JARVIS cleared his throat in the office. "I'm afraid Callia has shut down all the computer interfaces in her lab, sir. Her tablet's not on so I can't hack into it and her MP3 player isn't connected to anything either."
Tony huffed. "I'll paddle her later."
"She did have a bag from the store on the corner."
"I'll get her for the new Red Bulls too," he decided. He looked at Pepper. "JARVIS, is my father floating around?"
"She turned that on as well, sir."
"Crap. Dawn, can you scry Callia?" No answer so he looked out there. No Dawn at her desk. "Dawn?" he called.
"She's in Payroll, nagging someone there about doing something dumb. Apparently they tried to change her withholding without her consent to single without children."
"No, I doubt that'll work." He went to see what had happened. That assistant was *certain* that it wasn't legal for her to claim to be married since the trio thing wasn't legal in the US. "She can claim however many she wants," Tony told her. "It's not illegal to claim more and get a tax refund." He looked at Dawn. "Can you scry?"
"Not very well. Why?"
"Callia's locked out JARVIS and everyone else."
"I'll check on her later. There's a sneaky way to override all the electronic locks, boss."
He smiled. "Teach me that some day?"
"Maybe." She walked off after ripping up the new forms. Tony could yell at her about that stunt. Dawn had things she had to do.
Tony and Dawn broke into Callia's lab, finding her on the floor. "That looks familiar," Dawn sighed, walking over to the bench. She flipped the switch to restart the computer interfaces while Tony checked his daughter. "Boss, there's Thunderbird."
"The guy said it wasn't for kids but he never said it'd give me a headache," Callia complained as she woke up.
"That's because it's liquor," Dawn said slowly and clearly, staring at her. "Your mother would *so* be throwing a fit."
"I feel like she's in my head doing it anyway. He never said it was alcohol, just that he couldn't sell it to kids. So I kindly mentioned his little sideline medical project for Egyptian families."
"What sideline project?" Tony demanded. She pointed then let her hand fall. "You're in such trouble."
"Can it wait until the little people in my head stop?"
"Hell no!" Dawn said loudly. "You're so far beyond grounded it's not fucking funny, young lady! What the *fuck* were you thinking?"
"I thought it was like a heavier Red Bull," she complained, letting her father help her sit up. Which meant she was more vertical when she needed to get up and run off to vomit. "I'm never doing this shit again," she cried while she heaved.
"Ya think?" Dawn demanded from the bathroom doorway. She sighed, leaning against the wall, arms crossed over her chest. She looked at Tony, who was rolling his eyes. "Want to tell Pepper?"
"Nope. Or Steve. I think we should talk first and they can talk to her in the morning."
"I'll tell them they need to talk to her in the morning then. Because I don't want to see her on the cover of some tabloid not wearing panties." They stared at each other.
"If she follows me down that path, I'm going to beat her ass," Tony assured her.
Dawn smiled. "Good." She walked over to pat him on the arm. "You did pretty okay when I got given my first one without me knowing," she said quietly. "Want me to tell Pepper why you'll be hearing her yell tomorrow?"
"I will after dinner."
"No way in any sort of hell that I'm living in am I eating," Callia called.
Tony snorted. "It'll help. Trust me." He walked in there to help his daughter, his little clone, through her first hangover. Dawn went home. Tony knew just how his daughter felt and it sucked, but he had to break this bad habit like he had her forgetting to eat. When she was done he made her take a shower and change clothes then took her up to tuck her into bed. He walked out, letting her menagerie in there to comfort their human. "Guys, we have to be parents tomorrow."
"What happened? Did she hurt herself when she was tinkering without supervision?" Pepper asked, eating a bite of dinner.
"No, the clerk at the corner store didn't tell her Thunderbird was liquor. She thought it was a higher Red Bull." Pepper choked. Steve shook his head. "She's already *very* sorry." He kept Pepper from moving. "She's woken up, puked, I made her eat some toast on the way up here," he said, staring at her. "We'll talk to her once the other kids are in daycare."
"Yes, I think we should," Steve agreed.
Pepper nodded, looking pissed off. "She's so getting it."
"Dawn gave her hell too." He stared at her. "We can stop this before she really is my clone."
Pepper nodded. "Yes, we will be." He kissed her on the temple. She sighed. "We have to turn him in for that."
"She said he's got some sort of medical sideline for Egyptians," he said. "I think we need to look that up first."
JARVIS cleared his throat. "His wife does tribal circumcisions, sir."
"Male or female?" Pepper asked firmly.
"Is she some sort of doctor over there?" Steve asked. "Or a nurse?"
"No, and I'm not certain," the AI told them. "She did not look that far."
"Hell no!" Pepper said. She heard the tiny moan from Callia's room. "We're going to talk tomorrow, daughter. Sleep while you can."
"Yup," she moaned then the door mostly closed. "And it's girls, not boys. I had to look up why they would and got horrified. I called someone at the tip line that the LAPD has but I guess no one's answered."
"We can make sure of that," Steve said.
Tony grinned and called a few 'friends' in lower places to find out more facts. That got them all they needed to know to send on. Maybe to the wrong desk but they'd be able to pass it on. By the eleven o'clock news, they were showing the bust and the bust for selling alcohol to underage kids. Apparently Callia wasn't the only one. Though she was mentioned. Pepper sighed and made a note on her livejournal about it. Dawn's response popped up on hers a few minutes later.
Dawn parked and got out the next morning, seeing the press vultures.
"Let me," Clint muttered.
She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "You don't have to. I can talk to them."
He shook his head, walking over there. "Guys, quit hovering." They stared at him. "Callia went looking for Red Bull, which she's not allowed to have. He had the Thunderbird on the next shelf down in the same case. By the tapes, which Stark got, all the guy told her was that he shouldn't sell it to someone under twenty-one. She had found out about his medical sideline and had turned it in so that's how she got sold the liquor and the Red Bull she wasn't allowed to have.
"By what was left in the bottle, she drank about three mixed shots and passed out. They found her after that and woke her up to nag her, let her puke, have the hangover, and today they're going to have a discussion with the mini genius about common sense, reading labels, and how she was going to be buried in a deep, dark hole if she ever does it again. Dawn said he gave a really good version of that talk to her when someone at a club gave her liquor and she didn't realize it."
"Why can't she have Red Bull?" one reporter asked.
"Because she's not ten yet and doesn't need the heavy stimulant warping her system," Clint said dryly. "Would you give a little kid something like Red Bull?"
"My son's teacher gives it to them before tests."
"I'd complain and have her thrown out," Clint told her, staring at her. "If a teacher ever did that to Philip they'd better hope I got in their face instead of found them from a distance. You allow that?"
She shrank back. "It doesn't seem to hurt him."
"Yet, a few people have died after drinking too many," another reporter said. "Is she all right?"
"Had a huge hangover," Clint said with an evil smirk. "And today she's got very upset parents and possibly a Grandmother on her way out too."
"Joyce looks like she can peel paint while never raising her voice," that reporter said with a grin.
"Pretty much, yeah." He walked off. "Unblock the gates, people. Before they call cops again." They rushed off to give out that story. A few paused. They could hear someone female screaming. That kid would not follow her father into alcoholism. Clint walked inside, looking up the hall at the screaming, going to save the geek duo. He walked in and picked up Patty, walking her out into the hall to put her back on her feet. "Verbal abuse is wrong."
"He got high on something last night!" she shouted with a point.
"With the cans, it was Red Bull, not high, Patty. Still wrong to scream things like that. That's verbal abuse and that's always wrong."
She blinked. "I was?" He nodded. "Oh, shit." She ran back in there to hug Jonathan. "I did not mean to scream abuse at you, Johno. I promise I didn't and I'll never do it again." He cuddled her. "I'm so sorry. I was mad and I didn't realize. I'm going to talk to Perava in Psych profiling. Maybe she'll be able to tell me how to stop doing that."
"We can both go," he offered.
She kissed him. "Let me start that off. That way I'm better before we do it together." He nodded, cuddling her. "I'll see if there's someone you can talk to too."
He gave her a squeeze. "I know you didn't mean to, Patty. It's okay."
"It's not." She pulled back to look at him. "I have no right to hurt you that way. It's wrong of me. I can't be that way and be a good chemist or a good mom or a good wife to you." She patted his cheek with a smile. "I'll work on it and we'll work on it." He nodded, kissing her. "Thank you, Clint." She ran off to talk to her lunch friend in Profiling.
Clint looked at him. "Talk to Rodney about their base shrink, see if she's any good," he said quietly. "If not, I'll have Dawn help you find one. No one deserves that sort of abuse, Jonathan."
He nodded. "She doesn't usually but now and then she snaps."
"Which is why hopefully counseling and some self awareness will work," Clint reminded him. He patted him on the head. "Clean up the mess." They did that and he looked at Andrew.
"MB likes some Red Bull after long nights," he admitted. "I had no idea we were drinking more until we were opening a new can about two this morning and by then we were so hyped we couldn't make it home."
"That's why Stark's all-but banned it," Clint agreed. "Especially when someone tiny unintentionally got Thunderbird too."
"Is that another super drink?" Jonathan asked.
"No, it's cheap wine," Andrew said. "Like Mad Dog." Clint smirked and nodded. "Callia all right?"
"Had a hangover last night and today she's got parents." He smirked.
"We'll stay in here," Andrew said. "Thanks, Clint."
"Welcome." He walked off to hiss in Dawn's ear about helping that couple, getting a nod and her texting Jonathan an address and phone number from a sealed file in her drawer. They kept a list of all sorts of help agencies that their geeks might need. It was unfortunately necessary sometimes.
Pepper walked up to the desk, staring at Dawn's outfit. "What is that?"
"The peplum shirt is made of jersey knit and it's very comfortable, yet slightly stretchy so I can wear it longer. The peplum starts just above where the baby bump is so it'll be hidden a bit better," she said as she typed without looking at Pepper. "The skirt is a nylon/polyester/lycra mix that's very soft, doesn't wrinkle, and cat fur won't stick to usually. I found pants, skirts, tops, and dresses in it, boss lady, and it's very comfy." She finally smiled at her as she saved the document by feel. "I remember some of the funny looks for not being formal enough for office wear during the last pregnancy so I decided to step it up a bit."
"It looks nice," Pepper agreed, smiling at her. "Is that most of your wardrobe now?"
"No!" she chirped. "I did get a lot of better shirts that do have peplums, they're in style again. I got a few new wrap dresses, a few that the print will disguise the belly of doom, and a few that the rouching will. So until I'm in my seventh or eighth month, I'm good. Plus I got a few new tunics and leggings sets too."
"Sure," she agreed, smiling at her. "Do the dresses look old fashioned?"
"I had so much trouble finding anything so I went to the goth shop and some of her fellow shopkeepers helped me when the professional shopper couldn't."
"Even better. Local stores are better for the economy." She went into her office, coming back out with her bottle of water. "Natasha borrowing?"
"Some." She grinned. "A few will look very nice on her and she knows who I went to so they could talk to her about it. I think things like this skirt she'll like more. It's very soft and very comfortable without being the least bit binding. And since it stretches, no tummy panel to give it away."
Pepper grinned. "I need some of that." She went back to her desk. Dawn brought in cards from where she had went. "Thanks."
"Pitiful and grounded again. She's taking care of her pets. Her father and she had a long talk when she got up at three. We caught them still at it when we got up for breakfast and joined in. She didn't know and she's really very sorry she drank so she won't be doing it again for a very long time."
"That's always a great thing," Dawn agreed. "I didn't." Pepper smirked at her. "I didn't!"
"I know. You were a good girl and a good learning experience in how to handle teenagers."
"Just think, you'll have to manage it with the son too."
Pepper shuddered. "No thank you. Tony can give Chris his talks."
"I'll get the one he gives to Chris to give to Philip." She went back to her desk. The inter-office mail delivered her a sealed letter so she read it and took it in to Pepper. "I had to complain that someone changed my withholdings on me without my consent yesterday."
"You can claim however many you want," Pepper said, getting up to go handle that. She walked in and smiled at the head of Payroll, who blanched. "Let's talk." She walked her into her office. Then got the judgmental bitch in there after it was explained to Pepper what had happened. Pepper stared at her. "First, she can always claim her kids. Secondly, she checked with the IRS about how to claim them. They said it was just fine." The woman huffed. "Thirdly, you have no right to change anyone's paperwork without their consent and your boss has no right to fire anyone who's not in her department." She stared at them. "I'm not pleased."
"She's wrong and immoral!" the lesser worker shouted with a point toward the head office. "She's leading the young astray and it's wrong! It's also illegal!"
"Only if they filed for multiple licenses in the US," Pepper said dryly. "Which they didn't. As for immoral, that's between her and her chosen book of rules. Which probably isn't the same as yours since she's nominally Wicca." The woman gasped and backed up. "Frankly, Stark International has many non-discrimination policies in effect, including about religious, sexual orientation, motherhood, and all sorts of other ones. Dawn does her job, does it well, and no one is going to fire her." She stared at her. "If you can't accept that we don't care where she sticks it, or where you stick it, then I suggest you leave your employment."
"It's still immoral! God is going to punish her!"
"No God I follow would ever punish her for being happy," Pepper said simply. "And you're not allowed to push your religion on people." The woman huffed off. Pepper looked at the head of Payroll. "It won't be tolerated."
"I understand. She said that Dawn threatened her."
"JARVIS?" He pulled up the video. No threat between them beyond Dawn saying she'd be talking to her boss about her uppity attitude and then Pepper and Stark about it. Pepper looked at the boss, who grimaced. "Frankly, the attitude among some of the staff has gotten a bit uppity," she said quietly. "I don't know where it started from and I don't rightly care." She walked off. That was the only warning that woman was getting. "Dawn, please make sure that your withholdings and things are in line with IRS policy?" she suggested as she walked past her desk.
"I asked my tax accountant but I can call and check." She found their number and called. She made it through the automated system to a real, live person and leaned back in her chair. "I need to make sure that I'm claiming the proper withholdings. Someone at my work tried to change them on me yesterday but my tax accountant said I was right to claim what I did." She listened. "Married yes, but we have a trio, and I have a son, with a daughter on the way. I've been claiming three, which he said I could do."
She listened. "Overseas. None of them were filed here." She picked up a pen to flip end over end, making a few notes. "That's ....yes, actually I am," she said when the agent noted her as an example. She smiled. "I am her, yes. That's what I was trying to do. The tax accountant said three was acceptable. That I couldn't really claim Natasha at this time. No, I file married filing singly. He does the same and I think she does the same. We all went to the tax accountant and let him handle it but I didn't listen in when they went over theirs." She made another note when the agent looked her up. "Exactly, which is what I do." She smiled.
"That's my accountant. Am I up for an audit?" she asked with a wince. "Oh, good." She sighed. "That's how he said it'd work legally." She nodded, making another note. "So three is fine. Can I claim four?" She grimaced. "That sucks. Well, I'll be able to do that soon anyway with the other kid. Any idea if they're not filing correctly?" She nodded. "So that's good. Thank you for your help. Have a better day." She hung up, leaning over to look at Pepper. "I still can't claim Natasha, even if we were the only ones together. The US doesn't recognize same-sex marriage as a withholding."
"Figures," Pepper said dryly. "Any other big news?"
"Not really. She said withholding three is perfectly legal and normal to do. That we each filed married filing singly was a bit odd since the licenses weren't in supported regions. She looked at Natasha's since it was linked to mine and she said that legally she can do that but the government can't recognize the others if we claim mine and Clint's as the only legal one, though she did say that she wasn't sure if Spain was a legal marriage location by US standard."
Pepper grimaced. "We always thought that one was the legal one."
"The agent said that shifted last year."
"Huh. So you may have the not-legal marriage while they're legally married?"
"From what she said, they're all three illegal if what the press had as our license locations listed is right." She looked that up. "Which it is." She sent that thought at Natasha and Clint, who were snuggling in bed while Philip napped on the other side. She smiled and looked at Pepper again. "Clint said he'd figure that out later and we'd talk about it. They're getting cuddles."
"Cuddles are great." They shared a smile and Dawn got back to work. Pepper called down there. "Dawn checked with the IRS and she is allowed to claim three people, switching up to four when she delivers." She hung up and got back to her own things. The petty bullshit in the admin needed to be exorcized like it had been from the Board. If she had to do that, so be it. She did have mood swings for a reason.
Dawn walked into Tony's lab, leaning on his arm. "Got ten?" she asked quietly.
He looked at her. "I'm just reading over this article someone wanted to publish for them." He put it aside and turned to look at her. "Huge problems? Girl talk time?"
"Insidious talk in the caf." She pulled a stool over and sat down. "I was in there getting a brownie."
"Those are good."
"Not the point, boss." She sighed and looked at him. "A few of the old geeks, the ones who've been here since you were my age, were saying that you used to be loyal to the geeks over the company."
"Yeah, I always was. I still am."
"Now they think you're more loyal to Pepper and the company." She stared at him. "Ferguson in physics said that you haven't been geek-centric since you took up the armor, took up with Pepper, and had kids. He said you're turning into your dad and not being one of the geeks."
He considered it. "I haven't spent much time with the science teams."
"From what a few others said, they're thinking you're not actually as much a geek anymore, that you're not doing anything in the lab but tinkering with your armor and teaching the kids to do that instead of being geeks. A few looked worried when they were talking about you turning into your dad. A few quietly said that they thought SHIELD was going to take over. A few also said that they were looking for new jobs."
Tony shook his head. "I'm not like that."
"I'm not a geek so I don't know how to solve it. I'm just telling you the interesting things I heard in the caf when I was getting brownies." She stood up. "I know the religious conservative group we have here on campus decided I'm an evil spawn again. That's why I had to talk to Payroll and they tried to fire me."
"Hell no," he snorted. "Let me think on this."
"I can arrange a geek day if you want," she offered.
"That might not be a bad idea. Without me pushing them for anything."
"Yeah, do that." She smiled and walked off to call the pizza place most of the compound ordered from. Tony sent out a lab-wide memo that they'd have a geek meeting at one. He included Dawn so she knew when they needed the pizzas. He considered it while he proofread for his head of shield design, which he realized he used to do a lot more of. So maybe he had backed away from his people. He went to the meeting room, smiling when he caught his daughter sneaking in. "You're a lab geek now too, Callia. You can join us." He smiled at the room. "She's got something in the young engineers challenge." They mostly looked happy. He took the pizzas from Dawn, letting her put down drinks and give a few geeks pointed looks so they made sure they ate. He let her gather the rest so they could come in then he locked the doors. "Okay, guys, it's just us. JARVIS told me earlier that some of you guys have maybe been a bit scared to come talk to me if you needed to? So let's talk. We're all geeks here."
Callia smiled. "I got the rocket powered roller skates done, Dad."
"Great job." He kissed her on the head. "Eat." She got pizza and handed the boxes down to the other tables so they could too. "You guys know unless I'm in the armor doing something hugely important that you can come to me, right?" They mostly nodded. "Then why haven't you? Am I getting too much in the way?"
One of the guys from chemistry shook his head. "Not really. It's hard since we have the other lab open now. You're not always there, Tony."
"Okay, can we solve that by better video capturing? Should we consolidate to one lab? I don't mind but moving one of them to the other is going to get some pouty faces thrown our way." He ate a bite of pizza. "That and I realized we haven't done any geek things like the bowling league in a while."
"You're always busy being a dad," one said with a slight shrug before stuffing his mouth.
Callia looked at him. "At least one of us is going to be a geek too so he should probably initiate us into this strange, weird, wonderful fraternity we all live in. Even if Chris likes cars and art, and Liz likes art and my pets. Hopefully the next one will like science."
"She might," Tony said. "Not totally sure until they're older, and Chris likes to tinker with cars. He might be that sort of engineer instead of ours, Callia."
"Maybe, but I still say Liz gets the suit because she can be a bit evil when she needs to be."
"And *who* gave the kids Red Bull?" he asked, staring at her. A few of the geeks laughed. "Seriously, she did. Gave Chris Red Bull, gave Liz donuts, and then cackled all the way to lock herself in her lab." He sighed and shook his head. "She's definitely my clone." Most of the geeks smiled. "But anyway, beyond me being proud of her, what else am I falling down on?"
"You do spend a lot of time with the suit," one of the older ones said. "Before you used to lock yourself away unless we called. Now you're always in the lab."
Tony shrugged. "You can still come bug me. Unless I'm doing something critical on the way to an emergency or it's an emergency and I'm flying off, I'm open to you guys coming to talk and toss ideas around." He looked around. "I know I expanded the lab after I said no more making weapons for general sale. Are we too big?" They all shook their heads. "Do I need to expand more? Because if I have to build a Eureka, I will."
"Well the head guy there was a Stark," another geek joked with a grin. "But who'd be the sheriff?"
"Pepper," MB joked.
Tony saw the looks at that name. "Are you guys jealous of the time I spend with Pepper? Because she doesn't understand science and I know that. She lets me go hide in the lab all the time and do science things instead of doing daddy things or boss things." He looked around. "Sometimes she gets jealous that my first wife is science."
"No, we've built a good system here," one of the older geeks said. "Dawn fusses."
"I can slow her down on that."
"Don't you dare, some of us would never eat," one of the chemists joked.
Callia looked back. "She makes sure I eat too."
"Didn't I tell you to start setting an alarm?" Tony asked her.
"Yeah, but I'm doing shittastic on that this week."
"Language," he said.
"Dad, we're among our geeks and I'm pretty sure they know I swear. Don't you guys know I swear sometimes?"
"No matter how much Steve, Dawn, and Pepper try, we all know you swear," one of them assured her. "You should quit that. It makes you sound like a thug."
"Then maybe the stupid boys that Grandpa keeps pushing me to talk to will ignore me when I'm forced to put up with their menial brains not working on mine's level."
Tony stared at her. "He's doing what?"
"He thinks it's a bad thing if I'm in the lab all the time and I don't get to know what boys and other girls are like. I told him other girls were snotty, catty bitches who made fun of you behind your back and pretended to be friends, and boys were jackasses who had no brains, didn't like science, and frankly would only want my future boobs, not my brains. He moaned and floated off like a proper ghost again."
Tony shook his head. "I'll talk with him again, Cal." She hugged him. "You guys know I'll talk to your family ghosts too, right?"
"Howard's freaked out a few of us," one of the older geeks said. "I remember when he was in charge. When I was still a new intern, boss. I think he's trying to correct the bad things he let you do on her."
Callia snorted and waved a hand. "I like who I am." They smiled. "I remember crawling up into your lap more than once to have you explain the pretty liquids that bubbled."
He smiled back. "I remember teaching you a lot about chemistry. You were a cute little kid."
"Now I'm nearly ten and doing good on my own," she said with a smile. "Thanks to a lot of you guys helping. Next, Daddy and I are going to build my first car by hand." That got more smiles.
Pepper leaned in. "Callia, can I see you for a minute please?"
"What did I do this time?" she huffed. "I've been good all day, Mommy Pepper."
"You let Christopher test out those stupid rocket powered roller skates and he just broke his arm."
"No I didn't. I left them in my lab. I was going to put on that padded suit for the bop fighting thing and go test it after lunch. But I guess that proves Chris is a sneaky Stark too." She smiled at her dad.
Tony shook his head. "Just his arm, Pepper?"
"JARVIS, how did Chris find the skates?"
"I believe he was in search of his sister's illegal Red Bull stash again and spotted them. He tried them on and they were much too loose but he decided skates were fun. He accidentally ignited the rocket and went shooting up the hall until he ran into the wall by the elevator, sir."
Tony shook his head more quickly. "Callia, no Red Bull. If I find out you have more I'm going to spank you next time." He looked at Pepper. Who left them to talk. He looked around. "Let me know if Chris starts to come looking for mentors." They all smiled at him. "He has?"
"He came to the paint lab," one said. "He wanted to look at the colors. He's very artistic but I've seen him kissing your cars more than once."
"I guess the car people need good engineers too so they can make better than the Cube," Tony decided, cracking a few up. He looked around. "Do we want to restart the geek sports league?" They all nodded. "Okay. Still bowling, baseball or softball, and rugby?"
"Soccer?" one suggested. "Half of the rugby team retired last year."
"If that's what we want, I'll have Dawn arrange it." They all smiled and dug back in, going over what they were doing and the weird ideas they had gotten from Howard floating around complaining at them.
"Andrew, Callia said you had ghost busting stuff, can we borrow it?" one of the chemistry geeks said.
"Sure. It's in the lab in New York though."
Tony looked over. "The proton accelerator too?" Jonathan looked sheepish but nodded. "No wonder I stole you two from your evil ways. Jonathan, bring it up later so I can look at it and give credit where it's due instead of just to Andrew sometimes?"
"I can do that."
Callia bounded over to hug him. "Are you okay?"
"Are you sure?"
She looked at Patty. "Is he really okay?"
"We're having a few talks, Callia. He's not upset by it but it's something I need to work out in myself." She hugged her too. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." She grinned. "Are you having the baby out here?"
"I'd like to be at that birthing center but if I'm here maybe I'll try Dawn's OB midwife. Natasha's is a bit...stern."
"You will do as I say," Tony mocked in a German accent. "Not one bit more or one bit less."
Patty laughed and nodded. "Yup, basically, only not German. I think he's Australian."
Tony shook his head. "I'll looking into making someone on the staff OB trained, Patty. Maybe one of the nurses being midwife certified as well." He looked around. "Just think, some day I'll be the grandfather." They laughed at him for that joke.
"Yes but then you can teach us both, Daddy." Callia grinned. "Did you see the paper this morning?"
"No, I avoided it."
"I read it over Stepmom's shoulder when he was teaching me how to scramble eggs. He was reading Dear Abby and there was a parent that was really upset because her teenage daughter had decided to help a friend who was about to undergo serious cancer treatment have a baby since he'd be infertile afterward. She was like seventeen but her mom was all bent out of shape. Abby was not sure if she was proud of helping her or wanted to yell too."
Tony considered it then shuddered. "I can see that happening, yeah." He sighed. "Please don't? Not without warning?"
"I'll try really hard to remember boys are icky for at least another five years, Dad."
"Thanks." He hugged her. "Can you guys remind her what dirtbags most teenage guys are too?" They all nodded.
"I think that was sweet of that girl," MB admitted. "It's a very selfish gift but one he wouldn't have gotten to have without it."
"The mom in the letter said that the boy's parents wanted to be pushy and she had no idea how to handle that."
"Give them visitation too," Tony quipped. "That way their son has a reason to make it through treatment if at all possible."
JARVIS cleared his virtual throat. "Sir, I believe someone should go calm down Miss Pepper. She's sobbing because she found out someone is using a name she likes."
"I love mood swings. It means I can talk her into playing pranks," Callia said, heading to calm her mother down. She walked in and slid between her and her aunt. "Hey, why the water works?"
Pepper sniffled, looking at her. "That's such a line your dad would use. We need to get you some of your own." She hugged her. "It's just a mood swing."
"I'm told I'll have those evil hormones too, even if they'll be at the less evil levels until I spawn." She cuddled her, letting Pepper calm down. "I say we cap the baby that's using the name you like so much so you don't have to cry."
Pepper gave her a hug. "That's not even funny but I can endure."
"It's not a close friend," Dawn said. "Who said that there can't be two of them in the same age range? They'll probably never run into each other anyway. There's lots of other Philips out there."
She nodded. "Maybe. Sorry. It just hit me."
"Shh, we'll be girls together," Callia promised, smiling at her. "I gotta learn somewhere before I put on those boy panties that Auntie found for Philip."
Dawn smiled. "I should have Philip put them on." She went to call home and talk to him. He liked to answer the phone. He was at that age to babble.
Pepper and Callia shared a look then shook their heads and went back to cuddling. Something exploded in the parking lot. "That's not Shield Design," Pepper quipped. But Dawn blew them up for it a minute later so it was okay. Tony could hang out with his geeks, Dawn could give her son evil ideas, and Pepper could get cuddles and calm down. It was all good in their lives today.
Tony looked out the window. "Huh. The guy that tried to blow up the gate is sorry. Dawn handled it." He came back over to talk to the geeks. They all looked happier for having Dawn handle things so that was a good thing.
Philip hung up the phone with a few blown kisses and ran to his room. Mommy had given him special big boy pants. They looked like Uncle Tony. He found them and squealed, putting them on over his diaper. They were cute! He found the bigger pair. Those must be for Daddy like Mommy said. He wore big boy panties too. He ran into their room, climbing up on the bed to wave them at him. "Dada!"
"What?" he asked, looking over from kissing Mommy to stare at him. "Those are cute big boy underwear, son. Did your mom buy those?" He smiled and took the pair Philip was waving. "Oh, we match!" He was trying to hold in the disgusted look. He wasn't exactly one to wear Iron Man underwear.
"Dawn said kids liked to match their parents," Natasha said. "You look very good in big boy pants, son. We'll have to teach you to use a potty so you can wear them more often." Philip grunted and pointed at the bigger ones. "Of course he'll put them on."
Clint looked at them. "Why do they have lace around the edges?" His son pouted so he put them on under the sheet so Philip could see him in them. He'd hold in the shuddering in horror he wanted to do and the disgusted looks. Philip squealed and hugged him, letting his daddy cuddle back. He looked down, expecting to see another picture of Iron Man, not ruffles. He pushed his son back to look at the front then at Natasha. "Do I even want to ask?"
"They're for boys who do the pageants or something."
"So she got our son gay boy panties?" She smiled and nodded. "I'm so spanking her later." He got up and took Philip to change into better big boy panties, earning a pout. "We'll go buy you more, son. How about that?" He squealed like Mommy and hugged him. "I like that too." He wouldn't admit his were comfortable drawers. He and his son didn't need gay show boy panties. His son didn't need ruffles on anything. He gave Nat a kiss before getting dressed and taking Philip with him to find big boy panties he'd like. They should make boxer briefs for kids, right?
Natasha laughed, teasing herself to relieve the stress Clint had caused. She sent Dawn a thought and a mental picture of them in them.
Dawn went to see Chris, showing him the big boy panties. And the matching ones for Daddy. Chris beamed and put them on, running toward where Daddy was hiding, waving the bigger ones. Dawn went back to her desk to wait.
Tony looked over as his son barged into the room waving something. "Hi, Chris. Shouldn't you be wearing pants over your big boy underwear? And why are you wearing Hawkeye ones?" Someone by the door burst out laughing. He looked at where she was pointing, looking at his son's butt. "Ruffles. Your aunt is in a funny mood." A few people took pictures of his face. Chris beamed and waved the bigger pair. "Huh, they have a daddy pair. That's so cool," he said with a grin. "I can put them on after a bath later." Chris pouted.
"Dad, it'll help him remember to use the potty if you match," Callia called from the doorway, leaning in with a smile. "Kids like to match their parents. Remember me in your t-shirts?" She gave him a look and smiled sweetly. "Philip got a pair of yours and Grandma has a pair of Hulk matching ones for Philip and Grandpa."
Tony moaned slightly. His daughter was just as evil as her aunt. "Sure, I'll put them on." He took Chris to the bathroom to do that. If it'd help him potty train, he'd wear them for his son and then destroy them. Then he'd give Barton ideas on how to cure his wife's bad mental state. He'd ignore that his had ruffles of lace around each opening and his son's butt ruffles. Chris squealed and made picture motions so JARVIS took one. "Don't you dare," Tony warned his AI.
"Very well, sir."
Tony grinned and put on his pants. "Go potty for me, Chris?" Chris climbed up to stand on top of the potty and pulled out his tiny peepee to pee for his daddy, beaming at him. "How you can have that bad of aim while you're standing on it I'm not sure, son, but okay." He got him cleaned up and got him pants then came back to his geeks. They adored Chris. He was a happy baby like Callia had been. Though he had to stop him from showing off the big boy panties.
"Now all he needs is his sister's new heels," one of the chemists quipped with a smirk for the boss.
"If he wants to cross-dress, I'll make sure Pepper and Dawn teach him how to do it skillfully so he'll pass," Tony quipped back, cracking them up.
"At least those are boy panties, Stark. My son wanted to wear mine," one of the women said. "Usually on his head but not always."
Tony shook his head. "I hope he trains soon. I really do. JARVIS, ask Pepper when we licensed that stuff to the underwear people?"
"A few months back, SHIELD was asked to license them and we agreed at the same time, sir. We make a nice royalty each time a pair of those is sold."
"Great," Tony said with a grin for his son. The others in there cracked up at the sarcasm. That was the old Tony Stark they used to enjoy. He did send a warning email to Bruce. That way he could hide them from the kids who'd want him to match them.
Clint walked his little heathen into the boxer store. It was a boutique but it had all sorts of boxers and boy clothes. "His mommy got him ruffly boy panties."
"We have those." He smiled.
"I'd like something a bit more standard maybe? Boxer briefs?"
"We have a few. Mostly for boys his age it's y-fronts." He showed him those. Clint avoided the section with the other super hero panties. His son pouted at him but he liked plaid. That was good. They had plaid boxers and plaid underwear. Philip liked those, he hugged them. Clint smiled and got those, taking them home. He'd carefully hide the other ones to embarrass the hell out of their son when he was old enough to date. And so he never had to wear them again. Natasha could giggle all she wanted.
Bruce got the text from Tony, staring at it oddly. He went up to his underwear drawer, finding the package that proudly had the large 'daddy and baby set' sticker on the front. Sure enough, it was Hulk underwear. He looked at them. "Ruffles?" He looked at them. They were male underwear. He put it in the back of the closet, walking off shaking his head. His wife was having a playful moment thanks to her daughter. They really needed them all on one coast again so they could go shopping together to wear those out. Before he went a tiny bit nuts. "Why would boys want to wear green rage monster underwear?" he complained out loud. "That's not really a great role model."
He decided he needed to look them up and did that, finding the Iron Man ones. "At least he's on the penis. He should like the irony of his armor being a penis statement. Many men think of it as the ultimate penis statement anyway. Or Hawkeye's bow," he said when he spotted them. He nearly choked when he spotted the Nick Fury one. And there was Agent Coulson and Alexander ones.
No Black Widow ones in boys, not that he expected that. She really was for bigger boys, not potty training boys. He texted Natasha to let her know she had a set in the little girl panties. Complete with a handgun in hand, standing sideways like she was about to look around a corner. Whoever had done the images had taken them from openly available fandom stock it seemed. He finally gave up and wrote Coulson to see if he knew. He could handle it if they weren't authorized or smack someone around if they were. Bruce had science stuff he wanted to do and he felt like a pervert looking at little boy underwear.
Natasha got the text, looking them up. "That is not the stance I'd want on them." On the backside was her standing hands on her hips, feet apart, staring at them. "That should scare anyone from touching them hopefully." She shook her head and sent a request to Agent Hill. She was in charge of things like merchandising requests. Then she sent one to Pepper, which made her send back a laugh. Though she and Callia did agree it was probably very protective of the wearers.
Phil looked over from doing paperwork as his phone vibrated. He picked it up to look at the simple text message from Banner. He clicked on the link and blinked a few times. "I'm on what?" He noticed it mentioned a few other styles and looked at them. The Nick Fury one was him looking to the side from the kid's front and him staring at you on the backside. Phil grimaced. "I think the Avengers merchandising empire is a bit too broad." He looked over them all. His was a bit creepy. His had his gun up, in ready to move stance, looking around a corner. On the back, he had a gun in hand and was staring at something. That had to come from that fan-snapped shot after a battle. He had seen it during the monitoring of an Avengers convention. He went up to the main office, looking at Maria. "You let them use fan shots?" he asked.
She smiled. "It's very encouraging of young boys to want to be super heros. Even your son's done it a few times."
"Yes, but they have lace."
"Those are made for boys in pageants. So they feel manly even as they're paraded around like dress up dolls."
Phil grimaced but shook his head. "I'd rather not be on those sort. Especially not with a gun in hand. It probably sends the wrong message since I'm armed on them."
"She hasn't seen hers yet?" Joyce called from the office. She smiled. "I got Bruce a daddy and baby set so he and Philip can match."
Phil shook his head, showing her the set with Agent Hill on it. Maria moaned and shook her head. She'd talk to that company. "Perhaps less armed ones? Because frankly, some of them are probably protective. Especially the Nick Fury ones."
She smirked evilly. "I put a pair of those in his ferret bed," she said quietly. "He was not amused."
Phil nodded. "I wouldn't be either." He walked off shaking his head. Sometimes he worried that SHIELD was warped beyond redemption. The rest, he was sure of it. He sent a thought at Xander that he was on big boy panties with his axe and on the back with a sword. Xander choked and spluttered, letting Roque pound him on the back until he could breathe again. Maybe that would stop that cold. He doubted Xander had given permission.
"We can talk to them about using more positive images," Joyce said as she came out for hot water for her tea. "Strong female images that aren't holding weapons."
"Yes, I can, and perhaps make them cartoon characters as well." She walked off to talk to them once she had the file pulled up so she could figure out who to talk to.
Dawn got the daily mail and looked at it. "Huh. Why did that come up from PR?" She looked it over briefly to see which person it went to. She put it aside carefully, not letting any hint of it get through her bond to her mates. The rest was pretty standard mail and an 'I hate you' letter that didn't get found. That got sent to PR to handle. They sent it back saying that she wasn't part of Stark. Dawn gathered things to take to Pepper, walking into the apartment after knocking. "The other petty people are in PR." She handed over that letter with the post-it they had sent up still attached.
Pepper looked at it. "That came from...."
"Are they doing the hate letters again?"
"As far as I know. Want me to go ask them?"
"No, I'll figure that out. I'm taking an afternoon break. What's the other one?"
"Something that will either send Tony into fits of geek glee or make him hide. Someone wants permission to do an Iron Man cartoon." She handed it over with a grin.
"I'm not sure which he'll do either." She looked over the proposal, including a few plot lines for episodes. "I guess it's nice that they asked, unlike the two comics that got started at a convention and moved on from there. I know we're ignoring those."
Dawn nodded. "They're pretty good actually." Someone knocked. "Let me see who that is." She went to check then opened the door. "Pepper, it's the head of Payroll."
"Let her in." She put her feet up. "I'm taking a break for a nap before a conference call tonight. What's up?"
"We need to have this non-employee escorted off property. It's protocol."
Pepper looked at Dawn then at her. "She's not fired."
"She's been fired a few times."
"Yes, and it was always undone because the people who did it had no right to do that."
"She's missed work without calling off."
"She's only supposed to work on the days we work. One of those was right after I had Liz and was on maternity leave. Tony took off three days so Dawn got them off as well. For that matter, one of them tried it when Dawn was on maternity leave and had the paperwork in."
"I didn't hear about that one," Dawn admitted. She sat down. "Is that why I was going to come down later on to nag you about my paycheck not being deposited?" The head of Payroll looked smug and nodded. She looked at Pepper. "JARVIS, can you please send Tony back for a few minutes. That way the CEO and the head of the company can both talk?"
"Of course, Dawn. He's on his way."
Tony walked in a minute later and shut the door, letting Chris run off to the bathroom. "What's up? JARVIS said that the pettiness issue came back." He sat down beside Pepper. He looked at Dawn, who pointed. "I didn't figure you started it. Though, idea I'll have a fit about?"
"Cartoons?" She tossed it at him.
Tony glanced it over, one eye twitching a few times. He carefully put it down. "I'll rant about that later." He looked at the head of something. "Who're you?"
"She's the head of Payroll," Pepper said. "We've had a few problems from them. Including one of her people deciding that Dawn's exemptions and withholding statements needed to be changed on her."
"That's not legal," she sneered at Dawn.
"I called the IRS and that's what they said to do," Dawn said dryly. "So did my tax accountant."
"You're still a nothing."
Dawn shrugged. "Glad to be here if it means I'm not polluting people." Tony gave her a pointed look. She relaxed and let Chris crawl up into her lap to get a hug.
Chris looked at his mommy then at the angry person. "Dumb bitch."
"Who taught you that?" Dawn demanded. "You know better!"
"Oops?" he asked, giving the big eyed look his sister had taught him.
"That came from Callia, so did the look," Pepper said dryly. "We'll talk about language later, son." She looked at the idiot. "Frankly, Dawn's not going to be fired. Ever."
"She doesn't have a contract," she said smugly.
"I'm not due a new one until January," Dawn quipped back.
"I've got it in the lab," Tony assured her.
"I'm not worried," Dawn promised.
The head of Payroll glared at her. "You've gotten above yourself, Summers. You're no better than the rest of us and all you are is a glorified secretary."
"Mostly, yeah, I am. That's all I ever do beyond going to collect reports in the lab and make sure people have eaten. When have I ever gotten above that?"
"You force your way into going to things. No *secretary* goes to society events."
"We make her go," Tony said. "That way she can divert press attention off us and it gives us someone intelligent to talk to. Any personal assistant of ours would be going, even if they weren't young and cute."
The head of Payroll huffed. "It's not right."
Tony stared at her. "Why isn't it right? She makes the big money because she handles everything for us so we don't have to do as much. Everything from my personal schedule to Pepper's to hate mail to threats to helping with the kids' schedules to research for us. She does a lot more than a standard secretary does. Then again, if she had said that the press attention bothered her, we would've let her pull back."
"I'm well aware I'm there to take the pressure off you and Pepper by being a shiny target," Dawn said with a slight shrug. "Doesn't bother me even if it does bother Clint and Natasha. Then again, they stare at me so those two and the rest of you can slip aside."
"That's what we had planned," Pepper agreed. She looked at the huffy woman again. "A lot of us bring our assistants and life managers to those things so they can handle things and if someone pops up needing to make an appointment they can do that."
"Did you know she's more popular than either of you are?" she sneered.
"Good!" Tony agreed, smiling at Dawn. "Good job."
Tony looked at her again. She was still mad as hell by her expression. "We like that. It means less stalking of us and the kids by stupid reporters. We like that and that's what we had planned when we talked to her about it." He looked over her current outfit. "You look nice in that. Good job covering the baby bump." Dawn smiled. "We didn't mind last time's but I remember you getting weird looks a few times ."
"I did but thankfully peplums have come back into style." She smiled back. Then looked at the payroll person. "Any other complaints against me?"
"You're being paid a lot more than a common secretary."
"I also have a master's degree and I am walking a second one this spring." The woman glared. Dawn shrugged. "Truth. I do."
"You can't have anything. You didn't attend classes and all those online universities are crap."
"I went through a real school's online program, well two school's," Dawn admitted. "Not something like Phoenix University. A real, accredited college. A lot of them have online options these days. The one for my joint Masters, they considered all the other credits I had taken, had me take some tests for work credit counting, and then I took the rest of the classes. The new one, which is a language degree, I got out of a school in Rio but still a fully accredited, very highly thought of school with some online classes."
The head of Payroll glared. "There's no way you got your job out of high school at that rate."
"No, it went up when I got back from our needed world trip," Dawn said dryly. "I had been making forty before then. Which was good secretary range. When I finally got to come back to the office, I was a few credits shy of my degree, took them, and graduated right before my contract renegotiation." She shifted to cross her feet. "I'm sure you've seen that degrees automatically up your salary." Tony and Pepper both nodded that it did.
"You still did things, you probably magicked them or something," she sneered.
Dawn shook her head. "No, I didn't have enough control of my powers to magic anyone subtly until about two years ago. Back when they took me in, I hadn't studied a damn bit of magical theory. I studied to try to figure out how to protect myself and it became a good thing I did." She flapped a hand but Chris captured it to hug. She smiled at him. "I love you too, Chris." He smiled at his mommy and waved then glared at the huffy woman again. "Leave her be, Chris," she said quietly. "Don't worry about her." He shifted to cuddle her better, settling in for a nap. Tony smiled. "He's a good boy." She checked the air cast on his arm but it was fine.
"He is," Tony agreed. He looked at her. "Beyond all your objections and conjecture, that's not for you to worry about. That's for Pepper and I to worry about. If we want to pay our personal assistant an outrageous salary, so be it. The only one that should be concerned about her salary is her and us."
"Though I can now see where all the fits about Dawn's ID card have started," Pepper said dryly. "All the times I had to fix it, I thought it was someone in the New York office."
"Maybe we need a housekeeping," Tony agreed. "Frankly, here at Stark, we need and reward greatness. Dawn does excellently in her field. She's solved a lot of problems and found even more that others have started to try to fuck with the company." Chris made unhappy noises. "Sorry, son." He looked at her again. "Pepper went from accounting to my personal assistant to CEO."
"We all know why," she sneered.
"I hadn't slept with Pepper before she became a CEO," Tony said with a glare at her. "Flirted a lot. Sexually harassed a few times, but not slept with."
"So now you have a younger version?" she sneered.
"No, Dawn's firmly committed to her relationship."
"It's not everyone that you end up telepathically bonded with," Dawn quipped with a grin. "Though it's really hot and Clint likes to growl over it sometimes."
"It's still not legal."
Dawn shrugged. "Plenty of people have commitment ceremonies instead of actual weddings or live together instead. We're happy with what we have. Natasha filed the marriage licences on us and we found out later. Didn't change much after a few days of thinking about it." She patted Chris on the back since he was starting to shift in agitation. "Calm down, Chris," she said quietly, soothing him. He shifted again, still scowling. Dawn blocked the hit of magic that came out. "No, that's not allowed," she chided gently. "You can't attack someone, Christopher Darren Oliver Stark."
Callia ran in. "I felt Chris blast someone."
"I stopped it," Dawn assured her.
"Cool." She hugged her brother, calming him down. "I think he's got a few nightmares."
"It could be," Dawn agreed, patting him on the back until he finished calming down. She let Callia climb up next to her to help her.
Tony got up and took him. "C'mere, son. We'll cuddle," he soothed. Chris made pouty faces for being woken up. "You can have Auntie Dawn later." Chris sighed but snuggled in on him, peeing on him. "Oops, an accident." He took him to the bathroom to clean up. They came back out both changed and sat beside Pepper again. Pepper was arguing with the woman about what her job was. "It doesn't matter," he said firmly. "She's no longer employed by us for being behind some of the sabotage we've had." Dawn smiled. "We're having a talk about you fighting back."
"I do fight back plenty of times but I also know when it's not my job, Tony. Me fighting with her wouldn't solve anything."
"She looked horrified that Dawn was in here when she showed up," Pepper said. "I don't think she expected Dawn to be here. She looked at Tony. "She has defended herself. Not like Dawn could laugh it off and fire her."
"Good point." He looked at the coldly staring woman. "We don't allow sabotage of any form and we do have anti-discrimination policies in place, which you violated."
"There's a keep your nose out of everyone's business one too," Callia said dryly from her aunt's lap. "Her relationship, her religion, and her flirty days are none of your business unless they push on your office's effectiveness."
"She calls out to her *goddess* all the time," she sneered at the kid.
Callia shrugged. "You call out loudly to yours a lot more often."
"Mine's normal. It's the American way."
"I'm afraid that there were plenty of non-Christians that came over in the first few rushes. Not like they all came over for religious freedom. The rest came without preachers, food, or their families. That showed they weren't here for more than getting rich quick. For that matter, there's been Muslims, Buddhists, and people from other faiths here since before the Revolutionary war. America's a melting pot and if you don't like it, move. We can suggest a few islands your kind can take over so you don't have to see anyone but your own people. Not like breeding will become a concern since you guys don't like to." The woman tried to hit her and Dawn snapped up to stop the bitch. "Wow," Callia said, finding herself floating in air. "I need to learn this spell." Her father helped her down and took the woman trying to get free from Dawn's grip from her. He walked her out and let Security have her. "Yay Daddy!"
Dawn sat down with a huff, pulling her over to cuddle her again and ending the floating spell. "Sorry it went physical," she said when Tony came back.
"I would've slugged her a while back," Pepper quipped.
Dawn shrugged. "Wouldn't have proven anything to her."
"I'll fix the payroll thing tonight," Pepper promised. Dawn grinned. "I'm sure you're not broke."
"No, I have plenty in savings."
"Auntie, what are you going to do with that settlement from Mr. Fury's booboos?" Callia asked.
"Not sure yet. We'll figure that out when we get it."
Tony stared at her. "They should've handed over the first part last month." Dawn shrugged. "I'll ask Agent Hill." He sent her that text message. "Why haven't you?"
"I have asked. She said she wasn't sure why I didn't get it and never got back with me. Maybe all of SHIELD is mad because of it. The guy the other night hated me being next to Natasha."
"We'll figure it out," Pepper said, texting Steve. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Pepper. Tired of all this shit but fine. It's not the first time." Pepper nodded she knew that. "How are we going to find out if there's any others?"
"There's at least a few," Callia said. "A few have said things like 'that's the alien' about you."
"I'm not alien."
"I think it went on the whole 'glowy ball' thing," Callia admitted.
"Probably," Tony agreed. "Tell me who you hear that stuff from, kiddo. I need to know to fix the company."
Howard faded into view, rattling off a few names. "I was wondering how long you'd let that go on."
"Not that long," Tony said dryly. "Those ones need my foot up their asses." Pepper nodded. "Let me go kick asses." He wrote down the names on his way out. He trusted his father but he probably hadn't gotten all of them. What he found did not amuse him. That anti-talent church had people in his staff. They had some in SHIELD. That showed they needed to do a better job of hiring. He checked in the daycare. Philip was pouting at Daddy. "Barton?"
Clint looked over. "Asking why he had what looked like a curling iron burn on his side, Stark."
Tony came over to look at it, frowning. "Liz had one of those too." He stared at him. "When did they happen?" he asked the daycare worker.
"We don't have a heat source down here to do something like that, Mr. Stark. We have no idea. Have you asked Dawn since she's always with the kids?"
"I can," he said, looking up. "JARVIS?"
"She said she asked about it yesterday when she found it during a lunchtime diaper change and they said it was just where he brushed against something to scrape himself," the AI said.
"Where did it actually come from?" Clint asked, looking up. Then at the daycare workers.
"If you look in Miss Thelma's bag, I'm afraid you'll find the reason. She was using it to punish any of the children that showed gifts."
"Philip doesn't have gifts," Tony said. "No magic or anything."
"He has a gift of music," Clint said with a grin. "He's already trying to play my guitar."
"JARVIS, have Pepper or Dawn look at Chris's side?"
"He has two on his thigh," the AI said. "They don't need to look."
Clint pulled out his phone to call someone. "You can't prove that," Miss Thelma sneered. Her fellow workers were giving her horrified looks. "They're wrong! They have to be taught not to be freaks!" she shouted with a point.
"No, they don't," Clint said, talking to the dispatcher. She promised she'd get someone there before he could kill her. He hung up. "Ten," he told Stark.
"Fine." He handed him Philip. "You didn't think that JARVIS tapes everything in here for the parents?" Tony asked. "A lot of milestones happen in here instead of at home."
The head of the daycare nodded. "We knew, Mr. Stark, and we appreciate it. That way if something happens we now what happened. If JARVIS had told me I would've stopped as soon as I heard."
"She usually did it while you were getting their lunches. The other daycare worker scowled but kept most of the children from her," the AI said.
"I couldn't protect them," she complained.
"You could've told us," Tony said. "And you're going too." She nodded, getting up to gather her things. The police officers got there and the kids ran over to babble and pat them until the officers smiled.
"Guys, let the officers work and I'll see if I can get someone in to talk to you guys tomorrow," Clint ordered. They calmed down and watched in awe as they arrested two people. Clint grinned at the head of the daycare. "I'll help tomorrow. They listen to me."
"They do. It's a miracle because Philip never listens to me."
He smirked. "He only really loves Mommy Natasha." She laughed but nodded. Clint wrote an email to someone to see if they had anyone on the disabled list who would like to talk to a daycare. Street sent back that he had two according to the Captain and they'd be there at one. "Street said he'd send someone around one." Tony patted him on the arm with a grin, walking off. "More stress?"
"The head of Payroll has been screwing with Dawn's files too."
"Want me to help Dawn rant on her lj?"
"Nope. Let's leave this internal for now." Clint sent that thought at Dawn, then shrugged, settling in to play with the kids. Tony had some mediocre idiots to root out before they ruined his company. He would not let the company fall to idiots.
Steve got the email from Tony and grimaced. He showed it to Joyce.
"I don't know how we'd find out if they were members of that movement or that church," she said quietly. "Unless we hacked any lists they might have."
"I'm not sure if we can or not." He called Phil up. Something this delicate would take Phil or someone he chose's touch. He showed him the email.
"I figured there were a few. I've had people looking into that group. There's definitely non-affiliated members here and there."
"Tony's having to clean house," Steve said. "The head of payroll went after Dawn."
"Not the first time," Phil said. He went to get the information they had on the problem, bring it back up the normal way because him appearing in the office seemed to unnerve some of the junior agents. He laid out what they already had and knew. Steve and Joyce talked about it and they decided to call a staff meeting to bust them and fire them. They didn't need those sort screwing up missions on purpose and the whole group had gotten write ups recently for those sort of incidences. Phil got them all there and let the bosses handle it. Though he heard a few prayers that they were undercover during it. Those he tapped to stay late for a talk. Phil looked at them. "Who told you to do that?"
"Marjorie Simms," one of them said.
"Rialta told me," another of the six said. The rest nodded at that.
"All right. We'll talk with them tonight. Then we'll see. I'll tell the directors personally." They nodded and acted like they had been fired as well. Phil called those two handlers up to the office to talk to the bosses. "I had no idea you had people undercover," he announced.
"You didn't get one of mine. There's a few that are might-as-well-be's too," Rialta said, flipping her hair over her shoulder. Phil handed over the list he had made, getting a nod. Simms added to it as well. Joyce got their files handled and it was easier on them to do what they needed to do. Steve went over what they had gathered. There may be Freedom of Religion but that freedom didn't mean you could screw up SHIELD missions on purpose. There was no Freedom to Endanger the World in the Constitution.
Steve presented the case against that church, and the members, to the liaison SHIELD had with the US Attorney's office. "We found some, Stark found some screwing things up. Tony's really pissed. Two of his oldest geeks were part of that group. They had plans to disable the Iron Man suit for good."
The US Attorney shook his head. "To quote your predecessor: Mother Fucker!" Steve grinned. "How many more might be going on?"
"We have a few we're not sure about."
"Good to know. Any other evidence of that?" Steve handed over the box of evidence they had gathered. "Wow, you guys are good."
"If it relates to the world being ended, we have to act. There's no Freedom to Screw Up the Universe in any legal book."
"No, there's not." He looked it over, nodding, making notes. "I'd assume you had people under cover?"
"No comment until the trial. That way those wackos can't hurt them."
"Probably a good idea since they tried to burn the house Stark's rebuilding in Malibu." Steve winced. "He didn't tell you?"
"No, I heard. We were watching a movie with the kids when the alarms started to go off." He sighed and shifted his stance. "I've never heard Pepper go off that way before." The attorney smirked at him. "Really. Mood swings have nothing on a really enraged Pepper Potts."
"That figures. She's a fierce woman if she can put up with Stark for all those years." He looked up. "I'll submit it to the bosses, Captain."
"Thank you. We know you have a few in your office as well." He shook his hand and walked off to go to his meeting with the other agency heads. Joyce was already there.
The attorney looked over the list of names. "I do see a few of my coworkers. Then again, I saw one on the 'sold my soul for power' list last year too." He called his boss. "Sir, freedom of religion against harming the world case thanks to SHIELD. Right now, sir. We have a good case." He hung up and let his boss come get it himself. His boss wasn't on that list and he had spat about the church more than once.
Joyce smiled as she sat down. "Gentlemen. Steve's with the US Attorney's office. He'll be here shortly."
"We know you're co-heads," one of them said. "What's happened?"
"Two things. The updated information on what we think will happen this spring. We're still not totally sure if that one demon's death will matter or not." She handed that disc over to be run. "The other is on that stupid group of humans who hates super heros and anyone else odd enough that they've decided to mess up agencies. You all have members." She handed over that box. "That's what we've gathered so far and what Steve's presenting to the US Attorney today."
They got into that one first. A few were very unhappy.
The head of the CIA looked at her. "I had wondered how that operation got so screwed up."
"One of them is spilling his guts." She smiled. "On purpose. The other one was in charge. That file's in there by itself, Director." He looked and found it, reading it over. He did not look pleased. The other agency heads looked even less pleased. "When we found out, we went looking and shed about thirty agents. Stark International also had to shed some people, including some people that had been with them for ages. One since before Tony had taken over."
"That sucks," they agreed.
"This clearly does impact world security," the head of Homeland agreed, looking at her. "The US Attorney?"
"Steve should be here in a few minutes. It's just up the street." They smiled. "Alas, I don't read minds."
"Thankfully; that's a really creepy power," the head of Homeland said with a smile. "Your daughter doesn't use hers all that often."
"She keeps hers focused on her spouses." She wouldn't tell them that Dawn only merged with them. If it kept her daughter safer, it was good to make her sound more scary.
"That's probably a good thing with how often SHIELD agents and your daughter get into the strangest things," the head of the CIA said. "I'd have to send you anyone who did the same thing."
Joyce smiled. "It takes a special type of agent to be SHIELD but we will gladly come poach the best agents."
"Yes, it does." Steve walked in and nodded, shutting the door behind them. "Are they charging them?"
"He's passing it up to his boss but he seemed to think there was enough there to charge them on." He sat down. "Have we went over this spring yet?" They shook their heads so he let someone run the information disc. "This is what we've gotten from the LA team and Dawn's own kitten poker information contacts. We're still not sure if that one demon that attacked the parade was the head general or if he was just a general. They apparently all look alike and we didn't take his name."
"If they're the head one, will it happen anyway?" one asked.
Steve shrugged. "Probably."
"Our probability people said seventy/thirty chance of it happening even if he was in total control of the military," Joyce said.
"So still a pretty good chance," the head of Homeland agreed. "We can subtly move more agents that way during that time."
Steve smiled. "Dawn has made it a point to tell those bigots that if they were so unhappy with us, they should probably show up during that attack."
"We won't arrest them or any militant yahoos that show up," the head of the FBI agreed with a smile for them. "They'd better disappear really quickly though."
"That's how the invasion was handled too from what I was told," Joyce said. "I was in the hospital then. Thankfully far, far away from the center of the invasion."
"They have the option of using one in the desert, one of those natural archways," Steve said. "Connor's team couldn't be sure which they'd use. So either you've got a few there, two in downtown LA, or Palm Springs. We know they won't go north. They're very susceptible to cold from what Connor and Faith have told us. Just a ten degree shift can kill them."
"Okay," they agreed. "Can Dawn manipulate weather, Miss Summers?"
"Perhaps but I'm not sure if it'll be safe for her." One moaned and shook his head. "Yes, she's pregnant. She is taking Agent Barton's backup spot so she'll be doing long-range things until she delivers. We'll hopefully have Atlantis back by then?" she asked Steve.
"I heard the tentative date was next week," Steve said. "So we'll have the SGC helping if we need it." The other heads nodded. "We've given O'Neill a head's up as well."
"That's good. He's used to dealing with screwed up shit like this." The head of Homeland looked at them. "Why is your daughter pregnant?"
She smiled. "Because she wanted a daughter. There's not really any way to plan it so you're not pregnant over the spring since it varies when the big things happen. She'd probably be getting back into shape if she wasn't pregnant."
"We have other witches," the head of the FBI said. "More light duty ones but I'm sure they can learn to work together."
"The coven that Callia trains with will gladly help with *defensive* things," Steve said. "I asked."
"That's what we'd expect anyway," the head of the FBI agreed. "Plus Alexander and whoever he can draw in."
"He's already alerted the whole temple and they're making plans on who can be there and who can't," Steve agreed. "He and Roque helped a lot with the last one."
"I remember. It was a good battle," the head of the CIA said with a smile. "His mate can keep up?"
"Agent Coulson asked to have himself trained better. Xander took him to the Dwarfs that had trained him in combat skills. Phil got highest honors from them. He's really good and even Xander loses to him sometimes. I've seen Roque and John Sheppard both lose to him. Xander just smiles proudly."
The head of Homeland laughed. "We like that he's still a goofy, mushy guy underneath." He looked at the information they had. "Blow the head off?"
"Or blow the chest out," Joyce agreed. "Either's doable. So large caliber shotguns would be best unless you want your people to carry a backup machete for beheading."
"I think that'd be practical anyway. What do the agents in Cleveland carry?" Joyce pulled up that list and projected it from her Starkpad. "Sounds pretty normal."
"Xander makes sure all new trainees know how to use a crossbow and a short sword or a machete just in case," Steve said with a grin. "They get three lessons on each during training. He also goes into survival skills just in case they ever need it."
"SHIELD agents are more likely to be displaced to some other realm than any of us," the head of the CIA agreed.
"We've only had one and we managed to get him back with Tara's help," Joyce said with a smile. "Then Tara went to rip him a new one for that. He's very sorry and he likes that he's in jail away from angry blonde women."
"Tara has a temper sometimes," Steve agreed. "Never with the kids though. She's a really good mom." Joyce smiled at him. He looked at the others. "Do you guys want to set up where you'll join the fight from if it starts? Or do you just want your people to jump in wherever they're standing when it starts?"
"We'll arrange for a centralized emergency depot of weapons and ammo," the head of Homeland decided. "LA could use it anyway for riots, demon uprisings, and these things." He looked at the head of the FBI. "Your building?"
"Too far out of the way by where the last few happened."
"Do what you do in New York with that not-really-an-office off-site," Joyce offered. "You both have not-offices with phone banks and the like downtown."
"We can easily do that in LA," the head of Homeland agreed. "We could use one anyway."
"Where's the other possible portal location?" the head of the CIA asked.
"There's a portal underneath the old post office that leads to some higher beings who don't like to answer questions about what's going on," Joyce said, pulling up a map. "There. That goes to the Oracles and if they wanted to, Dawn said it's not that hard to put one against the outside of theirs to open a new one. Same form sharing the doorway basically."
"Which would lead to a few areas of concern when they ran out," the head of the FBI said. "A few subway stations." Joyce pointed at something. "The usual pass-through?"
"That's a demon club for fire and earth elementals from what Dawn told me. So they could come up through it. It probably has an underground hatchway. A lot of Sunnydale's demon businesses did." They made note of that to look at it.
"I wouldn't want to shut them down but maybe we can talk to them about closing the gateway during that time so nothing can get up it."
"Then again, it could be a safety hatch for anything stuck down there," Steve said.
"They can probably put up a bouncer or someone there," Joyce said. "To handle it in case it's that sort of situation instead of the bad ones trying to get out."
"That's not a bad idea," the head of the FBI agreed. "I can talk to our people there that deal with things to talk to them about it." The other agency directors nodded. "What if it doesn't happen?"
"We'll throw a party," Joyce said. "I'd *love* to never have another big apocalypse again."
They smiled at her. She still handled the slayers like they were her daughter. It was good for the girls. "Will anyone else have a problem?" the head of Homeland asked. "Like Cleveland?"
"Not that we're aware of," Steve said. "I haven't specifically asked. I'll ask Faith later tonight when she's awake." They nodded and broke up to handle their plans and the problems in their own agencies.
Tony looked at the list of employees he had to fire over the last few days. "How did we get so many of them?"
"It was partially targeted," Dawn said as she walked in with his lunch tray and coffee. "I asked and Phil said that they did target the company on purpose because of your shiny suit of armor. And you missed two." She put down their letters of resignation. "We had to hide the kids for a bit so they didn't see the ambulance people." Tony stared at her. "One from the top of the arc reactor building, shouting at the top of her lungs about how godless we all were and all that.
"I got the geeks to safety in the gym and the kids ran in there so Callia took them to teach them about science stuff like plants and animals. She went over basic classifications. The other one we found while we were clearing everyone away from her suicidal-ness. She had a bomb strapped to her chest." Tony slumped, shaking his head. "Which, again, not our fault."
"No, it's not. So they did target us because of Iron Man?" Dawn nodded. "They yell at you?"
"The one with the bomb yelled that I was evil and she was going to make sure my evil didn't spread by taking me and Philip out with it. She was a bit confused though. She had taken stuff to calm her down so she wouldn't fight hitting the switch."
"Why didn't I hear about this?"
"You were talking to the people about the house fire."
"Oh, then." He read over the two letters. "Did they save the jumper?"
"Yeah, after she jumped. It's only three stories, she more than survived it, Tony. Has a slight skull fracture. Needs some traction because she landed on her feet, and broke them and her legs." Tony shuddered. "Oh, yes. JARVIS has it saved down for whenever you're ready to hear her rants. The cops outright laughed at her that you were part of some new world order to take over. Apparently you're building the new Illuminati, boss." She smiled. "If so, can I take over South America so I get more bikini time?"
He rolled his eyes but smiled before stuffing his mouth. "We'll see," he said once he had swallowed. "What did Pepper want?"
"Figures." She laughed as she walked off. "I'm going to get you for that underwear thing too, Summers."
She cackled, smiling at him. "The boys *love* them, Tony. And boys need to feel pretty sometimes too. I got him a Nick Fury pair too." She grinned and disappeared.
Tony shook his head. "My poor son. We need to do some manly stuff sometime. Maybe a trip to Vegas to camp." He finished his lunch. Then he watched the saved video. "Fuck," he muttered, going to the gym. Most of the geeks were still in there. They were playing games with the kids too. So that was great. They could have a Stark Free Day. They could all use the stress relief. Even Pepper was playing scrabble with the geeks and losing.
Xander was pouting when Phil got back. "Why do I have the urge to hide?" Phil quipped.
"You'd hide from me?" Xander asked.
Phil nodded. "Probably if it's going to require more than sex or cuddling tonight. Is it?"
"Then why the pout?"
"John called me a liberated jackass who has no brains."
"Why did your brother insult jackasses?" Xander scowled. Phil smirked slightly. "Why are you two fighting now?"
"Apollo wants John to take in the twins."
"He's the father."
"He's kinda busy and the muses are getting attached. Which cuts into his nookie time."
Phil nodded. "I'm sorry for him." Xander smirked. "Are we getting time to visit with them?"
"Nope. I said he's the daddy, not us." Phil kissed him. "John wanted me to take them in part of the time. I pointed out he has a huge store of built-in babysitters. He didn't like that and they're making Rodney gushy."
"I can't imagine Rodney McKay going gushy over cute kids."
Xander smiled. "Girls?" They appeared holding hands, staring at him. "Guys, this is Phil. He's my husband."
They stared at him. Phil smiled back. "I'm the father of Tara's kids."
"Wow," one breathed. "You raised smartasses."
Phil smiled. "Yes, I did." They hugged him then teleported off again. "That twin thing is a bit creepy," he mouthed. Xander nodded. "Intentionally?" He nodded more quickly. "Why?" he asked out loud.
"It's fun," Xander said, echoed by the twins. "Apparently there's a tiny bit of Loki taint left in Mom."
Loki appeared, giving his son a dirty look. "I did not infect her with chaos energy."
"Girls, come meet my dad." Nothing. "Ladies?" They appeared and stared at him. Xander pointed. "This is my father."
The one that hadn't talked to Phil smiled. "We know." Loki stared at them oddly. The girls smiled in unison and disappeared. "Rodney knows stories," they said in unison.
Loki looked at his son. "Perhaps you're right." Phil cracked, laughing. "Oh, dear."
"Apollo said he's busy. The muses are getting attached and not sexing him up."
"All right," Loki said, shaking his head. "Fiona could use playmates. He never lets them out." He went to talk to Fiona and Diama. Who went running to meet the twins. They could use more playmates, even creepy ones.
Ares looked at his husband, shaking his head. "They're mini chaos gods."
"The girls? Yes, all four are. That's why they're girls," Loki shot back. Ares laughed and nodded. Fiona showed back up and stared at him. "Yes, Fiona?"
She kicked him on the ankle. "Little girls are *wonderful* and we're all that really matters in the world because we make it prettier. Without it, it'd all be like Gladiator and we'd still have slaves." She went back to her new friends.
"Quite possibly," Ares sighed.
"You had a very strong daughter," Loki said, rubbing his ankle. "And quite mean as well."
Ares smirked and nodded. "Yes, she is." They got back to work on the current plans. Xander appeared and put down a file, staring at Ares before disappearing. He looked at it, grimacing. "A new attempt to invade Los Angeles by demons. May or may not be stopped. Sure, we can plan to help stop that." He got to work on that. "DISCORD!" he bellowed. She popped into view. "First, see if you can find a way to see if they're still going to invade. Second, watch out for the kids. They're on Atlantis with Xander and John's twin sisters." She shuddered.
"Diama and Fiona went to meet them," Loki said with a grin.
Discord punched him. "Quit chaosing the kids, Loki." She went to check on the girls then to see if she could peek at the other realm. They were demoralized but there were still ones trying to encourage the invasion to cheer the rest up. She came back. "Do we want to demoralize them until they no longer want to invade or enrage them until they don't want to invade?"
"Demoralizing would probably be safer," Loki said, giving her an odd look. "How would you do such?"
"They're still calling for the shiny, green one to be their queen." She smirked evilly, going to get a few pictures of Dawn from the Halls of Time. Including her Halloween costumes. She also got one of Clint rubbing Dawn's stomach, with the lump uncovered. She sent them over. That enraged most of them against Clint but oh well. They weren't going to come through. She sent over another one of Dawn being totally happy and they wailed, going on a mass suicide binge. She strolled back into the temple. "Over half of their army is now gone," she said smugly and went to enjoy herself.
Ares looked where she had been and shook his head quickly. "I'd never invade another realm because one of their protectors was hot."
Loki looked at him. "Should I even mention Troy?"
"That was Aphrodite's doing," he said bluntly.
Loki pointed at a few things. "And that's my ex, who was pretending to be a love god."
Ares stared then went to tell Xander that. They really had to do something about his mother beyond banish her to a far-away galaxy for the rest of her natural life. If he didn't get his in before Dawn heard, he'd never get to beat her to death. Dawn would go on a 'hell no' fit and destroy that whole planet and her.
Dawn caught the note floating down from thin air, looking at it. "I wondered why someone incorporeal took a picture of us." She handed it to Clint over her shoulder and leaned down to kiss Natasha's stomach and get back to the rubbing in of lotion so she wouldn't get as many stretch marks. Clint shook his head and went back to Dawn's lotion needs. Philip was asleep next to them on the bed, one hand on Loki cat and Tsarina was curled up on his butt.
Xander appeared to look at the note then groaned and disappeared. "John?" he called as he appeared on Atlantis. "Please stop me from killing her."
John took the note to look at. "I don't think I can do that."
They shared a look. "She stays there," Xander said.
"It's not far enough away."
"Discord sent pictures to make them mope," Xander said.
"Did it work?"
"It's at least lowered the numbers of that army."
John grimaced, searching toward Discord. She shared what she had done. He groaned, tipping his head down. "Fuck."
Xander nodded once. "Yup. I'm about to go destroy that planet we sent her to."
"I'm not going to stop you," John said, walking off. "Rodney, I need a leash holder."
"Sure, change forms," he quipped. "Why do we need you to be in another form?" John told him. Rodney stared at him then looked over at where Xander was complaining at Ronon. Rodney looked at John. "I can build you a nuclear bomb within ten hours to send there. Get O'Neill to authorize it."
"Get us home first," one of the soldiers called. "Then blow up somewhere. Just leave the lake monster alone. We'll miss him."
"Her," Xander called.
"Okay, her." He looked over. "What was that bad?"
Xander looked at him. "Our mother prompted the next demonic invasion of LA. She prompted them to do it because they wanted Dawn."
The soldier looked at John. "Never mind, we can go home tomorrow. Build the bomb, Doctor McKay, please." He walked off.
"Let me get us home," John said. "You build that shit for me. We'll talk O'Neill into it." He went to the chair. "Xander, you're throwing off the power flows."
"Sure." He went home to throw a screaming hissy fit.
Phil walked out to stare at his mate. "What happened?" Xander sent it at him as he let out one last scream. Phil considered it. "Roque, I need something to blow up my mother-in-law," he called as he walked back into the temple.
"Sure, how big?" he asked.
"Big enough to destroy her."
"What did she do?" Clay asked.
Phil stood in front of the others at the temple and said it simply. "She's responsible for our upcoming apocalypse battle."
Xander stomped in. "Don't let me have my axe for a bit, okay?"
"How did she do that?" Pooch asked. So Xander vented.
The Losers shared a look. "Damn, sounds like one of Clay's ex's," Jensen said dryly, ducking the punch from Clay. "Can we send her farther away?"
"Maybe," Xander said, getting the people who needed to know there. Including O'Neill. "We know why. We know who started it." He summoned Discord. "Please, spare my throat the screaming?" he asked with a smile. "Because women that fucked up have to pray to you."
Discord pinched him on the tit. "You flatterer you," she said dryly. "She's not my follower. She's temping." She looked at the mortals to tell them what had happened and what she had done.
Xander looked at O'Neill. "Rodney's offered to build us a bomb."
"I'll consider that offer," O'Neill said, rubbing a hand over his face. "Why is she so fucked up?"
"No clue," Xander admitted. "I'm not sure if it was the few miscarriages, if it's something Dad or someone did to her, or if it was her mind breaking. I suggest that someone rename her former river because I don't want to hear her name."
The twins appeared, smiling at him. "Mommy is not going to come back," one told him.
The other one nodded. "She's staying there and not anything can call her back since she's attached herself to their biggest waterfalls."
Xander nodded, looking at them. "As far as John and I are concerned, we were hatched from eggs. We have no mother."
They grinned. "We can agree with that since she abandoned us to our father and his girlfriends," they said in unison.
Xander leaned down to look at them. "It's better that way. Who do you want to raise you instead?"
They grinned at him. "Auntie Discord?"
Discord looked at them, shaking her head. "I barely managed to raise Strife and look how he turned out."
"We love him," they said with an adoring look when Strife appeared.
"You two are a bit creepy but you're ours," he decided, taking them with them. "We'll tell Hera we're adopting you." He summoned Ares to the meeting in Hera's drawing room, walking the girls in there with Fiona and Diama. "Hera, I need these two."
Hera looked at him. "Why?"
Ares appeared. "Strife, you wanted what? I'm busy." The twins hugged him and smiled at him. He stared at them. "You're going to raise them?"
"What if Cupid isn't going to agree?" Ares asked.
Cupid appeared, staring at him. "They can have the suite across from Fiona." Fiona squealed and hugged him. "Before you turn angry like Xander or slightly wicked like him and John are."
Hera stared at them. "Apollo must agree."
"'Pol, I'm raising the twins," Cupid yelled. "Suck it if you don't like it!"
Apollo appeared. "As long as I can visit, it's probably better. You have more time to spend with them." He stared at the girls. "That good with you?"
"Yup," they agreed, hugging Strife.
"Then I'll let you live with him and Cupid." He hugged them. "Visit often."
Hera nodded. "Fine. The transfer of custody is allowed." She smiled at the twins. "If you should have problems you will come to me so I can help you." They hugged her then ran back to Strife to pounce him. Hera smiled. The girls were much happier and yet still a bit creepy. It had to come from their mother. Xander and John had a touch of that too.
Dawn smiled as she dug out a picture early that morning when she couldn't sleep, thinking at Discord. Discord appeared, looking confused. Dawn held up two pictures. "Would either of those help more?"
Discord stared at the pictures. "It's giving me bad ideas. It might make them invade though." She took one to look at, tipping her head to the side and nodding. "Damn."
Dawn smiled. "Yup."
"I'm not sure if they'll invade or not over that." She went to try it. It certainly got the leader of those demons worked up. The second one made him want to invade now. They couldn't. They managed to open the portal. Ares started to yell but the portal collapsed on the leader once he was on their side with his bodyguard. She appeared with a smirk. "So, you had a plan?" she asked dryly.
Xander appeared behind her with his axe. "I think he had a plot more than a plan, Discord." He grinned. "Welcome to Earth." The leader looked at the portal, trying to reopen it. No luck, not the same sort of magic he had at home. He started to cry.
Dawn appeared on Phil's arm. "I'm flattered that you want me that way but I'm married. Sorry." She shrugged. "We told you that. You should listen when people tell you those things."
"I only want you," he said, moving closer to her. He stared at her stomach. "You are with egg?"
"We bear live young and yes I am. It's probably a daughter." She smiled. "My spouses are very happy with it."
He stared at her stomach for a minute longer then at her. "You beat our last king."
Dawn shrugged. "He interrupted a happy moment and made my son afraid. He made a lot of kids afraid. I won't put up with that."
"I understand," he said, bowing to her. He sighed, looking at the portal's area. "I will die so my people are saved."
Dawn looked at Discord, who sighed but opened the portal for him. "Thank you, Discord." She hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. "Thank you." She looked at the demon. "Have a good life." They nodded and left. The king tossed back a few things from his throat before it closed. Dawn looked at Phil. She yawned. "I'm tired. Let me go back to bed."
Phil took her home and came back to look at what the king had dropped. "They're pretty."
Discord walked over to look, grimacing. "Not my style. They're *pink*. I'm not Buffy."
Phil smirked at her. "Birthing present to Aphrodite?"
"She's got plenty from Hephie." She picked up the few jewels, holding them up. "Xander, who gets these?"
"Don't care." He looked at Phil. "Dawn in bed?"
He checked and nodded. "Just now. She had to pee first. The cats have decided to rest on her stomach again."
"Cats are weird," Discord said, disappearing.
Xander nodded. "That's why I like the dogs."
Phil smirked at him. "I'd like the puppies to sleep somewhere beyond my pillow." He moved closer.
Xander smiled. "They're going to be moved to John's temple to sleep. Their mother introduced them to the comfy ottoman."
"That's wonderful. Maybe I can sleep without dog drool tonight?"
"I hope so. That's why I made them move, so I quit being drooled on. Though, we do have to find a few new lines to add in."
Phil nodded. "We probably should." He moved closer. "What shall we do this spring without that invasion?"
"Hopefully not have another one," Xander quipped. They went back to the temple.
The jewels got sent to Stark for Steve and Joyce to figure out. They could handle those decisions and how to handle any press that might have caught the ending of the spring invasion.
Clint walked Dawn in to her desk the next morning. "Here you go." He smiled at her. Then he went to help Natasha into the gym. He was being a bit overprotective but then again, someone had realized that Xander still had Barney in a human bird cage so he was released. Stark was smirking so Clint hit him on the arm. "I didn't get a chance to do it last time, Stark."
"Uh-huh. I did the same thing. It's part of the second trimester. All that 'feeling protective of them' stuff comes with the extra sex." He yawned. Pepper was in that same state and Steve had all but carried her to her desk earlier. It had tickled the kids. Then again, Steve had dropped everyone off and came back to throw a Captain sized fit about last night's meeting. Joyce wasn't much happier.
Steve came out to the office, sinking into the couch. "Maria said that there's protocol for this situation. Apparently we have a safe for these things. I almost asked how many there are but I'm scared to."
Natasha walked in smiling slightly. "I'm afraid I'm responsible for some of those."
He tossed her the bag the jewelry was in. "Those got given by the demon king last night that had been planning on invading."
Natasha poured them out on the desk to look them over. "Very nice but not jewels I recognize. Must be from their realm." She put them back into the bag and tossed them back. "Pretty but impractical."
"I didn't figure demon kings would wear practical sparkly things," Pepper said as she came back from getting some tea. She sat down and smiled at them. "Joyce got beamed out. She's in the daycare getting hugs and she'll be up in a minute."
"That's fine," Steve said. "It'll save my headache."
Maria Hill walked in. "You formally have to say you saw it placed," she said. "Which means you have to walk into the vault and be assaulted by all the twinkling stupid things Agent Romanoff collected by charming and then taking out her targets."
Natasha waved a hand. "It was nothing. Mostly very minor."
Maria looked at her. "Have you seen the vault?"
"I was there a few months back." She smirked slightly. "I had to put something ostentatious on a shelf."
Dawn leaned in. "If that was my crown, I inherited it and it's not in the safety deposit box." She sat up again. "Shit, Callia!" She hopped up, running up the hall. "What did you do?" she demanded, picking her up to look her over. "You're bleeding. JARVIS, we need a real Doc!"
"Shivs is in the infirmary, Dawn."
She carried her down there. "Doc?" He looked and came over to take Callia.
"I skidded," Callia said. "I'm fine, Auntie Dawn."
Dawn stared at her. "Excuse you? You are not fine! You are covered in blood and cuts! It looks like you skidded in the gravel parking lot and kept going for *miles*! That is not fine!" she finished at a shout.
Callia stared at her. "I'm so never having a baby," she said quietly and calmly.
Dawn glared. "I'd be yelling even if I wasn't pregnant!"
"What did you skid doing?" Doctor Shivs asked. He was helping her out of her t-shirt, noticing the under-armor shirt, like the football players wore underneath their uniforms.
Dawn pulled that off her, ignoring the tube top underneath it. She helped her peel off the surf shorts too. "What were you testing?"
"The new street surfing gear we're working on?" she offered, shrinking back some.
"You're supposed to use that on a paved road, not on gravel!"
"I did!" Callia complained back. "I just skidded when the booster went rogue and wouldn't quit firing. But I did fix it while I was skiing down the hill," she said as her father walked in. "I managed to get it back into shut-off mode and everything, Dad."
He stared at her. "Did I okay street skiing?"
"No," she said, staring at him. She grinned. "But it's fun. It's what I can do until I can drag race Happy like you do, Dad."
Tony stared at her. "So grounded. We'll make sure you get plenty of neosporin so you don't scar, daughter." Dawn stepped closer and healed the injuries, hugging her. "Awww," Tony said. Dawn hit him on the arm. "Ow!"
"I had to heal yours after your last drag race!"
"Not my mom," Tony quipped.
"If you don't have sense, the kids won't have sense. Which is why your son just zipped past on her rocket powered roller skates." She pointed. "With the broken arm."
Tony looked out the window and ran out to save his only son. "Christopher Darren Oliver Stark, turn those rockets off!" he shouted as he ran after him. "I need the damn suit!"
Clint shot a grappling arrow in front of Chris, which caught the kid in the stomach, which would only make him flip over it without really hurting him. Chris started to cry as soon as he hit the ground, holding his arms up to his father when Tony caught up to him. "It was loose enough that it wouldn't hurt him," Clint called.
"Thanks, Barton." He picked Chris up, checking him over. "You are *so* grounded for having no sense! The skates don't fit you and this is not the ground to be doing this on!" He walked him back to the infirmary. The skates got left there. Someone would pick them up.
"Drew!" Chris wailed as they walked past his lab. Andrew came out to hug him. "Bot bot!" he said with a point at his father.
"No, I can't pull out the robot battle suit to make your dad sorry for stopping you. Sorry, little guy." He cuddled him. Tony stared at him. Andrew shrugged but grinned. "I let him sit with me when I was running the monthly tests on it."
"He can have mine." He took him back. "Let's go see your sister. You having booboos will save her from your aunt yelling at her for having no sense. Dawn can start those lectures on you now." He carried him into the infirmary, letting Pepper take him. "Barton shot a line to trip him."
"Good!" Pepper said, staring at her son. "What were you doing?"
"Skate!" he said with a mad grin and a point.
"Mine," Callia told him, taking him to cuddle. "My skates." Chris pouted. "Oh, damn it, the puppy face!" She handed him back to Tony. She hopped off the table and pulled back on her t-shirt and shorts. "Let me go hide now from the hormones before they prompt mine to come out." She ran off before Dawn or Pepper could grab her.
"You're still in deep shit," Pepper yelled after her. "Seriously deep shit."
"Wow," Shivs said. "Language! I have delicate ears, Pepper."
Pepper scowled and swatted him. She took Chris back to look over. "At least you're only bruised and have skinned knees." She stomped off to find Callia and talk to her about responsibility and other future adult topics. She *really* needed to learn those before she learned more bad habits from her father.
Dawn shrugged. "That shit isn't my fault. Buffy couldn't spell science most of the time and she hated anything that got her messy." She walked off shaking her head. She found the intercom button. "The next geek that gives anyone under the age of ten weapons, rocket powered anything, or anything that will cause them to need the infirmary due to multiple organ or skin injuries, we're going to have a talk." She let the button go and turned on music, walking off humming to the current song.
Tony looked up then nodded. "All sidearms not on the guards need to be locked in drawers." He walked off to make sure of that. Shivs went to the office to cackle himself sick.
"Skate!" Christopher yelled as he ran after his aunt.
Dawn turned to stare down at him, hands on her hips. The kids all knew that stance thanks to Grandma and Pepper. "No skates. Booboos from skates. Booboos hurt." She weathered the pout. "Skate with regular skates. We can buy you normal skates."
"Fast?" he asked, leaning against her leg, staring up at her with a grin that so reminded her of Tony's naughty grin.
"No, not fast, but we can teach you how to go faster safely." He beamed and cheered. "Go find Clint. He got your sister hers." Chris ran off calling for his uncle. She smirked at Tony when he paused to stare at her. "That way he has safety gear." She went back to her desk.
Tony nodded, going in the other direction before he had to deal with the headache-inducing hormones. Pepper's were bad. Dawn's were worse. He was sure Natasha was going to become absolutely scary with hers. He really needed to hide for a long time. Until the time Pepper started to deliver. He could find things to tinker with until then.
Old Ones 48: Future Old Ones Doing Weird Things.