Good Nights To Be Old Ones.
Clint and Dawn were on their third night in the hotel. The gas
leak was driving them nuts. Thankfully, Dawn had found somewhere
to get clothes for work. He was kicked back on the bed, watching
Dawn strip for him. He felt the small tickle in his mind start and
it was interesting. The important one watching was getting hot
and bothered too. He could feel her. He could feel
Dawn. Dawn was one hot sun against him.
Dawn suddenly turned around, kissing him, pulling him up and turning him
around so his back was to the glass and she could stroke up his
chest. "I feel her too," she said quietly.
"She's watching us."
Dawn smiled. "It's breaking your happy mood?"
Dawn leaned in and kissed him then bit his bottom lip, sucking on it to
make it better. He dove in for a better kiss, pulled her against
his body by winding his hands into her hair. The spark was still
there, just changed some. But Dawn, she had ideas. He could
almost hear her ideas. He pulled back to smile. "Is that a
"Hmm." She winked. "Maybe." She strolled over to the
bed and draped herself across it, taking off the stockings to toss
aside. She started to tease herself, letting him watch her. He
liked to watch her tease herself. She was a bit dry after him
being in her but she could pull up some hot fantasies to show him.
He blinked a few times. She shrugged but smiled. One of
them had her and Natasha together and him invading with his fingers and
cock while they played. He shivered. She sent over another
one of him sweaty, like he had been working out, and she pounced him on
the weight bench.
"I'm not that into my workout," he teased, but he was enjoying this attempt.
Her next one sent him rocking to his feet and coming over to kiss
her. So maybe he had a thing for saving Dawn. "Dangerous
She smiled. "I can find a lot of those," she joked.
"You can and I'm very appreciative sometimes." She laughed and
kissed him. The mental image of her in a bikini, knife strapped to
her lower back, kicking ass while he came down to help her was a good
one. It tripped a lot of his triggers and Dawn was very hot when
she was defending herself. He inserted himself in that little
fantasy and got to help with the last few, then she turned to take him
on because she was a tiny bit lost in the fight. He stopped the
automatic attack and kissed her.
She kissed back and they could make out for a while. He was still
hard. She was still needy but something was almost missing.
That spark that had made them so hot had cooled but not fully.
They laid there and made out for a while then she moaned, letting him
work out the leg cramp she was starting. Dawn panted through
it. He carefully worked the frozen muscle soft and pliable, then
kissed her leg. He looked up. "We're trying too hard."
"We are." She wiggled her way into his lap to kiss and cuddle him. "Hot tub?"
"Hot tub sounds great." He grinned. They got it ready and
climbed in, wincing at the heat. "Put it up a bit high, Dawn."
She smiled. "I want you limp and pliable."
"I'm more likely to go to sleep than to pounce you."
"I like sleeping next to you." She cuddled beside him, his arm
around her shoulders. They both dozed a bit, because they were
still tired after not sleeping last night. Dawn woke up with a
gasp because of a nightmare. Which woke Clint and he had to help
her calm down. That was nice cuddling. That got them out of
the tub and dried off. She was still twitchy though. "We
need to burn off some energy."
"I don't have that sort of energy," he joked.
She looked at him. "I feel like I did after we found those poachers."
Clint blinked at that. "Okay, why?" he asked.
"Well, that's what the nightmare was so maybe it carried over."
She looked out the window, closing the curtains. "Maybe it's that
there's a church right there."
"Churches don't bother you."
"Yeah but I can't have sex in front of them." He laughed, pulling
her closer again. She slid into his lap, kissing him then wrapping
herself around him to hold him. "Something's wrong."
"We're working on fixing it," he promised.
She looked at him. "We never get time to talk."
"We have time when the twins go down."
She poked him on the shoulder. "Like in Bolivia."
"Oh, that time. No, we don't take time for it." He
frowned. They had been having a rough month then. Natasha
had all but disappeared on them for a week and a half. She came
back with five new stitches and a black eye. He had put them in a
remote cabin that took two days of hiking to get to. They had
supplies, they had locked themselves in, and they had stared at her
until she had talked to them. It had been comforting even though
all that isolation drove Dawn nuts. "We can do that."
"We can't. I don't have two weeks I can spend locking us away. Or a month."
"We have a way around that if we can borrow the cabin Xander has."
She looked at him. "I can't be near where Buffy was, Clint."
"I'm pretty sure he has another one."
She rested against his shoulder. "You think he'd let us borrow it?"
"I think he might if we ask." He looked over her shoulder at the
twinkling coming in. "Ares," he said dryly. "Not who we were
thinking about." Dawn laughed and kissed his throat. "Is
there a problem at a battle?"
"No. Not really. There's better places than Asgard to talk."
"That whole extra time thing was what might be needed. We need to have a long talk with the other wife."
Ares quirked an eyebrow up. "Why do you mortals make things so difficult?"
"Because she got panicky and cheated on us?" Dawn guessed. Ares winced. "Beyond that, I'm being a good girl."
"You definitely are," Ares complained. He smirked. "But
you're my mother's favorite soap opera." He snapped and stole
them. And their clothes. They might want them
sometime. He disappeared with a cackle. "You'll figure it
Dawn looked around. It was a single, round room.
Fireplace. No electronics. Not cold so not Asgard.
Felt like Earth instead of Asgard. She got up to look
outside, blinking at all the trees. "We're either somewhere like
Romania again or.... I'm not sure if we're in our right timezone."
He came to look over her shoulder, blinking at the trees. "I need my bow just in case."
She pointed at her bag. "It's in there. I always carry your
spare." He went to check it over. Dawn frowned. "I can
"Yeah, me too." They shared a look and got dressed, going to see
where they were. There had to be a village somewhere around there,
right? Well, no, apparently not. "What is this place?" he
"I think he put us in a sub-realm, or back in time, take your pick," Dawn said.
"I'm hoping for sub-realm. I don't really want to do temporal things. They tend to get screwy."
"Yeah, could be." They found Natasha tied to a rock wearing a
fetching outfit that reminded them of the painting of Andromeda.
She was swearing. Dawn blinked a few times. "You do look
good in that. Who are you supposed to be sacrificed to?"
"I do not know but get me free."
Dawn got one of the handcuffs free, letting her get the rest while Clint
watched around them. "This is not what we needed."
"No, it's not," Clint agreed. "Though, if we can get the two weeks
here to talk...." He looked at Natasha, who huffed. "Well?"
"I..." She shook her head and walked off.
"I did not ask him to do this!" Dawn shouted after her. "This was
not my idea, Natasha. Quit blaming me for everything."
"Yes. Called it my demented fantasy. My fantasy doesn't have her getting ready to be sacrificed."
"Mine either. My nightmare, for both of you, but not my
fantasy." He walked her back to the tower. No Natasha.
No tower. He looked up then at her. "Did we lose it?"
"No." She concentrated and pulled them back to earth. All
three of them, and her bag with their things in it. "Fuck."
He hugged her. "I was in such a good mood."
He kissed her. "So was I." He cuddled her and it was
nicer. Better. Calmer. "She'll come back when she
wants to. When she's ready."
She nodded. "I know. This is us, and we need to be
us." She looked up at him. "We need to be us and have us
time and us sex and us cuddling." He grinned. "Though I'm
going to tie her down and paddle her."
"I might like to watch that." He kissed her and grinned. "Get out of the clothes."
"You first," she teased, sitting on the bed. She checked the phone
on the table. No missed calls, same date. Two in the
morning. "It's two."
"Hmm." He stretched up then slowly peeled up his t-shirt. Dawn smiled, watching him. "Want me to get fancy?"
"Up to you, Clint."
He smirked and dropped the pants, showing he had forgotten to put on his
boxers. Then they blinked and they were back at the window
earlier that first night. He pulled back from licking her.
"Not my doing." She looked back at him.
He grinned. "Any idea?"
She felt around, then shook her head. "Nope but I just saw Hermes zip past."
He smiled at her blush. "I'm sure he's seen naked women."
Dawn looked back at him. Suddenly his phone went off. "Damn
"If that's a battle, I'm going to blow you there on the field once it's
done with," she said, giving him a kiss. She answered it.
"Better be good." She listened and blinked. "What?"
She handed the phone to him. "I'm hoping like hell that's a code."
"What?" he asked, listening. "No, Maria, we didn't have anything
that might've started to smoke. Why?" He frowned at
her. "We haven't been home since long before that started."
Dawn looked up. "If that was someone's bright idea, all of our
shit had better be in storage," she said quietly. "Because if I
have to shop again, you're all dead fucks."
Clint laughed. "It is in storage. The gym got set on fire."
"Like the ones that we drove off yesterday for picketing?"
"Huh. How much damage?"
Dawn considered it. "So... Well, Phil and Natasha's apartment were right above the gym."
"The time flip was her going back to save all our stuff with
John." He yawned. "Fire marshal said that the building's
nearly structurally unsound with the way they bombed the gym." She
winced. "So yeah, we've got to move."
"Okay," she agreed. "So we're going to my backup place." He stared at her. "I just set it up."
She smiled. "It's not a bad apartment. I haven't done
anything in that identity. You guys were going to help me make a
few decisions about it."
"We forgot," he admitted. "All our stuff is in storage at the temple."
"That's fine. It'll all fit. Which leaves a decision."
"That's up to her."
Dawn nodded. "Then we can do that." She took the
phone. "Tara, I'm moving us to our backup spot. It's eight
blocks from Stark to the south. Do I need to set you guys up
something? That'll work then. Let us know. Yeah, I'll
be at work tomorrow. Thanks." She hung up and kissed
Clint. "The keys are in my desk."
"We can pick them up tomorrow." He kissed her, thinking about the
block she mentioned. "There's a few very older apartments there."
"They're in renewal and no, not one of those. We have space above a shop."
"We do?" He grinned. "That's nice."
She smiled. "We do and it's very nice."
"Natasha would complain it was too nice."
"Hmm. I will?"
"No, I think you'll like it." She winked and kissed him.
"There's areas for you and her and your roof sitting needs have an entry
from the stairs."
"Our artwork is there. The new photography stuff is there."
He smirked evilly. That was Natasha's new hobby. She teased
his stomach. "The twins and Sean have their rooms upstairs from
"It's a loft?"
"Not exactly." She smiled. "You'll see."
"Take me to see it now?"
She smiled. "Only if we get food. I'm hungry."
"We can do that." They got dressed and headed back to Stark, then a
stop at their favorite all night chinese place. Dawn let them
into the building overtop of a shop that used to belong to a
photographer. "Do we...."
"Yeah, in case that's what our cover's going to be."
"Cool." He took her up the six shallow stairs to the elevator,
which had a fingerprint sensor on it. "Only ones in the building?"
"Yes." She smiled. "Only ones in the building." He
grinned. It had three buttons. Ground, where they were,
basement, where he wasn't sure he wanted to go, and apartment.
"Basement has the necessary things and spare work areas in case we need
them, plus storage. Emergency stairs are basically behind us," she
said with a point over her left shoulder. They got off on the
apartment level and into a large open area. Their artwork was on
the walls. There was no couch.
A tv was between two boring looking abstract pieces that they didn't
really like but they couldn't sell because it was a duplicate of
something in a museum. It wouldn't distract them from any tv shows
though so that was good. The kitchen was large and open to the
rest of the room over the counter. The table was off to the
side. "It has leaves so it can expand." Clint ran a hand
over it. The wood top and metal accents on the legs were pretty
and went with the whole 'loft' thing.
She led him to the bottom areas. "I had them specially put
in. Hers has more electrical outlets and all the outer walls were
shielded with not only sonic resistant metal but also Jonathan's new
foam stuff. They're also in between each room down here.
There's just the foam upstairs." She opened a door, letting him
see the work area. "This is yours. It's got a nice work
bench with a vise, it's got a spare weapons cabinet." She
pointed. "It's got a safe in case you need it." That got
pointed at and it was open so he could set his own code.
The next room was clearly their bedroom. It had five large
closets, a huge master bed, a bathroom that had a good sized soaking tub
and sinful shower with multiple heads. The countertop in there
was sturdy enough for Clint to sit on and had the same sort of first aid
box setup their old one had.
There were *two* toilet areas, three sinks, and a makeup vanity setup in
a corner. With additional, special outlets. He led the way
to look in the closets. They were large. Slightly walk-in by
about three steps. They'd hold all his clothes in one. All
of Natasha's clothes in another. Then Dawn would have a work
clothes closet, a formal clothes closet, and a teasing clothes
closet. There was already a cat climbing system in a corner by the
window. So clearly the cat was expected to come.
They went to see Natasha's work area. It was about the same as
Clint's but had a few extra work spaces set up and more outlets.
Plus her chemicals for her photography hobby. "Her stuff's down in
the shop. I left that up here when I was dropping stuff
off." She led him upstairs to the three bedrooms. "The girls
can pick a paint color they want. So can Sean."
He looked. Four doors. One was a bathroom. He grinned. "No spare for the future hellion?"
She took him back down to a room behind the kitchen that was
blank. It had a small closet. "I figure they can start here
and by the time they're too big for this room, the twins might be in
"That's actually bigger than mine in my childhood home."
"Mine too." She grinned and took a kiss. "If we have two,
there's a storage room. Or we can add on another one." She
pointed. "We have a huge open space there that has nothing in
it." It was like one wall was a blank area. Nothing looked
planned for it. Nothing looked waiting to use. Just a large,
open area off in a corner.
"Huh." He looked around. "Furniture?"
"If we want to move it we can. If we don't want to move it, we
won't. Though, the first thing that got furnished was the first
aid box and then the kitchen. No food, but dishes and stuff."
He looked in a cabinet. "The bar's worthy of Stark's."
"I took his list." She smiled.
"It's a good space. Huge space." He looked around. "Expensive?"
"No. Auction. The former photographer was found dead in his
office and his heirs had to sell it for the estate taxes. I had a
contractor from the same guys that did the tower look it over for
me. It had great bones. They only had to knock up a few
walls and put in the kitchen and bathrooms. Very cheap over
all." She led him to the stairs, which were gotten to in that open
area. She took him up to the roof, which had a hunting blind set
up for him with windows all around. He had multiple areas to sit
and hide or watch things. He also had a feed from the security
cameras up there. He grinned at her for that. "Sometimes you
gotta have it." She opened up what looked like the maintenance
shed and pointed at the grill. He laughed and hugged her.
She kissed him back. "Feed me?"
"I'll gladly feed you." He took her back downstairs to eat in the
living room. "We need another sectional like you had in the
"I remember where I got it and it was fairly cheap." She smiled. "The cat's going to go nuts."
"Yes, he will. Litter boxes?"
"I planned for one by the stairs," she said with a point. "Then one upstairs in the bathroom."
"Works for me." He took a kiss and fed her some shrimp, then ate some of his own. "They made those extra spicy."
"I don't mind."
"It'll survive. If I have to, Pepcid is now over the
counter." He grinned and fed her another bite. They ate,
snuggled in together, and overslept the alarms on their phones.
She got to work about twenty minutes late. "Sorry, boss."
"Figured it was traffic from the hotel."
"No, not exactly." Pepper laughed. She leaned in. "Anything new on who bombed the building's gym?"
"Ours?" she demanded.
"I had not heard that. JARVIS?"
"It appears to be the same group that tried to accost the family in the
park that time. The police are not amused," the AI told
them. "The damage was minimal but everyone has moved to their fall
back positions due to what caused the damage."
"Including us," Dawn agreed. Pepper stared at her. She smiled. "I was working on a new one."
"Uh-huh. How far away is it?"
"Eight blocks." She grinned. "Clint's getting the twins
there so they can paint their new rooms. Sean too. Then he's
going furniture shopping because we only have our bed." She
"How long has that been set up?" Pepper asked.
"Three and a half months. The work just got done a little over a month ago."
"Huh." She nodded. "That's good to know." Dawn grinned. "Maria, Tara, and the twins?"
"I think they're somewhere outside the city right now but I'm not sure where or if that's permanent."
"Even better." She looked her over. "Did you get into your things?"
"No, there was a shop open on the way." Pepper laughed.
"It's all in storage from what we're told." She went back to her
desk, finding Steve frowning. "What?"
"Where were you guys?"
"Hotel. Remember, gas leak."
"Oh, yeah. You could've used one of the suites."
"Until a few hours after dinner, we were all in good, smutty moods,
Steve. Then something broke it and all that." She waved a
hand. "But we have a place and it's good."
"It has good security?" he asked.
"Yes. Including fingerprint sensors on the elevator. Which
all you Avengers are coded for." He grinned. "Not Fury but
all you guys."
"Good." He smiled. "Any idea on Phil?"
"Not at the moment. Haven't talked to him yet."
"At least he can easily move things." He walked off happier to talk to Pepper.
Tony walked past reading something. "Photography?"
"Nat's new hobby."
"Huh." He nodded. "Nice choice."
"Thanks, boss. I'll get an alarm clock tonight for it."
"Might help but tomorrow's Saturday anyway," he quipped.
"Which means I'm due in to do the filing room."
He grimaced. "Ow. Your poor back."
"I have a man who gives *outstanding* backrubs," she quipped.
"I'm sure he does." They shared a smirk. "I'm putting JARVIS in as a security measure."
"He's already got a link and so does Atlantis so Sean can talk to the twins."
"Good!" He went into the office, shutting the door. "She'll be busy."
"She had an appointment at nine unless she rescheduled."
"Crap," Tony muttered. "We can make it fast." He leered at Pepper.
"No sex in the office, Tony. You never know who might have it bugged."
"Pity." He took a kiss. "Want a shoulder rub?"
"That I would kiss you for again." He took another kiss and moved
behind her to work on her shoulders. Steve was doing her
hands. She felt so spoiled. "I feel like Dawn."
They grinned. "You're the princess they think Dawn could turn into," Tony said in her ear.
She kissed him. "I'm not a princess."
"Bullshit. Princesses like shoes and so do you. They like
clothes and so do you. They like sparkly jewelry and so do
you." He grinned. "You get to introduce Callia to my mom's
jewelry this year."
"She might like that." She moaned as he hit the knot on her
shoulder from sleeping funny. "That's where I needed that."
"I know what you need. My psychic Pepper sense is back on track today," he teased.
Outside, Dawn smiled at the person waiting. "Stark's fixing the
knot in her shoulder. Last night was a bit stressful."
The woman smiled at her. Callia came running up the hall, giving
her a hug before bounding into the office. The waiting woman
blushed harder but it was clear that it wasn't sexual and that Callia
had pounced her future baby brother to hug him.
"Hugs made Liz come out special and sweet so this one will too," she
told Pepper then kissed the lump of future brother. "Good morning,
baby brother." She gave him a slight pat and then ran off
again. "I have to do homework or Unclie Clint won't let me help
the twins paint their rooms."
"Thank you," Tony called after her. He kissed Pepper on the
temple. Steve kissed her on the cheek, and they let her do CEO
Dawn grinned at them. "Nice work, guys." They smirked back and went to help Callia catch up to her homework.
Dawn walked into the apartment carrying the struggling cat. "Stop it, Loki."
"I couldn't catch him earlier," Clint said from their new large, medium
brown microfiber sectional. "Phil said to let him run around the
temple for a bit. The dogs thought he was cute and fun."
"I had Ruby bring him to me. It stopped him being mean to the
trainees." She put him down next to the litter box. "It's
right there." He ran off. "Okay, find it later." She
came over to sit on Clint's lap, kissing him with a smile.
"I got us plenty of room to sit," he teased, running a hand up her back.
"You're always the most comfy seat in the house." He grinned. "Girls, did you get your rooms painted?"
"We did," Artemis said, smiling at them.
"Which one of us has to switch when the new baby comes?"
Dawn pointed. "They're sleeping down here so I don't have to
travel up and down the stairs to feed them. Those are *your* rooms
until you go to college. Then the baby might be old enough to
take over one of them." The girls hugged them and babbled about
their paint choices and sheet choices. Artemis had gotten cartoon
ones because they were fun. Diana had gotten flowered ones because
they were pretty. Callia had helped them pick out soft ones
instead of the cheaper ones. Sean had painted his room and picked
out his sheets but he was using them. They had worn him out
"I got us groceries," Clint said. She grinned at him. "And a
pizza." She hugged him. "We're starved but we saved you a
"I got an alarm clock," Dawn said.
Clint grinned. "I picked up ours." He gave her a squeeze. "All Nat's stuff is downstairs."
"That's fine. If that's what she wanted."
"I didn't get a chance to ask her. She's out of the city."
"Why is she out of the city?"
"No idea." He took a kiss and put her beside him, making the twins
laugh. He got up and got her the rest of the pizza and a
soda. She gave him a great kiss and it was good. It was like
home was set back up again. Once the twins were in bed, Sean was
back in bed, and it was really dark, Clint was lounging on the sofa,
with Dawn resting against his side. He stroked over her
back. "She'll come back," he said quietly. "She always comes
back when things are unfinished."
She looked up at him. "I don't want to make choices for her."
"We're not. If we were, she'd be here." Dawn nodded, resting
her head on his shoulder again. "Any idea how good our room's
soundproofing is?" he asked casually.
"The kids have soundproofing on their rooms rated to anything below the smoke detector." She smiled. "So do we."
"So you can get pretty loud then?"
"We can go club in our bedroom and they're never hear a thing."
"I might like that. I like dancing with you." Dawn smiled,
getting up and hauling him to their bedroom to put on some music and
dance with her. Dawn had some moves when she was club dancing and
he had taught her others. They made a good team, a great pair, and
he was still in a snuggly mood instead of a sexy one. He stared
at her. "Do a body scan?"
"It's too soon," she said. "I wouldn't be able to tell." She
ran a hand up his chest and smiled. "Besides, I'd rather wait for
that full month."
"I don't want to get my hopes up either," he agreed quietly. He
kissed her and it was good. Maybe he just needed comfort for now
instead of heat and passion. Sometimes a guy just wanted
cuddled. Maybe it had hit him when he had felt Nat watching but
not wanting to participate.
She smiled at him. "Remember, we have geek trapping plans for her."
He grinned. "Yeah, we do. She'll come back to us. We're too damn good to her."
"We are." She stroked over his cheek. "Beyond that, not like she can fully block us out."
"True." He relaxed again because he would always have a connection
to Natasha. She would eventually come back because they were
unfinished business for her. So he'd get to settle this some year.
"She won't take a year, Clint. Especially if you're right about why you're so cuddly."
He looked at her. "The link that would create could be part of what's scaring her."
"Do you want to wait then?"
"No. I'm not scared of having such a tight link back to me. I
kinda like it." He shrugged slightly and grinned. "I'm not
scared of people finding me through others like she was taught to be."
"We'll work on all our fears later," she decided. He nodded that
was good and pulled her closer to kiss her again. "You, my love,
are you going to have trouble during my second trimester if I'm only
making you cuddly," she teased.
He smirked down at her. "I'm pretty sure I can handle it,
Dawn." She yawned but kissed him. "Bed. Let's go to
bed." She nodded and they settled in on the nice, large king sized
bed. It didn't have the flair that their old bed had but it was
comfortable. "I had to get Sean a bed."
"I was thinking about giving him this one and pulling ours."
"No, we'll make this bed ours. The bed there stays there in case
we move back there." She smiled and nodded, snuggling into his
side, one hand over his waist. He petted through her hair, trying
hard not to think. She started to hum mentally so he quit thinking
and let himself sleep again. He was tired. They'd fix
everything else tomorrow. Including Natasha.
Dawn finally got finished with her closets, with the girls' help.
They were amused at how many clothes she had. She smiled at
them. "Sometimes we have to do formal things, sometimes we have to
do work things." They giggled and went to get some ice cream and
watch some teenager tv. Dawn arranged her vanity area for ease of
grabbing and it was better. She strolled out when Clint came in
reading a file. "Tell me it's not a long term assignment?" she
He kissed her. "It is and it's not totally undercover. One
of the new agents Phil poached said that their former agency is going to
hell. So I'm being placed so I can handle it with that one's
team. He's going to try to bring the rest of them in."
"So no contact at all?"
"Minimal but I'll be in the city for part of it." He smiled.
"I'm still going to be watching over you and the kids." He kissed
her hard and fast. "But it does mean I have to wear a suit."
"I never see you in a suit," she said with a grin, teasing his t-shirt. "All the time?"
"Maybe. Not sure yet." He winked. "I need a few more."
"I can help you. How high up are you going?"
"Not up to Phil's standards but decent, above agent standards."
"I can help." She winked and strolled off. "Bedroom's all set up. Even yours."
"Thanks." He went to see what he had. Dawn was staring in
hers. He looked. "I haven't seen some of those. Didn't
I say not to get the red dress of doom?"
She smiled. "I liked it."
"I liked you in it but you looked like an armed princess of purity in it."
She kissed him. "I can fix it. The tailor fixed all that over abundance of fabric."
"Huh." He kissed her again. "I have to go on it tomorrow."
"That's fine. I can enjoy our night after we get you a few
suits." She smiled. "Girls, get dressed." They ran
upstairs. She moved closer, inhaling his breath before kissing
him. "If you get too injured I'm killing them all," she
whispered. "So you had better be extremely safe and tidy."
"I will be, Dawn. Don't worry about it."
She poked him with a grin. "Of course I am. It's not like I can replace you."
"Yeah, I'd have to take out any Dawn imitators." He winked and
grinned at the girls. "I've got a long term assignment.
Should be less than four months."
"So we should pretend we don't know you?" Artemis asked.
"After tomorrow. Though you probably won't see me. I'm working with people who are getting screwed by their agency."
"That stuff we talked about with their jobs? It's now," Dawn
said. "So if he passes you on the street, just grin. Don't
post any pictures of him for a few weeks." They nodded. "We
have to get him some suits tonight." They grinned and helped him
get what he'd need. Dawn took them out to outfit him
properly. Be damned if he was going out in something less than
bulletproof if she could arrange it.
Clint let her fuss. It was how Dawn worked off stress. She
was handling all the mundane things for his upcoming mission very
well. Including getting him one of those little storage areas for
his bow and arrows, plus extra weapons. It was appreciated.
That night, he laid next to her, kissing and stroking her. He
didn't want to go four months without her but he was needed. These
people wouldn't have been watching the Avengers. It was sweet and
touching, and Dawn clung to him afterward. Really, he was doing
the same thing. This was going to be his longest assignment since
they had gotten together. But it was critically necessary from
what they had been told.
Dawn penned a meeting onto the Avengers schedule and signed her name to
it digitally then sent it to them all. She followed it up by
walking over to the other tower and using her pass to get into the
meeting area. Everyone but Clint and Natasha were there. She
put down the folder, sliding it down to Steve. "He got called on
an undercover. Probably about four months." Bruce winced and
Steve looked at it. It was slightly above his classification
rating but he needed to know this time. "I thought that was a
"Real agency, poor movies," she said.
Tony leaned over to look, wincing. "That's going to suck.
Why?" Steve handed him that page. He read it and called
someone. "Your whole lab is going on vacation today. No
matter what. Everyone, out." He hung up and called a few
others. He hesitated then called someone else. "It's Stark,
I'm calling in that favor. Get out of your city.
Immediately." He hung up. He looked at her. "Good
She nodded. "The twins and Sean all know that they can't run up and hug him and things."
"I'll talk to Callia about that, in case they run into him," Tony agreed. "You going to be okay?"
"I'll be fine." She smiled. "I've handled a few months
without him before. At least this time he's somewhere we can help
if he needs it."
"Yeah, we can," Steve said. He took the pages back and put the
file back together, handing it back to her. "We'll be listening."
She smiled. "Natasha's somewhere in Eastern Europe. If you
need her for a battle, let me know and I'll summon her dumb ass."
Tony smiled. "We might be training some future agents."
Dawn nodded. "I've seen the new possible Avengers files. If
that wife beating mother fucker joins, he won't stay for long.
Hate to say it, because you guys might need him, but hell no.
Pepper doesn't need that, boss."
"Wife beater?" Steve asked.
"You haven't seen the ones that Fury pulled up," Stark sighed. He
called up the files. "When he was putting things together, these
files were part of it. I pointed out the flaws, including that I'd
never work with someone who got down with the wife beating."
Steve and Bruce looked them over. "His wife, yes. Him,
no. She won't come without him though. Coulson tried."
Phil walked in, taking the file from Dawn. "I did try, twice. She's convinced he'll change."
"I'm convinced if he comes near me, Pepper, the twins, or Callia I'm
going to beat him like someone should have," Dawn assured him.
"And I won't be nice. He won't be using his hands to beat her
Phil smiled slightly. "I'd like to see that." She
grinned. He pulled up two other files. "These are agents
temporarily being assigned."
Tony looked them over. "Nothing exceedingly special. Did Fury want them killed?"
"Yeah, apparently," Dawn said, shutting one with a smirk. She
looked at Phil, who winced. "I've been good. He's still
"Yes he is. We're all very proud of you," Bruce quipped. She kissed him on the forehead. "Thanks, Dawn."
"Welcome." She strolled off. "Figure it out and if I have to
help fill in. Clint did work on my marksmanship with a few
weapons." She went back to her desk.
"We might need her," Phil said, sitting down. He reopened that
file. "I put in a protest about him being assigned here.
Fury apparently really wants him dead. He's spoiling plans."
"I'd never work with someone who was that divisive," Steve said, closing
it. "We have enough problems without wanting to kill the new
Phil smiled and opened files. "The new ones that have been taking
down Ten Rings. Two are eligible for it. Xander's also
offered to help." They read them over. One got shut by
Stark. "Why?" he asked him.
"Past ties to the Russian mob."
"How do we know this?" Bruce asked.
"Because he tried to industrial espionage our associated lab over there
for them." He smirked. "I was not happy, even if he was on
"He was," Phil agreed. "Are you sure you can't work with him?"
"If I can beat him first. He put three good, healthy, smart
scientists, ones I would've made sure moved with my main lab when they
switched back to us, in the ground and another one in a
wheelchair. It wasn't part of his job, wasn't part of his cover,
wasn't necessary. He decided to shoot up a lab before raiding the
system. He can stay over there."
"I'll make that note." He put that into the file to have it researched. "Any other qualms?"
"They seem like well rated fighters. Do we need more of those?"
Bruce asked. "I realize we've got to temporarily replace Natasha
until she shows back up and Clint while he's undercover."
"We can call on these ones if we need more backup. They are not
going to become Avengers but they are going to become a backup unit for
higher level problems when you're in the field. Ones not noted but
behind the scenes."
"As long as that one stays there," Tony said firmly.
"Agreed." Phil looked at him. "Any suggestions you have? They're the best I could find among other agencies."
"Yes." He pulled up a folder on his tablet and let him have the tablet. "Recruit them."
He read them over, nodding slowly. "Highly rated Special
Forces. All on par with Sheppard's teams or Clay's team." He
kept going through them. "A good mix of skills. Past covert
and undercover work. All specialities covered." He looked
at him. "For the backup teams?"
"Or as future agents," Tony said.
"May I?" Steve asked. It got handed to him by Phil. He read
the dossiers over. "Do we know anyone who personally knows
them? Files are one thing but personalities are another.
Even if we hardly ever work with them we don't want anyone toxic in
"I'm taking Dawn with me," Phil said.
"She's got a natural bullshit meter," Tony said. "She's got a
four-day weekend coming up but they were going to spend it in Vail."
"This will be a meeting in DC over next weekend."
"That's fine," Tony agreed. "We don't have anything planned."
"We can camp so the twins and Sean can stay home," Bruce promised, leaning back. "Do we need a team like that?"
"Yes," Steve said. "We need someone behind us to open things up
that we can't. We've had Clay's team doing it a few times.
Sheppard's leant us a few too."
"That sort of mission. I can understand that," Bruce agreed. "They'd be moved to SHIELD?"
"Yes," Phil said. "Fury's already agreed." They all nodded
at that. "Any other requests, Stark, or anyone else?"
"We need someone else who can fix electronics. Bruce is good and
I'm great at it but if I'm injured you're screwed. Bruce has no
idea how to fix the suit if he has to. McKay's good but he's off
world right now working on the ZPM problem."
Bruce smiled. "That is true. I can barely get your suit to
open if something happens. I've went over the schematics with you
and some of it's still beyond my understanding. My area's not
"Which is what that one guy excelled in," Steve said, looking around.
"I wouldn't want him in SHIELD. Joyce would kill him," Bruce said.
"If Pepper left her any," Steve agreed. He leaned on the
table. "I'm a realistic guy. We all have issues.
That's beyond PTSD or anything else any of us have."
Phil nodded. "I agreed with that sentiment. Fury didn't like
it. He thought he'd solve that problem that Stark noted. If
I can find someone....."
"Get Andrew and Jonathan to do it," Bruce said, looking at Tony.
"They're my backup for that," he agreed. "I haven't introduced
them to the suit's schematics but I have let them work on some of the
Phil considered it. "They're mostly stable, being held there
easily enough. They're not sliding toward what Warren wanted and
they're not going back to their evil overlord ways. I can see them
being backup." He looked at them. "Though I would not tell
the Director yet."
"Not an issue," Tony said with a hand wave. "JARVIS, send Andrew and Jonathan over."
"On their way, sir."
"Thank you." He looked around the table. "How long are we going to let Natasha run?"
"Until she wants to come back. She left unfinished strings.
It won't take her that long," Phil said. "At which time, I'm
fairly certain Dawn can handle it." They nodded. Dawn was
going to throw a fit at Natasha while she had her tied to the bed.
Andrew and Jonathan walked in. "Boys." They smiled.
He stared at them, reading them. "In the future, it may be
necessary that you will have to have access to the Iron Man
schematics. I need to know what you'd plan on doing with it."
"I'd never want the suit," Jonathan said. "I'm not hero material, Phil."
"Me either, and MB would hate it," Andrew said.
"Not in the suit," Tony said. "Helping me by being my backup for
suit repairs on the go and things if it's critical. Working more
in-depth on the suit to make getting into it and out of it faster.
I'd never let you two in the suit, you couldn't handle the flight and
fighting parts of it. It'd take years of training."
They grinned at him. "You mean we'd get to make new weapons and stuff?" Jonathan asked happily.
"That too, though I'd have right of refusal."
"Also, your future plans would be looked at for SHIELD's usage," Phil
told them. "We're thinking of having a few in lesser suits in
about ten years. About when Stark retires from being Iron Man."
They looked at each other then nodded. "We have stuff for that," Andrew said.
Tony smiled. "We're having a meeting later, boys."
"Cool." Andrew grinned. "I can hold off MB's crying jag that happens every day about four."
"It's hormones," Phil said dryly. "Trust me. Tara had them too."
"Also, as a note," Bruce said. "Clint's on assignment."
They nodded. "We'll watch out for Dawn," Jonathan said.
"And the twins," Andrew promised with a smile. "Because I caught a
boy flirting with Diana earlier. The science club tour," he said
when Tony gave him an odd look. "About her age so I sent 2 at him
to make sure he didn't do more than stammer and blush at her."
"That's fine," Tony said with a smile. "Good idea too."
Andrew grinned. "Okay, we'll meet after lunch." He checked
his phone. "After 1. I have to present Callia's testing
assessments to the school board's home schooling person at
twelve-thirty." They nodded and ran off to gather things. He
looked at Phil. "If something happens to me, McKay is their
mentor and Callia's," he said quietly. "She does not go anywhere
"Yes he is. He's about the only one that would understand her,
Stark." He grinned. "Is she going to look good at that
"She's almost fully three grades ahead outside of one class. Dawn
made her retake her biology section because she only got a B."
"She slacked hard on it," Bruce agreed, smiling slightly. "We had a
talk about how if she really wanted to do work with animals she'd need
"You guys are turning my little clone into a perfectionist," Tony said
with an evil smirk. "She'll never have any fun, Bruce."
"Bullshit," he shot back with an evil grin of his own. "She'll
have plenty of fun turning your suit into an animal hospital."
"She might, yeah. I'd give her an older version to tinker
with. She has to pass advanced robotics and advanced circuit
design first though."
"She's already in advanced circuit design," Steve reminded him. "You've got her in robotics 1 now, Tony."
Tony frowned, looking that up. "She is. Huh. Well, I
learned hands-on. She can start the hands-on stuff this
summer." They all nodded. "I'll give her a Mark II suit to
fiddle with." He got into his automated storage and had one pulled
out and disarmed. "I'm taking the weapons off first."
"Thank you," Bruce said. "Joyce was a bit worried that she's liking weapons."
"All geeks like futuristic weapons," Tony said dryly. "She's a
geek. Specifically a Stark Geek and we're all about the weapons
"Good point," Steve said. "I've seen Howard tutoring her a few times in circuit design stuff."
"So have I and nearly had him banished again," Tony quipped.
"She's already had more hands-on training from my father than I
did." He sipped his water. "Sitting in the corner and
watching is not the same thing."
"No, it's not," Bruce agreed. "Maybe our fathers will hold a failed parents meeting in Hell."
"Could be if we could banish mine," Tony said, sounding happier.
The meeting broke up and Phil went to send invitations to that talk he
Dawn walked into SHIELD and signed in, smiling at them. "Gotta go
talk to the head man," she complained. "He's screwed up something
that's impacting Stark." She walked up there, smiling at her
mother. "Have a break, Mom." She looked at Maria, freezing
her in place. She walked in and smiled at Fury. "Director,
has it been noted that any Avengers would be in contact with small
children? Like Callia Stark?"
"Why is that an issue?"
"Because you assigned the wife beating mother fucker to back them
up." He flinched. She heard her mother jump too. "Do
we really need that sort of example near my nieces and nephew? Or
Pepper's daughter and future son?"
"I don't expect them to hang out that way, Summers."
"Yeah, and yet the Avengers are in Stark towers all the time.
Including where Callia can get used to them and ask them questions about
what they do."
"What? Think I'm a bad influence?" a male voice said from behind her.
She turned and smiled. "Yes, I do."
He hit her. She stared at him. He smirked. "Not so tough after all, girl?"
She walked closer and touched him, making him glow and scream. She
lifted him off the ground magically. "Yes, thank you I am.
See, my mother raised me right. Including to protect those who
aren't yet strong enough to protect themselves from men like you.
Otherwise I'd be ripping apart your molecules right now." She
smiled sweetly. "Do you still think you're better than me?"
"Put him down," Fury ordered. "Now, Summers." She dropped
him, dusting her hands off. "He may not be a good man but he is
good at what he does and we need him on the Avengers."
"The world doesn't need that shown. There's plenty of spousal
abusers in the media already." He moved toward her and she pulled a
gun without looking, tucking it under his chin. "I wouldn't try
it. I am an exceptional shot. I was even before I had two
marksmen train me." She looked at him. "I have absolutely no
qualm about helping your wife find a better second husband, one who'll
support her goals, her skills, and her abilities," she said
quietly. "You may be on the roster to be an Avenger, but you will
not go near any of the children in the family.
"As *I* handle the PR for the Avengers usually, I'm not going to cover
it up if someone realizes that you beat your wife. I'll publically
help her get away from you if they find out." He tried to slap at
her but she grazed him on the inside of his thigh. "I can hit a
gnat at twenty paces. You're close enough I can do a vasectomy
with this gun. It's a small enough caliber to only take out the
vas deferens and leave your pathetic balls there." He shivered,
"You will not show your bad side to the press. The Avengers don't
need that and the kids who look up to the Avengers don't need to see
your flaws. And if I hear of you beating your wife again?
Well, I was trained to be an assassin. I'm competent in weapons
from minuscule, meaning I can brew *excellent* poisons, to the higher
yield artillery pieces, which I can kinda tinker and create after
helping Stark so many times.
"I *did* learn by watching him in case my niece needed my help some
year." She stared at him. "We'd love to host your wife as an
Avenger, but you're not really welcome by any of them. The only
one who might agree to work with you is Thor. Then again, he keeps
trying to reform his brother Loki into a useful citizen." She
stared at him. "Am I clear?" He nodded once.
"Good." She put her gun up.
"How did you do that?"
"I'm fucking amazing in *many* ways," she promised. "Even beyond
my skills with magic, poisons, and weapons." She smirked
evilly. "Do remember that. There's a ton of little kids who
look up to the Avengers. Do you want them to be like you?"
"No," he ground out.
"Good. Then we're agreed you're on call but not an active member?"
"Whatever." He stomped off.
"Remember, I'm listening for your wife to need help," she said politely
with a wave at the end. She glared at Fury. "So help me
Goddess if you do that to us again I'm going to kill your ass," she
complained quietly. "Do those kids who look up to Steve and Stark
need him too? We can make do without him."
"He has skills you don't."
"I have skills you don't even know about," she said dryly. "Beyond
that, Xander's offered to fill in. At least he's not a wife
beater. Kids can look up to him and point to him as a role model
for the most part."
Fury grimaced. "You learned over Coulson's shoulder?"
"Actually, I started learning poisons from Rosenburg's books at the
temple. I was looking up a healing spell and she had them mixed
together so I had to figure it out. Then I learned over Phil's
shoulder." She grinned. "Why?"
"He wasn't supposed to share that."
She smiled. "I'm already very good with herbal skills. It's just another area."
He nodded. "I'd like to know what you can do."
She laughed. "You know that can that spilled smoke?" He
shivered. She smiled. "I'm the deadlier bitch of the women
in the family. Mostly because people keep trying to take what's
mine." She walked off, kissing and hugging her mother. "Have
a good day, Mom." She unfroze Maria with a smile. "That way
you didn't have to get in the middle of that." She went back to
Stark. Pepper was waiting, glaring. "He was going to send
the wife beater here."
"Hell no!" she snorted.
"I made my feelings known."
"Fury wants to know what you can do."
"I'm sure he does."
"You learned helping Stark?"
"Yeah! He taught me chemistry too." She smiled. "I can
learn very well by display, which he does *excellently*. And then
I got some downloaded."
"Oh, shit," she muttered. "I forgot about that."
"You were supposed to. I'm not like that but I'll be damned if they come near the kids."
"Agreed. Try to calm down? You scared your mother."
"Mom knows I'm a possessive bitch." Pepper laughed, going back to
her desk. "Let me go nark on myself before she calls Tony to yell
She rolled her eyes, going down to his lab. "Yes, boss, I did
learn some from watching you tinker and teaching me chemistry."
"Figured you did," he said dryly, turning to look at her. "How much?"
She grinned. "They added to it."
"They never taught you skills."
"Not physical skills. I did learn information."
"Oh." He suddenly got it and grinned. "What else did they teach you?"
"Enough that people should really quit trying to take what's
mine." She grinned. "But she can come on and he'll be an
adjunct backup, like I am. I did make a point that the thousands
of kids that look up to you guys shouldn't look up to him."
"No, they shouldn't. A bit bold. Your mother said I warped you."
"Mom knows it wasn't you."
"Bruce thinks it was too."
She cackled. "No, it wasn't you, boss. Sorry. Romania
but not you." He nodded that was reasonable. "So,
anyway." She grinned. "I'm going to go back to my nice,
harmless, sweet, innocent persona now."
"Please do. You're a bit scary."
"Now and then it's a great thing." She strolled off to hug Bruce
in his lab. "Tell Mom I'm sorry I never told her what the
Romanians did," she said in his ear, getting a nod and a hug back.
"But he won't come near the kids."
"And if he touches her, I get to find him because I'm almost missing
some hunting." She went back to her desk. She decided to
look up when hunting season was locally. Maybe in North Dakota
too. There was an emergency buck hunt there. Interesting.
"Tony said you haven't used a bow since you got back from that road trip
of yours," Pepper called. "To quit looking up bow hunting."
Dawn leaned over to look at her. "I used one last week,
Pepper. I stay in practice with *all* my weapons." Pepper
looked horrified. "Did you think he wouldn't teach me his favorite
"No, I figured he did."
"I brought in a twelve-point buck last year during bow season. Donated it to a shelter though."
Pepper blinked a few times, typing that at Tony. Who groaned. "I did not know that shelters took deer meat."
"Yeah, some do. Some food banks give it out too." She smiled and got back to work.
"Which range are you practicing at?"
"Dawn?" she asked. "Tony wants to know."
"I know that. He doesn't need to get that nosy."
"Fine." She sent that verbatim. It'd mean Tony would go
looking instead. Dawn liked to hide things from everyone.
Tony finally found it. "Is that gym in Brooklyn nice?" she asked.
"No range there but yes it is and it has a great yoga class," Dawn said. "The twins and I go every Wednesday night."
Pepper typed that back. It was driving Tony nuts. He finally
had to track her movements for a whole week. It was her thing on
Sunday. Usually without Clint or Natasha when she had been
there. No twins, who were usually playing with Sean and Callia
that day. Dawn had been sneaky.
Phil walked up to her, staring at her. "Is anyone else at the pagan gym you go to suitable for training?"
"They're mostly protectors of the various covens and ones who would
protect during a demon thing." She grinned at him.
"There's three teenagers coming up who really want to be hunters.
I've suggested they talk to Xander and asked him to show up to
them. He has and told them how it goes usually. He hooked
them in with Connor's group."
"Any who might become SHIELD agents?"
"Those three are thinking about it if they can go directly onto the hellmouth."
"Two want to join the Stargate teams and are working toward that.
Ask the head trainer that. I only see the people that're in there
with me and I'm forbidden to recruit unless I'm asked."
"I can do that." He stared at her. "I want to know what you can really do."
"A woman has to have some secrets, Phil."
"You have hormones, that's usually enough for any man," he quipped back. "Does Barton know?"
"That I kept up with my old training. I've had him in there with me a few times. I did learn how to fence."
Phil considered it. "The records are sealed."
"Bull shit," she said quietly. "You guys have so many leaks it's
not funny. Especially since Fury likes to use things like that to
"Good point. He'd have you on a team somehow."
"Yeah and I'm not into blackmail. I like our present status quo."
"Agreed. I, me personally, still want to know so I know when you can be of use."
"Why don't you let me make that call?"
"Because sometimes I see things that you don't get watching it.
Without them being in the battle you won't have any ears there to know
when you're needed," he said. "I will not tell a single person,
Dawn. Not even Xander if you don't want me to."
"Oh hell no! I get to know too," Tony said, smirking at her as he walked up the hallway. "You're learning what?"
He stared at her. "I want to know. You know I can keep
secrets." Phil snorted. "When I consider them important," he
told him. He looked at Dawn. "So I know what I can let you
"I do pretty much half of everything administrative around here, boss."
"Beyond that. Because your nieces need to train."
"Which I'm not doing for them. I'm still in training. Now,
their next level of self-defense person is coming from there. He
starts next month. He's worked with others who want to be hunters,
and I introduced him to Faith and Kisana, the new one in
Cleveland. He tested them to see what a real slayer can do because
he's got another future slayer trainee in there somewhere.
Callia's going to start going to him when her trainer said she's
ready. The twins are going to start training with him next month."
"Good," Tony and Phil agreed.
"But I want to meet him," Tony said.
"You were going to." She smiled. "He's not sweet, not nice, and he barks like Clay, but he's good."
"Good," Tony decided. "Still, I want to know." She huffed
and pointed at her computer. "I can give you work hours for
"I need to get this done. It's for the meeting tomorrow. We can go on Sunday, like usual."
"I can agree with that," Phil decided. "We shouldn't have much
between then and now. The director is not happy however."
"Yay." She shrugged. "I don't want someone like that near my
nieces or my nephew, or those kids who look up to you guys.
There's enough abusers in the press already."
"There are," Tony agreed. "He called and I told him I
agreed. I didn't want him in the training area. I didn't
want him anywhere near the kids. I didn't want him anywhere near
my robots or JARVIS. Were you going to rip him apart?"
"Probably not today. I gave them a nudge." She
grinned. "The things you learn in advanced physics at prep
Tony looked at Phil. "We have got to look at her school to see if they're making assassins too."
"They weren't that good," Phil said. "They let her take pole dancing as a PE, Stark."
"It's still a great cardio workout," Dawn reminded him. "It was that or spinning."
"I doubt you would've liked spinning," Tony agreed. "They did?"
"They taught it there on-site so I took it off-site," she said. "Still have the pole too."
Tony shook his head quickly. "Okay then."
"I took belly dancing with her," Pepper called from her desk.
"I'm better at it now," Dawn quipped with a grin back at her then at the guys. "I take that with the twins."
"Yes, because they need to be bigger teases than you are," Tony said sarcastically.
"We take yoga too, boss."
He shook his head. "Callia's not allowed to take belly dancing,
pole dancing, or anything that would make her a dick tease."
"She's not. She is taking yoga with us soon though. She has to be eight to join the class."
Tony whimpered. "Why?"
"It's good for her. She needs a PE."
Tony walked off to bang his head into a wall.
"Assessment turn ins are later," she reminded him with a smile and a wave.
Phil smirked ever so slightly. "Nicely played," he said quietly. "Sunday at what time?"
"You only do a few hours?"
"No, before then I have three other classes you probably won't be interested in. That's my range time."
"I want to see the others." He walked off. "Ten?"
"Nine," she sighed.
"Fine." He smiled. "I'll treat to lunch."
"I bring some yogurt." She shrugged and got back to work.
She pulled together Callia's assessments for Tony and handed them to him
at noon so he could leave in time. Callia went with him and was
dressed very nicely. Though she needed a bigger shirt.
Phil nodded at the trainer. "I'm redoing her evaluations for field readiness," he said quietly.
"She told us." He looked at him. "You may not recruit."
"I'm not here for that. If they want to talk about SHIELD, she can hand them my phone number."
"Good." He pointed. "She's in gymnastics."
"Slightly. Just enough to be able to handle something better. She didn't want to learn the rest."
"That doesn't surprise me." He was led there and settled in to
take notes on Dawn's progress. She was embarrassed but she got
over it when the coach barked at her. They clearly understood what
she was training for. She wasn't very graceful at it. It
was building on what Natasha had taught her. Flips, strength
training in her arms, avoidance maneuvers using various moves.
She did vault and did it fairly well. That took a lot of leg and
arm strength so that was understandable. She was also showing off
according to the coach, who swatted her for it. New students came
in so Dawn toweled her face and chest off, moving them to another
room. The weight room. He made notes on what she could lift
and had her do some single, heavy lifts instead of training reps.
She more than made agent standards.
He let her go through her workout in private while he outlined some
training she could use. He'd talk to her about it later. It
would go well with her other skills. Including a new martial arts
form. After her workout, she took a shower, did some time in the
pool. She didn't dive, which surprised him. With her other
training it might go well. He made a note to ask about that.
They had diving boards and he didn't think Dawn was scared of
heights. If so, he'd help her with that.
After an hour of laps, she moved to the water aerobics class.
Which was goofy but she seemed to enjoy it. Then it was a quick
lunch of yogurt while she stretched. He sat down across from
her. "Reach this way," he ordered. She moaned and did,
wincing some. "Sore?"
"That stupid cramp came back. I get them sometimes."
"Have you tried to up your protein and potassium levels?"
She shook her head. "I tried to have a banana when they happened but it didn't help."
"Try orange juice. You could use the fluid and calories anyway,
Dawn." She nodded she'd try that. He helped her finish
stretching. "Now what?"
"Now, my next trainer's running late." Someone cleared their
throat so she groaned and rolled backwards and to her feet. "You
made it," she said with a smile.
"I did. Did you beat him?"
"I threatened to rip his molecules apart. I made sure he realized I could."
"Good." He smiled. "Agent Coulson, we're doing some spell practice with fighting spells."
"Excellent. The only other witch I know and have worked with is a pacifist."
"I've met Tara. She's a sweet girl and your kids are terrors in the making."
Phil nodded. "They are four." The trainer laughed and took
them into a specially shielded basement area to go over the various
shielding spells and then some new offensive ones from some very old,
dusty books. Dawn picked them up quickly enough and got assigned
some homework to look them up and see if she could make them work better
for her specific magic style.
Dawn took another shower because she was shaky. He got her some
juice. She smiled in thanks and drank it, then ate her second
yogurt before getting redressed and grabbing things for the range.
It was nearly three he realized. She had spent over an hour at
magic practice. That was beyond what she usually did in the
field. Interesting. "Do all classes if you can," he ordered
"I am. I do each week to make sure I stay in practice." She
started with throwing knives. She was mediocre but decent enough
for it to be counted as a partial skill. She moved to lesser
handguns then up to her former class of hand cannons as he usually
called them. She was spot on. She had gotten the same score
as Natasha usually did. He made that note and noted what else she
had. She was learning how to use a whip, working on her aim.
It was decent but not great.
"The Xander that's a dom taught me at that convention I went to so I
could ask the potion making Xanders questions," she said with a
grin. "He's able to pop buttons."
"That's a very fine aim." He watched her. "Shift your weight
to the right," he said. She did and it helped. He smiled
and made that note for her. "Bows?"
"I have one other before I go there." She pulled out her old
crossbow and put it aside. Then she pulled out her laser pistol to
work with. The beam was off. "I haven't let them look it
over to see if it can be uncranked. I've tinkered but I think it's
some sort of focusing problem."
"Probably. Have Stark look at it." She nodded. It got
finished and put up. Then her crossbow, which was spot on.
Then she pulled out a compound bow. He watched. She was
excellent. Clint had taught her well. "Single string?"
"I can't get the range. I can't compensate for the weighted pull difference."
"There's ways around that." He looked at her. "Can you use Barton's bow?"
"Yeah, I can. That's how he taught me."
"Do you have his backup?" She nodded, pulling it out of her
bag. "Try that. Let me see if we can work up one for
you. I know his is set to his muscle mass."
"Yeah, I know." She adjusted it down and then used it. Still
the bullseye but not as tightly grouped. He made notes and had
taken film with his phone. She readjusted the bow for him and put
it back, going back to hers. She was closer on with it. "I'm
taking the girls and Sean deer hunting this year."
"Wonderful. I'm sure they'll enjoy it." He smiled at her
grin. She made a few very good shots before they were interrupted
by someone who wanted to talk to Phil about SHIELD. He patted Dawn
on the arm, letting her practice while he talked to the young woman.
Phil Coulson walked into his director's office, putting down a list. "That is the bottom level for Avengers training."
Fury read it. "That's going to exclude most everyone." He looked at him. "That's higher than they had been."
"Testing it against the registered skills of the top special agents, the top five percent can attain those."
"That's who we'd want anyway," he agreed. He read them over. "Who did you test these on?"
"Dawn." Fury glared at him. "We all agreed that her
post-roadtrip skills were the baseline for anyone who wanted to test to
be on the team, sir. Those are the formal standards I'm
setting. The others, including Captain Rogers, agreed that they're
a good place to start from. That plus a skill they can use on the
team or to backup a current member."
"They're high but not unattainable," Fury decided, putting them down. "How is she on the range?"
Phil smirked slightly. "She's excellent, sir. While they
were gone they fixed her issues with needing a heavier gun so she can
use most anything. She's able to use a crossbow much better
now. She's been training for demon hunting." Which wasn't
really a lie but it was a partial omission.
"Fencing at this time. She could already behead. She needed more refinement in her style."
"Anything else she's training in?"
"She's taken some limited tumbling classes to aid her hand-to-hand
skills. Mostly of the avoidance method. I've suggested a
different martial arts for her to train in to help with her current
skills. It's more weapons oriented anyway."
Fury nodded. "Is she going on the team?"
"No but she's got to protect the twins and Sean, plus Callia, Liz, and
whatever they name Pepper's newest one. If something were to
happen she'd help her spouses. She's also stated repeatedly that
she's staying on-call for huge demon emergencies. Which her skills
are good for."
"Anyone at wherever she's training at that could join us?"
"A young woman earlier asked me questions for her brother. He's
training there but comes in after school on Thursday. I've been
invited to talk to him that day. A few want to be demon hunters
and talked to me about our mission and goals in Cleveland and LA. I
think two of them could pass the agent training to do that and the
other one could help with Gunn's people better. She's very
administrative so she'd do it fairly well. She might take a place
on the team like Winifred used to."
"Good to know. Do they just train future demon hunters?"
"It's members of varying pagan faiths, sir. Some want to be able
to protect themselves if something should happen. Some of them
want to protect their family in their native covens and groups.
Some have seen the demon menace for what it is and are interested in not
being a victim. Callia Stark's going to be getting a self-defense
trainer from there in a few months." Fury stared at him.
"She is still a pre-called slayer. She has to train in case the
unthinkable happens and she's called. They introduced me to the
other one that trains there. She's a year younger than Callia but
she's been training for about a year now. Her mother's from the
coven in Pennsylvania but her father has partial custody and he lives up
"Good to know. So Summers could end up basically being her watcher."
"Yes, she could. She's already going to be her assistant at Stark."
"Interesting. Is Callia's training going all right?"
"So far her self-defense training has been very thorough in helping her
get away and think about what she's doing. He's emphasized problem
solving through obstacle courses as well as the basics of how to
protect one's self. Stark tried the basic karate class and said it
didn't fit what she'd need."
"No, I can agree with that. She'll need to be able to think on her
feet in the lab or if she's called." He considered it. "The
other ones you're wanting to recruit?" Phil pulled up their files
to show him. "Good qualifications."
"I went over them with Colonels Sheppard and Clay, sir. They've
both had their groups back us up for things and these ones do specialize
in covert action so they could be the backup team that we need for more
"They can," he decided. He handed the tablet back. "Let me know how that turns out once they've signed on."
"I'm taking Summers with me. She can tell them the real truth they'll want, and her BS meter is very finely tuned."
"She probably needed it at Stark." He waved a hand.
"Go." Phil nodded and left. He pulled up the list of agent
scores to compare them. He had six that would qualify out of
thirty-eight upper field agents. Barton missed it on one level,
Romanoff on another, but they were good in other ways. So he'd
make it a bit flexible. He pushed those levels down a bit
further. That added in another two possibles. Though the
Avengers probably wouldn't accept that. They didn't like them.
Then he posted them to get people interested in training for the future
open spots. Avengers would get worn out faster than regular
Clint felt his arm be yanked on and followed willingly. He knew
someone had found out. He looked at Benji, then around then back
at him. "Problems?"
"SHIELD?" he demanded quietly. "Really?"
Clint nodded, leaning against the wall at his back. "Your higher
up talked to ours about some bad shit going on inside the agency and the
possibility that you guys were going to be attacked." Ethan
stomped over. "Sorry."
"I knew something wasn't right about you. I thought it was all the computer stuff."
"I do have encyclopedic knowledge of most snipers, terrorist groups, and
other evil shits. It's part of my job for SHIELD."
"SHIELD?" Ethan complained. "Like Avengers SHIELD?"
"Yeah." He smirked and messed up his carefully combed hair.
"You might make that connection." Ethan and Benji both
stared. He grinned. "You guys needed someone to stop the BS
that was going on. I'm technically free outside Avengers battles
and I have over fifteen years being a sniper and covert agent for
them." He shifted his weight some. "You guys weren't
supposed to find out. The Secretary was going to tell you later on
but then someone blew up part of the Kremlin so plans changed.
For all purposes, I'm here as an analyst unless you need me to pull
sniper or surveillance duty."
Ethan moved closer. "You looked awfully clueless."
Clint grinned. "Fifteen years as a covert agent, Hunt. Both
inside and outside of terrorist groups. I've trained rookies to do
the same thing. And yeah, I was using it to evaluate where your
head was at so I could figure out a hierarchy of 'I can trust this one'
because clearly someone inside IMF you can't."
"There's more than one," Benji said. "How did you learn the computer skills?"
"Agent Romanoff taught me." He grinned. "We traded favors
more than once. She's better but we have most of the same files in
our databases. Including a more comprehensive one Stark put
together because he hates not knowing who the threats around him are."
"So you're that archer guy," Ethan said, grinning slightly. Clint grinned back and nodded. "The redhead?"
"Oh. She's pretty."
"She is, and deadly," Clint assured him with a grin. "And if you touch that spouse, I'll kill your ass."
Ethan laughed. "Good!" They walked off together. "So you can really pull analyst duty?"
"And then some actually. With all the press, I got moved to training so I've been doing it while training rookies."
"Huh," Benji said. "Does Stark really have an AI?"
"Yup. JARVIS is great. We love the AI that runs
everything. He's kinda neat and he doesn't exactly hover but if
you need something in an associated way he'll be there for you. He
hovers around the house because of Dawn."
"Dawn?" Ethan asked.
"The perky brunette PA Stark has?" Benji asked. "The one in the chainmail?"
Clint smirked and nodded. "Yeah, that's Dawn." Ethan
shuddered. "She's a sweet girl. Only mean when she has to be
but she draws trouble like you do, Hunt."
"So, are you staying Brandt?"
"Yes. We can use an excuse to keep the press away from me."
He slipped into his sunglasses and stared at him. "You never want
to have them stalk you. I've seen deer that were less paranoid as
they were being stalked than they make most of us on the team.
They annoy us constantly about Dawn's weight, Dawn's outfits, Dawn's job
and if she does or doesn't help us during things. When are we
going to have kids." He shook his head quickly. "This is a
really nice vacation from the press."
Benji looked at him oddly. "You're a bit cranked. You'll fit in well on our team."
Ethan nodded. "Probably. Got anything you haven't told me yet?"
Clint pulled out a little zip case and handed it over. "The USB
keys the Secretary was carrying when he was killed. At least two
others are mission profiles."
Ethan smirked, taking it to check them over. "That could help. Thanks."
"Welcome. Beyond that, someone higher up is thinking about merging
our agencies somehow." He shrugged. "Could be worse I
"I'd never put on spandex and go into battle against aliens," Benji complained.
Clint smirked. "Wasn't my first idea either but I needed to."
"Please don't encourage him to put on spandex," Ethan complained.
He shook his head quickly. "How many reports have you sent in?"
"Three. Fury is not amused. Coulson's highly amused though," he said with a grin.
"Do we have codenames?" Benji asked. "Always wanted one."
"I have not been using real names in case. So far I've been
calling you the British Dawn Prototype. He's been called a Flying
Squirrel a few times. And she's been called Weepy." Ethan stopped
to glare at him. Clint smirked slightly. "You are." He
walked off. "C'mon, Rocky. We have work to do, don't we?"
"I'm going to shoot you for that," Ethan said.
Clint smirked at him. "You can try but Dawn might show up and kick your ass for me. She's highly overprotective."
"Great," Ethan said dryly. "Flying squirrel? Seriously?"
Clint grinned. "You earned it."
"Shut up." This put a whole new spin on their current problem but
at least he had competent backup. Though, he knew hardly anything
about SHIELD outside what had been put in the press. He could see
why good agents wanted to get away from the press stalking them.
He would too. Benji had all sorts of questions but they'd have to
wait until they were in private for them to come out.
Dawn was teasing herself one night and felt Clint open his bond to
her. She smiled and sent something at him, getting something happy
back. She checked, he was free. The kids were asleep.
He gave her a placement picture so she appeared there, kissing him
desperately. He pulled her closer by winding his fingers into her
hair. "I missed you," he murmured. "We have to be quiet."
"I'm all for the quiet." She kissed him again, struggling with his
pants and belt. She finally got it undone and he got her clothes
off her. She let him brace against the desk in the crappy motel
room, climbing on top of him. He let out a tiny moan but sank into
her and they kissed to muffle the noises they were making. They
were both in heat. It had been two months and he was desperate for
Dawn. She was just as needy and desperate. She came quickly
and he moaned but she kept going for him. He was getting a bit
rough but it was necessary. He had to have her, he had to come, he
had to mark her as his again. He finally came and helped her
across to another one, making her pant against his shoulder. They
finally caught their breath and he kissed her. She smiled.
"I missed you too," she said quietly.
He grinned. "Of course you did. Everything good?"
"I had to show my ass a bit. They wanted to put a wife beater on
the team." Clint winced but he was pulling out of her. She
stayed wrapped around him to cuddle. "I nearly ripped him
apart. That's how Phil found out about my training."
"Who else knows?"
"Just Phil. He wrote out formal standards for team
training." She smiled. "Fury lowered them some but they're
"Good." He took another kiss, wincing when he heard someone moving
next door. She smiled and took one last kiss then grabbed her
clothes so she could disappear. He cleaned himself up and made
sure she hadn't left anything on him. He had needed that. It
was what was going to make things easier in the morning.
Tony and Pepper were going over some paperwork when Dawn came in.
Liz had gotten them up at dawn by walking of all things. And
promptly setting off her apnea alarm when the mask fell off. Tony
watched Dawn then smiled. "Someone snuck away," he said quietly.
"I hope it doesn't hurt Clint's mission."
"It shouldn't. She's always careful about that and so is
he." He grinned at her. "She looks calmer than she has in
"A good man can do that to you."
"Aww, do I make you calmer?"
"No, you make me insane." He laughed and patted her on the
stomach. The baby kicked him for waking it. "Gee, thanks,"
"Only the best for you, Pepper."
Callia ran in with her tablet. "I got the list done!" She
put it on the desk and climbed up over her father to sit on the desk in
front of them. "There's three lists. One's popular names,
but I don't really *really* like them. But they're popular.
There's a list of cute names, and a list of names I liked when I read
them and looked them up." She pulled up all three on virtual
screens for them.
"So you have sixty names?" Pepper asked. That was a very Tony thing to do.
"No, I put ten on each list and I figured we could make the twenty while
I explained it. Like a report?" she offered. "They said I
needed to do better on oral reports."
"Sure, that'll work," Tony agreed.
"The first one on the names I liked was Oliver. I liked the kitty
named it in the movie." She grinned. "There's not many of
them now, outside of the _Harry Potter_ books." She pointed at it
and the entry came up.
"Oliver," Tony said, looking at Pepper.
"You don't like it?" Callia asked.
"I don't dislike it," Tony said. "Let's make two sets of
categories. We'll break each one up into thirds. Top third,
bottom third, no real opinion on it at this time for the middle.
One set for first names and one for middle names." He drew that up
for them in new virtual screens. He created different colored
writing for him and Pepper. "I think Oliver makes a pretty decent
middle name." He put it about sixty-five percent. Pepper
added to that. "For a first name?" He looked at Pepper.
"I've only known one Oliver and he was mean," she said. She put it
in the middle. "I'll put it there because I haven't really
thought about it." Tony added his there too. Callia
presented names for them to rate. Legolas got a veto by Tony, even
as a middle name. She was to save that for her aunt's future
kid. Clint would appreciate his kid being named after an archer
and Dawn didn't really have a bias against elves.
"You could name him after the grandfather's," Howard said as he faded in.
"Not a chance," Tony said.
"Why?" Howard complained.
Callia looked at him. "Because you were an asshole and the other
one doesn't think that Pepper's like my mommy." She turned back
around. "Does Daddy have any half-siblings from the bimbos?"
"No," Howard said firmly.
"Only one but she died in a car crash when I was ten," Tony told her. "Who told you about that?"
"All the news thingies that Stepmommy Steve watches have him with
different women who weren't Grandma. Of course he had
bimbos. Good girls wouldn't go out with someone married."
"Very true," Pepper agreed, smiling at her. Howard moaned and disappeared.
"At least he sounds like a ghosty now," Callia said with a grin for her father.
Who kissed her on the head. "Behave."
"Fine. Even though it's not fun." She went back to her name
lists. She had a fourth lists, ones she *really* liked and wanted
to use some day when she had babies. She shyly pulled them up and
told them that. They liked those a lot more so she'd let Pepper
have one or two for her baby brother. Even though they didn't like
Briar as a name for a boy. The naming site had said it was.
Christopher Darren Oliver Stark was going to be a fine boy. Tony hoped.
Dawn woke up feeling like shit. Clint had been gone now for almost
three months. She hated to sleep alone. And she felt like
shit. She got up anyway, got the twins up and dressed so they
could go do lessons with Callia. She got them to Stark in a cab,
even though it was a pretty day for a walk. They went to the gym
while she went to the infirmary. "Doc?" Their other doctor,
Dr. Shivs, came out of the office. "I feel like shit."
"Okay," he said. "What sort of shit? Hungover?
Flu?" She turned a bit green. He considered it. "Let's
do three things. One, have some water," he said, getting her a
cold bottle of water from the mini fridge in the office. "Second,
let's take an EPT. Third, log in so they don't wonder if you had a
She logged in through her phone. The water came back up quickly. The EPT turned pink. "Shit!" she said.
He winced. "I take it you're seeing something you don't like?"
"With a spouse angsting on the run because she did something stupid and
the other on long term assignment? Maybe." She came out and
held it up.
"Yeah, that's a plus sign." He grinned. "Congratulations."
"So this is morning sickness?"
"No, I believe this is the flu." He smiled. "You have an OB chosen?"
"Good. Call, make an appointment."
She nodded. "Will. Anti-flu?"
"No," he said with a grin. "There's a whole list of things you can't take."
"Great." She walked off, going up to her desk. She made an
appointment in the elevator. The nurse was very cheerful to hear
from her. She sat down to sip her water while she worked.
First, she wrote her trainers. They had to know. It might
not be possible for her to keep doing everything she usually did on
training days. Secondly, she thought about writing Clint, but he
was really busy. She thought about calling Natasha, but she was
still being a frigid bitch about everything. She thought about
telling her mother but she'd start to sob. Dawn looked at the
water then around. "Fuck!" she said loudly.
"Did you hurt yourself?" JARVIS asked.
"No, just venting," she said dryly. "Thanks, JARVIS."
"Please do watch your blood pressure."
She looked at the nearest speaker. "It's not time to worry about
that yet and mine's usually okay. Thanks though. It's good
that someone's going to nag me the way I do others."
"I believe that may be a foregone conclusion," the AI said dryly. "Including your spouse."
"He's on assignment. Probably for at least another month."
"We'll figure out some way for you two to talk, Dawn."
"Thanks, JARVIS. I have to tell Phil." He came off the elevator looking concerned. "What? Already?"
"You yelled a swear word like it was important?"
She nodded. "I'm only on for firing duties as of today."
He blinked a few times. "Really?" She nodded once and sipped some water. "Early start to that problem."
"Shivs thought it might be the flu. I have an appointment tomorrow
at 2." She made note of it on the schedule. She looked at
him. "So I can shoot, but I can't get into fist fights."
"Agreed." He hugged her. "It'll be fine. Find a quiet
moment to talk to Barton." She nodded. He went to his
temporary/stolen office to get comfortable and smug. Dawn would do
fine and he'd help by fussing over her until Barton got off
assignment. Though he did let it slip to Xander.
Xander looked up and grinned at John. "We're going to have someone new to spoil sometime soon."
"Pepper's due in a few months."
"Really?" he asked, smiling at Xander. Xander nodded.
"Huh." He stuffed his mouth before he burst out in laughter.
Dawn was going to be the world's fussiest mother.
Tony looked up at the venting going on that JARVIS was clearly paying
attention to the next morning. "JARVIS, why is Dawn venting?"
"She has the flu, sir."
"Is that all?"
"No but that's what's making her feel miserable at this moment."
"So she's missing her spouses again?" he guessed.
"She needs to talk to at least one of them and cannot due to their current locations, which is why she's venting."
"Why do they *need* to talk?"
"Because soon it will not be the flu."
"Ah!" He nodded. "Great news. She's not allowed at any battle anytime in the near future."
"She's restricted herself to firing positions only, sir."
"I might accept that but not likely."
"I do believe she'd argue with you."
"Probably. She does like that. Tell her to quit venting and just call."
"He's busy," the AI said. "Importantly busy."
"Charming." He got up to go stop her. It was probably not
setting a good example for the kids. He found her in the storage
closet. "No kids today?" he asked.
"Helping Mom clean up the house. The twins volunteered and Callia
thought it'd be a great thing too because they all like helping
Grandma. They even got Sean into it to help lift and tote
things." She sipped her water.
He grinned. "Ginger ale, Dawn."
"Still the flu, boss."
"Yeah," he snorted. "Pepper had morning sickness from the middle of her first month until her fifth."
"Wonderful." She leaned against a wall. "I need to beat one of them and get the other one free for a few hours."
"Which you can't do," he quipped. "C'mon. Go have a girl
talk with Pepper so she can horrify you with tales of hemorrhoids and
all that great stuff. We can even let Callia start a new list."
"He might be a junior." She trudged off. "Going to see Pepper."
"Tell your mother too."
"Mom's squeal will alert the press. That's not how I want them to find out, Tony."
"Yeah, me either." He closed the closet door and went back to his lab to cackle.
Clint looked at the chat window that popped up. He was seriously
in the middle of something so the 'did you ever think being called a
mother fucker was a good thing' did not amuse him. He shut it down
after answering back something rude. Six hours later, when he
wasn't in the middle of something and casually working on something he
got another strange text from the same ID. 'How good is your
counting?' He glared at it. Then he typed in 'my counting is
//Can you count all the way to nine?//
//Of course I can. Who the hell are you?//
//You know who I am. You know me VERY well. Which is also
why you get to now call yourself a mother fucker, because you will be
when you get home.//
Clint paused. That was pretty specific. //D?//
//How'd you know?// Yeah, he could hear the sarcasm.
//Kinda in the middle of something.//
//So, you can count to 9?//
"You know I can," he muttered. "What is it..." The two clues
slammed together in his tired brain. //You're what?//
//I hate this 'flu' thing. I'll let you get back to work. I'm going to share with N later. Bye!//
Clint glared at the 'anonymous_wife has signed off' message. "Fuck, this is not the time," he muttered.
"Who was it?" his contact asked.
"Someone I used to know. Sharing odd news in her life." He
cleared off that history and closed the window. This needed to end
tomorrow. It really did. Before Dawn went to find Natasha
and have a fight with her.
It took Dawn nearly two weeks to find Natasha, and found her in a bad
position. She gathered what she'd need, including body armor, and
comfortable clothes. She sent herself over there, shooting the two
people who had her hostage. "You're not working, right?" she
"I was not. Why are you here, Dawn?"
"Shut the fuck up and let's finish this rescue bullshit," she
ordered. Natasha glared. "Yay! Not in the mood.
It's this or I'm going to puke on you." She got her handcuffs
undone and helped her up. "C'mon."
"I'm actually working toward something," Natasha noted.
Dawn turned and glared. "No, you're not. We're going to have
a girl talk." Natasha growled and tried to slap her. Dawn
caught her hand. "That was very stupid." She stared at
her. "Let's. Go." She took her by force to a hotel
room and slammed her into a wall. "Did you think we wanted you to
"Yeah, sure you are. That's why you have 164 new stitches after a
bar fight with some retired spies, which you won until they drugged you
and stabbed you a few times."
"How did you hear about that?"
"Vessily told me. In fact he bragged *hard* about it."
Natasha was glaring again. "Now, are you done with this
bullshit? Because I could use my wife back, Clint could use some
backup, and you're here playing fuck off reindeer games. Because
if you're not done yet, then I've got to go help him myself and he
doesn't want that to happen right now." Natasha attacked.
Dawn blocked it and slammed her against the wall magically, holding her
there. "I'm sorry, I'm forbidden to spar for the next seven
months." Natasha gaped, staring at her.
"Yeah, pregnant, and you just tried to hit me on the stomach.
Thankfully I have on body armor." She stared at her. "You
think you're done now? You're depressed, you're bordering on going
out in a bang on purpose, and you're leaving Clint too exposed so he's
nearly dying. I didn't want to sneak in to help him last night but
I had to. None of the ones working with him will remember that
but I did have to do a shitload of his stitches for him. And then
killed two others." She stared her down, moving closer.
"Are. You. Done. Yet?"
"I was helping free some people the Russian mob have hostage when they captured me."
"Then let's blow their asses up and get back to New York."
"You're taking me back?"
"No, we have some talking to do before then, but you have a room in the
house." She stared at her. "The hormones aren't making me
any more forgiving than they did before, Nat. As a matter of fact,
they're turning me into a raging, psychotic bitch now and then.
Especially when I spend all day puking my damn guts up. Beyond
that, I could actually use my stupid ass wife there to help me with
things, like talking me down from stabbing someone last night when they
tried to break in."
"Who did that?"
"That Brit Para you like to tease, Barney. I apologized and told
him you weren't home." She stared at her. "Now, are you done
so we can act like adults? Because frankly, I'm more worried that
I'm not going to be able to protect myself and the twins or Sean
soon. The person Fury picked to temporarily replace you is a
woose. I've ended up in three battles recently firing from Clint's
usual location, using enhanced rounds no less, and I don't really want
to have another gunshot wound this month."
"You have what? Let me go!"
"Shut up!" She stared at her. "Unlike your stitches, mine
are clean." She stared at her. "Are you done yet?"
"I need to free them."
"I'll help you do that tonight."
"They've moved them. I was trying to find where when I got captured."
She sighed. She looked down then at her wife again. "Who have you asked?"
"I was scouting."
"You have a better information network than the Mossad, Nat. You
can probably find out within hours. Then we can free them, blow
them up, and go home."
Dawn held up a hand. "Fine, whatever. I'll go help Clint
out. You do your shit and show up whenever you're fucking
ready. I'll keep your shit in your room until then." She
left, the magic releasing Natasha once she was gone.
Natasha looked around the room. It wasn't her hotel room. It
had her things in it. Dawn had planned that. She calmed
herself down and nudged open the bond for the first time in nearly four
months. Clint was in imminent danger and had it blocked off.
She concentrated. He wasn't nearby. He was in New York it
felt like. No, there was Dawn. The other Avengers. The
other guys weren't happy but yay. Dawn had a very large machine
gun. She was using it well too. She winced at the new graze
she got but Clint was in worse shape. She heard Steve's prepared
'we're taking these people into SHIELD custody' speech and then they
evacuated the good guys, who were supposedly the villains anyway.
Clint was snarling at Dawn, who stomped off again. They needed to
do something about those hormones.
She found her phone and started to call around to see where those
innocents had been moved. Then she could go home and get into a
screaming match with her spouses.
Dawn watched Clint's wounds be stitched up. "Dawn," Clint said once he was done.
"Shut the fuck up," she said quietly, staring at him. "I tried to get someone else. She's borderline losing it."
"164 new stitches because she won the bar fight against the retired spies."
Clint winced. "Damn."
"Yeah, so ...." She waved a hand. "Whatever." She
hopped off the bed and started to move but he pulled her back. She
gave a pointed look at the other area with the rest of his present
'team'. He shrugged and held her, letting her rest against
him. "Can't we just undo that shit of hers?" she muttered.
"If I could, I would, but I wouldn't give up the rest that we have for
it," he said quietly. She looked up at him. "I
wouldn't." She smiled slightly. "You are not to do that
though. I'm debating if I should start screaming or drinking."
"Not like it was the first one. We're down to a few wooses who
can't hit robots or me doing it from your usual spot with a gun."
He winced. "So, whatever. I'm wearing body armor. I
"No, I mean all the time. By the way, stabbed Nat's friend the Para."
"He was breaking in."
"Even better! I'll go do it next." He kissed her and she
smiled. "Go rest. We're going to yell at you later."
"Bite me." She kissed him and stomped off, going up to her desk to
check in then home. She was exhausted anyway. Steve was
looking anxious. "We're all fine."
"You're not fine and you're not to be that close." He stared at
her. "You're endangering your own life and ....that one's."
She snorted. "Did you have backup?"
"Then shut up!" she shouted, making him flinch. "I do what I have
to do, the same as you do what you have to do. At least I'm smart
enough to wear body armor." He backed down. "If we had
*real* backup, I wouldn't have had to be there."
"You ran off the last one," Tony quipped as he walked around them.
"The idiot appeared drunk for a battle. Hell yes I ran his ass
off! Was he trying to get dead?" She looked at Steve
again. "If you don't like it, find other backup for the next six
months. Because right now, I have a headache, I'm achy, my magic
is flaring oddly, and I'm still nauseous. I haven't kept food down
in three goddamn days, Steve. I don't rightly care." She
stomped off. She had to come back to get her phone then stomped
off again. "Now I know how single mothers feel!" she said,
slapping the button to the elevator.
Tony blinked a few times. "She's been holding that in for over a month now."
Steve glared at him. "We can't let her risk herself."
"I'm not. She's supposed to be out of harm's way doing the sniper
duty. This time that wasn't possible so she got the biggest gun
she could and used it. We needed the backup. We didn't have
it, but we needed it. Coulson and Xander are off helping with
whatever emergency they found on the west coast. We had no choice
and we were all guarding her. She took the most protected position
Clint came off the elevator. "That was protected? I could've hit them from across the street for you."
"She's not using your bow. She's using a gun. Beyond that,
we were too far for you to use a bow. She might've used magic but
it's flaring due to her not being able to keep anything down."
Clint winced. "She did that when she had the flu once."
"She's doing it again and she just said it's been three days," Tony told him.
"Yeah, that usually happens after two." He concentrated. She was miserable. "I'm nearly done."
"Good!" Tony clapped him on the injured arm, making him wince and
tense up. "Because she's just announced she feels like a single
mother." He walked off. "I need a drink. Rogers, find
us better backup please."
"I'll try." He rubbed his forehead, looking at Clint. "Did
she tell you there's been at least three attempts to get her recently?"
he asked quietly.
"She mentioned one. Who wasn't going to try to hurt her probably."
"No, he was going to capture her. We've had a few of those.
We've had a few that decided that you two weren't around so she was
vulnerable and hated for making you two soft and squishy to quote one
who was dying in the parking garage here. Which, Callia ended up
seeing because Dawn was getting her from gymnastics when they were
"Where's Nat? She hasn't reappeared?"
"No. Not that we've seen. We know Dawn went to do something
earlier somewhere else. Not sure beyond that." He saw
Bruce. "Dawn went home."
"She shouldn't be alone. She might get attacked again."
"Happy would've driven her," Steve said. "He's done it a few times when she got too tired."
"Why is she so tired and sick?" Clint asked.
"Because someone dosed her again," Bruce said bluntly. "Not sure
when but it was recent enough. We think it's one kid but we're not
sure. All we know is that her magic is off because she can't
eat. Her energy is down because she can't eat. Her temper is
up because she can't sleep. How close are you to being done or
can you somehow mend a fence with Natasha? Even temporarily until
you're able to talk things out?"
"I'm within weeks." He thought at Natasha, who was open for a
change. He asked her where she was. She spat at him.
He sighed and pushed harder, pointing out that Dawn was being attacked
because they weren't there right now and she was vulnerable.
Natasha cut him off. "She's not in the mood to hear it." He
thought at Dawn. Who was asleep and on her way to New
Jersey. "When did we move again?"
"Whoever's driving her is taking her to the bridge to Jersey
City." Steve called that in. SHIELD had the car stopped and
her rescued. The driver... someone who had been writing to her for
years. The agents that had rescued her brought her to the
infirmary for observation. Clint went down to check on her then on
his current 'team'. They were all glaring. He
shrugged. "I was not informed of that."
"SHIELD?" one demanded.
Clint stared at her then smirked. "Yeah, why?" They
gaped. He shrugged. "Not my call, people." He walked
off again. He was not in the mood for this. Maybe some gym
time. He ran into Callia, picking her up to hug her. "Are
"No." She snorted, looking at him. "Aren't you done yet?"
"Quit swearing." He put her down, staring down at her. "Why are you wandering?"
"Because Auntie Dawn feels miserable and I was going to offer her a hug
since she hasn't gotten any recently." She went to the infirmary
and got around the doctors no matter how much they complained about
it. She snuggled into Dawn's side, giving her the cuddle she
needed. "You're here with me and it's all good." Dawn winced
but cuddled her back. "I may not be the unclie or the auntie but I
still cuddle the best ever for my age group." Dawn relaxed and
let others handle it so she could rest. She snuggled in and let
the nurse put a sheet over them. "Why can't she eat?" she asked
"Because pregnant women get something called morning sickness that makes
them feel like they have the flu. It means she vomits a lot."
"Isn't there an IV for that?"
"Yes there is." She looked at the doctor, who nodded and pointed. "We have her on one, Callia."
"Good!" She wiggled a bit. "There, nearly as good as a kitty
cat or a puppy." Dawn shifted to curl around her, which ripped
out the IV. They got it restarted on her hand and moved the
pole. It came out again. They'd leave it out for a bit once
the new bleeding spot was bandaged.
Callia patted her and it was okay. It'd be all okay soon.
Natasha got back to New York and promptly ended up in SHIELD
custody. She stared at the man who came into the room she had been
put in, not an interrogation room but an office/meeting room. "I
have something I need to be doing. You could have asked politely."
"You've ignored all the others," Fury said. "Are you done?"
"Yes." She stared at him. "Why are you trying to get
Barton's child killed?" He actually flinched. "We will work
out our own things and the problems on the team. For now, please
remove yourself from our marital spat."
"I was going to offer to send you on a mission with Barton."
"I believe we both need to be home at the moment. Especially since
our wife is back in the infirmary for a poisoning attempt." He
stepped back. "Considering I couldn't even move around in Russia
without being noted, I doubt there are any missions anytime in the near
"We can reevaluate you."
She quirked an eyebrow up. "Which will put me back with the
trainees, which I am not suited for. I will find a position and
fill it. We still have need of guards at Stark apparently."
"Stark's been babying her."
"Good. Though that's not his job. He has one to do that
for." She got up and strolled around him. "Let me go check
on her so we can hold an adult conversation that does not require
screaming." She walked off.
"I can have your authority revoked," Fury called after her.
"That would give me much more time to stalk my wife and make sure no one
else takes that child. Which you have failed at repeatedly."
Fury grimaced. He hated having married agents under him.
Dawn woke up and ran to get sick. This was a really bad
habit. She didn't like this new habit of hers. Especially
when the heaving ripped up her throat and she started to see traces of
blood. She got up and took the medicine her OB had given
her. It wasn't helping but it had only been a week. She
turned around and found someone in the living room. "I see you did
"It took me four hours to find out where you had moved everyone to after
that attack." She stared at her. "You sound hoarse."
"I've thrown up every day for the last week and a half, Natasha. I
think that's a given." She sipped more apple juice. She
frowned, looking at it. "You're not juice."
Asclepias appeared, staring at her. "It is juice."
She let him sniff it. "What sort of apple is that?"
He sniffed and shook his head. "Never mind, that's not apple
juice." He cured the light poisoning. "Alexander needs to
take you into protective custody."
"Yeah, well, I gotta work to pay the bills," she said dryly. She
looked in the fridge then at him. "Got any good, surefire cures
for morning sickness that don't require me to buy herbs today?"
He smiled. "Not really." He scanned her. "Twins." He smiled.
"Don't really run in the family. They ran in Hylal's but not ours."
"I can see the end of the fertility drugs someone got you with
again." She pouted. "It'll be handled, Dawn. Calm
"I am calm. I just can't keep anything down and it's making me a horrible person to be around."
"All pregnant women have mood swings. You have powers that are pushing at you." She stared at him. "Not ours."
"The PTB." He nodded. "Can I kill them?"
"No. Unfortunately not." He smiled and handed her a shot
glass of apple juice. "Try that." She did and winced as the
warmth went through her. "It should be enough to help cure some of
the associated problems." He took the glass back then scanned her
again. "Better." He kissed her on the forehead.
"Hera's already looking over your OB's shoulder." She nodded she
had seen that. "Good girl. Relax, let it happen.
You'll enjoy it once the attacks stop."
"I was hoping I could," she said quietly. "Buffy and Pepper always made it look incredible."
"It is." He tested something else. "The Keys have all moved to protect them."
"I felt. It's why my magic is screwy." He nodded. "But I'm not supposed to be using huge amounts anyway."
"No, probably not." He patted her and left. She was sensible and knew her limitations.
Dawn got some cold water and ice from the freezer. She walked out
to sit in the living room. "So, anyway, you save them?"
"I did." She looked at her. "How did your apple juice get poisoned?"
"Don't know," she admitted. "It wasn't here. I've turned on
the lethal safety measures since things started to happen again.
The twins are with Mom for the time being until the attacks stop.
They said it was important when I told them." She sipped her
water. "Let me call in an hour late."
"Work from home today."
"I can't, Natasha. I have too many things I have to do in
person." She texted Pepper, who said she couldn't, that they had
shifted something to earlier late last night. Dawn updated her
phone and sighed. "Never mind. I can't. Callia's new
self defense instructor is showing up in a half-hour." She got
up. "You can stalk me there if you want."
"I can do so." She watched her walk off. She came out in
something less than flattering. "Why are you wearing that?"
"It's not resting on my stomach, which is sore. I can't wear
a dress today, I haven't shaved in weeks. Anytime I bend over I
get dizzy and nearly pass out." She pulled on her light jacket and
grabbed a few things. "Coming? I'm cabbing in. It's a
risk but a lesser one today."
"Yes." She got up and followed her. The cabby gave them a nervous look. She looked at Dawn.
Dawn looked at the driver. "Who paid what?" she sighed in resignation.
"I was supposed to take you to a building by the harbor."
"No. I'm going to work."
"They gave me money."
"I have three guns and two knives on me. Do I need to make sure I
get to work?" He shook his head. "Thank you. You can
point out you were threatened."
"I can do that." He pulled into traffic. "Why are they after
you so hard? This is the second person that's tried to get me to
pick you up. My wife wanted the money for our bills. Sorry."
Dawn waved a hand. "I'm kind of used to it." She rubbed her
forehead. "I have no idea but I'm about to go bitch on
someone." The driver smiled. She got let off outside the
towers and got out after paying him, and a tip. She walked inside,
scanned her ID card with security then got onto an elevator. Then
promptly off and called a security team to it while Natasha undid the
minor explosive on the button panel. She went to the other tower
and got access up to the Avengers level, using the walkway over.
The door that led to the walkway took any Stark ID card but any further
up and she'd need the special codes on her ID, which she still
had. She walked over and got to her desk by the emergency
stairs. Tony was frowning at the guy there. "Sorry, bomb on
the buttons this morning." She shook his hand.
"It's not a problem, Dawn. You've had a lot of those." She nodded. "Where are my future students?"
"I'm hoping all three are awake," she said dryly. She looked at Tony.
"In the gym. All three." She smiled and led them down there. "So you're a hunter?"
"I am. I have been for many years, Mr. Stark. I've never had
to work with a fully called slayer but I do know how to demon hunt and
what that will take. The other one that'll be working with me has
worked with two called slayers while they were hunting." Tony
smiled and nodded. "So far Dawn and you have done good. The
girls need to be able to think on their feet at high speed if she's
called and if her sisters are snatched." Dawn grinned. They
walked into the gym and he nodded. The girls were
stretching. "Is she staying in gymnastics?"
"She is for now. Her coach knows that she doesn't want to compete
but needs it for other reasons," Tony said. "I was honest with him
"Ladies, this is one of my former trainers. Henry, these are my nieces Artemis and Diana, and my other one Callia."
"Pleasure, ladies." He shook their hands. "I'm going to be working on your self defense from now on."
"The other coach?" Callia asked her father.
"You've learned all you can from him."
"Oh, okay. I was wondering why he was pouty Friday." Dawn
hugged her and she cuddled back. She looked at the trainer
again. "What area are you training us in?"
"Demon hunting." She shivered. "I have a partner who's
worked with slayers in the past. I've been hunting now for over
"Wow," Artemis said. "Nearly as long as Mom did."
"She made just over a decade," Dawn said. "Then the time up on Asgard."
The trainer smiled. "We want all of you girls to die of old
age. That's why we train you." They smiled at him. "So
let's see what you're made of so far. Dawn?"
"Not allowed," Callia ordered. "You can't hurt my cousin."
The trainer looked at her. "She's having my cousin in a few
"Oh, I did not know," he said, looking at Dawn.
"I sent everyone an email."
"I never check that," he complained. "But that explains why you've
been restricted to some areas." She nodded. "Good."
He smiled at the girls. "I can test you against each other and,
Callia, you're getting a training buddy as well so you don't have to
fight with someone so much bigger than you. She's in the same
position you are as a possible future slayer. She's a year
younger. She's only up here on weekends."
"That'd be cool!" She grinned at her father then at him. "Are we sparring?"
"Yes we are." He wasn't too much taller than she was and the twins
were taller than he was. He let Callia attack first and noted
where she had form flaws but got it done. Her last trainer had
been practical, not picky. Good. He smiled and patted her on
the head when he got her down. "Good. A solid foundation we
can build from." She nodded and bounced a bit. He tested
the twins and they were good. Their mother had been training them
and so has their aunt and uncle. It showed. He could work
with these ones.
Dawn went back to her desk to get back to work while Tony watched the
sparring. He wanted the best for Callia and the twins. The
twins would need it to keep from being snatched by some guy someday soon
and Callia would hopefully never need it for other reasons.
Clint looked around at the mess their clean up had caused. He
shrugged. "Okay." They looked at him. He
smirked. "Let's scatter." They did and he headed back to
Stark. He had a wife or two to stalk. He ran into Maria Hill
coming in with the clean up team. "Hey, Hill."
"Barton. Are you continuing on with this team?"
"If they need me they can call me. We talked about that last night."
She stared at him. "The director would like you to continue with them since you work so well with them."
"I'm not leaving my pregnant wife here for anything, Hill. If they need me, they'll call."
"She is?" she demanded.
"Yeah. We've been keeping it quiet but she is. Which means I
need to talk to someone about why Dawn keeps being attacked." He
stared at her. "Because I will destroy whoever decided to try to
hurt my kid." She shivered but nodded. "So you can tell him
if they want me they'll call."
"Definitely," Hunt said.
Clint smiled. "You can join SHIELD, guys." They shook their
heads. He smirked and walked around Hill. "Let me go get in
some stomach patting time."
"She.... the brunette one's pregnant?" Hunt demanded.
"Yeah." He smirked. "Just about two and a half months.
Which means I get to kick you around for that ordered pick up of her
the other day that she got free of."
"Yeah, I'd kick me around too. I didn't know."
"We're keeping it quiet. People are rabid over Dawn." He
shrugged. "It'll come out soon and then we'll see." He left,
going back to Stark. Which was under assault by suspiciously
armed people. He pulled out his bow and took down most of them
from behind. He stopped the car that had Dawn in it by hitting a
tire. It flipped. He ran over to get her out of it, staring
at her. "Are you okay?"
"I think I have a concussion." She held her head. "The girls!" She started to move.
"Let Nat guard them. I've got you." He kissed her, making
her calm down. She leaned against his chest, one hand on her
stomach. "It's all good, Dawn. I'm back now." He put a
hand over hers on her stomach.
"Oh my god, I know that move," a reporter covering the attack said,
sounding awed. Clint glared at her. "You look great, Agent
Barton. Assignment?" He nodded. "We had
wondered. Is she pregnant?"
"No comment." He led her off. "Though all this was because
that's what they thought too. I have no idea why people want my
kid so hard but it's going to end one way or another." He got them
inside and up to the infirmary. Stark was in there getting some
stitches done. "We all good?"
"We're fine. The building locked down so only those of us in the
open got into it with them," Tony said, looking at him. "Here,
Dawn, take the bed." She shook her head, going to get sick.
Clint followed. "Stronger stomach than I have," he quipped.
"I run from Pepper when she has morning sickness so we don't have to
share a toilet to puke into." The nurse laughed. He got
bandaged and hopped off. "Let me handle things." He went to
talk to the press.
Clint walked outside of Stark towers the next morning. He crossed
his arms over his chest, his facial expression behind his sunglasses
bland. Dawn had helped him pick out his outfit. He was in
his Avengers uniform and he looked like he was going to kill them
all. He even had his thigh holster on, which was a nice touch of
shininess to his outfit. "You guys may never talk to me directly
again but this one time I'm going to make myself heard. The next
agency or news organization or individual who touches my pregnant wife
and future little chaos source is going to be very unhappy.
"I have no idea why yesterday agents decided to kidnap her. I have
no idea why some felt it was a good idea to break into our house to try
to poison her or kidnap or kill her. I've had enough, people, and
I am back from assignment now." He stared around at them.
"Please pass on my message since two *reporters* funded her being
poisoned, three agencies had her almost killed or kidnaped, and one I'm
going to destroy later today." The reporters babbled
questions. He stared at one he knew Dawn liked. "What?"
"She is pregnant?"
"You were on assignment."
He smirked. "Yes I was. I'm amazing."
"No, the natural way." She shivered. "I am that good."
"Your other spouse?"
"She's back from her assignment and we're...working on things."
"I heard there was a fight," she said.
"We are. We're working on it."
"I wish you a lot of luck, Agent Barton."
He smirked. "Dawn said when we met her, all our luck got put into a
savings account so it'd gain interest." She cackled and nodded,
walking off to report it. "Dawn said to answer her, not you
all." He walked off.
"Do the twins like it?" one called. "Dawn likes me too!"
Clint smirked at them. "The twins, Sean, and Callia are all very
stoked to be big cousins. Liz is babbling at her stomach
too. We're all happy and waiting impatiently for them to come out
and join the family. She couldn't even tell her mother so you guys
couldn't pick it up from her sobbing in happiness. By the way,
Dawn has *epic* morning sickness and it's causing her to be a
bit...cranky. Fair warning."
"Be blunt, Agent Barton, she's been a bitch due to it," one of the
reporters said sarcastically, making the others laugh. "She
totally ripped me a new one and then complained about my clothes
upsetting her niece."
"She hasn't kept down food in over a week. Feel lucky she didn't
change them on you." The reporter shivered. He nodded and
strolled off to the other tower. Everyone paused to watch him walk
but he was getting used to that. He went up to the training
center, where Natasha was waiting. They had to have an grown up
person talk. Which they could easily do in the sparring ring.
Dawn was inside watching and laughing. Clint did that so well and
the reporters were all leaving the area. It was nice. She
went back upstairs, finding Tony giggling with Pepper. "He did
"He did." He smiled at her. "Now you can find clothes that fit."
She looked at him. "Nothing's going to fit, Tony. I can't wear waistbands because it hurts."
"It did," Pepper agreed. "For about two more weeks. Then
you'll get a few expansion pains." Dawn grimaced. "You
wanted to have a baby," she quipped.
"Yeah, I did." She sat down, blocking off those two sparring.
Tony and Pepper shared a look. If that didn't stop the problems, Clint could kill whoever he wanted to finish fixing it.
Fury walked up to Dawn's desk, staring at her. "There's people who
think you need to be in a more protected area during your pregnancy."
She looked up at him, saving what she was typing on. "Yes, I've
met a few of them at gunpoint. No, I think I'm going to decline
the offer to go to a nice, secluded lab so they can make sure I get
proper everything while I'm pregnant. I doubt they'd do the
stomach rubbing, comfort hugging, or anything else real fathers do," she
said with an icy smile. "You can tell whoever else had that idea
that I've had enough. My magic may be a bit out of focus but that
just means I can't do tiny things." He stepped back. "Is
there any other news you wish to share, Director?"
"No, just warning you that they do."
"Then I'd promptly kill them all. And probably walk off
sniffling." He nodded and left. She sent the security tapes
to Stark, Pepper, and her spouses.
"Like hell," Clint said as he came up the hall with a donut.
"Though I'm going to end that." He took a kiss, letting her have
the rest of his donut. Dawn could eat anything that he had been
eating but if she ate it on her own it made her sick. It was
something psychological, probably because of attempted poisonings.
It meant she could eat again and they were all happier with that.
"I'll go talk to him in a few minutes."
"I can do that," she offered. She took his coffee too. "Thank you, blessed one."
He kissed her again, smirking at her. "My job is to protect you. So let me."
"Can I get in some stomach petting later?"
She grinned. "All you want, Clint. The twins won't be home for two days."
He leered. "Good." He left, going to gather a few things
from Dawn's hidden stuff. Clearly he needed to have a talk with
his boss. Coulson appeared with smoke coming off his ruined
suit. "That bad?"
"Yes. There was an ascension cult that was sacrificing members to a
higher demon. Xander and I finally got them down." He
looked at him. "We've protected her as best we could."
"I'm back now, sir." He leaned against the wall of the elevator
when it stopped. "Huh." He looked at the god beside him, who
shrugged. It wasn't his doing. "JARVIS?"
"I'm working on bypassing the command that stopped it, Agent Barton," the AI said. "Welcome back, Agent Coulson."
"Thank you but I'm only back to report then I'm heading out again.
There's another few that left the night before to start a new splinter
faction of the group with the secondary ascending demon."
"Mr. Stark wants to know if you need anything."
"More artillery. We used all ours," he said. He looked at Clint.
"I have what I need on me." The elevator started to move back
up. He got off with Phil and they took the walkway to the other
building then the stairs. The ones in the primary tower now took
an ID card to get into. Theirs weren't coded for that one.
Phil finished his report. "I'm heading back with more weapons, sir."
"How many more agents do you need, Coulson?"
"None, sir. Just some more weapons." He smirked ever so
slightly. "We are very well trained." Fury nodded so he
left. "Agent Hill, help me fill out the papers to remove artillery
from the building?"
"I can do that," she agreed. She went with him. She had no
idea it was a diversion. At least until the alarms started.
She looked at him. "Phil," she growled.
He shrugged. "Wasn't my doing or Barton's. He's
waiting." She slumped. "I believe it's whoever attacked Dawn
"Crap." She called in. "Report, people." The reports
weren't good but no agents had died yet. Just been knocked cold,
were pinned under desks that had fallen over, and the director was
missing. She went back up there to start the recovery efforts and
get everyone saved. "Coulson, I need you on the rescue team."
He appeared and looked at her. "We have sixteen cult members and
an ascended demon, Agent Hill. Admittedly a smallish one at only
"We have slayers and your spouse for that. I need you on the rescue of Director Fury."
He scanned. "He's still in the building. Down by the jails
in the maintenance tunnels." She called that in. He went
back to getting artillery. Agents weren't going to get it fast
enough to save Fury. He popped in and zapped two. "Don't
make more work for me. I already have enough paperwork with two
ascending demons." They backed down. He checked, Xander
wasn't behind him. That was great, they were finally giving him
He let his glow out, making the demons members scream in pain.
"Have a good day." The rest ran off. He pulled in his
glow. "Infirmary, people. Make sure you all make it."
They nodded and helped the Director off. He went back to checking
out weapons. In the old days, before he had been appointed, he
would've been there with a gun in hand and a plan ready. Now, he
had recruited agents to handle things like that for him. For some
reason he was turning into a manager again. He really had to stop
Right after he stopped the ascending demons.
Phil smiled at the new trainee class as he walked in. He was just
now back. He was still a bit smokey and his suit jacket had a few
holes in it. He put in a tape. "This is an ascension in the
full form and the later cult to the two of them. I will be right
back after I report." He walked off taking off his
jacket. His shirt was smoke covered and had a few holes too.
He walked into the office and handed over the second copy. "The
whole ascension, the cult to it, and how they sacrificed people.
I'll do the forms after I've briefed the new trainee class, sir."
He walked off.
Fury glared at his back but he watched it. "Shit," he said,
backing away from his computer monitor. "What the fuck?
Hill?" She came in. He restarted it. "I think he was
right, it was more important."
She watched it, lips pressed together. Though even she flinched a few times. "That's not good."
"He said that was the smaller of the two the cult had been worshiping."
"Damn," she said quietly. "That was more important." It
showed how very little effect all their new 'Phase 2' weapons had on it
too. "How did they handle the other one? Coulson?" He
walked back in sliding into a new jacket over his new shirt and
pants. "How did you handle the first one?"
"He had changed during the last eclipse. We got there while they
were sacrificing some teenagers to it. We let it sleep off the
first three we couldn't save and then killed it while it was asleep with
a timed, focused charge. We freed the hostages, took down the
cult, then realized that a good portion had shaved off to start another
center for the other ascending one. That one was almost there so
we stayed and watched, removing their victims as they gathered
them. As she was immortal for the last 100 days, we couldn't take
her out until she finished the rite.
"We were woefully unprepared. I thought those weapons would be
stronger. Thankfully we could call on John Sheppard to help us and
we managed to kill it eventually. The cult was mostly killed in
the melee but the last few were taken down by the locals we had waiting
to arrest them if they should get away from us. Xander called them
in when he realized we had to focus on the demon worm that could eat
approximately ten and a half people an hour."
"Why not pull one of the slayers?" Hill asked.
"They couldn't do anything we weren't. The three new ones aren't
as well versed in swords as they were in stakes and crossbows, the
traditional slayer training. We thought about Faith and Connor but
we needed them there to help with LA because LA was having a panicking
moment over the ascensions actually happening." He pulled up that
information on the CD for them. "So we managed."
Fury read it over, nodding. "Good job, Coulson."
"Thank you, sir. Let me get back to the trainees." He went
back down there. Another trainer had turned it off. "They
need to watch that and then read the files on what just happened in LA
so they're knowledgeable about what could happen at the worst." He
turned it back on.
"That never happens, Coulson," the training agent complained.
"We just stopped two in the last three weeks. We hadn't known
either was going to attempt it." She slumped. "Plus the
quiet demon rioting in LA." The trainees all winced. One
raised his hand. "It has been handled and unless it was something
like the invasion you would not be called until you had went through all
the training." He put his hand down. He looked at that
trainer again. "The other agents need to be briefed on the signs
of one doing it. That way if they run into one we don't know about
they can handle it."
"Agreed," she said, watching the film over his shoulder. "Yuck."
"Yes, quite," he agreed, smiling slightly at her. "Thankfully we handled it."
She nodded. "Artillery?"
"Wasn't enough this time." She shivered, watching the battle as it happened.
Xander appeared in Stark's lab with another God. "Tony Stark, this is Hephaestus. Hephie, this is Tony Stark."
"I'm real impressed by some of your work," Hephaestus said, shaking his hand. "So is Ares."
Tony smiled, looking a bit confused. "Thank you. Huge thing we need built, Xander?"
"Yes." He put on the video for them. "The second of the two
we just ended. We didn't have any idea about either of
them." He looked at the two builders. "I need options.
Something I can pull out of a box that will always take the head off
without having to destroy buildings and possibly innocent victims."
"You could've asked for a few military units," Hephaestus said.
"I didn't want to waste them for this, Hephie. They couldn't do
anything with guns against it. Even the minimal laser weapons they
have at the SGC wouldn't have helped much."
"No, and explosives aren't all that reasonable. Those are the Phase 2 weapons."
"Yes, they are," Xander agreed. "You've done better work half
asleep." Tony smirked at him. "I know they stole them and
tinkered with your brilliance. I need a box that's just for an
He watched. "Has to behead it, right?" Xander nodded. "How many do we know are going to do it?"
"We didn't know about these two. The two we knew about were
stopped. That's what Thor's been doing for the last few months."
Tony nodded slowly. "The Jericho system could be reformatted to
only hit a specific, small target. That should blow the head off
anything." He shuddered at the thing breaking out of the human
skin. "The humans?"
"A sacrificial cult to it. They were probably gathering food
offerings for it," Hephaestus said. Xander nodded. "Guys
that do this usually have a group around them of henchmen to support
"Girl in this case. The daughter of the first one we stopped,"
Xander said. "We couldn't save three of his so we waited until he
napped and then killed him." He ran a hand through his hair,
dislodging some condensed smoke particles. "I need a shower.
Can I let you two brainstorm?" They nodded. "Thanks."
He headed back to the temple to get a well needed shower. It had
been a few days.
Tony looked at him. "I can get you a chair. My stool's a bit
uncomfortable. Dummy, bring me a chair," he called without
waiting on an answer. The robot brought over a metal one.
"No, a good one." He zipped off and came back with a better
Hephaestus sat down. "Thanks. I like your robots. I
never got into them but yours are clearly useful and better than
anything I've seen recently."
Tony smiled at that compliment. "Thank you. I built him when
I was eighteen." Hephaestus grinned back and they went back to
designing something that would sever a ten foot thick neck while doing
minimal structural damage.
John reported to the General. "Sir, the situation that called me from my post has been handled."
General O'Neill looked him over. "Why are you smoking?"
"We just had to blow up a demon worm." He handed over his copy of
the CD Phil had done. "On the second ascension this week."
He ran it, grimacing. "Good work," he said quietly. He looked at him. "Civilians?"
"Cult. Under arrest, all the victims were saved first."
"Excellent. Tell your half-brother and his spouse good work for
me. Come up with a plan to handle it in case we see another one
going on, Sheppard."
"Yes, sir. Xander's going to ask Stark for something to handle it."
"Even better! I'd like to never see you with a sword ever again,
Sheppard." John smirked and disappeared. "Take a shower
too! You need it!" He called up his science team for a
meeting, bringing the CD with him. "Sheppard got called by
Alexander to help him with an Ascension problem," he said as he walked
"Like us going up?" McKay asked. O'Neill put in the CD and let it
play. "No, that's not," he realized. "Oh, shit." The
others looked at him and he pointed. "That's going to be
bad." They watched and almost all of them flinched. Not
McKay, not Zelenka, not the other two science heads that had been on
Atlantis, but the rest did. "Weapons?"
"Alexander's asking Stark. Help him with that, McKay." That
got a nod and he took a sip of coffee. "The rest of you, I want an
analysis of what we can do to stop it. We know from others that
they're immortal for their last 100 human days."
"By ingesting poisonous spiders," Rodney quipped. "There's two
different species that are used by the rituals we know about. I'm
all for finding a way to eliminate them."
"Brought from a demon plane?" O'Neill asked. Rodney nodded. "Are they plentiful there?"
"We might be able to find a way to send one back with an engineered
virus against them," the head of biology said. "Because I never
want to see that again, General."
"Us either. Which is why I want you to make sure all of your
people have seen it by later tonight. I'm getting all the team
leaders on it too. I want departmental responses built up.
How, what you can do, all that. McKay, have fun at Stark.
Radek, do yours." He nodded. "I hate to say it but sometime
we might need to launch Atlantis to defeat one that's gotten free and is
going after people."
"We can use an X-302 easier," Rodney said. "More maneuverable and
better weapons." He looked at Radek. "Have Sheppard go over
the rituals for you." He nodded, going back to the city to do
that. McKay sent himself to Stark and went up to his lab. He
"McKay." He smirked. "Got the video?"
"Yes. O'Neill wants me to help you with any weapons," he told Tony.
"Please do." He settled in to go over what they could do, and
possibly include them in an external weapons pack for the suit.
That was a job for Iron Man, not regular soldiers. They got Rhodey
into it too. The military was more likely to call him than Stark.
Fury ducked as an arrow landed with a paper where his good eye had
been. He looked around, spotting Dawn. "Since when do you
use one of those?" he sneered.
"Since I'm amazing." She disappeared.
He snatched the paper, staring at it. He had signed that order to
take her into protective custody so nothing could hurt the child.
He looked, the arrow was a normal one. The paper was making his
hands burn. That's when he remembered Dawn had learned how to make
poisons. He went down to the infirmary to start treatment
immediately. "Hill, don't touch that."
Joyce went to look, coming out grimacing. She looked at
Maria. "Is it just Dawn's child that they're so happy to get?"
"What?" Maria asked. Joyce pulled on gloves and picked up the
paper to show her. She read it and growled. "Yes, it is. I
have no idea why."
"I know it'll be stopped." She put the paper down and went to pack
her desk. "I'm sorry, Maria, but I can't and won't have my
daughter nearly killed by the people I work for."
"I understand, Joyce. I wouldn't either. I'll put you on
leave for the moment until I can investigate." Joyce nodded,
shaking her hand and leaving with her desk contents. Maria Hill
took a deep breath. She was always one hundred percent behind Nick
Fury in everything he did. She was as loyal as they come.
She had nearly killed her child to stay within SHIELD.
Now... She wasn't sure. She called Dawn to ask her some
questions about that document, like where she had gotten it from.
Barton had finally found their leak. That was good. She
checked, he wasn't in the building as far as they knew. Which
didn't mean anything. Clint Barton could be in the heating ducts
and watching Fury to see when he'd be alone. He was that good.
Clint smirked down at Fury. "No one's going to realize I'm
here." He pulled out his favorite dagger, a present from
Natasha. He looked at him. "So, you wanted my wife and
future kid in a lab?"
"You're not a knife person."
"I've learned many things, Fury, including knife work. I'm not
just a sniper." He stared at him. "So what was the idea?"
"You needed the focus, not to have it split. She'd be protected there."
"Sure she would," he said dryly. "Right after they tested what the
Key was doing and how her magic was responding and probably trying some
new version of the super soldier formula on the baby." He stabbed
the bed next to Fury's head, making him flinch. "Not.
Going. To. Happen."
"You won't take me out."
"The hell I won't but Dawn said that's her fun." He stared at
him. The knife got pulled out and he tested the edge, then stabbed
him just off the side of the throat, making him scream as it pierced
the flesh just under his jawline to the side. "Never touch what's
mine again. Especially Dawn, our children, the twins, any of the
family. I don't care if you're infected with something again, but
you ever try it again and I will make sure SHIELD goes to Hill."
He pulled the dagger back out. "Dawn said I had to be nice when I
warned you." He tossed something onto his chest. "Have
fun with that and the damaged fingers." He walked off, heading
out. His SHIELD ID got left in the elevator.
Fury looked at the blinking thing, staring at it. His fingers were
burned and couldn't bend. "I need some help."
Nothing. Barton had gotten the nursing staff. He shifted and
the lights blinked off on one side. He carefully centered himself
again. The thing had to be level apparently. "Help!" he
yelled. That brought agents. "Get me a bomb tech. It
has a balance switch." They called that in and got a nurse to look
at his hands, which were bubbling up. "Coulson!"
Xander appeared. "I'm sorry, I'm not going to let my spouse
anywhere near this toxic situation. He used to look up to you,
Fury." He looked at the bomb, smiling. "Very compact.
We just got the plans for that at the temple for training the other
day." He spotted the bubbling flesh. "That won't kill you
this year." He disappeared.
"Jesus," Fury muttered. Bomb techs got there to undo the bomb,
though they had no idea how to do that. A sheet of paper fluttered
Phil Coulson appeared and picked it up, putting it on the bed. He
took the bomb, flipped it open, unscrewed the cap, and pointed at the
wire underneath it. "That one." He pointed.
"Schematics." He looked at Fury. "I'm going to stay off-site
to liaison with the Avengers, sir. I think that's the best use of
my skills." He went up to talk to Maria. "Are you all
"Would you care if I wasn't with Tara?"
"Yes. I've admired you for years, Maria."
She slumped and nodded. "Barton quit. Joyce quit unless I
can find out he wasn't the one who signed that." He put up a
mirror, showing her time moving back until he got to that meeting.
She stared at it then nodded. "He needs to go in indefinite
"Yes he does but you're about to go on maternity leave." He stared
at her. "I'm going to the Avengers and only that."
"Agreed." She calmed herself down. This was not the time to
have a hormone swing and start crying. "Put him somewhere he can
"The poison on the paper won't kill him."
"Even better." Phil smiled and left. He had a few things
left in his office so he packed them and left. Maria went to talk
to him. "Sir, as you're incapacitated I'm putting you on
indefinite medical leave." Fury started to open his mouth and
protest. "Nurse, please sedate him." She walked off.
She'd arrange where he went while she was on her six weeks of maternity
leave. She called up the person after her and the one after
him. That way there was no bullshit while she was gone. "As
you know, I'm going on maternity leave sometime soon. I will be
gone for six weeks."
"When are you due?" one asked.
"Three weeks approximately. Thanks to Director Fury signing an
order to have Dawn Summers-Romanoff-Barton taken into supposedly
protective custody for testing, we've just lost Agent Barton, and
probably all the Avengers."
"With them. He did not leave his ID the way Barton did."
They nodded. "Director Fury is going on indefinite medical leave
for his hands bubbling up." They both shuddered. "We are
going to leave the Avengers initiative and all the members alone while I
am gone. If you so much as try to retaliate for them having to
protect themselves, I will make sure you are going to go down. Am I
"Crystal, sir," they agreed.
She smiled. "Good. Because we started this one and we are
not going to escalate it to the point where our own people feel the need
to attack us again." They nodded. She rubbed her stomach
and winced. They looked at her oddly. "You get practice
contractions first, boys." They both shuddered. "Remember,
Coulson's husband knows Goddesses who can do this to you." She
smiled. "I'll be getting daily updates while I'm on the couch with
the kids. If any of the special agents Coulson's recruited
recently need him, refer them to him. I'm not willing to get us
into a pissing match against our own people.
"Also, make sure that there is one hundred percent viewing of that
ascension tape Coulson brought back from his last mission. I want
three good battle scenarios within a week. Ones in case an agent
runs into one in the field during a mission. One that figures out
what to do if they're sliding down the street when we find out.
One that is based on all our sub-groups responding, including the
Avengers and Stargate Command. I'm assuming that they're having
Stark make weapons." She winced. "That's not nice,
son." She looked up. "Any questions?"
"No, sir," one said.
"How long is Director Fury to be gone, sir?" the other asked.
"Until he no longer has hands that have skin bubbling up and no longer
wants to use our people as guinea pigs. If he had gotten hold of
Dawn and tried to inject her future child with some sort of super
soldier serum, I would've helped her destroy that lab and then
him." They nodded. "Dismissed if there's no further
"Good luck on it being an easy delivery, ma'am. Some women have
horror stories and I hope you don't." She smirked but they
left. Though she hoped the same thing.
Dawn rushed Tara into the hospital. "She's in labor and there's a
problem," she told the nurse at the ER desk. "She's due to deliver
here." She made sure the nurse didn't ignore her with a touch of
magic. It was an emergency so it wasn't really unethical and Tara
only gave her a sideways look for it.
"What sort of problem?"
"The baby's heartbeat is pretty weak." The nurse nodded, getting
an OB nurse to come check her. They had her on a fetal monitor by
the time the nurse got there. It was pretty slow. The nurse got a
portable ultrasound system and looked. Dawn saw and winced.
"That's the umbilical cord, isn't it?"
"It is." She looked at the young woman. "We'll probably need to do a C-Section."
"I don't really want one but I want the baby more," she said. "My wife's coming."
"That's fine, ma'am. Do we have your pre-admission papers
here?" Tara nodded and Dawn handed over Tara's ID from her
purse. "I can pull those up and get an OB here to do it within
minutes." She walked out to call them. They were used to
these sort of emergencies. The OB nurse had her moved when she
came back. "The surgeon will meet us there."
Dawn nodded. "Her wife's a brunette, a bit slimmer than I am,
hair's usually back in a bun and she's in a SHIELD uniform," she
said. "Name's Maria Hill. She's also ready to go any day
"I'll have someone set a watch for her. Are you going in with her?"
"Yes," Dawn said.
"Okay." They got split up at the OR, the nurse taking Dawn to put
on the surgical gear. She got led in and put beside Tara's
head. "Touch only above the blue draping," the nurse
ordered. The OB was scrubbing her stomach and watching the
ultrasound and fetal monitors while he made plans. He was making
the first cut when someone rushed in.
"Maria, get scrubbed in," Dawn called. She nodded, letting the
nurse take her to put on the sterile gear. She smiled at
Tara. "Nearly there."
"She's going to be a great girl."
"Bit of pressure," the doctor warned. "We're putting in the local."
"Sure. I had my twins naturally."
"Less than that." He smiled and finished inserting the
local. It'd make her more comfortable. He started to
cut. The other woman came in. "Usually we only allow one."
"I'm her wife," Maria said. "Dawn's filling in."
"Dawn's here in case there's a problem," Dawn quipped. The doctor looked at her. "She's got magic."
"Probably. The mother, definitely."
"Good to know. Please do handle anything that might harm
her." Dawn nodded. He got back to cutting. He was
praying that nothing was going to go wrong. They'd had some
c-section babies dying recently and he wasn't sure why. All the
OB's were worried about it. He got the baby out. "It's a
girl. She's a good weight. Let's get you breathing,
Dawn looked around, feeling the demon. She switched places with
Maria. "Here, grip her hand." She looked up then blasted the
thing with magic. "I swear to fucking god, demon!" It faded
into view, making the OR staff gasp. Dawn blasted it and it
died. She sighed, rubbing her stomach. "It's like
Kinderstaad," she said quietly. "Causes kid deaths."
"We've had more than a few," the OB agreed. "Thank you."
"Welcome. I'm her godmother." She smiled at the baby.
"Hi, sweetheart, you're all messy." The baby was being given
oxygen. She was a normal baby color underneath the gross
stuff. Dawn came back after taking a few pictures. "There we
Tara smiled, looking at it. "Thank you, Dawn."
"Welcome." She kissed her on the forehead, holding Maria from
falling down when she had another practice contraction. She
grinned. "Soon!" she quipped.
"Yes, soon." She rubbed her stomach. It was a bit
hard. The baby was acting agitated. "I think I may go in the
next few days."
"I'll be out of bed by then," Tara said happily.
Dawn looked down. They were working on the closing. She cast
a healing spell. That left the top skin incision still open but
the rest healed. She smiled at the doctor. "She's got
four-year-old twins too."
He smiled. "That's very handy, thank you." He finished the
stitching and got Tara back to her room. The baby went up to NICU
for a few hours just in case.
Dawn sat down beside Tara's bed. "Well, that's better than I
thought it'd go," she said finally. Tara laughed, holding her
stomach. Maria was just holding her stomach.
"Sweetheart, here have my bed," Tara ordered, getting up and helping her
onto it. "Nurse, I think my wife's in labor too!" she
called. A nurse came in looking confused. "We got pregnant
at the same time."
"We knew the kids were going to be like a second set of twins," Dawn
quipped. Maria glared at her. She grinned. "Mom's
coming. I told Xander and Phil. Callia's watching your
two." Maria nodded and groaned, holding her stomach.
"When is her due date?" the nurse asked. This was unusual but they
were together apparently. She looked at her. "We'll have to
check you, miss. Which means removing the pants and
things." Maria wiggled out of them with Tara's help. She
checked her and nodded. "I'll have a second bed brought in."
She called that in. Her supervisor was amused but it
happened. Maria was going fairly well. "Probably by the
early morning." She patted her on the foot. "Let me get you
some ice chips."
Dawn sent out a status update to the family and came over to help Maria
through her breathing with Tara. Tara was exhausted and laid down
in the new bed once it got brought in. Dawn helped Maria out of
her uniform top and tank top, leaving her in a sports bra.
"No, this hurts," she said, wincing some. "They said it'd be a bit
painful. Tara didn't say anything about feeling like you were
having something eat your intestines."
"Each woman is different," the nurse assured her.
"She had twins without drugs," Maria complained.
The nurse smiled. "Still, each woman is different and each pregnancy is." Someone appeared. "Sir...."
"He's the biological father," Maria said, wincing and clutching Dawn's hand.
"If you break it, I can do a healing spell," Dawn promised calmly.
"You do what you gotta do, Maria." Phil took her other side to
help her. He had taken lamaze classes with Tara. Tara was
curled up asleep for the moment. She needed it. "I got the
demon in the OB OR," Dawn told him. "It was like Kinderstaad."
"Excellent work. We were wondering if the higher surgical
complication and death rate was demonic in nature," Phil said.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I've got bouncy energy for right now." He smiled
and nodded. Maria let out a groan of pain. "You want drugs?"
"IV drugs only," she complained. "Please!"
"I can have the doctor come see you," the nurse promised. "Sign
here." Maria signed a shaky signature. "There we go, all
admitted. I'll get your bracelet." She went to get it from
admissions. "She was helping her wife deliver her c-section and
went into labor," she said with perky cheer. The admissions clerk
had seen weirder so she put her in using her pre-registration forms and
it was settled. The OB nurse brought up her ID bracelet to put on
her and it was good. The doctor was checking her records and
prescribing something. Their OB was called. He'd more than
make it in time.
Clint strolled in, smiling at the happy wives cuddled together on one
bed. He handed over a basket. "Spoiling stuff. Dawn
had it at home in the closet." They smiled at him. He looked
at the kids. "Hey, guys." One boy, one girl. The boy
was clearly Coulson's by his coloring and what the twins had looked like
after they were born. The other one was a bit paler. "So I
take it the choker worked?" Maria nodded and Tara blushed as she
nodded. "Good to know." He looked at the kids again.
"You're going to be so spoiled by Grandma Joyce and the big brother and
sister. Get used to it, kids."
Tara laughed. "They're coming in today."
"You're going home today," Clint teased. Maria gaped. "I'm
here to drive you two home." They got discharged with the kids and
taken home by Clint. Where everyone was waiting. Even Stark
since he had driven over Callia.
"Oh my god, babies!" little John squealed and pounced the mommies.
"Sit! See babies!" They sat and he climbed up to stand
between them so he could see. "Wow! Sissy!" She
climbed up on the back of the couch. "Look, babies!" He
grinned at his twin sister. "Like Liz was!"
"Yup, just like Liz was," Maria promised. She kissed them
both. "You guys will have forever to fuss over the kids. Let
the adults for now." They settled between them to help the adults
fuss over the kids. "Is that first diaper always like yellow
tar?" she asked Joyce.
Joyce smiled. "For about the first week or so, Maria." She
took him to hold. "Hi, sweetie. What's your name?"
"Craig," Maria said. "That's Danielle."
"Aww," Tony said with a grin. "James Bond marathon?"
"Yup," Tara admitted with a shy grin. Callia was climbing up on the table so she could see Craig better. "Callia!"
"I want to see." She smiled and waved. "Hi, Craig. We
like you. You're very cute and kinda quiet. The twins
babbled as soon as they woke up that first time." She smoothed
down his hat. "We'll be like siblings too. I'll make sure
you're okay." She kissed him on the cheek and repeated that with
Danielle. She ran over to her father, staring up at him.
"When is my baby brother being born?"
"Another month and a half."
"Good!" She grinned. "That way they're very close and can
play together." She looked at the twins, who were beaming at
her. Then at her father. "Are they staying with us again
"No. Not unless Tara and Maria need a night to rest." They shook their heads. "Then they can stay home."
"Shoot." She shrugged and hugged her sisters. "I saw the
baby birthing thing on TLC. It's kinda gross. Even with
parts blacked out by smudgy spots it was really gross. I had to
"It is," Artemis agreed. "But it's worth it to have one of those some day."
"Maybe someday I'll have a few," she quipped, hugging her. She
pulled Diana over to hug her too. "Then we have Auntie Dawn's
baby." They grinned. That one they'd get to spoil rotten.
Tony smirked at the evil, spoiling plans being made. "So, should we buy bottles?"
"I'm breastfeeding them both," Tara said. "We'll have some on hand for emergencies and for when I start to pump."
"Maria could," Dawn said. "Then stop when she goes back to
work. The milk will dry up within weeks of when she stops."
Maria shrugged. "I haven't considered it."
"Pepper said it was really special bonding time," Tony said with a
grin. He looked at his daughter. "You, behave. Have
someone bring you home or call."
"I will, Daddy." She hugged him. "I'll be with the twins."
"Okay." He looked at Dawn, who nodded it was fine. He went
home to spoil Pepper with Steve. She was on bedrest again.
Dawn grinned. "Some day we'll have one of those," she told Clint.
"Some day soon," he teased with a grin. She gave him a hug.
He squeezed her shoulders. "Ours will probably scream a lot."
Tara smiled. "That's called colic. She was good when it was the twins having it."
"I was, yeah," she agreed. The kids all gathered around, Diana and
Artemis carefully taking the two new ones to hold so the younger kids
could coo over them and the parents could rest. Joyce took them
from the twins and settled in to help them nap. The kids came over
and Callia read to them. That was sweet of her.
Natasha settled herself in her new nest, for lack of a better
word. Dawn needed a lot of protecting and she needed to do that
since she couldn't get close enough to her to comfort and help
her. Dawn would let her but only if they worked out their problems
and Natasha couldn't do that yet. So now she had a nest. It
had links to cameras she had put around Stark and the new
apartment. It linked to the new security system she had added on
overtop of Dawn's. She was within minutes of either the tower or
the apartment if she was needed.
She had already talked to Steve and he agreed she was back on the team,
but that he'd try to keep her and Clint from getting into fights.
Clint was almost ignoring her. Which was unlike him but he was
still mad. She understood that. She had to work some things
out within herself before she could mend that and have him help her mend
things with Dawn. Though, Dawn needed to shop badly.
Nothing fit and she wasn't really showing. She had lost a lot of
weight from the morning sickness.
Pepper looked at Dawn. "You look like a skeleton."
"Make the morning sickness stop," she complained. "I'd like that."
"Us too. The medicines don't work?" Dawn shook her
head. "Poor thing. Why don't you take the day off? Go
to the spa?"
"No, I'm good. Clint figured out I can eat and keep it down if I start eating after him."
Pepper frowned. "Because you got poisoned?"
"Probably." She grimaced. "It happens I guess. It means dinners out are going to be interesting."
"Get those cute, coupley shared dinners." She smiled. Dawn grinned back weakly. "You need to shop."
"I'm already looking but I can't find anything that fits my current body that'll fit it in a few weeks."
"So go to loose, flowing tops. It'll make you look less thin anyway."
"I'm trying." She went back to her desk. "I have an OB appointment at two tomorrow."
"I saw. Go shopping afterward."
Andrew came off the elevator with a bowl of soup. He put it in
front of her. "I made it so you know it's not bad." She
tried a bite and winced. "Salty?"
"Yeah, but good. Thanks, 'Drew."
"Welcome." He smiled. "MB did the same thing. We had
to switch to all home cooked stuff and all that. It's weird but
better for the baby anyway I guess." He left her to eat.
She slowly ate the soup. She knew Andrew wouldn't poison
her. It stayed down, which was a blessing. Clint was making
subs tonight for them all. He was shopping right now. She
sent him a thought about what Andrew had said. He agreed it might
be. Everything she had thrown up had been pre-made. Mostly
oatmeal and cereals. He'd consider it and handle it.
Including buying her a juicer. She smiled at that and finished her
soup. The saltiness was good, it was keeping her stomach calm.
Pepper grinned. Andrew had just solved it so she might be able to eat again.
Dawn came out of her appointment to find Clint in the Lotus waiting on her. "He thinks I need a shrink."
"Why?" He put down his book to look at her.
"Because of the eating thing."
"You've had someone attempt to poison you six times in the last ten
months. I consider it reasonable." He kissed her.
"Prenatal vitamins got raised. He wants me to gain ten pounds within the month."
"I can feed you up," he said with a grin.
"I'll eat it off your stomach because I'm starved."
He laughed. "I made you a sandwich." He handed over the bag
and started the car, driving them off while she ate. "Shopping?"
"Yeah, I need to. Elastic waistbands, yuck." She ate the
sandwich in about four bites, making him happy. "I needed that."
"You do and I'm making stuff for dinner."
"I can cook."
"You can cook Sunday." He kissed her at a red light. They
moved on and he took her to the gear shop. She gave him a sideways
look. "I called ahead. Gloria said she knew what you were
going through. She had four kids."
"Probably." He parked and got out, walking around to help her
out. She smiled. "I'm being overly fussy but yay." He
walked her inside, taking off his sunglasses.
"Gloria?" She came out of the back area and waved them
back. The whole team was there. "Hey, guys."
"Hi," Dawn said, then yawned. "Sorry. Just ate."
They smiled. "You need to eat," Gloria said.
"Morning sickness," Dawn quipped, sounding tired. "Unless Clint
makes it or eats it first, I can't keep it down." They cooed and
helped her find things to wear for the next few days. Her usual
jeans got switched to leggings. Her shirts got a bit looser.
Her shoes got tips put on them so she wouldn't wobble so much.
She got skirts for work too. She had a formal thing coming up but
the ones in the closet should work. Clint got her a special dress
and she smiled at him for it. They checked out and he took her to
her usual shops here in Manhattan. They could stick with that
image and help her build up a more professional looking wardrobe.
A paparazzi noted them coming out of a store. "Dawn, are you
having a health problem?" he called, chasing after them with his
camera. "You look really skinny."
She looked back at him. "Morning sickness is hell, dude.
I've barely kept down food for the last few weeks. Thanks for that
compliment though." He backed down.
Clint looked at him. "Guys. Really?" They backed off
further. They had seen Clint in action and knew he was
deadly. "She's got to find stuff to wear to work." They left
them alone to shop in peace. He looked at her. "Boxers?"
"I have a few of your boxer briefs," she said with a smile. "They're older and comfy to wear around the house."
"That works for me as long as the twins don't get upset." He got
himself some more. He had needed to replace them anyway.
When they got home, he made something for them to eat and Dawn took a
nap. She got up to get the twins up into bed and tuck them in,
then came down to kiss and cuddle with him. He flipped her onto
her back and teased her new stomach bump. It was adorable!
And all his!
Natasha watched Clint celebrate with Dawn and him cooing over her
stomach. She smiled a bit. He was going to be an excellent
father. Dawn was going to be a great mother. She'd be a
great aunt. Maybe she'd manage some stomach petting time sometime.
Pepper went into labor almost exactly a month after Tara and Maria
had. This time it was in the middle of the night instead of the
middle of a meeting. They were also in Malibu for a set of
meetings. She woke up to the insistent pain that felt
familiar. Stark was in the lab and even JARVIS couldn't get him
out of what he was tinkering on with Callia. Steve was sedated
because he had a cold and the cold medicine knocked him cold. Liz
was snoring happily in her room. The baby monitor was echoing
it. She got the one she knew she could count on to be calm.
When the contraction was over she got up and walked across the living
room. "Dawn?" Clint was on assignment again, a short
surveillance one with Bruce. She came out of her room. "It's
"Okay. Go get into shorts or something comfortable for the trip to
the hospital." She grabbed her own clothes to put on, a pair of
leggings and a long t-shirt. She couldn't go braless, it hurt too
much right now. She came out pulling on sneakers and then pulling
back her hair. She grabbed Pepper's bag and a set of keys off the
board. "C'mon. JARVIS, if you can't get Stark up in the next
thirty minutes, you have my permission to shut everything non-critical
"I can do so but he is making a backup arc reactor."
"When he's done, he's to come to us," Dawn ordered. "And watch Liz?"
"I can do so. I'll alert her parents as well."
"Thanks," Pepper said. She grabbed Dawn's arm to squeeze.
Dawn paused and helped her through the contraction. "Faster than
"They say the first is the hardest," Dawn quipped. She got her out
to the car and drove them off, speeding up once they hit the main road
since it wasn't as curvy as the driveway. They ran into a cop
pulling them over so Dawn rolled her eyes but paused. "Officer,
she's in labor. Her contractions are six minutes apart."
"That's fine, miss. I'll give you a warning." Dawn handed over her license. "Expired?"
She looked. "I did not realize that. Sorry, it's been a few
hectic weeks. I've barely made it out of morning sickness
myself. I'll have it renewed once I get back to New York in three
He nodded. "Fine." He handed over the warning and the
license, letting them speed off. That other woman was panting like
she was having another contraction and he did not want to be put in the
paper because he had to deliver a baby.
Dawn walked Pepper into her chosen hospital, smiling. "Five and a
half minutes apart," she reported. "Water broke on the way here."
The delivery check-in desk clerk smiled. "That's fine. Let
me get her to observation so they can check her over." She called
out a nurse. Pepper got taken to a room to be checked over and
checked in. Dawn called JARVIS to tell him that.
"Her wife?" the nurse asked.
"Her personal assistant. The father and boyfriend are both out of
contact." The nurse nodded and led them up there. She called
Pepper's mother personally. "Hi, Pepper's dad, it's Dawn.
She's in the OB ward of Sinai here in LA. No, we were out here for
meetings. She had two weeks to go but the grandson is a bit
early. She's checked in, in her room, she's going good, and they
said by noon you'll have a new grandson."
She smiled and handed the phone to Pepper. "Your dad." She
checked on Clint, who was watching something. She told him quickly
that Pepper was in labor out here. He promised he'd get the
others woken up for her. She thanked him and shut down the
bond. The nurse was looking at her strangely. She
grinned. "Magically checking on the family." Pepper hung up
with a huff. "He complain Tony's busy?"
"Yup." She calmed herself. Dawn helped by being her lamaze
buddy. The nurse asked her about her preference for medicine,
anyone additional that might be there, and all they needed to
handle. Dawn had Pepper's birthing plan at the original hospital
on her tablet and pulled it up for her. She had pre-registered
here in case since this trip had been planned for over a month.
The on-call OB resident made a bad joke that pissed Pepper off so she
got the other on-call doctor. It'd happen and Pepper was making
good progress so probably just a standard birth.
Callia heard JARVIS call and her mind had to fight over her
priorities. Baby brother versus science. "Daddy, talk to
JARVIS," she ordered. He was showing her how to make an arc
reactor like his. Which was really weird and exciting and science
all at once, but her baby brother was going to come soon. "Daddy!"
He flinched and looked at her. "Problems?"
"JARVIS said Mommy Pepper went to the hospital an hour ago."
"Why didn't you tell me, JARVIS!"
"I did, sir. Many times. I can't wake Captain Rogers from his nyquil induced sleep either."
"Ten minutes to finish this. Then we'll shower and go," he told
them. Callia beamed and nodded. "It's dangerous to leave
this here." He was a bit worried but it was dangerous. It
could blow up the whole house. He got it finished and pulled out
the new core. It was glowing a pretty blue color as it cooled
down. He shut everything down and took her up to shower. He
could get Steve up. "Goddamn it!" he shouted from the
doorway. Steve flinched awake, grabbing for a weapon he wasn't
wearing. "Pepper's at the hospital."
Steve blinked at him. "Huh?"
"She's at the hospital. It's time." Steve hopped up and
pulled on Tony's clothes that he had tossed on a chair earlier.
Tony got a quick shower and dressed too. They picked up Callia,
and Liz, taking them to the planned hospital via Happy. Tony
wasn't going to be able to drive and neither would Steve.
"How did she get there?" Callia demanded.
"Dawn," Happy called back. "She texted me that I'd need to have
the car cleaned, boss. Pepper's water broke on the way there."
"Eww, but sure. Do whatever, Happy." They got there and got
out, heading up to the OB floor. Surely a nurse could tell him
where they were. He heard sobbing but it wasn't Pepper
thankfully. The nurse gave him a strange look. "Redhead,
Potts. Having my son?"
She smiled and pointed. "She's in there, people. Do the kids need to see her in labor?"
"It's my baby brother," Callia said simply but politely. "I was
upstairs when Liz was born but I'm a lot bigger now. Some day I'll
need to know anyway so might as well learn this today." She
smiled. She found Pepper's room and ran in to hug her aunt around
the stomach. Then she hugged Pepper's arm since she was sleeping
and it was hanging off the bed. "Did they give her druggies?" she
asked her aunt quietly.
"She's going easy enough right now she drifted off." She took Liz
from Tony. "Here, little one. Sit on the auntie. Let
the daddies fuss."
"You tell her parents yet?" Tony asked.
"Yeah, and her father grumped that you were busy."
Tony rolled his eyes. "Figures." Pepper woke up and held her
stomach. He helped by rubbing it for her. Steve pulled a
chair over to help her breathing. Callia was patting her on the
arm. "Thanks, Callia. Go sit with your aunt?"
"Fine." She did that, climbing up in the free spot on her lap. "Are you okay?"
"I'm just fine." She hugged her too. Liz hugged her and
babbled at her. Callia grinned and babbled back about baby
things. Liz might not understand yet but she'd need to know.
The nurse came in smiling. "It's good they found you."
"I couldn't shut down my experiment sooner or it could've blown up the house," Tony admitted. "Sorry, Pepper."
She flapped a hand and took a deep breath. "I've seen you do it before, Tony."
"I'm going to quit doing that." He let the nurse check her again
then they went back to fussing over her while Dawn herded the
kids. When it was time, Callia nearly got grossed out.
"They have to touch her privates?" she demanded, looking at her aunt. "WHY!"
"That's where they come out of," Dawn told her with a grin. "Did you think they came out her bellybutton?"
"They did on Auntie Tara's last one!"
"That's surgery, dear. Regular babies who don't need surgery come out this way."
"Eww! Is she pooping out the baby?"
"No, there's another hole," Dawn said simply. "It's the same
muscles though so she might poop a bit. You shouldn't mention it
"Okay." She didn't look like she wanted to but she guessed adults
had accidents during huge things like having a baby. "Did my mom
do that when she had Sean and the twins?"
"Yup," Dawn agreed. "Not with you, she had surgery to have you."
"Good! That looks like it hurts a lot."
"It sure does," Dawn agreed, giving them a squeeze. Did she want
to have this kid? Clint stroked across her mind. She let him
view it from her even though he said he didn't want to watch Pepper
give birth. Finally, all the panting, sweating, swearing, and
pushing was done and the baby was out.
"One gorgeous little boy with red hair," the doctor announced, holding
him up so Mom could see it. Pepper was sniffly. "Dad?"
They both reached for it. "Here. Clamp here," she told
Steve. He did that. Tony cut the cord. She smiled and
took the baby to clean up, do the weight and measurement necessities,
then handed him back to Mom. Who was still sniffling but being
Callia walked over and climbed up carefully, kneeling beside her on the
bed. "Hi, baby brother. It'll be okay. I know it's
really bright and a bit scary but I'm a good big sister and we'll teach
you all sorts of stuff about science and animals." She touched his
hand and grinned. He had quit crying. "He knows me."
"He does from all the hugs you gave him," Pepper promised, smiling at
her. She hugged the baby then her, then her dads. She went
back to cuddle Liz. Liz was being very quiet. "Is she
Dawn looked and nodded. "But breathing okay." The doctor looked over. "She has apnea."
"Home," Dawn said. "We don't have a portable one."
"I've got one designed," Tony said. "I've got to put the polishing
touches on it and make it." Steve got Liz to bring
over. Callia came back to curl up with them. Dawn smiled and
took a picture. It went up on Pepper's lj. Dawn got to work
canceling meetings but Tony would have to handle the one in the
afternoon. Dawn left them to sit together and hold the baby.
She sent a picture to Pepper's father's phone, he had a picture capable
one. She sent the close-up of the baby too. He sent back a
simple 'thank you' and it was good. Clint was happy and stroking
her mind in comfort. She decided she wanted light drugs during
it. He laughed and agreed because he didn't want her in extreme
pain. They'd talk about it when she got home. She agreed,
getting some tea to drink. She came out and found Happy
waiting. "I'm going home to bed."
"I can do that. Boss won't be leaving for hours anyway."
"He's got a meeting at two."
"I can nag him." She smiled and got into the back, curling up to
nap on the way back to the house. He had to nudge her awake
because he couldn't carry her into the house. Dawn settled in on
her bed and set the alarm then fell asleep. It was a good
night. Well, nearly day now.
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