Author's Note: And this is the end, my fine feathered friends. Thank you all for sticking with me through this story. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I've enjoyed writing it. If you have any ideas for future stories, drop me a line; I would love to hear from you. As always, please review and tell me what you think about the story and its ending!
Disclaimer: No infringement intended.
Somehow, through some sick twist of humor, Fury found himself acting as a chaperone at the Lincoln Prep Prom. Amidst the lights, decorations, and music, he seemed remarkably out of place. It didn't help he was wearing his usual uniform, though the eye patch helped intimidate some of the students from sneaking off. Arms crossed over his chest, the Director leaned against one of the walls of a hotel ballroom that had been rented and transformed into a Winter Wonderland, this prom's theme. Across the room, Pepper took a picture of the humorous scene with her phone.
"Not funny, Ms. Potts. I'll confiscate your phone as part of some top-secret nefarious plan."
"Oh, come on, Nick," she laughed as she leaned against the wall next to him. "You didn't have to chaperone. You chose this because you care about those kids."
"I didn't have to do this," Fury repeats. "Oh yeah because saying no to the Black Widow about something that directly involves her children is a walk in the fucking park. No, I prefer the torture of a high school dance over whatever form of punishment she could concoct."
"If I remember correctly, the nametag on your desk does say 'Director,' does it not? Also, you've said no to her plenty of times before."
"I really should have known when Barton brought her in that it would be hell on Earth. Of course, the man who makes his own rules would find someone with a distinct disregard for protocol as well. I would also like to point out that the word 'no' isn't something Romanov likes hearing very much. It was either take her spot as the dance chaperone or she wouldn't go on the mission, and quite honestly, in the field, she's the only one who can corral that chaotic mess of people you call a family."
Pepper nodded knowingly. "You're included in that chaotic mess too, you know." A small grin may have played at the corners of his lips in a very uncharacteristic response.
"Role-wise, I'm just supposed to keep an eye on the general room and make sure nothing blows up, correct?"
"You've been working with Tony for far too long. Things don't usually blow up at school dances, especially not in the sense you're thinking of. Usually 'blow up' refers to drama."
"Is that somehow relevant knowledge to running an secret intelligence agency?"
"Yes, everything is relevant. Who knows your next wave of intergalactic super villains could be mutant teenage girls?"
"No," Fury stated bluntly. "No, I refuse to believe that is even in the realm of possibilities."
The tall, blonde woman laughed good-naturedly, and Fury found himself realizing that this might not be the worst situation. He stood a little taller, knowing Coulson would be proud of him.
"So what is this that we're covered in," Steve asked, looking down at his suit. Spreading his hand, the green goop dripped down his forearm in large blobs.
"Good news and bad news," Bruce stated. "Good news: it's just alien innards. Bad news: it could be toxic."
"That's your idea of good news?" Tony looked disconcerted at the thought. "It's on my suit!"
"Damnit, Tony. It's on my skin," the archer countered.
"It's not my fault you wear a damn vest, and do you know how expensive this suit is? It's more than money. It was built from my sweat, blood, and tears," Tony rambled on dramatically. His arms gestured as he spoke, flinging goo across the jet.
"I'll show you sweat, blood, and tears, if you don't shut up." Barton growled, trying pointlessly to wipe the substance from his face.
"Really? That's your comeback. That's the best you've got? You're getting soft in your old age, Robin Hood."
"When will you know if it's toxic or not," Natasha questioned, completely ignoring the immature antics of the men.
"I'll run some tests when we get back to the Tower until then, all of you will need to be in lockdown. Hopefully, there are no side effects."
"Ha… Side effects… No, no, don't hug Daddy. He's toxic," Tony griped. "At least Fury is chaperoning a school dance right now," he remembered. "There is definite comedic value in that. I hope Pepper took a picture. I wonder how many students will ask what's behind his eye patch. Maybe he'll recruit some insubordinate students to S.H.I.E.L.D as punishment for being too handsy with their dates or something. Oh then Legolas could train them! Oh that would be funny too."
"Shut up, Stark," Rogers demanded.
"Why aren't you flying back to HQ?"
"Because whatever the hell this goop is offsets the dynamics of my flight pattern. I could fly into a building and crash or something."
"Oh please. Please fly home. I want to see you fly into a billboard," Barton begged in a mocking tone.
"I bet I could throw a rock at the school's dance and find two teenagers with higher maturity levels than the two of you," Natasha muttered to herself. Bruce heard her comment and cracked a smile. She tried to shift in her seat, her suit clinging to her skin uncomfortably as the goo started to harden. "I think that lockdown is going to be more difficult than usual." Bruce raised a questioning eyebrow. "It feels like it's hardening into a cast, of sorts. We'll be stuck to whatever we're touching when the substance dries completely."
"Well that could complicate things."
As fate would have it, the Avengers landed as Fury unloaded Philip, Amelia, and their respective dates from the car.
"Umm, 'Melia, are your parents Avengers?" Patrick asked, a little confused at the four adults awkwardly standing in the lobby.
"Yeah," she drawled slowly. "Avenger Towers," she waved her hands to gesture to the building itself.
"You realized you're covered in green shit, right," Philip questioned as he walked towards the elevator.
"Really, son? That's your question?"
"Valid question," Fury added.
"Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Barton, nice to see you again," Leila greeted, trying to figure out if she should just wave or attempt a handshake.
"You probably don't want to touch them," Amelia told her.
"What is that stuff," Patrick wondered, his head tilting to the side as he stared at the Black Widow seemingly trapped in a slimy green casing.
"You probably don't want to know," Philip answered. "It's always safest not to ask questions. You just nod and smile and, when relevant, give appropriate sounds of understanding."
"Couldn't you just do that in my debriefings, Barton? Instead of making paper airplanes to launch at my head? Your son is smart- clearly, he's Natasha's child."
"Paper airplanes are a valid use of your department-wide memos," Barton countered. "Otherwise, it's just a waste of paper."
"You better be damn grateful I don't have another archer on retainer." The elevator dinged its arrival, and the four teenagers clamored on, Fury following them in.
"Is it strange to anyone else that not a single one of them asked if we were okay? Seriously, we don't get covered in intergalactic goop that often. Someone should be wondering if it's a biohazard or something, but no," Tony grumbled. "No, it's okay; lets mock the Avengers. It's not like we save the world on a daily basis or anything. Seriously, if this shit didn't restrict my movement, oh, I would pop him a new one on his shiny, baldhead. Oh," he exclaimed. "We should draw a treasure map on the back of his head one day."
"It does fit with the whole pirate theme we've had going on," Barton agreed. "I should remember to ask him about his peg leg."
"He does keep it very well maintained. Maybe he uses wood polish?"
"That's the perfect Christmas gift! Look, Tasha, I crossed someone off our list already!"
For years, her husband had been trying to slip prank gifts in with all the real ones. "One day, he's going to kill you, Barton. One day," she laughed, already knowing she would have to double check Fury's gift for Pledge. On the other hand, she thought, it would be great to watch him try and explain himself.
Decades ago had someone told her she would be giving gifts to the director of a secret intelligence agency and expecting him to show up for Christmas dinner she would have scoffed and asked what mission required gift giving and holiday cheer.
When she looked back, she couldn't truly pinpoint how she made it to that point when her ledger didn't drip blood or when the job became less important than the life she came home to. There was no clear connect-the-dots explanation of how the small, Russian orphan-turned-deadly-assassin morphed into a mother, a wife, and a friend. It was a crazy life, utterly beautiful in its unique chaos. Normal never described her; it never quite seemed to fit.
After all, she was a spider who fell in love with a hawk.
The rest, as they say, was history.