Misplaced To Just The Right Spot.
"I did not do that," Loki's voice announced suddenly through the air.
Xander looked up then at his mate Phil. "I think the rule is whoever smelt it dealt it, right?"
"For farts. I doubt that was your father's problem," Phil said dryly. "What didn't you do, Loki?" he called.
Loki appeared, his hair messed up. "Someone in another realm saw fit to send one of their annoyances here to bother me," he complained.
Xander stared at his father. "Okay," he said dryly. "What annoyance, is it a real problem, or is it something simple we can handle? This is the second realm breach in a few weeks."
"She's annoying but I'm not sure about the other categories beyond the fact that she carries an Asgardian weapon." He left and came back with the struggling young woman. "Behave, wench!"
"Get your hands off me," she snarled. "Before I ruin you for life."
Phil looked at his mate then at her, clearing his throat. "For right now, Loki isn't trying to harm you, miss."
She stared. "Coulson?" He nodded. "Why are you hanging out with the guy who killed you?"
"Ah!" Xander said, nodding and holding up a finger. "In this realm, it was another version of Loki that did that, not ours. That one's actually my dad. Dad, please let the young woman go."
"Fine." He let her go with a small shove. "I have no idea who sent her over."
"We can figure that out," Xander said. "If we have to, we can ask the convention buddies or something." Loki shuddered but left it in their hands. "Hi. Xander Harris, God Protector of Humanity. You are...?"
"Darcy Lewis. I'm Jane Foster's assistant."
"Okay, we know about Jane," Xander said with a smile. She relaxed. "She broke up with my uncle Thor because she didn't want to be immortal. So now Thor's married to a female warrior that's kinda related to an adopted member of the family." She sighed, but nodded. "For now, let's see what we can do about maybe getting you home the easy way." He had his father take him to where she had appeared, testing the portal. "It's closed from that side but not too firmly, but I feel almost no magic on that side." He grimaced. "Huh." Phil appeared. "I can't feel you but I can feel Steve and them."
"I can send a message." He set up the scrying portal and waved. "People." They all stared at him. "I'm not your Coulson, I'm from this realm. We just had someone shoved over. We'll make sure Miss Lewis will be safe until we can get her home."
"Where are you?" Steve demanded.
"Right now, we're in Queens," Xander said with a slight shrug. "The portal's closed on your side and you're low magic. It'll take us at least a few weeks to get it open. We'll make sure she's safe."
"She is like my sister," Thor warned.
Xander let his aura out, staring at him. "Relax, Uncle. I am not the Asgardian to fuck with when things hit the fan. That's why I'm the Protector of Humanity." Thor's mouth flopped open. He smiled. "It freaks out Dad too, but his new husband is very happy to help him calm down about it."
"Ares does enjoy you doing your job," Phil agreed patiently, looking at the staring heros. "I'll talk to our Stark here to make sure she's well protected. Is she a lab person?"
"No, she's a nagging, feeding, assistant sort," Stark said. "She's the one that makes sure Jane goes home now and then."
"We have Dawn for that," Phil said. "I'll see if she can help her find something to do. For right now, let us figure this out. We may be able to get it open sooner but whoever did it was clearly upset that she was over there. Find out and let us know?" He handed over an enchanted business card. "That will reach my cellphone," he told them. "I'll let you know when we can get her home." He closed the portal, looking at his mate.
Xander shrugged. "Dawn could use the help. She's still pregnant."
"Good point." They went back to the temple to talk to this young woman. She was spunky. She was sassy. She was like a version of Dawn. They could handle that. Phil took her to Stark's Malibu facility since they were all out there right now. "Stark?" Dawn blinked up at him. "The trio?"
"One's at SHIELD being a jackass again today. The other two are with the kids in the gym because Chris ran into a wall again. They'll be back in a few minutes." She yawned. "What's the huge problem? I can feel strange magic."
"This is Miss Lewis, Jane Foster's assistant in her realm. Not a lab assistant but a personal assistant."
"It's one of the best jobs," Dawn chirped with a grin for her. "Welcome to our realm, Miss Lewis. I'm Dawn Summers-Romanoff-Barton, Pepper and Stark's personal assistant." She stood up to shake her hand.
"Wow, you're pregnant."
"Some Asgardian goddesses decided I needed to carry triplets. Unfortunately Captain Spangly Ass told me I was fat this morning. I nearly killed him for it." Dawn got a hug and moaned. "Oh, good, you know how to handle things." She smiled at her. "Can you keep a schedule?"
"Yeah. I'm the one that makes sure Jane eats, sleeps, showers, all that stuff. And sometimes Bruce and Stark in my world."
"Great! I need an assistant!" Dawn hugged Phil with a squeal. "I adore you! I've needed an assistant for the last two years!"
"If Stark doesn't mind, can you handle that until we can get her home?"
"Of course. Let me find them." She looked up. "Hey, JARVIS?"
"Yes, Dawn, they're on their way back and I have shared this talk with them. You should be sitting, young lady. The children are putting enormous strain on your body."
"I'm only four months along, JARVIS," she said dryly. "Give me another few months to tell me to sit down."
"I'm sure I shall," the AI said.
Stark came off the elevator with Pepper. "I agree, sit down, Dawn." She huffed but sat down. Tony smiled. "Hi. Tony Stark."
"I know. I nag the one in my realm plenty to get ungreasy and eat." She shook his hand with a grin. "Darcy Lewis, scientist wrangler."
"I claimed dibs," Dawn said. "I need an assistant, she can help me with the fussing and stuff."
"She can," Pepper agreed, smiling and shaking her hand. "We'll get you set up today, dear. Phil, how long before they can get her home? Could we have her through the rest of Dawn's pregnancy and maybe maternity leave?" Dawn sniffled. "That way you don't have to try to work from home, Dawn. You were exhausted with the daughter."
"Point," she muttered. "But most of that was the fight and the problems from the delivery."
"How many kids do you have?" Darcy asked. Dawn held up a photo. "Wow."
"That's Shamira, Natasha's daughter. We had a fun night after a Stark halloween party where we went as fantasy women." She smiled. "I was a fantasy warrior woman and Clint growled a lot. That's why I had Lexi. Though our son Philip came the normal way, he was on assignment too long."
Stark walked off shaking his head. "Sure beats having Loki tell you that goddesses decided they wanted you to have a few more," he quipped. "Lead her to learn your fussing routines, Dawn. That way she can do it when you can't walk."
"I can still walk. I haven't even gone back to the ballet slippers yet." She looked at Pepper and Phil. "Have we ever figured out which ones it was?"
"They're hiding from everyone. Ares thinks someone will take this time to attack us because you're one of our stronger witches and you're out of battles until after you've recovered from the delivery."
"Could be but you know I'll help where I can."
Phil stared at her. "No. Don't make me tell Natasha."
"We all agreed if I had to I could still fight, Phil. Just like when I was pregnant with Philip and ended up being kidnaped by half of everyone. Including SHIELD."
"We're making sure to keep that down this time, Dawn." He patted her on the head before disappearing.
"He is *such* a big brother," Dawn complained, making Darcy grin. "C'mon, we can do the paperwork in Pepper's office." They went in there to deal with them and Dawn got her instated as an employee. Pepper asked her about what was going on at home so they could make plans in case something like that happened here. She was sniffling over JARVIS being changed to a living being. Dawn led her down to the guest rooms to help her set up in one, then led her to meet the most important of the geeks: the Stark kids and Jonathan and Andrew.
Jonathan saw her walking in. "You should be sitting!" he said. "I made Patty sit all the time while she was pregnant. Clint really has to make you sit more often."
"I sit on him just fine, Jonho." She smirked and patted him on the arm while Andrew sighed but shook his head. "He enjoys it too. This is Darcy. She was doing the same fussing job in her realm before someone got mad and sent her here. So I finally have a helper." She grinned.
"Hi," Andrew said, looking up at her. "Are you evil?"
"Only if you're mean, then I have a tazer."
He smiled. "We have a roomba army." He picked one up. "This is Darcy, Dawn's assistant." The roomba sensed her then beeped. The rest of the hiding roombas beeped with that program update. "They're safe for you now unless they catch you being evil."
"I'm only evil on tequila, guys. It's all right." She smiled. "I'm used to making sure Jane ate and all that."
"A lot of Dawn's job is that," Jonathan quipped with a grin for Dawn. "You should still be sitting. I'm going to tell Clint."
"I'm only four months along, dear. Don't make me have a mood swing." Both guys stepped back with innocent, good boy smiles on their faces. "I'm going to introduce her to the Stark kids. Any idea?"
"Calia's at the college, the others are in the music room. Their dad demanded after the infirmary trip."
"We can handle that. Can you guys put around about Darcy so I don't have to hit everywhere today? Shield design is doing things with chemicals and fissionables. Plus whatever Stepdad's doing in his lab that he says I can't come near."
"We can do that," Andrew assured her. "Go get candy?"
"I don't need to gain more weight, guys. Have you eaten?"
"Patty and MB made sure," Andrew said. "You know how they are." Dawn smiled and kissed them both on the cheek then walked off with Darcy. The two friends looked at each other. "I'll start with Brucie?"
"I'll start with Shield design." They went to tell the other labs about things. The roombas went to the other labs and passed messages over the wifi system to let everyone know Dawn had an assistant again.
Darcy looked up as someone shouted. "You were doing *WHAT* in my building!"
"Ooh, that's a mad Stark," Darcy said, looking at Dawn.
Dawn was staring that way. "That's shield design. Hey, Pep, Tony's yelling at shield design."
"I heard," she called back. "They were using nuclear things with the son out there learning from them. He's a bit pissed off."
"We can go make brownies," Dawn said, looking at Darcy.
"I'm actually an excellent baker," she said with a smile.
"Wonderful!" They went to the commissary to work on that, and things for the people that were going to have to hide for a bit. The cooks helped them between serving lunches.
Darcy smiled when three kids ran in to hide inside the walk in freezer. "Hi, guys. It's all right. We can protect you."
"Na-uh," the youngest one said. "Daddy's mad! He's going to turn green!"
Dawn looked in there. "Grandpa Bruce is in his lab. Your dad can't turn green. Oh, this is Darcy. She's my assistant and she can fuss over things too. Darcy, this is Liz, Chris, and Maeve, the youngest three Starks. They have an older sister Calia. She's taking college classes through her normal school."
"Hi, guys." Darcy smiled. "We're making brownies."
Chris came out to stare at her. "You can bake?" he asked, looking awed.
"I sure can. I do a lot of it. Do you like brownies?"
He grinned. "I sure as shit do." Dawn swatted him. "Ow, Auntie Dawn! That's mean! I have booboos."
"Then shouldn't you have a cast on them?" she asked, staring down at him. He hugged her stomach then ran off. "I'm telling Doc and Grandma if you don't put the cast back on, Christopher Darren Oliver Stark!"
"Yes, Auntie Dawn," he complained. "It was heavy and in the way!"
"I don't give a damn! Go put it back on!"
Dawn smiled at the girls. "Out of the freezer. You're letting all the cold out and it'll ruin the food." They trooped out. Dawn got them cleaned up and helping. When Chris clomped back in she made him learn how to mix things too. "Cooking is like chemistry with fire, guys. Learn the important things so you don't starve when you're too big to fuss over." They sighed but got into it with them.
Tony stomped in and paused, staring at them. "Wow, Chris, you kept on the cast?"
"I vowed he was going to put it back on or I was telling Grandma," Dawn chirped with a smile for him. "It's held tight by duct tape. They're learning how cooking is like chemistry with fire."
"It can be, yes." One of the guards rushed in with a measurement stick device then walked him off. "I'm fine!"
"You're radiated, Mr. Stark. We can't have you down so let's get you in the decontam shower before we have to watch Dawn stomp on someone."
"Don't tempt me," Dawn called with a wave. The guard made a whining noise but Tony went to his special shower without complaint. Dawn grinned at Darcy. "Help out at a few battles and you just scare everyone." They got back to it while Darcy tried not to smile.
Clint strolled in, leaning over the counter to kiss Dawn. "No going near radiation, Dawn. My future heathens shouldn't glow." He smiled at the others. "Hi, I'm Clint."
"I know. You and I have had many prank wars on my realm." She waved a hand. "I'd shake but I'd have to change gloves."
"That's fine. I heard but that's cool." He looked at his wife then at her. "After this, can you do the rounds for her?"
"I'm fine, Clint," Dawn said firmly.
"Yes, you are," he said, leering at her. "Especially in those heels." He winked. "Sit down and I'll be a good boy while making sure she's not bothered by the daycare or anything, Dawn. Then I'll baby you later."
"I can do rounds with her."
"Natasha needs to scare a few that got offers from other countries. I've got your ballet slippers in the car too. If you put them on for today, I won't nag or tell the son and daughters to nag." She rolled her eyes but nodded, grimacing at him. "Thanks, short stuff." He took another kiss then went to get them for her.
Dawn looked at Darcy. "He's a bit fussy."
"I think husbands should be sometimes. Until you can tie them down to nag them about it."
Dawn grinned. "He hates to be tied down but I can try that later." The kids all groaned. "He hates being tickled, guys." They pounced Clint when he came back to tickle him, making him shriek and try to get away from them. It wasn't going to work because they were stubborn, focused mini Starks. He finally ran off with the kids chasing him. Pepper would have to save him. Dawn smirked at Darcy. "He'll nag later." Darcy laughed but nodded. Natasha strolled in and stared at them. "Clint's playing with the kids."
"He told me," she said blandly, staring at the young woman. "Change shoes, Dawn. We'd appreciate you being able to stand later, unlike the last few days." Dawn huffed but washed her hands off so she could sit down to change out her shoes, then she washed her hands again and got back to cooking. "Thank you. Pleasure to meet you, Darcy."
Darcy dug out a picture to show her. "I already knew you were scary as fuck and you like to sneak into places to make people wake up to you staring at them. It's creepy but effective."
Natasha smiled and tipped her head slightly. "I did like that but most of the ones I'd do that to now are married. Their spouses don't deserve such treatment all the time." She strolled off with the heels.
Dawn looked at the picture then at her. "She needs to gain ten pounds."
"I've tried. How did you get yours to gain it?"
"Pregnancy. She had Mira. Clint was very appreciative of her new curves."
"I'm told motherhood does that to all of us when we have kids."
"Yup. Clint said the ass fairy visited me a few times."
Darcy looked then nodded. "Clearly a good booty any pirate should want." Dawn grinned and bopped her on the arm, handing her the bowl of chocolate chips.
"Don't give Stark any ideas for the halloween party," one of the geeks in the dining room complained. "We're still trying to recover from the fantasy wenches that got Dawn and Pepper knocked up."
Dawn smirked at him. "Guys, this is Darcy. She's my mini me and my assistant. So she can remind you to eat too." Darcy waved. The geeks all smiled and came over to talk to her. It would be okay.
Clint leaned in, staring at his wife. "That was mean, Dawn."
She smirked. "Just wait until we get home, dear." She blew a kiss. He groaned, walking off shaking his head. Of course, Chris pounced him up the hallway. He was the sneaky Stark. She laughed at Clint's yelp. "Aw, the kids love him." She smiled at Darcy. "We had problems with the daycare people at one point so Clint got to fill in for a few weeks. They all adored him. They listened to him and they still all like him to lead them places for field trips. Or just outside so they can run and squeal in the open lots."
"He can be sometimes." The kids ran back in so they cut off brownies for them to nibble on. "Go sit and drink some milk with it, guys." They made begging faces at the regular workers, getting their glasses of milk put down at a table for them. Dawn smiled and finished up her treat, making some plates up for the ones who'd need it. She carried them out on a tray, with Darcy holding the other one. They went to the various labs to feed people and take reports, make coffee, do the forms to refill coffee funds or soda machines, and a few damage reports. Plus one getting the medical team down to handle the lab that had apparently had a small explosion they hadn't noticed. By the time they got to the main three geek labs, they were down to a tray of reports, three plates of brownies, and one lab was empty anyway. Dawn smiled, walking into one lab.
"Dawn, it's dangerous," Bruce complained. "Your mother will kill me."
"I'm fine, Stepdad. This is Darcy. Someone mean in her realm threw her this way so she's my fussing assistant. Darcy, I'm sure you've met Bruce."
"Yup. I'm a champion tea maker for him sometimes and I bring him banana nut bread a lot." She smiled. "Brownies, Doc? Dawn and I made them."
He stared at her. "Which one of us do you work for at home?"
"Jane Foster." She grinned. "I do her personal assistant stuff."
"Great." He took a plate with brownies. "Thank you, ladies. Dawn, I already handed Stark my progress reports."
"Cool. See you tomorrow, Stepdad." She kissed him on the head. "Clint's hiding from the horde." They left and went to Stark's lab. He was in there ranting at Liz. She stared over the top of Liz's head, noticing she was bleeding. "Do I need to remind you what the infirmary is?"
"No," she pouted. "Chris got me, Auntie Dawn. He was mean."
"I'm sorry he was mean, Liz." She hugged her. "Here, share your dad's brownies. He hasn't eaten today and it's up to you to make sure he eats dinner." Liz smirked meanly at her and nodded, then smirked at her father.
He ate a brownie. "We were talking about her going to get things treated. Just like we did with you, Dawn."
Dawn blew a kiss. "I always handle things. You know that. We're going to ruin Pep's diet."
"I'm sure she'll appreciate that." He let Liz have a bite. "Go let Doc see those then come back to help me until dinner. We'll let you help Steve cook."
"Stepmom makes weird things like casseroles and fish stuff," she complained. "Can't we have normal food like bacon burgers?"
"We'll talk him into it."
"Thanks, Daddy." She hugged him before running off. "Let me go get the owies taken care of."
"Thank you," Tony called. He looked at Darcy. "She's not technically mine; Pepper went to the genius sperm bank."
"She's sweet, Stark. Seems able to put up with all this and still be a good little girl."
"She tries so hard sometimes," Dawn quipped. "Calia's really the mini Stark genius. Chris is following them. Liz likes art. Maeve like shopping. Especially if she can go with my twins." They walked off. "Ours are in daycare as far as I know. Philip should be there for the after school time." She walked into the office to present Pepper with the brownies and the reports. "All yours. Liz has an owie but she'll make sure her daddy eats tonight."
"That's great. He could use it. He missed breakfast." She smiled. "Go sit down, Dawn. Handle things while I nap. We have that late meeting tonight."
"They won't let me attend, Pepper. They still think I'm a traitor for not being an Avenger."
"I forgot about that."
"I'm going to get revenge on Clint for making me change into ballet slippers." She went to her desk, helping Darcy set up her new one. It'd go okay. They could do a lot to help Darcy before she could get home and Dawn really did need a helpful assistant sort.
Darcy looked up as Pepper strolled up to the desk in a less formal outfit than she had on earlier. "Did the kids spill stuff on you?" It had been an interesting first week and a half.
"No, this is going out clothes. Go change."
"I haven't really gotten to do a lot of shopping yet but I'm comfy, Pepper."
"We're doing some maternity shopping for Dawn. She's already in the stuff she wore with Lexi. Then we're picking up the kids for their own shopping needs. They've outgrown everything."
"I can shop in this," Darcy assured her with a smile. "Dawn's in the bathroom."
"That happens a lot when you have kids," Pepper quipped.
"Why do I have to go shopping?" Calia complained as she rolled up the hall. "I'm not outgrowing anything."
"You have a Stark event in six weeks," Pepper reminded her.
"Oooh, yay," she shot back sarcastically. "At least I won't have to worry about my shoes getting scuffed."
Pepper kissed her on the head. "They said another six months and you'd be on a walker."
"And you won't be getting me out of the building until I'm down on a cane," she said, staring at her stepmother. "I can handle people seeing me like this or on a cane but I look like shit on a walker. Uncle Rodney compared my stance to what pros look like when they lean in a car window to ask if you want them to give you a blow job."
Pepper raised an eyebrow. "I'll talk to him about that later."
"I pretended to be Auntie Tara and smacked him with something hard from up the room," she said with a grin. "Hi," she said, noticing Darcy. "Calia Stark."
"Darcy Lewis, newly transplanted to this realm from Avengers tower."
"Ah. That's Chris's future building here. I'm taking over the old mansion." She noticed the look at the chair. "A bad guy."
Darcy flapped a hand. "I wasn't going to mention more than the fluid leak you have, Calia. Wheelchairs don't creep me out or make you lesser. If Hawkings can do it in a chair hooked to a computer for speech, you can do more with less hooking in."
Calia smiled. "Thank you. A lot of people don't see it that way. They think I'm helpless."
"I think you're a bit hindered but there's not much you can't do in a chair and you'll let me know so I can make sure you're not holding yourself back from something you actually can do if you problem solve." She grinned. "My first undergrad roommate was in a fancier chair."
"I decided the non-electric model would mean I get out of it sooner," Calia said. "I'm doing good but I still can't handle the walker for more than a few steps."
"You'll get there if you can. If not, you'll show others how much you can do. Girls like you are icons and you know that."
Calia smiled. "I am, yeah. Unfortunately a fashion one too since Mommy Pepper is. I really don't care about clothes most of the time but sometimes I have to be the fashionable Stark daughter."
"Fashion is picky, but if you find what looks good on you, you always look hot and good," Darcy quipped. "I certainly don't follow it too much because I'm not a beanpole."
"Yeah, Auntie Dawn has that too. Breasts, as I'm finding out, are not fashionable except for in porn. I'll only go there for a later boyfriend of bad taste before I learn better." Pepper swatted her. "Dad did."
"You won't be; I'll kill him if he tries to make you," Dawn said as she came out wiping off her hands. "You don't have to wait like I did, but if you date someone that scuzzy, I'll remember how much I got taught about taking out people."
"You'll have help," Clint called from the ceiling.
Dawn and Darcy both looked up. "We're taking the kids shopping. Do you want your son to get another kilt?"
"Don't make me come down there to distract you, Dawn. The kids will cheer."
Dawn grinned at Pepper. "I think that was a yes." They walked off together, Darcy and Calia coming after them. "Darcy, we lock the desks and doors," she reminded her. She jogged back to do that and came back to join them. "Liz!" she yelled. "You're going in an hour. Make sure your siblings are decently dressed in clean things."
"Yes, Auntie," she squealed. "Auntie Natasha! We're going shopping in an hour!" she yelled, running for her. "C'mon, we have to get the kids dressed! Chris isn't even wearing panties today!"
"Panties are for girls!" Chris yelled from where he was hiding to take off his new cast. "Not boys."
"Boys have their own versions," Pepper sighed. "Put some on, Christopher. You have to wear underwear every day until you're at least twenty."
"Thank you. We'll see you in an hour."
"Why?" he whined, coming out of the bushes. "Do I have to be tortured that way? Really?"
"You're outgrowing things," Pepper said firmly, staring at him. "Since you're not allowed to run around naked, yes."
"But," he whined.
"Get in the car," Dawn said with a point. "You're our approval committee for that bit of whining." He sniffled pitifully. She stared at him. "Your sister can bring you panties to put on later." She pointed. "Whining means punishment so you can help me pick out clothes first."
"Damn it," he said in Russian.
She smirked. "I speak that one too," she reminded him in Russian. "Just for that you have to help me buy a new bikini too and shoes." He sniffled all the way to his booster seat. She smiled. "Sometimes you gotta be mean," she quipped, getting into the limo.
Pepper smiled at Darcy. "She is so mean when the kids whine."
"Still better than five page papers on obscure topics," Calia complained. "You guys have to get in first." They got in and the driver helped Calia get in and put the chair in the trunk. She sent her Aunt Natasha a message about Chris's clothes and some got tossed into the car before they could drive off. Chris pouted but got dressed under the throw blanket they kept back there. "You know if you keep that up, Stepmommy Steve is going to make you start dressing like they used to back when he was your age," she said dryly. "Even more than he tried to make me dress like I was from back then."
Chris pouted. "I can't wear the booty shorts you did to break him of that."
"That's true." She smiled. "So I'd be a bit more happy to wear clothes sometimes. He was talking to Grandma and you know how she feels about panties."
"Yup. Damn it." Pepper swatted him. "Yes, Mom."
"Thank you, son. I won't make you wear a suit around the labs but you do have to wear underwear every day."
"Because the next time you crash into something, the doctors might have to cut off your shorts," Dawn said with a smile. "And you'll be naked for everyone to stare at for at least an hour."
"No, I'm not ready for that yet. Daddy said that happens when you're older. I need to hit puberty before I'm ready for that."
"Be thankful boys don't grow breasts," Calia quipped. "Or else you'd have to wear a bra too."
"Eww. You can have all the bras you want. Mom, we need more boys."
"You still have Philip, dear."
"Yeah but he can wear a bra. I can't. They're itchy." The women all stared at him. "I tried, I was pretty, but they itch and I can't fill them out yet."
"I wondered where that one bra of mine went," Calia said, staring at him.
"No, we stole one of Mom's. Yours are too big because you got big titties like Auntie Dawn."
Dawn cleared her throat. "Language."
"Sorry, breasts only," he sighed, nodding. "It's only titties when she's talking about her own or Uncle Bucky's talking about some slutty heiress's set on tv. I have to use proper language about body parts or else I'll never be ready to use them," he recited.
"Thank you," Pepper agreed, hugging him.
He grinned at her. "Why didn't Calia get tiny ones like her mom?"
"Because sometimes girls have extra breast growing genes," Darcy said dryly.
"It's all hormonal," Dawn agreed. "I didn't have that great of a set until I had Philip."
Chris looked at her. "I remember thinking you were awfully snuggly before then, Auntie Dawn."
"I was pregnant then, Chris."
"Still, you were snuggly and soft to nap on. Mom's bony and pointy at times because she forgot to eat again."
Dawn grinned. "I remind her too, dear. The same as I do you two and your dad."
"We need it," Calia sighed. "Or a snack."
"You can have a snack while we shop for the kids," Pepper said. "Yours is easier, you only need the one gown."
"That's fine. I can do that and watch Chris help me inhale food. He missed lunch."
Chris grimaced. "I was doing math stuff with Granpa Bruce."
"I remember doing that. Sometimes we had to remind each other to eat," Calia said. Chris nodded he did too.
Darcy smiled. "I can make sure, guys. I'll add you to my list." They grinned at her. "That way your aunt can take care of the other buildings."
"Thanks, Darcy," Chris said, grinning at her. "You're really nice."
"Thanks, I am most of the time." She grinned. "Now and then...."
"Yeah, Auntie Dawn has that too," Chris assured her. "It's kinda hot."
Dawn blushed, giving him a hug. "Thank you, Chris."
"Welcome, Auntie Dawn." He grinned. "Uncle Clint said I had to watch out for you while we're out in case bad guys want the future kids again."
"It'll be fine and I can protect us all, dear."
"So? Uncle Clint said he'd give me bow lessons." He smirked.
"Hey! I had to be nine," Calia complained. "He's only six."
"Seven," Chris complained. "By four days."
"Oh, yeah, I remember that dinner." He poked her. She poked him back. Pepper stopped the poking before she had to spank them both.
Darcy smiled. "You two are so fun." They smirked at her in unison.
"Only sometimes," Dawn chirped. "Though you should see us all on a beach."
"Can I get some speedos so I look like I fit with all the bikinis, Mom?" Chris asked. "The longer shorts look out of place with all the bikinis on the beach." Pepper shook her head. "Philip has some."
"That was Bucky's idea," Dawn sighed, shaking her head. "I'd rather he wear real swim shorts for a while longer. That way no one tries to pull them off him."
"Yeah, you could get bitten by a shark much easier in a speedo and then you'd really have to become a girl," Calia quipped.
Chris stared at her. "Sharks don't bite butts."
"They bite whatever they can reach and with the way you swim, your butt is usually higher than anything else," Calia quipped.
"Calia," Pepper said.
"Sharks prefer limbs because they're easy to fit fully in their mouths," Darcy said. Chris grinned at her. Calia grimaced. "Though some have been bitten on the butt, but they were usually surfers."
"I don't want to surf," Chris said. "I don't want to be eaten. Liz...." Pepper swatted him again. "Hey! She's mean, Mom!"
"She has turned mean again," Calia agreed, getting swatted too. "I had to make her quit watching surgery shows again, Mom. She had *plans*."
"I'll talk with Liz tonight, guys."
"Liz knows she can't do that to you guys," Dawn said.
"No, but she's starting school in a few weeks," Calia said dryly, staring at her. "I'm scared for her future classmates."
"We'll talk to her," Pepper assured her. She looked at Dawn, who grinned back. "Did you?"
"Twice now. We needed to talk about that and how Maeve was just as sacred and non-touching as the kids she'd be in school with. I'd hate to be the first bad guy that tries her though. She's definitely picked up some stuff off Natasha since she's been fondling her belt dagger like it was a pet."
"I'll add that to our talk tonight," Pepper said happily. "She has to be at least nine to play with knives."
"Thanks," Calia and Chris chirped together. The car paused and they looked then Calia groaned and unhooked herself, shifting herself over so the driver could help her out. "Thanks, Barry."
"Welcome, Calia. Ladies?"
"Stepmom said that it's ladies first," Chris said.
Darcy got out and helped steady Dawn while Calia got herself out of the way. Then Pepper then Chris. She steered Chris with them. "I think your aunt gets to shop first."
"Probably. She likes to shop, just like the trio of terror."
"They aren't that bad," Pepper said. "Unless you're a sales clerk."
"I tried," Dawn said.
"We need to make them get hobbies," Calia said. "Before we're all broke from their shopping."
"I taught the girls about consignment and thrift shopping," Dawn said, smiling at her. "They like that."
"Thank you," Pepper said, hugging her. "They drive me nuts." The kids laugh. "You two weren't nearly as bad, or Liz, as Maeve is."
"At least Maeve doesn't have fussy moments like the twins do," Chris said. "Mira still won't wear lace unless it's tough lace, won't wear most patterns unless it's plaid, and hates most colors. Lexi won't wear it if she doesn't think it matches, or if it's any color other than red, blue, or purple with a neutral." He shook his head. "Some day there's going to be a boy that has to put up with each of them and I'm already really sorry for them."
"I'm hoping they'll grow out of it," Dawn said. "So is their dad."
"You know, they could get together," Calia said. "They're not related."
"Probably not forever. They'd drive each other nuts," Chris said. "Maeve will only wear green and blue. That'd drive anyone but Lexi nuts and Mira won't put up with the flirty outfits those two like. Then Lexi and Maeve would clash and hate each other for it. So no, they can't get together. They'd be cute but not good together."
Pepper shook her head, looking at Dawn, who shrugged. "I agree. They'd drive each other nuts from being too familiar with each other."
Darcy smiled. "They're adorable. They were running up the hall yesterday in tutus and squealing about shoes."
"They're going to start dance class," Dawn said, rolling her eyes. "Natasha is not amused."
Pepper smiled. "Neither am I." They went into the store. "We need a gown for Calia for an upcoming event in six weeks."
The sales clerk smiled at them, staring at Darcy. "We might have some things to fit you."
Calia cleared her throat. "I'm right here. You'd think that you'd realize I'm a Stark since I was in People last week." The clerk winced but came to try to find something to fit her. She looked at Pepper. Who rolled her eyes. "Auntie, go find clothes? It'll take us longer and I'll give you Chris when I'm done."
"I can go wherever," she quipped.
"Stay with the kids," Pepper said. "That way I can send Chris with you."
Calia looked at the outfits then at him. "I'm thirteen. I'm not a slutty heiress sort. I may have boobs, but I'm not the sort to show them off yet. Can I have something covering maybe? Please?" she asked with a smile.
"I figured you'd need some sort of shirt to go under it, Miss."
"No. My back's injured, not my chest. I've never had a problem with gowns in the past."
"Hey, Sissy," Chris said, pointing at one. "That's a good color and not flirty like Stepmom or Dad would hate."
"Stepmom Steve would have fits," she said dryly. "It's way too low cut for me being thirteen, Chris. That's for tiny boob people with that sort of dip."
"I like sweethearts or square necklines," Darcy said, pointing at one. "That's not a great color on you but that general shape?"
Calia shifted to look and nodded. "I like that shape. Not the color but the shape. Do we have something like that only in a nicer color?"
"That's a six thousand dollar dress, Miss."
"I've got seven million in my account," she said dryly. "And another thirty in my personal accounts, not counting what I'm inheriting from my dad. I'm one of *those* Starks, Ma'am." She smiled. "But if you're that discomfited by me being in a chair, we can go shop somewhere else." She looked at Pepper.
"We can," she agreed. "Thank you for your time. Your usual, Calia?"
"No, not really. Let's find someone new to wear." They went out together, Chris pushing her chair. "Thanks, Chris."
"Welcome, Sis." He looked and pointed. "That's a sporty store but they have the tops and leotards you like."
"I have to have mine fixed so I can put them on easier," she told him. "But I could use a few new ones." She checked the traffic and zipped over there with Chris helping. Darcy followed as soon as she could so Pepper and Dawn could hit their own shops. She rolled in and smiled. "I need new leotards."
The woman smiled. "That's great, Miss Stark. Do you wear regular ones or do they need adjusted?"
"I have to have snaps put in the crotch for easier getting into and out of, plus a new gown sometime soon."
"Hmm, the snobs across the street are evil. They don't care about fitness either. Does your brother need some?"
Chris smiled. "Daddy said I had to quit wearing the spandex shorts because I was too flirty."
"We can work on that." She showed her the various styles they had.
"I used to wear that sort," Calia said with a point at one that had longer legs. "But I can't get into them."
"Have you thought about shoulder snaps?"
"Yeah, but it's not the part I have problems getting into." The saleswoman nodded and got them what they needed. Calia checked out and rolled up the street, going to a store she had glanced in before. She smiled at the staring worker. "Do you guys do gowns? I need something for a Stark event and the snotty people over there were against me being in a chair."
"We don't, but there's a bridal shop up the street or there's a new designer that just moved in about a block up on the other side of the street. They seem to do hip things," the clerk said with a smile.
"Thank you." She rolled off, taking Chris, and Darcy when she caught up to them, up there. The bridal shop had normal things but being a Stark she had to show good designer skills. They went to the other shop and Calia looked then shook her head, going a few more stores up. "You can't really go wrong with a few designers," she decided, rolling into the Armani shop.
The clerk smiled. "Miss and Mister Stark. How can we help you today?"
"I have a Stark event in six weeks. Chris, do you have a suit?"
"I hope not, but probably."
Darcy hugged him. "I'm sure you look adorable, Chris."
"I do," he agreed with a grin. "You hug nicely."
"We can fit you both, dears." She led them off.
Darcy stayed with Chris for now since Calia could handle most things. His suit was picked fairly easily so she checked on Calia, who was staring at a few choices. "You need help trying them on?" she asked quietly.
"Please. They're a bit long."
"Okay." She got Calia into the changing area and helped her into the gown she thought would go best. Calia came out to look at herself, then shook her head. Darcy grimaced. "It bunches up around your waist."
"They almost always do," she agreed. "Can we try on the silver one?"
"Sure." She took her back in there to help her into that one. By then Chris was sitting and waiting.
Chris stared, his head tipped to the side. "It's too old lady, Sissy."
"Yeah, it is." She pouted. "I had hoped. I liked the details."
"The embroidery is pretty," Darcy agreed, spotting something. She brought it over. "It's on sale too."
"It's last season's," the clerk said.
Calia shrugged. "I'm young and picky. I have special needs with the chair so I don't have to have as much tailoring." She grinned. "That lets me wear some older season things because they fit better." She tried that one on and came out. Chris whistled but shook his head, handing over something. "Way too showy, Chris."
"You can add pretty lace to the cutouts, Sis."
"That won't look right on that," Darcy said. The clerk nodded but got something to bring out. "Wow, that's showy."
"It's only cut around the waist. It's covering everywhere else. So she could add some subtle lace or netting in those because they'll be hidden by her sitting," the clerk said. She let Calia take it to try on.
"Two sizes too big," Calia called. "And I have major boobs in it."
"I like the sides," Darcy said, helping her back out to the outer area. "That does work."
Calia nodded, staring at it. "The slimmer skirt works well too. Though I'd hate to be girlish in this later on in this color."
"Eww," Chris said.
"Get used to it," Darcy quipped. "Almost all girls end up having periods and it's just male whining that means they can't deal with it. Real men can pick up tampons for their sisters and girlfriends and only hand them over without grimacing."
Chris looked at her. "I have years before I get there, Darcy. Until then I can be a little boy who thinks girl parts are icky."
"True, you're at the icky girl stage." She kissed him on the head.
Chris grinned. "You're cool." He got up and went to pick up something, bringing it back. "Probably a bit too old for you but more subtle and it comes in blue or silver."
"I might like that," Calia decided, going in to try that on. It had a subtle dip in the center and cut outs on the waist area, but the skirt was straight and not too tight. She came out to show it off.
"Wow," Chris said, staring, mouth slightly open. "It doesn't make you look too much older, maybe sixteen instead of thirteen."
"That's our prom line," the clerk said with a smile for Chris. "You have excellent taste."
"I inherited it from Mom."
"Dad doesn't do much with fashion. Guys have it *so* much easier," Calia said. "Silver, blue?"
"We have it in medium blue," she said, going to get those samples. "Silver, and red."
They stared at them. "I like the black," Darcy said. "It's classic. The blue is a bit too light for an event from what I've seen online. The silver's pretty but if you drop something it'll show."
Chris looked and nodded. "I like the black too. Red just shouts 'Stark spawn' on us." The clerk smiled. "It does."
"It does," Calia said. "I try to avoid Dad's red and gold colors so I'm Calia, not Calia Stark. Because I'm amazing in my own right and don't need to find a deep shadow." Chris grinned, hugging her. "Some day you will too." She looked at her brother. "Quit pretending to be stupid while you're at it. I saw those designs."
"Dad hasn't seen them yet."
"So? I had Andrew and Jonathan look over mine. Have Grandad do yours."
"I can do that." He looked at them then nodded. "The black." Calia smiled and got helped out so she could redress, without help this time. She came out to buy the dress and they texted Pepper to let her know they were done and going to lunch. She sent back a 'take Darcy and be careful, stay in the neighborhood'. "We can do that. Chris, find food. You're a better food finder." He jogged off and waved, letting the ladies follow into the small ice cream and donut shop. "This'll definitely be a good lunch." Chris bought this time. The salespeople smiled at them. "We missed lunch while in the lab."
"Feed us sugary goodness please?" Chris begged.
Darcy rolled her eyes. "Pick out what you two want." They put in orders and Chris paid then they found a good table that they could get Calia to fit under. It was under the outdoor awning so they were in the fresh-ish air and out of the sun. Darcy got the food and came back with it for them. "Here, eat, guys." They dug in, humming in happiness. "You guys have got to remember to eat more often. It looks like you both missed breakfast too." They groaned but nodded, digging into their donut based sandwiches again.
"Aww, look, a cripple and her mommy," one of the walking ones sneered.
"Move on, dick slime, before I hurt you over the kids," Darcy quipped.
"Don't make me call Stark security," Calia said dryly. "We don't need to see an Avenger over your tiny mind." The person snorted and stomped off. "Bye, have a great life as a worthless sperm storage device," she called, waving at their back.
"Not even Dad during his most slutty year would've touched that," Chris said. "He had taste, even if he did sleep with showgirls and reporters." He shoved a bite in his mouth.
Darcy shook her head. "Let me handle them, guys. I can do that." They stared at her. "I'm the adult here."
Calia shrugged. "I've had to shoot bad guys in the past."
Chris nodded. "I'm learning how to do that."
Darcy ruffled his hair. "I already know how."
"Okay, you can protect me like I'm a princess. Sissy said she'll never be a princess."
"Who'd want to marry a prince? Most of them aren't into science or lab work," Calia said, grimacing. "I'd be bored stupid doing people things all the time without science. I'd have to make a robotic golem to take my place and it'd end up being a huge scandal." She sipped her coffee drink.
"Aww, look, the heiress slums," a supposedly fashionable blonde with a dog in her purse sneered.
"Yes, unlike you, she goes out to see what people need so she can create it," Darcy said. "That means she does things for people, instead of just being photographed. It's something all heiresses should aspire toward." The young thing sneered at her. "Hmm, let me guess, you stopped at the GED because school was too hard? Are you a Barbie doll?" The woman stomped off. "Wow, I'm so glad people think in New York."
Calia laughed, hugging her. "Me too. That's the only bad thing about being here in LA." She finished up and went to clean up, coming out to find some lady trying to coo over Chris while Darcy was helping shield him. "Hey, Honey? Get off my brother. He's too young for a girl like you."
"Hi, Calia." She smiled and blew a kiss. "He's so adorable."
"He's grounded and his punishment is helping me shop." She smirked. "You have a great day?"
"Of course. You too, dear." She strolled off, putting up a note on her twitter.
Calia looked at Darcy. "She went to that same prep school that made a bimbo assassin," she said quietly. "Auntie Dawn told me about her."
"She's creepy," Chris complained quietly, looking around before coming out from behind Darcy. "Seriously creepy." He looked at his food then at Darcy, who shook her head. "She put stuff on it?"
"It slid out of her sleeve."
"We can bundle it up and see," Calia said, doing that. They gave her a bag to carry it in at the counter and they left to find more safety with the other adults.
"Don't worry, some day a guy will make you a real woman," a guy sneered as he walked around them. Darcy tazed him until he screamed.
"She is a real woman. She's a good future woman. Guys like you wouldn't know about more than rophies though. Go be STD chum somewhere else. If you come near the kids again I'll do more than taze you." The guy limped off crying.
"Whoo hoo!" Calia said, clapping. "Thanks, I need one of those tazers. There's too many guys who think I'm not a girl because I can't stand up in ho shoes."
"I'll hit 'em for you, Sissy," Chris promised, hugging Darcy. "You're damn cool."
Dawn and Pepper came out of a shop. "Did you taze him?" Dawn asked.
Darcy winced but nodded. "Yeah, I had to."
"That's great," Dawn said with a grin. "I just beat him and kicked his ass the last time. We'll talk to his mommy about his attitude again." She hugged the kids. "Take home?" she asked, pointing at the bag.
"Stuff fell out of Honey's sleeve onto Chris's food," Calia said.
"We can test it at the lab," Pepper said. "Put stuff in the car, guys. The other kids are nearly here."
Calia rolled over, letting the driver take the bags from her chair's basket. "Here, this needs to be examined in the lab. It got spilled into Chris' food."
"I can note that," he said, putting a note on the bag and tucking it into the front seat. He took Dawn's bags and Pepper's bags too.
Chris was babbling about the new gown to his mom, who said it was probably really pretty. They could look at it later. They finished up in there and got driven to the store where they went for the kid clothes. Chris got out of the car first this time. "Girls, line up," he shouted. "Let's do this like Starks, not like heathens. Don't make Calia embarrassed to claim us." The girls all nodded, the three youngest holding hands like Uncle Clint had taught them to. They went into the store together.
Bucky and Natasha followed. Calia grabbed Natasha's wrist. "That woman named Honey spilled something onto Chris's food. It's in the bag in the front of the limo."
"I'll have it sent back for testing," she said, smiling at her. "Good catch."
"Darcy did. She also tazed the City Council lady's defective son for him picking on me about being in the chair."
"I would have hit him instead. He might remember it longer." She went to get that bag to test and send back with Clint. Clint and Tony came back with the results. Natasha looked over. "Your daughters want your input. Chris is trying to talk them into more colors."
"That's fine." He handed Pepper the lab workup as he walked past her and Dawn picking out for the kids. "Hey, girls." They squealed as they pounced him. "Show me these new things." They held up outfits. "I like most of those. No teal, Chris." Chris shrugged but rolled his eyes. "Mira could wear it but it's got flowers."
"Wearing flowers doesn't make her any less tough. It's like Auntie Natasha being pretty enough to be underestimated. Auntie Dawn said being pretty means that no one sees the brains or the brawn."
"True," Clint agreed. "Try it on, Mira?" She pouted but did that. He grinned. "That looks really nice on you. Natasha, don't you like this teal shirt?"
She walked over, nodding. "I do. It's charming, Mira. Nice choice, Chris." He grinned. "Show your father the rest." The girls did that and let Clint pick out what he thought was pretty. Maeve was being fussy but Stark was helping with that.
Calia sighed, looking outside. "Eww, the penis slime is back, Auntie. Why do they let things like him wander around decent people?"
"Elitist snob," Clint said dryly, staring at her.
Calia pointed. "He is."
Clint looked and nodded. "Okay, he is, but be more polite. People will expect you to have manners."
"I do have manners, just not for the nasty stuff that leaks out of diseased dicks like him."
"Manners are for everyone," Dawn said, staring at her, hands on her hips. "Like your grandmother can, you can politely sneer and kick butt."
"Yes, Auntie. I can be that sort of woman." She grimaced at Bucky, who was glaring out there. "I can handle him."
"You shouldn't have to. You're a kid."
"He'd sneer at you about your prosthetic arm, Uncle Bucky." She rolled out there. "Dude, you're sneering at my siblings." He glared at her. "Move it please. I'm trying to have manners my grandmother would appreciate. You're making me lose it."
"Little baby," he sneered.
She produced a weapon, pointing it at him. "Little girl, yes. But little girl that designs lasers." He backed up, hands up. "Get away from my siblings. You've shown an unhealthy attitude around them and I'm not so sure you're not a baby raping asshole. Don't make me turn into a Summers woman instead of a Stark." He backed off a few more steps. "Officer, he was sneering at my siblings and he made suggestive remarks at me earlier." She put the laser up.
"Ma'am, was that a gun?"
She smiled. "No, it was a laser pistol."
The officer smiled. "Those are toys. You still shouldn't brandish it in public. Call and we'll come help you."
She stared at him. "Officer, I'm Calia Stark," she said dryly. "That's no toy." He blanched, backing up a step. "This one tried to sneer at me earlier and now he's staring at my young siblings. I'm saving my aunt from having to come out here."
Tony leaned out. "What happened?"
"The guy who reminds people of the slime that drips out of diseased boy parts was staring at my siblings. I had to assume he was staring in longing with the way he taunted me earlier that some day a *real* man would make me into a real woman. That was the third or fourth time he's made that insinuation so I'm guessing he's trying to say he's one." She smiled at her father.
"She has a laser pistol, Mr. Stark?" the other officer asked.
Tony shrugged. "Quite possibly. She designed one about five years ago. She's refined it a few times since then." He came out to look it over, nodding. "Sweet, daughter."
"Thanks, Dad." She smiled up at him. "You have to promise to tie Stepmom down when I show off the new gown tonight. Chris decided some cut outs around my waist would make it fit better. We can fix that easily but it'll be a bit showy until we do."
"Yeah, I can see you showing it off before he gets home." He handed the pistol back to her, staring at the guy. "That's the same guy that told my daughter Liz that some day she'd suck his diseased cock. I really wanted to hit him for that."
The officers nodded. "If you can secure that weapon until she's old enough to have a concealed carry license, we'll gladly take him in, Mr. Stark."
"Sure." He put the gun in his back waistband. "Better?"
"Thank you. Miss Stark, next time call and we'll come pick him up."
She stared at him. "It'd take you guys at least ten minutes to get here. It's so much easier if I handle it like my aunt would then hand him over."
"Possibly true but not how the law works. He could charge you for that."
Dawn walked out, hugging her niece then smiling at the officer. "Did the penis zit try to proposition a little kid again? He's been arrested twice for that in the last month. I'm pretty sure his mom is looking at his drug habit."
"I'm sure she would. Let the adults handle it for you unless you're the only one there, Miss Stark," the officer said, staring at her. "That's why there's adults. Kids like you shouldn't have to be horrified by hurting people."
"Point. Next time I'll let Dad handle it for me."
"Thank you. We'll gladly arrest him for that." They hauled him off, taking him to their car to arrest him.
Tony looked at her. "Next time, tell me, daughter. That's why I'm here."
"He would've walked away from you. This way he knows kids will fight back."
Dawn patted her on the head. "He's part of that new club," she said quietly, staring at Tony.
"Like hell that'll keep going."
"Go for it, boss. I got told I'm too pregnant for that, even though I've been in battles this pregnant before."
"Yeah but you only had one then, Dawn. Now you're having triplets so you have to let us do it, just like your niece does." He got them back inside, handing the pistol to Bucky. "She can't have it back in public today."
"That's fine." He checked it over then put it into his pocket. He stared at the two Summers women. "Some of us are heros as well, Summers. You can both let us handle it. We're here for more than being pretty."
"He's part of that new club," Dawn said, smirking at him. "I can handle myself. I'm not Calia's age."
"No, you're just as vulnerable right now because you can't run. Let us handle it. You have two scary spouses for that." He walked off to tell Clint, who glared at Dawn over their son's head. Dawn rolled her eyes.
Calia patted Dawn on the arm. "It'll be okay. It's only temporary, like me being in the chair is. Soon we'll be back to being able to defend ourselves and the young things that should be more innocent."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Auntie Dawn, she'll need your help to figure out what to put on the new dress," Chris said.
"I can do that too, Chris."
"Cool. She looks stunning."
"Good. She should." She grinned. "We have to go to the goth store." Clint moaned, making Natasha shiver. She grinned at her niece. "Let's go do that. Philip, want to go to the goth shop with me?"
"No, stay Daddy and Mommy please." He grinned. "You go get pretty for Daddy and Mommy. They like that."
"Yeah, we do, but they shouldn't be out by themselves," Clint said.
"I can go," Bucky complained.
"I doubt you'd be a good shopping helper," Dawn said dryly. She and Calia went off together, taking Maeve with them since she wanted to go. The goth shop was only a few blocks away. Of course, someone was going to be mean first but Dawn managed to fight them off. "I cannot kick like this," she complained. "It's not even the skirt." She shook her head as she walked over the guy. "Have a better day, Tyler."
"Dawn," he moaned.
She smirked at him. "I have mood swings, Tyler. These are my nieces." He held up a hand and got up to run away. "Thanks." Calia was laughing. "It happens," she said dryly. "He's a sniper."
"He was kinda grungy," Calia said.
"He has a really neat son who likes botany. We were going to introduce you in a few years so you know more kids your own age with some common interests."
"That might be nice." They found the goth shop and went in. Maeve let out an awesome squeal, heading right for a gown. "That's too big for you, Maeve," Calia complained. "We can find your size later. Let Auntie Dawn shop first so we can help." Maeve carried back the dress, smiling at her aunt.
The clerk smiled. "They're adorable, Dawn. I know one's your niece. Is the other one of yours?"
"This is Maeve, their cohort," Calia said with a smile. "My sister."
"Awww. She has great taste." She came around the counter to help them shop. Dawn got some new tops that would work as maternity shirts and Maeve found a pretty dress she adored. Caila found a few too. By the time they were done, Clint was waiting with the limo outside. The clerk smiled at him with a wave. "Hi, Clint."
"Thanks. Did they find pretty things?"
"They sure did. Maeve found a few adorable things too."
"Great." He got them into the limo, letting Calia haul herself in so he could fold up the chair and put it in with them. The trunk was too full. He walked around to get in on the other side, letting the driver take them back to the lab building. "Dawn?"
"What did you get?"
She smiled. "A new bikini and a few other maternity tops."
"That's cool. Anything flirty?"
"Of course, Clint. You know I like being flirty. Even if I am fat with our triplets."
He grinned. "You're getting a backrub later. I got new oils."
She took a kiss. "I'd adore that." He grinned. "Maeve found a pretty dress. Calia found a few too."
"Are they going to be flirty too?"
"Of course we are, when we need to be," Calia quipped. "Even if Stepmom will have one of those 'that's not how girls are supposed to be' fits again."
"He's better," Clint said.
"Good. I don't think I could handle the booty shorts again so he'd be horrified."
They got back to the lab, her getting helped out once Dawn got out. "Let me go show off the new dresses." She took her bags with her. Maeve cuddled her bags all the way inside. "We're back."
"Let us see the new things," Tony said from the kitchen, coming out with coffee. "Chris, come see." Liz and Chris came out from putting up their clothes. Pepper came out of putting up Maeve's clothes. Calia went into her room to change into the new gown she had found at the goth store. She rolled out with it. Tony nodded. "That's pretty. Fits you well enough."
"That's an adorable color," Pepper said with a smile. "The goth shop?" She nodded. "That's very pretty and you'll still probably be able to fit into it for the holiday party." She grinned and rolled back into her room. "Need help?"
"Please. I have two more to show off."
"Okay." Pepper came in to help her into the regular dress next. They came out together. "That's charming. The skirt's a bit shorter than I'd like but it's almost knee length."
"That's cute," Tony agreed, smiling at her. "Even if it does have black roses embroidered around the neckline and skirt."
"I thought it'd be cute for a tea or something."
"It could be," Pepper agreed. "Your black pillbox hat will look darling with that."
Bucky came in and nodded. "That's cute, kiddo. Nearly forties."
She smiled. "Kinda more fifties, it's back in fashion. My next one's going to need some adjustment so if you have Stepmom, you might have to sit on him."
"He's not back yet. It'll be an hour."
"Oh, good." She went in to change, Dawn coming in to help her.
"Wow," Dawn said. She came out and sat down. Calia rolled out. "That looks really good on you, Calia, but a bit older than you are."
Chris looked over. "Most of them made her look your age instead of nearly hers. That one we can cover the cutouts with lace or something but it fit her well and wasn't too booby."
Pepper got up to look it over, nodding. "I can see how we can fix those but they're not that noticeable where you're sitting." She looked at Tony, who was staring with his mouth open. "She looks like an older teenage girl."
"It was part of their prom collection," Calia said. "Dad?"
"Damn I made pretty girls." He sipped his coffee. "I can see both points about the cutouts. They're not that noticeable in the chair but it does mean you don't have to have much tailoring around your waist. Though, the top dip? It has to be closed some, daughter."
"Oh, yeah, definitely," she agreed, smiling at him. "This is actually a size too large so I can do any tailoring."
Dawn nodded. "It can use taken in some but if they fit it perfectly your breasts would be too prominent."
Bucky cleared his throat. "That's sweet but not too sultry. Still for an older girl."
She smiled. "They don't make gowns for girls my age. It's stuff to make me look like I'm Auntie Dawn's age or older teenage girl dresses."
"Then yeah, that's nice enough. I agree about the chest area." He listened. "I was wrong, he's coming up the hallway." She rolled in there to change. Dawn went in to help her. "She needs her own bodyguard, Stark. One with a lot of weapons."
"Yeah, she does. Can you train one?" He looked at Pepper, who smiled at him. "She looks hot."
"She does. She's probably only got one more growth spurt in a few years. She's so grown up." She sighed, looking at the trio coloring. "You did great, Chris." He grinned and accepted a hug. Steve came in. "Calia got a new gown that's going to need some tailoring."
"I figured most of them would," he agreed. Dawn came out with Calia redressed in jammies. "Tired?" He hugged her. He spied a gown on the bed then looked at her. "Is that cut outs?"
"It made the waist fit and I can cover them," she said.
"Oh, good. I don't want you being too showy. You're too young for that."
"She has great taste and Chris helped her pick that out," Pepper said.
"Chris actually picked it," Calia said. "It came in a few colors but we liked the basic black best." She settled onto the couch, letting her cats steal her chair to nap in. "Hi, guys." One meowed at her so got petted, but they all adored napping near the mommy. "Mom, Auntie, we have to have a girl talk sometime soon don't we?"
Dawn grimaced. "Are you feeling the hormone swings and cramping?"
"Eww," Steve said.
"Get over it," Dawn said. "Most every single woman has a cycle and guys have to deal with it too. Real men can buy tampons and just hand them over without comment."
"Exactly," Pepper agreed, smiling at her. Then at her daughter. "Yeah, it'll probably be soon. Did you have a method you wanted to learn to use first?"
"I've been looking at the various ideas. How do you know it's going to happen soon?"
"Some mild cramping, some mild hormone swings," Dawn said. "You'll get it a few months before it actually begins."
"Then we've gotta have that talk soon."
"Shouldn't ladies only talk about that around other women?" Bucky complained.
"No. Because it means men treat us like objects instead of real people," Dawn said, staring up at him. "Men who can't deal with things like seeing tampons in the bathroom on the counter believe women are just there for sexual urges and nothing else. It means we aren't seen as real people, just toys."
"I'm in no means going to let that happen," Calia said. "I'm a real woman with real woman things. Including future real woman things." She looked at her mom. "How do I put in those?"
"We can get a medical model and show you," Dawn said with a smile. "Doc has one."
"Okay. That'll help. The internet has all sorts of weird things."
"Of course it does," Dawn agreed. "Mostly put out by guys."
"What about that birth control stuff?" Calia asked.
"Whoa," Steve said, glaring at her. "You're in no means ready for that discussion yet."
"Steve, birth control is also given for about thirty other problems," Dawn said. "Including extreme acne, horrifying cramps that make her unable to get out of bed, fibroids, which this family is prone to since her mom had some when she had the twins, and a bunch of other problems. Including PCOS. Which we're all hoping she doesn't have."
"The small cyst they thought they found they couldn't find again," Pepper said. "Which I'm thankful for. There's also other reasons, including the fact that some can take away a woman's cycle for months on end so she's not inconvenienced. Military women use them for that purpose as well as regular women."
"Oh." He grimaced. "She's still too young."
"And yet, one of the chemists has a daughter that screwed up thanks to a teenage party and is now looking up baby names," Chris said dryly. "Her daughter's twelve."
"It might also be the bypass to that vision that had me somehow getting knocked up at fourteen," Calia said dryly. "Because I don't want that to happen. It's really hard to do science with a kid helping. That's why I had a nanny."
"There was?" Steve demanded.
"Yeah, a few years ago," Dawn said. "It looked like it was prompted from on high but it was also before they took the slayer calling from her. We were pretty sure it was related to that since most slayers aren't fertile."
"I remember that one," Stark said. "Yeah, she can go on anything good that's long lasting and won't harm her. I doubt that if they want to force the issue, they'll be nice about it."
"The chemist's daughter ran into the king of teenage pregnancies," Dawn said. "Budweiser."
"Thankfully I know why you're not supposed to drink," Calia quipped. "It sucks monkey butts."
"Drinking does?" Chris asked her.
"No, the stuff after the drinking does. There's a huge headache and feeling like you have the flu, then the parents get you, Chris."
He shuddered. "No thanks. I don't need to know until I'm in college."
Tony looked at him. "The legal drinking age in the US is twenty-one. I'm pretty sure you'll be taking college classes before then, son." He smirked at his little boy. "Go for the legal age or else I'm going to kick your ass so you can't turn into me."
Chris leaned over to hug his arm. "I'd hate that. I might turn into Grandpa instead and he sucks." He stared up at his dad. "Um..."
Tony smiled at him. "I had JARVIS tell me you have a few things done. Do you want me to look at them or would you like someone like your grandfather or Rodney to look over them instead?"
"Can I? You won't be mad?"
"No, I won't be. I was a little bit until Calia told me why she did. I get it. It's hard and I'll be proud even if it's not something that's a good idea. Your sister's first one was a rocket powered self rocking cradle." Calia nodded. "You can go to whoever you want to let them look over your shoulder, son. That's why there's mentors."
He grinned. "Thanks, Dad."
"Welcome. How many tablets do you have?"
"I use paper."
"That's cool. I do that too." He smiled. Chris grinned back, wiggling some. "There's some rules though. No putting more weapons in any Stark building without telling me. When you file for your first patent I want to know so we can celebrate. Don't hide it like she did. Or like I did from my dad. If you're making weapons we have to have a talk about ethics with your Grandfather Bruce. I won't be disappointed but you'll have to have that talk with us." Chris nodded, still grinning. "Good boy." He patted him on the head. "I want to know about the patent stuff before I get blindsided by it. I had no idea Calia had filed for a lot of patents until that pervert had her hacked. I thought she had a few she was co-working on. Not thirty of them in her own name that was waiting to be gone through."
"I'll introduce you to the guy who helps with that so you don't spend all your allowance on it like I did," Calia said with a smile.
"Thanks, Sis and Dad. I can do that." They settled in to talk about lab stuff.
Steve looked at Calia. "You have thirty patents?"
"I have sixteen with my name on them as part of the design team. I have nine that have been approved that're just mine. I have another ....I think eighteen that are being looked over to see if I get a patent or not. I learned to patent everything because of industrial spies."
"You never told us that," Steve said.
She stared at him. "I wasn't going to announce it over dinner. Dad found out that I was over filing because of that pervert. That's when I found out I don't have to use my own allowance for filing. I've only filed three in the last year."
"Is that a normal level for most of you?"
"No," she admitted. "But I get bored easily so I work on something, put it down, work on something else, come back to the first one when the idea comes back...." She shrugged. "I have nine open designs right now that I'm tinkering with."
Tony nodded. "I did the same thing. It's why we forget to go do things."
Chris nodded. "Me too. I only have four things I'm working on but I've got seven things I want someone to see."
"If it's one of the tinkering group, we're getting together this weekend," Calia said.
He grinned. "Can Uncle Radek come then?"
"Of course. He and Uncle Rodney are both invited."
"Cool." He looked at his father.
"Both Radek and Rodney are great mentors, son. Don't let them put down any ideas. Even the stupid things can sometimes be helpful years later. That's how I got the suit."
He nodded. "I can do that. Thanks." He got up to hug them and settled in again. "Dad, are those adult coloring books fun?"
"They're a lot of picky detailed pictures," Calia said. "I have one in my room but all the little details drive me nuts."
He went to get it from her room and came out to see if he wanted to color in those instead of kid books. "There's no pictures."
"It's fractal pictures like that thing you look through and spin to see the pretty pictures," Calia told him.
"Oh. That's kinda neat." He took some of the crayons the girls were playing with to try some of it. It was really a lot of small details. He eventually gave it up to color with the girls. Their pictures were easier and more fun.
Dawn stood up. "Let me go home. I was promised a backrub." She grinned. "Call if you need me before tomorrow, guys." They waved and Bucky walked her out. "I can walk to the parking lot, Barnes."
He stared down at her. "I saw that guy you kicked." She shrugged. "I also saw how bad your form was because you can't kick high enough or fast enough. Let us guys handle some things so we feel better, Summers. I haven't even sparred in weeks."
"Thank you." He helped her into the car Clint was waiting in then went back inside. He had taken film of it for Natasha so she could nag her own wife. They really had to get Dawn to let herself be protected.
Clint walked past Darcy the next morning, smiling at her. "Dawn's on bed rest today." He leaned into the office. "Pepper, we put Dawn on bed rest today because she sprained her back yesterday kicking an assassin around." Pepper groaned, shaking her head. He walked in the paperwork with a grin. "The doctor said she could probably sit and do paperwork all day but we decided we're going to make sure she understands we want to take care of her."
"She got too used to handling it by herself, Clint. I've had that same talk with her a few times when she wouldn't let Tony help her stand up."
Clint nodded. "I'm not that distracted this time. I'm not going to be on missions like I was when she was carrying Philip. I'm not going to be distracted by doing the first time dad thing with Natasha like last time. This time I'll all the way there for her." She smiled. "Did you have anything she has to get done that Darcy can't?"
"No. There's nothing pressing due right now." She looked at her calendar. "We have a meeting with a supplier tomorrow so she has to show up for that." She looked up at him, smiling. "Good luck. She's stubborn."
"Yesterday she kicked an assassin picking on the kids."
"I wish I had known that."
"Me too." She smirked. "I'll tell her to check in later just in case." He walked off. "Have fun, Darcy."
"Thanks, Clint. Tell her I said to feel better. You might get her insoles into her shoes. That might help the foot pain for a bit longer."
"I hadn't thought about that."
"They also make little tips to put on the heels to make them wider."
"Or that. Thanks." He grinned, going home to fuss over his wife.
Darcy went into the office with some paper and a pen. "I know I need to go on the fussing rounds of all the labs." Pepper nodded. "Any paperwork or anything I need to get done?"
"Not today. Tomorrow we have a meeting with a supplier but Dawn already has that done, usually a week before I need it. We have to get the mail from security, check the main administrative offices for any memos that need to come up, and watch out for Bruce's lab. He's doing something weird with radiation."
"I can do that." She made those notes. "Let me start with the mail and fussing rounds over that way first." She went to do that, ignoring all the pouty looks she got for not being Dawn. "She's on bedrest," she told one of them. "She sprained her back yesterday while out with the kids because someone made her kick them."
"We had a lot of attacks since Dawn got pregnant," one of the chemists said. "With Philip especially. It seemed like everyone wanted a baby avenger."
"Calia pulled a laser pistol on a guy yesterday who reminded her of STD output because he was staring at her siblings."
The chemist smiled and nodded. "Sometimes she's a Stark, sometimes she's a Summers. Those are usually bad days." The others in the lab nodded.
"She calmed down," Darcy assured her with a smile. She looked up the hall. "Are the trio of terror supposed to be wandering this way to learn?"
"No," they all said. "Maeve hates science."
"I can distract them." She went to do that. "Hey, girls." They smiled up at her. "Shouldn't you be in the daycare?"
"Clothes," Mira told her with a bright smile. "See clothes and help."
"Oh, you wanted to help people with their clothes?" They nodded. "Well, we can figure out how to do that without you guys having to get near chemicals. You're a bit little for that." She walked them off, taking them to the gym for now. "Let me call Pepper to see if she has a sorting clothes thing going on." She texted her and then called. "Pepper, Darcy. I have the three young, cute things in the gym looking for clothes they can help with. They were going to help the chemists with theirs. Is there something like a sorting task? That might work. Who's doing that? Yeah, I know where their lab is. Thanks, Pepper." She hung up and led the girls to that building and that lab, smiling at the huffy scientist. "They wanted to sort colors. Pepper said you might be doing something with that?"
"I am but it's not like they're crayons."
Mira walked over to pat him, smiling at him. "Ugly pants but pretty color tie."
He smiled at her. "My wife bought it for me. She had great taste, like you will." The girls all squealed and hugged him then went to look at his color samples. "Don't leave me alone with them. I hate kids," he muttered.
Darcy smiled, coming over to teach them colors. When they got bored they made coffee and helped her do fussing rounds. It helped them a lot. Maeve met a lot of people her family worked with and it was cool for the other two. When they were tired she took them back to the office. "I have no idea where the daycare is," she told Pepper.
She smiled. "They can come get them, Darcy, but they're by the infirmary." She paged down there. The workers came rushing up. "Did they escape?"
"Yes," one complained, scowling at them. "What were you doing?"
"They wanted to play with clothes," Darcy said. "So we sorted some colors and learned some new shades plus helped me do Dawn's fussing rounds."
"Awww. That's great." She looked at Darcy. "Half the lab is full of kid free people."
"We know but they were cute and complimented most everyone on something they were wearing. They stayed out of the way. I made sure of it."
"Thank you." They led them back down there. "It's snack time, girls." They squealed as they ran ahead. It was cookie day and they loved cookies.
Darcy winced, looking at Pepper. "Did I screw up?"
"No. The kids have wandered into most of the labs around here," she said dryly, smiling at her. "Most of them to learn from someone. Calia wandered around the labs from the time she was three on. She went into most of them to learn something from everyone. Mostly in song form."
"That's cute. I hope some day my Jane and Thor have some so I can fuss over them."
"You could," she said.
"Maybe but I can't find a decent guy if he was handcuffed to me."
"Dawn too for a while, then they were going to sacrifice her and had to go to Clint to take her virginity. They ended up working out really well."
"If I was a virgin I might, but I lost that back in high school." She shrugged. "Since then it's been a pointless but fun few nights every once in a while because most guys my age don't want to date and I'm not looking for a daddy figure."
Pepper laughed. "I got a lot of that until I let Tony finally do more than sexually innuendo me to death. I resisted a lot."
"Yeah, I don't have anyone to resist. I'm kinda seen like Jane's puppy sometimes." She sighed. "And if I date someone not near the tower's people then they get scared of Thor." She went back to her desk.
"Thor's scary," Tony said as he came up the hall. "Date a scientist."
"I can't. They don't even see the girl parts, much less the human. I almost dated an accountant that liked to skydive but then he heard I worked in the tower and got scared of someone like Rogers scowling at him for daring to date me. I pointed out I never saw Rogers unless he was in the lab. He decided he'd still do it and disappointing Captain America was the ultimate bad thing short of serial killing."
Tony smiled. "I'm hoping that works for Calia's future dates."
"Stark, you're scary enough to shoo off most teenage and twentyish guys," she said dryly, staring up at him over the rim of her glasses. "You won't need him or Barnes to threaten them unless they're shitheads with rophies."
"Then I'd let Natasha have them. She'd be more humane." He went into the office. "I got nineteen texts that Maeve has great color skills and really likes scarves."
"My fault," Darcy called. "Sorry."
"They needed it. A little mental break helps," Stark said. "If you see Liz, teach her normal girl things please. She really likes art but hates science."
"I can do that." She leaned over to look in the office. "Have you tried things like horse riding? Does she like animals like Calia?"
"Yeah, she might like that, but she also likes surgery shows and knives. So we won't let her ride horses yet and they say eight is a good age to start that."
Darcy smiled. "We can work on that." She sat back up and got back to work on the few things they needed to have done soon according to Dawn's email. Dawn claimed she was chained to the bed but she had a fussy set of spouses.
A few days later Darcy walked a pamphlet into Pepper's office. Pepper was stressed and pacing while on the phone. Pepper stared at her. Darcy held up the pamphlet. "I was going to take Liz if you allowed it."
She looked it over and nodded. "That's fine, Darcy. She might like that. She does like art."
"It has glass making and stained glass expos too."
"She'll probably really like that. Thank you for thinking about that. Take a security guy or Barnes with you please."
"I can do that. Need anything right now since this is tomorrow?"
"Our office in Asia to actually run right."
"Plan on doing an inspection sometime in a month without stating the day. See how fast things clear up."
Pepper smiled. "I like that idea." She took them off hold to tell them that.
Darcy walked out, going to find Liz in the daycare area. "Hey, shorty." Liz smiled at her from her fingerpainting. "I'm going to look at some art stuff tomorrow and your mom said we could go. Would you like to go with me?"
Liz beamed and nodded. "Please, Darcy?"
"I can do that."
"Ask Uncle Bucky?"
"We'll have him figure out who's going with us." She ruffled her hair then used her own hairband to pull hers back. "You got paint in your hair." She winked and strolled out before they got fingerpaint all over her.
Liz went back to her painting, happy with that idea. She loved art stuff.
Darcy went up to the family suite, knocking before sticking her head in. "Bucky?"
"He's in the security office," Tony called. "What's going on?"
"Pepper said I could take Liz to a folk art expo tomorrow." She smiled. "It's got stained glass and glass blowing demonstrations plus a lot of other older arts."
"She'd probably really like that." He smiled. "Nice."
"Thank you." She walked off, going to the security office. She walked in and made coffee then looked at the staring guys. "I'm taking Liz out tomorrow with Pepper's permission."
"We can arrange for the driver to be a guard, Miss Lewis," Bucky said from the back office. "Where?" She walked in there to hand over the pamphlet. "She'll probably like that but watch her for knives." He looked up at her. "She wanted to try surgery again last night and Chris had to take a knife from her."
"I can do that."
"Thanks. Take your tazer. Has Stark seen it yet?"
"No. Thor got it for me from Asgard. I'm his lightening sister." She smiled. "I tazed him when he fell in front of us and got mouthy." She strolled off.
He laughed. "That's cute. I can see Thor doing that." He looked up the event. It wasn't going to be highly populated but probably a good few people. He picked a guard to be a driver. One that knew about kids so he could help her keep track of Liz. She was a bit slippery.
Darcy felt the guys staring at her and Liz, looking down at the kid, then at the guard with them. He smiled and took Liz, picking her up. "Liz, let him for a few minutes," she said quietly. Liz looked around and put her head down with a yawn. "Thanks, little one."
"Hmm, need to smack that," a guy said behind them and hit Darcy on the ass.
She turned and hit him with her new pan. "I just wanted to get out of here with my new cast iron frying pan, but *no*, you had to prove your supposed manhood with an ass slap of someone that's not yours to touch. Didn't your mother teach you better than that?" she sneered. The guy's friends were laughing. "Not like you guys stopped him so you're the same sort of neanderthal this one is. It's no wonder the birth rate's falling, we women have to try to pick over the guys like you to find a real man." She looked at her pan then at the guy on the ground. "You dented my new cast iron frying pan, you putz. Not that it won't still work, they're meant to work even after beating someone, but still!"
"At least this one doesn't have magic," one of the guy's friends laughed.
Darcy looked at him. "No, I have a tazer instead." They backed off, hands up. "Go away and become real men for a change. It might be a nice thing for the world since right now you're only a stain and a strain on it." She shifted her bags and took Liz back with a smile. "Don't worry, by the time you're ready for a guy they'll be more mature. My generation's raising better boys for you to date." They walked off.
"Miss Darcy, can we look at the pretty things?" she asked with a point.
"Sure, pumpkin." They went over there and she let Liz down, holding onto her hand. "That's carved. You take knives and slowly whittle off wood to make the shapes. My grandfather did that," she said with a smile for the kid.
"That's who I learned from, my Grandpappy," the seller agreed, smiling at Liz.
"Daddy can make things like that," she said, looking up.
"Sure he can but doing it by hand makes it extra special, even if it takes longer. It's like eating store bought cookies instead of the ones you make at home."
"They are better," Liz agreed. "Is it hard to do? I like knives because the surgery shows say they're cool and necessary."
"It's not hard but you're about the right age to learn how to hold a knife. Here, watch me work on this pony figure." He settled on the table to show her what he was doing. She stared, mouth open. She looked up at Darcy, who smiled and nodded. "They make kits for little kids to learn on. You'd have to an adult watch out." Liz pouted, shaking her head.
Darcy leaned down. "Your Auntie Dawn would probably watch you, and so would Clint. They're not doing a lot. I'm pretty sure that Bucky would help you learn too. He probably knew how to do it."
"Oh." She blinked. "That might be nice since Daddy's always in the lab." She looked at the guy. "Do you sell the kits?"
"I don't but she does," he said with a point and a smile. "She sells wood you can learn on too."
"Thank you, Mister," Liz said. "You're very nice." She smiled and dragged Darcy over there. "The nice guy said you sell kits so I can learn how to carve stuff."
"I do," she said with a smile. "You're supposed to be seven."
Liz pouted. "I'm four."
"We can start with the simpler kit and she can add to it," Darcy said. "Just a few things? We've got plenty of people who'd watch her. Including her siblings. Calia does some crafty things."
"She weaves," Liz agreed, smiling hopefully. "Please?"
"I guess I can. Are you her mother?"
"I've seen a few like that. She'll need adult supervision."
"Of course. They're knives," Darcy agreed, smiling at her. They got Liz a small learning kit and some wood then went to look at the blown glass demonstrations. Liz stared in awe. Darcy stroked over her hair. "Your daddy deals with metals about the same way," she said quietly. "But it's not that different. You just don't bang out shapes, you blow or mold them."
"That's definitely a big girl thing. Even Calia can't learn how to do that with metal until she's a bit older. Then they're going to make her a car." She looked up at Darcy. "Is that hard?"
"It's sweaty work. You learn it like you do any other craft. It's something to look up online and watch until you're old enough to figure that out."
"I can do that." She watched them blow glasses, staring in awe. Darcy let her pick out a large marble full of swirled colors and bought it for her, then they went to look at the homemade food booths. Liz was nibbly and could use a snack. Darcy told her how you made a lot of those things. Then she bought her a few thumbprint jam cookies to nibble on. The guard got a few cookies too, making him smile at them. They walked over to look at the animals. Liz was kinda scared of the chickens but she cooed and tried to take home a miniature horse.
"You have to ask your parents, Liz," the guard said. "Horses, even miniature ones, take a lot more work than your sister's cats and dog."
"More than the rabbit?" she asked, looking up at him while petting the pretty one.
"A lot more and they need outdoor time," Darcy said. She pointed. "Rabbits poop a lot less too."
Liz looked and grimaced but kissed the tiny horse. "You're pretty cute. I want one of you some day."
"Your dad said when you're eight you get horse riding lessons if you want," Darcy said. They walked off. She pointed. "Those are goats."
"Goats can be mean. Uncle Thor's goats liked to beat each other up." She looked up. "They're at the temple."
"They're war goats. These are milk goats. They're probably less mean." Liz grinned, walking over to pet one with a nod from the keeper. "Thank you," she said.
Liz grinned. "Thank you. Oh, tiny cows! Are tiny cows ponies?"
"Tiny cows are calves," the goat keeper said with a smile. She clicked her tongue, bringing one over. "That one's pettable, little one." She petted it and cooed at it. Until it sneezed on her.
Darcy pulled her over to help clean her up. "Thanks."
"Thank you," she said with a grin and a wave. "Animals are cool. Even my sister's cats and dog and rabbit." They walked off, going back to the car so they could drive back to the office. She ran into the lab, bouncing around her father until he picked her up to cuddle.
"Why do you have slime on you?"
"The calves sneezed on me. But they were so cute!" she cooed.
Calia looked up from her circuit board. "I tried to talk Dad into letting me have more animals but he said we can't have a zoo because I wanted penguins. But a cow is single, calves are plural."
"Calf," Tony corrected. "Big cows are cows. Little cows are calf if there's one or calves if there's more than one."
"Then the calf sneezed on me but it was so cute and it let me pet it. So did the goat that was breastpumping. I got to pet a tiny horsy too, Daddy!" she squealed, hugging him around the neck. "It was so cute! I want horsies when I'm older."
"When you're old enough we can take you to riding lessons. If you get really good at it, we'll talk about a horse for you to ride. They'll let you take them when you're eight." She nodded, yawning in his ear. "What else did you see?"
"I saw them using glass like you do metal. We saw carving stuff. I got a kit so can you help me learn?"
"We'll have to look at that but probably." She beamed and nodded. Darcy walked in with Liz's bags. "Carving kit?"
"She was thrilled with the carving booth. We got her a small beginners kit so she could learn. She'll need adult supervision but I pointed out that if you were too busy others could and she could probably learn it with you, like Calia weaves stuff."
"Yeah, I can do that. I learned how to weave with Calia so I can learn how to carve stuff with Liz." He kissed her on the head. "The cow sneezed on her?"
"Yup. The calf did. It was a cute little thing, probably still on the bottle. The mama goat was being milked and we talked about how normal goats probably aren't as mean as Thor's goats."
Tony nodded. "Probably. His goats are a bit aggressive but they're warrior goats." He looked at Liz. "What else did you see?" She babbled about everything they had seen, and the guy that Darcy had slapped with the frying pan for being so rude and spanking her. Then she went back over the mean chickens and the cute cows and pony. Tony looked at Darcy. "You hit someone?"
"Yeah, he spanked me. I dented my brand new cast iron frying pan." She smiled. "Then I pointed out he needed to grow up and become a real man."
Tony shook his head. "Fine. Dawn does the same thing." He looked at Liz. "Did he try to spank you?"
"The nice guard picked me up to make sure he couldn't because I was being a good girl. I didn't deserve to be spanked. Neither did Miss Darcy. She was great today."
"That's great. I hope she's great most of the time." He kissed her on the head and put her down. "Go change your shirt and we'll have cookies?" She beamed and ran off to do that. He looked at Darcy. "Thanks."
"Welcome. She adored a lot of things. We went over how you made jams and stuff too. I bought her a few cookies."
"That's fine. She's a kid, they all like cookies." She smiled and left the bags there. He looked through them, nodding at what he saw.
Calia smiled. "It's great she's finding stuff she wants to do instead of the lab. Maybe she'll be a chef or something so we can go beg her to feed us."
"Maybe. She's good at that stuff." He carried the bags to Liz's rooms, taking the carving kit and wood to his for now. He gathered Liz and went to the caf to talk about what they had seen. Pepper came down to join them and she was more than happy to talk about the animals and homey crafts. Maybe Liz would do that instead of lab stuff.
Happy New Years.