Title: Something Like Home
Author: marcicat

Fandom: Avengers MCU, Amazing Spiderman, Ms Marvel
Characters: Flash Thompson, Darcy Lewis, JARVIS, Kamala Khan, Lockjaw, Ava Ayala

Tags: found family, Valentines Day
Word Count: 1900

Summary: A Valentines Day free from hearts and flowers, but still full of family.



”Hey, Flash. You busy?”

He jerked upright guiltily at the words, but Darcy wasn't actually there. (Technically the intercom ports were somewhere in the walls, but most people either looked at the ceilings or the vents, just to have something to focus on.)

"No," he said automatically. Then he looked at the desk, and the file sitting open in front of him, and winced. "Not exactly." He'd been putting it off this long, after all.

”Excellent. We're in the 'someone has to stay and make sure nothing goes wrong' stage, and I'm super bored.”

He leaned back in his chair. “You got the short straw, huh?"

”I voted for straws, actually, but Jane decided we should go with turn-taking. So, it's my turn. She and Gwen are off doing something fun and science-y, probably. Or -- what time is it? Sleeping, maybe. Why are you awake?”

"I was doing paperwork," he said, which was sort of true. He'd been doing paperwork before he fell asleep, at least. It was a good excuse, though -- common enough that it was rarely questioned, dull enough that it was unlikely to attract offers of help.

”Also boring,” Darcy said. ”So, spill -- what are you and your merry band doing for Valentines Day? Inquiring minds want to know. Mostly just I want to know, actually.”

He shrugged, even though he didn't think there were any cameras in the room. "Holidays are kind of complicated, right now. We're celebrating the weekend after instead -- classic dinner and a movie, barring science or superhero emergencies."

”Uh-huh. Sounds fun. What's the complicated part?” Darcy said.

(He really should have known she wouldn't let that go.) "Yeah. Well, Pete wants to make sure his aunt isn't alone, and Mrs. Stacy is doing a whole family day thing. But Captain Stacy was pretty against Peter and Gwen being together in the first place, and it's not like I'm going to be anyone's first choice for taking home to meet the parents. And there's three of us. So -- complicated."

”Oh, come on, Flash. You're practically respectable now. You've got a job with decent pay and actual benefits, plus you've met a bunch of famous people. If you overlook the fact that you're living at the office, you're not a bad prospect.”

He rolled his eyes. "Thanks, I think." (He thought about denying that he was living out of the small room he'd claimed as his own, but Darcy had run into him too many times before his first cup of coffee.) "And I told you, it's temporary; the living here thing. I'm working on it."

”I still don't understand why you don't just take an apartment in the Tower. I know Pepper offered you one as a signing bonus.”

He was pretty sure that had been a joke, actually. Eighty percent sure.

"Because not everyone wants to live in the biggest target in the city?" Darcy stayed silent, and he sighed. "Okay, and because I don't want the kids to feel like they have to be junior Avengers. Besides, the idea of a community network is that you live in the community, not that you gather everyone in one spot."

”Plus, Gwen's mom might kill you if she found out you were living in the same building.”

He winced. There was that, too.

”Anyway, if you're free for the holiday, you're welcome to show up at the Tower. Movies and snacks in the Team Science lounge; the invite's going out to the mailing list tomorrow, but I thought I'd give you a heads up.”

"And also you were bored?" he asked.

”Yup. So many paper airplanes, you have no idea.”

***

When the weekend rolled around, he considered not going. A Saturday with no plans was a rare thing, full of potential. Potentially full of sleeping. (On the other hand -- free food.)

He put the question aside when he heard someone in the hallway, whispering loudly. "Well, what now? Don't give me that look; there's obviously no one here!"

"JARVIS?" he said quietly.

”Kamala Khan and Lockjaw have teleported into the building,” JARVIS answered calmly, as if it were an everyday occurrence.

"Who?" Flash said. But he opened the door anyway, and stepped into the hall.

The dog, at least, he recognized. Mostly from shaky cell phone videos, but still. Which meant the girl next to the dog was probably -- "Ms. Marvel," he said. "Hey." They had never officially (or even unofficially) met, so it seemed weird to use her real name, even though she wasn't in uniform or anything.

She looked nervous. "Hi," she said. She had one hand still firmly on the dog. She didn't say anything else. Flash wasn't very familiar with dog expressions, but this one looked like it was leaning more towards 'I love everyone' than 'about to attack.' He didn't make any move towards them, just in case.

"Can I help you?" he asked.

"Maybe? Do you know Darcy Lewis?"

He nodded. "You looking for her?"

"I'm on the mailing list," Kamala said. "I was invited?"

That -- sort of explained things. But not really. Like what she was doing at the Foundation. "For movie day? It's at the Tower." He was sure that had been in the invitation.

"I know. I wasn't really sure about just --" She waved a hand at the dog, for some reason. "Showing up there. So Darcy said I could come here first and have someone called Flash go with me?"

Oh, that was sneaky. He was sort of impressed that Darcy had found a way to make sure he showed up. "Right," he said. “That’s me. Hi. Give me a minute to get my stuff together and we can head over. JARVIS said you teleport?"

"Lockjaw teleports," she corrected him. "I go with him."

He blinked. Okay. Teleporting dog, that was new. "Can he take two, or did you want to walk? There's a secret passage; it's cool." He tossed a few things in his backpack, and belatedly wondered if he was supposed to bring something, if it would be obvious that he'd showed up empty-handed. "JARVIS?" he asked.

”The invitation clearly states you are not required to bring anything except yourself,” JARVIS answered, and Flash shrugged. That was good enough for him.

He turned back to Kamala, who said, "Um -- secret passage?"

"Sounds good. JARVIS, can we see a map, please?"

JARVIS projected a basic route on the wall in front of them, not much more than "you are here and the Tower is here," but hopefully enough that it wouldn't feel quite so much like a complete stranger was leading her into unknown territory.

"Thanks," he said, and Kamala poked at the map.

"Thank you," she said, and then added, "Both of you,” in a slightly questioning tone.

”You are most welcome, Miss Kahn,” JARVIS said.

***

He was asleep before the end of the first movie. (He made it through a high-five from Darcy and a hug from Ava, plus three slices of what they assured him was some kind of breakfast pie first, but eventually the combination of food and warmth and the background noise of the television had his eyes slipping shut.)

"Flash, wake up for a minute. We need your list."

He pulled the pillow off his head and squinted against the light. “What?”

“Your list,” Ava repeated. “It’s getting colder; we’re going to run the wellness checks.”

He sat up, or tried to, and realized that Lockjaw was sleeping on his legs. “I can do mine,” he said, wondering even as he said it how he was going to move the dog.

Ava shook her head. “You should stay and sleep. Kamala and I are doing yours.” Kamala waved.

“I thought you were studying,” Flash said, still not completely awake. Then he frowned. “Who’s doing your list?” They all had people and places they checked in on when the weather was bad, or after a particularly nasty supervillain fight. Ava’s wasn’t the longest, but it was the most spread out.

“Study break — Darcy offered to proof my draft. And James.” He must have looked confused, because she added, “Is running my checks, not reading my paper.”

He tried to imagine the Winter Soldier checking in on cranky old ladies and bakeries. It wasn’t — completely impossible to picture. “Huh,” he said.

“Lockjaw is staying too,” Kamala offered. “He doesn’t like the cold.”

Lockjaw tucked his nose between Flash and the sofa and very deliberately closed his eyes. “Right,” Flash said. Ava was still looking at him, and he realized she was waiting for his list. “Right,” he said again. “Okay, it’s on my phone, hang on.”

He figured after all that, he’d probably be wide awake. Instead, he was asleep again before he knew it, and only woke up when everyone trooped back into the room and Lockjaw leaped off the sofa greet them. He yawned. So far, this was turning out a lot like his original plan for the day, just with more company.

“Flash!” Ava said, throwing herself onto the sofa in Lockjaw’s recently vacated spot. “Here’s your phone, everyone says hi, Taina and her mom are baking you cookies, so you should stop by and get some next time you’re over there.”

Then she was off to check in with Darcy, and Kamala sat down, much more quietly.

"Having a good day?" he asked.  

She nodded.  "It's not what I expected.  I mean, I knew about them, obviously, before I was --" She waved a hand in a gesture he assumed meant 'all heroed up.'  "And I sort of know people, from the mailing list.  But it's different meeting you all in person."

That, he could definitely relate to.  He still had the urge to ask for an autograph any time Pepper Potts talked to him.  It looked like she was waiting for him to say something, though, so he offered, "I'm not sure you ever really get used to it, but you sort of -- get used to being surprised?  If that makes sense."

Kamala shrugged, and tugged gently on Lockjaw's ears.  "I'm still at the point where it's just nice that it's a good surprise, and not, you know -- yelling, and secrets, and recriminations."

"Yeah," he said, even though it wasn't exactly something he'd had to deal with.  She should maybe talk with Sharon and Virgil; they'd certainly been there, done that.  A couple times, actually.

"Anyway, I wanted to tell you I was heading home.  I told my parents I'd be back soon."

"It was nice to meet you," Flash offered.  "Ava probably said this already, but anything you need -- let us know.  That's what we're here for, to help each other."

Lockjaw put his head on her knee, and she cleared her throat.  "About that.  I mean, I don’t need it, but I kind of — for my scrapbook. Could we get a picture?"

(Later, Darcy would tease him for taking so long to figure out that she wanted him to be in it and wasn’t asking him to take it; that she actually thought of him as part of the group. “See? Practically respectable,” she would say. “In the family photos and everything.” And he would laugh, but he also tacked a copy of the picture up on the wall, where he could see it any time he wanted.)

.

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