"Nick Fury is assembling the Avengers again. Only this time, the target hits a little closer to home for you than for the rest of us." Natasha spoke directly to me in a melodic yet businesslike voice. She had an air of authority, but it wasn't condescending, just matter-of-fact.

"I'm sorry, Ms...Romanoff?" I looked at her questioningly to see if I got the name right. She nodded and I continued, "I'll need you to start at the beginning. I don't even know what this 'Avengers' thing is you're talking about. May I ask for an explanation?" I tried to make my voice sound as mellifluous as her own, but I doubt if I succeeded at all.

"Yeah. The Avengers is sort of like a S.W.A.T. team. We come in when the country needs us most, and when government can't deal with it."

"Oh, I see." I thought for a moment. "Why me?"

"'Cause you got moves like Jagger." Stark replied with a deadpanned look.

Natasha ignored his comment. "You have a talent that Nick Fury sees as desirable." The way she said "talent" made me question the choice of the word. It was as though she was terming it the politest way she could. It made me uncomfortable.

"What is that 'talent'?" I asked suspiciously.

Natasha surveyed me, and in that moment, I got an insight into her character: guarded. Cool. Calculating. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"She's right." Stark's character didn't take much deducing. He was obviously a narcissistic playboy who couldn't keep his comments to himself. "It's loony bin-worthy."

I decided to follow Natasha's example and ignore him. I crossed my arms. "Try me."

"Basically, you can make anyone and anything do anything you want them to do."

"Excuse me?"

"Told you you wouldn't believe me."

I was annoyed. "It's not that I don't believe you. You just didn't explain it very clearly."

"When you sing, if you think a certain thought at a person, they'll have to do what you're mentally telling them to do." Natasha summarised. Her facial expression was a blank.

I let out a breath. "Okay. Well, that's actually not the barmiest theory I've ever heard."

"Are you kidding? It's crazier than Tim Burton directing a chick-flick." Stark said.

"Actually, I think that's crazier." I said, just as deadpan as he.

Natasha gave us a "seriously?-shut-up" look. I recognised it easily - it was one I was familiar with myself.

"Well, just because I don't think it's the craziest thing doesn't mean I believe it." I said quickly. "I mean, it's a little out there. Can you prove it?"

Natasha gave me a wry look. "I highly doubt that Fury would approve of my allowing you to experiment."

"Yeah, it'd be like inviting Lady Gaga to Eminem's birthday party." Stark added.

I frowned at the analogy; I didn't really understand what he was talking about. Then I shrugged. "Fine. But I now have every right not to believe you."

"Yep." Stark agreed.

"Just curious, your name is really Stark?" I asked him, changing the subject. "I mean, that's...no offense, but it's sort of...different."

"My name's Stark, yeah. Oh wait, did you mean my first name?"

I rolled my eyes. "Yes. I meant your first name."

"Nope. My first name is Tony."

"Tony Stark. Okay." I nodded. "I'm Regina James. But of course you already knew that."

"Yeah. Pleasure to meet you, Regina."