Busted Old Ones.
Natasha was out grocery shopping, it was her turn and she wanted
something specific that no one else seemed to be able to find. So
she was doing her household chores for the week. She was
unfortunately also being stalked. Not followed, because that
implied a lesser threat than an entertainment reporter. She
finally turned to stare at the woman stalking her through the
store. "What do you want?" she asked, free hand resting near her
The reporter took in that body language and smiled more brightly.
"Agent Romanoff, can I have a slight moment of your time about something
that a friend in the entertainment news industry in Russia found out?"
she asked politely.
"We do not comment to reporters outside of Dawn's job," she said firmly.
"You might want to comment on this one since Ameria Roston also got told
and you know she's already searched out a certain set of certificates
from Spain, an island in Malaysia, and one in Africa."
"Excuse me?" she asked, not wincing, though she was shouting at Clint and Dawn.
"Hmm. That's what we thought, especially since there's a priest
who redid a ceremony he never performed in the first place."
"I'm sure if such things are around they are not something I want to comment on."
"Including the fact that you never wear your wedding ring on the correct
finger while on assignment but half the time around town you do?" she
Natasha looked at her hand. She had messed up. It was on her
wedding finger. "As Dawn has said, they are promise rings."
The reporter laughed. "I told my mother that too when I snuck my
marriage past her." She moved closer. "The reporter in
Russia hates you. I have no idea why but she went looking to
discredit you somehow. Finding three wedding certificates made her
"If there are such things, they are probably legal in their locality."
"Yes, but two aren't honored anywhere else in the world, including here
in the US. The only one that is, was done in Spain between your
male partner and Miss Summers." She gave her a pointed look.
"It's going to come out quickly," she said quietly.
"We have been asked about rumors of such in the past," Natasha admitted. "We have not commented then either."
"They made the news over there. Along with the resolution about
how to handle the faked wedding certificate that prince filed. It
was huge news over there. You're still a revolutionary
icon." Natasha winced. "So, it's a bit out there. It
might be best if you three gathered to do something like a statement?"
she asked hopefully.
"We will discuss such matters and tell whoever Dawn likes as we do not know many reporters."
"Well, actually I'm one of Dawn's favorites." She smiled.
Natasha asked Dawn, who agreed she was. "I think it's great that
you somehow have a skill like telepathy?"
"We do not."
"A spell perhaps?"
"Dawn keeps a light tether on us in case of problems."
"Ah, and me showing up activated your 'oh shit' meter." She
smiled. "Sorry but... Better you know before Director Fury
has another heart attack."
"True," she admitted. "Thank you for that information. We'll probably be hiding for a while."
She laughed. "I have no doubt of that, at least until the
scientific gala in two days that Dawn's supposed to be going to."
She smiled. "Have her let me know when you guys have a
comment?" She walked off happier. It was really hard to
fluster someone like Agent Romanoff, but the knowledge that she had just
been outed was not a happy one most people faced.
Natasha finished the shopping, heading back to the apartment.
There was a message on the answering machine. "Romanoff, I'm sure
by now you've been approached by someone," Coulson said. "The one
who went searching due to the prince that wanted Dawn was formerly an
agent, washed out due to physical ugliness according to her records."
"They did only take pretty agents," Natasha told the machine as she put the groceries up.
"She was quite mad that you were the measuring stick they used and she
didn't meet up. She's had over ten thousand dollars of plastic
surgery and still can't match up to you to quote a few of her
coworkers. Therefore she's taking down the icon."
"Wonderful," Natasha said in Russian. "I can make sure she does
not have to worry about being measured next to me." She found her
passport in the drawer the phone was on.
"Fury said you may not go kill her. That's too obvious.
Rosten, in the UK has photocopies up of all three certificates.
She talked to the priest in Spain too. He's being sanctioned
because the church found out during an audit for child molesting
priests. Apparently the bribe was covered up the same way.
So you three need to get together and figure things out.
Today. Fury is gulping cold water and aspirin like he's going to
need the infirmary again," he finished with a sigh. "Though Joyce
is absolutely pleased that Dawn can quit hiding you two." He hung
She hit the button to erase the message, resting her head against the
wall beside the doorway. "Why us?" she muttered. She
finished putting up the groceries and snuck back to the tower, where
everyone was hanging in Pepper's office to go over what was being
shown. She walked in shaking her head, accepting a kiss from Clint
and Dawn. "Coulson said she was a failed trainee."
Dawn nodded. "I did the background check for him because he's with
the new group of future failed trainees for SHIELD." Natasha
moaned. She looked at Clint.
"We did go back and redo the one in Spain. With a new
certificate." Natasha smiled at him. "The other two would
never be counted as legal."
"I'm wondering if the State Department guy found them during that," Dawn said.
Pepper shook her head. "He called and said they had no idea outside what we told them."
Dawn grinned. "Cool." She looked at her lovers. "I'm
leaving the decision up to you two. It's your careers. Half
of everyone already hates me working here because of the magic and then
"She's still getting hate mail due to those, and threatening her to quit warping me," Tony agreed.
Dawn smiled sweetly. "How am I warping you?"
"Who knows. They're mentally feeble. Though it was nice Amnesty wanted me to quit making weapons again."
"You only make them for SHIELD," Steve said.
"I pointed that out."
"We pointed that out on my lj," Pepper agreed. She looked at
Dawn. Who shrugged and pointed. "It's your life too."
"I don't mind, but it's their careers, health, and safety. Therefore I leave that sort of decision up to them."
Clint nodded. "We're going to get it from the other spies we
know," he agreed, looking at Natasha. "It lasted almost two years
since we found out you did it for us."
"It did, and I am impressed. If it had not been for the wannabe...."
"Let's face it," Dawn said, looking at her. "She's like the bimbo assassin bitch, 'Tasha. She's their version."
Natasha laughed. "She is," she agreed, sitting on Clint's knee since there were no free chairs.
"I would've moved," Bruce said but he was grinning at her.
"Mom's really happy," Dawn told him.
"I heard. She nearly squealed when she got to work." They shared a smirk. "So...."
Pepper's phone beeped and she looked at it then online.
"Hmm. One of the lesser SHIELD agents just said he had known, he
saw Barton's ring." Clint growled. She smiled. "He
said you blew it off as a promise ring."
"It is," Clint agreed. "We made promises to each other."
"That is the definition of vows, yes," Pepper said with a smile.
"So, what are we doing? No one but the old people on the Board of
Directors are going to say anything to Dawn. They'd probably think
it was nicely keeping her in check."
"One of them did ask me after the last meeting if he had paddled me for
that asteroid. I politely pointed out if he ever raised a hand to
me everyone could wonder what happened to him forever and ever, and that
I wasn't powerful enough for that." She crossed her legs, looking
at her spouses. They both shrugged. "I'll go along with it,
you know that. The only big decisions I ever rule in on are
what's for dinner when I'm craving something specific."
They shared a look and a private talk, mostly about tying Dawn down to
relieve the low self esteem moment. "We will announce that one of
us did arrange them," she said finally.
Clint nodded. "Want me to take responsibility?"
"No," Natasha said. "We will leave it as one of us. That you didn't find out until later."
"Want my code to post on my lj?" Dawn offered.
Natasha looked at her. "That's a bit crude." She pointed at the computer.
"They're checking it every few minutes for an announcement," Pepper
said. "It's linked into the story." Natasha moaned.
"Here, come upload something," she told her, moving away from the
Dawn waved a hand. "Sit, Pepper. I have it on my
phone." She got into it and let Natasha log into her livejournal
account so she could get onto Dawn's journal. She and Clint were
the only allowed posters there. Natasha sighed but took it to put
up something. Clint took it from her to correct. Then handed
it to Dawn, who read it, corrected the grammar. "Tense switches,
"Put it in the present tense," Tony ordered. "That way they don't think you're getting a divorce because of this."
Dawn corrected herself and let them see it, getting a nod. Natasha
hit the button to post it. She smiled at Pepper, who reloaded the
page. "While we are not happy that some failed agent trainee is
mad at Natasha for being a better agent, we do have to admit that
Natasha has filed for marriage licenses for us," Pepper read. "It
was done in such a way that they are legal somewhere, but only one is
legal in the US. We later found out about them and have worked out
that we're happy the way we are. We are not accepting any new
questions on the relationship, especially not about any upcoming
children that may be planned. Yes, when we found out she had us
married, we did get rings, they are beautiful, and we are happy with
everything in our lives. Thank you for allowing us to stay
happy. Natasha, Clint, and Dawn," she finished, then
"I agree, that rates an Aww," Bruce quipped with a smile. "They are pretty rings."
"Bia wondered why I didn't wear a band and solitaire but I told her we
liked this one," Dawn said with a grin. She looked at them.
"Am I buying the ones for our fifth anniversary and does that mean
they're matching earrings?"
"Not. A. Chance," Clint ordered with an evil smirk for
her. She grinned back. "Pain in my ass wife," he taunted
then kissed her, making her laugh.
Natasha took her own kiss. "It is a bad idea to be so marked," she
agreed with a smile. "But if we go somewhere there is a risk of
you being kidnaped again you are wearing a large, sparkly ring to make
sure everyone sees it this time." She looked at Clint. "So
He grinned. "We're both hers to quote Dawn."
Natasha laughed. "Yes, we are." Dawn smirked and nodded.
Pepper reloaded the page. "Jonathan said that those who were
important already knew that and if Dawn got pregnant anytime soon,
Andrew's wife would probably do the same, to let them finish figuring
out how to work a male pregnancy to spare Andrew's wife getting pregnant
and having hormone swings." She reloaded it again. "Two
requests for interviews."
Dawn pulled out her phone to log on. She edited the statement to
say they were not giving interviews, sorry. Pepper laughed.
Tony looked and nodded that was a good idea. "No, no interviews,"
Clint begged. "I hate the press. We let Dawn handle all the
press things in the family."
"Then I'd learn how to teleport home," Tony said, staring at his computer. "Your building is covered with reporters."
Dawn looked then called Tara to warn her. On Tony's phone, Tara
came outside and announced Dawn was at work and they were upsetting her
kids, to please go away. They knew where Dawn worked and all the
Avengers were there as well. The reporters packed up and came to
Stark towers instead.
"At least we'll have a good crowd in the food shops across the street," Tony said, putting his phone up.
"That's so warped," Steve told him but he was smiling.
"Profit's all good," Pepper quipped back.
Bruce shook his head. "I'm glad my relationship is normal and not usually subject to press scrutiny."
Dawn looked at him. "Feel really lucky that Mom can't get pregnant
or they'd be hounding her about every single weight fluctuation."
"One of the style reporters got onto you for the hair you missed that
they caught sight of," Pepper said dryly. "And that you had to
remove someone for their safety."
Dawn shrugged. "What do I care?"
"They did like the dress," Tony said. Dawn grinned. "Said
they wondered if the stomach was so loose because you might be
"No, I've gained an extra five pounds," Dawn said dryly. She
rolled her eyes and looked at Bruce. "Feel really lucky Mom
doesn't get this."
"I am." He shifted. "I want to see the twins. Not Tara's, but Diana and Artemis."
"The last we heard, they were naked little white-blonde girls," Dawn
quipped with a grin. "Who torment Fenrir and their brothers."
Tony snickered. "I can see that." He looked at Bruce. "They should be back soon."
"Maybe," he agreed. "Sean too?"
"Ronon's offered to take him in for training," Dawn said. She
looked at her desk as the phone rang. "Sheila, is that important?"
"It's your mother," she called back.
Dawn got up to get it. "Why didn't you call my cell, Mom?"
She smiled at the 'the phone is probably tapped' answer. "Could
be. Sure, be gushy, Mom. Thanks. No, Natasha wrote
it. Yeah, that was my contribution. Thanks, Mom. Come
for lunch?" She smiled. "That's great, yup. See you
then." She hung up. "I'm going to SHIELD for lunch, bosses."
"Fine," Pepper agreed with a smile. "Reporters won't pounce you there."
"We hope," Tony said.
"Fury will have them shot," Bruce said. "He's already threatened once when they started to crowd the entry."
Dawn nodded. "He's not exactly the mushy sort."
"I think he traded that and part of his soul for power," Tony quipped.
"He did not," Steve complained. "He did a lot of the same agent
work for years, Tony." Tony flapped a hand. "Even if he is a
bit controlling and manipulative." Bruce nodded that was true.
Dawn got a text. "That's accounting, be right back," she said,
getting up and heading down there. She walked in a few minutes
later. "What's up, Delilah?" she asked.
"First, congrats on that finally coming out. Second, we found a
questionable budget line in the old ones and looked back. We're
still putting money toward three things that are ended."
Dawn looked at those projects' files. "We are. Huh."
She smiled. "I'll tell Tony you caught that." She pointed at
her MBA student helper. "I'll tell Tony she caught it
then." She smiled, heading back up there to pull up the
budget. "Hey, boss?" she told Tony once it was up on her
tablet. "We've been putting money out to find Cap now for the last
ten years and never stopped it."
"What?" he demanded, looking at it. He looked at the other two. "We ended those."
"Delilah's assistant Brit, the one going for her MBA, found it."
"The one who sent her homework up?" he asked. She smiled and
nodded. "Well, if she was looking for problems that was
one." He took it to look over. "So where did that money
go?" He got into the various accounts for Stark International with
Pepper's help, looking over it. "Huh, she found embezzlement and a
budget anomaly. She gets a better bonus than you do, Dawn."
"She deserves it," Dawn agreed. "You told me not to worry about
what each budget line was for." Tony grinned because he had.
"Should I call someone to arrest someone?"
"It looks like we have a few snakes and I can find them," Tony
said. "Then call someone." He got up to take that to his
office and JARVIS. Pepper's office was a bit too public half the
time. Of course he walked in and found Andrew and MB going at
it. "People, you have a suite," he said bluntly. MB
yipped. "Sorry." He walked off. "Going to the lab to
do this," he yelled.
"Sure," Dawn called. She got bottles of water and a washcloth,
going to hand it to whoever had gotten walked in on. "You're not
the first," the told the embarrassed geeks. "I broke up a
chemistry orgy the other day." She handed the supplies over with a
smile then left.
"That's who told me," MB admitted, sipping her water. Andrew made
her sweaty and thirsty. He kissed her and decided they'd probably
have more privacy now. It was a great thing for them.
"Andrew," she moaned. "We should go find somewhere else."
"He won't be coming back for hours." He kissed her and got back to
making her squeal like Dawn did. He loved making her squeal and
Dawn walked into Pepper's office with a smile. "The chemists told MB that they had the orgy in Tony's office."
Pepper cackled, shaking her head. "Is that who he
interrupted?" Dawn smiled and nodded. "If she conceives we
get to name it." Dawn grinned.
Bruce shook his head. "I do not want to imagine that," he
complained, rubbing his forehead. He texted Joyce, who sent one
back. "She caught AJ and his girlfriend on Fury's desk the other
night christening his new office. Fury walked in behind her and
the guy was apparently very upset he had survived the specially created
heart attack poison."
"There's a bunch of power hungry assholes over there," Dawn said.
"Let me get back to work." She took kisses and petted Liz on the
head. She got pouted at so kissed her too. "You
behave. Make Grandpa teach you physics today. It made Callia
really smart when her daddy did that for her." She went back to
Pepper smiled at Bruce. "Tony refused to let us use baby talk,
told us to explain things to her like we would a mini genius. He
refused to let us baby her at all."
"She's a smart little girl. Hopefully Liz will be able to keep up with her whirlwind since she's a lot like her dad."
"Very," Pepper agreed. She looked at the other three
Avengers. "You three go play." They went to the other tower
to see how things were looking. Bruce went to his lab to get
something done and send Joyce a mushy text message.
Callia came out to walk her dog with one of the guards. There were
a lot of yelling people. "Shut up before you scare my dog!" she
shouted back. They quit trying to rush the barriers holding them
back. "Thank you!" One of the reporters shouted at her about
her aunt. She looked at her. "You sure shout a lot.
Is that a mental condition or a physical one? I can talk to our
people who make drugs so you can get help."
The reporter blushed and backed down, slumping behind someone
else. "You should not be asking a child my age about their sex
life anyway. It's bad enough someone yelled that at Daddy and he
had to tell me what they were talking about." She walked off with
her dog. "Don't worry, Xander puppy, we won't let you turn into a
reporter even if Auntie Dawn does turn you into a human. They ask
strange things to the wrong person. You'd think they'd know
better," she told her dog. Who had stopped to pee on a light
post. "Thank you. Good Xander puppy."
The guard with her called in that they needed help removing the
reporters from the entrance and that her father should probably have a
talk with her later on. He loved Callia like his own, even if she
was mouthy and impolite like her father.
Tony got the message from one of the guards and looked up security
footage, bursting out laughing. He sent that to Pepper and Dawn.
Dawn looked in the office when Pepper burst out laughing, checking her
email. She groaned and walked down there, staring at the
reporters. "The next one of you that asks my
almost-seven-year-old-niece sex questions about my life, I'm kicking the
ass of." They all nodded. "Am I clear?" They nodded
again. "Good. Now, we've made a statement. You've
already made them hide from even me. Do you mind? This means
I have to cook dinner." They groaned and huffed off.
"Thanks." She smiled and waved. Then walked inside shaking
her head. "Callia was right, I'd never do that to a dog."
The guards on the front desk laughed. You had to when things got that insane around the office.
In a fairly well hidden, nondescript building in London, a tall, fit,
athletic, thirtyish-looking white man was having some tea in a hidden
break room that usually only the secretaries in the agency used.
One of his coworkers came in to make his own tea, looking at him once
the cup of water was in the microwave to heat. "So that was her?"
He nodded, looking at the news stories about the 'big
announcement'. "Romanoff made sure I knew that touching what was
hers was going to get my balls ripped off." He smiled.
"She's a nice young woman. I spent a week scoping her out for the
"You said she beat you pretty badly."
"Barton let on that she'd been kidnaped a lot." He looked
over. "Then again, we've all heard the rumors that Barton and
Romanoff have been seeing each other on and off for decades now."
His coworker nodded. "I caught sight of them having at it while on
assignment in Greece because they had to get in with some
swingers." He smirked. "She's a pretty girl."
"She's a very pretty but polite young woman. She was doing good against me with two bruised ribs."
"Huh." He nodded. "Figures that they trained her to live in
their lives with them." He took his cup out to put in a tea bag
when the microwave beeped. "Think she's at least helping as an
"No. She's Stark's personal assistant and the one in the chainmail
at the battle they had." His coworker shuddered. "I
should've looked at the history they did for me before I approached
her. Sister's a slayer, who's not on earth right now." His
coworker gave him an odd look. "She's on Asgard."
"They needed a slayer?"
"She married one."
"Well, they're warriors so I guess he understood her duty and all that
rot." He sipped the tea and dunked the bag a few times before
tossing it out. "Are the bosses getting interested?"
"Only that since that day, if there's a problem in the UK, Romanoff or
someone sends them to me. Alexander sent me one. Apparently
the sort that really want us to have our own team had plans of snatching
her and getting her up the duff. Working with some really shady
arseholes to do so too." He shook his head. "So I nicely
helped shut them down." He smiled. "They had all sorts of
bad plans, including picking agents to have them contribute against
"I'd have destroyed them."
"They let me do it for Dawn." He smiled. "Because I can only
imagine she'd create a pretty hell after what she did to that
His coworker shuddered. "It'd probably be nicer than either Barton
or Romanoff would do to them for touching their wife." He walked
off with his tea.
"Probably," he agreed, going back to the paper. His bosses had
seriously underestimated that young woman. So had he because he
hadn't done his own homework. That had taught him that lesson very
well. He got up and went back to his desk. Gossip was
running all over the floor about how the bosses had wanted to recruit
her. He looked at one, shaking his head. "No, they wanted
*me* to recruit her so they could get Stark's plans." That got a
moan. "She's a bit mean too. She was beating me pretty well
with two bruised ribs before Romanoff shot me then warned me off."
That agent walked off hugging herself to get warmth back in her
body. Their bosses had bad plans and she didn't want any part of
it. They had tried to get her to go sex up Stark for his plans but
he was back with Potts by that time. Thankfully. There was
no telling what Summers would've done to her for it.
Dawn smiled, accepting the vase of flowers to check the card.
"Thank you." She signed and grinned, handing him a tip.
"Thank your embassy for me too." He blushed and left. She
thought at Natasha, who was sparring. She came over from the other
building, staring at the flowers. "The delivery guy was that one
at the Spanish embassy you were taunting last time."
Natasha took the card and read it over the bond. Clint burst out
cackling. "Some of the other spies and assassins we know are happy
for us." She took the flowers with her to show them off.
Dawn settled in to pay her bills. Including calling one in.
"Sorry, Harry. Yeah, I'm sure you did. Send me the
slip? No, spazzing over the movie. Thanks, man. Yup,
we're good. In the training level of the other tower.
Thanks. Yup, tell him I'm happy he brought them down too.
Thank you." She hung up. "I didn't know that agent that came
here from the UK was a relation to Harry. Huh. Small spy
world." She got back to the rest of the bills then settled in to
check her accounts. One was suspiciously low. She tracked
that bit of money grabbing and sent a spell at whoever had done
it. They put it back and her former investment person was very
sorry. Which was nice. She needed a new one soon. She
was on break so she could start a search on her tablet for that.
Pepper came out. "Forbes wanted to know how your net wealth jumped."
"I took the money I had in my backup identity out and I just stopped my investment guy who hated that I'm taken from stealing."
"Good to know." She went back to tell him that. It was very
nice of Dawn to admit she had a backup identity in case of
emergencies. Clearly it was being switched since she had admitted
it. "Dawn?" Dawn leaned in. "You had how much there?"
"I needed more there to aid in freedom of movement so I could get away from people like that church. Why?"
"You had a lot."
"Poker," she said blandly, grinning at her boss before sitting up
again. She finished the bill paying and it was great. She
had forgotten the AmEx bill.
Pepper repeated that and the reporter groaned. "I doubt she'd let
you do a story on her. She's a bit worried about that sort of
thing. Yes, kitten poker. Well, I know one paid her in mini
gold bars," she offered. "Other than that, no idea. I know
she only has one cat." She smiled. "That her investment guy
was stealing from her so she just got him off her accounts." That
got a nod and he said something. "Dawn, did you turn him in to his
"Yes. And the police out there."
"Yes, she said she did." She leaned back, checking on the napping
baby. Who was staring at her sucking on her fingers. "Thank
you for asking. I can do that." She sent him at Tony, they
did a lot of articles on him and his philanthropy. She walked out
there again with Liz. "Do you donate to charity?"
"I do. I donate to four charities outside of clothing and food
donations. I donate to a shelter for abused men. I donate to
a children's shelter that takes in street kids. I donate to a
group that helps people with their GEDs so they can do something beyond
be homeless or really poor. And I donate to a group that gives
money to cancer charities." She smiled up at her. "I use the
Stark matching funds plan to up my one to the shelter for abused men
because they need it the most."
"That's good. I didn't know there were ones just for men."
"Most of them won't take in abused men."
"I didn't even think about that. Send me their information?"
Dawn smiled as she dug it out for her. "Thanks, Dawn." She
and Liz settled in to look it over so they could donate. She
needed a few new places to donate to for tax time and she'd never use a
place she couldn't support. Liz liked them, she kept taking the
pamphlet to gum on. Pepper handed her a teething biscuit instead,
getting a grin and her drooling on it. "I know. It's time to
cut another tooth." She went back to reading without the
Dawn got the food from the delivery guy, weathering the shocked and awed
look he had. She smiled and tipped him. "Even I have to
eat." He swallowed and nodded. "Have a good, safe night,
dude." She closed the door and looked at her spouses.
"There's no way I'm going to a grocery store in the near future," Clint said firmly.
"I don't like what they pick when they deliver it for us," Natasha agreed.
Dawn shrugged. "I'll go grocery shopping tomorrow after work so
you two can hide," she promised, handing over the bag of chinese
food. She went to get drinks. They were mostly out except
for after-sparring gatorade and a few bottles of water. She
brought them out. Clint stared at her. "Not like I've picked
up anything. I've have overtime thanks to the Board." She
sat down, taking her carton to dig into. Her phone rang.
"Fuck." She floated it over, answering it. "What's up,
boss? Yes, I did swear at you. Tell JARVIS I'm fine."
She ate a bite of lo mein, chewing slowly. "Boss, tell them I
don't care what they think? Fine. I'll be right there.
"I need to pick up stuff to drink anyway." She hung up and took
her food with her. She teleported over to avoid the press on the
building's steps. She landed in the board room, staring at
them. "Fuck the hell off." They gasped and stared at
her. "I don't care what *anyone* thinks about my
relationship. It's been a really long week. My spouses are
hiding from the press. You've had me working overtime because of
your ten meetings in the last week. Even I deserve a night
off. Any other questions or comments?"
"His personal assistant really can't be breaking the law," one said snidely but smiled at her.
"I didn't file for those. I had nothing at all to do with that and
the only one I attended was mine with Clint in Spain." She ate
another bite, staring at her. "If you don't like it, yay," she
said once she had swallowed. "Because, I never asked your opinion
and as long as Tony and Pepper don't care, why would I care what people
who don't pay my paycheck want?"
"We can take over for Miss Potts. It's clear she's gotten soft," the snide one noted.
"Really?" She smiled. "That'd be really hard to do.
You have no legal reason, and no legal recourse as the board is really
just for show. Haven't you guys realized that Obadiah made you
guys obsolete?" They gasped. "He pushed through a vacation
measure as he called it? You guys never read it." She pulled
it up and let them read it now. "Tony's already disbanded you
once. He can do it again. He doesn't need a board. He
doesn't need any input really."
She smiled sweetly. "Also, you might not be aware of
something." She pulled up another thing that Obadiah had pushed
through. "That made all of you honorary, not paid." They
gasped. She smiled. "You guys have a nice night off as
well. I'm going to try to enjoy the rest of mine." She
looked at Pepper and Tony, who smiled and waved. "Let me know if
we have another one, I'll do the minutes and all that." She walked
off finishing her dinner.
Tony cleared his throat. "I knew. I read those
things." He smiled. "I got it after the fact and laughed my
ass off that he made you all an unnecessary burden. Have a nice
"Meeting adjourned," Pepper said happily. "That way I can go get
Liz from Callia and her pets." They stomped off complaining.
She looked at Tony. "She's a bit pissed off."
"They haven't left the apartment in three days, Pepper." He smiled. "She's a bit frustrated with them."
"I would be too. I'd blow up at them though."
"I'll remind her swearing in public is really not good for her public
image." He tapped out a text to Natasha about Dawn's temper
getting high again and maybe she might have a cure for it. "Let's
see what her spouses do." He smiled at Pepper. "You sure you
want to get Liz, Pep?"
"Yes. I'm certain." She got up and they went up there to
save the baby from the pets and the nanny. Liz was crying when
they got up there. Callia was trying to calm her down and looking
upset herself. "What happened?"
"The nanny called me an animal hoarder and said she was calling the
pound," Callia said, starting to cry. "She was going to take my
"Over her dead body," Pepper said. "Where is she?" Callia pointed at the closet. "Did you use your powers?"
"No. I used Dummy. He knew I was upset." She hugged
her daddy. Liz got calmed down by her mom. "She's mean,
Dad. I don't like her. Do I need a nanny?"
"You're too young to be by yourself. Sometimes you need someone to watch you and your aunt's busy."
She looked at him. "I still don't like her and if she stays she's
going off the patio railing." She put her head back down, looking
and counting her pets to make sure they were all right. The mean
bitch was going to get it.
"No revenge," Pepper warned. "You're not old enough for it
yet." Callia stared at her. "I mean it." She slumped
but nodded. Pepper and Tony shared a look. She got these
moods. They weren't sure from where. Joyce and Dawn didn't
usually have them unless they were threatened. But then again, it
could be the future slayer impulses.
Coulson appeared, looking at Callia. "You can't kill anyone
yet. You're not old enough and if you do, you come to SHIELD as a
future agent instead of a geek."
She shuddered, shrinking back against her father's neck. "I won't
hurt anyone. I don't want to be an agent. They're not nice
and they hate animals and they never get lab time. I'd hate that."
"Good. Remember that." Phil opened the closet door to stare at
her. "Doing your background check again, we found out what
security missed. How are your bosses in Afghanistan?" She
shrieked and tried to hit him. He froze her, smiling some.
"Hi, Agent Phil Coulson." She was whimpering. "You will
leave this building. You will never consider coming near Callia
again unless it is to save her life. You will leave her, her pets,
her parents, all her family, all of everyone she knows, alone.
Permanently. Am I clear?" She made agreeing noises.
"Good." He unfroze her and pointed. "You have a nice life,
Agent Khradt." She stomped off. He stared then at
Stark. "I'd suggest a SHIELD agent but I know you don't want one."
"No, I don't," he agreed. He put Callia down and looked at
her. "Check your pets over, clean up after them, then we'll
talk." She nodded, running to pet each one and check on
them. He looked at Phil. "I don't know what we're doing."
"I do. I'll talk to Talsa. They have a few women who can
fill in. I'll make sure she's one of the more modern ones."
Tony smiled. "That way they don't freak about leotards, lab time,
or anything else." He went back to the temple to talk to
her. She had a young one who had a fascination with computers and
knew that girls did things like gymnastics. She had found some
diving on tv and asked Jensen about such things. He explained them
and got her online to view different sports. She got brought to
the tower and introduced to Callia, who was wary but the woman made
friends with Carrot and petted the cats.
Tony looked at them. "It's Callia's job to take care of her pets unless we're out of town."
"Yes it is," she agreed. "That's her job because they're
hers. Same as Valkyries have to handle their nags." Callia
laughed and petted the Tony cat. Pepper smiled and she looked at
Liz. "You must be cutting teeth. I had three of you before
my husband stomped off with them to his hussy."
"He took the kids?" Pepper asked, looking confused.
"She wanted my little demons to prove she was his *real* mate."
She smirked. "My son's a true bred, hot blooded warrior. She
wasn't happy and they came back. They're all grown now."
She looked at the baby. "You'll grow up just as strong."
"I will and some day we'll have to learn about the suit stuff."
The new nanny smiled. "I don't bother with that stuff. I'm to take care of you, not your father."
Callia grinned. "You're not mean to animals, right?"
"No, I'm not. I'm used to my kids bringing home half the
forest. My daughter has true healing for animals. We've had a
houseful of deer, wolves, and squirrels at times by the end of
winter." Tony walked off smiling. "Let's go over your
schedule." She nodded, going over what she needed to be doing and
what she had to do. Pepper put in a few things too, like family
dinners. That was fine because she loved eating with the family.
Xander appeared holding a carpet bag. "Here, Beya." She took
it with a smile. "Callia, Beya is a very strong mother.
She'll nag about things like clothes on the floor."
"I should put them in the basket. If I don't take care of them
they look bad and then I do." She looked at her aunt. "I'm
"We'll shop soon." Callia beamed and nodded. "We can even pull your aunt out of the house."
"She might like that. Can we pull both aunts?"
"I'll try." She patted her on the head, letting her steal Liz. "You know you're going to be handing her back soon."
"I can cuddle until she poops." She looked at Beya. "She's
not mine so I can hand her back when she poops until I'm babysitting for
real." She grinned. "It's like being an aunt or a granma."
"It is," she agreed happily. Liz gummed on her finger and cooed at
them. "Hello, Liz." She patted her on the foot. She
settled in to learn how to get along with these two and their very pushy
parents. Xander left her there so it was good. The kids
needed someone steady.
Dawn came home with groceries. The cab driver was giving the
reporters a look but she shrugged and got out after paying him. He
popped the trunk. "If you're going to stand there being useless,
help me get the groceries out of the cab, people. If not, go the
fuck away." A few came to help her. "Thank you." She
smiled at them. "Now, go home. I'm sure you have people who
are wondering if you're still alive." She got everything inside
and shut the front door of the building again, locking it. They
all had keys. By this time of night everyone should be in anyway,
except maybe Maria. She heard crying and looked up,
concentrating. She took the groceries up to Tara's apartment
first, knocking. "Are you okay? I could hear you crying in
"I'm fine. It's a mood swing," she sniffled, hugging her. "I
don't know why I'm having them so early or why I'm broadcasting!"
Maria came out to hug her.
"Sometimes it happens early, each pregnancy is different," Maria said,
walking her off. She looked at the bags. "You were brave."
"I was." She grinned and took things back down to the kitchen,
putting them inside then going back for the rest from the
elevator. She locked the door and looked around. No
one. Great. She put things up and settled in to watch some
tv. They'd quit pouting sometime. She hoped.
"Not pouting," Clint yelled from upstairs.
"Then I wouldn't be alone," Dawn called. It'd been a shitty
week. Of course, something was going to happen. She could
feel it building and looked outside. "Great, a problem." She
grabbed some supplies and went to see what was going on. It was
clearly magical since it was glowing. She found that society witch
there and snapped, beating her ass. "Do not do anything that
would hurt people," she said as she hit her. "How fucking stupid
are you! Did you think that we wouldn't notice?" The witch
started to cry. "I don't care what you want to bring back,
necromancy is always wrong!"
Agents came rushing up. "Save me! She's mean! I'm trying to bring back my dog!" she sobbed.
Dawn looked at her. Then at the agents. She didn't know any
of them. "Necromancy is still wrong, right?" They
nodded. She looked at her. "I know some people have furkids
instead of human kids. I'm all for that. I have a cat
myself. You don't try to destroy people to bring back the dog
though!" The witch cowered away from her. She huffed and
looked at the agents. "Have fun." She walked off.
Fortunately there was a mugger in the park. The agent following
her hissed when she beat his ass. But she felt better.
"Miss Summ.... Um, Mrs. Barton, let's get you home," the smarter
of the three agents said, walking her around the begging idiot.
"I'll get him an ambulance." He called that in. The director
was amused but they were sure it was something her husband could
cure. He delivered her back to the building. Where other
reporters were babbling about what was going on. "She stopped the
witch trying to siphon off the city to raise her dog, people."
They were still pushing to get closer to them. "Leave her
alone! I'm with SHIELD!" They backed down. "Thank
you!" He walked her inside and up to her apartment, tapping and
getting Natasha. "Agent Romanoff.... um, Barton, she's solved the
night's problem and a mugger is now going to go straight. Here, I
made sure she made it home safely." He walked off making notes on
his phone. Joyce wasn't moody that way so it had to be a marital
fight of some sort. He wasn't married yet so he had no idea how to
help solve it.
"A mugger?" Natasha asked her.
Dawn huffed. "He jumped out at me with a knife. Fuck
him." She walked off, taking the stairs down to the gym.
Maybe she'd get some running time in. She was nearly instantly
joined by Cap so she went to the temple and the obstacle course.
She ran into the Losers on it and shrugged. "Frustrated and pissed
off, people. Let me work it out of my system."
"Can only do those extra five pounds good," Clay agreed. She
smiled and punched him on the arm. "Go for it, Summers." She
took a running jump to get the rope higher up. She still couldn't
climb ropes but this one had hand-holds. The other ropes didn't
but this one did. Clay watched, shaking his head.
"Great. They haven't fucked recently," he muttered. He sent a
note at Roque to go talk to them. It got delegated to John when
he was finished with his date.
Xander looked up. "Let me go talk to them." He sighed,
sending himself to their apartment, then down to the gym. "She's
on the obstacle course. What happened this time?"
"Nothing," Clint said, glaring at him.
Xander stared at him. "Really? You sure? She's a bit
frustrated," he said sarcastically. "So I doubt it was really
nothing." He looked up. "Why is Tara crying?"
"Hormone swing," Natasha said. "She said Dawn checked."
"Okay. I'll have someone make her some herbal sleeping
help." He looked at them again. "This pisses her off just as
much and rattled her just as much. She's not really all that
comfortable around the press; she fakes it really well. Stark
taught her well." They both grimaced. "Beyond that, it
wasn't like everyone didn't know who you were so it's not ruining you
going back to work sometime in the near future. Shit, people,
Barton was in People last week on their sexy list. Again."
Clint shuddered, slumping down onto a weight bench.
"Do you honestly think that you could go back to work?" They shook
their heads, looking down. He flinched, looking west. "Dawn
just fell." He disappeared. "Hey," he said, nudging Cougar
out of the way. "You fell?" She nodded, doing some deep
breathing. "Let me see." He checked. Her leg was at a
bad angle, a very bad angle. "That's going to suck. But hey,
maybe an air cast so it won't itch so much."
She was biting her lip now. "Just set it and I can start the healing," she said through it.
"Nope, can't. Tiny bone shards might cause problems. Let's
get you to the infirmary at work." He picked her up with Cougar's
help and took her there. The night shift nurse looked at
him. "She slipped and fell on the obstacle course."
"I can see she broke something." She got the x-ray machine to look at it. "I'll page the night doctor, Dawn."
"Next time, go in the daytime," she chided.
Xander snorted. "Real agents have to be able to do it in the pitch
black," he told her. "Dawn can usually live up to that standard."
"I slipped off one of the climbing ropes. I was trying to get the
one with the handholds and I couldn't hold on," Dawn told her.
"I'll never be able to climb a rope." She laid back, getting
comfortable. Xander smiled. "I'm fine. Thank you,
"Welcome. Want me to tell them?"
"They can hear me swearing about it I'm sure," she said dryly. He
nodded, leaving her there. She looked at the nurse. "Advil?"
"Gladly." She handed her two packets and some water. "Did you eat dinner?"
"Chinese." She swallowed them then half the bottle of water.
The doctor came in pulling off his jacket. "Hey, Dr.
Shivs." That was as close as she could come to pronouncing his
name so he let them call him that. Most everyone in the building
"Evening, Dawn. What did you do?"
"Slipped on Xander's obstacle course. I didn't catch the right
rope and slipped off it." He nodded, looking at the x-rays.
"Xander said I had tiny bone shards."
"Not many." He moved to set it for her, making her grab the table
and hold on with a hiss of pain. "One more," he soothed, adjusting
it. "There." He did another x-ray to make sure,
nodding. "That's nearly perfect." He smiled. "Cast
color of choice?"
"Air?" she offered. He shook his head. "Damn. I can start the healing."
"No. Give it two days to make sure it settles in well," he
ordered. He pulled out the casting material. "We have blue
and neon green."
She looked. "Gray?" He pulled that out and worked on getting
it the right sort of wet. She relaxed. She hurt. She
really did. And she was exhausted. She fell asleep before
they got to casting it for her.
The doctor shook his head. "Things must be tense at home," he said
quietly. "Call her spouses when we're done." She nodded,
helping by holding the limb in place. "What did you give her?"
"Advil." She pointed at the empty packets.
He looked and nodded. "Must be the press things." He got it all set and let it dry, heading back home.
The nurse propped it up slightly so air could get all around the wet
cast, going to the office to call. "Agent Barton, this is the
night shift nurse at the infirmary in Stark tower. Dawn's
here. She's sleeping. No, not sedated, a natural one.
No, she fell on the obstacle course. She said she slipped off a
rope. She's fine. The doctor wanted her to sleep herself out
so she might not be home tonight. You as well, sir." She
hung up so she could make a note in Dawn's chart. It was getting a
bit thick but it was thankfully digital.
Clint hung up, looking at Natasha. "She fell off a rope on the obstacle course at the temple."
"She's done that before," she admitted. "I noticed she quit swearing."
"She's asleep. Shivs said to let her nap."
Natasha nodded. "Did she say what sort of injury? Back, arm?"
"No." They went to the infirmary. The reporters were worried
about some witch and her attempt to raise her dog but they didn't know
anything about that. It must've been what Dawn had been handling
to work off some frustration. They got there and they stared at
the cast. That was not a good sign. "She can't heal it?" he
"Dr. Shivs said to give it a few days to settle into placement," she
said. "Let her sleep." They nodded, settling around her
bed. "You all need rest as well."
"We will," Clint assured her. She stared. He shrugged.
"We will. I promise we will. When she wakes up we'll go
"She might be here in the morning."
"Not like we've got things to do tomorrow," Natasha said. She
sighed, settling into a chair. They hadn't had a run of missions
since the battle of New York. This was the longest dry spell
they'd ever had. Maybe they needed to run some of their own.
He looked at her. "We can," she said quietly.
"They won't let us, Nat."
She shifted, shrugging slightly. "I'm bored."
Dawn moaned and flipped over, wincing. "Ow." She sighed and
dropped back into her mind to get some rest. It was the only way
she got to sleep when she was by herself. She was in enough pain
that she couldn't tell where her spouses were and she wasn't facing
Clint sighed, staring at her. "Can we move her to a private room?"
he mouthed. The nurse shrugged and pointed at the cast.
They checked, it was mostly dry. He picked up Dawn, making her
squeak and flail. "Relax, Dawn."
"Clint." She held her head. "I slipped off a rope."
"I did that a few times too." Since she was up they went home in a
cab. The reporters were all staring in horror. "She was at
Alexander's and fell, people." They were still too quiet.
Natasha glared. They decided to go somewhere else.
Finally. He helped her upstairs and onto the couch, making her
groan as she stretched out. "Single?"
"Compound. Not poking through though."
"That sucks." He kissed her. "Want to talk?"
"I'm up, so sure," she said, making herself sit up. She banged the
cast and winced. "Have to remember not to do that."
He pulled her around so her foot could rest in Natasha's lap and she
could lean against his side. "Better. We're
frustrated. All this means we can never go back to our original
Dawn looked at him. "I thought that was a given when people came up to you for autographs."
"Well, slightly. We were hoping the movie would blur who we were."
She shook her head. "Not likely. He did fantastic but you're not that close in looks."
He nodded. "I didn't want to think about that."
"I know. Which is why I let you two pout for the last week and a
half." They both groaned. She shifted and winced.
"We'll figure it out, just like always."
"We're trying to find things to do around the tower," Natasha said.
"There's training, training future agents," she offered. "Maybe
not in the field but you'd have to retire from that eventually.
You're both getting older and the next major injury could leave you out
of the field. Then what were you going to do?"
They shrugged. "We never think that far ahead," Clint said. "It's counter-productive."
"Well, we can adopt," Dawn offered.
"No, if we have kids, you or Nat is having them," Clint assured her.
"I meant a dog. Maybe train seeing eye dogs or security dogs?"
He considered it. "I can't do that. Nat has the
patience. I'd just play with them." Dawn nodded that was
true. He was often found playing with Callia's pets. Dawn
yawned. "We can talk tomorrow."
"I still have to work, even if I do have to find an old type of skate to
hitch to it." She got up carefully. "Let's go to bed.
I'm exhausted." They nodded, going in with her. She was
there for them but it was tiring her out. She flopped down.
She glared at her foot but shifted it so it was comfortable. Then
she sighed in pleasure. "I'm not moving."
"Teeth?" Natasha asked with a smile.
"I don't care. I'll care in the morning." They nodded,
settling around her. They were all stiff. "We haven't slept
this way in years," she noted. "Maybe I'll go sleep on the couch
so I don't have to worry about hurting you two with that thing."
Clint pulled her closer. "I can't cuddle the way I normally
would. It's kinda in the way."
"Not that much in the way." He helped her shift and she could lay
on his shoulder. He could prop her cast up with his leg.
Natasha got her back and it was comfortable again. They had missed
this for the last week. He and Nat shared a look, holding a
silent talk. They agreed, they could find something. Maybe
he'd take a few classes he was interested in. Or teach archery to
some kids. Bob could use the pointers. She smiled at
him. Dawn was already asleep. They had been worrying her and
frustrating her. She hadn't even had a nightmare in days because
she wasn't sleeping. They could work this out.
Pepper looked up as Dawn came off the elevator. "What happened? Did you trip over Clint?" she demanded.
"No! He had nothing to do with it, Pepper. It's bad enough
one of the reporters hanging around asked if he had broken it on
me." She sat down and slumped, staring at her desk. She had
things she had to get done. She got into them once her computer
Pepper came out. "They asked what?"
"Seriously?" Pepper demanded.
"Yup. Two of them. One from the Times."
"Great." She called Tony to tell him that. Tony made a
statement to whoever he was interviewing with. Pepper made a 'poor
baby' comment on her lj about Dawn having broken her leg while working
out. "Where, Dawn?"
"So working out. I was right." She finished it and posted
it. Almost immediately someone asked if Dawn was all right.
She took a screen cap from the security system to post. It showed
the cast and Dawn nicely dressed but sitting funny due to how her leg
had to be propped up. A few more people cooed 'that poor
girl'. Dawn's cellphone rang but she muted it and sent a text
message instead. So probably Joyce.
Bruce walked off the elevator a few minutes later, looking at her. "You could've taken time off."
"Why? Sitting around watching them realize that they haven't been
able to do real covert work for years now is really not my speciality of
He winced. "We thought it was something like that." She nodded. "The reporters aren't helping."
"No, they're not, and I nearly brained one earlier. If I wasn't
worried about hurting my tablet and phone I would've hit him with my
purse when he asked if Clint broke my leg."
"I'll go beat them for you." He gave her a hug. "Your mom's worried."
"I'm just in a foul mood, Stepdad."
"I get that." He went down to scare off the reporters, glaring at a
few. "Whoever asked Dawn if her spouses hurt her, I want to talk
to." They all backed off. He knew he was about to start
changing. "Really, let's talk." They shook their
heads. "You sure?" They nodded. "Then the story's done
with, people. You're upsetting the lab people. You're
upsetting Dawn. You're upsetting her spouses, you're upsetting my
wife because all of them are upset. I will *not* have Joyce
upset." They nodded.
"So go. Now." They ran off. "Thank you! Leave
the Avengers apartment building alone as well!" A few nodded,
calling that in. He went back upstairs calling Joyce. Dawn
needed a hug. She was pouty. Bruce went to the lab floor,
stopping in chemistry. "People, Dawn's probably not going to be
doing rounds today. Make your own coffee." He walked on to
his own lab. They could spread it around.
They all looked at MB, who shrugged. "I don't know." She
texted Dawn, getting a 'I'll be doing it slower today' message
back. "She thinks she is." They shrugged and made some
coffee for now. It wasn't good like Dawn's, but they'd
survive. When she limped in they all stared at the cast. MB
looked at her. "Sparring?"
"Obstacle course." She grimaced. "Everyone's blown it *way*
out of proportion too." She took the reports. "Thanks,
guys." She checked and made real coffee for them before going to
the next lab. Patty gave her a hug and helped her on the rest of
her rounds since she wasn't really busy. It was sweet of her.
Tony looked at Dawn when she and Patty walked in. He took the reports. "Thanks, Patty."
"Not a problem, Tony." She hugged Dawn again. "Go sit
down. You'll swell or something." She went back to work.
Dawn shrugged. "I'm heading there now." She looked.
"I can make my own coffee," he assured her. She smiled and smacked him on the head. "Hey!"
"We had that talk about Dawn jobs and Tony jobs," she reminded him,
going to the coffee maker. "This is a Dawn job, unless you want to
hire my wife to do it for you."
"No thanks, she's mean and might poison me." He watched her. "Why don't you have crutches?"
"No one gave me any."
He huffed as he called down there. "They didn't have any."
"Shut up, Dawn. You're not fine." He looked at her. "And you clearly need painkillers."
She shrugged. "I've had advil." She finished up and took what she needed back from him to go back to her desk.
Tony grimaced toward the other tower. He texted Steve, who told
him what was wrong. It figured it was finally hitting them that
people couldn't be covert assassins when people recognized them.
"This didn't happen three years ago when we were all in People?" he
complained quietly. "Or Newsweek?"
JARVIS heard and decided he needed to help that some. He cleared
his throat in the common area the heros were hanging out in.
"Agent Barton, Dawn needs to put back one of the storage bins in the
"We have an archive room?" he asked.
"For the various news stories. We keep a copy so we can look back
and track trends. She's getting done with this week's search and
the storage box needs to go back but I doubt she can climb up the step
to do that safely."
"Sure, I can do that for her." He got up and used the walkway to
get to Dawn's desk. "JARVIS said you needed some hefting and
She smiled, looking up from her printing and noting source and date on
the printed story. "Just one more." She put it into the box
and printed the other one, doing the same thing. She handed over
the shelf box. "That goes in room 2577. Right side
please. Third shelf down."
He nodded, taking it down there. The door was unlocked. He
walked and stared at the large room. The large, full room.
He looked at the shelves, the dates on the boxes started near the door
and moved to the back. The other side started that year and they
were on the third shelving unit over. The room only had four
ten-shelf units on each side. It had a tiny work table in the
center. He found the area the box went into and put it
He pulled down the first box after sending a thought at Nat about how
many there were. He had no idea that there were this many
stories. Tony had handled most of it so they weren't in the
limelight but they still had cutesy articles by entertainment reporters
and some more heavy things from more reliable media sources.
Including some DVD's. Natasha, Bruce, and Steve walked in
together, Bruce whistling. He looked over. "I didn't know
about some of these."
Steve looked. "The director arranged those to spin the stories and
keep us mostly out of the press. That's why he and Tony handled
it, so we wouldn't be as well known. That was blown though."
He got into a box on the top shelf, about third down. "It starts
up here, Clint." He handed it down. "That started off all
the hype about you and Natasha. Bruce's was the following week,
then mine, then Stark's. They were shrewd and did a lot of
research beyond what we thought was out there. I remember Maria
got really upset that so much could be found when they had wiped your
files clean." He climbed back down.
Bruce laid out the biography pieces on them. It was an alternative
paper but one he knew a lot of people read. He knew other news
sources watched them too. His was fairly accurate, down to his
mother's name. Natasha's was the shortest at just over a
page. Clint's was nearly two. Steve's went into the hype
about him so it was the longest at a good handful. "How long is
"Three pages," Steve said. "They noted that a lot of it was
already known and how he was putting himself in the way of us being seen
on purpose but that people deserved the right to know about us.
They said they understood why but it still needed to be known."
Natasha looked at it then at him. "This is horrifying and a bit incorrect."
"They could only get your current identity, not your original one,"
Steve said with a smile. "Russia probably destroyed those files."
"They're locked in a special room in the Kremlin." She looked at
Clint's since he was still staring at it. Dawn came in to hug him
then left. She noticed it went into what happened with his
brother. "Did they get it right?" she asked quietly.
"Yeah, they did," he admitted quietly, putting it back. He looked
at Steve. "So they've known all this for this long?"
"Director Fury wanted you guys left mostly alone so you could still work
sometimes, under certain circumstances. He suppressed those
heavily but they did get out. The current press still quotes from
them for research."
Bruce nodded. "I've seen some of it quoted in an interview about
me that I never did. They talked to my former colleagues," he said
when they stared at him.
Clint nodded. "So, we've been compromised this far and no one told us?" he asked.
"We thought you guys were tracking it too," Pepper said as she walked in
with Liz on her back in the carrier. "We knew Fury had someone
compiling information but we've kept it in original format." She
patted him on the arm. "They mostly ignored you and Natasha
because the press got that you needed to be able to do your jobs.
Then you three got taken." They nodded. "Which brought you
back to prominence." She found that area and pulled down a marked
box. The tag said 'on the kidnaping' in Pepper's
handwriting. "That's what they covered on that." He and
Natasha settled in to go over it. Clint moaned and she grimaced at
one thing. Pepper nodded. "The press aren't stupid, they
knew something huge was going on. Even if they only got the edges
"So they've been stalking us very thoroughly since that first battle," Natasha said.
"No, stalking is what they do to Dawn and Tony because it keeps
attention off the rest of you. They do it on purpose. The
same as I did some to get attention off Tony when he needed me
to." She smiled at her. "Stalking is about what you're
getting now. Which is still focusing on Dawn, not you two."
"Stalking is them commenting on her weight, her outfits, all that,"
Bruce agreed. "The constant nagging from that one source that she
doesn't fade into the background to let Pepper shine brighter." He
looked around. "Where's Tony's room?"
"Next door." She nodded. "Dawn's and mine is next to
it. The last archival room is about any of the rest of our
people." They went to look at Tony's, which was overflowing and in
messy boxes. Pepper sighed. "He promised to get that
"How far back does this go?" Natasha asked.
"Three years." She smiled. "The lab in Malibu has a
library's worth." Natasha shook her head. They looked at
hers and Dawn's room. The boxes in there were in two colors.
There were red ones, presumably Pepper's, and yellow ones, probably
Dawn's. Dawn's made up the majority of the room. It wasn't
as full as Tony's but she wasn't as old and kept out of the press for
the most part. "Before you ask, this is since we came to New York,
right before the battle." Clint stared at her. She
nodded. "The kidnaping time's box is that wooden one," she said
with a point.
They looked over it. There were full magazines devoted to Stark,
with paperclipped parts on Dawn. There were printed articles
online and from magazines. There were flashy entertainment
pieces. Clint stared around then at her. "Is yours from the
same amount of time?"
"No. We had to call mine out from Malibu to look up an older one
that was being referenced." She smiled. "Dawn does it so
that others don't get hit by the same sort of light show."
Clint nodded. "I can see why." He looked at the most recent ones. "Dawn doesn't do her own?"
"No. I do Dawn's. She does yours and mine. Plus
any on SHIELD. Those she sends to Maria whenever she gets a full
Clint looked up from the last few articles. "This bitch is really bitter."
"She hasn't figured out yet that Dawn's fairly wealthy now. When
she does I'm pretty sure she's going to be horrified at what she's
said." She smiled. "We'll be putting something from Forbes
in here again too." She walked off, letting them figure things out
on their own. Dawn was looking pathetic to a milkshake.
"That had better not be lunch."
"No, I'm having a salad. Right now it's got my herbal painkillers
in it." She sipped. "It covered the taste when nothing else
"Why not use real ones?"
"Because of all the nagging about me being on something for that one
event when I had the broken wrist. There were shitloads of
people who wondered if Tony was teaching me the meaning of addiction."
"I know you're not. Ignore them."
"I can't. Not with them thinking Clint broke it." She took another drink. "Callia's walking the dog."
"That's fine. She's got guards I'm sure." She patted Dawn on
the head. "You'll make it through this too. You guys have
fought before." Dawn nodded. "Try to relax."
"I'm fine. I can finish my departmental rounds in a few
minutes." Pepper went back to her desk. She finished her
shake and let it sink in while she finished the corporate emails that
she needed to do. Then she got up to go do those.
"Get crutches," Pepper ordered.
"I'm fine." She got onto the elevator. "As long as I don't
have to kick any ass, I'll be fine," she muttered. The elevator
lurched. She calmed herself. The elevator stopped
moving. She hit the call button. Nothing. No
answer. She tried her phone. No reception for some
reason. Which meant this was a plot. She felt the elevator
start to move and then teleported out because it was plummeting
suddenly. She landed beside the front desk as it crashed.
"It was just me," she said. "Thankfully no one else was in the
elevator." The guards stared at her. "Did I slip time or
something?" They shook their heads, calling maintenance and
Pepper. Dawn looked at the other ones. "Someone check and
see why there's no cell reception in them." They stared at
her. "Now!" They did it. They found the blocker and
the little override machine clipped in there with a grim-looking
maintenance team. They found them on the other elevators and
stopped them to get them off there. They'd figure out who later.
Tony came jogging down the stairs. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. I was the only one in mine. There was no answer
on the call button and no cell reception. So it was a plot," she
finished with a cheery smile.
He hugged her. "As long as you're okay we'll kill them
later. Your spouses are bored." He walked her off.
"Think you can do the four floors to the infirmary?"
"I'm fine, Tony. Really."
"Uh-huh. I hear wind and noise but no substance," he said, quoting
her from a few times she had said that to him when he was
complaining. Clint came off the elevator. "You're brave,"
"I have an override key I made years ago. It's a master so it fits
everything." He took Dawn from him. "Are you good?"
"She's shaking," Tony noted.
"I just took the stupid herbal painkillers. Of course I am." Clint scowled. "They work."
"You can take real ones. Fuck the press that say anything."
He helped her into the elevator that was cleared. The guards
pointed at it and got it for them. "Thanks, guys." He took
her up to her office. She'd fight going to the infirmary but her
desk was a safe spot usually. He got her calmed down and got her
foot propped up. "Why didn't you tell us?"
"About what?" she asked, looking confused.
"The archive for us? The stalking they do of you?"
She snorted. "It's something that happened. You saw me doing
the article search more than once, Clint. You've seen me
playfully teasing reporters at events to keep them off Pepper and you
"Okay, so I wasn't paying attention or putting clues together. Me or Nat. They have a full history of me."
She nodded. "I remember printing it and marking that whole
series. I also remember bringing it to Fury so he could have them
"No one told us."
"We assistant types handle things so that the higher ups don't have to,"
she said with a slight smile. "That's half of my real job.
Not making coffee and gathering reports. I do that because the
rest is kinda boring."
"I never realized that."
"Yeah." She shifted. "Half of what I do every day is
probably really Sheila and Stella's jobs, but I'm here and can handle
Pepper nodded from the doorway. "It is. Her job is to handle
things so we don't know that there's roughness on the road. She's
our shock absorber and part-time distraction device. Natasha
never got that high so she never saw it. Now I'd let her but back
then she was newly hired and just an assistant, not a personal
Dawn nodded. "She was good at the mundane things."
"If I had known then what I know now," Pepper said dryly. "You okay?"
"Quit fighting the fussing, Dawn," she ordered, staring at her.
"We fuss. You know that. You also know that if you make
Stark pout, you get to go help him tour his new cabin hideout."
She walked back to her desk. "Find out who did it and bring me
their head, Barton."
"Yeah, we can do that." He looked at Dawn. "They fuss?"
"They're a lot like my parents now and then. So yeah, Tony
fusses. He brought me soup when I had the flu way back in Malibu
Clint smiled. "Good." He kissed her. "Let me go look
at those devices." He stood up. "You, stay there." He
walked off, taking the stairs.
Dawn shook her head. "I'm not feeble," she complained quietly.
"Men fuss, Dawn. That's what a husband is supposed to do," Pepper
called. "Don't break into it or he'll pout like Tony."
"Sure." She got back to work, moving her foot prop to a better
location. She had things she could do without visiting the various
departments. She sent Sheila to do that for her.
Bruce showed up. "Are you all right? Your mother's worried sick."
"I'm fine." She texted her. "Thanks." He smiled and
patted her then went back to the archives. There wasn't a lot he
could do to help stop whoever had done that but he could find out some
things. Though he did skip Dawn's whole Miami vacation. He
didn't need to remember bikinis. So did Steve because he blushed
when he ran into one.
Dawn got out of the cab that night after a pretty long day with three
hours of overtime. "People," she complained, resting on the cab
door. "Get off our stoop!" She grabbed her purse and shut
the cab's door, letting it go off. "Why won't you leave them
"What happened to your leg?" one asked, turning on his camera.
"I was on Alexander's obstacle course and I fell."
"Yes, sometimes I need to be able to do things at night. It's very
stress relieving since you guys have made it so I can't sleep without
being bothered by the phone." They backed down. "You've
pissed the whole group off enough that half of us aren't sleeping right
and then I don't even get cuddled by the cat. Okay? I'm in a
foul, goddess damned mood, which you're the cause of. So yes, I
was wearing out the stress before I start finding a sniper rifle."
They nodded and dispersed. She made it to the front door before
another reporter showed up. "Watch me kill you," she offered.
"Miss Summers, can you actually do sniper duty?"
"I'm not great like Clint, but I was taught how to fire a gun very
well. Why?" He stared at her. She stared back.
"Dude, keeping me from putting my foot up. Speak, bark,
"What did they give you for the broken leg?"
"Not a thing. I didn't ask for any."
"Is that because of where you were on some for your wrist?"
"I got three whole days worth for the wrist and bruised ribs. I've
never taken drugs that way. Sorry to burst your wanted story
bubble, but that's not the sort of girl I am."
"Do you drink?"
"A glass of wine with dinner when we're having it out." She
shrugged. "Not really. I have less than a bottle every six
"Yet you drink at events."
"No, I drink sparkling water at events. I'd never shame my
employer that way," she said, staring at him. "Sorry, not me
"There were pictures of you being drunk in a bar in Rio."
"First," she said, shifting to lean against the building. "I
wasn't drunk. I drink virgin drinks at the clubs. Second, I
was enticing people who were kidnaping kids with magical gifts to
sacrifice. Me acting a bit wild and like I was alone there did
"You don't drink at clubs?"
"Fruity virgin things. Otherwise, no."
"We had reports that you drink."
Dawn shook her head. "No, I've never really drank. I know
how. There's been a few nights when I needed it. One night I
admitted to in the press because it was the night that they found Mom's
second brain tumor." He shuddered. "Mostly it's things like
that and I never let myself get fully drunk. That's stupid and
suicidal when people want to snatch your ass like they do mine."
"So no painkillers?"
"There were reports of SHIELD running drug tests on your hair."
"For someone dosing me with fertility meds again," she said.
"Against my will. Same people that did Mom's second tumor."
"Oh, I see." He grimaced. "There's reports that you cheated on them while you were in South America."
"No, I was getting information. He didn't get past one really
sloppy kiss and me making sure he got off prematurely so I didn't have
to touch him again. Then again, my lovers had a bug on me because I
was getting information on a weapons pipeline for them."
"Oh. So they let you do agent things while you were gone?"
"It was more necessary most of the time. Things that were
happening around us that we felt we had to stop. Not like I was
going to let people take kids to ritually rape and then kill." He
shuddered. "Would you?"
"No, not if I had your skills."
She shrugged. "I didn't gain any skills from that, dude. I
gained knowledge from it. I had skills. I'd been training in
self defense since I was fifteen because of all the people who wanted
to own me in that special, horrible way. Who told you this shit?"
"I can't name a source." He smiled.
Dawn stared at him. "You're keeping me from the advil
bottle. I'm in a royally foul mood because each time I try to
sleep someone calls the damn house." She moved off the wall.
"If you think I won't rip it from you by force, you're wrong."
"Freedom of the press," he said, looking nervous.
She shrugged. "What do I care? You can write whatever you
want, baby boy. But I'll know who's been spreading lies about me
so I can go kick their ass instead of yours."
"You can't. You have a broken leg."
Dawn snorted. "What makes you think I wasn't taught to fight
through pain? I learned that after my first year of self
defense. Way before I met any Avengers other than Stark."
The reporter shuddered. "Who?"
"Shandy and Elmeer."
"The society sluts SHIELD arrested?" she asked dryly. "Not exactly
credible sources since I've only stopped their plans in the past.
They don't know a thing about me beyond the fact that I punch kinda
hard." He was shaking now. "Sorry, but not me. I'm not
a society slut like they are. I'll never be a society slut like
they are. For that matter, I'm more skilled than they are
together. Now, anything else?"
"If you wanted to, could you become an agent?"
"I don't have the mental fortitude to do the job. I don't really
like seeing people in pain," she said dryly. "A lot of agents just
shrug it off. I'm a bit too nice for most of that unless
someone's pissing off my family."
He nodded. "We've seen that."
"Want to see it again?" she offered with a smile. He walked off
looking shaken. She went up to her room, typing out an email to
Pepper about that. Then she totally ranted on her livejournal
about the stupidity going on. She'd be damned if that got started.
Pepper looked as the update notice hit her phone. "She's back in 'I'll be damned' land," she told Tony.
"Good. They deserve it." He let her snuggle into his
side. Steve was nearly asleep on his other side. They were
watching movies and Callia had gotten to choose. He had no idea
why his daughter liked _The Wall_ but she did and it was knocking them
all out. "Bed," he ordered when the credits finally started.
"Now. I want some alone time tonight, Callia. Go to
bed." She pouted. He knew that look in her eyes.
"Whatever you're planning on to destroy whoever, don't. Your Uncle
is really looking forward to making you an agent." She pouted but
nodded and went to bed. "Thank you. Night."
"Love you too, Daddy." She huffed but climbed into bed around the cats and dog.
"Love you back, Callia." He relaxed, leaning his head back.
Pepper gave him a squeeze. "I'm wondering where those come from,"
he said quietly.
Pepper looked up at him. "Do I have to mention the idiot slut at
MIT that tried to say you copied off everyone else's work?"
"No," he admitted. Yeah, she was his daughter. He liked to
forget about the people he had ruined for being jackasses to him.
"Maybe a double dose because the rest came from Dawn," he said, flipping
it to an entertainment station. There was bound to be something
on there. It was nice that she had chewed them a new one about
bothering them so they couldn't rest. Then the other story popped
up and he laughed. "Dawn?" he asked the tv. "Really?"
"She ranted on her livejournal about that." Pepper called that
reporter. "It's Pepper Potts. How would someone like Julia
Shandy even know the first thing about Dawn? Yes, it came from
her. Dawn's livejournal." She smiled. "They're mad
that SHIELD has them in custody due to Dawn stopping them. I have
no idea how they did interviews. No, she doesn't drink.
Hardly a glass of wine with dinner. No, no pills either.
When she had the bruised ribs and broken wrist, she got three whole days
worth. She did it with advil otherwise and an herbal thing if
it's too bad of an injury.
"That same week, she got electrocuted by something and she only took
tylenol. Dawn has a really high pain tolerance. She's never
taken pills." She listened. "Exactly! And you just
made her look like a twenty-something Tony Stark. No, she's
pissed. She's so pissed she's thinking in terms of going to
destroy someone. It doesn't help that all the stalking has led to
her not being able to sleep for days. No, I think she'll take it
out on the source of the frustration.
"I'd hate to be a reporter near her until she gets some rest. Or
those two celebutantes." She listened and smiled. "That'd be
nice. I can make sure she does sit down and talk with you
tomorrow. No, she's not taking any time off for the broken
leg. No, she was on Alexander's obstacle course. Clint
babied her when he heard from our infirmary." She smiled.
"I'll arrange it."
"You have a meeting at ten," Tony said, looking at his phone.
"So how about a lunch one? Are you in New York or LA? That'd
be great. We love Cathy. Sure, send her up for lunch.
Thanks, Helen." She hung up and smirked at Tony. He was
texting Dawn. "I can't believe they tried to lie that way."
"Me either. But how are they doing interviews?" Steve asked.
"That's a really good question," Pepper and Tony said, then looked at
each other. "You owe me a backrub," they said, then she poked him.
"Fine," he agreed with a grin. "I'll give in on that.
Because it's *such* a great hardship to touch your naked, sweaty flesh
and make you moan at me for it."
Steve smiled but shook his head. Sometimes those two were goofier than Dawn and Clint.
Dawn woke up in the morning alone. Which she expected. The
cat was sitting on her stomach staring at her. "What?" she asked,
petting him. "I'll clean the litterbox in a few minutes, Loki
cat." He hopped off and nuzzled her. She sat up and winced
at the clock. "I set you." It was blinking the wrong
time. "Shit!" She found her phone.
"Power went down," she said in greeting. "Sorry, boss. Yeah,
let me do that." The cat meowed. "I have one thing I have
to take care of." She groaned and got up to go clean the litter
box then took a quick shower. She got dressed in something soft
and comfortable, heading to the office in a cab. She walked off
the elevator and found the reporter. "Sorry, power went out."
"Callia had a guard go flip the breakers on you at two," Pepper said, smiling at her. "She's grounded."
"Good!" She set her purse on the table. "Sorry about the meeting too."
"You clearly needed the sleep." They went into a conference room
to do the interview. Dawn was still tired looking but it went
well. She looked and sounded poised. They could forgive the
tiredness because of her leg. Which got asked about. Plus
the other rumors. Which Dawn countered firmly and quipped about
her mother beating her if she had turned out like the lying sluts that
had started those rumors.
Dawn smiled at the judge later that day. And Julia Shandy's
attorney. "Yes, Your Honor, I do believe that her press
relationship is harmful to others. I also believe that it's going
to cause a slander lawsuit." She handed it to her lawyer with a
"You're still a drug using slut," Julia sneered from her seat.
"Really? Prove it," Dawn said with a smile. "Not all of us
tried drugs, dear. Or drank underage to the point of losing
"You're still a whore for Stark," she said as she stood up.
Dawn laughed. "No, unlike you, I waited."
"What? No one wanted you?" she sneered.
"No, plenty wanted. I had taste. My first time wasn't in the
back of a cab at fifteen, if that was your first time," she said
dryly. "I waited until I had someone I respected. Even if it
was a bit rushed thanks to a sacrificial cult." She
smirked. "You're still a lying slut without any skills.
Hell, I have better assassin cred than you do and I only take out people
who are trying to kill me." Julia rushed at her and Dawn ducked
the grab attempt and pressed on a painful point on her neck. Julia
screamed in pain.
"You wanted to try what?" Dawn asked calmly and quietly. "Because
some of us aren't in your clique of pathetic." She let her
go. "Sit. Down." She sat down slowly and carefully,
staring at her. "Thank you." She looked at the judge
again. "As you can see by the papers I've filed, she's brought on
this harm herself." Her lawyer tried to hit her. Dawn
smacked him and knocked him out. She stared down at him.
"That's fucking pathetic too."
She looked at the judge, who was staring. She smiled. "I
don't let anyone attack me." Julia was sobbing over her
lawyer. "What? He keep the tape in his safe instead of
putting it online?" she asked dryly. She looked at the judge
again. "All I want is her to be forbidden to give
interviews. It's not like she should be doing them from a cell
anyway. Even if someone went with the plan they tried to suck
Stark into, she still shouldn't have press access. Who knows what
they could bring her to help her escape."
"That is a good point. She was released to an uncle's custody," the judge said.
Dawn frowned. "She doesn't have an uncle, Your Honor. By her
family tree, she doesn't have any older male relatives other than one
cousin that's twenty-five." She pulled that up to show him.
Julia growled and rushed her again. Dawn pivoted and kicked her
into the wall. "I warned you." The wannabe assassin rushed
her again. Dawn knocked her down and out. "Whoever lets you
go to the salon for a dye job too? Huh, they're nice to
you." She looked at the judge, who was shaking his head.
"Sorry but I'm not going to allow myself to be attacked."
"I wouldn't either, Miss Summers. They did clearly start it. Next time, leave them conscious?"
"Sure, I can do that." She smiled.
He looked at the reports the one in custody had given then shook his head. "She should not have press access."
Dawn looked down and kicked her arm over. "Why does she have track marks? Is she under medical attention?"
He stood up to look. "That is a bad sign. I'll have her
examined and possibly revoke her bail. Thank you for bringing this
to my attention."
"I got tired of having to shoot down the same rumors, Your Honor.
It's bad enough they ask me about things like when I'm having
kids." He smiled. She left, walking over the lawyer, who was
groaning. The judge's clerk was looking worried. "Shandy
tried to attack me," she told him. "She's very sorry."
"I'm sure she is," the clerk agreed.
Dawn walked out, running into a reporter. "What?" she asked when
she saw them spot her. She put on her sunglasses since she was
"Why are you here? Filing for divorce to protect their careers?"
Dawn looked over the edge of her sunglasses at her. "I don't do
divorce. If they want that, they'd have to file for it and then
deal with the outcome." The reporter shuddered. "No, I'm
here noting that certain society sluts are spreading lies when they're
supposed to be in monitored custody." She smiled.
"Pity." She walked out, getting a cab to head back to work.
Tony had already been called by the judge. He was waiting on her
when she got out. Dawn looked at him and shrugged. "They
tried to attack."
"I heard." He looked her over. "You don't even look ruffled."
"I'm not. They're pathetic. Including her lawyer." They walked inside together. "Anything new?"
"How's the leg?"
"Don't hide shit from me, Tony," she said once they were in the
elevator. She looked at him. "What's gone wrong now?"
"Nothing. You'd create an 'outcome'?" he asked with a grin.
"Hell yes. They'd never survive it."
He laughed. "Good!" She smiled. "It's good you're starting to feel better."
"I'm perfectly fine. A broken leg is not going to stop me."
"No, it won't. We all know that." He paused the elevator and
she turned off the cameras for them. "There's a push to get you
back into SHIELD."
"There's a push by the higher ups to decreate SHIELD and remake it under
someone else as a more militant organization. We found hints of
them wanting to sacrifice Clint to another program and take out Natasha
some other way." Tony shuddered. "You're too high
profile. I can pull up shit and kill them. All." She
smiled. "Repeatedly." He shivered. "Then again, Loki's
got plans to help them. At which point in time, we'll have a
small undo situation because I'll be helping destroy humanity."
"Good to know."
"You don't fuck with what's mine in any way without me showing up," she
said bluntly. "People keep thinking I'm the nice one in the
"You are, Dawn."
"No, that's Mom. I learned survival before I learned nice."
"Yeah, you did." He smirked. "Keep track of that for me."
"I am. Be damned if I want to handle that."
He smiled. "Good. Any other problems? I got film of you shooting back at the slut."
"Not yet. Cast itches some."
"They do that." He restarted the elevator and she turned back on the cameras. "You know JARVIS can still hear."
"I know but he'd never repeat a thing."
He nodded. "He won't." They walked off on the admin
floor. She flopped into her chair in a graceless sprawl.
"Hurt?" he asked.
"Slightly. I've been on it for hours though." She put it up and got comfortable so she could do some work.
He went into the office. "It looking better?"
"Much. Is she okay?"
"She said it's starting to itch already."
"They do that."
Dawn leaned over. "It might be fleas." She sat up again once
they were laughing. It might be. She had a few bug bites on
her arms for no reason. If so, Loki was getting dosed one way or
Callia walked up to her and climbed over her bad leg to hug her. "You need more sleep."
"I can do that later."
"You never sleep when Unclie Clint or Auntie Natasha aren't there."
"I'm fine." She kissed her on the head. "Take this to your
dad for me for Legal?" She handed over an envelope. She
wasn't in the mood to deal with the Russian mob. She might go evil
and make them cry on others again.
Tony came out reading it. "They're going to eventually give up."
"Apparently not. One's son is now writing since he took over." She dug out that letter to hand him and her response.
Tony looked at her, shaking his head. "They're insane."
"Well, slightly." She grimaced. "Have fun with that, boss, since I'd have to limp as I kicked them around."
"Good point." He went to talk to his security people. This
was not a good time for them to get frisky but they probably would
thinking she was weak.
Dawn woke up to someone moving the main apartment door. She could
see down the hallway. The door was opening slightly. She
pulled the gun from under her pillow, pointing it at the doorway.
Someone next to her pounced and she shot them. They
screamed. The one in the doorway froze and got hit by Steve as he
Steve flipped on the lights as he stomped in. "You okay?" he demanded.
"I'm fine. I think. I woke up to that one opening the
door. I have no idea who this is." She kicked him off the
bed. "I don't want to get blood on this. It's a bitch to get
the dry cleaner to wash it out for me." She looked. No
blood on the bed. She looked at the body. Then at
Steve. "Vampires shouldn't be able to get in."
"Unless someone gave them an invitation." They looked. The
vampire had a pendant that had marks on it. "Would that?"
Dawn took it to look at, nodding. "Yup, it would. That one?"
"I didn't check." He went to look. "He's living."
"Go check Tara? Maria should've heard too." He ran up to
check on them and the kids. They weren't there. He pounded
on Phil's door, getting one of the women from the temple. She
assured him the ladies and the kids were there for the night. They
had fleas so were bombing them. He came back to check on Dawn,
who had tied the vampire up and put on a nightgown. He hadn't
wanted to remark on her sleeping naked.
Phil walked in with Xander. "We're okay," Steve said.
"Good," Xander agreed, taking the pendant to look at. "Very weak
but easy to do." He put it onto the bed and looked at the
vampire. "I don't recognize him." He took a picture to send
to Spike and Phil took one to send to the night shift officer at
SHIELD. Spike knew who he belonged to. "Taraka." He
found the ring pinned to his nipple.
"The assassins guild?" she demanded. "The same one that came after Buffy?"
"Yeah. Not sure if it's related or a new one," Xander
admitted. He went out to read the other one's mind. "It's
against Natasha. She turned them down."
"Wonderful," Dawn said, checking the bond. It was fully sealed
off. She looked at Phil, who sent her a text message. Dawn
opened her closet, looking at her cat. It came out to meow and
check on her. "I'm okay, Loki cat." She picked him up to pet
him. He calmed down and she put him on the bed. "Keep that
warm for me." She looked at her leg then sighed and cracked the
cast. Phil tried to stop her but she stared at him. "I can't
really defend myself while hobbling."
She finished breaking it then pulled out an outfit from the back of her
closet. She slid into it once she had on underwear. She
zipped it up. Phil was looking at her funny. Tony had left
the battle suit she had been given while they were on the run from the
US in her closet for her. She pulled on weapons and then picked up
the cat to hand to him with a grin. "Thanks for kitty sitting,
Phil." She blew a kiss and disappeared. She had a 'friend'
she wanted to talk to.
Phil and Xander shared a look. Xander tracked her. "Poker hall."
"That's probably a bad thing," Phil noted.
"No, not really. Let's get Loki with the other spoiled pets."
"He needs the same flea medicine," Phil complained, handing him
off. He got the two idiots bundled up for SHIELD. They knew
almost nothing about the Order of Taraka. It was an oversight they
needed to fix.
Nick Fury walked into his office the next morning having a good
morning. He was finally allowed to have coffee again. His
newspaper had actually made it into his mailbox for a change. No
one had called him overnight about anything. He had gotten his
usual four hours of sleep without any bad dreams. He walked off
the elevator, finding Maria Hill looking green. Joyce was unhappy
by her scowl. "It is too good of a day for anything bad," he
"Fine," Joyce agreed. "I only have good news at the moment.
They have two members of the Order of Taraka in interrogation two."
He blinked. "Who?"
"Mystical and non-mystical order of assassins," Joyce said. "They came after Buffy once."
"Huh," he said, nodding. "Why do we have them?"
"For the same reason I can't find my younger daughter," she said. "They came to kill Natasha for refusing to join them."
Fury sighed. "Where is Summers?" he asked Maria. "Flu?"
"No, sir." She swallowed a few pills and some water. "Not
likely." She looked at him. "We have no idea. We know
that their main base is in Geneva though." She swallowed more
He stared at her. "I thought it was just Tara," he complained.
She shrugged. "No." She smiled and handed over
paperwork. "As per standing orders, sir. I have no idea
which one I can go lord over for the next seven months however."
He looked at her and handed them back. "I'll make an exception for
you, Agent Hill. That way you don't have to move the
twins." He walked off. "I can have coffee, Summers."
She started his coffee maker for him. "Thank you. Find your
"I'm trying. She's not answering texts yet."
Maria called Stark. He was probably up. He had probably been
up for hours. "Stark, where's your PA?" She listened to him
sound confused. "Ask Rogers then." He did and Steve said he
didn't know but told Tony why. Stark found her. "Tell her
that she's done enough damage and to come home. Her mother's
getting worried." She hung up. An alarm went off for a two
bleep count then ended. "Summers?" she demanded.
"Yes, sir," that agent said from his desk. "I think she just had an 'I'm tired of playing' and left thing, Agent Hill."
She came to look. "Amsterdam. Must be a backup
location." She grimaced and went to get sick. Joyce got her
something to help her and she smiled. "Thank you."
"I'm glad they didn't make you end it," she said quietly, giving her a
hug. "You'll do fine, Maria." She went back to her
desk. "If you speak to my daughter first, I'd like to paddle her,"
Joyce noted with a sweet smile.
A few of the agents slowly backed away from her. They had mothers
that did the same thing. Dawn was a dead woman when her mother got
hold of her.
Dawn reappeared in the lab, fluffing out her sweaty hair. "They're
not going to come after what's mine again," she said with a grin.
"They're not going to go anywhere near any SHIELD agent or anyone
Tony looked at her, noting the outfit. Then looked at her face. "Cast?"
"In the way." She limped off. "If you talk to my wife, tell
her it's clear and they're very sorry they got the idea she'd like to
work for them. They're also very sorry they were thinking about
taking the contract out on my life. We had a long discussion with
the demigod that started it. He was amused until I killed half of
the demons in there." She went to the locker room to change.
Tony and Steve shared a look. Tony texted Natasha that. He
got back a confused one. So he explained it better. She said
she'd talk to Dawn later.
Dawn came in an hour later looking like normal in her business suit and
heels. "Reports," she said, handing them over so she could make
coffee for him.
Steve stopped her, pulling her over to them. "We could've helped."
She smiled and patted him on the cheek. "They're my family.
That makes it my job. But I'll let you help some other time when
it's more than a demigod and demons." She got free and carried the
coffee pot into the bathroom. "Boss, this still needs cleaned."
"I told you to buy a new one," he complained.
"Pepper said to clean it, you didn't need a new one."
"She's wrong. Order me one, Dawn."
"Yup, I can do that." She came out. "Or go pick one up at
the gourmet coffee shop up the street." Bruce walked in looking
displeased. She cooed and patted him on the cheek. "Grumpy
Grr Guy?" she teased with a smile.
"Your mother said I needed to beat you."
"Then they really shouldn't have tried to woo my wife from me with lofty
goals of an assassins's guild." She smiled. "Or had a
vampire attack my house." He shivered. She smiled more
perkily. "Beyond that, it was mystical, which is my job, not
yours, Stepdad." She looked at Tony. "I'll get you the new
coffee maker on lunch, boss." She strolled off as suavely as she
could with her limp.
Tony and Bruce shared a look then they looked at Steve. "Sedate her," Tony decided.
Bruce shook his head. "Won't work."
"She slept through the vampire getting in last night," Steve said.
"So she probably took something," Tony decided. "Handcuffs?"
"I doubt that'd work. She'd just pick them," Bruce said. "They did teach her that too."
Tony grimaced. "I forgot. That's very handy to know."
"Especially if you're Dawn," Steve agreed. He frowned. "Where are they?"
"Fixing the other problem of who tried to kill her the other day," Tony said. "They'll hopefully be back soon."
"Her cast?" Bruce asked.
"She took it off last night," Steve said. "Told me it was in the way."
Xander appeared, shaking his head. "Dawn's in a better mood at
least. The Order of Taraka is being eliminated. Dawn nicely
put a device on their computer that sent everything to an online
location?" Tony looked in a drawer and sighed but nodded.
"Figured since I don't think she can hack." He disappeared.
He appeared in front of her desk, staring at her. "Nice."
"Thank you." She looked up from her typing.
"They're being disbanded."
"Then it's really nice that they won't be as tenacious as the Russian mob."
"It is, yeah." He looked at her typing in Russian then at her. "I can go stomp them."
"Please do." He smiled and kissed her on the head before
disappearing. She finished up the letter and printed it before
putting it in the envelope. She sent another email to her mother,
who was ranting at her. She finally got her calmed down and got
back to work. She had a few things that needed to be done.
Pepper came out to get the envelope in Russian to take to Tony.
She couldn't read it but he could. JARVIS could translate it for
her. Dawn shrugged and let them handle it. Maybe they'd get
them to stop this time. It'd be nice. She finished up the
few things and put them on Pepper's desk then got a soda to drink.
She was tired and needed the caffeine boost. She'd get some
coffee later while she was getting Tony's new coffee maker.
Tony looked at his new machine then at Dawn. "I like technology as
much as the next geek, but does it launch spacecraft?" She
laughed and came over to teach him how to use it. It made four
cups at a time, which was how big his mug was. It made perfect
coffee as long as it had good grounds and water. He blinked at the
first cup that got poured for him. He sipped and moaned.
"Okay, that's good. You did good, kid."
"Thanks, boss." She grinned.
"How many thousand was it?" He took another drink.
"Just under a hundred. It was on sale." He smiled. "The grounds were about the same."
"That's worth it." He took another drink and moaned. "That's great. There's press attention on last night."
She looked at the feed and grimaced. "They're attributing it to Shandy. That's nice."
"She'll get free of it."
Dawn grinned. "I had a Belgian agent with me, boss." He
groaned and sat down. She grinned. "I took one with
me. They might be able to get me on kidnaping charges for him but
he agreed when I told him why and told him to play bodyguard. I
even had it on tape for him." Tony smirked at her. She
grinned. "So no, I don't think so." She walked off.
"If they try, I'm moving to a backup house none of you know I have and
I'll pretend to be a trophy wife." She grinned before exiting the
Tony made more coffee while finishing his first one. Dawn did have
devious plans when you pushed her to them. He had been wrong
about her mind not being wicked and sharp. He was so glad she
liked him and was on his side.
Clint and Natasha finally came home, finding the house silent. No
Dawn. No cat. No noise. No food in the house. No
clothes in Dawn's closets. They groaned and called over the
bond. No answer but a snore. So she had taken allergy
medicine to knock her out. Clint called Stark while Natasha hacked
Dawn's accounts. No hotel charges. Stark said she appeared
at work but he wasn't sure where she was. He mumbled something
about fleas. They hung up and nudged Dawn again to wake her
up. If she was awake she could tell them where she was.
Still sleeping. They went to the tower. She wasn't
there. They had no idea where Dawn was. Only that she was
somewhere in the city.
Dawn showed up the next day for work, finding an irritated spouse in her
desk chair. "You're back." She smiled and kissed her.
"Did it go okay?"
"It went well. We tried to wake you up last night."
She looked her over. "Who healed your leg? You can't heal
"No, it got in the way." She took another kiss. "We're
camping for a few days while the bug bait works on the flea problem the
twins brought home from the park." Natasha sighed, staring at
her. Dawn got her up and sat down instead. "Where's Clint?"
Dawn smiled. "I actually ate but I can have some coffee while you
two eat." He came off the elevator. "Good morning to you
He stared at her. "Where are you camping?"
"On Phil's couch."
"You weren't in the building."
"His backup location's couch."
"Oh." He handed her the coffee and oatmeal then half of his fruit
tart. "One piece of toast and a banana is not breakfast."
"According to dietary guidelines it is," she said with a perky smile.
"I hate it when you take that herbal crap," he said. He pulled a
chair over and settled in to eat. Natasha did the same on Dawn's
other side. There was no way she missed the meaning of that
move. "So.... Amsterdam?" he asked before eating a bite of cereal.
"I took an agent with me."
"We heard," Natasha agreed. She ate a bite of her fruit salad.
Dawn shrugged. "They really shouldn't have sent a vampire and some
other guy to break into the house. You nearly came home to a
vamped me." She ate some of her fruit tart then some of her
Tony came off the elevator with a cat on his head. "Good, you're eating. You didn't do it all day yesterday."
"I did so." She ate another bite.
"It's the herbal painkiller," Clint told him. He took the cat to
look at. "Were you comfy?" He let Dawn pet it. It'd
keep her calm while they talked.
Tony smiled. "Let me get stuff off the desk." He went to do
that and left them alone. Clearly they were mad about something.
Clint ate another bite and used his spoon to point at the food.
Dawn ate one handed. "Thank you," he said once he had swallowed.
"Was something like Amsterdam not our job?" Natasha asked.
"Not if you're busy," Dawn said, digging in again. The cat was
purring so she smiled and petted him. "I know, it's a long day
already, Phil. We'll figure it out." He got comfy and meowed
at Pepper when she came off the elevator without Liz.
"Morning to you too, Phil and Dawn." She smiled. "It's good
you're finally back. We hate it when she's on the herbal
painkillers. She forgets to eat." She went to her
desk. "Did Tony raid?"
"Yes," Dawn called.
"Good to know." She went to the lab to get things back. Clint looked like he was going to yell.
Dawn looked at them. "Did you expect me to not protect all of us?"
"That's our job," Clint said.
She smirked. "Are you saying I can't protect us just as well as you can?"
"No," he said, realizing that trap. He wasn't looking for an
argument that got him changed into a new pet for the twins. "I'm
saying that it's our job. Yours is to take out localized threats."
"Which was them since they broke into the apartment and the stupid
vampire had a shielding necklace that let him in and me not realize
it." She ate another bite. They were both scowling.
"Like I said, you nearly came home to find me vamped. Which meant
it was my job. Especially with you two out of the country."
"In Alabama," Clint corrected.
"You could've asked Agent Hill," Natasha said.
"You didn't know Maria's still pregnant?"
"No, I was not aware," she admitted. She and Clint shared a
private, quick discussion. "It was still a bit too noticeable,
"As opposed to the takedown of the three people who ordered it?" she
asked. She looked at Natasha. "Because that's how the World
Security Council people were going to get rid of you. They were
going to give Clint to another program and you'd be given to the Order
for them to bring you home to your roots." Natasha was
glaring. She pulled up the plans she had found to show her.
"Fuck them," Clint said after reading them. He ate more cereal and
pointed with his spoon. Dawn huffed but ate. "Thank you."
She shrugged. "It happens to all of us."
"I meant the eating. You get rewarded for things like that, even after we yell about not telling us."
"I texted," Dawn said. Natasha pulled out her phone to turn on and
found it. She smiled sweetly at him. "Not my fault when I
try." She finished up and moved her and the cat out of the
blockade. "Let me go on my rounds."
"They'd better include the infirmary," Clint ordered quietly, staring at her.
"It's nearly healed." She carried the cat off to go on her rounds.
He and Natasha shared a look. "Get the cat," he said. They
finished breakfast, and he got the rest of Dawn's because she'd be in
the infirmary for a while. They tracked her through the labs until
she got to Andrew and Jonathan's. The boys wouldn't do more than
giggle when they ambushed her. The others would worry and call
Stark. They walked in so Natasha could grab the cat from Dawn and
Clint could pick her up to put over his shoulder so he could carry her
off. "She's going to have her leg checked, guys."
Natasha smiled and petted the cat. "You're very calm today.
Thank you." She smirked at the boys. "Have a good day,
boys." She walked off petting the cat.
"I want to do evil nearly as well as she does," Andrew complained with a sigh at the end, sitting down on his stool.
His wife kissed him. "If you did, I'd have to spank. Since I
never want to spank you...." She took a kiss. "Be a good
boy, 'Drew. You can be like Stark and do bad guy plans underneath
all the good guy stuff." She winked and went back to her lab.
Clint walked into the infirmary. "Hey, Doc."
"What did you want me to do with her?" Dr. Pigalli asked, looking
amused. "She ignored orders and cut off the cast to go get into a
"Because they were going to kill her and capture Natasha," Dawn
said. "Put me down!" Clint set her down carefully and
gently. She glared at him. "Do I look like a sack of flour?"
"No, you look like my wife, who cut off her cast on her broken damn leg,
which means my wife looks suspiciously like she might need meds for
self harm." She glared. He stepped back because that heat he
could feel was real. "I'm being a good boy, Dawn. Just
trying to take care of you. You usually don't mind."
"You usually don't treat me like I'm a brain dead bimbo who doesn't know
and consider consequences of her actions." She looked at the
doctor. "It's still healing. A bit swollen but otherwise
fine." She walked off.
"How is she wearing heels?" one of the nurses asked.
"Herbal painkiller," Clint said, chasing after her and walking her back
in there. "For my peace of mind, please have another x-ray?" he
asked politely. She was still glaring at him. There went his
hope of a homecoming snuggle. "Your leg looks bad, Dawn.
"I'm. Fine," she growled.
"If you were, I wouldn't worry that your leg looks like it's going to
need to be cut off. Please?" She started to move so he
picked her up and put her onto the bed, staring at her. "You're
getting an x-ray."
"You're not fine. Don't argue with me. I'm barely off that
mission and this is not the time, Dawn." She glared but
huffed. "Thank you!" The nurse got the x-ray machine
since he had won. "Usually you like me taking care of you," he
"Until you treat me like I have less sense than my niece," she said coolly. "That's not exactly the same feeling."
He stared. "I know you have sense that you use. Even if you
did cut off your cast. Even if I heard right and you went back
over the obstacle course to prove that you could."
"I needed that boost of confidence."
He kissed her. "We'll talk later. I know you have confidence
in yourself and your skills. That has never been in question."
"Need you to move," the nurse said. He got out of the way.
She took an x-ray and looked at the digital image. "What is that
"Oh," Dawn said, removing it from under her skirt. "Sorry, new
knife holster has a metal line in it." They did another one
and it looked like it was trying to heal but it wasn't.
Clint looked at it then at her leg. It was swollen, bruised
looking, and he had no idea how her foot was still inside her
shoe. He took it off for her and he had to wince. He looked
at her then at the doctor. "Air cast?"
"I doubt she'd use it. Didn't we give you crutches?" she asked Dawn. Who shook her head. "Why not?"
"I have no idea. Dr. Shivs never mentioned it or to stay off my
foot. I rested it when I could." She looked at the
x-ray. "That's better than it was. The tibia is about
The doctor looked at him then knocked Dawn out. "She's going on medical leave."
He smiled. "Thank you!"
"If you two start to fight again, I'm going to render you unable to please them in any manner."
"You're going to render me mute too?" he asked.
"If I must." She stared at him. "Get it out of your system,
Barton. She's not a Barbie." She called Stark, who came down
to look. He stared at her leg and foot. "I think she needs a
few days off, Mr. Stark."
He nodded. "She has vacation time. She hasn't taken any." He tested her foot. "It's cold."
"The swelling's cramping some of her circulation," the doctor said,
testing it herself. Then her leg. "No, she's cold to the
touch." Clint got a blanket to put over her. "Give her the
rest of this week off?"
"I can do that," he agreed. "We need her on Thursday though."
"Can she call it in?" Clint asked.
"No. She did all the research for the meeting."
"We can stay local," Clint promised. "Bring her back for that."
Tony nodded. "That could help. The Russians that write her to offer her a job switched to the son."
"Good to know." Natasha walked in and looked at Dawn's leg, grimacing. "Can we go to a hotel, Nat?"
"She's on Phil's couch, or so she said," Tony said.
"Nope," Clint said. "Backup location's couch." He and she
shared a look. "Better yet, let's go to the Radison up the
"I'd prefer somewhere with room service," she noted. "Plus perhaps a spa."
Clint shrugged. "Nearby?"
"There's one." She looked at Dawn's accounts, seeing them
unsealed, working, and overly full. "We can afford that."
She looked at Tony, who nodded. "We'll bring her back Monday."
"Thursday," Clint corrected. "An important meeting."
She grimaced but nodded. "Fine." He picked up Dawn, she got
her medicine from the doctor. Pepper brought down her purse and it
was good. They got into a cab and to the hidden hotel. It
was exclusive and very private. No one knew it was a hotel unless
you had contacts. She got them checked in and the desk boy moaned
at the name on the card. Dawn could pay her back. She turned
down the offer of the hotel's doctor on call coming up to look at her.
Dawn woke up and blinked hard. "Where am I?" she muttered,
glancing around. It was a nicely decorated room. It smelled
like citrus and vanilla. She tried to move and found her leg
immobilized. Not by the cat as she thought. She noticed he
was sitting on top of the dresser grooming himself. She looked at
her foot, which was immobilized by a padded block set. "What is
that?" She leaned over to get closer. She got pushed back
down onto the pillows gently. "What's that?"
"It's to keep your foot there and safe," Clint said. "That way
your leg gets some healing time without a heavy cast. It's how
they used to do broken limbs." He handed her two pills and some
She looked then at him. "They're not orange and I hate being lied to."
"Fine. Loritabs." He smiled. "We hate to see you in
pain." She took them and most of the glass of water. He laid
down next to her. "Nat's at the spa."
"That's nice. She needs some spoiling time."
"No, you need some spoiling time. She's setting up your joint
spoiling time." He kissed her. It wasn't as warm as he
usually gave her but it was still soft and gentle. He kissed her a
second time. "No more herbal painkillers. That stuff makes
you tense and creepy." She glared. "It does." He laid
down, making her relax. He put an arm over her chest and stomach,
taking her other hand to hold and squeeze. "We were really worried
when we heard," he said quietly. "Like we were in Peru."
"I was fine."
"Not the point. We agreed to let us do that sort of stuff and
you'd take out immediate threats to us." He looked up at her from
her shoulder. "Which is what we like. We like you being the
backup, Dawn, not the guy in front." He gave her hand a
squeeze. "Beyond that, you're in some strange warrior mode that's
kind of scary. The cat wouldn't even sit on the bed when I put him
"I accidentally nearly flipped over on him last night. He clawed me good for it."
"I saw that." He kissed her neck over the acid scar. "Like
with this, let us help and take care of you," he said quietly. "I
hate that Nat won't ever let me take care of her, even if she was
dying. She'd tough it out and go all 'I'm fine' the way you have
been. Then she hides while I worry." Dawn shifted. He
helped her get comfortable. "I want to be able to take care of you
the same way you do us."
"You hate being fussed over."
"Nat hates to be fussed over. I enjoy it until it gets to be too
heavy." He nuzzled her throat. She tipped her head.
"Nope, no sex until your leg's looking better. Because it looks
bad." He looked at her. "The bruising should've faded by
"It never does. I keep bruises for days if I don't heal them."
"It should have." He stroked her stomach with their joined
hands. "So I'm going to be a bit strong on that point. I
want that leg to heal properly and well. Right now it's looking
like it's really damaged."
"It's just the bruising."
"Which should've went down with the swelling," he noted.
She shrugged. "First really big broken bone set I've had."
"I saw that." He leaned down to look at it. The swelling had
went down some with it held in place and elevated. "You were
doing too much on it probably." He kissed it then came back up to
stare down at her. "You can go in for the meeting on Thursday."
"I have an interview on Friday."
"Can you call it in?"
"Probably not. It's a UK reporter."
"Then we can show up for that." He kissed her, laying down with
her again. "You scared the crap out of me when you channeled
Xander. All we heard was you had invaded somewhere and were making
them sorry for coming after Natasha."
"Sorry but they broke into the house."
"I get that, but you didn't call."
"I did try to send you guys a message. It was fully blocked off and you didn't answer the text. Or Phil's."
He lifted his head to stare at her. "Steve said you were gone
within a few minutes of it being sent." She shifted. He
pulled her closer again. "We need to work on how to get the
attention of the others if we need to."
"I can force it open but I wouldn't do that while you're on the job."
He shrugged. "The job happens. Even during bad times."
He took a kiss and put his head back down on her shoulder again.
"Are you going to let me fuss?"
"I guess I can do that." She stroked over his free arm with her
free hand. It was an awkward angle but that happened. "You
let me fuss over you."
He grinned. "You're probably a lot better at it than me but I'm
told I'm pretty decent at it." He stroked her stomach.
"You're still upset."
"Slightly. The job is a lot harder when people like you a whole
lot." She nodded. "It's a lot to adjust to but I'm handling
it and this is about fussing over you, not you fussing over us."
He kissed her again.
"If you're sure."
"I am. We have to have some equality. You get a lot of
fussing time and I never get any because we're in the infirmary."
He gave her a gentle squeeze. "We have to deal with that new
"The next one might be worse. It might be better to remove SHIELD from the WSC."
"It might but Fury would hate that," he said. "He built it up under them and it'd throw things like the budget into hell."
"Unless the UN or someone took it over," she said. "Which would be a good thing."
"It could be but they'd hate the more covert things."
She smiled. "Remember, they're the same ones that took in the
Initiative bastards for their underground demon hunting squads."
"Good point. We'll deal with it later. Not like I get paid to be an Avenger."
"We can live on my salary if we need to."
He looked up at her, shaking his head. "No way in hell." He
put his head down. "I couldn't stand to be a kept man, Dawn."
"If you're sure." She stroked his arm again. He poked her with that hand. She smiled. "I'm okay."
"Quit. You're not fine. I can feel the pain even with the
painkillers." He got up to kneel over her. "You know that
thing you have against lying? Let's try not to have so many
blatant ones at us about you being okay?" She stared at him.
He stared back. "Seriously. If we can feel that you're in
pain then we realize it. Even we'd complain about broken bones."
"It's a tiny thing."
"Dawn, you had two broken bones in the same area of your leg."
"There's two bones there."
He kissed her. "You did stupid things to prove you weren't
weak. You were on it too often and it's causing it problems
instead of taking the time off to let it heal."
"I had work to do."
"We get that. We've went on ops before with broken things.
You're still getting nagged about this in the future. Like I get
to nag Nat about going out in Moscow without a jacket on to chase a
mugger that didn't get anything." He stared at her. "We love
you dearly but please quit being so tough? We love you for the
tough woman that you are, you don't have to impress anyone."
She gave him a shove. "I was not."
"No, you were trying to protect us and make sure that no one else tried
to do anything against the family. Which we appreciate but we want
to handle those things. We're a bit better prepared and we don't
have nightmares later." She shrugged but didn't look up at
him. He took another kiss and laid back down after checking her
leg. "Want an ice pack?"
"No, it's okay."
He poked her on the side. "Want an ice pack?" he asked, staring at her.
"No, it's really okay." She shifted. He put her back into place. "My back's going to ache."
"I'll rub out any aches and cramps." He stroked over her stomach,
making her calm down. Natasha walked in smelling like some fancy
perfume oils. He smiled. "Got a massage too?" he joked.
"They offered to prove they were wonderful." She took a kiss from
him. She stared down at Dawn. "You will let us help you take
care of that?"
"I guess." Clint poked her again. "Yes, dear."
"Thank you." She took a kiss from her and put down her bag so she
could get a chemical ice pack. She carefully checked the ankle
before putting it on there. "That should help the swelling."
She laid down on Dawn's free side. "Pain?"
"Slight," Clint said. Dawn looked at him. "She's still denying it."
"I'm sure she is. I do the same thing."
"Have I mentioned recently it drives me fucking nuts when you do that?"
he asked with a smile. Natasha reached over to swat him.
"You do the same thing to us," Natasha pointed out.
"I only hide the really big things so no one has to see me suffer." Dawn poked him. He gently poked her back.
"I'm not fragile," Dawn said.
"Yes you are. You're human and they're fragile beings."
She hugged him. "Thank you."
"Whoever said it this time is a moron," he assured her. He nuzzled
her neck again. "C'mere, Loki cat." He hopped off the
dresser and onto Dawn's leg, walking up it. She kept herself from
hissing and wincing. Clint plucked the cat off her to pet
him. He meowed at Dawn, who petted him. Loki settled on her
stomach so they could all pet him. "Spoiled kitty but she should
be just as spoiled as you are." He stroked the cat's back, making
"She should be," Natasha agreed, stroking over the cat's ears.
Dawn was teasing his chin. The cat was soaking up attention and
getting very purr happy. Which made Dawn happier. "We have
spa time tomorrow so your leg must be less swollen or they can only help
you soak it." She reached down to shift the ice pack. "That
should help a lot."
"Hopefully," Clint agreed. "It's went down about halfway."
"That's good," Natasha agreed.
Dawn leaned up to look. "It looks better than it did when I got up."
Clint pulled her back down. "That's because you've been off it for
over three hours." He put an arm back over her stomach to hold
her. She looked at him. "You agreed I could finally fuss."
"Can I have a drink?"
He smiled. "Of course." He got up to get her some. He
knew pain pills made her have hot flashes and get thirsty. He let
her sip from the straw too because he was a really nice guy to his
ladies. When she was done he put the glass aside and curled up
around her again. The cat stared at him. "I'm sorry, did we
quit petting you?" He went back to it. The cat was staring
at Dawn, who was smiling and petting him. "I never really imagined
myself with a cat."
"Cats are very sneaky, just like we are," Natasha pointed out, smiling
at the cat. "They're very mean hunters who like to play with their
captures. They say that nothing is a meaner hunter than
cats. Much like us."
"I don't usually toy with my prey," he admitted. "But that's good
to know." He grinned. "That's your thing, not mine."
"Which is why she made such a great kitten," Dawn quipped. Natasha
smiled at her and kissed her for that complement. Dawn
yawned. "I'm not tired."
"Of course you're not. We're very cuddly so you're comfy and
catching up on sleep," Clint said, yawning. "Nat, don't take her
without waking me up."
"I won't. You'd usually wake up anyway." She yawned. "Those are contagious, which is mean."
Dawn yawned again. "When is the spa time?"
"Tomorrow morning." She yawned again and they drifted off together, making sure Dawn couldn't hurt her foot again.
Loki got up with a stretch and went to lay on the padded spot around the
sore spot. The cold spot was nice against his belly fur.
Clint looked down at him moving, giving him a nudge with a toe. "Get off that. It's her sore spot."
The cat shifted and laid on a better spot. His human didn't mind
that one so it was nice. Especially when he got to steal the nice
cold thing to lay on.
Dawn limped in on Thursday helped by Natasha. "Not late are we?" Dawn quipped.
"Not yet," Pepper said with a smile. "Feeling better?"
"Getting there." She sat down and pulled up what she needed for the meeting. "Okay, I'm ready and I'll be back tomorrow."
"Like hell," Tony said from his seat, his feet up and playing on his tablet.
"Reporter from the UK," Dawn countered.
Pepper and Tony shared a look then shook their heads. "Romanoff,
she can come in for that but she's to go back to resting," Tony ordered,
going back to his sheep jumping game.
"She'll be in bed very shortly. Especially since we are so good
with her pain killers." The meeting's other people showed
up. A few smiled at Dawn, earning one back from her.
"Dawn gets her own assistant?" one quipped.
"Only when I have a broken leg," Dawn admitted.
"Aww," another one said, smiling at her. "How did you do that?"
"Fell on a ropes course. I still can't climb ropes." They
laughed and got down to business. Dawn had everything ready, even
for the strange things. Even for Stark's usual diversion to break
tension. She even had snacks set in when she texted. That
was good and the meeting went well. It meant a new contract for
Stark International. They broke and Natasha helped Dawn clean
things up then walked her off. "I'm good to check things."
"No," Natasha warned. "Clint is waiting. You know he'll growl."
"Just ten minutes?"
"No." She took her arm. "Come. Let's go."
"I need to ...." She pointed. "Pepper, help? I need to check on a few things."
Pepper came out, looking at them. "Is anything that important?"
"The mail. Maybe two other things?" Natasha stared at
her. Dawn smiled and kissed her to get free, moving to her desk to
The mail got sorted by Natasha, who swatted her with one envelope. "He calls you that sexy one at the head desk?"
Dawn nearly blanched and took that one to look over. "Stark!" she
bellowed, bringing him running. She handed that one to him.
He read the envelope and growled, opening it as he walked off.
"Two others," she said, holding them up. "One from Warren."
He looked, it was addressed to him so he took it to look over. "A threat. How sweet of him."
Natasha took it from him to go over, then handed it back and looked at
the other one. "Oh, that's not good," she agreed. Tony took
it back. "The first?"
"The third," he said.
"The third what?" Pepper asked with a smile.
Dawn looked at her. "The same people that *really* want me think
you'd make the best wife ever. They've sent nice propositions in
the past but we shot them down, including telling them that there's
sheiks that are offering a better marriage of power deal."
"Why haven't I heard about this?" Pepper asked Dawn. Who pointed at Tony.
"I found the first one looking through her mail for more crap from the
mob," Tony admitted. "She helped me shoot back at them." He
smiled. "Because I'll destroy them." He walked off again.
Dawn nodded. "I'd help by giving him really mean ideas."
"Yes she will," Tony quipped before he disappeared.
Natasha looked at Dawn. "We would help."
"I know." She blew a kiss and got into the few other things she
needed to handle. Her phone chirped a 'I know you're avoiding it, get
back here' message. "He's being possessive today."
"He does that when you let him." She smiled. "Hurry
up. We're grabbing lunch on the way back." Dawn nodded and
finished up, taking a few of the letters with her. Which Natasha
took to look over then tuck into her purse. "Let me talk to them
again." She helped Dawn up and down to the car.
"Burgers from that place Happy found?"
"We can do both." She got her into the hired car and they went to
both places she wanted. Dawn got her burgers. They got
healthier things for later. The hotel had a nice stack of messages
for them and spa time reminder. They dropped food off. Dawn
got a burger down before they made it to the spa. Natasha
smiled. "I spoiled her with a burger."
"Treats are always nice," the spa helper assigned to them agreed.
"Mrs. Barton-Romanoff, this way to the changing areas. Does your
leg need any covering?"
"No, it never broke the skin. It's mostly unswelled too." She smiled. "They nagged all night."
"It's good when that happens," the assistant said happily. "My own
spouse does that for me." She showed them in there.
They got stripped down and into robes then into the massage rooms.
The masseuse looked over Dawn's leg, deciding he could do her foot but
not that leg. They were put down side by side and given long, deep
reaching massages until Dawn was ready to fall asleep. Then they
got put into mudbaths. Deep copper tubs next to each other filled
with hot, thin mud. Natasha reached over to touch her hand when
she started to have a nightmare. Dawn flinched awake but fell back
asleep again. Natasha was fully relaxed and the next step was
going to be very nice. They finally got out once Dawn was well
rested. They moved to the shower and salt scrubs. Dawn and
Natasha got their own little cubicle areas. Dawn was leaning on
the wall, stretching her leg. She felt hands on her and they were
familiar. She turned and smiled. "Hey."
"Hi," Clint said, taking a kiss. "Let me scrub this off.
Natasha's watching." He nodded. Dawn looked around Clint's
arm to grin at her. "Turn around." Dawn did as he
asked. He scooped out some of the salt scrub to rub over her
shoulders and upper back, slowly working it in. "Tell us if you
need to sit."
"Okay." He slowly worked the salt scrub into her skin. He
grabbed more and worked her lower back. He moved to her arms and
then down to her legs. She was moaning in pleasure, leaning on the
wall. He turned her around to get her front. She was more
than happy to let him. He kissed her and smiled. "Rinse
off. Let me get Nat." She turned on the water and got under
it. He helped Nat up, earning a smile. He followed the same
path with her skin, making her arch back into his fingers.
He loved that she was so sensual in the right circumstances. When
she was ready, Dawn pulled her over to help her rinse off. Clint
sat down in Natasha's chair to watch them rinse each other off.
They finally got done and came over to kiss him. "Finish up and
we'll go out to dinner tonight." They smiled and went back to
their spoiling time. Clint got up and got sent to his
massage. His firing shoulder was tense and needed to have it
Dawn limped in Monday smiling and happy. She made it to her desk, flopping down.
Pepper came off the elevator ten minutes later. "How's the leg?"
"Sore but working. We did a good job getting it to unswell and did
some healing time." She moved it so Pepper could see it.
"It looks a lot better. No more bruise."
"I healed it. Still can't do the bone but the rest looks
better." Pepper patted her on the head then went to her
office. She came jogging back out. Dawn looked then turned
and pulled her gun, shooting the poisonous snakes in there.
Security came rushing off the elevator. "I missed a cobra," she
noted before they could push her out of the way. They carefully
scanned things and shot it when it lunged out at them. "JARVIS?"
Dawn called, checking Pepper over. "Not bitten, right?"
"No. I turned my chair around to sit down and one snapped at me from it." She checked. "I'm just a bit shaky."
Dawn helped her down to the infirmary. "She needs checked for
snake bites. We just found a shitload in her office." The
nurse nodded and took her to look over in the bathroom. Dawn went
back up there. "Which lab got breached?"
"None of them," Tony said. "I checked with JARVIS. There's
not supposed to be any snakes in either building. Security footage
is coming." He looked at her. "Sit."
"I'm good. It's healed a lot more." He snorted, pointing at
her desk chair. He had a thought and checked, blinking at what he
"You have damn lucky you didn't get bitten syndrome today," Tony said. He shot the snake.
"Maybe it's where I'm so sweet. I don't smell like prey," she said
with a smirk. She felt something around her feet, picking up the
cat. "You do not need to be down here, Tony cat." The guards
called and got that cat and the Natasha cat back up there. Callia
was going to sob if one of her pets died. They made sure all the
pets stayed up there.
Clint came off the elevator, changing guns with Dawn. "Better,
lighter, works best for close contact shooting." She pointed in
the office. He looked in there. "That's sick."
"Especially with Pepper probably being pregnant again," Dawn agreed.
"We've tried really hard," Tony quipped. "She hasn't taken a test yet."
Clint shook his head. "Okay. She's....."
"Infirmary," Dawn said. "Just in case."
"That's a good idea. You didn't get bitten, right?"
"Not unless I have an area I can't feel," she said, looking at her bad leg.
He shook his head. "I can't see one. Thankfully." Natasha came off the elevator with both guns in hand.
"You two, do the labs," Tony ordered. "Just in case. JARVIS,
scan the admin areas and offices. I'm doing this floor.
"Yup, I'm on it." She checked her desk, shooting the one in her
mostly empty drawer. Tony checked the rest of the desk,
getting the other one. He went to check the rest of the
floor. Guards were looking over the penthouse and the floors
between them. Dawn coordinated where everyone was. "People,
no one's done the caf yet," she noted when they started calling in all
clears. "Or the garage level and the maintenance tunnels
underneath them." The guards got the garage and tunnels.
Tony, Clint, and Natasha got the caf. And Tony got coffee.
Natasha got the snakes waiting by the coffee machine. Clint got a
thought from Dawn and went to the coffee storage closet, getting the
ones in there.
Roomba 2 zipped past and zapped the dead snakes. It barked and
went to scan all the labs. It got a few more, making Clint follow
it. It found a few hidden ones, letting the robot vacuum dog shoot
them with the laser and he made sure they were dead. By the time
they were done, Roomba 2 needed a recharge, Dawn was starting to drift
off due to her medicine, and Clint was not amused. Natasha was
watching Dawn start to dose. Clint smiled. "Drugs?" he
mouthed. She nodded. Dawn flinched and woke up, blinking at
them. "You sure you want to come to work today?" he asked with a
"Yeah, I'm needed to handle the chaos." She saw the blinking light
and pushed the button for her voicemail, hitting her access code.
"I saw you dozing. Go to bed, Dawn. Come back when you're
not on pain medicine, not injured, and don't have to have people hover,"
Tony's voice said. "If you argue with me I'm going to suspend you
and make you go to the senior center with Steve next week." The
voice cut off.
Dawn groaned, shaking her head. "I'm off them."
"We know," Clint said. "One more day."
Dawn shook her head. "I need to do things."
"So we'll go home, you can work from the couch while naked," Clint said
with a grin. "We'll tease the cat with toys. It'll be fun."
She stared at him. "I can't do that. I'll never get things done."
"So?" Tony asked as he walked past her. "Building's closed due to snake attack. You don't work if we don't work."
She looked at him. "Then I only work two days a week?" she asked.
"Shut up," he snorted, glaring at her. She smiled. "Bitchy."
"Go home. Do whatever Clint wanted you to do."
"He wanted me to go work naked from the couch, Tony."
Tony paused then winced and shook his head. "I did not need that image." He walked off rubbing his forehead.
"Pepper probably would if you asked," Clint called after him.
"Maybe. Not with the baby in the house though."
"She has her own place," Dawn said. She smiled. "Let me do
three things." They nodded, watching her handle things. She got
done and they helped her down to the front desk to get a cab home.
The cat was there, their bags had gotten dropped. They got home
and found the cat was disgruntled. He was a huffy, nasty mooded
black cat. Clint got to clean the litter box, complaining that he
kept cleaning up after Natasha's cat. She came in to feed the cat,
which got her loved on. Clint stared at the cat. Dawn
laughed so they smiled back at her. "Let me set up to work from
home," she said.
Natasha took the tablet. "Get comfortable first." Dawn stripped down to her bra and underwear. "All the way."
"I can't talk to Pepper while naked."
"You two do that at the spa and it's not like she'll see you."
"She might need to video chat."
Clint got her a very comfortable tanktop with a built-in bra to put on. "Try that."
She put it on and smiled. "Very comfy." They smiled and let
her get to work. Though they did get to take the tablet from her
at one point when she took a nap. It only lasted twenty minutes
but she clearly needed it. They were reading and watching
the cat poke at Dawn's tablet because it wasn't petting him when he
rubbed against it for making noises.
It wasn't Pepper that called, it was Tony with Pepper behind him.
"Guys?" Dawn waved. "Not just you." They came over to
look at him. "Building's closed all week. We found more in
the air ducts. The zoo is really unhappy we didn't trap them but
they understood why. The health department is clearing it on
Friday. So we have the week off."
"That's going to suck for my paycheck," Dawn complained. "And the sixteen meetings this week."
"I've already called them," Pepper said. "We're going to be in Malibu for them and rescheduled the others."
"Okay, when do I need to be on the plane?" Dawn asked.
"You, sit, stay, good assistant," Tony ordered. "She's going to
Malibu. I'm staying here." Callia poked him. He
grinned at her. "Yes, because of your meet."
"I have that scheduled," Dawn promised when Callia stared at her.
Callia looked at her. "Why are you nearly naked?"
"I did not need that thought, daughter," Tony complained.
"Because Clint wanted me to get comfy and Natasha agreed," Dawn said.
"Oh. Because of your leg?"
"I guess I'll understand when I start dating."
Clint smiled. "Dawn and I agreed, we're going to find you a great
guy when you're about fifteen and let you two finish growing up
"Hell no!" Tony ordered.
"That way they can get used to each other," Natasha said with a small
smile. "Long before she trains him to heel correctly as a husband
"No! Not until after she's out of college."
Callia poked him on the arm a few times. "Daddy, I might be in
college and out of my first degree by then. You were."
He blinked a few times. "Don't remind me." Callia giggled
and ran off. He looked at them. "Twenty-nine, not fifteen."
"We'll see," Dawn said. "They might be too set in their ways by then."
"Uh-huh. Fifty is even better than twenty-nine," Tony said with a smirk.
"Then there's no grandkids to carry on the family name," Dawn quipped.
"We'll adopt genius teenagers." He hung up.
Dawn giggled, looking at her mates, taking kisses. "We need to encourage some kid spy."
"We do," Clint agreed. They settled around her to find contacts
with kids they could introduce Callia to. They wouldn't trust just
anyone with the kid but they knew a few that had kids they were
sure. "By the way, got the mail from the dropbox, Nat. We
got a lot of congratulation cards." She smiled at him. "You
can write the thank you notes."
"I can do that." She got back to her e-reader. Dawn yawned
but finished up the work she needed to get done for Pepper. Pepper
sent a 'thank you' email and she logged off for the day pending
Which they all hoped were done for the week.
Clint looked at her. "Now you can get naked." He grabbed her
panties and pulled them off, tossing them toward the closet with the
washer and dryer. Natasha got the tanktop bra. The cat
glared at her for daring to shift his napping spot since he was on
Dawn's stomach. Clint petted him and he huffed, climbing onto the
back of the couch. He knew naked humans meant stuff he didn't want
to have to watch. "Good boy cat." He took a kiss.
"How's the leg?" He shifted up, covering her body with his.
He was in boxer briefs and nothing else.
"I think it'll take getting a bit frisky."
"I don't want to hurt it." He spread his hand up her
stomach. "If it jar it, you have to tell me. Don't make me
"I'll do my best."
He kissed her again. "We can hold off and just cuddle."
"No we're not." She shifted and winced a bit.
Clint smiled. "Let us, Dawn. We'll take care of you and all
that you need." He kissed her. He shifted her position,
making sure her sore leg was over his hip. It gave him good access
to grope and her support. Natasha was going to get her
later. Clint wanted to make sure she was fully all right. He
hated her being injured. Dawn kissed him, drawing his mind away
from the checking to the better touching. He curled up against her
chest, just holding her. She smiled and stroked her nails through
his hair. He relaxed and poked her gently on the stomach, earning
a smile. "I was going to do more than get cuddly."
"Cuddly you is good to me too." He grinned.
Natasha smiled and took a kiss. "Unlike him, I will be making you
squeal later." She kissed Clint. "Am I taking your turn?"
"Nope. I'm very comfortable." He ran a hand up her stomach
to her breast, teasing the nipple with his fingers. Dawn smiled at
him. "We need to see how big of hellions the twins are."
"We do," she agreed, playing with his hair. "We can do that soon. She's due back soon."
"I know." He kissed her cleavage. "Did we agree on two years?"
"We did," Natasha reminded him. She smiled. "Until then we
can treat the furry one better than we will our future child.
Especially since we won't have to ground the cat for doing things."
Dawn nodded. "That is true. Cats are easier than kids are."
"You've done great helping with Callia," Clint promised.
She smiled. "Pepper snapped because I gave her some advice.
When she said I didn't have any kids so couldn't really give any I
kindly took Liz from her and reminded her I did a lot of Callia's early
raising. She slumped and went to take a nap."
"She does get mean when she's tired," Natasha agreed, stroking over
Clint's shoulder. "We should make him pounce you, Dawn."
Dawn kissed her and grinned. "If he wants to get cuddly that's
fine, 'Tasha. I'm okay with that. Even if I'd like pouncing
he needs cuddles and they're just as healthy. I'll pounce you
later." She took another kiss and smiled. "That way you can
wear out all the mushy feelings because we're adorable this way."
"You are and I do seem to have a backlogged storage area of mushy
feelings." She smiled. Clint grinned. Dawn was happy
enough and that's what they really needed.
Tony came back from the family's old mansion, handing Steve the pictures
he had picked up. "Here. Dad left them in his office."
Steve grinned, sitting down to go over them. It was them. He kissed Tony. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He smiled. Steve cuddled against him
looking over the pictures. "There's probably some old news reels
too. I didn't look for those. I don't like going into Dad's
Steve smiled. "We can go some other time. This is perfect, Tony. Thank you."
"Yeah, well, nothing on your birthday present."
Steve smiled. "This is a great birthday present." Tony was a
bit confused, he could see it. "This is incredibly special.
More than most anything could be," he said quietly, touching one.
He pointed. "That's my old team."
Tony looked. "I didn't know he took pictures of your team."
"Yeah. That's Peggy," he said with a sad smile and a point.
"The guys were always respectful of her." He leaned against Tony's
side. "This means more to me than anything, Tony."
He stroked over Steve's arm. "I knew you'd want them." Tony frowned, looking around. "Magic?"
Steve looked around. "I don't see anything like a glow."
"Me either but I can feel it. JARVIS, scan the penthouse."
"Callia's asleep," the AI said. "I can feel some energy but it's
not Dawn's power signature or Tara's. Not the twins' either."
"They are?" Steve asked Tony. "They don't float things like Callia used to."
"They do," Tony said. "Tara made sure they knew to only do it in
private, like she taught Callia." The feeling got stronger and he
looked. "It's there." They watched. There was a faint
glow but it didn't feel threatening, just weird. Then a shape
faded into view. "Dad," he said. It figured. Maybe
that's why he had always hated the mansion.
"Tony. Steve?" he asked, beaming at him.
Steve smiled and nodded. "Howard. Hi. How's that side?"
"Not bad. A bit boring. There's no computers."
"I'll have to have a grand tomb built so I can do what the Egyptians did
and bring what I'll need for an afterlife," Tony told Steve.
He smiled. "I thought you said to cremate you so no one could clone you."
"Oh, yeah. I wonder if I can do both."
"Probably won't work that way," Steve said, smiling slightly. Tony
was using it to divert his stress. He patted his knee.
"Thank you for saving these pictures for me, Howard."
"I knew we'd find you some day." He smiled. "This is nice, son. Not the mansion."
"No, this is Building A of the new Stark Towers in Manhattan. The
other one is more commercial and has training areas for the Avengers."
"Huh." Howard floated to the window to look around. "That's really bright."
"It is," Tony agreed. He looked at Steve, who shrugged. He
had no idea how to deal with ghosts. Dawn was out of touch.
Natasha had texted to warn him not to interrupt because they were doing
special things. Tara wasn't home tonight, they were at a
movie. The twins were in Callia's room until they got done.
"Dad, don't wake up the kids."
"Kids? More than one kid?" Howard asked, looking around. He
found their room and leaned in. One of the cats hissed at
him. "Easy, pussy. I'm not going to touch them or harm
them," he whispered. He backed out. "They're adorable, son."
"The two younger ones belong to a few friends, Dad. We're
babysitting. Callia's mine." He smiled. "She's already
a lot like me."
"She's your female clone," Steve agreed, smiling at him. "Only she's more animal centered than you probably ever were."
"I wasn't allowed to have pets."
"Cat fur gets in the way of electronics," Howard said, putting his hands
in his pockets. "You probably would've forgotten a dog."
Tony scowled at him. "It might've made me focus instead."
"Maybe," he said, grimacing some. "She has a lot of animals."
"She's very happy with animals. We love that about her." He
looked at Steve, who was texting at Pepper. Then back at his
father. This was really weird and probably mentally
damaging. He *really* wanted a drink right now. Pepper came
up from her apartment with Liz. "Hey, Pepper. You've seen my
dad's picture I'm sure. Hi, Liz." He took the cranky
baby. She pouted at him. "Fine, have Steve." Liz
squealed and hugged Steve, getting one back.
"I've seen a lot of kids do that to Steve," Howard said, looking Pepper over. "She's pretty, Tony. Your wife?"
"The CEO of the company," she said with a smirk.
"Too busy to deal with it, Dad." He waved a hand and looked at
Pepper. "Natasha said they were doing special things."
"Good! Dawn deserves it." She smiled at Liz, who was waving
at the ghost. "That's very nice of you to tell Tony's dad hi,
Howard smiled and waved back. "You're adorable."
"Yes, she is," Pepper agreed, taking her back now that she wasn't
fussy. She got pouted at instead. "Behave," she
ordered. The baby pouted anyway. She rolled her eyes,
shaking he head. "We'll have fun later, Liz." She looked at
Howard again. "So, why did you show up? As far as we know
ghosts only show up for reasons."
"I was floating around the house when my son finally came back to it. I thought I'd check on my legacy."
"Is Mom there?" Tony asked without looking back at him.
"No, I haven't seen her in years, son."
"So, like normal then, okay." He got up. "Pepper, nightcap?"
She handed him Liz. "No thank you." He stared at her. She smiled. "She wanted a bedtime story."
"We can do that," he told the baby, getting one of Callia's books to
read to her. She snuggled into his lap. Both Roomba dogs
came off the elevator and sniffed around the ghost, barking at each
other. "How did you two know we had a visitor?"
"I think Andrew put in a magic sensor," Pepper admitted.
"Magic?" Howard laughed. "We believe in that fairytale?"
Callia came out rubbing her eyes. "Barking woke me," she
complained. She looked at the ghost. "Daddy, is he like ET
or like the movie that Granma watched with the guy with the hair and the
"He's a ghost, Callia. That's your grandfather," Tony said, looking back at her. Liz let out a squeal.
Steve took her to finish the chapter, which got him smiled at by the
baby. "We'll let them talk since you're not a Stark," he said.
Callia looked at her father then at her grandfather. "I guess you
can't give hugs like Granpa Bruce." She shrugged. "We've
seen weirder. Daddy, the twins snore."
"They're not that loud and it means they're getting a cold," Pepper said patiently.
Callia hugged her. "Can I come camp in Liz's room?"
"No. Last time, Clint had hairballs on her rug and it kept me up."
"Oh, okay." She looked at Liz. "I remember that book."
Her father grinned. "We need to sort out my old books and toys
for Liz, Daddy."
"We do." He smiled. "I'm proud that you like to donate to
the other kids." He ran a hand over her hair. "You have
coven time this weekend, don't you?"
"I do. We're going over new herbology samples with some of the
elderly witches and I'm learning how to make tea." She
grinned. "Maybe more cookies too."
"That'd be great."
"Coven?" Howard asked. Magic was bizarre, even for his son.
Callia looked at him then made him glow purple. "Yes, the coven is
very good to me. They're like nice, teaching aunties." She
went back to hugging Pepper. She smiled at her father, who was a
bit upset. She could tell. She switched to hug him.
"It'll be okay. We can talk to Aunties Tara and Maria when they
come to get the twins."
"We can," he agreed. He checked the clock. "It should be soon. Go back to bed."
She yawned. "Can't sleep, Daddy. You know I get up to check on everyone sometimes."
"I know." He let her cuddle into his lap, patting her gently on
the back until she fell asleep. Then he got up to put her back
into bed. John curled around her and cuddled her stomach.
Melissa huffed at her lack of cuddling but he smoothed the blanket
around her and that was nicer. She snored loudly at that. He
walked out. "They've got that sinus thing again. Melissa
sounds like a chainsaw."
Pepper smiled. "Sometimes kids get sick." She took the
sleeping baby back. "Thanks, Steve. She was pouty. She
missed her Dawn fussing time today."
"She's a sweet baby. Enough to make everyone want one." She blushed and swatted him. "Any news?"
"Not yet. It's not time to take a test yet."
Tony nuzzled her ear with his nose. "We'll take it together."
"Unless you're going to pee on a stick for me," she teased with a smile.
"It won't really count if I do one. Though I probably should
because I was looking over Andrew and Jonathan's research again."
He sat down, looking at his father.
"So," Howard said awkwardly. "No wife, son? Widowed?"
"No. A government project knocked up Callia's mom with my
sperm." Howard moaned. "NID was not happy when we fought
"Oh, them. They were always a bit weird and had some of the most
deranged people." He shook his head, looking at Pepper.
"Won't your husband mind?"
"I went to a sperm bank." Howard looked confused.
"Dad, women can do it without a guy now," Tony said bluntly but he was
smiling and playing with Liz's hair. "She went to the genius sperm
bank. We were all really happy she decided to have the little
Steve grinned and nodded. "We're waiting to see if her second one
takes." He looked at the baby. "Why don't you put her down,
Pepper. She'll wake back up."
She swatted him. "She's fine, Steve." Tony took her to hold again. "Okay."
"Sometimes I miss Callia being this age."
"So do I. She was so sweet and delicate. She made whoever
was holding her stop to look at any flowers nearby or she'd fuss."
"Then she found cars," Steve said dryly.
"She did," Tony agreed with a grin. "And robots."
"Those too," Pepper sighed.
"We're hand-building her first car, Pepper. That way she learns how to forge metal."
"That'll be a great project for you two but start soon? There's a
lot of little parts and she keeps asking JARVIS how the forming machines
"I can do that. We'll design one together."
"You're working on the one for Sean's idea," Steve said.
"True, on goat power." They shared a smile.
"Sean? A son?" Howard asked.
"Her little brother by her mom and her husband, Dad. They're on Asgard."
"I thought that was a myth," he said, looking at the pretty purple
glow. Maybe he had missed a few things if magic was real.
"Can we do this scientifically? This glowing thing?"
"Different energy stream that has its own laws of physics," Pepper said
with a smile. "She has some wonderful tutors in that." She
took Liz back, putting her into a chair. Tony stole her
back. "Fine, you can cuddle Liz." She checked the
clock. "Tara and Maria should be done soon to pick up the twins."
"They're having dinner afterward," Tony said. "We all know I'll be
up." She smiled at him. He grinned back. "Steve could
babysit if I got lost in the lab."
"I know." She stroked over his hair. "Time for a trim."
"I will, Pepper."
"Are you two sure you're not together?" Howard asked.
"We've flirted with the idea but he's a jackass a lot of the time,"
Pepper said with a smile. Steve burst out laughing, nodding.
"It makes it hard to be with him full time. So I mercilessly
tease him most of the time."
"Yes you do," Tony said, looking over her satin lounging pajamas. "Those are pretty."
"Thank you. Dawn and I found them on our last shopping trip."
Melissa came out scowling. "Hush!" she ordered then went back to bed to cuddle her brother.
"Sorry, Melissa," Steve called. "We'll try to keep it down."
They waited until she started to snore again to relax. The dog
came out to stare at Tony. "No, you can't have Liz. Tony has
Liz," he told the dog. It barked a few times.
"If you wake up the twins, they're going to pet you bald," Tony told the
dog. It huffed but hopped up to lay beside him and on Liz.
Tony shook his head.
"Xander puppy," Callia called. "Let Daddy talk to Granpa.
C'mere. I'm trapped by Natasha and Clint kitties." The dog
got up to answer his mistress' distress call.
Pepper got up to close the door. The Dawn cat was out and was
sneaking up on Steve to pounce him. She liked to pounce him and
chatter at him. He always petted her for it. She pounced and Steve
flinched. She purred so he petted her. "The Dawn cat does
love you," Pepper joked with a grin.
"She does. I love her and her human counterpart like
sisters." He petted her. She nuzzled and purred at Liz, who
snored back. "I think she's getting the same cold."
"Possibly," Pepper agreed. Tony smirked. "I know, it's my
fault. We were picnicking on the roof when the rain
started." She sighed and took Liz into the bedroom to put her next
to Callia, who curled around her. She came back out. Dawn
raced in because she had put down catnip. If she didn't, Natasha
would steal it all and bat at them.
Steve yawned. "Let me hit the bunk too." He looked at Tony.
"I'll be there soon."
"Okay." He looked at Pepper, who smiled.
"Me too. We're going to go over the schedule he's been ignoring."
Steve smirked. "That's very evil, Pepper." He got up.
"Night, Howard. I hope it's a happier afterlife for you." He
smiled at him. "Your son's a great guy. I wish you had told
me about him when he was little. I would've liked to have known
him when he was Liz's age." He went to the bedroom.
"He would've fussed over me," Tony told Pepper, who smiled and
nodded. "It might've been nice." He shifted to look at his
father. Then at Pepper. "Schedule?"
"The meetings all got pushed back."
He pulled out his phone to synch it. He had forgotten for the last
few days. "Huh," he said, nodding slightly. "That's
good." She grinned. "Did the new supplier mind it being
"He said it was highly irregular until I told him about someone putting
poisonous snakes all over the building. He said it was fine if we
pushed it back to make sure they were gone, especially since Roomba 2
came in to zap that one that came out of the closet."
"That was bad," Tony said. "Did we ever find out who did that?"
"Not really. We know it's whoever tried to dent the budget by that
embezzlement. We can't find out who that log-in leads back
to. They've got enough skill to cover their tracks."
"I'll have a crack at it later," Tony decided.
"I had JARVIS check but he couldn't find it either, Tony."
"They could be at another lab," he said. "Their pass would get
them in here." She nodded that was true. "I'm not sure why
they'd do it though. Was it against us? The company?
Hating all of us and Dawn?"
"Not a clue," she admitted. "I'm not sure it's not some zealot."
"Could be. We've had a few of those." His phone
beeped. "Oh, not tonight," he complained, looking at it.
"Tonight," he complained, answering it. "Better be good." He
listened. "Yeah, I can handle that."
"Need me?" Steve called.
"No. I might need Natasha though." He called her phone, getting her. "Ten Rings just popped up in LA."
Steve came out pulling on a shirt. "I'm helping too then."
Tony listened. "That's fine, Romanoff. Meet us here.
It'll take me ten to get dressed." He hung up and looked at
Pepper, who nodded but smiled. He kissed her. "Let me go
defeat the assholes who had me captured that time." He opened his
suit cabinet, stepping up onto the plate for the newest version.
Howard was giving him strange looks but he expected that from his
father. Steve was pulling on his uniform. Natasha came off
the elevator by the time Steve was done. She was in her battle
uniform. "Pepper, is the beaming satellite up?"
"And working. The boys made sure. Then Rodney checked over their shoulders."
"Great." He hit the switch to beam them to the LA lab. They had SHIELD agents waiting there to brief them.
"Who's Rodney?" Howard asked. He'd consider why his son was running around in a mechanized suit of armor later.
She smiled. "A friend of Tony's who works for a military project
that deals with alien menaces. It's their satellite design but
Tony shamelessly borrowed and upgraded it with their knowledge. He
comes in to tinker with the boys now and then." She stood
up. "Let me check on where Tara and Maria are so they can get the
twins. Callia will pout if they steal her cereal in the
morning." She picked up Tony's phone from the table and sat down,
texting Maria's phone to let her know that the trio had went to LA for
"No nanny?" he asked. "Tony had one for a few years until she kept losing him."
"We do have one. She's asleep. I'm not yet so I can babysit
for now. It's not a problem and I can work as easily up here as I
can in my own apartment downstairs." She pulled up her files to
work on the new agreement. Dawn would've had it edited for her but
the last week had been seriously bad. Again. It seemed to
come in waves. Hopefully this one was done with. Dawn needed
a slight vacation from their insanity.
Callia trudged back out to curl up against her side. "Now Liz is
snoring at Melissa. I'll never get to sleep." She yawned and
got a hug. "Is that the budget?"
"Yes it is."
She pointed. "What's that?"
"That's the administrative costs. My salary, your dad's, Dawn's. The various administrative offices."
"So the one for lab costs is theirs?"
"No, that's what this is," she said, pointing at a line on the
display. "This is for things like lab supplies and
machines." She looked at her, smiling. "That's where we pay
for pips, test tubes, and new soap."
"Okay. So that's the coffee budget too?"
"Coffee for the labs is under employee comfort," she said, pointing at
that line. "That's the caf, the infirmary, and the coffee budget
for the labs."
Callia yawned again and nodded. "Then that's where the gym's
is?" Pepper smiled and nodded, petting over her hair. She
yawned again. "You don't snore like Liz. I don't know who
her daddy was but he must've snored a lot." She snuggled in and
pointed. "Is that the building fund?"
"That is," she agreed, highlighting that one. It opened that
line's sub-budget. "This is the building's budget. The
maintenance team, any needed repairs, the cost of the new building."
"Why is there that line? What's accrued wear-down?"
"Each building is worth so much and is expected to last so long.
Same with machines and cars," she said. "In any real corporate
budget you have to take into account how much depreciation there
is. That means how much the worth of the asset goes down by year
because it's aging. Like a new car is worth more than an older car
unless it's a classic."
"Oh. I didn't know you had to do that."
"For personal budgets you don't. Like the one we helped you make
up for your allowance? You don't have to worry about that.
This is for corporate assets: machines, cars, buildings. That
Callia nodded, blinking hard and yawning again. "Is that based on
blue book value for cars or just dividing the cost you paid for it?"
"Mostly it's based on that but there's a way to account for blue book
value on cars if it's a special case. Your dad's car collection
has a lot of that." She nodded and grinned, she loved the
cars. Pepper pulled up that budget. "That's his personal
budget for the car collection. It lists them as assets, because
they're worth money, and how they depreciate." She looked down and
smiled at the baby snore. "You're getting the same cold, young
lady," she said quietly. She tucked her in. Callia would
wake up if she was moved right now. When she was fully asleep,
Pepper put her back in bed and got back to work on the budgets.
She sent some to Dawn to do in the morning when she logged on. No
answer to the email. "JARVIS, is Dawn all right?"
"They had a very touching day once she logged off, Pepper."
"Aww." She smiled. "Good for her. When she logs on tomorrow make sure she hits her email."
"I shall. I shall also ignore whatever they want her to wear tomorrow. Today they wanted her to be comfortable."
"We saw." She smiled. "Clint takes good care of her and Natasha is a lot more fussy than I thought she'd be."
"Indeed," the AI agreed. "Agent Hill and Tara have entered the building."
"Wonderful." She smiled when they came off the elevator. "They're all snoring."
"Great, another cold," Maria sighed.
"Even Liz?" Tara asked, giving her a hug.
"Yup, and Callia. She said Melissa keeps waking her up by snoring."
Maria nodded. "Me too." Tara scowled and bopped her on the arm but Maria kissed her. "They do."
"They do me too. You learn to go back to sleep."
Maria grinned. "I do, I just pull you against me and bury my nose
in your hair so I can do that." She saw where Tara was
looking. "I've seen your picture in Stark's file. So you
must be his father."
"I am. You're with...."
"SHIELD. The Executive Officer of SHIELD."
"Wonderful. We weren't sure if any agency would let women get that
high in my day." He smiled at Tara. "Well met."
She smiled and waved. "I should probably banish you."
"I'm not sure if you can. My granddaughter only made me glow purple."
"She likes purple." She banished him from the tower. "I'll
find out what's holding him and see if we can break it," Tara sighed,
looking at Pepper. "Before he freaks Dawn out."
"Thank you. He was freaking Tony out."
"I've heard. Better than mine were but still a butthole."
She went into the bedroom, stepping over the lounging cats. "Move,
Xander." He got off John's back. "Thank you. It's
good you like John as a puppy pillow just like Marble does." She
petted the dog and handed John off to Maria then got Melissa. Liz
fussed so she smoothed a hand over her leg, putting the throw blanket
over her. "There, baby. You rest," she said quietly.
She backed out with the other kid. They had gotten there with the
kids already in pajamas so they had what they needed. "I'll look
it up tomorrow."
"Thanks," Pepper said, smiling and waving at Melissa since she was
slightly awake. "Have a good night, Melissa." She got a
grunt in response and her snuggling into her mom's shoulder. They
left and Pepper settled in to watch the kids nap while dealing with
mundane things she hadn't gotten to earlier due to her panic attack
about the snakes.
Dawn came in the next day, followed by Clint. Pepper was in the office. "The budgets are a wreck."
"They are," she agreed, smiling. "We're all working from home this week."
"Yeah, but Natasha's not there and it's our day so I'll make it home when she does." She grinned.
"We're also mooching food from the caf," Clint said with a grin.
"We're out. We don't want to be pounced by reporters for daring to
"I did the same thing last night," Pepper admitted, smiling at
them. Clint ran a hand up Dawn's arm, getting a happy smile.
It was good to see. "Let her do the budget, Clint. Stare
and be amazed at her skills."
"I am after I get us breakfast." He went down to do that.
Dawn came in to go over the various budgets they had to deal with.
Stark's was going to be a wreck due to the new appraisal of the artwork
and the car collection. Dawn had some ideas that could get
dropped. Like the F1 racing team. It was a crappy year and
dissolving it would lose a few jobs they could put somewhere else.
Clint came up with coffee for both of them and danish. She
smiled. "Thank you, Clint."
"Welcome, Dawn." He took a kiss and settled in to watch over
them. Pepper looked at him. "Not like we'd let you go
unguarded, Pepper. Someone might try to hurt you or the sprouts."
"They're with Beya," she said with a grin. "Going over
homework. Callia's reading hers to Liz since she's doing a
literature section and math."
"Cool. We can teach her accounting later on this year," Dawn
quipped. She settled in there with her tablet to make the
corrections. She had plugged in a keyboard to make it easier on
her. It also let her put her leg up.
Howard faded in. "It's not usual for the CEO's assistant to work in her office," he noted calmly.
Dawn looked up at him. "Tara told me you were around, Howard
Stark. Frankly, with my broken leg, I need it propped up and
Pepper's my mentor as well as my boss, though I'm actually Tony's
assistant." She got back to work.
"It's broken?" he asked. "You used to need a cast for that."
"I cut it off to go kill the assassins who tried to kill myself and my
spouse," she said bluntly, not looking up from her work. "It got
in the way." He gasped. She smiled at him. "Some of us
are perky super assistant sorts and very deadly when we're
threatened." She got back to the budget but Pepper was snickering
"We love you more for it," Clint assured her with a smile.
She grinned back. "Does that mean we have sparring later?"
"Not until your leg heals. You don't *need* it so we can
wait." He finished his danish. "Eat." She dug in,
shrugging some at his look. "Can Doc x-ray her today, Pepper?"
"I don't think we have anyone in the infirmary. We have an on-call if we need one for the kids."
"That's fine. It can wait," Dawn assured her. "I know it's not fully healed. It hurt this morning."
"They do that," Clint agreed. "Your wrist ached for weeks even after it was healed."
She smiled at him. "I still can't heal bones, Clint."
"I know." He shifted to cross his feet. "I can hear
feet. So either it's Callia and Liz or the dog." It was
both. The dog was following Liz's crawling form.
Callia came in and hugged her aunt then climbed into Pepper's lap to
hand her the book. "Beya doesn't know what that word means and I
have no idea. I can't find it on wikipedia or anything, Auntie
She looked then smiled. "Ishmael is a name, Callia. I have
no idea why they named him after the captain in _Moby Dick_ but it's a
Dawn pulled up a naming site she liked. "This one has names from
all over the world." She pushed the virtual display over to the
desk and picked up Liz since she was patting her bad leg. "Hey,
Liz. Help the Auntie do the budget for the Uncle Tony." Liz
beamed and waved when she spotted Clint, getting one back. She
glanced at the dog. "Callia, take your dog out now please."
She looked and hopped up to take him outside because he looked like he
was trying not to poop on the rug. They barely made it. It
was nasty but she was a good pet parent so she cleaned it up with a
guard watching over her. Since she didn't have shoes on, she
pointed at a light post. "Go pee too, Xander puppy. I need
shoes to walk you." He ran over to pee then came back when she
whistled. Her daddy had been helping her train the animals.
"You okay?" The dog sniffed and ran off. She ran after
him. "Xander!" He appeared, blinking at her. "Not you,
the dog! It's running for traffic! Get out of the
way!" He floated the dog back, handing him over. "Thank you,
Uncle Xander. It was an emergency bringing out so I don't have
shoes on or his leash."
"I know you're usually very good to him, Callia. Your mom and I
are both really proud about how good you do with the animals." He
smiled. "Let's go back inside. It's a bit chilly out here to
not have shoes on." She nodded, letting him pick her up with the
dog. "Maybe you could put an emergency leash at the front desk
with the poop bags," he said.
"I can do that." She tossed out that one and they went to wash her
hands, which let the dog drink out of the toilet, then they went back
up to the office. "He's better now. Uncle Xander stopped him
when he ran off to sniff a crappy Ford minivan." She hopped down
and grinned at him. "Thank you for the ride too, Uncle Xander."
"You're welcome, Callia. Be a good girl."
"Are my brother and sisters okay?"
"They're fine. Sean's learning how to use a bow from his dad this
week. Your sisters are still naked little hell bitches who like to
tease the wolves." She cackled and grinned. "You'll see
them soon. Buffy's tired of not having anywhere to shop and
wearing skirts." She beamed and climbed back up with Pepper to go
over her homework. Xander looked at the ghost. Then at
Dawn. "Still not better?"
"I can't heal bones," she reminded him with a smile.
He squatted down to look at it. "I can move it ahead but not heal
it fully." He blew on his hands to lay around the broken area and
then pushed the spell into her skin. She moaned and winced a
bit. He smiled. "Sorry, a bit warm. It's mostly
healed. The front bone is still a bit cracked but the back one is
fully healed." He stood up. "I also eased the muscle strain
you've been fighting." He tipped his head, staring at her.
"Did you read the rest of the book you handed Phil when I marked
him?" He gave Clint a pointed look and grinned. "Welcome to
the family." He disappeared.
"I had not," Dawn admitted, pulling up her copy she kept in an online
storage area. She found the section and frowned. "Huh.
Clint, we've started to bond like they did when they went elemental
form and joined." She sent it over to him to look over. "Up
to you, dear."
He read it, looking through it at her. He stroked along their
bond, earning a tiny grin from her. "I like how it is now.
If it happens it does." He closed it. Though he did tell
Natasha that so she could work her way around it. She still
guarded her part of the bond too tightly to open up to that sort of
Dawn rolled her neck and smiled when Liz pounced her to hug.
"Thank you, that's a great hug, Liz." She cuddled her. "Some
day soon I'll teach you how to do super assistant stuff too. That
way when I'm too old to do it for Callia you can take over for me."
Pepper smiled. "She might like that."
"If she has sense like her mommy I'd really like that. She can be
my Pepper." Callia smiled at Pepper. "Because you keep us
"I try really hard with your dad," she teased, smiling back.
"I know but sometimes the machines take over. They do mine
too." She hugged her. "We need to pick out a name for the
"Look over the name site, give her twenty suggestions and what they
mean, then find examples of them in the modern literature or media,"
Dawn ordered, looking at her. "That way she'd know who else shares
the baby's name. If she likes them, she'll start her list."
"I can do that," she said happily. She got her tablet by floating it in and looked up name sites. "Just this one, Auntie?"
"Go to _Behind the Names_," Pepper said. "That's how I picked Liz's name."
"Sure." She pulled up that site and went to sit beside Clint so
she could curl up against his side. "You're very comfy," she
assured him when he looked down at her. "Plus I'm helping you get
used to babies for when you three have some."
"I like that idea." He gave her a hug. "Your dad said Dawn can't have one at the same time as Pepper though."
She shrugged. "That means you get more training time in so you'll
be super special agent level at it when it happens." She grinned.
"Like Auntie Tara taught Auntie Maria how to. Or Uncle Phil is
teaching Uncle Xander. The twins are apparently very good for
training parents on."
"We've babysat them a few times," he assured her. She grinned. "You too."
"You guys need more legos and stuff. Melissa likes legos too. John likes to color."
"We bring down some of their toys when we babysit them," Dawn assured
her. "I'm not sure Natasha would like having legos in the house."
"She should. She's really smart like you and Uncle Clint, and
Uncle Rodney agreed that all geniuses like legos." She beamed at
"I do like lego models," he agreed.
Dawn smiled. "We can set some up in my office since I hardly use it."
"We can," he agreed. "Nat likes puzzles."
"I can get her a great one," Callia said happily. "Is her birthday soon?"
"She celebrates it in September," Dawn said.
"She doesn't celebrate it when it happens?" Callia asked Clint.
He shook his head. "It's part of being a spy. It helps hide her real identity."
"Huh. That sucks. Unless she gets two?" she asked him.
He laughed. "She does from us, yes."
"Then that's great. Auntie...."
"Only if you join SHIELD, dear," she said.
"No, they don't like animals and I'd hate to turn mean." She
patted Clint on the leg. "Thankfully Auntie Dawn saved you from
"She did." Callia smiled at her. Dawn did too but she was blushing some. "Get back to your research project."
"Ooh! Yup. We need it soon."
"Not that soon," Pepper told her. "We're only talking about it right now, Callia."
She snorted. "Bull crap. You feel like you did when you had
Liz. You're having another baby." She got back to
work. "I know that means I have months but still. It takes
time to make a big decision like this. People might not like it or
the baby might not like it. Then they'd be sad."
"They can change it when they're an adult," Dawn assured her.
"Really?" She looked that up through the news sites. "Huh,
people do. Someone changed his name to something really stupid."
"That happens," Clint agreed with Dawn.
"There's all sorts of people in the world, niece, and you won't always
agree with them but they have the right to their opinions and lives,
even if you do think it's stupid." She looked at her.
"Remember the Candyland talk?"
"Yup. Still, he changed his name to Yabba Dabba Do."
"Yeah, that's pretty dumb but apparently he loves the Flintstones so
that was his choice and it's his life," Dawn said more firmly.
"And you have to respect that they have that right even if you think
"I do. If he wants to have a car that runs on foot power, that's
all on him," she said with a wave of her hand. "I want an engine
because that would ruin my pedicure." She got back to it.
"You get pedicures?" Clint asked her.
"We go together," Pepper said with a grin. "She got it for her
upcoming gymnastics meet." Callia smiled and nodded. "Which
I'll be in Malibu for so someone's going to take film for me, Callia."
"I can handle that as long as Daddy shows up. He'll take film." She smiled at her aunt.
"As far as I know I'm coming."
"Okay. Good." She smiled at Clint.
"If I'm here. I've never seen one in person, only on tv."
The baby wiggled and beamed at him. He pointed. She got back
to her homework. Dawn grinned at him for it. "Kids need
more education than I got."
"I think you're plenty smart," Dawn said. "Not everyone is a book
nerd, Clint. You and Xander are both hands-on learners." He
grinned. "Just because I suck up languages doesn't mean you have
to." She blew a kiss. "You taught me plenty of things I'd
never learn in a book."
Callia looked at him. "She needs a kiss. It'll put the whipped cream on her mushy mood."
"She can come get one if she wants one. Cuddling you is important
and she's working. There's no kissing on company time according to
"That was never the rule in my day," Howard said, glancing at
Pepper. "My wife came to visit me many times in the lab. In
fact, I think that's where Tony got conceived."
Dawn looked at him. "First, she's seven in four more days.
Does your granddaughter need that knowledge?" He flinched away
from her. "Second, these days women have the right to say
'no'. In all areas of life. Including in the bedroom.
Even if they're the husband." She stared him in the eyes and
smiled. "I would hope that your granddaughter didn't need bimbos
like you used to covet and her father used to date."
"I still say they look mean," Callia said dryly. "All the models
look pouty and mean. It's stupid and not very pretty."
"No it's not," Clint agreed. "A smile is always prettier than a pout." Dawn grinned at him. "See?"
Callia grinned back at her. "He's very mushy."
"When we go on break in a while I'll kiss him to add sprinkles onto his
happy mood." Dawn gave him a flirty look. Clint smirked back
and shifted to cross his feet. "How's Natasha doing?"
"They're fine so far. No major surges of anything beyond annoyance."
"That's cool." She finished up the first few and sent them to Pepper to be looked over.
"Math error," Pepper said with a point.
Dawn looked then at her. "That's from the original." She
showed her the unaltered version. She always opened a copy to edit
on important documents.
Pepper stared then sighed. "I must've been half asleep."
"Could be. Liz does wear you out, boss." She looked at the
napping baby then grinned. "By the way, she needs changed."
"I do not change poopy diapers until they're my kid or I'm babysitting and getting paid for it," Callia said firmly.
"You're a bit young to do either," Howard said.
Callia pulled up a story. "Granma showed me that." He
blinked at the story of the eleven-year-old mother and how that was
becoming more problematic due to early puberty. He
shuddered. "Keep it up, I'll give Daddy a baby when I'm fourteen
so he has a son to take over the suit while I do other great things."
Dawn cleared her throat. "I would *so* beat you until you begged for fucking mercy, young lady."
"Yup, and I'd help," Pepper agreed, smiling at her.
"Also, you can have the suit if you want," Dawn said. "Girls can
fight. Natasha and I prove that every single day. If you
want to follow your dad into the Iron Man suit, that's between you and
him and you can do that."
Callia bit her bottom lip. "I don't know if I'd be good enough."
Clint nudged her. "Everyone has flaws and times when they're not
good enough. The important thing is knowing when you are good
enough and dealing with those times the best you can."
She nodded, hugging his arm. "I understand and I'll talk to Daddy
about it when I'm older. I'm not sure if I want it. It's
really hard and a lot of hours working on that instead of other things."
"Which is why I took over as CEO," Pepper agreed. "Still, if
that's what you want, you and your dad can talk about it and handle it."
She nodded, tipping her chin up. "When I'm old enough to think about it, I will. I'm still really little."
"You are," Dawn agreed, smiling at her. "But never put yourself
down because you're a girl and girls aren't supposed to do things.
Girls can do *anything*."
"I can be president?" she asked with a shiteating grin.
"Yes you can and we'd probably vote for you," Clint agreed.
"Cool!" She got back to her homework. "JARVIS, can I please
have some pretty music from Atlantis' collection?" Pepper got up
to grab Liz and change her.
"Of course. Instrumental or vocal?" he asked from the desk speaker.
"Instrumental, strings," Dawn said. He put some on. "Thanks, JARVIS."
Howard looked around. "My son created an artificial intelligence?"
"Yes," Dawn said with a smile. "Shortly before you died." He
scowled at her for that dig. She got back to work. She sent
a message to her mother. "Fury's having a growling day according
to Mom. Apparently the WSC decided that being thwarted wasn't
their happy day," she said sarcastically.
"We need to move SHIELD out from under the World Security Council,"
Pepper agreed, sitting back down one Liz was back on the couch.
She'd naturally head for Dawn anyway so might as well make it easier on
"As I pointed out, we don't get paid to be Avengers," Clint said.
Pepper smiled at him. "Why are they growling at him now?"
"He's to disband the Avengers team, scatter you as much as possible by
hiding Natasha and getting rid of you. He's to hand Bruce to the
army to test on. He's to hire 300 new agents and become more
military style," Dawn said, showing him the email mentally. He
glared. She nodded. "So I solved some of it getting the
assassins coming after us, but not enough."
"Make me something and I'll go administer it," he offered.
She smiled. "I can do that." He grinned back. "The next set might be worse."
"Can't be much worse," Clint said.
"Yeah, they can be. This one still wants me to quit fighting their
plans to knock me up with some random agent's baby to make future
Avengers. Their assistants and seconds-in-commands have whole new
people to help them with that plan."
"Unless you're having billions of babies that's genetically unsound to
try," Pepper said. "Plus you can't get pregnant by everyone."
"No but ATA genes do make stronger warriors," Dawn reminded her.
"Which he somehow found out about and they found out by hacking the
"Fuck 'em," Clint said bluntly. "If they come near you that way,
they're going to be very sorry for the last few minutes of their
lives." Dawn smiled, relaxing some. "The only ones that get
to knock you up are me and 'Tasha."
Callia poked him on the arm. "Is she going to use Andrew's research on male pregnancies to do that?"
He shrugged. "We have other ways. There's things like IVF."
"TMI," Pepper said firmly.
"Agreed," Dawn said. "Don't worry, you can do it in a lab, Callia."
"Oh, I didn't know that." She looked up what IVF was but JARVIS
blocked it. "Hey!" she complained to the ceiling. "They
mentioned it, JARVIS."
"It's still rated above your age level," the AI said dryly. "Your father would not be amused."
"Can you ask him?"
"I did. He said he's not amused and to spank Agent Barton."
"Oh. Sorry, Unclie Clint."
"It's fine. Your dad can't beat me in sparring to spank me." He grinned.
Callia patted him. "He'd have Uncle Steve do it." Clint nodded she was right.
"Then I'd get to get Uncle Steve for touching what's mine," Dawn said
dryly, going back to work. "Remember to pick names for both
"That's right, Liz could have a brother," Clint said with a grin for Pepper.
"Tony would be over the moon," she said. "He wanted a little clone
to warp more than he has Callia." She gave her a look. "He
wants to teach them to skateboard and you don't want to learn."
"It's dangerous and I might damage my big brain. Rodney said so."
"That's why there's helmets," Dawn said. "Also, you're learning how to ride a bike this year. And rollerblading."
"Cool!" She looked at Clint.
"I can teach you some of that, yeah. I'm pretty good at teaching rollerblading, sprout. I taught your aunt."
"Great!" She pounced him for a hug. "Now? Today?"
Pepper got into her desk and tossed over a slim wallet case. "Her shopping budget, Barton."
"Okay." He got up, taking Callia up with him. He stood her
up. "Get ready to go out." She ran off to put on better
clothes and shoes. He kissed Dawn, who smiled and pulled him down
for a better one. "Bike, rollerblades, safety gear?"
"Yup. Make sure they can grow with her for a bit. She's
mid-growth spurt." She smiled. "Get her kid things.
She needs more kid things." He nodded, walking out to meet her at
the elevator. She watched him walk, smiling. She liked those
jeans on him. She got back to work when he caught her looking and
"She does need more kid time than lab time," Pepper said once they were
gone. Dawn smiled and nodded. "It might help her get over
her fear of the park too."
"Why is she scared of the park?" Howard asked. "That seems a bit odd."
"Because the last time she went with Tony and Steve, twenty-four people
with guns and explosives showed up to protest Tony and Steve being
together," Dawn said. "Which then led to protests here and the
building being invaded a few times by bigots."
Howard gaped. "That hasn't been fixed yet?"
"Damn." He shook his head. "Then it's good to work on that."
"The first few times she'll go with more guards because Tony's sensitive
enough to know she'll want them there, and then they'll cut back.
Having something to take her mind off it will help too. She could
also use more time in the sunshine and the fresh air." She got
back to work. "Is she going back to Bollywood dancing?"
"Um, not sure," Pepper admitted, making a note to ask her later.
"She's got gymnastics. She's got swimming lessons." Dawn
nodded she knew that. "She needs new suits for both." She
made that note as well. "We need to do a full kid shopping trip."
"We do," Dawn agreed. "That shirt she was wearing was obviously one of mine she stole."
"I thought it was Natasha's."
"Nope. 'Tasha stole it from me first." Pepper laughed.
Howard scowled. She stared at him. Joyce walked in looking
happy with Bruce behind her. "Clint's getting her rollerblades and
"Good," Joyce said, hugging her. "It's about time the girl learned." She smiled. "We're going to lunch."
"She can go," Pepper promised with a smile. "She's already done
half of my work for me." Dawn sent over the ones she was working
on. "That's more than half, thanks."
"Welcome." She handed over her tablet. "Pull off the files
for the steel meeting." She did that and the other ones, handing
it back. "Okay, we're going to eat." She looked at herself
then at her mother. "The Italian place in the other tower?"
"The Korean one," Bruce said with a smile.
"Sure." They walked out together. A few people over there
stared but Dawn smiled and they got back to what they had been
doing. The Korean restaurant was nice and slightly dark but it had
a great window on the terrace area of the tower. They got to sit
there and chat about Callia things. Including her birthday.
Callia had wondered why kids had parties. They were going to make
sure of it even if Tony didn't think about it. Dawn had already
arranged things and Pepper knew. Joyce had found the cake place
for her and it was all set too. So it was good.
When someone started to shout and shoot a gun, Dawn let her mom tape it
for Youtube while she and Bruce went to handle it. "Stop it!"
Bruce ordered, starting to change.
Dawn pulled her weapon. "Stark Security, put it the fuck
down!" The guy flinched and looked. Dawn smirked. "Hi,
welcome to Stark Tower B. How are you today?" He dropped
the gun, staring over her shoulder at Bruce, who was about half Hulked
out. "Good idea." Security ran in. "Check upstairs,"
Dawn ordered. They did. Police showed up and the guy got
arrested. She checked the gun. "Rubber bullets."
The officer nearest her smiled. "That means he wasn't going to
kill anyone. That's great." He took the gun once she had
made it safe for him. "Thank you, Miss Summers."
"Welcome. We hate stupid people like him." She smiled
sweetly at the guy. "You're making me miss lunch with my
mother." He nearly dragged the officer holding his cuffs to the
cruiser. She went back in there with a trip to wash her
hands. Then came out to get back to eating.
"Less swearing, Dawn," Joyce ordered.
"Yes, Mom. Sorry." The nearby people laughed. "I'm a
good girl. I listen to my mother most of the time." That
eased the rest of the tension.
One young teen came over to stare at Joyce. "I need a mom like you. You made a kick-ass daughter."
She smiled. "I made two but Dawn's pretty special and a good
girl." She smiled at her daughter then at the young woman.
"No, unfortunately not my area."
Dawn smiled. "I like accounting and languages. My stepfather
and Tony Stark taught me all the science I know." The girl
blushed at Bruce and waved then ran off. "Good luck," she called
after her. "I know high school's hard, dear." She smiled at
"You took AP biology and chemistry," he reminded her.
"And didn't learn a thing."
He laughed. "That figures." They finished up their lunch and
delivered Dawn back before going back to SHIELD. Fury was still
in a rage over his bosses. Bruce looked at him. "Then remove
SHIELD from the World Security Council. The team all thought that
should happen. Especially when they had plans to get rid of Clint
in a way that would kill him and Dawn."
"If that assassin vampire had gotten Dawn, I would've destroyed them and
the people who had the plans myself," Joyce said with a smile.
"You'd have backup for that," Maria assured her. "Good
lunch?" Bruce handed her a bag. "Thank you, Bruce."
She inhaled the scent of the soup. "This is what I wanted."
She settled in at her desk to eat it.
Fury looked at her. "Go to the caf. You are entitled to lunch breaks."
"They sent a memo saying I was a weak agent and I'd be removed," she
said, finding it and handing it over with a smile. "So I'll stay
here for security reasons until we can finish the security sweep of the
He read it, glaring at the paper. He was surprised it didn't light
on fire. He stomped off to talk to the agents doing the security
sweep. Coulson was in charge and handling it so it was getting
done right. He wouldn't let anything happen to Hill or Tara.
Or Joyce really. Not that anyone really wanted to bother
Joyce. It might piss off Banner and that was not what anyone
wanted to happen. Even the Army had learned not to piss off Banner
after Dawn had defended him.
Maria slurped up some more soup and smiled at Joyce. "Any news?"
"Clint's getting Callia her first bike and rollerblades."
"Wonderful. Tara can rollerblade and so can the kids so they can
go together." She finished her soup and got back to work.
Clint looked around the sports store. He knew Stark would go
somewhere like this instead of Walmart for her gear. The salesman
was very sweet when he walked up to them, clearing his throat to make
sure he got noticed. "Hey, I'm her uncle. We're getting her a
bike, rollerblades, safety gear, and any other normal kid things."
"We have soccer balls and basketballs."
"I do okay at soccer," Callia said. "But I could never play on a team. I get distracted too easily."
"Let's go look then." He led them to that section.
Callia found a bike she liked. It was an older styled one with the
banana seat and streamers from the handlebars. Clint tested and
it was in her height range so that was good. The rollerblades got
picked by her, purple ones with sparkles. It matched her
bike. The helmet and safety pads got picked too. She
looked. "Uncle Clint, they have bows." She looked up at him,
"Your dad said you had to be nine for me to teach you how to use a real
bow." He smiled. "Get the nerf kind." She laughed and
hugged him. He pointed. "Want to try golf or any other
"I need new swimming suits and leotards."
"We don't sell those here, unfortunately," the salesman told her.
"Pity. But I have aunties who can take me clothes shopping." She smiled and pointed. "What's that for?"
"SCUBA," Clint said. "Swimming underwater with tanks on your
back. You have to take lessons in that. I can do it but I
can't teach it."
She considered it. "I'm doing okay in swimming lessons. I'm
in the advanced class now and they're asking if I want to try
diving." She got new goggles and ear plugs. She considered
it then looked at him. "Where would I take lessons?"
"Ask your swim instructor."
"I can do that." She looked at the other stuff, finding a few things. "Why do they have pellet guns?"
"To teach on," Clint said, taking one to show her by squatting
down. "See, it's real lightweight and a good way to learn how to
hit targets." She nodded, touching it with a few fingers.
"You can't be scared of them, Callia. You have to learn how to not
be scared of them. It's not going to bite you and if you run into
one you need to know how to handle it in case of emergencies or so you
can't accidentally hurt yourself."
She nodded. "I can see that. Can you teach me that? Or Auntie 'Tasha?"
He smiled. "We'd love to teach you that, sprout." She
grinned and he got her a paintball set with a wink. "That's not
quite the same but we'll talk to your dad about a pellet gun when he
gets back." She nodded and they checked out. Dawn had to
call in the card number, that card was expired. The salesman was
happy to do it for her and they got things into the security SUV he had
borrowed for the trip.
She got home happier and called down her aunts to show them stuff.
Clint got her bike set up for her height and Dawn got her helmet.
He showed her how to balance and then how to pedal. She got it
fairly quickly but her first wreck was traumatic and she sobbed for
nearly twenty minutes over it until Dawn got her calmed down and back
onto the bike. That got her determined to beat this thing that had
gotten her scraped knees and hands. She did okay and was soon
zipping around the parking garage.
Tony came off the elevator with Steve and Natasha. "Looking good, mini me."
"Hi, Daddy," she called, smiling and waving. "I'm beating it! It won't bite me again!"
"Good job." He looked at Dawn then at Clint. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He grinned at Natasha then at Tony. "She's scared of guns."
"Good!" Tony said.
"Bad," Dawn corrected. "It means she can get hurt if she
accidentally runs into one that got dropped during something." She
looked at him.
Tony considered it then nodded. "You can teach her gun safety. She's too young to learn how to fire."
"I can do that," Clint said. "She asked me if me or Natasha could."
"Good," Tony said with a smile. "You're both excellent with
them." He looked at Natasha, who nodded she could. "No bows,
"I told her you said nine."
"Pellet gun?" he suggested. "Though, she has paintball so you two can go together."
"I might like that," Steve said with a happy grin. He sat on the bumper
of the SUV. Callia came back and stopped. "Looking very
"Thank you, Uncle Steve." She kissed him on the cheek.
"Mom said that Auntie Tara has taught the twins how to rollerblade so you can go with them," Dawn said.
"I can do that," she said, looking at her father. "You can go."
"I can go, yes. So can Uncle Steve. He doesn't inline skate, he uses the old ones."
"Well, duh. He likes things like he grew up with, Daddy."
"Manners," Tony ordered.
"Oops. Sorry." She zipped off on her bike.
"She really is a mini you," Pepper agreed. Tony pinched her on the
arm. She smiled. "What else did you guys get?"
"She got some new goggles. They didn't have swimsuits,
thankfully. She asked about SCUBA stuff and I told her to ask
about it. We talked about a lot of the stuff in the sports store."
"That's good," Tony agreed. He took the wallet back with the receipt. "Card's expired?"
"Yup," Dawn said. "Pay me back, boss."
Callia rode past them again. "I got pretty skates, Daddy."
"That's wonderful." He sat beside Steve, looking at the pile of
bags. "Where are my skates?" he asked Dawn and Pepper.
"Bedroom closet," Pepper guessed.
"Second closet, back of it, and you need to replace a boot strap."
"Thanks." He went up to get them and came back down with them
on. Callia watched, staring at what he was doing. She got
off her bike, letting Clint show her how to use a kickstand. They
got her into her new skates and the elbow and knee pads. She took
Tony's hand. "Like with ice skating, which you can try next
winter." He smiled.
"Your mom used to take lessons for that," Dawn said. She leaned
against Clint's side, getting his arm around her shoulders. Tony
had her carefully moving, even if she did skid a few times. Pretty
soon she had the hang of it. They were coasting around, making
her giggle madly at the game of tag around the cars. They found
out the Roombas were down there guarding her because they tripped Callia
but she caught herself on a bumper and scolded it like a real pet
before skating off. It barked and rolled after her and Tony.
"That is a really weird pet," Howard said, fading into view.
"Two of the geeks made them," Dawn said. "They're vacuums."
"Huh." He watched it play tag with the baby. Then it turned
and zapped someone coming up the ramp, making him yelp. "It's
"It's very protective. Roomba, don't fire on him. Warren, how did you get out of the hospital?"
He grinned. "They let me out."
"Bull shit," Tony said.
"Daddy, quit teaching me to swear like Auntie Dawn," Callia said.
Warren stared at her. She smirked back. "I'm going to be a
better engineer than you ever were."
"We'll see." He pulled something out of his pocket.
"Roomba, attack," she ordered. It got him with the real laser
instead of the taser. Then it launched a net on him. Warren
was already out from the laser blast to his stomach. "We need to
raise your aim somehow," she told him, leaning down to pet the robotic
vacuum. She tipped over. "Oops." She petted him.
"JARVIS, tell Andrew and Jonathan Warren showed up please?"
"I already have. They're on their way down."
Jonathan came off the first elevator and ran over. "Are you all
right, Callia?" He picked her up to look at her. "He didn't
hurt you, did he?"
"No. He was going to but Roomba 2 bit him really hard." She
grinned. "We have to raise his aim. It only hit Warren in
Andrew came off the elevator. "Pity it wasn't in the balls so he
can't have kids if he ever finds out about real girls instead of robot
ones." Callia cackled and hugged him. "I'm glad you're
okay." He handed her back to Jonathan, walking over to where Tony
was tying him up. He looked at the thing on the ground, kicking it
over. "Star Fleet phaser." He picked it up to test against a
wall then turn it off. "Crystal's cranked anyway. It's got
too wide of a beam to be legitimate." He put it into his back
pocket and helped Tony frisk his former friend, finding all his neat
toys. "Hey, Jonho, he got the belt to work."
"Really? The flying one?" He came over to look.
"Huh. Too heavy and bulky to be practical but clearly out of Radio
Shack." He took it to put on and try it. Tony grabbed him
before he headed sideways. "There's no automatic leveling
"You can't use one of those because it'll mean you don't fly anything
more complicated than angles," Tony said, taking it off to test.
He had some experience flying. He nodded. "With repulsor
tech boots that might be handy."
"We can update it," Jonathan said with a grin, taking it back. "Hey, Phil?" he called.
"We're having sex," Xander's voice noted. "He can't answer right
now because he's a bit brainless, boys." He sounded like he was
out of breath and his voice was deeper.
"Uncle Xander, Warren showed up," Callia called.
"We'll get him when we're done, Callia." He cut off the feed.
"Sure," Tony agreed. "We have a few empty closets.
Dawn?" She floated him up and to the elevator, taking him to the
security room's closet. It's where they stored people waiting to
be arrested. Tony looked. "Good boy, 2. You protected
Callia very well. If I knew what to give you as a treat, I would."
"He needs new batteries," Jonathan said. "These wear out much too fast." Andrew nodded.
"Put his tech stuff in the tinkering lab so we can go over it together,"
Tony ordered. They pouted but did that for him. "That does
include you two," he reminded them. They beamed and walked off
babbling about how Warren had failed the tech in so many ways.
Tony skated over to his daughter, helping her up. "One more lap
around the garage and the loser has to make dinner." He skated
"Hey, no fair!" she called, following him. "You're bigger so
faster because you can create more torque and push-off force for speed."
Howard blinked, looking at Pepper and Clint. Pepper was smiling. "She's one hell of a grandchild."
"She is," Pepper agreed happily. "She's got one invention on file
already." She smiled at Clint. "Roomba's adorable."
"It is." He picked up the hockey puck shaped vacuum, putting it in
the back of the SUV. It tried to suck things up and whined.
"We'll fix it, Roomba." He patted it. "Settle down and you
can go recharge in a few minutes. I'll carry you to the
lab." Dawn came off the elevator with Andrew and MB, who went to
talk to Pepper while he got Roomba to carry back. "He tried to
pick up dirt."
"His cup's a bit full. We've got an external one for him."
He took him upstairs to let him recharge and to hook up his external
dust cup. That way he could fulfill his primary coding. It
made him happy to clean up while protecting them.
Tony made it back to the SUV first but Callia looked really
determined. "So, what's for dinner?" he teased with an evil smirk.
"Spoiled daddy stew." She hugged him. "And maybe a salad to go with it since I can do that without needing a knife."
"Only if you've bought veggies in the last week," Dawn quipped.
"Oops. So can I use some of my saved allowance to order pizza, Daddy?"
"We'll see." He hugged her. She grinned and hugged
back. "Upstairs. Carry your new stuff." She handed him
the paintball stuff since she wasn't sure how to make sure she didn't
set off the paintball gun. Tony looked and nodded. "Nice choice,
Barton." He skated off, taking the next elevator up.
Clint locked up the SUV and handed the key to the guard watching over
them. Dawn and he went back up to the office with Pepper to finish
up the budget things for the day. Natasha followed. Clint
smiled at her. "We need to get dinner or real food."
"We can do so." She kissed him then Dawn, who smirked evilly at
her. "We will have our time Sunday since you're not working."
"He and I had time after work and so can we," Dawn said, hugging her and
taking another kiss. "I'm all yours once we get home."
Natasha smirked. "I can handle that challenge." She took
another kiss. "Finish working." She walked into the office
to do that, putting her leg back up. Clint checked on it and gave
her an ankle massage because it was swollen.
Pepper looked over at the nice sounding moan. "That's sweet, Clint."
"It was a bit swollen. We want her to be happy, healthy, and counteract the insanity around here."
"We all need some counteracting around here." She smiled and got back to work.
Callia ran in and looked at them. "Daddy wants to know why one of
my gymnastics friends called about my party. I'm getting a party?"
she asked with a huge grin.
"You sure are," Dawn said with a smile. Callia cheered all the way
upstairs to tell her dad that. She sent Tony a text message and
finished up that budget. Which didn't add up. She
groaned. "Pepper, the building budget doesn't add up."
"Why?" Dawn put it up to let her see it. "What's that second
line item?" She highlighted it, which brought up that
budget. "I know that came from accounting. We'll fix it
tomorrow." Dawn smiled and saved it down to go over it
again. The other one they had done as well. She put one
up. Pepper stared and whimpered. "What happened in
"I think a brain fart," Dawn said. They groaned. They'd have
to go over everything line by line and item by item. They'd have
to redo everything. She pulled up the new version of the post-year
actual expenditure budget. It didn't balance either. They
shared a look. "Maybe our snake is in there."
"Maybe," she agreed. "Or she got her homework mixed in again."
Tony walked in, staring at the budget. "That's sad."
"That's what accounting put up," Dawn sighed. "We'll fix it tomorrow."
"Yes. She wanted a birthday party. Normal kids like to have birthday parties."
"Like with a clown?" he asked, looking confused.
"No, we'd never do that to her. A pony ride," Dawn said with a
smile. "It's at that new circus place." Clint grinned.
It had been his idea. Tony groaned. "We invited the kids
she hangs out with at both of her classes. What did that mother
"They're going vegan. She wanted to make sure there were vegan food available."
"Yes, fruit. It's snack food and cake. I can check with them
to see if the cake is vegan allowed." She wrote them an email.
"So we're doing a full party?" Tony asked. "Like balloons?
Screaming kids?" They smiled and nodded. "Liquor for the
"No!" Dawn snorted, staring at him. "Parent's area so they can get away from the screaming kids."
"That'll help. Are you sure...."
"She wanted a party," Dawn said simply.
"Then she gets a party." He went to talk to her. The parent
got told Dawn would check and get in touch with her in the next day or
so. He settled in with Callia and their salads. She had done
a good job with it. It even have little bits of leftover steak
and pot roast that had been in the fridge. Steve came up.
"Bowl's in the kitchen," Tony said with a smile. Steve got his and
sat down on Callia's other side. They put in a kid movie, which
Steve liked. Callia liked it well enough and Tony tolerated it so
it was good.
Downstairs, Pepper gathered Liz and told them to go home. The spouses
gathered her and helped her down to the cab home. Pepper went up
to make her own dinner for her and Liz. Liz was chanting for food
so it was a happy night for her.
Howard faded in later that night. His son was in the lab. It
was a lot different than his had been but it looked useful and had a
lot of half-finished projects. "Son?"
"Yeah?" he asked.
"Are trios really the norm now?"
"No." He looked at him then went back to working on his glove. "We want Dawn to be happy and they do it for her."
"Whenever Pepper allows it."
"I see." He cleared his throat. "She's a bit...wild to be around our heir."
Tony put down the soldering iron, looking at him. "She's not."
"She is. She took out an assassin?"
"She's taken out more than one. They seem to want to keep
her." Howard nodded, licking his lips. Tony wasn't going to
lose his cool or his mind. He wasn't going to start shouting like
he wanted to do. This was the third nagging session of the day and
he was already tired of it. Why did his father care when he
didn't used to? "We want Dawn to be happy. Pepper and I took
her in to mentor when her mother got sick. At that time she had a
hell goddess trying to kill her." Howard winced, tucking his
hands back in his pocket. "Dawn's a good, sweet young woman.
Who occasionally swears."
"I can understand how a girl like her gets under your skin. Your mother....."
"Dad, I'd never date Dawn. No matter how many people assumed, and
she'd make some genius a great wife, she's not mine. She's got a
great bond with Clint and Natasha. Even if they didn't have that
deep bond, Dawn's like my little sister."
"That's good to know." He shifted, looking around again then at him. "Why does Callia call her aunt?"
"Because she is. Her big sister had Callia."
"Oh, that makes more sense." He considered it. "Aliens?"
"Huh. It's real?" Tony smiled and nodded. "We've seen it?"
"I visited it once. It's in the Pacific by San Francisco."
"That's a really interesting city and probably wouldn't blink at a mythical city showing up."
"Mythical city made my aliens, Dad." He got back to work.
"You don't worry about her being warped by the lesbians? Who seemed charming," he said quietly when his son glared at him.
"Dad, I have no problem with lesbians. I never will. I have
no problem with wherever anyone sticks their dick unless it's a
kid. I can probably even justify those people who screw animals as
having faulty mental connections." His father shuddered and
floated back some. "No, lesbians are in the open in today's
world. They're great. So are gay men. They're still
fighting for the right to marry but otherwise it's mostly good for
everyone outside some zealots and people who cling to ways that are
ancient and outdated. If you don't like it, go back to the
Dawn walked in. "Slightly big issue." She handed over the printout.
He read it, grimacing. "This isn't that important." She pointed at something. "That may be. Any idea?"
"Hammer's former second-in-command." She smiled at Howard.
"Sorry, company business. I didn't want to interrupt family
time." She looked at Tony.
"Dawn, impertinence," he growled.
She stared at him. "Sure. You want a backrub?"
"Dawn, go away before I fire you," he said.
"You fire me and I'm going to go be a trophy wife somewhere." She
smiled. "And take custody of my niece. That group's motion
is still up and I'm a suitable relative. They hate me but she has
the same skills." Tony growled. "I would've kept her here."
"When is that?"
"A month from Thursday." She pulled up his schedule to point at
it. "Then." She looked at something. "I'll change
Tony gripped the table. "Dawn, go home."
She hugged him. "Tell me if I really don't have a job in the
morning." She left. She went up to talk to Steve. "The
only way he's going to get off Tony's back about the family thing is
for you to make a move," she said bluntly. He winced, shaking his
head. "Yeah." She went home. She walked in. "I
might not have a job. Howard's nagging Tony."
"He said you're suspended but not fired," Natasha said. She gave her a look.
Dawn smiled. "Howard."
"Figures," she admitted. "Can we banish him?"
"If we knew what he was attached to." She sat down. "I have no idea and if it's the house it's going to be bad."
"Good to know," Clint said. "What was the ghost complaining about?"
"Us being immoral around his granddaughter."
"Fuck 'im," Clint said bluntly.
"That was my feeling too." She stretched. "That report was a
really bad thing. Hammer's people are trying to take down SI
again." They groaned and nodded. She got comfortable.
"So, tonight?" she asked Natasha.
"Sunday. That way I get a whole day." Dawn grinned and cuddled her.
Clint grinned. "You two can play tonight anyway."
"We may," Natasha said smugly. "She is my favorite puzzle toy."
Tony stomped around the next day. "Where's Dawn?" he demanded to Pepper.
"Home. You got pissed off because your father was being a jackass. You suspended her and threatened to fire her."
"She was going to change the meeting that overlaps with the court hearing."
"The one that the bigots filed for."
She pulled up the schedule and he pointed at it. "That's a very
bad thing. Does our legal department know?" She
called. The file got sent up. "They've been filing a lot of
motions to keep things down. Including sealing it from the
press. That's good." She looked at one. "They noted
primary alternate guardians if it was needed for the judge to approve
of. Dawn, Joyce, me." She let Tony see everything. He
read it while pacing. "They've been handling it behind our back."
"I would've wanted to know this."
"JARVIS, did anyone tell us about this?"
"Legal told you that it wasn't tossed out on the same day they received
notice," JARVIS said. "Dawn has been working hard with them and
you have an update meeting about it scheduled in three days." He
shifted the schedule to show them that.
"That's good," Tony said. "Does she know?"
"Which she?" Callia asked from the doorway.
"The bigots tried to have you moved to someone else's care."
Callia snorted. "I'd so have Auntie Dawn kill someone for
me." They stared at her. She stared back. "She
would. She said she'd destroy all of humanity to protect me.
They're part of humanity, even if I don't have to like it."
"She will," Pepper agreed. "I would too." Callia hugged her. "We're just now hearing about that."
"Why? Granma told me that someone was trying weeks ago."
"When the servers went down, we lost that email," Tony said. He huffed. "She was handling it well."
Callia smiled. "We met with the judge." Tony stared down at
her. "He wanted to talk to me about if I knew what was going
on. I went in with Auntie Dawn, because you were in a
meeting. He called and wanted us there within an hour. She
called you guys and you never answered. So she brought me and the
lawyer. He asked me what I had heard and I told him what Granma
"He was impressed. He asked me about your relationship with Pepper
and Steve. I told him that it was great. I told him that
Steve was like a stepmom to me too. That Pepper wasn't really a
stepmom yet because she lived in the apartment underneath us because she
said it worked better when you two weren't together all the
She sighed. "Then he asked if I thought of Liz like my sibling and
I said yes, because she was. So were the twins, though I had to
explain them. He asked me about Granma and Dawn. I told him
they were great to me. They explained things and took me shopping,
like Auntie Pepper, and that they all loved me.
"He asked me about Granpa Brucie and I told him he loved me a whole lot,
I was the first kid he knew how to love but he was doing great.
He helped me tinker and make models. He asked if I was scared of
him and I giggled. I told him Grr Guy loved me just as much as
Granpa and that if he saw me when he was all Grr Guy he cuddled me and
protected me. He called Granpa in to talk to him. He told
him why. So he said that was okay and that I wasn't exposed to
anything really wrong outside your perverted relationship.
"I threw an unholy fit about him being a bigot like the ones that had
tried to kill me. Twice. He demanded Dawn come in to answer
to that allegation. Dawn told him exactly why he was one of them,
and had him fire himself because she threatened to put him before
whatever the board is." She waved a hand and shifted her
weight. "She made the lawyer sniffle with how mean she was.
Which is kinda cool.
"The new judge moved the hearing up and he talked to me about what had
happened. He had read the typing person's records and asked me
more things. He said he didn't see a problem but he wanted a list
of alternate guardians in case something happened. That way it was
on record in case we did get attacked and you guys got hurt.
Auntie did it then and there. He agreed that was a good one, asked
about Mommy, which I got a bit sad about but he said that was
reasonable and when she came back he'd allow her to be added if it was
still going on. But we're having an evidentiary hearing? The
one that tells us if it's going to keep going on? We're having
"Why didn't you talk to me about this?" Pepper and Tony asked.
She shrugged. "I talked to Auntie. I thought she told you."
"No, we got the messages lost," Tony said. He looked at Pepper.
"Possibly on purpose," she pointed out.
"Then I'll let Dawn destroy humanity."
Callia hugged him. "She'd save us and 'Lantis, Daddy." She
hugged Pepper and kissed her stomach. "I hope you're a baby
brother. I miss having one." She skipped off. "We're
going to do homework after I walk my doggy."
"Thank you," Tony said. He and Pepper stared at each other then he
nodded. "Dawn is the second best hire I've ever made." He
kissed her. "You're the first." He walked off, calling
Dawn. "Dawn, did you send me more than a single email about the
"Yeah, boss. I carbon copied all the documents to you as they got made. So did Legal. You didn't know?"
"No. I didn't know." Dawn sent them again, his tablet
beeped. "Thank you. By the way, you're not suspended.
It was stress."
"I'm working from home on the travesty of a budget anyway," she said
dryly. "Because someone fucked it up grandly. Found the
embezzler though. Natasha's coming." She moaned.
"Thank you for the soda, Clint."
"Welcome, Dawn. Stark, just fuck Steve and make it better."
"I can't do that with my father watching us."
"He's not going to give up until you prove you're just as good, if not
better, of a man," Clint said. "If he was solid I'd beat him for
you since you can't spar worth a damn."
"Shut up, Barton."
"You get one, you get all three," he quipped.
"He's right but it needs to start with Steve because he's got a bond
with Steve," Dawn said. Natasha came off the elevator. "If
that's the wife, since she just had that reaction to you, tell her it's
her night to make dinner unless however she busts the people makes us
hot." She hung up.
Tony looked at Natasha. "Reaction?"
"Fine." He took what Dawn had found, smirking evilly. "You
have fun with that and make sure that they don't want you to cook like
"No, Dawn is the wife," she said smugly.
"Sure, I can see that. She's the more feminine one," he said,
trying hard not to picture how she meant that. She smiled.
"Find any others for me. Let me know. I'm going to talk to
my boyfriend." He walked off. He found Steve playing fetch
with the cats. He leaned down to kiss him. Steve gave him a
look. "I'm not denying you just because he's floating around
here. You're still mine."
"It's your dad."
"I know that. The first time I had a woman he was drunk off his
ass up the hall." He stared at him. "Actually, the first
time I had a guy he was drunk off his ass up the hall with a
girlfriend." Steve was blushing. "My first orgy he wasn't
drunk but he was complaining that I didn't make it to one of the few
dinners he had made it home for." He took another kiss. He
got clawed by Natasha so he looked down. "You, quit." He
petted her, making her run off. He let Steve pull him down
again. It was nice.
Callia leaned over the back of the couch, staring at them.
"Someday I'll have one of those and you can tell me why kissing is good
instead of icky."
Tony pulled back to smirk at Steve, who shook his head. "I forgot she was there," Steve admitted.
Tony nodded. "Me too." He took another kiss. He had a
rule, there was no groping in front of the kids, including Dawn, but
they could kiss and neck all he wanted.
Steve panted, pulling back to stare at him. "Don't prove anything," he said quietly.
"I'm not with you to prove anything. I'm with you because you put
up with me when I'm in the lab for days on end. Because you care
if I only drink those shakes instead of eating. Because my
daughter thinks you're her stepmom." Steve grinned and kissed him
again, pulling Tony closer.
Callia got up. "Cats." They followed her and she carried the
Dawn kitty. They went to the office. "Daddy's kissing
Stepmom Steve," she said. She counted. "Phil?" He
looked over. "Not you, the cat." He came trotting in with a
robotic mouse. "Good job!" She petted him and tossed the
mouse at Pepper, who yelped. "It's robotic."
"How can you tell?" Fury asked from in front of the desk.
"It squeaked in binary code." She snorted and settled in to play with her cats and read her homework.
"The attitude is getting thick again," Pepper warned.
"Sorry, Auntie Pepper."
"Thank you." She smiled at Phil, who was petting the Dawn cat. "Does Xander know anything about banishing ghosts?"
"I've heard about him being around. No, he said you might have to destroy whatever's holding him."
"That may be the mansion."
Phil nodded. "It could be." He smiled. "We'll figure it out."
Howard faded in. "Who are you?" he asked.
"Agent Phil Coulson, SHIELD, and God of Heroes." Howard gaped,
staring at him. He smiled. "Also over training the future
agents for SHIELD and the Avengers. If we ever find any decent
Fury nodded. "Don't remind me."
"That's the best case scenario we could come up with, sir."
"I agree," he said. "I don't know how to handle the move from under them."
"I'd start with the meeting over the mutual aid agreement," Pepper said.
"I'm going to that since it's in our best interests for it to not have
any funny ideas in it." He sat down, looking at the cats.
"They're a bit weird. Didn't you have a rabbit?"
"He's in his cage and happily nibbling his new breakfast. The dog
is with Daddy to make sure he's all right." She looked at her
grandfather. "If you piss my father off again I'm going to start
praying to someone like Hades to come gather you. I won't have
daddy upset. If he's upset things go bad around here and the labs
start to fail, and then Iron Man gets hurt so I might lose my
daddy. So either man up and act like Daddy or Uncle Phil, or go
away." He blinked at her. She stared back. "Frankly,
Daddy is not dealing well with you. Or else I'd be upstairs doing
my homework while he gets comfort snuggles."
"Callia," Pepper warned.
She shrugged. "Has to be said. Adults are too polite but
kids are honest. We say what we think." She got back to
reading her homework. "Why am I reading about whales?"
"I'm not sure why he gave you _Moby Dick_. It's a bit above your
reading level," Pepper admitted. She considered it and asked
Dawn, who sent over an e-book for her. "Your aunt said to try
this one." She sent it to the tablet. "It's young adult,
written by a former english teacher. It's even about a genius."
"Artemis Fowl," she read. She opened it and started to read,
frowning some. "Huh." She flipped onto her stomach, letting
the cats lounge on her while she read. She smiled. "He's
kinda like me only I have a daddy that's there," she said quietly.
She kept reading. "I need someone like Butler."
"You have an aunt for that." Pepper smiled. Callia didn't hear her, she was engrossed. She smiled at Phil.
"I like that book too. I read it to Xander. Who told
Dawn." He crossed his feet. The dog trotted in and lapped
Callia, who flinched and stared at him. Her flinching caused
Natasha and Clint to both run and jump up somewhere high. "Take
him for a walk then come back to the story," Phil said calmly.
"Oops. Let's go for walkies, Xander puppy." She got up and
concentrated. Her shoes and jacket floated in with his
leash. "That helps." She put them on, clipped him, got a
plastic bag, and took him down to the front door. One of the
guards huffed but went with her. "Sorry but he needs to be
"He does," he agreed. "It's responsible of you." He put up
an umbrella to go over himself. Callia didn't mind cold rain but
he did. The dog did his business and they made the circuit of the
block. They went back inside. Natasha was coming off the
elevator. She swore at him in Russian and he ducked before she
"Why are you so wet?" she demanded of the child.
"He needed a walk."
"Do you not know what an umbrella is?" She walked her off, tossing
out the bag. "Wash your hands." They did that and she took
her upstairs to the penthouse. Tony and Steve were on the couch
together. "She was out without an umbrella." Tony started to
sit up. "Go strip out of the wet clothes, get in a warm bath,"
Natasha ordered. "Before you get sick." She ran in there to
do that. She came back in only her panties, which were also
soaked. "Bath!" she said with a point.
"I need my book and my kitties are in the office."
"I'll have them brought up. Go." Callia ran back in
there. She made tea to bring in to her. She swatted Tony on
the way past. "She has your lack of sense."
"Sometimes she does," Tony agreed. He got up. "Let me get
her things from the office." He put on his jeans and t-shirt
without bothering with his underwear. Steve got dressed since
Natasha wasn't able to see. He moved to get things that Callia
would need to get rewarmed. Including a heating pad in her bed to
warm it up. The cats ran in and arranged themselves in their
favorite spots. Dawn laid on the heating pad and purred
Natasha got Callia out and into warm pajamas, shooing the cat off the
heating pad. They tucked her in and let the cats come
cuddle. Dawn came back to flop down on Callia's stomach, letting
her rest her tablet against her. Tony came in with some more tea,
earning a smile from his daughter. He tested her forehead with his
lips. "You're already a bit warm," Tony said. He got the
thermometer and basket of flu/cold supplies he kept for her. She
got some tylenol and ducked him trying to take her temperature while she
"I love that about you but if you get sick I need to help you."
She made shooing motions. "If I start to sniffle I'll come be miserable and make you read to me."
"Good!" He let her read, going to flop down on the couch.
Natasha scowled at him. "She has an umbrella and I have three."
"I forgot to pull one. Guard had one," Callia called. "I'm fine, Daddy."
Phil looked at her then at Tony as he came out. "She's got your
stubbornness too." Tony smiled and nodded. "She'll probably
be fine. Let me know if we need to bring you more tea."
"I will." Tony looked at Natasha. "How many?"
"Nineteen so far. I'm expecting another two to five, depending on
who doesn't run for their lives." She smiled and nodded politely
before leaving. She ran into Dawn in the lobby. She was
dressed in a very conservative suit. "Meeting?" she asked.
"Judge." She headed up to the penthouse. "Tony, the judge is calling a meeting."
"Let me get dressed."
"He didn't call for you."
"Yay." She pointed at the bedrooms. "She's sick."
"She went out without an umbrella to walk the dog." Dawn rolled
her eyes. He got cleaned up quickly and dressed, coming out with
her. "The lawyer?"
"Told me. She's there." She walked out with him, handing
over her tablet so he could look over what she had gathered on the
judge. They got into the car she had waiting. She calmed
herself and centered her mind. He read and got updated on what was
going on today. They got there and she led him to the judge's
office, getting let in. "Callia can't be here today."
"Is she in the hospital?" the judge asked.
"Bed," Tony said. "She went out to walk her dog without an
umbrella a few minutes ago. She's already running a fever.
Due to being a premmie, she can get hellishly sick within minutes."
The judge nodded. "Then I'll excuse her today." He nodded at
Dawn, who nodded back. "I was going to talk to you in a few
weeks, Mr. Stark. Were you aware of this?"
"I was aware something was filed but I was under the assumption that it
had been thrown out. Apparently someone had been blocking
communications in the tower to try to sabotage the company. We're
finding them today."
"Good," the judge agreed. "Have you seen the motions filed on your behalf?"
"Earlier actually. I got told it was still ongoing last night."
"Okay," the judge agreed. "Your lawyers are very competent."
"I do try to hire the best," Tony said with a smile for Dawn and his
head of Legal. He looked at the judge again. "By what right
did they decide they could challenge me having custody of my daughter?"
"They made some points about her upbringing being a bit unusual."
"Yes but there's no relatives in their group of pathetic morons," Tony said.
"One said he is."
Dawn shook her head. "I've talked to my mother about that.
She is not aware of that person in the family. I've looked at her
ex-husband's family and as far as I know there's a few cousins by that
last name but in the area they're from there's over ninety people with
that name that aren't related to them."
The judge dug out that relationship statement, handing it to her. "He is related to your sister's father."
Dawn looked at it, shaking her head. "No. This woman isn't
related to him. Her first husband was, but not her current one,
and he has the current husband's name." She pulled that research
file up to find that name. She showed him that file. "So
unless he was from her first marriage and adopted he's not." She
looked at that statement. "It doesn't say he is." She handed
it to Tony, who read it then handed it to his lawyer.
The judge blinked at her. "You're very thorough."
She smiled. "I get paid a very good salary to be so thorough."
"I do overpay her horribly," Tony joked with a grin for her. She patted him on the arm. "I do."
She looked at him. "Actually, you underpay me by all the offers I
used to get, boss. They usually offered at least ten thousand more
to start." Tony scowled. She smiled. "Thankfully I
like you guys like family."
"We are your family. We put up with your flirty days." She smirked. He grinned back.
The judge cleared his throat. "It's clear you two are close."
"He's like my big brother in a lot of ways and a dad in others," Dawn agreed.
"What about the child's education?"
Tony and Dawn both pulled up files to show him. "I didn't want her
in school because she's ahead by so much and she's still getting
distracted from her daily tasks."
Dawn handed over hers. "Her yearly testing as of six weeks ago
when she finished up her schoolwork for sixth grade, Your Honor.
She's going to go back over the english requirement before I let her
take it again."
He read it, nodding. "She's doing good. Who's setting her studies?"
"I am," Tony said. "Dawn helps by diverting it to interesting side
studies that enhance what I'm doing and teaches her things like
research and report writing."
"Right now she's picking names for Pepper's next child. She's
looking up ones she's interested in, finding their meaning, and then
finding out about others who share the name to give her a list of twenty
and a report on each."
"Which is a lot of looking up, research and writing skills, and makes
her make judgement calls but justify it," the judge said, nodding with a
smile. "That's actually very unusual but something that she's
probably interested in." Dawn smiled and nodded. "Good
choice." He looked at Tony. "What's her current set of
subjects? I notice she's doing three subjects at a time."
"Literature, math, and basics of circuit design with me in the lab."
"I switched her off _Moby Dick_ earlier because she wasn't getting
anything from it," Dawn told him. "I gave her a different story
that has a strong moral understory yet doesn't have that heavy feeling."
"I read her _Harry Potter_," Tony said.
"I gave her _Artemis Fowl_. Pepper said she flipped onto her
stomach, let the cats lounge on her, and muttered they were kind of
"Huh. I didn't read that one. I'll read it tonight."
Dawn smiled and sent the file to him. He nodded his thanks.
"My son read it and he didn't get the moral undertones but he did learn
some things from the story," the head of Stark Legal agreed. "He's
fourteen. Callia's ahead of him in some things."
The judge nodded. "Is it theoretical?"
"Fantasy," Dawn said. "About a genius mastermind of a criminal
empire that tangles with fairy societies and police. We later find
out that he's doing it to fund the search for his father, who was
missing." The judge nodded, making a note of that name.
"She's so engrossed she lounged in the middle of the office on the
"That's good. Reading is good for children. Does she get religious education as well?"
"I feel it's her job to figure out if she wants to be religious or not," Tony said.
"She gets the fundamentals of Wicca with the coven while they help her with her control over her magic."
"She does?" the judge asked. Dawn nodded and smiled. "From your side of the family?"
"No clue actually," Dawn admitted. "Buffy's a slayer. They
don't usually have magic. Actually, Callia's the only pre-slayer
that has ever had magic." The judge gaped. She nodded.
"Which means that she's getting self defense training as well any other
lessons she's taking."
"As she gets older we'll add in more styles as she wants to learn," Tony
agreed. "We've been told she's fairly down the list to be called
but we're still making sure she has everything she might need to help
her with her future duties if she is called."
The judge nodded. "That adds another twist to it. Is that why her mother's on Asgard?"
"It was partially battle burnout. Partially due to the twins being
born so premature. Time runs faster up there so they're going to
come back nearly teenagers."
"Interesting." The judge made a note of that. "Trainers to help her learn how to hunt demons?"
Dawn smiled. "Her godfather is still Alexander, who used to hunt
with my sister. Not to mention any warrior he has access to if she
needs something like specialist knowledge."
The judge nodded. "Which is good for her. Is she forced into it?"
"She asked to take self defense after someone tried to take her for
ransom," Tony said. "About six months afterward she caught her
aunt sparring and decided she wanted to learn in case someone else did
it again. We all worry about it but we keep most of that from
"Which is why I'm so very proactive to protect her," Dawn agreed. "Beyond her being my niece."
The judge smiled. "I've heard." She smirked. He made another note. "Any particular style?"
"Right now she's taking a mixed street fighting style," Tony said.
"I thought it would be more practical since I hated her karate
"Xander's promised to have someone teach her how to use swords and crossbows, if my husband can't teach her that part."
"Good," he agreed.
"I said she had to be nine," Tony said.
"That's a good age," the judge agreed. "Gun safety?"
"Learning later this week if she doesn't come down sick," Tony said. "Her husband and wife are doing it."
The judge nodded. "I've heard." Dawn shrugged. "That doesn't bother you?"
"If I cared what other people thought it'd be different," Dawn
said. "I'm happy. I'm content, they help me and nurture
me. They encourage me. They fuss over me. I'm usually
pretty stoic about injuries but they demand the right to help me take
care of things while making me quit hiding it."
"It's a sound, healthy relationship even though there's three of them,"
Tony said. "Her wife is still wary and cautious about things but
with her history that's something I'd consider normal."
"I've read her biography."
Dawn snickered. "The one by the guy in England? It's pure
crap, sir. They have no idea who she is. They got almost
every single thing wrong."
"Good to know. I did read the newspaper's one."
"That was more correct for the last twenty years," Dawn admitted with a smile. "She's an amazing woman."
He nodded. "From what I saw, she is. So is your husband." She smiled and nodded. "So are you?"
"I'm slightly above average," Dawn said. Tony swatted her. "I am," she said without looking at him.
The judge smiled. "She's very modest, Mr. Stark. It's a nice thing."
"Sometimes but sometimes it annoys us to no end."
"And yet usually you tell me to quit being so blunt," she said dryly.
The judge laughed. "It's good you two are like family." He
leaned forward. "They're very worried that his relationship will
Dawn grimaced. "I'm not supposed to use language like that
statement deserves in public. My mother would be upset with
me." The judge burst out laughing. "Are they more concerned
because of his time as Iron Man or his money?" The judge
gaped. "There's thousands of children of bisexual and gay
fathers. Are they being warped?"
"They would say yes."
"I would say that their training of their children warps them more,"
Dawn said. "Because their children grow up to be like the supposed
Christians that have sent me death threats for years for daring to use
my skills in the best means possible. Including the one that tried
to have our plane crash. Including whoever put poisonous snakes
all over the building the other day. Including that stupid
minister who kept upping the bounty to have me kidnaped, raped, and bred
to as he so nicely put it. Personally, I'd like to see their kids
taken and given to good parents. Ones who don't bring explosives
to a park to talk to a six-year-old and her father."
"I can see that point being more valid," he said. "Those were
explosives?" She pulled up the copy of the NYPD arrest resort to
show him. He read it, wincing. "That's bad."
"That's very bad. Then a few days later they rushed the building to kill everyone, including her."
"They said they were going to take her with them," the judge said.
"Even if they did, Mr. Stark's will leaves her to Pepper, then me, then
my mother or my spouses, then Lt. Colonel Rhodes. We would take
over her proxy in the company and all that. Any of us would use
the full resources of the company to find her and destroy them to the
cellular level. If we had to, I would put on the suit and use it
to stomp them."
Tony patted her on the arm. "You can do it without the suit, Dawn."
"I might destroy humanity if I let it go that hard," she admitted.
"I'd hate myself for it but as long as she was safe.... " She
The judge smiled. "That's what a good mother or aunt should
say." He looked at the lawyer. "I'd say I have more than
enough from the family. I'll be taking motions from the other side
for the next two days." He looked at his schedule. "That
will give me a few weeks to consider both sides." She handed over
the other motions. He looked at them. "They talked to the
press? I know the first judge put on a gag order."
"It hit the press earlier," she admitted. "FOX got it."
"They're the news station of bigots anyway," Dawn muttered. She
was rubbing her forehead. Tony was staring at her.
"Headache, not a vision."
"Okay." He looked at his lawyer. "FOX said what?"
"One blew it out of proportion. One said it was a ploy to take
attention off their arrest hearings coming up. It was noted that
they were arrested for various problems. That they did have
explosives. That they did try to have the building invaded with
"There was no try," Dawn said, looking at her. "I threw a few off the building."
"I saw that," the judge said.
"I helped take them out," she said. "They weren't going to spare
anyone, Your Honor. They burst in and started to shoot the walls
of the room where she and Liz were."
He nodded. "I'll take that into consideration." Tony's phone beeped. "Problems?"
He looked. "She's spiking a fever. I need to get home to take care of her."
The judge nodded. "Granted. Have a better day and I hope she'll be okay."
"She will be, even if I have to move heaven and hell to make it so,"
Dawn said. She nodded at him and the lawyer, then followed
Tony. The lawyer stayed to handle things. She relaxed once
they were in the car. "Sorry if I acted up in there."
"No, that's what an aunt should do," he said. He looked at her. "I'm sorry about last night."
She patted his hand. "You were stressed."
"I was. You were right though." She grinned. "Still not cool."
"Never been cool. I'm competent not cool."
"You're both." He gave her head a shove. She smiled at him. "Fine, you're not suspended."
"I've been unscrewing the budget all day anyway. I had to hit each
and every single individual budget item to verify amounts and the sub
budgets." He groaned. "They screwed it so hard."
"Can it be undone?"
"I have been. It's going to take me days though."
"That's fine. That meeting isn't for six weeks."
She shook her head. "I might not get it all done by then."
"You can. I know you can." They got back to the tower and
headed up to the penthouse. Callia was starting to cough.
Pepper was wiping her face down with a cool washcloth.
Dawn called her favorite doctor. "Doc, Dawn. Callia got
chilled earlier. She's already coughing and hacking.
Fevered, she's nearly bright red. In bed. Thanks." She
hung up, coming in to take over from Pepper.
"She was sniffling and snoring from that last one," Pepper said.
The doctor rushed in shortly afterward, getting them out of the way to
examine her. "She got sniffles from the picnic the other
day. All the kids did because it started to rain."
"She didn't have a fever from that," Tony said. "Today she took
the dog for a walk and the guard didn't share his umbrella."
"Okay," she agreed. "Let's get her down there. She's got
chest congestion and I want to take a preliminary scan." They
nodded, Dawn picking her up.
"Book," Callia whined, reaching for it. Tony got it and she
smiled. "Thanks, Daddy and Aunties." They went down to the
infirmary. Dr. Pigalli had to turn on everything while Dawn got an
IV started. Doc looked at her and Dawn nodded she'd need
it. Callia whined. "No shots!"
"Hush," Dawn said. "You need it." She taped it down. "If you get better faster you can have it out."
"Still mean," she pouted.
"I love you enough to do the mean things so you get better faster," Dawn said.
"I know. Still sucks ass."
"Language," Pepper warned. "Even while sick." The baby
pouted but nodded, stroking her tablet. Doc came over to get her
for the CT. Tony took the tablet computer for her. She got
put back in bed a few minutes later. Callia curled up on her side
to read. Pepper hugged her and got her some juice from the
cafeteria. Tony got a comfortable chair to sit next to her.
Dawn walked off to text the family. This was not a good time for
Callia to get sick. She went up to take care of the pets to have
something to do. She'd come take a shift when Tony started to fall
Joyce frowned, pulling out her phone. "Oh, shit," she said.
Maria flinched and spun around. "Callia's in the infirmary.
She's caught something from getting wet walking the dog." She
looked in the office. Fury made 'go away' motions. "Thank
you." She packed up and headed to the tower for the day.
Fury came out to get some coffee. "Some of the WSC members are showing up for a meeting in two hours."
"I'll be here," Maria said firmly.
He stared at her. "You sure?"
"Good. Make sure that kid's all right. Tell Colonel Rhodes
just in case we need the help. I doubt Stark's going to get into
his suit to handle anything less than the fate of the world." He
sipped the coffee. "She bought the good stuff." He went back
to finish the reports they'd want. "Coulson, I need reports," he
Phil walked in a few minutes later. "Unless you want cannon fodder
we may have one that may pass, if he can step up his physical
abilities." Fury groaned. He handed over the preliminary
results. "They're getting worse and worse, sir."
"Find us someone."
"I can go poach." He walked off. Xander had some ideas from
those he oversaw. He went to recruit for SHIELD. They needed
Fury looked up as his bosses showed up. "Your plans are never going to work in the real world."
"Lower the standards."
Fury snorted, starting to laugh. "Do you know what it takes to be
an agent? They're as low as we can make them and if you can only
live up to those, you'll never survive in the field."
"The CIA does."
"They deal with different things. None of them deal with things
like the invasion. It takes a different set of skills to go
undercover and bust cartels than it does to do our job." He handed
over the reports.
"No assistant?" one sneered.
"She's with her granddaughter, who just came down sick today.
She's in Stark's infirmary fighting pneumonia from what she sent.
I'm a bastard but not that sort."
"So Stark's not going to be doing anything?" one asked.
Clint walked in and smirked at them. "No, Lt. Colonel Rhodes has
shown up and said he'd cover for Iron Man." He looked at
Fury. "Sir, Dawn and Natasha said to tell you that they're finding
the last few that were embezzling from Stark. Apparently it leads
back to the leak that got some of his and some of ours dead.
Also, Warren's been taken back into custody."
"He got out?" Fury demanded.
"No, he snuck out. The mind control units are back up there and
working hard. She's already called someone. Coulson?"
Phil leaned in a minute later. "We're aware, have dispatched
people to handle it, and to put Warren into better custody than a closet
in Stark's security office. The administrator is missing thanks
to another patient up there. I've had someone from Colorado show
up to take over temporarily."
"Good thinking," Fury agreed. "Anyone else escape?"
"No. Warren's apparently used the mind control device on
others. He turned them into his zombie mind computers as he put
it. He was not pleased with his stay in the closet. He was
more than happy to tell me everything in exchange for food, a bathroom
break, and a shower." Fury smirked. Coulson smirked
back. "He's presently getting sworn at by MB. She's very
upset that he might lead Andrew back to the dark side. By the way,
his project led to her getting pregnant. Or them having at it in
Stark's office did." He looked at Clint. "Callia should be
okay but it may take days."
"We figured it would. She was born early and is a bit sick."
He opened his can of soda to take a drink but Fury snatched it and
threw it out. "Sorry, sir." He looked at the council members
then at his boss. "We're figuring things out. We think that
leak will lead to another source that we've been fighting
against. One of the main six, sir."
"Who's handling it?"
"Dawn spotted it because the budget was a royal wreck when it got sent
up from accounting. She told Agent Romanoff, who is having fun
scaring them to death."
"Excellent. Have her report in when she gets a moment to pause."
"Yes, sir." He nodded and left. Fury had played along with
his cues very well. He shot Coulson a look then looked at
Maria. "Agent Hill, I need someone to oversee my requalification
on the range. I didn't know I was due last week."
"I can do that," she agreed, gathering what she needed. It wasn't
her job. It was a clear hint. "Silvers, go on break," she
ordered the one she knew was hiding a pregnancy. "You've been on
shift for too long." She nodded, getting up to do that. A
few people glared and she stared back at one, who blinked once.
"Shoans, you're in charge while I'm gone."
"Yes, sir," he said. He got up to look over everyone's
shoulders. He tapped one. "You've been on for six
hours. Take ten." She nodded and left. It was his
girlfriend but he had a suspicion that they needed to have a talk about
putting a ring on it so he could take responsibility for his actions.
Since the only two pregnant people were the ones evacuated, something
was going on. He looked around. "Toms. You too."
He nodded, logging off and going on break. He had been on for ten
hours without a break. He was working overtime and had ignored
Maria telling him to go on break. He'd be a good cover story for
the pregnant ones going on break.
Fury came out. "Break switching?" he asked.
"Yes, sir. Agent Hill is overseeing Agent Barton's requalifying on the range."
"Good of her." He looked around. "How many are still
due?" Three more raised their hands. "The next shift starts
in ten minutes. When they get here, take it." They nodded
and got back to work. One held up a report form. Fury walked
over to take it, staring at it. "Any idea which witch that was?"
"No, sir. Not in that area. We have no one logged in there."
Xander appeared, looking at the area. He grinned. "That's
Natalia Ichin. Her dad teaches at the college and she's
eight." That got noted on the report form and handed back to
Fury. "She's got chicken pox the last I heard."
"You pay attention to someone in her family?" Fury asked.
"Yes. Her father is the guy who teaches real martial arts
history." He grinned. "I can't beat him with a sword."
"Him, good to know. We have had contact with him in the past over
an antique sword an assassin was using. We'll send someone to make
sure she's not having problems or venting." Xander nodded,
looking in the office. Fury gave him a pointed look that no one in
the office could see. "You still need a bigger patch."
"I know. But it's being cleaned. I got mud all over it when I
took down that rebel group threatening an orphanage." He
disappeared then came back and pointed at one elderly woman.
"Ma'am, I think you should probably take off the makeup." Fury
looked at her, letting agents grab her to check her over. She had
on a fake prosthetic face piece. She had a bomb in her cleaning
They handled it professionally and he had the admin area cleared.
Someone got a plant off Maria Hill's desk for her and one off Joyce's
but that was him being thoughtful to women. Fury would have to
break him of that habit before he ran into a bad one in the field.
The council members didn't evacuate. He went to check. They
were dead. He called a medical and biological response
team. Turned out his hatred of soda in his office had paid
off. Barton really needed to give him some warning.
Dawn looked up from her overnight watching of Callia when the dayshift
nurse came in. "Doc'll be back in a few hours," she said quietly.
"Got wet and chilled. Now she's got crud in the lungs."
"That can happen even when you don't get sick easily." She checked
her vitals to write down and changed out her IV bag since it was nearly
empty. Dr. Pigalli walked in sipping some coffee. The nurse
let her have the newest findings and let them talk.
"The infection's going down," she said. "Let me draw a bit of
blood for a new test." She let Dawn hold Callia's other arm
out. It woke the baby but sorry. She started it running
while Dawn soothed her back into a nap. "No Dad?"
"Collapsed a few hours ago." She pointed at the bed Tony was
napping on. "Steve got called back to SHIELD for a slight
emergency last night. Something about a gas canister or
something. Pepper's with Liz."
"That's fine, Dawn. You know how to behave in here. You've
been in here often enough yourself." She checked Dawn's leg.
"We can scan that."
"Xander moved the healing ahead."
"That's sweet of him. C'mere." Dawn got up and let her x-ray
her leg. "That's a really good healing. Nearly three weeks
gone." Dawn smiled, sitting back down to fuss over Callia.
"I made her go home about midnight."
"She doesn't need to be worn down either," the nurse agreed. Dawn
smiled. The baby sniffled and woke up again to cough. Dawn
helped her sit up, supporting her so it wouldn't hurt as much.
"Party?" Callia asked weakly, laying back down.
"You can still have the party, even if you're in a chair all night,"
Dawn promised, smoothing back the sweaty hair. She got another
cool washcloth to wipe off her face.
"Did the nightshift nurse dose her with tylenol for her fever?" Dr. Pigalli asked, taking her temperature again.
"No night shift nurse last night so I did," Dawn admitted, looking at
her watch. "She's due in about an hour." She looked at the
bottle and cup beside the bed. "I used the bigger dosage you had
us use after Munich's fever."
"That's fine. It's not going to cause liver toxicity at that
level." She patted Callia on the foot. "Let's get you into a
shower, young lady. Body temperature, not cold."
Callia pointed at her IV. "I can't shower with that. Can I have it go away now?"
"I can do your back and hair for you. I did it plenty of times when you were little."
Callia shook her head. "I'm a big girl now. Only I scrub me down," she said, looking pouty.
"We'll unhook it," Doc said, doing that and covering the end with a
waterproof bandage. "We'll only have to hook it back up when
you're out." Callia nodded. It wasn't what she wanted but
she needed the IV for medicine and fluids. "Body temperature,
"That's how I take mine anyway, Doc." She carried her in there and
let her sit on the shower chair while she got it to a good
temperature. Just above what Dawn felt was body temp. Callia
got out of her jammies and let Dawn adjust the shower wand down.
"Grab that and it comes out to rinse off your back," she said, showing
her. Callia nodded. "Let me get you more jammies."
"You can use the stuff in here. You'll get yours later. This
stuff makes your skin really smooth." Callia nodded and got
wet, moving to do her hair. Dawn went up to get her jammies,
finding Steve collapsed on the couch. She smiled, sneaking past
him. He flinched awake. "She's in a shower."
"Good." He yawned, sitting up. "That's great
probably." She came out with clean pajamas. "Anything I can
"Make Tony breakfast and do the pet stuff?"
"I can do that." He smiled. She grinned back, bringing down
the supplies for the baby. He got up to clean the litter boxes,
feed all the pets, and then took his own shower and got dressed.
He made him and Tony eggs and toast, carrying it down there. Tony
was still asleep. "Why can he sleep in here when he can't in bed?"
he muttered, watching him sleep.
"He can do the same thing in the lab. He likes it to be slightly
noisy and with air flowing," Dawn said. "That's why the bed areas
have little fans."
"Maybe I can learn to sleep with a white noise machine on then." Tony flinched awake, looking around.
"Showering, boss," Dawn said.
Tony sighed, sitting up. "Thanks, Dawn." He smiled, taking his plate and a kiss from Steve. "Thank you too."
"I'm done," Callia called.
"Coming," Dawn said. She walked in there, looking at her. "Let me get your back."
"Yes. It's all sweaty too and you'll break out." Callia
hated the idea of pimples. She pouted but let Dawn do that and
rinse her off, getting her hair better too. "The pink stuff is
shampoo," she said, redoing it. Callia rested against her.
"We love you."
"I know. Is Daddy awake?"
"Yup. Steve brought him toast and eggs."
"Ooh, food." Dawn smiled and handed her the jammies. "No undies, Auntie Dawn."
"You're in bed, it'll be fine since they're all in the wash." She carried her back out there, letting Doc restart the IV.
"Stepmom?" Callia asked. He smiled and came over to hug her.
She stole some bacon. "Thanks." She grinned.
"I'll make you breakfast. I wasn't sure if you'd be up to eating."
"As long as I don't cough so hard I puke I'm hungry." She
grinned. Steve gave her another hug and went upstairs. She
looked at her father, who was shoveling in food. "Daddy,
chew. Stepmom Steve and Auntie Pepper would hate it if you
choke." He laughed, nearly choking because of that. She
grinned at her aunt. "Don't you have to go cuddle?"
"Yeah but they're coming here to get them."
"Huh. I need a boyfriend like that some year." Steve came back with breakfast. "Daddy's going to choke."
"I'll take care of both of you." He patted her foot. "I was
sick a lot as a kid too." She grinned. "I spent a lot of
time in a hospital bed." He patted her foot again. "We'll
read to you in a bit."
"I have to finish my book for my book report," she said. "Then you can read to me?"
"We can do that," he promised.
"That book is the first in a small series," Dawn said.
"Cool!" She wiggled and dug into her breakfast, pulling over her
tablet to read. "There's nothing begging me. It's really
"I took care of them this morning," Steve said. "We can walk your dog in a bit."
"Okay. If you don't, he poops and pees on that grass pad in the exercise room."
"I know. I already cleaned it and it was really recent so he can
go for a walk in a bit," Steve said. She grinned and got back to
reading and eating. "Dawn, go shower and stuff. We have it."
"Okay." She kissed Callia on the head, earning a grin but she went
back to her book. Dawn went up to the changing area for
employees, finding something in her locker that hadn't been there the
day before. Including her shampoo. She took a shower and
changed into jeans and the button up shirt whichever of her spouses had
picked. Sneakers too. She'd be comfortable at least.
She made it up to her desk, finding her tablet waiting on her with a bag
from the café across the street wearing a post-it on to eat
it. She sent a wash of thanks and love at her spouses, who sent it
back from their place in one of the guest suites. She settled in
to eat and go back to untangling the budget from hell.
Callia woke up when the nurse yelped. She blinked at her. "That was probably a really nice pounce, Clint kitty."
"He came out of the ceiling, I should've known," she complained, putting
the cat on the bed. "They have to go back upstairs soon."
"Yup." She petted the cat. "Did you sneak down to see
me? Thank you. I needed kitty cuddles." The cat purred
and stretched, curling up beside her leg to nap as if nothing was going
on. Callia settled in to nap too. She was still tired.
The nurse watched as first a dog, then a black and silver cat walked
in. The dog barked. The black and silver cat howled.
That brought a meowing tan and white cat, who investigated the nurse to
'talk' with her. Then a hyper black cat zipped in and hopped up on
each and every single bed before finding the one he liked and curling
up around her head. A red striped cat sauntered in and sniffed,
looking around. She leapt delicately up onto a free bed and laid
down to stare at Callia. The chatty one got down and went to curl
up with her, getting batted at but that one flopped down on top of her
and bathed her ears so it was good for the red one. The dog whined
until Callia floated him up to join the other three cats. The
black and silver one was on Callia's stomach. The nurse looked
over at Dr. Pigalli, who smiled.
"The tan one is named after Dawn. The dog is named after
Xander. The black and silver is Phil. The first tan one is
Clint, and the red one's Natasha. The black one's Tony."
"It figures," the nurse said. She looked at the cats. The
Dawn cat was still washing Natasha's ears, even though the red cat was
getting a bit pissed off at her according to the tail movements.
She finally snapped and batted at Dawn again, who meowed
pitifully. Natasha huffed and curled back up again. Dawn
pouted and jumped down, hopping up next to Phil to curl up with
him. Phil nose-nudged her and Dawn meowed. Natasha huffed
again but got up, stretched, and turned around a few times before laying
back down to stare at the family grouping. The nurse picked her
up and put her on the bed. "You belong here. Curl up with
Clint like you do when your namesake's in here." She walked off to
get some coffee.
Natasha growled but Callia blinked at her. "Curl up, 'Tasha.
I need cuddles. I'm sick and miserable." She coughed.
Natasha walked up her to stare at her from her chest. She petted
her. "I missed you guys last night." She coughed
again. Tony howled and lapped her. Xander got up to do the
Doc came out to give her medicine. "Sleep." She looked at
the Natasha cat. "Lay down." The cat stared at her but did
that. She smiled. "Thank you for being sensible." She
walked off again.
Callia stared in awe. "How did you do that?"
She smirked. "Some day I'll teach you that secret." She
winked and went back to her desk. The cats got comfy and the dog
rested on Natasha's back until she hissed at him for it. Then he
nosed her under the tail and did it anyway since she was crowding his
Callia blinked at them. "You two need to have sex like daddy does
and get over it." She could ignore the doctor choking on her
coffee for her saying that because it was true. She shifted and
Clint scratched her so she quit. "I wasn't going to roll over on
you." She got comfy, curling around him. That gave the cats
more room to lounge with her. "I need to redesign my room
here." She yawned and let herself drift off again.
Dr. Pigalli smiled at the tiny family. They were very protective of Callia, just like the originals were.
Tony walked in with a bag from the deli across the street. "Did she wake up?"
"The cats woke her. I gave her more cough medicine."
He grinned. "They're good to her." He settled into his
chair. The dog looked at him. "No. My food."
Clint's head popped up and he meowed. "None for you either,
Clint." Natasha and Dawn meowed loudly. He got up and went
upstairs to get cat food for them, bringing down the huge dish of mixed
wet and dry food to put beside her bed. He opened one of the
single serve trays of wet dog food for the dog. Which Natasha
wanted but he swatted her out of it. "I gave you wet food."
They inhaled it and got back up to curl around their human while begging
her father for his lunch. They were cats, they got away with
things like that.
Hellion ran in and jumped up on the foot of the bed. "Down," the
nurse ordered. "You're going to flip the bed, dog!" It slunk
down and gave her a pathetic look.
"Here, Hellion," Tony said, patting his thigh. The wardog got down
to come get petted. "Thank you." The dog stood up on
his hind legs, front resting on the bed, to sniff the cats and Callia,
barking at him. "I know she's sick. That's why we're in
here." Hellion barked and lapped Clint, who hissed and batted at
him for it. "He doesn't like dog drool, Hellion. Let the
cats sleep," Tony said patiently, finishing his sandwich. Hellion
sniffled Callia again, lapping her, getting dog slobber all over
her. She sleepily petted him for it. He barked and she cooed
a bit. That was the girl that loved to chase him around. He
lapped her again and hopped up to settle around the cats. Dawn
played with his tail but that was fine. Cats liked odd
things. That's why they weren't dogs.
Tony took a picture with his tablet, then one with Callia's tablet so
she'd have it. He sent his to the whole family, including Xander.
Phil appeared, staring at the dog. "It's good you're helping her
feel better, even if you did cover her in drool." Hellion barked
and wagged his tail, looking happy. He petted him. "You're
very good to the baby, Hellion. I'm sure you'll enjoy having the
new ones around too." He went back to work.
Xander appeared, leaning on the bed. "Weren't you busy with the
puppies?" Hellion lapped Callia again. "Fine, play with the
sick puppy." He petted him, shaking his head as he teleported
off. Hellion laid down and snored at the human puppy.
Tony shook his head, having taken film of that to share with
Pepper. The pets had more personality than some geeks he knew.
"Oh my god, you're what?" Andrew yelled. "MB!" She burst out
crying. "No, not like that! I'm happy, that was happy
flailing and yelling! I promise it was. Please don't
cry! Pretty please? I can't handle it when you
Tony looked out there. Andrew being all 'flaily' could only have
one reason with that yelling - someone had forgot what he taught
him. "MB, the hormones are normal."
"I know." She sniffled, looking at Andrew. "You're the one who didn't switch condoms in Tony's office."
"Oops." He hugged her again. "We'll have stunning little
geek babies and I'll get them baby jedi outfits so they never touch the
dark side like I did." She smiled and kissed him. He leaned
her against a wall to kiss and hold her, getting in some minor butt
squeezing before a cat interrupted them. Tony came out to see what
kissing humans were about. His human didn't do that. He
climbed up MB's leg to perch on her shoulder and 'talk' to them about
it. Andrew looked at the black cat. Then at his wife.
Who was grinning and petting him. "I thought yours was evil."
"He's probably curious since humans don't go into heat."
He nuzzled her throat. "Bet me. I went into heat in Tony's
office." She pinched him but giggled. The cat meowed at them
so he petted him too. "We like you too, Tony cat. Yes,
she's with kitten and we were celebrating. Thank you for the
cockblock. It's almost as good as Jonathan's when he's mad at
me." She giggled and hugged the cat. Tony purred and let
them bring him back to his human. He jumped off, landing on
Hellion, who didn't wake up, and curled up back around her head again,
getting a sleepy pet of his own. Andrew walked her over to the
doctor. "Find out what it is?"
"She's not more than a month pregnant," Tony said, smiling at them. "Unless she created some aging formula."
"I forgot," he sighed. "Try anyway?"
"We can try an ultrasound, Andrew," she said patiently, taking MB to do
that. "Do you need an OB's name, MB? I'm not one. I
can do birth control exams but birthing babies is not my strong suit."
"I can probably use who Tara does if they take my insurance."
"I'll hack millions if I have to," Andrew said.
"No you won't," Tony ordered. "Because you'd hate to be a dad from prison, Andrew."
"Fine." He grinned. "I might anyway," he said quietly.
"That way the baby has kick ass toys." She kissed him to take the
evil thought away, which reset his brain at 'I'm going to be a daddy'.
"I can't do the ultrasound while you two are kissing," Doc said
patiently, for her. Andrew pulled back and got out of the way,
watching how that worked. The baby was just a tiny splotch
right now but he was having a head full of bad thoughts. MB was
sniffly so he hugged her, making Doc move out of the way since he
climbed on top of her to kiss and cuddle her. Doc turned off the
machine, going back to her office. "No sex in the infirmary,
MB smiled. "Go have flaily time," she said quietly.
He kissed her. "I can do that." He looked around. "Tony, I'm going to be a dad."
"You'll do better than I did because you have more great examples than I
did," he said patiently. "Want to go tell Rodney?"
"Can I?" Tony had him sent over. He looked around at the
Marines exercising, spotting someone he knew. His mind finally
ground to a halt since it was safe here. The wall holding
all the bad thoughts back crumbled as the forcefield collapsed.
This was the homeland of geeks, they'd understand. "Radek, where's
Rodney? I need to talk to Rodney. He can make my mind shut
up with the bad ideas about baby bottles and baby toys and all sorts of
baby things and what if it's a girl! I have no idea how to deal
with girls! She might turn into Dawn, which is really okay and all
but not what I want my daughter to be. Where's Rodney?" He
looked around. He knew he was babbling but he was scared.
"Come," Radek said, leading him off, letting him babble. "Rodney can clear future baby bad thoughts."
John winced, shaking his head once Andrew was out of sight range.
"Those are going to be some very big geeks." The Marines staring
at him nodded as a group. "By the way, that's Andrew if you heard
Rodney talking about him. He's recently married a chemist, who is a
lot like him only less of a fandom geek."
One Marine raised his hand. "Do they work for the SGC, sir?"
"Oh. That makes sense then. I didn't think our geeks were allowed to breed without permission from General O'Neill."
"No, like all of you they can breed whenever you want. General
O'Neill will kick your ass if you're a man who doesn't take
responsibility for his dick's actions, but you can breed whenever you
He shuddered. "Can he do marriage ceremonies?"
"I'm not sure. He might. I know he married a few geeks off
in a civil service once." The Marines moaned. John
smirked. "Yes, there's gay geeks too, people."
"They're all a bit gay," one muttered. "And weird." John
glared so he got back to his exercising. He'd probably have duties
later that would involve him picking up trash by hand again or sparring
Rodney looked up as Andrew walked into the lab led by Radek. "Huge
problems at Stark again?" he asked, sipping his coffee before putting
the cup down. With the look on the younger engineer's face it was
going to be a long day. Thankfully Dawn made excellent coffee for
him if he was needed over there. Better than the sludge some of
his minions had made in the lab's coffeemaker.
"I'm going to be a dad and it's *so* wrong but I have no idea. I
want to make baby toys, and great baby toys, but I have no idea what
normal babies want and what if the baby comes out like my brother or
even like me and he's a dark little guy instead of a jedi in the
making. I'm going to have to make it a light saber that can stick
to a baby hand. MB's going to be really pissed if the baby
comes out evil. Not that I think he'll be evil but he was
conceived in Stark's office," Andrew babbled. "So maybe he left
some evil plan germs there."
He swallowed. "What if my project worked and we're both
pregnant. Then we'd have twins and I'm not sure I can handle
twins. Twins are kinda scary, especially Tara's daughter because
she's like a future super agent sort and she's nearly shot me once with a
nerf crossbow. Since I wasn't reading to her she might've wanted a
real one. What do I do if mine comes out like her or we're having
Rodney reached over and nerve pinched him. Then he sighed.
Radek walked off to his usual seat laughing. "I love mentoring
young geeks. Especially these two."
"How would he get pregnant?" one of the other geeks in there asked.
"He's working on it to spare his wife the pain of childbirth," Rodney
said, finishing his coffee. "It appears he didn't find it in
time." He stepped over Andrew to get another cup and sat back down
again. "We'll talk when you're calm," he told the unconscious
body. "Then we'll figure out if I want to do that some day or
not. I should have someone to carry on my greatness and while I
don't think I want a child, I might concede that argument with the
proper nanny and support system."
All the other scientists were staring at him oddly. One of them
found the 'just in case' dart system and hit him with one. Radek
saved the cup of coffee when Rodney fell. "Was mean, people, and
he will retaliate later." He put the cup down and settled in to
watch over them while they slept. Andrew was snoring so clearly he
had too much fun with MB and not enough sleep recently.
John walked in and smirked at the geeks. "I'd hit PT before he wakes up, people." They fled.
One stared at him. "He was talking about using some male pregnancy
thing to spawn, Colonel. It was brain saving for all of us,
"Yeah, I don't care and if Rodney wants to get pregnant I doubt even
being sedated would stop him. After all, that's how some ancients
did it. Even Janus."
"No wonder chaos people pray to him," she complained, walking off sulking.
Personally, John agreed, but still. It wasn't a good precedent to
set. Rodney would make them miserable for days and might get
pregnant just to make them all shudder in horror. He followed the
geeks out, leaving Radek with the two sleeping ones. He found one
geek texting and glared at her. "I'm telling the general," she
said. "Before they get *ideas*. He always comes back from
Stark with *ideas*, Colonel, and it's a bad thing!"
"We get new weapons," he said smugly. "It's not all bad."
She shuddered but got into the PT. It might save her from Rodney's
In Colorado Springs, General O'Neill got a text message. He looked
at it, seeing it was from Atlantis by the phone number. He opened
it, expecting some bitching or a complaint being made. The one he
got.... wasn't exactly what he was expecting. He looked up.
"Sheppard, report to my office, now," he called. A second
passed. "Right the hell now, Colonel Sheppard." John
appeared. He held up his phone to show the message. John
explained it. Jack paused then shook his head. "No, if McKay
wants to get pregnant, he has to help the idiot geeks with their
research, build his own machine, present his findings to the scientific
community, then he can have the kid."
"The Ancients had machines for that, sir. We've found six hidden
on the city in storage, one seriously broken. They're lacking
crystals. Andrew and Jonathan's research project resulted in a
first trimester miscarriage once. So they could probably do
that." Jack shuddered. "But I'll tell him he'll have to
present findings and let the scientific community pat his stomach while
he's knocked up. Maybe it'll make him date." He disappeared.
Jack rubbed his head. "Ow." He got up and wandered to the
infirmary. They nicely got him onto a bed and scanned his brain
without him having to say a word.
Doctor Carolyn Lam looked at him. "Sheppard?"
"McKay. He told the geeks he might think about getting pregnant some day."
"He can't do that."
"Ancients did. Sheppard said they found machines. Some geeks at Stark are working on it too, Doc."
She hit him with a needle of sedative, letting him take a nap.
"You rest. We'll make sure that the mean ideas don't settle,
General. I'll have Colonel Carter go talk to them." She
walked off to call her, then burst out cackling once she was in the
office with Dr. Peter Jennings, who was an immortal healer. He
told her how that worked for Gods and immortals. Then he noted
that if he wanted to, John probably could have an energy pregnancy or a
regular one. She shuddered because she had the sudden image of
John and Rodney being pregnant with each other's kids thanks to the
rumors going around about them.
Or worse, her ex Xander.
Maybe she'd pretend to be a general and take a nap.
Xander looked up then shook his head. "I'm not a chaos god, I
don't have to intervene." The trainees stared at him. He
smiled. "Colonel Sheppard's people were talking about the male
pregnancy machines they found on Atlantis. Apparently they were
well used." The trainee agents all groaned and huffed off.
Xander smirked. "That adds to your runs over the obstacle course
while you have the hangover."
"Sure," one agreed, waving back at him. "We can do that,
sir. Better than the thought of your half-brother being pregnant."
"Don't mention that," Clay shouted from where he was working out.
"I don't want to give any goddess any ideas." That got a mass
shudder. "Think how I feel, people. Mine's mom is a pushy
Xander grinned at him. "John told O'Neill they found the machines for that."
Clay looked at him. "I'm going to shoot you, Xander," he said
calmly. "Before your mother and his mother get more ideas.
Run really fast."
Xander cackled. "Andrew's wife's pregnant. He was babbling about what if his research worked so they'd have twins."
"Run really, really fast," Clay said, pulling a gun. "I know it
won't kill you." Xander stole it and grinned, then zapped him to
make him bounce off like Tigger. "No fair!" he complained.
Roque saved him and took him off.
Jensen was shaking his head as hard as he could. "I didn't want to
see Clay pregnant and waddling," he complained when Cougar patted him
on the shoulder. "Damn it!"
"Look at it this way, Jensen. You can be a godparent," Xander
quipped with a grin. "With your lifespan, you can watch over them
as they grow up."
"And if he does get knocked up, they'll probably have to appoint him to a
position and make him a god so he's strong enough to carry it."
Jensen looked at him then up. "Roque, if it makes him a god, we're
abandoning you to him. Be damned if I want to see Clay being a
god." He looked at Cougar. "I need laid to get that very bad
image out of my head. Let me find my groupies." He stomped
off slightly whimpering.
Cougar pulled a gun and wounded him on the arm. "No
groupies! It's wrong," he said in Spanish, stomping over to haul
him off. It wasn't a bad wound, easily bandaged, and it would let
him tie Jensen down without him being able to get free. That was
his lock picking hand.
Xander cackled. He loved Roque's team sometimes.
Phil appeared, staring at his mate. "It hasn't been ten years since the tentacle incident," he said patiently.
"I'm beloved of many chaos gods," Xander said with a grin. "I
didn't even start it, hon." He kissed him with a wicked
smirk. "Andrew's worrying about his project with MB
pregnant. Apparently they decided to have a moment in Tony's
"Mmm. I heard." He took another kiss. "I'll cure that
dirty mind later if and when I finish talking to this one agent."
He disappeared to go back to it.
Xander nearly skipped up to his temple because that meant he was getting laid tonight. Yes!
Nick Fury had heard the rumors from Joyce. Then from Banner, who
was happy for the boys. Fury wasn't so happy for the boys.
He walked into their lab, finding Jonathan and Patty kissing. He
cleared his throat, making Jonathan jump. "If you two should get
your private research topic to work, that child will be in a battle
uniform when they are teenagers after being taught by all the Avengers,"
he warned. "There's too many people who would use the male
pregnancy idea on my agents and I can't have that right now. So it
had better be at least five years. Am I clear?" he asked
Jonathan sniffled. "Our baby would be a superhero? I'd love that!" He hugged Fury. "Thank you!"
Fury got free and left before he got sobbed on again. That had
suspiciously looked like a mood swing. Which was a very bad
thought. He had enough of those from Hill and Tara.
Jonathan smiled at Patty, wiping off the tears. "That's a great future for our spawn."
She smiled. "It is." She pulled him closer to kiss
again. "If you get it to work, I'll baby you like Dawn
gets." He beamed and pulled her closer. They could have
their first time right there with that huge boon hanging over their
heads. Patty gasped. "Jonathan! We're in the *lab*!"
He grinned. "Want to go to Tony's office instead?"
"Apparently there's a fertility curse on it. One of the chemists in that orgy is pregnant too."
He reached up onto the table, patting until he found something to pull
down. It got opened and she moaned at the pheromone complex they
had taken out of chemistry after that orgy. "I don't need it for
you but this way, it's all good."
She capped it. "I've wanted to pounce you for months,
Jonathan. I don't need sex syrup fumes to help me." She
ripped his shirt off and got him out of his pants, then did her own
modest pants and shirt. She climbed on top and winced as she broke
herself in but it was good. Jonathan had more than an idea of
what to do to her body even though this was his first time too.
Tony pulled out his phone when it beeped. He blinked a few
times. "JARVIS, let them have some privacy too." He canceled
the security alert and sent an email to Jonathan to put the sex syrup
back in the safe. He put his phone up. Fury came stomping
in. "What's wrong now?"
"If those two geeks get that male pregnancy idea to work, their kids are following in Romanoff's footsteps."
"I'm sure they'd like that," Tony said with a grin. "They make good lower level super heroes."
Fury growled. "Can't you stop them!
"Nope. Especially since Rodney said they found the stored male
pregnancy machines from the Ancients in a storage area recently."
Fury whimpered. He smiled. "Want to read to Callia?"
"No. Sorry, kid, but I can't take sick people. I get enough
of that from Agent Hill's morning sickness." He stomped off having
a headache. If the higher ups heard about that he was
screwed. All his people were screwed. Maybe literally.
Tony grinned at the nurse, who was staring at him. "What?"
"To them it became a chore instead of a fun thing. They had to
have another generation since they couldn't ascend. Dawn thought
that was really sad because you're supposed to want to knock up your
partner the old fashioned way, not have a machine do it to you."
"It is," she agreed. She went to tell the doctor. Just in
case either the geek's way or the machines got used around the tower.
Dawn appeared in the white house with a perky grin and some
papers. "John wanted to have this delivered, but General O'Neill's
got a migraine." She handed it to the president and his
husband. "So I'm being a good delivery girl as a favor." She
He looked it over. "They found what?" It was a list of the
new machines they had found on Atlantis once they had the power to
search safely. He read over the list. It had explanations
for most of them. Some of them were for planting or making new
plants. Some were genetic splicing machines for animals. He
came to an entry halfway down the second page of three, blinking at
it. He pointed. "Does that say what I think it does?"
Loki looked and nodded. "It says they found the male impregnating
machine." He considered that. "I thought it took a goddess
who wanted grandchildren to do that." He shook his head quickly.
The president looked at him. "That wouldn't work on mortals."
"Yes it does."
"It does?" Loki nodded quickly. "Huh." He let his mind
turn over that idea. It was clearly a bad one. "We can have
them destroy them."
"Two of Stark's lesser nerds are working on it as well."
"Got any mead left?"
"Yes, but you have a meeting in two hours," Loki said smugly. "With the CIA, who might like to look at those."
"The CIA doesn't need to breed future agents. They can recruit well enough."
"Fury?" he teased with an evil smirk. He was a chaos god. It
was sowing a lot of chaos and giving him happy evil tingles of power.
"If he can use it on your brother and Captain Rogers, perhaps." He
smirked because he knew what his husband was doing. "Maybe even
Dawn reappeared, staring at him. "All kids from my husband will
come from my body or Natasha's body. If anyone else *dares* to
have one with him I'm going to destroy them." She smiled
sweetly. "Have a better day because they found six of them and
one's already missing thanks to the former IOA people." She
They shared a look. They'd mention it during the meeting with the
head of the CIA and then with Fury. There was no telling where it
was. They wanted that sort of technology in *their* control.
Not someone else's. Especially not O'Neill or Stark, who wouldn't
let them use it for the greater good. Or heaven forbid, the UK
since they wanted to breed a baby Iron Man from his perky super
Phil looked back as his wings suddenly sprouted. He thought at
Xander and moaned. "Sorry, slight invasion in LA by elves.
I'll be back in an hour or so." He'd ignore that confused look the
agent he was talking to had. Elves were a bit weird for SHIELD
too. He disappeared, gathering John and a few others. The
wing spell was handed out to them. They went to LA to help Xander
defeat the snotty elves flying out of their portal two miles above LA.
"I hate these idiots," John called, firing on them. The elves were
trying to fire back but not happening. He called the SGC's head
desk to let them know they needed air support. Mitchell choked but
promised they'd be there in under ten minutes, they were already
scrambling. When the special X-302's from the SGC got there, they
were not amused by the people with wings but they got jetpacks to help
them stay up high enough since a few were starting to tire.
Xander looked around and flashed off, smiling at Ares. "I'll bring
them back. We have elves infecting LA." He disappeared with
all the war dogs in his temple, giving them all wings. He
pointed. "Attack the elves!" They barked and flew after
them, herding, biting, and ripping at them.
John looked at Xander. "He's going to be pissed off."
"Then he can pull out his wings from wherever he stores them," Xander
shot back and killed another one. He hated elves. He
*really* hated elves.
Tony blinked at his doctor when she shimmered and suddenly had pointy ears under her pixie haircut. He held up a finger.
She grimaced. "I wanted to stay down here. I'm not like them
and all they want to do is heal herbally. Medicine is so much
more than herbalism." She grimaced as Dawn walked in.
"Don't let Xander know," she said, hugging her. "He's fought every single invasion of elves."
"I'm hoping my nieces and nephews sneak through. They won't be armed."
Dawn thought that at Xander, who called that to John to tell the
others. She smiled. "Xander said you clearly weren't like
all the other elves and you were okay with him because you took such
good care of me. As long as you didn't pull a 'tude worse than
Athena's, it's all good."
Dr. Pigalli smiled. "Thank you, Dawn."
"Welcome." She hugged Callia, which woke her. "Want lunch?"
"No," she pouted, hugging the dogs. "Sleepy."
"Okay. You go back to sleep and when you wake up we'll get you
lunch." Callia yawned and fell back asleep. Dawn got Hellion
free and gave him the wings too. "Daddy needs you," she told
him. She sent him at Xander, letting him fly off to help protect
his people. Garnet and the older puppies were up there too.
Ares appeared on the ground, staring at up. "Them again," he
complained. His wings came out, because he didn't want to have
them most of the time, and he flew up to handle this new menace.
"The wings on my dogs of war had better come off within hours of the
battle ending, Alexander," he ordered.
"I'll try. If not, it'll be two weeks," he quipped with a grin and
a wave. "We have some that want to immigrate. They're not
Ares sneered. "Why?"
"Because the doc at Stark that takes such good care of Dawnie is one. It's her relatives."
"Fine." He fired on the ones with weapons. He didn't really care about unarmed combatants anyway.
Phil called in to send agents to guard the ones they knew about in
Illinois. Plus at Stark. There were probably a few others in
New York that were hiding too. Because he had the feeling that
the plastic surgeon who had treated Dawn's neck was one for some
reason. Or maybe he was just arrogant.
Hera looked up as her tired, sweaty son appeared. His shirt was
torn. His wings were out. She blinked at the dogs that
appeared who also had wings. "What necessitated that action?" she
asked, pointing at a puppy of war.
"Oh, them." She nodded. "I remember he put the portal up in
the air." Ares nodded. "Did we get them all?"
"We did and they ran like hell from us." He smirked. "Let me
go clean up. Dogs, heel." He walked back to his
temple. The other gods stared at the dogs with wings.
"Alexander did it because we had elves." Artemis whimpered but
helped him cancel the spells on the dogs. Dogs shouldn't have
wings. A few ran off before they could but they were weird dogs
anyway. Especially Garnet's newest puppies. Ruby and Marble
ran off too. He shook his head. Those two were really weird,
clearly warped by Xander.
Fury looked up as a winged Phil Coulson appeared in his office. "I heard. We win?"
"Yes, sir, and the ten immigrating elves got through safely. There
may have been others. I had agents tracking the six or seven that
made land. If they're here to immigrate they'll show them how to
file the paperwork with Immigration."
"I'm sure ICE will *adore* that," he said dryly. "I can't imagine how the deportations would go."
Phil shrugged. "They can claim political asylum probably."
He disappeared, going to the infirmary. "Doctor, three children
made it through." She stared at him. "I have no idea.
They're in the hands of Agent Sitwell in LA. He got beamed out to
handle that since he has a gentle touch with scared beings.
They're going to Immigration this afternoon."
"I'll call him," she said. He handed over the number with a smile. "Thank you, Agent Coulson."
"You're quite welcome. Alexander said you're safe from his hatred
of your people because clearly you're not like the rest of them.
You're not more arrogant than a virgin goddess on the rag as he put it."
She laughed. "No, I learned better." He smiled and
disappeared. She went to her desk to call that agent and ask about
her family. Two of the five had made it. She'd help the
other ones get here. Maybe Dawn had a poker contact that could go
The master vampire Spike woke up from his day-long nap and headed to his
shower. Then he got some blood to drink on his way to the poker
hall. He walked in and people were babbling about flying
dogs? "What the bloody hell?"
"Elves," one demon said. "We forgot they had tried in the past and
Alexander put the portal above LA." They showed him what was on
the news. Flying dogs of war. Flying gods of war.
Flying SGC members. Elves with jetpacks.
Spike watched then got a drink and went home. He'd find a victim
to pickpocket to make his rent. He had gotten his fill of flying
things when Dru insisted that flying squirrels were heavenly messengers
so she ate them to find out their messages. They had spent eight
months trapping every single flying squirrel in the forest for
her. That was his limit on flying anythings.
In a midtown Manhattan apartment, a bimbo witch and a bimbo assassin
were watching the replay of the earlier battle on an entertainment
station. Not like they watched the news and they had slept most of
the day anyway. "Aww, I want one."
The witch looked at her bestie. "The flying gods, the flying elves?"
"The flying puppies! They're so cute!" she cooed, pointing at
them. "That's a huge one but they have tiny ones. I think
"It's a spell," she said. "It has to be a spell. If I can
find it, I'll do it to one of yours." The bimbo assassin beamed
and nodded. The witch got online on her smart phone. Not
like she could use a real computer anyway. She found a spell site
she liked and looked it over. Her first search for wing spells
didn't find anything but the second did under someone named Loki's
log-in. "Here we go." She read it over twice then cast it in
her very poor Latin. Two of the Chihuahuas sprouted fluffy wings
that matched their fur color. "There, how's that?"
"They're adorable!" She cooed as she picked them up, checking the tiny wings over. "Can they fly?"
"They should be able to." One was trying to get away and she did
manage it. "I think she's in heat again. You need to have
her fixed. Bob Barker said that we need to have our pets spayed
"I will some day." She flapped a hand at her. "If she's in heat, I'll fix it with a q-tip like usual."
"Sure." She went to her room. She didn't want to know how
that worked. Later that night the dog was in heat. It was
getting laid properly by one of the other dogs, which made both women
groan because it had broken into their beer induced sleep. They
rolled over and went back to sleep. It was good that the dogs got
some since they couldn't.
This being in protective custody blew shit streaks. They couldn't
go clubbing. They had to drink in the house. They couldn't
have friends over. No boyfriends over. They had to work for
the people who had gotten them out of that grody jail and not complain
that they bought them the cheap liquor instead of the good stuff.
They had to *share* a bathroom, which was unheard of in their normal
lives. They had tiny bedrooms that weren't master suites with king
sized beds. They didn't even have a cook or a maid! This
was not how their life should go since they were pretty, popular, rich,
and wanted by a lot of men.
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