Summary: Bikinis are a right of passage, a trial of faith, and an emotional coaster. For most every woman, even secure, confident ones.
Categories: Buffy Stories & Crossovers > Avengers, Buffy Stories & Crossovers > SG1/SGA/SGU Characters: None
Series: Old Ones
Chapters: 2 Completed: Yes
Word count: 25575 Read: 8206
Published: 07/03/2013 Updated: 07/03/2013
1. Part 1 by Voracity2
2. Part 2 by Voracity2
Playing Old Ones.
Dawn looked at the catalog, holding it up. "This one?"
Clint looked over. Natasha was trying to cajole Philip into getting out of bed. They had both tried and failed so it was her turn before Dawn went in there to be the mean mommy. "Why are you looking at weapons catalogs?"
"Because it seems to be a family tradition that we start a small arms selection for each kid."
He tipped his head to the side. "I know you did that with Callia."
She smiled. "She still loves what I picked out and Tony updated some of them for the slayers. Liz and Chris have theirs and I'm working on what I'm getting Maeve for hers."
He sipped his coffee, staring at her. "Do we think the kids can't just have ours? Because I know you've stuffed more into those chamber necklaces of yours again." Sometimes he worried that they had somehow done something bad to Dawn's mind. Days like this, he wanted to find the cause and make sure it wasn't him.
She leaned over to kiss him. "Of course I have and I have one started for Philip. This is for the girls."
He took another sip of coffee, trying not to smile. His girls would be great with weapons because they would teach them to kick ass like their mothers. "We'll weed out some of ours for them. That way no one says anything about us buying our kids arms."
Natasha came out with a huff. "He will not get up." She sat down, looking at the magazine. "They are not that worthy of us buying one. Perhaps if they're given but not to buy."
"I was thinking about for the girls' future weapons needs," Dawn said.
"Apparently we gift the kids and the Stark kids with weapons," Clint told her. Dawn kicked him under the table. "I'm going to tell those reporters you're mean." Dawn just smiled sweetly and kicked him again. "Ow," he said, smirking at her. "PHILIP!" Mira woke up with a shout. "Sorry, dear, trying to get your brother up." Dawn sighed but went to get her cleaned up and dressed for the day. "We need to do another inventory of her necklaces. Plus any other storage areas she has."
"We do, I haven't seen Philip's weapons yet." They shared a look. She'd talk to Dawn about that later. She came out to hand her the girls and went to wake up Philip, who yelled but got up with a huff. "Did you put ice on him?" she asked dryly.
"Mean," Philip told her in a grumble, going to the bathroom.
"No, I unhid him since he was buried underneath his blanket again. Our son is not friends with the sun." She fixed the girls' morning cereal and Philip some toast with jelly. He pouted at her. "What did you want for breakfast? I can feed this to Daddy."
"You can eat half of it since you haven't eaten yet," Clint said before draining his coffee. He pulled his son over to cuddle. "Why are you wet?"
"Forgot to pull down undies," he pouted.
"Then go clean up and change them." Philip trudged to do that. He looked at Dawn, who made extra toast and jelly. He smiled. "Thanks."
"I have an appointment later."
"With?" Clint asked.
"I'm talking to someone about the bathing suit issue." She came out to hand him his toast, put down her toast, and make Philip some more. He pouted at her. "What else did you want with your jelly toast?"
"No bananas in the fruit bowl. There's a melon, there's a cantaloupe, and a few peaches."
He pouted. "Mean."
She stared at him. "Want me to make you ant bait for breakfast?" He shook his head and nibbled on his toast. "What do you want besides toast with jelly, Philip?"
Clint smiled at him. If he scowled, the pouty mood would last longer. "Bananas tomorrow. I'll pick some up." His son had taught him a lot of patience. Because dealing with a pouty toddler was worse than waiting on a target on a hot rooftop in the middle of the desert. "What fruit did you want?" His son just shrugged. Dawn got something and put it on top of some dry cheerios, which earned her a funny look but Philip tried it and ate that instead of his toast. "What's that?" he asked Dawn.
"Rhubarb sauce. All kids seem to like sour things." She shrugged and sat down to nibble her toast. "So, do we think modern or antique weapons? Or a mix of both."
Natasha looked at her. "Should they not have their first birthday first?"
"I usually start them on their first birthday. This way I can order something nice for the storage area. Then they get one a year."
Natasha blinked. "You do?" Dawn smiled and nodded. "We have not seen this."
"Hmm. Tony demanded an inventory when he heard I was buying more weapons and since you guys were off doing spy things I had Gamble help me for a bit then I changed the lock combination." She ate another bite of toast.
"I have pretty guns," Philip cooed with a grin for his daddy.
"I bet you do. Your mom has great taste in guns and pretty things." Philip grinned and dug into his cheerios again. Clint handed over the spoon he had used to stir his coffee. His son took the hint, which was almost miraculous, and ate with it instead of his fingers. Clint took the uneaten toast, splitting it with Dawn. Natasha had already gotten up to have her protein shake. He looked at his younger wife, smirking a tiny bit. "We have to do the inventory."
"Sure. You know where the necklaces are."
"No external hiding areas?"
"Well, yeah. But I can move those later."
"We can do that," Clint promised. "At the spy shop?" Dawn nodded with a grin, chewing the newest bite of toast. "That's fine. Do they have their own necklaces?"
"The girls have one on order. They'll be in for their birthday. Then I usually put in two daggers, two short swords, and two guns, then it's one weapon a year."
Clint blinked. "Okay," he decided. "No bows?"
"That's their present when they show they can use one. For their third birthday I seem to buy a crossbow."
"That's handy," Natasha said, feeding the girls. She would not comment on her wife's strange habits. She really would not.
Loki appeared, smirking at them. "Good morning," he said smugly. It did so piss off the agents in the family. While he couldn't overtly harm them, or else he'd be destroyed by Dawn's wrath, if not his son's, he could annoy them grandly every chance he got.
Dawn smiled. "Are you here to piss me off before work?"
"Did you know people are wondering why you're buying weapons?"
"For their future weapons needs." She pointed at the kids with a smile. "Xander knows that. He helped me pick out Philip's first few."
Loki stared at her. "That's usually a present for warriors."
"Do you really think my children aren't going to be able to protect at least themselves?" she countered.
"No, I believe they probably will be." He shook his head, going to tell that to Ares. He had noted that someone was looking at Dawn's weapons buying habits.
Dawn grinned at Clint. "They're in the same storage area." He nodded, going to grab his jacket so he could pick them up.
"Daddy, daycare," Philip said.
"I'll be back in time for that." He went to move the weapons. The head of the spy shop smirked at him when he walked in. "Just heard someone was wondering why Dawn was buying weapons for the kids. I think it's time we do an inventory."
"The girls' and Philip's chambers are all in the storage area, Clint, and so is the stuff she saved for you guys. That's in a box."
"Cool. Easier to hide them." He got into the storage area, having to pick the lock. He even remembered she had poisoned a pin in the lock so he didn't get stabbed. He found two large boxes, three hanging necklaces, and one glowing spot. He looked at the glowing spot. "Hey, Gloria, is this a portal?"
She came and looked then shrugged. "Let me know. She's not supposed to be storing power generators, anything that creates energy, or nuclear anything in there, Clint." She got a bag from the back to hand over. "Her new blazer."
"Thanks." He tucked it into a box and took it out to their SUV. Then came back for the other things. He looked at the glowing spot again then picked it up. Warm ball of glow. "What are you?" It told him and he nodded. For some reason he was okay with mentally chatty inanimate objects. "Sure. You can go see the other Keys, though I'm not sure why you're a blue Key." He closed and relocked the area, carrying it out. "It's a blue Key."
"Huh. So that's.... Dawn?"
"Yeah, only she's got more than one and hers are green." He grinned. "We're visiting." He took it to the SUV and got in to go home. Not like everyone didn't know about the Key thing. He got there and carried stuff upstairs, with Benji's help since he was trying to wait patiently for the elevator. "Bad day?"
"Hunt brought home a floosy that I was going to shoot." They got on the elevator together and went up. "Dawn?"
She came out of the bedroom in a skirt and bra, putting on her earrings. "Morning, Benji. There's extra coffee." She kissed him on the cheek and took her new blazer, then the blue Key. "Aww!" She took it in to introduce to the girls.
"Please do not settle into Mira," Natasha said quietly to it. "She has enough stress right now. Her having magic might drive us a bit insane." The Key bobbed over to nuzzle her then cooed at Lexi. She settled inside Lexi. Dawn's set up a fit but they talked and that one was a good match for Lexi. Dawn's Keys pouted a bit but Dawn promised if they had more kids they could split off. Lexi already had one. They decided that was okay and settled down. Which meant Dawn quit glowing and could put on a shirt.
Natasha shook her head at her daughter. "Sometimes, things are weird in this life." Mira kicked her feet with a squeal. "Yes, you may go see Maeve." She got her dressed then moved to dress Lexi. That made her happier too since she had just pooped. Which made Natasha sigh because Mira was jealous and would do the same in a few minutes when she realized Lexi had done something she hadn't. Only Mira would do worse. "Clint?" He came in to help her. He saw what she was doing and looked at Mira, taking off the cute clothes before they needed to be washed. Sure enough, there was the fountain of poop.
Dawn came out to get some more coffee and pour Benji some hot water, earning a grin. She had tea and he liked tea in the mornings. She handed him the tea box, letting him pick out his own. "They wanted to do an inventory of the kids' weapons."
"Someone asked us why you were collecting weapons. I told them you had a lot of them. They worried a bit but then I told them how Philip and Callia had their own sets. Which made them worry more. They think you're nuts."
"Who was it this time?"
"Someone CIA we know." He sipped his tea once it was properly fixed, looking at the boxes. Dawn dug out the necklaces and put them onto the table. He still had the magical 'key' mark that allowed him to open them. He opened the first one and whistled. "Not the kids'."
She looked and pointed at the others. "That's mine." She put it on with a grin and went to do her makeup. Clint took it off her and got the others, shaking his head. They went into his pocket and the boxes got taken to the SUV. "Sure, if you want, you can pick out ones we already have for their beginning sets, Clint."
"I can do that." He grinned at his very strange wife. "Where's the Stark kids' sets?"
"Okay." He kissed her. Natasha kissed her. They took the kids to drop at daycare and Benji to help them do the inventory at SHIELD. That way if anything needed fixed they could have the SHIELD weapons people do that.
Dawn grinned and finished her morning routine, heading to work. It was a pretty decent day so far.
Four hours later, Dawn was spending her lunch at the FBI building. She stared at the local under director. "Director Mullins, what can I help you figure out?" she asked.
"Well, first, weapons? I know your spouses have a number."
"As do I. I also set up a birthday present tradition with my niece that I've carried through with my own children. Starting with their first birthday I give them a weapon that can hopefully protect them and their family in the future."
"No, that I win at kitten poker," she said with a slight smile. "I don't buy that."
"Oh. I see." He made that note and looked at her. "Why?"
"Do you really have to ask that after all the trouble my family has had over the years?"
"No, I guess that makes sense. Just guns?"
"Swords, daggers. Crossbow for their third birthday." She smiled. "I do the same for the Stark children."
"Huh." He stared at her. "That's really weird."
"They need them."
"Good point." He made that note. "I guess that's fine as long as they're all registered."
"They are. They're all registered through our house in North Dakota actually."
"I can understand that. They're the ones who found that out and mentioned it." He looked at her. "We have a more serious thing to talk about. It's said that you know where Director Nick Fury is."
"And you know what happened to him."
"It was not me that helped him disappear. That was on the whim of the other people he pissed off."
"There's a presidential inquiry being opened."
"The president knows. He showed up the next morning to talk to Maria Hill and the two new heads of SHIELD. He knew then where Director Fury was. Someone associated with Ares told him."
Director Mullins stared at her. "Why would he know such things?"
"Well, part of it was because Fury's plans would've created hell on earth." She crossed her legs and summoned the ferret, texting Tara. She put him on the desk. "He has known. He told my mother that he couldn't really have an agency director that squeaked." She summoned some files from her mother's safe and handed them over. "That is partially why."
He read them. "So he planned on having you kidnaped and selling you to break you and your relationship up. Is that why he's a ferret?"
She changed Fury back once he was on the floor. "You can answer him."
"She didn't change me," Fury said quietly. The director was staring at him. "Coulson changed me."
"Senior Agent Coulson?" he asked. "We don't have him listed as a magic using agent."
"As in husband of Alexander," Dawn said quietly. She looked at him. "At least your three clones haven't sold me to someone in India to rape me repeatedly until I killed them."
"This question was raised because it was reported he was at the last tower assault of Stark Towers," the under director said.
Dawn nodded. "Those were his clones."
"How can you be sure?"
"Because this one is the original, and I used the anti-clone virus someone developed against the one that tried to kill me there," she said.
"Oh, I see. The other?"
"Burned to a crisp because he sat down in Pepper's chair and looked really smug about it."
"Oh." He made note of that and looked at Fury. "Do you want to charge her with kidnaping?"
"I didn't change him that time. One other time I did trip the spell. Then again he had myself and my boss in holding for protecting my spouse. That wasn't the first time he became a ferret. That one was just long term. The kids he's protecting are very good to him. They treat him very well. They even have little outfits for him. Including a tiny black trench coat." She smiled at Fury. "The kids are good to you, right?"
"They're mean little shits who put me in harem outfits."
"That GHS Xander had some spares for his ferrets." She smiled. "He has four ferrets."
Fury grumbled but looked at the under director. "I did try to break apart the Avengers in the most mean way I could. I figured it'd stop the bullshit around them. That was right when she was ill because someone sent her a biological weapon at her desk. We had just time flipped to save Joyce and Bruce Banner from a plane crash." The Under Director shuddered at that. "They decided I was too evil with my plans." Dawn nodded. "So I got changed into a ferret."
Dawn nodded. "Still wasn't me. I've made sure the kids he's protecting are good to him."
"I'm getting fat. Like their mother, they think food is a great thing."
"It is. She's a good cook and so are the kids." She looked up at him. "The last I knew the President said if you came back you could be a special agent again. That way you didn't ruin anything for the agency."
"Who's running it?" he demanded.
"Mom and Cap. They're joint heads over Maria."
He swallowed. "They'll never be able to handle the dirty parts of the job."
Dawn snickered. "My mother? Really? The same woman who showed up with a large laser cannon to open a stuck door for some agents that were being held hostage?"
"Crap," Fury muttered.
"Never underestimate a Summers woman," she said dryly, smirking at him. "You underestimated me and tried to have me killed. Those records go back to a few different attempts on my life. And the life of my children." She stared at him. "For all most of us care, you can stay a ferret." He lunged at her and she shrank him again. She put him back onto the desk with a smile at the director. "I can call the President's secretary if you wish."
"No, I don't wish. I don't want to deal with this."
Dawn shrugged. "You asked."
"I did. I don't know why." He looked over those files. "That's treason."
Dawn leaned up to look then leaned back. "That's probably middle of the road of what's in his files."
He kept looking, finding the other plots against his own response team. "Why did he hate you?"
"Because we were supposed to be SHIELD's response team. Not a private entity. Yet his actions forced us to be too often. We ended up breaking out of SHIELD's little mold because it didn't do anything but harm our effectiveness. He wanted us back."
"So you were the block in his plans."
"I was one of many blocks in his plans. He had some against Stark, who never would've done more than subcontract for SHIELD, as he does and I do. Captain America himself was a block because he found out how much shit Fury pulled out of his ass on occasion. How many plans and plots he had. By the time we had to split off it had gotten to the point where no one wanted to be there. We had fought him off in other ways, like me sending him poisoned papers that made his hands swell and ache for six months. But then again he had just signed an order to have me kidnaped while pregnant." The under director winced. "Half of that was because of him. I wasn't the only reason that he was changed but I think that kidnaping plot was the final straw."
"It would be for my people too." Someone knocked and came in. "Agent Hill."
"Sir, it was reported that Miss Summers lifted some confidential files out of our safe." She saw the ferret. "Who asked?" she asked Dawn.
"He said the President did but we know he knew."
"The Vice President didn't and he's been pushy so the President had to ask." She took the files back. "We were going to show him later." Dawn handed over the ferret with a smile. "Thank you. The children do take good care of him."
Dawn stopped her by putting a hand on her arm. "Melissa doesn't need to know how to dress like her Mom in her early years. We've taught her how to handle a skirt properly. She doesn't like skirts. They don't let her play. She hates to disappoint you however."
"I understand. I'll talk to her about it later."
"Talk to Tara before she has a fit?"
"I can do that too." She nodded at them and left.
Dawn looked at him, shrugging some. "It was keeping him safely protecting children he didn't want to come into being," she said quietly.
"I can see why." He looked at her. "You're a bit ....uneasing to the FBI, Miss Summers. Not the least of which is that we know your marriage is not legal and yet it's pretty well flaunted."
"We've never filed the certificates in the US. We checked with my tax professional after that to see how we should file our taxes. The IRS said to do married filing singly. Frankly, the US wouldn't recognize anything between myself and Natasha anyway. They'll never recognize a marriage certificate from the country that Nat and Clint got married in. They barely recognize mine. Mine with Natasha won't be recognized for years."
"We realize you're on the edge of the rules." He stared at her. "A lot of people complain about that."
"They complain more than I'm not officially a full time Avenger." He grimaced but nodded that was true. "Thankfully only the religious cranks hate us for being together and Natasha and I being together specifically." She crossed her legs in the other direction. "Frankly we don't care what they like and don't like. We're happy in our relationship most of the time. With the way we're bound even if we did have to dissolve the formal union we wouldn't break up."
"I get that," he said. "By all our measures, you read as a revolutionary spirit. Which is never good."
She smiled. "Only in standing up for some social change. I've never forced my marriage on anyone. We've blatantly stated we don't care who thinks what about our relationship."
"Which we all appreciate," he assured her. "But it's still a bit...open."
Dawn nodded. "I can't hide anything. Have you seen the reporters that follow them around?"
"If we had hidden it, it would've looked worse."
"Yes it would have," he agreed. "We at the FBI would like it to calm down."
"Sure, please help us make it calm down."
He nodded. "If we could, we would."
She smiled. "I keep out of view most of the time."
"You do," he agreed. "So does your wife." She nodded. "Fine, I'll file that report about... the ferret." She stood up and shook his hand. "That place where you have storage?"
"It's run by a former spy." She smiled. "They help me a lot with tailoring issues so I can hide weapons, and some really great clothes. They're the ones I buy the weapons for the kid's birthday presents from."
"Huh. I need to be introduced."
"Not if you're going to bust them but show up." She shrugged and left, sending the recording on her phone to Tony's phone. He had ordered her to if it was something huge. When she got back with her take out lunch he was waiting. She smiled at him. "Maria has him."
"That's great. The VP is at SHIELD with the President." He looked at her. "Where's my kids' stashes?"
"Malibu. Where Callia's is." She sat down and logged into her computer and phone then smiled at him. "Where did you expect it to be?"
"Good point. I need to check that out."
"Chris has a working light saber another Xander got to tinker into being. Ours got him a copy of the plans and let someone at SHIELD build it for him." She opened her takeout box once her email was pulled up. "Hmm. Gloria at Vogue wants to talk." She considered it and sent a thought at Clint, who said to go for it. She was doing it with them too for their mandated interview. That and he was doing Esquire for some strange reason. She smiled and wrote back to her. "Clint's doing Esquire for his mandated interview from SHIELD."
"I'm doing one of the science magazines and so is Bruce," Tony said, walking off shaking his head. He called out there to see how big their caches were. They said it was tasteful and she had good taste in what she had chosen. So he'd look at it the next time they were out there. When he came back, Dawn was typing while chewing. He took the keyboard from her, letting her inhale the rest of her lunch while he smirked. Then he handed it back and let her get back to work. He walked into Pepper's office, finding her cooing at a cranky Maeve. He took her to look at. "What?" She fussed. "Quit. Daddy will be home soon." She pouted. "If you want him that much, become psychic, dear."
"Being telepathic sucks sometimes if you don't have shields," Dawn called. "You get all sorts of thoughts spread. Trust me."
Tony looked at her. "I don't need to know. I can pretty well figure out what yours were, Dawn."
She smirked at him. "Not mine. Natasha there for a bit." She went back to typing. "Linda, do you have the Percy...." It got handed over. "Thanks. Proofed?"
"Yup, all done, Dawn." She smiled and waved at the cranky baby. "Hi, Maeve." Maeve cooed at her and grinned. She winked. "You're a good girl. It's probably too hot in that sweater." She went back to her desk.
Tony looked at her. "Is that it? Are you having Mommy's hot flashes with her?" Pepper swatted him but he took the sweater off her. That helped and Maeve was less cranky. "Did your father dress you this morning?"
"Yes," Pepper said with a smile. "It was cute."
"It still is cute." He looked at her. "He's still stuck," he said quietly.
"I know. He's used to girls sprouting later."
"I get that but still."
"We're working on it."
"Callia's avoiding him."
"I saw." They nodded and Tony handed back the baby and the sweater. Maeve was less cranky and went back to the daycare to make Mira and Lexi less cranky too. Tony took off their sweaters. That made them all happier. That meant he could get back to work on his ideas for the expo that was only a few months away.
Clint looked up from his sorting, smiling at Joyce. "Hey. Doing an inventory."
She sighed. "Did my daughter buy all those?"
"No, some she won at kitten poker," Clint said with a grin. "Those are ours."
"Uh-huh. Tell her she has to quit playing again."
"She hasn't in nearly eight months, Joyce."
"Fine." She came in to look. "Are you doing more than an inventory?"
"She had a few kinda weird picks for the kids' future weapons cabinets."
"I thought she was doing that for Callia, not for all of them."
"No, she did one for each of the kids and each of the Stark kids." Joyce rolled her eyes as she walked off. "She has good taste."
Joyce smirked at him. "You taught her well."
"Yes we did." She laughed but left and came back with a higher up. "Sir," he said with a nod. "Dawn said she had to tell someone about the ferret earlier."
"I heard, Agent Barton." He looked at the weapons spread around the unused gym. "What are you doing?"
"A weapons inventory for our family." He looked up. "Dawn made sure that we could do one."
He nodded slowly. "She's a bit scary."
"Only when you try to hurt us," Clint said dryly, smirking at him. "Is this because of the guy that wanted to Due South us?"
"Huh?" Joyce asked.
"The guy who wanted to send me undercover and put Barney in my place."
"Yup," the President said, putting his hands in his pockets. "Sure is." Clint smirked a tiny bit. "That was my VP's idea."
"Figured," Clint muttered. He had little sense and no agent in the US trusted the guy as a world leader. He picked up a bow and tested it. "I'll bring that to teach Bob with this weekend. It's good for his skill range." He put it aside and finished repacking everything where it needed to go, kind of. None of the special necklaces were used so no one else knew about them.
The president frowned. "Who's Bob?"
"The Make A Wish kid I mentor? Him." He smiled. "He's a really neat little guy. Wants to do Olympic archery. So far he's pretty spot on and he's learning a lot."
"Huh. Great. We could use some good ones." He looked at Joyce, who smiled. "I know you and your daughter both mentor and help at a few of the cancer centers." Clint nodded, looking up at him. "So, now what, Agent Barton?"
"About what, sir?"
"Well, it seems like you're only on for specific missions."
"I'm a bit too well known for most undercover missions," he agreed. "Thankfully I've trained a few to take my place. So has Agent Romanoff. Then again, I'm nearly forty-five."
"Oh, I didn't realize." Clint smirked. "That makes more sense. So what'll you do when you retire?"
"So far, I'll probably end up helping home school the kids or I'll end up as Dawn's assistant at Stark. Or maybe in their security team. They could use someone there to kick asses."
The president blinked. "Her assistant?"
"Yeah. Benji liked it a lot when he was helping her during her first pregnancy and he had a torn up knee. Said it was pretty good, she didn't make him do tons of the contract stuff that she has to type up but he got to do a lot of the other jobs that she's taken on. Sounds kinda nice actually. A lot nicer than incident reports, mission reports, endless send-backs for typos and phrasing someone didn't like." He looked at Joyce. "Some day I'm going to send it in using one of those stupid online translators."
"Your last one looked like you did, dear."
He grinned. "Hill was annoying the crap out of me over a Brit spelling that she does."
"I've noticed that." She looked at the president again, who was shaking his head with a sigh. "It's a war she'll never fully win."
"I understand how that goes." He looked at the weapons then at Agent Barton. "Where does she store all these?"
"In magically hidden areas for the most part. Though half of them are in my storage area or hers or some other storage area in case we need them." He smiled and held one up. "She got this one for Philip's first gun."
"That's pretty, Agent Barton. Isn't he five?"
"Four, sir. Five in a little over a month."
"Does he need a gun?"
"Yes. Have you seen the people that want my kids?"
"I hadn't thought about it that way."
"Agent Romanoff and I made sure all the children in the family grouping know how to properly handle a weapon once they were of age. At Philip's age he knows not to touch certain parts. By the time they're seven they fully know how to shoot in case it becomes necessary. Which has saved them all a number of times."
"I can understand that need then. Have fun with your inventory." He and Joyce walked off.
Clint went back to sorting, making sure he put the stuff for the necklaces inside them inside one of the boxes so no one would see them. Coulson walked in with Natasha. "Watch that bow. I'm taking it to Bob's."
"I'm sure he'll enjoy that. He's in for scans this weekend," Natasha said. Clint grimaced but he could visit him there instead. He could go in when Dawn went in to visit the kids she visited and mentored. Natasha helped him load the necklaces, shaking her head at some. They were useful and pretty but a few were too shiny for their tastes. The kids would adore them though. "What is she plotting to start the girls' caches off?"
"Not sure yet. She said she starts off with a standard two sword, two dagger, two gun thing. Crossbows for their third birthdays." Phil shook his head with a slight moan. Clint smiled at him. "They're good so far."
"I did help train her," he said dryly. "Still." Clint shrugged and put the necklaces into his pockets and packed up everything else. He and Natasha shared a look then he tucked those boxes into a necklace too. Those went around his neck and they were nice. Dawn popped over and took them with a grin then went back to work. He sent a warm, fuzzy thought at her about helping Linda be her assistant if he left SHIELD. She giggled and said he'd be bored typing all day but she'd beg Pepper into a security position instead. He said that'd be good too. Nat could be her assistant. He, Coulson, and Natasha left, going to get something to drink then head up to snoop on the meetings.
The president was looking at Joyce and Steve. "There's a slight push to put SHIELD under Homeland Security."
Steve shook his head. "We can't do our covert work under them, sir."
"What about the CIA?"
"We'd destroy them for some of their covert work," Joyce said, handing him a folder. "We have recently had to remove some agents that were in the wrong place for the wrong reason."
He looked at that folder, wincing. "Ow." He looked at them. "It's thought you might have a media leak."
"We have a slight intentional leak for pressure release," Steve said. "That was my call, sir. We have a leak we cannot find somewhere on the hell carrier. We have been looking." A crossbow bolt hit his desk with a rolled up note. "I stand corrected. Agent Romanoff knows who it is and has turned them in to our internal affairs people." He handed that note over.
"Was that Barton?"
"Not with a crossbow," Joyce said with a smile. "It could have been Natasha. Or it could have been a few other agents. Maria, who had the crossbow?"
"Agent Simmons, who is presently on dirt cleaning detail, ma'am."
She came to the door. "Why did he do that?"
"Because he had to admit it whenever someone asks. So therefore he paused in his pursuit of picking up lint by hand along the rafters to send that to you as he cannot speak. His jaw is wired shut." Joyce smiled and went back to her desk. Maria got back to her own paperwork, tossing a folder down beside her. Joyce's assistant looked over. "Wrong forms."
"That seems to happen a lot."
"Only in one department and only with the new trainees. I am going to have to talk to the recruits." She put a few more down and then picked up the stack to hand back after a meeting. They really needed a meeting.
Joyce smiled. "The newest trainees that made it through the system can't type," she told the President. "They're good in other ways but not that."
"They keep using the wrong forms," Steve added. Joyce nodded. "The new class, which is taking the place of the one where everyone flunked, is looking much better."
"How did everyone fail?" the President asked.
Joyce leaned back and started a training center tape of an agent that complained when he hit the wall he had just looked at. Twice. She looked at the President. "Someone in HR thought that was appropriate whining so we're hiring for there too."
The President nodded. "What an idiot." He looked at Steve, who nodded he agreed. "So the temple's not busy?"
"No, he has some extra SGC people in, sir."
"Even better." He looked at them. "What do you want to do about the people who think you can be included?"
"Remind them we do a lot of covert work all over the world, including in places we may not have permission to be in." The President shuddered. "We cannot save the world under another agency, sir. Especially not the Avengers team."
"Most of them don't like your team," the President admitted, shifting his weight some. "They'd like to have the military do it."
"Go right ahead," Joyce said with a smile. "I'd like my daughter to never have another battle again. Or any of our agents. Please train them how to handle demons, magic, and other things, sir."
"I've pointed that out."
"They can help and see how big of a problem it is since I've heard that there's going to be an issue in Cleveland soon," Steve said with a smile. "Something for Yule I heard." The President winced. "We'd more than welcome them helping us."
"Great. I can tell them that." He walked off shaking his head. His guarding agents met him outside the office and took him down to his limo. He went to talk to those senators and generals. They had to have some sort of sense of reason. He hoped.
Joyce and Steve shook their heads, going to check on everyone. She looked up at Natasha, Clint, and Coulson. "Shouldn't someone be with the trainees?"
"I haven't had to shoot a single one in weeks," Clint said with a smile. "We'd all like them to handle it by the way."
"Us too," Steve said. He looked up at Clint. "I'm sorry I insulted her."
"She's forgiven you. She did as soon as she punched you into the wall, Captain." He gave him a look. "Watch some Jersey Shore sometime. Okay?" He grinned. "See what teenagers are like these days."
Joyce grimaced. "Eww. They're not exactly role models, dear."
"He was confused."
"Ah." She looked at her counterpart. "Thirteen is the same as sixteen when you were young and fifteen when I was younger. Ten is now thirteen in my day and probably about fourteen in yours." Steve shuddered. "That and girls wear less." She patted him on the arm. "We can talk if you want to. I'm going to get some tea." She pushed the button on the elevator and frowned, rubbing her temple. Clint sent a text to Bruce, who met her in the cafeteria to take her to the infirmary. "It's a sinus headache, Bruce."
"We're going to make sure," he said, patting her on the hand. "It'll only take a few minutes, Joyce."
"Fine." She kissed him on the cheek. "You're very protective of me."
"I am, yes." He smiled at the doctor that met them as they walked into the infirmary. "She's starting to have headaches again." The doctor looked clueless. This wasn't the same shift as the doctor who had done all the scar shots on everyone. "She's had two brain tumors removed in the last decade." They got her into the CT to make sure immediately. Bruce watched the scans, frowning. Scar tissue. He didn't like that but he knew it happened. Blood clot too. He marked it in the system for the doctor who would read the scans. Another one. And a third in her neck when he input that scanning parameter. "Joyce, you have clots again."
"Okay, we'll call my doctor," she said as she sat up. They helped her put back on her shirt and jewelry. She and Bruce looked over the scans. She pointed. "That's where I have the headaches."
"That's scar tissue," he said, giving her waist a squeeze. "We'll let him see. They're small clots but I worry." She smiled at him and he shrugged back. "You're important and I'd hate to Hulk out for good." She kissed him on the cheek. The on-staff radiologist looked at the scans and grimaced. "I marked three clots."
"I can see those and the scar tissue. Where are the headaches, Director?" She pointed. "That could be the scar tissue or it could be a sinus infection. They're a bit swollen."
"I took some cold medicine this morning."
"That's reasonable for most people but I'd be wary of drug interactions."
"I'm off most everything," Joyce said.
"I can talk to your personal physician." Joyce wrote down his name and number from her phone. "I'll get him copies of the scans as well." They nodded and went back to get her more tea and then hit the desk. He called him. "This is Dr. Ralinara. I'm a radiologist with SHIELD and I need to speak to Joyce Banner's physician please. We just took another CT." She put him on hold and told the nurse, who got the doctor within a few minutes. "She was having some headaches," he said at his question. "We found some scar tissue and a few minor blood clots that worried her husband.
"Could be sinuses," he said to answer that one. "Or it's in a location that has scar tissue. Of course. How would you like them sent? I can do so." He wrote down the email address. "Directly to you. She's back at her desk. She said she took some cold medicine this morning. I said I would consult you since I'm not certain of her treatment parameters. Thank you." He hung up and sent those scans over to him in an email. Then he went to get his coffee. He was doing a study on head injuries among SHIELD agents and their after-effects. He had plenty to choose from around here.
Clint found out what his wife's doctor's appointment was from Benji after she had rescheduled it for the second time. He was not pleased. He went to the office, smiling as he walked in. "You should not be here."
"I'm getting a bit saggy," she said.
Clint stared at her. "Doesn't matter to me."
"It does to me."
"It shouldn't." He stared at her. "C'mon. We'll get you more supportive bikinis, Dawn. You don't need tightened up yet."
"C'mon. I'd miss them. You know they're one of my favorite things." She blushed but smiled. "Let's go. I need lunch and you could use a snack since I know that you had Chinese for lunch." He logged her out and took her hand, walking her out. "I thought we all agreed none of us were going to have surgery that way."
"I was only looking into getting the boobs tightened. They're starting to sag after the kids."
He stared at her. "Which makes me a happy, happy guy," he said firmly, staring at her. "You do not need tightened up yet. When you're my age maybe. Though I'll still have plenty of toys to play with." He kissed her. "C'mon, I even picked up the Lotus since it's just us." She swatted him but was smiling and blushing. He watched her walk. "Damn, I'm blessed," he muttered, which she heard. She looked back at him. "I am."
"Bullshit." He smirked at her. "You look good. Don't argue. I'm your husband and I know all. We'll get you more supportive bikini tops." She gave him an odd look. "You don't have any reason to see a plastic surgeon. You really don't. You need to start seeing yourself like I see you."
"I saw myself in a bikini and I looked ten years older and like I've had two kids."
"You do not." He took her to the closest Victoria's Secret store. He smiled at the sales woman. "She needs a new bikini."
"Clint, they don't have my cup size here," Dawn said.
"Yes they do."
"No they don't. They don't carry hardly any D cups."
"We do carry up to 38D," the sales woman said with a smile.
Dawn nodded. "I'm about there or a 36DD depending on how they're made."
"Our cups can run a bit tiny," she admitted. "There's Sephora."
Clint grinned and took her there. They had bra and panty sets, which was about what a bikini was. Dawn put on her usual size and it was too tight. She had to go up a cup size with them. Clint made sure he wasn't drooling. He turned Dawn around so her butt was toward the triple mirror set up. "This does not jiggle," he said, patting it. Dawn squeaked and blushed. "Does it?" he asked the sales lady. "She said she jiggles."
"No, it doesn't jiggle. Clearly she does a lot of gym time." She was blushing too.
"I try but I'm still getting saggy," Dawn said.
"Which means I have more to play with," Clint said in her ear. He kissed her quickly as he turned her around. "All you need is a bit more support. Some of your bras have no support."
"There's ways of using pads instead of wires," the sales woman said. "We don't specialize in it but I've seen them at some of the plus size catalogs." Dawn gave her an odd look. "They do sizes down to yours. You're about the bottom size."
"We'll see," Clint said. "Stark's still working on the under-uniform bras." He put his hands on Dawn's waist. "You've finally put back on five pounds, which I like."
"I'm not getting chubby."
"That's not what I said. I said you finally put back on the five pounds that I've been nagging about for the last six months." He kissed her ear. "You look good like this." She looked up at him oddly. "You do."
"I don't. I'm sticking out all over the place."
"You're not." He bought her that set and took her to a different lingerie store, one she liked to shop at. He walked her inside. "She's went up a cup size. She thinks she's jiggly."
The sales woman in there smiled at Dawn. "I've noticed that in a few pictures."
"I was going to talk to someone about getting them tightened up. He didn't like that idea."
"Some husbands don't like their toys to be taken from them." She took them to Dawn's usual styles. "Let's do a fitting first." She took her to a changing room to fit her. "Hmm. Nice DD cups now. Pretty standard sizing."
"I'd still like some without underwire," Dawn said quietly.
"We can do that." She found her a few styles that had pads for support or the bras themselves were created so the straps pulled you up. Clint didn't like the last one and Dawn said the pads felt like she was trying to compensate. The underwire ones didn't look that good on her. It didn't push her up the right way. The side wire ones did a better job but she still had some sag. They found one style that worked for Dawn's figure. That style also came in bikini styles. That helped and Clint grinned when Dawn put on a bikini instead. "That looks nice. You could use a bit of toning again but otherwise you look nice, Dawn."
"Thank you. I thought I needed some toning too."
"You do not," Clint complained. "I like you being curvy, Dawn."
"Not to take the curves, but to tone the thighs a bit," the sales woman said. "Just a change in her routine to work her outer thigh muscles a bit. You're a bit hippy for that string style." She got her another one but Dawn shuddered at the sight of it. "Well, you'll figure it out," she said with a smile. Dawn picked up a few things and Clint took her back to work to nag her some more. She shook her head. "He's going to have to learn to let her have her things sometimes. Even if he does like her a bit plush.
Pepper looked up as Dawn came back. "That was a short appointment," she joked. Dawn pointed at Clint. "Did you haul her out of there?"
"Yes. She doesn't need tightened." He looked at Dawn, kissing her until she moaned. He smirked. "My toys. Quit trying to take them."
"Fine. Even though I still think I need to tighten things up before I have to be seen in a bikini during our yearly vacation."
Clint shrugged. "Yay. If they nag you about being so comfy, then I'll nag them for being shallow. I like you this way." She blushed but smiled and got into her computer. He sat down to watch her.
Pepper shook her head. "Dawn, that marathon next week?"
"I've been increasing my running distance for the last month," she said.
"Are you going to make it?" Clint asked.
She smiled and nodded. "I am. Of course I am."
He nodded. "We can go with you."
"Sure, you talk Nat into running a marathon with me." He thought at Natasha, who refused. She didn't like to run. She did her treadmill work and ran when necessary on assignment. She did not run in public. "See," Dawn said.
"Fine, I'll run with you." He took another kiss and went to the gym. He'd get Dawn over that 'jiggly' feeling somehow. She was not allowed to have some surgeon reduce her breasts. They were his toys and they were not disappearing.
Joyce looked at the idiot paper pusher who was here with 'recommendations' from the board that gave them to various intelligence organizations. "Excuse me? You wanted us to do what?"
"We believe that having agents past their prime in the field is not very effective."
"I think that's called experience and all our agents, no matter what their age, have to pass yearly fitness tests," she said, staring at the woman. "We have very high standards and have flunked whole incoming classes."
"We think they may be set a bit high."
"We think they're set a bit low because we do more than the CIA," she said with a slight smile. She was going to rip this woman's head off and beat her with it. Now she knew why Dawn liked that angry response right before a battle. "Our agents don't get the cushy spots. And often we have to deal with other agents in our way because they think that some of their missions are more important. We do try to be gentle to them however."
"The board ....."
Joyce held up a hand. "No offense but I'm not taking anything like advice from people who have never been in the field. I'll take it from Steve, as he's commanded people in the field. I'll take it from Maria Hill, because again she's commanded in the field," Joyce said quietly and calmly. "I'm not going to take it from some paper pushers with grandiose ideas of everyone getting along. Frankly, most of those agents are working at purposes that may stabilize a region but not the world, and that's our only concern. Our agents have to be stronger, better, and faster. No matter their age or training level."
"We don't know why you outsource some of it."
"Because Alexander can give them the additional boost to training that they need," Joyce said simply. "We give them the first part, he builds them into efficient agents if they pass him, and then we show them how field work goes. That way they're not in shock if something happens and they have to run halfway across Cairo again, like one of our rookies did. Actually, we're considering reinstating the mandatory 10K a year run requirement for all agents."
The woman blinked. "You had a what?"
Dawn snorted from behind her. "Most agents run at least 5K a week, ma'am. The higher up they are on the mandatory fitness needs, the more they run. Most Avengers members run at least 10K a week. My spouses run it twice a week." She looked at her mother, holding up the memo. "Unacceptable according to Stark."
Joyce took it. "Who sent this? That's not Coulson's writing."
"No, and you know Tony's not going to work with anyone who's not met up to his criteria, Mom."
"I know. I'll talk to the agent who sent this and see what they were thinking." She looked at her daughter and smiled at the woman. "My daughter Dawn is Tony Stark's personal assistant."
"Is he an agent?" she asked with a smile for Dawn.
"No, he's Iron Man." The woman slumped. She looked behind her when she felt someone walking up behind her. "Hey," she said with a nod at the scientist. "Did they have a meeting? I can clear out."
"I wanted to talk to Captain America about the Avengers," she said.
She held out a hand. "Dawn Summers." The woman smirked and shook it. "Let me guess, since I've seen your picture. Your husband's learned his lesson?"
"Then let's talk. I can give you the most realistic view of what an Avenger does and goes through." She led her into the office to sit down. "Excuse us, ma'am, but Avengers business." The woman huffed off. Dawn smiled and waved at her back. "Dumbass," she muttered. "Sorry, people who think they have a clue. I'm sure he told you I threatened him."
"He did, and I can see why. What do you do on the team?"
"Beyond half the press stuff for the team and backing up my spouse?"
"Oh. Oh, you're her."
Dawn nodded with a grin. "Yup, I am. There's a few things that may not have hit yours or his attention. Including that there's a ton of little kids that look up to all the Avengers. No matter which one. There's girls that think Natasha's a role model. There's ones that think science is cool because of Bruce. We're not against you joining but one of the main sticking points of your husband joining was his little...habit. Which is why he got warned."
"I can understand that. He's not.... Not anymore."
"That's great." She smiled. "I made sure he knew if I heard of him doing it again I'd be ripping him apart at the molecules. There's kids in the group. My kids, Stark's kids. We consider the Avengers like a family. We may fight. A lot at times. Tony and Bruce have had huge shouting matches in the labs more than once and not always about science stuff." Joyce laughed but nodded. "She's Bruce's wife." She looked at her again. "You realize that being on the team, a visible team member, means that you suddenly have very little privacy? That going out to dinner is usually at least half talking to people you've never met before? That they're going to look at everything you've ever done? The press is worse than Congress trying to kick out nominated people. They will find *everything*. I'm not trying to discourage you but with some part-time members we've had in the past due to assignments it's something we realize that they didn't. One committed suicide to get away because they realized he had accidentally killed his girlfriend back in high school."
"Yeah. We'd love to have you but you have to be aware that there's huge amounts of lack of free time suddenly. Bruce manages most days in the lab. Tony does too. But things happen at a moment's notice. We can be called to any country, anywhere, at any time because huge shit is happening. We won't usually be called to a few because they don't like the US," she admitted. "But we've been called to England and other places very quickly for things like demon riots and other planes trying to invade."
"I can understand that."
"You both know that you have to be in really good shape? Because battles last for hours sometimes. The lucky few we show up, we blast them back to bits, then we go home. That's not the normal battle. Most last at least an hour. We've all been drained and we're all in top shape."
"That's a reasonable point. We've both increased our stamina and our fighting skills."
Dawn grinned. "Cool. The whole team has a weekly sparring session and individual times in the gym vary. Usually we hit the gym as a team Wednesday after work hours."
"That we can show up for."
Dawn smiled and wrote down a note on her tablet. "Okay, we're in Stark Towers, the second one. Call me here," she said, taking out a card to hand to her. "I'll let you up. It's by pass only so we can get you one then if you still want to become one of us. We've had a few other agents who've tried to get in and decide it's really hard. We have them as backup members usually." Steve walked in looking flustered. "Did the paperwork wench find you?"
"Yes," he muttered. He paused and smiled. "Hi, Steve Rogers."
"Janet VanDyne." She shook his hand. "Dawn was telling me when team sparring was."
"That's great. She's got a good bit of things that she can share about being on the team since she's a backup member." Dawn smirked at him. "Can you make your vest a bit longer?"
"No. Why do I need to?"
"Your butt, Dawn."
"My butt looks nice, Steve. Even the press said I had the butt goddess visit after having Philip." He blushed. "Beyond that, the vest being longer would hinder my movements. And my suit's less clingy than yours."
"Fine," he said as he sat down.
"Forgive him, he's having a time warp back moment," Dawn sighed. "We've been squabbling like family for weeks."
Joyce snickered, nodding. "They have." She looked at Steve. "She can't."
"Fine. Guys are drooling on her."
"And they don't do it to Natasha? Whose suit is also tighter than mine," she pointed out. "You guys and your action suits are really tight."
"Crap," Steve muttered, getting to work.
Dawn looked at Janet again and shrugged. "It happens. You help, you work around it, you get back on track, just like any family."
"I've seen that happen," she assured her. "What do you do on the team?"
"I backup Hawkeye, and sometimes the wife even though he hates me to do it. I'm also on for magical backup and battles. We have a few witches we can call on for huge things but most of them are protection sorts. I'm one of the few that can do battle things."
"That makes sense," she decided. "Can we both come to sparring?"
"Sure. I will warn you again that they'll dig and you need to have something ready to tell them when they ask."
"I know. I can do that."
Dawn smiled. "Great. Bucky?" He leaned in. He was almost always within hearing distance of Cap. Their bromance had made some SHIELD agents write fanfic about them. She had found it and showed it to Tony, who had cackled so much Pepper had thought he was high. "This is Janet VanDyne. She and her husband are going to be joining us for team sparring this coming week."
"We pushed it back to tonight," he admitted. "You were busy with Pepper things. Steve was busy with paperwork that was going to eat him." He rolled his eyes. "Nice to meet you, Janet. I'm Bucky Barnes." He walked in to shake her hand. "Stevie?"
"He's right, sparring's tonight," he said.
"Okay." Dawn texted that at Clint and Natasha, who both complained. She smirked. "Mom, can you hellion sit?"
"I usually do with Pepper."
"Thanks." She wrote that back and they agreed it'd be fine. She got Tony and he said he knew. And to see where she was because he needed something typed up right now. She said she'd be right there. "Let me get back. Tony's got something he needs typed. I'll see you there, Janet. Just call." She smiled and shook her hand then teleported back. "Faster than a cab any day," she quipped at his odd look.
"Where were you?"
"SHIELD over that stupid memo. The VanDynes are coming tonight."
"Huh. Sure. Both of them?" She nodded with a grin. "You warn her about the press?"
"Yup." She took the forms to look over, handing him the completed copy. "Did them last week. Or are these a different set?"
He looked them over. "Same set, different source they're being sent to. This needs to go to about eight people." She settled in to pull up that file to amend it to include more names. She printed out the new letters and handed them over with envelopes and stamps. He smirked. "Smartass."
"Often." He walked off happier. This was for Liz's schooling next year.
Dawn got back to work, leaning over to look at Pepper, who was apparently napping on her desk. She sat back up and got back to work. She had things she had to get done for next week. Linda looked in there as she came back with some forms. Dawn gave her a few corrections and a few letters to work on. Including the intern things. "Update those for this year's interns. Letters of interest part can be taken out. Just pick up the package and send it to us with all that stuff. Add in two in biochem and one in shield design," she said quietly.
"I can do that." She took it back to her desk to work on that. The files for the intern applicants was a huge one. It was a ten page form to fill out, the letter, and the forms for writing letters of interest. She had no idea it was so huge. She thought a letter, an application form, and a few letters of recommendation, not your whole life history. She did find a few typos in the original. She had realized that Dawn went through to correct those each year and saved it down as the template for next year so they didn't have to find them again. Dawn never minded her doing that and it was handy.
"There's a few parts that weren't in that one," Dawn called. "Stuff we moved from the application."
"I saved it as a new template, Dawn."
"Okay." She finished up and collated some new reports then went to gather reports in the various labs.
Linda shook her head. How Dawn managed everything in those heels she wasn't sure. She'd never even consider doing all the floors of the labs in high heels.
Dawn went down to let the couple in. "Sorry, bit late talking to Pepper about new intern applications." She walked them up there. "Guys, this is Janet and Hank. They want to join the team."
Clint looked at Hank. "You have changed, right?"
"Good." He looked at Dawn. "Sparring, Dawn."
"Going, dear. Had to talk to Pepper about the intern stuff." She waved a hand as she went to change. She came out in a pair of leggings and a long t-shirt. Clint stared at her. "What?"
"That is not your usual workout outfit."
"I'm still jiggly."
"You are not," Tony complained.
"Yes I am. And I don't fit into a bikini anymore. Even the new one." She pouted a bit. "I look fat."
"You do not," Tony repeated, looking at her. "Maybe next to the well clothed skeletons we both try to avoid, but you're not fat, Dawn."
"No, I'm cuddly, but plush," she said dryly. "I jiggle."
"You had that same feeling after Philip was born," Clint reminded her. "Didn't we prove you wrong then?"
"Yes but now I do jiggle. I watched myself running and I look like shit."
"You do not," Bucky complained. "I know this is some girly thing but stop it." She glared at him. "Spar for now then go workout."
"I have been working out. I've increased my workouts by an extra day a week for the marathon this weekend." Tony shuddered. "It's for charity."
"Good," he agreed. "You need a better sports bra."
"Hey, nudge the guys with the under-uniform ones," she said dryly. "I could use it." They got to work stretching and going over what they needed to work on this time. Cap was ignoring the whole girl talk thing going on. Dawn had a leg cramp during it but she fought through it until she could handle it. Then it was individual sparring. She took on Bucky. She was less used to his style and he wasn't used to all the things she could pull out of nowhere. Xander appeared and sighed, taking off shirt to get involved.
"I take it Yule's going to be great?" Dawn quipped.
"Not likely. The military can handle it I think. It looks like another refugee situation." He dove in with her and Bucky. She and Xander fought while Bucky stared, mouth slightly open. "This spring, Wolfram and Hart are back."
"New invasion?" she guessed. He nodded. "I can work up stuff to deal with it. Any particular sort of demon?"
"Not that I'm aware of." Phil appeared and took off his jacket and button-up shirt, coming in to spar with them. "Hi, dear."
"Xander. Dawn." She grinned and attacked him. That worked. A three-way fight that Bucky got pulled back into.
"I'm not playing with them," Tony told Clint. "I can't fight gods that way." Xander shot him a grin and tried to clock Dawn but she ducked and Phil's punch attempt, blocking Bucky's and using him to block Phil then attacking Xander again. He sighed. "We did too good on her training." Clint smiled at that complement. Dawn suddenly yelped and ducked down to hold her leg. "And that's a leg cramp. Dawn." She limped over to let them help her. "Heel down," he reminded her. She did and walked it off with a wince. Phil and Xander were still sparring and Tony shoved Steve up there to help Bucky. It helped him be worn out. Dawn finally got free of the cramp and limped back up there. "Dawn," Tony complained.
"Need the workout time anyway, boss."
"Uh-huh. Go use the machines." She sighed but went to do that instead. Which distracted Clint since she was using the thigh press machine. Tony glanced and shook his head. Clint could handle his own needs for his wife. He would prompt the guys with the Stark bra collection. They were nearly ready. He moved to talk to Janet and Hank. They were interesting and they could use new blood on the team. They both had skills they could use. They weren't up to Avengers standard yet but they were getting closer. Steve came over to talk to them about what being an Avenger meant, with some helpful input from Natasha and some not helpful input by Clint about the press following them.
Dawn got her number for the marathon, nodding at the actress she was competing against. "Hi." She shook her hand. "Good luck."
"You too. Are you okay?"
"I had a leg cramp again last night. It'll quit soon." The actress smiled. "See you at the finish line somehow." They parted and went to stretch and get ready. Dawn was more than ready. Clint couldn't run with her. He had twisted his knee again last night hopping up when Lexi started to vomit in the middle of the night. The toys really had to be picked up no matter what Natasha thought was okay. Dawn finished her stretching and smiled at the waiting reporter. "What?"
"How are you feeling, Dawn? I noticed a limp."
"I had a leg cramp last night." She shrugged. "They happen."
"So you think you'll make good time?"
"I hope so." She smiled. "It's not my first run."
"We noticed you finally changed sneaker brands."
She looked down then at her. "My last ones fell apart. These ones are the same sort of too wide that they were." She sighed. "It happens I guess." She lined up at their call. She tilted her neck side to side and started her mp3 player. She selected her playlist and took off in an easy lope with the rest of the pack. Once it started to break up she increased her speed. There was that damn calf cramp again. She got some water at a station and made herself move on. She needed to. She was proving a point to herself and others about healthy being different than skinny.
She made it to the halfway point at about the same time as the actress and got some more water then sped up again. She could outpace everyone but the olympic marathoners. She just had to save some energy for later on. She was doing okay though. She got another cup of water and choked since it had been syrupy sports drink. But sure, she could do that. She pushed herself, letting herself fall into the music.
She made it in a good time. Not a great one but a decent enough one. And about ten minutes before the actress. She was walking off the remains of the cramp and cooling down when she got there. "Hey, let's get you some water," she said, getting her some and helping her to one of the medics waiting. She was pale and shaky looking. Dawn got her a bottle of warm water, a cold one would cramp her up. "Here, water. Drink." She helped her drink. "You okay?"
She nodded. "I pushed myself."
Dawn smiled. "Me too." The woman stared at her. Dawn shrugged. "I run a few times a week. This was just a longer one." She helped her over to hand over their numbers. They got their little printed certificates. The reporter that had brokered the bet had their checks for the charity that had won. Dawn grinned. "Happy rest of the day. Have some ice cream?"
"I'm going to. I deserve it." She smirked at her. Dawn strolled off, finding Clint watching. "Awww." The reporters looked around and smiled, taking a few pictures of them kissing. "She's damn tough." They talked to her about how she had done. So maybe Dawn had a point. She had to admit she had done better than her.
Clint grinned at Dawn as she walked up to him. "You ready to have a shower?"
"Yup." She took a deep kiss. "And a leg rub?"
"Definitely. We need to find out why you're cramping." He walked her off to the car. "The kids are helping Grandma clean out her closet." She beamed at him. "Nat's starting a bath so by the time we get home you should be able to hose off and climb in."
"I love that you take care of me."
"I like taking care of you." He winked and got her into the car then walked around to drive. So what if the reporters saw that as a bit of a possessive gesture again. He was a bit possessive over Dawn because people kept trying to take her.
Dawn looked at Dr. Shivs the next morning. Her cramp had come back with a vengeance last night and she could not get it undone, even with Clint working on it. "I have no idea. I've had them for a few days."
"Sounds like a vitamin deficiency," he said. "Multivitamin?"
"Nope," Dawn admitted. "Not since I was pregnant." He did the test on her blood too just in case. "I'm not."
"No, you don't taste like it," Clint teased. He had been having fun when she had cramped up. She smiled but kissed him.
Shivs shook his head, looking at the results instead of them. "Let's up your potassium and iron levels, Dawn. You're looking a bit anemic." He looked at her. "Less time at the gym." She snorted, shaking her head. "You need it."
"I need more time. I jiggle. My thighs are like jell-o."
"They are not," Clint said impatiently.
"They are. Even the sales lady noticed it."
Shivs shook his head. "You're not overweight, Dawn. You're about five or six pounds above where you usually are." Dawn nodded she knew that. Clint scowled at him. "She had some muscle loss during her last pregnancy when she couldn't work out, Clint."
"Fine," he complained. "We'll help her take the cuddliness off." Dawn hugged him. "Just iron and potassium?"
"Try for less caffeine or more water. It might help that too." Dawn nodded at that, hopping off and limping. "Try for a massage?"
"I tried when the cramp hit and she nearly screamed," Clint told him.
"Okay, then let's do something to relax the muscles. Try the lamaze yoga stuff you learned, Dawn."
"I can do that." She patted the doctor on the arm and let Clint take her home. There was as usual a reporter outside. They liked to haunt the tower's shadows so they could pop out and nag them for information. "Leg cramp," she quipped.
"You've had a few of those. Is it a problem?"
"The doc says I'm a bit anemic," Dawn said with a shrug. "So vitamins, some yoga, who knows. I have pampering spouses who give the best massages when I have them." She grinned. "I'm a lucky girl." She walked off with Clint to catch a cab. She was not in shape to walk back. He helped her in and they went home. She went to their home gym to do some of the yoga stretches she had learned in lamaze. Clint went up to tell Natasha what Shivs had said.
They'd find out later that actress had went to the ER that night. She hadn't been in great shape and hadn't hydrated well enough after her run. Dawn sent flowers to her hoping she got better faster when she heard.
Dawn came in that Monday dragging. Pepper stared at her and she shrugged. "Tired. I was trying to uncramp my leg all day yesterday."
"Why didn't you take a muscle relaxer?"
"It didn't work."
"I've had a few of those." She patted Dawn on the back. "Congrats on the marathon."
"Thank you." She smiled. "I did okay." She settled in to get to work, flexing her leg back and forth to ward off a new cramp. Maybe it was the shoes. Who knew anymore with her body.
Tony walked past her reading an application. "Nice run, Dawn."
"Want someone to work on it?"
"Clint tried. It hurt a lot." He nodded at that, going in to bug Pepper over the applications. Dawn got to work and it was nice. Linda was about five minutes late but she always made it up and she took a city bus so things like that happened at times. Dawn was in the middle of answering a call when the cramp came back. Pepper came out to get the phone for her while she worked on it. Linda called the infirmary for her, which was sweet of her. Pigalli came up to look at her. "Cramp," she moaned.
"Okay." She helped her up. Dawn wasn't going to be able to put weight on that leg. They took her to look at it. Nothing damaged. Nothing too stressed. She had eaten bananas and orange juice that morning for breakfast. Pigalli worked on it, pushing hard on one spot, making Dawn wince. It helped though and she was finally uncramped. Dawn panted, calming herself down. "Any idea?"
"Not unless it's the shoes."
"No, I don't think so." She checked. The muscle was still tight. "We'll figure it out."
"Her thyroid's okay," Shivs said from the desk. "I checked that." Dawn grinned at him. "She's concerned she's jiggly."
"I've increased my water and decreased my caffeine," Dawn said. "I've started taking the multivitamin we had in the house, which was the leftover pregnancy one."
Pigalli took another blood sample to run for toxicology. That came up with something. She held it up. "What would that do?"
Dawn looked and nodded. "Cause muscle cramps that would eventually lead to death." She got up with a moan. "Let me get the antidote out of my vest." She limped off to do that. She had a heating pad in her bottom desk drawer with the emergency kit for after battle care. She could use it today. Tony caught her taking the serum and shrugged. "Anti venom." He glared. "Not my doing."
"I knew that, Dawn. You're too good to poison yourself." She smiled slightly and went back to her desk. Tony looked at Natasha, who went to have herself checked. She showed it too. Clint didn't when he had himself checked at SHIELD's medical bay. So that was nice of someone who wanted Clint for themselves.
"We'll figure it out yet again," Bruce said.
"Like always," Tony agreed. "That's why we're geniuses."
Clint leaned into the office. "Sorry, ma'am. Joyce, someone poisoned Nat and Dawn lightly enough to cause all those leg cramps. I'm not showing it."
"Why are you limping?" she demanded.
"I tripped over Miss Whine's toys that Nat thought were okay to leave out. Lexi was puking her guts up and I tripped over her walker." Joyce smiled at him. "Just twisted my knee. So I'm pushing back my fitness review test for two weeks?"
"That's fine, Clint. Tripping over the baby's things is sometimes unavoidable. I tripped over Buffy plenty of times because she liked to follow me everywhere."
Clint smiled. "The girls love their walkers but Mira considers it an affront to her that we expect her to crawl sometimes." Joyce snickered, shaking her head. "Yeah, she's spoiled." He walked off. "Hill, I need two weeks on my fitness."
"I noticed the limp and they gave you dispensation," she said absently. "Mira will almost always crawl after Tsarina to pester her."
"We've noticed. That's why Tsarina's been hiding on her human." He shook his head, going down to the trainee areas. He smirked at the trainer. "I'm limping for two weeks."
"That's fine, Barton. You can encourage if you need to."
Clint looked over. "While there's idiots in advisory places that think we're too hard on you, we think you're slackers," he announced. "And if you expect to pass the next stage, you'd better be better than we expect. Xander doesn't put up with slacking and his course is difficult for full blown agents to do it in regulation time. Hell, Captain America can barely do it in regulation time." They all moaned and got back to work harder.
"I like that about Xander," the head trainer quipped with a grin. "Plus he gives us a rating of people who can probably pass it with a few extra weeks of work. Gives us a few more candidates now and then." She checked her watch. "Cool down. We have lessons in an hour." They moved to cool down and shower. Most of them wisely got something to drink and a small snack too. They were exhausted. "Their running is almost in line with our goals."
Clint nodded. "Great. Joyce and Steve are contemplating putting back in the mandatory 10K a year run."
"Oooh," she said with a wince and a hiss. "That's stamina instead of speed." He grinned and nodded. "How did Dawn do?"
"Decent time. Just twenty minutes over the olympic women." She smiled at that. "The actress got there ten minutes later but she had pushed herself all the way to dehydration and exhaustion. She ended up in the ER and Dawn ended up with leg cramps, partially from a poisoning."
"You guys lead wacky lives," she said. She followed the last trainee out. She needed to talk to them about why they were always tired and behind. They weren't going to make levels. She admitted she had some flu-like symptoms and got sent to the infirmary instead of the showers and a snack. She could snack on her way back. Which came with news. The head trainer looked at him. "I'm not sure," she admitted. "We can see if you can continue training."
"Nothing high impact," Clint said from where he was checking the machines over for times and distances for their records. He looked at her. "What did they say?"
"They weren't sure if I wouldn't have to try again."
"Okay, so let's get you with the OB SHIELD likes, or the one Dawn likes if he's not open. We'll see." He called them both. SHIELD's favorite one was closing his practice. The other one had an open space and could take her in tomorrow. Clint let her have the phone so she could make the appointment and told the trainer that. She nodded she could be excused. Clint looked at her afterward. "If you can pass the next four months of training," he said. "You'll be about in time to go on maternity leave.
"I can tell you from experience that you have nine weeks after the birth to do minimal standards, which are yours right now, and then within six months have to meet agent standards again," he told the pregnant trainee. She nodded at that. "You need to check with him about training at all. If not, we can bring you back after that. The nine weeks thing would be doable for a lot of people but not everyone. You can apply again within a year without having to go back through the application process if you left due to medical conditions. I can also tell you Xander's probably not going to be happy because you'd be sparring there daily."
She nodded. "I'll talk about it with him, Agent Barton."
"Okay. If you need help and you stay, there's been a few pregnant agents. Agent Hill is a bit prickly but Agent Romanoff was pregnant. There's been a few others. We have a parent's support group," he said with a grin. "After the battle in Sunnydale, there were ninety-three kids born from the staff of the hell carrier." She shuddered. "HR has their schedule if you need it." She nodded. "So, for now, go to class. Eat lunch. It's very important that you eat. We've all noticed you're not eating." She nodded at that. "Good. Go." She left. He made notes in her file and that he had told her she could come back due to medical conditions interfering with training routines. The head trainer would agree. He spotted the paper pusher. "I temp in down here between missions."
"She's just pregnant."
"Ma'am, in here she's got physical training, which is not good for her pregnancy," Clint said bluntly. "She's got to make it to the level of standards to pass on to the next stage, which is physical fight training, which can make her miscarry, stamina training, which can make her fall or miscarry, and lessons in things like emergency sword work, field camping, and other practical skills. It's possibly not going to be healthy for her pregnancy so we do have a rule in place that allows her to come back within a year to restart her training without going through all the board allowing her.
"We've had agents who have had to drop out due to injury who have done the same thing. They usually take the opportunity to do some extra training before they come back to make sure they make it to at least the second stage. And we've had one that had to drop there due to another injury from a fall and then came back to that stage. He's looking like a pretty good field guy at the moment." He stared at her. "We're all practical people around here. The job's hard on you but that's why we train really hard every day." He walked off. "Speaking of, I'm taking my weightlifting review so I don't have to do as much when my knee's better."
Coulson walked past him with a folder. "That good?"
"It happens to the best of us. Thankfully not to me," Phil said blandly. He walked into the classroom. "We are going to sidestep the usual lessons," he announced. "There appears to be an upcoming possible refugee moment around the holidays in Cleveland." They groaned. "We were told it was refugees incoming, not an invasion. So therefore we're going to go over emergency protocols for each situation." He smiled slightly at the trainer. "With your leave?"
"We were just going over the code of conduct because we had some ass swatting, Agent Coulson."
He nodded, looking at them. "Grow up. You're adults and they have the right to punch you if you swat them." The few people who had done it ducked down, including one female. "Good. Let's start with the upcoming problem. By then you should be in field training situations if you pass. And if you don't, it can only help you wherever you end up." He went over what you did when you landed in the middle of a mass of people that needed help. Including how and what to call in to which group. Because you told 911 that there was a refugee situation that needed ambulances and maybe ICE. You told the ambulances why they were running, about anything like radiation, and how many there were roughly that were seriously injured then let them sort it out. After a decent lunch, though a few did pig out on snack food, which got them glared at by the head trainer, he went over what you did when it wasn't refugees running and the people or demons were going to kill you and others. That was not a happy talk but necessary.
Dawn looked at her bikini choices and sighed in displeasure. She and Pepper were going on their pre-expo vacation. "Maybe a one piece," she muttered, looking at them. She hadn't been able to get rid of the jiggly thigh problem she had. Though she was more toned from all the working out. Her thighs were still large and trying to take charge of her life. The sales woman was giving her an odd look. "I have to go on vacation with my boss."
"Is she going to let you wear something that skimpy?"
Dawn nodded. "We're going to the Bahamas. I usually do. I don't think I'll look as good this year."
Pepper breezed in with a bag and Callia and Liz following her. "Why can't you make a decision?" she asked Dawn.
"Try them on, Dawn," she said impatiently. Dawn gave her a look but did that. "It's clear that Clint's been helping you shop again." She looked at Dawn when she came out. "What happened?"
"Auntie, didn't you used to have curves?" Callia asked.
"I do have curves." She looked at herself. "This suit makes me look bad." She went to try on something else. That showed her curves. And her thighs.
Callia stared. "Okay, now I see why Daddy likes girls. So I did inherit the bi-ness." Dawn gave her a dirty look. "Damn."
"I know, my thighs," Dawn complained, patting them. She tightened them.
"Huh," Pepper said. "You're worrying over jack shit, Dawn." Dawn gave her another look. "Really. Hell, we need an independent opinion." She paged through her phone book. "There you are," she said, hitting send. She put it against her ear. "Brian, Pepper Potts. Where are you?" She smiled. "I know that but Dawn needs an independent male opinion and you're close enough to the one she's used to." She smiled at Dawn. "Sure, I can do that. Give me ten minutes to get Stark." She called him. "Tony, me. Pick up Brian please. Send him to me. No, not a huge problem." She hung up and looked at Dawn. "I agree, you used to have a better waist but that one looks nice."
Dawn shook her head, going in to try on something else. She came out to find Brian Gamble grumbling but Liz was smiling at him. "Sorry, they think I'm being a bit picky."
He stared at her. He wasn't used to Dawn being anything but ball-busting and mouthy. "You used to look more curvy." Dawn sighed, going to change back into that one suit. He stared, making sure he wasn't drooling. "What would Clint say? I know he's a bit possessive."
"That my thighs are huge," Dawn said.
"No he wouldn't," Pepper sighed. "You lost ten when you only needed to lose five pounds, Dawn." She picked out her a few things with Callia's help.
"Wrong size," Dawn complained. "Went up a cup size."
"Ooh," Pepper winced. "That's bad." She got her a different style of bikini top. A few halters, a few with underwire. One that had undewire but it was one of the little triangle tops. Then a few new string bikini bottoms to go with them. Dawn looked best in that style instead of the bikini, full sided style she was trying on. "You're trying on mom bikinis."
"I am a mom." She went to try those on. She blushed when she noticed her nieces staring. "That bad?" She looked in the mirror. Still with the thighs. "I have this pad of fat right there," she said with a poke at it.
"That's called muscle," Brian said. "Damn, my half-brother's a lucky bastard." Dawn blushed brighter and went to change. Callia stole that bikini to put onto the buy pile for her. Liz drooled at the next one. Brian had to look away. "Some day you'll have those," he told Liz. "Your sister's getting there."
"Eww," Callia complained, covering her breasts. "I hate boobs."
"Yay," Pepper said with a smile. "All women have something there. And some guys." She looked at Dawn. "You're getting that one." She huffed but tried on the other styles and most got approval. Brian was sweating at a few of them so at least it was an honest opinion. Dawn still fussed about her thighs but yay. The press might try something about it but it was all muscle. She let Dawn check out and buy a few new bras too. She needed them. Pepper took her to her bra people, who made special ones for those who had tiny things. They might be able to handle an epic set that Dawn carried around.
They had ideas and it was good. Pepper even gave Brian a good beer fund for the night for helping Dawn and them shop. Though Callia asked his opinion on something and got a funny look but told it'd make her look way too old and ready to date. So that went onto the rack again. Pepper got it for her anyway. Then they went home to pack. Liz was coming with them this year. So was Callia. She got Brian sent home for a cold shower and a lot of beers. Pepper smiled at Tony when she walked past him. "Dawn overworked her thighs and they're almost bulging. Thank you."
"Uh-huh," he said, watching her and the girls. "Liz, what sort of bathing suits did you get?"
"I stuck with one-pieces for her and Callia's got something mostly tasteful," Pepper said with a grin as she came out to model one of her new ones for Tony. Who tipped his head to the side and let his mouth come open. She smiled. "You like?"
"Yup, a bit too much with the kids awake." Pepper smirked and went to change back into regular after hours clothes. She helped the girls pack for their trip and finished up the arrangements for the plane. They were taking a private one. Airlines were picky about Callia's wheelchair. She didn't want to deal with the stress.
Clint looked up from sharpening his thigh knife, smiling when Dawn came off the elevator with bags. "We do okay?"
"She called out Brian." She kissed him. "I still say I have chunky thighs."
He pulled her into his lap, moving her skirt to look at her thigh. "Dawn, this is muscle," he reminded her, pushing on it. "Not fat. You have Hulk thighs because it's all muscle." He kissed her with a smile. "And you lost too much weight. I'm about to pout at you for it."
She took another kiss. "I'll put back on the five pounds." He smiled at her for that. She took a good kiss then got up to pick out which ones she was bringing. Plus her other outfits. Her beach shorts were too small. Which sucked. She got some more of those ordered in the right size. And a few t-shirts. She came out to look at him. "Are you following us?"
"Yup, we both are." He smiled. "Just in case with the kids."
"Who's watching our kids?"
"Oooh, didn't consider that. Maybe Stark...."
"He'd be driven nuts."
"Good point. We'll talk about it later. We have sparring tonight." Dawn went to change into one of her bodysuits and shorts. Clint followed to hand her one of her usual unitards and a long t-shirt. She put it on for him and he stared. "You lost some of the ass. I'm mad about that." She swatted him but went to have a snack. He smiled. Dawn was picky about some things, especially how she looked. She'd put back on those few pounds by the time they went in two days. She usually did after a huge magic binge that made her lose weight. "Maybe we'll get Benji to babysit."
She looked at him. "You think he's up to following Philip around?"
"Maybe not," he admitted. "Philip is having an active time." He shrugged. "We'll figure it out." He kissed her again, taking her to the tower so they could go back to working out.
Tony looked at Dawn's outfit, shaking his head. "How many people saw you like that?"
"Most of the people in the tower when we came up, but we said it was sparring time," Clint said with a grin.
"Huh." Dawn pulled off the t-shirt and he stared. "Dawn, shaving?"
"Oops, forgot." She put back on the t-shirt.
"It happens to all women. Most of the world's women don't shave their armpits," Bruce said.
"I'm going to have a full wax and sugaring treatment tomorrow after work," Dawn said. They all sighed but nodded, glancing at Clint.
"What? I'll enjoy rubbing lotion into her smooth, soft skin," he quipped. Their new members came up with Steve. Tony handed them the cards for this level and explained where they worked. It didn't get them into the Stark part of the towers but would get them up here.
"And you can put a few bucks on it for after workout teas," Dawn quipped. "I do." She finished her stretching and stood up. "What's up tonight?"
Steve looked at her. "Are we going to have to see more tabloid pictures of you and Pepper in bikinis?"
She smiled at him. "The last I knew you weren't my spouse, Cap." He glared. She stared at him. "My attire is none of your business as long as Pepper and Tony don't care."
"Pepper and Tony both think you dress nicely," Tony said, backing her up. "And they always wear bikinis, Steve. Get over it. The girls have nice swimsuits that Pepper picked out. Dawn and Pepper picked out hers."
"Clint's going to do his usual hanging out in a hotel room to watch over them," Clint said. "We have no idea who's going to watch the kids."
"Beya," Tony said. "With mine." He smiled. "I'll help. That way Romanoff can get some beach time too." Clint grinned at him for that present. "She'll bring them over the night before. We've already talked about it."
"We are?" Steve asked. "I haven't heard a thing...."
Tony stared at him. "Yes, I am." Steve slumped. He looked at Dawn. "Sugaring?"
"Hurts a lot less than waxing."
"Good point." He nodded and they got down to sparring practice. They were including the new ones more and the two agents that were their backup who had shown up after a long mission overseas. That worked a lot better and Clint sparred with the agents. They were doing good tonight.
Dawn heard something and looked up. "What the fuck?" She heard a whine as alarms started to go off. "JARVIS, maximum shielding around the entire building complex," she snapped, heading up there at a teleport. Stark and the others were racing for weapons and their uniforms. She knocked the ship off center with a blast of magic then called a weapon to handle it. By then Tony was in the suit. Bucky had weapons. Steve had weapons. Clint had a few explosive arrows. Hulk had leaped from the building over to the ship to smash it. That poor plane. It crashed down and Tony flew down to check for pilots and who had created it. She looked over at Clint and Bucky. "Want us to stay up here?"
Clint nodded. "We can watch for more," he said, calling that in. He scanned around them, each taking a different viewpoint to watch. Dawn spotted a plane but it was a helicopter when Clint checked. Though it had weapons and was flying around the Gold Exchange building. He called that in to 911, who said they were trying to handle it. Tony took off flying to get them down and out while the others handled the ship there.
"Jesus," Bucky complained.
"Barnes!" Captain America snapped. "Language!"
"What? You don't yell at Dawn for calling out for her Goddess."
"Yes I do."
"And I ignore it," Dawn quipped. "This is a good time to pray for mercy for them." She spotted something and turned Clint. "There," she said with a point. He used his binoculars, frowning. "Another one?"
"Over the water. Captain, new incoming ship. West, thirty degrees." They watched and waited. It came their way and then zoomed off when it saw its mate was down. Tony fired on it and it came down in the water. That helped and the Coast Guard was waiting for that contingency since Stark had said he'd take it down over the water. Clint, Dawn, and Bucky checked for more. Nothing more. Once it was all cleaned up they met in the gym to go over what had happened and why.
Tony threw down ID's. "Air Force. Both sets." He took a drink from his water bottle. "Dawn, nice."
"Thank you." She crossed her legs, looking at the ID's. "Not SGC by the tags on them."
"No, they're from one of the DoD contractors," Tony said. "I ran them on the way back. We'll have a general here soon."
Dawn nodded. "Let me get presentable, boss." She went to change. She came out in her favorite business suit she kept in there, going down to release the protections on the building. The people were looking scared. "People," she announced and they stared at her. "There was an Air Force experimental craft that was having an engine malfunction above us. It crashed about a block behind us," she announced. "That is why we put the shields up, because we did not know what it was doing when it appeared." They calmed down. "The emergency is done with and I'm going to release the shields over the building. Please be orderly and not stampede outside." She walked over to tap in the release code, letting them out. She had to release the stores and movie theater separately. That made everyone relax and Dawn getting a cup of coffee did too. She waited, spotting the general that was huffing her way. "General, Mr. Stark would like to talk to you upstairs in the Avengers gym."
"You fired on our craft," he sneered.
"Your craft had weapons pointed on a building that had over a thousand people in it, including my nieces." She stared at him. "Of course I did and next time I'll blow it up first. That way no one else has to clean up the mess when it crashed." She pointed. "Shall we?" He sneered. "I can carry you up there," she offered, sipping her coffee. "Mr. Stark said you were incredibly rude and he wants to know why." She waved a hand.
She walked off. He huffed but had to follow because there was no way Stark was going to come down to him and Pepper would probably deck him. He had been punched by her before over something stupid. He didn't want it again. She got them up there and let into the gym. "Mr. Stark, General Hayworth." She walked over to help with the injury Cap had. "Here." She let him hold her coffee while she checked the wound and put butterflies on it. Then a bandage. "With the way you heal it should be fine later tonight." He looked at her. She stared back. "What?" She took her coffee back, looking over her niece and husband. Then her wife. They were fine.
Tony looked at the general. "What were you planning on doing? Beyond proving that the Air Force can kill a building full of people?"
"We don't like your sort working for us, Stark."
"Then it's a great thing that I don't. I don't do weapons manufacturing for the Air Force or any other part of the military any longer, General Hayworth. I probably never will." He stared at him. The general didn't want to back down. "I don't know what you were trying to prove since we haven't made weapons for eight years now. Beyond the fact that you had a lot of disdain for this city's inhabitants. Did you even consider the loss of life you'd cause?"
"They're civilians and they could've gotten out of the way if you hadn't dropped those shields."
"The shields would've kept even your supposedly advanced weapons from hurting this building or them. Your ship might've hit a few other buildings however. Which were probably also full of people." He finished his water and threw it out.
"Boss, goo clone him," Dawn said. The general glared at her.
"Tell me a lie, General," Tony demanded.
"You're good at what you do." He went to goo after a pause.
"Huh. Nice catch, Dawn."
"He had that almost garlic smell," she said. "JARVIS, did you tape that?"
"I did, Dawn."
"Please call the Joint Chiefs, JARVIS," Steve ordered. "I'd like to talk to them."
"On the screen, sirs," the AI said.
"JARVIS, please run that footage and from the ships," Tony said. He did for them to see. The head Marine let out a swear. Tony pointed at the pile of goo. "So, now that we know we have a new goo clone, we have two ships that I've had to down here in New York, and four pilots," he said, holding up their ID's to the cameras. "What are we going to do about this attempted loss of life in this city?"
The head of the Army looked at the others then at him. "Any idea where he is, Stark?"
"Haven't really looked," he admitted.
Steve hung up. "Agent Hill says she thinks he went missing on his trip to Malaysia," he told them. He stood up. "She thinks it has something to with a group over there that has dabbled in world threats in the past. She's sending me their dossiers now."
"We'll come pick up the wreckage."
"I told the civilians it was a tester and it was having an engine malfunction," Dawn said quietly. "That way they wouldn't panic about the Air Force trying to kill them."
"That's a good excuse. We can go with that," the head of the Marines, and the head Joint Chief, agreed. "Thank you, Dawn." She nodded. "We'll test the rest of our staffs and find him ourselves, Captain. It's our job since he's one of ours." He nodded at that. "Let us know what you hear please."
"I can do that. I have to be in DC tomorrow because of the suggestion board being disgusted that we're not the FBI."
"Have fun with them. They make stupid suggestions all the time," the head of the Marines said dryly. "Wanted us to have sensitivity training about handicapped soldiers. I pointed out if they were soldiers, they're still soldiers, and if they're now disabled they'd find a way to make it back to the best they could be once they had gotten over the trauma. That's the Marine way. She got offended and tried to have me brought up on charges." Dawn snickered. "You?"
"Not yet. Thankfully. So far it's been the standards are too high and older agents should be pulled from the field."
"Lord help us all," he muttered, crossing himself. "We all need it from their sort." He looked at Stark. "I did not know and if I had I would've beaten someone to death."
"That's why I'm calling."
"Who?" the head of the Army asked.
"The local Coast Guard got the sank one. The NYPD is cleaning up the other one."
"I've got people up there. I'll have them pick it up," the head of the Army said, tapping out an order to his staff. "Thank you, Mr. Stark."
"Welcome, Generals." He hung up and looked at Clint. "Are you under that?"
"Yup, and I fully expect to use Dawn's puppy eyes to beg a job as either her assistant or to train your security teams so they're not slackers."
"Done," Tony said with a snort. "No need to make your wife beg me prettily, Barton. She'd get Pepper into it and I'd never get sex again until I gave in. So I'm saving myself the trouble." Clint grinned at him. "Dawn, how bikini are you going?"
"Pepper had someone bring Brian Gamble out to help tell me I didn't look fat, even though I think my thighs look huge." Clint stared at her, then shook his head. "I do!"
"It's muscle, Dawn. Let's get you a cinnamon roll to cover some of that muscle with the cuddly stuff again." He walked her off. "Later, guys." He took her home to feed her and then prove to her that she was just as skinny as before, but she had more muscle mass.
Tony shook his head. "Why Gamble?"
"He's like Clint light," Natasha said dryly. "Or so I'd guess." She followed her spouses. She liked Dawn being a bit heavier than she presently was. It made her better to nap on top of.
"I'll talk with them tomorrow to see if they need any help tracking him down in Malaysia," Steve said, going back to the office.
Bucky shook his head. "Dames are dames, even in this day and age," he muttered. "Always worried about how they look."
"Because Dawn looking bad would look bad on Pepper," Tony told him. "Which Dawn hates to do. It'd probably also look bad on her spouses. When you have a sexy goddess like Natasha on your arm and you don't meet up to the expectations she sets then you look dumpy and not worthy."
Bucky shook his head. "I don't understand all that. Give me a woman with curves and a real body any day." He walked off to go get a drink. Tony got the others settled and went over how they could help in those sort of situations. Pepper had the kids for now. He'd have plenty of time with the kids in a few days.
Tony looked at the reporter in the other tower's coffee shop early the next day. He was making a special trip. "Need a slight favor," he said, sitting down with his coffee.
She looked up. "What sort of favor? You don't usually like us."
"Callia's going with the ladies and Liz on vacation." The reporter smiled and nodded she knew that. "Callia's just starting into puberty and she's very self conscious. There for a while she had an illusion on so we wouldn't know she needed a bra," he said quietly.
"I remember those years unfondly."
"Due to her being injured, she can't put on a ...substantial suit. It's hard for her to get one on. So she's having to wear something skimpier than she wants to and we really don't want her in a bikini yet either. But the string bottoms are easier for her to get into."
"I can understand that. Sure, we can go easy on her. I'll pass that around and remind them of when they were twelve and thirteen." She smiled. "Is she going to be able to handle the beach?"
"Yeah. She's good at all that. She's in our pool all the time to work out in it."
"That's wonderful. Any good news on her progress?"
"She's had one leg that's moved itself a few times and she's regaining the strength. They said it'd be about a year and it's only been a few months so she's on track with it. She's not sure if her PT is pushing her hard enough but she comes home and does more exercises here."
"That's probably pretty usual. She was an active kid before."
"She still is. She was looking up the paraolympics." He sipped his coffee with a smile. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Most of us were teenage girls too." He smiled and left her to pass that along. She called all the numbers in her book. "Tony Stark asked for a small favor," she said in greeting once they were on the same conference call. That got a few snorts. "Callia's hitting that puberty stuff. She's *very* self conscious." She waited while they talked. "Exactly and with the injury she can't get into anything he said was substantial. So she's in a bikini even though they'd like her in more.
"So he wanted us to please go easy on her because of that combination. Can we agree not to embarrass the poor girl over her new breasts?" She smiled. "Thanks, ladies, and Craig." She hung up and emailed the others that she hadn't reached. They'd do the same thing. Callia was an adorably mouthy, smartassed child they had seen grow up. They were all sure she was the equal of her father's brilliance. They could leave the new breasts alone for a year or so.
Callia rolled out to the beach setup their first morning in the Bahamas. The resort had a private beach. She stretched up then parked her wheelchair next to where her aunt was already laying out. "Thanks for letting me sleep in."
"Welcome," Dawn quipped with a smile. "Need help?"
"Nope, I practiced." She carefully slid down and out of her chair onto her towel, arranging herself. "There." She sighed in pleasure. Her aunt handed her the bottle of sunscreen. "I've already got some on."
"Okay." She handed her a book, getting a grin and they settled in to bake and read.
Pepper and Liz came down together, Liz bouncing along happily with her mom. "Hey, Mom, hey, Liz."
"Wow," Liz said, staring at her. "You look hot."
Callia blushed. "Thanks. Is that a Stark opinion or just yours?" she quipped back.
"Stark," she said happily. She laid out her towel and promptly flopped down to get a tan. "This is nice. I can see why you go each year, Mom."
Pepper smiled at her. "It is nice." She heard a comment and looked over the edge of her sunglasses at the wench.
Dawn looked back at her. "Excuse you, Miss Noisy? I'm worth more than you. Can you shut up about my niece now please?" She blushed and stomped off. "Thanks." She smiled and waved. She went back to her book. "Sometimes people need a clue."
Callia giggled. "Sometimes, yes." She got comfortable. One of the beach guards came over to move her chair. "Don't you dare. I need it there in case I need to get up," she said quietly.
"It's blocking the beach, Miss. We can bring it back down to you."
Dawn looked over at him. "Touch it again, watch me complain." He backed off and went to get the manager. "That's it, I need to buy another house," Dawn complained.
"No, you don't," Pepper sighed. "This resort was supposed to be so good. And handicapped friendly."
Callia looked at the man huffing their way. "Do you know who I am?"
"No," he said, apparently he got that line a lot.
"Callia Stark." The man winced. "My wheelchair stays with me. I need it here."
"We have a fully accessible pool area, Miss Stark. It even has a lift so you can get in and out of the pool easier."
"I can do that pretty well," she admitted. "I wanted the beach. I'm sorry some cow who thinks she's important didn't like me being in the chair but I don't really care. I have a huge coming out at the expo in less than ten days. I'm starting school not three days after that in a regular one instead of being home schooled. This is my aunt and my mother's only corporate vacation this year. We thought your resort was a bit nicer than some of them." She stared at him. "I don't want to be snotty but the first thing I heard this morning was a hissing hippo."
"Callia," Dawn warned.
"Fine." She looked at him. "Is there some sort of regulation that my wheelchair can't be with me on the beach?"
"No, there's not. If you want, we can bring out chairs. That would help you get in and out a bit easier."
She smiled. "I can flop around a bit. I'm working my way out of it. I don't mean to be snotty but we don't need this stress."
"I can understand that. We'll do what we can to ease that, Miss Stark. And Miss Potts and Miss Summers." Dawn grinned at him. "I'm sorry our other residents were bothering you."
"We pretty well made her embarrassed for making snotty remarks about her being in the chair," Dawn admitted. "Such prejudice is really out of this time zone."
"It is," he agreed, relaxing. "I'll have chairs brought out?"
Pepper smiled. "We don't need them really. It's okay."
"Is her wheelchair rated for the water?"
"My brother and I went over it to make sure it wouldn't short out or leak with the few systems we built into it," Callia said with a smile. "We're very environmentally conscious." He grinned and patted her on the hand then left them to bask in private. The other lady had complained that the chair was blocking her view and he pointed out she could see the great view from the other side of the beach if she wanted, and even closer, plus there was more shade for her delicate skin. They got her set up and it was nicely solved. The beach was first come, first served and most of the group was reasonable. That one was reacting due to the stress and the stupidity of the comments the other woman had made.
"Auntie, let's go play in the water," Liz said finally. Dawn stood up and made sure her bikini was adjusted well enough then took Liz out to splash around.
Pepper looked at Callia. "I'll go out after lunch." Pepper patted her and handed her the sunscreen bottle, helping where she couldn't reach.
That night at dinner, they weren't pleasantly surprised. The handicapped accessible table was about kid height. They picked a regular table with chairs instead. The waiter moved the extra chair and that worked. Callia's chair was adaptive and the lift worked nicely. Even if dinner didn't meet up to their last visit. It was food and that was good enough. The girls went back to the room to be put down. Pepper and Dawn sat out on the porch to enjoy the night air. Clint wasn't here to watch over her but that was about normal with assignments. He'd be there in two days. Natasha was stuck watching the kids. Dawn called to read them a bedtime story and they were all happy with that. Even if the person on the next balcony huffed.
Dawn looked at Pepper. "Next year, we'll try a new location."
"Hmm. I liked the one in Barbados."
"It was nice and even if Callia's on a walker, it didn't have stairs."
"True. What's our schedule when we get back?"
"We get back Friday, Sunday we're teleconferencing Brazil. The next week is the Expo and school starts for Callia. She'll be out that Friday for the show off portions." Pepper nodded. "The headmistress said she hoped it was a huge success. We have that dinner Thursday. She can wear the navy with silver dress to that." Pepper smiled and nodded. "Clint wanted me to pull out the dress of pure evil moving up me, the one from that one city event where we danced? He wanted me to pull that out. I told him it probably wasn't done but he shrugged and said who'd really care at that sort of event. It wasn't like it was a high society one. I'm considering."
"Do it," Pepper said with a smile. "You looked great in it."
"Thank you, Pep." She grinned at her. "Clint really liked me in it too. And hey, this time no broken ribs."
"You hope," Pepper teased with a grin.
"I'll kick whoever ruins my vacation. It's been a long year." She settled herself on the chair, sipping her coke and rum. She heard a noise and nodded Callia out. "Excited?"
"Spider." Pepper went in to kill it for her. She hugged her aunt. "Thank you."
"Sticking up for me. People like that suck."
"They do and they should know better. Especially around kids." She smiled. "People like that suck because they don't realize that there's others who are just as important as they are." Callia smiled. "Go back to bed, kiddo. Tomorrow's the snorkeling trip and you can do most of it." She nodded, rolling back to bed. Pepper came back. "Huge spider?"
"Yes. I had to get the hotel guy to come get it. It was on the ceiling and *huge*."
"Huh." Dawn sipped her drink and got comfy. "Tomorrow's snorkeling."
"Liz and I are going to do the beach shops for a bit while you two snorkel." They shared a grin and got comfy. It was a pretty night out.
Steve may be in Malaysia but they got gossip news from the US too. He saw the small report on the kids and Pepper. He nearly choked to death. Bucky, who was helping him, patted him on the back. "She's wearing what?" he demanded. "Hell no!"
"They didn't cover her too much, Stevie. Calm down," Bucky said impatiently. They were in a bar, it was drawing attention. He smiled at the girl he was flirting with. "His stepdaughter's on a beach. She's wearing a bikini."
"Most girls do." She teased his arm. "He'll get over it. Most parents do."
"He's a bit old fashioned." He winked and smiled. She led him off to get a drink at her table with her friends, who were also involved in the people they were here to stop. Steve was seething at the bar. He could do that. Bucky had an in with the ladies of his destruction.
Tony stared at the news that was coming in. Dawn looked great. She had put back on a few pounds but her legs looked like they were all muscle. A few mistook it for fat but the rest knew it was muscle when she moved. Callia was being covered peripherally but not totally. They didn't remark on her bathing suit choices beyond it made her burgeoning body look nice. Which it did. One reporter asked why she was in that sort of mixed message suit but Tony's response to her story told her that it was easier for her to get into and out of due to her present infirmity. She let it go after that. Even the sleazy journalists knew not to taunt a father over his little girl.
Dawn got a lot of coverage because she looked hot. Pepper looked really good too but looked a bit skinny next to Dawn. Liz was hanging on her aunt in a few of the shots, and she was helping Callia with some snorkeling lessons in another one. They caught one of all of them in the water frolicking and Tony saved that one down. He was ignoring Steve's complaining text messages about Callia's bathing suits. He'd almost wonder if he was getting anything done but this was Steve Rogers and not even his eldest daughter going out in something skimpy would keep him from his duty. He loved Steve, but now and then he could not stand the guy and some of his attitudes he pulled about the kids.
Clint finally got in. He went to the resort to crash for a few hours. It was late at night so he could get up to greet the sun and Dawn's bathing suit of torment of the day. He needed a nap. He called the kids to make sure they knew he was okay and he was 'protecting mommy'. That made them happier and Philip told him to be good and to kiss Mommy a whole lot, she needed it. She looked lonely according to the press people on tv. He fell into the sinfully soft bed with the soft smelling sheets. Lavender he noticed but he could put up with a few more days of lavender to watch Dawn frolic.
When he got up the next morning, he got room service and settled out on his porch to watch the ladies. He had a crap view but he could see enough. He sent a thought at Dawn about his view and they moved to that side of the beach today. That was nice. He had a great view of Dawn's butt since she was laying on her stomach. Callia came out to flop down next to her. She did it gracefully but it was still a flop. Pepper and Liz came out looking nice. Liz was bouncy and giggly in her bathing suit and ran right for the water, which Dawn called her back from. She pouted but stayed in the shallow surf. Pepper spread out on Callia's other side with Liz. That let Liz rest in a mostly shaded area.
The ladies were watching Liz and reading when a huge wave came in. Clint yelled and Dawn hopped up to go get her. Liz was choking and coughing. She had hit the undertow for a minute. They got her calmed down and the beach guard came over to make sure she was okay. Dawn shot back at his 'she should've had an adult' as Liz was playing in water that only came up to her ankle and she was a good swimmer. They settled in again and Liz pouted at the water. Callia looked over at her and said something quietly, which got Pepper begged. They went out into the water together. This time hip deep and she was holding Liz. The waves were still brutal and nearly washed Pepper off her feet if it wasn't for Dawn. So they went to the pool, which Clint didn't have a view of. Though he did leer because Dawn's butt was mostly uncovered. She fixed her suit on the walk. Clint finished his breakfast and went down to join them.
Pepper smiled at him. "Thanks, Clint."
"You know I like to stalk my wife so I can watch her be hot but not have to brush off guys." He settled in the chair next to Callia. "So, how's it going?"
"Snorkeling was great. I liked it a lot." She smiled. "The water in the ocean smells funny."
"It can, yeah." He handed her the sunscreen bottle, helping her do her back. She smiled and they relaxed for a bit. Liz was swimming in the shallow end while Pepper read from the side of the pool. The lifeguard was watching her since she was the only kid in the pool.
Dawn smiled. "I'm so glad you kids all got advanced swimming lessons," she said.
"Me too," Callia said. "Though, diving I didn't like."
"Some people do and some don't," Dawn said.
"Can I try that?" Liz asked.
"When we get home," Pepper said with a smile. "That's the next level of swimming classes, Liz."
"Okay. Thanks, Mommy." She kept swimming. She was really good at it. She was tops in her class and there were no nasty waves here to knock her down. She finally got tired and they came back to sit on the lounge chairs and relax.
The lifeguard came down, smiling at Pepper. "She's really good."
"Thank you. All our kids started swimming classes at four." She smiled at him. "She's finished the advanced classes and is thinking about trying diving."
"That's great. I haven't seen too many kids that put their face in the water."
Dawn smiled. "Maybe she'll do that for her sport."
Liz looked over. "Like on the 'lympics?" Dawn smiled and nodded. "Huh. I might. I'm not that fast."
"You work up to fast." She smiled at the lifeguard. "Callia's had advanced swimming and is in the pool all the time as well."
"I'll keep an eye on them," he assured them with a smile for Callia, who grinned back a flirty grin. He left them to sunbathe. He wouldn't worry about them as much. Even when the parents weren't paying attention one of them was. And the young, busty one's daughter in the wheelchair was adorable.
Tony finally answered Steve back and said that was his final word, she was his daughter, and he had said it was okay. That stopped the complaining going on. He looked at the day's news coverage of the vacation with Philip and Chris. Maeve and the girls were napping in the playpen on the other side of the couch. The boys had decided to forgo the whole huge sectional couch and lounge on his lap. Which he guessed was fine. The entertainment 'reporter' was covering Dawn's bathing suit of the day, which made Tony blink. "Damn," he said finally.
"Ditto," Chris said, eyes wide. "Wow, Auntie Dawn.... Was I breastfed, Daddy?"
"You sure were, son. You and Philip both."
Philip grinned at him. "Used to be my boobs." Tony patted him on the back with a grin. Chris hugged him for that accomplishment. He took Tony's phone from the table to send a message to his father. Tony helped him with it but that was about usual. Then the boys crawled off Tony to play with the billion legos on the couch.
Tony sent his own text about Philip's bragging. That was so cute of his godson.
Clint looked at his phone and sent it to Dawn's. Sometimes his son was so weird. It was raining hard so they were upstairs. Clint was watching the weather because it felt wrong. He decided to go up there. The guy who ran the elevator gave him a dirty look. "My wife's up there."
"If you're sure, sir. We're not supposed to let people onto that floor that aren't staying there."
"I can call the wife if you want." He pointed since she was in the other elevator. "There she went." They went down and he met up with Dawn and Callia. "The weather's looking weird."
"That's what we came down to check." She walked them over to the desk and talked to the manager on duty, who had the weather reports pulled up according to the check-in girl. He agreed that they were looking at a rather large storm system. So they decided to check out and Dawn called the plane. Before the weather got too bad. Clint headed up to pack his room. Dawn and Pepper got the kids. They went to the house in Guatemala. It was barely raining there and they were too far inland for that storm to really hit them even if it turned into a hurricane. And hey, no waves. One gator or crocodile, Dawn wasn't sure which because she spotted it and shot it, but otherwise the pond was clean, the houses had guards on staff to protect it, and they treated the kids nicely. Dawn and Clint got some alone time. Pepper finally remembered to tell Tony where they were when he panicked about the storm. It'd be okay.
Dawn walked into the Expo's formal meet, greet, and bragging event on Clint's arm. He was in a suit. She was in that same dress that was red embroidery at the bottom and slowly tapered up to gold up top over cream silk. The corset dress made her look very sexy and a few people moaned when they saw them. Callia zipped over to them, smiling in her strapless silver and blue gown. She was happy and it showed. She had found a geek for her think tank. They were in college right now and Tony liked them too. So that was great. They went to talk to him. He was sucking up to Tony for an internship. Dawn gave him the web address where they were and he smiled shyly at her. They went to talk to others.
Rhodey walked in and paused. He stared at Dawn and Callia. "Damn," he muttered. He walked down there. "Short Stuff, Super Short Stuff." Callia swatted him so he grinned. "Yet again you proved you are the glamorous offspring of a Summers woman and a Stark."
"Thank you, Uncle Rhodey." She was trying not to blush. "I'm hoping I'm not too showy."
"You're not. Whoever says you are is an idiot." He stared at her. "Did someone nag you?"
"Stepmom thinks I show too much."
"Clearly, he needs to look at fashion magazines." He walked off with her talking about what they were putting out tomorrow at the formal Stark event. Which was great and splendid thanks to Tony. They had a whole pavilion for their stuff this year. Tony had shields up around the event because it was raining out there. In here, it was pretty darn nice. The few places where they had artistically let in rain were over fountains to make them prettier and over some of the trimmed bushes on display.
Dawn talked to a few businesses she invested in. They were very happy with her investment money and would love more. Dawn teased one that she had met during the last expo. He had a lot of happy things to show off and she helped him prepare for it. Dawn also made sure the expo food carts had real scientist food instead of just tourist food. They had learned from the last time. They had a lot of decent coffee.
Tony let the expo tape play for their tinkering board's introduction.
"We have to make a tape to introduce our tinkering board," Tony on the tape announced. Everyone was looking at the stuff highlighted on the table. The crowd couldn't see what it was.
"Why don't we just show up and be ourselves?" Chris asked.
"Because they expect Starks to have some sort of show," Tony and Callia said.
"Oh, that reason. Sometimes Starks can be subtle and sneaky."
"True, I snuck up on your mom for years," Tony said with a smile for his son. Callia snorted, shaking her head. "I did."
"You did. I don't think the tinkering board needs something flashy like your usual one, Dad. It's not like Justin Hammer's going to be there to try to prove he has a bigger dick than you, which he doesn't."
"Callia!" Bruce complained. The crowd was laughing a bit.
"How do you know that?" Rodney asked her.
"When he showed up to tell me that no scientist in a wheelchair was listened to he had on tight designer pants. Clearly, not worthy of a Stark by what I've seen when Dad's in swim trunks out in the pool." Tony swatted her. "Hey, I've got the Stark gene and I've just discovered boys. Of course I look! It's normal!"
"It is," Tony agreed. "Stare at someone else."
"I creeped myself out by making a mental comparison anyway," she complained. The crowd giggled at that too. "Beyond that, not like the tinkering board needs to prove we're bigger than someone like Hammer. We have some of the greatest brains in the US in it. And Chris."
"Hey!" he complained, swatting his sister.
"Some day you'll prove what sort of brains you have," she said with a mean smirk. "Then you won't have to drain your college trust for Red Bull."
He snorted. "You do." She rolled her eyes on the screen. "Dad, why do we have to put up an introduction tape?"
"Because they expect it of a Stark," he said. "It's our expo and we're always the first there with the flash and the best toys."
"Can we put up toys this year?"
"The whole toy division is in the tent, son."
"Cool!" He grinned at his uncles. "Grandpa, are you putting in your toy?"
"No, not really. It's a sample collection minibot, not a toy, Chris."
"It is so. It likes to go pluck samples from Liz all the time."
"I wondered where it had went to," Bruce said, shooting Chris a tolerant look and a slight smirk. "Quit picking on your sisters."
"They're Starks, they can handle it."
"Uh-huh," Callia said. "Remember, we're Starks so we can build something bigger and better to pick back for us," she said with a sweet smile.
"Good point but that means I get to build even bigger and better to defend me and pick back at you," Chris crowed with a grin.
"No using robots to retaliate at each other," Tony said dryly. "I've already seen those and I was not amused when they spilled the scotch on the rug." The kids huffed but got back to work. "Seriously, guys, how are we going to introduce ourselves?"
"We'll use this tape," Callia said with a shrug and a smile, looking at the camera. "Hi, Expo." Chris smiled and waved too.
Tony walked out as the tape stopped. "My tinkering buddies," he said with a grin. "Slightly like family, slightly insane.... and then there's the kids." The crowd laughed. "We have a lot of things to show you today." He clapped his hands. He was in jeans and a Metallica t-shirt. For the regular Stark one he had been in a crisply pressed designer suit and tie. His hair was all fixed. For this, he was just Tony Stark, genius.
"Let me introduce you to my tinkering friends. This is Dr. Bruce Banner, Dr. Rodney McKay, myself, of course, my daughter Callia, my son Chris, who has just this year started to join in. These are Andrew and Jonathan, who are my original proteges." He smirked at the crowd. "I used them to figure out how to teach my spawn." The crowd laughed. "And the newest member of our tinkering board, Dr. Charles Epps. We needed someone who loved math since we all need it sometimes." They ranged out in their assigned spots. "So, let's get started." He clapped his hands. "Bruce?"
"Let's start with something simple. We all have seen the rover on Mars." He held up his and the cameras zoomed in on it for the screens since it was barely visible. "This is a micro collection unit. Useful in hazardous situations. It's fireproof, bomb proof up to a certain level, has three methods of collection, and six separate containment storage areas. I can send this into a disaster zone, I can send this into a bomb blast area. I can send this into a nuclear waste facility that's leaking or like the generator in Japan that kept leaking until they could shut it down. It can give you live-time updates on radiation, temperature, humidity, and has an air and water cannon if you want to put on the attachment in case you need it." He put it onto the table and let it roll around.
"And the cannon can blow bubbles," Chris said. "That's how we tested it." He grinned. The crowd smiled at him.
"We can even use the enhanced bubble solution to put up durable bubbles around a sample," Callia agreed. Bruce smiled at her. "It's not strong enough for more than a few minutes but it'll give the bot there a bit of time to work on digging for a sample if it has to." The crowd clapped.
Tony went over a few of his then it was Rodney and Charlie's turn. They stepped up and Charles smiled. "Forgive me if I ramble a bit. I'm only used to teaching lectures, not showing off." He pulled up a virtual screen, which was on the cameras. "This... Is a really pretty formula Callia came up with. She came up with the idea to bridge energy sources."
"For our use, the SGC is using it to provide a different type of gateway using the Stargate," Rodney said. That got some talking. Charlie went over the math while Rodney got the physics of it. That was getting a lot of talking.
Tony smiled. "That's why we brought in Dr. Epps. Callia's only learning that level of math. Rodney was busy drooling on it, and I was busy hugging my daughter for thinking it up." The crowd clapped. "Now, for the kids. Chris? Did you have something?"
He stepped forward and bowed. "Hi, I'm Chris Stark." He grinned and waved. "Right now I'm working on the goat powered engine. Way back when Sean was a little kid about Maeve's age or so, his mom had twin sisters so we brought Sean up with us. Sean's Sissy's brother by her mom." They smiled at him for that. "Sean was a bit upset so Dad and Callia taught him about engines one day. Sean, whose Daddy was from Asgard like Uncle Thor, decided it should be goat powered like Uncle Thor's chariot. We love his goats of war." He smirked as the antique car was rolled out. "Way back when, when my dad was less than my age, Grandpa Stark put up a flying car. It didn't work real well," he said dryly. "So I thought that'd be a neat thing to do. I fixed it. It works much better now."
He let the cameras see inside at the odometer. "When I put one of our goat powered engines on it, Dad was testing the engines using a Ford on the race track by Malibu. I snuck a spare out and put it on here. Back then it had about fifty miles. Fifty-three if I read my notes right. Notice that it's got over two hundred now, all from floating." He got in and turned it on, then flipped the switch. The car floated and he got out with a grin. "I'm not going to make the tires turn for aerodynamic purposes. If it had to land suddenly that'd hurt it. I have it set so it'll only float ten inches above the ground. That's a nice safe distance, no need for air traffic controllers to panic like they did the day I got it up to about five hundred feet off the ground." A few laughed at that. He showed the testing video. "Our tester engines in the Ford can go 180 miles an hour for four hours that we've tested. We haven't wanted to push it."
"Our last test was an endurance test and it went 92 hours before it needed a recharge," Tony said, putting that up. That got a lot of applause. He smiled. "I tested the Ford against Dawn's Tesla as a comparison. I like theirs, it's cute." He grinned.
"Dad!" Chris complained, giving him a light shove on the hip. "My turn." He grinned. "On mine, I wanted to see if I could go faster. I got it up to 94 and then I got scared because old cars like this one weren't built for flying speed. I need to put wings on it but I haven't been able to recently. I know that my flying car goes just as long and as hard as Dad's tester does. So we're announcing in a year or so we're putting out the new goat powered engine for use in regular cars and if you want to talk about the flying cars, we can do that too." They clapped and a few whistled. Chris bowed. "Sissy, your turn."
Callia rolled out. "Hey." She smiled and waved. "My first time up here and I'm going to do something stupid." That got a few smiles. "I started the work that got Dr. Epps and Uncle Rodney so happy because of my injury. To be honest there have been a few days when we weren't sure I'd make it out of this chair and I didn't want that. There's too much I can't do it in it. Including work on cars with Dad and Chris." A few smiled at her. "So I was looking at a method of hopefully bridging smaller energy connections. The tinkering group went in both directions. Grandpa Bruce and I looked at micro applications while the others looked at macro ones. And I really do love the baby Rainbow Bridge/Stargate thing that they created."
She smiled. "It's cute and it's bright blue with purple flecks here and there on the pathway. It also tickles you as you walk across it." She rolled back to a table. "While I was working, I took in the family practice of tinkering with stuff." Everyone was staring at her. She held the small box in her hand. "This is a prototype. As in I finally built it last week after staring at the plans for over a month. I've tested it once." She waved and her neurologist came out. She handed it to him. "It goes on the spots on my back. I tested it last night," she said, lifting up the back of her shirt to show she had on a body suit underneath.
"Are you sure?"
"I am." He nodded and swabbed the area. "Last night, well, let's go back farther. At this time, I can almost sometimes move a leg. We all know why I'm in the chair, hopefully temporarily, but I can move this far," she said, moving one of her legs. She tried to move the others and it almost twitched, which got a few 'awws' from the crowd. "With this new prototype....." She hissed as it connected. "Switch on the side please," she said quietly. He flipped it on and she yelped and stiffened then breathed through it. She gripped the chair arms and stood up, taking a few shaky steps away from the chair. Her doctor was staring, mouth open, hands limp like they wanted to catch her.
She caught her breath once she was a few feet away from the chair. "I can do this." They burst out in loud applause. Tony moved closer. "I'm okay, Dad. For now." She looked at them. "I won't lie and say it's a perfect prototype. It enhances all nerve signals, including pain. Last night, the first time I tried it, I managed five minutes before my legs gave out. I'm hoping that by the end of the month I'll be up to half an hour in case of emergencies that require me to, say, get out of the car if we're forced off the road by the press again." She looked around. "It's not perfect. I'm also announcing that my doctor." She smiled and waved at him, then squealed as her legs gave out. Her father caught her. "Thanks, Dad."
"Always happy to help." He cuddled her and flipped the thing off. "Let me get the chair."
"I got it," Chris said and whistled. The chair rolled over.
Tony looked at him. "When did you put that on?"
"Sometimes she's not near it and needs it, like when she's on the lab stool working on something. That way she doesn't have to roll back to get it. She can just whistle." He grinned. "I also put in a lift kit because a lot of tables are too high and Sissy put in a stair climber just in case we have to go down them during a fire or something."
"That's really handy," the neurologist said, coming over to help. "That was foolish," he said.
"It was necessary. I have to build up an immunity," she said, cracking some of the audience up. She got settled and used a cloth Rodney handed her to wipe her face off. "Sorry about that. Thought I had a bit longer." She looked at them. "My doctor is going to have the prototype. It is on the way to being patented. I submitted the paperwork with the Stark patent guy this morning. I'm really careful about that after someone hacked me a while back. But, I am allowing him and others to have plans to build from so they can research and one of us, whoever he works with or myself or someone, can build something better.
"Something that doesn't cause the same level of pain. Or that you don't have to build such a tolerance up to. I know I'm not the only one who's going to helped by it and I'm not keeping this one to myself." She looked at Rodney and he shrugged. She summoned out the cube. "Or this." She smiled as she held it up. "I have no idea why my little power cube rotates like I'm in the southern hemisphere but it does. It's a smaller test power cube. Right now it'll power a kitchen for about a year." She smiled at them. "I have a lot of wacky ideas. It's what makes me a Stark."
Someone in the audience hopped up. It wasn't usually allowed but no one stopped him. "You're letting people have the plans for that nerve bridge?"
"Yes, I am. I heartily encourage other researchers to look at it, improve on my design, because I know I still have stuff to learn, especially about human bodies. Hell, I'm still learning about my human body." She smiled. "So yes, I'll let legitimate researchers look it over to see if they can improve on it. I don't want to keep something that can help others in a closet somewhere. We Starks aren't like that from what I was taught." She smiled. "So my neurologist, who is a fantastic guy and great with my injury when it happened, he can hand it to researchers he trusts.
"I don't want anyone to be stuck in a chair. I don't want anyone like that guy who played Superman and one of my new classmates stuck in a chair because they broke their necks. We Starks don't hold stuff back that could help people. That's why when I'm older I'll be starting a think tank to take all my weird ideas and turn them into things to benefit more people. That way things like my little glowing, tornado in a cube here can benefit others. That nerve bridge could bring a ton of benefit to people. I don't need the money from it. I have money. I've already sold a few inventions so I'm independent from Dad. That way I'm a Stark, not the Stark heir like he was when he was our age." She grinned. "They'll take it and do good things. Though I do hope no one takes it to make the Terminator. I hated that movie." She looked at her father, tossing him the cube.
He put it onto the table near Bruce's robot, which tried to take samples from it. It got burned for it too but it kept digging into the cube until Tony moved the cube away. Bruce turned his robot off. "I agree. If we make something that has implications for great benefit to humanity, then we're all for having people look at it, evolve it with us, all that. They can patent any huge changes they create." The crowd gave them a standing ovation. He looked at his daughter. "You deserve ice cream."
"I deserve eclairs, Dad." That got a few laughs. "And maybe a Red Bull?"
"They're still banned and I stole all of Chris's stash to hide."
"Shoot." She looked at her doctor. "Tell me how it goes?"
"Gladly." He hugged her. "You need to clean those spots."
"That was really dumb."
"I know. Sometimes science demands though. That's why we're Starks. Science is our goddess and she's a picky, finicky bitch sometimes who demands total slavery of our lives." The crowd laughed and she rolled off with him. He did clean the spike connecting areas for her with some alcohol pads but she hugged him. "Let me know."
"I will. Thank you, Callia."
"It causes a lot of pain," she warned.
"We can work on that." He left to call together some of his people so they could go over the tape of the demonstration and the device. Inside the box were plans.
Tony smiled. "I'll close this down on that triumph. Let me go get the kids treats." He walked off and the others followed. They let the closing music play and the curtains came down. He hugged Chris. "I want to try the flying car," he said and realized his microphone was still on. He turned it off and handed it to Bruce, hugging Callia. "Damn, you are my spawn." She laughed and hugged him back. "I'm super proud and you're still being spanked for trying that on yourself." She shrugged and cuddled. "C'mon, I saw the Dippin' Dots cart."
"Can we have real ice cream, Dad?" Chris asked. "Please?"
"Sure, sundaes it is. Your mom won't mind. Much." They laughed and the whole group went to have sundaes, which Dawn set out ingredients for in the Stark pavilion. After hearty, gooey, decadent sundaes, they settled in the back area to talk about things and how it had went. Pepper came rushing in and hugged Callia hard enough to pick her up. Tony grinned. Chris climbed Pepper to get his own and she hugged him between them. "They were good, Pepper."
She pulled back to look at Callia. "Don't ever test stuff on yourself again!" Callia just cuddled some more. Chris hopped down and climbed into Rodney's lap to talk to him about flying stuff. He pulled out his phone so he could talk to John Sheppard.
Pepper put Callia back down, wiping off her cheeks then her daughter's. "I'm damn impressed with both of you." Chris grinned and waved. "Chris, no flying the car without adult supervision please. Daughter, no more testing on yourself." She went out to help with the expo details going on.
Dawn slid in to hug Chris and hand him a gift bag. He cooed at what was inside. She winked at Tony and handed Callia hers. "For your first expo experience. Though you've got an extra one for that from Natasha. She said she hated the Terminator movies too so she'd make sure they didn't create one." She strolled off to get their geeks lunch and coffee. Including the head geek and his kids.
Chris looked in his. "Wow, a how to fly book." He hung up on John laughing to flip through it. "Dad, do we have a simulator?"
"Somewhere. Or we'll borrow the SGC's version and make our own."
"Great." He showed him the book but kept the three really excellent candy bars to himself.
Callia looked in hers. One had a giftwrapped tiny box. There were five excellent candy bars in hers and a book of 3D diagrams she liked. She settled in to look at them then got curious and unwrapped the present. "Aww, Auntie Natasha got me a pendant." She held it up. It was a blood ruby and diamond pendant on a platinum chain. "Wow." She carefully put it on and smiled. "Cool." She went back to her book.
Tony grinned at Bruce, who smirked back. The kids had done great things. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that they were Starks. True Starks, all Stark, heirs to the great throne of Starks. Hell, even Howard wouldn't be able to doubt that.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Any original characters or plot are the property of the author. No claims are being made as to the actions or orientation of the actual actors, and none of this is meant to say anything about them. No copyright infringement is intended. No money is being made from this work.