Author's Note – This one-shot was written in celebration of the numbers of hits received by "Compass Rose". It is set somewhere in Chapter 5 of "Rose".

It's A Family Thing

Darcy Lewis smiled as she danced in place and drove the final nail into the wall. She stepped back to consider her work. The wall was ready. She just needed the mugs.

About a month or so after moving into the mansion, Darcy had decided it was time to make the common area of the labs comfortable. She adored the new space. She had a room, her files had a room, and there was a large common area shared by her and all of the labs. She installed couches and cushy chairs with lots of throw pillows and crocheted blankets her mother sent from home. (She knew her people, and it was easier to make them take a power nap than get them to their rooms in the middle of an inspiration.) At the bar between the couches and the refrigerator/coffee counter, she put in some tall, but comfortable bar chairs. The common room walls were mostly made of some hard-to-break plastic so people (i.e. her) could keep an eye on the scientists. The wall by the filing room however was standard drywall. That's where the refrigerator and a set of cabinets were, but only lower cabinets, making it perfect for a coffee counter. The wall above them was a blank space just waiting for her to fill. She instituted a rule – scientists were not allowed to hang anything on that wall. She had plans.

Darcy had all but dragged a semi-confused, semi-amused Steve Rogers to the hobby store for supplies. She gave him the basic idea and then told him to go crazy. Then she sat back and did her best to be patient. It wasn't easy. She really, really wanted to get that wall decorated. First, it needed something – she hated blank walls. Second, if she didn't hurry up, there'd be drawings and diagrams and who-knows-what-else from her trio of "so smart they might be insane" scientists.

Finally the day had come. Steve delivered three beautifully designed homemade coffee mug holders. All three were made out of wood, and she had to smile at the color palette. He'd stuck with his signature red, white, and blue, but it was subtle, done in various shades and methods so it was more hinted at than in your face. If you looked carefully at the designs, you could see the hint of sketches, pictures hidden in the swirls and patterns. She'd searched them and found stylized designs of a hammer, an arrow, and a dagger. There was also a shield, a mask, and a hand. Her eyes got teary when she also spotted eyeglasses and a shooting star, but she had to giggle at the hint of a high heeled shoe. Each of the holders could hold up to six mugs.

Now, she was ready to hang the mugs. She reached under the counter and pulled out a box. It held the original five mugs which had journeyed with them from New Mexico. While she knew it might be more "team" if she put all of the Avengers on one holder, she wanted the mugs done her way. The order people joined her family.

So, naturally, her mug was first: "I'm multi-talented: I can talk and piss you off at the same time." She'd picked it up her senior year of high school after she'd managed to tick off half her hometown by putting the star quarterback in the emergency room and tell off the authorities for trying to charge her when it was clearly a form of self-defense. Well, mostly – she had stepped in to save her best friend, but close enough.

Next was Jane: "I think of space not as the final frontier but as the next frontier. Not as something to be conquered but to be explored. Darcy found that one on eBay after one night when Jane had a little too much tequila and started speculating on what was beyond the solar system, the galaxy, and maybe even the universe. If it hadn't been for Thor's unbelievable arrival, she would swear Jane had been born in the wrong century. She needed to be born in Star Trek time, not when the majority of mortals were still stubbornly earth-bound.

Erik's blue one was third: "Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing." Darcy bought this one straight off of Amazon. Erik had gotten a mug after he arrived because he gave Jane someone else to focus on.

Darcy blinked back moisture as she hung up the fourth one. It was Phil's, all white with a stoic looking face: "I am smiling." Her lips turned up slightly at the sight of the straight line mouth on the mug. Phil had so totally earned it by returning her iPod and playing hangman for hours while Jane and Erik ranted.

The fifth one brought a melting warmth to her heart. Clint loved the saying on his: "Fast is fine but accuracy is final. You need to learn to be slow in a hurry." She'd wanted something more archery, but he insisted. The bow was his favorite weapon, but not his only one and this saying fit all of them. He'd earned his even before they started dating. He made runs for pop-tarts at ridiculous hours of the night, and let Jane rant, rave, or just rhapsodize on her science.

Those mugs had followed them from New Mexico and took up most of the first mug holder. Thor would end up with a mug, but it would wait until he got back on a semi-regular basis. She was not hanging up something else for Jane to sigh and mope over. He'd just have to count from that time instead of his first visit. While she was still contemplating what mugs to get the others when the time was right and what order to hang them in, she did have one in particular that was ready to go.

She pulled out a small box and opened it. Darcy took out the black mug and admired the artistic white scrollwork framing a single crimson red poppy on one side. The scrollwork continued around the mug and created a frame around a solid black rectangle. Delicate white script flowed beautifully across the rectangle: "You can only beat nature when you show the bitch who's boss." She had to have this one specially made, but that was okay. These days she had connections. She reached up and hung it on the last peg of the original family mug holder.

Darcy smiled as she stepped back and leaned on the bar behind her. The other mugs would come sooner or later – she could feel it. Right now, though, this was just perfect. She reached for her phone.

"Hey, Tasha! Want some coffee?"