A Chance At Life

WARNING: Slight spoilers for other one shots that I might write

A/N: This is just total adorableness. A little glimpse into the happy ever after they should all get.

Epilogue – Happily Ever After
7 years after the battle for Dr. Doom

Caterina looked out at the group of people gathered in her backyard. The Avengers no longer lived and worked together daily since a new generation had taken over the guardianship of Earth so they made a point of seeing each other a few times a year. The bonds that had formed over years of fighting side by side still kept them a close knit group despite distance and other responsibilities keeping them apart.

As usual Steve was manning the grill with help from Clint. The two looked adorable in aprons patterned after their superhero alter egos. Tony always thought it was funny to give people little gifts that hinted at their old lives. Cat rolled her eyes thinking of all the pairs of Avengers underwear he had given her over the years.

She spied Tony now, bouncing both of his twin boys on his knees. Adam and Craig had just shared their fifth birthday and were already showing signs of being mechanical geniuses just like their father, much to Pepper's dismay. The two of them had taken apart countless systems in the mansion only to grow bored before they were put back together.

Speaking of Pepper, Cat looked around to see where she was only to spot her coming out of the house with another pitcher of lemonade. Caterina didn't fail to notice the way Tony's eyes lit up when he saw her. She might have been jealous if she didn't have her own wonderful husband who looked at her in exactly the same way.

Shaking herself out of her thoughts Shadow Cat decided it was much too quiet to be a good thing. No sooner had she noticed the lack of childish noise than peels of laughter and yelling came from the side of the house. Tony's two boys, not to be left out of any fun, squirmed to be let down and shot off in the direction of the racket.

A quick glance told Caterina that once again Natasha was stirring up trouble. Sure enough a very wet red head came bounding around the corner with a water pistol in each hand, firing over her shoulder. Once she saw the twins coming toward her she began dousing them as well, causing more delighted giggles.

Two older boys came around the corner. Caterina's own adopted sons, brothers who had lost their parents in a car accident and had no relatives to claim them. The day Cat had found out that, thanks to the tampering with her DNA, she could not have children she had been devastated. It was Clint's idea to adopt. He knew first hand how many children in foster care needed a good home and she was quick to agree to the idea.

Dylan and Conner were already five and seven when they were adopted two years ago and they had not stopped growing. They took to their new parents and extended Avenger family quite well, especially Natasha. Even though Hawkeye and Blackwidow had formally been retired the two SHIELD Agents worked together stillm training new recruits so the boys got to see a lot of their aunt. Natasha was always helping the pair get into some kind of trouble.

Shadow Cat mentally made a note to do the same with Natasha's kids, if she and Steve ever got around to having any. It wasn't the first time she had made that pledge to herself and she had many plans saved up for when the two of them got around to that eventuality. They had been married for three years so Cat thought it might be some time soon.

Cat thought back on all the Avenger weddings. First Tony and Pepper had made their long time relationship official, followed by Clint and Caterina who tied the knot while Pepper was very pregnant with the twins. Thor and Jane didn't waste any time either, getting married in a lovely ceremony on Asgard less than a year later. Natasha and Steve took the plunge the year after that. Only Bruce held on to his bachelorhood but Cat suspected that his long time girlfriend Jessie might soon put an end to that.

Speaking of Bruce and Jessie they finally arrived at the party. Only Thor and Jane could not make it to the barbeque. They usually only got back to Earth once a year and Jane often planned that to be around Christmas since it was her favourite holiday and it wasn't celebrated on Thor's home world.

Cat watched the two scientists dodge the pile of boys on top of Natasha and join Tony at one of the picnic tables. She went to join them and Jessie leaned closer to her and spoke in a fake whisper, "We are dangerously out numbered by boys here. We need to do something about this situation."

Cat grinned at her and held up her hands. "Don't look at me. Two boys are more than enough. I don't plan on adopting girls any time soon." Which Tony seconded, eyeing the pile of squealing youngsters getting tickled. Pepper piped up too, a mischievous smile on her face "Does that mean you are volunteering Jessie?"

With that comment Jessie blushed and Bruce started to sputter which set them all to laughing. Cat was almost caught off guard when Hawkeye leaned in to kiss her neck and ask what was so funny but his cologne gave her some warning as it washed over her just before he touched her. "Oh just asking Bruce when he is going to proposing. You know, the usual."

Hawkeye cast Bruce a sympathetic look. He remembered what a hard decision it was for him to ask Caterina to marry him. What kind of crazy girl wanted to be stuck married to an assassin who risked his life on an almost daily basis. Then again he never figured he would meet a woman like Shadow Cat. The last five years of marriage, and the two of dating before that, showed him just how right they were for each other. Clint had no doubt that Jessie was the right woman for Bruce. He just had to get over his fear of not being good enough for her.

Shaking the thoughts from his head he pulled himself back to the present. There was no use worrying about something that was not his problem, and Bruce's love life was definitely not his problem. The two of them would work it out eventually.

"Well," he spoke as the laughter died down. "I just came over to say that the food is almost ready. I better go extract Tasha from the munchkins and get everyone washed up. Come on Tony I could use some backup, just like old times." He squeezed Cat's shoulder softly and her hand came up to cover his for a moment before both men went to wade into the flailing pile. Picking one son up under each arm the two men disappeared into the house amid a flurry of giggles.

Natasha bounced up from the ground. Her hair was mussed and her clothes had grass clinging to them but she looked so happy. She was grinning and her cheeks had a healthy flush. Dancing over to her husband she received a quick kiss before joining the other adults at the tables. "I'll never get tired of chasing those kids around!"

Pepper rolled her eyes at that. "Oh yes you will. Just wait until you have your own and see if you have energy to chase after them like that."

"Well actually about that," said Steve while he set the platter of meat down on the table, "We have an announcement to make." He and Tasha shared a loving look as he bent down to put his hands over her stomach.

"Oh my god!" Squealed Jessie. Everyone else around the table was grinning at the pair before Steve could even get any more words out. Bruce stood up to shake his hand and the girls each pulled Natasha into a hug, their hands lingering on her stomach. Tony and Clint returned from the house with the boys to find the whole group in an uproar. It didn't take them long to figure out the cause and they too added their congratulations.

Tony slapped the captain on the back and told him he was in for it now. "The mood swings, late night cravings, not to mention the dirty diapers and all the crying. You have so much too look forward to!" Pepper must have kicked him under the table for saying that because he jerked, "Ouch! It's true"

His wife levelled her steely gaze at him. "My 'mood swings' were anger over you forgetting to show up for our birthing classes. You spent the first three months hiding in your lab whenever there was a dirty diaper that needed changing and the cravings? You never even had to leave the house. You just had anything and everything delivered. Also you can not say anything about my craving for bologna and cheese sandwiches when you regularly eat much worse things!"

Tony opened his mouth to make a come back but Cat put her hand over it to keep him quiet. "I'd quit before you dig yourself in deeper if I were you." He let out a sigh and mumbled something about horseradish and cucumber sandwiches being delicious before stuffing his face with a burger. Pepper continued to glare for a moment before fixing a hot dog for each of her kids and digging into her own meal.

Caterina looked around the table. Her husband and sons were the best things in her life but when the rest of the Avengers were around everything felt perfect. It saddened her that circumstances had led to the team moving apart. Tony and Bruce had headed back to Malibu to continue working out of the main Stark lab with their wives. Natasha, Steve, Hawkeye and Caterina were stationed outside of New York working at the SHIELD training base, not to mention Thor off on another planet. On the rare days that they could be together, even when not everyone could make it, Cat felt like she was in paradise. The contented looks and loving glances flying around the table told her that the others must feel much the same way.

Each Avenger shared a single thought that day. Life was good.

A/N: Well I still plan on a few one shots to fill in parts of the story. Like Tony's bachelor party, Clint and Steve's proposals, and the commotion over the birth of the twins. They will mostly be pure lemons so here ends the story of Shadow Cat and Dr. Doom. The sequel is the story of Jessie and Upsilon (don't worry Cat will be in that one as well).

Please review to tell me if you liked the story and feel free to offer any suggestions for one shots you want to see to fill in back story.