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Choose Your Battles

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"Did they just-" Darcy started to ask, but stopped herself. Natasha was proud of her as that showed a great deal of restraint on the young woman's part. That pride only dimmed slightly when her voice lowered to just above a stage whisper to add, "Seriously, they can't be that stupid."

The world renowned astrophysicist who was currently her bestie stood behind her and snorted a laugh. Instead of poise, grace, or dipping deep into her vast intellect, she huffed a rather undignified, "Yeah, they really are that dumb."

Natasha, for her part, simply took stock of the situation. And grinned.

It had been a Girls' Night Out. Wanda and Helen had begged off, but Darcy, Jane, Pepper, and herself had made the most of Ladies Drink Free special at Augie's, enough so that it had been reworked to allow three free and the remainder half price and they had still put a dent in the poor place's budget. Darcy had her tolerance left over from her recent college stint, Jane put a surprising amount away for one so tiny, and Pepper drank the Big Boys under the table on a good day. Said table being that of the board room, of course.

Needless to say, they had a good time, right up until they didn't.

It probably would have been wise to call for a cab or a company car to pick them up. Jane had suggested fresh air to clear their heads, Pepper had agreed, and Darcy had pointed out that Jane wasn't actually that kind of doctor and asked why they were listening to her. Ten minutes later had them walking the short distance to the tower anyway, laughing and joking the entire time.

Fourteen minutes from the bar had them surrounded. Thugs, likely untethered to any major crime group based on their skills or lack thereof, and clearly in way over their heads. They took one look at Pepper's high-end clothing and made assumptions, accurate they may be, about the possible monetary value of such a person. Add in Darcy who actually knew how to stretch her newfound paycheck into looking like a million while costing a dozen, and Jane who had been forcibly dressed by her assistant into something stain-free, and they at least looked the part. The fact Natasha herself matched Pepper's tastes was probably not nearly as important as the fact they had openly mentioned returning to the tower, one of the prime pieces of real estate in Manhattan with the price tag to match.

Now there were a few details the thugs missed. One was Natasha's own physical form and stature and that she could have taken down all eight of them with barely breaking a sweat. Two was a certain intern's subtle reach into her pocket followed by the quiet beep and hum of a specially designed taser powering up - she would mention the sound issues to Tony in the morning. Three was that one of the most powerful CEOs in the world was beginning to glow a soft red beneath her designer suit. Four was, seriously, it was the tower that they had mentioned and who was stupid enough not to know who lived there?

One of the idiots had the audacity to demand everything they had. This did, technically, mean that he asked for it as he did not specify funds, jewelry, or resistance.

Pepper outright laughed at him and he was dumb enough to punch her in the face. She went down but even Natasha could see it was a ploy and she was busy reacting to a second imbecile that grabbed Darcy's throat and pushed her up against the wall. After that, she could very safely say that very little of what happened was her fault. Or any of theirs, really.

At least, that's what she planned to put in her report.

Because there would be a report, there simply was no way around it. The people involved, the attack itself, and the defenses used made certain of that.

The Extremis in Pepper was a living, brutal thing and she wielded it well. Blows glanced off of her while any she attempted melded and melted whatever she made contact with, be it metal or unfortunate flesh. Darcy, for her part, tased the guy dumb enough to lay hands on her and then bodily yanked Jane off of another man when she had gone to town with her fists and possibly teeth. She was quite the scrappy thing and possibly could make use of proper lessons had she the attention span and lack of distraction to attend them. Pepper soon moved on to another man who attempted to help the first, and that left Natasha with only four of over own to contend with.

All in all the "assault," such as it was, was over nearly before it began. Disappointingly so.

The sound of sirens echoed within seconds of the final body hitting the ground, and Natasha turned around to find Jane poking at her phone in apparent boredom with her hair in disarray but no obvious injuries or other damage to her person. "Not a single one of you hit your panic button. Not a one. I am sorely disappointed in you. Remedial training for you all. Or possibly another round, which ever you prefer," she rattled off absently. A peek showed she had moved on from calling the cavalry to catching Pokemon. Also, that Natasha now knew just who the fabled "ScienceGoddess1" was who continually ruled the nearby gyms.

Definitely a proper session was in order. If only to see the logistics and strategies she was capable of. She'd make bets with Barton and make a mint.

"Pepper started it!" Darcy declared. Her taser was safely away and she appeared to be catching a Meowth.

"Don't throw the nice lady that signs our paychecks under the bus," Jane chided without looking up from her phone.

"Fine," Darcy huffed. Her catch apparently allowed her to level up and she offered a fist that Natasha bumped without question. "The dumbasses started it and she took it to the next level."

"Someone had to," Pepper shrugged. She was back to her usual, glow-free status and had yet to even wobble on her Louboutins. She smoothed a nonexistent wrinkle out of her suit coat and walked up to meet the approaching security team.

Barton must have been at the tower when the call came in as he walked up with a team of his own. He took one look at the gathered women and their expressions of utter boredom and asked, "Can I assume everyone is okay?"

"Personally, I'm traumatized. Traumatized, I tell you," Darcy replied, focus still on her screen. At the answering snort that was not from a certain archer, she finally glanced up with a poor approximation of innocence. "I think I need shots to get over this trauma. Tequila. Only thing that will do."

"You tased a man in his balls," Jane said dryly. Battle finished and another gym claimed, she tucked her phone away and declared, "That means you definitely earned top shelf."

This time, it was the archer that snorted. He turned to Natasha and asked, "They had no idea what hit them, did they?"

She shrugged, a graceful roll of her shoulder that spoke volumes if her usual partner in crime was willing to listen. "They asked for it."

Clint tilted his head in acquiescence to the claim. "So," he said after a tiny bit too long of pause where he took in the singed and twitching bodies. "Do you ladies require an escort home, or should I just run ahead and get the glasses ready?"

"Walk with us and help us compose an ode to our epic battle?" Darcy suggested. It was probably for the best as they had now caught the attention of far more than the standard street thugs and Natasha actually liked the jacket she had chosen to wear. It hid her weapons well and looked fantastic with the boots she had chosen.

"Odes are not usually my thing," Clint admitted, though he held an arm out for her to hook her own through.

"We just need something to impress Thor more than our drinking abilities," Jane admitted with a grin.

"Though those too, are epic!" Darcy proudly declared. She tripped slightly, even with her hold on Clint, and Natasha put her at another three shots tops before she grabbed a bottle of Gatorade, a couple of Aleve, and crawled back to her rooms to pass out. Maybe four if there was pot roast left over from last night's dinner to absorb and fight the effects of the alcohol.

"Ever wonder what we did to deserve this?" Clint whispered to her as they began their short trek home.

Natasha waited for Pepper to rejoin them and congratulate Jane on her victory before she admitted, "Not really. Though could you imagine the fallout had Wanda been with us?"

Darcy nodded sagely. "So much destruction. She's been trying to catch a Meowth for a month."

Clint took a deep breath that did nothing to stop the shake of his shoulders, and kept on walking without a word. Natasha couldn't say that she blamed him. Some battles you just can't win.