The lab on the sixth floor was actually more of an "at home temporary work station", or at least, that's how Bruce had described it to Natasha (more or less). The front half of the lab was an expansive kitchen-like area (roughly five-eights of which was covered in various jars, containers, and chemicals), the back half individual testing centers. It was the first part where Natasha stood, her arms crossed and a small smile on her face.

Propped up on his elbow, the collar of his sky-blue dress-shirt pressing into his cheek, was none other than Bruce Banner, his right hand curled around Loki's scepter. She shook her head, doubting that they would ever come to understand that thing, though she did believe that if it could somehow happen, he would be the one to do it. Figuring out the impossible is what he did; if only he could figure out the opposite sex.

"Bruce," She whispered his name, weary of his other half, "It's getting late."

He stirred, looking at her sideways, eyes bleary, "Tasha?"

She was taken aback that he had called her that (secretly hopeful that it was a step in a good direction), "Yeah?"

He had dozed off again, head rolling to the side, magical spear slipping from his grasp. She caught it before it could hit the floor, setting it back in the rack Bruce and Tony designed to keep it from transmitting or receiving signals or transmissions of any sort. Strictly speaking, no one was allowed to know that the Avengers (namely Bruce) had held on to the alien device.

"You're hopeless," She sighed, lifting him up gingerly, she carried him bridal-style back to his room on the second floor.

In The Kitchen, After The Dinner Fiasco

Pepper leaned back against the wall, watching Tony dig through the cabinets for an appeasement snack for his leading (and only) lady. After she had ranted, raved, and got off the steam, he had gone to her side, going so far as to help clean up the mess (his idea of "helping" was to stand over the maids' backs, occasionally barking out an order, or what he called "advice"). Though initially annoyed, Pepper thought that it was sweet of him to try to make her feel better, especially after the way he continued to dodge the discussion of their child. This small act at least showed that he cared for her somewhat, and that was all that she really needed to know.

"You do know that we'll have to talk about this sooner or later, right?" She saw him freeze up for second, before digging around again, "You can pretend that you can't hear me, but that doesn't mean that I'm not going to speak. Tony, I've been thinking about this, and I decided that I'm going to keep the baby."

There was a muffled thud as he hit his head and a stream of profanity followed, "You what?"

"I'm going to keep it. At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to, but after Magdalyn showed up here, it really made me realize that I want more in my life." She was a little breathless at the end of her speech.

"More? Aren't I enough for you?" Tony stood up, walking over to his girlfriend, "I love you."

Green eyes misting up, Pepper looked at Tony, her heart dropping as she imagined where this was going, "I love you too, but this is different! I can't really explain it, but I felt something, a kind of bond, and-"

"Magdalyn, really? You're going to let that psycho tear us apart?" He looked no happier than she did, his arms wrapping loosely, desperately around her shoulders.

"Tony," Pepper was beyond the verge of tears now, "This has nothing to do with her. This is about our child, the one that we're having. You don't think I don't want us together? Us having a future together, raising this child? But I know you; you have a great heart, and I know that you would care for us in your own way, but you're...you."

He dropped his hands, hurt by the one person he never thought would hurt him, "I'm me? So you have faith I'm capable of all this good, and you watch me saving the world on a daily basis, but you think that I would harm you and the kid?"

"I know that you-"

"That I what?" He cut her off, eyebrow raising, "That I have daddy issues? I'll admit that my father wasn't there for me - he never even said that he liked me... And you think that I'm going to be like him? Or worse? You don't know how bad it hurts to have a father who was there, but one that doesn't act like it."

"Tony..." She reached out for him, but he shrugged away from her touch.

The Front Gate

Steve, the only one gracious enough to show out their guest, stood outside with Coulson, the agent buckled in his silver SHIELD-issued Acura , window rolled down so that he could converse with the other man. Poor Steve was still covered in uneaten (or half-eaten) foodstuffs.

"You sure have your work cut out for you, Captain." The agent smiled, "But I know that if anyone can help them get along, it's you."

If only Steve was so optimistic in this case, "I hope so..."

Getting on to more serious matters, Coulson redirected the conversation, "That woman, you don't think she poses a threat, do you?"

"Mag?" He felt that they could trust her, though there was something about her that needed to kept under watch, "She's not a direct threat, no, but she should be kept under close observation."

"I'll discuss it with director Fury," he nodded, starting the engine, "You can expect my call in the morning."


Yes, I believe that she really is that strong. Maybe it's a bit of comic book bias/influence, but I fully believe in the amazing prowess of the Black Widow! And heart-breaking much? At least Coulson had a moment with Steve... I tried to balance the sad with the happy, but I dunno... I do know, however, that the Avengers can expect more company tomorrow!