Handyman Old Ones Fix Things.
Phil sighed. "Damn it."
Doctor Keller walked over. "It's got to be temporary, Agent Coulson."
"Do I know you?" Xander asked.
Phil nodded, leaning on the footboard. "I'm your spouse."
"Oh, that's cool." He drifted off again.
Phil looked at her. "He had some swelling," she reminded
him. "It's only half down. Once it's fully down it should be
better." Phil nodded, standing up. "Sit beside him,
Coulson. It can only help. Sheppard's waking up too."
She moved to look at him. "Colonel, do you remember why you're
"Plane crash," he said weakly, eyes barely open. She nodded. "Backlash?"
"You're not married."
He blinked at her. "Yes I am."
"No, you're not." She patted him on the foot. "Rest,
Colonel. You have some brain swelling and I'm pretty sure a
migraine on top of it. We'll talk about that later." He fell
back asleep when the nurse hit his IV with a sedative at her
motion. She looked up. "Why me?" She made notes and
got things ready for when they woke up next time. She heard McKay
coming. "Oh, no." She went out to stop him. "He has
backlash like Xander did the second time he came up here with it.
He's got a migraine and he woke up long enough to ask for his
wife. He doesn't need your bitching." She stared at
him. "You will not bitch, whine, or cause me problems. Am I
He nodded, swallowing. "I can do that." He walked in there. "What happened?" he asked Phil.
"Joyce's plane home had an engine failure," Phil said quietly.
"John finished the landing when Dawn and Xander ran out of power."
"Fuck," Rodney muttered. Keller glared at him. "What?"
He settled himself next to his best friend's bed. "Are they
"Last I knew yes."
"Good. He'd probably never forgive himself if he didn't manage the unmanageable."
"Xander too." He let his mind rest. He had a light headache
himself. One of the nurses got him some water and tylenol.
"Thank you," he said quietly.
She nodded. One of the other nurses had a shoe that squeaked each
time she walked. Xander threw a power ball at her, but Phil
stopped it before it got near her. The nurse smiled.
"He did that the last time right before he started to float all the
time. It's a great sign." She helped her fellow nurse out of
the infirmary shoeless so she could go change. And her panties
since they were a bit wet.
Joyce wouldn't wake up, no matter how often Clint stared at her.
Dawn was barely trying to wake. It wasn't a good thing.
Stark was trying to hover. Clint finally looked at him.
"Find Banner." He nodded, going to do that. Clint went back
to staring at his wife and mother-in-law. He had been told about
the two-week miscarriage. He wasn't upset. Someone had sent
him a message saying that Strange had showed up to try to stop
her. That he wasn't going to take. If he showed up again, he
was a dead bastard. He linked back into Dawn's mind to check on
her. She was in there arguing with someone. He faced the
guy. "What is your problem?"
"She was blasting onto the other side of the light field," Dr. Strange said.
"She was saving the plane her mother was on. No one on this realm
considers that any bit evil." Strange backed off. He stepped
forward. "For that matter, fuck the hell off! This isn't
even your realm! Unless you move here to take over a shitload of
her battle duties, it's not your business! If you come back
again, be prepared to have your brain pierced." Strange faded
out. He looked at her. "Hey, you okay?" He wasn't sure
if that was her figment and worry or the real one. Didn't much
matter. He pulled her into his arms. "Hey." She looked
up at him. "Your mom's in the next bed. She's
sleeping. They said she had a small clot in her arm and they're
busting it up. Could've been there for months they said."
"I can't feel her. I can't feel you or Tasha or the baby."
"That's because you've got a brain that's swelling hard," he said.
"You have backlash like Xander did." She shivered. He
wrapped his arms around her tighter. "I'm warm. Warm up
against me." She did. He sent a thought at Natasha.
She came out of her meditation to look at the doctors. "Dawn's chilled?"
"We're hoping it helps the swelling," Shivs said quietly.
"She's cold." He smiled and put a blanket over her torso, arms,
and legs. That would keep all but her head warm. After a few
minutes they turned the chiller down so it was warmer for her.
Joyce was trying to wake up. Natasha walked over, pushing her hair
off her forehead. "It's all right, Joyce. You're safe."
She blinked at her. "Bruce...." She raised her hand to the side of her neck. "He ...he hurt me."
Natasha nodded. "You were about to be in a plane crash and he
didn't want that to be your last memory." Joyce relaxed and
nodded. Natasha got her some water. "We know he's in a
hospital and Stark's calling there to get him moved here. He's got
"Why am I on an IV?"
"They found a small blood clot in your arm."
"Like the one I got from that medicine?"
"I'm not sure. Possibly." Joyce nodded, letting Natasha help
her sit up to sip some water. "He was being kind."
Joyce looked at her. "Of course he was. I would never fault
him for that reason, Natasha. If it was for some other reason
you'd need a new teammate." Natasha smiled. She looked
over. "What happened? She wasn't on the plane."
"She and Xander slowed the descent." Joyce groaned. "She has
some pretty heavy backlash. Clint's buffering her mind right
now." Joyce laid back down and got tucked in by Natasha.
"Your worrying grandchildren are upstairs. I'll have them come
down after dinner, in a few hours."
She smiled. "Thank you, Natasha."
"You're welcome, Joyce." She frowned. "Doc, her face just went stiff."
They came over to check the clot. It had moved without them
realizing it. It was in her upper neck. "Clot buster, now,"
Shivs ordered. The nurses handed it over. "We need to move
her to a bigger center with a real neurosurgeon."
"I'll consent if it matters. I'm her daughter-in-law." They
nodded and called it in. An ambulance was there within
minutes. Shivs rode with them so he could keep track of her.
Natasha sent that at Clint, who could tell Dawn. Natasha got to
tell Stark. She went to their present suite, knocking so they'd
let her in. Callia opened the door to stare at her. She
stepped in. "Let the adults talk for a moment, Callia."
"It's my grandmother."
"They will tell you once they have sworn." Callia grimaced but
stomped off. She looked at the trio of adults. "The clot
moved. Shivs had her moved."
Tony nodded. "Good. Is she going to be okay?"
"They caught it as it was moving. She woke up then slightly froze."
Pepper smiled. "So that's a good sign? Even with it moving?"
"I do not know. He rode in with her."
"I'll send someone to pick him up," Tony said, calling that in. "Dawn?"
"Still some swelling. Clint's keeping her calm." That got a nod. "Let me go back down there."
"Eat something," Pepper reminded her. "You can't be passing out."
"I'll take Clint's place. I had lunch, he didn't." She went
back down there. She got Clint a meal and sat down beside him to
link herself in and walk over there. She took Dawn from him.
"Take a break and eat." He nodded, moving to do that.
Dawn looked at her. "You look grimmer than usual."
"Your mother's blood clot shifted so they moved her to a regular hospital in case she needed surgery."
"No. Just shifted."
"Okay, I can handle that. Stepdad?"
"Still not rescued from wherever. We're working on that."
Dawn nodded, cuddling her. "You are chilled. They said it's
to help with the swelling."
"Its from the links," Dawn said quietly. "They're blowing cold air."
"We'll fix that." Dawn relaxed and fell asleep against her
shoulder. She stayed there to help her. She did not usually
have the patience for waiting like this but her wife needed her and she
had to help.
Bruce looked up as the curtain on his cubicle opened, blinking at the man standing there. "Fury."
"You ready to go?" Bruce nodded, sitting up with a wince and a rub
of his forehead. "We can put you in the same hospital that your
"Why is she in the hospital? I would've thought Stark infirmary."
"They were taking down the clot and it moved." Bruce
groaned. "She's fine. Not a stroke. They went in to
suck it out." Bruce nodded as he slid off the bed to put his feet
into his shoes. The nurse brought him paperwork.
"Thank you," Bruce said quietly. "You're a very good, efficient
hospital. Better than a lot I've worked in." She grinned at
him. He walked off with Fury. "LA or New York?"
"LA. Shivs knew a neurologist out there that he called on
personally to help her. Told him about her former cancer and all
"That's good. Hopefully he's good." He got into the car,
closing his eyes once he was sitting down. "I hate
concussions. I'm glad I didn't Hulk up during the crash though."
"Yeah, about that. What happened? The pilot said all his
instruments were working right and they said nothing was wrong.
Then the plane started to list and fall?"
Bruce shook his head. "The right wing outer engine was
smoking. We were behind it." He opened his eyes to look at
him. Then at the person next to him. "Who're you?"
"I'm the investigator going to the plane crash site, Doctor Banner. Where were you sitting?"
"Row 36." He made that note. "We could see the engine from
the window seat. Which I had. Joyce said it makes her
nauseous to watch the clouds go past." He leaned his head over
again and closed his eyes. "I noticed it started to smoke and felt
the plane react. I knocked her out with a nerve pinch because I
don't want that to be the last thing she remembers."
"I would've too," Fury said, swallowing hard. "The clot was in her arm."
"That's good. Means I didn't make it worse." He
yawned. "The plane started to list to the left, not sure why since
I couldn't see that side. There was a huge guy there.
Medium skin tone, looked Malaysian. I was there a few years ago."
"How many rows back from the wing were you?" Fury asked.
"Four. Window seat in front of us was empty but aisle had someone
working on a laptop. He kept muttering at his trackball mouse
while he was working on a spreadsheet." Bruce yawned again.
"Not sure about before that or if they could see."
"That's fine. You saw smoke, knocked your wife out, and the plane
listed left?" the investigator asked. Bruce nodded. "That
doesn't seem right."
"The plane was trying to descend too but something or someone was holding us up."
"Dawn has backlash from what I understand," Fury said quietly.
Bruce stared at him. "She realized it, popped somewhere closer to
handle it, got into a fight with Dr. Strange from another realm, and
then helped you guys with Xander's help. Sheppard took the last
bit from what Coulson emailed when I asked if he had been involved."
"There were a few lurches that I remember," Bruce said. "I was
trying to control the fear response that would've made me change.
That is not what we needed right then, even if I could've saved Joyce."
Fury nodded. "Which is a good thing." Bruce smirked
slightly, eyes still closed. "Did the pilot make any
"He said that something was wrong with the steering and they were going
to try to make the nearest airport. How far away were we? He
"You're in lower Oklahoma," the investigator said. "You might've
made it to the nearest airport locally but it would've been in the woods
outside it. It would've been a worse wreck. Whoever picked
that clearing did a great job."
"Sheppard's a pilot," Fury said. "One of the SG people."
That got a nod and a note made. "He's Alexander's
half-brother. They share a mother."
"Wonderful. They certainly lived up to helping humanity if they
were involved." He closed his book. "You rest, Dr.
Banner. We'll be by in a few days to take a better
statement. Once you're not half asleep."
"You're most welcome and thank you." He shook his hand and got out
when the car paused. He watched the car be beamed off. "SG
people?" he guessed. "Or aliens?"
Fury walked Banner into the ER. "He has a concussion. He was
on that plane earlier. His wife was brought in a while ago from
"Yes, sir, we remember her," she said. "Does he need evaluated?"
"An alarm clock," Bruce said. "Concussion. Medium
strength. Pounding little men dancing in pointy toed shoes."
He blinked at her. "Is her daughter here yet?"
"No. She's still in the infirmary from what I overheard,
sir." She handed him the forms. "I'll let you fill out hers
and yours while we check you over." Fury nodded, taking him to a
room. She called down that neurologist. He wondered why he
was being called about another patient but when he heard it was the
husband that was fine with him this time. Usually he was more
Dawn blinked awake, eyes watering. "I'm freezing." The
doctor turned down the machine keeping her body temperature low.
"Thank you. Baby?"
"With Stark I think. I'll make sure, Dawn." She
nodded. She called. "Stark, do you have Philip?" He
yelped and got beamed over. "Okay."
"I didn't even think," Dawn moaned. "It was an emergency."
"I didn't either," Clint said. "I totally forgot about him."
Stark came back alone. With a note. He held it up. "I'm going to handle this."
Natasha looked at it. "No, I'll handle this. I need to
relieve some stress. I'll check on Joyce on my way." She
strolled off, getting into their car to go. She adored the truck
but it didn't send the right message this time. She went to the
officers. "If it had not been an emergency...." she said as she
walked up to them.
"We heard why," he said, handing over the kid. "The plane crash was covered."
"Her mother and stepfather were on it." She cuddled the baby. "I'm sorry, Philip."
Gamble smirked from his seat. "I would've run off and forgotten I
had a kid too. The officers had some sense and called it in.
Boss told them to bring the baby here and we'd come to Stark after
dinner. We figured someone needed some stitches or something."
"She's barely conscious. Her mother's in the hospital here for a
blood clot. Clint's been trying to hold her steady." They
stared. She nodded. "She's not the only one from what we've
been told. Thank you." She half-bowed and took the baby with
her. "I'm sorry we forgot, Philip. It will not happen
again." He was cuddly and playing with her hair. Why hadn't
she and Clint thought about him? This was not right. She
took the baby to talk to an older friend of hers. She walked into
the bar he ran and up to his office, tapping gently. He let her in
and stared at the baby. She smiled. "Clint and
Dawn's. Something is blocking Clint and I from remembering her or
the baby at times."
"I can have you scanned, Natasha." He stared at her. "How bad is it?"
"I cannot remember our anniversary, her birthday, his birthday, yet I
remember mine and Clint's. Even when prompted I don't remember
"That's bad," he agreed. "Let me call them." He did and took
her to that underground lab. They smiled at the happy baby that
squealed at them. "Spent some time at Stark?"
"Yes, often." She looked at one. "Do not remove him from my sight."
"I won't. He's safe with me. I have two."
"I saw the spitup marks," she said. Natasha laid down on the bed
so they could scan her. Then did another one with the baby in the
control room, just out of her sight range. That was
different. The scientists looked troubled when they let her
out. "What is it?"
"You have a total brain chemistry change when he's out of sight," the head scientist said. "I don't know why."
"Magic, science, nanobots, radiation, or other?" she asked.
"I'd say other. Maybe some magic since your brain shows the same
signs that we've seen from the single magic user we have on staff.
Do you use magic?"
"My wife does and we're bonded mentally."
"Oh." He blinked a few times. "That's actually very
interesting." Natasha stared at him. "It may be important."
"Right now she's got extreme backlash from the plane she was helping not crash."
"Wonderful of her. I know that means she's got an extreme headache
though." He took her to a chair. "Let's work on that.
We can strip layers of programming off you." She nodded.
"Dawn seems harder out here. Less playful than she was in New
York. Clint shows the same symptoms I have." She cuddled the
baby when he fussed. "Mommy has to do this. Then we will
cuddle again." He fussed. "It will be fine. I promise
it will be. All of your parents are fine." He sucked on his
fingers and refused to be moved without throwing a massive fit.
"We can work around him but you do have the possibility of seizures, Agent Romanova."
"I know. I've been through this three times."
"Fine." He started the process, letting his assistant keep the
baby occupied. The machine beeped faster than he expected.
It had hit on a lot of recent programming to undo.
Loki appeared, staring at the woman in the chair then at his godson. "I should bring you to Asgard."
"You touch him and she'll kill you," the head scientist assured him, moving away from him.
"I'm his godfather."
Clint appeared in a flash of light. "And I'm his daddy." He
shot at Loki, making him yelp and leave. "Thanks for the help
though!" He smiled and waved at the ceiling. "Come back when
we're not in bad shape. Unless you know who's doing this."
He looked at the head guy. "I need the same thing."
"We can do the scans, Agent Barton."
"Someone tried to infect me with blood from Alexander."
Loki reappeared. "Why would they?"
"Mermaid, smallpox, things he caught over the centuries?" Clint prompted.
"He's never been that sick since he was twenty."
"He said he left his last life and went to Sunnydale so young because it felt like he had ebola."
"High school. Undercover. He has a journal." Loki
grimaced and went to look at that. "My life is insane," he told
the scientist. "I'm still going to put an arrow through Loki's eye
one of these days for putting me under compulsion."
"Good," the scientist said happily. "That's a reaction we
like." He got him scanned. The same brain
changes. Someone had seriously screwed with them and he was
sure it wasn't their wife. No matter what a 'bond' meant.
Clint and Natasha walked into Stark's infirmary the next morning.
They looked healthier. Stark stared at them. "You two look
"We had to undo some programming that's been going on." Clint
nudged Dawn, making her wake up. "Morning. We should talk."
She blinked at him. "I can't hear you anymore. Who fucked with your minds?"
"They removed some programming and it blocked it off," Natasha said. "It also cured that memory problem."
Dawn blinked hard and nodded. "I've been looking at that when you
two were asleep. It was godly done but not Loki. I wasn't
Clint stared. "That's not what they found."
Dawn nodded. "That might be because you have new
programming?" They shook their heads. Dawn grimaced.
"Fine." She sat up and touched their hands, opening their minds to
them. "What you'd get from meditation. Natasha's done it
"Lay back down," Shivs told her.
Dr. Pigalli walked over and grabbed their heads, doing the same thing. "That."
Clint frowned, looking at it. "What's those shadows?"
"Cloaked memories," Natasha and Bucky said. Him from the other
side of the infirmary where Tony was helping his arm with an upgrade.
"Fuck!" Philip squealed. "Sorry, kiddo." He looked it
over. He settled on the bed next to Dawn. Natasha sat on the
one on her other side. Stark took the baby from him.
"Thanks, shouldn't take long."
"It'll take days," Pigalli said. Once they were down, she dropped
an IV and an NG tube. Then one into Dawn. "Follow as long as
your head doesn't hurt." She nodded, going back to it. She
sighed and looked up. "Really? Must you?"
"Apparently," Tony quipped. "C'mon, Philip. Let's learn
about rewiring things." He grunted and pointed, looking at
him. "Yes, those are wires. You're very smart." He and
the baby grinned at each other.
"Are we sure he's not a Stark?" Bucky asked, staring at the baby.
Who grinned and waved at him. "Hey, Philip." He patted him
on the head. Clint started to swear. "Your son is in the
room!" he yelled.
"What son?" Clint demanded.
"Fuck," Stark said, making Philip cackle. "Doc, is there an easy fix to that?"
"I think that's who screwed them up," Bucky said. "Cognitive readjustment?"
Dawn waved a hand and they both got hit by something heavy that hadn't
been in the room before. "Ow," was said quietly from her bed and
she let herself go back to sleep. Bucky laughed.
"Like that?" Tony quipped. He finished the upgrade to Bucky's arm
and let him go pick on Steve again. Beya took the baby from him
before he could ask. "Sure," Tony agreed. "I'll go play with
After two days of feeling miserable and hearing a lot of snarling from
Clint and Natasha she'd finally had enough. She blasted magic at
both of their minds, knocking them out. Then she stripped
everything out of them that wasn't theirs originally. Clint moaned
and curled up in a tiny ball on his bed. Natasha was nearly
crying. Dawn growled. Someone needed her foot up their
ass. Even if she was a child. That was an insidious curse
from Hecate. It grew each time Dawn used her magical skills. She
snapped the curse, which brought Hades. The doctors in there
gasped, staring at him.
Hades looked at Dawn, touching her hand. "How did she do
that?" Dawn let him take that spell and blinked at him.
"Looks like over two years ago. It grew each time I used my magic," she said quietly. "I fucking ache."
"I can see that." He grimaced. "That's going to suck when they wake up. They're going to yell."
"They forgot they had a son."
Hades winced. "Good. Have fun with that, Dawn." She waved. "Let me call 'Sclep."
"He's probably helping Xander and John. I'm okay enough. I can wait."
"Okay." He took it back to show to Hera. Who had Hecate
permanently banished to his world. She had no outside access any
longer. Neither did her bond mates. Someone else would be
named to take over Hecate's place. Hades called in
Asclepias. "How are Xander and John doing?"
"I've checked on them. They're healing fine."
"And Dawn?" he asked.
"I did not know she was involved." He went to check on her and her
mates. Dawn made him go check on her mother first. Which
Xander had worried about. She was...in a touchy spot. He
removed all the blood clots that were forming and healed the reason for
it. He looked at Bruce, waking him up. He touched his hand
to show him what he had healed.
"We had no idea. They scanned that."
"They should've seen that." He disappeared, going back to
Dawn. Who was indeed miserable but healing. Her mates looked
wiped out. He got Mnemosyne down. "What happened?"
She looked. "Dawn blasted all the built up fake memories they had implanted over their lives."
"They forgot they had a son," Dawn said. She blinked and moaned, starting to stutter.
"Seizure," Pigalli said, coming over to administer some medicine. "She's had a few of these."
"She shouldn't have tried to use any magic," he told her.
"She's like that. She was helping them heal and her mother heal, everyone but herself."
"She's a selfless young woman." They got Dawn's healing
straightened out. She was in worse shape than Alexander.
Then again, she had pulled a godly spell as a mortal. Usually you
died from that. Mnemosyne got him into their heads, where they
were arguing. "Do shut up now, thank you."
They stared at him. "What happened?" Natasha demanded.
"Dawn blasted all the fake memories," Mnemosyne said with a smile.
"Her only statement before her seizure was that you had forgotten you
had a son." They slumped.
"Hades showed me the curse she removed from you two. It was built to grow each time she used her magic."
"From?" Natasha asked.
"That whole trying to do what Xander and Phil managed bonding with
Rosenburg," Mnemosyne, the Greek Goddess of the Mind, told them with a
smile. "They couldn't even manage what you've done." They
stared at her. "By the way, she's sedated again."
"She shouldn't have tried to heal you two while she was so
exhausted. I had to stabilize her form." Natasha
stiffened. "Then again, Dawn's a very selfless girl."
"I'd say more selfish," Clint said.
"No, I'd think saving the love of your lives, even though it might kill
you isn't all that selfish." Clint flinched and winced. "Nor
pulling a godly spell while mortal to save one's mother and stepfather,
and the other hundred or so people on that plane. I'm sure if she
had been healthy she could've more gently removed it."
"She said she had been searching it out," Natasha said. She
considered things, looking at Clint. They were back to fighting
like they had when they were both younger.
He stared at her. "I have no clue and I hate it when you two make me make the hard decisions."
Natasha snorted. "Since when do I want you to make any decision except occasionally dinner?"
"Did she accidentally flip on the bitch switch with you two?" Mnemosyne
asked. They stared at her. She walked over to test
them. "Hmm. That one that tried to stop her from helping her
mother cast something at her. It's presently killing her."
Asclepias felt then went to stop it in her. "I thought I was
related to the biggest bitches ever. Proved me wrong,
children." She stared at them before disappearing.
Clint looked at her. "Why is this our fault?"
"Because we're cranky with the headache." They went back to their
own minds and woke up. They both pulled out things and moved to
look at Dawn. Their links to her were shut off. "We can help
"Frankly, I don't think she needs you two right now," Asclepias said
bitterly. "She's already having enough problems and your bitching
can wait." Apollo appeared. "Thank you," he sighed.
"Another idiot tried to stop her from saving that plane and cast an
illness curse at her."
Apollo grimaced, testing it. "Yeah, he did."
"Dad!" he growled.
"Not really my job," he pointed out.
"So you're going to hurt her just because you're on the rag?" Asclepias demanded.
"I am not," Apollo said.
"Damn, is there a bitching spell on this infirmary?" Shivs demanded.
"Maybe," Natasha admitted. "Where is our son?"
"Safely somewhere he can't see his mother dying," he told her
bluntly. Apollo flinched and shook his head. "You might
wanna check again. Her brain waves just paused for a few
seconds." They looked and Apollo swore. He had looked at the
wrong thing. Asclepias had been right and they needed to work on
"You do whatever you have to do, even if it means changing her," Clint
said, sitting on his bed, pulling Natasha next to him. This was
like his worst nightmare at the moment.
"She's already immortal," Apollo complained.
"No she's not. She burned it out with the plane saving," Hera said
as she appeared. She looked at the apple in her hand then fed it
to her. Dawn seized again and settled down, going limp. "Her
brain is not working at the usual speed."
"She had some backlash left," Shivs said. They groaned. "You
know what? No. No, no, no way in hell! Father!"
He appeared, blinking at him. "What!"
"Shut the fuck up and fix it!" he said with a point. "I've had
fucking enough of all this shit. Whoever's acting against that
family is now on my shit list."
"You're not a god, son."
He stared then smirked. "But, Dad, I am." He loosened his
necklace to prove it. "Now fucking fix whatever petty shit this
is. Before I'm forced to." His father blinked at him.
"Now! Unless you want to tell Alexander how two healing gods and
Hera have made it so she was dead twice. Bad enough I had to end
the plot with the smallpox by healing her. I'm shocked none of you
noticed that. Though, that's when her immortality left," he told
Hera. She was still staring at him. He stared back.
"You did leave some down here." She groaned. "Father!"
"Fine!" Ares complained. "It wasn't my damn plan!"
"I can tell my own father's markings and doings," he said bluntly.
"Same as I could before when you and Loki were pulling your shit
then! Now fucking fix it!"
"That wasn't me."
"Dad, so help me Mother." He stared at him.
Xander appeared with Phil, holding his head. "Xander, I need to
remove two things," Phil said politely. "May I?" He
nodded. "Thank you." He took off both their shields.
Then the others. Including one that even Hera had believed was
still not able to be done. He smiled. "Who did what to
Ares blinked at them. "When did you do that?" Phil touched his neck marking. "Fuck!"
"Ya think?" Xander asked. He looked at Phil. "Well, that
made the headache worse but now I remember." He moved them all out
of the way. He pulled up power and healed what had been done,
blasting it back at the people responsible. Even Hera flinched
when some of it hit her. He passed out afterward but Phil caught
him. He knew he was safe.
Shivs helped get Xander into a bed and started an IV. "Adrenaline help?"
"No. They had him on this." He wrote out what he had seen on
his IV. That got a nod and found some to get started. He
looked at them. "How about this? The last plot between Ares
and Loki was stopped by Dawn and somehow that got her punished for
finding out the stupidity that nearly destroyed humanity. Then
that got her punished somehow?" he asked Hera.
"You are an upstart."
"You wanted me this way," he said bluntly. She gasped. He
looked at them again. "I'm going to have to declare that our house
has serious diplomatic issues with yours. All the way to moving
you out of the way." Gaia appeared. "Gaia."
"Philip. When did you do that?"
"When we accidentally bound."
"Not that, the third one."
"Few weeks later. There were all these gongs."
"We were perfectly wiling to let things lie until this. Harming
someone for protecting humanity, which is our job, isn't really going to
fly with us. Especially not them."
"They're mortal," Gaia said.
"Maybe," Phil said. "We're still discussing that." She
grimaced. He sighed and looked over, spotting Jonathan.
"Yes, it's a problem."
"We know. It's not going to be any longer though." They all
stared. He grinned. "You leave it to the geeks to solve
since the other side of the smart coin can't. I guess that's why
Ethan called us." He pushed the button in his hand. He was
back when Dawn was sick. He walked into the infirmary and looked
at Pigalli. "Doc?" She woke up. "Dawn's going to shed
her immortality to heal herself." She shook her head. "Yeah,
she is." Andrew walked in and touched her hand. She
flinched and looked over then fixed that problem. Shivs
"I remember." He fixed Dawn's underlying problem. Too much
energy eating at her physical form. He released some of it since
she hadn't been able to for a few days. Andrew shook his head and
fixed it. "Why?"
"Because she uses magic differently than we do. It's closer to
chaos magic. Remember what the Key is." He groaned and went
back to tell himself about how to fix it. That fixed her when he
showed up, creating a tiny paradox. But that was solved.
Then they went to find Bruce. They found him awake and staring at
the stars on the back porch. "We're not really here," Andrew said.
Bruce looked at him. "I saw the small fluctuation earlier when I
was monitoring the local telescope system. What's going on,
boys?" They sat down to tell him. He considered it.
"So why tell me?"
"Because there's going to be a plane crash," Jonathan said. "And
Dawn's going to nearly die thanks to saving it. And you."
Bruce nodded. "I've always wanted to take the train." Andrew
wrote down the flight information. "We got bumped?"
"Don't know." He unclicked the pen and put it into his pocket with a grin. "We need an anchor back to here in case."
Bruce took it. "It'll be fixed. Let the higher power of geek
that you two are growing into finish fixing it." They grinned and
hit the button to bring them home. He called Stark. "I need
you to pull a string and get a plane looked at." He read off that
flight information. "It's for when we were coming out for
Philip's birthday and going home. That was our return
flight. That would've crashed if Dawn and Xander didn't nearly die
with John Sheppard being in really bad shape." The porch door
opened and Clint walked out. "Thanks, Tony." He hung up and
looked at him. "Andrew and Jonathan were playing with time."
"I heard." He sat down with a sigh. "How can I help?"
"You can....use some of Dawn's magic for her for the next few
days. That could help with what Shivs was solving." He
nodded at that. "Secondly..... I'm not sure why she was
trying to heal you two while she was so sick then." He looked at
him. "They didn't say."
Natasha came out. "I realized it. I was in touch with her
mind to keep her calm. We must get that nurse to not sedate
her." She sat down, touching their hands to let them see it.
Bruce nodded. "We'll handle Barney, Clint. Don't go
there." He nodded that was fine with him this time. "You
guys handle that curse."
"I have no idea how," he said. "But I can do that."
"You could promise your son to my service," Loki said smugly as he appeared.
"That offer to shoot you stands," Clint offered back. "Our wife is presently about to die, do you mind?"
"I can fix that curse. It's not that hard. Even you could if you wanted to."
Clint and Natasha shared a look. Then nodded. They knew not
to go somewhere. They knew a few other things. "We can't go
right now. Not while she's sick. I'd never forgive myself if
this changed it that far," Clint said.
"Beaming satellite," Bruce reminded them.
"Or...," Natasha said. "We pray." They shared another look
with Bruce, who grinned. Loki huffed and disappeared before his ex
appeared. She looked at Xander's mother. "We were just
involved in a temporal movement."
"Humans do that."
"No, as in people had to change it before your sons both died from
helping Dawn save a plane full of people. Due to a curse by Hecate
and Athena for managing what they couldn't."
She frowned. "Why would they die? They're gods."
"And each time Dawn has to use her magic it grows in us and it's spread
from us to Xander and from Xander to John," Natasha said. "Also,
we know what very bad idea you've had that will mean your sons will no
longer claim you." She glared. Natasha opened her
shields. "Read them if you wish." She did and gasped,
backing up. "All we wish is the curse removed so we can save your
son and our friend."
"I cannot remove that. It's not really my calling. Unlike a healing god...."
Thoth appeared. "That's because you never cared to study.
It's a cultural weakness and why you don't celebrate your female
warriors." He removed it from them. They sighed, bowing to
him. "Thank you for fixing it, children. If one of you
hadn't told Ethan, he wouldn't have called the boys." He smiled
and looked at them. "It will mean that your near twin is not a
time flip back to avoid the biggest pain you could imagine," he said
quietly in Russian. They stared at him. "You and Dawn would
end up going back to take up new lives to die in since you can't do it
any other way if you're together." He disappeared. Xander
was at a boring family dinner with his paternal family. He
appeared and nodded at Odin, who opened his mouth. "Hush," he
"Please find me a battle to be in?" he begged.
"Not likely, at the moment." He checked and removed the
curse. Xander shivered as it was pulled out. He pulled it
out of Phil too. "Your mother knows."
"Mom's playing bimbo?"
"Yup," the Egyptian god said with a smirk. He looked at Loki.
"Philip is going to probably be a healer or someone artistic, not
yours. He doesn't have the mind of one of yours." He
disappeared. He found the infection in John from when Dawn had
been up on Atlantis thanks to Xander moving the whole group. John
looked at him when he was done. He showed him. John nodded.
"They will punish her or I will punish her," he said quietly, sipping his beer.
"That's fine." He went to show Hera and Hades. Hera was
frigid. Thoth stared at her. "You nearly let all of humanity
die for someone's arrogance. Just because she's your
sister." Zeus glared and started to get up. "You did not
remove their powers when they got sent down there. You did not end
the curse, though you had to have seen it. What would happen when
humanity died, Hera? You'd fade like others?"
"I would not. I have ties that do not require humanity."
Xander appeared, shaking his head. "No you don't."
"Not now, boy," Zeus ordered. Xander opened his shields. Zeus yelled and backed away looking scared. "How?"
"You wanted me to marry," Xander said, staring at him. "You
ordered it done." He smirked. "How's that working out for
you?" He looked at Hera. "I'm not sure if we're going to
stand you guys or not. Some of you I like. Some of you I can
do without." She slumped, looking down. "That fake humility
is not going to work either." Phil appeared, laying a hand on his
arm. He looked at him, sharing a thought. "Thoth, you have
done my pantheon a great service. I thank you and owe you one."
He bowed with a smile. "I'll call that in sometime." He went home to watch how this happened.
"We'll have to do something," Phil said.
"We are. We're holding a dinner." He looked at Zeus.
"You're to attend as well." He nodded. "You can warn her or
not, as you see fit." He took Phil to their cabin to work on that
third form. They had gotten it a few times.
The next night, Xander stood up in front of the dinner. "You might
notice that there's been some rearranging of tables." He opened
his aura, making a lot of people gasp. He held out a hand to Phil,
who stood up and did the same. A few goddesses started to
cry. "We were going to leave things as they stood but then there
was a subdued, long acting curse by Athena on our House. There was
a plot by Ares to get humanity ended when Dawn lost herself trying to
save her and others.
"There was something that cursed Asclepias and Apollo into not being
able to do their duties correctly. Frankly, we've had
enough." He clapped his hands and humanity changed as it
should. Dawn was getting better. She was back to
normal. That whole 'Clint being charged' problem wouldn't
happen. Barney was going to be handled by Phil. The later
problems were solved. There was no fight. There was no plane
"As we are the house over Humanity's protection," Phil said. "We
feel it appropriate to call on people from all pantheons to help
us. There's already many younger immortals, demigods, and younger
gods who are all but members of our house."
Xander nodded. "We're going to keep it that way. While we
respect the older ways, we're not going to put up with things.
There's no arranged marriages in my house unless I want one. Not
with anyone. No forcing John or anyone into one." A few
people shuddered. "There's no more playful batting at us.
We're busy, people. Do you think humanity's figured out how to
handle their own shit yet? You'd be wrong."
"I still have a full time job," Phil reminded them. "Plus my duties to humanity as they go together."
"Therefore, let me make some announcements. Roque, you are our God
of Hunting." He nodded, smirking some. "You're one of the
best hunters I know, even though you have hidden that quite often.
You and your accompanying pack of Yellow Furs are more than welcome to
be in the temple and your dragonling is our Herald." He looked
around. "Hades is our God of the dead and Asclepias is our head
healer, with Healer Peter Jennings as his second." They both bowed
to them. "Bia is our Goddess of Homemaking. She's the one
who fusses over everything there anyway," Xander quipped with a grin for
"John is our God of Intelligence," Phil said. "He's smart enough
to be over intellect but we're going to put that with someone who does
what Diama does, only is more experienced. Miri, with Diama
"I would be honored," she said, smiling at Diama.
"Cool," Diama said. "Can Fiona still come play?"
"Of course. Bia needs help with all the flowers and stuff," Xander
said with a smile. "She can help our Celtic Goddess of Flowers as
well." He nodded to her, getting a smile back.
"You are not officially in charge, boy," Zeus said. "You may have the power but we will have to challenge you for it."
Xander nodded. "Which would mean that I'd have to do something
like this," he said, taking Zeus's held lightening bolt. Zeus
gasped. "Thank you for blessing me able to use any other god's
weapon as I need." The others started to babble. He
smiled. "A birthright blessing. We so dote it on the mortal
kids in our house." They shared a grin with John. "There are
open spots. The god of war, love, and Fates are presently
open. We haven't made a choice yet. Frankly, I'm keeping a
few open to see if any of our present teammates ascend. If so,
they'll be filling in some. They know what humanity needs to get
stronger and survive. Because there's going to be other alien
invasions." The others nodded. He looked at Phil, who
shrugged. He looked at the Fates.
"Busy," Clotho protested. "Before you even think about it."
The Norns stared. "You hate prophecies."
"I do," Xander agreed. "Can you do it in a more straightforward way? Maybe by email?"
They shared a look. "Can we do it by email without struggling over
how to make things rhyme?" They nodded. They smiled at
"Great." He grinned. "I have thirty-eight books of prophecy. Can you weed out the shit ones for us?"
"Though the one where you'd be having blood? It hasn't happened yet."
"I'll stock up on medicine for that then. Thanks."
"Not much medicine for childbirth, boy," one of the Norns said with a smirk.
"That solved who'd have the next kid in the family," Phil said with a
smile for them. They grinned back. "Thank you. Though
hopefully not this year?"
"Wonderful." He grinned at Xander, who took a kiss. Gongs
and bells started to ring. Phil sighed. "Must you, really?"
he demanded to the air. They stopped. "Thank you. Have
a slight headache from the poisoned wine." He looked at the other
"We have open spots, we are probably going to be inclusive unless you're
huge assholes," Xander said with a grin. "Plenty of yours already
work with ours. We figured we have about sixty spots to fill and
have to make some choices." They all relaxed. "Though, Jian,
you're the liaison if we ever set up diplomatic relations with the damn
elves. They're snotty, like protocol more than life itself, and
even the royal nuns in your pantheon are not that rigidly uptight."
He bowed. "Thank you for that honor, Alexander. They sound much like me."
"Yes they are," Xander agreed. "You can talk to one of Stark's
doctors. She's one. She left because she doesn't want to be
uptight and only heal with herbs. She can tell you how to approach
and who to approach if they reopen the portals."
"I'll find the book with them in it tomorrow," Phil said. "It's in
SHIELD's storage areas." That got a smile and another bow before
he sat down.
"Any questions or comments?" Xander asked.
"That witch, the one who was cursed. There should be no slayers with witchly powers," one of the Celtic goddesses noted.
"Dawn's not a slayer. She's the sister of a slayer. They
made her of Buffy but she's her own person." The goddess
gasped. "The one with powers is her niece, and we're not sure how
that happened but she's also a breeding capable slayer. Would you
and your healing goddess please make sure that there's no curse on
her? I know you've worked more on the slayer line than anyone
"Aye, I can," she agreed, looking at that older goddess, who nodded as she sipped her ale. "We will on the morrow."
"Thank you. Callia Stark is not the typical pre-slayer."
They gasped. "The mouthy, science one?" one of the healers demanded. They nodded. "How on earth?"
"A group in the US called NID, who are torturing and experimenting
freaks, mixed her in a dish and inserted her into Buffy," Xander said
with a grin. "Callia is very much like her father but has a lot of
her mother's mannerisms. Which keeps getting her grounded when
she mouths off." A few laughed. "There's already been
visions of her being knocked up when she's a young teen and her not
being called. I have made sure she's down the list because I
foresaw her being more interested in the weapons than the duty."
"She will build great weapons some day," Diama said happily.
"She'll be my head geek some year." They all smiled at her.
"Maybe even above the balloon geeks." That got a few laughs.
"There's food geeks and balloon geeks and plant geeks, there's all
sorts of geeks beyond engineers."
Miri smiled and nodded. "There are. I work with a lot of
them. Some day, when you're older, you can come learn from
Atlantis herself." Diama beamed and nodded. "Does that mean
the stupid curse on me can be ended?" she asked Xander and Phil.
"Yes, please," Xander said, staring at Krishna and his wife. Who
glared at the one who did it. "I realize that you don't celebrate
great women like some do, but welcome to the new world where women are
great." They grumbled but took it off Miri. "Thank you."
"Yes! Now I can have more than my hand."
"I'd share Allan with you," Alana said. "But I'd get jealous if he buzzed for others."
Xander grinned at her. "Are you going to stay married to your vibrator for life?"
"Asgardians don't believe in divorce. So unless I find a true mate
like you have, yes." She sipped her mead. "And no, I'm not
taking fixups. I've met most of the young scut at the temple and
they're fairly boring. I need brains and brawn."
Xander looked at Thor. "Have you checked on her?" He nodded
once. "We'll talk later, but I will accept it and rejoice in
it." Thor smiled and nodded. "As would her aunt and mother."
"Thank thee, nephew." Xander walked over to show him what he had
seen. Thor growled but nodded. "Aye, I can deal with
that. Thank thee."
"Welcome. We wish you every happiness, Uncle." He went back
to his seat. "Talsa has seen fit to make us a meal fit for
celebrating and easing upset stomachs. Let's eat." The food
got served. They ate and talked about the changes going on.
The Pantheons of Faith were giving way to the Pantheon of
Humanity. It was hopefully a great thing for everyone.
Even if it would mean that Loki and Ares had to quit trying to take over humanity on each other.
Xander looked at his father then at Ares. Then at Phil. Who
shook his head. It was a bad precedent to set. They could do
it later, when they screwed up. Xander smiled at that thought.
Ares suddenly got a very bad feeling and caught Xander staring at him.
Clint and Natasha looked up as Xander and Phil appeared in the
infirmary. "I do not want to be a love goddess. They're
"Then you can be the Goddess of Weapons under Clint's God of War."
Xander kissed Dawn on the head. "Rise and shine, sleeping
"They have her sedated against our wishes," Clint said.
Phil checked his mind. It was whole, healthy. It was
firm. His connection to his women were firm. "Not mad?"
"No. Before I was frustrated, not mad. You can tell we never
fight because the least move to more than a slight argument means she
"She's had a few times of worrying about being left," Xander said.
"So have you." Clint nodded that was true. "So we'll handle
it." They smiled at him. "Who has my godson?"
"Steve the last I knew."
"He's in bed asleep," Phil said, looking that way. "We have to have Stark deal with that bomb on his house too."
Xander nodded. "We do." He searched and grinned.
"Cool." He took Phil with him, appearing in front of Ares.
"You don't look like Captain America, Ares."
"I wanted to see who had tampered with him."
"Bull fucking shit, dude," Xander said dryly, making him glare and stand up. Phil took the baby to look over.
"Slight push toward being a warrior," Phil said, removing it.
"He's probably going to be artistic. Clint is musical.
Natasha was a dancer and gymnast. Dawn's a bit artistic in some
ways like decorating. He's going to love music." Ares
slumped, shaking his head. "He'll pick his own future.
Unless there's a huge problem, he'll pick his own future."
"I was trying to help. With warriors that strong he should be a warrior too."
"Is your son?" Xander asked.
"Bull. I talked to him earlier," Xander said dryly.
"Frankly, he's a god of healing." Ares shuddered. "If you or
my father cause us one bit of problem you will be punished in a way
that makes me cackle for *years*," he warned.
"You can't do that."
"I can do that." Ares attacked him and Xander popped him and Loki into a meeting area.
"Cool, I get to be a flower girl," Fiona said, smiling up at her
MommyDaddy. "I like being a flower girl." She turned herself
into a walking rose. Ares gaped and pointed.
Xander smiled. "That's a very pretty rose, Fiona. You need
to be able to talk though." She created a mouth among the
leaves. Phil got Loki since he was trying something against Clint
and Natasha. "What did I say, Dad?" Loki glared.
"Good." He clapped his hands and things appeared in them. He
sent them out. "This is the exception instead of the rule.
When the punishment means that you'll have to work together.
Forever." He smiled. "Fiona, shower them with
flowers." She sprayed flower petals on them. It looked like
she was peeing them really. "I pronounce you mates. True,
unbreakable mates. And to give you a nice honeymoon together to
*bond*, let us arrange that." He did the spell they did for the
conventions and created a tiny realm. They sent them there.
They could create farms to grow real food and all that.
Fiona turned back and grinned. "Maybe the screwing will do him good."
"How do you know anything about that?" Xander demanded, staring at her.
"Aphrodite told me."
"Excuse me? Hera! Bring me Aphrodite!" They both
appeared with Cupid behind them. "Cupid, your father earned a
lifetime mate to work against since they wanted it so much." Cupid
shivered, letting his wings wrap around him. "Fiona, I want you
to tell Hera what you said. You're not in trouble," he assured her
when she pouted. "It's just that you shouldn't know about that
yet." Fiona whimpered and looked down. Phil created a
Hera burst out laughing. "That will not hold my son, Alexander."
He grinned. "We'll see. That's how we hold multi-Xander
conventions." She gaped in horror. He laughed. "Every
year actually. Keep going." He pointed.
She did, blinking at the 'shower' of flowers. Then what Fiona said
at the end. She swatted Aphrodite with the mirror. "She is
much too young to know about carnal relations!" She hit her with
the mirror again. Aphrodite disappeared ducking and crying.
Cupid picked Fiona up. "We're going to have you move into my
house, Fiona. That way you're a good girl and you can play in the
"You live with your mother," Hera reminded him.
"I haven't lived with Mom in centuries, Hera." He walked her
off. "We'll talk to Auntie Discord about stuff too." She
smiled and nodded. She loved to annoy her aunt. Strife
appeared and held out his arms, letting her jump into them. "You
can move into my house too."
Strife smiled. "I can do that since there's no more growling about
it. Then we can talk about your mortal vacation life." They
disappeared with the baby.
Diama appeared, looking at them. "Uncle Phil?" He smiled down at her. "What's steampunk?"
"It's a group of people who want to build things using only Victorian
technology. They make a lot of very interesting looking things."
"Can I put them under me, Uncle Xander?"
"A lot are already engineers so I guess. Ask Hera."
"I have no knowledge of them but we can check," she said, taking her
hand. Diama squealed and took her to the show she had been staring
at. "Oh, my," Hera said, smiling at it. "That's
Diama smiled and nodded, pointing at something so they went that
way. Diama showed her all sorts of neat things like balloon geeks
and food geeks. They ran into an engineer that was once Rodney
McKay's rival but had wanted to create the fantastic instead of the
abstract. Diama babbled at him about Atlantis. He was one of
the steampunk people. She called Rodney down. "Rodney, can
you see if he can help you with those three systems that look strange?"
Rodney stared at the other engineer. "Reginald."
"Rodney." He shook his hand with a smile. "Still dealing with the abstract?"
"Head engineer on Atlantis actually. Plus research."
"Wonderful! I'd love to see her sometime." He looked down at the little goddess. "Who are you anyway?"
She smiled. "I'm Diama, Goddess of Engineers for the Greek
pantheon." He gaped. "Rodney's one of my higher
geeks." She patted him with a grin. "He even explains it
when math doesn't make sense because it has weird things that aren't
numbers or fixed variables."
Rodney nodded. "That stymied me for a few weeks as well." She grinned. "Lady Hera." He nodded at her.
She smiled. "Rodney. I'm sorry I tried to force John's hand."
"We're not well suited. He'd never put up with my work and I'd
never put up with his flirting or heroics. They'd drive me insane
and I'd have to take up a bed beside Warren Meers." He looked at
his rival then at Diama. "Which systems? There's many broken
"The steam one might help," she said. "The one with all the wheels
and gears too? And maybe even the food one that drops it through
all the chutes and stuff?"
"We've wondered about those. Can you send me and him there?"
"I need to arrange a few things," Reginald offered.
"Go to Cheyenne and we'll get you up there," Rodney said, sending an email. "Remember Radek?"
"I do. How is he? Still too quiet?"
"He's our second-in-command."
"Wonderful! I knew Radek was going to do great things."
"He told me bedtime stories," Diama agreed with a grin. She looked
at Rodney. "What is my own personal robobimbo of destruction
doing this time?"
He shrugged. "She hasn't talked to me recently."
"I can do so." She smiled and took him home while his friend did a
bit of packing and things. She went back to Hera and showed her
more neat things, like computers. Almost all geeks like
computers. There were a few math geeks that liked paper and
pencils but they were a bit weird to her.
Dawn blinked awake, staring at them. She could see a double
image. Clint leaned over to kiss her and the ghostly one
faded. "What was that?"
"Slight time paradox." He smoothed a hand over her hair. "Want the fussy one?"
"Please. Is he okay?"
"He's fine," he promised. Natasha came in with the baby.
"See, one super fussy son that missed you." She smiled and took
him to cuddle. Clint and Natasha shared a look and he got the bed
first. Dawn grinned at him. He kissed her. "It's all
Xander appeared and handed the baby to Clint then popped her off and
right back. "That made sure she was synched." He kissed her
on the forehead. "Feel better soon, Dawnie." He went back to
Clint took another kiss and they shifted so Natasha could move closer
and at least sit on the bed beside Dawn's leg. Dawn smiled and
kissed her hand. Natasha squeezed hers back. Clint looked at
the baby, who was staring at them. "What?" He yawned and
Dawn looked at them. "Something's different."
"They found a curse on us."
"Oh. Okay." She nodded. "Is it okay now?" He nodded. "Wonderful. So why can't I hear you?"
"We locked the bond down so you wouldn't hear us worry." He opened
his. Dawn relaxed. Natasha did the same and Dawn grinned at
her. Clint nuzzled her throat with his nose. "We will not
leave you," he said in her ear. "No matter how bad the fight could
be, nothing like that." She stared at him. "Time flip."
"No. You had about a week of worrying after a vision."
"What did I see?"
She stared at him. "I'd take him down for you so you don't have to
angst, Clint." She stroked his cheek. "You know I would."
"I know and I appreciate that but not necessary now." He kissed
her hand. "Cuddle Mr. Fussy there." She nodded, cuddling
in. She curled up on her side and pointed behind her. "Nat, I
think that's your spot."
"I like cuddling up to her back. It means she doesn't bite
me." She cuddled her. The nurse huffed in and started to
order them off the bed. Clint pulled a gun on her. She fled
for the security team. So it was back to normal things.
A reporter that Clint had met right after Philip's birth, from _Time_,
walked up to him in the store. "Some of us will usually remember
when those things happen."
"Reporters in general or just people?" he quipped.
"People." She stared at him. "My mother's a German goddess's granddaughter," she said quietly, glancing around.
He nodded. "That's great. We still don't like
reporters." She huffed but scowled. He grinned. "It
"No. None of it. It's all been fixed."
She relaxed and nodded. "The plane?"
"Thank you. One of my friends from college was on there."
"So were Joyce and Bruce." She winced. "But it's okay
now." She nodded and left. That reminded him, he had to
remind Bruce to have her checked for blood clots. He texted
him. Then he looked down at his son. "I miss playing to
you." He went to buy some new music to listen to. Philip
liked that and it was great.
Bruce looked at the text. "Honey, we need to have something checked."
"Vision?" she asked.
He nodded. "It's in a few months but better to check now. Can you make an appointment with your usual doctor?"
"He doesn't like visions."
"That's fine." She nodded, making one for the next
week. He kissed her. "Nothing terribly huge but a
problem in the beginning." She nodded. He took her to his
lab to do the ultrasound on her arm. He found the clot.
Joyce stared. He nodded. "We know."
"Oh, dear." She wiped her arm off. "Is that the only one?"
"No, not that they found." He helped her up onto the table and did
one on her stomach, finding it. "That's not a tumor throwing
it." He looked at her. She was pale. "It looks like an
ulcer." She sighed. "We can look." She nodded,
accepting his help up. She let him copy down the scans and they
went to the walk-in clinic instead. The nurse sighed when she saw
her. Bruce held up the scan. "I was doing a casual one based
on something someone was worried about and found clots," he said
She looked at it. "That's not good. No wonder you're in
early. Walk in was closed today but I'll see." She took them
back. "Doctor?" He looked over. She put them on the
board. "Doctor Banner was doing a casual scan and found those in
He looked. "Those are clots. That's an arm. Where's
that? Go get them?" She went to get them.
"Bruce. Joyce." He shook their hands. "Where?"
"Arm and abdomen. I don't think it's a tumor. I thought an ulcer."
"It looks like it. That arm clot is worrying."
"I'm worried it'll move," he said. "She's had that one thanks to the medicine she was on."
"We can have someone look. Let me have you go back to the sitting
room while I call someone." They nodded and did that. He
called a surgeon he knew. He had done Joyce's last blood
clot. "Repeat business and blood clots. Lots of them."
He hung up and waited. His golfing buddy showed up, hissing at
the scans. "Banner's wife."
"I remember her case. Tough but resilient." He counted. "That's really bad."
"He's worried this one will slip," he said with a point at the arm scan.
"It could. It's not fully attached." He considered it.
"I need to do a closer look." He took them and went out to the
waiting room. "We're going to admit you, Joyce, and we're going to
do a GI scan tomorrow." She nodded, hands clenched around one of
Bruce's. "We're going to start you on a clot buster tonight for
"I'm incredibly worried that one will shift," Bruce said. "Can we move it? Maybe suck it out?"
"We can give it something to attach to. We have green filters as
you know." He took them to his office to get them set up with what
they'd need that night. He took another scan and it had shifted
slightly up the vein. Which meant it was heading for her
heart. That had to be handled tonight. But he could do that.
Bruce walked into Fury's office the next day, seeing the scowl.
"She's in post-surgical ICU." He handed over the note.
Fury shuddered. "Stroke?"
"No, they implanted the green filter to catch it fast enough
thankfully. It broke away when they were working to suck it out
and started up really fast." Fury nodded. "The other was a
low GI ulcer."
"No, medicine created they think. The chemotherapy she went
through weakened a lot of muscles. This one decided to not heal the last
time. They said it was a possible side effect."
"Tell her I wish her well. How long is she on bed rest for?"
"That's fine." Bruce smiled and went back to the hospital.
He looked out there. "Hill, who's your assistant on the hell
"Filling in for Joyce? Hillmond."
"Call him up. He has a six week trial to help you. She'll be
on bed rest for the blood clots that long." She nodded, calling
him to come up.
Dawn woke up to a warm, nice feeling. She looked to her left,
finding Ares. Then to her right, finding Loki. "I don't want
you two in bed with me." They smirked. "Out!" They
flinched and the dream faded. She sighed, holding her chest.
Clint looked at her. "Us?"
"No, I saw Loki and Ares."
"Eww," he agreed, taking a kiss.
She looked at him. "You don't taste right." He blinked at her. She looked around. "This isn't our room."
"It's a guest suite at the compound," Clint said.
Dawn touched her mind with Clint's. No, he was somewhere
less warm and snuggly. They had the baby too. She
disappeared to them, opening the locks. They stared at her.
"What?" she demanded. She pouted. "I feel like shit."
She walked off rubbing her chest.
"She's still sick," Clint said.
Natasha nodded and they changed back to Loki and Ares. "Though it was nice she did unlock us."
Xander appeared, grinning at them. "Dirty tricks means you have a
better thing." He took Philip from them, then realized it was a
"We wouldn't have to resort to subterfuge if this wasn't going on," Loki said smugly.
Xander grinned. "Dad, subterfuge is your normal method of
operation." He clapped and things were back as they should
be. Dawn was back in the right realm. His father and new
stepmother weren't. Philip was safely snuggling on Mommy
Natasha. Clint was snoring. Phil was teasing the unhappy
baby that he couldn't get free of Mommy. Natasha finally woke up
enough to glare at him. "Changing diapers?" She handed him
over. "Thanks." They changed him and came back to make sure
they were Clint and Natasha. When Loki and Ares tried it again,
Xander did something slightly evil and wicked. He changed it so
their powers went through the other. So Ares had to channel Loki's
powers and Loki had to channel Ares' powers for them to get through
them. And it only worked during sex. Actual, penetrative
sex. He grinned at the howling going on about that. "Then
next time, don't try shit." He waved.
Phil smirked. "That was mean." He kissed him and winked. "Natasha, want us to take Philip with us?"
"He'll fuss," Clint complained quietly. "Did you have to make them
shout?" Xander came over to test him again and broke the link
back to Loki. Then Natasha's back to Ares. Dawn growled and
glowed brightly. "No, you're not a goddess in more than our
lives," he said.
"If she does become one, I could make it so you're each other's," Xander
offered with a grin. "It's great when I get prayers from Phil."
"I hear plenty of prayers to me," Clint said. "Though if they keep
that up, can I become a god for about ten minutes to fix that?"
Phil muted it. They finally got to it and the curse that Phil had
laid took effect.
"Mother fucking bitch!" Ares shouted.
Dawn blinked up at the ceiling. "No language like that around my
son unless it comes from my mouth and second, shut the hell up and enjoy
it! That's what you expected him to do!" Suddenly they shut
up. She smiled. "Thank you." She took her son
back. "Aww, Phil changed you. That's very nice of your
godfather, huh?" She curled up around him to snuggle.
"Want us to take him for the night so you get some uninterrupted sleep?" Phil asked.
"Okay." They disappeared, settling in to watch for more asshole behavior.
Dawn yawned, pulling Natasha against her back. She was pliable but
vacant. Clint was the same way. She stared then up.
"Not nice." Xander came back to check, scowling. "Where are
"In their heads. Go join them." She nodded and did that. That was nicer.
In the west coast SHIELD office, Natasha smiled and adjusted one of the
pads attached to her temple. They'd be able to destroy the decoy
thems soon. It had helped because they could go into the
contaminated area. It was a better use of them than using them on
missions in her opinion, one that Clint shared with her. So it was
good and now she could enjoy Dawn and Philip. Because somehow
Dawn had pulled him in.
They were back in her hidden forest bedroom. Philip was liking the
bed. Especially since a butterfly had flown in and was sitting
just out of reach for him. He was going to get the pretty thing to
Clint smiled at him then kissed Dawn. She moaned into it.
"Relax. No sex in here. Especially not with sprout down
"No, cuddles are great," she promised. They curled up around
her. He finally caught the butterfly by a wing but it escaped and
flew off out the window. Philip pouted and pointed. "I
know. Come cuddle?" He crawled up to cuddle them. "So
what happened during that time flip?" Clint looked at her.
"Has to have been something huge." He showed her. She
moaned. He nodded. "Sometimes I hate them."
"Us too," Natasha said, stroking her fingers through Dawn's hair.
"One of us should be paying attention to the real world."
Clint nodded. "Want to draw straws?" She shook her head and
took a moan-inducing kiss then kissed Philip on the head before going
back to her body. He kissed Dawn. "I'm greedy."
"I like that you hoard me sometimes," Dawn said with a smile.
"Good. When you're stronger, expect some of it."
"I'm still going to do those costumes." He moaned. She grinned. "I'll enjoy them."
"So will I." He patted his son on the back, making him belch but coo in his sleep. "Thanks, son."
Natasha blinked up at the scientists. "It has worked so they are
good for communicable disease tending." She sat up and pulled off
the pads. "She's out of quarantine."
"Those are very expensive models," one huffed.
Natasha looked at him. "My Widow's Bite is more expensive.
Those cost under two hundred each to build. You knew they were
meant for a contagious moment. Also, they have not gathered the
cell samples that you wanted. We saw that programming and ended
it." One lunged at her. She was a bit slow so the needle
caught her in the arm. That scientist died however.
"Coulson!" He appeared in pajama pants and got the others in there
with the gun that appeared in his hand. She held her shoulder.
He looked at the needle. "We'll go to the infirmary." He
took her and Clint with him. That woke Clint up enough to blink at
them and then go back to Dawn's side. They got Natasha treated
and gave her something to counteract the poison. Coulson shook his
head. "Not even one of mine. I'm ashamed that they're not
using their resources." He disappeared to tell Fury. Fury
gave his pajama pants, socks, and bare chest a look over then stared at
him. "Saving Agents Romanoff and Barton from the scientists out
"What did they do?"
"Tried to poison them. They didn't like that Natasha and Clint
removed the cell sampling program of the clones. Or that they were
going to be destroyed since they had been in where Dawn had smallpox."
"Great," he said bluntly. "How much is that going to cost us?"
"Just under two hundred each to make." Fury smiled at that low
number. "They were extremely useful for the contagious disease
shielding. It let a living being be in there with them. The
life model decoys were excellent for the comfort role."
"Good. Maybe we can market them for doctors in such times."
Phil nodded and went home. He sent that idea down to his PR
department. They came up with other things, like radiation
contaminated areas and bomb clean up duties. That would probably
also be useable in the warzones to clear bombs. He assigned new
scientists, ones that weren't out for themselves, to the project.
It gave Banner a reason to be on the west coast with his wife while she
Dawn blinked at her mates the next morning when they walked in. "There were not yous."
"We were testing the new golems that they designed for
infiltration. That let us get inside the quarantine field with you
since they can be destroyed," Natasha said with a smile.
Dawn grinned back. "That sounds neat."
"It was but tiring," Clint said, laying down beside her on the suite's
bed. Natasha got her other side and they cuddled. "Can we
all nap?" Dawn nodded, snuggling in better. They pulled the
blankets up, made the room a bit chilly, and snuggled in. "Who has
the baby?" Dawn pointed. Natasha got him and brought him
over. "Is he napping with us?"
"He'll be fine. I'll have him." That got a nod and they settled in
to rest. Philip was awake for part of it but he enjoyed playing
with their fingers and toes, and crawling up and down the bed. He
was active enough that each time he quit moving it woke Clint, so he'd
Clint had the vision this time instead of Dawn, though he knew she had
seen it. Natasha had mirrored it. So they all woke up with
migraines. He stared at them. "I say we proactively turn him
into a ferret again," he said quietly, snuggling onto Dawn's
shoulder. "Then we raid the fucker."
"We have to save Xander," Dawn said quietly. "PHIL!" she hissed as
loud as she dared with her headache. No answer. "Bia?
Or John?" He appeared, blinking at them. "Read the
vision. It has where someone's trying to chain Xander up."
"There's a battle I can't get to." He read her mind, one eyebrow
going up. "Hell no!" He patted them and sent a bit of
healing toward them. "Just... let us handle it, guys."
"I'd say I'd come up and handle it," Dawn offered.
"No, you keep your temper." He patted her leg again and
disappeared with a flash of noise, heat, and light as he landed on that
other realm. "So," he said, staring at the reasons behind
it. "You're so desperate for humanity to end that you're going to
try to break a *bond*?"
"She's mortal," his mother said.
"Mother, Dawn's the Key. She's not mortal. She's presently
immortal actually." He stared at her. "You trying to harm
your sons isn't bad enough?"
"You will appreciate it when things are as they should be, son."
"And yet, you pushed and shoved Xander and Phil together."
"If she had not interfered," Odin said. "None of this would be necessary."
"Yeah, because Xander and Phil would both be dead." Odin
shrugged. "Great." He blasted them all. Odin gasped at
the semi-mortal injury. If it wasn't healed he'd die in a few
days of it. John changed his clothes to his official hunting
outfit. "Did you think those of us who broke into Creation for the
battle against Thanos healed those rips?" he asked snidely.
"I would have," Odin said firmly, holding his stomach.
"That's such a lie. You haven't healed the tiny one you got ages ago, Odin."
Odin roared out a battle yell and lunged for John.
"Hold!" the Norns ordered as they appeared. "Are you stupid!"
"You have picked your side in this battle," Odin sneered.
Alana appeared as she was called to. "We must let Xander prove himself by letting him work his own way free."
The Norns all slapped her, hard. "Frigga," one shouted.
"Come educate your youngest!" She appeared, grimacing at Odin and
John fighting. "She does not know."
Frigga opened her mouth, then shut it and licked her lips. "The
only way that your father would allow Alexander to pick up his duty was
if he made a blood vow on the Tree of Life to protect it. Every
other year as required, he spills his blood on the roots.
When he got so ill at twenty, the tree and he had to be merged a bit to
heal him from the infection." Alana gaped. "The tree treats
him as a true brother and twin. If our grandson were to die, so
would we all when the Tree does."
She clasped her hands together. "Which is why all this has been so
very poorly done by those who started the tree in motion." Odin
paused to stare at her. She stared back. "If he dies, we all
die," she reminded him. "Did someone make you forget that?"
She walked off. "You are no spouse of mine, Odin. You have
become something that I know not what but it will never touch me or my
family again." She pulled power to her. "Enough!" she
ordered quietly. The world around them froze. John was
staring at her, looking mildly discontent. "I did not allow this."
"Yeah, you did," John told her. "You didn't stop it. That
means you allowed it. Refusing to do anything is the same as
She nodded. "I can see that point and I've heard it from your brother's mouth more than once. Go rescue him."
"Phil is. With Fenrir I might add." She nodded, looking down
at Odin, who was bleeding in the snow. He stared at his mother,
who was starting to cry. "No wonder our sisters have safely been
with Apollo's retinue." He walked over Odin. "You are not
worthy to piss on." He looked at Frigga. "What do you plan
on doing about this?"
"Alexander is the son of my adopted son. He is family to me," she
said, looking up at him. "As you are, John." She smiled
sadly and patted him on the cheek. "It may be too late."
"You forgot which child you speak of," John said with a smirk.
"Xander has never failed." He looked at Odin then at her. "I
will deal with him as is just as he's called a blood feud onto my
"I say not!" his mother ordered.
He stared at her. "You are no longer our family, Mother. We
cleave to the patriarch of the family, Xander." She went into a
wailing fit. He looked at Frigga again. "I cannot abide by
this. Should I have his things moved?"
"Nay. He is more than welcome on his own home realm, John."
She squeezed his hand. "Alana, take your father back to
Valhalla. If he does not heal, he'll be taking up different
residences. If he does, he'll be camping in the barn until he can
find a new suite." They faded out.
John went to help Phil. "Our mother," he said when he appeared and
Phil looked at him. "Xander, remember, you're linked to the
"I know," he said from behind the wall of fire and vines. "I love the tree for saving me."
Another Xander and Ares got there with theirs and Loki. "I cannot
abide by this level of bullshit," Loki said, calling the fire to him.
The other Xander raised a hand. "Let me." He touched the
vines and they withered. He touched the fire and it went to
ice. He moved forward, helping himself out of there. Xander
was bleeding. "Did you get stabbed?"
"While I was unconscious." He looked at him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He grinned. "It's not right that you have
to go through all this shit." He gave him a hug and some energy,
helping him heal himself. John and Phil grabbed on to help.
Fenrir rested against his thigh, getting petted. Xander closed his
eyes and flashed, then came back mostly healed. "Thank you," the
other Xander said with a smile.
Xander kissed him gently. "You are great." Xander
grinned. "And I have a room set up if you need to move things to a
safer location." He looked at Phil, pulling him closer to kiss
"Let me take some of it, Xander."
"Nay, they are my injuries and I will bear them. I will not see
you hurt if it was not done to you." He stared at him then kissed
him again before grinning. "The temple?"
"All locked down. No one can get into it."
Loki and both Ares looked and nodded. "Except Gaia. She moves through the very blades of grass," Loki said quietly.
Xander looked then at them. "Thank thee."
"Can you maybe remove the spell now?" Ares asked dryly with a smirk.
"No, because you two are actual mates," Xander said with a grin.
They both stared. "I have no idea why Dad's been stalking Dawn so
long, or you, Ares, but the dark beauty of power you're both looking for
is in the other. I checked with the Fates and the Norns."
Loki looked at his mate. "Cunning, strong. Pretty."
Ares sneered. "I can see what you do," he said, looking at his son
again. "But like yours it should be our choice."
Xander nodded. "And yet you forced, Dad. So I'm repaying
it. You're the only forced marriage I'll probably ever do unless
it's in punishment." Ares slumped, shaking his head. "I owe
you both." They nodded. He clasped hands with them.
"And quit stalking Dawn, people. I saw the vision she just
had." He looked at Phil.
"I did not. I couldn't break off to check on her when she
called." John passed it over by touching his shoulder. He
looked at him. "I'd kill him myself." John smirked.
"He's going to be a one-eyed ferret again." He looked his mate
over. "Are you well enough?"
"Yes." Phil stared at him. "I am with those who are behind
me." He looked at the other Ares. "Thank thee." He
shook his hand.
"My version of you is one of my anchors, Alexander. I know what
sort of hell he can bring to the world when he's pissed at someone."
Xander grinned. "You can both stay at my temple for a bit if you
want to rest. I have to talk to Gaia and end a few other
plots. Including my mother."
"No, that's my job," Phil told him. "You are not going to take out
your family." Xander smiled and nodded. He took them all
back to the temple. They stared at Gaia since she was looking
around. "You started all this. Why?"
"Because I'm tired," she admitted, staring at them. "I had no intention of them reacting so poorly."
"Then you should've taught them better," John said. "Roque?" He appeared looking sweaty. "Who?"
"SHIELD being morons. They tried to attack the barrier shield."
"Knock them out," Xander said. "SHIELD's too important to kill them all."
"Use the sleep gas," Phil offered. "I made a new batch."
Xander grinned at him. "I made that one type as well." Roque
smirked and got them from the armory to hand out to their people.
He lost his smile when he looked at the eldest goddess. "You have
nearly destroyed that which you created. Being tired is not a
good reason for a hard hand-over. You could have done it a lot
"I know nothing about tactics or politics, Xander. You and I are much alike in those ways."
"I learned tactics."
"And I learned politics, barely." She stared at him. "This
is not what I meant to have happen when I changed you from a hunter god
like Artemis is into a warrior god, Xander." He nodded once.
"I meant none of this. Not your mother's problems, not Odin's,
not a single bit of it."
"And yet we deal with the hand we've been dealt," he said.
"I know and for that I ask for forgiveness and the right to go on permanent vacation."
He snorted. "Do you honestly think I'd let you move in with the
Titans?" She gasped, looking at him. "Oh, no, your
punishment is being our Earth goddess. You will be doing a lot of
the same things." He stared at her. "You tampered, now you
can help fix what you tinkered with." She grimaced but
nodded. "Reap what you sow, Gaia," he said in Egyptian. She
shivered but nodded she would. "Good. Then please banish our
mother to somewhere. Ask O'Neill if he has a good planet that
needs a really bitchy river goddess." John looked at him.
"That way we heave her through and let her deal with it."
"As long as there is a river, she'll be able to reattach," John
said. "But she won't be in our direct influence. Her aides?"
"Up to them," Phil said. "If not, Gladriel could easily come
manage the special collection and the library for us." That got a
nod from Xander. "We'll sit, we'll bandage, we'll talk," he said
quietly, putting a hand on his back.
Gaia looked at him. "Odin was ever stupid. It's why we were
shocked he ascended so high and managed to find a wife." She laid a
hand on his side, healing the injuries. "Thank you for the mercy,
He grinned. "It's not fully a mercy. We both realize that."
"I do. It means I'll at least get more gardening time in."
She helped them walk up there. She looked at Loki and Ares.
"I see he finally pointed out that you're actual, true mates."
They glared. She smiled. "Not my doing," she quipped.
"No, that was Aphrodite's," Xander said. "When she and Ares broke
up, she found someone that had what Ares really needed in a mate.
Strength, power, enough darkness to understand when he fell into his own
but enough light to bring him up. Cunning, strong physically and
magically. Able to put up with Discord and Strife."
Ares blinked a few times. "Why didn't she set up me up with Strife?"
"He was your subordinate, not powerful enough to help you, and you
would've killed him," Phil said, staring at him. "Beyond that, she
wanted him for someone else I believe."
Xander nodded. "She did."
Ares gaped, looking at them. "Damn it!"
"I never considered that either," the other Ares said, looking at his
Xander, who was grinning. "That's weird. Why stalk Dawn?"
"Both were drawn to her darker nature when she's in a bad spot," Xander
said. "They could both see her as their ideal consort, or as close
as someone would get. Neither one can straightforwardly deal with
that so they made plans to capture her, make her prove herself to
them. Which she did by beating them."
"I wanted someone glamorous," Ares admitted, looking at Loki, who was a bit scrawny.
"I did just fine as the First Husband," he sneered.
"And as the first wife," Xander quipped. "Though you still needed
to figure out how to do your hair, Dad." Loki glared. He
grinned. "I can do the spell again."
"You will not," he said firmly.
Ares, the other one, laughed. "You two are much alike in the ways that count."
"Just like Phil and I are," Xander agreed with a smile for them.
The new couple groaned. "A bit savage and the other more suave and
calm; you each have your elements of power and yet need someone who can
smack you upside the head for bad idea time."
Their Ares grimaced. "I've mostly grown out of the savage times,
kid." He looked at Loki again. Looking objectively, the kids
were right, Loki was a good fit. Annoying as hell but a good
choice for his consort. "We'll work out that whole 'trying to best
me' thing you have going."
"And your version as well," Loki said dryly.
Ares smirked. "I'm better at leading takeover attempts."
"And yet I've countered all of them, smoothed out the wrinkles you've caused, and started a better plan."
"You two give us more hell and I'm sending you both to another realm,"
Xander warned. "Permanently. I will so kick your realms or
your planets." They nodded they could keep it down. "Thank
you! And if that was your plan with Fury, I'd stop it before it
gets him tortured."
Loki shook his head slowly, looking that way. "That is your mother."
"Who was in league with Odin," John said quietly.
"I have no mother," he announced. Gongs rang.
"I have no mother," John agreed. A few more gongs rang. Phil glared up and they stopped.
"I used to get bells," Gaia said.
"There were fewer gods to have to note them," John quipped. "Now
you can't hear even the gongs over the blabbing and whining."
Ares and Loki were staring at each other, finding all the little weak
spots and the spots that were too strong to pick at. Then Loki
looked up. "Not all chaos magic or plans come from me, Stark," he
Phil looked and went to tell him to yell at the Japanese Kitsune that
was pretending to be someone's lab assistant. He looked up as
bells and gongs rang. "Must you?" he asked. Tony looked
confused. "Godly announcement system. Ares and Loki were
just formally bound for good. They're mates."
"Like you and Xander?"
"Without the depth of bond. They might grow into it."
Tony shook his head quickly. "I guess they can spar for fun and all that. Maybe for who's on top."
"Xander and I do sometimes," he agreed with a slight smirk. "We're in the middle of issues."
"I heard. Can I help?"
"We're going to kick a few's planets." He left.
"Xander?" He looked over. Ares and Loki were kissing like it
was a battle. Xander kissed him and he smiled back. "Now
"Go depossess your boss. If I do it, I'll make him brainless."
"I can't say I won't."
John went to do that, breaking the powers over Fury. "Our former mother is an imbecile."
Fury stared at him. "Can you actually ditch a parent?"
"Yes. And if you even thought about that plan to disrespect Dawn's marriage, there's going to be issues."
"She's part of SHIELD."
"No she's not. She's part of Stark. Stark and SHIELD are not
the same." Fury started to open his mouth. "Nope." He
changed him down into a ferret. "Agent Hill?" She came to
the doorway. "Why are you here so late?"
"Tara had a date," she said, sounding a bit bitter.
"No, she had dinner with a member of the coven."
"Who was flirting."
John looked at her. "Do you think Tara noticed it?" She
shook her head. Tara hardly ever paid any attention to people who
flirted. He held up the ferret. "The kids need a new pet,
"Yes, they do." She came in to look over his desk,
grimacing. "Being furry is nicer than a funeral." She
bundled it up and put it into the wall safe, taking the ferret from
him. "The twins will adore having a second pet. You can get
used to them while Tara and I talk. Thank you, John."
"Welcome. Call off the attack on the temple?" He disappeared, going back to the temple.
She called out there. "Whoever authorized that attack is no longer
an employee of this agency," she announced. The two agents in
charge knew who she was. She had beaten them plenty of
times. They didn't stop. "Hastings, if you do not stop that
pointless attack, you will be terminated in both meanings of the
word." No stopping. She called up their special
units. "Someone has seen fit to attack Alexander's temple using
SHIELD operatives. Go stop them somehow."
"Limit?" one asked.
She sighed. "Try for non-lethal but...." She waved the hand
with the ferret. "I doubt the director will do more than
squeak." They stared. "John Sheppard." They nodded and
went to handle that. She looked at him. "Sir, I have no
idea why you did that but how stupid can you be?" She listened to
them stopping the battle and only a few had to be shot. Maybe they
were under control, maybe they weren't. She'd find that out in
the morning. She took the ferret to Tara's, picking the locks to
walk in. Tara was on the couch with a fussy Craig. He cooed
and took the ferret to cuddle. "Watch out, he might bite
you." She looked at Tara. "How was your date?"
"It wasn't a date." She sipped her tea, watching Craig play with
the little black ferret with an eyepatch. "What did he do this
"He was going to break up the trio by giving Dawn to someone and locking Clint up."
"Great!" she sneered, glaring at the ferret. She looked at her wife. "No more work?"
"No. They cleaned up where someone had tried to attack the
temple." She sat down beside Tara, relaxing. "Craig, can you
go back to bed with your new friend?" He babbled at them, patting
the ferret. "Yes, he'll be a good pet." She got up and changed
him then got him and the ferret both into the crib. Not like Fury
could hop down in his present form. A bundle of ferret sized
clothes appeared on the coffee table but she'd ignore it for now.
She wasn't the sort to dress up pets in silly costumes. She walked
back out to sit facing Tara. "So, date?"
Tara put down her mug. "It wasn't a date, Maria."
"It was, she was flirting." Tara glared. "Someone reported it to me."
"It's fairly clear that we're not going forward." Maria inhaled
sharply. "To do that you would've had to show up now and
then. It's clear to me that your work is more important."
"No, and I've been cutting down on hours."
"Which you never spend with us."
"No, I've been seeing one of our counselors." Tara blinked at
her. "I was trying to work that out." She shifted closer,
taking Tara's hand to hold. "We can go together. He thought
it might help some." She looked down then up at her. "You
took off your ring?"
"I had to. My hand's swelling again." Maria nodded, giving
it a squeeze. "I.... We'd need to find sitters."
"I can arrange it so they're while the kids are in school. The school has a daycare."
"Which we can't really afford."
"It's tight but we can afford it once a week." Tara nodded they
could possibly do that. "Have we talked to Phil about child
support maybe?" she asked quietly.
"He already does that. That's how we're able to afford them having
clothes and food." Maria grimaced but nodded. "Our budget
is not growing any."
"Maybe we can cut out some things."
"Sure, like rent? It just went up again," Tara complained.
"I'll get onto Stark about the old building or we can find somewhere
cheaper." Tara nodded. She pulled her closer. "You
should've told me."
"You weren't here."
"Even when I'm not here, unless I'm in the middle of a crisis you can
talk to me, Tara. Not like I can't tell Joyce to handle something
and talk if it's important." She cuddled her. This was a
huge problem. Tara wasn't getting a paycheck from SHIELD, only
from the occasional freelance potion or something. The kids were
getting older, maybe it was time she thought about going to work part
time. They'd figure it out in a few minutes, after they got enough
Dawn blinked awake in the morning, looking at her staring spouses.
"Did I do something while I was asleep?" she asked through a yawn.
"No," Clint said, grinning at her. "Just staring at your
hair." She grimaced and tried to smooth it down but it was
braided. He nodded. "Not your doing. It's done like
someone else did it."
"How did Callia sneak in to braid my hair without me realizing it?"
Natasha shook her head. "I don't think it was her since mine was
french braided." Dawn groaned, sitting up to cast a telling
spell. Hera had. They shrugged. Someone would tell
them why later. They got up and took a shower together, then came
out to play with the baby. Who wasn't there. They looked
around the suite. Something seemed different. That's when
Hades showed up.
"Relax," he ordered when Dawn started to tear up. "Not why you're
here. Philip's with my wife charming her. You're down here
to protect you three from the hellstorm going on upstairs." He
created a portal to show them. "Persephone demanded," he said
"Our physical bodies?" Dawn asked.
"Here. That way no one freaks out. Hera did your hair
because you should be made pretty when you come to the realm of the
dead." He rolled his eyes. "Though half of that was her
Dawn looked at him. "Can I go help?"
"No. Xander and Gaia have worked it out. They're putting out
minor fires along the way." Dawn relaxed and nodded. He
grinned. "It'll be okay. It was protective and I'll go tell
your boss for you, Dawn." He disappeared, making Tony and Steve
jump when he appeared in the office. "Relax. They're with me
so they're protected. Hera sent them because the world nearly
ended last night." He looked at them. "The ones that want
their old power levels back tried to get Xander and Phil out of the way,
including Odin and their mother." Tony was glaring.
"So Hera moved them and the baby. He's cooing at Persephone until
she wants another one." He grinned. "By the way, Stark, Phil
said something about Fury's plans against the trio. Not sure what
he meant. I know Fury's presently a ferret with the twins Tara
has." He put his hands in his pants pockets. "So they're
safe but not showing up today."
"Why send them down there?" Steve asked quietly.
"Because if the worst happened and they destroyed this reality, the
realms of the dead aren't in the same area really. It's like
they're connected off to the edge as a bubble. That would mean
that Dawn could help those of us who were left restart things or go back
to fix it. Thanks to her work here, Dawn has great critical
problem solving skills," he said with a grin.
"She'd stop all the BS by stomping on the right people," Tony
agreed. "So they're fine, just displaced?" Hades
nodded. "Should we send them a care package of food?"
"We have human food down there, Stark, and even if they did eat food
from my realm, I wouldn't demand that they stay the way I did with my
wife. Dawn's got plenty of that already." Steve nodded,
blushing a tiny bit. "But they're fine. Philip's been
inhaling pomegranate jelly toast all morning and cooing at my wife's
hair things. He's definitely some sort of artistic." He
shrugged and smiled at Pepper when she paused in the doorway.
"They're safely hidden with me due to all the shit, Discord." She
changed back. "Ares send you?"
"I'm trying to figure out what's going on. Me, 'Pol, 'Sclep,
Artemis. No one's told us a thing." He showed her. She
nodded once. "The Key?"
"With me, her spouses and child too."
"Good!" she said, nodding quickly. "What are we doing about this?"
Ares appeared, looking relaxed and like he had been having a day off on
the beach by the dark board shorts and tank top. "Right now, we
stay out of it."
She stared at him. "Why are you wearing that?"
"Cupid banished us on a honeymoon," he said dryly. "It's a pretty beach in eastern Greece."
She blinked a few times. "Honeymoon?" she demanded.
He grimaced and shifted. "Xander and Phil had a point with the
whole forced thing. Apparently, when 'Dite and I broke up, she
found a mate who could handle the things she couldn't." Discord
was gaping. "Loki."
She blinked a few times then burst out laughing. She hugged
him. "At least you won't be bored." She looked at Hades, who
was smirking. "You knew?"
"Figured out that they were both stalking Dawn since they couldn't see
it for themselves. She was the next best thing." He looked
up and shook his head. "Have a good honeymoon, Ares."
"Thanks, Hades." He disappeared back to the beach.
Discord shuddered all over. "Let me ....move temples." She disappeared.
Hades nodded. "Ares can make Loki squeal like a stuck pig
apparently and the reverse is also true. I didn't think anyone was
as loud as Dawn was but Loki's squealing...." He disappeared.
Tony mumbled something. Steve looked at him. "What?"
"Now I know why some people online have requests for brain bleach," he muttered more loudly.
"I have no idea what you're talking about but bleach is about what I
need to not think about Loki and sex. So maybe I'll go do some
laundry. Bucky's as bad at it as Dawn is." He walked off
squinting to try to get rid of the headache. Bucky looked up from
reading to the kids, who had gotten him up apparently since he was still
in his pajama pants. "Laundry?"
"I can," Bucky said.
"Just found out Ares and Loki are really mated now and they're loud like Dawn."
Bucky winced then shook his head quickly. "If laundry helps you
take that out of your mind, go for it, Stevie. Mine's in front of
the dresser." Steve went to pick up everyone's laundry so he could
do it. The kids' shirts always needed special stain treatment,
and sometimes their pants too. So did Bucky's for all the stuff he
dropped while he was eating. The smell of bleach didn't help all
that much but the familiar, calming practice did.
Tony shuddered once he was alone and went to find Pepper. She
always had a way of taking the bad thoughts out of his head. Since
she was in the shower, that was really helpful in the best possible
way. Especially when she squealed because he joined her and then
pushed her against the wall to slide into her. "Bad ideas,
Pepper. Very, very bad thoughts." He thrust lightly, getting
her into the mood to make him do more work. It always
worked. She looked back at him. "Icky thoughts."
"The kids dating?" she asked with a slight grin.
"Ares and Loki were just married together and now they're on their honeymoon and we got told they're loud."
She shuddered and got free of him to turn around. She leaned
against the wall, hiking one leg over his thigh. He kindly lifted
her up and got back to taking the bad thoughts out of both of their
heads. Because even if you liked Ares or Loki, and the thought of
them together was hot, it was still a bit icky to them.
Dawn looked up. "I don't think me having a flirty yet trashy day
is going to help you any," she quipped. "I'm hoping being down
here is why I'm hearing Stark's bad thoughts."
"It is," Persephone said as she appeared with Philip, who squealed and
held out his arms to Daddy. She passed him over. "He's been a
very good boy for me. We've had jelly toast and my hair
accessories all day long." She smiled and patted him on the
cheek. "Such a good boy, Philip." He grinned and waved the
hair comb he had stolen. "I can't get him to give me that one."
Dawn held out a hand. "Please?" He pouted but handed it
over. She kissed him on the forehead, making him smile at Natasha,
who did the same thing. "Thank you. Good boy,
Philip." She handed it back. "He had a fascination with
Persephone put her hair back up. "They're shiny and textural to
him." She grinned at the baby. "We'll see you later, young
man. You're not due to come see us for ages yet." She faded
out. "The husband said it'll be another few hours. They're
hosting a dinner."
"Do we need to go?" Dawn called.
"Nope. They'll try to kill you three again."
"Okay. Thank you."
Dawn smiled at her spouses, then at the man who was staring at them from the doorway. "Hi, who're you?"
"I'm Tiberian. We wanted to know if you knew Xander."
"I do know Xander." She grinned. "I'm Dawn, I'm like his little sister, and these are my spouses."
He grinned back. He was a handsome young man. "That's
wonderful. Would you like to come join our party? We're in
the next area over." He pointed. "We have a lot of fun and
we're all Xander's ex's."
"No," Hades said as he appeared. "Dawn and her spouses are here as
immortals in protection. They don't need to join your orgy to
Xander." He stared at him. "How did you sneak past the
"You forgot Herat hates plants?" he offered with a grin.
"You people are some of the most picky," Hades complained, staring at
him. "No plants, no crystals, nothing pretty. I still have
to block that entry off."
"Set up his shrine there," Dawn said quietly. "That way they can
put scrolls with their memories there and stare at his picture?"
Hades stared at her, then grinned. "When you do pass over, you'll have a job, dear. You and those two both."
"I think paperwork for eternity is my hell," Clint said, cuddling the fussy baby. "No, you can't have his cape, son."
Hades looked at him, taking him to look at more closely.
"What?" The baby grinned and sucked on a finger but used his free
hand to play with his cloak clasp. "That's very pretty, yes.
Hephie made it for me." The baby beamed at him. He kissed
him on the cheek and handed him to Natasha, which made him squeal and
cuddle her. He looked at Clint. "I'll have you helping the
judges with the minor cases. You and her both." Natasha
smiled at that. He looked at the shade and took him back home,
setting up their altar to Xander there. None of them would want to
He left blank scrolls, quills, pots of ink, and pictures of them to
decorate. He made sure it grew into the walls around the
portal as well so they couldn't just move it. These shades were
some of his most sneaky. They came over to look and a bunch smiled
and wrote down their memories of Xander, though a few were writing out
more explicit poetry to him. Thankfully, Phil would never have to
join them and he was sane. They couldn't handle it if the new
Queen of the Gods was insane.
Gaia finished setting up the hall and yanked. She smiled.
"Let us eat and talk, people." They stared at her. All the
pantheons had their rulers up there. Even Odin, who was still
wounded. She stared at him. "You deserve much
worse." She smiled at the queens of the various
pantheons. "You can call the rest up. We did make enough
dinner for everyone." They sent out the calls.
Xander looked then grimaced. "Why is Dawn still with Hades?"
Phil stiffened. "Not dead, Phil. Protected." He sent a
shout at Hades. Who sent them up after putting on an
anti-poisoning charm. They settled in their seats when he
pointed. Philip got a highchair. Which made him happy.
He had a whole bunch of twinkly, sparkly people to stare at. Tara
got pulled up with her four. Who all got seats as needed.
Melissa smiled at Talsa. "Hi," Xander said with a grin at them.
"Hi, Daddy Xander," John chirped. "Philip!" He got up to go
hug him, getting slobbered on back by the baby. Melissa did the
same thing so they got put back into their seats.
Hera blinked at Tara. "I thought you had three, dear."
"My wife had Craig but he's still mine."
"That is true, he is your stepchild."
"I don't have stepchildren, Lady Hera. I have children." She
smiled and nodded at that. So did Gaia. Tara smiled at
them. "We will have manners." They settled in to watch the
strange people get called in and arranged.
Dawn handed Philip a cracker that appeared after tasting an edge.
Xander tested it and nodded. She smiled at him. "He played
with Persephone's hair things all morning."
"They're very pretty and if he wants to be artistic, we'll see if any of
the crafters in the family will teach him how to forge things.
You can do that for things like jewelry and hairpins. Two of the
GHS me do now."
Gaia smiled once everyone was there. "Children." They all
stared at her. "I did it on purpose. I'm tired." A few
started to open their mouths but she glared and they knew she'd paddle
them, even as adults. "I meant for it to go more smoothly and it
would have if some of you weren't overstepping your power-hungry
bounds." She smiled at Loki and Ares. "I'm so happy someone
finally pointed out where you've been blind, boys. You'll make a
fine couple and have many happy centuries together." She clasped
her hands together. "I've had enough. And if you don't think
I'll destroy all of you and start over, you're wrong." A few
shuddered and looked down. Zeus and Odin both sneered but that was
fine. She smiled. "Odin, did you think it was appropriate
to kill your family?"
"They have overstepped themselves," he sneered.
She smiled and patted him on the cheek, making him scream in pain as the
wound got bigger. "A mother is always the wrong one to peeve,
dear." She stared at him as he started to fade. "You are
immortal, no longer Godly, and it's going to take a long time for one of
us to put it back. As the only ones who can are myself, who is
probably a bit more forgiving, or the one you've tortured for years for
daring to be born, who is not very forgiving, you have fun with your
warriors." She looked at Zeus. "I've had enough."
"Gaia, it is your job."
"It's not my job. It's not a job I ever wanted. For that
matter it's not a job they ever wanted. They were going to keep it
quiet and do things behind the scenes until *some* people decided to
get cheeky." She smiled and depowered him as well. Zeus
yelled and grabbed himself. "I've had enough, children. The
handover is finished. The pouty times are finished. You
still have the same amount of power you had before but now Xander and
Phil are in charge instead of you trying to convince me you're
She smiled. "There will be no more attacks on their mortal, and
immortal, family members. There will be no more pouty fits being
thrown, there will be no more plots or plans to be made, especially at
the children in the family," she said, looking around. "Because as
Dawn noted, she can destroy humanity. If she has to get that mad
again because one of us directly or indirectly hurt her family, she
won't have to. She'll get to cheer me on. Because I've now
had fucking enough!"
Power went out. Gaia never swore. Ever. There were
whole pantheons cowering under their tables because she just did.
She realized that. That's why she kept it so rare. "Am I
clear, children? Are there questions?" She pulled in her
power. The bit of heavy rains that had started when her powers
flashed quit being so strong. It might not flood now. Xander
cleared his throat and she reduced them even more to a gentle, loving,
nurturing rain. "Are there any others?" They shook their
heads, looking down. "Then let's have a nice family dinner, shall
we?" She smiled. "Xander, would you please introduce your
"These children have been adopted into the family," Xander said.
"These are Tara and my consort's children. That is Melissa, John,
Craig, and Danielle. On this other side is my adopted sister's son
Philip." He smiled and pulled Stark, Steve, Pepper, and their
kids. "These, through Callia, are also adopted into our
house. Callia is the daughter of Dawn's sister, who was like my
own as well. These are her siblings Liz and Chris." He
pointed. "Sean and Diana are the brother and sister of Callia, as
well as Thor's bride Artemis." He smiled and created seats for
One of the Celtic healing goddesses got up to look Callia over.
"We hereby remove you from the slayer line, child. No future
slayer should have magic, it would fight with the slayer spirit and
cause you harm." Callia stared, mouth slightly open. The
goddess shot a look at a few of hers and a few others.
They got up to remove her from the lineage. It took five gods from
at least two pantheons to agree to it. One stared at her.
"You'd make an excellent one but your mind is more important to the
world, child," he decided. He smiled at Tony. "She is
definitely a chip off your block, Stark."
"I'm Daddy's female clone," Callia quipped with a grin. "Thank you."
They smiled at her. "You are most welcome," the first one said,
kissing her on the cheek. "She'll probably read as a possible one
as the spirit has taken notice," she told Xander, who smiled and
nodded. "But you were correct, she was not within the guidelines
we set." She patted her on the hand. Tony was staring but
Pepper was glaring. "The no magic in slayers guideline was set
because it would fight against the slayer spirit that gifts her," she
said. "Which would end up harming her in a permanent
fashion." She stared at her. "That is also why none of
them show stronger book smart gifts usually. They're usually
people smart, not book smart. That would conflict with their
essence gifts and get them dead when they hesitated."
"I understand those reasons," Pepper said with a smile for her daughter
then at the goddess. "Thank you all for that gift."
The only male waved a hand. "I'm looking forward to what she'll create." He went back to his seat.
"We're going to use your next competition to see who gets named to
crafting positions," Phil told him with a smile. "That way you can
talk about it."
He laughed. "We might like that." He winked at his fellow crafting god.
Tony looked down at Coulson. "I'm not being named to anything, right?"
"We'd have to make you immortal, Stark," Xander quipped.
"No thank you."
"Thanks." He sat up and smiled at Pepper and Steve, who patted
him. Liz squealed and reached for Philip when she spotted
him. "You can have Philip later," Tony said patiently. Liz
scowled at him. "Don't start in front of everyone.
Please?" She pouted and pointed at her buddy. Natasha moved
Philip's high chair over so they were next to each other. That
made them happy and they could babble and fling food at each other
Aphrodite cooed. "They're so cute!" She looked at her husband. "I want one."
He nodded. "We'll figure out how to do that."
Gaia walked over with a huff and healed some of his injuries caused by
Zeus throwing him off the mountain. "He should've been beaten to
death for that." She went back to her seat. Craig was
staring at her. She smiled at him. "Eat, Craig." He
pouted at his mother.
"Mommy Maria will see you later, son. If she gets done at work."
Phil looked over. He didn't want to do something totally evil
but.... He considered it, looking at Xander, who shrugged.
"I might," he admitted quietly.
Tara looked down there. "I sense a bad idea," she said bluntly but quietly. "Don't you dare."
"Just a broken leg?" Xander offered. "I can go break her leg for you, Tara, so you two have time to talk."
Tara blinked at him. "No."
"Fine." She rolled her eyes and shook her head, looking at her
children. Phil was sitting on their other side to help her with
them. They all listened to Phil. Even Craig listened to
Phil. "Why do we have a ferret?" she asked quietly.
"Because someone was under influence from our maternal unit," Xander
said dryly. "Who had the worst ideas on how to break up the trio
again." He looked down then at her. "Just don't ask.
You'll have a fit that'll have people asking if you're pregnant again."
She nodded. "That's fine. The kids love the ferret and he
doesn't bite like some of them do. But who takes over?"
"Not Maria," Phil decided, looking at Xander.
"Having studied other realm comic books for clues on what we might have happen, we can't name the most open choice."
"No, we can't." They shared a look and nodded once. Not
Maria and not Tony Stark. That left a few people. Including
Joyce. She about did half the work anyway.
Ares looked up at the head table then at his spouse. They shared a
few thoughts and then sent them at the ruling couple. That would
suit their plans and keep things strong. Xander sent back an
idea. That got a laugh that made Loki choke but shake his
head. Joyce would keep them strong and straight but she wasn't
going to be listened to by some of the agents. Though it was a
good choice for most things. Co-heads were great. That got a
nod from Phil. They'd tell their minions in positions of power in
the morning. That way things were settled easily.
Xander stood up. "I did promise that there would be no forced
marriages, but I decided to break that for one single thing to ease the
strain they were creating on humanity. Frankly, they were creating
things that meant I slept alone all too often." A few gods choked
and a few others moaned. "So I am proud to announce that my
father has finally found a mate worthy of him in Ares." He
smiled. "We hope that their plots against each other are now
"Easier to work together to get where we need to be," Ares quipped.
"We'll still be watching," Phil assured them with a smug look.
Loki smirked. "It's no fun if we're not being watched." He sipped his wine.
Xander grinned. "You notice that a few have went to become
goddesses for other peoples?" They nodded they understood that
threat. "Thank you." He sat down. "So we have dual
reasons to celebrate tonight and I expect at least one sibling,
parents." He smirked evilly at them.
"When you two have one, we'll consider it," Ares quipped back. His ass was already clenching hard.
The Norns giggled like school girls high on candy. "Give it a few
centuries, boys. They'll have lovely kids then." Ares and
Loki both stared at that trio. They smirked at them. "I'm
sure you'll have a wonderful warrior wench then as well, Ares. No
matter which of you gets knocked up."
Ares shuddered. "I'll keep that in mind. Fiona would *adore* siblings."
"Yes, she would," Fiona quipped from her seat beside Cupid. She grinned and waved. "Hi, Stepmommy."
"Just call me Loki, Fiona. I don't need to be a stepparent."
She giggled. "Of course you are! You married my
daddymommy!" She beamed. "I got to be a flower girl and
spray them with flowers."
"You did," Ares agreed. "Eat please, daughter." She dug in
again. He looked at Cupid. "Thank you for babysitting."
"She's staying with us, Pops. Before she gets warped." He
smirked slightly. "Though I'm happy for you both as well.
We'll lay blessings on the relationship later." Ares stuffed his
mouth before he could say anything to upset Cupid. He and Strife
shared a smirk, then a kiss. "Xander, can I marry here?"
"Yup, if you want." He created the challis and bonding cord. "Right now?"
"Yeah, right now," he said, staring at his mate. Strife was more pale than usual. "Babe?"
"Yeah, now's good," he said after taking a deep breath and a drink of
wine. They stood up and walked forward. Hera got up to do
the bonding for them. The whole hall cheered and they had a real
party for a good reason.
"Where's your honeymoon going to be?" one of the Celtic goddesses said with a grin.
"We went to that totally private little grove with the beach," Cupid
said with a grin. "Fiona got to play and learn new plants while we
had fun." They sat down and got back to dinner, happier now that
it was over with. Aphrodite was sniffling but they had done it so
she couldn't have a hand in their wedding preparations. Neither
one wanted to get married looking like rent boys so that was a great
"Hephie, my baby's married," Aphrodite sobbed on his shoulder.
"Are you sure you're not already pregnant?" Hera asked her.
Aphrodite glared at her. "You are having some mood swings, dear."
"The machine that I was looking at for my bimbo scientist of destruction didn't fire at her," Diama quipped.
"I thought that was like an Ancient dryer," Aphrodite said.
"No. I said don't touch it because it can make your skin dry when
it makes you pregnant. You didn't listen. Did you touch the
machine?" She nodded slowly. "Huh." She sipped her
juice with a grin for Hephie. She adored Hephie.
Apollo got up with a sigh to test her. "You are," he announced.
"Triplet little girls." Aphrodite cooed with a grin, holding her
stomach. "And they are Hephaestus' kids. Somehow the machine
activated his sperm." He sat down and decided he needed to be
drunk. Really, really drunk. Aphrodite being pregnant always
caused everyone a lot of work. Though, with triplets he could put
her on temple rest and restrict her powers a bit so they didn't cause
so many problems.
"Congratulations," Xander and Phil told them.
The president came off the elevator the next morning at SHIELD's main
building, staring around the room. "This is nicer than I
expected. Fury never cared how something looked as long as it
"Most of the fabric is sound baffling," Maria said. "Sir, is there a problem?"
"Slightly, Agent Hill. Of which we're going to be talking
about. Open his office for me please, Mrs. Banner?" She
nodded and did that. He walked in there with Agent Hill.
"I'm told that this agency's director is presently a ferret?"
He stared at her. "I heard why, kid, calm down." She relaxed
slightly. "Where are the plans?" She pointed at the
safe. "Let me see them. I might want him doing something
more useful than teaching your children how to be sneaky." She got
them for him so he could look them over. He nodded slowly.
"That would've gotten him killed." He handed them back.
"Make sure those don't make it into the open. It'd only taint his
legacy as director." He looked around the office. It had a
slight paperwork mess. Then he looked at her. "The people
who give me bad ideas of what might happen and who should handle it have
said that you need fewer hours, Agent Hill," he said, looking at
her. "I'm not unkind and frankly I'm a bit pissed that he made you
work all those hours so you didn't see your kids."
"Some of that was necessary, sir. I'm working on it."
He nodded. "Well, you won't have to work on it as hard.
You're not taking over." She stiffened and nodded. "Not
because you're not qualified, it's not your next position to be in, none
of that. If things were different, you'd be nominated.
Thankfully, I've seen some evidence from other realms that had
problems." He grimaced. "There will be co-heads. They
can work together. One will be listened to in the field and the
other will be listened to in the office." He smiled. "It
will work out and you'll keep your present position. Though, Gaia
has noted to me that she'd like to paddle you for all the hours you've
denied your children your attention."
"Yes, her. She showed up to the meeting I had late last night with a lot of influential people."
"Which other gods were involved?" she asked quietly.
"That bastard former first husband's group had a few there, so did Ares'
generals. They all made points based on keeping SHIELD strong and
able to defend everyone without other agencies whining at us.
Which I agree with. The FBI is an investigative agency, they come
after something happens. You and yours go out to solve things
before they can happen. Which means that you need someone a bit
sneaky. Someone who has some idea of what to do with the
agency. Including all the overtime you log in, young lady."
He smiled. "You're keeping your position but I have no doubt that
someone will be enforcing normal shifts outside of emergencies.
Though, before you worry, I'm not naming Stark. I saw how that
could lead to problems and I'd never want those here." He
smiled. "Mrs. Banner?" She came in with some paper and a
pen. "Dear, I think you should sit."
"Am I being fired, sir?"
"No, you're being promoted as one of the new co-heads of SHIELD."
"Our choice for head is able to do the main job, protecting everyone,
but he'd flounder with all the paperwork drama. Even if your
health tanks, you're the buffer for him."
"Sir, I'm not qualified to run an agency."
"From what I've heard, you already do a lot of it with Agent Hill, and
you'll be doing the same things only you'll be signing the
paperwork." He smiled. "It will be fine."
"Who am I going to be buffering, sir?"
He smiled. "Someone that the group can get behind."
"No, Captain Rogers." Maria gaped at him. He grinned.
"He's a perfect fit. The soldiers among you will listen to
him. He knows how bad field missions can be and he's not going to
be squeamish if something has to happen. He has no idea how to do
the administrative side so therefore he'll be getting the most
experienced person to date. While you're still his
second-in-command, Agent Hill." He smiled at her. "Any
"He probably won't accept, sir."
"Do you really think he'll turn down guarding the world? It won't
keep him out of the field. It won't keep him off the
Avengers. It won't even keep him from hanging out with his friend
Bucky." He smiled at Joyce. "You can help him get used to
things and whenever you get too sick or too tired and have to retire,
you can leave it in well-trained hands."
"I hope I don't get sick again," she admitted.
"As do we. Stark would pout and that would create problems."
He patted her on the shoulder. "Even if it takes another twenty
years, Mrs. Banner, he'll be well trained in how to handle things by
"Thank you, sir."
"Welcome, my dear." He looked around. "I'm going to announce
it later this week. You'll have time to spiffy up the office for
Joyce looked around then at him. "It could use a coat of
paint." He smiled and left them to talk. She looked at
Maria. "I was not expecting that."
Maria shook her head. "Me either. When he talked about Gaia
and a few other's minions showing up, I was expecting Phil."
Phil appeared, scowling at her. "Don't give anyone ideas,
Maria! I have enough work as is and I'm more than happy to do that
instead of having all the gods complaining about something." He
The ladies shared a look and shook their heads. They didn't want to know. "Paint?" Maria asked.
"It could use some. You can tell he smoked in here. We'll
need to clean the walls first." Maria nodded, making a note for
maintenance. "Help me box up all his papers?" That got
another nod and they got the office cleaned up. Maintenance showed
up to help them once the classified things were put up into the
safe. They got the office furniture moved out and Joyce helped
clean them while the maintenance people washed the walls and did a paint
job. It made it look much brighter in there. Joyce looked
up from washing a bookcase to find her husband watching her.
"Bruce." She smiled and stood up to kiss him. "Let me wash
my hands and we'll have lunch off campus?"
He grinned. "Sure." He followed her, making sure he had her
purse for her. She joined him in the hall, taking his arm to walk
off with him. "Off campus?"
"Yes, I think I need to share something." She smiled. He
grinned back, taking them to their favorite little coffeeshop up the
street. They settled in the back. "Fury was demoted to
ferret again," she said quietly, sipping her tea and nibbling a
chip. She wasn't really hungry. Everything was still sinking
"Okay," he said, eating a bite of sandwich. He chewed, thinking about it. "Why?" He sipped his tea.
"Because he and Xander's mother had plans to do something very bad."
He grimaced. "I hate that."
"Which is why the ferret is teaching Craig and Danielle how to be sneaky from what I'm told."
He nodded. "That's a good thing then. Why were you cleaning up his office?"
"The president showed up. He's already heard about all
that." He put down his sandwich and drank his tea to make sure he
wouldn't choke. "Good idea." She took one of his hands in
hers. "He's figured out who he's going to appoint."
"Is it bad? Are we going to have to baby Tara through a divorce?"
"Maria's staying in her spot. I'm not."
He scowled. "They're bringing in their own assistant?"
"No, I'm going to be a more buffering influence on Steve." He
flinched, staring at her. She nodded. "He's naming co-heads
so Steve has time to get used to things," she said quietly.
"Which means I'll be doing the same paperwork but signing off on
it." She smiled. "I'm not going to make this edge my hours
up outside of emergencies."
"Which you already work longer hours during." He was blinking, he
was sure of it. His mind was grinding to a halt. He finally
blinked at her. "Wow."
She smiled and nodded. "Perhaps."
"So you're having the office cleaned?"
"That man smoked in there. The walls were dingy. A new coat
of paint is a good thing." She smiled and stroked his wrist.
"So, I'm told it's my job until I get sick or too tired to do the job,
at which time Steve will have it to himself."
He nodded slowly. "Wow." She grinned and leaned over to kiss
him gently. His mind rebooted and he kissed back. "Why not
"Gaia was part of that conference on the ferret."
"Ah, that's still going on." She nodded. "She's keeping her job?"
"Yes. Though the president was probably correct that we'd make
sure shifts were more universally followed if you were in the office."
"Yeah, I doubt he'd approve of overtime all that often unless there was
drama going on." He smiled at her. "Hmm, so now I'm married
to a director." She grinned back. "We'll have to celebrate."
"I'm not sure when it's coming into the open."
"That's fine." He squeezed her hand. "Finish up and I'll
make dinner." She grinned and blushed a bit when he winked but
that was one thing he loved about Joyce. His mind was still blown
but he could handle this.
The president walked off the elevator in Stark, smiling at Dawn.
"Mr. President, sir. They're not waiting on you today. We
don't have you scheduled in. Do you want me to set up a meeting
"When's good for you?" she asked with a smile.
She shook her head. "In thirty minutes maybe. They have a
joint lunch scheduled to go over Callia's schooling. Today is the
*wrong* day for sudden meetings. It's geek updating week."
He nodded and sighed a bit. "Which one specifically did you need
"The trio at the top since what affects one would affect them all."
She smiled and nodded. "Yes it would." She called.
"Pepper, sorry to bother you but the President wants you three for a few
minutes." She listened. "No, as in of the US,
Pepper." She smiled at him. "That would be fine." She
hung up. "Tony's in the middle of an interview and she'll hurry
him up but she's handling a negotiation for materials and
supplies. If you'd like a seat, they're comfortable," she said
with a point. His guards nodded. "We have magazines or I can
break into the office's stash of coffee?"
"Please." She got him some coffee and a few magazines to choose
from. It was much appreciated and she wasn't flustered, like many
assistants would be to deal with someone in his position.
She looked up at the sound of the explosion. "JARVIS, if that was
Shield Design, they're in deep shit," she noted calmly. "If it
wasn't, who was it?"
"It was Shield Design's newest model not working," he admitted.
"Their older ones held but the newest version exploded under assault of a
slight bomb. They're not pleased."
"Thank you and tell them to go to lunch, the President's here."
"I can do so." He faded into their testing area. "People,
Dawn said the President's here to talk to the higher ups. To go to
lunch and come back to it."
Morrison looked up. "As in the US President?"
"Yes," the AI said. "He's waiting on Mr. Stark and Miss Potts."
"Yeah, we can hit lunch," the head of the department said. "His
guards might pounce and arrest us for doing things." The others
followed him to lunch. They needed a break anyway. They
wrote up their testing notes. It had held up to a modest sized
bomb. They'd have to fix that.
Dawn smiled as Allenetta ran up the hallway squealing. "Allenetta,
what are you doing?" she asked, catching her. "Did you escape the
lab?" She cuddled her. "You're so silly sometimes, running
from science. What will Daddy and Mommy say?"
Patty panted as she caught up to her. "Damn she's fast."
"You're not supposed to be running," she said firmly. "Sit. Go to lunch with her."
"I can do that. The boys are engrossed in a new Roomba
program." She sighed, taking her daughter from Dawn. "C'mon,
spawn. Let's go eat." Allenetta grinned and babbled,
patting her cheeks. "I know I gained weight. It's your
sibling's fault." She got them onto the elevator and down to the
cafeteria. "We can go back to Malibu's lab in two days.
Okay? Then we can eat outside." Her daughter squealed and
babbled louder and faster. She looked at her. "Did you learn
that from Auntie Dawn?" A few in there who had been with the
company when Dawn had joined them laughed. She sat her daughter on
the table. "Stay there and I'll get nummies." The baby
cooed and waved at everyone, who mostly smiled and waved back. She
ran into Shield Design and punched the head guy. "You were trying
to blow up my lab with my daughter in it? I'm right overtop of
"Sorry! We thought you were in Malibu," Morrison said with a grimace.
"Stark needed to be here for three days. We all came back and then
we'll be going back." She got them food and came back to find her
daughter trying to climb down. "That would hurt, daughter."
She put her back onto the table and handed her the bowl of stewed
carrots. Allenetta grinned and grabbed the mooshy things to
eat. She grabbed some of mommy's lunch meat to suck on too.
That made her a happy girl.
Pepper came up the hall smiling. "You have a great day," she said,
shaking hands. A few looked at the president but Dawn smiled and
got their cars called for them. By the time they got down there,
cars were waiting and only one had to get a cab, but the guards down
there had one waiting as well. That was efficient of them.
Pepper smiled. "Mr. President, is there a problem?"
"Not for you really but there's going to be a bit of a shakeup and I
thought you should probably hear it from me. The other two?"
"Mr. Stark's on his way up," Dawn said with a smile. "With Captain
Rogers. He was off jogging without his phone but our security
team found him easily enough. He's just now out of the shower and
headed down." Tony came off one elevator. Steve came off the
other. "There they are, sir. Pepper, should I make some
"No, it won't take that long," the president assured her with a
smile. "Very efficient, Dawn." He walked into the office
with the group. He looked at the trio. Pepper was behind the
desk. Tony and Steve were on the couch to her right. He sat
across from them. "It came to my attention that Fury's a ferret
Tony nodded. "We heard why."
"I can't really have a non-appearing agency director to squeak
orders. So I had to appoint someone. Even if Fury should be
changed back, he'll be a special member of SHIELD." Steve
grimaced. "So we had a meeting to nominate people."
"I've seen things, sir," Tony started.
"Me too, Stark. Which is why I'd never nominate you." He smile. "Maybe for president."
"Please don't. He and his daughter would never get anything done
and they'd hate them putting a lab in the White House," Pepper quipped
with a smile.
"Fine, then I won't. Though you and he would do good while your other spouse heads SHIELD."
"Pepper?" Tony asked.
The president looked at him. "Your brain's still stuck in science
mode, isn't it?" Tony nodded with a smile. He pointed at
Steve. "That spouse, Stark."
"Um...." Steve said. "Me?" he squeaked.
"Yes, you, Captain. Though, you're *co-heading* the agency."
He smiled. "With Joyce Banner. That way you have her until
she gets sick or has to retire and she can teach you all the little
forms and odd things." He relaxed back. "Agent Hill still
has her position, though I do not want to be spanked by Gaia if she
works more overtime. She reminded me of my grandmother and my
grandmother was a woman with a spine of steel and a bible to beat you
with if you forgot your lessons she taught you or your manners."
Steve nodded. "My mother was too. Why me, sir?"
"Because they'll listen to you, son." He stared at
him. "I would've just named her but no one in the field is
going to listen to the nice lady who fixes their paperwork and will taze
them around the office for belching too loudly. Hill needs to get
her personal life in order so she's not doing all the overtime in the
universe again. I might've named Coulson but he had a swearing fit
at few minor gods who wanted him to grant them boons and cushy
jobs in the new pantheon. Gaia had to tell him to quit swearing
and scowled at the children until they fled for their lives."
"If Fury comes back?" Pepper asked.
"He'll be put in as a special member. He'll have senior agent
status but he'll be able to go into the field. Nick's skills never
did lay in the office. That's why hiring Joyce has turned that
agency around from a sneeze away from a snafu to a working, dedicated
agency like the others. I don't know how Nick could stand a year's
wait on some forms on assignments but it happened all too often.
Thankfully, Joyce is a great assistant, like her daughter is."
He smiled. "She straightened out that sloppy mess of knots and
twigs and duct tape holding it together so it mostly works better.
She'll be backing your spouse up so he's not bogged down by the
paperwork end but the agents in the field will listen to the good
Captain if there's an issue." He stared at him. "It won't
keep you off your team. It won't keep you from hanging out with
your buddy Bucky. Have him certified as a SHIELD agent for all I
care and he can be one of your senior ones over field teams."
He stood up with a grin. "That should solve any and all problems
between SHIELD and Stark and it should make sure that the world's still
protected by competent people who have a clue what their ass looks like
when handed to them." He stared at him. "I'll be announcing
it in a week or so." He smiled. "Fury's being put on
indefinite medical leave." He left. "Talk to your mother
later, Summers. She probably has an announcement."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir, and have a good day. Thank you
for visiting us today." The president and his guards got on the
elevator. "To give us a migraine," she finished. She got the
bottle of advil and cold bottles of water, handing them to Stark since
he had his constipated face on again. "Huge problems I should ask
Steve took two bottles of water and a few advil to lessen his
headache. "The president just said your mother and I are
Dawn stared at him. "Huh. Well, they'll be celebrating
tonight so we can't get babysitters." She handed the last bottle
of water to Pepper and the bottle of advil. She took a few with a
weak smile. "Do I have to prepare a press announcement?"
"We'll put one out welcoming him when he's announced," Tony said.
He rubbed his face with his hands. "Damn glad it's not me.
I'd ruin it." He stood up. Dawn hugged him and he smiled,
hugging her back. "I would."
"You didn't with us," she reminded him.
"No, but we're full of geeks. SHIELD has jackasses with
weapons." He smirked and hugged Pepper then Steve, taking a kiss
from him. "Want me to tell Bucky?"
"No, I will," he said, sounding tired. "That means someone else
has to help the kids with their school stuff." He groaned and
slumped. Steve got helped so he was laying down on the
couch. "Thanks, guys." Tony took another kiss and left.
Dawn looked at Pepper. "Prepare a 'congratulations' statement for
me. Tell the head of PR personally so he keeps it quiet."
Dawn nodded. "Remind Callia she can't tell anyone when we tell the
kids." She nodded, going down to PR first. Pepper came over
to hug Steve. "It'll be okay. The next president may
appoint someone else."
He blinked at her. "So in six years?" he asked dryly.
"Maybe." She smoothed his hair down. "You rest. It's
quiet in here." He nodded, shifting onto his side so he could try
to rest the headache gone. She left a message for Joyce to call
her so she could go over the differences in being an assistant and a
CEO. There were a few and they'd drive her nuts if she wasn't
warned. It had Pepper.
Dawn walked into their guest suite, smiling at her mates. "Want
one more secret you only have to keep for a few days?" They
shrugged but nodded. She checked, no other kids. "Mom and
Steve got named co-heads of SHIELD."
Clint hopped up to stare at her, mouth open. "What?"
"Wow," Natasha said. "They'll listen to Steve while on
assignment." She pulled Clint back down to the couch. Dawn
sat between them. "That is quite a secret."
Clint nodded, handing her the baby. "It's a huge one. How is Hill taking it?"
"Don't know, haven't talked to her," Dawn admitted. "From what I
overheard, someone mentioned she should quit working so much overtime."
"Probably, yes, Tara would like that," Natasha said, taking the fussy
baby to cuddle. He wanted Daddy back so she handed him over
again. Clint shrugged and snuggled him. The baby cooed and
pointed at the guitar.
"I'll play later, little guy." He looked at Dawn. "Huh." She smiled. "That's huge news."
"Steve's still got a headache. Mom can buffer him with the paperwork and the admin stuff he's not used to."
"It's a sound plan and a balanced approach. They can work
together. Steve knows how to run missions. She's been doing a
lot of the running of SHIELD already so things got handled."
Natasha stared up then smiled. "It's not bad."
"No, not bad," Clint agreed. "The stupid shit'll probably be
stopped really fast." Dawn nodded, taking the baby back. He
pouted at her. Clint rolled his eyes but got his guitar to play to
the baby. He cheered and got happy again. Even if he did
pout when he put it down. "So I guess we're not going to get some
babysitting time in?"
"Probably not tonight," Dawn agreed with a grin. "She and Stepdad have to be doing something tonight."
Tony knocked and walked in, staring at them. "How is your mom taking it?"
"I texted her earlier and she said she's calm."
"They can have lunch tomorrow. Mom's already made that
suggestion." Tony relaxed and nodded, smiling at her. "I put
it on his schedule. I also put on there to talk to the local
school board about the sloppy curriculum they have going."
"Even better. We might have to change which city we're home schooling her through."
"Malibu's isn't that aggressive," Dawn reminded him. "Barely eighth grade level, boss."
"She's well beyond that." He grimaced. "If there was a school...."
She snapped her fingers and pulled up a site on Tony's phone.
"Slightly religious but no bias against pagan faiths. Good scores,
good academics, has on-line and in person classes. Has a lot of
pre-college classes down in the middle school level. A lot of
their kids graduate with at least a year's college under their
belts. Test to get in, guided teaching, takes kids starting at
eight." He smiled, looking them up. "That's where I want
Philip and his siblings to go."
Clint took her phone to look it over, nodding. "Strong scores, not
a lot of kids on therapy or drugs. Diplomat's kids?"
"Yes, and a few others with security issues." She smiled and
kissed him on the cheek. "No waiting list, but expensive.
His education trust will cover it though."
Natasha took it to look at. "I've seen one of their affiliated
schools in Europe. Very strong educationally, though mostly for
"They do accept boys, they just never seem to get near gender equality
with the numbers," Dawn said with a grin. "They have art, science,
and computer tracks. They have business classes, which I would
encourage her in sometime. They have associated schools that those
tracks lead to in high school if they wanted to track themselves more
firmly into their future careers or interests."
Tony nodded. "I want to tour them. Local?"
"Long Island. An hour. They do off-site though. They have boarding if you must or for emergencies."
He nodded. "She might like that. Preschool, kindergarten?"
"But Callia's past that and we can find them a suitable one or do it
ourselves," Tony decided. "Thanks, Dawn." He walked off.
"I'm going on that tour too, boss. So I can put Philip down."
"Yup, arrange it tomorrow."
"It's Friday at two. They have one smaller associated in LA but it's geek central and not science geek."
"Sure." He went up to show Pepper. "Dawn picked a really good sounding school for Philip and maybe for our kids."
She took the phone to look over, scrolling down, nodding slightly.
"I like that. I've seen their campus and wondered if they were a
private college." She handed it back, checking her schedule to see
when the visit was. "Friday, between those two meetings with
lunch on the way back." She smiled. "She's going?"
"She wants Philip there."
"Good! It sounds great." She took a kiss. "Steve's in the pool doing laps."
"That's fine." He took another kiss and went out to show
him. "Dawn found a school." Steve looked up from talking
with Chris and Liz, who were sitting on the edge of the pool to cheer
him up. Steve took the phone and grinned. "We go Friday."
"Wonderful." He handed it back. "Can you take them inside before they try to join me again?"
"Yup. Go pet the cats." They ran inside to do that. He
shut the door and stayed out to sit with Steve and calm him down
again. Steve smiled weakly. "You tell Bucky?"
"No. We've got to help Bucky move on some. He's still living
over there. I'm pretty sure he probably wants his own place and
"We can do that." Steve relaxed because that meant Bucky wouldn't be alone all day long while he was at SHIELD.
Callia woke up Bucky by climbing on top of his chest. "So, I
eavesdropped on the huge news that the President brought today."
He nodded slowly, staring at her. "It looks like we'll all have a
bit less Stepmommy Steve all day since he just got given a real job."
"Doing what?" Bucky asked.
"Helping Granma run SHIELD."
He frowned. "You must've misheard." She shook her head,
pulling up the security footage for him. He groaned and went
limp. "That's going to suck."
"Yup, especially since he spent all night worried that we'll turn you
into a spoiling, playing uncle sort without him here to guard you from
Liz's charming you to death for my candy."
"I only gave her the candy to make her quit whining, Callia."
"I know. I was about to hand her a tiny piece for the same
reason." She shifted to look at him. "But he's also worried
that you might feel lost." She showed him that footage. She
saw the mushy feeling be shut down. "So we have to think like
Auntie Dawn and make sure he doesn't get stressed out too hard."
"Yeah, I can do that." He considered things. "I need to find
myself a real job anyway. I'm stable and need it to find an
She snorted and waved a hand. "No you don't. We have six
here." He stared at her. She smile. "We can do a
rental agreement through Auntie Dawn tomorrow if you want. We'll
work out the rent stuff and all that with Daddy before then." She
shifted and grimaced. "That means you have to find something to do
all day while we're off pouting at her or doing school work and you're
not exactly a great teacher. But... we do need self defense
lessons. A lot. Especially with Diana showing back up
soon. She'll *really* need some with Sean. Or we need to
make you one. I have no idea how to do that. Daddy does the
special job contracts." She stared at him. "So you and Daddy
have to talk tomorrow while Stepmommy is having lunch with Granma."
"I will, yeah. Any other sneaky plans?"
She grinned and nodded. "Yup but not for you." She leaned
down to kiss him on the tip of his nose. Then smiled.
"You go back to sleep and remember to talk to Daddy tomorrow. We
don't want Stepmommy stressed or you. If you get stressed you
might flashback or something and those are bad, even if I don't know why
yet." She hopped off him.
"Hopefully you'll never know, kid."
She looked at him. "Daddy said he got taken eighteen times before
he was ten. I've only had two. So yeah, I probably will some
day but I have good family that will help me through it." She
left, going back to her room. She knew which apartment should be
his. There was a caretaker apartment in the other building that
never got used. That should go to him. It wasn't huge but it
was nice sized for a New York apartment. It had a small closet
but Uncle Bucky hated clothes anyway.
Bucky relaxed. Sometimes Callia was like her aunt and sometimes
she was like her father. Tonight, he wasn't sure which one she was
Callia stopped her father from leaving the apartment with Pepper,
hauling him into the elevator with just her. She looked at
him. "You and Uncle Bucky have to talk, Daddy." She handed
over her tablet. "Here, some suggestions." She got off on
the gym and went to practice.
Tony blinked after her, looking at the 'suggestions'. "She's
turning into her aunt. Next we'll see her in heels and something
flirty." He went to his lab. Bucky was in there
waiting. "Did she pounce you?"
"Woke me up about three by climbing up to sit on top of my
stomach." He looked around then at him. "She told me and
showed me some footage about how Stevie was worried about me."
"He was. He spent all night with nightmares about what might
happen to you." He sat down. "Did she give you any
"Only that we could find an apartment here in the building and maybe a
job." He smirked. "She's a pushy little hellion."
"Yeah, she's a lot like me, only today she's more like her aunt."
He smiled. "She had a few suggestions." He let him see
them. "That apartment's tiny. About three floors down from
where you are presently. If I had thought about it, I would've put
you there sooner but you never spoke up."
"I can't pay for an apartment yet."
"She has you helping in a few areas," he said with a point.
"Including being put on SHIELD's payroll as an adjunct Avenger and
possibly letting you do field missions if it wasn't going to stress
"She said last night that she'd probably find out what flashbacks are like some day."
"She's had a few from one of the kidnapings and one of the attacks we've
had," Tony said. "She hasn't realized what they are yet or that
hers mostly went away unless she's really worried about another one."
He nodded. "I hate that for the kid."
"We all hate that for the kids but you weren't part of that group of
bigots that were trying to take us all out to get control of the
"No, thankfully I wasn't one of the snipers they tried to hire to get
everyone but the kids as they ran off." Tony stared at him.
"Totally confused when you flew in and the kids didn't run out."
"We have a safe floor here in the building and that time, Dawn evacuated
them to her mother." He rubbed a thumb over an eyebrow.
"Really?" He nodded. "Well, fuck them. They're
disbanded for the most part."
"A few went to that church."
"Still, fuck them. Beyond that, not the reason my daughter set up
this talk." He looked over the suggestions. They weren't
practical. They didn't need a 'hero on staff' position.
"Sometimes I worry that she's been around superheros too long," he
sighed. Bucky laughed. "Sit, Barnes." He did that and
Tony handed him the aptitude test that Dawn had been given when they had
taken her in. "Do that."
"What's this for?"
"To see if you can already do stuff in our labs." He
smirked. "Beyond guarding the kids. Your name's not Kato and
I don't need a driver. I have Happy for that." Bucky looked
confused so he pulled up the movie for him to watch while he did the
test. Bucky slowly shook his head but he eventually got it and
laughed, doing the test.
John Sheppard was meditating when he noticed something odd.
Something like a spark in his aura that shouldn't be there. He had
no idea what it was. He sighed and came out of his meditation,
pulling on a shirt and real pants so he could go ask an expert.
"Sekhmet?" he asked as he landed in front of her. "I need some
help with an aura problem."
"Of course, John." She smiled and fed him a cookie from the pan
she was putting onto the wire racks to cool. "Let me finish the
offering for the temple's orphanage." He nodded, settling in to
nibble while she finished the baking. Then she took him to her
work area of her temple. They settled down across from each other
on pillows. "Drop into your meditative state for me. Let me
see what you are." He did and pulled up his aura for her.
She frowned. "Which star? You have one that you've claimed
as your own, even though you don't share blood with him, and you have a
marriage bond." That brought John out quickly. "Was that not
"Yes. We thought so."
She grimaced. "Gaia?" she called. She appeared and smiled,
patting John on the head. "Did you not end his marriage?"
"No. Because if not, he'll be attacked repeatedly." She
smiled. "It's not a love match but it can grow into one. You
both have interest."
"She's pretty but I need more than pretty and that's going to suck for her being stuck with me," John said.
"Perhaps not. It will protect you both though."
"No. We can find another way."
She shrugged. "I didn't create that bond. Where you both
lusted, it created that small spark when they tried to bind you.
You can break it together if you want but it would be better if you did
not." She shrugged. "Not my doing. Yell at your
"Oh, that's going to happen," he assured her dryly. She smiled and
disappeared. He looked at the other goddess, who shrugged.
"I've never seen it happen but I've heard rumors. Xander?"
He appeared with a war puppy in his arms sucking on a bottle. "The
bonds weren't broken fully." He winced. "You two must talk,
"You can because she'll realize something always feels wrong," Xander
said quietly. He sucked in a breath then sighed.
"Diana." She appeared, blinking at him, bowing to the strange
goddess, who smiled and patted her on the hand. "There's
apparently a tiny bit of the marriage bond still left."
"Did I do that because I thought he's hot?" she asked.
"It had to come from both sides," Sekhmet said. Diana blushed a deep red.
"She is pretty," John agreed. "She has a whole life in front of
her though. She has to experience life and learn what she wants to
do for a living, all that." He looked at her. "If you were
through most of that, I wouldn't care."
"No, I agree," she said, sighing and sitting next to him. "I'm not
ready for that yet. I don't even know what I want to study.
I don't know if I might want kids. I think they're kind of
nasty." He grinned and nodded they could be. "Beyond that, I
might not be in a career that would suit yours. I might be doing
something that has nothing to do with Atlantis. That steampunk
stuff looks really interesting but I don't like engineering."
"No one says your future career has to mesh with his," Xander said
firmly. "You're to find what makes *you* happy and be that."
"Yes, but if my spouse is on Atlantis all the time and I'm somewhere else working, that's going to suck ass, Uncle Xander."
He smiled. "It will." He looked at John then at her. "You two have to break that."
Sekhmet smiled. "Follow what he's doing, Diana." She nodded,
dropping into the meditative state. She had done this a lot, even
with John. She showed them the spark and they snuffed it
out. It left a tiny hole in their auras but they could fill it
up. She patted them both. "Give it a few years and then see
if there's something there, children. You never know, she might
grow into it or you might," she told John when he opened his mouth.
"We might," John agreed. "I'm not going to complain if we do."
She grinned. "I'm still going to have nasty fantasies about you
anyway." He laughed and nodded it was okay. "Good."
She stood up. "Thank you, ma'am."
"You're most welcome, child. Have a better day."
She winked. "My sister's been blushing all day so I'm guessing Thor did something kinky like leaving the lights on."
"That's not real kinky," Xander said.
"For Artemis it is," she quipped then got sent back to the city.
"Yeah, for Artemis it is," John agreed. "Thank you, Sekhmet."
"You're most welcome as well. Date more often."
"I'm on the middle of a lake on Asgard."
"When you get back in a few weeks then." She winked. "Take
another cookie as you go home, John." He grinned and got one to go
home with. She took the puppy from Xander, letting it rest in her
lap while it napped off the bottle. "Mother refused it?"
"Mom's being fixed today."
"Might be a good idea." She smiled at him. "What do you think?"
"I think they might just grow into it. He's not guiding her or
pushing her toward anything. He's letting her pick what she wants
and if she ends up back in his personal space there might be a
tryst. Who knows. I'm not a prophet about more than
battles." He took the puppy back but she stole it back.
"Okay." He grinned and went back to the temple. Ruby was
still mostly knocked out but she was licking over the puppies
sluggishly. "Sekhmet, the one who bakes those jerky cakes for your
spoiled puppies, took the other one." She barked and went back to
sleep while they nursed. Xander went to tell Phil. It was
something to watch.
Xander smiled when he felt the ping of a new convention. "Phil, it's time for the Xander convention," he said with a grin.
"Sure. Let me finish this one thing." He finished that form
and sent it on to Joyce then took Xander's hand to get there. They
found one Xander there with Dawn babbling at him and Philip playing
with his long braid. "Problems?"
"Telling him about the new potion," Dawn said with a grin. She
gently pried the baby off his hair. "C'mon, son. It's time for the
Uncle Xanders to compare things." She walked him off but Philip
wiggled until she nearly dropped him and had to put him down for a
second. He crawled off. "C'mon, son. Your daddy wants
you. He'll play more music for you if you come on," she said,
chasing after him. "You're faster than you should be, Philip."
Another Xander caught him and grinned at the baby. "Hey,
kiddo." The baby babbled and smiled at him, patting his
cheek. "You're cute." He saw who was waiting in the gateway
area. "You married an *Avenger*?" he asked, looking awed.
Dawn took her son back with a grin. "Two. We're all very
cuddly around Nat." She winked and walked off. Philip was
fussing. "Clint, help?"
"C'mon, kid. Let's go play more music." He held out his arms
but Philip whined and wiggled. Dawn handed him over but he got
free of Daddy and crawled off again cackling. "Philip!" He
followed him to pick him up. "I'm sure they're great kids, but
they're Uncle Xander's kids not ours." He walked him off.
Phil stole him with a grin. "You can stay to hang out with the
other kids. They can teach you about art stuff since you seem to
like jewelry." He grinned.
"Hey, babysitting time," Dawn quipped, hauling Clint with her.
"Thanks, Phil." The boundary shut in their world and she kissed
Clint. "We have a few hours." He smirked and took them back
Xander looked at his godson. "That's so sneaky. You're
living up to your Mommy's skills today." He took him to
hold. He wiggled down and went to hug the other kids there.
Olivia looked at him. "Hi. Who're you?"
"His mommy's Dawn," Xander said. "His name's Philip and apparently he wanted to be babysat instead."
She smiled. "I'm not Uncle Xander's spawn. I'm Mommy Willow's spawn."
"You're still just like us," her Xander quipped with a grin. "Why were you complaining when you got home?"
"The teacher's stupid!"
"Do not call your teacher names just because she thinks about things
differently, Olivia," Xander said firmly, staring at her. "You
will respect her even if you don't like her."
"Fine, but it's still dumb! She ..." She huffed. "She
had us doing something on a Plutocracy. I said I didn't see
anything wrong with it because Pluto would be a good ruler of
people. People like him, he's kinda smart and nice but not too
nice so he doesn't get looked at too strangely. I would've
suggested Minnie Mouse but she'd be a feminist icon and the stupid
people in those churches that send you death threats would never accept
that. I think he'd do great and he could have Donald as his VP
because Donald could subtly piss off other world leaders like our
current one does and then show them up because he's *way* better.
The teacher apparently had a stroke or something and said that's not
what Plutocracy means. Told me to do a paper on why he couldn't be
"I saw you researching that," Peter, that Xander's spouse, said. "It was nicely done."
"The teacher didn't think so, which is why I think she was a bit brain
addled from whatever makes her smell like cloves after lunch. She
said she expected me to realize he couldn't because he wasn't
real. Which she blamed on you two being writers. I had to
remind her I knew that but she hadn't expected me to do something so
minimal so I did a real report on why he couldn't. She about had a
seizure so you have a parent-teacher meeting, Uncle Xander."
He nodded. "Sure, we can talk about her trying to dumb things down without warning you she was."
She smiled. "Can you remind her she's not really pretty too?
She keeps trying to wear supermodel things and she's *really* not
pretty enough for one and she wears ugly shoes that aren't pretty
too. I think she puts her outfits together to be not pretty as a
habit. I'd help her but she said I was dumb to remind her that
purple and orange don't match."
"We'll stop that as well," Peter said with a pat for her. "I think he adores you."
Olivia looked at the baby, grinning because he was. "You're
adorable and your mommy clearly has an idea that smart is pretty.
That's why you'll be as smart or smarter than I am, Philip." He
cuddled her and cooed at her headband. She giggled. "I think
you like twinkly things."
"His mommy can be a bit twinkly," Godly Xander said. He took
Philip to look at, getting fussed at. "Behave." The baby
pouted. "You can hang with Olivia and her siblings in a few
minutes, dear." He walked him over to another GHS Xander.
"This is a Xander that makes jewelry stuff. He makes pretty things
that you like to coo at." The baby squealed and pounced him to
cuddle and play with his hair and the hair things in it.
GHS Xander smiled at him. "You're great, Philip. Just like
your mommy." He sat down and the baby cooed at all his hair
things. "We should teach you about puppies and ferrets."
"He has a cat," Phil said. "Named Loki. It likes to stare a
lot." The others all laughed and nodded. "There's a ferret
in the family but it's my former director." They settled in to
talk. Philip got tired of those hairpins and crawled over to
another Xander to play with his ring. Then he spotted Sividia
Xander and his wings. That got an awesome, echoing squeal as he
headed for them.
Sividia Xander watched him. "Sam? What'm I supposed to be doing?"
"I think he wants your wings," his Sam said with a smile for the
baby. He picked him up to touch one. "They're very soft but
you can't grab them, Philip." Philip gave him an awed look and
hugged a wing then babbled at it while he played with the
feathers. Xander was shivering but the other kids ran over to help
him preen his mate. Sam grinned at his mate. "Some day
we'll have a spawn that does that."
Xander kissed him. "Yes, we will be. And much practice getting one." Sam grinned at him for that.
The original GHS Xander watched the kids. "I have to teach them
some of what I know so it's not lost if I go." He brought them
where he had put up a forge and settled in to teach them about jewelry
and how to make things. Philip was staring intently at the shiny
things. The other GHS Xander and one that hadn't done more than
pout the last convention came over to watch as well. It was
fascinating how many of them could create things. Even Godly
Xander came to learn some with Phil.
The kids though, they adored it because he showed them how to make
pretty things and all kids, even if they were just being raised by
Xander, liked pretty things. Though writer Xander did joke that
Olivia was really a little mini me for him instead of her mommy
sometimes. His husband just kissed him to clear his mind of the
bad thoughts. Philip squealed at that and scowled.
"That's such a fangirl squeal," Xander teased with a grin.
Philip's Xander and Phil kissed and the baby liked that better, giving
them a smug look. He knew who his uncle belonged with.
The mini Losers all pounced the babies and Olivia to make them behave
but they were being silly and the kids treated them like they were being
too silly and needed to be cuddled straight. Which the guys hated
but yay! They were babies of Xander now, they had to get used to
"Let's see if things are going to stay the same," Clint said once the
trio was back in bed after dinner. "We have the house." Dawn
grinned and cuddled him harder. "We have the truck?"
"We do," Dawn agreed happily.
Natasha spotted something on the dresser. "What's in the package?"
Dawn grinned. "Something mushy for our anniversary?"
"It's our fifth that we've been counting," Clint said, looking at Nat,
who smiled and nodded. "What mushy thing, princess?" She got
up and grabbed it then came back to hand it to him. He opened the
small box. Inside were three jewelry boxes. "Interesting."
"For when I need something more shiny so people pay attention to it or as a wedding band behind ours."
He opened the biggest one, which was probably his. Inside was a
slim band. Two strips of diamonds weaving around a center oval
area with diamonds going back and forth to create the simple looking
band. He blinked. "That's very twinkly." He handed
Natasha hers. She had a smaller hand than Dawn. Natasha
moaned and slipped it on. He smiled. "It does look like
us. Two supportive and surrounding whichever is in the center."
Dawn grinned. "I thought so too." She took hers to put on
behind her wedding band. "I had them make them more narrow and use
smaller diamonds or else it would've been a few carats of twinkly
things. This way it looks more like a band."
Natasha kissed her. "That is perfect." Dawn beamed and cuddled her, flipping so Nat was in the center.
Clint put his on and got in on the cuddles. "Very expensive but great, Dawn."
She smiled. "You guys bought me a house for our
anniversary." They smiled and cuddled together until the baby
fussed that he wanted some. Dawn looked over. "Is it a myth
that babies sleep through the night?"
"Apparently," Natasha said. "Son, we'd like some private time together. Go back to sleep?"
Clint got up to check him and stare down at him. "Sleep,
son. I want the mommies tonight." He fussed but did
eventually fall back asleep. That let Clint pounce with an evil
Tony looked at his phone as it beeped. "JARVIS, we've had this
talk about you paying too much attention to Dawn's relationship before,"
he said quietly but blandly. "Quit."
"She's making distressed noises, sir."
"No, those mean she likes it," Pepper said, flipping over. "I'm just glad we can't hear it without his help."
Steve looked at her. "Yes I can. Natasha's *really* loud for some reason."
Tony listened, turning off his phone. "Yeah, she is.
Huh." They snuggled around Pepper and went back to sleep.
They could pick on them in the morning for no one being able to sit or
Andrew spotted the trio getting breakfast and shook his head, looking at his wife. "I'd never do that to you."
She smiled. "You've made me sore, Andrew, and I kinda wish you'd
do it again." He growled and pounced. "Andrew, we're in the
caf around people!" she squealed when he kissed her throat. Dawn
put up privacy barriers for them. "But... people can hear!"
"I saw how those two interns looked at you and you're mine. Not theirs, mine."
"Of course I'm yours."
Tony looked over. "JARVIS, please beam them back to their
rooms?" He did so and Dawn took down the barrier. She
banished their clothes at them. Tony shook his head, sipping his
coffee. He looked at the trio. Dawn could almost sit.
Natasha couldn't sit, she was sitting on her tailbone. Clint
couldn't either. He looked at Steve, who shook his head.
Pepper was smiling but shook her head too. Tony looked over
again. "Hey, Dawn, do you need some infirmary time?"
"Nope," she said with a cheerful grin. "I'm okay."
Clint looked at Tony and nodded. "She threw my back out, Stark."
Dawn cackled. "That was not my fault, dear." She fed him a
bite of her danish. "If you remember, I was changing Mr. Fussy."
"Yes, you were but I did have a bit of fun ruining your backs," Natasha
said quietly and went back to eating. "We will be soaking."
Dawn took kisses and then the baby. "You have a good day
soaking." She winked and strolled off as casually as she could.
Pepper sighed. "I've done that a few times." Tony leered at her. "Oh, no! Not again!"
"Meetings," she complained. "All day with the geeks for you."
He pouted but nodded. "Fine." He took kisses and went to his
office to get those started. Dawn had updated his schedule to
move Andrew's back. Though Jonathan showed up. "You could've
"No I can't. Patty's pouting that she's not having mood swings yet."
"Some women do," he said. "Pepper had very few."
"Great." He handed reports over. "We've built something
that'll use Roomba's programming to be more commercially available
without using their baseline programming. We had to twitch a few
of the programs but it's very good and the robotic sentry dog prototype
He looked at the film, nodding. "That's very handy, and very
guardian-like." He smiled. "What else have you two
done?" He looked it over, going over each thing. He liked a
few of them and sent them up to the board over finding markets to sell
products in. Jonathan grinned and bounced back to his lab so he
could share that news with the others, if they were done having
sex. Tony smiled and marked the others with his special short-hand
so he knew what he had looked over. He filed those and got the
next geek in there. Of course, the next one had something that
needed to be stopped so the geek got huffy about it.
Dawn leaned in with a smile. "Guys, are we causing things that can
blow up the building with my son in it?" The geek shook his head
quickly, looking scared. She smiled. "Good." She
walked off after tossing something at Tony. "News feed."
He ran it and sighed. Someone had broken the story early from
SHIELD. "Great," he muttered. "Just what I need." The
geek was still looking scared. "You do realize that goes for her
nieces and the other kids, right?" He got up and stomped
off. Tony would deal with him later, with Pepper. Right
after he found a SHIELD agent and skinned them alive.
Bucky leaned in. "Why did I take that test?"
"Think of it like vocational rehab. It's to tell you what you're good at in other careers."
"I'd like to go back to mine."
"It's easier if you have a second one planned on the side." He stared at him. "Like translating."
"That's really boring."
"Yes it is. We could've said bodyguarding." Bucky glared at him. He grinned. "The kids do need one."
"Yeah, they do. Callia ran over for ice cream and had to fight a reporter. Again."
"Go fix that for me? I've got geeks to make sure they're not trying to blow up the universe."
"Only two in six of the labs." He walked off.
"Yeah, he's their bodyguard," he decided, sending that to Pepper and
Steve. They agreed it was a great idea and Steve would talk him
into it for them.
Steve flopped down next to Bucky. "How did your talk go?"
"Crappy if you mean the one with the kid."
"Yeah, I did. She's a bit headstrong." They shared a look
and a smile. "She needs a bodyguard." Bucky nodded.
"It pays well." Bucky shook his head but he was trying not to
laugh. "We're going to look at a new school tomorrow. It's
an hour away on Long Island."
Bucky looked at him. "Seriously?"
"The school has a lot of kids of diplomats." Bucky
shuddered. "You can still run missions for SHIELD. I'll make
sure of it. This'll give you something to do the rest of the
time. Callia needs some non-genius and non-lab time around adults
who have other interests and skills. The other kids will grow into
"She's a shopping, humming, happy kid," he said, looking at his buddy. "I'm not sure I can handle that."
"She's really not. Every now and then she'll turn into a mini Dawn
and shop but sometimes she's a mini Dawn in the wrong way. I had
to take a bat from her earlier when one of the chemists was picking on
Patty and made her cry. She was going to bash his skull in."
Bucky grinned. "She needs someone with her and we can't do
that. The genius is overruling her common sense."
"What would I use most of my skills doing?"
"Saving her! Have you seen how many scary assholes have contracts on her life?"
"You swore?" he asked.
"I had Agent Hill look this morning. There's fifteen contracts to
get a Stark kid, any of them, including Liz." Steve stared at
him. "Six more of them specifically want Callia. There's at
least twelve to get Philip so they can start their own superhero team
with him." Bucky gaped. Steve nodded, pulling up that file
to show him.
Bucky swallowed hard. "Damn."
"Yeah!" They shared a look. "They need a bodyguard," he said
more quietly. He had noticed the door opening. So had
Bucky. He erased the file and made sure it wasn't in the trash
file. Callia had a bad habit of going through it when she was
bored. "It pays well."
"Yeah, I can do that as long as I can run missions."
"Can we count on you to help us steal Auntie Dawn back too?" Callia
asked from the doorway. "Because people tried again and I can't
"JARVIS?" Steve asked.
"She was sedative darted but I did alert border patrol, the FBI, SHIELD,
the local airports, and everyone else who should know. She did
have Philip with her but they left him in the other tower, he's in the
coffee shop and Pepper is going to retrieve him." Clint and
Natasha walked in and headed for their lockers. "I have no idea
where she is, I'm sorry."
"No, we know," Clint said. "She's slightly awake enough to give us a visual. It's a crackhead cult member."
"Which one?" Steve asked dryly. "Do you need me?"
"Yes, we could use both of you. We might need a second sniper when
I lose my mind and blow them the fuck up," Clint growled.
"They've decided they're going to sacrifice her to bring back their mean
"Great," Bucky said, pulling on a better shirt and finding his weapons
bag. The quad walked out together. "Callia, go watch your
siblings to make sure no one tries for them." She ran off to do
that. They walked past Pepper. He looked at Philip.
"He's fine and not happy." Clint kissed him on the head. So
did Natasha. Steve patted him and they left together in a Stark
SUV. Pepper smiled at him. "They will get your mommy back,
hopefully before she blows up art of New Jersey. Not that Camden
couldn't use some reconstruction but they might sue." She walked
him inside to the infirmary. "Darted his mother," she said as she
walked in. Shivs took him to look over. Pepper got to change him
and he was fine. If fussy.
Bucky got his first real view of Dawn in a fight. It was
...spectacular. She was killing a lot of cult members. More
were trying to capture her again. A few had guns and one had a
long, crooked looking knife. He shot that one first and then
worked against the other armed ones. Steve led the way into the
warehouse for the other two.
Natasha blinked then looked at her spouse. "We need to spar more
often. She's been holding back and she's weak on her left side
"Yup." He killed a few of the cult members trying to surround
Dawn. Natasha got the other side. They finally got them down
and he blocked Dawn's instinctive hit. "Hey, Princess, where's
"I'm not wearing them?" She looked at her hand. She found
one that was nearly dead and picked him up to shake him. "Where
did you leave my rings?" she demanded.
"With the baby," he gasped. "Please give me an honorable death."
"Fuck no." She cast something at him, making him a zombie.
He moaned and started to cry. She sneered. "Pray to your god
to save your soul. I'm not the Merciful Goddess by any
means." She dropped him.
Natasha walked over, taking her hand to hold and pull her closer to
examine. "We will get those few things looked at before they can
be healed." Dawn flipped a hand and healed all the cuts.
"Dawn?" Dawn blinked at her. "Please back down some?
Your temper is very high and it might call something." She pointed
at the demon trying to get in.
Clint looked and shot it. It died. "That fixes that."
He pulled her over to kiss her and hold her until she calmed back
down. He called Pepper. "Her rings were left with the
baby." He hung up to hold her. She was shaking slightly but
she burrowed into his arms. Natasha came over to get her back and
Dawn pulled her closer. "Can you undo the zombie?" She shook
her head. "Okay, well, I guess he can stand trial then."
They walked her out to the SUV. Steve checked for any remaining
people. Bucky joined them and got in to drive. "She's
okay. She healed all the injuries."
Bucky looked back at her. "Quit holding back during sparring,
Summers. I can handle you too." She stuck her tongue
out. He grinned. "Good enough for now."
"That was her version of losing her temper," Natasha said. "If you
earn that sort of beating, I'll finish you off as a mercy."
"Thanks," he quipped, driving them back. "Where's her rings?"
"Left with the kid," Clint said.
Steve shook his head. "I hope the security team has them then."
Natasha checked. "No, a reporter has pictures of them. We
need to go to this studio." She showed Bucky. They paused
there and she got out, being followed by Bucky. She smiled at the
guards, knocking them out when they tried to get in her way. She found
the reporter's office and walked into it. "You have my wife's
"You can't prove that," he said happily.
"You put pictures of them online." He blanched. She
smiled. "I'm going to get them back immediately or I will find
them and break whoever has them." He yanked open a drawer and
tossed a ring over. "Both of them."
"Is the new one an anniversary piece?"
"Dawn bought them for that purpose and we just had to save her from a
cult. She is not in a good mood as she had to start destroying
them long before help got there." He pulled the other one off and
tossed it at her. "This is not ours." She held up her
hand. "It looks like this one. It is custom made. Do
not try to push off your cheap trash." She tossed that one
back. "The offer to search for it myself stands. I'm sure
the Winter Soldier can back me up."
He looked at the guy behind her, then at her. "Is he an Avenger?"
She smirked. "He helped train me while I was Russian," she said in
Russian. The guy blinked and moaned because that was probably
news but he didn't speak Russian. Bucky spotted the ring on
someone and took it off her to hand over. She checked it against
hers. "That's the wider version. He has Dawn's ring," she
"He gave it to the editor," that one said with a grin, taking her ring
back. "She's admiring it in the sunlight. It was an
"Yes, it was," she said smugly. "That and other amazing things." The reporter shivered.
"It's sad but I could almost hear them and I was in the next tower," Bucky said dryly.
Natasha looked at him. "That was not her."
"I know." He grinned. She swatted him. The editor came
out with two guards. Natasha took the ring back, checking it
against hers then against the inscription. "Thank you for being
part of accepting stolen goods."
Natasha looked at her. "You're already missing a stone?" She held it up.
Dawn walked up behind them and summoned it. "I'm going to close
your shitty paper down," she vowed, staring at the editor.
"Boys?" Officers moved around her. "She broke my very
expensive new wedding band." They took pictures and arrested the
editor and the reporter. She smiled and handed over
something. "Notice that we'll be suing your paper tomorrow.
Including child endangerment charges as they left my rings with my son,
who was left on a table over there."
"I called security," that reporter said as he struggled not to be cuffed.
Dawn stared at him coldly. "And left him alone in there for over
ten minutes. Who knows what could've happened to him while I was
sedated and fighting for my life." The officer shivered at the
cold tone. "I'd make a plea. I really would. I will
*destroy* you for any harm to my son." The reporter's eyes went
wide. "Remember, I did get taught many things in Romania."
The reporter started to throw up. Dawn smirked evilly at the
editor. "And before then by society sluts at school." The
editor was crying. "Good." She walked off. "Thank you,
officers. We love working with the good NYPD guys." They
smiled at her. She went back to the SUV. "They broke my
"We can have it fixed." He looked at it, taking the small diamond
to check over. "Looks like the prongs got moved." Bucky and
Natasha got in but Steve was driving. "Where did you get these?"
"Gumuchian." She put that into the mapping system and let it tell
them how to get there. Clint walked her in there. "They
broke my ring when they kidnaped me."
"That's a shame, miss." He took it to look at. "We can
probably fix that." He got one of the jewelers out. "A bit
thinner than the usual one."
She smiled at the jeweler. "They tried to steal them."
"That figures. Some people are stupid." He took it to look
at, nodding. "Not a hard fix. It'll take me a few days, Mrs.
"Thank you." She smiled at him. "Let me know?"
"I shall." She nodded and left. He smiled at the shop
clerk. "She had them specially made to be thinner as wedding
bands." He took it into the back to fix that setting. It
wasn't hard, just a bit of soldering.
The clerk looked her up online. What he saw amused him. She
was someone to know. He'd have to chat her up when she came back
so he made a good impression.
Bucky looked at Stark, Pepper, and Steve that night. "Your kids have no sense, common or otherwise."
"It's part of being a genius," Pepper said with a grimace for the three
kids, who were all glaring at their 'uncle'. "We try."
"Yup, and then Liz decides to go pat a bomb." Tony glared at his
younger daughter. "Chris decides he's going to investigate toilets
to see where it goes and nearly gets his head stuck and nearly
drowns. When he's rescued he's *sure* that the frog humpers are
down there and is calling pitifully for them." Pepper moaned,
rubbing her head. "And the oldest watches them like it's reality
"Each kid has to learn for themselves. Us telling them won't help
any," Callia said. "I learned about plumbing helping someone fix
some in the kitchen one day when it broke."
"It broke because you tried to put your shoes in the garbage disposal," Pepper said.
She smiled. "They were too small anyway so therefore they were perfect for that experiment."
Steve looked at her then at Bucky. "Before my time." Bucky
snorted, shaking his head. "So, does that mean you can be our
"Yup. As long as I can remind them of things like manners," he said, staring at Callia, who had just belched.
"'Scuse," Liz quipped with a grin for him.
"Yes, that's what your sister should be doing," Steve said, staring at her.
"Sorry, gaseous bubble explosion inside my intestinal tract," Callia quipped. "Couldn't help it."
"Yank the other one, it plays jazz," Bucky said dryly. She rolled
her eyes. "I get to help correct that, right?" he asked Pepper.
"She's going to take some deportment lessons at her new school if we like it."
Callia stared at him. "I'm going to school? Like in a real school?"
Tony nodded. "We've found a safe one but it's a long commute,
kiddo." He pulled her next to him. "It's on Long
Island." She grimaced. "It's got other kids who have safety
issues. It's got a lot of self-paced things and a lot of kids
doing pre-college work like you are. It also has online classes
for when we're not local."
She grinned. "I could like that."
He nodded. "We're looking at it Friday."
"I have to see the baby doctor on Friday, Daddy."
"Yup, you do. We're going before that."
She huffed. "Is it going to be rushed?"
"We have two hours scheduled. We can get you there faster
maybe." She nodded and they settled in to talk about it. He
smiled at Bucky. "You're coming with us and Dawn. She thinks she
wants Philip there."
"Sure. That'll be fine. No uniforms, Stark."
"Decent clothes but no uniforms," he agreed.
"Good." He went to his new place. It was nice sized for a
New York place. Nothing grand or anything but good sized for a
single guy. Maybe he'd try dating again too. He could use a
girlfriend or someone snuggly now and then.
Dawn smiled, shaking the headmistress' hand. "Hi, Dawn Summers. We talked on the phone about my son and my niece."
"We did." She smiled and shook Tony and Pepper's hands. "I know you both. Is this your eldest?"
"Yes," Tony said with a smile. "This is my female clone
Callia." They went to the office. The main building looked
like it had been a former manor house but it was spotlessly clean and
the classrooms they passed were soundproofed because they couldn't hear
the one that was having a party. They settled in to go over their
expectations and their needs. She smiled at Philip, who was cooing
at the music playing. Callia's scores got looked over and it was
The headmistress smiled at Dawn. "We don't really have a waiting list."
Dawn grinned. "I'm her alternate guardian if something's happened to her parents."
"Ah!" She nodded. "That's reasonable. Has he shown any advanced skills?"
"Toward music. He screams whenever he has to spend time in the lab
without another baby to play with. Even with the Roomba
army. He's fascinated by music though. He's just over a year
old but he's already walking and babbling a lot more than anyone but
Tony laughed. "He does babble more at the artwork than anyone but Liz ever has."
"I didn't babble?" Callia asked him.
"No, not really. You stared at the artwork like it was odd and then picked up a toy to take apart," Tony said.
"That proves I was meant to be in science," she quipped with a grin for him.
"It does," he agreed.
The headmistress smiled. "It probably does." She handed them
a packet. "Fill that out and send that back. We'll go over
admission policies once we have it." Dawn pulled out a copy from
her bag to hand over. "Got it online?"
"Yes. All but one form was listed. The health form we were
going to wait on until after her appointment this afternoon."
"That's reasonable." She looked it over, smiling at a few
things. "It looks like everything's in order. Did you get
the fee sheet?"
"I did look at that," Tony agreed. "We can easily manage
that. The one I attended was twice as much and had half the
education." She smiled at him. "I went to Brighton for two
years before I went to college early."
"They are usually *standard* academically instead of superior." She smiled at Callia. "We do have a dress code."
"Okay. I can wear dresses if I must."
She smiled. "You'd be wearing a red blazer, a black shirt of some
sort, and either black pants or a black skirt. We don't dictate
style because that's a personal thing. Some girls and boys like
longer ones, some don't. You and your mother and aunt can figure
"Is there a preferred store?" Dawn asked. That got handed to
her. She smiled. "We like them anyway." She tucked it
into her bag. "What about PE? She's been in gymnastics for a
few years and self defense lessons."
"We do have two self defense teachers on staff and she's more than
welcome to test her levels to see if they can teach her. We also
Callia smiled. "I loved swimming class."
"Wonderful. We also have equitation and a few other types of sports."
"What's equitation?" Callia asked.
"Horsemanship," Dawn and Tony said together.
Callia stared. "Like riding ponies?"
"And more," the headmistress said. "Do you like animals?"
Callia pulled up pictures of her pets, making her smile. "Then we
can see if you'd like that. You'd have to be here most of the time
so it won't be this spring when you return."
"That's okay." She nodded with a grin. "Can I work ahead if I'm bored?"
"Yes. We'll also help you firm up your report writing style."
"I do way too many reports for classwork and punishment," Callia
complained, scowling at her father, who shrugged. She pulled up
her current ones. "I'm working on these."
The headmistress took them to look over. "I see you had Pyles as
your homeschooling liaison. He's the only one that doesn't dumb
down the educational needs." She went over it. "Not bad for
your range. We can help you polish those." Callia smiled and
nodded, taking her tablet back. "I can admit her for our distance
learning program until you're back here full time." Tony wrote
out the check to hand over. She smiled and handed over the health
sheet. "Have them fill that out for you."
"I can do that. Thank you," Tony said, shaking her hand.
Dawn smiled and shook her hand as well. "I know two mostly smart
five-year-old twins who I'm going to recommend when they're old enough
She smiled. "That's wonderful. Boys, girls?"
"Awww." She smiled. "I've seen pictures of you with
them." Dawn grinned. "When he's of age, we'll test him to
see if he can get in too."
"Thank you." She shook her hand and walked out behind the
family. Callia was babbling happily and nearly bounding up the
halls. Pepper smiled. "I'm going to mention it to Tara."
"It's a good school for the twins too. They're bright but not
being pushed." Tony held the door open, babbling back at his
daughter as they walked down to the car. They got into the back,
put Philip in his car seat, and were off. Tony and Callia got
dropped at the baby doctor. Pepper, Dawn, and Philip went to their
meeting. Bucky went to talk to Steve at SHIELD.
Yeah, they could handle this.
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