Archaic Kinds of Fun

weird definitely works

September 16, 2014


“Looking good, Ma! What do you call that hairstyle?” Jo jerked to a stop in the middle of the sitting area, and Darcy grinned as the woman’s halfway open green eyes rose to meet hers. Her hand came up to pat at her wild hair, and Darcy saw her smile as she realized the state that her hair was in. It’s half up, half down, and all over the place.

“Screaming Orgasm Before Sunrise. Like it?” Bruce, who had just stepped off the elevator, froze and immediately turned red. Darcy could hear Skye cackling behind her as Jo waved to the extremely embarrassed scientist, and the two of them are just too cute.

“Good thing I soundproofed everything!” Tony called out from his open bedroom.

“No teasing your friends!” Pepper yelled. It was muffled, so she must be in the bathroom. Or in Tony’s ridiculous closet.

“I’d say sorry, but I’m really not,” Jo said as Bruce reached her. The doc is already dressed for the day, so he must have gone up to his lab after…yeah, she’s gonna stop that thought now.

“It’s always the quiet ones,” Skye whispered to her. Despite that, Jo still looked over at them with a raised eyebrow and a smile.

“Oh, you have no idea.” That’s a smile that belongs on a shark. “Come along, Bruce. I need help braiding my sex hair before breakfast.”

“Insatiable minx!” Tony yelled.

“Still not on your level, boss!” Jo’s bedroom door closed behind her, and Darcy rolled her eyes. It’s good to see Jo so relaxed and happy though. She was starting to get worried about her weird adoptive mother, but it looks like she just needed a good night’s sleep. Well, that and some quality Doc time.

“Food?” Tony looked awake enough, but his eyes still looked a little sleepy. At least he’s dressed.

“You remembered that you need food to survive. It’s a Christmas miracle!” Tony’s eyes narrowed as they met Darcy’s, but she just kept on smiling. She even kept smiling when Tony hooked an arm around her neck and started pulling Darcy towards the elevator, and she could hear Pepper and Skye talking behind them.

“Just remember, all complaints about his behavior go directly to me. Unless it’s urgent. Then you can go to Jo.” Tony pouted as Pepper and Skye joined them in the elevator, and it took everything in Darcy’s willpower not to laugh.

“He’s been well behaved so far,” Skye said and looked over to meet her eyes. Darcy’s glad that her sister is fitting in here, and Tony seems to appreciate the help.

“Yeah, I can be professional.” She’s pretty sure that if Tony didn’t have an arm around her shoulders, his arms would be stubbornly crossed over his chest.

“Of course you can, honey.” Pepper ruffled his hair before stepping off the elevator into the foyer, and Skye grinned at them before following after the redhead. Tony pulled her along, and Darcy could already hear the others in the dining room. It sounds very…loud. Looks like things might be slowly getting back to normal.

Breakfast was surprisingly normal. Things were a little tense to start with, mostly because everyone took turns sneaking glances at Loki, until the god rolled his eyes and asked for more syrup. After that, conversation seemed to pick up. Darcy tried to apologize to Thor for not helping him make breakfast, but he told her not to worry about it. Loki and Doreen helped him in her absence. (Doreen actually cooked everything except for the pancakes, and Loki just watched and commented.) Darcy almost felt bad about it, but Thor told her that she shouldn’t have to cook her own breakfast before going to work. It was really sweet of the big guy.

“Hey, Tony, is it cool if I go for a run?” Darcy looked over at Skye but didn’t say anything, because she’d just stuffed half of a pancake into her mouth. She looked over at Tony, who stopped talking to Bruce to look over at Skye.

“Sure. I’m lying on a couch and talking about my problems after breakfast, so we can start an hour later than usual. Good for you?” Oh, yeah. Therapy sessions start today. She’s up after dinner tonight.

“Good for me,” Skye said and nodded a little.

“Mind if I come with you? I haven’t been running in forever. I think working for Tony has made me lazy,” Jo said with a crooked grin. Tony huffed but didn’t argue, and Jo kept her eyes locked with Skye’s. Jo’s question sounds innocent enough, but Darcy has a feeling that Jo asked for more reasons than just wanting to exercise a little. Maybe she’s volunteering to be Skye’s bodyguard.

“As long as you can keep up.” Skye sounded playful, and Jo’s head tipped back as she laughed.

“Maybe Tony can build you some kind of rocket skates,” Clint said and tossed a piece of his biscuit at Jo’s face. The woman managed to actually catch the food in her mouth, which just made Clint clap politely while laughing like a loon, and Jo looked like she was actually contemplating it.

“Whattaya think, boss? Rocket skates?”

“Maybe for Christmas.” Jo and Clint high-fived, and Natasha looked back and forth between them with an unreadable expression before whispering something in Russian. Whatever it was, it made Illyana laugh. “You! Come by the lab at ten, and we’ll start a sweep for your mentor!”

“I’ll find a way to entertain myself until then,” Illyana said back and smiled. The mutant must be good at adapting, because she doesn’t seem phased by anything.

“Change and then run?” Skye asked. She was already done eating and starting to get up, and breakfast is almost done. Most of the food is gone.

“Definitely not running in my pajamas,” Jo said and got to her feet as well.

“You mean mine and Bruce’s pajamas?” Tony asked her. He has a point there. Darcy missed Jo’s comeback, because Skye lightly gripped her shoulder. She looked up and met her sister’s dark eyes, and Skye smiled down at her.

“Have fun at work, sis.” This is still really new for the two of them, but they’ve decided to go all-in.

“Have fun dealing with Tony.” Skye laughed at that, and Darcy could just make out the sound of Tony yelling in protest over the sounds of everything else happening in the room. She did see the assassins talking to Sam out of the corner of her eye, until Steve walked by with plates in his arms.

“Ready to go, Darcy?” Pepper asked her. She’s dressed for the day and as ready as she’ll ever be for a work day at Stark Industries. She nodded and got to her feet, and she took a quick look around the room. Maybe things are going back to normal, or a new normal at least.


“Is running one of your mutant abilities?” Skye asked as she watched Jo stretch. It’s a little weird to see the woman in her own clothes; the pajamas from breakfast have been replaced with a pair of really short hot pink shorts and a yellow tank top, and they both fit her perfectly so they have to be hers.

“Depends on how you look at it,” Jo said and straightened up. They’re standing in front of the mansion, because Jo wanted to warm up first. Skye feels warmed up enough; she just wants to run and clear her head a little.

“Meaning?” She followed Jo to the gate and then out onto the sidewalk, and dark green eyes met hers as they stopped.

“Technically, running is not one of my abilities. My healing, however, can keep me from getting too tired. My strength can make me go faster than the average human, while the healing means that I don’t get hurt in the process. I don’t feel like tiring myself out though, so I’m only going to run at a normal pace today. Think you can still keep up?”

She would’ve had a comeback, but Jo was already on the move. Skye yelled the mutant’s name before running after her, and Jo slowed down until she caught up but then immediately upped her pace. She’s only officially been living with all of them for about a week, and a lot has happened. Her whole life has done a complete one-eighty, but this is familiar. Running helps her mind go quiet, which is a good thing since she’s running next to a telepath. It felt good to let go of everything for a little while, and she felt almost like a completely different person when Jo slowed down in front of some kind of smoothie shop.

“I think just one drink from this place will undo all of the running,” Skye pointed out. She’s sure that smoothies are supposed to be healthy, but she’s not so sure about this place.

“They have one with peanut butter that’s to die for. Want anything?” She’s actually still a little full from breakfast, so she just shook her head. Jo shrugged and disappeared inside the shop, and Skye walked over to a bench. She decided against sitting down, but she did place her right foot on the seat so that she could bend over to adjust her sock.

“Is your friend colorblind?” She yelped, a little, as she jumped and spun around. A few people walking by glanced at her but didn’t say anything, and she placed a hand over her rapidly beating heart as she looked over at an old baseball cap.

“Where did you come from?” He’s sitting on the bench now and looking down at the ground, so she can’t see his face. So it’s just like every other time they’ve met.

“Around,” he shrugged.

“Are you stalking me?” His laugh was so low that she barely heard it, but she definitely got her mysterious stranger friend to laugh.

“So, your friend. Colorblind?” The fact that he didn’t answer was obvious and should have freaked her out a little, but there’s something about this guy. She doesn’t feel unsafe around him.

“She just likes weirdly matched bright colors. I’m not really sure why.” Jo’s fashion sense is a bit weird, but that word is starting to have a new meaning. She’s lying about the second part too, but she can’t really explain that she knows Jo loves bright colors because bland colors remind her of ROSE. (Everything had been white, a blinding white. Sometimes the clothes they put her in were gray, but that was it.)

“Is she nice?” Skye snorted as she crossed her arms, and she really thought it over. Jo’s a good person. She takes care of everyone, but she’s also a little rough around the edges. They call her the Tank. Her foot lightly nudged the stranger’s leg, but he still didn’t look up at her.

“Why? You looking out for me?” His gloved fingers flexed against his knees as his jaw clenched, and Skye waited patiently for him to answer her.

“Something like that,” he said after a moment. They met on a bench and have had a few random conversations, so he doesn’t have any reason to look out for her. He doesn’t know her. Skye glanced over her shoulder to see if Jo was out of the shop yet, and the guy was gone when she turned back around. Like he just disappeared.

“Skye? You okay? You look like you just saw a ghost.” Jo was standing next to her now, holding two smoothies, and she’s looking for a guy whose face she’s never really seen and who can disappear better than Natasha can.

“Just really starting to feel the run. Is that pineapple?” Jo was happily slurping down one of the smoothies, something with peanut butter and banana, and she was holding another cup that smelled strongly of pineapples.

“For Tony. Ready to head back?” Skye’s not really sure why Jo asked it, because the older mutant was already walking. They’re only a few minutes away from the Mansion, which is good because there’s something else that she wants to ask Jo.

“So, Logan.” Jo looked over at her with a raised brow but didn’t say anything. “Do you think he’d teach me how to fight? I know a little self-defense, but I want to know how to protect myself better.”

“Yeah, he’d love that. He’s been teaching close combat training at the school, so it’s something that he’s good at. Can I make a suggestion?”


“After you get the basics down, ask Natasha to train you. She’s still hurting from getting shot, but she’ll be good to go in no time. She can also teach you the more fun moves.”

“And Logan can’t?” The guy is pretty old, he’s her biological grandfather but old enough to have been in pretty much every American war, so he should know all of the moves by now.

“Logan’s a good teacher, but he’s all brute force. Made him a great teacher for me. When I fight, I don’t need finesse. I’m stronger than a human and can take a beating, which means I’m sloppy. I rarely guard myself and fight straight through. Natasha, on the other hand, fights like it’s art. If you really want to know how to guard yourself and still be deadly, she’s who you want.”

“That was very insightful.” Jo shrugged with just one arm and looked over at her with a crooked grin.

“What can I say? I have my moments.” The other woman has a point. If Skye wants to really learn how to take care of herself, and possibly some of the others, she needs to know how to guard herself and still kick ass. In Jo’s memories, the mutant usually did fight with just her brutal strength. Her strategy was to charge straight in and break down her opponent before they could do the same to her. She’ll ask Natasha for some lessons.

“Thanks, Jo. Any other words of wisdom?” She can see the Mansion now, so they’ll be surrounded by all of the others again soon. She’ll go up to the lab to work with Tony on removing confidential files, and Jo will…do whatever it is that the woman does during the day.

“You know how Tony sings off key?”

“Yeah. It’d be annoying if he didn’t look so ridiculous while doing it.” A smile crept onto her face at the thought, because she’s sure that Tony plays air guitar and makes those horrible faces just to get her to laugh when they’ve been working too hard.

“If you ever manage to sneak up on him, you might be able to hear him really sing. He’s actually really good.” Skye wanted to question that, figure out why Tony didn’t just sing well all the time if he could, but they were inside now. Loki, who’d been sitting in one of the chairs placed in the foyer, stood up as soon as they were inside.

“I need to speak with you. Immediately.” His eyes looked away from Jo and over at her, and Skye raised a brow.

“Are you excluding me because I laughed at your sparkly eyes?” She’s pretty sure that she should be afraid of this guy, of this god, but Darcy and Thor trust him. Jo trusts him. She’ll just have to trust them.

“Yes. Learn from your mistake.” She can’t tell if Loki is joking or not, because his facial expression hasn’t changed at all. Jo held out the pineapple smoothie towards her, and Skye rolled her eyes in Loki’s direction before grabbing the drink.

“Don’t worry, Skye. I’ll give Loki a lecture on manners while you tend to Tony,” Jo said with a gentle smile in her direction. Skye smiled back at Jo, scowled at Loki, and then walked over to the elevator. She was humming by the time that she reached the top floor, and she was surprised at the lack of sound in Tony’s lab. The mad genius nearly always has some kind of music going.

“Skye! Just the hacker I was looking for! Wanna do something illegal?” She could hear Tony, but she couldn’t see him.

“Sounds like fun!” she called back. She weaved around some equipment to reach the back of the room until she found Tony, and he wasn’t alone. Bruce was behind him and intently focused on a holoscreen, and Illyana was standing next to Bruce as he quickly moved things around. Tony was just watching it all with a too wide smile. He turned around when he heard her approach, and his eyes lit up at the sight of the smoothie.

“Is that for me?” He made grabby hands as she got closer, and she handed it over with a smile.

“Yeah, your platonic life partner picked it up for you at the end of our run. Speaking of which, I’m going to take a shower. Unless you desperately need me, boss?” She could see Illyana looking at her curiously, but Skye didn’t ask her what the curious look was for. She doesn’t really want to know.

“We’re looking for Yana’s mentor right now, so you’re excused.” She nodded and turned around to start weaving her way back out of the lab, and Tony called after her. “But don’t take too long! You’ll miss out on all the hacking!”

She does love hacking, so she’ll keep her shower quick.


“You waitin’ for me?” Jo drawled out once the elevator doors closed on Skye. The whole first floor is vacant now, as far as she can tell, except for her and Loki.

“I had a disturbing thought last night and was unsure about who to go to. I still don’t trust most of the people in here to not make an attempt on my life, so I thought you would be my safest bet.” She’s gotta hand it to Loki. Even when he’s talking somewhat badly about people, his voice is smooth and kinda calming. The dude’s definitely charming.

“You not trusting them is kind of ironic, just saying.” At his even look, Jo sighed and forced her shoulders to relax. The run was relaxing, but Loki being worried about something definitely has her worried. She’s got a feeling that she won’t be able to shower first before dealing with whatever it is either. No, wait, the sweat that pooled along the base of her spine is drying and starting to make her itch. The only thing that’s gonna keep her away from the shower is if the world is ending in the next five minutes.

“The scepter was not taken to Asgard. Only the Tesseract was. Who kept it?” It’s not something that she’s completely comfortable with, but she scanned her vast amount of memories for anything about the scepter. She ignored the memories of it pressing against skin (against metal) and only thought about afterwards. Surprisingly, the answer came from Maria’s memories.

“It was taken to a SHIELD safe facility,” she answered after a few minutes. Loki raised a brow at her as his lips pulled into a thin line, and she shifted her smoothie to her left hand.

“A SHIELD facility or a HYDRA facility?”

“Fuck,” was the first coherent thing to come out of her mouth. Then she managed to gather her thoughts a little more and huffed out a breath. This is so not good. “JARVIS? I need Steve and Maria.”

“Where would you like them to meet you, Miss Jo?” She’s sweaty and smells funny, the world isn’t ending in the next five minutes, so she’s taking her shower.

“My floor. Twenty minutes. Loki, you’re coming with me,” she said and started for the elevator. The god actually followed behind her, and she shifted nervously as they rode up to her floor. If HYDRA has the scepter…no, she can’t think about that. She’ll save that freak out for a little later.

Once they were on her floor, Jo directed Loki to take a seat anywhere in the little living room and then ducked into her room. Her hair was braided and then placed into a bun before breakfast, so it’s okay. She took a quick shower to wash away the sweat that comes from a good run and then quickly pulled on some clothes. Huh. She can’t remember the last time that she wore a pair of her own skinny jeans, dark green this time, but she’s wearing one of Bruce’s light blue button-ups so that’s more normal. She left her feet bare for the moment and then walked back out into the living room, where Loki was sitting stiffly in a chair. Across from him, on one of the couches, Steve and Maria were sitting just as still.

“I thought we were going to have to mount a rescue mission,” Maria said once she came into view. Jo propped herself up onto the arm of Loki’s chair and ignored the confused look that he sent her. He needs to know that he’s accepted here. Not well liked by all, exactly, but accepted.

“You’re the ones that are five minutes early,” she pointed out.

“You called us here?” Steve asked. That’s why he has her vote for leader; Steve’s always good at keeping them on track.

“No point in polite talk, right, so I’ll get straight to it. The scepter that Loki had was taken by SHIELD and kept somewhere safe. So, my question is simple. Does SHIELD have the scepter or does HYDRA?” Maria paled at the question, so Jo had her answer.

“Nearly all of SHIELD’s secure facilities were attacked and consequently ransacked after SHIELD fell. I’ll call Coulson and see what he knows.” Maria was up and moving before Jo had even fully processed what the woman had said, but Maria’s always been good at processing information and reacting immediately.

“Could you help us locate it?” Jo looked down at Loki after Steve’s question, and the god somehow managed to look even paler. If anymore blood drains from his head, he’s gonna pass out.

“I have no way of locating it, and I do not think it would be wise to have it near me. The hold it had on me has been broken, but I would rather not take chances.” Jo reached over to grab Loki’s shoulder and gave it a hard squeeze, to make sure that he could feel it, but he didn’t look over at her. That’s probably for the best. She can practically taste the fear rolling out of his door, but Loki is a proud man. He doesn’t want her, or anyone else, to see the fear that’s probably hiding behind his eyes.

“We’ll wait until dinner to bring it up to everyone else. Maria will know more by then,” Steve said as he got to his feet. He locked eyes with her and nodded before walking off, and Jo rolled her tense shoulders. This has the potential to become absolutely disastrous, so it looks like they’re not done cleaning up messes. That’s just great.


Dr. Banner was muttering quietly under his breath as he stared at a mostly clear screen with numbers and lines all over it, and Tony Stark was singing off-key to some rock ballad as his hands danced through the air.

“So, this is how geniuses really act,” Illyana thought as she watched the two of them work. It looked like organized chaos at best, but Jo trusts these men. Peter and Kitty trust Jo, so Illyana is just going to have to trust all of them. Even if the two men in the room do look a little crazy.

“Skye! Light of my life! Come scan these for me?” Illyana spun around on her little stool and watched as the young woman walked farther into the room. She’s only picked up a few things about the non-Avengers living in the mansion, and Darcy and Skye are kinda fascinating. She knows that they’re Logan’s biological granddaughters, which is crazy, but she’s never met anyone whose mutations manifested so late in life.

“Out of the way, old man.” Skye pushed Tony out of the way so that she could start working on one screen, and he laughed as he moved over to another set of screens to start looking up more images. Skye looks normal enough. Dark hair and dark eyes. Tan. Average height and weight. She’s wearing skinny jeans and a white tee shirt, with a blue and black flannel shirt on over that. She doesn’t look much older than Illyana, and she thought she was completely human up until about a week ago.

“I wonder what that’s like.” Illyana’s eyes raised up as loud footsteps sounded in the room, and she met Jo’s dark green eyes from over clear screens and whirring machinery. The older mutant froze as their eyes met, and she raised a brow in question. Illyana dropped her mental barriers, which are always up, and allowed Jo to hear her next thought. “What’s it like to live normal and then be told that you’re not? I don’t remember what it was like to not know that I was a mutant. Is she disappointed? Sad? Angry?”

“Confused, I think, but she has family now. That’s something that she didn’t have before. Being a mutant isn’t something to be disappointed about, Illyana.” She doesn’t know much about what happened to Jo after she left the school, Peter and Kitty didn’t talk about what happened to her, but there were rumors. She heard the gossip, and she knows that some of it was true. She knows that Jo was kidnapped by humans and held against her will so that they could experiment on her; that’s how she became a telepath. She also knows that Jo helped a human organization, killed for them.

“Humans hate us because we’re different. They only accept us when they have use for us. That’s what some of the others think. Is that true, Tank? Do humans only want us for what we can do?”

“No, Illyana. Only individuals want to use us, not the human race as a whole. You’re thinking of the people that took me? They took humans as well; they didn’t discriminate, and they hurt their own species just as much as they did the mutants. And SHIELD? I volunteered to work for them. If they used me, it was because I asked them to. Besides, Tony’s human and he’s my best friend.”

“Sweetheart? You sleepwalking?” Illyana jumped a little at the sound of Tony’s voice, it was a little loud after the quiet sound of Jo’s mental voice, and that’s another thing. The Jo she remembers, the Jo that she played with as a little girl, had such a soft voice. This Jo sounds completely different, but the smile is the same.

“Just reassuring Illyana that you have what it takes to find her mentor. How’s that coming?” Jo walked farther into the lab, and Illyana noted the way that she gently touched Skye’s right shoulder as she passed by her.

“I’m scanning an entire planet,” Tony said and looked over his shoulder at Bruce. The other scientist pointedly looked away, which made Tony huff before turning to face Jo again. “Should take another ten minutes or so. Thanks for the smoothie.”

“Yeah, well, you gotta keep your strength up. Can you run all this from the hall?” Jo asked and looked around. Illyana watched the way that the two scientists looked at each other before looking at Jo in tandem, and they both moved towards the older mutant at the same time. Jo promised to return the boys quickly and in one piece, and Skye snorted quietly once the lab was empty except for the two of them.

“I feel like I’m missing something,” Illyana mused out loud. Skye looked over at her, and the young woman looks nice with a smile on her face.

“Those three…there’s something special about them. Tony and Jo are practically married, but it’s totally platonic. Tony and Bruce are science bros, as Tony calls them, so I think they’re science married. And then Jo’s dating Bruce, which ties all of them together. I think it should be weird, but they make it work.” Skye shrugged at the end, winced a little bit, and then went back to pecking at a holoscreen in midair. Yeah, weird definitely works.


“Please tell me there isn’t another emer—Why is he up here?” Jo glared at Tony as he cut off mid-sentence, and she smiled apologetically at Loki. It’ll take Tony a while to warm up to the god, since Loki did throw him out of a window and everything. She’s not going to think about the giant hole that led into space.

“He is up here, because I think we have a serious problem,” she said and looked between the two scientists.

“I thought the Captain asked us to keep quiet until dinner?” Loki asked her. She tipped her head back a little to look up at him, because the god is pretty tall, and smiled.

“Tony and Bruce don’t count. They’re my life partners.” She ignored Loki’s confused expression and quickly explained about how the scepter was probably taken by HYDRA, and she listened as Tony swore colorfully. Bruce was carefully wringing his hands, which she knows is his way of checking his pulse. She knows that Hulk won’t come out unless asked, but she also knows that some habits are hard to break.

“Last time, on the hellicarrier, we didn’t react well to the scepter. Could it make me, make Hulk, hurt people?” Bruce met Loki’s eyes as he asked the question, and Jo shared a worried look with Tony before looking over at the god as well.

“I am not sure. Jo’s mental links should be enough to protect everyone, but the scepter is different from a common telepath.” Jo ground her teeth together and decided not to act offended at the god’s choice of words. “Anything could be possible, depending on who has the scepter. I would prepare for the worst.”

“Bruce, you know Hulk would never hurt anyone,” she said quickly. She could hear Hulk in the back of Bruce’s mind, but she couldn’t hear what the big guy was saying. She could see the way that Bruce’s eyes turned bright green before fading back into his usual brown though.

“Neither one of us wants to hurt someone, but that doesn’t mean someone can’t make us. We need a contingency plan,” Bruce said and looked over at Tony. Jo wanted to argue, because the last contingency plan was some kind of a cage to be dropped out of a hellicarrier, but she could hear Hulk’s agreement. He didn’t want to be used to hurt anyone either.

“We’ll do some baseline tests and see if I can make a suit that can overpower Hulk.” Jo’s seen Hulk in action, and she’s not sure if there’s anything that can really overpower Hulk. (Not even stripping his skin off can stop him.)

“Alright, boys, get back to your science. I’m going to go…do something. Knit or read. Call if you need me.” She leaned forward to smack a kiss against Tony’s cheek, and the kiss she gave Bruce was less chaste but still not long enough for her liking. She watched as they walked back to Tony’s lab, listened to their rapid science talk, and then looked over at Loki.

“You love them both.” Her and Bruce haven’t used the L-word yet, it’s still a little too soon for that, but she loves him. She’s not sure if she’s in love with him, but she knows she can’t be too far away from that. As for Tony, well…he’s Tony.

“Yeah, I do. How do you feel about shopping?” Loki raised a brow at her but swept one arm out, and she took that as his way of accepting her offer. Shopping for a god should take her mind off of things for a little while at least. Maybe she should bring Thor along too.


“You did what?!” Darcy’s eyes were wide as Doreen recounted the events of her shopping trip with Jo, Loki, and Thor. Skye was laughing next to her and kept wiping the corners of her eyes, and Doreen’s arms waved wildly as she spoke.

“They were selling real fur! Normally I can look past it, but it made Monkey Joe really upset. I just accidentally spilled my coffee on a few things; Thor’s the one that lit the place up. This one lady kept trying to grab this giant fur…thing, it was too big to be a coat, but she got shocked every time she tried to touch it. Turns out it was Thor doing a little miniaturized lightning thing, and the saleslady caught on after like the sixth time. So, next thing I know, me and Monkey Joe are thrown over Thor’s shoulder as he runs from this giant army of security guards. Then we—”

“Long story short, we’re banned from three malls. I’m pretty sure they put up posters with Thor and Doreen’s faces, possibly Monkey Joe’s too, but we still got Loki some decent clothes,” Jo said, effectively cutting Doreen off.

“Best day ever,” Doreen sighed and slumped back against the bar.

“We’re supposed to set good examples!” Steve called over his shoulder.

“Then you shouldn’t have let the Squirrel join the team,” Logan huffed. The two men were hovering over the stove, and it smelled like they were cooking something delicious. Homemade pizza?

“Hey! I can set a good example!” Doreen called back. Doreen, Jo, Darcy, and Skye were slumped against the bar in the kitchen as the guys cooked. It’s been a long day for Darcy, lots of running back and forth, so it felt good to relax with some of the girls of the house and listen to their antics. She’s still feeling a little tense though. Her first therapy session is after dinner. She knows that Skye’s first session was after lunch, but Skye hasn’t said anything about it. She’s acting the same as she normally does though, so that’s a good sign. Right?

“In Doreen’s defense, Thor caused the most attention,” Jo said and smiled at her fellow mutant. Huh. They’re a line of female mutants, the only ones in the house. Pepper, Natasha, and Maria are all human. Well, Illyana is a mutant too, but she’s just visiting.

“Hey, how’d the search for Illyana’s mentor go?” Darcy turned towards Skye as she asked it, and Skye bit the corner of her lip as she tapped her fingers against the bar.

“We were able to track her all the way to London. Last visual was outside of a hotel in late April. After that, it’s like she completely disappeared. All of her things were left in the room, but she just vanished. Tony’s still got programs running to locate her,” Skye said quietly.

"Tony will find her," Jo said confidently. Skye smiled a little at that, and Doreen rocked up onto her toes as Steve pulled a large pan out of the oven. Dinnertime! “Alright, girls, go wash up! Dinner will be on the table in ten. Maybe seven.”

“Such a good ma,” Darcy said and lightly patted Jo’s shoulder. She saw the older mutant smile as she walked past, and Darcy realized that Skye and Doreen were on either side of her. Jo stayed behind, probably to help Steve and Logan carry dinner into the dining room. So it’s just a normal ending to a normal day, or as normal as they get.


The beginning of dinner was fine, except for the way she kept randomly locking eyes with different team members sitting at the table. Or maybe it wasn’t random at all. Jo’s got a feeling that they’re all doing it on purpose, because they can’t help themselves. First, she’ll lock eyes with Steve. Who will then look down before glancing over at Maria. Who will clench her jaw and stare at her pizza like it pulled a gun on her. When Bruce catches her eyes, she can see the lingering fear in the green streaks in his brown eyes. Tony looks at her and smiles, but it’s more like a smirk that he’d give at a press conference. Loki, on the other hand, won’t look at any of them.

“What happened?” Jo and Tony both jumped at Natasha’s question, since they’d just been sharing another look, and Steve and Maria looked down the table at them with disappointed eyes.

“You told him?” Maria asked her.

“We have an honesty policy,” she explained.

“She told Bruce too!” Tony yelled.

“Tattletale!” She thought it as loud as she could, and this time Tony’s smile looked more like a grimace.

“I think the rest of us deserve to know what’s going on,” Natasha said calmly. That’s a bad sign. For most people, calm is a good sign. For Natasha, calm means that someone is about to get shot. Usually Jo.

“It’s about the scepter,” Steve started. Jo could already see Clint tensing up, but she stayed quiet as Maria explained about HYDRA taking over and confiscating things from SHIELD facilities. She’d been able to get a hold of Coulson, and the scepter was definitely missing. Jo’s pretty sure it didn’t just slip through a crack somewhere; HYDRA has it, which spells trouble for all of them if some HYDRA agent figures out how to use the thing.

“Bruce and I have already started looking for it, along with other HYDRA bases. We’ll keep open communication with Coulson’s team. We’ll handle this.” Tony said it with pure confidence once Maria was done speaking, but Jo can feel how worried he is. She can feel how worried all of them are, and it’s making something under her skin itch.

After that little bomb was dropped, dinner wound down and everyone separated. Pepper dragged Tony off to their bedroom, and Jo did the same with Bruce. She could tell that both geniuses wanted to be in the lab, but they’ll work themselves to death if they’re left unchecked. First, they’re gonna get a good night’s sleep and then tackle this newest problem in the morning. Jo crawled up the bed and pressed as close to Bruce as she possibly could, but she could tell that he was still lost in his head. She could vaguely hear equations and probabilities, and listening to him for more than ten seconds was starting to give her a headache. She pulled away from his mind and tightened her arms around him, and she felt his hands gripping her shoulder blades. Holding her tight against him. Grounding him.

“It’s going to be okay,” she whispered. Bruce didn’t reply, but he didn’t really have to. She’s not sure when, or how, but this isn’t going to end well.
♠ ♠ ♠
As you can tell, I did something different than my usual scene breaks. I realize that there are a lot of characters and that it probably gets confusing sometimes, so I thought it might make things easier if I put names up instead. If that’s okay with everyone, I’ll keep doing it. If you prefer the old scene breaks (xXx), let me know and I’ll change it back!

I know this chapter had a very ominous ending, and I’m sure you can guess why! (Hint: It rhymes with Mage of Multron.) The next chapter is going to be the therapy chapter though, which I know some of you have been looking forward to! I’m really excited to write it, so I’m hoping it won’t take long to post. After that, there’s going to be some skipping around as I try to work towards the plot. That being said, I’m open to add more to the story besides just the serious plot stuff!

If there’s anything that anyone wants to see, I’m happy to take requests! Do you want to see Logan grumpily following behind Darcy and Skye at the mall? Do you want Nat and Maria to be out with the group and scare the ever living daylights out of someone trying to hit on them? Do you want Doreen and Loki reading in a tree together? Do you want Clint to fall out of an air vent during a very serious conversation between [insert whoever you want here]? Do you want Bruce to walk in on Tony waltzing with Dum-E? I’m up for writing anything!