Chapter 1: Wanda
"You're going to have to work on forgiveness." Barnes sat down across from Wanda on the common floor.
Wanda looked at him. It didn't take telepathy to tell she thought he meant Tony Stark.
"Forgiving yourself." Barnes offered.
Wanda looked at him sharply.
"It's not easy. That's why it's important." He's learned why he was sent to protect a First Lady, whose husband was a better speaker than a president. "While you hold onto your guilt, you can't reach for anything else." It was not a lesson he took to naturally, but she was younger. "Who do you want to be when you grow up?"
Wanda sputtered, and he just smiled because she was still younger than he'd been going off to war. Though, she'd never known peace even before Ultron, the Baron, or a Stark missile in her living room. All the more reason to ask her the question. "You think on that. Work on the other."
She looked at him and tilted her head in begrudging assent. Fair enough. Nobody could have talked to him when he was her age. Someone should benefit from his experience. "Dance Dance Revolution?" She jumped up and started pushing furniture out of the way.
Wanda had decided she wanted to make burek and not just for Pietro and herself. The Avengers ate together, and she had made her choices. If she could eat Dr. Banner and Clint's cooking, she should feed people too. It made more sense to work in the common kitchen.
"Wanda." Vision stood as he greeted her.
"Hi, Vision." She smiled, then turned towards the kitchen. She realized he was following her. Which seemed a little odd, since she didn't think he actually ate, so she glanced over her shoulder. Oh. She turned back to where she was going, smiling. "Would you like to keep me company?"
"Very much." Vision was quiet as they walked. "Could I assist in any way?"
She considered the offer. This could be more complicated than burek. But, despite how recently Vision was created, he was not a child. She could teach him at least something.
On getting to the kitchen, she considered the appetites of the team. Perhaps making goulash as well would be in order. She set up on the counter to make the dough, giving Vision tasks locating ingredients and tools.
In the end, she had to brown the goulash meat but she thought in the future Vision would be able to handle that part. He'd been fine with dicing the onion and mincing the garlic, as well as cutting the beef. Once it was stewing, she mixed the dough, giving Vision instructions for the fillings.
"Thanks for helping me with this." She started layering dough in the bowl before asking Vision to start preheating the oven. Stretching out the dough was the secret, that and the folding. She did let Vision help with the last one, which, honestly it didn't go too badly. They would have both cheese, and meat and potatoes burek. She popped in a tray of each into the oven. Staggering them would be fine.
"You spend a lot of time with Barnes." Pietro sat the pot down on the trivet at the center of the table.
Wanda poured juice into glasses, putting the pitcher back into the fridge. She brought them to the table. "He does spend the most time on the common floor." Sam was dating Zyphri, Bruce had experiments to conduct, while Clint, Natasha, and Steve had a multitude of reasons to be very busy. Wanda pulled a wheel of bread from the oven with a towel, placing it on a platter, still swaddled. She carried it to the table, setting it down beside the stew.
"Why? Why seek him out?"
"Pietro, these people are our second chance. We don't have another family." She sat on her chair, looking up at her twin.
Pietro sat, then reached out his hand and accepted her bowl. He ladled her stew and passed it back, serving himself also. Wanda broke the bread, offering him a piece which he took. He buttered it and set to eating.
"Barnes isn't Bruce or Clint." Pietro sipped his juice.
Wanda tipped her head. That was true; the observation gave her an in on her brother's thoughts. "He's been where we almost ended up." She hadn't been able to manipulate him because he'd returned from worse than she could conjure.
Pietro looked at his sister, then nodded.
The young woman got off the subway at the Stark Tower station, climbing the stairs to the lobby. She approached the main desk, "Fujikawa Chiyoko to see Ms. Potts."
The security guard typed in the information and read his screen. "Ms. Fujikawa, the elevator will let you out at floor 56." His gaze indicated the elevator bank.
Chiyoko walked toward them, one set of doors opening for her. She smiled in acknowledgement of the deft display. She used the time going up to focus herself. She had studied CEO Pepper Potts. How good that intelligence was would be revealed.
Pepper looked at the tablet her executive assistant proffered her as her meeting continued. Fujikawa was a family that had excelled at the new opportunities presented during the Meiji Restoration. "Gentlemen, Ms. Gordon, Ms. Mitchum, you have much to discuss among yourselves. Please continue to talk." She stood, and exited. Fujikawa had continued to excel during the 20th and 21st centuries. Their vertical and horizontal integration was phenomenal.
She entered the lounge her unexpected visitor had been shown to. She bowed moderately, taking in her caller's age as she did so. "Ms. Fujikawa, how may I assist you?" She sat, trusting that JARVIS would be funneling information to her XA.
"I come with a matter of some delicacy and seek your assistance in meeting my father."
Pepper was not shocked, though she'd been CEO long enough to have sloughed off some of her PA callouses. "May I ask the basis of your belief?" She'd handled a few paternity claims in her time, though always with paramours and not purported progeny.
"He was married to my mother."
Married? Pepper smiled while she tried to think. It was at least an original tack. "Was?" She thought she knew Tony's biography thoroughly, if perhaps not all of the women predating her employment as his PA.
"I'm sorry." Pepper didn't know how old Chiyoko was, though she was likely of sufficient age to precede Pepper correcting Tony's calculation. That didn't mean the woman had her facts correct.
"I found information only recently, which is why I'm trying to contact my father. He would know a different version of my mother than my grandparents."
It was a disarmingly personal rationale for claiming a connection to Tony. "Ms. Fujikawa, with all sympathy, I will have to ask for some proof of your claim. Would you object to a genetic test? It would be done in house, with full discretion."
"I understand. Could I observe? I know these things are much faster than once was the case."
It was a reasonable precaution on her part, considering the age of miracles the world had entered. Pepper however needed to confirm how that would work, not wishing to discomfort Bruce, who was her first choice for this. "I need to see what other processes are currently underway. May I offer further hospitality while I do so?"
Chiyoko approved of Ms. Potts. Not that she needed her approval; rather, she found that Ms. Potts was a worthy reference for her unquantified and oft-maligned father. Sheltered as her grandparents had attempted to keep her, she was aware of both why they and the press would seek to discredit Tony Stark. She'd been careful to utilize strong "safe" browsing on discovering her mother's personal papers.
She allowed that she'd not seen any of the local sights and that she might appreciate taking a meal as convenient. Her minder didn't discount her for her youth and was personable in a way her grandfather's employees could profit from the example. Not that they'd generally concede to the instruction by an American woman.
They circled back in what was a quick and yet satisfying interval. Chiyoko was perhaps in some need of delay. Unlike Ms. Potts, she was sure of her paternity, if not of her reception. On entering the lab, she understood why Ms. Potts had demurred so diplomatically.
"Dr. Banner, it's an honor unexpected to meet you."
He smiled shyly and nodded at her. "Likewise. Please, sit." He gestured to a lab stool. "This will be a simple saliva-based test."
"Pepper." Tony took in how she was holding herself. "What's wrong?"
"I'm going to say something, and I want you to say the first thing that comes to your mind."
Tony looked at her perplexed; Pepper rarely wanted his off the cuff reaction, which granted he could understand given his lack of filter. "Okay."
Tony dropped onto the couch, impressed that it didn't add insult to his shock. "Rumiko. Pepper, why ask me about her?"
"Who was Rumiko Fujikawa?" Pepper sat next to him, placing a hand gently on his knee.
Okay, she wasn't mad. Yet. Tony pressed his hand over Pepper's, giving it a squeeze. "She was my wife. She died."
"You were married?! Tony, how did you keep that out of the press? I have something to tell you, but I need to know what happened to Rumiko, since this is the first I've heard of her."
"We were young, her parents didn't approve, mine had recently died, and we got married in a whirlwind. It, Rumiko's death, it wasn't that long after the wedding." He'd thrown himself into a succession of distractions to dull his loss. It had taken him crawling out of a cave to stop hiding from the memory. Rumiko had been so beautiful, so smart, alive and intriguing. Only Pepper had her own light in comparison.
Pepper spoke, "You have a daughter."
"That's not possible!" Except, Pepper was saying it, Tony and Rumiko certainly enjoyed each others company, and her parents were certainly capable... "JARVIS, is there a death certificate for Fujikawa Rumiko, Aichi prefecture?"
JARVIS asked him more questions and decades dropped from him. Rumiko had coached him so carefully he hadn't forgotten.
"I have located Koseki registry records for both Rumiko and Chiyoko Fujikawa. Sir, I'm very sorry, they have the same date in common. February 29th, 1996."
More than three months. They told Tony she was dead, and she wasn't for over three months. "Chiyoko?" He looked at Pepper. She was blurry. He hadn't been drinking, why was she blurry?
Pepper didn't disappoint him, his rock and lighthouse. "She's come to find you. I didn't inquire further as to the beginning of her journey."
Pepper was calm. Blurry, but calm, so not only wasn't he drunk he didn't have a concussion and probably wasn't dying. JARVIS no longer could keep that sort of secret. From him, he supposed, but Pepper wouldn't be calm, and she was. "She's a grown woman." Shock, he was in shock. They, Rumiko's parents had stolen his daughter's childhood from him. He'd thought they'd hated him, but he'd not judged it this deep. Chiyoko. His daughter.
"Yes, she is." Pepper, better than Houston Ground Control. "And you can get to know her, but you'll need to meet her to do so." Pepper was rubbing his cheeks with her thumbs, holding his head in her hands.
"Did you just tell JARVIS not to answer my questions?" He leaned into Pepper, his question rhetorical. He couldn't bear to see her answer; she rested her chin on top of his head. There were photos. He probably still owned a developing company in Japan; he wondered if they'd diversified from film by now. "JARVIS, make sure all of my businesses in Japan are known to someone in my employ." Pepper laughed, and he was pretty sure it was at him.
"That's something I check continuously, worldwide." JARVIS had such hauteur. He'd done a good job, Edwin Jarvis would, maybe he wouldn't approve, he might consider it impertinent; Peggy though would grant it was a good successor to Edwin's arch pique.
Tony ran Bruce to ground; he wouldn't think of it that way if he didn't feel his science brother was hiding from him. The Avengers were dealing with a matter that couldn't be helped by Big Green, so Steve wasn't around to provide cover.
Tony would be impressed if he wasn't the object of Bruce's negation. "Bruce!"
"Tony, you should have met her as a child, but I will not be pulled any further into this. You will blame me if I do; she will figure out to blame me. I cannot win except by not playing."
Wow. "You wound me." He was proud, and he wanted to be sure Bruce knew it. "You're right." He didn't actually believe that, though he was biased towards getting his own way. Bruce likely was right, he often was. When he wasn't right, it was normally from caving regarding his own wellbeing. So, Tony would grant the possibility. Swagger was good.
Bruce. It was too bad the Winter Soldier hadn't been in Ohio-- "Stick to your guns. I'm tricky." Tony sat to better wheedle. He was disappointed when Bruce turned his back on him. He didn't like being ignored.
"Do you have another reason to be here?" Bruce puttered, he didn't even try to pretend he had experiments running.
"Pepper's busy, and Darcy pointed out I don't have an integral chunk of metal. I might have mentioned tasers are illegal in the state." That she had high and low friends more than capable of clouding how he was stunned, he'd have to sleep with one eye open if it wasn't for Pepper and JARVIS. Mostly Pepper; JARVIS was an ingrate. Acorn, kernel, either way, it didn't fall far, sons from fathers. "How do I do this?"
Bruce turned, granting his full attention. A close enough approximation. "I'm the last person that can answer that question." Relentless Bruce as regular as a storm to a cork, or a plucked string to any node. "Look, why don't you talk to someone that is a parent?" Wise and smart.
Tony went through a series of questions and answers, internally, so it wasn't crazy or brainstorming. He did know someone in a similar situation. Said someone, however, was off with the Avengers. As was Phantastique and her alien artifacts of advanced technology. No answers, no great distractions. He realized he was walking a fine line contemplating asking Bishop for her opinion. Tony would have to wait for Phil and Clint to return.
Clint wondered what Tony had done that JARVIS had asked him to speak with him even before he'd returned to the Tower. Asked, not that he wanted Clint to talk to Tony... Whatever it was, it couldn't be too unstable, he'd been able to return, shower and even grab food and a quick embrace. The mission hadn't been rough, but he expected he'd need the fortification for dealing with Tony.
"Should you or Bishop be Merida?" Tony didn't greet people, just broke around them like a wave meeting an object.
"Depends if Katniss is the other choice." Clint didn't mind jumping through fire hoops.
"Too on the nose, check. Katniss, I need to talk with your sneakier half."
Tony was an arena and the cats. "I'm not Phil's keeper." Clint was amused, and perhaps he could jolly Tony into explaining himself.
Tony started to disagree and thought better of it. "I need advice, and he's the closest to a parent this troupe has." Tony added, "Skye."
Clint gave thanks for the clue because he could have detoured badly. "Congratulations." He would have expected more surprise and spectacle. "When's she/he due?" He wasn't going to risk inciting twins.
Tony blanched. "Adult daughter."
Oh. "I'll send him to you." Clint left. This was, Phil was more qualified and he'd stick to that.
"Stark." Phil had just finished taming local law enforcement who were not used to superheroes, and he didn't need old fires to triage.
"Agent." Tony smiled, wanly. Subtle, but distinctly off.
"Bring me up to speed." As a courtesy to Pepper, he'd include this in his duties though it predated the Avengers initiative.
"I was married and she died in 1995. Except, she didn't. Coma, she didn't come out."
That was a surprise and a novel condensed. Phil wasn't often taken aback by Tony. "I'm sorry for your loss. What do you need of me?" He hadn't considered this scenario when Clint told him Tony had discovered an adult daughter.
"I don't know. You tell me, Agent."
"I need to know what you know." Facts would help him and possibly focus Stark. They vomited out in a gout of information, multi-channel as Tony talked and JARVIS presented virtual documents and glosses of same. He was impressed, it wasn't easy getting records in Japan. Then he noticed the family name. Even without knowing just which branch Tony had tied himself to, this was not simple even for a multibillionaire. He skimmed the information, winking pieces shut as he saw fit. He wasn't actually paid to invade people's privacy anymore. JARVIS would catch anything bearing on public safety at least as well as he would. "Do you read kanji?"
"Sure, you?" Tony started picking through the variations.
He just looked at Tony unblinkingly. He wasn't fluent in Japanese, but his ideographic knowledge was better. Very efficient. The 'thousand' and the 'child' were consistent, while the 'yo' varied between propitious choices. "Which kanji did Rumiko use for herself?"
Tony smiled. "She liked both "Brandy" and "Blue Snake."
Phil could understand how such a woman and Tony might click. "Adorning Pearl" and "Flowing Kindness" seemed to be her parents' desire for her. Yeah, he could see how Tony would be especially discordant to them. Rumiko couldn't have missed that either. "What do you want? Not what you think you can have, not what's reasonable." He needed parameters. "Tony, what do you want?"
"To be worthy of my daughter."
Raw. "Keep that in mind, and you're doing well." Phil had with experience learned that Tony and Stark, Tony were related and yet very different people. "Do you need help?"
Pepper had brokered many deals, both as CEO of Stark Industries and as Tony's PA. This was by far the most awkward position she'd been in; patron and intercessor for Chiyoko, his daughter. She'd been firm that since the young woman had already had to improvise with her, Tony got to be the trick pony this time. He had the experience, if not this experience. At least she had Phil to herd Tony and Clint as a backstop for both.
The door opened, and Tony breezed in. "Do I say it, or do you?"
"I am your father," and "You are my father," synched perfectly. Pepper wondered how they decided that was their go to. She took solace that there were no lightsabers, no gantries and Tony had stepped back from the Dark Side some years ago. Chiyoko was Leia enough to assuage Pepper, given that JARVIS could defend Tony from half-witted scruffy nerf herders that shot first and thought later. So she didn't wonder all that deeply.
"You look a lot like your mother, with some of my good looks. Did you get her brains?"
"Perhaps you can judge and tell me. My grandparents don't speak of my mother often, the subject pains them."
"And me, do they speak of me? Like an ailment, as some people overshare?"
If lightning struck Tony, it would have nothing to do with Thor. Pepper stayed put for all she wanted to leave.
"Oversharing is not among their qualities."
"Yeah, that's the diplomatic and cutting turn of phrase Rumiko had."
Pepper wondered that Tony had grown a filter.
"You touch against the reason I have come. I would like to know my mother, not the shade my grandparents have embroidered."
Tony rejoined, now speaking Japanese. "They would contain a supernova in a barrel? Your mother was a phoenix, a wave, a drumming of a woman."
Chiyoko seemed fascinated, then looked at Pepper.
"Would you prefer me to leave?" Pepper asked in Japanese.
"Only if this is difficult for you." Chiyoko offered Pepper an out, diving into Japanese.
"The dancer leaves a mark upon the music that remains." She looked at Tony.
"Then we can be two instrumentalists," Chiyoko said to her.
"I'm outnumbered and fortunate indeed," Tony interjected.
"Then bring Rumiko forth with words, tune." Pepper challenged Tony grinning, then smiled at Chiyoko.
Chiyoko grinned at Pepper. "Please, father. I would know how a star dances."
"How I met your mother..."
Chiyoko appreciated Pepper, she'd been told by her to call her that, both for staying as she got a feel for her father and for choosing to retreat as she introduced herself. It spoke to her extraordinary nature to stay while Chiyoko 'met' her mother as she was as opposed to her grandparents' wishes for their dead daughter.
Since now she was getting to know her father currently, as well as presenting herself, she'd returned the conversation to English. That seemed right, just as Japanese was fitting for her first true view of her mother. "I've graduated from university, so they are introducing me to eligible men."
"Eligible estates would be more understandable. Men are harder to rank than horses or land." Her father paused. "Unless they administer an engineering test. Sciences, math, those would be objective."
"They'd hardly consider those more suitable judgements than a cosplay pageant or explication of comic books."
"All of them would remind them of me." Her father smiled like a shark. "Though, that does sound like the basis of a good game show, like a beauty contest with fewer marimbas. Are the game shows still nuts?"
Chapter 3: Katie
Kate loosed two arrows, then nocked two more, fired and drew two from her hip quiver, sending them also into the target. Clint was in another lane, just a set of sounds offset from her own.
She stilled as someone entered the range. She turned, fingers near the fletching of a new arrow as the man approached them. She couldn't recall a more nondescript man, which made her suspicious.
Clint moved beside her, and she judged he knew who was coming. Thunk, thunk. She turned to Clint and saw him shoot two separate targets. Show off.
"Hawkeye." The man looked at Clint then turned to her. "Miss Bishop."
"Kate." She wondered who he was, but wasn't going to be treated like a kid. Clint stood down and shot the man a smile as he turned. Oh. Yeah, that was a life goal, find someone that made you smile like Clint was.
The not so nondescript man smiled like they'd been rationed. A little crisp.
"Katie, this is Phil. Decided to meet my protege?"
Yeah, Phil had it bad, which Clint, understandable. She tried to observe, there was something she was missing about Phil. Rupert Giles, he was not.
Nervous. Phil was nervous, and he had to have seen that smile, if not just now, before. Which meant she was making him nervous. Why ever? She'd met Natasha, and he couldn't not know her.
"Katie's good. Controlled." Clint focused on Phil. "Do you miss it?"
Kate fought the smile, she wasn't condoning his diminutive. This was where the musical number would start. Phil calmed; she'd seen this in horses.
Phil reached out with his left hand and slid against Clint's side. He looked natural there. Clint was grinning, so this had to be an in-joke or something. She turned back to her target and put five arrows in a tight grouping.
"I should be Avenging." All Clint wanted her to do was train. Archery, understandable. Hand-to-hand, which, okay, learning how to combine styles was useful. Wall climbing, obstacle courses... "Or is stunt driving next?" That, it could be cool. Clint was stalling.
"No, you should be paying attention to your senior year of high school and, making plans for college."
"No one pays attention to senior year." Had they in the past? Okay, Clint was acting weird, what did that mean? He'd told her some about laying in wait to take the shot. He could be pretty still if he weren't juggling or doing backflips on the sparring mats.
"Kate, I promise you there will be Avenging to do after you finish high school. Trouble isn't going out of style that quickly."
"Because it's not hair feathering?"
"The internet is forever." Clint put one arrow into the bullseye, and another splitting the first shaft.
"You stole two of my arrows!"
Kate looked at the layout of balls on the table, circled the table and picked her shot, calling it. The three balls dropped, 10, 14, 12. She nodded at Darcy as they were playing a variant eight-ball game.
Darcy looked at the table and took the 6, tried to follow up with the 3 but didn't get it.
Kate judged, banking a couple of her balls into a better position.
Darcy went to the left rail.
"Um." She pointed out a better shot, and Darcy got her 1, with 4 kissing the left middle. Darcy then attempted the 5.
Kate called and got her 9 and 15.
Darcy took her 4 and then got her 3 in the opposite pocket. She missed the 7.
Kate called and took the 8, ending the game. "Have you seen MOMA recently?"
"I like how the works aren't split up now. The Frankenthaler prints with her paintings instead of tromping about."
Kate nodded. "And having a time flow instead."
"Much better." Darcy concurred. "Would you be interested in helping me wrangle Steve for an outing?"
"Sure." Kate paused. "Why do you need help?"
Chapter 4: Chiyoko
"Thank you for coming today." Tony addressed the gathered reporters. "Lots of announcements today, but I want to start off on a personal note with an introduction." He extended his hand and was joined on the stage. "Chiyoko, this is the press. I'll let them speak for themselves in a moment. Chiyoko is my daughter and heir. Now, the new releases from Stark Industries."