The team kept busy with continuous press and the usual HYDRA attacks. For the most part, they were able to ignore the horrible things said about their resident archer and dear friend; defending him against rumors and outright lies. Tony worked with his legal team for the lawsuits against the tabloids.
Balancing their responsibilities was hard but they managed to keep things pleasant for themselves.
After another training session testing new tech, Clint returned home to shower and get clean clothes. He liked the improvements to his uniform; Tony redesigned his chest armor to allow him enough room he didn’t have to worry about wearing a binder under everything and redid everything in Kevlar for better protection. He would just have to be cautious with his uncovered left arm, needing it unrestricted for shooting his arrows.
Tony listened to him about ideas for improved arrowheads as well, Clint would know what to add or take away better than he would; Clint was the expert archer anyways.
Getting out of the shower, Clint dried off; again with the mirrors covered and his back turned; then went to get dressed. Without his hearing aids and having been under the running water, he hadn’t heard Pepper come into the suite and invite herself into the bedroom.
He didn’t see her lounged on the bed, making herself at home in the private space. He couldn’t hear the shutter sounds as she discreetly snapped more nude pictures of him as he looked for clothes.
Not finding a clean binder to put on so he could pick up Lila for a doctor’s appointment, Clint groaned and turned away from the dresser; clad only in a pair of Phil’s basketball shorts, chest bare, to go to the closet and find a tank top to wear under a t-shirt. Still, he didn’t see Pepper until he had a tank on and turned to put on the t-shirt he set out.
Suddenly seeing her there watching him frightened and made him suspicious. “Wow, what the fuck?” he asked, hands on his hips; forgetting he wouldn’t hear her response yet.
Pepper shrugged and sat up, showing him a file folder then putting it on the bed before starting from the room. “Might need Phil to read that to you, it has multiple big words.”
Clint shook his head, putting on the t-shirt and getting his hearing aids. “J, is it normal for her to come in like that?”
“Mr. Stark has allowed her access to all parts of the tower, sir.”
He couldn’t help rolling his eyes. “Alright, can you set up some sort of warning for me so I’ll know I’m not alone when I don’t have my ears in and I’m butt ass naked?”
“I could flash lights so you are aware.”
“Please do, thanks J.”
After getting a pair of sandals he grabbed his wallet, his gun; he was not about to leave the tower unarmed even though he only had to go a few miles to Lila’s school; and a hat. He wasn’t disguising himself; he just didn’t want the bright sun in his eyes and he couldn’t find his sunglasses.
He made sure he locked the suite when he left, taking the elevator down to the lobby to leave through the main entrance. He would prefer to grab a taxi but at that time of day it was going to be nearly impossible for at least a few blocks.
While he walked, hands shoved in his pockets and enjoying the early Fall weather; toasty sunlight hitting his back; he listened for danger. The noise of the busy city made it difficult but Phil had taught him how to tune out unnecessary noise in their early days of working together.
Half way to the school, his phone rang. He pulled it from his pocket and looked at the screen; it was the same unknown number that had been calling but not leaving a message for the past couple weeks. He sighed, deciding it was time to find out who was calling him.
“Barton,” he answered habitually, rolling his eyes at himself. He couldn’t answer like a civilian to save his life.
“Cyndi,” the caller replied. Clint’s stomach dropped as he stopped hard, recognizing the voice. “How are you Sweetie?”
Clint shuddered at the old pet name he despised, taking the phone away from his ear for a moment. Just hearing that voice and those names made him gag. He found an alley and hid against the brick wall.
“How did you get this number?”
Buck Chisholm chuckled darkly, stepping up with a few of his goons; petting on Lila’s head. He sent his goons to collect her after finding out how and where to find her. Lila struggled against the tight ropes binding her to an uncomfortable chair; screaming as loud as she could through the thick duct tape over her mouth. She wasn’t strong enough yet to make a racket with the chair but she tried, hoping to knock it down and break it apart so she could try to break free.
“You really shouldn’t put phone numbers on your kid’s school bag, Cyndi. It makes abduction easier. Little Lila, oh she just looks good enough to eat up.”
Clint turned around and ran back toward the tower, phone clutched in his fist tight, bumping and weaving through the crowd ignoring his shouts to move. He didn’t care who he knocked down; Lila was in danger. He had to get home and raise the alarm.
After what felt like forever, Clint finally ran back into the tower and to the first elevator he saw; frantically pressing the call button. When the doors opened, he jumped in, almost getting knocked down by a group of executives leaving for lunch.
“JARVIS, armory now; alert the others,” he ordered breathless. JARVIS sent the alarm without question, noticing his high vitals. He ran from the elevator to the armory, snatching off his clothes to change into his uniform and get armed.
Bruce and Tony arrived first, coming from their labs on the floor above the armory.
“What’s going on?” Tony asked watching Clint dressing frantically.
“Trickshot. Motherfucker has my daughter.”
Bruce disappeared to get to the jet, not needing anything special from the armory. Tony called for a more urgent alert to get the others running, suiting up. Natasha and Steve ran in together, followed by Thor soon after. Natasha went to dress without question but Steve hesitated confused.
“My daughter has been kidnapped by a fucking rapist pedo, get your shit together.”
“I think I’ll pass on this one,” he replied instead then turned to leave. He was tired of having to deal with the drama he felt Clint brought to the team and didn’t want to be involved with missions unless the country needed him.
Nobody tried to stop him, they could fight without him and his frisbee. Clint led the three to the jet, getting into the pilot seat. “J, gimme coordinates for the cell that last called mine. Hurry.”
The location popped up on the display screen just a few seconds later. Clint took off, heart pounding. “Call Phil, J.”
He held his breath as the line rang and rang, losing it hard when the line finally clicked open and Phil’s voice came through the speakers.
“Clint, what’s wrong?”
“Motherfucker took Lila. Help.”
“On my way,” he replied, moving instantly to lock up his classroom; sending the rest of his classes to study hall; and ran to get outside to Lola.
Finally, two hours later, the team arrived at the location given by the cell signal. Clint didn’t even worry about finding a hidden spot to land at the farmland, the Quinjet engines announcing their arrival loudly. Natasha and Tony led them out with Hulk coming out last, ready to destroy everything he touched. Clint ran for the house first, arrow ready to fly.
When Phil arrived ten minutes later, he found the house in shambles and the team fighting a gang of corrupt circus performers. Clint abandoned his bow in favor of attacking with an ax he found, digging deep wounds into everyone he hit; moving manically through the thick gang of attackers.
Phil took out his gun and started shooting, eventually making his way closer to Clint and Thor. He didn’t expect Hulk to scoop Clint up by his ankles and swing him around with the ax to help him take out more of them.
After finally winning the fight they gathered to check out the barn, the only standing structure on the property now.
Unfortunately hanging by her feet from a beam up in the loft, they found Lila. Clint let out an anguished scream when he realized he saw blood dripping from her slit throat, dropping to his knees hard. Natasha went down to him as Phil stepped up to help Thor and Tony get her down. Phil’s hands shook as he tried to keep himself together, he couldn’t lose control right now. But his attempts failed when they finally had her down and lying on the ground in front of him. Thor, being a true tender heart, took Phil into his arms and held him almost too tight; letting him lose the hard mask he often wore.
Tony put his armor away with a sigh, his own heart shattering, and went to look for a blanket in the jet. He heard Clint somewhere, unable to keep in his grief, and let out a soft snuffle; wiping away the tears that threatened to fall from his eyes and grabbing a blanket out of a small closet.
Coming back to the barn he started the heart wrenching task of wrapping Lila so they could take her back home. Thor had to stop Phil from grabbing her from Tony, getting him to his feet and making him leave the barn. Tony scooped her up carefully and started back for the Quinjet, telling Bruce to drive Lola back to the tower for Phil, and putting her in a tiny bunk room so he could get everyone home.
Natasha and Thor put Clint and Phil together in another bunk room; both feeling like they had to hide their grief for the two and keep watch over them while they clinged to each other. Clint and Phil couldn’t even comfort each other, but Phil held onto Clint as tight as he could; afraid he would lose him as well if he let go.
Clint refused to leave the tower’s morgue where Lila laid in a cabinet awaiting autopsy. He hadn’t even bothered taking off his uniform. He sobbed until he couldn’t produce any more tears, eyes bloodshot and stinging.
Phil wanted to be with Clint but he became too frantic and doctors were forced to sedate him.
Natasha came into the morgue with clothes for Clint, undressing him herself knowing he wouldn’t make a move to do it. Clint let her do it, sobbing dryly again. She knew not to tell him to leave the morgue and wrapped him in a warmed blanket before settling herself beside him and hugging him tight into her arms.
Clint found the folder the next afternoon, but ignored it for now and put it on the kitchen counter while busy feeding and watering Lucky and getting coffee. Phil returned home from his unexpected overnight stay in Medical, Natasha escorting to make sure he made it home without falling and needing to be with them.
Natasha put Phil in his usual chair in the dining room then stepped into the kitchen to get him something to drink. She found Clint at the Keurig, leaning against the counter, forcing himself to take deep calming breaths. He had to keep his mind straight so he could concentrate on Lila’s final needs. She sighed and wrapped her arms around his waist, putting her head down on his shoulder.
Clint let his head hit against the cabinet and held her hands tight in his, feeling her masked calm enveloping him slowly.
“Phil’s home,” she mumbled against his shoulder.
Clint sighed and stood straight again, getting Phil’s coffee cup out of the cabinet and setting up one of his favorite pods. Phil liked the too sweet flavored coffees; Clint liked his medium roast and refillable pod. He followed Natasha to the dining room, finding Phil still sitting in his chair but he now had the folder Clint had already forgotten about.
He put Phil’s mug down as he sat in his chair, pulling one knee up to his chest and holding his chin in his hand.
“So, what’s that?” he asked. “Pepper brought it yesterday but I stayed on the couch last night and didn’t remember it til this morning when I saw it.”
Phil shook his head, he looked sick and angry. “Well, it’s a letter from a lawyer saying that asshole Chisholm wants custody of the child he fathered. But I don’t believe a lawyer would pass on pictures of a small child being beaten and raped. I’m not sure whether to get the police involved or go hunting for him myself.”
He showed Clint one of the less graphic pictures, knowing his past trauma and that he wouldn’t be able to look at the others without a PTSD attack. It showed a girl about eleven tied up and being whipped with a bullwhip and beaten with numerous belts.
Clint immediately recognized the little blonde girl; hearing the pained scream she let out through a nearly mutilated throat. It was a picture of him being tortured as a small child in the circus. He huffed terrified and shot to his feet, backing away; his throat burning again.
“No,” he rasped weakly, backing further into the wall when Phil stood. “Don’t fucking touch me.”
Phil and Natasha froze, hands up in a surrender stance to show they weren’t going to make any move to harm him seeing he was thrown back into old memories.
“Who fucking sent those here?”
Phil shook his head and shrugged. “You said Pepper brought them in, right? We should start there, see where she got them.”
The door unexpectedly opening sent Clint diving for a corner, covering his head with his arms to protect himself against the threat. Tony came in, needing to do the hard task of funeral planning with them. He spotted Clint cowering in the corner and Phil and Natasha standing near the kitchen entrance; both looked scared.
Phil snapped back into the agent mindset, huffing, and picked up the letter and pictures. “Pepper gave Clint this shit, from his reaction to it; he knows that child. Find out where they came from, Stark.”
Tony looked at the pictures, losing his breath. “What the fuck?” he muttered. “Pepper gave you this?”
“Yeah. Get to work, don’t do anything else until you know the source.”
He just nodded and left the suite. Phil let out a sharp breath, taking a moment to calm himself before turning to Clint again. Clint still coward in the corner and trembled. He snuffled, unable to keep control of his fear and grief, feeling helpless.
Slowly Phil rounded the table, making sure to shuffle his feet to make noise and let Clint hear him approach, crouching still away from him a little bit.
“Clint?” he started; tone soft. Clint stiffened startled and pulled tighter to the wall. “Can you look at me?”
Clint shook his head, letting out a muffled sob.
“Can I touch you?”
Again, Clint shook his head.
“What about Nat?”
Another head shake. He almost leapt up when she spoke unexpectedly, startling him. “Do you want us to leave you alone?”
When he didn’t give an affirmation or negative, she rounded and sat down carefully.
“Do you want us to stay here and help you back up?” Phil asked. He desperately wanted to take Clint into his arms but would not touch him until he gave consent.
He just snuffled in response; body racked with soundless sobs he couldn’t hold back anymore.
Phil let out another slow breath, reaching up on the table and getting their coffees; putting Clint’s in the floor close to him hoping the scent would help him. He took a drink of his, letting the mug clatter just slightly against the hardwood floor of the dining room to quietly tell Clint his hands were busy.
Both were hopeful when Lucky came up and wedged himself between Clint’s knees and against him; prompting Clint to hug his arms around his beloved mutt and bury his face in Lucky’s long fur.
“I have some of those chocolate ball things you like so much,” Natasha offered, grabbing the box of Whoppers malted chocolate balls off the breakfast bar; shaking it gently so he would hear she wasn’t being deceitful.
She shook out a few on the floor beside his coffee then sat back to give him the space he needed to calm down.
“You should eat something, my love.” Phil prompted, fidgeting with his cup; making noise against the floor for Clint’s sake. He held in a grateful groan when Clint’s hand reached out slowly and felt around until his fingers landed on a candy and picked it up. His hand disappeared behind Lucky for a moment until he clutched the dog’s fur again with both hands.
Lucky stayed still obediently, head down on Clint’s shoulder comforting him.
Hope filled Phil when Clint reached for another candy and then his coffee; this time both hands disappearing behind the dog. Clint still kept Lucky in front of him though, blocking his view of everything else.
“Are you coming back now, my love?”
He couldn’t hear what Clint mumbled into Lucky’s fur but it sounded like a maybe.
“Can we come a little closer to you?”
Clint sighed audibly, a little clearer sounding. “I don’t care.”
Phil shook his head, putting out a hand to stop Natasha from moving closer. “You gotta say yes or no, my love. We don’t want to do anything without your permission.”
He sighed again, sitting up just a little bit to be heard better. “Yeah,” he replied tiredly.
Carefully, the two scooted slowly on the floor; Natasha bringing the candies with her; and settled closer to Clint but still not too close. Clint shakily took another candy, letting his legs untense slightly.
Over the next hour they worked to help Clint out of the panic attack, slowly getting closer to him. When Phil finally had Clint safely in his arms, Clint broke down again. Phil got comfortable against the wall and held Clint tight, working to soothe him and putting his own emotions aside for Clint’s sake.
It worked for a little bit but soon enough Natasha joined their huddle and held onto both as they grieved for their daughter. She knew they weren’t going anywhere more comfortable any time soon but didn’t care about her own comfort, her two best friends needed her to hold them up and help guide them along.
Lila was buried on a Saturday morning. Clint and Phil decided together that it shouldn’t be a religious funeral, neither followed organized religion, and chose to have a small graveside service for family and friends. Clint wanted her buried beside his mother in Iowa and Phil readily agreed.
Tony used his private jet to fly everyone out and paid for hotel accommodations. Phil tried to help with the expenses, Tony had already paid for the funeral and travel expenses himself, but Tony refused his offer.
He felt the grieving parents shouldn’t have to front all of the expenses and it wasn’t like he was saving money for anything else.
After the graveside service, everyone returned to the hotel to pack their bags and prepare to go home. Clint changed out of his suit before he started gathering everything, worrying Phil when he still wouldn’t speak, moving almost too stiffly.
Phil zipped up his suitcase with a sigh and sat on the bed, catching Clint’s hand as he passed with a handful of clothes; taking him into his arms and holding him close. Clint stood still for a moment before folding down into Phil’s lap, clinging to him.
“You’re so quiet, my love.”
Clint shrugged, fidgeting with Phil’s loosened tie. “Just don’t feel like being sociable right now. They can get mad at me all they want ‘cause I won’t talk, I just don’t care right now.”
Phil shook his head, planting a soft kiss on Clint’s forehead. “They’re not mad, they wouldn’t be; they really do understand why you are so quiet right now. I’m just worried ‘cause I don’t want you to think you have to keep everything to yourself. I know you tend to shut off when you’re upset but everyone’s here to help you through all of this.”
“What about you though?” he asked, wrapping the tie idly around his hand. “You need them, too.”
He sighed, taking off the tie and giving it to Clint to fidget with. “Honestly, all I need is to hold you. If you’ll let me.”
“Well duh,” he snorted weakly, wrapping tighter around Phil. “The only time I don’t wanna be touched by anyone is when all that shit starts coming back and you’ve never forced it.”
Phil laid back on the bed, letting Clint shift around to get comfortable on top of him; closing his eyes.
After a while Natasha came into their room to check on them, seeing them still clinging to each other. Clint had fallen asleep on Phil, wrapped around him almost like a squid. Phil laid awake but with his eyes closed, hands rubbing on Clint’s arm to keep himself awake. She stepped up and tapped him, getting his attention.
“You ready?” she whispered.
Phil nodded and sat up slowly, holding Clint tight so he wouldn’t fall out of his arms. “I don’t wanna wake him,” he replied quietly despite Clint not having his hearing aids in at the moment. Phil had them safely in his pocket in the little protective case.
Natasha grabbed Phil’s suitcase and Clint’s small bag; putting the bag on the handle of Phil’s suitcase so she could pull it with her. Her own bag was over her shoulders. He stood with a muffled grunt, adjusting Clint in his arms, then followed Natasha out of the room carrying him. Clint snuffled with the movement but didn’t wake, too exhausted to notice he was being moved around.
They met the others in the lobby and went outside to the waiting car. Phil got in with Clint, Tony following. Happy took all their luggage to load into the trunk, shooing them into the car before one of them were spotted and recognized. He loaded the last bag, shut the trunk, and got in to drive everyone to the airport where the jet waited for them.
Clint still slept when Phil carried him up into the jet and settled on a bench seat. Natasha gave him a blanket for Clint then claimed a plush chair for herself with a blanket of her own.
Tony came in with Happy, reminding him to be careful with the plane; despite Happy knowing undoubtedly; then sat with the others with a groan, checking his emails and frowning when he opened and read an email from his sources looking into the sender of the horrible pictures of Clint.
“Coulson, who’s Jacques Duquesne?”
That name made Phil’s heart stutter hard. “Why?”
Tony shrugged and shook his head. “My guys say that’s who sent that shit to the tower. But it wasn’t sent through the mail, it was delivered by hand. JARVIS’s systems couldn’t get a good facial recognition though. You know him?”
“He’s one of the assholes who abused Clint in the fucking circus. Can you find him?”
He nodded, typing quickly on the holoscreen. After a minute he sighed and shook his head. “One of the confirmed dead in that farm raid. Barton fortunately took his head when Banner was going apeshit swinging him around.”
“That’s good then,” he mumbled, tightening his hold on Clint again.
Tony went back to the emails, trying to figure out why Pepper had the folder and how she came to receive it. She had completely disappeared after leaving it with Clint days ago and nobody could find her anywhere.
Clint woke when the plane landed in New York. Phil chose not to tell him about the sender of the pictures yet, waiting until they were home safe so Clint didn’t have another panic attack in public; last time that happened it caused a ruckus and almost resulted in Clint being arrested.
Safely in their suite and snuggled together on the couch; Phil making sure Lucky was close by; he let out a sigh and picked up his phone to show Clint the email Tony forwarded to him.
“So, we found out some stuff.” He paused when he felt Clint stiffen in his arms and tightened his hold securely. “Now, before you panic; the asshole is dead, you killed him yourself. But somehow Duquesne managed to find out you’re here and had those pictures and that letter brought here; we haven’t been able to ID the guy who gave them to the lobby receptionist though; but she remembers him saying it was to go through Pepper first before it went to you. We’re still looking for Chisholm and Tony swears we’ll find him.”
Clint let out a slow breath, trying to calm his hammering heart; clinging to Phil tight enough his knuckles were white. Phil tightened his hold as Clint shivered, settling Lucky against Clint’s side. He didn’t care that Clint’s grip slowly drew blood from his arm. He shushed him gently, free hand roaming soothingly.
Panic subsided after a few minutes and Clint could breathe again; though he felt guilty when he pried his fingers off Phil’s arm and saw the blood from his nails digging in so tight. Phil just wiped his arm with their blanket and hugged Clint again, giving him a kiss.
“Don’t stress on it, my love,” he soothed; feeling Clint slowly start to relax against him.
“It doesn’t hurt?”
Phil shook his head, giving him another kiss. “No, it’s fine. It’ll be healed by tonight I’m sure. You just cling as hard as you need, don’t stress yourself thinking it’ll hurt me, yeah?” Clint nodded and laid his head on Phil’s chest, soothed by the rhythm of Phil’s heartbeat.
Half an hour later he dozed in Phil’s arms, feeling safe again.
After another battle, this time in small town New Mexico, the team regrouped and returned to the Quinjet; everyone exhausted and more than a few minor injuries bandaged by S.H.I.E.L.D. field medics. Clint’s left arm suffered a break and an ankle sprained, but he was otherwise unharmed. He wouldn’t let the field medics set his arm though, recognizing a few agents that had been involved in the botched LGBT+ policies and not wanting to deal with their hatred of him again.
He would seek medical care in Manhattan with the team he came to slowly trust to take care of his medical needs. Phil did make him put an arm brace on though, not wanting the broken bone to shift and become unrepairable. He wouldn’t force Clint to ask anything of anyone who would give him a hard time and trusted Clint’s assurance that he would be fine until they got home.
Phil sat down in a seat beside Clint, left hand bandaged to protect a harsh burn he received from an unknown weapon, sighing wearily. He couldn’t stop the smile that spread across his face when Clint lifted his injured foot up into his lap to keep it elevated, rubbing Clint’s shin carefully.
“I’ve been thinkin’,” Clint told him, head leaned back tiredly; reaching for Phil’s uninjured hand. “What do you think about going to the DOJ and making it legally official with us?”
That made Phil’s smile grow wide. He had always wanted to be officially married to Clint, but he knew Clint wasn’t ready and promised to wait until he was.
“I’d love that,” he replied sincerely. “Whenever you’re ready we’ll do it.”
“Probably when my damn ankle heals up a little bit. It’s just time to do it, I’m not gonna hang on to the stupid fear anymore. You’ve proven a thousand times over you’re not gonna be abusive in any way and fuck knows I’m already gonna spend the rest of my life with you ‘cause I fucking love you like fuck. I mean, fuck. You know?”
Phil chuckled and nodded. “You’re doped up, aren’t you?”
Clint gave a high little snicker, not realizing that the pain medicine he was given had affected him so quickly. “Maybe a little bit. But, I’m totally serious about getting married. I put a reminder in my phone and everything already.”
He leaned over and gave Phil a slightly sloppy kiss, curling up to Phil’s side comfortably; being careful not to hurt their injuries.
The flight home was fairly quiet after everyone gathered to do AAR’s with Phil, he had to report everything back to S.H.I.E.L.D. despite the sour feelings between the agency and the team. They knew they had a job to do and they had to do it right, putting aside everything they felt about Fury and Pierce.
Back in Manhattan Phil sent Clint to Medical, going with him to get his hand treated and wrapped better. Clint’s arm was set and casted quickly then he went looking for Phil; finding him in a triage room. The sight of a nurse peeling away dead skin from Phil’s blistered and burned hand almost made Clint sick but he pushed that away and stepped up to the bedside, claiming a little chair to sit with him.
“That looks gnarly,” he cringed, taking Phil’s uninjured hand again nervously; not surprised at Phil’s calmness. “How’d that even happen?”
Phil shrugged. “Knee jerk reaction blocking a shot. Probably would’ve been better if I’d just fallen but I’ll be fine. It’s luckily not my dominate hand.”
“Sweetie, you should learn not to block alien weapons with your bare hand,” the nurse quipped with a slight smile, not noticing Clint gag and shudder at the pet name she called everyone she treated.
Phil reached and caressed Clint’s cheek gently, letting him lean into him. “Let’s try not to call anyone that with Clint in the room, please Gladys. It brings up awful memories.”
Gladys frowned worriedly at Clint. “I’m sorry, I didn’t even think.”
Clint just shook his head, accepting her apology knowing she was sincere, and shrugged; unable to say anything. Gladys put a comforting hand on his shoulder for a moment before going back to work on Phil.
Hand cleaned and bandaged, Phil was released to go home. Clint didn’t want to go home yet though and took him to the lounge where the others would be showing up to finish the movie marathon they started before getting the call to action. Clint put Phil in their nest of blankets and took their cups to refresh their drinks and get more snacks.
Phil noticed that Clint didn’t want to spend a lot of time in their suite after they lost Lila; especially if he was going to be in there alone all day while Phil was at school. He knew avoidance was part of Clint’s grieving process and would do anything to make him upset.
Clint came back as the others started filtering in, planting himself between Phil’s legs in their nest; leaning back into Phil’s chest with a tired sigh. He smiled when Phil’s hand went up under his shirt but he instinctively stiffened as he reached for the zipper on his binder. He let Phil unzip and push away the binder, raising up so Phil could take the binder out of his shirt.
Phil set the binder aside then tucked his hand back up under Clint’s shirt; rubbing his stomach slowly, as always keeping his touch light and trying to keep from touching Clint’s breasts. Clint settled against him comfortably, not having to worry about Phil’s touch sending him into a dysphoria rabbit hole.
A month later in Washington state, surrounded by all their friends and the few family members Phil still had, Clint and Phil stood together at a homemade alter and exchanged vows and rings.
At sunset the wedding reception started. Clint wasn’t so excited about having to get out in the middle of the dance floor and let everyone watch him and Phil enjoy their first dance as official husbands; but he braved it for Phil, concentrating on their happiness.
Being in Phil’s arms, held close, he was able to tune out the crowd and the bright spotlight. He was so deep in his most comfortable place he didn’t realize they had danced through three songs and they were now surrounded by everyone.
Phil kissing him brought Clint back out of his head. He smiled happily and tightened his arms around Phil firmly. “They’re about to serve dinner, we should probably sit.”
Clint followed Phil to the table set up for the wedding party, laughing when Phil pulled his chair out for him and sat down; stealing another quick kiss as Phil took his seat beside him.
As the catering crew served dinner, MaJo shuffled up to the stage; Jasper helping her along; and grabbed hold of the microphone to deliver a speech for the newlyweds. Jasper looked over at them smiling and fighting embarrassed laughter at her antics, shrugging when Phil gave him a confused look.
She was determined to get up and speak; and she wouldn’t let anyone tell her she couldn’t. She started with how she first met Phil through her son, making Phil blush a little bit and the crowd laugh as she went on about how baby faced he had been all those years ago.
He was just lucky she hadn’t been told about the planned photo video chronicling their relationship. Natasha put that together so neither had any idea which pictures were chosen.
Thankfully she kept her speech short, it wasn’t necessary to drag on and on. Jasper helped her back to her seat, feeling Phil’s hard stare on his back.
Next, Natasha and Bruce came up to speak; talking about the friendship they had with Clint and Phil; then starting the video. Clint felt a little anxious, hoping there wasn’t any pictures of him when he was forced to still live as a female after first joining S.H.I.E.L.D., reaching for Phil’s hand and holding tight.
Realistically he knew they wouldn’t do that to him, but after an anonymous package came containing more horrible pictures of his childhood abuse and trauma came to the tower; he worried.
He felt a little better when an old Halloween picture of Phil dressed as Marilyn Monroe was shown; even Phil laughed hard about that picture. He lost a dare to Jasper and had to be dolled up for a S.H.I.E.L.D. party.
Most of the pictures of Clint were taken from angles that didn’t make his female body obvious; for which he was grateful. Neither realized how often they were photographed cuddled together until they saw the numerous pictures.
Both were completely happy and deeply in love that’s all that mattered.
Following a three-week honeymoon, on Tony’s insistence, Clint and Phil returned home. Phil felt surprisingly refreshed after the short time away from his duties, and getting to spend so much time with just Clint; he let go of stresses he hadn’t realized he held onto for so long. Clint did relax a little bit, but he would always be nervous about going to an unfamiliar place. He always felt like he had to hide away too much and had to be more cautious around people.
Happy drove them home from the airport, as always declining Phil’s offer of a tip for his services. Tony paid him well and he felt tips would be more useful for workers who didn’t have the privilege of having a living wage income.
Phil grabbed a couple bags out of the trunk before Happy shooed them off to go inside and followed Clint to an elevator from the garage. He smiled when Clint crowded him into a corner and pushed his way into Phil’s arms again; hugging tight to him. He could never deny Clint wanting to be held.
The elevator stopped at the lounge. They found it empty so they crossed over to the elevator that would take them up to their floor, again Clint crowded into Phil and stayed hugged to him as they went down the hall to their suite and Phil unlocked their door.
“JARVIS, let Natasha know we’re home and she can bring Lucky whenever she’s ready.” Phil told the AI as they deposited the bags in the dining room. He took off his sneakers then followed Clint through to the bedroom.
He found Clint already sprawled out on the bed, binder off and discarded on the bed beside him, lazily trying to kick off his sneakers without untying or giving much of an effort for the task. Clint had tied the laces too tight and he couldn’t budge them off though.
“Need some help?” Phil chuckled, stepping up when Clint just lifted a leg and groaned in response. He untied the sneakers and tossed them toward the closet, then sat down with Clint’s socked feet in his lap to take the socks off. He felt Clint’s tense body relax when he rubbed his aching feet with a bit of lotion off the nightstand.
“What should we do for lunch?” Clint mumbled. “Doubt we have anything in the fridge.”
“We’ll order out and I’ll put in a grocery order. The frozen stuff should still be good for dinner.”
“I kinda want sushi,” he replied, eyes slitting open to look at Phil. “Kinda want lo mien too but the only good sushi place uses fucking spaghetti noodles instead of lo mien.”
“Then we’ll get sushi from there and then get a couple lo mien meals from Chow’s. They make their noodles fresh and it’s really good.”
“That sounds expensive.”
Phil shrugged, still rubbing Clint’s feet. “That’s not really a problem anymore though. Besides, we should have the rare splurge. We do cook more at home than we order out anyways.”
Clint picked up the tablet on his nightstand and started putting in the delivery order, letting Phil rub on his feet and legs to his content.
They still lounged on the bed when Natasha brought Lucky to them, folding herself down at the foot of the bed to visit with them for a little bit. She laid on her side, head in her hand, smiling at Clint loving on Lucky unashamed.
After the dog calmed, Clint laid back again with Lucky on his chest and lifted his feet up on Natasha’s hip so she wouldn’t have to move from her comfortable spot.
“So how was Romania?”
“I loved it so much,” Clint grinned over Lucky’s head. “We finally got to see Dracula’s castle. That was so fucking awesome. All the ancient buildings and shit. Even the little inn we stayed at was great. It didn’t have electric heat so we got to use the fireplace. Made everything so cozy and just made you feel good.”
“They even had a type of outhouse, except it was hooked up to regular plumbing. It was outside like all their toilets just about, still cold as hell sitting on an almost frozen toilet seat, but it was such an amazing place.”
Clint snorted a laugh, making Phil smile at him. “Oh, my gods those toilets. I embarrassed the fuck outta myself the first night I used one. I did not expect it to be that cold, during the day it’s kinda chilly but not bad; but at night. It got like a layer of ice. I fucking squealed like a bitch. Really fucking loud. Everyone around heard.”
“Nothing’s worse than a cold cooch,” Natasha laughed. “I’m so glad indoor plumbing is prominent here.”
She sat up when her phone dinged with a reminder for her training session with Tony. “Ugh, sparring with Stark.” She sighed, getting off the bed. “I’ll come check on you two later if you’re not busy fucking.”
Clint curled up to Phil again as she left, hand going under Phil’s shirt and rubbing his stomach slowly.
When their lunch arrived, Phil paid for it and brought it back to the bedroom knowing Clint would be more comfortable lounged than he would at the table; long travels always took a lot out of Clint and it took him a few days to recover.
Phil didn’t complain, he enjoyed taking care of Clint. He strived to be the husband his late father would be proud of; while at the same time further ignoring the old traditions of gender norms. It had never hurt his ego to pitch in and help with housework; it was his home as well; he could help take care of it.
Clint did most of the cooking, he enjoyed it and it made him feel good to make something for the one he loved above all else, but his housekeeping skills still lacked a little bit. If he lived alone, he would only dust a couple times a year and now that was one thing Phil took care of mostly.
He always said the repetitive work helped calm him after a stressful day, and he was the only one he trusted to dust his Captain America collection. Clint wouldn’t even tease about touching it.
That night they spent a couple hours in their hot tub, messing around without having to be cautious of anyone walking in on them. Later they moved to the bedroom, having another unplanned romp, being a little louder and more enthusiastic than their usual.
Clint eventually fell asleep, laid out naked on his stomach beside Phil; snoring muffled by his pillow.
Phil sat up against the headboard with his laptop, wanting to get a start on catching up with the work he missed while away. Lucky laid at the foot of the bed, head laid over Phil’s feet, awake and watching over the two.
After an hour of work, Phil put everything away and stood; pulling on a pair of pajama pants so he could take Lucky outside before locking up for the night. Lucky went to the dining room to get his leash where Natasha put it on Clint’s duffel, snatching it up in his mouth and waiting on Phil obediently. He leashed the dog and put on a pair of flip flops from his bag; picking up Clint’s birth control meds and putting the disk on the kitchen table so he would see it in the morning, then left the suite to take Lucky out.
Thankfully Lucky was quick outside and led Phil back up to the suite, sitting to let Phil unclip the leash before he took off for the bedroom again. Phil locked the door then went to the bedroom; taking off his flip flops and pants then lying down with Clint, taking him into his arms and curling around him snug.
What was supposed to be a slow day for the team turned into a mental terror. It started out great, fun for almost the whole team; they were spending time at the Children’s hospital with the ill children. Naturally Clint was most at home with them, quickly gathering a crowd for video game battles. Phil had a large group around him on the floor, all the little eyes watching him fascinated by his magic tricks.
Tony and Natasha helped a group of kids wanting to put on a puppet show with them providing voices and controlling the puppets. Bruce read to another group and Steve had his group doing art lessons.
The puppet show was a success, everyone laughed and carried on excitedly. But soon enough it was time to gather and leave. The team said their goodbyes to the children, more than a few who had tears not wanting their heroes to leave, and made their way outside to the Quinjet.
Clint laid along a few seats with a groan, finally able to let the nausea he had been battling for the last hour be known; snatching a trash bin for just in case he couldn’t get up and to the bathroom in time.
“What’s wrong with you?” Tony asked, passing by on his way to pilot the jet; putting a hand on Clint’s sweaty forehead.
He groaned again, shrugging lazily. “My luck, food poisoning. Wish I would throw up, just feeling like it sucks balls.”
Tony nodded. “Want J to do a quick scan and see if we can find out that way?”
He just shrugged, covering his eyes with his arm exhausted. Tony readied his tablet for the scan, explaining to Phil why as he came in and sat down; making Clint put his head on his lap. Phil grabbed Clint’s hand, fingers of his free hand raking slowly through Clint’s hair. Tony moved the tablet the length of Clint’s body head to toe then sent the results to Clint’s doctors.
“They’ll have results in a couple hours, plus J’s looking over everything and working on it just in case they overlook something.”
Clint let out a groan and rolled over to his side, squirming to get as comfortable as he could on the hard seats. After a moment he squirmed again then let out a defeated sigh and sat up, unable to get comfortable at all, hugging himself to Phil’s side.
“What did you eat that could’ve made you sick?” Phil asked, arms snug around Clint.
“Dunno,” he mumbled, closing his eyes against the bright light of Bruce’s headlamp. He cringed and turned his face into Phil’s shoulder to shield himself away from the light. “I made the usual shit last night for dinner and I’ve never gotten sick from my own cooking before. Nothing was horribly out of date.”
Phil shrugged and held Clint close, hands soothing on Clint’s side slowly, letting him try to rest until they got home.
Back in Manhattan, Phil took Clint to Medical; having to work to convince him to get up onto an exam table so Dr. Miller could look him over and discuss the results of JARVIS’s scan. Phil sat in a chair between Clint’s knees, rubbing Clint’s thighs slowly to keep him calm.
Dr. Miller came in finally; plucking down Clint’s medical file with a sigh. “Well, it’s a couple things,” he started. “First thing, probably just a mild stomach bug.”
Clint held Phil’s hand tighter and held his breath anxiously.
“Birth control failure isn’t all that common, but it does happen sometimes. Antibiotics can make it ineffective. You haven’t been on any in over a year though so that’s not the cause of the failure. Some people, they just don’t work.”
“So, what does that mean?”
Dr. Miller shrugged. “I’d say congratulations, but somehow it doesn’t feel like it’s appropriate right now so instead; the pregnancy test came back positive.”
Clint stuttered and sputtered dumbly, unable to get his brain to catch up so he could speak properly. He turned to Phil helplessly. Phil let out a sigh as Dr. Miller stepped out to give them a little privacy and stood, hugging Clint into his arms tight. Clint let out a slow breath, clinging to Phil.
“It’s too soon,” Clint trembled as he spoke, knuckles white where he gripped Phil’s shirt sleeves tight. “Fuck. But I can’t do anything that’ll hurt it, right?”
“It’s your choice, not mine, my love.” Phil replied softly, rubbing Clint’s back. “I can’t influence you either way.”
“What would you do if it was you?”
Phil shrugged. “I’d listen to my instinct.”
Clint let out a breath against Phil’s shoulder and closed his eyes. “Would you support whatever choice I do make?”
He nodded, landing a soft kiss on Clint’s neck. “Of course.”
Clint pulled tighter to Phil, mind racing wildly, hiding against him when Dr. Miller came back into the room. “We should do an ultrasound and check things out.”
Clint stood slowly, letting Phil guide him out of the room and through the halls to the room where the ultrasound machines were set up. Both were thankful that Dr. Miller muted the machines and used a pair of headphones so they wouldn’t have to hear anything. Neither could bring himself to look at the screen. Clint kept his face against Phil’s shoulder; Phil tucked around Clint to keep him from seeing anything, making sure he kept his head turned away from the screen.
When Dr. Miller finished the exam, doing a few other quick prenatal checks while he had Clint there, he put the machine aside and sighed. “Well, so far everything looks good. Still way too early to really check for anything. I’ll give you a couple weeks to decide what you want to do.”
With that they left Medical to return home; changing into comfortable clothes and lying together in bed to relax and watch tv together. Clint didn’t want to think about his options right then but everything crowded and took over his thoughts.
He didn’t know which course he wanted to take yet, but he knew without a doubt he didn’t want to terminate the pregnancy. That option didn’t feel right to him, he couldn’t bring himself to do it.
That left him with two options; him and Phil keeping the baby or deciding adoption would be better. He did want a chance to have another child, but knew it was too early to consider anything and knew someone would accuse him of just replacing Lila in his life. He knew someone would be angry with him if he chose to keep the baby, even if he chose to give it up for adoption. He would be called selfish and uncaring. They would say he was forgetting the daughter he lost, and the child he left behind so many years ago.
He didn’t know what he wanted to do, but he knew what he couldn’t do.
“Are you 100% totally sure you want to keep it?” Tony asked at the next team meeting where Clint let the others know about the pregnancy.
Clint nodded, fidgeting with a pen. “I’ve been sitting on this and thinking about it for the last month. I’ve considered everything and if it’s gonna affect my place on the team-”
Tony shook his head. “Well, not permanently,” he interjected with a shrug. “I mean, common sense you should bench while you’re growing it and for a time after so you can recover; but you’ll not be replaced for good. If you’re sure and you’ve considered all the possibilities, we’ll help out however we can.”
Clint sighed relieved, running a hand down his face tiredly. “Alright, thanks; and I am sorry to just drop this out of the blue. I was floored when I found out myself.”
“Ok well now that that’s out of the way, we have to talk about the hive in North Dakota,” Phil told them; pulling up his notes on a holoscreen. “Clint, I do want you on this one but strictly as a pilot. You’ll stay your little ass in the jet and not come out for anything unless you have to bail out.”
Clint chuckled but nodded. “Gonna cuff me to the bed if I misbehave?” he teased playfully.
“I’ll cuff you then go to the Knicks game I have tickets for this weekend.”
The others laughed when Clint quickly straightened up and put on a serious face; no longer joking around. “I’ll behave.” Phil just smiled and gave him a kiss before continuing the team meeting for the upcoming mission.
Hitting the hive in North Dakota wasn’t an easy task for the team. Clint wanted to be out fighting instead of sitting on his ass in the Quinjet twiddling his thumbs while he waited for everyone to be done with their tasks. But of course, he agreed with Phil’s judgment to keep him out of danger.
Naturally it would be assumed that their team mates would start to feel animosity toward Clint, it would seem to an outsider that Phil favored Clint. But they knew that wasn’t true; had any of them been in a position they couldn’t take on a physical fight, Phil would bench them until they could fight again.
Listening to the static over comms and the occasional chatter from the team, Clint quickly became bored waiting. He tried to keep himself from falling into a boredom induced sleep and made a little paperclip/rubber band bow and a little arrow made from a scrap piece of paper folded until it was hard enough to at least sting.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get to test out the annoyance of his new toy; he prematurely shot the arrow out of the open jet back. He groaned, now bored and annoyed with himself, and turned to the dash to make another arrow.
With his back turned, Clint didn’t see a pair of teenagers seem to appear out of nowhere. He wasn’t aware of their presence until the boy clattered around Bruce’s work station; making him turn quickly with his gun pointed at the boy.
But he was gone again before Clint could blink, leaving the girl staring at him; pale face two shades whiter and eyes wide as Tony’s fancy china plates. He turned the gun on her, sending her back a step scared.
Before he could get to his feet, Phil came in carting the boy unconscious over his shoulder; the rest of the team not far behind him. He deposited the boy in a bunk room as Tony stepped up to take Clint’s place piloting the Quinjet back home.
“Okay, what’s going on?” Clint asked looking around at everyone cluelessly.
“HYDRA was experimenting on them.” Natasha replied, giving the girl a blanket and sitting her down. Steve brought her a warmed mug of soup then went to make his reports.
Clint sat down beside her carefully, standing in the moving Quinjet making him nauseated again. He instinctively reached for Phil’s hand as he sat down, choking back bile he felt rising in his throat.
He sat listening to Phil question the young girl, his heart aching as he listened to her story. She had been abandoned as an infant and HYDRA doctors found her. She and the boy grew up in the hive knowing each other as siblings, though a rogue goon later revealed they weren’t related; just two orphans used in Dr. List’s horrible experiments.
The sexual abuse details had Clint hurrying to the lavatory with Natasha on his heels and standing over him as he got sick in the toilet. Phil excused himself from Wanda and hurried to check on Clint, giving Natasha the clip board so she could finish talking to the girl.
He crouched as best as he could in the tiny doorway, reaching to wet a few paper towels when Clint flushed and laid his head down on his arm with an exhausted groan.
“Are you OK?” he asked, gently cleaning Clint’s face.
Clint groaned again but nodded, letting a slow breath out through his nose. “Bean does not appreciate flying at all. Been holding that in for a little while.”
After a few minutes Phil got Clint to his feet and back to sit down again, giving him some cold water to sip on for a little bit. Phil wrapped Clint in a blanket and sat down, hugging Clint into his arms.
“So, how are we doing here?” he asked.
Natasha shrugged and shook her head, signing the paperwork before giving it to Wanda to sign. “So far, she wants to help end those bastards. She said getting Pietro to agree might be a battle though; but maybe him seeing her cooperating with us will convince him to help out.”
“They deserve to suffer.” Wanda muttered into her soup, taking a sip. Phil didn’t expect to see her eyes flash red for a moment, but then reminded himself she was enhanced and had powers due to the experiments.
Clint reached out carefully and took Wanda’s hand, giving it a slight squeeze; feeling her relax with his touch. Phil suspected Clint would keep a close watch over her, her past experience with abuse nearly mirrored his own and he felt oddly protective of her. Wanda wanted to take her hand away but something about his touch seemed familiar; it was definitely a comforting touch; but she couldn’t place where she had felt such a feeling before.
“We’ll make them suffer horribly, baby girl.” Clint mumbled tiredly into Phil’s neck; making the other three look at him confused.
“Excuse him, he tends to talk out of his head when he feels ill,” Natasha told her carefully, eyeing Clint suspicious.
Wanda just shrugged and settled into the blanket around her shoulders with a sigh; not taking her hand out of Clint’s grasp.
A week later Wanda and Pietro Maximoff were welcomed into S.H.I.E.L.D. and at Phil’s demand, living with the Avengers team in Manhattan. He wanted to keep an eye on the two and Clint repeatedly harassed him about at least getting Wanda to their home.
Fury only agreed because none of his agents wanted to take the two on and train them.
At least with the team, Clint could make sure Wanda was never in a situation where she was abused ever again.
Tony bought the teens new clothes and started working on designing their uniforms knowing Phil would want them to start training immediately and get on their team officially as soon as possible. He wanted to be ready before the uniforms were actually needed.
Phil gave them a few days to settle in before he started them with the team, impressed by Pietro’s enhanced speed and Wanda’s ability to control another’s mind as well as some telekinesis abilities. He did not like the way Pietro antagonized Clint though, knowing the only thing keeping Clint from stabbing the boy was the fact that he was five months pregnant.
Both teens took a liking to Clint despite Pietro’s antics and surprised everyone when they took the revelation of Clint’s status and pregnancy well. Neither really understood what Transgender meant and Wanda had asked if Clint had been experimented on as well and the pregnancy was the result.
After a busy day of training, Phil came home; finding Clint napping on the couch peacefully. He crept quietly to the bedroom to take a shower, working quick so he could order dinner before Clint woke up. He showered and dressed, ordering dinner before going back to the living room.
Clint still slept; Phil quickly muffled a laugh when he saw Clint holding onto his old hoodie; breathing Phil’s scent deeply from the fabric as he slept. He wouldn’t let go of the garment, even after a laundry disaster that resulted in it being almost shredded and burned in a few places.
He crouched beside the couch, raking his fingers through Clint’s hair gently, and leaned in; kissing him. Clint flinched and swiped at his nose, huffing.
“Lucky stop,” he mumbled, snuggling deeper into the couch. “Use the piss pad on the balcony.”
Phil huffed and kissed him again, this time firm enough Clint would know he wasn’t the dog pestering him.
Clint snorted and woke, looking at Phil blurry eyed. Phil smiled, fingers resuming in Clint’s hair, letting him put in his hearing aids.
“You should go ahead and wake up, my love,” he said softly. “I ordered dinner after I came home and saw you sleeping. Don’t want you up on your feet trying to cook.”
Clint sat up with a grunt, groaning as he leaned back against Phil. He took Phil’s arms and wrapped them around his growing stomach; putting Phil’s hands over where he felt the start of fetal movements.
“Probably not the smartest thing to fall asleep on the couch; my back fucking hurts.”
“I’ll get the muscle rub out later. Been a while since I got to rub on you.”
Clint snorted a laugh. “Don’t pretend you didn’t grab ass me all last night; fakin’ being asleep and having sex dreams.”
“Can you blame me?” he chuckled, kissing Clint again. “I have you beside me all night, and your ass fits so well in my hands; especially with the workouts you and Nat have been doing lately.”
Clint just shook his head and squirmed to get comfortable as he could with his aching back; laying his legs over Phil’s lap and nudging him until he scooted flush beside him; helping support Clint’s ass on his thigh. Having one of Phil’s arms wedged in his back helped keep it slightly bent so it wasn’t feeling like he was putting too much pressure against it. Phil sent a message to the lobby receptionist to have the assistant tasked with bringing their dinner up to walk in since he couldn’t be bothered to get out from under Clint long enough to answer the door.
He was comfortable and didn’t want to move more than absolutely necessary.
Clint surprised Phil at school, almost giddy when he came into the full classroom; interrupting the day’s lesson. Luckily, Clint disrupted fourth period and that class liked seeing him. Phil was certainly happy to see him, droll expression quickly brightening.
The class playfully wolf whistled and cat called when Phil stopped the lesson long enough to steal a quick kiss and helped Clint settle in his chair behind his desk; taking a moment to make sure he was comfortable before resuming with the class. Clint couldn’t keep his eyes off Phil as he talked to the students, letting his eyes linger on Phil’s ass in his tailored slacks until a few students caught him and began snickering.
Phil was not going to blush under Clint’s gaze in front of his students; he was going to power through with his lesson plan. His attempts worked until another hushed round of snickers came from his left side. He let out an unintentional chuckle, moving to sit on the desk and block their view of Clint.
Clint leaned to the side so they would see him, making an exaggerated WOW face; eyes on Phil’s ass again. The students’ laughter erupted. Phil turned and looked at Clint, seeing him obviously feigning innocence; thumbing through a confiscated library book Phil had to take from a student disrupting an earlier class.
“Don’t think I won’t send you to the principal’s office,” he teased, smiling. Clint held the book in front of his face to cover his smile; body trembling with suppressed laughter.
“Maybe a kiss to make up for it might work?” a girl suggested, getting a few agreements. Soon a chant demanding a kiss rolled through the class.
Phil wasn’t one to shy away from a PDA but he felt it was a bit unprofessional if he kissed anyone in front of his students. Clint didn’t expect him to give in, knowing how he presented himself in a respectable and professional manner; especially in a public setting.
“I’ll get my kiss later, y’all are too young to see something so graphic,” Clint told the class, seeing the tension in Phil’s shoulders ease away again as he stood to return to his podium at the head of the class.
He found himself entranced by the lesson, always willing to learn something if Phil taught him. He sat listening, not even realizing he took his own notes; only the things he found truly interesting.
Who knew having a history professor husband would be something Clint would love about his life?
At lunch, with Clint still at the school with Phil, they went to the cafeteria together to grab something to eat. Phil put a few items on a tray and took Clint to pay at the registers, then led him out of the cafeteria to the teachers’ lounge. Clint sat on the small couch at the far wall, pulling the latest ultrasound pictures out of his pocket carefully. Phil was too busy setting up their food to notice at first but then realized Clint put something on his thigh; making him look down curious.
“What’s this?” he asked, smiling immediately when he recognized the telltales of an ultrasound. He studied the pictures for a moment. He had never seen one with two placement markers for a single fetus.
One picture proudly announced they were having a girl; Phil smiled and chuckled, heart starting to beat excitedly.
Another announced they were having a boy as well. Slowly Phil’s brain started to catch up.
“Twins?!” he asked almost too loud in his happiness, making another teacher pause as she came in for lunch. “Really, twins? One of each?”
Clint’s grin almost hurt, but it was worth the pain to see Phil so excited. “I literally screamed; scared the shit outta Stark. I couldn’t wait until you got home to tell you.”
Phil leaned up and kissed Clint finally. “Twins,” he said again, looking at the pictures in pure amazement and love. Clint scooted to him and pecked away the tears Phil hadn’t realized started to creep down his cheeks.
“Doc says everyone’s healthy and growing normally. Little Miss is just a smidge smaller than Bean but he says that’s common. Said you’re doing so much good taking care of us and making sure I do everything right.”
When Phil came back to reality he saw his co-workers had gathered around curiously; all chittering excitedly about the news. Instead of the usual bitch fest the teachers shared during their lunch break, they gathered and discussed babies and pregnancy. Phil invited them to come for their baby shower when one offered to host and Clint told them Tony insisted on having it at the tower. Tony had wanted to do a gender reveal party and surprise Phil; but Clint was too excited, so they compromised for the baby shower.
When the bell rang ending lunch Phil took Clint back to his classroom; putting the ultrasound pictures up on his whiteboard with a little magnet, drawing a heart around it in a proud display. He planned on keeping it hanging up until their babies were born.
Clint got comfortable at Phil’s desk when Phil pulled another more comfortable chair out of a small storage closet then took his seat to go over a few things for his planning period; keeping Clint’s surely swollen feet up in his lap.
“So, now we get to start going through names.”
Phil nodded, rubbing Clint’s ankle. “We should incorporate your mom’s name somehow.”
Clint shrugged, hand rubbing his stomach slowly. “Or we can just do both of your parents. I mean, sure Mama was an angel but if any of her family found out I had the balls to name my kid after Mama myself.”
He trailed off when Phil stopped writing and turned to look at him dumbly.
“Anyone who has kids has to ask Papa Joe what he’s chosen to name the baby.”
“That is insane, and so fucking controlling I can’t even begin to believe he’s serious. You had to call him when Lila was born, too?”
Clint nodded, fidgeting nervous now. “Had to.”
Phil shook his head, taking Clint’s hand firm. “Well you know what? This time, fuck him. We’re naming our babies, not him or anyone else. How are they even gonna know?”
Fidgeting almost scared now, Clint sighed and put his feet to the floor; bending over his lap as best as he could. Phil turned to him, taking Clint’s hands off his face and holding them in his own.
“I had to call them when we found out I’m pregnant and now I’m gonna have to call and tell them it’s twins and one of each. I don’t want to, but it’s his family rules.”
“No, fuck him and all that shit. These are our babies, he’s not even gonna come around to see them so he does not get the right to name them.”
“Will you call and tell him that?” Clint challenged. “You can try but I guarantee it ain’t gonna work.”
Phil leaned over and kissed Clint, calming him again. “I’ll take care of it, my love; don’t worry,” he promised softly; loving on Clint until he settled then went back to his lesson planning, one hand soothing on Clint’s stomach as he worked.
Calling Clint’s family proved to be a mistake on Phil’s part; inadvertently making things worse for his love. Nobody expected Clint’s cousins and aunt to show up; nobody in his family was supposed to know how to find him.
But, for all the bad the unexpected visitors brought; they also brought some good. True, Aunt Gertie still dead named Clint; his status confusing her expectedly; but she was trying to correct herself. That was an improvement to Clint’s life.
His five cousins however were awful to him; purposely dead naming and misgendering him. Though it only took one incident for Phil to send the five men retreating. The eldest son assaulted Clint physically; punching his stomach hard.
Phil attacked instinctively and vicious; prompting the other four to jump into the fight. JARVIS sent an alert to the team, bringing them running to help Phil. Natasha saw Clint in the kitchen floor, Aunt Gertie feebly tending to him, and went down to assist him; leaving the men to fight. She hauled Clint to his feet and rushed him to Medical, worried about the babies.
Back in the suite the men fought hard, fists flying and punches landing wildly. Phil stayed honed in on the one who punched Clint, getting more than a few good punches to the man’s face and breaking bones easily.
Hulk burst out ferociously and roared, ready to attack. The cousins retreated terrified of the humongous green beast. Phil rushed away to find Clint, knowing Natasha had him. Thor followed worriedly.
Aunt Gertie sat down at the table, weeping worried and shameful of her sons’ actions. Tony spotted her and sat down to check on her, giving her a few napkins to wipe her tears away.
“I’m so sorry,” she wept, snuffling. “They know better than to behave like that. I don’t know why they did this.”
Tony shook his head, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. “You can’t blame yourself for how your kids behave; it’s not a reflection on you as much as it is a blaring sign for others to see they’re probably not too good. Parents can be the best parents in the world and still their kids turn out to be assholes. They’re just really lucky Coulson didn’t take their heads and their balls.”
Aunt Gertie sighed shakily. “Where’s Cyndi?”
He was confused for a moment then realized she meant Clint, in her frazzled state she naturally forgot that was no longer his name. He nodded and stood, helping Aunt Gertie to her feet and escorting her out of the suite to go to Medical and find Clint.
While Clint was busy getting settled in a tiny room, on Dr. Miller’s order he had to stay overnight for observation, needing Phil and Natasha’s help getting out of his clothes and into a too large hospital gown; he didn’t want to jostle the fetal heart monitors on his stomach, Tony brought Aunt Gertie into the room.
She stopped when she saw Clint settling into the bed; round stomach poking out of the hospital gown before Natasha covered him; her heart breaking again. Tony encouraged her forward, helping her sit in the chair Natasha stood from.
“What’d Miller say?” Tony asked standing at the bedside, hand still on Aunt Gertie’s shoulder.
“Looks good so far but we’re staying overnight just in case.” Phil replied, rubbing Clint’s stomach under the gown. “I swear to fuck if those bastards come back, Stark.”
“I know,” he sighed, nodding. “If it makes you feel any better, Clint; they all shit themselves when Banner let Hulk come out to play.”
Clint snorted mirthlessly, free hand fidgeting with the blankets on his lap, head laid back feeling the affects of the light sedative he was given to calm down. He expected Aunt Gertie to be mad at him for the fight and didn’t want to see the hate in her old blue eyes.
“Marty is such an asshole,” Aunt Gertie muttered. “I certainly didn’t raise them to be heathens like that.”
He let out a breath and turned to her finally, frowning. “Guess Dad’s curse bled over to Mama’s side.” He looked over at Phil, eyes wide. “What if that’s why we’ve had so much trouble with kids?”
Phil shook his head, lifting Clint’s hand and giving it a kiss. “You’re not cursed, we’ve just had some shitty things happen.”
“Think about it though. Think about who killed Lila and why; who on his side of my family got me mixed up with those assholes? There’s definitely a curse on the Barton name and anyone involved.”
“Your father was cursed, your brother is probably cursed; but not you,” Aunt Gertie put in, tone still upset. “You have too much of your mother in you, Cyndi. Shit sorry, no, Clint, right? I’ll get it right one of these times. Anyways, you’re like Edith; obviously in every way.”
“She’s right,” Tony agreed. “I mean, look at how you’re living now and had been since joining up with Eyepatch. I wouldn’t exactly call that cursed. You did get away from hell and get to so much better.”
Clint just sighed and shook his head, turning away from everyone and closing his eyes. Phil and Tony shared a look, neither surprised at Clint’s stubborn attitude. Tony stood with a nod, understanding Phil’s unasked request, and offered a hand to Aunt Gertie to help her back up to her feet.
“C’mon, I’ll show you to your new place and get you settled.”
Natasha returned as they left with an overnight bag for Phil, a nurse followed with a small cot so he would be somewhat comfortable and not have to leave Clint alone. Phil took his shredded hoodie out of the bag and laid it carefully over Clint’s chest, snorting a laugh when; with eyes still closed; Clint reached and hugged the garment, lifting the sleeve to his nose. Clint’s shoulders dropped slightly as he relaxed again. Phil helped set up the cot between the window and the bed where Clint laid; uselessly fluffing a pillow before plunking it down and reaching into the bag to see what all had been packed for them.
He put the lotions and Clint’s muscle rub on the windowsill, not remembering the last time he had seen the lotions and wondering why Natasha would have put them in the bag in the first place, then reached for his pajama pants and an old t-shirt.
Something clattered out of the bag and onto the floor. The noise got everyone’s attention; Phil hurriedly kicked the little vibrator under the cot before the nurse or Natasha could see it, hearing Clint take in a sharp inhale.
“Damn butterfingers.” Phil muttered, quick handing some lotion and pretending to pick it up off the floor; acting like that was the source of the noise. He could only hope he wasn’t blushing too much. “If you want I’ll put some on your feet later.”
Clint kept his eyes closed and forced himself to do breathing exercises to keep from laughing until the nurse left the room. He lost the fight when the door clicked shut and laughed almost too loud; covering his mouth as Phil chuckled helplessly with his head in his hands. Natasha looked at them concerned, brow arched. Phil took the vibrator out from under the cot, sending himself into another laughing fit when he saw Clint trembling with laughter and snorting. She didn’t see Phil shove the vibrator back into the bag.
She just shook her head at them and left the room so Clint could rest a while.
Clint calmed, reaching for Phil’s hand again, and let his eyes close after adjusting the bed to a comfortable position. Phil sat watching over his love, ready to fight and defend him against threats.
Clint survived his overnight stay in Medical and was released the next morning with both babies still healthy and unharmed by the assault from Marty. Phil was still livid but didn’t go looking for more trouble for Clint. He just brought him home and took care of his love.
Having Aunt Gertie staying at the tower for a while made Clint nervous; he expected more family to arrive and start another fight. But, he did always like her the few times he got to see her when he was a kid.
Aunt Gertie still worked to properly address Clint, getting his name right more often but still unintentionally misgendered him. Clint let that go knowing she was trying and that’s all he would ask of her.
The team got called out for a fight; Phil chose to have Clint stay home for his safety though he would be in constant communication with the team and helping monitor on a StarkPad. He stayed in the suite with Aunt Gertie, feeling like he had to protect her more than himself at the moment. Happy stayed with them to ease Phil’s worry and help out however he could.
Unfortunately, nobody planned for the possibility that the fight could be a distraction.
Clint fought Loki as much as he could but couldn’t defeat the god of mischief and the alien scepter he stole from S.H.I.E.L.D. and combined with the Tesseract cube. One touch from the scepter and Clint fell under Loki’s spell; becoming a helpless pawn in the fight.
Loki took Clint to the stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. jet and quickly put him to work searching for his next target; working alongside another captive, Dr. Selvig. They hit Germany first and Loki let himself be taken by Steve and the rest of the team. Clint led an attack on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Hellicarrier and his team mates.
Phil confronted Loki, but sadly lost the fight when the god tricked him and rammed the pointed end of the scepter through his chest.
By the time Natasha had Clint’s head bashed enough he came out of the mind control, Fury came over comms and declared Phil dead. She couldn’t tell Clint when she came to him in a small med bay to check on him. She knew she had to tell him, but she couldn’t.
The resulting escape, fight, and recapture of Loki went surprisingly quick with the team and S.H.I.E.L.D. working together to thwart an invasion attempt. After the pointless shawarma meal, they returned home to the tower. Natasha sent Clint to Medical for a full check over so she could prepare herself to deliver the devastating news of Phil’s death.
Clint just went through the check-up quietly, guilt weighing heavy on his shoulders. He planned to beg for the team’s forgiveness for his actions against them. After being released with just a sprained wrist, he went looking for Tony first; figuring he would be down in his lab tinkering with something.
Tony looked up when the lab doors swooshed open to let Clint inside, frowning at his downtrodden appearance. “Hey,” he greeted, pushing his safety goggles up to his forehead. “You good?”
Clint nodded, leaning on the edge of the workbench; crossing his arms over his chest. “I just wanna come say I’m sorry for all I did against y’all. I tried to fight but-”
“Mind control,” Tony reminded him gently. “It wasn’t really you; it was that Loki asshole. He’s the one who killed Phil and all the age-”
He stopped when Clint turned to him stunned, suddenly realizing nobody told him about Phil yet.
“What?!” Clint demanded angrily. “What do you mean killed Phil?!”
Tony cringed, taking a step back as Clint shoved at his various projects yelling at him. He called for Natasha hoping she could calm Clint down, letting him carry on and break things he could easily repair.
Natasha came running with Bruce and Thor close behind, hearing the commotion from Bruce’s lab. She ducked when Clint threw something heavy, hearing it hit Thor behind her.
“Why the fuck didn’t anyfuckingbody tell me Phil’s fucking dead, Natasha?!” Clint screamed at her, shoving Tony aside when he stepped up in an attempt to calm him down again. “I fucking asked you what the fuck I did and you didn’t fucking tell me shit! You’re supposed to be my best fucking friend and not keep fucking secrets from me!”
Tony caught Clint as he went down with a groan. Bruce had snuck up and gave him a sedative shot, laying him on the floor carefully. Natasha stood unable to move, guilt and grief hitting her.
Thor stepped up and scooped Clint carefully into his arms, following Bruce to take him upstairs. Natasha still stood, trembling as the three passed by her, fighting the crash of grief threatening to overtake her. Tony took her into a hug carefully, frowning when he heard a quiet snuffle from her.
Clint woke with a groan, looking around the dimly lit bedroom. He spotted Thor in the armchair by the window and sat up, hissing as pain shot through his back with the movement; hand going to his stomach when a baby shifted uncomfortably.
He sat a moment, huffing a breath, as he remembered where he had been before he woke up. In Tony’s lab viciously tearing up everything he touched after receiving news of Phil’s death. He let out a strangled sob, unable to keep it in. Thor stepped up and sat on the bed beside Clint; carefully hugging his grieving friend into his massive arms.
“What am I supposed to do now?”
Thor shook his head, trying to soothe Clint the same way he watched Phil so many times before. “I don’t know,” he admitted softly. “But, if you’ll allow me, I’ll help you however possible. I am so sorry for my brother’s actions against you and I know I can’t do anything to change it, but I will keep you and your children safe from harm.”
Clint huffed at him. “If you really want to help, do something to bring him back.”
Thor knew he couldn’t bring Phil back though. “I can’t, I’m sorry. If I knew how, but it’s not possible.” He let his own tears fall as Clint broke down again and sobbed hopelessly against Thor’s chest.
After an hour of holding his broken friend, Natasha came into the bedroom with Tony; both feeling guilty and grieving. Natasha went to her knees in front of them, carefully putting her hands on Clint’s thighs getting his attention. Clint opened his eyes and glared at her, clinging tighter to Thor so he couldn’t swing out at her.
He did understand why she didn’t tell him what happened but still felt betrayed by her.
“Fury needs us in D.C., he says it’s mandatory; especially you.” Tony said from the doorway. “Says it’s about Phil.”
“Come on, Clint,” Natasha urged gently. “We gotta go.”
Still glaring, Clint let Thor help him to his feet and followed them out of the suite and to the hangar. Tony stepped up to pilot their jet so Clint wouldn’t have to worry about it being so devastated. Clint moved almost robotically, letting Natasha help him out of his uniform and into comfortable clothes. He still wanted to hit her but didn’t, not wanting to lose her as well as Phil despite her lying to him so coldly.
At S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ Clint followed his team mates to Nick’s office, ignoring the threats shouted by his former friends and agents. He no longer cared if someone took him out; it would mean he had a chance of being reunited with Phil in death.
Nick looked up when they came into his office, sighing at Clint.
“You look horrible, Barton.”
Clint just huffed at him and sat down, crossing his arms again; ignoring Nick’s sorry attempt at acting like nothing was wrong. Nick sighed and sat up in his chair, folding his hands together on his desk. Clint cut him off before he could speak again.
“I want him buried with our daughter in Iowa,” he demanded, voice broken and rough. “He’s not gonna be put in an agency cemetery when that agency failed to prevent a take over that resulted in his death.”
“In his will-”
“I don’t fucking care!” Clint yelled loud. “You let that fucker trick us, let him take me fucking hostage and make me murder innocent fucking people, motherfucker! I don’t give one goddamn fuck what his will says; he was my husband; not this fucking agency’s! Fuck the will and do what I fucking say!”
Nick let out a slow breath, expecting Clint’s anger and letting him yell, eye going to his computer screen for a moment scanning over an email about an experiment from his scientists.
“What if I can fix it?” he asked.
The fight left Clint quickly, stunning him to silence for a moment. “What do you mean by that shit? He’s fucking dead, you can’t fix shit for dead.”
Nick just smiled and approved the experiment to be done on Phil.
Clint got out of Tony’s limo and started back into the tower, not caring if his luggage made it upstairs or not. The team had just gotten home from the airport after taking a weekend flight to Iowa. He wanted to be alone for a while and hide away from everyone, but he knew eventually he’d have a visitor harassing him again.
JARVIS took him upstairs without prompt, opening the elevator doors on his floor. Clint walked into the now much too big suite, smelling something baking in the kitchen. Curious, he went to see what Aunt Gertie was doing; finding her taking another batch of sweet cakes out of the oven.
Lucky sat out of the way so he wouldn’t accidentally trip her, watching her and waiting for a treat to drop to the floor.
“What’s all this?” he asked. The counters and breakfast bar were all covered in flour and baked goods.
“For you and your friends, Dear,” she replied, shuffling over to Clint. “After a funeral, you gather with loved ones for a meal. I have other foods cooking in their kitchens, that electronic butler is so helpful with that.”
Clint sighed and shook his head, rubbing his tired eyes for a moment. “J, what’s going on?” He hoped Aunt Gertie was only confused and hadn’t taken over every suite to cook for everyone on her own.
“She insisted, Agent Barton,” the A.I. replied. Clint could swear he heard a hint of a grin in the voice. “Mr. Stark and the others are just discovering the food and will bring everything shortly.”
Another sigh, this time annoyed and exhausted. “Gods I don’t want company,” he almost whined, going to the bedroom to change and hide. He put on a long night shirt, getting too round for too many pants, and grabbed Phil’s shredded hoodie then went to the bathroom. He locked the door then got into the tub, curling up with the hoodie as best as he could in the cramped space; knees bent up as far as he could on his stomach. He just wanted to disappear for a while and ignore the world.
The others changed out of their dress clothes and brought the food to Clint’s suite, finding Aunt Gertie setting the table alone. Thor set the heavy roasting pan down on the cooling rack and stepped to take the dishes she tried to carry from the kitchen, sitting her in a chair.
Natasha put the candied carrots and yams on the table then went to find Clint. JARVIS let her into the bathroom and she frowned when she saw Clint hiding with the ratted hoodie. She took a moment to fight back a fresh wave of tears before stepping up and going to her knees in the floor.
“Just left a biddy old lady in there to fend for herself against Tony Stark?” she tried to tease, brushing a bit of hair out of his eyes. “She did cook some amazing looking food; you should come at least say hi to everyone; let them know you’re alright.”
“I just saw them five minutes ago, if they think something happened to me in that short of time, they’re dumb. I just wanted to come home and ignore the world for a few hours. I didn’t know she did all this. It’s too formal and all that fancy shit; it’s too good for me to join you. I don’t fit in with something so nice and homey looking.”
She sat up and reached for the cold water tap; lifting the button to turn on the showerhead, giving him a challenging grin. “I could just turn this on and walk away.”
Clint glared at her and lifted his foot carefully, pressing down on her hand until she released the tap and sat down again. “Why can’t I just be left alone?”
“Because your eighty-year-old aunt cooked a nice meal for you out of the goodness of her heart. Now either you get up on your own and come with me, you don’t even need pants, or I’ll have Thor come pick you up and carry you again stubborn ass.”
He rolled his eyes and groaned, giving in to avoid the embarrassment of Thor carrying him out; holding a hand out for Natasha needing help getting up and out of the tub. She smiled victoriously and helped him stand, pulling the hem of Clint’s night shirt down to cover his ass fully knowing he didn’t want to be out on display in the maternity underwear he wore.
She would have to see about going shopping for a few pairs of pants he could wear at home.
Back in the dining room they found everyone waiting; passing around various dishes to each other. He tried not to pout as he sat down beside Natasha, having to bite back a protest of Steve being at the head of the table in Phil’s usual spot. Natasha glared at him for a moment before looking across the table at Tony expectantly.
Steve had not done anything to deserve sitting in Phil’s seat.
Tony shrugged, signing to her that he would talk to Steve at a more appropriate moment. She nodded, her attention going to Clint when he grabbed his plate and drink; leaving the table and going to sit on the couch. Natasha stood, taking cues from him, and started gathering hers to follow him; putting her plate and drink on the coffee table to come back and help bring Aunt Gertie to join them.
She met the others’ confused looks with a slight glare; prompting them to follow suit and get to the living room. She settled Aunt Gertie in a chair she could get in and out of, giving her a TV tray for her food so she wouldn’t have to balance anything on her lap.
The guys all settled in the floor after moving the elegant armchairs out of the way.
Clint settled Lucky between him and Natasha on the couch, using his round stomach to balance his plate with Lucky’s head on his lap in the way. Natasha tried to discreetly snap a picture of him but he saw and flipped off the camera just as she snapped the picture; making her laugh.
He didn’t feel like smiling but being up to their antics usually made him feel better when he was down.
“Please let me save that one for my background,” she laughed. “That’s so fucking you it’s not funny at all.”
“Natasha, language.” Aunt Gertie chided gently, making the team laugh.
Natasha apologized snickering, putting her phone away. Clint nudged her playfully with his foot, teasing her about being called out.
Clint was all too glad to be rid of his guests. He grabbed the hoodie off the bathroom floor and planted himself in bed; inhaling the nearly faded scent from the garment and closing his eyes.
A moment later he felt the bed dip and shift, making his eyes snap open startled; but he calmed when he saw it was only Natasha coming in to bunk with him. He relaxed as she snuggled up behind him, wrapping an arm around him and taking his hand firmly.
Clint let out a slow breath and closed his eyes again, hoping tonight the twins behaved and stayed still long enough for him to get a little rest. He felt safer with Natasha sharing a bed with him, he wouldn’t let anyone else sleep on Phil’s side of the bed and was still upset that Steve tried to take over Phil’s place at the table. He knew she would watch over him and keep evil away.
ok, admission. I don't know the full process of labor and delivery, I've never witnessed a human birth; only kittens and puppies lol. so, if it's not exactly right; forgive me.
Phil should have been there with Clint for appointments and to share the joy of pregnancy. But it seemed S.H.I.E.L.D. would do anything to get in the way and ruin everything. Natasha and Tony accompanied Clint to his appointments and traded off staying with him at home, but Clint just wanted Phil back.
Now nearly eight months along and wider than he’d ever thought possible, Clint had to go through another pregnancy milestone without Phil at his side. He only agreed to Tony’s baby shower to get him to stop going on about it.
It was rough being surrounded by so many and not have the one person he wanted most to be there.
Clint was confined to a plush chair in the lounge, swollen feet he hadn’t seen in months resting on an ottoman, and only allowed up to go to the bathroom. Natasha and Wanda assisted him there, helping him with the custom-tailored pants Tony had made for him.
He felt like stabbing Tony for adding an elastic belt to the pants to keep them from falling off; the buckle was more than a hassle with his large stomach in the way. But they wouldn’t let him run around in one of Hulk’s massive shirts in front of so many guests.
Among the guests were some of Phil’s former co-workers from school and nearly half of his students. Clint easily recognized Phil’s fourth period students, knew all of them by name even, but the others he didn’t know too well.
He vaguely recognized Phil’s brother, who hadn’t attended their wedding and Clint only met a few times over the years, but that telling Coulson chin kind of gave him away.
He watched everyone playing Tony’s silly baby themed games and trying to enjoy themselves, but he couldn’t find joy in the rainbow of colored streamers and decorations. It just reminded him that Phil wasn’t there with him to see all of it.
With a sigh he turned onto his side in the chair and huddled himself under a little lap blanket, closing his eyes and letting out a slow breath as tears welled again and ran down his face.
Thor noticed Clint slumped and fighting back his emotions. He set down his drink and went to his friend; crouching beside the chair and hugging Clint into his arms firm; but being careful not to hurt him or the babies.
Clint sniffled, wanting to push away but wanting to be held at the same time, going stiff for a moment before forcing himself to relax slightly into Thor’s chest. Thor put a hand on Clint’s stomach and rubbed in an effort to settle the squirming babies and comfort him.
“Get me outta here,” Clint pleaded helplessly. “I don’t care what you have to do, just get me the fuck outta here. I can’t take it anymore.”
Thor picked him up carefully and stood, carrying him away and to the elevator. Natasha sighed disappointed that Clint was retreating already, but didn’t try to stop him. She knew he wouldn’t last the entire party. She stood and slinked away to follow, telling Tony it was close to time for wrapping everything up. They would take the gifts up to Clint later and help him get everything sorted.
Thor put Clint on the couch, taking the time to make sure he was comfortable, then went to the kitchen to make him something to drink.
Clint groaning painfully had Thor rushing back to the living room worried; finding him curled up in pain and holding his stomach.
“What is it?” he asked, crouching to help as Natasha came into the suite. She hurried to them when she heard another loud groan.
“Fuck,” Clint moaned, feeling the stabbing pain of contractions starting. “Goddammit not fucking yet.”
Thor looked up at Natasha worriedly. “It could just be Braxton-Hicks,” she told them, sitting down. “Just lie back and let’s see how they do.”
Clint laid back again, catching Thor’s hand with another hard contraction and a kick to his bladder.
“Goddammit Nat, just pissed myself. Fucking pants.” She just nodded and worked with Thor to get the wet pants off him. Thor stood and grabbed a clean puppy pad to put under Clint, just in case another leak happened.
Clint laid panting, grateful when the pain started to subside, groaning pitifully. He couldn’t focus on anything and didn’t know that Natasha checked him and found he was starting to dilate just a little bit.
“I still say it’s not actual contractions yet, but we should call Dr. Miller and let him know so they can get ready, just in case.”
“No, I’m not going to Medical. I’m doing it here; I’ve already told Miller and he’s agreed to let me. I can’t do it there.” He took a moment to sip on the water Thor brought to him and started his breathing exercises.
She nodded and stood, going to the bedroom to get the bed ready and supplies set out. She gave the little pool that hadn’t been in the bedroom that morning a curious look; it was inflating itself and water filled it from somewhere.
“JARVIS, what the hell’s that for?”
“Mr. Stark had it installed. Agent Barton has requested a water birth.”
“So, it’s not Braxton-Hicks?”
“No, Agent Romanoff. In my research I’ve found that multiples tend to come a little early and according to vitals and scans; they’ve run out of room in the womb and labor has initiated.”
“Dammit,” she huffed then went to the bathroom to collect towels; putting a wide ring around the pool to keep the carpet mostly dry and a couple stacks on the end of the bed for easy access. “Can you determine how long this will take?”
“Agent Barton is still several hours away from delivering.”
Natasha bit back a groan and went back to the living room, finding Clint laying peacefully for now with Thor sitting and watching over him while they watched a basketball game on tv. She sent an alert to Dr. Miller as she folded down into a chair to wait.
Nearing hour seven of labor, with his team mates ready to help and Aunt Gertie unable to contain her excitement, Clint felt hopeless. He tried walking to move labor along, he tried relaxing in a hot bath; hoping to soothe his nerves, the exercise ball Dr. Miller sent up didn’t last long enough to progress anything. It popped as soon as Clint sat on it, sending him crashing painfully to the floor.
That mixed with all the pain just upset him more.
The eighth hour came and Clint was barely five centimeters dilated.
By hour ten Clint was exhausted and dilated to seven. Still he refused an epidural knowing he could take the pain; he was afraid the pain medication would harm the babies.
Hour twelve brought a stall in dilation and increased pain. Clint wouldn’t listen to Tony encouraging him to take the epidural. He could deliver the babies without it easier than he could with it; so he told himself.
But finally, at hour fifteen, with Clint half crazed from the pain, he was in the birthing pool almost screaming with his efforts to deliver the babies. Thor was elected to be the one holding onto Clint, letting him squeeze, bite, and shove being the one who would have the least amount of damage done.
Natasha assisted Dr. Miller in the birthing pool, coaching Clint to breathe and push; not fazed when he yelled at her in desperation.
Tony and the rest of the team stayed out of the way in the living room, waiting anxiously to hear the first cry from the bedroom; though Wanda and Pietro watched from the doorway when they heard the delivery finally happening.
Clint groaned and almost went limp when pressure suddenly released as the first baby was finally delivered and brought out of the water to clean his airways. Natasha called for Bruce to come assist her and do the after birth tasks for the baby so she could help deliver the second.
Clint panted breathless, no longer trying to keep in his tears when he heard the baby crying loud. He desperately wanted Phil to be there to witness the birth of their babies and again he was broken knowing that was impossible now.
By the time he was able to catch his breath again, it was time to start pushing for the second baby. Clint was more than exhausted and, in more pain, than he could have ever imagined but he worked to deliver the baby, pushing his body more than he had before.
When Dr. Miller raised her head out of the water and cleared her airways; she cried loud, louder than her brother. Bruce took her while Dr. Miller and Natasha finished with Clint and got him cleaned and dried so he could be put in bed. Clint didn’t argue when Natasha took his wet shirt, leaving him naked, trying to breath and loosen his too tense muscles. Thor scooped him up again and carried him over to the bed, helping him use the towels to dry off; making sure there was plenty of puppy pads under Clint before settling him and going to look for a shirt he could put on.
Clint came back to reality when Bruce laid his babies on his bare chest; tears instantly falling again holding them close. He wasn’t aware of everyone working together to clean the massive mess, awestruck by his babies.
There was no denying they were indeed Phil’s children. The boy had the Coulson chin and the girl most definitely had Phil’s crystal blue eyes.
Grief overwhelmed him again but he couldn’t look away from the two that were tearing his heart to pieces.
The first week with the twins was hectic, but everyone pitched in to help Clint. Natasha stayed with him to help overnight, more or less moving into the suite with him and Aunt Gertie. Clint was grateful for his family’s selflessness, but he just wanted Phil.
Nobody expected him to just get over the loss like so many would tell him to do. They knew how much they loved each other and knew grief wasn’t something that just magically stopped.
After the first month Clint had a sort of routine with the twins. Tandem feedings worked best for the three, lessening some of the stress. He tried a scheduled nap time but quickly abandoned it; it seemed they would nap whenever they wanted and he just had to accept their terms. Surviving diaper changes for one newborn was a task and a half; adding a second would have seemed impossible if it wasn’t for the others stepping up to help.
Tony ordered Clint benched while he recovered, which Clint hated but agreed with because he could barely make it to the bathroom without feeling like his pelvis had been shattered. Natasha joked that Clint had started a love affair with his heating pad because he had to use it so often.
But Clint wouldn’t let them talk him out of taking the twins to Phil’s grave. So, they just helped him pack everything he would need for the twins and Natasha and Bruce went with him to help him get around.
Bruce drove them from the airport to the cemetery. Clint carried Jonathan, Natasha carried Natalie; she and Bruce held onto Clint, helping him walk on the snowy ground. He let out a broken sigh when they came to the three nearly matching headstones, hanging onto Natasha a little tighter while Bruce set down a blanket for him to sit on in front of the headstones; helping him get settled. Natasha sat down beside him with Natalie, letting Clint lean onto her tiredly. Bruce stood back from them, letting Clint have some privacy, leaning against the cemetery fence to wait.
They only stayed half an hour, not wanting the twins to get unnecessarily cold.
While loading up the van another vehicle arrived. Clint recognized a few of his former fellow agents and let out a groan, not wanting to deal with them; retreating to the rental van.
Natasha went to Melinda and Leo, greeting them amicably despite the ill feelings she had for S.H.I.E.L.D., putting on a smile.
Melinda went to her, a slight frown on her face. “I think it’s safe to assume you guys haven’t heard the truth.”
“Safe to assume since S.H.I.E.L.D. likes to keep secrets,” she replied with a shrug. “What’s going on?”
“I’m probably putting a target on my head for this, but you all need to know. You really should come with us. We’d have come sooner but none of us really trust Stark because he’s so close to the enemy; we’ve been watching and waiting for a chance to catch you and Barton away from him.”
Natasha shook her head and crossed her arms. “What are we gonna see if we come with you?”
“Phil’s not dead,” she replied, almost flooring Natasha. “Fury pulled some experimental shit and scrambled his brain. He’s Phil, but he has no memory of Barton.”
She snorted stunned, glaring for a moment. “Then who’s buried here? It was an open casket service; I saw Phil dead in the casket myself.”
“Remember the LMD project?”
Natasha shook her head again, huffing a breath. “Fury wouldn’t do that, would he?” she asked. “Are you sure the Phil you’re with isn’t an LMD?”
Melinda nodded, pulling a few pictures out of her coat and giving them to Natasha. The pictures showed Phil with a new team. Natasha inspected the pictures carefully, looking for him. One picture showed Phil in basketball shorts, in a gym playing a game of basketball with Leo and Mack; it showed a clear shot of a little-known scar on Phil’s abdomen, an appendix scar that healed strangely leaving a starfish shaped scar.
It wasn’t in Phil’s physical appearance file so S.H.I.E.L.D. would be able to identify him from an imposter.
“This doesn’t make any sense. Why would Fury lie like this?”
“Because him and Pierce are homophobic fuck faces,” Leo grumbled, huddled in on himself against the cold. “Now come on, I’m fuckin’ freezin’ out here.”
Natasha groaned and went back to the van to tell Bruce and Clint everything, angry and hurt by the horrible deception that was uncovered. “We need to follow them,” she told Bruce as she got into the van and sat down. “Nick fucking Fury and his lies. Again. Because him and Pierce are fucking assholes.”
He frowned but started the van and pulled away from the cemetery to follow the dark SUV away without question. When Natasha was pissed, you obeyed her no matter what.
“Fuck!” she hissed, wanting to crumple the pictures and tear them apart. “Goddammit Clint, that motherfucker. I swear I will take his fucking head my goddamn self for this bullshit. He’s probably been planning this shit the whole goddamn time.”
Clint could only sit quietly, breath hitched in his chest tight; fear falling onto him heavy. He couldn’t speak.
They arrived at an abandoned airfield. Natasha recognized the large plane, The Bus, that S.H.I.E.L.D. denied existed to any agent who asked about it. Again, she helped Clint carry the twins; putting on her stone-faced mask as they followed Melinda and Leo into the plane.
Melinda led them to an office, sighing; hand on the knob. “Barton, I know you don’t want to but you and Nat really need to put the babies down before you walk in here.”
That raised every alarm in Clint, making him hold Natalie a little firmer and back up a step. “You just try, I’ll down you without waking her.”
Melinda sighed at him, hands going to her hips. “Don’t be a stubborn asshole.”
Natasha passed Jonathan to Bruce and turned to take Natalie; giving Clint a stern glare, quietly telling him to listen to her and trust her. Against his better judgment, Clint sighed and gave his daughter to Bruce.
“You go somewhere you ain’t gonna fuckin’ let Greeny out,” he told Bruce firmly. Bruce gladly retreated and left the plane entirely.
Melinda held the doorknob again. “He’s not going to remember either of you, but don’t let that get to you. We need to figure shit out and find a way to fix everything.” She let out a huff, preparing herself for anger and knew Clint would be devastated, and opened the door to Phil’s new office.
“What the fuck!” Natasha shouted seeing Phil behind the desk talking to a younger woman.
Color drained from Clint’s face quickly. He stood shocked, seeing his confirmed deceased husband alive again. “Who the fuck are you?!”
Phil looked at the two confused, not recognizing either. “I’m Phil Coulson, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., who are you?”
“The fuck you are!” Clint spat, storming up to the desk; ignoring the pain that shot through him when he yanked Phil up by his shirt collar and slammed him into a wall hard; snatching at Phil’s face determined to rip off the mask he knew the poser wore.
Phil yelled out as Clint’s fingers dug into his cheek, quickly drawing blood, and instinctively pushed him away. Natasha caught and held Clint, fighting her own urge to jump Phil and hurt him.
“What’s going on?” Phil asked, taking a cloth from Skye for his wound.
Melinda put herself between the three, hands up to fend them off. “You remember the files and shit we found on project T.A.H.I.T.I.?”
Phil nodded, sitting down behind his desk. “Yeah, that’s how Fury brought me back to life after Manhattan, right?” Melinda nodded, making Clint and Natasha sit down; putting herself on the edge of the desk to stay between the three.
“We found notes. Fury ordered Phil’s brain completely wiped, gave him false memories and took out everything of his life before Manhattan and that bastard Loki. We believe Pierce ordered it though, but still; fucked up move. We wanted to right things again ‘cause it’s wrong to just completely wipe out somebody’s entire life like that. We’re gonna need your help getting the old Phil back; especially for your children.”
“I’m still so confused,” Phil spoke up.
Melinda turned to him. “You and Clint, you’ve been together for just about ten years; you got married almost a year ago. Then Manhattan, Loki, and Fury fucked everything up for you. So, we’re gonna work to help you remember the life that was taken away from you. Those random dreams you keep having of a faceless partner? Pretty sure it’s been Clint.”
Phil studied Clint for a minute then frowned at Melinda. “But the dreams clearly show a female.”
“We’ll get to that, don’t worry. Right now, we need to start slow and ease you two back into it.”
Phil was quiet for a moment, looking at Clint. He didn’t understand why he was so drawn to the man, but he felt like he needed to find out and rediscover his former life.
Melinda put Clint and Phil in a hidden safehouse, hoping Clint could help him remember their lives together. She would rather Phil stay on The Bus with their team but Clint refused to send the twins back to Manhattan without him and he would not raise them living on a giant airplane.
Natasha would return to Manhattan and discreetly gather everything Clint would need for the twins then bring it all to him at the safehouse; Melinda made her suspicious of Tony though. Made her wonder about the distrust Melinda and her team had for Tony.
Clint knew he had a rough time ahead, but he didn’t care. All he focused on was that he had Phil back. He could easily handle helping Phil remember him.
After Natasha dropped off a few boxes of stuff, helping Phil became easier. Clint started slow, making Phil a cup of his favorite coffee in his favorite mug and a special breakfast he knew would kick in some recognition. As he finished setting the table, Phil came out of the bedroom; fresh out of a shower and dressed comfortably.
He paused seeing the twins in their little bassinettes tucked in the corner behind the table where Clint would be able to reach them easily while he ate. Next, he saw the table set up with a few admittedly mouth-watering foods, the smell alone made Phil’s stomach rumble audibly. Clint set down two coffees then noticed him, giving a slight grin.
“Surprise,” he told Phil, gesturing at the layout of everything. He desperately wanted to stride over and give Phil a kiss, but they weren’t there yet; they weren’t even sleeping in the same room. “Made what was always one of your favorites.”
Phil smiled warmly, sitting down with him. “It does smell great and I’m stupid starving.” Clint watched Phil start to eat, picking at his own food not having much of an appetite at the moment. “I had one of those weird dreams again last night. The ones Melinda talked about, remember?”
He nodded, reaching over when Jonathan fussed for his pacifier. “Yeah.”
“She said it was probably you, but I don’t understand how that’d be since you’re a man and it was a female body. I mean, she had kinda boxy shoulders and a not so feminine build in general but she had female parts.”
Clint let out a slow sigh, closing his eyes for a moment to shove away heartache. “What do you know about Transgender people?”
Phil shrugged and shook his head. “I’ve been told some pretty negative stuff but honestly, I don’t get that part. I mean, they’re just people. Melinda said they feel like they were born in the wrong body. Some will choose to change sexes, get on hormones, and all that but some don’t feel a pressing need for that.”
“Do you see yourself ever getting with a Transgender person?”
He shrugged again. “If they had a good heart, yeah. Skye showed me some seriously vulgar pictures of porn performers and the bodies didn’t bother me. The painful looking sex acts though, I don’t understand that.”
“Yeah, probably not a good idea to be looking at porn for any reality on much of anything.” He paused for a moment, taking a sip of coffee to gather courage to come out to Phil all over again; hoping he again took the news positively. “So, how would you feel knowing I’m trans and we were together before Fury fucked us both?”
“So, it’s been you in the dreams?”
“Maybe,” he replied. “Does that bother you?”
Phil was quiet for a minute, considering; making Clint more nervous. He shook his head finally but still; Clint held his breath anxiously. “No. They’ve been some really good dreams and if we have a past life together; I believe it’s a little obvious there was love between us.”
Clint nodded, a little sadly, and let out his breath slowly through his nose. He hated hearing Phil talk about their relationship in the past tense. “I still love you, you fool,” he mumbled to himself, looking down at his food.
“Hmm?” Phil hummed around a bite.
Clint shook his head. “Nothin’, just mumbling about Fury still.” He felt awful for lying to Phil but he just didn’t see their attempts working. He could tell Phil about everything they shared in their life together but he wouldn’t let himself believe he would have his Phil back.
The rest of the meal was quiet. Clint took the dishes to the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher, then went to bring the bassinettes into the living room. His heart dropped when he saw the corner empty though and turned to look for his babies; letting out a groan of relief when he saw Phil had brought them into the living room and was actually holding Natalie, rocking her in the recliner.
He came in and folded down onto the couch, making sure Jonathan slept peacefully still.
“Sorry. I know a lot of parents won’t let strangers just pick up their kids; she was fussy and wet.”
Clint shook his head, able to grin a little bit seeing Phil finally with their daughter. “She’s not picky like that little butthead, she generally likes people. He only lets certain people touch him and only me, Nat, and Banner can hold him without him screaming his head off.”
Phil smiled, unable to resist pecking Natalie’s head gently; glad that Clint wasn’t upset with him for holding her. He wanted to ask about the obviously absent father of the twins but felt that would be overstepping boundaries Clint wouldn’t want to discuss with him.
Fury led him to believe the battle of Manhattan happened four years ago so he wouldn’t consider the possibility that he was the absent father.
While watching tv together, Clint chose one of their favorite movies hoping to help Phil remember, Jonathan woke fussing. Clint picked him up, settling back into the couch with him after a quick diaper change, and cradled Jonathan to nurse. He didn’t think about covering up, he didn’t have to at home ever so it wasn’t a habit, not considering it could make Phil uncomfortable seeing a man nursing a baby.
But, for all Clint’s worry; Phil wasn’t fazed at all. Sure, he didn’t sit there and gawk at Clint, drooling and asking if he could join the baby like a pervert, but he wasn’t uneasy talking to him about the movie playing; still rocking Natalie slowly.
It put Clint at ease but he still wouldn’t hold onto hope that they would be together again. Hope only gave him disappointment.
After the first week Phil considered Clint a friend, still not fully understanding his feelings for the other man but hopeful for their future. Clint kept himself a little guarded but couldn’t let it get in the way of his efforts to help Phil.
They spent their days going through the stuff Natasha brought. Clint wouldn’t admit that his heart broke a little bit when Phil saw his Captain America collection and seemed disinterested. Something his husband once loved now was boxed up and put in the bottom of a closet.
Clint felt that was where his former life with Phil would end up eventually.
He didn’t know Phil packed the items carefully and put them up to save and give to the twins when they were old enough to take care of everything. Phil wanted kids of his own, wanted a large family, but he would accept spoiling Clint’s babies in place of his own if Clint would let him.
They found a little video projector and a few disks in one box and it piqued their interest immediately; though Clint did hope none of the disks showed any home-made porn starring Tony Stark. He probably wouldn’t survive that.
Neither expected to find the photo video that played at their wedding. Those memories shattered Clint, sending him retreating out of the living room to his bedroom. Phil saw him leave quickly but assumed he was just hearing one of the twins waking and turned back to watch the video.
The next disk was more of their wedding, making Phil more curious and intrigued. He sat bent over his lap slightly, leaning closer to the video screen on the wall, hoping to see something that he would remember.
Seeing himself and Clint presented on video and the way he kept Clint so close to him, it filled him with a strange warmth that spread from his chest throughout his body down to his toes. It was odd having so much hope in the sensation but he couldn’t focus on that; only on the obvious love and devotion he and Clint used to have for each other.
He wondered if he could ever have that in his life ever again.
By the time the videos they took of their honeymoon in Romania showed, Clint was able to come back to the living room again. But he couldn’t help groaning painfully when he saw the video playing and forced himself to sit back down on the couch beside Phil.
Phil chuckled at the video of Clint struggling to get up a snowy hill, unable to get traction with his worn sneakers. He would get up a little ways, trying to step into the footprints Phil left in the snow, but then he would slide back down toward the bottom of the hill laughing when he lost footing and fell.
Clint wanted to cry at the memories he still had of that time together but held himself together not wanting to scare Phil away because he was too emotional.
“That seemed like a fun time.”
“It really was great,” Clint replied. “Better than Budapest.”
Phil felt a sudden pain in his shoulder and arm; making him rub it away. Clint saw the action and tilted his head curious. Phil took a bullet to his shoulder and to his arm just above the elbow in Budapest; losing a lot of blood but with Natasha’s help Clint was able to get the bullets out and suture the wounds later after they found a safe shelter.
“Damn old bones,” Phil grumbled, rolling his shoulder.
“Do you remember how you got that shitty looking scar on your shoulder there?”
Phil shrugged, looking down at his shoulder for a moment. The scar showed that the suturing definitely was not done professionally. “I’d assume in the field somehow ‘cause if it was at a medical facility it wouldn’t look like some alien sucker got me.”
Clint just smiled weakly and nodded, turning back to watch the video again and try not to break down horribly at everything he knew and remembered that Phil had taken away so viciously.
Clint was given the rare chance to have Phil fall in love with him again, something at least a few thousand people would jump at the chance to have. He was glad Phil still laughed at his stupid jokes and silly antics; Phil fell in love with Clint’s humor first all those years ago.
Phil surprised Clint by still not reacting negatively the first time he saw him completely naked; instead had that wanton look of lust. Clint knew it was too early for that road yet though, but he did go about the house without the too tight binders; only wearing one when he had to leave the house for anything.
The two sat together on the couch with the twins, going through the onesies that the twins had already outgrown so Clint could take them for donation. Baby Jonathan took to Phil and surprised both when he didn’t cry or fuss whenever Phil held him for the first time. It took a lot of stress and worry off Clint’s shoulders.
Phil watched Clint take another sip of coffee from his usual mug; the one with the picture of Phil, infant Lila, and Lucky; and decided it was time to ask a question that he couldn’t ignore.
“So, we had one kid together?” he asked, gesturing at the mug when Clint gave him a curious look. “And a dog?”
Clint gave a weak little grin. “She wasn’t biologically yours, even though we were together at that moment; but you loved her. Her first week getting out of NICU, you insisted on bringing her into your office; told everyone who came in ‘Hey, check out my baby girl; isn’t she the most incredibly gorgeous baby you’ve ever seen?’.”
Phil tried desperately to remember that little premature infant, curious when he had a flash memory of being attacked. He frowned worriedly, shaking his head.
“That was weird,” he mumbled to himself, reaching for another onesie to fold and put aside. “Do people still get mugged?”
Clint snorted into the mug, glad that Phil changed the subject. “When we lived in D.C. it happened quite a bit; so often that I had decoy wallets to give them when I was out with Lila and when I was pregnant with her so they wouldn’t hurt her. Your spider monkey ass though; you were coming home from the store once and beat one wannabe mugger with a fucking bag of potatoes.”
“If we had a daughter, where is she?”
And again, Clint’s heart broke horribly. He sighed sadly and shook his head. “Her birth father took her from us. She’s in Iowa with my mom now.”
Phil frowned. “Courts won’t let you have her back because discrimination or something? Do you get to go to your mom’s to see her?”
Clint sighed again, fidgeting with a onesie. “One of his friends murdered her, she’s buried next to Mom near where I grew up before Mom died.”
He reached over and took Clint’s hand, holding firm. “C’mere,” he told him, tugging gently. “Let’s take a break, I wanna hold you for a while.” Clint scooted over and snuggled up beside Phil gratefully, bending his knees up into Phil’s lap and leaning Jonathan against Phil’s stomach beside Natalie. He calmed in Phil’s arms, feeling that all too familiar emotion of love, devotion, and safety again. But, at the same time his heart continued to ache knowing he wouldn’t have his Phil back completely. He would love Phil unconditionally and for the rest of his life regardless of what form of Phil he was given, but that didn’t guarantee Phil would feel the same way afer regaining his memories.
In the following weeks Clint watched Phil shamelessly get down in the floor with their twins and encourage their play time. Phil always had an enormous soft spot for children of any age, he didn’t care who gave him odd looks or whispered about him behind his back; he adored children.
So, when Clint came out of his room after showering and dressing, he smiled hearing Phil trying to encourage the twins to roll around on the floor. He turned the corner into the living room, smiling at Phil lying on his stomach in the floor; twins propped up against the couch with a blanket and pillows to keep them upright; telling them how they would benefit from learning how to roll and that it would eventually lead to crawling and walking.
He had to stifle a laugh, leaning against the wall to watch.
“When you start walking, we can all go to the big park down the road from here. We’ll have so much fun playing; I think you’ll both like the swings most of all since you’re so little still. But me and Daddy will help you with the slides if they’re not the twisty ones ‘cause those make Daddy kinda dizzy.”
Clint quickly stifled a snort at the memory of the first time he took Lila down a twisted slide. The short ride down made Clint dizzy enough he barely had time to pass her to Phil before he fell onto his back in the woodchips cushioning the ground.
Phil smiled; he knew Clint was watching; he’d been trained to know after all. “Daddy’s a great guy, isn’t he?” he asked the twins, watching Natalie gum on the edge of the blanket while Jonathan gummed on his fist; looking at Phil with an intensity that both fathers were sure the infant understood him somehow.
“I really hope I get my memories of me and Daddy back completely, everything me and Daddy talk about how it was before; it was like the perfect life, right? I mean, yeah we fought the bad guys all the time; but we had each other at the end of every day.”
Clint stood from the wall and came into the living room, folding himself down on the floor beside Phil; wanting to curl up beside him desperately. “Don’t lose hope, we may get there again.”
He knew he was a hypocrite; he didn’t believe his own words at all and wouldn’t let himself believe it. He knew better than to hope for something good to happen to him.
“Even if it doesn’t, I’m kinda attached to these babies. I don’t know where these feelings of needing to help you keep them so safe and just love them wholeheartedly; there’s a connection I can’t explain either. I mean, I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that JonnyBub’s name is my middle name.”
Letting out a slow breath through his nose, Clint got ready to admit something to Phil; nervousness and fear filling his gut. “Jonathan’s his middle name, too. He’s named after his father.”
“Was that decided before his birth, thinking it’d be a nice thing to do for the father then things went so far south after they were born it’s kinda sucky association now?”
Clint shook his head, fidgeting. “I was told their daddy died while I was still pregnant with them. I named him after his daddy as a selfish way to make myself believe I had him back. But, calling him Phil got too painful really quick so everyone switched to calling him Jonathan.”
He sighed, looking down at his hands; picking at loose threads woven in the carpet. “His full name’s Philip Jonathan Coulson; after his daddy.”
“Wait, what?” Phil asked calmly, but confused; shaking his head slightly. He looked at the twins again then back to Clint. “If Manhattan happened four years ago and I’m their father, wouldn’t they be older?”
It was Clint’s turn to be confused. “Four years ago?” he snorted. He knew Nick lied a lot, but Jesus Christ; that was not something to just willy nilly lie about. “I was just about seven months pregnant when that happened and they were born a month later. They were about six weeks early but docs said that was kinda common with more than one.”
“So, I died, got brought back, and then taken away from you and our children?”
Clint nodded sadly.
“I think I’m gonna kill that motherfucker myself,” Phil muttered angrily. “He told me I was with some cellist woman but she’d moved on by the time I saw her again.”
Clint had to fight the urge to storm away and hunt Nick down. Instead he sat up to his knees; cringing at the foul smell wafting from Natalie; the little twerp grinning at him. “I say we send him a shitty diaper bomb.”
Phil chuckled and sat up to reach for the clean diapers and baby wipes on the coffee table to help change both babies; almost giddy about finally having children of his own. He would be the best father he could possibly be and wouldn’t let anything stop him.
end of pt 2. I'll start pt 3 either later tonight or tomorrow depending on how my back feels.
seriously though, please someone comment if you're enjoying this series!