In the Family Way
Insert all necessary disclaimers as I own nothing.
This story is supposed to take place mid season 1 before Skye is shot and everything with Hydra begins.
Coulson could not believe that this was happening. How in the world was he going to explain to Director Fury that almost his entire team were now literally children? Why did all of the really weird things always have to happen when an '0-8-4' became involved. After this, if he ever saw one again in his life time it would still be too soon.
"Mr. Phil Sir? I can't get Skye to stop crying. Even with her hula dancing doll and I think Jemma needs to use the bathroom." A very young Grant Ward walked into the command center not a moment latter. Grant, who now looked to be no older then seven years old had been minding the other children in the lounge while Phil had taken a moment to think about what they could do to fix the situation they now found themselves in.
"Not a problem Grant," Phil could only hope that it was not related to Skye needing yet another dipper change as at this rate they were going, they would be quickly run out of clean towels to use as impromptu nappies. "May I need an ETA on our closest safe harbor?" Phil asked activating the coms unit in his ear.
"Starks privet air strip is the only thing close and that is still about an hour off. Do you need help with the kids?" May was up in the cock pit trying to get the Bus to somewhere safe enough to land. After the '0-8-4' had nearly fried all of the guidance systems when it had gone off they had experienced a dramatic drop in altitude that now required Agent May to manually pilot the plain.
"No between Grant and I, I'm sure we have it covered." Phil stated giving the young man a smile. "We just need to get this bird on the ground and then I will be that much happier. If you could contact Stark and let him know we are going to be stopping buy. And maybe ask him to grab some dippers for Skye."
"On it." And with that the coms between the two Agents closed.
"Now let's go see what's wrong with our little princesses shall we," Phil gave Grant what he hoped was his most positive smile before they walked back into the lounge to check on the other three miniaturized Agents.
"Miss. Potts, I have an Agent Malinda May from S.H.E.I.L.D. on line one for you. She says its rather urgent." Peppers personal assistant Francis Millner informed her over their inter office coms.
"Thank you Francis." Pepper could only image what May could need that was so urgent. Pepper recalled meeting the rather respectable Asian Agent while at the funeral for their mutually departed friend Phil Coulson. Since the meeting both women had kept in contact until May had been reassigned to a new team assignment some months before. "Mal, Pepper hear. What can I do for you?"
"Hay Pep, sorry to call like this but I need some help. My team and I are in a busted bird headed towards Tony's privet New York air strip and need a safe harbor as it were." In the back ground Pepper could hear the emergency beeping of what sounded like an air plain system. "Ah Shit! Just a second," Pepper was already pulling up the contact info for the air strip in question to let them know of the situation that was coming their way. Pepper really became concerned when she could hear Malinda whispering encouragement to the inanimate object to level out. "I got it leveled for now Phil. We just lost the stabilizer in engine two. I'm on the line with Pepper as we speak. I know I can hear the kids crying all the way up hear. Just keep them all buckled in, in case we need to do an E landing. But Phil keep Skye in your lap. She's much to small to sit on her own." Pepper wondered who it was that Malinda was talking to as she could literally hear over the line that something was mechanically seriously wrong with the air plain that the other woman was trying to land. "Pepper I don't suppose that you could get Tony, Brody and say Thor to give us a hand in landing this thing. It's one of Tony's early model mobile command plains and as I'm sure you could hear she's dyeing in the air."
"Not to worry Mal, I just messaged Tony and he says he's on his way. You should see him and some of the team coming your way in five to ten minutes." Pepper only hoped that Malinda could keep her dying transport in the air long enough for Tony and his team to get to them.
"Hay Pepper could you also have someone at the air strip pick up a small pack of diapering essentials for an 18 month old?"
"Long story, but ya for an 18 month old. And Pepper I know you heard me talking to Phil," May was not sure how to deliver this bit of news to her friend with out hurting the other woman's feelings. "It's Coulson. He's alive. Which is also a long story." And with that the line between the two women disconnected.
Pepper just stared at her phone in shock as Malinda Mays final statement started to sink in.
Tony Stark had only met Agent Malinda May once before but even from just that one introduction he had decided that he really liked the quiet and emotionally guarded woman. She had displayed the same kind of quiet and calmed control that he had seen in Agents Romanoff and Hill. He suspected that all three women were all as equally capable as they were deadly. So when Pepper had messaged him to let him know that May had needed his and some of the teams help in landing the air plain that she was in the process of trying not to crash his private New York air strip, he didn't need any other details as he jumped right in to his Iron Man suit and flew off to aid a friend.
"Sir. I have Miss Potts on the line. Shall I put her threw?" Jarvis asked in his ear while Tony was in mid flight.
"Go for it." Tony waited the two seconds for the click to indicate that the lines had been established between his suit and Peppers office phone. "Pepper what's up?"
"According to your air tower Malinda's plain is about 40 minutes away hovering at about 3500 feet on a north by north west heading. But Tony you need to be careful, she flying one of your early model command center plains and while I had her on the line she said that she lost the stabilizer in engine two. Also from the sounds of it she has children on board."
"Just what we need. Mechanical problems and tatter tots." Tony was less wary around kids then he had been before the Mandarin but still didn't like to have to equate them into any emergency situations like he was having to do now.
"One more thing Tony, Phil Coulson is alive and on that plain."
"I know. All Malinda would say was that it was a long story. One I fully expect to hear, so make sure that plain doesn't crash."
By the time the Bus was on the ground Phil could tell that they had lost more then just the two engine stabilizers and the landing gear. However, his biggest concern was the four young and scared faces that were looking at him all with tears in their eyes or running down their faces. "See I told you May would land the plain, no problem." He tried sounding as calm and assured as possible. Slowly he started to unbuckle the children as May came into the lounge. Nether one said anything to the other but Phil could see the stress building inside the other senior Agent. "Alright everyone now lets calmly go down to the hanger bay so that we can get off this plain." Before something else explodes he thought. May took Jemma and Leo's hands and guided them down to the exit while Grant fallowed behind her and Phil took up the rear while still carrying Skye in his arms.
Skye had fist ted her chubby little hands into his dress shirt to the point that he feared she might actually tear it with how afraid she had become on the plains dissent. As it was he was unsure if even dry cleaning would be able to get out the tears and snot stains that were sure to be present on his chest because of his youngest Agent as she had berried her head into his chest when the second of the engine stabilizers had blown, causing them to loose altitude for the third time in under two hours.
With the ramp in the cargo bay lowered Coulson found that they had an arrival committee waiting for them in the bay before they could disembark.
"Is everyone all right in hear?" Brody asked after lifting the face shield of his War Machine armor.
"PHIL SON OF COUL?! BY ODIN! HOW ARE YOU ALIVE?!" Thor's voice boomed about the small hanger bay.
"It's a long story." Phil said looking rather sheepish that they had found out this way.
"So I hear." Came Tony's retort before a member of his air strip staff came onto the plain with the requested diapering supplies that they had asked Pepper for. "Pepper and I expect a lengthy explanation by the way."
"Yes I will but first." Phil grabbed the diapering supplies and disappeared down the hall passed the lab and into one of the washrooms so that he could deal with Skye before they left the plain.
"Do I want to know why you and Phil had this many young children with you on this flight?" Tony asked as he looked over the two that were standing very close to May's legs, and then at the young boy that was trying unsuccessfully to not stare at the massive Asgardian.
"We had an incident with an '0-8-4' or object of unknown origin, believe it or not these children are actually members of our team. We believe that when Agents Fitz," May indicated to the young male toddler on her right. "and Simmons," again indicating to the toddler on her left. "Were examining the object it must have activated it. The resulting energy burst not only severally damaged the on board computer systems it also seams to have affected any of the crew that were on this level of the plain by severally De-aging them, hence why Ward," she indicated to the young boy. "and Skye," May pointed in the direction that Coulson had gone with the youngest of their crew. "were both affected as well as they were in the process of putting gear from the retrieval operation of the pre mentioned '0-8-4' away down hear."
"Might I see this device. I believe I may know of whence it came." Thor asked making an effort to keep his voice down as even he had been surprised at how well his voice had carried with in the hanger.
May directed Ward to watch over FitzSimmions while she took Thor into the lab and pointed towards a tall slender metallic statue that was on the floor under one of the science station desks. "Unless you have a safe way of picking it up I would suggest leaving it wear it is." May warned the Asgardian.
"Worry not fair lady," Thor told her as he rapped the edge of his cape around the device. "The material of our armor is quite capable of dampening the effects of many harmful devices and substances." After a moment with which to examine the object now safely rapped with in his cape Thor looked over at the other members of his team. "I believe this device is Kree in nature. As to how it came to be on your planet I am unsure. If you may permit I would like to take it with me so that I might get my fathers counsel of what might be done to help your people return to their normal state."
"I think that may be for the best Thor." Coulson stated having caught the tail end of his explanation about the device that they had been sent to retrieve. "As for us if we could get a ride to you place Tony. I believe you said something about Pepper needing an explanation as to my being alive. That and I know the kids are probably getting hungry."
"Be prepared for more yelling Phil, as I know Barton and Romanoff just got back to the tower after finishing something for Fury." Tony warned the older agent. Phil cringed as he anticipated the reception that was coming when he made it back to the Avengers tower. Of all the people that Phil had hatted lying to about his being alive the most, Barton and Romanoff had been the worst as he had known them the longest.
"Well let's get this over with. May as well 'face the music' as it were. Not like waiting is going to make it any easier." When the team had all gotten outside Phil turned to look at the Bus, which were in some places still smoking from the fires that they had put out. "You know I don't think Fury is going to give us another one after this." Coulson said looking at Agent May.
"Lets worry about getting our team back to normal before we worry about getting the Bus back." And with that May pilled into the limo that Tony had called to transport them all back to the tower.
When everyone had returned to the Avengers tower Tony thought it best if they all met in the main lounge so that they could conference with Director Fury and Agent Hill so as to save from having to explain the situation too many times. After stepping off the elevator with May and the kids, Coulson saw that they had quite the crowd gathered. Standing by the Kitchen bar were Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff. On one of the two long couches Dr. Jane Foster and her assistant Darcy Lewis sat, with Pepper Pots and Dr. Bruce Banner on the other. While Steve Rogers had taken over the recliner. The first ones to approach Coulson were Barton and Romanoff. With out warning Romanoff slapped Coulson across the face.
"That's for laying to us about being dead." Then Barton grabbed the man into a rib bruising hug.
"And that's for still being alive."
"Thanks Clint. I promise not to make a habit out of dyeing." Turning to the other members of the team he could see that Pepper was dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief. "it is wonderful to see you all again and I promise if it had been up to me I never would have deceived you all about my still being alive."
"Let me guess that has something to do with a one eyed pirate." Tony asked and grumbled when Coulson and May nodded in affirmation of his statement. "Figures. And you all wonder why I have a hard time trusting that man."
"So ah is it just me or is anyone else wondering about the kids?" Darcy voiced.
"These kids, as you are referring to them are actually my team who have some how been de-aged about twenty-two maybe twenty-three years each." Coulson quickly introduced the kids to the new group. With Grant looking about seven while Leo and Jemma looked about three or four and Skye resembling a child between 18 – 24 months old, it would stand to reason that the device that did this had done it equally to them all. "As to how that happened is a complicated question as we ourselves are not even really sure what happened in regards to them. Thor thinks he knows the tech that did this." Coulson knew that some major testing would have to be done on each of the children themselves just to see how extensive the changes had been. "I need to talk to Fury before any tests for them are done but I think the most immediate concern would be to get them all something more size appropriate to wear and food to eat as we have already missed lunch, and I am certain that if my guess about Skye's new age is correct then she is likely to need a nap soon." Everyone could not help but smile at the toddler who was quickly falling asleep in May's arms. If they had not known any better, they would have thought for sure that Skye was May's biological daughter with how close they were acting with one another.
"I will arrange for all of there clothing and sleeping needs and have all of that sent to the guest suite down stairs for you." Pepper informed them as she walked off already on the phone with her personal assistant.
"And Clint and I will start on lunch." Natasha told the others as they walked into the kitchen so they could begin that.
"Steve and Darcy if you could mind the children while May and I report to Fury about what has happened." Coulson asked thinking it was best not to avoid that conversation any longer.
"Sure thing man. I spent many a Saturday after noon in my youth babysitting all the neighborhood rug rats. These guys look down right easy in comparison to them. One Disney movie latter and presto quiet time abounds." Darcy said with as much flourish as Coulson remembered the young woman having. Steve just chuckled at her antics. "Now lady's and gents have any of you seen the movie 'Lilo and Stitch'? No?!" Darcy asked with a gasp when they shook their heads. "Well, that is just horrible and we must fix it right now."
"I will return before days' end. I must speak with the All father about this device. I can tell for certain that it is Kree in origin but as to the purpose of its true nature, I am unaware." Thor and Jane went out to the balcony were they could have a private moment before the Bifrost was opened right there on the balcony it self.
"That must make things more convenient for all of you." Coulson thought out loud.
"Sure, now that I reinforced the balcony with Osmium alloy so that the Bifrost beam would not cut threw layers of the tower. You should have seen what happened to the top three floors of the tower before the Osmium." Tony commented as he directed Coulson and May to a more private corner so that they could conference with Fury.
Forty-five minutes' latter Coulson had finished giving Fury his throw re accounting of both the mission to retrieve the Kree '0-8-4' and the fallowing de aging of his agents that had resulted in the Bus coming in for a hot landing on Stark's New York air strip. Surprisingly enough nether Fury or Hill whom was also privy to the report had made any comments about the events until Coulson was finished his assessment of them. "Once again Sir I would like to apologies for the state with which we had to leave the Bus in."
"Coulson I don't give a dam about the stupid plain. What I care about is that one of my best alien artifact retrieval teams seam to have turned themselves into babies and are not likely to be turned back as the two people I would put on the case of figuring out hoe to do that, are now in training pants again."
"Hopefully it is only temporary sir. Thor has taken the device to Asgard so that he can see if his father doesn't know more about it and how to reverse the affects of the device."
"I hope for your sake that's possible as I would hate to have to wait twenty some years just to get your team up and running again. For the time being however until Thor returns I think staying at the Avengers tower would be the best thing for you and your people. I am taking you all off of the active duties list until this is resolved."
"Thank you Sir."
"Don't thank me. You're the one dealing with diapers and potty training right now." And with the chuckle that Hill was trying to hide at the almost terrified look on Coulson's face, they hung up the line.
"It can't be that bad, right?" Coulson looked to May for guidance in this.
"Wouldn't know I've never tried to potty train someone before."
After lunch and the movie were done Pepper, Darcy, Jane, Malinda and Phil all want down to the Guest suite where they would all be staying. They had put Skye and Jemma in one of the rooms that as far as Phil could tell was nothing but Disney Princesses. Grant and Leo had taken the other room that had thankfully been done up in a jungle animals theme. The third room had two single beds for May and Coulson to share the room. Once they were able to figure out the children's clothing, as Pepper had arranged for varying sizes for them since they were not exactly sure what sizes the kids were in at present, they made their way down to the lab so that Dr. Banner could give each of them a physical exam so that they could determine just how old each of the children were now.
Dr. Banner was able to get the most useful information out of Grant purely because of his age and ability to answer all of the doctors' questions. "So have been able to determine that each of them has been De-aged exactly twenty-three years. Grant Ward born Jan 7 1983 age 30 years is now 7 years old. Jemma Simmons born Sep 11 1986 age 26.4 years is now 3.4 years old. Leopold Fitz born Dec 29 1986 age 26 years is now 3 years old. And Mary Sue Poots chosen name Skye assumed born on July 1 1989, which I can grantee was actually born in 1988 would have been 24.5 years old is now 18 months old. If we also go off of what Grant has told me and what little Jemma and Leo can confirm, they don't seam to remember anything concrete about their past lives. This may in part be dew to their ages or the fact that the device that did this to them was not meant to be used on humans but other then basic skills such as language, rudimentary physical skills such as walking, standing, or throwing a ball, they don't seam to exhibit any of the more complex abilities that their older selves once had. That is not to say that they don't still have that knowledge but at this time there is little to no way of testing for those skills. At least not that I know of. Other then that unless Thor and his people know of a way to change them back I would say that what they need most now is a safe and loving environment with which they can grow up again and once more become the productive members of society that we already know they will be."
"So what your saying is that if we can't change them back then they are all going to have to grow up again as they don't really even remember their past selves." May would never say it out lowed but she was starting to become close to all of the members of her team and it would be quite upsetting to have to give them all up so that they could grow up again. It would also mean that both Grant and Skye would have to go into the foster system in hopes they might be adopted. And who was to say that they would turn out as well the second time around as they had the first. As it stood it was hard to say if Jemma and Leo's parents would even feel comfortable re raising their children all over again. May was not sure of the situation with Fitz and his mother but she knew for a fact that Jemma's parents had not been young the first time that they had raised her and now they were well into their retirement years.
"Coulson they would all end up in the system if we can't re age them."
"I know. But its not like we could just keep them ourselves."
"How about you let me look into some options for you while we wait and see what Thor might have." Pepper tried to lighten the mood and re directed everyone back upstairs to the common lounge so they could see if their catered dinner had arrived.
After Jane had informed all of the others that Thor would be delayed in returning with answers because of the strangeness of the artifact that he had taken with him, the others had tried to settle into a relaxed routine with the kids. It was determined right off the go that Skye had attached herself to both May and Coulson having called them both mama and dada respectively over the three days that they had to wait for Thor's return. Skye seamed to enjoy running everywhere and getting into all of the cupboards in the kitchenette that she could reach both in their guest suite and in the main common lounge. Jemma had attached herself to Jane and Darcy as she fallowed them around and laughed at all of the stories that they told her. Leo had surprisingly won over Tony with his love of rocket ships and when Tony was told that Leo's older self was literally a rocket scientist Tony had taken the young boy under his wing and had started teaching Leo what he knew. The most shocking but unsurprising connection however had come when Grant had started spending every wakening moment with Natasha and Clint down in the training room that Tony had built for the team to use.
After watching one of the training sections between the young man and the two Agents, Coulson began to wonder if the children did indeed remember more about their past lives then Dr. Banner had originally thought. The speed with which Grant picked up the basics in hand to hand combat gave suggestion that even if his mind could not remember knowing the moves, Grant's body did. It made Coulson wonder if in fact all of the children would just end up repeating their past lives again but with the added advantage of the knowledge already being with in them.
Coulson had been sitting in the lounge of the guest suite reading a book while Skye was down for her afternoon nap on the fourth day since they had arrived at the tower when Jarvis informed him of Thor's return. After slowly waking Skye and getting her changed he took the lift up to the common lounge. Slowly the Avengers that had been helping to look after the other children started to arrive with them in toe. The common lounge began filling up fast and to save space the toddlers had taken spots on the laps of their favorites. Clint, Natasha and Grant were the last to enter as they had been down in the gym again working on Grants bow training that Clint had started him on the day before.
"I apologize my friends for taking so long in returning with answers to the situation that your team finds themselves in. I have spoken with the All Father and he has had our greatest soothsayers looking for any references to the artifact that your team found. It is a relic from a distant past that we had thought never to see again. It was originally created by the Kree, a fierce and war ravaged people to give 'new life' to their greatest warriors after they had passed into their final years as a way of allowing them to reclaim their abilities of youth and so serve their people renewed and with the vigor of younger body's."
"So what your saying is that this this was supposed to give veteran warriors the chance to be young again so they could fight once more in their peoples' wars." Banner asked for clarification.
"Precisely. Once we determined the purpose behind the device I had our healers inspect the artifact to determine if its affects could be reverse." With out even having to say anything Coulson could see written clearly on Thor's face what the out come had been. "I am very sorry for you Phil son of Coul but there is no way to revers what has been done."
"If you can't fix me, does that mean that I have to go away now?" Grant surprised everyone present with his question. This caused all of the adults to look around at each other as if looking for an answer that was not easy to find.
"Oh honey, no. We would never send you away." Pepper tried to console the young man.
"Actually Grant, Clint and I already talked about this and if it were determined that we could not change you back we thought that perhaps you might like to stay with us. Permanently." Natasha crouched down in front of the young man. Coulson was paying all of his attention to the three Agents by the kitchen island that he missed all of the murmuring coming from the others in the room.
"Really, like forever?"
"Yes like forever."
"YES oh yes pleas." Grant excitedly threw himself into Natasha's arms, hugging her so fiercely that if not for Clint standing behind her she would have fallen over.
"If that's the case then I would like to have Jemma stay with me." Jane told the group with a smile.
"I think you mean us, right as I'm the one that spends most of my time looking after you because you forget to look after you." Darcy ribbed at her best friend.
"Hey Pepper does that mean I can keep my money?" Tony piped up from the couch where he had Leo sitting on his lap, who gave his best three-year-old monkey squeak.
"Tony he's a child not a toy. If you adopt him then its permanent." Pepper's statement caused all of the adults to pause, realizing just how serious the situation had become. In bringing Coulson's team into their lives it was going to permanently change the team's dynamic into that of an extended family.
"What do you think Money? You want to live with me?" Tony asked the three-year-old red head on his lap.
"Eek eek" Leo responded while nodding his head.
"Well then, what do you say May. You up to co parenting with me?" Coulson asked indicating Skye who was sitting half on his lap and half on May's.
"Haven't we already been doing that for months now with this lot?" May asked giving Coulson a pointed look which just caused the team to start laughing at them.
In story word count: 5270
I would like to apologies if any of this chapter feels redundant at all but with how many times May and Coulson have to explain just what has happened to them it was inevitable.
Pleas let me know what you think and Review.