Female Old Ones At Work And Play.

Dawn looked up as a SHIELD agent she didn't know ran off the elevator.  "Emergency?" she asked.

"Demonic one," he said.  "We have to get you there now, Mrs. Barton."  She grabbed her bag and yelled into the office since they were in there making out.

"Need me?" Stark called.

"It's demonic, sir!  Maybe.  We're not really sure what to do!"  He got Dawn down to the SUV and drove her to the riverfront by the Intrepid Museum.  Dawn blinked at what was petting the ship.  She looked at him.  "What is that?" he demanded, pointing at it.

"That is a kraken.  I knew we had one by New Jersey a few years back."  She walked over to it, casting a telling spell then a translation spell.  Not like she spoke demon plant language.  "Excuse me, Kraken?  Please quit petting the battleship?  It'll make a lot of people paranoid."  It turned a few tentacles to her, making her smile.  "I know, I'm not a virgin princess.  This is New York City, there's not a lot of those here.  Of either category.  All we have are some society sluts.  They're rich but not royalty and they're easy so they haven't been virgins for *years*."  It burbled something and she nodded.  "I know, any hole on a storm," she agreed.  "But they're not here."  It burbled something.  She looked at the human agent.  "Society sluts were here?"

"They were doing a photo shoot for a supposed PETA calendar.  Does it matter?  Did it come after them?"  He was nervously watching the reporters show up, putting on his sunglasses so he might be harder to identify.

"Yup.  Ideally it'd like a virgin princess but...  It's been a while since anyone gave it the favorite playtoy."

"Playtoy?" he asked, looking hesitant.

"You know those whales that filter out the little shrimp-looking things?"  He nodded quickly, grinning some.  "Kraken eat those same shrimp-looking things."  The kraken complained.  "I know.  All the shipping barges have fouled the water to the point where we can't eat from it either.  I'm sorry but we're a major metropolitan city.  Just think, they filter that for our drinking water."  The kraken shuddered.  She looked at the confused looking agent again.  "It's horny, dude.  It wanted a virgin princess to play with."

He winced.  "I don't think we have any of those we can give over, ma'am."

"I know.  See if that society witch that you guys have in some sort of custody will volunteer.  If not, we'll need some swords and some salt."

"Ummmmmm....."  He tapped his earpiece, calling that in.  He was only supposed to be tailing someone when this thing popped up.  He wasn't sure what to do.  He was barely in his agent training.  The CIA never taught him how to deal with this!

"Don't you dare pet it!" was shouted over the line.

"Ma'am, I believe your spouse said not to pet it."

"I'm not.  It's not housebroken, the cat would hate it when it chased it to screw it, and I *do* have sense.  Though my husband is sleeping on the couch tonight."  She smiled.  "You can tell him I said that."

Tony landed in his suit, staring at the beast.  "For some reason I'm flashing back to pictures that made me give myself a concussion a few weeks back."

"Yeah, and it wants to recreate it," Dawn quipped with a grin for him.  He opened the faceplate to glare at her.  "Not my fault!  The society sluts were here earlier to do a photo shoot.  It smelled all the sperm on them and showed up!"  She turned back around.  "Though, if that prince that wanted me so hard was still around....."

"Your husband needs to quit doing range time," Tony complained.

"He's sleeping on the couch tonight anyway.  He told me not to pet it because I'm *so* my niece's age."

He looked at her.  "Once we get home, you're taking an EPT."

"Probably not going to count considering I started last night, boss," she said, glaring at him.  "But thanks for asking and I'll expect chocolate ice cream for dinner because you got so nosy.  The really good stuff."  She looked over as someone came up to complain about what she had called her.  Dawn looked at her.  "Honey, I get dick whenever I ask nicely or just look hot, which is nearly every day.  Clearly, some of you get it more than me since it smelled all the sperm from the ocean."  The girl shrieked and stomped off.  Dawn stopped the tentacle.  "I know," she told it.  "She's the sort that could've been a duchess at least in the old days.  You have to ask her if she wants to volunteer to save you by helping you go away for a bit.  It's not my call, it's hers."

Xander appeared.  "Maybe some of those girls that say they like animals?" he offered.

"Eww," Dawn complained.

"Probably close enough."  He swatted the tentacle reaching for him.  "My husband would be very upset with me."  It moaned.  "I've never heard one make noises out loud.  Huh."  Phil stomped up with his sword.  "Hi, Phil."

"Xander."  He looked at it.  "We went over how to kill them theoretically."

"Clear the mouth, then salt bomb it," Dawn told him.  "But we'd like for it to just take a present and go away."

"I don't know anyone who would sleep with a pile of demonic seaweed," Tony said.  He looked at Xander and Phil.  "She's in a bad mood."

Xander nodded.  "She's got PMS, Stark.  Feel lucky she hasn't grabbed a sword."  He stabbed the tentacle reaching for them.  "No, you don't touch what's mine, Kraken."  Phil smirked ever so slightly at him.

Colonel Rhodes appeared and landed.  "People, the Pentagon wants this thing *off* the ship."

"Then take off the armor and take one for the Pentagon," Dawn quipped.  "It really wants a hole, Rhodey."

"I've never been that drunk in my life," he assured her sarcastically.

"I don't think I have either and I've done a whole lot of drinking in my tender years," Tony said, then shook his head quickly.  His comm opened up to Fury shouting at him.  "Well, then, find it someone to screw, Fury.  I'm not doing it.  Dawn's not doing it."

"Death row inmates?" Xander suggested.  "They might live but most of them haven't had any."

Phil looked at him.  "No.  Not even I'm that mean.  Not even Barton's that mean, Xander."

"Fine, just trying to help."  He looked around.  "Why come here?  I mean, tourists, but not a lot of people."

"There was a celebutante photo shoot for a charity PETA calendar earlier," Dawn said.

"Ah!  It found slutty girls with sex tapes online.  Good to know."  Stark walked off snickering to calm down the agent.

"The CIA did not prepare me for this!" he complained loudly.  "I have no idea what to do with horny tentacle monsters!"

Phil looked over.  "First, quit losing your temper and your cool," he instructed.  "It almost never helps.  Second, calm down.  Think logically, problem solve.  It's what a good SHIELD agent does.  We don't lose our cool under any circumstances, even if the world is about to end."  He looked at Dawn again.  "Has it made any demands?"

"No, it just wants two tentacle toys."  She shrugged.  "I suggested Elmeer since she's in custody."

"Probably not a good idea."  Though, privately, he liked the death row inmates idea.  If he was sure they were guilty.  Too many were found innocent these days upon reexamination of evidence.

Xander stopped Maria Hill and Tara.  "No!  Sorry.  Pregnant women are like candy."  He walked them off and handed them to the driver of the SHIELD SUV.  "They're not allowed near there.  The babies are like candy."  The driving agent nodded.  He walked back.  Fury was trying to get things handled.  Xander shook his head and whistled.  "People!  Really!  Not helping!"  He looked around.  "We have two choices.  We can give it a tentacle toy or two or we can kill it."

"Vampires?" Dawn offered with a grin.

Xander looked at her.  "I know I hate vampires like you do, Dawn, but they're still former living people.  They should be given a choice."

"Fuck that, they won't drown," Fury complained.  "They can go play."

"People are fighting for their rights," Dawn reminded him.

"So?" he snorted.  "They don't have any yet.  They're monsters.  It'll be like a Japanese movie or some shit like that.  The only better thing would be Bigfoot if it was real."

"They are, but they get hellishly pissed when they're wet," Dawn and Xander said together.

"Talk about losing your shit," Dawn complained.  "We saw one that fell into a lake by accident."

Xander nodded.  "I drenched one trying to drive it off with holy water.  It nearly ripped me a new one until Roque and John saved me," he agreed.  "But that was way back when the calendar was barely running forward."

Fury slumped, shaking his head.  "Do they pose a threat to the world?"

"Maybe if you got them all wet at the same time," Dawn offered.  "But usually they're content to hide and bear kids."

"Quit petting the ship!" Rhodey yelled.  Dawn cast the translation spell for him.  He repeated it.  The kraken growled back.  He shuddered and walked off rubbing his metal arms.  "It said it smells like sperm."

"The Intrepid was in a lot of major battles," Dawn said.  "I'm sure they had more than a few 'whoo hoo, we survived the battle' moments over the decades she was in service, Rhodey.  The kraken could probably say that about any ship in the Navy's vast fleet, except maybe the tiny ones."

Colonel Rhodes looked at her then at Stark.  "Did you test something on her?"

"No.  She's cranky."

"It's the truth," Xander said with a shrug.  "Even Navy guys and Marines celebrate living through major battles."

Fury looked at him.  "Don't help," he ordered.  Xander rolled his eyes.

Phil wouldn't mention he had seen a few of those in his years.  "While probably true, not the time," he noted to keep both sides happy.  Fury glared at him.  "It's not.  This is not the moment to air out those thoughts.  Right now, we need to make a decision on which method we're using to disperse this problem."  He felt a few more of the agents under his aegis show up and looked back at them.  No Natasha.  That was odd.  He looked at the kraken again.  "Do we know anyone who would offer?"

"They probably wouldn't drown," Xander said.  "As long as the kraken liked them and took care of them they'd be fine with them."

"What about any other sentient creatures in the water?" Fury asked.

"Mermen and the kraken have been at war for centuries because the kraken try some now and then.  It'll create a full group attack on the kraken to get their vulnerable members back.  If I remember right, there may have been a cross-species pregnancy once but they killed it, the mother, and the kraken.  That was part of a strange history I read so I'm not sure if they're certain or not."

Dawn shook her head.  "Makes sense.  The mermen I've seen did have a similar skin look."

"They did," Xander agreed with a grin.

Fury rubbed his forehead.  "So our two choices are to fight it, or to give it what it wants?"

"It only wants two sluts," Dawn said.  "It'd really love two virgins but I doubt we can find two over the age of consent that wouldn't freak out."

"I don't know *why*," Rhodes said sarcastically.  "Not like it's *normal* or anything."

Dawn looked at him.  "Hey, take one for the team, Colonel."  She smiled.  "It's a bisexual being.  They got given spare princes too."  He stomped off shaking his head.  She looked at the agents again, shrugging slightly.  "He was being negative and annoying by not having solutions.  He can go talk to it.  Maybe he can talk it out of going near any Navy ships it might find."

"Let's feel *really* lucky it's not Fleet Week," Tony agreed.  He calmed himself.  The thing was reaching for Dawn so he shot at a tentacle.  "Not her either."  It went limp and seemed to pout.  He looked at a slight streak of silver that went past his head.  The kraken yelled but it was quickly being frozen.  "Thanks, Barton," he called.  He turned up the heat inside his suit.

Dawn looked back there and smiled.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  Before it talked its way into someone's house."  He climbed down and walked over.  He looked at Dawn.  "It was going to try for you."

"It was trying for everyone with a hole or two, dear."

"Good point."  He smirked.  "Maybe it thinks you'd be tasty."

"I've never had much of a comparison of tastes so I can't officially tell you how I rate on the tasty scale.  Have to ask someone who did."  She gave him a pointed look.

"You rank pretty high up there according to the vampire that just talked to your livejournal," Tony called.  "Pepper read it to me."

Dawn shrugged.  "Tell her to tell Spike hi for me."  She looked at the other agents.  "Okay, now what?"

"The sucker gets burnt," Fury said.  "We'll have to somehow pull it onto land."

Dawn snorted.  "It can be up to fifty miles of tentacles, Fury.  How are you going to do that?"

He blinked.  "That big?"

"The one in the Mediterranean is about that big but it's really old," Xander admitted.  "This one may be a few hundred years old so maybe a few miles of tentacles."

Fury blinked a few times.  "Okay," he decided.  "Find a way to burn it, Stark."

"Pull the central bit up in a crane and start there?" he offered.

"Any tentacles leftover can start a new one," Dawn and Xander said together.

"Two or more left to live will definitely start one," Dawn added with a grin for him.  "That's why cutting off tentacles was a bit risky.  You had to make sure it was dead when it got cut off."

Tony nodded.  "Okay."  He considered it.  "Let's get a fishing net to scoop it all up and then we'll take it somewhere safer to burn, like where they do drug seizures."  Fury called that in.  They had to know someone who fished, right?  Well, apparently not but Stark found one through Pepper and they handled it for them.  The agents got to disperse.  Dawn and Xander walked off talking about kraken and how they could use the tentacles in modern things, like cosmetics.

Stark looked at her.  "No one would buy that."

Dawn grinned.  "There's a compound in their tentacles that will retard aging.  It does in their tentacles."  Tony paused to look at her.  She smiled.  "They never get wrinkly tentacles, never look aged, they just add on more."

"I need a few dead ones to test," Tony said, going to take a cutting sample.  Because there were women who'd spend millions on an anti-aging serum that actually worked. Even if it came from a demonic sea creature's slime.

Clint steered Dawn off, walking her toward the cabs.  "Going to deposit her at her desk, sir," he called.  "Before something else wants her."

"It didn't want me.  It wanted the celebutantes who were here earlier," she said dryly.

He looked at her as he helped her into a cab.  "Don't care.  It tried to reach for you too."  He got in with her and grinned at her.  "Even if you're out of your 'every bad thing wants you' years, we're still a bit paranoid."

"Where's Natasha?"

"No idea," he admitted.  "I was wondering that myself."  He let her lean against his arm.  It was comfortable and midtown traffic was once again hell so it took nearly thirty minutes to get her back to the tower.  He got her upstairs and deposited at her desk, setting in to watch her work.  She blushed but he grinned.

Pepper came out.  "The vampire wasn't Spike."

"Well, there was one that tried to bite me one night at a club," she admitted.  "But I thought I staked him.  Who was it?"


"No, that's Angel's other childe and he's a bit psycho," she said bluntly, getting onto her livejournal to take his comment off and note that he wouldn't know.  They'd have to ask Spike as she had helped him when he was critically injured helping the LA team once.  The only other one was staked and gone for trying.  She posted it and got back to work, handing Pepper the mail.

Clint grinned at Pepper.  "I'm making sure nothing else wants her today."

"Probably only reporters, Barton, but sure.  Just as long as she can work."  She went back to her desk.  Clint was possessive and protective but not in a bad way usually.  She'd put up with him making Dawn blush and make typos.  She brought it back and let Dawn correct it.  "Proofread it first, even if he's making you blushy," she said with a smile.

"I did that last night, boss, not today."  She did that and reprinted it.  "Sorry, forgot to proofread."  She got back to work.  Her phone rang and she answered it.  "Dawn Summers' desk."  She listened.  "No, Marigold, that one vampire wouldn't know.  He's Angel's psychotic childe.  Yes, even compared to Dru.  He's a Puritan.  Literally a Puritan."  Clint shuddered.  "Yup, one of them.  Sure, have fun with that.  I thought he was dead but remember not to wake Faith up.  She's grumpy when she first gets up."  She hung up and got back to work.

Pepper walked off shaking her head.  "Weird things should've stayed in LA," she complained.

"Why do you think they make so many paranormal shows about New York?" Dawn quipped.  "They started here and spread to LA, boss."

"We need to move the company."

Dawn laughed.  "Tell us where."

"I can do that."  She sent a text to Tony, who agreed he hated the weird things but that Dawn was right and he was swearing about it.  The sample of slime had rejuvenated a skin sample and a piece of old leather.  Pepper sent back a virtual pat and let him bang his head on that idea.  There may be some people who were that desperate.  Definitely in LA and Hollywood.


Natasha came in at lunch and sat down beside Clint.  "I was with a younger agent who had a...problem on assignment," she said quietly.

Dawn looked over.  She had just read her wife's mind and was shuddering.  "Can we help her any?"

"No.  She's out of the hospital.  I was escorting her to her mother's house.  She had been captured for over four months."  Clint full-body shuddered.  "I made sure she had the name of a good therapist near her and all the paperwork in order since Agent Hill was helping the other two they found with her.  Both males."

"Which is harder because they're going to face a lot of 'but you're a guy' thinking people," Dawn said quietly.  "If any of them need help I can give, you let me know."

"I will."  She smiled slightly.  "Joyce has them in good hand."

"Mom's the best when you need hugged," Dawn agreed.

"Thankfully our shrinks are all former agents," Clint said quietly.  "They won't give them shit for it."  Dawn looked at him.  "It wasn't always that way.  We had one that wasn't and started to become judgmental about what happened on assignment to a few women.  The other shrinks all killed him.  No one's sure how but we heard rumors about tribal male bonding ceremonies over beating him to death."

"I heard Aztec sacrificing rituals," Natasha admitted, crossing her legs.  "If so I'd rather not know any more."

"They were cruel and really big jackasses about those sort of things," Dawn agreed.  She shook her head and got back to work.

Clint and Natasha shared a look then looked at Dawn.  "What did happen when you visited those ruins?"

She smiled.  "I ran into a mystically hidden pocket universe where people were still living like Mayans.  Thankfully, the Spanish Conquistador who was using his magic to help them was really evil and they were a bit scared when I lit up some of my own to protect myself.  I apologized for accidentally finding them and got out of there."

Natasha looked at her.  "Why did you not tell us?"

Dawn shrugged.  "No one without magic can find them.  I had a talk with the local PD about them.  They'd heard sightings of ghosts.  One of them recognized me from the news and he said he'd make a note to tell tourists to stay away from that set of ruins.  They'd had one researcher that went missing around there already."  Clint groaned, looking down and shaking his head.  "So that area's off-limits."

Natasha stared at her.  "You still could have shared that information, Dawn."  She typed out a text to someone.  That way other spies would hear about it and not go there either unless necessary.  She put her phone up, looking up to find Pepper staring at Dawn oddly.  "There were a few such moments on our trip."

"I had no doubt there were some," she said dryly.  "Did you get tested for any strange jungle-related diseases?"

"Um.... no comment," Dawn said with a smile.  "Because I'm not allowed to.  Clint said so."

"Sure, put it on me," he said dryly.  "Yeah, someone tried to give her something.  We stopped it and made sure she didn't get sick, Pepper.  I also made her get a whole new set of shots after that.  Just in case."

Pepper sighed, going back to text that at Tony.  Clint's phone beeped with one a minute later and he answered it to both of them.  She looked out there.  "They can't find it, right?"

"No.  And don't ever ask that question about Xander," Dawn reminded her.

"Yeah, probably a great idea."  She shuddered.

Natasha leaned over to look in there.  "Never teach her how to track by playing tag in the jungle unless you're well armed.  We kept running into problems."

"Which is why there's now none in that area," Dawn quipped.  "It is now the safest part of Central America because of rumors of a redheaded she-demon who gets vengeance for their victims.  The last one who tried to move in after we left we went back to get."

"They were causing problems for the very pleasant villagers," Natasha said dryly.  "Two of those weren't my doing however."

"Clint?" Pepper asked.

"Not me."


"What?  They had me hostage, Pepper.  Screw 'em."

"They did?" Clint asked.  "You never said that, Dawn," he said dryly.  She flapped a hand in the air and grinned as she typed.  He looked at Natasha.

"I did not know either.  I simply thought them tacky so she eliminated the threat to good taste."

"No.  One was determined I was going to be his wife because I knew about weapons.  He was going to force me, had the priest there and all that.  So he kindly got to give last rites and gave me a look like I was Satan."  She looked at her wife then grinned.  "I reminded him women have the right to say no, even in Catholic countries.  He hadn't listened so therefore I was justified before he could touch me further.  Then I walked off and had to take out his son because he was trying to stop me in some misguided Daddy-issue thing."  She shrugged and got back to work.  "They should've taken my 'no' seriously.  Especially when it went to 'hell no'."

Clint and Natasha shared another look.  "And you didn't tell us why?" he asked.  He'd ignore Pepper giggling in the office.

She smiled.  "Not like they were going to give us more problems and you were busy, dear."  She printed something and walked it into the office.

"Don't worry, guys, we got the same thing from her more than once," Pepper said.  "Tony used to ask that same question about why no one told us she had been momentarily taken."

"Don't remind me," Natasha complained.

Dawn leaned down to kiss her.  "You were pretty hot as Sonya.  Very staid and yet hinting at pleasures that made celibate monks break that vow."  She sat down again.

"One did?" Clint asked her.

Natasha crossed her legs in the other direction, shaking her head.  "No, that was a myth."

"Not hardly," Pepper complained.  "He got arrested for it later."

Natasha squeezed her eyes shut.  "I was perfectly covered."

"Yes, but everything about you exuded sex appeal," Dawn said, looking at her.  "I radiated cuteness.  You radiated on the sexy bitch level, dear, and it showed.  I still can't look sexy like you can."  She got back to work.

"Yes you can," Clint said.

"I can't ever be as sexy as she is, Clint.  She has a PhD in it and I barely have a Bachelor's and maybe working on my Masters of Fine Arts in it."  She looked at him.  "It's a realistic thing.  I know that and I accept it.  With her, it's who she is.  Just like I can never be a redhead with the same sort of style, and she can't be a brunette with mine, we each have our strengths and weaknesses.  You love us because of them."

"Still sounds like you're putting yourself down."

"No, she's right.  I cannot be Dawn and she cannot be me," Natasha agreed.  "Though I do find you sexier than I am."

Dawn smiled.  "That's because women tend not to see ourselves as we are to quote a psych teacher, who still thinks you're an allegorical myth."  She opened the new mail that got delivered and looked.  She huffed and handed one to Natasha and Clint.  "Next kraken that shows up, the Russian mob can go to them instead.  I'm sure they'll enjoy being treated like they want to treat helpless women they have captive."  She sorted the others.  "Hmm."  She dialed chemistry.  "Tell MB her mother wrote.  It's in the main mail.  Thanks."  She hung up and put it aside then handed Pepper hers and Tony's.   Because one was probably a proposition to him.  She came out when MB came off the elevator, handing it over.

She looked at it then shook her head.  "I want it scanned.  My mother was freaky when I tried to talk to her the other night."

"Sure."  She took her down to security.  "Guys, MB's mother sent her a letter after being freaky again.  Can you scan it?"  They nodded, taking it to scan.  The machine immediately put a glass case around it and started to beep.  "Good call."  She went up to look over Tony and Pepper's mail, bringing the one to Tony down there.  It got put under the same scrutiny and failed it the same way.  "Huh.  So apparently she thinks that Tony decided you were getting pregnant against your will again," she said dryly.

MB shook her head.  "It's possible she thinks Tony slipped it to me and told Andrew it was his," she said bitterly.  "My mother needs help."

Dawn nodded.  "If that's a biological substance, she's getting help."  MB moaned and shook her head.  "Yeah.  Because sending that through the mail is a federal offense, MB."

"Damn it!"  She walked off.  "Let me call my sister to warn her."

Dawn looked at them.  "Is the FBI actually answering things?"

"Nope," the head of security said.

Dawn nodded.  She looked up the number through her phone and called it.  "Hi, may I please speak to Agent Silestine please?"  She got put on hold and another one answered.  "Ma'am, I know you aren't Agent Silestine.  No, I'm reporting that a biological substance got sent to my workplace.  Our scanners picked up what looks like ricin.  Because I know him.  Half of you won't answer calls to our office because you got butt nibbled when you didn't tell us someone put out a contract on our boss's daughter. 

"Yes, I do work at Stark.  That's fine.  I have contacts in DC.  I'll be talking to them next."  She hung up and called down there.  "Special Agent Billit please?  Yes, it's important.  Because I used to date him and someone just sent me what our company's scanners said is ricin."  She got put through after a very short hold time.  "You know damn well they're not going to answer it, Carl.  Yeah, two.  MB's mother.  One to her and one to Stark. 

"In security.  Please.  Yeah, they're still not answering due to the ass biting.  Then they should've told us, dude."  She smiled.  "That was our thought, yeah.  Please.  Thank you.  Security, yes.  We can do that."  She hung up.  "Institute harder screening."  They nodded, putting it into place.  It had been before and got removed.  She went back up there.  "I talked to our former geek that went FBI.  He's sending someone to pick up the ricin that MB's mother sent," she told Pepper from the doorway.  "I tried the local office first.  Permission to rant on my lj?"

"Please do," Pepper agreed with a sigh at the end.  "MB?"

"Calling her sister to warn her that someone was going to be arresting their mother."  She sat down to compose a message about how much of a shame it was that the FBI was dirtying itself by their current pouty temper tantrum.  She included why they were being pouty and throwing fits like a toddler.  Then she posted it and smiled, patting her monitor.  "Good social networking."  She got back to the routine things.

Clint read the post and smiled.  "Butt nibbling is good," he agreed.

Dawn smiled at him.  "Yes, it is."

He reloaded it.  "You got a 'how dare you say that' from a person who has a magazine in their user name."

She looked at it and smiled.  "Yes, he is a reporter.  A blowhard like on FOX News."  She sent him a private message offering the information to him.  It was in the open since they had filed suit against the agents for doing that.  He sent back an immediate response wanting to know where it was filed.  So she sent over copies of the filed petition.  He sent back a 'thank you' and said he'd look into it.  She shrugged and answered the agent who said she was dirtying their agency.  She pointed out that they had dirtied themselves and if they wanted to quit dirtying it then they should quit pouting. 

Because sending a biological weapon to an office was still a federal offense under their job description and they weren't handling it because of the pouty moods.  She also pointed out another ten failures their local office had had recently.  Most of them in the press.  The other one was how she had asked them to look into the hostages she had found and they had refused because, oh my god, the Russian mob was *tough*.

Her phone rang but Pepper came out to get it.  "That's mean," Pepper said.  "Thank you for calling Stark International, how may I direct your call?  Yes, this is she.  No, I was walking past Dawn's desk and answered it since she's answering a whiny agent who said that they're the bestest ever," she said dryly.  "It was filed in the local Federal Court, Marigold."  Dawn took it to talk to her.  "Sure."  She walked back in there.

Dawn hung up and grinned at the phone.  "Thank you, Marigold, for asking instead of just posting."  She got back to the responses.  A lot were 'they're thugs' but she corrected that they weren't.  Some of the agents were but not the agency as a whole.  She believed that they did good work, but some of the agents weren't worthy of the title.  Same as in any other official group with power there were jackasses who only wanted the power to give the bullies stronger influence.  She had run into some very nice agents over the years.  Most of them were in LA having to put up with celebutantes and their stalkers now.

Clint laughed.  "Yes, they are."

Pepper laughed.  "I think all the good ones are out there," she agreed.  "They certainly aren't local."  She called security.  Still no one picking those up.  "Huh."  She wrote on her own lj about not being particularly happy that they had been sent another weapon in the mail.  Her having that anthrax scare had been bad enough.  Then again, the FBI hadn't done anything with them either.  Stark had solved it and handed them to SHIELD.

"Pepper?" her desk phone asked in Tony's voice.  "Why are we making the FBI suck their thumbs?"

"Because they deserve it and they're acting like toddlers anyway."

"Oh, good."  He hung up.

She smiled at the phone.  Sometimes Tony was so adorably confused.  Then the rest he blew things up that made the building shake.

Dawn looked at the floor then up.  "That wasn't Thor showing up."  Clint and Natasha were checking weapons.  "No, stay," she ordered.  "You guys haven't went through our decontam training.  We deal with different things than SHIELD does," she pointed out at the pissed off looks.  She got up and put in her Stark-issued earpiece.  "It's Summers.  Who was it, what's the damage, and I'm sending Barton to evacuate the kids."  She nodded and pointed.  He went to do that.  "Don't forget the animals."  She walked around Natasha. 

"'Tasha, go help herd people out of the other tower.  That was someone firing on us."  She ran off to the walkway.  Dawn went down to hit the button.  "People, we were fired on by a wannabe villain," she announced over the speaker.  "Let's move now."  They filed out.  They had been drilled in this and how to handle it.  Both labs drilled every six months on how to handle most every single sort of emergency they could come up with.  She followed after checking the labs.  "JARVIS, make sure everything's on safe shut down."

"I only see one computer that's still on.  I'm shutting it down.  It looks like someone was hacking into it."

"Find out and report that to Stark," she noted.  She walked out and found the problem still going on.  She put up shields and then fired on the person to get him off the geeks.  "Try someone your own level, but we'd never let kids play with you."  He fired on her and she guarded herself.  Natasha and Clint both fired on him, taking him down.  "Find the others," she told the security team.  They ran to the other tower. 

"Geeks to the safety fallback," she reminded them.  They got into the cars taking them there.  Dawn looked, the other tower was in lock-down.  Each of the various shops had bulletproof door guards that had come down automatically.  The NYPD could get in by having their ID cards scanned. The people that were in the open were shielded by a few more of the shields covering the seating areas and the independent booths.  If the gunman was inside it, JARVIS could remove it so they could escape. 

So the bad guy was getting frustrated. 

The bulletproof door guards had been tested up to small rockets.  This one wasn't going to win.  He stomped out and started to fire on people again.  Dawn fired back and he turned his attention on her, which let the civilians stupidly standing there watching run.  "Yeah, make me go back to the bitch mode," she sneered.  "Watch me destroy you."  She fired magic now that she didn't have to guard more than a few stupid humans who were stuck staring at them. 

The guy shrieked and she hit him again, knocking him back.  Stark's defenses came on because he was in range for it.  Clint got him in the body armor.  Natasha got him in the leg body armor.  Dawn considered it then created something that made him drop his electronic shield to try to slap at.  He didn't like snakes inside his body armor.  Pity!  She fired off another blast once it was down, making his head explode.  She grimaced.  "Dumbass.  Do you know what sort of hell our geeks could've rained down on you?" 

She felt something move behind her and moved, turning to beat the shit out of the person attacking her.  "Great, another one."  She knocked him into the building and ducked his blow then spun and flipped out of the way, firing on him with her gun.  He had body armor on.  She attacked manually and magically instead.  He was sneering but she was still better.  She knew she was.  She was at the wrong angle for most any source of help except one of the agents on the ground.  She finally got him across the throat with her knife and moved in to exploit him gasping in pain.  She finished taking him down and killed him with a dagger to the eye. 

She stepped back, staring at him.  "Any others?" she asked, looking around.  She tapped her earpiece.  "It's Summers.  Any other idiots seen?"  She looked at the one stomping their way.  "No, that's an Avenger problem, guys.  We can back them up since everyone else isn't."  She funneled her shield and pointed.  "To the damn subway, people!"  They ran.  She put down the shield and checked.  No other higher minions she could see but Clint's arrow hit a suspiciously shielded person. 

His light bending harness got broken and he was shot a second later by a second arrow.  She smiled up at him.  "Thanks."  She looked around.  "I need pants," she complained.  "Doing this in a skirt sucks ass."  She cut up the sides to give her more room to move.  Pencil skirts were not meant to kick ass in.  She felt someone appear behind her and looked.  "Do we seriously need more magical help?" she demanded to the sorcerer who had once helped Xander with a curse on SHIELD.

"I felt a lot of magic being used."

Dawn waved a hand.  "Hello, have some of that.  Really.  Having to defend things here.  If you want, jump into the battle, dude."  She pointed at the giant robot.  "Really.  If not, evacuate yourself."  She moved when the robot shot at her.  She stared at it.  "Shut the fuck up," she told it.  "I'm not your playtoy."  It tried to fire on her again.  She summoned some of the weapons she had hidden and used it, blowing it back.  Stark took the opportunity to drive it back further and destroy it.  She looked up.  "Widow, do you have my necklace?" she called.

"I do," she called back.  "Thank you, Dawn.  Please go inside.  Send that civilian somewhere else."

Dawn looked at him.  "You heard the Avenger.  Go!  Shoo!"  He glared but disappeared.  She shook her head, taking shelter in the doorway.  She had a few other things held in storage.  Shrank but in storage.  She called out the few crates of them, kicking it open and pulling out something to enlarge it and hit the robot with again.

"No more poker," Clint yelled.

"Sorry.  It's your birthday present."

"I'll enjoy it later."  She opened the other one and pointed.  He looked.  "Send me those, Dawn."  She threw them magically at him and he caught them, using the new arrows.  Titanium and vibranium.  It went through the robot.  He adjusted his tension down and hit it again, hitting something that sparked.  "Stark, I need an ID of where to hit."  Suddenly a red light hit the robot's side and he hit that.  The robot screamed as an explosion rocked it. 

"Okay," he said.  "Need another one."  He smiled at Dawn since she was relaying the spots from Stark.  It changed and he hit that one.  That was another explosion and the left arm went limp.  Tony power kicked the head at full force and it flew off.  The robot fell onto a few abandoned cars but it was down.  Clint got off the walkway and headed down to make Dawn put up his birthday present.  He took a kiss and smiled.  "In *so* much trouble for winning more weapons at kitten poker.  Even if they're mine."  She smirked back and poked him on the side, hiding them again as she floated them inside. 

He went to help with the clean up.  Coulson was making agents check the towers and release them.  SHIELD ID's did release the gates.  Clint walked up to Stark.  "How many more of these should we expect?"

"No idea."  He looked at him.  "Those the new ones she was talking to one of our geeks about?"  Clint let him see.  "Hmm.  Pretty work."  He handed it back.  "Thank Petra.  She did them."

"I can send her a thank you card."  He looked at the robot.  It was still trying to move and not succeeding.  "How do we shut it down?"

Stark flew up and hit a spot with a mini rocket.  It shut down the robot.  "Emergency reset."  He landed again and put up his face shield, looking around.  "Not that big of a mess considering."

"No, not really," he agreed.  "Mostly caused by the minions."

Tony nodded.  "We can bill their boss."  They went off together.  Steve had been out of town on a mission and was sending him a text to make sure they were all right.  He sighed as he called.  "We're fine, Captain.  Really.  Not a single sprained anything."  He hung up and looked at the two spouses then at his waiting assistant, who was taking note of things for the insurance reports.  He looked at her.  "Weapons?"

She smiled.  "Clint needed a really great birthday present this year, boss.  It's an important one."

"Uh-huh.  We'll be talking about that."

"Oooh, spanking?" she quipped, making him cackle and shake his head.

"Hell no, that's his job."

"Not if he values having working fingers and hands," she shot back.

"Never spank you anyway," Clint said.  "I don't want to make you learn to enjoy it."  She gave him a pointed look then slapped him on the head.  "Hey!"  He adjusted his sunglasses.  "What was that for?"

"Breaking the walkway roof.  You didn't see the three ports that we have up there?"  He walked off shaking his head.  "You can help install the new panels too.  The workmen all complained about the cranky solar panels."  She smiled at Natasha.  "Great shooting, dear."

"Thank you."  She took a kiss and went inside.  News vans were showing up.  "Where is Bruce?" she asked.

"With Cap in Cambodia," Tony said, letting the machines take his suit off him.  "He knew some people there that could help from a few turns doing doctor things."

"Huh."  She sat down to clean her weapons.  Clint was cleaning his bow.  Dawn finally came in with cups of coffee for them and bottles of water on the tray.  She started to leave but Clint pulled her down between them.  "Are you all right?  You did get attacked."

"I'm good.  He wasn't easy but he wasn't too hard."  They looked at her.  "Really."  They nodded and let it drop for now.  They'd search her for bruises later.  "We really have to talk to that sorcerer wannabe, boss."

"I saw him show up.  I'll have Coulson go talk to him," he noted.  "He's the official liaison with all the magical support we find."  He gulped one bottle of water and took a second to sip.  "I need air conditioning in the suit.  I thought I only needed a heater for upper altitude things."  He sprawled.  "Barton, weren't you supposed to be taking the kids?"

"Phil took them and the animals Callia was already crating up."

"That's fine," he agreed.  "He'd never hurt the kids."  He yawned and finished that bottle of water.  "Pepper?"

"Waiting on the helipad for the last of the evacuations in case," Dawn said.  Tony got up and went to find her.  She looked at Natasha then at Clint.  "You two okay?"

"We weren't in any danger," Clint said.  He kissed her.  Then Natasha.  Who smiled.  "You good?"

"I'm fine.  A bit of adrenaline I'm working through."  Dawn turned to kiss her, making her moan.  "That's a very traditional way to work that out, Dawn."  Dawn used a few fingers to help her and it was more than good enough.  She moaned into her mouth as she came and went limp.  "Very nice, thank you."

"You're welcome."  She took another kiss and licked her fingers off.  She looked at Clint, offering him one.  He took it to suck clean then kissed her and pulled her into his lap.  "You needed more than a handjob?" she teased.

"Much more all the time."  He moved her skirt and panties, noticing the stockings.  His pants easily got unzipped and he slid into her.  She shifted position to make it easier on him.  He moaned and rode her hard and fast, letting her tease him and kiss him until he finally came.  He pulled her closer to kiss hard and fast, then used a finger, but Natasha was already helping them.  Dawn panted and arched back, head tipping back as she came.  Clint and Natasha both kissed her.  She heard someone coming and got off Clint's lap.  He adjusted himself.  Dawn smoothed down her skirt.  They were back to looking normal by the time Tony and Pepper came in.

Pepper pointed.  "Cameras," she said with a smile.

Dawn shrugged.  "They needed it.  You can't tell me you didn't help his adrenaline end, Pep."

"No, I can't."  She sat down.  Tony sprawled beside her, patting her stomach.  "It's fine, Tony."

Dawn smiled at Clint then at Natasha.  "Should I run over to the deli to get lunch?"

"Clean up first," Tony quipped.  Natasha and Clint stared at him.  "JARVIS.  He warned us to slow down.  You're lucky if whoever was hacking earlier didn't hit that."

Dawn looked up.  "JARVIS?"

"They did attempt it but I did block most of it, Dawn."

"Thank you.  Who?"

"One of those online reporters.  It's already on his blog."  He put it up for them to see.

Natasha sighed.  "I'll end him later."

Dawn kissed her and grinned.  She responded to it and told him that if he was hacking Stark security protocols she wanted to talk to him.  In person.  Within hours or she was going to show up with agents from SHIELD to see how he had hacked them.  Suddenly the blog was shut down.  "Thank you, Jensen."  She got up.  "Let me go clean up so Tony doesn't have to wonder how you two taste."  She winked and strolled off.

Natasha moaned, looking at Clint.  "We won't make work tomorrow."

He shrugged.  "I didn't have anything planned at work anyway, Nat."  He grinned when she swatted him.  "Rest if you want."

"I'm not that tired."

"Well, I am."  He settled in to nap in his comfortable sprawl.

Dawn came back from the deli blushing.  "They applauded."  She put the drink carrier down, handing Pepper hers and Tony his.  She swatted Clint with his and handed Natasha hers.  Then she handed out drinks.

"There's only four," Natasha complained.  "You need to eat too."

"I brought lunch.  I'm going to grab it."  She went up to grab it and bring it down.  She settled in to eat the leftovers of what Natasha had made for dinner.  That earned her a smile from her wife.  She grinned back.  "No one's going to note those five extra pounds for a while," she said finally to break the silence.  Clint poked her gently and got one back from the plastic fork.  He rolled his eyes.  She smiled.  "You know they do."

"I do.  I saw that the bitch that keeps nagging you about being twinkly as she put it finally found out you have money."

"Yup, and then she started to question why someone like me has money and if I do really have money like that why am I working.  I kindly finally answered her and told her why I have both money and a job.  Including that I wasn't a wasteland of wasted sperm like so many young wealthy women my age.  I intended to make the world a bit better before I died, unlike them whose only aspirations were alcohol poisoning olympic medals."  She ate another bite.  "She got huffy about the 'proper' ways."

Pepper laughed. "I saw that and I wrote a nice letter to her editor about how she had no idea about proper anythings since she was a serial marrying bitch who only went for higher and higher wallets.  Apparently the ones with titles could see through her money grubbing ways.  I also mentioned that modern women didn't need to see the stereotypes of earning your paycheck on your back."

Dawn smiled.  "That is something I hope I never have to do."  Tony choked.  "There may be a day I leave here and I hope my next boss isn't like that."

"Pepper, she just threatened to leave us," Tony complained.  "Make her stop before I sic the kids on her."

Pepper smiled.  "It's time for a contract negotiation anyway, Tony.  Besides, Dawn would never leave us.  We would sic the kids on her if she tried."  They smiled at Dawn.

"Hey, some day he may retire and you too.  Who says the board won't try something?"

"Then I'd kill them all," Pepper assured her happily.

Tony nodded.  "I'd help her cover it up."

Dawn grinned. "Sure, we can do that."  They smiled at her.  "Though I'm not due for a contract renegotiation for six months, Pepper."

"And you still haven't completed that language degree," Tony said with a smirk.

"Bullshit," Clint muttered.  "We're going next year to watch her walk a masters in it, Stark."  Tony gaped.  He nodded.  Natasha nodded too.  "Joyce ordered her to quit screwing around."  Dawn nodded and finished her lunch and diet soda.  Clint took the plastic bowl to toss away with his trash.

"We're almost out of those," Dawn told him.

"They never come clean in the dishwasher," he complained, tossing them out.  He did put her can in the recycling bin in there.  She hugged him.  "I heart you too to quote some graffiti on our building."

She laughed.  "I'm not so sure John didn't write that."  He grinned back.  She yawned.  "Let me go check on whoever showed back up."

"None of the other staff has come back yet," JARVIS said.  "The other tower is well guarded by agents having obvious meals and snacks.  Everyone seems to be calmed down and able to go on with their days.  The ones you helped protect have been cornered by a news crew and they all said it was really scary that you were holding them in place but it probably kept them from being smashed flat or something.  That you had given them opportunity to move and they hadn't taken it until you had made sure they got somewhere safer.  So they're all calling you heroic."  Dawn groaned.  "Sorry."

"Not your fault, JARVIS.   We're so going to start getting new letters."  Pepper sighed and nodded.  "JARVIS, please send a memo to Security to make sure they scan out any panties, offers of marriage or kids, and anything that might make us giggle when we think about it."

"I shall."

"Thank you," Tony said.  "Last time I got a very nice strippers thong and bikini set from a married couple that were clearly...used."  Natasha shuddered.  "Exactly."

"We're hiring a maid," Dawn told her.  "She started today."

"I saw her earlier," she admitted.  "You should have told us.  I might have shot her."

"I did tell you.  You did the mental hand flapping and 'let me fix this gun' thing."  Natasha shook her head.

Clint smiled.  "So that means no more arguing over dishes, litter boxes, or vacuuming?"

Dawn smiled.  "Not the litter box."

"Fine.  You can clean it later."

"I did before I came to work."

"Thanks."  He got cuddly again.  He yawned.  He was tired.  Dawn was clearly tired.  "Stark, give her twenty?"

"Have a nap, guys."  They drifted off there.  Pepper was napping against his shoulder.  Natasha and he shared a smirk and pulled up things to read.  Their lovers would be pouty if they got woken up and no one wanted to see a pouty Clint or Pepper.


Dawn looked up as a nice looking young police officer came off the elevator.  "Thank you for visiting Stark International.  Who are you here to see today?" she asked with a smile.

"You, ma'am.  There's been a sudden growth of prickly bushes around a house in lower Manhattan.  The NYPD is fairly worried someone did it on purpose."  He showed her pictures.

She smiled.  "That last battle, there was a sorcerer who showed up?"  He nodded he had seen that.  "That's his house.  Magic users are notoriously paranoid and he's trying to avoid the press."  The officer groaned and sighed.  She nodded, handing the pictures back.  "If I had his number, I'd remind him not to let it infringe on the sidewalk or anything.  You might ask Agent Coulson, who is...."  She tapped out a text and he came off the next elevator.  "Him," she said with a point.

Phil looked at the pictures.  "That sorcerer is pouty and a bit paranoid.  I can talk to him about the bushes infringing on public property."

"We're mostly worried there's some sort of fairytale curse or something, sir."

Dawn shook her head.  "No, that's out in Camden, New Jersey, and that one tower that everyone thinks is dilapidated but it's more hidden magically.  I went there to see that oddity and found out why but I'm not a prince."  She grimaced.  "Even if I was, I probably wouldn't kiss that princess."  The officer's eyes went wide.  "From what I learned before I went, the family got into it over her arranged marriage.  She had wanted someone else, someone better, but who had less money. 

"It was a Count against Count thing and she wanted the one that wouldn't be a jackass as often.  Her family wanted the other one, mostly because she was a spoiled brat and they were hoping for a bit of Shakespearian magic happening.  She refused and set the whole family out of the house, which had been left to her.  Since she ruined their family's reputation, they locked her in a sleep spell inside the house.  Only someone worthy of her spoiledness could wake her up by the curse.  Which to me means a bunch of the society boy sluts might be able to," she said dryly.

"They'd probably be horrified if they didn't have magic," Phil said, considering it.  How did Dawn find these things?  Was there a book he needed to find that she had read?

"There's like ten with weak magic that I've spotted at events, mostly because they couldn't shield themselves."

"That's interesting.  Any idea why?"

"Nope, never traced them back.  One was the one that went gushy at Stark and Pepper last time though."

"Huh."  He nodded.  "I'll look into that.  I'll also talk to him, Officer."

"Thank you, sir, ma'am."  He left, going to report what they had said.

Phil looked at her.  "What's in Camden?"

"The workshop of some sorcerer that's hidden behind roses?"

"Oh, that place.  I've spotted it a few times and wondered about the wall of roses."  He walked off, sending himself from the elevator to the sorcerer's house, making him flinch.  "Easy," he ordered.  He stared at him.  "The local officers are worried about your bushes impinging on the sidewalk and hurting people.  They wanted to make sure that you could keep it on your own lands."

"I don't usually have those problems," he said, sipping his brandy.

"Good."  He smiled and put down a card.  "If you run into problems beyond reporters, let us know.  I liaison with the other magic users we know about and the Avengers."

He nodded.  "She's very open with her skills."

"She had no choice but to do it that way.  Otherwise it could've meant not being saved a few times."  The sorcerer slumped.  "She does take a lot of heat off the rest of you, but you did show up at a minor battle magically.  They'll ignore you but a few may report when you're at the store or something.  I'm surprised you didn't get it from the first time you showed up on SHIELD's radar."  He stared at him.  "Let us know if you have a problem we can help with."

"What path do you follow?" 

Phil let his radiance out, making the guy swallow hard.  He smiled.  "I'm Alexander's mate."

"Oh, I see."  He finished his brandy.  "Are there gods of magic still around?"

"Mostly.  Hecate's in a...delicate spot right now but otherwise yes, as far as I know."

"Thank you."

"Welcome."  He pulled in his aura and disappeared back to Stark.

The sorcerer got more brandy and sat down to think about that, checking his bushes.  He did pare them back.  He didn't want to cause problems for anyone else.  It would get him more notice from the wrong sort.  Or strange SHIELD agents.  He had to wonder if SHIELD was hoarding undercover deities.  If so, were they as harmless as they seemed?


Dawn had to teleport from the corner that night, walking in the doorway.  "There is no way you walked up the front stairs," Clint told her.

"No, I didn't."  She smiled.  "I didn't remark on you coming in from the roof."

"Thanks."  He looked outside.  The reporters were staring at the building impatiently.  "Any idea what they're after this time?"

"No.  Not a clue.  I called one I know earlier and they didn't know why they were waiting."  They saw them start to shout as Maria got out of a cab but she got given room.  They didn't want to get too near to her.  It was clear she was pregnant and had on her SHIELD uniform.  She paused to say something mean to them and they pouted at her.  She stomped inside and was pounding on their door a minute later.  Dawn opened it.  "What did they want?  We couldn't figure it out without giving them an opening."

"They wanted to know if you're recruiting magic users for SHIELD."

"No.  Why would I be?  That's Phil's job."

She blinked a few times.  "I suppose it is.  I told them SHIELD only had a list that we called on for emergencies, we weren't actively recruiting witches."  She winced and held onto the doorframe.  "Kid, do you mind?"  Dawn pulled her in and helped by doing the rubbing she used to do to help Pepper calm down from Liz kicking her.  "That's handy," she sighed.  "I need to learn that."  Dawn grinned and wrote down the lamaze center's name and number.  "Really?"

"Yeah.  Very holistic.  They have lamaze classes and all that."

"That'll work," she decided.  "Thanks, Dawn.  Can you tell them to go away?"

"Yup, I can do that," Clint said with a manic grin.  He went down there with one of Dawn's bigger guns.  They all stared at him.  He smirked.  "You guys just pissed off the pregnant SHIELD agent.  You also upset the other pregnant woman.  My superior officer gave me permission to do anything I wanted to make sure you don't upset her again."  They ran off.  "Thanks."  He smiled and waved.

One stopped across the street.  "Is SHIELD recruiting witches?"

"No.  We keep a list, people.  That way we can call on people if we need to."

"But the blonde lady helps Dawn," he said.

"Yeah but she's six months along."

"Oh!"  He nodded and ran off more quickly.  Clint went back inside looking smug.  He took the elevator up to Tara and Maria's floor.  "Fixed," he called from the elevator then went down to their main level.  He put Dawn's gun up and smiled at her.

She laughed, kissing him.  "Is Natasha hiding?"

"I think she might be, yeah.  Or she's helping a few agents with things."  He took another kiss.  "She said she wouldn't be home tonight for dinner."  He winked.  She grinned and they moved to cook together.  He liked to cook but Dawn liked it sometimes and they did good working together.  Especially since he had stopped some of her funny eating habits way back when they had been out of the US.  She had been eating things that even pregnant women would look at and go 'I can't even put that together'.  He'd start to wonder about her future food cravings but he might make himself sick.  He took the ketchup from her and handed over something else with a small smirk.  "How bad are your food cravings going to be?"

"Don't know.  Mom said she didn't have hardly any.  Buffy only wanted pretzels all the time."

"So you might end up eating normal people food?" he teased.

She hip-nudged him.  "Probably not.  When you met me, all your lucky points got put into a savings account to accrue interest for kidnaping attempts," she said dryly.

He looked down at her, still amused by the height difference when she wasn't in heels.  "No they didn't.  I use them all the time on the job."

She grinned.  "You can withdraw from a savings account but it earns small interest."

He kissed her hard, pushing her against the fridge to look down at her.  "Was there another one I wasn't aware of?"

"Why would you think that?"

"Because you make statements like that when things have happened to let us subtly know that you're worried about things."  He gave her a pointed look.  She shook her head.  "Yeah.  Best Freudian slip ever."

"No, not recently."

"Define recently?  I haven't heard about any since that one prince."

"No, there's been one since then," she admitted.  He stared at her.  "No one told you?"

"Aren't *you* supposed to tell me?"  She reached behind him to turn down the frying pan's heat.  He nudged her.  "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I thought you heard me swearing about it?"

"No, not in the least, Dawn."  He smirked evilly.  "Who was it this time?"  She huffed.  "JARVIS?"

"It was someone speaking Russian.  They were caught earlier in the parking garage."

"Excuse me?" Dawn asked.

"We told Mr. Stark."

"Tony's been in the lab all day.  They got that close to me?  Dear, your birthday present may not be as massive as it was before."

"That's our job," he reminded her.


"Who was the one before this one, since you didn't know either."

"Um...  I think he was with the lawyer for Shandy and Elmeer.  Or paid by them since he said I wouldn't get to testify against them.  Which is about when I kinda ripped the car apart magically and made him run away in fear?"

He kissed her, getting cuddled back.  "Why didn't you tell us?"

"I thought you heard."

"No.  Not in the least."  He thought at Natasha, who said she had heard but had warned him off with Xander.  "Oh, she heard and handled it."

"Oh, okay.  I was doing okay but if she wants to take some of your possessive growling time it's all right."

He kissed her again, turning to flip the steaks so they quit burning on the first side.  She stirred the other things they were making, then poked him on the side before walking around him to set the table.  He asked Natasha if she wanted them to save leftovers and she said she had already eaten so this was all for them.  He let her handle whatever she was doing.  It was clearly private and she didn't want to share.  They settled in to talk about what Dawn was going to be doing to this next attempt.  He was a bit worried but they could handle it.


Dawn walked into Security the next morning, staring at them.  "Why wasn't I told that someone was in the parking garage to kidnap me?"

They looked at each other then shrugged and looked at yesterday's incident reports.  "It said they told Mr. Stark."

Dawn smiled.  "He was in the lab all day and really, I'd like to know so I can take some extra precautions.  You know, wear more weapons that sort of thing?"

"Sure," they agreed.  "One of the guards from the same group has been having coffee all day in the other tower."

"Okay," she agreed.  "Are they causing problems?  Are they wanted by someone?"  They shrugged.  "Forward a picture to my desk."  She went up to it so she could look them up.  "He's not Russian mob.  That may not have been against me."  She frowned but kept looking.  It tripped some funky defense in the FBI's systems but she told them why she was looking him up, including that he was friendly with the people they had found lying in wait yesterday.  They tried to shut her down but she went in another way and considered things.  She sent that to Maria Hill to ask what she wanted her to do. 

He wasn't Ten Rings, an independent contractor for the Russian mob, or related to them in any way.  He was an arms dealer's second-in-command.  That was really weird.  She sent the file to Clint mentally, who said he was watching him from over there.  And he still really hated salads but it was a good cover.  She quipped she'd come get one for lunch if he wanted.  He agreed that might prove his motives.  It might not be against her this time.  It might be an attempt to get Callia or one of the other geeks.  Hill agreed with that plan and she'd have Sitwell there in a few minutes to help Barton.

Dawn sighed and copied the file to Stark and Pepper.  Tony was still lost in the lab so she went to nudge him out of his overly focused state.  She found him napping and sighed.  Which made him flinch and look around.  "The people from yesterday might not have been after me after all."

"What people from yesterday?"  She pointed at his computer, making him coffee while he got into his emails.  He frowned.  "Are you sure?"

"The one from today looks related and he might not be from them."

"Huh."  He got into the file she had forwarded to him.  He sipped the coffee she made.  "Breakfast, Dawn?"

"What did you want?"

"Eggs, bacon or something."  He waved his cup.  "More of this."

"It's already brewing and I'll hit the caf for you."  She went down to do that while he showered and got more coffee to inhale.  By the time she came back up he was presentable, Callia was upstairs taking care of her pets instead of snoring underneath a car, and Tony was looking worried.  She handed over the plates.  "A really good heroic breakfast according to them."

He looked at the plates and nodded.  "It is."  He dug in, because he was hungry.  "Did I skip dinner?"

"I didn't see you yesterday, boss.  You had the privacy setting on."

"Oh, yeah."  He finished eating because it had probably been at least a full day since he had eaten.   He pointed.  She nodded, pointing at something.  He looked that up, pissing off the FBI further but Tony pointed out that they weren't doing the job so someone had to.  He found what he needed and showed her.  "That's not the ones after you."

"No, different group.  Though I remember I ended a few of them in Guatemala for daring to come near me."  Tony shook his head quickly.  "I know, it happens."

"Uh-huh."  He called Barton, who probably knew.  Clint sent him a text message about what he was seeing, that Sitwell was there, that Coulson was there as backup.   He let them handle it and looked at Dawn.  "Stay over here."

"We have plans of me going over at lunch to see what he does."

"I don't like that plan."  He sent that at Clint and sent Dawn back to the labs to do her usual rounds while they worked on it.


Dawn woke up, blinking hard.  "Huh," she said.  "This is not nice."  She looked around the room she was in.  There was a little bundle next to her under the blankets.  She checked.  It was her niece.  She just lost any and all control on her desire to be 'nice'.  She checked her.  Not snoring so sedated.  Good pulse and eye responses when she checked it.  Just asleep.  She got up to check the room, noticing she was redressed.  She didn't own anything this...massive.  She frowned.  "Yuck."  She found her clothes and put them back on. 

It was a bit chilly but she'd be warming up soon by kicking ass or killing people magically. She sent at Clint, who said that the guy in the coffeeshop had been the diversion and backup plan. He had confessed nicely to him and Natasha.  They had no idea where she was.  She sent what she saw out the window.  That got her a country, Germany, and nothing else.  She heard someone coming near the doorway and shut down the link slightly.  The door opened after a knock.  "What the fuck did you think you were doing?" she asked.  The man blinked at her.  "Do I need to repeat that in another language?" she asked in Russian.  Then in German.  He nodded.  She moved closer.  "Who are you, what do you want, and I'll be killing you all for harming my niece," she said in German.

"It is not our intention to harm her.  The sedative is safe for children," he told her in German.  "You should change back before you get cold."

She touched him and her magic came out to freeze him and make his mind open to her.  He shrieked.  She sent what she saw to Clint, who said he knew where they were.  It'd take them an hour from where they were staging.  Phil couldn't just get them there, he'd never been near there.  She let him go, staring at him.  "You harmed my niece," she said bluntly.  "I will destroy *everyone* for harming her.  I will destroy humanity for harming her."  He was shaking badly.  "Whoever took us is in deep with me and I would suggest they let us go before I do worse to them."

He backed out and shut the door, locking it from that side.  She could hear him crying but yay.  She wasn't nice to people who had her hostage.  Someone else came in looking pissed off and said she should be nicer to her guard.  He was there to protect her and her niece.  That he would make sure no one harmed her.

She snapped and kicked his ass.  "I don't need it," she said bluntly, staring down at him.  "I'm pretty damn good at protecting both of us.  And hey, if you hadn't kidnaped us, we wouldn't need to be mean.  I'm never nice to people who have me or her hostage."  He swallowed, scooting away from her.  "Let us go and we'll call a truce.  I'll go back to being nice."  Someone clapped from the doorway.  She shot power at them, making them scream.  "I know you."  Clint was swearing so she closed the link down a bit more.  It was affecting her concentration.

"I should have you corrected for that," he sneered, walking in.  "Though it's nice that you do know so many languages.  From your *spouses*?"

"Not really.  I did learn Russian from one of them."  She hit him, knocking him back.  "I'm not going to give in to any demands, not giving you anything, and the longer we're here the more damage I'm going to do to the area."

"We can give her things that are much more harmful than a sedative," the minion noted.

Dawn laughed.  "Really?"  She cast a protection around Callia and then beat that minion to death.  She walked over him, looking at the other one.  "Now, let us go."

"Our boss would not be pleased and he'll kill us.  You might but he surely will."

"Then you bring him here so I can kill him."

"He's not here yet," he said.  He backed out, dragging the dead body with him.  They locked them in again.

Dawn growled.  She made herself calm down.  She opened the bond to Clint to tell him who the second-in-command had been.  It was against Stark this time, not them.  He agreed and told her to calm down.  They were in an upper floor so destroying the castle would only get them hurt.  To concentrate on getting Callia up.  She pointed out that having her out was a better option so she wouldn't have to see her killing people.  He said it might make her escape harder.  She concentrated, the local magic was weak.  But there was a mini hellmouth starting just about thirty miles away.  Maybe a little over. 
He told her not to open it.  She promised she wouldn't but she could tap it without that.  Or the local demon power point that they had hidden.  She took her niece and held her against her shoulder, concentrating hard.  She pulled up power and went somewhere familiar.  She smiled at the large, ornate clock.  Still in Germany but not in the same area.  Clint grinned and told her it was a good plan, they were less than a half-hour from there.  To go to a certain police station to see if that one she had teased as a diversion was there.  She nodded, taking Callia that way.  She walked in and asked for the officer, getting a scowl back.  He got called down.  "Hi."

"Miss Summers," he said, grimacing.  "Why are you in Germany?  Are your *friends* handling something we should know about?"

"They might be but I helped myself and my niece escape from the people who had kidnaped us from New York.  I didn't do too much damage."

He blinked a few times.  "You were what?"  She nodded, shifting Callia.  "Come, we'll put her in a chair.  How old is she?"

"Seven."  She followed him.  "They're on their way but it'll be a half-hour," she said quietly.  "Mr. Billishu was the most senior person I saw."  He paused to stare at her.  "He's no longer alive."

"How did you escape?"

She smiled.  "The same way I changed my hair color?"

"Oh, that stuff."  He got them into the squad room and let her put Callia into a chair.  "Your *friends*....."

"My spouses," she said quietly with a grin.

"Oh, I see."  He nodded.  "The Black Widow is known to our people."

"I'm not sure if she's coming or not, but Hawkeye definitely is."

He nodded.  "He's a strong spouse."  He stared at her.  "Why did they capture you?"

She pointed at the baby.  "Look familiar?"

He blinked but shook his head.  "Should she?"

"She's my boss's daughter.  Also my niece Callia."

"Stark?" he mouthed.  She nodded.  "Billishu worked for Matra," he realized, smacking himself on the head.  "So it was against them?"

"Apparently.  They threatened to treat her worse than sedating her if I didn't cooperate.  Which was when I took out the guy holding us hostage.  His minion was crying and his upper minion pulled his dead body from the room they had us hostage in."

"Where?"  She touched his hand and showed him.  "I know of that town and that castle.  That's his company headquarters."

Dawn shrugged.  "I didn't bring it down."

He smiled.  "I saw that one."  He pointed at a chair, letting her bring it over.  Callia stirred then went back to sleep once she had shifted.  "Let me start the reports.  Do you have any weapons on you?"

"No, not right now.  I had when I was in New York so I have no idea where they are.  Thankfully not my special ones."

He nodded, starting that form.  His bosses had been horrified that he had been used as a diversion for the Black Widow to take down a terrorist group.  He emailed them an update to that situation and what was presently going on.  They said to let the SHIELD agents have her and the baby and they'd be sending someone down to talk to them.  They got there before Clint did.  Dawn went over what she remembered of what had happened.  She had no idea how they had gotten into Germany.  Clint did when he got there ten minutes later.  That got a better report and gave them a reason to raid that company.  Dawn smiled at him.

"You okay?"

"I'm good."

He grinned.  "Good.  She good?"

"Napping.  She's snoring now so it's back to normal sleep.  Her pulse and eyes looked normal when I checked."

"We can have our infirmary check," Phil said, picking her up.  Callia flinched awake and stared at him.  "Relax, I have you, Callia," he said quietly.

"Unclie Phil."  She hugged him, yawning.  "I don't know why I'm so sleepy."

"We do and we'll make sure you're okay when we get back home," Dawn said, rubbing her back.  Callia gave in and went back to sleep.  She smiled at Phil.  "Thank you."

"Welcome."  He looked at Clint then at the local agent.  "Can we?"

"Please," he agreed.  He looked at Clint.  "Though we would like to talk to you about the last time you were in our country."

Dawn sighed.  "You can't keep him or else I'm staying."

The other agent stared at her.  "Why?"  She smiled and held up her hand.  "Oh!"  He nodded.  He looked at Clint.  "You're a very strong man to have a wife like her.  What did you find out from them?"

"Widow left all the information in a packet and what she got later got sent to you guys," Clint said.  "Directly to Persha."

"I have not talked to him.  I shall.  He took the main scene."  He escorted them out.  They had landed outside town and were quickly gotten onto their quinjet to leave.  He went to talk to that senior agent.  Who was amused and agreed he had gotten information but it had been mostly moot points or handed out subtly.  Which drove the junior agents batty because they didn't know where it was coming from.

The officer logged out early, went to have a drink, and moped that a woman like Dawn probably couldn't be his.  He could use a woman like her.


Clint landed the quinjet on top of the second tower and let them out the back hatch.  Dawn woke up when the door opened.  Callia was still sleeping.  "C'mon," he said, picking the baby up.  "Let's get you both to the infirmary."  He kissed Dawn, earning a sleepy smile.  He and Phil escorted them down there.  They ran into Tony inside the tower.  "Infirmary first, Stark.  She got sedated."

"Okay," he agreed, taking his daughter to carry.  "She good?"

"Woke up once when I picked her up," Phil said quietly.  "I'm not the usual one so it woke her protections."  Tony nodded but he was looking not really happy.  He looked at Dawn, who Clint had hold of before she went back to 'talk' to the people who had planned that.  "Let us."

"Let him come here.  I want answers," Dawn countered.

"I can agree with that.  We don't want you going over to get them," Phil warned.

Tony snorted, looking at her.  "You find out whatever way you want to, Dawn.  I want answers."

She smiled.  "You know, we do business with two of their subsidiaries."

"We do?" he asked.  "Which ones?"  She pulled up their alliances on the closest virtual screen for him.  Two got further looked at and highlighted.  "Huh.  Their grandchildren."  He nodded.  "They're not good for much but I'll look into what they're giving us."  She canceled it out so they could take the elevator to the walkway.  Then across, into the elevator down to the infirmary.  "Doc?"  She came out to take Callia from him.  "Dawn got them free while Clint and Coulson were getting them from Germany."

"We know she got sedated," Dawn said, letting Clint help her up onto a table.  The nurse moved over to get her vitals.  "What was I doing when they got us?"

"Coming back from the after-lunch rounds," Tony said.  "You had to go over to help settle a dispute over something in one of the leases."  He pulled up footage for them.  JARVIS had saved it down specially for Coulson and Clint.  "Where is your wife?"

"Helping another agent," Clint said.  "Not sure with what."  They watched it and he grimaced.  "I remember seeing her coming over then the bond went blank.  Who are they?"

"Lawyers," Tony said.  "They rent office space."  That got a nod from Coulson, who was looking them up.  Tony looked at the doctor, who was running blood work.  Callia had woken up enough to glare at the blood being drawn and was now pouty about it.  He hugged her.  She snuggled in and went back to sleep.

The doctor read the reading and nodded.  "They did a good job.  It's a time released long acting one.  Should be out of her system in a few hours."

"They said it was kid safe," Dawn offered.

Doc smiled at her.  "It is.  It's sometimes given to children before minor outpatient surgery."  She ran Dawn's blood sample.  "They gave you the same thing but you're older so it wore out faster."  Dawn nodded.  "Should we do any other checks?"

Dawn shifted and shook her head.  "I don't think so.  I don't feel like you should."  She looked at Clint, who shook his head.  She shook her head.  "Um....  Don't think so."  Clint pulled the curtains so she could check.  And so he could check.  He shrugged and let her get redressed then opened the curtains again.  Tony handed them the box of wetwipes from the bedside table.  They cleaned up.  "Probably not an issue from what we can tell."

"Good," Doc said with a smile.  "Though I could've checked."

"Just as easy for me to do it and I need to make sure she's fine too," Clint said.  He looked at Dawn, who hugged him.  He gave her a squeeze.  "Can we go back to stomp them now, Coulson?"

"Let the Germans try first," he ordered.  "Then we'll find out why."

"Let's invite them here to explain themselves," Dawn said.  "I'd really like to know why they took Callia."

Phil nodded, tapping out a message to a SHIELD agent in Germany.  He got back a 'I'll tell that agent, sir, and I hope they're all right'.  "One of our European agents will liaison and find out for us.  Or do some inviting."  Dawn smirked evilly.  "Who was that one you got?"


"Didn't he send you a job offer when you graduated?" Clint asked.

She smiled and nodded.  "Yes, he did.  A very standard one.  Nothing exceptional.  He was middle of the pack for incentives.  I sent back a very nice turn down letter that I had already accepted a position here after I signed the new contract."

"After?" Tony asked.  "Not like we wouldn't, Dawn."

She looked at him.  "Boss, how often have you seen me have backup plans?" she asked.  "Remember, I learned how to plan for things from Xander."

"Good point."  He grimaced.  "We're working on the renegotiating this month."

"You're busy all month," she said with an evil smirk.  "Your geeks are taking up all your time."

"I saw that.  It's time for the bi-yearly progress update meetings."  He rubbed his ear.  The nurse looked and popped the small zit on the top of it.  "Thank you."

"Welcome, Mr. Stark."  She put some ointment on it and let them talk.

Dawn popped her neck then rested against Clint's side again, yawning a bit.  "I don't know why I'm so tired."  She fell asleep against him.

Clint yawned.  "She's broadcasting sleepy feelings.  Sorry."

"I'm a bit tired too," Coulson said.

Doc frowned.  "No, she's not broadcasting."  Clint pulled a weapon and was instantly awake.  So was Coulson and Stark.  So when the nurse came back wearing a gas mask they were ready for her.  "I couldn't figure out how the meds got changed," she said dryly.  "Now I know."

"We'll hire you a few new ones," Tony promised, letting Coulson handle her since he had Callia still snoring on him.  Pepper came stomping in without Liz.  "We're good."

"Good!"  She took Callia from him to cuddle and then hugged Dawn, who was napping.  "Who?" she asked Clint.

"Mantra Corp.," Tony said, taking Callia back.  She glared so he let her have the baby back.  "Okay."  Yes!  It had worked!  Pepper was pregnant!

She frowned at him.  "You look awfully happy, Stark."

"Just to have her back, Pepper."  She smiled at that and let him have Callia back.  "No Steve?  Or is he pinned down by her cats?"

"He's pinned down by Liz.  He said he'll take her once we make it upstairs, unless she's staying?" she asked Doc.  Who shook her head.  "Good."  She took Callia while Clint lifted Dawn.  "Have a good night, people."  She walked off talking quietly to the baby.

Tony waited until she was in the elevator to smile.  Clint smirked and snickered a bit.  Coulson nodded.  "Have fun with the mood swings," he said quietly.  "We currently are with Maria and Tara."

"I did last time."  He went up in the next elevator.

Clint looked at Phil.  "Is Natasha home yet?"

"No."  He brought them all back to the building.  Clint seen carrying Dawn would start a panic in the press.  They didn't want that.


Dawn was sitting in a small conference room when her mysterious appointment the next day showed up.  The listing said it was for a reporter but no one she knew had put it on there.  It wasn't hacked either.  JARVIS had said one of the maintenance people had put it in there.  He was talking to Tony right now.  She was comfortable, had her legs crossed, was wearing a suit that made her look confident, in control, and wealthy - which was all true.  The man walking in was one that she wanted to 'talk' to.  She sneered slightly. "It's a good thing you set up a meeting.  I wanted to talk to you anyway, Mr. Mantra."

"Miss Summers."

"It's Mrs. Barton-Romanoff."

He swallowed.  "Really?"  She smiled and nodded.  "I had not heard that gossip."  She quirked an eyebrow up.  "You were quite mean to my people."

"Your people were incredibly rude because they kidnaped us.  Why should I have been nicer to someone who had us hostage?  I'm not known for it.  It might make them come back later on."  She stared at him.  "Why did they take us?  That was not clarified for me as I was beating him."

"I was going to offer you a very high position in my group.  On the senior board so you could use your talents in a more productive way."

She laughed, a low, warm sound.  "I use my talents here quite well making sure things happen as they should.  That would not be a good reason to take Callia as well."

"I was going to let you keep your daughter instead of having Stark raise her."

She snorted, shaking her head.  "Callia is his daughter with my sister.  Not my child."

"That is not what my people said."

"I was there right after she was born.  Alexander had to rescue her from the scientists that had impregnated her.  Pity they didn't survive the rescue to answer for why they wanted her to have a child."  The other man shuddered.  "Callia is very sweet and I do treat her like I would a daughter, the same as I do her sisters and brother, but they are Buffy's children.  Beyond that, you nearly made Mr. Stark so angry he was going to come get her."

"Stark is nothing compared to what I do," he sneered.  "Him and his hero complex are boring facsimiles of what I do daily."

She laughed again, watching the shivers run up him.  "Really?  Because looking over your company, you haven't put out any good prototypes in nearly six years, Mr. Mantra.  Even when our people are playing around and making new robotic dogs, they're still putting out things that are better than anything you've put out for the last ten years."  She smirked slightly.  "Even our non-PhD people do.  Though, I couldn't help you with that.  I'm not a lab person."

"No, you made Stark change direction so he went into something more openly profitable."

"No, that was Mr. Stark himself.  I support their change of direction and have helped when things got tangled up but that was between Mr. Stark and Ms. Potts.  Nothing I had anything to do with."

"The new tablet was your idea."

"Slightly.  Not totally.  He got frustrated with what was out on the market that wouldn't do what he needed it to."  She leaned back a bit.  "I'm sorry you were misled by your people."

"Which is why I need someone like you."

"You definitely need an assistant but I'm quite satisfied here.  You have nothing I could want to move for.  Especially after having me kidnaped.  I've had enough of that already in my life and you're lucky I didn't destroy the building that we were in."  He shuddered, shrinking down some.  "I have done that before due to being held captive.  I'm not nice to the people who have me hostage.  I never will be."  She stared him down.  "I'm sorry you didn't find what you were looking for but perhaps one of the new people graduating from my program in a few weeks?  There's a crop of good ones I'm told."

"I'll look into that.  I can offer you more money."

"My family is here.  You can not offer me anything to compensate for that loss."

"I can find a position for your mother and make sure your family is better guarded."

She quirked an eyebrow up.  "I would think that they were already well guarded.  They refused to consider bodyguards when I suggested it."  He swallowed.  "I'll also make a point known here.  Any move toward any of my nieces or nephews will result in me...losing my temper in a way that usually has someone on my doorstep with paperwork within hours.  I was mildly angry at the person who had my niece and spouses hostage because he thought he deserved me as a wife.  I didn't need to give him a second warning because he died." 

She smiled slightly at him.  "I'm very protective of what's mine."  He nodded and left.  She tapped her fingers a few times on the table.  "He definitely needs an assistant who likes gossip magazines," she decided.  She stood up.  "JARVIS, please scan for listening devices."  He put a light on the one that had been planted during the meeting.  "Thank you."  She plucked it off.  "Forward that film to Coulson please."  She walked off, handing Tony the bug.  "He put it on there."

"It's a cheap piece of crap that they made," he said, looking at it.

She smiled.  "He thought she was mine."

"That was disproved years ago," he complained, frowning.

"Apparently his people don't read gossip mags, boss."  She strolled off.  "Going to do rounds."

"Please."  He looked her over, shaking his head.  She looked like a coldly efficient bitch today.  He guessed it was a good thing for that meeting.  Not even the six-inch heels made her look more friendly and flirty in that suit.  Then she took off the jacket.  That changed the whole outfit to flirty and sensual.  He was nearly sweating.  Now, the heels gave the right impression.  He ran into Barton in the hallway.  "You have him?"

"Coulson handed him to the German agents waiting on them.  Mantra was ranting that he would get Dawn to help his company since you were so pathetic."

"He did to her too."  He saw him watching Dawn walk down the hall.  "She looks nicer now."

Clint smiled at him.  "You and Pepper taught her to dress theatrically when necessary."

"I did," he agreed.  "We did a great job."  He walked off to talk to Pepper, who was reading to Liz.  "The new agreements?"

She smiled at him.  "I'm hoping they put her to sleep."

"They might."  He took her to read them to her.  She babbled and patted him.  "I don't think you're sleepy, are you?  You should be.  It's nap time."  She wiggled.  "Did Callia feed you sugar?  Because you're very sweet."

Pepper snorted.  "Don't use pickup lines on the baby, Tony."

"Sorry, but she is.  She gets it from you."

Pepper blushed, staring at him.  "Dawn finally take off the jacket?"

He nodded but shrugged.  "Still true even if she wasn't being flirty."   Pepper blushed harder.  He grinned.  "Do we perhaps have news?"

She sighed and nodded.  "I am."  He smiled, getting up to hug her.  Liz cooed and hugged Mommy too.  "Thank you."

He kissed her.  "You're very welcome."  He gave her a smug look.  "I'd love you even without her sibling."

"I know."  She patted him.  "You're going mushy.  You should feed her."

"I can do that."  He looked at Liz.  "Want lunch?"   She gave him a confused look.  "Let's go eat."  He walked her down to the caf and got them both lunch.  She pouted about not having anything but he fork-smashed some macaroni and cheese for her to gum to death.  She liked that.  She made pouty faces until he gave her more.  The others in there smiled at how happy she was.  Callia ran in and to the line.  "Daughter."  She looked over and smiled, waving at them.  "Sit and eat with us."

"Cars, daddy!"

"Sit and eat," he ordered, pointing at the chair.  "Just like a family dinner."  She nodded, bringing over her plate then running to get a drink.  She settled in to eat with them.  "Which cars are you playing with?"

"Happy's taking me to the car show in the other tower."

"A few of those are ours," he admitted, smiling at her.  "I'd take you."

"You have to help beat the bad guys, Daddy.  Happy can take me and later you can take me again."  She smiled and handed Liz a few pieces of ham.  "You liked that last night when Beya let you gum on it."  She dug in.  Liz sucked on some of the ham, looking surprised.  But that went well and she liked it until she almost choked.  Tony handled it.  "Sorry," Callia said quietly.

"It's all right.  Kids try to shove too much in their mouth all at once.  You still do sometimes."  She grinned and finished up.  He kissed her on the head.  "Have fun and we'll go later."  She hugged them both and put her dishes up then ran off to meet with Happy.  He looked at Liz.  "She's hyper today.  I wonder if she has gymnastics today or tomorrow."  He looked at his phone.  "Nope, that's tomorrow.  So she needs to play on the climbing stuff on the gym.  Some day you'll do that."  Liz smiled and kept gumming on the ham.  He offered her mac n'cheese, which made her a happy baby.  Pepper came in and smiled.  "We like ham and mac n'cheese, Mom."

"That's good."  She got her lunch and sat down to help him feed Liz.  She changed the small pieces of ham for a much bigger one she couldn't stuff in her mouth at once.  Liz liked that and smiled at them.  "Good girl."  They ate and talked about the upcoming week's schedule.  Tony was a pretty good dad, even to her daughter.


Dawn walked into Shield Design.  "Morrison, the weekly reports?" she asked, moving to make coffee.

"We have an update meeting with Stark tomorrow so we were going to hand them over then," he said.  "Guys, this is Stark's personal assistant, Dawn.  She picks up the weekly reports, makes sure we're not locking ourselves in the lab too often, and she does about half of all the problem solving around here," he told the new hires.

Dawn smiled, finishing the coffee.  "Only a third.  You guys handle a lot yourselves."  She smiled at the other people.  "I usually show up for any reports each Monday and I make coffee for the labs if you need me to each day.  I know some of our people never remember to eat and drink.  If you need anything, I'm at extension 1212."  She walked off happier.

One of them stared hard at her back then at the only person that had remained from the old team.  "She's hot."

"She's taken by a SHIELD agent," Morrison assured him.  "Dawn's also pretty tough.  She spars with the Avengers about every week."  The guy shivered.  "Don't try to tap that.  She's had to take down predators before," he warned.  "Just don't.  Hawkeye is very possessive.  Plus usually in the ceiling vents by rumors going around."  He looked up then shrugged and got back to what he was fixing.  "Dawn's a nice girl.  Pepper took her in when she was fifteen because her mom was sick.  Her mom's Dr. Banner's wife."

"So she's well connected too," the head of the department said.

Morrison looked at him.  "Just...don't.  Stark treats her like a daughter.  She's Callia's aunt, and the twins' aunt.  And don't touch them either.  They're twelve even if they don't look like it.  Dawn has nearly killed someone a few times over trying to touch the twins or Callia.  Including the guy you replaced."  The guy moaned.  "Really.  You don't want to."  He got back to work.

"Weekly progress reports?" one of the new hires said.

Morrison smiled and nodded.  "Stark wants to know how we're doing, if there's any problems we're running into, things like that.  It's not real formal.  Just a 'we made limited progress toward whichever goal, got a new design laid out, ran into these design flaws.  If we keep running into problems he'll come help us or send someone with that speciality in to help us.  We had Andrew more than once to help us with laser applications.  He and Jonathan are in lab 7 and Stark's mentorees."

"The dark haired guy that was kissing the pregnant one in Chem?" that new hire asked.

Morrison smiled and nodded.  "Him, yeah.  His lab partner's dating and marrying Patty, in lab 34, soon."

"They're sweet girls," the new head of the department agreed.  "Slightly pretty.  Really smart but not real people oriented."

Morrison laughed.  "Neither were the boys originally.  They helped each other.  If you see the roaming roombas that bark, they made the roomba dogs."

"Huh," the head guy said.  "That's really weird."

"One's bomb sniffing and the other has lasers to bite," Morrison said.  "They're very protective of Callia and the twins.  Also, Callia has cats, a dog, and a rabbit.  So if you see a sneaking cat, call them."  He did call Security.  "Just spotted the Tony cat by Shield Design."  He hung up and let them come gather the stalking cat.  And the mouse it was chasing.  The mouse got handed back to the lab it had gotten free from, and the infirmary was summoned up because they had apparently passed out.  So they got to watch some excitement for a few minutes too.  Dawn handled it and shutting down the lab for now.  Then she walked off.

Callia came off the elevator.  "I can feed her mice.  I used to do mine," she told Dawn.

"She's testing special food for mice," she told her.  "So we can't.  That would hurt her experiment."

"Pity.  I kinda miss the mice."

"So go visit the twins," she said dryly.  Callia grinned and ran off to tell the bigger twins that idea.  They agreed so Callia arranged for them to go visiting for a few hours.  The twins adored that idea.  They wanted to cuddle Tara and the younger set of twins.  They even stole Liz and her diaper bag.  Callia even promised to help change diapers if she had to.


The new head of Shield Design sat down in the cafeteria with a group of fit looking geeks.  "Hi, Peter Shalet.  New head of Shield Design."  They introduced themselves and went back to eating.  The guys were mostly reading things on their tablets.  "So, this is a bit different than an academic setting," he said.  "Progress reports?"

"That way Stark can keep track of when we need help or more supplies," the one next to him said with a grin.  "He mostly glances over them for problems and then files it.  Each department has a file.  That way if we're slacking he sees that pattern and if we're having problems he can come help."

"He sent MB to help Patty and us," another one said with a smile.  "Which was sweet but she had to wear shielding gear due to the baby."  They all smiled at that idea.  "She's going to be a fussier mother than Pepper is."

"Or Dawn will be," the first geek agreed.  He smiled at the new guy.  "No one does more than glance over them.  It's not like he's staring over our shoulders or breathing down our necks for steady progress.  Stark's been a lab geek himself for a really long time.  He's the sort to lock himself in a lab and not come out for days, even to eat.  Which is where Dawn learned how to gently nag him about it."

"She does?"

"She calls it fussing," the other geek said.  "She makes us coffee.  If we're one of the ones that gets too involved and we forget to eat she'll remind us.  She'll get us supplies if we need them and can't get away.  Stark taught her a lot about how to handle lab things and about being a geek.  She's really good to us."

The first one nodded with a huge grin.  "She's the one I went to talk to about proposing to my girlfriend.  I wasn't sure I wanted to but she let me talk it out and offered questions that made me think.  She also reminded me about prenups and our legal department being wiling to make them for us.  When Andrew and MB married she loaned MB a dress and got them to City Hall."

Another of the guys at the table cleared his throat.  "I'd be jealous of the fussing that Andrew and Jonathan get but they're geeks like Stark is.  Fandom and otherwise.  They got taken in because they were going evil overlord and Stark didn't want to have to ruin their minds.  They may be non-PhD geeks but they've come up with a lot of stuff.  Including the Roombas."

"They are handy, especially 1 since he's bomb sniffing and we had that one person who sent one to the head office that time," the first geek agreed.

"They did?" Peter asked.

"Yeah, jealous of Dawn and Pepper."

"Oh."  He ate a bite and nodded.  "So we're well taken care of?"

"We're so spoiled," the first geek assured him.  "There's guest suites if something happens or we're working too hard and forget to go home.  The caf is open all day and night.  We set our own schedules.  Stark gives each department money for coffee so we can buy whatever we want.  Dawn has the forms for that if you need it."  That got a nod and another bite eaten.  "The gym's free for us to use but don't get caught staring at the twins.  They're *gorgeous* but twelve.  They look seventeen but they're twelve.  You got your job because the last guy was staring a bit too hard and one of his people tried to make time with one of the twins.  Dawn nearly killed them.  Stark beat the guy who had your job pretty badly before Dawn got hold of him and the other guy."

"Dawn's a pretty girl."

"Seen the Avengers?" the first geek asked.  He nodded.  "You saw that archer guy and the redhead?"  He nodded with a grin.  "They're hers.  They're totally together.  We see them hanging around now and then.  Sometimes Romanoff comes in to pretend to be an assistant and helps Dawn with all her jobs.  Sometimes Barton sits by her and stares at her."

"I think it's nice that Andrew threatened him if he kept making Dawn sore," the third geek said happily.

"It was," Peter agreed.  "Sounds very...family."

"That group, yeah," the first geek said.  "Then again, Callia is Dawn's niece.  She came along after Dawn got taken in but it's really nice that they're all so tight.  We've mentioned problems to Dawn before and had them handled by the appropriate person quietly.  Oh, the cats?  The tan, chatty one is named after Dawn.  She'll hop up on your shoulder to talk your ear off if you let her.  If she does, call Security so they can bring her back upstairs.  Now and then they sneak out."  He pointed.  "Clint cat, go home."  It meowed at the food smells, hopping up to look.  One of the lunch women grabbed him, making him fight but oh well.  The security guard in there took him to send upstairs.  "See?"

Peter nodded.  "I do, yeah.  Why did he start a shield division anyway?"

"Have you seen how many times they bang into buildings?" the second geek asked dryly.  "They need it to protect the important ones, like the children's hospital that Agent Barton visits a kid at."


"Make a Wish," the first geek said with a grin. "Idolizes him."

"Huh.  Interesting."  He went back to eating, considering things.  He saw Dawn walking in with the guy who wasn't the archer but looked like him.  He pointed with his fork.

"That's the guy from the movie," the third geek moaned.  "Wow."

Dawn smiled at their table.  "He's talking with Clint, guys.  Relax."  They smiled at her.  He smiled and waved.  Clint strolled in with the Dawn cat.  She took the cat and walked off talking to her.  She had to hunt down Natasha but that was about usual.  She was on top of Andrew's filing cabinet.  He came in from getting lunch with MB to find her trying to get her down.

"Down," Andrew ordered with a point.  She hopped down and let Dawn pick her up.  "We've had to had that talk a few times with MB's little evil fluffball."  He petted Natasha.  "The guys in Shield Design think you're hot."

"I am but I'm allowing respectful staring," she quipped with a smirk for him.  He laughed and let her put the cat back upstairs.

Andrew sent a message to Barton.  Just in case.  He remembered the bullies they had up there before.


Dawn came home that night, spotting the idiots on the stoop again.  Great.  She sighed, catching their attention.  "I'm tired.  What are you people doing?"

"The pregnant agent?"

"What about her?" she asked.

"She's with SHIELD?"


"They allow pregnant agents?  I thought they all had to leave the main building and the hell carrier."

"Mostly but her position can't easily be moved.  You guys really do piss her off by the way.  People who show her picture make it harder for her to work."  They nodded they understood that.  "Anything else?  I'm exhausted, people."

"Is it because of the shoes?" one asked.

Dawn shrugged.  "I have really narrow feet.  I can't find anything but heels to fit.  I've only found one shop in Singapore and one here in the city that has shoes that fit me and the local one is for more club oriented clothing."

"A stripper store?" one of the reporters guessed.

"That too."  She smiled.  "If I could find flats in my size I'd gladly wear them.  Now, can I go take my shoes off and start on dinner?"  They let her by.  "Thank you and please go away?"

"We wanted to talk to Captain Rogers.  No one's seen him recently and there's a report that says he's depressed."

Dawn snorted.  "I talked to him earlier when he called from his current assignment, people."  They groaned.  "He's fine."  She walked in and firmly shut the door, going up to her apartment once she had the mail.  Only the bills came here.  It was time to pay them again.  She got inside, took off her shoes, settled on the couch to pay them, and found Natasha in the kitchen.  "Hey, you're back."  She smiled and got up to kiss her.  "Is the agent you were helping okay?"

"They're fine."  She smiled at Dawn.

Dawn gave her a hug and pulled back.  "What's wrong?"

"Nothing.  Why would anything be wrong?"

"Because you didn't hug."  Natasha opened her mouth.  Dawn stared at her.  "What happened?  Are you injured?  I might need new bandages."

"No, I'm fine," she promised, stopping Dawn from checking for injuries.  She winced when Dawn found something she shouldn't.

Dawn stared at it then at her.  "Is that a hickey?"

"It's a bruise."

"Yes, they are."  She stared at her, backing away to lean against the counter.  "Want to tell me what happened?"


"Were you on assignment or something?"

Natasha took a deep breath.  "I was not."

Dawn nodded.  "Then I think one of us needs to go away for a while.  Before I start a screaming match that the reporters outside will hear."  Natasha didn't move.  Dawn put back on her shoes and grabbed her phone, walking off.  She ran into Maria outside and the press arguing with her.  "People," she snapped.  "Enough."  They backed down.  "Sorry, Maria, didn't mean to bump into you."  She walked around her, getting into the cab Maria had gotten out of. 

She gave her mother's address and got taken off.  She tied down both bonds but did send Clint a message that Natasha was home.  He asked what she had run out for.  She replied she was going to see her mother about a hickey she had found.  Clint didn't answer back.  She put her phone in her pocket, paying from the change in it.  She hadn't gotten her purse.  She got out and walked over to knock on the door.  Joyce opened it.  Dawn started to sniffle and hugged her.  Joyce pulled her inside, shutting the door before anyone could see.  "She had a hickey, Mom," she whispered.

"I'm going to kill her myself," she promised, sitting down with Dawn on the couch.


Clint looked at his phone then at the people around him.  "I have to go home," he said, getting up and walking off.

Coulson followed to stop him.  "What happened?"  Clint shook his head, his jaw clenched.  He took the phone to read the text message that had pissed him off and winced.  "Damn it."

"She's with Joyce.  I think we need to have a talk."

"I believe you're right.  Want me to move you two somewhere private and isolated?"

"Maybe."  He got onto the elevator, heading down so he could catch a cab.  He tapped at his link with Dawn but felt her ready to cry.  No, she wasn't going to handle that well.  He got home and walked past the reporters, who were all quietly staring.  "Not.  Tonight."  They ran off again.  He went upstairs and walked in, closing and locking the door.  He stared at her.  "Would you like to justify it or would you simply like to explain?"

"I...  I panicked."

"Okay," he said.  "Not a good explanation."  He stared at her.  "That's not going to cut it with either of us."  She got up and he pushed her back into the chair.  "No.  We're going to talk."

"I...."  He glared and she shut up.  "Fine."

He sat down in front of her, staring at her.  "Panicked?"

"I don't know what I was thinking.  It was like being closed in and suddenly there was a burst of freedom."

"It's not like we keep you in a cage," he said bluntly.  He grimaced.  "Who?"


"He's a douche," he noted.

"I wasn't looking for really good, Barton."

He stared at her.  "Clearly."  She flinched at the cold tone.  He stood up and walked into the kitchen to get some water, coming back out to stare at her again.  "So what are we going to do about this?"

"I don't know.  Dawn...."

"She's with Joyce.  Who will kill you over this," he said, sounding normal and unconcerned.  He drank some of the water to calm his temper down.  "I'm not really pleased.  Frankly, I'm about to join her at Joyce's, Natasha."  She nodded, looking down.  "What the hell is going through your mind?"

"It was an overreaction to feeling a bit closed in by everything going on.  From not being able to do my usual job to having people follow me places to all the other things that are going on.  You're ... you're both sweet, and nice, and *there*.  Then I got an offer from someone who wasn't always there."

"So you spent a week working out this panic that we're always around you," he said, then sipped more water.  "Did it help?"


"Good!"  He stared at her, calming his temper down.  He looked around, spotting the cat staring at him.  He looked at her again.  "We've clearly got to talk about this.  I don't think it will be tonight because I'm mad enough to start yelling.  Dawn's fighting her urges to beat you."  She slumped, nodding.  "And really, I think we'd be justified, and I hate that about myself."  He stood up.  "I'm going to Joyce's.  I'm not sure if we'll be back tonight or not.  We'll be sitting down to talk about this tomorrow night.  All three of us.  Once we're calmer, back in control of our tempers, all that."  The twins came in.  "C'mon, we're going to see your grandmother so we're not arguing tonight."  They nodded, going with him.  He even took the cat.   Diana took Loki from him.  "Thanks."

"What happened?" Artemis asked.

"We'll talk at your grandmother's.  Where there's no reporters."  He called a cab and they waited inside until it came.  Then they got in together and he paid the fare.  The cabby drove off once he had the address.  Once they got there, Diana ran ahead to get them inside because there was a reporter watching the house.  She smiled at her grandmother, bouncing in to hug her.  Artemis and the cat came in with Clint following.  Then Clint closed and locked the doors.  He walked over to Dawn, hugging her.  "We'll talk tomorrow," he said quietly.

Dawn nodded.  "I'm not sure if I want to.  I can't stand...."

He kissed her.  "Me either."  She looked at him.  "I don't know.  I really don't know."  He sat down and cuddled her.  "Girls, we're having a fight with Natasha right now.  That's why we're having dinner here."  They nodded, letting the cat down so he could crawl up on his humans' laps to comfort them.  "Thanks, Loki cat."  He petted him and Dawn petted his ears.

"We'll help you guys work it out, "Joyce promised, kissing him on the head.  "What did she say?"

"She panicked."

"That's a better reason than Hank had," she admitted, going into the kitchen.  "I'll make more than soup.  Girls, go clean up."  They ran to do that then came in to help her.  She was teaching them how to cook better than their mother did.

Dawn looked at him.  "I always said I would not accept a cheater," she said quietly.

"I don't want one either.  She's not doing it for the same reason as your ex-stepfather did."  He squeezed her.  She rested her head against his shoulder.  "I don't know what we're doing yet beyond the point that I evacuated before I started to scream and rant."

"Me too.  Or started to cry."  He kissed her hair.  She relaxed and let it happen as it did.  They all understood.


Tony watched Dawn walk in the next morning on the security cameras.  "JARVIS, why is she wearing the same clothes?"

"She, Agent Barton, and the twins spent the night with her mother, sir."

Tony grimaced.  "Really?"


"Any yelling, screaming, anything going on at home?"

"No, not that I noted."

"Natasha back?"

"Yes.  She's hiding in her apartment cleaning weapons."

Tony scowled.  He went to get Dawn from the changing area.  He ran into Clint.  "You two good?"

"Nope," he admitted.  "We're going to spar though."

"What happened?"  Clint stared at him.  "She's like my sister, Barton.  Can I help?  Mediate whatever fight's going on?"

"No.  We need to have this out between us.  Thanks though."  Dawn came out dressed in something else.  He looked at her.  "Sparring?"

"Let me handle the few things at my desk and I will."  He nodded, going with her.  "Hey, Tony."

He stared at her.  "Want to talk to Pepper?"

"No.  I'll end up ranting and screaming and she's not the one I want to do that at."  She patted him on the arm.  "Let me handle my desk for a bit before sparing."  She walked off with him.

Tony stared at her back then went up to his lab to think and watch the footage again.  What had Natasha done that had upset them that much?  When it hit him he snarled and sent a private message to Pepper.  She sent back that Dawn was acting normally but it was clear Barton was going to snap.  She sent them to spar once Dawn had done the mail, memos, and answered the phone the first time it rang.  Mostly because Dawn had flinched when it had rang and so had Barton.  Tony went upstairs.  Steve and Bruce had gotten back late the night before and both were crashed in his apartment.  Bruce was being sat on by the dog, who was sleeping on him.  He was awake and staring oddly at the dog.  "He does that to me too," Tony said quietly.  "Joyce might need a hug."

"Why?  What happened?"

"I'm pretty certain Dawn and Clint found out Natasha had cheated," he said very quietly.

Bruce nodded.  "She's going to kill her."

"Both of them are sparring."

"Good.  They'll save some for Joyce."  He got free of the dog, which pouted at him for it.  "I need to go shower," he told it.  Xander puppy barked and followed him, because he liked the water too.  "Sure, that'll work."  He even gave the dog a bath since it seemed to want one.

Tony walked into his bedroom, finding Callia hugging him.  "Your dog's in the shower with your grandfather," he told her.

She giggled.  "We do that sometimes too."  She hugged Steve.  "Can I have him today?"

"Later.  I need him for a few."

"Okay."  She sighed but got up and went to make breakfast.  "I'm doing eggies."

"Okay.  Have your grandfather watch you."  He shut the door, making Steve stare at him.  "Need to talk, on a team level, for a few."

"What happened?"  He sat up.  Tony sat on him.  "That bad?"

"Pretty sure Natasha just blew her chance at happiness.  Dawn came home, they had a short meeting then she went to Joyce's.  Then Clint stormed home, they had a short talk, and he went to Joyce's with the twins."

"What happened?  Did she say she wanted a divorce?"

"I think she cheated," Tony said quietly.

"Great."  He laid back down.  "Want me to talk to her?"

"I'm not sure.  I'm not sure if things can be gotten over for any battles we have coming up.  I know Dawn's flinching at the phone again.  I know Barton's at the level of icy silence but he's clinging to Dawn."

Steve nodded.  "I can see if they want to talk."

"They turned down my help."

"I know."  He took a kiss.  "Otherwise you wouldn't have brought it to me."  He got up once Tony had moved.  "Let me shower and change."

"They're going to spar."

"Even better.  It might wear some things out."  He stripped off and walked into the bathroom to shower off Cambodia.  The mission had went well but he enjoyed being home.

Tony went back to the lab.  He needed to think.  He wasn't sure what he wanted to do beyond shake the shit out of Natasha for this stupidity.  Or go borrow Andrew's battle suit to beat her to death.  It'd be unfair if he used the Iron Man suit on her.


John looked up from his weekly PT then rolled his eyes.  "Not even praying is going to help you calm down," he muttered, going back to his workout.  "Even to me."  He finally listened to the whole thing Dawn was venting mentally.  Okay, that made sure he'd run later.  He appeared and grabbed Natasha, making her follow him.  "Let's go talk."

"Did they tell you?"

"No, Dawn's trying not to spew so she's mentally ranting.  Which apparently for some reason I'm the one who's catching it."

Phil appeared.  "Sorry.  Xander's unconscious at the moment."

"Why?" Natasha asked.

He stared at her.  "He fell."  She slumped.  "We need to talk, Romanoff."  He got her from John and took her to the nice little clearing by Xander's cabin on Asgard.  "It is just you and me here," he said calmly, staring at her.  "No one else.  No one that you have to justify anything to.  So let's talk."

"I don't know why...."

"Natasha," Phil said quietly.  "Even when your mind has been tampered with you know your own actions."  She sat down on the wood pile but he moved her.  "It might have squirrels and the ones up here do bite."  He took her inside, making some tea for them.  He handed hers over and sat down across from her.  "So what happened?"

"I was feeling trapped.  Sometimes I get that."

"I've seen it happen.  I saw it happen with Barton once and I nearly had you removed to another handler."  She stared at him.  "You can work with others.  He can't.  Or couldn't at the time."  She nodded that was true.  He sipped some of his tea, showing her it was safe.  She sipped hers and put it aside.  "I'm not mad.  I'm disappointed.  I'm giving you a chance to figure things out before they come home tonight so you can argue."

"I...  I should not be there."

"If you aren't there, they're going to have worse problems," he said bluntly.  "The only reasonable, healthy course of action is to talk things out.  Yes, there will be a fight.  Dawn will probably cry, Clint's going to shout and get pissed off.  So will you."  He stared her down.  "But... if you don't it'll be worse.  Can you take losing them?"

"I already have."

"No, not fully.  Perhaps later on but not right now."  He finished his tea and put the mug in the sink to clean it.  There was a spell that did it for them because they both hated to do dishes.  Natasha got up to finish hers and put it in there too.  "It's nearly dinner time back on earth.  Are you ready?"

"No," she said.  He stared at her.  "But I am not a coward."  He took her back home, depositing her in front of the couch.  Which had Dawn and Clint sitting on it talking.  He disappeared.  "I...."  She cleared her throat.  "This is not what I meant to have happen."

Dawn looked at her.  "If you had told us we were smothering you we might've let you take a vacation, with rules.  Things like it had to be someone clean so you don't give us anything and you can't get pregnant by them."  Natasha shook her head.  "Right now though, you're damn lucky I'm not killing you."

Clint nodded.  "It's not a hell I want to watch us go through either."

"I can have our apartments separated."

"Shut up and sit down," Dawn ordered quietly.  She did.  Dawn grimaced.  She looked at Clint then at her.  "We all have issues.  We all realize we all have issues.  You have issues from your past, he has some from his past, I have a few of my own," she noted.  "Our choice right now is to either work through it, either by counseling or on our own, or destroying what had been happy before."

"Which none of us want to do," Clint admitted.  "Though you're on your own with Joyce."

"Mom realized it wasn't the same as her ex doing it, not for the same reasons, but she's still pissed enough to beat you with a shoe."  She shifted to cross her legs, considering it.  "So, we have two options and one destroying one."

"I do not think I could take counseling.  I tend to avoid after-mission ones," Natasha said.

"So do I," Clint agreed.  "This would be even more invasive and might screw us up worse."

Dawn nodded.  "Then we need to do a hell of a lot of talking."  She looked at Clint then at Natasha.  She sent a private thought at Clint, who grimaced but nodded.  "We are going to make a few demands," Dawn said.  "The first is that you're getting checked for STD's.  Even if we fell into bed together sometime in the near future I'd want at least two clean tests before we go without condoms."

"That's reasonable," Natasha agreed.  "Though I don't expect it to come out wrong."

"With the way your mental state was circling, did you ask?" Dawn asked.

"Most SHIELD agents are clean," Clint said.

"Bullshit," Dawn snorted.  "They mostly have treatable things, but I filed a whole lot of updates to personnel files that had things like 'caught syphilis while on mission'."

"Eww," Clint said.  "Okay, then definitely, yeah.  And condoms."  He patted Dawn's wrist to keep her calm.  "I'd also like a pregnancy test done."

"I took a shot right before," she told them.  They nodded that was nice of her.  She shifted uncomfortably.  "I can agree to those demands however.  I can sleep in my own apartment."

Dawn looked at her.  "I was going to let you have the spare room up here since you don't have a bed."

"That's Sean's room," she reminded her.

"I have a few empty ones," Clint said.  "That way you don't have to buy a bed."  She nodded her thanks.  "I don't know what to tell you, Nat.  I'm so damn pissed.  I really want to scream at you but it won't do any good."

"Ditto," Dawn sighed, rubbing her face.  She slumped some then looked at Natasha again.  "What did we do to make you feel so trapped?"

"It wasn't anything like that, Dawn."  She considered it.  "In the past you've both noted that I've realized how easy we were together and gotten...strange about it."  They nodded they agreed.  "This was another of those.  Then suddenly he was there and it was a bad idea but it was like it fixed it."

"Then we really need to work on that in addition to the other stuff," Dawn said.  "Because I'm not sure if that's a trust issue, if that's something that you learned before that's biting us all on the ass, or if it's something deeper than that."

"It could be any of those," Clint admitted.  "Plus she's been under mind control before so it could've come from that.  We all still have flashes from our times under it."  Dawn nodded she still did.

"I did not mean to make you angry."

"We sparred for four hours today," Clint told her.  "To get this calm."  Natasha shivered.  "Dawn nicely healed all the bruises.  Cap locked us in a room after trying to talk to us."

"Then the others know?"

"Tony realized we were a bit stressed and it was something between us," Dawn said.  "He offered to mediate but we turned it down.  I'm thinking he guessed.  Cap said he wanted to make sure you two could still work as part of the team."

"We broke up once before and still could," Clint said.

"It was difficult but doable," Natasha agreed.  "Bruce?"

"He's supporting Mom and offering types of shoes for her consideration.  He said he'd help mediate and all that but he wasn't getting in the middle."

"Tony tried that a few times but even Cap told him we needed to work this out between us," Clint said.

Natasha nodded.  "We do."  She shifted to curl up in the chair.  "I'm sorry."

"That's a great place to start," Clint agreed.  "That and dinner."

Dawn looked at him.  "Which one of us is cooking?"

"The pizza place?"

"I just moved most of everything to a better bank account so mine's a bit locked."

"I can cover it."  He kissed her on the forehead.  "Why?"

"Because this way it's on this coast."

"Oh, that's a great idea," he decided.  "How long before it's all transferred?"

"Six more days."  Clint nodded, calling for pizza.  They sat there and looked at each other until it got there, then Clint paid and Natasha put it on the table.  They settled in to eat and try to talk.  Though, Dawn mostly picked at it.

Natasha looked at her.  "I did not stop to think how hard this would be on you."

Dawn looked at her.  "You're actually pretty damn lucky I'm willing to talk.  I swore up and down when I was shown what Mom went through that I would never put myself in that hell she went through.  Including yearly HIV tests for six years."  Natasha shuddered.  "I know you're not the same as Hank was, Natasha.  I know it was a different motivation, I realize all that.  I can't say as I'm not really pissed off."  She ate a real bite of pizza.

"What did Buffy do when she found out Riley had been cheating with the vampire feeding stuff?" Clint asked.

"Mom made her put down the baseball bat and they talked for about six hours.  Buffy handled it and he had to leave town anyway.  Though she still might miss him now and then, not totally sure.  I know now and then she gets a feening for Angel."  She shrugged slightly.  "First love stuff I guess."

"Most young women had that," Natasha said.  "I did with my first husband."

"You guys kinda were mine," Dawn said dryly.  "I don't have to think back and remember."  Clint groaned.  She shrugged.  "I had dated casually but nothing more than a few dates with one person, who I decided was an incompetent moron with size issues.  He kept wanting me to get breast implants."

"So he had a thing for girls that looked like strippers?" Clint asked.

"He was only seventeen.  He'd only seen pornos.  It was right before my seventeenth birthday.  I had a sudden fit on him about being fine the way I am, and I was a good, natural size.  That fake ones ruined everything about a real woman unless they were done to correct defects.  He stomped off.  Tony gave me a standing ovation for it since we were at the house for a later meeting."  She ate another bite of pizza.  "He apparently wanted Jessica Rabbit."

"You'd look really strange as her," Clint said.  Dawn nodded and smiled a bit.  "I was never that shallow.  I dated some, had some cheap thrills here and there.  Then I took up with Nat the first time."

"So she was your first real love too?" Dawn quipped.

"Yeah, pretty much."  He glanced at her, seeing the blush.  "We'll figure it out."

Dawn nodded.  "We will.  Though, if it ever happens again?  I will use *all* my skills on you," she assured her wife.  Then she smiled.  "Not even Clint will know what happens to you."

Natasha shuddered but nodded.  "I understand and would accept that fate, Dawn."

Dawn got up and went into the bedroom.  Clint watched her go and put her plate aside.  He looked at her.  "She hates going into that sort of mood."

"I remember."  She put her own plate down.  "I should go to my room."

"Use the master in my old place," he said quietly.  "No reason for you to be on the hard spare beds."  She nodded, going up there.  Clint leaned back.  Dawn was sniffling and trying to hide it on the cat.  "Dawn?" he called quietly.

"No.  Stay."

"Okay."  He gave her ten minutes then went in.  She pulled him down to cuddle him because he needed comforting too.  Before Nat had just dumped him, not done something like this.


Joyce walked into work the next morning looking calm.  She was wearing new shoes.  Maria looked and smiled.  "Pretty."

"Thank you.  I splurged a bit but they'll last through me using them on someone."  She sat down.  Maria looked confused.  She shook her head.  "Family issues."

"Something happen to the twins?" she asked.  "Or Callia?"


"Something happen to Sean or Dawn?"

"Slightly."  She grimaced.  "I don't need to vent.  Bruce has a headache from me venting all night, dear.  We'll handle it."

She nodded.  "I heard rumors."  She shook her head.  The other agent in that tryst was already being shunned by everyone.  He had tried to justify it as it was consensual and she wanted it too but that wasn't flying among most agents.  Thankfully she had kept Tara from cursing him last night when she had heard the rumors.  Maybe she'd ask Natasha if she wanted to talk.  That way she had an external stress point to use.

And Joyce's shoes?  They'd make a pretty head dent.


Clint decided to go visit Bob at the hospital, showing up unannounced.  Bob beamed at him, hugging him from where he was packing.  "You get to go home?  Finally!"  He grinned.  "Is it a good going home?"

"I hope so.  We'll know in a few months when they take another scan."  He grinned.  "You look upset."

"Things have been going a bit...in the wrong direction around me recently."  He sat down.  "It happens to adults."  Bob nodded he had heard that it did and finished his packing.  Clint made sure he kept the sunglasses and the arrow.  "So, now what?"

"I get to start regular school next year."

Clint grinned.  "That's a great thing.  School's really good for you."  Bob stared at him.  "Even though I had to drop out, I still got my GED and I took classes in things that interested me after that.  Learning happens, even if it's not in a book."  He smiled.  "You'll do great though."

"I hope so.  It'll be weird to be around so many kids."

"Yeah but kinda nice.  That means you have other people to work with and talk to that're you own age."

"That'd be nice."  He shifted, smiling at his mom when she came in.  "He came to see me off."

Clint grinned.  "You're a neat kid.  I hope my future kids are as neat as you are."

Bob laughed.  "You're going to have kids with Dawn?"

"Some year.  We've talked about it a few times."  Bob grinned.  "We're not sure when yet but we're avoiding all the pushy press people who want her to do it right this very minute."

"I saw some of them on the tv.  They were pretty dumb," Bob said.

"Yeah, they are," Clint agreed.  "They stand outside our building in the pouring rain without umbrellas to stalk us.  They clearly have no sense."  Bob cackled.  He hugged the kid.  "You keep writing to me?"

"Of course.  You're neat."

"You're pretty neat too, kiddo.  Let me know how things are going."  He let his mom take him and stood up.  "Remember to practice with the nerf crossbows and stuff."

"When does Mr. Stark's daughter get to learn?"

"He said when she's nine.  We've taught her gun safety recently but she's not allowed to learn how to use a bow of any sort or a gun until she's nine.  Which we thought was okay."  Bob's mother gave him an odd look.  "Callia's a future slayer," he said quietly.

"Oh!  So she has to learn beyond all those people who want to take her."  Clint nodded.  "Huh.  Those twins?"

"Time runs faster on Asgard.  Buffy took her kids up there.  That's her baby sisters.  Who are hell with a bow.  They've already been bow hunting for a few years now."  Bob grinned.  "They're sweet girls but teenagers.  Dawn had to forcefully remind someone the other day that they're only twelve."

Bob's mom winced.  "They're twelve?"

"Yeah," Clint agreed, pulling out pictures.  "That's Diana and Artemis, the twins.  And that's Sean, her little brother.  He'll be fourteen in about two months."

"Wow," she said, blinking.

"I want to be that tall," Bob said.  "The girls are really pretty too."

"They are.  Dawn's already beating off people who want them to model and stuff.  She nearly made a reporter who suggested it earlier cry."  Bob cackled and handed back the pictures.  He winked.  "Write me.  Be a great boy.  Be healthy."

"I can do that."  Clint ruffled his hair and left him to finish packing up all the stuff in his room.  He sighed, looking at his mom.  "He's so neat."

"Yeah, he is.  He looked a bit sad."

"He said things are going wrong around him right now."

"Huh.  Sometimes that happens to adults."  She opened the boxes to tape them so her son could load in his precious Hawkeye and archery collections.


Clint walked off on the floor where Dawn's office was, staring at the person nagging her.  He cleared his throat, getting a sit rep from Dawn mentally.  "No, the twins may not do anything that shows any more skin than usual.  They're twelve.  We want them to be normal young women with healthy self esteem.  If you so much as lay a *finger* on them for any reason, even to take their pictures, I'm going to get some target practice.  I'm *real* protective over the kids."  She slunk off.  Clint sat down and grinned. "Hopefully that ends that threat until our kids come out really beautiful."

Dawn grinned.  "They will.  Maybe not blonde....."

He laughed.  "That's fine.  They can be stunning brunettes."  He smiled at Pepper when she came to the doorway.  "The evil one was banished."

"Dawn was about to shoot her anyway.  Try to be polite, Barton.  We need them to like us."

"They can like you and Dawn all they want and hate me so they quit printing my picture," he quipped.

"That could help," she decided, going back to her desk.

"Ultrasound in twenty," Dawn reminded her.

"I'm procrastinating."

"Stark's already salivating."

"I figured he was."  She sighed, sitting down and looking at Liz, who was sleeping.  Tony was going to drive her nuts, she was right about that prediction.  Steve walked in and helped her up, grinning madly at her as he walked her to the elevator.  So maybe Tony wasn't the worst at it.

Dawn looked up at the amplified cheering going on.  "YES!  A NEW BABY BROTHER!" screamed the tiny female voice.

Dawn smiled at Clint.  "I think Callia's happy."

"I think so too."  He looked at Liz, who had gotten moved out beside Dawn.  "She's looking funny."

Dawn turned to check on her, starting with her breathing.  "That's not good.  Infirmary to my desk, ASAP!"  The doctor came rushing off the elevator, spotting the baby.  "She's not breathing right.  It's like hiccups without it."

She pulled out her stethoscope to listen, nodding.  "That would've probably started off crib death," she said.  "Nice catch, guys."

"I'm glad I did," Clint said.  "Can we help?"

"I'm going to put her on oxygen downstairs and call her pediatrician."  She carried her off.  "Send me Stark.  Pepper's crying."

Dawn blinked.  "He's not there?"

"Pepper kicked him out."

She called.  "Tony, Liz wasn't breathing well.  Going with Doc right now."  She hung up and leaned back, looking up.  "Fuck."

"A lot," Clint said, getting up to move the playpen.  Dawn took a kiss and he smiled.  "It'll be okay.  We caught it.  They can use those sleep apnea systems or something.  She nodded, taking the playpen back to the office.  Thankfully Liz had been on her back, hadn't had anything she could've suffocated herself on, and was going to be okay. 

Dawn forwarded the phones and took Clint down to hug Pepper.  She was probably a wreck.  "Want me to call your mom?" she asked quietly, getting a nod.  "Okay.  Let me get you guys chairs."  She got them from the other room and put them near the specially tented bed.  She shoved Tony into one since he was still standing.  Pepper curled up between them and kept sniffling.  Clint nudged Tony and nodded at Pepper when he got looked at.  Tony looked at her and pulled her tightly against him, holding her. 

"We can take Callia tonight, Tony," Dawn said in his ear.  He nodded.  She walked off to the elevator calling.  "Hi, Pepper's mom.  It's Dawn.  No, fairly bad issue.  The baby just started to breathe funny.  She's in the infirmary with her pediatrician showing up soon.  Yeah, she's okay.  Clint caught it when it started.  So they're being a bit proactive.  No, she's sobbing on Tony and Steve."  She listened.  "I can make you reservations and make sure you get up here, ma'am.  Give me thirty to do that."  She hung up and worked from her phone on her way up to the penthouse.  She found Callia dancing around with the Dawn kitty.   "Hey."  Callia stared at her.  "Liz just came down sick so you're staying with me tonight."

"Why is she sick?" she demanded.

"Not sure yet.  Your parents are with her so you're with me tonight."

"Okay."  She put her cats down.  "Can we bring them?"

Clint shrugged.  I don't see why not for the night.  Loki can deal for a night."  Callia hugged them both and gathered things up.  Dawn was making flight reservations.  When they were done she stepped into the bathroom to call Pepper's mom to tell her that.  She texted Steve so he could tell Pepper.  Happy got alerted so he could pick them up.  Clint got Callia and all the pets, including Carrot, back to their place.

Natasha looked up from cooking when they walked in with the carrying cases.  "What's happened?  Another attack?"

"Liz is kinda sick," Clint said, staring at her.  "So she's camping with the twins."

"That's fine.  They're in their room pouting."  She rolled her eyes.  "They thought modeling sounded nice."

"It's not," Callia said.  "It's really boring having your picture taken repeatedly with stupid orders like 'look left and tip your chin down'."  She set up the pets in the office and went to pounce her sisters.

Clint looked at Natasha.  "Liz almost quit breathing," he mouthed.  Natasha shuddered but nodded.  "She does not know."

"Agreed.  I won't mention it."  She finished with the stuff she was making.  "Girls, your snack is ready."  They came out to get it with Callia and the cats.  Loki was staring at them from his up high spot, growling some.  She looked up there.  "Behave.  They're only being babysat with their human."

Clint reached up to pet his cat.  "It'll be okay, Loki cat.  You know them.  You're friends with them."  He grabbed a fry from Callia and winked before leaving to go help Dawn.


Dawn was woken up that night by her niece climbing on top of her.  She blinked at her.  Clint was pretending to be asleep but she had felt him stiffen slightly.  "What's up?" she asked quietly.

"Do I really have to lose someone each time I get a new sibling?" she asked quietly, staring at her.

"No!  What made you think that?  And how did you find out?"

"I asked JARVIS and he said she was breathing normally again, so I wondered why she wasn't."  She shifted, pulling some hair around to play with.  "When I got the new sisters, I lost Mommy and Daddy Hylal.  It took a bit but I did."

"No, that's not what happened," she sighed.  She pulled her down to cuddle her.  "You lost your mom and Hylal because they were defending against something bad.  It had nothing at all to do with getting siblings.  You didn't when you got Sean, right?"

"No, I guess not."

"You didn't when Liz was born."

"No, I didn't."  She relaxed.  "Then why did Liz get so sick?"

"Because sometimes babies breathe funny, Callia.  No one's sure why.  You've seen news stories on SIDS babies I'm sure."  She nodded.  "That's what we caught happening to Liz.  There's no known cause.  There's treatments to make sure it doesn't keep happening, that way you don't have to worry about losing her."

"Will she end up sick like Stepmommy Steve said he used to be?"

"No, not in the least.  Those aren't connected.  Steve had asthma, like your friend in swimming with the inhaler?  She has asthma I think."

"Oh, so different breathing problems."

"Yup.  This one, no one's sure why it starts or where it comes from.  But Liz is going to be just fine and so is everyone else you know."

Callia looked at her.  "You can't promise that."

"I can promise that we'll do everything we can to make sure of it."  She gave her a squeeze.  "All of us try really hard to not even get a single bruise from the bad things that we have to handle.  It may not always work but that's why we have such great doctors who help us when things go beyond what we can control."  She nodded, snuggling in.  "It'll be okay.  Everyone's going to be fine.  Liz is going to be okay.  Your new baby brother is going to be just great and so is Pepper."

She nodded.  "I hope so.  I couldn't ask Daddy, he might get sniffly."

"Yeah, sometimes daddies do that.  So do aunts and mommies and stepmommies.  Your daddy's not one of his robots.  He'll never be one of his robots.  You can talk to him about that stuff."

"It's easier to ask you sometimes.  You don't over explain."

She smiled.  "Sometimes your dad's not totally sure how to talk to you about stuff so he does that.  If you tell him you don't understand he'll explain it in different ways."

"Okay.  I can try that.  Why can't the dog and cats have babies?  I asked him but he went into DNA and stuff I don't know yet."

"Because they're different species.  Species can only breed with themselves.  That's why horses and zebras can breed together, because they're both equine species, but the horse can't mate with a cow because the cow is a bovine species."

"Oh.  So dogs and cats are too different."


"Then how did we get centaurs?"

"I believe that was a godly creation if they were real.  You'd have to look up that myth and so would I," Dawn said.  "Or ask Uncle Xander."

"I can do that."  She yawned and burrowed in.  "You give nice cuddles.  When you have babies they're going to be really lucky."

"I hope so."  She kissed her on the head, looking over at Clint, who shrugged and grinned.  "Want put back in bed?"


"Fine.  This time."  She smiled and drifted off to her aunt's cuddles.  Her uncle cuddled against her back and it was good.  It was very comfortable.  Nearly as good as Daddy and her two stepmommies cuddling her.

Clint smiled at that mumbled compliment, kissing Dawn gently.  "You're a great aunt."

"Thank you.  You make a pretty fantastic uncle."  He grinned and they settled in to go back to sleep, though Dawn sent a text to JARVIS to copy that for Tony to watch in the morning.  Clint grinned, stroking over her hair.  She fell asleep to that.  It was nice.


Tony woke up to the beep from JARVIS of an incoming message.  He was still in the infirmary.  He scrubbed his face and pulled out his phone to see who it was.  It was hopefully important.  He saw it was from Dawn and scowled but let the video play.  He slumped, starting it over.  He looked at Steve and Pepper, still sleeping.  He put his phone up.  He'd show them in the morning.  Yeah, that had been important and she had done a great job.  They'd have to talk in the morning.


Pepper smiled at her mother when she got woken by a hand going over her hair.  "When did you get in?"

"About midnight.  You three were already asleep so we snuck in to cuddle Liz and then slept in your apartment until we couldn't wait any longer."  She smoothed down some of Pepper's fly-away hair.  "Go shower and change.  I have it for now, dear."

"Thanks, Mom."  She nudged Steve and Tony, who woke up.  Tony blinked at her, handing her the phone.  She frowned, watching the video that was paused.  She slumped.  "Dawn handled that very well."

"She did," he agreed.  "Do I over explain?"

"I think sometimes we forget she's a very young genius because I know I have," Steve admitted.  "At least Dawn could answer her."  Pepper's mother took the phone to watch the video, sighing in displeasure.  "Her aunt handled it very well."

"She did.  Who is that she's with?"

"Her husband," Pepper said with a grin.  "He gives very good cuddles and he's very protective of Callia and her sisters."  She got up.  "Let me go clean up."  She left after checking on Liz and touching her hand.  She was trying to snore.  "She's always snored.  I wonder if that was something we missed."

Tony shrugged.  "I know nothing about snoring except that I do it too."  He took his phone back, looking at Steve.  "Do the pets?"

"I can do that and let you have the first shower.  I don't have anything to do today."  They both patted Liz and went up to take care of things.  No pets.  "I guess Dawn let them come home with her last night."  Tony nodded, smiling at him.  He helped him with the shower.  It was good to hold a wet, slippery Tony Stark sometimes.


Dawn opened the cab door, letting Callia out first.  "Stand there."  She did and took her dog's leash to let him sniff around while she and Clint got the cat and bunny carriers.  He got the bunny since Carrot was a hefty bunny.  Dawn paid the driver and let him go while they carried the pets inside.  Tony cat was howling in misery.  Dawn looked at him once they were inside.  "Stop.  It." 

The cat stopped and stared at her.  "Thank you!"  Clint got the pets onto the special elevator and went to get the twins from the cab that they were in.  He wasn't taking any chances today.  Dawn got them upstairs and released the cats so they could run and hide, taking her cat from the group because he had been sneaky.  She frowned at him.  "Loki, really?"  She heard Steve laugh and handed him her cat.  "In case you run home?"

"I can do that."  He pulled Callia over to cuddle.  "Hi, Cal."

"Hi, Stepmommy."  She snuggled into his lap to pet the Loki kitty, but the kitty ran off when two of hers pounced.  "Okay, we'll pet you instead."  She purred back and petted them.  Her dog hopped up next to them on the couch.  The others arranged themselves. She looked at Steve.  "Is Liz okay?"

"She's fine, sweetheart.  She's sleeping normally without any problems.  For now, the doctors said she can have this thing that she'll wear that'll sound an alarm if she doesn't breathe right."  She nodded, accepting that with her cuddle.  "Get everything set back up for them and we'll go visit her in the infirmary."  She smiled and got up to do that.  He looked at Loki, frowning.  "We'll take you home in a few minutes."  The cat washed his paw before laying down on top of it.  He really had named that cat right.  Callia came bounding out once she had cleaned up the litter boxes, checked food, water, and treat supplies, and had petted the dog.  They went down to the infirmary together.  He picked her up so she could coo at Liz, getting cooed back.  "See, she's fine."

"Yeah, I hope she is."  She grinned and waved.  "Hi, Lizzy."  The baby cooed more loudly.  "Pretty soon you'll get out and we'll play together.  You're my great little sister."

"You're not siblings," Pepper's father said gently.

She looked at him.  "Yes she is.  We bonded when she was very tiny.  I've helped take care of her since she got discharged from the infirmary after birth."  She looked at Steve then back at her step-grandparents.  "Beyond that, Pepper's like my stepmommy, just like Steve is."  She smiled at Liz.  "We'll *read* when you get out."  Liz squealed and babbled.  She grinned and patted her on the hand.  "You rest, sweetie.  I'll go remind Auntie Dawn that you want to see her too."  She wiggled down and got free, heading up to check on her other stepmommy and aunt.  "Liz is all squealy," she announced.  "Can I read to her later?"

"Of course you can," Pepper said with a smile.  "Go pick out a book."

"Thanks.  Your parents looked at me strangely when I said I'd read to her."  She ran off with a pause at Dawn to babble at her.  Then she found books to bring down with Pepper.

Dawn looked in there.  "I've got it, Pepper."

"Wonderful."  She hugged her.  "Nice job last night."  Dawn grinned.  "You're going to be fantastic at it, Dawn."  She went down there.  "Okay, let's see what you picked, Callia.  Ooh, the elephant book.  She loves that one," she said with a grin for her daughter.  "Why don't you read to her for me while I talk to my mom and dad?"  She had seen their odd looks at her.  She took them into the hallway.  "What's wrong?"

"They're not siblings, are they?" her mother asked.

"Tony and I are somewhat together, Mom, and she's allowed to call Liz her sibling.  They're as close as some twins.  Callia's always helped me with Liz.  They've been siblings since Callia found out I was pregnant."

"She called that one young man stepmom?" her father asked.

"That's Steve.  Captain Rogers?" she prompted.  Her father gaped and looked in there.  Pepper smiled.  "We're ....figuring things out but Callia's been like my own first daughter for years.  Her aunt Dawn and I have both taken over a lot of the mom duties for hers."

"Aunt, literally?" her mother asked.

"Yes, Dawn's sister Buffy had Callia.  Buffy's also recently died on Asgard and moved into Valhalla with her spouse."  Her mother's mouth fell open.  "Buffy, the senior slayer?  That's who NID created the baby from Stark with.  She's always been partially mine.  Dawn's also been great and always there for Callia.  So has Dawn's mom, Joyce.  Even when she was in an oncology ward she and Callia talked all the time.  She was as hands-on as she could be.  Even if I did have to steal Callia from the lab for shopping at times, she's very much my oldest daughter.  I make no distinctions between my girls."

"She's not yours," her mother said quietly, glancing in there.

"Mom, if I marry Tony I'm adopting her and he's adopting Liz.  I'll never have a step *anything*.  All the children in my life are mine, even if I didn't give birth to them.  I'm sorry you can't find that pleasing.  Most people would be thrilled to have Callia as their granddaughter."  She walked back in there.  She hugged Callia.  "Have you gotten to pat her?"

"I patted her hand and kissed it.  She giggled."  She smiled.  "I love you too, Pepper."

She hugged her.  "I love you too, Callia.  Even if some people don't understand."  She giggled and went back to reading the elephant book for her little sister.  "I need that name list."

"I've got it narrowed down to twelve."

"Okay.  Remember, it's twenty."  She smiled and nodded.  "Good girl."  She patted her on the head then kissed Steve on the forehead.  "Thank you," she said quietly.

He grinned.  "They're both my girls too."  She smiled and went to talk to the doctor.  Steve poked Callia.  "Reading?"  She beamed and went back to the story.  She liked this book a lot when she was younger.

Pepper's parents shared a look but they'd talk with their daughter later about her lifestyle choices.


Dawn smiled as Pepper's parents came off the elevator.  "She's still in the infirmary but I can call and see if she'll come up if you want."

"No, we wanted to talk to you," Pepper's mother said.  "What is going on with our daughter?"

"Shouldn't you ask her that?  Though I don't think anything's wrong beyond a few early mood swings.  She's been really happy and smiling a lot recently."  An email flashed on her system so she looked at it.  "Excuse me."  She called.  "Boss, JARVIS just said that Natasha's showed up for sparring."  She hung up and smiled at them again.  "He and the other Avengers spar a few times a week."  Bruce came storming off the elevator.  "We didn't tell mom?" she demanded.


"Sorry.  Shit, no, I thought I texted her or something, Stepdad."

"Is Liz all right?"

"She's pretty okay so far.  Clint caught it while it was happening so she's under a sleep apnea alarm in the infirmary.  Callia's been down there reading to her all morning."  He sighed and nodded.  "Is Mom coming over?"

"After work.  They're swamped by whatever Barton's doing today."

"Yeah, I heard."  She grimaced.  "We're going to be lucky if we don't see a whole lot of assassins going 'he's mean' about it again," she finished sarcastically, cracking him up.  That had happened a few months back with a few trainee assassins.  "Have you met Pepper's parents?  This is Dr. Banner, who is also my stepfather."  She smiled.

"Pleasure, sir," Pepper's father said, shaking his hand.  His mother smiled and shook it too.

"Pepper's a great young woman and holds everything steady behind the scenes, including Tony."  Dawn snickered, nodding.  "But she's good?"

"She's fine.  We're allowed to visit.  Doc's been snickering a few times about Callia reading Liz the new Avengers comics."  He smiled and rolled his eyes.  "Natasha's in the gym with Cap."

He stared at her.  "You three......"  She shook her head.  "Working on it?"

"Yeah.  Slowly.  I'm no longer at the point of unmitigated rage," she said with a perky grin.

He hugged her around the head.  "It'll work itself out."  He stared at her.  "Or we'll sedate you again and let you three be captured by Atlantis to talk about things."  He smiled at the parents.  "Let me check on my granddaughter then go over for team bonding and beating each other up time.  Pleasure meeting you."  He went back down in the elevator.  At least they hadn't acted like he was infected with something, that was polite of them.

Dawn grinned.  "He's a really sweet guy, who has some anger management issues."

"That doesn't worry you?" Pepper's father asked.

"No more than having Captain Rogers suddenly having a PTSD daylight flashback would.  I love that guy.  He made my mom extremely happy.  He's supported her a lot since the day they met, which was right after my mom was out of the hospital for cancer treatment.  He's been so great to her.  I'm not sure Mom would've ever come out of the house again if it wasn't for him.  It wore her down so far and so out that she didn't have the energy to go sit on her front porch most days.  She tried really hard but she didn't.  He's helped her a lot and given her the comfort that having daughters around couldn't."

"That's lovely," Pepper's mother agreed, smiling at her.  "Is she better?"

"She is so far.  It's been almost two years now."  She grinned. "Even with his anger issues, Bruce is still a really sweet guy.  Even as the Hulk, he'd never hurt Callia.  She used to squeal and pounce him to calm him down."  Pepper's mother gasped.  "Yeah.  Called him Grr Guy, cuddled him to calm him down.  He just hugged her and protected her from everyone.  Including her dad a few times because he didn't realize.  He does the same for Liz.  Callia pulled up her picture last time to introduce them and he was patting her telling her Liz was good too."

"So this thing Stark's forced my daughter into?" Pepper's mother asked.

Dawn stared at her.  "Tony may be a lot of things, including an asshole sometimes, but he'd never *force* Pepper into anything.  For that matter, I don't know of anyone stubborn enough to *force* Pepper into *anything* she doesn't want to do."  Pepper's mother slumped.  "What makes you think Tony started that relationship?  They've been flirting on and off for years from what I've been told and noticed.  They even tried to date in the past."  She tapped out a message to the one that had just popped up. 

"Beyond that, I think you should probably be talking to your daughter about that."  She pulled over her phone.  "Excuse me.  Security, MB's mom just showed up," she said.  "At the other tower demanding to have Stark.  Yes, there's still a restraining order.  It's on file in the office, second filing cabinet with the others.  Thank you."  She hung up.  "Her mother's totally psychotic at times.  Told her that Stark was making her breed and called us a cult."  She shook her head.  "We adore MB even with her mother."  Andrew came off the elevator.  She grinned.  "Security send you up here so you couldn't grab the battle suit?"

"Yes," he complained, grimacing.  "Check on Barton?  There's a lot of officers where he was last spotted."  She casually reached that way and sighed, texting Tony.  She also texted Maria Hill, who said she'd have it handled.  Ten minutes later she got a call from SHIELD.  She locked the desk and computer, pointing.  "Yes, Dawn," he complained.

She kissed him on the cheek.  "Just answer the phone.  Stark's in sparring, Pepper's in the infirmary with Liz."  She smiled at the staring parents.  "Let me go help my husband."  She got up and looked at herself.  "Not exactly what I'd want to wear."  She went down to her locker and got into the bag in there.  The different dress and shoes were more practical.  She thought about pulling back her hair but decided not to.  It gave the wrong image and she looked like a school principal when she did. 

She went to where Clint was in a hostage standoff.  Which was making her husband fairly unhappy but yay!  She strolled past the officers, one staring at her in horror.  She smiled.  "They asked."  She walked in and saw the gun pointing at the doorway.  "Really?"  His hand wavered.  She blasted the whole room with magic.  She smiled.  "You really should not have what's mine hostage.  I do get a bit pissy about it."  Clint started to laugh.  "I do."  She smiled at him and looked at the other two.  "Did I knock out one of your people as well?"  They nodded.  "Cool."  She smiled.  "Dear?"

"It's solved.  No more stand-off," Clint agreed, taking a kiss.  He smiled at her.  "Efficient."

"I just had Pepper's parents questioning me about her relationship," she said quietly.

"No wonder I felt stress.  You were trying not to yell."

"A lot.  MB's mom is in Tower B demanding Stark.  Are you done?"

"I am."  They turned to look at the officers coming in.  "They're just knocked out."

"At least one of those was an officer," the head officer said firmly but calmly.

"Did they identify themselves to me?" Dawn asked.  He slumped and shook his head.  "I have no idea why those two didn't fall down.  The only one I wouldn't have knocked cold was my husband, anyone unarmed, or a child.  If they didn't say 'I'm an officer' or something like that, how was I to know?"

"I suppose that's reasonable.  We did have it handled, Miss."

She smiled.  "Clearly but I need this Avenger to go save another one from a cracked parent who claims Stark is running a cult."

"That's where I've seen you before," the officer in the back muttered.  She grinned and waved.  "Is this a SHIELD operation?"

"No, I was having lunch," Clint told them.  "They decided to start shit."  He found his bow and quiver, smiling at them.  "It wasn't our intention to have to handle something.  I only wanted a burger with an old friend."

She smiled at him.  "Why don't you go talk to him since I'm sure he's been watching and looking amused this whole time?"

"I can do that once you're back at the office."

"Have him meet you at the tower for lunch?"

"I can do that."  He walked her off.  "Thanks for keeping everyone else out of it, guys.  I saw that kid that wanted to interrupt.  At least I trained this one in case we needed her to back us up."  He put a ten on the bar for his aborted lunch and walked her out with a hand on her lower back.  "You had to pull out that dress?" he complained.  "You look really tough in it, Dawn."

She grinned.  "I am really tough, Clint.  That's why I spar against you."

"Good point."  He spotted his friend and smiled, texting him as they got into a waiting cab.  "Thanks.  Tower B of Stark."  The cabby nodded, taking them there.  He kept glancing back at them.  He looked at Dawn.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  I don't mind being a distraction.  I make a pretty darn good one."

"Yeah, you do."  He took a kiss and winked at her.  "Twins?"

"With Callia, cooing over Liz.  Apparently Mom never got my text last night."

"Ow.  You okay?"

"Bruce was a bit upset.  I've got to see who's interrupting my phone."

"We can find out pretty easily."  He gave her a squeeze, getting a smile back.  They got back to the tower and he walked in there.  MB's mother was throwing an absolute fit.  He shot a sedative dart at her.  The guards with her glared but then did a double-take.

Dawn smiled at them.  "Take your mentally deficient friend there out of our tower.  There is a restraining order from all Stark properties since somehow she managed to make or find some ricin and sent it to not only her pregnant daughter but also Stark.  You have about a minute before I have her arrested."  They carried her off.  "I would suggest she not come back," she said firmly.

"You're not so hot without a man behind you," one sneered.

Dawn laughed.  "He's here to keep me from killing or changing your ass into something," she said bluntly.  "You should probably thank him since I kept turning agents into mice."

"I don't really like mice," Clint said, considering it.  "Or yappy dogs.  What about hedgehogs?"

"They're cute," she said with a grin.  The huffy people left.  She smiled and waved at their backs.  Then she glared at the security team.  "We're going to have a meeting."  Tony strolled in with a new cup of speciality coffee.  "Hey, boss, two stand-offs stopped."

He nodded.  "I just heard about the other one.  Nice work."  She smiled.  "You needed a meeting with security?"

"Yes, because they should've thrown her out over an hour ago."

"Good point," he admitted, looking at them.  "That meeting's with me, not her."  He looked at her.  "JARVIS was ranting."

"I nearly threw one myself," she said quietly, moving closer to hiss in his ear.

He nodded.  "He showed me.  You handled that well."  He stared at her.  "They're a bit uptight."

"I noticed that."  She grimaced.  "Anyway, let Clint have his nice lunch with his old friend while I go back to relieve Andrew."  He laughed.  "I have no idea why but he came up to answer my phone for me."  She got a cookie and strolled off nibbling it.

"Is that a pregnancy craving?" a reporter shouted from the doorway.

Dawn looked at her.  "No, sometimes I like cookies.  For that matter, do I look pregnant enough to be having cravings?  Because if so, I'm not wearing this dress again."  The reporter pouted.  "You guys need to get off the subject of my bedroom.  Really.  Before I start to lose my temper over that.  Because if you think the Hulk can destroy things?"  The reporter blanched and nodded quickly.  "Thanks."  She smiled.  "Don't want to have PMS this week but apparently it's going to be a winner for everyone."  The reporter stomped off.  She went back to her desk, no matter how much Stark was laughing.  Andrew was laughing.  "Seriously?  I know it'd be the first acknowledged Avengers baby, but *really*!"

He cackled, nodding.  "Probably, yeah."  He let her have her chair.  "I think that dress makes you look skinny.  You need more cookies, not less."

"Yeah, I just used a shitload of magic."  He nodded he understood that.  Pepper came off the elevator.  "Hi, boss."

"Dawn."  She hugged her.  "Thank you for helping my parents," she whispered.

"Not a problem."  She smiled.  "Stark's over in the other tower."

"That's fine."  She went into her office.  "I'm taking a break.   Liz is awake and babbling at the twins."

"I figured they were helping Callia."

"They are."  She smiled, turning on the news.  "Dawn, no more PMS on the reporters," she called a minute later.

"Sorry.  Let me put up a public apology on my lj."  She did that and then got back to her real job of handling things.  Maria sent over a notice that she was off the hook for anything that happened due to the magical sedating to save Clint.  She sent back a 'thank you' and finished the meeting's minutes for tomorrow.  She handed them to Pepper and then went on lab rounds.

Pepper smiled at her back.  Dawn was so adorable sometimes.


Clint smiled at his friend when he showed up for coffee.  "Hey."  He handed him money so he could get his own.  He'd never hand another assassin food.  They'd never trust it.

"Thanks."  He got his own and they sat down in a corner table away from everyone but a kid that was staring at Clint in awe.  Clint grinned and the kid turned back around to babble at his mother loudly about how the *Avenger* grinned at him.  He looked at Clint.  "Saw Claudia."

"That's a bad way to start off a conversation," he said, sipping his coffee.  "Should I have asked for a shot of liquor for the coffee?"

"Maybe.  She does not like your wives."

"Pity but she was a bitch," he said quietly.  "I have no idea why I dated her outside of that mission."

"She's really hating your pretty, perky wife."

Clint nodded.  "How much?"

"Half a mil."

"Seriously?  Do they think she'd pay it?"

"Yup.  She put it into an account."  Clint stared at him, putting down the coffee.  His friend nodded with a grin.  "I have no idea why."

"I do.  They met in Peru.  She tried to have Dawn attacked then, and Dawn got injured, but as we found out later Dawn had protected herself against two really tough, huge guys."

"So that's what happened to her brothers."

"Yeah."  He sipped his coffee, sending a thought at Dawn and Natasha about that.  "I'll let them know."


Dawn texted him.  He read it and smiled.  "Dawn said if she came here she was going to rip out her extensions by the handful because any woman who had as many fake parts as Claudia had was clearly pathetic."

"She had those when you two dated."

"She did.  She bragged she got them all for her eighteenth.  She was twenty-two and I was twenty-five though."  He finished his coffee then grinned.  "Any other happy news?"

"A lot of us are really happy for you guys.  Even though we heard rumors of Widow having issues?"

"Few.  We're working on them.  But thanks.  We're mostly happy most of the time.  Though I could do without reporters."  He glared at the one staring at them through the window.  They ran off.  "They're like flies."

"They're like roaches, Barton."

"Sometimes, yeah."  That got a smirk and Clint grinned back.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  Need any help?"

"With Claudia?  I might ask.  Not sure how that's going to play out."

"She's pissing off a lot of people.  She accepted two offers and then didn't follow through.  Claims she's having a bad pregnancy."

"It's not mine."

"No, it's Randal's."

"The wannabe?"

"Yeah.  The wannabe *you*," he agreed.

"Shit!"  He snorted and shook his head.  "He'd never make it as me."  They shared a smirk and his friend got up to head off.  Clint went upstairs to beat a punching bag.

Bruce looked over from reading on his tablet.  "Bad news?"

"My ex sent out a contract to snipe Dawn."

"Excuse us?" Steve asked politely.  "Who?"

Clint looked at him.  "She tried to have Dawn beaten before and Dawn, who was out by herself, did manage to beat the crap out of her two younger brothers.  Both dead now thanks to the injuries and one due to other problems.  Claudia put out money to have her killed.  Dawn said she'd rip out all her fake parts."

"Is this a youthful crush that got psychological?" Bruce asked.

"No, she was twenty-one when we met on an assignment.  I was twenty-four.  Nat had just dumped me for the first time.  She was my rebound and she was pretty, slightly exciting, and wanted in the life.  She was being trained by a friend of Nat's.  She thought she'd be good enough to seduce and hit but she wasn't."

"Related back to that academy?" Stark said, tapping into his phone.

"The present  headmistresses' niece but by tradition family doesn't go there," Clint said.  "The family usually goes to the one in London.  I thought about taking a few classes there but they didn't have much they could teach me that Nat didn't or that I hadn't learned in the circus."  He laid a few more punches on the bag.  "I think most of us have an ex like her."

"No comment but mine taught me to make bombs," Tony quipped with a grin for him.  "Very nice, compact ones."

"Seriously?" Bruce asked.

"Yeah.  That's how I learned to work with atomic bombs.  Not like my father taught me."  He smirked.  "We still talk.  She's not doing research.  She's beating the future generation into giving up science by being bitchy to them.  She taunted me for months.  I think that was my longest dry spell on record."  He shook his head quickly.  Clint was laughing.  "Any other psychotic ex's, Barton?"

"Nope.  Not that I'm aware of."  He wouldn't mention the one sitting across the room because he wasn't sure if they were done or not.  Right now, he was verging on really beating her ass though.

"I only have two ex-girlfriends and neither one are what I'd consider bad ones," Bruce said.  "Joyce seemed to think they were both really nice when we ran into them at a scientific event."  Tony gave him an odd look.  He smiled.  "I didn't serial date like you did, Tony.  I had mine weeded out by my work."

"I had more than a few who might want to gut Pepper and Steve but they'd never try it.  They know they couldn't."

"Yeah, I took out two of yours over the years," Clint admitted.  "What losers."

"Hey," Tony complained but he was smiling.  "Was Diedre one?"

"Yup.  And Helen."

"Huh.  She was pretty but toxic."

"She married a guy making toxic makeup," Clint said.  "Tried to start selling it."

"I remember that being reported and that they got blown up in a car crash," Bruce joked.  Clint just grinned at him.  "I don't need to know."

"Probably true," he agreed.

"Don't teach Dawn to do that," Stark ordered.

"Too late.  She learned from the manuals at Xander's."  He smirked slightly.  "She does do dangerous *very* well when she wants to."

"Eww, that's my stepdaughter," Bruce complained.

"I see her like a little sister but I'd like to see less dangerous Dawn than more dangerous Dawn," Tony quipped.  "Please?"

"I try, Stark."

"Thanks."  They shared a look and Tony rolled his eyes.  "Cap, aren't we sparring?" he called.

"Yeah."  He came out of where he was talking to someone.  "Did you want to go talk to Pepper's parents?"

"No, they still think I'm a using leech."

"Who forced their daughter into our thing," Steve said quietly next to him as he walked past him.

"Yeah, I heard.  JARVIS was throwing an absolute fit over them asking Dawn that.  She handled it well."  He smirked evilly.  "We'll talk after dinner."  He looked at Barton.  "I saw your cat."

"You did?  I wondered where he was hiding this morning."

"I dropped him at the apartment for you," Steve said.

"Thanks.  Loki's a little bitch at times but we'd miss him waking us up in the middle of the night by washing our hair for us."  He walked over to the ring, stretching some.  "C'mon, Steve."

"Why don't you and Natasha spar?" Steve suggested.

"Um.  No.  Not ready for that yet.  Thanks though."  He gave him a dirty look.  Tony snorted and walked off shaking his head.  "You're not exempt, Stark."

"I'm getting some water and making sure we have ice packs."  He came back sipping some water.  "Okay."  He got in the ring with them.  Clint was doing good upping his hand-to-hand but Natasha would probably be better.  He'd try to kill her though so it wasn't going to be today.  They got to work on his skills then Clint and Steve sparred.  Natasha came over and joined them.  Steve let her have it.

Clint stared at her.  "You sure you want to do this today?"

"I think we should."

"I think I'm still thinking back to Berlin," he said.

"I realize that."

"Okay."  She attacked, because he usually wouldn't attack first when he sparred with her.  If it was a real fight, yes.  Sparring, no.  Though he wasn't holding back today.  He needed to work off this bad mood anyway and she was a good cure for it.  He managed to get in a pretty hard punch, making her gasp but he shrugged.  "You wanted to spar."

She nodded.  "I did."  She attacked harder.

"Bitch," he muttered at one strike to his ribs but he got her back for it.  He opened himself to her, trying to gauge her mood.  She wasn't using this to apologize, to try to prove to herself she could still do this, any of that.  She was feeling a bit miserable.  Dawn, well she was still in a rage.  "Hey, Cap?" he called.  "Go get Dawn to spar with her?"

"I can do that."  He went to find her.  She was at her desk and he nodded.  "Sparring, Summers."

"I have this one report I have to finish and then I'm all yours," she said quietly.  She finished and saved it, then printed it.  Since they still had some strange computer issues now and then.  She looked up.  "JARVIS, can you please find whoever's hacking you and my phone so I can destroy them?"

"I have been looking but I believe it's an agent."

"Thanks.  Let us know."  She looked at him.  Then forwarded her phone to her cell.  "Sheila, sparring time."

"Okay," the outer assistant said.

She followed him over to the Avengers only area and changed into something she could spar in.  She stretched and watched her spouses go at it.  Clint was working off his anger.  Dawn really needed that effect.  Clint shot her a look and a slight grin.  She grinned back and let Steve start.  He might be sore.  She'd judge it by his first swing.  He wasn't tired seeming so it was on.  Maybe she wouldn't hold back today.

Steve blinked and nodded.  "You waited too long," he complained quietly.

"No, I've had it under good control recently.  Until about two days ago. Then I was in that same state that got me sedated and sent to Atlantis."

"You sent yourself there," he reminded her.

"I did."  She took a pretty swing and he ducked but that had been the diversion for her kick.  He winced.  "Want me to take it easy on you?"

"No.  I can handle it."

She snorted.  "Not totally.  I'm not using spells against you."  He blinked a few times.  She smiled.  "Had to learn.  It comes in handy when you're beating the ass of people who want to keep and own you."

The alarm started to go off and Dawn pulled up her phone.  "What's happened where?" she demanded.  They told her.  "Boss, outside on our doorstep is a major issue."

"Going," he agreed, moving to his armor he kept over here.  Same suit design but a backup.  The others got into their gear and headed out, Clint pausing to kiss her.  "I'm not going to ask for one of those," Tony quipped.

"We'd beat you to death if you did," Steve joked before pulling on his cowl and going down with Clint.  Right outside was a ship hovering and letting off robots.  "Why didn't we get told about this when they started to hover?" he demanded.

"I'm having a word with security later anyway," Stark promised, firing on the ship.  "You guys get the robots."  The ship tried to move away but he was making it land one way or another.  It turned out to have a robotic pilot too.  They got everything down and killed.  Stark decided to let the robot pilot take them back to their lair.  Dawn handed over a few things.  Like spare ammo and arrows, and a first aid kit.  Clint winked as they loaded and headed off.  It wasn't comfortable.  There were racks for the robots to be hung from.  Clint ended up on top of one.  Tony between two.  Steve flipped up to sit on one of the racks after an hour or so of standing.  Natasha was in a corner examining the plane's cockpit area.  Bruce was calm but not happy.

Dawn went back inside and found the head of security.  She grabbed him by the ear and walked him off.  "Let's talk about when you're supposed to warn us there's a problem."  He had to follow, his ear wasn't going to be let go of anytime soon.  The other guards who had been there longer winced.  Dawn was usually really nice.  Today... not so much.


Pepper came off the elevator, looking at the guy that Dawn was yelling at.  Then at Dawn.  "What happened?"

"They decided to alert us to that robot problem almost forty minutes after it started," Dawn said.

Pepper nodded, looking at him.  "That's so far outside your protocol."

"We didn't think it was a problem."

"It was offloading robots," Pepper said.  "How was that not a problem?"  He huffed.  "You know what?  Have a nice day somewhere else."  He stomped off.  She looked at Dawn.  "At least you didn't scream at him," she said dryly.

"If I could've fired him I would've done it twenty minutes ago.  My throat's sore."  She frowned.  "We've had tons of shit since he got hired."

"We have."

"We have someone tapping my cellphone and our computers."

"We do," Pepper agreed.  "I have no idea who."

"I have finally figured out where they're coming from," JARVIS said.  "Though I have no idea how to stop it."

Dawn looked up.  "I can go stop it."

"No you cannot," Pepper ordered.  "Who, JARVIS?"  He put up a diagram and highlighted an office.  "Is that Langley?"

"Yes and that's Peter's office," Dawn said dryly.  "Great!"  She tapped out a message to Stark and huffed.  "I'm getting coffee."  She walked off, fluffing out her hair.  Really, these were trying times.  A few people stared in awe.  "I was sparring when the robots showed up.  Leave the clothes alone."  She got her coffee and one for Pepper, bringing it back for her.  She sat down at her desk and composed a nice email to him.  If it wasn't him and they were just using his system, he'd fix it.  If it was him and he was doing it, she was going to kill him.  Even if he was still sending her nice letters about how pretty and smart she was.

Pepper sipped her regular coffee, shaking her head.  Liz was back in the office with her.  They had a machine for her to be hooked up to whenever she napped.  It'd be okay.


Dawn looked up from her stirring and reading when the door opened.  "Shh," she said quietly.  Clint and Natasha both nodded and slipped in, shutting the door gently.  Dawn went back to stirring the cheese cream sauce.  It was nearly done.  When it was thick enough she poured it into a set of jars.  One went into the fridge.  The other went on the table.  She put down two plates and they smiled at her for it.  "I knew you'd be hungry."  She strolled off.  "Kids are in bed."

"You can stay and eat with us," Natasha offered.  "So we can talk."

Dawn looked at her.  "I'm exhausted.  It's two in the morning."  Natasha slumped but nodded.  "I'll talk tomorrow.  Okay?"  She climbed back into bed, letting the cat curl up with her.

Clint looked at dinner and frowned.  "She got up to cook for us."

"She has in the past," Natasha admitted.  She tasted the sauce and nodded.  "She did good."  It got poured over the vegetables and steak.  Clint got his own and it was nice.  Calm, peaceful.  "I am sorry," she said quietly.

"I know."  He looked at her.  "I might forgive you."

She nodded she knew Dawn was going to be the harder one to convince she hadn't meant to slip that way.  She dug in.  It was a good meal.  Soothing.  Their post-battle stress was slowly being leeched away.  She yawned, almost surprising herself.  "I'll go to bed."  She put her dishes in the sink and went upstairs.  The bed still smelled like all three of them.  It was comforting but also a torment to remind her of what she had screwed up.

Clint finished up and went to bed, thinking hard to himself.  He wasn't the sort to let hurts linger and Dawn was.  So maybe he would have to find a way to stop being stuck in the middle.  He understood that need to get away from something and find something totally different.  Dawn...she had been raised by nice people.  Well, mostly.  He wasn't going to count Stark as too damn nice.  He smiled at the picture of Dawn and the cat, sliding into bed on the cat's other side.  He got a dirty look from the cat and a meow of greeting then Loki shifted so he could have the warm spot and Loki got his usual one in Clint's hair.


Dawn walked into the office, blinking at the people in there.  When had they gotten there?  She looked at Pepper, who smiled at her.  She handed over the mail.  "Two, one from the attorney."  She left.

Pepper looked at them and frowned.  "What does he want?"  She put it aside and went back to the meeting.

Tony walked past Dawn's desk.  "Aren't you two going on vacation next week?"

"I...  Humm."  She looked.  "We are."

He stared at her.  "Since when did you become the absent minded one?"

"Since about three this morning."

"Oh.  Big problem?  Phone calls?  Nightmares?"

"Don't ask," she muttered.  Then rubbed her forehead.  "I have no idea."

"Okay.  If you want to talk...."

"Yeah, I know."  Tony smiled and let her handle it.  She was clearly exhausted but handling most things all right.  At least until he came out and found her unconscious at her desk.  He checked her pulse, which would've normally woken her up.  Nothing unusual.  He dialed the infirmary.  "Come check Dawn."  She came off the next elevator.  "Checked her pulse and she didn't even flinch."

"Great."  She checked her over, shaking her head.  "This isn't a sedative."  They got her to the infirmary before anyone else could realize what was going on.  The bloodwork was a bit telling.  "She doesn't take painkillers."

"No, she doesn't," Tony said.  "Hardly ever.  What is it?"

"Looks like opanas?"

"She'd never take something that strong."  Doc gave her a shot of something to counteract it.  "JARVIS, how did she get that?"

"I believe someone in the shop across the street accidentally hid their drugs in with the coffee beans, sir."

"Great.  Who?"

"I've already alerted the authorities when I saw how that came up and the video surveillance.  Shall I show the manager?"

"Was she the only one hit?" Doc asked.

"Yes.  I believe so."  He cleared his throat in the coffee shop.  "May I have your attention please?  The coffee grinder has just went down for necessary repairs.  It will be about ten minutes before it can be cleaned as a blade just snapped."  The waiting people moaned but they accepted it.  The manager was a bit freaked out but JARVIS was flashing a video for her.  She went to check it and found the pills.  "We believe only one person got hurt by it," he said quietly.

"Who?"  He ran the video back and she nodded.  "Paul!"  He came over then his eyes went wide.  "How many did you have stored in here?" she demanded in a hiss.


She counted.  Ten missing pills.

"That's like a whole paycheck's worth," he complained.

"Don't make me kill you."  She checked the current ground coffee, finding white flecks.  "Are you sure?" she asked the video.

"As far as I can tell, unless you've ground a batch since Dawn was in here."

"No, this was the first batch since then."  She tipped the grounds into a container and the beans as well.  Paul was still complaining.  "Peg, take him into the office and keep him there."  Paul tried to run but nope.  She got the grinder cleaned up thoroughly, washed all the parts she could by hand in hot, soapy water, and then restarted it with fresh beans.  She'd have to call her head office.  She smiled at the people as she came out of the back. 

"It looks like a blade slipped.  We've since cleaned it up, cleared the grounds, and we're making everything fresh just in case there might be a metal shaving.  That was the first batch we'd ground since earlier."  She poured out the few that were waiting.  The crowd smiled.  Her assistants were smiling.  She noticed the officer.  "The one who wanted to report on her friend is in my office, Officer."  He nodded, going where she pointed.  "Domestics," she told the crowd watching.  A few nodded they understood that.

Paul started to scream and rant so she went back there to have them quiet him down.  The assistant manager was already gagging him.  "We don't need people to hear you did that stupid shit," the assistant manager told her.  "So shut up."

"Anyone get affected?" the officer asked.

"The AI that runs the tower said that someone was in the infirmary in the main tower," the manager said with a point.  "We had to grind hers specially because she needed some lower acid coffee.  I have no idea why he thought putting them in the grinder's basket was a good idea."

"I was going to shave them later," Paul said, starting to pout.

She smacked him on the side of the head.  "Did you not think that we use that grinder every hour or so?"  He slumped down.  "Please be discreet, Officers."

"We can do that."  They took him out the maintenance exit.  One had the evidence bag.

The managers went back out front to finish any PR that might need to be spun.


Stark walked over to where Clint was taking bow practice.  "Can you handle the twins tonight?"

"Of course.  Why?"  He looked at him.  "Are you sending Dawn to Malibu to handle something?"

"No, we're keeping Dawn in the infirmary tonight."  Clint stiffened and stared at him.  "Some kid in the coffee shop put his drugs in the grinder."

"How fucking dumb was he?" Clint demanded.  "What was it?"


"That's the new morphine derivative, right?"



"She's woken up once, has a huge hangover and the shakes.  Doc said she's staying tonight."

"Definitely.  Yeah, I can handle the twins.  They're not a problem and they're good kids."

"Thanks."  He walked off.

"Doc allowing her visitors?"

"Dawn said no one's allowed to see her like this."

"Uh-huh."  He finished up his practice time and went to check on her.  Dawn was sealed inside a little cubby off to the side but he could pick locks and tape and could make her release the magic.  She did look rough.  He kissed her.  "You okay?"

"I'm good.  I didn't want anyone to see me this way though."

"We'd only worry a tiny bit."  He took another kiss.  "I've got the kids tonight."  He winked and she smiled weakly.  "Rest.  It'll help."  She nodded, letting him tuck her in.  "I'll be back in the morning.  What did you want to wear?"

"My black dress?  It'll make me look less pale."

"I can do that."  He stroked over her hair.  "The shakes last for a few hours."  She nodded.  "Try to sleep through it."  He left, letting her seal herself back in there.  He looked at the nurse.

"We'd call."

"Thank you."  He went home, going to fuss over the twins for a bit.  They were worried but he gave them a nice cover story about them not getting sick from her.

They did not need to know about this stuff.


Natasha limped into the infirmary and took the advil packet the nurse held up.  "Thank you."

"Welcome, Agent Romanoff."  She smiled.  "Dawn's fine."

"Dawn's in here?  Did we know this?"

"Well, no.  She said not to tell anyone but Agent Barton already checked on her."

Natasha swallowed the pills.  "What happened?"

"Some kid across the street at the coffee shop hid his drugs in the grinder, which got used for Dawn's low-acid coffee."  She sighed.  "She's fine though."

Natasha winced.  "What sort?"


"She doesn't take those."  She limped over to the closed off area.  Dawn would be hiding.  She couldn't get in.  "Dawn?"

"She's sleeping," the nurse said.  "She needs it."

"There are things to help the coming down ease," Natasha said.

"Doc said no."

"Fine."  She finally managed to get into the tiny area and watched Dawn, who was curled up in a ball on the bed.  She did that when she slept alone.  They weren't sure if it was protecting herself or for warmth.  She ran a hand up Dawn's arm, waking her.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine.  Not happy but fine."  She blinked hard and went back to sleep.

Natasha sighed, frowning at her.  That wasn't normal Dawn behavior but it could have been due to the drugs.  She settled in to watch over her.  Dawn needed someone to watch over her.  Before things happened again.

"I'm fine," Dawn muttered again.

"I know you are.  I'll still watch over you."

Dawn blinked at her.  "Why?"

"Because you need me to."

Dawn blinked a few times.  "Natasha, I don't need a bodyguard.  I need my wife back.  Bit of a difference to be blunt."

Natasha nodded.  "I know.  I'm more than willing to talk, Dawn."

"Not my fault you guys didn't get home until two."

"No, it wasn't."  She frowned some.  "You're angrier than Clint."

"That's because this is the biggest wrong thing you could do to us beyond beating me."  Natasha slumped.  "Maybe this is being raised normally, which I know you weren't for the most part.  Maybe I'm hyper sensitive to it thanks to Mom and what hell she went through.  But the hierarchy of wrong is:  beating your spouse, cheating on your spouse, raping your spouse, which may be a tie for second place, and then the lesser wrongs."

"I can see how it has affected you."

Dawn looked at her.  "And yet I'm still wondering if this is my fault."  She got up and looked at her.  "We still have to have a *real* serious discussion before I'm letting you anywhere near me.  Because, yeah, I used to trust you."  Natasha blinked.  "I may still trust you in the field, not real sure.  Because if I can't trust you at home, what makes me think you won't suddenly snap there too?"

"I would not."

Dawn sighed and pulled up footage through JARVIS.  She pointed.  "Where should you have been?  Where did Cap ask you to be?"  Natasha watched their last battle, going a bit pale.  She hadn't been where she was supposed to be.  She slumped and nodded.  "I'm not chewing you a new one, but this may be a bit deeper than whatever made you feel smothered."

"I was not feeling smothered."

"If you weren't, you wouldn't have run away," Dawn said bluntly.  She canceled the video.  "We seriously need to talk.  I'm not in any shape for it.  You're clearly exhausted.  Go home.  Go to bed.  We'll talk tomorrow since I have a light morning."  She nodded and left her to lay back down.  Dawn moaned and flopped backward.  "This shit sucks.  I hate this," she muttered.  "I'm never having another fight again."

Natasha had heard that and she agreed.  She didn't want to fight over things.  It did ruin what they had.  She went home, finding Clint on the couch.  She sat across from him.  "I failed earlier."

"No, you got distracted earlier."  He looked at her instead of the news.  "It was covered."

"She showed me.  I was not aware I was that far off target."

He nodded.  "So you need to get your head on straight.  How's she doing?"

"You didn't tell me."

"She didn't tell me.  Stark told me.  She didn't want us to see her being laid so low for a few hours."

"She never does."  She leaned on her knees, looking around.  "Bed?"  He nodded.  "Now what?"

"She has some time off coming up.  Not sure when but I know it's scheduled.  She has an appointment right afterward."

"They might not stay in the city."

"We can all go to wherever.  Not like we can't travel since there's no current missions."

"Perhaps we should let her go and then talk when she gets back."

"If we do, it'll fester," he said.  "Dawn's blaming herself, Nat."

"She said that.  I have no idea why.  I wasn't feeling smothered."

"Yeah, you were.  Or else you would've snapped in another way."  He went back to watching the news.  "Go nap.  You look like hell."

"I'd rather we work this out between us.  I can't let this infect the team."

He snorted.  "Fury isn't blaming you."

"He called?"


"He tried to say it was your fault?"

"Yup, even after hearing the rumors."

"Jackass," she said in Russian.

"Yeah, I pointed that out too.  As I hung up on him I heard Joyce smack him pretty good too.  Or Hill, one of the two.  Clearly a woman by how loud it was."  She smiled slightly.  He looked at her again.  "We'll talk tomorrow, when she's out and back at her desk."

"I can do that."  She stood up.  "Are you sure?"

"I'm tired, you're tired.  It's not time for this talk yet."  She nodded, going up to her room.  He settled in on the couch, grimacing.  He hated this fight.  It needed to be over with.  Today.  He heard the twins moving and went to check on them.  They were cuddled up together.  "It's all right, girls.  Even if we're having an argument it has nothing to do with you two."

"Are you sure?" Diana asked quietly.

"Yeah, I'm sure."  He came in and sat on the foot of the bed.  He wasn't used to these sort of talks.  He'd never been part of one before.  "It was Nat's doing and Nat did something really stupid.  Now we're all trying to heal."

"Did she do what that guy in the village did to his wife?  You never saw her outside of a few hours in the market and then she wouldn't look at anyone," Artemis said.  "I always felt so sorry for her but Mom wouldn't let us help when she beat her husband up."

"No, nothing like that.  We'd never hit your aunt.  If we even thought about hitting your aunt, I'd expect and accept your aunt killing our asses."  They smiled at him for it.  "I'd never let that happen.  No, this is something else.  Bad but not that bad."  They nodded.  "We're working it out.  It's just going to be a few touchy weeks between the three of us.  None of that affects you guys beyond the pain of having to watch it now and then."  He patted Diana on the foot.  "Go to sleep.  It's fine."

"Where is auntie?" Artemis asked.

"She's a bit sick tonight and you guys don't have the same sort of immune system that kids raised here got.  You haven't been exposed to the flu and colds and stuff.  So she didn't want you to get sick."

Artemis stared at him.  "As Callia says, lies feel tingly in our heads."

He grimaced.  "Fine.  One of the guys across the street accidentally got his drugs mixed into her coffee because he stored them in the wrong spot."  They groaned.  "So she's sleeping it off under Doc's watching."

"Is she all right?" Diana demanded.

"She's fine.  Been awake and all that.  She just needs to nap it off somewhere someone can watch over her if she starts to have problems.  They're pretty rare but happen."

"We'll hug her tomorrow," Diana promised.

"She'd like that."  They grinned.  "Go to sleep you two.  I don't care if you two curl up together.  You're twins and the two upstairs do that sometimes too."  He got up.  "Happy dreams."

"You too," Artemis said quietly.  He went to his own room and they snuggled in.  Auntie was usually so happy with them but even their parents had fought sometimes.


Clint groaned when his phone went off at six am.  He found it and opened it.  "What?" he demanded.  "Because you woke me the fuck up, Hill.  What did you expect?  Sunshine and kittens coming out of my ass?"  He listened.  "Fine.  All of us?  Even better."  He hung up and groaned, getting up and making himself go take a shower.  It had been a short night.  Dawn kept nightmares away better than the cat did.  Though he had tried and woken Clint each time he had tried to comfort him.

This was going to suck.  He could nap on the way there he guessed.  He heard Nat upstairs and smirked.  She didn't sound happy either by the way the pipes were ringing with swearing.  He came out to get dressed, finding the twins up and making cereal.  "Make me some?"  They smiled and handed him a bowl. 

"My phone wake you two?"  They smiled and nodded.  "That's fine.  Camp with Callia for the day, girls."  He dug in and they ate their own cereal.  He took them to the tower since that's where they assembled.  They got handed to Pepper, who was hugging Steve and then Stark.  "Let's do this," he noted.  Natasha came walking in.

"You two look well rested," Stark said sarcastically.

"You'd better hope it's a smooth ride and we have another pilot," Clint shot back.

"We do.  Rhodey's going with us.  It's a joint thing and we're rescuing a commando team that had the misfortune to run into HYDRA."  Natasha groaned.  "Sorry, kids."

"I'm older than you.  Watch me paddle you," Natasha warned.

He smirked.  "Kinky but you're not mine."  He got onto the plane with a wink back at Pepper, who smiled.  "Have fun without us."

"We'll be going on Saturday."

"I know."  They loaded and settled in to nap.  Rhodey had been up a few hours so they'd let Clint and Natasha sleep until they were well rested and could take over.  The door closed and they took off.


Dawn woke up really early Saturday, at four in the morning.  She got the girls up, smiling at their crankiness.  "We have to leave early to catch our flight."  They had been told about the vacation and were excited but it was much too early for them.  Dawn made sure all their bags were ready by the door, they had all the papers they needed.  The girls were actually wearing clothes and so was she.  Their hired car called and she got them down to it with the bags.  She made one last check, made sure the cat was still with Tara and Maria, then got into the car. 

The driver pulled off, the twins were already asleep.  So it was good.  Even if the airport screeners were going to be bastards and try to pat them down while Dawn growled.  And wrote a complaint online and to the people over the airport, the TSA, and a few senators.  She nearly snapped one's arm.  "Do not touch my twelve-year-old niece's crotch again," she warned.  The screener backed off slowly and carefully.  "Thank you!"  She walked them off.  "C'mon, girls.  The pedophile patrol is done."

"Yes, Auntie," they agreed.

Dawn ran into a regular security guard, who was scowling.  "What?" she demanded.

"The screeners wanted us to watch you."

"The screener was having a bit too much fun with my underage niece," she said bluntly.  "They may look sixteen but they're twelve and I doubt she needed to finger her that way.  If you don't like it, fuck you too."  The guard backed down.  Dawn looked up and pulled in her glow.  "Thankfully we can usually fly private."  She walked the girls and their bags off.  Pepper was waiting on them.  "I'm so suing this airport, the TSA, and the screener who decided she needed to learn what fingering was."

Pepper winced.  "I heard you shouting."

"I'm about to lose my temper," Dawn agreed.

Pepper looked at her.  "If I could've I would've taken the Stark plane."

"I know.  Not your fault it's in for refurbishing the engine."  She glared at the guard watching them.  Then she smiled.  "You know, since you guys don't screen for magically hidden objects, how effective are they really?  I know I'm not carrying anything but....  Hell, I've felt someone's hidden familiar already today."  He ran off to report that.  She smiled at Pepper.  "It is a flaw."

"So is your temper," Pepper said with a smile.

"Well, yeah, but that's why we're going on vacation, right?"

"Part of it."  She smiled at the twins.  "She's very grumpy when you get her up this early."

"Us too," Artemis said.  She looked at her blushing sister.  "Are you okay?"

"Very uncomfortable."

Dawn looked at her.  "Remember the talk about bad touches?  That was one."  She nodded she agreed.  "If a boy does that and you don't want him to, kick his ass."

"I will be."

"Me too," Artemis agreed.  "No one should touch us there."  Someone came stomping over and Dawn glared.  "Who's he, Auntie?"

"Some suit.  Who probably wants to piss me off further."  She stared until he backed away slowly and carefully.  "If it's your employee that groped my twelve-year-old niece, we should have a talk.  I didn't like having the 'bad touch' talk with her again."

"He touched me in places I don't even use a washcloth on," Diana agreed.

The suit laughed nervously.  "We'll check the security tape of that, ma'am."

"It's going online like those perverts on youtube?" Diana demanded, looking at her aunt.

"Not if they know what's good for them," Pepper assured her.  "It's not supposed to but every agency and company is made up of individuals who have free will and sometimes stupid ideas or problems."  She glared at the suit.  "I'm quite glad we don't have that problem at Stark."

"I'd kill our guards if they tried to grope a child," Dawn assured her.

"You work with Stark International?" the suit asked.

Dawn smiled and nodded.  "Yes, we do.  We're in the administration actually.  We do the paperwork that runs the company and I'm the assistant in charge of all of it."

He laughed nervously.  "Then I'd like to apologize for that screener.  You noted magically hidden things?"  Dawn nodded.  "You... you're *that* one, aren't you?" he hissed.

"Ya think?" she asked dryly.  "And yes, your screening process doesn't catch anything magical at all.  I've already seen one hidden familiar."

"How would we fix that loophole?"

She shrugged.  "Not my area of expertise.  Set up a meeting with Stark and the guys in lab 7 sometime soon.  He's out of the area today but he's got a few days free next week."

"I can do that.  Thank you."  He left them alone, going to yell at them.  With what she did to that castle, she could bring the airport down around their ears without harming a single person.  They did not need that!

Dawn smiled at Pepper.

"We do do all the work around the place that requires paperwork."  She smiled.  "Very subtle."

"I'm cranky, sorry."

"It happens.  I'm a bit cranky too.  I say we do get the plane to come get us on the way back."

"If not, I'll charter one," Dawn said.  Pepper grinned and nodded.

The gate attendant called for boarding.  "Trinidad and Tobago?" she asked Dawn.  "I thought Buenos Aires."

"Sure, if you really want me to get into another fight with the gang members," she said dryly.

"Well, no.  Why did we do that?"


"Never mind."  She got them up and to the gate, letting them take the tickets.  Dawn smiled and let the twins go first.  "I know it's your first flight.  We have gum for your ears and stuff in case your sinuses act up like mine usually do."  They grinned.  The twins had the seats across the aisle from them in first class while she and Pepper shared the bigger three-seat section.  The stewardess smiled at them and asked if they needed anything.  "Not yet," Dawn said.  "They might need some water in a bit.  This is their first flight and I've given them motion sickness medicine but...."

"Understood."  She smiled at the twins and went to make sure she had some chilled.  "The two blondes are first timers," she told her fellow crewmate.

"Wonderful."  She glanced out and smiled.  "They're adorable.  Models?"

"The one across from them was acting like a big sister so not sure.  I've seen her somewhere."

"Huh."  They did their first rounds of the cabin to identify any problem passengers.  There was always one heavy drinker in the group.  They had two dentists and a psychologist so it'd probably be one of them.  The group of young women and the CEO with them was polite, sleepy, and cute.  They could stand that.

"What are we doing once we get there, Auntie?" Artemis asked.

"Well, we're going to sleep the first day.  We usually do catch up on our naps."  They grinned.  "Then we're going to have dinner.  The next day we're going to hang out on the beach.  You girls can get your first tans."  They grinned.  "We've gotten you bikinis so don't worry."

"Are yours going to get your sworn at by a priest again?" Pepper quipped from behind her newspaper.

"I hope not."  She nudged her with an elbow.  "That was only in Rio, Pepper."

"They wear barely anything in Rio."

"Which I was."

"Figures."  They shared a smirk.

Dawn looked at the twins again.  "The next day we're going to take SCUBA lessons and do some diving to look at the reefs and fish."  The girls wiggled and nodded.  "Then we've got an overnight hike in the rainforest with a guide planned.  Then Pepper gets two days alone and we're going to Guatemala for the weekend."

"Why?" Pepper asked.  "I can go."

"Tony said he wants some beach time."

"Ah."  She nodded.  "That makes sense then."  She smiled and turned the page of the paper.  "Sounds exciting but not demanding."

"It is," Dawn agreed happily.  "I sent Sean an email so he wouldn't have to show up this weekend."  They grinned.  Sean nagged them *so* hard about their bodies sometimes.

Pepper put down her paper.  "How did a bikini land you in trouble with a gang?"

"I was beside the hotel pool in a bikini and someone tried to snatch my cute butt."  Pepper stared at her.  "Ransom."

"Ah.  Well, I guess we don't want to go to Argentina anyway."

"Have Tony take you."  She smiled.

"No, I think not."  She went back to reading.  The twins were giving them funny looks.  "Things like that happen to your aunt, girls.  She got taken once by a painter who wanted her to model for him."  The girls giggled.  Pepper smiled at them.  "You two are normal so don't worry about it."

"Does Grandma have to keep Liz?" Artemis pouted.

"Yup.  This year," Dawn said.  "She can't fly with her new breathing problem and Callia's a bit too young to go on the hiking trip.  She can start coming next year and Mom demand the right to watch the girls.  And Sean if he showed up."  They beamed and nodded.  "Just relax," she said when the door to the plane closed.  "Once we're in the air you two can go back to sleep."  They nodded, clutching hands when the plane started to move.  "Think of it like a metal version of a valkyrie's horse."  She handed over gum.  They settled in to chew it while the plane taxied.  They took off after a very short delay and it was good enough.  The girls settled in after spitting out their gum.  They didn't really like the stuff but it had helped.  They turned toward each other and napped.  Dawn pulled out her laptop to get a few things done on the flight.  Pepper looked at her oddly.  "Updating something so I can show off later."  She smiled.  "Once we land I'm going to put up a 'please leave us alone, we're on vacation in the Philippines' message so they get distracted."

"That might work," Pepper agreed.  "I'll have to do that too.  That way we're not stalked."

"That would be nice.  I hate reporters."  Pepper laughed and patted her on the hand.  Dawn went back to updating her course list and what her grades had been.  Pepper leaned over to look then gave her head a nudge.  "What?" she asked with an innocent grin.  "I'm due for a contract negotiation soon so I should have it all lined up for his consideration."  She smirked evilly.  "Did you see he put in a clothing budget?"

"I did and that you never use it."  She finished her newspaper and pulled out her own tablet to play some games on.  Dawn finished up and did the same thing.  It was good for them to relax.  The twins would sleep all the way to Trinidad where they had to switch planes to Tobago.


Clint and Natasha got home and found the house silent.  Again.  Not even the cat.  Clint went up to check on Tara, who had the cat and said cat was staring at the door when she opened it.  He smiled and picked up the cat, grinning at her.  "What did we miss this time?  More fleas?"

"They're on vacation.  It's their scheduled vacation."

"I didn't think it was this week," he said.  "Where?  I heard Pepper say something about Argentina but Dawn won't go back there."  Tara looked confused.  "Gang members wanted to snatch her for ransom.  She ruined a bikini taking them down."

"I don't need to know," she promised.  She smiled.  "Tobago."

"Why?" he muttered, walking off.  "Thanks, Tara."

"Welcome, Clint."  She shut the door and looked at her cat, who liked Loki.  Her fluffy, squashed face mutt of a cat seemed to shrug as she moved and laid back down.  "I know.  It means the twins will play with you some more.  Just wait until the new babies are born.  They'll love you too."  She petted her cat, sitting down to read a magazine while her twins were napping.

Clint walked into their apartment, looking at Natasha.  "They're on their scheduled vacations."

"Where this time?"


"Why?" she muttered, shaking her head.

"Not a lot of people who'll snatch Dawn or the girls."

"Good point."  She blinked a few times and looked at the cat, petting it.  It purred but didn't seem inclined to move.  "We should check on them.  Dawn does have her luck problem."

"Good point."  He called a contact down in the Bahamas.  "It's Barton.  Where's my bitch and how are she, her boss, and the twin nieces doing?"  He listened to the giddy report.  "So only one reporter?  Wow.  That's lucky.  What's going on down there?  They're going into the forest?  Why?  Dawn hates to hike.  Oh, the twins.  Yeah, they'd probably love it.  Sure.  Thanks."  He hung up and looked at his cat.  "If we could travel with you...."  The phone rang almost immediately.  "Yes?" he answered.  His ear hurt from the squeal so he put it on speaker.  "Hey, Cal."

"Hi, Unclie Clint!  Auntie's in Tobago and they sent me pretty pictures of the fish.  Did you know fish came in all sorts of colors?  And they have reefs.  The girls got to try that SCUBA stuff and I need to find lessons really soon so I can go next year.  Is Daddy back yet or is he going to help Auntie Pepper sunbathe my newest baby brother?  And Liz says hi too," she babbled.

He grinned at the phone.  "I have seen some very pretty fish.  I can actually SCUBA dive too, Callia.  I can't teach you but I can do it.  So can Natasha."

"That's so cool!" she squealed.

Natasha wiggled a finger in her ear with a wince.  "When you've taken lessons we can all go together."

"Okay!  I'd like that!  Are you guys going to help Auntie Dawn be on vacation?  She said she's going to the house by the lake in a few days."

"Maybe," Clint said.  "We just got back an hour ago."

"I can watch the Loki kitty."

"We have all yours here," Joyce said in the background.

"Loki and my kitties get along great, Granma, and you like Loki kitty anyway because he doesn't pounce you like the Tony kitty does."

"That's true, Tony has woken me up ten minutes before my alarm clock went off each and every single morning."  Clint snickered.  "Then again, most of the times he's managed to turn it off anyway."

"We might go down but Dawn might want a few days off, sprout.  We'll see," Clint said.

"No, you have to go," she ordered.

"Has someone threatened her again?" Natasha asked.  "Or the twins?"

"No," Callia said.  "But she's lonely.  That's your job to fix isn't it?"  She hung up. She looked at her grandparents.  "Sometimes her husband and wife are a bit dumb."

"That can be said of most people," Bruce said, giving her a hug.

Clint looked at Natasha then at the cat, who was staring up at him.  "Want to go to the Caribbean?"

"I'll watch the cat," Natasha said quietly.

"You sure?"

"I am.  Until we've worked out some things, it will not be restful for her."  He nodded and petted the cat then handed him over.  He stretched and crawled up to sit on Natasha's shoulder to nibble her hair.  He grinned at her and repacked then left again.  She looked at the cat, petting him.  "We will do fine."  He meowed so she fed him.  It was appreciated by their smaller inducer of chaos.  The bigger one was clearly off flaunting bikinis again.


Dawn looked around while on their hike.  Someone was following them.  Tobago didn't have any drug lords, no mercenary armies or units, nothing like a weapons dealer that she had found.  So who was following them?  She moved closer to the twins.  They grinned and hugged her but kept patting the trees and taking pictures of any flowers for Callia.  Maybe they'd bring home a few cuttings.  They liked plants and botany had said they could plant them.  Artemis asked their guide, who said the US Customs people wouldn't allow it.  They'd have to order it specially from the company.  The girls pouted but he just smiled and said pictures were enough for most people.  They babbled about the geeks and he understood why but it wasn't going to get through the screeners.

Dawn hesitated before moving on when they paused for a rest break.  Someone was still watching them and she couldn't spot them.  This was going to drive her nuts.  She felt a small tingle of thought from wherever Clint was in Europe, smiling and touching it back.  That relaxed her but someone was still watching them hike.


Clint smirked because Dawn was still cautious, still using all the skills they had taught her.  It was good to see and it was cute watching her being the big sister/aunt to the babbling twins. They all looked healthy, tanned, and relaxed.  He kept following them through the trees.  Dawn was still wary, which was good, but enjoying the woods.  She had hiked through the jungle with him more than once in Guatemala so he knew she enjoyed them even with hating to hike.  They finally broke for the night, halfway through the loop of the trail.  It was still early, not quite dark, but they set up tents, a fire pit, and settled in to eat stew. 

The place was well used.  The firepit was a permanent fixture.  The tent stakes were already in place.  They clearly expected city folk coming out to camp and hike.  There weren't too many wild animals around here, though a few snakes.  Dawn showed the girls how to make sure no snakes could get into their tents before they snuggled in for the night.  Dawn stayed up after the guide went to his own tent.  She was clearly watching for whoever she could feel watching them.  He hopped down, avoiding the thrown knife with a grin.  "Hi," he said quietly.

"I thought you were still working."  She kissed him.

"Got back earlier."  He handed back the knife.  She snuggled into his side and he let her.  "Nat's cat sitting."


"You better?"

"Yeah, I'm okay."  She smiled at him.  "It's been a great vacation.  The girls have had a lot of fun.  They adored diving and sent tons of pictures back to Callia."

"She called."  He took another kiss.  She moaned.  He smirked.  "Happy to see me?" he teased.

"Happy to have you here."  She stroked up his arm and he nodded at the tent, getting a nod back.  They curled up together under her sleeping bag.  It wasn't as comfortable but it was comforting.  He had missed sleeping on her.  She hadn't even had the cat to sleep with so it was harder for her to sleep.  But now, it was great. 

It wasn't even sexual, which was how Clint realized he had that fairytale 'happily ever after' sort of love.  He hadn't seen his wife in over a week and all he wanted was cuddles?  Yeah, that was doomed to die together true love.  She poked him on the side, getting one back and a kiss.  "I'll stalk you around tomorrow too."

"You could join us."

"I will at our house."  She smiled and nodded, snuggling in again.  He relaxed and let himself drift off.  He'd get up and leave before the tour guide got up.  That way the guy didn't freak out by having his group added onto, and Dawn wouldn't have to pay more for him.


Clint kicked back at the hotel, watching Dawn play with the twins in the water, and shoo off guys who clearly needed to learn how to count.  The twins looked sixteen, there was no way that was legal here either.  He had gotten a few with a pellet gun if they were insistent or if Dawn hadn't spotted them.  It was a great vacation and he could watch Dawn taunt people in a bikini all he wanted to without having to feel too protective of her.  Though, the dark sunglasses?  She had a night out.  Pepper hadn't.  She was enjoying Tony and Steve fussing over her.  The twins were giggling about Tony's antics.  Clint ate a bite of beef jerky and chewed, sipping some beer with it.  This was probably his best vacation ever.  He got to appreciate his favorite things and not have to growl at people who wanted Dawn.  He did spot the reporter and shot a pellet into their lens so it'd crack or at least be scratched.  They started to rant and complain that Dawn had done that.

Dawn looked over.  "Where the fuck did you come from?"  The reporter kept ranting.  She snapped her fingers a few times.  "It wasn't me, dude.  I didn't realize you were there stinking up the beach.  So stop it."

"Someone threw something into my camera," he said with a snotty attitude.

She took it to look at, pulling a hidden knife off her back to pry out the BB.  She held it up.  "I'm pretty sure I don't have a pellet gun," she said, handing it over.  The knife got put up and she smiled, handing him back his camera.  "Sorry.  Not me."  She pointed.  "You're leering at my underage nieces."

"They look old enough to me."

"They're twelve and if you're a pedo, I get to feed you to the sharks."  He ran off.  "Thank you for your cooperation!" she called after him with a wave and a grin.  "Jackass."  She turned to look at the twins.  "Reporters like that are seriously a problem."  They laughed and pulled her back into the water.

Tony watched over them.  "Dawn, want me to hire them a bodyguard?"

"No.  Thanks though.  If I want them to have one, I'll hire someone."  She grinned back at him.  "I can ask Clint or Clay for a recommendation."  He smirked at her for that.  She splashed him.  "You need sun, boss.  Not like we don't know you have a glowy nightlight stuck to your chest."

"Doesn't mean I want people to stare."  She walked over and did a cloaking over it so it wasn't really visible if you didn't know it was there.  She smiled and pushed him into the water.  "Go play.  Let the baby boy in there nap."  She hauled Steve out too.  "Girls, they're the dunking targets."  The girls squealed and pounced Tony and Steve to make them play.  Dawn grinned.

"You so have a hangover," Pepper complained quietly.

"Yeah but I needed it," she admitted.  She felt someone staring and looked around, checking Clint's room.  Not him.  She checked around more carefully.  "Tony, move," she ordered, spotting the red light.  He got himself and the twins moved with Steve's help.  The bullet hit near them but Dawn had already gotten them and was running toward their body.  Resort police were too.  She put her gun up, making them blink.  She shrugged.  "I'm the boss's last line of defense before herself."  She kicked the body over, stomping on the hand that came up with the gun then his throat.  "Try it, Bradley."  He whimpered, staring at her.  She stared down at him and smiled.  "Hi.  How are you?"

"Fucked," he said.

"Ya think?"

"I won't tell you who hired me."

She pulled a knife and smiled.  "Guys, can I have a moment with this mediocre assassin?"  They shuddered and tried to take him.  He fought with them.  Dawn got him slammed back into the ground, was on his back with the knife on the back of his neck, pressing in on the unsharpened side.  "You're being naughty and I'm not in the mood to paddle you this time," she said in his ear.  "You're going to die.  You shot at my nieces."

"The target was Rogers!" he complained.

"Your beam was on Stark."

"I knew they'd move."

"Yay.  You still nearly injured my nieces."  He was shuddering.  "Now, you'll tell me what I want to know, and you'll do it politely and calmly, or I'll make sure your mother's hopes and dreams of you buying out her mortgage and bad habits is moot until she gets your insurance policy."

"Kippling!" he shouted.  "He hired me to shoot the gay American supposed hero as he called him."

"Roger or Toddy?" she asked.

"Toddy."  He tried to look back.  "I knew you worked for Stark and all that, but when did you turn so tough?"

"I got given to Pepper because there was a hell goddess after me.  I've been tough for a *very* long time."  He shivered.  "How much?"

"Fifty G's."

"That's lower than the usual price on Stark," Clint said, strolling over.  "Dawn, your stance is a bit awkward."

"Yeah, well, bikini.  Don't want to give him a thrill."

"Hawkeye," Bradley moaned.  "You're one of my teacher's idols."

Clint frowned.  "Who trained you?"


"Oh, my psychotic ex.  Great.  Well, if you live you can tell her you met my wife."  Bradley gasped and tried to turn but Dawn's knife was now about an inch into the back of his neck.  "Yeah, she's pretty mean when I need her to be.  Just give up, kid."  He went limp.  Dawn slowly and carefully got up.  The resort police cuffed him and said something to Dawn, who looked at him.  "I know, you never learned Portugese, just Spanish."  He replied to them.  They nodded and took him off.  Dawn was cleaning her knife off on the jacket Bradley had dropped.  "How did you know him?"

"I went to high school with him.  He was my chemistry partner."

Clint frowned.  "Any other society bitches you know that might turn assassin?"

"Well, they were pretty mercenary, but not really.  I didn't expect it from him.  He puked on his frog in AP biology."  Clint laughed, walking her off.  "Pepper, you remember Bradley, right?"

"Very polite but his mom had a gambling problem," she said.  "That was him?"  She smiled.  "Small world."

"Very.  He interned with Clint's ex and was going to shoot Steve for Toddy Kippling."

"Bigot," she muttered.  She looked at them.

"Auntie, you're really hot when you fight," Artemis said.  "Can I learn to do that, Uncle Clint?"

"Yes you will be so you can beat assholes off you when they try for your underage butt.  Both of you."  The twins hugged him and dragged Tony back into the water.

"I need to help handle that," Tony said with a point.

"It was against Steve," Clint called.  "Dawn asked him politely."

"How politely?" Steve asked, staring at Dawn.

"I barely managed to draw blood, Steve."

"Oh, good."  He smiled and went back to frolicking with the twins.  He'd handle the idiot bigot supposed newsperson later.

Pepper looked at Dawn.  "Just think, Bradley wanted to date you.  Tony wouldn't give him permission because of his bad econ and chemistry grades."

Dawn grimaced.  "Huh.  I didn't know that's why they had that talk."  She strolled off.  "Going to come play in the sun, Hawkeye?" she teased with a smirk.

"Nope.  I'm going to go back to enjoying you in a bikini without having to brush guys off your ass."  He strolled off.  One of the officers was coming back with papers, which made him sigh.  He filled it out and handed it back.  The officer wanted to know about him so he sent him to Pepper and Dawn.  They could translate.  He was on vacation.  Dawn had only injured the guy anyway.


Joyce smiled, showing the text to Maria, who growled and stomped off.  "Dawn did handle the assassin sent after Steve, Agent Hill."

"Good!"  She paused.  "It said she knew him?"

"It was her old chemistry partner.  Very nice boy, usually polite, but bad grades so Tony wouldn't let him date Dawn.  Dawn's earlier text said that he studied under Clint's ex Claudia?  Who has a price on her head?"

"Excuse me?" Fury yelled from his office.  He came out.  "We're talking about which assassin?"  She laid out that whole thing for him.  He was growling and looking at Hill.  "Why isn't Romanoff with them?"

Joyce coughed.  "She's cat sitting."

"Can't you?" he demanded.

"By her own choice," she said, staring at him.  He glared back.  She growled.  He backed down.  "Natasha knows that it won't be very restful at the moment so she's waiting at home for them to come back so they can talk," she said quietly.

"I heard the rumors but that's fucking dumb," he muttered.

"Then she shouldn't have cheated on them."

"True."  He looked at Maria.  "Find the rest of them and end that price on her daughter's head and our people's heads."

"Yes, sir.  That's what I'm going to do."  She went downstairs and to a certain office.  She knocked and Phil told her to come in.  "Dawn took down another assassin."

"If I was keeping track of the exact number it'd be somewhere about twelve now," he quipped, smiling at her.  "I heard.  Xander ranted.  Claudia's running for her life."

"Good.  Fury wants that solved."

"My current crop of undercover agents are all busy with Ten Rings."

"You don't have anyone?"

"I have two.  Both candidates."  She grimaced. "But they can maybe handle it.  I've never tested them in the field."

"Do so, today."

He nodded.  "We'll leave tonight after we do the research."  She nodded and left.  He pulled up information and sent a mental thought at Clint to let him know what he knew.  He got back a nice email full of information.  Maybe he'd go solve it himself.  No, the rookies needed to be shaken down in the field.  He'd take them and back them up.  He wasn't sure if either one was able to handle a bad field assassination.


Dawn finally got home to the house in Guatemala, sighing in pleasure.  The twins were happy and giggly.  She spotted Clint on the couch with his boxers laying over his crotch but not on.  "Girls, why don't you go play by the lake.  It's safe here.  The guards are at Pepper's house."

"Yes, Auntie," they said, blushing at Clint and running off to play in the lake.

"Problems?" Clint teased with a smirk.

"I got them t-shirts that had their age on it yesterday for a reason.  Thankfully, our guards here are decent and just spotted the t-shirts and nodded politely."  She closed the door, leaning against it.  "Is the cat okay?"

"He's fine.  He's been chewing on Nat's hair again."

"Great, hairballs."  She came over to lay down on top of him and kiss him.  "You were going to meet me naked?"

"Until I heard the twins came with you."

"Pepper needed some time alone and we're getting a four-day weekend free in Vail in two weeks," she said quietly.  He smiled at her planning.  "Tony wanted to check over the house."  He took a kiss, winding his hands into her hair.  "Hmm.  Nice."

"Very nice," he agreed.  He shifted so she was more comfortable on top of him.  "How bad was it?"

"Three drunk frat boy wannabes.  Slightly wealthy so they thought they were entitled until I nearly ripped one's head off with my bare hands.  The police came when he started to scream like Callia when she sees a spider.  The officers heard they were twelve and the guys went to jail."  She smiled.  "Then I had them made special t-shirts."

"Good!  Maybe it'll stop the leeches in New York too."  He took another kiss, making her moan and relax again.  "It's just us."

"Pepper, Tony, and Steve are at their place."

"That's fine.  They won't interrupt us.  They know we need private time."  The girls ran in and paused to giggle and blush then ran upstairs.  "The one with the solid headboard and the one with the fancy metal one are yours," he called after them.

"Okay," they called together.

Dawn looked up at the squeaking noise.  "No jumping on the beds.  They're old and we haven't replaced them yet."

"Yes, Auntie."

"Thank you."  She kissed Clint, smiling at him.  "So...."

"They'll sleep sometime tonight," he said with a wink.  He stroked up her side.  "You taste different again."

She grimaced.  "Before we left I asked Doc for a shot.  It'll last three months and I...  I don't want it to be a reaction if that makes sense."

"No, it does.  My first instinct was to hoard you and have sex until I wore myself out."

"Yeah, mine too but that would've been unfair to you."

He smiled.  "I think we're handling it okay so far.  When we get back, we'll talk like adults and we'll see where we can start to mend things."  Dawn nodded.  He stared at her.  "Are you going to forgive her?"

She slumped, considering that.  "I'm about half and half right now," she admitted quietly.  "This is something I swore up and down I'd never allow to happen to me.  Yet I still love the bitch."

He nodded.  "I feel about the same way.  I'm slowly getting over it.  I know she might have to in the field.  I'll never forget it."

"No, ditto on that."  She snuggled in to hold him.  "I don't know.  I'm pretty sure I might be able to forgive her but I might not be able to let her touch me again," she said quietly.  "That's a huge trust thing and she kinda blew that."

"I get that," he agreed.  "We definitely couldn't do the birthday playing around we've done in the past."  She looked up at him and smiled.  "I know."  She put her head back down.  "We'll work back up to it, Dawn."  He kissed her head.  "I meant for this to be sexy."

"It is.  It's very hot."  She stroked down his firm, muscled stomach to tease the waistband of the boxers, then underneath them.  He moaned and shifted.  "You're getting ridden into a coma later," she said quietly.

He grinned.  "I'm looking forward to it."  The girls came running back down in bikinis and he stared.  "Are those yours?"

"Yeah.  They fit mine already."  She looked up.  "I remember being eighteen and barely filling those out."

"You filled them out really well, Dawn.  Coulson nearly had a heart attack a few times and I had so many inappropriate thoughts I nearly banged my head in the elevator door."  She smiled and kissed him.  "When you showed up in that smiley face bikini, I nearly lost my mind and pulled you into my lap then.  If I thought it would've been accepted, I would've done that.  But you were kinda an ice princess in those days."

"Good girls don't give out randomly," she quipped.

"True, and I knew you were a very good girl.   With the naughtiest sensual streak ever as I found out a few weeks later."  She smiled.  "I'm still going to keep hiding all your bikinis from you."

She kissed him.  "Pepper wants to take the kids to St. Martin after she delivers little Hugo in there."

"Hugo?" he asked blandly.

"That's what Steve's been calling him until they pick a name."

He nodded.  "I can't do that."  She smiled.  "What are you calling him?"


"Works better."  He took another kiss, moving the boxers to give her better access.  Her bra came off under the t-shirt and her shorts were without underwear already.  "You went commando on the flight?"

"I wasn't until we hit turbulence and the drink on my tray spilled.  I had to change.  My beach shorts were in my bag."

He looked at them then at her.  "I think it's hot you can still fit into the trashy, bad girl shorts."  She grinned and kissed him, moving backward to tease his stomach.  "That's sweet, Dawn.  I'm going to reciprocate later."  He laid there and enjoyed it, smiling when Stark opened the door.  "We're.  Busy."

"Oops, can see that."  He closed the door and went to distract the twins, who were swimming with Steve anyway.

"They're having married time," Diana chided Tony.  "They need private time to do married people things."

"Yes they are," Tony assured them with a smile.

Artemis grinned.  "Auntie said we can have some of her stuff from when she was younger.  That way we don't have to shop."

"I can see that you guys borrowed bikinis," Steve agreed.  "Dawn had a nasty habit of being stared at in them."

"They can look but Auntie said they had better not touch," Diana said smugly.  "That's why we got the new t-shirts with our ages on them."

"Yeah, you needed 'em," Tony assured her with a grin.  "Go swim."  They swam off.  He looked at Steve.  "I had those same thoughts about Dawn," he quipped at the look on his boyfriend's face.

"So did I," he admitted quietly.  "Shoot, they're pretty girls."

"They are."  He patted him on the back.  "They look at us like silly uncles and that's a great thing.  Because even if I was still the asshole I used to be, they'd kill me in bed when they're eighteen."  Steve hit him on the arm, getting a grin back.  "They would."

"Dawn would."

"Yeah, Dawn would.  Definitely.  Pepper too."  They sat there and watched the girls swim.  The bodyguards they had in case of problems were not looking at the girls.  It was almost not looking at the girls on purpose.  That was good of them.


Clint came out for dinner when Pepper yelled from the porch.  "I've got a craving for collard greens," he admitted, smiling at Pepper, who was from the south and knew what they were.

"Dear, the only thing I know about anything collared is what you taught me when you had that assignment at the sex club," Dawn quipped.

Pepper gaped then burst out laughing.  "Not exactly the same thing, Dawn.  We'll teach you that.  There's a great southern restaurant I go to sometimes when I get homesick, Clint.  Aren't you an Iowa boy?"

He grinned and nodded.  "Yup."  He walked Dawn and Pepper over to the picnic tables.  The twins were chatting with Steve and Tony about the cats.  "Is ours causing you guys trouble?"

"No but I'm hoping that the one that's in heat won't get near him," Artemis said with a grin.  "They'd make funny looking kittens."

"All Callia's are purebred," Dawn said, considering it.

"That'd only matter if they got shown," Tony said.  "I'm hoping they're all fixed."

"Tara's isn't," Diana said with a grin.  Clint moaned, shaking his head.  "She was going into heat when we left."

"Yup, so Tara's probably going to be announcing kittens and babies," Dawn quipped.  She handed Clint the chicken and then the girls.  They took theirs and handed it to Steve.  The potatoes and the salad got passed the same way, then the ears of corn.  The guards had theirs off to the side going over gun magazines.  Clay had really liked these guys and they seemed nice enough.

Clint glanced over then at Dawn, who smiled.  "I've got to broaden your food tastes again."

"Watch out for strange combinations," Tony quipped.  "A few times I wondered if she had snuck out and gotten pregnant.  Rhubarb on her cheerios and on popcorn comes to mind."

"Jalapenos and peanut butter," Pepper said with a grin for Dawn.

"It tasted good.  I can't do it now.  My stomach hates the hot stuff."

Clint looked at her.  "You didn't used to have that problem.  You and I had that super hot chili in Peru."

"Yeah, and then my stomach decided to eat itself.  Do you remember me having those really extreme stomach cramps?"  He nodded slowly.  "Went to the local there and he found an ulcer."  Clint winced.  "So yeah, no more hot stuff and low acid coffee and juice."

"I wondered why we got low acid orange juice," Clint admitted.  He shook his head quickly.  "Still tastes the same."

"Do you still have one?" Tony asked.

"No.  It healed.  I managed to heal it.  I'm really careful not to aggravate it into coming back."

"Was it stress related?" Pepper asked.

"No.  Not that he could tell.  He said it was acid reflux due to the hot stuff.  Whenever I get a new fit of heartburn I take some acid reducers for a few days and it's better.  Thankfully they're now available over the counter."

"That's good to know," Clint said, looking at her.  "Why didn't you tell us?"

"Nat knew.  She asked why I was taking a prescription.  That's why we went to Thailand next, so I could have a lot of rice and fish."

"And more hot stuff," Clint reminded her.

"Yeah, I remember."  She smiled slightly.  "There's days I can still swear I can taste that chili paste on me."

He smiled.  "That had nothing at all to do with anything.  You volunteered to help with that."

"I did.  Then it took me two days to scrub the burning stuff off my skin.  But the kids that fell in were okay and that's what was important."  Tony cleared his throat and stared at them.  "The village we were wandering around in on a car break had been grinding local chilies in a huge wine press sort of thing. Apparently they turned it into paste, added rice wine, and then capped it off for sauces and things."

"Seen that," Tony agreed.

"Had that," Steve said then burped behind his hand.  "Excuse me."

"Two of the kids stomping it fell into the paste," Clint said then ate a bite of chicken.  "By then it was about ten feet of liquidy paste.  They were trying to get the kids out but they were having to use the older kids because most of the adults were too heavy and would've pushed the top press lid down onto them.  The kids weren't able to haul them out because they weren't strong enough.  Dawn offered to climb up since she was one of the smallest people they had.  We set up ropes to help her get the kids out of the paste, and the one that kept slipping under meant she had to climb in to get him.  They all got out but Dawn had to scrub for *days* because that burned."

"A lot.  Everywhere," Dawn quipped with a grin for him.

"Yeah.  Those were not pleasant burns either.  That or the ones from the volcano god people."  She kicked him under the table, making him wince and rub his leg.  "Ow, Dawn.  Mean."

She smiled.  "You promised never to bring that up again."

"I didn't say it around Nat."

"They wanted Dawn?" Pepper guessed.

"They wanted Natasha," Dawn said with a smile.  "Fiery red hair just like lava...."  Pepper shivered.  "Thankfully we heard and rescued her but they were warming her up so she wouldn't be killed so fast when they threw her in.  She had some pretty first degree toastiness in a few places."

"Thankfully they also had nice springs locally so she could soak for a week," Clint finished.

"Wow," Artemis said, looking awed.  "Will we run into them?"

"Not those ones," Dawn quipped.  "And probably not, girls.  Your mom never did.  My kids might...."  They laughed and hugged her but went back to eating.  "Did you send Sean pictures or post cards?"  They grinned evilly and nodded.

"Is he ranting about bikinis on Atlantis?" Tony guessed.

Dawn checked her email then the girls'.  "Yup.  And Belinda wrote, Pepper.  She's offering them modeling time."  She wrote back a nasty email to her about how her very young nieces were not going to partake of such things.  They didn't need to be pushed down and treated like Barbies.  She sent it with a 'thank you for treating them as more than pretty, we'd appreciate them being well rounded,' at the end.  She put her phone up after sending Sean one that they were her bikinis.  The phone went back onto the table and they dug in again, making small talk since the girls wanted to know about robots.

John appeared, staring at Dawn.  "You just made Sean have a seizure, Dawn.  He ranted worse than Rodney ever has.  Go easy on the kid?"

"I wasn't mean!  Not like the lady who wanted them to model panties and bras was."

John blinked a few times, nodding slowly.  "You need that stress handled," he quipped and left.  A few minutes later, his phone beeped with a new email alert.  He looked at it.  It was the file on Dawn's bikinis from her Miami vacation.  And one special birthday one.  John stared, slumping.  "Damn it I need a woman of my own," he complained.  That was evil of Phil.  "Sean, calm down.  Those were your aunt's bikinis."

"She's a married woman!  She doesn't need those sort of things!" he complained loudly.

"Kiddo, married women and single women both can wear bikinis on the beach," Rodney said smugly, sipping his current mug of coffee.  "Dawn's had a number of them in the papers over the years."  John showed him that email, making him nearly swallow the whole mug.  "Oh.  Huh."  He found the birthday one and realized he was whimpering.  "I need laid," he said, handing it back to John before walking off.  "Radek, I'm taking tonight off to visit an exquisite house of ill repute," he called into the labs.  "Do not blow up the city until I get back."  He went to their traveling station and sent himself to the city.

John looked at Sean.  "Your aunt has more skimpy ones than that one.  Those were downright modest compared to some of them, Sean."

"Dawn's a pretty young woman," Ronon said.  "She should play that up.  It's how girls get men worthy of them on this planet."  John showed him that email.  He blinked a few times.  "A smiley face....  Huh."  He handed it back.  He shook his head quickly.  "Thankfully she has someone worthy of her and I'm not a bad guy to take that from him."  He walked off shaking his head.

John smiled at Sean.  "Girls wear things like that sometimes.  They only do it on the beach and sometimes in a tanning bed."  Sean glared at him.  "Your mom did too."

"Dad wouldn't have allowed it."

"Bullshit.  We visited a few times and your mom was wearing less than the Valkyries when they're doing laundry," he shot back.  Sean whimpered and shook all over.  "Yeah, so it runs in the family.  Thankfully, your aunt beat everyone who wanted to admire your sisters off them."

"Good!"  He walked off pouting.  He needed to speed up his training so he could help his Uncle Clint beat off the people that wanted a Summers woman of their own.  Ronon would understand that need.  He had a sister once.

John went to his room to work out some personal stress.   Because Dawn was an evil teasing bitch and her nieces had learned it by blood relationship long before meeting her.


Xander looked up then at his mate.  "What did you send to John?  He's cursing you loudly."

"Sean was ranting about the twins' pictures from Tobago."

"Why?" Xander asked with a smile.

"Bikinis.  I kindly sent John pictures from her vacation in Miami so he could show Sean it wasn't that abnormal."

Xander stuffed his mouth, shaking his head, trying not to smile.  "I'm sure they appreciated that a lot."  He checked.  "Yup, Rodney's with an expensive hooker, John's having some self pleasuring, and Sean's pouting that it comes from being a Summers woman.  Some day soon we'll have to point out all the girls that drool on him."

Phil smiled and sent that message to John so he could make sure he realized that.  "That way he can take personal security measures."

"Sure, and make John swat you hard."

"As long as it's not on the butt, Xander."

Xander beamed.  "No, that's my fun."  Phil gave him a pointed look.  He smiled and dug in.  It was a good night for a dinner.  The house phone rang so he answered it.  "Yup?"  He listened.  "How did you get my number?" he demanded.  "Yes, I am Xander, how  did you get my number, woman?"  He listened.  "It's still unlisted for a reason.  Yes, that reason is because I'm a God and I can fry your shallow ass," he said bluntly.  "Yes, that same Xander.  No, I think if you attempt to stalk Buffy's kids anywhere I'll have to rob Dawn of her fun of killing you in horrible manners," he said happily.  "I haven't had a battle in a few weeks so I can use you for sparring."  She hung up nearly crying.  "Reporter," he told Phil.

"I'll change the number tomorrow and flay whichever agent handed it over."  He answered it when it rang.  "No comment."  He left it off the hook and texted Maria, who was at Lamaze tonight with Tara.  They shared a look and then a kiss before getting back to dinner.  Xander had something planned, but he wasn't sure what.  Only that it'd probably need them to not be hungry.

Xander smiled.  "Kinda," he admitted with a shy smile.  They finished up and he took him to an underground city.  "This is somewhere underneath Athens."  He took Phil's hand.  "The guy who did all this...  Well, I kept trying to calm him down but he considered me his personal torment."

Phil looked at the nearby statues.  A lot were half done but some of the buildings were fully constructed.  They walked around them.  "Why did he do this?"

"That's a bit longer.  This is his later years.  That was his last one," he said with a point at a statue that was less finished than the others.  He led him to another room, which happened into a museum, across the halls to the cafeteria and down a back hallway to a hidden doorway.  "They haven't found this part yet," he said with a smile.  He let Phil look around this one.  It was mostly the same young man.  He pointed.  "That was his model.  His first love."

"Was he built like that or was the guy compensating?"

"Due to society at the time, he couldn't admit that he wanted his lover to have him.  They couldn't do that.  His lover was a drag queen who did courtesan duties for a lot of people but he was his favorite model.  He asked his mother if he could marry him and she said no, because it'd be a huge scandal for the family, but she wouldn't have them broken up."  He led him off to one.  "He got a fever and got really sick.  According to what I was told when I went to check on him that first time, his lover had begged him to work the fever out of his body by making him sweat it out.  He died during it." 

Phil shivered.  Xander pulled him closer.  "That was his last one of him.  He worked on it on and off for nearly a decade.  He went into a heavy year of mourning when his lover died."  He led him on to another group of statues.  "Then his mother demanded that he marry to give her heirs before his life went to total hell," he said more quietly. 

He led him to the other room in the 'city'.  "She understood it was a political match, and so did he.  He didn't love her, she didn't love him.  She encouraged him to knock her up as often as she could have it happen.  Sometimes by dressing like his former lover."  He pointed at one.  "She was a pretty young woman but the third daughter of a large, wealthy merchant family.  He was a good enough artist that he had commercial success, even though people did say that was a bit weird.  Remember reading about those good luck phallus statues on the lawn back in the day?"  Phil nodded.  "He was found drunkenly on top of one of them."

"Try to regain it?"

"No.  He said since he couldn't have him, no one else would ever touch him there again and he'd ruin it to make sure no one would.  That got a huge amount of talk."  He led him to a group of people by one doorway.  "This was the kids.  He adored his kids.  He might not have been able to touch his wife without her playing dress up but he adored his kids.  He straightened out for his kids.  He went back to better artwork for his kids.  She let him come down here to his work area two days a week to work on whatever he wanted but the rest of the time he had to handle things that made the family money."

"So she's humoring him and keeping things steady," Phil said.

Xander smiled and nodded.  "Yeah, until they died of something that seemed a bit like an early plague.  High fevers, spots, all that.  Not sure what it was.  He was helping his kids when she died.  He lost all but the baby she had just had."  He looked at Phil.  "His brother took the baby in when it lived.  He was a bit militant but too artistic for military service.  He ran a shipping group."  He led him around the statues.  "He kept the kids' only half finished because if he didn't give them sexual organs they could never grow up and want it, like his had ruined him. 

"He retreated down here when his kids were buried.  It was his grief that called out to mine at the time and I came to see if I could help.  He told me a few times I was like a torment because I kept him from getting too lost a few times," he finished quietly.  "I felt a bit of kinship with him.  It helped me to help him if that makes sense."

"It does."  Phil pulled Xander closer to hold him.  He was staring at one of the kids.  "Do I know their current family?"  Xander nodded.  "Am I part of their current family?"

"Yup."  He smiled.  "I found that out recently.  Well, Artemis found out and told me.   She was looking at one of your distant cousins because she's a huntress as well."

"Huh."  Phil nodded, looking around.  "He built all this?"

"Some of the buildings were partially done.  It had been a cult's religious enclave further back in history but he tidied it up and built all the rest of it and all the statues.  Over fifty years of work down here by himself."  He looked at him.  "His brother let him drift back into madness since no one could hold him steady," he finished quietly.

"Does anyone else know that these exist?"

"A few people have found one of the rooms but they never go back.  The rooms have a feeling of despair."

"I felt that and wondered."  He looked around again.  "Those are the people that helped him?"

"That he knew, some that he lost."  He walked him over to tell him who most of them were.  He didn't know a few of them but he had been around Athens back then.

Someone walked in.  "Who are you?" they demanded.

Xander looked over.  "Alexander."

She gaped.  "The God Alexander?"

"Yeah.  This is my husband, Phil.  I knew him."  He smiled sadly.  "I helped when his family died."

"You know who did all these?"

"I know who did all three rooms," Xander said with a small smile.  "I tried really hard to help him."

"We've just found the other room a few weeks ago."

Xander nodded, walking her back to the first room to show and tell her the same stories.  Including more about who was represented.  She was making notes and taking video of it.  Xander didn't mind.  The guy deserved to be noted for all the work he had done, even if it was because he was lost in grief.  She was nearly crying about his family but it was good to know what caused this. She went to get her boss, who saw the tape and got shown the statues.  By then the two gods were gone.  They decided they were going to keep them there and add them as special collection rooms with plaques about what had happened.  The artist deserved his story to be known.


In Tartarus, in Hades' palace, he looked up and smiled.  "He'll appreciate that, Xander," he said quietly.  "Thank you."  Persephone looked over, looking curious.  "Our artist."

"It's too bad his wife's people were from another pantheon so the children went with her.  I'm glad we could work out that they could visit."

Hades smiled.  "You did great doing that.  Xander just showed Phil his caverns of work."

"Awww."  She smiled.  "He'll appreciate that story and how it relates back to Xander's first family."

"Xander just told Phil he's related to that artist."

"Wonderful."  She smiled and sipped her wine.  "I'm glad Xander could finally share some of that pain."

"It's good for them."  He looked up.  "They're going to Minos."

"The grove?"

"It appears so."

"That's a very romantic, healing place."  She smiled.  "Eat, dear.  I made all your favorites."

"You did.  How did you get roast beef?"

"I sent the handmaiden out to pick it up at the store."  She smiled.  "Modern conveniences are wonderful."  He smiled and nodded.


Xander took him and Phil to a small island, a warm place shrouded in darkness you could almost feel on your skin.  "It's protected.  One of the Titans held this as his holy grove," he said quietly.  He led them into the protections and let him see the villa.  It sat in a valley that was surrounded by wild looking grape vines and olive trees.  The fences had long grown into the vines and trees.  The house looked sturdy and in good condition.  Xander held his hand as they walked along the path.  He told him how this grove was made.  How it was held as a honeymoon spot mostly these days but all the gods were allowed to come here as long as they didn't ruin anything.  Sometimes Dionysus came to trim the grapes for them.  Some of the ceremonial wines were made from these grapes.  Xander fed him one with a smile.

"Bit tangy so early."

"They are but they're a very special breed.  This is the only place you'll find these.  Even when other gods have tried, it never worked.  They only grow here."  He fed him another grape and ate one, smiling at him.  "They're usually used to make the wine for real weddings, not political ones but chosen one weddings."  He led him to the house, letting him look it over.  "We have no idea how he saw ahead to look at house designs like this one but it's the way it was made."

"The wood and the stone mixed?" he asked, tipping his head.  A third of the house's structure was in wood instead of in marble or granite.  "Why?"

"He said it appealed to him."  He shrugged.  "I only met him once and asked that.  He told me it added something to look at, something to want to improve, and he liked it."

"It's very interesting to look at."  He looked around.  "So the Greek pantheon takes honeymoons here?"

"It's open to all pantheons.  There's a few of these spread around in various ancient pantheons.  It's also got non-disclosure and no violence charms woven into the protections."  He smiled and led him down to the beach.  It had a private, pale tan sand beach.  It wasn't huge but more than enough for a good game of frisbee on it.  Phil squatted down to test the sand, smiling at how it ran through his fingers.  "Even if there's a hurricane or a typhoon we'd be able to sit here and watch it."

Phil stood up and walked over, kissing him.  "Thank you for sharing this with me."

Xander smiled.  "It's only right that I show you the special things about us."  He took another kiss, rubbing Phil's cheeks with his thumbs.  "I was going to bring a picnic here but since we ate I didn't figure you'd be hungry?"

"We might need some later.  If that's all right?"

Xander grinned and nodded.  "We wouldn't be the first."  He took another kiss, taking their clothes off with his powers.  They got laid on the sand next to them.  Xander created a large blanket so they wouldn't end up in the sand no matter how much they wiggled around.  He laid down and let Phil take control this time.  Phil was good to him. Phil touched and kept it at touching for a bit.  Xander wiggled some but Phil smiled and kissed him, so Xander let him explore all his marks, scars, and dents. 

Phil kissed a few that looked bad but one he smiled at and kissed because his daughter had hit Xander with a toy truck and caused a small scar.   Which Xander hadn't said anything about until that night.  He hadn't done more than push Melissa back a bit and wiggle to a better protected spot while they played.  He moved onto his stomach and Xander giggled because he was ticklish but Phil lapped those spots and what was ticklish before was now happy tingles. 

Whatever Phil was doing was leaving a wake of power over his skin.  The hairs were standing up on end and Phil was more than happy to encourage him shivering and going limp underneath him.  Finally Phil made it to his cock and took it into his mouth.  A long, slow, slurp down and around with his tongue then slowly back up to tease the head.  Then back down and carefully using his tongue to make Xander lose his mind.  Not that Xander minded.  He liked doing the same thing to Phil.  Xander moaned but Phil kept him there.  He pulled off with a slurp and stared at him before licking over the head of his cock.  Xander made a whining noise.


"I have some.  A tiny bit."

"Then consider this expanding that fund," he teased with a small smile.  He went back down on him, making Xander grab the blanket.  Phil had turned his tongue elemental so it was rubbing against his most sensitive skin in that pure power form.  Which was great, but Xander was going to come very quickly if he didn't stop.  Phil pulled up and went back to normal.  "Problems?" he asked.

"Yes!  I need more," he panted, staring at him.  "Please?"

"Gladly."  He kissed him and manifested some oil.  Xander changed it.  "You sure?"

"Definitely," he moaned.  Phil scooped some onto his fingers and shifted so he could suck on Xander and stretch him.  Xander's head hit the sand hard and he tried hard not to move too much.  He didn't want to choke Phil.  Phil, of course, was trying to make him wiggle and make him choke him.  Xander whined again, he was so damn close!  Phil pulled back to lick a stripe up the underside of Xander's cock.  That's all it took and Phil managed to catch most of it.  Xander panted but the wicked fingers were still working their magical way on him.  It had to be magical because Xander was recovering more quickly than usual.  By the time Phil slid in, he was nearly halfway back to hard and ready.  He wrapped himself around Phil, kissing him hard.  "Thank you."

"You are most welcome."  He kissed him again and smirked slightly.  "Ready?"

"Been ready."

"Good."  Phil pulled back and pushed back in hard, setting a hard, fast rhythm that made Xander's whole body shake.  He felt like he was coming unglued at the molecules.  He finally yelped and let go, having an orgasm that turned him elemental.  Phil joined him after a second and Xander's scream of pleasure echoed around the grove.  Phil had come up with new tricks and treats for him.  They came back to human form panting.  Xander was covered in their sweat.  Xander pulled him down to kiss him, making Phil moan and finally come.  They pulled back to stare at each other, Xander carefully lifting a hand up to touch Phil's cheek.  Phil smiled.  Xander grinned and kissed him again, getting free so he could pull Phil into a cuddle.  Phil should compete in cuddling events, he was great at it.

A male cleared their throat.  "Boys?  Is that considered something normal gods do?" he asked.

Xander looked up and nodded.  "Yes, it is."  He smiled.  "Cronus, this is my mate, Phil.  Phil, this is the Titan King Cronus."

"Pleasure, sir," Phil said.  He didn't act like being naked in front of him was anything unusual.

Cronus looked at them.  "I can see powers joined."

Xander smiled and nodded.  "Accidently but yes, sir."

"Huh.  Which one are you again?"


"Oh, him.  It's said if something like that was possible you'd be one of the few who could safely do it."

"We were sick and joined by accident," Phil said.

"Interesting.  Probably liked by Gaia."

"Who pushed us together," Xander said dryly.

"Figures.  Women are like that, son."  He sat down by their heads.  "On your honeymoon?"

"Our first real anniversary of us deciding we had to make a go of it after Gaia married off our golems is tomorrow," Xander said quietly.  "I showed him the grove."

"It's a beautiful place for that.  My cousin would've loved you enjoying it."  He smiled.  "Relax, kid.  I'd never hurt him.  His people would throw fits."

Xander snorted.  "Odin?  Throw fits about one of Loki's kids?"

"I forgot," he admitted.  Xander smiled.  "So a whole year?"

"A whole year."  He grinned and kissed Phil's hair.  "If you wanted some time, we can go bathe in the sea."

"No, just being nosy."  He smiled.  "I'm bored in Tartarus."

"I showed him his ancestor's statue city."

"Huh.  That's supposed to be stunning.  I've only seen one of the rooms and it was moving."  He patted them on the head, feeling the power between them.  "Congratulations, Alexander."

"Thank you, Cronus."

"You'll do fine with your duties.  You were always more protective than any of my own children."  He smiled at Phil.  "And so are you."  He stood up.  "Happy anniversary, kids.  Have some fun.  Bathe in the sea.  Get pregnant if you want."  They both shook their heads.  "Pity, someone's trying."

"Probably my mother," Xander said dryly.  "I'm so poisoning her river."  Cronus burst out laughing and disappeared.

Phil tested them and ended the spell on Xander.  He was better at spell work than Xander was.  "Not time for us to have kids yet."  He took another kiss.  "Bathe in the sea?"

"I could like that.  Slippery and wet you is fun."  He got up and hauled Phil up, taking him out there to bathe.  The sea nymphs came up to tease them but Xander shooed them off his mate.  Phil got possessive, making them giggle.  They went to tell Poseidon.  He liked Alexander so he'd be happy for him.

Poseidon popped his head up.  "Boys, your mother's being mean again."

"I ended the spell," Phil said.  "Did I miss some, sir?"

"No, son, not like that.  She's made both of you super fertile."  He smiled.  "So don't get any sperm on the nymphs, okay?"  They nodded and he took them with him. Sometimes, Xander's mother had very little sense.

Xander looked at Phil, who shrugged.  "It's your mother."

"Don't remind me."  He took another kiss and groped him under the water.  "Is that a tentacle or are you happy to feel me?" he teased.

"I think that's a tentacle since you're not touching me."  They both looked and got out.  It was a small kraken, barely a baby.  "How do we handle this?"

"Poseidon?" Xander called.  He popped back up and scowled, saying something in a language that sounded like burbling water.  The kraken floated off quickly.  "Thanks.  Bad enough we had one in New York wanting celebutantes."

"I heard about that.  One of my daughters has a satellite dish.  I liked some of those ideas."  He dove back down with a cackle.

Xander looked at Phil, kissing him.  "Me too."

"I could've agreed with them."  They gathered things and went back to the temple to have some private time. They needed it.

"Damn it, some of us are single!" John yelled when they got loud.  "Shut the fuck up!"

"Bite me!" Clay yelled from his temple.  "He's the loud one, not me."

"Not with how loudly you snore," Bia yelled from hers.

"I thought the Valkyries were loud with the vibrators," Alana complained.

"Shut up all of you!  Before I banish all your asses!" Xander yelled back.  "John, go find a friend, or your hand, something!  You need laid worse than I *ever* have!  Even when I got hit by that pollen."

John shuddered.  "Oh, god, the memories," he muttered, walking off shaking his head.

"Pollen?" Clay asked Roque, who was shuddering.

"Just don't ask.  Those fuck or die stories have *nothing* on this stuff.  We had to destroy that god, his whole crop, every single flower, all of it.  He bred psychedelic pansies and things.  This was a side hobby of his and part of his security system.  Lasted.  Six.  Years.  We didn't have flamethrowers back then.  Or I would've used them before we got near his house."

"How badly were you hit?" Clay asked, starting to grin.

"Me?  No, I got the trippy pansies.  John and Xander got hit with the sex pollen things.  John lasted six months before he nearly died and Apollo had to take him elemental to scoop it out of him.  Xander couldn't be found.  I have no idea where he went but he holed up somewhere with a harem.  We never could figure out which one but for some reason the rule of the Steppe warriors at the time ended without warning or a war."  Clay laughed.  "Seriously!  I'm not sure *how* he did it but they suddenly went peaceful for a few generations.  A few other armies did the same thing.  We have *no* idea if he was involved or not.  All we know is Ares was worried there was so much peace."  Clay was cackling.  "I'd show you but we intentionally blocked off all mentions in any mirrors so no one could see it."

"I don't blame you for that.  I wouldn't want myself to be seen that way either."  He shifted, blinking at Roque.  "How bad was the trip?"

"I woke up wearing a flower crown, had three women humming and rubbing my legs, another one doing my shoulders, and had apparently blessed a whole village of spermless women.  I have no memories of any of it."

"Huh," Clay said, grinning now.  "Think anyone kept samples?"

"I'm pretty sure we burned the whole valley.  John, did anyone keep those flowers?"

"Yes, there's some wild ones over there," John yelled back.  "They've bred with the tripping ones."

"We need to burn that!"

"It's almost unreachable," he said, coming to the doorway of their room.  "No one but a God can get there.  We went back to collapse the walls of the valley."

"I don't remember that."

"I barely remember it."  He shrugged.  "I'm still wondering where in the fuck Xander was."  He walked off shaking his head.

"We should tell the geeks," Clay said, grinning at him.

Roque looked down at him.  "The last time I knew you weren't related to any chaos gods."

"It might give them new ideas."

"Uh-huh.  Sure, you bring McKay and Radek, I'll bring Stark."

"You'd have to show me where it was."

"John can find it."  They shared an evil smirk and Roque pounced.  The few memories he had of those years were good ones.  It made him very happy to share.


Dawn walked out into the morning dew, smiling at the peace and quiet around the lake.  The caretaker was trimming bushes.  The guards were at the outside table reading.  Not moving.  She pulled a gun and pointed it at the caretaker.  "I know you're not him.  I hired him and he was older."

"We want the redheaded she demon," he sneered.

Dawn shrugged and shot him.  "Pity but she's in New York."  He died.  She checked to make sure she had a silencer and thought at Clint, which ruined his happy dream.  He came down to help.  The guards were poisoned.  The other house was quiet but Clint woke up Steve sneaking in to check on them.  He came back and found Dawn had called someone official, who was complaining.  Dawn also had him in a headlock and his gun was on the ground. 

"No, I don't think you own this house.  I'm pretty certain *I* own this house," she said bluntly in Spanish.  "I'm also pretty certain that if you do not take care of this problem, I'm going to call the Ancients back.  After all, I'm the one that found that portal where they live."  The officer babbled for forgiveness.  "No, I have very little mercy in me.  People like this made sure of it."  She smiled sweetly.  "Get them off my property.  Now!"  

She let him go.  The officer asked about the 'redheaded one'.  "She's in New York.  She's not coming on this trip.  You only get me."  She let out some glow.  The officer's eyes went wide and he started to cross himself and pray.  "Now, fix your shit!  Before I fix your shit," she growled.  He ran off babbling into his radio that the 'brunette witch' was back.  She grimaced, handing Clint the gun.  "I was having a happy morning until this."

Clint stole a kiss and smiled at her.  "We love you having happy mornings."

"Thanks."  She grinned back.  "Can we burn them this time?  You promised we could if they ever laid another hand on me again."

"Sure, we can do that."  New officers showed up and Dawn stared over at them, stomping over to start yelling in Spanish at them.  The officers decided not to get out of the jeep and the driver actually backed it up and promised they'd handle the problems.  If she'd let them gather the bodies?  She let them, still growling.  They left quickly.  By the time she and Clint had finished making breakfast, the problem locals were not happy to be in jail.  The coroner wasn't happy with a few of them.  Then Xander showed up and the rest of them ran for their lives for touching his 'sister'.  That made sure they wouldn't try it again.  The whole town realized who he was.  He had freed a town not fifty miles away from some rebels.  They had bragged.

Clay appeared from a closet full of shadows, straightening out his shirt.  "So, anyway," he told Dawn, who smiled at him.  "Drugs?"

"Yup," Clint said.  "Gone?"

"Yes.  Xander said they're toasty, whatever that means today.  Did you hear about them having to take down somewhere that has psychedelic pansies and sex pollen flowers?"

"Oh, god, the memories," Dawn said, holding her head, resting it against Clint's shoulder.

"At least you have some," he complained, giving her a cuddle.  He shook his head quickly.  "We got lost hiking."

"Only you guys," he complained.  "Roque, John, and Xander took down the guy who bred them.  Xander apparently disappeared on a six year sex jaunt."

Dawn looked at him.  "I had to make us detoxing tea between bouts of hallucinations and sex urges.  I think at one time I hallucinated he was a centaur and I pounced him."

"I thought I heard something about my pretty tail," Clint admitted.

"Was Romanoff with you?" Clay asked dryly.

"No," they said together.

"Thankfully not," Clint added.  He sighed.  "If I had wanted to go into the drug making business, that would've been my ticket in."

Dawn nodded.  "Mine too.  Thankfully I don't like that."  She sipped her coffee.  The girls ran out in a set of bikinis of hers.

"Did you have to share the sparkly ones?" Clint complained.

"Yup."  She smiled.  "They're young, they should be sparkly."

"I'm reminding myself of their ages," Clay said, going to talk to Stark about those flowers.

"I sent him cuttings," Dawn called.  "No idea what he did with them."

Tony leaned in a few minutes later.  "Were they blue with red centers and purple stamen?"

"Yup," she said with a grin.  "I'm so glad I memorized Tara's detoxing tea."

"Rhodey confiscated those after the person who planted the cuttings started to hallucinate so badly she humped the paper shredder."  They gave him confused looks.  "She's a lesbian and said it had a pretty vagina.  A bit mean like some Asian myths that had teeth in their vaginas but still pretty enough for her."

"Oh, her," Dawn said, smiling and nodding.  "I showed him the pretty flower.  We had about two weeks there."

Tony nodded with a smile.  "She was in quarantine for nearly a month."  He walked off.  "I want more samples of that."

"Sure, we can draw you a map," Dawn quipped.  "We have a nice one somewhere in my old bag of places we should not go again."

Clint nodded.  "Thankfully there's only ten things marked."  He sipped his coffee.  Steve walked the girls back inside and gave them a nudge.  "Problems?"

"Stark just looked at them and whimpered.  Please put on something more covering, girls?"  They pouted but went up to change.  "Thank you!"

"Give Pepper the red and pink one when you go back out," Dawn called.  She kissed Clint, taking his mind off things.  They heard the girls go running back out to the lake.

"Mother.  Fucker!" Clay shouted.  "Damn it, you're twelve!  That was obscene on Dawn when she was eighteen!"

"If you upset them, you get to hold them when they cry," Clint yelled.  Dawn laughed, going to see.  He followed.  "Oh, *that* bikini.  Sorry, Clay."  He swatted Dawn on the ass.  "I thought you burned the smiley face bikini, not got them a matching set."

"Dear, those are theirs.  Mine was a lot less covering," she said dryly.  "Including having a tiny little thong for the back."  Clay whimpered and walked off shaking his head muttering about being married to Roque, and he'd never let him cheat even if they were of age.  "See, theirs have full tops, unlike mine that was barely pasty sized.  Their bottoms are full bikini bottoms, not like my thong."  She went to put hers on to show him.  "See?"  She grinned.

Clint stared then hung his head, shaking it.  "Damn it I need more breakfast to cure that mood."  He went to make himself some.  "Girls, want food?" he called.  "Please put on robes at the table."  They ran to get them and came down to eat with their aunt and uncle.  "Thank you.  Have Pepper take a picture."

Tony stomped over.  "Dawn, do not give Pepper a version of you guys' birthday bikini!  It's mean!"

"She's got a second trimester coming up, boss," she said with an innocent grin.  "She'll want it to celebrate the new baby."

He glared at her.  "Not nice," he warned.  He paused, stared, and blinked a few times.  "Is that the one you wore to that meeting?"


"We got our own versions," Artemis said, taking off her robe to show him.  "See?"

"Way too much," Tony assured her, trudging back home.  "Fuck!" he shouted once he got inside.

Dawn and the girls shared a grin and ate, then went to sunbathe by the lake.

Clint made himself extra food.  He had no idea how they'd cure the twins' bad mental places but he'd need energy to clear Dawn's.  On second thought he started a roast for dinner in the slow cooker because Stark and Rogers would need it to help Pepper celebrate.  If that bikini was anything like Dawn's.....  He looked outside, spotting Pepper walking over to hug the girls.  It was almost exactly like theirs only it was red and white striped. 

Yup, Stark was fucked and fucked hard this time.  Rogers was looking like Natasha when she was prowling after Dawn for some oral sex.  Tony walked out and picked up Pepper, carrying her off with Steve's help.  Clint laughed but finished his seconds on breakfast.  "Dawn?" he called once he had did the few dishes.  "Can I have you for a few minutes?"

She strolled in, kissing him.  "Only for a few minutes?  Are we into quickies today?"

"Nope."  He carried her up the stairs to their room.  "Not anything fast or hard this time."

"You have some of the best ideas," she promised, kissing him, wrapping herself around him.  It gave him the opportunity to cut that bikini off her, which was a godsend to his mental state.

The twins looked up from reading when Pepper squealed Steve's name then screamed Tony's.  They shook their heads.  They didn't want to know.  Their mom was bad about that.  They looked at the house when Dawn screamed Clint's name like he was her Godly icon to pray to.  They grinned and went back to their books.

"Girls, go put on clothes and we'll go shopping," Clay ordered.  They grinned at him and ran to do that and came out with their books.  They could read in the car.  He got the jeep out of the garage and left a note so no one would worry if they recovered before they got back.  He drove them into town, appreciating the t-shirts that said 'I may look sixteen but I am TWELVE'.  They needed to wear those more often. 

A few of the men in the local town were clearly illiterate but Clay could glare with the best soldier.  They backed down nicely for him.  The girls got to souvenir shop and got chatty with the local women about how things were made.  It was more like what they were used to.  They got stuff for lunch and went back.  Dawn was yelling 'pleases' at Clint.  Pepper was praying to the altar of Stark.  The girls shrugged it off.

"Our mom could be that loud too," Artemis said.  "Daddy always enjoyed it and he was always happy later."  Diana nodded.  They made lunch, checked on the roast, and had it outside by the lake with Clay.  He was pretty sweet to them and they wanted to know what he did.  They didn't know too many soldiers.


Pepper wandered back into the penthouse, smiling at Joyce, Bruce, Liz, and Callia watching a movie.  She hugged everyone and took the kids with her to the big bed.  "Night.  Thanks," she murmured.

Joyce smiled.  "Long flight I guess."  Her daughter came off the elevator smiling and happy.  "Long flight?"

"Chartered.  Be damned if I want the girls to go through the TSA patdown again.  I nearly fried the last one."  She kissed her and Bruce both on the cheek.  "Anything I should know?"

"Not at the moment," Bruce quipped.

"Cool!  Then I'm going to go fall into bed."  She blew kisses and left them to finish the movie.  Steve and Tony came off the elevator dragging.  She went down to let the driver take them home.

Tony blinked at them.  "The kids?"

"In with Pepper," Joyce said with a point.  "You need to hook up Liz's machine."

"Mmm.  Machines.  I like machines, so I can figure it out," Tony said through a yawn.

"If not, I can," Bruce promised.  Tony grinned and nodded, heading to lay down.

"Daddy, I am not a pillow, get off me!" Callia shouted.  "Smooshing me!"

Bruce went to help his poor, snuggly granddaughter and set up Liz's alarm.   Pepper kept snatching Liz back.  "Just doing her breathing thing," he said quietly.  "It's me, Pepper."  She groaned but let him have the baby.  "Thank you."  He put Liz into her portable crib.  Callia got plucked up and taken to her bed because it looked like Steve was going to fall on top of her too.  The cats and dog gladly accepted their mistress back and would protect her from further smooshing.  He and Joyce left, taking the DVD with them.  It was theirs anyway.


Natasha was woken up by a body climbing on top of hers.  If it had been anyone but Clint and Dawn she would've woken up when they came near the doorway.  She blinked up at Dawn.  "It's very late."

"You've been up for over an hour pretending to be asleep," Dawn said quietly.  "So we're going to have some girl talk time while Clint rests since the turbulence had the girls clinging to him for most of the trip back."  She settled on top of Natasha, that way she couldn't escape.  "What the hell were you thinking?  Did you even consider that we wouldn't like that?"

"It was an urge, Dawn.  Not a good one or a healthy one but an unguided urge."

"So like a food craving that you know will make you sick."  She stared at her.  "What did I do to start it off?"

"You weren't...."

"Don't lie to me," Dawn said quietly.  "You said you were feeling closed in, and it's usually me that does the fussing.  So did I do too much?  If you had told me I would've backed off, maybe with a tiny pout but I would've."

"It was all this, Dawn, not you.  This is the longest I've been out of the field since I started to work.  I don't exactly have a full time assignment right now.  I've been edgy for months."

"And you didn't find something to do?" she asked dryly.  "I mean, there's all sorts of plots against SI and us.  There's plots against SHIELD.  There's whoever keeps hacking into Stark's main system that JARVIS can block but not totally stop because he's not allowed to attack them.  There's plenty for you to do if you had wanted to.  Which means it was more personal."  She stared at her.  "So?"

"I'm not used to being with someone long-term," she admitted.

"I get that.  Neither's Clint.  That's why he goes out to a bar every now and then.  Hell, neither am I.  Mine I spend in the tub because I don't really go to the club anymore."

"We never do anything anymore," Natasha said.

"I'm all for us going out and doing things.  You guys never want to."  She shrugged.  "I can't drag you out of the house to go to dinner, movies, have fun, none of that.  I can suggest and then usually get told 'this weekend, we're tired' and then there's a problem so you have to go fight it."

"We don't...."  Dawn quirked up an eyebrow.  "When have you suggested it?"

"Um, let's see.  A week before I found that hickey?  I suggested a movie night out.  Clint was exhausted from the trainees.  You were antsy so you were cleaning weapons all night.  The time before that was about a week earlier when I got paid.  I had to pick up a few things and groceries.  Callia wanted to do some shopping.  I invited you along when Clint said he wanted to be surprised instead."  Natasha sighed.  "You said you were tired."

"I was."

"Are you depressed?  You've been exhausted an awful lot recently.  Or pregnant?"

"No.  Neither."  She frowned.  "Why would you think I was depressed?"

"You're always tired, your sleeping patterns have changed, your moods have changed, you've been more fatalistic than usual, you've been brooding worse than Angel, you never want to leave the house.  Those are all signs of depression, dear."

"I don't think I am.  Upset that my life is now different."

Dawn leaned down.  "You still managed to run some missions even with the movie hype and the people asking you for autographs before it."  She sat up again.  "You and Clint both managed it and ran rookies in the field."

"It's not the same."

"No, it's not.  Then again, you're both getting to be ancient by SHIELD standards.  Clint's already in the top ten percent of field agent ages.  You're discounted because of all that stuff way back when.  Hell, Clint's getting up there on the average age of field agent handlers."

"I had not thought of that.  Neither of us had retirement plans."

Dawn shrugged.  "And yet, you probably could have."

"I know."  She grimaced.  "Must you sit on me?"

"Yup.  So you can't get up and stomp off like a girl."  She shrugged.  "It's this or tying your ass down so we can talk.  If you want, I can do that."

"You will not."

Dawn stared at her.  "We've got serious problems that I never noticed and you never mentioned," she said bluntly.  "Because you let Clint do it."  Natasha went limp under her, shaking her head.  "Yeah.  Birthdays?"

"That...  That was a trial."

"Uh-huh.  Pull the other one.  Two of the videos that got sent when you two cleaned up the possible sex tapes had some light bondage."  Natasha sighed and shook her head.  "Want me to pull up my tablet to show you?  I saved them there so Stark couldn't get into them."

"No, it's fine.  I remember them well enough."  Dawn pulled up her tablet and found the one, fast forwarding to show her.  Clint was tying her hands in front of her with a silk scarf.  Something she could easily get out of and still have participation in.  She looked at Dawn.  "It's not the same."

"No, it's not.  Is that because it's him and not me?"


"Do I need to quote Callia about how empaths feel lies?" she asked bluntly.

"No."  She grimaced.  "That was in the heat of the moment.  I would not normally allow that."

Dawn blinked a few times.  "So it's just me."

"No, it's not."

Dawn shifted and then grabbed her hands, holding them together.  Natasha tried not to struggle.  "Clint's done this any number of times when you started to lose it during sparring," she said quietly.  She let her go.  "So it's me."  She got up.  "We'll share Clint so he's not torn between us.  I'd never want him to be hurt and if you ever do it to him again I'm going to make you wish you were dead."  She walked off.

"It's not like that and that's not an acceptable answer," Natasha said, getting up.  She had to put on more clothes.  Dawn had been mostly dressed in flannel pajama pants and a t-shirt.  She heard her make it out the door before Natasha could pull on real clothes, and followed her.  She made it downstairs in time to see her get into a cab.  "Dawn!"  She went back upstairs, finding Clint still asleep for some reason.  She walked into their bedroom and shook him.  He blinked at her.  "Dawn stomped off."

"I felt."  He grimaced.  "That's not a solution I like.  We're either together as a trio or we're not.  I'm not like that guy on that tv show that has to keep switching houses."

She sat on the bed.  "I'm sorry."

"That's great, Nat, but she had some points.  I have no idea what the fuck is going on with you two, but stop it."

"She thinks it's all about her."

Clint nodded.  "It mostly was.  It's kinda clear.  If it was against me, you would've used some other method of trying to push us away."  Natasha stared at him.  "It's the truth and you know it."

"I...."  She grimaced.  "Perhaps."

"No perhaps about it.  You did in the past.  You know me well enough to know what would make me shove you away.  You used Dawn's.  It's mostly about her this time."   He sat up, thinking at Dawn.  "She's at a bar."

"Why?" Natasha asked.

"Because she's twenty-one and getting upset," he said bluntly.  "Why else would she be at a bar?  She did it during her vacation too."  He got up and put on clothes.  "Let me find her."

"She might not want you to," Natasha said.

"When has that been a good idea?" he asked.  "Go to bed, Nat.  You're clearly still sleep fuddled."  He left after a glance at the twins.  They were asleep with the cat.  He left, going to find Dawn.  She wasn't that far away.  The bar was a less than cheery and clean place.  Clearly not a Dawn place.  He sat beside her, taking her drink to gulp.  "Didn't bring your wallet?"

"I had it in my jacket from when we came home."  She looked at him.  "I have no idea what I did wrong."

"You didn't.  This is all Nat's thing.  Something about her training and her personality and all that shit she went through over the years."  He leaned on the bar, staring at her.  "It had nothing to really do with us.  We just tripped the trigger of her angst engine to quote you last month."  She slumped but nodded, rubbing her face.  "You okay?"

"No.  I'm not.  I feel like I'm being ripped apart and I hate it."  She looked at him.  "You're handling this a lot better than I am."

"Had a bit more experience but I tend to internalize instead."

She let out a bitter sounding snort.  "All I've done is wonder what I did to her to make her do that."

He stroked her back.  "It wasn't us. It was her flashing back to when they kept teaching her she could never get emotional, attached, or anything like that.  She taught me the same things and I managed to not take them in too deeply."  She nodded.  "I don't know, Dawn.  We're working on it."  She looked at him.  "Beyond that, not a working plan.  We're either together or we're not.  There's no apartment switching or anything.  I'm not built for anything that complicated."  She nodded, leaning against his arm.  He put it around her, pulling her closer.  "We'll work it out.  Tomorrow, when we get up."

"She's depressed."

"I've noted that a few times and she never wants to talk about it.  I managed to deal with mine and find ways to work around it.  Including stopping the plots around us."  She nodded.  "C'mon, we'll go home.  You owe a tab?"  She shook her head.  "Then let's go back to bed.  Tomorrow's going to be hectic catching up from the vacation."  He walked her off, making sure he had her wallet.  They were spotted but yay.


Joyce got out of her cab to work, smiling at the driver.  "Thank you."  She turned and found a reporter waiting.  "You're not to be at SHIELD.  Director Fury tends to take a dim view on reporters.  He ranks you right up there with terrorists."

"Just one question, Mrs. Banner.  Is Dawn depressed over her sister's death?"

"Why would you think that?"

"Her husband had to go retrieve her from a bar last night and she didn't look too happy when he escorted her home."

She sighed.  "It's not really about Buffy and Hylal's death.  It's something else going on and it's stressing her out but I'm sure she's not depressed.  We've talked every single day for the last few weeks about all that's going on."

"Is it stress at Stark?  I know there was a minor report of her having been on stomach medicine?"

"She used to love spicy peppers and things.  It created a spot in her stomach.  Now she's not allowed to."

"Is that why she was on painkillers the other day?"

Joyce stared at her.  "I'll make sure Tony knows he has another leak," she said dryly.  "Did you see that a young man at the coffee shop had been arrested?"

"Yes, for putting his drugs in the coffee grinder."

"Dawn's stomach means that she switched to a lower acid coffee, which they have to brew when she orders it."

"Oh!  They ground it and she got some....  Oooooh," she said with a wince and a hiss.  "Well, they were subtle at least."

Joyce nodded.  "They're very subtle."  She smiled.  "I'm still telling Stark he has a leak."

"We eventually hear everything," she said with a smile.

"I'm sure you don't, but it's probably comforting to you.  Now, you should probably go.  That's Agent Hill in that cab and Director Fury's on her other side."  She looked and scurried off like the rat she was.  Joyce smiled at them when they got out of their cabs.  "Dawn went to a bar last night," she told Maria when she got a funny look.  "Some reporter caught them and we still have a leak."

"I knew about one.  I'm wondering if it's the same one that gave a reporter Agent Coulson's home phone number."

Fury looked at her.  "Someone did?"

"Yes, sir.  One called him at home.  Alexander apparently pointed out he could kill them."

"Good!"  He walked the ladies inside, letting them sign in first.  He scanned his badge through the system, having it come up invalid.  He looked at it.  "I just updated it."

"That's the old one, sir," Maria said, smiling at him.  She put in an exemption code and let him up to get it from his desk.  It got scanned up there so he was noted in the building.  "The new design is a bit harder to break if you sit on it."  She sat down at her desk to get into her morning mail.  She opened her top desk drawer and had to move quickly, which wasn't as quick as usual thanks to the lump on her stomach that kicked when she got upset.  "Security!"  They came rushing over to look at her desk while Joyce helped her up.  They got the scorpion killed and checked the rest of her desk.  Her trashcan had another one.  Someone knew she threw things out by dropping them from inside the basket instead of just tossing it at the basket.  She looked at them.  "Check the other admin desks."

"I haven't done more than log onto my computer while I took off my jacket and hung up my purse," Joyce said.  She looked at her.  "Are you all right?"

"Twisted my ankle some but I'm fine, Joyce."  She was scowling.  Joyce's desk had a pop-up needle.  "Someone get me Romanoff.  Now."  They called her to come in.  She looked at Fury.  "Sir, I'll let her figure it out and tell us."

"Agreed," he said.  "Check mine once you're done."  The security team did that, finding something a bit more dangerous in there.  He looked in at the gasp.  "What's that?"

Xander appeared, looking over their shoulder.  "Red wire that goes from the battery to the semtex."  They got it free and he took it to float so he could check for other needs.  He floated it into their security box, smiling once the wires were wrapped so they couldn't get back together.  He grinned at Fury.  "Pretty simple."  He disappeared after pointing at a filing cabinet.  They found a few scorpions in there on top of his stored coffee grounds.

Natasha came off the elevator.  "What's happened?"  Maria gave her a rundown and she nodded.  "I will find them."

Joyce looked at her.  "Don't do anything too heroic," she said quietly.  "They'd hate to miss you permanently."  Natasha stiffened, staring at her.  "It's fairly clear, Natasha.  Just be careful, more so than usual."  She went back to her desk.  Fury motioned her into his office.  "Yes, sir?"

"She's depressed?"

She closed the door.  "She's not adjusting very well to not having missions any longer."

"Dawn tell you this?"

"She didn't have to.  It's been fairly obvious.  Clint's been finding all the plots against his family and doing make work, plus helping the trainees.  Natasha's been hating that she's helping the trainees.  The other trainers have noticed it since they've kept her from mentoring any of them after she went off on one of them."  Fury frowned.  "She told one that he should give up hope of ever doing anything but working fast food since he was clumsy, tripped while running once, and was only in the ninetieth percentile on shooting.  The poor guy was just coming off a broken foot."

"Oh, him.  I heard about that but not who said it.  She did?"  Joyce nodded.  "You sure?"

"Yes.  It's all the attention on her.  She's been doing this a very long time.  What did you go through when you couldn't use that eye?"

"I gave myself hell for being so weak," he agreed.

"You had only been doing it for a few years though," she said simply.  "Natasha's been doing it longer."

"She has," he agreed.  He considered it.  "After this, we're going to have to reevaluate her skills.  Make sure she's got a job she's good at.  One that'll use her skills and not piss her off.  I had to go through the same thing.  Barton?"

"He's stressed but finding things to do.  I get to tell him we have another leak here and one at Stark for his pleasure."  She smiled.  "The reporter had some information she probably shouldn't."

"I'll have Hill handle it."  She nodded, leaving him to make plans.  He called Barton in when Joyce had him come up to get the information on what had been leaked.  Barton walked into his office.  "Close it."  He frowned but did so.  "I saw your other wife earlier.  She seems a bit depressed."

"We're working on things, sir."

"Not about your relationship snafu she caused."  He looked at him.  "I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions by the way."  Clint nodded slowly.  Fury leaned back.  "We've had agents injured in the field and had to reevaluate them.  A few that were getting too old too."

"Dawn would hate it if you tortured me to see my tolerance, sir.  I remember my first one fairly well."

"Not that.  We assume those tolerances grow when you're in constant pain."  He stared at him.  "We can offer to reevaluate you both.  Find you new positions that use your skills.  You'd probably be mostly on surveillance duties."

"Which I don't mind doing if I can safely do so.  Or my old job if I can safely do it, sir."

"Which is why I hated that movie."

"Sir, it was happening long before the movie.  We saw the archive on the team at Stark.  They identified all of us, including Coulson, when we were in Miami with Dawn."

"Is her press attention helping or hurting that?" he asked.

"We would've said hurting it but then Pepper pointed out that she's taking a lot of it off her and us.  She's doing what Stark's doing for the rest of us.  Even when you force us to events, sir."

"I hadn't realized it was that bad then."  He considered it.  "So she's being a decoy?"

"She's being the shinier target.  That's one reason we hardly ever go out.  Which has caused a few problems but Dawn understands all that."

"Is that part of the problem you three had?"

"No.  We all have days of feeling too confined.  Dawn takes a long soak or goes to the spa.  I take a night in our range or the one at Stark.  Or a night in a bar.  Natasha totally broke hers and did something dumb."

"He's been shunned."

"Good.  Saves me from kicking his ass.  Did he make it back from being sent to Stark the other day?"

"I think so.  I saw him earlier on the way in.  I'll make sure he doesn't get sent again in case Summers vents on him."

"Dawn will act professionally perky, sir.  She'll even try to keep herself from cursing him to misfortune.  Me, I'll beat his ass."

Fury smirked slightly.  "That's one reason why we don't like married agents."

"Yeah, well, that's her shit, not mine.  I'm not sure what we're doing about it yet, sir.  We've been talking."

"Summers told me that a reporter spotted you last night."

"Nosy shits," he muttered.  "Yes, sir.  The ladies had been talking and Dawn's somehow decided it's her fault."

"That figures.  She's a sensitive young woman.  I wasn't sure you two would make it, much less you three."

"No, she's mine.  Even if I wasn't in her head, she'd be mine. She understands all too well.  I'd like her to quit having to handle some things but that's the sort of girl she is."  He shifted uncomfortably.  "Anything else to note, sir?"

"You have planned leave coming up?"

"Stark wants her to check his house in Vail.  She's taking a long weekend there away from the kids."

"You took the kids on vacation?"

"The twins.  Callia and Liz were sat by Grandma.  Callia gets to come next year."

"I guess that's normal."  He shrugged.  "I don't have kids."  He looked at him.

"We've been talking about it.  It probably won't be in the next few weeks."

"That's good," Fury decided.  "It'd only complicate things if she got pregnant to keep you with her."

"Sir, she's more likely to get pregnant because it'd let her keep part of us if we left her," he said quietly.  "Not to keep me there."

Fury grimaced.  "I thought she was more steady than that."

"She is but everyone's got issues.  You don't sit home waiting on the returning hero without worrying they won't come home that one time."

"I guess."  He shifted some.  "Do you want to be reevaluated?"

He considered it then nodded.  "Let me finish ferreting out these leaks, sir.  Before they hurt the kids."

"That's fine.  Hill?"  She came to the doorway.  "When Romanoff gets back, reevaluate them like you would an injured agent."

"I can do that, sir.  I've already done some."  She looked at Clint.  "Do the psych profile this week."

"Must I?"

She smirked and nodded.  "Yes, you must."  She walked off.

"Her being pregnant is making her mean," Clint complained.

Fury smirked.  "She's always been mean, Barton."

"Not like that, sir."  He walked off, going to make that appointment.  Best to get it over with.


Dawn came back from her doctor's appointment quiet.  It had been a late one so she got to come right home.   Clint looked at her.  "What happened?  Did you get bad news from the girl doctor?"

"Didn't go to the GYN."  She put down her bag and her jacket, hanging it up and coming over.  He automatically gave her a hug.  "Thanks."

"What sort of doctor did you go see if you didn't go see the girl doctor?"

She shrugged.  "It was mostly good news.  Just a bit tired."

He pushed her back some.  "I knew you were talking about it with your mom.  Is she sick again?  She's been really tired recently."  Dawn never hid things from him.  Unless it was huge.  "Is she going back in the hospital?"

"No.  Neither am I."  She leaned on the counter.  "It was a predictive test, Clint, not a check up sort of test."

"Predictive for what?"  This was like pulling splinters from his mouth so it was probably a bad thing.  Which made him realize why.  "You went to see how likely it was that you'd end up in your mom's former bed."

She nodded.  "I did."

"You didn't tell us?  We would've went with you."

"It's not totally accurate.  It's about eighty percent accurate."

"That's still pretty accurate.  You can qualify for the CIA with range scores in that percentile."  He stared her down, moving to pin her against the counter.  "Why didn't you tell us?"

"I didn't want you guys to worry."

"Isn't that part of the job description under 'husband'?"

"If it was a huge chance, I'd have told you tonight."

"I would've went with you."

"I didn't want to worry you two."

"Okay, still bad but I understand that urge.  I've had a few things I didn't want to worry you two about."  He stared at her.  "Though I still wanted to help you worry.  That's what your guy's supposed to do if he's not a shithead.  Which I'm not."

"I know you're not."  She stroked over his cheek with a smile.  "It's all right."

"It was that bad?"

"Having cancer in the family raises the overall risk, but I'm doing a lot of things that are lowering it."

"Your mom's was caused."

"We went looking recently, because Bruce wasn't sure why it showed up as a tumor instead of something else.  Really, the first dose of serum should've killed her."  Clint shuddered.  "But it didn't."

"Who else had it?"

"Mom's half-sister that she never talked to after she left home died of breast cancer.  My great aunt, the one that was in the Raven suit?  She died of cervical cancer."

"That's farther back."

"Buffy's journal said that right before she got pregnant with Sean she went to get a check up and they found a small polyp on her cervix," she said quietly.  He slumped, staring at her.  "Mom didn't know either.  That one, we can argue the slayer wasn't meant to be fertile and it was making sure of it.  Buffy was at a really old age for any given slayer.  Most of them didn't make it to eighteen."

"So Hylal had super warrior sperm," he said, holding in the urge to throw a fit.  "We found this out when?"

"Last week.  Bruce went looking before it.  He's the one that set me up with the appointment when I asked him about how good the predictive nature was."

He shifted slightly closer, pressing her against the counter.  "I still wanted to know so I could be there, Dawn," he said quietly.  "How bad did the odds come up?"

"Sixty percent chance, give or take twenty percent error," she said quietly.  "But he did say I'm doing everything I can to lower my risk.  He said it'd most likely show up as breast and cervical cancer instead of something more potent like Mom's."  She swallowed.  "He did say that me getting pregnant in the next few years was a great thing."


"Because having a child lowers your risk of certain cancers by almost half."  She smiled.  "So we're cleared for that.  He thought it wouldn't be an early onset one, like one of the kids at Bob's hospital."

"The nurse told me about you mentoring some of the sick kids there," he said quietly.  "Which again, I would've helped you with."

"When did you talk to them?"

"They called to tell me you were really upset that a kid you were mentoring didn't make it.  That I should probably just let you vent for a bit."

Dawn nodded.  "She had some freakishly early onset of breast cancer.  Most early onset is in the late twenties, early thirties.  She was fifteen.  I nearly didn't come home that night.  I sat with her foster mom and her."  He cuddled her.  "Thanks."

"It's hard watching Bob be that sick," he said quietly.  "I would've helped."

She looked up at him, smiling sadly.  "Sometimes you need to talk to someone who's sat in the seat beside the bed.  A few of the kids I sit with weekly don't have anyone else.  Though I've seen Bob a few times when you couldn't too."

"He told me you were really neat and kinda sneaky since you got them all cake."  She smiled.  "Even if it was sugar free, fat free, healthy cake."

"It was but they needed it."  She gave him a squeeze and got one back.  "I'm okay.  We're doing the right things.  Our diets aren't too badly tipped toward adding to the risk.  He said I've been really sensible and not gone overboard, even though I had no idea that everyone else in the family apparently had cancer at some point.  Then again, neither did Mom."  She sighed.  "It does mean I get to keep going to the GYN every year."

"Don't most women?"

"Um, no, most women by current standards can go every other year or every three years depending on which study you look at and set of guidelines you listen to.  I go every year because of problems and that fertility meds I got given."

"Oh.  Interesting.  I didn't know that's why."  He kissed her on the forehead, making her grin.  "But we're good?"

"We're good.  He did a baseline scan of my whole body.  He said he couldn't find a single enlarged anything, no odd spots, nothing like that.  Those I get every five years unless there's a problem.  At forty I do it every other year."

"Good to plan for."

"He said I did good not stressing too hard over it and not making myself sick with worry and stress, but I was sensible."

"I like that you're sensible."  She cuddled him.  "I still would've went."

"Why make us both worry about something preventative?" she asked from his shoulder.

"Because I wanted to worry with you."

She looked up at him.  "If you had known and been on a mission, you could've lost your concentration."

"Point," he admitted.  "But not a great one.  I can push back worries while I'm in the field, Dawn."

"I got warned that if I ever distracted you again, Fury was going to skin my ass."

"I'll have a talk with him."

"No, it was Maria, not Fury."

"I'll be having a talk with her anyway."  He kissed her.  "I'm making that pasta and meat thing."  She smiled, moving to wash her hands and help him.  "So, getting pregnant would help reduce your risk?"

She smiled.  "If I wasn't in a relationship I might've already headed for a sperm bank.  But I'm in one and it's not time yet."  He grinned and nodded.  "He said before thirty so you have eight years and a few months."

"I do, yeah.  It won't be that long."  She laughed and hugged him again then got back to chopping vegetables for him.  He considered things privately.  It was worrisome but not too bad.  Something good to know so they could plan for future checkups but nothing to stress over.  Though she still should've told him.  Dawn had the bad habit of hiding injuries.  Which they all hated - him, Natasha, the family, the other Avengers.  Everyone who knew Dawn hated that she hid injuries.

Dawn's phone rang and she looked at the alert, turning on the tv to stare at it.  Clint growled at the idiot supposed newsperson.

"That'll be handled," Dawn assured him.


Dawn smiled at the press statement the next morning in front of the tower.  "People."  They stared at her and quit chatting.  "First, let's start off with the idiot last night.  I know he pretends to be one of you."  That got a few laughs.  She held up a picture.  "This is him, right?"  They all nodded.  "We all know my nieces are twelve?"  They all nodded and smiled.  "Clint's never made a move on anyone underage; even when he was seventeen he was sleeping with older women.  I was of age when we got together.

"He keeps nagging the twins to put on shirts because their mom let them run around pretty much half-naked on Asgard.  This guy....  He's leering at my twelve-year-old nieces.  So is him calling my husband a pedophile for giving a damn about a kid that's not his a smoke screen?"  She smiled at them.  "Yes, Clint does visit a child on the oncology ward at the Children's Hospital.  He asked for Clint to visit through Make A Wish.  There was a slight snafu thanks to someone in SHIELD believing that agents didn't like to do things like that. 

"When Clint heard, he visited.  He encouraged.  He's visited a number of times to talk to Bob and his mom.  I've talked to Bob and his mom, including about this issue.  Bob's a sweet boy who adores Clint and wants to someday be an olympic archer if he makes it through this and into remission.  I don't think anyone who's ever visited a sick kid ever did it because they thought a cancer patient was hot."  A few shuddered. 

"Certainly Clint didn't.  He's encouraged Bob to get better, and the last time I saw him, he was heading home for a while.  Pending new scans.  I personally mentor some kids on the same oncology floor.  I don't do it because I like seeing them in pain or anything but because they need it. They need someone who's sat in that chair with another patient and watched some of the worst things a human body can go through happen repeatedly. 

"So can you tell your not-quite-a-newsperson coworker to please shut his ass up?" she asked one directly.  "Because, he doesn't know what he's talking about and he's the one leering at underage girls.  Even in a shirt that has their age on it."  She switched pictures with a smile.  "They got them on vacation because of some stupid drunk American fratboy fucks."

One reporter raised her hand.  "First, that's a really cute shirt and very good as a warning."

"They have another one that says if they're touched, their aunt's going to destroy whoever does it and humanity."  She smiled sweetly.  "I nearly got a TSA screener for groping."

The reporters all winced.  That one smiled.  "You mentor children on an oncology ward?"

"And their families if they have one.  Three of the kids I mentor are in foster care."  The reporter slumped.  "They're all in group homes so they have friends but no one older they can talk to.  Group therapy for cancer patients is great sometimes, but sometimes you need someone to hold you while you cry.  Or when you're begging to make the pain from the meds stop.  Sometimes the parents need the same sort of comfort and knowing it'll hopefully come out right, that they made the right decision to fight it. 

"That putting their kids through having poison shot into their veins to kill each and every living cell for a few days is worth it.  That irradiating them in a way that would kill them if they didn't have it targeted on a cancerous tumor is worth it.  I've always donated time at whatever hospital my mother was in.  Others needed the same sort of comfort she did and didn't always have someone there." 

She wiped off a cheek.  "Sorry, but a bit of an emotional topic and not why I'm talking to you guys."  She calmed herself down.  "His second claim, that I'm 'ruining' the Avengers.  I'd like him to explain to me how I'm doing that?  By making sure Stark eats regularly?  By helping take care of his daughter - my other niece?  By helping Doctor Banner whenever he needs a meditation helper?  By helping the others spar sometimes? I'd like him to give examples.  Could you ask him nicely to do that?" she asked his coworker.

"I don't talk to the man," she quipped.  "He's a bigot."

"Yeah, we know.  Him and his cohost raised fifty grand to put out a contract on Captain Rogers that was attempted in while we were on vacation in Tobago.  That's why I took down that assassin."

"The police did," one of the cameramen said.

Another reporter shook her head.  "No, Dawn did.  She spotted it, she shot him in the side, and she pounced him.  Then she knew him?"

"My old chemistry partner in high school.  Turns out he had been taught by one of Clint's early teachers."  She smiled.  "We caught up and I made sure he wasn't going to do it again and he was really damn sorry.  Because it looked a shitload like he was aiming at my nieces."  The group laughed nervously.  "Oh, I would've been messy with him.  I might've even kept him as human and used him in some sort of sacrificial blood protection rite that was used by the Aztecs or Mayans.  I might've turned him into something and used him in a more traditional version though."  She smiled.  "The Druids might've appreciated that."  A few snickered.  "But it's a moot point.  Clint pulled me off him.  I'm sure he's never going to come near my family again."

One reporter raised her hand.  "How is your mother?  She's looked tired."

"All the things with Buffy and Hylal dying on Asgard has gotten to her a bit.  She's still showing as cancer free.  She had a scan about a month ago."  She grinned.  "Which we love.  While we were on vacation she watched Callia and Liz.  And all Callia's pets."  The reporters snickered.  "They were very good for Mom.  One kept turning off her alarm clock but waking her up on time.  I'm told Callia tuned up their car twice in one day because she was bored.  Then she helped Bruce paint the basement, cut the grass, plant some flowers and vegetable seeds for later on, so they could sprout indoors, and then she helped Mom sort all the clothes in the house and do laundry.  While Liz laughed her butt off on the couch and the living room floor."

"Is Callia ADHD?" one of the cameramen asked.

"No, she's a genius.  They're easily bored."  He shuddered.  She smiled.  "I'm already starting to hoard puzzles and things for my future kids."

"Are the twins going to normal school?"

"No.  Not at this point.  We figured it'd be too huge of a culture shock.  Asgard's a non electric using plane."  They all groaned.  She grinned.  "But Diana's already fantastic with computers.  Artemis is helping Clint clean weapons today while Diana's helping Tara grocery shop with the twins.  Because Tara's twins actually listen to those two.  They don't listen to anyone else but they listen to the girls.  They're studying with Callia.  Buffy got them that far."

"How are they twelve?" one of the reporters asked.

"Asgard's time runs faster.  It runs two weeks to one of our days."

"OH!"  She nodded.  "So Callia's baby brother Sean?"

"He's just about to turn fourteen in a few days.  He was four months when Buffy got pregnant.  He's getting a huge birthday present. Including his own bow and sword."  She grinned.  "He decided he didn't want to stay here, he wanted to go finish his warrior training with one we know.  He's highly overprotected and anyone who hits on Sean gets smacked down by them.  He comes home each weekend."

"What's Pepper having this time?" she asked.

"Ask Pepper."

"Fine.  Does she know?  I know she chose not to last time."

"She did and Callia announced it over the PA system in the tower."

"So she's happy?"

"She's happy with any sibling but she's bounding around happily about it."  The reporters smiled at her.  "Any other questions about this putz and his supposed viewpoint?  By the way, who pays him for his viewpoint?  Because his advertisers don't pay him directly and he keeps talking about 'his people'.  Is he an alien too?"  The crowd laughed as they dispersed.  "Have a happier day, people."  She walked back inside.

Tony smirked from her desk.  "Yes, he is."

"Clearly from the planet Dumbass."  She tipped her chair up to get it back.  "You couldn't watch from the office?"

"Pepper's in there having a mood swing on our current information leak."

"Wonderful.  Can I have one next?"

He looked at her.  "Did it finally happen?"

"No, I made sure it wouldn't happen in reaction to all this going on."  She pushed her hair back over her shoulder.  "Because I scared myself with that very bad instinct."

He nodded.  "That's not the reason to have a kid.  You have one to drive you nuts."

"I have a cat for that."  She grinned.  "I'm fully capable but I took a shot before we went on vacation."

"That's a good idea," he said, patting her on the head.  "You got an apology from someone in Russian."

She looked at that letter, smiling.  "Aww, one of the other's sons wrote me to apologize for his father's rudeness."  She typed out a nice response and sent it in the outgoing mail.  The door opened and the two outer assistants walked off crying.  Dawn frowned at Tony, who nodded.  "I would not have expected that with how long they've been with us," she said quietly.

"They didn't do much, they were the lesser source.  The greater was in maintenance."  He walked in there.  Pepper was wiping her cheeks off.  "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine.  Thank you, Tony.  How did it go?"

"Dawn made them laugh a bit, answered a few questions, ducked the one on what you're carrying, and asked if the idiot was an alien."

"Yes he is, from the planet Puritan."

"Who was found to be leering at the twins, even in their t-shirts."  He smirked.

"Oooh.  That's good.  He can't say he didn't know."

"Very true."  He kissed her and walked off happier.  Dawn was handling things and not looking worried.  So apparently whatever she had left a half-hour early for the day before had went well.  He came back to stare at her.  "What appointment did you have yesterday?  Interview?"

"Predictive analysis."

"Like a test?"

"That too."  She looked up.  "A doctor Bruce knows."

"Oh.  Okay."  He left again.  If Bruce knew them they probably weren't quacks or after Dawn.

Dawn smiled, getting back to work.  She sent in the first draft of the position opening for the two assistants with the few memos that needed to be done this week.

Pepper laughed.  "I like how you said they had to put up with all the Starks," she called.

"They will.  Sometimes that is the deciding factor."

"Yeah, it can be."


Clint sat down across from Bruce at the table in the caf.  He was having some danish and coffee.  Clint leaned his arms on the table and stared at him.  "Explain how this predictive thing works?"

"It takes into account what we know about genetic history influencing cancer rates plus lifestyle choices and combines them mathematically.  Think of it like a points system.  Part of it is based on family history and some is based on things like if you smoke, if you eat too much red meat, all that."

"Okay.  Dawn said it had a twenty percent margin of error?"

"There's always cases that none of that cover.  Joyce's was a good example.  That serum should've killed her, not turned into a brain tumor.  If it had turned into a tumor, it should've turned into a uterine one instead or something like that by family history."  Clint nodded at that, understanding it.  "There's other odd causes like things in the water and the energy in Sunnydale being a factor.  We're pretty sure that and her family history is why it manifested as a tumor and the brain tumor part was mostly from the energy warping out there."

"Which Dawn doesn't show."

"Most of the time.  She has a tiny bit stored.  It probably wasn't too much of a score on her lifestyle choices side.  What did it come out?"

"Sixty," he said quietly.

"Then that's pretty even with her chances of having a heart attack due to the latest Avengers issue that she has to help with."  He smiled.  "It's not a certainty, Clint.  It's like saying you have a sixty percent chance of ripping your shoulder one day because your bow's being held wrong due to your position."

"Been there, done that," he admitted.  "Fixed that quickly.  Never did it again."

"How unusual was that for you?"

"Very.  I was basically hanging off a building," he said.  "She said not to worry, and she didn't tell us so we wouldn't worry."

Bruce nodded.  "I didn't know she was thinking about it until she brought up the theory in a news story."  Clint shook his head.  "It's something she should worry about.  Any child of a cancer patient should.  Thankfully, Dawn doesn't take it too far and I'm pretty sure she's done some diet things to you all based on what Joyce's doctors suggested.  They don't want repeat business or generational business, Clint.  Don't stress over that.  We'd all be happier if it was under ten percent but even at the highest option, with her family history it'll probably be breast or cervical cancer, which are easily treated if caught early.  They both have really high survival rates."

"I don't want Dawn to have to go through that."

"We never want our loved ones to go through something like that.  I'm praying to every single healing God I've ever heard of, even though I don't really have faith, that Joyce never has to go back there.  That Dawn and the grandkids don't either.  Though, the twins need the HPV vaccine."

"I let Dawn handle the shot things."  He glanced around then at him.  There were a few nosy people trying to listen in.  "Should I worry more in ten years?"

"Probably not.  By then we'll have new treatments.  They might even be easier on the body.  Dawn nags the medical research labs if she hears they're working on cancer treatments.  They all understand why, and most of them have family that went through the same thing.  It gives them someone to talk to about that stuff.  A few get really pissed off at her for it and their coworkers point out that Dawn had to sit there for three years with Joyce.  That anything that could've made that easier is a great thing.  She's their own personal cheerleader like she is for Andrew and Jonathan."

"I know she does that with them and they're friends."  He slumped some.  "I'm not sure how to tell Natasha.  With the way she acted because Dawn had an accidental needle stick during an attack, I'm not sure if I should."

"What?" Bruce asked, frowning.

"That one attack on the building?  The guy in the garage that Dawn had to handle had a needle in his pocket full of plasma."

"With...." Bruce asked.

"Hep B."

Bruce winced.  "She got the vaccine?"

"Then.  They're doing making sure blood work for years.  Nat kinda freaked out and didn't want to touch Dawn."

"Then I wouldn't tell her.  I don't know why she would.  I've seen some pretty bad effects from it but that'd never happen in a first world country."

"I know.  I pointed that out."  Bruce smiled.  "It's come out clear anyway, Doc."

"That's great.  I'm sure her doctors are watching it anyway."  Clint nodded.  "Don't tell her unless she asks."

"I can do that."  He looked around again.  "You can come hug us, Callia."  She smiled from where she was watching them.  They did get hugs and she went back to her table with her study guide and tablet.  "The reporters wanted to know why Joyce was tired."

"She's not used to having the kids over."  He smiled.  "We handled it though.  They were excellent for us."

"That's good.  The twins had fun.  Dawn took them on a rain forest hike."

"That's good for them.  They're used to forests."

"They kept pulling Tony and Steve into the ocean with them," Clint said with a grin.  "And into the lake when we spent a few days at the houses.  Dawn got them their own versions of the smiley face bikinis.  They're more covering but Steve nearly flipped out."

"I nearly flipped out when I saw Dawn's," he complained.

"You?" he snorted.  "Shit, Doc, I nearly slammed my dick into the elevator's doors."  Bruce cackled.  "She was a horrible dick tease back then."

"She still is, Barton, but now you're enjoying her doing it to others."

"Sometimes, yeah."  He grinned.  "With Nat on assignment we need to go out tonight.  Her birthday's soon."

"It's in three months."

"We usually remember the week after."

"That's a bad thing.  What did you guys do for yours?"

"Doc, do you really want those details?" he asked with a grin, trying hard not to blush.

"Probably not but Joyce would cackle."  He sipped his coffee.  "She loves it when Dawn's naughty."

"Dawn's very naughty.  Though we do enjoy it when there's not drug or arms dealers around to help us appreciate it."

"The only arms dealer around here is the old Tony Stark," Bruce shot back.  "And he helped turn her into that flirty tease."

"Yeah, he did a great job."  He shook his head quickly, sending Dawn a thought.  She sent him one about something she had just gotten the other day.  He grinned.  "She even picked up a new dress for it."

"Figures.  Dawn's always got an outfit for any occasion."

"Have you seen our bedroom?  I get *a* closet.  Nat refuses to fight Dawn for closet space so she uses her own.  I have some things up in mine so I don't have to look at any of the suits I own.  Dawn has a *wall* of closets.  Which the cat loves to lounge in."

"I wondered why he huffed at ours having shoes on the floor."  He finished his danish.  "Have fun."

"I'll try."  Bruce smiled and hugged Callia on his way to his lab.  Clint went to the Avengers tower complex to get in some training time.  He might need it later.


Clint came down from his apartment in his favorite worn jeans.  They were soft and clung to his every move.  He had on his favorite sleeveless t-shirt.  He had his sunglasses on his collar for now because it was still a bit bright outside.  Dawn was doing her hair.  He leaned on the doorframe.  "Is this going to take forever?"

"Perfection only takes me fifteen minutes and it's only been four."  She looked at him and blinked.  "Huh," she said, smiling at him.  He grinned back.  "Am I wearing something new and totally hot or do you want me to look sexy?"

"Can you do both?"

"Maybe."  She finished her hair curling and put aside the iron once it was unplugged.  She shook her hair then sprayed it lightly.  She got up and got into the closet, taking her makeup bag to the bathroom with her.  She came out in a silver dress that was dipping low in front but slid over her breasts like it was clinging to them for mercy.  It hit every single dip of her body.  She stepped into her black heels and bent over to buckle them.  She smiled at Clint's moan.  She walked over to him, taking a kiss.  "You smell great."

He smiled.  "I don't often wear it but I do have aftershave."  He looked her over.  "We're going to have a riot to get you back."

She stroked her nails up his arm.  "You're more than good enough to rescue me."  He smiled.  "I can change if you want.  I have another dress.  It's in the closet from Rio though."

He considered it then walked over to look in there.  He spotted the new black dress.  What there was of it.  He closed the door and walked back.  "No, that would cause a riot for other reasons."  He put on his sunglasses.  "Phone?"

"Nope.  You?"

"No."  They left after a quick pet of the pouty cat.  Loki liked them to sit and watch tv with him.  Dawn and Clint called a cab and walked out to get it.  The few paps out there gaped in awe.  He smirked at them.  "Bite me.  She's still mine."  He let her into the car then climbed in.  She crossed her legs.  The hem of her skirt was high enough up if he wanted to bend to look he could probably get flashes of her panties.  He rested a hand on her knee, smiling at the pure, clean skin.  "Nair?" he guessed.



"Sugaring."  She smiled.  "Spa time with Pepper."  He moaned.  She winked.  "Because you're a good boy."

"Yes I am."  He paid for the cab and got them out.  The bouncers at the club he had picked stared and pointed at the VIP line.  Clint smiled and led her to that.  They got inside almost instantly.  He looked at them, putting his sunglasses on his collar again.  "You definitely look hot."

"Dear, I pale next to you.  All the girls in here are staring at you."

"Nah, a few are staring at you and doubting their sexuality."  She giggled and led him onto the floor.  It was good to relax and let things go.  The crowd on the floor didn't care who they were.  A few tried to flirt with them but gave up when Dawn growled.  Especially at the guys who wanted Clint.  Clint smirked at her.  "Nice growl, Princess."

She stroked over his stomach.  "I learned from the master."  He pulled her closer to kiss and they went back to dancing before they got tossed out for dance floor PDA.  They didn't need that reported in the papers.  Dawn got them a drink and he tasted it then looked at it.  "What's that?"

"A God of Thunder.  They make a whole line but yours is weirdly purple."

"Really?"  She nodded.  He took her to the bar to try them all.  The Coulson martini-like drink made his head spin.  The bartender was looking really pleased.  They sipped each other's drinks and Clint praised them.  He texted that to Stark.  He was the more experienced drinker.  The bartender smiled at that compliment and the recommendation for Stark to come in.  They went back onto the floor with Dawn's usual fruity slushy drink, only with alcohol this time.  They were relaxed and it was good.  Even if someone did want to snatch Dawn from him. 

Clint growled and the guy slowly backed off, hands up.  "Sorry, man.  Just thought she was hot.  Didn't recognize you, sir."  He turned and fled back to his friends.

Dawn smiled at him.  "Such a growl," she teased, hissing it in his ear over the music.  "Do you bark on command?"

He smirked evilly at her.  "You'll have to find out but I am house trained."

She laughed before kissing him.  "Yes, you definitely are.  More than I am."   They strolled over to a table and got comfy.  Dawn was nearly in his lap.  The booth was a bit dark.  She gave him a proper kiss.  He moaned into it, running his hands into her hair.  The spray didn't make it sticky or stiff.  She winked at him.  "Are you going to keep me out past bedtime?"

"Yes, I am.  I say we close down the club."

"I could like that."  She took another kiss then stood up.  "Let me go clean up."

He smirked, lounging there.  "I'd offer but we're in public."

She leaned down to kiss him.  "I'll let you show me some hidden spots later."  He smirked with a wink.  She strolled off to the bathroom to clean up and relieve some tension, making sure he could feel it.  He was clearly turned on by the time she finished herself off.  She cleaned up and washed her hands, coming out to slide in next to him again.  He picked up her fingers to lick.  She smiled.  "I washed them."

"I saw but still some taste there."  He winked.  "Dance?"

"Yes please.  You have great moves."  He pulled her up and out there.  Dawn pulled out all her club moves and some she had learned back when she was taking pole dancing lessons for PE.  The DJ was clearly promoting them all being horny by his music choices.  Dawn was definitely turning him on and making it so he could barely walk.  "You need to cure mine next," he said in her ear.

She leaned back against his stomach.  "If we weren't in public."

He smiled.  "I might like that."  He took her outside, taking her up the street.  There was a perfect spot nearby.  On top of a building but it had a pretty garden area that no one ever used.  Easily gotten to from the hotel next door.  He got them up there and checked then kissed her.  She moaned into his mouth, teasing his stomach with her nails.  "More," he ordered.

"So demanding tonight," she teased with a grin.  "Do I hear growling?"

"You hear more than a tiny growl." 

She smiled and kissed him, hopping up to wrap herself around his waist.  "How did you want me to cure that stress, Clint?"  She nibbled on his bottom lip then kissed him with tongue.

"I'll invade you later.  For now, let's keep it at the 'he'll be able to walk later' level."  She smiled and slid down him to her knees, taking his cock out to suck.  He hissed as she inhaled him, tensing up.  "You do that wonderfully, Dawn."

"You did teach me how to best do you."  She nibbled on the side of it then the head, looking up at him.  He shifted his stance.  It was a clear challenge to knock him on his ass with the blow job of the century.  Which she had practiced for.  She slowly made her way down his shaft, moaning on the way down.  He shivered, grabbing the planter behind him to hold onto.  She had him weak kneed, made him shake and shiver, then finally let him come with a groan of need.  She licked all over him before tucking him back in and kissing it before doing back up his zipper carefully.  She stroked up his side, letting him help her up.  She kissed him hard and deep.  "I expect you to reciprocate later."

"My tongue is at your command, Princess."  He kissed her again.  "Needy?" he teased.

"Hell yes.  Can I have a taste of what's to come?"

"I suppose I can."  He pulled her against him and his fingers found their way under her skirt to tease her.  She was damp and he could already feel her clit being a bit enlarged.  He teased it, making her moan and clutch him.  "My evil little tease."

She smiled at him.  "You like me like this."

"I love you like this and your domesticated side, Princess."  He kissed her, muffling her loud reactions as he went after her clit in earnest.  She moaned loudly, her head going back to give him access to her throat.  "Shhh," he hissed in her ear.  "I don't want anyone else to watch me doing this.  Maybe if we were in a great suite tonight, I'd be tonguing you in front of the windows, but not up here."  She shivered and nodded, biting his throat to muffle herself.  He groaned but worked her harder until she came.  He licked off his fingers.  Something was different.  "Dawn, shot?"

"Huh?"  She pulled her head up to smile at him.  "I had one."

"You don't taste like you did a few days ago."

"Oh, the blessing rite," she said with a grin.  "Tara had me help her with one."

"Would that have detoxed that?"

"Probably not fully.  I'd be on my last month."

"Huh."  He kissed her.  "Still tasty, no matter what."  She smiled and took another kiss then licked off his fingers.  "My treat, Dawn."  He cleaned himself up.  "Want another club?"


"Pick," he offered.  She considered it then hissed in his ear, making him tense up.  "You sure?  That's a bit more hardcore."

"It has a great dance floor and no one will try to steal me there."

"No, they wouldn't dare."  He took her back to the hotel and down to catch a cab from the doorman.  Who gave them an odd look.  He smiled.  "Going out to club."  He let Dawn get in then got in, telling the cabby the address.  He drove off and Clint stroked over Dawn's knee.  They got to the club and the DJ was playing a song he didn't know but Dawn could sing to him.  It was _Bad Girlfriend_ by Theory of a Deadman as he found out.  It was overtly sexy and described Dawn very well.  The others in the club were staring jealously but he had the only Dawn there was. 

Any unauthorized copies would be ended to make sure he owned the only one.


Dawn and Clint walked into Stark tower the next morning, making the security team gape in awe.  "Don't ask."  She signed them in and went up to her desk.  She walked into the office.

"That's not really appropriate," Pepper complained.  "We have an interview here later, Dawn."

"Our building has a gas leak, Pepper.  Thankfully Phil has our cat.  I can't get in to change.  Do you have a jacket?  All I have is this and some sparring clothes."

Pepper blinked.  "Nothing of mine will fit you."  She looked at Clint then at Dawn again.  "Have fun at the club?"

Dawn grinned.  "It was the best night we've had in quite a while."  She winked at Clint then grinned at Pepper.  "Want me to change into a leotard?"

"No.  Not in the least."  Clint snickered. "Tony?" she called.  JARVIS summoned him for her.  He walked in with Steve, stopping cold when he saw Clint.  He looked at Dawn and his mouth flopped open slightly until Steve tipped his chin up.  "Do you have a jacket she can borrow?" Pepper asked with a smile.

"Won't help," he moaned.  "I heard about the gas leak."

"Phil got the pets and everyone out."  She shrugged.  "We were out, boss."

"They won't let us in to get clothes," Clint said.

"I think that's worse than the pink dress that made you look recently debauched and the black dress that made you look hot."  Tony swallowed.  "I'm not sure if I have a jacket or not.  Nothing in your locker?"

"No.  I took it home to change out," Dawn said.  "I was going to bring it in today after I got the dry cleaning back, boss."

"We might have to go to a hotel tonight," Clint said.

"None of the usual stores are open for an hour or more," Pepper said, checking the time.  "We need to do something.  It's a recorded interview."

"I don't have time to find something that'll fit right without going too slinky," Dawn reminded her.  "Unless it's either real clingy, real flowing, or really tight, it'll look bad.  I was going to wear the blue suit today."

"Dry cleaners?" Tony suggested.

"All at home.  I picked it up last night," Clint said.  "I had no idea that we spend nearly eight hundred a month on laundry."

"Only when I don't send out things immediately.  Then we only spend about three," Dawn quipped then kissed him with a smile.  "Thank you."

"Welcome."  He looked at them.  "So...."  The reporter came off the elevator.

Dawn smiled.  "We were clubbing when we were told about the gas leak at our building.  Excuse my naughty outfit.  I wore it for Clint."

The reporter stared at her.  "I...  I never really thought women were all that sexy before."  Dawn blushed.  "I can not put you on air, Dawn."

"Thank you."  She gave her a quick hug.  "I'll find something for the part after lunch?"

"That'd be fine," Pepper agreed happily.  "Barton, it's to be officey, not slutty."

"I like the dress, even if it's not fit for the office."  He grinned.  "She had something more naughty in there but this was more subtle."

Tony cleared his throat.  "She had something less subtle than the dress that makes her look like the goddess of sexual fantasies?"  Pepper swatted him.  "She does!"

Dawn grinned at him.  "Thanks, boss.  If I get appointed to a higher office I'll suggest that one."

"Dick tease," Tony complained, walking off.  "Go as soon as they open, Dawn."

"I can go now but it'll be the place I picked up that pink dress or the gear shop, boss.  The respectable stores don't open until ten.  Not my fault there's a gas leak."

"See if the gear shop has something," Pepper ordered.  Dawn took Clint back to her desk.  He could sit and guard her.  Well, lounge in the chair and look like an altar to a  sexual encounter that would make your body ascend while your mind ripped itself apart.

Dawn called over there.  "Gloria, Dawn Summers.  I heard about the gas leak.  No, we have a recorded interview and I was at the club."  She smiled.  "Please?  Something suit-ish?  Officey?  That might work if I can find a jacket.  Really?  Great.  Be there in twenty.  Yup, traveling time."  She hung up.  "They may have something, boss."

She walked off, Clint following like he was on a leash.  She came back to her desk and pulled out something, handing them to Clint.  "The Lotus from the other identity."  He grinned and took her to the garage to test drive it.  It was a sweet ride.  Dawn walked into the gear shop fifteen minutes later and Clint followed.  "Gloria?"  She came out of the back and stared, mouth slightly open.  "I need something better for the interview."

"Yeah, you do."

"She made the reporter want to be a lesbian," Clint teased with a grin.

"I'm bi, Barton, and I'd love to be between you two right now.  Damn me."  She went to the back.  "I have a version of your red one."

"I'd need a jacket," Dawn said, following her.  She paused at something.  "Not my size."

"Too matron for you anyway," Clint said.  He pointed.  "Is that in your size?"

She looked then at him.  "Clint, that's leather," she said dryly.  She smiled.  "Maybe tonight for dinner?"  She went into the back, blushing some.  There was a nice dress.  Princess seams and a slightly swingy skirt but it was sleeveless.  The only jacket they had wouldn't fit her.  Clint came in to hand her something and she moaned.  "I have that.  It's in purple and it's in the closet for the next event."  Clint stared at her.  She smiled.  "The new movie opening."

He groaned.  "You evil dick tease."

She smiled and blew a kiss.  "But you love me this way, baby."

"I do."  He put it back.  Dawn tried on something but it was too small in every way.  The swingy dress had to be it.  Dawn paired it with a belt and a headband to push back her hair.  Still no jacket.  Stockings and a new garter belt.  Clint popped the zit on her shoulder that had been covered up by the first dress's collar.  It looked nice but a bit casual.  Clint made her get the leather skirt and loose shirt too.  Dawn paid and they went back to the office.  Pepper came out to look her over.  "No jackets," Clint said.

"That's not formal but it's nice looking.  What's in the bag?"  He showed her and she blinked.  "No, no leather in the office.  Have fun at dinner though."   She went back in there.  "It's better."

The reporter looked and smiled.  "She does look nice and young in it.  Maybe if she combed her hair?"

Dawn smiled.  "I can figure that out later.  I have a bit of hairspray in it."  She finger combed it.  Clint helped, earning a blushing smile.  "You do that very well."

"Your hair's a mystery to many."  He winked.  She blushed harder and settled in to get back to work.  Jonathan came off the elevator.  "Does Andrew have a jacket that would fit Dawn?"

"No.  MB either.  She's got tiny shoulders.  Patty's got a flat chest so they wouldn't fit.  Sorry."  He looked at her.  "You look pretty."  She smiled at him.  "Saw a picture of you at the club though.  Can you please make MB and Patty quit talking about how lesbian sex is?"

"I'm sure they'd never do it," she said.

"I wouldn't care if they did as long as we knew.  Andrew and I would sit there with popcorn, Dawn.  We can't get anything done while they're talking about it!"

"MB's in her second trimester," Clint said.  "Everything's about that."

"Damn.  I heard stories.  Well, I guess Patty's going to hit that next month then."  He walked off to talk to the girls.  Maybe they'd work later.

Dawn and Clint shared a look.  Dawn shook her head.  "Sorry, Pepper."

"It's all right," she called back.  She looked up that picture.  There were two.  One of them dancing that made her start to really want Tony's tongue and another one of them kissing and yup, she seriously was in her second trimester.  Steve and Tony were getting pounced.  There was a bikini picture too and it was very hot.  She shut down the computer with a head shake.  "They got a picture from Tobago, Dawn.  The blue one."

Dawn leaned in there.  "Seriously?"  She nodded.  "Huh."  She sat up and grinned at Clint.  "That was after our SCUBA classes and trip."

"You know how."

"I wanted a refresher and to be with the twins."

"Good point.  Never know who's going to be a perv over those two.  Or Sean."  Dawn looked him up and showed him a picture.  "Yup, they're perving over him."  Dawn sent that link to John, that way he could rant at the reporters.

John sent back a message from Sean.  Dawn laughed.  "John said that Sean wants to go into my closet and cut up all the dresses.  That I'm too married to need them."

"Kid'll learn that even married people need some happy times."  He sent him a message and a slight threat to not even consider it.  He liked Dawn in pretty, flirty things.  Plus they were having a gas leak so if he made it into their house to please bring Dawn her blue suit.

Dawn grinned at him for that bit of possessive cyber growling.  She got back to work, having to cross her legs.  Clint was still so damn sexy, even a bit sweaty.  Maybe especially because he was a bit sweaty.  All she wanted to do was to climb into his lap and make him beg for mercy.  Her tiny lunch break was not going to be enough.  The quickie they'd have might let her make it through the rest of the day though.  She shifted so she couldn't see him smirking at her, which made him chuckle in a low, deep voice that sounded like sin to her ears.  She blushed bright red and looked at him.  "Quit," she mouthed.

He grinned.  "I'm not doing anything.  Just sitting here."

Thankfully the reporter decided Dawn was well enough dressed for the interview so she came to get her.  Clint watched from his seat, which made the reporter hot.  The cameraman kept slipping the view to him.  Until Dawn snapped and noted that filming Clint was a very bad idea.  He couldn't work with that much attention.  The cameraman pulled out a gun from the camera's base.  Clint was up and snapping his arm then sending him down to the floor while dislocating his shoulder.  A foot in his back and he was begging for mercy.  Dawn called SHIELD while Pepper calmed down.

Maria Hill walked off the elevator, looking at Clint.  "Damn."

He smiled.  "No you're not.  You're a good girl usually, Agent Hill."

"Not for that reason."  She stared him over.  Dawn cleared her throat and gave her a pointed look.  "Sorry but now and then I do miss guys."

Clint grinned.  "You lost your chance years ago, Hill."

"I'm seeing what a pity that is now."

"Just for that, we're having sex on our balcony if we can get back in," Dawn quipped.

"We can't tonight.  It'll be tomorrow."

"We can find a hotel room," Clint assured her.  She grinned at him.  Clint turned over the guy.  "Here, he tried to mar Dawn's favorite playtoy."

Hill whimpered.  "You two are in heat today."  She walked him off, not caring if he was in pain or not.

Tony came up the hall to check on Pepper.  "There is no sex in the building for anyone not named Stark or who is not a future Stark," he said bluntly.

"So you finally popped the question, boss?  I'll have to find a dress," Dawn quipped.  "Should I start researching wedding planners or are you going to go to Vegas or something?"

"I recommend Spain.  When we redid ours, it was on a beautiful beach," Clint said.  Dawn smiled and nodded he was right.  "Plus no huge, poufy dress like Buffy wore.  Not that I think Pepper would but still."

"Guys!" Pepper complained.  "Not in front of reporters!"

"Did he?" the reporter asked, looking awed at Stark.

"She turned me down last year," Tony told her.  "I'm waiting to pounce."  He grinned.  "I've already got something special designed for her and Steve.  Because it's inevitable that they'll give in."  He stared at her.

Pepper was in open-mouthed shock, making squeaky noises.  "Tony?" she squeaked.

He kissed her gently.  "Whenever you're ready to accept, Pepper.  It's in the safety deposit box so no one can get it."  He took another gentle kiss with a grin.  "Steve nearly sat on one of the cats when I showed him his."  He walked off, looking at Dawn.  "Better.  Still in heat."  He walked off shaking his head.  "You have a lunch, Summers."

"I know that, boss.  I haven't pounced him yet."

"Pity," Clint whispered mentally.  "I'd love that."  She gave him a look but smiled.  "Pepper would lose her mind but I'd make sure you were good and happy by the time I got done with you.  Though you might need a new desk chair."

She went bright red and shook her head.  "One of the suites maybe but not at my desk," she sent back across their bond.  "I'd never do that to either boss."

"If you're sure."

Dawn looked at him.  "Not really a good place anyway.  Anyone could walk off the elevator," she said out loud.

He grinned.  "Too true."  He settled in after a stretch.  He felt her reaction and grinned more brightly, but put on his sunglasses because the reporter was coming back out there.

"Are you two going to work on the whole pregnancy thing?" the reporter asked with a smile.

Dawn grinned back.  "We're not against it happening.  Whenever it happens it does.  I've had two very early miscarriages.  Both under a month along."

"You poor thing."  She patted her on the shoulder.  "Maybe this next one will take."

"Whenever it happens it will," Clint assured her.  "We're not doing anything special to make sure of it.  That way defeats the happiness of the sex."

"It does," she agreed.  "You always seem to have it happen after you quit trying."  She smiled and went back to Pepper.

"You did?" Pepper called.

"Xander realized it," she called back.  "I had myself checked and all that afterward, Pepper."

"Good."  She smiled.  "Dawn's so great to the kids.  She's going to make an excellent mother."

"I've seen her being a very good aunt to Callia and the twins.  Their brother?"

"He's on Atlantis.  He wanted to train with Ronon.  He comes home each weekend to be fussed over by the girls and his oldest sister."

"That's sweet.  How old is he?"

"Just about a year older than the twins.  He was four months old when Buffy got pregnant with the twins."

"Awww.  Is he doing anything special for his birthday?"

"No, he refused to let me host anything, even a family dinner," Dawn called.

"Probably trying to be too tough."  Dawn pulled up a picture and sent it to Pepper, who showed her.  "Wow.  Asgard does a kid good."

"Asgardians get married usually at sixteen but we've made sure they know they're to be over eighteen before they even consider it," Pepper said with a grin.  "The twins especially with how many people have become perverted over them.  It was fun watching Dawn shoo them off the girls but tiring."

"I bet.  I saw Dawn's 'please quit offering them modeling jobs' rant on her livejournal."

Pepper nodded.  "We really do want people to quit offering them that sort of spectacle.  The girls need to grow up well-rounded.  Not just objects of staring.  They deserve better."  She smiled.  "They're all very bright children.  Sean doesn't get away with educational slacking either."  Dawn cackled.  "She makes sure of it."

Dawn strolled in.  "Sean's being mentored by Dr. McKay himself for educational things.  They're having a tug-of-war about him being a warrior geek or a geek who can pull out a badass warrior side when necessary."

"That's sweet.  Are they having problems catching up?"

"The twins are at Callia's level.  She's a few years ahead so the twins are about a year behind.  Sean too.  They're doing good though.  Callia enjoys teaching them math."  The reporter cooed.  "I'd never let the twins do anything that would be so self esteem destroying.  I don't want someone to look at their healthy bodies and tell them they're too fat.  Or to big chested.  They're twelve.  Let them be kids."

"We'd all like to see them being kids," Pepper agreed, shooting Dawn a look.  She pointed at the phone so she looked.  "Who?"

"Your father.  He would not be held off."

"Give me a second please."  She answered it.  "Hi, Dad.  What's wrong?"  She listened.  "Um...  No."  She snapped and pointed.  "Dawn, there's a huge plant in the middle of Broadway."

"I can go shrink it."  She walked out.  "Archer boy, come watch me brilliant magically?"

"I can do that," he quipped, following her.  The plant was a huge dandelion.  "Think it was a mini witch?" he asked.

Dawn nodded, shrinking it down then plucking it to hand to him.  "We need to talk to the mini witch."

"Which twin?" he muttered.


"Great."  Phil strolled over to take the flower and kept going.  "Sure, you have fun with that talk, boss."

Dawn smiled and waved at his back.  "Thanks, Big Brother sort.  Saves me some work."  They went back to Stark with a stop for coffee.  She also paused to get a jacket to go over the dress, but that would look hot with the leather skirt outfit later.  She found something to go underneath it too.   Clint would enjoy that too.

They settled back at her desk and him beside it again.  He was making reservations.  "Want seafood, steak, or vegetarian?"

"I'll need the protein," she quipped.  He grinned at her.  "Pick somewhere worthy of the outfit."

"I can do that."  He picked the steakhouse.  Leather went naturally with steak, right?  They didn't want to take the reservation so he popped a text to Stark to see if he knew of somewhere that was nice enough.  He got them reservations at that steak house by calling.  Clint sent back a 'thanks' and grinned at her.  "Steak."

"Wonderful."  She smirked slightly.  "I booked us at the St. Regis in one of the nice suites with the fireplace and hot tub."

"Wow, expensive.  I'm glad you make the major bucks."

She leaned over to kiss him.  "I know you'll make it worth more the price of the room."

He smiled.  "Yes, I will."  She winked and got back to work.

"Awww," Pepper and the reporter called.

Dawn looked in there, smiling at them.  "Young love is always adorable."

"It is," Pepper agreed.  "Where are you two staying tonight?  I can have the cleaning team open up a suite."

"The St. Regis."  She got back to work, bringing in some forms for her to sign.  "Once again, HR needs your insurance stuff."

"It's all the same," she said, but she did fill it out.

"They shred them after anyone gives birth," Dawn reminded her.  "That way no one's got records hanging around."

"I like that," Pepper agreed.  She handed them back with a smile.  "Happy lab rounds."

"Thanks, boss."  She strolled off.  "Doing my daily lab rounds."

"I can help," he promised.  "I'll pretend I'm Nat and do assistant stuff."

She elbowed him with a grin.  "You'd look much different in the pencil skirt she wears, Clint."

"I'd hope so."  He went with her anyway.  He got waylaid by Andrew and Jonathan needing a normal guy opinion but Dawn was usually safe here.  Until someone slapped her on the ass.  He looked up because Dawn had just decked him.  "Let me go clean up her mess."

"Who?" Andrew said with a wince.

"Some guy in Shield Design just spanked her."  He strolled up there, looking at them.  He smirked.  "You touched something of mine?"  The man shook his head quickly and scooted away from him.  "You sure?  I have ways of telling."

Stark walked in.  "JARVIS said Dawn had to knock someone on their ass, Morrison?"

"He tried to flirt, boss, and spanked her.  So Dawn kindly knocked him down for it."  He didn't look at Clint.  "I'm sure she's okay, Agent Barton.  Dawn's very capable and badass."

"She is but she shouldn't have to be."  He looked at the guy.  "The ring is a wedding band, yes."  The guy nodded quickly.  "Good."  He kissed Dawn on the ear, making her shiver and smile at him.  "Nice hit, dear."

"Thank you."  She smirked slightly.  "I do my teachers proud."

"No more flirting," Tony ordered.  "Damn!"  Dawn and Clint both laughed.  "Go be in gooey love somewhere else."  Dawn handed him the reports.  "Thanks.  Go make me coffee?"

"Yup, I can do that."  She took Clint with her.  Callia was in there napping on top of the car hood with the Phil cat sitting on her side.  "Aww," she said quietly.

"Our kid will inherit the king of hair nibbling," Clint quipped.

"Yeah, Loki does love the babies.  He curled up with Liz more than once."  She made coffee, coming back out to check on Callia.  Usually she didn't sleep that heavily.  She seemed fine.  She'd check with Tony.  She got finished by the time Tony came in.  She pointed at the baby.  "She slept through me banging around your coffee pot, boss."

"She was up all night watching Liz to make sure she was all right.  Again."

Dawn nodded.  "I would've too."  Tony smiled.  "Is she okay?"

"She's fine.  The mask pisses her off sometimes but she's good with it."  They grinned and left together.  He looked at his special little clone and grinned.  He had stayed up with her to watch Liz sleep.  He might sleep through her alarm like he did his alarm clock and he'd hate that.  He'd never forgive himself for that.

His father faded in.  "What's that machine the nanny's putting on the baby, son?"

"A sleep apnea alarm.  For when she quits breathing again."  He looked at his father's ghost.  "Clint caught her moving toward crib death.  Her doctor thinks she'll probably grow out of it."

"That's good.  We didn't have those when you were little."

"Kids today have a lot of stuff we didn't because we know more now.  Like they have to sleep on their back and we can't have bears in the cribs so they can't suffocate on them."

"That wasn't the rule in your day definitely."  He looked up there then at him.  "Dawn's checking on her."

"Dawn loves all the kids equally, Dad.  Even if Liz isn't biologically related to her she still loves her."

"That's a good mom thing to do I suppose," he said.  "She's pretty today."

Tony smiled.  "She's pretty every day but she had to come in wearing clubbing clothes because of a gas leak.  She couldn't get in to get anything."

"That guy's really possessive."

"It's protective.  A lot of people have wanted a Dawn of their very own," he said dryly.   "I had to have her windows changed at my mansion because we had three different ones sneak in to take her."

"Seriously?" his father demanded.

"Yeah.  They either want her to piss us off, to piss her sister off, or because she's got strong magic.  Some just want her because she's competent and pretty.  The last kidnaping was someone who wanted her to be their assistant and they took Callia because they decided she was her daughter instead of her sister's.  The one before that she broke a lot of kidnaping plots but he eventually snapped, took both her spouses hostage with Callia, and told her to come get her so they could be married.  Dawn brought his castle down around him to rescue everyone.  She blew a gasket over that."

Howard Stark shook his head.  "She's pretty and competent but I'd never stoop to kidnaping."

Tony looked at him.  "You weren't an evil bastard unless you were drinking, Dad."

"I wasn't then."


"Whatever as I've heard my granddaughter say.  The twins are here."

"They spend time with their sister every day."

"The younger set."

"They spend time with Callia often too."  He called Dawn to tell her that.  John ran in to  pounce him for a hug.  "Good pounce, little guy."  He smiled at him.  "What did you do today?"

"Sissy made *huge* flower," he said happily.  "It made Mommy sniffle but it was pretty!"

"It was very pretty.  I saw it on the news.  Did your mommy have a talk with your sister?"

"Yup.  And Daddy."  He smiled at Howard.  "Hi!"  He looked at Tony again.  "Liz nap?"

"Yes she is and you can't touch the thing on her head.  It's helping her breathe."

"I won't," he promised.  "I'll tell Sissy too."  He stared at Callia.  "Shoot, she nap."

"She'll get up soon.  Cal?" he called loudly, making her flinch and look around.  He pointed at John.

She smiled and waved, petting the cat on her.  "Hi, John, come cuddle?"  He ran over to cuddle her.  "Thanks.  I was watching Liz sleep all night since she doesn't breathe right."  She cuddled him and went back to sleep while he petted her hair and cooed at her.  Tony smiled, taking film for Maria and Tara.

Howard looked then at Tony.  "Are there plans in place?"

"They won't get together.  Callia considers them siblings too."

"Interesting."  He floated off to check on the other one, who was pouting in her corner.  "The other one's in the lab with my granddaughter."

Tara looked at him.  "Tony and Callia won't let him be hurt."  She looked at Melissa then at Beya.  "I was hoping I could drop her here for an hour while I get something from the coven, Beya."

"Sure, Tara.  Not a problem.  Liz is napping anyway."

She smiled.  "Thanks.  We need to have a talk about magical ethics so I need the storyboard."  She left, going to visit her mentor to rant about her daughter.  It was nice of Melissa to make a flower for Maria to be happy with.  Doing a fifty-foot one in downtown New York wasn't as nice.

"Sit," Beya ordered quietly.  "You can sit and stare at the corner."  She sniffled but nodded and did that.  She got comfortable on the pillow Beya handed her but stayed there.  "Good girl, Melissa.  I'm sure you'll learn."  Melissa looked up at her and nodded, still pouting.  "You're usually a very good girl, dear."  She patted her on the head and went back to her laundry.  She loved these new machines.  There was no rubbing on a board, no banging on a rock, not hand-wringing.  It was wonderful.

Howard looked at the child then at the nanny.  "We don't spank anymore?"

"It's not in favor among modern parents."

"It did my boy good."

"It taught him how to lie and be a drinking, loose bastard that slept with half of the women in that other city," she corrected, sounding very reasonable.  "That's not a good family man.  He's much more healthy and calm now."  Howard gaped.  She stared at him.  "I didn't have to whip my children in the least and they grew up strong, straight, and good."  Howard floated off to talk to Tony.  She smiled at the Melissa.  "We'll figure it out, Melissa."

"Yes, Beya."


Dawn smiled at the check-in desk person.  "Summers-Barton."

"I see your reservation here, ma'am."  She smiled.  "It's all set.  The room has a wonderful view and a hot tub.  The fireplace is set up but it is gas."  Clint nodded that was fine.  She ran the card and handed it back with a smile.  "Just the one night?"

"Hopefully.  Our building has a gas leak.  Fortunately a friend got our cat out since we weren't home when it happened."

"I'll put on that you may need a second night."  Something beeped.  "Did you recently marry?"

Dawn looked at the card.  "That is the old set."  She handed over her Black Visa card.  It was unlimited.  The check-in clerk ran that and it went through.  "I'll fix that name issue tomorrow at work."

"That's fine, ma'am."  She handed it back.  "Here's your key."  She handed that over.  "No bags?"

"I'll have to find something to wear tomorrow.  They won't let us in at all," she said.

"Hopefully it'll be fixed soon.  I know those are dangerous."  She smiled.  "Have a great evening."

"You as well."  Dawn led Clint upstairs, taking the new outfit out of her purse to put on in the bathroom and brush her hair.  She came out with it up in a french twist, but he took it down on her.  "You didn't like?"

"Looked a bit severe."

"I thought it'd be nicely off my neck."  She took a kiss and he smiled.  "We really do need clothes for tomorrow."

"Hopefully we can go home by breakfast.  The twins are pouty."

"I know."  She pulled him closer to kiss him again.  He moaned and grabbed onto her waist.  "Feed me before you debauch me?  We have *excellent* ratings on the soundproofing here."

He grinned.  "Good to know."  He took her out to the steak house.  The hostess was perky and nice.  They got a nice, private table.  Though she kept calling him 'Mr. Avenger sir'.  It was almost cute how much the poor college student aged woman blushed. 

Dawn ordered something light, earning a long stare.  She smiled and ordered for him, which was a double meal.  "I'll have half of yours."  He grinned and let it stand.  They got wine with it and it was good.  The salads were nicely crunchy and not just lettuce.  The steaks were perfectly tender and just how they liked them.  Dawn fed him half of her dessert, making him moan at it.  She winked and smiled. 

"You're taking advantage of my happy mood," he teased.

"I am and you're going to have a great happy mood later to share with me."  She ate a bite of the chiffon pie and then fed him the last two.  "You need calories."

"I'll have a huge breakfast."  He paid for dinner and they went back to the hotel.  Dawn slipped out of her jacket and put it over the back of a chair.  She undid the buttons on her loose blouse.  It got put over the chair too.  Then she stepped out of the skirt.  That left her in a lacy leotard-like body suit.  It was in cream lace and had a built-in bra.  The crotch had snaps.  The back dipped very low. It had a thong back and high cut sides.  Clint stared, undoing his collar so he could take off his shirt.  He tipped his head to the side, watching Dawn.  The stockings were clear.  The shoes were black.  He made 'turn around' motions so he could see it all.  "I like that."  She smiled.  He stripped off to his boxers and opened up the curtain.  They had a great view.  No balcony but a great window.  He pushed Dawn against it to kiss her.

"Someone might watch us," she said, teasing his chest hair.

"Good.  They need to know you're mine."  He took another kiss then stared at her.  "That bother you?"

She shook her head.  "As long as we don't get arrested for it or put on TMZ."

"Quit worrying about those sort, Dawn."  He kissed her again, running a hand into her hair.  She let him do whatever he wanted.  He pulled back, looking her over again.  "Shoes off."  She kicked them off and nudged them out of the way.  He took a fast kiss.  "Turn around.  Like you're leaning on the chair at home."  She shivered but turned, leaning on the glass.  He smiled, pulling a chair over.  He was going to be here for a while. 

He unsnapped the crotch and smiled.  She was more than happy about this.  He leaned in to lick her.  She got pulled closer to his mouth but there was a bar to separate the windows she could lean on.  He spread her open with his fingers and had a fun time licking, sucking, tonguing, and opening her.  She was moaning hard and he kept going.  He wanted to see her come apart.  That way everyone who was watching would know she was his. 

It was possessive but he was back in primal man mode.  Dawn needed to be seen as his.  He pushed his tongue into her just a bit farther, making her moan because his chin had hit her clit.  That was a sweet sound.  He liked that one.  He did it again and again until she was shaking and making pleading noises.  He licked one long stripe from her clit up and then back down so he could feast on that tender little nub.  She squealed, trying to brace on the glass. 

He grinned, sucking harder.  She was shaking hard now.  Her legs were wobbling and her knees had to lock to keep her standing.  He took one last suck before moving to tease her hair then back down to tongue her open some more.  His tongue was a great weapon of mass sexual need.  He was getting hard from it and she was back to almost falling down.  She finally came and exhaled, panting a bit.  He smiled and nibbled on the tender skin.  "Good?"

"So damn good," she moaned.  "Clint?"

"I have you, Dawn."

"Can't I tease you?"

"No.  I'm going to ride you hard right here, then in the tub."  He pulled her closer again to go back to his playtime.  Somehow, even though he was concentrating on Dawn, he felt Natasha's shock as she watched them.  That was sweet.  He could definitely like that.  He was teasing the tip of his tongue against her opening, making her try to squeeze and catch it.  He slid in a finger, crooking it up just...so, making her yelp as he hit her g-spot.  "You know I'm always fantastic to you."

"You are," she panted.  "You're wonderful to me, but please, Clint?  I want more."

"I know.  You're getting more.  Usually you like oral sex until you can't see straight."

"Tonight I want invaded," she said, looking back at him.  "I need you."

He grinned.  "I need you too."  He stood up, taking off his boxers.  He slid into her and she whimpered, pushing back against him.  "One of those touch nights," he said, realizing what she needed.  She needed skin contact.  He had shown her how good skin spoiling was and that's what she needed and wanted tonight.  He sat down and pulled her into his lap, hands running from her breasts down to her clit and back up, teasing her, just taunting the spots that made her so happy.  She was leaned back against him, panting hard, doing most of the work by riding him slowly.  "Needed this?"

"Hell yes."

He kissed her.  "Less swearing until you're shaking and so needy you can only gasp my name," he said in her ear, getting an instant twitch of response.  His hands finally settled on her breasts, teasing her nipples, kneading a bit to stand them up.  That bodysuit had underwires, which were in his way.  He yanked it off her and tossed it behind him, going back to his touching and taunting.  She sped up, riding him harder, but he slowed her back down by thrusting up off-rhythm to make her change it.  She did for him but she was getting ready to blow again. 

He kissed her neck and smiled.  "Lean forward."  He shifted the chair so she could reach the window.  "Grab the glass."  She did and he slowly slid out, stroking up her back, then slammed back in, making her hiccup.  He smiled and did it again and again, getting her hotter.  He stood them up, pushing her against the glass, holding her there while he rode her.  He couldn't get as deep but it was more than worth it to twitch her slight kink of being watched.  

He braced his hands above her head on the glass, holding her hands hostage, letting his hips do all the work.  She was grinding back against him and it was good.  She was going to come soon.  The window was getting sweat-covered and steaming up where she was panting into it but that was fine.  Dawn finally came, jerking back against him.  That did it for him too.  He came hard, letting her hands go so he could hold her hips.  She tipped her head back, letting him kiss her.  "Thank you."

"You're not done, right?" she asked with a teasing smirk.  "Because I'm not yet."  She strolled over to the bed, stripping off the covers, bending and stretching for his pleasure.  She laid down on the bare sheet, spreading out for him to stare at.  "I think I have at least one more in me."

He licked his lips.  "Really?"  She smiled and nodded.  "I might like that.  It might take me a while though."

"If it bothers you, I can go...clean up."

"Don't you dare."  He laid down on top of her to kiss her, then slowly made his way down her body, nibbling the whole way down.  It left little red marks but he wanted others to *know* that Dawn was his.  Her legs shifted further out and he saw the gleaming bit of semen starting to drip out.  He slid two fingers into her, playing around in the messy area while he leaned down to lick her clit.  She thrust up with a gasp but he held her down to tease her until he could invade her again.  It was his second favorite thing to do to Dawn.  Thankfully, she loved the first and he got to enjoy it enough until he could get it back up.

This is what Dawn needed and deserved.  It was good for them both to have it.  Their other part would come back soon.  She needed them.

The End.

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