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the kitchen is our common ground

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Ava stares up at Stark Tower. She had made it but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be here. The weather matched her mood, the sky dark and foreboding, soaking her through almost instantly. So much for good impressions with her father, Tony Stark. Upon stepping into the lobby the receptionist asked her politely yet with an upturned nose whether she had business with anyone that worked there.

“Yes, I do. Could you tell Tony Stark that Ava is here to see him?”

The receptionist gave her another once over before tapping her earpiece and delivering the message. Apparently the response was immediate because her eyes widened and she stood up at once, leading Ava to the nearest elevator and pressing the button.

“My apologies, Jarvis will lead you up to Mr. Stark’s floor. Welcome to Stark Tower Ms. Ava.”

Ava stepped in hesitantly and the doors shut immediately behind her. What she assumed to be Jarvis spoke up immediately, “Hello Ava!” The A.I. sounded suspiciously jovial but Ava decided not to question it. The elevator was efficient and she barely felt the speed at which the elevator was traveling. All too soon the ‘ding’ indicated the doors were about to open and Ava took a deep breath, readying herself for the eventual slew of questions. She was not disappointed. It was her first time in the tower but it was everything she expected from Tony: sleek and modern. What she didn’t expect was the entire avengers team plus a few others to be assembled there. A brief moment of silence occurred as Ava stood silently dripping on the polished floor of the elevator. Then Stark brushed by Captain America and strolled up to her, pulling her into a brief and awkward hug.

“Did Jarvis announce my presence to the entire tower?” Ava asked, bewildered by the group of super heroes still standing there. Steve and Sam were in front, looking intimidating with their crossed arms while Natasha and Clint whispered, peering around a wall to get a better look at her, and much farther back in the room she glimpsed Bucky, the winter soldier.

Tony rubbed the back of his neck, “I think he’s excited because you’ve never been in the tower before and he’s always wanted to see you in person.”

Their conversation seemed to unfreeze everyone in the room and they were almost on the point of converging upon Ava when she shook her head and jabbed at the lobby button in the elevator, “This was a bad idea, never mind,” she muttered.

“Hey, hey, hey what’s going on? You obviously came here because you need something,” Tony jumped forward but Steve was quicker and his hand came down on the door, stopping it from closing.

Ava twitched, flinching back from him and his sudden proximity to her. “No…no I need to go. This was definitely a mistake.” She backed into the corner and burrowed deeper into her oversized hoodie.

“Hey, its okay, we’re not going to hurt you, we just need to talk to you,” Steve said consoling, opening his arms as a gesture of peace but Ava knew it was really just to prevent her slipping past him.

“That’s exactly what they said to me,” Ava whispered back. She could sense Steve was about to act so she caught him by surprise, moving quicker than he expected and ducking passed him. She knew she wouldn’t get far and so wasn’t caught off guard when a strong hand grabbed the back of her hoodie and pulled hard. She was yanked off her feet and fell to the ground hard, her already throbbing ribs searing in her chest.

The winter soldier was above her, his metal arm flexing slightly, “Sorry,” he muttered, “My arm calibration is a little off…didn’t mean to throw you.”

Ava gave a tiny nod, breathing in sharp little gasps to alleviate the pain in her chest.

“Ava, what the hell is going on here!” Tony looked a little frightened by her behavior and crouched down next to her. He reached out and gently cupped her cheek. “You said you didn’t want to have a relationship with me, that you didn’t want to be connected with my name, so I backed off,” he whispered, even though the room was silent enough for everyone to hear.

Ava grimaced and tried to laugh even though it came out strangled. “Oh please, I was a teenager going through a rebellious faze, of course I said that.”

Tony smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes. He was sad, and she could feel it. “If my math is correct, and its me so of course it is, you are still a teenager. That angst shouldn’t really leave until early twenties if my youth was anything to judge by.”

Ava’s shoulders slumped. She knew the consequences of coming here and she had come anyway, now it was time to face the music. Sighing, she laid down, since it was more comfortable on the floor anyway and helped the discomfort of her ribs. “I’m in deep shit dad,” she said softly, addressing the ceiling. She could hear the avengers coming closer now that she wasn’t actively trying to run away. She felt numb, their emotions passing through her without her caring what they meant.

“What kind of shit.” Tony’s voice was serious.

Her eyes glazed over slightly but she didn’t cry. “Mom went completely crazy and—”

“Stark,” Bucky’s soft voice interrupted her. “She doesn’t look so good. Maybe she should be checked out by Banner before we learn what’s been goin on.”

Ava stared accusingly at Bucky. “Excuse me, I look completely fine and—” She was cut short again when Bucky gently nudged at her ribs with his boot. Fire burned its way up her rib cage and she sucked in a breath.

“See.” Bucky deadpanned.



“Well, she definitely has your self preservation skills Tony,” Banner remarked as he gently bound Ava’s ribs. “I would give you a lecture about how to care for your two broken and four bruised ribs but I think I will find that you will listen just about as well as Tony.”

Tony shrugged, “I guess it runs in the family.”

Ava looked over at Steve who was hovering by Tony’s elbow. She could sense an overwhelming amount of love and protectiveness coming from him and she was sure it wasn’t for her or Banner.

“So, Ava, will you please tell me what is going on. Seriously.” Tony had turned serious again, his hand on the blanket covering her legs.

Ava took a deep breath. “Uh…how do I start…” she addressed the ceiling because it was easier to explain how she came to be in this state while not talking to anyone directly. “I’m at MIT getting my masters in engineering and coding right now.”

“Wait, you’re at MIT, isn’t that where you went Tony?” Steve asked.

Tony smiled proudly, “Like I said, it runs in the family.”

“But you look pretty young to be getting two masters right now…how old are you?”

Ava rolled her eyes, used to this line of questioning. “I’m nineteen.”

Steve’s eyebrows shot up but Tony shot him a glance. “Well what did you expect from my daughter? Now shut the fuck up I’m listening.”

Ava half snorted, “Alright…well I hadn’t seen mom in a while. We didn’t really part very well when I first got accepted to college. I swear I had only seen her a couple times in over six years. But the last time I saw her I felt…that something was different. She was secretive and angry and lying to me about seemingly inconsequential things. I left shortly after that and six months later she calls me out of the blue and apologizes about how she acted and begged me to come over for spring break.” Ava paused for a moment and clicked her tongue nervously. Tony put a comforting hand over hers but she pulled it away a moment later and clenched it in her lap. “I went back over spring break like she asked, “she continued, her voice notably subdued. “The first day was fine, she wanted to go shopping and grab dinner. But the whole time it seemed like she was keeping herself in check. That night I-I was getting ready to go to bed when I sensed-heard something that didn’t sound like mom. I snuck up to the door to hear what was going on when it burst open and these fucking people dressed in black like fucking ninjas came in and tried to shoot me with a tranquilizer. I was able to evade them for a moment, enough to get out of the bedroom, and I almost made it to the door when…mom came flying out of no where looking completely batshit crazy and grabbed my hair and threw me into the door and kept me still enough for them to pump me full of tranqs.”

Ava glanced up and Tony’s mouth was slightly agape. Whatever trouble he had expected her to be in, this definitely hadn’t occurred to him.

“So anyway, I woke up disoriented, confused, you know the drill. And I know you really don’t want to know this but…it was HYDRA. They did their little experiments on me, they really just wanted me to program some hellish weapon but I didn’t.”

“Wait they experimented on you? How did you get away? Are you hurt more than just your ribs? Brucey-bear check her out, I can’t believe this, we need to get Bucky in here and—“

Steve placed his arm around Tony’s waist and squeezed it slightly. “Tony she’s here, she’s safe, she’s alive. Bruce can check her out, but it will be alright. We’ll deal with this the same way we’ve dealt with everything else.”

This seemed to calm Tony down enough for him to nod to Banner and say, “We’ll be outside so you can…” he gestured to Ava, giving her a swift one-armed hug before leaving the room with Steve.

Chapter Text

Ava shifted nervously on the white bed as Banner considered her thoughtfully. “I don’t want you to be uncomfortable and think I’m reading into things but I did notice that you said you sensed things from people like emotions. That you were almost able to tell what they were about to do before they actually did it.”

Taken by surprise, Ava could only stare wide-eyed at Banner. “Now if this is true,” he continued as if he was discussing something as casual as the weather, “You can absolutely tell that I mean you no harm. I only want to help you. I am great friends with your father and I’m truly honored to meet his daughter. Now. Can you tell me a little more about what HYDRA subjected you too so I can help you?”

Ava ducked her head and gripped the bedsheet in one hand, her tongue clicking against the roof of her mouth. “It doesn’t really work like that,” she murmured to the bed.

Banner leaned forward on his elbows, “Are you talking about your abilities?”


“Maybe you’d like to expound upon your…talents, if you feel safe talking about it.”

“Are you going to tell anyone?”

“Not if you don’t want me too.”

“I’d rather not having everyone know.”

Banner sighed and crossed his legs, “if you insist, but this is one of the best environments to say you do have some sort of ability because everyone who lives here is special in some way.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Of course, in your own time. But, were you going to explain it to me?”

“I guess, as long as you’re not telling anyone. It’s not like this super great ability, and it's not certain either. I can tell that you’re open and curious right now and that you haven’t been lying while you’ve been talking to me. The other part…the whole seeing what people are going to do before they do them…” Ava sighed thoughtfully, trying to talk about something she had never mentioned to anyone before. “It’s like this feeling I get sometimes, usually in high stress situations. I’ve been reading emotions for as long as I can remember and sometimes I can tell when someone is planning on doing something right before they do it. I can’t see the future really…its really hard to explain.”

“No, no, I definitely understand. It seems like maybe you have a little in common with a certain spiderman, not sure if you’ve heard of him?”

“Aw man,” a small smile broke through her furrowed brow, “I love that kid.”

Bruce was surprised, “you’ve met him?”

Ava was quick to assume her facade of indifference, “I haven’t really, I just keep up to date on his social media.”

Well-used to Tony’s superior lying faces, Banner wasn’t convinced in the slightest but decided to drop the topic. “Okay so you can sense emotions. Did HYDRA know about this?”

“No, I suspect they would have treated me much differently if they had known.”

“Well that actually brings me to my next question because I want to make sure you are okay. Do you want to tell me what HYDRA did to you?”

The silence was nearly deafening. Ava’s face had gone blank, her eyes had a faraway look in them, and she bit her lip so hard that blood trickled down her chin. A second later she wiped it away. “No, I don’t.”

“But it could really help—,” Banner tried.

“I really, really don’t.”

Her words stopped him from pleading further. “How long did they have you?”

“Long enough.”

She had closed up completely now, limiting all her answers and Banner supposed his line of questioning was at an end.

“Okay, well I’m just going to scan you and make sure you’re alright and then you’re good to go.” Banner gently laid Ava back and then commenced the scan. It barely made a sound but Ava immediately remembered a clinical white room and so many tests. And scans. And blood. And someone else that was talking to her, threatening her, and someone else screaming and she couldn’t leave, she couldn’t get away because she was locked in and all of a sudden she was in water and it was hot, boiling, then icy cold and she couldn’t breathe and her brain was going to explode—a cold hand gently landed on her arm. Ava couldn’t breathe, she was still being held underwater, but the hand was gentle, tender, but also hard, like it was made out of metal. The fingers stroked the crook of her elbow and then tightened slightly. She heard someone murmuring in a deep rumbling voice but she couldn’t tell who it was.

All of a sudden Ava was back in Banner’s lab, but the bed she had been on was nowhere in sight, and she became aware of hard tiled ground under her and she still couldn’t breathe, her chest was tight and her throat constricting and all that was holding her to reality was an actual metal arm attached to a winter soldier with hulking shoulders and sad grey eyes that were almost obscured by long brown hair.

“Breathe любить,” he said, taking one of her hands that was clenched into a fist and bringing it to his own chest. “Breathe.” He took a deep breath, his fingers prying her own apart so that her hand lay flat against his sternum. She mimicked him and trembled when air rushed into her lungs. “хорошо, Ava, хорошо.” She took another breath and it felt just as good as the first. They continued to breathe opposite one another until Ava realized she was practically sitting in his lap and she moved to jump up but Bucky’s metal arm held her right where she was. “It’s okay. Расслабиться.”

“I-I can’t…I—” she was still trying to flee the scene, trying to understand what was happening.

The winter soldier glowered at her, “Did you not understand what I just said?”

Ava slumped back down in his grasp, letting him hold her. “You said to relax but it's a little fucking hard to do when I freaking the fuck out for no goddamn reason.” Her explanation ended harsher than she intended but he didn’t seem to be offended, just slightly surprised.

“You know Russian?”

“Enough.” She shifted slightly, her head now resting against his broad chest. “Can I move yet?” She complained, just for something to do, because he was actually surprisingly comfortable and it seemed he was built just like Steve Rodgers, or maybe even better. Not that she cared.

“You just did дурак.”

She pulled away forcefully, tilting her head back to glare at him, “Was that necessary? You were being all sweet in Russian when you didn’t know I spoke it.”

His deadpan expression was all she received as an answer but his hold on her relaxed and he stood swiftly, helping her to her feet. He watched her carefully as Ava swayed for a moment, trying to get her equilibrium back. She was steady a moment later and he dropped his hands against his sides.

“Well…thanks Bucky…uh…Winter Soldier…person.”

The slightest hint of a smile tilted his lips up, “You can call me James.”

“Well, you can call me Ava.”

“I already did.”

Ava stared at him for a second before rolling her eyes, a slightly awkward silence following before she decided to leave. James caught her arm and his light grey eyes bore into hers. “You should eat something. I could feel every notch in your spine.”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “Okay creepy, I just got out of captivity, I’m sure there will be opportunities for me to eat more.”

“Be sure that you do.”

James was about to leave when Banner ran into the room followed closely by Tony and Steve. “She was right there…oh…I guess Barnes helped her.” Banner’s wildly waving arms fell to his sides as he realized Ava was no longer in the midst of a panic attack.

“Are you okay?” Tony asked her, worry still present in his eyes. Ava felt guilty she had brought all this stress to his home and his clearly happy life.

“Yah, of course I am,” she brushed off his concern easily. Next to her, James stiffened and she glared furiously at him, trying to tell him to let it go without actually opening her mouth.

“Actually Stark she’s—“ he expertly avoided her well-placed foot stomp and elbow jab, “in real need of a therapist and maybe some of the other stuff you did for me to sort of get my head on straight. Being captured by HYDRA is no small issue.”

“You motherfucker…” Ava muttered at him, annoyed he couldn’t just keep his mouth shut.

Banner raised his eyebrows. “See? No self-preservation at all. Definitely Tony’s daughter.”

Steve came up behind Tony and wrapped his arms around him. “We’re working on that, aren’t we Tony?”

Tony rolled his eyes but said consolingly, “Of course we are…”

Ava interjected before Tony and Steve could progress much further. She knew she definitely didn’t like Steve after he had left her father for dead in a hidden HYDRA base in Siberia. She also had no idea why her father had forgiven Steve and now was apparently dating him as well. “So I guess I really just need a place to stay low for a little bit until HYDRA stops looking for me and then I can go on way.”

“Excuse me young lady you will do no such thing.” Tony shrugged out of Steve’s grasp and confronted Ava.

She crossed her arms, “I didn’t come here to become your official daughter and play nice with the avengers. I came here because I unfortunately didn’t have anywhere else to go and that doesn’t give you an excuse to try to run my life!”

“That enough teenage angst for you Tones?” Steve asked, trying to keep the atmosphere light. His expression melted away when Ava narrowed her eyes at him, her frustration and trauma and stress starting to overwhelm her.

“Oh hell no, don’t let me get started with you Captain fucking America. Who the fuck do you think you are after leaving my dad to DIE in Siberia? What gives you the right to come back here, to try to pursue a relationship with him after that? What the fuck?” She punctuated each curse with another threatening step forward, and even though Steve towered over her, he still took a tentative step back.

“Hey now doll, let’s just talk about this.” Ava struggled against the metal hand that landed on her shoulder.

“Get off me Barnes,” she hissed, shrugging him off. He tried to apprehend her again but she focused on him and could sense where he intended to move and did the opposite, easily evading him.

Again, there was an uneasy silence. “Honey, I will really try to respect your boundaries and your independence but I need to keep you safe. And we can explain this whole,” Tony gestured between himself and Steve, “thing…but also good lord Barnes, is the Winter Soldier losing his touch or is my daughter just freaky fast, I can’t tell.”

James was looking at Ava with an expression she really didn’t like, as if he was trying to figure out what HYDRA had really done to her. He looked as if he had a few guesses and all of them were too close to the truth. She glanced hurriedly away, breaking his stare and looked over at Tony, all the fight drained from her. She was just tired.

Ava shrugged, “Fine.”

Tony clapped his hands together resoundingly. “About as good as I thought we would get. You look like you could sleep for a week so how about I lead you to a bed. I guarantee you’ll feel better in the morning.” He turned and headed towards the elevator, Steve following him closely, head bowed. Banner was also giving her a contemplative look before he handed her a small vial.

“This is for a deep sleep. No one sleeps well after captivity.”

Ava took it silently, following the others to elevator, swaying slightly as her exhaustion truly took over her. She felt a whisper of concern accompanied by the slightest graze of a hand on her waist. “Leave me alone Barnes,’’ she didn’t turn to look at him but knew he had fallen behind her only a couple paces.

Maybe Tony was right and she would feel better in the morning, but she doubted it. There was no way HYDRA’s infiltration in her life would be cleaned up this easily.

Chapter Text

Ava was going to talk to Banner in the morning, because this special sleep elixir wasn’t strong enough for her apparently. She was wandering around at three in the morning, exploring her surroundings sounding better than staring at the dark ceiling of her bedroom. It seemed that each floor had a couple of bedrooms, small living rooms and kitchens, but then there was a level that was entirely devoted to living space and the largest kitchen she had ever seen in her life. She guessed this was where the avengers hung out the most because there were strange notes on the appliances explaining how to use them. There were dents in the walls as if a body had been thrown hard into them, but she supposed rough-housing with superhuman and aliens usually got rough quickly.

The second she stepped into the open, spacious kitchen, her eyes immediately sought out the coffee maker. It looked expensive and complicated, but she was an expert and soon the gentle sounds of percolating coffee filled the silence. A pink note on the toaster caught her attention and she bent closer to it to read it: ‘Thor do not throw me!’ She snorted, wondering how many toasters Thor had thrown before he needed to be reminded not to do so. Once her coffee was done she thought about exploring the tower more but decided against it, preferring to start working on her thesis so she could graduate from MIT and not be stuck there another year for no good reason. Hurriedly procuring her laptop from her ratty backpack in her room, she sat crosslegged at the island in the kitchen and started coding her project. She was so engrossed in her work she failed to sense another presence intensely staring at her before leaving as silently as he had arrived.

Ava only woke up because she was so uncomfortable. Her legs were sleeping, her neck and back were on fire, and her ribs obviously didn’t appreciate her hunched over position because they were steadily burning with every breath she took. On top of everything else, she heard whispers to her left, the smell of coffee, and gentle popping sounds of something cooking. Slowly straightening from her ridiculous position, Ava realized she had fallen asleep while coding in the kitchen, the kitchen where it was now morning and Steve and Sam were tiptoeing around cooking up a breakfast feast. Her spine popped at least ten times and she scrubbed her hands over face, trying to wipe away her exhaustion.

“Wow that sounded both great and like you don’t have a spine anymore.”

Ava flinched back and looked around, seeing Clint sitting right next to her. “Uh…yah,” she mumbled, eyelids feeling like they were weighing her face down.

“Not a morning person. I respect that. Tash isn’t either. Which is why you don’t have to speak, just drink up.” He slid a mug in her direction, steaming coffee slopping over the rim and landing on the counter. Ava shot him a grateful glance before cupping the mug tightly in both hands and huddling over it taking big sips.

“Oh great, we have another addict over here,” Sam called out.

“Why is Sam shouting again?” A quiet voice asked.

“Hey Bucky, did you sleep alright?” Steve asked, sounding concerned.

“Yah, sure. Is there something in particular he’s shouting about or is he just doing it because he’s an asshole?”

“Hey language.”

“Yah language, cap said it you got it, I just called out Ava here because of her clear and present caffeine addiction,” Sam said smugly.

James walked over to the coffee machine and poured a cup for himself, staring at Sam the entire time, then raised the mug to his lips, slurping the hot liquid loudly. “Whatever kinda addiction she has it can’t be worse than Tony’s.” He silently slid into the open seat on the other side of Ava and looked at her notes strewn around her computer.

Ava felt slightly uncomfortable around such a close-nit team but James knocked his knee against hers and Steve placed three golden brown pancakes in front of her, butter and syrup melting into a steaming puddle on the plate. Clint looked like a five year old as Steve heaped a significantly larger portion on his plate.

“Did you sleep at all?” James murmured to her over the sounds of breakfast.

Ava rubbed her eyes tiredly, “I guess I was out for a couple hours but once I woke up, I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep.”

James’s clear grey eyes met hers and she sensed a strong wave of concern from him. “If it helps…I’ve been through a lot with HYDRA so if you need someone to talk to…” he trailed off as she shifted uneasily.

“I’m good, don’t worry about it.”

James arched an eyebrow at her. “Sure you are.”

Ava thought because of her cold dismissal he would in the very least move away from her but he stayed next to her, arm brushing hers occasionally when he sipped his coffee. Ava gradually relaxed bit by bit, her shoulders dropping slightly and her hands relaxing around her mug. She missed the look shared between Steve and Sam and the thumbs up that Clint threw James. James rolled his eyes at them and ducked his head down to finish his pancakes. Tony wandered into the kitchen wrapped in a blanket, his hair sticking out all directions. Sam, Clint, and James all conversed with each other, letting Steve and Tony have their moment on the other side of the kitchen. Ava glanced from them to the three men gathered around her. Sam caught her questioning look.

“When Steve and Tony became a thing they were disgusting for each other so now we just give them a little space in the morning and we don’t have to deal with as much sappiness.”

Ava wanted to say a lot, she wanted to know when exactly this relationship had started, how soon after the so-called civil war. But she held her tongue. She didn’t want to destroy the calm atmosphere, even if her own peace had been ruined. If the ex-assassin, spy, or veteran noticed anything they didn’t mention it.

“Well,” Ava stood up and stretched, wincing slightly when her ribs twinged, “I’m going to get some work done so…” she gathered up her dishes and threw them in the dishwasher, turning around only to be met with Steve’s broad chest. Instantly on the alert, Ava took a swift step back, squaring up her shoulders, searching his emotions for his intentions.

“I was just wondering if maybe you’d like to come to the gym with us? We normally go work out after breakfast.” He spoke like he was talking to a small frightened animal.

Glancing over she asked, “Are you all going too?”

They nodded quickly and Ava glanced at Steve. “Sure.”

Tony capped his hands together, “Great! Bonding sweaty times, and not in a sexual way. I love it. Ava I need to talk to you for a little bit and then by all means please go work out with these lovely supersoldiers.” He slapped Steve’s bicep as he said this, smiling cheekily up at him.

“Do you need to talk to me about my situation? Because you can do it with everyone around, I’m sure they’ll find out one way or another.”

There was a brief uncomfortable silence proving her right before Tony shrugged, “That’s fine, as long as you’re comfortable.”

Ava hopped onto the counter and leaned over to grab her mug of coffee. “Alright, let's hear it.”

“Well, let me start by saying you literally did the smartest thing by coming here after you escaped HYDRA. They are a very…efficient group so if you had gone anywhere else they would have found you easily.”

“Do they know I’m here now?” Ava interrupted.

“I’ve been in contact with SHIELD and they haven’t seen any activity focused towards us but I think its safe to assume they know where you are, “Clint said, hands in his pockets.

“But they have also known where I have been for the past year and they haven’t tried to get me back, not that they could,” James included, face hard.

“HYDRA knows how foolish and dangerous it would be for them to try to come in here and capture you. And we don’t even know if they want to, but that’s not the point of this conversation.” Tony lowered his voice slightly. “I went to see your mom, Christy.”

Ava’s stomach dropped. Her knuckles turned white around her mug. Her last memory of her mother was too fresh in her mind. “What-what did she say?”

“Well, that’s the thing, she is not…alive anymore.” A ringing was building in Ava’s ears and it was really hard to concentrate on what Tony was saying. He had laid his hand on her knee, in what she surmised to be a parental gesture. “I went to her place and there was a coroner there and a clean up crew…they said it was a suicide but when HYDRA is involved we have to assume it was murder.”

Ava tried to swallow but her throat was too dry and her tongue stuck to the top of her mouth. She didn’t know what to say. Of course she hadn’t loved her mother, she had barely seen her for years, and they had never been close. But Ava had never wished her mother to die. “So what,” she cleared her throat, her voice sounding gravelly, “what do I do about that? Do I have to do anything?”

Tony squeezed her knee, “I’m funding a funeral, nothing big and flashy, just small, friends and family. If you want to go you can, if not then just stay safe here.”

Ava swallowed hard but nodded. “Yeah, I’ll go, just tell me when.”

“That’s great.” Tony came up and kissed the top of her head. “I’m really sorry,” he whispered. Ava just nodded her head again, not really trusting herself to speak. After a big sigh Tony took a step back. “So I am thinking the safest way to avoid HYDRA capturing you again is for you to stay here, we have agents working on this, hell we’ve been trying to eliminate HYDRA for a long while now.”

“So you want me to just stay here and hide while I’m trying to finish my masters? I’m not going to put my life on hold just because some fucking dumbass organization wants to experiment on me.”

To her left Steve murmured something that sounded a lot like ‘language.’

“Um, my dear that’s exactly why you should be putting your life on hold, maybe even the very definition.”

“No! I literally…” Ava jumped down from the counter, suddenly wishing that she had accepted Tony’s offer for privacy and they were alone. “Tony,” she whispered, “I have just escaped HYDRA. I don’t know how to fucking deal with all of this but working helps, doing what I know, finishing my projects so I can graduate. I need to do what I know…” she looked at him pleadingly, knowing that everyone could still hear her despite her lowered tone.

Tony looked at her, his eyes far away, his mouth pulled down into a grimace as if he was remembering something very unpleasant. “I do understand,” he whispered back, his voice almost choked. “Let me think about it Ava. You know I just want you to be safe, you’re my only daughter.”

Ava pulled him into a hug, resting her chin on his shoulder. “I know.”