Living with the Avengers

Chapter Thirty-Seven

The next week passed by slower than normal for Carter. As the day she would be leaving the Kings came closer, the more excited she got.

So, when she came back from school Friday afternoon, she set to work making sure she had everything packed before Ms. Wright came to pick her up.

She sat on her bed packing her duffle bag.

There was a knock on her door.

"Come in." Carter called.

Tanya opened the door, "Somebody looks excited to be going home."

Carter chuckled sheepishly. "I guess I didn't know how much I miss it back at Stark Tower."

"Well, only a little while longer and you'll be back where you belong." Tanya smiled.

"Yeah." Carter smiled brightly.

"Ms. Wright will be here soon, make sure you're ready, okay?"

"Yes ma'am." She nodded.

A few minutes later, Carter had everything packed and ready to go. Now all that was left was to wait.

She picked up her bag and walked downstairs to sit in the living room. She was met in the hall by James.

He quickly grabbed the bag from her. "Here, let me carry that for you."

Carter sighed, "It's really not that big of deal for me to carry it."

"And it's really not that big of a deal for me to carry it." James grinned.

She chuckled and shook her head, but followed him downstairs nonetheless.

"So, excited to be going back?"

"Yes, I am. More than I thought I'd be." She said with huge smile.

James laughed. "Well, I'm glad."

When they got downstairs they found that Ms. Wright had arrived already.

"Oh hello." Carter waved slightly.

Ms. Wright smiled, "Ready to go?"

"Yes ma'am."

The Kings walked both Carter and Ms. Wright outside.

Just before getting in the social worker's car, Carter was pulled into a hug by Tanya.

"You come by anytime, okay?" The woman pulled back and smiled.

"Of course. Thank you so much for everything." Carter said gratefully.

"It's no problem," Paul nodded kindly.

"We better be going now," Ms. Wright said looking at her watch.

Carter nodded. "Yes ma'am." She turned to James. "I'll see you at school on Monday."

"Yeah," James hugged her, "Good luck." He said gently.

"Thanks James." Carter pulled away, "Bye."

She quickly hopped in the passenger side of the car.

Ms. Wright slid into the other side. "Ready?"

Taking a deep breath, she said, "As I'll ever be."

It didn't take long to get to Stark Tower after leaving the King's house.

They parked right in front of the building.

Carter grabbed her bag and flung it over her shoulder.

As they entered the lobby, they weren't expecting to greeted by Pepper.

"Carter," Pepper grinned happily, "I'm so happy to see you." She hugged her tightly.

"I suppose I should get used to lots of hugs, huh?" Carter hugged her back.

"Oh yeah," Pepper laughed. She broke off from the hug and shook Ms. Wright's hand, "Come on, everybody else is upstairs. And I can imagine you have some papers for Bruce to sign." She led them upstairs.

The elevator stopped on the main floor.

Carter had barely left the elevator before she was practically smothered by hugs.

Thor was the second or third of them to get to her, but he didn't settle for a hug. He swept her off the ground and gave her a bone-crushing hug. Steve gave her a tearful nod and a pat on the shoulder. Tony, Bruce and Clint joined in with Thor to give her the most amazing group hug ever.

"We missed you kid," Tony said with a big grin.

Crushed in between so many people, Carter somehow managed to reply, "I missed you guys too. But, do you think I could have some space."

Grudgingly, they stepped back to allow Carter breathing room.

"Dr. Banner, I have some papers for you to sign and also need to speak to you about a few things." Ms. Wright said, interrupting the small reunion.

"Of course. Follow me, we can speak in the kitchen." Bruce led the woman into the kitchen.

Meanwhile, Carter and the rest of the Avengers sat down in the living room.

"So, um, how have you all been?" She asked after sitting in an awkward silence for a few moments.

"Oh, you know, the usual. Kicking butt, taking names, throwing parties." Tony gave her a shove on the shoulder.

Pepper rolled her eyes. "We all really missed you Carter. It's great to have you back."

Carter smiled gently.

"But, what about you? What have you been doing?" Natasha asked curiously.

"Well... I'm sure Tony, Steve, and Bruce already told you about the fight..." Carter said in embarrassment. "Other than that, not a lot."

Clint leaned in close, squinting his eyes and glaring a little. "We heard you were staying with a... boy."

Carter laughed. "Yeah, and he's better at video games than you!"

Clint threw his hands up. "That's it! I want my money back!"

Bruce and Mrs. Wright emerged from the kitchen, and mrs. Wright gave Clint a crushing look of death.

Clint quickly wilted under her glare.

Ms. Wright turned her gaze away from him and looked to everyone else. "The papers are signed and Carter is now your responsibility." She turned to Carter, "I will be checking in on you every so often. You have my number if you ever need me."

"Thank you, Ms. Wright." Carter said with a smile.

"It's my job." She responded with her own small smile. "But now, I have to be going. If any of you have any questions or concerns please call me anytime." And with that, Ms. Wright took her leave.

As soon as the elevator doors slid shut, every Avenger let out a deafening cheer. Carter laughed as even Natasha threw her arms up and smiled.

They celebrated with Chinese take-out and video games.

Carter had missed everyone. But, there was still someone missing.

"Carter, I was curious, have you spoken to Laynie recently?" Pepper asked.

Everyone looked at Carter expectantly.

"The last time we really talked was a week ago, the night I found out about Bruce adopting me. She seemed fine." Carter answered, picking at the food in her take-out box.

"I hope Walter's treating her well," Tony mumbled.

"I'm sure he is. She would've told me if something was going on." Carter reassured them.

Clint nodded. "You're the one we would've had to worry about," he forced out around a mouthful or noodles.

Carter made a face. "Gee thanks."

Two rounds of wii bowling and three hours later, they all decided it was high time for sleep. Bruce helped Carter put sheets on her bed, then sat on the edge after she snuggled down under the covers.

"Are you okay with all this?"

"All what?" Carter asked. "I'm certainly okay with being here if that's what you mean."

"No..." Bruce looked down at his lap, smiling a little sadly. "Me adopting you. There's a lot of us and I'm probably the least suited for this." He paused and shrugged. "Except maybe Tony."

"You're really getting cold feet now?" Carter snorted. "Bruce, I don't think anybody's more suited to adopt somebody then you... okay, well maybe Pepper. But, that's not the point."

Bruce smiled. "As long as you think that, I don't have anything to worry about."

Carter smiled back. "Yep!"

"Well, I suppose we should both be getting some sleep. Goodnight." Bruce stood and leaned over Carter, gently kissing her on the forehead.

"Night." Carter yawned and buried herself under the covers.

Bruce chuckled quietly before shutting off the lights and heading to his own room.

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