Archaic Kinds of Fun

i trust you

Darcy was sitting at the girl’s bedside when two people entered the room, and she felt her eyes widen at the sight of them. The first man was wearing a suit, complete with a tie, and was completely covered in blue fur. Yep, blue fur. Everywhere. You’d think Darcy would be used to the unusual by now, but she hadn’t been expecting to see a blue guy. The man that came in after him was a few inches taller, and he somehow managed to look just as animalistic as the guy covered in blue fur. His dark brown hair stuck up on his head and moved down his face into thick sideburns, and his dark brown eyes quickly scanned the room. He was dressed in a pair of old jeans, heavy boots, a plain white shirt, and a black leather jacket.

“Dr. Hank McCoy,” the blue guy said and held a hand out towards Pepper.

“Pepper, and that’s Darcy.” She waved with her free hand, and both men tracked the movement. Okay, if the blue guy is the doctor, then the other guy has to be Logan. That’s Jo’s father, somewhat.

“Do you have an X-Ray? MRI? We need to check for internal damage.”

“Of course, right this way.” Darcy had to shake her hand to get it free, but it looked like the girl was completely out of it. The doctor and Pepper wheeled the bed out of the room, and Darcy slowly looked up at the last person left in the room. Wow, he is not a nice looking guy. Not like that. He’s attractive, in a scruffy way, but he doesn’t look all that friendly.

“Darcy, right?” Yeah, that’s the same deep voice from the phone call earlier. She sat up a little straighter in her chair and squared her shoulders, because she’s heard stories about this man. This mutant.

“That’s me, and you’re Logan.” One side of his lip twitched, but she wasn’t sure if he was trying to smile or fighting off annoyance.

“Got any food in this place?” There could be some girl dying in their basement facility, and he’s hungry? “Don’t give me that look, kid. There ain’t nothing me or you can do for that girl. Sittin’ down here worryin’ about it ain’t gonna help anyone.”

“Well, when you put it like that, eating sounds logical. Right this way.” She forced her legs to hold her weight, and she felt Logan’s presence behind her all the way to the elevator. It wasn’t menacing or anything like that; the older mutant just had a presence that demanded to be felt. The elevator ride was quiet, and Logan didn’t react at all to the size of the foyer.

“It’s just you and the redhead here?” The question startled her a little, and she paused in fixing a plate for him. What? She can be a good hostess.

“For right now, yeah.” She dished out the chicken and rice, and Logan grunted a thanks when she placed it in front of him. She made a plate for herself, with a smaller portion, and stayed standing on the other side of the bar.

“You’re not worried it’s a trap? Real convenient timing.” Steve and Natasha are in DC, which isn’t too far but still far enough to be ineffective. All of the others are in Greenland. Or maybe London.

“A trap wouldn’t make any sense. It’s just me and Pepper. Don’t get me wrong, we’re awesome and everything, but we’re not really important,” Darcy shrugged. She pushed her rice around before finally giving in and popping some chicken into her mouth.

“The CEO of Stark Industries isn’t important? You’re also perfect hostages.” When Darcy narrowed her eyes, he raised a brow at her. “CEO and…fiancée, right? As for you, you’re important to all of them.”

“How do you…?” She wasn’t even sure what she was trying to ask, but Logan knew the answer anyway.

“Jo doesn’t call much, but she loves to text. I know she cares about you, just like I know Stark and the alien care about you too.”

“He’s a god, not an alien,” she pointed out on autopilot. Huh, Jo really must text him a lot for him to pick up on all that.

“If you were a little younger, or if Jo was a little older, I think she’d think of you as a daughter.” Jo calls her “kid” and ruffles her hair. Sometimes she brings Darcy snacks, and she’s been teaching her how to dance. Whenever Darcy has a question or worry, she goes to Jo.

“Sometimes I think she does. Her and Tony, they’re weird, but I like our little weird family.” Logan made another grunting noise, so she’s gonna assume that he’s a man of few words. They ate in silence from there on out, and Darcy took her time washing the dishes. She was a little surprised when Logan joined her to rinse the dishes and put them away, but she didn’t complain. Once the dishes were done and the leftovers were in the fridge, Darcy looked around the kitchen for something else to do. She was so spaced out that she nearly jumped out of her skin when a hand landed on her shoulder.

“Get some rest, kid. There’s nothing else for you to do tonight.” This guy doesn’t know the first thing about her, but she doesn’t really feel like arguing with him. Logically, she knows that it’s early, but her body is exhausted. Probably from the adrenaline rush. Now she’s crashing.

“Tell Pepper I’ll be in my room if she needs me.” Logan nodded and walked off, and Darcy lightly shook her head to clear it. She grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge, took a slow sip, and then turned to leave the kitchen.

Once she was in her room, she let everything she’d been holding in out. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she remembered holding the girl’s hand as the nails were removed, and she fell onto her bed without even bothering to change. Her knees pulled up to her chest as she pushed her face into her pillow, and she cried for the girl whose name she didn’t even know. She doesn’t know her, but no one deserves that. As her tears started to slow, she felt something soft brush against her arm. She sniffled and raised her head, and a beak lightly nudged against her nose.

“Sorry, Jade, I didn’t mean to scare you.” She scooted around and lifted her arm, and the chicken settled herself against Darcy’s stomach. Darcy reached down to lightly pet the dark feathers, and she let her eyes close as she cuddled up to the chicken. It’s been a long day, and she’s going to take comfort wherever she can get it.


All of the hostages were retrieved without injury, and the STRIKE force was whole. Steve completed his mission, and so did Natasha. He doesn’t like the idea of separate missions, not when they’re being kept from him. They’re supposed to be a team. There’s nothing he can do about it now though. He’ll talk to Fury tomorrow.



He sent the message with a sigh and pushed the phone back into his front pocket. For over twenty years, he’s been looking out for Jo Holbrook. She’d been two the first time she saw him; she’d toddled right up to him on her unsteady legs and latched onto his knee with a grip strong enough that he thought he might actually bruise. The only reason he wound up staying the night was because her mother, Camille, couldn’t pry the little thing off of him. He slept on the couch that night, with little Jo still attached to his leg. When he tried to leave the next day, she cried and wrapped herself completely around his legs. Her arms locked under his knees, her legs had locked around his ankles, and her bottom had sat firmly on top of his feet.

Jo might not be his biological daughter, but he loves her as if she is. He might not say it enough, but he knows that she knows. No matter what happens, Jo will always be his little girl. Even after what those bastards at ROSE did to her, she’s still his Jo. Still the same little girl that refused to let him live a life alone. So when someone that she cares about asks for his help, he’s gonna help. He doesn’t know Darcy Lewis, but he does know that Jo’s got a fierce love for the girl. He can almost see why. Despite the weird situation she’s in, she’s handling it with a cool head. That’s better than most people.

The AI system, JARVIS, told him that there were spare rooms for him and Hank to use. Hank was still busy with Jane Doe, who was currently unconscious and being prepped for surgery, so Logan got his bag from the jet and followed JARVIS’s instructions to the third floor. Where the guest rooms were. The elevator opened up into what looked like a living room, complete with couches and a big TV. Three doors on the left and three doors on the right. The last door on the right was wide open with light spilling out of it, but all of the other doors were closed. With a shrug, he walked over to the open door and looked inside.

The girl, Darcy, was curled up on top of the blankets. The neat bun her dark hair had been was completely unraveled, and it looked like she had tear tracks on her cheeks. Holding it together until she’s alone? Definitely just like his little Jo. He called the girl’s name, quietly at first and then louder, but she didn’t budge a bit. A heavy sleeper, great. He dropped his bags and moved into the room, and the girl didn’t make a sound as he picked her up. He eyed the chicken that was lying on the bed, and the chicken looked back at him before moving up onto one of the free pillows. Logan pulled the blankets back and laid the girl back down, and the chicken waited until he’d pulled the blanket up over her shoulders before moving back down to rest in the curve of her body. Just what kind of weird shit happens here?

“Jo’s dating Hulk and has adopted a girl with a pet chicken. Anna Marie might be the normal one after all,” he grumbled to himself as he closed the girl’s door.

He took the first door on the left, and he dropped his bags at the foot of the bed. It only took a few minutes to strip down and get ready for bed, and he’d just turned the light off when his phone buzzed. He groped blindly until he found the thing on the night table, and the light from the screen was nearly enough to blind him. It was a text, from Jo.

Talking my way out of jail. Will call asap

As soon as she gets back, they’re having a really long talk about her life choices.


“The cops aren’t happy, but I talked them out of arresting all of you. But we need to go. Now,” Tony said. Johnny and Thor were able to get all of the new prisoners onto Tony’s jet, which was definitely parked illegally in the street in front of the club they’d been dancing at, and Jo glanced over her shoulder at the cops. So many flashing lights…some from the cop cars and others from cameras. Yeah, they should really get gone.

“Sounds like a plan to me! Let’s vamoose!” Doreen yelled and started skipping towards the jet. Thor gave her a small boost into the jet, and Jo followed Ben inside. Bruce was securing all the prisoners, and Tony was the last one inside. Clint was already at the controls, to get them in the air, and Jo collapsed into the seat between Tony and Bruce.

“So, one minute I’m leading this epic train and the next—” Jo tuned out as Johnny explained the night’s events, and she let out a yawn as she dropped her head onto Bruce’s shoulder. Her right hand was gripping Tony’s, and the fingers of her left hand were laced with Bruce’s. The two of them really ground her, and she could really use that right now. Getting into Ben’s head hadn’t been easy, and she’s still carrying a bit of a headache from flexing her telepathic muscles. (It sounds weird, but she doesn’t know how else to explain it.)

She dozed a bit on the ride, and she didn’t wake up until Bruce gently shook her shoulder. She let him pull her up, and her eyes widened a little as people came inside to get the unconscious prisoners. Good riddance, Frightful Four. Her, Bruce, and Tony were the last ones off the jet. They were also the last ones inside the house, and they were immediately met by Reed and Sue. Both of them looked wide-eyed and worried, and that’s never a good thing. Jo straightened up at the out of place looks, and she felt Tony reach for her hand.

“What happened?” Earlier, before Tony and Bruce arrived, she got a text from Logan. That’s not too unusual, they text a lot, but it was in all caps. It’s a little uncharacteristic for him, but he would have said if something was bad wrong. Right?

“Come to the lab. You can talk to Pepper there.” Tony was right behind Reed, and she kept close to Tony’s back. Since Bruce was still holding her hand, he was pulled right along with her. She could hear Clint, Thor, and Doreen behind them too. When they reached the lab, there was a giant projection in the middle of the room.

“Tony! I’ve been trying to reach you for the past two hours!” Pepper didn’t have a single hair out of place, but she still looked a little frazzled.

“Did something happen? Is Darcy okay?” Pepper’s in a mostly white room, which has to be the med facility.

“No, no, Darcy is fine. We’re both fine. Tony, someone left a girl at the front gate. She was badly injured, and there was a note.” Pepper looked around her, and Jo noticed the way that her whole face seemed to pale and tighten as she found what she was looking for. She held up the bloody sheet of paper, and Jo’s eyes flicked over the words. Viper, of course. Should have killed her when she had the chance.

“Is she alive?” Tony’s voice was quiet, and Jo reached forward to rest a hand on his shoulder.

“The girl is alive. Darcy mentioned taking her to a hospital, but she said it wasn’t safe. She’s been running from someone shooting at her all day, until Viper caught her a little before sundown. She was knocked out, and when she came to…” Pepper paused and pressed a hand to her stomach before continuing. “When she came to, Viper was nailing that paper to her stomach. All she knows is that she was in a van, and she was tossed out at the gate. We couldn’t take her to a hospital, and I didn’t know who else to trust so we called Logan.”

“Logan’s there?” She could feel eyes on her, but she kept her eyes locked on Pepper.

“Yes, along with Dr. Hank McCoy. She had a broken rib that punctured a lung, but Dr. McCoy was able to repair her lung. As for the gunshots, he did the best he could. Tony, I don’t know who she is or why she was targeted, but someone wants her here. And they went through a lot of trouble to make sure of it.” Gunshots? A punctured lung?

“Fuckin’ Viper,” Jo heard herself growl. She felt a strong hand gripping her shoulder, and she looked over to see Clint standing next to her. He’s had a few run-ins with the woman as well, so he can understand her anger.

“What do you want me to do?” Pepper asked.

“Someone left her on our doorstep. If we send her to a hospital, what’s going to stop Viper from doing something even worse?” Jo listened to Tony’s thoughts and really thought them over, and she slowly nodded.

“Agreed. She should stay at the mansion until we know more.”

“Have JARVIS run her prints and DNA. Once she’s awake, try to find out more. We’ll be back in a few days, and we’ll sort this out,” Tony said and lightly squeezed her hand before letting go.

“Let’s give them some privacy, hmm?” Reed asked and led them out of the lab. Jo waved to the others, and she let Bruce lead them to their room. After a quick shower, that was just a shower, they fell into bed.

“Do you think it’s a trap or distraction of some kind?” Bruce’s voice was quiet in the dark room, and Jo cuddled up to him just a bit more.

“Maybe, but Viper rarely does anything without a reason. We’ll know more once we know who the girl is.” She was a little comforted by the fact that Logan and Hank were there. Logan’s tough, and he’ll keep Darcy and Pepper safe. As for Hank, he’s a genius and one hell of a fighter.


“Tsk, tsk, Tony.” The words sounded nearly playful, and he looked around the dark space for the source of the voice. It’s not Jo’s deep rumble, Darcy’s sleepy voice, or Pepper’s soft tone. It’s not even Natasha’s playful command or Maria’s direct order.

“Isn’t the fire so pretty at this time of night?” The shadows pulled back and lightened, and he’s standing across the street from the mansion. The road is missing; there’s a pit where the road should be, and he can see the tops of the flames. It’s like a literal hell in the middle of the street. He can hear screaming coming from down below, in the fires.

“Who’s in there?” He still can’t see who he’s talking to, and he can’t move.

“Pepper was ready to take the plunge.” The unknown woman laughed at her pun, and Tony was able to drop to his knees and crawl to the edge of the pit. He can’t reach inside, but he can hear the screams.

“Bring her back!” He’s yelling at darkness, but he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her out of the fire.

“Sorry, Tony, I’ve moved onto another project. I think this one might be my masterpiece. What do you think?” The world around him lightened just enough for him to see the front gate of the mansion, and Darcy is pinned to it. There’s blood smeared across her forehead, like she’s been shot in the head. She healed from that though. A woman appeared next to Darcy’s body, and he knows her. He’s only seen pictures and videos, but he knows her.


“Ding-ding-ding!” Darcy’s body slowly slid down the gate until she was slumped against the ground, and she’s not moving anymore. “Kids these days. No manners at all. Can’t even sit up straight.”

“Don’t touch her!” Viper pushed up Darcy until she was sitting up straight, but her eyes are closed. She’s wearing a plain white tee shirt, which isn’t like Darcy at all, and his name is scrawled across her shirt.

“Why? It’s too late for her. This is what your love does, Tony. It destroys.” Jo walked up to Darcy’s other side, and she’s covered in blood and bruises. Her green tank top is faded to a pale green in some places and darker from blood in others, and the bright pink boxer panties are mostly maroon now. Bruises cover her face, arms, chest, and legs. Blood is pouring from a crooked nose and trickling over split lips. There’s a ring of bruises around her throat.

“It’s okay, Tony. You don’t have to save me. I’m fine.” Blood pours from her lips as she talks, and he watched as her cheek ignited. Skin and muscle disappeared under the fire, and she won’t stop smiling!

“Not like this. Not like this.” Pepper is screaming in the fire, Darcy won’t open her eyes, and Jo’s not healing.

“Tony.” A hand, with thin fingers, gently gripped his shoulder. She smells like evergreen and ashes. “You should set them free. You should—”

“You should shut your fuckin’ mouth before I rip your tongue out through your teeth.” That growl is all Jo, but it’s not the Jo standing next to Darcy’s body. This is his Jo. She’s wearing his shiny black Darth Vader boxers and his black Iron Maiden tee shirt. Her braid is hanging over her left shoulder, and her eyes are nearly black as she bares her teeth at Viper. Viper, who is still standing behind him and gripping his shoulder.

“You shouldn’t be here!” Viper’s fingers curl so that her nails cut into his shoulder, and none of this is making sense.

“You’re one to talk! I don’t know how you managed it, but you better get the fuck out right now! I already owe you for Darcy. You really wanna piss me off some more? It’s only a matter of time before we find you, Viper.” The world around him is shimmering, like a mirage, and he can’t hear screaming anymore.

“You’re getting stronger, Holbrook.” The nails were removed from his skin, and he turned his head to look up at the woman. Her green eyes flickered with madness, and she ran her tongue over her teeth as she looked Jo over.

“I said, GET OUT!” The dream shattered all around him, and he felt Jo’s hands running over his neck and arms. As if making sure he was okay again. He can’t see anything anymore. Just Jo. “C’mon, Tony, it’s time to wake up.”

“What the hell was that?!” He’s sitting straight up in bed, and he turned his head to see two different pairs of eyes watching him. Jo, who had apparently been straddling him, was now sitting in the vee of his spread legs. Bruce was sitting on the edge of the bed and had a hand braced against Tony’s shoulder. Jo reached up to run her fingers through his hair, and he reached out to pull her to him.

“I don’t know how the bitch managed to pull it off, but Viper got in your head. It’s not one of her specialties, so I’m betting she’s got some little helpers. Powerful little helpers,” Jo whispered quickly. She’s on her knees so that his face pressed against her chest and neck, her arms are wrapped tightly around him with her hands buried in his hair, and he can feel Bruce rubbing circles on his back because he’s still shaking.

“Viper was in my dream.” It wasn’t a question, because that was different. He’s never had a nightmare quite like that before. Most of his nightmares are just memories.

“Yeah. I was asleep too, but I could feel you. You were scared, panicking. When I realized what was happening, I grabbed Bruce and got in here as fast as I could. Bruce had to hold you down so that I could get in your head.” He’d been fighting to move in his dream, but he’d felt stuck. Maybe that’s why?

“Thanks, both of you.”

“Anytime,” Jo said immediately.

“Whenever you need us,” Bruce added.

“Now, I am completely exhausted. Who knew dream fighting could wear you down?” Jo slipped off of him, and Tony waited for them to leave. Then again, he should be used to Jo doing the opposite of what he expects. Jo moved so that she was between Tony and Bruce, and she grabbed the back of Tony’s neck to drag him down next to her. He wound up with his face against her stomach, and he felt one of her hands in his hair.

“I thought we swore this would never happen again?” Tony asked once he was comfortable.

“Special circumstances,” Jo slurred, like she was already asleep. Bruce had moved down just enough that his head was resting on her chest, and both men had their legs wrapped around hers.

“We’ll add a clause to the contract,” Bruce managed to get out between yawns. This is a weird situation, but after that nightmare? He’s completely okay with it.


“Oh, hey, Thor. Lookin’ at the stars again?” Doreen shuffled forwards, an inch at a time, because she’s wrapped up in her blanket like a toasty burrito. Thor was already sitting on the roof, no blanket in sight, and he’s just in a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. Definitely a god.

“Yes. I am afraid that sleep has evaded me thus far.” He talks a little different sometimes, but Doreen likes it. Adds to the whole god image.

“Yeah, same here. I don’t know if it’s the fight at the club or something else, but I just can’t seem to sleep. Are you worried about your friend?”

She’s picked up a few things over the past couple of days, like about the missing members of the team. Natasha sounds kinda scary, but Doreen already has a little bit of hero worship going on for the female assassin. Steve sounds like everything she ever imagined and more, and she’s just praying that she doesn’t stutter or pass out when she meets him. Then there’s the non-combatants. Pepper runs Stark Industries, and she’s recently engaged to Tony. Last, there’s Darcy. The team, plus the girl herself, just recently learned that she’s a mutant. From what she’s been able to pick up, Thor and Darcy are close. Something big obviously went down back at Avengers HQ, so it would make sense for the big guy to be worried.

“Darcy is very strong, but she has a caring heart. I worry that she will hurt herself trying to help another.” Well, this Darcy character sounds like a really good person. Doreen was able to extract her right arm out of her blanket, and she braved the chill of the air to place a hand on Thor’s forearm.

“The mutant that’s there with her, Logan, will make sure that she stays safe. He’s a little rough around the edges, but he’s a good man.” She’s only heard about Hank McCoy in passing, and it’s been all good things. She actually knows Logan though, and she wants to put Thor’s mind at ease.

“He is the one who raised Jo?” Thor’s large hand reached out to cover hers, which was a good idea since her fingers were turning blue.

“Not from the beginning, I don’t think. He was a little vague on that part, but he had a picture of her when she was really little. Like, three or four? And I know he’ll look after Darcy and Pepper. Because he’s a good guy at heart, and he’ll do it because he loves Jo.” Logan was…Logan’s a complicated man. Which isn’t that surprising, considering all the shit he’s been through. When he talks about Jo and Anna Marie though? That’s pure love.

“I only wish for Darcy to be safe.” It’s a little strange. When she thought of Thor, she thought of this all-powerful force. Thought of power that would shake the earth and leave sparks in the air. She wasn’t completely wrong. Thor’s strong, for sure, but he’s also really gentle.

“How did you meet Darcy?” Thor’s holding her right hand in both of his, almost like an afterthought, and she didn’t even think about pulling away. He’s warmer than her blanket.

“To tell that story, I must tell another story.” His words sounded heavy, and she scooted forward. Maybe it’s the adrenaline crash or the lack of sleep, but something made her scoot over so that she could rest her head on his bicep. She can’t exactly reach his shoulder. Her body is pressed against his ribcage though, and she can feel the heat of him through her thick blanket.

“That’s okay. I like stories.”

September 6, 2014

“Say cheese!” Jo lazily opened an eye at the loud yell and immediately regretted it when a bright flash of light nearly blinded her. Tony grumbled something against the skin of her stomach, and Bruce was snoring against the side of her neck. Right, Viper managed to hack into Tony’s dream. They gotta figure out how she did that and make sure that she can’t do it again. Her thought process was cut off at the sound of light giggling, and she forced her eyes to open again. Clint and Doreen were standing in the doorway of Tony’s bedroom, Clint was holding his phone up, and Doreen was the one quietly giggling.

“What’s up?” Jo yawned.

“Just taking some pictures for Darcy.” Clint snapped off another picture, and Jo twisted around until she found the alarm clock. She tossed it in Clint’s general direction, and she managed to hit him square in the stomach. Two points for the mutant!

“Just wait until I catch you in one of your nests. I’mma make a calendar for Darcy,” she groaned and snuggled back down. Tony and Bruce were covering her like living blankets, and she feels so warm and relaxed. It’s probably dangerous to feel this relaxed, considering everything that’s been happening, but she wants to enjoy it for just a moment longer.

“So, um, apparently Thor is making pancakes? Clint swears that they’re worth dying for, but—”

“Alright, boys, time to wake up! You heard the lady! Thor’s making pancakes!” Jo was able to get Bruce and Tony vertical, and they took turns getting ready for the day. They’ve got a lot to talk about, and a lot to figure out. It’s gonna be a long day.


Steve left the Triskelion with a bad taste in his mouth and the sour feeling of worry in his gut. Project Insight. It’s a mistake. Fury said that Tony even helped with making the new hellicarriers, but did Tony realize exactly what he was working on? Tony made the decision to stay away from weapon manufacturing, and that’s just what Project Insight is. Even if no one is willing to admit it. He could call Tony, talk it out with him, but he doesn’t feel safe. Tony and the others should be back soon. He’ll ask him then, and they’ll figure this out together.


“Grrgl.” Darcy dropped the book she was reading, one of Jo’s trashy romance novels, and leaned forward in her chair. The girl was awake and looking around the room with wide eyes.

“Hold on, I’ll get you some water. JARVIS, can you tell Dr. McCoy that his patient is awake?”

“Right away, miss.” Darcy scrambled to put some water in a Styrofoam cup, and she snagged a straw too. The girl watched her with dark eyes as she slowly sipped from the straw, and Darcy didn’t pull back until she waved her hand. She set the cup on the table next to the bed and slowly sat back in her chair.

“I don’t know if you remember, but my name is Darcy.” She noticed that the girl was looking around the room, which looked exactly like every other hospital room. “You’re not in a hospital though. You’re safe here.”

“Skye. Bennet.” Progress!

“Nice to meet you, Skye. Sorry about the circumstances.” Darcy remembers what it was like to be perfectly normal. Then one day a god fell from the sky and everything changed. It’s jarring and unsettling, so this girl is probably feeling completely out of place. Darcy’s plan is to do whatever she can to make all of this easier for her.

“The woman, the one who left me here, who is she?” Man, Darcy would give anything for Jo to be here right now. Darcy’s a generally trusting person, especially when that person is as hurt as this girl, but she’s learned that looks can be deceiving. They talked it over this morning, and they decided not to tell Skye anything until Jo was back to read her mind. It was the only way to stay safe.

“A very bad woman, but you don’t have to worry about her now. Just let the doctor look you over, okay?” Darcy stood up as Hank walked into the room, and Skye’s eyes widened so much that Darcy could see the whites of her eyes all the way around. “You can trust him.”

“How’s she doing?” Pepper asked as soon as Darcy stepped out the door. She could hear Hank’s deep voice through the door, not the words, but it was a calming sound.

“She told me her name, and she looked confused. What’d JARVIS find?” The AI had more than enough DNA to work with, and Pepper’s pretty good in the lab.

“Nothing unusual. No record of her birth parents. She was named by her first foster parents, but she didn’t stay there long. Moved from foster home to foster home until she was eighteen. Double majored in computer science and engineering. Currently works at Tel-Am, in the call center. No criminal record. She’s completely clean.” Huh, sounded a lot like Darcy’s own background. She could sympathize with all the foster homes, and it looks like they had the same idea when it came to college. Do as much as possible to get ahead in life, and then they both got stuck at sucky jobs. She really is just a normal girl.

“We’ll know more when the others get here, right?” Darcy heard herself ask. She hates being paranoid, but she lives with the Avengers. There’s always going to be someone out to get them.


“He failed in his last mission.” Rumlow ducked his head at the glare trained on him, but he wasn’t about to take the words back. The asset was given a job, and he failed. An outsider was forced to come in and finish the job.

“But he will not fail in this one, will you?” The gray eyes that stared from above the black mask were clear and empty.

“I will not fail.” The words were muffled, but he was heard.

“I want Nick Fury dead before sunrise.” The asset didn’t say anything, but he didn’t need to. He knew what his punishment would be if he failed again, and Alexander Pierce was confident that the asset would not fail.


“Thank you again, Professor, for letting Dr. McCoy and Logan help out at the mansion,” Jo said to start with. Thor’s pancakes were long gone, and it was time to get down to business. Reed and Sue let them have the lab for this little conference, and Jo felt a little odd at being in the center. Bruce and Tony were on either side of her, Clint was sitting on a table off to the left, Doreen was next to Tony, and Thor was standing behind them.

“You are and always will be one of us, Josephine.” She ducked her head at that and tried not to feel ashamed. Xavier’s was her home once, but it’s been so long since she’s been back. “Now, tell me the real reason why you have called.”

“Well, last night…” She gave a brief description of Tony’s nightmare, there’s no need to air his dirty laundry, and she told the Professor that she was able to force Viper out. “My main worry is how she’s doing it, because I know she doesn’t have that ability. What if it happens again? Or to one of the other’s? I can’t keep an eye on everyone’s dreams.”

“Wearing a helmet would be counterproductive as well. If they called for help, you would be unable to hear them.”

“That’s my current dilemma, yeah.” She propped her elbows on her knees and watched the way that the Professor looked at everyone in the room. She knows there’s no way he can hear them at this distance, but the Professor has always been good at reading people.

“There may be a way, but it could be dangerous for you. You have only just recently begun to accept your telepathy.”

“Whatever it is, I’ll do it. They’re not just my team, Professor. They’re family, you know?” The Professor smiled, something small and a little painful, and Jo felt her spine tingle.

“That might make it easier, but it is very invasive. For everyone involved.” He looked around at everyone in the room, and Jo felt like her jaw was gonna snap because she was grinding her teeth so hard.

“Just give it to us straight, sir,” Clint drawled. At least he put a sir at the end.

“If Jo were to create a mental link with each of you, it would be able to stop any other mental invasions. Jo would even be able to feel it if someone else attempted to enter your mind. There’s also the added bonus of being able to communicate at any time, no matter the distance. To establish the link, your minds must completely come together. When it is over, there will be no secrets between the two of you.”

“Will Jo be able to get into our minds whenever she wants?” Clint asked.

“No. If anything, it will be easier for you to block her. Once the link is established, you have equal control. She can only enter your mind with permission, because the link creates a block. No one will be able to get into your minds without your knowledge.”

“I will allow Jo to create this…link between our minds.” Jo turned completely around in her chair to look up at Thor, because she was not expecting for him to be the first to agree. He must have noticed the confused look on her face, because he smiled and placed a hand on her shoulder. “I trust you, Jo. I know you will not use your knowledge of my past against me, and I trust you to keep my confidentiality.”

“Having a mind block could be really useful too. Make sure that no one else can sneak in,” Clint said and rubbed the back of his neck. Oh, wow, that’s really big for her friend. She knows that what Loki did really messed him up, but he’s going to trust her.

“Sounds like one of the easier initiations to me,” Doreen said and grinned over at her.

“You’ve already seen the worst parts of me, sweetheart.”

“Hulk and I trust you, completely.” Jo had to blink rapidly to keep any of her tears from spilling out, and she sucked in a deep breath before turning back to look at the Professor.

“Alright, sir, so just how do I do this?”


The asset stood in the middle of the street and watched his target come closer. This time, he will not fail. He cannot fail. No matter what it takes, he will complete his mission.
♠ ♠ ♠
Logan/Wolverine is finally, physically, in the story! He’s one of my favorites, so I’m happy to have him around. The other mutant is Dr. Hank McCoy, also known as Beast. He’s tall, blue, furry, and really smart.

The first Steve scene is right after the opening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Yep, it’s finally time for TWS events! Who’s excited and ready to cry?! Because I am! The ending scene is right before the Winter Soldier shoots at Fury’s car.

As for the mental links, they’ve been planned since the very beginning. Many things about this story have changed from the original plan, but that’s something that was always going to happen. So it might seem random, but I promise you that it’s not. There is an actual plot to this story, and the mental links are a big part of it. (At some point, I’m going back to the fluff. I really do miss writing the fun and fluffy scenes.)