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Practical Magic

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12 Years Earlier

10 year old Irena walked down the hallways of her orphanage. She hated this place but it was all she had and it was better than living on the streets. She tried that already and it royally sucked. Clutching her small stuffed black cat that she called 'dark' closer to her, she quietly walked toward the game room. If the stupid boys who bullied her were not there, she might finally able to get the Nintendo to herself for a little bit. The orphanage didn't have much, so getting play time on the Nintendo was pretty coveted.

Peering through the crack in the game room door, she saw that the bullies were already there and sighed sadly. Of course they were, why should she get a chance to play the Nintendo anyway. Letting out another sad sigh, she turned away from the door and started to walk back down the hallway. Halfway there, she felt a hand grab her on her shoulder hard and whirled her around. Coming face to face with her bullies, her mismatched eyes of blue and green widened in horror.

Charlie, Toby and Alex were to put it quite simply complete jerks. Deep, deep down, she knew that it wasn't all totally their fault. Their situation was just as crappy as hers was and they were taking out their anger and frustrations with it on her. Somehow, they thought making her life miserable would make them feel better. She wondered how that was actually working out for them. Most of the time, she either dealt with it best she could or just ignored them, refused to let them get to her.

However today, she could tell she wouldn't be able to get away that easily. She knew that they were trying to do. They were trying to provoke her into losing control of her powers. If she did again, Mrs. Williams, the kind old lady who tried to run the orphanage the best could, would have to send her away to be institutionalized. Somehow, they thought this would give them a better shot at being adopted. So not only did she have to put up with them making her life terrrible just because, she had to live with that too.

She couldn't help but think that those boys weren't too bright. Nobody in their right mind would want to adopt her in the first place with powers like hers. Everybody thought that she was just a mutant but she didn't think so. Her powers didn't seem to function 'that way'. There weren't just one or two things she could do. Her powers did many things, none of which she could control very well. They seem to manifest the most when she was feeling any emotion intensely. It seemed to be especially bad when she felt extreme anger and sadness.

Suddenly, the tallest of the boys, Toby, ripped Dark from her arms snapping her from her thoughts.

"Hey! Give her back!" She yelled angrily.

The boy merely laughed and held Dark higher.

"Make me!" He laughed.

She watched in horror as Toby made to twist Dark's head off of her shoulders. She tried everything to get the stuffed animal back from him to no avail. His cronies Alex and Charlie did nothing but stare at her in amusement. Jerks.

"No, please don't!" She screamed.

She could feel the feeble control she had on her powers had begun to slip. Watched the look on the boy's faces change from amusement to fear as she was sure her mismatched eyes eclipsed to black. Blue energy surrounded both her hands, she lifted on up and she pointed her palm at Toby who had frozen in fear.

"I said give her back!" She snarled.

Before she could let loose the energy however, she heard the heavy footsteps of several adults coming towards her and the boys.

"Irena, please stop!" She heard Mrs. Williams shout.

She forced the energy around hands to dissipate. Gathering every ounce of courage she had, she turned around slowly. She was petrified that Mrs. Williams would send her away for this. She was shocked that Mrs. Williams was not alone. A younger looking woman and man were with her. The woman had very kind looking blue eyes and long blond hair. The man however, looked very proud and arrogant but she could see some emotions in his dark brown eyes. The man looked vaguely familiar for some reason. She thought long and hard for a moment and then the lightbulb came on. She remembered hearing Mrs. Williams saying something about Tony Stark and a donation. She blanched. The millionaire Tony Stark was going to make a donation to this orphanage and he was standing in front of her looking very angry. She was sure she had just wrecked everything.

Suddenly, he started moving forward and she could do nothing but remain frozen in place completely petrified. The boys also remained completely frozen in place not knowing what to do or say. She watched in shock and fascination as Tony Stark stomped up to Toby and snatched Dark from Toby's hands and handed the stuffed toy back to her. She looked up at him completely speechless.

"Hey you little jerks! Didn't anybody teach you it is not okay to rip the head of a little girl's toy!?" He reprimanded.

"Now scram!" He added, glaring darkly at them.

Shockingly, the boys listened to him and took off quickly.

Finally unfreezing, she clutched Dark tightly to herself and ran to Mrs. Williams.

Clutching at Mrs. Williams' dress, she buried her face into it and started sobbing. She couldn't help it. She was petrified she would be sent away now.

"P-please don't send me away Mrs. Williams! I promise it won't happen again!" She sobbed.

She felt Mrs. Williams try to calm her down.

"Hush child, I promise I won't send you away. Calm yourself." She murmured softly.

Calming down some, she watched with some distrust as Tony Stark shared a look with the lady with the kind blue eyes that she didn't quite understand and then approached her and Mrs. Williams. While her mind knew that Tony had just saved Dark, the rest of her was still kind of scared of him. He crouched down in front of her and she could sense that he was trying to be as non-threatening as possible.

"Hey Kiddo, how would you like to come and stay with Pepper and me? That way you could be my official assistant and there would be no annoying boys to bug you." He asked and then added jokingly. "Except me of course"

She looked at him like he grew 6 eye balls and sprouted tiny little green hairs. Was he being serious? Would he really take her with him?

She watched Tony's face fall a little as he realized that she didn't believe him.

"I'm being serious, Kid. Why don't you take Pepper here to help you gather your stuff and I will get this ball rolling." He said.

Cautiously, she let go of Mrs. William's dress and approached the lady she now knew to be Pepper. Pepper looked at her kindly and held out her hand. Taking Pepper's hand, she led she did as Tony asked and led her to where she kept her stuff. She never really considered it a room just a place where she kept her stuff. Rooms were supposed to feel safe this place never felt like that. She and Pepper gathered what little stuff she had. True to his word, Tony did 'get the ball rolling' as he promised and for the first time, it was the beginning of something 'good' in her life.

Present Day

Humming along to the music blaring from her speakers, Irena smiled to herself as she thought of that memory. It was by far her favorite. It was the first day in her life that she actually felt what it was like to be cared about. Even though it wasn't always easy, neither Tony nor Pepper ever gave up on her not even when she lost control of her powers. They never ever once threatened to get rid of her because of them. They taught each other new things every day. They became her family in every way but blood and she never cared about the blood part.

Currently, she was trying to fix part of Tony's hulk buster suit. Instead of becoming Tony's assistant like he once said, she ended up becoming his chief mechanic and she was damn good at it too. Whatever he broke, she fixed. The same went for every Avenger that called the tower home. There wasn't anything she couldn't fix or make. That she knew of yet anyway.

Picking up a hammer, she started to try and re-shape the distorted piece of metal on the work table in front of her. Because she worked such a physical and demanding job, she preferred comfort to functionality most of the time. Her favorite things to work in were a pair of Tony's stolen work overalls and an old ratty black tank top. The overalls were a little big so she had to adjust them all the time but she didn't care. To keep her long, dark, curly hair out of her face, she always wore some kind of different colored bandanna.

Realizing that she would need a little help to get the stubborn metal to do what she wanted, she grabbed her goggles from the shelf above her work bench, momentarily she looked fondly at the ratty black cat stuffed animal kept up there with her goggles and iPod. Grabbing her goggles, she put them on and readied her blowtorch. Carefully, she heated the metal evenly and began to re-shape it.

As she did this, her mind started to wonder. She thought about her powers and that how no matter what she tried, she still had about the same amount of control over them that she did when she was 10 years old. She was 22 for goodness sake. She should have better control by now but nothing she did worked. She did develop a theory about them though, that they weren't a mutation and they were something else.

One day, when she was being particularly naughty, she decided to eavesdrop on Tony and Pepper and she heard them talking about someone called 'Stephen Strange'. She being the person that she was, she decided do a little research via Tony's files to figure out who this mysterious 'Stephen Strange' was. It turned out that he was a Sorcerer, like really? A real actual Sorcerer, but at this point she was ready to try anything to stop blowing crap up in her sleep. She determined that he lived in the Sanctum Sanctorum. While she didn't exactly know where or what that was, she decided to go and find it.

It took her several nights to actually find it and when she did, she felt something weird emanating from it. Not bad just weird, weird enough that she couldn't summon enough bravery to actually knock on the door. Night after night, it went the same. She would find the place, but would find herself unable to summon the actual gonads needed to knock on the damn door.

She felt so stupid, like she was that 10 year old scared little girl all over again.

It pissed her off royally because she swore to herself she would never be like that again and here she was being a total coward instead.

Suddenly, she was ripped from her thoughts when she sensed Tony approaching outside of her door. She could also sense somebody else that she didn't know with him. She barely had time to turn the music down and the blowtorch off before F.R.I.D.A.Y overrode the locks on her door and it slide open. She hated when Tony did that. Just because she was his 'adopted daughter' didn't mean she didn't deserve some privacy! The least he could do is knock dammit!

She opened her mouth to tell Tony just how much she 'loved' his invasion of her privacy when she got a good look at who was with him she shut it really quickly. Doctor Stephen Strange 'Sorcerer Supreme' was standing in her door way with Tony looking at her with she could only describe as a look of amusement on his handsome features. For the first time in her life, she really and truly wished that the floor would open up and swallow her whole. She could only begin to imagine what she looked like right now.

The only coherent thought running through her brain at the moment was how in THE HELL did Tony manage to find out she had been trying to go and talk to him?