It was late January when Agent Joan MacAuliffe first met her new partner, and by the time Valentine's Day rolled around, she knew just enough not to be too surprised by the small white box Agent Webster pushed into her hands.
"I thought- you know, it's a holiday, and you and I work together and all," the visibly pregnant desk jockey said, grinning nervously. Blinking, Jo peeked inside- three red velvet cupcakes were nestled together inside, the cream cheese frosting heavily dusted with pink sugar.
"Oh, wow. Thanks, Kip," Jo said sincerely, and smiled at the hugely pleased expression on the new agent's face.
~ ~ ~
It wasn't the first time Jo and Kip had flown overseas together, but it was the first time they were stranded overseas due to inclement weather. Still, Jo thought, carrying her small, still-warm bag of freshly-baked bread inside her coat, Oslo was a nice city, and one she might like to visit in the future, if they ever got a few days off. Kip could bring her little boy, and they could see the sights.
Stepping into the lobby of their hotel, Jo noticed the huge grin the receptionist flashed her way. After glancing around to make sure there was no one else he could be grinning at, she offered him a small smile, albeit a trifle uneasily.
"Your wife stepped out," he said in perfect, slightly accented English. "But she said to give you this," and he held up a red envelope. Jo sighed and took it, thanking him quietly. She felt a little annoyed, honestly- she'd gotten up pretty early to go and get Kip a nice breakfast.
Once she opened the door to their room, however, she took several steps back, slightly aghast. There were not one but two vases in the room that hadn't been there before, and they were both filled with huge, blood-red roses. Jo wordlessly stepped in, placing the bag on a chair as she fished out the card the receptionist had given her.
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY you are the best pilot and the best partner and a wonderful friend, don't ever change!!! Love, Kip
PS!!! Got a lead on a Tønsberg survivor- be back by lunch!!!!!!
There was a little doodle of a cupcake on the bottom of the card.
~ ~ ~
SHIELD had few policies regarding its agents dating or sleeping with one another- they basically boiled down to "just don't let it affect your work." Kip and Mikel worked in two different branches, and had been dating for almost two months. Jo thought it was kind of sweet, the way Kip threw all of her extra time into planning a unique and extravagant Valentine's Day surprise for him. Then again, it was also a little weird that Kip was wrangling SHIELD to foot the bill for it, considering Mikel's father happened to be one of their bosses.
It did explain the roses incident from last year, though. Jo was just glad Kip wasn't planning anything outrageous for her this time- she was officially babysitting Sammy during Kip's date, and he had already promised her a predominantly red finger-painting.
Jo was just heading to her locker to drop off one of her flight suits when she saw Kip and Mikel loitering nearby.
"Hey," Mikel said with a slight wave, one arm pulled companionably around Kip's waist. "Heading to your locker, huh?" Kip's face was frozen in the awful rictus of her poker-face, which instantly drew Jo's suspicions.
"Yeeaahh," she said, eyes narrowing. "Hey, so I'll see you tonight, right?"
"Yep," Kip wheezed, unable to meet Jo's gaze. "Yes. You will. And I will see you also. Sammy can't wait." Mikel poked her side and she turned bright red, squirming and pressing her face into his shoulder. Jo edged away from them, desperate to be looking elsewhere before things got any weirder.
Jo didn't notice the way they both followed her over to her locker until it opened and a huge wave of glitter cascaded out and onto the floor. Her legs and shoes were actually covered in it, and her belongings were nowhere to be found- instead, there was a small box, made of white cardboard, on the bottom of the locker. She could hear Kip squealing softly into her sleeve, so Jo sighed, reaching out and picking it up.
Inside were two tickets to a local production of Les Miserables for that weekend. Jo swallowed dryly and gave Kip a weak grin.
"This is... really sweet, Kip, thanks," she said faintly, before adding, "But, ah, where the hell is all my stuff?"
"I put it in my locker," Kip beamed, sharing an enthusiastic high five with Mikel before shuffling through two inches of sparkle to give Jo a hug. "You know the combo, right?"
"Yeah," Jo murmured, still a little shellshocked. Her brain put two and two together, and it suddenly made sense the way the hems of Coulson's trousers had sparkled in the light of the break room.
~ ~ ~
There were some major perks to being a cross between the Avengers' nanny and their chauffeur, and living with JARVIS was one of them.
"Jarvis, did Kip put anything in my room in the last week?" Jo asked, looking suspiciously around as she climbed out of bed.
"She returned your NASA pen, but otherwise, no," the smooth voice of the house AI replied. "Agent Webster hasn't been in your room since then."
Feeling relatively safe, Jo showered and got dressed for the day, heading down to the mansion's kitchen for some coffee. She heard voices and stopped short, clearing her throat a little.
"Jarvis, does anybody in the kitchen look like they're about to pounce me with... anything vaguely romantic?"
"No, Agent MacAuliffe. Agents Barton and Webster are making breakfast with Doctor Banner and young Sam," he added helpfully. "Would you like me to ask them if they're doing it romantically?"
"No, thanks," Jo sighed, stepping into the kitchen. The sight that greeted her was... actually kind of adorable. Bruce was at the stove with a skillet in one hand and a spatula in the other, while Kip mixed a large bowl of somewhat pinkish batter. Sammy was perched on Clint's shoulders, babbling something about monkeys and patting the archer's sandy hair with his chubby little hands.
"Tia Joey!" Sammy cheered suddenly, pestering Clint until he passed the toddler over to Jo. He wrapped his little arms around her neck, as Bruce smiled over at them and held out a plate covered in pancakes.
The pancakes were vividly pink (and suddenly the batter made a little more sense) and, surprisingly, heart-shaped. "There's butter on the table, and syrup and... whatever else Tony's got," he told her, gesturing with the spatula. Jo put Sammy in a chair next to a plate of what clearly used to be pink pancakes, sitting down nearby with her own breakfast.
"Pancakes look good, guys," she said, glancing around. "Where are Thor and Steve and Tasha?"
"They've all eaten already, it's just you and Tony who haven't yet," Kip said cheerfully. "There's bacon, if you don't mind it a little cold."
Jo didn't mind it at all, and once Bruce was done with the last batch she helped Clint bring the pancakes down to Tony's workshop, feeling strangely relieved that Kip, apparently, had tired of her (frankly bizarre) Valentine's Day surprises.
~ ~ ~
Of course, that night a pink and red robotic thing scurried under her bed, a recording of Kip's voice wishing her a wonderful Valentine's Day on repeat, and Jo promised herself to punch Tony in the face for helping Kip sustain this freakish holiday.