What Is Revealed
Title: What is Revealed
Disclaimer: We don't own anything belonging to MARVEL and we're not making any money from this fic
Summary: 51st in the Redeeming Grant series.
Authors: Hope1iz and BlackFox12
Warning(s): Spanking, including that of a super-powered teenager; violence; spoilers for the whole of the MCU; AU
It had been three days since the vaccine had been administered. It felt like the longest three days of Bruce's life. Normally, the kids were at least reasonable, even if they argued or disagreed with their parents (and, to be honest, that seldom happened). He'd figured the vaccine would be administered, there might be a few growing pains, but overall, the children would be back to their rightful ages and there would be no fuss about it. He hadn't counted on years worth of teenage, hormone induced angst occurring all at once. He really should have counted on it and warned the others. He shot his uncle an apologetic look as his cousins began arguing again.
"Why are you wearing my t-shirt?! That's my favorite shirt! YOU'LL STRETCH IT OUT!" Bobbi screeched at Gamora, screeching being a kind word for what she was actually doing to their eardrums.
Gamora continued sharpening her sword at the kitchen table, seemingly ignoring the younger woman.
Coulson moved over to Bobbi and gently squeezed her shoulder. "Relax, sweetie. Let it go," he said softly, his tone calm to try and encourage her to calm down.
"But it's MY shirt!" Bobbi whined and stomped her foot before growling and stomping out of the dining area.
Nebula had been watching the entire exchange and raised an eyebrow. Even if no one else could see, she knew that Gamora had been paying rapt attention to Bobbi's behavior and was amused by it. She also knew that Gamora had deliberately 'borrowed' the shirt just so she could get a rise out of the girl. Bobbi had annoyed her the night before, pestering her about training with swords and wouldn't take 'not now, when you are grown again' as an answer. At least not until their father had put his foot down and agreed with Gamora. Bobbi hadn't taken her father agreeing with Gamora well at all, if the fact Gamora's sheets had been 'shortened' was anything to go by.
"Um..." Grant watched his sister storm out, before shooting Gamora a dirty look for upsetting her and running out after her. "Bobbi! Wait for me!" he yelled.
"What is it with everyone below the age of twenty-one yelling all the time?" Stephen asked rhetorically, rubbing his eyes. He'd stayed up late going over bloodwork that had been taken the night before, making certain there were no side effects occurring.
Coulson sighed as he watched Bobbi and Grant head out of the room, then glanced towards Stephen. It was Natasha who commented, wryly, "Tempers and hormones are running high right now..."
"Obviously..." Stephen remarked, with a hint of his usual snark; though he didn't mean to sound that way, as he wasn't attempting to make anyone feel foolish. He was just too tired to curb his normal attitude. He folded his arms on the table and then dropped his head onto them, letting his eyes close.
Quil grinned at the sorcerer, then glanced at his two fathers to see what they were doing. He was bored. And it had been a long time since he'd been small enough to sneak into some places. He was thinking a quick trip to town to sneak into the movie theatre might be fun. But he needed to do it when they weren't watching.
Yondu was looking at the food that had been prepared for breakfast. "Half of this don't look edible," he muttered, poking at something with his fork like it would spring to life and bite him.
"It takes time to get used to, but most of the food is good," Drax stated.
Peter glanced at his father's plate, noticing that he had vegetables mixed up with his eggs. "Eeeeeew! Why'd you go and put spinach in it!" he fake gagged, even as he stabbed his fork into one of Yondu's potatoes and stuck it in his mouth after dunking and covering it completely in catsup.
"Having vegetables will not kill you," Drax said calmly, transferring some of said vegetables to Peter's plate.
"And they'll help you grow up big and strong. Again," Yondu added, playfully nudging Peter.
"Uuuuugh, Poppa!" Peter whined playfully. "...Daddy...! Can't I just have more potatoes? With catsup? It's got tomato in it!"
Gamora snorted and rolled her eyes at Peter's antics before carefully sheathing her sword and standing. "I will go change into one of my shirts and put this one into the laundry, since it so obviously distresses Bobbi..." she said regally, as if she was bestowing a great favor upon her sister instead of just ending her teasing of the girl.
Nebula shook her head and speared a piece of the spinach, eyeing it critically. "Are you certain this is not poisonous? It looks very much like a poisonous plant I've seen on Knowhere..."
Steve headed into the dining area, in time to hear Nebula's question. "It's not poisonous...and is actually good for people to eat," he commented. "But it tends to be an acquired taste, so you might not like it at first."
"I will take your word for it, sir..." she said trustingly; which for Nebula was a big deal, as she didn't trust easily, and speared a bit of the spinach before sticking it into her mouth. Her nose wrinkled a tiny bit as the flavor coated her tongue, then she carefully chewed and swallowed. "It is good. Stop complaining, Peter and eat your vegetables..." she told her cousin imperiously, before taking another bite of the spinach.
Peter's mouth dropped open and he did in fact stop whining; mostly because he couldn't figure out if Nebula was teasing him or not and, having not expected it, wasn't sure how to react.
Other members of the family began to filter into the room, taking seats around the table that had been widened yet again to fit in everyone; not to mention providing chairs with increased strength for those like Colossus, who would break most of them under his weight.
Pepper glanced around at all the people and grinned. "As soon as everyone is back to normal... we're having the wedding!" she blurted. "I don't care what day of the week it is; everyone I love is in this building right now and the few who aren't can make it quickly. I don't want to wait one more day!" she declared, to Tony and everyone nearby.
Steve smiled warmly at Pepper and Tony. "I'm happy to hear that. It's really been a long time coming," he said, happy for his son and daughter.
Harry and Peter were beginning to age up a fraction more noticeably, but they still sat with the actual physical children, both still more in the younger mindset than their real ages. Harry did glance at the door a few times, having noticed his brother had yet to join them. After about a minute, he clambered down from his chair, intending to go and fetch Werner.
Tony noticed Harry climbing down. "Where you going, Scamp?" he asked, with a smile, as he stood and walked to his youngest, picking him up and giving him a hug.
"To get Werner," Harry replied, wrapping his arms around his father and snuggling close unabashedly, still enough in the child mindset to feel comfortable in hugging and letting himself be hugged.
"Tell you what...why don't you finish your breakfast; you need it so your body can continue growing without using up resources it shouldn't be..." Tony snuggled Harry back, walking with the child to the abandoned chair. "...And I'll go find your brother and bring him in. He needs to eat as well. Besides which, I think we can probably get a little help from Friday in finding him." He smiled at his son, kissing the top of his head before carefully putting him back in his chair in front of his breakfast.
Harry sighed, but didn't argue or protest being set down in front of his breakfast, picking up his cutlery and beginning to eat.
Tony did as promised and went in search of his other son. As he was walking, he could hear Bucky's stern admonishment. "I know darn well your father wouldn't give you permission to skip breakfast, so just turn yourself right around and get your butt to the table..."
Werner had intended to go for breakfast, he really had; but he'd had some messages from people he used to know...who had known him and his biological father. And, somehow, those comments had spoiled the sense of peace he'd gained and he was sitting in his room, staring at his laptop, and wondering himself if he really belonged.
Tony had indeed asked Friday where to find his son. Soon, he was knocking on Werner's door. "Hey, Champ? Can I come in?" he called through the door.
Surprised, Werner glanced up at the door before responding, a bit hesitantly, "Yeah, sure..."
Tony carefully opened the door and stepped into the room before quietly closing it agajn. He walked over to where Werner sat and sat next to him. "You feeling okay, kid?" he asked, worried. "You're being missed at breakfast..." he added.
"I just..." Werner hesitated, before admitting, "A few of...some old contacts, not mine, got in contact with me." He swallowed and looked at his laptop. "I don't think I'm ever going to be free..." he whispered.
Tony's protective instinct flared and he wrapped an arm around the younger man. "Did they threaten you?" The tone of his voice indicated they better not have, or Iron Man would be hunting them down and showing them the error of their ways.
Werner couldn't help but lean into Tony, even though a big part of him thought he'd be seen as weak for doing so. "Not outright," he admitted quietly...which he suspected was only because the people had no idea where he'd ended up.
"A threat is a threat, veiled or otherwise. And those that are veiled are worse in a way..." Tony said, hugging his son closer and kissing the top of his head. "You have names you can give me? So I know who to look for?" No one threatened his family and got away with it.
"I can let you have the e-mails. I don't know any of them personally," Werner replied quietly, tentatively wrapping his arms around Tony and letting himself cuddle.
"That will be enough with Friday and Veronica to help..." Tony's grin was shark-like. He kept holding onto Werner, wanting his son to know he'd do everything in his power to protect him. "You think you'll feel up to eating? Your little brother was worried. I had to stop him from leaving his own food to come hunt for you..." He smiled crookedly.
Werner winced at that. "I didn't mean to worry him. I'll come and join you all for breakfast," he said.
"I know you didn't, champ. That's what family who love each other does. They worry about each other." Tony sounded faintly amused. He hugged Werner again, kissing his forehead, then stood. "C'mon. I didn't eat either and if I don't return and eat my own food, your grandpa will be hunting me down..."
Werner nodded and stood up, biting his lip before blurting, "I wish I didn't have his name attached to me. Maybe I could just lose the last name altogether..."
Tony paused, slanting his head thoughtfully. "You know...you don't have to keep the last name if you don't want it. And you may be onto something about having that name attached to you. It makes it too easy for those creeps to find you, if they know what they are doing. How...how would you feel about taking my last name?" he offered hesitantly. Just because Werner didn't want to keep his own last name because of the associations didn't necessarily translate into him wanting to take Tony's last name, after all.
Surprised, Werner looked hesitantly at his father. "You...would you want that?" he asked, unable to hide the hopeful note in his voice as he realised that he wanted that...wanted it a whole lot.
"Well...yeah." Tony smiled crookedly, relaxing as he realized that Warner was interested and even wanted to do his suggestion. He would have- should have- offered sooner if he'd realized how the younger man would view it so positively. "You're my kid. Anything that ties you more firmly to me is good in my book..."
"I want that," Werner admitted; a little shyly, as he was still unsure of whether he should show that excitement and want at all.
"Then it's done. I'll have my lawyers draw up the necessary paperwork to officially change your name. You'll be a Stark. Then we'll make sure that anyone looking for you using your old name won't be able to make the connections necessary to find you again. We'll get Skye's help with that..." Tony grinned, obviously happy at the new development, despite Werner's hesitancy.
A hesitant, but nonetheless real, smile spread across Werner's face and he suddenly, impulsively, wrapped his arms around Tony, initiating a hug for what felt like the first time. "Thank you," he whispered, an entire wealth of gratitude in those two words.
"It's my privilege...You know, you've made my day...allowing me to give you my name..." Tony snuggled his son before kissing him on the cheek. "Wanna go tell your mom and brother the good news?"
Werner nodded quickly, blushing a bit as he let go of his father. "Yeah...yes..." He cleared his throat. "I think I got my appetite back," he admitted.
"Great! Let's go before your grandpa comes hunting for us..." Tony winked at his son before putting an arm around his shoulders and leading him back out of the room and toward the dining area.
Werner walked alongside Tony, leaning into him, almost snuggling.
As the reached the dining room, Tony led Werner to the empty chair next to Harry, then took the other empty chair next to Werner. Pepper was sat on Harry's other side. He began to plate up food for his oldest child, since the youngest was already working on the last bit of his own meal.
He noticed Bucky in the room with Patty, Bakshi and Lance, but didn't see the mysterious individual Bucky had been chiding earlier. At least, he didn't think they were in the room, since no one currently eating looked like they'd received a chiding from their uncle.
Harry gave Werner a big smile and reached out to hold his hand. "Where were you?" he asked, with all the concern a child could show.
Werner swallowed and then smiled at his brother. "I was just...reading some emails."
Coulson, noticing his children hadn't returned to the room, stood up and walked out of the area to find them.
Bucky hadn't yet sat down and, sending his children to the table so they could sit and eat, he quickly followed Coulson. "Phil..." he said quietly, but clearly enough the other man could hear him. "...I saw Bobbi, Grant and Raina on my way here. I told them to return to the dining area, but instead Bobbi took off running. Grant followed her. Raina mumbled something about getting dressed first and went into her room. I'm sorry I didn't get you the information sooner; my own kids decided to be difficult too..." He gave Phil a chagrined look that only showed a little of the exasperation he was feeling about the teenagers' behavior from both their families.
"Thank you," Coulson replied, smiling at his brother, before asking Friday to tell him where Bobbi and Grant had ended up.
"They are outside...by the treehouses, sir..." Friday immediately answered.
At that moment, Raina exited her room. She slanted her head and gave her father a crooked smile. "I'll go eat with Nat and Clint, Baba...if you do not need me for something?" She bit her lip uncertainly, not sure if she was in trouble (even though she was fairly certain her siblings might be).
Coulson smiled reassuringly at her. "Go and join the rest of the family, sweetie. I'll bring your siblings through soon." He kissed her forehead and then headed outside the compound.
"Okay, Baba!" Raina's grin became less crooked and uncertain at her father's words. She threw her arms around him in a quick hug, then quickly followed her Uncle Bucky into the dining area, since he had waited for her when he realized she'd come back out.
Bucky nodded at Coulson, giving him a sympathetic grin, before wrapping an arm around his niece and leading her in to eat with everyone else.
Outside, up in the treehouse, Grant was crossing his arms over his chest irritably and trying to convince his sister to head back inside the compound and to eat. "C'mon, Bobbi! I'm hungry! Just ignore her! She was deliberately pushing your buttons just to see what you'd do and you fell right into it!" he grumbled.
Bobbi was hung, upside down by her knees, on one of the branches just beyond the treehouse porch. Something she'd never dare do if one of the adults was outside watching. "Daddy didn't make her give it back! He just told me to calm down! It was MY shirt!" She pouted, feeling completely misunderstood.
Coulson headed towards the trees in time to hear his daughter's response and to see her hanging upside down from the tree. "Bobbi, get down from there," he said firmly, not able to or even trying to hide his worry at how easily the branch could snap.
Bobbi hadn't seen her father coming, so hearing his voice- even if it wasn't yelling or barking at her and was only firmly demanding- startled her. Luckily, she had quick reflexes and managed to keep herself in place, only slipping a few inches before she was able to grab hold of the branch with one hand and steady herself. She looked down at her father, her eyes wide and innocent; and very obviously not moving to obey. "But daddy! Why?" The pout could be heard clearly, even if it couldn't be seen; and since Coulson could clearly see her, it could be seen.
"Oh geesh, Bobbi! Just come back in here!" Grant grumbled, peering out the window she'd crawled through to get to the branch before looking down at his father. "Hey, dad...Do you want me to come down too?" he asked respectfully, sensing that being obstinate or disrespectful wasn't in his best interests at the moment. And since he wasn't upset with his father, he had no reason to push his limits.
Coulson stopped directly in front of the tree, nodding to Grant before addressing his daughter. "Because hanging upside down like that is dangerous. You nearly slipped just now. I don't want you hurt."
Grant waited just long enough to realize his sister wasn't going to come back into the tree house or let him help her back in, so he quickly went down the ladder to stand next to his father. "Do you need me to stay, Dad? Or should I go back to breakfast?" he asked quietly, nervously watching his sister as she deliberately ignored their father and continued to swing upside down from the branch like a monkey.
"Go to breakfast," Coulson directed, gently squeezing his son's shoulder. "I'll handle your sister." He began to climb up the tree towards her.
Bobbi's eyes widened as she saw her father coming up and Grant turning and heading back to the compound. "Oh shit..." she muttered under her breath and quickly pulled herself back up onto the limb. She didn't go back into the tree house, though. She scooted a little further out onto the limb. Her father wouldn't come after her, she was pretty sure.
Grant, worried that his sister would be too stubborn for her own good, nearly ran back into the dining room.
Coulson didn't waste any time or hesitate in continuing to climb after his daughter. "I understand you're upset, but acting recklessly is not how you handle that," he said seriously. "I need you to come down."
"I don't want to! I'm being careful!" Bobbi argued, backing a little further away and giving her father a sour look; though buried underneath the attitude was a thin thread of nervousness (she knew she was being reckless) and a tiny bit of hurt (why had her father not said anything to the shirt thief?).
Grant ran into the dining room, out of breath. "Bobbi...being stupid...Gonna break her neck...Dad needs help!" he blurted.
"What's she doing?" Steve was out of his seat immediately, though he wasn't sure if he was the best one for the job. "Where is she?" he asked quickly.
"She crawled out the window of the tree house and is going out onto a limb that's high up...onto a part of it that isn't sturdy enough to hold her!" Grant quickly answered.
Steve nodded quickly and glanced towards Stephen, Wong, Mordo and Odin. "It would help if at least one of you could come out with me," he said, aware that they could each use magic and wanting to make sure Bobbi wouldn't get hurt.
"Of course." Stephen stood quickly, expecting that one, if not all three, of the other men would join him in helping. But if they didn't, he was confident in his ability to help.
Mordo and Wong were quick to join their brother, with Odin not wasting any time either.
Steve nodded quickly in thanks and began heading outside the compound.
Bobbi was too focused on staying just out of her father's reach, knowing he wouldn't come close enough to risk the beach breaking on her, to notice the five men coming her direction.
Stephen narrowed his eyes at the precarious situation and the fact that the girl was being so defiant when her safety was involved. He glanced at Mordo and Wong, knowing exactly what they'd say and do if he behaved in that manner. Then again...if the look on Phil's face was anything to go by, he was the same as his brothers. "I have an idea..." he said softly, as they neared the bottom of the tree and positioned themselves to 'catch' Bobbi if she fell. Making an odd motion with his hand, he waited; knowing that even if no one else understood the action, Mordo and Wong would realize he'd just summoned the cloak of levitation.
Bobbi had to grip the branch she stood on tighter as she noticed the new arrivals, the distraction causing her to lose focus enough that her foot slipped. Luckily, the rest of her didnt slip and she was soon balanced precariously again. By this point, she was beginning to look a bit sorry for pushing things so far and like she wanted to 'surrender' to her father, but a combination of stubbornness and nervousness at how far out on the thin part of the branch she was kept her rooted in place.
Steve wasn't sure what Stephen was planning, but he positioned himself in case Bobbi were to lose her grip and fall. He noticed the others doing the same thing.
Coulson kept eye contact with his daughter, not prepared to back down and not making any attempt to hide his worry and concern. "Come down, Bobbi. Please."
Bobbi bit her lip. "No..." she continued to defy; although by this point, it wasn't clear if the defiance was more due to being afraid of what she knew she had coming, or fear of falling.
Stephen held out his hand and the cloak of levitation stopped next to him, hovering in place. It seemed to have an air of curiosity in the way it held itself. "What is the plan, gentlemen?" Stephen asked quietly, so as not to spook his cousin further.
"Perhaps you could have it retrieve her," Mordo suggested, glancing up at the precariously-balanced teenager. "Bring her down here and hold her until her father can retrieve her."
Stephen visibly relaxed and then grinned. "That's what I was thinking. Just didn't want to do it without the approval of someone in charge..." he admitted, before whispering to the cloak.
The cloak flew up toward Bobbi, moving slowly enough not to startle her or get tangled in branches. She watched it curiously and suspiciously, but as her only options were to fall or move closer to her father, she held still. As soon as it was close enough, though, it whipped around her, swaddling her like a newborn and then levitating her out of the tree.
Bobbi screeched as she suddenly found herself immobile, yet still moving; toward her group of uncles and cousin.
Steve reached out and grasped his niece as the cloak brought her to him, making sure she couldn't wriggle out of his grasp, as Coulson began to climb back down the tree.
Once Bobbi was secured in Steve's arms, the cloak released her and flew back to Stephen.
Bobbi, realizing her uncle had hold of her and her father was on his way, began squirming and fighting to get free like a wild cat. "Nooooo!" she whined, as she kicked, clawed and wriggled to get free.
Stephen's eyes widened at the sight. Even with the added hormones from being in a rapidly changing teenage body, he didn't think the behavior typical. He wrinkled his nose, but kept quiet. It wasn't like he hadn't behaved in very unusually childish ways at times.
Coulson didn't waste any time in climbing down the tree and then quickly moving over to his daughter, reaching out to draw her from his brother's arms. "Settle down," he said firmly, giving her backside a firm pat...nearly a swat.
"Nooooo, daddy!" Bobbi had begun to cry by this point, knowing what was going to happen, because she knew she'd behaved in a way that would never be approved. She continued to struggle, though she refrained from the kicking and clawing. She already felt badly about doing that to her uncle and counted herself lucky that Steve hadn't swatted her for it.
Stephen shifted uncomfortably, looking back toward the compound, as if he wanted to teleport himself there and away from the 'drama', but he didn't want to leave until he was certain everything was okay and he wasn't needed.
"We're going inside and I'm taking you to my room," Coulson said firmly, still holding onto his daughter, even as he looked around at the other family members. "Thank you for coming out to help," he said seriously.
Stephen nodded briskly, "Of course, sir..." he said respectfully, before quickly heading back to the compound, where he planned to go finish his breakfast. Having been given permission from Phil, he saw no reason to wait for anyone else. They'd either walk in with his uncle, or they'd catch up to him. He didn't want to be anywhere around if his cousin pushed matters to the point where his uncle had to 'handle' her in front of whoever was around.
Bobbi whined more loudly at her father's words, pulling and wriggling even more, though it was obvious that between her struggle with her Uncle Steve and now with her father that she was tiring herself out. "Leeeet goooooo!" she demanded petulantly.
Coulson kept a tight hold of his daughter, even as the other family members began to follow Stephen inside. "Or I can put you over my knee out here," he warned.
"Noooooo!" Bobbi began to squirm even more frantically at that comment; not even stopping to think she was encouraging her father to follow through with the threat by not cooperating. By this time, she was too far out of control; not capable of reigning herself in, even if she wanted to.
Coulson didn't waste any time or hesitate. He quickly sat and drew his daughter across his lap, securing her tight against his stomach before he bared her and then landed a firm, stinging swat.
"Noooo! Daaaddy!" Bobby wailed, still squirming frantically, this time trying to cover her bottom with her hands and turning bright red because, even if the others were heading back to the compound, she knew at least a few of them would hear the swat and might have even witnessed it.
Coulson moved his daughter's hands out of the way, holding them against her back, and then landed a second and third swat. "I don't care how upset you are with me, Bobbi. You don't ever act so recklessly."
"It's not FAIR!" Bobbi screeched, kicking her legs out and trying to throw herself off her father's lap.
"I know you're upset with your new sister, too." Coulson gentled his tone, if not the swats he was delivering. "You didn't give me a chance to speak with her before you stormed out. I wasn't about to indicate it was okay for her to keep wearing your shirt." It might be the hormones making Bobbi act out, but he knew it had upset her. Still... "I am, however, aware that you weren't entirely innocent when acting on your feelings about what we discussed last night." He completed one full circuit of swats and then began a second, going a fraction harder and faster.
"I didn't do anything wrong!" Bobbi protested with a scream, well past tantruming and being fully out of control, not even capable of being reasonable or listening.
"You were upset because Gamora told you, and I agreed, that learning to fight with a sword would have to wait until you were back to your usual age," Coulson said, punctuating each word with a swat, though he was careful not to use too much force. "I know you've been feeling out of sorts and that was just a catalyst," he continued, his voice gentle. "You might have two new sisters, but that doesn't mean I love you any less. Or that I'll let you get away with being naughty."
Bobbi's squirming was becoming more feeble as she tired herself out and her legs kicked out only a few more times before she stopped kicking and trying to throw herself off Coulson's lap. "You...you told me to let her wear it..." she accused. While that hadn't been what he'd actually said, that's what she'd heard and being told to let it go had just rubbed her already bruised ego wrong. She was finally lying still over his knee, though she was still tensed up; not surrendering in the least. Tears were streaming down her face and her throat was sore from all her screaming, her voice beginning to sound hoarse.
Even while he continued the spanking, Coulson gently rubbed her back and shoulders with his other hand. "I asked you to relax...to let it go," he said gently. "It wasn't worth losing your temper over and working yourself up when you could have let me ask her calmly to return it to you...or done the same thing yourself."
Bobbi blinked at that. She wanted to argue, but it was too reasonable; and having reflected on what he said, she realized that he hadn't actually said what she'd accused him of, so arguing about that wasn't going to help her at all. "But you didn't ask her! You just...just talked to me!" Her protest was slightly less screechy; partly because she was losing steam (she really had tired herself out with the struggling and screaming fit), but also because as much as she wanted to keep arguing, he had derailed her (at least momentarily) and she was struggling to find words.
"I talked to you first, sweetie," Coulson corrected her. "In the hopes that you would listen to me and calm down, so that then I could talk to your sister."
"Well...I didn't know that!" Bobbi grumbled, her voice even softer than it had been before. She still sounded upset and irritable. She also sounded like she was beginning to feel guilty about her attitude; and the strained tone of her voice indicated the spanking was getting through to her, even if she hadn't given in yet.
"Did you give me any chance to take care of it?" Coulson asked gently. "You got upset and ran outside. That wouldn't have been a problem, except then you decided to act in a reckless manner t'hat could have resulted in you getting hurt. If the others hadn't come out to help..." He cut the words off rather than finish with what he'd truly feared, but the anguish was very clear in his voice.
Bobbi swallowed hard at hearing her father's voice and knowing she'd really upset him with her actions. Scared him. Biting her lip, she whimpered slightly and squirmed again; more from guilt this time, even though her bottom was getting very sore by this point. "I...I didn't mean to..." she said uncertainly...hoping her father wouldn't call her on her lie. She'd meant to upset him; not by scaring him or worrying him, but by making him feel as irritable and ignored as she was feeling. Of course, now she realized he hadn't really been ignoring her feelings at all; she'd just jumped to conclusions and left before he could help her understand.
"No, sweetie. I think it's quite clear that you did mean to," Coulson pointed out, focusing more swats to her sit spots and thighs. "You deliberately did something you knew I wouldn't allow."
Bobbi choked back a yelp as he focused on where she'd feel it most later, then swallowed hard again and let out a tiny moan before she began to quietly cry. "...I'm sorry, daddy..." she responded, unable to refute his words.
Coulson stopped the spanking, letting his hand rest on his daughter's back and rubbing gently. "I don't want to lose you," he said, his voice soft but filled with emotion.
Bobbi's crying became a bit stronger, though it was still quiet, and she slumped over her father's knee. She didn't want to be lost...and she really didn't like fighting with her daddy. And knowing how wrong she'd been about everything, all she wanted to do now was apologize and be held and cuddled and forgiven. "I'm sorry, daddy..." This time, the words sounded more repentant; genuine; less a response meant to get her out of trouble and more to let him know she understood.
"I love you." Coulson gently moved Bobbi into his arms, cuddling her tightly and kissing her head. "I forgive you," he whispered, rocking her gently.
Bobbi twisted until she was pressed tight to her father, her head tucked under his chin and snuggled as close as she could. "I love you too, daddy..." she whispered. Tears were still streaming down her face, but she was calm and the anger she'd been feeling since the night before had eased somewhat. "...I don't wanna be lost..." she admitted out loud, in a tiny, almost scared voice. Now that she'd calmed down, she realized how foolish she'd been. Sniffling, she squirmed. Her bottom was very sore, but she couldn't say she didn't deserve it.
Coulson tightened his arms around her, kissing the top of her head and stroking her hair and back. "I won't let you be," he promised.
"Even if I deserve to be?" Bobbi asked, in a tiny voice.
"You don't," Coulson promised, tightening his embrace. "And you wouldn't ever deserve to be."
Now that she was fully calm and able to think more clearly, Bobbj felt horrible for how she'd behaved. "I owe Uncle Steve an apology...I kicked him really hard..." she admitted in shame.
Coulson gently ran his fingers through her hair. "I'm sure he'd appreciate that. You're not the only one to be feeling out of sorts and affected by what's happened," he said gently.
"No one else behaved as naughty as me, though...at least not today..." She sighed softly and shifted again, sniffling softly at the sting on her bottom. It was hard to take her punishment maturely...she wasn't feeling very mature at all.
Coulson kissed her head, still stroking over her hair and back. "I forgive you. Your uncle will too," he promised.
Bobbi snuggled closer and relaxed further. "...Should a come to you...told you how I felt..." she admitted sadly. "Couldn't think of anything cuz I was so angry, though. I don't usually get angry like that... not even when I was growing up the first time..." She sounded a little scared.
"A lot of growing and development is happening all at once," Coulson pointed out gently. "It's likely to affect you in ways that might seem strange or scary."
Bobbi nodded, nuzzling into her father's chest. "...Still...I shouldn't have done what I did. Thank you for not hating me, daddy..." she whispered, in a tiny, contrite voice.
"I couldn't ever hate you," Coulson whispered, kissing her head. "I love you."
Bobbi whimpered and nuzzled against him again. "I love you too, daddy..." She shivered slightly, the cool morning air finally catching up and chilling her. She hadn't worn a coat and with her clothing still pooled around her ankles... "I really hope security wasn't watching..." She turned bright pink and hid her face.
"I doubt it." Coulson was fairly sure it had been obvious what was about to happen. "Are you ready to go inside and have breakfast now?" he asked gently.
"Yes, daddy," Bobbi said softly and yawned. She truly had worn herself out with her antics.
Coulson carefully replaced her clothing and then stood, helping her to stand up as well.
Bobbi leaned against her father for warmth, comfort and support as she let him lead her back inside to eat.
Coulson kept his daughter close as he led her inside and to his seat at the table, guiding her onto the empty seat next to him.
Bobbi kept her eyes down, shame and embarrassment making it impossible for her to face anyone. She quietly sat next to her father, letting him serve her, then eating what he put on her plate.
"I have placed your shirt in the laundry to be washed. I will not borrow your items without asking again..." Gamora said out of nowhere, by way of apology without actually apologizing. She made no further comment on what Bobbi had done to her.
Bobbi hunched further down, guilt covering her face.
Coulson nodded to show Gamora he'd heard her, even as he wrapped an arm gently around Bobbi's shoulder and squeezed her against his side.
Bobbi didn't speak the entire meal unless asked a direct question. She was just so confused. She was still angry; but felt guilty about being angry. And a little afraid that maybe something was wrong with her.
Nebula could understand baseless anger. She fought it for a long time herself. "Perhaps later, we can practice a little sparring that does not involve weaponry..." she suggested to the room at large.
"That would be a good idea," Fury agreed. "We've done sparring sessions involving all of us in the past."
"I wanna sthpar!" Kara clapped her hands and wiggled. Everyone had been very relieved when she aged enough to be able to talk again. She was still using sign language for the more difficult words, but she could talk.
Bobbi looked up at that and bit her lip. "I think I'm just going to take a nap..." she muttered.
Coulson gently stroked her hip. "Why don't we go and play some cards in my room?" he suggested quietly, wanting to try and help her feel better.
Bobbi gave her father a crooked smile, not wanting him to feel bad, but really just wanting to be left alone. "Maybe later, daddy...if that's okay?" she whispered.
"Of course." Coulson kissed her head. "I love you," he whispered.
"I love you too..." She leaned into Coulson, before standing to clear her plate along with all the others large enough to do so. She tried to watch for when her Uncle Steve left, so she could catch him and apologize. He may have enhanced strength, but she knew it still had to hurt when she kicked so hard, considering she'd been fighting dirty.
Steve glanced at his younger grandchildren, unable to help but smile as Harry moved over to his father and leaned against Tony. "I want to be a Stark too, daddy," he declared...though there was still a faint hint of nervousness in his voice, as if he wasn't sure if it was okay.
"That's wonderful, Sport!" Tony's grin could light up the room. "I'll call my lawyers now. Get it taken care of." He put his arms around Werner and Harry and led them to the office, Pepper following behind.
Other members of the family began to filter out of the room, having cleaned up after themselves. Steve glanced towards his remaining kids and grandkids, waiting to see if they wanted to do anything.
"I'm going to check with Bryce, Helen, Stephen and daddy on the bloodwork and then I'll meet everyone in the gym..." Jemma declared, before running out of the dining area.
"I guess that means I'm checking on bloodwork and then going to the gym..." Bruce shook his head with a laugh. He turned toward Peter. "Go with Leo to get ready and I'll practice with you when I get there..." He smiled.
Bobbi bit her lip and hesitantly moved in Steve's direction, without actually going up to him.
Leo smiled and held his hand out to his brother, who contentedly took it and allowed himself to be led out of the room.
Steve turned towards Bobbi, smiling encouragingly at his niece.
By the time Bobbi made it up to her uncle, most of the dining area had cleared of anyone who wasn't a parent themselves. She looked at her feet, unable to face Steve, but she spoke clearly. "I'm sorry I acted so badly, Uncle Steve. I should never have kicked you..." Her voice was guilt filled frustration. She was frustrated because she couldn't control her temper.
Steve reached out and gently squeezed her shoulder. "I know you were working yourself into a state. I forgive you. I love you," he added.
Bobbi sniffled and threw her arms around him, snuggling close. "I feel horrible about it...I never wanted to hurt my family..." she whispered.
Steve hugged her tight and kissed the top of her head. "You don't need to. I'm not upset," he promised.
"You're good like daddy..." Bobbi muttered and rubbed her eyes with a despondent sigh. "I don't deserve family like you all..."
"Yes, you do," Steve replied firmly. "You're part of this family...of my family. And I love you."
"I love you too, uncle Steve," Bobbi whispered and hugged him tight. She still felt like she didn't deserve his love or forgiveness any more than she deserved her father's, but she wasn't going to argue with him about it. She had argued too much already that morning.
"I heard you tell your dad you wanted to nap. Do you still want to do that?" Steve asked.
"Yeah. I think I'll hang out in my room today..." Bobbi smiled sadly. She didn't want to risk losing her temper with another family member.
"If that's what you want, but you're welcome to join us at any time," Steve said.
"Yes sir..." Bobbi sniffled and wrapped her arms around herself. "I... I'm glad I didn't hurt you... I really am sorry..." she whispered, before turning to head to her room. Her shoulders were slumped. She didn't really want to avoid her family. She just didn't want to go off on any of them again and didn't trust herself.
Steve moved over to her side, unwilling to just let Bobbi leave like that. "Why don't we sit together and watch a movie?" he suggested.
"You were going to go join the others in the gym..." Bobbi protested uncertainly. She hadn't expected her uncle to worry over her as much as her daddy...but maybe she should have.
"Lots of people are going to be there," Steve said. "I'd rather spend the time with you."
"Even after...?" Bobbi bit her lip, her eyes brightening up. She knew her father loved her and wanted to be with her. It always surprised her when other family reminded her they did as well.
Steve gave her a tight hug. "It doesn't matter what happened before. I've forgiven you and you don't need to feel guilty anymore." He kissed her cheek.
"I can't promise I won't." Bobbi sighed. "But I can at least try not to let it be obvious. You don't need to worry..."
"I still want to spend time with you," Steve said seriously.
Bobbi gave him a shy look before nodding. "Okay..." she said softly, giving a hesitant smile.
Steve kissed her cheek and began walking with her to his room, keeping his arm wrapped around her shoulders.
Bobbi snuggled close and went where led.
It was a few days later and those who had been de-aged were showing more obvious signs of returning to their normal ages. Peter and Harry were now back to teenagers, while Kara was heading towards puberty. The others were aging up a bit more slowly, but the effects could be obviously seen.
Coulson couldn't help but reflect it was good that the bloodwork was showing better results, too. It was impossible to say how long it would be until they were all back to normal, but the progress was good. Even if tempers were still fraying.
Bobbi was bored. She'd asked Hunter to go into town with her... watch a movie... but her Uncle Bucky's method of dealing with hormones and short fuses, seemed to be one of wearing his kids out to the point they had no free time and were so tired at the end of the day, they all went to bed early. She was too busy feeling glad her own father hadn't decided to use the same methods to be too sympathetic. Still... it was irritating not to have someone to sneak out with. (And they would be sneaking out. No one was supposed to leave the compound until everything was normalized and the kids were no longer vulnerable.)
She glanced around the room, but the only one who seemed as bored as she was, was her cousin Blake's new son. John? He liked to be called Pyro. He had just stepped out into the hall, so she followed.
Blake had spent a lot of the morning with his new son, but Deacon was planning to go back to college in the next few days and he was now keeping his promise of looking through the course details and figuring out where Deacon would go next.
Pyro wasn't really bored, and he wasn't looking to make waves... but when Bobbi cornered him in front of his room and asked him to go to the movies with her... challenged him to sneak out... it hadn't taken a lot of convincing. He had difficulty not trying to prove anyone wrong, when they said he couldn't do something and Bobbi had worded the challenge just right. He was determined to prove he could sneak them out of the compound, into the movie and back again without getting caught.
Bobbi grinned as they slipped into the seats at the theater. Somehow, he had done it. Pyro had got them both off the property and into town...and into the theater. She was impressed. More than that, she was excited. She'd been looking forward to this movie and the thought she wouldn't see it on big screen because of de-aging had bothered her.
Soon, they were enjoying the movie, everything else pushed to the back of their minds.
Blake had spent a couple of hours with Deacon, but as it was nearing lunchtime, he suggested, "Why don't we have some food delivered? We can eat with Pyro and Mom and Dad...maybe go out to the tree houses afterwards." He'd been trying to do father-son things with Pyro, even though he wasn't at his true age yet. He knew how much his son had missed out on.
"Sounds good to me." Deacon smiled. "You want me to do the ordering while you go find John?" He cleaned up the table they were working on. Even if they went to eat at the treehouses, everyone else would still be eating in the dining room.
Blake nodded. "Friday, where's Pyro?" he asked the AI.
"He and Ms. Bobbi left the grounds approximately three hours ago," the AI answered. "The GPS in their phones indicate they are in town."
"I'll wait to order the food..." Deacon sighed.
"I'll go and get Uncle Phil." Blake checked with Friday and then went in search of their uncle.
Bobbi and Pyro had just gotten out of the movie and were standing to the side of the entrance. "Now to get us back home..." Pyro said, as he thought about the best place to enter so they could sneak in undetected and not be questioned.
"Oh! Not yet! Please, Pyro? Just a little longer?" Bobbi begged.
Pyro wrinkled his nose. He was beginning to realize she was just following all her impulses without thought and regretted sneaking her out. "Figures," he muttered under his breath, before responding. "They'll be having lunch soon, if they aren't already. If I have any hope of getting us back undetected, we have to go now."
Bobbi pouted. "Fine..." she said irritably, her good mood vanished in a second.
Pyro winced. "Maybe, if we make it quick, we can get a candy apple at the sweet shop..." he said reluctantly.
Bobbi's good mood instantly returned. "Yay! Thank you!" She bounced in place, causing her cousin to shake his head in bemusement.
By this point, Blake had tracked down Coulson and the two of them wasted no time in trying to call their wayward kids. While they'd both, more than likely, just sneaked out, they couldn't discount the possibility that HYDRA, or another enemy, had targeted them.
Bobbi grimaced as her phone rang at the same time as Pyro's phone. "I think they've discovered we're gone..." She sighed.
Pyro noticed she didn't answer her phone. He wasn't about to do that to his father, though. He was already in deep enough for leaving the grounds, he figured. "Hi, dad," he answered in a subdued tone.
"Where are you, son?" Blake asked quickly, not even trying to hide his worry.
Bobbi was making frantic motions for him not to say anything, but the worry in Blake's voice made him feel so guilty, he blurted out the answer with little to no thought. "We're in town. Walking to the Sweet Shop for a candy apple!"
Bobbi groaned loudly. "They'll make us come back now!" she whined.
"Me and Uncle Phil will come and pick you up," Blake said decisively. "Did you take a vehicle?" His tone was calm and level, but the worry and fear was difficult to let go of.
"No, sir. We walked." Pyro's guilt could be heard in his voice.
Blake quietly talked with Coulson and then said, "We'll drive and meet you at the sweet shop. Don't go anywhere else. I love you," he added, gentling his tone.
"Yes sir...Love you too!" Pyro's voice softened in relief. He may be in trouble, but his father didn't sound angry, at least.
Bobbi wrinkled her nose and slumped. "We have to stay here?" she asked, after he hung up.
"Yeah. And I for one am listening. I suggest you do as well," Pyro answered.
It didn't take long for Coulson and Blake to drive to where their wayward children had ended up. Both were worried, but very relieved that Pyro and Bobbi were safe.
Bobbi and Pyro were sat on a bench outside the shop, eating their apples, when their fathers arrived. Pyro immediately stood while Bobbi slumped.
Both Coulson and Blake got out of the car, wasting no time in going to their respective children. Blake wrapped his arm around Pyro's shoulders. "Come on, kiddo. Let's go home," he murmured.
Coulson stopped in front of Bobbi and held his hand out to her. "It's time to go home, sweetie."
Bobbi frowned, then sighed. "Whatever..." she muttered and stood. She didn't fight or argue, though, going to the car and getting in without a word more.
Pyro frowned at the disrespect and gave his own father a worried look, but just got into the backseat.
Blake got into the backseat with Pyro, leaving Bobbi to get into the front with her dad.
Pyro scooted as close to his father as the seatbelts would allow.
Bobbi scooted as far away as the seatbelts would allow. She didn't know why. She'd expected her father to find out and come after her. She wasn't angry at him. She just couldn't bring herself to give in.
Blake reached out and took Pyro's hand, squeezing it gently.
Coulson noticed Bobbi scooting away and while he didn't force any contact, he let his hand settle between them; reaching out to his daughter.
Bobbi saw her father's hand from the corner of her eye. At first, she ignored it, but as frustrated as she felt, doing so made her feel mean and petty, so she hesitantly reached over and put her hand into his.
Coulson gently squeezed her hand. "I love you," he whispered, his voice sincere and honest.
"I know..." she whispered. "I love you too..." she admitted softly.
Coulson continued to hold her hand, gently squeezing it, as he drove them home.
In the backseat, Blake was content to hold onto Pyro's, pressed as close to his son as it was possible to get.
It was an entirely too short trip to get home, as far as Bobbi was concerned. She knew she'd disobeyed a rather important order and she knew the consequences of doing so. She didn't understand herself right now...all she knew was she kept losing her cool at the slightest provocation. She had no doubt that she'd lose it at some point when her father disciplined her. She figured it would have been more likely for Grant or Jessica or Skye to be the ones acting out. Yet they seemed to be having no problems at all. It was so unfair! By the time her father had pulled into the garage and parked the car, she was tense and sullen.
Pyro swallowed at the tension in the car and quickly got out. "I'll wait in your room, daddy..." he whispered, unsettled and anxious to get away from the pressure cooker that was his cousin. Then he ran to Blake's room.
Bobbi watched him disappear, her mouth hanging open.
Blake didn't waste any time in heading after Pyro, wanting to take care of his son as quickly as possible.
Coulson gently guided Bobbi out of the car, pressing a kiss to her head as he led her to his room.
Pyro was sitting on Blake's bed, fidgeting morosely, when his father caught up to him.
Blake walked over and sat on the bed next to Pyro, wrapping his arm around his son's shoulders and drawing him in close. "What happened, son?" he asked gently.
"Bobbi was bored and dared me I couldn't get us into town and back unnoticed. I was bored and took the dare." Pyro sighed. "We got there and saw the movie, but then when I wanted to come back... She wasn't happy... so I gave in and stayed... which meant there was no way we'd get back unnoticed, because we were gone too long." He looked at his feet. "I'm glad we got caught, though. She's acting weird and it's better you know we snuck out."
Blake wrapped his arms around Pyro in a tight hug. "And you shouldn't have left the compound anyway," he pointed out gently.
"And that..." Pyro nodded and gave a crooked smile. "I know what I did wrong, dad...and I know my reason was pathetic at best. So... I know I've got a spanking coming my way. Do I have anything else coming to me?" he asked softly.
"Just a spanking, kiddo." Blake kissed his cheek. "We'll work on you accepting dares when you shouldn't," he added.
Pyro sighed. "Okay, dad..." He smiled. He wasn't upset with his father for punishing him. He knew he'd pretty much asked for it by doing something he knew he wasn't meant to do. Carefully standing, he moved to stand beside Blake's knee before pushing his jeans down. "For what it's worth, I never meant to scare you. I'm sorry about that..."
"I know, kiddo." Blake reached up and stroked his cheek. "I was scared because I love you. I don't want anything to happen to you." He gently drew Pyro down across his lap, securing him with an arm wrapped around his waist before lowering his underwear.
"I'm still getting used to that..." Pyro admitted. "...Getting used to someone actually caring about me and worrying. I want to do better for you..." he said quietly, before reaching down and holding onto Blake's ankle.
Blake stroked his lower back. "I know, kiddo. And I'll help you do better," he promised, before lifting his hand and bringing it down in the first swat that he then repeated.
Pyro let out a hiss of air and tensed as the first swat fell but didn't attempt to get away. He trusted Blake completely and didn't want to make things difficult for his father.
Blake continued to rub his son's back, even as he completed one circuit of swats down to Pyro's thighs and then started over from the top. Partway through the second circuit, he began to speak. "Your safety is too important to play games with, John. You knew you weren't supposed to leave the compound and you knew why."
"Yessir..." Pyro responded, his voice catching. It didn't hurt - yet - but it stung. Blake's words stung worse. Pyro knew his father was right. He shouldn't have done what he did. "It was wrong," he added, in a tight voice that cracked at the end.
Blake began a third circuit of swats, going a bit harder and faster. "I only just got you in my life, kid. I want to keep you around. Keep you with me. I want you." He knew it was difficult for his son to believe that. It was why he kept saying it and showing it. He might have had good reason for not stepping in before, but that didn't stop him feeling guilty for leaving Pyro to flounder for so long.
"I want to be with you, daddy..." Pyro blinked back tears. He had thought Blake hated him for so long and now...now he was being proven wrong repeatedly. He hadn't been fighting, but with his father's words, he gave in. Slumping over Blake's knee, he just cried quietly, sorry for what he had done wrong and grateful Blake loved him enough not to give up on him.
Blake didn't waste any time in gathering his son into his arms, hugging Pyro tightly to himself and kissing the top of his head. "I love you, so much," he whispered. "And I'm so sorry it took us too long to get to this point."
Pyro just pressed close and held onto the front of his father's shirt tightly. "You have me now..." he whispered. Tears were still falling down his face, but he wasn't sobbing or upset. The fact Blake had come after him and been consistent had gone a long way to helping him remain calm.
Blake tightened his embrace, stroking over his son's hair and back. "And I won't ever let you go," he promised.
"Thanks, dad..." Pyro whispered, believing the older man (even if he didn't look much older at this point in time). "So...I'm guessing it's time to eat lunch and that's how you discovered we were gone? Is it too late to eat with Deacon and Grandpa and Grandma?"
Blake stroked his cheek. "When I realised you were gone, Deacon said he'd wait to order food. So no. It's not too late."
Pyro slumped, and smiled. "Good...I like eating with you all..." he admitted.
Smiling, Blake kissed his head. "I like that too," he murmured.
Pyro gave Blake a tight hug before standing and fixing his clothing. "Let's go find the others?" he asked, waiting for Blake to lead him back out of the room.
Bobbi wasn't happy to be following her father back to his room. She supposed she should count herself lucky that she hadn't completely lost it and got into trouble in town, or in the car, like she'd got herself into trouble at the treehouse. But the fact was, she didn't want to be going to her father's room so that he could correct her behavior. She was an adult, for crying out loud! (Even if she was still in a teenager's body and having difficulty controlling herself). She should be able to go into town and watch a movie, or get a candied apple without having to get permission or tell anyone! Or at least get permission, since telling someone was pretty much an unwritten rule due to how many enemies they had. What made things worse, though? Was that she understood why she was in trouble and actually, even if she wasn't happy about it and thought she shouldn't need permission, agreed with her father's response. And she knew if she just admitted as much, it would probably go a long way toward making the coming situation easier and might mean her father could be a little bit merciful or lenient. But she just couldn't bring herself to admit it. It was all she could do to keep herself from throwing the hugest temper tantrum she'd ever thrown (and considering the one she'd thrown two days before, that was saying something). Biting her lip to keep from spouting off or arguing, she became more and more tense the closer they got to her father's room, itching to just take off and hide for a bit (even if that wouldn't accomplish anything but putting off the inevitable).
Coulson kept his arm around Bobbi's shoulders, able to feel the tension in his daughter's body. He gently squeezed her against his side as he whispered, "I know it's difficult for you right now, but that's no reason for you to take off without a word...and drag your cousin in too. Because now you're both in trouble."
"I didn't make him go!" Bobbi protested, her irritation clear. If Coulson hadn't had his arm around her, she likely would have taken off by now. As it was, the closer they got to his room, the more the urge to run grew. By the time they reached the door of his room, Bobbi knew she wasn't going to be able to go in on her own two feet. Ducking under her father's arm, she made a run for it. Which, if she'd been thinking, she likely wouldn't have done, since she ran in the direction of the family room (where she was more likely to run into one of her uncles and be stopped.)
Coulson had been halfway expecting his daughter to make a break for it. After all, it wouldn't be the first time he had to deal with one of his children running. So he didn't hesitate even for a second going after her.
Bobbi knew her father was coming after her, so she put on an extra burst of speed, running through the family room and jumping over furniture to put objects between her and Coulson. She was focused solely on getting away, not on who was around her.
Fury spotted his niece trying to escape from Coulson and wasted no time moving to intercept her.
Bobbi, looking over her shoulder to make certain her father couldn't catch her, ran straight into her uncle's arms...and promptly screeched. "Lemme gooo!"
Fury tightened his arms and looked wryly at his brother. "I've captured your runaway."
"Thank you." Coulson stopped by his brother and daughter and reached out to take Bobbi from Fury.
"Noooo!" Bobbi protested, in what could only be described as a high pitched whine.
Kara, who was sat on the couch next to Ward, blinked wide eyes at her cousin. "Why are you afraid of your daddy?" she asked curiously, with a hint of worry, her voice a whisper. The deaging had affected her strongly; she and everyone was relieved that she'd begun to grow when the other 'children' had grown and that she was now able to communicate again, but she was very clingy and couldn't imagine running from her father, let alone fighting going anywhere with him. Even if she was in trouble. It scared her more to be away from him than anything else.
Bobbi blinked at the question, suddenly realizing she was putting on quite the show for nearly the entire family. She immediately stilled and bit her lip, turning bright red. "I'm not afraid of him, Kar bear..." she finally answered, in a tiny voice. "...I just don't wanna be in trouble..." Her own voice dropped to a whisper and she slumped. May as well stop fighting; she was surrounded by uncles and an aunt that would catch and hold her in place if need be and she really didn't want to push her father into spanking her in front of anyone again.
Coulson gently stroked his daughter's hair. "I know, sweetie," he whispered in her ear. "No one wants to be in trouble. But we need to talk about what happened today and I'd rather keep it private between us." He whispered in her ear, so that only those with super-hearing would be able to catch what he was saying.
"Yessir..." Bobbi whispered softly and slumped further, not fighting his grip on her any longer.
Coulson led his daughter from the family room, his grip firm but still gentle. He kept stroking her hair and back, giving her affection.
Bobbi didn't try to escape again and, sooner than she'd like, they were in her father's room with the door firmly shut behind them. "I don't suppose you can just scold and lecture me?" she said, in a saucy tone and with an impish smile, though her eyes didn't look anything but reluctant and nervous.
"No, sweetie," Coulson replied firmly. "You knew you weren't supposed to leave the compound or its grounds. And you also know and understand why. That kind of reckless disregard for your safety isn't acceptable."
Bobbi looked at the ground. "I know, daddy..." She sighed, not arguing his comments. She shifted closer to him, hoping that if she stopped arguing and cooperated, maybe he'd go a little easier on her.
Coulson moved her over to the bed and sat down, gently guiding his daughter across his lap before he bared her, wrapping an arm around her waist to keep her secure and safe.
Bobbi tensed and whimpered. She was so confused...how could a position that she'd been trying so hard to avoid make her feel safe and loved? The anxiety and frustration at being punished and the feeling of safety and need to submit warred against each other, making it difficult to think or do anything.
Gently stroking her back, Coulson then proceeded to bare his daughter, making sure his grip on her was tight and secure before he lifted his hand and brought it down in the first firm swat.
Bobbi didn't try and pretend the swat didn't sting. She yelped, loudly and immediately began to squirm; though the squirming was mostly in response to the sting and not an attempt to get away. Her eyes also began watering immediately. Despite her belligerent attitude, deep down, she really did feel guilty for worrying her father. And she couldn't figure out why she kept pushing and defying him. Mentally, she knew she didn't really want to do that; but her emotions kept taking over and she just wasn't able to do what she knew she should do. Mentally, she also knew she could go to her father and let him know when she began feeling antsy and rebellious; he'd 'settled' her before, after all...kept her from doing reckless things by giving her personal attention... but even though she knew it, she couldn't bring herself to do it. Everything was just so confusing and messed up! She whimpered again, the cadence of it pained and frustrated.
Coulson continued to swat down to her thighs and then started over from the top. Partway through the second circuit, he began to speak. "I know you're not feeling particularly good right now, Bobbi. I know things are difficult for you. But that's not an excuse to go and do something you know is dangerous."
"I know!" Bobbi retorted, a bit more sharply than she intended, letting out another whimper and squirming. "I know, but I just can't seem to stop myself!" she choked out.
"I'm here to help you, sweetie. I will always help you," Coulson promised, completing the second circuit and beginning a third, going a fraction harder and faster. "I love you."
"I love you too, daddy..." Bobbi said, in a strained voice, her squirming becoming frantic as the swats became harder. "...Daddy!" she finally wailed, kicking out her legs frantically before finally going limp and just crying, hard, over his knee.
Coulson brought the spanking to a stop and wasted no time in gently bringing his daughter up into his arms, hugging her tighty.
Bobbi didn't try to fight her need for affection. The minute Coulson pulled her up into his arms and hugged her, she twisted around to wrap her own arms around him, burrowing against him and hiding her face against his chest while she continued to cry. It was frustrating that she kept getting into trouble. It was scary that she couldn't control herself better. But her father holding her? That was soothing and comforting and everything felt so much better. Him holding her was the only time during the day that she felt somewhat normal and able to handle what was going on in her own body. She didn't tell him any of this, of course- it was embarrassing- but she felt it.
Coulson hugged her tightly to himself and kissed her head. "I love you," he whispered, stroking her hair and back.
Bobbi finally managed to stop crying, but she continued to cuddle close to her father. She was reluctant to let go of him, because she suspected as soon as she wasn't in his arms or in his presence, she'd immediately find something that would lead to her getting into trouble again. Despite her recent sour attitude, she really didn't like upsetting him.
"Why don't we sit and watch a movie together?" Coulson suggested, still holding his daughter close. "We can cuddle up together on here...spend the time together."
"I'd like that, daddy..." Bobbi whispered, nuzzling against his chest and not making any other move than to agree with him. It was the most pliant and submissive she'd been since beginning to age up again; she was leaving everything to him, including when she'd get up off his lap.
Coulson kissed her head and settled them both more comfortably on the bed, cuddling his daughter close.
Bobbi snuggled, content to remain in her father's arms for as long as he'd allow.
Kara looked at her father once her cousin Bobbi had been led off like a prisoner going to her execution. She bit her lip. "Bobbi's in trouble again, ain't she?" she asked softly, unable to keep her childish curiosity contained and therefore ignoring the unspoken family rule that punishments weren't discussed between family members unless it was the one being punished who brought it up.
Fury gently squeezed his daughter's shoulder. "Her father will take care of her," he responded. "You don't need to worry."
"Why's she keep getting into trouble, though? She's grown up now! Shouldn't she be back to normal?" Kara's childish question betrayed her own worry that she would never be 'back to normal'.
Gabe was sitting nearby and listening in. "She's back to her normal size, Kar-bear..." he said quietly, smiling at the girl. "...Unfortunately, sometimes it takes other stuff a bit longer to catch up. All the chemicals and stuff in her body are all churning and mixed up and confused and it is making her that way too. Sadly, I know how she feels. I get that way when I don't exercise enough... or play enough. Starting to feel that way now, to be honest. Think you can help me with that?" he asked her seriously.
Kara blinked at having someone other than her father answer her question. She slanted her head, staring at Gabe. "You're all confused and mixed up inside?" she finally asked hesitantly.
"Everyone gets that way sometimes..." Gabe nodded. "...And with everything happening lately, I haven't been doing all the things I usually do to help me not get that way...so I am a little mixed up and confused..." he admitted. "...Maybe if we play a game together, it will help a little?"
Kara glanced at Fury, as if seeking his approval or input.
Fury smiled reassuringly at Kara and then looked at Gabe. "What do you have in mind?" he asked, quite happy for the opportunity to spend time with both his daughter and one of his sons.
"I'd like to get to know my family a little bit better." Gabe smiled. "So maybe a game that lets us find out about each other would be good..."
Kara perked up, grinning. "Like Truth or Dare? Or Twenty-Questions? Or Have You Ever?"
Gabe nodded. "Something like that..."
"Do either of you have a preference?" Fury asked, figuring that if they decided on Truth or Dare, he'd implement some ground rules.
"Truth or Dare!" Kara quickly answered. She already had some things in mind for if her father took a dare.
Gabe laughed. "That's okay with me..." he said, giving Fury a smile.
Fury smiled at his children. "Within reason," he commented, wrapping an arm around Kara's shoulders and reaching out to gently squeeze Gabe's arm.
"Okay, daddy!" Kara quickly agreed, smiling when Gabe nodded just as quickly.
"Which one of you would like to go first?" Fury asked.
"Me!" Kara jumped up and down on her seat. "Daddy... Truth or Dare?" She began the game with a laugh.
May finished her paperwork with a sigh, leaning back and stretching. She'd found herself in charge of training some of the newer recruits to the 'new' SHIELD and the paperwork detailing their experience and how they were progressing had taken longer than she liked. Luckily, since the 'new' SHIELD complex was above the family compound, she never needed to go too far to teach her trainees. Sometimes, though, it was a bit awkward having non-family in such close proximity to their home. She'd never tell Bobbi, of course, but her niece's little temper-tantrum the other day had been witnessed by a few of the newer recruits that didn't realize what exactly had happened to the deaged members of the family. They'd been shocked to see 'Agent Morse' fighting against 'Director Coulson' so vehemently. They'd been even more shocked to witness said director turning his agent over his knee and turning her backside red. May hadn't realized at first that the trainees had seen...so when they began acting nervous and had been quick to do whatever they were told without question, when they'd been the type to ask a LOT of questions, she'd been confused. Finally, one of the small group had been designated spokesperson and he had come up and asked her point blank if they had to worry about the Director turning them over his knee if they messed up, his face bright red as he asked. She'd explained the situation as clearly as she could without giving away family secrets or saying anything that would make things more difficult for Bobbi later... And she warned those who had seen not to ever say anything to Bobbi or the Director about what they'd seen, unless they did want to experience it first hand.
Shaking her head, she chuckled tiredly to herself. Maybe she should warn Phil. Just in case one of the trainees decided to push his or her luck.
Skye, Hope and Danny had been talking about doing something together. Danny wasn't as out of touch as he had been when he first came back (after things with Ward had taken a turn for the better, his best friend had been instrumental in helping him adjust faster), but there was still a lot he hadn't seen or caught up on.
It was Skye who had been promoted to spokesperson to see if their mother would like to join and, leaving her siblings in one of the family rooms, she headed to May's office and knocked lightly on the door.
"Come in..." May called out, the tiredness in her voice clear.
Skye opened the door and slipped into the office. "Are you okay, Mom?" she asked, noticing the tiredness. "Maybe it's time to take a break?" she asked hopefully.
May looked up and gave her daughter a welcoming smile. "You know. I think you may be right. The trainee reports can wait another few hours..." She straightened up the paperwork and set it in her tray on the desk, standing up and stretching till her bones popped. "Definitely time to take a break." She chuckled. "What are you and your brother and sister doing?" she asked cheerfully.
"We were talking about a movie or game that Danny hasn't experienced before...there are quite a few," Skye answered. "We wanted to see if you'd like to come join."
"I believe I will. What kind of games are you thinking of?" May walked to her daughter and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"We wanted to all choose together," Skye answered, leaning into her mother.
"Well, let's join the others so we can choose. Maybe before we start, we can get some snacks together too..." May led her daughter out and toward where the family usually gathered for games and such.
Skye nodded. "Sounds good to me," she said agreeably.
May walked into the family room and glanced around, smiling at Hope and Danny. She noticed Ward walking their way as well and nodded at him.
Ward stopped a few feet from Danny and shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other. "I...I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" he asked hesitantly. He'd planned to see if Danny wanted to spend a little time together, since they hadn't had a chance to talk for a few days.
Danny grinned at his best friend and moved over to give Ward some room to sit down. "We were talking about watching a movie or playing a game, if you'd like to join in," he said, clearly happy to see Ward.
"That sounds like fun. Dad is playing Truth or Dare with Kara and Gabe and I figured it'd be a good time for us to hang out..." Ward said tentatively, looking toward his cousins and aunt to make certain they didn't mind.
May smiled. "Of course you're welcome to join us..."
Skye nodded quickly. "We haven't decided what we're doing yet, so feel free to put your vote in."
"Anything that lets us talk at the same time is good by me...so game?" Ward suggested.
"Sounds great." Danny smiled. "Come sit next to me."
Hope moved over to one of the cupboards. "We've got a lot to choose from..."
"Does anyone have a preference which one we play?" May asked curiously, as she looked at the stack of games Hope had retrieved.
"I don't..." Ward answered.
Danny shrugged. "I'm good with any of the games." He sat a bit closer to his cousin.
"Well, looks like it's up to you two!" Ward grinned at Hope and Skye.
"How about this one?" Hope picked up one of the games.
"Sounds good to me." Skye moved to help set it up.
Ward smiled at his cousins and then shifted so he was bumping shoulders with Danny. "I'm glad you talked me into coming here..." he admitted quietly, before paying attention to the game.
Wade was draped over Colossus's lap, hanging over the side of the bed so that the only thing keeping him from falling head-first onto the floor was his brother's arm draped across his legs. "So what does it say?" he asked the older mutant, curiosity and excitement in his voice. He couldn't believe some people had actually responded to his blog already.
Colossus had his brother as safe and secure over his lap as possible, his other hand resting on Wade's backside. "The first one's a comment saying you aren't alone...and that 'Green Arrow' is there if you want or need someone to talk to about what you need."
"Green Arrow?" Wade glanced over his shoulder at his brother before scrambling up to sit as close to Colossus as possible, reading what was on the screen. "Does he say anything else?" he asked curiously, even though he was perfectly capable of reading for himself. He liked when Colossus humored him and did things for him that he could do himself. Sometimes.
"That he has a brother who fulfills his needs just as well as I do yours," Colossus commented, wrapping his arm around Wade's shoulders.
Wade snuggled close, reading a little further.
When I'm in public, I have a lot of responsibility. In private, it's a relief to let my brother be in charge.
"Huh...Is that what I'm doing? Letting you be in charge of me? I thought I was just asking you to make my butt sore..." Wade gave Colossus a saucy grin.
Colossus huffed slightly in amusement. "Only when you want to be spanked. But youv'e gone over my knee at times you don't want to as well." He glanced a bit further down, noting the slightly different tone in the next sentence.
Taking care of my brother is perhaps the most important thing in my life. I can't imagine your brother feels much different.
Colossus found himself nodding along with the comment he read.
"That's true..." Wade admitted, with a sigh. "Sometimes you do spank me when I don't want it. I can admit I deserve it when you do that, though..." He could feel his brother nodding and glanced at the screen again. "Do you feel the same?" he asked hesitantly, not wanting to sound hopeful, but sounding that way all the same.
"Without any doubt," Colossus replied. "You are very important to me, Wade."
Wade smiled and snuggled closer yet. "You're important to me too..." he admitted bashfully, before quickly changing the subject. "I don't think we're completely like them, though..."
I fought it for a long time, but when I finally learned that it wasn't a bad thing to give in to my need...when I finally allowed myself to submit to my brother in everything...I finally felt peace. I'm slowly relearning how to do that and regaining what I lost when we were separated.
"I don't think that fits me at all..." Wade wrinkled his nose "...But still. It's nice that someone responded to the blog and added their own take on things."
Colossus kept Wade close enough that his brother might almost have been in his lap. "There are different parts of what you need and what he needs, but you've both got someone for those needs," he commented.
"Yes...if we all were like me, it would be very annoying..." Wade nodded, snuggling against his brother as he kept reading.
"There is only one of you," Colossus commented, his tone fond, before drawing his brother's attention to the next response to his post.
Wade became slightly more subdued when he read the next post. It was very close to what had occurred between Colossus and himself. "This Bat Guy says that he had never thought he wanted, let alone needed, what he and his Dom have. That his Dom stepped in because he was going to get himself killed if someone didn't stop him..." he whispered, knowing part of the reason his brother stepped in was because he seemed to be trying to find a way to get himself killed. Even if he couldn't die by normal methods. "Did I scare you, Big Guy?" He sounded genuinely worried.
Colossus wrapped both of his arms around his brother. "It seemed to me that you were seeking out ways of destroying yourself. And even before I took you in hand, I did not want that to happen," he said, in what was, for him, a quiet voice.
Wade sighed, tightening his own arms around the behemoth. "I think I was, really...Not that I would have admitted it to anyone, let alone myself..." He glanced at the computer screen. "...Now I think first...try and find ways where I can be me without destroying myself. You did that, Big Guy..."
He read aloud, "...I never asked for or wanted to be taken in hand, but once the Man of Steel had made his decision regarding my behavior, I had no choice. And now, I'd choose him stepping in every time. I need him and what he does for me."
He looked up at Colossus with a crooked smile. "I know how he feels..." he said quietly.
Colossus smiled and tightened his arms around Wade, noticing another part that had been added:
If I didn't have my little one in my life, it would be a lot darker. I have someone to protect and take care of and who I would never want to let down.
"The same as me with you, Wade," Colossus said out loud.
My Verndari is more than my Dom...he is family. I can't imagine him not being part of my life now. Even if I outgrow my need for danger (and the need for him to protect me from myself), I will never be at a point where I don't need him in my life.
"Strong sentiment...I know how he feels, though." Wade snuggled closer. "Even if I never need you to spank me ever again, I'll still need you around..." he admitted. "I'd miss you too much if you weren't."
"You do not need to worry, Wade," Colossus said seriously. "You will never have to worry about me leaving you. Being out of your life. And I hope I will never have to worry about the same."
"You're stuck with me, Big Guy. As long as you want me." Wade's declaration was firm. He had no intention of ever leaving. "You want to write a response to both of them? Or ask a question to encourage other people to post?" Wade asked curiously.
"For always," Colossus responding, before raising his big, unwieldy hands and commenting wryly, "You will have to type for me, little brother."
Wade grinned. "Just tell me what you want to say!" He prepared to type.
Colossus thought about that for a moment. "That having my brother in my life gives it more meaning than if he was not there, even if he does consistently misbehave and earn himself a trip over my knee." The last was said in a more teasing tone.
Wade giggled and typed what his brother said, word for word. "I guess I should admit that I like when I'm over your knee...because it makes me feel safe and like I belong..." he said, a little more seriously. He glanced at Colossus from the corner of his eye.
"You should put whatever you feel comfortable with, Wade," Colossus said seriously.
Wade posted what he'd just admitted to his brother before powering off the computer and turning toward Colossus. "It's true, you know. I feel safe and like I really belong when you have hold of me..." He smiled crookedly. "The spanking helps with my need to feel...for pain...but it's you having me that helps the most..." he finished, in a whisper.
"Is that what you need now?" Colossus asked, watching his brother closely. He shifted enough to allow Wade to move into whatever position he needed to.
Wade nodded silently before slowly, in case Colossus objected, moving so that he was draped over his brother's lap again. This time, his head wasn't hanging upside down and his backside was in better position for attention. "Thanks, Big Guy," he whispered, then waited for Colossus to realize he was wearing footed one-piece pajamas.
Colossus held his brother in place with one hand, while his other gently raised the flap of the pajamas to bare Wade's backside.
Wade bit his lip and shifted slightly as he felt the cold air ghosting over his backside; but he visibly relaxed as well, letting his brother know through body language that he needed Colossus's help and attention.
Colossus kept his one arm over Wade's back, holding his brother in place, before he lifted his other hand, bringing it down in a smack that was stinging rather than truly hard.
Wade gave a tiny jerk as his brother's hand connected with his backside and then he let out a sigh of relief and slumped, giving a happy whimper. He hadn't been lying. Being over Colossus's knee? His brother's large hand gripping him close and tight so that he couldn't get away, while his other large hand covered his bottom? A feeling of safety and belonging overcame him and even though it didn't take long for the sting to build up, it made him feel good. Wanted. "Thank you..." he whispered, between tiny whimpers.
"I love you, Wade." Colossus' voice was completely sincere as he continued to swat his brother's backside, keeping a careful control of his strength and watching Wade's reactions carefully to make sure he knew when it was getting too much.
"...Love you too, Big Guy..." Wade admitted, wriggling just a little as the sting began to build and not go away. He was never fully satisfied until his bottom was a hot, angry red; both in color and in temperature. He liked when he could feel his brother's attention at least an hour after he'd received it; and given his body's quick healing factor, it often took a while to reach that point. Still...he tried not to push or beg for things to continue once Colossus had decided he'd had enough. They may not have exactly the same type of relationship as the Bat guy and his Verndari, or the Arrow guy and his Koro, but Wade respected Colossus more than he respected almost anyone and when he was in this position? His brother was the one in charge. Not Wade. Even so, he tried to encourage more swats by pushing his bottom up so that the pajamas shifted and exposed more backside for attention.
Colossus continued to swat, shifting his hand just enough that his palm also landed on Wade's sit spots and thighs; not just in the same place all the time. He made sure Wade was fully secure over his lap and in no danger of falling.
Wade closed his eyes and just focused on the grip his brother had on him and the feeling of his hand covering his bottom with the stinging swats. He lost track of the time, not noticing when his tiny whimpers of appreciation became tiny hisses, moans and whines. It wasn't that he wasn't still appreciating his brother's actions- he was- but it had gone beyond that. All he could focus on was his brother controlling him, how safe and wanted it made him feel, how good it felt as he became more and more sore. He couldn't see the color of his backside, but he could feel the heat and he knew he'd be able to feel his brother's 'love' for him everytime he sat for at least the next hour. He smiled and was surprised to find that he'd begun crying softly, quietly, at some point. He hadn't realized.
Colossus could hear Wade's tears, even if they were quiet, and he paused the spanking, resting his hand on his brother's bottom and lower back. He didn't want to push Wade beyond his limits, even if he did know that was what his brother tended to want.
Wade took a quivery breath and let out a tiny whine of protest that Colossus had stopped. But he didn't beg him to keep going. Colossus tended to know when enough was enough; Wade would have him spank until he couldn't walk after, if Wade had control over it. Wade didn't know if he'd reached the point where Colossus would decide he'd got enough, or if his brother would give him just a few more minutes, but he wouldn't argue over the decision. Even if he wanted to, he didn't think he could. He felt so safe and cared about and the endorphins were clouding his thinking.
Colossus kept his hand on Wade's bottom, moving his palm enough so that he was rubbing, at least as gently as was possible with how big and heavy his hand was. He continued to carefully watch Wade's reactions, so he'd know what his brother needed and not what Wade just wanted.
Wade whimpered softly at the gentleness. By this point, his bottom was so hot and stinging that the rubbing was just as effective as the smacking had been for the pain he sought. And oddly enough, it was better at helping him feel Colossus's control over him and the situation (probably because he hadn't asked his brother to be gentle. That was completely Colossus's decision.) He slumped the rest of the way over his brother's lap, seemingly completely boneless. He wasn't zoned out yet, but he was close. It wouldn't take much to send him over the edge; the only thing holding him back was Colossus hadn't told him he could let go like that.
Colossus kept careful control over the rubbing and stroking, so there was no danger of scraping Wade's skin. "It is all right, brother," he said. "If you need to let go...I am here. I will not let you go."
Wade let out a tiny sigh at being given permission, Colossus making it clear he had everything under control, and let go, his body completely limp and the sounds he was expelling making it clear he wasn't in control of anything any longer. He was giving himself entirely into Colossus's care.
Colossus kept his hands on Wade, gently touching or stroking, keeping careful control of his strength; and a careful watch over his brother.
Wade was barely aware of what was going on around him- he trusted Colossus to keep him safe, after all- but he was aware enough to hear and feel his brother. "...You're a good big brother..." he mumbled, in a loopy voice.
"And you are a good little brother," Colossus replied, his voice sincere, as he continued to observe and give Wade attention.
"Never trust anyone to keep me safe like you...only listen an obey you..." he whispered again, in the same loopy tone, sounding like he'd had one drink too many, but not enough to knock him out.
"Good. That makes me happy to hear." Colossus kept his hands in place, gently stroking and touching, careful to make sure his brother was safe and comfortable.
Wade trusted Colossus implicitly, so it wouldn't surprise him later when he found out he fell asleep over his brother's knee.
The truth or dare game had finished and Fury, noticing his daughter was getting a bit antsy, suggested they take some food to the tree house with the rest of his children, asking Friday to pass the message along before heading outside with Gabe and Kara.
Kara was excited. "We're going to have a snack-nic at my favorite treehouse!" she exclaimed to Trip, Ward, Brock and Robbie when they all finally caught up to her, Gabe and their father.
"A snack-nic?" Trip asked with a wrinkled nose, his confusion obvious.
Giggling, Kara explained. "We aren't going to eat enough for it to count as dinner, because we're eating dinner with everyone else. It's just a snack. Outside in the treehouse. A Snack-nic!"
Brock chuckled. "Works for me..."
"I like that. I'll have to remember it..." Gabe teased his new sister gently.
Robbie laughed. "I wonder if we could get the rest of the family to start using the name, too," he joked.
"Use it around Tony, Peter and Scott. I guarantee one or all of them will take it up and pretty soon it will be a new word in the family vocabulary..." Trip smiled.
Kara danced around in place. "We're here! I wanna go up in the lift with Gabe!" she added, as she got behind her brother's chair and carefully began to try and maneuver him into the lift they'd included on this particular treehouse so that he would be able to join in on any fun.
Gabe didn't tell her yes or no, leaving that to their father to decide. He did 'help' her maneuver him into position, though; making sure that he controlled where he went when she pushed too hard, or gave the wheels an extra bit of muscle push when she was having difficulty. It likely would have been easier to get himself into position without her help, or let Fury assist him, but Kara wanted to help and he'd found himself unable to say no to the young girl.
"You can go up with Gabe; just make sure you're careful," Fury said, after glancing at his son to make sure Gabe was okay with that.
"I will be, daddy!" Kara chirped, getting in behind the wheelchair and carefully closing the 'gate' that they'd up in place for safety. She then handed Gabe the rope that they would need to pull on in order to lift themselves up. It was completely muscle-powered.
Gabe grinned and began to pull on the rope, the pulley system easing the platform slowly up. By the time they'd reached the landing of the treehouse and Kara had applied the 'brake' so that the platform would stay in place, everyone else had climbed the ladder and was waiting inside. He carefully maneuvered off the platform and into the room, glancing through the window. "It's a really pretty view..." he said softly. "...Thanks for making it so I can enjoy it too..." He smiled at Kara, knowing that even though all the family had a part in making sure he could be included, it had been very important to her. She'd been insistent they have a way for him to get into the 'twee', even after everyone had agreed.
Kara just beamed at him before running over to the other window and leaning out as far as she could, her toes the only part of her feet touching the floor. "We're way up high!" She giggled, not noticing how all of her brothers all took steps toward her to catch her if she leaned out too far.
"Just as well we built all the tree mansions as sturdy as possible," Robbie commented, stepping next to Gabe.
Fury moved closer to Kara, making sure she was in no danger of falling. "When it's a bit warmer, perhaps we can bring blankets and pillows and sleep up here," he commented.
Kara moved so fast, it made Trip dizzy to watch her. One minute, she was hanging out the window, the next, she was spun around and hugging Fury's waist in a death-grip, bouncing in place and saying, "Please? I wanna sleep in the trees!" and giggling.
"Ack... did you mean to rhyme?" Brock teased gently, as he carefully placed their 'snack-nic' on the blanket Ward had carefully placed on the floor.
"I'm sure it can be arranged." Fury moved her over to sit on the blanket, shifting so that the rest of his children could fit on there as well.
"Maybe when everyone isn't so grumpy and getting into trouble so much..." Kara sighed, sitting to Fury's right and snuggling against him. While the family attempted to keep discipline matters private and quiet, and despite the fact that the compound was built well, it wasn't soundproof. She was worried about her cousin Bobbi, even if she didn't say so.
"We may not have to wait..." Ward said cautiously, sitting on Fury's other side and giving his father a questioning look. "...We don't necessarily have to wait for the others to do it. And it might help those having problems with their tempers if they got out of the building for longer than a few moments..."
Trip helped Gabe out of the wheelchair so that he could sit next to Kara and then motioned for Robbie to sit on Gabe's other side before sitting down next to Robbie. "It might help...we could mention it to our uncles..."
Brock settled down between Trip and Ward. "I think it's a good idea, but we'll need to finish building more treehouses if the whole family is going to do it." He bit into an apple.
Fury nodded. "It's worth bringing up, if nothing else. And maybe certain people's energy will be better spent working on the treehouses," he commented.
Robbie sat down next to Gabe and began to automatically plate up some food for them both. "I think it's a good idea," he commented.
Kara smiled, but she was obviously still worried...or thinking about something...because she continued to snuggle as close to Fury as possible and didn't even pick up a cupcake, let alone any of the other food.
"You okay, Kar-bear?" Brock asked, with a hint of worry.
"Yeah..." Kara sighed, but it was obvious she was hiding something.
Fury gently moved her into his lap. "What's on your mind?" he pushed, keeping his tone light and encouraging.
Kara snuggled closer still, putting her head on Fury's chest. "Do...do you think maybe Bobbi is so grumpy because she's remembering stuff she had forgotten and she just doesn't know how to tell her daddy about it?" she asked hesitantly.
"Maybe." Stroking her hair, Fury asked softly, "Is that what's happening to you?"
"I'm not grumpy, daddy!" Kara defended herself with a tiny giggle, before snaking her arms around him in a tight hug that told more than words, that that was exactly what was happening to her.
Fury wrapped his arms tightly around her. "But you're remembering things you'd forgotten?" he probed gently.
"Maybe..." Kara said hesitantly, obviously needing to tell her father, but afraid to put voice to what she was 'remembering'.
Trip frowned faintly. "Are they scary memories?" he asked softly.
Kara just nodded quickly and hid her face against Fury's chest.
Robbie reached over and gently placed a hand on his sister's back. "You're with family. You're safe. You can tell us."
Biting her lip, Kara gave Robbie a tiny smile before looking up at her father's chin. "I... I 'membered my first daddy. And mommy..." she whispered. "...Least, I think they were my first ones. I called them mommy and daddy anyway. And a big brother. John." She sniffled and shivered slightly.
Brock hated to see her so uncertain and nervous. "It's okay, sweetie. Whatever it is, we aren't going to be mad at you. We'll help if we can..."
Fury tightened his arms around Kara, though he was careful not to dislodge Robbie's hand. "What happened? Do you remember?" He kept his voice soft and gentle, holding her close.
"I... I was in a house. I was hiding with some other people... I think I was grown-up this time... and everyone was nervous. And then there was a knock on the door that made everyone really nervous... and I went to answer it. And... and it was mommy and daddy and John... and I... I think they weren't supposed to be there, because... because I asked why they were there. How did they find me? And... and I told them they had to go away because it was dangerous to be near me..." Kara swallowed hard. "...And they just laughed and... and daddy and John killed all the others that were with me and... and... mommy, she... she s..stabbed me with something... and... and..." Kara quivered, then began crying.
Trip's face was shocked, and he looked up into his father's face. "Do... do you think it's an actual memory, or maybe she's mixing memories up?" He hoped it wasn't a real memory. She was obviously remembering the day that HYDRA had stormed her safe-house and grabbed her. If her family showing up and doing what she said was true... it meant her family had betrayed her.
Ward reached over, placing a hand on Kara's head, gently petting her hair. He knew better than most how it felt to be betrayed and used by someone who was supposed to love and protect you, always.
Brock just clenched his fists and took deep breaths to calm down.
Gabe reached over, placing a hand on her arm, trying to give support, even though he didn't know what to say.
Robbie gently stroked Kara's back, squeezing her shoulder, his own eyes narrowed with worry. "You're safe now," he whispered quietly to her.
Fury tightened his arms around her, saying quietly to Trip, "We can look into it," before adding to his daughter, "Robbie's right. You're safe here, with us. With the whole family..."
"Why would they hurt me?" She continued to cry. "Why would they hurt my friends?" There was no doubt in her mind that it was a real memory. It hurt too much to be fake.
"No one will hurt you or your friends again...or your family," Fury whispered to her. "I promise."
Kara sniffled and continued to snuggle against her father, but she did manage to stop crying and she gave her brothers a tiny, sad smile. 'I love you all..." she whispered.
"We love you too, Kar-bear..." Brock answered for all of them, his voice gruff, before he cleared his throat and swallowed.
"Very much so," Fury said.
Kara calmed almost as quickly as she'd got upset and, snuggling against her father a few more moments, she finally straightened up and reached for one of the cupcakes. She gave her father a sideways look to see if he told her to eat something healthy first, or if he'd allow her the sweet first; since she'd been crying and all. Now that she'd told her family about her memory, she wasn't nearly as bothered by it as she had been.
"After you've eaten that, I want you to eat something healthy," Fury said firmly, unable to help but indulge her a little bit.
Kara smiled brightly. "Okay, daddy..." she easily agreed, before beginning to eat her treat.
Trip chuckled softly. The look of concern was still on his face and his eyes were sad, but he couldn't help but smile at his little sister. He knew that as soon as they returned to the compound, at least one, if not all, of the family would begin looking into what Kara had described.
Fury kept one arm wrapped around her as he reached out to fill a plate with said healthy food, looking around at his sons to make sure they were all feeling okay as well.
Ward let out a tiny sigh as he saw that his sister was feeling good enough to eat. He put enough healthy food on his plate that his father wouldn't comment, but since he knew they'd be eating dinner later as well, he didn't put too much on his plate. Unlike Kara, who would likely expend a lot of energy before dinner and needed the extra fuel, he'd be on the computer when they returned. He didn't want to overeat.
"So...is there anything else you're remembering? That you want to tell us?" Gabe asked hesitantly, not wanting to upset her again, but figuring if there was more stuff, she needed to get it out into the open before it festered inside her.
Kara shook her head. "Nope. That was it. It's not as scary now... that you know..." She bit her lip and gave her brothers then her father a tiny smile. Finishing the cupcake, she began to eat off of the plate that her father had put together.
"But if you do remember... and anything else scares you... you can talk to any of us about it," Fury promised.
"Okay, daddy..." Kara easily agreed, licking her fingers, then snuggling close to Fury again. She'd eaten all she felt like and now she just wanted to cuddle and be with her family.
Gabe smiled at his sister before finishing up what was on his plate.
"Looks like someone could use a nap..." Brock said in a teasing voice, noticing how Kara was snuggling- and yawning- against their father.
Fury smiled down at her and then around at the rest of his children. "Do any of you have any objections to going back inside the compound?"
Robbie shrugged. "I'm good to head back inside."
"I'm good to do that too...I have some things I want to look up..." Gabe said cryptically, although all the brothers and likely Fury knew what he planned to look for. "Wanna help me get back into my chair?" he asked Robbie and Trip, who were closer to him than the others.
"Of course." Trip moved to help the younger man back into the wheelchair.
Robbie also moved to help Gabe into the chair so he could go back into the pulley.
Once safely in his chair, Gabe quickly wheeled himself into the lift. He noted that Kara was nearly asleep by this point, in her father's arms. "You want to ride down with me, sir? So you don't have to wake her up?" he asked quietly.
Fury nodded. "As long as you're okay with that." He carefully moved into the lift with his son. "Later on, after dinner, you can let me know any thoughts you've had about what you'd like to do," he suggested quietly.
"I think I already have an idea..." Gabe said quietly, giving Fury a smile before closing the safety gate and beginning to lower them down to ground level. He didn't say anything further on the subject, figuring he could share with his father later, when Kara wasn't asleep.
The others were waiting for them when they reached the ground and exited the lift. Brock quickly moved behind Gabe to push his wheelchair, Ward walking beside him.
"Want to meet in my room? To research?" Ward asked.
"Sounds good to me," Brock and Gabe answered at the same time.
Trip kept quiet for the moment. He wasn't certain if he'd go research with his brothers, or if he'd try and find out if any of the other 'kids' were remembering things they hadn't remembered before. Since no-one had lost their adult memories, he was a bit curious as to what had happened to trigger his sister's memory; and if they should be worried about it.
Fury gently squeezed each of his sons' shoulders and then carried Kara to his room, so he could tuck her into bed.
"Let me know if you find anything," Robbie requested of his brothers, figuring he'd pop into the family room for a few moments.
"Will do!" Gabe waved at his brother before heading off to join Ward and Brock in Ward's room.
Trip watched everyone walk away, then quietly followed Robbie to the family room. He didn't have any particular idea on how he'd broach his question to the others and wanted to think about it a bit more before doing so.
The television was on in the family room and Robbie glanced at it automatically, noticing the news feed on. He paused and narrowed his eyes, feeling something beginning to stir within him. Without a word, he quickly left the room, heading to the garage.
Trip frowned as Robbie pushed past him without a word or even seeming to notice him. He glanced at the television, noting what the news was broadcasting, then took off at a run to catch up with his brother. Robbie hadn't said anything...indicated anything...but if what Trip suspected was about to happen...
The outward change, Robbie could hold off for a few seconds. But by the time he'd reached the garage, the Ghost Rider was fully in control. And the moment he got behind the wheel, the transformation was complete.
Trip ran into the garage but pulled up short at seeing the Rider behind the wheel of Robbie's car. He didn't know enough about the demon to know if he dared try and stop it now that it was fully in control, or even if he could. "Do you have to go?" he finally yelled out, loudly enough the Rider would hear him. He could only hope it would cause the creature to pause enough that Robbie could come back into control. If he didn't and the Rider decided to leave anyway, Trip would just have to wait for Robbie to return and hope for the best. He cared about his brother, but he wasn't going to endanger himself to stop him; especially not when all signs indicated that the Rider wouldn't harm Robbie.
The car engine revved, but the Rider turned its head in Trip's direction, indicating he'd been heard. The hesitation was long enough for Robbie to wrest back the control and he slumped as his visage returned to normal, hands clenching around the wheel.
Trip quickly ran over to the car, opening the door and reaching over his brother to turn off the ignition and pocket the keys. "You okay, kid?" he finally asked, once he was certain Robbie couldn't easily take off. He put a hand on his brother's shoulder and squeezed gently.
Robbie nodded, taking a deep breath. "Yeah...I think so..."
"What happened?" Trip asked, a little more firmly, once he was certain Robbie was okay and not just pretending. "I thought you were going to try and warn us if there were potential triggers around so we could help you..."
Robbie winced and rubbed the back of his neck. "It was the news report," he admitted. "I... didn't think about the news."
"So, we need to keep you away from the news? Or is it a specific type of news?" Trip asked for more information, rather than beginning to scold immediately. He wanted to find out everything he could while this incident was still fresh in Robbie's mind, since the younger man would be more likely to recall things they needed to be aware of when it was at the top of his thoughts. After he had all the information? Well...Robbie should have warned them about news being a potential trigger. If only so that they could try and filter it for him as much as was logical.
"I..." Robbie frowned. "Things in progress are the worst. Already happened...not so much. Not unless those responsible are still out there and known. Or at least suspected."
"So... as long as it isn't a live action report, we can assume that you should be safe from triggers for the most part. But if it is live, we should keep you away from the TV. Only feed you the most necessary information," Trip responded.
"Yeah." Robbie sighed. "I guess that about covers it."
"If you had told us of this when we first asked you, we could have had Friday monitoring the television...You wouldn't have almost been dragged off to who knows where into a place where you may have been taken from us..." Trip said softly, though his voice was stern and a small bit disappointed. Maybe Robbie hadn't considered news as a potential trigger...though Trip wasn't certain how something that caused you to lose control of yourself and let a demon take over wouldn't be something you'd consider.
Robbie winced. "It's been safe here. So far. I didn't even think of it," he admitted quietly. "I'm sorry."
Trip nodded. "I know. But when we asked you, it wasn't meant to be a one-time only question. It was meant to get you thinking in the hopes that if you thought of anything later, you could come to any of us at any time and let us know. Even if you feel safe and don't think the warning is necessary. Are there any other potential triggers you have that aren't likely to occur here but are still triggers? So, we can prepare, just in case?" He kept his voice calm and the disappointment was easing into fond concern. Mistakes happened after all. Although if Robbie acted as if his worries were unfounded and brushed off his question, he might step in anyway.
Robbie frowned. "Newspaper articles are mostly all right, but those can occasionally be triggers too."
"Does it help if someone else reads it and then tells you what occurred? Without pictures? Or is there a specific type of news that sets it off?" Trip continued, gently rubbing Robbie's shoulder as he questioned him.
"It's not something I ever thought about before," Robbie admitted. "I know... it can be a trigger. I just tried to close myself off from the news or anything else that might have triggered it before."
"Well, closing yourself off to the news completely won't help you much. Because there is always the chance you're going to hear something, no matter what you do, unless you close yourself off to people; which isn't an option. I suppose the best we can do is have Friday monitor the TV and make certain that someone else reads the newspaper before you, so that if there is something particularly disturbing that might draw his attention, you don't read it without warning." Trip sighed. "Are you sure there isn't any other trigger we need to be careful of?"
"I don't always know what triggers it," Robbie said. "I can't always... come back. Not until he's done. What Kara said didn't trigger it... but that could be because of the lack of information."
Trip gave Robbie a suspicious look when he mentioned what Kara had told them. Why would he have even brought that up if it didn't trigger? "So… you think the more information you have about certain things, the more likely he is to show up? Like... if you hear about someone being murdered, it won't trigger him, but if you hear details of the murder and that they caught the murderer and who they are, it would trigger him?"
Robbie nodded. "But he's more likely to go after a known bad guy who hasn't been caught, or who got let off, than a murderer who has been and is awaiting sentencing."
"So... if they know who the perpetrator is but are trying to get information on tracking them down...he'd be triggered into trying to locate them?" Trip's worry grew. If the Rider was the type to 'search' and 'destroy', his brother might disappear one day and not return for months at a time. He didn't like that possibility.
Robbie shook his head. "No. It's like... people from the mob. Those who get off. He doesn't hunt. Just goes straight in for the kill."
Trip blinked. "So, it's more like if the person is obviously guilty, but gets off on a technicality. Or everyone knows they are guilty, but for some reason, the law can't touch them?" He relaxed a little bit more. Maybe his brother wouldn't disappear for months at a time. Maybe.
Robbie nodded. "At least that's what I know about him to date."
Trip nodded. "I think I know what triggered him this time, then..." He thought about the news bulletin they'd seen. "So basically, we just have Friday and everyone else monitor for news that indicates someone who was guilty of something horrible got off without punishment. But if you think of anything else that might possibly set him free, let me or dad know. Okay?"
"Yeah." Robbie nodded. "I'll make sure I do that."
Trip nodded. "He asleep now?" he asked curiously, quietly.
"I'm not sure if he's ever truly 'asleep'," Robbie answered, "but he's gone back under, at least."
Trip nodded. "Okay, well...why don't we go find our brothers? On the way, I can let Friday know what to look out for while monitoring communications that you will see." He stepped back and held a hand out for Robbie to get out of the car.
Robbie took Trip's hand, letting his brother help him out of the car, and nodded. "Sounds good to me."
It didn't take them long to be back inside the living area of the compound and not much longer to inform Friday of the precautions they needed to take, in regards to what news Robbie was exposed to. They then went to find their brothers.
In the family room, Karen was sitting on one side of Sam, while Matt was laid out next to her, his head on her lap. She was carding her fingers through his hair. It was the first time in several days where her brother was actually calm and not mouthing off to everyone in sight. She supposed she should be grateful he wasn't running off and doing dangerous things every chance he got, like their cousin, but she was fairly certain if he didn't curb his tongue, he was going to take his words one step too far and get into trouble with their dad.
Yo-Yo sat on Sam's other side, Luke next to her. Unfortunately, she and Luke had been the recipients of most of Matt's vitriol. Only the fact that they both realized how difficult it was for their brother had enabled them not to react negatively toward him. And they both suspected that he was jealous that he now had to share his father, even if he'd liked the idea of being related to them when it was first brought up. Matt's muttering something caught her attention.
"Can't believe someone is copying Petey's moves. He won't be happy about that..." Matt may not have been watching the TV, but he could certainly hear everything that was said on it.
Surprised, Sam glanced at the screen, narrowing his eyes in worry. "There's another Spider-Man out there?" Could it be a copy-cat? Another vigilante? It obviously wasn't their Peter. He was aging up, but he still wasn't the right height. And his father was keeping an eye on him, as aging up just meant he was even more prone to mischief and getting in places he shouldn't be.
"...He stopped some guy calling himself Vulture. Least that's what the news said...although from the sounds of it, even though this Vulture guy admitted to selling dangerous weapons to criminals, they couldn't find enough evidence to keep him in jail and they can't use his confession because it was coerced... amateurs..." Matt muttered irritably, the lawyer in him cringing at how the whole thing had been handled.
"If he's still on the loose when you're back to your true age, perhaps you and Foggy could take a look," Sam suggested, hoping the prospect of a case would intrigue his son and hopefully stop Matt being so irritable.
"Depends on what charges they tried to bring against him this time. They can't try for the same thing if he was found innocent; double jeopardy. But it's a possibility..." Matt did sound interested...for a few seconds, at least. He huffed and went back to muttering under his breath at the news.
Karen supposed they should be grateful it was the news he was irritated with and not them. So much of his ire recently had been directed at them, specifically at their dad. She was quite honestly surprised he hadn't earned himself a mouth-soaping at the least, even if Sam wouldn't spank him for disrespect and general unpleasantness.
Yo-Yo wrinkled her nose. "Maybe we should investigate this copy-cat? They may be stopping bad guys right now, but..." She shrugged slightly.
"Without help, they could get themselves killed. Or they could get cocky and kill someone else accidently..." Luke added.
Sam nodded. "We can bring it up at dinner this evening. Decide what to do about him or her. See if Skye or Tony or someone else can get hold of any footage that might indicate where they are..."
"Yippee...poor kid's gonna find himself on a leash and not able to do anything he wants to do..." Matt grumbled.
Karen let out a silent sigh and shook her head.
Sam looked down at Matt, reaching over to lightly squeeze his shoulder. "I know you're not in a good mood, but don't take it out on your family."
"Why? Am I going to huwt theiw feewings?" Matt's voice dropped into an obnoxious, whiny baby tone.
Sam had let his son push, knowing things weren't easy on him or the others who had been deaged. But this was ongoing, and Matt was showing no sign of settling down. He stood up and began to draw Matt to his feet. "Okay, son. We're going to talk."
Matt put his hands over his ears. "...Blah blah blah...mwaa...mwaa...mwaaa..." he drawled out. "Sooorry, dad. Can't hear you..." he added in a sing-song tone, letting his body go completely limp so that Sam couldn't make him walk.
Karen's eyes widened. Matt had never been this disrespectful in all the time she'd known him. Even the last few days, he'd managed to retain a small level of respect. This? Was completely not normal for her brother. "Matty!" she said, in a scolding, scandalized tone.
Matt blushed but didn't apologize or get up to go with his father. He remained limp, sliding onto the floor, the only part of him not on the floor was his arm, where Sam still held him from his attempt to lead him out of the room.
Sam leaned down close to his son, saying in a very quiet voice, "Or I can put you over my knee in here."
Matt stiffened up slightly at hearing Sam's words, before getting to his feet with a huffing growl. "Fine! I'm going!" he grouched disagreeably, stomping in the direction he figured the bedrooms were and barely missing stepping on his sister's toes in the process.
Luckily, Karen had been watching and yanked her feet back before he could trip himself or squish her digits.
Sam moved behind his son, gently resting his hand on Matt's shoulder and squeezing lightly as he headed to his bedroom.
Matt stomped the entire way to Sam's room, muttering under his breath about stiff-necked military goons. If he'd stopped to think about what he was accusing his father of being, he would have been ashamed of himself. He certainly didn't believe what he was saying; he was just lashing out to make Sam as irritable and frustrated as he was.
Sam didn't say anything until they were inside his room with the door closed. Then, in an even tone, he said, "You don't seem able to control your smart mouth and attitude yourself, so you've earned a trip over my knee."
"What?! But that's not fair!" Matt spun around and whined. "You only spank us if we do dangerous stuff and I haven't got to do anything since I got shrunk!"
"You've been disrespectful, mouthy and rude. To me and to your new brother and sister," Sam said. "If I don't step in and put a stop to it, you'll end up saying something harder to take back that will really hurt someone." He still had his hand on Matt's shoulder and wasted no time in guiding his son to the bed, taking a seat and gently pulling Matt over his lap.
"They know I don't mean it!" Matt protested faintly, since he wasn't entirely sure they did know that. He noticeably didn't fight Sam leading him to the bed or putting him over his knee. "They know...don't they?" he asked, in a tinier voice, his hands automatically moving to hold onto Sam's leg in a death grip.
"Maybe they do." Sam wrapped an arm around Matt's waist, drawing his son tight against his stomach, before divesting him of his pants and underwear. "But it's also possible they think what you're saying is what you really mean."
Matt seemed to lose some of his defiance at that. "I... I said a lot of mean things to them... to you... You don't believe I meant them, do you?" This time, his voice was just a bit scared.
"I believe you're angry and frightened about the fact that your body is not doing what you want it to and lashing out because doing so is less scary." Sam gently rubbed his back for a moment or two. "I know this kind of behaviour isn't like you and so I try not to take it personally."
Matt swallowed. "But I was really mean..." he said quietly. Somehow just being over his father's knee had calmed his temper considerably.
"Which is not like you, kid." Sam lifted his hand, bringing it down in a swat that was more of a pat than anything else, and then repeated it. "Things are difficult for you at the moment, but I won't leave you alone."
Matt whimpered. The swat may not have been hard, but the fact he was getting swatted at all was difficult. It meant he'd been very naughty. Naughty enough for his father to decide to step in. That wasn't good, and he began to feel guilty as he thought about how nasty and disagreeable he'd been to his family; to those who loved and cared about him and didn't leave him alone, even though he was being so mean and disagreeable. "I'm sorry, daddy!" he blurted out, the guilt he was just beginning to feel clear in his voice. If there was one thing those who knew Matt well understood, though, it's that when he started feeling guilty, it took more than an apology for him to get over that guilt; he'd be feeling a lot guiltier before the spanking was through.
"I know, kid." Sam's voice was very gentle as he continued to swat down to Matt's thighs before starting over from the top. "And I've already forgiven you. I love you, kid. So very much."
"I love you too!" Matt's voice was tiny and afraid, as if he didn't think Sam would believe him. He tensed up as the second circuit began but didn't fight. By this time, he was feeling very guilty. "I'm sorry I was bad!"
"No, kid. You weren't bad." Sam began a third circuit of swats, going a fraction harder and faster. "You were disrespectful, mouthy, rude...not just to me, but to your siblings, too. But I know you're sorry. And I forgive you for being naughty."
"You forg... forgive me?" Matt's body was so tense, he was stiff, and his voice was tight and nervous.
"Of course I do, kid." Sam's voice was gentle and very sincere. "I love you. I would forgive you anything."
At those words, Matt went boneless and began to cry... loudly. "I'm sorry, daddy. I'm sorry!"
Sam brought the spanking to a stop and wasted no time in bringing Matt up into his arms, hugging his son tight and kissing the top of his head. "I love you, kid."
"I'm sorry... I don't want to be mean... I don't want to be naughty..." Matt continued to cry as he pressed as close to Sam as was physically possible. "I don't even know why I was being that way!" he wailed.
Sam stroked his son's hair. "Your emotions are all over the place. You're cramming years of growing up into a small amount of time. And it's okay. No one blames you for being a bit irritable."
"But I shouldn't be mean..." Matt sniffled, finally beginning to calm as he realized Sam wasn't letting go of him.
Sam kissed his head. "No. But if it happens again, you'll go over my knee. Get spanked. But also get forgiven," he promised.
Matt sniffled again, snuggling close. "I don't mean to be so angry..." he said, in a whisper. "I'm just always tired...I can't seem to help it... should a just gone to take a nap or something but didn't want you to know... and didn't think it'd help," he admitted, hiding his face against Sam's chest.
"If you still feel tired, maybe you can sleep in here and I'll stay with you," Sam said, tightening his embrace around his son.
"I'll just dream..." Matt said uneasily.
"That bothers you?" Sam prompted.
"I dream about when Stick was teaching me...he wanted me to become a warrior. To fight..." Matt swallowed. "Sometimes I dream of the accident that made me this way. All... all the chemicals spilling over me... burning... choking..." Matt shivered.
Sam tightened his embrace. "What about if I held you while you nap? Do you think that might help?"
"You won't let go?" Matt's voice was small and needy.
"I won't ever let go," Sam promised. "I'll hold you just as tight as I am right now."
"Okay... I love you, daddy..." Matt snuggled close and closed his eyes.
Sam carefully replaced his son's clothing and then, as promised, continued to hold Matt close and tight.
Pepper had been working very hard preparing for the wedding. She was determined that, as soon as everyone was back to normal, she and Tony would marry. So, when she received her first RSVP from the few individuals outside of the family compound that she invited, she was very excited. She ran into the dining room where Steve, her parents and all the other various members of her family sat, waiting for their takeout to arrive. "King T'Challa is coming to the wedding!" she shrieked.
Steve blinked, glancing towards his daughter, and couldn't help but smile. "There are no hard feelings about the refusal to sign the Accords, then?" he asked.
"It seems not... although, he didn't mention them in his reply, so..." Pepper grinned. "He has asked to bring his future queen and his sister with him."
Steve's smile grew a little wider. "That's up to you, of course, but we do have so many already going, I'm not sure two more will make a difference."
"Well, of course he needs to bring his fiancée. And his sister is the age of Pyro and Deacon, I believe, so it would be good for her to come as well..." And Pepper was distracted planning seating arrangements.
Tony just watched his fiancée fondly.
"Remember you don't have to do it all alone, sweetheart," Pepper's mother pointed out gently.
"Of course, I don't, Mommy! I was hoping to get your input on some things... " Pepper grinned and brought her planning book over, plopping it in front of her mother so she could start asking for opinions and suggestions.
Tony shook his head in amusement before looking up from his tablet. "Anyone find out anything more on this Spider-copy? Because apparently, Rhodey had to go out and save a ferry from sinking because he and this vulture guy started duking it out in the harbor..."
Steve frowned. "There's been a bit on the news about him. I noticed it before, but it started when everyone got deaged, so I couldn't do much except make it a priority to look into eventually."
"I must be a bit behind on my news, then, because this is the first I'm hearing about it..." Tony muttered, before doing a search. A few minutes of reading later and he whistled under his breath. "So, the Vulture's case got thrown out of court because the confession was 'coerced' and the other evidence was circumstantial? And they have no idea who the spider-copy-cat is, so can't even attempt to catch him? Maybe we should look into it. If they're... you know...splitting ferries in half and all."
"That's the first I've heard of it being on that level of destruction." Steve looked concerned. "I think you're right. Someone needs to look into it.
"Excuse me, Sirs..." Friday interrupted. "...But I began gathering and correlating data when Mr. Robbie had his incident earlier, on Mr. Trip's behalf. I have just forwarded everything to your tablets."
"Thank you, Friday." Steve immediately began to check the data the AI had forwarded.
By this point, everyone had converged on the dining room for dinner, so parents were reading tablets with their children hanging over and reading over their shoulders. Luis came in with a cart loaded with takeout. "Yo man! Cafeteria upstairs is closed for the evening. I was checking out and noticed the delivery man. So I brought your dinner. Enjoy! I have a date with a cutie from the mail room!" Scott's friend was grinning from ear to ear.
"Hey! That's great, man! Have fun!" Scott grinned and tossed him something that caused Luis to grin even wider and blush.
"Has anyone noticed that all the sightings of the copy spider seem to occur around where this school is located?" Veronica cut in, showing a map of the city, where the sightings were, and the school in question. "And the one time he showed up in DC, it was to rescue students from this school?"
"That Vulture guy who escaped jail time because the investigation was botched...news said his wife left him and took their daughter with her. The daughter went to that school..." Jessica piped in. She may not have been able to do her investigative job recently, but she tried to keep her skills honed.
By this point, Robbie had come in to join the rest of the family...in time to hear Veronica's comment and see the map. Without a word, he slipped out of the dining room, feeling the Rider beginning to surface.
Trip had been watching his brother carefully, but even so, it was a good five minutes before he realized Robbie hadn't gone to the restroom and wasn't returning. "Damn! Guys. We gotta problem..." he said, loudly enough to get everyone's attention.
Steve looked towards Trip, immediately noticing the urgency in his nephew's voice. "What is it?"
Trip had quickly explained what had occurred that afternoon. "The Rider is going after Vulture...if we dont stop him, he'll kill the man and Robbie will be left picking up the pieces when he realizes what happened."
Jessica bit her lip. She knew she wouldn't be allowed to go on the mission...she wasn't completely back to normal yet...but she knew where her cousin would go. "There!" She pointed on the map. "Vulture's known hang out."
"I'll stay with the kids..." Darcy quickly interjected, so that those who were able to fight didn't have to worry about it.
Paul smiled. "There are enough of us non-combatants around now, the kids should be fine."
The Rider was fully in control by the time Robbie got behind the wheel of the car. He drove out of the garage, heading towards Vulture's base...that he'd noticed on the information he'd glimpsed on his uncle Steve's tablet.
It wasn't long before the parents and the rest of those able to fight had left the compound and were beginning to head to the Vulture's hangout.
Peter sighed softly to himself. Vulture had confessed and turned himself in! Yet the man had still got away, the law apparently not able or willing to punish him. He could only hope that the older man would take this second chance to do good things with his life, instead of selling weapons to bad guys. Maybe he could talk to him? Convince him to stay clean... with that thought in mind, Peter donned his suit and climbed out his bedroom window...spinning and webbing his way to where Adrian Toomes had his shop.
Toomes had returned to his shop, but even though he'd been released from prison, he couldn't quite bring himself to return to building the weapons. His wife had left him and taken his daughter...and the Spider-Man who had been trying to stop him was a fifteen-year-old boy. A boy who had forced Toomes to look at himself and realise he was ashamed of what he had become.
A car engine revving outside had Toomes looking towards the entrance to his hideout. He widened his eyes and took a step back as a man with a flaming skull for a head stepped into the workshop. He wasn't sure what good it would do, but he grabbed one of the guns from the bench.
The team wasn't terribly far behind the Rider. On top of that, he'd taken a car, while they'd taken a Quinjet, so they were landing in the back of the building around the same time as Robbie was pulling up to the front. The team spilled out and in through the back.
"You can fight this, Robbie. You don't want to give him control and kill this man..." Trip immediately started trying to talk his brother out of the Rider.
Peter, meanwhile, had made good time as well...and came into range just in time to see everyone else converging on Liz's dad. While he knew Liz was angry and had left with her mom...he also knew she would be hurt badly if her father was killed. Especially as she'd never got a chance to reconcile with him. He went up to the roof and then inside the building, slowly making his way toward , watching the flaming skull guy nervously.
The Rider made no sign that he, or Robbie, had heard Trip's words...or even noticed the team that had entered the building, as he advanced on Toomes, ignoring the gun aimed at him.
Toomes wasn't a stupid man. He knew the stories that bullets didn't hurt the Rider, so he didn't waste the ammunition. He did also notice the Avengers who were in the hideout, but his attention was fully on the Rider, advancing on him threateningly.
"Robbie!" Trip tried again; but, realizing he wasn't breaking through, tried another tactic. "Rider! Leave him! He isn't like the others you go after!"
Again, the Rider made no sign that he'd heard Trip and as soon as he was close enough to Toomes, he grasped the barrel of the gun and squeezed it shut before reaching for the man's throat.
Steve quickly moved to try and head the Rider off at the pass, though he wasn't sure what even his strength could do against it.
Peter didn't even stop to think for a second when he saw the Rider reaching for Toomes. He couldn't let Liz's dad be killed! He didn't even try and slow his descent, dropping from the ceiling and in between Toomes and the Rider. "Don't hurt him!" he yelled, his voice cracking due to his fear for the older man.
Toomes knew that the Rider was after him...but he also didn't know if it would go after someone else who got in the way. "Don't, kid! I'm not worth you getting hurt over!" He was quick to move towards Peter, trying to move the teenager out of the way.
Steve noticed the Rider hesitating and he took a chance that it was beginning to waver. "You go after the truly bad guys...those who escape justice. But the Avengers are here. You don't have to do this."
The Rider glanced sideways at him, finally seeming to hear.
Tony stepped up beside his father. "Let us serve justice to him. House arrest on our compound. He isn't completely hopeless..." He glanced toward where Toomes had moved the Spider-Copy, so that it was behind him. "...After all. He's protecting the kid! Let us work with him. Help him become one of the good guys..." He'd made the suggestion spur of the moment, but he didn't think any of the others would object. Who better to keep an eye on the man than a whole family of powered and trained people?
"Please don't hurt him..." Peter said, in a tiny voice, while attempting to squirm around Toomes; who was amazingly adept at keeping Peter behind him, despite Peter's efforts.
Most of the family members breathed a collective sigh of relief as the Rider's visage vanished and Robbie took control once more.
Toomes still had hold of Peter, though since the danger was passed, it was more to stop the kid from just taking off again. After what had happened with the boat, it was rapidly becoming clear that Peter was acting recklessly and dangerously. And who better to stop that than the Avengers?
Seeing the Rider turn back onto a man, Peter finally relaxed. Of course, then he realized he was surrounded by people who might have taken exception to his activities of late. He began to squirm, so he could run away. "Let go..." He whined at Toomes.
Trip gave the Spider-copy-Kid a cursory glance before moving to Robbie and hugging his brother. "You okay?" he asked softly.
Toomes tightened his hold on Peter. "Oh no, kid. You're not spinning away this time." His voice was low, but still not allowing for any argument.
Robbie nodded, quickly hugging his brother in return. "Yeah...I think so," he admitted quietly.
Tony noted the protective and authoritarian way Toomes was holding onto the Spider-copy and looked at Steve. "Bring the kid with us? At least until we figure out who he belongs with?"
Trip hugged a little longer before letting go. "You didn't let us know you were triggered." His voice was calm but firm and a little disappointed.
Steve nodded to Tony and asked, in a quiet voice, "Do you think he might respond favourably if one of us asks him who he is?" As they were Captain America and Iron Man respectively.
Robbie winced, looking a bit guilty. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, not even trying to make an excuse.
Bucky cleared his throat. "May I suggest we move this party back to the compound? If we're taking Mr. Toomes into custody, he'll be going there anyway. Once we figure out who the kid is, we can contact his guardians."
Steve nodded to his brother and glanced at Toomes, making sure the man wouldn't resist. The fact he was still holding onto the Spider-Kid seemed to make that clear, but he stepped over to the man in any case. "We'll be taking you both back to the compound now."
Toomes nodded, his grip on Peter firm but not hard enough to hurt.
"Nooo... I don't need to go! Aunt May's gonna be upset..." Peter muttered under his breath.
"I'll ride back with Robbie..." Trip said.
Soon everyone was loaded onto the Quinjet and heading home.
Trip sat in the passenger seat of the car. He kept quiet until they were on their way. "Was there a reason you snuck out instead of telling us you'd been triggered again?" His tone was conversational, but he was obviously upset.
"I didn't think of it when it happened," Robbie admitted. "I guess I just came into the dining room and...it just happened."
"Yeah. I noticed the not thinking when it happens, happens a lot..." Trip grimaced. "Do you just not realize what is happening until it's already over and done? So… you can't warn us? Help me understand, Robbie..."
"I can feel him surfacing, most of the time," Robbie admitted. "But... I don't know. I'm not used to asking for help. I've been trying to deal with him myself for a long time."
"I understand that... I do. Except for the fact you told me you would warn us. Was that a lie? Did you have any intention of actually doing that?" Trip asked, glancing at his brother to see his reaction.
Robbie took a deep breath. "I think it would have been easier to say something if the whole family hadn't been there," he admitted.
"So… you tap me on the shoulder and get me to follow you out. Warn me then," Trip admonished. "Or you tap dad on the shoulder and let him know... even if I'm the one you said you'd tell."
"Yeah..." Robbie looked down. "I'll make sure to do that next time," he said quietly.
"If you'd told dad you'd warn him and then didn't... you'd have been having a talk in his room with him. What you did is dangerous...and bordering disrespectful." Trip couldn't keep the frustrated and faintly hurt tone out of his voice, despite trying to.
Robbie winced, both at the words and at the tone of his brother's voice. "I'm sorry, Trip." His voice was soft, but still sincere.
"I know..." Trip sighed and slumped. "Just need a way to get you to think before getting the Rider loose and taking off. I know how dad would do it, but..." He sighed again.
Robbie rubbed the back of his neck, also knowing how their dad would respond to it, but... "It wasn't him I let down." And his tone indicated that he felt very guilty for doing that to Trip.
"Yeah. It wasn't." Trip heard the guilty tone, though, and couldn't help but ask, "...If I handled you like dad would have...?"
"It's not like I'd blame you," Robbie replied honestly. "And... I need you to forgive me. Not dad," he added quietly.
"I already forgave you..." Trip admitted. "This wouldn't be about earning forgiveness."
"I know. Teaching me to do better." Robbie cleared his throat. "I might not have had firsthand experience yet, but I've definitely seen the effects of the family punishment."
Trip nodded, having come to a decision. "We can pull over to the side of the road...handle it here. Or we can go directly to my room when we get back." He gave the choice to Robbie, knowing that handling it at home in his room it would be easier for the rest of the family to overhear.
Robbie hesitated, thinking about that. He didn't really care about the rest of the family knowing what happened... and chances were, at least the parents suspected. But even so... "I'd rather get it done as fast as possible."
"Alright. We're far enough out of the city...take this exit. We'll pull over at the very back of that parking lot. It won't be seen from the road and we can hear or see people coming up to the car," Trip directed.
Robbie nodded, following his brother's directions without hesitation.
Once the car had been parked, Trip slid his seat back far enough to accommodate someone lying over his lap. "Come around the outside, put yourself over my lap. Your shoulders and head will be supported by your seat and your feet can hang out the door."
Taking a deep breath, Robbie did as instructed moving round the other side of the car and carefully placing himself over his brother's lap.
Once Robbie was in place, Trip carefully tugged down his clothing and then pulled him in tight against his stomach before raising his hand and smacking firmly. "I forgave you. This is to help you remember to do what you said you'd do. The Rider seems to keep you physically safe. But he can't protect you from the law or government if you get seen or attached to the wrong area or event. And he has no problem dragging you away from your family and friends... who love and worry about you. You need to warn me or dad when he comes, so we can watch out for you and bring you home after." He'd been swatting as he spoke, so was starting the second circuit when he finished speaking.
Robbie couldn't help but begin to shift in response to the spanking, surprised to find his eyes beginning to water already. "I... I know. I understand. I'll do better," he whispered.
"I hope you do understand and do better. I would be gutted if you disappeared and we couldn't bring you home. I know I wouldn't be the only one," Trip said seriously. He could hear the tears, so when he started the third circuit, he went a small bit harder and faster.
Robbie let out a quiet sob and slumped over his brother's lap. "I'm sorry," he whispered, beginning to cry... softly, but still audibly. Even if he had been quickly accepted into the family, it was a novelty that there were people who cared enough about him to step in and try and change his behaviour.
Trip immediately stopped swatting at his brother's surrender. "I know. You will do better," he soothed. "I believe in you." He gently rubbed Robbie's back before replacing his clothing, then letting his hand rest on his brother's back as a show of love and support.
It didn't take long for Robbie to calm down. After a few moments, he carefully pushed himself up with a whispered, "Thank you."
"You're family now. We take care of each other." Trip smiled and gave Robbie a hug. "You okay now? Want me to drive?" he offered.
"Yeah, I'm okay." Robbie hugged his brother, adding, "As long as we're okay. As for driving... I think I can carry on. Unless you want to."
"Of course, we're okay. I love ya, man..." Trip smiled. "And if you're okay to drive, I won't take over. It's your baby, after all..." He patted the car's dash.
Robbie grinned as he got back in the driver's seat. "Maybe, but you're my brother. I'd trust you with my baby any day."
"Maybe one of these days when we don't need to get home to take care of the newest resident and find out where our copycat lives..." Trip grinned ruefully as they began the drive back to the compound.
Robbie laughed softly. "Yeah. And when everyone's back to their proper ages, too."
"Yeah..." Trip sighed again, smiling at Robbie as they drove home.
"I don't need to go with you! I can walk home!" Peter protested, for what felt like the hundredth time, as he got shoehorned into the Quinjet. He'd been trying to get loose from Toomes' group so he could run, but the man refused to let go... and Peter didn't want to hurt him trying to escape, so he found himself buckled snugly onto one of the seats in short order. He swallowed hard.
Steve shook his head and said to Tony, in a very quiet voice, "He could give you a run for your money on one of the worst early days in our relationship."
Toomes ignored Peter's protests and sat as close to the kid as possible, so they were in physical contact. "Considering your reckless behaviour until this point, it's about time someone stepped in with you," he murmured.
"Sorry, dad..." Tony said sheepishly. If he was even a tenth as high strung and obstinate as the spider-copy, he really owed his father an apology and likely a few more trips over Steve's knee.
"I can take care of myself!" Peter took offense and protested loudly. "I helped you! The human grill was gonna barbeque you!"
Steve gently squeezed Tony's shoulder. "You're much better now, son."
"You put yourself in front of me, kid. That's not acceptable." Toomes' voice was absolutely serious...and carried a hint of 'or else' that all of the parents would likely recognise.
"Why?! He wasn't going to hurt me! He was going to hurt you!" Peter sounded like every other kid who thought he knew the answers to life and the universe and didn't want to hear how he was wrong.
"You didn't know that," Toomes answered. "By putting yourself in his path, he could have chosen to go through you. Not around."
"The Rider doesn't go after innocent people..." Peter didn't sound quite so assured, though. How innocent could he really be, when it was his fault Uncle Ben died?
"I wasn't going to take chances with that... with your safety," Toomes stated. "And I won't drag you down with me. Or let you get hurt if I can do anything to stop it."
"C'mon! I'll go home! There's no danger now!" Peter was pouting, even if they couldn't see it because of his mask (which he had refused to take off). Noting that only two of the group were near the jet hatch, Peter came up with an idea that he knew would scare everyone but might get him free.
Taking his seatbelt off, he suddenly 'webbed' everyone to their seats and then ran to the hatch, planning to open it, attach a web to the side, then jump out and 'rappel' to the ground. Spiders did it all the time from ceilings and trees and stuff. Why wouldn't he be able to do it from the jet?
The webbing wasn't as strong as the last time Peter had used it and Toomes was able to unbuckle his seatbelt so that the buckle would slice through the webbing and free him. He wasted no time in launching himself at Peter and tackling the kid to the floor.
"Aaargh! Geerooff" Peter squirmed under Tombs and struggled to break free. He didn't understand why he was having such difficulty with the man. He hadn't thought Toomes was powered, but he had no problems holding Peter at all.
Figuring the Avengers would be able to free themselves, Toomes kept his full attention on Peter, delivering a firm swat to the kid's backside without even thinking about it. "I'm not letting you throw yourself out of here, kid. I'm not letting you endanger yourself again."
"Ow! You can't stop me!" Peter yelled and began struggling harder, still unable to break free. He didn't understand the weakness he had around Toomes and it scared him. What scared him worse was the fact he actually wanted to obey the older man. "And you can't do THAT either!" he argued, not able to bring himself to say the word spank or admit that was what Toomes had just done.
"That's where you're wrong, kid." It was fairly easy to pull and move Peter into position, settling Peter across his lap. The spider-suit was loose and ill-fitting, but for now, Toomes didn't bare the kid, as the rest of the Avengers were there. He delivered another smack to the kid's backside and then another pair.
"Oooow! Stooooop!" Peter wailed in consternation as Toomes began spanking in earnest. Only a few smacks and his bottom already felt aflame. Plus, he was mortified that he'd pushed hard enough that Toomes decided he'd do this even with an audience. "I'm sorry! I'll be good! I will! I promise!" Peter's voice cracked at the end, though he was less concerned about that than convincing Toomes to let him up.
It was obvious to everyone that his squirming was frantic, if too weak to actually be effective. Tony glanced at Steve and signed, 'he doesn't really want loose.' It was clear, to him at least, that even if Peter didn't realize it himself, he wanted Toomes to take charge.
Steve nodded to indicate to Tony that he'd seen the same thing, signing back, 'They're already each other's. They just need to catch up to that. Like we did.' His look to his son was filled with loving affection.
Toomes merely tightened his grip on the kid, going down to Peter's sit spots before starting over from the top again. "I'm not gonna let you act so recklessly again, kid. I don't care what happens. Behaviour like that will get you in this position. Every time," he said seriously.
"Noooo! You can't... I won't... whyyyy?!" Peter's squirming was slowing as he tired himself out, but he still hadn't given in. "You aren't in charge of me!" He got a second wind and began to struggle harder again.
Starting a third circuit of swats, Toomes began to swat a bit harder and faster. "You carry on like this and you'll get yourself hurt... killed... by someone who doesn't know or care you're a kid. I won't let that happen."
"You can't tell me what to do! You aren't my da... boss!" Peter protested, hoping no one noticed his near blunder. He began to struggle harder as the swats got harder and faster. By this point, his backside was so sore, he wanted to give in just so it would stop; but he couldn't. He didn't know why, but he couldn't.
Maybe he wasn't... at least not Peter's biological father... but Toomes knew he wanted to adopt the kid. Heck, it had been in his mind since discovering his identity... with every passing moment, Toomes realised he wanted to take on a father role for the kid even more.
Tightening his grip on the teenager, Toomes tugged the ill-fitting pants and underwear down and started swatting Peter's bare bottom.
The gurgling, high pitched wail of protest that didn't really say anything, but indicated Peter's distress at the new situation, was the only warning given before Peter began to frantically buck in an effort to get free and get his horribly sore backside out of the line of fire. Peter knew his stubborn refusal to give in was only making things worse, but he couldn't stop himself.
It was surprisingly easy to hold Peter in place, even though the kid was trying to buck himself off his lap, and Toomes began to focus more swats to the kid's sit spots and thighs. "It doesn't matter what you do, kid. I'm not going to take a step back from you. I'm not going to change my mind or decide you're too much work. I'm claiming you now, kid."
"Y... you're what?!" Peter's shock and confusion was clear in his voice and the struggling very obviously slowed as he tried to understand what Toomes had just said.
"I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't want you, kid." Toomes' voice was filled with sincerity and honesty, even as he continued to swat.
"B... bu... but it huuurts!" By this point, Peter had lost track of how many times Toomes had gone over his bottom with the smacks. He wanted it to stop. Needed it to stop. He just didn't know what to do to get it to. He wanted to give up but didn't know how to do that either. It wasn't in his nature.
Toomes continued to swat with one hand, even as his other slid under the suit top to rub over Peter's bare back, affectionately touching him along with the spanking. "I know it hurts," he said gently. "But you've been acting recklessly and dangerously for a long time. You've needed someone to step in and put a stop to that behaviour."
Peter's struggling was little more than feeble wiggling by this point. "No one knew it was me. They did... didn't care..." He began to cry; softly at first, but harder once he'd begun. He couldn't stop.
Toomes paused, his hand resting gently on Peter's bottom, gently rubbing the heated skin. "I know. I care."
Peter continued to cry, whimpering when Toomes began the gentle rubbing. At the words, though, he just went boneless and began to sob. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'll be good for you... I will... I will!" he choked out, before he couldn't talk any longer.
Toomes carefully replaced Peter's clothing and then didn't waste any time in gathering the teenager into his arms, hugging him close and tight on his lap. "I've got you, kid," he whispered.
Peter latched onto Toomes so tightly, it was obvious he was afraid the older man would push him away now that he'd been punished and given up. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry I was bad..." he kept repeating, in a hoarse whisper.
Toomes wrapped his arms just as tight around Peter in return, not prepared to let him go or even so much as loosen his hold on the kid. "No, kid," he whispered. "You weren't bad. You behaved recklessly...and were naughty...because there was no one to pull you back. But there is now. You've got me. And you won't lose me, kid."
Peter just shivered and continued to hold onto Toomes, taking in shaky breaths and sniffling as tears continued to fall from his eyes. He wearily lay his head on Toomes chest. They remained that way all the way to the compound and when the jet landed, the hatch opened and everyone began to disembark, Peter whimpered and clung even more tightly, afraid to let go even long enough to walk.
Toomes didn't let go of Peter or force the teenager to step away, instead more or less carrying the kid from the Quinjet, hand gently rubbing over Peter's back.
Peter relaxed noticeably when he realized he wouldn't be let go. He just snuggled as Toomes carried him through the compound and to the elevator leading to the lower level, where the family quarters were. He didn't fall asleep, but only because he was afraid he'd be let go if he fell asleep. Toomes was the only one he knew, and he didn't want to be separated from the man.
Toomes kept hold of Peter, gently stroking and rubbing the kid's back as he followed the directions of the family to one of the larger rooms.
Tony waited until Toomes had gone into the office with Peter before turning to his own father. "That kid was stubborn. I'm glad he finally gave in, but now we have to figure out what to do with him. He doesn't want to remove the mask. He won't tell us his name. How are we going to get him home?"
"We're fairly sure we know which school he goes to," Steve pointed out. "Veronica can probably compile a list of all the possibilities they could be...and since the Spider-copy appeared in DC, maybe there was a school trip which would narrow down the list even further."
Tony nodded. "Still. It'd be easier if we could just convince him to tell us who he is. Especially since it'd be a good idea to do a blood test and find out how he has the same abilities as our Peter. When our Peter got them through a spider bite. And doing that without permission of a guardian..." he winced. "Not that spanking him without the guardian's permission won't raise more than a few eyebrows and maybe I should have legal get ready…" he muttered the last to himself.
Steve nodded. "I suspect the two of us are those who will have the most luck in persuading him to tell us his identity."
"Persuading his newly gained father, you mean? Because unless that kid is enamoured of the Avengers, he ain't budging. Not when he held out for so long even when getting a hard spanking in front of us. Possibly because he got a spanking in front of us..." Tony shook his head. "He'd want to keep his mask on, if only to hide his face."
"Yeah." Steve sighed. "Do you think he'd feel better to know that it's used here in the compound, as a family punishment?"
"Only way he'll believe that is if one of us gets in trouble while he's here...or a few of us tell him. But just telling him prolly won't work if he doesn't trust us... unless maybe one of the kids talks to him. Peter or Harry would probably be best, since they're only a few years older than him normally... and are his age currently." Tony offered his suggestion. "Still think his new daddy might be our best bet to convince him."
"Yeah. We'll start with talking to his new father. If that doesn't work, we'll call in Peter and Harry," Steve commented, heading to the office Toomes had gone into with the Spider-kid.
Tony followed his father, noting Bruce coming as well, a medical kit in hand. He and his brother fell into place behind their father as Steve knocked on the door.
Toomes had been holding Peter on his lap, gently stroking the kid's back. At the knock, he looked up and said quietly, "Come in."
Peter felt drained. Drained and humbled. He couldn't believe he had acted so defiantly toward an adult who was trying to protect him. To the point he got spanked in front of Iron Man, Captain America and other Avengers. He wasn't angry at Toomes, though. He'd brought it on himself. No. What he felt was clingy and needy. Luckily Toomes didn't seem to mind. He snuggled closer, hiding his face against the older man when he heard the knock and Toomes invitation to enter.
At the invitation, Steve opened the door and stepped into the office, allowing his sons to enter before closing the door again to give them some privacy. He then looked at Toomes and Peter, addressing the Spider-kid. "I know it's hard to let people in on your secret but confirming your identity will help you in the long run. You don't have to keep fighting the bad guys alone."
Toomes tightened his arms around Peter. "The Captain's got a point," he murmured.
"If I tell you, you'll want me to stop. You'll say I'm too young... " Peter whispered. He was pretty sure they would. Toomes had nearly said that when he found out the truth.
"I've got grandsons who are only a couple of years older than you," Steve said. "One of them's like you. Has spider abilities. He was a vigilante before he was adopted into the family." He sat down on the chair opposite, so he hopefully wouldn't be as intimidating.
"Doing it on your own isn't the best idea, kid," Toomes said quietly.
"I don't do it completely alone!" Peter protested. "Ned helps me..." He sat up straight so he could see Steve, Tony and Bruce... hissing faintly at the sting he could still feel, even if it wasn't too bad by this point.
Toomes gently wrapped his arm around Peter's waist. "A kid the same age as you doesn't count," he murmured quietly.
Peter turned his face, so he was looking up at Toomes. The older man knew who he was but hadn't said anything. He could be trusted. "You think I should let them see me? Know who I am?" He spoke in a whisper.
Toomes nodded, gently stroking Peter's back. "If you can't trust the Avengers, who can you trust?" he asked softly.
"I trust you..." Peter muttered, before sighing and reaching up to the 'mask' he wore. Swallowing hard, he tugged it off. His hair was sweaty and plastered to his head in areas...sticking up in others. His eyes were red and glassy from his crying and his face was red. But despite it all, one thing was clear.
"He's the spitting image of my Peter!" Bruce blurted with wide eyes.
Steve managed not to show his shock as completely, trying quickly to explain the situation. "My grandson with the spider abilities...you look exactly like him," he said. "What's your name, kid?"
Peter gave all three men a nervous look before focusing on Toomes. "Peter Parker..." he said cautiously. "I live with my aunt May..."
Toomes wrapped his arms tighter around Peter, hugging his boy closer to himself. From the look of shock that passed over Captain America's face, he was fairly sure that the appearance wasn't where the similarity ended.
Steve looked at his sons. "This can't be a coincidence," he said softly.
"What's wrong? Why are you looking at me like that?" Peter asked, with a hint of fear in his voice. He'd gone through too much in his young life not so be aware when something was up.
Steve took a deep breath and addressed Peter in a very gentle voice. "My grandson... he's also called Peter Parker. He has spider abilities, just like you. And before he came to live with us...he lived with his Aunt May."
Toomes tightened his hold on the kid, half-afraid this knowledge would induce a panic attack, and glanced at the three other men, looking for confirmation.
Peter swallowed hard, shivering slightly before taking a deep breath. "I... is he my age?" he asked hesitantly, afraid to find out, but feeling like he needed to. He very obviously reached up to hold onto Toomes' shirt again, his knuckles white from the tight grip he had.
Bruce shook his head. "He... my son. I adopted him... He's normally 19 years old. We had a slight 'accident' that deaged quite a few of us, so he is currently your age. You... the two of you..." He took a deep breath to calm himself. "...It's uncanny."
Tony opened his mouth to say that maybe they should do some blood tests but kept the remark to himself and closed his mouth when he saw how pale the kid was. One step at a time.
Toomes immediately covered Peter's hand with his own, gently stroking it. "It's okay, kid," he murmured. "I know you're scared, but you're safe. I've got you."
Catching Tony's eye, Steve quickly signed to him, asking if Veronica might be able to draw up a picture of this Peter's Aunt May...and circulate it to other members of the family. He had a bad feeling that HYDRA had had a hand in this.
Tony nodded, certain that Veronica could do just that. They just needed this Peter to describe her. "Your dad is right, kid..." he said, without thinking, and ignoring when Peter's eyes widened and then the kid blushed. "You're safe here. But something odd is going on and it is best that we find out what before we cut you loose; if for no other reason than that it will let you keep an eye out so you'll be safe." He paused to give that time to sink in.
Peter bit his lip and found himself cuddling closer to Mr. Toomes. "That...that makes sense..." he said softly. "...What do you need from me?"
Bruce sighed softly. "Would you be willing to let me take a small blood sample? I won't use it for anything but to compare it to my Peter. See if maybe what caused his abilities is what caused yours. If there are any other similarities. You see, he was bit by a radioactive spider. If you were too, then someone somewhere isn't doing their experiments in a safe manner and we need to stop them before any other children are bit."
Peter winced at the thought of a needle and looked back up at Toomes, almost as if seeking his permission or approval.
While Peter was thinking about if he'd give a blood sample, Tony asked, "If you could describe your aunt May to me? We can make certain that she isn't on any of the bad guys' watch-lists. If she is, then we'd want to bring her in to keep her safe as well..." He hoped, for the kid's sake, that she didn't end up being one of the bad guys.
Toomes still held Peter's hand and he squeezed it gently, his other hand settling on and cupping the back of the kid's head. "It's okay, son," he said, deliberately using that form of address because, as far as he was concerned, that was what Peter was. "You can trust them not to hurt you and only to run the tests they need to."
Peter nodded, turning his face toward Toomes' chest and holding his arm straight out so that Bruce could draw blood.
Bruce made it as quick and painless as possible. "All done," he said gently, once he'd put a bandaid on the injection site.
"My aunt May is really pretty... and nice... she doesn't like when I'm out too late, so I've had to sneak a lot since becoming Spider-man..." Peter admitted, then began describing his Aunt May.
Toomes continued to gently stroke Peter's hair and hold his hand even while the kid was talking. It was fairly obvious, to Steve at least, that Peter and Toomes belonged with each other... exactly the same way so many of the rest of the family had come to form.
Tony nodded. "I think we have everything we need for the moment. Why don't you take a nap, kid? You and your dad can share this room until we fix things legally so your dad can stay here safely. We'll get hold of your Aunt May so she doesn't worry..."
Toomes nodded his thanks to Tony, before quietly asking Peter, "You need anything to eat or drink before taking a nap?"
"No, sir..." Peter mumbled, already snuggling into Toomes again and closing his eyes. The weariness hadn't fully left him and he was asleep within seconds.
Steve stood and motioned for his sons to follow him out of the room, so they could leave the kid to sleep.