Archaic Kinds of Fun

sounds complicated

September 3, 2014

“Jo, can you hear me?” The voice isn’t quite whispered, but it’s still soft. Jo stirred just a little and reached a hand out, which was immediately engulfed in warmth.

“Thought I was supposed to wake you up?” She’s trying for sultry, but she’s not really awake so she doubts it’s working. Bruce laughed, a sound that made her toes curl, and she shifted so that she could open her eyes and see him. He’s completely dressed, in slacks and a button-up, and that’s a shame.

“Tony and Reed asked for my help. I didn’t want to be rude,” Bruce said with a little shrug. The sun is just barely starting to rise, she can see little shafts of light coming in through the window, and the boys are already working. Why isn’t she surprised?

“Mmm, I’d never ask you to turn down science,” she mumbled. Later though, when the science is over, she’s gonna ravage him.

“I didn’t want to leave without telling you, and, um, I was wondering if, would you like me to, um—”

“Are you asking for a quickie? Because I can wake up for a quickie.” She struggled to open her eyes again and was rewarded with the sight of Bruce blushing. Ooh, that’s a really dark blush too. Even now, he still gets so shy around her sometimes. It’s adorable.

“I was going to ask if you want your hair braided.” Great, now she’s the one blushing. Sex with Bruce is like nothing she’s ever experienced with anyone else, but she’s still getting used to the more intimate things. Like telling Bruce every little thing about her and letting him braid her hair.

“Does it require me to get up?” She’s teasing, just a little. The honest truth is that she’d probably do anything, if Bruce was the one asking.

“No, you don’t have to get up. Brush in your bag?” She hummed as she nodded, and she felt the bed shift as Bruce got up. She’s stretched out on her stomach, and she felt Bruce sit down next to her hip. The bed dipped so that her hip curved against his, and she felt the brush lightly pulling through her tangles.

“You’ll keep an eye on Tony for me, won’t you? I think him and Reed respect each other, but that only goes so far,” Jo said quietly as Bruce’s fingers started moving through her hair. She’s going to be lulled right back into sleep, she can already tell.

“I’ll do my best,” Bruce said with an amused huff. Before she came along, Bruce was Tony’s friend. He knows how the other genius can be. Tony is hard to deal with sometimes, especially if you’re not already endeared to him.

“Tony means well, he really does. He’s just…Tony,” Jo said and attempted to shrug. She’s pretty sure that one shoulder moved.

“Maybe the science will keep him distracted.” Jo hummed and sighed at the loss when Bruce finished with her hair. He’s too efficient. Why can’t it take him an hour or two to finish her hair? Then again, that means an hour or two of Tony and Reed being alone together.

“I’ll see you later,” Bruce whispered as he ran a finger over the length of her hair. She twisted around enough to grab his wrist, and a smile pulled at her lips as she tugged Bruce down to her. She kept the kiss light, because she hasn’t brushed her teeth or anything, and Bruce was smiling when he pulled away from her.

“Later,” Jo whispered back. She watched him leave and waited until the door was closed before rolling over onto her other side. The curtains are pulled back, so she can feel the rising sun against her skin. Can see the warm glow on the inside of her eyelids. It’s comforting, and she wants to rest for just a little bit longer. Then she’ll get up.

She’s not sure how long she was asleep before something pulled her out of her wonderful sleep, and it took a moment for her to realize what woke her. The back of her eyelids were dark, and she can’t feel the sun anymore. There’s also a really cold draft in the room. Her legs shuffled against the bed as her eyes opened, and her gaze went straight for the window. Skintight black and red suit, a humming that jumps genres, and the low sound of distant screams. That’s another thing that no one knows. Behind all the voices and insanity, there’s screams. The tortured sound never stops, and it’s always there in the back of his mind.

“Can’t fool me, Josie Posie. I know when you are sleeping! I know when you are awake! Who am I?” He’s sitting framed in the window, but he’s facing her now.

“Santa’s suit is red and white,” she pointed out as she lifted herself up. Her legs pulled up as her torso lifted off the bed, and she groaned a little as she twisted into a sitting position. Uncle Wade is looking down at his suit and lightly poking parts of it, and Jo smiled. “Santa probably has less weapons too. Just sayin’.”

“No weapons. They’re goodies! For all the boys and girls!” Jo likes it when Uncle Wade is all happy and carefree, even if it means that she gets a little lost when he starts singing.

“Uhuh, sure. Come in and close the window, would ya?” He rolled into the room, ninja-style, and threw his arms up like a cheerleader once he was standing. She can even hear a loud ta-da! echoing in his mind. “I’m only giving you a six for that, because I’ve seen you jump off buildings and turn flips in the air.”

“You’re a tough cookie to crack.” She just beamed a smile at him and then made her way into the bathroom. She’s still got a bag in the bathroom, one filled with clothes and a smaller one inside of it with toiletries, and that’s all she needs. Once she took care of the refreshing routine, she tugged on some clothes. A pair of her own grey skinny jeans, one of Tony’s black tanks with an Ironman face on it, and one of Bruce’s dark blue button-ups. What? She wants both of them with her today.

“What’s with that look?” Deadpool is sitting in one of the chairs in the bedroom, and she can feel his judging gaze as she rolls her sleeves up.

“Your fashion sense is nearly nonexistent. You realize that, right?” He’s judging her clothes? She looked down at herself, at the slight contrasting colors, and shrugged.

“I’m comfy, and who do I need to impress?” Tony and Bruce accept her as she is, Clint and Thor are her friends, and the Fantastic Four have to be at least a little civil because she’s their guest. Doreen doesn’t seem like the type to be impressed by fashionable clothes, but she could be wrong.

“Me. Duh.” She nudged his shoulder, so that he toppled off the side of the chair he was sitting on, and moved over to the bed.

“I’ve already impressed you. Light in the darkness, right?” She could hear him grumbling behind her, could hear the thumps and clinks of all the deadly things on his body, but she focused on making the bed.

“Big guy told ya, huh?” She met the eyes of Uncle Wade’s mask as she moved to the other side of the bed, and she couldn’t help her smile.

“He did, and I told him everything too.”

“Everything-everything?” Uncle Wade whispered.

“Yep, every last little thing. Talked about Ma and Logan, the school, ROSE, SHIELD. He just listened and held me, and you know what he said afterwards?”

“Better have been somethin’ nice,” Uncle Wade said in a sing-song voice.

“Said that I had nothing to be ashamed of, that I was strong, that I should be proud. Can you believe that, Uncle Wade?” She’s sitting on the edge of the made bed, closest to Uncle Wade, and she’s still smiling. Parts of last night feel like a dream, but it really happened. For years, she thought no one would be able accept the real her. The one that killed without regrets.

“Hey, Josie, don’t get lost.” Uncle Wade is kneeling in front of her, whispering, and she wants to reach out to him. She knows how much it hurts him though, and she hates that.

“I would destroy worlds to bring you peace, you know that? If there was a way to save you, to make the pain stop, would you tell me?” He’s rolling his eyes, she can just tell, because he doesn’t do well with sentiment. He never really has, which is strange considering just how caring he can be sometimes.

“Only death can save me,” he said quietly.

“But I’m gonna live forever,” his mind screamed.

“I don’t believe that,” was her counter. There’s gotta be a way to stop the pain that he constantly feels.

“We’re not here to talk about me. We’re here to talk about you,” he said and lightly poked the end of her nose.

“What about me?” she asked with a shaky smile.

“The big guy, he’s good for you. Ol’ Sue kicked me out, but he stayed with me. Didn’t do it for me, did it for you. I haven’t seen you this bright since graduation,” Uncle Wade said and started tapping his fingers against her knees. Graduation, from the school. They laid on the roof and talked about her future plans. Logan had paced in her room below them, and he’d caught her when she snuck back into her room. He’d heard every word, about her plans to run around Europe with Uncle Wade, but Logan didn’t once tell her not to go.

“It’s not just him, you know. It’s Tony, and Darcy, and Clint, and all the others. They’ve been really good for me. I feel like I belong to a family,” she said with a shrug. Yeah, they’re a team, but they’re more than that too.

“Always had a family, Josie.” She reached up so that she could feel his smile through the mask and tried not to flinch at the fresh wave of pain that he felt. It didn’t stop him from smiling.

“I know. I’ve always had you, and Logan, and Anna Marie. Nothin’ wrong with a bigger family, is there?” He shrugged. “Will you come back with us? To New York?”

“Don’t think the metal head will like that,” Uncle Wade said with a laugh.

“He’ll be okay with it, because he’ll know it’s what I want. Families compromise, and I think he’ll like you once he gets to know you.” His laugh was loud and sharp in the room, and Jo carefully dropped her arms around his shoulders.

“Let me take care of business, and I’ll think about it.” He stood up in one fluid motion and was back at the window by the time she had registered the words.

“Need some help?” He paused in the open window, while standing on the sill, and he looked over his shoulder at her.

“Nah, it’s gonna get messy. Messy helps me think. Bye, Josie!” He jumped out of the window, and Jo would’ve rushed to the window to check on him but she knows better. Uncle Wade loves jumping off of things, and she knows that he’ll be okay.

“Me thinks it’s time for breakfast,” she mumbled to herself and stood up.


Doreen was enjoying a big bowl of cereal, frosted flakes, when the Tank finally entered the dining room. About time. She might idolize the Avengers and everything, but being the only girl in the room will never be any fun. Thor and Clint are talking to Ben and Johnny, loudly, and Doreen would join in…but it’s still early. Can’t these guys be normal and be grouchy first thing in the morning? Thor is literally jovial right now.

“Mornin’,” Jo said as she collapsed into a chair between Doreen and Clint. Her long hair has been braided so that it’s hanging down her back, and her dark green eyes are clear. She’s yawning though, so at least someone here is normal.

“What’s wrong, Holbrook? Didn’t get enough sleep last night?” Doreen can hear the teasing tone in Johnny’s voice, and Jo pointed her spoon at him.

“I can kick your ass without ever getting out of this chair. You know that, right?” No one should look scary while holding a spoon, but the tank-like mutant is proving the improbable.

“What if retirement made you rusty?” Clint snorted at Johnny’s inquiry, and it sounds like Jo might be growling. Just a little. It’s a scary sound.

“You think I’m rusty?” Thor is smiling as he looks between the two of them, and Ben is grumbling under his breath about the both of them being idiots.

“Just pointing out that it’s a possibility,” Johnny shrugged.

“After I finish eating my Wheaties, I’m kicking your ass.”

“You wish!” Jo and Johnny glared at each other from across the table, and Doreen watched in amazement as they raced each other to finish their cereal. They’re like giant children. Within minutes, both of their bowls were empty and they were striding off. Ben and Clint were hurrying after them, and Thor paused to look back at her.

“Would you like to join us, Doreen?” Would she like to watch the Tank and the Human Torch fight? Yeah, that’s something that she really needs to see.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” she said and quickly got up to follow him. Today is going to be a good day.


“What do you think, Jade? Is the red tasteful?” Darcy asked as she looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. Jade is standing on the sink, looking at her. It’s too bad she can’t read the chicken’s mind. It’d make their conversations a lot easier. The chicken lightly pecked against the dark red fabric, and Darcy smiled as she reached down to touch the shiny dark feathers. “Red it is then. Don’t suppose you have any advice about running my own meeting?”

The chicken stayed silent, and Darcy sighed. She’s pretty sure that Jade is supporting her, in silence. She’s got this.


“Draw!” Ben yelled. Jo and Johnny both went still, and it looked like they were going to argue. They fell apart as they started laughing instead, and Doreen shook her head with a little smile. That was an intense fight, even if it was a friendly one, but it looks like the two are still friends. Doreen got to watch the fight up on a platform with the others, and she’s grateful to be above. Looks like things got hot down there. Literally. There was a lot of fire. Johnny and Jo are back with them now though, and Ben and Thor are talking about heading down for a spar.

“Hey, Jo?” The mutant swiped a stray piece of hair off of her forehead as she turned towards Doreen, and Doreen tried to smile. It probably looks like a grimace or some other stupid face.

“You wanna spar?” Wow, she’s really pretty when she smiles. Doreen’s always had a small weakness for dimples though.

“Against you? Yeah, no, definitely not. I like my face just the way it is,” she said with a nervous little laugh. What? She’s still getting used to these people.

“I like your face the way it is too,” Jo said with an actual laugh.

“Hey! No flirtin’ with squirrel girls! We don’t want Hulk gettin’ jealous!” Clint yelled. Johnny was cackling next to him, and Jo turned to face him and must have made a face because the mutant didn’t say anything.

“So, whatcha need?” She looks all loose and relaxed, so maybe an early morning spar is like a good cup of coffee for her. Interesting.

“I was just wondering if we could talk. In private.” That made Clint and Johnny howl in laughter, and Jo tossed a towel at them.

“Yeah, just let me go get changed.” Right, she changed out of her normal clothes and into some workout clothes before getting in the ring with Johnny. The yoga pants and tank must be fire resistant too, because they’re both in one piece. Jo smiled at her one last time before disappearing, and Doreen waited outside of the bathroom. She felt awkward, just standing in the hallway, but it didn’t take Jo long to change.

“Are those even yours?” The Ironman tank is tight in some places and loose in others, and the button-up looks a little baggy on her.

“The tank is Tony’s, and the other shirt is Bruce’s. Why should I wear my clothes when I can have theirs?” Okay, she’s dating Bruce, so that makes sense.

“Why Tony though?” The question just slipped out, but Jo didn’t seem to mind the personal question.

“Tony and I have bonded during my employment as his bodyguard. I feel responsible for him, protective, and I love him. He’s my platonic life partner.” It’s all said with a dopey smile, and that’s actually really sweet. Doreen’s not a complete idiot though. Everyone knows that true bonding comes from the most fucked up of shit, so she’s pretty sure that Jo and Tony went through something pretty horrible together.

“You’re not in my head right now, are you?” They’re walking down a hallway, Doreen has no idea where they’re going, and she doesn’t want Jo to know what she just thought. Because it’s really none of her business. None of Doreen’s business, that is.

“No, I’m in Tony’s head. And Bruce’s. It’s a back and forth. Wanted to let them know I was gonna make them a sandwich.” Oh, and there’s the kitchen. Geeze, this place is like a maze. “I meant what I said. I am still learning control, but I’m going to do my best not to pick up any of your surface thoughts.”

“No, it’s cool, whatever. I was just curious,” she shrugged. Jo’s pulling stuff out, all the necessary things to make a sandwich, and she feels kinda useless. There’s four plates laid out. “Who are the other two for?”

“Reed and Sue. Bruce asked them for me. Do you want a sandwich?” The woman is waving a butter knife around, which should not be threatening. Not that Doreen feels threatened.

“No thanks.” She leaned against the counter and watched as Jo went about making sandwiches, and the other woman hummed lightly under her breath as she went about assembling.

“You wanted to talk about something, right?” Jo didn’t look over at her, but Doreen still skipped a breath. This is going to be no big deal. She can totally do this.

“Well, Tony’s pretty sure that I’ll get voted in. Him, Clint, and Thor already voted yes. They said Bruce probably would too?”

“You saved me and Tony, so Bruce will definitely vote for your induction into the Avengers. Steve will too, because he’s cool like that. Natasha is a wild card, but I have a feeling that you’ll be able to impress her.” It was said with another lopsided smile that showed off a dimple, and Doreen slumped against the counter a little in relief. “Real quick though, why do you want to join the Avengers? There’s other superhero teams out there, and there’s mutants and enhanced humans that help out on their own.”

“I’ve done a lot of stuff on my own, when I could. I just don’t want to always fight alone, you know? I want to have a team that will have my back, and I’ve looked into some of the other teams. The Avengers…I don’t know, you guys just seem more like a family than anything. You’re really there for each other. You even live together!”

“Good answer, but I’m not an Avenger. Just a mutant that happens to be Tony Stark’s bodyguard.”

“And Dr. Banner’s girlfriend.” That made the other woman blush a little, and that’s just too cute.

“Yeah, that too. Now, tell me what you wanna tell me.” Jo’s still making the monstrous sandwiches, so there’s no eye contact. It might be easier if there’s no eye contact.

“Well, Avenger or not, you all still live together. If I do become an Avenger and get to move in, I don’t want there to be any secrets or anything. Full disclosure, you know?” Jo hummed, which Doreen took as a cue to keep going. “I kinda dated Logan, but not really. There was some heavy flirting and maybe a little more, but the whole thing only lasted like two weeks. We decided it just wasn’t going to work and went our separate ways.”

“Huh.” Doreen doesn’t know if that’s a good response or not.

“It’s just, I know you two are really close. I mean, he’s got your graduation picture in his wallet. And a picture of you, him, and Rogue together in Tokyo. It’s pretty freakin’ adorable, since he comes off all growly most of the time, but I didn’t want you to think I was hiding—”

“Doreen, breathe.” Strong hands are on her shoulders, and she took in a slow deep breath.

“Sorry.” Jo smiled and lightly squeezed her shoulders before stepping back.

“Logan is an adult who is free to do whatever he wants. I’ve been bugging him for years to find someone and settle down, but he doesn’t have the best history with relationships. I’m glad that you were able to make him happy, if only for a little while.”

“How do you know I made him happy?”

“Because if you didn’t, I would’ve known. Anna Marie would have known. It wouldn’t have ended well.” Jo’s teasing her, she can tell by the tone of her voice, but she still shivered just a little.

“Nope, totally parted on friendly terms. We just didn’t…fit, you know?” Doreen really liked Logan too. He could be a real sweetheart under all the growling.

“Yeah, I know. Wanna help me carry these?”


“Tony, I swear to Thor that if you don’t look away from that thing in the next ten seconds, I will replace all of your shower products with the girliest smelling stuff I can find. I’m talking cotton candy here, Tony, you got me?” He blinked as he looked away from the cell blueprints he was working on and met Jo’s dark green eyes. He could see Bruce over his shoulder, dutifully eating a sandwich with a chastised look on his face.

“What did you threaten Bruce with?” he asked as she shoved a plate onto the table in front of him.

“You don’t wanna know,” was the cryptic answer. Bruce shook his head to back up the claim, and he smiled despite himself.

“Sounds kinky.”

“Bottles with unicorns on them,” Jo threatened.

“Okay, okay, I’m eatin’!” He took a giant bite of the sandwich to prove his point, and Jo smiled as she reached up to ruffle his hair. It’s grease-free for once, so her fingers actually moved through his hair without getting stuck. He can see Doreen farther out into the lab, talking to Reed and Sue, and the two of them have sandwiches too.

“You’re getting better at projecting,” Bruce said once half his sandwich was gone. Jo was spinning on a stool between the two of them, to keep an eye on their progress.

“Still a little quiet, but the distance is definitely getting better,” Tony agreed. Hearing Jo earlier had been a shock, because he normally only hears her voice in his head when they’re in the same room. She’s getting stronger, and that’s good.

“I think it’s just easier with you two.” He and Bruce shared a confused look, and Jo huffed at the both of them. “I’m in your heads the most, you know? I know your minds better than anyone else’s, so it’s easier to find you two.”

“Makes sense,” he said before taking another big bite. If he doesn’t finish the sandwich, she might actually shove the remainder down his throat. Jo has listened to his thoughts almost since the very beginning; she suffered through his nightmares and hallucinations during the worst of it, and she listens to the things that he can’t say out loud sometimes. As for Bruce, she first started practicing projecting her thoughts with him. He’s sure that other things have happened too, like her projecting her nightmares to Bruce and vice versa.

“I’ve still got a long way to go. I’ll probably never be as good as the Professor, but I know I can do better.” She looked back and forth between them, and Tony hooked his ankle around hers. Bruce is holding one of her hands, because his other hand is still holding the sandwich.

“You’ll make it,” Bruce said quietly.

“Because you’ve got us to help you,” Tony added. Jo grinned over at him, and they eased into silence as they finished eating.


The asset watched the target, noting her movements and her routine. She wakes up at six and goes for a run in the city. Two point six miles. A quick shower. Simple breakfast, toast and orange juice. Khaki pants and a red shirt, with a name tagged onto it. Not the target’s name. A different name. At work by eight. A cubicle, small confined space. Calls. A repeat of the same commands over and over. The target’s eyes (brown) glaze over. Lunch behind the building. Mixture of fruit. Eats alone. Isolated. Back to the cubicle. Leaves promptly at five. Returns to small apartment. Immediately changes. Loose fitting clothes. Moves in fluid movements around kitchen. Small dinner.

The target does everything alone. In complete isolation. Alone. Isolated.


“Alright, boys, bed time!” Her rough voice echoed in the lab, bounced back to her, and two pair of eyes turned towards her. She can already see the excuses cropping up in their genius brains, so she raised her hand in the air. “Nope. It’s two in the morning, and you’ve both been working since sunrise. Bath and bed. Now.”

“Party pooper,” Tony grumbled as he walked past her.

“See you after you tend to Tony?” Bruce asked as he stopped next to her.

“You know me so well. I showered earlier, because of all the sparring today, so you can go ahead without me. I’ll meet you in bed.”

“Sounds good to me.” Bruce pressed a quick kiss against her lips before walking off, and Jo turned her head to watch him go.

“You’re good with them. I wish I could get Reed out of the lab that easy.” The light tone was a little surprising, and Jo turned back around to look at Sue. No, the woman still has that cold look in her eyes, but it’s not as icy as usual.

“I mostly just threaten to literally carry them out of the lab. There’s something about being carried by a woman that a man’s ego just can’t handle,” Jo said with a small smile.

“Still, I’m impressed. And thank you, earlier, for the sandwiches. Sometimes we forget to do little things like eat.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed that’s a common trait amongst all you geniuses. Good luck getting Reed out of here.”

“Oh, I have my own threats to get Reed moving.” It was said with a quick wink, and Jo’s laugh was startled out of her. She likes it when Sue is sassy, in a fun way. She was still laughing quietly to herself as she reached the bedrooms, and she stepped into Tony’s first. She pulled off the gray sweatpants she was wearing (Bruce’s) and the black Metallica tee (Tony’s), so that she was just reduced down to a matching panty and sports bra set in hot pink.

“Ooh, do I get a back scrub tonight?” Tony’s already sitting in the bubble-filled tub, and Jo eased her legs over the side.

“You played nice today, so you get a reward.”

Tony’s hair was easier to wash than usual, because it’s not caked in grease, but she still spent most of her time just running her fingers through his hair. He did play nice today. He didn’t argue with Reed about a single thing, he was perfectly civil, and he managed not to offend anyone. Jo’s impressed. She can also feel how much he misses everyone else, because she misses them too. He showed her some footage from the mansion, and they both smiled at the only sleeping forms. Pepper was curled up in Tony’s bed, in one of his button-ups, and cuddling one of his giant silky pillows. Darcy was sprawled out across her bed, blankets twisted around her knees, and Jade was sleeping on the pillow next to her.

“Darcy’s been doing a real good job,” Jo said quietly. They’re both so peaceful right now that she doesn’t really want to ruin the mood.

“Yeah, Pep’s so happy to finally have someone that can keep up with her. Darcy’s being challenged, and she’s thriving.” Tony’s voice is quiet too, and Jo is just rubbing idle circles across the tops of his shoulders.

“They grow up so fast.” Tony reached up to grab her hand, and she moved the other one around so press against the arc reactor.

“I think our little girl is becoming a fine young woman. Which reminds me, do I need to have a talk with Clint? Because I am prepared to have a talk with bird boy.” He sounds like such an over protective father, and Jo snorted a little.

“I don’t think so, not yet. There might be something there, but neither one of them has accepted it yet. You don’t think they’re a good fit?” Not that it’s really their business, but they’re both protective over Darcy.

“I don’t want either of them hurt.”

“Yeah, me neither. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.”

“Fine. Now, let me up. Bruce is probably starting to feel abandoned,” Tony said and started to get up. Jo pulled her legs out of the tub, grabbed a towel for herself, and tossed another one to Tony. She dried off her legs and arms, and any other areas that got splashed, before pulling her pajamas back on. “You really don’t wear your own clothes anymore.”

“Yours are comfier.”

“Between you and Pepper, I’m gonna be running around naked.” She whistled, since he’s only wearing a towel right now, and he rolled his eyes at her.

“Hey, if you need anything, just call me,” she said and tapped her temple.

“You’re a good friend, sweetheart,” Tony said as he wrapped an arm around her head and pulled her to him. She wound up slumped against his side with her head mostly in his armpit. Eh, at least he’s clean.

“Only for you, boss. Now get some sleep.” She pushed away from him as she said it, and she caught the little smile on his face as she walked back towards the door. She paused in the doorway, closed her eyes, and thought as loudly as she could, “I love you!”

“Love you too,” Tony said with a mental laugh. That’s good enough for her. She slipped into her own bedroom right next door, and Bruce was propped up against the headboard reading. He smiled when he saw her, and she grinned back as she crawled over him to prop up against the headboard next to him.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Anything.” They’re turned so that they’re facing each other, and she doesn’t want to have any secrets from Bruce.

“The back scrubbing, is that…is it because of the hallucination? The one where you called me?” Ah, the Arctic Balls Incident. She tries not to think about that; she hates remembering the way Tony looked as he shook in the freezing cold water. How icy his skin had been as she clutched at him while their minds were set on fire.

“I don’t know, maybe. I guess it could be our way of moving past that. Hell, maybe it’s our way of honoring it. Because that night? That’s the night it really hit home for me, that I’d do anything for Tony Stark. That I’d do whatever was necessary to make sure that never happened again.”

“I remember that night. I’d had no idea that Tony was so broken.”

“Completely fucking shattered, but we built him back piece by piece.”

“We?” Bruce looks confused, because he doesn’t realize just how much he helped.

“Pepper was gone, Tony sent Happy away to watch after Pepper, Rhodey was busy doing damage control…You and I were all that Tony had, the only two people he spoke to for months. Clint and Natasha dropped by a few times, but it was just me and you while we were in Malibu. He needed you just as much as he needed me.” While Jo took care of Tony’s body and helped with the withdrawal, Bruce helped his mind. Kept him focused on the positive things, his science, and was just there to listen to him.

“I didn’t know that.” He still looks confused, and Jo scooted over until she could rest her head on his shoulder.

“We were both lucky to have you,” she whispered. Bruce’s arms came around her, and she felt him press a kiss against the top of her head. They were all a little broken, but they’re getting better. Stronger.


“Oh, shi—Sorry, I didn’t know anyone else was up here. I’ll just—”

“Nonsense! You are more than welcome to join me, Doreen.” She tightened her fingers in the fabric of the thick blanket wrapped around her and shuffled over to where Thor was sitting. He has his blanket laid out on top of the roof, and he’s just wearing sweatpants and a tee shirt. How is he not freezing?

“You sure I’m not bothering you?” she asked as she collapsed next to him. She’s wrapped up like a burrito, so sitting down like a normal person wasn’t exactly possible. She keeps forgetting how big Thor is. Sitting next to him now, it’s kinda hard to forget. He’s taller than her and broader, but his smile is like sunshine. You can’t be scared of a guy with a smile like that.

“I am quite sure.” He doesn’t even look a little bit cold, and he’s got his hair pulled back into this cool man-bun thing. “Did you want to seek the comfort of the stars?”

“Huh?” She’d been checking out his jawline, so she missed some of the words.

“Did you come to look at the stars?” He glanced her way before turning his gaze back to the sky, and Doreen tipped her head back to look overhead. Wow, the stars really are pretty. The sky looks endless.

“I don’t like being cooped up,” she shrugged. She likes modern comforts, like showers and sheets with high thread counts, but she likes being surrounded by nature too. It’s like a part of her. “Did you come out here to look up at the stars?”

“I was thinking of home,” was his quiet answer. Doreen managed to wiggle just enough to get an arm free, and she reached up to lightly pat the god’s shoulder. Yup, that’s solid muscle under there.

“Do you miss it? Home?” she asked as she pulled her arm back into the blanket. Ugh, it feels like her fingers got frostbite in just those few seconds.

“Sometimes.” The answer sounded…heavy. That doesn’t really make sense, but that’s how Doreen is describing that tone.

“Sounds complicated.” She knows about his brother, Loki. The guy and his alien army tried to take over the world, and they probably would have succeeded if it hadn’t been for the Avengers.

“It was simple, once. When I was younger.” Despite looking all jovial most of the time, it sounds like the god is carrying around some heavy baggage.

“I think everything is simpler when we’re younger. That’s what makes growing up so hard. We lose our innocence when we let go of ignorance.” Some crazy ol’ telepath told her that a few years ago, not Jo or the Professor. Some other woman, but the words have stuck with her.

“You are very wise, Lady Doreen.” She could feel heat rising into her cheeks despite the chill in the air, and she shrugged.

“I do what I can,” she said with a little smile. “Can you tell me about your home? Do you live in a big castle?”

“Yes, there is a palace.” Thor’s voice was warm and light as he talked about his home, and Doreen closed her eyes as she snuggled down into her blanket. Looks like she’s getting a bedtime story.
♠ ♠ ♠
There’s so much I want to address, but first things first. I could really use the help of my readers. I have a way to work Age of Ultron into this story, but the story can also continue without it. I already loved Vision and Wanda in Ultron, but Civil War really sealed the deal for me. I love their characters and how they interact with everyone else. So my question is: Do you, my lovely readers, want me to include the Age of Ultron storyline? It’ll be changed some, obviously, but it’ll bring in new characters. You can answer in a comment or send me a message. I’m currently writing ahead (shocking, I know) so I’d love to know everyone’s opinions!

Now, onto the real Ending Note! Feel free to skip this if you were completely satisfied with the chapter. First off, I really love the Jo/Bruce scenes. Things are gonna get crazy soon, there’s a lot of new characters coming in, but I will always love writing the one-on-one scenes. As for Deadpool, this is not the last of him! He’s going to be a recurring character. If there’s anything that anyone wants to see from him, just let me know! I’m open to suggestions, because I don’t have a set plan for his character. He’s just going to pop up at random times.

I’m doing so many Doreen perspectives so that we can get to know her character better, because she’s not going anywhere. (Also, not sure if I mentioned it, but I picture her as Anna Kendrick.) It’s also because I just really love Squirrel Girl, and I think she deserves more recognition.

We all know who the asset is, but let me live under the illusion that I’m being mysterious. As for the target, we know who that is too. So, yes, Skye/Daisy will be in the story. However, it’s not going to be the same Skye from AoS. I’m gonna try to stay true to her character, but I’ll ruin it now and tell you that I’m not doing the Inhuman storyline. This story is complicated enough as it is, but I really love Skye’s character so I wanted to bring her in. If there’s any questions later on, I’ll be happy to answer them!

One last thing: Jade is my favorite random character of all time. Pet chickens for the win!

PS: Is anyone actually reading this? If you are, I'll write a story for you. You can be the OC with any Avenger you want, or I'll write a little story for your favorite pairing. I'm just curious and want to see if anyone's actually reading.