Archaic Kinds of Fun

some sense of normalcy

October 23, 2014


“That is a lot of food,” he said and looked down the length of the dining room table. He felt a chin hooking over his shoulder and looked over, and dark green eyes met his. Jo was grinning so wide that the skin around her eyes crinkled, and she rubbed her nose against his cheek.

“We weren’t sure what his favorite food was, so we just made a little bit of everything,” she explained.

“I think all of you did an amazing job,” Pepper said quietly from his other side. Thor, Darcy, Doreen, Jo, Natasha, and Steve all woke up earlier than usual to work on the breakfast feast. Everyone, minus two, was in the dining room now and looking at the fruits of their labor. Jo hummed quietly in his ear and then stepped back, and he looked over to see her leaning back against Bruce.

“Steve’s bringing him now. On the count of three?” Jo looked around the room, and Tony watched as everyone nodded. “One, two, three.”

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” Sam visibly jumped in the doorway and nearly tripped over Steve, who was standing just behind him, as the whole dining room yelled at him. A few were even still cheering and yelling out.

“What the—I didn’t tell any of you when my birthday was!” Sam yelled and pointed a finger around the room. Then his eyes stopped on Tony, and he realized that everyone else was looking at him too.

“It wasn’t me!” he quickly defended.

“It was me,” Skye said with a proud smile. Sam’s glare softened, somewhat, and then he looked at the table.

“Why is there so much food?” Darcy and Doreen started talking at the same time about how they came up with what breakfast dishes to cook, and everyone slowly moved so that they were sitting in their usual seats. Pepper was on one side of him, and Bruce was on his other side with Jo in his lap. He felt toes digging under his thigh, but Jo was stuffing half of a pancake in her mouth when he looked over.

“Oh, Tony, you have to try this,” Pepper said and held her fork up. He eyed the gooey looking roll, shrugged, and ate the thing in one bite. Caramel. Not bad.

“So, not that I’m complaining, but why the big birthday breakfast?” Sam asked several minutes later. There was a dent in the amount of food on the table, a small one, but some of them were starting to slow down. Jo, Bruce, Thor, Loki, Steve, and Doreen were still eating at a steady rate though.

“Because you’ve put up with us for weeks now and deserved a treat,” Jo explained around a mouthful of eggs.

“You’ve been helping us, and we wanted to thank you,” Maria added.

“So what do you want for your birthday, Wilson?” Natasha asked. Sam blinked as he looked around the table, thinking it over, and then his face split in a smile. Tony knew that smile. That smile was promising trouble.

“I wanna go dancing.” Sound exploded again as everyone started talking at once, and it sounded like a few house members were already planning an outing for Saturday night.

“You good with that, boss?” Jo was talking excitedly with Clint, her usual dancing partner, but the sound of her mental voice was clear. It was stronger than it used to be too. It almost sounded like her speaking voice now.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Pepper was talking down the table to Maria and Natasha, something about which club would be best, so Tony focused his attention on his bodyguard.

“Nightclubs generally serve alcohol, and I know you’ve avoided places like that. So you don’t have to go if it’s too much for you.” He wouldn’t lie, at least to himself this time. He worried about slipping, about relapsing, when they first moved back to Manhattan. Sometimes he still worried about relapsing, but he could handle a night out dancing.

“I’ll be fine. You’ll be there to keep me safe, right?” The toes tucked under his thigh wiggled, which felt weird but still somehow comforting, and he realized that Jo and Clint were scribbling down new dance moves they wanted to try on a napkin.

“You know it, boss.”

“You’re the best bodyguard ever, sweetheart.” More wiggling was her only reply to that, but it was the only reply he really needed.

October 25, 2014


“How many people even live here?” Darcy asked. She was spread out over her bed with her head slightly hanging over the side; across the room, Skye was on her own bed in the same position so that their eyes could meet upside-down.

“Too many,” Skye answered.

“Sixteen, Miss Darcy,” JARVIS clarified. Skye whistled quietly, and Darcy tried to go over all the names in her head. Sixteen sounded about right though.

“Is everyone going?” Darcy asked. Tonight was the big night. The only present that Sam asked for was a night out dancing, so that was what they were going to do. Darcy was half convinced that some of them were going to wind up in jail before the night was over, but it should be fun.

“I think Logan said he was going to pass,” Skye said with a quiet laugh.

“I’m guessing he phrased that differently.” Logan was a cool guy, once you got past his gruff nature. Darcy had seen movies and shows with grandfathers in them, but Logan was nothing like that. Maybe because he didn’t look like a grandfather?

“Jo! They’re just lying around!” Darcy and Skye both jumped before scrambling to sit up on their beds, and Illyana smiled at them from their now open doorway. Darcy liked the younger mutant; she’d been hanging around for the past month or so, and Illyana liked telling Darcy and Skye about the school. Darcy had no idea that there were so many different kinds of mutations. So she was used to Illyana popping up out of nowhere. The mutant was light on her feet.

“Lying around?! Come on, kids, up and at ‘em!” Jo yelled as she walked into the room behind Illyana.

“Yeah, it’s time to make ourselves even hotter than we already are!” Doreen added and closed the bedroom door behind her.

“You’re here to help us get ready?” Skye asked and looked at the three extra bodies in their room.

“Duh,” Jo drawled and rolled her eyes. “One of the best things about going out, is getting ready. To the closets!”


“Not that one! Wear the red one so we can be twinsies!” Pepper fought down a smile at the sound of Jo’s voice drifting from the other side of the floor, and she could hear Darcy laughing.

“That woman has never learned the art of subtlety,” Maria said quietly while looking towards the door.

“You never had to go on a mission with her.” Natasha said it while flipping through some of the dresses in the closet, so only Pepper got to see Maria roll her eyes.

"I went on missions with her," Maria huffed. Pepper caught the dress tossed her way and smoothed her fingers over the white silky fabric.

“You supervised her! I had to go out in the field with her!” Natasha threw out another dress, something black and red, and Maria easily caught it.

“Is Jo that difficult in the field?” Pepper asked and looked over at Maria. She knew that Jo was strong and went on countless SHIELD missions, but she couldn’t remember any of the details. Those memories were gone now.

“Only on covert ops,” Natasha answered as she finally stepped out of the closet. A black dress was draped over her arm, and she smiled as she looked at the other two women in the room. “Now, let’s focus on getting ready. I want people to swoon when they see us.”


Not for the first time, and probably not for the last time, Jo smoothed her hands down the length of her red dress. Maybe going strapless wasn’t such a good idea? The dress did cling to her and didn’t move that much, but she always worried a little when she wore something strapless. Her fingers hit bare skin before making it halfway down her thighs, and she let out a quiet sigh. The dress was fine. Instead of touching the dress again, she lifted her hands and carefully touched her hair. It was put up, to keep it out of her way, and she checked to make sure that the up-do was holding.

“I didn’t know tanks fidgeted,” Doreen whispered to her. It sounded like she was holding in a laugh, so Jo looked over. Sure enough, Doreen was biting down on the corner of her bottom lip but still smiling. Jo nudged the much shorter woman with her shoulder, and Doreen rocked to the side with a quiet laugh.

“I’m not fidgeting,” Jo whispered back.

“Good, because you look hot so there’s no need.” Jo rolled her eyes, and Doreen poked her in the ribs. “It’s your turn to tell me that I look hot.”

“You look adorable,” Jo grinned. Doreen threw her head back in a laugh, and Jo watched the way that her brown hair waved with the movement. Her hair had a bit of a red tint in the light. Adorable wasn’t wrong, but Jo could also admit that Doreen was killing it in her little black dress. The fluffy brown tail wrapped around her waist like a belt was just so cute though!

“I bet we’ll be able to cause a riot,” Doreen said once she stopped laughing. The other woman was looking at the three giggling mutants on the other side of the room, and Jo looked over. Darcy was wearing a strapless red dress just like Jo’s, but the red was a little darker. It also matched her lipstick. Skye’s dress had small sleeves and was a dark pink, and Illyana was wearing a dark blue dress covered with white flowers. All three of them had decided to keep their hair down, and looking at them made Jo think of her teenage years at the school. Reminded her of nights when they would get dressed up and sneak out of the school, to go mingle with humans and pretend to be normal.

“Well, if we don’t, they sure will,” Jo said and tilted her head to the other side of the foyer.

As she spoke, Pepper’s quiet laugh filled the space. Pepper and Maria both had their hair up, so Jo wasn’t the only one that liked to put her hair up when she knew she was going to be doing a lot of moving around. Jo was pretty sure that she could never rock a white dress like Pepper was doing though. The skirt of Maria’s dress was black, and the top was black and red with a single strap around her neck. Natasha went all out though, which didn’t surprise Jo in the least. Natasha was also the only person Jo knew that had actually caused a riot just by walking into a room. In the strapless black lacy dress she was wearing right now? She just might cause another one tonight.

“What’s the policy on hitting on people we live with?” Doreen asked. Jo raised a brow as she looked at the woman, because she was dating someone that she lived with. Well, they shared a bedroom now, but they started out as roommates. Doreen just laughed again, and it was good to see the mutant so carefree. Over the past few weeks, Doreen had opened up a little more and started spending time with everyone in the mansion. Yesterday, she walked in on Doreen and Natasha doing yoga in the gym. She left before Natasha could shoot her.

“Alright, ladies! Tell me I look fabulous!” Sam yelled after the elevator opened. Jo wanted to look for Bruce, but she took a moment to look Sam over first as he did a full spin in the center of the foyer. The gray pants he was wearing fit him just right, and the plain black shirt he was wearing had the first few buttons undone.

“You clean up okay, Wilson,” Natasha said. It was counteracted by Darcy, Skye, and Illyana wolf whistling at him. Jo grinned at the display as she looked past Sam, and she quickly cataloged everyone else.

Steve was in dark blue slacks and a plain gray shirt, with a blue leather jacket, and he kept shifting from foot to foot. Thor was just in black slacks and a white v-neck shirt, and his hair was pulled back in a bun. Loki was in dark green slacks and a black button up, and he looked bored as he stood next to Thor. On Thor’s other side, Clint was bouncing lightly on his feet. Dark jeans and an untucked dark blue button-up; her favorite dance partner went casual. She caught Tony’s eyes next and smiled as she realized he was the only one of the guys that actually dressed up. Black slacks, black jacket, and a bright blue shirt. (She couldn’t see the light of the arc reactor through his shirt.) Tony was already moving towards Pepper, and Jo rocked up onto her toes since she was wearing flats to look for Bruce. There.

“You look…” Jo raised a brow as Bruce stopped in front of her, and she ran her palms over his chest until she was lightly holding his shoulders under the black jacket he was wearing. “…beautiful.”

“You look pretty good yourself, Doc,” she said and ducked forward to give him a quick kiss. He was wearing dark jeans (that Clint made him wear, she could hear him thinking) and a light gray shirt under his black suit jacket.

“The car is here,” JARVIS announced. Jo could hear some of the girls whooping followed by the sound of heels on the floor, and she let go of Bruce’s shoulders so that she could grab his hand instead.

“Ready?” she asked him. Bruce smiled and nodded, and Jo pressed herself against his side as they all started out the front door. Here’s hoping that tonight didn’t end with anyone in jail.


“This is terrifying.” Tony laughed next to him, and Pepper hummed on his other side because she was drinking a bottle of water.

“Where’s your sense of adventure?” Tony asked. Tony got them a secured VIP area on the second floor of the nightclub, and the three of them were standing at a railing and overlooking the dance floor below. Everyone else from the house was dancing.

“Jo is the adventurous one in our relationship.” Bruce smiled when Tony clapped his upper arm and then slung his arm around his shoulders, and Pepper sighed quietly after finishing her water.

“Our girl does know how to get down. Her and birdboy are show-offs,” Tony said. When Bruce glanced over, the other man was smiling as he looked downwards. Jo and Clint were in the middle of the dance floor, and Bruce didn’t even know people could move quite like that. The two of them were getting plenty of attention, but so were their other housemates.

Loki was surrounded by Darcy, Skye, and Illyana. The three younger women were dancing around the god in a circle, but the god was taking it in stride. (Bruce wasn’t worried about Loki; Hulk was stronger than him, and Jo liked him.) Doreen was leading Thor in a waltz, and Bruce could actually hear Thor’s laugh over the sound of the music. Maria and Natasha were having a dance-off with Sam and Steve, and Bruce couldn’t tell who’s winning. There were plenty of other people in the nightclub, the whole building was packed with moving bodies, but people still stopped to watch the antics of his housemates. Bruce didn’t think any of them had been recognized though.

“I think it’s good they’re having fun,” Pepper said and leaned on the railing next to Bruce. Tony started to say something, but he was interrupted before he could get a single word out.

“Brucie Baby!” The voice was overly deep, but Bruce still recognized it. He turned around slowly, saw Tony and Pepper doing the same, and looked across the VIP area.

“Is that?” Tony asked quietly. Bruce hummed as he nodded, but he didn’t look away from the newcomer.

“Wade! What brings you here?” Bruce asked. That was definitely Deadpool, in his usual red leather suit, but he was wearing a three-piece suit over the leather. Bright red slacks, bright red buttoned-up jacket, white shirt underneath, and a black tie.

“Like I’d miss dance night! C’mon, Jolly Green! Let’s go cut a rug!” Bruce braced himself as Deadpool suddenly charged, and arms locked around him as he was tackled over the edge of the railing. He could hear a few people screaming in alarm, but Deadpool managed to flip them so that he landed on his feet. Deadpool landed on his feet; Bruce was being held above Deadpool’s head with the mercenary’s hands locked just above his hips.

“Dirty dancing?! Is that a challenge?!” Clint yelled.

“You okay?” Jo asked him quietly. He could see her and Clint standing next to him, paused mid-dip, and dark eyes carefully watched him as Deadpool lowered him to the ground.

“Just enjoying a dance with your Uncle Wade,” he thought back.

“I’mma wipe the floor with you, Clinton!” Deadpool yelled and moved Bruce into position.

“Tango-off it is!” Clint yelled back. Bruce could hear Jo laughing as Deadpool took the lead in their tango, and Bruce decided to move along.


“You sure you don’t want to go back down there?” he asked Pepper. It’d been a couple of hours since Deadpool’s sudden appearance, and he and Pepper were the only ones in the VIP area again. All of the others were still down below and dancing the night away.

“I’m sure, Tony. I’m used to stuffy fundraisers, and no one at those dances quite like this,” Pepper said with a quiet laugh. Her heels were on a table behind them, and she had one arm looped around his so that she could rest her head on his shoulder.

“It’s like living with children,” Tony agreed. It was almost hard to keep track of them all; they kept switching dance partners after every couple of lines from the pulsing music. So none of them had a set dance partner at this point.

“It’s nice seeing them all so carefree. I think we needed this. All of us.” Things in the house had slowly started to ease into some sense of normalcy; everyone was used to walking into a room and seeing Loki now, and they’d all been working on their separate issues. It was subtle, but he thought they were becoming stronger. They were definitely becoming closer.

The music shifted into something slower, and Tony pressed his temple against the top of Pepper’s head as he watched the people he lived with separate into dancing pairs. Natasha claimed the birthday boy first, and Tony could see Sam grinning as he held the assassin close. Illyana was dancing with Deadpool, and the strange mercenary was letting the much smaller girl lead. Maria was leading Steve next to them, and both of them were smiling as Maria told Steve how to move. Doreen’s bare feet were braced on top of the boots that Thor was wearing, and they were moving in slow circles. Next to them, Skye and Loki were dancing with their backs straight and chins up. Darcy was dancing with her head on Clint’s shoulder, and Tony felt his eyes narrow for just a moment. Some part of him was very protective over Darcy and Skye, so he was going to keep a close eye on Loki and Clint. He saw Jo and Bruce last, and the two of them swayed easily together.

“C’mon, boss. I know you’ve got one more dance in you.” He saw the edge of Jo’s smile before Bruce turned them, and he felt his own smile as he quickly turned and caught Pepper in his arms. Her laugh was soft and caused some fallen hair to brush her cheeks, and Tony tightened his arms around Pepper’s waist as they began to move.

“I’m doing this because I want to,” Tony thought for Jo to hear. He could feel amusement before the connection between them closed, and Tony pressed his smile against the top of Pepper’s head.


“Best. Night. Ever!” Darcy and Skye yelled in unison as they walked into the mansion. The two girls were leaning against each other as they giggled, and Thor was walking behind them just in case one of them fell over. Behind the three of them, Loki was carrying a sleeping Illyana and Clint was carrying a nearly asleep Doreen.

“It was fun,” Maria said quietly. Steve’s blue leather jacket was draped over her bare shoulders, and he was carrying Maria’s heels.

“It’s too bad Deadpool took off. Dude might be crazy, but he can dance,” Sam said. That made Jo smile, because she really did love her Uncle Wade. Even if he was crazy.

“Let’s just be thankful he didn’t get us arrested,” Natasha said. She had one arm looped through Sam’s, and the two of them were swaying as they walked to the elevator. Jo hung back as the elevator filled up, and she felt heat along her back.

“Go ahead. We’ll go up next,” Tony said over her head. The elevator doors closed, and Jo leaned back against Tony as his arms went around her waist.

“There are way too many people in this house,” she said sleepily as Bruce stepped up next to her. Pepper was standing on his other side, and their arms were laced so that Pepper could lean her head against Bruce’s chest. The woman looked half asleep, so it looked like Bruce was the only thing holding her up.

“I’m working on it,” Tony mumbled and dropped his cheek on top of her head. Bruce hummed, so the two of them were probably up to something. Jo would question them later. The elevator doors opened again, and Tony walked the two of them inside. Bruce was holding Pepper in his arms now, and Pepper’s loose hair brushed Jo’s arm as the elevator started upwards.

“He’s very warm,” Pepper said quietly. Definitely more asleep than awake. Jo heard herself giggle as she slumped back against Tony, and she reached over to run her fingers through Pepper’s unbound hair.

“Yeah, Bruce runs a little hotter than average. He’s toasty warm,” Jo said as Tony snorted a laugh behind her. The elevator doors opened again, and she stumbled out with Tony’s arms still wrapped securely around her waist. The door to Darcy and Skye’s room was closed, and the floor was quiet. The four of them paused in the center of the living room, and Jo had to force her eyes to open.

“Trade?” Tony asked.

“Trade,” Bruce agreed. Jo felt like she was floating in open space when Tony let her go, and she watched as Pepper was moved from Bruce’s arms to Tony’s. Bruce swept her up before she could fall back, and she wrapped her arms around his neck with a quiet sigh.

“Night, Tony, Pepper. Love you,” Jo said as she nuzzled against Bruce’s chest.

“Love you too, sweetheart!” Tony called out as he walked towards his room.

“Love!” Pepper was able to get out before their bedroom door closed. Jo’s eyes closed as Bruce carried her into their room, and she swayed again once she was set on her feet. Together, her and Bruce were able to peel her dress off. The tee shirt she slept in the night before was at the foot of the bed, so she tugged that on before collapsing against the mattress. She wanted to close her eyes and sleep, but she forced her eyes to stay open so that she could watch Bruce undress.

“Tonight was not what I expected,” Bruce said once his shirt was off.

“Oh?” she asked as he popped the button on his jeans. She might have felt dead tired, but she was never too tired to watch Bruce get naked.

“No one was arrested,” he clarified. Jo couldn’t help the loud laugh that came out of her, but she did manage to keep her eyes open as Bruce slipped on a pair of Hulk shorts. In all honesty, she was surprised that no one got arrested as well. Statistically speaking, they had to have at least one good night, right? Then again, she was sure the cops would’ve showed up if the night out had been Clint’s idea.

“There’s always next time,” she said as Bruce slipped under the sheets to join her. Jo immediately moved over and plastered herself against him, and Bruce’s arms wrapped around her to tug her that much closer. “Hey, Bruce?”

“Hmm?” JARVIS turned the lights off for them, because JARVIS was amazing, and Jo felt herself slipping even closer towards sleep.

“I’d like to schedule some morning sex.” Her body rocked as Bruce laughed quietly, and she reached up so that she could bury one hand in his curls.

“I’ll pencil you in.” Jo had a comeback, but she fell asleep before she could get it out.

October 26, 2014


“You are alright, младшая сестра?” Blue eyes rolled, even though she knew her big brother could see, and she slumped back against her headboard. Even though she got plenty of sleep, she still felt a little sore from her fun night of dancing.

“Jo takes her bodyguard duties very seriously,” Illyana answered and looked down at her wiggling toes.

“Has there been any progress?” Peter asked her. She’d been living at Avengers Mansion for over a month now, way longer than she planned on, but she liked it here. It was different from the school, mostly because there weren’t a bunch of kids running around everywhere.

“None yet, but Tony seems determined.” She knew that there was a program that was constantly running to look for her mentor, and Tony assured her every day that he wasn’t giving up. He kept telling her that people didn’t just disappear, and most of the time she didn’t even remind him that she could completely disappear without a trace.

“You should come home. Stark can call if there are any developments.”

“Nonsense! You’re perfectly safe there, right, Illyana?” Kitty asked as she came into view. She was bouncing little Evan in her arms and glaring over at her husband; Illyana loved that Kitty was usually on her side, because Peter had always been the overprotective type.

“Right. And I like it here, Peter. Loki’s even been helping me some,” she shrugged. She got that the god did some really horrible things, but she’d listened in on enough conversations to figure out that he didn’t have much of a choice. Well, maybe he did, but he went with his best option. He had a dry sense of humor and hardly ever gave her a straight answer to her questions, but he had been helping her with her astral projection.

“They are older than you and invite danger.” Illyana resisted the urge to roll her eyes again, because she could hear the worry in Peter’s voice. Yeah, the Avengers lived here. They’d gone out a couple of times to round up some of those escaped prisoners, but the fights were over quickly and without any major bloodshed.

“They’re a family, and I like spending time with them.” When she wasn’t bugging Loki for help, she spent most of her time with either Skye (and Tony by extension) or Clint. Skye liked to talk while she hacked, and her and Clint were working their way through everything in the arcade.

“Take care of yourself, Illyana,” Peter said quietly. That was his way of saying that he’d back off, for now.

“And tell Jo and Logan we said hey!” Kitty added before the call disconnected. Illyana fell sideways onto her bed and pulled her legs up; she was gonna get some more sleep before trying to face anyone.


“Hmm? Wassit?” she mumbled and carefully started to stretch. She could feel Bruce pressed along her back, because she was on her side, and she rubbed her cheek against her pillow. The sound of her alarm continued to go off, and she growled quietly as she fought to get her arm free of the sheets. Once her arm was free, she slammed her fist down against her alarm clock. Since the clock was made by Tony after she broke her fifth alarm clock in so many weeks, it didn’t break as she hit the snooze button. Her fingers scrambled against the durable little thing so that she could switch it completely off, because she wasn’t doing this all over again in a few minutes.

“Time to get up?” Bruce mumbled behind her. There was a good chance that someone was downstairs and working on breakfast, so they really should start trying to wake up. Then again, there was an alternative.

“Not yet,” she said and twisted around. Bruce slowly opened his eyes, and she loved the way his smile slowly formed as their eyes met. Her fingers instantly moved up into his hair, and she could feel one hand slowly tracing along her spine under the tee shirt she was wearing.

“Not yet?” Bruce asked. She leaned up so that she could run her nose along Bruce’s jawline and then nipped at the stubbled skin.

“I seem to recall an appointment that we both carefully made before passing out,” she whispered against his ear. Bruce easily moved onto his back as she slid over to cover him, and she took a moment to enjoy the heat of his skin before getting her knees under her and sitting up. Hands rose up to grip her hips, loosely, and she reached up with one hand to pull her shirt off.

They had to work together to pull off his shorts and her panties, and Jo would have tumbled off the side of the bed if Bruce hadn’t been holding onto her hips. They were still laughing when Jo shifted and rocked her hips down, and Jo’s laugh was stopped by a quiet sigh as Bruce slipped inside of her. This was her favorite way to start the day. With slow rolls of her hips and the slight flexing of her thighs while Bruce’s hands mapped out every inch of her skin. One hand tightly gripped her thigh, and Bruce’s other hand brushed her lower stomach before dipping lower so that he could press precise circles against her. Jo tightened her hold on his knees as a quiet cry was ripped out of her throat, and she was still shaking when Bruce wrapped an arm around her waist and flipped her onto her back.

“Good?” She reached up to grab handfuls of his hair as she arched up into him, and her heels dug down against the mattress as she thrust her hips up. It was her way of showing him that she was more than good; she was feeling so good that she couldn’t even form words, and she bit down on Bruce’s shoulder when his next thrust rocked the bed. The pace they set was faster and harder than earlier, but it was still perfect. They pulled at each other as Bruce moved against her, and Jo actually screamed when Bruce grabbed one of her legs and pulled it over his shoulder. It was a good thing she was so flexible.

Jo dug her heel down against Bruce’s shoulder as her second orgasm rolled through her, and she went completely boneless as Bruce kept moving against her. Her body was still shaking with the aftershocks when Bruce groaned against the sweat slick skin of her neck, and he twisted to kiss her ankle before letting her leg fall back down to the mattress. Jo was quick to wrap her arms around his shoulders to hold him against her, for just a little bit longer, and he fell against her with his head pillowed on her chest.

Definitely the best way to start the day.


“I’m going to get some fresh air!” she called out into the lab. The music lowered, barely, and Tony’s head popped out from behind a table.

“Need an escort?” Things in the house had calmed down, they’d all settled into habits and routines, but Tony still didn’t like for most of them to leave the house on their own.

“I’m just gonna get some fresh air and a smoothie. Want anything?” Normally she’d ask Darcy, Illyana, or Jo to come with her. Darcy was out shopping with Doreen because Doreen said she needed some winter clothes, Illyana and Clint had been locked in the arcade since lunch a couple of hours ago, and Jo followed Bruce up to his lab so there was no way that Skye was going to go interrupt them.

“Pineapple smoothie?” Tony fluttered his lashes at her, and it might have been endearing if his whole body wasn’t streaked in grease. Jo was gonna have fun scrubbing his hair tonight, and Skye really hoped that Pepper wasn’t kidding about buying him some cotton-candy conditioner.

“You got it. Be back soon!” Tony yelled out a goodbye as she walked out of the lab, and she took in a slow breath once she was in the elevator. She was dressed in a pair of black skinny jeans and a thin purple sweater, she was even wearing her favorite pair of black boots, so she was good to go.

It was only a little after three, so the sun was still shining and there were still people everywhere. She walked past her and Jo’s usual smoothie stop, because the older mutant still went running with her every morning, and the crowd thinned a little as she got closer to her destination. She caught sight of wide shoulders and a blue baseball cap, and she grinned a little to herself as she walked up to the bench. It didn’t happen often, but she ran into her mysterious stranger every once in a while. There was no pattern to when their paths crossed, but Skye always felt a little better after one of their meetings. She still hadn’t seen his face or anything like that, but she thought of them as friends.

“You’re humming. Good day?” her stranger asked after she was sitting next to him. His backpack was strapped to him, but she couldn’t see his notebook.

“Kinda average, actually, but last night was amazing!” The stranger kept his face angled away from her as she talked about the Avengers, plus a few others, dancing the previous night. He laughed quietly every once in a while, a rough sound like he didn’t laugh very often, and Skye’s arms waved wildly through the air as she described some of the more outlandish dance moves. When she was done speaking, she fell back against the bench and took a few measured breaths.

“Sounds like you’re not scared of getting too close anymore,” he said once it was clear she was done talking. She made a sound close to a snort and crossed her arms.

“No, I’m still terrified of losing everyone that I’m getting close to. I just decided to enjoy however much time I get with them and to stop planning escape routes,” she said with a small laugh.

She actually had Sam to thank for that decision. She realized that every time she felt like running away was after she had a “bonding moment” with someone in the house. Like the first time Tony jokingly said that she was the favorite at dinner; the comment made Darcy squawk while Jo assured her that Darcy was still her favorite, and Skye had laughed along until it hit her later that Tony was a tiny bit serious. Not about liking her more than Darcy, he loved them evenly as he promised after Darcy pouted at the dinner table, but he was serious about loving her. Caring about her. It freaked her out, because she loved him too. Looked up to him and everything. Which was when she got the urge to run away. And that was just one example. She had a notebook of her own filled with several more, but she was getting better.

“Good. That’s…good,” the stranger said quietly. Whenever they met up, he never really talked. Not about himself or anyone else in his life; he normally asked Skye questions and then listened to her ramble. “So you’re happy?”

“Huh?” She’d been staring at his chin, which was about the only part of his face that she could see, so she missed the question.

“Are you happy?” She woke up this morning to Darcy bouncing on her bed and yelling about pancakes; Jo went running with her after breakfast; Logan let Darcy and her pull him into the theater to watch Disney movies; Jo made her and Tony homemade pizza rolls for lunch; she’d get to have a loud and crazy dinner with a bunch of superheroes later.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m happy. Are you?” She watched the stranger’s body expand and deflate as he sighed, and he looked up at the sky after turning his face completely away from her.

“You should head back before it gets too late,” he said instead. The answer made her feel a little sad, because she liked the stranger, but she wasn’t going to force the issue. Something told her that if she ever pushed too hard, he’d disappear on her.

“Feel like walking me?” she asked as she got to her feet. His fingers flexed against the hold he had on his knees, and she knew his answer before he said anything. He wasn’t going with her.

“Not today. See you next time.” He was on his feet and walking away before she could come up with something, anything, to say. She watched his back for a moment, but he soon melted into the crowd and disappeared.

“See ya.”


She eased down her knitting needles and rubbed her fists against her eyes. She was sitting on the couch on her balcony, and the soft light spilling out of the open doorway from her bedroom was all the light she had to help her knit. She came up here after dinner, she’d have to drag Tony out of the lab in about an hour and wash his grease-caked hair, but she wanted to finish her knitting before Christmas. She was working on a sweater for Pepper tonight. Green eyes flicked to the side and down a little, and she felt her stomach clench with heat and erupt with Hulk-sized butterflies. Since her legs and knitting equipment took up the whole of the couch, Bruce pulled out her yoga mat and some spare blankets so that he could sit on the floor of the balcony. He was working on a tablet instead of locking himself away in his lab tonight, and she could hear him humming quietly as he worked. Sounded like the last song they danced to last night, the slow one. His back was propped up against the balcony railing so that he was facing her, and the tablet was highlighting his strong features and the little bit of gray in his hair at his temples. Bruce looked so at ease, so at peace, and Jo could hear Hulk quietly snoring in the back of his mind.

“I love you.” The words just popped out, without permission, and Jo felt her eyes widening as Bruce slowly lifted his head to look at her. His glasses had slipped down to the end of his nose, and his brown eyes looked a little darker than usual as he looked up at her.

“What?” Bruce looked just as shocked as she felt, because neither one of them had dropped the L-word yet.

“Sorry, it’s just…you’re so, and I’m, we…I love you. I really love you.”

“Since when?” Jo was starting to think that Bruce was in shock, which was not good. He was their medic, so who did she call if something happened to him?

“I don’t know? Since you let me cover your nipples in chocolate syrup? Or maybe it was when you withheld shower sex until I cleaned the drain? Or that night you hummed for me because I couldn’t get to sleep after another nightmare? Or when you pulled my chair out on our first date? Or when I was laying on a table covered in bullet holes?” She knew that they’d only officially been together for a little over two months, but she also knew that she loved Bruce Banner.

“Covered in bullet holes? When we first met?” He was definitely in shock, and Jo was starting to feel a little lightheaded herself. Maybe she should try breathing?

“I was all hazy from the healing and blood loss, but you looked so adorable when you were all confused. You were wearing this faded blue shirt, I think it was the one I ripped that day Betty visited, and your hair was sticking up all over the place. I don’t know when it happened, it just did. I love you, Bruce Banner.” Thor help her, because she meant it. Maybe for the first time in her life.

“More than Thor’s pancakes?” He smiled as he moved over towards her, and Jo narrowed her eyes as he stayed kneeling in front of the couch. Smiling was a good sign though.

“Don’t push it.” She tapped the end of his nose before pulling his glasses off, and she carefully placed them with her abandoned knitting equipment. Then she reached up to bury her fingers in his unruly curls, because she could never resist playing with Bruce’s hair.


“I’m not expecting you to say it back. You can say it when it feels right to you.” Bruce grabbed her arms right above her elbows to gently pull her down, and she felt his smile curl against her lips. She kept her eyes closed as he pulled back, because he didn’t go far. His forehead pressed tight against hers, and she flexed her fingers in his hair.

“I wanna show you something. Can you see?” Bruce’s door was wide open, so she kept her eyes closed as she focused. Thoughts were getting easier to hear, but seeing? That still took a lot of concentration.

“Do you love her?” That was Logan’s voice…in the den. Jo could see the den, but Logan and Bruce were the only ones there. It was the night that she finished creating the mental links; the night they found out Coulson was alive, and she cleared the new SHIELD.

“I don’t know. We know everything about each other, good and bad, and she’s still the first thing I want to see in the morning. The last thing I want to see at night. She loves Hulk.” She could hear Logan’s familiar huff, a deep growling sound, and this…this was right before Bruce came to get her from Maria’s room.

“And Hulk loves her?” Bruce nodded, and Logan continued. “How can one side of you love her, and the other side not know?”

“I don’t know.”

“I do. Hulk is instinctual, and you think too much. Love isn’t logical, Banner. It just is. Try to keep that in mind.”

Jo groaned against the slight pressure on her mind as the den faded, and she could taste Bruce when she licked her lips. She wanted to ask what that meant, why he wanted to show her that, but Bruce shushed her before showing her another memory. No, not another memory, just a continuation. Same night. The same night over a month ago.

Jo was stripped down to just a tee shirt and a pair of panties, and she was fast asleep against the sheets. She could see herself mumbling, and she watched as she made grabby hands towards Bruce. Once he was stripped down, he joined her in the bed. Jo was a little amused as she watched herself immediately curl around him, despite being dead asleep, and Bruce rested his cheek on top of her head.

“I love you.” Bruce said the words so easily, like he’d been saying them since he learned how to speak, and Jo felt her breath stutter in her chest.

“Love you too, Brucie baby.”

“I! You! But that was forever ago!” she yelled as she pulled back. Bruce was still smiling up at her, and she still had her hands buried in his hair. “Why didn’t you say anything after I woke up?”

“Because I needed to know that you meant it,” he said quietly. She knew Bruce, knew everything about him, so that made sense. Some part of him would always be prepared for rejection, for fear and doubt, and she was going to do her best to prove that part of him wrong. She tightened her fingers and ducked down for a quick kiss.

“I love you, Bruce,” she said against his lips. She could feel Bruce smile, and hands reached up to gently cup her face.

“I love you too, Jo.”
♠ ♠ ♠
The last chapter was mostly serious, so I decided to have some fun with this chapter. I hope everyone enjoyed it! I definitely had fun writing it, and I can't pick a favorite scene because I love them all. The next chapter is going to have some serious stuff in it, but it's going to mostly be a fun chapter too. Enjoy these fun chapters while you can, because I'll be moving the plot along soon!