Authors Note

Well, this is the first Avengers story I've ever written. It's been floating around in my head ever since I saw the Avengers. This will span from before Iron Man, right through to Civil War, possibly beyond. There will be some Agent's of SHIELD thrown in as well. Be warned, this is going to be a very long story and I hope everyone enjoys the ride. It'll be mostly cinematic universe, with some elements of the comics thrown in. However I won't strictly be sticking to Canon the entire way through.

I'm the first to admit I can be either really good with updating, or completely slack! As much as I'd love to keep a regular updating schedule it, unfortunately, doesn't happen. I hope the longish chapters are enough to keep people happy. I work some pretty crazy hours so I only get a chance to write in my downtimes. Which some weeks isn't terribly much. I don't have a beta, so please excuse any spelling/grammar errors. Pages only picks up so much for me and when I'm typing at 4am like a crazy insomniac my brain does weird things.

I'm Australian, so as much as I try to write this correctly I don't have a huge knowledge of the US. Google is my friend when it comes to anything in the US and DC, so I hope I get most things right.

Anything Marvel related I don't own. Kari and her family are my own, and people are welcome to use them elsewhere with permission. I love reviews, constructive most welcome.

This story is rated M for my potty mouthed characters, their dirty minds and the occasional steamy scene.

Onwards with the show. I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I enjoy writing it.

I gulped nervously and adjusted my skirt once again. The material felt soft against my fingers but it did nothing to reassure me. I crossed my legs and felt my stockings rub against each other. My hands were sweating and left a slight smudge as I tried to wipe it away on my skirt. I exhaled and saw my breath mist in front of me slightly, though the room was comfortably warm. I had to calm down. This was just an interview, nothing terrible. I had been through dozens of interviews. First when I was young going into an exclusive private school. Then into the Air Force which had taken me 3 tries before I was accepted as a pilot. This one was no different.

Except it was with the one place I never really wanted to be. Other members of my family happily work here. Yet I had always sworn I wanted to live a normal life. I didn't want to have anything to do with the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division. My own twin brother worked here as an agent, a Specialist as he'd proudly proclaim. Though the details on what he exactly did were sketchy. I rarely saw him these days. My mother was head of Human Resources in New York and my Father ran the weapons development in R&D. My entire family were neck deep in SHIELD and I never wanted to be.

I looked down at my hands knotted together and wanted to sigh in frustration. Both of them were covered in ice crystals, though it was melting as quickly as it appeared. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. This interview was nothing more than a mere formality. As someone on the Index, of course, I was closely watched. Especially being in the military. After the mess I had made there was a major clean up already in place. SHIELD wasn't my only problem, I was going to have to deal with my Mom sooner rather than later. Not that I'd really had time to. I woke up in an unfamiliar bed only a few hours ago feeling like I'd been hit with a sledgehammer. The medics here in SHIELD had been kind enough to fill me in on most of the details while letting me use the shower before this meeting.

"Kari Lyngley." A tall brown haired agent opened the door across the hallway from me. I jumped to my feet instantly, resisting the urge to snap to attention.

"Agent Maria Hill." Agent Hill looked none too pleased with my appearance. She didn't even offer her hand in greeting. "Come in. Director Fury is waiting for you."

Her words made my stomach knot uncomfortably. It took all my self control not to disappear and find a deep, dark cave with the hope no one would ever find me. I was in so much shit.

"Of course." I forced a smile on my face and followed her into the room. In it sat a desk with a chair in front of it. Behind the desk sat the director of SHIELD himself, Nick Fury. He was intimidating to look at in the rare photo I'd seen of him. In person, he was downright terrifying.

"Sit," he commanded without any greeting. I was more than happy to comply as I plonked myself down in the chair straight away. The knot in my stomach had now done a somersault and turned itself into a bow. Agent Hill sat beside him without a word.

"Perhaps we can start with what the fuck happened out there?" Fury sounded beyond angry. His stare bore into me and my mouth went dry. The temperature in the room dropped noticeably as my control slipped. It took me a moment to regain control of myself before I could find the words to speak. I didn't miss the look the two shared between them at the moment of my loss of control.

"They slipped something in my drink," I said hoarsely. Moisture gathered in the corner of my eyes and I tried to blink it away. "I was just trying to get the hell out of there before I had no control. I didn't manage to get out quickly enough."

Agent Hill softened a bit and what looked like sympathy came across her face. Saturday night had started off as such innocent fun. It had quickly turned into a nightmare for me.

I was the only female fighter pilot in the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base. I had worked my ass off to get where I was and I was immensely proud of my skills. Flying F-22 Raptors was a childhood dream come true. I had been at Langley Base for nearly two years and never had an issue with workmates until two new pilots arrived six months earlier. Paul Ruddner and Trevor Fitzgerald. Both seemed to have a major bug up their ass about me being there. Despite being told to back off several times by other pilots, they both liked to go out of their way to make my life hell. This has been going on for six months. Saturday night was a night out for us pilots to celebrate. We'd just finished a huge training exercise with a few other Squadrons. It had been a hectic last six weeks and we all needed to blow off steam. I wasn't very sociable and it had taken a lot of persuading for the other pilots to get me to come out. Despite my reservations, I'd been having a good time at the Officers Bar on base. It was nearly midnight before I decided to have my last drink and call it a night. Trevor bumped into me as I was leaving the bar knocking my beer out of my hand. He caught it and gave it back to me without a word. At the time I was too buzzed to really give it much thought. But alarms bells should have been going off in my head. Instead, I started doing the rounds to say goodnight to everyone. I was getting dizzier by the second and tried to stagger outside before Paul grabbed me by the arm to keep me inside.

"You should come back to my place Kari." The memory of his voice made me shudder. "You looked to wasted to get home."

"Fuck off and die." I tried my best to get free. The intent in his voice was clear. He had a bruising grip on my arm and I couldn't get free. My head had started to go fuzzy and I could barely see straight. The terror of knowing what he'd done had chilled me right to the bone. When he tried to pull me into him what little control I had of my power snapped. I don't remember what happened next but when my vision cleared the entire room was covered in three inches of ice and people were frantically shouting. Paul was a solid figure of ice with the most ridiculous expression on his face. I tried to turn around and run into the frozen figure of Trevor. I reached my hand up to my face and found myself invisible. Using it to my advantage I staggered outside. Somehow I made it back to my apartment and I found a SHIELD agent already waiting for me. I spent the flight to the Triskelion throwing up the rest of alcohol and whatever drug the two idiots had slipped me. Then I spent the next day sleeping it off in the infirmary until I was able to move again this morning.

SHIELD like to call us Enhanced. My family more leant towards calling it gifted. The rest of the world called us mutants. Having powers was a blessing and a curse all at the same time. I was doubly cursed as I had two powers. My strongest gift was the ability to manipulate the moisture in the air and turn things to ice. Cyrokinesis was the elaborate term for it. When I was younger I had to touch things to make them freeze. Now I could simply manipulate the moisture around me to make anything I wanted to freeze. The curse with it was if I lost control things would freeze. I had never had a mishap like the night before.

My second power was the ability to turn invisible. It wasn't just myself, I could be holding an object and it would become invisible with me. The invisibility was a lot harder to explain and do. It required a lot of focus and concentration to maintain. It was fun as a child, but now as an adult I rarely let it happen. In turn, I rarely used my cyrokinesis either. I liked having a normal life and neither of those powers fit in with being normal. So I kept it to myself.

I was born this way. My entire family had powers in many different ways. In turn, my entire family had been involved with SHIELD for generations, starting with my Grams in World War Two. My parents personally knew Nick Fury and I was sure that was the only reason I wasn't being shipped off to the Sandbox or the Fridge before I had a chance to explain myself. I was the black sheep of the family and wanted a career far away from SHIELD. I'd been successful in doing it so far. All until now of course.

"Two fatalities. A room of 45 people to debrief and keep quiet," Fury's voice snapped me away from my thoughts. I dropped my eyes down, not daring to look at his face. I never knew where to look anyway, whether to look at his good eye and avoid the patch or not. "Not to mention the amount of paperwork this debacle has taken because it happened on military property."

I flinched waiting for the next onslaught. I was going to the Fridge for sure. Not even Mom was going to be able to bail me out of this one.

"What do you have to say for yourself?" Fury asked me sounding deadly calm.

I risked glancing up at him. Funnily enough, he didn't look too angry. More thoughtful as he stared at me.

"Sorry feels slightly inadequate," I said quietly, staring down at my folded hands. I used to be able to make patterns of ice over them when I was younger. I hadn't done it in such a long time, I'm sure I could barely conjure up anything more than a thin sheet these days. "Though I can speak for my entire squadron and say no one is going to miss those two assholes. I really would prefer not to be raped as well."

I finally found my voice and a little bit of bravado with it. What was I expected to do in that situation? I was terrible at any kind of hand to hand combat and everyone else had been too drunk to notice what was going on. Should I have just let them drag me off and not fight? I knew my statement about no one missing them was true as well. They were both average pilots and I'd heard plenty of murmured complaints about them before.

Hill sighed quietly but no sound came from Fury. The room remained uncomfortably quiet as I stared down at my hands. I dared to sneak a look up again. Fury was staring at me, no emotion on his face giving away what he was really feeling.

"You know Kari, this is exactly why your family has been involved with us all these years," Fury finally broke the silence after what felt like an eternity. "Because if things like this happen we can contain the situation better."

"I truly am sorry for all the problems I caused," I said sincerely. I really was. I always kept out of trouble and I hated to make any waves. This would have caused so many headaches for so many different people. "I have never lost control like that before."

"And what if it happened again? What do you suggest we do about that?" Fury asked. There was no malice or anger behind his tone. He was simply asking a very loaded question.

I had no answer for him. There wasn't even an answer to that question. I couldn't promise to lose control again because it was likely it'd happen one way or another. I couldn't control people or their actions. I may very well end up losing control again, this time in a more public place. What SHIELD would do about it was anybody's guess. My guess at the moment? I was going to end up in a cell being closely guarded for the rest of my life. That's what I heard happened to people in my situation.

Fury opened up a folder that was on his desk. It was inches thick and I knew it had my name on it. I could just see the terrible photo from my Air Force ID on the front page. Fury flicked through the pages casually, taking his time like he was perusing the entire file.

"You were the last of Air Force direct entry applicants, you aced every single test." Fury said calmly, stopping at one page. "Off the chart for all your aptitude tests. Accepted into flying F-22's straight out of fighter pilot school because of your competence. Something no one has achieved before."

A hot blush crept up my neck as Fury spoke. Even though it had taken four attempts to actually get into the Air Force, I had proved myself beyond anyone's expectations. I was glad I'd joined before the Air Force had completely wiped their direct entry programs. Otherwise, I would have only just finished college and be clawing my way through Officer Training and Flight school.

"Accepted into MIT and Caltech for Aerospace Engineering but you decided to go with the Air Force instead." Fury continued. "Volunteered for two tours overseas and did extended time away with them. Saw some live action missions while you were there. You did every weapon and combat course available to you, even though you're a pilot. You speak four languages, fluently. Sounds to me Miss Lyngley you were meant to be more than just a Raptor pilot."

I squirmed in my seat uncomfortably at my achievements being thrown at me. I was a bright student and a bit of an overachiever. I did everything I could get my hands on. The four languages spoken was thanks to my brother and mine's love for learning new languages while growing up.

"I heard a funny rumour about one of my top spies." Fury snapped the file shut with a dull thud. "That he has this crazy twin sister who made a SEAL instructor nearly cry with how good her accuracy was with shooting. But she'd rather sit her ass in a seat and fire missiles than put her skill to good use."

I tried not to let my scowl show on my face at the mention of that story. Thanks a lot, Jared. I was going to kill my twin for telling people that. The attention I'd gotten from that day on the shooting range was embarrassing. My shooting skills were mostly thanks to my being a nerd with physics and learning to shoot from a very young age.

"Only a skill from sitting in the back of a pick up barreling through a thousand acre paddock shooting rabbits," I said carefully, wondering where Director Fury was going with this.

"When you put that together with your combat flight experience and I'd say you would make a pretty exceptional field agent," Fury said, leaning on his desk as his one good eye bored into me. "And I'm always on the lookout for exceptional field agents. Especially ones where I could put them in, well, let's just say a unique place, something along the lines of being in a STRIKE team."

I blinked in surprise. I barely knew what STRIKE actually did beyond they were a clandestine special forces unit within SHIELD. According to my brother, most of them were dumb grunts with happy trigger fingers. Except for a few very special cases. It wasn't somewhere I could see my skill set being of any use.

"With all due respect Sir," I tried to protest but was swiftly cut off by Fury.

"You have two choices at the moment Lyngley," Fury said firmly. "You either take what I'm about to offer or you can spend the rest of your life being very closely watched in SHIELD custody. Which I can assure you isn't going to be fun for anyone involved."

I shut my mouth with an audible snap. That sounded like a living hell. All for something that wasn't really my fault. Life really sucked sometimes. I didn't have much of a choice in what was being presented to me. I tried not to let my shoulders slump in defeat. All those years of hard work were gone in an instant. My life was about to change in a very dramatic way.

"Can I at least know what the offer is?" I asked trying to keep my voice steady. Tears weren't going to help me here.

"The offer is you become a SHIELD agent for a year," Fury said simply. "That way we can keep an eye on you to make sure another incident doesn't happen. And SHIELD can gain a valuable asset. One year, that's all I'm asking for Lyngley and if you decide it's not for you, then you can continue on with your life like nothing happened. We can make this incident with the Air Force disappear and you'll get your old life back after the year in SHIELD."

I felt completely trapped. I didn't want anything to do with SHIELD, I never had. But the last thing I wanted was to disappear off the face of the Earth either. I knew what SHIELD was capable of. It wouldn't be hard to make me disappear. I'd heard enough from Jared that SHIELD had no problems scrubbing people out. I was only 23. I had a lot of years left in me. The offer of giving my life back to me after a year was a tempting one as well.

"A year?" I asked cautiously. A year wasn't that long in the grand scheme of things. Especially if I was able to walk back into my old life afterwards. By the time I went through training it's unlikely I'd even see any action. It might just be like being in Officer training all over again. Jared had spent over two years at the SHIELD Academy with Operations before he ever went into the field.

"A year," Fury confirmed. "This is a one time offer. The second you walk out that door the offer is off the table and you go straight to the Fridge for processing."

Fuck me. Fury didn't give me much of a chance to decide. My entire life was on the line and I was going to have to make a snap decision. It wasn't much of a decision to make though. I had essentially just been trapped into joining the one organisation I never wanted to be part of.

"I don't think it's much of a choice," I couldn't help the bitterness that crept into my voice. This was fucked beyond words. "I agree to join SHIELD for a year. I'd rather not go to the Fridge."

"I knew you were the smarter of the two siblings." Despite there being a joke in Fury's words, he said it with a straight face. I was too intimidated to let myself smile, despite knowing it was true. Mom said it about me all the time.

"Am I allowed to go back to Langley and pack my life up first?" I asked with a pang of sadness. I was going to miss my little apartment I had there. It wasn't much, but it was mine.

"We already have Agents packing up your apartment as we speak," Hill spoke up for the first time in the meeting. Like Fury, her expression hadn't changed at all. "We'll start your administration process right now and you can begin tomorrow. The sooner you start the better so you can be kept an eye on."

And where was I going to stay in the meantime? I'd spoken to Jared over the weekend but I didn't know where he was or what he was doing beyond that. I didn't even have my car with me. It was in getting repaired for what felt like the 100th time this year. I was planning on replacing it and getting the motorbike I always wanted. I'd been eyeing off a brand new Kawasaki Ninja for months now. I'd just procrastinated over making the actual decision whether to get it or not. I didn't even have my phone with me. I'd either left it at my apartment or dropped it somewhere along my mad dash to get home.

"You won't go through the usual training," Hill continued when I didn't speak. "You'll be given the abridged version of training and put straight into the field. I'm sure with your experience you'll be fine. You've got a month and then you'll be assigned to a team."

Holy shit. This was not what I was expecting. There goes my plans for the year nearly being taken up by training. All of a sudden being sent to the Fridge was almost sounding like a good idea instead. I was a pilot. Just because I'd done some combat missions didn't mean I was going to be any good in the field for SHIELD. My knowledge of hand to hand combat was limited to trying to smack the shit out of Jared when we roughhoused. At least I knew which way to point a gun. My nerves intensified thinking of what was about to be ahead of me.

"Jared has agreed to stay here in DC until you get assigned a team. Any arguments?" Hill asked.

At least there was one small blessing in all of this. I wouldn't be standing on the side of the road trying to find somewhere to live whenever I was finished today.

"None Ma'am," I said automatically, my military training kicking in. It was hard to stop myself snapping to attention. That was one habit I was going to have to break.

"Good, let's go," Hill stood up and without another word breezed out of the room. I fought back the heavy sigh I wanted to let out before glancing at Fury once more. I got to my feet trying to ignore the weight on my shoulders. My entire life had just changed in a second and I had no idea how I was going to deal with this.

"Kari." Fury voice stopped me mid-turn "I meant it when I said you could be a valuable asset to SHIELD."

"Thank you, Sir," I said softly. "I hope your faith in me isn't misplaced."

"It won't be," Fury said simply. "Dismissed."

I had to nearly run to catch up with Hill. She had barely waited for me before striding down the hallway. I ignored all the curious looks I was getting as I walked by her side along the more well-used corridors of SHIELD. The Triskelion was huge and a hive of activity. I knew this was where everything to do with Operations ran from. All of the administration and R&D ran out of New York, where my parents were based. It seemed to take forever until we finally came to another large office. Hill opened the door and motioned for me to get in.

"Sit," Hill commanded pointing to a chair. "And get comfortable because this will take most of the day."

I did as I commanded and restrained myself from giving Agent Hill any sass. Already sitting in front of me was a folder as thick as my arm. As I sat down I was surprised to see my cell on the table. At least someone had been thoughtful and grabbed it for me.

"Your phone has already been swept clean on anything to do with Saturday night. You're welcome to use it to call your parents or Jared, no one else." Hill firm command made this situation even more uncomfortable than it already was. "I'll send Jared in as soon as he arrives. You can get started on your paperwork."

I let out a breath and stared at the huge file in front of me. My eyes started to burn thinking about all the reading I was about to do. Hill left without another word, closing the door behind her. I opened up the folder and pulled out the first thick wad of documents. It was the biggest non disclosure agreement I'd ever seen in my life. I picked up the pen next to me and started to scan the first line of the document. A faint buzzing feeling made the hair on my arms stand up and I glanced up, knowing what was coming.

In front of the desk appeared a near identical male version of me. For the first time this morning, a resemblance of a smile came onto my face as my twin brother Jared appeared in front of me.

Jared was like me with different sets of powers. His strongest was that he could teleport. I couldn't even begin to explain how he did it. He could travel anywhere that he could see where he was going, or he knew the place already. It was incredibly handy in his line of work. His second was the exact opposite of mine. He could conjure fire. He hated doing it, so focused on using his teleporting skills to his full advantage. From the little I knew of his job, he was a valuable asset to SHIELD. Only 23, he was one of the top Specialists, as he referred to himself. I called him a Super Spy. A Specialist sounded like something he'd made up to make himself look cooler.

"Hey bro," I said quietly. I had no idea what else to say to him.

"Hey," Jared came around the desk and pulled me into a tight hug. I sighed and melted into my twin. If nothing else it was good to see him. He looked so good standing here in a suit, minus the tie with his jacket opened. His blonde hair not looking a strand out of place. Compared to the wreck I must look like, we couldn't be any more different right now.

When we pulled apart Jared glanced at the thick folder behind me and then back to me with a very forced smile.

"Fury finally nabbed you," Jared said with an unreadable expression on his face. "Fuck me, Kari, what happened out there?"

"Remember those two guys who were giving me a hard time?" I asked. I'd come up to DC weeks ago and spoke to Jared about this. He'd wanted to do something about it then but I was adamant I could take care of myself. Jared nodded in confirmation at my question, his jaw tightening in anger. "They slipped something in my beer and I lost control."

For the first time since this happened, I felt tears prick at my eyes. Everything I had worked so hard for in my old life was gone in the blink of an eye. All because those two idiots wanted to get into my pants. For what reason, no one would ever know now. I didn't even know what the story was being told to everyone else. For all, I knew I could officially be dead now.

"Your alive and that's all that counts," Jared sighed quietly and hugged me again. Hard. His grip was near bruising on my body. "Good riddance to two pieces of shit in the world. You did us all a favour by getting rid of them."

I shook my head and dropped my gaze down to my feet. I didn't want to dwell on that part at all. It was easy sitting in a pilot seat. If you fire a missile into something you never see the faces of people who are killed. It's almost easier to brush it off that way. Knowing I had killed two people with essentially my bare hands was more than a bit rattling.

"Kari, look at me," Jared said, his tone serious. When I didn't look at him, he gently tipped my chin back up so our eyes met. There wasn't a huge height difference between us so it was easy to look Jared in the eye. His face was full of concern as he searched my face.

"What happened wasn't your fault," Jared said firmly. "Those idiots had it coming. If they didn't do that to you it would have been someone else who couldn't defend themselves. They would have succeeded and ruined someone 's life in ways that no one's life should be ruined."

I had to hand it to Jared, his words did make me feel better. I would have never thought to think of it from that angle. Even though it felt like my life had been ruined, at least they hadn't accomplished that they set out to achieve. There was a small solace in that.

"I missed you," I said, changing the topic so I didn't dwell on it any longer. I couldn't bring myself to keep thinking about it all. "I hear you're going to be keeping an eye on me."

"Two eyes," Jared said with a small smile. "At all times, except when we sneak out to get trashed and laid unless you decided to get boring and find a boyfriend."

"Fuck no," I shook my head with a short laugh. Jared always knew how to make a shitty situation a bit better. "You know me, no luck in the whole relationship thing."

"Good," Jared moved so he was sitting on the edge of the desk. "This might even be fun. Let's see what bullshit Maria has you doing."

Fun. Not sure that was the right word for it. Jared picked on the folder and flicked through it, pulling a face as he did.

"Ugh, I'm glad you like reading, they're cramming everything here." Jared thumbed through a few more pages. "Blegh, STRIKE, tell Fury you want to be a Specialist and be a cool kid. Like me. It'll be fun."

"Or terrifying," I went to take the folder from Jared but he held it out of my reach.

"Depends who you get assigned to," Jared shrugged. "The only bright side to working with STRIKE is they're mostly ex-special forces. I know you like that type with their big muscles and follow orders type attitude"

I laughed softly at Jared as he handed me back the forms he had in his hand. He wasn't wrong there. That had been one fun factor about my overseas tour. A female fighter pilot was a rarity, especially one as young as me. I wasn't exactly unattractive so I managed to find the exact type of guys I liked.

"Better start signing your life away." Jared reached over and pulled a pen from somewhere on the desk. "At least it's only for a year."

"A year," I repeated. I was going to have to repeat that a lot through the next few months. This was going to be insane. I looked back at the non disclosure agreement in front of me. My eyes began burning again thinking about how much reading I was going to do over the next few hours.

The hours dragging by as I got through all my paperwork. I'd never been so relieved when I was allowed to leave Hill's office. She had stopped by several times to check on Jared and I. But never said anything to me. Jared had ducked out a few times for coffee and brought lunch back into the room. He hadn't said much throughout the day, leaving me in peace to read and fill out my forms. My watch told me it was 4pm by the time I was finally done with everything. With one final signature on my employment agreement, I threw the pen back on the desk. My phone had been silent all day meaning Mom was fully aware of the situation. She and Dad had been spending a weekend away somewhere, so I wasn't surprised they weren't able to be here in DC with all of this going on. Jared looked at me curiously as my fingers hovered above the screen, trying to put this off for as long as possible. He had been playing on his own phone. I took in a deep breath and hit my Mom's name, dreading this call. She picked up halfway through the first ring.

"Kari?", Mom's voice came over the phone, she sounded out of breath.

"Hi Mom," my voice shook in my greeting. "I'm sorry to make you worry."

"Don't worry about that, I'm just glad to hear from you." Mom sounded composed considering the circumstances. "Fury called and explained everything. I'm not sure I agree with this. Are you sure you want to do this?"

I felt a wave of dread wash over me. So much for thinking my parents were going to be furious. Here was Mom not really agreeing with the one organisation her and Dad practically ran their lives around. Out of all the people, I thought she'd be the happiest about me finally joining SHIELD.

"It's just a year," I repeated that phrase again. If I said it enough I'd believe it myself. "It'll fly by."

"I didn't like you in the Air Force," Mom's worry came through clearly in her tone. "And now Fury wants to throw you into a black ops type position. I can't say I'm thrilled about it."

I wasn't thrilled about it either. I didn't know the thought process Fury was having about placing so much trust in me. There were thousands of people who'd happily kill me to get to this position in my life. SHIELD's vetting process was insane. The Academy had higher rates of dropouts, more so than most special forces. It was an insane world behind these closed doors.

"It's fine Mom." My voice lacked conviction behind the words. Mom would be able to tell it too. "I'm staying with Jared until I get settled here."

"I know you are, please keep him out of trouble for a bit." Mom sounded like she wanted to say much more, but she switched tactics instead. "I heard on the grapevine he was a bit wild on his last mission, which is part of the reason he's still in DC."

"Oh?" I raised an eyebrow glancing at my twin. He raised an eyebrow back at me with a questioning look. Now I was SHIELD, all signed on the dotted line I wondered if he was going to tell me what happened. I barely knew what he did as it is.

"Yes, make sure he rings." Mom's tone made no room for argument.

"You're in trouble," I mouthed under my breath to my brother.

Jared shrugged and picked up a pen twirling it absently. That wasn't anything new, Jared was always the one getting into trouble when we were younger. It seems it had just carried over to his working life now.

"I have to go, I still have work to do." Mom sounded very conflicted still. "Please ring me tomorrow night and let me know how you settle in. If you need anything, I can be down there in a few hours."

"I will Mom. I'll be fine, I swear. I love you," I said quietly feeling my heart sink a little. This was going to be rough for the next few days. Jared and I were pretty volatile if we had to spend a lot of time together. I hated to think how we were going to be not only living together but also working together. Jared wouldn't be very happy about being cooped up holding my hand.

"I love you too, don't kill each other. Please," Mom said with a small sight. "Let me know if you need anything."

Without waiting for my reply, Mom hung up. I wondered if she was going to ring Fury and yell at him on my behalf. She really didn't sound happy about the situation. I looked at the now blank screen on my phone and suddenly wished my powers were to turn back time. They weren't so I put my head down and quickly checked all my paperwork was actually done this time. Jared took the hint and disappeared to get Hill. She didn't even check the paperwork was done properly. She picked up the folder and gave me a crisp dismissal. It took all my self control not to run from the room.

Once I was free from the Triskelion, Jared drove us back to his apartment. I was silent the entire time despite Jared's attempts to make small talk. It was strange watching him drive. I didn't even know he actually owned a car. Especially not a nice one. The sleek red RX8 was nearly brand new and barely driven in. It still had the new car smell to it.

Jared's apartment was only 15 minutes away, even in the shitty late afternoon DC traffic. It was a very nice, modern building with a secure car park and pin coded entry. I hated to think what his rent was like.

"Let's go and get you settled in." Jared parked the car and jumped out to open the door for me. If nothing else, manners that had been drilled into him when he was younger still worked. "All your stuff has been dropped off. You already know the bed in the spare bedroom but if you hate it we can go buy a new one. Same with the furniture. Treat it like your own place."

"I've slept in it before Jared, its fine," I quickly assured my twin. He looked as uncertain about this as I was feeling. Taking the elevator to the fifth floor, we both stepped out into the smallish hallway. There were only four apartments on this floor including Jared's apartment.

"So, it's mostly SHIELD agents in this building," Jared explained as he went to the door closest to the elevator. "I've never met anyone else who lives on this floor. I occasionally hear people coming home but other than that it's really quiet here all the time. No crazy cat ladies, no wild neighbours. You'll enjoy the peace and quiet I think."

I half smiled at Jared's statement. At my old place, my floor was shared with both of those things. Though I actually liked Mrs Jackson, the crazy cat lady. She was a pastry chef in her younger years and enjoyed dropping me off random baskets of muffins and pastries. Or I'd stop in for a coffee when I was feeling lonely. Which was a lot more often then I'd ever admit to Jared. I didn't have any close friends at work, not ones I'd invite over on a whim anyway. The guys at work were all polite to me and I was included in Squardon activites. But no one was inviting me over for a beer for the hell of it. My relationships tended to be casual and always short lived. I'd feed Mrs Jackson's cats if she went to visit her grandchildren and help her do odd jobs around her apartment. My other neighbours were a few people my age who seemed to throw wild parties every single Friday and Saturday nights. No matter how many times they had been warned and had the police called on them they still did it. How they ever got away with it I will never know. Plus they liked to have very loud arguments after a few drinks. I knew all about their lives from listening to them scream at each other. The resulting make up sex after their arguments weren't any less loud than the arguing either.

"And here's home sweet home." Jared unlocked the door and stood back waiting for me to enter.

I'd been here quite a few times, so at least I knew my way around the apartment. It was spacious with a simple layout. A small hallway led down to an open kitchen and lounge room. The spare room was down another small hallway to the right, bathroom in the middle and Jared's room to the left.

"I'll let you get unpacked." Jared still looked uncertain as he stood in the lounge room fiddling with his keys. "There's a really good pizza place not far from here if that's okay for dinner?"

"Sure." I gave Jared a half hearted smile. "You know what I like."

Jared gave me a reassuring smile before teleporting away, leaving me alone in the apartment. I walked to the spare room and opened the door. There were boxes neatly stacked in the corner, all labelled with the different rooms they came from. It was sad seeing everything I owned stacked into those six boxes and two suitcases. My furniture had come with the old apartment so it stayed there. I walked to the first box which was labelled bedroom. Opening it, the first thing in there was my photos. All wrapped up in bubble wrap. Of course on top, there was my graduation photo from Pilot training. I sat on the floor with a thump and finally let the tears that had been threatening all day spill over.

A year. It was just a year. I had to keep telling myself that otherwise, I'd never make it through.

Updated Authors Note- May 27th, 2018.

So, I began writing this back in 2014. A lot has changed since then from the original story I had planned. This has grown beyond all of my dreams and expectations. I decided to go back and edit the story to clean it up. My writing has progressed a lot over the years so I wanted the story to mirror that change. Over the next few months, I'll be going through and cleaning up SPAG, doing some very minor editing of the storyline, mostly to tighten up things that were written originally. With how the story has naturally progressed, a few things needed to be done better. I'll be making a note at the bottom of each chapter as I go along to show where the edits are up to. It'll be a slow process, I doubt I'll get it done before the year is out.

So if you're a new reader, welcome! If you're an old reader doing a re-read, I hope you enjoy the little changes that have been made to the story.