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Changing Your Life.

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Story notes:
This had been on the list's archive as 'April nano challenge 2020'. That covered up to the end of part 3.
Note: Started March 29, 2020. Finished Nano goal in 4 ½ days of writing. Finished April 12th. Added second epilogue April 16th

Note 2: Madeline Canbary is not real. Isadora Duncan is actually real and a woman I look up to for her don't give a fuck attitude.

Note 3: There is talk of a past sexual assault and some healing from it mentioned in the story a few times. A forced heat situation. It is not graphic.



Changing Your Life.




Jane looked up as Darcy walked in carrying her fussy daughter. "What happened? Were they out of oatmeal?"

Darcy rolled her eyes. "Someone in the local confederation group got huffy that I'm not dating one of them. Told my daughter she was faulty. Even though she's a purebred." She put her down and pointed. "Go tell Aunt Jane." Aria pouted as she walked over to complain at Jane about stupid idiots.

Darcy sighed as she sat down. "Oh, and they're trying to fix me up with a mate in the local group." Jane scowled. "I know. I don't like it either. I can't see it going very well either." She smirked. "They're trying to force it though." She shrugged. "And I'm about to scale up and destroy things."

"Go for it," Jane said. "We'd all like that." She hugged Aria. "You're a good little dragon."

"Yes I damn well am," Aria agreed, pouting up at her favorite aunt.

"Language, young lady," Darcy quipped, but grinned at her little girl's moment of powerful.

Jane snickered at the little girl. "Go sit and play? Let your mom do data entry."

"Fine. I'll go talk to the old lady next door's Growlie."

"No talking to people's Growlies please," Darcy said patiently. "It creeps people out."

"Fine." She flapped a hand at her mother. "If you're sure." She went to get her stuffed wolf friend, given to her by Darcy's current boyfriend. "Is Mr. Paul coming over soon?"

"Not sure, kitten." Darcy shrugged. "I know he heard them complaining and me snarking back about him being a better man than the one they were trying to force on me." She took the files from Jane to get to work. She frowned. "Wasn't Ian doing some of this yesterday?"

"They're in the wrong boxes," Jane sighed. "Or space is suddenly twisted to eat itself."

"Fuck," Darcy muttered. "Is he doing that on purpose?"

"No idea but do try to reteach him."

"Gladly." She got into the files and went back farther to the last one she had done. "Shit." Her daughter hopped up to stare at her, eyes wide. "He messed up last month's too, Jane. I did April's and it looks right. All but two days and that may be explainable." She hugged her daughter to calm her down.

"Let me pull the files to make sure back to January. " Jane moaned but tossed down her pen, helping her grab those files from the boxes. Darcy settled in to check details and fix things. When Erik Selvig and Ian, the intern, showed back up with the measuring devices Darcy glared at them. Erik stepped back. "Not your doing," Darcy said bluntly. "Honey, let Uncle Erik read to you please?" Her daughter quit sitting on her lap to go ask Erik what he had been doing and why.

She motioned Ian over and pointed. "You messed it up. Again." He slumped. "All the way back to February. I don't know how," she said quietly. "But I don't have the time to redo all your work and the rest of the stuff I do." She stared at him. "So it will never happen again."

"As another note, if I get the wrong numbers input into the formula, I can create an explosion," Jane said without looking. "Which I would have done if I was building a new terminus like I had planned for this weekend." She glared at Ian. "If Aria filled in one day, and did it brilliantly, you should be able to do that, Ian." She handed Darcy a stack of notes she had made, letting Darcy put it aside for now. "How are we looking?"

"February is nearly done," Darcy said. "There's a few extra numbers in one area I'm not sure where they came from. It's not labeled." She stared at her. "The time codes it looks like?"

Jane came over to look, then shook her head. "Did I do that?"

"Not sure," Darcy said. "It's not on the notes." She looked at Erik. "Are the time codes important?"

"We had to take the multiple readings those days," he reminded them. "Due to that fluctuation. So there's probably a few for each day." Darcy handed him the notes. He marked lines between groups and handed them back with a grin then went back to telling Aria about the desert.

"Okay, I can understand that. Let me go up and do a bit of reformatting." She moved up to split cells under the same date to add those. "Did it start on the fifteenth? I remember we had something start then."

"It did but we didn't get extra readings until the eighteenth," Jane said.

"Okay." She could fix that and then move onto March's. Ian was pouty but oh well. She got finished later that night, after dinner and bath time, and saved everything down twice, once on the backup hard drive. Once on the online backup that was with a privacy company. Then she moved onto the other notes since her daughter was down for the night. At least she had managed to feed and bathe her. Some days, things were really hard being a single mom.

***

Darcy looked at the meeting she had been called to. "First, I don't care!" They all glared. "Second, she is from a mating cycle, people. Aria came to be because some little bitch at Culver decided to go around stealing suppressant patches. I went into heat suddenly in the middle of the damn campus. It's one reason why she died. She got me and another five of us."

They all hissed and winced. "So yes, my daughter is a pureblood dragon and I don't blame her father. With that sudden heat, he had no option to get away because he didn't know. I had no option of fighting it off because I couldn't get another patch thanks to her friends in low places. So yes, Aria came to be from a proper mating flight and her father has never been in her life."

"We had only heard of such incidences, not who was involved."

"That's the law," Darcy agreed impatiently. "To protect people. Third, fuck yourself," she noted, staring at the head of the local confederation council. "I don't need someone to decide who I'm seeing and when. I don't have time to baby another failed relationship while I'm working.

"Whoever it is, can fuck themselves too. I have a lot of my present time taken and no energy to want to deal with a whiny male who can't find his own mate. It's not good for my health, my daughter's health, and I'll be damned if I'm going to play damsel for *anyone*." She clapped her hands.

"I was there when the Dark Elves came and helped defend us all against them. I was there when Loki was attacking New Mexico, right up the street, and protecting some of the townspeople there. The phrase you're going to get is 'no thank you'." She turned and walked off. "And stay out of my relationship. If I want to date someone who isn't a dragon that's fine with me. At least *he* respects me and my daughter."

She let the meeting room door slam behind herself. She went to the daycare she and Jane had picked, smiling at the harried looking daycare worker. "Is the wetness from my daughter crying? Or the hair pulled mess from her?" she asked with a grin. "I figured you're looking frazzled due to Aria being a little bitch today. She had it earlier."

"No, the toddlers are throwing things," she said with a smile back. "Aria's been a dear all day, though she did show off her scales."

"She did what?" Darcy beamed. "My baby scaled up?"

"Oh, was that the first time? I should've taken pictures. I'm sorry."

"Nah," Darcy said with a hand wave and a grin. "She can do it at home for pictures. She's a year too early and I didn't expect that." She looked around the corner, waving at the kids. Aria squealed as she ran over to pounce her. "Hi, kiddo. Tell Miss Janice and Miss Brenda thank you."

"Thank you for watching me today, Miss Janice. Give Miss Brenda a hug for me?"

"Of course I will, Aria. Next time, please don't eat other people's oatmeal?"

Darcy looked at her. "You had breakfast."

"Oops. I got nibbly, Mommy."

She sighed. "Should I replace some?"

"No, it was baby oatmeal."

Darcy nodded, giving her a pat on the arm as she carried Aria off. "Thank you."

"You have a good day, Miss Janice," Aria called with a wave and a grin. "Oooh, Turtle!" She got down and went to get her stuffed wolf friend, bringing it back. "Here we are." She hopped a few times until Darcy hauled her back up to put on her hip. "Are we going to see Auntie Jane?"

"Yup, I had to call off work for a meeting with the local confederation." She looked at her daughter. "If they come near you again, you yell really loudly."

"Are they being dumb bunnies?" she demanded.

Darcy nodded. "Yup, they sure are." She carried her back to Jane's apartment, tapping before walking in. "Go get one single granola bar. Then come show us your scales, Princess." She squealed to get one, coming out nibbling it, and handing Jane one.

"You are just like your mother sometimes," Jane said, grinning at her. "What did you do today?"

"She stole some oatmeal and managed some scaling up." Darcy sat down and pulling out her phone. "Okay. Let's see, Princess Kitten." Aria wiggled out of her shirt and concentrated real hard, scrunching up her nose. Then scales popped out. "Oooh, you're blue! That's sweet!" She had taken film.

"That's really pretty," Jane said, giving her a hug. "Still under your skin too so not so scratchy. Good job!"

She smiled at Ian, who nodded. "They're very pretty, Aria. I know that's an important point to hit. Good job."

"Thank you, Ian." She put back on her shirt, letting her scales fade. Darcy put up her phone and gave her a hug. "Was my daddy blue?"

"Brown. You know most dragons are their eye colors." She stared at her.

"Then why aren't you?"

She winked and tweaked her nose. "That, my darling, is a secret. Just like your eyes are green." Aria blinked at her then ran to the mirror to check. Then she ran back to pounce her mother again.

"Why is that?" Ian asked.

"The dragon color overrides your natural eye color. Most of us have our eyes change color to our dragon scale color when we start to manifest." She smiled. "It's a family trait sort of thing for her to have a different one."

"Oh, that's different," Ian said, turning back around to get back to work. "How did that meeting they summoned you to go?"

"They're still trying to set me up with someone local." She looked at Jane.

"We're probably moving in three months." Ian moaned, staring at her. "Norway. Huge observatory there." She looked at Darcy again. "So she'll need some snow stuff."

"She has some leftover from winter. We can get more as she grows." Darcy looked at her, getting a nod back. "Okay, you and Turtle the wolf play for a few while I do Jane's typing." She sat down with her coloring books and her stuffed wolf. Ian got up with a sigh so she sat down to look at the forms. She looked at him and motioned him over, pointing at things.

"These two are switched on the tables due to screen room needed," she said quietly. "And that's this column," she said with a point. He groaned, taking the laptop to fix all that. Darcy used the tablet she had to organize a few things Jane needed and answer Jane's email. "Oh, Jane. Stark wrote." Jane held out a hand to get the tablet. "Is it good news?"

Jane smiled and nodded. "We've been offered a spot in the tower working on the bridge project. Fully funded." Ian beamed at her. "But we have to leave next week."

Ian winced. "I need to be here for another semester."

"We need to talk to Erik quickly," Darcy said, calling his apartment. "Erik, me. Come over immediately, there's an offer on the table." She hung up. "He's actually putting on pants for this." Erik Selvig opened the door a few minutes later, he only lived up the hall.

"Hi, Uncle Erik."

"Hi, Pumpkin. What offer?" Jane showed him. He read it over, then smiled at her. "That's a serious move up, Jane. Fully funded means new machines."

"I know," she said happily. "And Ian has to stay through this semester and next."

"I'm not being moved for another six months," he said, looking at Ian, who nodded he could work with him. "Is Darcy going?"

"I'd turn it down if she doesn't," Jane said. "I'd starve to death without her." Aria giggled, hugging her. "Let me answer him back." She sent back an email message about her wanting to go, but she did have Darcy and Darcy's daughter as her lab helpers. She had Erik, who had to be here for six months, and Ian, who had to be here for college time for about seven months. But she and Darcy would love to move immediately with Aria.

"Jane, mention the thing," Darcy said quietly, staring at her. "Just in case we run into a bigoted ass."

"Oh, yeah." She sent that as a second email with 'Darcy reminded me to note that she's a scaled shape changer and so is her daughter, who is three'. She got back an email after that one saying that shape changers were fine with him. Darcy had already passed a SHIELD background check. Aria looked cute in the pictures. And did she need a room in her apartment for them.

"He's offering housing but only if you live with me," she said, looking at Darcy, who shrugged. "I'm not against that." She noted that was a good thing, Darcy made sure she ate and slept. Tony replied that was a good thing and they could be brought over in a week. He included the scheduled flight and movers coming times. "We have to pack! The movers come in five days, we leave in seven."

"So an overnight bag," Darcy agreed. "Let me finish this and I'll start."

"I can start with the equipment," Ian offered, moving to do that. Erik came to help. Darcy finished up the rest of the emails and data entry Ian had abandoned, then went to pack up hers and Aria's stuff. There wasn't that much of it but she also had to tell her boyfriend, who pouted a lot. He wanted one last date so they went out that night with him. Aria slept on his couch while she and the wolf shape changer had a lot of messy, loud fun in the bedroom.

***

Darcy got out of the car first, looking around. "Guards," she said quietly. "Okay." She held out a hand, helping Jane's bag out then Jane. Then Aria got unbuckled and got out with their bag. She had decided it was her job to guard the bags so they let her carry the lighter one. Jane's had her laptop and a few other things that hadn't gotten packed. They got the single suitcase out of the backseat and Darcy took Aria's hand to walk into the tower behind Jane.

Jane smiled as they made it to the guard desk. "I'm Dr. Jane Foster, we're supposed to be starting work tomorrow. This is my assistant Darcy Lewis." She pointed. "And her daughter."

"We don't have anything on tomorrow's shifts," the guard said.

"We're also supposed to be sharing an apartment," Darcy said.

They looked there and found them, letting the head of the guard unit come talk to them. Darcy nearly scaled up to hiss at him. SHIELD and an idiot. "Oh, look, it's him, Jane."

Jane stared. "Wow, they took you from stealing my equipment to head of security?"

The guy sighed, staring at them. "Not exactly. Ladies, let's get your passes done." He looked at the cleared throat then down. "Who're you? I don't have you in my records."

"I'm Aria, I'm three, and if you're a jack booted thug, Auntie Jane will probably swear at you. She does that," she said, looking totally serious.

He nodded. "She has once already." Aria grinned at that. "Let's get the passes done so you can go to your lab tomorrow, ladies." He took them to his office. "Doctor Foster, were you supposed to have more than a two-bedroom?"

"I noted Darcy has Aria. We can make do. We had worse in London."

Aria looked at her mother. "Does that mean I need to sleep on a cot again?"

"We'll look and see. I can probably get you a real bed." Darcy patted through her hair. "You need a brush."

"Yuck! I hate brushes!"

"Tough." She grinned, handing the one in her bag over. "Please use it." Jane snickered but did fix her hair before the picture for her pass was taken. Aria didn't need one, but she did get an ID bracelet for the tower so she could be tracked if necessary and it would let her onto certain elevators. They got taken up to the apartment and Jane paused in the doorway. "This can't be ours. That's not our stuff." She got out of the way.

"This is the suite JARVIS noted as yours. Let me call that in, Dr. Foster." He called that in and got told she was on the single bedroom floor. "No can do, her assistant and daughter are staying with her. No, assistant's daughter."

"We made sure Tony Stark knew that when we took the offer," Jane said patiently, staring at Darcy, who shrugged.

A man in a dirty tanktop and jeans came off the elevator. Aria stared at him oddly, head tipped to the side. "Ooh, a kitty, Mom." The guy stared at her. She smiled and waved. "Hi, I'm Aria, I'm three."

"And you have manners," Darcy sighed. "Sorry. She likes to meet new people. I'm Darcy and this is Dr. Jane Foster. I'm her assistant and my daughter is mine."

The guy smiled. "That's cute, kid." He shook her hand. "I'm Clint." She grinned at him and nodded. "And I'm not fully a kitty. I can't change."

"Well, that blows chunks," Aria said. "That's mean of your body. It should be nagged like Mom does Auntie Jane."

The guard guy was trying not to laugh. "They said they put her here."

"I don't think so," Clint said. "That's that British guy who hates everyone's apartment." Darcy let the door close. "Let's see." He video called someone on his phone. "Doctor Foster and her two assistants are here," he said. "And there's a housing snafu. Where did you originally put her?"

"Floor 54, room 8," he said, reading it from the email.

Clint looked. "That's the sneering British guy's place."

"Crap. Let me look. Take them to the caf?"

"Oooh, does that mean snacks?" Aria asked, looking up at her mother. Who nodded. "Please? I'll let you guard the bags."

"It's about time for snacks, yeah. I can let you eat something that's not jerky for a few minutes." Aria hugged her around the stomach with a grin. She looked at Jane, who nodded. "Yeah, we can hit the caf. Jane could always use coffee."

"Then we'll do that," Clint said, taking them down there. A few people looked as they walked in.

"This is Dr. Jane Foster," Darcy announced with a point. "Please don't ask her stuff before coffee?" That got a few snickers and Aria was introducing herself to each of the cafeteria workers. She sighed. "Aria."

"Sorry, I'm being polite, Mom." She got handed a nice plate. "Thank you!" Darcy got her own snack and paid for theirs while Jane got her own. They sat down with Clint, her humming while she nibbled. "They make very good vegetables, Auntie Jane. You should have some too. Veggies make you strong and grow bigger," she quipped.

"I don't think I'll grow any more," she said, staring at her. "You're a mini version of your mother today."

Aria grinned. "Only the best genes!" Clint burst out laughing but nodded and patted her on the head. "Don't make me use a brush again, please. I hate brushes."

"I won't, kitten. Your hair looks good." Aria grinned at him and patted his arm then went back to eating. He looked at Darcy. "She's so cute."

"Most of the time," she agreed with a nod and a grin. "Some days...." Jane nodded at that.

Tony walked in and sighed. "Pepper's assistant is an idiot."

"No comment," Clint quipped. "Tony Stark, this is Dr. Foster." He pointed. "Her assistant Darcy Lewis, and Darcy's daughter Aria."

"Hi, I'm three," Aria said with a smile and a wave.

Jane looked at her. "Why do you tell people that?"

"So they can either be really amazed that I'm super good or annoyed that I have a good word sense." She grinned and ate a piece of broccoli.

"I hadn't thought about that," Jane admitted. "Some three-year-olds can barely speak and you do speak well." She looked at Tony. "So, do we need to apartment hunt suddenly?"

"No. We have you two adults in two one room apartments beside each other. We can add a door later this week."

"Does that mean I have to sleep on the couch?" Aria asked.

"We can figure that out," Darcy said patiently. "I might sleep on the couch since you snore so much." She scowled at her mother. "You do."

"I do not! That's all lies! Uncle Erik said I purr in my sleep, not snore."

Jane looked at her. "Dragons don't purr."

"Bullshit," Darcy said. "But we have to be in a state of contentment." Tony sat down, staring at her. She grinned at him. "Hi."

"You're a dragon?"

"We're both dragons. Is that a problem?"

"No. Not in the least. We only have three other shape changers on staff, two in security who're more furry. One in the labs who's a bird if I remember right. We do not discriminate, Lewis."

"Thank you. Will the local daycare nearest to here?"

He pointed upstairs. "Floor twenty-one. And no, they don't. They do have someone who comes in once a week to help a kid who'll change into a cat of some kind. He got stuck last year."

"I just scaled up for the first time the other day," Aria said proudly. "I'm blue."

"That's cool, kiddo. We'll make sure it's safe for you."

She stood up on her chair to stare at him. "Mommy will taze someone," she said very seriously.

Darcy poked her so she sat down to eat again. "Yes I will." Clint grinned at that. She grinned at Darcy. "She's been around other types of changers in the past. I was dating a wolf changer while we were in London. She doesn't spend much time around other dragons at times, because the confederation council in London was full of egotistical assholes, but she's been around a lot of us."

"That's actually a great thing. We can get her set up in the morning since it's nearly three." He looked at her. "Do you like daycare?"

"It's neat playing with other kids. And running around playing tag. I can't do that around the lab, it'll break Auntie Jane's machines."

Tony nodded. "I can see that. It'd break my robots too."

She blinked a few times. "What're robots?"

He grinned. "We'll show you tomorrow while you help your aunt and mom set up their new lab." He winked and looked at Darcy. "Do we need to take any precautions? Extra fire system?" he asked quietly. "I ask because I have no idea," he said at her opening mouth.

"Most of us these days don't breathe fire unless we're in battle mode. Now, she's a toddler and battle mode sometimes happens over bath time." She stared at her daughter, who stuck her tongue out. She smiled at Tony again. "She shouldn't be able to do that until after puberty though."

"Okay, then I won't worry about getting some installed really fast to protect her." He grinned. "We can put a door between yours and Jane's apartment, Lewis. That way you can still nag her." He tapped the table. "We all eaten up?" Aria hurried to finish her vegetables and Jane finished her danish and coffee. They went up to the new apartments. Their stuff was already in there.

Aria got to dance around her boxes of toys. Darcy's closet was unpacked. They went to Jane's to find her unpacked and all the kitchen stuff over there. Darcy set up the coffee maker for Jane while Aria helped Jane figure out where to put pictures. Tony hung out with Jane to talk about her work and where she was going, with Aria 'helping' them.

Darcy looked up at the sound of sudden thunder. "Jane, Thor's here."

Aria squealed. "Can I go pounce him?" she asked Tony, who nodded and sent up permission for her to do that. She ran for the elevator, which had been instructed to bring her to Thor and only to Thor. She ran off the elevator squealing already, ducking around a few bigger people's legs to pounce him. "THOR!"

He blinked a few times. "Aria?" She grinned and nodded at him. "Is your mother here?"

"And Auntie Jane. Ian and Uncle Erik are back in London for another six months or so and then we'd have to see." She hugged him. "I missed you telling me stories, Uncle Thor!"

"I missed telling them to you. Let's go greet your mother and aunt." He grinned at the staring people. "She is the daughter of Jane Foster's assistant, who is like my sister." He carried her off talking to her about the trip they had done earlier.

One of the guys grinned and waved a hand. "Jane Foster just signed on. Darcy's her assistant and Aria's her daughter." The others just nodded. "She's adorable though." Clint grinned brighter. "She introduced herself to everyone and told them she was three so they'd be amazed she was so well spoken."

"She seems sweet," Steve Rogers agreed with a nod and a grin. "A bit loud but she's little. And fast." He looked at Natasha, who just nodded she agreed.

Thor knocked on the door and Darcy answered, grinning and letting him in. "Darcy!" He hugged her around the kid clinging to him. He walked over to Jane to kiss her. "I was going to be back tomorrow. You saved me much travel." He kissed her again, making Aria giggle and wiggle to get down.

She looked at Tony. "They don't need my help for that." She bounced into the kitchen to help her mother. "Are we baking? You promised we could bake!"

"We can bake dinner," she promised, smiling at her. "We have all the stuff we need for a casserole."

Aria scowled. "What's that? That sounds weird, Mom. We don't like weird food."

"The stuff in the dish with cheese and crunchy bits."

"Oh! We like that. Even Auntie Jane does." She washed her hands and climbed up onto the counter by pulling out a few drawers to stand on, then got to work mixing for her mother. "Mr. Tony, would you like to help us bake?"

"I can come talk. I have no idea about kitchen things, kitten." Aria grinned at him and let him hold the bowl for her while Darcy chopped things.

Someone knocked so Aria hopped down and ran to the door to open it, staring at the woman there. "Hi. Did you come to meet my Mom and Auntie Jane too? I'm Aria."

"Pleasure to meet you, Aria." She held out a hand and the girl shook it. "I'm Pepper and I was looking for Tony."

"He came to meet my mom and Auntie Jane. He's helping us bake and you can too if you want." She smiled and let her in.

Darcy leaned out. "She's in Thor land for a minute," she excused. "Should I add more to dinner?"

"No, I was supposed to take Tony out tonight." She smiled at him. "Pepper Potts."

"Darcy Lewis." She waved a hand. "Cutting onions."

"Then I don't mind if we don't shake." She smiled at Aria then at Jane and Thor, sighing. "Thor, you're in public."

"Sorry," he said. "Didn't meant to make a spectacle." He stepped back, smiling at Jane then at Pepper. "Oh, you've come for Anthony. This is my beloved, Jane Foster."

"Pleasure," Pepper said, smiling and shaking her hand. Jane grinned back. "Do we need anything to settle in?"

"Just an opening between the two apartments," Tony quipped. He patted Aria on the head. "I need to help Pepper get pretty, kitten. We're going on a date."

"Mommy does that sometimes with Mr. Paul, but some dragons got snotty about it and I nearly mooned them but that would've been mean to do in public so I didn't."

He smiled. "Sometimes, people do deserve to be mooned but not in public. That way not everyone can see your butt." He patted her on the head. "I'll see the big two people tomorrow in the lab. You have fun at daycare." He smiled and left with Pepper.

"Have a good night," Aria called after them. "Make happy noises when you show her candy things!" Darcy cleared her throat. "You do when Mr. Paul gave you some."

"Um, yeah. But that's just a me thing, Aria. Try for some tact?"

"That's so *boring*, Mom!"

"Yup, but an important life skill. Like tying shoes are."

"Shoot."

"And no mooning," Jane reminded her. Aria huffed but nodded, climbing back up to help her mother. She looked at Thor, who just grinned.

***

Darcy walked Aria into the daycare, smiling at the woman waiting on her. "Hi, I'm Darcy Lewis, and this is my spawn Aria."

"You're only calling me a spawn because I wouldn't let you brush my hair," Aria complained. She smiled. "Hi, I'm Aria, I'm three!" She held out a hand. "Who're you?"

"I'm Eliza Nomady. I head the daycare, Aria." She smiled as she shook her hand. "You're very well spoken."

"Thank you." She grinned.

Darcy nodded. "Often," she agreed. "And as certain of things as any teenage girl." Eliza laughed but nodded. "Can we look in her room so I know where it is?"

"Of course." She led her that way. "Is that her special stuffed friend?"

"This is Turtle the wolf. Mr. Paul was dating Mommy and he gave me Turtle." She held it up. "He's a good wolf."

"That's great. We can make sure you don't lose Turtle, Aria. And keep someone from stealing it for a nap." She patted her on the head. She looked at Darcy. "In the spirit of disclosure, we do have to tell you that a few shape changers are among our students."

Darcy grinned. "Now you've got another one; she just scaled up for the first time last week."

"I'm blue," Aria said with a smirk.

"Even better, dear." She smiled. "We do have a specialist who comes in weekly to work with a few of the other shape changers if you wanted to meet him to see if he can help you with your special changing exercises."

"Two more years," Darcy said. "She's naturally easy at it, the same as I was. My mother said that I changed fully my first time at seven. She came in to wake me up and found a tiny curled up dragon snoring."

"Dragons do not snore!" Aria said firmly, glaring at her. "Grandma lied!"

"Dragons do snore. We both snore, daughter." She looked at Eliza, grinning. "I have it on video to prove it." She nodded, patting Darcy on the arm. "Yeah, if she wants to learn the meditations, that's fine with me. It won't hurt her and maybe she'll use it to focus herself when she's bounding off around Jane next time." She looked at her. "What's the rule?"

"No bouncing in the lab in case I tip over the all important coffee or one of the machines and it creates a portal that will eat me," she sighed. "But I was in the kitchen, not the lab, Mommy."

"You still nearly spilled the coffee."

"I apologized and cuddled!"

"You did and I'm proud I didn't have to remind you." She smiled, petting over her head. "Try to straighten out your hair today if you won't let someone brush it for me?"

"Brushes suck. I need less hair."

"We can take pictures for Grandma, who insisted I not trim your hair until next year and then find a cute haircut." Aria beamed and nodded. "You get to tell her though."

She flapped a hand. "Grandma will be happy because she knows I hate brushes." She looked at the daycare room, oohing. "Blocks, Mom."

"You go ahead with those blocks, sweetie." She ran in there to sit with Turtle in her lap and build something. Darcy grinned at her. "She's great but she's very well spoken at times."

"I noticed and that's fine. We have a few prodigies who've come through here. Come do the paperwork?" She nodded, coming to the office to do that. She noticed a few things left blank. "No father?"

Darcy cleared her throat. "We're not together. I'm actively dating." She heard her daughter cry and got up to look. "Aria?" She sniffled. "What did you do?"

"My ankle popped again, Mom."

She went to check it, then got her brace from the diaper bag. "Here. Let's put on the brace." Aria pouted but nodded. "There." She kissed her on the head. "All better?"

"Mostly better. Can I have chocolate milk?" she asked Eliza.

Who nodded and got her some. "A recent injury?"

"Last year someone tried to snatch us to get Jane," Darcy said quietly. "It broke her ankle and the muscles had to heal. They're strong enough usually but now and then that one still can pop out of place. She's growing out of it by next year they said." That got a nod and a note made. "She knows how to put on the brace and what to do to make it go back in. If not, call me and I'll come down to help if I'm anywhere nearby."

"We can handle that and make sure her bracelet has a tracking dot," she promised with a smile. Darcy grinned back. Aria was sipping her milk while talking to her stuffed friend and building with the free hand. A few other kids came in so she blinked at them, gulping her milk to go talk to them. The other kids were nice to her so that was good. "She'll handle it well I think." She shook Darcy's hand. "We'll call if we need you and you'll call if you're going to be later than six."

"She's been around Jane's lab since I met Jane so I'll set a reminder to come down between four and six to get her. Aria, love you."

"Love you too, Mom! Have fun with Auntie Jane!"

"You have fun with Turtle." She winked and left her there, going up to the lab floor. She nodded at the guard at the elevator when she got off. "Hi, Darcy Lewis, Dr. Foster's assistant." She could smell this one was another dragon shifter.

"Rumlow, STRIKE commander," he said, holding out a hand. She shook it. "She's already complaining about how things are sorted."

"Jane's a bit picky about her lab. Have a nice day." She went that way, walking in and sighing. "Let's get the dolly so we can move things, Jane. They're too heavy to shift by hand. Do we have a dolly or something to shift things easier?"

"Two," Jane said with a point. "Is she okay?"

"She's fine. Her ankle popped. I had to explain about that injury due to kidnaping." She shrugged. "She's got her brace, her Mr. Turtle, and the new kids to get to know. She was fine. Begged for chocolate milk."

"She does milk that ankle for chocolate milk," Jane agreed with a nod. They got to work on the lab's set up and restructuring. By the time Aria had to come up they had most everything in place and started. Aria helped by pushing the dolly for them when they weren't using it.

***

Jane looked at Darcy's fiddling at her desk, shaking her head. "Etsy orders?"

"Yup. Special orders." She grinned then went back to hiding data devices in everyday objects. And some not every night objects. She looked at Jane's hidden backup drive that was on a shelf. It was in a little collectable pop bobble head figure. This new one was going into some dildos. No one would want to search them for data devices. They hadn't when SHIELD had tried to steal all of Jane's science back in New Mexico.

The agents had totally passed over the vibrators and mint box that had held data devices. Darcy had a lot of fun making little data devices out of odd things. And they did pay for the bills at times. Jane had appreciated that some of her data had been saved from the jackbooted thugs when Darcy had told her she had the backups hidden. She was getting a lot of geeks ordering fangear with data devices. Darcy bought them, or had someone send her one if they were specific about what type, and then fitted the data device inside with a way to upload to it.

The current vibrating one was sent in by someone, who had specially ordered it. It was a pretty one, all swirled and textured, and a bit weird, but hey, whatever floated your boat. The chemist who had ordered it had made sure she could still use it regularly and as a data device, and had wanted bluetooth capabilities. One of the easiest drives to insert. Then she'd make a few general ones for the regular sales.

Stark leaned in. "Is that some special talisman that makes her science work, Lewis? You creeped out a guard who saw you carving on it."

"No." She grinned and waved him in. "It's for my etsy shop. I make hidden data drives." She smirked and showed him. "USB and bluetooth this time. She wanted this model she sent to me filled."

He nodded slowly. "Can you still plug that in?" She showed him on her laptop, letting him see it was recognized. Then the device was pulled off and the base cap reapplied. Though Darcy took it off to put a rubber ring to keep any moisture out of it then put it back together. He blinked at her. "Why?"

"A lot of people want hidden backup drives, especially in the science fields. This one will go to a chemist. I've been making hidden drives for myself since my last year at Culver. It's saved some of Jane's work too." Jane nodded from her desk without looking. She grinned. "It keeps the kid in oatmeal."

He patted her on the shoulder. "Remember, you get a salary now so you can cut down on making cutesy things." He looked around the lab then left her to it. That was a weird idea that a lot of geeks he knew might really like. He looked up her etsy shop and sent it to Pepper and Rhodey. They both sent back they were cute and hidden, so a good idea if he wanted to talk to the crafter about getting one.

Darcy finished cleaning up that one and packaged it up for shipping. They had a mailing center down by the daycare so she could ship it out later.

***

Darcy looked at the new doctor with Aria. He was a dragon specialist. He was also a jackass. "You aren't the one I came to see," she noted patiently. "And I don't want you near my daughter. She's actually seen Dr. Simpson in the past after we nearly got kidnaped and her ankle got ripped."

"I'm an adult doctor," he said firmly.

"And mine is in Virginia, and knows Dr. Simpson as he referred her to him." She smiled slightly. "And I'm not changing. Thank you anyway. Will Dr. Simpson be here soon?" He scowled. She stared back.

"I think we need to talk about your use of suppressants."

"I think if you start that talk with my daughter in the room you're going to go flying out that window," she said with a point. "She is three and does not need to talk about such things for a few years. We are only here to see Dr. Simpson about her ankle. It's a routine check on a former injury. When will he be here?" She stared at him.

"It's not healthy...." Darcy let out a growl and he fled the room.

Darcy sighed, looking at her daughter. "If someone starts that talk with you..."

"I know, yell loudly about them being stupid," Aria quipped, grinning at the nurse coming in. "He pissed off my mommy talking about adult things in front of me. Is Dr. Simpson nearly here? It's been a really long wait."

"He's actually a bit confused why he hasn't seen you yet, Miss Lewis. Let me get him." She looked at Darcy, who grinned and nodded. "Are you calmer?"

"He started to nag me about those sup's in front of her."

"Oh! Yeah, I would've growled too." She went to get the doctor, who came back in with the nurse. "Here we are."

"Hi, Dr. Simpson," Aria said with a happy grin and a wave. "My ankle popped three days ago when I started daycare, I was sitting funny while I built with blocks. I put on the brace though."

"That's what usually needs to be done. Let me see the ankle, Aria?" She put her foot out for him. He gently felt around her foot and ankle up to her knee then back down. "It's healing well but still a bit weak. We may want to put her in some physical therapy, Darcy."

"I can do exercises at home with her. I'm not sure about health insurance at the new job yet. We only started three days ago."

"That's reasonable. We can do that." The other doctor stomped in and he rolled his eyes. "So far, this injury thanks to that attempted kidnaping is healing well," he told Aria. "I want you to start doing some stretching things to help make it stronger though."

She nodded. "I can do that. I do stretches most mornings now. It's important to exercise."

"It is," he agreed, smiling at her. "Okay, we're going to do three new exercises. One, I want you to stand up." He put her on the floor. "Go up to the balls of your feet," he showed her and she followed. "Okay, hold it for a second, then relax back down." She did that and sighed, nodding. "Do that twice a day, ten times each, and in a few months go up to twenty a day by fives. So in a few months you do fifteen, then you do twenty." Darcy was making notes. "Got it?"

"I can do that. It hurts a bit."

"It'll do that at first, and then it'll hurt less as you do it. I want you to do twirly stretches." He lifted a foot to show her. "Just like that. Go for about five minutes at a time. Or a good commercial break if you do it while watching cartoons." She did that and nodded, wincing once. "I know, it'll get better." She nodded. "When it's a bit stronger and those don't hurt, I want you to work on moving your foot back with something like a jump rope. Your mom can show you that one in a few months."

"Just like flexing back to flat foot and then relax?" Darcy asked.

"Exactly. You can do that one also if you want to do some leg or knee lifts too. Her knee doesn't feel too weak but I'd like to make it a bit stronger. Also, any walking is good."

"She runs and dances all day," Darcy said dryly, nodding but smiling at her little girl. "Should we look into something like baby yoga? That was suggested by someone else in another lab. Her daughter goes because she had poor balance."

"I wouldn't be against it. It won't hurt her definitely. If she likes it, great, it'll probably help her when she starts school." He patted Aria on the head with a smile. "You've healed very well."

"Thank you for fixing me when the mean idiots tried to take me." She hugged him around the waist with a smile. "You're a good doctor."

"Thank you, Aria. Go ahead back to your mom." She climbed back up on the table, wincing at her ankle but she put back on her brace with a sigh. He checked and nodded. "Just a bit weak. It'll get stronger." He patted her on the cheek then looked at Darcy. "Howard is retiring next year."

She nodded. "Anyone I'll like up this way who isn't the person who tried to talk about sup's near my three-year-old daughter? Specialist or regular."

Dr. Simpson glared at his colleague, then smiled at Darcy. "Liker."

"I've heard about him. He's not confederation council suggested."

"No but he's a great doctor and doesn't complain if you are one of them, Darcy."

"Okay. Can Dr. Ambersin refer me?"

"I'll talk to him myself tonight about that. Are you going to be local for a bit?"

She shrugged. "Ask the Jane."

"I remember her. I'll let you two figure that out." He clapped her on the arm. "Good luck and have fun with her. There's a lot of fun things in the city for her to see." He and the nurse left, the nurse dragging the other doctor with her.

Darcy grinned at her daughter. "So that's good news. Just a bit of exercising. We can call Grandma tonight to let her know."

"Cool! I can talk to her about the haircut then too." She hopped back down with a wince, taking Darcy's hand to walk out with her. "Thank you, Nurse. You were very nice to us." The nurse smiled and handed her a sugar free lollipop. "Oooh. Thanks." She let out an evil little smirk.

Darcy rolled her eyes. "Thank you for the help." She shook her hand and checked them out, paying her copay. They went back to the tower, nodding at the guards as they walked in. She logged them into the building and up to their apartment, going over to Jane's from the door that had appeared that day somehow. "We have some exercises."

Jane looked up from sitting on Thor's lap. "That's a good thing though." She hugged Aria. Who hugged them both then went back to their own apartment.

Darcy winked and left them to hang out together. "Call your grandmother while I work on dinner."

"Okay!" She called and waved at her picture on the tv when the video chat came up. "Hi, Grandma!"

"Hi, Aria." She beamed at her. "Is that a doctor lolli?"

"It sure is. She had a checkup with Dr. Simpson to check her ankle." She smirked at the tv. "Just a few exercises."

"That's wonderful news." She stared at her granddaughter. "How are you liking the new daycare?" She settled in to babble at her grandmother about everything she had done recently. "Aww, that's sweet. Who was Mr. Paul?"

"Mommy's boyfriend. He was a grr changer."

Darcy rolled her eyes but nodded. "We left him back in London."

Her mother scowled. "You were dating a wolf changer?"

"Not like anything would happen if he accidentally bit me," she shot back with a smirk. "And he was good to us. Very nice to Aria, Mom."

"Fine. That's the important thing." She sighed. "I got a letter from the council in London about you being rude, Darcy?"

"Yup, they wanted to force me to mate to some ignorant little dweeb who couldn't get his own," she said dryly, staring at the tv again. "Thought Aria was a half blood too and called her that and unfortunate."

Her mother winced. "Oh, dear. No, she's not and that sort of feeling is an antique from a long, thankfully, gone era." Darcy hummed but nodded. "Well, I'll send them a nice response about their manners." She smiled. "And I got one from New York's confederation council asking about you."

"I can find my own dates, Mom."

"I know you can, dear. Thankfully not with Ian." She stared at her. "I'll have a talk with them about that idea as well."

"Please do. Before I have to." She gave the camera a pointed look. "Did I send you the video last week?"

"You did!" She smiled at Aria. "You're such a cute little dragon, sweetheart! So cute and blue!"

"Thanks, Grandma!" She smiled. "I'm getting a haircut! I hate brushes!"

"Can't you wait another year? For pictures maybe?"

"We took official pictures yesterday," Aria said with a smirk. "I hate brushes!" She ran to grab her mother's phone and brought it back to show the camera. "That's the haircut I want."

"Your mother had that haircut once but she didn't like it."

"I wanted shorter," Darcy agreed. "You hated it."

"Well, it is more feminine."

Darcy looked over. "She can go as short as she wants, Mom. It's her hair."

"Fine. Even if she does look like a little boy."

"She can still wear those sparkly headbands she liked until last month." She shrugged and got back to chopping vegetables. Aria changed pictures to show that one off.

"That's very short, Aria. I'd have to see how it looks on you."

"And if not, hair grows and she'll find a place where she's comfortable with it," Darcy agreed. She smirked at her mother's picture, getting an eyeroll back. Aria yawned. "Please do tell them that I don't need the help getting fixed up, Mom," she said patiently. "I'd hate to have to zap someone else so soon."

She nodded with a sigh at the end. "I'll be more polite."

"Mom, they may not understand anything but rude. If I have to go rude, I will."

"I agree, dear. You should. I'll handle it and tell them to leave you two be." She waved. "Have a good night, Aria. We love you." She hung up with a blown kiss.

Aria looked at her mother. "Is that confed...con..the council people going to do that to me too?"

"Nope. I'm a mother dragon for a reason, kiddo." She smirked. "They won't try it with you." Aria came over to hug her then went to the bedroom to play. Darcy had the full closets in there, but a pull out bed out here that pretended to be a couch. She wanted Aria to be safe in case someone broke in. She flexed her scales, then sighed as they went back in. She was still tense from the idiot doctor earlier.

***

Darcy accepted the letter with a grimace, staring at it. She was at work, it had been sent to the lab. It was from the local confederation council. She opened it and stared. "The fuck?" she demanded. Jane jumped, staring at her. She waved the letter. "Take my tazer from me please?"

Jane read the letter, shaking her head. "Nope. You might need it."

"Oh, I want it, but I probably shouldn't have it." She took the letter back, considering her options. She got up and smiled at her. "Pick up Aria for me please?"

"Gladly if they've kidnaped you. With the way they worded that, they might."

"I'd destroy everyone, Jane." She walked off grimacing. The guards got out of her way. "Not mad at you at least," she told one. Who just nodded and still got out of the way. She got an uber to the local council's building, walking in waving the letter. "How fucking dare you?" she demanded, staring at them. A few gasped. "How dare you try to make personal decisions for me. Try to *force* me to take in some whelp that never got taught enough manners to get his own mate. Hell no!" She stared at the head of the local council.

"I didn't allow it when London tried that stupidity. I'm not allowing it now. I will unregister myself and my daughter from all of this." She waved a hand around. "I will destroy what my great-grandmother created. Because she'd expect me to go to war over this bullshit. You do not come near me, not near my pureblooded daughter, ever."

She stared at the guard moving toward her. "I will end you. I wouldn't try it." He backed off. She looked at the Council again. "I don't care *why* you think I'm ready to settle down. I can date, people. I have dated a few very nice people."

"None of them were dragons," one sneered.

"You'd be wrong about that too. Just like you're wrong about my interest in someone who can't get a mate."

"Your daughter..."

"I was the last one of Sivilla's little patch stealing plots," she said dryly, glaring at them, making them back up. "Yes, I do adore my daughter. My purebloood daughter," she said plainly, staring at one, who was a doctor. "I don't give a goddess fucking damn who in the hell wants what. My life is my choice and I'm not going to be taken in as someone's *special mate* because they're desperate. I'm not lonely and I don't need that. If they do, let them hire one." She walked off. "Come near us again, people. Watch me stomp you all when I go to war."

"You've never been noted to have fully changed," that doctor sneered.

Darcy turned as she changed there to her lesser form. "Really?" She breathed fire at that one, making him scream as he lit on fire. He had to change to put himself out. He managed to get halfway changed. "You so sure of that?" She stared at each one. "Come near myself or my daughter again. Or Jane. Because I have no issues destroying what Grandma Russie started." She changed back, staring at them. "Feel lucky I used words this time." She walked off, huffing as she strode out.

"The international groups will stand up for us," the head of the council huffed. "She is not going to abuse our ways that way." The hallway dissolved and they all screamed and ran away.

Darcy stepped outside, calling her godmother. "Godmother Sephora, I need a temper keeper please?" She listened. "No, trying what London did. Some unattached whelp of a male who can't seem to find his own. Be damned if I'm going to be one of them." She looked behind her as the hallway disappeared.

"Huh, I didn't do that. Great." She listened. "No, the building partially dissolved. Could be Jane, yeah. Oh, Aria's blue, auntie." She grinned. "Yeah, that. I'm at the fuck that stage and thankfully I mostly used my words and warned them this was going to start a war. No, they seem to think Aria is less than good enough," she said sarcastically. "Which is why I don't like dating other dragons.

"Yup, them. London tried it too. Same name mentioned. Sure, I can send you that letter they sent me at work today." She took a picture of it and sent it over, then listened to her godmother read it and scream and rant. "Exactly. Oh, he's ...that's *charming*," she sneered. "Great." She looked at the SUV pulling up and glared at the agents getting out.

"It wasn't me who ate the building but I hope like hell they got eaten too." She listened. "Please, Auntie. I could use some temper easing and maybe a guard for Aria. It's going to get messy and I'm still struggling not to change back. No, I burned the doctor who tried to talk to me about suppressants in front of her. So fuck 'em all. Yup!"

She grinned. "Gladly! Please do. Oh, and can you send the sprout cookies of some kind? She complains mine aren't good enough anymore. Thanks, Auntie. No, agents. Have fun!" She hung up and looked at the staring agents. "What?" she demanded.

"What happened?" She held up the letter to let them see it.

One of them sneered. "All the council people are like damsels."

"Some of us just wanted some civility to end the tribal warfare going on," she said dryly. "That's why my great-grandmother started it in the US." They scowled at her. "She would've helped me destroy this mess. Grandma Russie was not a happy person when shit like this went on before. Which is why she created the Confederation Councils to stop it."

She shrugged. "Oh, and I hear that guy named has killed or somehow managed to lose nine other mates they did this to." She took the letter back. "Let me go check on my baby girl before I lose control of my scales again." She summoned an uber and got into it a few minutes later to go back to the lab.

The agents shared a look then went to investigate the building's attack. They'd figure out who she really was later. And end up asking Jane Foster if she had destroyed the building.

***

Jane looked up at the agent coming into her lab. "Why are you invading here?" she demanded calmly.

"We wanted to know if you were the reason that a building partially disappeared. Your assistant was seen telling them off."

"I wish I could claim it, but according to the machines it was magical in nature. I don't deal with that." Darcy walked in with her daughter. "What happened?"

"Their building lost a hallway." She looked at the agent. He smelled like a changer, a minor dragon. "Two blocks up is a hidden teacher of magic for changers. Go ask him or ask the Sorcerer Supreme."

Jane pulled up her data. "That's about when I noticed the twitch. Those two being high means it's magic, not scientific." She looked at Darcy. "I see scales."

"I warned them they were starting a war." She stared at her. "And I did burn one of them. They accused me of not being able to change."

"So, morons," Jane said with a nod.

"That doctor that tried to talk to me about the patches? Him."

"Eww, educated moron." Jane grimaced. "I hate that people like that get an actual education and never use it."

Darcy sat down, cuddling her daughter. "I was on the phone with my aunt when that happened, Agent dude. You can ask her." She pulled out her phone to get into that call information, holding it up.

"She's on the council in DC," the agent said.

Darcy grinned and nodded. "Yup. She sure is. My mother heads the one in our area." She smiled. "And you're discounting I'm a legacy." He winced but stepped back. "Grandma Russie started the councils because they were doing things like forced mating and tribal warfare." She smirked. "Watch me call her back from the dead, dude."

Aria looked up at her. "Can we do that?"

"Ask me sometime when there's no cameras or others, dear." She looked at the agent again. "Frankly, if I had destroyed it, the whole building would've went." She smiled. "And left the people. I don't like to hurt people unless I have to."

The agent nodded, making that note. "I'll pass that on, Miss Lewis." He looked at the kid. "Yours?"

Darcy nodded. "From that Sivilla bitch at Culver. It was recorded with her birth but I didn't get to do more than charge her. She was killed by the next one she tried. Aria's birth was recorded by our local council. If they had looked they would've tried it with some other poor, slightly literate young dragon damsel. Which I am not." She grinned. "I may not be the biggest bitch ever, but I am a mother."

"Understood fully, Miss Lewis. Can we ask that you not involve Lord Thor?"

Darcy looked confused. "Why would I? I'm not dating him."

"For protection of your daughter?"

"Oh, no, dear. I've already warned of a war coming. I flamed the ass of the guy who tried to talk to me about my patches in front of my daughter." He nodded, making that note. "But the hallway wasn't me."

Jane looked at her machines. "They put it back about twenty minutes ago. Or there was another magic surge at that time."

"We'll check that teacher and with the Sorcerer Supreme. Thank you and do let us know if you need help guarding her? SHIELD would not want that war."

"Actually, one of them tried to start one last year by kidnaping the three of us to get me," Jane said with a smirk. "Pity."

"You can tell those morons that I'm withdrawing my confederation council membership for the area. I'll belong to the one at home instead. The New York one can ignore that we exist."

"I'll put forward that solution, Miss Lewis. Thank you." He went to make that report. He found the director waiting with Captain Rogers, wincing at the staring at him when he walked in. "The hallway disappearing was apparently not her. Doctor Foster showed me a recording of the event that pointed at magic and it may be back now. Miss Lewis has warned that she will start a war over her daughter, and apparently flamed one of them who was rude to her the other day as well as today." He tried to look upbeat. "And she's a legacy."

Director Fury winced. "What sort?"

"She called her Grandma Russie."

"So the one who actually pushed to have the confederation councils started to stop the forced selling and mating of young females and to stop the old wars."

"Apparently, yes. Also, be aware she called her aunt, who is in DC."

Fury winced. "Alinadra?"

"Sephora by the contact information name, sir."

"Fuck! Their mouthpiece and the Oprah of dragons!" Fury said, making a few agents flinch. "What the hell?"

"Sir, she admitted that her daughter's birth was recorded with her home council and apparently there's something in there that was partially covered up. Something about an unintended heat...."

"Sevilla," another agent sneered. "She was pushing to take away everyone's suppressants, and got a few away from some women who couldn't get a new one thanks to her friends and cohorts so they went into unintended heats. One of them killed her by stomping her into a greasy spot on Culver's campus. Where is Lewis from?"

"Lewis and Foster are both Culver alumni," Darcy said from the doorway, still holding her daughter. She held up the letter. "Take a photocopy for evidence. Aunt Sephora said he's *misplaced* nine mates the local Council let him take. All on file with the local Council."

Fury took it to read and nodded, getting a copy of that. "He's under investigation."

"Great. I don't want him near me or her." She stared at him. "Oh, and that doctor... Pity about his burns." She grinned. "He accused me of being too weak to change. I've declared war. I sent over the usual formal warning earlier. If they don't back the fuck off me, they're not going to appreciate my traditionalist views."

Nick Fury stared at her. "You swear that way in front of her?"

Aria looked at him, frowning some. "Mommy is allowed to swear. She's an adult. When I'm older I can tell people to fuck the hell off too." She smirked. "It's every woman's right to defend herself from idiots." She put her head back down while the agents laughed. She grinned at a few of them she could see. "Hi, I'm Aria. I'm three."

Darcy patted her on the back. "Relax, kiddo. We'll go nap in a bit once Jane's done for the day."

"Can I ask Uncle Thor for a story? It's been a long day, Mom."

"If he shows up tonight. If not, call Uncle Erik to see if he'll read you one. If not, I will."

Aria pulled back to stare at her. "Uncle Thor does the voices, Mom. You don't." She put her head back down with a yawn.

"Sorry, I'm not good at that." She looked at Nick Fury, who she knew was a changer of some kind. "So? Now what?"

"We'd like to move you to protective custody?"

"Is there more protective than here?" she asked.

"Potentially but probably not. Are you living here?"

"Next door to Jane."

Nick Fury nodded once. "All right. We'll talk with Stark about how to guard you both. Did you have this problem before?"

"London tried, to the same guy, and I told them the same thing I told this group the first time, to fuck the hell off. We moved here about two weeks later."

Nick Fury grinned. "At least you didn't taze them."

"I had Jane take it from me before I did." She walked off with the letter. "Let me go remind Jane she's supposed to eat twice or more times a day. Have fun with them, people." She waved a hand back. She ran into Stark. "I'm sorry they made me bring stress and drama," she said quietly, staring at him. "I'm going to fix it if I have to."

Tony Stark stared at her. "What, exactly, happened?" Darcy handed over the letter for him to read. "Okay."

"Which is foul," Darcy said. "And wrong. And to stop that sort of shit is why the confederation council was started. By my great-grandmother."

Tony winced but nodded. "That means people would look up to you?"

"If I wanted them to. I don't. My mother is that sort. She runs the local council near her."

"Okay."

"I have a few new tricks they don't know about yet too. I'm not the mama dragon they want to rile. I'm hoping they took the hint."

"The hallway...."

"Not me." She took the letter back with a grin. "I was talking to my godmother outside when that went off." She shrugged and walked her daughter off. "Let's go nag the Jane."

Aria looked at Tony. "I'm sure she'll calm down once they go away again. She did the last time someone tried to tell her who to date about Mr. Paul."

"Yeah, some dragons are judgmental idiots, Aria. You have to learn to ignore their petty thoughts because their minds are weak and flabby. Unlike yours and Auntie Jane's, who have very strong minds because you use them so often they get a lot of exercise." She went into the lab and paused to stare. "Jane?" No answer. "Stark!" He came jogging up the hall. She pointed. "Check her?" He came in to check, finding the reason on her arm. "Great. That's not one of us."

"No, that's not," Fury said as he walked in. "Ross tried to get her but the agents ran them off before they could." He picked up a papertowel to grab the dart with. "Let's get you both back to your apartments. Stark, can we put a few guards there?"

"Please do before I have to end Ross myself."

Darcy nodded, grabbing a few things. She put Aria into her chair and locked up things in the safe, including the notes Jane was drooling on. She put the laptop in there, looking around. "Stark the tablet's missing." Aria looked and pointed. "No, that's mine. Not hers." She got into hers and locked Jane's tablet so they could find it. She held it up so they could see it, then picked up her purse and her daughter. "Let me get her there and I'll come grab Jane."

"I can have her carried up there, Lewis," Stark said with a hand wave, calling that in. Clint came jogging up the hall. "Ross managed to dart her."

"From the airvent. There's a little auto darter up there I had to disconnect." He picked up Jane. "You don't weigh as much as you should," he complained.

"I try," Darcy quipped. "We're going to our apartments. She can nap on our couch." He nodded, leading the way. Darcy and Aria followed. "Sorry, Mr. Stark."

"Not your fault. All mothers should react that way to someone threatening their kids. Mine wasn't all that much as a mother and she did the one time she heard I got threatened." He followed them to talk with Fury about what they could do about this problem.

***

Late that night, Darcy was on a video conference with someone in Europe. "As you can see by the agreements in front of you, they've been abridged in clause two and three." They read and one grimaced. "Not only in the US but also London tried the same thing for the same person." She sent over copies of both letters to her.

"We are appalled that they've been given at least nine women to that one man, who has somehow lost them by the records. Though one has been found dead, and there's hope that we can find the others' bodies so their families know what happened."

"It's a grave charge you bring, Darcy Lewis."

Darcy nodded. "I know. I know I should not mention that my grandmother had to fight like hell to get out of one of these and that's why she crafted those agreements we all supposedly live by. If this is the way they're abusing our society then they shouldn't still be in action. Or in power. If our people are not protected by us, then what use are we?"

The head of the group nodded. "That is very true and we will be looking into the abuses of this being. Though the London council's records noted you were dating a different sort of changer."

"Yes, he was very nice to myself and my daughter. You do realize that the first four people who founded the European council were all married to other sorts of changers?" They groaned. "I know it's hidden because the modern supposed traditionalists and confederation council members who claim they are have hissy fits. Hell, one of them mated and consorted a human. And had four kids who turned out to be great changers and great helpers for our community."

They nodded. "We do like to forget that and that we're not above the others," the head of the European council said, sounding like he was complaining. "Why are your records at your home council sealed?"

"Because my mother heads it."

"That is not a good reason."

"I was nearly stolen twice as a child. It was sealed so they couldn't come after me to get to her." They nodded. "Also, because I'm a *traditionalist* in the oldest meaning of the words." One stared at her, eyes wide. She smiled. "My mentor growing up was Doctor Howards, yes. I'm that little shit he used to tell you about."

One winced but nodded once. "I've already sent over the traditional declaration of war against my family due to this. Your council agreeing to look into it could only help me but I can and will do it without your aid or permission. I burned one earlier. I can do more of them."

"You breathed...oh," the head of the Council said, staring at her. "A traditionalist." She smiled and nodded. "May we open Dr. Howard's records?"

"If you ask him nicely he probably would." She smiled. "I don't mind if he does as long as it doesn't get out. I don't want that sort of risk in my life. Or my daughter's."

One of them walked off calling him and got told what was sealed. He came back. "He admitted he sealed your daughter's records."

"She's blue. She's quite happy she's blue."

"Is she the same sort...."

Darcy smiled and nodded. "Yup, sure is. Her and the Growlies as she calls the ones she can sense and see."

"Oh, dear."

"Oh yes. And they think I'm going to stand by for this? No." She shook her head. "So may I have you look into these serious violations of our charters? Before they kill another young woman who may have only had the sin of being born lower class? Or being single? I'm told one of them was on long term suppressants due to health issues that meant going into heat would've killed her due to a heart condition. She's the one they've found the body of, though she died of torture, not a heart condition."

"We will gladly investigate it," the head of the Council said, staring at her. "I would like you to suspend your declaration of war."

"Can they agree not to come near us? Because one of them thoughtfully sent her a stuffed snake with a real one inside earlier tonight." She held up the bag with the body of the snake, already beheaded. "They snuck it into her toy box."

"I..." He licked his lips and nodded. "That is foul and should not happen. We will make that note that they will stay away from you and quit sending you such things. If your daughter is harmed...."

"You can go 'wow, she's really mad' about the destruction I cause," Darcy said bluntly, staring at them. The snake bag got dropped. "Because I won't stop until she's safe."

"Agreed. It's a mother's right," another one said. "Your grandmother razed three different clan groups for trying her son."

"Four, she left their kids and pets though." He smiled and nodded. "I got told that story by her once."

"You met her?"

"She only died four years ago." She grinned. "Some of us are longer lived."

"I didn't know that. Interesting. I'll...send over the challenge and the order to leave you both alone. And your boss as I know that you're close to her." Darcy smiled and nodded. "Do be safe and let us know if they try again. Even an email before you have to attack?"

"If I can and have your email, Director Gordon."

"I think you should."

"I'll get it from my godmother." She smiled. "Thank you for your help." She hung up and went to check on Aria then to the bathroom to hide and cry for a bit. This was going to be badly evil. She didn't want her baby girl to have to witness them losing their minds. Or her losing her temper. She didn't want her daughter to be scared of her.

***

Darcy looked at the guard out in the hall the next morning. He had knocked so it was a fair assumption something was going on. "Huge problems?" He held up the gift basket. She tapped the cellophane, making the snake try to pounce her hand. "That's evil." The guard nodded. "That's a statement of evil coming and that they want us to die. Can you track that back so I can send them an alligator or something?"

"Can you do that?"

"Don't know. It'd be better than poisonous snakes, which is a sign of death." He nodded, walking off calling that in. "Oh, come get the body of the one I got out of her toy last night?"

"Why didn't you tell us?" he demanded.

"I tried, and the guard just huffed that my daughter got sent a toy snake that had a real cobra inside." She got the bag and brought it back to hand over. "I killed that one when it came out. I'm surprised no one heard Aria sobbing and screaming about it."

"I know it was reported she was having a kid fit."

"She doesn't. She's three, not a toddler. Her version of a pouty temper tantrum happens in zoos and museums when you try to get her to leave before she's ready and then she just sniffles pitifully and sobs quietly on your shoulder."

"I'll make that note." He carried them off to hand to Director Fury, who winced at that dead snake and the live one when he spotted it. "She said she does not throw kid fits. She'll sob quietly when she's upset that you're trying to take her from museums and zoos."

Nick Fury looked at him. "What color are her eyes?"

"Green," another agent said after looking it up. "Hers and her mother's, which are kind of aqua in her picture." He looked up. "Why?"

"It's an indication of what type of dragon she is," Nick Fury said. "Scan the whole tower for more snakes. They're a threat on purpose. She will destroy people." He went up to talk to her. She opened the door and stared at him. "You do have blue/green eyes."

She smiled. "Yes I do, and a lesser form."

He swallowed and nodded, stepping in. "Lewis, I don't want to ask." She smiled and let some of her scales out. "That's what I thought." He nodded again. "So the war?"

"I burned one yesterday. Those snakes came from the idiot they wanted me to mate with."

"Great." He looked at the girl at the table then at her. "Her?"

"We're both traditionalists." She smiled. "She's blue."

"Good to know. We'll scan for snakes." She pointed at one hanging from the ceiling. "We'll get the whole building cleared for snakes."

"I can take her off campus if it'll be safer."

"It won't be. Even if you go home it won't be, Lewis. Let us handle this mess." He took the dead snake down and carried it off. It got taken from him. "In the air ducts."

"I'll have Barton go check," they agreed. "And scan the building and mail."

Nick Fury went to talk to Lewis's mother from a closed office to see what sort of security protocols she had down in Virginia. She had that same 'fuck them' feeling when he warned her about the snakes. He heard a gunshot then nodded when she said she had found one in her breadbox. He dispatched someone down there to help her get to her own people.

He stomped off to talk to the senior changers in his people and Stark. Stark wouldn't cooperate if he wasn't included even though this wasn't something he should step into. He stared at the three male agents, and Stark. His top female was in DC and heading to check on Lewis' mother. "They sent snakes. She's found three so far." The three agents glared. "The gift basket the live one is in was from the one they wanted to make her mate to."

"Last night she called Europe to talk to a council sort of place," Stark said, running that video. "I'm about to repeat her 'fuck that shit' rant." He looked at the agents then at Fury. "I know I'm not one of your sort."

"I'm not a dragon," Fury admitted. He looked at his agents. "You three are. None of you are confederation council aligned though. So what's the protocol?"

"We guard her," Rumlow said. "Heavily. If they're sending snakes that's foul and she should take him to court, though that'd be local so might not work."

"They found one of the nine's bodies," Stark said.

"I've heard, Stark." He looked at Fury. "We need to talk to her."

"Two notes," Stark said, moving the video ahead to a point. "Does that have meaning that would be bad?"

They watched and Rumlow winced. "She's definitely legacy. She can call to have the councils disbanded. And she did." He rubbed his cheek then looked at Fury. "Her mother?"

"Found a snake in her breadbox. I sent an agent out to help guard her until she can get to her people. Sharon Carter will have fun with that."

Rumlow looked at the other two. Then at Fury. "Leave it to us."

"Please do. The idiot they wanted her to screw?"

"Mating is more than that," Rumlow said. "That's a problem those councils started anyway." He looked at the other agents. "Let's go talk to Lewis. Stark, let us handle this. It's our people. Any other changers in the lab warn them."

"There's a few in the daycare," Fury warned.

"Aria goes to the lab all the time," Stark said. "I'm fairly certain Darcy would demand it."

"Good," one of the two agents said. "Let's go talk to her." They left together.

Fury looked at Stark. "Call the other ones so we can warn them so they can be aware that the local council is stupid."

"I can do that." He pulled up a list and had the summoned. They came in and looked at him. "People, bad incident yesterday thanks to a local confederation council thing." He got out of the way. Fury stepped up to explain what happened and why, and what they need to hear if they spotted it coming.

"The daycare?" one asked.

"Lewis will keep Aria with her in the lab," Stark said. "She's been around Jane's work area for years."

"We'll keep watch. How bad will it get?" Tony showed the beginning of the video call. "Wow."

"Yup," Fury agreed. "Three snakes so far. All poisonous."

"Understood," one agreed. "We'll handle it. Is she safe?"

"I have three senior agents who're dragon changers," Fury said then smirked. "They're not happy."

"Good!" They went to tell their lab flunkies to watch out for certain things. It was a shame this was going on. Lewis seemed very nice. They called their own overseeing groups in the area to see what they knew.

***

Darcy checked before answering the door, nodding at the three she smelled dragons on. "Morning, Agents. New problems?"

"Going over your security," Rumlow said, walking in. He looked at the cute little kid. "Aria, can we talk to your mom?"

"Of course you can. She's standing right there." She ate a bite of jelly toast.

He grinned. She was a cute kid. "Can you go talk to your Aunt Jane for a few so we can talk quietly about bad things?" She nodded, taking her jelly toast over to Jane's apartment then came running back after dropping the plate to climb up her mother's back. Rumlow shot the snakes that were trying to chase her, sending the other two to rescue Foster. He patted the kid on the back. "That's what we're here to talk about, so you don't have to be scared." Darcy looked at him. "You should've set the one in London on fire," he said blandly.

"Don't tempt me." She pulled Aria around to cuddle. "It'll be okay. Even if I have to destroy people."

Aria looked at her. "Will that make them more mad, Mom?" she asked quietly.

"They're mad because they did bad things, kitten. It's nothing we've done to make them mad beyond telling them no to joining their bad things. They're just proving they do bad things."

"Okay. Is Grandma safe?"

"Director Fury sent an agent to help her," Rumlow said. The agents came back. "Eradicated?"

"Probably a few in the ceiling vents," one said. "Otherwise, yup. Including the one in her cabinet."

"The snake toy that held a cobra was in her toybox."

"How did they get put in there?" Rumlow asked.

"I don't know yet." She stared at him. "Can you tell me who I need to send another declaration of war to?"

"You did?"

"Fully traditional." She smirked a tiny bit. "And yesterday I burned one."

"Good." He nodded. "Your grandmother was right to stop the wars but the councils have become a monster," he said quietly.

"I'm realizing that. I tried really hard to stay out of it, out of all the pressure and hell. I don't want to be my great-grandmother. I don't want to lead, nothing like that."

"The only way you could is if you rebuilt them or you're one of the mystical six," one of the other agents snorted.

Darcy stared at him. "I know one of them." He shuddered. She grinned. Aria shivered. "Scale itch?" she asked her.

"Yes," Aria said, pouting. She bobbed her head around. "There's new Growlies, Mom."

Darcy looked at her. "Where?"

"Here. Outside. They're mad but not at us." She wiggled and got down, going to look in the hallway. "Huh." Darcy walked her back inside and shut the door again. "They went to visit Uncle Thor I guess." She looked at the couch before climbing up it. Darcy moved her to let the agents grab the snake. "Someone is really dumb." Aria looked at her mom. "Can I breathe fire yet?"

"Not until after puberty. So like teenage years." She put Aria down. "Go make more toast?" She went to do that so they had some room to talk.

"Do you know this guy?" Rumlow asked.

"I don't recognize the name. I had a few one night stands in London but no idea otherwise." She shrugged. "I might recognize a picture." Rumlow looked him up and showed him. "Yup, a stress break one night stand before I found my last boyfriend. Met him at a classy bar I was there to get plastered in. It's safer to get drunk in a classier bar than a dive bar," she said at Rumlow's odd look. "Less chance of ending up with a knife in your gut after you're...attacked." She glanced at her daughter then back at him.

"Good point I guess. Never considered it."

"I'm a woman, we have to make those calculations." He nodded. "I was barely tipsy and went home with him, where I spent some time complaining about Jane wearing on my last nerve that day. It was really pitiful sex that lasted less than an hour then I cabbed home to relieve Jane from babysitting. I think he said his name was Robert."

Rumlow nodded. "That means he may be stuck on you?"

"I left while he napped off his minimal coming and maybe that's why?" she asked quietly. She shrugged again. "No f-ing clue. All I know is I'm going to destroy him for all this."

"Please do. We need to get him down so we can arrest him."

"Charge him with the murder?" She pulled up files from the local council. "All the mate contracts on file." He smirked, taking them to look through and match names with. They had him charged within twenty minutes of another four deaths, so five total, and the local council couldn't shield him.

He was in London at the moment so SHIELD Europe had some fun for the day. The London council tried to get in the way but they stomped on them too. The local judges in the all councils panel were not amused at any of this and one wanted to throw the charges out but the rest overruled her and made her recuse herself. By the time Darcy got calmed down and it was lunch, the idiot was in a cell for at least a few months.

***

Brock knocked that night with someone in a suit. "He's a lawyer."

"Did I hire him?"

"The man you had falsely arrested is your mate, young lady."

"I don't think a one hour, one night stand counts for that." She let them in. "Prove it." He held up a picture that showed her wearing a pretty necklace in a pretty dress at some dinner honoring Jane. She went to get something, coming back to show the same necklace in a graduation picture.

She held up the necklace. "You notice at the end it says 'love, mom'." She stared at him. "It was a high school graduation present. Frankly, I woke up well before he did. There was no mating ceremony, no exchange from any hoard, nothing.

"He was an easy bit of stress relief one night for an hour and he told me his name was Robert." The lawyer slumped. "Second, your client, who has killed some of the ones they made go with him, sent my daughter snakes. He'd better stop and if you're helping him you'd better stop." She stared at him.

"For your information, I have a broken mate bond. About four years ago. I was dating someone when the bitch stole my suppressant patch and I went into sudden heat. He didn't want to deal with being a stepfather." She stared at him. "It was severed at his request due to the attack on me." The lawyer shuddered and backed off. "Third, there is the right of self defense so if I see him, I'm going to kill him for threatening my daughter. You being here means that it'll get worse."

"I can propose an annulment."

"For something that never existed? Take me to damn court."

"We can do that. He wants his gifts back."

"I can give him the bodies of the snakes he sent," she said dryly. "Because there's been no presents."

"He was paying your rent."

"We were living in Jane's mother's owned condo. No rent." She leaned against the back of her couch. "But please go ahead." She waved a hand.

"He gave your daughter multiple dolls."

"She has one doll, it's a cloth doll she picked up at the museum that had an exhibit about cultural dolls, and it's threadbare. I can have someone go search if you want confirmation."

"He sent them to your flat in Old Town."

"There's no Old Town in London, dude. Old Town is in Croydon. We visited once because Thor knew a warrior who was banished living near there." She waved a hand again. "Keep going."

"He said he helped furnish your apartment."

"He's a lying sack of shit since I shared an apartment with Jane and Erik Selvig was there for a few months. My daughter slept in Jane's room so I didn't have to share a couch."

He blinked. "Your daughter..."

"Is a pureblood and you're not going to go near her before I break your body into atomic bits." She stared at him. "Anything else?"

"You don't even have a degree."

"Dude, SHIELD locked my records after Loki attacked us in New Mexico. And no, I've gotten it since then." She smirked. "I've actually finished my masters." Brock was smirking behind the guy's back. "But keep going. And do remember, everything said here is recorded." The lawyer went pale. "So, what else did you have as supposed proof?"

"Taping is illegal..."

"Sign on the doorway into the building that all meetings are taped. Not illegal. If you don't read signs that's your problem. Most lawyers would read every single sign in case it's pertinent."

The man looked at Brock then at her. "You're aligning yourself with the uncultured thugs?" he sneered.

"No, he's protecting you from me before I kill you. You should be really happy that there's agents here to keep me from taking you out and destroying everything you have." She smirked a tiny smirk. "Some of us are *traditionalists*. Including when we go to war."

The man stepped back, looking horrified. "You came near myself and my daughter. You nearly got my daughter killed. I'm the dragon mother they write stories about." He fled from the room. She looked up. "JARVIS, did you get to tape that?"

"I did," the AI agreed. "From when he entered the building, Miss Lewis. I'll send you a copy of the film to your email."

"Thank you, virtual dude." She looked at Brock. "Jane really needs to talk me out of going on a flight." She walked off. "Thank you for being a witness."

"Not a problem." He watched her go. He was a bit stunned but she was clearly amusing. Puffballs who threatened, so cute. He heard a zap and went to look. There was a guy climbing in her daughter's window. She had tazed him and he was now unconscious and about to fall. He looked down there then at her. "He'll die."

"Sucks to be him. And can you kill the snakes please? I don't have a knife." She pointed at the three in the corner. There were curled up on top of the heat register.

He looked. "Asps. I didn't know you were Greek/Egyptian."

"Me either." She shrugged, moving Aria out to her own bed for the night. The guy's body slid some, making him wake up. He screamed. "Way too loud," she said in a sing-song manner. "You broke into my daughter's room. Have a nice trip back down." He whined. She walked off again.

"It's not often a woman her age can be called Queen," Brock smirked. "I think she's earned it."

"I think I earned it a few years ago when I had to go destroy the council in Hartford for being dumbasses trying to claim my little girl," Darcy called. "Her paternal grandfather was a moron who killed himself in the middle of the hearing over it because he had disgraced the family and his mother had demanded."

Brock shuddered. "Great." He called in that the guy was about to fall. Darcy let in a few agents who made it in time to catch him before he fully fell. The guy was still slipping and screaming and pissing himself. Brock handed over the dead snakes and the guy's bag, which was still pretty wiggly so probably another one. "They were asps."

"Is she Cleopatra?" one of the agents joked.

"This is her little girl's room."

"Ooooh." The agent stared at that guy. "Wow, you pissed off a mother." They hauled him and his snakes off.

Brock filed a report and went to check the other entrances to hers and Jane's apartment. Jane stared at him oddly. "Someone climbed down to break into the kid's bedroom to leave asps."

"Please kill any snakes you find," she said, going back to reading with her feet up on the couch. She heard him snap a few things and decided she did not want to know.

***

Darcy faced off with a court. "Please do have him explain how an hour long one night stand was a mate bond?" The judges stared at him. "For that matter, as far as I knew, his name was Robert."

"He gave you a necklace. Granted, a lower class one."

Darcy pulled out a picture to hold up. "High school graduation. Necklace look familiar?"

The left most judge took it to look at. "That does." He handed it back after the other two looked. "If he gave it, he should know if there's an engraving."

"With all my love," the idiot said.

Darcy held up the necklace in question. "With love everyday, love, mom." She let them hold it. "He doesn't look anything like my mother. Who gave it to me for my high school graduation."

"It's from college," the man sneered.

Darcy looked at him. "I didn't walk either of my college degrees, Robert."

"That is not my name!" he shouted.

"That's the name you gave me when you picked me up in the bar because I was stress drinking due to Doctor Foster's work," she said blandly. "You were still asleep when I left, just over an hour later. There was no exchange of anything because he doesn't kiss during sex and I demanded a condom." She took the necklace back. "Also, let me make another charge."

She held out a folder. "From the things killed by the agents where I live." The judges took them to look over and hissed as one at the top picture. "Before you have to count, there's nineteen pictures in there. And three room shots. Plus a few reports on others that didn't get killed by them." She crossed her arms over her chest. "If he had been my mate, that's still underhanded and evil of him and I'd be killing him for that anyway."

"I see multiple snakes in this file," the center judge noted.

"You see multiple poisonous snakes," Darcy corrected. "All but one. It was a type of python according to the guys who killed it for me."

The judge winced. "That is illegal if someone is your mate or not," he agreed, staring at 'Robert'. "Why did you send those?"

"She spurned my mating contract!"

"There's no contract filed," Darcy said. "Not here or London." The man sneered at her, trying to change. "You do and I do and I'm worse." The guard got between them. She looked at the judges. "I want him away from myself, my daughter, my friends, my apartment, my mother he tried to kill. Also, they found the bodies of six of his nine supposed mates that were *forced* to go to him. As they tried to *force* me. That is illegal by all the confederation council contracts. It's why it was started actually. Do I need to pull up the original records?"

"No, we're aware that it was in the originating charter of the confederation councils," the center judge said quietly. He looked at 'Robert'. "There are protections on the courtroom to prevent you from changing." He looked at Darcy. "Even you."

She smirked. "Maybe." They stared at her. She quirked an eyebrow up. "I would be defending myself. Most of those sort of protections do have outs for that."

"Point," the right judge said. He sighed. "I do not like this case."

"They started it," Darcy said with a shrug. "Not my doing outside protecting myself and my daughter. They tried to force me to mate to someone. That's illegal. They tried to force me to mate to someone who has killed at least six other women who were forced to mate to him. Still illegal but now with multiple charges. There's lying to the courts about what he supposedly gave me. Which he didn't. There was the snake barrage we've fought off, which is illegal in a whole other, civil court manner. Frankly, he should still be in jail for the homicides. We know how they were killed thanks to modern autopsies. Should I find those records for you as well?"

"We have them," the center judge said, patting that file. "It's disturbing."

"Yes and they decided I should be next," Darcy said patiently. "They tried to proclaim my daughter not one of us when she is. And her birth was registered." She looked at Robert. "Too bad you didn't take the hint from her grandfather in Hartford." The center judge sat up and stared at her. "I was the next to last Savilla got," she said dryly. "I told the father bluntly he didn't have to do anything with her. And he kept me at my word. She's registered in case it becomes pertinent." She looked at Robert again.

"The European court hates that you brought the councils before them," the center judge said.

"Then they shouldn't be allowing them to break the charters. The charters are supposed to be the law of the confederation council, the bedrock they're built on. They let them break multiple clauses in the case of London's. New York was complicit with them trying to force a bonding against my will. That violates their charter as well."

She shifted her stance. "If I have to handle it on my own I will and I told them that." Robert was sneering. "After all, I can still call insult on them." Robert burst out laughing. She stared at him. "What, you don't like civil courts?" He stopped laughing. She smirked. "Ya know, political science degrees did teach me a lot. What I didn't learn at my mother's knee."

"That's a tiny, inconsequential little council," he sneered. "No one cares about those hicks."

"You mean the nine senators that reside in it?" Darcy asked, making him flinch. "Or all the IRS agents. Or the ATF agents? Or the SHIELD agents actually as I found out recently when you put a cobra in my mother's breadbox." She smirked. "You so sure they don't matter?" He was shrinking away from her. "I want you out of my way and out of my life. If you *ever* come near my daughter again, in any way, sent or in person, the declaration of war will be carried out. I'm not the shy one. I may cry later over your pets dying, but I won't cry over destroying you."

"Miss Lewis," the judge warned.

Darcy looked at them. "They started it so I have to finish it, don't I? I'm not letting my daughter go into danger. I'll send her to Asgard first."

The center judge laughed. "How would you do that?"

"Well, my boss is dating Thor. He's proclaimed me his little sister. So far I've kept him pretty much out of this." The judges all stared. She grinned and nodded, waving a hand back at Jane. "I'm pretty sure I could probably ask for a huge favor and he does love being an uncle to my little girl."

Jane nodded. "He offered this morning."

The judges looked at Darcy. "You know some very powerful people, young lady."

"Which I've never counted on until this situation. I've already removed some people from my holiday card list because of this."

"Do you plan later children? That was the reason that supposedly mating was encouraged. The birth rate is falling."

"If I do, they'll never be registered unless there's an exceptional reason like how I conceived my daughter. You've all proven to me that you've ruined the original intent of the charters and councils. For that matter, I'm not registered with the local council any more as of close of business tonight. Both of ours are now missing so I don't have to see them."

"That means you shouldn't be able to bring this suit."

"He called me here, not the other way around."

They slumped, staring at each other. "We are not allowed to give a judgment for anyone not affiliated with the confederation."

"That's fine. I'll do it myself." The judges all winced. "Bye, Robert." He tried to attack her and she went to her lesser form and lit him as he ran away from her. "Damn, I almost missed. I need target work. Maybe some hunting tonight." She changed back with a lazy spin, looking at the judges. "That still leaves him killing six of the nine, at least, who were confederation aligned. As I was when they tried to force it." She walked off. "Looks like we need to find a cave and hole up for a few weeks, Jane."

Jane followed. "I've never seen you change that fast."

"Usually I change slower to ease my knees and shoulders." They walked out and someone shot at her. She got Jane back inside as her scales came out. She pounced the shooter and her claws ripped his throat out. "Damn. I hate messing up my manicure." Jane burst out laughing in stress laughter.

She got off the idiot shooter and strolled off, changing back at the bottom of the stairs. She stared down 'Robert', making him flee from her. She and Jane went back to the tower. She got Aria from Thor, who was scowling at her. "What?"

"It was on the news," Aria said. "Why are you pretending to be another color, Mom?"

"That's a difficult question, kiddo. Some day I'll tell you so you hopefully never have to find out." Thor stared at her. She grinned back. "Thanks for the babysitting, Thor."

"You're most welcome." She took Aria back to her apartment, shutting the door between them. He looked at Jane. "Her temper is high."

"She had to change twice in ten minutes, Thor. He tried to attack her in the courtroom." She sat down with a sigh. "Maybe coming to New York was a bad idea."

"It was not," he corrected. "They have the wrong idea and it shows."

She leaned against his side. "She might have to go into hiding."

"She won't. She's a strong woman and Aria will be safe."

"She joked about a nesting cave."

"She should probably have one anyway. One such as she is may need one someday." She looked up at him. "It may come in handy if she picks to have a second child."

"I guess but that would suck for work."

He nodded. "Perhaps but you'd be able to see the stars easier." He heard shouting and listened. Darcy venting so it was all right. "Aria must be napping. Darcy is venting."

"She needs to get it out before she becomes a vengeance spirit." She put her head back down. They'd talk to Darcy later, when she had calmed down.

***
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