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Avengers in Babysitting

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“Something you want to tell us, Tony?” asked Pepper, arms folded, foot tapping.

In all fairness, Stark did look completely baffled by the turn of events.

“Why is this automatically all about me?” he checked, looking around the assembled group. “I mean, yeah, I know, most things usually are, but this?”

He shook his head in the negative even as most people continued to stare.

“Do not dare to look in my direction!” said Thor, when some gazes seemed to drift his way.

“Or mine,” confirmed Bruce, backing up a step out of anyone’s eyeline.

“No!” Steve Rogers shook his head violently when he seemed to be next to get the attention, and Clint was quick to give a similar response.

“Well, a baby didn’t make itself, boys,” said Natasha definitely, looking at each of them in turn.

In response, the kid in the centre of the conference table giggled and stuck out his tongue. He didn’t seem worried in the slightest that nobody would claim him. As little as he was, it was unlikely he had a clue what was truly going on right now. In that at least, he was not alone.

Thirty minutes earlier

Darcy Lewis didn’t mind the fetching and carrying of things. She had gotten used to it recently and quite honestly it was nice to spend her time on simple tasks while she had the chance. God-like aliens from other planets, giant robots, space invaders, all of these things were super cool in their own way, but it made a person appreciate the little things in life, the things that human beings could actually control, like collecting the mail and fetching coffees for heroes. Okay, so maybe that second one wasn’t exactly the norm, but Darcy knew as much as she would prefer her own life to be a little on the simpler side sometimes, it was kind of nice to be adventure adjacent too! It was why she had leapt at the chance to be an intern at Stark Industries for a while.

Jane was still holed up somewhere safe where S.H.I.E.L.D. could protect her, but Darcy was going stir crazy trapped there with her friend and colleague. When word came that the Battle of New York had changed the world, that there was now a team called The Avengers all living at Stark Tower for the foreseeable, Darcy had longed to come see what was going on. Her wish was granted thanks to Thor’s glowing recommedation, that and Tony Stark’s inability to resist another young woman to work closely with and tell his hero tales too.

So, here they were all living in the upper part of the tower - Tony of Iron Man fame and his girl Friday, Pepper Potts; Thor Odinson of Asgard; Steve Rogers alias Captain America; the elusive Dr Bruce Banner, rumoured to also be big, green, and Hulk when he got angry; plus a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents named Barton and Romanoff, handy with a bow and arrow, and fists and feet respectively. It was quite the set of people to come and join, and yes, Darcy Lewis did feel a little small stood next to them all, but what she didn’t have in height or in super-powers, Darcy made up for in personality, that was for sure, at least she always thought so.

“Seriously, guys?” she yelled as the main door swung closed in her face.

It wouldn’t usually be much of a problem, but when a persons hands were full with a serious amount of coffee and assorted pastries, it posed a bit of a problem.

“My apologies, Ms Lewis,” the doorman said quickly yanking open the door for her.

“Don’t sweat it, Jeeves,” she muttered as she came into the building as awkwardly as she had ever done anything. “It’s not like it matters if my nose gets flattened by glass, right?”

“Miss Lewis?” said another voice, one she knew well and smiled at the sound of. “A delivery has just been made for Mr Stark. He asked if you might bring it up with you?”

“Oh, right. Sure thing, J.A.R.V.I.S.,” she rolled her eyes. “Exactly where on my person would Tony like me to put his package, huh?”

That comment got a few choice looks and sniggers from the other people milling around the foyer. Darcy bit her lip.

“Yeah, don’t answer that.”

“As you wish, Miss Lewis. Might I suggest the use of a mail cart for all your items to be carried?” J.A.R.V.I.S. suggested. “There is one located in the south corridor outside of the storage room, and then you will be approximately four point five metres from the elevator.”

“Good to know you got my back, J.A.R.V.I.S. Thanks,” said Darcy as she followed his suggested route.

She put the coffee and snacks onto the cart and then ran back to Reception for the parcel that had apparently been dropped off for Tony. It was heavier than she expected but she managed to carry it without too much struggle. Carefully she placed it in the lower part of the cart and then got into the elevator.

She had ridden the first twenty floors before she heard the noise. It was a strange sound, like a scratching and a murmuring mixed together. Darcy frowned and turned a full circle in the small space. There was definitely nobody and nothing present here except her and the contents of the mail cart. Leaning down she put her ear to the package with Tony’s name on it.

“Oh, damn!” she cursed, willing the elevator to go faster - it didn’t.

At the height of her panic, Darcy was glad to see the doors were suddenly open and she quickly wheeled the cart out into the hallway. As fast as she dared to go, the intern rushed to the conference room and shoved her way inside.

All eyes were immediately on the intrusion, even though they must have known it could only be one person. The fact she was even on this floor proved it had to be Darcy, since everyone else was already present and accounted for.

“There’s something in the box!” she announced. “Something ticking or scratching. Basically, a bomb or a creature,” she explained quickly.

The group of superheroes and associates around the table all got up simultaneously, staring down at the bottom shelf of the mail cart Darcy had pushed away from herself. Her back was currently flat against the opposite wall with the muscle of Thor quite literally between her and any possible danger. It wasn’t that the other guys hadn’t earned her respect and all, but Thor was her buddy and akin to a god in his strength and invicibility. Whatever was in that box, she figured he could deal with it.

“Whatever danger we might face, is it not better to see it’s identity?” he questioned.

Steve held up a hand to encourage Thor to take a step back again.

“How do we know that when we open the box it won’t explode or worse?”

In any normal situation, somebody might have asked if there was anything worse than an explosion. All those assembled in this room knew much better, unfortunately.

“Whatever it is, I doubt it’s going to cause me any damage,” said Bruce, deciding to step up already.

He moved past Rogers and Romanoff, crouching down to the height of the mystery package. Lifting it up in his hands, he felt something shift and heard a sort of a whimpering sound. If he didn’t knew better, he’d think there was something alive in that box. He said as much as he placed it on the table and cautiously began to prise the flimsy packaging away. An audible gasp went around the room when they saw what, or rather who, was inside.

“Oh my God!” Pepper gasped, watching the small child wriggle and writhe. “Who would do this? Send a baby in the mail?” she asked in disgust.

“It used to be legal,” Steve said aloud, immediately wishing he hadn’t when everyone gave him a joint strange look. “I never did it, I just know it used to be legal,” he confirmed.

All attention soon went back to the baby as it whimpered some, apparently not very happy. It was unsurprising if it had been in the box for any length of time. Romanoff surmised that it wasn’t so very long when she reached in to grab a piece of folded paper from beside the child and found the ink smudged onto her fingers. This had been done quickly, last minute.

“Mr Stark,” she read aloud. “I need to know my son is safe, so I’m sending him to you, to the home of the heroes who saved New York. Please, save him too. None of this is his fault.”

“Something you want to tell us, Tony?” asked Pepper, arms folded, foot tapping.

In all fairness, Stark did look completely baffled by the turn of events.

“Why is this automatically all about me?” he checked, looking around the assembled group. “I mean, yeah, I know, most things usually are, but this?”

He shook his head in the negative even as most people continued to stare.

“Do not dare to look in my direction,” said Thor, when some gazes seemed to drift his way.

“Or mine,” confirmed Bruce, backing up a step out of anyone’s eyeline.

“No!” Steve Rogers shook his head violently when he seemed to be next to get the attention, and Clint was quick to give a similar response.

“Well, a baby didn’t make itself, boys,” said Natasha definitely, looking at each of them in turn.

In response the kid in the centre of the conference table giggled and stuck out his tongue. He didn’t seem worried in the slightest that nobody would claim him. As little as he was, it was unlikely he had a clue what was truly going on right now. In that at least, he was not alone.

“Regardless of who fathered the child, he needs taking care of,” said Steve sensibly, peering cautiously at the baby. “Surely we need to call the authorities.”

“I would usually agree,” considered Pepper. “But honestly, if he’s been sent here in these extreme circumstances... How do we know there isn’t a legimiate reason why the mother couldn’t go through the usual channels?”

It gave them all something to think about. There were certainly a great number of circumstances under which a parent would not want their child put into the system. Maybe just because they had experience of that way of life and didn’t want it for their baby. The Avengers seemed like a better option somehow, and yet each and every person stood in this room wondered at it. Not one amongst them had any real experience of raising a baby and were not entirely the type of people you would think of for babysitting duties. They had everyone here from a big green monster to an alien to secret agents known more for inflicting pain than being loving and nurturing. Still, if the child really did need protection in some way, it was probably their responsibility to give it.

“If the child has been entrusted to our care then we must vow to protect him.”

Thor voiced an opinion they were all sharing it seemed. Natasha looked to Clint but didn’t let a hint of emotion show. She knew what this was doing to him, but she wouldn’t say a word in front of the others.

“Until we know exactly where he came from, I doubt it’s a smart move to just hand him over to child services. Who knows who or what he could be?”

“She has a point,” Tony considered, as the baby wriggled on the table top and then suddenly went for a roll.

More than one pair of hands instinctively reached out to catch him, but there was no need. The child landed on his stomach, looked momentarily shocked by his own achievement, and then burst into fits of happy giggles. Even this group of world-weary hardened heroes couldn’t help but laugh too.