"I work for S.H.I.E.L.D." Helena said simply taking a sip of her iced tea before smoothing her chocolate hair back behind her ears. Holly had pulled her out of the elevator and demanded they go elsewhere to talk. A few blocks down Helena had been pulled into a restaurant bustling with the lunch rush and seated at a table in the thick of the crowd. Holly had sworn that they would be safe and Helena was thankful for that. Now she watched as Holly’s face cycled through a handful of emotions and finally settled on disbelief. Holly downed the rest of her drink before covering her face with her hands and giving an exasperated sigh.
"Let me get this straight- You work for Nick Fury." Holly spoke.
"Did you know I worked for him?"
"No of course not. I didn’t know anything about your whereabouts until a couple of days ago. I recognized your alias immediately when Fury told me I’d be working with you and it only cemented my decision to be on this project."
"What project? What is your job exactly?" Holly demanded, her eyes narrowing at her sister.
" Director Fury said that I was to work with you in assisting the Avengers."
"Uh huh." Holly mused as one of her eyebrows raised. Helena shrugged and procured a file from her bag.
"If you don’t believe me it’s all in here. I’m supposed to give this to Ms. Potts."
"It’s not that I don’t believe you it’s just…you as an assistant? You don’t exactly blossom around people you don’t know." Holly teased as her sister’s cheeks reddened.
"Oh it gets worse." Helena murmured as Holly’s eyes scanned the file. It was full of the elaborate back story and family records that Helena and her handler had created for all of them before they had split up.
"My assignment is a little more specialized than yours. See, while you were told to watch over all of the Avengers, Fury said that my main focus should be Steve Rodgers." Holly’s eyes shot up and settled on her blushing older sister.
"You!" she snorted.
"I’m supposed to try and help him get better acquainted and familiarized with today’s technology and in return he’s supposed to help me with my people skills. Fury said he can be a people person?" Helena was fidgeting with her napkin and Holly couldn’t help but smirk.
"He’s definitely polite." Holly said as she started to wonder if she had been assigned to someone and Fury had just neglected to tell her. She closed the file and handed it back to Helena who replaced it in her bag. Conversation died for a few moments as the servers brought out the food they had ordered and brought them refills of their drinks.
"So have you heard from Hannah?" Holly pried.
"Of course. Did you really think she was going to stay undercover for long?"
"Well no knowing her."
"She’s good. She was working as a medic for the military overseas before she showed up on S.H.I.E.L.D.s radars. They got in touch with her of course and she’s out on a mission right now."
"She works for S.H.I.E.L.D. too!?" Holly yelped practically slamming her drink down on the table. "This is starting to seem way to fishy to me."
"Calm down." Helena growled as she grabbed her sister’s arm and cast a cursory glance around the restaurant. "They’re not onto us and they don’t know we’re related let alone sisters."
"Are you sure about that?" Holly shot back giving her sister a warning glance. Helena sat back and bit her lip. She pushed some food around her plate nervously as a pit in her stomach formed.
"I’ll look into it." Helena said just loud enough for Holly to hear. Holly fidgeted in her seat and the sound of rustling paper caught her attention. She reached behind her and her fingers touched the envelope she had received in the mail- the one that had ruined an otherwise perfectly normal day. I should tell her, Holly thought until she saw her sister’s smiling face. It was Helena’s way of diffusing a family situation and it only made Holly replace her hand on the table. Helena didn’t need to know about the note yet. No need to worry her on her first day of work.
"Thank you again for lunch." Helena smiled bumping shoulders with Holly.
"Don’t thank me. You can thank Pepper for giving me a Stark Industries expenses account later." Holly smirked as she thought of the look on Tony’s face. The girls had ended their lunch on a good note and had decided to head up to Holly’s suite to catch up on everything that had happened.
"My room is that door right there. Did you want anything from the kitchen?" Holly asked as she headed back towards the common area.
"Just a water bottle." Helena called as she disappeared into the bedroom. Meeting everyone so soon would only stress her out.
Holly moved around the kitchen and grabbed cold water from the fridge. The common area was almost eerily silent except for the bass she could feel in the floor coming from Clint’s room. Blaring music was something he liked to do when he was “home alone” and needed a distraction. Holly didn’t mind it and had learned to work around it. I hope they like Helena, Holly smiled to herself as she practically skipped back to her.
"Anything interesting on the television?" Holly asked amused by the odd looking reality show that her sister had flipped to.
"Not really." Helena sighed and turned the TV off. "Just the same garbage that’s usually on during the middle of the day. I can’t imagine we’ll spend our days watching that crap."
"I don’t. The only time I watch TV is on laundry day and I usually just watch old reruns of Friends. I keep pretty busy around here ."
"Oh really? If I wasn’t here right now what would you be doing?" Helena pried.
"Um…I would be throwing dinner in the over, at the gym with Steve, or probably upstairs in one of the labs messing with Tony’s hologram projections. I could do that here but it is a lot more fun in a room full of projectors."
"Sounds like fun. Do you think I could see that room?" Helena asked her fingers itching to play with some technology. Holly shrugged.
"I don’t see why not. We can drop off your file to Pepper on the way." Holly said gesturing for her sister to follow her out of the room and back onto the elevator.
Holly was surprised to find that Pepper was already back from lunch when she knocked on the office door. Seeing Tony first thing when she opened the door soured her mood slightly but she brushed him off for Helena’s sake. Holly introduced Helena as her sister handed over her file and received a file and key cards in return. Holly watched as both Pepper and Tony seemed to size Helena up as she stood quietly in front of the desk. Pepper hadn’t done that to her so obviously but she also hadn’t shown up as a surprise. Fury had already set Helena up for failure.
"I don’t mean to inconvenience you both but there isn’t a bedroom set up for her since we didn’t know she was coming. She’ll have to stay with you while we make arrangements." Pepper said shortly.
"Not a problem." Holly smiled. Both of her bosses looked at them suspiciously.
"Really?" Stark scoffed.
"Yes. We’re both professionals here and from what I’ve gathered so far she will be easy enough to live with." Holly said.
"And you’re okay with showing her around." Pepper asked looking between the girls. Holly nodded and Pepper smiled.
"Okay then. Nice to meet you Agent Minis and welcome to Stark Industries." Pepper stood and moved around her desk to shake Helena’s hand. Helena smiled and nodded to both Pepper and Tony before turning to follow Holly. When the door was safely shut Tony sighed with agitation.
"What?" Pepper asked.
"Another one? I don’t like having one spy for Fury let alone two."
"Oh please Tony. Natasha and Clint are more likely to spy and report on you to Fury than Holly. Don’t get me wrong- I don’t like having another person just mysteriously show up at my doorstep but we can’t just turn her away."
"Yes we can." Tony corrected.
"No we can’t. Helena has a more specified project than Holly- she’s here to help Steve adjust."
"I can do that. Problem solved. Now send her away." Pepper rolled her eyes at Tony.
"Uh huh. In less than an hour you two would have the fight of the century going and all of us would be doomed to hear about it for months. Give this girl a chance. You didn’t like Holly at first either and you’re finally coming around to her."
"I am not!"
"She brings you donuts to the lab."
"So. I could go get donuts myself."
"And yet, you don’t. Just give it time." Pepper kissed Tony on the lips and ran her finger through his hair. He practically purred and pulled her into a long embrace. She always knew just the right buttons to push.
"So this is Research and Development?" Helena asked as she stepped out of the elevator.
"Yup. This is where Tony and Dr. Banner spend most of their time. I just come here for the toys." Holly chuckled.
"Can you tell me more about the others? I was only given information on Steve and you can only learn so much through the media and by word of mouth."
"Sure. I’m sure once I get you on the computer you’ll be able to bring up all the information you could ever want. I’m sure Jarvis will be able to help and if not, you’re smart enough to override him. I haven’t been able to so you’ll be doing us both a favor." Holly smiled as they passed the lab where Bruce was working. He met Holly’s gaze and smiled as he waved to her. She waved back at him and innocently tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as her stomach was suddenly full of butterflies.
"And that was?" Helena asked as Holly closed the door of the conference room.
"Doctor Bruce Banner. He’s a good guy, but I don’t know much about him."
"Well we can fix that. Where’s the computer?" Helena asked looking around the room. It was almost completely empty except for the conference table set in the middle of the room.
"Jarvis…" Holly spoke softly. She slowly swept her hand across the empty air before her and she heard Helena gasp as a blue holographic keyboard appeared in the air where her hand had been. Holly typed her access code on the and the room came to life with other holographic images. Helena seemed to be at a loss as she silently walked around the room looking at the images that had appeared. There were a few labeled folders and word documents but nothing that screamed "Look at me!"
" Jarvis, open a model of the Milky Way."
"Right away." the AI answered and the model appeared in the empty space between Helena and Holly. Helena gasped and leaned slightly forward to study the intricate details of the projection.
"Helena." Holly whispered to get her sisters attention before grabbing the projection with both hands and expanding it to fill the entire room. Another surprised gasp escaped from Helena’s lips as she turned in circles. Holly leaned on the edge of the conference table as her sister walked around and played with clusters of stars by zooming in on them and turning them.
"This is remarkable. I’ll have to get some of this technology from Stark before I leave."
"Good luck with that." Holly chuckled as she closed the solar system. She opened a folder that had files with all of the Avengers names on them and moved the folders to their own places in the air.
"Why are there double files?" Helena asked as she noticed each file had two documents.
"One contains notes that I have taken since I got here. The other-" Holly opened all of the secondary files side-by-side. They instantly flashed red. "- contains the classified personal profiles that I don’t have high enough clearance to access on my own. I was sent in with no information and apparently Stark plans to keep it that way…or maybe it’s Fury. Either way I need your help." Holly murmured as Helena came to lean beside her.
"It should be easy enough. There’s one thing that I need to do first though." Helena said as she moved to a single laptop that was located at the head of the table. "Jarvis I need you to upload this alright?" Helena said as she plugged in a thumb drive to the laptop.
"Jarvis?" Holly asked but there was no reply. She turned to see her sister typing away on another holographic keyboard and smiling rather menacingly. The walls around them went dark and Holly swore she heard the lock on the door click.
"You seriously walk around the a virus in your pocket all day?"
"You never know." Helena chuckled. Her fingers were flying so fast across the hologram the only way Holly was able to follow her movements was due to years of practice. It took her no time to crack the security on the profiles and she sat back looking rather proud of herself as the red "Access Denied" banner disappeared and took a second to pull her hair up.
"Who do you want to learn about first?" Helena asked.
"I’m not sure. Maybe Tony? He one of the ones I know the least about." Holly pulled Tony’s file out of the bunch and bit her lip as she held it before her, the light from the icon casting an eerie glow on her face. Helena had seen the serious expression that overtook her sister’s face as Holly’s eyes glazed over momentarily.
Pounding on the door brought Holly back from her flashback and she looked at Helena as her heart started racing. They were caught for sure. Helena went into overdrive on the keyboard as she closed everything out and cleared everything away.
"Who’s in there?" came a muffled voice from outside the door.
"What do we do?" Holly whispered.
"Go open the door." Helena commanded as she pulled the drive from the computer. Holly smoothed her hair as she hit the door release. She plastered on a smile as a furious looking Tony and Steve came into her view.
"Something wrong gentlemen?" she asked with feigned innocence.
"Jarvis went offline a couple of minutes ago while doing routine maintenance before this entire floor shut down. This room in particular was the only one that was locked." Tony growled as he took a step towards her and glowered down at her.
"Really?" Holly asked blinking up at him.
"Know anything about it?"
"No. I mean the room went dark but I just figured it was, as you said, part of routine maintenance."
"I’m sure what Stark meant to ask was are you both okay?" Steve butted in peering at both of the girls.
"Oh we’re fine. I was just showing Helena how to use the interface." Holly said gesturing for her sister to join her. Helena stood beside Holly with a forced smile that did nothing to conceal her discomfort.
"Steve this is Agent Helena Minis of S.H.I.E.L.D. She’s been assigned to work with me here at the tower." Holly nudged Helena.
"Nice to meet you ma’am." Steve said as he shook Helena’s hand.
"You as well. Director Fury told me you were having some issues with some technology and was hoping I could be a better help than Mr. Stark." Holly tried to stifle a snort as Tony’s eyes widened and a huge grin appeared on Steve’s face.
"Did he now? We’ll have to look into that later but for now Pepper wants to clear the floor until the cause of the crash is discovered. Ladies, if you would." Steve stepped aside so the girls could move out of the room.
"No problem. I’ll just show her the rest of the interface from my room. See you at dinner." Holly smiled at Steve and Tony and pulled Helena after her. Holly looked into Bruce’s lab as they passed but it was just as dark and empty as the rest of the rooms on the floor. The girls entered the stairwell and Holly smacked Helena on the arm.
"You shut down the entire floor! Are you trying to get us caught!?" Holly growled quietly.
"It’s not usually used on a system this vast. I’ll have to tweak the programming a little so next time it will only block out the room we’re in…and make it appear that the system is still online." Holly stopped Helena on the stairs.
"There can’t be a next time now. Tony will be watching the grid like a hawk to try and catch another slip in the system."
"Oh sis, you worry too much. Besides, it was worth it." Helena mused as she pressed the thumb drive into Holly’s palm and continued down the stairs.
"What do I need this for?"
"I had time to download the files onto that before the door opened. You can plug it in and read them at your leisure now." Holly stuffed the drive into her pocket and continued down the stairs to the next floor.
"Don’t look so sour. I’m sorry okay? If I had known I was going to crash the system I wouldn’t have risked it." Helena said to Holly who looked bothered. They had caught the elevator down on the next floor and Holly had been quiet.
"This is the kind of mistake that would have cost us our lives back in the day and could potentially cost us our covers now and you’re acting very nonchalant." Holly spoke in a low voice as she rubbed her thumb over the drive. Helena seemed to deflate a little and grabbed her sister by the shoulders.
"Don’t worry. I will go in and make sure we can’t be traced. If my virus did what it’s supposed to it shouldn’t have left behind any clues. I promise I will be more careful." Holly could only nod at her sister.
"So that was Steve."
"Yup that was him."
"Talk about dreamy." Helena teased lightly. Holly broke a smile and shook her head at her sister.
"He’s definitely something. I wish you the best of luck with him. He tends to think computers are too slow."
"Well he’s never been on one of my computers." Helena grinned as the elevator opened to an empty common room. The girls stepped out and retired to their shared bedroom until it was time to start preparing dinner. The girls reminisced over old times of cooking meals for everyone as people slowly started to trickle back into the space. Holly watched Helena slowly start to try and introvert into her shell but the Avengers didn’t exactly allow you to do that. Clint became instantly indebted to Helena when she jumped in to save his computer from a virus. She stopped it mid-download and Holly took quiet enjoyment in the mix of irritation and appreciation on Clint’s face. On the one hand she had snatched the laptop out of his hand but on the other she had saved him money and a scold/gloat fest from Tony.
With the table set and everyone present at the table (including Tony) Helena stood up from the table and looked around at everyone. She cleared her throat but it didn’t stop her voice from cracking at first.
"Hello everyone. My name is Helena and I’ve been assigned to work with Holly. While my forte is electronics I am here to help you with whatever you need."
"So go easy on her." Holly added in noticing the mischievous unspoken exchange between Clint and Natasha. They had been rather cruel to Holly the first few weeks.
"Happy to have you." Steve said raising his glass to her and the others, though apprehensive, did the same.
"Welcome to the family." Clint chuckled.
It was just before lunch time and Pepper was sitting at her desk. The phones had finally stopped ringing and her office was peaceful except for the low roar of music playing from her computer. She was checking her schedule on her touch screen when it began buzzing in her palm and Tony’s face appeared. Pepper smiled at the screen before answering it and holding the phone to her ear.
"Well hello beautiful. I was wondering what you are doing for lunch today?" He was always such a smartass on the phone. Pepper bit her lip and drummed her fingers on her desk.
"Hmm…We could go to that little place down the street and get pitas. How does that sound?" She heard Tony mulling it over.
"I guess that’s doable. I’ll come by and get ya." he said. "Love you."
"I love you too." Pepper smiled even bigger. As she set her phone down on her desk there was a knock on her door. Pepper put on her most stoic, professional face and cleared her throat.
"Come in." The door opened and Holly took a half step in, standing in the middle of the doorway. Pepper smiled at the girl until she spoke.
"Ms. Potts. May I come in?" Pepper was baffled by the professionalism and tone that Holly used. They had been on a first name basis for the past couple of weeks. Had something happened?
‘If Tony said something to her, I swear to God….’ Pepper thought as she beckoned Holly into her office. Holly closed the door securely behind her and as she moved to take her seat it was then that Pepper noticed an envelope in her hands. She felt her eyebrow raise a little in an unspoken question but she dragged it back down to it’s proper spot and replaced the smile.
"Is everything okay?" Pepper asked folding her hands on her lap. Holly was the essence of blank as she looked up at her boss. She took a deep breath and her composure cracked just enough to allow herself to scratch the back of her hand which was raw from being scratched excessively.
"Ms. Potts, this may sound like a dumb question but, how safe is Stark Tower?"
"Stark Tower is the safest placed you could be. Tony wrote all the programming and JARVIS is online constantly running updates and monitoring everything. Nothing gets past us." Pepper spoke, her eyebrows raising at her question. Holly looked around the room and ended up staring at a picture of the Avengers on Pepper’s desk. There were all smiling, embracing and laughing at the camera. They appeared more of a family there than she had ever seen in the public eye. They had even started to embrace her in the short time she had been there- well, most of them. Steve, Bruce, and Pepper had been her biggest allies against Tony and the assassins. Thor had still not returned so the jury was out on him.
"Holly?" Pepper called, pulling her from her thoughts.
"Did something happen?"
"Well…" Holly murmured, bending the edges of the envelope.
- Earlier That Day -
"Anyone home?" Holly called as the elevator opened onto their floor.
"Kitchen!" was the answer she received though she couldn’t be sure who had replied to her. She was surprised to see everyone sitting at the kitchen table with Clint standing at the stove with a spatula.
"What are we making?" Holly asked setting the two grocery bags on her arm down on the counter. She stuffed her key ring into her messenger bag and started sorting through the armful of mail that she had stolen from the courier.
"Pancakes." Clint said as he flipped the one he was cooking in the pan.
"Is that a problem?" Clint said raising an eyebrow and pointing his spatula at her. Holly shook her head and gave him a thumbs up.
"Pancakes are awesome." she said as she began to walk around the table and hand people their mail.
"Classified envelope from SHIELD to Natasha, a matching envelope and Amazon package for our lovely chef which I will give to Natasha, an unholy stack of science magazines for Banner, and another Amazon package- this one for Steve." Holly smiled handing the package over to Steve. Holly moved through the kitchen grabbing all of the pancake condiments and brought them to the table. A full plate of pancakes followed the condiments and Holly leaned against the counter beside Clint as she waited for him to fill up another plate. She glanced at Clint and saw that he was looking at her as he lifted the edges of the pancake with his spatula. She cracked a small smile at him and he leaned against her arm momentarily in recognition. Holly chuckled and noticed Natasha watching them. Holly turned around and bumped hips with Clint, grabbing the spatula from his hand.
"Go kiss your lady. I’ve got this." Clint looked around and saw what Holly had picked up on. He chuckled and crossed to where Natasha was. He kissed her on the forehead and began rifling through his mail. Holly just smiled and flipped the pancake in the pan.
"Holly." She turned towards the table. Bruce was looking at her and holding an envelope up. "You missed one. This is addressed to you."
"I got mail." Holly said raising an eyebrow. She wasn’t supposed to get mail unless it was from SHIELD. "Who is it from?"
"It doesn’t say." Bruce said. She ambled over to him and grabbed the envelope from him. It was addressed to Stark Tower but it only had her first name scribbled on it in messy handwriting. Her brows furrowed as she skillfully ripped open the envelope without putting down the spatula.
"What is in it?" Steve asked.
"It looks like just a piece of paper." Holly murmured. As soon as she slid the piece of paper out her heart stopped. Her whole chest clenched and she couldn’t breathe. What was written on the white sheet sent fear through her whole body in magnitudes that she could only recall feeling once before- the day she escaped. The day that she started running and would never be able to quit. The day that she became the expert of disguises, where she put all her training to her advantage, and when she turned her back on everything. She had spent her entire existence since the truth had come out trying to forget and repent. The past few weeks had made her feel that she belonged, that she didn’t have to fear anything anymore.
And then the spatula crashed to the floor.
- End Flashback -
She had batted away everyone’s concern and questions about her mail and convinced them that dropping the spatula had been an accident. It was only after lunch had been cleaned up that she grabbed the envelope and headed upstairs to see Pepper.
"I just want to make sure that no one would be able to hack into the system and spy on us." Holly said.
"Not to pull the boss card on you but, why is our security any of your concern?" Pepper said her eyes narrowing at the girl. Holly stood up from her seat and stared at Pepper.
"Because I work for SHIELD. I’m here to be an assistant to the Avengers so their security is my concern. Your security is my concern. This building is my concern." her voice had taken on that stern tone that Pepper had heard the day the eye incident had happened.
"But, if you have complete faith in Mr. Stark than who am I to question?" Holly smiled then as there was a knock on the door before Tony walked into the office.
"Honey I’m-" Tony practically glared at Holly. "-home. Am I interrupting something?"
"No I was just leaving. Thank you for your time Pepper." Holly said nodding at her boss. She smiled at Tony as she passed and was thankful when the elevator doors shut and she was alone. She scratched her raw hand and wasn’t surprised to see her fingertips covered in red smears. Great, now her hand was bleeding. Just another problem as if making Pepper suspicious of her wasn’t bad enough. Pepper didn’t think they needed help, she would do it herself. Holly pulled out her cell and dialed a number from memory. It rang a few times before going to voicemail but she knew it would.
"Hi Zach…Mod…it’s me. I don’t know if you’ll get this and I don’t expect you to respond if you do per our agreement but, I need your help. It’s a security thing- right up your alley. I just need to know that I’m safe…that my charges are safe…Thanks." Holly said as she hung up and stuffed her phone back in her pocket. She pressed the button for the lobby- she didn’t feel like going to her room now. ‘I’ll just go to the bookstore or something to ease my mind. Get myself some distractions then go bury herself in her bed with some iced tea and her findings.’ Holly thought as she folded the envelope and stuffed it into her back pocket before crossing her arms over her chest. Why did this happen when she was alone. Had this been years ago and someone had pulled something she would go to her sisters and normally the boys would be there to. They would talk and laugh and sometimes even drink. She had never felt so alone.
As she reached the lobby Holly sighed and put a smile on. May as well keep up appearances so she didn’t get bombarded with questions later. As the elevator door opened Holly’s breath froze in her chest.
Slowly but surely Holly started to form her own little niche in the tower and it didn’t take her much time at all to learn the different Avengers habits and tastes and use them to her advantage. Whether she was in the gym with Steve, or cooking for the entire “family” it felt like she was beginning to belong. Of course, Tony was still actively trying to catch her doing something fire-worthy but even he was slowly being won over by her fetching of donuts and coffee that were left places he would find them. Natasha hadn’t let on at all that she was warming up to Holly and, though he put on a good façade, Holly knew that Clint at least knew she was trustworthy. While doing laundry one day she had found his hearing aids and made sure they were alone when she returned them to him. Clint had been visibly shaken that she had found them but she waived his worries away and promised him she wouldn’t say anything. She kept her word and she always would. She’d betrayed enough trusts in the past.
Holly was immersed in her book one night when a swift knock on her bedroom door pulled her from the plot. She set the book aside and opened the door cautiously. Standing on the other side was her favorite red head and she was wearing a huge grin on her face.
"Holly! Come watch a movie with us!" Pepper demanded and waived her arm towards the living room. Clint, Natasha, Tony, and Steve were all arranging themselves on the various living room furniture with blankets and pillows. Holly smiled.
"Sure. Let me get a blanket." Holly dashed back to her room quickly and grabbed her black, fuzzy, throw blanket from the foot of her bed. She shut her bedroom door behind her and looked around for a comfortable spot to sit in. She set her blanket on the couch and was about to sit when she realized they were missing someone.
"Where’s Banner?" she asked.
"In his room. He wasn’t having such a great day so he turned in early." Tony said as he sipped his drink. He was wearing a loose pair of Iron Man pajama pants that Holly raised an eyebrow at. He was so vain.
"Did anyone ask him if he wanted to watch the movie?" she asked and Tony just rolled his eyes. Holly placed her hands on her hips and walked towards Bruce’s room.
"He wants to be left alone!" Tony called after her with that ‘I know everything’ voice that got under her skin. She ignored him of course and made sure to knock lightly on the doctor’s door just in case he had a serious migraine.
At first there was no reaction to her knocking but after a minute of peace she heard muffled movement. She chewed on her bottom lip suddenly apprehensive of what she might have unleashed on herself. The way the others talked about Bruce’s bad days made him sound like a force to be reckoned with but she had never seen him give more than scathing glares when he was upset.
"Dr. Banner?" Holly spoke quietly when she heard muffled footsteps approach the door but nothing happened. Suddenly the knob turned and the door opened just enough for Holly to see Bruce’s face.
"Yes?" he responded in a gravely voice. His hair showed signs of being restlessly raked through and there were dark circles under his eyes. There was a short mess of stubble across his jaw and something about the darkness of his eyes made her swallow before speaking.
"I just wanted to let you know that we’re having a movie night-"
"I already told her you were having a bad day!" Tony yelled in their direction over his shoulder. Holly’s nose curled up in distaste and the rest of her comment came out with an air of annoyance.
"…and I wanted to invite you regardless of your bad day."
"I see." said Bruce whose lips had quirked into a small smile at Holly’s reaction to Tony. He drummed his fingers on the back of his door and looked towards the living room where everyone was assembled. He looked down at Holly and sighed.
"I guess I could join you all." Bruce said leaving his door open as he stepped away to grab a blanket. Holly was extremely surprised and took a few steps back to allow him more personal walking space. She couldn’t help but grin as Bruce emerged from his dark room and walked with her to the couch. Tony looked completely taken aback when he saw Bruce follow her into the circle of comfy armchairs. Pepper, who was sitting beside Tony on a loveseat, smiled at Bruce.
"How nice of you to join us Bruce." Tony looked at Pepper then cleared his throat and smiled at his friend.
"Thanks. So what are we watching?" Bruce asked looking at Clint who was fiddling with the electronics.
"Anyone have a problem with Eurotrip?" Clint asked.
"I thought we were watching Bruce Almighty?" Steve asked from the kitchen.
"We decided to save that for when Thor comes back. We figure he’ll get a real kick out of it." Natasha called back to him. As the movie started playing through previews Clint joined Natasha on the sectional part that was big enough for 2 people to sleep on. Steve distributed big bowls of popcorn to Tony, Clint, Bruce, and kept one for himself. He took a seat next to Clint and Tasha leaving only 2 available seats: one next to him and one next to the arm rest. Holly took the seat next to Steve, leaving the other for Bruce since that seat had a footrest and reclining capabilities. Steve’s seat was able to do that to and he instantly offered Holly his seat but she declined. He then offered her some popcorn which she did take him up on. As the movie started everyone got comfortable under their blankets and the talking died down signaling a good start to the first Avengers movie night.
Apparently everyone had had a long day because when the movie finally ended Holly found she was the only one awake. She silently got up from the couch and turned off the TV before making her way around the sleeping bodies to collect the popcorn bowls. She threw her blanket over her shoulder and paused to admire the scene. Clint and Natasha were snuggled close together on the sectional- Natasha snuggling up to him for once. Pepper had fallen asleep in the crook of Tony’s arm, her head resting beside the arc reactor which gave her face an eerie glow. Both Bruce and Steve had their chairs fully reclined and they looked comfy enough but Steve’s blanket was actively trying to escape him. Holly knelt to spread the blanket back over him, making sure to tuck it under his ankles before moving away from the couch towards the kitchen. She set the bowls on the counter. She could do them tomorrow- she didn’t want to wake any of them. Holly turned to move to her room when a sound made her turn back around. It was a sound she knew all too well- the whimper of someone in pain.
Holly crept back into the circle of furniture and looked for the source of the tortured sound. Steve was peaceful as were the two assassins. Tony stirred a little in his sleep but he merely held Pepper closer to him and grumbled in his sleep. Holly looked down at Bruce as his face contorted in pain- a look that tightened Holly’s chest. She had once found comfort in that look- triumph. Now it only brought her shame. Bruce groaned again and grabbed at the couch in his restlessness. Something was obviously tormenting his rest.
‘Must be a nightmare. He’ll be fine.’ Holly thought as she turned to walk away. Then he gasped for air and Holly cursed under her breath. She couldn’t leave him this way- it was against her better judgment. She swallowed hard and moved back to her seat beside Bruce who appeared to be fighting on unseen foe. She placed her hand on one of his arms lightly and sighed.
"Dr. Banner? Can you hear me?" the Avenger turned towards her when their skins met and for a second he seemed at peace but, a few moments later he was groaning again. His skin was hot under her hand as she started to stroke up and down his arm in a soothing manner.
"Bruce, it’s okay. Everything is okay. You aren’t in any danger." Bruce grumbled under his breath and turned his body towards her.
"No more running?" came his low gravelly voice. Holly’s heart jumped into her throat and she fought to beat it back down. What would he know about running?
"No more running." she assured him. The man smiled in his sleep and sighed in relief. Holly lingered on the couch beside him until she was sure the nightmare had passed. Her mind raced as she watched the rise and fall of his chest.
He had been running? For how long? What from? Who was after him? Why was he here now if he was running from someone…or something? Holly chewed on her lip and stared at his face. Was it possible that someone might know just what she had been through the past couple of years. She hadn’t had anyone to talk to since she had gone off the grid and escaped him. Not even her sisters had made contact with her and that pained her more than anything. Their escapes had been a group “project”, why shouldn’t they keep in contact? Holly’s training silenced that train of thought instantly. They would ignore her to protect her just in case one of them got caught. You can’t be used as a bartering chip if no one knows where you actually are. Holly ran a hand through her hair then and touched Bruce’s arm again before getting up and heading to her room.
"Goodnight guys….Sweet dreams Bruce…" she whispered from her doorway before she closed the door and climbed into her own bed.
Holly was waiting for them with her arms full when the elevator reached their floor minus Tony who had gone straight upstairs. As they walked past her she handed them a colored, lidded cup and a clean towel. She couldn’t help but feel bad for them- they all looked dreadfully tired, especially Bruce who looked ready to just hit the pillow.
“What’s this?” Steve asked with a raised eyebrow as he looked at his blue bottle.
“It’s an after workout shake that is supposed to jumpstart your recovery. I know that’s not what you guys were doing but I thought it might…help.” the last word was almost inaudible as Holly looked at the two assassins who were looking at her like she was crazy. “If you don’t like it you don’t have to drink it. I just thought…Dinner is on the table. I called that Chinese place that was on the speed dial. Oh and Bruce-” the physicist looked up at her.
“There is a pot of hot water on the stove if you want tea. Jarvis said you usually make some after a mission.” With that Holly retreated to her room as fast as her feet could carry her. The group watched her go before exchanging looks amongst themselves and heading into the common area. They were greeted with the smells of their favorite Chinese dishes from the kitchen but each broke away to change into more comfortable clothes before settling at the table. They exchanged boxes back and forth in an almost continuous rustle of cardboard and while most of them were focused on their food, Steve kept looking over his shoulder at Holly’s closed door. Bruce looked up from his dinner and followed the good Captain’s gaze.
“Should we go get her?” Steve said turning back to the table.
“Hmm?” Bruce murmured.
“I mean, she did all this for us and this is delicious.” he said tapping his empty blue glass against the table. That had been the first thing the black hole of a man had finished. Bruce felt a small twinge of the guilt that Cap was expressing but the assassins rolled their eyes.
“If she wants to be by herself, let her be. No one asked her to leave.” Natasha said and Clint kept his eyes on his food. She had a point too. As Steve was about to rise from his chair Holly walked out of her room with headphones and a laundry basket on her hip. She moved past the group without a passing glance and went about folding laundry in the laundry room and hanging things up.
“See. She’s much too preoccupied with her job to join us.” Nat continued taking another bite of food.
“Leave her be Cap.” Bruce said reassuringly. “She’ll come around.”
It was about 3 p.m. the next day when Bruce finally managed to pull himself from his slumber and crawl out of bed. He had been so exhausted the night before after the fight that he had collapsed onto the bed after eating dinner and passed out as soon as he hit the blankets. He walked out to his kitchen in his tattered pants from the day before and looked into his fridge. It had just been restocked but nothing in there caught his fancy so he closed the fridge with a huff. He rubbed his eyes and ran a hand through his scruffy hair as be looked around his suite. His eyes stopped on the door. Maybe there was something in the fridge out there that would appeal to him more.
Bruce was surprised to find the common area quiet and empty. Usually at least one person was moving about or making noise but the room was pleasantly serene. Bruce padded quietly into the kitchen and was amazed to see a bowl of fresh fruit on the table. He was greeted by even more fruit when he opened the fridge along with some plain yogurt and an assortment of vegetables. He grabbed a thing of grapes and set a kettle of water on the stove so he could make some tea. As soon as it whistled he poured some of the hot water over the tea bag in his cup and replaced it on the stove top. He smiled to himself as he lifted the cup to his lips. Nothing like tea after a post-transformation pass out.
“Dr. Banner?” Bruce spun so fast that he lost his grip on his tea cup and it smashed against the tile floor sending china pieces in all directions. Holly stood a couple of feet from him in black yoga pants and a violet muscle shirt looking guilty as she stared at where the cup had just broken. As she looked up at Bruce, she could swear that his eyes flashed green just before he pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Are you okay?” Holly asked.
“I’m fine” Bruce lied. “Where is everyone?”
“ Natasha and Clint left this morning to report to Fury about yesterday’s mission, Steve is in the gym, and Tony is in the lab…at least that was what Pepper said. I’m not allowed up there as part of Tony’s campaign to get me fired.” Holly chuckled a little to herself. She grabbed a broom and swept the obliterated cup into a little pile before grabbing another cup from him and pouring Bruce another cup. As she handed it to him she deposited the broken pieces into the trash.
“What are you doing?” Bruce asked.
“Just watching the news.” Holly shrugged, inclining her head to the TV set behind her that was muted because of the commercials. “Did you want to join me?”
“I don’t know. I think I might get showered and head up to my lab.” Bruce said taking a drink of his tea.
“Oh…well.” Holly started, a touch of disappointment in her voice. It was another one of those things that made Bruce’s guilt bubble up in his throat. “I hope you have a good day then.”
Holly sighed and turned back towards the living space where the couch was. She climbed onto the suede surface and nuzzled into the pillows to get comfortable. She unmuted the appliance as soon as the commercials were over but that in itself had given Bruce far too long to think to himself. Holly seemed innocent enough and, from what he gathered from other people, she was pretty talkative and extremely understanding. All she seemed to want was a friend in the house, someone to touch base with and bond with. Holly was surprised to see Bruce sit on the other side of the couch she was perching on and relax a little bit.
“I suppose I could stay for a while…if you don’t mind of course.” Bruce joked and Holly cracked a smile. Maybe they were getting somewhere finally.
"Oh my…god-" Bruce stammered. His heart raced in his chest as his hips moved of their own accord. His fingers dug sharply into the counter making dents from his superhuman strength but he ignored the ache in his joints and the way the counter was groaning. His head was swimming deep in a pleasure stricken haze. It was as if every nerve in his body was alive- like every synapse was firing at the same time- and the sensation was causing all of his muscles to tense. A deep moan escaped his lips as he felt the all too familiar ache begin to build between his thighs. One of his hands left his grip on the counter and tangle itself in her hair.
Tonight she looked like his dear Betty except that the colors of her eyes and hair fluctuated from different shades to entirely different colors than they should be. The shape of the eyes and fullness of the lips remained true to his former love. Those lips. Bruce groaned with desire as his peak came into view. His legs shook under her careful touch and her tongue only made the intensity of his moans deepen.
"S-s-stop…"Bruce hummed but she ignored him. His toes curled and he welcomed the sweet embrace of pleasure but it never came. Before he could even think, a massive green blur came into his vision and two giant hands ripped her away from him. All he could hear were her screams as he tried to chase after her.
Bruce jerked upright in his bed, the sound of screaming and his own voice reverberating in his head. His whole form shook and he was drenched in sweat that made the blankets stick to him. He covered his face with a single hand but it wasn’t enough to comfort him. It was just a dream Banner, he thought to himself as he swung his legs over the side of his bed and pushed himself towards his bathroom.
It had been a nice dream before the Hu- the Other Guy suddenly appeared. It was better than his usual nightmares at least. He had never invaded one of those dreams before though. Maybe because I said stop?, Bruce wondered. Maybe the Other Guy had felt threatened? But it was just a dream Bruce told himself. He knew the Other Guy was listening somewhere in the recesses of his mind and he could only hope that the thought would calm him somehow. When glowing green eyes greeted him in the mirror after he splashed water on his face Bruce knew he wasn’t going to be able to rest anymore. He would just have to try again tomorrow.
"What to do at 3:15 in the morning?" Bruce whispered aloud to himself as he sat back on the side of his bed. He sighed and let his head fall into his hands in the darkness
Holly stumbled a little as she exited the elevator with her arms full of groceries. Damn JARVIS and his bulk ordering! She rearranged a few bags on her arms so she could lean down and grab the detergent before the elevator left. She groaned a little but held her breath as she made her way slowly through the common area to the laundry room. Clint and Natasha were there watching news on a huge screen with a tense looking Captain America who was sitting on the edge of his seat. Holly’s exit from the laundry room was enough movement to cause Steve’s eyes to flick over to her momentarily but they quickly returned when he saw the load she was carrying.
"Ma’am." Steve started up from his chair and crossed the space between them in a few strides. The two assassins lounging on the couch followed Steve across the room with their eyes.
"I’m fine." Holly said not looking at him.
"Let me help you with that." Steve insisted moving to grab some of her burdens.
"I’m fine, really. Just go sit down." It was when he didn’t move that Holly retrieved a bag of chips and pressed them into his chest before his hands could reach her. A deafening silence hung between them as Holly turned her gaze on Steve.
"Captain…If you want to be of help to me go sit back down. This is my job. I can handle a few bags of groceries on my own." Holly couldn’t help but smile at the conflicted expression on Steve’s face as he moved the bag from one hand to the other. Rather than give him the chance to prove that chivalry was in fact not dead Holly walked away from him and set most of the bags down on the large dinner table that occupied the kitchen part of their common area. She held her hands up in defeat and carried a few bags away from the table to a door located three doors down from her own room. She knocked and cautiously entered when there was no answer.
Holly gave an exasperated sigh when the door shut behind her. Only a few days had passed since the eye incident and Steve and Pepper were the only people speaking to her. Clint and Natasha were suspicious of her to the point that Holly was pretty sure they were spying on her. Tony on the other hand wasn’t being outright mean to her but he wasn’t being pleasant either. If Holly was telling the complete truth, Tony was being unbearably obnoxious and doing everything in his power to try and cause another change in her. He hadn’t gotten her to quit or give in yet so he hadn’t won in her eyes; and it wasn’t like Steve and Pepper weren’t nice to talk to but Holly wished there was less choking tension whenever her door opened. It would make her job a hell of a lot easier. She could only hope that when Thor returned from wherever he was that she would make a better impression on him.
Holly set the bags on the table and cast a quick glance at her surroundings. The suite she was currently in had chocolate colored carpets that matched the shade of the dark wood in the kitchen and, while the walls were white, all the accents were either red or gold. Holly snorted as she wondered if the color scheme was intentional or a product of Tony’s big head. Given the scent of the incense that were burning she decided on the first.
"JARVIS?" Holly inquired.
"Yes?" the AI answered.
"Let me know if anyone is coming or needs me elsewhere. I don’t want to be in the way."
"Of course." and with that Holly was alone again. She put the produce into the fridge and rifled through the cabinets to find the destinations for the other products. She was amazed by the amount of green and white tea that she had to stack. ‘I didn’t think people could drink this much tea’ Holly though to herself. She was more of a coffee person herself.
The contents of the last bag led her out of the kitchen towards the back of the suite. She stopped before the closed door and swallowed hard. She felt like she was trespassing but it was part of her job to put things away. Her hand trembled slightly as she turned the knob and pushed the door open.
She found a dark room that was simply furnished and whose bed had been left in complete disarray. She crossed to the bathroom in a few hurried strides and opened the door to the bathroom. She was surprised to find that, after arranging the contents that belonged in the bathroom on the counter, there was something still in the bottom of the bag.
"What the….more tea?" Holly murmured to herself looking at the box incredulously. She let out a small chuckle as she headed towards the kitchen to put the stowaway in it’s rightful place. That was, until a cold voice made her stop dead in her tracks.
"Who are you?" she stopped so abruptly she almost dropped the box in her hands. She looked at the man who stood just outside the kitchen. He was slightly taller than she was with short, brown hair that had a splash of salt at his temples. His eyes were a piercing dark brown that were glued to her form and his hands were balled into fists at his sides. Holly swallowed at a loss for words and simply held up the box for him to see. He raised an eyebrow at her but his demeanor didn’t change.
"Tea?" Holly squeaked.
"I was putting away the groceries and I missed a box of tea. I’m just gonna-" Holly moved slowly and put the single box in the cabinet before turning back to him and gripping the counter behind her.
"Who are you?" he spoke again.
"Holly. Holly Baxter. I was hired by Pepper Potts through S.H.I.E.L.D. to be an assistant to the Avengers."
"I have all the paperwork if you want to see it." she said her voice low, gesturing towards the door.
"It’s not that. It’s just…an assistant? For all of us?" the man took the few steps into the kitchen and leaned against the counter across from her.
"So far I’m just a glorified housekeeper. Put away the groceries. Cook dinner. Keep everything clean."
"I thought JARVIS ordered the groceries?"
"He does but he can’t put them away." Holly said matter-of-factly, forgetting that a moment ago she had been ready to flee. The man nodded at her and looked away, trying to hide the small smile that pulled at his lips.
"And that’s why you are in my room?"
"The only reason?" he prodded. Holly nodded and swallowed.
"If it makes you feel any better, JARVIS was supposed to let me know when you were on your way here so I could be gone before you got back."
"That sounds a little shady."
"I just don’t want to be in the way…and this is kind of an awkward way to meet. I would have rather met you out there… in ‘public’." she smiled, gesturing with air quotes. He crossed his arms over his chest and nodded at her gesture.
"I have other groceries to put away so I’m going to leave now." she said, pushing off the counter. She walked past him but stopped at the door.
"Excuse me?" he didn’t look at her but he turned his head in her direction. "You are Dr. Banner, right?"
"Yes." Bruce said evenly.
"I just wanted to be sure. I’ll see you later Dr. Banner." With that, Holly was gone.
Bruce stayed in the kitchen long after Holly had left. Her scent lingered in the space around him and the smell of cashmere filled his lungs. She didn’t know who he was. Was that even possible? With all the media that New York had gotten, practically everyone knew who he was or could at least put the name to the face. She sounded like she legitimately wasn’t sure of his identity. Bruce covered his face with his hands before the paranoid side of him took over. He swept over everything looking for something out of place. He asked JARVIS about what had happened while Holly had been there but just as she said, all she had done was distribute his groceries and toiletries.
Bruce nervously fidgeted with his hands as he normally did and retreated to his bedroom until he was summoned by JARVIS for a mission. He was thankful for the distraction as he walked out of his bedroom and caught a glance of Holly moving around the common area. She seemed innocent enough but he had learned through experience that even the pretty ones could bite.
As the Avengers minus Tony met up in the Quinjet, Bruce looked around at his fellow Avengers.
"So…" he started getting their attention. "we have an assistant?"
'Well this is going perfectly' Holly told herself as she tried to adjust herself so her shoulders wouldn't hurt. She had been in her room reading a file that Pepper had given her about the New York incident with the Tesseract and she was stuck on the way it had affected Clint and Selvig. Somehow Loki had been able to take complete control of their minds by touching his spear to their chests. Their eyes were just so blue while under it's control. She couldn't tear her eyes away from the pictures of Clint's eyes and she probably should have noticed the change. But she hadn't, and she had walked out of her room and straight into Natasha.
"Hi. You must be Natasha Romanov. I’m-" Natasha punched her so swiftly in the jaw that she didn’t have time to react. Before Holly could respond she was bound to a chair with her hands behind her back and Natasha had summoned Clint and Tony.
"What’s going on? Who is she?" Tony asked as they rushed into the room his eyebrow raising at the sight of Holly on the chair.
"Her eyes…" Clint’s voice sounded tortured and Natasha touched his shoulder.
"What?" Holly looked around and saw her reflection in the TV screen. Her eyes were the same glowing, cyan that Clint’s had been and shut her eyes tight. ‘Shit…Shit…Shit…’ she screamed at herself mentally. She hadn’t been here but a couple of hours and she was already in trouble.
"JARVIS! A little help please!" Holly cried out, fighting against her bonds.
"Right away ma’am." The AI spoke overhead.
"JARVIS! Ignore that!" Tony growled and turned back to Clint and Natasha. "Loki?" he inquired.
"There’s no way. How would he get away from Thor?" Natasha said, gesturing with her hands but her eyes never breaking away from her partner. Holly stared at Clint as her eyes changed back to their normal darker blue and saw his breath catch in his chest.
"Please let me explain myself. It’s not what you think!"
"Your eyes?" Clint stammered.
"JARVIS! Call Pepper and get her down here!" Holly shrieked.
"IGNORE THAT!" Tony bellowed at her, stalking towards her.
"JARVIS!" Holly cried.
"What is going on here!?" Pepper yelled as the elevator door opened. ‘Oh thank god…’ Holly thought as her head sank onto her shoulders. Pepper crossed the space to where she was bound in a matter of moments but she was stopped by Tony a few feet away.
"What are you guys doing to her!?" Pepper shrieked.
"Who is she?" Tony asked, confused by Pepper’s sense of urgency.
"What does it matter?" she snapped back at Tony. She tried to push past him but he held her back yet again.
"It matters." Tony said with a dark undertone to his voice.
"Her eyes were the same color as the people who were influenced by Loki a couple of months ago." Natasha said curtly.
"No they aren’t. Look her eyes are no where near that shade of blue!" Pepper said matter-of-factly.
"But they were." Hawkeye piped. Pepper sighed exasperatedly.
"She’s been hired by S.H.I.E.L.D-"
"Throw her out!" Tony let slip but Pepper ignored him.
"She’s here to help accommodate your needs. Though JARVIS can order you anything you want and have it delivered he can’t be there physically to do things that a real person can. She has been hired by me personally to give her more freedoms and protection should she need it." When the three Avengers didn’t appear to be convinced by her explanation Pepper sighed again. "Director Fury has provided an extensive background check and personnel file. Agent Coulson, may he rest in peace, was doing surveillance on her before what happened a few months ago. All of his notes say that she is harmless from what he saw. If Coulson was ready to trust this girl without even knowing her, you should all give her a chance too."
Silence filled the area where they stood as they all felt the pain of losing Coulson at the mention of his name. It was a low blow, that was true, but Pepper had made her point. Coulson was the one person that was the common denominator to all of their stories so if he had been okay with her she must be okay. Right?
"That still doesn’t explain the eyes." Clint broke the silence.
"No it doesn’t." Tony added.
"If you’ll let me go, I’ll explain everything in due time." Holly spoke softly.
"And if we want an explanation now?" Tony growled.
"All I will tell you is that I have some unique qualities." Her arms fell to her sides as, to everyone’s surprise, Clint released her from her binds. She moved her shoulders and smiled at Clint but he did not return her kindness. She held her hand out to him and it took him a moment to realize what she was doing. He cautiously mimicked her gesture and Holly shook his hand with a gentle grasp.
"I was brought into this place with no knowledge of you so that I wouldn’t form an opinion of you before I came to know you. Seeing as you don’t know me at all, I would appreciate the same courtesy of getting to know me before you learn things that will make you doubt my intentions." Holly looked at each of them in turn. Pepper’s eyebrows raised slightly at the tone of her voice. It was different than the bubbly, nervous girl she had met in the elevator.
"I am at your disposal. I will be staying in that room right over there and if you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m not a threat and I hope you will come see me at some point." Holly said. She turned to Pepper then.
"I am so sorry about this. I hope you won’t try and have me revoked over this." With that Holly retreated back to her room thoroughly embarrassed. Four pairs of eyes watched her until the door shut- then they looked at each other.
"Can we get a copy of that file?" Tony asked his girlfriend.
"No. They can." she said gesturing at the assassins.
"I’ll get that from you later." Natasha replied and walked back to the den where she and Hawkeye had been lounging. He was still visibly shaken and it worried the red headed woman. She pulled him down onto the couch with her and he cuddled up to her chest. Natasha put her arms around him and held him until he drifted off into an afternoon nap.
"Were you going to tell me about her?" Tony asked as he got into the elevator with Pepper. She rolled her eyes at him. He was pouting like a child and she really wasn’t sure why she put up with him sometimes.
"Tony I haven’t seen you since she got here to tell you about her. You’ve been in the lab all day." she sneered back at him.
"So this is my fault?" Tony asked.
"Stop making this about you Tony." Pepper said with heat in her voice. "Just give the girl a chance. If she’s as good in real life as on paper things are going to be a hell of a lot easier on everyone." Pepper moved to exit the elevator on their floor and Tony blocked her just as he had a few minutes before.
"And if she isn’t? If there is some dark secret that Fury missed somehow?" He didn’t mean to be mean but it was a reality they had to consider.
"Then we’ll deal with that as it comes." she spoke curtly and kissed Tony to get him to relax.
Holly Baxter stood on the sidewalk outside of Stark Tower and stared up at the building silently. The sheer size of the building was enough to make her feel tiny but the added fact that her charges were some of the strongest heroes the world had ever known- yeah she felt inadequate. ‘I really should have taken the Director up on his offer to give me the tour’ Holly thought as she checked her watch. It was now or never.
To her surprise Pepper Potts was waiting for her in the lobby. The blonde woman smiled at her and shook her hand lightly. Holly couldn’t help but smile at her female boss- she had been so nervous at all of her briefings with Fury she hadn’t cracked a smile until she was well away from S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.
"Miss Potts." Holly spoke as she shook the woman’s hand. "It’s so nice to finally meet you in person."
"Holly Baxter. Don’t be so nervous, I don’t bite." Pepper smiled devilishly. ‘That’s not what I’ve heard’ Holly swallowed. Pepper instantly led them down a huge hallway towards the elevator and didn’t speak again until the door was closed. She turned to her new employee then and handed her the folder she had been holding.
"Here is your cardkey, all of the access codes and clearances you will need along with a layout of the tower. As of right now you are cleared for every area except for personnel suites which is understandable." Holly skimmed the paperwork that Pepper had handed her before meeting her eyes.
"Where will I be staying? I didn’t see a room marked for me."
"No worries. I set up a room for you on the ‘family floor’ which is the first floor under the top R&D labs. I call it the family floor because that just happens to be where we stuck all of them" Pepper chuckled. She grew a little more serious when she mentioned them. "What were you told exactly?" Pepper inquired.
"Nothing." It was Holly’s turn to hand Pepper a folder. "I wasn’t given any background information on them so that I can go into this job with a clear mind. All I was given was a picture, a name, and a few small pieces of information."
"What exactly is your assignment from S.H.I.E.L.D.?" Pepper asked looking over Holly’s personnel file and realizing she hadn’t been given an official title or job explanation.
"To be honest, I don’t know why Fury wanted me here so bad. I was told that I’m here to help you and the Avenger’s out. I’m supposed to be a tool to help keep the peace."
"Isn’t it hard to do that with no background information on who you are going to be living with?"
"My thoughts exactly." Holly sighed.
"I’m sure JARVIS will be more than willing to help you out." Pepper squeezed her shoulder reassuringly. They were almost at the "family floor" and Holly felt her stomach turn.
"Just curious…what were you told about Tony?" Pepper asked.
"Mr. Stark? Not much: Iron Man, Doesn’t play well with others, off limits." Holly giggled.
"It really said he was off limits?" Pepper asked. Holly nodded.
"Not like I needed them to tell me that though. I’ve seen you and Mr. Stark on the television before- there is a lot of chemistry there. I wouldn’t try and damage that. Besides, Fury told me that you needed a babysitter." her comment made them both laugh until the elevator chimed that they had reached their destination.
"Don’t worry. You will be fine. Here is your Stark Phone. If you need anything just ask JARVIS to patch you through to me, okay? They aren’t a very trusting bunch at first so don’t take it to heart."
"I won’t. Thank you Miss Potts for everything." The CEO smiled at the girl as she walked out of the elevator. She could tell in her stride that the girl with the light brown hair was trying to locate her room as fast as possible.
As Pepper headed up to her flat, she glanced at Holly’s file. It was as if Fury had gone and plucked her from under a rock and asked her to care for some of the most dysfunctional people that existed. They had extensively researched her- making sure she didn’t have any relatives in the military aside from her sister’s who also worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. it appeared. Then to not give her any information about the Avengers was a real gamble. But they wanted an “outsider’s perspective” or at least that was what the file said. Pepper sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. Pepper could do nothing but hope that Holly was still in peace when she saw her again.
Fandom: AvengersRating: Mature for later Chapters
Pairing(s): Bruce Banner/OC (MAIN), Steve Rogers/OC, Loki/OC
Plot: Bruce and the other Avengers have been living at Stark Tower since New York, and though things haven’t exactly been normal the hiring of a new assistant with some interesting abilities stirs the group up. Though Fury promises Holly is nothing more than a tool to make life easier, the Avengers are none too trusting to this seemingly innocent girl. Having no knowledge about her new friends other than their names, can a budding relationship with Bruce survive her discovery of the other guy, the appearance of her sisters Harley and Helena, and a dark past come back to haunt her?
A/N: Using some concepts that might be found in other areas of the Marvel Universe, not just Avengers. Also, this fic focuses on Bruce x Holly but there will be other romance present.