Archaic Kinds of Fun


September 11, 2014

Doreen sat up a little straighter at the quiet knock, and she shuffled her feet as she made her way over to the door. She’s exhausted, but she didn’t want to sleep while looking over Darcy and Jo. She’d cleaned up Darcy and put the girl in some of Jo’s clothes, and she’d carefully washed all the blood off her skin. She doesn’t really know Darcy, but she saw the girl in Jo’s memories and Thor’s told her stories. She knows that Darcy is a strong and sweet young woman, and Doreen really hopes that she can’t remember what Viper did with her body.

“Oh, hey, Thor,” she said between yawns. The god was standing on the other side of the door, and he looked dressed for the day. Jeans and a plain white tee shirt, but his feet were bare. His hair was also put back into a neat little bun, which is something that Darcy taught him how to do.

“How are they?” She gestured for him to come inside, and she shuffled back towards Jo’s bed. The two women were stretched out across it, still unconscious, and Doreen climbed up on the bed next to Jo’s side. Thor moved around the bed to sit next to Darcy, and he gently smoothed some dark hair away from her face.

“They’ve been completely still, but I think the mental link worked. They should wake up soon,” she said and continued to watch them. Bruce stopped by, maybe a couple of hours ago, to check on them. The way he looked at Jo was sweet, even when he was clearly worried about her and Darcy. Tony came in a few minutes later, and he took turns kissing them on the forehead before walking out. This team really is like a family, which is why she knows they’ll pull through this.

“I hope Darcy has no memory of last night,” Thor said quietly.

“Yeah, me too. How is Skye?”

“Unconscious but healed.” It’s a weird situation, but it’s a familiar one. It’s the same thing that happened to Darcy. Is that what the two scientists are checking on? Do they think that Skye had a repressed mutant gene too? It’s rare, but it happens.

“This whole situation is just weird,” Doreen huffed. She’s never liked the sneaky types, and that’s exactly what kind of person Viper is. She can’t fight them head-on, so she’s using underhanded methods to mess with them.

“What the—Who the—Thor?” Darcy was looking around the room in confusion, and Doreen saw the moment that recognition dawned in her pretty blue eyes. Her lips began to tremble, and she raised her hands up to her cheeks. “I shot…I shot…I shot Skye!”

“It was not you, Darcy.” At Darcy’s loud cry, Jo shot up with her fists up. That’s interesting. Darcy was already crying against Thor’s chest, and the god had his arms wrapped around her back. He was lightly rocking her back and forth, and Doreen could hear him murmuring into her hair. Jo leaned forward and pressed her forehead against Darcy’s back, right between her shoulder blades, and Doreen could barely hear Jo when she spoke.

“What happened was Viper’s fault. Skye knows that. She’s also going to be just fine, okay?” Darcy flapped a hand behind her until Jo grabbed it, and Jo pressed her lips to Darcy’s palm.

“All your memories, I saw everything. You saw everything.” Darcy’s voice sounded wrecked, so much so that she almost sounded like Jo.

“I had to create a link to get Viper out. She’ll never hurt you like that again. I promise you, Darcy.” Darcy sobbed something out, which might have been a thank-you, and Jo leaned up to press a kiss against the back of Darcy’s head. “Stay here with Thor and rest. I’ll come get you when I know more.”

“Thank you, Jo, Doreen.” Jo nodded at Thor, and Doreen waved to him as she followed Jo out of the room. Once the bedroom door was closed behind them, Jo sighed and crossed her arms. She’s still in her pajamas, which look like Tony’s pajamas, but her eyes are clear.

“Thanks for everything, Doreen. Go get some rest, okay?”

“Come get me if you need me.” Jo nodded and smiled at her, and Doreen made her way back to the third floor. It was mostly empty, except for one lone mutant sitting on one of the couches. Instead of moving over to her room, she collapsed onto the couch next to him and kicked her feet up on the coffee table.

“Jo and Darcy?” His voice was just as gruff as always, but she didn’t tease him because it was a very long night.

“Jo’s okay. She’s going to check in with the scientists now. At least, I’m assuming that’s what she’s doing. Darcy’s with Thor.” Listening to the girl cry had made her heart hurt, so she can’t imagine what it was like for Thor to hear her cry.

“Darcy, she’s a good kid,” Logan said after a beat of silence. That’s high praise coming from him.

“Yeah, she is. I can see why Jo cares about her as much as she does,” Doreen said and placed a hand on Logan’s shoulder. He looked over at her, and she lightly squeezed his shoulder before getting to her feet. “Everything’s going to be fine, so stop worrying before that wrinkle between your eyes becomes permanent.”

“Don’t remember asking for your opinion,” he grumbled out.

“Just be happy I’m not charging you for it.” She called out a goodnight before walking away, and she collapsed against her bed a moment later. She’s still in her pajamas from last night, so she wiggled around until she was under the covers. She was asleep in minutes.


“Alright, boys, what do we know?” Bruce and Tony both jumped before turning to look at her, and Jo propped her fists on her hips. What happened last night never should have happened, but there’s no going back. The only thing they can do now is figure out just what the hell happened.

“We know…everything,” Bruce said and carefully met her eyes. He’s wringing his hands, and that’s something he only does when he’s nervous.

“Jo, I need you to get Darcy and Skye in here. Logan too.” She tilted her head at that and thought about knocking on Tony’s door to figure out what he knows, but she can be patient.

“I can do that. Will the explanation take long? I need to protect Sam, Pepper, and Natasha as soon as possible.” Viper got to Darcy last night, so Jo’s thinking that she can only get into someone’s mind when they’re unconscious. She doesn’t want to give Viper any more chances to hurt them.

“Not long. Bruce is going to tell the others.” Bruce nodded at that, so that might explain his nervousness. Despite everything, he still feels a little off in crowds. She walked farther into the lab and gently laced her fingers through Bruce’s.

“Let’s get going then, hmm?” They waved to Tony, and they went to the fifth floor first. JARVIS was informing everyone to meet in the den, so they met the three occupants of the fifth floor as soon as the door opened. Jo met Clint’s eyes first, and her old friend looks worried. Understandable.

“How’s Darcy?” Clint asked as soon as they stepped off the elevator.

“I left her with Thor, but I think she’ll be okay. I was able to finish the mental link, so she’s safe now. Skye? How are you doing?”


“Skye? How are you doing?” Jo’s dark green eyes definitely looked worried, and Skye tried to push down the anger building in her chest. She woke up in Natasha’s bed, which should be impossible. She was shot in the head by Viper, who was controlling Darcy’s body. Jo promised her that she’d be safe here at the mansion, but she nearly died. She should be dead! When she came to, Natasha wouldn’t tell her anything. Just that Tony and Bruce were working on it. Nothing is making any sense, and she hates being left out of the loop. Especially when it’s about her.

“Wondering how I’m alive, for one.” Jo’s eyes flicked down and to the side, but she was looking up again in seconds.

“I’m sorry that happened to you. That we let it happen.”

“It?! It?! I was shot in the head!” Jo’s lips parted, but the only sound that came out was a quick yelp. Blood streaked down the center of her forehead and onto her nose, and there was a little bit of blood on the elevator doors behind her head. Instead of dropping to the ground, Jo lifted a hand and pressed it against the side of her head.

“Really, Natasha?” she groaned out. Skye looked at the redhead standing next to her, but she can’t even see the gun. Did Natasha pull it out, shoot, and then re-holster it that fast?

“Now you’re even,” Natasha shrugged. Jo used the bottom of her black tee shirt to wipe the blood from her nose and her forehead, and Skye noticed that Bruce’s eyes were shifting between brown and a bright green. Because his alter ego is the Hulk.

“Right, even. Don’t worry, Hulkster, that’s how Natasha says hello.” Jo reached up to rub the back of Bruce’s head as she spoke, and Bruce’s whole face was awash in green for a second. When his eyes opened again, they were brown.

“You shot her in the head?!” Skye’s voice was a little higher than normal, but she just saw someone get shot in the head. And Jo’s acting like it’s a normal thing.

“You get used to it,” Jo shrugged. How can Jo and Natasha be so calm about this? “Tony and Bruce figured something out, but Tony wants you and Darcy both in the lab. Are you okay with that?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Jo rubbed the center of her forehead, which was perfectly healed, and it clicked.

"Because Darcy—”

“Darcy’s not the one who hurt me. Viper is.” Jo smiled at her answer, and Skye rolled her eyes as the elevator doors opened. Thor was standing in the open space, and he leaned around to look at all of them.

“Darcy is waiting for you upstairs.” The god looked solemn, but Darcy told her that she was really close to Thor. She said she looked up to him as an older brother.

“You guys go on down,” Jo said and nodded at Natasha.

“Mind melding later?” Natasha asked as she walked by.

“I’ve got you scheduled right after Pepper and Sam.” Jo leaned up on her toes to kiss Bruce’s cheek, and she waved until the elevator doors closed. Once they were closed, those dark green eyes moved back to her. “It’s okay to be angry with me. With all of us. We promised you protection, and we failed.”

“I want to be angry, I am a little angry, but I know it wasn’t your fault. No one was expecting Viper to attack that way, but it still sucks. Yeah, all of my boo-boos are gone now, but none of it makes any sense. I’m kind of freaking out here.” The doors opened again, and she followed Jo inside.

“I wish I could tell you that everything’s going to be okay, but I don’t know if it will be. I’m not going to make any more promises, except for one. I’ll do my best to make sure you stay safe, and I’ll always be here if you need anything.”

“Still don’t get why,” she mumbled as the elevator moved up.

“Because from what I can tell, you’ve got no one. Everyone needs someone.” The woman turned to meet her eyes, and Skye could see something familiar reflected in them.

“You were alone.” The elevator doors were open, but neither one of them moved.

“I was, by choice. It took a long time, but I have a family again. It’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. You can have that too, if you want.” Jo stepped out of the elevator and moved to the right, and Skye numbly followed after her. This has been the weirdest couple of days of her life, and she has a feeling that it’s only going to get weirder.

“Skye! Oh my Thor, I thought you were, but you’re not, and I’m so sorry,” Darcy rambled out as soon as they walked into the…lab. Yeah, this is definitely a lab. Darcy already had tears in her eyes, and Skye felt her own tear ducts start burning. She opened her arms without really thinking it through, and Darcy hugged her so hard that it was closer to being tackled. They both cried as they clung to each other, and Skye assured Darcy that she had nothing to be sorry for. What happened, that was completely on Viper.

“Sorry to break this up, but we’ve got some revelations to uncover.” Tony’s voice was a lazy drawl, but he was looking at them both with worried eyes. Darcy wiped her cheeks with her hands, and Skye used the bottom of her borrowed tee shirt to clean her face.

“Come on girls, this way,” Jo said and led them over to a couch. Darcy and Skye sat next to each other, and Jo sat down on the other side of Darcy. Logan, who Skye hadn’t first noticed when she walked in, was sitting on the arm of the couch next to Jo. Tony was the only one standing, and he clapped his hands to get their attention.

“With the help of Professor’s Xavier’s files, some of the files dumped from the SHIELD and Hydra databases, and good ol’ fashioned detective work, I’ve pieced together what happened.” Tony was grinning like a five year old, which was a little unsettling since this obviously concerns her life.

“Tony, get to the good stuff,” Jo said and waved her hand to get him to move along. He snapped his fingers, and a picture of a beautiful woman appeared in the air. Holograms, awesome. She had long brown hair, slightly wavy, and blue eyes. Logan sat forward a little, but Skye didn’t recognize the woman.

“This is Kayla Kent, in 1974. She gave birth to a single child, a daughter, this same year. Maria Kent.” Another image took Kayla’s place, and Maria looked nearly identical to her mother. The only difference was that her eyes were brown.

“Kent?” Darcy’s voice sounded strained, but Skye couldn’t look away from the picture. The woman almost looked familiar, like a long forgotten memory.

“Maria Kent had a brief affair with Calvin Zabo when she was seventeen. Zabo also goes by the name of Mister Hyde. He was hidden in one of Hydra’s files. Originally human, he experimented on himself until he successfully altered his DNA. This was before Maria; his DNA was already unstable when he met her. Two months after discovering she was pregnant, she saw Zabo turn into Mister Hyde. He was taken into custody by SHIELD, or, Hydra. Maria was only seventeen and on her own, so she sent her children away.”

“Children?” Skye asked. She thought they were going over her history. Tony snapped again, and two pictures from security cameras appeared. The one on the left was from New York; there was a woman standing in front of a basket at the back of a hospital. The picture was blown up to show the small note attached to the baby’s blanket, Darcy Kent. The one on the right was from New Jersey; again, there was a woman standing in front of a basket behind a hospital. This picture was blown up too, and the note attached to the baby’s blanket just said Daisy K.

“The nurses at the New York hospital changed the name on the birth certificate to Darcy Kent Lewis. The nurses at the New Jersey hospital changed the name on the birth certificate to Daisy Kay Johnson. You are the twin daughters of Maria Kent and Calvin Zabo,” Tony said and spread his arms. Skye slowly turned to look next to her, and Darcy looked just as freaked out as she felt.

“Twins,” they mumbled at the same time. Great, now they’re starting to sound like twins.

“Wait, so, it was Zabo’s unstable DNA that gave us a mutant gene?” Skye asked. She was trying really hard not to think about her father being some kind of crazy mad scientist that worked for Hydra, but it was kinda hard not to.

“And what happened to Maria?” Darcy asked. What happened to their mother?

“Maria Kent died not even a whole week after you were born. The death certificate just states it as an accidental death. Zabo may be the reason that your mutant gene was repressed and only came out when you were fatally wounded. Your actual mutant gene comes from your grandfather.” Tony looked away from them and to the side, and Skye followed his line of sight. Straight to Logan. “I checked the DNA. Genetically, you’re the grandfather of Skye and Darcy.”

“I didn’t…I didn’t know. Maria left me; I woke up one day, and she was just gone. I lost my memories a few years later. I never knew she had a daughter. That I had a daughter.”

“And now you’ve got two granddaughters. Explains why Darcy’s healing is faster than mine, and why she’s stronger,” Jo said and nudged his knee. The older mutant looked like he might actually faint, and she’s a mutant. She’s a mutant, because her father was a mutant and her grandfather was a mutant.

“Zabo is still unaccounted for, but I don’t think he knows about either of you,” Tony said and pointed between her and Darcy. Her and her twin. She has family alive. Real, same blood and all, family.

“Well, I’ve got some mental links to build, so why don’t you three get to know each other better? Tony, escort me to Pepper,” Jo said and flowed to her feet. Skye almost called out for them to come back, because this is an insanely weird situation that she is in no way prepared for.

“So, uh, do we call you Grandpa now? Gramps?” Darcy asked. Logan’s eyes narrowed, and his eyes are the same shade as hers. The same shade as Maria’s. Darcy has Kayla’s eyes. They both have their grandmother’s, and their mother’s, hair.

“Logan’s fine.” This is going to be a long day.


“How did you survive here surrounded by all…this?” Doreen laughed at Skye’s question, and Darcy shrugged. Bruce filled them all in, and it’s quite a doozy. Logan’s got two granddaughters, twins. Fraternal, obviously, but still.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve got no complaints,” Darcy said and smiled over at Skye. Doreen’s glad that the two of them are bonding. Logan is currently squaring off against Hulk and Steve in the corner of the giant gym, but that’s how he works through his feelings. In the middle of the room, Sam and Clint are teamed up against Thor. Tony and Natasha are sparring on the other side of the gym, and Doreen has a front row seat with the twins.

“You’ve got to have a favorite though, right?” Doreen whispered. Darcy has spent more time with the Avengers, she’s lived with them, so she has to have a favorite. Especially if they always spar shirtless. (Natasha is wearing a sports bra and a small pair of shorts. The rest of the guys are just in shorts, except for Clint and Tony, but their shirts are at least sleeveless.)

“Do you?” Darcy shot back. The girl’s cheeks are a little pink though, so Doreen’s not far off.

“They’re all just so…ripped,” Skye sighed.

“Probably, no, definitely Thor. I think it’s the hair,” Doreen said and grinned over at Darcy’s shocked face. She knows the two are close, so she was expecting a fun reaction.

“Well, uh, Clint’s got really nice arms?” Darcy’s voice went up at the end, almost like she was asking a question, and Doreen found it adorable. Skye obviously found it hilarious, because she just started laughing.

“I don’t know how any of you can choose a favorite,” Skye said once the laughter died out.

“That’s easy.” All three sitting woman looked over at the sound of the rough voice, and a dark green eye winked at them. “HULKSTER FOR THE WIN!”

“Yeah, yeah, we know you like the big green one the bestest,” Doreen said with a smile. Seriously, Jo and Bruce could be the cutest when they thought no one was looking. It was all of the small touches and shy smiles.

“You alright, hot mama?” Jo raised a brow at Darcy’s question, but Doreen was tempted to ask the same question. Without the little endearment at the end. Jo’s normally tanned skin is looking pale, and those bags are under her eyes again.

“Hot mama?” She’s avoiding the question, because the Tank knows that she’s running herself into the ground. She’s doing it to keep them all safe though, and Doreen can respect that.

“The way I see it, nothing’s changed. If anything, it makes even more sense. Logan’s like your father, and he’s my actual grandfather. Means I’m still the lovechild of the Tank and Ironman.” Jo grinned at that, and she looked a little more like herself.

“And don’t you forget it, kid.” Jo looked away from them as Hulk joined them, and the woman actually squealed a little as Hulk lifted her into the air and dropped her on his shoulder.

“You okay?” Hulk’s voice was deeper than anything Doreen has ever heard; she could literally feel the rumble somewhere behind her sternum as he spoke, but Jo looked perfectly content on his shoulder.

“Yeah, I’m good. I’m just here to borrow Sam for a little while.” She twirled her fingers around Hulk’s curly hair, and Doreen noticed Sam and Tony headed straight for them.

“Where’s Pepper?” Tony sounded a little breathless, but he’s lucky to be alive. The man was sparring against Black Widow, who is just as graceful and deadly as all the rumors said she was.

“Still asleep. Wouldn’t hurt for her to see a familiar face when she wakes up,” Jo said with a pointed look. Tony nodded and jogged off, and Doreen mourned the loss. Yeah, Tony’s taken and she’d never actually make a move on the man, but he’s still pretty.

“You ready for me?” Sam asked. He looked a little skeptical, and Doreen wasn’t sure if it was because a virtual stranger was about to be in his head or if it was because Jo looked like death warmed over.

“Yeah, I’m ready. Gotta finish up before bedtime. Pretty sure Viper can only strike when someone’s unconscious. Let me down, big guy?” Hulk made a huffing noise, but he carefully scooped Jo up and placed her back on the ground. She smacked a kiss somewhere below his elbow, and Hulk moved back to where Steve and Logan were still sparring.

“I’ll take over for Sam!” Doreen looked up to watch Natasha stand next to Clint, and the two assassins fist bumped before turning to grin up at Thor. Well, this should be an interesting matchup.

“Hey, Jo?” Doreen looked away from the amazing sight of Natasha choking Thor with her thighs to see Skye looking up at Jo, and she noticed the way that Jo was leaning against the wall. Like just standing was taking too much out of her.

“Yeah, kid?” Jo’s eyes widened as the second word slipped out, but it looks like her mind has already accepted Skye as another part of the family.

“After Sam, can you do a mental link with me too? I don’t want Viper anywhere near me.” Jo’s smile was tired but genuine, and Doreen had to bite her tongue. Jo could barely handle doing two mental links in a day, and now she’s going to do four?

“You got it. See you in a few hours.” Sam raised his arm, like a gentleman offering his arm to a lady, and Jo laughed as she hooked her arm around his. Doreen was glad, because she’s not sure her fellow mutant would’ve been able to walk off otherwise.


“I’m so sorry, Tony. I didn’t know it would get that bad. I’m so sorry.” Pepper kept whispering those three sentences over and over, and Tony tightened his arms around her shaking body. His memories may have their own separate little world inside of Jo’s head, but Jo still has memories of him. He didn’t even think about the fact that Pepper would see what happened after she left.

“We both know it wasn’t your fault. That was all me,” he whispered into her hair. She saw him wasted away into nothing after drinking for a few months straight, saw how Jo was able to snap him out of it, and she saw the Arctic Balls Incident.

“I knew there was a reason for how close you two were, I knew that she saved you, but I didn’t know…Oh, Tony, I’m so sorry.” He hated hearing her cry, hated that she was crying because of him, but he didn’t know what to do. Didn’t know what to say to make it better.

“I’m okay now. What happened was bad, but I’m okay now. I’m better than okay.” Pepper finally pulled away from his chest to look up at him, and her pretty blue eyes were surrounded by broken blood vessels.

“You made her better too, you know. You both needed each other, and I am so happy that you found each other. You both deserve to be loved like that, and I promise that I will never get between the two of you.” So Pepper really got it now. That the way he loved Jo was completely different from the way he loved her.

“I know,” was all he could think to say. Pepper fell back against him with a sound that was mixed between a sob and a laugh, and Tony just held onto her.


“Thor’s glorious hair, could you be a better man, Wilson? You’re making all the other humans look bad.” Jo was lying flat on her back on Sam’s bed, and her legs were thrown over his because he was lying crossways on the bed.

“Could you be more of a badass? Tank?” She huffed out a laugh at that, because she could tell that he was going for humor instead of bringing up all the horrible parts of her past.

“I’m serious, Sam. You are one good human being. Definitely one of the best.” He grew up in a normal family, and he wanted to give back to his country. Joined the Air Force, did two tours as a paratrooper, and only retired after watching one of his friends die. Then the man went on to assist veterans suffering with PTSD, and he helped Steve and Natasha without a second thought.

“I’m sorry you had to meet some of the worst humans.” She twisted her head to the side and met Sam’s dark eyes, and he really was genuinely sorry for what she went through. “Also, I’ve got a whole new respect for Tony Stark.”

“Yeah, he’s a strange man, but he’s one of the good humans too.” Sam smiled, and she felt herself grinning back. She likes Sam; he’s gonna make an amazing Avenger, she can already tell.

“Steve was right, you know. You’re one of the good guys.” Sam punctuated the sentence with a yawn, and Jo stretched so that she could pat his shoulder.

“Get some rest, Falcon. JARVIS will make sure you’re up in time for dinner. Right, buddy?”

“Of course, Miss Jo.” Sam hummed at that, since he was already half asleep, and Jo forced her body upright. She wants nothing more than to just pass out, but she needs to finish the mental links as soon as possible. Two down, two to go.

“Has Skye’s new headboard been installed?” She waited until she was on the other side of Sam’s closed door to ask, because she remembered Tony mentioning that a new one was being delivered since the old one had a bullet in it.

“It has, Miss Jo. Would you like me to request Miss Skye’s presence in her room?” JARVIS is the literal best. He can probably see how wobbly her knees are.

“That would be amazing, buddy. You sure I can’t kill anyone for you? Or have Tony make you a girlfriend? Whatever you want, it’s yours,” she rambled out as she shuffled her feet over to Skye’s room. The bed was perfectly made, new headboard in place, and she dropped down onto the blanket. She propped her back against the headboard, because she had a feeling that Skye wouldn’t want to. Her eyes closed as soon as she was still; she’s just going to gather up some strength while she waits.

“No, but thank you for the sentiment, Miss Jo.”



It felt like there was cotton between her ears, so Skye lightly shook her head to see if it would change the full feeling. Jo’s only a few years older than her, but it feels like the mutant has lived a much longer life. It was a really good life for a while, and then things took a really bad turn. She doesn’t even know how Jo can stomach using the telepathy after what was done to her, but she does know. It’s because of Tony. He made using the telepathy easy, natural. Then Bruce trusted her with his mind, and she learned. God, Skye knows everything about Jo now. Absolutely everything.

“Skye? Are you conscious?” That’s Darcy’s voice, and now that she’s paying attention she can feel the bed dipping on both sides. She turned her head to the left, where Darcy’s voice had come from, and slowly opened her eyes.

“Jo mugged your mugger because Tony hacked your iPod.” Darcy’s head tilted back as she laughed, because that was the first day she met Jo and Tony. Skye also saw the day that Viper shot Darcy in the head; she saw Thor holding Darcy’s body through Jo’s eyes, and she was so close to never even meeting her sister.

“Yes, she did. They’re the strangest adopted parents I could have ever imagined, but they really care.” Tony gave her a job, sang off-key to make her laugh, and then let her go so that she could pursue a career that made her happy. Jo bought her bruise cream, teased her about her love life, and taught her how to dance because no one else ever took the time to.

“Jo’s always had a big heart.” Skye turned her head to the right, towards the gruff voice, and met eyes that were the same color as hers.

“You’ve looked after her for longer than she can remember. You were a good father to her. A good father to her and Anna Marie. Does that mean you’ll be a good grandfather to us?” Logan met her eyes and then looked across her to Darcy, and she could see the struggle in his eyes. After a moment, she felt a rough hand grab her own. His other hand stretched across her to grab Darcy’s, and she used her free hand to grab Darcy’s hand. They’re a little mixed up, arms crossing over each other instead of going in a neat circle, but it feels kind of right.

“I’m going to try.” Nothing can make up for their pasts; he can’t teach them how to ride a bike or walk them to their first day of school, but he can be there for them now. If they let him. Skye’s still weirded out by all this, and there’s a part of her that just wants to run away from it all. It’d be safer that way. She’s always been alone, and you can’t get hurt when you’re alone.

“Me too,” Darcy said and squeezed her hand. Skye looked back and forth between them, and they’re probably here because they didn’t want her to wake up alone after the mental link. They’re here because they care about her, even if they do barely know her.

“Yeah, me too,” Skye whispered and smiled at them. It was then that she noticed the pizza box and bottles of water on her bedside table, and she heard her stomach give a quiet rumble. Darcy was the first to laugh, Skye quickly followed, and even Logan chuckled a little as he picked up the box. Skye sat up and scooted back, and they put the pizza box between them. It’s not much, but it’s a start.


She was forced to kill her first friend. The other girl had blonde hair, so pale that it was nearly white, and her blue eyes looked like the night sky. She didn’t want to kill her, Annabelle, but she wasn’t given the signal to stop. The eyes that watched her demanded that she finish it, so she did. Watched as the light left her dark eyes. She didn’t dare to cry. She knew she’d be punished if she did.

At night, they handcuff her right wrist to the bedpost. They don’t trust her not to escape. They don’t trust any of them not to escape. Sometimes she pulls on the cuff, testing, but it never gives. She ignores the rattling of the other cuffs as some of the girls fight for freedom, because she knows that freedom is a lie.

When she is seventeen, an archer with pretty eyes whispers to her that she can be better. He thinks that she can wipe the red out of her ledger, but he doesn’t understand that it’s gushing blood. She’s been killing for the past ten years. She can balance all of her weight on her big toe and can kill a man before he can register her eye color. The scars on her right wrist are faint, but they are a reminder that there is no such thing as freedom.

She doesn’t like the mutant that they had to save. They were there to save everyone in the facility, but Fury put this mutant above the others. Said he owed an old friend a favor. Her eyes are dark and wild, like a caged animal, and she sees herself in this mutant. When she apologizes for attacking her, she shoots her in the head. When she feels a brush against her mind, she shoots her in the head. Maybe if she shoots her enough, she’ll push out the mutant’s memories of that place. Of her cage.

For years, she thought she was doing the right thing. She left with Clint, trusted in Phil and Fury, so that she could do the right thing. She knows that she cannot erase her wrongs, but she can create balance. She can. SHIELD is Hydra is SHIELD. She doesn’t know whose lies she’s been telling; she doesn’t know who she’s been killing for. It doesn’t matter. She has found a team that she can trust. This time, she will be on the right side. She will balance her wrongs. She will clean the red from her ledger.

“So, you’ve never hated me?” Natasha’s eyes are a prettier green than hers, and Jo’s secure enough in her own self-esteem to admit it. They’re brighter, but they also hide more.

“Did I ever use the word hate?” Natasha’s voice was a little rough, but that was to be expected. Looking back, Natasha never expressly said that she hated her. It was just implied, from all the gunshots to the head.

“You were trying to make me lose my memory?” Jo’s just very confused about everything. For one, Natasha’s past was even worse than her own. Jo was lucky enough to have a good childhood; she had a caring mother, another mutant that she looked up to as a father, and peers that understood her. Natasha didn’t have any of those luxuries.

“At first. Later, it just became a quick way to get a point across.” Natasha does normally shoot her to make a point.

“I think you like me.” Jo’s voice was smug, and Natasha was glaring at her when she turned to smile at the beautiful redhead.

“Won’t stop me from shooting you.”

“Fair enough.”



“Did you seriously just take a picture?” Clint turned to look at Tony, who looked a little worried. Clint couldn’t stop smiling.

“You realize that this is something that has never happened before and will probably never happen again? I need evidence.” Clint raised his phone to take another picture, and Tony rolled his eyes before mentally doing the same thing. It’s good to have his brain hooked up like a mega-computer.

Their two platonic life partners were spread across Natasha’s bed, and it was hard to tell that the two women usually didn’t get along. Jo’s arms were wrapped around Natasha’s waist, and her face was pressed against the redhead’s chest. Natasha had her arms wrapped around Jo’s shoulders with her hands buried in her unbound hair, and her cheek was pressed against the top of Jo’s head. Their legs were tangled together, and Clint was pretty sure that Hell was freezing over as he and Tony took picture after picture.

“Should we separate them before they wake up?” Tony whispered.

“Definitely not,” Clint whispered back.

Jo hummed as Natasha nuzzled her cheek against the top of her head, and Clint and Tony bit back their giggles as they closed the door. Everyone in the house was now protected, so they could all finally sleep.

“Guess I’ll go tell Bruce that his cuddle buddy is going to be MIA tonight,” Tony said as headed towards the elevator.

“I’m gonna go put these somewhere safe and secure!” Clint called back. He could still hear Tony laughing after the doors shut, and Clint smiled to himself. It’s been a really weird few days, but they’ll be back to normal soon enough.
♠ ♠ ♠
I know a lot happened in this chapter, and I’m expecting mixed reactions. I just want to say, no one feels as calm as they’re acting. I know everything probably seems really chill, but it’s not. Also, writing Natasha’s past really hurt. I got the idea after watching the first season of Agent Carter, which everyone should watch. If there’s any questions about anything, I’d be happy to answer them!