Handyman Old Ones Fix Things.

"Who're you?"

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 here?"

"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 clear?"

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 okay?"

"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 a concussion."

"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 wife's in."

"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."

"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 announcements?"

"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 said Bethesda?"

"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."

"Thank you."

"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 Stark's infirmary."

"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 touchy.


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 them."

"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.  "Just you?"

"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.  "Fine."

"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."


"Your leg?"

"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 peppy."

"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 sure who."

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 before."

"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 science."


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.  "When?"

"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 her."

"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 this.

"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 Dawn?"

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."

"Oh, dear."

"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 appeared.  "Hey."

"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 ordered.  "Xander?"

"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 crash.

"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 her.

"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 underneath you?"

"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 Xander.  "Done."

"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?"

"Few centuries."

"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 pantheons. 

"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 else."

"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 frivolous."

"Then you can be the Goddess of Weapons under Clint's God of War."  Xander kissed Dawn on the head.  "Rise and shine, sleeping beauty."

"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 panics."

"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.

"I don't...."

"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 mirror.

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 gardens."

"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."

"Lady 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 charming!" 

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 ones."

"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."

"Spank her?"

"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 good."

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 the temple.

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 fell asleep.

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."

"Did we?"

"No.  You had about a week of worrying after a vision."

"What did I see?"

"My brother."

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 won't happen."

"Your brother?"

"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 quietly.

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 Joyce Banner."

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 your arm."

"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.  "Blood clots."

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?"

"Six weeks."

"That's fine."  Bruce smiled and went back to the hospital.  He looked out there.  "Hill, who's your assistant on the hell carrier?"

"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 doll.

"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 they?"

"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 show Mommies.

Clint smiled at him then kissed Dawn.  She moaned into it.  "Relax.  No sex in here.  Especially not with sprout down there."

"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 there, sir."

"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 was sick.


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 be fine.


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 granting permission."

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 family."

"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 tree."

"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 him.

"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."

"We are."

"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 smoother."

"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, Xander."

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 said dryly.

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 what?"

"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, right?"

"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 time?"

"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 cuddling in.


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 dryly.

"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 doing."

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 Mom's too."

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."

"Welcome, dear."

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 vines?"

"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 defile it. 

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 right." 

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 children?"

"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 them.

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."

"Then no."

"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 again.

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 ended?"

"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 thing.

"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 worked."

"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?"

"Yes, sir."

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."

"Gaia, sir?"

"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."

"Excuse me?"

"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."

"Agent Coulson?"

"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 qualms remaining?"

"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 then."

"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 him."

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 disappeared.

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 in.

"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 Maria?"

"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 for you?"

"Yes please."

"When's good for you?" she asked with a smile.

"Right now?"

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 to see?"

"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 you!"

"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 fresh coffee?"

"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 again."

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 Mom about?"

Steve took two bottles of water and a few advil to lessen his headache.  "The president just said your mother and I are co-heading SHIELD."

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."

"Steve's not."

"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 girls."

"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 things."

"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 apartment."

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 acting like.


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 suggestions?"

"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 you."

"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 company."

"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 ended?"

"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 maternal relatives."

"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, John."

"I can't."

"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 to bed.

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 president."

"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 it.


"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 cackle.


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 walk right.


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!"

"But, Pepper."

"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 waited."

"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 did well."

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 that need."

"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 find her."

"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 God."

"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 good?"

"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 again."

"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 your rings?"

"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 rings."

"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 told her.

"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 anniversary present?"

"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 ring, Clint."

"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. Summers."

"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 tv."

"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 bodyguard?"

"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 good.

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 Liz does."

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 that out."

"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 have swimming?"

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 as well."

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.

The End.

Back to index