I still own nothing.

Very sad :(

Chapter 12

Toni decided that she had been very shallow in her initial impression of the floating S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. Oh sure it was pretty to look at – very pretty to look at. With its shiny bulkheads and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang capabilities it was a conspiracy theorists dream come true – and she was sure the great American public would just LOVE to know where their Tax dollars were going (like in keeping Fury in fashion with Armani patches and imposing leather jackets). But even the pretty blinkies surrounding her in the lab couldn't make up for how crap people were.

She had been on the carrier a day and a night and she was fed up of the human beings surrounding her.

They looked down on her constantly. She could see what they thought of her ('him' she reminded herself, 'him') in their eyes whenever she opened her mouth.

Who was she kidding. People in general didn't bother her. Most of the time the staff on board the carrier were too busy doing what they were doing to pay her much mind unless she opened her big mouth and let something sarcastic fly – and then frowns and looks of disapproval were thrown her way.

But it was captain Icicle Butt who was really starting to get on her wick.

His self-righteousness and boy-next-door persona set her teeth itching from the sugary sweetness of it all – if she had to get dental work because of the sweetness she was sending the bill to Fury (it was the principle of the thing). And he actually ignored her earlier. That was just rude.

She had woken up that morning, groggy and seeing double – lack of sleep tended to do that to a person – but after getting out of bed (well, it was more of a graceful roll/flop from the bed to the ground), having a shower (that she was still mostly asleep during), pouring her tired, floppy limbs into yesterday's clothes (hell, the hologram got to wear the same clothes so why couldn't she?) and firing up the cuffs she staggered to the mess hall and chugged down two cups of coffee in ten minutes. She felt like a new woman.

She had decided as she chewed through her bacon and rubbery eggs that she would try her best to behave today. It wasn't Star-Spangled-Banners fault that she had…issues. She would be nice.

So, when he had come into the mess she had called over to him.

"Yo, cap,"

She had even smiled.

And that, that humongous ancient jerk turned, looked her up and down, and with the stoniest expression she had ever seen he walked off.

Just like that.

What had she done WHILE SHE WAS ASLEEP to cause that kind of reaction?

Well screw him!

She pushed her chair away from table where she had been running the scanner over the alien-with-attitude's killer stick and walked to the other workstation. The one that held a very innocent looking silver can.

It had been a very quiet morning compared to the drama of the day before and Toni scrubbed at her eyes in a futile attempt to wake herself up and swiping the can from the table she took another (rather noisey) slurp of her Red Bull, the second can in the last hour (she had, after all, promised Pip that she would cut back on the caffeine). Well, it wasn't technically Red Bull any more. Thanks to her dumping several caffeine tablets into it she was hoping for it to send her straight into orbit and not to just giver her wings (so maybe she hadn't really cut back but in the event of the reactor exploding she had her will all made out so a caffeine overdose wasn't much to worry about).

She never slept well on the few occasions that he had been away from home and she was away from her own bed and this time was no different. She had spent most of the night thinking over her course of action.

Should she tell Fury her suspicions about the footage? It wasn't a surprise that her mind had immediately screamed 'HELL NO!' to that question. She liked the dude – to a point – but that did not mean that she trusted him. It was dangerous to view anyone in Fury's position as a friend and he needed to be viewed with suspicion – at least until J.A.R.V.I.S. had cracked the system and she could see just what the one-eyed bandit was hiding.

So now the question was whether she should she tell anyone? That one was a little more iffy.

Should she bother to do anything? Well duh, of course she should.

What should she do? Hell if she knew.

She sighed heavily and ran her eyes over the results to the long-term scans still being performed on Loki's sceptre. Nothing.

Now that she had the chance to look at it without worrying about how to set up the scanners she thought it was a very sleek weapon.

Pretty sexy.

She could appreciate a lovely, shiney piece of new tech as much as the next gadget loving girl but this was something else and she really wished she could get hold of whoever had made it and talk to them about it. The dagger sharp tip made it clear that it could be used as a close range weapon but then there was the power it channelled. How did it know it was to be fired? Did it read a person mind? A bio-signature maybe? There was no apparent on/off switch…

The door swished open and Bruce entered the lab with a food tray piled high with items. They had agreed to stay in the lab all day today and when no one could be found to fetch them some lunch Bruce had volunteered. Well maybe she had manoeuvred him into it. The guy needed to be around people more than she did.

He lowered the tray to an empty spot by one of the computer.

"The hunter gatherer returns," she announced, swaggering in true Stark fashion to the food and swiping up an apple.

Bruce simply rolled his eyes.

"All the way from the wilds of B-Deck," he dead-panned.

"Yeah, well, 'it's a jungle out there', or so they say," she smirked, biting into the apple.

2 hours later

Toni clicked her tongue on the top of her mouth and looked around the room for inspiration. Nothing. Well, she could peel off the wall panelling by the door and hotwire one of the scanners into the wall. Then all she would have to do was steal some kind of sample from Captain Goodie Goodie and set it to not let him in the room. Nope, that would just be sinking to his level.

Maybe she could drag one of the tables over to the hatch in the roof and play about with the lights. A screwdriver and some of that coloured plastic from lunch and she could have disco lights set-up in no time at all. Nope, too childish.

Why did Bruce have to be called away for a meeting with Fury? It wasn't fair. Here she was with one of the leading minds of the world and he was off no doubt getting some very rubbish wishy-washy excuse for the lovely greenhouse that had been built to keep something stronger and bigger than a freaking god trapped in it.

Yeah, like they couldn't all add that together and get HULK.

Boredom had quickly descended over her when Bruce left the room and her mind had began to wonder almost immediately. The readings weren't doing anything and she eyed up the staff as one would a sleeping lion. Wondering if it would bite off her arm if she prodded it with a stick.

So she began to think through a plan for her own sexy staff. She would have to design it to fold into itself in some way so it could be stored either on the back or in the arm of her suit. Or maybe along the thigh piece? She could design it on a slight angle and it would slide out with ease. Forward or backwards? Forward would mean less chance of injuring her arm and would lead to less strain.

She stood up and began to practice with an imaginary staff where the best place would be to store the future weapon. She moved slowly, ever mindful of her bandaged ribs. Her findings were inconclusive and she decided she would need to make the staff before she could know for sure. And then she would need to work on modifying the suit and then-

"What are you doing?" she stopped in the sweeping movement she had been making from the bottom of her left arm (around the elbow) out in front of her and turned around.

A slightly frazzled looking but amused Bruce stood in the door way. The doctor looked very tired and she wondered what effect coffee would have on his control. Maybe he would like some of her Red Bull.

"Just stretching," she raised her arms above her head to show what she meant and hid the wince as her ribs screamed in protest.

Not very clever, Toni.

She lowered her arms quickly and walked back to her station not bothering to hide her wincing but quickly controlled her features when she turned about.

"How did it go? Secret handshakes and blood oaths?" she asked.

Bruce grimaced and went to his own station. Pressing points on the screen and bringing up various windows to check results - not that anything had changed in the past hour and half since he had been gone.

"Contingency plan," he mumbled.

"Ouch," she mumbled back.

What was worse than having a secret kill plan against you? Having a not-so-secret kill plan against you, she decided.

"Yeah,"

An uncomfortable silence fell and she tried to think of a way to get across to him that he was doing pretty well – in her humble opinion – without offending him.

"Bruce, you must be doing something right if you are dealing okay with Captain Icicle Pants and our merry band of misfits,"

Deciding to take her point a bit further she picked up one of the charge rods and twisted the top, she felt it whiz and crackle slightly in her hand as the energy built. She casually approached Bruce and prodded him with the pencil sized stick, sending a quick jolt of electricity through him from his arm.

"Hey!" he called in shock and she quickly jerked forward, her face a mere inch away from his as she stared into his eyes. He had nice eyes.

She smiled and his body shifted slightly away from hers although his head stayed in the same place.

"See," she patted him on the back roughly, "nothing!"

Bruce only gave her a bemused smile as she moved out of his personal space.

"So be honest now, what's your secret?"

"Are you crazy?"

The annoyed and more than a little worried tone of the Capsicle blew her happy feeling right out of the water and kick started her own irritation.

He would have to show up now wouldn't he?

She straightened her back and turned her head lazily.

"Jury's still out," she told him and faced Bruce again, continuing as though there had never been an interruption.

"Yoga? Pan pipes? YouTube kitten videos? Ooo I know," she paused for dramatic effect, "you have a huge bag of weed hidden in your room don't you,"

Bruce chuckled at this and she felt a lovely warmth in her stomach at actually brining genuine amusement instead of annoyance to a person's face. It was a nice feeling. She could get used to it.

"Is this all a joke to you?"

Was he still there?

"Funny things are," she fired back at him, wanting him gone already. Maybe she should have set up the scanner after all. She could have set it to keep all people six foot tall and over out of the room. She might have had it finished by now.

"Threatening the safety of every man and woman on this ship is not a joke, Stark,"

I really hate you.

"Don't worry about it Captain. I wouldn't have come if I couldn't handle pointy things,"

Hah! See! Vindication.

Toni conducted a little victory lap in her head.

"You are here to work Stark. Do that," Captain America snapped and left the room, the door swished shut behind him. She was sure that of he could have he would have slammed it to make a point.

"That's the guy by dad never shut up about?"

Oh boy had Howard Stark gone on at a length about the world's first super hero. She had hours of tape and old videos that she could wade through whenever she wanted to listen to the old man harp on and great lengths about the great Captain America and how he wished his son to be just like him.

Blah, blah, blah.

The old fool had set himself up for a fall there actually. Dropping dead of a heart attack when he found out that she – his last chance at fatherhood – had been born a girl. How was he ever to live down the lie he had created for himself.

The father of an imaginary son and an all too real daughter.

She sighed.

"They should have kept him on ice,"

Hi guys.

I am so sorry for the long wait for his chapter. I was stuck in a bit of a hole and had no idea how to go on from the last chapter.

I hope you enjoyed this though.

There are some deviations from the movie with the arguments with Steve and Tony but it will be getting slotted in later on.

A little bit of Toni's history there too.

Have a great week guys.

Take care.