don't you get enough of that?" one of them complained.

"I outgrew all those."  They groaned but got her kitted out.  Including some cute kitten ears on a headband for Callia and her.  The 'ladies' nicely gave Clay a list of shops for her to go to for off-duty things and a few for on-duty things.  He gave it to Happy, who wasn't happy about it.  They were still in the demon section of LA.  Even though she was probably safer there than anywhere else.

Dawn walked into one spot and leaned down to kiss Spike on the forehead.  She smirked.  "Wanna pretend to be Xander?  Clay doesn't do more than grunt at the hot stuff."

"Hell no, bit."  He hugged her.  "Last payment's here."

Dawn looked over.  "Hi, Clem."  She smiled at him and looked at Spike.  "I don't have many flirty things for work."

"No way I'm shopping with you.  Your sister was bad enough."  She handed over a picture with a smile.  He stared.  "Big sucker."

"Sean.  Fourteen pounds.  And she's up again because Daddy got happy that his newest first born is a son."

"Had to stretch her beyond fun limits then."  He handed it back but she waved so he put it into his duster's pocket.  "Go to see bratty?"

"Nope.  Not this trip.  Just shopping, speech for Pepper, helping Callia shop."

"How is that nibblet?"

"She's good.  She's a lot like her daddy but she enjoys being pretty like a real Summers girl."  She grinned.  "Clint's in too."

"Good for you."  He glanced at her hand then around.  "Who had the bet book?"  Someone brought it over and he looked in it.  "Huh, how did you win that?"

She looked then grinned.  "I knew when they did it," she said dryly.  "We had to be told too."  They groaned and checked.  It validated the bet so they had to pay her the pot.  She tucked it into Clay's pocket since her clothes didn't have one and her purse was tiny.  "What last bet?"

"Clem, the one you played with paid her."

He sighed.  "We can put them in the car."

Dawn looked over.  "Is that the guy that paid me in mini gold blocks?  I never could figure out which one that was."

Spike nodded.  "We realized and made sure, bit."  She hugged him again.  "Get off," he said, giving her a fond look as he shoved her off.

She smirked at him.  "I need to look like a succuba in heat but tasty later."  The head of the betting parlor part got her bet payment out to the car for her.  They heard Happy groan from inside.  Dawn looked.  "Did he miscalculate the conversion rate?"

"You were betting in Ethera quills, not dollars."

"There really has to be a sign."

"There is.  You can't read it because you're mostly human."

"Fully human."  She pinched his cheek.  "Laters, Spike."

"Later, bit."  He watched her float the bars into the trunk, while Clay stared in awe.  He shook his head.  "Girls' cracked if she thinks a single one can protect her."  Clay walked in and hauled him to talk to him in the semi-sunny doorway.  He was at least appropriately mean Spike decided.  He sniffed and looked confused.  "What're you?"

"Yellow fur," he said smugly.

Spike's eyes went wide and he moaned.  "Damn, thought they were myths."

"There's two small packs that came back with Atlantis.  Mine, and Evan Lorne's."

Spike swallowed.  "Good to know.  Yeah, you're tough enough to help get her back."

Dawn snorted.  "Spike, Dawn can save herself.  Remember?"

"Shut up, bit.  Heard there's a wannabe emperor on your tail."

"I heard.  I'm not impressed but I heard."  He groaned.  "Sorry."  She wiggled her hand and he nodded. She smirked as she got into the car.

Clay looked at him.  "Her spouses and I would adore having a list of who wants her presently if you can find one."

"Sure I can," he said, lighting a smoke.  Clay smirked and walked off.  Spike sighed and went back inside.  "He's a damn yellow fur."  A few demons went apeshit and started to wail.  "Not the only one that came back on the Shiny City."  The head of the betting parlor moaned and got a few drinks. The whole bar was going to be drunk and casually careless later.  It meant Spike could win a good haul tonight.

Dawn got out at the shop she picked, walking the gold bar inside.  They stared at it then at her.  "Poker."  They groaned.  She smiled.  "I need stuff."  They took the bar to look over.  It was authentic, pure, and whole.  They paid her for it and she went to their speciality shop in the back to get what she needed.  She came out with six bags and a new hat on her head.  They got put into the trunk and she brought another one in to pay for the rest.  That got her another twelve bags, helpfully carried by someone.  The rest could be shipped to her place in New York.  She slid in.  "Done."

"Thank you," Happy said, heading back to the house.  Dawn and Pepper had brought a lot of empty luggage for the shopping they needed to do.  Dawn might need extra bags.  Happy smiled at her.  "No more demon areas?"

She pinched him on the cheek.  "There's no way anyone down there is going kidnap me because Spike would rip them a new one if my sister didn't, so you'd be safer too."

"I know.  Still?"

She smiled.  "Not this trip.  I hardly hit the one in New York."  He gave her a nudge.  She smirked.  "The rest is being shipped."  He and Clay helped her by getting the bags.  She floated in the new pretty, shiny things.

Clint stared then at her.  "Poker again?" he guessed.

"One last bet paid off."  She took a kiss with a grin.  "They really need to better mark what we're betting with at some tables."  He groaned.  She smirked.  "I did get some really nice stuff."

"Good."  He followed to help her sort things.  Clay got the last few bars for her.  "Thanks, Clay."

"Welcome.  Got to meet Spike.  The whole demon bar went on a wailing fit when they found out I'm perfect in both forms."  He strolled off looking smug.

Clint looked at her.  "Did you warp him too?"  She swatted him.  He laughed and hugged her.  They put the new clothes into the empty bags and he had to stare at a few things.  "Will that look good on you?"

She held up that dress.  It was a very tight fitting dress.  "It's a mood ring dress."

"Uh-huh."  He stared at where it was changing colors thanks to her hands.  "Interesting."  She grinned and put it away too.  The rest got looked over.  A few things he wondered about but not everything was flirty.  There were a few new pairs of jeans too.  Dawn slid into one of those and a new t-shirt, which showed off her cleavage a bit.  He appreciated that and the way they gripped her butt and legs.  She put on her kitty ears, earning a smirk.  "Not in Tokyo."

"I got a pair for Callia too."  She held them up.  They finished up and she strolled out with him.  "Niece?"  She came running in from the porch.  She put the ears on her head, earning a squeal.  "We can be kitties together today."  Callia went running back to show Jensen and his niece.

Jensen looked at her.  "I didn't know you spent time in Tokyo on the streets."  She smirked at him.  He looked her over.  "Damn."

"Only some people are for staring."  He cackled, getting back to chatting with his niece.  Pepper came out dressed for her speech, staring at Dawn.  Dawn grinned back.  "They fit perfectly."

"They do.  I can't find jeans that fit that way."

"I took some poker winnings to a specialist store," she admitted.

Pepper moaned.  "That expensive?"

"I blew *so* much," she agreed.

"Two mini gold bars," Clay agreed.

Pepper whimpered.  "Damn."

"But these were only eighty."

"I need to go there."  Dawn wrote down the address for her.  "Thanks.  Speech?"  They got into the car.  The kitty ears stayed in the car for the luncheon and speech.  Jensen and Callia were staying there for this.  Pepper was well guarded during the speech to the business women's meeting.  Dawn was in the wings in case she needed something.  The guys were in good points to help or watch her.  Pepper was blushing because John was a huge flirt with a stare that could make her have an orgasm without being touched.  She still managed it very well.  They clapped and she smiled, pausing to talk to a few people on the way to her seat.  Dawn got to go to the bar for lunch with Clay and Clint.  Pepper introduced John and they flirted with him while they ate.


Tony smiled at his daughter when his main lab's screen popped up with her.  "Cute kitty ears, princess."

"Auntie Dawn got me them.  She has some too and some twinkly stuff."  She grinned.  "Daddy, can we fix that car?" she asked with a point.  It was still damaged from his first suit tests.

"I can have it brought here so we can restore it."  She smiled and nodded.  "Why are you in the lab without Jensen?"  Jensen leaned in and waved.  "That's fine then.  No doing anything with fire, electricity, or laser tools."

"Okay, Daddy."  She smiled.  "I got two new models."  She showed him.

He smiled.  "I have the one on the right.  It's downstairs.  Jensen, take her down the ramp and to the garage?"

"I can do that, Tony."

He smiled.  "You're so my female clone."  She beamed and nodded.   "Didn't you get to shop yet?"

"Some.  I go tomorrow.  I'm wearing old stuff so I can get dirty."

"That's very smart, daughter."  Someone leaned into the picture and waved.

"Hi, Uncle Rodney!" she squealed and waved.  "Uncle John is with Auntie Pepper at her speech."

"That's fine, dear.  Try to behave and be careful.  No breaking laws of physics yet."

She snorted and waved a hand.  "Of course I will.  I'm brilliant too."  She grinned at her dad.  "When do I get my own lab, Daddy?"

"When you're twelve.  Until then you can have part of mine."

"Cool!"  She bounced a few times.  "Let us go look at cars.  I'll call back for dinner and we'll eat together?"

"We can do that."  She squealed and blew kisses then hung up and ran for the ramp.

"Wait for me," Jensen said, following her.

"Oh my god!  Daddy has huge cars!"

"He does collect," he agreed.  He looked around.  "There's a lot of cars.  Want me to get Happy so he can tell you about them?"

"I know some but sure."  He texted him and he came in from the other side of the garage.  "Hi, Happy!"  She hugged him.   "Daddy has huge cars!"

"He does, yeah."  He grinned, showing her what each one was like and letting her look in the engine.

Jensen finally checked his clock on his phone.  "Callia, you had dinner with your dad over the video system."

"Oops.  JARVIS, can I have dinner in the lab please?" she called, hugging Happy and heading back up there.

"I've already laid out your tomato and cucumber salad, Callia, as well as some water and your favorite dressing.  Your aunt brought it down."

"Cool!"  They dialed Tony, who was looking a bit pouty.  "Happy and I were looking at the cars."

"I've gotten lost doing that many times, princess."  They settled in to eat and chat over dinner.  He even read her the usual bedtime story over it.  Jensen smiled and carried her off to bed.  Tony hung up and leaned back on his stool.  "She really is just like me.  I'm feeling like a Harry Chapin song."  He stretched.  He had been bent over his newest suit modification all afternoon. 

He really had to spend more time with her and get them both out of the lab now and then.  He remembered wanting to go out to play and not getting to because his father was working.  She wouldn't have those memories.  Thankfully, he had something his father hadn't - Pepper and Dawn.  He called Pepper, who was getting a neck rub from John.  "Bad speech?" he asked, trying not to be jealous.

"It went very well and all the ladies flirted horribly with John," Pepper said with a smile.  "I took a nap on the way home and slept funny.  Did you talk to Callia today?"

"We just had dinner and talked about the car collection she spent all afternoon in."

"Awww, you and she are just alike."

He nodded.  "We are."  He smiled.  "Thankfully you've made sure I did better with her than I had."

"You do just fine, Tony."

"Good."  He was still fighting the jealousy.  "So, find anything pretty?"

"A few things and I'm picking some new stores in New York because some shops here decided I was too pregnant and therefore too fat.  Apparently the baby's too big for their tastes."

"Bull," he said.  "You look fine and the baby's perfect."

"One told Dawn they didn't do plus size clothes."

He looked her over.  "You're not plus size, Pepper.  You're perfectly sized and you're not heavier than you should be.  You're within five pounds of your ideal weight plus the pregnancy.  They're dumbasses."  She smiled at him, that soft, sweet smile he loved to see.  "Coming home soon?"

"Two days."

"Good.  Find more pretty things.  Not that you can't make the simplest things look stunning but you need more flirty, pretty things too."

"Dawn got paid in gold bars again but it meant she went to a specialty shop.  We went later on and she blew a third one on more stuff that'll make Clint drool."


"She went to the succuba shop again too.  Clay said they all hit on him."

He smiled.  "Guys like him have a certain appeal.  I prefer smart, gentle, and sexy as hell."  She blushed but hung up on him.  He groaned and hung up on his end, looking around.  He wanted Pepper.  He considered it and used the beaming satellite to get back to the lab.  Happy was waiting on him.  "You're psychic?"

"Yup."  He grinned.  "I heard when you talked to Callia, boss.  She is so like you and wanted to know how each part of the engines worked."

"If I had room in New York I'd take the collection with me."  He got in and Happy drove him back.  They paused for a few things from one of his favorite places.  Then they went back to the house.  JARVIS let him in quietly.  "Thanks, JARVIS," he quipped quietly.  The house was pretty quiet.  He went to Pepper's room, then to his room when he found John in there.   Pepper was on his bed in a set of cotton pajamas, a t-shirt and capri pants set with clouds.  He stripped off and laid down with her, kissing her awake.  She moaned and he pulled her closer.  "You're so perfect."

"No woman is perfect."

"You are so.  I'm a genius and therefore right to quote Rodney."  He kissed her again.  "In the ways that matter to me, you're perfect."  She smiled.  He nibbled on her lips then kissed her again before going down to talk to the baby and then make her a happy girl.  Her moaning and writhing under his mouth was a beautiful sight he wanted more of.  He and Steve really had to bring her home with them permanently.  She whimpered and he helped her off.  He didn't care if he got off, he'd get off eventually, but she needed to be glowing with it.  She deserved it for being his anchor and his conscience in so many ways.  She pulled on his hair so he looked up.  "Need more?" he asked, leaning up to lick over the underside of her belly.

"I need you, goofy."  He grinned and pushed into her carefully as he moved up to kiss her.  He flipped them around so he was spooned behind her, her top leg over his as he pushed in.  She clawed his arm.  "Tony!"

"I have you.  I always have your back."  She reached back so he kissed her neck and nibbled on her until she came again and went limp.  He came and made sure she was cleaned up since she was asleep again.  He curled up with her on his chest, feeling comfortable for the first time in a few days.  Steve was on a mission so he had been alone.  It was like two magnets pulling at him so he had to put them on the same side so they kept him pulling to the good side.  She shifted and one hand stroked over his stomach.  He calmed his mind and let it drift off to sleep because she was good for him.


Clint looked at Dawn that night, after their pre-dinner nap and dinner.  "Callia's clothes are being shipped back."

She smiled.  "We did that on purpose."

"Good idea.  I'd hate to have to find a pickup truck for yours and hers."

She grinned.  "Mine's being shipped back too.  All but the one dress bag and two bags with the new jewelry."

"Fine."  He kissed her.  "When do I get to see that new dress?"

"Sometime."  She took another kiss.  "Did you need me to pounce you like a Stark?" she teased.  He had teased earlier that Callia and Tony both pounced Pepper the same way - ending up wrapped around her.

He smirked.  "Sure, I could enjoy that."  She kissed him and wrapped herself around him.  He moaned and pulled her closer against him.  "I need to be in you."

"You can do that.  You know that."  He pushed her onto the bed and stripped, then got her clothes off.  She squeaked when he pounced but it was good.  He enjoyed it.  She scratched his back when it got too good but he hissed and bit her on the shoulder.

John and Clay both looked toward their room and shook their heads.  Dawn was loud.

Tony and Pepper stared that way.  "I knew she was loud," Tony quipped.  "I had to keep turning off the security system that registers screams."  Sure enough, Dawn squealed and they winced at the squeaking noise.  "We have to get her a better bed," he told Pepper.

She smiled.  "She can have the garage apartment again."

"They might like the sectional," he agreed.  "The bed's a queen....."  The squeaking stopped but they could hear Dawn still getting breathy and happy.  One final squeal that made them all wince. Someone hit the right note to break glass and then Clint moaned.  Jensen started to clap but Clay and John swatted him.  Tony smirked at him.  "I nearly applauded a few times too."  Pepper kissed him.  He smiled.  "I should ship some of the cars back to have my spawn help me with."

"You should," she agreed.  "Bring back the damaged ones."

"I can do that."  He hugged her, making her relax.  He felt along her stomach.  "Braxton Hicks."

She groaned.  "I was hoping that wasn't already starting."

"Yes, it is."  He rubbed her stomach, making her moan and go limp.  He shifted so she could rest her head on his shoulder while he worked on her stress.  She enjoyed that a lot and fell asleep on him.  Round two started for Dawn and Clint, making the guys blush since it was Clint getting moany and loud.  They all looked away when he begged but she was apparently very good to him.

Clay looked up, shaking his head.  "I thought some of Cougar's women got loud," he muttered.

Jensen nodded.  "They do.  Especially if they get the hat for a few minutes during it."

John shook his head.   "I don't mind my women getting loud but I like to be on top.  Even if she's on top I'm in control.  I'm old fashioned that way."

Tony looked at him.  "Cute joke."

"Thanks."  He grinned.  "Where's your wonder man?"

"He's on an assignment."  He went back to soothing the kicking going on.  "It's good, guys."

"We know.  He'd have walked off," John said.  Clint yelped and they heard Dawn chuckle evilly.  Then she squealed and moaned, chanting Clint's name and 'more'.  They all winced at the sound of a crack.  "Bed?" he guessed.

"Sidetable probably," Tony said.  "It's too close and easily knocked over because it's a tripod setup."  Dawn was still loud and begging.  Then Clint moaned and begged for her to spare him.  She cackled and made him pant and huff.  Thankfully he knew how to cure her evil moods and could do that.

Callia came wandering out rubbing her eyes.  She pounded on her aunt's door.  "If you're making babies I get to name them."  She turned around and spotted her father.  "Daddy!"  She ran over to pounce him.  He cuddled her in his lap between him and Pepper.  She snuggled in and cuddled back.  "I missed you."

"I missed you too."

She looked up at him.  "Can we do like Auntie does and have two stepmommies and a daddy?"

He smiled, kissing her on the head.  "We'll see.  If your aunt would agree."

She smiled, pulling Pepper closer.  Tony laid back and let both his girls nap on his chest.  Callia was in heaven and she wouldn't get up all night.  Pepper either.

Clay and John shared a smirk then went to their rooms.  Clay pulled Jensen away from his current game on his tablet so he would too.  Now that Dawn and Clint were done they could sleep.


Clint flinched when Callia pounded, kissing Dawn to stifle her new yell of pleasure.  She moaned and went limp against him.  He pulled her closer.  "She's mouthy like her mom," he quipped quietly.

"She is."  She smiled and kissed him.  "Thankfully I'm on both methods still."

He blinked at her.  "Is your magic interfering like it made you the parts you were missing?"  She winced but nodded.  He kissed her, rolling her underneath him.  "If it does, it does."

"It does," she agreed with a sigh at the end, kissing him back.  Their hands were clasped and he started to move in her again, making her happy and sated at the same time.  "Remind me to get Natasha a protection amulet in case it does it to her?"

"Of course I will."  He moaned at the very thought.  He couldn't see Natasha pregnant.  Dawn was really the 'wife' of their trio and Natasha was somewhere between the husband and wife of the trio.  He was clearly the husband.  That worked well for them.  Though he'd love any spawn that came from his ladies.  Dawn clenched around him and he stared down at her. 

She moaned, getting off from the focus he was showing.  She loved being under his total focus. He slowed down, drawing it out for her, staring down at her.  She shivered but pulled him down to kiss her.  It was all the invitation he needed to finish off and then go down to tease her into coming one last time.  She sighed in pleasure and went limp.  He came up to let her cuddle him.  It was always great with his ladies.


Xander watched Phil spar and nodded.  They had been up here for months out of time.  Phil's already nice muscles were more defined now.  He was good with a sword, an axe, and daggers, but hadn't gotten the hang of the sickles that Xander used to favor.  His total concentration on the battle he was in was sexy as hell and Xander was getting hard watching him.  The other trainees had ganged up on him to show where he was in his skills. 

The masters were watching.  Finally they called a halt and Phil healed his injuries before his fellow trainees' injuries.  Xander walked down to get one last one that was trying not to admit he had been stabbed in the stomach.  "You did good," he told that one.  "You need a shield mate."  The guy blushed and nodded, bowing and moving.  Xander called his weapons to him.  He looked at Phil.  "Ready for the later lessons?"

Phil got some water and drank it, then came back.  He could read Xander's emotional and physical state without trying now.  He could tell he was pleased, and aroused, by the battle he had just fought.  That sort of response had been denied to him during his training but he understood why.  Though, frustration and a hard on did not make a battle any easier.  "I am."

Xander smiled and attacked.  He and Phil danced back and forth then Xander sent a harmless spell at him during it.  Phil caught on and they added powers.  It got harder and heavier.  The trainees watching were moaning as they moved and shifted.  Xander lost his t-shirt and spun to get Phil from the side but Phil still blocked and smiled at him.  Xander smirked back.  It was good.  They were well matched. 

They switched weapons by silent accord to heavier swords.  They were still going at it and Xander was adding in deadlier power hits.  Phil was too.  They moved to battle axes and that got them closer than the swords.  They were both sporting minor injuries, nothing that would make them stop.  Phil was moaning quietly.  Xander's eyes were dark with lust and hunger.  Finally, Xander won and claimed his prize in a deep kiss.  Phil moaned into his mouth, surrendering.  Xander pulled them into their elemental forms, surrounding Phil, making him beg, whine, and writhe against his powers touching him. 

They came back to human naked and groping.  Phil went onto his back on the sand and Xander claimed him then and there, darkening the mark on his throat as he rode him hard and fast.  Phil winced once but he found his mark and bit into it, drawing blood.  Xander moaned and did the same.  They both came and the earth shook a bit and there was a flash of power.  Phil moaned, panting hard.  "Xander," he said quietly.

"Mine," he said in his ear.  "My mate."  A gong rang out and they looked up.  He shrugged and kissed him again.

"Your mate."  Xander moaned into his mouth.  "We gave a show," he said quietly.

"They already wanted you, Phil.  Now they know that you're properly claimed."  He took another kiss then pulled back and cleaned them up with his powers.  He gathered the weapons so they could be put up, bowing at the master dwarves.  "You have done an excellent job with my mate.  Thank you."

"You're most welcome, Alexander.  He is more than worthy of you."

Xander grinned.  "In every way imaginable."

Phil bowed.  "Thank you for your attention, time, and training, Masters.  I'm most honored to have learned from you."  They nodded back.  He looked at Xander.

"You're excused.  Until you're with godling then you can come back to protect yourself better," the head of the school said.

Phil blushed.  "I'm not really thinking about that yet."  They laughed and Xander smiled, leading him back to his room to pack them up so they could go home.   They appeared in regular Asgard at Xander's cabin.  "How much time did we spend there?"

"Six months there, only a week Asgard time," Xander said after checking.

Phil stripped off and walked over to Xander.  "Good.  We have time."

Xander smiled.  "Not chilly?"  He started the fire.

"No, not chilly.  You ignited a fire in my blood, mate."  Xander growled and kissed him.  Phil pulled him closer.  "Can I claim you, Xander?"

"Yes."  Phil flashed them upstairs and Xander naked, taking him to the bathroom to clean him off for his pleasure.  Xander shivered.  This was more civilized than Xander was when he had claimed Phil.

Phil nibbled on his throat.  "You claimed me as a mate in all your forms, including the hyena," he said in his ear.  "I don't have that part but I'm going to claim you with all the parts of me."  Xander nearly went limp.  Phil nibbled while he cleaned him off.  Then himself.  He got them out and dried, then cleaned Xander out.  Xander moaned at the feeling of the fizzy enema.  "It's something I learned in one of the books.  It used to be used to prepare virgin sacrifices to give themselves to their gods," he said in his ear.

"You are my god, Phil."

"I know I am."  He kissed him.  "The same as you're mine, Xander."  Xander moaned and they cleaned him out.  Then Phil made sure he was clean enough to eat off of.  He took Xander out to their bed, kicking the trundle back under it.  Xander got laid out on his back and Phil inhaled his scent.  Fully clean.  Fully Xander.  Soon to be Phil's scent overtop of him.  He rubbed them together while they kissed, then slowly moved backwards, nibbling on each piece of flesh he could reach.  Xander had a chest full of tiny bite marks that showed up well against his pale skin.  He finally got to his cock and licked it, making Xander tense up.  Phil smiled.  He pulled the special oil he had made for when they got to this point.  "Are you sure?" he asked.

Xander nodded.  "Yes, Phil."

"Good."  He stuck a finger in the oil, using it to coat the outside flesh.  It was odorless.  It was a pressed oil from a few nuts that were only found up here on Asgard.  Thor had mentioned the nuts once so he had Alana find him some.  He gently smoothed a finger into Xander's body, making him arch up and pant.  "Relax.  I have you."  He went back to it, making his body twitch and move on his fingers.  He tried Xander's trick of turning his fingers elemental and realized why he liked doing it.  You could feel his pulse through the thin fleshy walls.  It was like he was connected again to Xander's whole being and Xander was nearly coming from the feeling of the elemental powers. 

He moved up to two fingers with a bit more oil.  He didn't want to use too much.  Just enough to make it easier.  He tormented Xander by teasing near his prostate.  Then he nudged it and watched Xander arch up again, grabbing the headboard to ground himself.  "Hands down," he ordered gently.  Xander stared at him.  "Hands down, Xander.  I want to be your anchor."  Xander moaned but did that for him.  He smiled and switched up to three fingers.

"Phil, now, please?" he begged.

"You're still tight."

"I don't care!" he begged.  Phil put the oil aside after slicking himself down.  He slid in, grabbing Xander's hands to hold.  Xander panted and wiggled but Phil gave him a chance to rest.  Then he slowly pulled out and then back in.  Xander licked their fingers then looked at him.  "Those aren't for eating."

Phil kissed him.  "I'm not eating them, Xander.  I'm using it to line your ass so I can plunder it until you beg me to claim you."  He shifted and stared down at him as he slowly rode him.  Xander was losing his mind.  He could feel the prayers.  He sent back a few, which made Xander blink at him.  He smiled.  "You're mine and I'm yours in all meanings of the words, Xander."

"You're mine and I'm yours," he agreed.  He got his hands free and pulled Phil down.  "Please, Phil?"

"I want you to come first.  That way you know that you're ready."

"I'm so ready."  He pulled off and went to his knees.  Phil growled and nibbled his neck, earning a shiver.  "Phil, please claim me?" he begged.  "I need you."

"I need you too, Xander."  He slid in.  It was harder, faster, deeper, and Xander was making enough noise to cover up a fully orgy full of people.  He heard the prayers for relief and leaned down.  "No relief yet," he whispered.  "No mercy, no relief, and no easier riding."

"Oh, god," Xander moaned.  "Phil."

"Mine, Xander.  Vow it."

"Yours!" he shouted and Phil nibbled on his throat.  "Phil!"  He got bitten hard and Xander moaned, going limp as he came.  Phil finished off, still attached to Xander's throat.  Xander let him, even tipping his head to the side to let him have better access.  Phil kissed the area then pulled back so he could kiss his mate.  Xander blinked at him.  "I love you."

Phil smiled.  "I love you too."  He kissed him and the gong went off again.  "That's really annoying.  Is that going to keep happening?"

"I think only if one of us gets knocked up."  He looked up.  "Can you cut it out please?"  Whoever was doing it quit.  He looked at Phil and shrugged.  "We'll find out."

"We will.  Probably at the next banquet."  He took another kiss and settled in to hug Xander.  "In a few minutes, when I've caught my breath, I'm tying you to the bed and having you so hard you beg for mercy."

Xander smiled.  "I don't usually beg."

"You do, Xander, and I think it's just as pretty as you do when you make me."  Xander blushed but smiled and cuddled in.  "Tomorrow I might let you do the same thing."

"Tomorrow we're blessing the hearth stone together," he said, teasing Phil's stomach.

Phil had finally figured out what that meant and smiled, kissing him.  "I'm still your spouse."

"You're my mate," Xander corrected.  "In all meanings of the word, Phil."  He stared at him.

"Good."  He took another kiss.  "I wouldn't have it any other way."  Xander shivered but got comfortable.  He pulled a quilt up over them and snuggled into it.  Xander was a furnace but Phil had learned how to handle the cold up here.  All it took was Xander to make him warm.

The End.

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