Archaic Kinds of Fun

the god of pancakes

“So, uh, has anyone seen—”

“I’m here,” Natasha said and sat down next to Clint on a loveseat. Darcy is sitting on a couch next to Thor, who’s taking up most of the couch, and Bruce is sitting in a chair not too far away from the couch that she’s sitting on with Tony. Well, she’s sitting. Tony is laying down with his head pillowed in her lap, which is why she’s not voting for him to be the leader. Leaders are supposed to sit up and look commanding, not sprawl on a couch like an overgrown kitten.

“JARVIS? What’s our bullet list?” Tony asked once everyone was properly settled.

“List?” Darcy mumbled. Poor girl has no idea what she’s in for, and neither does anyone else going by the blank looks on everyone’s faces.

“First order of business is Dr. Banner’s appearance and the Hulk’s speech capabilities, sir.”

“Ah, right.” Everyone’s eyes turned to look at Bruce, who tried not to fidget under the scrutiny. “Bruce?”

“Before I left, you said something to me,” the doctor said as he looked at Tony.

“You are him, and he is you. If you’re good, then so is he,” Tony recited.

“Right, well, it got me thinking. I was waiting to board a plane when a man in a wheelchair stopped to speak to me, to point me in the right direction,” Bruce said with a small smile directed at Tony and Jo.

“You gotta be talking about the Professor. He sent you to Dizzy, didn’t he? Crazy bitch in the mountains?” Jo asked quickly. Bruce’s eyes widened, but Jo could tell he was taking everything in stride.

“Rainforest now, actually. Do all telepaths know each other?” It was an innocent question, with no malicious intent, but Jo felt something as sharp as a knife twisting in her stomach.

“Dizzy helped train me, kinda. She did the best she could. Kooky old bat drove me up the walls,” Jo laughed. Tony’s hand looked like it was just resting on her knee, but he was squeezing it just enough to give her something else to focus on. At everyone’s confused looks, Jo decided to explain. She gave a quick rundown of who Professor X is and the boarding school, and she explained that Dizzy is a mutant and a telepath who’s an old friend of the Professor.

“She is a little…eccentric, but she helped me to communicate with Hulk. We listen to each other now, and I don’t keep him locked away all the time.” Tony and Darcy looked fascinated, Natasha looked a little worried, and Clint and Thor grinned.

“We must spar soon! It has been too long since I’ve tested my might against the green one!” Bruce looked over at Thor, and the whole room seemed to freeze as Bruce’s eyes bled green. His eyes were the only things that became discolored, and Jo took the tiniest peek. She could hear a deep rumbling laugh and Bruce’s own softer voice locked inside of one mind.

“Holy fuck, that’s awesome,” she whispered.

“Hulk would like that. He said smashing puny gods was better than rocks,” Bruce said with a gentle smile.

“You two talk?” Natasha asked with a raised brow. Jo doesn’t know the details, but she knows something happened between the assassin and Hulk during that whole Loki thing.

“He says that he’s sorry. He thought you wanted to hurt us, but he knows that you mean no harm now.” Bruce paused as his eyes flashed before focusing on Natasha once more. “No harm to us, at least.”

“You’re both here to stay, right?” Tony asked. Bruce nodded, which was apparently a good enough answer for Tony. “What about you, Thor? Staying or visiting?”

“Staying. Though much has happened during my absence.” Thor looks sad again, but Jo can’t hug him because Tony’s got her pinned down.

“You can tell us, buddy,” Darcy said and lightly patted an armored shoulder. Thor laid a giant hand on her shoulder and smiled his thanks, and Jo decided that a smile looked better on him than a frown.

“Eons ago…”

Thor told them all about restoring the Bifrost and the fighting between realms, but things got really weird once he started talking about Dark Elves. Jo thought she was going to cry when he talked about his mother sacrificing her life for Jane, and the whole room looked ready to riot when he said that he freed Loki for his help. Then Loki got dead while doing the right thing, the bad guy was killed, and Thor told his father that he didn’t want to rule before returning to Earth. Apparently, he was only with his Jane for two days before Heimdall called him back. The person he said goodbye to was Loki, not Odin. Odin was found in some secret chamber, where he was standing vigil over his wife’s bedside, who was not dead. Yeah, Thor wasn’t all that happy about finding out his dad lied to him. Then came the task of finding Loki, which was surprisingly easy.

“He was back in his cell?” Clint’s incredulous tone matched the look on everyone’s faces.

“He was in his cell, and he has not spoken a word.” The majority of the room hates Loki, and she gets that, but Thor looks really worried about his brother.

“You’re welcome to stay as long as you want, Thor. Room’s already set up and everything,” Tony said. Jo’s so proud of how much he’s grown.

“Thank you,” Thor said with a smile.

“Natasha? Why did HYDRA agents attack my house?” Jo looked across the small circle they were in at the redheaded assassin, and green eyes met hers.

“I don’t know why they attacked. Fury said he would meet us at his earliest convenience.”

“Earliest convenience?! They bombed my house! They turned my bodyguard into Swiss cheese!”

“Hey! I was not that holey!” Tony twisted in her lap so he could stare up at her, and Jo rolled her eyes. “You’ve got a point though. Fury owes us an explanation.”

“Natasha?” The assassin looked away from Jo to Tony and nodded once.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Okay. JARVIS, is that everything?” Please, let that be everything. Jo hates this part of team meetings; it’s like being debriefed, and she really hates debriefings.

“The new communication devices, sir.” Oh yeah, she remembers Tony mumbling something about easier ways for everyone to communicate. It’s smart, but can’t they do this later?

“I want all of us to wear communication devices so that we can keep in touch easier, and they don’t have to be ear pieces. Jewelry, watches, I don’t really care.”

“A watch would be fine,” Bruce said first.

“I would prefer an arm guard,” Thor stated.

“Bracelet, yeah, I can do that,” Tony muttered to himself. Jo can feel his mind spinning with new possibilities, and she’s starting to feel a little bad for Darcy. Yeah, Jo is going to have to listen to his rambling, but Darcy is his official assistant.

“A necklace might be good. I can’t have anything on my hands or arms,” Clint threw out. Tony’s thoughts are hitting hurricane levels now.

“I had my tragus pierced once, so something there would be alright.” Jo grinned up at Tony, and he reached up to flick her ear.

“Cartilage, ear,” Darcy added.

“Diamonds,” was all Natasha said.

“Got it! Anything else, JARVIS?”

“I believe that is everything, sir.” Jo breathed out a sigh of relief and slumped back against the couch, because it’s over. Now she gets to go down to the gym and work out the remaining kinks in her body.

“Darcy, Bruce, I need you two in the lab. Thor, if you’re up to it, Jo could use a sparring buddy.” Jo met the god’s bright blue eyes and nodded with a smile. The big guy looks like he could use it too; sometimes a nice friendly fight is all that’s needed to clear the mind.

“I would be honored, Lady Jo.”

“I’d appreciate it. I’ve got some post-battle kinks to work out,” Jo said and pushed Tony into a sitting position. She popped up onto her feet, and everyone else started moving too.

“Assassins, you can—”

“Captain Rogers has arrived, sir.”

“—explain everything to the Cap’n. Have a good spar, sweetheart.” Jo let Tony kiss her on the forehead and then glared at his back as he walked from the room. Darcy said a few words to Thor before following after Tony, and Jo and Darcy high-fived as they passed one another. Bruce and Natasha were already gone too, so Jo was left with just Thor and Clint.

“You and Tony are such a married couple,” Clint said with a little quirk of his lips.

“You two make a fine pairing, Lady Jo,” Thor added. Clint snorted out a laugh, and Jo resisted the urge to hit him. Barely.

“We’re not actually together, Thor. We just care about each other a lot.” Hey, wait, Tony told her that he loved her earlier. And she said it back! It’s true, but she should probably check on Tony later. Sometimes he’s not all that good with feelings.

“Ah, yes, Darcy said something about a…bodyguard? I am a little confused about the term.”

“I’ll explain it all on the way to the gym. Have fun with Cap and Natasha, Clint!”


“Do you even really need me for anything?” Darcy asked for the third time. The first two times Tony was too busy rattling off equations to hear her. Wide brown eyes blinked, and Tony finally seemed to realize her presence.

“What?” Bruce had the same confused look on his face. It’s like they both forgot about the rest of the world because they were so focused on their science.

“Do you need me or can I take a break?”

“A break? Yeah, sure. I’ll call you if I need anything,” Tony said and immediately turned back around. Darcy nodded, to herself, and walked out of the lab. She can go to her room, or the kitchen, but she knows where really wants to go. She rode the elevator straight down to the basement and pushed on the big door to the gym.

The first thing she saw when she walked in was Jo flying through the air, and her laugh seemed to echo in the large room. Jo’s back hit the wall, and the wall just seemed to absorb the hit. Bare feet pushed off the wall, and this time it was Thor’s laugh that echoed in the room as Jo hit him in a flying tackle. Thor’s loud laugh was something she hadn’t heard in a really long time, but of course, it would be fighting that would get it out of him. How could Jane leave him? His being a god and looking the part aside, he’s such an amazing guy. Whatever. She’s just glad that he looks happy now.

Darcy leaned back against the wall to watch as the two destroyed each other. They had both changed clothes from earlier, which was a good call because every day clothes would not be able to survive this. A pair of hot pink running shorts and a yellow sports bra replaced the leggings and button-up from earlier, and Darcy will never understand why Jo never wears clothes that match. Thor was out of his battle armor for once and was only wearing a pair of dark gray basketball shorts. She’s not sure where Jo found the shorts, but she’s really glad that she did. Thor’s hair was up in a ball, and Darcy felt just a smidgen of pride at the look. When Thor stayed with her and Jane for those two days before returning to Asgard, she taught him how to put his hair up like that.

“Come on, Josie! Kick his ass!” Darcy jumped so fast she nearly fell over, and the strong hand gripping her bicep was the only thing that kept her upright.

“Dude, you came out of nowhere!” Darcy gasped. Clint smiled at her, and Darcy realized, not for the first time, just how hot the archer was. His dark blonde hair was short but still managed to spike up some, his pretty hazel eyes were filled with constantly changing colors, and he is built.

“Quit scaring Darcy!” Jo yelled. Thor used the distraction to body-check her, and she went sailing through the air again. Thor straightened and raised a hand in greeting.

“Hawkeye! Have you come to fight as well?!” Huh, that’s the first time she’s heard anyone use Clint’s codename. Thor fought with him in the Battle of Manhattan though, so that’s probably just what he remembers him as.

“Call me Clint! And I never go against Jo! She fights dirty!” As he talked, Jo came up behind Thor and jumped up onto his shoulders. She locked her legs around his neck, twisted her body, and somehow managed to throw the big guy across the room.

“I’ll never get over how strong she is,” Darcy muttered.

“You get used to it. Don’t ever arm wrestle her though. Or try to out drink her.” Darcy looked over at Clint, and she knows from the look on his face that he’s done both of those. Probably more than once.

“That’s Tony’s bodyguard, right?” Darcy leaned to the side at the sound of a new voice, and blue eyes looked down at her. It’s Captain America! The real Captain America is standing close to her, and he’s probably going to be living with them.

“That’s Jo. Natasha get you all caught up?” The Captain nodded and then moved his eyes over to her.

“You must be Darcy, Tony’s assistant. I’m Steve Rogers. Nice to meet you, ma’am.” Darcy slowly reached up to shake his hand, and she’s never seen someone’s smile look so earnest before.

“No ma’am, just Darcy. It’s an honor to meet you,” Darcy said quickly.

“Where is Natasha?” Clint asked. Steve shrugged and opened his mouth to answer, but a shot rang out through the room and cut him off. Jo hit the floor instead of executing a clean kick to Thor’s chest, and blood sprayed from her head in a wide arc.

“Aww, why’d ya do that, Nat?! I almost had him!” Jo yelled as she got to her feet. The bullet wound was completely gone, and Jo glared at the woman standing in the doorway. Dark green met bright green, and Darcy thought it was a little ironic how Natasha’s curly red hair was the same shade as the blood on the floor.

“I like Thor better than you,” Natasha said with a one shoulder shrug.

“Lady Natasha, that was not fair,” Thor reprimanded. Looks like Thor and Jo are already friends, or maybe he’s saying that because he’s a decent person.

“But it was fun,” she smiled.

“Fun for you,” Jo grumbled.

“Does this happen regularly?” Steve asked in a quiet voice as Jo and Natasha kept going back and forth.

“It’s how they say hello,” Clint whispered. He raised his voice for the next part, “Now, now, ladies. Let’s not—”

“Shut up, Clint!” Natasha and Jo both stared at each other as if disbelieving they spoke at the same time, and Darcy looked around at everyone in the room. It’s not just gonna be her, Jo, and Tony anymore. Looks like things are about to get interesting.


“Excuse me, sir, but the pizza has arrived.” Tony’s spine cracked as he slowly sat up, and he rubbed a hand across his eyes. Across from him, Bruce kept inputting who-knows-what. They started working on separate projects about an hour ago? No, maybe a couple of hours ago.

“Why ya tellin’ me this, JARVIS?”

“Miss Jo and Miss Natasha have requested your presence in the dining room, along with Dr. Banner.” Tony snorted at that and got to his feet.

“I better go make sure one of them isn’t dying,” he mumbled as his knees cracked.

“Miss Jo has only been shot twice today,” JARVIS reported.

“Only twice?” Tony mumbled to himself. Not bad. He slapped Bruce on the back, somewhere around the shoulder blade area, and the good doctor’s brown eyes were tinted green when he looked up.

“Hulk and I are both under control,” Bruce said automatically. Like Tony is worried about him Hulking out? Hulk saved his life, so he’s completely okay with the big guy.

“Yeah, I know. The girls want us to come down for pizza.”

“They do?” Bruce pushed his glasses up into his hair and rubbed the bridge of his nose, and Tony kinda gets it. Bruce has been on his own for so long that he probably doesn’t remember how all of this works. (Tony’s not really sure about how all of this works either, so they’ll all figure it out together.)

“Mhmm, and if we don’t go down, Jo will drag us out. It’s very unpleasant.”

“So she still carries you around then?” Bruce asked as he stood up. Tony glared at him, but there wasn’t any real anger in it. Besides Jo, Bruce is the only one who knows just how bad he got.

Tony and Bruce walked side-by-side to the elevator, and they talked about their separate projects on the way down. Tony’s still working on the different communication devices, and Bruce is working on Hulk-proof clothes. There’s just not enough time in the day for everything that needs to be done. They were both so wrapped up in giving the other ideas that neither one of them heard the noise until after Tony opened the dining room doors, and they both paused in the doorway to try to take in the scene. Is this how Darcy feels when she walks in on him and Jo in various states of undress?

The long table is covered in pizza boxes, two liter bottles of different kinds of soda (the house is completely void of alcohol on Jo’s orders), and cards. Jo and Darcy are sitting side-by-side on top of the table, and they’re both holding onto each other as they laugh. Natasha and Steve are sitting on one side of the table, and Steve is smiling as Natasha whispers something to him. Clint is sitting on the other side of the table and is nearly flush against Thor’s side, and he’s explaining the rules even though the two of them are obviously playing as partners. Tony’s pretty sure that it’s a poker game, but there’s no money spread around. Instead they’re playing for…

“Skittles, really?” Six heads swiveled to look at him, and they all had matching manic glints in their eyes. They’ve even managed to corrupt the Cap’n!

“They enable us to taste the rainbow!” Thor helpfully informed.

“Of course they do. I’m just going to—”

“Oh no you don’t!” Jo yelled. She nearly tripped over Darcy in her haste to get to him, and Tony groaned as loud as he could as she pulled him over to the table. “You too, Doc. Come on.”

“I really don’t think—”

“Tony can partner up with Darcy, and I’ll take the Doc.” Natasha’s arm snapped out and grabbed Tony’s arm, and she pushed him into a chair at the head of the table. Her cool green eyes looked from Bruce to the empty chair next to Tony, and Bruce slowly sat down in the empty seat.

“You already have a partner,” Natasha said as Jo huffed and moved back on top of the table.

“Yeah, Jo! You can’t just switch partners like that!” Clint yelled. Jo, who was now back in her place, hooked an arm around Darcy’s neck and pointed a menacing finger at the archer.

“Darcy’s the only partner I need!”

“Oh yeah! Well I got the God of Thunder! Suck on that, Josie!”

“Don’t make me come down there, Clinton!” Thor slapped his cards down onto the table, and everyone visibly jumped before looking over. The cards showed a royal flush, and Thor’s toothy grin made Darcy smile.

“I believe I have won the rainbow.” Tony reached over to pat the big guy’s arm and smiled.

“You sure have, buddy.”


He can’t get the suit to work. He’s locked inside, and he can’t do anything. Why can’t he do anything?!

“Because you’re not Iron Man. You’re just Tony,” Pepper whispered in his ear.

“You’re wrong. The suit and I are one. I am Iron Man.” He is, he is, he is.

“Then save her.” The face plate slid back, and he watched as Jo stood in front of him. Her hair was up, and she was wearing his dark red button-up. She wasn’t facing him. Her arms spread out, and she looked over her shoulder at him.

“Don’t worry, boss. I’ll keep you safe.” The bomb that landed at her feet had Stark Industries written across it, and Jo was still smiling at him with her arms spread when it went off. He watched her disappear in the fire, but he can’t move!

“It’s too late, Tony. You’ve lost her,” Pepper whispered. When he turned his head, there was nothing behind him but smoke.


“JO!” Dark green eyes popped open, and she looked around the room in a panic. Is someone attacking? Rough hands smoothed across her cheeks, and Jo looked up into Tony’s wide eyes. They fell asleep in his bed after Thor cleaned them out at skittle poker, and everything was fine then.

“Tony? What’s wrong?” The last time Tony looked this panicked, he was hallucinating in a bathtub. Jo sat up as Tony kept looking at her, and he suddenly ducked down. The breath was knocked out of her as Tony tightened his arms around her midsection, and his ear was pressed right over her heart. He’s shaking like he hasn’t in a while, and she ran her fingers through his hair to try and calm him down.

“Don’t leave.” Jo eased them back down into a horizontal position as she peeked into his head, and everything suddenly made sense. That is one bad nightmare.

“Never going to leave, remember? I’m right here, Tony. Right here.” He reached up to lace his fingers through hers, but he kept his ear pressed over her heart. He needs to reassure himself that she’s alive and with him, and she’s okay with that.

“It was Pepper too. I lost both of you. I can’t—”

“Pepper’s fine, you know that. We’re both okay, and so are you.” She’s not sure which part has him more freaked out. The suit not working, her sacrificing herself for him, or Pepper not being there.

“Will you say it? I think I need to hear it.” She’s so far into Tony’s head now that she can feel him, and she’s seconds away from crying. He can remember his mother and father saying it, but it never felt true to him. Something was always missing. He found it with Pepper, but she left.

“I love you, Tony.” He relaxed a little against her, and Jo freed one hand to run through his hair again. It’s something that always seems to calm him down.

“Love you too, sweetheart.”

Jo hummed quietly as Tony drifted back off to sleep, and she waited until he was in a deep sleep before letting a few tears out. Tony is such an egotistical ass, but she gets why he’s that way now. He decided early on in life that the only person who needed to love him was himself and that he didn’t need anyone, and he was alone for so long. One night stands can’t fill up that hole, but Tony is so incredibly stubborn that he never wanted anything more. All he needed was himself. Until Pepper. Until a group of amazing people called him one of their own. Until a bodyguard saved him from himself.

Well, she’s going to tell the dumbass she loves him every day until it sticks. It’s the least she can do, because no one has ever needed her the way Tony does. She didn’t even realize how lonely she was until this weird friendship of theirs happened, so she owes him. She owes so much that it’s going to take a lifetime to repay him, and she’s okay with it. There are other people in this world that she loves, but it’s not the same. She’s starting to think that there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for Tony, not after everything she’s seen. She knows everything about him, the good and the bad, and it just makes her love him more. Now all she has to do is make sure that he knows that. The idiotic genius.

Jo was still holding onto Tony when the sun rose, and his dreams were more peaceful. She held onto him for a little longer and listened to the quiet whirring of his thoughts before deciding that it was time to start her day. She slipped out of the bed once she was sure that he wouldn’t wake up, and she took care of business in the bathroom. She found a pair of green leggings on Tony’s dresser, and she tugged on one of his many Metallica shirts. Once she was properly dressed, she redid her hair and then left the room. She needs some exercise to clear her mind.

“Good morning, Jo!” Steve called out as she walked inside the gym. He was standing in front of a punching bag and wearing loose sweats, and Jo paused in the doorway. Shirtless Cap in the morning? There are worse ways to start the day.

“Mornin, Cap! Want me to go?” She knows that sometimes people just want to be left alone when they exercise, so she’ll definitely go somewhere else if that’s what he wants.

“Steve, please, and I’d like it if you could join me.” Jo paused for the second time and raised her head to meet his pretty blue eyes. (Thor’s eyes are a prettier blue, but she’d never tell Cap that.)

“You want a spar?” She thought that he’d be too old-fashioned to fight a girl, but she might have misjudged him. Oh, she really hopes that she misjudged him. A good clean fight is just what she needs.

“I’ll understand if you’re not up for it.” His eyes were clear, but his lips twitched like he was fighting a smile. Well, alright.

“That sounds like a challenge to me, Cap. You know I took on Thor yesterday and almost won?”

“Almost,” Steve said with a shrug. Yeah, that’s definitely a challenge.

“Okay, Mr. Super Soldier, let’s see what you’ve got.”


Darcy was happily munching on one of Thor’s fucktastic pancakes when Clint finally wandered back in, with two people behind him. Instead of Jo and Tony, like Darcy expected, it was Jo and Steve. Jo was holding an ice pack to Steve’s (chiseled) jaw, and Clint was shaking with silent laughter. Thor waved his spatula in greeting, and Natasha immediately pulled her gun and pointed it at Jo’s head. The fact that she kept chewing like business as usual was Darcy’s first clue that her world was officially topsy-turvy. Jo sighed and seemed to brace herself for the shot, and Clint’s laughter finally exploded out of him. Darcy took another bite despite the weirdness in the air. What? Forget thunder, Thor should be ruling over the pancake franchise.

“You know not to damage the face in a friendly spar,” Natasha stated calmly. Darcy took in her outfit of sleeping shorts and a spaghetti strapped top; where did the gun come from? Where’d she have it stashed?

“It was Clint’s fault!” Jo yelled and pointed at the archer with her free hand.

“It was an accident, that’s all,” Steve said in a calming voice.

“Yeah, Nat, we all know that sometimes accidents happen,” Jo said with a pointed look. Okay, there’s definitely a double meaning there, and it’s big enough to make Clint stop laughing. Natasha’s green eyes narrowed in a glare, and Darcy snorted back a laugh at the two women. They’re having a glaring match over a table piled high with pancakes, and they’re both barely dressed. Everyone in this house is crazy.

“Enough!” At Thor’s booming voice, the whole room froze. Except for Darcy, who took another bite. None of her clothes are going to fit after she leaves this table. “We should feast.”

“I’m with Thor,” Clint said and took a seat. Natasha put her gun away and sat back down next to Clint, and Jo pulled the ice pack away from Steve’s jaw. The bruise wasn’t very big and was already fading, and Jo smiled a little.

“Did we miss something?” Tony asked with a yawn.

“Just a friendly spar,” Steve said and stepped away to sit down. Bruce mumbled a good morning as he stepped around Jo and Tony, and Darcy kept her eyes on the twosome as she took another bite. Jo pushed up onto her toes and whispered something in Tony’s ear, and whatever it was made Tony smile like…well, it’s how Darcy would smile if she won the lottery. Tony whispered something back that made Jo giggle, which was a little unusual, and the bodyguard pulled her boss over to the table.

“And now we shall feast!” Thor distributed the plate of pancakes, Darcy might’ve started without everyone else, and everyone tucked into their food. She looked to her side, where Jo was sitting, and felt her eyes go wide. Jo’s stack was twice the size of everyone else’s, and she leaned around the towering tower of pancakes to beam a smile at Thor.

“You’re the best god ever! I shall sing your praises until my dying breath!” Thor’s booming laugh echoed in the room as they began to eat, and Darcy felt like something heavy had been lifted from her shoulders.

“Hey, Jo, do me a favor?” Jo looked at her with puffed out cheeks, and she drank half a bottle of water to wash the pancakes down.

“Whatcha need, Darce?” There’s that nickname again; she’s gonna kill Tony for starting that.

“Can you watch after Tony today? I’m gonna take Thor shopping.” The Thunder God, no, The God of Pancakes nodded excitedly across from her.

“Sitting right here,” Tony said in a sing-song voice.

“Yeah, sure. I feel like being lazy today anyway,” Jo shrugged.

“We’ve got a tango class at three,” Clint pointed out.

“When did you have time to set that up?” Jo asked.

“When you took that extra long nap.”

“Knowing the tango could be useful,” Natasha whispered.

“We should be back by three,” Darcy said.

“Good, because I don’t think Tony should be left alone. He’ll stop eating. And showering.”

“And singing.” Darcy and Jo shared a smile as Tony took turns glaring at them, and Darcy felt something very odd settling over her. It felt like…home.


“You don’t have to babysit me,” Tony grumbled. Jo placed the peanut butter and jelly sandwich next to his elbow and then jumped up to sit on the table.

“I like to think of it as spending quality time together.” Big brown eyes glared up at her, but Jo just flicked the end of his nose and pointed at the sandwich. “Eat. Before you pass out.”

“Are you wearing my tee shirt to tango class?” Tony pointedly took a very big bite of his sandwich as he waited for her to answer.

“Yes. Don’t worry though, I’m taking a pair of heels with me. Want a full report when I get back?” She chugged down some of Tony’s water and then handed it to him so he could wash the peanut butter down.

“I plan on getting it all on video. Did you take Bruce a sandwich too?” Jo blinked and tried not to feel…she’s not really sure what she’s feeling.

“Should I? Does he work like you do? I’ll go make one,” she said and slipped off the table. Tony grabbed her wrist before she could take a step, and she looked down at him.

“Bruce is a little more responsible than I am, so cool your jets. It’s just…”


“Darcy is the little sister we both never wanted but want to keep around anyway, you’re friends with both the assassins, and you’ve sparred with Thor and Rogers.”

“Point?” She doesn’t like where this is going, because she knows exactly where this is going.

“You haven’t really talked to him since he got here, and you were the best of friends over a phone line.” Jo leaned back against the table, and she dimly registered Tony holding her hand instead of gripping her wrist.

“I was a complete idiot after he did that whole protecting me thing. Why couldn’t I have passed out like a normal damsel? No, I had to babble about nakedness, heroes, and the color green,” she finished with a groan.

“Are you…embarrassed?!” Jo swatted at Tony’s laughing face, but he easily ducked her swing and then pulled her to him. He wrapped his arms around her hips and continued to laugh into her stomach, and Jo crossed her arms and rested them on top of his head.

“It’s not that funny. Feeling embarrassed after doing something embarrassing is completely normal.” Tony continued to laugh for another moment, wiped his face on her shirt, and then leaned back so that just his chin was pressing into her stomach.

“You know Bruce doesn’t care about any of that, but you can’t avoid him. He’ll think he did something wrong, and—”

“Don’t worry, Tony. I like the Doc, so I’m not going to avoid him. Just let me rebuild my dignity a little first.” Tony wants to dig, she can tell that from the look in his eyes and the gentle pull of his mind, but he’s not going to. That’s good, because she’s not really sure what she’d say.

“You’re going to be late for your tango class.” Jo smiled down at him, because she’s so happy that Tony has changed into such an amazing person.

“Have fun playing with your toys.” She ruffled his hair and danced away before he could retaliate. She paused in the doorway to the lab and looked over her shoulder. “And Tony?”


“I love you.” Tony’s answering smile was small but made him look…softer. He mouthed back a reply, and Jo skipped into the hallway and all the way to the elevator.


“Please tell me that this is actually happening,” Jo whispered as Clint pressed up against her.

“Oh, it’s definitely happening,” he whispered back as their hips swayed. Eight couples were spread throughout the small ballroom, and their dance instructors were very friendly. They’re also good at their job and are leading them through basic steps before doing anything complicated.

“He’s surprisingly graceful for someone his size,” Jo commented.

“And she’s surprisingly patient for someone with her temperament,” Clint added. They both watched as the male instructor walked over to Natasha and Thor, and Thor’s booming laugh filled the room a moment later. Jo was a little confused when Thor said he would like to learn how to do this Midgardian dance, but the real shock was when Natasha offered to be his partner. Jo really hopes that Tony wasn’t joking about filming this.

“Perfect, perfect, perfect! You two are naturals! Are you lovers?” Jo and Clint shared a look before turning to the female instructor, and they smiled in unison.

“Just close friends,” Jo offered up.

“We’ve been dancing together for years,” Clint explained.

“Excellent! You two will be star pupils! Now, dance! Dance!” The woman spun away, and Jo and Clint started moving again. They moved over closer to Thor and Natasha, who were doing pretty good for beginners. Thor wasn’t stepping on Natasha’s toes.

“Why do you two do this all the time?” Natasha asked once they were close enough.

“Because it’s fun,” Jo said with a teasing grin. She can rarely get away with teasing Natasha, because she’s always armed, but Natasha won’t shoot her here. Later, maybe.

“Because it’s relaxing,” Clint said with a fond smile. Those are the two reasons that they dance; for the pure enjoyment of it and because one of them needs to relax and forget something.

“This dance is…complicated,” Thor said. He’s still smiling though, so he’s at least enjoying himself.

“Should we help them?” Clint asked her. Jo help Natasha? It’s an opportunity she can’t pass up.

“How?” Clint seemed to think it over, while the three of them just looked at each other in slight confusion and a little apprehension.

“Just, mirror what we do, okay? Match our bodies exactly.” Clint pulled her in close, and Jo rested her weight on her heels and waited for Clint to lead.

“Bend your knees,” Jo said as they started the first step.

“And don’t be afraid to touch. Tangoing is all about touching,” Clint added. They moved through the first eight steps with ease, but they kept their eyes on Natasha and Thor.

“You gotta let Thor lead a little. If you don’t trust your partner, you’ll never be able to do it right.”

“Lead with your whole body. Let every little touch be a guide.”

“And once you get the basics down—”

“—you can really have fun with it!” Jo squealed as Clint lifted her into the air and spun them around, and she could hear the other couples clapping as she was lowered back to the ground.

“Show off!” she whispered.

“Yup. Ready to go again?”


When the four of them walked into Avengers Mansion, it was to loud applause and a wolf whistle from Tony. Tony, Darcy, Bruce, and Steve were waiting for them in the foyer. Jo and Natasha were both carrying their heels instead of wearing them, and Clint and Thor were both smiling like they’d won something. Probably because they didn’t have to wear heels while dancing. Darcy broke free from the small line first, and Thor swept her up into a spinning hug.

“Dance with me, Darcy!” Thor yelled as they spun around. Jo ducked under one of Darcy’s airborne legs and made her way over to Tony and the Doc.

“What’d you do?” she asked as soon as she was close enough.

“We broadcasted. You and Clint show off way too much. I think you might have an ego issue,” Tony said solemnly.

“Ignore him, ma’am. You and Clint were amazing,” Steve said. He said it so sincerely that Jo almost felt like blushing.

“And how was my performance?” Natasha asked with a quirked brow.

“Amazing,” Steve said with another sincere smile. No one can get mad at Captain America. Not even Natasha.

“Bruce! Tell us that we were amazing!” Clint said as he ran over. Darcy was hanging over one shoulder, until Thor appeared and took her away.

“Jo, you were amazing,” Bruce said with a small smile.

“Favoritism! Thor! I need Darcy because I’m sad!”

“It’s like living with children,” Tony groaned.

“Freddie.” Tony’s eyes widened at the mention of his little rubber ducky, and Jo smiled in pure innocence.

“Okay, kiddies! Fun time’s over!” Thor, Clint, and Darcy came to an abrupt halt, with Darcy smushed between the two taller men.

“I’m hungry. Steve, escort me,” Natasha said and turned to the side. Steve offered his arm, Natasha took it, and the two of them disappeared.

“I have worked up quite the appetite,” Thor agreed. Darcy was on his back now and having a one armed slap-fight with Clint, and the three of them moved after Natasha and Steve.

“Are you going with them?” Tony asked.

“Nope. I think I’ll hit up your candy stash. Want some, Bruce?” She turned to look right at the Doc, and he met her eyes for less than a second before looking away.

“I’ll pass this time, but thank you. I think I’ll go up to bed,” he said quietly. Jo and Tony watched him go, and they could hear the loud laughter drifting out of the kitchen.

“Did I do something wrong?” she whispered as they waited for the elevator. They could have gone up with Bruce, but they both made the decision to wait.

“He’s still adjusting, and you did kind of jump on him and call him your hero.” Jo groaned aloud, once again in embarrassment, and dropped her head onto Tony’s shoulder.

“Cheer up,” Tony said and bounced his shoulder.

“I’m such an idiot.” She’s not whining. Well, maybe a little. Just a touch.

“You want some M&Ms?” Jo twisted to meet his eyes, and Tony smiled at her. A great big grin that made his eyes crinkle.

“You’re my best friend, Tony.”

“I know.”



“I love you.”

“I know.”


“I love you too.”
♠ ♠ ♠
So, I changed up Thor: The Dark World. Why? Because I refuse to accept that Frigga's dead. Thor's mama is the coolest lady ever and super badass, so I'm keeping her alive. Also, can't you see Odin telling his son that his mother is dead just to get him to do what needs to be done? (I really don't like Odin.) As for Loki, he's back in prison. It will be a long way down the road, but Loki will pop up again eventually. Just know that for now, he's sitting in a cell and behaving.

I think this chapter might have been bordering on crack...because I had way too much fun writing it. Everyone is now officially in the house, so let the team bonding begin!