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One Day at a Time

Chapter Text

Avengers Compound, Northern New York, November 2017

Tony watched the recording closely while tossing a rubber ball between his hands absently.

The picture was grainy, but it was clear enough to get a general feel for what was happening.

On-screen, a teenager pulled a gun from his opponent’s hands and crushed it in his fist before a little girl fell from somewhere above the camera’s sightlines (presumably the ceiling) and knocked the man out cold.

Other HYDRA agents came running into sight and began firing. Another boy appeared seemingly from nowhere between them and waved a hand with strange energy trailing behind, ricocheting the bullets back to their original owners.

The clip stopped after the first boy nudged the second and pointed to the camera.

“Play it again,” he said automatically. “From the top.”

The door to his lab opened, but he didn’t look.

“Find anything?” Rogers leaned against the workbench behind him.

Tony shrugged.

“Not much, but it’s something.” He waved his hand in the air, moving the clip along and pausing it at the second boy’s little hand wave. “You see that?”

Rogers cocked his head to the side when Tony looked back.

“The energy? Tony, we all noticed that on Day One.”

Tony nodded, ignoring his comment.

“What does that look like to you?”

Cap looked at the screen again.

“Without it being in color, I can’t make a definite guess, but I’d say that’s a little too close to Wanda’s.”

Tony pointed at the Captain.

“Yes! That.” He sat on the table next to the other man. “But it doesn’t make sense.”

Rogers nodded.

“If these kids are the same as Pietro and Wanda, why are they turning on the people that made them?”

Tony shrugged and picked up his tablet.

“Yeah, that too.” He tapped the screen a few times. “But according to the HYDRA files we’ve picked up, they were the only two successes; everyone else bit it.”

The Captain sighed and ran a hand down his face.

“I don’t know what to tell you, Tony.” He straightened. “Come on, Thor’s brother is supposed to be visiting from wherever he ran off to this week.”

Tony groaned but complied, shutting off the video and locking up his lab.

 

 

 

Steve strode through the halls of the compound, Stark loudly objecting to his being required to at least say hi to Loki. (“It’s not like he’ll even notice I’m not there!”)

When they entered the common room, Loki was on the couch with the rest of the Avengers crowded around, enraptured by the man’s story. Steve thought they looked like children.

Looking around, Steve found Bucky sitting next to Clint on the kitchenette counter with a mug of something steamy in his hands.

Bucky nodded in Steve’s direction before returning his attention to the trickster’s story.

Thor let out a boisterous laugh as Loki ended his story, the latter looking positively proud of his latest trick.

“Captain Rogers, Mr. Stark. It is good to see you again.” Loki smiled in their direction.

Steve returned the sentiment as Tony hopped the back of one of the couches.

“How was… wherever you were?”

“Oh, I was Knowhere.” The gleeful look in his eyes told Steve that that was indeed a real place.

Thor broke in with a smile: “I heard that it had been destroyed by the Kree, but that appears to not be so.”

Loki shook his head and lifted his glass.

“It would take much more than a single attack for such a place to fall.”

“Sounds like somewhere I need to visit,” Clint remarked, twirling an arrow between his fingers.

Loki smiled cheekily, but Natasha cut off his reply before they could start planning an interstellar road trip.

“Hey, Tony, do you think Loki could help us with the Mystery?”

Loki’s eyes sparkled as he looked to his brother.

“You did not tell me there was a mystery, brother.”

Thor shrugged.

Tony stood and “pulled” the holographic screen down, the windows shuttering automatically. The room darkened, he brought the clip to the screen and pressed play.

Loki stood and walked closer as the second boy appeared.

The clip froze on the last frame and Loki turned to Wanda, sitting on the floor with her feet in her brother’s lap.

“Would I be correct in believing that I’ve not been gone long enough for you to have a grown son?”

Wanda spluttered a moment, her brother blinking at Loki before bursting into tears of laughter.

When Pietro had quieted (Wanda’s glare helping that along very well) Steve spoke up.

“Why would you ask?”

Loki tapped his chin and began pacing.

“The boy’s magic is similar to yours, but it has more of an inherited quality to it.” He stopped pacing long enough to wave a hand, somehow clearing up the picture and providing a detailed look at the children while still remaining black and white.

The first boy was pubescent, but certainly not in his teens, with strong features and bright, intelligent eyes. He carried himself with confidence and he still had angled himself between the dead HYDRA agents and the little girl.
She was a toddler with her long hair in a braid and her back straight, more like an adult. But the most obvious thing was her eyes. She had spider-eyes, eight of them, exactly where a normal human’s would be.
The second boy was a little older than the first. He had dark hair and softer features. And it was unmistakable: he had Wanda’s eyes.

All of them were dressed in jeans and ratty old sweatshirts.

So, they’re on their own, Steve thought.

Wanda said something that Steve didn’t understand.

Loki hummed softly and backed the clip to the beginning, watching as it replayed again and again.

The twins stood behind him, watching the second boy through every playback.

Loki paused the clip in the same place and looked back at Steve.

“Interesting.” And he hit play again, watching it through a few times before pausing again and looking between Bucky and Natasha. “Very interesting.”

“Well, spit it out already.” Clint’s voice was almost too loud in the silence.

Loki crossed his arms and faced the group.

“Do you have any other recordings of these children?”

Everyone looked to Tony.

“This was the only documented proof of their existence, but we have been finding the remnants of HYDRA bases all over and every survivor reported children being the ones to shut them down.”

Loki began drumming his fingers on his arm.

Steve felt about ready to pull his hair out. A quick look to Bucky said that he was no better, his mug developing fine cracks along its porcelain surface.

“Brother,” Thor interrupted, realizing how uncomfortable his friends had become in the silence. “I would suggest that you explain.”

The trickster lifted a corner of his mouth in apology.

“Last year, I told you that I had come to your planet to visit my brother,” he began and pulled a round disk from his pocket, which he dropped into the center of the living room floor. “That’s not entirely true.”

The disk shone a bright light from the center which coalesced into images and maps and 3D mock-ups of people, filling the room. Directly above the disk: Six colored crystals shone.

“The Infinity Stones,” Thor breathed.

Loki smiled.

“Yes. At the beginning of the universe, six stones were scattered throughout creation, each one controlling some aspect of reality.” He waved five of the stones away, leaving the green gem. “A little over a year ago, I felt the power of the Time Stone activating and was able to trace it here.”

Steve stepped closer to the projections. The stone glowed. He glanced to the faintly glowing stone in Vision’s head.

“When I found it, its guardian assured me that it hadn’t been activated but she had felt it as well.”

Natasha crossed her arms, a sure sign to anyone that knew her that she was nervous.

“So, you’re saying that someone split it in half?”

Loki shook his head vehemently.

“If that were to happen, all of time would collapse in on itself. We would have been too late.” He brought up what appeared to be footage of places on alien worlds. “The only way for there to be two of these stones would be if someone used it to travel or to send someone else.”

“Through time,” Clint provided.

“Exactly.” Loki began one of the recordings. “Shortly after, I began hearing rumors of children with extraordinary abilities throughout the cosmos.”

The screen showed a teenaged girl with honey-colored hair cast lightning from her fingertips, striking a group of guards before she marched past their twitching forms and retrieved something from their computers.

Loki brought up a different recording, this time from a camera inside SHIELD.

Steve felt a twinge of confusion before his mind caught up with him and he realized that this was an older recording.

The camera was over a lab, techs swarming about as they studied their latest discovery. That is, until the alarm went off and all but one of them scurried off into a safe room.
A young woman, maybe in her late teens with a nearly-shaved head, entered the room covered in flames. She stood next to the remaining tech as he melted and coalesced into something resembling a mannequin about the size of a small teenager.

The two went to separate computers and began downloading something onto USBs. Within two minutes, they were gone.

Scott swore.

You said it.

Chapter Text

“Okay.” Tony clapped his hands together. “Recap: Somebody used one of these all-powerful stones to send a bunch of kids, a few of which may or may not belong to members of this team, back in time.”

Loki nodded.

“Oh, great.” Tony turned around and walked straight to the bar.

Bucky shook his head.

“Did you have anything else you want to tell us?”

Loki put away the videos and brought the 3D models of two adults up against a nearby wall.

“From what I have gathered, these two are the leaders.”

The girl looked like a female Loki but the boy…

Bucky felt like he always did when he was looking at one of the pictures of himself from before. The boy had his eyes and jaw, and the only real difference he could see overall was the shock of red hair atop his head with the right side shaved.

He caught Natalia’s eye. Her face was schooled into a careful blankness as she looked away and studied the holograms.

Well… crap.

 

 

 

Two hours later…

Scott watched the others from his spot by the wall.

Tony had run off to his lab saying something about trying to predict where they were going to show up next and Bruce was in his room meditating, but the others had remained in the living room to brainstorm.

Loki had brought up recordings and maps of the other sightings he had investigated, and the team was going through them frame by frame to… what?

Scott didn’t understand how his teammates could be more comfortable with putting themselves in life-or-death situations than the idea of having kids. Being a parent wasn’t that daunting.

The screen played a clip of a girl (she couldn’t be much older than Cassie) unlocking an electronic vault by touching it.
A little boy walked up behind her and pulled the giant door open. The two of them removed a large, black chest and ran up to a suit of armor with a large gun on its shoulder.

The room was silent for a moment as everyone turned to Rhodes for answers.

The colonel studied the image a moment before his eyes widened.

“There, zoom in on the hip.” He pointed to the right side. “I always put my initials on the suit as soon as I get it back from Tony.”

Loki motioned for the image to zoom in on the markings and sharpened the image.

A very clear JR was etched into the metal with AR underneath.

Rhodes stared at the letters and emitted a soft huh after a moment.

It was looking more and more like Loki’s crazy theory wasn’t all that crazy after all.

 

 

 

The Black Widow sipped her tea as the others studied Loki’s findings.

Her eyes kept being drawn to the video in the corner, the one Tony had managed to acquire.

The little girl with red hair… It was like looking into the past, back to when she had been younger and in training. That was nearly a hundred years ago now. Had it really been that long?

She knew James had to be feeling the same way. His eyes kept darting between her and the same recording as if to say, I can’t believe it.

She looked at the girl’s face again. Clint had said that her eyes made the others a little “squeamish,” but she thought they were unique. They were fitting for a Black Widow’s daughter.

She looked healthy; happy and proud of herself. Natalia smiled into her mug.

She hadn’t thought she was able to have children. Sure, she could’ve adopted, but it hadn’t seemed fair to pull a civilian child into her life, even if it did ever calm down.

She still didn’t think it was fair to this little girl, or the boy for that matter, but it was reality.

She was pulled from her thoughts by Loki announcing that he had to leave.

“I will most likely be able to return in a few days.” And he vanished. She needed to get him to teach her that trick.

The others began to trickle off to bed, having realized that it was three in the morning.

She uncrossed her legs and stood from her seat on the counter.

As she rinsed her mug, Clint slid up next to her.

“How are you doing?” He was munching on a cold poptart.

She shrugged.

He shrugged back.

Silence.

“Are you worried about being a bad parent?”

She looked over at her partner. He was nibbling at his poptart.

“No. Are you?”

He shrugged again.

Seeing through him as she had always done, Natalia pulled him into a hug.

Clint leaned into it for a moment before collecting himself and mumbling that he was going to bed.

 

 

 

The next two days went by quietly.

The team continued to try and piece together what was going on, together and on their own.

Lang had grown quiet when they found a recording labeled at less than a week prior which showed a boy growing and shrinking in a suit similar to his.

Bucky, seeking solitude, sat just outside one of the side doors where the roof hung over just enough to protect him from the rain.

The faces of those children seemed stuck behind his eyelids and he couldn’t ignore it no matter how hard he tried.

The girl, so innocent and proud of herself for taking out the bad guy. How badly had he screwed her up?

The boy… He was a boy, no older than Bucky had been when he was assigned to the 107th. That unsure but determined glint in his eyes and the half-smile he wore like a mask. Bucky knew masks.

He couldn’t get the question out of his head: Why are they here?

His reality right now consisted of night terrors, trying to remember how basic human interaction worked, and regular visits to his therapist and lawyers. There was no way he was a good candidate for fatherhood.

The door opened and blew away his already scattered thoughts.

Natalia sat beside him, her hands pulled into her sweater-sleeves.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

They sat in uncomfortable silence for a few moments.

“So, are we going to talk about this or just pretend that we don’t know.”

He rolled his eyes at her irreverent tone.

“Now James, is that something you want to teach our children?”

That startled a bark of laughter out of him.

A minute or so of laughter and they settled back against the wall.

“You’re okay with it, then?”

She was silent for a moment.

“I think so. You?”

He shrugged.

They watched the rain and listened as it pitter-patted against the tree leaves and grass.

“My dad was a drunk.” Bucky hadn’t realized he was going to say it until it popped out. It felt good to get it off his chest, though.

Natalia hummed, letting him know she had heard.

“I don’t really think it matters what someone else did, as long as you do better.”

He wasn’t sure if he had. Or, would. Time travel was a complicated issue.

The pair sat silently, comfortably. It reminded him of when the two of them had waited for pick-ups after missions decades ago. (Bad memories, but positive pieces. His therapist would be proud)

“Did I ever tell you what year I put for my birthday when I joined SHIELD?”

He shook his head, still watching the trees.

“Nineteen eighty-four.”

They both laughed quietly. They had found that stupid book in an empty house somewhere when they needed to lay low and stayed up all night reading it to each other. (Another positive memory. Go, team.)

The sun began to dip low behind the clouds. Natalia shivered but didn’t move to leave.

Bucky’s eyes were drawn to a dark shape among the trees. Natalia stiffened beside him. No one was supposed to live for miles.

He grabbed the gun in his ankle holster and stood, following Natalia’s lead.

The figure stumbled out of the trees and fell to the ground, clutching something wrapped in a plastic shopping bag to her chest. Two other figures, these two huddled together and holding each other up, tripped their way to her side.

Children.

Bucky was already racing into the rain by the time Natalia opened the door and called for the other Avengers.

His hair and clothing were soaked by the time he crossed the field and reached them. Natalia skidded to a stop next to the unconscious girl and picked her up.

Bucky turned to the other children but stopped. A little boy, nearly dead on his feet but not shivering despite the cold. And a girl with long red hair tied back in a braid.

The girl shivered but managed locked eyes with him.

“James, we need to get them inside.”

Snapping out of the spell, he picked up both children and ran back across the field to where the other Avengers were gathered and holding the door open.

Bruce produced towels and handed one to Bucky after he set the children on the couch.

Bucky plopped the towel on the girl’s head and began patting her dry as best as he could while Bruce dried the boy.

“Are you okay?” he asked, draping the fabric around her shoulders like a blanket.

She nodded, a quiet uh-huh through her chattering teeth. Her eyes were wide and darted between the windows and back at the door they had entered from.

Chapter Text

Vision studied the children as the others fussed over them.

The sergeant tended to the girl presumed to be his daughter. Her arachnid-eyes were trained on the possible entrances, betraying a fear for whatever was outside, though she seemed at ease with the occupants of the room.

The unconscious girl still breathed, most likely collapsing due to exhaustion. Her eyes seemed to be covered in a cloth, hiding her eyes.
Miss Romanov had laid her on the other couch and was trying to rub some warmth back into her limbs while Barton wrapped her in a towel.

It was times like these that made Vision feel useless. He turned his attention to the boy.

The child’s eyes remained unfocused until Thor knelt beside Dr. Banner. He launched himself from a sitting position into the Thunderer’s arms and wrapped his own around the larger man’s neck.

Thor, caught off guard, began to pat his back before holding the boy away so he could look at him. He studied him a moment before nodding his head as if he’d come to some sort of conclusion.

“You are my brother’s son?”

The boy nodded, not meeting eyes or making a sound.

Thor took the towel from Bruce and wrapped it around the boy so that he was in a cocoon and picked him up.

“Come, we will make some hot chocolate for you and your friends.” And he marched him into the kitchenette, placing him on the counter.

Sam Wilson came back into the room, disappearing at some point during the yelling, with an armful of shirts.

“They’re fresh from the dryer,” he supplied as he passed them out.

“I don’t think we have anything for children here.” Pietro shrugged.

The red-head took the shirt, quietly whispering a thank you, and walked to the bathroom.

Barnes looked back to the blonde girl as she began to stir.

Her breath caught in her throat, and she pulled her limbs in close.

Natalia shushed her.

“It’s okay, you’re safe.”

The girl seemed to recognize the voice and loosened her limbs a little.

“Can you tell us your name?”

The girl was silent as she deliberated answering.

“Luna.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Luna.” The Widow nodded, despite the girl not being able to see her. “Can you tell us how you got here?”

“Walked.” She sat forward. “Where’s daddy? He’s supposed to be here, but he won’t know me.”

The last bit sounded sad to Vision’s ears.

Romanov looked to Captain Rogers and back to the little girl, unsure of what to say.

Vision cleared his throat.

“I’m sure we can find him and explain the situation for you.”

Luna’s face lit up in a bright smile.

“Uncle Vision!”

He scrambled through his brain for words and finally turned to Wanda for support.

Her eyes were trained on the little girl in thought.

“Can you tell me why your eyes are covered?” He knelt in front of the girl.

“Everything’s too bright. Lost my glasses.” She fiddled with the bottom of the blindfold.

Vision looked to Stark, who produced a pair of his signature sunglasses.

“Would any pair of sunglasses do?” He held the shades to the hand in her lap.

“Yes, thank you.” She pulled the fabric away, revealing closed lids, and placed the frames on her nose.

The girl looked around at the Avengers until she landed on Pietro leaned against the wall behind the couch. She smiled and turned back to Romanov.

“Found him.”

 

 

 

Steve watched the Twins and Vision with Luna. They seemed happy… ish.

They had gotten her changed into a loose Earth’s Mightiest Heroes t-shirt that fit more like a smock, but it was dry. (The other two having changed into similar attire)

Thor’s nephew, who Luna called Asmund, was stirring his hot chocolate incessantly, occasionally stopping to tap the spoon on the rim, while the Thunderer himself sat in silence and watched the boy.

Bucky’s daughter, apparently named Rebekah, had fallen asleep in his lap after informing them that the plastic-wrapped item was a hard-drive/receiving device sent by her older brother.

FRIDAY interrupted the sudden domesticity to inform them that Tony had integrated the device and wanted them all in the lab.

Bucky carefully slid the girl off his lap and adjusted the blanket around her.

Thor stood, assuring Asmund that he wouldn’t be long.

Pepper, whom Tony had called in and explained the situation to, waved from the couch before Luna snuggled next to her.

The team found Tony surrounded by holographic files in his lab, each with a name on it.

“Was this all on that thing?” Sam asked.

“Yes, but that’s not the reason I called you in here.” Tony pulled up a live feed. “Whoever sent this gave me direct access to their security cameras.”

The screen showed the inside of a factory, beds on the floor and hammocks hanging from machinery. It was empty but showed signs of a struggle; beds had been flipped and a few hammocks were only hanging from one side, bedding strewn around.

Steve stepped closer and saw blood or scorch marks in a few different places.

Tony hit playback and rewound.

Rebekah was recognizable hanging from a hammock and laughing down at Luna. Other children played or read nearby and Steve saw Bekah’s older brother standing around a map table with some of the older children. The War Machine armor stood off to the side.

Steve saw the vigilante Spider-Man hanging above the table without his mask. (Tony mumbled about having “been so close to tracking him down”)

It was a mix of domestic and war-time soldier dynamics.

“Just watch.” Tony’s voice allowed no argument.

A teenager with an eerie mask, its face blank and pale with dark holes for the eyes and a black slit for the mouth, materialized next to the leader and pointed off-camera.

The group scattered, grabbing weapons and pulling the smaller children to safety.

The other leader, Loki’s daughter, picked up Rebekah and Asmund, running towards a large drain near the back of the room. Luna followed and stood with the others as the young woman lifted back the drain’s cover. She handed Luna the plastic-covered device and lowered the three of them down the hole, replaced the grill and turned to join the others.

The remaining children were scattered around the cavernous room, hidden in strategic locations. One of them had donned the War Machine armor and stood behind a concrete wall.

The screen was still for a moment until a door was blown clear across the screen. HYDRA agents swarmed through the open door, a few being taken down but the majority making their way through the entrance.

The shapeshifter darted between the intruders, along with the masked ghost, until they were both electrified into losing consciousness. Agent after agent fell. The fire-girl lit nearly a dozen of them on fire before she was sprayed with foam.

One by one, the children were beaten by the enemy. Some of them were only beaten when they lost focus, calling out to a fallen comrade, but in the end, there was no one left standing.

Tony stopped the playback.

“The rest is just HYDRA dragging them out in various states of containment.”

“How long ago was this?” Bucky’s eyes were still focused on the image.

“Three days.”

Clint swore, running a hand through his short hair. Steve couldn’t say he didn’t agree.

“Are they still alive?” Pietro’s voice was small but filled with rage.

“I don’t know.” Tony opened a few of the files surrounding the group. “But if I were to hazard a guess, HYDRA won’t purposefully kill them; they’re too valuable.”

Steve wasn’t sure if that was better or not.

“As long as they are cooperative, they will remain alive.” Natasha crossed her arms. “They sent this message-“

“And their files with every bit of their medical information in it,” Tony broke in.

She nodded.

“So, they must have faith that we will find them.” Everyone looked to Stark.

“Well, one of them was able to attach a tracking device to something; judging by the movement, I would assume it was a guard.” He tapped on his device a few times. “And it has stopped, probably at their base of operations.”

Steve nodded.

“Okay, we’ll follow that.”

“And I just sent photos and names to all of your StarkPads.”

“We leave in five.”

Chapter Text

Thor left the lab and marched back to the common room.

Asmund was still where he’d been and seemed to be looking for life’s greatest mysteries in the dredges of his hot chocolate, but he looked up and smiled when his uncle entered.

Thor tried to smile back, but he knew it didn’t quite reach his eyes. He sat across from the boy.

“My friends and I are going to retrieve the others, so I will be gone for a little while.” Asmund’s face screwed up, but Thor continued. “Your father should be here any day now and the Lady Pepper will be here to watch over you.”

The boy nodded without looking at him.

Thor leaned closer and spoke softly.

“Everything will be alright.”

 

 

 

The quinjet rattled around him as Bucky memorized the names and faces on his tablet.

The masked boy turned out to be another of his. The reason he wore said mask was because underneath, he had the look of a corpse; he was another of the “gifted” and, like his sister, his appearance was just a side-effect. His hair was a gray-black and his cheeks were gaunt. His eyes were a glassy blue-grey.

Stark had two time-travelers, and another already here. Wilson’s was the shapeshifter. Banner had a kid that was technically a clone. (Friggin’ evil mad scientists…)

Stark stood near the front, guiding Barton through the mountains and talking on his suit’s phone.

“Good news,” he called back to the rest of them. “Pepper called in the medical team, so they’ll be there when we get back.”

The quinjet hit a gust of air and jerked. Bucky swallowed. Turbulence wasn’t exactly one of his favorite things.

“T’Challa is on his way, too.”

Clint called back that they were coming up on the landing point.

Banner stood by the door, Iron Man, Thor, and War Machine joining him.

“Remember: We’re the distraction; you guys get them out of there.” Stark had his rarely-seen serious voice on.

Steve slid his shield off of his back.

They checked their coms. Bucky double-checked his ammo.

The door opened, the heavy hitters running out and straight for the supposedly-abandoned factory that served as the HYDRA base.

Bucky and the others followed behind, splitting off before they left the tree line to circle around to the sides.

Steve rammed his shield into the emergency exit, crushing it in and to the side.

Two guards were passing through the hallway, but Barton had them down with two arrows before they could pull their guns.

The halls were blank and the same everywhere they looked until they came into a large room with cages spread throughout it.

Nice to know HYDRA doesn’t learn any new tricks.

Over two-dozen guards came from all directions, enough for everyone to have at least two.

Natalia leaped over the railing to the floor below, the others following. Bucky hit the ground and backed towards the cages, eyes focused on the entrances.

 

 

 

Natasha reached the nearest cage and began picking the locks. Inside was the girl that had opened the vault (who she now knew was one of Stark’s) and the fire girl. (Rogers’ eldest) Both had some sort of collar around their necks, lights blinking every few seconds.

“Is everyone alright?”

The door opened with a click.

Behind her, Steve had bent the bars to make a hole wide enough to fit through and was continuing to do so with the other cells.

The masked teenager – Danny – came over to her with his eyes wide and brows pulled together, the silver band around his neck flashing.

“They took Yasha,” he informed her, pointing to the door at the far end.

Separate the leaders from the herd.

She looked to James. His eyes were wide. They both knew what being separated meant.

“Go with the others.” She took the boy’s arm and nudged him toward James.

Steve met her eyes and nodded.

As the others began to leave, a massive BOOM echoed.

She put a finger to her com as she ran through the other door.

“Red Team, we still have one missing.”

“Copy that, Widow,” Rhodes’ voice crackled across the line.

The halls here were cleaner, brighter and smelled of bleach. As if they had recently been mopped.

Not good.

The guards went down easily enough. One nearly shot her in the head, but she’d been needing a haircut anyway.

They entered a lab with instruments, some she knew the purpose of and others she didn’t want to.

They passed through, dealing with the scientists as they went.

Steve opened a door marked Authorized Personnel Only and they ran through without looking.

It was empty except for an operating table in the center of the bright room, a young man on it. Yasha, her mind supplied through the haze of adrenaline.

His limbs and bare chest were covered in electrical burns, leather and metal straps holding him to the operating table. His left eye was drowned in blood and the side of his mouth underneath had been carved up in a nasty smile and sewn hastily shut.

Natasha tried to comfort herself in that the damage to his face was probably from an escape attempt and whoever had been on the other side of that was probably in a black bag somewhere.

He was muttering numbers and had one of those collars around his neck.

“Seven hundred twenty. Seven hundred thirteen. Seven hundred six. Six hundred ninety-nine.” His voice was hoarse and not quite conscious.

She began undoing the straps on his wrists while Steve undid the ones on his feet. They struggled, wincing at every one of the boy’s hisses and whines, as their fingers slipped in the blood from his earlier struggles. He didn’t seem to have the energy to fight back anymore.

“Hey.” She pushed his hair back from his sweaty face, careful to avoid the pock-marks and gash. “I need you to wake up.

His one good eye opened and focused on her for a moment.

“M’m?”

She let out a breath of relief.

“Yeah. We need to go.” She helped him sit up, allowing him to put most of his weight on her.

Steve came and took his other side.

The boy stumbled a little, but between her and Steve, they were able to hobble him back through the halls.

Steve had the presence of mind to report in.

“We need an emergency evac from the south entrance.”

“Copy.” Clint. “Status?”

“Objective acquired, but he needs medical attention.”

The line beeped an acknowledgement.

They reached the outer door, Steve’s earlier break-in leaving it wide open.

Natasha focused on her son as they hobbled through the make-shift exit. The monsters were dead already anyway.

The quinjet hovered just above the ground in front of them, ramp lowered enough for them to jump in.

They half-dragged the injured boy up the ramp and set him on the travel gurney attached to the wall, strapping him in.

Collapsing in her seat as Clint took off, she looked around.

Most of the Avengers stood, hanging onto the wall, while the seats were filled with the children.

Banner sat across from her, exhausted from his transformation, with a little boy fast asleep in his lap.

James was on the floor next to Danny, their backs against the pilot’s seat.

They had made it...

Chapter Text

Bucky stood by the wall, overseeing the medics look over his children.

His. A word he didn’t think he’d ever use.

Stark had given the pertinent medical information for each of the rescued to the medical team, but Daniel still had to help the poor, confused medic. (He may look dead, but he most certainly wasn’t)

Yasha had been rushed off to a separate room where they worked to get him stabilized. They had said that his blood pressure had been dangerously low, and he was severely dehydrated.

Natalia slid next to him, Rebekah running next to her and leaping into her older brother’s arms. The girl had been changed into jeans and a t-shirt more her size.

“Hey, bedbug.” The two sat on the examination table, side-by-side, and kicked their feet in time.

Bucky chuckled. They were adorable.

The medic re-entered with her chart.

“You’re free to go, I guess.” She frowned down at her chart. “You’re sure that this is normal for you?”

“Yep.” The teenager grinned mischievously before both children hopped down from the table.

The parents led them upstairs to Natalia’s apartment.

Potts had ordered bunkbeds to be installed in the guest rooms of each apartment while they were gone. She had also had the foresight to have all of their things from the abandoned factory to be delivered.

There were two small boxes on the kitchen counter, just inside the door, with their names on them.

Danny picked his sister up and placed her on the bar stool, so she could reach her box.

The boy picked his mask from on top and held it a moment before turning it over. Inside were tally marks. He pulled a pocket knife from the box and carefully etched in another.

“Pepper had some clean clothes delivered, too,” Natalia informed them.

Rebekah yawned and crawled into Bucky’s arms.

Danny smiled at the little girl. He lifted both boxes and followed Natalia as she led him to their room.

The beds were simple iron with plain, blue sheets and warm quilts. In the corner, two dressers sat full of clothes.

She deposited Bekah on the top bunk and pulled the blanket up to her shoulders. The little girl’s breathing was deep and even.

Danny set the boxes on top of the dressers and opened the drawers, pulling a change of clothes.

“I’m going to take a shower.” He ran a hand through his hair.

Bucky stepped out of his way.

When the bathroom door clicked shut, both adults turned and made eye contact.

Natalia visibly seemed calm and collected, but Bucky could see the strain behind her eyes.

 

 

 

Grant, the unknown boy from the first video, and Teigen argued over the top bunk, Steve watching the petty debate with Sarah.

He was happy that Clint had agreed to teach him some basic sign language, but the boys were so fast that it was hard to keep up and he was only able to follow because Grant was speaking while he signed.

“You gonna do anything about this?” She nodded to the boys. Steve had been surprised to find out that the “fire girl” was his daughter.

The three of them had been showered and were exhausted, but not so tired as to be unable to argue.

Steve pulled a coin from his pocket and stepped closer to the boys, making sure that Teigen could see his face as he spoke.

“How about we flip a coin?” He looked to Grant. “Call it.”

“Heads!”

Steve flipped the coin and removed his hand to show…

I win! Teigen signed and raised his hands in the air.

Grant mumbled something under his breath but pulled back the bottom bunk’s covers and slid in.

Steve looked to Sarah, who just rolled her eyes and went to her room.

Steve pointed at Teigen and signed, Go to bed.

The boy nodded and climbed to his bed.

Steve turned out the light once he was safely under the covers and went to Sarah’s room.

The girl sat on her bed with headphones in and a book in her lap.

Steve turned to go but was stopped.

“Sorry we’re so much trouble.”

Steve sat on the bed by her feet.

“What makes you say that?”

She shrugged, setting her headphones in the book like a bookmark.

“You guys were just living your lives, saving the world, and suddenly, bam, you have kids to take care of.”

He sighed.

“Answer me one question: Did I send you back here?”

She cocked her head to the side.

“Tony actually gave the order, but yeah, I guess so.”

Steve smiled.

“Then you should know that I wouldn’t have allowed that if I didn’t want you here.”

She drew her legs up to her chest and draped her arms around them.

“You hear me?” He poked at her foot, trying to make her laugh.

She smiled.

“Yeah, I hear you.”

He stood.

“Now get some sleep.”

She nodded and slid under the covers as he turned out the light and shut the door.

 

 

 

Sam pulled the two cartons of ice cream out of the freezer and set them on the counter.

A shuffle from the door alerted him to the presence of Riley.

The boy’s features were smooth like a mannequin, just with darker skin and two slightly glowing, orange orbs for eyes.

He had apparently changed into a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie after his shower and was standing in the archway.

“Hey.” Sam set two bowls on the counter before opening the drawer and producing spoons. “How about some ice cream? I’ve got mint chocolate chip and butter pecan.”

Riley smirked and moved to sit on the bar stool.

“I’m allergic to nuts.”

“Mint chocolate chip it is.”

Sam filled the bowls to the brim and replaced the cartons in the freezer.

“So,” he began, sitting across from Riley. “Shapeshifting, huh?”

The boy swallowed a bite of his ice cream before answering.

“Yep.”

Sam watched him and took a bite from his own bowl.

“That’s gotta be cool.”

Riley’s skin flickered a little.

“I guess so.” He shrugged.

“Can you add extra limbs, or is it just a ‘change what you have’ sorta thing?”

The teenager smiled and licked his spoon as he thought.

“I’ve made wings, but never really thought about trying for extra arms.”

Sam nearly dropped his spoon.

“You did?” He leaned forward. “Did they work?”

Riley actually met his eyes for the first time and Sam swore that he saw a glint in the orange glow.

“Modeled ‘em after a bat's, so yeah.”

Sam grinned.

“I’m not even gonna ask how you found out they worked.”

The boy snorted.

“Yeah, you were pretty mad about it.”

Sam waved his hands in front of him rapidly.

“Nope, I really don’t want to know.”

“It was Danny’s idea!”

Sam rolled his eyes.

“Of course it was Barnes’ kid.”

Riley laughed.

Chapter Text

“Anybody got a wrench?”

“What size?”

“Doesn’t matter; I’m just trying to bang this piece into place.”

Scott set plates in front of Henry and Morgan.

“No inventions at the table.”

Henry picked up his… whatever it was and slid it under his chair.

The Avengers and their children (except for Barnes and Romanov, who were back in the infirmary trying to get information out of the doctors) had gathered in the communal kitchen to have breakfast and, so far, it was working out.

T’challa had arrived just in time to join them. (He was probably taking this better than anyone else)

“Pass the syrup, please.”

 Alex tossed the bottle to Francis, earning himself a warning look from Rhodey.

Tony knocked back the last of his coffee and went for a second cup but was distracted by a flash of green-gold light.

“I think I know where they-“

Loki had appeared in the corner but had frozen as he stared at the table and counters surrounded by people.

“Hello, father.” Uma decided to break the silence and waved from her spot at the opposite end of the table.

“… hello?” Loki looked to Thor. “Did I miss something?”

“Yes.” Thor moved the pancake he was cooking to the top of the stack. “You nearly missed breakfast.”

 

 

 

“I was only gone for three days!”

Loki paced up and down the length of the debriefing room.

“To be fair, they’d already been captured a full day before you left,” Clint pointed out.

The trickster sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Alright. What else did I miss?”

Natasha shrugged.

“Nothing, really.”

“Well, did they say why they were here?”

The Avengers looked around.

“We, uh, didn’t really ask.” Scott rubbed the back of his neck.

Loki took a deep breath and steepled his fingers below his chin.

“Ask yourself this question: How bad would things have to be for you to send your children back in time?”

Natasha looked to James, her own fear mirrored in his eyes.

“It would have to be the only recourse left to us,” Thor answered.

“We need to speak to the leaders.” Loki crossed his arms.

“Yasha is still recovering.”

Loki turned his attention to James and Natasha.

“What happened?”

“He was-“ she began. “The people who took him decided that they wanted to know how he worked.”

“Teigen told me that they were going to take Riley, but Yasha forced them to take him instead,” Steve elaborated.

Sam’s head swung around.

“They were going to-“ He paled and put his head in his hands.

“It doesn’t change things.” Loki put his hands on the table. “We need to know what happened.”

Tony looked up at the ceiling.

“FRIDAY, tell Lenore we want to ask her a few questions.”

Loki’s head whipped around, eyes wide. He collected himself, smoothing down the front of his black button-up.

The door opened, revealing the young woman. She held her hands folded neatly across her stomach and bowed ever so slightly upon entering.

Natasha saw the stress behind her eyes, though she hid it well. She knew Yasha’s injuries had worried her, spurring her into staying at his side throughout the night.

“You wished to see me?”

Tony pointed to Loki, who stuttered a moment.

“Yes, we need to know what cause us to send you all here.”

She frowned, looking at her hands.

“Earth was at war with itself.” She twisted the ring on her left hand as she spoke, lifting her head. “Various anti-mutant factions versus pro-mutant versus those who believed that mutants were somehow better than humans. There were humans and mutants on both sides, and it soon became a bloodbath.”

“Mutants?” Steve asked.

“They’re classified as homo superior or homo mutatis.” Bruce supplied. “They are humans with an added gene giving them varying gifts, which makes them superhuman.”

James sat forward suddenly.

“Like Captain Howlett.”

Tony looked between the two of them.

“We’ll get back to that later. You were saying, Loki Jr.?”

Both Loki and Lenore gave him the Look.

“At this date, the mutant population is less than one percent of Earth’s total sentient beings, but in the year we came from the numbers have grown to be closer to nine percent.”

Scott whistled.

“And what year is that again?”

“2043.”

Tony collapsed into one of the chairs.

“That’s fine; twenty-five years is plenty of time for us to figure this out.”

“I’m still a little confused,” Scott interjected. “What exactly happened and what’re we supposed to do about it?”

Lenore motioned to the tablet which controlled the holographic projector. Tony nodded and gestured for her to go ahead.

She pulled up the device they had sent and opened an encoded folder.

“If you hadn’t already guessed, most of our group are among the mutant population.” She opened two video files. “Many of the anti-mutant factions began planting bombs or committing acts of terrorism in known mutant schools and communities in the early 30s when they saw the up-tic in the population.”

She pressed play on one of the videos.

A reporter stood in front of the camera, voice drowned out by the loud gunfire. Cars burned in the background and people were running. By the nearby buildings, Natasha recognized it as somewhere in Manhattan.

“This is in ’42 when they bombed the law offices of a group that supported the Equality Agreement. They began to fire on the escaping survivors.”

“Equality Agreement?” Thor’s eyes remained on the screen.

“An addendum to the Geneva Convention that provided mutants and anyone from off-planet the same rights as any human.” She closed the video.

Rhodes nodded in acceptance of such an idea.

“This,” she said playing the second video. “Is the kind of thing that you traced the problem to.”

Natasha recognized Senator Kelly at one of his rallies in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The ticker at the bottom of the screen dated this as being filmed in 2010.

I stand in the shadow of a man who said, ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Several of the signs held by his supporters called for “death to all mutants.”

“I stand in the shadow of a man for whom the preservation of the union – and the ideals and hopes and freedoms for which it stands – “ Cheers interrupted his speech at this. “was worth any price, even his own life.”

She had heard this speech before and even then, before she had known about her own children, this had sickened her.

“Now, as then, this land we love faces a clear and present danger.” The senator held up a finger to emphasize his point. “For Abraham Lincoln, the challenge was slavery. For us, it is the mutant virus!”

Steve growled something unkind as the recording ended.

“The last time I heard someone talking like that, he didn’t stop with just one group of people.”

“He’s not the only one or the most vocal,” Lenore told them. “He’s just one of the earliest voices that will become like roaring thunder if left unchecked.”

“How are we supposed to compete with this?” Bruce asked, waving to the screen.

“The same way we help the kids.” Tony pointed to Natasha and Clint. “Do you two still have enough connections to create new identities?”

Natasha thought back to where her old allies from SHIELD had ended up.

“I may have a few.”

“Enough to make it look like they’ve been citizens since birth,” Clint added with a smirk.

“Okay, call them. Make it look like there was no time-travel involved and they’ve been here for decades.”

Lenore’s eyes lit up and she grinned.

“Bring us out, tell the world that you’ve been keeping us hidden for our own safety.”

“How does that solve the real problem, though?” Scott set his crossed arms on the table.

Tony grinned.

“Why is one group of people afraid of another?”

Loki’s face matched that of his daughter’s.

“Because they don’t understand them.”

Tony snapped his fingers and stood, walking around the table.

“We show the world what a mutant looks like, show them that they’re not really dangerous while there’s so few.” He practically skipped the next few steps. “By the time the population skyrockets, the people that are afraid are such a small number and the rest of the population sees them as crazies.”

Sam stepped forward and held up a hand.

“Wait a minute. Let me get this straight.” He looked at Tony like he’d grown a second head. “I’m all for stopping a huge, racist uprising that starts World War III, but you want me to put my kid on the front lines?”

Steve rapped on the table idly.

“None of them will stay hidden for long; it just isn’t possible with our reputation. This gives us the opening we need to have the world find out about them on our own terms.”

“Show of hands?”

Every hand but Sam’s went up. He sighed.

“Screw it. It won’t work unless we all work together.”

Chapter Text

The Avengers gathered their children in the common room and explained their plan.

“It’ll all hinge on you.” Steve made sure that they were fully aware of how serious this responsibility was.

“What about you?” Grant sat on the floor with his back to the couch, between a pair of legs.

“No one had any idea who we were or that we even existed before the Chitauri. Those of us presumed dead,” Natasha nodded to Steve. “Never had their identities revealed beforehand and the date they were revived was never released. It wouldn’t be that big of a stretch to say that any one of us was around before then.”

The group of children looked to Lenore for direction.

“It is a solid plan. Any holes can easily be filled in, should you all agree to it.” She stressed the all. No one would be forced, but they wouldn’t be left out.

Alex spoke for them: “We’re in.”

 

 

 

Natasha had been on the phone with one of her contacts when FRIDAY informed her that Yasha had woken up.

She nearly ran into James in front of the door to the infirmary.

When they entered, Yasha was sitting up, talking to Lenore. He looked up when they entered and smiled.

He had a half-healed scar reaching from his left eyebrow down and curving into the corner of his mouth and bandages riddled his arms and neck.

“Hello.” She felt stupid saying it, but what else was she supposed to say?

“Hey.”

“Yasha!” Rebekah flew between the adults and jumped onto the bed, wrapping her arms around her brother. “I knew you’d wake up.”

“Course I did. What would you do without me?”

Danny walked in.

“Let’s see: Get rescued, move in to the Compound, and find a way to stop World War III.”

Yasha raised an eyebrow and turned to the adults.

“Lenore told me. That’s a pretty risky plan.”

James crossed his arms.

“Eh, since when do any of our plans come without a risk or twelve?”

Lenore rolled her eyes before turning to Yasha.

“It was Tony’s idea and I supported it.”

“I never said it was a bad plan.”

Natasha decided to stop the debate before it devolved any further.

“Pepper’s calling in a reporter from the Times to do an exclusive on the team’s personal lives with the promise of a ‘surprise.’”

Yasha made an impressed face, nodding slightly.

“That would do it. Who’d she get?”

“Raaji Lal.”

“Isn’t that the guy who does the fluff pieces?”

James nodded.

“Not bad,” Yasha commented.

 

 

 

One week later…

Potts had ordered everyone to dress nice for the interview, which left Bucky in his nicest pair of black jeans and a navy-blue Henley.

The other Avengers were in similar attire; clean and professional, but still relaxed and comfortable.

Hope, whom Scott had called and explained the situation to, stood with the same poise as Potts. Bucky tried to exhibit the same kind of calm, but knew he was failing miserably.

FRIDAY’s voice came over the speakers, announcing that their visitor had arrived and causing every body in the room to stiffen slightly.

“Let him in,” Tony answered, straightening his button-down.

“Good morning,” Pepper greeted warmly as the man entered.

He was a man in his mid-thirties with curly black hair, a camera case over his shoulder, and a pencil behind his ear. He wore a holiday sweater, despite it still being a week before Thanksgiving, and a smile as warm as a lit fireplace on a cold, winter’s night.

“Ms. Potts,” he greeted with a handshake before turning and greeting the others with a nod a good morning. “To be quite honest, I thought the call to come here had been a prank.”

Tony laughed.

“Until the car came to pick you up, I bet.”

Wanda gestured to a chair, all of the Avengers lining up on the couches.

“Yes, sir.” He produced a notebook as he sat.

“You can call me Tony.”

“As you long as you call me Raaji,” the reporter responded without missing a beat. “Now, if you don’t mind my asking, why did you call me?”

Pepper cleared her throat, glancing to the others, before answering.

“With Thanksgiving coming up, we thought it would be a good time to introduce the public to what we are most thankful for.”

Raaji smiled.

“That’s a great idea.” He began taking notes.

“We also wanted to bring to attention a political issue that wasn’t being covered,” Steve added with his All-American Hero smile turned up to the max.

“What did you have in mind?”

Pepper nodded to Clint who stood and opened one of the doors that led off to the side. The children began to file out.

“Mr. Lal, we’d like you to meet our families.”

The man dropped his pencil, jaw dropping.

A few of the smaller children giggled. They were hushed and the group split off to join their parents.

Bucky held back his laugh as the man collected himself.

This was most definitely not what he was expecting.

Chapter Text

In all my years as a journalist, I have never been blindsided as hard as I was today.

A little less than a week ago, I received a call from someone claiming to be Pepper Potts, the CEO of Stark Industries and a personal hero of mine, with a request that I write a piece on the Avengers. She promised me a “surprise” if I accepted.

Needless to say, I didn't believe for even a second that it was the real Ms. Potts, nor did I expect anything to come from jokingly accepting. But this morning, promptly at 9am, as promised, a car came to my office with orders to bring me to the Avengers Facility.

I am unable to give a location due to a confidentiality agreement, but I was indeed driven to the Facility, as promised.

Upon arriving, the Ms. Potts and the Avengers themselves greeted me warmly. Iron Man, the Falcon, the Black Widow, and Thor; none were absent.

Now, as you can imagine, I was confused as to why a team of such fame as this would request a reporter who had never had anything more than a fluff-piece published.

“With Thanksgiving coming up, we thought it would be a good time to introduce the public to what we are most thankful for,” Ms. Potts answered.

Captain America added: “We also wanted to bring to attention a political issue that wasn’t being covered.”

I, of course, pulled out my pencil and got ready to write… but they weren't done.

Hawkeye opened a side door, revealing nearly two dozen children and teenagers.

The Avengers explained that they had kept their families a secret all this time because they were afraid for their safety.

“It's bad enough for a politician's kid; can you imagine how much pressure would've been dropped on our’s?” James Rhodes aka War Machine, previously of the United States Air Force, confided.

I was offered the opportunity to speak to the families individually and was ecstatic to learn what it was like to look at Earth's Mightiest Heroes and just see parents.

 

My first meeting was with Captain America and his three children.

The man was reserved and polite, but he exhuded the righteousness and passion you would expect from someone with his title.

His eldest, Sarah, 17, had an air of confidence around her that rivaled the Black Widow. Her head was shaved and her lips were painted black, causing the confidence to become slightly more like intimidation, but she was as polite and professional as her father.

The other two boys (Grant, 12, and Teigen, 8) were as excitable and rowdy as children at that age often are. I was surprised to learn that Teigen was completely deaf, his brother taking on the role of interpreter.

The boys explained to me that they had decided to join their father in the spotlight to bring to the public's attention the rights (or lack thereof) of mutants on behalf of their older sister.

[ Before I go any further, I must explain that “mutants” are humans with an added gene that gives them superhuman gifts. They currently make up 0.05% of earth's population and have garnered plenty of negative press in the past few decades. (As shown by the speeches of Senator Robert Kelly during his terms of 2007 to 2013) ]

The Captain encouraged his daughter to show off her gift. [Shown below: Sarah Rogers creating a ball of fire with her bare hands.]

 

I was then introduced to Ant Man and the Wasp.

The couple couldn't have been more different: he joked near constantly and she showed a sober, business-like attitude.

Their son (Henry, 12)  however, was a perfect mix of the two.

When asked what he thought of his parents and their job: “I'm very proud of them. There are a lot of bad people in the world that think they're stronger than everyone else, so my mom and dad have to be brave when they suit up.”

 

Iron Man and Ms. Potts are the ultimate power couple, and their three children just accent their good qualities.

Peter, 15, is the half-brother of A.J., 14, and Morgan, 11, but you wouldn't know it. They finish each other's sentences and support each other constantly.

Peter, like the Captain's sons, spoke up on behalf of his siblings’ rights as mutants. He spoke of the injustices committed by the Mutant Response Division, a military branch that responds when a mutant “becomes dangerous.”

Morgan told me of a story she had heard of a mutant being taken by the MRD for being seen moving a pencil with her mind in public.

The Stark family, despite their fears, expressed their thankfulness for the abilities that the two youngest showed.

“Are you kidding?” Tony Stark replied when asked about the matter. “Morgan can build a full computer out of scraps with her mind. What kind of a father would I be if I said that was a bad thing?”

 

Following the Starks, I met with the Falcon and his son, Riley, 14.

The Falcon was a kind man, welcoming any question I sent his way.

His son was the same, but his manners were the furthest thing from my mind when I saw him. The boy resembled more of a mannequin than a person, except his eyes were a glowing orange. He explained that he was also a mutant and his gift was that of shapeshifting, becoming someone or something else.

I told him that someone could consider that a danger to national security and his father replied: “So could the Black Widow. Riley's a good kid who only uses his ability so he can walk around in public without being run out of town.”

 

Hawkeye and his son were the most average family I'd met all day.

Francis, 18, was the spitting image of his father. He smiled the whole conversation and both men cracked jokes throughout.

The family told me of how Hawkeye couldn’t cook to save his life (unless you count making coffee) and could be trusted to make MREs taste even worse. (Francis brought himself to tears as he told me of the time his father set the kitchen on fire)

When asked why this family had decided to present themselves to the public, I wasn’t surprised to hear that it went back to mutant rights.

“My best friend has three kids,” Hawkeye said about the Black Widow. “They’re all mutants.”

Francis added: “If I’m able live my life without fear, then it would be unfair if my friends couldn’t do the same thing.”

 

A meeting with the Hulk sounds like something out of my nightmares, but in reality, was a very pleasant experience.

I was introduced to a quiet, unassuming man with glasses and a lab coat. His name: Dr. Bruce Banner. Yes, that Bruce Banner that disappeared almost two decades ago.

He explained that he had had a lab accident that left him in a Jekyll & Hyde situation.

Next to him sat a boy with a bright smile. Dr. Banner introduced him as his son, Juliann, 13. The boy was a clone, a product of a military group (he never did divulge which one) who wanted their own Hulk. It had worked, but they were left with a kind boy who could choose when, where, and how he “hulked out.”

Juliann expressed his immense pride at being Dr. Banner’s son.

“My dad is a genius scientist and a superhero. He can go from fixing scraped knees, to inventing a new kind of polymer that can survive immense heat and pressure, to helping the victims of a mine collapse.”

 

To my surprise, the Black Panther, the king of the African nation of Wakanda, welcomed the chance to speak with me.

I asked him of his welcome to the Avengers and if he thought that his involvement could cause tension among the other countries, but he assured me that his involvement was in no way a political “power move;” he explained that the Avengers were a group of gifted individuals that wished for the world to be a safer place and were willing to lay down their lives to protect it. (He also mentioned how Thor was a crown prince on another planet, so he was in good company)

His two children (Azari, 16, and Zataniah, 9) were every inch as regal as their father. They answered my questions succinctly while still managing to make it fun.

The king explained that his children were mutants and how, in Wakanda, being born with the gene was considered an honor and a great responsibility.

Azari, being next in line for the throne, had this to say: “My sister and I were already born with a great burden on our shoulders, the safety and prosperity of our people. But our gifts push that responsibility outwards, giving us the burden of creating a peaceful union between humans and mutants.”

[ Seen below: Azari, left, creating a ball of lightning and Zataniah, right, creating miniature animals out of ink from an encyclopedia. ]

 

Col. Rhodes, more commonly known as War Machine, sat with his son, Alexander, 15, who expressed his thanks for my agreeing to speak with them.

We spoke of the path that Col. Rhodes had taken from the Air Force to his retirement and subsequent association with the Avengers.

“Tony [Stark] had already offered the job in the beginning; I just took my time signing up.”

When I asked Alexander how he felt being surrounded by superheroes, he just smiled and said he “didn’t really see them as anything but parents who wouldn’t let you eat a whole pint of ice cream by yourself.”

I asked if either of them ever thought of Alex becoming an Avenger when he grew up. Alex just smiled and said that it was his main goal in life. (Col. Rhodes was quick to remind the boy that he had to graduate from university, first)

 

After speaking to the Rhodes family, I sat down with the Maximoffs.

The Maximoff Twins, better known as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, joined the Avengers at the Battle of Sokovia, along with the synthezoid, Vision.

Vision wouldn’t divulge his history, but the Maximoff Twins were open about having been born in Sokovia (Quicksilver joked that their accents were a dead giveaway)

Though their pasts are a mystery to everyone, they were glad to divulge their present with me.

The Scarlet Witch and Vision introduced me to their twin boys, Tommy and Billy, 13.

The boys, aside being twins, shared a commonality with their mother and uncle: their powers. Tommy was a speedster, like his uncle, and Billy shared his mother’s… talents.

In Quicksilver’s lap sat a little girl, who he introduced as Luna, 7. She wore a pair of sunglasses, which I was very curious about, as it was already quite dim inside due to the cloud-cover.

She explained that her gift was to see a person as they really are and sometimes the world is too bright; the colored glass dimmed everything to a more manageable level.

I asked Vision how he was able to live among humans without drawing attention to himself. His answer: Changing his appearance to that of your average stockbroker.

“I have lived most of my life in New York and have learned how to fit in quite well.”

 

My final interview of the day was actually with three families.

[Shown below, left to right: Thor standing behind his twin daughters, Torunn and Magda, 17; Thor’s brother, Loki, with his three children, Asmund, 7, Uma, 15, and Lenore, 23; the Black Widow and Sergeant “Bucky” Barnes with their children, James, Jr., 23, Daniel, 14, and Rebekah, 6.]

When asked why they all were speaking with me at once, they explained that Lenore and James (whom everyone called by the nickname Yasha) were married and they had become one big family. The decision to come together had been an easy one to make.

While Thor and Loki’s children would fit in anywhere on Earth, it shocked me to realize that the two members of the team that relied on secrecy and the ability to blend in wherever they went had children who could never do that.

Yasha had a long, distinctive scar, reaching from his eyebrow and curving down to his mouth, and was covered in bandages. He explained that one of the reasons for their sudden public debut was that he had been taken by HYDRA and the consensus was that it would be harder for him to disappear again if more people were to notice.

My first look at Danny and Rebekah caused me to do a double-take: Danny looked – for lack of a better word – like a corpse. He laughed and apologized if he had scared me, as did Rebekah, with her eight spider-eyes.

Sgt. Barnes explained that his children were mutants, but not the kind that could walk unnoticed in public. They had been forced to remain in hiding or risk the MRD taking them for “disturbing the peace.”

The three families teased each other and bickered amongst themselves, Uma conjuring and throwing a snowball at Torunn’s head at one point. (This prompted all of the adults, in unison, to say, “No snow in the house.”)

Magda, the younger of the twins, was quiet for most of the interview, but I was able to ask her what she thought of earth.

“It’s a good planet with many good people. I am proud to be able to call it home.”

 

When asked what their plans for Thanksgiving were, all of the Avengers informed me that they were going to Stark Tower to celebrate and watch the parade together.

 

 

For more information on mutants and the dangerous life that they face, go to www.themutanttruth.edu.

If you would like to learn more about the current laws regarding mutants, go to www.deptmutantaffairs.gov

Stark Industries has started a public campaign for what they are calling the Equality Agreement, which can be found and supported here: www.equalityforall.com

Chapter Text

Thanksgiving morning, Avengers Tower, New York City

Yasha watched his sister and Asmund mashing potatoes and smiled to himself.

This time last year, he and the other survivors had been hiding out in an abandoned house, struggling to survive. Today, they were safe, reunited with their families, and on their way to changing the future that they had escaped from.

Magda was bent over a recipe book with Aunt Wanda, trying to figure out what had gone wrong with their pumpkin pie, which was flat and singed around the edges.

“It’s starting!” Luna waved the rest of the room over to the window she had her nose pressed up against.

Outside, the giant balloons of beloved cartoon characters began to float past the tower. The window was soon filled with excited children.

Uncle Steve took the abandoned potatoes and finished mashing them before scooping them into a waiting bowl, covering them with a lid.

The adults went about making dinner, with the help of the older children.

Yasha picked up a stack of plates, meaning to set the table, but his father took them from him in one swoop.

“Uh-uh, you go relax somewhere. Watch the parade.” The older man began placing the dishes around the table.

“I'm not an invalid,” he groused.

His father stopped, stood still for a moment, and turned to Uncle Steve.

“You've influenced my kid.” He said it with such a serious tone, but his expression belied the mirth beneath it.

Steve grinned.

Yasha shook his head in exasperation and went off to find his wife.

Lenore sat in a corner with her father, speaking in hushed tones. She smiled when she saw him approaching.

Loki turned to him and nodded in greeting.

“Thank you for protecting my family when I was unable.”

Yasha was surprised; the man had hardly spoken to him in the last week outside of information regarding the future.

“They are my family as well,” he replied as he sat in the chair across.

A muscle in the older man's jaw ticked, but he remained silent.

“My father was telling me of how he had plans to get an apartment of his own in the city.” Lenore, always the one to save one from awkwardness.

“That's great.” Yasha grinned.

“Uma and Asmund had expressed their wish to remain near their sister.” Loki raised an eyebrow as if he expected Yasha to say that they weren't staying nearby.

“Tony offered to set us up an apartment here in the Tower,” he supplied. “But we were discussed buying an apartment nearby instead.”

Loki hummed in approval before turning to his daughter.

“Would you mind if we spoke in private for a moment?”

Lenore nodded and stood, sending Yasha a low-key thumbs-up.

Loki watched Yasha in silence for a minute or so. The younger man was patient; this wasn't the first time he had had to prove himself to this man.

“How long have you and my daughter been together?” he finally asked.

“We dated for about five years, and were married for a year before we time-traveled and spent another year here,” he recounted. “So seven years altogether.”

Loki tilted his head forward.

“From what I understand, most people on this planet would consider five years a long time to go before being married.”

James shrugged.

“We didn't want to rush and I wanted to finish getting my degree first.”

Loki leaned forward in his chair.

“And what did you study?”

Yasha took a deep breath.

“Music Education.”

The trickster sat back in his chair, face carefully blank.

“You wish to be a teacher.”

“Yes, sir, I do.”

Loki hummed.

“A worthy vocation, to be sure. But your chances of doing so now are nonexistent.”

“Maybe,” he admitted. “But now I can focus on helping the others with their public image.”

The trickster's eyes twinkled.

“And how would you do that?”

Yasha leaned forward and clasped his hands together.

“I grew up watching my family navigate the media.” He smiled. “If we can anticipate what the rest of the world will do or think, we can act accordingly.”

Loki smiled.

“And what do you think our first move should be?”



[Photo: the Avengers and their families crowded around a giant Thanksgiving feast. Thor holds a large mug aloft in the background, while two of the children, Luna Maximoff and Asmund Lokison, each hold the ends of a wishbone in the foreground. All are smiling.]

The Avengers & Co. wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Posted on Twitter @AvengersOfficial

Chapter Text

Foggy Nelson pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Wait a minute. Rewind.”

Yasha and Lenore sat at the kitchen table in his parents’ apartment, watching them explain the situation to their lawyers.

“You two,” Foggy pointed to them. “Are time-travelers.”

He nodded.

“And you’re here because you’re trying to stop World War III.”

He nodded again.

Foggy turned to Matt with a glare.

“This is exactly why I said we shouldn’t take any of your superhero friends as clients.”

Matt smiled softly, but ignored his friend in favor of speaking to the others.

“How can we help?”

“We just need you two to corroborate our story if anyone asks any questions,” Yasha’s mother answered.

“And, if certain groups decide to take any action against us or our children, we need legal counsel on call.” His father tapped the table in emphasis.

Foggy start taking notes.

“What kind of groups and what kind of ‘action’ are you expecting?”

Yasha cleared his throat.

“The MRD and their supporters are already trying to stir up negative opinions of us, but we’re also expecting military action.”

Foggy stopped writing and Matt tilted his heads.

“Against children ,” the latter clarified.

“Children with abilities that make people nervous.”

Foggy made a face.

“Did you have any immediate plans to combat public opinion?” Matt asked.

“Sarah was invited to speak with Fox News in a few days,” Lenore answered. “That may cause a rift between the older and younger generations, but we’re counting on the millenials and Gen-Zs to support us and our public mission.”

“That’s Captain Rogers’ eldest?” Foggy asked, looking to the parents.

Dad nodded.

“Should we be expecting a lawsuit of some kind?” Matt inquired.

Mom shook her head.

“Stark’s lawyers will be handling the other families if it comes to that. We just wanted you to be aware of the possibility of mud-slinging in our direction.”

Foggy ran a hand through his hair and sighed.

“This is going to be a nightmare, I can already tell.”




Sarah checked her lipstick in the mirror. Black, because she was an edge-lord like that.

She had insisted on doing her own makeup for the interview, ensuring that no one would be able to take away her individuality. (Plus, it was fun watching everyone at the station look at her like she was going to start chanting in Latin)

“Miss, they’re ready for you.”

The mousey little dude led her to the newsdesk and offered her a cup of coffee.

“Nah, I’m good. Thanks, though.” She flashed him her most disarming smile.

The anchors sat down the desk a bit from her.

Sean Hannity shuffled his papers, ignoring her, while Dana Perino smiled politely. (She still looked at Sarah like the girl was scum on the bottom of her shoe)

The director counted off the seconds until they went live.

“Good morning,” Hannity greeted the cameras. “Welcome to a Fox News Special Report. We’re here with one of the children of the Avengers.”

Dana jumped right on the tail-end of his sentence.

“Sarah Rogers. Now tell me, Sarah, you’re father is none other than Captain America, correct?”

Sarah’s smile came easily.

“Yeah, but at home he’s just my dad.”

From the corner of her eye, she saw one of the cameramen smile.

“He must be a wonderful man to have overlooked your condition.”

She kept her smile in place but felt a muscle in her jaw tic.

Wow, right out of the gate, huh?

“What do you mean?”

Hannity, plastic expression plain as day, leapt to his coworkers rescue.

“Oh, your mutation.” He gestured to her. “It must be hard to find out your child is a mutant.”

Sarah felt herself grow hotter, but willed herself not to burst into flames.

“I dunno, my dad was always pretty proud of me.” She cocked her head to the side in a way she knew made her look harmless and cute. “He actually encouraged me to practice with it.”

The two silently stared at her, apparently without words, so she continued.

“He actually told me that he was happy I was around and was a great supporter of ours when we decided to come out of hiding and speak out, despite the dangers we face.”

“Dangers?” Perino inquired, realizing too late she had just set herself up.

Sarah barely kept her smile from turning feral, changing it to more of a clueless expression.

“Oh, yes. I believe your station supported the law that was passed, allowing the unjustified arrest and imprisonment of any mutant deemed ‘a threat to society.’” Her tone remained friendly. “But I’m sure that was just a misunderstanding.”

Hannity seemed to have gathered his wits, his eyes ablaze with anger while his voice remained impassive.

“Well, to be fair, there are a lot of mutants that have caused significant loss of life in our borders alone.” He smirked. “You can’t really blame us for trying to protect ourselves.”

Sarah clasped her hands on the desk and leaned forward.

“Could you be more specific?”

“Well, the Kennedy Assassination,” Perino looked to the cameras, silently asking the audience to agree with her.

Sarah let her polite smile turn into a smirk at that, looking down at the desk to keep from laughing.

“If you’ve paid any attention whatsoever to recent news you will know that, while two mutants were present, one was actively trying to save President Kennedy from the shooter.” She leveled her gaze on the two fascists. “The other was the President himself.”

Checkmate.

She didn’t even wait for their reaction, just stood up and walked out.

Her father met her outside of the building, baseball cap pulled down over his face.

“That went… well,” he commented as they walked.

“You saw?”

He held up his phone with headphones attached.

“I know I was supposed to be nicer.”

He snorted.

“So you went a little off script. You showed people that they can’t believe everything they hear.”

She shrugged.

“Hey.” He nudged her. “They were jerks who deserved worse than they got.”

She smiled.

“Yeah, I know. Just got to me.”

They were silent for a minute.

“There’s nothing wrong with being a little different.” He didn’t look her in the eye. “No matter what anyone says, don’t ever be ashamed of that.”

Chapter Text

Tony popped a piece of popcorn in his mouth.

Sarah’s interview played on the screen and Peter had come over from his project table to watch.

“I want to look away but I can’t.”

Tony laughed.

“They just keep digging themselves a bigger hole.”

“And she’s eating them alive.”

“Boss, the team is meeting in the briefing room,” FRIDAY informed them, just as Sarah made her closing statement.

“Tell them I’ll be there in a minute.”

He knew what this was about.

Leaving Peter to finish his project, Tony took the elevator down to the correct floor and went down the hall.

“Rogers, I gotta admit,” he said when the doors opened. “Your kid is a lot cooler than you.”

Steve rolled his eyes but didn’t argue.

“So, to be clear,” Scott gestured. “We were planning on this, right?”

“Fox News just started a smear campaign on both the Avengers and all mutants,” Rhodey clarified.

Yasha and Lenore were tapping away on their tablets, pointing things out to each other.

“The plan was to garner sympathy, and whether they know it or not, the anchors did that.” Lenore brought up a chart with a number of curvy lines on it. “This shows pro-mutant sympathy in the past fifty years.”

There were four main lines: one red, one blue, one green, and another orange. They were all relatively on the same level in the beginning, nearly below the baseline, but they became more staggered the closer to the present you got.

“The red is the opinions of the over-fifty age range.” She highlighted the line in question. It stayed low throughout the entire fifty years, with a slight uptick in the present. “Sarah’s interview spoke to a lot of them and, when asked, a few were open about having known a mutant when they were younger and had realized that ‘if Captain America is okay with them, they can’t be that dangerous.”

She smirked at this.

“The blue,” Yasha continued. “Is the thirty to fifty age range.”

The line kept jumping up and dropping at seemingly random intervals.

“A lot of the surveyors were criticized when they were taking these.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I wouldn’t bank on getting any support from the adult population.”

“But,” Lenore began, highlighting the green. “The young adults are openly in support.”

The line was continuously in the middle, except in the 70s and the present, where it had risen. The present was much higher.

She highlighted the orange.

“The high school population has been doing surveys for years.”

The line was almost continuously above all of the others.

“They have always been mostly in support, the mutant population rising over the years,” Yasha added. “In a lot of schools, the history teachers have had them think about what it would be like to be a mutant in different eras.”

“Provoking them to rethink whatever stance their parents may have had,” Sam finished.

“Exactly. But when Fox News started their smear campaign, a good percentage of the previously anti-mutant supporters started rethinking their opinions.”

“So what do we do now?” Wanda sat with Vision, holding his hand.

Tony tapped the table.

“We keep going.”




[ Sesame Street, Day. Luna Maximoff, Henry Lang-Pym, and Morgan Stark sit on crates. Elmo walks up. ]

Elmo: “ Hey, look everybody! It’s Luna, Morgan, and Henry from the Avengers.”

Henry: “Hi, Elmo.”

[ Luna waves. ]

Elmo: “What are you doing on Sesame Street?”

Morgan: “We came to visit. Ms. Rice invited us to speak at the library about being a mutant or being friends with one.”

[ Elmo becomes excited. ]

Elmo: “Elmo’s mommy and daddy were talking about mutants at breakfast. Is it really scary being one?”

Luna: “Sometimes, but when my friends and family are there to help me it makes me feel safe.”

Elmo, turning to Henry: “Does it make you nervous being around a mutant?”

Henry : “Nope; I know my friend is a person, just like me, and wouldn’t do anything on purpose to hurt me.”

Elmo: “That’s what Elmo’s mommy and daddy told Elmo.”

[ Luna adjusts her sunglasses. ]

Elmo: “Luna, why do you wear sunglasses all the time?”

Luna: “I’m not very good at controlling my powers on my own, so I wear these to help me.”

Elmo: “Like training wheels on Elmo’s bicycle?”

Luna: “Yes!”

Elmo, looking to Morgan: “Can you show me how your powers work?”

Morgan: “I shouldn’t use my powers without an adult around.”

[ Morgan calls for her father. Tony Stark walks on, smiling. ]

Tony: “Hey, Elmo.”

Morgan: “Can I show Elmo my powers?”

Tony: “If you’re careful.”

[ Morgan stands up and pulls various electronic parts from her pockets and holds them in her hands. The pieces begin to move on their own, turning into… ]

Elmo: “A race car!”

[ Morgan places it on the ground. It begins driving around in circles. ]

[ Camera pans out on the three children and one little monster playing with the new toy while Tony Stark watches on. ]

 

Chapter Text

Editor’s Corner, The Daily Bugle, December 4, 2017

“After the Battle of New York, the Daily Bugle was quick to question the motives of the Avengers. Their dangerous abilities caused many of New York’s citizens to ask whether they were really our allies or a future menace for us to fear.

Shortly after, one of our reporters met with Virginia Potts, CEO of Stark Industries and significant other of Iron Man . The purpose of the meeting was to learn more about the clean-up efforts, but when asked about the loyalties of these so-called “heroes,” she assured us that the Avengers’ only motives were to protect the people and to keep the Earth, a place that all but one of them called home, in one piece.
When the Battle of Sokovia was over, we sent someone else to investigate the motives of the newest members of the team. We were given the same answer but still didn’t know why the alien and inhuman members of the team gave two figs about us.

In the past two weeks, we’ve been introduced to those reasons.

I won’t recap the news, since we all know it, but the biggest question everyone is asking now is this: “Should we be afraid?”

In my personal opinion, the answer is simple: Yes and no.

When I was a young man in college, one of the boys in my dorm was a mutant. (I will refrain from using his real name in order to safeguard his memory, so I’ll just call him John)
John was a nice kid and he kept to himself mostly. We were partnered on a project for a class where we were supposed to write a short exposé on each other, and through this I learned of his gifts.
We grew to be good friends and, to this day, I am glad for our friendship. He supported me when I questioned switching majors and I did the same for him.

After a few months, it got out that he wasn’t a “normal” human and a group of thugs attacked him, leading to his death in the hospital a few hours later.

His murderers were never identified, even though they did it openly and without a disguise.

I tell you this to show you the truth.

I am not a supporter of these “super-heroes” but the idea that we, people living in the 21st century, are still so quick to fall back into bigotry sickens me.

We, not just as a country, but we as humans who share the same planet, have shown more violence than the mutants have.
If they did rise up and defend themselves, I would not blame them.”

- J. Jonah Jameson, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief                                                                                           

 




Lenore finished reading the article, folding and placing the paper on the table between her and Yasha.

Her husband looked up from his breakfast, eyebrows raised in question at her saddened face.

“Have you read this?”

He nodded, putting down his spoon. His face was pained.

“It’s progress, but it’s still…” He shook his head, as if he thought he could shake the word loose.

“It’s reality,” she finished.

A muscle in his jaw ticked.

“It shouldn’t be, I know,” she amended. “But we knew stories like this were coming.”

He sat back in his seat and swiped a hand down his face.

“It just bothers me, ya know? That this isn’t anything new and what we’re fighting has been around for longer than any of our parents have.”

Lenore sighed, silently agreeing.

“Asgard isn’t any different.” She held up a hand, letting her Jotnar skin show through. The bumps and ridges were patterned after her father’s, showing which family she was from. “Though they were indifferent to the color of your skin, they certainly were quick to attack if you were different.”

Yasha reached across the table and took the hand she was studying, squeezing it gently.

“We’re not going to let that happen here.”

They sat in comfortable silence for a moment until Lenore broke it.

“My uncle received a message from Odin this morning.”

Yasha grimaced.

“He wants Uncle to bring my father ‘home’ and to introduce us to the court.” By us she meant herself, her siblings, and cousins.

“Is there any way out of it?”

She sighed.

“If any of us refuses to go, Odin will just send someone to bring us against our will.”

Yasha rubbed his thumb along the back of her hand.

“When do we leave?”

“Yasha, no,” she pulled her hand away. “We can’t both just leave while we’re in the middle of all this.”

“The others can handle themselves for a little while.” He leaned across the table. “Their parents can take care of them.”

Lenore shook her head.

“Hey.”

She looked up to see him smiling.

“If I come along, we can rub how you married a Midgardian all over his face.”

Lenore burst into laughter. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a bad trip after all.

Chapter Text

The next morning…

Yasha stumbled through the Bifrost. He hated taking that thing.

Heimdall stood in front of the group, looking serious as ever.

Yasha allowed his senses to fully open and focused them on the Gatekeeper.

Curiosity. Interest. Annoyance.

“My princes, it is good to see you both.”

Loki nodded in his direction and Thor returned the greeting.

Heimdall focused on their children, narrowing his eyes.

“Which one of you blocked my sight?”

Lenore stepped forward, bowing slightly.

“My apologies, sir, but I thought it for the best at the time.”

Heimdall dipped his head respectfully.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less from a daughter of Loki.”

Loki and Thor led them across the Rainbow Bridge, where they met a skiff that took them to the palace.

Asmund clung to his father’s leg the whole way there, and refused to let go as they walked to the throne room.

Uma smirked as a servant plastered herself to the opposite wall, trying not to draw attention to herself.

Yasha spread his awareness forward and felt around in the throne room. Two minds. One angry and impatient; another anxious but relieved.

Yasha poked Lenore’s consciousness, and she opened her mind.

“Odin’s angry,” he informed through the link.

“And Frigga?” Her face remained impassive as they walked.

“She seems eager.”

They reached the door. Yasha tried to pull back the link, but Lenore clung to it so he let it stay.

She sent a pulse of love just as the doors opened.

Odin stood in front of his throne, pacing with a frown pulling on his face.

Frigga smiled when she saw them, her eyes alight with love as she nearly ran to hug Loki.

“My son, it is so good to see you.”

“Hello, mother.”

Loki put his hand on Asmund’s head.

“I’d like you to meet my children. This is Asmund.” He gestured for the girls to approach. “And these are Uma and Lenore.”

“Hello, grandmother.” Lenore bowed her head slightly.

Yasha was nearly knocked over with a wave of pride from the queen.

“Hello.”

Thor stepped forward with a hand on each of the twins’ shoulders.

“Mother, this is Torunn and Magda.”

Both girls waved.

Frigga opened her mouth to say something, but was interrupted by her husband.

“Where have you been?” His voice was level, but Yasha felt the anger radiating off of him.

“Odin,” Frigga cautioned. “Please.”

The All-Father waved her away.

“And you,” he turned to Thor. “You knew where he was and never told me.”

“Actually,” Torunn broke in. “He only knew where Uncle Loki was for the past year and only when he was right in front of him.”

Odin glared. Magda face-palmed.

“And that brings me to this situation.” Odin gestured to the children, glaring at Thor and Loki. “A group of children come to you claiming to be yours from the future and you just believe them?”

Yasha stepped between the others and Odin.

“Look, if you don’t believe us, then that’s your problem. But you shouldn’t take it out on them.”

Odin turned his attention to Yasha. He glowered for a moment, but his expression fell into a resigned frown. He turned to Thor.

“Make sure you introduce them to the council.”

He left and the room collectively slumped in relief.




In the queen’s private rooms, Yasha sat with his wife across from her father and grandmother.

Uma sat in the corner with Asmund and a large tome.

“So,” Frigga began. “You’re Lenore’s husband.”

Yasha nodded. He resisted looking into her thoughts or emotions.

“Yes, ma’am.”

He felt a prod at his mind and allowed the entry.

“Interesting.” She switched to speaking out loud. It’s not often I meet someone with your kind of gift.”

Loki squinted, looking between them in confusion.

“The boy has the ability to see into someone’s mind and heart,” the queen explained.

Yasha felt his wife’s hidden glee across their bond as her father’s gaze swung toward him.

“In fact,” Frigga continued, eyes leaping back and forth between the couple. “He and your daughter have been linked this whole afternoon.”

Lenore nodded in answer to her father’s silent question.

“Yasha and I find it makes things easier to collaborate when in an unfamiliar situation.”

The Queen Mother patted her son’s hand.

“It’s alright, dear. He’s a good boy.”

Loki hummed, frowning.

“Can you control someone with that gift?”

Yasha nodded.

“I choose not to, though.” He looked down to his hands. “I refuse to be the kind of person to take away someone’s free will.”

Lenore took his hand, squeezing it and sending a warm glow into his mind.

Loki nodded, face carefully blank.

Yasha gave in to the temptation to discern his father-in-law’s emotions. Impressed. Curiosity. Pride? Just a touch.

Frigga cocked her head to the side, studying Lenore in the silence.

“Is there something bothering you, little one?”

“We have a friend on Midgard,” she started. “A friend with a gift such as yours.”

Yasha nodded, thinking of A.J. as well.

“How so?” Frigga folded her hands demurely in her lap.

“He has the ability to see glimpses into the future, but they come upon him suddenly and without warning.”

“They are also usually confusing and more of a riddle than anything,” Yasha added.

Loki tapped a finger to his chin.

“Which one is this?”

“A.J.”

“The Man of Iron’s son,” he supplied to his mother.

“Ah, the futurist. A fitting gift for his child.”

Lenore agreed.

“Alas, he is unable to control or understand them.”

Frigga nodded, standing with her brow furrowed and reading the bindings of the books on a nearby shelf. Asmund ignored his sister’s book in order to watch her.

The queen pulled one of them and blew the thin coating of dust from its cover.

“Have him read this. It may provide some insight.”

Yasha took the book, thanking her profusely for her help.

Chapter Text

Magda stood with her sister in front of the council, her hands shaking and stomach in knots.

She clasped her hands behind her back and slowly took a deep breath as her father explained the situation.

The elders of Asgard watched she and her sister with cold, calculating eyes. They seemed to be waiting for their prince to finish speaking so they could pass judgement.

“Why isn't Prince Loki before us as well?”

“My brother asked me to inform you of his wish to remain out of the political arena for the being.”

The council member frowned, the others muttering amongst themselves.

Another council member called for the twins to be tested, along with Loki's children.

Magda stepped up beside her father.

“May I address the council?”

The man at the head of the dais nodded.

“My sister and I would be glad to submit to any test that you may devise,” she addressed the entire council. “But I request that you leave my cousins out of your plans.”

“And why is that?” The head council member raised an eyebrow.

“You are all aware of the reason my uncle left, are you not?”

Whispers broke out, but were silenced quickly.

The man nodded, frown fixed upon his face. The knowledge had been kept from the Asgardian people, but the council was fully aware.

“Then you will understand why my uncle holds no trust in the Aesir to treat he or his children with the same fairness that you would my sister and I.”

He glowered.

“By your tone, I would assume you share his belief.”

“I do. And with good reason.”

Her sister stayed silent while the council members began muttering even louder.

Thor raised a hand to silence them, but it did no good.




The door opened, revealing Loki and her cousins looking rested and content with the queen.

Magda collapsed onto the couch next to her cousin.

“We’ve got good news and bad news.”

Lenore narrowed her eyes.

“The good news is Torunn kept her mouth shut to the point of the council naming her their favorite.”

Loki looked surprised while Frigga quirked one corner of her lip up.

“The bad news?” Yasha prompted.

Thor stepped forward, arms crossed and looking dour.

“The council wishes to test the loyalty of Loki’s children.”

Uma pulled her nose out of the book she was reading and stood up so fast, Magda thought she would keep going and tip right over.

“You can’t be serious!”

Loki silenced his daughter.

“What did they have in mind?”

Thor shook his head.

“I don’t know, but whatever it is will not be pleasant.”

Yasha stood.

“Show me.”

Magda felt the touch on her mind and allowed her friend entry. She replayed the entire meeting in her memory as her father looked on in confusion.

Yasha pulled his own mind back and hummed in thought.

“They may just ask you questions.”

“That’s not the point,” Uma snapped. “We don’t even want to be here.”

Frigga held up a hand.

“Then tell them that. Make it plain that Midgard is your home and you never wished to come here.”

Uma seemed to realize what she had implied.

“Oh, we love seeing you, grandmother. But Asgard is unwelcoming.”

The queen stood pulled Uma into an embrace.

“I know it is, child.” She tipped the girl’s chin up. “There is no shame in choosing yourself over a people who do not care about you.”

Loki tapped his chin.

“No matter what we feel, they will still require us to pass this test.”

Thor nodded.

“They will most likely ask questions with a trick to them,” he suggested.

Loki turned to his mother.

“Is the council still the same as when I left?”

“Yes.”

He hummed in thought.

“That will mean General Tyr is there.” He turned to his children. “He will try to help you, so let him speak and direct any questions you may have to him.”

Asmund raised his hand.

“Yes,” Lenore agreed. “What about Asmund?”

“He is of the Vaktsom so they will most likely give him some leeway,” Thor offered.

“But do not let them treat you as less than your sisters,” Loki reminded. “There is nothing wrong with being different. Use those differences to your advantage.”

Asmund smiled and nodded.

“There is one other thing that they require.” Magda played with her braid nervously. “They want to speak to Yasha. Alone.”

Frigga crossed her arms and nodded.

“I was expecting something like this.”

“They think that he is either disloyal to his own people or attempting to turn Lenore against Asgard, if he has not done so already,” Thor explained.

Yasha ran a hand through his hair.

“I’ll talk to them.” He took his wife’s hand. “It’ll be fine.”

Uma growled low in her throat.

“This isn’t fair. We aren’t tafl pieces to be moved as they please.”

“I know, little one,” Loki soothed. “But it is a game and we must play.”

Torunn’s eyes lit up.

“What if we changed the game?”

Frigga and Loki both grinned at that, Thor narrowing his eyes at his daughter.

Chapter Text

Lenore stood with her brother and sister in front of the council.

A group of seiðmenn and völur had been invited to watch the proceedings and now sat to the side, studying the trio with shrewd eyes.

Odin frowned from his seat to the side, choosing to oversee the interrogation.

Her father and husband stood just outside the doors, the latter sending strength and love through their bond.

“Introduce yourselves.”

Lenore took a deep breath and stepped forward.

“My name is Lenore Lokidauttir; these are my sister, Uma, and brother, Asmund.”

“Can’t they speak for themselves?”

Lenore swallowed.

“Uma can, sire, but my brother cannot.”

Murmurs came from the old men.

“And why is that?”

One of the völur stood.

“I sense he is of the Vaktsom, sire. One of the Silent Ones, I think.” Her voice was soft and tinkled like bells. She smiled at Asmund.

“Bring the boy closer.”

Asmund did as he was told, but would only go as far as Lenore.

The council studied him for a moment, humming.

“With all due respect,” Uma interrupted, stepping forward after a minute of their ogling. “My brother is not a prized horse for you to appraise.”

Lenore saw her brother duck his head and bite his lip to keep from laughing.

The head of the council waved him away and he stepped back to stand by his sisters.

“We understand that you never wished to be summoned to Asgard.”

She nodded.

“Was there a reason?”

“We didn’t feel welcome.” She was succinct. Honest.

The council studied her a moment.

“I suppose that would make sense, what with your affliction.”

The seiðmadrs collectively tensed. A few of them seemed to be on the edge of flipping their chairs.

She cocked her head to the side.

“We know of your father’s… background,” one of them began.

Lenore smirked.

“Do you now?” She pushed her Aesir appearance away, revealing the blue that she knew would make them all jump.

Her brother and sister let theirs fall away beside her.

“We already know you don’t want us here,” she began as they all stared in shock.

The seiðmenn and völur looked on with smiles on their faces. The council yelled profanities as their leader stood.

“How dare you mock this court by-?”

“Mock?” She spat the word. “This court is said to be built on mutual respect and the good characters of its wise men. But you disrespect my family from the moment we walk through this door and still have the audacity to say that we are the ones mocking you ?”

“Sit! Down.” Odin stood with his hands clenched to his sides.

“No.” Uma stepped closer to the king, her breath coming out in puffs of cold smoke and her ruby eyes flashing. “You ordered us here so we came; but we aren’t yours to play with.”

One of the council members leapt from his seat.

“She threatened the king!”

A wave of energy shot through the hall, causing everyone’s teeth to rattle.

The leader of the völur made her way to the center of the room, standing beside Lenore. She was old, older than Odin even, but she walked with a grace befitting a woman a tenth of her age.

“May I address the court?”

The council leader nodded his head curtly.

“I remember a time when the Aesir and the Jotnar walked among each other as friends,” she began, smiling to Lenore and her siblings. “Laufey King and the All-Father celebrated the peace we had together with feasts held in each other’s palaces and we both prospered.”

Lenore hadn’t heard this story before. She wasn’t sure if anyone but the oldest of the Nine knew about it.

“But Asgard began to conquer the realms.”

“It is not permitted to speak of such things.”

The old woman ignored him.

“One day we received reports of the Jotnar attacking the Midgardians and banished them all to a slow, agonizing death.” She swallowed a lump in her throat. “Sometimes I wonder how accurate those reports really were.”

Lenore handed her handkerchief to the woman after a tear fell from her face.

The room was silent.

“Thank you for your time.” The siblings bowed and turned for the door, Odin glaring the whole way.




When the door opened, Yasha pulled away from the wall he was leaning on and nearly tripped over himself.

Loki froze next to him as the trio exited the courtroom.

“Come, dear,” Lenore tittered, taking her husband’s arm. “I don’t think they will be speaking with you today.”

Uma stopped behind them.

“Father, are you alright?”

Loki seemed to shake himself out of his stupor.

“I- Yes.” He looked between his children. “I just hadn’t seen you.”

He gestured to the three of them.

Uma shrugged.

“Like you told Asmund: There’s nothing wrong with being different.”

“I did say that, didn’t I?” He smiled.

The family began making their way back to Frigga’s.

“I may have accidentally given Odin a reason to hate us, though.”

Lenore cackled.

“You scared the daylights out of him!”

Chapter Text

Rhodey poured himself a cup of coffee.

“All I'm saying is we can't neglect their education,” Banner stressed. “It's nearly Christmas so they can beg off for a few more weeks, but we have to figure out how their schooling is going to work.”

“We can't just send them to any normal school,” Rogers reminded.

“Isn't homeschooling a thing?” Barton asked.

Banner shrugged.

“Yes, but I don't think any of us have the…” He paused. “ Experience to teach children.”

“You literally have seven PhDs.”

The scientist gave the archer a look.

“Do you really think it would be a good idea for me to teach a bunch of excitable children?” He waved a hand. “Besides, they need someone to help teach them how to use their gifts properly and none of us have the ability to help all of them.”

“What about where they were going before?” Barnes suggested. “Or before they came here, rather.”

Tony tapped his chin thoughtfully.

“That's actually a good idea.” He strode to the glass door to the side, the team following.

Outside, most of the children were playing in the snow.

Rhodes saw Alex sitting under a nearby tree with a book in his hands. The boy looked up at the approaching group.

“Hey, Mini-Rhodey! Quick question for you.”

Alex's lips turned up in an amused smile.

“If we wanted to send you guys to school, where would we send you?”

The boy's eyes lit up.

“There's a school built specifically for mutants a few miles to the east.” He inclined his head in the given direction. “It's been there since the sixties. They let the rest of us in, given our unique situation, when we were all little.”

Romanov held up a hand.

“Hang on. You mean the Xavier school?”

Alex nodded.

“There aren't any mutants there. Both SHIELD and the MRD have investigated it.”

Alex stood, closing his book, and led them back inside.

He pulled up a screen and brought up the school's extremely minimalistic website.

“The headmaster is a psychic. When they were investigated, he adjusted their memories just enough that anything out of the ordinary wasn't really noticed.”

Romanov shook her head.

“They had body cams; there's no way we could've missed everything.

Alex smirked before clicking on a seemingly random spot on the screen. The site directed them to a much more elaborate version of itself, but where the pictures had been basic photographs of the school itself and the various classrooms, they were now of entire classes and activities around the school.

“One of the staff members is called Forge. He can make anything, including a sort of green screen type of software that changes what a camera is seeing as it is filming.

“And they hacked into the body cam feeds.”

Alex shrugged apologetically.

Rhodey scanned the photos. One of them caught his eye: A classroom of children, some appearing like any average human and others being entirely unique. They were all different, but they seemed happy and content; proud of their differences while being equally so of their classmates.

“The school was opened in nineteen sixty-five by Charles Xavier, one of the original mutant rights activists. All of the teachers used to be students, and each student is assigned one of the staff as a mentor to help them develop and control their powers.”

Alex clicked a link, bringing up more photos.

“This is the current teaching roster.”

Rogers smacked Barnes on the arm, pointing to one of the photos.

“That's Howlett!”

Alex scrolled down to show the name, subject, and bio of the teacher. The man seemed gruff and annoyed; there was a distinct feeling around him, like what you would expect from a wild animal that you'd barely domesticated.

His name was shown to be simply “Logan” and his subject was history. No bio was included.

“This the same Howlett you were talking about the other day?” Tony crossed his arms.

Barnes nodded, studying the image.

“He was a member of this Canadian Special Ops team we ran into. Violent types, nearly feral. But he and I started talking and came to an understanding.”

Rogers shook his head sadly.

“The guy was already over a hundred years old when we met him. Last time we were in the same place, he'd been given orders to be shipped off to Japan right before it got bombed.”

“And this guy isn't just alive, but he's a teacher now?”

Cap shrugged.

Alex followed suit.

“He was actually one of my favorite teachers. He always told us about things from his point of view instead of reading it out of the books. It made things more real , ya know?”

“What about the others?” Rhodey asked his son.

Alex grinned, scrolling back to the top.

“Okay, so the professor's really chill. He started the school in his childhood home after realizing exactly how many mutants there were besides him that needed help.”

“You said he's a psychic?” Wilson asked.

Barnes, Romanov, and Barton collectively stiffened.

“Yeah, but his code of ethics prohibits him from using that unless it is the only option to save a life or he has express permission.” The boy scrolled down again, revealing side-by-side photos, one of a woman with bright red hair and a man in red sunglasses. “Jean Grey is the English teacher and Scott Summers is both the geometry and leadership and tactics teacher.”

“Tactics?”

“The school has been attacked a few times and very few people stay at the school for the rest of their lives,” he explained. “It's the professor's belief that the students have a responsibility to not only use their powers responsibly, but to also use them to make the world a safer place.”

He turned to face all of them.

“You know that thing that happened a decade or so ago with the Statue of Liberty?”

Barton nodded.

“That was a mutant attack, right? Something went wrong with their plan and nothing really happened.”

Alex made an eh sound, rocking his hand back and forth.

“Long story short, a group of mutants that were sick and tired of being treated like freaks decided that they were going to turn all of the US government into mutants.”

“That's possible?” Wanda cocked her head to the side.

“Not without the previously-human victims dying horribly.” Alex pointed at the screen. “All of the teachers, and a few other people, are what they like to call X-men. They're sole purpose is to find and protect mutants who are in danger, and to stop rogue mutants from exacting revenge on the rest of humanity.”

“And that's what happened with the Statue.” Rhodey was in awe.

Alex half-shrugged.

“That, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a few other situations over the years.”

Rhodey opened his mouth to ask what exactly happened there, but decided he really didn't want to know.

“Okay, so back to the school.” Lang took the reigns. “The teachers are secretly superheroes like us, the classes teach you basic things like math and how to be a superhero, and the professor can read your mind.”

Alex chuckled but agreed.

“And you went to this school.” Rhodey meant it as a half question, half statement.

“Yeah. Like I said, it's a mutant school, but they gave some of us a pass because of who you guys are.”

“What about the whole time-travel thing? Is that going to be a problem?” Barton butted in.

Alex shook his head.

“They've dealt with time-travelers before. It's nothing new and we won't have to pretend.”

Romanov shook her head.

“It's a boarding school. We can't just send you all off for weeks at a time.”

“This school is different. Some of the students come every day for classes from their own homes, some go like any other boarding school and only leave during holidays and summer break, and then there are those who stay all year round.” He brought up a map, showing where the Avengers Compound was in relation to the school. “It's only a thirty minute drive from the Compound.”

Rhodey saw the others with their pinched expressions.

“How about we visit the school, take a look around, and then decide later?”

Barnes shook his head.

“I'm not comfortable with the psychic teacher.”

“Yasha and A.J. are both psychics, and Yasha, Danny, and Luna are all empaths,” Alex reminded them.

The ex-Winter Soldier sighed.

“Fine, we'll check it out.”

Chapter Text

Bruce sighed. He stood on the steps of the school, which felt more like a museum to him.

Juliann slid his hand into his father's and smiled up at the man.

Bruce smiled back as a man in a wheelchair exited the building.

“Good morning.” He smiled kindly.

Steve stepped forward to shake the man’s hand.

“You must be the professor.”

Professor Xavier nodded and focused on the children.

“I understand that you have been students here before.”

The group collectively nodded.

“Then I’m sure you know where the guidance counselor’s office is.”

Alex and Sarah began to lead the group inside.

“Hang on.” Tony held a hand to stop his two. “They’re not students yet. Anymore. Whatever.”

“It’s standard for everyone thinking about being a student, dad.” A.J. rolled his eyes. “We have to take a few tests and answer a few questions so they know where we are in our education and who would be the best counselor for us.”

Pepper put a hand on her lover’s arm before turning to the children.

“Go ahead.”

Juliann hugged Bruce’s leg and chased after his friends.

The professor led the adults inside and down a corridor.

As they followed, Bruce couldn't help but stare at the ornate beauty of the building. It wasn't exactly fancy, more homey than anything, but it was beautiful, nonetheless. The mahogany-paneled walls and grey marble interspersed throughout, the elegantly carved wooden staircase directly across from the giant wooden doors that split off into opposite directions and everything lit with a warm, orangey glow. It felt like a home.

Down the hall, many of the doors had windows through which Bruce could see classrooms full of students. He stopped in front of one and looked closer.

Inside, a woman with dark skin and snow-white hair was explaining the natural sciences to a group of second-graders.

One of the children saw him watching and waved, making Bruce smile.

“I understand that some of you are qualified to teach.”

“Technically? Yes.” They entered the professor’s office. “But in practicality, we don’t think that that would be the best choice.”

The older man slid behind his desk, nodding in agreement.

“I would like to meet with each of you and your children separately, but for now, do you have any questions?”

Every adult raised their hand.

This was going to be interesting.




A few hours later, the Avengers had finally run out of questions and returned to the Compound.

No, the students were not required to stay on-site.

Yes, there were both advanced classes and classes available for college credit.

Natasha studied the class lists Danny had handed her. They were suggested courses for both he and his sister.

“The yellow highlighted ones are required courses and the orange are electives we’d like to take.”

James looked over her shoulder, Bekah on his hip.

“Doesn’t this seem like a lot of classes?”

Danny shook his head.

“Some of them are only on certain days, though.” He pointed out two electives. “Drama is on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Auto Shop is on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

“What about homework?”

“There's usually no homework. We might get some reading to do over breaks, but places with no homework have the highest testing scores and lower stress on everyone.”

James sighed and ran his flesh and blood hand through his hair. He jostled Rebekah a little.

“What do you think of the school?”

The little girl shrugged.

“Yasha liked it.” She furrowed her brows in thought. “The teachers are nice and the classes are fun.”

James shared a look with Natasha before looking to Danny.

“Are you sure you want to go here?”

Danny smiled and nodded emphatically.

“Okay.” Natasha set the papers on the counter between them.

Danny looked between his parents, hope alight in his eyes.

“Okay, as in…”

Natasha nodded.

Danny nearly flew over the counter to hug her. The boy spread a few more papers over the counter.

“Okay, so they assigned our mentors, too.” He slid one of the papers in front of his mother with a photo attached. “Ms. Moonstar is an empath like me and she teaches American History.”

Natasha studied the photo and papers, which contained a brief letter from the teacher and a suggested reading list for both Danny and his parents.
The woman was Native American, specifically Cheyenne according to her bio. She was from Colorado and previously had been a student of the Institute who chose to become a teacher and mentor on top of becoming an official member of the X-men.
The letter offered advice on having a mutant child and informed them that she was always available to talk if they had any questions or concerns.

“What about your phasing ability?” James scanned the papers.

“I have a weekly training session with Shadowcat, but that’s pretty well controlled so it’s not important.” Danny shrugged. “The whole feeling what other people feel thing is really dangerous and it kinda squicks me out.”

Natasha raised an eyebrow at her son's word choice but didn't otherwise comment.

“And Shadowcat is who now?” James inquired.

“She’s a senior at the school. Her name’s Kitty Pride and she’s the local expert on phasing.”

James raised an eyebrow.

“She used to phase in her sleep,” Danny explained. “She once fell two stories because she had a nightmare. So now she helps other kids with similar problems.”

He set the papers to the side and pushed another set to his parents.

“There’s no one at the school with similar powers to Bekah.”

His sister grinned at that.

“But the guidance counselor thought that she could learn a lot from Dr. McCoy.”

The photo attached showed a creature like a gorilla but a little more cat-like, blue, and with glasses on his face.
The letter was similar to the one from Moonstar, but was a little more detailed in his teaching methods.

“He’s the school’s Vice-Principal and doctor,” he explained. “He’s got six PhDs and is a literal genius in both the arts and the sciences.”

“And they think he’d be a good mentor for a six-year-old?”

Rebekah made a face at her father.

“I didn’t mean anything by it.”

Natasha rolled her eyes and smiled.

Chapter Text

Bucky stood in front of the compound, Rebekah on his hip and Natalia by his side.

Danny sat on the low roof nearby, reading a book while they waited.

Thor had sent a message that the group would be returning to Earth that afternoon, but hadn’t went into detail as to why they were returning so soon.

Bucky tried not to let his mind run away with him, but it was tough. Yasha was with them, and though the young man could take care of himself, he was on an alien planet. (Or, it was alien to Bucky. Who knew how many times Yasha had already been there?)

The clouds began to swirl, coalescing into a swirling vortex in the sky until a bright beam of technicolored light shot out of it, slamming into the ground a short ways off from the Compound.

Bucky shielded his eyes until the light dimmed. Rebekah squirmed down from his arms and ran towards the mildly charred circle of flattened grass.

Yasha bent to pick her up, grinning widely. He pulled his brother into a hug as well. His false eye had been replaced, originally being a clever prosthesis from Stark that appeared identical to his right eye. It now appeared to be made of gold with a sun carved into where the iris and pupil would usually be.

Bucky gestured to his own eye as a question, his son shrugging in return.

Loki’s eyes were shadowed, and Thor wasn’t his usual animated self. The teenagers seemed extremely pleased with themselves, however. Bucky made a note to ask for the full story later.

“Hey, how was your trip?” Natalia asked. The two parents eyed Loki, knowing that the other man would have detailed information if there was a problem.

Loki shook his head minutely, silently promising to tell them later.

Torunn and Magda both shrugged but had a gleam in their eyes that spoke of mischief.

Uma laughed loudly.

“Let’s just say that the council is upset with the All-Father and we probably won’t be invited back anytime soon.”

Torunn scoffed.

“Speak for yourselves. They loved us.”

The teenagers began to squabble amongst themselves, but not in an unfriendly way.

Yasha rolled his eyes, but smiled at their antics as the group headed inside.

“Did anything eventful happen while we were gone?” Loki inquired when they had made it into the main room and found seats to discuss the journey.

“We’re going to school!” Rebekah cheered.

Magda’s eyes lit up.

“The Xavier Institute?”

Thor frowned down at his daughter.

“I’ve never heard of such a place. Is it well known?”

Torunn looked as if she was going to start bouncing up and down.

“Only in the underground, non-human community.” She grabbed her father’s arm and started shaking with excitement. “It’s a school, but it’s also a safe place for anyone who isn’t human to rest and even live if they choose to.”

Loki narrowed his eyes.

“And you all know this how?”

“Most of us have been a student there at one time or another,” Uma answered, appearing on the back of the couch behind Loki and making him jump. She slid down next to him. “Yasha was planning on teaching there, weren’t you?”

The man smiled sadly.

“Before, yes. But I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity with all of the work to be done.”

“Are you planning on leaving again anytime soon?” Natalia sat with her legs crossed and Asmund in her lap.

“I do not think we will be returning to Asgard,” Thor replied with a shake of his head. “But my daughters and I have discussed going off to see what the world contains.”

Bucky looked to Loki.

“I haven’t spent much extended time on Earth, so I think we will be staying here.” He slid his eyes to his daughter. “And my children do need to attend school somewhere.”

Uma pumped her fist.

Bucky bit back a laugh.

“I’ll give you the professor’s number.”




Yasha sipped his drink, nearly choking when he started laughing at Uma’s retelling of their meeting with the council.

Lenore had, of course, told him already, but it was still a hilariously absurd story.

“I thought the whole idea of Jotnar being blue was a myth.” Clint gestured to Loki with his glass.

Loki winked, his right eye becoming a brilliant ruby and fading back to its usual blue.

“I’m a shapeshifter, Agent Barton.”

Clint’s eyebrows rose and he whistled.

“That would come in handy in Tasha’s line of work.”

Yasha looked to his mother with a grin. The older woman just rolled her eyes while Loki laughed, agreeing wholeheartedly.

Tony jumped over the back of the couch into his seat.

“Speaking of changing body parts.”

The rest of the adults groaned, rolled their eyes, and chastised him. He elected to ignore them.

“My eye wasn’t good enough for you?”

Yasha smirked.

“It was a gift from the queen. I wasn’t about to say no.”

Tony scoffed.

“Mine at least let you have depth perception.”

Lenore stifled a giggle next to her husband, making it seem like she was clearing her throat instead.

“The golden eye is fully functional to that of a normal eye, while also providing the ability to see energy signatures.” She cocked a brow. “You didn’t really expect my grandmother to give a paltry gift, did you?”

Sam laughed into his drink at Tony’s shocked expression.

“Oh, they are going to love you two in New York.” Tony shook his head and leaned back in his seat.

“Standing out isn’t a fear of mine,” Yasha replied. “It may actually help us.”

Scott groaned.

“Come on, I thought this was supposed to be a party. No shop talk.”

The rest of the party devolved into separate conversations. The children cracking jokes and swapping stories with the adults looking on in both awe and fear at the terrifying things the younger ones had witnessed. (And subsequently defeated)

Yasha watched as all of his friends and family smiled and enjoyed themselves. The fight wasn’t over, and he knew that there were many more trials and struggles that they would have to face sooner rather than later.

But there was hope. There was always hope.

He watched, focusing on the vision from his left eye and all of the energies it revealed.

Namely, the one coming from Vision’s forehead.

Yes, there were battles to be fought. And they would win.