I apologize greatly for the wait. I've been writing the chapter and had planned to have it up a day or two after the prologue, but when you're in high school things don't always work out as planned. But I wasn't putting it off; I have been writing! I love all you guys who are reading this. This is the biggest response I've ever gotten for a single chapter. So I'm going to shut up and let you read. But first, shout-outs!
To everyone who is following:
To everyone who favorited:
To everyone who reviewed:
I'm A Book Ninja: Thank you! I love The Avengers. It really is a good movie for fanfics!
Knead Me: Thank you! I did write more, haha!
Lastavica: Thank you! I love Bruce. He's probably my favorite Avenger.
ShadowGrace: Thank you! I've grown up knowing that swearing is bad, so I try to make Tony seem as awesome as he is without using "foul language" and inappropriate jokes.
This chapter has skipped eleven years ahead, so it's now the year 2024 (Prologue takes place 2013, one year after the Chitauri/Loki fight). Don't worry, I'll go back so you know what's happened!
I hope everyone enjoys! By the way, most updates probably won't be this fast; I get Writer's Block a lot. But I'll do my best!
"Good morning, Sydney. It is 6:30 AM on Thursday, April fourteenth, 2024. It will be sunny today with a low of 65 degrees Fahrenheit and a high of 71 degrees Fahrenheit. The current temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit."
I groan and bury my face in my pillow. "Thank you, JARVIS," I mumbled.
"Of course, Sydney."
After laying still for a moment, I roll out of my big, warm bed and shove my feet into my slippers. I pad to my walk in closet and stare at the contents for almost ten minutes. Finally, I grab a few hangers and slip on a pair of black skinny jeans, a white camisole under a grey striped quarter-sleeve top, and navy socks. In my bathroom, I wet down my already-curly hair and add mousse to tame the brown corkscrews.
After making my bed, I head out of my room and down the hall to the elevator at the end. The doors close and I'm automatically taken to the 4th floor.
There are amazing smells wafting out from the kitchen. There are already three people at the breakfast bar, along with a man standing at the counter.
The only woman in the room looks up and smiles. "Morning, Sydney," she greets.
"Morning, Natasha." I walk over to the blond-haired man at the counter. "What's for breakfast, Steve?" I ask, standing on my toes to try and peer over his shoulder.
Steve smile at me. "Pancakes."
"Yum!" Steve makes the best pancakes I've ever tasted.
"How'd you sleep, Syd?" one of the men at the bar asks.
"Really well. Don't worry, Clint," I tease, "I got enough sleep last night. I'm perfectly awake."
"Whatever you say, Syddie-girl!" the third man in the room exclaims cheerily.
I groan at the awful nickname.
"Are you torturing my daughter again, Tony?" a voice asks.
A man with short, curly brown hair and brown eyes comes into the kitchen, a playful smile on his face as he looks at his best friend.
"Course not, Big Guy," Tony replies, deadpan. "I'm insulted you'd insinuate such a thing."
Bruce Banner just rolls his eyes and smiles.
I've been told by Steve that Bruce used to smile only rarely, and that he only joked when forced. Looking at him now, I can't see it. He's just so carefree, so happy. It seems impossible that only eleven years ago he'd been so withdrawn.
They all say it was me that brought him out.
"Speaking of my daughter," Bruce begins. He puts an arm over my shoulder. "How are you this morning, my Sydney Bean?"
I giggle. "I'm great, Dad."
"Oh, come on," Tony whines. "He gets to call you Sydney Bean, but I can't call you Syddie-girl? How is that fair?"
"It's not," I reply. "How would I ever have fun if I let you call me Syddie-girl without complaining?" I may be Bruce Banner's daughter, but growing up around Tony Stark has had some effect on my personality.
Steve turns from the griddle. "Food's done!"
Everyone gathers around the breakfast bar and digs into the steaming pancakes and crispy bacon.
Of all of us, Steve is pretty much the only one allowed to use the kitchen. I mean, we all come and go as we please, but we're limited to the use of the microwave, the blender, and the toaster. Each of us has almost set something on fire at least once.
"Who's on language today?" I ask Natasha.
She swallows a sip of tea. "I have a meeting with Fury. Thor's in New Mexico right now; he should be back in time for your lesson."
I nod. Thor is the only Avenger who doesn't live solely in Stark Tower. He alternates between here, Asgard, and New Mexico. The majority of his time on Earth is spent in New Mexico with his girlfriend Jane. I don't know why they haven't made it official yet; they're both obviously in love. But for whatever reason, they haven't gotten married. If they don't soon, I might just go crazy.
I listen to Dad and Tony bicker. Clint is talking to Steve about some archery thing, with Toshie - as only I can call her - joining in occasionally.
Yep. Life as usual.
When I was five, I told Dad I wasn't going to school.
It was something the adults had been debating. I'd been living in Stark Tower for two years, and the Avengers had yet to release the news of my adoption. No one wanted to have to explain the situation to the world. Bruce was - and still is - more well known as Hulk than by his actual name, but that would change if everyone knew about me. They'd ask who adopted me, and then they'd want to know who Dr. Bruce Banner was, and then everyone would be outraged that someone who turned into a giant green monster that smashed everything in its path was allowed to be responsible for a child.
One night, when I was supposed to be in bed, I snuck down to the second floor, where I knew they all gathered in the training room every other night to work out. But this time no one was doing much of anything. Instead, they all sat or stood around the large room, talking about me. I'm not one to eavesdrop, but I was still young and convinced they were going to send me back to the orphanage someday.
"I just don't know if she'd be able to handle it," Bruce was saying.
"It's kindergarten, Bruce. Not brain surgery," Tony replied.
"I know, but she's small for her age, and she still stumbles over words. I went to public school; I know how bad kids can be, even five-year-olds."
Steve had spoken, then, and I remember being startled by the hardness in his tone. "Then she shouldn't go."
(Later I found out that there's nothing Steve hates more than bullies, of any kind.)
"But this is an important experience!" Natasha butted in. "Are you planning on keeping her locked away her whole life? Cause I don't know if you forgot, but eventually Rapunzel left the tower!"
Thor turned his head suddenly. "The little one is present."
Everyone had turned to look at me. I lowered my head and walked into the room.
Bruce gave me a stern look. "What are you doing out of bed, Sydney?"
I looked up at him with big, wet eyes. "I don't wanna go."
His expression was pure confusion. "Don't wanna go where?"
"I don't wanna go to school. I wanna stay with you and Tony and Toshie and Clint and Stevie and Thor and JARVIS!" Okay, so maybe JARVIS isn't an actual person. I hadn't known that.
"Are you sure, Sydney?" Bruce asked.
I nodded. "I wanna stay."
And so it'd been agreed amongst the team of heroes that I would be homeschooled, and they would teach me.
I don't regret my decision. I have my family and am perfectly content with my life as is.
It's one of the many ways that I really am Bruce's daughter: I don't need to be surrounded by tons of people. I just need to be accepted and loved.
"...So when the Trojans were asleep, the Greek soldiers snuck out of the hollow wooden horse and attacked. Many Trojans died, although some fled and found refuge in Rome. And that was the downfall of Troy."
I stare at the blond-haired man. "So there was an entire war... because a guy kidnapped someone else's wife?"
Steve nods. "But you have to keep in mind that Helen was the queen of Sparta, and Paris was just a prince of Troy. It wouldn't have been acceptable anyway, but since they were both royalty, it constituted war."
"That's ridiculous. Why would Paris do that?"
"He claimed they had fallen in love. Since this was Ancient Greece and everyone believed in the gods, Paris concluded that it must have been Aphrodite, who is...?"
"The goddess of love."
"Perfect." Steve checks the clock. "And that's class. See you at lunch."
I stand up and hug him. "Bye, Stevie!"
Five minutes later I arrive at a steel door and the second floor. I type in the code and step inside when the door slides open.
"Tony!" I shout.
I hear a clang near one of the many worktables. Tony stands up, rubbing his forehead.
"Hey, Sydney," he says, obviously trying to play off his incident.
I stifle a laugh. "You okay there?"
"Of course I am, why wouldn't I be?"
I just shake my head and smile.
As Tony bends down to pick up whatever it is he's working on (I've found that it's usually better not to ask), I hop up onto an unoccupied table.
"So what's the plan for today?" I ask, swinging my legs.
Tony wipes his hands on a cloth. "I figured that ol' Brucie would want us to work on your Geometry..."
"...but then I decided I don't feel like explaining corresponding and vertical angles to you today. So we're going to work on my helmet."
I grin. "Awesome!"
The best thing about Tony being my math teacher is that we normally only do the subject twice or so a week. The rest of the time is spent working on some new invention of his or updating his Iron Man suit. Sometimes he even lets me mess around on the computer and challenges me to design something.
Tony and I work on his Iron Man helmet for an entire hour, adding updates and tweaking some of the wiring a bit. I've always been fascinated by his suit (okay, so when I was little, I just liked the colors; so sue me) and when he lets me help I always jump at the opportunity.
Once our hour is up, I reluctantly hug Tony goodbye and make my way to the elevator, where JARVIS automatically transports me to the fifth floor.
I stop at the open door beside the elevator and peer inside.
Dad is bent over a lab table, head down as he focuses on whatever is before him. His glasses are on for once, which is a very rare occurrence because he's always afraid of losing them.
I find it amazing, how much I know about this man. I know that he rarely wears shoes, not even at SHIELD meetings; that his fingers twitch when he's forced to sit still for long periods of time; that, on the days he's forced to release the Hulk for battle, he sneaks into my room at night and curls up beside me on my bed to sleep. I know all his little quirks. Even after eleven years I still haven't gotten used to it.
I watch Bruce silently for a moment before clearing my throat. His head swings around.
"Hey, Sydney Bean," he greets, grinning widely.
"Hi, Dad," I reply. I quickly walk to my lab table and call up a computer screen. When it appears, I enter a program and go to my saved work from Friday.
Is my dad supposed to be my science teacher? Yes. Does he ever really teach me science? Not since I was ten.
Most of the time, I'm working as Dad's assistant, helping him with little projects, figuring out equations and such. Yes, I'm only fourteen, but age doesn't matter much when your dad's a scientific genus, one of your "uncles" is a scientific genus, and you're almost always in the labs with them growing up.
Dad and I are experimenting with an ordinary home security system, attempting to alter it so that, in the event someone is forgetful and doesn't turn it on, it will automatically switch on and only allow those who have an established password to enter at a set time. Yeah, I know we could just use JARVIS and save ourselves some headache, but where's the fun in that?
We've been working for about ten minutes when Dad brings it up.
"I heard a class from a high school in Brooklyn visited the Museum of Natural History last week."
I nod, eyes on the interface screen before me.
He's silent for a moment. "A group of juniors are taking a trip to Washington D.C. next month."
"Mm-hmm," I murmur. "Try connecting the yellow wire to the blue one."
He does as I suggest. "There's a senior class going to France as a senior trip."
I sigh and turn to him. "I know what you're doing, so you can stop hinting and just say it."
Bruce straightens and looks me in the eye. "I hate homeschooling you."
I wait patiently. I've learned that when Bruce has something to say, he usually starts out with a statement, and the statement hardly ever means what it sounds like.
A moment later, he continues. "I hate that you're always stuck here, in the Tower, learning from six people who aren't always going to be able to teach. I hate that we're the only people you talk to. I hate that you don't have friends your age that you can call up and got the movies and shopping with. I hate that because of me, you don't have a social life."
I make sure he's finished before speaking.
"I made the choice to have you teach me. I'm the one who refused to go to kindergarten. I'm the one who was too afraid to leave the Tower without one of you. I'm the one who decided to stay even after I got older. It was my choice, Dad. I made it, and I take full responsibility for the results."
He goes to speak but I continue.
"I'm not stuck in the Tower; you guys take me shopping, out to eat, to see the lights at Christmas time. When you leave to fight, I like waiting for you to come home so I can lounge around with you while you recuperate. I don't only talk to you; I talk to Pepper and Jane and Maria, too. I don't need 'friends my age'; I'm comfortable with you guys. I also don't need a 'social life'; I've got one with all of you.
"I don't need to go to public school, Bruce. I'm happy where I am."
I hardly ever call my dad Bruce. He knows I'm serious.
"Okay," he relents, and I relax. But a minute later, he adds, "But I still want you to meet kids your age."
I hold back a groan. "Dad, I'm not gonna go to some group for socially-deprived teens."
"No, no, of course not," he agrees. "I was thinking more along the lines of tours."
I'm confused. "Tours?"
Dad nods. "Tony has been thinking about opening up the Tower for tours, seeing as it's the home of the Avengers and everyone wants to see inside. Plus this whole building is a huge advancement in technology. I know a lot of tours would probably be for adults, but teachers might want their students to see the wonders this place. You can be in charge of the high school tours."
I raise an eyebrow. "And Tony completely agrees with this?"
"It has received the official Tony Stark stamp of approval."
Slowly, I nod. "Okay. Yeah, I could do that."
Dad smiles, and I know he's satisfied.
For the rest of the hour, the only words spoken between us relate to our work. This allows me time to think.
I usually do whatever Dad asks. He's already adopted me, giving me a home, a last name, and a family. If he needs something from me, I strive to do it. I literally owe my life to him, after all.
School is the one thing I won't give in to. I think if I were to start now, I would be terribly overwhelmed. I'm used to one-on-one, only-when-I'm-in-the-mood teaching. If I were put in a classroom with at least fifteen other kids, I might have a nervous breakdown.
And anyway, I like it here. My classes are actually fun. I know all my teachers, obviously, and it's pretty easy to get them off topic when I don't feel like doing schoolwork. I'm free here, at ease, able to act like my normal self because everyone already knows how crazy I am. At a real school, I wouldn't get any of that.
When I was five, I gave up a life with friends for a life with my family. And not for one day have I ever regretted it.
So that's that! Hope you liked it, and I hope it isn't too confusing or anything.
I'm not sure when the next update will be. I have to update my other stories, plus I have a huge project in World History, and skit in Theatre, and a huge 5-7 minute midterm speech to write and memorize for Speech & Debate. So school keeps me pretty busy, plus the club I'm in called Junioretts and the fact that I'm looking for a job. So updates will come when they come. But please have faith in me!
If you liked this chapter, please leave a review. Reviews make me feel loved.