I know Bruce is a little OOC at points but I figure with the Hulk just underneath the surface he's more confident. Kind of like how he was right before willingly transforming.

Actually, I wasn't ready to do science. I was tired and I was in no mood to leave the circle of embrace that was Thor's arms, but I had promised, and when I made a promise I kept it. We were in the lab that I had wrecked yesterday, and in a better state of mind I could appreciate the sheer amount of technology that Stark had created or owned. It was incredible.

In the back of my mind, a bitter part of me said that this could've been what I grew up with instead of some crappy television.

I shook the thought from my head, and instead tried to focus on Bruce and Steve's conversation. Which was about me, well, my mutation. Apparently Steve was somewhat out of the loop when it came to mutants. He also thought that as 'team leader' he should be present which annoyed the hell out of me. Tony was doing something on one of the computers.

"It's called the X-gene," Bruce explained. "And it's exactly what it's called. It's a mutation in the genetic make-up, the same as the gene that causes red hair or two different colored eyes."

Steve nodded in a slow understanding. "But aren't things like that passed down?"

"Yeah, but it the case of the X-gene, it makes a leap, showing up in seemingly random individuals. From there it is a possibility that it will be passed from parent to child."

"I've done my research American Boy Doll," Tony stated from his hunched position over the screen, "and there is no evidence of the X-gene on either side of Kathy's bloodline. We've got ourselves a first generation mutie!" he said almost proudly. Was he happy that his child was a mutant? I doubted it. Nobody wants a monster for a kid. He slid over to another screen and pulled up a number of videos in which Algea was the star.

I watched in morbid fascination as Algea killed, maimed, and destroyed whatever she could. I watched as she set a man on fire, stabbed an ice pick through another's heart, made the earth swallow buildings and people, and blew gusts of wind so hard that they went flying. Fury was obviously lying when he said I never caused too much damage.

"Where did you get these?" I asked harshly. Turn it off! I thought desperately.

"Hacked S.H.I.E.L.D's databases," Tony shrugged nonchalantly. As an agent I probably should've reported him. It was my job, but, I just let it be.

I averted my eyes from the screen, sick to my stomach, as the other three men continued to watch. I knew that people had died by my hand. I never realized how gruesome their deaths were. I was always far away by the time Algea allowed me to take control of our shared body.

"So, we need to figure out why the vampire you can do all these avatar things and why you, well, can't."

"Eloquently put Tony," I muttered darkly. While I admitted to myself it would be cool to do all those things, a part of me was terrified after seeing the things Algea had done with those same powers.

"So let's start off with the basics," Bruce said. "We'll take a blood sample and then ask you some pretty simple questions." I blanched.

"Blood…sample?" I hated needles. Sharp objects in general really. Only was there one time that they didn't strike fear in me, and that was when they had been protecting me.

Steve sensed my unease. "Are you afraid of needles?" Tony bit back a laugh and I glared at him.

"I'm not exactly fond of sharp pointy objects being shoved into my skin." I sat down on the chair next to Tony, knowing that I really wasn't going to be able to get out of it. I rolled up my black sleeve and held my arm out to Bruce. "Just get it over with Doctor." I shut my eyes and tensed.

"First I'm going to inject you with a miniature device that will show us on screen how your blood and heart rate and the like act when you heal or use your powers, okay?" Bruce asked. I nodded.

I felt a warm hand on my back; I don't know who it belonged to, comforting me as the needle slid into my arm. I winced. I kept my eyes shut as the next needle entered my arm, this time withdrawing blood. I opened my eyes as soon as I felt the object leave my body. I moved to pull my sleeve down but Bruce stopped me.

"I just want to see how your healing works," he explained. They watched as the small miniscule hole in my arm closed on its own. On screen it showed the regeneration of skin tissue. I shrugged.

"My healing isn't all that great," I admitted. "I can only heal small things. Small cuts, bruises and the like. It's why I was able to get drunk, while Cap here, with his intensified healing factor can't."

Bruce wrote something on a small notepad. "Interesting."

"So basically your healing factor is useless." I refrained from smacking Tony on the upside of the head. I nodded though. It really wasn't all that great. The scars on my body were proof of that. Speaking of scars…

"What are those?" Steve said softly, grabbing my hand to get a closer look. Tony and Bruce had moved to another table reviewing the data and testing my blood, thankfully out of earshot. I don't know what I'd do if they saw. They're not stupid.

"They're scars. Like Tony said, my healing factor is pretty useless." I cringed and tried to pull my arm out of Steve's grasp, but he was intent on holding on to me. So I pulled down my sleeve and covered the burn scars on my wrist.

"How'd you get them?" Steve dropped my hand, getting the hint.

"I don't really remember," I lied. "I think I got them while I was not myself. You have no idea how often I used to wake up finding scars and cuts I couldn't remember getting," I added a small laugh, hoping it was believable enough for him to drop it.

He pursed his lips, nodded, and then left the room without a single word. That was weird.

Burns were the only thing I couldn't fully heal. I have no idea why, but trial and error proved it.

"So Kathy, I have a big favor I need you to do for me."

"I'm not letting you talk to Algea, Stark." Bruce chuckled at the comic look on Tony's face.

"Don't tell me you're a mind reader too!" Tony threw his hands in the air.

"Nope," I popped the P sound, "you're just predictable." I blushed a little as the sound of Bruce's laughter washed over my ear drums.

"But Kathy," Tony whined, "I wanna know about her!"

"No. End of discussion."




"Hmm, no."

"But it's for the pursuit of knowledge!"

"Knowledge can go kiss my ass, if it means keeping you away from Algea."

"Brucie!" Tony turned to the amused scientist. "Back me up here!"

"Tony, I'm all for talking to Algea, trust me I have my own questions to ask her, but if Kathy doesn't want to then there's no need to force her. I understand where she's coming from."

I could kiss him at that moment.

"Wait, what do you mean you have your own questions to ask her?" I looked at Bruce confused. Did I miss something? "What happened?"

Bruce just laughed. "Don't worry about it Kat. Oh Tony, stop pouting."

"But the pursuit of knowledge!"

"The pursuit of knowledge can wait until after Kathy feels it's safe enough to let Algea out." Bruce's tone held a finality to it. Was…was he protecting me?

"Fine I get it. Traitor," Tony mumbled. He got up and left the room muttering something about needing a drink. I sighed and stood up myself. Someone should make sure he doesn't drink himself stupid.

"I'm gonna go make sure he doesn't drink himself stupid," making some random hand gesture toward the door. Bruce smiled.

"You care," he stated. I felt myself pale.

"I do not. He's just useless when he's drunk."

"Mhm. You keep telling yourself that Kat. And then let me know how that works out for you."

I sighed. "He's a member of this team and he's not a total jackass, so I can tolerate his existence. That's all Bruce."

I made a split second decision. I hugged him. And this time, I thought to myself proudly, I'm not crying!

I wondered if I had made a mistake before his arms wrapped around me, pulling me closer, holding me tightly. I felt him bury his head in my neck and I snuggled against his chest. Never had anything felt so right. It felt like I belonged there in his arms. I leaned up and pressed a small kiss on the corner of his mouth, before shyly pulling myself out of his arms.

"Thanks Bruce," I whispered, before turning and practically running out of the lab. Once I was safely in the elevator I let out the girliest shriek ever. Oh my God I actually kissed him. It wasn't a real kiss but still.


"Yes Ms. Mayfield?"

"Can you delete the footage of me screaming?"

If anyone could make a robot that could laugh, it would be Tony, I thought as I glared at the ceiling as JARVIS let out a few chuckles.

"Yes, yes, of course Miss Mayfield. May I ask why you were shrieking like that?"

"You know damn well why, JARVIS. I know you were watching."

"I had no choice, Miss Mayfield. I am a security system after all."

"What's got your panties in a bunch JARVIS?" The AI was actually being sarcastic with me. I laughed and the elevator doors opened.

"Are you arguing with my AI?" Tony asked; drink in hand as soon as I stepped off the elevator.

"Of course not Master Stark," JARVIS replied smoothly. "Arguing would require a disagreement of some sorts."

Tony sniffed. "Smartass robot."

"Well you did create me with an ability to learn based off the behavior of others."

"Mute." He sighed and shook his head, taking a rather large sip from his glass.

"So…" I trailed off unsure of what I should say. When it was me and him alone, I always lost my composure. I hated it.

"Sit," he said motioning to the open spot on the sofa next to him. I did, keeping my eyes to the floor.

"Tell me about your mom," he said suddenly.

"I, uh- what do you want to know?" I whispered.

"Anything. What kind of mother was she? What's your favorite memory of her?"

I shut my eyes against the tears that threatened to spill. "My mom was an amazing woman," I chuckled. "After she stopped working for you she wasn't bringing in as much money, but she always tried to make sure I got the best. I remember this one time, a girl in my 3rd grade class made fun of me because I didn't have this doll and I went home and told my mom. And get this, the next day she comes into my class doll in hand and gives it to me in front of everyone. Then she told the girl that the next time she made fun of me she'd call the girl's parents."

Tony chuckled. "Sounds like her."

I nodded, not wanting to talk about my mother anymore. I loved the woman to death, I still do…but sometimes thinking about her hurt too much.

"You know Kit-Kat," I didn't even bother correcting the nickname, "I read your file. Your mom…she was pretty bad for a while wasn't she?"

I chuckled humorlessly. "My first few memories are of her being completely shitfaced. She hated me until I was 5. That whole incident is in my file. Something made my mom's maternal instinct kick in and from there it was the perfect little family. Until the next time she got drunk," I muttered bitterly.

I heard the glass make contact with the table. I lifted my head to look at Tony, but was interrupted by my face making contact with his chest. I stiffened and then let myself relax into it. It was nothing like the hug I had shared with Bruce earlier but it made me feel no less safe.

I had spent my whole life missing out on what it felt like to be held by my father. To finally have it…it broke down what little wall I had left and my eyes could no longer hold back the tears.

I felt Tony sigh and run his fingers through my hair. I don't know how long we stayed like that, with him running his fingers through my hair. But eventually I cried myself to sleep.