Archaic Kinds of Fun

that stark luck

June 14, 2014

“C’mon, Doc, back me up here.” Jo swung her legs back and forth as she stared Tony down from her tabletop seat, and the billionaire stared right back from his little stool.

“She’s not wrong, Tony. I think some fresh air would be good for you.” Jo fist pumped and started singing the Doc’s praises, but Tony’s loud mouth interrupted her mid-verse.

“I get fresh air all the time! We fell asleep on the roof a few nights ago!”

“Oh, that so does not count! Tell ‘im, Doc, that doesn’t count.”

“It doesn’t. You need to get out of the house some, Tony. It’s not healthy.” Jo is pretty sure that the Doc doesn’t have much room to talk when it comes to healthy behavior, but he’s on her side so she’s not going to call him out on it. Not this time anyway.

“The last time I left the house, someone tried to shoot me. You got shot!” Tony yelled and pointed at her.

“I’ve triple checked with Fury, and there’s no one coming after you.” Tony opened his mouth, probably to argue further, but Jo raised her hand so she could continue. “I also had JARVIS do some hacking to back up Fury’s claim, and Clint did some undercover work too. No one is trying to kill you right now.”

“It sounds as if Jo has everything covered. You deserve to have some fun.” Oh, she really loves the Doc. Tony isn’t glaring at her anymore and is instead stroking his goatee, which means that he’s actually thinking about it. Jo crossed her fingers, and then her toes for a little extra luck, and watched on as Tony’s face softened.

“Okay. Maybe, maybe!, we can go out for an hour or two.”

“Yes! Doc, you are the absolute best!” Jo cheered. Tony just looked up at her like she was crazy, but Jo’s past caring. She’s been trying to get Tony out of the house for the past week, but he kept turning her down. Maybe she should’ve called the Doc sooner. “I’ve gotta go put on some pants!”

“Wait! Where are we going?!” She didn’t bother to answer Tony’s question as she ran from the lab, because they don’t call it a surprise trip for nothin’.


“I had to explain to Bruce that I’m not fraternizing with my paid bodyguard.” Jo snorted out a laugh and then tried to control her face as she looked over at her boss. He raised a brow at her too innocent look, and Jo lost it. She gripped the steering wheel with two hands as loud laughter shook her entire body, and she could hear Tony huffing angrily next to her.

“Sorry, boss. It’s just…me and you? What would make the Doc think that?” She slumped back in the seat and let her other hand rest on the car door, since the top is down on Tony’s fancy little convertible.

“Maybe because a certain someone keeps laying around my lab without any pants on,” Tony said with a pointed look. Oh yeah, she does have a bad habit of doing that. Jo just has a small hatred of pants and doesn’t see the point in wearing any in her own home, and Tony’s house is her home.

“You did explain to him that there’s no way that you and I would ever…you know?” This time it was Tony’s turn to laugh, and Jo poked him on the cheek. Tony swatted her hand away, so Jo lightly pulled on some of his hair and then went back to driving.

“Of course I did. Like I would ever—I mean, you’re definitely, uh—”

“Just stop right there, before I have to pull this car over.” Tony grinned at her, wide enough to make his eyes crinkle, and Jo rolled her eyes with a smile of her own.

“So, where are we going?” Jo just kept smiling and didn’t say a word.

Her silence lasted all of five minutes, because her boss is a man used to getting what he wants. Not that he got their destined location out of her, but he did get her talking again. Then, to distract him, Jo got him talking about his numerous experiments. Once he starts talking about alloys and electrical whatevers, she normally tunes out and just lets him go. Tony loves to hear himself talk, so he normally doesn’t notice that she’s not really paying attention. It’s a practice that works well for both of them. Besides, she needs a little time to think. To be honest, she didn’t think Tony was ever going to leave the house. Which would be problematic if he was still planning on moving to the other side of the country.

It’s been a little over four months since Tony actually left the Malibu home. They’ve walked around outside, but stuck to the property lines, and spent a few nights on the roof…but that’s it. If Tony needs any materials, they’re delivered. Food? Delivered. Business? Online. The last time he left, he got shot at. She actually got shot, so she understands his reluctance to get out and breathe in the fresh air. She does. Keeping himself locked away isn’t healthy though, and she’s his bodyguard. She’ll protect him from anyone that wants to harm him, which is the easy part. The hard part is protecting him from himself, because what people don’t know, is that Tony is his own biggest enemy. It’ll take time, but she’ll find a way to save him from himself. She’s not going down without a fight, and she’s really good at fighting.

It took two hours to reach their destination, and the sun was already starting to set. They parked in the middle of a sea of cars, and Jo loved every second of confusion on Tony’s face. It’s really hard to outsmart a genius, and she’s feeling a little proud of herself. Well, some of the credit goes to the Doc, who helped her talk Tony into this…She’s taking three quarters’ worth of credit for this little endeavor. Now all she has to do is get Tony close enough so that he can’t run away once he realizes exactly where they are. As if hearing her thoughts, Tony froze and blinked twice in quick succession. That’s not a good sign.

“Nope. Get back in the car.” Tony turned on his heel and started marching back down the small dirt path, and Jo had to rush to catch up to him. She looped her arm through his and forcibly turned him back around, and Tony’s heels left small tracks in the dirt as she pulled him forward.

“Would you quit being so stubborn?” Jo groaned out as she kept pulling Tony along.

“I am not going in there. How could you possibly think this was a good idea? You’re evil!” As if to prove his point, a chorus of screams drifted through the air. Jo stopped pulling on his arm but held firm so he couldn’t get away, and Tony glared over at her. Like Jo’s scared of a little glaring?

“Tony, this isn’t that bad.”


“You’re being a little overdramatic, don’t you think?” Tony lightly gripped her chin, because he’s a gentleman, and turned her face towards the horizon.

“Do you see that?”

“Yes, Tony.”

“Those are bright lights and giant swinging things. You. Brought. ME. To. A. CARNIVAL!” Jo turned her head back towards the billionaire, with his fingers still gently holding her face, and grinned.

“Yes, I did. I brought you to a physical representation of happiness, and you are going to have a good time. C’mon, boss, don’t you trust me?”

“With my life? Yes.” Tony lightly patted her cheek and let his hand fall, and Jo raised a brow at him.

“And with your happiness?”

“Still in the testing stage.” Oh, that was just what she needed to hear. She strengthened her hold on his arm and started walking again, with Tony’s cooperation this time.

“Then let’s go experiment!”


“This looks like it’s held together by duct tape.” Tony eyed the giant ride, and he could feel Jo shuffling beside him.

“Where’s your sense of adventure, Tony? We had a deal; we ride every ride to make sure that we get the full experience.” At that, he looked over at his bodyguard and sighed. For someone who’s supposed to protect him, she sure is in a hurry to get him killed.

“Let’s get this over with.” Jo cheered and clapped, like an overgrown five year old, and drug him into the line. They were seated within minutes, and Tony looked around the small harness holding him onto his seat to meet Jo’s dark eyes. Which were sparkling with barely restrained glee. “If I die, it’s on you.”

“You’re always safe with me, boss!” Jo called just as the ride started up. He’d been on the Tornado for less than a minute and was already over it, but Jo was screaming out laughter like it was the most fun she’d had in ages. Maybe keeping her cooped up in the house was a bad thing. Strong fingers wrapped around his as they stumbled off the ride, and Tony let their shoulders knock together.

“Ferris wheel is the only ride left, so let’s go and then get back on the road,” he said and started for the brightly lit circle.

“What?! No way, boss! We haven’t even played any games yet! Or gotten funnel cake!”

“Gotten what?” Jo’s grin was a little lopsided; the left side of her mouth quirked up a little more to reveal a dimple in her cheek. It made her eyes crinkle and her nose twitch, and Tony didn’t have it in him to say no as she pulled him over to a food stand.

“Alright, boss, try some.” A plate was pushed under his nose, and his brown eyes crossed as he breathed in the thick scent.

“Is this fried sugar?” The smell was clogging his nose, and Jo was nodding her head because her cheeks were stuffed full. Yeah, there’s no way he’s eating that. That’s a plate full of heart attack, and he doesn’t have super regenerative powers to clean out his clogged arteries.

“Hold this and try some!” She pushed the plate into his hands, and some of the sugar and grease coated his thumb. When he looked up, Jo was handing some cash to a carny in a grease stained white tank top and brightly striped pants. The man handed over a giant hammer, and Jo walked over to where the man pointed.

“Really? You’re going to do this one?” Jo was eying the top of the pole, and Tony rolled his eyes. “Don’t you have an unfair advantage?”

“Don’t know what you’re talkin’ about. Stand back, boss.” Tony took two steps backward and watched the way the muscles in Jo’s arms flexed and rolled as she brought the hammer down. For a split second, he could see Thor’s hammer crashing against Cap’s shield. He’s not in the woods though, with Loki lurking around nearby. He’s at a carnival, with his overly childish bodyguard, and watching as she jumps around in triumph.

“Whattaya want?” the bored carny asked.

“That dreamcatcher. The bright red one.” The man used a wooden pole with a hook on the end of it to grab the giant monstrosity, and Jo hooked it onto her belt loop.

“You’re a cheater,” Tony pointed out as they walked away. Jo took back the plate of fried sugar, good riddance, and stuffed another handful into her mouth with a quiet moaning sound. It was indecent, and that’s coming from him.

“All these games are rigged anyway, and I wanted a prize. It’s not like you’re going to win anything for me, Mr. Scrooge.”

“Mr. Scrooge was in a story about Christmas, not a carnival, and I could so win you a prize.” Jo poked his cheek, thankfully with a clean finger, and stopped in the middle of the walkway.

“Oh yeah? Let’s see you win me a little somethin’-somethin’. I dare you.”

“What are we? Five?”

“I double dare you.”


“I, Josephine Holbrook, double dog dare you, Tony Stark, to win me a big prize!” Well, he can’t turn down a proper challenge like that. Now to find the right game. It only took a few seconds to find the right game, and he walked towards it with Jo giggling on his heels. Muffled giggling, because of the fried sugar. “You’re gonna win a rigged dart game?”

“Watch and learn, sweetheart.” Jo rolled her eyes at his very smooth wink, and Tony handed over a wad of bills to the carny working the booth.

“Three darts. Hit three balloons, you get the big prize.” Tony looked at Jo, Jo looked at Tony, and the darts were thrown. There were three distinct pops, and he could hear Jo cheering as the carny stared him down. What? He won fair and square. “Pick a prize.”

“I’ll take that one.” Jo was still laughing when he pushed his prize into her free arm, and she blinked away tears to look down at her newest possession.

“It’s purple.”


“A purple unicorn.”


“With a rainbow tutu.”

“Just what every little girl needs.” Jo gave him a look that would have lesser men begging forgiveness, but it just made Tony laugh. Which was his second mistake. Jo stuffed the last bit of fried sugar into his mouth and then laughed as he choked on the overwhelming sweetness.

“C’mon, boss, walk it off!” Jo gave him one good slap on the back, and Tony glared up at her with watery eyes. His bodyguard just grinned and kept on walking. By the time they reached the front of the Ferris wheel line, Tony was breathing regularly again and actively repressing the taste still lingering on his tongue.

“Please tell me this adventure is almost over.”

“Almost. Just one last stop.” Jo pulled him into the bucket seat, which didn’t make him feel safe at all, and immediately pressed them together from shoulder to hip to knee. They could have had a little more room, but Jo let the oversized unicorn have its own sitting space. Tony’s pretty sure he caught her patting its head once it was situated.

“So, this was your big plan? To take me to a carnival?” The metal squealed as they started moving, but Tony wasn’t worried. His bodyguard might be insane, but he trusts her with his life. Jo looped her arm through his, hooking their elbows together, and looked out over the carnival grounds. The lights from the Ferris wheel put red streaks in her hair and highlighted her cheekbones.

“When I was little, Ma used to take me to this little fair. Much smaller than this. I looked forward to it all year, more than Christmas.” Jo’s voice was quiet and soft, despite its general roughness, and he could just barely see the dimple in her cheek from the way her head was tilted.

“Why the fair?”

“I don’t know. There was nothing special about it; it was just a day for us. The rides, the games, the laughter of other kids, the smell of bad carnival food…it was a day for us to get out of the house and just have fun.” The Ferris wheel came to a stop, and the little bucket they were in swung back and forth.

“We’re at the very top.”

“Must be that Stark luck.” Jo turned to smile at him, and Tony thought that he got it. Just a little. Somewhere in the mess of getting him sober and keeping him that way, they became…something. It’s not something that Tony can even put a name on. They’re far from lovers but more than friends; Jo knows everything about him, and he knows more about her than most people do. They’re just… “Don’t think about it so hard, Tony. We’re just us.”

“And we’re stopped at the very top of a Ferris wheel. If we’re doing this the traditional way, then you know what that means.” He got to watch the way her dark green eyes widened as he reached up to hold her face in his hands, and she started to say something just as he tilted her head down and pressed a kiss to the center of her forehead. Jo huffed out a breath against his throat, probably a sigh of relief, and stretched herself just enough to brush her lips against the bottom of his chin.

“Did you have any fun?” she whispered. Her head was tucked against his shoulder now, and his head was resting on top of hers as they slowly moved back towards the ground.

“You know, I think I did.” He could almost hear her smug smile, but he could let it slide. Just this once.

June 16, 2014

“Don’t say a word.” The lab was completely silent, except for Tony’s fingers drumming against a tabletop. It’s been two days since Jo’s impromptu adventure, and this is the first time that Bruce has contacted him since his science bro sided against him.

“That bad?” Bruce asked tentatively. Tony groaned and let his head roll back on his shoulders. Yesterday morning was bad, because apparently getting thrown around on numerous cheap carnival rides gave the body a full workout and made his entire body ache. He’s not as sore today, but Jo has a workout planned for this evening so he’s pretty sure it won’t last.

“She took me to a carnival, Bruce. A carnival. And she force fed me fried sugar.” Tony pinched the bridge of his nose and then gently rubbed, because he knows that Bruce knows that it wasn’t that bad. Because Bruce is Bruce, and he just knows things like that.

“I’m sure you two managed to have fun. She wouldn’t have taken you there if she thought you’d hate it.”

“It was okay, but it’s over now. Is there a reason for this call? Are we talking science or carnivals?”

“Science, of course. I was looking through…” Tony opened his eyes, while still reclining, and that’s when he saw it. Hanging above his main work station, pinned to the ceiling by a length of yarn, was the giant red dreamcatcher that Jo won. The white beads in the center had been painted gold, and the feathers hanging from the bottom had been removed. The two central feathers were replaced by a small green tank and a small Iron Man head, and the two looked like they’d been taken off of keychains. There had been four outside feathers, two on each side, but now four bolts hung down instead. The bolts were painted gold, to match the beads, and Tony couldn’t stop smiling.

“Tony? Are you listening?” Jo remade the dreamcatcher, for him.

“Yeah, sorry, just thinking. You were saying?”


“A little bit of Sandra in the sun! A little bit of Mary all night long! A little bit of Jessica, here I am!”

“A little bit of you makes me your man!” Jo laughed as she was suddenly spun away from the stove, and she let Tony dance her around the kitchen while the rest of the song played. The billionaire even sung along with her and matched her hip movements, and Jo was out of breath from laughing so hard as they came to a stop.

“Where’d that come from, boss?” She turned the stove off and moved her pot over to another eye, and Tony leaned against the bar across from her.

“I’m not allowed to be happy?” Jo raised a brow, but she couldn’t hold the skeptical look for long. All she really wants is for Tony to be happy, which is still something she’s getting used to. For someone she didn’t know six months ago, he sure has gotten deep under her skin.

“Happy? Yes. Gleeful? I don’t know; it’s suspicious. You didn’t come up with a plan for world domination or anything, did you?”

“Really? World domination? I could’ve done that ages ago.” Tony was giving her a look, a very pointed look, and he was thinking something so loud that she could hear it even with her mental blocks up. She took a peek, just a little one, and then immediately started smiling. He found her present. She worked on it all day yesterday and hung it up early this morning, before Tony woke up.

“Good to know. Now, eat your turkeydog and save your strength! We’ve got muscle building later!” She started walking off, because she’s got stuff to do that doesn’t involve watching Tony Stark eat his lunch, but Tony’s voice made her slow down.

“Yay, more fighting against a dummy.”

“Nope! You’re fighting me today!”


“You can hit me a little harder. I’m not made of glass,” Jo said as she straightened out of her crouch. Her and Tony have been going at it for nearly an hour, and he’s pulled every single one of his punches. So has she, but her punches are a little harder than average.

“Nope, you’re made of flesh and bone.” Bones that can break and flesh that can bruise. Both of their minds are wide open, thanks to the little bit of adrenaline pumping through them, so seeing into Tony’s mind is just as easy as ever. He’s thinking about the way she looked that night; the night that she goaded him into the beating the hell out of her so she could get him to break down and stop drinking. Once again, not her best plan. Even if it did work.

“I know you’re not going to hurt me, Tony.” She plopped down against the blue mat, and Tony followed her down a little more slowly. They were both sitting cross-legged, with their knees pressed together, and Jo reached out to grab both of Tony’s hands. It got him to look at her, and she made sure to hold his eyes. “I mean it, Tony. We both know that you would never hurt me.”

“But I did.”

“Because I made you. C’mon, boss, we both know that I pushed you into that. I wanted you to fight me.”

“And that makes it okay?” He’s getting defensive, and Jo gets it. She does. Tony fights with words and wit, and sometimes a suit, but he’s never…not like that.

“Tony, I’ve taken worse beatings than that from people I call friends. Maybe if I was someone different than I am it’d be worse, but I’m not. You can beat your fists against a tank all night long and it’ll still be untouched come morning.”

“You, are not, a tank. You’re a person.”

“I’m a mutant. That makes me a little special. Normal rules don’t apply,” she said with a small smile. She should’ve known that hand-to-hand training was going to be difficult to start with, but she thought they’d already moved past this.

“I don’t care if you’re human, or a mutant, or the freakin’ Easter bunny. I never should have—” Jo surged forward to hug him, but they overbalanced and toppled onto the floor. Tony was pressed flat on his back and Jo was sprawled over him; her arms were trapped under his shoulders and his legs were still crossed. They should have been uncomfortable, but neither one tried to move.

“You’re a good friend, boss.”

“If you say so, sweetheart.”

“Ready for round two?”

Ten minutes later they were squaring off against one another, and this time Jo wasn’t saying anything about Tony’s light punches. Maybe she should get one of those padded body suit things. It’ll slow her down, but Tony will be able to hit harder. Jo ducked a right hook and swept her leg out, but Tony easily jumped over her sweep and tackled her. Jo went down with a yelp, and her back hit the mat just hard enough to knock the air out of her. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal, if her boss hadn’t decided to take up residence on her stomach.

“I win!” Jo jabbed him, lightly, in the stomach and pushed him off of her. With his weight gone, she could take a deep breath. Much better. Tony was sprawled out next to her and groaning quietly, and Jo grinned over at him. “I still won.”

“I’m pretty sure tackling is cheating.”

“I’m pretty sure it means winning.”

They were just getting ready to have another go at one another, they’d both progressed to their knees at least, when JARVIS interrupted them. Tony wrapped his arms around her head, so that her face was pushed into the top of his chest, and Jo grumbled against the sweat slick skin as she tried to push herself away. Tony’s strong when he wants to be, especially now that he’s eating right and exercising, but she could still break free if she wanted. Instead she slumped against him and tried to take in some fresh air.

“What is it?”

“Master Thor is here, sir.”

“The Thor? Viking God Thor?” Jo was already on her feet, and Tony was still kneeling in front of her.

“Could you be more of a fangirl?” She reached down to grab his hand and haul him to his feet, and she tossed an arm around his shoulder.

“Don’t worry, boss. You’re still my favorite Avenger.” Tony was still trying to push her head into his armpit as they stumbled into the kitchen, and Jo immediately straightened up at the sight of the god standing in front of the bar. Shoulder length blonde hair, bright blue eyes, bone structure that people could never pay enough to replicate…he was even in full battle uniform.

“Thor! What brings you here?” Jo wouldn’t say that Thor was giant sized, but he was taller than pretty much every other man she’s been around. Clint is six feet tall, Tony’s an inch over that, but this guy has to be topping out at six-six.

“Clint spoke of a new living space and said there was a room for me.” Something’s…off. She’s seen Tony’s memories of the god, and he normally looked a bit more upbeat. Even when facing down an alien invasion.

“Yeah, I’m making a room for everyone. You sticking around?” The big guy shifted on his feet and placed a hand on the hammer hanging from his belt.

“I have business to attend in Asgard. Afterwards, I would like to return here.” She can feel Tony’s mind now, and he’s confused about Thor’s behavior too.

“You got a place with us, big guy. Is everything okay?” The question sounded strained, because this isn’t normal Tony behavior either.

“I will explain all when I return, but I would ask a favor.” Thor’s big blue eyes reminded her of a puppy, and Jo wrapped her arms around her stomach to keep from crossing the kitchen and giving the big guy a hug.

“Whatever you need, big guy.” Is Tony reading her mind?

“Jane and I…we have gone separate ways.” Jo’s not sure who Jane is, but Tony’s thoughts are telling her that she’s an astrophysicist who’s been kind of dating Thor. Kind of, because of that whole different worlds thing. She was involved in all that stuff that went down in London.

“Want me to keep an eye on her?” Thor shook his head and tightened the hold on his hammer.

“No. Her…companion, Darcy Lewis, has gone a separate way as well at Jane’s request. My favor is that you make sure she is safe. Darcy Lewis is a brave and capable woman, but she is still…young.” Thor met Tony’s eyes, with what Jo is gonna describe as a pleading stare, and Tony sighed.

“Yeah, of course. I’ll watch out for her.”

“Thank you, Tony. I shall return soon.” Tony and Jo both watched as the giant man strode out of the kitchen, and Jo leaned her head against Tony’s shoulder once he was out of sight.

“That was weird, right?” Tony knocked his head against hers and then moved off towards the fridge, and Jo leaned her elbows against the bar.

“Yes, that was weird.”

“You’re gonna check up on the girl though, right?” How do you say no to a god? Then again, if anyone can deny a god’s request, it’s Tony Stark.

“I said I would, didn’t I? Now, what are you making me for dinner?”

“Roast beef with a side of egotistical maniac.”

“And a tall drink of insane bodyguard?”

“Comin’ right up.”

June 29, 2014

The house was quiet, which is the norm now. Unless Tony blows something up. Jo’s kinda thankful for the quiet; it means she gets paid to just relax on a roof and read trashy romance novels that JARVIS has delivered for her. Has she mentioned lately just how much she loves that AI system? Because she really loves JARVIS. She was just getting to the steamy part when the roof door opened, and she dropped a penny between the pages to hold her place. Has Tony ever seen a penny? Do rich people know what pennies look like?

“Please tell me your little Harlequin doesn’t have you thinking that hard.” Jo laid her book down next to her chair and spread her legs a little more, and Tony dropped down against her with a quiet huff.

“What’s on your mind, boss?” Tony moved her hands over the arc reactor, and Jo pressed her skin against the cool metal.

“Can’t you just read it?” Jo raised her knees as Tony settled his head against her chest and thought it over.

“Stop being so lazy. What’s going on up there in that genius brain of yours?” Reading his mind would be quicker, sure, but sometimes it’s better to talk it out. Also, she’s feeling lazy and doesn’t wanna.

“It’s the girl, Darcy. The one Thor wanted me to check up on?” Like Jo could ever forget that quick little convo? You don’t forget your first time seeing a god in person.

“Yeah, I remember. What about her?” Tony sighed and started running his fingers across her arms, and Jo relaxed into the sensation. He’ll talk when he’s gathered his thoughts.

“She’s got a degree in poli sci, so I don’t know why she was interning for an astrophysicist. She’s obviously intelligent, because she was able to keep up, so I don’t know why Foster let her go.” Okay, he sounds slightly agitated. He’s leaving something out; she can tell.


“And now she’s in New York and working at a Starbucks. She’s completely wasting her potential.” Tony sounded like the girl’s working situation actually offended him, and Jo lightly pressed her cheek to the top of his head.

“Maybe that’s all she could find. The job market has been pretty rough lately,” Jo pointed out. She keeps up with the news sometimes, so that she at least has some idea about the state of the world.

“It’s not fair.”

“Life’s not fair.”

“Ugh.” Jo chuckled, just a bit, and tightened her arms. Tony may be an egotistical asshole who’s too smart and rich for his own good, but he’s not so bad deep down. It’s too bad the world doesn’t know this side of Tony Stark. He might get shot at less.

“If it’s really bothering you this much, I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”

“Hmph.” Looks like the genius is all out of words. Probably because his mind is whirring like a tornado.

“So, boss, have you ever actually seen a penny?”

July 3, 2014

Tonight is her last night in the Malibu home, and Jo’s not sure how to feel about it. She’s left homes before. Her childhood home was sold to a family of four with a big dog after her Ma died, and all of the stuff she didn’t sell is in a storage unit in Shreveport. Xavier’s School slowly became her home over the years, but she hasn’t been back since she graduated ten years ago. She hasn’t really had a home since then, except for maybe Rio. And she left Rio to come here without too much thought. So…why is she staring at her gray blanket like she’s losing something huge? She’s just moving to another place, that’s all. Not for the first time and probably not for the last.

When Tony found her, she was sitting cross-legged in the center of the bed with her giant purple unicorn in her lap. There were a few boxes stacked against the dresser, but the room looked pretty much the same as always. Jo kept her eyes locked on Tony as he took in the few boxes and then as he walked over to the bed. He sat down next to her and flicked the unicorn’s horn, so Jo flicked his ear and held the unicorn to her chest. Tony may have won him, but no one flicks her Eugene.

“Shouldn’t you still be packing?” Jo blinked, realized that Tony was serious, and slumped against his side. Tony moved his arm around her back and rested against her too, and they both looked at the boxes.

“I’m done. Two boxes for clothes, one box for my knitting, that little one is for my books, my roof stuff is in the longer one, and I’ve got my shower stuff in a bag. That’s everything.” She shrugged, which moved both of them, and started petting the stuffed purple unicorn.

“That’s all you have?”

“I only had a duffel bag when I first got here, remember?”

“We’re going shopping when we get to New York. We’ll get you a lamp or something, because this is ridiculous. Why don’t you have more stuff?” Jo moved her head into the crook of Tony’s shoulder and neck, and she felt him holding onto her hip. It’s comforting just to have physical contact sometimes; she’d forgotten how much she liked it.

“For seven years, I lived on the move. Going from one job to the next, so I didn’t need a lot of stuff. A few clothes, a book or two at a time, and that was it. When I decided to take a break from SHIELD, I still lived on the move. The longest I stayed in a place was Rio, and that was only for a year. It’s kinda hard to collect stuff when you never stay still.”

“You’ve been running.” Yeah, Stark’s definitely a genius. Jo fell back against the bed, because she’s tired of looking at the boxes, and she drug Tony down with her. Tony moved them around so that her cheek was pressed against the upper part of his chest, and her fingers traced around the edge of the arc reactor. The unicorn wound up pressed between her stomach and his ribcage, and Tony’s fingers played with her unbound hair.

“After the whole ROSE thing, I wasn’t myself. I was angry, and SHIELD gave me an outlet. Once the anger burned out, I didn’t know what else to do. So I just kept doing what I do best. I’m not proud of the things I’ve done. I’ve killed so many people, Tony, and I’m not even sure if they all deserved it.” So she ran. At least, she tried to. Outrunning your own demons rarely works out.

“Join the club, sweetheart.” Ah, right, she’s resting on the Angel of Death. How could she forget?

“I was, uh, doing this job in Somalia, don’t ask, when I got up close and personal with some Stark tech.”

“You mean…?”

“Yeah, I kinda hated you for a while. Getting blown up by Stark tech hurts like a bitch.”

“Should I apologize?”

“Did you personally sell the wannabe pirate a bomb to blow me up with?” Jo tilted her head back to see the look that she could feel Tony giving her, and she smiled up at him. “Thought so. You didn’t know what was going on, and I know that doesn’t make it okay. You’re changing things now though. You’re a good man, Tony.”

“Yeah, well, keep it to yourself. I’ve got a reputation to uphold.” Jo walked her fingers across the glowing blue light and didn’t say anything. He can talk all he wants, but she knows the truth. Her words mean something to him, because they came from her. “You’re a good person too, Jo.”

“I’m gettin’ there.” Her words were slow and quiet, because she’s getting drowsy. It’s been a long couple of days, preparing for the big move, and she’s wiped. Tony must be too, because he’s not in any hurry to move. Then again, that could be because his lab has been packed up.

“We should sleep. We’re going home tomorrow.” Home…she liked the sound of that. Home.

“Can’t wait.” Tony’s arms tightened around her, and Jo snuggled down. Living in New York is going to be hard for Tony, at least at first, but Jo will be there. Maybe Malibu isn’t home and maybe New York won’t be either, but Tony? Maybe he can be home.
♠ ♠ ♠
Okay, I normally love canon relationships. Despite what's already happened, I love Tony and Pepper together. However, I am not the biggest Thor/Jane fan. They just never really seemed to click for me, so I'm sorry if you're a big fan of that ship. I am a huge Darcy fan though, so she'll be in the story.

I'm also still debating on how to handle the other movies that have come out in the MCU. I'm definitely going to be incorporating CA:TWS into the story, with a few changes to help it fit. I'm still on the fence about Ultron though. Thoughts would be appreciated!