Worrying About Your Own Old Ones.
Dawn came out for lunch with her spouses and ran into two
reporters. Some days it really wasn't worth the effort to leave
her desk. "Guys, I'm a bit cranky because I'm hungry. Do we
have to do this now?"
"Just a few questions," one quipped. "We saw that calendar that's
getting one of our people sued." Dawn shrugged. "Is Clint
still that well built? We can't tell if he's gotten softer with
age and married life."
Dawn stared at her. "No, he's only gotten harder. Years of
gym work and us helping him work out has made him beautifully ripped."
"He doesn't go to the beach with you?" the other asked.
"He likes to sit in a room so he can watch us but not have to beat the
people I have to shoo off." She walked around them. "He
considers it really relaxing."
"Does that go with his habit of sitting in the ceiling to watch over
you?" Dawn nodded as she crossed the street. They
followed. "Who was that woman?"
"Ask him. I don't give out agent names."
"That picture showed that Clint was *modestly* sized," the first reporter said.
Dawn looked at her, shaking her head. "Not hardly. Clint's
got heft there, ladies, and I jealously hoard it with Natasha."
She smirked. "Anything else?" They pouted but shook their
heads. She walked into the restaurant but Natasha said they were
in the other one so she went in there. She flashed over the entire
Clint smiled. "Yeah, I got heft." He winked. She
grinned back. They got down to lunch and talking about Philip's
upcoming baby shot appointment. They hated seeing him get shots so
Dawn did most of them. This time they'd have to do it for her,
she had a meeting to attend with Pepper that day. Clint said he'd
go if he was local. Natasha agreed they could do that
together. It was good until Dawn's phone went off. She paid
for lunch and went back to work. Clint looked at Natasha.
"Our outfits really don't emphasize our good points."
"They make your arms look nice," she said with a smile. "Mine makes me look good."
"They're bulky and my vest is rubbing my armpit again."
"We can talk to those who are doing body armor work for Stark about
it. See if they can be thinned or whatever. Stark would if
we asked." She sipped her water.
He nodded. "We need to ask. SHIELD uniforms aren't going to work either."
She nodded. "I'd be interested in seeing the body armor bras
they're coming up with." He grinned. "No underwire to
pinch? Most women would like that."
"I certainly would." He winked.
"I'm sure you'll get to see the trials." She winked and they
finished lunch so they could talk to Tony. They walked in and Tony
glanced up from what he was tinkering with. Natasha moved
closer. "We have problems with the uniforms."
"I doubt Dawn's tailor could help them." He looked up, sitting on a stool to face them. "What sort of problems?"
"One of mine is a tailoring one," Clint said. "The other is that
they're bulky and I sweat outrageously during the summer."
"As I do," Natasha agreed. "I'm also looking forward to what the
people with the armor samples are going to do about underthings."
"I've seen one of those. They had Pepper model one. She said
it's still a bit thick and it's not keeping her perky but it didn't
stretch out of shape and it was mostly comfortable." Tony
considered it. "There's a few things I've been meaning to get them
to try." He pulled up records and got the fabric samples he'd had
Dawn find for him, then called that research team up. "Three
things." He handed over the box. "Samples of
spandex/bulletproof silk blends." They smiled. "Second,
Barton needs his suit tailored some and we have no idea who could."
"It keeps cutting into my armpit but I need the coverage there," he said.
"Third is that they're bulky and they tend to overheat in the summer then freeze in the winter."
They considered it and looked at each other. "We're working on a few things we haven't noted yet."
"Anything new on that bra idea?" Natasha asked.
They smiled. "Soon." They led them down to their lab and
showed them the newest suit trial they were looking at. "It may
not be as bulletproof. We haven't tested that part yet. It's
mostly genetically engineered silk so lighter and thinner when mixed
with the teflon and bulletproof strands." Dawn brought in Clint's
present vest for him. They had him try it on and decided they
could cut down the area under the trim to help ease that and maybe a
quarter inch more. Such tiny measurements could make all the
difference to the one in the suit.
They had one in the silk/spandex class for Tony to use inside the
suit. Tony thought it wasn't real practical but it would help him
regulate his body temperature during the hotter battles and the coldest
ones. They were working on one for Natasha and took measurements
to adjust it. The auto-cutter was happy with that since they had
made it a bit big for tailoring purposes.
The new bulletproof test wasn't going to go as great but it did stop
arrows when they tried it. It stopped knives. They could
work on adding more bulletproof strands. As workout gear and
temporary or replacement uniforms they'd do for now. They made
sure Clint's wouldn't bother his arms any and had to have the one of
them that had sewing experience fix it. Tony called in Dawn's
tailor to work on that part for them. That solved a real problem
for all of them. He knew how to fix the armhole problem and
compensate for movement in Natasha's.
They showed her the bra attempt, letting her give her opinion as a woman
who would need something like that. That silk/bulletproof spandex
was a better material choice as it moved some but it was stiff enough
to keep one in place. They quickly did a mockup of one for her and
she nodded it had good benefits. It wasn't pretty at the moment
but it was comfortable and the fabric felt nice against her skin.
They could fix the cosmetic later if the bra held up to use.
Tony smiled at the woman there to talk with him about a job. "Mr.
Stark, you're not usually interested in fashion things," she said,
"Well, I am and I'm not. There's been some issues with some of the agent suits."
"I've seen those battle suits. They're not very....pleasurable to
look at. Though they are better than comic book spandex ones."
"They're a bit rough to the touch, which they said was useful, but they
also said they were thick, heavy, and made them overheat. Though,
that's another project of the team. The other one is that they're
working on firming underwear for under the battle uniforms.
Regular bras apparently pinch when you're flipping around. Not
that I'd know because I've never worn one but Agent Romanoff and my
assistant both assure me it does. They've worked up a sample that
seems to have merit."
"But they're men," she said with a smile. He nodded. That
explained why they were having lunch. She had a lot of lingerie
design experience. "I can see that. How good is the new
prototype?" He pulled up his briefcase and opened it, letting her
feel it. "I've seen the informercials about the bras that
supposedly fit everyone in the right size range. This feels different."
"That's partially body armor and partially spandex," he said with a smile. "With some silk thrown in for softness."
She handed it back. "We can help them with that. I'm not
really looking forward to taking on a new full-time job though."
"Reports are saying that someone's going to be buying your design company."
"I've heard those same rumors. They've flown around a few
times." Tony handed her the filing to buy the company. She
grimaced. "They would probably cut our department as we don't make
them as much money." He nodded. "If that happens I'd gladly
move from a consultant to a full time position." He smiled.
"How well does it pay?"
"I drew up the standard contract for consultants and for new
employees." He handed them over so she could look at them.
"They're working on new uniform ideas right now to help with the other
problems. So far they're not as tough as the originals but they're
getting good ideas from the first ones and having help from Agents
Barton and Romanoff. Then, when they have something fantastic,
I'll let them have Steve."
She smiled. "I'm sure he'd adore a new suit." She went back
to reading. She pointed at one thing. "My husband is
French." He shrugged. She smiled.
"We had to take that one out for Dawn as well due to her Russian wife."
"Okay." She went back to reading, nodding at it. "I'll
gladly take on the consulting job. When can I meet with the team
over their ideas?"
"Anytime you want." He handed over their card once she had signed
the preliminary contract. He grinned. "Thank you."
"You're most welcome. It's an exciting field to make whole new
fabrics that are useful, and the ladies in your life are right.
Something like that bra idea would sell for millions." He
smirked. She and he talked about their expectations and how far
they had gotten over the rest of lunch. She went back to the tower
with him to meet with them and see where they had gotten to this
point. It had a lot of promise.
Fury got tired of the moping. He hated having entangled agents
under him. It always led to problems. Problems like his
senior agent sulking and flinching each time Joyce shifted in her
seat. "Hill," he summoned. She walked in. "Shut the
door." She did and stood in front of his desk. "Sit."
"If I'm about to be fired for following those orders, I'd rather stand."
"That may cure some of your sulk but the next few in line I'd never
trust behind me while I was distracted. Sit." She sat down
with a grimace. "What happened?"
"Tara kicked me out." She looked at him. "I screwed up and I'm trying to figure out how to fix it, sir."
He sighed. "I've had two wives that got killed thanks to the job, Hill."
She nodded she knew that. "That was barely a point she made,
sir. Partially it was that I had hurt the family pack and that she
thinks I value my job over the family. Which.... I can almost see
her reasons for. I do honor my job to the point of never making
it home for dinner or time to play with the kids."
Fury nodded. "So how are you going to fix that?"
"She pointed out that Joyce is supposed to be doing some of the things I do. We need to sit down and work that out."
"We can do that. You could have some help but you've refused to
let anyone who's raised up to their highest rank of idiocy screw things
She nodded. "I usually end up redoing some of the forms on them."
"Which isn't your job either. Your job is to make sure that your
part of the report is filed. The conclusion page, the summary and
wrap up portions. Then you hand it to Joyce so she can make sure
it's all there and able to be read." He smirked.
"Joyce?" She came in with some paper and a pen. "Hill has
just realized that you're supposed to be doing half the work she does."
"I've filled in some when she was on maternity leave. Everyone was
confused that it was my job to make sure that files were ready to be
handed in. I can go back to doing that and reminding agents that
they have to have certain forms filled out legibly. Though, some
are grousing that they're not on the computer?"
"With as insecure as ours are, I'd hate to see case files on there," Fury said.
"We can put the forms up in a database so they can edit then
print." She smiled. "It'd save some work and we do it with
some forms." She wrote out an idea. "We can also organize
them because most of the agents come up to get paper copies of the ones
they can't readily find." She let him see it.
He looked it over, nodding. "That would be handy. What would we need to do that?"
"I'd say uploading them as files but I'm not absolutely certain. I
called down to computer services and they blew me off." She
smiled. "I emailed that nice agent Benji that Clint and Dawn both
worked with. I don't understand the one he sent back because it's
not in English."
"There's a translator," Hill said. She went out to get into
Joyce's email. She had it flagged for later work so it was easy
enough to find. She translated it and brought it in. "Right
click on the little book icon and select 'move to english,'
Joyce." She handed it to her.
She smiled. "That doesn't seem that hard. Some may need to
be put in two categories since there's a form for car chases and one for
car chases with injuries of agents or civilians. If they're good,
we could probably even put in a search box. A few of the forms
need to be retitled though."
He nodded. "I can see that saving a lot of headaches."
"It'll save a lot of sloppy handwriting," Hill said. "Which I've had to redo."
"I gently take it back and poke them to get it done in a fashion that
means the director can read it. If it's not back in two days I go
poke again," Joyce said with a smile. "If it's not done in another
day, I go wait in their office. Dawn said it worked wonders on
getting things done."
"It probably does. I'd hate to be stared at over a few forms," Fury agreed.
Joyce called computer services. "The director needs one of you in
his office right now. Or else he's going to fire your entire
department and subcontract the computer work to someone at Stark.
Thank you," she finished with perky cheer and hung up.
Fury looked at the clock. "It shouldn't take more than five
minutes." When ten got there, he called down there. "Did you
think my assistant was kidding?" He hung up. Still none of
them. He called personnel. "Fire computer services, hire me
ones that actually know their shit and are willing to do the job, and
get me someone at Stark to come help with some computer work." He
hung up. Joyce was texting Dawn, who said she'd send one over.
The geek from Stark's computer maintenance and tech division snorted
when he saw what was needed. "I can do that in two weeks,
"That long?" he asked.
"It'll take me most of a weekend to do the inputting, maybe into Monday
for the rest. The other two weeks will be curing your buggy system
that drives everyone nuts." Fury smirked. He knew that
look. "Not for hire, sir. Sorry, have a juvie pot
bust." He smiled at Joyce, handing her the envelope. "From
your daughter." He got copies of the forms from Joyce and a desk
to work at off in the spare meeting room. Most companies had done
this years ago but it figured the government was behind the times.
When Stark himself wanted to know what was wrong over there he told him
it was a new database for forms and fixing his web of buggy,
interconnected problems, and slack as shit system. They barely had
any storage space and what they did have was being taken up by their
three hackers that were trying to hack JARVIS and Stark International,
plus their porn collections. Stark said he'd work on it from their
end and he'd offer them a great deal on a few servers and the like so
they had a *real* system in place instead of their weak one. He
sent that email to Joyce so she could talk to the big guy. It
wasn't his job.
Fury walked in a moment later. "We have porn on our computers?"
He looked up at him. "Sir, there's not a single agency in the US
and computerized world that doesn't have a few bits of porn here and
there. Yours were using your faster connections for downloading
porn." He grinned. "You know, they're suing people for that
"Like the music people do when you illegally download their music? Same stuff."
Fury walked off calling Legal. "I'm told we have porn on our
servers from our hackers on staff and that people are getting sued for
illegally downloading it?" He listened to the four suits from
that. "Hell no, they're doing it, they're responsible!"
Joyce was snickering. "SHIELD only pays for porn if it's part of
an op." He hung up and went to take something for his new
headache. He called Stark to talk to him about computer
things. Which had to be translated by the geek they were
borrowing. The geek gave him ideas and Stark had better ones so
they'd work it out and a payment plan. He hoped.
Three weeks later, Joyce smiled at the people who had turned up for her
staff meeting. Most of the agents weren't here. She looked
around. "First, we're here to announce we've fixed the computer
system and had to update a lot of things." A few agents
groaned. "We borrowed from Stark International and they set it
up." She smiled. "For those that aren't here, they don't
have passwords." She looked around again, seeing the unhappy looks
at the empty seats. "Secondly, the new computer system has all
the forms on it." They stared.
She called it up for them on the brand new projection system.
"This is where you input the old user name and password, where you'll
get your new first password. The people who rebuilt it put in a
time code. It will expire once a week. You cannot use the
same password for a month." They took notes on that. That
was important. "Your username should stay the same but if not, let
me know. Agent Hill and I can both input new user names."
She paused to let them make notes about who wasn't there.
"Moving on, once you input your user name and password on the fairly
bland page, you'll be brought to a choice of sections. One's
labeled 'paperwork'. That is your forms database." She
called that up. "They're in clearly and easily understood
categories now. If they merge two areas they're in both. So
the ones on car chases with injuries in both under vehicle forms and
under accident/injury forms."
She showed them how that worked. "You click on the name of the
form, and some have been renamed for easier interpretation. It
opens it in the program where you type the things in. That way we
don't have to nag you about your handwriting," she offered with a
grin. They mostly smiled back. "Then you print." She
moved the mouse to show that. "Hit that button." They
nodded, taking notes.
She backed out. "This second area is 'personnel' forms. This
is your day off forms, your forms for injuries that you have to file
when you're shot on the job, ones to tell HR to change your withholding,
your personnel file due to change of status, and the ones to tell
Medical you need to change your identifying marks files due to new
tattoos. We'll be redoing those next by the way since so few got
She pointed at the empty seats. "Those ones will have to do the
same thing." She got into the third section. "This is the
miscellaneous forms section. Things that don't really fit under
either one. This is your new weapons request forms, your report
forms if you're in Research, the ones to request new training, or
maintenance in your offices or desks." She showed them.
"They all work the same way." A few more smiled.
She backed out and turned off the system. "Also, the Director is
handing out letters of having your asses spanked for the porn problem
that led to us having over ten serious viruses and a few minor ones on
the old system. You can't do that now. The major violators
are missing this meeting today because they're packing their desks and
then will have to undergo cavity searches to make sure they didn't bring
home anything illegal." A few of the agents moaned.
She grinned. "We know you all work hard and play hard but the
director was not pleased that it had let the CIA get a backdoor into the
old system. The last point of this meeting is a few
administrative changes. Those of you who are not senior agents
send your reports to them as normal. They sent them to Agent Hill,
who does her few meager sections, then they send them to me to make
sure they're complete. Which means from now on it will be me
nagging you for incomplete work, not her. Understood?"
They nodded. A few were slumped down. She smiled.
"Those that have backlogged files, I would suggest you get to it
today. The Director is grumbling about that backlog being so
high. He said we've had files that haven't gotten done from over a
year ago." One of the guilty winced. "He'd expect them to
be done soon please." She smiled. "Any questions?" No
one said anything.
"Then you can go nag all the people who think that I'm just a pretty
face with a taser and slingshot about not having passwords.
They'll be getting reprimands for missing a mandatory staff meeting. For
all they knew, it could have been on the next apocalypse battle.
Also, Agent Hill said that it is time for the quarterly evaluation and
reading of the invasion policies and if you do not, we will be
invaded. Last time's was a fluke with planned attempts the next
One agent raised his hand. "Where, on the chain of command for battles, do you fall, Mrs. Banner?"
She smiled. "I don't. I'm on the administrative side, not
the field agent side. I only handle the reports from all the field
agents. So if you see a need around the office or the hell
carrier, I handle it. For battle and field agent issues, Agent
Hill still does. You might say I'm his personal Metatron and she's
his battle one."
He nodded with a grin for the movie reference. "Can you please
tell them to order more condoms in the infirmary?" He got a few
pens thrown at him.
She smiled. "I ordered them two extra cases after I had to file
reports for three different agents that listed different VD's. You
guys can't do your best work with Herpes." She smiled. He
laughed and nodded. "They are available. They're probably in
a closet because half the infirmary staff doesn't believe you need sex
at all, even when it's part of the operation. Fury's had it with
them as well." They nodded. "Dismissed. I'll be at my desk
after I get some tea." They filed out, going to tell the people
that missed they were in deep. She did get some tea and went back
to her desk. She made a list of all agents that needed new
passwords. Fury was already copying and pasting the reprimand
forms from it. It did make things so much easier.
The next morning, Fury looked at his staff. The entire
staff. "It's nice that I had to write up every single staff member
but seven yesterday." A few got looked at. "No, Coulson got
it for being late due to the twins puking on him then having to leave
early." He stared at them. "First, Joyce is my
mouthpiece. If she calls a meeting it's because I wanted a damn
meeting. You're to attend if you're summoned. If not, she
has my permission to make sure you get there by whatever motherly means
she has at her disposal. Secondly," he said, glaring at a
"The porn stops, people. SHIELD only pays for porn, sex toys,
whips, chains, collars, leashes, and pony saddles for *some* goddamn
reason when it's related to a mission. Unless it was your mission
and you filed for those, those have now been charged back to you."
He gave them a smug look. "That with the agents who were
blatantly fucking up means that we now have room in the budget
again." A few slumped down. "Third, we still have field
missions. I have *no* idea why we haven't had files on them.
I have no damn clue why I'm still waiting for ones from a year ago."
"I finally got mine done," one agent quipped.
"I had to look up what they were it'd been so long. I can take a
reasonable length of waiting. I'm not that patient. In the
future, within a month." A few agents looked ready to cry.
"If you're that busy and have to hit the field again immediately, we'll
teach you how to remote log-in so you can do it while you're flying
around," he said dryly. "Coulson?"
"I only have two that are over that month deadline, sir, and both are
waiting on the other agency's reports to be included. The ones
from the junior agents I have a week turnaround to nag them about
missing forms so Joyce doesn't have to."
"Call them, nag them, have the war dogs bite them if you have to.
We have to justify our budget next month. I want the *full*
backlog of files cleared up. Even if you work overtime and have to
bring your kids here to help you type. I'm told it's one reason
why Callia Stark is so smart; her aunt taught her to type while
babysitting." He looked at his agents again. "Any stupid
"A non stupid one, sir," one agent said. "Who do we call when our computers go down?"
"We're hiring new ones next week. For now we're subcontracting
with two different types of computer geeks. One at Stark for major
issues, like a few of you never filing to have your computers
upgraded. The other is a Geek Squad like service for
agencies. By the way, who in the hell decided not to have their
computers upgraded from the nineties? Are you that desperate to
cling to them?"
"They usually have programs that won't work on the new ones," Coulson
said. "I have an older laptop in my filing cabinet for that
"Some of it was files we couldn't figure out how to copy off.
Things like film files of missions and former agents, sir," another one
said. "I can't copy them and I've tried."
"We can get them off for you and get you a new system. Yours is
being changed while you're here and I'll make sure they got
those." The agent nodded, looking calm. "Coulson, your
backup laptop is noted and reasonable. If you, personally, want to
buy one that old for the old programs go for it. We won't for you
but have fun on ebay off-duty." He looked around again.
"Anything else?" Nothing got said. "Dismissed." That
one agent hurried off to talk to the geeks replacing his system so Fury
didn't have to. That was nice of him. Coulson handed in his
medical excuse to erase the reprimand. "Flu?" he guessed.
He shook his head. "They found some cat food in their
system. Apparently they wanted to see why the kitty liked it so
much he cleaned his plate. They said Talsa's gravy tasted better
when asked." Fury snorted, but smiled and shook his head.
"We were not amused." He walked off.
Fury filed that medical excuse for him. He couldn't wait to see
how the twins did as agents. Melissa might even take his seat some
One agent slinked off the elevator looking sheepish and handed Joyce a
file. "I cannot find my senior agent to give that to him, ma'am."
She looked it over. "It still needs his forms and Maria's. Who do you usually give them to?"
"Agent Coulson and he's in the field again."
She smiled. "I'll have someone do them for you." He nodded
and left. She emailed Phil to see who handled that and how.
Maria walked over to take it. "Do they switch off?"
"Most of the time. We really could use an agent who just did
forms." Fury shook his head from his office. "Whoever's on
the disabled list, sir?"
"That would drive them to get better faster," he quipped. "See if
Panderson can sit at his desk to fill in for those." She called
him. He had been a lower level SHIELD agent for over a decade but
he had never wanted to move up. His last mission had resulted in a
permanent back injury that kept him out of the field so they were
trying to find him a new spot since he was so efficient and effective as
a field agent. That might just drive him insane but it would keep
him on the payroll.
He grumbled but the senior agents all agreed that he could handle it for
those who were not available. That file got handed over
first. Joyce got him into various offices to steal files and then
relocked them. She also sent notices to those agents that they had
someone to cover paperwork so they had stolen it from them. Most
of them sent back loud thanks and a few e-cards. One grumbled that
some of the stuff on his desk was for his kids' school. She
promised she'd help with that if he wanted her to. She had helped
Tara with theirs.
That solved a huge problem in the paperwork chain's backlog issue.
Tara smiled at Phil when he showed up for her 'family meeting'.
Maria was there too. John rushed over to hug Maria, getting a
cuddle back then Phil, who cuddled him. Melissa crawled up into
Maria's lap to cuddle her and waved at her father, who smiled and patted
her on the foot. Tara smiled. "School."
Phil nodded. "I know you've had it narrowed down to three."
"I've decided." She put down the brochure. "It is about six
blocks away. It is a fairly good school. One that they'll
have to make the most of to get into an ivy league college but good on
all the various problems they might have. It does have automatic
admittance into their associated middle and high school. Again,
not a rich kid, automatically get you into Harvard school, but if you
work hard you'll get there anyway and any other college would be
thrilled with you."
Phil smiled. "I like the looks of their academy. I drive past there most days when I drive in."
Maria looked at her. "How are we affording this? I haven't
even thought about setting aside money for school." Apparently as
soon as she got back to the office, she had to hit HR to see how they
"Well, right now they're admitted for next year," Tara said. "And I
have a small one started though the agent credit union."
"I have a school fund set up for them," Phil said. "It's with my
investment person. I'll go over it with him this week." Tara
grinned. "It should at least get them to middle school."
"That school is only five grand a year. The other one nearby
that's any good is eleven." Maria nearly grabbed her chest.
"The best in the city is two but it's across the bridges and we don't
have a car so out of the question, plus it has a four year waiting
list." Phil shuddered. "Or there's a few good religious
schools but I don't really want to go there."
"I doubt a catholic school would do them good anyway," Phil said. "I'm not, you're not, and Maria's nominally christian."
Tara nodded. "Teachers at some of those can be snotty to those in
alternative faiths. With the way John shouts out 'thank the
goddess' when his sister quits picking on him sometimes they might not
like that." She smiled at the kids.
"Okay, so the best option is this one?"
"Unless we can somehow come up with eleven thousand a year," she agreed,
getting comfortable. "We can figure out how to get them there in a
"You could use a car," Phil said.
"I haven't driven in nearly four years, Phil, and traffic in this city scares me."
He nodded. "I can agree with that. Maybe we can find another
parent nearby who can take them for gas money or something." He
looked at his son, who beamed at him. "Are you going to like
"He hates preschool," Tara said when her son nodded. "Absolutely
loathes it because they make him quit hanging on his sister, they make
him hang out with boys who don't like to read, they have toys he doesn't
like." Phil smiled. "It's a decent preschool educationally
but they're very separate genders for part of the day and he hates
that. He hates that they make him take a nap too."
"My sissy is mine," John said. "They can blow me."
"Excuse you, what was that?" Phil asked. John pouted at him.
"Don't say that." He nodded and snuggled in better. "Have we
talked to them?"
"Yes. They said we should've broken that dependence on his sister earlier."
"We can talk to them," Maria said.
Tara smiled. "They won't allow you to bring a sidearm into the
center, Maria. It's above the martial arts place that you sent me
to for self defense."
"There has to be better placements," Phil said.
"That's where the school board sent us. There's so many slots and
they randomly assign them. I had to protest when they sent me to a
catholic run one across the city." Phil grimaced. "If you
two want to talk to them, they've agreed we can hold a family
meeting. They do *not* like that you're a biological dad, Phil."
"Can't we home school them?"
"No. The city said that they had to have preschool unless we plan on home schooling them for the next few years."
"None of us have the patience for that," Maria said. "I'll see where the other SHIELD parents are going."
Tara shook her head. "It's random assignment in the public
preschools. You're allowed one complaint unless it's a critical
problem like they're going to hurt the kids. Even on religious
grounds because we had huge blow up over that because they tried to send
them to one run by one of the hardline churches."
"I don't see why they're listed as public schools," Phil said.
"Open enrollment and they take city funds and bussing," Maria
said. "Some of them aren't what I'd want for my kids at
all." She looked at Melissa then called HR. "It's Maria
Hill. We're having discussions about preschool for the
twins. She did, and they're not liking that they're twins."
She made notes and nodded. "Thank you." She hung up.
"These ones will take SHIELD agents' kids at a highly reduced cost."
"Two are highly religious and one was the one I threw a fit about," Tara
said with a point. "That one's nowhere near here. Again,
needing a car." She looked at Maria, who grimaced. "But
thanks." She smiled at her. "The other alternative was a
private preschool, which are mostly expensive, none near here within ten
blocks, and really expensive. Some are kinda snotty too."
"Are they going to kindergarten next year?" Phil asked. She nodded. "They won the cutoff lottery?"
"They'll be five six weeks before school starts."
"Hm." He and Maria shared a look. "What's closest in private preschools?"
"Ten blocks past that school is a private one. It's probably
full. I didn't ask past the ten thousand a semester for
tuition." Phil grabbed his chest with a moan. "Yeah, that
was mine too." Maria shuddered. "The next nearest one is in
the other direction and it's seven a year."
"Why are they so expensive?" Maria demanded.
"There's one in the city that's nearly thirty a year for pre-school,
then fifty a year for grade school. It's meant to get you into any
school you want to go to."
Phil shook his head. "Even if all of us made senior agent money we couldn't swing that." Tara nodded. "So...."
"We can go talk to them in an hour. They have open meeting spots today. I made sure yesterday."
Phil and Maria shared a look then nodded. "We can talk to them," he said.
Xander appeared, leaning over to kiss him on the forehead. "Stark
needs to start a school. Callia could use it too." He
grinned at the twins. "Want to come to the temple?"
"They can show us their favorite things," Maria said, looking at
Tara. She was happy to be included in this talk. It meant
that she still had chances to unscrew things between them.
"Why can't I wear a skirt?" Melissa asked.
"Because the school said you can't," Tara said. "And I agree, you
need to be in pants so you can get down and play. So please go put
some on." She wiggled down to do that and ran into her
room. She caught John and handed him back to Phil. "She
doesn't need your fashion sense, son. She can dress herself."
Phil hugged him. "You don't need to help your sister dress." He looked up at Xander, who smiled. "Thanks."
"Welcome. The one that wanted K-9 dogs? Ares had four that
washed out of their training and two of the winged ones are up
too. They're going up to highest bidder for them tomorrow through
the guy that Ares usually uses. If SHIELD wants one, let me know
before then." He waved at John and disappeared.
Tara grinned. "That's good to know."
"Very." Phil called that in to Joyce, who said she'd tell Fury
when he was finished with his headache induced nap. Apparently a
case file had driven him to a migraine. He put his phone up and
looked at his son. "Go change your shirt. It's
sloppy." He ran off to do that when Melissa came back dressed
better. "Thank you, daughter. Very nice. Though,
"Can't find them, Daddy." She blew kisses and giggled, crawling up to cuddle her favorite mommy again.
Tara smiled at them. "She's missed stalking you."
"I've missed her stalking me." She hugged her. "Where's the two younger ones?"
"Mommy, Craig 'wake," John called. Danielle fussed. "Her too now."
She sighed but got up to change them since John had been so
helpful. They got brought out and put into their stroller.
John took Phil's hand. Maria took Melissa's, and they were off the
preschool to make their feelings known.
Melissa walked in and saw the security guard. She pulled her
ID. "No guns allowed in the building, ma'am," he said firmly.
"Unless you have a gun locker, tough shit. I'm a federal
agent. Their father is a federal agent," she said quietly and
calmly. "Do you have appropriate lockers?"
"No, ma'am. You can lock them in your car."
"We didn't drive," Phil said. The man blinked at him. He
smirked slightly. "Beyond that, our guns are lesser weapons to how
we're trained. That's why we're SHIELD agents." He walked
around the metal detector. Tara passed the younger two to him then
the stroller got hand-wanded. She walked through it and had to be
hand-wanded because she was wearing jewelry. John and Melissa
huffed but walked through it separately. Then Maria walked around
it. The guard called that in.
"By regulations, no agent is supposed to be without their sidearms
unless it is a direct problem," Maria told the huffy woman about to yell
at them. "We can get fired for that, ma'am. So unless you
have correct storage for sidearms, we are not allowed to surrender
them." She gaped. Maria stared her down. "Melissa, is
this your teacher?" she asked with a smile.
"No, she's principal," she said with a smile for her. "Teacher in his classroom." She ran off. "I get."
"Thank you," Tara said. She smiled. "I told them but that is
their regulations. I'm required to carry at least a knife and a
can of pepper spray whenever I'm on SHIELD property working with
them. They have very stringent rules." John smiled at
her. She smiled back. "You have spelling words to go over
"We can do that," Phil promised. He smiled. "We've just
found out that they're in preschool. How are they doing?"
"You're her spouse?"
"No, I'm their father. This is her spouse," he said with a point
at Maria. The principal glared. "Tara wished children and so
did I so I volunteered as she is like my sister. I'm also the
father one of the younger set." He smiled. "The other they did
some DNA work to make him her theirs. Is that a problem for you?"
"No," she said stiffly. "My office is this way. Melissa, leave your teacher alone."
"He's coming," she huffed, glaring at her. "Wanted to meet my
other mommy." She took Maria's hand with a grin. "He thinks
"I think you are too so that's a great thing." She smiled.
John took her other hand and she grinned at him. "Do you need to
"He not here now. He leaves early for doctors most
thursdays." They walked into the office together and they both
climbed into Maria's lap to cuddle her. Phil smiled. "I
cuddle you again later, Daddy. Mommy's been missing bedtimes."
"I know, and we're working on that," she promised, giving him a
squeeze. He grinned at her. She did the same to Melissa, who
cuddled in better. The teacher came in and nodded at her.
"Agent Hill." He smiled. "It figured that the Mommy Maria
was you." He shook her hand. "They're delightful twins."
"He does love to overprotect his sister," she said.
Phil shook his hand. "Agent Phil Coulson, their father."
"I've heard of you, Agent Coulson. My little brother runs the
shelter on Fifth and he's said some nice things about you." Phil
smiled slightly and nodded. "Tara, they're still struggling with a
Tara nodded. "That's the process of learning. Though I don't
like the gender segregation." She sat down next to him.
"How did you know my wife?"
"She was working a case a few years back with my brother and I when we
were both still agents." Tara smiled and nodded. He settled
in to go over where the kids were in their learning. They were
ahead by a bit but hated math.
"Can we have Carrot help us?" Melissa asked Tara.
"Who is Carrot?" the headmistress demanded. "If that's a stuffed friend, you know they're not allowed here, Melissa."
"Carrot is Callia Stark's pet rabbit," Phil said dryly. "He's very
much alive and likes to help her study as well. We'll see if we
can go over some of the math work with you later, kids." They
grinned. "Then we'll see if you can go visit Callia and Carrot
this weekend for a few hours." John got up to cheer and dance
around. Tara pulled him over to hug him. Phil took him to
hold. "You dance better than I do, son." John beamed and
hugged him. He patted him on the back, hugging him.
"Carrot might know math since Joyce said Callia was doing algebra at the moment," Maria said.
"He might," Tara agreed.
"She's eight?" Mr. Chapman asked.
Tara smiled and nodded. "Tony has her doing three classes at a
time at her own pace, though they've introduced the topic of deadlines
and promises to do things recently. She's doing Algebra 1,
Robotics 2, and Circuit Design 5 this time."
"She's always said she wanted to turn the older Iron Man suits into
animal hospitals," Phil agreed. "He's letting her figure out what
she'd need for that because she asked me what mobile units for field
agents needed to see if anything was similar to a mobile animal
"She's a brilliant little girl," Chapman said.
"She bonded well with the twins and she likes to read to them and help
them learn things," Tara said with a smile. "Which is why they
both read so well."
"They do. They're fully a few grades above their age level.
The only thing holding them back is math things. That and Melissa
has an upcoming section on food and household things."
"I would hope *both* children did," Tara said firmly.
"I have no idea when he's doing his nutrition lectures," Chapman
said. "Though we go into how to cook. That's up to him."
Tara shook her head. "No, they get the same education. I'm
sorry but Melissa may not be one of those who likes to cook, even though
I do. John loves to help in the kitchen. He's already a
champion cookie maker."
"You sure can and we'll see if we have what we need." She
smoothed down her hair. "We need to change your shampoo to
something better." She looked at the headmistress. "Both
children would get the same lessons, correct? I don't like the
stereotype that boys don't cook and girls do all the housework that I've
seen a few times."
"We think traditional...."
Tara laughed. "Traditionally, all chefs have been male." The
headmistress blinked. "Females weren't cooks outside the family
table in any time period. All head chefs were male and females
might have been minor cooks and maids but they didn't cook for
restaurants, castles, or travelers at inns. That along with the
bias that girls didn't need to read so therefore men had to handle those
things and the keys to the spice cabinet. Personally, being
thought of as frivolous and too female to read was one of the best
things we've broken since women's liberations started."
"John's helped Talsa cook a few times at Xander's," Phil agreed.
"He loves to cook and Melissa loves to organize. Xander was having
her help shelve the library since someone had done it in Library of
Congress order on him and he hates it."
Melissa grinned. "Books go in alphabetical order by author sorted by subject."
"That's right, they do," Phil agreed with a smile.
The headmistress looked at him. "She has access to a large library?"
"Alexander has a fairly large one at the temple."
"A religious library then," she said dryly.
"No, his is mostly science fiction and fantasy with a lot of paranormal and other problems. Then again, he is Alexander."
"That is a myth, sir," she said firmly. Phil let his godhood out and she swallowed. "What are you?"
"God over heros." He smiled. "His mate actually." He
looked at the kids, drawing it back in. "You two are coming with
us Sunday, right?" They grinned and nodded. "Good. You
can use the smaller sections of the training areas to climb on.
You need the exercise."
"We make them do yoga," the headmistress said.
Phil looked at her. "How do you do that since John still falls
over due to an ear problem?" She gasped. "We've had problems
for years with his left ear."
"He gets botox shots in it to help with the vertigo," Tara said, patting
him on the arm. "It's helped a lot. Though I like yoga, I'd
rather they had more playing energetically time. They need to run
"If we could get the old building rehabbed, we could move back so they
could have the gym," Maria said. "Phil, can you ask Stark?"
"I will." He looked at his son, who grinned at him. He
smirked back. "You and your sister can chase Thor's goats around
for a few hours. They've missed you like the war dogs have."
John beamed and nodded. "You're a good boy."
"Most of the time," Tara said. "He got his first swat the other
day for trying to lunge in the parking lot to pet a pretty car that was
moving." She sighed, looking at him. "He did not want to
"He was bad," Melissa agreed. "Not touch moving cars," she said at
her brother's pout. "You make mommy sad and she'll have to
cry." He shuddered and whimpered some.
Tara looked at her. "That's my job. Quit making your brother feel bad."
"You physically punish?" the headmistress asked.
"For life threatening problems, yes. He was going to get hit by a
car. That deserves more than a time out and more than a
grounding. The same as he doesn't play with the guns because he
knows better. If he tried to, he'd get a single one for
that. I'm *well* aware of the difference between abuse and a
single swat on the butt for doing something that could get him killed."
"We agreed, that's a reasonable time for that," Phil said simply.
He looked at his son. "You're not going to do that again,
right?" He shook his head. "Good." He smiled at the
headmistress. "He's been stood in the corner many times in his
life. He's had a lot of groundings too. Both of them
have. We have firm fencelines of expected behavior and whenever
they try to go through them they're gently punished and corrected.
However, my son has little sense at times. Petting a moving car
would be dangerous and too big for grounding or anything else like
"It's pretty much adopted pack wide," Tara agreed. "Though I've
seen Xander kick one of the trainees in the butt for doing something
"The SHIELD trainees are adults and should know better by then," Phil
said dryly. "Some don't." He smiled at Maria. "Fury
told one the other day he was going to shoot him for being an
incompetent moron that had made a problem worse."
"Was he the one that nagged the pregnant agent trying to hide her
morning sickness into crying? Or the one that tried to jump on a
retreating car and landed on top of an injured civilian because he
thought he was in an action movie?"
"Ah. Well, yes, he should probably be put out of my misery too then." Phil smirked. "He's passing?"
"He's second highest in the class."
"Then perhaps I'll wing him in the leg."
"I have the feeling he'll have the same sort of luck that Barton used to in the field. He just needs common sense."
"Then give him a mentor so Barton can beat common sense into him before he gets more agents killed."
Melissa poked him. "Common sense isn't a virus you can get a shot
to get. Mommy said so when she told Brother he needed some."
"I did, yes," Tara agreed dryly. "That would have been after the car thing."
"Even if there was, most people who needed it would still complain about
it being a vaccine," Phil quipped. Tara laughed and nodded.
"I don't think that the children are fitting in well here," the headmistress said.
Tara looked at her. "They do well enough. I have very few
complaints outside of the gender stereotyping. The kids have made
decent enough friends."
"Your religious preference really isn't acceptable to the other
parents. A few have complained that they call on the goddess."
"And yet, your handbook of rules states that you do not discriminate on
the basis of religion," Tara said bluntly, staring at her.
"They could probably pass the tests now," she said stiffly.
"They can't pass the math part and John's ear held him back on the physical at the time."
"I still think a less structured placement would work for them."
"Then please write the school board since they sent them here," Tara
said dryly. "They said you were a good school. I think some
of your teachers are good. Though I do have problems with my son's
teacher because of his 'all boys are macho' BS attitude."
"Some kids are artistic," Phil agreed.
"Yes, but we don't encourage gay behavior here," the headmistress said.
"There's many artists that aren't gay," Phil said dryly. "Though
that stereotype could have just put you in a lawsuit." She
flinched. He gave her his most evil smirk. "That may depend
on if the city's school board does something to you or not."
Mr. Chapman cleared his throat. "Please don't, Agent
Coulson. There's already over five hundred too few preschool spots
in the city. It's forcing the private ones to admit more kids."
"Which yours will now be," the headmistress said. "You have a great day."
Tara smirked back. "You as well. Though, we really are going
to have to talk to the other parents about the Nazi insignia behind
your desk." She looked then gaped at Tara. She smiled.
"I was a history major in college." She stood up. "C'mon,
guys, let's go. We need to see the school board." She walked
the stroller out. "Mr. Chapman, you've been excellent to my
children, thank you." She shook his hand with a smile. "I
hope they can turn this into a really good preschool."
Maria and Phil did the same thing and walked out together. The
placement board over preschools wasn't happy to see them but they only
sighed at the complaints. There weren't any open placement spots
for non-paid preschool left. They did take the complaints,
including the one that the headmistress had complained about a single
swat for trying to run at a moving car by her son. They said
they'd investigate and gave them ideas of where to look at private
preschools. A lot of parents were switching at the moment due to
problems with the school they were sent to.
Phil and Maria walked papers into Fury's office. "We need time off to visit preschools," he said.
"That bad?" Fury asked, signing off on them and handing them back.
"The headmistress complained that we wanted John to learn how to cook if
his sister was," Maria said. "She complained that Tara had to
spank him once for something dangerous. Called a social worker on
her and when it got explained and Phil showed her what had happened
during the meeting she closed the file and put in a complaint against
her because this wasn't the first time she'd used social services as a
punishment for parents that weren't her sort."
"She decided John was gay because he's a bit artistic, no matter how
many times he's flirted with Pepper and other women," Phil added.
Fury shook his head. "The city's a mess for schooling." They nodded. "Good luck."
"Thank you, sir." They left to take the forms to HR, then head
home to talk about school funds and how to handle it. Phil popped
in on Stark to ask him for his list. "Where did you look at for
"Honestly, I didn't," he said, turning around to look at him.
"She's too vulnerable with her health issues, plus the whole kidnaping
possibility. I wasn't planning on letting her out until high
school and that might not be for a while even though she's nearly
there. Why? The kids need a list?"
"For preschool. Tara has them accepted into a good day school next
year. This preschool thing was a problem since she went through
the public system. They were trying to teach John lessons like
he's some macho cowboy wannabe. The headmistress said he was going
to be gay."
Tony snickered. "Your son flirts with every single woman he can
find pretty enough, which is most of them if they have breasts.
He's worse at it than Chris is."
"He is," he agreed. "We have no idea where to send them. They had gender segregation there."
Tony shook his head. "It won't turn your daughter any less tough."
"They were about to teach the girls how to cook."
"Ah. Well, your daughter hates the kitchen so I doubt that would've went over well."
"Which might've gotten her held back," he said dryly. "I
asked. They said they could've held her back for not liking to do
"Great!" he said dryly. "Hell no that wouldn't hold water. You'd sue."
"I would. Tara's threatening the last preschool. Does Pepper
have a list?" He shook his head. "I guess we'll get the
handbook out. Thanks, Stark." He left, going back
there. "They didn't even consider it."
"They'd have to have a very secure school to even be on the radar for
Stark's kids," Maria said. "Then have a great, open educational
system. I can agree with the security needs."
"Which automatically adds at least five grand to the tuition," Tara
said. She looked at the rankings she had saved out of the papers
and looked at a few. "There's almost nothing nearby that's not
They settled in to go over it. Phil sent an email to Stark about
the Avengers building. He got back 'the mayor won't approve of it
because it'll draw problems to that neighborhood'. He showed it to
Tara, who rolled her eyes.
"We can move," Tara offered. "This area has better schools.
It's a bit closer to their future school but on the other side."
Xander appeared with a carpet bag, pouring it out. "Melissa, can
you please sort those for me?" She grinned and settled in to do
that with her brother. The younger set cooed and cheered them
on. He flopped down. "We can sell some of it to pay for
education stuff." Phil smiled at him. Xander bumped
shoulders with him. "It's important to their futures."
"Thank you," Tara said with a smile. "We'll find some way to pay you back, Xander."
He stared at her. "You are still like my sister and they are my
stepchildren," he said firmly. "Don't even think about it unless
you win the lottery." She smiled and ducked her head. Maria
smiled too. He looked and pointed. "I know someone who went
there. One of the agents was complaining about it having fallen
down because his brother wasn't doing near as much homework as he used
to. Called it a fairy hippy place now."
"I wouldn't mind if they were," Tara admitted. "As long as they
had a decent education system." Xander shrugged, he hadn't
asked. "That's fine. We can look there." She added
that to her list. They had a preschool option. The
short list was pretty long but they had a few days to narrow it
Xander walked the bag of stuff that Phil had decided was hideously ugly
into the demonic pawn shop. He grinned. The owner
moaned. "Found it when I let out Nyama." He put the bag on
the counter. "Phil's twins need a school fund."
"It came from a dragon's hoard?" he demanded.
"Yeah. I claimed the bounty on myself. Then again, I
could've let her out anytime since I'm the one that talked her into
going in there."
"That was some god, Harris." Xander let out his radiance and the
pawn shop owner blinked a few times. "What the hell ate you?
I clearly lost my bet on it being a vampire."
Xander laughed. "You didn't realize I'm also Alexander, son of
Loki? God Protectorate of Humanity?" The demon whined.
He laughed. "Yeah. But anyway," he said, pulling it back
in. "Phil's twins need a school fund. Their public preschool
hated them and kicked them out for parents who had *ideas* and
"I've seen a few of those. Some of the public schools here in the
city might as well be sewers." He looked in the bag then at
him. "Why these?"
"Phil didn't like them." He held up two things from his
pocket. "Melissa thought they weren't pretty enough for her mommy
He took them to look over. "Better. The rest I can give you
gold salvage weight." Xander pulled out something to hold
up. "That's a magical artifact. That'll have to go to
auction." Xander created a portal and held up the artifact.
They took it to look over and offered it to their client. Who
snatched it up and paid them in gold bars, which Xander handed to the
pawn shop demon after closing the portal. "Okay, that works
too." He gave him weight value on those. It'd bankrupt him
but the gold bars were precious and would bring huge profits when he
Xander walked out happier and he called someone he knew on the west
coast. "Harris is a God?" he demanded quietly, glancing
around. "Yeah, just saw him! Something about son of Loki....
protector of humanity.... Oh, shit, that's him?" he demanded,
standing up. "I never connected those two. So he's Coulson's
mate. Huh. Interesting. Though the 'son of Loki' part
seems to fit him very well with as much chaos as he's caused. By
the way, he just sold a magical artifact for gold bars. Yup, so I
have five available." He hung up and thumped his fin on the table a
few times. It was good luck to thump his fin. Even when it
did give him watery eyes and the sniffles.
Phil found a preschool that wasn't on the list. It was well
rated. It was creepy looking. It was non-religious. It
was very creepy looking. It had high scores, wouldn't mind John
clinging to his sister or calling out for the Goddess, but it was fairly
creepy looking. He called Tara and Maria to join him. They
got there with the twins, Dawn was off today to babysit, and stared at
"I want to start humming a tv theme song," Tara said. Phil handed over the information. "Okay, still...."
He looked at her. "I pre-interviewed and they were pleasant.
Even if it does look like a very old gothic castle in miniature."
John blinked then at his sister. "Ooh?"
She nodded. "Ooh." They hurried up the stairs, making their
parents chase them. The growling thing overtop of the doorway got a
smile and a wave. "Hi!" she chirped. "Not a war puppy?"
It stared down at them then at the humans. "This is mostly a school for demons, Humans."
Tara smiled. "I'm Tara Maclay."
"Enter and be recognized then. You have status and needs."
They walked in together. Phil gave him a pointed look. "I
would never talk to a god. It is above my rank."
"That's fine. They're my twins." He smiled as he walked inside. "Headmistress."
"Agent Coulson." She smiled at the twins hugging her. "You two are adorable."
"They're my twins with Tara before I got appointed."
She nodded. "I've heard rumors of the twins within the community."
"There's not a prophecy, right?" Tara asked.
"No, dear. Not in the least." She walked them back to her
office to talk to the parents. They were delightfully honest and
the kids were already cheering. It was relatively close to the
house too so they could easily get there every morning. It was a
good hike, about ten blocks, but they could do that. The kids
would get used to it. Tara didn't care that it was mostly demons
and half demons, plus a few other human magic users. The kids were
open minded and having funny looking friends was great to them.
They even had a daycare for the younger set if she wanted and needed to
drop them off for a day of doing important witch things. Maria was
hesitant but the kids went to visit the classrooms and they adored the
kids in there. The teachers were a breed of nanny demon who could
block magic if necessary. They would be accepted by their next
school. Tuition was cheap.
This was their preschool.
Even if it was a bit creepy looking.
Dawn opened up the fancy looking envelope, expecting an
invitation. The one she saw was not what she was expecting
though. She sent a cautious thought at Natasha since she wasn't
sure if she was busy or not. No, she was busy. Clint's mind
was blank because he was focused on a target. She walked it in to
talk to Pepper. Who blinked at it then at her. "That was my
feeling but they're busy right now."
"The 'we'll protect your identity' part is nice," Pepper decided. "Though it's a bit weird."
"I suggested masks somehow." She shrugged when Pepper stared at her. "I was pregnant."
"Oh, then. Well...." She sighed. "Stark probably wouldn't if he couldn't be told to be himself."
"Steve would blush himself to death," Dawn agreed.
"Over?" Steve asked from the doorway. Dawn handed over the
invitation. He stared at it. "We're not really that sort of
dream team," he said dryly.
She smiled back. "Totally without showing who you are."
He nodded. "Some of them might need the extra cash." He handed it back. "Ask Bucky and Clint?"
"Sure." She gathered a few things she needed to deliver over there
anyway and headed to the other tower through the walkway. There
were always reporters outside these days. She swiped her card to
get into the Avengers area and walked in. Bucky was sitting
staring at his hands. She dropped the card printed side down on
his hands. He gave her a dirty look but she had walked off to
deliver things to the various businesses. They had to redo leases
Bucky flipped the card over and burst out laughing. "That's not
really what I'd expect from Stark's assistant," he said, shaking his
head. Steve walked in. "Did you see this?"
"Yeah. I told her to ask you. They've done an illicit and illegal one with some of us. I wasn't in that one."
"You never really were a naked kid," Bucky said dryly.
"True." He grinned. "They said they'd protect your identity."
"I'd be rather noticeable with my arm, Steve."
He shrugged. "Maybe long gloves?"
"Women wear those."
"No, as I accidentally found out, there's guys that do for some kinky
things. I really need to quit googling things that I'm wondering
about and just ask." He sat down next to him. "It'd be a bit
of pocket change."
"Yeah, maybe." He looked at it then at his buddy. His best
friend since childhood. Who had just suggested he get naked and
pose for drooling women. "I have way too many scars."
"There's ways to cover those. Dawn does with some makeup stuff. She can even do bruises."
Dawn walked back in with a bloody nose, heading for the changing area to
get some towels. "It's nothing," she said at the dual stares when
she came out.
"The black eye too?" Steve quipped.
She nodded. "Yup." She walked off.
Tony walked past her on the walkway. "Security threw out the woman who hit you because you had Natasha and she didn't."
"Thanks," she quipped. "They want to do the heros calendar with masks."
"Uh-huh. Not my thing." He walked in there. "Someone wanted Natasha, she was jealous that Dawn had her."
"Nothing poisoned, right?" Bucky asked.
"No, nothing poisoned. Just a pissed off teenage girl who thinks she's *special*."
"I've seen some of those on tv," Bucky complained. "Steve was right, we lost a few of them in the war."
Steve nodded. "They'll expect Callia to party like her father used to."
Tony nodded. "And Grandfather used to and great-grandfather used
to," he said dryly, putting his hands in his pockets. JARVIS
cleared his throat. "What's wrong?"
"Your daughter was doing her plant science lesson of taking pictures of
various plants and their bugs in the atrium when that same delusional
young woman stomped up to her. She complained that Callia would
never have a good social position and never get a good boyfriend because
of it. Your daughter very wisely said that if that's all that
mattered in her life, she was pathetic because Callia had a career ahead
of her doing great things like you have, sir. " He cleared his
"Who hit who?" Steve sighed.
"The older lady tried to slap the young miss. Who promptly hit her
back and sent her into a cactus. We may need some gardeners over
there, should I call in the regular ones, sir?"
"Please," Tony said, heading down there with Steve, and Bucky following
looking amused. He looked at his daughter. Then at the young
woman who was sobbing. "Didn't I have her thrown out for trying
to start a fight with Dawn?"
The security team all nodded. "She snuck back, sir."
"She's still a stupid bitch because all she cares about is a *boyfriend*
and status," Callia said with a hand wave. "If that's all that's
important to you than you might as well already be dead. Because,
yuck, grody, all that nonsense. Some of us have shit we have to do
to quote my aunt, and you're in the way." She stared at
her. "I'll be thinking of you when I get my first scientific award
in a few years, sweetheart. Maybe by then you'll have pushed out a
trophy heir you lose in the custody dispute due to your drug
habit." Steve covered her mouth. "Hey!"
Tony stared at her. "Having a bad day, dear?"
"Yes," she mumbled behind the hand. "Dumb bitch tried to hit me
and ruined my homework. I'll have to do it all over again, Daddy."
"I think it'll be okay." He looked at it. "Steve can show
you how to erase that line from the pencil." Steve looked and
nodded, sitting down with her to go over her drawing, and lack of skills
for it. He could teach her art class. She needed one
anyway. Tony looked at the young woman. "Why are you so
concerned about all that when you wanted Agent Romanoff earlier?"
The guards snickered. "Then again, she'd never give you society
status. She hates society events."
Dawn walked over looking perky. "Okay." She clapped her
hands, making Callia flinch. "You, young lady, move to the other
area so they can get in here to clean it up." She nodded, taking
Steve and Bucky with her. "Agent Barnes, please make sure my niece
is in super special shape." He nodded. Dawn hauled the
crying young thing up. "Oh, please!" she said sarcastically.
"I've had worse than that and had Natasha tell me to suck it up.
You're not woman enough for her. You never will be woman enough
She stared at her. "And if this is like your livejournal page
stated and a planned suicide by stupidity, you've already lost.
We'd only kill you if we needed to." She handed her to the
security team. "She gets arrested. JARVIS printed that page
at the security desk, guys." They nodded, walking her off.
She looked at the mess. "Isn't that a rare cactus?"
"I know nothing about that," Tony said. "I let people tell me what
they are and how good they're doing." He looked at her.
"She was?" Dawn called up the girl's livejournal page and he read
it, grimacing. "I agree with my daughter. She's a dumb bitch
that needs help." He handed it back. The gardeners who took
care of the atrium came in and moaned. "Tried to hit my daughter
so Callia punched her. Sorry, people."
"We can probably save the cactus and the nightshade next to it, sir." They got out of the way.
Tony walked over to talk to the officers responding about her getting
help and yes his daughter was going to press charges. The young
woman tried to get free but Tony grabbed her by the hair when she
reached for an officer's gun and handed her back. "We're not going
to do it for you. If you want to die that much, do it
yourself." He walked off. "We're also going to be
filing for compensation for the destruction of the garden area."
"That's not our job, sir," one officer said with a smile. "You
have lawyers for that probably." He walked the young woman
off. She'd have to spend a few minutes in the ER getting some
cactus spines removed from her back but that was fine too. Gave them a
break from patrol and let them have lunch while they did the
reports. The DA was not going to be happy about this.
Clint and Natasha got called in for their updated personal identifying
marks file update. They both showed up together. The doctors
in there smiled. "Agent Romanoff, there's a female nurse who'll
be in with us so you don't have to feel uncomfortable."
"Outside of one mole on my back, I don't really have any. That has not changed."
"We had to scrap the old one and start over completely. It was
simpler than updating it would be." Clint snickered. "Agent
Barton, I know you have some tattoos." He nodded. "Any
present bruising we'll have to disclude on either of you?" They
shook their heads. "Excellent."
"How do we know these won't be hacked for another calendar?" Clint asked.
"We now have a lot better security. When they upgraded all the
systems, ours got the standard and then some additional security
work." The doctor smiled. "We heard that they had done that
to you two. We're sorry."
Clint shrugged, taking off his shirt. "It happens when they stalk
you that way." The nurse handed over the camera. He took a
full chest shot then a picture of each tattoo. "I've got one on my
hip and one noticeable scar on my thigh." He dropped his pants,
smirking at Natasha's open stare. "Not like you haven't played
"Dawn was thinking about coloring that one on your thigh in with a permanent marker. She said it's faded."
"It is." He let them do a lower body shot and then take a picture of those two things. Another scar got a picture.
"There we go, Agent Barton. Agent Romanoff?" She stripped
off her shirt and undid her bra strap. "Thank you." He took
the pictures quickly. "No other large scars?"
She considered it. "I'm in no mood to pose lewdly so you can get
the one on my inner thigh." The doctor blushed and nodded, making
note that she had one. Clint took the camera and her into the
bathroom to get a shot of it. And to tease her a bit. When
he came out a few minutes later the nurse was blushing since Natasha had
moaned. Natasha came out doing back up her shirt. "Thank
you, Agent Barton."
"Welcome, Agent Romanoff," he said with an evil smirk. "You remember it's your turn to make dinner, right?"
"I know. I'm hoping I can trade with Dawn." She looked at the staff. "Anything else?"
"No, ma'am," the doctor said with a smile. "Unless you need travel vaccinations?"
"No, I got those recently. Thank you anyway." They walked
out together. "Are you going to get those recolored?"
"Maybe. Not sure yet." They passed by Coulson. "They're making it painless."
"As long as this one doesn't send me to Psych," he said dryly. He
walked in. "We'll need to draw a curtain. I'll have to get
fairly explicitly naked as one's on my hip."
"Of course. Do you want a second person in here for your modesty and protection, Agent Coulson?"
"No, I know you won't pounce." He stripped carefully out of his
suit down to his boxers. He let him do the upper chest one.
"My mate put it there. It's permanent."
"That's wonderful. I'm told he's Asgardian and that's probably
something that warriors do so they can find their mate even in the
middle of a battle." Phil smirked slightly. "I heard about
the last one, Agent Coulson. I don't care what you two get up to
unless I have to treat whip or handcuff marks."
"No, that is not our style." He stepped out of his boxers, letting
him get the one on his hip and the few other scars. Including the
long one down his cock.
"Surgery?" he guessed.
"Knife fight in a bar with a target."
"Ow." Phil nodded. "Any others on your backside?" Phil
turned, letting him get the scars back there. "All done, Agent
Coulson. Get redressed. I'll need to upload these and ask if
you need any travel vaccines or anything."
"I'm not sure if they'd work on me," he admitted. "They used to
but my status has ...changed." He slid back into his undershirt
and boxers then all the way up from there until he was doing up his
tie. He looked at the staring doctor. "They made me immortal
so my mate would not be left alone. They did that before they
told us we were getting married."
"That's really weird. I didn't think Gods would go for arranged
marriages. Huh." He added that to his file. "We can
take some blood to see if they'll actively harm you." Phil let him
do that from his wrist. "I'll let you know what I find out.
Any other needs?"
"Not at the moment. Thank you. Oh, whatever the Director
says about the one on his thigh, it was from a war dog puppy that
mistook him as someone hostile." He left, walking off happier.
"I'll ask him about that when I do his." He uploaded those files
and made sure they were all locked down before sending out the next
batch of appointments. He decided to add the director into that
one so he wouldn't forget that. Fury came in first, already
grimacing. "It's not a long process, Director. Simply a few
photos." He pulled the curtain. "I can call in a male nurse
if you want a bit of security."
"I'd beat your ass if you tried to jump me," Fury assured him
dryly. He took off his leather jacket and then his shirt, letting
him take a picture of his two tattoos. The scars got more looked
at and a bit of better lighting since some of them were now faint.
Fury groaned but undid his pants so they could fall.
"Agent Coulson said that was the result of a war dog?" he asked, taking a picture of it.
"I should've skinned that mutt but it was a bad day," he said sarcastically. "Done?"
"Yup," he said, handing the camera to his nurse so she could upload
them. "Any vaccinations needed, Director? They've updated
the travel ones."
"No. Thankfully no one asks me for any."
"You've had your Hepatitis ones?"
"There is?" The doctor nodded, looking at the medical
records. He made a list and Fury nearly got sick. "Why so
"This one is to prevent shingles, which comes in people who have had
chicken pox. There's a whooping cough epidemic in a few areas so
they're recommended. By agency policy you have to have these," he
said with a point. "We can do them next week."
"I'll try," he said dryly, walking off once he had his clothes back on. He passed by Joyce. "Your turn?"
"Probably." She walked in and smiled at the doctor. "I don't know why I need one."
"In case something tragic happens and they bomb the building," the nurse
said, smiling at her. "I know you have a few marks, Joyce."
"Yes, but thankfully the surgical scars are hidden under my hair."
The doctor looked at her. "I had two bouts of brain cancer."
"Oh, dear. How long have you been in remission?"
"Three years now," she said with a smile. "Full remission. Still doing checks though."
"That's fine. I can have a nurse sit in with us, Mrs. Banner."
"Fine. If you must." The curtain was closed and she took off
her blouse, letting them take pictures of the little stars to denote
where radiation was focused on her neck and the scars on her arms from
the PIC line and other IV's. He looked at her hair, taking a
picture of one scar that could be seen. She shivered when he
touched it. "Still a bit sensitive."
"I understand that fully." He handed the camera off. "I'm
sure your regular doctor is making sure your vaccines are up to
date?" She nodded, putting back on her shirt. "Any other
scars to note?"
"I have that one on my lower back."
"I got that one. Claw?" Joyce nodded with a grimace.
"Have your doctor call us if he's having problems scheduling your scans
and we'll see if we can work you in here." He patted her on the
hand. "Tell your spouse he has to get one as well. He's been
avoiding it for two days." She texted him and got him up
there. She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "Dr. Banner."
"Yes. In case something tragic happens so we can identify
you. Unfortunately it's a risk, even with your special other half
"Fine." He took off his shirt. "I don't have many
scars." Joyce ran a hand over his bicep, making him shiver and
smile at her. "You're being distracting."
"I am." She grinned. "You're making dinner."
"I'll order. Thai?"
"Spaghetti and you cook tomorrow night?"
He smiled. "I can make something less spicy for you, Joyce."
She kissed him then walked off. The doctor had gotten all his
pictures done while he was distracted. "That went better than my
The doctor smiled. "I do need to ask if you need any vaccines."
"We have no idea if they'd work, much less if they'd cause harm.
I'll look into that this week sometime." He put back on his
shirt. "Are we done?"
"We are, Dr. Banner. Thank you and have a good dinner with
her. She's a charming woman." Bruce smirked as he walked
out. The Dr. looked at his nurse. "How many do we have
"We've done all the ones in the building and most of the ones that
roam. We have to do the other Avengers members. We have to
do Summers. We have to do the auxiliary offices."
"Call the other Avengers in to do theirs today or tomorrow." She
sent those notices out. "Don't forget Summers. She's in the
database files." She nodded, adding her.
Dawn looked at her email. "Pepper, SHIELD's doing the updated identifying marks files."
"You're both adjunct members. No," Pepper said. "It's not safe."
Dawn wrote that back and then to her mother to tell her Pepper said they
couldn't. It was against Stark policy. Then she got back to
work. Pepper's phone rang and Dawn snickered since that was the
Pepper huffed. "He said that you both have to do it."
"I can refuse. I'm not paid by SHIELD," Dawn said, looking back at her.
"It's got a good reason. Do you have any identifying scars?"
"Three." She smiled. "I'm wondering if they caught the
tattoo that Clint has hidden." She sent a text at Tony to tell
"Hell. No," her phone said a minute later. "We are not paid
by SHIELD. We are not members of SHIELD. SHIELD has no need
to see my scars, my chest, or anything else. But I'll tell Cap and
Bucky." He hung up.
Dawn smiled and sent that back to her mother. She did say she
could tell them she had three identifying marks. One on her
shoulder, one on her inner thigh and the one on her neck. Also
that it should be pretty obvious who Stark was with the hole in his
chest that glowed from the energy creation unit in it. She got
back to work.
Steve walked past her desk. "Director Fury said...." he started.
She smiled. "They don't pay me, Captain Rogers. They never
have." He grimaced. "Nor do they need to see my inner
thigh. Thanks though." She grinned. "I told them where
they were so they could input them, that should be enough. They
also aren't getting dental records, which they've asked for, or anything
else. Even with the newly upgraded security there's morons out
there who want my files more than anyone else's."
"Good point I guess. Let me take Bucky over there. Clint and Natasha?"
"He said no. Though it should be obvious thanks to his
chest." Steve nodded that was true, taking Bucky with him.
She smiled and sent that to Stark, who sent back a 'thank you' and 'come
make me coffee please'. "Pepper, Stark wants coffee."
"Make him eat too."
"I think he made lunch for a change." She went down there to do
that for him. "Pepper said to make sure you've eaten in the last
He waved his fork since he was eating a salad. "You hid my coffee grounds on me."
"No I didn't." She looked in the container. "You're out. You had half a container last night."
He looked over. "Really?" She nodded, showing him.
"JARVIS, who stole my coffee?" He ate a bite of his salad.
"Your daughter. She was using them to teach herself how to distill things."
"I'll get you some tonight." She went up to get into her personal
stash, bringing it down to make him some. He grinned.
"Clint's coffee stash."
"I'll thank him later." She poured him the first cup and started a
second one then left him to eat. He had clearly missed
breakfast. "Tell her I want to know what she's doing, JARVIS."
"I already have, sir. She's cleaning up after the dog, who threw up a minute ago."
"I believe he ate some grass the last time he went out. She'll be down in a minute."
"That's fine." He put down his salad to sip his coffee. She
ran in a few minutes later and jumped up into his lap to hug him.
She moaned and grabbed his salad to inhale. "You have to not
follow me in that bad habit," he told her. She looked up at him
while she chewed. "If you have to set an alarm so you remember to
eat, so be it. You're still growing and you could end up stunted
"I'll set an alarm, Daddy. Every five hours?" She finished his salad and drank the dressing from the bowl.
He put her on her feet. "We'll hit the caf." He took her
down there to talk to her about what she had been doing all day.
He hadn't paid attention to her yet today. Liz ran in squealing
and headed right for the cookie tray. "Liz?" He waved his
cookie. She ran over to pounce him and steal it with a grin then
ran off. "Does your mother know you're wandering?"
"Probably not," Callia admitted. "JARVIS, does Beya have Chris?"
"Andrew has Chris. They lost Liz for a few minutes but Jonathan just intercepted her," the AI said dryly.
"Great," Tony agreed. They went back to going over what she was
doing. Distilling was coven work and the rest was not making her
happy but she was trudging through it at an acceptable rate.
Maria Hill walked in and sighed. "Mr. Stark, even as an unpaid
adjunct member, we have to have the identifying marks file or you won't
be allowed back in the building."
"Sure, I can not show up," he said with a smile. "No way in
hell. I have marks that I don't want anyone to see. I don't
want anyone taking a picture of the arc reactor, and there's been plenty
noted on Dawn as well. So no." He smiled.
"Nicky can blow me."
"Daddy, you told me saying that was rude," Callia said.
"Yeah, it is." He grinned and nibbled on a cookie, looking at Maria. "Anything else, Agent Hill?"
"Director Fury said I was to use force or coercion if I had to."
"You can try if you want. My daughter will applaud when I kick you around." He ate another bite of cookie.
Dawn walked in with Clint. "No! Hell no! He doesn't
need to know and the other two I keep hidden so not everyone knows
they're there. They're in my file here and if it was that critical
to identifying my dead body they can call the Stark infirmary and get
it." She got some juice and took a kiss, smiling at him.
"Did it capture your hidden one?" She strolled off. "Beyond
that, I still have a few faintly showing in henna from the last rite I
had to help with. They're not staying."
Clint shrugged at his senior agent and grinned. "Nope.
Sorry." He looked at Callia. "You've lost weight."
"I noticed," Tony said. "Got it handled, Barton."
"Okay. Want me to find her an alarm?"
"She has a program on her tablets and her laptop," he said.
"Do you?" Clint asked. "Because you've dropped at least ten pounds again. You're looking like an addict."
Tony rolled his eyes and waved the last of his cookie before eating it. "I'm an adult. I'll deal with it."
"Thanks. Dawn would cry if she had to start teleporting food into your stomach so you didn't get sick." He left.
Maria Hill huffed. "We really must insist, Mr. Stark."
"Like Dawn, mine's here in the infirmary and it's needed for something
tragic, it can be sent over. That's not getting out. The
same as the rest of our medical files aren't. There's a reason I
erased mine and hers. Mostly due to the idiots that have happened
in the past." He stared at her. She gave a tiny shudder of
understanding. "Thank you for your visit today."
"I'll let him know that." She left. The director was not
going to be happy. She walked into his office when she got
back. "They have ones at Stark and their files here have been
erased due to the past idiot Dawn wanters."
Fury flinched and grimaced. "I forgot about them." He looked up at her. "Their infirmary has a good one?"
"More than enough probably, sir. Stark's pretty identifiable due
to the arc reactor. Summers says she only has three scars and she
routinely hides two."
"Fine." He waved a hand. "Put that note into their
files." She nodded, texting that to Medical so they could do
that. Fury went back to his paperwork from hell. "Summers,
this one's not complete."
She looked in. "That was passed on from Maria, Director, and the
agent that had been doing it died recently from being hit by a drunk
"Oh. I didn't realize." He looked at the others. "From his desk?" She nodded. "Hill saw them?"
"Fine." She went back to work. "Hill?" She came in. "No one could finish these?"
"Those were mostly solo assignments. We have what we could and I turned his notes into what little I could fill in, sir."
"Fine. Make a note in his file about that in case it intersects any other agents' reports."
"I already have." She went back to her desk.
Dawn sat her son on the kitchen table at home and looked at him.
He was happy. "What do you want for your first holiday season,
son? I have no idea what to get you since you hate every single
toy I've ever bought you." He was still smiling. "I know,
you like me sometimes. If I could stay home and be your toy, I
would." She cuddled him. "We'll need stuff for you to crawl
over." She put her tablet on the table, letting him help by
patting it. "Let's see, baby toys for a year-old-guy." She
pulled up a toy site and selected by age. Then by 'boy'.
"Let's see. I see a lot of walkers." She looked at
him. "You'll do that on your own." She looked again.
"I see some activity centers, including on the walkers."
She made a note of that. Her mom had asked for a possible
list. "I see Baby Einstein stuff," she said with a grin for
him. "Want to learn stuff and be really smart like Uncle Tony and
Callia?" He squealed and threw up his hands, beaming at her.
Then he went back to sucking on his finger. "You have not a clue
what I'm talking about, do you?" She shrugged. "How about we
put on the language DVD and let you veg for a bit? You've been
stimulated today by the other kids." She turned it on and let him
cuddle up to her on the couch.
Clint hated the baby language systems, mostly because he had fallen
asleep to one and woken up repeating it while their son stared in awe at
the daddy talking like the DVD. Natasha thought he'd pick it up
naturally around them. Dawn wasn't so sure since they only used
Russian and English around the house. Plus, Dawn could use the
brushing up on her language skills.
Clint walked past Joyce's desk with a file. "Mission report," he
said when she held up a hand. "Already finished."
She took it with a smile. "That's good, and you used the new forms. Thank you."
She grinned. "When is Dawn getting the christmas list done?"
"Every baby gets spoiled on their first christmas, Clint."
"Not all of us," he said dryly, putting his hands in his pockets and
shifting his weight some. "I guess he'll get some toys."
She stared at him. "If yours were still alive I'd kill them for
you so hard you'd beg for them to have some mercy, sweetheart."
She stood up to kiss him on the cheek. "Your son is getting
spoiled." She grinned. "What do you want to help him play
He shrugged. "As long as it's not Dora or something educational, I
don't care. I don't want to have a kid as smart as Stark.
I'd hate feeling dumb next to my kid."
"I did that many times, even next to Buffy. It's a natural thing
and then you sigh and ground them for something stupid." He
snorted, grinning some. "So no Baby Einstein?"
"No. Please no. Dawn's gotten him some kiddy language
systems. We hate those things. I feel stupid. Natasha
said he'll pick it up from us, and Dawn thinks she's full of it because
we don't use them at home, only on the job. Get him toy toys."
She laughed. "At his age it's all activity centers, walkers, and that sort of thing."
"I think I had a walker. My brother said I did once. I guess
it kept me out of the cabinets and stuff." He shrugged
slightly. "I know Dawn said he'd do it naturally."
"I'll find something then. We can shop together." He relaxed
and nodded that was a good idea. "Though, you'll probably still
get some educational things from Tony or someone."
"That's fine." He walked off. "I'm going to talk to the wife."
"What's happened now?" Joyce asked.
He rolled his eyes as he turned to face her again. "She's decided the baby hates her."
"Sometimes it seems that way. Buffy preferred Hank for a few weeks until she realized he hated to change her."
"She's not seeing it like we are."
"It's a motherish thing to do."
"As long as I don't find out the hard way," he quipped, getting on the elevator to go to the garage level.
Joyce snickered. "I can't see you using the machines, dear."
She sat down to go over the file for completeness then put it into the
'need signed off on' box.
"They make learning systems?" Maria asked.
Joyce smiled and nodded. "From the pre-verbal age to help them learn how to talk on up."
"Huh. I'm glad Tara's not pushy about that." She shook her head.
"All three of them put down how smart they are," Joyce said
blandly. "I almost wanted to spank that out of Dawn a few times."
"Do it for the bikinis instead," Fury called from his desk.
Joyce leaned in there. "I have no problem with her flaunting her
natural gifts, Director. I have problems with her not flaunting
her non-physical natural gifts." She sat back up.
"Someone wanted to know if Dawn wanted to be a First Lady again," Fury
said, tossing out the paperwork. "The agent kindly told him no."
Joyce took it to look at, her laughter making all the agents on the
bridge area look at her. "She'd never go for something so
disinteresting. He couldn't keep her attention in any
manner." She put it on top of the files to go back in there.
Clint came off the elevator and turned off the baby Spanish DVD with an eye roll. "He likes those," Dawn said.
"No he doesn't. He's asleep." She looked then shrugged
some. He sat next to her head, letting her inch up to rest on his
leg. "So I heard rumors that you think our genius there hates
"He does. He doesn't like a thing that I buy him. He never
plays with the toys, he hates the food I picked out. He doesn't
like the clothes, even when Natasha tries to dress him. He hates
me. Today's he's in a cuddly mood but otherwise he usually won't
even do that."
"He doesn't hate you." He looked down at her. "I know for a
fact if he hasn't seen you in about ten hours, he'll start refusing to
eat. Even a bottle of expressed milk. That day Nat was in the tub
with him she said he refused to take anything, even water, until he saw
you." Dawn blinked up at him. "I think the toys are just
above his range. He's not a Stark and I'm not that smart."
She pinched his leg. "You are but I'm not."
"You're very bright, Clint, you just hate getting it out of books."
"Fine, whatever." She pinched him again. "That's going to get you spanked."
She looked up at him again. "You need a vacation from your bow that much?"
He grinned. "I could yeah." She huffed but cuddled his
thigh. "The clothing thing is because he hates clothes."
"Natasha manages to get him dressed."
"That's because she talks him into it. She's got that way with
guys, even tiny guys. She's talked me into a lot of things over
the years." He stroked through her hair again. "The
educational DVD's can wait a year."
"Thank you." It was a small victory but his son wasn't going to be
a nerd like Andrew. He got up to toss all of those DVD's into the
"Those are expensive," Dawn complained.
"I know. That's why they're in there." He sat down again,
letting her have his thigh for a pillow again. Philip woke up and
blinked then cooed at him. "Hey, little man." He patted him
on the head too. "Cuddle the mommy." Philip fussed until he
picked him up. "See, that's Mommy." Philip cuddled into his
shoulder and fell back asleep. "Uh-huh."
"It's a guy thing I guess," she sighed. She sat up. "I'll
start worrying if our future daughter does it." She stood
up. "Did you get that invitation?"
"No, what invitation and where are you going?"
"To make dinner?"
"You're going to be dinner." She blushed and shook her head. "Why not?"
"It'd be kinda nasty since I'm on the last day of my period?"
"Oh, that reason. Well, maybe later in the tub then." She
kissed him and went to make him something to keep his energy up.
He looked at their son. "Want to lay down?" No answer so he
got put down. He didn't even wake up. He loved
naptime. He came out to help make dinner, mostly by cuddling
Dawn while she stirred, but she snuggled back into him. "Do you
want me to do that calendar?"
She looked up at him. "That's totally up to you, dear. They
said they could keep your identity a secret. Steve handed it to
"Bucky could probably use the money." He gave her a squeeze. "You sure you're not done with your cycle yet?"
"Shoot." He nuzzled her throat. "Your mom wanted to know about the present list," he said in her ear.
"I just started on it today. He needs more clothes. He's
outgrown most of them. I'm not sure about things like an activity
center that he can walk around or not. A few were car
shaped. One was musical."
He smiled. "That'd be good." Natasha came off the elevator. "Joyce wants a present list."
"He only needs a few things. He wouldn't appreciate it this year."
"Not the point," Dawn said. "The point is to spoil him because
it's his first. The same as the tooth fairy pays more money for
the first tooth and the first day of school is so special, all
that." She looked at her. "All first things are considered
"I can understand that but we are not going overboard. He doesn't need a ton of toys."
"He won't get a ton of toys. Shirts," Dawn said dryly.
"Because he's drooling through three or four a day right now."
"More teeth," Clint joked.
"Yeah, ow," Dawn joked back, grinning at him. "He might be weaned sooner if he keeps biting."
He shrugged. "If that's what you want, we can do that and help
make sure that you dry up." He kissed her neck again, making her
shiver. "Burning it." She stirred and took the pan off the
heat. Natasha came over to take over while he took Dawn to tease
on the couch again. Getting off helped with cramps and was a great
thing for Dawn to have for dinner. Natasha rolled her eyes but
smiled at their antics, going to get Philip when he decided to be
awake. He decided to stay with her instead of Mom. Which
made Dawn pout some more that the baby actually hated her for some
Dawn sat down at her desk with Philip, staring at him since she had sat
him on the desk. "Okay, kiddo. Let's talk." He
fussed. She stared at him. "I gave birth to you, that means
you have to spend time with me, even if you do want the Daddy and other
Mommy more. Keep it up and go on the bottle full time, little
ungrateful one." She adjusted his shirt, making him whine.
She stared at him. "Really?" He pouted. She pulled him
over to cuddle, even if he did fuss. Pepper came out to stare at
them. "He so hates me."
"He doesn't. I get that from Chris and Liz sometimes too."
She took him from her and Philip beamed at her, stopping the fussy
whining he had been doing. "That's the Mommy. She gave birth
to you and she feeds you. You should appreciate her more."
She handed him back. Philip complained some more. Dawn
sighed and put him in the carrier. That helped. He didn't
fuss as much if he didn't realize it was her holding him. Pepper
patted Dawn on the shoulder. "He'll grow out of it."
"He will. They all do." She went back to her desk with the
mail Dawn held up. She looked up when the slap of a hand hitting
the emergency alarm went through the admin area. "Dawn?"
"Okay." She called Tony. "Was it biological or something else?"
"Yup. Not sure what it is but I'm going to beat whoever didn't
scan the mail this time." Security teams came off the
elevator. Dawn held up the envelope full of powder. They
nodded and called the infirmary to come get her and the baby, which made
them wince. "He'll be fine, but I'm going to kill one of you,"
Dawn assured them. "We didn't need this today." They got her
into a quarantine bubble and down to the infirmary. This was not
good but the scan of the powder was even worse.
Tony came rushing in with Clint and Natasha behind him, wincing at the
baby on the second bed, fussing his butt off because he was alone.
"Guys, can we get near the baby?"
"No," the nurse said. "Not without a lot of decontam gear and it frightened him."
"I can take getting sick," Clint said.
"Still no, sorry." The nurse looked at the baby, then at the
parents. "We're putting him into a baby incubator style bed
soon. It'll have waldo gloves so you can touch him, Agent
Barton. Right now, worry more about Mom, okay? She inhaled
it directly, he only got exposure through the carrier and her
shirt." He nodded he was. The doctors came out after calling
someone. They pulled Clint and Natasha into the office to talk
about things. Tony could put on a suit for the moment and pat the
baby to calm him down.
Dawn woke up from being sedated, finding someone staring at her.
Not who she'd expect. "How's my son?" she asked, sitting up with a
"He's fine," Fury said. "You're not."
"I noticed the bubble was still up and that this is Malibu's center instead." She stared at him. "Who?"
"No idea yet. We're still searching." Dawn nodded
once. "The kid's fine. Natasha has his fussy self
upstairs. Barton's in the range blowing off steam."
"Okay, so why are you here?" she asked.
"I need a statement."
"Can't you get the security footage?"
"I have, we still need a statement."
"All I did was open the mail. Then threaten the lives of whichever
guard didn't scan things. The sensor in the mail room should've
hit on that much of anything that wasn't paper to have it scanned."
"They said it's broken."
"Uh-huh. It wasn't broken last week," Dawn said.
"It blew a fuse, Summers. You're a bit paranoid."
"You are," he agreed. He got out of Clint's way. "We still need a statement, Barton."
"She's alive and going to watch while we happily kill someone, sir. Need more of one?"
"Fine." He walked off to put that into the file. Summers was generally paranoid for a reason.
Clint sat next to the bubble. "You'll be dried up by the time you get out of there."
"I'm getting out of here?"
"Yeah. You got a really light case, Dawn." She relaxed and
nodded. He grinned slightly. "Philip will *not* quit
screaming no matter what we do."
"He misses me?"
"He does. He won't settle down for a bath, he doesn't want to
eat. They were about ready to put in a feeding tube until Joyce
showed up and took him over for a few hours. That barely helped,
and Callia. And the cat. We've tried
*everything*." She smiled. "So apparently he's fussing
just to be fussing at you so you talk to him more or whatever."
He shrugged. "It's not going great but we're upstairs in a
visitors suite." She nodded. "You've got at least another
week in here."
She looked. "No IV?"
"You yanked it out earlier on them. They'll give you pills now
that you're awake and can swallow. The first two days they had you
sedated? You didn't swallow." She slid back down, flipping
onto her side to face him. He grinned. "It'll work. I
promise it will. Stark's gone icy cold and clinical. Steve
too. Even Callia has. She reprogrammed a few of the attack
Roombas to attack whoever did this." He patted the bubble, letting
her touch the other side. "Few more days, princess."
"I can handle that. Visit a lot?"
"I can do that." He grinned. "We got you the cheapy e-reader
so you have something to read in there since you'll be destroying it
She nodded. "That figures." She looked at her hands. "My ring?"
"Been professionally cleaned. Necklace too. We took
off the storage cabinet on it and we're letting the people at the gear
shop clean it for you." She nodded, relaxing and yawning.
"You rest." She nodded, falling asleep again. He leaned
back, watching her sleep. He hated lying to her but she was in
such bad health that she didn't need to know that. Natasha brought
in Philip, who was crying again. He took him and pointed.
"Look, Mommy's taking a nap." He whined and reached for her.
"If I could, I'd bring us both in there, kiddo. For now, all we
can do is watch." He took the bottle and held it up.
"Baba?" He turned his head and fussed some more. "You need
to eat or we need to drop a feeding tube." He got onto the floor
with his back against the bubble so Philip could stare up at Dawn while
he ate. That seemed to help. At least he ate.
Natasha took the chair to take her turn watching over them. This was not a good time in their lives.
Dawn woke up again and blinked. It was awfully bright. She
groaned and pushed at the light magically, sending it flying. "Ow,
The nurse looked over at her. "I take it you're awake?"
"Were you trying to blind me?"
"It was a sun lamp so you got some vitamin D. You were low again."
Dawn shrugged. "I don't get much playing in the sun time these days. Am I out of quarantine?"
"Where's my son?"
"Finally asleep. Let him."
She sighed but nodded. "The spouses with him?" The nurse nodded. "What did I have?"
"Smallpox." Dawn stared at her. "This is now week three of
you being sick." She stared back. "You're damn lucky."
"Okay, when was it that Fury was here with Clint?"
"That was a few days ago. We resedated you because your fever went
up again. Thankfully you're no longer able to pass it on."
She took her temperature. "Not bad." She made notes of that
and the machines around her. Then she looked at her again.
"They'll be down soon. It's the middle of the night. Sleep."
"I need stuff to do."
"No, you don't. You need to rest. Before I hit you with
another sedative." Dawn grumbled but laid back down and got
comfortable. She wasn't asleep but she wasn't being fussy or
active. Though she did have to scowl at the mirror being floated
over. "You won't scar. We made sure of it."
"Thanks. Except for that huge sore on my chest?"
"Yes, probably. Maybe one on your hip." Dawn nodded and let
that go. She could cover them. The mirror got put back and
she yawned but stayed awake. She checked her bonds, they were
napping. She heard Phil and Xander's voice in her head and thought
at them, and they gave her updates on how she really was, where she
was, and how things were going. She yawned again but said it was
nice of them and she'd see them soon. They promised it'd be
tomorrow if the nurse let her stay awake. Dawn said to make sure
she stayed awake, even if she was dying. They agreed and they
promised they'd tell Clint in the morning. Dawn drifted into some
meditation. She wasn't really tired, just physically muscle tired.
The nurse huffed but the doctor came in so she couldn't sedate her again. "She's been awake."
"Good! We wanted her awake a few days ago!" Doctor Pigalli said dryly.
"Then quit sedating me," Dawn said.
"I haven't." Dawn pointed at the nurse. "You have been?"
"She needed to rest. She wasn't resting."
"So? We needed her awake."
"No more sedatives, even if I'm fucking dying," Dawn ordered quietly. "I'd rather die awake, thanks."
The nurse huffed off. "That's not good procedure."
Dawn looked at her. "Yay. Patient's wishes, dear." She
looked at her favorite doctor, who smirked back. "Philip?"
"Was not affected, only had a tiny fever from cutting teeth. He's
fine, if cranky." Dawn nodded. "Your milk has dried
up. We gave you the shot to help make sure." Dawn nodded
once. "No restarting it. You'll have medicines for the next
few months that he shouldn't get."
"Will it affect them?"
"No. Just some strong antibiotics." Dawn nodded. "It's four."
"Though the baby's probably awake. I'll send someone upstairs to
slide a note in." She sent one of the guards to do that.
They had all been really worried about Dawn. The ones in New York
were less worried about Dawn but Steve had a talk with them about how
fuses got blown and not repaired. Because even the medical staff
had decided that was suspicious.
Clint looked over when the note went under the door, then down at Nat,
who he had been fooling around with to relieve both their stress.
He got up to get it and nodded. "She's awake."
"Excellent." She sat up. "We should go down there."
"We can do that." He looked at Philip, who was awake and
scowling. "Son, you look like Chris. Are you sure you're not
a Stark?" He picked him up, changed him, then took him down
there. Dawn was awake. They had blocked off the bond so she
couldn't hear anything bad from them. He climbed up next to her
with the baby, letting him rest on her stomach. She smiled and
patted him on the back. He finally quit fussing and fell
asleep. "Thank you." He kissed her.
"It says you're asleep."
"Dawn, you nearly died three times before they got you back here," he
said honestly then sighed. "We decided not to stress you
out. That way you wouldn't have to hear us worrying on top of the
bad fever dreams you had."
"Oh." She nodded. "Then why does it still feel like you're
asleep?" They smiled and let the blocking go, making her
relax. "Nat, I can shift over."
"No you can't. They can take turns on your free side," Dr. Pigalli said from the desk.
"Okay. Change in an hour?" she offered with a grin.
Natasha sat down on that side. "This will work for now." She
held her hand across Clint's body. That let Clint cuddle her and
The nurse came in and scowled. "The baby should not be with
her. She's still sick! And you should not be on the
bed. Move, now. Or I'm having you thrown out." Clint
pulled his gun and pointed it at her. "What are you doing?" she
squeaked. "You can't do that! I'll have you thrown out of
the complex!" She hurried off. Clint put back the gun and
grinned, kissing Dawn on the head. She came back with
security. "Him! I want him gone! He threatened me!"
"Agent Barton, please don't shoot the nurse," the guard said, staring at
them. "Even if she is a bit huffy, she's good at what she does."
"Then next time she probably shouldn't start making demands."
"Probably true," Doctor Pigalli said, handing the nurse a book.
"The protocol for having those three in here due to injuries. If
we were at home, they have an expanded bed." She looked at
them. "No weapons on the hospital bed unless they're concealed and
can't get in the way."
"Philip was helping me clean it earlier," Clint said with a grin. "Take a nap, Doc. You sound exhausted."
"When can we take her back to the one in New York?" Natasha asked.
"Few more days. Then she'll have a few days there before she can
go home." They nodded. She looked at the sulking
nurse. "Yes, they're allowed on the bed on her free side.
Yes, the baby's allowed on the bed with them because he's been crying
non-stop for the last three weeks because he missed his mom. Read
the protocol, and thank you, security team." She smirked and they
left with a wave at Dawn, who waved back. "We need these
guys in New York." Dawn nodded, yawning again. She fell
asleep on Clint's shoulder.
Natasha smiled and got comfortable. "I can wait until she wakes," she said quietly.
Clint grinned. "Thanks, Nat."
"We will hover to protect her and the baby." Philip cooed in his
sleep and they smiled. It was nice he wasn't fussing.
Dawn was finally allowed out of the bed long enough to shower, going to
do that. She found her hair had been trimmed and glared. "Is
there a reason why someone did a hack job on my hair?" she bellowed.
"They did?" Doc asked, coming into the bathroom. "Oooh, they
did. We've had it up under a cap to keep it off your skin."
She glared out there. Dawn huffed. "You can get it styled in
a few days, Dawn. It won't take that long to grow out." She
nodded, going into the shower. "Hold it." She looked at a
sore on her back. "That might infect."
"Can we put stuff on it to help heal it? Or would a healing spell help?"
"You're too weak to do a healing spell and we have some great stuff to
put on them." She went to get it. Dawn took a fast shower
and came out, letting her put on the cream for her. The last few
sores all got some. Dawn looked at them and grimaced. They'd
probably scar and Dawn hated scars. "You can have them bleached
out." Dawn shook her head and did a healing spell, getting smacked
on the head for it. But they had all healed. Even the one
between her toes. Dawn was shaky and got helped back to bed.
Thankfully, Natasha was turning it down after changing the
sheets. "She healed all the sores."
"I felt." She helped tuck her in. "Clint's getting you some juice and dinner."
Dawn smiled. "They cut my hair."
"I can see that. Whoever did it obviously just gathered it and cut
it." She smoothed it back. "We'll handle it." Clint
came in with the baby and a tray. "That was fast."
"I ran into one of the geeks who asked how she was. I asked how to
get to the caf the fastest, easiest way. There's tunnels, Nat."
"I heard." She smiled and took the tray so Dawn could eat.
She got to curl up with Dawn, getting snuggled into while she inhaled
her dinner. Then Philip got handed over since he was
fussing. And he still fussed. "She's the one you wanted for
the last few weeks."
"I don't smell like myself," she said, patting him on the back.
"Calm down." He still fussed. "Doc, is there a way to see if
he's having sensory problems?"
"I can try." She took him, which made Philip flinch and stare at
her like he was horrified. She smiled. "I know but
yay." She took him into the exam area with Clint to see
things. "He can hear, he's just not listening." He followed
her finger like he should at his age. The sniff test came back
"Could be. He's been hyper fussy about things," Clint said.
"We can check." She got a nasal sucker and tried to get some out. "No snot."
"So... sinus pressure?"
"Probably." She gave him something for that, making Philip grimace
and lick his lips to get the nastiness out. "Sorry, kiddo."
She checked the other ones. "He's got slow reflexes in that right
"We've noticed," Clint said. "It hasn't stopped him any."
"Okay." She handed him back. "Have fun with Mr.
Fussy." He grinned and walked Philip back out to Mom. She
made notes in Philip's file on the computer system and sat down to watch
over the few people in there. Someone had gotten burned earlier
by some overheating acid they should've paid more attention to.
The nurse was nagging him about being more careful.
Clint looked over at her saying Dawn had the same sort of stupid things
going on. "Um, no. She's Pepper's and Tony's assistant, not a
scientist. She got it sent to her desk. It wasn't a lab
accident." He looked at the guy. "Reading smut?" He
nodded with a grimace. "It happens. Email Tara, see if her
healing syrup can help with those." He pulled over his phone to
find her email. It was in the directory. Tony looked at the
huffy nurse. "Dawn had it sent to her desk up in the admin
area. That's why she and the baby got exposed. Beyond that,
accidents happen sometimes. Even Stark's had accidents. Nag
less. People run from those who nag."
"Even me," Dawn agreed. "If it's after nine on the east coast,
it'll be tomorrow. The twins are in bed so she's cleaning the
"That's fine. I can wait a day," he complained. "I thought
my lab partner was watching it but it turned out he was out to
lunch." Dawn grinned. "You'll be fine and whoever sent you
the smallpox deserves to be shot repeatedly, then killed."
"Don't tempt us," Clint said with a grin.
He smirked back. "I'm sure you can make them really miserable, Agent Barton."
Dawn looked up at them. "If they move back here, I might need to find us a place to live."
"Stark's said a few times he hates New York at the moment. Mostly
because it's getting cold and stuff." He smoothed over her
hair. "Who did that?" Dawn shrugged but pointed at the
nurse. He glared at her. "Why did you chop her hair that
"To help with the fever!"
"I'll get that hair growing charm from that one Xander," she said, then
snuggled into Natasha again. Philip blinked up at her, patting her
on the hand. She smiled and kissed his fingers back. He
giggled and smiled, waving at the guys walking in. Dawn looked
over. "Hey, Happy, Tony."
Tony leaned on the footboard. "Someone did a number on your
hair." Dawn pointed at the nurse, who stomped off. He looked
at Doc, who shook her head. "Deal with that," he muttered,
knowing she could read lips. She nodded she would. He looked
at her again. "You're on medical leave for three weeks.
That way you have time to regain strength. The twins showed up for
a few hours with their sister and step-siblings. Callia
spent it all babbling about you." She smiled, letting the baby
play with her fingers. "Beyond that," he said, straightening
up. "Pepper and I are thinking about snowbirding this winter."
"That's not going to bother me but we have to find a place out here. I gave up my hidey hole."
"We can do that," Tony promised, smiling at her. "You need one anyway. Do you have one in North Dakota?"
"Yeah, about twenty miles away from yours, where we had hidden." She smiled.
"You bought the farmhouse?" Clint guessed. She smiled and
nodded. "That's cool." He kissed her on the head. "Good
hunting, nice yard. We have to fix the whole 'no heat in the
bedroom' thing and find a room for him."
"I had a second story put on with two kid rooms, another two bathrooms
so they don't have to share, and a playroom. Your nesting place is
just higher up now and still over the living room. The rooms are
only over the kitchen and the back area." Clint smiled at her for
that. "I was going to put up a Tackleberry yard."
"When they're older, they can have one," Clint promised. He
grinned at Tony. "How long are you guys out here for? We'll
have to put in paperwork."
"Probably until April."
"It's barely starting into October. We can find somewhere,"
Natasha said. She looked at Dawn. "Tara has the cat."
"I figured she or Callia did."
"I've got to have all hers moved," Tony complained. "I forgot about that."
"Private plane, boss. We can lock them in the bedroom with their
litterboxes and things," Happy said. He smiled at Dawn. "I'm
damn glad you're better."
He patted her on the foot. "We can have someone out there pack the clothes and stuff for the move."
"They'd have to be careful of a few things, like the weapons cabinet,"
Dawn said. "We can arrange it this week, Happy." He
nodded. She grinned. "That way we can sneak things out from
under SHIELD's watch."
Tony snickered. "If you do I want to know how." He patted
her foot too. "So... few days back there to arrange things?
Then back here?"
Dawn nodded. "I can do that. Phone?" He handed his
over. She dialed Faith's number by rote. "Faith, Dawn.
Yes, I'm still alive. I'm even awake. Can you have Gunn
find us a place to squat out here? Thanks. No, few weeks at
the most. The bosses are moving back here. At least three
bedrooms, four if possible so they have work areas. Yeah, that'd
be good. Thanks." She hung up and tossed the phone
back. "Gunn will look."
"He has decent lower level taste," Tony said. He smirked. "Nothing too fancy."
She snorted and waved a hand. "This means I get to buy a few new
bikinis for beach time, right?" He walked off laughing.
Happy winked and followed. She looked at Natasha. "We would,
"We would," she agreed. "I'll ask around as well." She
kissed her on the forehead. "Thankfully the insurance covers most
everything in here." Dawn nodded, squeezing the baby. He
shifted and pooped for her. "Clint?"
"I know, it's my turn." He got up with a groan to grab him and
take him to change. "I've gotta remember not to bet against you,
She smiled. "We bet for the next dirty diaper." Dawn laughed and squeezed her for being so devious.
Dawn was on her last day in bed and she was not happy. She was
exceedingly unhappy because she couldn't be beamed back and there had
been an attempted attack last night in the compound by a demon, which
took magic to beat. So not only was she exhausted but the demon
had clawed her pretty well. Which meant she had to go through the
airport and flight tomorrow with an open wound. They'd have to go
to a specialist to get the slime cleaned out and the wound closed.
Thankfully the plastic surgeon she had went to before could do it for
her. Though she was having a lot of bad thoughts about the TSA
people. They seriously tried to piss her off each and every time
she had to fly commercial and she could see them trying to make her take
off the sterile dressing to prove it was an injury. Which would
Maybe it wasn't too late to charter a flight?
Clint walked in and stared at her. "They're not that stupid, Dawn."
"Yes they are. They had some elderly lady take off her adult
diaper to prove it was one. They had a cancer patient take off her
sterile dressings in the middle of the airport and wouldn't even let
her have any privacy."
He blinked. "Okay, that's bad." She proved it by finding the
article on her phone. He grimaced. "Private?"
"I can stretch out. Not have to sit up the whole time."
"How about we fly him in?" Tony asked from the doorway. "Because we did."
Dawn smiled. "Love you too, boss."
"Welcome. I needed him to look at the other injuries we had too. Steve is not happy."
"Maybe the new body armor stuff will cure that."
"Maybe." He got out of the way. "The rest are in the other
ward." He walked off. "Barton, Fury's here with his army of
lawyers over the suits."
"Fine." He kissed Dawn then grinned. "Let me go handle that."
"You can bring Nat. She's missing mean time."
"I can," he agreed. "The sprout loves her being mean." He
shook hands with the doctor. "Thanks." He left them to
talk. Dawn's injury made even him wince.
The doctor looked at her. "Why are you out here?"
"They moved me back here when someone thoughtfully decided to send smallpox to my desk."
"Interesting." She nodded. "Let's see this wound."
Dawn shifted and winced, letting him peel off the bandages once he had
on gloves. "That's not that hard but I know the slime residue is a
pain." He looked at her. "Healing spells?"
"Once you get the insides stitched, the skin's being healed."
"I can agree with that. I remember how you felt about
scars." He looked over. Dr. Pigalli was staring at
them. "Let's take her in to clean this mess up." She nodded,
taking them into the surgical suite and getting the stuff he said he'd
need to clean up the residue of the slime. It wasn't going to take
long. It was going to take longer to stitch her muscle groups
back together. Then he'd have to do the same for the other ten
people who had taken on the demon to give her time to get up there.
Dawn looked up, sending a prayer at Xander for that hair growing
spell. She was not going to have a chin-length bob, she looked
dorky in them. A paper floated down a minute later and she
smiled. That would help. She did the spell, which made her
hair grow very long. "Okay, so now we have it trimmed." She
got up off the bed, gripping it a bit because she was still tired and
"Remember, nothing too strenuous, Dawn. No sitting if it hurts, nothing like situps."
"Sex?" she asked with a grin.
"As long as you don't have to use those stomach muscles, sure."
"Well, we've played with bondage before," she said dryly, cracking Doc up.
"Have them use hand and foot restraints but keep your middle loose," she
said with a grin. "And be gentle for the next few weeks. It
should take a few for those stitches to fully be absorbed."
"Yup." She carefully picked up her phone, all she had down here,
and put on the robe that had been left for her. She signed the
forms and went up to the guest quarters slowly, wandering that way but
stopping every now and then to rest. She finally made it and one
had a glowing dot over it thanks to JARVIS. She walked in and shut
the door, smiling at her mates. "I'm free!"
"I can see that. We would've come got you," Clint said, stroking over Natasha's bare stomach.
"I'm good." She walked over and took kisses. "I'm not
allowed to do anything that would make me use those muscles. Doc
said you'd have to tie me down so I couldn't bend."
He grinned. "I can definitely do that." He gave her a kiss,
then she gave one to Natasha, who was languidly relaxed and happy.
"Let's shower. Nat?"
"I can help." They glanced at the sleeping baby in the front room
then went in to take a shower together. "Why is your hair suddenly
"Hair growing charm."
"Wonderful." It was a lot of washing and then conditioner but it
did give her extra playing time. By the time they were done
playing, Dawn was shaking again so they tucked them all in and cuddled
in. They could have sex to make sure she was all right
later. Clint got up to get the baby, bringing him back. He
wouldn't care if they were naked at the moment. He just wanted to
cuddle. Natasha gave him a pointed look. "In native areas,
the whole family shares one bed and they're mostly naked, plus they
manage to have kids with them in there. He's not even a year old,
Nat. He can cuddle our shoulders. Not like he hasn't seen
breasts." She sighed but let him cuddle them. He wanted
Clint this time so Clint got him and the ladies cuddled around him to
play with the fussy thing. Dawn fell asleep but that was fine too.
The head of Stark Legal smiled at Fury's lawyers and him when they came
in. "You dirty little jackass, Fury. You tried to slide in
something lowball while her spouses were distracted with her getting
sick." He winced. "Dawn still hasn't found out yet and that
lowball ten mil offer?" She snorted and waved a hand. "I can
tell her if you want."
"You probably should."
She called her. "Dawn, busy?"
"Nope, not for three weeks. Just trying to decide if we're doing a
house or a condo out here," she said from the speaker. "Oops,
maybe I am. Philip, why are you puking." She clearly picked
him up because the sound of vomiting came through.
The SHIELD lawyers all looked sick so she took it off speaker.
"Let me know when you can hear their interesting offer." She
listened. "Ten total." Even without the speaker they heard
the laughter. Fury was groaning and rubbing over his eye
patch. "Sure, I can do that. JARVIS, do you have the full
list of the incidences in question?"
"I do," the AI said. "It's printing in your office."
"Thank you." She put the phone on her shoulder, looking at Fury. "Ten each incident."
"That's a hundred million," he said.
"No, Director, those ten counts were categories, not individual
incidences, and she should charge for the one she just went through
since the Feds finally arrested them according to her." Fury
looked at his phone, sending a text to someone. He got back one
and nodded. "Related?" she asked with perky cheer.
"Definitely." He put his phone up with a sigh. "I don't have
that sort of room in my budget and the insurance people are going to
slam us. Can we try for reasonable?"
She stared at him and slowly smiled. "Dawn was feeling
reasonable. Especially since this last one nearly killed her and
her son. Not to mention all those times that they tried to kidnap
her and/or her son, or tried to blow up her and/or her son, or shoot her
and/or her son. Dawn isn't an agent and that's not an acceptable
risk in her life."
"Most mothers wouldn't consider it so, but she can't really change the parameters."
"You clearly did not read the full suit, just the summary," she said
with a smile. She pulled up the full filing for them to read on a
virtual screen. Fury went pale. Her assistant brought in the
printed forms. "Thank you, Dara." She nodded and
left. She put the stack on the table. "Built like a D&D
sheet, gentlemen." They looked at the very thick stack and Fury
suddenly got a sudden, sharp pain in both his chest and his
wallet. She smiled. "I'll be generous. Five each
incident or it goes back up to at least ten tomorrow. Because the
safety and health of her son is priceless." She stared at Fury.
"How many are there?"
"I didn't count. You can if you wish." He slumped, taking it
to look over. He could challenge a few of them but most....they
had happened because SHIELD had let out her identity. They hadn't
wanted Dawn as hard before that. The few he wanted to challenge he
put aside as he counted them. His agency's insurer was going to
throw fits about this. "I need to talk to them. Leave that
offer on the table for the rest of the week?" She asked Dawn and
then nodded, hanging up. "Thank you."
He left, going to talk to his people. That night, they came back
to redo some of the settlement. They would not directly imply that
they had been the cause of it, that SHIELD's hacked databases and
information files had been the cause. That let them off the hook
with the insurance people. The rest... The agent had cheered
that they were going for a lowball like that so they had expected it to
be *huge*. Fury needed to hire some insurance people because they
were totally ruthless. He had agents he had considered borderline
psychotic that weren't as hard as these guys.
He had to put down his foot at the idea of them messing Dawn up with the
paperwork. This last time had been way too close to her death and
they did not want that. Especially since it meant they had no one
on call for magical emergencies, which was all the insurance people
understood of why he didn't want her or Philip dead. Maybe
humanity wasn't worth saving sometimes. Or maybe it was just
Dawn walked into their guest suite and looked at her spouses after a
visit with her financial guy at the bank to see where things
stood. Which reminded her, she had to pick a new investments
guy. Happy had insisted he could drive her since Tony wasn't doing
anything. She loved the 'family' at Stark. "Okay," she
said, putting forms on the table. "This is my current net worth
and our budget. It will be changing next month because two
payments will be done with."
Clint looked at them. "We took out a mortgage?"
"To build a credit history. He suggested I should. As of
next month, that will be paid off fully." He grinned at her.
She smiled back. "We have to decide about housing things.
Renting versus buying something out here. Also high rise versus
"It could be our training but owning a house leaves a huge papertrail," Clint said, looking at Natasha, who nodded it did.
"There's every chance we'll be bouncing back and forth to the various
offices," Dawn said. "We can rent one long term but we'll have to
have some specific insurance added on that would usually be within the
"Insurance?" Natasha asked.
"Natural disaster, for things like earthquakes, renter's insurance for
break-ins, flood insurance. We'd also have to get permission to
install a security system with a house we rent."
"What about a condo?" Clint offered. "We're used to crappy apartments."
Dawn looked at him then pointed at the baby. "Are you going to
take him to the park all the time to play outside? If so then we
can do that."
"Hm," Clint said, staring at the napping baby. Then at her. "That's a point to consider."
"How far from the office are we looking?" Natasha asked.
"Twenty-five miles at the most. That can turn into a three hour
commute depending on which road you're stuck on but if it's not on the
major roadways that'll cut that down."
Natasha nodded. "That could conceivably lead to Beverly Hills."
"Nope," Clint vetoed. "I'm not a yuppie. Not Bel Air either."
"The problem really is how expensive things are in that area," Natasha said.
Dawn nodded. "They are. I went through Yahoo's real estate
search as a casual tool. If I lower it to 15 miles around Malibu,
then there's just over 1400 listings." Clint moaned, shaking his
head. "I actually found one that was only 319 thousand," she said
"Seriously?" Clint said.
"It hadn't been updated in over fifteen years by the wallpaper," Dawn said.
Natasha patted him on the arm. "We are in one of the few areas in
the country where a house like you grew up in would be close or over a
million dollars." He stared at her then at Dawn, who pulled up her
earlier search pages.
Dawn pointed. "I like the looks of this one's outside, with the
gate. I think we need a fence for security purposes, and a
"Why four bedrooms?" Clint asked.
"I should put it higher for when at least one of the twins comes back
and Sean," she said. "But work areas, bedroom for us, bedroom for
Philip. Six bedrooms drives the costs up tons though."
"Out here, only mansions have more than three bedrooms usually," Natasha
agreed. Clint looked at them again. Dawn nodded.
"North Dakota is often cheaper," she said with a smile.
"It's like New York real estate, Clint. Each additional bedroom
adds on at least a hundred thousand, if not more, and so do
bathrooms. A lawn is even beyond that."
He stared at them. "Condo?"
"Sure," she agreed, modifying the search. He stared then shuddered
as he walked off. "We're going through a realtor so they'd have
more options but I'm paying for it."
"We can pay for it," Clint promised. He got them bottles of water
and came back. Philip fussed but flipped over and went back to
sleep. "Or at least part of it."
"Fifteen miles around the center is better," Natasha said. "Malibu
itself is one of the most expensive zip codes and a bit
exclusionist." She opened and sipped her water, glancing at their
son. He was yawning but not awake yet.
"At that fifteen mile limit are places that are under a million," Dawn
said. She looked at Clint. "I'm casually surfing to find
things I like. I want a kitchen of some sort that works.
Doesn't have to be totally upgraded to stainless steel. We need at
least four bedrooms, if not more. We need at least two bathrooms,
if not more." He nodded that was true. "If we're going for a
house we need a fenced in yard. We need a garage at the very
least. If we only get two cars and I find a three-car garage you
guys can have that for work space."
"Why two cars?" Natasha asked.
"We can't share one. It'd become a logistical nightmare," Dawn
said with a smile. "We need at least one for errands. If I
have to I can hire a driver again to get back and forth to work.
Doc said she doesn't want me driving for probably a month so that means
you guys having to get up to take my ass to work." They smiled at
"So, two to three," Clint said. "Though we can have the Lotus
brought out." She smiled and nodded. "Yard for the kid to
crawl around on. I hate mowing so someone else gets it this time."
"Yard service," Dawn quipped.
"Yuppie ideas," Clint countered.
Dawn smiled at him. "You hate mowing and they're cheap out here."
"Fine. I can agree to that expense but not a pool boy if we end up with one."
"Out here, the smaller homes it's usually a pool or a yard," she said.
He looked through the first few pages. "None of these really look
like a home a Barton lives in," he said. "They look like the rich
kids' in town's homes."
"They can be but we don't want something run down," Dawn said. "Or that we need to upgrade so we can use it."
"No, I don't. Eeww, manicured bushes," he muttered. She
patted his wrist. He looked at her. "I don't want some grand
estate. If you have to pay two mil," he started.
"Then you usually get a yard," Natasha put in. Clint
slumped. "We can go for a condo. Perhaps even on the beach."
"We can do that," Clint agreed, looking at Dawn, who shrugged. "You're going to leave it up to us?"
"Within reason. We have to think about the twins and Sean coming
back out with us, or future kids. If it was just us, there's a
killer condo I've drooled over a few times about ten miles from the
Clint grimaced. "Single bedroom?"
"Great views, on the beach," she said with a grin. "Adults only
building." He grinned back. "But..." She pointed at
"Good point." He went back to searching. He had noticed the
ones Dawn has pulled out to put into separate tabs to look over.
Most had some sort of fence, even if it was more decorative. They
could upgrade that easily. Most had a good yard. "Why does
this one look like it's built into the ground?"
Dawn smiled. "It's a nice looking house. Has a great yard,
old trees for him to climb. It's a single story house."
He nodded. "Okay."
"There is a hobbit house," Dawn said with a grin. "It's a
beautiful house. The house is mostly built into the hill's top and
the back doors lead to the back yard and stepped pool system."
"It's for sale but it's outrageously expensive and outside your stated area," JARVIS said.
"I know. Which sucks. I like that house."
Clint shook his head. "I'm too tall to be a Hobbit, Dawn."
She pulled up pictures of that house, showing him. "It's cute, but
cutesy. The kid would grow up warped and might turn into a mime
or something." He closed out a few more. "Okay, of your ones
pulled out for consideration, I left the two castley looking ones, that
really expensive one with all the old trees, and the one that's a bit
further away." He looked at her.
"You do call her a princess," Natasha said with a smile. She took
the computer to look at those four. "Let's remove the older
castle." She looked at the other ones. "Is this the
one with the old trees?" Clint nodded. "It's outrageously
Dawn reopened it when she closed it. "It's perfect for what we
need, has a real lawn and a pool, has privacy. We can put up a
swingset for him. It's a single story."
"It's highly expensive."
"Yeah but that's real estate in southern Cali, Nat."
"I know." She grimaced. "I would have to see it." She
read the description and sighed. It did sound nice. "We
don't need the adjoining lot, right?"
"Not unless we're getting a horse," Dawn said dryly.
"I don't think so," Clint said. "A cat is enough." She
nodded. "You can take lessons for the next agent olympics."
"Hell no. I'm not going to be in any shape by then." She
pushed her hair back. "What about that spell? We have to be
out there to do it."
"I've been emailed by Wade twice," Natasha said. "The first time I
told him you were quite ill. The second time I told him why and
he sent back to tell him when you got better so he could stalk you
again. I've since told him we have to move out here for a few
months due to your job." She stared at her. "He said he'd
tell the others, who probably realized you were ill with the way the
coverage of the stomping around happened."
"There was coverage?" she asked with a wince.
"Blood hunters aren't going to come like they are for Xander. They
can't make a new strain," Clint said. Dawn relaxed and
smiled. "So, the last few houses are in Pacific Palisades or
Hidden Hills." She nodded. "Yours is just up the coat to
Malibu. So's the castle. The other one is across a busy
highway by the included map; I'm not sure if it's an overpass or
something like that." Dawn shrugged, she hadn't been out
there. "Though, the castle's a bit odd looking."
"I thought it looked interesting."
"Let's eliminate the one above the highway we'd have to somehow cross,"
Natasha said. "That can lead to morning traffic jams and it looks
Someone knocked then Tony and Pepper walked in together. "Hey,
kids, it's the landlord," Tony joked. He looked at the things
pulled up, nodding. "I like the one in the Pallisades but it's
going to be a commute."
"It's within fifteen miles and there should be backroads," Dawn said, switching it. "I liked that one."
"I know someone who lives out there. Most days for them it's about
a half hour," Tony agreed. He grinned. "Renting, owning?"
"Open to it," Dawn said.
"Good." He patted her on the head. "Gloria's here from
Legal." Dawn started to get up but Tony pushed her back
down. "No, you sit. You have stitches." He had her
brought down. "We were making sure you weren't in the middle of
sex or something important." He grinned.
"Not yet," Clint said. "We're going to get dinner from the caf in a
bit then have sex." Gloria tapped then was let in by
"Clint, Natasha, Dawn," she said, with a hug for her. "From
Andrew's wife. Caroline's missing her Philip time." Dawn
grinned. "This is the settlement we've reached." Dawn looked
it over frowning at something. She looked and nodded. "We
had to leave that in there. Fury demanded."
"He wants first right if our kids want to become agents," Dawn said, looking at them.
"Yeah, we can handle that. As long as they're not made to be
agents," Clint said. "If so, I'll teach the kid how to fake asthma
if he doesn't want to." She let him see it. "I know nothing
about legal language, Dawn." Natasha took it to decipher.
Gloria settled in at the table to go over what each thing meant.
They agreed and Dawn signed it. Tony and Pepper signed as
witnesses. "When do we have to deal with that?"
"Next week. He said he expects to see you both by next week."
"We'll be going back to get the clothes and stuff," Clint said.
"And the cat," Natasha said. Dawn smiled.
"You guys know you can live here," Tony said. "That way she's safer."
"It'll take a month to close on the house if we buy it," Dawn said.
"Good point." He patted her on the back and they left with Gloria.
Dawn looked at Clint. "You were going to feed me? Really?" she asked with a grin. "Like real food?"
"As long as it won't make you work your stomach muscles too much," he
teased back. She leaned over to kiss him. "Lap, Dawn, that
way you don't have to bend."
"That will give me urges that I'd have to ignore because of my stomach."
He pulled her over, noticing she was thinner again. "No you
won't. I'm fantastic and Nat can hold you down while I make you
wiggle." He kissed her. She moaned into it. "Missed
you too, princess." She slid down his lap and onto her knees,
making him moan. "I was going to do that to you later, after a
long bath," he said, spreading out for her.
"She and I can have a bath while you get dinner," Dawn said, unzipping
his pants. He groaned but let her do whatever she wanted. He
was just happy she was around to tease him. Anything else was a
bonus right now. Especially since she was so good at sucking him.
Natasha smiled, watching them play. "I will get us dinner then she
and I will play in the tub," she said. She walked off
happier. Dawn was definitely feeling perky due to her
painkillers. It was good to have her back.
Philip fussed some. "Son, I'm getting your mom's best gift ever,
so you're going to have to wait for five minutes," he moaned.
Philip fussed more. "Son, c'mon."
"Philip, Daddy's getting some Mommy time. You can have Mommy time
in a minute," Dawn said, hurrying him up. No one could have a
great orgasm with their kid fussing. Clint came with a moan,
gripping the table instead of her head. Dawn smiled up at him as
she licked him clean then tucked him back into his clothes.
"That was great Mommy time," Clint said, pulling her up to kiss
her. Philip whined so they grabbed him to put between them while
they kissed. He liked that, it gave him both parents. Though
he would fuss until his other mommy got back.
Pepper looked at her son a few days later. He had one of the mini
farm animals from his play set and was saying 'frog hump' as he hopped
it around. "Chris, honey, frogs *hop*, not hump."
He grinned at her. "Frog hump hump." He bounced it around a few times.
She got down next to him. "No, see, it's hop hop. Frogs hop. Though that's a pig but still, frogs hop, dear."
"Frog hump hump."
"Dawn, why is my son insisting that frogs hump?" she called. Dawn
had watched him earlier and frogs hadn't humped before then so it had to
have come from her assistant.
Dawn leaned in from her desk. She was only pretending to be back
to check her email. "Because someone tried to take Philip from me
and hand him to someone else while complaining I'm probably
contagious. The evolutionary dead ends are idiot frog humpers."
Pepper sighed. She had thought it was something like that. "JARVIS?"
The film got pulled up and she got to watch as Dawn took her son back
from the chemist. "Are your idiot species named Frog
Humpers? Because I'm pretty sure that's as close to homo sapiens
as you'll ever get! You evolutionary dead end, you don't take my
kids from me, especially not to hand to someone the fuck
else!" Callia clapped at that. "You, no," Dawn
said. "They'll beat you if you have to name a new species of
idiots." The chemist huffed off. The one who had been handed
Philip was backed in a corner. "What did you think you were doing
touching my son without my permission?"
"You were sick!"
"I know that," she snapped. "That doesn't mean you need to touch my son!"
"You could be contagious!"
"Smallpox isn't transmitted that way and it's been long past the
incubation period. Beyond that, he was there when I got exposed to
it, so if he was going to get sick it would've been then. Beyond
even that, you don't touch a person's kid without their
permission! And what were you planning on doing with my son
"Blood tests to make sure he wasn't sick then I was going to hand him to
Stark." He turned and ran. "I'm reporting you."
"You do that, sweetheart. Watch me kick your ass, even in my tired ass state." The video cut off.
"Dawn, you're no longer allowed to teach the kids anything that's not
new english words," Pepper called. "Especially not swears or about
Tony strolled in. "I saw that. I think it's great the Queen of Nag and Mean is back."
"Only partway, boss. Still tired." Dawn yawned. "And I feel like I'm slowing down again."
"Your speech is getting a bit slow," Tony agreed.
"It's the stupid meds. Can't I take regular antibiotics?"
"They said no," he quipped. "Sorry. But only two more weeks of it."
"Yay, two weeks of being stuck on a slower speed than anyone else," she
said slowly, starting to blink. "I was waiting on something from
the realtor." She blinked again. "Okay, let's go back to
bed, Philip." He whined. "Sorry!" She got up and
walked off slowly and carefully.
Tony followed to make sure she got there. That reminded him, he
had to talk to those chemists. They should know viruses didn't
work that way.
Tony watched Pepper fight the 'humping frog' epidemic and smiled.
"He only does it around you so you pay more attention to him, Pep.
I heard him going 'frog hop' all up and down the hallway with the new
stuffed one we got him." She looked up at him. "He likes it
when you teach him things. He's a Stark. You're special to
all of us."
"I knew it had to be the Stark genes," she complained, looking at
him. "Honey, I'll pay attention to you whenever you ask, even if
you don't need taught anything. You don't have to manipulate
mommy." Steve was snickering.
"Why is it always the Stark genes?" Tony quipped. "Some of the best things come from Stark genes."
"Yes, but they'll all manipulative like the giver of the Stark genes," she said dryly.
"Oh my god, that's so wrong! That's so wrongity wrong wrong
fucking hell wrong!" Callia shouted. "You're such a frog humper
and you clearly floated through the moron signal tower until some of it
got stuck in you!" She slammed the door from the lab and stomped
"Daughter, language," Tony quipped. "And who sent you into that swearing fit?"
"We really have got to fix her mouth sometimes," Steve said
quietly. She came out to glare at him. "Good girls don't
"I don't give a goddess damn and if I'm not a good girl then am I a bad
boy like Daddy was said to be since I'm his clone?" She looked at
her father. "Grandfather just wanted me to become a brainless
bimbo debutante. That's the ones on E!, right? That's who he
was talking about?" Tony nodded slowly. "Then we really
need to do something about Grandpa before I find Andrew's ghostbusty
things! Because eww! I wear panties, thank you! I'll
never be a drunken slut like them! I'll never crash my car into
innocent people for shits and giggles, and I'll be damned if I'm not
going to use my brain as more than something to keep my ears from being
sucked together! If he wants girls like that, he should
reincarnate into one!" She stomped off again and slammed her
bedroom door, making Liz and Chris both jump and fuss.
Pepper hugged them both. "I think it's time we had a talk with your father," she told Tony.
"I'm all for finding Andrew's ghostbusty stuff," Tony said. "Then soaping her mouth."
"Yes, that needs to be done and I'll have a talk with Howard," Steve
said, getting up to go find him. Howard was fuming about his
granddaughter swearing at him. "She might need her mouth soaped
but she's right. She's not going to be the brainless bimbo trophy
wife like you turned yours into." Howard gaped. Steve stared
back. "Your granddaughter is just as much of a genius as you were
and as her father is.
"You just insulted her horribly by trying to make her turn into one of
the drug using, liquor abusing girls she shuns on tv. She won't
even watch shows about them." Howard floated backwards. "For
that matter, leave her alone! She doesn't need this stress.
She's already got stress from the temporary move, Howard. Please
quit making it worse." He walked off. Maybe Dawn could stick
him in one place so they could show him what debutantes today
did. No sane parent wanted their kids like that. He walked
back up to the living room, finding her sulking. He stared down at
her. "You swear like that again and I'm soaping your mouth," he
"Just like it sounds." He stared at her. "Good girls do not swear."
"Then I must be a bad boy in girl disguise since I'm just like Daddy."
"I got my mouth soaped a few times by my mother," Tony admitted.
"Didn't stop me much but it wasn't like she had consistent rules.
You do." He looked over at her. "Still grounded."
"But.... I'm starting to feel my brain going numb from boredom, Daddy."
"Good, then that makes it two months," he said with a smile.
"That's not fair!"
"There's no such thing as fair in life or science," Tony said with an
evil smirk. "Especially not for girls! Most scientists are
old white guys and they don't really appreciate girls in science.
So, yay! Have fun breaking that ceiling too, sweetheart." He
grinned and waved at her. "And you're now doing a paper on that
"Yes it is," he quipped. "And it's all over science. It's
all over business and a lot of other fields. Thank the Goddess you
pray to that you were born in the US instead of in some of the rest of
the world, and add a paper about gender discrimination around the world
to your list."
She pouted. "That's mean. It's probably against that Geneva
Convention thingy that I can't remember what it's for right off but I
know I did a paper on it while I was half asleep."
"That's only for prisoners of war," Steve quipped. "And yes, the
paper on it showed you were half asleep so you're due to hand in the
revised copy next week. Did you forget?" She whined.
He grinned. "Yay. Things are tough all over. When I
grew up, girls weren't in science at all. They sometimes had
factory jobs, or worked for families like yours, but mostly they had
She growled. "That's why we fought for equal rights. I
remember that paper." She stared at him. "If you think so
highly of girls like that then you shouldn't have gotten frozen for
ninety years. People looked for you like you were Waldo and they
worried." He winced and backed up a few steps. "You didn't
tell anyone where you were so they couldn't get the bomb thingy you iced
yourself for. You didn't even say goodbye to people."
"Enough!" Tony snapped.
She stared at him. "You do that again and I'll make you one of
Chris's frog humper people." She stomped off to her room.
Tony started to get up but Steve held up a hand. "Let me. It's a problem with me."
"I think it's more a problem that she's worried you'll both do the same
thing," Pepper said. "We all have that worry, guys. It's
what family of people who dress up in spandex suits do when we wait at
home." She stared at them.
Steve nodded. "I get that. I really do." He went to
talk to her. He even knocked first. She didn't answer so he
walked in and sat beside her on the bed. "I did not mean to do
that, but it was necessary at the time," he said quietly.
"There were thousands of other soldiers."
"Yes, there were but I was the only one there." He stared at
her. "Sometimes, you do what you have to do, Callia. Even if
it hurts others." He looked at the pets then at her again.
"The same as sometimes vets, like you want to be, have to put down
animals because they're sick, guys like me have to fight the bad guys
because they have sick ideas. There was a lot going on and if
there had been another way, I would've taken it."
"You could've gotten help."
"We were mid flight."
"We had planes back then. You could've parachuted out and let it crash by itself."
He stared at her. "If I hadn't piloted it, it would've taken out
New York. Which is why I jumped in to take it somewhere
else. I didn't want to. I wasn't happy to. I was
swearing so much I'm pretty sure the God I believe in was scowling at me
for it. Which I hate to admit but it happens. Though,
you're still getting your mouth soaped the next time you spew that
way. Good girls, like you are, do not swear."
She wiped her eyes off. "Bite me." He took her into the
bathroom and did soap her mouth, no matter how much she struggled.
He got done and backed off, staring at her. "That's evil."
She was spitting and rinsing out her mouth, trying not to cry.
"No, that's being a parent who has to deal with a kid that does things
to get punished. Punishment's not supposed to be fun." He
stared down at her. "If you worry about our jobs, you can come
talk to us," he said quietly. "You really can."
"No I can't. You're always doing things."
"Most of the time, Bucky and I are just sitting and talking. You can interrupt that."
"He scowls at me."
"He scowls at me. Big deal." He stared down at her.
"You're not that delicate and if you can interrupt your father talking
to the president, which should've gotten you spanked and grounded, then
you can interrupt us."
"He's scarier than the president, who's a woose."
"Want more soap?"
"That's not a swear word." He stared at her, smirking slightly. "Even when you were my age it wasn't."
"Yes it was. My mother would've gotten me for that word."
"Thankfully we moved on."
"You're still going to have manners like a real lady, even if you do end
up being a vet or in science. My daughters, which you are one,
will have *excellent* manners. I grew up with them and so will you
and your sister and your brother." She slumped. "Now, do
you want to talk about things?" She shook her head, looking
down. "If you do, all you have to do is come talk to us.
Pepper has some of the same worries. So does your aunt." He
picked her up to hug her.
"I'm not a baby."
"Doesn't mean you can't be hugged."
"I don't need picked up."
"You're short, I didn't want to bend."
"You wouldn't do it to Little People," she quipped.
"I've never met a Little Person from the fairy community and the only
one I know that's a human probably wouldn't have minded all that much at
times. Then again, that's part of being in the middle of a war
zone." He stared at her. "You're not that big yet."
She huffed. He smirked. "Keep it up. Make it three
months and another paper." He put her down. She hugged him
once she was standing. "Thank you, Callia. Now, go revise
that paper and start on your other two."
He grinned. "If you get them done early we *might* consider moving
your grounding back some. Maybe. If you're good." He
walked out to sit down again. Tony had clearly been hovering
because he was smiling. Pepper was too. "I know she's
starting to assert her independence and testing her limits. She's still
going to have manners."
"I grew up with them and then promptly forgot them at college," Tony quipped.
"You're not a girl," Steve said with a smile. "She will keep hers."
"I can find someone who can teach her," Pepper said. "I never grew up with rich kid manners, just regular kid ones."
"They should be good enough," Steve said.
"Slight differences," Tony admitted. "We can work on that
too." He picked up Liz, who squealed and beat him with her stuffed
pig. "Do I deserve that?" She grinned and nodded.
"Fine. Want cuddled, Liz?" She snuggled into his arms,
humming at her pig. "Great, you hum. That's cool." He
patted her on the back, making her belch. "Manners."
"'Scuse," she said cutely with a grin for him.
"Good girl, thank you," Steve said.
Callia opened her door. "What's an evolutionary deadend?"
"You know how many ways of looking stuff up?" Steve quipped without looking.
Callia huffed. "One of them is asking my parents, who're supposed
to be smart enough to explain things to me." She slammed her door
again. "I'll ask Jonathan. He's probably not mad at me
anymore for using his computer to find out why some boys have hanging
skin and some don't."
Tony called Dawn. "Your niece is grounded again."
"You need to cut the papers for punishment stuff, boss."
He looked up. "Why?" he asked dryly.
"Because... You haven't been paying attention to her ones for school, have you," she said dryly.
"Then perhaps someone should give her some advice on how to explain the
differences between Newtonian physics and whatever other version is out
there to make guys like Rodney hot," Dawn said dryly. "It's due
next week and I know she's stuck."
"She's not taking physics," Tony said.
"They wanted it for chemistry and with some of the stuff she's doing, I didn't get that in college."
Tony got up to get her assignment sheets, looking them over. "I
didn't get some of this in college," he said, handing them to Pepper and
"Beyond that, it's teaching her a lot but wearing her out. She could probably use a spring break."
"Yeah, she could," Tony agreed. "Thank you for telling us. How many of these have there been?"
"You know that C she got last year? There's a reason for it." She hung up.
Tony got into the files she had sent over for that class. "That's
college thesis level work and a crappy paper," he said, reading it
over. "My teachers would've laughed about that."
"I couldn't help her with that one," Steve admitted.
"I tried. It was too broad of a topic," Pepper said. "The
teacher had her cut it down, which meant a total hatchet job.
Though, I never would've turned in the original because it was a bit
Tony went in there to get the original from her system. He took it
to his office to talk to her teacher advocate in the New York school
system. He had no idea why they had wanted such hard work
done but accepted such weak papers on it. Yeah, she was getting a
spring break. Dawn was right about that.
Back in her room, she smiled at the pets. "Hey, no typing
tonight." Her dog pounced her to lap her. She giggled and
petted them all, spending time with them. "We need to redo my
bedroom. It's for babies." They curled up around their human
to stare at her/get petted.
Clint and Natasha had to reappear back in New York to pack and hand in
'change of office' papers. He walked in first, with her following after a
quick stop at Joyce to drop something else off. "Here," Clint
said, handing his over.
He looked at it then up. "Hell no! We need you two here."
"That's going to suck since our wife's out there with Stark," he said
dryly, staring at him. "And Pepper and the kids." Fury
glared. "Stark wanted to snowbird." Clint shrugged.
"Cap's out there too, sir. The only one that isn't is Banner."
Natasha nodded, handing hers over as well. "We'll be there probably until April."
"Which works out well since Faith said the next huge thing is going to
be a takeover attempt of LA from what they're hearing." Clint
crossed his arms over his chest. "Other than that...." They
ducked as the window got blown in and Deadpool slid in. "He's
going to make you pay for that. Dawn just screwed their budget for
screwing with her."
"Is she better yet?"
"It'll be April before we're back out here and there's no way she can do
the spell for another few months. Not until she's a lot
better. She barely made it through the banishing the other day and
has over three hundred internal stitches thanks to it. Which we
threw a fit over."
"Good!" He pouted. "The others agreed that her having
smallpox sent to her wasn't her fault. Can I help with that?"
Clint shrugged. "No one's told us who it was yet. Sir?"
Fury looked at him. "The FBI took it over."
Clint snorted, looking at Natasha. She texted another agent, who
sent back a file number. She pulled it up and printed it for
him. "Aww, they're in Singapore. Great! Next time I'm
over there we'll handle them."
She looked over his arm. "Is that not the robotic people?"
"That is. Which was a plot." He looked at Deadpool.
"You know, there's a realistic robotic company that sells a version of
Wade looked at him then sighed. "It wouldn't be the same. LA? Really?"
"Until April and we may be having an apocalypse battle out there
then." Clint grinned. "A demonic takeover event."
"Cool! I always wanted to see one of those." He considered
it. "We can do it around July or August probably then. Give
her time to recover and build back up energy stores. By then
the baby might even squeal my name too. Who's the weird sorcerer
"He wants to be like the Dr. Strange comic," Natasha said. "He's got some light skills and likes to try to nag Dawn."
"Figures. He tried to nag me too until his nose exploded thanks to
my fist." He looked at Fury. "Do you have anything I can go
kill for you? Even the Roombas are bored."
Fury looked at him. "I can offer you a nice room." Clint smacked him on the head. "Barton!"
Clint stared at him. "He doesn't need a room. That's what
got him into the shape he's in," he said with a light sneer. "So
don't start. Dawn's considering him a buddy." He looked at
Wade. "Talk to the people in Cleveland. They can always use
another fighter on the hellmouth. The swords will come in *very*
handy down there. It'll also give you more demon hunting
experience. Just don't hit on the slayers or Xander will rip your
"I can do that," he agreed happily. "They cute?"
"All three are under eighteen," Natasha said.
"That's fine." He shrugged. "Cleveland?" Clint wrote
down the address for him. "I can do that. Thanks,
man." He left through the window, heading to pack his Roomba boxes
and go down there.
Clint grinned at Natasha. "The girls have needed backup according to Coulson."
"They have." They stared at their boss. "We have to figure
out housing later this week and pack. Who is the agent in charge
"You can't go," Fury said. "We need you here."
"Thor's out there," Joyce called. She walked in. "Phil just
called. The backup team is ready for a trial and they're going to
handle the minor skirmishes here, plus he said to remind you Stark does
have that beaming satellite, Director. So if something huge
happens they can get here." Fury scowled at her. She stared
back. "I'd kill them both if they stayed here while Dawn was in LA
"We'd sneak away anyway. We'd miss her and the sprout," Clint said
with a grin. "Did Pepper complain yet about Chris and frog
humpers?" Joyce burst out giggling, nodding and patting him on the
arm as she walked off. He grinned at Natasha. "We're going
to let you make the decision. House or condo?" They walked
"House. I like the one that has the older trees. It's highly
expensive but the worth will grow and it's in a safe area. It has
a nice yard for him to run around in when he's walking. We can
even put up a play area for him."
"Dawn wanted to put up a Tackleberry yard." They waved at Joyce
and went back to their present apartment to pack the clothes, weapons,
and the cat.
"I don't think he's old enough to play with his Uncle Xander in one yet," Natasha said after considering it.
Pepper was out with the two youngest kids to get them clothes that
fit. Chris was in a mood. Pepper sighed, looking at
him. "No, sweetie. Frogs hop with Mommy, frogs hump with
Daddy. And that so came out wrong but okay. Okay?" she asked
with a smile. He grinned back and switched to hopping because
Mommy was upset. "Thank you." She kissed him on the head
then Liz. "Liz, please don't pick out dresses that don't fit
She took them and got her the same thing in her size. Liz
whined. "It's the same thing." She grabbed the dress she had
picked again, hugging it. "Fine, put it into the
cart." Liz did that with a grin then ran off. Pepper
checked before switching them to the right size and moving on.
Chris wasn't going to tell her they weren't her picks. She found
Liz on the other side of the small boutique staring at a dress and
sniffling. "Liz, do you like that one?"
"No!" she shouted with a point at the lace dress. "Bad, eww! Callia say no!"
"No, you don't have to wear a lace dress and your sister would be upset
by it. That's very smart but a bit loud. Indoor
voice." Liz scowled. She stared back. "Manners."
"'Scuse," she chirped with a grin.
"The other manners. Indoor voice," Pepper said firmly, staring at
her demented offspring. She wasn't even a Stark and already acting
like her stepfather. It had to be osmosis from Tony. Pepper
found a few things she thought were cute and held them up. "Which
one do you like?" Liz scowled, hands going to her hips. She
smiled. "You look like Grandma Joyce when you do that." Liz
beamed at her for that complement then ran off. "No, stay here,"
Pepper said patiently. "Come pick out three more outfits then
we'll look at pants."
Liz brought back one, making Pepper sigh. She squatted down,
taking the outfit from her. "Okay, see this?" she said with a
point. Liz smiled and nodded. Pepper got one of the ones
from the cart. "Yours should say *this* *here*," she said with a
point. "See, they're different. You need ones that have this
Liz stared then at her. "No?"
Pepper smiled and held them together. "See how yours is
smaller? It's too small for you. We need to get yours with
the right number size. So let's go look then we'll come back to
pick up some stuff for Chris."
"Dress?" she asked with a point at the lace one. She grinned. "Pretty."
"It'd be very pretty on him but I doubt his father would let him wear a
dress this week, Liz." The sales girl was laughing behind the
counter. She helped her by showing her the numbers on the
outfits. Liz got the point and grabbed a whole bunch of stuff with
the right number. "Good job," Pepper said, looking at the hideous
pile. "Let's look at things you want to wear." Liz
stared. "What ones do you like?" She pointed at the
pile. "Ten things, Liz." Liz pouted. Pepper
sighed. "That's cool." She got them into the cart and let
Liz help her look at Chris's clothes once she knew what his number
was. The salesgirl smiled at her. "They have to learn.
We'll work on fashion sense later," Pepper quipped.
"She did pretty good. She matched most everything." She
checked them. "Wrong number." Pepper went to get it in the
right size then came back. She paid and Pepper walked out with the
kids and their bags. The saleswoman tweeted how great Pepper was
with the kids. She was really patient with her daughter and the
Tony walked out to help Pepper grab bags. "Are you shopping like Auntie Dawn?" he asked Liz with a smile.
"Chris dress pretty?" she asked.
"No, we didn't pick Chris up either of those dresses. We'd have to
make sure Tony wouldn't mind if he wore a dress." Liz batted her
big, green eyes at him with a smile.
He hugged her. "He's small enough that if he wants to wear a dress
he can wear one of your older, pretty ones, Liz." She beamed and
ran to find him one. He looked at her. "Callia needs more
"Not tomorrow. Please?"
"Sure." He helped her carry in the bags and Steve helped by
showing Liz how to fold clothes. "Did she buy the whole store?"
"She finally got the point of the right size so she picked most
everything in it. It wasn't a war I was going to be able to win
today," Pepper sighed.
Steve looked in Chris's bag. "The salesgirl got things mixed up,"
he said, brining it to Liz's room. He noticed how much smaller it
was and looked at Liz. "Why does Chris have a dress?"
"He be pretty." She grinned.
"Oh, that reason." He went to hang it up in the back of Chris's
closet. They could give it to the next daughter in the family or
Danielle. His son really didn't need a dress.
Dawn looked up at her spouses as they came in. She was on her back
on the floor doing her leg lifts on the edge of the couch with Philip
giggling on her stomach. "Hey, guys. Philip, look, Mommy
Natasha and Daddy are back." Philip looked up and squealed,
crawling over to them to pounce.
"Hey, little guy," Clint said, prying him off his leg to hug. "Are
you happy to see us?" he asked with a grin. Philip slobbered all
over his cheek for him. "That's a great welcome home." He
sat down next to Dawn's feet. Natasha took the other side of
them. "Want me or Mommy 'Tasha?" he asked the baby. He
pointed when the baby pouted and she got squealed at instead. He
handed him over.
Natasha smiled at him. "You are quite loud today, son. Did
you miss us that much?" He snuggled in and patted her on the
chest, cooing at her. "We love you too." She cuddled him and
he grinned at Daddy. "You are a little flirt."
"I think that's his 'I have her and you can't' look," Clint
quipped. He stroked over Dawn's ankle. "Why are you doing
"Had a slight leg cramp earlier."
"Then that makes sense." He grinned down at her. Philip was
cuddling with his favorite mommy so he should get the other one.
"We have a residence."
"We do?" She quit moving to stare at him. "When are we moving?"
"Two more weeks. Everything went through well and we signed the
papers today." He stroked her ankle again. Dawn tipped her
head, looking confused. "We do have a salary we're not really
using, Dawn." She pounced him to kiss him. He moaned and
held her against him. "You're welcome."
"You bought us a house?" She smiled. "Wow." He grinned
and let her fuss over it. Even when she called her mother
from his lap. "Mommy, they bought me a house." She
grinned. "I don't know but not the point. They bought me a
house, Mommy." She smiled at the baby. "Grandma said
hi." She listened. "Yup. Thanks, Mom." She hung
up. "Fury's still fussing at her." She plucked the baby from
Natasha to cuddle him. He stared up at her. "I'm a happy
mommy. You can cuddle me too." He grinned and pooped.
"Gee, thanks." Natasha laughed but got up to change him.
Dawn kissed her husband again. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, princess." He stroked up her back. She
grinned. He knew that look and it was going to get him
pounced. "Let us shower." He winked. She went back to
her leg lifts with the baby while they showered together. Though,
the baby followed them a few minutes later and squealed happily at the
naked water time he was going to get. They stared down at
him. "Are you that happy, son?"
"Apparently," Natasha said, handing him the baby. "At least you're
a boy," she said at his look. She moved behind him to scrub his
back while he bathed the baby so he'd quit squealing loud enough to be
heard all over the city. That made him a happy crawling drool
factory. She was happy to help Clint scrub down so that was a
bonus for all of them. When they got done, and the baby was
rediapered, Dawn took him back to give him some oatmeal.
Natasha smiled at him trying to avoid the spoon. "Eat for me,
Philip. We'll be very proud." He looked around until he
spotted her then smiled and almost-waved, but Mommy took the opportunity
to stick the spoon full of oatmeal in his mouth. "I don't think
he liked that," Natasha quipped when the baby glared at Dawn.
Dawn grinned at him. "Eat or you can't cuddle Chris later,
son." He pouted but she fed him because the other parents
helped. "I still say he likes one of you best."
"He might," Clint agreed with a grin. "For now. He'll go
back and forth on favorites depending on who's doing what with
him." He stretched out. The baby fussed and avoided the
spoon some more until Dawn finally sighed and put him on the floor
again. He crawled over to Daddy and patted his leg until he picked
him up. "Need some guy time? I can understand that.
I'm surrounded by girls."
"That used to be Xander's line," Dawn quipped with a smirk.
"He was surrounded by bitches. I have two beautiful women who like
to make me brainless and beg. So much better." He
grinned. Natasha kissed him. The baby grunted at her and
pushed. "I think he wanted some guy time." He kissed him on
the head, getting grinned at. "Don't want Mommy Natasha to kiss
me?" Dawn kissed him and he grinned at her, getting the same
treatment from the baby.
"Okay, so we'll have some guy time," he said. "What did you want
to do?" Philip stared at him. "Hmm, baby ESP time.
Want to go for a walk?" Philip squealed and bounced so he got up
with a groan and pulled on the baby snuggler. "C'mon, maybe we'll
run into your buddies." He walked off with the baby. The
girls could entertain themselves and him. Which was always a great
thing, that and walks tended to wear Philip out so he napped for a few
Dawn smiled and pounced Natasha, making her laugh and cuddle back.
That was good and Clint could get happy with them later.
Clint walked the baby through the tunnels and outside to the really
overdone 'lunch garden' as it was called. It was way too rigidly
manicured for his tastes but the baby liked it. He saw press
people and winced. "Oh, crap." Philip flinched. "Not
you. You won't while we're out here or we have to go in to change
you because I didn't grab anything, little guy." He stayed out of
the way of the press, even if a few did catch sight of them
walking. Philip was nice enough to tease them by waving when one
shouted their names.
"No, you don't need to flirt with reporters, son. That's a bad
habit because then they'd stalk you all over. Which would make all
your parents very upset." He heard the explosion and
looked. That wasn't a lab accident. He considered it but
there was a giant robot stomping out. "Shit." He ran over,
handing the baby to a reporter he recognized. "Watch him for ten
please. Stark, need my bow!" he shouted when he spotted him
"Barton!" Andrew called, tossing him one. "Not yours but good enough?"
"Yeah, I can use that." It was a nice compound hunting bow.
With spikes for some reason. It worked, that's all that
mattered. That and he had explosive arrows. Jonathan tossed
him some of those and he started to distract the robot. "Get the
kid from the reporter, 'Drew."
"Yup." Jonathan ran to do that while Andrew set up something to
help. The sonic wave generator worked, which was good since they
hadn't tested it yet, and the wave of noise hit the robot, which gave
Clint's explosive arrows an opening to blow the guy up. Stark came
out to finish it off. Andrew looked at Jonathan and the squealing
baby. "He needs to make putting on the suit and taking it off
He took Philip to hug since he was being squealed at. "Caroline
missed you, little guy. You still can't date her though,
please?" He sniffed and looked at him, walking him down
there. "Diaper needed and I have no idea how to change little
boys." He handed him over and took the bow and quiver back.
"Have fun, we'll see you tomorrow, little guy." He ran off before
the diaper started to overflow. With the way his face looked,
Philip's butt was going to have an epic eruption.
Clint looked down at him. "Didn't I ask you not to do that since I
didn't bring out a diaper bag?" He walked off. "Let me
change him." Natasha walked past him. "Want to change him,
"Not with how he's still going. I might have to change clothes."
"Me too," he complained, holding him out at arm's length. Even if
he fussed, it was nice not to have to do laundry tonight for more than
Natasha walked out there. "Stark, do you need help?"
"No, we've got it dead," he said. "I have no idea who was working on that."
Jonathan walked over and shrugged. "It looks like someone got our
girl-fetching robot and updated it, Tony. Sorry." He ran
Tony looked over. "Aren't you two in New York?"
"Caroline missed her Philip and Chris time," Andrew said with a
grimace. "I'm still reminding her they can't date so they can't
make a non-geek baby. Because with that much brain power it'll be
too delicate for anything but a living computer brain or a
non-geek." He walked off, following where Clint had went.
"They in Guest Suites, boss?"
"Yes." He shook his head, looking at Pepper when she came out with
Liz and Chris in a stroller. "Andrew and Jonathan are here."
"Wonderful." She smiled. "Chris keeps scowling because he can't flirt with Caroline."
"I agree with the boys. If there's kids between them, they'll
either be non-geeks or too smart to do anything but lay there and
think," he said dryly. She cackled, patting him on the arm as she
walked past him with the kids. "Okay. Clean up on aisle six,
guys." The security team and his robotics team gathered the parts
together to look over. Tony went to take off the suit and check
on the kids. On the way he ran into Pepper with all the
kids. "Problems?" He patted Allenetta on the head since she
was fussy. "Where's your parents, young lady?"
"Jonathan told her where the original robot came from so Patty pounced
Jonathan so hard they dented a wall," Pepper said with a smile.
"Chris, being a Stark, decided he wanted to help by trying to undo MB's
shirt buttons. Philip was pouting that he got left out with
Caroline so they were cuddling and sucking on each other, which made
Andrew horrified. So we're going to teach them all about paperwork
today. Maybe one of them will be Callia's assistant when Dawn has
to retire." She smiled and walked them off.
"That's a scary thought," Tony said, following her. He paused when
he heard a squeal. "Wow, I didn't know MB was a screamer like
Dawn." She tugged on his arm so he went with Pepper, smiling at
the kids. They found Steve up there and the kids pounced him,
"Hi, Caro, hi, Allenetta." He hugged them then Philip. "Hi,
Philip." Philip wiggled free and crawled over to pounce his
fascinating older girl friend. Caroline gave him a dirty look but
cooed and patted him when he cuddled. He laughed. "You two
"Andrew and I agree, Caroline and my kids can't date. They'd probably make a non-geek."
"Or a really dysfunctional version of you," Pepper agreed with a smile.
"Or that, one that never did anything but lay on their bed and think."
"There's nothing wrong with that," Callia said firmly. "I enjoy
the hell out of it." Steve glared at her. "I do!"
"Swearing," he noted.
"This is all family." She grinned. "I don't in public and if Daddy can I can."
"Faulty logic," Pepper warned. "He's an adult, you are not. Slight change of variables."
"I hate variables," Callia complained. "I hate math too."
"You used to like math," Tony said, staring down at her. "What happened?"
"It makes no sense! It doesn't even make Uncle Rodney without
coffee and sleep sense! How can anyone do something with an
unabsolute, varies by whim variable!"
Tony hugged her. "I promise, if you go into physics instead of
engineering, it'll be okay and I'll let Rodney and Radek mentor you,
sweetheart." She huffed and stomped off to call her uncle to
complain about her daddy malfunctioning again. Clearly he needed
guy tinkering time to cure it. That's what usually did it.
Or him getting really loud with Mommies Steve and Pepper. She
pouted when Diama appeared. "I suck."
Diama hugged her. "You don't suck. It's confusing.
Even I get confused. I had to ask Radek why math had so many
things that weren't numbers." Callia smiled because if her future
goddess was confused it was okay if she was. "We should go see
Rodney and Radek."
"JARVIS, tell Daddy I'm going with Diama to see Uncle Rodney." They disappeared to the lab to pout at him.
Radek looked over at the door opening. "You two are not
scientists," he said with a smile. "Not until have first college
"It makes no sense," Callia pouted. Diama nodded.
Rodney looked over from his desk. "What makes no sense?" The
girls ran over to climb on his lap and tell him about math not making
sense to them. He grabbed some paper and a pencil to go over how
you handled those freakish non-absolute things like infinity and symbols
that changed value based on the surrounding matter. The goddess
got it faster but Callia did get it and she snuggled him. He
smiled at them. "Better?" They nodded. "Then you two
should probably check in with your parents."
"I had JARVIS tell Daddy we were coming to see you," Callia said with a
smile. "Daddy's malfunctioning again. He needs guy tinkering
time or whatever he does with Mommy Pepper and Mommy Steve to get
giggly. Can you come back to do that? We won't let Philip or
Liz or Chris pounce you."
He looked at her. "We only tinker in the lab. Your father's
mood afterward isn't the same as when he's spent time with his all-but
Callia shrugged. "It seems the same and he's just as happy.
That way he could be happy and make squealing noises back when Chris
made them at him. And it'd help him calm Mommy Pepper down when
Chris insists that frogs hump again. You can even talk down to
Grandpa because he wanted me to be a *debutante*. I got so
punished for yelling at him," she sighed, hugging Diama. "There
was soap and extra papers too. Daddy even said that girls weren't
appreciated in science."
"Some of the older scientists aren't used to having women in science,"
Rodney agreed. "There's not a lot of you, even today." He
gave her a squeeze. "Which grandfather? I can't imagine
Bruce wanting you to be a debutante of all stupid things."
"Grandpa Stark and I know! I mean, I wear panties and I don't
drink, or do drugs, or drive into innocent sidewalks while doing either
of those. How could he expect me to have yappy dogs! I need
better conversation than yappy dogs. Most of them don't even know
how to spell science, much less do it, and he wanted me to have *babies*
to do the science stuff. I don't care if I do get my mouth soaped
again, he was a stupid frog humper."
"Frog humper?" Diama asked.
"Dawn called some idiot scientists that tried to take Philip from her
that. That and evolutionary dead ends. And when I asked,
Daddy gave me *another* paper to figure out what that meant!" She
looked at Rodney. "You need to remind Daddy why science makes him
happy so he's not as mean, Uncle Rodney. He hugged me earlier and
said it was okay if I wanted to follow you instead of him. He's
"He clearly is, yes," he agreed with a smile for the girls.
"Though, I may have to use the frog humper nomenclature later on."
He blinked a few times. Then he hugged them. "I'll call him
after I have done all my work for the day."
Diama snorted. "You'll never get done because you keep adding to
your list. You need days off to remember why science was fun and
not work too, Rodney." He stared at her. She smiled.
"I'm your goddess and I said so," she chirped.
"He can tinker with Daddy for that," Callia said happily, cuddling
her. "That'll help them both. They can even figure out what
someone did with Warren's girl fetching robot to make it mean. Or
he can help them make new roombas for the army."
"Army like Ares'?" Diama asked. Callia grinned and babbled about
the roombas. Radek and a few others tried not to laugh but had to
leave to cackle outside. Callia waved a hand without
looking. "They'll understand soon. Deadpool might bring some
of them to the demon apocalypse this spring in LA." She beamed.
Diama patted her on the head. "You need a vacation from science too. That way you have fun."
"It's my spring break but I'm grounded so no one's going to take me
anywhere except to get new clothes because mine are too small
again. Daddy said I looked like a streetwalker in my favorite
shirt yesterday because I nearly flashed some nipple." Rodney
groaned and shook his head. She cuddled him. "It's
okay. I put it up because boys are icky and if they try to touch
me I can beat the shit out of them like I was Auntie Dawn. Even if
I'm in a future bikini."
"Yes, I'm sure you will," he promised, giving them both a hug. "Let me call your father, make sure he's not worried."
Diama looked up then shrugged. "He's letting Philip play with his
hair while he teaches Chris colors." She looked to the east.
"Brucie is bored." She grinned. "Meet you in the
labs. 'Lantis, Rodney needs to visit Uncle Tony in the labs here
please. He needs vacation time."
"I can do that," the AI said happily. "It would make him calmer and sleep better for a bit."
Callia looked up. "Did we forget the rolling boxes in New York? JARVIS hasn't talked to you in a few days."
"We've integrated more so we only have to connect by a slight surge of
power through the connection to the Bifrost Bridge that Colonel Sheppard
helped Baldr create, Callia, but thank you for thinking of our
"Is that like making babies for computers?" Callia asked, making Radek
change his mind and walk out again. "It sounded like it," she
called after him. "You need a vacation to color and stuff too!"
"I'm sure they're more chatting as they don't have the physical apparatus for such pursuits," Rodney said quickly.
Callia looked at her. "There's that robot company that pisses
Auntie Dawn's spouses off in Singapore. I found their video by
accident when I was looking at the trashed files on the Stark company
system. Or Andrew and Jonathan could build one probably. The
robo-Mommy Pepper and robo-Auntie Natasha are both great, even if they
were built by Warren for his nasty boy needs."
Diama looked at her. "Robot people?" Callia nodded, telling
her about them. She looked and frowned. "Who did that?"
"Warren. He was friends with Andrew and Jonathan but he had a bad
brain leak so he's in the hospital until he quits trying to kill others
and sleep with robots. He had been visited by the bad idea fairy."
She grinned. "That's Ares' new job." She cackled and took
them to the labs in Stark. Then she grabbed Bruce and brought
him. She went back to tell Joyce and get a hug, because Joyce gave
great hugs, then went to teach Tara's twins about science stuff and
balloons. She loved her balloon geeks. They explained
*everything* to her.
Bruce looked around then at Tony. "Isn't this your lab at the house?"
"Yeah." He looked at his daughter. "What did you do?"
"You needed the happy times like you get when you tinker with them or
when you have giggling, loud time with Mommies Pepper and Steve."
She grinned. "I'll get someone to pick me up." She ran
upstairs to measure her room while waiting on Happy or someone.
She'd have to redecorate whenever they moved back here. It was
even more for babies than her one at the company compound.
Tony shook his head. "I have a great lab at the company. Grab her, Bruce."
"Problems beyond the remodeling?" Bruce asked, looking around. He hadn't been here before.
"Dawn had a vision that this house was going to be attacked."
"Oh, charming." Tony got them a ride while he went to help Callia
with her simple thing until it got there. He could protect her
while Rodney and Tony talked about how to calm Callia down.
Because his daughter was now incredibly warped and he had no idea how he
had done it. They needed to fix her before she outdid Warren and
made herself robotic friends or something. Or turned into Deadpool
with the way she babbled and liked weapons.
Dawn looked at her niece, shrugging some. "We both need some clothes."
"If you'd gain back those five pounds you wouldn't need some," Callia
said with a smile. "You need to make Unclie Clint feed you."
"He did last night." She took her to shop. She had to hire a
car for the day, Happy was busy and she wasn't allowed to drive for a
few more weeks with the way the meds were slowing down her reaction
times. But that was fine. They were half-demon owned and
they respected her and Callia so they'd be safe enough. Dawn
checked the upcoming schedules. "Do you want to go to the theater
with the parents?"
"What's the theater? Like movies?"
"No, like plays."
"I've never seen a play." She considered it. "Is that a date for them?"
"No, they've put a notation on there to see if you wanted to go.
If so, you'll have to dress up." She looked over at her.
"That means slightly formal clothes."
"Pretty dress, jewelry." She looked her over. "We might want to talk about getting your ears pierced soon too."
She touched her ears. "For earrings?" Dawn nodded with a
slight smile. "I might like that." She considered it.
"That would hurt, huh?" Dawn nodded. "Fine. We can do
"You sure? That means you have to take care of them."
"They'd have to take less work than the pets," she quipped. "Can we look at things to redo my bedroom?"
"Yup. Though, I saw your ideas. That won't work because of your dog."
"That's true, Xander puppy can't get up onto a raised bed. I'll
have to fix that. Maybe a ramp. He can jump but he doesn't
"That's because he's getting chubby," she told her.
"Yeah, kinda." She shrugged and smiled. "But that's
okay. We can start to go for longer walks since it's not chilly
out here." The car paused and they got out, going into the
store. Dawn was checking her accounts. One was suspiciously
not working so she had to switch to the cards from her main draw
account. That helped and she sent an email at Natasha to find out
why the bank was down. Callia got outfitted for the next few
months. Dawn took her up to a fancier store to get her that
important first semi-formal gown. She smiled at the curious
looking saleswoman. "This is my niece, Callia Stark. She's
going to the theater with her parents in a few weeks. So it's time
for the first semi-formal nice dress."
"Of course. This way, Miss Stark." She smiled at her.
"You'll probably want something nice but comfortable?" Dawn
nodded. "Which show?"
Dawn checked then shrugged. She looked that up and found it.
"The opening on the eighth." She smiled at the saleswoman.
"Which is in French."
"I'm learning French," Callia said happily, smiling at the
saleswoman. "Do I get to be twinkly? I sometimes like
twinkly. I'm getting my ears pierced later on."
"That's a great thing," the saleswoman said with a smile. "It'll help when you have to pick out jewelry."
"Sometimes a good pair of earrings is enough or a necklace, that way you
don't have to wear a ton of jewelry at once to show off," Dawn
agreed. She looked at something and shook her head. "Nothing
that kidish please. She's nine."
"Sure. Let's see." She found the flowergirl dresses and
pulled out a few. "These we have in a size near hers. It'd
have to be tailored."
Dawn considered it, staring at them then her niece. "Let her try
on the blue one. If we need to, we can get her a belt to make it
look less like a party dress." The saleswoman nodded and took her
to help her try it on. Dawn looked up kid clothiers in the area
and smiled. One of her more favored shops might have some and they
were only a few blocks away. Callia came out. "It'll have
to be hemmed. You're not allowed to wear heels yet." She
made 'turn around' motions, shaking her head. "That's going to
take a ton of tailoring and we only have three weeks." She
considered the other ones. "Let's look at hair things for
now." She let Callia pick out a few things and went over why she
liked them. Including a little cap/veil fascinator. "Those
are fashionable right now."
"They are," Callia agreed happily.
"That and that purple dress might work. It had black trim,
right?" The saleswoman got it for Callia to try on. Dawn
smiled. "That should work for the theater."
"It should," the saleswoman said. "It fits her tolerably
well. It could use a bit of tailoring but nothing too huge."
Dawn nodded and they looked at her. "Do you like that, Miss
She looked at herself. "What shoes would I wear, Auntie?"
"Your black suede flats probably. Or black ones. Your accessories should probably pretty much match."
"Huh." She twirled a few times in the mirror. "Then I like
this." She smiled. "Do we have someone who can fix where
it's a bit big?"
"We can ask my tailor back in New York for recommendations," Dawn
assured her. Callia beamed and bounced a bit, going to change and
let the saleslady wrap things up. She stared at her card.
"It just worked."
"The bank may be down. One of mine's not working and it's through the same bank."
Dawn handed over her other one, getting it run. That worked and
she smiled, taking the card. "Okay, let's get your ears
pierced." She walked off, hugging her. "You have very nice
taste, very young and yet still pretty."
"Think Mommy Pepper will like it?"
"I think she'll adore it." They shared a smile. Their driver was
more than happy to give them time to get frozen yogurt on the way to the
jewelry store Dawn liked. Dawn showed them the dress and
fascinator. They had a nice pair of amethyst that would go with
it. Dawn bought them and let them pierce Callia's ears.
Callia winced and teared up but got hugged until the ouching
stopped. She even took notes on how to care for her ears.
The saleswoman there was more than happy and Callia found something she
liked, getting it for herself. It was young and a solitaire on a
chain. So good for her jewelry box. They went home.
Dawn smiled as they walked in. "She is going to the theater with
"You got her ears pierced?" Pepper demanded. She pulled Callia over. "Where did you go?"
"To the jewelry store," Callia said with a grin. She showed her
the new earrings. "That will go with the pretty dress and hat,
Mommy Pepper, and I got this because it was pretty." She showed
her that necklace.
"That's very good taste," Tony agreed. "Classic and goes with a
lot of things." He looked at Dawn. "I think you may have
stepped on some toes."
She kissed Pepper on the cheek. "It's a semi-formal. You
still get to get her the first fully formal special dress." They
shared a look. "She got a hat too."
"A hat?" Pepper asked.
Callia nodded with a grin. "I look good." She twirled around
and pounced her father to hug him. "Earrings hurt."
"They do, yes." He cuddled her. "What else did you
get?" Dawn handed over the other bags so she could show him.
"By the way, her bank card quit working mid-trip." Dawn sat down
and looked at Pepper. "This way we both get one of the special
"Good point and the first formal is usually for something really
special." She stole Callia back to hug her. "I want to see
first. That way we know if you need shoes or a slip."
"Slip maybe," Dawn said. "But it's nowhere near
see-through." Pepper smiled and nodded. "Go ahead."
Callia took that package into her room to change. "It needs a
touch of tailoring. We did not go couture by any means."
Callia came out pinning her fascinator on and smiled at them, twirling around. "See, pretty neat, huh?"
"Very," Tony said, staring at his little girl. She clearly wasn't
so little anymore. She was turning into a teenager way too
soon. He wasn't ready for this yet. Pepper was sniffling
too. He tipped his head to the side. "Those new earrings
will go very well."
"They will," Pepper agreed, pulling her over to hug her. "You did good, kiddo."
"Thanks, Mommy Pepper." She grinned at her auntie. "We picked the hat first."
"Sometimes you need the great thing to go with the accessory." She
winked at her. "Go change back." She ran off to do
that. "Those shoes are too tight."
"We can fix that," Pepper said, wiping off her cheeks. "She looks
like a young lady in that." Dawn nodded with a grin for
them. "Wow." She looked at Tony, who sighed but
nodded. Pepper hugged Dawn. "Thanks for leaving me the extra
"For her coming out or her prom probably," Dawn agreed. "Both super special things."
Pepper smiled and nodded. "They are, yeah." Callia came out
in a leotard and shorts, pouncing her for a hug. "You showed
excellent taste today. You get to help me teach Liz and Chris how
to match clothes later."
She laughed. "That's fine. Make sure they can't play with my earrings?"
"I can do that." She cuddled her. "You're getting so big."
"No I'm not. I'm only nine. You have *years* yet before I'm a big girl and boybands in between," she joked.
"We taught you better taste than that," Tony joked, taking her for his
own hug. Dawn gave them some privacy to figure out what to do with
a tweenager. They had to mourn the little girl times that were
past them now and the future teenager years that were ahead.
Dawn looked up as music came on over the loudspeaker. She sent out
a building-wide memo that if they were having a theme song day to pick
something that would not get complained about. It got switched
from _Weird Science_ to _White and Nerdy_. She shook her
head. It was a goofy day in the Stark compound. Philip
chirped and cackled. She looked down at him. "Some day
that'll be you, yeah." She handed him a teething biscuit, making
him a happy boy. Tony walked up the hall with the speakers around
him automatically switching to _Have a Drink On Me_ by AC/DC.
"Appropriate," Dawn teased with a grin.
"Yes it is." He looked down at Philip. "Hey, little guy. Why aren't you with the other kids?"
"He actually likes me today. He can sit with me, Tony."
"Fine." He went into the office. The music cut off because
Pepper had JARVIS stop it. He kissed her and winked at Liz.
"Are you liking the mommy time too? I thought you were with Beya."
"She was until Beya got a sudden nose bleed." She pointed at where
Chris was staring at the painting on the wall. "I have no idea
why but he's been doing that all day."
"It's probably the Stark focus. Or we'll have him checked."
He walked over and Chris stared at him, smiling. "Hey, Son.
Want closer to the pretty thing?" He picked him up to let him
stare at the picture better. That made Chris happier. "We're
having your eyes checked."
"He has an upcoming baby doc appointment in three days," Dawn called
in. "Then Liz has one the next day so you don't have to wrangle
them both together."
"He can refer us to a good eye doc if he thinks it's necessary," Tony
decided, looking at his son. Who grinned back at him. "Then
we'll see if it's the Stark focus or not." He sat down and put him
on the carpet with Liz. Who smirked at them. "Is that your
'I need a diaper badly' look?" he teased.
"She's almost two so we need to start the potty talks soon," Pepper said.
"Lizzy, run for the potty," Dawn said. Liz squealed all the way in
there and climbed up to stand on the toilet and pee. She
grinned. "Steve caught her doing that the other night and could
not figure out what she was doing."
"She's mimicking the daddies," Tony said, looking awed. "Will she do both?"
"Do not know. We know she'll go when prompted but it's not her
idea," Dawn said with a grin at Philip. "Some day soon you'll
learn how to do that too. Though, you are learning to sit down at
first. It's easier." She smoothed down his hair.
"Almost time for the first haircut, son. Your daddy's looking
forward to that."
Clint strolled up the hall reading a book on parenting. "What?"
"First haircut needs to happen soon."
Clint grinned. "It is getting a bit long in front." He
hugged his son, earning a happy grin and some slobber. Clint gave
him another teething biscuit. "Natasha wanted to know how you
"They have to be old enough, usually two or three," Dawn said.
"You prompt them to go, then treat the hell out of them for it."
She smiled. "He's learning how to sit down first. It's
easier and we can put up a potty seat."
"He's a guy, Dawn. We don't usually sit down."
"He's got no aim yet," she countered. "He'll need to sit down until he can aim it."
"That may be a point," he admitted, considering it. "We'll
see." He kissed her and walked off reading. "Is he going to
"He's not standing up so no."
"Wonderful. Wade wants him to squeal his name."
"I'll get to work teaching him once he starts to babble more than
noise," she said dryly. She smiled at him. "Say mama?"
He babbled everything but that. "That's okay. It's a bit
early, son." She got back to work. He fussed so she pulled
him into her lap to watch her type. That made him happier because
he got Mommy time and he got to see things magically appear for
her. Dawn finished up her task and printed it, carrying it and the
baby into the office. "Did you hire another assistant? I
haven't gotten anything from you in a few hours."
Pepper shook her head. "I've sent you three things to proofread
and polish for me, Dawn." She considered it then looked up.
"JARVIS, what happened to those files?"
"It's clear that Dawn should not be back at work yet. She's
exhausted and not up to her perky self," the AI said. "Therefore I
put them in holding until she got some rest."
Dawn sniffled. "I love you like a fussy uncle, JARVIS."
"If I had true emotions I'd probably feel the same, Dawn. Now go take a rest."
"I can't. I have to earn my paycheck. I don't want to set a bad example for Philip by slacking."
"I doubt you are," Pepper said, smiling at her. "We know you're
not one of those who earned their paychecks on their back or their
"Yeah but it's still my job and I'm taking less hours right now. I can do typing stuff, JARVIS, really."
He huffed. "I'll release them singly so you can handle them as
you're able. You should have waited another week before coming
Tony leaned in, staring at them. "JARVIS, Dawn can handle it."
"She was doing some in bed last night," the AI said firmly. "She should have been doing other things, like resting."
"I couldn't sleep anymore," Dawn said with a slight shrug. "Really, I'm okay, JARVIS."
"You are not. Your biorhythms say that you're tired."
"It's nearly lunch and I was going to eat and rest for a half hour," Dawn said.
"Then I'll release those to you afterward. Your mate is picking up your lunch anyway." He hung up.
She smiled at Pepper. "He really is the greatest AI and fussy uncle ever."
"Yeah, he is." She smiled. "See you in an hour."
"Yup." She looked at Philip. "Lunch time?" He stared
at her. "C'mon, let's eat with Daddy." She smiled at
Tony. "He backlogged my work on me."
"I heard." He smiled at the happy baby. "Have fun with your
food, Philip." He babbled baby noise and flung around his soggy
teething biscuit all the way back to their suite. "I agree, she
came back early."
"She wanted to," Pepper said with a smile. "She only came back at part time for that reason."
"I know. The only thing she hasn't fully managed is her rounds to
collect everything and fuss over people." He smiled as Natasha
strolled up the hallway in a nice outfit. "Out for a date?"
"No, we've found evidence that one of your people is selling their time
to other countries as well so I'm going to pretend to be Dawn for a
bit." She smiled.
"They all know you're not her."
"Yes, but they'll still talk to me." She strolled off. "I'm going on her gathering and nagging rounds."
"Start in building four, she hasn't gotten to them in days," Pepper called after her.
"I need to do building seven."
"She hasn't gotten there since Monday," Tony quipped. "She's got a
chart made for right now." Natasha came back to get it and look
it over. Then she went back to fill in for Dawn while checking up
on that group. She'd go tease them in a few minutes for
information stuttered at her chest. Most of the scientists here in
the compound did. Those ones though, they were the married,
straight, not even looking at her sort. So she'd have to work
around that. And Caroline trying to claim her for some
auntie time when she ran into them. She smiled at the baby
cheering at her. "Philip is having lunch."
"She just ate," MB said with a smile. "Dawn's on lunch?"
Natasha nodded. "Shoot. I needed to know how she made that
thingy she gave to Jonathan when you guys didn't make it home in time to
"The mushroom thingy."
"Put mushrooms into a baking dish or a casserole dish, add italian
seasoning, the dried kind, and a bit of garlic powder but not too
much. Add cheese on top then cover with breadcrumbs. Bake at
350 until brown.
"So that's how it came out crispy. I need cooking lessons."
Natasha smiled. "There's a great many ways of doing that. Including trading recipes among the labs."
"We might have to do that. I'll have Dawn send out a memo.
Thanks, Natasha." She looked at her daughter. "C'mon, we'll
go sit outside in the sun. You haven't seen the sun today.
Or yesterday. And possibly not all week thanks to Daddy being
busy." She walked her off talking to her.
Natasha smiled and went back to her finding of information and gathering
of things. Dawn really did have a very unusual job with all the
fussing she did but it had gotten out all her maternal instincts before
she had the baby. Now.... The geeks liked the baby more than
they did anyone but Callia. She ran into her. "I'm
gathering reports for your aunt."
"Okay. I can help." She looked at herself. Jeans, band
t-shirt her Uncle Phil had gotten her. Hair up in a
ponytail. "We can do that."
"Shoes," Natasha ordered. She huffed but summoned some to put on
and they went together. They could probably visit all the
labs. Callia smiled as they walked into the first one. "I'm
doing Stark rounds," she quipped with a grin for them and a hug for one
she knew. "To make sure my future geeks are all like
family." They smiled at her and talked to her about what they were
doing while Natasha made coffee, got them new pastries sent up since
their plate of them was empty, and gathered reports. By the time
they were done with the buildings Dawn had not gotten to yet, Callia was
about hoarse but happy. Natasha did that one building, earning a
look from the little genius. She smiled back. "I have need
of talking to one of them," she said quietly.
"That's fine. That's kinda your job sometimes." She took the
reports they had gathered and went to the office. "Here, Mommy
Pepper. Auntie Natasha did the rest of the rounds for Auntie
Dawn." Dawn grinned from her seat on the couch. "Hi,
Philip." He beamed and waved. "Good boy." She hugged
him. "C'mon, it's time for me to brush the dog. Want to help
me brush the doggy?" She carried him off. "You're so
heavy. You must've just eaten."
Dawn smiled. "Bring him back when he needs changed."
"Beya's with us."
"Okay, that's fine." She looked at Pepper. "Which one in
building seven?" Tony shrugged. "I'll ask her later."
She got up to look over the reports. "I'll pop around to make sure
on the food thing. Those buildings never eat." She went
back to her desk to go back to work, thankfully JARVIS and Clint had
talked and Clint had convinced him to release her work back to her since
she had rested.
Pepper and Tony shared a grin and got back to the company stuff -
after Tony had kissed her stupid and got in a bit of groping.
Tony was staring at the front of his house. He loved his house and
missed it. He looked at the trees out front. One looked
like fall foliage. The other.... Did it in the spring.
He realized that and texted Dawn to see which one it was. She
sent back a question mark so he reminded her of the vision. She
told him and he stared. That was bad. It probably should've
happened already. So maybe..... No, probably not.
Xander appeared, looking up at the house then at him. "The bomb's
there. It's got a motion sensor stuck on a wall in the stairway
down to your lab."
"When did it get put there?"
"No idea," Xander admitted. He showed Tony the motion
sensor. Tony huffed and disconnected it. Xander had to move
him when the house exploded. Tony was a bit injured but not as
badly as it could have been. Xander put them both into the
infirmary, handing him to Dr. Pigalli since she was there. "He
went to check on the house since that vision should've happened by
now. He disconnected the trigger sensor wrong."
"Good to know." She checked him over, handing him some tylenol and
doing the few stitches he needed from shrapnel. "Could've been a
lot worse, Mr. Stark."
"The vision had the house falling off the cliff with all of us in
it." Pepper stomped in. "Xander found the trigger to the
bomb for that vision."
"Wonderful! Why did you set it off?"
"I was trying to disarm it," Tony said. He looked around. "JARVIS, has LAPD responded there yet?"
"Yes, sir, and the fire department. They are not pleased that you tried it yourself."
"Well, I do know most bomb types by rote," he said dryly. He looked at Xander. "Can you go tell them?"
He sighed but took him with him. "Guys, owner?" He gave him a nudge and left again. Tony could get a ride.
Stark took the tylenol. "There was a vision that the house would
go up," he told the officers staring at him. "That's why we
'remodeled' for the last year." That got a single nod from
the officers. "Alexander, who dropped me off, found the trigger."
"You should've called for SWAT, sir," one said.
Tony stared at him. "I'm Tony Stark. I built bombs for a
living, kid." The officer slumped a tiny bit. "I wasn't even
near the bomb. I was removing the stuck on motion detector when
it went off." That was still in his hand. He had been
holding onto it when Xander had moved him. He held it up to look
at. "That's not fully motion sensing though. That's a sensor
on the side I did not see." He looked at it better.
"Huh." Coulson appeared so he tossed him the sensor. "That's
the motion sensor Xander found."
He looked it over. "That's one of the new DNA sensors from that
company in England." He looked at Stark. "You good?"
"Bit sore. Ringing ears." He looked at the mess of his house
then back at his oversight agent. "Bit pissed off."
"At least you had the warning to move everything," he said bluntly. "Agent Coulson, SHIELD." He pulled his ID case.
"Why weren't we informed of the vision?" one of the officers asked.
"Because I'm not sure if the guys who did this might have a janitor or
someone who can get into your systems," Tony said. "I told
"It was deemed too much risk of getting out of out sight," Phil told them. He was staring at someone. "Barton?"
"No, that's not him, and I've wondered a few times if there's a few
hidden Barton kids around," Tony said dryly. "No, he's not Clint."
"Huh. Looks like him."
Tony nodded. "He does." They looked at the officers
again. "He does look just like Hawkeye." They nodded they
knew that, and had probably teased him over it. Tony smiled a
bit. "I don't think anyone's told Barton that yet." He shook
his head to clear it. "Anyway, that was stuck on a wall, no
string, cord, or wire to it. So I pulled it off and that set it
off. If I had seen that sensor I wouldn't have done that."
"Still, if you had told us, we could've had people here waiting," one of the officers said.
Tony nodded. "Which would've alerted them and if they had a shut
off set up they probably would've. Like I said, guys," Tony said
as he put his hands into his pockets. "I've built bombs for
*years*. This thing is probably weaker than what I used to build
back in college when I got bored and frustrated." He shrugged
Phil looked it over. "You had structural issues from the shifting
cliff line after that last slide anyway," he noted. The head of
the SWAT bomb response team came over. Tony got walked off by
him. He tossed back the sensor. "I can help do the
paperwork." The officers smiled and handed it to him while they
reported to their boss. Stark's insurance person was not going to
be happy that he hadn't called in a professional to help.
Then again, he was Tony Stark and he built weapons so maybe they did rate him as a professional. Who knew.
Pepper looked up as Tony strolled into the office later that afternoon. "So, they had it already there?"
"Probably in the last wave of workmen," Tony agreed. He flopped
down, taking the coffee and advil Dawn handed him. "Thanks,
Dawn." He gulped them both, letting her refill the cup. "I
had warned the insurance agent that there was one, which is why there
was 'remodeling'. He quipped about needing the hole in the floor
fixed anyway." Pepper smiled and nodded. "The scary thing is
that sensor. I looked those up. If you had gotten within a
foot of it, it could scan you. Anything near mine would've set it
off. So Callia and Chris could've." She grimaced but
nodded. "They're scary, Pepper."
"That company is not real healthy anyway," Dawn said, pulling up what
Phil had told her to look up. Stark looked it over and they nodded
that it was in a prime takeover spot. It would mean Stark
went back to selling weapons though. Not that Tony had anyone he'd
trust to take them over.
Tony looked at her. "I saw Clint's twin." She looked
confused. "There's a SWAT guy that looks *just* like him."
"Huh. Didn't know that." She sent that thought at him,
getting a 'not that I'm aware of' back. She pulled up the film
people had taken of the clean up and found him, printing it in their
suite for Clint to see.
Clint came in a minute later. "What the fuck?"
"Either you went back in time," Dawn said dryly. "Or your
doppleganger is a slightly cranked SWAT agent," she said dryly.
"Probably not." He stared at the enhanced picture, shaking his
head. "Yeah, he looks just like me. If I had relatives to
ask, I'd do that. Can you find his name for me?" Tony nodded
he had it. "Is he related?"
"Coulson was looking at that since he thought it was odd too," Tony said
dryly. "He found one that looks just like Dawn in New York being a
deb." He sipped his coffee. "None on Natasha yet though."
"Huh." They shared a look and shrugged then got back to
things. Clint took Liz with him. "C'mon, you. It's
more than time for Beya to change that low hanging thing. Diapers
are not hip huggers or gang boy pants." Pepper laughed and smiled
at him for that kindness.
"Have Beya tell her to do the P-thing," Dawn quipped.
"I can do that." He looked at her. "What P-thing?" She
cackled. "Sure, we'll both see." He walked her up to the
Stark suite and handed her to Beya. "She said to tell her to do
"Potty time," Callia quipped from where she was doing her
homework. Liz ran for the bathroom to stand up on the toilet and
pee for them.
Clint and Beya both stared then Clint nodded. "She has to teach
Philip that when it's time." He walked off. That would
definitely help his son learn to pee standing up instead of sitting down
like his mother wanted, and hey, no aiming issue if you were standing
on the toilet itself.
Beya took care of Liz once she was done. "That's very helpful,
Liz. Thank you." She got her cleaned up and rediapered,
sitting down to talk to her about potty things. Potty training was
a great thing. Diapers were horrible. Even with the
disposables that they had here on Midgard.
Dawn looked at her son. This was going to be their first real
separation. They were spending two human days on Asgard so she
could have some accelerated healing time. Which meant a month for
her and a weekend for Philip. Thankfully, Auntie Tara and Grandma
had decided to descend and take him in for the weekend instead of his
namesake uncle. Uncle Phil and Xander needed some non-kid time
too. This would mean he'd have the whole weekend free with Xander at
their special cabin while Clint, Dawn, and Natasha had one of the
others, nearer to Atlantis so they could check on the kids.
Artemis should be done with her training about now. Diana was
probably coming back with them if she wasn't staying on the city for a
while, and Sean was still struggling with his balance of warrior to
geek. Dawn kissed him and stared at him. "You be good for
the Auntie and Grandma. No being fussy." Philip was
grinning, he loved Tara. He wasn't paying a bit of attention to
Mommy. Dawn smiled. "Thanks, Tara."
"You need to get better faster before the geeks take over the city with
robots or something." She smiled. "We'll be
fine. We're staying here so Tony can talk Jonathan into
science too." They grinned and let Xander take them up to Asgard
with their shared bag of weapons and clothes. Tara smiled at
him. "You and the babies will get some cuddly time together.
You haven't seen Craig and Danielle recently, have you?" She put
him down between them. They were a year old now. Ancient by
Philip's standards. Which meant he had more fascinating older
girls to stare at in awe. Melissa was too because Philip was
Dawn looked around the cabin, doing a cleaning spell to get the dust
off. Xander rolled his eyes but took Phil to their cabin for the
weekend. Dawn tossed their bag onto the couch and pulled down her
hair. Clint kissed her and she smiled. "Thank you, kind
"You're most welcome." He kissed her again then Natasha, who was
going to steal Dawn from him. When she did, that was okay
too. Clint enjoyed them together just as much as he enjoyed his
time with each of them. "When are we checking on the kids?"
"Tomorrow," Dawn said.
"Good. Plenty of time to rest and let you get cuddly."
"I'm cuddly?" Dawn teased with a grin.
"Yes, you are." He cuddled her and she leaned against him. "See? You're very cuddly."
"I could like being so cuddly." They climbed into the queen sized
bed covered in quilts. It was just large enough for all of them
but small enough that they had to cuddle together for more than
warmth. Which was just fine with them.
Hades appeared, looking at Xander. "Thank you for giving me more
work." Xander grinned and ate a bite of dinner that Phil had made.
"Was there an incident I wasn't aware of?" Phil asked, staring at his mate. "I would've helped."
"No, each pantheon has to have someone to handle their dead," Hades
said, creating a chair and sitting down with a groan of pleasure.
"It's good to be off my feet."
"I could've named a new god of the dead for our House, but I decided I
liked Hades and he said he was bored." He ate another bite of
"So I've spent the last few months setting up an area for all of your
sort of dead." Hades smirked at Xander. "It meant I had to
do some rearranging but that's great according to 'Seph. She had
fun decorating for them." Xander smiled. "Also, I finally
got around to locking off your ex's field."
"His ex's have a *field*?" Phil asked flatly, looking from the God of
the Dead to his mate then back. "Why do they have a *field*
instead of individual things?"
"Because it's just easier," Hades said bluntly. "Before I gave
them their own area, they used to sneak out. A few went to help
with other punishments. A few went to break some of their friends
out of punishments. A few started an orgy or sixteen," he said
dryly, shooting Xander a dirty look. Xander shrugged
one-sidedly. "You're not going to comment?"
"They were good at it. Of course they wanted to continue that trend after they died."
Phil stared at Xander. "I'm aware of what you used to date."
Hades burst out cackling, nodding some. "How many are there?"
"Um.... No clue," he admitted. "I never kept that sort of
track, Phil. One at least every few years. Is Anya....."
"I'll let her in when she gets there. They were trying to spread
out to the new area to invite the new ones under you into their present
Phil shook his head as he cut a bite of chop. "Want a plate, Hades?"
"No thank you, Phil. I already ate." He smiled. "There's 612 people in that field."
"That's less than I would have expected." He ate a bite, staring
at his mate. Who was still grinning but now blushing a bit.
"Anyone notable he should've told me about?"
"There's a few warriors there. There's a few assassins. There's a succuba for some reason."
Xander shook his head. "Not my doing."
"Yes she was. She was human when you two dated then she decided
she wanted to change careers from a washer woman." Xander stared
at him, fork halfway to his mouth. Hades nodded. "Alina,
yes." Xander shook his head and ate that bite of dinner.
"Alina?" Phil asked.
"Late Greek, taking a vacation, she was the cleaning woman I hired for
the villa I rented. Kinda happened a few times when we got drunk,
and it was not just me. Thor was there. So were John and
Roque. I'm not sure if they saw her or not."
"She didn't remember them but you made such an impression she decided
she wanted to be a succuba," Hades said, showing Phil a picture of
her. Phil blinked at the slinky looking brunette with gold ribbons
in her hair and a skimpy, low backed black dress over her pale
skin. Hades banished the picture. "Both sets of twins are
taken with each other."
"Only two sets?"
"The other one is in punishment and won't be coming out, Xander.
They're a bit evil," Hades said dryly. "If they had gotten their
way, and hadn't been sidetracked with your dick, they would've taken
over the Roman Empire, expanded it, and still been like Caligula most of
the time. Thankfully Jonathan sent you to sex them up so their
plans got interrupted. They're not coming out of punishment."
"Three sets of twins?" Phil asked. Hades showed him the two sets
in that field, which were playing with each other. "I'm very glad
my twins will never learn to play with each other that way."
"No, Tara would freak out," Hades agreed, banishing that picture and
putting up another one. "That's Helleta. She's a former
warrior and I might give her the option of moving to your new one but
she's a bit...rough."
"She's the one that taught me how to get out of bondings," Xander
agreed. "And why I can't stand to be in really tightly enclosed
Hades looked at him. "Thoth's still pissed off that she took the
bindings off that mummy, wrapped you in them, and *stored* you in his
"Really?" Phil asked. Xander nodded quickly and stuffed his mouth, not looking at him. "Why?"
"She had to go beat some incoming problem army and wanted him safely
stored for her return," Hades quipped with a smirk for the younger
god. "Totally pissed Thoth off. Isis nearly wet herself
cackling when we rescued you because you were complaining so loudly but
no one else could hear you." He grinned at Phil. He liked
Phil a lot. "They took him in for a few days to feed and help him
calm down. We couldn't figure out where Xander was having his
hissy fit and panic attack for about a week and when we did find him, he
had finally calmed down enough to tell us, because she had drugged him
to get him in there and wrapped properly. He woke up and was
struggling with the bindings while having a swearing fit."
"I'll have to remember that so you can't get too enclosed," he said,
blinking at his mate. "Anything else I should know might cause a
reaction, Xander?" He ate a bite of chop.
Xander shrugged slightly and stuffed his mouth, still not looking at him. "Not really."
"No, there's really not," Hades sighed. "He had a lot of pretty,
slightly sinister ones in there. They're still holding orgies
every Saturday because it was his favorite day for *years*." He
rolled his eyes and looked at the younger god. "Also, as a note,
you will have to do some planning, young man. Some of us do
realize, even if the more hidebound don't. Or her."
Xander nodded, looking at his mate. "Do you want to be the Consort of the Gods?"
"Better than Queen of them I suppose, especially with your hyena
matriarch taint," he said blandly, stuffing his mouth. "But I'm
not putting on the pretty gown and tiara."
Xander smiled. "I'd never expect you to, Phil." He looked at Hades. "We don't want to upset things."
"You're not. No one who's not had to be picked realizes,
Xander." He stood up and sent his chair back to his house.
"You still need healing gods."
"You need messengers."
"We have a lot of people with visions and I'll find an official one from the military. Maybe Jensen."
Hades considered it. "How would he be a messenger?"
"Anytime I need to contact everyone, he sends out the text messages,"
Phil and Xander said together. Xander grinned at him.
Phil smirked slightly. "Does this mean we're not a House, we're a
Pantheon?" Xander nodded. "Because of us?" Xander
nodded again. "Okay. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because if he says it out loud, other Gods will hear," Hades said
bluntly. "Which might freak some out. Especially since you
guys hang out up here on Asgard."
"Some of them would, yes. And hey, I have to appoint a love
goddess. So if the trio somehow get made immortal, that's my head
of love, my head of war, and I'll find something for Dawnie."
"If so, ask Stark."
"I thought about that but he'd freak out without the others. And having to watch the kids would suck, Phil."
"It will." He stared at him. Xander gave him a slight
grin. "We'll talk about that later, after I paddle you for having
had three sets of twins."
"A few of them, Jonathan set up because he was our head of demigod
intelligence gathering. He picked them specifically so Xander
could screw up their missions and goals." Xander nodded
quickly. "Though they were some of the most *interesting*
ones." He disappeared.
Xander shrugged. "There should be double that, not that few."
Phil chewed slowly. Then swallowed and sipped some of his
ale. "I knew you were alive for a long time, Xander, and I knew
you had a lot of sexual partners." Xander grinned. "I don't
mind that. Twins... maybe."
"The stamina I built from them helped a lot with Anya."
"I'm sure it did." He ate another bite and pointed with his
fork. "Eat, you'll need the calories in a bit." Xander
beamed and dug in, wiggling some. Phil slotted that into what he
knew about Xander. "What about the ones that John set you up
with? Did you mind that?"
"Kinda but he usually had reasons and he usually only asked if it was
something he couldn't do himself and they were already attracted to
me. Usually I was willing because I was alone anyway." He
looked at him. "Sometimes you gotta do the sexpionage thing to
save the world."
"I have a few times." Xander growled. He smiled. "Back
in my much younger days, Xander. Not anytime in the last decade."
Phil smirked slightly. "I'm not exactly pretty enough for
it. Barton still is and there had been a few he would've been
asked to go on if Fury wasn't certain it would've gotten him killed by
Romanoff or Dawn."
"Huh." He ate a bite. "Yeah, I'd help her destroy him for
that. Then Barton." He dug in again. "So we have to
make a few decisions."
"I really am not wearing any sort of ostentatious crown."
"Not my thing either. What about a circlet? They can be
simpler." Phil stared at him. "It might have to be done."
"Who do we have as God of Forging Things?"
"Stark if he's somehow made immortal. If not, Hephie or one of the
Celtic ones might for us." He grinned. "If they get turned
immortal we can find things for all of them to do."
"That might keep them out of trouble but I doubt anyone would make them immortal."
"Dawn is until she has a daughter to soak up a Key."
Phil considered that. "They're not actively trying but that could be good to know. Do they?"
"Dawn does. I'm pretty sure Clint figured it out."
"Hm." He ate another bite and pointed with his fork. "You're
still getting it later." Xander smiled and dug in. "How
many positions do we have to fill?"
"Not that many. We have people to do a lot of it. John's my
head of intelligence. Roque my House's Protector and Hunting
Phil nodded that was reasonable as he dug into his vegetables.
Xander was trying to ignore them. "Eat the green things too," he
ordered with a smile. "You need the healthy stuff, Xander."
Xander nodded but dug in. "Who's our Chaos god?"
"I don't know," Xander admitted. "I can appoint someone. I
wouldn't want to appoint Dad. I'd have to pay too much attention
to him. I like Janus. He's done good with me in the
past. His whole costume thing was super helpful to me then.
Coyote's nice." He shrugged. "We'll figure it out."
"Sure." They finished eating and Phil put the dishes in the sink
so the automatic spell could happen. He turned and found Xander
naked on the couch. "Bed, Xander. I'm too old to have sex on
the couch and so are you." Xander grinned as he ran up the
stairs. Phil banked the fire and went up there to find Xander
naked on top of the covers. It was a bit cool in the house.
Xander's body was reacting to it. Phil did a warming charm on the
room and stripped off. "Cold will make you not get as hard and
that would be a shame when I make you scream, Xander." Xander
moaned. Phil smirked a tiny bit and moved closer. He kissed
him and suddenly pulled them both into elemental forms. They went
from two balls into one ball and Xander did indeed scream in pleasure,
many times. When they separated out to two balls again and then
back into humans, Xander was panting, clutching the sheets and Phil was
licking over his cock that had just spewed like a volcano. "Very
nice. Let's do more of that."
Xander looked at him. "That's evil."
Phil smirked slightly. "No it's not. It's stamina building
and exercising off the excellent dinner I made." He slid into his
mate's body, he had prepped him during their elemental time. Well,
really, touching one of them was like touching them both so they were
both open and slick. Which could come in handy later. He
hauled Xander up, kissing him. "Ride me."
Xander smiled. "Like a pony ride?" he teased. Phil thrust up and Xander moaned. "Oh, that's a good pony."
"I'm not a pony, Xander. I'm not a short anything. Tease me
like that again and I'm going to make you extremely sorry."
"You'd leave me hanging?" Xander pouted. Phil nodded. "That is really mean, Phil."
"Yes, it is, to both of us. So be a good boy."
"Yes, my stallion." He kissed him as he started to ride his mate's
cock. "I was having a cock needing day anyway," he teased.
"I could tell. It was like an empty cavern that needed
filled." Xander moaned and rode him harder. Phil stroked
down to his hips, holding him firmly. Xander shifted nicely for
him. It was good. Xander was good. Xander was panting
and swallowing air so Phil kissed him. "Slow down, Xander.
I'm not nearly ready for you to come yet. If you do, we'll have to
go back to elemental form." Xander moaned a deep, rumbling moan
that Phil felt through his own chest. He smirked. "I think
you like that."
"Do," he panted. He pulled them back together that way. It
was like he was fucking himself on his own cock but he was also
surrounded by Phil's essence. It was everything and not nearly
enough at the same time. He needed physical *touch*. He
needed the sound of Phil's heavy breathing, he needed to be both at
once. Phil had no idea how to do that for him but he could manage
it. He had seen something that had said they could do that.
It was a different form of elemental form. Xander slowly merged
them to do that and his scream of pleasure when he managed it was loud
enough that the local village heard. When he came, it was so hard,
his magic flashed out and lit up the surrounding area with it.
The locals could feel it was pleasure and a few got the same urge to
celebrate. It was good for them. It was great for Xander and
Of course, they were slightly stuck but they could handle that.
Now Xander understood when Dawn said that Clint had redefined religious for her. Phil had done it for him.
In Valhalla Odin slowly put down his mead mug, looking at the other gods. "Who be that?" he demanded calmly and quietly.
Loki appeared, buffing his nails on his vest. "That be my son, All
Father." He smirked up at him. "They have managed that
secondary elemental form. Of course, they're using it for sexual
relations." He gave Freya a smug look since she hadn't even
managed a single version. Frigg was sobbing over that. Loki
smirked. "He makes my son *very* happy." He disappeared,
going to wait on them to wake up. Because that, more than anything
else he had seen of their powers, told him that Gaia was no longer in
the head of all Pantheons spot. Somehow his son had changed the
entire world order around. And he wanted some of that.
Odin cleared his throat. "Tyr?"
"Yes, All Father, that is Xander's powers I feel."
"I knew not that they had merged."
"They had merged way back when they got deathly ill," John said,
appearing with a smile. "I hereby declare that Xander, God
Protector of Humanity, and Phil, God of Heros, are eternally mated and
none shall sunder them." Gongs rang out in all the
pantheons. He smiled at the ruling couple. Freya looked
horrified. "I hereby declare that Xander now elevates his house
from House to Pantheon. Long live the Pantheon of Humanity's
Protection." Bells and gongs rang again, in each and every
pantheon's meeting area. Even the dead ones were hearing ringing
from their afterlives. John bowed to Odin and Frigg. "Thank
you for letting him continue to use his cabins for their vacation time,
Odin All Father." Odin grunted but waved a hand for him to
go. He disappeared to the cabin.
"Why are bells ringing and gongs too?" Xander shouted.
"Because you got too obvious, dumbass. We just had to announce that you had elevated to a pantheon."
"That's fine. You're my head of intelligence."
"That too if you want it. If not, Diama's getting a position in it."
"That's fine. What about the trio?"
"If they become immortal, Barton's my God of War. Natasha's my
Goddess of Desires, and we'll find a spot in your house for Dawn."
"Cool." He went to check on them then back to Atlantis. In a
tiny room up in a tower most of the people on the city couldn't see,
those that weren't at least demigods, bells and gongs were
ringing. He found Dr. Peter looking up then at him. "They
flashed *so* hard into that second elemental form during sex."
"Interesting. There's going to be a shit storm coming."
John smiled. "That's why we had to announce it, before they could nag."
"Might help, yeah. That means we'll have to have a banquet."
"The next one is going to be very interesting but we don't have to throw
it. The Goddess Tea Society will probably be getting ansty soon
and call one." He strolled off. His mother appeared.
"Son, Krishna wanted to talk to you about why you prompted such noise."
He grinned. "I'll go visiting in a few minutes, Mom. I have
to get someone to help with something first." She huffed but
disappeared. He went to talk to Mari and Rodney. "Mari, you
know he'd probably have a spot for you."
"I know." She smiled. "I wouldn't care one way or another
but I need this curse taken off. I'm sick and tired of my own
"I'll talk to him about it, and Krishna since he just called." He
smiled and disappeared, going there. He bowed before Lord Krishna,
who was lounging on his pile of pillows with his wife demurely sitting
beside him playing a sitar. "Sire."
"Jonathan." He stared at him. "There was much noise just now
and it felt as if you proclaimed something. Should not that
happen in front of your natal families?"
"I did it in front of the other natal family of who it was about, Lord Krishna."
"What did Xander do this time?" he asked with a smile.
"He managed a second elemental form with Phil during sex." Krishna
sat up, staring at him. The music stopped. John smiled at
him. "I announced the elevation of the House."
"I figured that's what the bells were. What was the first set?"
"The eternal mating announcement," he said quietly. Gods all
around them went nuts. "Since it couldn't be hidden due to that
flash of power they let out." He shifted his weight as he sent a
thought at Xander and Phil. They were still having sex and were
working on another elemental form. He held up a hand and everyone
went silent. They could barely feel it when Xander and Phil
managed the last elemental form, the one that took them into
Creation. John smiled at Krishna and his wife. "I believe
that shows that the gongs were correct."
Krishna sensed that way and nodded slowly. "They do. Gaia will cry on someone."
"She set them up. Even if they fought it, she did start it."
He shrugged. "As once upon a time, a Titan ate his children to
start their downfall, so has she created one that would mean some day
she'll have to go back to being the Goddess of Earth."
"So the new Pantheon of Humanity is elevated," his mother said.
"The Pantheon of Humanity's Protection, Mother."
She swallowed. "He has adopted many of the demigods into it for
their protection." John smiled and nodded. "Are they
shifting powers toward them?"
"The only one that has asked for a boon is Mari so that curse of hers
can be taken off and she can finally find a mate without losing
herself." He looked at Krishna.
"I always thought that was stupid anyway," he admitted, glaring at the one who had done it. "Remove it. Today."
"I shall, Sire," she said, looking down.
Krishna stared at John. "You glow with a new marking, my scion."
"I am the head of the House of Intelligence for Xander when he gets
around to naming positions. So far he has only named Hades to one
for their honorable dead. Which I believe means that Hades told
Phil about some of Xander's ex's, which prompted the pouncing that drew
them that close."
Krishna swallowed but nodded. "Some of his ex's I'd want to make
him forget as well." His wife giggled and patted his hand.
He smiled at her then at John. "Roque?"
"God of Hunters, as ever he has been."
"Interesting. The others?"
"I know not. He hasn't discussed that with me. He has
discussed what to do if some of the ones under Phil ascend to immortal
status. Other than that, they're acting like nothing has changed."
"I see." He looked around the room then at John. "Atlantis is doing well?"
"She's doing quite well, Sire." He grinned. "She's adapted beautifully to the snow and lake she's on."
"Excellent. How long?"
"Few more months."
"Even better." He swallowed again. "Xander should come talk to us."
"I think they're still busy, Lord Krishna. Considering I can hear
him chanting for mercy from Phil's tongue, I'd say it's going to be a
"I have had a few nights like that," he admitted, stroking over his wife's hair, earning a smile.
"Xander was realizing what Dawn meant when she said her husband had redefined religious for her."
"Then it is good for them. I wish Mari much health when she is
able to find hers." He smiled at John. "What of yours?"
"I have no one I'm interested in, Lord Krishna, and am actively avoiding
love goddess and motherly urgings." He rolled his eyes then
smiled and disappeared.
"The head of such a major house should not be single," John's mother complained.
Krishna looked at her. "Unlike Xander, who accidentally found his
perfect mate, I don't think it will happen with Jonathan. He does
not have your other son's luck issues. His would probably turn
"Fine," she complained.
Steve, Bucky, Pepper, and Steve were meeting with Gunn, Faith, and
Connor at their headquarters. They had to talk about the upcoming
problems in LA that spring. Steve smiled. "Faith, Connor,
Gunn, this is Bucky Barnes. He served with me during the war and
then the Russians made him a super soldier."
Faith shook his hand. "Welcome to demon hunting."
"I've seen a few vampires but nothing like this." He shook the
other two's hands. "Stark pulled up footage from the invasion a
few years back."
"Yeah, that one sucked monkey ass," Faith agreed, leading them to the
work area. "This is all we've been able to find out. We
could use Dawn's kitten poker skills but she's been banned locally
because she caught a few cheaters that have status."
"Which we enjoy since it nearly got her in trouble a few times," Tony
quipped. He settled in to look over what they had. "How much
of this has hit SHIELD?" He looked at them.
"None," Faith admitted. "The liaison agent out here is a bit creepy. If we had seen Phil we would've told him."
Connor nodded. "I'm going to beat the local guy to death soon with
a club. He kept asking Faith if she'd volunteer some blood."
"Why?" Pepper asked.
"Not sure," Faith admitted. "I'm not sure if he's going to try something or if he's trying to figure out something."
"I'll have that checked into," Steve said. She grinned at him. "Just yours?"
"The ones in Cleveland had a creepy agent but he managed to get bitten,"
Gunn said, settling into a chair. "I'm not sure if it was
arranged or by who."
"That'll be stopped. Phil will throw a fit," Steve said with a
slight grin. "I'll talk to him when he's back from his weekend on
"Thanks," Connor said. "Can we get the local guy changed before I'm tempted to have him eaten?"
"We can try," Pepper said, patting him on the shoulder. "You need a haircut."
Connor looked at her. "Not my mom, Pepper."
"So?" She smiled. "Dawn would say the same thing."
"Probably but she's not my mom either. Even if Philip is adorably scowling like I do."
"We've figured out that Philip has his favorite parent but if he doesn't
check in with the other two he'll throw fits," Pepper said with a
smile. "I'm hoping Tara doesn't have a huge problem with him this
weekend because they're taking the weekend off too."
"She shouldn't," Tony said. "They'll all cuddle him when he gets
back. Her kids are more than enough distraction for Philip."
He tapped one page. "How reliable?"
"Very," Faith said. "Which sucks because that's bigger than the invasion was if I remember right."
Tony nodded. "It is." He handed it to Steve, who read it and
handed it to Bucky. "Okay. So we're talking a city ending
event. How can we stop it before it happens?"
"It's all there," Gunn said. "We can't get there to take out the
head people, and they're not going to listen to anyone even if we
did. Even with the idiot emperor that Xander took out, we'd never
get it stopped."
Tony nodded. "Okay. Is this in retaliation for that?"
The three demon hunters shook their heads. "Good. I'd hate
that." He took the sheet back to go over it again. "Any idea
"There's not many places to put a steady portal in the city," Faith
said. "Most of it's blocked by the Sunnydale radiation problem and
a few blessed areas. So like the invasion, there's only so many
places they can put it, unless they move it to the Valley. Or the
desert. Either one's a good place for it. Palm Springs is a
possible but not a likely because there's no support there for a
permanent portal. The desert has a few of those rock arch things."
"Which we can't really break," Pepper said.
"Could they make a traveling one?" Bucky asked. "Send it through
first and switch the portal to it? I have no idea how magic stuff
works," he said when Connor stared at him.
"I don't know," Faith admitted. "And I can't get hold of Giles. He's in Bermuda doing something."
"Research conference," Pepper said. "I called." She tapped
out a message to Tara to please ask someone in the coven about
that. "If we have to, we can ask that Magus-wannabe. He said
he's dealt with some interdimensional portals before."
Tony nodded. "We might have to, or have Coulson ask one of the higher beings."
"The PTB won't answer," Faith snorted.
Pepper smiled. "Xander and Phil can ask others that do."
"I totally forgot about Boytoy being godly," she admitted, staring at Gunn.
"It can help."
She nodded. "Could, yeah." She looked at Pepper again.
Then at Bucky. "Any other ideas that they might have?"
"Can we get some sort of surveillance? Even by whatever that staring in the water thing Callia was practicing is?"
"Scrying," Connor said. "I don't know if you can scry other realms or not."
Tony looked at him. "What was she watching?"
"Her pets. She said she had to practice. The coven had taught her and told her to practice."
"Is there part of that coven out here?" Pepper asked.
Tony shook his head. "There's a few out here that they trust to
guide her. They're of the strong, uptight, backbones of steel,
women don't do things like science sort though." He leaned back in
his chair. "One of them had a fit at her daughter for daring to
want to be a veterinarian. They're supposed to be Mothers of the
Earth, not women who serve those that live on earth."
"Should've heard it when one of the local kids with healing gifts didn't
want to become a nurse or a doc," Faith snorted. "Not even one of
"There's plenty of ways to heal people without using magic," Pepper
said. "Plus healing people magically is dangerous from what we've
"It can be," Gunn agreed. "That one hates the sight of blood. She wants to work construction."
"You need to do what makes you happy in life," Tony said. "There's
going to be plenty of opportunities for her to use any special gifts
she might have with accidents and if she has a family some
year. Plus, not everyone considers having gifts like that a
blessing. Even Callia hates hers sometimes. There's been
plenty of times she wanted to be normal."
"There's been a few times I wanted to be normal again too so I could do
things that normal guys could do, like get drunk after really bad
battles to forget how bad they were for a few hours," Steve said.
"We had a talk about that."
Bucky nodded. "I'm glad she's got those too. It means she's a lot more normal than she thinks."
"Which means we've done a pretty decent job," Pepper said with a smile for him.
"You have. She's the most normal, centered geek in the whole compound. One of the most moral too."
Steve smiled, that was a lot of his and Pepper's doing. "She's a good girl."
"She'll have her moments when she wants to destroy humanity, like the
first time she's dumped," Tony quipped with a grin. "I nearly
built a genetic based bomb." Pepper swatted him. "Mom heard
about it from a friend in the press and she came down to make me talk
about it instead. I had a few pretty volatile years in
there. Most teens do."
"No, not us," Bucky and Steve said together.
"You two had each other to calm the other one down," Pepper said
dryly. "I had a few girlfriends. Tony was pretty well stuck
in the house those years." Steve shuddered and hugged him.
Tony smiled and patted his hand. "Why did Howard change so much
about Callia? He went from 'you'll do' to 'you'll give me a
"Dawn had a 'this is your hell' talk with him according to JARVIS," Tony
said with a smug look. "She also had a talk about how long
slayers lasted now instead of how long they used to last."
Faith nodded. "I've lasted over a decade."
Bucky blinked. "Slayers used to last a few months," he said, looking at Steve.
"Then Callia's mom, Buffy, was chosen," Steve said, grinning back.
"She had backup from Xander, who was stuck on the hellmouth with
radiation poisoning, and Willow, who we do not speak of. She was a
witch." Bucky nodded slowly. "I'll go over all that
later. But the backup helped Buffy. Then they ended up
taking down the Council when they tried to take out Buffy due to the NID
making her pregnant with Callia. Since then, the girls get backed
up by SHIELD, they get treated as soldiers and get training. The
one girl/one watcher system was fully broken for good."
"I didn't know Callia was on the list," Bucky said.
Tony nodded. "Really far down but yeah, she is." He looked
at Faith. "Dawn found out that most slayers are infertile."
"Yeah, I am," she said, nodding slightly. "I wondered about that."
"Dawn had a vision where Callia was going to have a teenage pregnancy,"
Pepper said. "She's only the fourth slayer to give birth."
"So prompting from on high?" Gunn asked. Pepper nodded.
"Huh. So maybe they'll go into demon hunting when they're
older. Take our places," he told Connor.
"Could be," he agreed. "That might be nice." He looked at Tony. "You okay with that?"
"Hell no," he snorted. "If there's a reason I might like to know why it has to be her."
"Genetic advantages," Pepper said. "Pre-slayers don't have any gifts but Callia is a bit stronger and faster naturally."
"That one guy Robin who was after Spike for taking out his slayer momma wasn't a slouch either," Faith said, looking at Gunn.
"No, he wasn't. He wasn't really on par with a slayer or a vampire but he was better than average."
"I'm wondering if that ATA thing might matter," Steve said.
"No, Dawn found out Callia doesn't but Liz does," Pepper said.
"If the Ancients knew about slayers then they probably wouldn't have
wanted them activating any of the tech," Tony said. "We can ask
Atlantis through JARVIS."
"It might be something to find out," Pepper agreed.
"ATA?" Bucky asked, followed by Gunn.
"The stuff Stargate found from the Ancients takes a gene sequence to
activate," Tony said. "That came out a few months back."
They shrugged, they weren't paying attention to that. "Well,
anyway, they named it the Ancient Tech Activation gene or
something. In normal people it can make them a bit better
"But slayers don't show it?" Gunn asked.
"Callia doesn't," Pepper said. "I don't think we tested Buffy's before she died."
"Yes I did," Tony said. "I kept a reference sample on hand and
when I heard that I did have it tested. She didn't. I doubt
Faith or the others would since the ones in Cleveland don't. I had
Coulson check." He looked at her. "We're pretty sure
Ancients hated demons."
"Good point." She shifted. "That might explain that then, yup." She looked at Bucky then at Tony.
"Yeah, he does. He shows a lesser level of the warrior
levels." He looked at Bucky. "There's two basic groups of
levels we've seen. One lesser one that seems to go into scientists
and the like and one higher level version that goes into warriors and
the like. They have differing levels between the two groups but
most of the scientists that have one are weaker in it and most of the
soldiers that have one are higher in it."
"Don't know," Tony admitted. "It's just now showing back up in our
DNA. We ran some ancient DNA samples they've pulled from burial
pits. It stopped showing up for the most part in ancient Egypt and
Greece, and a few in Central American cultures, then suddenly returned
in the last fifty years."
"How prevalent?" Bucky asked.
"The SGC did some testing from samples at a few blood banks. They
have to pull samples to test for diseases and typing so they added in
this test with those. They found less than one percent had it."
"So elite of elite," Steve said. Tony smiled and nodded. "What about the higher levels of scientists?"
"O'Neill leaked the ATA stuff accidentally but it let them look at the
scientific community. I let him talk to our geeks to see if they'd
volunteer those few drops of blood needed. At the top levels, the
ones that are Nobel quality, five percent. It's about seven or
eight at most graduate programs they looked at. A lot of them drop
out though or get taken in by shadier corporations or the
government. In soldiers, the top levels based on physical testing
and abilities like skilled pilots and the like, that was about
ten. Just over."
"Which makes sense," Steve decided. "They wouldn't have wanted
just anyone activating it. The best of the best breed, make more
mini ATA babies, and slowly it comes back while those that can teach."
Tony nodded. "That's what we figured. Interestingly enough,
Liz shows it, Dawn shows it, and Barton shows it. He's got a top
level warrior version. Dawn and Liz's are both subdued but not too
low into the scientist levels."
"So, stronger genes than geeks but less than warriors," Steve
said. "Is that because....." He waved a hand. Tony
nodded. "I remember that day. I had forgotten about it
because it didn't really seem relevant. Then we can maybe use that
as a test for future Avengers members."
"The ones on the backup teams mostly are," Tony said. "The few
that aren't, are actually exceptional in other ways." He
smiled. "They did it unconsciously."
"Does Clay?" Pepper asked.
"No clue. The Yellow Fur genes and virus overwrote their
DNA. Presently no. Before, no clue. Jensen
doesn't. His whole people don't."
"That blond computer geek in the glasses at the temple?" Bucky asked, frowning some. "He's not human?"
"Dragon people," Steve said with a grin.
"What's a Yellow Fur?" Gunn asked.
"Pegasus werewolf," Connor quipped. "Buffy told us but you were out when she was complaining about it."
"Huh. Are they moon phase?"
"Emotion," Tony said. "They're very pack oriented too. If
one goes into heat, the whole pack fixes it." Faith shivered,
hugging herself. He grinned at her. "Yeah. Especially
since Colonel Clay was put into heat by Roque's mother wanting
grandkids. Thankfully they stopped it before any of that was
"Damn, I didn't need that happy thought tonight," she complained. They all laughed.
Pepper looked up at the gongs going off. Then bells and gongs. "What's going on? Is that an alarm?"
"The last time we heard gongs like that, Xander and Phil were bonding,"
Steve said dryly, looking up. "Must we hear that too?" It
didn't stop. "Apparently we do," he sighed. They faded
out. "Phil said that they seemed to happen whenever they bonded or
something huge got announced."
Faith nodded. "That's another dirty thought I did not need,
Cappy." She walked off rubbing her arms. At least she had a
boyfriend she could break at the moment. One of Gunn's guys who
appreciated her stronger/faster/better stamina skills in the bedroom and
Gunn texted his buddy to let him know Faith could use a helping dick and
hand then put his phone up. "She's dating one of my gang."
Pepper smiled at him. "How're the ones in Cleveland doing?"
"Two are still there and one's roaming with an agent backing her up,"
Steve said. "There had been a few problems that agents had run
into and needed to call on them to help with. They switch off
doing that every six months."
"Wonderful," Connor agreed. "Means they get a vacation and get to use
the exceptional weapons now and then." He grinned. "That's
gotta be fun."
"Keep it up, we'll send you to San Diego to deal with theirs," Gunn joked.
"I'd probably end up busting into that comic con thing they showed on tv with all the demons hiding as people."
"They do?" Pepper asked.
Gunn nodded. "Some cosplay in costume, some go as their normal
self since they can hide in plain sight. Some cosplay as humans."
Bucky shook his head. "I saw that. I'll never understand that."
Steve smiled. "There's an Avengers fandom convention." Bucky shuddered, heading out to the car.
"Did you get invited to speak too?" Tony quipped with a grin for him.
"Nope." He followed Bucky to calm him down. That was a nasty thought.
Tony grinned at Pepper. "I accepted for you, Tony, and Dawn's
already got it on your schedule." He rolled his eyes but they got
back to business.
Phil woke up to the feeling of a slick cock sliding into his body,
smiling sleepily at his mate. "Good morning to you too."
Xander grinned, leaning down to kiss him. He finished sliding in,
making Phil arch up and moan. "That's nice, Xander. Do more
"It's my turn to turn you as brainless as I got turned last night," he
said, taking another kiss. He joined their hands, pressing down on
Phil's hands to hold him in place while he slowly and gently rode
him. In and out slowly, pausing often at the apexes of the thrust
line to let Phil savor that spot. He was sweating hard and Phil
was trying to get him to go faster and harder but it was good. It
was driving them both nuts. Phil moaned and arched up.
Xander smiled and nibbled on his mark on Phil's throat. "All
"All yours," he panted. "Please, Xander? You're being an evil tease like Dawn is."
"Yes, I am where she learned it from," he said in his mate's ear, making
him shiver. He pushed in all the way and let himself rest
there while they kissed. Phil was a great kisser and it was always
good with him. Phil tried to get him to move, and when that
didn't work, to flip them around. Xander laughed and pulled him
closer. "You are my home," he said in his ear, nibbling on
it. "The home for all of me to rest." Phil moaned.
"Pray for mercy, Phil. I love getting your prayers. They
make my whole body clench and yearn." Phil sent up a prayer for
mercy and Xander shivered. Xander sent one back and Phil
whimpered, pulling him around to kiss him properly. "We're each
other's high priest, do you realize that." He grinned and pulled
back to thrust in again, slowly and carefully. Phil groaned,
clamping down on it. Xander smiled, letting him have some say in
how things would go. "Want more or less?"
"More, much, much more." He flipped them over and held Xander down
so he could ride him at the speed and depth he wanted. He could
finally ease the ache that the slow, steady thrusting had caused.
He *needed*. Xander let him for a while then started to distract
him by stroking Phil's cock off-rhythm. Which broke his steady
pace and changed it without Phil realizing. Phil moaned and tried
to speed up but Xander knocked him out of it again with his cock.
It was frustrating but it was so *good*. All he wanted right now
was *more*. It had to be *more*. He shivered and changed to
the rhythm Xander changed to, which gave him more of what he wanted - a
little bit faster, letting him go a bit harder. Then Xander was
evilly slowing him down but he whimpered and kept it up. The
stroking was nice but he was going to set the pace for this
debauching. All he wanted was harder and faster and deeper and he
was going to take it. Xander flipped him onto his back suddenly
and pounded into him for a few minutes, making Phil shriek with pleasure
as that's what his body was craving, but then the slower pace
returned. Inching in and out slowly, patiently, until Phil was
losing his mind and he was going to stop that.
He needed more. He needed Xander to do more. Xander clearly
read his mind because he added more force to the slow thrusts but it was
still too slow and it was a horrible time to tease him. This
might make him turn evil, it really might. He didn't want to be
evil to Xander to get what he wanted but if Xander didn't quit teasing
him then he was going to have to get creatively evil. Xander
chuckled in his ear, so he knew he had said that out loud. Or
their minds were connected again. He didn't care!
He rolled them over, taking over again, leaning down to kiss Xander so
he couldn't distract him this time. Phil was hydroplaning on
Xander's sweaty chest. His own sweat was dripping off him to add
to the puddle on Xander's body. It was incredibly sexy and Phil
wanted more of it too. Xander suddenly grabbed his hips and thrust
up hard, just once, hitting his prostate. Phil shouted and came
hard, going to elemental form without realizing it. He came back
panting, staring at Xander, who was still hard and smirking.
"Yes, you're damned to an eternity of me," Xander said quietly, stroking
through the sweaty hair. "But I'll make it a great forever
whenever I can, Phil." Phil stared at him. Xander smiled and
flipped them back over to go back to riding Phil until he was mindless,
acting on instinct, just letting it all go again. Phil was
shivering, the sweat trying to dry as he built back up to the state of
brainless. Xander smiled because Phil was very vocal today.
Usually he wasn't. He'd find some way to mute the noises.
This time, he wasn't able to and it was glorious sounding. It
drove him higher and harder than even the connection with his mate was.
"Fuck!" Phil shouted when he was trying to come and Xander changed rhythm to stop it. "Xander!"
"I am, Phil."
Phil kissed him. "Not that meaning of the word and we're not fucking. We're making love, Xander."
"We are." He kissed him, grinning at him. "Fucking takes a
quick thing and this is anything but fast." Phil nodded, staring
up at him. He smirked evilly and changed how he was thrusting
again. Phil tensed up and wrapped himself around Xander's body,
making him do more. "That's no fair."
"Neither are you."
"No, I'm a tease today."
"Xander, come for me," he begged hoarsely. "Please?" Xander
moaned and sped up again, doing as his mate had begged for. He
loved Phil being brought to begging. Xander finally came and
leaned down to lick across the head of Phil's cock to bring him off that
last time. Phil moaned and came, going limp in a sweaty heap of
flesh, bones, and hair. Xander laid down next to him but Phil
pulled him closer and kissed him hard. "Mine."
"Your's," Xander agreed, cuddling with him. It was great how Phil
liked to cuddle. They could deal with all the petty shit
later. Right now, all he had to worry about was Phil.
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