Author’s Note: This was written as a RPG (roll playing game) between co-authors Hope1iz and BlackFox12. Set after the season one finale. Thirty-fourth in the Redeeming Grant series.
Disclaimer: We don't own anything from the television series Agents of SHIELD and Avengers movies and we're not making any money from this fic
Summary: Coulson takes his children and grandchildren to meet the rest of his family
Warning(s): Spanking; spoilers for Agents of SHIELD Seasons one and two; spoilers for all Avengers movies to date; some references to child abuse; dreams of traumatic/horrific past events.
Co-Author’s Website: BlackFox12's fanfiction.net page
MEETING THE REST
The family had been fairly good-natured through the course of the packing. Coulson was more relaxed, now that he could go away with his children and grandchildren, and it wasn't long before they were piling into two vehicles and Coulson was leading the way as he drove.
It was a good feeling to be going on holiday with the others and Coulson was smiling, knowing they would have a good time together... and looking forward to them being able to relax and knowing how much his own father and siblings wanted to meet the rest of the family.
Clint was sitting next to his father. Turning around to grin at his brother and son, he teased Coulson. "Are you sure it was a good idea to let Nat drive the other car? I know Bobbi wanted a chance to do some 'girl bonding' with her sister and niece...but Nat says 'beep beep' like the road runner as she flies past other vehicles!"
Coulson glanced sideways at his oldest, an amused look on his face. "As long as she makes sure she's careful while driving, I don't mind what she says when she overtakes the other vehicles."
"I could be faster than both of the cars," Pietro stated... though he didn't try again to persuade his father to let him run alongside the road.
Clint turned and raised an eyebrow at Pietro. "It isn't the speed you need to look out for...." His tone was sage and 'knowing'.
Grant snorted. "You act like you've tried to outrun cars before...." He grinned at his brother, who gave him a sheepish look. "...You did?" Grant laughed out loud, delighted at the news. "When? Why? Where?"
"Which time?" Coulson spoke with a wry, though affectionate note to his voice. "I can remember several." Although he couldn't twist round to look at his youngest son and grandson, he made eye contact with them both and smiled affectionately at them in the mirror.
"That's why I wanted to run next to the road." Pietro didn't have any heat in his voice, though, instantly looking interested in knowing what his father had done in the past.
"Yes, well...sometimes you don't have a choice where you run..." Clint chuckled, not answering his brother or father's questions. The most he would say was, "Sometimes on missions, you do things you never wanted to have to do; or hope to do again."
Grant had to laugh at that; it was the truth, after all.
"Yes... I remember many of those from my younger days." Coulson didn't say that was before he stopped taking so many chances with his life, after becoming responsible for first Clint and then Nat. Instead, he changed the subject. "I thought we could stop off for lunch along the way. The farmland isn't completely out of the way, but it's more difficult just to 'pop out' to get something."
"So ordering pizza on a spur of the moment whim probably won't work very well?" Grant asked curiously. "Did you grow up on this farm, dad?"
"I did," Coulson replied. "Though I didn't see myself as staying on the farm all my life." He smiled, remembering how he'd ended up with his two oldest children at his own farmhouse. He had a lot of good memories linked to both growing up on his parents' farm and raising his children on his own.
"Grandpa still farms it?" Grant asked curiously.
"He does what he can," Coulson answered. "There's more machinery that he can use now... and he does have people able to help him. My understanding is that there are fewer animals than used to be kept there... but there are still hens for eggs and a couple of goats to milk."
"Are there any horses?" Grant asked again. He loved hearing about his dad's family, since they were his family and he felt like he had a lifetime of information to catch up on.
Coulson smiled, enjoying the opportunity to talk about his father's farm with his son. He wasn't irritated by the questions... he liked that Grant was curious and wanted to know. "There's a stable with three horses... not enough for all of us to ride together, unfortunately, but certainly enough for a smaller outing."
Grant glanced at Pietro and grinned. Riding was one of the few things he'd learned in the Ward household that he hadn't regretted learning. "Do you like to ride, Petey?" he asked his nephew.
Pietro glanced at his uncle, showing an interest. "I've never needed to learn before...but it would be good to try." Even though he was certain being on a horse would be as frustrating as being in a car was, it might still be something he could do with his family... and that was something he would try to tolerate for their sakes. "I'm sure Wanda would be interested as well."
"Great!" Grant grinned happily before looking out the back window to see if his sisters and niece were directly behind them or not. He stuck his tongue out at Bobbi when she made a face at him.
Coulson spotted his youngest son's antics and shook his head, though he looked amused. He continued driving, though he did know the route well enough that he didn't need to check the signs... even if it had been longer than he'd liked since visiting.
In the other car, Bobbi was still making faces at Grant every time he looked back in her direction. It didn't mean she wasn't focusing on the conversation around her, though. "So, Nat...have you met Grandpa before? Or Uncle Paul and Aunt Cathy? Does she mind being called Cathy, or should I stick with Aunt Catherine?" Bobbi slanted her head curiously.
"I've been able to see them a few times... though not as often as I think they'd like," Natasha said. "They're like Dad... warm and accepting." Every time Coulson had taken her there, it had made her feel even more a part of the family. "And you can call her whichever you like... as long as you're not rude." She smiled.
"Of course I wouldn't be rude!" Bobbi looked horrified at the thought. "It's nice, though...that he's close to his family...that they're still alive...." Her voice was soft.
Natasha had been teasing Bobbi, but she grew more serious at her younger sister's comment. "They're your family too, you know. They accepted me... and Clint. They're going to do the same to you as well... all of you." She smiled at both Bobbi and Wanda.
"I...it feels a bit childish to worry about it, but I hope they like me..." Bobbi blushed.
"They will. Especially since I'm sure you'll be just that bit better-behaved than me and Clint," Natasha teased. "Dad will have probably told them about you... nothing bad; just so they feel like they know you."
Bobbi couldn't help but laugh at that. "Oh, dear; that's just going to make when I do something stupid all that more horrifying!" she teased back. "I bet Wanda will have them wrapped around her finger, though, as the baby of the family." Bobbi grinned impishly at her niece.
Wanda was looking a bit uncertain, not sure what was the right kind of behaviour for her to put on. "I'm not used to being the 'baby' of any family." Pietro might have protected her... but she'd protected him as well.
"Well, you'll probably be used to it by the time the holiday's over," Natasha commented.
Bobbi's smile turned less teasing and more sympathetic. "We'll all be learning to adjust..." she said quietly. "Well most of us..." she glanced at Natasha. "I have to admit, thinking that someone will care about me and accept me just because daddy loves me... well it has been a very long time that anyone has given me the benefit of the doubt without even meeting me first. I don't want to screw this up...." she admitted.
"You're not going to screw this up... none of you are...but I do understand how you feel," Natasha said. "Believe me, I know what learning to adjust feels like. I certainly wasn't this confident the first time I met the rest of Dad's family."
"What are they like? I mean... are there any things we should avoid doing or anything that they might particularly like that will help break the ice, or...?" Bobbi bit her lip. "You know...."
"They're not much different to Dad," Natasha replied. "Just be yourself. And it'll be fine."
"Yeah...ok." Bobbi made another face at Grant, then Pietro.
Arriving at the farmhouse didn't take too long after they stopped to get something to eat. It was getting to the early evening hours and that little bit colder as Coulson parked on the gravel outside the farmhouse.
Natasha did the same and then got out to help with the unloading.
Grant hadn't wasted any time getting out and helping to unload. He and Bobbi had continued their 'face war' through the rest of the trip, but now they had stopped, uncertain how their grandfather and aunt and uncle would view their behavior.
Bobbi walked over, carrying her bag and one of the bags of 'treats' that they had put together to bring to the farm.
Clint walked around the car and grabbed his bag and one of the extra bags of food they'd also picked up. He glanced around, looking for his own children.
An older man, possibly a little older than Coulson, walked out of the house and down off the porch, coming to help grab bags as Grant and Natasha unloaded them. "Bout time you came to see us again, Squirt..." He nudged Phil gently, giving his 'younger' brother a big grin. "Cath is making a snack if you think you will all be hungry....Daaad! They're here!" he yelled back into the house.
Coulson smiled at Paul, nudging him in return before looking fondly at his children. "We did eat... but I'm sure everyone would like to have a snack as well."
Although older, Coulson's father was fairly active and he didn't need any help in getting out of the house to see his family. He gave Phil a tight hug then turned to greet his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Pietro had gone to help with the unloading, though he made sure to keep his speed carefully regulated. Wanda moved over to join her father, a little nervous still.
"Grandpa!" Clint greeted warmly, moving up to give his grandfather a big hug. Stepping back from the older man, he reached over and gently drew Wanda closer to him, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "Grandpa, I'd like to introduce you to your great-granddaughter. Wanda, this is your great-grandpapa..." He glanced over toward Pietro. "Hey, Petey... come meet your great-grandfather!" he called out.
Bobbi watched as the two older men exited the house and greeted Coulson. When Clint began introducing the youngest members of the family to his grandfather, she hesitantly shifted closer to Phil, wanting to meet the family as well, but suddenly feeling very shy. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Grant doing the same thing on their father's other side.
Paul slanted his head as he noticed the two younger people shifting closer to his brother. "So you going to introduce us to your two youngest, runt?" he asked softly, but grinning.
Coulson smiled, wrapping an arm around Bobbi's and Grant's shoulders and drawing them in close. "Bobbi... Grant... this is your Uncle Paul." He'd already told his family about Grant being the son he'd lost as a baby, so he didn't see the need to reiterate it... since they were all his as much as each other.
Wanda smiled shyly at the older man. "Hello."
Ben had already given Natasha a hug and now he pulled both of his great-grandchildren into a tight hug each. "I'm glad your grandfather finally brought you all out here."
Clint grinned as his grandfather hugged his children. He'd spent a lot of time with the older man when he was a kid; during summer breaks when Phil couldn't get out of a mission, he'd often fly Clint and Natasha back to the farm to stay with their grandfather, uncle and aunt. He'd been anxious to introduce Wanda and Pietro to Ben as soon as the adoption had become legal.
Grant smiled at his father's older brother. "Uncle Paul, I'm happy to finally meet you...and can't wait to hear some of the stories you might have about dad when he was younger...." He glanced sideways at his father, a teasing look in his eye.
Bobbi snuggled closer to Phil, not sure why she was feeling so shy; normally, she wasn't shy in the least. "Uncle Paul..." she said softly, smiling hesitantly at the other man.
Paul smiled brightly at his niece and nephew. "Of course, Grant. I have a bunch of stories to tell you about your dad; some I'm not even sure he remembers..." He grinned at Phil. Turning to face Bobbi, he took her hand and pulled her in for a firm hug. "I'm glad to meet you, sweetheart...I know your dad is proud of you...proud of all of you, really..." He pulled away and gently redirected her back into her father's arms, before glancing at Natasha and opening his arms for a hug. "Stop hiding on the sidelines, kiddo and give your favorite non-agent -super-hero uncle a hug."
Coulson wrapped his arms around his two youngest once more. "Shall we go inside and meet your aunt?" he asked them, smiling as he looked around at the rest of his family. It had felt like too long since he'd been able to see them and it was good to have all of his family together again.
Natasha smiled, stepping over to hug her uncle. "Anything exciting happen since our last visit?" she asked, knowing that it might be a different kind of excitement to the sort they were used to... but it was still good.
When he was released, Pietro grabbed a couple of the bags so he could carry them in. Ben smiled at Clint, but gestured for Wanda to follow him inside. "There's one more person for you to meet."
Grant nodded. "I'd like that, dad..." He grabbed the bags he'd been carrying and waited for his father to lead him inside.
Bobbi grinned brightly. "Me too...." she picked her bags up again, but didn't step too far out of her father's radius.
Clint grabbed his bags and also Wanda's nodding at her to follow Ben. "You're gonna love your Aunt Cath..." he told both of his children with a smile. "She makes the best fried chicken...." he smacked his lips loudly then grinned.
Paul laughed at Clint's antics, giving Natasha a quick kiss on the cheek he then stared into the sky as if having to think about her question. "Well...we decided to adopt two Tom's that your Aunt Cath found abandoned along the road... planned for them to help keep mice out of the house...cept it turns out one of 'em wasn't a Tom and now we've got kittens...." He glanced over toward Phil with an impish look. "You wouldn't happen to want a kitten, would you bro?"
Coulson kept his arm around Grant's shoulders as he grabbed his own bag, then gently nudged shoulders with Bobbi... even as he glanced at his brother with a smile. "The only animal we have at the moment is Grant's dog Copper." He glanced at the dog in question, never far from his charge's side, then at Paul once more. "We could see if any of them bond with a kitten."
Wanda followed Ben into the house, glancing back over her shoulder as if to make sure both her father and brother were following.
Hearing the people entering the house, Cathy came out of the kitchen, a warm smile on her face as she saw the newcomers.
Clint wasn't far behind Wanda at all and as soon as they were in the house, he set the bags he was carrying to the side and out of the way, just in time to head straight to his aunt and wrap her in a tight hug. "Aunt Cath! It's so good to see you...."
Grant had waited for Pietro to follow his father and sister in then nodded at Natasha to indicate she should go ahead too. "C'mon, Copper..." he finally said to his dog, as he followed Natasha into the house. He'd been uncertain about his dog's welcome; but Coulson had arranged for everything well ahead of time and everyone knew that Copper was a service dog, meant to help Grant with his symptoms of PTSD. Copper followed obediently.
Bobbi glanced at her dad, a tiny impish smile on her face. "I want a kitten, daddy...." she said with just a hint of begging; it was her wide, pleading eyes and slightly pouty, hopeful, yet teasing, smile that told Paul everything he needed to know.
"Oh, Phil...you've got your hands full with this one...." He laughed as he grabbed the remainder of the bags that hadn't already been taken and walked into the house, leaving his younger brother to bring his niece in.
Smiling, Cathy hugged Clint just as tight in return. "It's been far too long," she said warmly, then glanced at the twins. "Are these your son and daughter?" she asked.
Coulson laughed, gently leading his youngest daughter into the house. "We'll see." He did find it hard to say no to his kids most of the time... and he knew that if Bobbi had her heart set on a kitten, she'd get one.
"Yes!" Clint announced proudly, motioning Pietro and Wanda to step up closer to meet their aunt. "Wanda...Pietro...I'd like to introduce you to your aunt Catherine. I call her Aunt Cath, though...."
Bobbi followed her father easily, a big grin on her face, and stepped into the living room just in time to hear Clint's introduction.
Grant smiled at Cathy. "Hello, Aunt Cathy... I'm Grant. That's my sister, Bobbi, hanging off of dad..." He motioned toward Bobbi and stuck his tongue out when she made a face at him, both of them forgetting for the moment that they weren't going to be making faces at each other until they figured out how the rest of the family would take it. He then reached down and scratched Copper between the ears. "This is Copper. He helps calm me down when I have flashbacks." His words were matter of fact and calmly said, but he wanted to get it out there immediately in case something happened. He didn't want anyone being shocked if he had a panic attack or something similar.
Smiling, Cathy hugged Pietro and Wanda then did the same to Natasha, before turning to her newest niece and nephew. Pulling Grant into a hug, she commented, "Your father told us why you would have your dog here. It isn't a problem." Releasing him, she then gave Bobbi a hug. "I imagine you've all eaten a meal... but there are snacks in the kitchen if you're still hungry."
"And when you've all had a chance to relax, you can decide where you'd like to sleep," Ben said with a warm smile. Although there was plenty of room, Coulson had suggested waiting to decide the sleeping arrangements until they knew what his children and grandchildren wanted to do.
Grant relaxed at his aunt's words, giving her a firm hug back. "Thanks, Aunt Cathy..." he whispered into her ear.
Bobbi hugged back tightly, then stepped back and slanted her head. "I could probably eat a small snack; it smells good. What did you make?" she asked curiously.
Clint nodded at his grandfather. "I know what room I want; the one that I always stayed in when I was a kid. It has an awesome view of the pond out back..." he said in an aside to Wanda and Pietro.
Bobbi bit her lip and glanced at Natasha, wondering if the other woman would want to share a room. It wasn't that Bobbi was scared to stay alone; she felt completely safe and at ease here, which hadn't been the case...even at the mansion...after the battles with Gonzales and then Ultron. It was more a case of she'd got used to her bedroom being next to her father's, if she wasn't directly in his room, and if she wasn't that close to him here, she wasn't certain she'd be able to sleep. Ok...maybe she was a little nervous. But not scared! Truth be told, she'd almost asked to stay with Phil, but wasn't sure how her newly introduced family would view a grown-ass woman wanting to sleep with her daddy...no matter how innocent it was.
"How many rooms are there?" Grant asked curiously. He figured he could room with Clint and Pietro, depending on how many rooms were available. If there were a lot of rooms, he might even take a room for himself and Copper.
"There's some homemade bread and cheese..." Cathy smiled at Clint as she added, "I thought I'd make the fried chicken you like so much tomorrow, when you can eat as much as you want."
"There are four extra rooms, including the ones used by Natasha and Clint when they stayed here in the past, so you will have to double up... however you feel comfortable doing so," Ben said with a warm smile and a sideways glance at Bobbi that suggested he might be nearly as observant as his son was.
"Oooooh, homemade bread!" Clint was easily distracted to the kitchen, quickly heading in that direction to get some. "Aunt Cath makes the most delicious bread..." he added to his children, right before disappearing through the kitchen door.
Grant chuckled at his brother's antics. "Well... Pietro and I could bunk together...unless you'd rather bunk with your dad..." He turned toward Pietro, a questioning look on his face. "I figure dad can have a room to himself..." He didn't say that he suspected at some point his father would end up with a visitor, or three. "Of course, that would leave Clint by himself as well; and the three girls in one room... Pietro and I could just as easily room with Clint and let one of the girls have a room to themselves...."
Bobbi didn't say anything...waiting to see what Natasha or Wanda said before putting her own opinion in. She glanced at her father from the corner of her eye, though and couldn't help but shift closer to him.
Paul was a very observant man also; he could tell Bobbi was obviously trying to impress the family and thought they'd look badly on her if she wasn't 'independent' enough. He figured if the opportunity arose, he'd say something to show that the family was very easy going and also already knew everything about Phil and how he was with his children. He talked to his brother frequently, even if they didn't get to see each other often. He knew the 'kids' had many issues and one of the ways Phil helped them deal with those issues was by keeping them close at night. He didn't want to just spring it out of the blue, though- he didn't want to embarrass her.
"You know the room I'm in is always open to any of you," Coulson said simply, not mentioning that it was at night time as much as during the day.
Pietro shrugged. "I really don't mind where I sleep."
"I..." Wanda looked a bit hesitant. She'd also got used to staying in her dad's room... but she didn't feel able to actually say that if no one else was.
Natasha raised her eyebrows. "Why don't we get something to eat and drink and then figure out sleeping arrangements?" she suggested.
"Sounds good to me..." Grant easily agreed, heading toward the door Clint had disappeared through.
"Well...I just want you all to know...we want you to be comfortable. No matter what that entails. Don't go thinking you have to act a certain way and try to impress us if doing so makes you uncomfortable," Paul said firmly, putting one hand on Bobbi's shoulder and the other hand on Wanda's shoulder and then squeezing gently, trying to tell them in his own way, without drawing attention to them, that it was ok with him if they wanted to stay with their parent. Smiling at Phil, he took Natasha by the arm and led her into the kitchen, expecting Phil to bring the remaining children in with him.
Coulson smiled at his remaining child and grandchildren and guided them through to the kitchen, gently touching each of them as they headed through.
Ben brought up the rear, walking over to help Cathy with bringing the food to the table. He checked with them about the drinks they wanted and then began pouring drinks out for each of them.
They'd had a really nice time just talking over the light snack and drinks...soon, it was dark out and Paul knew if he wanted to get up in time to take care of his farm chores, he would need to go to bed. "Well, I've enjoyed the night immensely, but I need to go sleep. Don't feel like you have to go to bed immediately. Your dad can show you the rooms. He knows where they are." Paul smiled before helping his wife put away the left-overs and clean-up. Then, he headed upstairs.
Grant had taken Copper outside one more time before grabbing his bag and heading upstairs and taking one of the rooms, Copper following him. He'd talked with Pietro and they had decided that they would share a room.
Clint had grabbed his and Wanda's bags and headed up to the room he'd already chosen. He'd made the decision to keep her with him, since she seemed to want to, but was hesitant to say anything. He figured it might be easier for her if he just made the decision for her. If she wanted to move into another room, she could. "Come on, Sweet Pea..." he said as he passed by her on his way to the stairs.
Bobbi bit her lip, wanting to go with her father, but still not sure she should... and now it looked like Natasha would be in a room by herself if she did go with her father. She wasn't sure if Nat would like that or not. She looked between Phil and Nat, conflicted....
Ben retired about the same time as Paul and Cathy did, giving each of them a smile and a squeeze to their shoulders.
Pietro said a quick goodnight to the rest of his family, hugging his father and sister, before following his uncle to their room.
Looking relieved, Wanda headed after her father, pausing to accept hugs and goodnights from the others.
Natasha smiled at her baby sister and stood up. "I can go on my own in the last room," she said. "You should room with Dad." She patted Bobbi's shoulder then hugged her father tightly before retiring upstairs.
Coulson smiled at his youngest daughter and stood up, wrapping an arm around Bobbi's shoulders. "Come on, sweetie. Let's go to bed." He grabbed both of their bags.
Bobbi had smiled at Natasha, noticeably happier once she realized Nat didn't mind having a room to herself. Leaning into her father briefly, she followed him up the stairs and into the room. She was surprised at how tired she was, given the relatively early hour, and didn't take long at all to get ready for bed. Crawling into bed, she gave her dad a sweet smile. "Night, daddy...I love you."
Grant didn't take long at all to get ready for bed either and was soon tucked onto his side, sound asleep.
Clint quickly got ready for bed, but waited for Wanda to be ready and get in so he could turn off the light. When she did get in, he quickly pulled her to him and held her close, kissing the top of her head. "Goodnight, Sweet Pea. I love you..."
Even though he was happy to be on his father's farm, Coulson's sleep was troubled enough that he didn't get much of it during the night. When he woke up, he didn't remember much of his dream... only it was an awful one that involved his family and left him with the need to make sure they were all safe.
Coulson gently stroked Bobbi's hair, though not trying to wake her... he just wanted to assure himself of her safety.
Bobbi hadn't slept all that well either. The only reason she'd slept as good as she did sleep was because she'd been in her father's arms most of the night. Even so, she was already awake when he began petting her hair. Snuggling closer she murmured sleepily, "morning daddy..."
"Good morning." Coulson pressed a kiss to her head, noting the sleepy note in his daughter's voice. "You didn't sleep well?"
"I dunno; maybe I've gotten too used to sleeping in the same place the last few months and being in a new room affected me... But I had weird dreams all night, but can't remember what they were about," Bobbi admitted. "Just know that they were...upsetting." She sighed and snuggled closer.
Coulson frowned, concerned over them both sleeping badly... but it could just be a coincidence. He stroked his daughter's hair gently as he spoke. "Do you want to sleep a little longer, sweetie?"
"Noooo..." Bobbi stretched then smiled up at her father. "I want to spend time with everyone."
Coulson smiled and held her close a few more moments. "You might want to get up fast. There's only one bathroom."
Bobbi's eyes widened in mock horror as she jumped out of bed and grabbed her toiletries and a change of clothes. "Thanks for the warning!" she blurted out, before making a dash for the shower.
Coulson laughed softly as he watched his youngest then left the bedroom, automatically seeking out his other children and grandchildren... to assure himself of their safety.
Grant walked out of his room, rubbing his eyes and stretching. Then, he yawned. "Hi, dad...." He smiled, joining his father in his trek. "Looks like I was too late for the shower..." He laughed softly.
Clint was already downstairs, helping his aunt get breakfast together.
Paul walked in from outside, having taken care of the animals and ready for his own breakfast.
Coulson smiled and slid his arm around Grant's waist, drawing him in for a tight hug. "I warned Bobbi there was only one bathroom." He pressed a kiss to his youngest son's forehead, holding him just a fraction tighter than should have been necessary.
Natasha had been downstairs helping her brother and aunt, but since breakfast was close to ready, she'd come upstairs to wake up the twins, who hadn't surfaced yet. She immediately zeroed in on their father. "Dad? You have a bad dream?"
Grant blinked at Natasha's question. "Why would you ask him that?" His voice was more than curious, however...as if he was hiding something.
Natasha nodded towards the way Coulson was holding onto Grant. "Cause Dad doesn't hold on that tight for no reason."
Coulson gently released Grant... though he stepped over to Nataha and squeezed her arm gently. "You'd be right... though I don't really remember," he admitted. "Bobbi didn't sleep well either."
Grant squeezed his dad tightly. "That's weird...I had dreams I can't remember too...."
"It seems like most of us did," Natasha said softly. "I didn't sleep too well. And the twins are still asleep." She patted Coulson's arm gently. "You should go down... I'll check on Wanda and Pietro." She knew the look on her father's face; knew that he wouldn't relax until he knew all of his family was safe.
Coulson nodded... though his eyes still tracked towards the rooms his grandchildren were sleeping in.
By this time, Bobbi was dragging herself out of the shower...she'd gone as quickly as she could so as not to hog it. "Oh...shower!" Grant brightened up a bit and quickly went to grab his stuff so he could jump in and hopefully wake up.
Bobbi came out still looking tired, but a little more awake due to being clean. She leaned against her father, snuggling. "We waiting for the twins, or going downstairs?" she asked curiously.
Coulson wrapped his arm around Bobbi, squeezing her gently. "I thought I'd at least check in on the twins... though we should let them sleep if they're tired." He couldn't quite hide his worry about his family.
Bobbi frowned too. "Yeah...we can wait for them; you want to go check on Pietro while Nat checks on Wanda?" she asked softly, backing up just enough that her father could go do that if he wanted.
Coulson nodded, gently squeezing his youngest daughter. "I just... need to assure myself they're safe." He went to check on his grandson, emerging later with a sleepy-looking Pietro.
Natasha, having gone to check on Wanda, returned with her... the youngster also looking tired and a bit pale.
Bobbi winced. "Bad dreams?" she asked hesitantly, not sure if she really wanted to know the answer or not...this was a bit strange, everyone dreaming.
Grant exited the bathroom by this point, dressed and whistling. As tired as he was, one of the things he had been good at as a specialist was hiding how he truly felt; no one would know he was tired or sick unless he allowed it. He took one look at his niece and nephew and stopped abruptly. "The bath's free if anyone wants to take a shower..." he finally said.
Pietro nodded, rubbing tiredly at his eyes. "I'ma take a shower..." he mumbled, all but stumbling into the bathroom after he retrieved his toiletries.
"I didn't dream..." Wanda said, a bit hesitantly, since she'd still slept badly.
Bobbi nodded, still sympathetic. "Well, that's good, at least. You already look like you could use a nap; I'd hate to think what you'd look like if you'd had bad dreams..." Her teasing was gentle and she gave her niece a tiny smile before going over and wrapping an arm around her. "I think your dad is downstairs making breakfast. Shall we join him?"
Grant watched the interplay between his baby-sister and his niece then glanced at his father, a question in his eyes. It seemed that everyone but Wanda had dreams...he was curious if the other family members had also had dreams. It seemed too much of a coincidence, but he didn't want to worry anyone unnecessarily, so didn't voice his question or concern out loud.
Wanda nodded, leaning into her aunt. Although she hadn't dreamed, seeing everyone else affected was unsettling enough to make her want her dad.
Coulson wrapped an arm gently around Grant's shoulders. "We should see how everyone else has slept," he said, guessing his youngest son's concerns.
Grant nodded. "I heard uncle Paul heading outside early this morning. I think he's back inside, though... downstairs with Clint. I don't know where Aunt Cath or Grandpa are...."
"Your aunt's probably finishing breakfast... and I'm sure your Grandpa will be in soon," Coulson said. He pressed a kiss to Grant's head and waited for Bobbi and Wanda to head down the stairs first.
Bobbi carefully led Wanda downstairs and then into the kitchen. Catching Clint's eye, she slanted her head toward her niece to indicate he was needed.
Blinking, Clint wiped his hands on a towel, then went over and gave his daughter a hug. "You ok, sweetheart? You didn't sleep very well last night. You tossed and turned so much, I was afraid you'd roll out of bed...."
Wanda immediately hugged her father tightly in return. "I didn't sleep well... but I think most everyone else had bad dreams," she said, worried about the rest of her family.
Coulson relaxed fractionally as he saw his oldest son and brother and sister... then even more so as Ben headed into the house, carrying two pails of goat's milk.
Paul blinked at that. "Everyone else did too? I thought it was just a fluke that Cathy and I did.... Figured it was caused by the excitement of everyone being here."
"That's probably what it was...all the excitement meeting new family..." Clint smiled. "We can help around the farm today. Maybe wearing ourselves out physically will help us sleep better tonight."
Ben smiled. "There's certainly plenty to do." Although he looked tired, he placed the pails on the table and then went back to retrieve some fresh-squeezed juice.
Cathy finished up plating the food as Pietro made his way downstairs, followed closely by Natasha.
Yawning, Pietro took his seat at the table.
Coulson guided Bobbi and Grant over, glancing at Natasha as she sat down. It wasn't unusual for her to be quiet... but he still worried.
Bobbi sat on one side of Natasha while Grant sat on the other. They then proceeded to tease her, slipping food onto her plate when she wasn't looking (in Bobbi's case) or stealing her bacon (Grant was attempting that).
Clint shook his head at his younger siblings, sitting across from Natasha and putting Pietro and Wanda next to him. That left a seat next to Grant, a seat next to Pietro, and then two seats at the ends of the table.
Paul sat at the end next to the empty seats so his wife could sit near him. He left it up to his father and brother which one would take the other seat next to him and which would be at the other end.
Natasha pretended not to be watching her brother and sister... even though she managed to catch them in the act a couple of times, grabbing a wrist here and there.
Coulson settled on the other side of Grant, smiling at the antics of his children, while Ben took the final remaining seat.
Clint grinned at his uncle then turned toward his grandfather. "So what chores are still left? I think Grant and Bobbi are feeling at loose ends, if the way they are taking their life in their hands is any indication..." he teased all three of his siblings.
Bobbi wrinkled her nose and was getting ready to throw a berry at him when she noticed her uncle and father looking at her. She popped the berry into her mouth and then gave Clint a ghastly, angelic grin instead.
Coulson shook his head and reached out to gently arrest Grant's movement when he tried to steal more bacon.
"The animals are going to need to be fed and the rest of the fruit picked," Ben said. "And the stables need to be mucked out, too... I'm sure there are other jobs I can find," he teased them.
Bobbi grinned. "I worked on a horse ranch when I was a teen...I don't mind mucking if you need help with that...."
"You're volunteering to clean animal cr..." Grant began, only to stop himself as his uncle cleared his throat. "Sorry...." he apologized sheepishly.
"Can I climb the trees to pick the fruit?" Clint asked, to redirect everyone's attention.
Coulson squeezed Grant's shoulder gently. "Might as well volunteer and get it over with, since I'm sure everyone will be helping out at least once."
Cathy laughed. "I'm not surprised that's the job you want, Clint."
"Yeah...I plan to..." Grant grinned crookedly. "Not sure what I'd be good at, though. Never mucked or picked fruit...."
Paul smiled at his younger nephew. "Why don't you help your sister muck today... then pick fruit tomorrow? You can learn how to do both jobs." His smile was teasing.
Grant nodded, taking the words seriously. "That would work...."
"You'll find both easier than you think, I'm sure," Coulson said. He looked at Cathy. "You're still making food products to sell, right? Perhaps a couple of us could help with that."
Cathy smiled. "I could definitely use the help. I'm not as young as I once was," she joked.
"Aunt Cath...you could run circles around a girl half your age!" Clint declared emphatically.
Cathy laughed outright at that. "Thank you for the vote of confidence... but still, some help would be good."
Coulson made eye contact with his eldest, silently directing Clint's attention to Pietro. His grandson would complete most jobs within a few seconds and Coulson didn't know if Clint wanted to put a limit on how much his son strained his gifts. He didn't do the same to Wanda, knowing his granddaughter only really accessed her powers when there was a need.
And she normally had a better understanding of her limits than her brother.
Clint blinked at his father to show he'd received the message. "I'm thinking we want this to be a true vacation from everything we normally do..." He started out. "...so no one uses any of their abilities- we have to work like normal people! That means no scaring the goats into submission, Nat." He teased, trying to make sure his kids didn't feel like they were being picked on.
Pietro frowned at that, though his protest was more of a token one. "I can get the work done a lot faster..."
Natasha looked innocently at her brother. "I certainly wouldn't scare innocent goats," she teased. "Unless, of course, they're particularly stubborn." She smiled at her grandfather.
"These ones are quite docile." Ben smiled, looking at Phil and Paul. "Not anything like the first generation, who butted heads more often than not."
Coulson smiled at the memory. "They were the most difficult, I think. Stubborn agents have nothing on a goat who doesn't want to be approached," he joked.
Cathy stood up to refill Copper's water bowl, having made sure there was plenty of food down for the dog.
Bobbi looked at her nephew with a grin. "Sometimes doing things quick causes you to miss out on part of the fun in doing something," she said innocently, before giving her father a strange look. "Did you just call us stubborn, daddy?" she asked with a laugh.
Grant smiled at his aunt. "Thanks, Aunt Cath...Copper is going to end up wanting to stay with you if you keep doing my job, though..." He grinned to show he was teasing.
Coulson smiled at his youngest. "I was talking about agents in general... but I think all of you have had moments where you've dug your heels in about something."
Cathy sat back down with a smile. "I'm feeding all of you. I should include the four-legged family member in that." Sneaking a look at Bobbi, she added, "Or members... if it comes to that."
"Can't argue that..." Bobbi admitted sheepishly. "What do you make to sell?" she asked her aunt curiously.
"Cheese and jam are the primary products, as well as wine," Cathy answered. "I also make bars of soap, too. We feed ourselves well here... but we can also make a profit. If you'd like, you can give me a hand with some of the making... later today or tomorrow."
"I'd like to do that...after I muck out the stalls, if that's ok?" Bobbi looked excited at the prospect.
"That's fine," Cathy replied. "You just let me know when you're ready." Seeing they were all more or less finished, she stood to begin clearing the table.
Natasha moved to help her aunt.
Bobbi quickly jumped up to help as well, using the opportunity to ask her aunt more questions.
"Well, I think I'll go get started on those stalls, then...if someone wants to show me what to do..." Grant said with a grin.
The day was busy, but still fun. Everyone helped out with the chores on the farm and the whole family had a picnic outside when it came time to have lunch. Coulson talked to Grant about the possibility of him going riding with a couple of them and both Pietro and Wanda expressed an interest in learning to ride.
After eating the evening meal, the family had moved through to the living area to continue their conversation. Coulson had noticed that most of them were looking tired and figured they would have to move through to bed soon.
Bobbi plopped down on the floor by her father's feet, leaning back so her head was against his knees. Every few minutes, she would yawn as discretely as possible into her hand, not wanting the day to end, but having a hard time keeping her eyes open. She smiled at her niece and nephew, who Clint had pulled over to sit on the couch with him.
Grant sat next to his grandfather, trying to learn little bits of information about his dad when Phil was younger. He had a hard time viewing his father as anything but the responsible, dependable man he was now...but if anyone knew of stories where he wasn't, it would be his grandfather and uncle.
Clint glanced down at his children, noting how tired they were. "You ready for bed, rug-rats?" he asked fondly.
Coulson smiled as he listened to his father and uncle tell his children stories. He didn't actually mind; they'd all missed out on true childhood, after all, and he enjoyed giving them the opportunity to learn more about himself and the rest of their family. He gently stroked Bobbi's hair, noticing how tired his youngest was.
Wanda leaned into her father, giving a slight, almost nod as she couldn't quite keep her eyes open.
Pietro opened his mouth, but a yawn cut off whatever he was about to say.
Noticing how tired they all were, Ben drew his current story to a close. "I think everyone is ready for bed," he said, as firmly as Phil tended to speak.
"Yes, sir..." Grant answered immediately, without even thinking twice about obeying his grandfather as quickly as he would his father. He stood and held out a hand to both Pietro and Wanda to help them up so they could go with Clint, then once they were on their feet, turned and pulled Bobbi up off the floor.
Bobbi grunted inelegantly. "Thanks, bro...." she mumbled, letting her head fall onto Grant's shoulder for a few moments before she straightened up and turned toward her father, holding her hand out to help him up if he needed.
Coulson took Bobbi's hand so that his daughter could help him up, then gave each of his children and grandchildren quick, though tight hugs. He didn't say that any of them could come to him during the night... but he knew they would understand that they could.
Wanda leaned into her father, holding onto him... for comfort as well as for support.
Standing up as well, Ben patted each of them gently on the shoulder. "Good night," he said.
Clint gave everyone a quick nod of his head, a small smile and a quiet, "G'night." He then led Wanda upstairs, making sure she didn't trip in her half asleep stage.
Grant quickly gave everyone a hug before heading up himself.
"I'll see you all in the morning, bright and early..." Paul teased. "Tomorrow is our 'day off', so we just need to take care of the animals and the rest of the day will be free..." Patting his brother on the back, he wrapped his arms around Cathy and headed upstairs.
Bobbi yawned again, but after hugging everyone still in the room, she didn't go anywhere, waiting for her father.
Pietro headed upstairs with his father and sister and Natasha followed on behind, holding back a yawn.
Coulson wrapped his arm around Bobbi's waist, gently guiding her up the stairs, his own father bringing up the rear.
Clint said good-night to Pietro at the door to his room, giving his son a quick hug. Sounds of snoring from within indicated that Grant was already dead to the world. Chuckling slightly, Clint led Wanda to their room. It didn't take long before both of them were sound asleep themselves.
Bobbi had quickly got ready for bed and crawled in. As soon as her father was ready and next to her, she curled up against him, snuggling.
Paul lay next to his wife, holding her tightly. The night before hadn't been very restful; something that didn't normally occur, since they were both hard workers and were usually so tired at the end of the day, nothing could disturb their sleep short of an emergency. But the dreams he'd had....
He hadn't told them to anyone else, even after finding out he wasn't the only one to dream. It was too distressing. He hoped to never dream anything like that again. Finally...his weariness overcame his active brain and he fell asleep....
He couldn't help but tense up as the doorbell rang. As if walking through a long tunnel, he headed to the door, but it was taking him so much longer than it should. It felt like he was walking through mud...every step an effort just to move an inch. By the time he reached the door- and he blinked as he realized he was suddenly in front of the door opening it (he didn't remember walking the last five feet)- he was dreading answering. But the persistent knocking wouldn't stop, so he opened the door...only to be faced with one of his army buddies that had died in Vietnam.
Gulping, he tried to step back, but his feet wouldn't move. It wouldn't have been so bad, seeing his friend, if he had been in the shape he was while alive. The being standing in front of him right now was obviously not living. What was the term for it now-a-days? Undead? The state of life, or unlife, didn't affect the voice coming from the body. "I regret to inform you that your brother Philip was killed in the line of duty yesterday afternoon. He stood against an alien invader and died protecting the world....Are you going to have a funeral for him?"
Paul's eyes flew open and he gasped in shock as his buddy's face suddenly turned into his wife's.
Coulson had often had bad dreams. It was one of those things that he accepted and dealt with... and most of the time, his family being close to him meant that the bad dreams were kept at bay.
Not this time.
Coulson stood outside his house, key in hand. A feeling of dread overwhelmed him as he realised he couldn't hear anything. The whole area was silent. No children playing. No one calling to each other.
As he prepared to unlock the door, fumbling with his key, the sound of a baby screaming made him jerk, the key dropping to the ground. Unable to find it, Coulson kicked in the door and quickly entered the house... only for the screams to be cut off, abruptly and suddenly.
Racing through the house, maniacal laughter echoed in Coulson's ears as he tracked his way to the living area... where the bodies of his children and grandchildren lay.
Natasha had lost count of how many times she woke up, with her throat sore from screaming, after her father had taken her in. With time and love from both her father and brother, she'd been able to heal... mostly... emotionally, if not from the physical scars.
Now, her dream catapulted her right back into that time.
Natasha stood, her hand holding onto the gun. It wavered a little in her hand, but then she held it steady... knowing she couldn't show any sign of weakness.
A man sat on a chair, a hood covering his head.
"Shoot him. He was trespassing."
The flat, emotionless tone came from her left. Natasha's fingers trembled on the trigger, but the order was repeated... until a thousand voices were screaming at her to shoot. She squeezed the trigger and the voices stopped. Suddenly.
The man in the chair slumped forward, the hood falling from his head. And Natasha was looking into the dead eyes of her brother.
Bobbi didn't often dream...one of the things she'd made sure to learn how to do as soon as she'd realized the numerous options available to her as a SHIELD agent...was to learn methods of controlling her thoughts and dreams, so that she wouldn't accidently say things in her sleep while undercover that might get her killed. She tended to use this ability all the time, even when not on a mission, for the simple fact that she didn't want to think on some of the things her dreams might consist of. Her methods didn't work this time.
She was walking. The atmosphere was stifling hot and colorless, except for the ground, which was an eerie blood color. She was naked, which in and of itself wouldn't bother her, except she was exposed and vulnerable and didn't know if she was in a safe area or not. She was not looking at the ground where she walked. She was cautiously 'feeling' her way along the ground, attempting to step on the more flat areas, though the ground really wasn't terribly flat in any spot...she was walking on mounds of something not quite soft, but not hard, either...it sunk under her feet and some parts were wet and it was just so uncomfortable, but she couldn't bring herself to look down...some inner voice telling her it would be a very bad idea.
"You killed them, you know..." suddenly echoed out of nowhere. "They would have lived, had you not become part of their lives...." Bobbi winced at the accusation in the words and in the tone. She'd been alone so long...her parents had died when she was a very young child and she'd never got the full story about what had happened, but she'd always suspected it was her fault somehow. She'd been alone until she'd joined SHIELD and then she had a purpose and a chosen family... and then she'd been chosen by her father and she was happy. Why did she have to be reminded of her birth-parents dying because of her? "Oh, you misunderstand..." the accusing voice was mocking now. "You didn't just kill your birth-parents. You killed them all!"
At that moment, she tripped and had to look down...at the bodies she'd been walking on since entering this hell; all of them people she'd come to love...her family....
Bobbi's heartbroken scream echoed through the house.
Clint had woken at the scream as well; his first instinct, though, was to check on Wanda and make sure she was ok... in the seconds before the scream woke her up, he noticed that his daughter was holding herself oddly...almost the same way she'd held herself when he'd first seen her in Sokovia, when she was trying to affect the Avengers. He managed to avoid frowning in worry as pieces of the puzzle began to shift and rearrange in his head. "Are you ok, sweetie?" he asked softly, giving her a quick hug, wanting to make certain she was ok before he got out of bed to go check on his sister and father.
Wanda woke with a soft whimper, blinking at her father, tired and weary. "I... what's happening?" she asked, sounding a bit dazed.
Clint pulled her close and held her, rubbing her back gently and kissing her forehead. "Your aunt had a very bad dream, I'm guessing. She screamed and woke everyone up..." He observed her, concern clear in his eyes. "How ‘bout we go check on her and your grandpa; get you some water? I...I want to make sure you are ok..." He didn't say what he suspected. That would wait until she was fully awake and able to deal with the implications.
Wanda nodded, blinking tiredly as she tried to come to... to focus. She was worn down; and not because of being woken up so suddenly. It was the kind of exhaustion that came from her using her powers... and she suddenly found herself frightened by that thought.
Clint noticed the sudden frightened look in her eye. "Sweet Pea? What's wrong?" His voice was very concerned. He rubbed her back a little more briskly, trying to remind her that she wasn't alone, in the hopes it would drive the fright from her eyes.
Wanda flinched, though she didn't actually pull away... even though she didn't think she deserved comfort. "...Is it me...?" She sounded very scared and very young. "I didn't..." She swallowed, looking close to tears. "I was asleep... I didn't mean to do anything..." She looked terrified enough to bolt.
Clint hugged her even more tightly, pressing a kiss to her head. "...I think you may be using your powers in your sleep...but you haven't done anything wrong. We should have realized that, with all the changes and upheaval, that when you finally let yourself relax, something might happen. But I already have an idea to help you be able to keep control even when relaxed....it will be ok, Sweet Pea."
"But... I'm hurting everyone here..." Wanda couldn't help pressing closer to her father, though, needing the unconditional acceptance he gave her. "I didn't mean to, Papa..." she said, very quietly. "I normally have more control..."
"No...not hurting...no one has been harmed. Scared, yes. Lost a little sleep, sure. But not hurt. And now that we know what is happening, we can do something to stop it." Clint snuggled his daughter closely, kissing her cheek again.
Wanda cuddled in close to her father. "How?" she asked quietly. "If I don't even know how I'm doing it... how can I stop it?" Her voice was quiet and uncertain... still not quite able to release the fear that this would make her father regret his choice to adopt her.
"The same way I control my nightmares...I use some meditation techniques that allow me to relax...to sleep... but still control my mind enough that, if I start thinking about stressful things, I can control it. I'll teach you how to control your thoughts when you are asleep...and then you will use that ability to control your powers as well." Clint smiled at her, kissing the top of her head. "...And until you learn to do so, we will warn everyone what is occurring, so that they'll be aware of what is going on; and when they are able, they can take naps during the day to make up for lost sleep. Since we are all helping out your great-grandfather and great-uncle and aunt with the chores, they'll have a bit of extra time so they can relax more than normal...everyone should be fine." His voice was confident and sure of his plan.
Wanda wrapped her arms around her father, hugging him tightly. "I want to learn to control it while I'm asleep," she said quietly. "Thank you, Papa... I'm sorry this is happening. I can't understand it... because I feel happy. Happier than I ever used to." Since she now had a true family, as well as her twin.
Clint smiled. "And that's why it happened. You're happy. You feel safe and secure. You have allowed yourself to truly relax and let go of the rigid control you were putting on yourself for so long...and while doing that when awake was fine, because you were aware of what was happening and could stop anything you didn't want to occur from occurring, when you were asleep, there was no chance to stop it. But I'll teach you...and then it won't be a problem anymore. You can relax all you want and know that you'll still have control." He kissed her cheek. "Would you like to go see that everyone is ok for yourself?" he asked gently, knowing that until she saw with her own eyes that no one was hurt and no one was mad at her, she wouldn't be able to relax again.
Wanda nodded, leaning her head against her father's chest. "They won't hate me?" she asked in a small voice, scared that she would cause her family to be afraid of her... despite his reassurances.
"I'm positive they won't hate you," Clint reassured his daughter, before standing up and gently helping her to stand. "C'mon. Let's go check on your aunt...."
Coulson was startled awake by his youngest daughter's scream. Without any kind of hesitation, he tugged Bobbi into his arms, cuddling his daughter close and tight and kissing the top of her head.
Natasha appeared in the doorway a moment later, having been woken by the scream. She stepped over to her father and sister, placing a hand quietly on each of their shoulders.
Grant wasn't far behind Natasha, his eyes wide and worried. He hovered at the door uncertainly for a few moments then looked at his father. "I'll go get her some water..." he said softly, disappearing to go do so, passing other family members as they made their way out into the hallway in various stages of confused worry.
Bobbi had immediately buried her face against her father's chest as soon as she'd stopped screaming, sobbing almost silently as the images from her dream didn't leave and she couldn't get them out of her head.
Coulson hugged Bobbi tightly to himself, stroking her hair and kissing the top of her head. He spoke soft, soothing words to her, trying to help her realize she was with them... she was safe.
Bobbi finally stopped sobbing, though she was still crying by the time Grant returned with the glass of water and handed it to their father. She was afraid to let go of him and was shivering as if she was freezing, even though the room wasn't cold in the least.
Coulson took the glass, though he didn't let go of Bobbi, hugging her tightly to himself and kissing her forehead. "You're safe," he whispered to her. "Nothing can hurt you..."
Natasha sat on the edge of the bed, gently rubbing Bobbi's arm.
"S'not real...s'not real...s'not real..." Bobbi began to mutter under her breath, trying to drive the horrific images out of her mind that way. It wasn't working, but her father's affection and tight hold were at least helping her to calm down. She wasn't sure she'd be able to sleep again the rest of the night, though. She blindly reached over and grasped Natasha's hand, even as she finally peeked out from where she'd been hiding her face against her father. She smiled weakly at Grant and swallowed, then coughed, her throat clogged from all the tears.
Grant bit his lip. "Do you want to talk about it?" he asked hesitantly. His own dreams were bad enough. He wasn't sure he wanted to hear about dreams that caused his normally brave and composed baby-sister to break in that manner.
"No!" Bobbi closed her eyes tightly and blurted out as if afraid they would insist.
Coulson cuddled Bobbi tightly, pressing a kiss to her head. "You don't have to talk about it," he said gently. "Why don't you try drinking something, at least?" He threaded his fingers through her hair, his worry obvious.
Bobbi nodded, sitting up carefully and holding out her hand for the glass, but quickly retracted her hand when it became obvious she was shaking too badly to hold it without spilling water everywhere.
Coulson kept his arm around Bobbi's shoulders and gently brought the glass to her lips so that she could drink.
Bobbi obediently drank the water, draining the glass before sniffling and putting her head back on her father's chest. "Sorry I woke you all up...and sorry for spazzing out so badly and scaring you...." Her voice was small and embarrassed and still a bit nervous.
Coulson put the glass down and kissed the top of Bobbi's head. "Don't apologize," he said, his voice soft and loving. "You can't help what happened... I just want you to know that we're here for you."
Bobbi nodded, snuggling close to her father. "....Is everyone else alright?" she finally asked, with more than a hint of worry. She wasn't sure if the others were staying away because they were ok and had gone back to sleep, if they'd stayed away because there wasn't enough room for more than her brother and sister in the room with her and her dad, or if they were staying away because she'd frightened them so badly, and they thought something horrible had happened.
"I think everyone would be crowding in here if they could," Coulson said honestly. "But they know we're in here with you... and that you were responding to us. But I'm sure everyone else is going to start checking on you." He kissed her forehead. "Everyone's all right... don't worry, sweetie."
Bobbi pressed closer so she could listen to her father's heartbeat, a secondary assurance that he was ok. "I'm sorry to be such a baby...just...no one was ok in..." She swallowed again and sighed softly. "I never want to dream that again..." she said in a haunted voice.
Coulson gently stroked her hair. "If you need to talk about it, you can... but we're here, Bobbi. I love you, sweetie. No matter what you dreamed... everyone here is safe. And you're safe, too."
Bobbi nodded. "Ok, daddy...thank you." She snuggled a bit more before glancing at the door, hearing footsteps coming their way. She sat up straighter and wiped at her eyes when she saw that it was Clint and Wanda. "Are you ok, sweetie?" She looked at Wanda worriedly, noting that the younger woman looked worried and scared.
Wanda pressed in close to her father, her eyes darting around the room, noticing how tired they all looked. "I..." She bit her lip. "I wanted to make sure you're all right... and..." She looked even more uncertain. "I think... and Papa does as well... that the dreams are my doing... that I'm using my powers in my sleep without realizing..." Her eyes filled with tears. "I'm sorry..."
Bobbi saw how upset Wanda was and her heart went out to the girl. "Oh, sweetie, no...you have nothing to be sorry for..." Walking across the bed on her knees until she got close enough to tug Wanda closer, she reached out and pulled her niece into her arms and held onto her tightly. "You did nothing wrong...and if you think you know what's happening, that means you can figure out a way to stop it, which is good. I'm perfectly fine. Your grandpapa has me...." Bobbi said softly against Wanda's ear, although everyone could hear. "...Just like I imagine your papa has you." Bobbi smiled crookedly at Clint over Wanda's shoulder.
Wanda quickly hugged her aunt back tightly in return. "This is the first time something like this has ever happened," she admitted, obviously worried. "Papa said he can help me learn to control it... I just wish it hadn't affected all of you."
"Trust me...if it wasn't this, it would have been something else..." Bobbi's tone was slightly amused, but wholly confident of that fact. "Even if it didn't happen to anyone else, I have a knack for drawing trouble..." Her smile was chagrined and she couldn't help but glance over her shoulder at her father, almost as an apology for being such a trouble magnet.
Clint chuckled. "See? They aren't mad at you, Sweet Pea. And we will work on you learning to control it. But until then, I think we all need a bit more sleep...." He glanced at his siblings and father, to make certain they were definitely okay, before wrapping his arms around Wanda to draw her back to bed.
"Yeah...I'm going to go back to bed...I'll make sure Pietro is ok, too..." Grant muttered softly, giving his sister a quick hug and kiss on the cheek before following Clint and Wanda out of the room.
Wanda walked quietly alongside her father, feeling better now... even if she was still feeling guilty about losing control of her powers.
Pietro had slipped out of the room he and Grant were sharing and he glanced worriedly at his sister and father.
Natasha gently squeezed her father's and sister's shoulders, before heading out of the rom as well.
Coulson drew Bobbi back into his arms once more and kissed her head. "Try and get some sleep, sweetie. I'll be right here. I won't leave your side. I promise."
Clint placed a hand on Pietro's shoulder, squeezing gently. "Everyone is ok, son. Try and get some more sleep." Leaning over, he kissed his son on the cheek then glanced at Grant.
Grant smiled at his brother, wrapping an arm around his nephew's shoulders. "C'mon, kid. Morning comes early. Let's try and get some more sleep." He gently drew Pietro back to their room.
Bobbi snuggled closer to her father. "Ok, daddy. I love you so much!" Her voice was vehement. If the nightmare had terrified her and made her more clingy, it had also reminded her that she needed to make sure her family knew how much she loved them.
Pietro still looked worried, but he went with Grant without any protest.
Coulson lay down, still with Bobbi in his arms. "I love you, sweetie." His voice was soft and firm. "That is always going to be true. If ever you need to talk about what you dreamed... I'm always here for you." He kissed her cheek.
Bobbi easily followed her father back down so that she was laying against him, her head on his chest again. "I know, daddy..." she whispered. "...I just want to forget about it." She was afraid she might not be able to forget about it, but that was what she wanted to do. Closing her eyes, she focused on her father's heartbeat and the fact that he was holding onto her tightly...and somehow, despite her fear, she fell asleep again.
Clint, feeling that trying to have as much of a routine as possible would help Wanda- at least while she was learning- got up at the same early time as they had the day before...urging his daughter to join him. He wasn't surprised that Uncle Paul was already working on what few chores they had to do for the day. He wasn't even really all that surprised that Grant was out there helping him; Grant usually did get up fairly early in the morning. He was a bit surprised Pietro was with Grant, but decided it was good that his son and his baby brother got along so well and decided to let them have some time to themselves. Turning toward Wanda, he smiled. "Let's go help your Aunt finish up breakfast and then you and I will begin your training." His voice sounded excited, eager even, like he was looking forward to teaching her.
Wanda nodded, sticking close to her father. "I'm glad you're going to teach me, Papa." She was still a bit subdued, but it helped a lot that her family didn't blame her... and she was always happy to spend more time with her father, having gone for so long without any kind of parental figure in her life.
Clint grinned at his daughter. "I could teach you a lot of different things...if you are interested..." He glanced away a bit sheepishly, but then turned and grinned at her again. "But first...how about we help your Aunt Cath with breakfast?" He said the last loudly enough that his aunt would hear him and not be startled when he and Wanda slipped into the kitchen.
Cathy looked up as her nephew and great-niece came into the kitchen and smiled at them. "Why don't you help me scramble some eggs, Wanda?" she asked the young girl.
Wanda nodded, pressing close to her father a moment or two before she moved over to Cathy's side. She didn't say it out loud... but she wanted to learn from her father.
Grant looked at his nephew as they finished mucking out the stalls. "I think that's all of it... Are there any more animals that need tending that we haven't met yet, Uncle Paul?" he called out to his uncle, willing to continue working, but also eager to move on to the 'fun' part of the day if there weren't any more chores.
Paul looked around, his face slightly surprised. "You all did a real good job!"
"You don't have to look so surprised about it!" Grant laughed amicably.
Paul grinned at his nephew and great-nephew. "Well, because you all were up to help me, we finished earlier than I normally do. We can go in for breakfast earlier than normal and surprise your aunt." He walked over to the two younger men and put an arm around each of their shoulders to lead them back to the house. "First, though, you'll probably want to shower. You stink."
Pietro allowed himself to be led, wrinkling his nose. "Yeah... a shower sounds really good right now," he agreed. He was hot and sweaty... and covered in all sorts of things he didn't want to even think about.
Grant laughed, sniffing then made a face. "Yeah. I'll let you go first, Petey..." he teased. "I'll just stand outside so I don't stench up the entire house with my cologne."
Bobbi woke slowly, realizing it was a lot later than she'd woken up the day before. Blinking, she glanced up at her dad. "I didn't get up to help..." Her voice was a mixture of apology and disappointment; she'd actually enjoyed helping her aunt and uncle the other day.
Coulson had stayed with his daughter, even though he'd been awake. He gently stroked her hair and kissed her head. "You needed the sleep, sweetie," he said softly. "Today's one of the less-busy days on the farm... there's plenty you'll be able to do to help out on other days."
Bobbi nodded, snuggling closer to her father, soaking up the affection. She didn't tell him she'd also wanted to help in the hopes that it would help her forget her dream. It had been bad enough dreaming that everyone she'd ever cared about and loved was dead under her feet, but she'd also dreamt it was her fault. It was hard to take. Sighing softly, she nuzzled into her father's chest and hugged him tightly, before reluctantly letting go and sitting up. "Guess I should get dressed and at least brush my teeth..." She grinned crookedly.
Coulson sat up as well, gently stroking his daughter's hair. "You might need to wait a couple of minutes. I think someone's using the bathroom right now."
Bobbi leaned into her father again. "Sorry to be so clingy..." she muttered, even as she lay her head on his shoulder and got closer so he could hold her tighter.
"Don't apologize," Coulson said softly. "I honestly don't mind you being clingy... and you had a bad dream. I don't need to know the details to know that."
"I know you don't mind...still...." Bobbi blushed slightly, but didn't bother pulling away. "I think I just heard the door to the bath...maybe I should slip in before someone else gets there..." She laughed softly, but carefully disentangled herself and grabbed her toothbrush. She could dress in the room after her mouth didn't feel like cotton anymore.
Coulson nodded and kissed the top of her head. "We can go down to breakfast in a couple of minutes," he said.
Grant was as good as his word, standing outside on the porch while Pietro went in to get his shower.
"I could always just hose you off; it's not like it isn't warm enough..." his uncle Paul teased, his voice carrying through the kitchen window to everyone making breakfast.
Cathy left Clint and Wanda to step over to the window. "You're finished already?" She smiled at her husband and nephew. "Grant? Do you want something to drink?"
Grant grinned, "If I could have some of your fresh squeezed juice, that'd be wonderful, Aunt Cath!" he enthused.
"Of course." Cathy went over to fill two glasses with freshly-squeezed juice, coming back to the window to pass one to Grant and the other to her husband.
"Thanks, Sunshine..." Paul winked at his wife then took a long sip of the juice.
Grant grinned. "Yeah, thanks, Aunt Cath; you make the best juice..." He took his own sip and sighed in satisfaction.
Cathy smiled at them both. "We can always send you some things when you're not here visiting," she commented to Grant. Of course, not everything was easy to mail... but there were things they could easily.
"And...I think I see Pietro now...would you like the shower next, Uncle Paul?" Grant asked deferentially.
Paul grinned and shook his head. "No, Squirt. We have a bath attached to our room...I was just keeping you company." He laughed, patting Grant on the shoulder. "Let's go get cleaned up."
Grant laughed, but followed his uncle into the house.
Bobbi had made it in to the bath to quickly take care of basic needs and was heading back to her room when Grant made it up the stairs. "Hey, bro..." she said bashfully...embarrassed about having woken him up the night before.
Grant quickly walked over and was about to give her a big hug when her nose wrinkled at the smell. "Uh... I'm glad you seem to be feeling better," he said instead, giving her a grin. "I want my hug when I'm done cleaning up..." he said over his shoulder, disappearing into the bath.
Bobbi laughed. "You got it..." She went back to the room and smiled at her dad. "Grant's in the shower. Smells like he fell into the muck...." She grabbed her clothes and quickly began to change.
Coulson smiled at his daughter, having got up and prepared his toiletries to take into the bathroom with him when it was free. "I'm sure that's a potential problem when working on a farm," he teased. "Are you feeling better now, sweetie?"
"Much better, daddy..." Bobbi said with a smile. "Being with you helped..." she admitted abashedly. "I guess I should go down and at least set the table..." She grinned.
Coulson kissed her cheek. "I love you," he said, his voice quiet and sincere. "I'll see you downstairs in a couple of minutes."
"Ok, daddy." Giving her father one last hug, Bobbi went downstairs into the kitchen and found her aunt. "Can I do anything?" she asked quietly.
After breakfast, Clint had found a quiet room of the house and led Wanda to it, having her sit on the floor facing him. "Ok. The first thing you'll want to do is learn to control your breathing...." He began to teach her the first step in retaining control all the time.
Wanda sat down opposite her father, relieved that she was having help to hopefully stop her powers from escaping her control... but also wanting to let her father teach her. She was eager to follow his directions, having missed out on so much parental guidance during her life.
Once they had just practiced breathing at different rates of speed and shallow and deep breaths, Clint remarked, "You should practice every day until you are able to slow your breathing down and make it shallow without your body fighting you to gasp or gulp in air. This will be especially useful during stressful situations when your body naturally wants you to take in more air. If you can control your breathing, you'll be able to control the rest of your body's responses. If you do this at night, it should allow you to assert control over your dreams and your abilities also."
During his explanation, Clint had continued to control his breathing, while beginning to do a headstand almost effortlessly. He hoped to show his daughter that it was possible to control your body, even when not actively paying attention to what you were doing.
Wanda listened intently to her father's explanation, continuing to follow his instructions. "Is that why you were immune to what I did?" she asked... referring both to the time she had manipulated the Avengers and also to now.
"Partly..." Clint acknowledged. "...Although I know Bruce also uses this technique to help him control the Hulk. I also had experience with someone controlling my mind through the scepter. The feelings between that and you trying to influence me, asleep or otherwise, were similar enough I was able to defend against it. It was an advantage the others don't have; if you want to call any part of mind control an advantage..." Clint smiled.
"It's... scary that I wasn't able to control it while I was asleep," Wanda admitted quietly. "I don't want to hurt anyone, Papa... even if it's not physically, I know it is emotionally." It helped to know they didn't blame her... at the same time, she blamed herself.
"I know. They know as well...and you will learn to control it, so it won't be a problem for you any longer," Clint reassured her. "Come...let's practice your breathing while you try and do something else too..." Taking her by the hand, he led her outside, where they began to briskly walk. "Keep your breathing even and not too deep or shallow," he instructed, as he began a light jog.
Grant had gone to the stables with Pietro shortly after breakfast, where they had groomed then saddled two of the horses. "Let's ride on the trail," he suggested to his nephew. His dreams hadn't been very good either, though he hadn't woken up screaming like his sister, and he was weary. He hoped being out in nature and relaxing would help.
Pietro nodded, having been somewhat subdued... upset about his own dreams and worried about his sister. "Did you want to bring food with us?" he asked.
"I don't plan to be gone that long... we should probably take water, though, just in case..." Grant said. "We can check and see if Uncle Paul or Grandpa have a walkie-talkie...just in case our cell phones don't have service." He was tired and bordering on irritable, so it was a bit annoying to have to think of such a thing, but he had his nephew with him and he knew both his father and brother would expect him and Pietro to take precautions to remain safe.
Noticing his uncle's irritation, Pietro tried not to think about how tired he was. "Did you want me to grab the water?" He didn't think he could hold his temper better than Grant... but he could zoom in and out in a couple of seconds and hopefully not have to play nice with that many people.
"Sure....if you don't mind..." Grant smiled at Pietro. It wasn't the kid's fault Grant was irritable, after all. He didn't know what dreams Grant had been having; how stressful they were. He didn't deserve Grant to blow up at him anymore than any of the rest of the family did.
Pietro nodded and zoomed at full speed into the house, grabbing a couple of water bottles. Coming across Ben, he answered his great-grandfather's question about where they were going and received a couple of walkie talkies. He then sped back out, without running into anyone else.
"Ah...you got the walkie-talkies, too. Great." Grant smiled at the fact he wouldn't have to hunt someone down to get them. "Who did you find?"
"Great-grandfather." Pietro handed over one of the walkie-talkies to his uncle. He smothered a yawn, feeling a slight gritty sensation in his eyes. It wasn't enough to stop him doing anything... but it was enough to make it clear how tired he was.
"Cool...we won't go far. I know I'm tired, so I don't want to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere and needing a nap." He laughed slightly. "C'mon, let's go..." Without any further ado, Grant mounted the horse he was planning to ride and waited for Pietro to mount his own horse before they started down the trail.
Riding a horse was an... interesting experience. Once Pietro got over his worry about falling off, he found he quite enjoyed it; even if, at the back of his mind, he couldn't help thinking that the horse was much slower than he could ever be.
It wasn't long before they came to a break in the trail and Pietro was looking at the second path. It seemed a little steeper, but he thought it might make the ride a bit more interesting if they went a slightly more complicated way. "How about that trail?" he suggested.
"I don't know...I can't see that sign exactly- it has poison ivy growing all over it and I'm not going to touch it to be able to read underneath- but I think the sign is saying not to go that way...." Grant frowned. "Maybe another time, after we ask and find out where the trail leads..." Grant finally said. Part of him really wanted to go look at that trail, but he didn't want to take the horses somewhere where they might break a leg or something equally horrendous.
"Okay." Pietro looked a little disappointed, but he didn't push the issue, instead turning his horse towards the safer... if a bit more boring in appearance... trail.
Grant could tell his nephew was disappointed...he was too, a little, he had to admit to himself. But not being familiar with the terrain, he couldn't justify risking the horses' health in that manner. "Maybe we can go tomorrow..." he finally said. "We'll pack something to eat, some water... and hike. Then we can go that way and not have to worry about if it is too steep for the horses..."
Pietro brightened up a bit at that. "I'd like that," he agreed. He and Wanda had spent most of their time in cities. He'd had very few chances to see the countryside and he didn't want to leave without taking the opportunity to see everything he could.
Grant grinned. "Me too."
Bobbi had spent the morning reading, in the hopes that occupying her mind with something fun would help her forget the dream she'd had. It hadn't worked. Neither had spending time with her aunt and Natasha. She'd managed to focus and smile enough that she thought they hadn't realized she was distracted.
Now, she was standing outside on the porch. She'd come to a conclusion that the only way she'd be able to forget the nightmare was through outside means...and had decided to drive to the nearest bar and get plastered.
She was pretty sure no one in her family would approve of her plan. Even forgetting the fact she was planning to go alone, it was at least an hour's drive to the nearest bar. Unless she found someone to spend the night with, something she didn't want to do, she'd be hard pressed to make it back home without driving drunk or spending a fortune on cab fare.
She supposed she could ask a family member to go with her, but that would mean explaining why she wanted to go, which would worry them. Sighing, she made up her mind to go alone. Heading back inside, she went upstairs to her room and looked through her dad's stuff, palming the keys to the car. Then, she went back downstairs.
On her way back to the porch, she passed the living room where her grandfather, uncle and father were all watching a baseball game. She paused slightly, having second thoughts.
Coulson wasn't so engrossed in the baseball game that he missed his youngest daughter passing by the living room and then pausing. He raised his eyes to make eye contact with Bobbi, giving his daughter a loving smile. "Hey, sweetie," he said softly. "Do you want to come and join us?" He watched her, his gaze affectionate... but also concerned. He could see she was tired and he worried about her.
Bobbi was hit with a sudden sense of guilt. While she hadn't done anything wrong, she knew just sneaking out without a word would cause worry to her family; and her plans weren't exactly safe, either. Her guilt was clear on her face...though she really wasn't trying to hide it. It was only one second and she knew what she had to do.
Walking into the room, she noted her father was sitting on the couch. Heading straight for her father, she lay down on her stomach on the couch, stretched over her father's lap. "I need you to stop me, daddy," she said, a bit forlornly.
Coulson gently ran his fingers through his daughter's hair. He didn't need to ask her to clarify. He could tell that she was feeling out of sorts... and even though outright punishing Bobbi was out of the question when she hadn't actually done anything, he had an idea that he thought might help her. "Shall we go to our room, sweetie?" It was no secret how things were handled... but at the same time, Coulson tried very hard not to embarrass his children any more than was a necessary part of how they dealt with things.
"Yes, sir..." Bobbi said softly, sitting up carefully and looking at the ground, unable to face her father or the other men. Wordlessly, she handed him his car keys.
Taking the keys from his daughter, Coulson wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "I love you," he whispered to her, before standing and guiding Bobbi from the living room, heading to the stairs. He held her close and gently stroked her hair.
Bobbi willingly let her father lead her to their room, waiting until they were safely inside to speak again. "I was going to drive to a bar...to get drunk..." she admitted softly. She left unsaid that she planned to go without telling anyone else.
Coulson pressed another kiss to his daughter's forehead. "I'm glad you came and told me before you went and did it," he said softly. He led Bobbi over to the bed and took a seat, gently guiding his daughter across his lap.
"I almost didn't," Bobbi admitted with a whimper, not fighting the position. She'd asked her father to stop her...she wasn't going to argue his method of doing so.
Coulson rubbed Bobbi's back gently. "You did... and I'm proud of you for doing that." Moving his hand lower, he began swatting gently... more love pats, really, than hard smacks. He hoped the position and the mild swats would be enough to give his youngest daughter the push she needed.
Bobbi relaxed. Something about the position calmed her in a way everything else she had tried didn't. She focused on the swats- not hard enough to be painful but hard enough to leave a slight sting behind. She curled her fingers into the cover of the bed and swallowed hard. "I wanted to forget...I can't forget...." she admitted slowly... beginning to tear up; not because of what was happening, but because she was so tired and couldn't forget the horror she'd dreamed about.
"I know," Coulson said softly. "Some horror stays with you. I know that, even if I don't know exactly what you dreamed about. But with the love from your family... even if the images themselves stay with you, the horror can lessen to the point where it doesn't affect you as much."
"I feel like I never want to sleep again..." she admitted hoarsely. "I'm afraid I'm going to do something stupid and next time I won't come to you before it is too late." She clenched the cover more tightly. "I'm just afraid..." she said, with a hint of shame.
Coulson didn't let up on the swats, even as he kept them at the exact same level. "We'll deal with it any way we need to," he promised. "If you're worried, you can stick close to me. I know you're afraid, sweetie. You don't need to be. I'm here for you. Exactly where I'm always going to be," he promised.
"I know, daddy..." She moved one of her hands to grasp her father's leg. "I...I think I need to stick close to you...." she confessed, slumping slightly... The swats comforted her in a way they normally didn't and she found herself relaxing even further, her eyes beginning to blink from weariness.
"I'm going to keep you close." Coulson's voice was firm and loving. "I love you, sweetie. No matter what. And I'm right here for you to lean on. Whenever and wherever you need to. You are so important to me."
"I love you, daddy..." Bobbi whispered, slumping even further. The sting had finally built enough that she had to squirm, but she was glad for it. It would remind her, for at least a little while, that her daddy had her. "Thank you ..." Her voice was quiet and sleepy. "I think I'm gonna fall asleep, daddy..." she whispered, in a sheepish tone, and tried to keep her eyes open.
Coulson gently gathered Bobbi into his arms, pressing an affectionate kiss to the top of her head as he held her and stroked her hair. "Sleep, sweetie," he said softly in her ear. "I have you, I promise."
Snuggling into father's arms, she protested slightly. "You'll miss your game..." She knew he wouldn't leave her alone, though. Not when he knew what she was going through. "We can go back downstairs...I'll stay with you..." she said softly. She had a feeling it wouldn't take her long to fall asleep there, either...at least he'd be able to spend time with the family while she did. She fought to keep her eyes open long enough to get back downstairs into the living room.
"Bobbi..." Coulson kissed her cheek. "You're more important than the game. And your uncle and grandfather will understand," he promised. "I'm sure we can find something to do together with them later, when you wake up."
"Sorry I messed up..." Bobbi said sadly, snuggling closer and giving up trying to convince him. She closed her eyes and fell asleep before he could respond.
Kissing his daughter's cheek, Coulson continued to cuddle her tightly. "I love you," he reiterated, hoping his words would follow her into her dreams and give her some comfort.
When Grant and Pietro returned from their ride and had cooled down and groomed the horses before putting them in their stall for the night, they walked into the house, noting how quiet it was. "Wonder where everyone is at?" Grant wondered out loud.
Just then, his uncle walked in from the living room. "Well, your grandfather and I just finished watching a ball game. I think your dad is still with your baby sister, though,” he said to Grant. “And someone might want to check on your dad and sister...they haven't left that room since they went in earlier today," he said in an aside to Pietro.
Pietro looked somewhat worried... though he was fairly certain nothing bad had happened to his father or his sister. After all, he and Wanda were close enough that he'd know if something had happened. "I'll go and see what they're doing... Thanks," he said to his great-uncle, before heading to the room indicated and knocking briefly, though he entered without waiting for a response.
"I'll....um...go check on dad and Bobbi, then..." Grant said, running a hand through his hair and looking up the stairs worriedly. After Bobbi had woken up screaming the night before, he'd been worried about her. He walked quietly up the stairs in case they were sleeping, but still moved quickly. He quietly knocked on the bedroom his father had been using, then gently pushed the door open and glanced inside.
Coulson had moved enough to gently tuck Bobbi into the bed and he was now sitting next to her, stroking her hair. As the door opened, he looked up and smiled at Grant, holding an arm out to his youngest son. "Did you have a nice time riding?" he asked softly.
Grant just nodded at his father with a smile, afraid to say anything and possibly wake his sister up. He moved closer and carefully sat down next to his dad. "She ok?" he whispered worriedly.
Coulson wrapped his arm around Grant's shoulders, pressing a kiss to his son's head. "She's very tired," he said softly. "What about you? I know you must have been dreaming as well..." Although he himself was tired, Coulson would always take care of his children first and foremost.
Grant shrugged slightly. "My dreams were all about what could have happened if I had truly believed in HYDRA and never come back to you.... They've woken me up a few times, but I know it never happened that way and it never will happen, so I guess even though they are distressing, they aren't terrifying to me. I don't know what she dreamed, but for it to terrify her so badly, it had to be something that is possible in some small way, even if unlikely. Did she tell you what she dreamed?" He looked at his father curiously.
Coulson shook his head. "Whatever it was, it caused her enough distress that she came close to heading out to a bar and getting drunk. She came to me instead..." He tightened his embrace around Grant. "I'm glad all of you are close by," he said softly. "I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost any of you." He didn't talk like that very often... but all of his children were incredibly important to him. And he wanted them to know that.
Grant blinked at that. "She was going off to get drunk, but came to you instead? I take it she had planned to go alone? Otherwise, you would have phrased it differently..." He glanced at his sleeping sister. "Glad she came to you. With everything going on in our lives...all the enemies we have...not to mention just plain old bad stuff that happens randomly...don't think I like the idea of her being inebriated without having anyone with her to back her up if something happened."
"That's why I ended up going to daddy..." Bobbi's sleepy voice carried to her family. "...I knew daddy wouldn't like it either...especially since I hadn't planned to even let anyone know I was leaving." Her tone turned sheepish and she slowly sat up, turning so she could sit next to her father on the bed. "I knew if I told him, he'd make sure I didn't do something stupid, though...." She grinned crookedly at her brother.
Grant's eyebrow went up. "Well, that's one way to keep from getting into trouble..." He chuckled, reaching over and roughing his sister's hair up, his chuckle turning to a laugh as she protested and swatted at his hand.
Grant looked at his dad again. "Pietro was going to collect Clint and Wanda; apparently, they spent the entire morning and most of the afternoon with him teaching her...I got the impression that everyone forgot about lunch. Thinking about going downstairs to fix something up, if someone hasn't already beat me to it."
Coulson wrapped his other arm around Bobbi's waist, squeezing her gently to him a moment or two before he nodded. "Good idea. I suspect everyone's starting to get hungry." He pressed a kiss to each of their foreheads before gently releasing them. "I love both of you... I'm glad we've been able to have this time to spend with the rest of the family."
"I am, too..." Grant admitted to his father, wrapping his arms around both his father and sister and squeezing tight.
Bobbi grinned. "I'm three...." she said impishly, before standing and straightening her clothes. "I'll meet you both downstairs...I need to wash my face, so I don't look like I just woke up...."
"Lead the way, then." Grant motioned to his father, his own grin impish.
Coulson released Bobbi, after one last squeeze, and then stood up from the bed. Smiling at Grant, he stepped out of the room, even as he asked his youngest son, "Did you have anything planned for tomorrow?"
Grant followed his father downstairs, glancing at him. "Pietro and I figured we'd go on a walk...there were some trails we wanted to explore, but didn't want to take the horses down them because we weren't certain of the terrain," he said.
Coulson nodded, gently brushing his shoulder against his son's. "Just make sure you're both careful." He wasn't scolding... just loving and concerned about his family; particularly knowing how tired they all were.
Clint looked up at the knock on the door then looked at his watch in surprise. "Wow. We've been at this quite a bit, Sweet Pea. I think we should quit for the day and do something that involves movement." He grinned at his daughter, then stood up and winced as the blood rushed back into his legs. "And maybe a snack." He held out a hand to Wanda to help her up.
Wanda placed a hand in Clint's and stood up, making a slight face as she felt the pins and needles in her legs. She glanced towards the door as Pietro entered. "Where were you?" she asked curiously.
Pietro shrugged. "Riding. It was an interesting experience."
Clint glanced at his watch. "I'd say it is well past time for lunch...the fact that no one thought about it tells me that everyone got very involved with whatever they were doing and forgot to eat. So...I say, let's go make dinner for Aunt Cath and let her have more of a vacation herself. Surprise her. If she isn't already in the kitchen..." He started walking that way, still holding Wanda's hand and taking hold of Pietro's on the way out. "You can tell us about your riding trip while we fix food." He grinned at Pietro.
Wanda leaned into her father, even as she nodded. "Pietro and I have a lot of experience cooking," she said, thinking about how they'd been on their own for so long... and how they weren't any longer.
Pietro snorted softly and eyed his father and sister. "It was just riding. Nothing really special."
"Nothing special? You didn't even see one floppy eared varmint on the trail? I'm disappointed. I thought I'd go hunting and we'd have rabbit stew..." Clint teased, just to see what his children would say. He led them into the kitchen and, not seeing Catherine there, began to get out ingredients to begin cooking dinner. "Seriously, though...do you think everyone would like my famous lasagna?"
"We've eaten a lot worse than rabbit stew, Pop," Pietro commented, his voice wry, even as he went to help his father with the ingredients.
"I'm sure it's good," Wanda said loyally. "What does it have in it?" She waited to see what she could help with.
Clint shook his head at his son and rolled his eyes. "If I'd said that to your Aunt Bobbi, she'd be protesting me killing Thumper..." He laughed. "The lasagna has lasagna noodles, of course. It also has a mixture of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses... I tend to not use meat; mainly because that way, if we have unexpected guests who are vegetarian, they can still eat it. But I do have a secret spice that I use..." He held up the bottle and showed his kids. "I can make a meat lasagna if you think that everyone would prefer that. I don't think anyone in the family has become vegetarian without letting me know...."
Wanda shrugged and pressed close to her father for a moment or two. "It's not like we have to eat meat. I'm sure it's fine the way it is."
"Yeah, I'm curious to see what it takes like." Pietro smiled at his father.
Paul walked in at that moment. "I'm sure your Aunt Cath won't mind eating vegetarian in the least. She keeps telling me I eat too much meat as it is, so...." His uncle came closer to the oven and sniffed. "Smells good.... Need me to help get a salad together or something? Or I can go tell your aunt that dinner is taken care of. I think I saw her frantically putting whatever it was she and Natasha were working on away so that she could get started." He patted his nephew on the back, before drawing his great-nephew and niece into a hug.
Wanda went willingly into the hug, having become quite comfortable with the contact from her father and the rest of the family since Clint had adopted her and her brother. "I'm not sure what else needs to be done..." She glanced inquiringly at her father.
Pietro was still a little unsure about accepting affection from anyone other than his sister, but he tried to make the effort, so allowed himself to be pulled into the hug.
Clint grinned at his uncle and children. "A salad would probably be a good addition, if you all want to start chopping up vegetables."
Paul nodded and gave one last squeeze to Pietro and Wanda before heading to the fridge to pull out salad fixings. "I can get the salad started if you two want to go find your Aunt Cath and Aunt Nat and your great-grandpapa...." He easily slipped into calling his father what he'd heard Wanda refer to him as.
Pietro nodded and headed out of the kitchen, dragging his sister along with him... conveniently just as their grandpa and uncle were coming down the stairs. "Pop and Uncle Paul are working on food," he said.
"Do you know where Aunt Natasha and Aunt Cathy are?" Wanda asked."Or Great-Grandpapa?"
"You could try the living room," Coulson suggested.
Grant nodded his agreement, just in time to be met by his niece and nephew. "Yeah, pretty sure grandpa was in the living room when we first came in. Dunno about Aunt Cath or Nat...but they might be there by now too...."
Even knowing that his sister was responsible for the dreams, unconsciously, Pietro found himself unable to fight against those dreams as he slipped into sleep.
Pietro held Wanda close to himself, prepared to use his own body to protect her if the bomb went off. He knew their parents were dead, but he directed Wanda to close her eyes, making sure she didn't see those sights, as they waited for rescue.
And then Ultron was grabbing for his sister... tearing at her soft flesh with cruel metal fingers, while Pietro was held immobile, helpless, by some of the robots.
And then he was running... running towards his father... but not reaching Clint in time and unable to stop the bullets that pierced through his body...
Pietro's own soft cry startled him awake.
Dinner had been pleasant...relaxing...and the family had enjoyed spending time with each other. They'd spent a long time after just talking...playing twenty questions and 'never have I ever' before they'd all of one accord decided it was time for bed. Grant had high hopes that his sleep would be better. He was so tired and he thought that, more than anything, should help him avoid dreaming again; even if it was dreaming induced by his niece. So it was very frustrating when he found himself suffering with a bout of insomnia. The only good thing about the situation was he was aware when his nephew started having his dream...and was already reaching to wrap the younger man in a hug when Pietro cried out.
Pietro burrowed into the hug, even though that was something he would have denied doing had he been fully awake and aware. He tried to swallow back his sobs, but the images of his dreams were too intense... the best he could do was try to make his tears as quiet as possible.
"It's ok, I've got you..." Grant attempted to sooth his nephew, holding him tightly and gently rocking him. "Everyone is fine...you aren't alone...." He had no clue what Pietro had dreamed, but he had a feeling it involved the family.
It took Pietro longer than he was comfortable with to calm down, but eventually, his tears died away to quiet sniffles. He held onto Grant, but said, very quietly, "Need to see... Papa." He had to reassure himself that his father was safe.
Grant nodded. "Ok. I'll take you to him," he agreed. Standing up carefully, he helped Pietro out of bed; then, wrapping his arm around his nephew's shoulders, he led him into Clint's room.
Clint sat up immediately, glancing toward where his brother and son stood. "Grant? Pietro...son?"
Pietro had done his best to wipe away his tears, but his eyes still looked quite red. Seeing his father, he relaxed visibly. "I... dreamed..." he said in a quiet voice, not wanting to admit what he dreamed about... or that it had scared him enough that he had to make sure his father was all right.
Wordlessly, Clint held his arm out to his son, inviting him into the bed. "Come here, son.... Thank you for bringing him, Grant."
Grant nodded, patting Pietro on the shoulder gently before going back to his own room.
Pietro immediately went to his father. If there had been anyone else in the room, he probably would have been embarrassed... as it was, he cuddled in close to Clint, relaxing even more at the close proximity.
Tugging his son in close, Clint kissed the top of his head, whispering, "I've got you. Everyone is safe. Try to sleep..."
Pietro closed his eyes and sighed, relaxing against his father. The close proximity to Clint was enough to enable him to slip back into sleep, nestling in close.
Grant walked back to his room, more wide awake than he had been before. Sighing in frustration, he lay down on his bed and stared at the ceiling.
Always a fairly light sleeper, Coulson had woken when Grant had guided Pietro through to Clint. Concerned about his youngest son, Coulson gently extricated himself from Bobbi, pressing a kiss to her hair (though he was careful not to wake her) before he quietly slipped through to Grant's room.
Grant realized instantly when his father reached his door, glancing toward it when his father slipped in. "Hi dad..." he whispered, his frustration bleeding through in his tone despite his efforts to seem fine.
Coulson smiled at his son, noting the frustration, and moved over to sit on the edge of the bed, reaching out to stroke Grant's hair. "Can't sleep?" he whispered.
"No...and my eyes feel like sandpaper and my body is starting to ache from how tired it is; I don't get it. I didn't even have a dream this time. I just can't fall asleep." He sighed, rolling over onto his side so he could face his father. "Never had insomnia before...not sure how to deal with it..." he admitted.
"Sometimes, your body can be over tired." Coulson leaned in, pressing a kiss to Grant's forehead. "Along with the dreams, it's probably been quite an emotional time for you. This is the first time you've been able to meet the family you should have grown up around. Not to mention this vacation has been the first time any of us have been able to relax in a long time."
"Great...so if I'm overtired, does that mean I'm going to need to medicate to actually get to sleep?" He sounded resigned and not too hopeful. He doubted his father would want him taking drugs to sleep...not with his past history with abusing medication.
Coulson threaded his fingers through Grant's hair. "Sometimes it helps to do something else for a little while," he said. "Just to relax yourself... make it easier to fall asleep. Like watching television. Or reading a book. Something that takes your mind off trying to fall asleep."
"I guess I could read..." Grant sighed. "I don't want to watch TV and risk waking anyone else up..." He blinked his eyes, yawning, his father's gentle hair-petting relaxing him without him even realizing that was what was occurring.
Coulson continued the gentle hair stroking, also gently rubbing his son's back. "If you had it on quietly, it wouldn't disturb anyone." His voice was soft, warmed through with affection and love.
"M...maybe..." Grant gave up blinking and just closed his eyes; they felt too gritty and stung too much and the effort to hold them open to talk was just too difficult. "D...dunno if I...if I...w......wanna wat..watch in..fo...me....merc...ials......" Grant yawned again, shifting closer to his father almost snuggling.
Coulson wrapped his arms around his son in a tight hug, kissing his cheek. "They might put you to sleep faster than anything else," he said, the affection in his voice mixed with a small amount of fond amusement. He continued to stroke Grant's hair and back, every movement demonstrating just how much he loved his son.
"......pr.......olly................riiiight," Grant slurred, falling asleep in his father's arms.
Coulson continued to hold Grant a few more seconds, in case he woke up, before he gently tucked him into bed and kissed his forehead. "I love you, son," he whispered, hoping the words would follow Grant in his sleep. He lingered for a moment or two more before heading back to his room.
The minute Coulson had got back into bed, Bobbi shifted, putting her head on his shoulder, her arm around his waist and throwing one leg over both of his in some sleep induced bid to keep him from leaving again. She mumbled something unintelligible, nuzzling against him, before settling down again.
Grant had slept better than he'd expected, once he'd fallen asleep. He still had dreams- and they had affected his sleep- but at least he had slept. He was able to push down his irritability and other frustrated feelings due to being tired and he'd enjoyed breakfast. Now, he and Pietro were beginning the hike they had planned the day before. They'd both brought a canteen of water and each had a daypack with a light jacket, small first-aid kit and a small lunch. Grant didn't plan to be gone that long and didn't think anything would happen, but his days as a specialist- and his father's insistence that they always be prepared- made it a foregone conclusion that he'd at least take some precautions. He even made certain to make sure both he and Pietro each had a walkie-talkie in their pack, just in case they got separated or something happened.
Glancing at his nephew, he began a brisk pace down the trail. "You want to go to that trail we saw yesterday? The one that was too steep for the horses?" he asked, to confirm that the younger man hadn't changed his mind.
Pietro nodded. "It looked like it might be more challenging... and, well, I find the challenging route more interesting." As he walked alongside his uncle, he added, a little sheepishly, "I'm sorry... about last night. I should be more used to bad dreams..."
Grant glanced at his nephew and smiled. "Don't be...I can't tell you how many bad dreams have woken me up in my lifetime. Before dad got me, I'd usually end up not going back to sleep... Now, more times than not, I'll end up in bed with him." He shrugged. "Nothing is wrong with needing your family.... Besides. I had a bit of insomnia last night and wasn't sleeping anyway...least, not until dad somehow got me to sleep." He wrinkled his nose in amusement as he remembered talking with his dad while the older man rubbed his back and hair. Somehow, that simple act of affection had calmed him enough to fall asleep in the middle of their conversation.
Shaking his head, he grinned at Pietro. "No need for apologies or embarrassment..." he ordered, continuing the brisk walk toward the trail they wanted to take.
Pietro looked a bit relieved by that. "I'm not really used to having a father... having a family outside of Wanda," he admitted, walking next to Grant towards the trail. "I'm not used to needing anyone like I needed Pop last night."
Grant whistled to get Copper to return back to the trail, the dog having run ahead of them by several feet to explore. He glanced at Pietro. "I wasn't used to needing anyone until Dad got me, either. I mean... I thought I needed this one man; he was the closest thing I'd had to a father up to that point...but he didn't encourage me to lean on him the way I do dad. A lot of my screwed up beliefs, I got from him and Dad has had to work long and hard to teach me a better way of believing." He slanted his head. "Guess what I'm trying to say is...you may not be used to needing someone, but none of us will look down on you for needing...and pretty soon, it won't be so unusual for you. You'll feel more unused to not needing someone. If that helps...." He reached down and scratched Copper's ears, before bringing out the tiny bowl and container of water he'd brought for the animal, pouring a little bit and letting him drink. When Copper had finished, he put the items back into his pack and then took a swig of his own water. "Isn't that the trail we wanted to hike?"
Pietro listened to his uncle before nodding, glancing at the trail. "Yeah. I packed some thick gloves for us... don't know how far that poison ivy might reach." They'd both made sure to put on long sleeves and trousers. "Did you dream about your life before?" he asked, curious about his uncle's past.
"Yeah..." Grant admitted, pausing to try and figure out exactly what he wanted, if anything, to share. "I don't know how much you know about how I was brought into the family..." He glanced at his nephew as he slowed down at the fork in the trail and waited for Pietro to get the gloves out. He also motioned to Copper to heel, afraid that the dog might fall and hurt himself if he left the visible trail.
Pietro took out the pairs of gloves, passing one pair to Grant and putting the other pair onto his own hands. "No one's gone into any details about it. I think they figure you'll share what you're willing to." He paused briefly. "I gathered your history has been pretty awful, though."
"The people who I thought were my family, when I was a kid.... were abusive, to say the least. One of my older brother's favorite things was to make me hurt my little brother...if I didn't, then he would, in a lot worse ways. It...it kills something in you when you hurt someone you care about. I didn't have a lot of love for that family...didn't have a lot of love for anyone, really. One thing led to another; and by the time I was fifteen, I was in juvie, looking at being tried as an adult for arson and attempted murder. My older brother was in the house when I tried to burn it down." Grants words were matter of fact...and truthfully, the past didn't bother him as much as it used to; now that he had his dad in his life and all the rest of the family, he was slowly learning to get over what had happened and been done to him.
He glanced at Pietro as he began pushing aside the poison ivy and following the trail. It wasn't too bad...yet.
Pietro followed his uncle, listening quietly to Grant's explanation. He and his sister had been alone for most of their lives... he couldn't imagine what it would have been like to be forced, by someone bigger and stronger, to hurt her. "How did you get out of juvie?" he asked, when Grant paused.
A look of forlorn pain crossed over Grant's face. Even though he knew John had used him horribly, had taught him things that weren't true or good in any sense of the word, and had got him mixed up with a group that he held no affection for or belief in, the fact was, John had saved him from juvie and his horrible family. And in his own way, John had loved him and taken care of him. The fact that John's love and care was nearly as abusive as the people who'd raised him didn't change the fact that Grant had truly cared about the man and viewed him as a father. "I was broken out...by a man named John Garrett. He...he taught me how to be strong; not to be weak. For five years, he was my only human companionship; the only other companion I had was a dog named Buddy. After those five years of learning how to be strong...he brought me to SHIELD to join their academy and set me up to be a sleeper agent for HYDRA...."
Grant sighed softly, reaching down and petting Copper in an attempt to calm himself and focus. "When HYDRA came out of the shadows...I did my part by betraying Coulson and the rest of his team...by that time, John had gone insane...and when John was killed, I... I was lost. A complete mess. A few months later, dad came to get information from me; decided that there was something in me that was worth trying to save... and the rest is history. He's been teaching me what a real father and what real family is, ever since...and trying to undo years of bad teaching. Prolly why I still get into trouble so frequently, considering my age." His laugh was forced and his eyes were glassy, as if he was fighting back tears. It wasn't that he didn't want to share the story with Pietro, but anytime he thought about the path he had been on and what could have happened to him, had his dad not seen something in him worth saving, it staggered him.
Pietro wasn't nearly as comfortable with physical contact as his sister was getting, but he stepped closer to his uncle and pressed his arm against Grant's. "I... know how hard it is to share painful things from your past," he said quietly. He didn't say thank you to his uncle for trusting him, but he appreciated that show of trust.
Grant gave his nephew a weak smile, bumping shoulders gently, before reaching down and scratching Copper's ears again. "Yeah. I imagine you do...." Taking a deep breath, he glanced ahead and noted that the trail was getting progressively more rocky and steep... and that the left side of the trail was developing quite a deep 'drop-off'. He frowned, looking at what was becoming a ravine...and the insecure rocks making up the trail... and began to have second thoughts about their trek. He wasn't ready to turn around just yet, though. The lack of any real sleep the last few days gave him a confidence that he really shouldn't have had. Ignoring the doubts he was having, he began walking forward a little more quickly. "Watch your step. Things are getting dicey..." he said to his nephew in caution.
Pietro stepped carefully after Grant, looking worriedly at the ravine. He thought about suggesting they should head back... but since Grant wasn't saying anything and appeared to be quite confident, he didn't want to make himself look like a coward.
Copper, meanwhile, stayed behind Grant and Pietro...and whined every so often, looking back down the trail any time either of them glanced in his direction.
"It's ok, boy, we're being careful..." Grant finally said to placate the dog, feeling a bit foolish doing so and wondering if maybe the dog wasn't being smarter in this situation than he was. He glanced at Pietro. If the younger man looked like he didn't think it was a good idea to continue either, then he'd suggest they go back. He didn't want his nephew doing something just because he thought Grant expected it of him.
Pietro hesitantly looked around. "I..." He hesitated. "Do you think we should... continue on?" He had to edge round a particularly large rock and wound up catching his leg on a sharp edge. It didn't pierce through to his skin... but he stumbled and his hand shot out to catch his balance.
Grant quickly reached out and grabbed Pietro's arm, keeping him from falling. "You know..." he said with a hint of worry. "...I think maybe we should turn back. This is a lot rougher terrain than we prepared for....But first, I need to eat something; just a little bit until we get to a more stable area where we can stop for lunch." Shrugging off his pack, he opened it up to get himself his food.
Pietro nodded, his heart pounding a bit. "Yeah..." He took off his own pack, leaning one shoulder against the wall... even as a sudden yowl drew his attention above their heads. There was a rumbling sound.
Grant jerked at the sudden yowl, noticing it before he noticed the rumble. By the time he noticed the rumble, it was too late; they were both sliding at a fairly fast clip down the side of the embankment toward a sudden fifty foot drop. He wasn't sure how he managed it, but somehow, he slowed his descent enough that he was able to wedge his arm around a rock that was stuck precariously out of the side of the ravine; and grab Pietro at the same time. It stopped their descent, but he wasn't sure how long they would remain stopped. The dirt was completely unstable; any move they made to attempt to climb back up could result in them sliding the rest of the way and going over the edge, where their packs had gone. Any big moves on his part and the rock that was holding him in place might come loose and they'd go sliding over the edge. "We are so screwed..." he moaned, even as he carefully tugged Pietro close enough that he could also use the rock as a source of stabilization, as unstable as the rock might be.
Pietro immediately grabbed onto the rock, gulping and looking very scared. "What are we going to do?" he asked quietly, looking around to make sure Copper hadn't also been caught in the sudden landslide.
"I...I don't know..." Grant was frantically glancing around, trying to see where his dog was. "Copper?" he called out, afraid that he wouldn't get a response. He couldn't help the sigh of relief when barking came from above their heads. Copper was cautiously nosing his way forward so he could see Grant, keeping low on his belly. The dog whined at seeing the two men below him. "No. Stop, Copper!" The dog immediately halted in his forward movement. "Good boy...." Grant let out another tiny sigh of relief. "Copper...Bring help! Bring help, Copper!" With one quick woof, Copper disappeared from their view; they could hear him as he ran away from them, heading down the trail towards home.
Grant finally glanced at Pietro. "Are you hurt?" he asked worriedly. Not that he could do much about it if his nephew was hurt, but it would be good to know.
Pietro shook his head, clinging tightly to the rock. "Only a few scrapes..." His arms were quickly beginning to ache, but he knew he had to keep his grip on the rock... if he didn't want to end up falling down.
"Yeah...I think I scraped my butt...that's going to be real fun when dad decides to smack it for me..." He snorted at himself. "Copper will get help. We just...we just have to be able to hold on till it gets here. You gonna be able to do that?" he asked, clearly worried about his nephew.
Pietro nodded, hanging on tightly. "I think so..." Though what he really meant was, 'I hope so'. "I know they'll come with Copper... I just... know I'm going to be in trouble," he muttered.
"You and me both, kid" Grant sighed. "I'll tell them it was my fault...I should have had us turn around ages ago. You can't say that you would have come this far if you didn't think I wanted to...."
"I think it was both of our faults," Pietro said. "I didn't feel right about continuing and I should have said something. And they'll point out we should have read the sign before even coming in this direction."
"You're right...that's exactly what they'll say..." Grant groaned slightly. "I'm sorry...I should have been more responsible. We both should have, but...still. I'm sorry." He fell into an uneasy silence, keeping a close eye and ear open, in case he needed to grab his nephew to keep him from falling further down.
Coulson had gone outside to help his brother and father feed some of the animals. He was brushing down one of the horses when he heard the unmistakable sound of barking. Recognizing Copper, he quickly dropped the brush and ran outside the stable.
Clint heard the dog from inside the house and came out also, meeting his father in the middle of the yard, where Copper had begun howling and running in circles around Coulson, then looking back the way he had come. "Dad...what's...?" He glanced toward the trail with worry.
"I'll get rope. Dad, if you get the first aid kit... They'd come back with the dog if something wasn't wrong. I've learned enough about your kids to know that much." Paul looked at Phil and Clint. "They're either stuck somewhere and we'll need rope...or we need the kit...." Paul said calmly; and began to direct the other two men.
Ben quickly headed inside to pick up the first-aid kit, returning with it within moments.
Coulson was already following after Copper, unwilling to leave his son or grandson any longer than necessary and knowing that his father and brother would alert the others.
Natasha had heard the barking and was at her father's side in moments, leaving her aunt to hold down the fort.
Clint, knowing Wanda would want to be there, quickly called his daughter to join him and then took one of the ropes from his uncle, leaving his daughter to come with her great grandfather.
Paul quickly led his father, niece and nephew down the trail after his brother.
Wanda joined Ben quickly and the older man wrapped an arm reassuringly around her shoulders. "They'll be fine," he said gently.
Wanda nodded, trying to believe that as they followed on behind.
Coulson followed Copper as quickly as was safe to do so, his worry steadily growing.
Copper stopped at the fork in the road long enough for everyone to catch up, before starting down the steeper trail. Paul just shook his head at the 'Danger: Do Not Enter' sign that his nephews had apparently ignored.
At this point, Clint took lead, motioning the others to leave space between them in case the loose rock started sliding, so that it wouldn't catch more than one of them by surprise. It didn't take long, but longer than he'd have liked, when finally, Copper had stopped moving forward and was lying on his stomach, looking toward the ravine and whining.
Coulson moved towards his oldest son's side, carefully peering over the edge of the ravine. His worry threatened to overwhelm him as he saw his son and grandson clinging to a rock that looked to be very unstable and he was quickly taking the rope off his father, uncoiling it to prepare to pull them up. "Are either of you badly hurt?" he called down, needing to know if they had to make a stretcher.
Wanda carefully moved to her father's side. "I can use my power... on them and the rope," she offered. "There'd be less chance of it fraying if I can take some of their weight."
Clint put a hand out to slow his father down and urged both him and his daughter to step a bit further from the edge. "I'm going to attach both of the ropes to that tree..." He pointed behind them. "...It will give a bit of added stability. Then, I'm going to attach one rope to me and one to you, dad. We will carefully walk down to where Grant and Pietro are and, using our belts, attach them to us... Then we will walk back up with them. The added stability of the tree, the extra security of the belts and Wanda using her power should enable us to get them up without further danger....as long as they are both able to put weight on their legs and arms."
Grant glanced at Pietro to make certain, then called up, "We didn't sprain or break anything; we just have a few scrapes and cuts...."
Coulson nodded, though he was clearly impatient to get down to his two family members. As Clint worked, he kept back from the edge, but anxiously watched his son and grandson.
Wanda accessed her powers immediately, using them to help support her brother and uncle and keep them attached to the rock. A red glow appeared around both her hands and the two members of her family in trouble.
Clint worked quickly; and soon, he and his father were heading down to their two stranded family members.
Paul stood next to the rope, to make sure it stayed secure and to give a bit of added help in pulling them up if needed.
Grant looked over at his father, seeing the fear and worry on his face, and felt even more guilty than he had already been feeling. Seeing the same look on his brother's face only made it worse. He should have been more responsible. He should have made sure he and Pietro didn't do anything dangerous; just because he was closer to Pietro's age than his brother's age didn't excuse him. He was still older and should have known better. He swallowed hard and held as still as possible while his father tethered him to himself with the belt. He glanced over at Pietro and noted he was doing the same as Clint tethered his son to himself. Soon, they were ready to walk back up.
Coulson made sure his son was as securely tethered to him as possible before pressing a kiss to Grant's forehead. "I love you," he whispered, before beginning to walk carefully up the side of the ravine.
Pietro did as his father directed, trying not to cause any problems as he too began walking with Clint.
Even though she didn't need to take all of the weight, Wanda's face still showed signs of strain, what with her powers exhausting her during the night. She barely noticed Natasha shifting to her side... prepared to support her if something went wrong.
Those remaining on the edge were able to help the four of them up as they reached the top. Wanda didn't release her power until her whole family was safely away from the edge... and then she did so with a quiet whimper, her head aching.
Natasha wrapped an arm around her niece's shoulders to support her.
Ben stepped over to the four of them, so he could double-check to make sure that Grant and Pietro didn't have any wounds that they'd missed.
Clint went to Wanda and pulled her into a tight hug while his grandfather checked out Pietro. "You did good, Sweet Pea..." he told her softly, kissing her cheek. As soon as Ben had moved on to check Grant out, Clint brought Wanda over to Pietro's side, so she could see for herself that her brother was alright. He gave Natasha a grateful smile for taking care of his daughter while he was rescuing his son.
Paul quietly untied the rope from the tree and coiled them up to carry back home. You never knew when rope would come in handy and the two young men had enough people crowding around them on the narrow trail. Clearing his throat, he glanced up at the sky. "If they can walk. it might be a good idea to get off this trail and back home; give a more thorough examination there. It looks and smells like it is going to storm and rain will only make this trail more treacherous...."
Grant couldn't think of a thing to say to his father that would make what he'd done alright. So he kept quiet and let his grandfather examine him. When his Uncle Paul indicated that they should get off the trail, he quickly looked at his father, as if asking permission to move.
Paul whistled for Copper, who had been hovering near Grant and whining, to come follow him. At Grant's quiet order to 'follow', the dog began to heel Paul.
Wanda went willingly with her father, giving Pietro a quick hug before she withdrew at her uncle's words... though she kept close to her father and brother as they started heading back down the trail.
Coulson wanted to wrap his arm around Grant's shoulders, but he knew the trail wouldn't make that easy. Instead, he took his youngest son's hand, giving it a gentle squeeze as they began walking.
Natasha brought up the rear of the group, keeping a careful watch for any signs more rocks might fall.
By the time they reached the farmhouse, it had started raining. Luckily, it wasn't storming, so Paul felt safe in ordering the two younger men to take showers to remove all the dirt and grime so that their fathers could examine them and make sure they weren't wounded more seriously than thought. "You can use Cath's and my shower," he said to Grant.
Clint smiled at his uncle and nodded. "Thanks, Uncle Paul..." he said, giving the other man a quick hug, before wrapping his arm around Pietro and leading him upstairs...only stopping long enough to get the younger man a change of clothes and his own first aid kit, before dragging his son into the bath and closing the door firmly behind them. Normally, he'd give the kid privacy...but in this case, he wanted to see with his own eyes that Pietro wasn't wounded and the kid didn't have eyes on his back, so that meant Clint needed to examine him. "In the shower, Speedy," he said, softly but in a tone of voice that was meant to be obeyed. "Wash down thoroughly and wash your hair too. I need to check and see if there are any cuts that need stitching or worse...."
Pietro looked a bit conflicted, but nodded. He wasn't actually sure what to say to his father. Should he be apologizing? He had very little to go on when it came to a situation like this, so he obeyed his father without question or argument... hoping to take his clues from what Clint said and did. He quickly slipped out of his clothes and stepped into the shower to clean himself off.
Clint waited patiently. Now that the scare was over and his son was safe, theoretically, he found that he was too relieved for anger or even irritation. He was a bit disappointed in the poor decision his son and brother had made, but he was willing to give the benefit of the doubt. It was slightly possible they hadn't seen the sign warning against that trail. He didn't urge Pietro to hurry or micro-manage the shower. He wanted the younger man to know that he was still trusted to do what he should; and the boy should know that his health was a priority, so Clint expected that he'd do a thorough job of cleaning off.
Pietro forewent speed in order to wash himself as thoroughly as he could. The soap and water stung his cuts, but he still made sure to clean himself off before he dried himself off and then stepped out of the shower. "I... don't think there's anything serious, Papa," he said hesitantly, his tone apologetic.
Clint smiled at his son before gently beginning to examine him. "You might be correct..." he said softly. "...But even the most innocent of scratches can get infected if left untreated. And you got scratched in some areas you can't even see to reach. I'd like to take care of you, make sure you don't get sick from what happened." Carefully, he began treating even the most minor of the scratches, putting Band-Aids on the more serious areas and making sure there weren't any cuts that needed gauze bandaging.
Pietro nodded, obediently standing still as his father treated him, immobile apart from a slight hiss of pain at a particularly painful scrape or bruise. "I..." He hesitated, still with no frame of reference... but unwilling to stay silent. He'd been badly frightened by his near-fall. "I'm sorry... I really didn't think it would be that dangerous."
"I'm sure you didn't...did you see the sign telling you that it was dangerous?" Clint wasn't going to jump to conclusions. It was possible that they hadn't seen the sign. Not probable, but possible.
Pietro hesitated. "We... saw a sign," he admitted. "But we didn't read it." He looked down, knowing that they really should have done.
Clint nodded. "Well...next time, you will think to read signs before you walk down unfamiliar paths, won't you?" His voice was calm, if a bit droll, his odd sense of humor coming out. He smiled at his son, pulling the boy in for a hug. "I love you, Speedy. And I don't want to lose you... and I especially don't want to lose you to an accident that is fully preventable if you just do what you know you should do, like reading warning signs and not going to unnecessary places that are obviously dangerous...." His voice caught in his throat as he remembered seeing his son hanging on the side of the ravine. At the time, he'd been too focused on rescuing Pietro and Grant to let it affect him too deeply; now that he was home and had his boy safe in his arms...it was sinking in how close he'd actually come to his son being hurt terribly or even killed. He shuddered and blinked back tears, holding onto Pietro even more tightly.
Pietro immediately hugged his father tight in return, relieved that he wasn't being pushed away. "I'm sorry," he said again. "I... thought we should go back, but I didn't say anything. And I know I should have said something... I didn't mean to hurt or worry you..."
"I know you didn't..." Clint's voice was thick with unshed tears. "...Just remember that if anything happened to you to take you away from me, part of me would die inside. I would never fully recover from that...." Taking a deep breath, he regained control of himself, but still held onto his son tightly. Finally, he kissed Pietro on the cheek and stepped back so his son could get dressed.
Pietro looked down as he began getting dressed, unable to make eye contact with his father. Pulling on his pants and shirt, he looked at his father. "I'm done, Papa," he said softly.
"I love you, son," Clint said softly, pulling Pietro back into his arms. "You know you were wrong and I don't want to drag things out any longer than necessary; I'd rather we spend the rest of the day enjoying each other's company and being thankful nothing worse happened." His smile was crooked. "Let's go back to your room and finish our talk...."
Pietro hugged his father back tightly, nodding. "I'm sorry I worried you so much, Papa." He waited for his father to lead him.
Clint kissed Pietro on the forehead then wrapped an arm around his son's shoulders, leading him out of the bathroom and into Pietro's room. Closing the door to give some sense of privacy, although he doubted that anyone would be coming upstairs until they knew for certain it was 'safe', he gently guided his son to the bed. Sitting down on it, he carefully nudged Pietro over his lap, pulling him in tight and close to his stomach so that he was secure. "Do you understand why you are being punished, son?" he asked quietly, just to make certain.
Pietro nodded, not resisting or fighting the position. "Because I went where I wasn't supposed to and didn't pay attention to the sign that was warning us away. And when I knew it wasn't safe, I should have given voice to that concern and suggested we leave..."
"Ok...you understand. I hope next time you are faced with a situation like this, you choose more wisely. I really don't want to lose you, kiddo. I love you too much to lose you...especially to avoidable mistakes...." Clint gently rubbed Pietro's back then quickly tugged his pants and underwear down. Raising his hand up, he let it fall with a firm smack in the center of his son's backside, then raised his hand again, swatting lower and to the left. He continued swatting at the same firmness, slowly and carefully covering nearly every part of Pietro's bottom from the top to just above his thighs, avoiding any areas that had obvious scrapes or bruising.
Pietro whimpered as his father began the punishment. He reached down and grabbed hold of his father's ankle, trying his best to hold still... but it was hard. He was tired and still trying to let go of his fear of dangling over the ravine. And he felt awful for worrying his father, and the rest of the family, so much. The whole myriad of emotions meant it didn't take long before his eyes were filling with tears.
Clint knew his son had been through a rough ordeal, falling down the ravine like he had. Add to that the fact that everyone was tired and he really didn't want to punish his child too harshly (didn't really want to punish him at all, but his son needed him to be consistent) and he found himself hoping that it didn't take Pietro long to give in and reach the point he needed to. Starting over at the top, he hoped to nudge the boy in the right direction. "When I saw you hanging there, my heart literally stopped for a moment, Speedy. The thought that the rock you were holding to would give way and you'd fall the remaining fifty feet to the rocky ground below. The thought that we'd have to bring your broken, bloodied bodies out, relying on a miracle for you to survive long enough to make it to a hospital, instead of having to plan a funeral.... And Wanda was there. She was doing everything she could to try and keep you from falling while I rescued you. If you'd fallen while she was trying to help, she would have blamed herself. I'm not the only one who would have been devastated, sport...."
Pietro choked on a soft sob, the tears beginning to stream down his cheeks. "I'm sorry..." His voice was soft, filled with tears and the emotions he couldn't control. He couldn't stop himself from throwing his hand back... not so much to protect himself, but because he felt lost... adrift... and the only constant he had was his father.
Clint gently took Pietro's hand and squeezed it then held it against his back, before tipping the younger man forward and focusing the swats on his sit spots. "I know you are," he said softly. "It will soon be over and we'll move past this. I love you, son...."
Pietro began to sob, going limp over his father's knee as he went limp, accepting the punishment. He sobbed out broken apologies, feeling how tired he was... and how much he just wanted his father.
Immediately, Clint drew Pietro up, sitting him on his lap and holding him tightly. Rocking him back and forth gently, Clint rubbed his back and stroked his hair, kissing the top of his head then squeezing him even more tightly. "I've got you. You're safe. I won't let you go...ever. I love you so much. It will be ok...I've got you." He whispered into his son's ear.
Pietro immediately clung to his father, burrowing as close to Clint as he could possibly get. It took him a while to calm down, his sleepless nights and the stress of the day catching up to him.
Clint just continued to hold his son close, rocking him and reassuring him that Clint wasn't leaving. "I love you, son," Clint said softly again, kissing the top of Pietro's head.
Pietro calmed down slowly and gradually, still clinging to his father. "I love you, Papa," he said quietly, the use of the more juvenile form of address making it clear how emotionally unsettled he still felt.
Clint scooted back onto the bed, drawing Pietro with him. "Why don't you rest a bit, son? We'll go down in time for lunch."
Pietro nodded and sighed, awake just enough to tug his clothing back into place before cuddling into his father and closing his eyes.
Clint kissed his son on the cheek and relaxed back, content to just hold him while he slept.
Coulson wrapped his arm around Grant's shoulders and led his son to his brother and sister's room, pausing to get Grant's toiletries and a change of clothes for him too. He pressed a kiss to his son's cheek as he guided him into the bathroom, speaking firmly. "I'd like you to get into the shower and make sure you wash every inch of yourself. Once you do that, I can check to see how bad any of those cuts and scrapes are.
Grant nodded, unable to look his father in the eye. "Yes, sir..." he said softly, quickly disrobing and getting into the shower. He made certain to get rid of all dirt. Luckily, since he'd been wearing long sleeves, the dirt had mostly confined itself to his head, hands and the areas of his body where his shirt had ridden up on the slide down the hill. Unfortunately, part of the slide down the hill had been sideways and slightly head first until he'd caught hold of the rock, so his hip had gotten scraped up pretty bad. He washed as best he could, but not able to see that area very easily, he wasn't certain he got all the small gravel pieces that had embedded themselves into his skin. Finally, certain he'd done as much as he could he turned off the water and dried off, then stepped out of the shower so his father could look over him for wounds. It was a bit embarrassing, but then he remembered his father had taken care of him when he was sick twice before, so it wasn't like this was a new situation. "I...I think it is mostly scratches...I can't tell about my hip, though; it...hurts worse than the others. Can't see if it's deeper scratches, or if I just bruised it," he admitted softly.
Coulson began carefully checking his son over, using the first aid kit on the cuts and scrapes. He was even more careful when it came to Grant's hip, not wanting to cause his son any more pain than strictly necessary. "There are deeper scratches on your hip. Not deep enough to require stitches, but I'm going to bandage them." He stroked Grant's arm reassuringly, careful to avoid any of his injuries, and then began to treat the scratches on his son's hip.
Grant winced and let out a tiny hiss as his father began treating the worst injury. He was lucky he hadn't been hurt worse, he knew. "Th...that must be where I caught on a rock as I was twisting to try and grab Petey. I'd managed to grab hold of the rock we were hanging on and he was...he was..." He swallowed hard and closed his eyes, not wanting to think about his nephew plummeting past him to more serious injury, or worse...death. His voice quivered and was guilt filled as he admitted, "I should have insisted we turn around when it started getting more rough. Or, better yet, insisted we not take that trail in the first place. I should have been more responsible...instead of acting like a rebellious teenager." His head fell forward and he clenched his eyes more tightly. His father's gentle care somehow made him feel even more guilty as he remembered the man's face when he looked over the edge of the ravine and saw Grant and Pietro hanging there.
Coulson couldn't help but react to Grant's emotions... as he did every time one or more of his children was upset or hurting. He bandaged the scratches with gauze, taping it carefully, and then, after a quick check to make sure he hadn't missed anything, he wrapped his arms around his son. "This is a long road we're on, son." His voice was calm and gentle. "I haven't had you for nearly as long as you were away from me." He kissed his son's cheek. "We both know you know better, but no matter what happens, it won't change how much I love you. Or want you in my life." Or how devastated he'd be if he lost Grant... but he didn't say that out loud.
Grant hugged his father tightly. "I know, daddy...I'm not afraid of you not loving me or wanting me..." he said softly. "I...I guess I'm ashamed that I did something so needlessly dangerous again. I scared you. I disappointed you. And when I think of how Pietro could have been hurt...I should have been a better influence, not led him into danger with me." He swallowed, kissing his father on the cheek, before hesitantly stepping back. Awkwardly picking up his clothing, he carefully put on his underwear and the loose jogging pants his father had got for him. When he went to put on his shirt, though, he found it difficult to lift his right arm up high enough to bring it over his head. His arms were going to be sore from holding onto the rock so long, he knew; but he hadn't realized that he'd wrenched his right arm when he'd grabbed hold of his nephew to stop Pietro's plummet. "I...I think I need help with my shirt..." he said with a wince.
Coulson moved over to Grant's side and carefully helped his son into the shirt, pressing a kiss to Grant's cheek. "I love you," he reiterated gently stroking Grant's hair, before he started to strap up his son's arm, careful not to cause Grant any more pain.
Grant held still until his father was satisfied then gave his father a sad smile. "Thank you, daddy...I love you too, so much. I'm so sorry for what I did to you..." His voice wobbled for a second. "We knew better...I knew better. I could tell the trail wasn't firm and was becoming less so the further up we walked. Cooper even began whining at us because he didn't like the trail..." Grant sighed. "...And I know there was a sign; we didn't bother reading it, but it was fairly obvious it was a warning of some sort and we just walked right by and ignored it. And I know Pietro was taking his cues from me- he didn't want to say anything, even if he wasn't certain about it. I did so many things wrong...." He glanced down then looked back up again, shame in his eyes. "I am so sorry...."
Coulson hugged Grant tightly to himself. "I can't fully explain how terrified I was for your safety, son," he said softly. "I nearly lost you... you were very lucky you were able to grab the rock and Pietro." He stroked Grant's hair gently. "I love you so much... it would have been devastating if anything had happened to you."
Grant just held onto his father tightly, not able to say anything more. Sorry just wasn't enough. "What can I do to make it better?" he asked in a tiny voice.
Coulson kissed his cheek, threading his fingers through Grant's hair. "We'll deal with this and then it will be over," he promised. "I'll keep you close to me... but not as a punishment."
"Being with you is never a punishment, daddy..." Grant huffed out in slight amusement. "Where are we going to...?" He bit his lip and blushed slightly.
"We can take care of it in your uncle and aunt's room," Coulson replied. "They won't disturb us until they know we're finished and it's ready for them." He kissed Grant's forehead and then gently led him through to the bedroom.
Grant winced at the words, because it indicated that everyone knew what was happening upstairs. Not that he had ever been under any delusions that it was secret; it was well known how dangerous misbehavior was dealt with in the family, but still. Sighing softly, he followed his father's guidance. "I'll apologize to everyone else when we're done..." he whispered softly.
Coulson gently led Grant through to the bedroom and took a seat on the bed, drawing his son round and gently tugging him across his lap, securing him with an arm wrapped around his waist. "You are important, Grant. To me and everyone else here. You can't do something that would risk taking yourself away."
Grant closed his eyes tightly, the shame over what he had done, his exhaustion, his guilt over what had almost happened to his nephew and the worry he'd caused his family causing him to break down and submit immediately. Tears streamed from his eyes and his voice cracked as he responded. "I know, daddy...I am sorry."
Coulson gently rubbed his son's back, really wanting to just gather Grant in his arms and hug him tightly. Knowing he had to be consistent, he forced himself to bare Grant before bringing his hand down in the first sharp swat, then repeating that swat a little below the first.
Grant could only lie there and accept the punishment. His one arm was wrapped tightly due to the strain he'd caused it; the other was tight against his father so he couldn't move it if he'd tried...it made holding onto his father for comfort impossible- not that he deserved comfort. After nearly leading his nephew to his death, Grant was sure he didn't deserve comfort. Tears still streaming down his face and now unable to even talk because he was crying so hard, even if silently, Grant lay limp over his father's lap and tried to focus on the punishment he knew he deserved and not the fact that he wanted to be held by his daddy.
Coulson had to force himself to continue the spanking... and even then, the swats weren't nearly as hard as he could have given out. He managed perhaps two circuits of the swats before he had to stop, affected by Grant's tears (and knowing that his son knew what he'd done wrong and was sorry for it). Quickly gathering Grant into his arms, Coulson hugged his son tightly, kissing his head and murmuring soft declarations of love.
Grant curled into his father, holding onto him with his free arm and pressing as close as he could get. He couldn't face the older man...not yet...so hid his face against his father's chest and tried to stop crying. It wasn't easy. This time, he hadn't just done something he knew he shouldn't...he had led someone he had responsibility to and for into doing something they shouldn't. Even if Pietro would claim he made his own decisions, it didn't change the fact that he looked up to Grant and followed his lead. "I...I gotta try harder..." he finally choked out. "..Gotta be more 'sponsible. He listens to me...." His voice was a mixture of wonder and horror at the thought.
Shivering, he snuggled into his father further. "So sorry, daddy... Love you and so, so sorry...."
Coulson pressed a kiss to Grant's head. "I love you, son. So very much. And I forgive you. I know your judgement was impaired because of how tired you are and the dreams you've been suffering. You are responsible. But being that exhausted sometimes means you might think something is a good idea when it isn't. I know you would never willingly lead anyone into a dangerous situation."
Grant slowly calmed down as he listened to his father's words. He noticeably relaxed when his father forgave him and was finally able to look up at his father. His eyes were red and bloodshot, tear streaks prominent on his face. Shivering slightly, he whispered, "I...I shoulda gone to you like Bobbi did...I wasn't thinking right...." Swallowing, he suddenly yawned, the day's events and his lack of sleep the last several days catching up to him. "I want to apologize to everyone..." he muttered softly, finally standing up and fumbling at his clothes with one hand. His arm was going to be useless for a few days until the stiffness and swelling went down.
Standing as well, Coulson pressed a kiss to his son's forehead and helped him with his clothes. "You can apologize later," he said gently. "Right now... I think you'd benefit from a nap." He wrapped an arm around Grant, squeezing him gently.
Leaning into his father, Grant sniffled, his utter weariness and the lack of stress, now that everything had been taken care of and everyone was safe at home, causing his emotions to be close to the surface and all over the place. He didn't argue against his father's observation. Instead, he asked, in a pitiful and slightly embarrassed voice, "Will you stay with me?"
"Always," Coulson replied, without any hesitation. Pressing another kiss to his son's head, he gently steered Grant into the bathroom, so his son could wash his face, and then through to his bedroom.
By the time Coulson had him in a bedroom, Grant was pretty much sleep-walking. His awareness of his surroundings was pretty much non-existent...he trusted his father implicitly and trusted his father to protect him, so his usual observant and alert nature (even when in a safe location) just wasn't there. He didn't even know whose room he was in; just lay down on the bed as soon as Coulson had led him to it, only waiting long enough for his father to lower the sheets. Scooting over so his father could get in next to him, Grant looked up at Coulson. "Copper...I need to take care of Copper..." He made to get out of bed again.
"Nat has him," Coulson said soothingly, settling on the bed next to his son. "She'll take care of Copper until you wake up." He pressed a kiss to Grant's forehead. "I love you, son." He stroked Grant's hair gently.
As soon as he heard his sister was taking care of his dog, Grant settled against his father. Snuggling close, he found his eyes closing almost of their own accord, but still found the presence of mind to answer, "I love you too, daddy...so much..." before he fell soundly asleep.
Bobbi bit her lip, looking toward the stairs where four of her family members had just disappeared. She'd wanted to go with everyone to rescue her brother...would have done if her Aunt Cath hadn't put a hand on her arm and asked her to stay behind with her. Watching her older sister and brother disappear with her dad, Grandfather, uncle and niece was difficult. She felt like she should be with the rest of her family...she and her aunt were the only two left behind. It wasn't until Cath had explained that she had a walkie-talkie to communicate with Paul and if things were bad, it would be up to her and her aunt to make contact with rescue services and a hospital that she was able to let go of her urge to follow and actually make herself useful back at the house. To that end, they'd fixed lunch, got the first-aid kits out and ready, made sure the vehicles were ready to go at a moment's notice if necessary...and waited.
When everyone had returned, she'd hung toward the back, watching as her father and brother took care of their wayward sons; watched as her sister took care of their niece and Copper; watched as her uncle and grandfather put all the supplies they'd taken with them back in place (after sending Grant and Pietro upstairs to get cleaned up); and watched her aunt efficiently moving around, helping wherever needed, knowing without being told where she was needed. Bobbi felt useless. Useless and worried.
It didn't escape anyone's notice how Bobbi was feeling and as soon as he'd put the supplies away Ben approached his youngest grandchild, resting a hand on her shoulder. "There's not much to do around the farm today," he said. "Would you like to come riding with me? I go out periodically to check the perimeter... make sure no one's hunting illegally on the land and that there are no traps set that our animals might get caught in."
Giving her grandfather a crooked smile, Bobbi nodded hesitantly. "I'd like that, Granddaddy...." she answered softly. She had a feeling that he didn't really need her help so much; after all, he handled the job just find when she wasn't there, but she needed something to do and he was giving her that something in the form of a way to not only help him, but spend some one on one time with him. Her smile grew a little bigger.
Ben smiled and wrapped an arm around Bobbi's shoulders, hugging her close to him for a few moments. "I can't promise it'll be exciting... but I could really do with your company," he said, to make it clear that he wasn't just doing this to give Bobbi something to do; he wanted to spend time with her.
Cathy, having overheard Ben and Bobbi, stepped over with a knapsack that she passed to her niece. "I packed some snacks for you both and a couple of bottles of water."
Bobbi's smile turned into a full-on grin at her grandfather's words and she hugged him back tightly. "I think I've had enough excitement for the day...I'll be happy for some quiet time with you," she said softly, then glanced at her aunt. "Thanks Aunt Cath..." Bobbi hugged the other woman, before putting the sack over one shoulder and following her grandfather.
Ben walked next to Bobbi as he stepped over to the stables. "Have you been taken by one of the horses in particular?" he asked her, shoulder brushing against hers, wanting to give her first choice when it came to which horse to ride.
Bobbi smiled bashfully. "The little Chestnut mare...she likes when I bring her carrots..." she admitted, pulling a carrot out of her pocket.
Ben smiled at his granddaughter. "She seems to like you as much as the carrots." He headed into the stables and stepped over to the slightly bigger black horse he usually rode.
"Do you think so?" Bobbi asked, surprised at how happy the thought made her. "I really like her too...her name fits her... Doesn't it, Angel? Yes it does, you sweet girl...." Bobbi crooned to the horse, as she began to saddle her.
Ben paused to watch his granddaughter a moment or two. "If it was possible, I'd let you take her home with you. As it is... she can still be yours here." He began saddling his own horse.
"Really? Oh thank you!" Bobbi quickly, but carefully, so as not to spook the horses, went to her grandfather and threw her arms around him. Her excitement and glee obvious, she kissed him on the cheek, then went back to Angel and hugged the placid animal around the neck.
Ben smiled, having hugged Bobbi tight then swung himself up on his horse. "Of course, that means you're going to have to visit a lot more." The tone of his voice, as well as the affectionate look on his face, made it clear how much he wanted that.
"I'd like to do that..." Bobbi's smile was shy, but honest. She quickly mounted her horse too, guiding the animal to follow her grandfather.
Ben guided the horse out of the farmyard, tracing the perimeter of the land. He pointed out the areas that belonged to them... and also a few of the braver wild animals which stopped to watch the riders pass.
Bobbi listened carefully, paying close attention to every detail and helping where directed. She enjoyed every minute she was with her grandfather, asking him questions about when her dad was a boy and different aspects of the older man's life. She enjoyed learning about the farm and the wildlife that lived on or near it. The time spent with her Grandfather helped her feel more connected and not so useless.
Ben talked to Bobbi, giving her his full attention as he took her round the farmland, going slowly so that they could spend more time together. He answered her questions and told her about when her father was young... what he enjoyed doing and the chores that, as a youngster, he hated.
Bobbi just listened, not noticing how fast time was going. She was almost disappointed when they had finished...almost disappointed, because she was worried about her brother and nephew and wanted to see for herself they were ok; and she was actually hungry. "I hope we can do this again before I have to go..." she said softly, not looking at her grandfather, because she was suddenly feeling bashful.
"We'll make sure we do," Ben promised, as he dismounted from his horse back at the farmyard. "I enjoyed spending time with you today... Thank you." Once Bobbi dismounted, he pulled her into a tight hug.
Bobbi sunk into the embrace, embarrassed to find tears running down her face; happy tears, but still tears. The longer she was part of this family...the closer she got to the members of the family...the more she realized how much she truly had been missing. "Thank you..." she finally said, in a shaky voice, stepping back and giving him a watery smile.
Sniffing and wiping the back of her hand over her eyes, she began to take care of Angel, making sure the saddle and tack were taken off and stored properly and the horse was brushed, fed and stabled securely. Soon, she was waiting for her granddaddy by the door so they could go back into the house to get cleaned up for dinner.
Ben finished off taking care of his horse and then wrapped an arm around Bobbi's shoulders, so that he could steer her inside the house. "I imagine your brother and nephew will have woken up by now," he said. "You can assure yourself they're both all right."
Bobbi let her head fall onto her grandfather's shoulder as they walked to the house and to the back door. It opened just before they reached it and Grant stepped out onto the porch, giving his sister and grandfather a tentative smile. "Granddad... Kiddo..." He walked the rest of the way out and put his free arm around his grandfather while kissing his sister on the cheek. "I'm sorry for what I put both of you through...there's no excuse. Forgive me?"
Bobbi wrinkled her nose at the nickname, but smiled back at her brother and kissed him on the cheek back. "Of course." She carefully avoided his wrapped arm as she hugged him. "Are you alright?" she asked, worriedly.
"Yeah." Grant smiled crookedly. "Dad took care of me. All bandaged up and as soon as we eat dinner, I'm allowed to have a pain-killer...least that's what Aunt Cath says.... Go on. I know you want to check and see if Pietro is alright." He chuckled as Bobbi quickly hugged their grandfather then disappeared into the house looking for her nephew. Turning toward his grandfather, Grant bit his lip. "Do you forgive me, granddaddy?"
Ben immediately pulled Grant into a tight embrace, making sure he didn't aggravate any of Grant's injuries. "Of course," he replied. "I'm just relieved the both of you are safe. It could have been a lot worse and we would have all been devastated; not just your father and your siblings." He spoke sincerely and honestly.
"I know..." Grant whispered hoarsely, holding onto his grandfather tightly and blinking back tears. "I never meant to put any of you through that and...while I can't promise I won't ever do anything so stupid ever again, since I tend to find new stupid things to do on a regular basis, I'll try very hard not to."
Ben hugged Grant tightly. "I know something of your past, Grant. Your father didn't give me all of the details... just enough so I could understand. And, of course, I know how long you've been away from him for. But you aren't the only one who's done things in the past," he added, wanting to make it clear that this wasn't the only time something had happened.
Grant couldn't help but smile at his grandfather's words. "I know, sir... still. I'll try not to worry everyone so much...." Turning so he could go back into the house with his grandfather, he slanted his head. "I think dinner was almost ready to eat...maybe you could tell the rest of us some of those stories I know Bobbi was begging you for." His voice was amused and he was obviously fond of his sister.
Ben smiled as he walked alongside Grant into the house. "I'm sure I can dig up a few more," he commented.
Clint had stayed with his son for the entire time Pietro slept, just holding him close and letting the fact that his child was safe with him calm him down. By the time dinner was ready, however, Pietro had been awake for a while and they had made their way downstairs and into the living room with the rest of the family who weren't cooking dinner. He'd noticed Bobbi and his grandfather's absence, but didn't comment; figuring if there was something he needed to know, his dad would or uncle would say something. He noticed when Bobbi came into the house, looking around as if searching for someone. "We're in here, Kid..." he called out quietly, grinning when she came into the living room with the rest of them and looked around.
"Hi, Daddy, Bro..." She glanced at Pietro, walking over and ruffling his hair. "How's my favorite nephew?" she asked impishly, with a hint of worry in her tone.
By this point, Pietro's emotional upheaval had gone; enough so that, although he stuck closer to his father than normal, he was more or less settled now. He ducked away from Bobbi ruffling his hair, but smiled at her. "Just some cuts and bruises... Pop took care of those. Sorry I worried everyone... but at least I now know to stay away from dangerous trails."
Bobbi nodded. "Yeah. I've had to learn that a few times..." she admitted impishly, avoiding her father's sharp eyed gaze when she did so. If he asked, she wouldn't hide anything, but she saw no reason to bring up stupid things she'd done before he'd adopted her; unless there was a chance she'd do them again. She slanted her head. "Are Wanda and Nat helping Aunt Cath?" she asked, realizing her older sister and niece weren't in the room with the rest of the family.
"They were last time I checked," Coulson said. "I offered to help, but your Aunt Cath said something about too many people in the kitchen." He smiled at his youngest daughter, reaching out to gently tug her onto his lap... though he gave her plenty of room to move away if she wanted.
Bobbi grinned as she ended up sitting on her father's lap and leaned back to snuggle into him. "Granddaddy told me all kinds of neat stories while we were riding..." she gently teased her father, shifting and squirming until she was able to put her head on his shoulder and wrap her arms around him in a loose hug.
Coulson wrapped his arms around his daughter's waist, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. "I'm not sure I want to know what stories he was telling you," he teased her, his voice warmed through with love.
"Weeeell..." Bobbi let her voice drawl out playfully. "...One of them involved a baseball and Grandmom's clean laundry...." She sat up a bit so she could look at the expression on his face, before giggling and putting her head back down on his shoulder. "He said you and Uncle Paul were both in on that one..." She eyed her uncle, as he was attempting to look innocent or uninterested in the story. The slight blush on his face told her he knew what story she was talking about.
Clint's eyebrow went up as he watched his uncle slowly turning red then looked at his father to see if he was going to be embarrassed at all. Being an agent for so long, he suspected his father would be able to hide any sheepishness or embarrassment he felt a lot better.
Grant chose that moment to walk into the living room and carefully sit on the couch next to his older brother and nephew, making certain to leave enough room for his grandfather to sit as well. "Why's Uncle Paul blushing?" he asked curiously.
Coulson didn't look embarrassed... but he did look amused. "We were... very young then," he said, drawing Bobbi in tighter. The truth was, he'd been through so much since becoming an agent, childhood stories weren't as embarrassing as they could have been.
Ben followed Grant into the room and sat on the other side of him. "I expect Bobbi's brought up some of the stories I told her."
"Really?" Bobbi blinked innocently, an angelic look on her face (although closer inspection would have revealed a devilish tilt to her smile). "I could have sworn Granddaddy said you were about twenty-one when it happened...."
Grant snorted then began to cough from his attempt not to snort.
"Oh, care to share, Princess?" Clint asked, with his own impish grin.
Bobbi looked from her father to her uncle, then back again. "I dunno...I think I may be sat in the wrong position to be telling stories on daddy...." She laughed.
Coulson gently poked her in the side, even as he teased, "Of course, very young is subjective. We did both grow out of that phase."
"Eventually." Ben was smiling. "That wasn't even the last time something happened." Though the last time had been shortly before Grant had been taken from Phil... and the change in his son at that time had been obvious. If it hadn't been for Clint, Ben was certain his son would have done something dangerous and potentially fatal.
"Ah...that must be true..." Bobbi wiggled, unable to ignore how the poke tickled. "...I can't imagine you using the freshly washed linens to make a human sized sling-shot and sending a muddy baseball through the bedroom window. Not now, anyway. Did Grandmom really chase the two of you around the yard with a spatula?"
Coulson gently tickled her side. "I seem to recall that." He glanced at his brother and smiled. "I think we're going to have to get used to stories of our exploits being told when we visit."
Paul groaned good-naturedly. "I think dad has been waiting a very long time to have someone to tell those stories to." He laughed.
Clint smiled. "I know I've been waiting too long to hear the rest of that story you started telling me last time I visited," he playfully complained. "You never did tell me what happened on dad's first camping trip."
Ben laughed. "There were a number of incidents... including a rash of poison ivy," he commented. Glancing at Grant and Pietro, he added, "You two were lucky you had clothing covering your skin so the poison ivy didn't touch you."
"Why? Did Grandpapa not?" Pietro turned slightly wide eyes towards his grandfather, trying to imagine him as anything other than calm and responsible.
"I was in the process of being chased by a hive of bees at the time," Coulson defended himself.
Grant's eyes widened and he looked back and forth between his father and uncle before looking at his grandfather. Turning back to his father, he asked, astonished, "Why were bees chasing you?!"
"Oh daddy!" Bobbi interjected, her voice filled with a combination of awe and sympathy.
"I've done that before..." Clint admitted with a shrug. "The lake was my friend..."
A couple of days later and it was Father's Day and Natasha had quietly suggested to her siblings (barring Clint), as well as her niece and nephew, that they work together on making breakfast... and taking care of the chores as early as possible, so as to leave the rest of the day free.
Natasha had little trouble getting up early and she showered and dressed quickly before she headed downstairs and through to the kitchen to make a start.
Grant had got up early enough that he managed to be at the barn, taking care of the animals before his uncle and grandfather woke up...something he considered a big accomplishment. He'd woken his nephew up, too. The only ones he wasn't certain would be able to get up early were Wanda and Bobbi, since they shared a room with their fathers and both Clint and Coulson always knew when their children were up and moving. He'd instructed the girls to distract their fathers long enough that the other three could finish at least most of the chores before the men showed up, promising that they could take care of breakfast if they gave up helping with the animals. He'd enlisted his aunt Cath's help with keeping Uncle Paul occupied. After conferring with Nat, they'd both decided to just tell their grandfather what they were up to and asked him to sleep in.
The plans seemed to work. As he looked around at freshly mucked stalls and happy animals munching on their breakfast, he realized that they had managed to do all the morning chores and the older men had not come out yet. Grinning at his nephew, he waved at the house. "Pietro, you take the shower first. Then I'll go. I have a feeling everyone is up now, but if not, we need to let Wanda and Bobbi know they can stop running interference so they can work on breakfast with Nat."
Pietro nodded, quickly (though not at super-speed) heading to the bathroom so that he could shower and dress. He then headed to his father's room, so he could alert Wanda to the chores being done.
Wanda had fallen asleep early enough to ensure she woke at the same time as her father. Before he'd had a chance to leave the room, she'd requested more training from him... which was something she did want to do (so she wasn't actually playing him); it just had the added bonus of distracting him from going downstairs.
Bobbi had woken earlier than anyone... though not for a good reason. She'd had a return of her nightmare (no fault of Wanda's power) and it had upset her enough that she'd latched onto her father with a terrified grip and wouldn't let go. When they'd heard everyone else awakening, she'd begged him to stay with her...still nervous and unsettled. And she'd finally told him what her dream was about...which had taken long enough that neither of them went back to sleep.
By the time Wanda came by to let her know they could head downstairs to begin breakfast, she was slightly more calm, but still reluctant to leave her father. She wanted to help make this day special for him, though, so she forced herself to let go. Kissing him on the cheek, she smiled shyly. "Thanks for being my daddy..." The tone of her whisper was grateful and full of love.
Coulson leaned in and pressed a kiss to Bobbi's forehead. "I love you," he said, softly and simply. "And I will for every moment I'm alive." He gently stroked her hair. Her and her siblings... his grandchildren... meant everything to him. Even as his family had grown, he'd never lessened in his love for any of them.
"I love you too, daddy." Bobbi smiled. "I think you're meant to go relax in the living room while Wanda, Nat, and I finish making breakfast..." She grinned as she finally got up and dressed.
Smiling, Coulson kissed her cheek. "If you need to come and sit with me at all... or any kind of comfort... you know you don't have to say anything." He wrapped his arms around her in another tight hug, knowing how much the dream had unsettled her, before gently letting go.
"I know, daddy...you're my rock...." she admitted with a smile. Hugging him tightly, she turned and walked with him downstairs, only letting go when they parted ways at the kitchen and living room.
Grant was calmly sitting at the bottom of stairs, waiting for the shower to be free. He smiled at his father and sister. "Hey, dad! Did you sleep well?"
Seeing Grant, Coulson smiled, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and completely ignoring the fact that his son had been working hard. He had no qualms about hugging his children when they'd been working hard. "I did... your sister had a nightmare, though." He didn't say it, but he was letting Grant know that Bobbi might still be emotionally fragile.
Grant gave his baby sister a worried look. "You ok now?" he asked quietly, reaching out a hand and running it through her hair gently.
"Yeah...I am. Thanks to daddy...." Bobbi's smile was relaxed. "I'm going to help Wanda and Nat now...if you need me."
Grant waited till she'd disappeared into the kitchen before turning to his father. "I'll make my shower quick and then go help the girls in the kitchen. I'll keep an eye on her while you relax with Grandpa and Uncle Paul. She'll be disappointed if she thinks she 'ruined' everything by making you worry about her...." Grant made air quotes with his fingers.
Coulson nodded, leaning in to gently kiss Grant's forehead. "I appreciate that. She told me about the dream... it was pretty horrible. Hopefully, today will be a good experience for her." Looking lovingly at Grant, he added, "For all of you."
Grant grinned crookedly. "And here we are hoping to make it a good one for you!" Quickly kissing his father's cheek, Grant took the stairs two at a time, heading up for his shower.
As they were about to start breakfast, Natasha quietly handed a gift and a card each to her father, uncle and grandfather... three of the men who had given her a family and a place to belong, despite what she'd done in her past. "We were talking about making a commitment to come and visit more often," she said softly.
Ben squeezed Natasha's arm gently. "That sounds like a very good idea," he said. "Now that things have settled down for you all... there should be no problem with you all coming to visit, whether separately or in groups."
Clint handed the three men his own gift and cards. "What Nat said. Since being here, I've realized that I've actually missed it more than I thought. And I'd like my two kids to have the chance to be with family like we did...."
Grant smiled crookedly, handing over his own items. "This has been such an awesome trip...and I want to get to know you all so much better..." he admitted quietly.
Bobbi bit her lip, handing the three men her own cards...obviously hand made. She scratched her ear awkwardly. "I'm afraid I didn't have a chance to actually buy you something nice...I didn't realize until we got here that it would be father's day...I never got a chance to celebrate it before...." She shrugged slightly, blushing at what appeared, to her, to be something not much better than what a child would do. She didn't comment on visiting more often; she figured it would be obvious she agreed with all of her siblings.
Coulson smiled at Bobbi, gently squeezing her shoulder and kissing her forehead. "Don't worry about it. Home-made cards mean just as much," he whispered.
"And you all being here means more than any other gift," Ben stated simply.
Wanda and Pietro conferred for a moment and then handed over their own gifts and cards... somewhat shyly where Wanda was concerned. Neither of them had had the opportunity to celebrate Father's Day.
Clint grinned at his kids, pulling them both in for a tight hug and kissing them each on the top of the head. "Thanks, Speedy... Sweet Pea..." he whispered to them. "You know...this is the first time I've been on the receiving end of this holiday...." he said in bemusement. "I think I'm in good company..." He grinned at his father and uncle. He turned more serious for a second as he looked at his father. "I just have to say thank you...if you hadn't had taken a chance on a smart mouthed street kid who was on a fast track to the wrong end of town... I...I can't imagine what my life would have been like." He noticed as Nat, Grant and Bobbi all nodded and made sounds of agreement; their father had rescued them every bit as much as he'd rescued Clint. Quietly, he continued, "... I do know I wouldn't have two of the greatest kids in the world now myself; I don't think I would have been able to open my heart up in that way. So...thanks, dad. For taking a chance on me..." He cleared his throat then grinned crookedly. "Now, I'm starving and whatever ya'll have fixed up smells wonderful.... shall we eat?"