Star Spangled ManDisclaimer:
Joss owns Buffy, Captain America, the Avengers, & the X-Men are owned by Marvel. I write for fun, not for profit.Summary:
They'd grown up hearing the (heavily edited) stories. Never did they think they'd ever get to actually meet the man. CompleteWarning:
SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS! Timelines still wonky. Acknowledgments:
Thanks to Misty, AllenPitt, eriktheviking, Duchess, kiwi, BarbarossaRotbart, morgyair, Calex, Eureka, Methos, DarthPayne, ConstanceTruggle, Methos, Angelskuuipo, LMiC, Letomo, Mordare, moonstarsfu, tchizek, alynambered, bradsan, Arkaedia, grundy, RevDorothyL, HarmMarie, Harry, JediKnight, Christy, VillageOrchid, Jewel, SaiyaSith, Morgomir, BaronScrewtape, & espied for the reviews!A/N 1:
I apologize for the wait. My ulnar tunnel (just like carpal tunnel but with a different nerve) flared up really bad and I was pretty much forbidden from intensive typing until we could get a new keyboard. Technically, I'm kinda defying doctors orders (I don't have the new keyboard yet but the pain has receded). You guys have waited long enough for the finale and I've been getting antsy with all the things in my head so here you go!
Also yes, very crossover cliché in here but I need it for the sequel. So yay cliché! :p**SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS!**
Fanart by Methos
The party ended up being one of the weirdest Buffy had ever attended. For one, no one ended up dead, fighting, or otherwise supernaturally attacked. For another, none of the groups stayed seperated for very long. A conversation between Willow and Bruce about meditation led, somehow, to Xander, Willow, Jane, and Bruce in the kitchen experimenting with tea mixtures. Which then led to Tony insisting on showing Willow his labs, which led to Xander somehow gaining the attention of Tony's honest to god robot he called Dummy.
And Dummy attempting to run away from home with Xander.
Yeah, there was a lot of snickering from the three women and Giles over that one.
Buffy, when she wasn't making certain everyone wasn't getting in trouble—when had that become her life, seriously?—spent a good chunk of her evening either talking with Steve about Grandma, talking with Thor about gods, or sparring with Natasha in the gym as Clint gave Dawn and Darcy archery lessons.
Again, weirdest. Party. Ever. ~~*~~
Buffy, Giles, Willow, and Xander left Dawn with Darcy the next morning as they went back to SHIELD HQ for one last meeting with Fury. Buffy was hoping to get together with Thor too but apparently he'd left earlier to speak with his father about something. She really hoped it wasn't about the Key but considering she had no way of getting to Asgard, she could only pray Thor didn't do something to jeopardize her sister.
Of course, he'd apparently vowed to protect Dawn no matter what but Buffy had a feeling she and the God of Thunder had very different ideas of what “protecting” entailed. She decided that since she couldn't do anything about it, she wouldn't worry...yet. Besides, she had much more on her mind today.
Walking into the conference room, smiling at Xander and Willow as they tried to take in everything and failed, Buffy almost didn't notice the group of people already inside the room until she was sitting down.
“Wha...hello,” she said warily, stopping and looking at the five. The oldest and obvious leader was in a wheelchair, head bald, as he looked calmly back at her. Next to him was a beautiful dark skinned woman with white hair. In between a shorter man with a rough and tumble look was the youngest member of the group, a young girl covered almost entirely in clothe, with a shock of white hair lining her face. It was the fourth man that really caught her eye, however, as she recognized him
“Scotty?” she squeaked out, stunned. Not as shocked as him, however, if his expression behind his glasses was any indication. “I thought...Dad said you...oh I'mma kill him!”
Then she jumped on the man, who's arms came around her almost on instinct in a hug. “Buffy?” he asked, choking it out as she tried not to squeeze him to death. “Buffy what...?”
“I thought you were dead,” she replied, loud enough for everyone to hear. “Dad told me, mom, and Dawnie that you, Alex, Uncle Chris, and Aunt Kathy died in a plane crash!”
“Mom, Dad, and Alex did,”* he choked out, burying his face in her neck. “I survived.”
“I'm going to—why would he do that?!” she demanded, crying as she pulled away to look up at her cousin. “I mean, my dad's a complete and utter jackass who didn't even come to his ex-wife's funeral but...”
“Aunt Joyce died?” Scott asked, startled, and Buffy nodded slowly. “I'm so sorry Buffy...”
Buffy hugged him again. “It's not your fault, Scotty,” she said. “It was...aneurism. She had a brain aneurism.”
“Buffy?” Willow asked timidly as Xander muttered something about her family being better than cable. “Do you want me to call Dawn and have Darcy bring her here?”
“Dawn's in New York?” Scott asked, pulling back again. Buffy nodded, wiping at her eyes as she stepped back a few spaces. “I'd...I'd like to see her but...”
“But what?” she demanded. This was her cousin, damnit, the one she'd thought had died in a fiery plane crash (the nightmares that inspired could still give her a wiggins, even now). They were family, why wouldn't
he want to see Dawn?
“I know why Uncle Hank told you I was dead,” he said and even with his glasses it was obvious he wasn't looking at her. Buffy glanced at his friends; the man in the wheelchair was smiling, unconcerned, but the woman and the teen girl were both frowning. The final dude didn't seem to have any opinion whatsoever. Her eyes fell upon the woman's striking hair, she recalled Fury mentioning getting her in touch with a director for a school for mutants for help in getting the slayers all situated, and it all clicked into place. She sort of wished it hadn't.
She closed her eyes, getting control of her temper before she broke something (or someone) and finally grabbed her cousin's chin and forced him to face her. “My sperm donor's a bigoted jackass,” she informed him tightly and he froze completely. “As long as you follow the family code, as long as you do your best to treat everyone with respect, I don't give a flying patootie if you're a mutant and neither will Dawn.”
The look on Scott's face was a smidgen of relief and a whole lot of skepticism. It was seemingly shared by the two women and the younger man.
“Buffy's right,” Xander piped in. “Besides, it'd be kinda hypocritical of her to hold it against you, all things considered.”
She glared at Xander a moment—and Giles said she
was bad at the whole secret identity thing!—and then turned to her gaping cousin. “Before you ask, no, I'm not a mutant,” she told him and he frowned. “I'm...just not entirely...mundane. ”
“Hence, SHIELD!” Willow added helpfully. Buffy glanced back and gave her friend a wry smile, which she returned a moment before the redhead turned to the man in the wheelchair. “You're Dr. Charles Xavier, aren't you? I've read you're book. I'm Willow. Willow Rosenberg.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Ms. Rosenberg,” he replied with a smile. Buffy startled a bit at the accent, glancing at Giles almost without thought. He seemed just as surprised, but it was obviously a good one.
“Let's get started,” Fury said, and Buffy jumped. She hadn't even seen the guy standing there, watching.
“I...are they staying?” Xander asked, claiming the seat on the end, next to Willow. Buffy was sitting in between Giles and Willow.
“Yes,” Giles answered. “I agreed with Director Fury to let them know...though now I'm not sure...”
He was looking at her, she realized, turning away from her confused looking cousin. She gave him a brief smile and a shrug. “Better he know now,” she said. “Besides, he's family. It makes him a target if anyone finds out.”
“Introductions might be nice,” the guy who hadn't spoken before, said, staring pointedly.
“Right, of course,” Giles said. “Rupert Giles, Director and Co-Head of the International Watcher's Council.” We need a new name,
Buffy thought momentarily before looking at the gruff man when he pinned her with a stare.
“That would make you a Slayer,” he said, nodding as if to himself. “Makes sense.”
“You know about us?” Buffy asked, exasperated. It was one thing for Natasha to know about Slayers, she wasn't exactly mundane herself, but this guy? He was just some high-ranking mutant, how did he find out?!
“When were you called?” he asked instead of answering. She glanced at Scott, who was frowning, and then told him. The man's eyebrows rose in surprise.
“I knew your predecessor, India,” he said and Buffy gaped.
“You...you did?” She knew a little bit about the other slayer, not a lot, but enough.
“Little spitfire saved my ass because I didn't know what I was fighting,” he grunted out. “She and her watcher gave me the drill before we went our ways.”
“I wasn't aware of that,” Dr. Xavier said, looking surprised. “Interesting.”
“You're the Slayer?” the white-haired woman asked, head tilted.
“You know too?' she demanded and the woman smiled slightly.
“One of the girls from my village in Africa was Called when I was a child,” she answered calmly. “So yes, I know.”
“Well, I don't,” the teen said, voice with a southern twang. “Someone want to explain?”
“Introductions first,” Xavier said and then proceeded to point everyone out. The woman was Ororo Monroe, aka Storm. The teen was Rogue, just Rogue. The other man was Logan, or Wolverine. Buffy frowned.
“I'm going to regret asking this,” she said and looked at her cousin. “You got a nickname too?”
“Cyclops,” he answered uncomfortably.
“The glasses,” he confirmed. “Without them my power is uncontrollable.”
“So you're power is optical?” Willow asked, head tilted. He nodded. “How so?”
“Willow?” Giles broke in before he could answer. “Perhaps you can contain your curiosity for another time.”
“Right,” she said, smiling sheepishly. “Sorry, I'm a science geek. The whole mutant thing's always interested me.”
“Witch,” Xander coughed and Buffy smiled briefly as Willow flushed.
Giles shook his head and introduced Xander before focusing back on Fury. “I believe we have some explaining to do?”
So they did and though Rogue and Scott were both highly skeptical, they had to accept Buffy and Willow were different when Willow decided to be mischievous and levitate them both above the table. Buffy had a feeling Scott thought they were just mutants and that vampires were too. It was going to take some time to get him to understand they weren't.
Unsurprisingly, it was Rogue who took exception to what they did to the Slayers. Scott was old enough to understand the rock and a hard place they'd been in, but Rogue was still young and she obviously had issues with her own mutancy. Forcing powers onto hundreds, thousands of teenage girls was not something she approved and probably wouldn't until she dealt with her own issues, if then. As much as Buffy wanted not to, she understood the girl's point. Maybe she should introduce Rogue to Dawn and the mini's. Maybe that would help.
A good portion of the meeting was spent going over some of what the Council could do to help the girls. First thing Xavier suggested was a haven, like his own school. There were going to be girls who didn't deal well with it and humans, as a whole, had proved they didn't do well with people with powers beyond their understanding. It was summer, so Xavier offered to let them use the school as a US base until they could get their own plans off the ground. The school wasn't associated with the military and Fury didn't seem to like the idea, so Buffy and Giles naturally agreed to come see the mansion and talk it over further. Besides, Buffy wanted to get to know her cousin now that they were both adults. The Summers' had to stick together.
“I'll explain it all again when you aren't in shock,” Buffy told Scott before they left. He frowned.
“I'm not in shock,” he disagreed and Buffy raised an eyebrow at him as Xavier and the rest of the X-Men waited patiently at the door with Fury.
“Okay. I'll just be here or in Rome not believing you,” she replied, causing Logan, Xander, and Rogue to all snicker. Scott had to get back to the school but he promised to fly to Rome in a few weeks, if only to see Dawn in person. As it was, she was going to be pissed she missed him.
They left the room devoid of anyone but the Scoobies, giving them time to talk. They didn't discuss anything of importance, of course, they weren't stupid, but Xander brought up an interesting point.
“I'm just saying,” he insisted when they all looked at him skeptically. “It can't be a coincidence, Buffy being Cyclops' cousin and Steve's sister-granddaughter person. Cyclops is leader of the X-Men, Steve is leader of the Avengers, and you're co-leader of the Slayers. That's too much, Buffy. It smacks of interference.”
Willow and Giles frowned but Buffy had a feeling Xander wasn't wrong. It was
too much of a coincidence, too much like they'd all been thrown together. Steve and Scott both knew about her job now, she knew about theirs....She frowned. “Whistler, I'd like some answers,” she said quietly, not looking at Giles or Willow. The four of them looked around but nothing happened. Buffy sighed. “Figures. He gives me info when I don't want it but not when I need it.”
“You think Xander's right?” Willow asked and Buffy frowned.
“When it comes to things like this...he's hardly ever wrong,” she shrugged. Xander looked like he didn't know whether or not to preen and Giles was now looking more disturbed than he had been before. Go figure.
“Well,” Willow said, always the voice of reason. “We'll deal with it when we have to. No use trying to plan for something we have no idea is coming or not.”
“Or even what it might be,” Giles agreed. “Though it might not be a bad idea to foster better relations with both groups either way. If we're going to need their help someday...”
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed and then the door opened. Glances went around and they all agreed not to speak of it further. No doubt it was recorded but at least they'd be out of HQ by the time Fury watched the video or listened to the conversation.
Fury wasn't alone, though this time it was just one man with him. The other walked stiffly, obviously recovering from an injury, but he was dressed in a suit. His hair was cut incredibly short, barely enough hair to get in a firm grip, and he was tall. Blue eyes, impassive face, he was the epitome of the government agent.
Again, Buffy recognized him though not, thankfully, because he was family.
“What the...is this just a day when everyone I think is dead is not actually dead?” she demanded, rounding on Fury. “Cause I'm pretty sure I spent ten minutes last night listening to the team talking about how Phil Coulson faced off against Loki and died
. Why is he not six feet under?”
“He got better,” Fury deadpanned. Coulson winced but sat down, apparently not willing to get in the middle. Yet.
Buffy's eyes narrowed. “They call you Fury because you're infuriating, don't they?”
“You recognize me?” Coulson broke in smoothly, which was probably a good thing as Fury had just smirked at her, raising her hackles even further. If she had to focus on the one-eyed man too much, she was liable to punch him. She had issues with people who were supposed to be dead not staying dead.
“Clint felt the need to show me a picture, which I think is because we were talking about memorials and slayers and, seriously, why are you not dead?!” she demanded, hands on her hips.
“Agatha Harkness,” Fury answered and that meant little to Buffy but, apparently, a lot to Willow and Giles.
“I wondered where she'd disappeared to,” Giles murmured as Willow began practically vibrating with excitement as she explained quietly that the woman in question was a well-known witch of considerable power. Giles raised an eyebrow at Fury. “She's now in your employ, I take it?”
“Ally more like, though she's more fond of the Fantastic Four than of us,” Fury agreed. “She was on the Carrier to inspect Loki's form of magic when all hell broke loose.”
“She was able to heal me enough that the doctors could do the rest,” Coulson said. He smiled without humor. “Though she did inform me that, for all intents and purposes, I was dead for a few minutes.”
“Welcome to the club, I may get t-shirts,” Buffy replied without thinking. He raised an eyebrow and she winced. “Too soon?”
“Sorry,” she apologized. He nodded in acknowledgment. They were all silent a moment. “So why do they still think you're dead then?” She really wanted to know the answer to this—this was important information, considering her own penchant for not staying dead. She'd never actually hidden her alive status from her friends before and she couldn't understand what kind of man would.
“Because one, I don't know how much any of them actually know about magic,” Fury said. “And two...by the time we knew he'd actually survive, a week had gone by and they'd already mourned.”
“This isn't right,” Buffy said, not liking his answer. “To them or to you.”
“I know,” he said and she had a feeling he really did completely agree with her. “But my hands are tied.”
“As are mine,” Fury said and he did look annoyed about it. “The Council I answer to, once they knew Coulson was alive, forbid me from telling the team.”
Buffy's lips pursed before a wicked smile crossed her mind. Before she could voice it, however, Giles spoke up. “When we talked before, about you assigning us a liaison...you want Mr. Coulson to be that liaison?” he asked, obviously trying to get the meeting back on track. She didn't fault him, especially as she could see Xander and Willow were uncomfortable with the line of questioning, but she thought it was important.
“Yes,” Fury agreed. “I can't have Agent Coulson in any SHIELD facility that might know who he is until I can get the Council to see reason. Normally I'd say fuck it and tell them myself but...”
“He's on thin ice as is,” Coulson explained. “We can't let the Council replace him, which is highly possible given their anger with him at the moment.”
“Why are they angry with you?” Buffy couldn't help but ask.
“I was the one who told Stark about the nuke they ordered for Manhattan,” he said with a stony face.
“They tried nuking Manhattan?!” All four of them exclaimed simultaneously. This was not something that had been in any conversations or the news that she knew of.
“They thought it was the only way to close the portal and keep any more of the Chitauri from coming through,” Fury nodded. “I didn't agree.”
“Good boy,” Buffy said and ignored the subsequent dirty look he gave her. “But they still sent it?”
“Yes,” Fury agreed. “So I called Stark.”
“And now you're on their shit list,” Xander nodded approvingly. “I like you.”
Any other time, any other conversation, Buffy probably would have laughed at the expression on Fury's face at Xander's comment. Instead, all she could think about was how close the US had come from nuclear fallout in the Eastern region. “I don't think I trust your bosses,” she informed him.
“Good,” he said. “Because they're morons.”
“Once we spill the Slayer beans to the team, I might have a way to reveal Agent Coulson that doesn't put you in hot water with the morons,” she said and they both looked at her. The Agent was impassive but Fury was smirking. She realized, then, that she'd been played. He'd hoped she'd see the loophole there and she had. She nodded at him. Well done.
Fury wasn't allowed to tell about Coulson and Coulson had to leave, so Fury was sending him with the one person who, once Buffy revealed her own secrets to the entire team, could tell them herself. It was the type of plan she probably would have done if given half the chance.
Possibly. She had
fired the Old Council after all so she probably would have just said fuck the consequences and did what she wanted no matter what they said.
Giles and Fury began discussing what, exactly, Coulson would be doing, with various input from Willow and Xander. The main issue she had with her plan, she realized as she tuned them all out, was that it meant she would have to eventually tell Stark about her and she was actually enjoying his attempts to figure it out. Not only that, but Fury had made it clear the supernatural side would be kept from Dr. Banner and Stark (Thor didn't count, he was a God) until such a time as they thought the two scientists were in a place where they could handle it. With Stark, that meant when he wouldn't immediately start trying to experiment with magic and slayers and with Dr. Banner...he needed to be in a place where he wouldn't Hulk-out if he got too upset about it.
That reminded her of Oz and his control issues and she suddenly wondered if the monks he'd found to help him control the wolf would be any help in Dr. Banner controlling the Hulk. Huh. Something to look into.~~*~~
“So, you're coming to visit in a few weeks, right?” Buffy asked as she stood at the airport with Steve and the rest of the Avengers. Agent Coulson wasn't there, naturally, and it was taking all her considerable willpower not to blurt out his alive status right then and there. This was going to take finesse and preparation, because she knew no matter how it happened, the entire team was going to be pissed.
“Two weeks from today,” Steve agreed, standing next to her.
“You're gonna stay in touch,” Darcy was saying nearby as she and Dawn stood huddled together. “Spring Break you should come back, stay with us. It'll be fun.” Tony and Pepper were more or less forcing Darcy to move into Stark Tower for her protection so Dawn would have top-notch protection if Buffy gave the green-light. Not to mention, Steve would be there too. Buffy might have to tag along.
“I'm not sure I get Spring Break, it's a weird school Giles got me into,” Dawn said, frowning. “But I think maybe Christmas? Or New Years, I might be able to swing New Years.”
“New Years would be awesome, we could probably talk Tony into getting us into all the major parties—and we could watch the ball drop!” Darcy grinned.
“If you ever decide you need a new career, you let me know,” Tony told Willow in the corner. He'd been bugging her since the party about going to work for him, to Xander and Buffy's amusement. He wanted her for her tech skills, not knowing she used magic for a lot of the skills he wanted to utilize.
“If you get the chance, you should check out Wakanda,” Natasha was telling Xander. The Carpenter would be going back to Africa a few days after they arrived in England, leaving the Isle the same day Buffy and Dawn would be going to Rome. “Interesting country.”
“I'll keep that in mind,” he laughed. “For now, I'm focusing on the southern area. Moving my way up.”
“Here's my contact information,” Pepper said on the other side of Buffy and Steve, handing over a small envelope to Giles. He accepted it with a quick thanks and she shook her head. “Think nothing of it—if you or the girls need anything, Tony's already given the go ahead to do whatever we can.”
“He doesn't have to--”
“He still feels bad about Hammer kidnapping Dawn,” she explained quietly. “He won't say it, of course, but I know him too well.”
“Speaking of which, any word on who his benefactor is?” Giles asked curiously.
Pepper shook her head. “Hammer's being surprisingly tight-lipped,” she replied. “According to Fury, not even their interrogators have been able to get anything. I think Fury's pulling someone in to help, a telepath. That tells me he's pretty worried about it.”
“He did tell us why he took Dawn though,” Clint said and Buffy's lips pursed. Coulson had revealed that when they'd met him the day before, after Fury left them to talk alone. Hammer had actually been ordered to take Dawn by his benefactor, who had insinuated that Dawn was not actually a Summers. Hammer had assumed that meant Dawn was Tony's. They knew she wasn't, the paternity test had proven that, but the fact Hammer's benefactor knew about Dawn meant the man or woman was, most likely, an enemy of Buffy's and knew about the supernatural. Buffy hadn't asked if the benefactor had told Hammer about Darcy too or if the man's own curiosity had led to the discovery on his own but Buffy didn't really care. Whoever the asshole was, they'd be meeting the sharp edge of the Scythe once she found them. Fury had signed a blood oath to keep her in the loop about that particular mystery.
Their flight was called then, the head stewardess coming down the stairs to let them know herself (Tony had about had a heart attack when she'd told him they planned to fly coach to England and before she knew it, they were flying in one the Stark jets). Buffy turned to give Steve a hug as nearby, Darcy hugged Dawn tightly and Clint made cracks. “Two weeks,” she whispered and he nodded, arms tight around her. “Stay safe, Steve.”
“So long as you do too,” he replied, kissing the top of her head. They let go and Dawn dove over to get her own hug from the super-soldier as Buffy approached Tony. Willow, Giles, and Xander were already on the plane (thanks to Fury, Willow had “proof” that she'd flown to New York on a military craft from Brazil, so when she got to Heathrow, no one would be any the wiser—Kennedy had over-nighted the redhead's passport and visa paperwork when it was obvious she was staying for a few days at least).
“So,” he replied back, rocking on his heels. Finally he nodded, holding out a hand. “Agent Barbie. Been a...pleasure.”
“I'm not an agent,” she reminded him even as she accepted his handshake. He waved her comment away—oh yeah, watching him struggle to figure it out was going to be hilarious. Too bad she wouldn't be here in person to see it. Speaking of... “Thanks for the lift.”
“No one should be tortured with coach,” he replied with a shrug. He smirked. “And don't worry, I decided to forgo the stripper flight attendants. Only two of you would have appreciated it anyway.”
“Three of us,” Buffy replied instantly. The party had ended before Tony had figured out Willow liked girls, so she decided now was as good a time as any to enlighten him.
“What?” he asked, frowning.
“Three of us would have appreciated it,” she replied calmly but with a too bright grin as Natasha snickered nearby. She gave him an amused look. “What, you didn't notice the way Willow kept checking out Pepper, Natasha, and Dr. Foster the other night? There was a reason your innuendo didn't work.”
His mouth dropped as her meaning penetrated his skull and even though she couldn't see his eyes through his sunglasses, she had a feeling they were bugging out. Laughing, she picked up her carry on, the scythe magically hidden inside, and jogged up to the waiting plane. Leaving him with that mental image was either a present or torture, she wasn't sure which. She just hoped Pepper forgave her because either way, Tony was going to be impossible the next day or so.
Turning at the door, took in the Avengers standing on the tarmac, the clouds breaking up as she watched. Steve looked like he was about to cry but the sunshine...it lit him up, illuminating him and his team. She swallowed, lifting her head up to stare at the heavens suspiciously.
Oh yeah. Not a coincidence at all
Heaving a sigh, she entered the plane, taking a moment to simply shake her head at the opulence, before sitting down and buckling up.
The plane started moving and Buffy leaned back, content with Dawn beside her and her friends, and she actually felt okay calling them that again, surrounding her. This was how it was supposed to be.
Whatever the Powers were planning, they'd deal with it. All
She was ready to be strong again. End Note 1:
**In this time-line, I'm saying Scott hasn't yet found out about Corsair and Havok yet and thinks they both died.End Note 2:
I fully planned on writing an epilogue but I think this works better without one. I hope the ending fit to your satisfaction. There are a lot of unanswered questions, I know, but they'll all be addressed in the sequel. :) Thanks to my many many reviewers and reccers—you guys are awesome:
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