Natasha never wanted children. She had been a spy for as long as she could remember - she had started her training young, and of times before that her memories were hazy and hard to recall. She was good at her job too; she was known by law enforcements around the world, and her ability to find the target or get the information she needed was unparalleled.
No, she stood by what she said to Loki - that love is for children. Love is for children and she wanted nothing to do with either them.
However, fate sometimes has an uncanny ability of taking what you want, stomping on it, and laughing in your face.
Natasha woke abruptly to her phone ringing loudly on her small bedside table. She sat up quickly and reached to answer it.
"What is it?" She asked, trying not to let the irritation she felt enter into her voice.
"Natasha, we need you to go into the city," Nick Fury's voice sounded on the other end. "Loki's being a little shit."
Natasha couldn't hold back a grin and chuckle at that. "When's he not? I'll be at Stark Tower in fifteen."
It had been a year since the Avengers had first assembled. New York City hadn't quite put itself completely back together, but it was well on its way.
Tony, of course, had spared no expense, and his enormous tower had been fixed, with several new levels added – one for each Avenger. Natasha had gone and seen her floor when Tony had gathered them together to have a grand unveiling. She had to admit, he had done a really nice job. It was simple and done in tasteful colors, with a personal kitchen, bedroom, two bathrooms, a gym, and a Jacuzzi tub on the balcony. There were stairs on one end (for fire emergencies, of course) and a sleek elevator on the other end.
She had also gone and seen the others as well, and had to give Tony props. He had done a very nice job on all of them. Bruce and Steve had moved in, as had Thor – who had decided to stay on Earth for a while to lend his strength in the rebuilding process as well as to help them whenever Loki popped back up. Clint claimed that he liked his apartment too much at the moment to leave it for the Avengers tower, and Natasha too had decided to forgo moving in right away. Although she had no excuse, she figured that the Hawk genuinely did like his nest too much to leave at the moment – it was on the top floor of a very high building, and he was very proud.
She shook her head to get her mind back on track as she got dressed.
Since Loki's first appearance in New York, after he had escaped Loki had not really caused too much extreme damage – mostly just silly, reversible pranks.
She put on her typical work outfit, ran a brush through her hair, and was out the door five minutes later heading to her car.
Fifteen minutes later she was pulling into Tony's parking garage beneath the tower.
That man has more cars than anyone else on earth, Natasha thought. He certainly doesn't use them – the bastard flies everywhere he can.
Natasha got out of her car and made for Tony's elevator. Fury had alerted her that everyone was meeting on the top floor – Thor's floor. It had direct access to the roof where those who could fly could easily take off. It also held one of Tony's helicopters for those who could not fly.
When she arrived, everyone was standing on the balcony, looking out over New York City and the bay area. As she reached them she realized why.
Loki had given the Statue of Liberty a helmet, not unlike his own horned helm.
"Oh god..." she muttered. Steve turned around and nodded at her.
"Our thoughts exactly," he said. The rest of the group followed him when he headed back inside.
"The only way to remove it will be to convince Loki to take it off her," Tony scowled. "The little shit."
"Yeah," Bruce agreed, Natasha saw a pair of high-tech binoculars in his hands. "He didn't just put one on her, he made it part of the statue. We can't just pull it off."
"If we kill him, do the effects of his magic go away?" Clint said irritably – Natasha could understand, he had been affected the most by Loki's magic.
"I will not allow him to be killed," Thor said, his tone not allowing for debate.
"Alright, alright," Natasha said, trying to keep the arguing to a minimum. "First, do we know where Loki is?"
"He's sitting on top of the statue." Bruce handed her the binoculars and she took a few steps back toward the window and looked towards the statue. Sure enough, Loki was sitting on top of one of the enormous horns he had put there. He was without horns and armor himself, and she thought she could see a cup of coffee in his hand. She raised an eyebrow and handed Bruce the binoculars back.
Steve cleared his throat and looked at them.
"Here's what we'll do: Tony and Thor will fly over and do their best to capture him, and Clint, Natasha, Bruce and I will follow in the helicopter to bring him back to SHIELD where we will attempt to convince him to take the helmet off of the Statue of Liberty. "
Tony snorted, and looked skeptically at Steve. "Great plan, Cap! But you forget that every time we've tried to get the little bastard-"
"He is not a bastard!" Thor interjected, affronted by the word.
"The little shit," Tony amended, rolling his eyes, "he's gotten away."
"Well, we've still got to try!" Steve insisted.
"He's right, we can't just let him go," Natasha added. "I'm sure the media is already all over this, and it's not even eight am."
It was fifteen more minutes before they finished hammering out their plan. They headed to the roof and Tony suited up. As she got into the helicopter Natasha had a feeling in her gut that this was not going to end well; she didn't often get bad feelings, but she couldn't ignore the churn in her gut as Clint lifted them off of the helipad.
Six hours later Natasha was at SHIELD headquarters, staring in disbelief at the five sleeping children in front of her. Clint stood next to her with the exact same look on his face.
She went through the events of the day in her head for what had to be the millionth time.
They had arrived at the Statue of Liberty to see Loki still sitting in the same spot as when Natasha had looked. There had been a lot of words exchanged before Tony had gotten impatient and attacked. Thor had landed next to Loki and attempted to grab his brother, but Loki had disappeared and reappeared over on the other horn, yelling about Thor always falling for that trick ever since they were little.
Tony had tried to attack again, but had been repelled by a blast from Loki's new scepter – Natasha had no clue where he had gotten it, he just showed up with it one day about five months after the attack. She thought he just liked carrying it around, because it didn't seem like he actually needed it to work his magic, it was just something to channel it through. Tony had hit the helicopter, which had shaken violently, causing Bruce to fall out, and Captain Rogers to jump out. Thor had flown down and caught Bruce, setting him on the horn next to where Steve had landed. Natasha's eyes had widened and her heart started beating double-time as she prayed to whoever was listening that he wouldn't Hulk-out. That was not something that they needed now – and she knew it would depress him because he had been without incident since he had first joined the team a year ago.
Everyone except for Clint and herself had been on that horn opposite Loki who stood facing them on the other side. Thor had tried to reason with his brother, who had responded with a scathing retort about him not being a child that Thor could just boss around like when they were children.
Then Loki had gotten a horrible grin on his face; he had pointed his staff at the men across from him and shot a blast of bright white magic.
Natasha had watched in horror as the four men started to shrink down, clothes and all, to the size of children before falling unconscious – no doubt a side effect from the magic.
Adding incredulity to injury, Steve's shield had managed to deflect some of Loki's magic at the same time as it hit Steve, and Loki's blast was reflected back at him; and he too shrunk and passed out on the horn.
Before she or Clint knew it there were five little kids unconscious on the top of the Statue of Liberty.
Whatever motherly instincts Natasha possessed buried deep within her at that moment suddenly flared to life as she saw her teammates and enemy on top of that incredibly tall statue. She had yelled at Clint to fly closer, and she had jumped out onto the horn and grabbed Steve and Bruce, the two closest, and put them inside the helicopter; she then had gone back and grabbed Thor, leaving his hammer – which had not shrunk, and she had zero chance in hell of lifting – and Tony – whose suit had shrunk with him. She was thankful that Loki's magic has knocked them out, because otherwise she was sure that they would all be screaming. Once all of her teammates and she had made it back onto the helicopter, she looked back at the tiny black haired boy who was laying on the far horn.
"We can't just leave him!" She had yelled at Clint. He had given her a skeptical look, but flew over to the other side. Natasha had jumped out, picked up the tiny villain, and gotten back into the chopper. Clint flew as fast as he could back to Stark Tower. Once they were landed, Natasha and Clint looked over the five sleeping children who lay around Natasha on the floor of the chopper.
"What the hell?" Clint said. Natasha had just shaken her head in disbelief.
Now, she couldn't take her eyes off of them. The four tiny Avengers were all still sleeping in a room that Natasha thought was a conference room. She and Clint were on one end of the room, leaning next to each other against the wall.
"You have to admit," Clint said. "They're kind of adorable." Natasha glared at him.
"These are our teammates. How will they do their jobs if they aren't even potty trained?"
"Well, Loki won't be causing us any trouble. I don't think. At least not until SHIELD can figure out how to change them all back."
"If they can change them back. . ." Natasha muttered under her breath. He was right, however, about them being well – she could admit it to herself – cute. She looked back at the tiny Avengers. Tony's miniaturized suit had been removed and he was sleeping in the black pants and shirt that he had been wearing when he suited up. In this young form he had no mustache, and the bit of gray he had in his hair was gone. To Natasha, who really did not have too much experience with young people, Tony looked to be about four. Steve was by far the tiniest, and Natasha was reminded that before the serum Steve had been even smaller even than her. She couldn't really gauge his age because of his size, because he looked to be about two but she had a hunch that she was wrong. Bruce had the same curly dark brown hair that his adult self had had, and looked just a bit younger than Tony. Thor's beard had also disappeared in his tiny form. He looked the oldest by far – perhaps five – and Natasha remembered that he had mentioned being a few thousand years older than all of them. Something about being a god and all. He had his long blond hair, but it was now fine, and very light.
"How the hell are we going to fix them?" Natasha wondered out loud, talking to herself. There was no response from Clint.
An hour later the Avengers and the prankster were awake. A SHIELD woman had come and given them a set of legos to play with, and Nick Fury summoned Natasha and Clint.
"How did this happen?" He asked, his voice as irritable as ever. Natasha told him the story. They were told that a pediatrician was coming in to look at the newly-created children, for check-ups.
"Sir, what about Loki?" she asked after she was finished filling him in.
"I imagine we'll have to keep him here."
"But what about the other four? We're not equipped to care for five little kids!"
"What do you expect me to do? We can't exactly put them up for adoption or into foster homes. We don't know what their brains are like yet – are they actual children or just trapped in tiny bodies? Or is it some messed-up combination of the two? We don't know yet!"
Natasha and Fury argued back and forth until Clint spoke up, interrupting them, looking thoughtfully at the door standing in between them and the sleepy children who were so recently towering over him.
"What if Nat and I watched over them, just until a cure is found?"
If looks could kill.
Clint had always kind of wanted kids. He just never had had the opportunity. As he watched Natasha and Fury argue, the idea popped into his head and he couldn't let it go.
Besides, it made sense – to him at least. He and Natasha were incredibly equipped to deal with any trouble the tykes could dish out.
So he went for it. And the two just stared at him. Natasha looked like she wanted to murder him, but Nick had a thoughtful look in his eye.
"That might work," he said after a few moments.
Three hours later, Clint sat in a van being driven by Natasha. He looked behind him at the five car seats on two rows of car benches. He couldn't help but laugh at four-year-old Tony. He kept hitting three-year-old Steve, who sat right next to him. Tony was talking up a storm about everything that happened since he had woke up, and even as a four-year-old he sounded like he liked himself a little too much, and he certainly had the words to express it. Steve, however, was just glaring at Tony, "Stop it!"
"Tony, stop hitting Steve," Clint said.
"Why?" Tony asked, temporarily halting his abuse.
"Because if you don't I'll hit you." Clint didn't mean it, but it got Tony to leave Steve alone. Clint glanced at Natasha. She was staring straight ahead, her eyes narrowed. It had taken a while to get her to (very reluctantly) agree; but she did finally did so. They were currently headed back to Stark Tower, where they planned to live while they had to take care of the four little superheroes and super-villain. They were moving into Tony and Pepper's floor; the "main" floor – if a tower with over 50 stories could have a main floor. Clint was excited because it was the floor that had an enormous balcony overlooking New York. He did so enjoy being up high in the air.
Pepper had agreed, after the initial shock of seeing her beau as a toddler, to help look after all the boys at night after she was done at work, as well as the weekends.
Clint turned back around as a five-year-old Thor declared that he was hungry enough to eat an eight-legged-horse, which for some reason made the three-year-old Loki sitting next to him cry.
"We're almost home and we'll eat then, alright buddy?" He said to the blond god, who smiled broadly back at him and nodded vigorously. He glanced at Bruce, who hadn't said much yet, and was just staring out the window.
"What're you looking at, Bruce?" He asked, trying to get a feel for if this three-year-old version of Banner was the same calm and zen Banner that he knew.
"The buildings are really tall," he said, his quiet voice emphasizing his awe. Clint suddenly understood the phrase "child-like wonder".
"Well, the building where we live is really, really tall."
"Cool!" Bruce said, pumping his tiny fist in the air. Loki, who had stopped crying, copied him, pumping his own tiny fist in the air all the while smiling a wide toothy grin that was eerily similar to the one he flashed often as an adult right before he did something unexpected and usually unpleasant. Sure enough, he suddenly transformed into a copy of Bruce.
"Holy sh-cow!" Clint said, catching his language at the last minute – even though they technically were as old (and older) as he was, he still felt morally obligated to watch his language around kids.
"What?" Natasha shouted, concern and alarm apparent in her voice.
"Well, it appears that Loki can still shape-shift. Must've been something he was born with," Clint sounded wary. He still harbored resentment towards the God of Mischief for the events that transpired when they first met.
"Great!" Natasha said. "Now not only do we have to deal with five toddlers, but one of them can shape-shift, and one of them is probably going to turn into the hulk whenever we won't give him what he wants!"
"What's a hulk?" Tony asked as he started punching Steve again.
When they arrived at Stark Tower, Pepper met them on the bottom floor, reacting with some shock at seeing them. She had been filled in, of course, and it was her idea that they should live in Stark Tower with her, but nevertheless hearing that your boyfriend and his teammates were turned into children is one thing, but actually seeing them is a whole other ordeal. However, in her typical fashion, she regained her usual professional persona and took Tony and Steve in hand, and led them all up to the floor that she and Tony lived on.
Clint hadn't seen that floor after Tony rebuilt it, and was pleased. When they first walked through the main door they were greeted with a wide expanse that encompassed the living room and the dining room, the latter raised up a half-foot on a platform. There was a big, comfortable-looking couch, with a loveseat caddy-corner to the right, and an armchair directly across from it. A huge television faced the couch. An arching doorway led through to a spacious kitchen. To the right of the door was a wide hallway containing several doors on either side.
Pepper gave them the tour, showing them the guest room and its bathroom across the hall, a "game room" (which was really just another TV room with a stereo system and gaming consoles), Tony's enormous office, a linen closet, and a small gym – she told them that there was a much bigger gym one floor down. To the left of the living room was a much shorter hallway that ended in Tony and Pepper's bedroom.
A few hours later Clint was in the difficult process of getting all five boys to sit around the dinner table, which was relatively stressful. Thor was chanting "Food! Food! Food!" Loki was yelling at him to stop, Tony was asking over and over again what they were having, and Steve and Bruce were fencing with their forks. Clint glanced up in time to see Natasha and Pepper walk out of the kitchen, their hands full with four of the five dinner plates loaded with chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, and raw carrots.
"Clint, could you go get the last plate?" Pepper asked. He went and got the plate and hurried back to the dining room. He set it down in front of Loki, who pushed it away.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
"I don't want that," Loki replied, crossing his arms impetuously.
"Well you either eat that, or you don't eat."
"Clint!" Pepper chastised from where she sat next to the four-year-old version of her boyfriend. "Why don't you want that sweetie?" She got up and crouched next to Loki. He just shrugged his tiny shoulders refusing to look her in the eye.
Clint went over to where Natasha stood, observing. He leant against the wall next to her and gave her a, slightly apologetic, smile when she looked at him.
"I can't believe that the man who tried to take over the world a year ago is sitting at Tony Stark's table refusing to eat his vegetables," she said, rubbing her hand across her eyes.
"At least the others are eating without much fuss." Thor was digging in, and so were Steve and Tony. Bruce was picking at his plate, taking small bites every so often. Pepper eventually got Loki to take a few bites, and now he was taking bites when he thought no one was looking.
Clint went back into the kitchen and made up three more plates, food stacked high. He balanced two on one hand and held his own securely in the other as he made his way back to the dining room. He set one down in front of Pepper, who was once again sitting next to Tony, listening to him tell her all about his day. He seemed to know who she was – or at least that he really liked her. To what extent he knew her they had yet to figure out, but at least Pepper hadn't had to ward off the advances of a four-year-old. Yet. Clint wasn't sure to what extent any of them knew. He handed Natasha's plate over to her.
"Hey Captain," he said. Steve looked up at him. "How're you liking your nuggets?" He asked, taking mental note that Steve had responded to his title. Steve smiled, his mouth full of chicken, and nodded his head enthusiastically.
"Why did you volunteer us for this?" Natasha said before taking a bite out of her ketchup-smothered nugget. "We're not equipped for this! We're not parents! You can't keep threatening them when they don't do what we ask. And what are we going to do when Bruce throws a temper tantrum?" Clint frowned at his plate when she spat out the word "parents".
"Calm down, Nat. We'll just take it one day at a time. SHIELD will figure out how to fix them, I don't know how, but they will. They have some smart guys with them." Clint didn't need to mention the fact that the two smartest guys they would have had were currently throwing carrots at each other. "In the meantime we just have to keep them alive." Natasha shot him a glare as Tony aimed a carrot at Loki. As he let it fly Natasha snatched it out of the air and slammed it back onto his plate. Tony didn't throw any more food after that; in fact, none of them did.
A little while later, Clint was wrestling Steve and Bruce into their pajamas, which was not easy because they were tired, didn't want to go to bed, and fought him every time he advanced with the suddenly offending clothing. Pepper had gone last minute to the nearest mall and had basically bought out the children's clothing section at JCPenny's with Tony's money. She has also had five twin-sized beds express delivered – also with Tony's money - to put in the "guest room", which was more like "guest quarters" because of the sheer enormity of it. Natasha would sleep in the game room, which had a rather nice pullout bed. Clint was to sleep in the living room on the couch. He didn't really mind, and Natasha was still mad at him for volunteering to be caregivers instead of assassins so there was no chance of her sharing the pull out bed with him, as they had done during missions before when there was limited sleeping space.
After he got Steve and Bruce in bed he watched as Natasha tucked Thor in bed. Tony was already sprawled out on his bed, almost asleep as Pepper kissed him on his forehead and then bade them good night as she went to prepare to go to bed herself.
Clint looked on as Loki and Natasha stared at each other. So far the tiny god had fought them on everything. Clint thought it was because he remembered his distaste for them – well them minus Clint, whom he had chosen when he first came to Earth and had for some reason taken a liking to. Clint avoided interacting with the tiny super-villain, however. Natasha said it was just because Loki was a stubborn person who had been that way his whole life.
Clint just found him irritating beyond belief. Eventually Loki's drowsiness got the better of him and he lost his staring contest with Natasha.
"Are you going to go to sleep now?" She asked softly.
"No," Loki told her, even as his eyelids were drooping closed.
"Okay then," she said, patting Loki on the top of the head. Loki lay down and tried to keep his eyes open to stare defiantly up at her, but eventually Natasha's patience won out and Loki's eyes closed.
"I hope they sleep through the night," Clint said as he and Natasha filed out of the boys' room. He turned out the light, and the room filled with a faint blue glow from Tony's arc reactor.
"They should," Natasha said. "They're about the age now where they sleep all night and go all day." She sighed and bid him good night, heading the opposite way down the hall from Clint who headed back to the living room.
Clint went to his large duffel bag that sat on the end of the couch and got out a t-shirt and a pair of flannel sleep-pants. He changed and headed to the bathroom to brush his teeth. When he was finished he sat down on the couch and spread out the blanket that Pepper had set out for him.
"JARVIS," he said, lying down.
"Please alert me if any of the little ones wake up."
"Yes, sir, shall I display the camera?"
"Uh," Clint thought for a second. "Why not, go ahead." Suddenly a holographic display screen popped up in front of Clint in the middle of the living room. He could clearly make out all five of them, all in their respective beds save Loki who was curled up next to his brother. Clint smiled and thought; at least he's sleeping.
Clint watched for another minute or two before he, too, closed his eyes and fell asleep.
I hope you all liked the first chapter! I've been working on this fic for a long time now and I was going to wait until it was completely finished before I uploaded it, but I just couldn't resist.
This takes place in an AU where Loki escaped before Thor took him back to Asgard.
I plan on updating a new chapter every Tuesday, so I'll see you all again next week!
I would also like to thank my AMAZING beta, applewings, she's an awesome friend and an awesome writer and an awesome person. Go check out her blog on tumblr, same url. Also, if you have any questions about this fic please feel free to PM me or send me a message on my tumblr, livin-la-vida-loki-d
Have a great day!