Tiger DeRanged: Hey all, I know it's been a long while since I have posted anything on this site and I still have the Hobbit fic up, however recently a dear friend of mine had a birthday in December which I had to miss. This fic is my version of a birthday/Christmas gift. She has already read it, thus my posting this so late. She told me I should share it so here it is!
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Marvel Avengers but for the few OC characters I may mention. Those are all mine.
ENJOY! I hope it's worth your time!
Chapter One: What Secret is this Santa Man Keeping?
Luna DeRanged skipped down the carpeted hallway of the Avengers Tower, humming to herself as she fiddled with the device in her hand. Her voice was high, clear, and ringing beautifully in the empty hall while she ignored her surroundings with the ease of a child years younger than herself.
She wore a faded, but no less durable, Grey mechanic, full-body suit that was tucked into an equally durable pair of work boots. The top of the suit was unzipped revealing a skin-tight black tank top with a tool-belt hooked lopsidedly upon full hips. Her golden hair was cropped short with a few strips coming down to frame pale features, a wooden pencil tucked forgotten behind her ear. Crystalline blue eyes shone brightly with an almost manic glee as she fiddled with the device's connecting wires, heavy-duty work gloves not impeding her fingers' dexterity despite their thickness.
"Jingle bombs, jingle bombs...," she sang beneath her breath as she twirled around the corner only to bump into a broad chest, "Oomph."
Large, calloused hands came up to her arms to steady her, "Alright there, Luna?" Steve Roger's kind voice came from above her head, amusement clear in his blue gaze.
Grinning up at him, Luna nodded enthusiastically, "Yuppers!" she told him cheerfully, "Wait!" she said, eyes wide, "Why are you on Ronnie and I's floor?" she asked mock-accusingly, though she wore a suggestive smirk.
A light flush came over Steve's cheeks as he spoke in a bemused manner, "Luna, your on the training floor," the man said slowly. That's when Luna noticed the super soldier was dressed in sweats with a towel around his neck and a nice sheen of sweat over his revealed skin.
Luna's features became bewildered, "Now how did I get here?" she asked herself aloud, as if the walls or Steve could answer.
Steve fought a chuckle, "Where exactly were you headed, Luna?" he asked, amusement coating his words. He didn't think anyone could not like the odd girl before him. Hell, Natasha and Loki both had soft spots for the woman before him.
"Oh!" Luna practically beamed up at her fellow blond, "Ronnie's making breakfast!" she said, looking particularly proud of her remembering something so simple.
This time Steve let a chuckle loose, "C'mon, let's go down to the kitchen to see what we can do to help," he said, placing a hand between the woman's shoulder blades and gently leading her to the elevator.
Luna shrugged, attention drawn once again to the device in her hands, completely trusting the man leading her. Steve made sure she was settled before pushing the necessary buttons to get to their "lounge" room. Stark really had gone all out when he re-built the tower where Stark Tower once stood. Each floor had a purpose.
Leaning back against the steel elevator walls, Steve watched as the usually loopy woman looked serious and focused for the first time under Steve's observations, "What exactly are you working on, Luna?" he asked, hoping he didn't disturb her work.
"Hm, its a compact bomb. If I do it right, it should be as powerful as a nuke without the radioactive linger," her voice was distracted, professional almost.
Steve fought a flinch and stared at the device in the woman's gloved grasp; it just looked like hunks of metal and wire to him. What could the woman see? Must be pretty interesting to see the world from Luna's point of view, he couldn't help but think.
The two of them stood in silence as they waited, Christmas music playing low over the speakers. Steve couldn't help but be a bit mournful this time of year, so many friends and family lost while he was frozen. How had his mom felt hearing about her son crashing in the Atlantic with no sign of a body? All those Christmases she'd spent alone without even Bucky to comfort her!
"Hey, Steve?" Luna's voice sounded and broke him from his spiraling thoughts, "Your attracting ghouls as we speak," azure met azure, "Christmas is a time for happy remembrance and hope. Save such ghosts for Halloween." Her words surprised Steve with their wisdom.
"Th-thanks Luna," he managed out, determination filling him. She was right.
Luna gave a roguish smile and shrugged, "Thank Ronnie, its her words," she said giggling, finally putting away her bomb in one of her large pockets,"She always knows what to say and when to say it. I figured I'd give it a shot."
Steve nodded absently as the doors opened to reveal a large sitting room with a bar and attached kitchen where Ronnie was dancing while singing beautifully to Toto's "Africa" that was blasting over the speakers.
Her crimson curls were held up in a messy bun held in place by particularly long-looking needles with a few strips framing her face. Her legs were covered in fitted, faded jeans with tears at the knees, her usually worn combat boots were gone to reveal small, bare feet. A warm, soft-looking sweater covered her torso, large enough to fall off her bronzed shoulders and the sleeves rolled up to be out of her way. Even her gun holsters were gone, though she still wore the lopsided utility belt on full hips covered in bullets and nifty gadgets that saved them many times.
Luna gave an excited squeal before dashing forward and adding her soprano to harmonize beautifully with her sister's. Ronnie didn't pause in her motions, but a soft, loving smile came to her lips as she shifted slightly to give Luna room to help. It was an interesting sight.
Steve kept silent and made his way to the large table the team took their meals at; it had a perfect view. Both girls seemed oblivious (or in Luna's case: forgotten) about his presence.
They had moved on to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" amusingly enough when Tony walked in only to pause, a wide grin spreading over his face. He had just come from the lab, it seemed, because he wore the same ACDC T-shirt and oil-stained jeans he had worn yesterday, his arc-reactor glowing reassuringly beneath his shirt. For once, Tony and Steve remained cordial as the genius made his way silently to the table to join Steve. Neither wanted to alert their respective love-interests of their presence as they sang, danced, and laughed together while making breakfast.
Slowly, the others trickled in, delighted to see the two women unknowingly performing for them. Ronnie was usually extremely composed despite her compassionate and empathetic nature. Luna was too, in her own odd way. It was nice to see them let loose and only managed to lift all their spirits, even Loki's!
Suddenly, the two were singing an hilarious version of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" making the team fight laughter with each passing line.
"Draddle, Draddle, Draddle! I made it out of clay. And when it's dry and ready, a draddle I shall play. Oh draddle, draddle...draddle-," Luna burst in with a wide-joyous grin on her features.
"Luna! Twelve days of Christmas. That's Hanukkah," Ronnie cut in with an open smile on her own, miss-matched eyes twinkling, "It's a Christmas medley."
"Oh, right! Sorry," Luna offered a sheepish grin before both returned to the song finishing plating up breakfast in graceful movements. Teamwork, as ever, flawless.
Both froze mid-step and -lyric when they turned to see their audience at the table. A large blush covered both their faces as Thor spoke up in his usual booming tone.
"I did not realize that you and Lady Luna could sing, Lady Rhonda," the demigod enthused, "'Twas beautiful!"
The others nodded making the women blush further, ducking their heads as they brought the plates to the table without making eye contact.
"Why haven't you sung for us before?" Clint asked, leaning forward while grinning teasingly.
"Yes, when these idiots insisted we do karaoke," Loki spat this word in disgust but continued, "you told us you could not sing!" the other demigod was practically pouting.
Ronnie seemed to have recovered a bit and ran fond fingers through Loki's long locks soothingly while Luna spoke, "Meh," she shrugged, "We don't like being forced to sing," she left it at that.
"What do you mean?" Natasha spoke, eyes turned on Ronnie as the woman past her seat.
"Before S.H.I.E.L.D. and after Pops died, we lived on the streets. A woman heard us singing one day and forced us to sing by threatening the other's life for money," there was a darkness in Ronnie's gaze as she remembered, but she quickly shook it off, "Singing is a time for joy and freedom, not something that should be forced."
"Why don't you look surprised?" Tony asked Bruce, poking the man childishly on the cheek.
The scientist shrugged, "You remember Peru?" he asked, referring to the time Ronnie and Hulk had been stuck in a cave alone for a day. Seeing their nods he gave a bemused and amused smile, "She sang the Big Guy to sleep and kept him calm. Hell, she let him use her lap as a pillow! Now the Big Guy thinks of her as 'Momma'," the disbelief in his tone was obvious.
Everyone turned bewildered looks onto the woman as she sat between Bruce and Steve. She raised a brow, "What? Hulk has the mindset of a child, he just has the power to throw really bad tantrums," she shrugged, "Treat a child like a pariah and they get angry because they don't understand."
They all sat in shocked silence; it made sense oddly enough. Bruce was lost in his thoughts so Ronnie made him a plate and his coffee before starting on hers. Luna sat happily between Tony and Thor, nodding her head to a song only she seemed able to hear.
Tony glanced at the beautiful girl beside him, fighting off the urge to sweep the girl off her feet and kiss her. She had become his sunshine and oxygen in the passing years. Especially when Pepper left. She understood: the loudness of thoughts, the uncontrollable urge to build, and the loss of space and time when in the middle of a project. She was perfect.
Steve's thoughts were running along the same lines of Tony's, but for Ronnie. The woman had a seemingly endless supply of compassion and patience, and always seemed to truly understand each of them. Even Hulk it seems. Not to say the woman had no negative attributes. Her morals seemed a bit flexible and she seemed to have more than a few screws loose, but he had fallen for her. Hard.
"Thor, darlin', put more fruit on your plate," Ronnie's southern drawl cut through both men's thoughts about her and her sister.
The god of thunder paused mid-scarf of sausage, eyes wide. Luna giggled and patted his arm, "She said add fruit, not that you couldn't eat anything else, hon."
"So what brought on the karaoke mood?" Steve spoke, nodding toward the kitchen to clarify.
Luna got a far-away, fond look in her eyes mirrored by Ronnie, "It's a tradition Pops started for our first Christmas together as a family," she said softly with a sad smile.
Ronnie gave a watery chuckle, "Old man couldn't carry a tune to save his life, but damn do I miss it sometimes," she whispered, tears filming both women's eyes despite their smiles.
Tony took a deep breath and a leap of courage before scooting closer and wrapping a comforting arm around Luna's shoulders. Surprisingly, the girl snuggled into his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his waist with a small sniffle. Nearby Steve grabbed Ronnie's hand to which the woman entwined their fingers and managed a wobbly, thankful smile.
Silence covered the table as they let their favorite girls recover before Tony spoke up, "What were some of the other traditions? We can all participate, keep them alive," he suggested, "We're an odd bunch, but we are a family. We can continue Pops traditions as ours now."
"Yes! The Man of Iron makes a brilliant point!" Thor boomed while Luna beamed up at the man she was snuggled into.
Ronnie was squeezing Steve's hand and beaming at everyone as they nodded in agreement.
"Secret Santa!" Luna exclaimed, practically bouncing in Tony's arms in childish glee while Ronnie laughed.
"That was the biggest one, wasn't it?" she asked, still laughing.
"What is this secret this man Santa is trying to keep?" Loki asked, both he and Thor wearing similar looks of confusion.
This brought a round of laughter as Luna explained through her giggles, "No! You write everyone's name on a slip of paper, place them in a container, shake it up, and then everyone draws a name," she explained happily, dreamy smile back much to Tony's delight.
"Alright. So, Secret Santa. Any other traditions?" Natasha asked, leaning into Clint in a rare show of contentedness.
Ronnie nodded, while Steve grinned because she had yet to let go of his hand, "We got a tree and decorated it together."
Luna jumped in again, snuggling further into Tony's embrace oblivious, "Then there's visiting the kids at Children's!"
Ronnie grinned, "Would you guys be willing to suit up?" she asked, "Bruce, you could be Santa with Luna and I as elves," here she snickered.
Luna smiled, "Staying up to watch Christmas movies Christmas Eve and then cooking together on Christmas with nothing but Christmas music playing."
Everyone nodded, all looking forward to keeping the true smiles on the womens faces.
"Alright! Let's do this," Steve said, eager to begin, "We need paper to write names and a hat or bag to mix the slips in."
"JARVIS!" Tony called out to the AI as Natasha beat Clint into helping her with the emptied dishes.
"Of course, sir," the AI's British accent never failed to amuse Luna, "Shall I get a Santa hat for the occasion, Miss. Luna?" the AI favored the woman almost as much as its creator.
"Yes, please, Mr. J," Luna mocked a Harley Quinn accent, giggling happily.
"And shall I search for the nearest pine tree farm, Miss. Rhonda?" the AI asked as Dummy appeared with the hat, paper, and pen.
"If it's no trouble, JARVIS, I'd appreciate it, hon," the woman said warmly, patting Dummy gently as she retrieved the materials.
"No trouble at all madam. Dr. Banner's costume should be here in three days as well," the witty AI added before going silent.
Everyone fought laughter at Bruce's resigned features while Ronnie started the process of writing names. This is when she noticed she still held Steve's hand, and with a blush almost as red as her flaming curls Ronnie snatched her hand away and ducked her head, trying to appear busy writing names. Steve cast a slightly mournful look at his now empty hand, but quickly wiped his features clean at the others' sly grins.
Ronnie quickly ripped the paper into neat strips and placed them in the Santa hat, handing it to an excited Luna with an amused smile and a raised, expectant brow.
Luna snatched it excitedly and shook it enthusiastically, moving her whole body and as a result removing herself from Tony's arms much to the man's disappointment. Once she deemed it adequately mixed she held it out to Tony, eyes wide with excitement.
Smiling with a surprising gentleness, Tony took it and made a show of searching for a name causing Luna to giggle at his theatrics while the others rolled their eyes fondly. Finally, he grabbed one and pulled it out to read. For a moment his eyes widened before he became very thoughtful, passing the hat to Bruce while tucking the, now, crumpled slip into his pocket.
"Who did you get Man of Iron?" Thor asked impatiently, brows furrowed.
Ronnie, in her endless patience, explained calmly, "The point is for no one to know who gets who. You don't even put your name on the gift. After the person opens it they guess and the "Santa" will reveal them-self," she smiled, fondly as Thor nodded in thoughtful understanding.
The hat passed as follows: Tony, Bruce, Ronnie, Steve, Clint, Natasha, Loki, Thor, and finally Luna.
Expressions varied, but everyone was looking forward to it. It was their first Christmas with their new family, and they got to share the traditions to remember the old family. Ronnie's and Luna's eyes met and they smiled before turning back to their family and secret loves.
It would be an interesting Christmas, to say the least.