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Walking Toward the Future

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Danny walked into the room, smiling broadly as he picked up Dani. "Who's my favorite goddaughter?"

Luke and Jessica shared a wary look. Then Jessica reached up to rub her temples. "What did you do?"

"She's still not walking yet, right?" Danny asked, glancing at them.

Luke and Jessica shared another look. He raised an eyebrow. She nodded.

"Not yet," Jessica said slowly.

Luke crossed his arms. "Why?"

Danny smiled to himself. "Good, good. That's good."

"Danny," Luke said, raising his voice, "what did you do?"

Luke's tone finally sank in, and Danny's face fell a bit as he finally looked away from Dani and saw their faces. He coughed. "In my defense, I think it will be good for morale."

*

"A betting pool?" Carol repeated. She eyed Danny warily. "You're placing bets on when Dani will start walking?"

Danny nodded.

"Jessica and Luke agreed to this?" she asked.

"Yep," he said, grinning. "Twenty dollars a guess, and whoever gets the closest wins it all."

She raised an eyebrow. "Minus your cut, of course."

He frowned, a confused look appearing on his face. "Why would I need a cut?" he asked.

Carol stared at him for a moment before smiling and shaking her head. "Never mind," she said. "Put me down for today."

Danny blinked. "Today?" he repeated.

She just smiled innocently at him. "Today."

*

Logan rolled his eyes. "Who cares when the kid walks?"

*

"I think she's gonna fly before she walks," Peter said, nodding knowingly.

Everyone in the room turned to stare at him.

"What?" he asked defensively, throwing his arms up in the air. "Stranger things have happened! On a daily basis, for that matter." He paused and glanced in Bobbi's direction. "Is Clint still a dog, by the way? Or has that spell wore off already?"

Somewhere behind her, Clint barked.

Everyone looked back at Dani.

"Well," Danny said, frowning, "that's going to change the odds some."

*

Jessica Drew rolled her eyes, but there was a hint of smile tugging at the corners of her lips as she handed her money over to Danny. "Put me down for walking," she said. Then she pulled out another bill. "And flying."

Danny turned toward Logan. "What about you?"

Logan stared at him. Silently.

"Never mind."

*

"Put me down for next Wednesday."

Danny looked up from his notebook and raised an eyebrow. "You sound pretty certain. Know something I don't?"

Bucky shrugged. "I just like Wednesdays."

*

Logan handed Danny a $20 bill.

"What's this for?" Danny asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Betting pool." Logan glared at him. "Put me down for next Tuesday."

Danny opened his mouth and--

"Don't say a word."

Danny closed his mouth.

*

"Should we tell him?" Jessica asked, frowning as she watched Dani toddle away from her. "I mean, she's been walking for a couple of days now."

Luke held out his hands, smiling as Dani quickly walked straight into his arms. "Nah," he said, shaking his head. "Let him have his fun."

"I almost feel guilty," Jessica said, sighing. "I mean, we did tell him that she wasn't walking when he started the betting pool."

"Hey," Luke pointed out, "she technically didn't take her first steps until five minutes after he left. It's not our fault he rushed out before we could tell him that she'd been almost walking all day."

Jessica held out her arms as Dani pulled away from him and headed back in her direction. She blinked. For a moment, it had almost looked as if Dani was floating a half inch or so above the floor. It had to have been her imagination.

"Carol's still splitting her winnings with us, right?" Luke asked. Then he frowned, his gaze focused on Dani. "Wait, are her feet even touching the ground?"

The two of them shared a worried look.