Congrats, You're a Good Friend.
Sam Wilson looked out the door of the room his group was meeting in. He saw a familiar head of tiny hair just peeking around the door and sighed. "What are you doing here?" he demanded, stomping over to glare at her. "Your father's got to be having conniptions." He pulled out his phone to text him.
"I wanted to talk." She grimaced but waved at the others. "I was going to be polite and wait. Sorry."
"Guys, this is Suzette Rogers, a future slayer." She slunk into a seat. His phone beeped so he sent back another message. "Your dad's not real pleased with you."
She shrugged. "I came to talk. You understand all that stuff and the future slayer stuff too."
"You are?" one of the soldiers asked.
She nodded. "Yeah."
"How did you get down here?"
She smirked a tiny bit. "The airplane brought me?" Sam scowled, hands on his hips. She huffed. "We can talk after you help them. Just like you help the big slayers with their nightmares and problems. They probably have the same things and some day I will too. I can wait."
He stared at her then huffed. "Fine." He looked at his group, who all did various levels of shrugging. "Anyone want to talk about any new problems?" Sam asked more calmly. No answer. "Anyone got anything they want to talk about?"
"I can go hide in the hall so I don't have to hear what I'll have to go through some day," Suzette said. "You guys did good things to protect people and I'm sorry you guys had to get nightmares because of it." She looked at them. "Sometimes doing the right thing is suckier than the bad things are doing. Dad had to take down a whole lot of agents to get rid of the bad guys and he's still got nightmares about it, but it was the right thing to do."
One of them patted her on the head. "Sometimes that's the price we pay for doing what we thought was right."
Suzette nodded. "Some day I'll get that. Right now I have different nightmares." Sam stared at her. She shrugged. "I can't tell Dad that stuff. He'll get sad and have even more nightmares."
"That's why we talk to Sam too," one of the other soldiers quipped. "Because we can't dirty our spouses or lovers with it." The others all nodded.
"I'm pretty sure that's why most slayers are single," Suzette sighed. "Which sucks for them. They'd all like boyfriends. So if you guys know nice guys who don't mind what they have to do for a duty, please introduce them. Especially if you can get one for Miss Buffy. She *really* needs a boyfriend to make her have happier times." Sam rolled his eyes, looking up and shaking his head. A few of them grinned at her. But they all understood and they could talk in front of her, without getting too graphic. Suzette got to hug one that was staring at his hands. He patted her back but he quit staring at his hands like they were dirty.
At the end of the session, once the others had gone, Sam stared at her, leaning on his lectern. "You're still having nightmares about the lab stuff?" he asked quietly. She nodded, staring up at him. "You can talk to your dad."
"I don't want to make him dirty with that stuff. He's already got bad thoughts about all that. Daddy doesn't need any more nightmares. He still has ones about when we had to hide all of us."
"Maybe but you can talk to him. He'll just get mad and destroy a few punching bags."
"Then he'll call you so I'm cutting out the middleman and saving the punching bags for other things," she quipped.
"What would you have done if I wasn't here?"
"I have money for a cab. I would've had a nice adult sort call me one and make sure I got into it. I would've paid him to get me to your place. I would've told him my mom was at work so she was sending me to my dad at home."
"And if I wasn't there?"
"Two of your neighbors have dogs. I would've sat there and petted them until you got home." He scowled. She shrugged. "I'm not helpless."
"There are bad people out there," he said firmly. "Including ones that drive cab, Suzette. You could have been snatched or hurt greatly by one of them. For that matter, how did you get down here?" he demanded.
"I bought the ticket with my shopping card. Then I went to the airport. The cab driver dropped me off in the line and the security guard watched me get my ticket from the machine. Then I got through security with a family because I told them they were waiting on me on the other side, I had to run back to the car for something I forgot." He scowled. "The check-in lady just pinned a thing to my shirt so they knew I was flying alone. Airplanes fly kids every day."
"Your dad is losing his mind. The school told him you escaped."
She snorted. "I sent Auntie Pepper an email. It's just a spa day so she hadn't checked her phone in a while."
He stared at her. "What's that bad you couldn't Skype?"
"I didn't want Daddy to overhear," she huffed. She pouted.
"Fine. We'll go to my place. You will call your father once we get there. Then we'll talk." She was looking out in the hall. "Someone else probably needs the room." He started to gather up the stuff he brought to meetings.
"Not likely," she said. She got up and walked out, staring up at her other uncle. "Hi."
He stared down at her. "Your father called everyone to find you when he heard you weren't at school."
"How long did it take?" she quipped with a smile.
"Just before I got here. They want to talk to you about your blackmail target," Bucky said sarcastically.
"I only blackmailed him about fudging his counts in PE."
"So?" He stared down at her. Then at Sam. "I'll drive her."
"You can probably understand better than most people," he agreed. "My place, one hour. I'll calm down Steve." He put things away and let them walk out to Bucky's rental car. He had wondered when she would open up about that stuff.
Bucky waited until they were on the street to look at her. "You are having nightmares about the lab?" he asked in Russian.
She stared at him. "You know about that?"
"They're who did my arm," he said blandly.
"Oh." She blinked. "They were teaching me stuff."
"I'm sure they were trying. They did with others like Natasha."
"She's not comfy with that topic," she said in Russian. She shifted to look at him. "I don't want to use what they taught me."
"I may need it as a slayer. And I found myself thinking back to it during a class." He pulled off the side of the highway to stare at her. "They were teaching me to not like people, to be mean to them. I don't want to be like that."
"Good. You should never want to go there unless you have to."
"How do you know when it's time to be mean?"
"When you need it, you'll know. There's not a lot of times it's necessary but if you're attacked, you'll know when it's time."
She grimaced. "I sometimes feel like I should be mean to some of my classmates who are annoying. Just super annoying and I know I shouldn't. I keep remembering how many ways they showed us people could be mean. Even though I couldn't do half of them even at your age." He nodded, staring at her. She huffed and pointed at the car that pulled up behind theirs.
Bucky looked in the mirror then rolled down the window. "We're talking about why she felt she had to cut school," he told the officer.
"That's fine, sir. Just checking to make sure it wasn't a problem."
"He's my favorite uncle," she said with a grin. "He's chewing on me before Daddy gets me."
The officer smiled. "That's a great thing. Means you won't do it again and need to see me for the bad reasons later on." He nodded at Bucky and left to go back to his car.
Bucky reached over to take her knife from her hand and toss it into the backseat while making sure the officer wasn't watching. "That was not a reason for that."
She huffed quietly but pouted. "We had one pretending to be a police officer the other day to show us what to do if the school was attacked. Or he could've been a bad guy in a pretend uniform."
"I'll be helping your father fix that," he said firmly. That brought up all sorts of bad ideas, which she was probably flashing back to as well. He tipped her chin up, staring at her. "You can always talk to myself and Xander. He knows what they were teaching you because he got your files first."
"You were there though."
"I was in something similar until Xander rescued me."
"Is that why you had no memories for a few months?" she asked. "I remember Andrew saying something about that when we were hiding." He nodded. "That's even worse." He nodded again. "Do they know who my mother is? Was she violent?"
"Only when they made them be mean."
"Oh." She sighed. "Do we know who she was?"
"Slightly but not fully." She stared at him. "It's a bit...complicated beyond what you're ready for. Even though they did much teaching you the wrong things, hearing about your mother is going to confuse you worse until you're older."
"Oh. Is she alive?"
"Can I meet her without telling her I'm her kid?"
"You've already met them."
"Oh. Okay." She blinked a few times. She watched a car go past them. "That's the third time they've went past us."
"Crap," he said, starting the car and driving off. "The blue one?" She nodded. "I recognize one of them. They're formerly SHIELD." She slunk down in her seat. "They will not get you."
"You've got all the weapons." She looked back for her ceramic knife.
"If you had them could you use them?" he asked.
"Kind of. They taught me how to shoot, but I told Natasha they were still teaching me parts."
"We will speak of that later," he said. "You may be trying to protect yourself but you should never lie to your father. You'll get that hurt look." He grimaced. He hated that look. Always had.
"I know that look," she muttered. "I hate that look." He shot a smirk at her. "I know." She pointed. "I've seen his picture."
"He was another one but I think he's still SHIELD." He pulled off the highway and headed for Sam's house. It was easier to lose a tail in a residential neighborhood full of grocery places and fast food places.
Steve hung up from talking to the principal and had his phone beep with a text message. "How did she get to DC?" he demanded. "Stark!"
"Sir had nothing to do with the young miss getting to DC, sir," JARVIS said calmly. "She used her shopping card from the Council. By the cameras at the airport she managed to finagle her way through the system with not-quite lies and half-truths."
Steve huffed, hands on his hips. "I've got to paddle her for that." Clint walked off the elevator, then paused and slowly walked backwards toward the elevator. "Not you, Clint. My daughter blackmailed a kid at school to help her escape, which they did not discover for over three hours, and she's now in DC."
Clint blinked. "Your kid's good," he said with a grin.
"She's going to be paddled. She could have called. Or told me and I would've taken her down to talk to Sam."
"She probably didn't want to worry you about the stuff she learned in that lab that created her," Clint said. "She mentioned something about that when she woke up from a nap on the couch last week."
Steve sighed, but nodded. "I figured it was about that." He sent out a text to a few contacts, getting one back. "Bucky's in DC. Within twenty of Sam's current group therapy session."
"Well, he'd know how to help her best," Clint said. Steve nodded, taking some deep, clearing his mind breaths. Just like Sam had taught him. Clint slowly eased back into the room. "You heading down?"
"Yeah. Just so Sam can stop me when I beat her to death for that."
Clint tried not to smile. "You've got to admit your little girl has brains and she's good. It'll help her protect herself some day."
"It's not today," Steve said, stomping off. "JARVIS, please make my plane reservations down there?"
"Yes, sir," the AI said. "You're flying from United. I've sent the e-ticket to your phone, Captain."
"Thank you." He punched the elevator button a bit too hard but it only dented. He calmed himself again as he stepped onto the elevator. The flight down to DC was usually an hour but it'd seem like forever until he could shake some sense into his little girl.
Clint quickly texted the rest of the team and all those who should know. Pepper sent back she had gotten an email from her and had just checked. Stark didn't answer but they all heard the lock down for the labs start. Then he heard Darcy yelling it wasn't that big of an emergency. Suzette wasn't going to come hide with them since she was in DC. The alarm went off again.
Natasha came off the elevator shaking her head. "I pity that child when her father grabs her."
"Steve's not the kind to beat her to death for real. She'll probably get that same 'pissed off Captain' look and a long lecture. Maybe a few spankings."
"Back in his day, there was no restrictions on beating sense into a child," she reminded him.
"Yeah but Sam'll stop him."
He got some coffee and put on hot water for her. "The school didn't tell him for a few hours."
"Was she that good or were they that poor?" Natasha asked.
"I'm pretty sure it's a case of both," he admitted. "Especially since they had an invasion drill the other day." He sipped his coffee, staring at her.
"That too shall stop," she said as she walked off. She and Maria Hill could have lunch.
Clint grinned because that would be stopping all the problems at the SHIELD school forever.
Steve got there just as Xander hit everyone bursting into Sam's condo with a sleep grenade. He stared at him. "Hi."
Xander grinned. "Hi. She's hiding under Sam's bed, where Bucky told her to go."
"We saw the charge on the card."
"Tell me," Steve said, staring at him.
"We figured the school had and you were tracking it by then."
Steve shook his head. "I didn't hear until after she made it down here."
"Sure, we'll mark it to let you know immediately." Steve nodded and headed in there. Xander stared at the guys pulling up in cruisers. He held up his ID. "These nice idiots were invading a person that the Council leans on to help the slayers with things."
"Armorer?" one of the officers asked, carefully moving closer.
"Therapist. He works with the VA."
"Oh." They looked at the downed agents. "Any idea who they are or were?"
Xander pointed. "He's HYDRA. I know that for a fact." They nodded and got them arrested. "I used a fume bomb, guys. Everyone in the house is okay and safely out of harm's way."
"That's good," another officer agreed. "When did you get here?"
"When the emergency alarm went off. We have a pre-slayer in there talking to him."
"That's a good thing. He couldn't...." He waved a hand.
Xander smiled. "If I knock out agents it's a lot less paperwork than if he knocks out bad agents." A few officers laughed but one attacked him. Xander moved to block his attack, letting him hit the doorframe with his second attempt. Then Xander brought him down and had him in a choke hold. "Hi," he said with a grin. "Who are you with?"
"The slayers need to be saved from this stupid new ways," he groaned, trying to get free.
"Aawww, you're an old liner," Xander quipped then knocked him out. "No, we don't let you have the girls because you used to abuse them." He walked over him, shrugging at the others. "I'm sure you've heard the old council was horrible to them." They all nodded. Xander leaned in. "Sam, we all good?" he called. He could hear pitiful sniffling from Suzette.
"Yeah, she's still good," he said, coming to the door. He looked at the officer then at Xander. "You?"
"He attacked me."
"Of course." He sipped his coffee. "We had a slayer decide to run away from school earlier to come talk to me, Officers. Her dad just got here." They all smiled at him.
"From New York," Xander added with a grin. A few of them groaned. "She's safely talking to others." He shifted, looking at Sam then behind him. He shot the demon. It yelped and ran out the doorway and past the officers. "Thanks for not bothering Sam," he called with a wave after him. "Salt water," he told Sam. "I like super soakers for that."
Sam nodded, going back inside. "Thanks, Xander."
"Welcome," he quipped. "I'm a good helpful sort." The officers gave him funny looks but they could handle this. The supervising agent could handle the watcher and the officer that had tried to attack him. Bucky and Steve were hiding in case the officers remembered them tearing up parts of DC during their battle. They didn't want to explain being arrested.
After dinner, which Sam had insisted was not for talking about anything important over, Steve and Bucky stared at Suzette, who was in her own chair while they sat on the couch. Traffic outside was a huge wreck so they couldn't leave yet. Steve looked at Bucky, who shrugged back. "We all need to calm down."
"You can teach her about stuff you two used to do when you were her age. That way she learns more age appropriate things," Sam offered. "Since she was doing things that should be well above her actual age."
"They didn't have games back then," Suzette said, staring at Sam oddly.
"We had a few board games," Steve said dryly, smirking at her. "Mostly we made our own fun. Things like jumping rope and hopscotch."
"What's that?" she asked, looking confused.
"You draw a board on the ground with chalk, toss a rock, then hop the pattern but missing wherever the rock lands," Bucky said. Sam grabbed an erasable marker off his note board on the fridge. Bucky took her outside to show her that. Steve followed. Sam got to take pictures because Captain America hopscotching was too cute to not memorialize.
Once Steve and Bucky were in a hotel room, with Suzette heavily asleep in her bed, Steve looked at Bucky. "Thanks."
"Welcome. She needed to talk about that. She was having feelings about using some of what they had started to train her to do. Especially on some bullies at school."
"I've been told Maria Hill came down on the school extra hard this time."
"Good! Ours wouldn't have went more than twenty minutes before realizing we had snuck out." Steve grinned at him. "She also asked about her mom. I told her it was complicated and she had met her maternal donor but they weren't talking about it yet because it was so complicated." Steve sighed, sitting down while staring at her. "I don't know," he said, sitting down as well. "It is very complicated."
"It is," he agreed. "The explanation Bruce used went over my head. Much less hers."
"She's really smart, Steve."
"I know. I'm proud that she is. The smartass parts are a bit too overdeveloped but she's my little girl." Bucky smirked at him. "I know why she did it but I still want to paddle her."
"Our mothers would have beaten us," Bucky said quietly. "And then made us apologize to everyone while we still couldn't sit."
"True. My mother would've taken a strap to me."
"My mother liked switches."
Steve nodded with a grin. "I remember." Bucky hit him on the arm. "How do I handle what they were teaching her?"
"I taught her how to know when it was the time to pull it out. The same as I do."
Steve nodded. "We can work on that. Natasha?"
"She said it makes Natasha sad to talk about such things," Bucky said quietly, glancing toward the bedroom.
Steve looked back there. "We're still here. Go back to bed, Suzette." She went to the bathroom then went back to bed. He sighed, looking at his best friend. Who shrugged back. He went in there to lay beside her until she fell asleep. Steve seriously felt he had failed somewhere but he wasn't sure where. Hopefully Bucky and the others could help. Especially Sam, who could help her with the small bit of flashing back she was doing.
Suzette came off the elevator followed by her father and favorite uncle. Darcy was waiting, arms crossed over her chest, one foot tapping. Suzette slunk closer. "I'm sorry."
"You and I are talking, young lady," Darcy assured her. "You have common sense. You know how to use it I'm sure." She stared down at her. "Did you even think about what would happen if you got caught at the airport?" She held up her slayer identification papers. Darcy snorted. "Not cute. That means you planned it ahead?"
"I knew I needed to talk to Uncle Sam. I should've left a note."
"A note!" Darcy said loudly, making her flinch. "Do you honestly think a *note* would've kept me from yelling? Or your dad from spanking? If you had *spoken* to us, we would've made sure you could've gotten to Sam without risking yourself being snatched or hurt or kidnaped, or stabbed, or poisoned, or even in a car accident where we didn't know!"
"Darcy, ease off," Steve said. "We had that talk last night."
"It's about time she realizes that more than you care about her well being." She stared at him.
He nodded. "She started to worry about what you'd say over breakfast."
She snorted. "She's really lucky I haven't asked anyone how to do a seance to get my grandmother to talk to her. Grandma Lewis would've had *words* for this, in a few languages. Not to mention Nana Alman!"
Suzette swallowed hard but pulled her closer to hug her. "I'm sorry I worried you, Auntie Darcy. I didn't mean to."
"You know how to open your mouth and ask things, I've seen you do it."
Suzette nodded, staring up at her. "I do. I should have. I know what sensible things were and I should have done that. I should've just skipped school and talked to you or Daddy or even called Uncle Bucky to talk." She sighed. "I'll do that next time."
"You'd better," Darcy promised. "Nana Alman made sure I knew the many uses of a wooden spoon, including how to use it to correct a bad girl. She fixed mine often enough with one."
"That's gotta be slightly better than a switch," Bucky said.
"That's Grandpa Alman's correction method. That's for coming home to find a body on the carpet," Darcy quipped, staring at him. "I found an accident victim and the cops hadn't gotten there yet." She looked at the young girl. "Now, let's go talk like the adult you're pretending to be."
"You don't know about this stuff. It's bad stuff. Not normal girl stuff."
She leaned down to look at Suzette in the eye. "I once tazed Thor." Suzette's eyes went wide. "I've seen the battles and had to fight during the one in London a tiny bit. Bet me I haven't seen or heard enough bad things to understand, even if it hasn't happened to me. You went to Sam and he hadn't been there."
"Point, I guess." She looked at Bucky then up at Darcy. "I was found in a lab."
"I know that." She hugged her with a huff, sitting down with Suzette in her lap. "We all know that they were trying to make you the next Natasha, pumpkin. We were waiting on you to want to talk to us about it. Steve said you would when you were ready but you didn't trust us."
"It'd make Daddy dirty," she said quietly, not looking at him.
Darcy made Suzette look at her. "Do you think your dad was in at least two war zones without seeing nasty things?" Suzette gaped. "Your dad broke military orders and rank to go after your Uncle Bucky in a lab just like made you where they were doing some of the same mean things to him. That was back when he was on the stage singing about being a soldier, not being one. Then he went to remove the rest of the bad guy's labs and stuff, seeing all the bad things they did there as they freed their hostages. They may have gotten your uncle again when he fell off a train, because bad guys are tough and sometimes you can't defeat them right off, but he saw plenty of bad things. Okay?
"Your dad's not an angel. Your Uncle Bucky's not an angel. I'm closer to one but I've seen plenty of bad things. Your Aunt Natasha certainly has too and Clint saw some of them with her. Stark saw some when he got taken hostage by some. You're surrounded by people who have seen the nastiest things humans can do to each other. Anything you've seen is mildly muddy compared to most of theirs." Suzette sucked in her top lip. "Really. The old saying is 'war is hell'. And it is. It's a hell that man gave to himself and uses periodically on each other. You can't tell your dad anything that he hasn't seen worse of. Or your Uncle Bucky if you want to talk to him about it since he was there."
"Everyone expects me to be shiny and I'm not," Steve agreed, sitting across from them. "Really, Suzette. I've seen plenty of evil things and nothing you got exposed to was that bad yet. Nothing they taught you was even a tenth of what they did back during the war that I had to stop. Or even a hundredth of what they did to Natasha and Bucky. All you have to do is talk to us. We'll help you with those things."
She nodded, letting her lip go. "Why weren't there other kids there? Just me and her?"
"They had originally tried for six kids but only those two embryos survived the process," Steve said honestly.
"In IVF, which they had to have used, that's about normal. You can try for years to get one live embryo implanted," Darcy said. "I've got a friend who tried for two years before the twins she finally had caught."
"How does that work?" Suzette asked.
"You know how babies come from sperm and egg cells?" Darcy asked. She nodded.
"When did you learn that?" Steve asked.
"I asked Auntie Jane where babies came from," she said. "She told me."
Darcy smiled. "I walked in at the end and we talked about how she didn't really *need* that information yet but one of her friends was getting another sibling. Then I told her to come talk to you about that."
"Daddy can't have babies on his own so I don't have to worry about attention stealing babies yet," Suzette said.
"Unlike Larissa's mom, I'd pay attention to both of you," Steve said.
"And never say that around Rosenburg, she can do that," Bucky quipped, sitting down. "She's threatened to get Xander a few times."
"Eww. That would be a bad thing," Suzette said. "Very unethical." They all nodded. "Huh. Daddy?"
"No, if we have more kids in the family there'll be a mother there."
"Cool. The suit probably wouldn't look right with a big belly."
Darcy shook her head quickly to clear that image. She flapped a hand. "Online stuff." Steve and Bucky both groaned. "Sorry." She looked at her. "Anyway, they took your mom and dad's cells to make the egg and sperm cells then implanted it into someone so you'd grow."
"Is that like planting trees?"
"Not exactly and it's real sciency. You'd have to ask Bruce about how they do it. All I know is there's a dish and a long tube involved," Darcy said.
"Oh. So they only made us?"
"They were trying to make more," Steve said.
"Can they still make more?"
"There's only a few people who worked in that lab still available to do science," Bucky said, delicately for him.
"Did you kill 'em?" she asked. "Because that deserves a hug."
"Xander got most of them for you." She hugged him anyway then came back to sit on Darcy.
"What about my big brother?" she asked.
"He's still in some training camp no one can find because it's apparently mythical," Bucky said. "We're still looking for those boys."
"Is he okay?"
"Probably. We'll have to spend more time getting him free of them." She nodded. "Then he'll need time to heal like I had."
"Was he made like I was?" Steve nodded. "How did they do that when you were frozen, Dad?"
"We're not totally sure but we think someone had an injury so they got some tissue or blood from that and froze it," Bucky said.
She pouted but nodded. "If I get a sibling that's younger, what if I try to hurt them?" she asked quietly, looking up at Darcy.
"Sweetie, there's no reason for you to try that and we'd stop you. We'd stop you instantly."
"I kinda wanted to do that to a few classmates though. You didn't stop me there."
"We weren't watching then, we are now," Steve said. "And we're going to be talking about that stuff so you don't have those urges."
"They're kinda butts, Dad. I usually have that urge," she muttered, looking down.
"Some kids are bullies," Bucky said. "Your dad got his face hit many times by that sort of kid." Steve nodded that was true, relaxing slightly. "We can teach you how to deal with bullies and how to suppress those urges."
"Your teacher should be stopping them," Darcy said. "That's how modern teachers do it. Bullying is a huge no-no in today's world."
Suzette looked up at her. "Maybe it's because they're future agents?"
"Maybe, but still not a good thing to teach them. No one wants to work with someone like that, even as agents. Agents like that get fired and go to jail for doing bad things." She gave her a squeeze. "I'd hope you weren't."
"No. I've tried to walk away and the other kids are trying to pick on me. Larissa sticks up for me and reminds me that we can't hurt humans. They're not bad demons. Is she okay? I used the other kid so she wouldn't get into trouble."
"She's pouting that you didn't tell her," Darcy said dryly. "We emailed this morning." Suzette slumped but nodded. "You two can talk on Monday. You're out tomorrow while we finish talking."
"Yes, ma'am," she said quietly. She looked at her uncle then her father. "Can't I hit them just once?"
"Not unless you catch them picking on someone weaker or it's to defend yourself," Steve said. "That gets you in more trouble than them."
"The teacher gives me disappointed looks each time I walk off."
"I'll be talking to him," Steve assured him.
"I can help," Bucky said with a smirk for Steve. Steve nearly shuddered at that look. He knew it and it was a bad one. "I'll be pleasant."
"Good," Steve said.
Darcy looked at the kid in her lap. "The only right time to get into a fight is if you're defending someone who can't do it on their own or you need to defend yourself. Or it's something like a demonic invasion."
She nodded. "I get that. They still pick on me."
"Did you beat them in gym class?" Darcy asked. "I suggested that."
Suzette looked up at her and nodded. "And in sparring during self defense class." Steve sighed, shaking his head. "They said that most parents had agreed because bad guys could come for them for having parents who are agents," she said.
"I heard. I'm not sure how I feel about that." He looked at her. "Is it making you want to fight more?"
"No, just the urges to smite the little assholes."
"Language. You don't want more grounded time," Steve warned her. "Or spanked." She shrank back against Darcy's chest. Steve calmed himself down again. "We'll talk to your principal and teacher tomorrow, Suzette. That needs to be straightened out."
"Thank you. Can I still beat them?"
"Yup. In anything they challenge you to," Bucky said. "If they challenge you to a race, you beat them. You get better grades than them."
"One's a giant computer brain."
Bucky snorted. "Did they tinker with him?"
"Yeah, they did," Steve said. He leaned back in his seat. "Someone did try to hype his brain functions. His father was a scientist at SHIELD and his mother took custody of him after the kid ended up in the ER with seizures from it. He's still in jail from what I heard. Is he picking on you?" She shook her head. "Just a few?" She nodded. "How many?"
"Five. Jenkins and his group."
"Hey, there's five kids we don't have to plan on coming to your upcoming birthday party," Darcy quipped with a smile for her. "Bullies never get to go to the good parties."
Suzette smiled at her. "Living well is the best revenge?"
"Yup. Sure is." Steve smirked back. "And she can bring in apology cookies Monday. Just twenty of them. I don't bake for bullies."
"They're not allowed to bring in baked goods. One of the kids has a wheat allergy and one has an egg allergy," Steve said.
"That sucks," Darcy said. "But sure. We can work around that." Suzette turned to hug her. She looked at Suzette. "Did he ground you?" She nodded, pouting. "Good. It means I don't have to add onto it for making us all worry that you had disappeared somewhere. Did you want us to worry about you? Jane started to cry thinking it was someone who had taken you."
"No, I didn't. I'll go apologize to Auntie Jane." She got free and went to do that. She didn't like to see sad people.
"Smooth," Steve said once she was gone. "She won't do it again."
"GOOD!" She crossed her legs. "How long is she grounded for?"
"All month. Including no fair."
Darcy smirked. "That's nearly evil, Steve. Congrats. Pepper said she wants to yell for you. Something about being a woman means she can do it better."
"I've got it. We handled it and she's punished and we've got it." She nodded she'd back off. Suzette came back up with Thor, who was advising her how he had beat bullies without the adults realizing it because he had embarrassed them greatly. "We'll help her handle it, Thor."
"She's a strong young girl. Some day she'll handle such matters on her own but not for years yet. She has much to learn and training years ahead of her first," Thor agreed, staring down at her. She nodded, pouting at him. "Good." He patted her on the head. "Next time, come talk to myself or Jane. If we do not know how to help you, we will help you find someone who can. That way your father does not age from worry." He walked off. "Darcy, Jane wanted those cookie bars you made last night."
"The last of them are in my personal fridge, Thor." He smiled and went to get them for his beloved.
"Cookies?" Suzette asked. Darcy snorted, staring at her. "Oh. Grounded. Yeah," she sighed. Darcy and Steve both nodded with a smirk. "Shoot."
"Next time you'll think about this before you act," she said. She gave her a hug. "Go sit on your father. He needs cuddles." She ran over to pounce her father to hug him.
"Did your mom use the same spoon?" Bucky asked.
Darcy shook her head. "No, anytime I got that bad, she shipped me off to one of the grandparents. I wasn't the sort of girl she expected. I didn't want to dance, be a cheerleader, be the sort of pretty girl that boys liked to grope. I didn't plan on giving her grandchildren.... I'm a pretty big failure on her scale. And I really don't care. I learned how to be a woman from my grandmothers. They were stronger ones anyway. My mother's only job in life was to find a husband who made enough money."
"My mother would've tried to make me girlish if I had been a girl but I probably wouldn't have been the sort," Steve said. "Being sickly I wasn't the pin up a lot of girls tried to be."
Bucky looked at him. "Did you actually consider being born a girl at some point?"
"Yeah, a few times. It might've been easier if I had been. At least then there's housecleaning jobs and the like back then."
Bucky shook his head with a sigh. "Do you maybe need to work on any questions for your gender identity?"
"Wow, that's a very modern ideal," Darcy quipped, smiling at him.
"One of the slayers came to Xander to talk to him about her physical gender disparity so I got to learn a lot. He helped her find someone to start on the process to change over."
"You can do that?" Steve asked.
"Yeah, Steve. Transexuals, those who truly believe they're born in the wrong body, can have surgery so the outside matches the inside feelings," Darcy said. "You have to go through a lot of therapy, hormones, and surgeries. You have to live as who you want to be for at least a year before you can go through a lot of it. Will that screw with the slayer essence?"
"No idea," Bucky said. "And he told her that."
"Does it all work?" Steve asked, covering Suzette's ears.
"Yeah, they can do that. It may need a pump since she's going to become a guy, but yeah, they can make it all work. You can't have kids, but it'll be there."
"Huh. That's really neat." He grinned. "We know a few guys who might've liked that."
Bucky nodded. "A few of them might've, yeah."
Suzette moved the hands off her ears. "Daddy, there's a girl in the class that thinks she's really a boy. They're talking to her about it but they're not happy. It means screwed up bathroom stuff."
"It's a long, hard road to get to the final surgery," Darcy said. "I hope you're helping her feel comfy?"
"I asked a lot of questions then hugged her and told her if that's who she really was then it was neat. It was like me being a future slayer." She shrugged. "She wants to change her name and cut her hair and stuff. The teacher's huffy about it."
"We can make sure she gets support from friends. Kids like that get picked on all the time," Darcy said. "It's always wrong to pick on kids for being different."
She nodded. "I try to help them." She looked up at her dad. "Should I use her name?"
"If she wants you to call her by a new name, use that," he said. "It's only right. That's who she really is."
She nodded. "I can do that." She blinked at Bucky then at him. "You knew someone like that?"
"We grew up around a few guys who liked to dress up as women," Bucky said. "And a few women who dressed and passed as guys. Unless I absolutely saw them outside the makeup and dresses, they got called by their female names or male names, whichever they were dressed as."
"I can do that. We can still help him with his hair, right?" Darcy nodded. "Cool. She...he wants a neat haircut that won't make his mom mad."
"Plenty of short haircuts look good on everyone," Darcy said with a smile. "You can bring in one of my magazines if you want."
"I can do that." She looked up at her father. "So this isn't a new thing?"
"There's not much you guys have or go through today that we didn't. We just didn't have computers to look stuff up on."
"Oh, wow." She snuggled into his lap then got up and ran to Bucky to hop into his lap and cuddle him, including pulling his arm over her to make him cuddle. "You were being left out."
He grinned. "I usually am. Girls don't like the arm."
She blew a raspberry. "Then they're dumb cunts."
"Language!" Darcy snapped. "Such a bad word!"
"Oops." She ducked down some. "Larissa's mommy uses it at bimbos."
"So? That's one of the worst things a woman can call another one, Suzette. Beyond that, bimbos exist because men expect some women to be trophies and not all that smart. The rest of us give them 'you poor pitiful puppy' looks because they learned the wrong lessons." Suzette relaxed. "Calling someone a cunt is the worst insult you can use to a female."
"Yes, Auntie Darcy. Sorry?"
"Don't do it again and tell Larissa."
"I can do that. She needs more girl stuff. Her mom's been too busy with the new baby and her other brother."
"Sometimes that happens in families. Larissa can pin her mother down to talk to her," Darcy said. "Or she can come hang out with you when you're not grounded."
"She likes doing that."
"In the old days, Larissa would be doing a lot of helping her mother take care of the babies," Steve said. "The older kids helped the younger kids so the mother could get stuff done around the house."
"They probably didn't go to school either," Darcy said dryly, staring at him. "We want both girls to grow up strong and smart and earn the title of 'bitch' for being the strong, forceful, protective sort."
"Point. Just telling her."
Darcy smiled. "Like the song says...."
"Please not that song," Bucky interrupted. Suzette giggled. "The girls had a dance party to that song when one got dumped by a cheating boyfriend. I was trapped in the kitchen for the two rounds of it."
"What song?" Steve asked. JARVIS popped up a video of the song in question so only he could hear it. "That's true, everyone's more complicated than just one thing. Most of those are stereotypes anyway. Everyone's more complex than just one stereotype."
"Exactly," Darcy agreed with a smile for him. Suzette giggled. "You, homework?"
"Probably," she grumbled but snuggled in better, looking up at him. "After dinner?"
"Sure. As long as it gets done."
"Yes, Uncle Bucky." She huffed but cuddled in and waited impatiently for dinner.
Steve smiled at the teacher and principal that were meeting with him when they joined him in the meeting room. "We have to talk about a few things."
"We should," the teacher said. "Your daughter doesn't seem to want to stick up for herself."
"No, she does. She doesn't want to have to take a human life by dealing with the bullies you're not doing anything about." The teacher winced. "Frankly, I'm siding with her. I got into plenty of fights with bullies. I walked away until it got to the point where they made me beat them. I didn't win real often back then but that's how I handled it. For that matter, bullying agents aren't the sort that we like to work with. They tend to end up in jail for doing the wrong thing. Is that really what you want those children to learn?"
The principal cleared his throat. "Was this bullying the reason she left that way?"
Steve nodded. "She wanted to go see Sam about that stuff. He's a counselor with the VA in DC that I'm friends with. Got through airport security and all that." He stared at him. "How long did it really take you to realize she was gone? My teachers would've known within twenty minutes. They always did. It took you three hours to tell me? What if she had been taken by HYDRA or someone?"
"We had people looking for her, Captain. We found her path and called you then."
"I want to know the minute she's missing," he said bluntly. "She's a bit too smart for her own good. She made it all the way to DC and to Sam's therapy session to talk to him, and had plans if he had already left." The principal winced. "Thankfully someone beyond Sam was there when HYDRA agents stormed his house trying to get her. Sam's great but he couldn't have beaten a bag and tag team of six people with the few weapons he had at home."
"I believe your daughter isn't living up to her potential," the teacher said.
"Is her schoolwork failing?"
"She's falling behind in other matters and a few of the teachers are worried about her liking to do things like cook."
Steve let out a bitter sounding laugh. "I'm well aware of where my daughter was made and initially raised, gentlemen, and she's not turning into the next Agent Romanoff for SHIELD. Her future isn't as an agent or even really helping agents for the most part. Though I will be helping her if possible when she's old enough to start patrol training." He stared at them. "I'm quite pleased that my daughter is well rounded and able to handle herself and her needs for the most part. Yes, slayers are to be well rounded today. They're not just warriors anymore. Now they're young women who have an unfortunate duty. The same as I do." The principal winced.
Steve stared at him. "I believe we've had a talk before about how my daughter is being militarized and I do not like it. She is here so she learns how to protect herself and others, not to be made to go back to the training they were doing to her. For that matter, if you make my daughter have another flashback I can't guarantee she won't kill another student. She's so far managed to get herself out of them but we have evidence she's had a few flashbacks thanks to the forced militarization she's been undergoing."
He stared at the teacher, who swallowed hard. "My daughter does not need to know what to do in an invasion scenario beyond how to get to the safe room or the way out. She is *eight*. She does not need to know more about weapons until I think she's ready for that. Yes, Bucky taught her how to sharpen knives. When HYDRA had him, they taught him a lot about knives and he had experience he passed on at the beginning level while I watched. I do not want my daughter handling firearms here. Or staff weapons or any other form of weapon. I certainly don't want the five kids who are bullies in her class to have access to weapons so they can pick on other children with them. Because I have heard and talked to the other parents."
"I need to get back to my class," the teacher said stiffly.
"Don't worry, Maria's kindly given them a sub for a few hours." His eyes went wide. The principal started to move. "Sit. Down. We're going to finish this talk while she watches over your students. She's incredibly busy but she agreed that the students needed specific handling to get them used to being real people who might some day want to be agents. Less than one percent of all students in this school will go on to be any sort of agent, much less SHIELD agents. That's just the math of recruiting from what she's said about recruiting classes." He stared at them. "I'm frankly quite peeved about how some of the students have been treated, including my own and Larissa. Her mother and I talk at least weekly.
"She's highly unamused by what you're teaching her daughter and has told Larissa's biological father. Who happens to be on two different SHIELD lists." The principal whimpered, shaking his head. "He doesn't want his daughter's first thought to be 'attack them' either. That will make her a weaker slayer with problems distinguishing the right way from the wrong ways." He stood up, blocking the teacher. "No. We're going to finish this talk. This is my daughter and her life we're talking about. You can run back to hide but I can guarantee that Bucky and Darcy can help Maria Hill straighten out your students. Then the others."
"The one armed one from DC?" the principal demanded, standing up.
"My former teammate and best friend Bucky Barnes? Yeah," he said, staring at him. "HYDRA had him. He's better now. Back to himself at the very least and all fixed from the mind control they did." The principal whined. "I think they wanted to talk to the class today about bullying. It seems to be a problem they have." He stared at the teacher. "Also, she can't pass the grade-level test she would be taking in any other school. Aren't you supposed to be helping her be educated to the same level as other kids, even with her future?"
"She won't need it," he hissed.
Steve hit him, knocking him into a wall. "The best weapon is always a brain that works well and fast. Even if one's a slayer or an agent. I've thought my way out of things more often than I've shot my way out of them or punched my way out of them. Most agents have." He looked at the principal. The teacher ran off. He got hit again by Darcy, looking a lot like an accident. "I will not have my daughter pushed down and forced into a tiny little box that isn't for her.
"If you can't educate her the way she should be and help her learn the proper things, and I don't mean what she's been learning so far, then she and Larissa will find another school. As I said, I've talked to all her fellow students' parents. We had a charming coffee talk last night about things. Including that she couldn't pass that test and she's very bright and ahead on her homework.
"Real agents aren't like you're training them to be. Those ones don't pass because of their emotional problems and no one likes to work with them anyway." He walked off, going to the classroom. Darcy had just unleashed her twenty cupcakes, all legal by any allergies. He smiled at her. "That's real nice of you, Darcy."
"Thank you." She smiled and handed most kids one. She looked at one pouting kid. "I don't bake for bullies. Bullies never get anything good in life. Not jobs, not careers, not cookies, not cars, nothing." She gave out the rest, smiling at the one Suzette had told them about. "Hi, Alan, I'm Darcy Lewis. I work with Jane Foster and sometimes Thor. Suzette told us about you." The little boy smiled at her. She patted him on the head. "I let Suzette have a few of my fashion mags. That way you can find a short haircut that no one will mind. Even parents."
The little boy grinned. "Thank you, Miss Lewis."
"You're welcome, sweetie, and call me Darcy." She patted him again then headed back to the front of the room.
Bucky looked over them. "So, now you know what it was like in our days. Do you guys think that you're able to keep up with that?"
One girl raised her hand, sneering. "Future agents don't have to."
Maria Hill shook her head. "If SHIELD agents can't live up to what they could do back in the forties then they're not fit to be agents. There's no such thing as a dumb agent. Or an uneducated one. We can't send people like that into the field. Even if you're a savant in some fields, we can't use agents like that."
"The brain is your biggest weapon," Bucky agreed. "You use it to fit into various situations, to consider how best to do your job during the mission, how to handle the people you'll run into, how to handle the people in your everyday life, plus writing reports."
"But we don't need grammar!" that girl said.
"If your reports are that bad, you will get fired," Hill said simply. "There are standards. Including grammar standards. I don't need you able to diagram a sentence but you had better know how to properly write."
"Trajectories is math," Steve said. "So is most battle planning. Plus science." They all groaned. He smiled as he glanced at Maria. She nodded. He pulled up a report and let Darcy project it for him. "This was one of my last few missions, just an intel gathering thing. Who can tell me where I was?"
"The middle east," the girl said in a 'duh' voice.
"Nope. There's bad guys all over the world," Darcy said. "Just because the ones on the news are there doesn't mean that's where all the bad guys are. There's some in every single country in the world." The girl slumped down.
Larissa slowly raised her hand. "Is that somewhere that Russia used to control? My dad has a house in Serbia and I looked it up on a map once. I remember that country name being near there."
"You're right," Maria Hill said with a smile for her. "It is in a former Eastern Bloc country." She pulled up a map to show them where it was. "He was in this country." They all stared. "That's in Europe, yes."
"Just up the street from Latvia," Darcy quipped.
"Too true," Hill agreed. She banished that. "Who can tell me how you get there?"
"You fly in," one of the boys sneered.
"Hmm, yet the nearest airport is here," Steve said, calling back up the map. "Which is this far from that town." He adjusted the map to show that one. "How many miles is that?" They all stared. "There's a legend at the bottom of the map that tells you that." He pointed at it.
Alan, the one that Suzette was confused about, raised his hand. "That looks like just over two hundred miles, Mr. Rogers."
"It is," he agreed with a smile. "So how would I get there?"
"There's a main road." He got up, his seat loud in the room. He walked up and pointed. "It looks like you can take that main road most of the way but you'd have to go past it to get back to it by this road since only that one goes there."
"Very true," he agreed, smiling at him. "Reading a map is a lot of math and figuring out things like how much gas you're going to use." He hugged him, earning a smile. "Good job." He ran back to his seat. "What else would I need?"
"A map machine?" one guessed.
"That makes you look like a tourist and like you don't belong there," Hill said. "We prefer you write down the directions before you go. That's part of planning the mission usually." He nodded, making that note. "Also, maps like this can be wrong. Mapquest is famous for it. It actually tells you how to get to London from New York by driving across the Atlantic ocean." The kids all cracked up. "So you may need to stop and make sure you're going the right way with a good excuse."
"Which means you need to know at least a few words in the local language," Suzette said. The adults all nodded. "About how many?"
"Just enough to be polite usually," Maria said. "Please, thank you, is this...the name of the town. Where's the hotel/motel/rooming house/city hall. Those sort of phrases. A lot of agents tend to specialize in an area because they know the language better. Their families are from there." Steve and Bucky both said something in Gaelic. "In their case from Ireland." The kids all stared in awe. "My parents are from a few areas but one of my grandmothers taught me some German from the lower parts of Germany. My other side's grandfather came from Argentina by way of Brazil and before then Spain. So I learned a bit of that and picked up more in high school language classes. Which takes studying and brains."
"You also have to know how to dress to fit in," Darcy said. "Especially for women. Some places you have to wear special garments even if you're just visiting, like in the Middle East. Sometimes you can't wear anything that's too tight or showy. Sometimes you can go to Brazil and be in a bikini. Knowing people is a whole other science but it's considered a soft science. I was a political science major and yet I'm support staff now for the Avengers. Especially when they get injured or sick."
"So you're reminding us our brains are our most important weapons," one boy said.
Maria Hill smiled. "That's just one thing it's good for but yes, it is. You are here to learn how to be good adults. Not all of you will pass into agent training. Not all of you should want to pass into agent training."
"Those two categories? They're not exclusive," Bucky said. "A lot who want to be agents shouldn't be agents."
Maria nodded. "That is very true." She looked at the group. "For now, we want you to be children learning to be adults. You learn how to do math, geography, english, many other topics. Self defense I will allow to continue because it can save your life some day. We're all realistic about people who come for families of agents." A few nodded, looking down. "Especially when we're rebuilding and finding so many that should have been SHIELD and weren't." She looked around the room. "You are not the only group getting this lesson. We're just starting with you because we talked with your parents last night.
"I'm sorry to say that your teacher has made you behind your average student in this city. Which he was wrong to do. He was teaching you many things he should not have taught you until you were a teenager. If then." The kids nodded. "We are planning to offer some tutoring after school for those students who need help getting up to grade standard. It's hard but I'm sure all of you can do your best in here and learn all you can. Even if you're not agents that doesn't mean you're not worthwhile people. You can go on to great things that don't require an ID card and a badge."
"We're not India, kids. There's no castes that mean you're less worthwhile for one job over another," Darcy said. "No one in here is untouchable or higher status. If you're a garbage worker instead of an agent and that makes you happy then good for you. Being happy in your job will make your life so much more full. It'll mean a lot easier times and fewer health problems too. Less prosac needing people in the world is always a great thing."
"How do we find that out?" Alan asked.
"As you grow and you learn things, you find things that interest you," Maria said. "If that's geography, you'll use that to figure out what you want to do with your life. There's tests and things if you want to use them but most people figure it out after high school." He nodded.
"It's a super long road to being an adult for you guys. Take the long way," Darcy said. "It leads to playing, fun, happiness you'll miss when you're my age. People in their twenties can't just go play on a swingset or jump rope. We have jobs we have to do first." A few kids smiled. "Take the time to learn what you gotta learn, figure out what you *want* to learn, and take the time for fun things. You'll never get a chance to be this age again, unless chaos mages get hold of you."
"Don't remind me," Bucky sighed, shaking his head. "Six weeks of Buffy being ten with Willow." He rubbed his forehead with his metal hand.
One of the students popped up a hand. "You're the guy in that battle in DC."
"I was. I was brainwashed then. HYDRA had me." He shrugged. "I've healed and now I work with the Council." The kid looked at Larissa and Suzette. "I do work with more than them, yes. I took half of Xander's job from him." He smirked. "It means I get to escape all the girls going school shopping." Darcy burst out laughing, batting him on the arm. "Or prom shopping." She and Maria both smiled at him. "I have to keep reminding a few of the younger slayers-to-be that there's a difference between *playing* dumb and being dumb." They all nodded. The students stared in awe at them.
"Are you going to help us learn stuff?" Alan asked.
"I've got to help tutor all the other slayers, kiddo. If Steve needs my help he can ask."
"Can you spar with the slayers?" another girl asked.
"I can and have. I'm better than a lot of them. They're still taking lessons and learning."
"Real warriors learn every day," Steve said.
Bucky nodded. "They do. Even if they're watching Game of Thrones." A few kids laughed but Maria Hill shrugged.
"There's lessons to be learned from most tv shows," she said.
"I'd love to see the agents doing an American Ninja Warriors thing," Darcy said with a smile.
Maria looked at her. "Agents have to have *some* ego, Lewis. That would destroy them all. There's been peak fitness SEALs that couldn't pass that course."
Darcy smiled. "Exactly."
"Good point. It would definitely increase fitness."
"What?" Bucky and Steve asked. Darcy pulled out her phone to find a youtube video for them. They groaned at it.
"Exactly," Darcy said with a smile. "They could use it to make sure they're in peak fitness. If you make it through a stage you get a full week off, that most of them could use anyway."
Maria burst out laughing. "I might have to try that, Lewis. Thanks." She made that note for herself, looking at the kids. "Sometimes adults need incentive."
"I was thinking incentive might help the kids too," Darcy said. "How about if they start passing core subjects with a group high average I bring in something like the class approved cupcake recipe and we teach them how to make it or maybe something like a meal with that at the end."
Maria considered it then nodded. "Everyone needs to learn how to cook. Eating just takeout means you get weak and fat." The kids sat up straighter at that. "I can see that being a good incentive. Say class average of a B or above?"
Darcy nodded. "I can do that and they need to know nutrition anyway before they start to live on pop tarts like Jane tries to do."
Maria looked at her. "Thank you for fixing that."
"If I didn't, Thor would have to carry her around all the time." She smiled at the class. "Will that work for you guys? I know some of you guys aren't going to be the best at everything but you can help each other, without cheating, to get higher grades. If you guys get a class average of a B or better we give cooking lessons?" They mostly nodded. She smiled. "Great. Boss lady, which one first?"
"English should be easiest and they were closer on that part of the test," she said. "We'll test them in two weeks?" She looked at the staring principal.
"Make it three. There's a section on there for reading comprehension," he said quietly.
"Three is good," Darcy said. "I have to leave the next week to help Jane at a conference in Tampa."
"Then we can do that," Maria agreed. The kids cheered. "Study hard. We want to be able to say our agents' children are some of the smartest there are."
One girl raised her hand. "I didn't want to ask Larissa or Suzette, but can slayers have normal jobs? My mom said they can't."
"Yeah, they can," Bucky said. "Half the girls only patrol for a year or during college and go to battles-only status once they graduate. We have three or four in the city that are doing normal, everyone can do them, jobs. We want the girls to be as normal as possible. They're allowed to date, though we do tend to watch over them just in case they're not great and the sort that want to capture a slayer. A great many have kids and are married. Most of them have good jobs and we do pay for college for those girls that want it."
"So they're training to go on patrol for a few years?"
"Battles," Steve said. "Can happen at any time or anywhere. From what I've seen, most of the slayers don't stay on nightly patrol status after twenty-five but they're all on call for battles in their areas, and for the really bad ones if they can get there and they're cleared or nearly cleared they can jump in." She nodded.
"At the battle in Suriname last month, one of the slayers was complaining she should be sitting with her daughter while she pushed out her first grandchild," Bucky said.
"Slayers are just like everyone else but they have a duty if a bad demon event is happening," Steve agreed. "Some girls are never fit for patrol status. They don't have the right responses or they can't do it physically due to injuries or birth defects. They're still slayers. They do support things instead usually."
The kids looked at Suzette and Larissa. "I'd like to do what Mr. Sam does," Larissa said. "By the time I'm old enough for college he'll be old enough to retire."
"It's something all the girls need," Bucky agreed, smiling at her. "It's a lot of college but you're good at listening and that seems to be the best thing." Steve nodded, smiling at her. "Not everyone knows what they want to do this young but sometimes you do."
Suzette raised her hand. "Does that mean Daddy and I can run in the charity run in a few weeks?"
"Grounded," Darcy reminded her.
"For charity I'd let her, and help, but it'd be unfair of me to run with my gifts," he said. She pouted. "You can ask Uncle Clint or someone if they'd like to run with you in it. Some people run those to qualify for later marathons and I'd screw up their scores, Suzette."
"You can't do it not for scores?"
"I don't know. I'll see. Still, ask one of your uncles or aunts."
"Auntie Darcy?" she asked, eyes wide.
Darcy giggled, shaking her head. "Sweetheart, I can't run. I really can't. I do something like a twenty minute mile. Sorry, dear. Ask Clint, he can run. Or Tony. He can run, he does at least once a week."
"I can do that," she decided.
"You can workout with me," Steve offered with a smile.
"Bite your tongue, Rogers."
"Fine." He looked at Bucky.
"Sword practice is so much worse than boxing and sparring practice," Bucky defended. "Especially if I'm using an axe against Xander or practicing against magic with Andrew."
Steve shook his head but he was smiling. "There's many ways of finding physical fitness, kids. Bucky knows a lot more about that than I do."
"Will you run with me, Uncle Bucky?" Suzette asked with a smile.
He stared at her. "I'm a bit enhanced myself."
"But you're not super speedy," she quipped.
"Uh-huh. Ask me tomorrow." She pouted but nodded. He looked at Darcy.
"It's a charity 10K for the local Veteran's home and prostheses programs." He groaned but nodded. Steve sighed but nodded he'd go too. She patted them both on the back. "Jane and I can man some drink stations, guys." Suzette got up to dance happily. Larissa joined her. "Larissa, do you want to join?"
"No thank you. My mom wouldn't like that."
"I can talk her into it," Suzette said happily, hugging her. "We can go together. Maybe on our bikes?" She looked at her father. Who shrugged. She grinned. Larissa squealed and hugged her back then ran up to hug them all before going back to her seat.
Maria Hill smiled. "It's good when you kids are happy. Keep being happy and we'll be watching." They nodded and she went to talk to the other classes with Steve and Bucky.
Congrats, You're a Good Friend.