Other Old Ones Clashing Against Our Old Ones.
Dawn got up and took a sinfully long shower. It might be her last
one and she wanted to enjoy it. She also wanted to be as
clean as possible for the battle. Her old shampoo was in there and
the soap. Both were old but still worked. Finally, her
muscles were lax and she got out. She toweled off. She
walked back to her room and pulled on her bra and underwear. She
pulled on socks then her unitard. She found a convenient nail to
help her get the zipper up fully. She sat on her bed pulling on
her sneakers. They were black too. She stood up and adjusted
herself inside her bra, taking a good look at herself. Her hair
got pulled back into a ponytail. Then the ponytail got bunned up
so it would stay out of her face.
She checked herself. She still looked a bit thin. She opened
the box and pulled out her chainmail tunic. She stared at
it. It was nearly time. She could feel the energy
gathering. She unhitched the pins that held it together for easy
folding and slid into it. She walked out doing her cuffs and
making sure it laid well. She found her sister's sword.
Buffy had sent it for her. Just in case she needed a weapon.
Buffy was in the second line of fighters being called if it became
She put it onto her back and walked out, turning to close and lock the
door. When she realized she was locking it, she nearly
cried. But they didn't have time for that today. She walked
off with it unlocked. Someone might need to get into it
later. She walked toward the school, looking at all the empty,
silent buildings. Not even vampires were here. Not even
Nothing but her and the hellmouth.
If she were Buffy, this might feel right, like a proper battle. Unfortunately she was Dawn, not Buffy.
She made it there, closing her eyes to pray to the Goddess for the
upcoming battle. She let herself channel Xander's stubbornness,
channel Buffy's attitude. Hell, she'd channel Willow if she had
to. She calmed herself and found the energy going on. She
felt the spell through it. The other hellmouths were closed.
She changed her stance, staring at the wreckage of the school. It
wasn't a good battleground but it had some cover and some mazes of
walls that were still standing. They had removed the walls around
the old library to give themselves a clear firing field. She
lifted her chin. "Fuck this shit," she muttered. She felt
her magic come at her call. She concentrating, unlocking the other
Keys. She heard someone step up behind her. "Landed outside
"Yup," Clint said. "You okay?"
"No." He looked at her. "Focus on the job," he reminded her. She nodded. "Sword?"
"Buffy sent it. Just in case." He nodded. She
pointed. "That might be the best vantage point. The
hellmouth's there," she said with a point. The magic highlighted
the opening of the portal.
He grimaced. "Not the best one. Trees can get knocked
down. Especially around Thor." She smiled and pointed behind
her. "That's a bit too far but there's a good one." She
smiled at him. "Be safe?"
He stared at her. "That 'fuck this shit' thing. You have a coded entry into your powers?"
She nodded. "That's how I figured it went best. It was easy
enough to do with what I can usually touch. The rest is like the
underground lake connected to the upside lake through a blow
hole." He nodded, walking off. "Sunglasses?" she called.
"Cool." She wiped her hands off on her legs then went back to
watching the gathering magic. She was the sentinel on the hole
until Willow got there. No one knew the hellmouth like
Willow. They were almost joined from all the closings she had
done. Mayor Wilkins might not have known the hellmouth the way
Willow did. Speaking of, she felt the bright power land behind
"Are you an elf?" she asked.
Dawn stared her down. "Xander had it made for me by
dwarves." Willow rolled her eyes. "It protects me. We
figure I'm probably going to be hit at." She looked back at the
hole. "I felt the closings start."
"That's a good sign. Where's Tara?"
"Coven. She and the babies."
"Babies?" Dawn looked at her and nodded. "She's got babies? She adopted?"
Dawn smiled. "She asked really nicely. The father's a really
good guy and will let her set how much he gets to do. He might
push some but otherwise he's going to be a great father, like she is a
"Good. I know she wanted babies some year." Dawn nodded. Willow considered that. "Do I know him?"
"You brought him back to life," she said quietly.
Willow smiled. "I knew he'd quit making her cry." Dawn glared at her. "Hey!"
"Get ready for the battle, Willow. You're taking my mental
focus." She looked at the hole again. The calling was
Thor landed beside her. "Morning."
"Morning," she said in Norse. He smiled. "That's your primary battlefield."
"Still is a mess," he said, looking it over. "My nephew will be
here soon. He is laying out a calling order of which war gods to
call upon first. A few are trying not to come. Xander has
already promised that he would destroy them to get their powers as a
weapon. I think we will not have much trouble after the first
one." She nodded that might be. He looked around. "The
village looks so normal. I can feel the taint but it looks nice."
"Like plants that trap flies," Dawn agreed.
"Aye, that's true of this place." He felt the magic growing and
sent a thought at his nephew. The other Gods appeared with both
weapons. Dawn called up more power, gathering it in her
hands. "Easy," Thor said quietly.
"I am. Just ready for it."
He nodded. "The minutes before battles are often filled with
nerves and prayers." The portal became visible without magical
aid. It was roiling, a black, muddy mess. Dawn took a calming
breath. Then a second. Willow was chanting quietly to pull
up magic. Xander was moving to his chosen spot. Roque to
his. The others like John were backing them up. They were
getting into position behind the line of Thor, Dawn, and Willow.
Thor looked up as more jets landed, nodding at the other members.
He nearly flinched at the lash of energy through the portal.
Willow made it discharge as fire instead. Then it died. They
all gathered to watch the big purple guy show up.
Xander stiffened and looked, then at the hole. He calmed himself,
looking at John and then Roque, nodding. It was time.
The hellmouth started to boil again as the summoning worked. The
being that appeared on a floating throne laughed. "It is good to
be on earth," he sneered. "A welcoming committee?" He sent
out waves of energy. Dawn shielded against it. He stared at
her. "Interesting. You're not a hero."
"Sure I am." She blasted him with power. "If only for today,
I am." The being shouted as the energy hit him. Thor and
Willow moved in with the godly made weapon. Dawn kept him
"The throne," Xander called. "Then the gems or anything like
them." They hit their targets. The being, Thanos, was
laughing at their attempts.
"I have met many heros and killed many of them."
"Not this time," Stark said as he landed. "Sorry to be
late." He blasted the bad guy. Dawn was moving to fire
around him, having to jump over some ground that was cracking and
melting. The guy seemed to be able to manipulate Stark's
weapon blasts back at him. Or send any missiles back at him.
That was not good. He fired on a gemstone he saw. It broke
before the immortal was able to shield it. The other gods rushed
in for a straight attack, covered by Dawn. He couldn't warp hers
or Willow's powers. Interesting. "JARVIS, can you
recalibrate one of the lasers to fire on the same wavelength Dawn is?"
"I can try, sir," his AI said. Tony fired on another part of the
chair while another gem was broken by an explosive-tipped arrow.
Xander panted, looking at the being. He called for the first line
of war gods. They appeared and Ares was in full bloodshed and
destruction mode. Xander let himself fall back into the battle
mindset that came close to berserking. This thing had blood and he
wanted to be stained by it. He fired on him, earning a shocked
look. Xander sneered and kept it up. He and Dawn were aiming
at about the same place, starting to cause a burn. Xander upped
his power levels and kept attacking. Another gem he was wearing
was shattered by an explosive arrow.
Stark turned on some music to work himself into a better firing
mood. Because this was starting to look hopeless. JARVIS
popped in. "Sir, Dawn sent over a playlist. It's not classic
like yours but she might feel more comfortable."
"Sure, I can try it," he agreed. He went from AC/DC to Skillet's
_Hero_. He smirked. Dawn was a little hellcat. He
fired on the being at a better angle.
Fury was watching the battle from a satellite image, frowning at how it
was going. "Coulson, start the evacuation of the surrounding
areas. At the very least there's probably going to be an
earthquake with that sort of energy."
"On it, sir." He started to call around, assigning agents to
help. "Sir, press choppers are in the air heading that way."
"Give them air cover to make them leave," Fury ordered. "They don't need this today."
"Yes, sir." He let Hill take care of that while he went to the
nearest town to start them evacuating. The chopper landed him in
front of the City Hall. He walked inside to the Mayor's
office. "Agent Coulson, SHIELD," he said as he walked in.
"There's a battle going on in Sunnydale. We need to evacuate your
people just in case, sir."
The mayor looked at him then turned on the tv. Sure enough,
someone was close enough to be filming it. "How long do we have?"
"We're trying to contain it and we believe there may be an earthquake
coming. If that one gets free, we'll be lucky to have ten
minutes." The mayor nodded and started to call people to start the
evacuation. Coulson helped from there. SHIELD's medics were
already on site there to start the treatments needed. A few gods
were down and exhausted. One looked like he was blinking in and
out of reality. Coulson calmed himself. Mind on the job, not
on the battle he couldn't hope to help with. He wasn't godly.
Dawn shifted around Stark again and concentrated, calling up the power
from all three Keys at once. She blasted him extra hard, making
his floating throne rock. "There's no way." She blocked off
his attempt to move into an alternate universe to travel, or into the
time-space continuum so he could get around them. "Nope, not
today, buddy." She silently chanted to keep control. Before
she went nuclear. Stark fired one of the bigger bombs they had
built at him. It dented the guy, making him bellow. Thor was
doing his own thing. The throne had a shield. Dawn focused
on it and blasted the place Xander was picking at with her own
power. The shield fell for a second but Thor managed to hit it
with his hammer. Loki was working to divert his power on the
other, safer side of the battle.
The being laughed. "You cannot stop me. I am immortal. I am Thanos."
"And hey, dickhead, I'm the fucking Key," Dawn said, shooting another
higher powered blast at him. That took him by surprise, or the
knowledge did. "Get off my fucking planet."
He laughed. "You are known to us but not in that form,
girl." She hit him again, this time twice in a row. "Are you
willing to die to see me go?"
"Yup. Gladly. If must needs then so be it," she said.
The being stared. She pulled a dagger and cut her palm, letting
the power gather in her blood. She released all her shields on her
powers. All her bufferings, all the things that were keeping her
power inside. "Fuck you and this." The power leapt at her
command and she fired on him, Xander joining in. Thor hit him with
lightening on that same spot. Willow was pulling from the
hellmouth to join in. He was trying to laugh but it wasn't
working. A wave of power ran out toward them to knock them
down. Dawn didn't fall. Willow didn't fall. Everyone
Xander growled and concentrated on his rip into the creation
powers. "Fuck you," he growled. "And this shit." He
fired with Dawn again and again, driving the throne back. He was
starting to have his vision tunnel but it had to happen. Stark and
Hawkeye got the other gems. Thanos was not looking so amused.
Dawn moved closer and hit him with more power. One of the others
tried to grab her but got burned hands for it. This might go on
forever at the rate it was going. She kept it up until she was
hurting. Physically hurting. She concentrated, if it had to
undo her body then so be it. It had to be gone. Even the
Keys knew that this was an abomination. The others were
weeding down his power source. The godly weapon and the other
weapon were being used. It was pulling on the hellmouth's energy
to channel it into a beam. Willow was working with that team now.
Tara looked up from helping with the spell, rubbing her stomach.
She sent a desperate plea to any god that could help. She felt an
ancient power answer and prayed that she would stop him. The
female power felt ...amused. She pleaded. There were others
that did her bidding there fighting the one who was trying to impress
her. She felt the power focus out there and calmed herself,
sending up a prayer of thanks. She got some water and came
back to work on the spell.
The higher female power was watching the battle. The ones who were
hers by right of their jobs she couldn't enter. The one she could
was a fierce warrior, a strong one, one linked back to creation.
She saw Those Who Gather show up to help and knew it was not
right. Then she saw something that she had not bothered to look
on. Witches. Two witches. One who had tampered with
her realm. She sneered and looked at the other. She wasn't
pure by any means. She was powerful. She saw why and
nodded. She would do. She floated down. The child
would not let her in! It was frustrating! How could she
not.... She realized why not when the girl stared at her then went
back to the battle. That was quite interesting.
She searched, finding a witch of adequate power to inhabit for a
while. Her powers were strong enough to not dissolve the physical
form she wore. She merged with her, making her scream. She
and the body went back to the battle. She stared at the being in
the chair, walking through the warriors. A few of them shivered as
Xander turned to look at her. "Get out of Mari's body. She doesn't deserve to die."
"I need one I can use for a bit."
He sneered. "Then take mine." She laughed and joined with
him. Mari passed out and got removed by the medics.
Thor and the other Gods were horrified. All but Ares who was
sneering at the new goddess. They moved forward. "Thanos."
He stared at her. "Mistress Death," he said in awe. "That is not your usual form."
"I was not summoned." She stared at him. "They will not allow you here."
"They are but weak gods."
"Hey, some of us aren't weak," Dawn shouted, then hit him through
Xander. Xander channeled it and sent it out, making the goddess in
him scream and exit as her powers were yanked out by Xander.
Xander's form was starting to wobble into a column of light. She
ran forward and jumped into it. "Use mine, Xander."
He nodded and they beat the bastard back. The other gods came back
to the battle and it was going. He was losing ground back into
the hellmouth. She felt it when Willow went critical, going to a
shower of magic that blasted the hellmouth. It sucked up the god
and Dawn fought to stay out of it. She was trapped inside Xander
but it was a warm, comforting place. She felt power coming and
flinched, separating them. She passed out when she was hit with
"Enough," Xander's voice rang out. He was fully blown open.
The powers from Creation itself were like a small eddy in his column of
light. They were growing fast.
"Xander, join with me," John called.
Xander looked at him then shook his head. "No. Protect
what's mine." He turned and threw all his power, all the power he
could suck from Creation, at the being. Thanos screamed in
pain. It was the first real sign he was in pain. Xander kept
it up and Thanos was shoved back into the hellmouth. One of the
bombs was sent into it with the ungodly created weapon. The
hellmouth exploded, sending out waves of energy and dirt. Blood
from the demons waiting to cross through. Bits of tentacle and
slime. Dirt, brick, and wood from the school's remains.
Xander fell to his knees, looking like a shade of himself. He
panted, trying to calm the pain. He looked at John. "I'll be
back." He faded out. He saw the elder Hindu gods waiting on
him. They had merged with creation themselves back in time.
He nearly fell to his knees crying.
John looked at the hole then sealed it for good. He looked around
the assembled, barely walking heros. "It's done," he said.
Ares growled. "Where is he?" he demanded.
"He's one with the space-time continuum. If he can refind a solid
form he can come back. I can feel him like I do the Elders of the
Hindu pantheons, Ares."
Ares calmed himself, nodding. "Good." He felt an arrow
coming and turned to blast the stupid humans who were firing on
them. "Who the fuck are you?" he sneered.
"The knights that want to take out Dawn," Stark said, firing on them too. Thor was covering where Dawn was laying for now.
Ares sneered. "Not any more they won't." He needed something
to calm down. Hunting and stalking easy prey would do that just
Stark squatted beside Dawn, raising his face shield. "JARVIS, scan her?"
"She's alive, sir. Barely but she is alive."
"MEDIC!" he yelled. They came to gather Dawn. He looked at
the others. No one was without injuries. Even Hawkeye had a
few good cuts. He summoned back all the arrows he could.
"That was nice of her," Stark said, sounding tired. The song
changed and he turned it off. He looked at the hole then at the
others again. "Let's hit the infirmary, people."
Hulk looked at him. "Strong god."
"Yeah, and he's not dead, just banished. Maybe next time, big
guy." He walked off over the uneven, broken, ravaged, dead
ground. Well, limped off. He didn't have enough energy left
to fly to the defunct hospital they were using. If it had gone on
another half an hour, he would've burned out his arc reactor. He
was not cut out for this sort of heroics. They had to manually
help him out of his suit since he didn't have a station set up here to
help him out of it. That was fine. He sat down on a bed and
nearly passed out as one of his boots was taken off. "When did I
"No clue," the doctor said. "X-ray it," she ordered. "Mr.
Stark, any other injuries you're just now realizing?" He shook his
head. "We'll let you rest after the x-ray then." She walked
off to check the others limping in.
Nick Fury looked at the assembled presidents on his screens. They
were happy and yet very pissed off. "We did warn that one was
coming," he repeated.
"Who was the girl in chainmail?" the French one asked.
"She's a civilian who helps us magically. She's also eighteen and
refused to train as a warrior the way an Avenger would need. Her
sister is the hero in the family according to her."
"Her sister?" one demanded.
"Her sister's a slayer, President. She said only one hero to a family because their mother was still alive."
"I see." He considered it. "Would she train if conscripted?"
"No. Nor am I going to try. She's a nice young lady that makes great coffee and protects some of the Avengers."
A Prime Minister smiled. "I thought she looked familiar."
Fury nodded slightly. "She does make very good coffee if given
good grounds. What of the one that faded?"
"Preliminary reports from Colonel Sheppard said that he's still alive,
just incorporeal for a time being. I'm told his father is livid,"
he told the US President. Who sneered. Fury smirked.
"You haven't seen him yet, sir?"
"I've seen a bit too much of his father recently.
Fury shrugged. "I can't stop him from whoever he's dating,
sir." He looked at the others. "We made sure to try to
channel him out there so there would be very few casualties among the
civilians. Frankly, one less hellmouth is great for the world as
far as we're concerned."
"The weapons used?" the US President asked.
"The one created by the various gods went home with one of them. The other was destroyed when the hellmouth went up."
"Who created that one?"
"I believe you should ask General O'Neill about that, sir. As far
as I'm aware, some of his people had a hand in it. If there are
others from other areas, I'm not totally certain and can't speak for
him. All I heard was that a few of his geeks were working on
something to help."
"I can have him answer that," the US President said firmly. "Now what, Director Fury?"
"Now? All my people have a few weeks off to recover. The
earthquakes we thought might happen have all calmed down and all the
pertinent areas were evacuated. I would put forth an idea that all
the cities work up their own evacuation plans. I know LA's was
started by Stark's assistant. It led to a much more orderly one
than happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina."
"That could be helpful," the UK Prime Minister said. "Any serious injuries you'll have to cover?"
"Stark's got a broken foot. They stuck a jet boot on it as a cast
on-site and can't get it off without causing damage. It's going to
be at least three months for him but we might be able to borrow War
Machine for that time. Colonel Rhodes volunteered." That got
a nod from the US President. "Thor is presently drinking mead by
the gallon over his nephew and the young witch. The rest of us are
just bruised and not really up to anything at the moment, sir.
Even the Hulk was injured. They had to call in Stark's daughter to
calm him down enough to stitch him up. For some reason he reacts
positively toward her. She calls him Uncle Grr Guy though."
He hung up and turned. "Agent Hill, are all agents on board?"
"Coulson, Barton, and Romanoff. They're back in New York already with Miss Summers. Stark is also back there."
"Fine. Anything else I should hear?"
"Not yet, sir."
He nodded. "Then let's move back to our ususal docking spot,
people." He turned back to his consoles to deal with things.
Stark looked up as Pepper walked in with Callia, who was giggling about
something. "Hey, kiddo." He took her to cuddle. She
was staring at his boot. "It's a cast. It'll be okay."
She patted him and he kissed her on the forehead. "Your Auntie
Dawn gave me a whole lot of ideas. Want to learn about
dragons?" She nodded and rested her head on his shoulder. He
turned back around to go over those files in more depth now. "How
"Still down. They say she might wake up tonight." She smiled
and took a picture. "I'll get dinner sent up for you two."
She left them alone to talk about dragons and weapons.
Tony looked at her. "It's very important when you have a Pepper of
your own that you love her like she's family. They're the ones
that keep you sane when the ideas get to be too much and keep you sane
the rest of the time for different reasons." She patted his
cheek. He smiled. "We'll find you someone just as
great." He went back to reading the file to her. She liked
Pepper had heard and was smiling. Sometimes Tony wasn't such a big jackass.
Dawn blinked, scanned the room. She saw a familiar shape next to
her bed, in a chair turned backwards, staring at her. "Did we
"Yeah, we won, Short Stuff." She smiled. "Rest if you need to. I know waking up hurts."
"Yeah but migraines happen."
He snorted. "Ya think?" He patted her on the hand.
"Coulson will be here soon." She nodded, swallowing. He got
her some water and she sipped then smiled and drifted off. He sent
out a text message to everyone who had demanded to know when she woke
up. He called Joyce because he believed her when she had said she
was going to castrate then gut him if he didn't. "She woke up for a
few minutes, had some water, and she's napping again." He hung up
on her sigh of relief. He went back to watching her. The
others came in, including Tara. "She's fine," he told Tara.
"You hush." She ran a hand over Dawn's head, testing her.
Dawn flinched at the magic. "You have such burn out, young
lady." She hugged her. "But you'll be okay. I promise
you'll be okay." Phil helped her into the other chair.
Natasha perched on the end of the bed. "When are the doctors due
Clint shrugged. "They've been through here twice today so maybe
tomorrow." Tara nodded. "Why not our infirmary?" he asked
Coulson, whose choice it had been.
"They were going to take cells for a DNA profile."
"Seriously?" Clint asked. "Ours are all on profile."
He nodded. "In case they want to clone us at some later time." Clint's eyes narrowed. "She doesn't want that."
"No, I can agree with that." He looked at Natasha.
"I can hack that to take mine and yours out." He grinned.
They went back to staring at Dawn. The nurse started to come in
then backed out slowly.
"She woke up, had some water, then drifted off again," Clint said.
"That's good. I'll make the note. Visiting hours are almost over."
Clint stared at her. "Do you remember the talk we had last night that started with 'bite me' and went on from there?"
He pointed at Coulson. "He'll be more mean but more polite."
"I'll let the next shift know." She rushed off to make that
note. She heard the mouthy one yelp in pain so she got to
smile. Clearly someone was trying to keep him in line.
Someone walked up the hall and she stared, looking awed.
Steve smiled. "Which room is Miss Summers in?" he asked politely.
"Two more up, Captain."
"Thank you. Her mother sent me." He walked in and looked at
Dawn. "Your mother said either you wake up and be healthy again or
she's going to get out of her own bed to come paddle you." Dawn
waved a hand at him. "I'll tell her you said fine." She
shifted and winced, getting helped onto her side.
"I called her," Clint said.
Steve nodded. "She said you hung up on her." He leaned against the wall. "How soon before she gets out?"
"Not until she can stay awake," Clint said. "Could be days.
Could be a week. They don't know what to do about her magical
"Protein, bananas, and water," Tara said. "And a lot of aspirin."
"That's about what's been in her IV only a stronger painkiller for her
obvious migraine. They had to keep the lights off and put in a
special red light for the first few days."
"I'm just glad she didn't fade like Xander did," Steve said quietly. "She was inside him, right?"
"I asked Thor, he said that Gods have an elemental form. That was
the column of light. When they merged it let him use hers to keep
himself from dying and kept Dawn from going over too." Steve
nodded. Clint looked at the bed again. "They also gave her a
shot to stop her cycle," he told Tara. "They said she didn't need
to lose any more blood."
"She was bleeding?" Tara asked.
"She has a few good cuts," Phil told her. "The chainmail was
fantastic but some of the power whips cut her." Tara
scowled. "They stitched them closed and she can heal them when she
"She'll be in backlash for a few weeks at the least," Tara said.
"Think of it like going for a three mile run the first time you try to
Phil winced. "I remember how much a mile hurt the first time. Flexing it won't help?"
"No. It could send her back into the coma. It's strain, not over-exertion. Like metal fatigue."
"Got it," he said. He squeezed her shoulder. "We'll handle
it. Even if someone does have to get her a part-time housekeeper
for a few weeks."
"Pepper paid her rent for her," Natasha said. "She had some of the
Tower's cleaning staff to clean her house." Phil smiled and
nodded. "It's all set up for her to go home."
"Now all we need is for her to wake up and Xander to reappear," Steve
said. He grimaced. "And Tony's foot to unswell so he can
take off the jetboot for a normal cast."
"He can't cut it off?" Tara asked.
"He said no," Steve said. "Callia's enjoying it though.
She's not sure if he's the Scary Daddy or the Cuddly Daddy as she calls
"Is that like her Uncle Bruce and his other side, Uncle Grr Guy?"
Coulson asked. Steve smiled and nodded. "Great. She is
the next genius Stark. I still like her better than her father."
Tara smiled and patted him on the arm. "She'll grow up to be more like her mom."
"No, I'm fairly certain her aunt will teach her backless shirts and
wedge heels are wrong for every occasion," Phil said. Clint
snickered, shaking his head. "I know you saw it."
"I know I saw it too. I was napping until she tried to come
in." He glanced at Dawn then back at Steve. "Hiding?"
"Yes. People have been coming up to scream at Fury about us.
I heard someone asking earlier if they could borrow us for their
country. I think he said they could as long as they took Tony and
put up with him for a month. They said they didn't need that one."
Natasha shook her head. "Xander was right, this is the new nuclear
arms race, to get their own special response teams." Clint
nodded. "If we have to, we can hide."
"I'm pretty sure a few wanted her," Steve said, pointing at Dawn.
"The one I heard suggested they could take good care of her until she
was better. Agent Hill growled and the man backed off very
"Maria is a very strong woman," Tara agreed. "She could probably
kick anyone around a bit." Steve smiled. "So, any other
news?" She had a hand resting on her stomach.
He grinned. "I heard and congratulations. There's all sorts
of rumors about who the father is but I know he's a good man."
Coulson shook his head. "Really?" He nodded. "Wow,
that's great, Agent Coulson." He smiled. "I'm sure you two
are going to be great at the splitting parents thing. Since I
didn't expect Tara to give up girls for you, unless I'm wrong?"
"Cap, you're babbling like Dawn," Clint said.
"Sorry, I'm never sure how to address such questions."
Tara smiled. "He'll get to be as active as he wants. It's twins. One of each."
"That's wonderful. If you need help putting together the furniture
I've done a bit of that recently for someone's bookshelves."
"Sure, you can help. I need to move to a better apartment too."
"New York apartments are notoriously small," he agreed. "Maybe Dawn can help you find one."
She smiled. "I hope so."
Phil looked at her. "I have a three bedroom apartment, Tara.
You know that." She nodded, patting his hand. He looked at
the slight figure on the bed. "She really looks tired."
"The energy sensors on board the hell carrier measured more energy than
all the nuclear tests in the last twenty years," Natasha said.
"Mostly hers and Xander's."
Clint nodded. "We've got to get her to eat too. If I heard
right, she had popcorn at home the night before the battle with
Loki." Everyone stared at him. "She said he was concerned
for his son." That got a nod.
"When did you talk about this?" Phil asked. Clint blinked, looking confused. "Is she telepathic again?"
"She must be. We didn't talk about it that morning."
"Huh." Phil nodded. "I guess we'll see. If it's like
the last migraine she turned it off after a few days." Clint
nodded, going back to staring at her. Steve patted him and
left. He took Tara with him since she needed some rest. The
other two agents settled in to wait on her waking up. Dawn really
needed to wake up.
Clint woke up a few mornings later and felt a bit disoriented for some
reason. He scanned his room, nothing unusual. He relaxed and
felt the same mental tickle again. "Dawn?" he mentally asked
"Hmm. Bored. Need music before Boris the dancing bear shows up."
"What?" he asked. "You're in the hospital."
"No I'm not."
"Yeah you were. They kicked me out last night when you managed to stay awake for a whole hour," he told her.
"No I'm not." She felt frustrated. "I tell you what, let me do what Tara is going to scream at me about."
"Dawn, you have burn out according to Tara. From the battle."
"Yeah." She opened it anyway and he could feel the edges of a
headache but what she could almost see wasn't her hospital room.
Or any hospital room he'd ever seen. "Huh. Can you
"No. Too much fuzzy stuff and there's Boris the Dancing Bear guy again."
Clint barely saw him then she went blank. Clint got up and went to
talk to Agent Hill. She was up by this time of the morning.
She slept less than Steve did. "Has anything been said about
Dawn?" he asked quietly.
"You've been out of HQ, Barton, but Fury thinks she went rogue."
"How did she do that from a coma?"
She looked confused. "She's not in one."
"She was until the last few days. She was barely staying awake an hour earlier."
"That's not what we've heard."
"I was sitting beside her bed and now she's somewhere not there."
"Huh. I'll look into it."
"Thanks." He walked off looking even more concerned.
Something was very wrong here. The discordant stories were making him a
bit worried. He went to see Coulson. Then he changed his
mind. He didn't want to talk to him right now. He went back
to bed, laying down and getting comfortable. He put his mind into
that calm state he had been taught for meditation, thinking about
Dawn. She and Tara had both said that linking minds that way to
see things would create a bigger link. He found it and nudged it.
Dawn came back. "You dumped me."
"I did what?"
"You said you were starting to get antsy about attachments and you
dumped me last week, Clint. Thankfully you were more like a
teenage girl than I was."
"I didn't do anything like that," he said. "Dawn, are you being drugged?"
"Maybe," she admitted. "Things aren't adding up right. Like there's time flaws."
"There are. Fury thinks you went rogue from your hospital bed."
"How did I do that?"
"I have no idea." They considered it. "Can you figure out where you are?"
"No. It's not somewhere I've ever been. There's a shield
like Yale has to prevent a lot of magic. I keep seeing fighting
movies and having twitchy muscles."
"Dawn, they're trying to program you," he said. "The muscle
twitches are probably them trying to input muscle memory of martial arts
moves or something." Which was now giving him bad thoughts.
Because he was having the same 'not meeting up' problems.
"Maybe," she said then yawned. "We need music. There's no
music." He looked over at his radio, getting up to turn it on, and
let her hear it through his head. "You have a really nice
voice. I sound tone deaf but you sound nice."
"Thanks." He listened to what was going on around her.
"Resist as hard as you can, Dawn, and try to figure out how to get out
of there or tell us where you are."
"I'm trying. I'd get pissed off and lose it but I can't let them have access to the Key."
"Can you see anything with an octopus on it? Like the HYDRA symbol?"
She scanned around, mentally shaking her head. "Olive drab
everything. All I know is that I'm not in the US. I almost
seem to remember someone in Customs somewhere sneering that my family
was transporting me for treatment but I think I told him I didn't have a
family. I'm so confused, Clint."
"I know, Dawn. That's the whole purpose of the drugs.
There's that guy again." Dawn got hit with another drug and she
faded out. Clint laid there and thought. Something was
really wrong. Horribly wrong. And he wasn't sure which end
it was on.
Him dumping her that way would've meant he was getting a threat of some
sort. He got up to look. Nothing he could find.
The next morning he woke up to a fuzzy feeling head. He hadn't
been drinking. He tested, not Dawn. So why did he feel
high? Or drunk? He checked, nothing on him. Which was
very strange since he didn't usually sleep naked. That's when he
realized he wasn't in his room, he was in Natasha's room and she was
staring down at him. "Morning," he said. She smiled.
"When did this happen?"
"You came over last night after you found out Fury had declared Dawn a rogue," she said quietly.
"Not unless I'm sleep walking." He felt Dawn pop in and heard her
say she needed music. "What is it about you and music?" he asked
Dawn. Natasha was scowling.
"Sure as hell beats the room of doom here and sometimes I can channel
the feeling in the music," Dawn said. "Is that Natasha?" He
made an agreeing sound. "Ask her if all the mead is gone."
"Is all the mead gone?"
"Yes. We haven't had any in quite a while."
"That's a lie," he said, getting up and moving away from her. "So
who in the hell are you? Your voice is wrong and your hair is too
"You're not making sense. Were you drugged?"
"I'm not making sense?" he demanded. "Nothing makes sense."
This was like his worst nightmare added to because it involved more than
him. She scowled. "Give me my pants." She tossed them
at him. He looked. They weren't his pants that he
wore. None of the faded, slightly tight jeans. He slid into
them anyway. No, not his. He had to pull the belt too
tight. The shirt he found that had to be his by the size had
sleeves, which most of his had been taken off, and was an ungodly shade
of yellow. "Later. We'll figure this out later." He
left, going back to his own quarters. There he found his own
clothes, which was nice and he was hoping to find. Underwear
even. "Hey, Dawn?" She hummed. "Any better idea where
"I can hear a language like Russian but it's enough off that I don't understand it." She let him hear it.
"That's Urdu." He frowned. "Why would you be over there?"
"I don't know but the tingly muscle people are screwed. Whoever's
yelling at her is really mad that I'm not doing what I should."
"How are you resisting?"
"My brain's not wired the same way yours is. The Key only had
Buffy's to approximate from a distance. It created the way it
thought it should go."
"Huh. I guess that's why you jump topics so easily." He
looked around and packed a few things into a backpack. "Let's see
if we can get in on the rescuing stuff."
"Won't you have to rescue yourself first? You're in some sort of hospitally place."
"I'm in my room at HQ." She showed him what she could see.
It did not match what he was seeing. "That's not a good
thing." He concentrated, feeling the sedative feeling. He
brought himself out of his mind and this VR simulation. He pushed
the glasses away and started to move. He got about six inches
before a dart was fired into his naked side. He groaned and tried
to move anyway but it was a paralytic. He was laid back down.
"So, anyway," Dawn said. "Wanna trade?"
"Dearly." He concentrated. "Are we near each other?"
"My mind's so fuzzy, I'm not sure," she admitted. "I'm starting to
wonder if we're in an alternate reality or the Matrix, something like
that." He let out a snort. "Rest. I'll be here," she
said, mentally waving a hand. "Not like I'm doing what they
say. Especially since they've spent all morning trying to teach me
how to scale walls."
"You'd never make it," he assured her. His mind whited out and he went
blank for a while. He woke up to Nick Fury standing at the foot of
his bed in his room. "Sir," he said, moving carefully as he sat
up. "Was that our staff earlier?"
"They were trying to see if she tampered with you, Agent Barton."
"Bullshit," he said, getting glared at. "You don't pull out the VR
training gear for that." He stared at him. "For that
matter, the last time I saw Dawn she was in a hospital bed after a
"We haven't had a battle in six months."
He stared at him. "We had one not even a month ago." Fury shook his head, looking smug. "Against Thanos."
"Not that I'm aware of. Where were you during this?"
"Trying really hard to break the gems that the scary god sort was using
to power his abilities." He stared at him. "That wasn't VR
because I can still feel the stitches, sir."
"You got injured last week when you fell off a catwalk."
"I'd never fall off a catwalk."
"That's why we put you in medical and did the VR to see what she'd done to you."
"She's not done anything to me."
"Are you sure?"
"Definitely. She's the one that got me the book of exercises so no
one can take me over again." Fury snorted and walked off.
He heard the lock engage and grimaced. His room was bare, like a
cell. He concentrated. "Dawn?" He felt a fuzzy
feeling. "Dawn, fight," he said quietly.
"Am I real?" she asked.
"I'd assume you are. Why are you doubting that?"
"Because they're trying to tell me that no one remembers me."
"Bullshit," he said. "I do. I know Fury does because he just mentioned it."
"Hmm." She concentrated on her powers. "I think you're
closer. I can feel you better. And Natasha for some reason."
"Let me see." She did and he shook his head. "That's not
her. It's not her walk." She huffed. "Trust no one
you're not connected to. Your empathy will tell you, Dawn."
"Earlier I thought one was Phil until I asked about the babies."
"I know. It's hard and we'll figure it out." She
nodded. He hummed and she relaxed again. "Just fight it,
"I am. They're really dumb. I kinda wish Xander was back here again."
"Me too. He'd stomp them for me and whatever's going on
here." He heard a hiss and looked up, covering his mouth and going
into the bathroom to start some water. It was sleeping gas but it
was a heavy dosage. Maybe he could hold off being hit too
hard. Yeah, this wasn't right. He was going to start to
killing people over this soon. Dawn laughed and gave him
ideas. Now he knew what they were teaching her. He saw
something and poked at that memory until she showed it better.
That was someone who had trained Natasha. Why were they involved
in Dawn's attempted brainwashing?
Dawn concentrated and called upon Loki by formal prayer, getting an amused voice back in her head. "Loki?"
"How do you know me?" he asked.
"I know your son." She was so tired. "He would be really pissed at what I'm doing right now."
"Why would that bother my son?"
"Alexander? Your son with the Hindu river goddess?"
"No, child, that is not my son." She showed him and he frowned. "Are you in your right reality?"
"I'm not certain. That's what I'm trying to figure out. Me and a friend."
"I can read your memories of him. That is very fun." She
showed him the battle and he scowled. "I would not like that for
my son but that has not happened here." She showed him what she
knew of him. "Hmm, not the me here. Perhaps you are in the
"Then can you maybe help us get home? I never studied
interdimensional travel." He cackled. She felt and poked at
something, making him gasp in pain. "You're not Loki." She
burned that mind out. It screamed a female sounding scream.
"Huh. You wanted to be first wife," he said dryly. She felt
Clint laughing. "So was that this realm or was it whoever?"
"I think that was whoever." He let himself be grabbed a bit
closer. Dawn felt scared. He concentrated and found
why. "No, that's not a good idea." He gave her an idea and
she implemented it. Her female parts disappeared into the ether
for another few weeks. The doctor trying to probe her screamed in
frustration. He started to hum some 3 Doors Down, making her
happier. She drifted off again while he watched. They
weren't in another reality. Too many things were off in the wrong
He wasn't an expert but there would be different people in different
roles if they were. Also, Dawn felt very close. He had to
make an escape plan for them. She wasn't trained in this.
She put in that she was the magical lockpick and he patted her, telling
her to rest. They'd work on it later. They had to get
out of whatever hell this was. Right now they were all that was
standing between the mental programming, and he was sure they were
mentally trying to program him too.
Dawn reached out and found a blank spot. She nearly panicked but
she found her magic and it found Clint. It found Natasha and Phil
and Tara too. So she was near them. She sent out a shout for
help. They sedated her again.
"That EEG spike again," whoever was with her said quietly. "We have to figure that out."
"Maybe she's got some sort of mental magic," another male voice said. "Who knows."
"The other one doesn't and he's had the same spikes, right after hers start."
"She might be contacting him but we can't prove it or do anything about it." They moved the bed she was on.
Phil sat up at his desk and grabbed his weapon. He concentrated on
that feeling of Dawn. "Leak some magic," he told her. She
sent back a 'can't let them get hold of it'. "Then scratch
yourself and let the blood have it. We've been looking for your
for weeks, Dawn." He heard the alarm start and hurried out to get a
location. He and agents rushed off. Maybe they'd be in time
since it was the airport. Agent Hill was calling in a threat at
the airport so they could shut it down. He just hoped he found the
other two agents that were missing.
Dawn flinched awake at the pain to her side. She came up swinging
as she had been taught. Or she tried to, she was tied to the
bed. She stared at the sadistic looking woman. "Listen,
Bellatrix, it won't work. You can't torture me into
breaking. You can't mentally warp me into breaking. So why
don't you send me home before my mother worries about me."
"Aww, you care about your mommy. That's sweet. We'll have to
tell her that. Because if you don't do what we want, then she's
not going to need any more treatments." Dawn's growl filled the
room. "Very impressive." Dawn lashed out magically, which
woke Clint from whatever they had given him this time. The woman
beside her died with a scream.
Dawn stared at her body. "Don't threaten my mother." She got
the straps free and stood up, wobbling a bit. She searched
her. Only the pain stick. Well, she'd use it. She
walked over to the door. It looked like what movie asylums looked
like. There were guards carefully moving her way. She
cast a sleep spell and moved out, checking the rooms. She found
Clint's and walked in to unhitch him. "C'mon."
"I thought I was supposed to rescue you."
"If you're a good boy I'll say 'my hero' and collapse onto your lap," she quipped.
He grinned. "I could like that." He took the weapon and led
the way out. This was not good. "Any idea if the
others are filled?"
"They are. No one I've met," she said quietly. He nodded and
they made it to the ward door before someone else came in to see what
"Excellent, her training is showing," she said. For which Dawn magically ripped off her head.
"No, I knew that when I was fourteen thanks to my sister's
friends." He laughed and looted her then they snuck out. She
paused, he yanked on her hand. "Natasha." She took off
jogging, knocking out people on her way. She found her room and
got it open, bursting in there to knock out one of the people in
there. Clint got the other ones. "Hey," she said, untying
her. They snuck out together, killing people as they went.
"Don't tell anyone they taught me this?" she asked nicely once they were
outside. "I'd never hear the end of it."
"It's our secret," Clint said. "Though you're training with us from now on."
"Fine. It has nice side effects on my bikini collection."
"Dawn!" Natasha said. "You don't go to Miami for weeks."
Clint and Dawn stared at her. "She's already went. She's
supposed to be starting college soon." Natasha shook her head.
Dawn looked at him. "I'm starting to wonder if one of us is a figment."
"I know I'm real. I'm too good not to be." He was mentally
thanking every deity out there that it wasn't another possession sort of
reprogramming and he was himself in his own body and mind, even if
things were a bit wrong. Dawn pinched him. He pinched her
back. They pinched Natasha and she disappeared. "We'll come
back with help to get her," he said. She nodded, following
him. "Who taught you to rip off heads? And why did I ask
that?" he wondered.
She pinched him again and tightened the link between them.
"Spike. Who else." He smirked and she grinned back.
They made it to the fence then the world went white. They weren't
drugged. They realized they were in VR. Again in Clint's
case. He showed her how to get out of it. They were
apparently sedated this time.
Coulson walked into Fury's office. "We have three new bits of evidence."
"Will it get her mother to quit talking to newspapers and
Congress?" He knew he could blame that on Stark somehow, but he
couldn't prove it. Stark had said it was worried mother ESP.
Apparently Pepper had a bout of it at the same time as Joyce.
"I'm surprised others haven't joined her, sir." Fury grimaced but
nodded. He handed it over. "We missed them by twenty minutes
at the airport. They were very nice to tell us where the patient
transport went. They are moving them separately. They had
Dawn but not Romanoff or Barton."
"Anything else to note?"
"She looked thin and exhausted or critically ill."
"So they're keeping her sedated," Fury said.
"Which means they're probably trying to program her." Fury
winced. "I did tell Joyce that we had spotted her but have missed
her. I did tell our South American counterpart so they could find
out where she went from the airport."
"Half of them are dirty to someone."
"I know, sir. Still, it can only help." He left, going to
consider things. Maybe he should go out hunting them. Tara
could handle some things on her own. It had only been two weeks
since Dawn had woken up. To the three in programming they could
make it seem like months had passed. They needed to get to them
before they were ruined, killed, or turned against them. Even
having one of them would help find the others. He got things
together and sent up the form, telling Fury he was going to visit their
South American counterparts. Fury sent back a denied, they were
all under investigation. Phil went back up there. "Sir, one
of us needs to go down there and at least Dawn will trust me
"I called. They said they moved her. The Council over us said that they're all suspect in other matters."
"She could still be down there." He handed over the camera
footage. "So that was a diversion?" Fury nodded. "Any
idea where they are then? I can head out immediately."
"I think you have more pressing concerns."
"Tara said if I had to go find them, then I should immediately and she
could borrow Agent Hill for lamaze classes if she had to." He
stared at him. "Are you feeling all right?"
"Yes and don't even think about turning me in for a medical exam so you
can go anyway," he said dryly. He had put a stop to that problem
after his third time in the infirmary being poked because a senior agent
didn't like his decisions. "Find out where they went then
go." He nodded, going back to his office to do that. This
problem was why he wanted single agents with few attachments to others
in SHIELD. Attachments were a dangerous thing that changed your
Clint woke up and looked around the plane he was on. He saw Stark. "Prove you're you."
"Callia won't dress up until Dawn comes home," he said, handing him a
bottle of water. "She made us buy shoes that look like her aunt's
and she won't wear them until her aunt can see."
"How long have we been missing?"
"Six damn weeks, Barton." He stared at him. "Joyce has
called down the wrath of the press and Congress on Fury's head."
"No clue," he said more quietly. "If I could, I'd go find
them. Coulson couldn't manage to get away before an attack
"Is he all right?"
"Fine. Shot through the shoulder. Tara nearly healed it by
taking it into herself but he stopped her. They were trapped in an
elevator, where he was moving her out of harm's way. She was
crying hard by the time they got free and he was trying to calm her down
but it didn't work."
Clint nodded, tasting the water to make sure it wasn't drugged. He
glanced outside, noticing the small things. There were black
spots randomly in the clouds, and it wasn't a night sky. Cheap
projection and film. "We're not on a plane, and you're not
Stark." He moved before Tony could attack him. Clint kicked
his ass and got out of the plane. There were guards with
guns. "What? You think I'm going to play along?"
"If you don't, the young women die."
He stared at the speaker. "I could've sworn I killed you."
The man looked smug. "Well, no time like the present." He
attacked. The man shot him in the leg but Clint Barton was a bit
used to pain. The next one took out his knee and that was harder
to fight without. The man smirked as he went down and passed out.
So much for an escape attempt and rescue.
Dawn heard Clint fall and concentrated. "You're not injured."
"Bull," he said.
"You're not." She showed him. He groaned. They were both knocked out.
Clint woke up and checked his body. No injuries. "I really
hate it when people screw with my head." He checked, Dawn was
still out. He was able to get up and prowl around his cell.
This time, the things seemed more solid so maybe he was out of whatever
they were doing. He could hear familiar snoring up the hall so she
was very close. He managed to get the door open and checked the
hall then moved up it quietly. He found four rooms. One
empty. One with a familiar redhead. One with a familiar brunette,
who snored. Funny how that never bothered him when she was napping
on top of him. He nudged Natasha, getting her awake. "We
are not supposed to be here."
"Where are we?"
"No clue. Dawn's up the hall." She nodded and slipped out of
bed, finding slippers to go with the simple t-shirts and plain light
blue pajama pants. They got Dawn, who was glowing in a bad
way. They snuck out once Dawn woke up, and told them she had been
knocking people out so she could try to get them free. They found
out she had put everyone in the compound under the sleep spell but the
guard dogs, who she cooed at. They became friends. Natasha
shook her head but she had seen that spell at work in the park when
something had tried to bite Dawn. They made it to the village,
which shocked them a lot. "Romania?" Clint asked. "Why
"Hard for people to spot us?" Dawn suggested. "Should we call?"
"No," the two spies said. "Not until we're sure this is real."
Dawn scratched her wrist. "The alarm?"
"No, that should've found you for glowing," Natasha said.
"I wasn't broadcasting, just glowing." They moved through the
town. Dawn scanned and found them an empty building to squat in
and put up protections. Then they sat down to figure out what they
had between them. The dog was handy, it was guarding the
doors. They had no money, no food, no weapons, barely any clothes -
and they would not pass more than casual muster - and nothing they
could count on. Dawn considered it. "What if we just talk to
Clint considered it. "She'll tell Coulson."
"Who's always been on our side," Dawn said. "It's either that or I have to find a talent or pickpocket."
He looked at her. "You can if you want. Desperate times and all that."
Dawn considered it then sighed. "There's an emergency fund in my
name in a bank in LA. The only one who knows about it are Phil and
Tony." They stared at her. "Phil got really pissed off when
someone stole me and I broke them really hard. I made them pay me
to send me home I broke them so hard. And exposed the magic stuff
but I broke them really hard."
"I did not hear of that," Natasha said.
"No, you were probably told I was off with my sister for the weekend or
that I had snuck out of the house. There were two times but the
other one just begged to hand me back. Made Tony cackle like hell
when they gave me to Rhodey and told him that." She wrote down the
bank's name and the account name it was under - hers with her mother's
maiden name. "I don't remember the account number but I do have it
under a web login."
"We may be able to work with that," Clint said. "Do you need anything?"
"Beyond to look presentable? No. Jeans, t-shirt, bra,
underwear, shoes." He smiled. "Weapons." She
concentrated. "Too far away to summon." She sighed.
Then rubbed her forehead. "If I ever find these fuckers I'm
killing them." He nodded. Natasha nodded. She looked
out the nearby window when she heard voices. "And we have military
dressed guys." She whistled and the dog ran up the stairs.
She grabbed the dog, grabbed them, and disappeared. The paper
burned since it wasn't in her radius.
They landed in a back alley of LA. "This is good," Clint
said. They wandered off. Dawn nodded and showed them where
they were going. "No one you know."
"Spike? You can't coerce a vampire."
"That's a single threat?" Natasha asked.
"Usually. Unless he has Dru over." She shrugged. "At
the very least we can get clothes. He has stuff of hers
stored. He'll gladly give me a sit rep. He won't try to kill
me." Dawn broke something and turned to stake the vampire
sneaking up on them. "Deal?"
"Deal," they decided after looking at each other. She got them there through the back streets.
She pounded then walked in. "It's the party police," she called. "Open up."
Spike flung open the door at the top of the stairs. "Bit?" he demanded. "You've been missing now for over a month."
"Really? That short of a time?" He nodded. She hugged
him. "Any company and do not call anyone. Yet." He
nodded, letting them inside. "These are Natasha and Clint."
"Know her," he said with a nod for her. "Shower?" he suggested with a point.
"Please. We're breaking our path in case whoever had us finds us."
"Sure," he agreed. He looked at Dawn. "You went missing
right after the battle." She sighed in relief. "You look
"Long, strange nightmares," she said dryly. "What time is it?"
"Ten 'til five." She grimaced. "You guys can shack up in the
spare room here. That way I don't have to tell your mum you're
"We're not safe yet," Dawn said. Spike grimaced. "It might take a few weeks before we're safe."
"Got it. Go shower and change. Dru's stuff is in the closet,
so's your sister's gear from her last stop over." They nodded,
heading to do that. Clint borrowed something from Spike to put
on. Spike sat down to consider this. Dawn was moving wrong.
Clint looked at her since the vampire was staring. "Remove the
spell?" She undid it. She checked herself and handed
over the tagging marker that had been on her thigh. She was
bleeding a bit but suppressed it. That way no alarms would start
at SHIELD. Finally clean they scrounged the kitchen. Dawn
didn't fit in Buffy's clothes without it looking pornographic but Faith
had left something. Natasha could wear Buffy's clothes. They
settled in to eat and make better plans in the back room. They
knew Spike could hear but half of it was done mentally and half in code.
Stark looked up as something started to go off on his security
system. "Yes!" he shouted. Callia jumped and squeaked.
"Your Aunt Dawn is back!" He called Coulson. "Found
her. She's in LA at the moment. Our blood sensor works
differently than yours." He hung up. He called Pepper, who
went to voicemail. Great! He and Callia got back into some
happier weapons building.
Phil relaxed, looking at his dinner companion. "LA," he said quietly.
"Spike." She called. "It's me. I need to chat about
the babies." She smiled. "Yes, them Spike." Spike
handed the phone over. "The babies are kicking hard." Dawn
gave back the code phrase and handed the phone to Natasha because she
was having a vision. "Visions?" she asked. She smiled.
"We've been looking for the perfect things but can't decide. Want
to be a decision breaker? Here, let Phil tell you...
really?" She considered it. "No, he wasn't." Clint
said something. "I'm sure he's not. You know that. I
realize that, but..." She sighed. "Please?
Thanks." She handed over the phone.
He took it. "Did you want to hear about her idea for the cribs or
the decorating?" He heard the quiet complaint. "No, it's
not. You're very right it's not. No, she wants sea
animals." He grinned at her. Barton had remembered that code
from a long past mission. "He thinks that'd be cute." He
listened. "That's a good idea. Hit somewhere on the neutral
paint palette? Even better. I can do that. Yes, that
rent thing got figured out. Thanks." He hung up. "He
likes the idea of fishes."
She smiled. "They are brightly colored." He smiled
back. They went back to eating and making plans. "We should
talk to Joyce about if she wants to help paint."
"I'll talk to her later. You have meditation tonight." She
nodded she remembered. They finished up and went their separate
ways. Phil had visited Joyce once a week so it didn't look
weird. He smiled when he found Steve in there. "Captain
He looked at him then around, reaching up to turn off the cameras. "You look happy, have they been found?"
"Slightly." Steve grimaced. "There's other stuff going on that's beyond my classification rating."
"I get that." He smiled. "Thank you."
"Not a problem." He smiled at Joyce. "They're safe for
now." She relaxed. He patted her hand. "Tara wanted
your opinion on fish for the nursery."
"I think they'd be adorable. They make fake fish tanks too."
"That might be cute." He smiled. "The babies are doing fine. You can relax."
"How soon before I can pet the babies?"
"I have no idea," he admitted quietly. She nodded. "They're fine so far."
"Okay." She squeezed his hand. "You make sure my daughter
gets home all right. Tara is as close as I'm coming while my
youngest is away and Buffy's off being the slayer."
"I can do that." He smiled and left the two to talk. Joyce
would've made one hell of a therapist if she had chosen to.
Captain Rogers was in good, fussy hands for whatever he needed to talk
about. He went back to HQ to check on Tara, finding her in the
infirmary. "What happened?"
"I tripped and the guard got really panicky," she said. "I'm fine
but you know how some people worry about pregnant women."
The guard looked in. "No, ma'am, I worried because Agent Coulson
will rip out my liver." He disappeared since the senior agent had
it well in hand now. He had seen some speculative looks in Tara's
direction and he was not having another person disappear from their
Phil looked at the nurse. "Any reason to keep her? We're going to look at my place to talk about the nursery."
"No, Agent Coulson. You have a good night."
"I will." He gathered her to her room, where she packed things,
and he went to gather some laundry that needed to be done. They
left together. The sign-in guard gave him a look. "Laundry."
"I can understand that. The machines here are always full. Night, Miss Maclay."
"You too, John." She signed out. He signed out and they
left. She looked at him once they were in the car. He ran
the bug detector over it, tossing them out. She grimaced. "Why?"
"At home," he said. "We can do laundry there." She smiled
and nodded. She would even be nice enough to do his. He
drove them there and it was nice. Calming. Once they got
there, and she had indeed started some laundry while he checked for more
cameras, listening devices, or other strange materials, he sat down on
the couch. "There was a push from the people above Fury who want
to loan out the Avengers," he said. "They're trying to make their
own team. We don't like it. Fury hates it, but he's over a
"Then why Dawn?"
"Because of the battle. She's not on the rolls. I'm fairly
certain that Barton got taken to corral her. Anyone with a lick of
sense would realize that Natasha had been training her. So now
they're working on that together. We had hints of possible mental
conditioning and other issues." She slumped. "So we'll have
to see. I don't think they'd be programmed to attack the group but
I want you safe."
"I can be safe."
"I know you can." He hugged her. "You and the babies can
have the spare rooms. You know I'm on base half the time."
She smiled and nodded. "Let's get you set up." She got up
with some help and followed him into the bedroom. It was spacious
and she adored the paint colors he had nothing to do with. They
were like that when he moved in.
Dawn came back from threatening the bank manager, who had been a
demon. Clint looked at her. She shrugged. "That's why
we went there. They're not really on the national grid that
way." He nodded. She handed over the Visa card.
"Traceable," he noted.
"Cash can be stolen. If this is, it's insured. Also, not in
my actual name and it's a gift card so who's going to find it?"
"Fine," he agreed. "We can work with that. How much?"
"Just over twelve thousand."
He nodded, driving them off in the rented car. He had rented it
from one of Spike's neighbors for a few hours. After checking for
any fresh bodies in it because Dawn had said that sort of demon was a
flesh eater. "Did you have any plans we should take into account?"
"Two. One I need to check the nanny cam I have in my place." He glanced at her. "Not on the Stark system."
"That's helpful," he agreed. "Why?"
"Because I felt someone in there but I'm not sure who."
"Coulson said your rent was taken care of."
"That's great, then who's been in there?"
"Good point. Could've been robbed I guess."
"Or they could've been sneaky and put stuff we could use in there.
I can pop back tonight to grab it." He nodded. "The other
one I'm thinking about is where are we staying?"
"Not in LA. It's big but there's too many tracking methods
here. We need somewhere more rural and close to a border."
"And cheaper," Dawn said. "So the money goes farther until one of us has to get a job."
"That too," he agreed. "Do you have any fake ID's?"
"I have an ID in this one and my social security number on the Stark
system is wrong." He glanced at her again. "Tony had them
give me a fake one for a bit because of a threat."
"We'll go with totally clean ones. 'Tasha and I can do that." She nodded. "Got an area you like more?"
"Depends, do you want north or south?"
"The northern border is usually less watched because there's fewer illegals," he said.
"That means Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin,
Michigan, New York, Vermont, the tip of New Hampshire, and Maine if I
remember right from Geography class in tenth grade."
He nodded. "A bit of Ohio," he agreed. "The great lake is
the boundary." He considered it. "Low rent. Montana
has agents watching for militias but not people like us."
"Washington's expensive and I cannot respect a state that elected a
wrestler for governor so Minnesota's out for me. North Dakota?"
"That's near Winnipeg," he said. "The North East states are all
really expensive so that might be the best bet." He looked at
her. "How are you checking that camera?"
"From my phone." She smiled and summoned it. "I left one at
the office in case I lost the other one." He took it to disable a
few features. "I have the enhanced GPS disabled already."
"Good." He handed it back. He parked and they got out,
heading inside. "North Dakota," he said in Natasha's ear, getting a nod.
Dawn sat on the couch beside Spike, logging into the camera. She
stared. "Yeah, someone was there. Your weapons are on the
table, guys." They took it to look over. She looked at
Spike, who shrugged but grinned. "Mom?"
"She's fine, getting out soon they say." Dawn relaxed and hugged him. "Your sister's still barmy."
"Well, yeah, but I expect Mom took drugs back in her hippie days."
Spike snickered. Natasha was shaking her head. "I figure
there's a reason Elizabeth got turned into Buffy."
"Used to be a song," Clint admitted. "That is my official bow and
quiver. Plus extra arrows." He looked at her. "Can we
port back later?"
"We can and I can quick pack if I have to."
"No, we can take what we need."
"I'll let Mom move into my place so she doesn't have to rent somewhere else."
"That's not a bad thing. Tonight's just a grab and get back."
"Find me a picture of somewhere," she said. They nodded, looking
up real estate listings. She relaxed against Spike's side.
"Thanks," she said quietly.
"Swore on my health that I'd protect you or else big brother and sister would stake me."
"Any luck on getting Xander back to corporeal?"
"Not yet. He's been seen as a shade a few times. Checked on
your Ma and the like." She nodded. He patted her on the
head. "You'll be fine soon and go back to being a mundane."
She snorted. "Yeah, because being Iron Man's assistant is so mundane?" she quipped.
"Good point." He saw her shake her head quickly, frowning at Barton.
"They were trying to program her. Flashes, Dawn?" She
nodded, rubbing her head. "We'll handle it. We know how to
break those down." She nodded again. "Rest. It'll be a
few hours. Dunseith," he said. "Looks like it's closest to
where we'd like to be, including a lot of forest areas to get lost in."
She nodded. "There are." They looked up real estate
listings. There weren't many listed online but they did find a
nice town closer to the state park area in Rolla. That would
work. Natasha checked the camera when an alert started to
flash. They smiled at the sight of Coulson carrying in a few
groceries. They got put in plain sight too then he left, locking
the door behind himself. They could handle this.
Dawn looked around the rental and nodded. "We can do this," she said with a smile.
"With the three of you and one bedroom?"
Dawn grinned. "We're taking a break from college, ma'am, and he
can sleep up there." She pointed up at the small loft area.
"He likes way up high spots like some kitty cats." The woman
smiled. They settled in to discuss terms. Dawn's story about
them being college students who needed a semester off stuck and it was
good. Rent was fairly cheap here and the landlady had a few ideas
of places that had part-time jobs open.
She explained it as Clint had grown up a few hours away and he really
liked to hike in the forests so they had moved this way for their
break. She let Dawn get away with anything she was curious about
and it was better. They exchanged money orders and keys.
Dawn had prepaid the rent for two months. The others came out from
the town, where they were getting burgers.
Clint looked around. "It looks like a converted barn."
"It has heat, it has a working bathroom, a bedroom and a loft area for
your days when you want to perch," Dawn said. "It came
furnished. It's just under five hundred plus electric."
"That's good," he decided. It had been a while since he had rented
an apartment. Natasha either. They took a fast trip back to
Dawn's old apartment to gather their weapons, clothes, and the food
that was left in the pantry and fridge. Then they went back to
settle in. Natasha got the electric turned on in her assumed
name. Clint got them an antenna and receiver box for the tv that
was in there. Then got to take it back because they had
cable. They settled in. Clint made a nest up in the loft
area. He strung a rope up to it.
Dawn looked at him. "You guys have fun with that."
"Why can't you climb a rope?" he asked. She got up to try.
He stared. "You have better upper arm strength than that, Dawn."
"I know." She shrugged. "It's pretty futile. No one's
been able to figure it out. I try really hard but it's not
"Fine. We'll figure things out." He moved to touch her and
saw her have another flash. "What are you seeing?" he asked
quietly. "We can help break it."
She shook her head, backing away when the same flash of an arrow sinking
into her eye happened. "I don't know what they did."
"Apparently they linked it to me," he said dryly. "So what are you seeing?"
"I can't. Let me process and meditate."
"Don't fracture them. You have to unplug them, disprove them," he
told her. She nodded, settling in on the old couch to try to do
that. Clint checked his weapons and Dawn's weapons. Natasha
got hers. They shared a look. He went to make dinner and it
was nice enough. They all looked like ten kinds of hell.
They were all missing critical weight and Dawn looked like she had been
near death's door thanks to the time in the hospital before being
captured or handed over. Natasha hid the weapons when they heard
someone driving up the driveway, leaving out an older bow for
Clint. He answered the door. "Yes, sir?"
"I'm the landlord, son. I heard my wife rented to three college kids." That guy didn't look eighteen by any means.
He smiled. "Late start after a bit of military service.
These are my two friends, Dawn, on the couch, and 'Tasha. Before
you can ask, I'm sleeping in the loft area."
He looked up then at the young man. "Better you than me, son. I'd be afraid of falling out."
He smiled. "I like higher spots."
"That's fine. I came out to turn on the gas." He went out
back to do that. They were settling in and the girls looked like
they were really tired. He came back. "She didn't say more
than that Dawn girl looked a bit ill."
"There was an ...incident on campus and it left her with a bit of PTSD,"
Clint said quietly. The college story was a good one he could
build on. "She's been having a time of it and we needed a break so
I brought her somewhere with clean air and plenty of things to do in
"That's not a bad idea. You going to be able to keep paying the rent?"
"We can and we're going to be looking at part time jobs later this
week. After I feed them up a bit." The older man
smiled. "Dawn's like my sister."
"That's good then." He clapped him on the arm. "Pretty girls
should have a protective brother sort." He left them alone.
He liked that young one. His wife thought Dawn was sweet and
smart. That other one looked like she could wreck a man but they'd
have to see how she turned out. She was probably that boy's
girlfriend. It was the new millennium. No one was going to
say much outside the church. The town's pastor was too busy with
calving his cows to worry about two girls and a guy living together.
That night, Clint tried to reconnect to Dawn's mind. He couldn't
because she had it strangled off. He tapped at it until he got her
sleepy notice. She opened it some. "You sure you're all
right down there?" he asked mentally.
"Yeah, I'm good."
"Why don't you show me what you're seeing? That way I can figure out how to break it."
"I...." He mentally stroked a hand over her hair and he saw
it. He sat up and looked down there. "That's reserved for
the truly disgusting and problematic in this world, Dawn. Not
you. Even if you went evil it wouldn't happen."
"Even though I realize that I still see that flash."
"I'll help. You know that. You want to come up?" She snorted. "I can help you up here."
"No, I'm good. Thanks." She snuggled in on the couch. That back bedroom was chilly.
He laid down and made himself relax. He looked at Natasha, shaking
his head. He mouthed what she had seen, getting a shudder.
They had to break that. Dawn had to be able to rely on them and
them on her. Or else they'd be recaptured.
Clint let Dawn ghost around the house the next day, watching her take a
shower and then head out back. He watched her look over the
attempted garden someone had started. That wasn't growing anything
now. But she let go some magic to encourage it. Not enough
to be noted but enough. He watched her look around the
house. She had done a good job. There wasn't another house
for a mile in one direction, five in another, and ten front or
back. There were woods and a small, deepish stream.
She brought in some wood for the fireplace/stove thing that was
installed in the old fireplace. Then went out to bring in some
more. "It's not going to get that cold anytime soon," he said
quietly, making her flinch. He got up and stopped her. She
flinched as soon as he touched her. "Let me guess, they linked it
to us?" She shrugged. "Open up the link again, show me,
"You can. You're resisting and trying to handle it. No one
can handle this on their own without coming out totally messed up.
Not even us." She opened it enough. He slowly touched her
arm. She sucked in a breath but he barely got an impression of
what she was seeing. He concentrated and forced the link wide
open, making her gasp and go limp. "We need get to Nat
connected." He laid a hand on her cheek and she flinched. He
could see why. "No, it'd never happen," he said quietly.
"They were messing with your head big time, Short Stuff."
"I know. I'm trying to get it to go away."
He looked at one of the little flashes of a scene and pointed.
"Disconnect it. If you break it, it fractures and stays."
She tried that. He helped. It shut off. She quit
flinching until he pulled her closer. Then another one
started. They really did a number on her. "How do we link in
"She must have better shields than I do."
She nodded. "Yours have personal exemption holes."
"Huh. 'Tasha?" She came in from the front yard. "Think
you can drop the shields so you can be linked in too? She could
use it. They linked a lot of it to us in an apocalyptic manner."
Natasha came over, concentrating on the mental exercises she had been
taught to resist torture. "Dawn?" Dawn looked up.
"Send me something." Dawn clutched her hand and opened herself,
connecting them. Natasha found it and planted it firmly inside her
shields. They went back up, which made her feel better. She
concentrated on what Dawn was fighting and snapped the link. "Cut
them, not pull. It hurts when you pull." She could see why
Clint was worried. Any touch from him brought up more and more
horrible visions of how he was going to attack or kill her. She
looked at him. "That means they were going to use you as training
until she killed you."
"I figured I was. I'm too much leverage." She flinched away. "Hey."
"They told me you told me we were too close because people were coming
for you." She rubbed her forehead, cutting the link again.
She walked out back.
"No, I'm not going to do that," Clint said dryly. "No matter what
orders I get." He looked at his coworker, who followed. This
was out of his depth. He'd never been hit this badly. She
had. He sat down to turn on some mindless noise. He found a
station that played radio over the tv and picked the hard rock
station. He and Dawn varied on which generation they liked but
they could stand each other's music. Dawn seemed to calm down
around music because it let her concentrate on something else.
Dawn came in and went to the bathroom, going to take a shower.
Natasha came in shaking her head. "Any signs of easing?" he asked
"No. Not yet. They had her in some pretty strong training."
"I know I got put into VR a few times."
"I think I was as well." She looked at the tv then at him, getting
a shrug back. They settled in to read the library books they had
found while Dawn was renting the house.
Clint found a job that only required him to be strong. That helped
his cover and it paid well enough. Dawn found one at the local
gym teaching aerobics and other classes. Including a new one for
seniors doing yoga and one on 'commando exercises'. He had no idea
what that meant so he had Natasha log into the gym on their day
off. They laughed at her 'going to save the kids from the PBS
crime syndicate' mission but they were working hard.
Running, jumping, and a few fighting moves now and then. Natasha
could not find anything and Dawn stopped her the night she thought about
going to the local strip club. She walked in and picked her up,
carrying her out to the car they had picked up cheaply. Dawn
pointed out one that was for an administrative assistant for the guy who
ran the local fast food places and the motel. That worked for
Dawn's boss knew about the PTSD story. Dawn was conveniently
covering up a spot that kept getting her shined at and making her
flash. They had no idea where the shiny spot came from but it
helped the others concentrate too. They were there for three
months before Dawn started to make real progress on the problems she was
having. She was also exhausted.
Clint kept trying to get her to climb up the rope but Dawn was failing
miserably, for all that she spent all day working out and had time on
the machines for free each night. He ended up moving the rope to
the end of the couch and helping her up the extra two feet she couldn't
jump. That let them all curl up together. Dawn tried to
flinch away so Natasha held her while Clint guarded them. It
helped some and Dawn finally got some sleep. They all needed the
Dawn came home from work the next day and headed for the stream out
back. The other two watched her go. "Dinner?" Natasha
"Not hungry. Ate in town." She came back and handed over her
check. "Don't put it in the couch, it still has that portal to
who knows where." She went back out there. She needed to
soak and sulk.
Clint put it in the usual spot under the tv and they ate. Dawn
needed some privacy. Even if she felt miserable and like she was
screwing things up. They went out after her when it was turning
dark. They found her skinny dipping and slid into the stream
behind her. It was fairly deep in this part, nearly four
feet. Dawn was floating against the bank, holding onto it.
He slid up next to her, moving some of her hair. He saw her have
another flashback and pulled her up before she drowned. "We have
got to help you with that. All you have to do is let us."
"I've gotten a few."
"Yeah, but clearly not enough if you're still flinching."
"I'm getting urges."
"I know." He let her rest. "Open it again."
"I can't open the link. It's going to end up spewing hateful crap because that's all I hear right now."
"We already knew you swore a lot," Natasha said. Those two had the
tighter link from where they had helped each other but she could sneak
in. What she saw was nearly horrifying. "We've got to weed
it out at the source," she told the younger woman. Who was
slumping against the bank.
Loki appeared, looking unamused. "I felt a being of chaos call
me," he said, staring at Natasha. He had noticed and enjoyed the
reach for various hidden weapons they weren't presently wearing.
"I'm not a being of chaos."
"The men you've screwed in the head would disagree, chit." He
looked at Dawn. "My son would beat me to death," he muttered to
calm them down. He squatted down behind her, nodding at them to
hold her while he touched her temples. He winced at what he saw
until she could flinch away. "They did a marvelous job." He
stared at her. "There's almost nothing easy. Except Lethe
water." Dawn blinked at him. "As you know, that's
"I remember Willow screwing with Lethe's Brambles."
"Indeed, only this is from the source." He stared at her.
"It may be too deep even for that. Whatever they used left you
with a lot of ideas, Dawn."
"Why are you so helpful?" Clint asked.
Loki smirked. "Do you think I want to face my son when he gets back?"
"No," he said. He was pretty sure wherever Alexander was hanging
out, he was really pissed off about them doing this to Dawn with how
overprotective he was of her.
"Then you're a smarter man than I expected." Dawn was
scowling. "They linked it into your hormones," he told her.
"That's why each time you feel needy you start getting homicidal
images." Clint slumped and kicked the bank of the stream.
"It's also why you flinch. They used more than the standard
"Gunn had something used on him that downloaded a whole lot of legal
information and assassination information," she said. "Something
like what Wolfram and Hart used on him?"
He searched that way then nodded. "It looks the same. He's still having flashes."
"Would the Lethe water stop it?" Dawn asked. "Or just mute it to
an unconscious urge? Because I don't think I could take being
homicidal and not knowing why each time I wanted a hug."
"It would erase the images," he said. "For the most part.
You can only use so much on any one being or they start to forget
everything." She nodded.
"You can take out the worst in the first few doses," Natasha said.
"I can. No one deserves some of those memories. Not even I'm
that evil. Usually." He stood up and disappeared, coming
back a few minutes later with a small vial. "You'll try to resist
so let them hold you." She nodded, letting Clint hold her
still. "Tongue out." She did and he sat on the bank,
dripping a drop and whispering a word in her ear. She shivered but
the memory faded. It was good it worked on her. He erased
the worst of the offenses they had used. He kept count. On
the thirteenth dose he capped the bottle. "I can do no more
without causing you harm. Which would also likely get me killed by
Dawn relaxed and hugged him. "Thank you."
"Is there anything for the rest beyond the usual breaking?" Natasha asked.
"Mnemosyne might have something," Loki admitted. "We don't have a Goddess of Memories." He shrugged and disappeared.
Dawn blinked, rubbing her eyes. "I'm tired," she said quietly.
"It's a good reason," Clint agreed. Dawn was resting in the water
again. It was good for her and they'd make sure she didn't drown
if she fell asleep.
A young looking goddess appeared with Hera. "I think it odd when
someone like Loki asks me to look at someone," she said. "Though
I'd be scared of what Alexander would do to him if his claimed daughter
was hurt too." Natasha nodded. That made more sense to
her. Dawn was like Loki's acknowledged granddaughter. No
wonder he had helped. "No one ever said Loki was dumb, just
slightly warped." She laid a hand on Clint's head, frowning.
"Whoever did that needs to be shot."
"I have ideas about that," Dawn admitted, waving a hand. Hera looked at her brain and she winced. "Ow," she moaned.
Hera looked at her. "The battle caused a bruised spot in your
brain, child. The power you shot at the being did it." Dawn
nodded. "The memories are trying to cling to that."
"Can they go away?" she begged. "Please, Lady Hera?"
"We can do something."
"Loki used Lethe water," Natasha said.
Hera nodded. "He was nicer than I'd expect." She read the
imprints that the memories had left and nearly threw a fit.
Mnemosyne walked over to help her. "She's had enough."
"More than." She moved it and locked the memories up. She
moved to Clint and did the same. "They may still break out some
day. If so, then you can try the curing waters," she said.
"Dawn has had enough for her year." She looked at her. "The
bruise may not heal."
"Will it hurt her in other ways?" he asked.
"No. It causes no difficulties or anything. Some of the
memories are stuck to it. It shows her how they trained her to
kill. How to be a special type of assassin." She patted him
on the shoulder. "She will heal with time. If she reacts to
the memories is up to her. She's been trying to be strong."
"She's flinched so much at any touch I'm not shocked," he said.
She showed him something and he moved to get sick. "That's bad."
"That's very bad and one of the worst Loki removed." She stood
up. He looked at her. "She'll be fine. She may have
urges. She may turn that way if she must fight again. Like
the other one mentioned with that damnable device, she has all sorts of
knowledge no one needs. If she thinks of the wind, her mind will
automatically calculate distance and trajectory. Chemicals will
automatically bring up poisons and other things." He nodded.
"She can fight using it. Or she may not fight using it. The
same as you two haven't always fought that knowledge."
"She's barely trained," he told her.
She nodded. "More than you think. Not everyone has the
special skills beaten into them. Nor will she ever be the sort to
scale a castle parapet to save the damsel. She might climb *down*
but not up." She smiled. "That is up to her. You
should probably make sure she's totally safe but otherwise there is
nothing more we can do with that bruise."
"Thank you," Natasha said. "She would say the same."
"We adore Alexander," Mnemosyne said with a smile. "If only
because he's the only person that can stand between Odin and Zeus and
tell them both to shut up before he curses them on purpose next time the
chaos urge hits him." She disappeared.
"Alexander is very strong," Hera agreed. "Personally, I would
leave it be. If she shows signs of breaking into it then train it
so she can control it. Otherwise it's a definite that it will come
out." They nodded. "Also, nag her to eat if you must."
"We've been making her eat most nights," Clint said. "She won't sleep."
"She keeps getting very bad nightmares of what she saw," Hera
agreed. "Find a way to take her mind off it." She looked at
the younger woman then at them. "I would love to have one such as
Dawn as my handmaiden but I know that she's not meant to be a wife and
mother. Tara either." She disappeared.
Clint and Natasha looked at each other. "Bedroom?"
"We could," she agreed. They got out and took a napping Dawn with
them. They checked but that bedroom was freezing so they took Dawn
up with them. "You left the oven on again."
"It's warmer and not that expensive," he said. He held Dawn,
making sure she couldn't get up without him knowing. Natasha took
Dawn's other side. They would realize when she got up with the
next nightmare. Then they'd help her through it. Even if
they did have to live in her mind with her for a bit. It kept her
from flinching whenever they got in touch range.
Dawn looked up from her yoga for seniors class a few weeks after being
healed to stare at the man in the doorway. "Ladies, how about we
cool down?" she called. They smiled. "Okay, those who can,
go up to the foot-on-knee and hands clasped pose. The rest do what
you can. And hold, hold, hold, hold," she said calmly, moving to
help one woman who was starting to wobble. "Do it as you can," she
"Okay and foot down, stretch up, then out at the waist then down to the
floor." She did it with them. "Now up and move to make sure
you're all settled." They did and she smiled. "Have a good
day and for those that are trying to meditate don't forget to work on
your journal entries so you have a bit of a guide to what you're looking
at." She smiled and helped a few out to the senior living
complex's shuttle bus. She came back and checked her room.
"I use descriptions. Some of the yoga pose names are odd and made
them giggle and blush."
Doctor Bruce Banner smiled. "I've seen them in the past. Are you on break?"
"I can be. Usually I'd be getting ready for my hour of running, jumping, and playing class then I'd have lunch."
"I can wait." He smiled. "The burger place?"
"I can do that. Thanks, Doc."
"Welcome." He walked out, going to look around. He spotted
Natasha but she was reading something with a scowl so he moved on.
He spotted Clint, who nearly dropped some lumber on his foot. He
shook his head slightly and moved on. The burger place was
nice. Looked very clean. He smiled. "I'm meeting a
"That's good." Dawn came in. "Oh, are you one of her teachers?"
"I am. Physics." He smiled, buying her lunch too. They
sat down in the corner, Dawn glancing around. "They are working
on it," he said quietly and calmly. "They have no idea."
"How did you find me?" she asked.
"Someone was doing a news report on your gym classes." She
winced. "They didn't catch more than your voice but JARVIS caught
it." He put some ketchup on his fries and ate some.
"Eat. You're too thin and your niece is going to scream at you."
"I am." She dug in. "I've been trying to put it back on."
"Looks like you could use some sleep too." Clint walked in with
Natasha, making him smile. "My other physics students."
Clint got lunch and sat down. "How?"
"Remember me ducking out when the news crew was there?" Dawn asked quietly. Clint nodded. "Then."
"You weren't captured."
"JARVIS heard her in the background and told us." Natasha sat down. "You look tired too."
"We all are," she admitted.
"Sorry," Dawn mumbled.
"It is not your fault. You don't kick all night." Dawn grinned at her. "How are things?"
"Messy. Very messy." They nodded. He pulled something
out of his pocket and handed them over. "Tony said you might like
those." Clint looked at the arrow tips. "From that dragon
"The cold ones?"
"Yes. He's working on the other side. It doesn't want to
compact tightly enough. It'd be the size of an earbud." He
handed them over. "In case they need to call desperately, or you
do. They only go to JARVIS and he is not to search for where they
are." They nodded. He handed Dawn something, earning a
grin. "From your niece."
She looked at the card, sniffling. "Thank you." She tucked it into her shirt pocket. "I miss the little imp."
Bruce smiled. "I'm still trying to figure out why Callia likes the other guy."
"I don't know," Dawn said. "All I know is that you tried to scare
her and she laughed so he seems to like her for that." They stared
at her. "There was an attempted lab assault at the secondary
lab," she said. They nodded. "I had Callia there because we
were getting threatening phone calls at the main building. They
came in, Bruce did his thing. Callia squealed and laughed.
He gave her the strangest look and yelled. Callia managed to get
free, even though I had a great grip on her, and toddled over to him,
telling him to do it again. He froze and looked very confused but
didn't try to scare her." They smiled. "Since then, he
always checks to make sure she's not around before attacking."
"He does," Bruce agreed, eating another fry. "We need somewhere
this good near the campus." He dug in. "She calms him down
faster than anything too." They smiled. "So, anyway."
He looked at Clint. "You have a single use email," he said
quietly. "On the Stark servers with things waiting on you."
"I can do that later." Dawn slid over her phone.
"Thanks." He got into it. She had a log-in for the Stark
Servers and he could find his email address. Stark was a bit
predictable in how he picked on people.
Dawn looked at him. "Any idea who?"
"I think that's in there. I know they cut contracts with six
different people recently over various bouts of being an asshole as he
put it. Callia, in all her brilliance, looked at her father while
he was ranting and pacing and asked if he was going to go Grr Guy
instead of Scary Daddy." Dawn snickered. "He paused and said
no, but if he found out the root cause they could go play
together." He ate his burger, nodding. "I definitely need
somewhere this good near the office."
Clint read over the details they had, handing it to Natasha. Dawn
looked at him. "It was what we thought. You weren't one of
us so they thought you were freer game."
"Screw them," she said quietly, glancing around. "Because I will
become just as mean as him." She pointed at Bruce, who was
smirking at her. "Seriously."
Clint nodded. "She could. We're not sure of everything they tried to train into her."
"Crap," he muttered. He handed over something. "Stark's
personal physician sent that. It's for her migraines." Dawn
nodded she could've used it a few times. "Tara has had to give up
the corsets with her dresses. She's fairly waddling now.
She's big enough that they give her extra room in the elevators."
Dawn grinned, eating. "The cooks are trying to pressure her to eat
more protein and one tried to suggest fish but Tara's answer of she'd
try that when she wanted to not breathe got a horrified look and they
noted her shellfish allergy.
"The father thought the birthing film looked like a horror movie.
He said it was like watching something hugely evil and slimy trying to
be born instead of children. Someone else commented that it looked
like a wet dog trying to come in through a doggy door that was too
small. Tara swatted them both." They all smirked.
"She's doing good and all three are safe and healthy so far. She's
moved into his apartment in the spare room." Dawn nodded, eating
another bite. "She said to somehow email her or something.
Or meet her while meditating on the astral plane, however she does
"I can figure that out," she said quietly.
"Eat," Clint ordered.
"You have to go back in twenty." Dawn nodded, digging in.
Bruce looked at her. "Pepper is still so livid that anytime anyone
mentions your name she starts to growl. She wants this ended now
so you can casually make an entrance at some event next month or the one
in six months." She shrugged, finishing up. "You'll figure
it out, I'm sure you will. You're a very good student and you're
"She's staying at your apartment. The landlord thought it was
great since you were overseas on assignment." He smiled.
"Your mother is one hell of a woman, Dawn."
"She is, yeah." She grinned. "I don't like worrying her."
"You're not. The only person that knows anything other than Tony
is your mom. She vowed she was going to take him out with a rusty
spoon her daughter had been using on something else. I'm pretty
sure he believed her." Dawn grinned.
"The woman threatened to gut and castrate me if I didn't tell her the
second Dawn woke up," Clint said. "I believed her. If her
daughters hadn't inherited her stubbornness they wouldn't still be
"We are a tenacious lot," she agreed happily. She looked at him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He patted her hand. "We'll figure it out
as soon as we can. Everyone wants you back." She nodded,
getting up to go to the bathroom and then back to work. He looked
at them, shifting some. "We've only had one problem that we
could've used the help for and we covered well enough but Steve was
scowling hard and nearly swore."
"That's bad," Clint said.
"It was. I was in other guy form and I nearly flinched," he said
quietly. "Then some reporters were trying to bother Joyce about
how wasn't it a good idea to make sure that all of those special ones
had to help people. Steve walked into them badgering her and
politely kicked them up the hall and carried them out of the hospital to
drop at a police car's door. He told them that reminded him of
Nazis. If that sort of thinking kept up, he'd start being ashamed
and might have to move countries. Tony showed up to help since the
emergency alarm at the cancer center hit his phone. He agreed and
suggested Japan because it'd mean he could play with more robots."
"Dawn might like sushi. Never asked if she's eaten any," Clint said, looking at Natasha.
"We were going to introduce her to it one night but she had to back out
to go help her sister calm down after something larger appearing in her
Bruce nodded. "I've seen that happen. Buffy was the only
other person who looked at me when I was having problems and just
shrugged. I growled, she sneered and offered me chocolate
coffee." They both laughed. "She confused him so much.
All I remember is the coffee remark and having a headache
afterward." Natasha was smiling. "Anything you want me to
"Not yet," Natasha said. "So far we're all right and working on her PTSD." She glanced around then at him.
"If it's that bad, there's people who are experts at it," Bruce offered. "I know a few but they're overseas."
"I have someone in mind," she promised. "They helped when it was done to me."
He patted her on the hand. "We like you for the woman you are,
Natasha. No matter what else you do or have done, you're a good
woman and we like you for it." He punched Clint on the
shoulder. "Keep them safe."
"That's my job," she said.
"Of course it is but most men want to feel like they're in charge, or so
Tony said. He thinks you're doing it behind his back." He
got up. "We'll see you guys soon hopefully." He left, going
back to his rental car. The plane ride had been nice.
Private and nice. He got some great sleep on the way over.
Now he could report that things were moving but not fast and that Dawn
still looked bad but they said she was getting better.
Clint and Natasha shared a look. They might have to move quickly
but maybe not. Stark could keep secrets and he did want to protect
Dawn too. They went back to work, thinking about things. It
was a hard time right now.
Dawn woke up with a repetitive nightmare, panting and looking around the
living room. For some reason she felt safer sleeping on the
couch. She glanced up but she knew they had woken up when she
had. She got up to get something to drink and settled in.
Natasha came down to help her calm down. It was healthier and
happier. Dawn rested against her side. Natasha let her curl
up while they talked. They ended up falling asleep together there.
Clint stared down at them. He knew better than to wake them
up. They might get some real sleep if they were together. He
had his own nightmares and was fighting them. He couldn't help
them fight theirs as strongly until his got locked up again.
Though he did miss being snored on by one and having a warm back at his
with the other. It always made him sleep better.
Tony Stark was looking around their current battle mess. This was
bad. They needed the trio back for this one. Or at least two
of them. Dawn was never going into a battle ever again if he had
his way. "JARVIS, call those special earpieces I had you tune two
"Which one, sir?"
Stark looked at Captain America as a 'damn it' came out of his
mouth. "I don't care, JARVIS, just one of them. Any of
"Very well, sir. Trying Agent Barton's linked phone."
The picture popped up in his visor.
Clint felt his phone vibrate and pulled it out to look at it.
"This is bad," he told his boss. "It's a relative, I have to take
this. It's probably an emergency." He walked outside and
around the corner. "It had better be an emergency."
"It is," Stark said.
"Hey, Dad," he said, glancing at the people around him. "What sort of emergency?"
"The sort where we're beaming you out. Your lovely coworker as well if you can manage it in under ten minutes."
"Twenty to get home and get my gear."
"Screw that, I have people putting some stuff down for you, some of my
people. Get her. I'll beam you here and then back
there." He winced. "Cap just swore for the second time in
"Got it." He hung up and texted Natasha, who took a break.
He found them an alley and they were beamed next to where his bow and
arrows were. He looked and whistled. "Yeah, this is
bad." This was Invasion of New York bad.
Natasha grabbed the guns and other things there for her, taking off to
help the team. Thankfully she was in dress pants today.
Clint took over sniping duties of the other snipers. That let the
team move forward to handle the bigger issue. Bad guys dressed
like storm troopers, someone had no imagination. Clearly a pitiful
dictator wannabe. He felt a tickle from Dawn and gently pushed
her back without explaining. He fired on something trying to
attack Buffy and Faith. Then on the next person trying to take an
up-high firing spot. Stark had left him at least thirty more
arrows than usual. That was helpful. Natasha had left him a
few higher guns. That was even more helpful.
He saw Buffy look up at him when he fired on something else trying to
get her and the stunned look. He shot the next one and the one
trying to sneak up on him, going back to it. They won but it was
about an hour worth of fighting and he was down to the gun because he
had run out of arrows. He looked around. He was way too open
and there were news crews coming. He jumped down to a lower
roof. Mid jump he was blinded by some light. He landed in a
crouch, Natasha next to him. They shared a look.
"Tonight?" he asked.
"Tonight," she agreed. They went back to work. They could talk to Dawn when she wasn't doing yoga class.
Clint walked in last that night. He had stopped to pick up some
deli chicken at the grocery store, and some milk. He was craving
it. "Your sister gave me a look like I was screwing chickens when
she spotted me."
"Is that supposed to be better than her thing with vampires?" Dawn asked.
"Not really." He got plates and they settled in to eat. "We need to decide how bad the exposure was."
"Pretty. They had it on at the gym. The nice older ladies
all cooed about how cute you were." She smiled. "A few
suggested that Faith put on something other than tight jeans, because
you could see every inch of her, and that Buffy should probably put on a
real shirt." Natasha laughed. "They also decided the new
agents at SHIELD helping out weren't as cute as the ones in New York."
"We are adorable," Clint agreed. "How good did they get me?"
Dawn turned on the tv. He watched, nodding. "That's really
good." They had gotten full shots of both of them firing on the
bad guys. The news switched to coverage of reporters mobbing
Pepper about the 'missing' Avengers. Pepper was 'no commenting'
until she finally told them she'd have a statement in the morning.
Right now, she needed to make sure everyone was all right. They
shouted different questions but she made it to the car.
Natasha shook her head. "Stark will have to put out what he knows. Congress is calling for an investigation."
Dawn shrugged. "Tony can still bullshit as good as Loki
can." They nodded. "So what are we doing? Are we
"Later this week," he said. "We have some time. We can
set up a bit more calm move." She nodded. "You'll need to
tell your boss."
"She point blank asked me if that vixen redhead I lived with was the
same one on tv and if the PTSD was related to that last battle."
She ate a bite and shook her head. "I didn't really answer her."
"She recognized you?" Natasha asked.
"No. They only caught me from behind at the battle in Sunnydale. She was talking about the one in New York."
"Which you weren't there for," Clint said.
"I said I wasn't there. She gave me the dirtiest look ever so I
shrugged and told her I can't answer that question. It's dangerous
and I'll start having worse flashbacks if I have to remember it.
It wasn't much of a lie with the migraine I started to have an hour
later. The EMT on staff at the gym took one look at me and offered
to drive me to the ER. I showed him my bottle of pills for it and
he drove me home."
"Why the migraine?" Natasha asked. "You weren't using magic."
"No, but the link wasn't closed enough and as soon as one of you did
something I got flashes. I nearly collapsed in class." They
nodded. They'd seen her do that. They ate for a few
minutes. "Which compass direction are we heading?"
"South," Clint said. "The information Stark sent us said that the
Canadians knew about the plans. It's not safe for very long up
there." Dawn nodded. "There's a number of countries in
Central and South America you can slip into easily enough and get lost
"Less expensive to live there too," Dawn said. They nodded.
"How are the flashes doing now?" Natasha asked.
"It's killing the pain of them but it's making it easier to hear the
urges they're giving me." They stared at her. "I'm fighting
"To do what?" he asked quietly.
"To go kill the person responsible for all this hell we're going
through." He nodded. "I don't know, guys. I'm fighting
it. I'm fighting it hard right now."
"If you can't, you let us know so we can help," Natasha ordered.
Dawn shrugged. "If I can." She nodded she understood
that. She finished her piece of chicken and got up to get more
milk, refilling Clint's glass when he held it up. "Want me to
start looking for places?"
"Please," Clint said. "I'll arrange for us to get down
there." Dawn waved a hand in the air on the way to the
bathroom. They waited until she was in there to look at each
other. "Shifts?" he mouthed. She nodded. Dawn came
back out. "Want to go sit in the stream?
"It's a bit low and it's supposed to rain. If you two want to, go ahead."
He stared at Natasha. "Did she just try to push us together?" he asked.
She nodded. "I believe she did." They stared at her then
Clint pulled her closer to sit in his lap. He finished his milk
while Natasha kissed her. "I think this is the way it will be if
you are happy with it?"
"I don't mind it," she said. "But I know I need to give you two space now and then."
"We have plenty of space," Clint assured her. He ran a hand up her
leg. At least they had gotten past all the reasons she was
flinching. Though she did wince a bit. "Bad times?" he
asked. "Bad thoughts?"
"Bad thoughts." She rubbed her forehead.
Natasha looked at her. "You haven't had a cycle recently."
"They gave me a shot to stop it, I think. If I remember right."
"Shouldn't that have run out?"
"I decided it wasn't so bad and my magic's not too screwy yet so I can
take that for now on top of the pills. It's a lot easier."
"You can do the same with the pills," Natasha reminded her. "We did tell you that."
"Yeah but I still get some spotting. Which is nasty."
"Everyone's body has gross stuff," he reminded her. He was still
petting her. Gentling her again to being touched by anybody.
He had seen her flinch in the grocery store when someone reached around
her unexpectedly. The elder lady had looked furiously at him but
then realized it was Dawn, who she had heard about, so she just patted
her on the arm and apologized before grabbing another bag of
grapes. Dawn had slunk out to the car but they were used to
that. Dawn yawned, resting against his shoulder. "Sleep if
you want to. We'll tuck you in." She nodded, curling up
He looked at Natasha, who shook her head. Maybe that was part of
what they had programmed her to do. Dawn wasn't one who could use
her sexuality as a weapon, even if she did tease and flirt. They
tucked her in and went upstairs to have some private time. It was
needed and they were both tense after the battle earlier. It was
good, it almost always was, and they fell asleep tangled together.
Clint woke up at a noise. It had been quiet because it didn't wake
Natasha. He stared down there, noticing the couch was
empty. He listened, not in the house. He slid out of
bed. "Bathroom," he said when she stirred. She drifted off
again. He got dressed and walked outside, putting in the special
earbud. "Stark," he muttered. "Find her, send me. The
controlling impulses won for a few minutes." A minute later he was
somewhere else. Somewhere that was chillier and very
sterile. He looked around, sneaking up the halls. It was
very early in the morning there by the clock he passed. He
listened. There was only one room that had noise. He snuck
that way, looking in there. Dawn was wearing ...something slinky
that could almost be one of Natasha's battle uniforms. He walked
"He sent the orders." She stared at him. "You're going to
pay. You're going to pay so hard you're going to wish you could
"You are ours now. This proves it."
Dawn manifested some magic around her hand in spikey points and stabbed
him in the chest, making him scream. "No, I'm not. Even if
all that conditioning won out, my mother would beat my ass. I
don't like to disappoint my mother. Even if I do a lot of it
recently by having to hide thanks to you." She stabbed him again,
this time in the side. "Those will never heal," she vowed.
She stared into his eyes. "They will be sores to remind you.
You will pay. I will tell *everyone*. And thanks to being
me, I can project things like that." He shuddered. "Unless
you want to start paying now."
"Oh, yes." Dawn changed the spikes until one was longer. "Hmm. Where to put this?"
"Dawn, can't we just shoot him?" Clint asked.
"No. My mother's crying. There's no mercy for that."
She stared at the idiot. "I'm going to tell Stark and Congress,
yours and ours, and all sorts of reporters. I'll ruin your whole
goddamn country." He was babbling in Romanian. "Yay?"
She smirked. "You wanted me to kill people. How are you
liking that?" She slid the points along his injured side, making
him start to cry. "What did I say about paying hard?" she asked
"I will tell them! We will make amends!"
"Yes, you will. You're keeping me from my sick mother's side, from
my niece's side. My family means more to me than everyone in this
country. And if you think what I did at the battle was
impressive? You guys screwed up and now I'm not really able to
stop leaking power." He shivered. "So your choice,
dude. What is it going to be?"
"We will pay!"
"Good." She got off him and kicked him off the desk. "Don't
try it again and if you have any others, I'd give them to someone
just. Someone nice. Well, nicer than you made me." She
walked over him. "Have a good day, Director Stallet."
"We will still get you." Dawn had a gun pointed at his face and he
swallowed. "You will come back so we can finish your training."
"I had most of it removed. This is the natural skills I already
had." She smirked evilly. "I didn't need that sort of
training. I wanted to be more normal." She put the gun back
and grabbed Clint, taking him back to the house. "What the hell?"
she asked. She walked off into the woods.
"That's what I was going to ask." He followed her. Natasha
didn't need to hear that. "You've been holding back."
"No, I've been fighting it really hard."
"The leaking magic?" he asked.
"Yeah, but I'm wearing it out with simple things. There's nowhere
here I can get deep enough into meditation without setting off that
"Coulson said it's off until we get back. The one at Stark is handling it."
Dawn blinked. "Really?"
"Why didn't you tell me!" She swatted him. He swatted her back. She threw a punch then squeezed her eyes shut.
"You can't fight that, Dawn. You might as well pick up training
again." She attacked and he defended himself. She was still
pretty good, but not great and he did have experience. When she
tried something that Natasha did, that leg locking around the neck
throw, he knocked her down. "You came from the wrong angle.
Trust me, had it done to me many times." She hopped up and he took
her down again, holding her down. She was struggling. "Calm
down," he said gently. "Let the urges fade." She shook her
head. "C'mon, you can do it."
"You can. You will. It's dangerous." She 'ported out
of his grip and behind him so he blocked the new kick and moved on to
gauge the new training. It wasn't healthy but it was wearing it
out, which would help her the most right now. She finally burst
out crying and he pulled her closer. "You can't fight that
urge. You can only work with it to keep it down," he said
again. "That's one reason why she and I train so often." She
looked up at him. "Really." He kissed her on the nose but
she shook her head. "Why not?"
"If you say we're humoring you, I'm spanking you," Natasha said from the
tree next to them. "She has always thought herself as a
"I like playthings but I only tip them. I never sleep with 'em,"
Clint quipped. He kissed her. Dawn pulled back. "Yeah,
that's how it's going to work."
"We're your bitches?" she joked weakly.
He smirked. "Exactly." Natasha hit him as she walked past him. "What?"
"I'm not a bitch."
He looked at her. "Yeah you are." She hit him again but took
Dawn from him. "I found her non-fatally stabbing Director
"She said he's going to pay."
Dawn nodded. "He will be."
"Monetary or not?" Natasha asked.
"Both. I need to make up for my missing income. I don't want to dip into my college fund."
"I think that's why we're going to Honduras," Clint said, looking at Natasha.
"Must we?" she asked.
"Costa Rica is hot right now for Americans buying if you listen to HGTV," Dawn said quietly.
"Suriname? Chile?" Clint offered with a smirk. Natasha hit him again. "Hey!"
"I hated Chile the last time we were there. Suriname was nice enough." He nodded.
"Have no clue," Dawn admitted. "Can we be near water?"
"We can do that," he agreed. "The main city is the only real city
down there." He and Natasha shared a look. "Lower Mexico?"
"Too touristy," Natasha said. "Guatemala?"
"Is that Spanish or Portugese?" Dawn asked.
"Spanish," she said.
"I'm still struggling my way through the second book of Spanish but sure. Are there ruins there?"
"Mayan," Clint said. "No, we're not going. Don't ask why." He gave her a squeeze.
"Maybe I can go then."
"No, not alone. Atlantic or Pacific?" Clint asked.
"Doesn't matter," Natasha said.
"Beach?" Dawn asked.
They stared at her. "Not unless you start wearing something more
massive. It's a catholic country." She shrugged. "Lake
or river. Privacy."
"I can look."
"Good. That'll help." He gave her a squeeze. "They taught her to do that move you do."
Natasha smiled. "I tried to teach her."
"She comes in too low and too obtuse of an angle."
"We can work on that so she doesn't have to keep fighting the
urges." She stroked over the unbound hair. "Is that my
"How did you get it?" Clint asked.
"It was in my closet at home."
"Fury," they complained. They got her out of it, noticing the lack
of anything supportive, and that could be nice. She squeaked when
she got pinched and tried to climb a tree.
"You need the same rope climbing muscles for that," Natasha said,
helping her back down. "Or a lower branch." She walked her
inside and they went up to the loft so they could pull her up. She
was not being left alone for a while. Though she did snuggle in
and became a cuddly boa constrictor around Clint's chest. Natasha
rested back-to-back with her. That would work for tonight.
Tomorrow, they could make plans.
Clint smiled at the woman knocking on the door, Dawn's boss.
"She's actually still asleep," he said quietly. He stepped
outside. "We almost drugged her last night to get her to rest."
"I saw why." She stared at him. "I'm not going to bust
you. I figure if someone like you is out here there's a good
reason and she's a pretty good reason."
"She is, and we're trying to help her."
"Good. Dawn's a good girl. I'm sure her mother is proud."
"Very, and a bit mean when she's being stubborn."
"Any good mother is." She smiled. "Here, her last
paycheck. I have one of the local boys running her commando
playing class and we have enough of us who sat in on Dawn's yoga class
to take over." She smiled. "Nice work by the way." She
left him alone.
"Thanks." He went inside, putting the check where the others sat
before they went to the bank, under the tv. He looked up
there. "She's not snoring. Is there a problem,
'Tasha?" She let out a breathy moan and he grinned. "No,
that's not a problem. Let me know if you need help." He went
to make breakfast, turning off the oven. It really was a great
heat source for the upstairs area. He heard a yelp and
laughed. That had been Dawn. He finished with the toast,
eggs, and coffee, putting it on the table. The ladies came down a
few minutes later. Natasha wisely used the rope. Dawn looked
then huffed and jumped, flipping in mid-air to land properly.
"We're sparring later," he said smugly.
"Sure. I want to see what this new body can do." They ate
and talked about what they needed in a house. Dawn wanted
something a bit bigger, with room to wander through. Clint joked
that they'd have to take out an arms dealer for that. She showed
him the two houses on a private, man-made lake. One belonged to an
arms dealer. One was for rent. They had fences separating
"Didn't you date his son?" Natasha asked.
"Yeah, then I went clubbing," Dawn agreed. Clint smirked evilly
and she grinned back. "Four bedrooms. Actual closets so we
can get the rest of our stuff. Lake to swim in. Or boat in
because it's big enough. Private, dedicated gym with equipment and
a room for yoga as it says. Nice kitchen. Furnished.
Easy terms. Probably meant to go to a drug dealer."
"Probably," he agreed. "Take it. It's cheaper than here with
the exchange rate." She nodded and it was done via IM. They
had the keys as of tomorrow. They went out back to spar.
Clint watched at first. They had been trying to turn Dawn into
Natasha so it was fair to test her. They sparred more often
anyway. She still had to stop Dawn a few times to show her how
things were supposed to be done, but it helped. Dawn was a lot
more deadly now. And a bit more flexible. He'd have to try
"We should make sure you can do that flip," Natasha said.
"Not on me you're not. That shit hurts," he said dryly. He
waved Dawn on. "C'mon, Short Stuff." She lunged and he
fought back. She wasn't holding back. He was barely holding
back. He could see when the urges started to cloud her. "Go
ahead. I can handle it." She breathed deeply and let them
go. It was a harder fight, and he wasn't holding back.
Natasha was ready to grab Dawn if need be and put her down to hold
her. He finally won with a rib strike to her side and a foot
sweep. He followed, holding her down. "Okay," he
panted. "That's not bad." She blinked at him.
"No, that was actually handy. We can work with that, train the
right time to do that into you in case you're kidnaped or
something." She went limp. "Good girl. Are you back
down?" She nodded. Someone cleared their throat and they
looked over. "Hey, Captain."
"Clint, Natasha, Dawn." He smiled. "Tony sent me."
They nodded. "He wanted to know what happened last night and
wanted you warned that somehow Coulson heard," he told Dawn. "He
went on a swearing fit."
"I'll talk to him right before we leave. I don't want him disappointed."
"He wasn't. He was talking about taking some extra paternity leave
to go to Romania." He grinned. "So what happened?"
They settled in to talk about the programming. They knew he wasn't
going to tell anyone. Dawn got calmed down and was a bit cuddly
in remorse for how bad she had hurt him. Steve let them have some
private time while he got sent back to Stark Towers. That beaming
satellite was pretty neat.
They got up and packed, leaving then. Dawn got them there once
someone found her a picture for placement. A bank's ATM camera
Steve came back that night and looked around. Mostly empty.
He searched, finding the envelope under the edge of the tv. He
checked, a paycheck. The fridge had some milk. He packed it
into a plastic bag that was under the sink. The bathroom was
clean. The bedroom was spotless. The loft area was unmade
and looked like a platform over some rafters. So he guessed they
had left. He found the special uniform out back and brought it
with him. Tony looked up as he reappeared. "Her last
He took it to look at. "Almost minimum wage." He put it
aside and stared at the outfit. "Uh-huh. Where did she get
"No idea. It was in the backyard."
"That's not a good thing. That means Fury has ideas." He
took the milk to sniff then drink. "I sent all their stuff ahead
to their next place. Dawn was subtle but we were watching for it
"Why?" Steve asked.
"Cheap living, not a lot of oversight in parts of the country.
Dawn has a thing for history. It's on a lake so she can wear the
bikinis again." Steve shuddered. "Go give that to
Pepper. She won't throw a fit at you."
"I can do that. What about Phil and Tara?"
"I'll tell them." He popped up a hacking program and hacked into
Coulson's webcam, blocking out all other signals. He found one
last one that was trying to be sneaky from Agent Hill and told her they
were talking about a classified weapons program. She ended
it. He looked at him. "They're safe."
"That's good. I'd like a call about last night."
"I'm pretty sure you can take a vacation, Coulson."
"I'm not really interested in one right now."
"Yeah, well, it'll be a while once the kids are born. Trust
me. I didn't even have time to get drunk until Callia was nearly
six months old." Coulson smirked. "Maybe take Tara to look
at some ancient ruins?"
"She likes ancient ruins. She decorated her room in pictures of ancient ruins and some Earth Mother paintings."
"Any Mayan?" Steve asked as he came back in. "I can't find her."
"That's fine. We can hand it to her and run for our lives later."
"Why? And Pepper's here," Coulson said. Tony took the
uniform and held it up. "I see. That's a bit big for Agent
"It wasn't hers."
"Maybe I'll revise that poisoning plan then," he decided. Stark
smirked. "I'll tell Pepper too. You're right, we'll need to
run. Any other good news?"
"We talked about what happened," Steve said.
"We'd like a report," Coulson said with an amused look. "Just so Joyce can spank her."
Tony popped up a news article and had it translated for him. "I think it's already been done."
"Stallet. Interesting." He printed that article. "Anything else we know?"
"He was in the ER sobbing about how the wounds would never heal unless
he paid," Tony said, running that soundbite from BBC News. Coulson
got an evil looking smirk at that. "Anyway, I'm sending her stuff
to do. She's got to earn her paycheck and her stored leave time
is nearly up."
"Send them all something to do."
"I can do that. Anything you want sent?"
"Can you send her something that'll make her laugh and them groan in horror?"
"Well, I'm sending the rest of her clothes so all the bikinis are
going. Pepper may have picked her up a few more, you'd have to ask
"I can do that. Thank you, Mr. Stark." He hung up. Now
he had an idea. He went up to talk to Pepper. "Ms. Potts,
can I have a moment?"
"Of course, Phil." She smiled at him. She walked off down
the hallway with him, letting him tell her in her ear. "I can
definitely do that. That's always a great idea." She
smiled. "Let me go back to negotiations." He handed over
that printout, letting her do a fast websearch on her smartphone for who
that person was. She ran into the BBC News footage too and walked
back into the office. She held it up so Fury could watch
it. Fury was blinking at it. "I heard about the
uniform. Dawn has said multiple times she is not becoming an
assassin, a commando, or a super hero." He opened his mouth.
"Last night was her giving in to whatever they did to her
apparently. I'd say whoever helped on this end would be
next." She smiled sweetly. "If that was you, I'd hide.
I might not leave anything for her. Joyce either."
"She could be an asset."
"No, she's not. And really, with that sort of forced training would you really trust her?"
"I could put her under Coulson. He'd protect her anyway."
"I don't think he'd like that. If you think he won't poison you,
you'd better watch out for mine. Remember, I did go to college too
and I do work with some of the smartest, brightest, most evil bastards
ever. That whole geek trio from Sunnydale? They'd gladly
help me. And the other one we found too." She grinned.
"Leave. Dawn. Alone. Outside fixing the problems that
nearly have her being declared a traitor of course." She walked
off. She had seen just the bikini to send to Dawn and Joyce
would laugh over it too.
Fury looked out there. "Coulson?" He came to the doorway. "Are you planning on poisoning me?"
"Not at the moment, sir, but I'm told new parents can loose rational
thought during colic. Since they're twins...." He
smiled. Fury shuddered. "I'm going to get a report from
Captain Rogers on what he found out when Stark sent him to talk to
"He knows where they are?"
"Stark has nearly as many intelligence contacts as we do,
sir. Beyond that, he has something that can track magical
wavelengths." Fury slumped. "I'm pretty certain he'll make
sure both SHIELD agents and his assistant are protected from everyone
until things are better. Even if she does have to do college via
distance learning." He walked off feeling happier. He ran
into Tara. "Want some ice cream?"
"I am craving ice cream." She smiled. "It's nice you're getting my cravings. Means I get to share stuff."
"You can share all you want as long as I don't have to mix hot sauce and
peanut butter again." She laughed and swatted his arm.
Maria Hill watched them go, trying not to smile. She walked into
the office. "Sir, the President is calling on line two." She
stepped back out.
Fury answered it. "Yes, sir?" He listened. "No, sir, I
cannot. I did not do that. Someone in the administration
made that call. Personally, I'm missing some of my best people due
to this stupidity and my part-time assistant as well. I've nearly
got a revolt on my hands and one agent who has requested to learn
poisoning techniques." The president spluttered. While Fury
listened to him complain he wrote out the authorization for Coulson to
learn how to properly make and use poisons since the guy wanted to learn
anyway. Fury could avoid most of them.
"Sir, what do I care? Even our demigod superhero is pouting
about her not being here because *someone* wanted to be an
asshole. No, I do not share my people. I don't share my
toys, my people, my hell carrier, my headquarters, nothing. The
only thing my people share is protecting us all. Personally I'd be
horrified but pleased if one of the three missing ones took out that
foreign director of intelligence last night. Or any of the rest of
my people. It saved me some damn work." He hung up and
posted the notice through inter-office mail. Hill looked at it
then went to hand-deliver it. He smiled. She was keeping him
sane and alive some days.
Maybe he'd get one of those goo clones of himself made so they could test all his food for poison first.
Dawn walked into the house first and stared. "We have
boxes." She walked over and smiled. "We have boxes
from Mom." She opened hers, hugging the pictures and the
cookies. "Thanks, Mom," she whispered.
"We have a bag," Natasha said, unzipping it. It had the Stark logo
on the side. "We have tablets." She touched one's screen.
"Good, you're there. Finally. Couldn't get an earlier flight?"
"Long drive from town," Dawn said. "Tell Mom I said thanks."
"I will. She's nagging Callia about her shoes."
"Shoes?" Dawn asked, moving closer.
"She picked out some sandals like your blue ones and she's been wanting to show you."
"Hey, Callia, go put on the pretty stuff so we can call your
aunt." They all heard the baby squeal and run off. "Its in
the bathroom down here so she doesn't have to wander. She wandered
into the gym and told one of the guards he was grossly sweaty."
Dawn grinned. "Then asked if he was a teddy bear or a
wookie." She cackled. Callia came rushing back so he helped
her get dressed. "There, show her."
Callia climbed into his lap. "You okay?"
"I'm okay. I'm hoping we can get home soon, Callia. That's a
very pretty dress and such cute shoes. A lot like mine."
The baby beamed and nodded. "You're an excellent dresser.
Some day you can have all my bikinis."
"Bikinis? Cool!" she said happily, beaming at her father.
"We'll see," he said, smirking back.
Callia looked at the other two. "You hug her," she told Natasha, who she knew. "She needs hugs."
"I will when she needs one."
"Good." She smiled at her auntie. "I make letters."
"Letters are great. That's how you learn how to write and
read." Dawn beamed. "You're going to be taking real notes
soon." Callia wiggled in her daddy's lap. "You need to show
Grandma that. Grandma could use some help making notes on pictures
of the family."
She looked up at her father. "That'd be fine. You should get
to know that side of the family. I'm pretty sure there were some
interesting people there." He gave her a squeeze. "I can
hear Pepper and Coulson." She ran off to show Pepper her pretty
outfit. "She's been hiding it from everyone until she could show
you first." Dawn looked mushy so he cleared his throat.
"Okay, you have a week to do six papers for your first semester at
college. They wouldn't refund it with the notice that you had been
"Even after it was televised that your mother got off her hospital bed
and went to storm Congress over this." He cleared his throat
again. "That's totally shielded, only uplinks to the Stark
satellite network. You've got plenty of things to do, young lady,
because your accumulated leave time is nearly out." Dawn
nodded. "That way I can continue to pay you to shop for bikinis
and teach my daughter bad things about boys."
"I taught her good things about boys."
"Uh-huh. Then she wouldn't want a bikini. Speaking of.
Barton, you and Natasha both have a system too because there's things I
can use by picking your brains." He smirked. "You're all on
the clock as of today at five. That gives you enough time to
"Already taken care of," Coulson said, stepping into view. "Tara
said if you can't make it for the birth, even this way, she is going to
come down there and have them on your bed so you have to help her."
"You know I'll be there if I can, Phil."
"I know." He smiled. "Pepper and your mom decided you had
need of a few more bikinis. I did not want to see what kind.
Your mother loves the pole, she said it is a great workout, you were
right. Her oncologist said it was a good workout for her to
recover with as well because it could be progressive." Dawn was
blushing. "Now you know how I felt when you talked about
it." He smirked. "That is a totally shielded connection so
you can call, young lady, and that's a quote from your mother.
Because Joyce is fairly scary."
Dawn giggled. "She can be, yeah. It's why Buffy and I weren't hellions."
"She did a good job on you both." He grinned. "Barton,
Romanoff, you're officially listed as MIA at the moment. Not
rogue, not compromised, but MIA due to attempted kidnaping. That
means that no SHIELD agent is going to look at you funny if you need
some sudden help because she's been kidnaped again."
"Hey," Dawn complained.
"Outside the office in Brazil that nearly got shut down for being
dirty." They nodded at that. "Also, your new bow is in."
"I needed a new one?"
"Yes, you did. They noticed that it had a cracked handgrip and you know it's all formed at the same time."
"Thanks. What's the catch?"
"Fury has authorized him to study poisoning because if he's going to do
it, he has to do it the right way," Stark said with a smirk. "So
send him some tree frog venom samples or something if you want."
Pepper walked into view. "Remember that pink thing that I said no
on and had horrible visions because you made trashy look good?"
Dawn nodded with a grin. "It's your birthday present to
them." She smirked and walked off. "I'm telling Joyce you're
fine and need to gain another ten pounds."
"Thanks, Pepper. We'll talk soon."
"Get the papers done first," Tony reminded her. "We can't have a college dropout," he said, giving her a look.
"If I do, does that mean I have to become a professional tease and official billionaire wake up service?" she quipped back.
"If you do, we'll hire you for Pepper because I still have ideas I don't want."
"At least I switched to water after that one time I had to bounce on the bed to get you up."
"Thanks for that. Cause, yeah, that was weird." Coulson was
staring at him. "Hungover, sleeping in, missing a meeting.
Like usual anymore, Pepper sent her to wake me up because I don't growl
at her. She couldn't do it by shaking, yelling, dropping things on
me, because she left marks, or anything else. So she took a
running leap and bounced on me. Which got me up; I woke up
screaming and fell out of bed. She just smiled sweetly and said I
was missing the unimportant board meeting but Pepper had said to use
whatever means were necessary. Which got her punished by making
her go to deadly dull events where all the ancient leeches hit on her."
"I'm so glad that I don't have to fend off any more senior grabby hands."
"How old were you?" Coulson asked.
"Sixteen," Natasha said. "That's one reason why we started the
better self defense lessons. We needed it so we didn't shoot
them." Clint was laughing so she punched him on the arm.
Dawn poked him on his ticklish spot, making him yelp.
Dawn smiled at her 'big brother'. "I had one that was nearly
ninety who wanted me to sit on his lap for a ride and then I could use
the pump again and give him a blow job. I politely said I was
sixteen and not into sexual relationships at that time. He offered
me half a mil to break me in right then and there because the viagra
"He died of a heart attack not ten days later with an underage
prostitute," Tony quipped, smirking at her. She grinned
back. "You didn't even look hot at those events."
"I know, but Pepper insisted."
"We know. Pepper's now insisting that you wear something hot when
you do finally come back and if you want to make an entrance there's two
possible events. Wear something flashy that make people drool and
bring them with you to save all our nerves. Do your
homework." He hung up.
"I think I have that dress," Dawn admitted. Clint poked her,
getting swatted back. "Lets unpack and I'll get to work on my
papers." They nodded, hauling boxes upstairs. Dawn floated
hers. She found the two new bikinis on top of the others and
grinned. "Yeah, that's a birthday treat." She put them away
and did the unpacking spell so the rest were put up. Then she
skipped back down to the kitchen. Phil had really stocked
them. They even had milk and eggs. She looked across the
lake. "Hey, Clint, think you can hit their house with one of the
"I know it's muggy but really, Dawn." He grinned. "Are they cute?"
"Your birthday is in two weeks," she reminded him. "You can maybe
see it then." She pointed. "They're all home. With the
way it's smoking that's not a fireplace."
"I'll have to scout." He took a kiss. "Homework?"
"Lunch is good but I'll do it. Go do homework."
She looked at him. "Do you hate my cooking?"
"No, I just want something to do." Dawn got him his tablet and
showed him the waiting list that Stark wanted notes on. Then she
went to look at her assignments and handle them. "Why do you want
to do the gratuitous property damage?"
"He thought a gun belonged on a first date and I was that easy."
He smirked. "No, you're definitely not easy." She threw
something at him, making him catch it. "Hey, fruit." He ate
while he read and made sandwiches. Then he could find a nice tree
to sit in and watch that other house. If those bikinis were worse
than the ones in Miami, they didn't need someone who wanted to steal
Dawn to see them.
Natasha snuck into Dawn's room to look at the new outfits. Yes,
they were clearly indecent. Even worse than the smiley face
bikini. One had less material than it too. Two pasties held
together by some flossy string and the same strings woven into a thong
bottom. It was so small even a Brazilian shave would show.
The other.... She was almost worried. It was
crocheted. It was cream silk yarn.
She tested a strand because it looked familiar. It was cream,
bulletproof silk yarn. Natasha had an outfit made out of it
once. If she remembered right, Clint had taken it from her and
burned it while on a mission together. The top was covering but
the design had large gaps. The bottoms had the same design.
The bottom was lined with silk. The thong strap in the back was a
rounded braid design. She sighed and put them back.
They were in such trouble on their birthdays. She hoped Clint survived his since his was first.
She wouldn't even ruin the surprise so she could see the look on his face.
Dawn came down in her first outfit the next morning. Pink and
black bikini, scarf sarong coverup in black. She got a glass of
juice on her way out the door with her tablet. She could easily
type up a paper on the tiny beach they had.
Natasha walked out to hand her some toast. "Are you trying to incite them to come over here?"
"No." She grinned. "I need a new tan."
"I noticed." They shared a smirk. "Which one?"
"The crocheted one. He knows that fabric. I used to have a
dress made in it." She walked off to make her own plans for
Dawn yelped and got up, sending the ants that had tried to bite her into
the water to die. She cleared the whole beach of them and the two
lizards then laid back down.
"Are you all right?" floated down from the house.
"Yes. Just some ants."
"Why are you wearing that?"
"Because it's comfy and it fits."
"Get your ass in this house and change."
"Nope, and you can't make me. I am over the age of consent."
She went back to her research and making notes. She still hated
the virtual keyboard design. Her fingers hit multiple keys at
times and it sucked. She'd have to beg for one of the roll up
ones. She flinched when something hit her back. "Hey! I
need the tan."
"Not in that you don't." Clint walked off. "When you put on something more decent you can bring the blanket back."
She looked back at him then across the water. She got up and
brought it and her tablet inside. "Fine, but you're going to pay
"Really?" he smirked. "How?" She smirked evilly as she
strolled up the stairs. "Nothing risque in case the police or
someone local bust the neighbors."
"I doubt they'd care. They probably think I'm your
mistress." He choked. "'Tasha does society wife so much
better than I do." She came down in a different bikini. One
she hadn't worn to Miami but had for months before that trip. He
was stunned. Which was great. She walked back down there to
go back to her paper writing.
"I'm stapling shorts on her," he said when Natasha came out to see what she had put on.
She sighed. "She had that before the Miami trip. We talked
her out of bringing it because at her proper weight she has more
bust." She walked off.
"I know we all need to gain a bit back," he complained. He watched
her. Yup, one of the guards was coming over and Dawn was smiling
and flirting and then when the guy reached out to touch her, she flung
him into the water magically. She giggled and waved cutely then
got back to her homework. "Inciting them is mean," he called.
"I'm not. I didn't want him playing with my hair, especially after he asked if the curtains matched the drapes."
"From what I can see, the drapes are at the cleaners," he said.
She smiled. "Mostly." She got back to her research.
This paper was easy. "Did you see a roll-up keyboard? I hate
the virtual one." He went to get it for her, tossing it and a
towel at her. "Thanks." She switched to laying on the
towel. That paper was easily done.
Clint moved back to his chosen perch. This was going to be bad,
this was going to be so bad. Especially when Natasha came out in
her own bikini of doom. Well, one of Dawn's other ones, but still
sending his mind straight to hell. They laid down together to go
over the different paperworks and Dawn's assignments. Clint
watched because he was protective. He'd go help them oil down
later because he was still a guy.
Dawn got her results back and pouted. She sent an email to the
teacher, who said the system had eaten most of one paper. Dawn
looked it up and she didn't have a full copy either. She promised
she'd take it again to get a higher grade and he said that was
fine. To get better faster wherever she was hiding. She put
her tablet aside after checking for new Stark mail. Nothing.
She got up and looked outside. Clint was in his tree.
Natasha was reading on the beach. She got the stepladder and took
it out there so she could climb up next to him.
"Could use some privacy," he said quietly.
"I know. Which is why you're not getting any." She sat
behind him and grabbed his shoulders. He flinched.
"Relax. I'm a miracle worker. I've even calmed Banner down a
few times." He glared. "Want me to stitch the tiny wound
where you fell? Which I'll never mention the origins of if you
"I don't fall."
"I know you don't fall. Even if the tree is covered in vaseline
you'd never fall." She got to work on his shoulder, making him
hunch up. "Do you really hate backrubs that much?"
"I'm not in the mood, Dawn."
"I'm not trying to put you in the mood, Clint. I'm trying to make
this huge knot here release so you don't look like a hunchback."
She got back to work on it. He reached back but she was ready and
handcuffed him. She grinned. "You leave me no choice but to
take care of this problem for you." He groaned. She did go
back to work, more gently and easily. Her hands got oiled from the
stuff in her top. Which he caught her doing. She
smiled. "Only pocket I have." She pulled off his sleeveless
t-shirt, cutting to get them over the cuffs, and tossed it down at the
ladder. Then she got back to work. He did slowly
relax. She moved farther down his back, hitting a few scars that
made him flinch but she didn't stay there, she followed the tension.
"I'll be a good boy if you let me go."
"I'd have to chase you all over this tree," she said with a smile. "I'll let you go when I get down."
"I can pick the locks."
"These have a switch?" He felt around.
"Somewhere," she agreed. She moved down his arms, making him moan.
"You're brooding, which I totally get. Which is why I'm here to
relieve this tension back here and in your arms, make sure that you
don't need stitches, and then go make dinner so you can have leftovers
if you don't come in for it." He looked back at her. "When I
need the space, you gave it to me but checked on me. So now I'm
checking on you, fixing the sore spots, and letting you have your
"So this has nothing to do with feeling like you're the second string?"
"No. Though there's times when the fire between you two is hotter
than any I could ignite. Let's face it, it works best if you wear
me out and I rev you up to go pounce her and I help in whatever way I
"This three-way thing we have going takes having equality," he
said. "There has to be you and me time, you and her time, her and
"I get that. That's why for your birthday I'm getting you the day
before, she gets you the day of, and I get to pounce her the day after
if she's not too sore."
"Why does she get the day of?"
"Because she's known you longer and she has the more wicked
plans." She grinned and got back to work. He tipped her face
up. "That was fast."
"Not that hard once I heard they had a switch, even if they were in an
unusual spot." He stared at her. "You can switch that
"That's fine. As long as you're not upset."
She kissed him. "I'm not upset. I'm going to make your head
explode if possible. She'll put you back together to wreck you
again, then we'll leave you a puddle of male goo while we tease each
other the next day." He moaned. She shifted him around to
get back to his back. He was relaxing and it was nice.
"You could relieve the other tension you're causing," he offered.
"Not until you want to come in and do it. I'd fall out of this
tree and we both know that." She worked on his neck, feeling the
tensing. "I'm not strangling you or trying to break your neck."
"I know. It's instinctive."
"I know." She finished up and did his arms and hands. He
appreciated that. It made him moan even louder. She smiled
and capped the oil to put back into her bikini top. She slowly
climbed down until she reached the stepladder, taking it inside.
Clint rolled his shoulders around. She did remove the
tension. He leaned back against the trunk of the tree, staring at
the neighbors. They were clearly doing something wrong. If
he used the ice arrows, there would be no bikinis for days. He
grabbed his backup bow from above him. He had two of the ice arrow
tips in the quiver. He switched the arrow to load them, taking
aim on the house's open basement window. He shot it. The
arrow flashed a bit as it hit and he felt the chill slowly creeping his
way. He shivered and did it again. That would save one for
The neighbors were freaking out and screaming at each other. There
was a shooting of a few guards. One of the sons ran inside so he
didn't get shot. His father followed him. Then the house
"Huh," Dawn said from the ground. She held up something. He
reached down to get it. "Lunch." She walked back
inside. "They blew themselves up, Natasha."
She was shivering. "That was mean."
Dawn grinned. "Sometimes being mean is fun."
"Sometimes, yes. But I need to put on clothes."
Dawn moved closer to cuddle her. "I can help warm you up."
That got a different sort of shiver and it was a good thing. "I've
got forty minutes before the chicken's done." Natasha smiled and
let Dawn have her way for now.
Clint watched the local police, who were fairly dirty and admitted they
were dirty, show up to see what had happened to their extra
paycheck. The remaining people were in shock. Clint loaded
another, plain arrow tip when the 'officers' pulled out guns. He
shot one of them when they went for the staff. That made them and
any survivors run off screaming into the trees. So not a bad
He looked in the house. This tree had a great view into his and
Natasha's rooms, Dawn's was on the front of the house. "They're
using my bed," he said, watching them. He hopped down and took his
bow and quiver inside with the basket. He turned off the oven
because there was no way they'd get done in under an hour. Dawn
was making Natasha moan when he walked in there and stripped off.
"My bed?" he asked with a grin.
Natasha smirked. "That way you could smell it later and not feel left out according to Dawn."
"I don't mind my bed smelling like you two." He climbed in and
went right for Dawn's clit, making her shriek and flail. "I think
you were doing something," he teased into her body. Natasha pushed
Dawn's head back down and it was great. Someone pounded on the
door but Dawn glared that way, making them flee when they were nearly
set on fire. "Anyone we knew?" Clint asked.
She checked then shook her head. "Nuns."
"Never mind then." Dawn wiggled away from him but he could
manhandle her into place. Then maybe the ladies would trap him
between them again. That was always a great day.
Tara was watching some idiot senator make a fool of himself on tv by
saying that Dawn was a traitor to the US for not training herself to
protect all its citizens. Then he suddenly stopped talking because
it looked like someone had punched him. She looked over at Phil,
who was staring oddly at it. "You know those old Batman comics
where they had 'kapow' and things over each punch?" she asked. She
rubbed the kicking kids.
"I think that was, yes," he agreed, sipping his coffee. "Think it was Dawn?"
"It wasn't Dawn. I'd have felt Dawn." She stared. "That's a heat shimmer."
"So a cloaking field," Phil said. He called the office. "Are
we monitoring Senator Bigmouth from Illinois?" He sipped his
coffee. "Tara spotted a heat shimmer." He hung up.
Iron Man was landing just after the senator stood up and got knocked
back down. "Definitely a 'kablam'," he said, cracking her up.
Stark looked at the clear area. "You three are grounded. Go
back to the lab, and I mean the one nearest to here so you can't get
lost. Now. Before I fire you and have you put in as dangers
to the universe."
They uncloaked in their battle robots. "We can do it better than
any nineteen-year-old girl," one said. "That's why you're keeping
us from taking over the world."
Tony kicked him in the ass. "I said get back to the lab before you
give any other geeks and wannabe geniuses a bad idea. Now!"
They flew off. He looked at the senator. "As for you," he
said, hitting him with a repulsor beam. "That's for my daughter,
the future slayer. They're not your personal army. They're
not my personal army, SHIELD's personal army, or the UN's personal
army. If they get conscripted I will destroy you and all the
others who try to touch my daughter."
He flashed up an image of six agents hanging off a bridge by their
feet. "Just like they will be for trying to kidnap her." The
senator was trying hard not to get touched by him. "Let the ones
who can do it and want to do it, do it. People like Dawn are
*nice*. They don't have the need to fight because they're still
*nice*. At least until you had her kidnaped by foreign nationals
and tortured. Now... She's still pretty nice but she's
better at killing people." The senator turned and ran. Tony
shot him again, sending him a few feet in the air and into some
bushes. "Leave the US before you damage it." He flew off.
The press was running for the senator to get a statement. His
guards weren't being very effective at stopping them. In fact, one
tossed down his badge and walked off. The other two were almost
Phil smiled. "Those three are very fun."
"Until they try to take women hostage so they have slutty girls to try to hit on."
"There is that, yes. Though, they're very socially insecure.
That's probably the only way they get to talk to girls, Tara.
"I know." He smiled at her. "You tried very hard but they're
so socially inept it'll never happen. Thankfully Pepper is
probably going to stomp on them later for that."
"Tony will. He was that geeky but he was more socially aware."
"Maybe," he said. "Bet doing the dishes on it?" She shook
his hand then winced. He reached over to pat the kids to make them
stop kicking for a bit. She relaxed and leaned on his arm.
That was...nice. It was really nice. He could put up with
this version of nice. It wasn't like she was a clingy wife
sort. Though she did make great dinners whenever he was
home. So yes, he could deal with this level of 'relationship' and
still figure out what he was using on Fury for nearly getting Dawn
Dawn walked away from the tv laughing and trying hard not to cry.
Natasha stopped her and walked her into the gym to wear that mood
out. "Even if you reappeared and gave in they might still try for
your niece or your sister."
"I'd kill them all."
"I know. You would have a lot of help." She nodded,
swallowing. "Was that the three geeks your sister was friendly
"Yup. That was Jonathan in the lead. Buffy saved his life
once. When she was telepathic she kept feeling a threat. It
turned out to be him being suicidal instead of the lunch lady who was
going to give everyone arsenic poisoning."
Natasha shook her head. "I would have bombed your school even before I knew how to build one."
Dawn grinned. "Xander did that."
"I'm sure we're all glad of it." She pointed. "Try the balance exercises I've had you doing."
"I need to buy those three geeks some beers," Clint called.
"Buy them a hooker who'd let them babble at her," Dawn called
back. "They have *no* clue how to talk to girls. That's why
they keep trying to kidnap some."
"I know a few female agents who might like that," Natasha said, sending
an email. She did note that Stark might have them grounded to the
lab complex in Malibu but they were good enough to break in.
Clearly someone had some sort of issue that needed to be fixed.
"They were going to try to take over the world in an evil genius plot,"
Dawn said dryly. She slowly did the moves Natasha had taught her
to work on her balance. "Tony stopped that and made them work for
"I'm fairly certain Stark would understand that urge," Natasha said
dryly. She came over. "Try a backflip." Dawn did and
had to be caught. "Arch more." She tried it again until she
Clint leaned in. "Did you call Miriam?"
"I did. It could help those three." They shared a smirk.
"Stark popped up an email saying they were grounded and Pepper was
kicking their asses over things." He leaned in the doorway,
watching Dawn. "Dawn, slower."
"I can't do it slower yet."
"Try," he ordered patiently. He looked at Natasha. "I'm not sure if Miriam is going to be enough of a cure."
"She can only help."
"Stark's going to go over their designs in a lot more detail since that
didn't look anything like something he created for the suits."
"They had working robots back in Sunnydale," Dawn said. "Or didn't
I show you about the Buffy bot?" They stared at her. She
grinned. "Spike had them make him one."
"So there was a robo-Buffy?" Clint asked. "Was it as good as the robo-Fury?"
"Just about as good."
"Huh." He went to email that to Stark. Maybe they had some
ties to the group that had done those and the goo clones. If so,
Stark could enjoy kicking them around more.
Natasha looked at Dawn. "Her being twins is a *horrible* thought,
Dawn." Dawn just grinned. "If they're going to make good
robotic clones, they should get women who are more worthy of it.
Or at least fun." Dawn hugged her then got back to it. "Arch
more," she ordered. "And slower." She smiled.
JARVIS cleared his throat. "Sir, there's an email from that secure setup."
"Read it to me."
"The trio made a Buffy robot, Stark. Might have something about the robo-Fury. It is unsigned," he read.
Stark put down his drink because he hadn't wanted to choke. "Really?"
"That is what it said, yes." He projected a copy.
Tony took his drink to the office where Pepper was chewing on
them. "Did they use your prototype of Buffy on the other robots we
had wandering around?" he asked.
Jonathan swallowed, shaking his head. "That was Warren's work, Mr.
Stark. We just helped with some of the programming. He
built his first one at school."
"I'm monitoring that school to make sure no other evil geniuses come out
of it." He sipped his drink, staring at Warren. "Well?"
"They cheated me!" he said. "They said they wanted to buy the plans and then didn't after looking them over."
"Tell me who. You can sue them for it. I'm sure you have patents?"
"No but I have my former girlfriend turned off in the closet. Each
time I turn her back on to talk to her she pouts at me about turning
Pepper stared at him. "You *built* a girlfriend?" she
demanded. "There's *billions* of women, Warren, even ones that
like geeks and geniuses. If Stark can find dozens of them I'm
pretty sure you can find one if you want."
"She was easier! She knew what I liked and wanted! She didn't try to cheat on me or flirt or confuse me."
"My father would've gotten you three drunk and handed you to a
whorehouse for a month to fix that," Tony said, staring at them.
They all slumped down some. "I don't think you're
irredeemable. Yet." He took another drink. "Acting out
does get you into trouble however. Just like it does when my
daughter does it. Thank you for protesting on hers and Dawn's
behalf but still, boys."
Agent Hill tapped then walked in. "Director Fury would like to see them, Mr. Stark."
"Denied, they're grounded." He smirked and finished his
drink. "I want those plans on my desk within an hour. You
three haven't put up any progress reports in over a month. I will
have every. Single. Thing. On my desk within an
hour. You can log in from Pepper's desk." He pointed.
"Print it with JARVIS's help if you need to." He looked at the
agent again. "I don't think Fury really wants to deal with my
company's issues, Agent Hill. You can tell him this is an internal
She said that into her comm earpiece and shook her head. "He said that they're going to be national threats."
"At least we'd make the world a better place," Andrew quipped, getting
swatted. "What? He made Dawn run away and Dawn was always
nice to us! She even remembered birthdays."
Tony looked at them then at Pepper. "We sent her at least an email, right?"
"I recorded Callia singing that silly song and a present. Didn't you?"
He considered. "I can't remember." The three geeks
glared. He glared back. "If she was closer I would
have. Pepper usually bought her own present from me."
Pepper smiled. "Sometimes the little things escape real geniuses,
boys. Get back to work before the kick you got from Iron Man has
to be compared to a size eight pump taken without robotic
protection." They got back to it, ducking their heads behind the
monitor. She smiled at Agent Hill. "I'll tell him what
disciplinary action we've taken later on during our meeting."
"Yes, ma'am. He doesn't think that'll be good enough."
"He's more than welcome to come here but I believe *someone* still has the security system set to kill him on sight."
Agent Hill looked at Tony, who shook his head. "Not me.
JARVIS. He announced it one morning during my waking up that the
upgrade was complete so that any agents showing hostility toward any
member of the upper management or their families would be killed
horrifically as he put it." He poured himself some water. "I
asked him why and he said that people had snatched our personnel and it
wasn't right, and that they may come for my daughter next. I
can't override it."
"No one can," Andrew said with a smile.
"We did good giving him the ideas he needed," Jonathan agreed.
"Including the new micro laser cannon," Andrew said happily.
Warren looked at them. "Where was I?"
"Jail," they said in unison. Pepper sighed and shook her head.
"Oh, yeah, I kind of remember that day of being drunk and
disorderly." He shook his head and finished pulling up
things. "There you go, Mr. Stark." He printed. The
others got into their files. "Should I go turn on my girlfriend?"
"Please." He had him beamed back to the lab and then back with
her. He made sure the guards out there sent them both back.
He smiled at Agent Hill. "This is why I took them in instead of
letting them become evil geniuses."
"Thank you," Agent Hill said, heading back to the headquarters
building. She had to turn off her comm and laugh but she felt
sorry for those boys. They had the same sort of loyalty for Dawn
and Callia as Coulson did for SHIELD.
Stark sat down to look over things, grading them and noting flaws.
These three really needed more to do so he'd put their twisted genius
to work. Rhodey stomped in. "I know. They're
"That was nothing like the suits."
"No, sir," Andrew said quietly. "Why would it be? We don't
even want to breathe on the Iron Man suits. They're kind of really
big hero stuff and we're not that good of heros."
"We make better evil geniuses than good ones," Jonathan said. "Especially Warren."
Tony looked at them. "You did a fine job of being heroic
earlier. Just at the wrong time and in the wrong way." They
nodded, getting back to work. "Most heros start out trying to
protect someone, boys. If you don't believe me, I can have Doctor
McKay come in to tell you that." Andrew moaned because McKay was
his geek crush. Tony texted him and got him sent. Rodney had
said he was bored last week.
Andrew saw him appear and nearly drooled. "Oh my god," he
whispered. "Doctor McKay." If there was any man who would
make him quit lusting after easy club girls, it was him.
Rodney stared at them and then at Warren when he came back with his
'girlfriend', who was complaining. "Enough," he ordered. She
shut up. "Boys, I saw that." They all whimpered. "We
will be talking. There's many things that you may be able to do
for the SGC."
"In partnership," Tony said, getting up to look at the robot.
Rhodey was helping. "McKay, Andrew wants to bear your
babies. Go grade his work."
"I think only certain people's mothers can cause that problem," Rodney
said dryly. Tony looked at him. "Roque's mother has promised
that she will bless Clay so they can have children some decade soon,
one way or another. Bia said she could do that."
"That's a thought to make me drink," Pepper complained, walking off
rubbing her head. Franklin Clay being pregnant was a nightmare
image. Though the one where he was pregnant and wearing Tara's
maternity dresses.... Nearly as horrifying.
"I'll have to study that when she does," Tony quipped. "See if
there's a way we can do it with science and then market it. A lot
of guys might like that." His best friend stared at him.
"Shut up, Stark." They went back to talking to the robot while
McKay helped the geeks pull up their work so they could be graded and
yelled at. Rodney had learned how to be *subtle* with new geniuses
so they weren't ruined for life.
Rodney looked at one design. "Is this for a vending machine?"
Andrew looked then shook his head. "It went on the robot to help
it pick up good girls for us to flirt with. That was the first
draft, we forgot to put in food slots and bathroom hookups."
Rodney smacked them all with the papers. "Sorry," he moaned.
"They had some social isolation growing up in Sunnydale," Tony said.
"I've seen some soldiers with the same problems. I'll see how
Sheppard and O'Neill helped them." He went back to it.
Anything that involved kidnaping a woman got them smacked but they took
it like the geeky worshipers they were.
Clint came down the stairs. "Stark realized we forgot your birthday," he told Dawn.
"I wasn't much into celebrating it and as far as I'm concerned I'm eighteen until my next one."
He stared at her. "You can't do that."
"I'm a woman. Of course I can." Natasha giggled. She smiled. "Thanks for wondering though."
He leaned down. "We still could've celebrated."
"I think we had plenty of beers that night," she said.
"Oh, that night." He kissed her. "Happy belated
birthday." He walked off. Natasha was heading for the
beach. He was going to prune back some of the jungle growth.
Dawn had lawn tasks to do once her homework was done but she was
magically pushing the lawnmower. He had to grimace when she hit a
few frogs in the grass but they should've moved. He wasn't used to
this home renter stuff. Once she was on firmer mental and
training footing, they were going to do it old school style again.
Clint came down the day before his birthday. There was breakfast
waiting. There was Callia on one of the screens. "Hey,
Princess. Dawn, your niece is calling."
She came jogging down the stairs in a bathrobe. "Hi, Callia!"
Callia stared. "Jammies?"
"I was in the shower." She grinned and settled in to talk to her
niece. When she felt that burning sensation she took the tablet
upstairs with her to go shower off the Nair, putting her behind the
curtain so she didn't get to see her naked but they could still
talk. Callia was chatting happily about her letters.
Dawn was encouraging it, including telling her she should learn a story
to tell Grandma. Callia talked to JARVIS, who said that wasn't
that hard to do. Dawn hung up after blown kisses and promises to
send her pictures of flowers, because her niece adored flowers.
Dawn finished her post-hair removal scrub down and checked. The
few stray hairs got shaved off. She even used a mirror to make
sure she got all of them. She cleaned up with soap then rinsed off
really well. She got out, lotioned down with the nice smelling
stuff that was outrageously expensive. Then she slid into the
bikini of choice for the day.
She checked. She did look fine.
She did one last hair check to make sure. Nothing anywhere below
her shoulders. She put her robe back on, after making sure there
were no chemicals on it, and carried the tablet down to the table.
Clint stared at her. "Is my present underneath that?"
"Could be," she agreed with a perky grin. "Callia wanted me to
take pictures of flowers. Oh, and she's learning her
letters. I suggested she learn a story to tell Mom." Natasha
smiled. She ate and checked her email one last time for the day
then logged off the system. That was a clear sign she wasn't
working today. Though she had cleared it with Pepper
earlier. When she got done, she strolled out to the porch, taking
off the robe to lay on the chairs out there. She strolled down to
the beach. She wasn't sure if she could swim in this crocheted
suit or not.
Clint stared then at Natasha. "Did I imagine that being not there?"
"She does have something on. It looked quite familiar and I really should replace that dress you burned."
He shivered. "Damn it, 'Tasha. That's a thought
that... The white one?" he demanded. She smirked and nodded,
eating a berry. "I was hoping you were talking about the purple
and black one that you bought to tease me with." He got up and
went to look outside. He came back to finish his breakfast.
He was going to need some energy. He walked down after her,
finding her teasing her toes in the water. From behind he could
see the braided waist and butt string. Cream colored strings
braided. He could see the back of the top, which was also braided
cord. He pulled her away from the water. "Thankfully there's
no more neighbors," he said, glancing over then at her. The cream
strings that were braided before were crocheted. Open weave
design so there was plenty of skin showing through. "Did you want
me to die?" he asked.
She patted him on the chest. "You won't die. I know CPR." She took off before he could grab her.
"You're getting it when I get back up there." He calmed himself
because the tease was back and she was evil this time. He walked
back up there, finding Natasha looking over the outfit. "Did you
help her buy that?"
"Pepper sent it," she said happily. "It's for birthdays."
He hummed. "Yes it is a present." He tossed her onto the
couch and leaned down to kiss her. "You're a horrible tease."
"I try sometimes." She shifted. He kissed her again until they heard a giggle. "Hi, Callia."
"Kissy?" she asked.
"Backrub," she said. "It's a backrub."
"Backrub?" She looked at her father. "Backrub?"
He looked then turned it off. "Yes, it was. JARVIS, no more
letting her call randomly, especially not around birthdays," he said
dryly. He sent that film to Joyce's phone. She sent back a
text that 'backrub' was a good cover and whoever had bought Dawn that
bikini was evil. He sent back it was Pepper's idea for a
birthday. He took Callia to the office to teach her a few new
letters and some more of the story so she could tell Joyce one on her
birthday in a few weeks. Joyce would love it and would maybe quit
moping about Dawn for a few days.
Dawn reached over to flip it over. "She's talking JARVIS into all
sorts of stuff." Clint laughed and hugged her. She
grinned. "We talked while I was rinsing off in the shower
"Rinsing off?" He ran a hand up her thigh.
"Nair." She nodded. He focused on her. No belly button
trail of hair down to her pubic mound. No armpit hair. She
had taken off the few darker hairs around her elbows that had popped up
recently. He focused lower. "How much Nair did you use?"
"Half the bottle?" she guessed. "I left enough in case someone
else wanted some." She smiled. "Happy birthday."
He nodded. "I'm thinking it'll be a good one." She wrapped a
foot around his hip. "We need to figure out a plan of attack
here," he said, trying to clear his mind because all he heard in his
mind was some sort of caveman-like grunt of pleasure.
"I say we try out that bikini as a means of holding her down," Natasha said from the table.
He looked at her. "Bondage?" She smiled and nodded.
Dawn lifted her head. "I haven't even thought about that."
"It's not a bad thing as long as it doesn't set off a problem," he
said. "I'm not particularly fond of being held down that
way." He stared at her. "You haven't minded it in the past
when I've held you down." He leaned down to put her arms above her
head and hold her wrists to the couch. She shifted some. He
smirked down at her. "You do have a nice headboard for
that. Mine's solid and Nat's is about broken." He let her
go. She shifted back. He stared down at the bikini
again. "I have to send Pepper Potts a thank you note."
He took another kiss. "Get seconds on breakfast, Dawn." She
smirked and got up to find something more to eat. He stared at
her. All the working out was keeping her in great shape. She
had regained all that weight she had lost. She hadn't had any
flashes in a few weeks. "Natasha, what was your plan for tomorrow
since she said yours were more wicked?" She smirked and said
something in a language Dawn didn't know yet. He swallowed.
She smiled. "We could all like that."
"We could, yes, and it would go well with today's too." That got an evil smirk.
Dawn looked at them. "Shouldn't I get the chance to say yes or no?" she asked.
"Maybe," he said. "If it bothers you we won't." She nodded
that was fair and nibbled on the pear. "That suit is really
see-through. The little patches of tanned skin are seriously
"I think that's half the point." She ate another bite of pear.
Natasha looked her over. "You only used half the bottle of Nair?"
"Yeah. My legs are still smooth from the waxing last week."
Clint growled. She took another bite and chewed, waving at the
screen that came up.
Tony stared at her. Then at Clint. "Sorry. Dawn,
Callia's going to be distracted for the next few days." He hung up
and went to find something cold and shower-like so he could calm
down. The camera was a great one. It had given him all too much
information about her bikini of the day. He realized it was
raining and went to stand outside.
"Daddy, it's wet," Callia called.
"I know. I'm checking the rain clouds." She giggled and ran
back inside. "JARVIS, she is not allowed to call Dawn by herself
without telling us," he said firmly. "Just in case they're
"Yes, sir. I'll include that and make her quit trying now."
Tony went in to grab his daughter, carrying her off talking about
penguins. She loved penguins for some reason. He had no idea
why, he thought they were really boring birds, but his daughter adored
them so it would take her mind off her aunt. It might help take
his mind off her aunt. They ran into Pepper. "That crocheted
thing is really evil. There will be hell to pay," he assured her
"Why did you see it?" He pointed at the baby. "Oh. She called?"
Pepper winced. "Well, I guess it didn't bother anything since
you're only damp from the rain." He shot her a dirty look.
"I thought about it once but it didn't look as flattering on me."
He groaned. She took the baby, taking her to the office to show
her how to type. She liked letters so typing should come
naturally. "We're going to look at different types of letters,
"Cool!" she squealed.
Tony went to his suite to take a colder shower. Now he had to
imagine Pepper in it. That at least took the image of Dawn in it
out of his head. He sent a text to Tara from the shower to remind
her that it was Clint's birthday and they were *busy*.
Tara looked at her phone, showing it to Phil. She was helping him with the paperwork today.
"It is, tomorrow," he agreed, considering it. "I'm hoping that doesn't mean someone interrupted the celebration."
"I think it might." They smirked and got back to work. They
could talk to Dawn and them later. Tara could even magic some of
the cookies she made down to them.
"I finished off the butterscotch walnut cookies," he said, getting back to work.
Tara smiled. "I thought they were too sweet but if you liked them I'll make more."
"Next week." She grinned. "I'm starting to get fat.
I'm going to have to go back to the gym more often." She laughed
and swatted him. He wouldn't mention that he missed his jogging
buddy, who would've stolen half the cookies for him.
Dawn was led upstairs once Natasha got done. The ropes were fabric
belts the women had in their closets. They'd be soft
enough. Dawn got tied down and they smirked at her. "Why do I
feel like I should pray for deliverance?" she quipped.
"Because she's in a mood; we all have to just hold on," Clint
said. He earned a pinch for that. He looked her over.
"What to do first?"
"Always make sure that everything you need is at hand," Natasha chided,
going to get all the things they might want. Condoms, oil, the few
toys that they had among the trio. She came back. "Why do
you have a pump?"
"Joke gift from Stark after that last fight," he said dryly.
"Hmm. We might have to play with that."
He looked at her. "I don't need it."
"It could still be fun."
He shook his head. "I don't need it. Ask me in a
decade." She stroked over his arm. They stared at Dawn
again, who was looking a bit nervous. "Think she would've worn
that if we still had neighbors?"
"Probably," Natasha said. "I would have." She leaned down to
kiss her. "Relax. He's trying to figure out how to play
"I'm all good with whatever works, most of the time," she said.
"Because I'm starting to feel like there should be an altar and creepy
guys in robes chanting in Latin or something."
Clint laid down beside her. "I'd never sacrifice you. Who'd
fuss over us?" Dawn relaxed. He stroked over her
stomach. "Who else brings handcuffs to a backrub?" He kissed
her again. His hand was exploring the bikini's strings.
"That is the same stuff that made that dress." He looked at
Natasha then at Dawn. "She told you I burned that one, right?"
"She did mention it, yeah."
"That's because it took an act of God to keep me and others from
pouncing her. The tornado wasn't that much fun." She
"Pepper said it's only for birthdays."
"What's the other one like?"
"You want to wait three weeks for Natasha's listed birthday?"
"It's in October."
"I go by the one in her file unless she tells me differently."
"Good point. It's still in October." Natasha rolled her
eyes. He got up to get into her bathing suit drawer. He
found a few he hadn't seen. Only one was so bad even strippers
couldn't wear it. He held it up. "There's no way you can fit
"It's not meant to be covering," Dawn quipped.
He stared at the two pasties and a string. "I can see that."
He put it back and came back to kiss her again. "You didn't have
to go that far."
"Yes I did. Birthdays should be happy things if you celebrate them."
"True." He looked at the bikini. "I know from experience
that you can't cut those threads." Dawn giggled. "Thankfully
it's got enough open area to tease through." He leaned down to
tongue the little holes in the top, making her wiggle. He sucked
up a few of the bigger spaces. He had a thought and pulled
back. "How long before that shot wears out?"
"Another month and I'm going back on the pill. I had Pepper call
Carolyn Lam for me to ask her for them. She said there may be some
spotting during that first month."
"That's good to know. Are we going to have to find a pharmacy?"
"We will soon anyway. You're almost out of condoms."
"That's a good point." He went back to his teasing. He knew
Dawn wasn't really sensitive there but the whole watching him do it was
teasing both women. He bit down.
"I'll get to that sometime today," he assured her with an evil
smirk. Then he got back to his playing. He was going to
enjoy unwrapping Dawn. And maybe he could make that bikini
disappear like some of her most teasing clothes had disappeared.
Natasha's phone beeped and she looked at it. "Coulson said he
misses his running buddy and she had better be up to at least six miles
when we get back."
"I think I've got her up to five when we can make her hit the
treadmill," Clint said, looking at her. "How does he get you to
"That disappointed look and my mp3 player usually."
"I'll have to try that." He went back to his teasing, slowly
working his way down. He found the knot in the back to untie the
bottoms. He stared. "How did you do that?"
"A mirror and Nair," she said with a grin. "Waxing there hurts."
"Yes it does," Natasha agreed, coming over. "You even managed the tiny hairs. Last time you tried that you didn't."
"I remember the horrible itching last time too." Clint stared at
her. "Certain healing spells require shaving everything and doing
it skyclad. I was working on one for Buffy when she got so damn
sick a few years back."
"Naked because skyclad is naked and you wouldn't want a stray hair to
drop into a healing spell." He shivered. "Phil almost walked
in on that, even though I had the door locked. Pepper called up
and told him to let me do whatever magically. He gave me funny
looks for days until I told him it was to help Buffy."
"I don't think he would've done more than blush and walk off," Clint said.
"This is my big brother we're talking about. There would've been random questions for days."
"Probably," Natasha agreed, smiling at her. "She asked my opinion
on how to remove it the easiest. When I said a salon she told me
she had to do it for the rite. I suggested Nair worked but to be
careful of chemical burns."
"I stopped it today just this side of a chemical burn," Dawn quipped. "Then I scrubbed really well twice."
Clint moved to look. "Got a bit too scrub happy. You look
like you scratched yourself." He kissed the scratch marks, earning
a groan. He grinned and licked over the clean skin. "That
grapeseed lotion." He kissed her and moved down to tease her
better. She jumped but it was a happy thing. They could
tease her for hours and all she could do was beg. Now that was a
great birthday present. Natasha moved over to help him enjoy his
present, which made Dawn a happy girl too. She accidentally got
free so they had to move to a better set of straps. She got
pouty. He went back to his teasing. This time she wasn't
getting free. Then tomorrow, Natasha's plans would work well with
even more teasing and sex.
Xander looked around the plane he was on, really tired of the boring
place. He hated to meditate. He knew it was the only way he
was going to get to be corporeal again but he was bored out of his
mind. He decided to go travel. He could manifest like a
ghost for a limited time. He went to check on Joyce since she was
alone. She was in the hospital for a slight bit of a cold that was
worrisome. With Buffy occupied with the dating thing - Hylal was a
great warrior and she was enjoying all six foot something of him - and
Dawn MIA, which was pissing him off greatly, someone had to check on
Joyce. He floated down and to the hospital, smiling at her.
"Why hi there, pretty lady."
"Xander." She smiled. "Are you going to stay that way?"
"No. I'm bored." She laughed. "I'll be back in
probably another year. I just have to rack up enough meditation
points to regain an elemental core and then a physical form and
core." He settled beside her on the bed, letting himself rest
against her. "I saw Dawn. She's *such* a dick tease."
She nodded that was true. "For both of them." That got
another nod and a smile. "I saw what happened too. She's
coming out of it okay. They've got her calmed down and able to
function, all that."
"That's good. Any news on Buffy?"
"Have you met Hylal?"
"I did, Buffy called up to video chat." She stared at him.
"He's a great warrior."
"Who is over a foot taller than her and she said he thinks it's great fun to carry her around the house."
"Including during sex because he forgot she was limp and begging for
mercy when the missionaries showed up at the door." Joyce burst
out cackling. A nurse glanced in then left them alone. He
grinned. "I'm not sure Buffy realized it. She *really* needs to
work on her stamina. He's even making her spar for
foreplay." That got another cackle. He nodded. "I
guess it does a Summers woman good."
"It did when I was younger too. Though I think they're both
getting more than I did. Hank had a *schedule*. Now I know
"He had no taste," he said dryly. "Look at the cows he screwed."
"True." She looked at the doorway. "Hi, Steve."
"Bored. Working on it. It'll probably be a year."
"That's good. Have you heard anything about the drama?"
"Yup, and I'm about to declare some people unprotected even if there is
an apocalypse." Steve shuddered. "Trust me, if I was solid,
there would not have been a problem after the first few
complaints. There might have been some panicking but not any
more complaints." He frowned, looking at something. "Joyce,
there's a connection glow with something in your purse from him.
Looks like it might be a picture?" He floated it over for her.
She looked. She found one and smiled. "I think there
is." She waved Steve over, showing him. "That's my mother
and my aunt."
"That's Raven," he said, taking it to look at. "That was your aunt?"
"She was the second one. My grandmother's sister was the
first. It seems like one daughter always serves to protect
people. That's went on for the last four generations but I don't
know about before then."
He sat in the visitor's chair. "I met her once. I was in awe
of her. Not many women could handle weapons in those days unless
they were farm girls for hunting. She took orders like a soldier
and acted like one. Even the WAC and WAV female soldiers didn't
get that sort of training. She helped a lot of people."
Joyce smiled. "She was a lot like you from what I remember.
She was very caring. She let a lot of GI's talk to her about their
families when they needed to. Then she'd get up and beat some guy
making a comment about her being a woman."
Joyce smiled. "I remember my aunt was one hell of a woman.
My mother was too but she wanted the kids and the family. My aunt
"Did you have a sister?" he asked.
"Not that I'm aware of. Mom said once she had accidentally gotten pregnant but had miscarried."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Though you would've been one heck of a
third generation in the suit." He handed it back with a
grin. "I'd like to get a copy of that if I may."
"Of course." She patted his hand again. "I have a few others
of her but none in the uniform. A few goofy ones of her at home
with my mother." He grinned. "I'm okay."
"You're a bit sick but getting better," he corrected. "That 'I'm
fine' thing I get all too often from the people on the team and it
drives me nuts because I can't guess at how injured they are unless
they're bleeding to death."
"I do the same thing," Xander agreed. "I once told John I was fine
when my shoulder was partially separated by a sword and I had three
broken ribs. I'm pretty sure I had a cut that had tried to break a
vertebrae and another on my right hip that was down to the bone
too." Steve shuddered. "I was just fine and passed out once I
got home so no one could fuss over me. John followed because he
noticed some blood dripping out from under my armor. I heard about
it for *centuries*. Even now he'll point that out to me. He
did when I passed out at his feet the last time."
"I would too, Xander," Joyce assured him.
"I know." Two people walked in. "Who are you? I don't
know you and you clearly aren't doctors by the lack of white coats."
"Who are you, sir?"
Xander smirked. "The God Protectorate of Humanity." One
gaped. "Get out of my adopted mother's sickroom. Now
please. Don't make me lose my temper and bring my axe."
"We wanted to question her about her daughter," that one said. "We're FBI."
Steve got up and hauled them out of the room and up the hall. One
got free and took a swing at him. Steve knocked him up the hall
then the other one. "Let me take these beings out before they
infect others," he said. He spotted the needle. "Nurse, I
need you to confiscate that for *real* agents coming in to get
it." She nodded, getting a bag to do that. He carried them
both outside and dumped them on the pavement. He stared down at
them. Stark showed up right after a SHIELD SUV. "Agent
Coulson, these supposed agents had a needle on them and wanted to talk
"Really." He walked inside. "Let me go confiscate that and check on her. PD is en route, Captain."
"Thank you." He stared down at them. "I really do wish you
people would quit making me ashamed to have woken up and still be an
American," he said quietly. One flinched and scooted away from
him. "I may love this country a whole lot but not some of you in
it. This will be stopped." Agent Coulson came out.
"Can't we deport these sort?"
"If we could, I would," he assured him. He stepped closer.
"Alexander is nearly corporeal again. He got so mad he sucked out
extra energy to come take care of you." The junior agents hurried
up to arrest them. He handed over the needle. "Straight to
our lab. I have the feeling that's what causes Joyce Summers'
brain tumors." They nodded. "Captain?"
"There's times when I'm not really proud."
"That's a side effect of freedom, sir. You can't have all good or it's even worse."
"I know. Still a shame." He looked at Tony. "I just found out that Raven was Joyce's great-aunt."
"Really? My dad mentioned her." He considered it. "Huh." They went inside, his visor coming up.
"Sir, if you could take off the armor?" a nurse asked.
"I will the next time I show up. Sorry, don't have a station here."
"Or a huge can opener," Xander quipped. "That 'backrub' thing is going to bite you."
"I figured it might if she tried that when she wanted one." He
looked at Joyce. "You're related to Raven?" She showed him
the picture. "Huh. My dad flirted hard with her, she was his
dream woman. Not that Mom got all upset about it, I think she
wanted her too."
"That's my aunt, who took over for my great-aunt." She smiled. "Can you make sure he gets a copy?"
"Of course." He tucked it into a pocket inside his suit. It
sealed shut and scanned it. He handed it back. "I'll print
him a copy when I get back to the office." He grinned at
her. "Dawn's teasing Clint Barton for his birthday tomorrow."
She sighed. "He's a very skilled, very alive young man.
That's her choice as long as he's good to her. I've never seen he
wouldn't be so I'll accept that choice."
"Probably not that serious," Tony warned.
She shrugged. "I had three boyfriends before the husband, Tony. I remember those years for the most part."
Steve cleared his throat to hide the blush. "She said something about you being a hippy because of Buffy's name."
"It was a song," she said with a grin. "But I was."
Phil Coulson walked in. "She told us about the deaging candy
too." He handed her something. "Sign. It's a complaint
form." She read it and signed. "Thank you." He smiled
slightly. "Tara is going to be put on apartment rest soon.
Her doctor thinks that all the agents hovering over her is stressing her
out. The twins will not quit kicking, no matter what she does,
and she's craving pecan brittle, which I had to learn how to make."
She wrote down an address. "Try there, Phil. It's got some
excellent nut brittles." He smiled and tucked it into his
pocket. "When is she coming to visit?"
"Tonight. I'm supposed to get off in time. With that serial
killer cabbie no one wants to make her take one and she can't
drive. Her stomach is too big to fit behind the wheel."
"Mine was too and I was only carrying Buffy. Look how short she
is," Joyce quipped, cracking the guys up. She looked out in the
hallway. "Oh, dear. NYPD."
Tony looked out there and smiled. "Hi, guys." They paused and stared. He smirked. "What did you need?"
"Something about a fight?"
Steve walked out. "They were here to harass and probably harm Mrs.
Summers. I took appropriate corrective action and handed them
over when agents got here to handle it," he said. "I'm sorry we
worried you, Officers." Coulson came out with the complaint
form. They read it over and left it with them.
Phil's phone rang. "Coulson." He listened. "You're
sure? Which version?" He nodded. "Right away.
Thank you." He hung up. "Stark, she needs to be moved
now. That was that serum."
"Okay," he agreed, calling Pepper. "It's me. We have to move
Joyce ASAP. We had supposed agents showing up with the
serum. Steve had to beat them mildly then handed them over.
Yes, there. Thank you." He hung up. "One hour at the
"We can stay and hover," Phil said. He looked at Xander. "You're getting thin again."
"I know. I'm racking up meditation points as often as I can stand
to do it. Hopefully by next Christmas I'll be back. He
looked up as a shriek hit his ears. Stark looked at his visor's
display then canceled it. "Natasha is a really pretty lady," he
"She is," Steve said. "If you just saw her and she's not in trouble, don't let me know."
"She's not in trouble. She's helping the trio celebrate Clint's birthday tomorrow."
"Then I really don't want to know," Steve assured him.
"Me either," Coulson said. "I've nearly seen it a few
times." He paused. "Really?" Xander nodded.
"Good! She could use the stability while she heals."
Tony Stark looked at him. "Tell me a lie, Coulson. That was definitely not the usual statement from you."
"She's still like my sister, Stark, and I'd like her to be happy. Beyond that, I'll still taze you so fly off?"
"After we get her transferred." He shook his head. "Her pregnancy is mellowing you."
"Quite possibly." He smirked at Joyce. "She made me paint."
She nodded. "That's called nesting."
"She couldn't stand up long enough."
"Buffy painted my house for me," Xander admitted. "Though the dog helped." He faded out. "Damn it."
Steve looked up then at Joyce. "I'm sure he'll be back sooner."
"Probably. Xander is more stubborn than even I am." Someone came to the door. "Yes? Do I know you?"
"Mrs. Summers, I'm here to serve you with some papers from your ex-husband."
"Is he back from Spain?" she asked dryly. She took them and
signed, letting him leave. She read over the front page. "What
does he want with Dawn?"
Tony plucked it with a grin. "I have an excellent legal
department." He smiled at the doctor that walked in
scowling. "Dr. Pigalli, this is Dawn's mother."
"Hopefully you're less stubborn than Dawn. She'd get up whenever
she needed rest to go stomp around somewhere." She checked her
over. "You look all right."
"They had that serum that gave her the tumors," Tony told her.
"She's in here because she caught a fairly bad cold and is just off
cancer treatments by about a month."
"Okay, we can move you and put you in the restricted section so no one comes in to bother you."
"I don't mind visitors," Joyce said. "It's really nice to have them."
"It is, but this way only Stark personnel or those authorized can get in
to see you." She called for an evac and they showed up to move
Steve punched one. "I know you're not an EMT, Persat."
Coulson looked. "He's not. He was fired from SHIELD."
He called that in. "Let us transport her, Dr. Pigalli." He
got smiled at. Nick Fury came in to oversee it. "Sir, as you
can see, there's a problem."
"I can see that," he agreed, staring at the idiots. "Take them in for questioning so we can see who they work for."
Steve looked at them. Then at Fury. "I'm quickly losing hope that this is going to be ended," he said quietly.
"Us too. I think it will be."
"I think it may with the election," Tony said dryly. They stared
at him. "Have we not noticed that Loki's boyfriend is still
running?" Joyce gave him a dirty look. "Yes, that's him."
"I still want to end that," Fury said.
"With an update I got, he used Lethe water to help Dawn," Coulson said quietly. "It was necessary, sir."
Fury looked at him. "What did they do?"
"Beyond VR training and chemical breaking in? Did you read the
statement about how Wolfram and Hart's turnover of the LA office for a
"Did you read what happened to Mr. Gunn?"
"I did." Coulson stared at him. "Crap."
"I'm told that it's been eased to the point where she's just sparring to
control anything that's remaining. She's mostly back on good
emotional footing. She's actually pulled out the bikinis."
"Don't remind me," Stark said. "Callia called her this morning
while she was teasing someone for their birthday. Which was all
Pepper's idea." He got Coulson's phone and pulled up the bikini
site, showing him that one. "I saw just enough of that to know
that Pepper really needs a vacation somewhere pampering that will let
Coulson stared then canceled that program. "I did not need that mental image, Stark."
"Me either. Or my daughter, who we covered and told her Dawn was getting a backrub while he was on top."
"I don't want to know," Steve said quickly, walking out into the hall.
Coulson smirked. "I'll keep that in mind in case she tries it on someone."
"Have we noticed Callia has a bad habit of repeating what she's doing
over and over?" Dr. Pigalli noted. "I was going to mention it at
her next check up, Mr. Stark."
"I did the same thing. It was to keep me focused on what I wanted
to do. Otherwise I'd get very distracted. My father hated it
when I got lost because I got distracted. He taught it to me and I
taught it to her when she started the same thing."
"That's good to know. Did you break it by school age?"
"I internalized it by then. I fully broke it at seven.
Doctor McKay saw her doing it and said he had to do the same thing when
he was younger, until he learned how to focus."
She sighed and smiled. "That's a definite indication of her future
brilliance. I'll have that noted in her file so we can watch
it." He smiled and nodded. "Any other notes to be made?"
"She's been going around and asking everyone for a story because she's
making one up to tell to someone. That was Dawn's idea."
"Excellent. I'll tell the nurses so they can find one that's not a
penis joke or a joke about that Roomba we seem to have floating around
"I did not put an AI in it," Tony said. "That was not my
doing. I'm pretty sure JARVIS got hold of that story and did
it. The same as he upped our security defenses without telling
anyone." He looked at Joyce. "JARVIS told Callia that some
day his successors would be helping her successors." She
grinned. "I told him he was only getting updated, not being made
into a father." She giggled. "I'm sure he'll need the
maturity to handle her when she's a teenager and when she starts to have
kids. She's worse than I was in some ways. Her kids will be holy
Joyce nodded. "Probably. You do let her run a bit wild."
"But she's learning so much. She was being taught the periodic
chart the other day in song form by the chemists." Joyce
smiled. "Drove us nuts singing it for six hours. It even
distracted her enough to not let her sleep."
"Aww." Dr. Pigalli smiled at him. "We were teaching her bones the same way."
"I heard. Maybe she'll get an MD and a PhD in engineering."
He looked out at the new team coming in. They had checked for any
special precautions then went to get the gurney. "Looks like
you're out of here for the brighter lights of the bigger, more friendly
rooms." He smirked. "See you there, Joyce. I'll tell
the heathen wench you're coming." He stomped outside and flew off.
Coulson shook his head. "He's a lot more stable with her."
"Kids do change you," Joyce agreed. "Guys, I can get up."
"Let us, ma'am." They lifted her up and over. The lesser
agents cleaned up her room, got her personal belongings, and Joyce
signed herself out. Coulson went with her in the ambulance so he
could ask questions about Tara. She was needy and he didn't know
if he could help since Tara insisted any man's touch might break her
vows. He had no idea about that.
Joyce smiled. "You've kissed her on the cheek, Phil."
"I have. I've let her hold my arm when we're walking too because
she was having some balance issues. Both were skin contact. I
didn't think about that. I'll ask later." He smiled.
"At least you'll have better food here. The cafeteria at Stark
Towers is really good." She smiled. "Callia got a bit mean
the other day in there." Joyce gave him a look. "There was a
junior cook picking on one of the guards. Callia heard and saw
how he was hunched down so she stomped in there like some avenging agent
and kicked the cook in the shin. We could all see the bruise pop
"She yelled at her about being mean, even if the guard wasn't nice she
was still more mean. One of the other guards, who hadn't stuck up
for his teammate, called Stark down to corral her. Stark walked
in, listened, fired the cook. Told his daughter to calm down and
that was his job, not hers. Her answer of 'I was here' made him
scowl. She patted the guard on the hand, made sure he was all
better, then huffed off to tell Pepper. Stark told the guard to
write out a report on what had happened and why, then went to talk to
her about picking on mean people before she was old enough to vote."
Joyce grinned. "That's my granddaughter, already socially and emotionally aware."
"We're fairly certain she's a bit empathic like Dawn is," he
agreed. "Whenever anyone she knows is stressed she rushes to them
and hugs them until they're better. She has even had JARVIS send
her to SHIELD to hug Agent Hill when she looked upset. Stark was
"That's dangerous but I can see how good she was."
Coulson nodded. "She was very sweet. She fussed over Agent
Hill, she scowled at Director Fury when he complained. Tried to
kick him in the shin but he moved. She stuck her tongue out at
him, called him a bad asshole, and went back to fussing over Agent
Hill." She cackled. He grinned. "She is one hell of a
"Yes she is. Did she get grounded for swearing?"
"I would have if I hadn't been two floors down. Agent Hill
reminded her not to use those words and let herself be cuddled and
fussed over. Callia cooed, petted her hair, and cuddled her until
she felt much better about breaking up with her boyfriend."
"That's very good of her."
"Then they had ice cream at Callia's suggestion. We made sure hers
had a lot of whipped cream and extra sauce." He grinned.
"Ooh, babies and sugar."
"Yup." They shared a smirk. "Pepper was amused about all of
it but that part." She patted his hand. They pulled into the
parking garage. "Looks like we're here." When they parked
he hopped out first and helped get the gurney out. "I'll tell Tara
you're over here. It's safer for her to visit you here anyway."
"Grandma!" a tiny voice shouted and then she was pounced. "Are you tick?" she demanded, scowling at her.
"I have a cold, dear, the sniffles. They're worried where I was so sick."
"Awww. We make you better." She cuddled her. "Hi, Unclie Phil."
"Hi, Callia. We were just talking about you." Callia
smirked. He patted her hair. "Were you in the wind?"
"Yup. Broken window was fun but they wouldn't let me look."
"I wouldn't either, that's dangerous." They went up together and
he presented her to the doctors in the infirmary. They handed him
Callia while checking her over. Then Callia got handed back once
she was in a proper bed. She snuggled in and they talked about
flowers and penguins and pigeons for a bit. Phil went back to the
office to make a report and to tell Tara where Joyce was so they could
Dawn woke up and tried to stretch. Still tied down. "Can I go to the bathroom?" she asked.
"Yup." Clint got her free and let her go in there. He was
relaxed, calm and sated. Natasha was napping. He was almost
limp enough to nap but it was too warm in the house right now.
Dawn came out and paused. He sat up, he heard something on the
Dawn looked. "Callia, why is there a snake following you and what
are you doing here?" She snatched the snake with magic and banged
it against the wall to kill it.
"Hey! Pretty," she said. She stared at her aunt. "Bath time?"
"Yup." She put on her bikini as quickly as she could. Clint
tossed over his sleeveless t-shirt with a head shake. "Let me put
her back. C'mon, Harry." She grabbed the snake.
"Not Harry, Callia," she complained, pouting.
"I know you're Callia. Harry is a boy in a story that can talk to
snakes." Callia grinned at that. She teleported them back to
Stark Towers, looking around the office. No one.
"Shoot." She snuck out, waving the baby's hand at the staring
secretaries. "I am *not* here. You did not see me so no one
can come looking and attack."
"Yes, ma'am," one said. "Infirmary. Your mother's got a cold."
"Thanks." She rushed for the elevator before more people saw
her. She looked at her niece in the elevator. "How did you
get to us?"
"JARVIS?" she asked with a cute grin.
"I'll talk to him. It's dangerous. What if we hadn't been home?"
"Oooh." She pouted.
"Yeah. So you have to call first. That way we make sure I'm
not naked next time." The doors opened and she looked around then
jogged up the hall and around the corner. Her mother wouldn't be
in the main infirmary. She walked in and handed her to Tony, the
snake to Phil, and hugged her mother. "You'd better get better
"I am, it's just a cold. They worried, that's all. What are you wearing?"
"More than I was when my niece showed up." She gave her an extra
squeeze. Then she turned to hug Phil, hug Tara, hug Tony and
Callia, then Pepper. "Let me go before someone leaks that I'm here
and they try to attack again. Call, Callia, and we'll see if you
can come down, without the snake next time." She disappeared.
Phil and Tony looked at the snake then at her. "Where did you get
that?" Tony asked her. "And how did you get there?"
"That snake looks like the one that escaped from Lab 2 earlier," Bruce
Banner said from the doorway. "The researcher had one brought in
for some tests and it got free while he was feeding it." Phil
handed it back. "Was that Dawn?"
"Yes," Tony said. "Somehow Callia went visiting. JARVIS?" he
called patiently. "The baby is not allowed to beam anywhere
without permission unless it's an emergency."
"Yes, sir. She wanted to see her aunt."
"You're getting mushy in your old age, JARVIS, do I need to do a tune up?" Tony asked.
"No, sir, but she is fairly hard to resist when she pouts."
"You resist it when I do."
"Yes, but she's smaller, cuter, and more innocent, sir."
"Good point." He handed her to Grandma. "Hug Grandma."
Callia snuggled in. "Story about Harry? Auntie say talk to snake."
"I know that story and we're going to start on it next month after I
finish the one you're getting at bedtime," Tony said. She bounced
around. "No visiting anywhere without an adult."
"She say call!" Callia nearly shouted. "Wanted Auntie!"
"I know you did. You ask me and we'll call." Callia nodded
and slumped down against her grandmother's side. "Thank you.
We don't want you to have booboos from that sort of thing." He
took the snake and walked off to throw a fit at JARVIS. The AI had
more sense than that!
Phil looked at Tara, who smiled. "At least we know she's all right and she did put on something."
"Naked. Bath time," Callia said with a grin. "Napping buddies too."
"That's good to know too," Joyce agreed. "I know that wasn't Dawn's shirt."
"No, I believe it was Agent Barton's shirt," he admitted. "I'm not sure if she had clothes on underneath it."
"Bikini," Callia said happily, wiggling some. "I need."
"Only when you can swim," Joyce told her. "Until then you don't
need one." The baby pouted. "That doesn't work on me.
Your mother did the same thing and didn't get her way either." She
Callia looked at Pepper. "Bikini?"
"When you can swim," she agreed. She had been fighting this battle
for weeks and Joyce had just solved it for her. "You have to get
Daddy to teach you to swim." She smiled.
"Daddy!" she yelled.
His voice popped up. "What's happened now?"
"Bikini? Swim me?"
"You can learn how to swim when the pool is fixed," he said
patiently. "You can have a bikini when you're thirteen." He
"They do make baby ones," Pepper said to the ceiling's input camera and
microphone. No answer. "We'll see once you can swim."
Callia bounced around then launched herself at Tara, getting caught by
"Babies!" she said with a point.
"You can pat the babies, you may not pounce," he ordered. "You
could hurt her or the babies." Tara sniffled. Callia
sniffled. They hugged and Callia got down to cuddle and talk to
the babies. She decided they needed to know about teddy bears and
bikinis. He shook his head. "They don't need those until
they can swim."
"So? If know they can want it sooner." She went back to talking to them.
"Someone fed her sugar for lunch," Joyce said quietly. "Callia, what did you have for a snack?"
She looked up and smirked. "Jerky and honey stuff." She went
back to talking to the babies while Tara patted her hair.
"That explains it," Phil said. Joyce nodded. Stark came back. "Honey stuff?"
"I had to take the mead away from her. She wanted to help Thor
drink." They groaned. "No, the sugar is from lunch, when her
nanny gave in and let her have chocolate cereal."
Bruce smiled at him. "She did pout until she got her way."
"She does that. It's a bad habit she needs to drop before she pouts her way into a boyfriend." He looked at Joyce.
Who smiled. "You have to be a bit stronger against the pout."
He sighed. "I try really hard."
"I know, Tony. You're doing good. She could be a lot more spoiled."
"She could, yeah. We've done a pretty good job with her."
She had moved over to Bruce to talk to him about bikinis. "I don't
think he knows about them, Callia. He's blushing. Boys
don't really wear bikinis." She bounced back to talk to Pepper
about them. She wanted one with polka dots. "Sure, when
you're thirteen you can have one of those."
"They do make them in little girl sizes," Pepper said.
"They make push up bras and lingerie in her size too. Doesn't mean she needs them," Tony assured her.
"They do?" Tara asked. Stark nodded. "Someone needs
shot. I need to find that someone." She walked off.
Phil followed to take his gun back and calm her down.
Tony shook his head. "That's why we don't need more kids, Pepper. Mood swings."
"Yours or the mother's?" she asked dryly with a smirk. "Some day I want kids. I might adopt though."
He smiled. "Much easier to adopt. No morning sickness." Tara swatted him. "It is."
"Guys don't get it anyway," she reminded him. "Adopting means there's still a mother somewhere."
"Roque's mother promised to have Clay knocked up," Tony said.
Tara stared at him then shook her head quickly with a moan. "Maybe
Jensen but not Clay. Eww." Phil patted her and let her hug
him to get that awful image out of her head. "Maybe Cougar or
Jensen but not Clay," she muttered.
"Here, Tara, come nap beside me," Joyce said. "I know how tired I
was when I was carrying Buffy. I'm sure twins are harder."
Tara smiled and got in some snuggling time. "Boys like Xander
might too," she said quietly.
"We'd have to take the battle axe," Tony said. He walked off
rubbing his head. He could see Xander doing it. He could
definitely see Xander doing it. He didn't want to, but he could
see him waddling up the hall eating a twinkie, his battle axe over his
shoulder, and pregnant.
Phil shook his head quickly and shuddered. "I'll have to tell John
that. He said he's bored this week." He texted that.
He also texted that to Agent Hill to warn her that Roque's mother was
offering a few select Gods the right to bear their own children.
She asked if she had offered it to Thor and he said he didn't know.
Agent Hill put up her phone and walked over to where Thor was trying to
do a word search puzzle. He was concentrating very hard and
scowling a bit. She looked and pointed. "That's the end
'e'." He smiled and circled it. "Thor, a question just got
raised for later missions." He looked up at her. "Agent
Coulson said that the demigod Roque's mother has offered to help male
gods conceive. If that's part of your later plans, we need to know
so we can take you off missions. Okay?"
He stared at her. "Were you drugged?" he asked.
"No. Can she do that?"
"Aye, and probably will because she's a nagging mother about
grandchildren, like my nephew's is." He squeezed his eyes
shut. "She has not offered it to me and I would rather a wife do
so. I would definitely not fit into my armor and my hammer may not
She patted him on the arm. "If it does happen, we need to know,
but I'm sure your future wife will have a lot of babies for you."
He smiled. "Three or four is good. I do not need some like
the Greeks, who had nine at once. Truly mind altering in a bad
way. That's probably why they fight so." He went back to his
puzzle. "I'll tell if I decide to do that to get my father out of
complaining about my lack of spouse."
"Thank you." She went back to her post. She even wrote a
short report on that to make sure that the director knew Thor knew to
Fury came to his office door a few minutes later. "Agent Hill, I
have you authorized for vacation time starting tomorrow for a
week. Do I need to put on there that you'll be somewhere out of
contact or are you going to a spa or something?"
She smiled. "Thank you, sir. I can definitely go to a spa."
"I'll make sure that's known and we won't bother you for a week."
He went back to his desk. He came out to find another bottle of
advil because now his head ached. "Where is Coulson?"
"He is off-shift, sir, and had plans of taking Tara to Stark Tower so
she could visit with Joyce Summers." Thor looked at her.
"She got a bit sick so they hospitalized her again."
"Tell her I wish her well. She has struggled muchly with illness
and deserves a lot of healthy time before her daughters fuss her into
it." He went back to his puzzle. "Why do people do these for
"To keep their minds sharp." She walked over and pointed.
"There." She heard a beep. "What was that?" she demanded.
"Ma'am, we have a blip of higher energy that is unrelated to Miss Summers going on in the Ukraine."
"Nuclear or otherwise?" she asked, walking over to look at it.
"Oh, another witch. Fairly strong. Not Dawn." She
called Coulson to alert him to that fact - he handled any witch-related
things now since he did so well with Tara and Dawn. He sent it
over to the one who dealt with magic and demons at SHIELD Europe.
Now she knew who to call over there. She made that note and it was
better. Fury came back so she showed him the incident log.
He nodded, taking a few pills and heading for his desk again.
Things were mostly back to normal it seemed.
Now if only their missing members would get back and Tara would give birth.
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