Archaic Kinds of Fun

it's a sacrifice

“So, we’re in Paris and then all of a sudden, BOOM! Some asshat starts shootin’ at us like we stole somethin’, which I did, but Jo turns right around and—”

“Bruce! Wade! Get in here!” Bruce startled a little at the loud yell, and Deadpool froze mid-sentence. That’s the first time that Bruce has heard Clint call the mercenary by his actual name; he wasn’t sure that anyone did, except for Jo.

“Is that a frowny face, Clinton?!” Deadpool yelled as he fell backwards off the bench. He landed on his feet, and Bruce quickly moved behind him. They followed Clint inside the building, that Deadpool technically wasn’t allowed inside of, and he could see everyone clustered together. Sue and Reed were whispering to each other, and Thor was standing next to two people that he didn’t recognize. One was about Hulk’s size and looked like he was made out of rocks, and the other guy looked like he could be Steve’s younger brother. It was the blonde hair and blue eyes.

“Johnny! Where’s my Josie?” Deadpool yelled as they got closer. The other guy is Johnny Storm? That makes sense. That’s Jo’s ex?

“About that—” Sue screamed as Deadpool suddenly lifted Johnny into the air, by his throat, and the mercenary kicked the rocky guy away when he tried to pull them away. The other guy, Jo said his name was Ben, went flying across the space and knocked into a wall several feet away.

“What did you do this time?” Deadpool shook Johnny like he was a ragdoll, and Thor stepped up to Deadpool’s side. He placed one hand on his shoulder, and Deadpool’s neck made a cracking sound when he looked over at the god.

“Perhaps we would receive more answers if he could speak,” Thor said in a calm voice. It must have gotten through to Deadpool, because he let Johnny drop to the floor. His knees buckled so that he dropped to the floor, and one knee kept him from completely falling over. Ben stepped up to his side as Sue rushed over to him, but Johnny waved them both off.

“It’s okay, I’m fine. I said I’m fine!” Sue stepped back and away, and Johnny slowly got to his feet while massaging his throat.

“We split up, to cover more ground. Jo wouldn’t leave Tony’s side, so they went together. We kept communications open. Two hours ago, we got nothing but static from both of them. We backtracked to their location, but there was nothing there.” Johnny spoke slowly, like it hurt to speak, and his neck was turning red.

“If she’s dead, so are you,” Deadpool said with a finger pointed right in Johnny’s direction. Jo said her breakup with Johnny was an easy one, but it sounds like Deadpool really doesn’t like him. Is it because of Jo or something else?

“Jo’s not dead. She’s Jo,” Clint said and clapped Deadpool on the shoulder.

“Strong, not indestructible. Limits.” Deadpool raised his hands to press them against the sides of his head, and Clint moved to grab the back of his neck. Bruce knows the mercenary is unstable, but how unstable?

“We’ll go look for her. We’ll bring her home,” Clint said quietly. It looks like the archer has seen this before.

“We will bring them both back unharmed,” Thor added.

“Hey, Tony, check it out. We’ve got a search party.” The rough voice seemed to echo in the tense room, and Bruce only knew that he was moving because Jo kept getting closer. His arms crushed her to him, and he heard her loud laugh in his ear as she reached up to tangle her fingers in his hair. “Missed you too, Doc.”

One Hour Earlier

“Oh my God, stop it, you two! Get up!” After a lot of sweat and elbow grease, she was able to pry the Tank out of her restraints. The other woman helped, of course, because it was a joint effort. Then, together, they were able to free Ironman. Now the two superheroes are kneeling in front of her and taking turns bowing.

“We’re not worthy!”

“I hate that movie!” They paused, finally, and looked at each other. Then they shrugged and went right back to the bowing. “Can we please just tie up Doom and get out of here?!”

“Seriously,” the Tank said as she jumped to her feet, “that was the most badass thing I have ever seen. You took down Victor von Doom. One of the smartest people in the world. With squirrels.”

“He’s not smarter than me,” Ironman was quick to point out. His bodyguard raised a brow at him but didn’t say anything, and Doreen propped her fists on her hips as she looked at the now standing heroes.

“The point is, I am sorry for laughing earlier. I’m not an Avenger so I don’t really get a vote, but I’m rootin’ for you,” the Tank said with a big toothy grin. So, all she had to do was take down a super villain to get the respect she deserves? That was easy.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m sorry too. I’ll nominate you as soon as the team is back together.” He sounds cocky, but he’s smiling. Ironman is gonna nominate her to be an Avenger. The Tank is rooting for her.

“And you gotta stop calling us by our codenames. I’m Jo,” she said and stuck a hand out. It’s covered by the suit she’s wearing, there’s something circular pressed against her palm, and Doreen clapped her palm against the metal.

“Doreen Green. Nice to finally meet ya.” They let go with a smile, and she looked over at…what is she supposed to call him?

“You know who I am. Tony is fine.”

“Or asshole, if he’s in a mood.” Jo’s smile was sweet, and Tony just smiled right back at her. Those two are weird. “So! Let’s tie up Doom. Tony, you think you can fly this thing back to Greenland?”

“Please, this thing is a hunk of junk compared to my toys. Of course I can fly it. You ladies got this? Good!” He walked off, and Doreen didn’t know that it was possible to swagger while encased in metal.

“That’s Tony for you. Always proving the impossible.” It was said with a fond little smile as she started picking up the metal restraints, and Doreen realized that she’d just had her mind read.

“You do that a lot? Some would consider it a violation of privacy,” she pointed out. The mutant stopped what she was doing and straightened up to look over at her.

“Yeah, sorry about that. Uh, sometimes I pick up on surface thoughts by accident. I’m still learning control. I’ll try not to let it happen again.” The other woman looks really apologetic too, so Doreen just shrugged.

“Don’t worry about it. Just don’t go diggin’ around in here, and we’ll call it square.”

“Deal.” Together they used the restraints that had been on Tony and Jo to tie up Doom, and he only woke up once during their ride. Jo punched him once, right in the temple, and he slipped back into unconsciousness. It didn’t take them long to reach Greenland, despite Tony’s vehemence that his jets were better than Doom’s, and Doreen got the honor of slinging the unconscious villain over her shoulder.

“You ready to meet a few more Avengers?” Tony asked her. They’re standing outside of the building where the Fantastic Four have been hiding out as they build specialized cells, and Doreen hefted Doom up a little more.

“I was born ready.” Tony and Jo were both laughing as they opened the doors and walked inside, and they followed the sound of voices.

There was a couple standing away from everyone, and Doreen recognized them as Reed and Sue Richards right away. (Did Sue take Reed’s name when they got married?) Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm were standing off to the side too. In the center, were the Avengers minus two and plus one. Captain America and Black Widow were missing. (Doreen does her research, okay?) Hawkeye was standing next to a guy in a red suit, who has got to be Deadpool, and Thor is at his other side. They’re talking quietly, but Doreen is so busy taking everything in that she can’t focus on the words.

“Hey, Tony, check it out. We’ve got a search party.” Oh, that makes sense. They think that Jo and Tony are missing, which maybe they were? Doreen’s eyes widened as one of the men started walking towards them, at a very fast pace, and she’s seen that face in classified documents. That’s Dr. Banner. The human counterpart of the Hulk. He’s heading straight for Jo. What did the Tank-like mutant do to piss off the Hulk?

His arms wrapped around Jo’s ribcage, and the hold looked tight enough to hurt. Maybe it would’ve hurt a normal human, but Jo just laughed. She raised her arms to wrap them around the man’s shoulders, and Doreen watched the way that her gloved fingers disappeared inside of his wild curls. Her lips brushed against his ear as she whispered about how she missed him too, and it clicked. Okay, wow. Jo’s dating Hulk, or the human side of him anyway. Good to know.

“Josie!” The man in the red suit came running forward and jumped onto both of them, and all three of them went crashing to the ground. She’s heard stories about Deadpool, and this has got to be him.

“You gonna introduce us to your new friend?” Hawkeye asked. They’re not worried about the pile of bodies on the floor? Is this normal for them?

“Everyone!” Tony paused until everyone was looking at him and then continued. “This is Squirrel Girl, and she just took down Doom.”


“It’s totally not them, right?” Darcy asked. She’s in Pepper’s New York office, which is very tastefully done and somehow manages to mix hominess with modernism, and she’s looking at the flat screen on the far wall. There’s a news report on, from China. There was an explosion, a big one that completely destroyed some abandoned amusement park, and she is not freaking out.

“I’m sure they are all just fine,” Pepper said quietly. Pepper is at her desk, and Darcy is sitting across from her. There was an explosion, in China. Clint and Thor are in China. What if that explosion has something to do with them? What if they set it off? What if they—

“Incoming call, Miss Potts.” That’s JARVIS’s voice. She didn’t know JARVIS was hooked up to Pepper’s office, but she’s not exactly surprised either.

“We’ll take it.” There was a little click and then there was an explosion of sound. It mostly sounded like laughter, and yelling.

“Pepper!” That’s Tony.

“Hi, Pepper!” That’s Jo.

“Darcy is here too.”

“Darcy!” Tony and Jo yelled together.

“Outta the way, Josie! Hi, Darcy!” That’s definitely Clint.

“Hello, Darcy!” Thor’s booming voice was the loudest, and Darcy slumped a little in her chair. They’re all okay.

“Hi, Darcy, Pepper,” Bruce said quietly.

“Hey, pretty ladies!” Okay, that’s a voice that she doesn’t know.

“Nuh-uh, no hittin’ on Pepper and Darcy, Uncle Wade!” That’s the Deadpool guy that Jo talks about, and Clint sometimes. What’s he doing there?

“This is my phone call! All of you, go away!” Tony yelled. The sounds slowly died down, so Tony must have walked away. There was still muffled shouting in the distance. “Sorry. We got Arcade and Doom, so everyone is celebrating.”

“Celebrating?” Pepper asked with a little smile. Looks like the other woman is just as relieved as Darcy is.

“Yeah, but there’s no booze! Promise.” Darcy’s eyes widened as she looked over at Pepper, but she shook her head. Okay, Darcy won’t say anything. Right now.

“I trust you, Tony. When will you be coming home?” Darcy sat forward in her chair, because she really has missed everyone. She misses Tony’s off-key singing and Jo’s teasing; she misses Clint’s smiles and Thor’s laugh; she misses watching Bruce scribble on napkins at dinner and Natasha threatening to shoot Jo; she misses Steve’s cooking and Maria’s dry humor. She just misses all of them.

“Few days. Richards wants me to take a look at a few things, shouldn’t take long. Oh! We might have a house guest, for the foreseeable future. Possibly a new Avenger?” Pepper asked for details, and Tony told the story of a woman with squirrel-like powers that took down one of the strongest villains ever. Darcy really wants to meet this girl. She sounds awesome.

“Few days?” Pepper asked when he was finished.

“Few days, I promise.” They said their I-love-yous and goodbyes, and Darcy slumped back in her chair when it was over.

“I think we can make it on our for a few more days, don’t you?” Pepper asked her with a smile. Pepper is nice and understanding, but there is something that Darcy has been wanting to ask her.

“How’d you know that Jo would take care of Tony?” The question seemed to catch Pepper off guard, because she dropped the papers she was holding. Neither of them looked at the falling papers; Darcy kept her eyes locked with Pepper’s and waited.

“She took three bullets for him. Something told me that I could trust her to keep him safe, and I didn’t know what to do anymore,” Pepper said honestly. “I was hurting him more than I was helping him. He needed something different. Someone different.”

“And now?” They’re engaged now, but Pepper left him once before. It might have been for his own good, but she still left. Darcy can admit that she loves Tony, in her own weird way, and she doesn’t want to see him hurt.

“Now, he’s been at his lowest. I don’t know everything, but I know enough. I know that things got really bad, and it was Jo that put him back together. She saved the man I love, and I will never be able to thank her enough for that. For helping Tony. For loving him.”

“You won’t leave him again?” Pepper shook her head, but Darcy wants to hear the words.

“Never.” Well, that’s good enough for her. For now.


“How about Maria?” Natasha has been throwing names at him all throughout this mission, and he’s dismissed each one without a second thought. Analysists, technicians, secretaries…He knows their names and faces, but he doesn’t want to date any of them.

“Come again?” The mission is over. Another group threatening to attack the country has been dealt with, and he’s glad that the rest of the STRIKE force isn’t around to hear him and Natasha now.

“Maria? Hill? Top SHIELD agent that’s been living with us for a couple of months.” He’s tired and confused. He just wants to go lay down in the room that SHIELD provided for him while he’s here.

“What about Agent Hill?” Maria’s ribs have healed perfectly, so she’s back in the field. She won’t be in the house anymore. (She won’t need him to carry her around or cater to her, despite her insistence that she’s perfectly capable of taking care of herself. He knows that she’s perfectly capable, but he liked the way she smiled whenever he did something nice for her. Like she wasn’t used to the simple gestures.)

“You could ask her out on a date.”

“Not going to happen, Natasha.” He turned off to head towards his temporary apartment, and Natasha was gone when he looked over his shoulder.

The sun was bright and warm as they sat on the porch, in a poor attempt at hiding. Maria had one lock of hair from her bangs that continuously covered her left eye, and Steve’s fingers had itched for a sketchpad.

He drew the picture later that night, while the memory was still fresh.


“Shit, Johnny, that looks like it hurts,” Jo said and resisted the urge to poke the bruise on Johnny’s throat.

“Ya think?” he snapped. They’re standing in the kitchen, to get more drinks, and she can hear the others in the dining room. Tony keeps re-telling Doreen’s epic takedown of Doom, and she can hear the others laughing. Thor had been the most intrigued at the little warrior, and Clint kept saying that they should kick Jo out and replace her with the cooler mutant. Ben just congratulated her, and the big fella has spent most of the night talking to Bruce. Reed and Sue are mostly keeping to themselves, but she can tell that they’re both impressed with Doreen.

“Sorry about that. Uncle Wade didn’t mean anything by it.” Speaking of Uncle Wade, he left about an hour ago. Said he had some things to take care of but that he’d see her again soon.

“Yeah, I know, he’s just protective. Where have I heard that before?” Jo reached up to rub the back of her neck and tried not to apologize. She’s already apologized for that anyway. (They’d been back in New York for all of two weeks, still shaking off the mission from Greenland, when Jo invited Logan down to lunch. The first thing he did when he saw Johnny? Punched him in the face, and then said there’d be more to come if Johnny ever broke her heart. It’s a good thing they haven’t been around each other since then.) “Sorry, Holbrook, I know it’s not your fault. And I’m fine.”

“This time.” They both looked over at Sue, and Johnny quickly grabbed several bottles of water before hurrying away. Jo held still as Sue walked farther into the kitchen, and she took a small sip from her own bottle of water. “I told Deadpool he wasn’t allowed in the house.”

“What?! Why would you say that?!” Sue met her glare head-on, but Jo’s not backing down this time.

“This isn’t the first time that he’s hurt Johnny!”

“From the way I remember it, Uncle Wade saved Johnny!”

“After thinking about it for several minutes! Johnny could have been killed!”

“He was just looking out for me!” They were leaning towards each other, fists clenched at their sides, and they both took in a slow breath to help calm down. Uncle Wade came across Johnny in a tight spot after their breakup, and Jo’s honestly a little surprised that Uncle Wade helped her ex at all. His moral code is almost nonexistent.

“I know that he’s, different, but—”

“No, you don’t know. You don’t have a single fucking clue what it’s like for him. You don’t know what they did to him, how they broke him.” Sue’s eyes narrowed before clearing, and she lightly bit the corner of her lip.

“Just like I don’t know what they did to you.” The words hurt, but Sue’s not wrong. Jo doesn’t talk about what happened to her at ROSE, so she’s never been able to explain why she turned out like she did. Why she’s done the things that she did.

“Do you wanna know? I’m stronger now, so I can show you a slideshow. Give you a taste. Maybe then you’ll stop glaring at me so much.” Jo expected the other woman to turn the offer down, because no one wants someone else inside their head. Sue nodded though, and Jo’s not backing down. Sue has always looked down at her, so this might be her only chance to try and get the other woman to understand.

“What should I do?” Sue asked and met her look head-on.

“Hold tight,” she said and grabbed Sue’s hands. She closed her eyes and did her best to focus. Pulled up memories better left forgotten; let the fear and anger fill her up to make the images clearer.

The shocks make her teeth lock together and her muscles strain. Every time she cries out, the shocks get a little stronger. They keep her weak. Stop feeding her. Shocks around the clock. Test her limits. Reattach limbs to see if it’s possible. It’s worse when she cries.

The nurse that comes to her in the night looks at her with dead eyes. She knows what they do, but she doesn’t care. She comes in like clockwork to press the button that shocks her. That keeps her weak. She’s so weak now. They don’t let her sleep. Don’t let her eat. She’s like a rabid animal, and she bites. She remembers killing the nurse. She broke free of her loose restraints, because she’s lost so much weight, but she still has the strength to break the woman’s neck before she can press the button. No more shocks.

It’s been worse since she tried to get free. Killed the nurse. She killed someone. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts. They cut into her guts and into her brain. They promise to make her better, but they’re killing her instead. The first thought she hears is about death. The telepathy took for her, but one of the other test subjects didn’t survive.

She’s scared, and the fear makes her angry. She’s lost, because she doesn’t know who she is anymore. Johnny helps. He makes her laugh and calls her beautiful. She wants to talk about the missions that SHIELD sends her on, needs to talk about the screams echoing in her own mind, but he shuts down whenever she starts. He doesn’t want to know. She’s drowning, in the fear and in the anger, but she doesn’t want to lose him. She’ll keep quiet, so she can keep him.

Wanted to be a hero, when she was younger. Wanted to save people. Now she’s a killer, because what else can she do? Those doctors took away the part of her that felt clean; they dirtied her up as they chipped away at her. She kills bad people; she kills people that want to hurt others. She’ll get blood on her hands if it means that she can save someone else. Maybe, one day, the scales will balance. She’ll take enough lives and save enough lives in the process that everything will be balanced.

“Stop! Please, stop.” Jo instantly let go of the woman’s hands, and she was surprised to see tears streaking down Sue’s beautiful face. Sue’s too pretty to cry like that.

“Sorry. Did I hurt you? I’m still learning how to do that,” Jo said quickly.

“All that…pain, and fear. I didn’t know someone could survive that much,” Sue whispered.

“Standing right here,” Jo said and crossed her arms. “And I don’t want any pity from you, Susan. I just want you to understand. You get it now, right?”

“You’re wrong.” Wow, even after all that, Sue still doesn’t like her?

“About which part?”

“You are a hero. You’ve saved enough lives to earn that title.” Jo snorted, but she’s not going to argue. Not when Sue has finally said something positive about her.

“Does that mean no more death-glares?” Jo asked with a little smile.

“I’ll try to hold back,” Sue said with a smile of her own. They’ll probably never be besties, so Jo will take what she can get. She nodded her head in Sue’s direction and started back towards the dining room, but Sue’s soft voice caught her attention. She looked over her shoulder and met the woman’s dry eyes. “I’m sorry that Johnny wasn’t there for you when you needed it.”

“Thanks.” It was said just loud enough for Sue to hear, and Jo lightly shook her head as she rejoined the others. Lots of memories were rattling inside of her brain, and they’re memories that she’d rather forget. Bruce’s eyes rose to meet hers as she got closer, and she could feel herself smiling as something inside of her seemed to fall away. Just looking at the man calms her down.

“Everything okay?” Bruce whispered once she was comfortably seated in his lap. Tony is sitting next to them, and she’s going to say that he’s miming squirrel attacks going by his wild hand motions.

“Yeah, everything’s good. You okay?” He’s warm and solid behind her, and his arms are loosely wrapped around her midsection.

“I’m good.”

“We should talk later though. Nothing bad, just catch up.” He raised a brow when she looked back at him, and she smiled. Even though they’re together, it still takes a lot of trust to ask someone to read your thoughts.

“Maybe now?” It’s been a really long day, and she’s tired. She wants to cuddle with Bruce, talk about their adventures, and then fall asleep in his arms.

“Now sounds good.” Bruce’s thoughts are like warmth and safety, which doesn’t really make sense except for how it totally does.

“Alright, everyone, we’re callin’ it a night,” she said and stood up. She could feel Bruce’s hands on her hips as he stood up, and the majority of the people at the table started cheering and whistling. Immature, all of them. Even Doreen is banging her fist on the table and cheering, and now Thor has caught on and is doing it too. “All of you can kiss my ass.”

“Night, sweetheart!” Tony called as Clint made kissy noises at her retreating backside. It’s official. She’s kicking the hawk’s ass. First thing in the morning. Reed and Sue divided up rooms for all of them earlier, and Jo slipped into the room that she’s sharing with Bruce. Tony’s room is right next door, just in case one of them needs the other.

“Let me change first?” she asked. She’d put on black yoga pants and a dark blue tank on under her new super suit, and parts of her feel grimy. Maybe she should take a shower first.

“I was thinking we could shower first?” Bruce shifted like the question made him shy, which is just adorable considering they’ve already showered together quite a few times.

“Best idea I’ve ever heard, Doc,” she said and reached for him. Their hands laced, and she pulled him after her into the bathroom.


“I like this small creature,” Thor said and used one finger to lightly pet the top of Monkey Joe’s head. Doreen is sitting next to a god. A god. She’s sitting next to Thor! Ironman and Hawkeye are across from her, and Hawkeye keeps asking for more details about her fight with Doom. The Fantastic Four have turned in for the night, along with Jo and Dr. Banner, so she’s just sitting with a few members of the Avengers.

“He likes you too,” Doreen informed him. Monkey Joe is having the time of his life, because apparently Thor is good at petting.

“So! Boys, Squirrel Girl has made a request.” Tony spoke loud enough to get the other two guys to quiet down, and Doreen felt her brows raising. He’s gonna ask them now?

“And what request is this?” Thor asked.

“Does she wanna be president of Earth? ‘Cause I’m cool with that,” Hawkeye said with a little wink in her direction. The archer is funny; he’d make a good friend.

“I was not aware that Midgard had a singular ruler. You have my support as well.” Thor clapped a giant hand against her shoulder and gave her a little shake, and she smiled up at the big guy. Geeze, he is huge. He’s also strangely gentle. Such a paradox.

“I’m not running for president of anything,” Doreen pointed out.

“She’s not running for president,” Tony added.

“Then what’s the request, Stark?” Clint drawled out. If she didn’t know better, she’d think they’d all had a few rounds. There hasn’t been a drop of alcohol at the table though.

“Squirrel Girl would like to be an Avenger,” Tony said and beamed a smile her way. She likes him better when he’s not being a complete douchebag. “I would like to be the first to nominate her.”



“Okay, so that’s three out of six. Bruce will say yes, because he’s Bruce.” She’s not really sure what that statement means, but she’s not gonna argue. “That leaves Steve and Natasha. Bird-boy, how do you think your life partner will vote?”

“Well, she’ll want a full list of Squirrel Girl’s strengths and weaknesses. Possibly a demonstration. I know you got squirrels on your side, but how are you at hand-to-hand combat?” Clint’s being mostly serious now; his face is serious, but his eyes are bright like he’s laughing. Natasha…Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow. Are her and Clint? Not that it’s any of her business, of course.

“Strengths…okay, I can do this. Well, there’s the obvious. I can communicate with squirrels. Not telepathically; we just understand each other. I’ve got the super senses-strength, speed, agility, smell, eyesight, and reflexes. A healing factor. My tail’s been pretty useful in a few fights. Oh! And I have these really cool knuckle spikes.” She raised her fists and let the spikes protrude from her knuckles slowly, just so they could really get a good look at them, and then quickly retracted them. The spikes are only about three inches long, but she can do some damage with them.

“Weaknesses?” Clint asked. He looks suitably impressed, so she’ll answer him.

“The usual, I guess. My healing factor ain’t nothing like the Tank’s, and my strength can only last for so long. Everyone has limits, right?”

“Can we keep her?” Clint asked and batted his lashes at Tony.

“And the little squirrel as well?” Thor added. Aww, the big guy wants to keep her little buddy around.

“We’ve got four out of six votes. I’m sure Steve can be persuaded. As for Natasha, I think she’ll okay it. You might have to fight her first,” Tony said and looked right at her.

“I’m always up for a friendly fight,” she said as she kept looking at him. That got him to laughing, along with Clint and Thor, and she relaxed back in her seat. These guys are alright.


“Well, you’ve pretty much heard everything about my mission from Tony,” Jo said as she collapsed into the bed. Her thighs tensed and relaxed as she fell still, and she could still feel the light bruises on her thighs. Mmm, she has really missed Bruce. He really missed her too, going by the bruises on her thighs and the slightly darker mark on her shoulder. She could let them heal, but those places feel just a little hotter than the rest of her skin so she’s gonna hold onto them for a little bit. Her healing will kick in when she falls asleep.

“It’s a good thing Doreen was there,” Bruce said as he slipped into bed next to her. The Doc is stripped down to just a pair of Hulk shorts, and there’s so much tempting skin laid out in front of her. She’s gotta focus though. Plus, she’s a little more dressed so that should help with the temptation. (Okay, she’s wearing a pair of Tony’s silky red boxers and one of her own black tanks, but it’s more than she usually wears to bed.)

“Are you saying I should have been nicer to her? Because I was mostly just surprised. She came out of nowhere and started talking about being an Avenger, and her mind is so…I didn’t read her thoughts or anything, but I can always feel a person if I’m not blocking everything out. She was soft,” Jo said with a shrug. Bruce moved so that he was sitting up against the headboard, and Jo wiggled around until she was mirroring his position. Now they’re sitting up and can see each other. She likes being able to look into Bruce’s eyes when they talk.

“Well, I’m glad she was there. To help you.” Help, right. Jo can admit it. Doreen saved her ass. And Tony’s.

“Alright, how’d your mission go?” she asked with a little smile. Bruce fidgeted, but he didn’t look away. She’s already got a bad feeling about this.

It started out simple enough. Deadpool showed up as they were stepping off the jet in China, because her Uncle Wade is crazy like that. They were able to find the kids pretty fast, which made Jo sigh in relief. Until he told her that one of the kids didn’t make it. Remy took their jet so that he could get the remainder of the kids back home, to the school, and Clint called in for another jet. Uncle Wade was still down in Murderworld, looking for Arcade, so Bruce went with Clint and Thor to find him. To help him. That’s where everything went wrong. While looking for Uncle Wade, they were all hit with some gas.

“I don’t…Hulk doesn’t…Neither of us really remember waking up. One moment there was gas, thick and choking us, and then we were in this room. Deadpool was there, but it wasn’t Deadpool. A part of us knew who was in there with us and that he wasn’t a threat, but the rage…I’ve never felt rage like that. Neither of us. Before, even when bombs were being shot at us, we were never like that. We could still think, plan. In there? The other person, Deadpool, had to die. But he just kept pulling himself back together, over and over again. Each time he did, we got angrier and angrier. We did everything we could to destroy him, to make it stop…it would stop if he would just stay dead, but he won’t. He’s just laughing and taunting and screaming…”

“Come on and kill me! You can’t! I’m mother-fucking-immortal!” Deadpool is screaming with his head turned around backwards, which shouldn’t be possible. Everything is pulsing in shades of red. The color of their anger. Blades of the strongest metal are cutting through to the radioactive blood underneath, and they have to kill him. Kill him and it’ll stop. Kill him and it’ll stop. Kill him and—

“Bruce!” Her hands were pressed against his cheeks, and he closed his eyes as he took a few slow deep breaths. He’d gotten lost inside his head, so she had to go in after him. Oh, Bruce. Him and Hulk never should have gone through that.

“He thanked me for the neck massage when it was over.” Bruce slowly opened his eyes once the words were out, and her smile felt a little shaky.

“Uncle Wade is weird like that,” she said with a shrug.

“When we got back, Sue said he wasn’t allowed in the house. So, we sat outside and talked. About you. He’s different…but he cares about you.” The words warmed her heart, possibly literally because her chest feels a little tighter and hotter. Sue wouldn’t let Uncle Wade in the house, so Bruce stayed with him. He didn’t have to do that. Uncle Wade can take care of himself.

“I’m guessing he told you all the embarrassing stories?” she asked with a little laugh.

“You can look and see.” She’s already straddling Bruce’s lap, has been since she went in to pull him out of his memories, so it was easy to reach up and bury her hands in his hair. She leaned forward to rest her forehead against his, and she listened to her Uncle Wade tell their story. From the time they met until Paris after her retirement. He skipped some stuff and spoke a lot of nonsense, but the stories got through. He might be insane, but her Uncle Wade really does love her. Told Bruce that she was a light in the darkness, that she got a little dusty but she’s shining bright again.

“Can I tell you something, Bruce?” She’s sitting back now, and Bruce reached up to brush the hair away from her face. Some parts of it are drying; she really should put it up, or maybe Bruce will braid it for her.

“Anything.” It’s just one word, but it means so much to her. Everything to her. So she started talking. She’s decided that Bruce is it for her, and she’s going to do this right. She’s going to tell him everything. About her life back when she was in school, everything that happened to her at ROSE, and all of the horrible things she did while working for SHIELD.

They were lying down by the time she was finished, and Jo had her cheek pressed against Bruce’s chest. She could hear his heartbeat right under her ear, and it was a soothing sound as she talked about all the people she’s killed. All the missions she went on. Bruce listened to it all and never once asked her to stop. He just held her and let her talk, and that’s all she’s ever really wanted. For someone to hear the worst of her and still hold her. When she was done, she tilted her face up to meet his eyes.

“You’ve seen the people I killed.” From his nightmare; she remembers the faces from all the files.

“But you didn’t mean to. They were accidents.”

“And yours were on purpose. We’ve all done things that we regret.”

“I don’t regret all the kills though. Some of them probably didn’t deserve to die, but most of them did. I don’t regret killing them.” Bruce’s brows furrowed as he thought, and Jo forced herself not to look into his mind. Bruce will say what he’s thinking when he’s ready.

“There’s no shame in that, Jo. You did what was right,” Bruce said quietly. No shame. Reed, Sue, and even Johnny looked down at her for getting blood on her hands. Bruce doesn’t think she should be ashamed. “What you’ve done, it’s a sacrifice. You did what others couldn’t. Your strength is something to be proud of.”

“Keep saying things like that and I might have to jump you.” She’s making a joke, but it’s just so that she won’t start crying. Bruce’s words are like a balm on her soul. (If she has a soul. She’ll have to ask Thor later, since he’s her god and everything.)

“I’m just telling you the truth.” She nuzzled down against his chest and felt his fingers sinking into her hair.

“What did I do to deserve you?” she whispered.

“You looked past the monster to see something more.” She doesn’t like anyone calling Hulk a monster, but she understands what he means. She sees him for who he is, and she accepts him. If they keep this up, she’s going to fall in love. Maybe she’s already falling.

“You’re getting the best kind of wakeup call in the morning. Just saying.” Bruce’s laugh was quiet in their dark room and made their bodies rock together, and she tightened her arms around him.

“Goodnight, Jo.”

“Night, Bruce.”


“This is your target, understand?” Blank eyes stared up at him; there was nothing behind the flat gray color. The bright lights in the room did nothing to the color of his eyes and shone against the metal that made up his left arm.

“This is my target,” he repeated. His still wet hair clung to his cheeks, and his body jolted as the attendants forced his arms into a vest. He’s only been out of containment for an hour, but he’s already so responsive.

“You are not to kill her. Herd her towards this address. Memorize it.” Eyes flicked down to the file, widened the slightest bit, and then raised again.

“Eight-ninety fifth avenue,” he recited. There’s no emotion or recognition in his voice. All the asset knows is his mission, because that’s all he needs to know.

“You are to maneuver her into place in three days, then report back here immediately.”


“The wound is to appear fatal, but not actually fatal. If she dies, you will be punished. Understand?”

“Punished if she dies.” It’s like a robot made of living flesh. A machine that takes orders; someone to do the dirty work without a conscience. The man really is the perfect soldier.

“What is the target’s name?” He waited, because this is crucial, and the asset didn’t disappoint.

“Daisy Kay Johnson.”
♠ ♠ ♠
For some reason I just really loved the idea of everyone starting to panic and thinking about starting a search party, then BOOM! No search party needed. Never doubt Tony and Jo. And Squirrel Girl, of course.

The little Steve snippet is before the events of Winter Soldier, but I am leading up to that. I’m working on Chapter 33 now, and I think that’s where it’s really going to start up. So that part is just after some random mission. Oh, and the little flashback is from where they all played hide-n-seek a few chapters ago.

The little flashback slideshow that Jo showed Sue is not going to make the other woman instantly forgive her. There will always be a little friction between the two of them, but I wanted Sue to understand why Jo turned out the way she did. Also, Jo has told Bruce everything about her! Which is a really big deal for normal people, so it’s an even bigger thing for Jo. Yay for relationship progress!

Deadpool will pop up at random times, so you haven’t seen the end of him. Squirrel Girl, on the other hand, is here to stay! I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts about her, because I am really having fun writing her character.

Can anyone decipher that last little part? Because it’s a HUGE part.