The day after their fight against Killian, the occupants of the tower had gathered for a brunch in the penthouse.
Tony and Bruce were off to the lab, mumbling about some time sensitive experiment. Rhodey had to make a detour to DC, to settle the ruffled feathers on Legionnaires matter. But he promised to be back by dinner. Pepper had decided to take a day off and just relax. Although after yesterday's events, no one was going to blame her for taking a week off. Gianna and Ellen were free as well. So they decided to watch a movie and then bake a lot of cookies.
They had just taken out the last batch from the oven, when a voice came from the doorway.
"Are those cookies I smell?" Darcy asked while entering the kitchen. Gianna's face lit up seeing her. "Surprise!" Darcy exclaimed while opening her arms wide open. "Oh my God! Darcy!" Gianna tackled Darcy in a hug. "What, we don't get any hugs?" Jane joked, she was standing behind Darcy with Selvig. "Of course not." She said pulling away from Darcy, and hugging the two of them. Pepper and Ellen also greeted the three of them.
"Come on in. We just finished baking all of these. We were going to have a suit deliver some to you guys." Pepper exclaimed, forwarding a bowl of mint chocolate chip cookies to Darcy, and a bowl of oatmeal raisin cookies to Jane. Both of them thanked Pepper and took the bowls. "Don't this old man get some cookies?" Erik asked jokingly. "Of course not! Here are your peanut butter cookies." Ellen handed Erik his bowl of cookies.
"You three have been busy." Darcy said while stuffing her face with cookies. "Well, we took a day off." Pepper replied. "What about you guys?" She asked.
"We saw the attack on Malibu mansion on TV. Tried to call you guys, but no one picked up. So, we got worried and headed down to New York. We were like seven hours away from the city, when we learned that Mandarin was arrested. But there wasn't anything about you guys, so we came to check on you all." Erik said. The guy had dark circles around his eyes, and he was slurring his words as well.
"How about you guys fresh up and take some rest. I'll have JARVIS wake you up in time for dinner." Pepper suggested while pointedly looking at the two women and signaling towards Erik. Getting the message, both Darcy and Jane agreed, and dragged away Selvig to take some rest.
After they left, Gianna let out a sigh of relief and said, "Did you guys see Erik?" She asked the others. "Yeah. The guy looked like death warmed over him." Ellen said munching on his own cookie. "Maybe he's just tired from traveling." Pepper suggested.
"I'm not sure. In the movie, they showed him to have gone a little crazy. The guy needs therapy." Gianna said. "Don't we all?" Pepper snorted, and then let out a sigh, "Let's suggest it to Darcy and Jane. They might have better luck with convincing him." The other two nodded in agreement.
"JARVIS, inform the others of their arrival." Pepper said, and took her own bowl of cookies. "Anyone up for a second movie?" She asked while walking out the kitchen.
At night Rhodey returned, and all of them had dinner. They had decided to just order in some Italian from Bamonte's. It was a fun dinner with lots of banter between all of them. Then they had queued up another Christmas movie and fallen asleep in the home theater.
The next four days passed in experiments for the scientists, some shopping and preparations for the New Year Ball for Darcy, Pepper, Ellen and Gianna, with some office work for Pepper, Ellen and Tony.
Now, it was time for the Ball. Pepper, Tony and Ellen had to leave early to make sure everything was in order. Rhodey and Bruce were going to escort Gianna, Jane and Darcy to the Ball. Selvig had already left the day before saying about meeting up with old friends. The ball had been a lot of fun with lots of dancing, drinking and stuffing their faces with food very primly. Tony had given a nice speech about doi some good for upcoming generations, announcing a few new lines in which SI was expanding, and hinted towards a new prosthetic division opening in a year or so. Overall it was a great night.
Then came the day when Jane and Darcy were going to leave. "I'll miss you guys, and the nice food." Darcy had said while clinging to Gianna. "We'll miss you too." Gianna had replied, also hugging Darcy as tightly. "I have a surprise gift for you guys. Consider it a Christmas bonus." Tony had said while handing them three key cards. "These are access cards to SI housing facilities. In case you need to stay for a while in some other State or Country. It'll work." Darcy had literally jumped on him after that. Before leaving, they had also assured them that they'll convince Selvig to get some help. With some more tear sheds, the two were off to New Mexico.
"So, what's next on our agenda?" Tony asked turning around to the others.
"Well, next main event is about Thor, and that's in October, 2013." Gianna replied. "Okay, that's good. I was actually thinking about removing this." Tony said tapping the reactor. "You did do it last time." Gianna commented. "You don't sound very happy." Bruce pointed out.
"It's not that I'm unhappy. But the thing is, that reactor protected him from the mind stone. And in the end, he did put it back as a nanoparticles housing unit." She finished for them.
"A nanotech suit?" Tony asked thoughtfully. Then he suddenly hugged her and pulled back, "You have given me just the project to work on. See you guys later." And he was off to the lab telling JARVIS to fire up the engines. "What just happened?" Ellen asked. "You just gave him an idea to hole himself in the lab for weeks." Pepper replied with an exhausted sigh. Bruce patted her shoulder and left for his lab, muttering about needing to do some work.
"Hey Pepper. I have a suggestion for you. There's this scientist in Seoul, Helen Cho. She is a geneticist. She and her team developed a way to regenerate skin tissues. Because of the whole fiasco with Ultron, she kinda backed out. But she was one of the doctors Tony trusted. Oh and Doctor Wu. He's the one who performed Tony's surgery when he decided to remove the reactor. He's an expert in Chinese and Western Medicine, and a Cardiologist. So, if you could look into them?" She completed hesitantly. "Sorry, I just went off."
"Don't worry. I'll look into them, and suggest Tony and Bruce to go through their papers as well." Pepper replied. "Now, I have a meeting in 20 minutes. So, I'll leave. You two do what your plans are for today." She said and left.
The two of them saw her leave. "Let's go to Kamar-Taj then. We can do something there." Gianna sighed. "Yeah. Back to work." Ellen sighed out.
"Hey, Pepper. What's up?" Ellen asked her. "Tony's called for a meeting for everyone." Pepper replied from the other end of phone. "Do you know what it is about?" He asked. "I don't know. But he seemed excited and nervous sort of." She said. "Alright, we'll be there in two hours. Gianna's kinda in training right now." Ellen replied looking over at the group training. Then he hung up.
After two hours when Gianna's training ended, they informed the Ancient One about it. "I have also been asked to join you. Mister Stark called and asked me to consult him on the matter." That confused them more. Ellen then portaled to the tower. He had discovered his ability of Wormhole Creation. By now most of their abilities had been discovered, and they had to take a full time residence at Kamar-Taj to learn all of them.
Once they entered the penthouse, JARVIS then directed them to the training area. He saw Pepper, Happy, Rhodey and Bruce were already there along with Tony.
"So, now that everyone is here, we're going to start the show." And then he opened a box, took out something and put in on his chest. When they got a good look at it, they realized what it was. He then double tapped the new reactor on his chest, and a metalic liquid started to flow out of it, which covered his entire body and turned into the familiar red and gold suit.
"Oh my God! You did it!" Gianna exclaimed loudly. Ellen also let out a whoop and cheered him on. The rest of the others were looking at Tony in bewilderment. Then Rhodey was the first one to recover from the shock. "That was awesome! Creepy but awesome!" He said hugging the suit. "It is quite impressive." The Ancient One commented looking it over.
"I was wondering if you could help me with the magical aspect of things? If ever I crossed paths with a magic user, I want to be prepared." He asked her sincerely. Tony had come to respect the woman in the past year.
"I'll see what I can do to help. There might be a spell protect you from magical attacks and deflect any curses directed at you." Ancient One replied, Tony beamed at her. "Now for the squishy science, Brucie bear, I'll need your help. I want to regrow my sternum and parts of the lungs that Yinsen had to remove. And for that I am thinking about using Extremis. A watered down version kind of thing." He completed hesitantly. "Of course I'll help." Bruce exclaimed, and Tony let out a sigh of relief. He turned towards Pepper and Rhodey dreading if they would agree or not.
"Tones, quit that kicked puppy look. We knew that you were going to remove the reactor, when you suggested it all those months ago. And we know that it would have been some variation of Extremis." Rhodey said exasperatedly.
Pepper caressed his face and said softly, "Tony, you're going to remove sharpnels from your chest. Am I going to worry? Of course I'm. You're the man I love. Of course I'm going to worry. But I know how important it is to you. It was something that was done against your will, but you turned it into something better." Tony just leaned his head on hers.
"Guys, we're still here." Ellen whined. Tony and Pepper just laughed and separated from each other.
"Alright then. The second announcement of the day. Kiddos, introduce yourselves." He clapped his hands together and stepped back towards them. Three different projections similar to JARVIS's data matrix, but in smaller size appeared in the room.
"Hello, I am FRIDAY. I am created by Doctor Anthony Edward Stark to assist Miss Virginia Potts in the administration of Stark Industries, and to assist in piloting the Iron Man armor or Rescue armor. In addition to that I'll also be piloting the Iron Legion used by Doctor Stark along with JARVIS." Said the rose gold colored data matrix. She had an Irish lilt to her voice.
"Greetings, I'm TADASHI. I'm also created by Doctor Stark, and I will be integrated in Kamar-Taj and the three sanctums. I'll be assisting the Masters and students there with their day to day activities, and their management." TADASHI was the matrix colored green, a shade similar to that of the Time Stone. He had a Japanese accent.
"Hello, I'm JOCASTA. I will be assisting Colonel Rhodes with the operation of War Machine armor and pilot the Iron Legion under his command. I will also monitor the outer space for suspicious activities, and activate the Warrior Legionnaires in case of an invasion of grander scale. I will also be integrated into the Upstate Compound after it is built." She was a data matrix of glowing silver color with a southern accent.
"So, what do you guys think? I mean I should have asked you guys before, especially you." Tony said while pointing at Ancient One, and continued speaking, "Because it's your domain, and it's your decision to make any changes to it. But I got excited and started planning. And I trust you with him, you're a good leader and teacher, and I know that you will treat him right." The Ancient One raised her hand, indicating him to stop.
"I'm honored to be considered worthy to care for one of your children. And I accept your offer, it'll be helpful to have him with us. I'll make sure that everyone treats him with utmost respect and love. Do not worry." She told him amusedly, yet with sincerity. Tony gaped for a few seconds, opening and closing his mouth, and then just sighed.
"Thank you. I've also uploaded the books you had lent me to read about magic on his servers. Maybe in future, he may be able to help you detect any magical threat or misuse if he could learn more about it." He said hesitantly. The Ancient One nodded, "I'll see to it."
"So, JOCASTA, huh?" He turned around to look at his best friend standing with his arms folded across his chest, and an eyebrow raised in interrogation. Tony smiled shippishly at him. "Yeah, she is encoded to assist you. In the chain of command, you'll be the first one she'll listen to, then me, JARVIS, Pepper and Fri. She'll be piloting the Iron Legion that works with you, but in case we fight together, she and Friday will coordinate with each other."
"I like her. And as she said." Rhodey said nodding in the direction of Ancient One, "It's an honour to be trusted with one of your kiddos. And she'll be safe and loved."
Then he turned towards Pepper, wait. Where's Pepper and Bruce? And the wonder twins? He looked around and found them huddled around the four data matrices. He went to them and cleared his throat, "What are you doing?" He asked tapping his foot.
"We're introducing ourselves. Duh." Gianna replied. "Tony she's beautiful and lovely." Pepper said smiling. "So, you like her?" He asked her. "We'll get along just fine." She replied mischievously. "I don't like that smile Potts. Don't. Whatever you are thinking, just don't." In response, she just smiled more widely.