Author’s Note: This was written as a RPG (roll playing game) between co-authors Hope1iz and BlackFox12. Set after the season one finale. Thirtieth in the Redeeming Grant series.
Disclaimer: We don't own anything from Agents of SHIELD or Avengers Assemble and we're not making any money from this fic
Summary: Family means not doing things on your own. It also means being accepted for who you are.
Warning(s): Spanking; spoilers for Agents of SHIELD seasons one and two. Spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron
Co-Author’s Website:BlackFox12's fanfiction.net page
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. If you have not yet seen that movie, you will most likely want to wait to read this story.
Clint landed the Quinjet in the field adjacent to the old farmhouse then glanced back at his passengers. All of them looked subdued and uncertain- especially Tony and Bruce. Nat was sat close to the mild mannered scientist. Tony was a little apart, avoiding looking at Steve...looking at anyone, really. Thor and Loki were having a quiet conversation. The rest of their family had been on various other missions when everything had gone down.
"He murdered JARVIS..." The billionaire seemed in shock at that fact.
Steve had yet to really say anything to Tony, though he had stuck close to his son, not even trying to hide his love and concern. When Tony spoke, he stirred and then moved closer to him, leaning in to press a kiss to the top of his son's head. "We all feel his loss," he said quietly. It was true. The AI might never have had a physical form... but he had still been a part of their family and his death had been a hard blow.
Natasha had been lost inside her own mind for most of the journey, though still aware enough of her surroundings to act if she needed. Glancing outside at their surroundings, a look of recognition came across her face... though she didn't say anything.
Thor glanced up as the Quinjet landed and then addressed Clint. "Where have you brought us?"
Tony nodded at his father's words, tears finally sliding down his face, though he didn't say anything. He couldn't help but feel he had murdered JARVIS. It was his own ego, hubris and desire to act in secret that led to their dire situation. He had known if he mentioned his plan to anyone else, they'd veto it...he was using Loki's scepter, after all. Even Loki had been afraid to be near the thing.
Bruce glanced at his brother and father bleakly. He didn't say anything close to 'I told you so'. While he had originally spoken against Tony's plan, he hadn't actively tried to stop him either. He could have called Steve down...told him what was occurring. He hadn't. As far as he was concerned, he was as guilty as Tony.
Clint glanced at Thor and gave a crooked smile. "Home..." he said softly, "…I was raised here for several years before I joined SHIELD. We both were." He glanced at Natasha fondly. "It's completely off the grid, so Ultron finding it is not likely...."
Loki looked through the window, then back at Thor. Of everyone here, he'd had the most experience dealing with the staff and dealing with its malevolence. He was doing his best to be optimistic for everyone else's sake. It was difficult, though. He was terrified of what had been unleashed.
Steve wrapped one arm around Tony's shoulders, drawing him in close. Not failing to register the look on Bruce's face, he reached out with his other arm, wrapping it around Bruce's shoulders, even as he glanced at Clint. "It looks like it might be a good place to regroup... contact the others and tell them to meet us here." He spoke soberly, aware that Ultron would target their loved ones if he could.
Natasha stood up slowly, bracing one hand on the wall of the Quinjet for support. "It's been a while since we've been here," she said quietly to her brother. The look on her face was haunted. Her father drawing her out and towards him had been a long, drawn-out process. To be so starkly reminded of her past was difficult to deal with.
The look Thor turned on his brother was one of intense concern. He placed his hand on Loki's shoulder and squeezed gently. "We will shelter here and make plans."
Tony put his head on his father's shoulder, still not saying anything...not sure what he could say.
Bruce wrapped one arm around Steve. "We unleashed Armageddon." His whisper was filled with all the guilt Tony's face was displaying.
Clint ignored Bruce's words...answering Steve. "I already did. In code. Even if Ultron intercepted, he wouldn't know what I was talking about...but dad would and he'd get all the others with him...." His voice was certain, which went a long way to calming everyone down.
Loki nodded at his brother. "The scepter’s malevolence is no longer contained. It won't be easy to stop...but...it is possible."
Steve kept his arms around Tony and Bruce, even as he addressed Clint. "We'll plan out what to do when they get here." Keeping his sons close, he moved off the Quinjet, not scolding or angry. All that would do was upset them even more. Steve knew they were beating themselves up internally and he knew that, to help them move on, he was going to need to address what had happened.
Thor nodded, his arm shifting around Loki's shoulder as he guided his brother from the Quinjet. "I will be happier when the rest of our family is able to join us and I can reassure myself of their safety."
Natasha waited to exit the Quinjet with Clint. Despite the haunted look on her face, the farmhouse was a source of a lot of good memories. Being here was helping to calm her a bit... and she knew her father would help her the rest of the way.
Clint nodded, staying on the Quinjet until everyone but Natasha had exited. Standing, and finally able to do something other than talk, he wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. "Dad will be here soon, Tash... and everything will be ok. You'll see..." He kissed his sister on the forehead, before turning and gently leading her out of the jet and toward the house.
Loki couldn't help but observe the area, taking in everything he could see; making sure there was no threat. Just because Clint remembered it as a safe place and Ultron didn't know of it, that didn't mean it was completely safe. He knew Clint and Natasha would likely do a perimeter search themselves, despite Clint's assurances.
Tony followed along with his father and brother meekly. His mind was working a mile a minute, trying to come up with some way to stop what he'd unleashed. He wasn't sure what to do, though; without JARVIS to point out flaws, it was infinitely more difficult.
Bruce kept a worried eye on his brother. He sighed softly. He should have fought Tony harder, instead of giving in to his plans. He could tell that Tony wasn't feeling like his normal optimistic self when he'd told him of the plans. Something had occurred in Sokovia that had affected his brother. Something big. Something Tony had kept to himself. "What happened in Sokovia?" he finally asked; entirely too late to prevent Tony and himself from unleashing Ultron, but maybe it would help him and their father help his brother.
Natasha relaxed against Clint and sighed, knowing he was right... even though she found herself wondering. And she hated that... hated that she had to ask herself yet again if she was worth it to their father. Because she remembered the long nights he'd stay awake with her when she was too afraid to sleep. The constant reassurances. The fact that he never left... no matter what she'd done to try and drive him away. He and Clint were the first people to ever accept her truly and unconditionally.
Thor carried Mjolnir in one hand, in case of any threat... though he trusted Clint's word that this place was safe.
Steve looked at Tony as Bruce spoke. "Something changed there," he said. "Talk to us, son. Let me help you." His arm tightened around Tony. The only thing on his face was love and concern.
"I saw it all..." Tony whispered. "Everyone...dead...because of me. Because I was unable to stop it from happening... I was unable to protect the world. I wasn't even able to protect my family...." he muttered softly. "But the intelligence in the core of the staff...it would have enabled me to protect the world...protect my family. It was meant to be a protection...." He shook his head, slight confusion in his tone. He wasn't sure what went wrong. Why it went wrong.
Bruce frowned. It was obvious that something had messed with Tony's head while in Sokovia. Everything Tony had decided to do, including hiding his actions from their family, was due to what he'd 'seen' in Sokovia. "Oh, Tony...." he whispered, giving Steve a worried glance.
Clint glanced toward Steve and his sons, having heard just enough to know something had happened to Tony which caused the billionaire to unleash Ultron. "Was he mind controlled?" he asked softly, wondering if they should be worried about him losing control over himself in the future and them needing to stop him.
Steve tightened his embrace around Tony. "The female enhanced we fought today... I also saw her in Sokovia. Agent Hill told me about her and her brother... he's fast. She can, I believe, manipulate our minds... make us see things; things that we fear... or want."
Thor frowned. "I also saw a vision at her hands."
"Well, since I doubt seriously Tony wants to be the only person left alive in the world, I'm guessing she showed him his worst fear," Clint said sarcastically, then sighed.
"I should have told you..." Tony admitted with a hitch in his breath. He looked at the ground, his shoulders slumping in defeat.
Bruce grimaced. "I should have insisted you tell me... and fought against your plans harder. Woulda shouldas aren't really going to help us right now, though...."
Loki slanted his head. "The woman showed your greatest fear... and the scepter built on that fear. We will likely need the scepter to end Ultron...."
Clint turned toward the long dirt road, slanting his head. "I hear vehicles approaching. It's either the rest of our family, or we've got company of a nature we really don't need...."
Steve stayed with his sons, even as he turned to face the vehicles... just in case there was anything dangerous approaching.
Coulson had wound up with Grant and Bobbi in the vehicle in the lead. As he parked, he noticed how close Natasha was standing to Clint... and the look on her face that indicated (at least to him) that something had spun her at least close to an emotional breakdown. Barely before the car had stopped, he was out and heading over to his oldest children. He didn't need to say anything, or for her to speak. He just tugged Natasha into his arms.
What had happened had been all over the news and Leo was quick to exit the vehicle he was in, heading over to his father so he could give him a tight hug.
As everyone else began exiting, Natasha leaned into her father, looking around, and mumbled, "We're going to need to figure out where to put everyone."
Grant had exited after turning the car off and pocketing the keys. He'd walked a bit slower to his father and older siblings, but he was no less concerned. Putting a hand on Clint's shoulder, he squeezed gently as he watched his father take care of Natasha. The look on his older sister's face was a bit frightening to see; he'd never seen her as anything but in control of her emotions.
Bobbi stuck close to Grant, quickly giving Clint a tight hug. "We saw everything..." she muttered quietly, "…Is everyone truly alright?"
"No one is wounded, if that is what you are asking," Clint said softly. He didn't say everything was alright. He wasn't sure anything would be alright for a very long time.
Bruce hugged Leo back tightly, a sense of relief filling him as his son was now where he could see him and make sure he was ok. He nodded at Jemma as she came up not much later than Fitz and held one arm out to her, relaxing further still as she quickly rushed into his embrace. He took slow, deep breaths, letting the scent of his son and daughter calm him; and calm the other guy. Hulk had been worried for his family as well.
Clint heard Natasha's words and couldn't help but laugh. At everyone else's curious looks, he grinned. "Nat was wondering how we were going to fit the entire family into four small bedrooms. I'm thinking we'll let the 'older' people take the beds and the younger ones can camp out on the floors in sleeping bags or blankets. We can spread out into the living room and dining room, too."
By this time, the other three cars had parked next to Coulson's vehicle. May, Skye, Bucky, and Lance got out of one; Fury, Trip, Brock, and Mack got out of another; Pepper slowly walked toward Tony from the car she'd ridden in with Leo and Jemma.
Pepper quickly hugged Steve tightly, kissing him on the cheek, before she wrapped her arms around Tony and held onto him tightly. Tony responded by hiding his face against her neck.
Coulson held Natasha close to himself. "We didn't pick up any food," he said quietly to Clint. "I thought we could order in something, since we all felt getting here as fast as possible was more important." He kissed his oldest daughter's forehead and then reached one hand out to touch Clint's shoulder. "How are you holding up?"
Steve let go of Tony so that Pepper could hug him. He scanned around quickly, making sure that the rest of his family was there, safe and unhurt.
Pepper shook her head. "I asked Happy to get food for all of us. He'll bring it by...as well as some burner phones so that we can contact our friends who aren't here with us. After he drops it all off, he'll go on vacation to visit his sister in New Jersey." She stepped out of Tony's arms and back into Steve's, just relieved that her family was intact. She would have hugged Bruce, too, but Jemma and Leo didn't appear ready to let go of him any time soon.
Clint nodded. "That's probably a better idea than doing take out...the less people who know where we are that we can't personally vouch for, the better...."
Trip glanced at his father. "We need to plan what we're going to do...and how we're going to do it. Are there any people we can call in for help? Or favors?"
Steve wrapped his arms around Pepper tightly and kissed her forehead. "I'm glad you're here safe," he said quietly to her. "And I definitely think it's a good idea for Happy to leave." They'd lost JARVIS already... Steve wasn't prepared to lose anyone else.
"We need to figure out what he's trying to do and head him off at the source." Fury looked at Tony. "Do you have any ideas?" Like JARVIS, Fury assumed that Ultron had absorbed parts of Tony. He might be able to give them some insight.
"He was meant to protect the world...somehow...things got warped to where he thinks the world needs protecting from us... from humanity...." Tony said hoarsely.
Pepper looked at him with worry, before glancing at Steve, a question in her eyes.
Bruce looked at his father as well, his eyes almost begging for Steve to step in. He could tell Tony felt responsible for everything and was being eaten up with guilt. The billionaire genius would have a hard time focusing on solving the problem as long as he was thinking about what he'd done wrong.
Clint glanced around at the group, noting that everyone looked nervous and uncertain. "Well, why don't we start by going inside and staking out where we're going to be sleeping? How long do you think it will take Happy to bring supplies, Pepper?"
Pepper smiled crookedly. "I had him go out and start gathering them when I realized what was happening. He had at least half the stuff we needed by the time you gave me directions on where to come. So I'm thinking another thirty minutes at most?"
Steve placed a hand gently on Tony's shoulder, even as he spoke to the others. "Why don't you all sort out sleeping arrangements? Tony and I will talk privately in the barn." The look he directed at his son was loving and concerned.
Coulson still had his arms wrapped around Natasha and he nodded, gently guiding his daughter towards the farmhouse. "We can make sure the five of us are in the same area... and I'm sure you and I can share a sleeping bag or bed," he said softly to her.
Pepper hugged Steve and Tony one last time, then went over and put her arms around Bruce, Jemma and Leo. "C'mon. I think I'd like if you three stayed with Steve, Tony and I...." she said quietly.
Bucky watched his brother and nephew quietly then turned toward Fury. "After we've chosen the rooms we'll bunk in, maybe we can set up a rotation for guard duty. I have no doubt this place is safe," he glanced at Coulson, "but better safe than sorry."
Tony didn't argue, or say anything really, as he shifted closer to his father and let him lead him out to the barn.
Coulson was close enough to overhear Bucky's comment and gave a nod. "That's a good idea," he agreed. "No place is completely safe all the time." He had the key for the farmhouse with him and as he reached the door with Natasha, he unlocked it and guided her inside, pressing a kiss to her hair. "It's going to be all right, sweetie."
Clint wrapped his arms around both Bobbi and Grant's shoulders and led them forward to follow their father and sister into the farmhouse. "Been a while since I've been here. Some of my favorite memories growing up are here, though...." he told them with a crooked smile.
The others filtered into the farmhouse after them, beginning to figure out where the family groupings were sleeping.
Steve kept his arm around Tony's shoulders as he guided his son into the barn. "I love you, Tony," he whispered to him. "No matter what. I promise."
"I love you too, dad..." Tony said quietly, relaxing slightly at his father's words. Even though he already knew it and believed it, hearing it helped immensely. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you all what I was planning...give you a chance to stop me." He sounded regretful. "Bruce tried, but..." He shrugged a little, not entirely sure why Bruce stopped fighting him and went along with it. At the time he was saying things to convince his brother, he really wasn't paying attention to what he was saying to convince him.
Steve just wrapped his arms around Tony in a tight hug. "I understand that what you saw was very scary," he said gently. "You should have told us what you were planning... but Ultron going bad was not your doing. You couldn't have known what would happen. But what you could control was whether or not you talked to anyone about it."
"I should have told you..." Tony admitted easily. "I'm not sure why I didn't. At the time...Bruce even said we should talk it over with everyone first...and I specifically remember knowing it was what I should do, but something...." He shook his head. "I can blame it on being scared. But the fact is, I should have ignored my fear and done what I knew to be right. And I didn't. And now...." He swallowed hard. "I'm not sure I wasn't still being influenced by what I'd seen, but if I was- that was even more reason to tell you all."
"We'll work to fix it, Tony," Steve said gently. "It was a mistake, but those happen. We'll plan what to do and figure out how to handle Ultron." He kissed Tony's forehead. "But right now, we'll deal with you keeping something like that from me... from the rest of the team." He led Tony over to one of the hay barrels, taking a seat and gently tugging his son across his lap, securing him with an arm wrapped around his waist.
Tony didn't argue, or fight, or do anything but willingly go with his father. As soon as he was over Steve's knee, he reached down and grasped his father's leg with one hand and braced himself on the ground with the other. It said something to his level of guilt that he didn't apologize or try and explain his actions any further. Instead, he uttered two words in a quiet, relieved voice. "Thanks, dad...."
Steve rubbed Tony's back gently. "I love you, son. There will never be a time when that ceases to be true. No matter what. I will never give up on you. I will always be here for you." He bared Tony and then lifted his hand, bringing it down in the first sharp swat before repeating it.
Tony closed his eyes and squeezed his father's leg, letting out a tiny gasp at the first swat, but otherwise managed to remain quiet. He did his best to relax into his father's grip and focus entirely on the punishment he was receiving. As always, when over his father's knee, he felt childish...vulnerable...out of control. He supposed that was the point. To remind him that he wasn't alone and didn't have to do everything alone; didn't have to control everything. That he shouldn't try and control everything. Because when he did, mistakes like this happened. His eyes quickly began to water, tears running down his face. "I know, daddy..." he finally whispered. "I'm sorry I... I'm just so very sorry." He swallowed hard.
Steve settled quickly into a rhythm, covering Tony's entire backside in the swats, going right down to his thighs before he started again from the top. Halfway through the second circuit, he began speaking again. "I know you were trying to do the right thing. I know you didn't intend for any of this to happen. But it did... and it means that you have to come and talk to me when something happens. I would never make fun of you or turn you away. I'm your father. You can lean on me."
"I know, daddy...I know. I didn't keep it from you because I...because I didn't think I could lean on you...." Tony gasped out, barely keeping himself from crying. "I didn't want to be told I was wrong....I knew I was wrong, but didn't want to be told I was wrong..." he admitted, his voice catching. The shame hit him suddenly and he went limp. "I knew I was wrong...." He began to cry softly.
Steve couldn't force himself to continue. This wasn't about punishment so much as helping Tony feel like he'd answered for what he did. Quickly gathering Tony into his arms, Steve cuddled him tightly and kissed his head.
Tony started crying harder as he found himself held tight in his father's arms. "I'm so sorry, daddy.... I knew. I knew.... I should have...I wish I had..." Tony shook his head slightly then pressed tighter against his father. He didn't know how long he cried. Eventually, he ran out of tears and could only sit limply in his father's arms, sniffling. "Feel like a child...." he said softly, but not in a voice that sounded overly upset at the fact. "Should just accept that I suck at making huge decisions on my own and ask your permission whenever I come up with a brilliant idea..." he muttered, his voice a little more irritated; but only at himself. The way he clung to Steve, it was obvious he relied on his father to keep him grounded and lead him...even if he often did things to try and circumvent his father actually telling him what to do.
Steve just cuddled Tony close and tight, threading his fingers through his son's hair. "When you're not thinking clearly, or if you feel like something's wrong, you need to come to me," he said gently. "I would never turn you away. You know I'll support you... in anything."
"I know..." Tony whispered, nuzzling into his father's chest. "I don't know why I fight it...why I fought it." Sniffling again, he reluctantly stood and put his clothing right. "I think whatever she did...it was still messing with my head. That's not an excuse...but...I'm afraid it might happen again," he admitted quietly.
Steve stood up, wrapping his arm around Tony's shoulders. "That's why you and I are going to stick closer together," he said firmly. "I'm going to protect you, son."
Tony closed his eyes tightly and turned in his father's arms, wrapping his arms around the other man tightly, and hid his face against his shoulder. "I love you, dad....I'm so sorry...."
"I know. And I forgive you," Steve soothed, hugging his son tightly. "I love you. You haven't succeeded in driving me away... any of us away," he promised.
Tony just nodded, holding onto his father for a bit longer before finally stepping away. "Let's go back and figure out how to take out H.A.L.; keep expecting a creepy voice to start asking me what I'm doing...and my name isn't Dave...." he muttered, running a hand over his face to wipe the remaining tears away, and then through his hair to tame the wild curls.
Steve wrapped an arm around Tony's waist, kissing his head. "At least the farmhouse is small enough that we'll all be nice and cozy together," he said, joking a little, before leading his son out of the barn and in the direction of the farmhouse.
"Yeah. I get the feeling we're gonna be getting real up close and personal for a while." Tony grinned though, easily going along with Steve and staying as close as he was able to without actually walking on the other man. "Think they'll have figured out sleeping arrangements yet?"
Steve smiled as he cuddled his son close. "I'd imagine they would have. I don't think anyone has any problems being close to each other. I suspect there might be a few people sharing sleeping bags or beds," he added. "You're welcome to share mine... that way, I can be there for you if you wake up from a bad dream."
Tony gave Steve a tiny smirk. "I'll take you up on that offer....have a feeling Pep won't be letting either of us out of her sight any time soon...so don't be surprised if she's vying for cuddles...."
"I'm sure we can manage that," Steve said. "We could always open out a couple of sleeping bags and put them together... use a couple of blankets to cover us..." As he spoke, he guided his son into the farmhouse.
Pepper had been waiting for her fiancé and father's return. No sooner had they entered into the farmhouse than she was quickly by their side, kissing Tony and then holding onto Steve for all she was worth. "Rhodey showed me pictures of what happened," she admitted hesitantly, watching both men uncertainly. She wasn’t sure if they would want to talk about it. "He and Sam went to confer with the military, in case you aren't able to stop things before Ultron makes a bigger move...." She couldn't help but sound a bit scared. "I brought an extra suit...if you need me...I know I don't normally get involved, but I have flown in one before for a short bit of time...."
Tony winced. "I don't think I want you in the fighting, Hot-Pepper. Even if you are able to hold your own...I'd be too worried about you to do what I need to do," he admitted with a crooked smile. "But I have no doubt we will need you to help with assisting refugees or evacuation. And you are so much better at planning things like that than I am...."
Steve nodded his agreement, hugging Pepper tightly. "Neither of us want to risk losing you," he said honestly. "You're an important part of our lives. We need your calm nature when there will be civilians panicking..."
Pepper nodded. "Of course," she readily agreed. Just because she was able to do something and possibly fight didn't mean she should and she trusted both Tony and Steve's judgment on where she would be most needed.
Bucky had wandered up by that point and heard part of the conversation. "That's not a bad idea, actually... I mean...assigning jobs to different people now. Since we don't know Ultron's next step, it would be good to have something in place for as soon as we find out what he is planning.... And helping the civilians who will be displaced and panicking is as important as fighting the sentient robot. Maybe more so...." Motioning toward his brother, nephew and niece, he led them into the living area where everyone was congregating.
"Ok. Everyone's here now, so we can decide who is where. By then, Happy should have got here with the supplies and we can make dinner and then get some rest. We're going to need it." Bucky spoke with authority. He figured he was only saying what Coulson, Fury or Steve would say themselves...and if they had a problem with anything he said, they would tell him.
Steve nodded. "I'm not sure we're going to be able to have much space to ourselves. That probably won't matter a great deal, but I know I intend to stay close to Tony and Pepper... I'm sure everyone else wants to be close to their immediate family."
Coulson nodded his agreement. "Particularly in light of what happened..." He was sitting with his children, arm wrapped around Natasha's shoulders. The two of them had had some time to sit and talk and Natasha was slowly getting back to her old self.
At some point during the discussions of who would sleep where and who was going to handle what jobs when they finally had a location to go after Ultron, Happy had arrived with all the supplies, as well as several burner phones for various people to contact the friends and family who weren't directly with them. Tony and Pepper had sent the other man off with a tight hug and wishes for safety and admonishments for him to be careful; he did the same, looking at Steve as if asking the other man for a promise that he would protect two of the most important people in his life. Then, giving everyone else a nod, he'd driven off to see his family in New Jersey.
They'd had a quick meal, set up their sleeping areas and by the time all of that was done, the events of the last few days had caught up with them and they all headed to their assigned areas to sleep. The lack of room didn't bother any of them, considering a large portion of them were wrapped around their parent as close as they could get. Bucky smiled crookedly as he tugged Lance closer into his arms, kissing the top of his son's head. Quite a lot of the night had gone to arguing over who would actually be going in to fight. He wasn't happy about being put into background, sidelined unless Ultron somehow got past the Avengers, but he understood it and once he'd accepted his role, the rest had fallen into line and accepted their roles. Hopefully, they wouldn't need to redefine those roles.
Wanda couldn't help but lean on her brother... the only source of strength she had right now. She kept her hand in front of her, not glancing at the two people who had been brainwashed in the room... but red light played around her fingers as she broke the brainwashing on the two other women.
She didn't need to ask her brother. When one of them made a decision, they both did.
Kara blinked rapidly as her head cleared for the first time in forever. For the first time since SHIELD had fallen and she'd been taken prisoner by HYDRA, not only was she in complete control of her own mind; but she wasn't being tortured as Whitehall attempted to break her mind. The first thing she noticed was that there were three other people in the room with her- two women and one man. The other thing she noticed was that the location they were in looked like an abandoned factory. She was nowhere near the location she'd been when Whitehall was attempting to break her. He'd obviously succeeded at some point, since she didn't remember anything past his attempts. She didn't know where she was...or when. "Where am I? And...what's the date?" she asked hesitantly.
It had been a split second decision to bring the two women. Pietro would have liked to save the others as well, but he hadn't wanted to risk Wanda's safety. "Where Ultron won't be able to find us for a while," he said.
Wanda stepped away from her brother. "We are safe... at least for the time being."
Dr. Helen Cho looked at Wanda and Pietro, allowing her suspicion to bleed through. "You are helping us? But why? You helped him...."
Kara looked confused. "Helped who? And where is Whitehall?" Wanda had managed to break through the brainwashing. Unfortunately, she hadn't been able to heal the damage caused. Not yet, anyway. Kara had no memory of anything before Whitehall....
"We..." Wanda hesitated, glancing at her brother, before looking at Cho. "...I did not know he intended to destroy the world. Once that became clear, we could no longer help him."
"Destroying the world is one step too far," Pietro said... though although the words should have been humorous, his tone was far from it.
Wanda then looked at Kara. "I could break the brainwashing on you... but I cannot restore the memories you have lost." She was calm, if a bit sad, and leaned into her brother for the emotional support.
Cho still looked suspicious- they hadn't seemed to care who they hurt when it hadn't been the whole world, after all- but she supposed a change of heart for the whole world was better than no change of heart at all. Nodding briskly, she put a hand on Kara's shoulder and moved closer to the twins, the confused agent following along in her wake.
"Can you at least tell me my name?" Kara asked hopefully.
"You were referred to as both Kara and Agent 33 within our hearing," Pietro stated. "Since I doubt your name is Agent 33, I'm guessing it's Kara."
Wanda's mind was racing. "He is going to try to complete the upload..." She glanced at her twin. "But we cannot warn anyone through use of the computers. Ultron will discover any attempts at communication and he has to be stopped."
Cho frowned thoughtfully. "Do you think he'd be paying attention to telephones? If I called my boss... the official one, not the one that you all were trying to destroy... She knows me well enough that I might at least be able to give her a hint that I know something but can't say... and my location so that she could send help....."
Kara frowned. "Oddly enough, even though I remember nothing of my past... and thank you for my name, as I could not remember that either... I remember different codes for communicating, so that the enemy cannot figure out what is being said. If she has anyone from SHIELD with her, maybe I could send the message...."
Pietro glanced at Wanda and then at the two other women and shrugged. "Sounds as good a plan as any."
Wanda nodded. "He will try to find a safe place to continue his upload..." Unfortunately, she'd only seen the destruction in Ultron's head... not anything that might give her a clue to find him.
Kara wrinkled her nose. "Ok. Well...I suggest we find a place that will be easy to escape from, in case he is monitoring the telephones. And hope that I'm not painting a big target on their back by calling...." she muttered to herself.
Cho glanced at the twins. "Do you know of a place such as that? That might have a telephone we could use?"
"I know a couple of places." Pietro had no sooner said that than he was grabbing the three women once more, running towards a hideout he and his sister had used in the past... one that neither of them had mentioned to their previous allies.
Cho blinked and took a deep breath once they'd finally stopped, then glanced around curiously and nervously.
Kara took slow, deep breaths. "That takes some getting used to," she mumbled, before looking at Pietro. "The phone?"
Pietro leaned his hand against the wall, the room they were in small and dingy. He held up a hand. "Give me a moment... Wanda?"
Wanda was already walking over to an old-fashioned phone. Without a word, she picked it up and handed it to Kara.
"Thank you..." Kara said, already glancing toward Cho. "…The number?"
Cho wrinkled her nose at the abrupt way Kara was doing everything, but decided to give the woman the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this was how she handled stress...and having amnesia about everything but the last few months was sure to be stressful. "You'll be calling Pepper Potts..." she said, by way of explanation then gave the number to Kara.
Pepper blinked in surprise as her cell phone started to ring. She pulled it out of her pocket, then glanced at the screen, her eyes widening, before she looked at everyone else in the room, a bit nervous...not certain if she should answer it or not. "It's an unknown number...."
Steve frowned. "Who knows your number?" he asked.
"It might be a contact, unable to use the normal channels," Coulson said. "Since Ultron did make his home on the internet... would you like me to take the call?" he asked.
Pepper shook her head... "I don't normally give my cell phone number out. Everyone who was at the party the other night... but all of them wouldn't show up as unknown..." She glanced at Coulson when he mentioned not being able to use other channels. She quickly handed him her phone. "Please...." She winced, not liking acting like a scared child; but so much was going on and she didn't want to be the one who led Ultron to everyone if answering the phone was a mistake.
Coulson took the phone and answered, serious and professional. "This is Director Coulson here."
Kara almost dropped the phone in surprise. She recognized that name. "D...director? This is Kara..." She tried to make it seem like a normal, everyday conversation; in case Ultron was listening for key words or phrases. Even if he was integrated into the internet, surely he couldn't be monitoring every single conversation going on in the world, word for word. It would take too much concentration- or, at least, she thought it would. So keeping things simple and 'normal' would hopefully not draw his attention. "I....I'm sorry I can't come in to work today. I've been sick...Some creep slipped something into my drink at the bar the other night and... well, I just hope he didn't ask me to do anything I wouldn't normally want to do because I was doing whatever he asked...I can't even remember most of it." She winced...not certain if what she was saying was making sense or would help or not. She motioned at Pietro and Wanda, signing that she needed to know where they were; or if they knew where Ultron was.
Coulson listened, his concern growing as he registered what wasn't being said. He recognized Kara... her name, anyway. She'd disappeared when HYDRA had surfaced. It looked like they were dealing with another brainwashing, if he was reading between the lines correctly. He could hear whispering in the background, recognizing an address being stated, and swiftly wrote it down. "I have it," he stated. "Someone will come by to check on you within the hour."
Kara was surprised at the quickness of the reply, but grateful that she didn't need to explain more. The less explanation, the less chance Ultron would figure it out and come after either group. "Thank you, sir..." Her voice was soft and grateful; and if a little bit of her uncertainty and worry bled through...well, wouldn't anyone who'd been 'drugged' and couldn't remember what happened be scared?
"I will see you in the office soon," Coulson stated... and then disconnected the call, not wanting to risk giving Ultron any more information. He looked around at the others. "Someone's going to need to go to this address." He indicated the piece of paper. "I heard at least two other people in the background, but I don't know if there were any more people at the address. Whoever goes should be armed... just in case there's a trap being set. Or if they're being watched."
Clint took the paper. "I'll take the Quinjet. I suggest we keep the group going small... that way, if it is a trap we won't lose as many people. Is there anyone specific you think they may need? Did they sound like they needed a doctor?"
"From the sounds of it, I believe Kara was brainwashed and that the brainwashing was broken somehow," Coulson said. "It didn't sound like anyone was injured."
"I'll go with you, Clint," Fury said. "I'm not acting as Director any longer, but I was the former director."
Steve was frowning. "The female Enhanced, Wanda... she can manipulate minds." He looked at Clint and Fury, then round at the others. "Anyone who goes there should be prepared for the possibility of them both being there as well."
Clint nodded at Fury. "Great, sir. I'm thinking maybe just the two of us will be fine. The smaller the group, the less likely Ultron will notice us, hopefully. If Wanda is there... well, she tried to manipulate my mind once before and it didn't work. I think the fact that I'd been controlled by the scepter somehow made me immune. Which... Loki might be a good option to go with us, since he should also be immune to her abilities..." He glanced toward Thor's brother with a question in his eyes, before turning toward Fury. His uncle may not technically be director anymore, but Clint figured he still outranked him... and should make the final decision on who went on the rescue team.
Loki also glanced toward Fury. "If you think my presence will be helpful, I will gladly go to help...."
Fury nodded. "I think that's a good idea." He stood up. "We should make sure that we have as many lines of communication open between us as possible." They'd already made sure that the temporary numbers were inputted into every other cell phone.
"The rest of us will be on standby," Coulson promised.
Loki nodded. "I should be able to communicate with a clone, if necessary." He quickly gathered what few items he thought he might need then followed Clint, who was already heading out toward the Quinjet.
Fury followed, entering the Quinjet with Clint and Loki after squeezing his sons' shoulders and promising them they'd be in contact if anything did happen.
"There is something I feel I must do," Thor spoke up. "I will attend to that... and then I will be back." He left the farmhouse, using his hammer to fly and seek out Erik Selvig.
Tony glanced around at those who were still at the farmhouse. "Ok. So maybe we need to plan on what we will do when we finally figure out where Ultron has gone? Who will be going to head him off... and where and what will everyone else be doing?"
Clint piloted the Quinjet expertly, keeping their cloaking in place the whole time. It didn't take long at all for them to reach the location that his father had written down. Landing in as gentle a manner as possible, he glanced toward the building in front of them. It appeared abandoned, but appearances were often deceiving. "How do you want us to proceed sir?" He turned toward Fury.
Loki glanced toward Fury as well.
Fury looked at the two of them and then spoke. "Clint, I think you and I should approach. If it looks like we're in danger, Loki," he turned to the Asgardian, "then do you think you could teleport in, grab us and teleport back out again?"
Loki gave a quick nod. "If I send a clone in with you so that I can see the layout of the building- and where you are- then I could do that with no problems."
"Then we have a plan in place." Fury moved to exit the Quinjet, going carefully so as not to draw too much attention.
Loki quickly made a clone, which then followed Fury out of the Quinjet.
Clint made a face, giving Loki a crooked grin. "You do not know how happy I am, sometimes, that you are family and are on our side..." he said in a teasing but somehow serious voice.
Loki gave a faint snort and blushed, but he smiled back. "You should probably catch up with our uncle, should you not?" he finally said, with a raised eyebrow
"Yeah, yeah...I'm going..." Clint muttered, even as he quickly exited the jet and caught up to Fury and clone-Loki.
Fury spared clone-Loki a glance, but didn't seem that uncomfortable around this ability of the Asgardian's. When he reached the building, he tried the front door and found it to be unlocked. Just in case, he drew his gun from its holster as he pushed on the door, preparing to enter the building.
Clone-Loki stayed in the shadows...taking in every bit of information he could of the building's layout; where a safe place to teleport in and out would be if necessary.
Clint drew his own weapon, holding an arrow ready to notch and send flying if necessary. When they finally reached a room with people, he was surprised by who was there. Dr. Cho had helped bandage him up in the past, her abilities with synthetic skin allowing him to heal with little to no scarring in several instances. He wanted to ask what she was doing there, but until Fury had indicated that he felt it was clear enough to talk, his questions would have to wait. He glanced at Kara, recognizing the other woman even if he didn't know her well. He then looked toward Wanda and Pietro. He gave the twins a crooked grin...still not saying anything, but if the look in his eyes was anything to go by, he would have said something teasing.
Kara had turned, sensing the presence of the team, even before they were close enough to be seen. Her eyes widened slightly when she saw Fury...flashes of memory suddenly bombarding her. "You...you died, sir!" she finally blurted, that one image sticking with her long enough for her to remember what it was before slipping from her mind, to be replaced by other images related to the tall, dark and imposing man.
Cho gave Kara a sympathetic look, but didn't say anything.
Fury quickly scanned the occupants of the room, making sure they weren't a threat, before he addressed Kara. "My death was a ruse to lure HYDRA out and give SHIELD an advantage."
Wanda didn't leave Pietro's side, her dependency on her brother fairly clear. Her eyes were on the entrance the men had used, though.
Pietro stirred next to his sister, holding onto her arm. "Ultron intends to upload his consciousness into a synthesized form. He has the body. All he needs now is time."
Clint frowned at that news. "Well, that can't be good at all...." he muttered, "…Although it explains why he'd have taken you..." he glanced at Dr. Cho apologetically.
Kara, blinked at Fury's answer then looked at Clint. She was obviously feeling very off-kilter and uncertain about everything.
Cho nodded, moving to place a hand on Kara's shoulder to try and give her a sense of security. "He took me because of my abilities with synthetic skin. Unfortunately, I finished creating the body before Wanda was able to break the hold on my mind. He was going to have me upload his consciousness into the body but his plans were delayed when the twins turned on him. All he needs is a safe spot where he won't be interrupted...."
Clone-Loki came into view, his eyes focusing on something else before he turned to Fury. "I believe our location has been discovered. I see more of those flying robot creatures approaching the jet. I will attempt to hold them off, but I cannot do that and retain this form.... Are you able to reach the jet on your own or do you need transport out?"
Pietro and Wanda exchanged glances and then Pietro spoke. "It may take a couple of trips, but I can get everyone out fast."
Fury made a split-second decision to trust the twins and turned to clone-Loki. "Return to the jet. We'll join you soon."
Clone-Loki nodded briefly at Fury's instructions before popping out of existence; shortly after, sounds of fighting could be heard from outside.
Clint sighed softly. "Shoulda known this was happening too easy...." he muttered, before notching an arrow and heading for the hall that led to outside, "…I'll try and draw their attention away from the jet so that you can get everyone inside," he said to Pietro. Turning to Fury he said, "Sir... you are the only one other than me that can fly the jet, so...."
Kara looked frightened. Between not knowing anything of her own history, barely recognizing the one person who had come to rescue them (and not knowing the others at all) and the fact that there was obviously a fire-fight going on outside, she looked like she was getting ready to dig her heels in and refuse to leave the safety of the building.
Cho had already begun heading toward the hallway as well. Pietro might be planning to get them all to the jet quickly, but if he didn't have to do it through winding hallways first, it would be better.
Loki had left the safety of the jet and had made several clones that were now fighting the flying robots. He was attempting to draw the robots away from the jet...he wasn't certain how successful he was being, though.
Wanda looked at her brother. "Pietro, I will go and help fight. You take the others onto the jet... and then join me."
Pietro looked at his sister, even as he prepared to run. "I'm sure that, as the oldest, I'm supposed to be giving the orders." He didn't waste any more time in arguing, though, and grabbed Cho, Kara and Fury, racing them out and into the jet.
Wanda might not have been able to blur speed the same way her brother could, but she was fast leaving the building, quickly using her powers to provide cover.
Clint glanced at Wanda as she began to help him and Loki in holding off the robots. "Nice to see you have more defenses than just getting into people's heads...." He grinned wolfishly. "I want you to be the next onto the jet. Loki is able to teleport. He and I will hold off the robots while the jet gets into the air and then he can get me and teleport us both to safety. As long as that is acceptable to you, boss?" He spoke into the coms, then waited for Fury's decision and Loki's acknowledgement.
Loki was quick to respond. "I am able to do that if it is what you decide, sir...."
Kara wasn't sure she liked moving so quickly. It was disorienting, unsettling...and with her memory so scattered and the situation being so nerve-wracking, it was all she could do not to fight Pietro as he pulled her to the jet. Only years of intense training that she didn't remember in the least kept her from panicking.
Cho hadn't been trained quite so strenuously and began shaking and hyperventilating soon after Pietro dropped her into one of the jet's seats.
"That's fine... but make sure you don't take any unnecessary chances." Fury had recovered quickly from Pietro running them onto the jet. It helped that he'd seen a lot of strange things since becoming Director of SHIELD.
Pietro heard Clint's comment and raced out of the jet, knocking several of the robots off balance before he grabbed his sister and ran back onto the jet with her.
"Of course..." Clint readily agreed, drawing the robots' attention to him by firing several explosive arrows at them, before winding his way toward Loki and away from the jet.
For his part, Loki made a few more clones to draw the robots away from not only the jet, but from himself and Clint, so that they could teleport away as soon as the jet was clear.
Kara swallowed hard, moving forward into the co-pilot seat of the jet. She didn't remember how to fly, if she ever had known how, but she figured if Fury needed anything, it would be easier for her to be sitting next to him to receive the directions than having him have to shout them back to her. "I don't remember you...but I remember that I used to obey you, so I'm guessing that means I can trust you..." she muttered to him as she sat down.
Cho glanced at Pietro and Wanda. "You did it. You got us help...." She gave a tentative smile to the twins.
Fury glanced at her. "The people on our side are the ones who can be trusted," he said, even as he worked on moving the jet out of range of the robots. "The rest of them... the rest of the team and the family... are standing by, in case we need to call in for help. Which I think we might need to," he added.
Wanda looked worriedly out of the jet. "It isn't over." She spoke softly, guilt shadowing her face. Even if this hadn't been what she'd intended, her actions had still been what triggered this.
Pietro nodded in acknowledgement of Cho's comment, his arm wrapped around his twin's shoulders.
Clint could hear Fury talking to Kara and he could see that Fury was right. What wasn't exactly clear was why. "I can't believe he'd send this many of his robots after us...there has to be something else we aren't seeing..." he said into the coms, finally managing to reach Loki's side. Standing back to back with the Asgardian, it was slightly easier to fight, knowing that the other man had his back and he could focus on what was in front of and to the side of him.
"Do you think that truck has anything to do with it?" Loki asked, even as he destroyed another robot.
"Truck? What truck?" Clint whipped his head around to stare in the direction Loki pointed. "Son of a bitch!" he swore, as he realized that all the robots coming after them were also guarding said truck. "Do you think you can get me over there? So I can see what's so important about it?" he asked Loki, without even thinking of the fact Fury was listening in.
Loki eyed the jet, which was far enough away that, while it still had some robots following it, the majority of them were starting to give up the chase and return to the truck. "I believe so, yes," he answered, before grabbing hold of Clint and teleporting them both to on top of the truck, which chose that precise moment to start moving rapidly down the street.
Both he and Clint said some rather unsavory language in response to almost falling off the truck. Luckily, they managed to grab hold.
Fury himself said some rather unsavoury language as he spotted the actions of two of his nephews. While still trying to dodge the robots, he kept in line with the truck. "Clint! Loki! Get back here!" he barked.
Pietro angled his head to look at the door of the jet, almost as if he was thinking about whether he could realistically dash out of the jet and then back in.
"Just one....second..." Clint had taken a tracking arrow from his quiver and, slowly crawling forward until he was near an area of the truck where he could embed it without it being able to easily be knocked off or removed, he shot the arrow into the cargo box. Of course, he had to let go long enough to aim and shoot the arrow; so by the time he was done, he'd slid about ten feet back and was nearing the edge.
Loki grabbed him at the last second and immediately teleported them onto the floor of the jet.
Clint immediately noticed the way Pietro was looking at the jet's door. "Don't even think about it...." he warned sternly, before allowing a sheepish look to cross his face when Dr. Cho looked at him with a raised eyebrow and a hint of amusement.
Pietro glanced at Clint, a slightly surprised look on his face, but settled back with his arm around his sister's shoulders. "That's not a very good example of what not to do."
Fury cast both Clint and Loki an irritated look. "When I tell you to do something that concerns your safety, I don't expect to be disobeyed."
Clint couldn't help but flush, but his face was still stern when he answered Pietro. "You're right. It wasn't. And I'll likely be paying for it as soon as we've landed. My misbehavior isn't an excuse for you to behave the same way!" He pointed his finger, shaking it slightly, before realizing what he was doing and quickly putting his hand down with a slightly frustrated look. He wasn't sure what it was about the twins, but he felt decidedly protective of them. He did glance toward Fury, knowing the other man was upset and had a right to be upset with him.
Loki sat up, took a deep breath then carefully moved to one of the jet's seats, the teleporting so quickly and into a moving vehicle having taken more out of him than he would have liked to admit. He did look up at Fury. "Yes, sir," he said in an apologetic tone. That was all he said. It wasn't like he could make excuses for his behavior. He knew better.
Not used to anyone trying to tell him what to do (Wanda was the only one Pietro really tended to listen to and then she was the one who was giving him orders), the gleam in Pietro's eyes suggested he might have tried to argue the point. He didn't, but only because Wanda shifted closer to him, one hand on his arm. She didn't say anything, but he subsided.
Fury shook his head. "We'll return to the farmhouse and report." He didn't say, 'And then deal with this', but he knew he didn't have to.
Clint couldn't help the cringe that crossed his face. He didn't argue, though. He did give Pietro and Wanda a speculative look, the one he gave Pietro slightly suspicious. He had a feeling the younger man was very similar to himself in not liking to be told what to do; by strangers, anyway.
Cho looked at him speculatively, before remarking, "The rumors of all of you forming an actual family were true, then.... With a hierarchy and everything...."
Loki glanced at the doctor and gave a slight smile. She was obviously curious, but he saw no reason to feed her curiosity.
Kara glanced back at the two men- Clint had got into a seat by this time- then looked at Fury, her own eyes curious. She didn't say anything, though. It wasn't any of her business... and she had a strong suspicion she didn't want to make it her business. Not if the way Loki and Clint were acting was any indication.
Fury guided the jet back in the direction of the farmhouse. He was clearly irritated... but underneath that irritation was obvious concern and care. He'd been worried about both of them. But he didn't see any need to confirm or deny what Cho had just said.
Wanda leaned against her brother, but didn't sleep, her gaze watchful and restless. Pietro kissed the side of her head, returning the look Clint gave him, even if he didn't comment on it.
Clint had to smile at Pietro's reaction, or lack of one. The younger man wasn't cowed in the least by Clint's gruffness; Clint could respect that. He could also respect that Pietro didn't know him well enough to take kindly to being bossed around like Clint had tried to do. To be honest, Clint wasn't sure what had come over him. He still felt the need to protect the two young twins... to keep them from making the same type of mistakes he himself made... and he wasn't entirely sure where the feeling came from. Turning his gaze onto Wanda, his smile softened and a hint of worry shone through. "You ok?" he finally asked.
Loki closed his eyes and tried to rest, but he couldn't help watching Fury from under his eyelashes. It was obvious his and Clint's actions had upset the other man, but he was refraining from taking them to task in front of everyone else. Loki was grateful for that thoughtful action and couldn't help but feel guilty that he'd upset the man.
Wanda focused on Clint, taking a moment to realize it was her he was addressing. "I..." She hesitated. A normal brush-off like she'd give everyone else except her twin didn't seem right in this case. So she told the truth. "This wasn't what I intended, but I know I was responsible." She leaned closer to her twin, almost hiding against him.
Pietro's arm tightened around Wanda. Although he didn't speak, it was obvious he felt her hurt as deeply as if it were his own.
Clint nodded. "Things tend to have a way of not going as intended..." He'd been there, done that. He wouldn't berate the younger woman for it. He wouldn't berate either of them for it. Instead, he tried to find some way to help them feel better...even if only a little. "When things happen that you never intended...sometimes the only thing you can do is keep moving forward and just try to make things right where and when you can. It isn't easy. But sometimes it can help...."
Wanda looked at Clint, a little uncertainly. She'd expected to be berated for those actions... and knew she deserved it... but she didn't know how to handle the supporting words.
Pietro said the words he knew his sister was thinking. "Shouldn't you be annoyed about us causing all this?"
Clint gave them both a crooked grin. "I could be. And maybe part of me is a little annoyed...but only because from what little I've seen...and from what little you're letting show, this wouldn't have happened if you'd had someone in your life to help guide you. You aren't bad people. I can tell. So the fact that all this happened..." He waved his hand vaguely in the direction of where he thought the robots had disappeared. "I find it annoying because part of me thinks if we'd found you sooner, it wouldn't have happened." He shrugged, leaning back into his seat. "It's just as much our failure as it is yours."
He stared off into space for a second before continuing, "Of course, if we had found you sooner, stopping you would have depended on if you were willing to accept our guidance or not. And if you had accepted our guidance and still embarked on the path you'd chosen, you likely wouldn't have liked my response. Any more than I'm going to like my uncle's response to what I did earlier...." He grinned wolfishly again.
Loki snorted at the understatement. "At least you're likely to get the response out of the way quickly. I've got to wait for my brother to return...and then tell him what I did...before I get my response. I hate having things hang over my head." He sighed.
Cho's glances between the twins, Clint and Loki were becoming more and more amused, even if she didn't quite understand what was being discussed.
"What kind of response is that?" Pietro asked, glancing between the two of them. He was curious, in spite of himself... though he couldn't help noticing the personal way Clint was speaking to them and it was a little worrying.
Clint glanced at Cho, before looking back at Pietro. "We handle everything as a family. But we also keep everything in the family." He didn't elaborate, assuming that the twins would be smart enough to figure out that, since a non-family member was listening in to their conversation, he wasn't going to go into detail. Even if he didn't mind being embarrassed himself, he figured they might thank him for it later; should they accept the offer he was thinking of making. Something in his gut told him that he shouldn't let them get away; that they needed a family and they needed guidance and if he didn't offer them that chance, something worse than what had already occurred might happen.
Pietro just nodded. He understood not discussing family things with those who weren't family. He and Wanda went quiet as the Quinjet continued on its way.
"We'll be there soon," Clint said quietly. "You'll see."
Kara bit her lip, fidgeting slightly. "I...I don't remember my past. I do remember some of the things Whitehall had me do, though...." she blurted, then blushed. "I mean...You might not want me loose in your safe house. Just in case...." Her voice took on a haunted tone.
Fury glanced sideways at Kara as she spoke. "Even if the brainwashing isn't completely broken, there are plenty of us around that, if it came to it, subduing you without harming you is something we can do. We've all had experience with brainwashing... even if it's just seeing the pain it causes someone we care about."
Kara relaxed noticeably at his words. "If you can stop me...then I'm grateful to be taken in by you...." she whispered, unable to look Fury in the eye, but wanting him to know she appreciated the help.
Fury released one hand so that he could place it on Kara's shoulder, squeezing gently. "I have a son who was in a very similar situation to you. He's on his way to healing. With support and help, I think you can be as well."
Kara was surprised how just one touch from the older man beside her helped calm her fear and uncertainty. She leaned toward him without thinking, letting out a tiny sigh. "I don't even know if I have any family who could support me and help me heal...." she said softly, "And if I do, what if they aren't able to handle me? Unless they are trained agents, I could hurt them before they could help me. I wouldn't want to risk it...."
"If you don't have an existing family... you can have one here with us," Fury said, gently squeezing Kara's shoulder. "And we can handle you. And take care of you. Everyone you'll see at the farmhouse is part of the family."
Kara gave Fury a tentative smile. "You'd offer me that? You don't even know all I've done yet...."
"It doesn't matter," Fury replied. "Everyone has a past... things they've done that they regret. And all of the family has received second chances."
Kara bit her lip again. "I guess...." It wasn't that she disbelieved him, but she couldn't help but feel that when her actions came to light, he'd change his mind. She'd said she didn't remember much if anything; but that wasn't entirely true. She remembered what she'd done under Whitehall's control. She hated herself for it.
Fury let his hand rest on Kara's shoulder a moment or two longer before he returned his full attention to flying the Quinjet back to the farmhouse.
Kara pulled her feet up onto the seat and curled her legs under herself, wrapping her arms around her knees. She'd found herself feeling oddly bereft when Fury had removed his hand, her shoulder suddenly cold where the warmth of his grip had been. She'd leaned in his direction without even thinking about it. Ever since Wanda had broken the hold that the brainwashing had held on her, she'd been uncertain and afraid; even if she managed to hide it. Fury had managed to calm her where nothing else had and she responded accordingly.
Clint sat quietly himself, thinking about everything he'd noticed while on the rescue mission- he would need to report it and he didn't want to leave any details out. They reached the farm sooner than he expected. He looked toward his uncle as he felt the jet begin its descent to land.
Loki glanced at Dr. Cho. "They will likely have a great deal of questions for you. Do you need medical attention before we debrief?"
Cho shook her head. "They didn't hurt me. They had no reason to. They had control of my mind." She winced, thinking about it.
Soon, the jet was landed and the door was opening up so they could disembark.
Fury stood, but he stayed close to Kara, placing a hand on her shoulder once more. "If you feel a bit overwhelmed at first... don't worry. If you need some space, let me know and we can move to the barn; or somewhere a bit more private."
Kara nodded at Fury, blinking her eyes at the kindness he was showing to her. The longer she'd sat on the plane, the more things she'd remembered doing for Whitehall. By the time the jet had landed, she was feeling pretty miserable about herself and her actions. She didn't know how she'd ever make up for everything she'd done while under that maniac's control.
Fury guided Kara off the jet, his hand still on her shoulder. He recognised how lost she was, knowing that Brock had experienced similar feelings.
Pietro stirred, but he and Wanda waited for the others to leave before they disembarked.
Clint stopped just outside the jet, next to Loki, but didn't move into the farmhouse right away. Instead, he waited for his uncle to exit so that he could follow the older man in.
Loki was quite content to stand next to Clint and wait. He was busy trying to formulate what he was going to say to Thor to explain his actions.
Cho stood between the twins and the two other agents. She was grateful to have been rescued...she never wanted to be under the control of another ever again and as soon as she'd given her information to the director, she had every intention of going back home to her family. If they allowed her to and if it was safe for her family that was.
Pietro followed the others off the jet, along with Wanda. He glanced at the farmhouse, wondering what they were going to be dealing with exactly. After all, they had attacked most of these people.
Aware of the jet landing, Steve and Coulson had left the farmhouse. Steve raised his eyebrows at the sight of the twins, but addressed Fury, Clint and Loki, after nodding to Cho. "Come inside and we can debrief."
Kara followed Fury meekly, too uncertain and unsettled to be brave.
Clint realized that the twins might feel uncomfortable...they had attacked a large portion of the family, after all... He moved to stand between them, one hand on each of their shoulders. "Come with me," he said softly. "As long as you're serious about leaving Ultron, my family loves to give second chances." He smiled at both of them, before gently guiding them into the house.
Loki followed silently, looking to see if his brother had returned.
Cho followed beside Loki.
Fury shifted his arm so that it rested around Kara's shoulders, trying to offer her some form of support, as he walked into the farmhouse with her.
Pietro glanced at Wanda, but seeing that his sister was choosing to lean into Clint, he didn't protest either and allowed Clint to lead them inside.
Steve and Coulson followed the others into the farmhouse, Coulson eyeing his oldest son with a slightly knowing smile on his face.
Tony came to meet Fury at the door, giving Kara a quick glance before looking back at Fury. He managed to keep his face neutral, even if he did find it amusing that Fury seemed well on his way to adopting another kid, if the protective way he was guiding her was any indication. Stepping back to let Fury and Kara pass, Tony was less able to hide his expression upon seeing Clint with Wanda and Pietro. His eyebrows shot up into his hairline and his grin stretched from ear to ear. "Congrats, cuz!" He slapped Clint on the back heartily, sending the archer forward several inches before he could stop his momentum.
Clint looked at Tony like he'd lost his mind. "What the hell, Tony?!"
Tony had moved to Loki and Cho by this point though. "Doctor...." he said seriously. "I'm sorry that my actions caused you so much difficulty. As soon as you've told us everything you can, though, I'm fully prepared to take you to a safe place... with your family." He glanced at Steve for confirmation of his words, although he was fairly certain that his father wouldn't disagree. "Everyone is waiting in the living room..." He turned back toward Fury.
Fury nodded to Tony and guided Kara into the main room, where everyone else was scattered in chairs and on the floor. After only a brief pause, he brought her over to where his sons were.
Pietro directed a confused look between Clint and Tony. "I'm missing something," he said after a moment.
Steve nodded, smiling at Cho and resting his hand on Tony's shoulder. "We'll make sure to get you back with the rest of your family," he promised.
Brock glanced at Trip and, almost as if of one mind, they each moved to the side of the couch they were sitting on, leaving the space in the middle for their father. It would be a tight squeeze to fit Kara in there as well; if she didn't end up on their father's lap. They figured Fury wouldn't mind being so close, though- and if the way the younger girl was shifting so that she stood closer to him was any indication, Kara wouldn't mind it either.
Clint watched his cousin, a confused and frustrated look on his face. "I think I must be too...." he said to Pietro, as he tried to figure out just what Tony was up to. Without even thinking about it, he shifted his hands on both twin's shoulders so that he had his arms wrapped around both of them, instead of just having a light grip on them. He led them over to another chair, where he indicated Wanda should sit, before he indicated Pietro could sit on the arm of the chair. He then stood behind the chair, placing his hands back on both of their shoulders in a show of support.
Tony stared at Clint, a goofy grin on his face, until Pepper elbowed him in the stomach. "Tony...Stop staring!" she admonished. He was too busy trying to catch his breath again to answer her. He did stop staring, though.
Cho, not certain exactly who was going to lead out in the debrief stayed next to Steve, ready to answer any questions that came her way.
Fury sat down, settling Kara so she was close to him... almost sitting on his lap. If he was certain she would accept it, he would have settled her onto his lap... but he didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable.
Wanda and Pietro didn't fight the directions, or Clint's hands resting on their shoulders. Both sat quietly, Wanda leaning a little against her brother.
Steve asked Cho to explain what had happened and listened to the explanation, the twins dipping into the explanation when it was necessary.
Kara felt relieved that she wasn't being separated from Fury just yet...even though she felt quite a bit childish needing the man so much, the fact that he was willing to stay beside her was a comfort and helped ease her uncertainty and nervousness. Even though they were already fairly close, she found herself wiggling just that tiny bit closer so that she was sort of hidden against and slightly behind him. She didn't have that many questions to answer; Wanda had said why she was with the group and unless they wanted an in depth description of what she'd done for Whitehall, there wasn't much she could tell them.
By the time Cho had finished her explanations, Tony was already dancing in place. "You marked the truck, Hawk?" he asked Clint. "We can go after the body...prevent Ultron from using it. And maybe... maybe put what remains of JARVIS inside it so that there's no way Ultron can ever use it."
"Put what remains of JARVIS?" Clint looked at his cousin in confusion.
Bruce answered this time, a slight smile on his face. "Turns out JARVIS wasn't quite as 'dead' as we thought. He was hiding behind the scenes, thwarting Ultron every chance he got. If it hadn't been for JARVIS, Ultron would have likely succeeded in whatever his plan is by now."
Fury kept his arm wrapped around Kara's shoulders, gently rubbing her arm. He was silent during the explanations, but from the glance Coulson directed towards him, he was certain that Coulson knew that Clint and Loki had disobeyed a direct order. "I'm glad to hear that JARVIS is still alive," he commented.
"If there's nothing else you can think of, we can arrange to get you and your family to a safe place," Steve said to Cho.
Kara slowly relaxed as she realized Fury wasn't going to just leave her while she felt vulnerable. She wasn't sure why...maybe she had known him before... But she felt as if she could trust him completely.
Cho gave Steve a grateful look. "That is all I can think of at the moment. But I will do my best to help...if you leave me and my family somewhere that I can reach you, if I think of anything further, I will contact you."
Clint gently squeezed the shoulders of both Pietro and Wanda. He knew his father suspected something about the mission. He wasn't sure if he'd do anything or leave it to his uncle. He also wasn't certain if the questions for the twins were over. He didn't want to leave their side, though, until he could be positive that they felt safe enough that they wouldn't run.
Loki glanced between Fury, Coulson and Clint. Until Thor came back, his own actions would remain hanging over his head. He envied Clint.
Steve nodded. "I'll take you to pick up your family." He looked at Tony, knowing his son might want to stick close to him. "Do you want to come with me?"
"Yes! And Pepper does too...." Tony glanced at Pepper, who nodded her head quickly.
Although certain that his son had disobeyed Fury, and really needed his actions addressed, Coulson could see that Clint was reluctant to leave the twins. At the same time, waiting to deal with something would just make his oldest feel worse. Standing, Coulson moved over to Clint, smiling at the twins. "Clint, I know you need to talk to your uncle... why don't the rest of us show Wanda and Pietro around the farmhouse and barn?"
Clint glanced at Pietro and Wanda, to make certain they were ok with that. Not seeing any signs of disagreement, he nodded. "Ok dad. You're right."
Loki cleared his throat faintly. "Do you need to speak with me as well?"
Trip, having a feeling that Kara was not emotionally ready to deal with the way their family handled disobedience in regards to safety, rubbed her back gently. "You can come with Brock and me until dad is done with his discussion. Ok?"
Kara gave a hesitant nod, finally letting go of Fury...but latching onto Trip nearly as quick.
Fury rubbed Kara's shoulder gently as he stood up. "The discussion won't take long," he promised. He made eye contact with Clint and motioned for his nephew to join him, before stepping over to Loki. "I know your brother isn't here to deal with what happened," he said quietly. "If you'd rather not wait until he gets back, then I can handle it."
Coulson smiled at Wanda and Pietro. "Why don't you come and meet the rest of my children?"
"Ah... he is your son." Pietro said it more like a statement than a question.
Wanda looked slightly hesitant, but when Pietro stood and seemed willing to go with Coulson, she did as well, leaning gently against her brother.
Coulson smiled reassuringly at Wanda and then stepped over to join his other three children, making sure the twins were following.
Kara gave Fury a tentative smile as he stood and moved away from her, then moved so she was hiding under Trips arm. She hadn't really said much about herself this first meeting...Ultron was a bigger fish to fry...but once he was gone? She hoped their friendliness and willingness to help didn't stop.
Trip nodded at his father, then left the room to follow Coulson on the 'tour', keeping Kara close.
Grant smiled as his father brought the twins over, tugging Bobbi over to stand beside him so that she could meet them as well. His baby sister's focus was on Kara, though. "I know her...." she said softly. "We hung out a few times before HYDRA made its move."
Coulson reached his children in time to hear Bobbi's comment. He reached out and placed a hand gently on his youngest's shoulder, squeezing lightly. "She may not remember you, but she'll need all the friendly faces she can get." He moved to gesture the twins closer to them, suspecting strongly that he was looking at two new additions to their family.
Spending the night with her father had gone a long way towards helping Natasha heal and she smiled at the twins, recognizing them as allies and two people who were important to her big brother. "Hi. I'm Natasha."
Bobbi nodded, leaning toward her dad as she always did when he showed her affection. Turning to face the twins, she smiled at them. "Hi. I'm Bobbi...."
Grant slanted his head and grinned. He'd seen the way Clint had been acting toward the twins. Even if his brother didn't realize it, he'd obviously taken a protective, guardian role toward them. Possibly more. He glanced at his father, then straightened up and held out his hand toward Pietro, while giving both Wanda and Pietro a big smile. "I'm Grant."
Pietro still had one arm wrapped around Wanda's shoulders, but he shook Grant's hand with his other one. "Pietro. And Wanda. But you already knew that."
"And I'm Phil." Coulson smiled warmly at the twins, noticing the way Wanda stayed close to her brother. From what he knew of the twins' abilities, it wouldn't surprise him if Wanda had been treated differently due to what she could do.
At least here, they could coax her out a bit more.
Grant's smile widened. "What things do you like to do for fun? You like cards?" Maybe they could get a game of Spades or Poker going later with a few other family members. There was nothing like a game of cards and relaxing to enable a conversation to start...he'd like to get to know the twins better. Especially after seeing how his brother reacted with them.
Pietro looked interested. "I like cards."
"I... don't play." But the slightly wistful look on Wanda's face indicated that lack wasn't entirely her own choice. People didn't like playing games with someone they knew could manipulate their minds... even if Wanda only used her abilities when she felt like she had to.
Grant caught the wistful tone, but didn't draw attention to it. "Well, in that case, let's get a game going. And if you don't mind... you can be my partner for the first few hands, until you get used to the rules...." He smiled at Wanda.
Wanda nodded, giving a hesitant smile back. "Okay," she said softly.
"We could play in the barn," Coulson suggested, aware of what was happening with Fury, Clint and Loki.
Grant nodded. "Let's.... there's enough room in there that everyone else could come and join in too- maybe get more than one game going." He glanced toward where the remainder of the family who hadn't gone with Steve were.
Bobbi also nodded eagerly, not wanting to be able to hear her big brother or cousin punished...and if the look on Fury's face as they'd gone upstairs was any indication, they were both in trouble.
Coulson smiled at the rest of the family, who all seemed like they wanted to join in, and then addressed the twins. "The barn is this way." He began heading out of the house, talking Pietro and Wanda through where everything was as he did.
Loki gave Fury a grateful look. "I would prefer to not have to wait...thank you." It was easy to fall into line behind Fury and follow where he led. He wondered if maybe it was too easy. He was a prince; and yet this was the second time, since beginning life on Midgard, he was submitting to a mortal for correction and guidance....like a child. He supposed if his relative age in Asgard was changed to the equivalent Midgardian age... He frowned. "In your years...I would be somewhere between fifteen or sixteen, I believe. So..." He didn't finish his thought...that it really wasn't beneath him or unseemly to submit to or obey the leadership of the family he'd been adopted into. Perhaps it was more beneath him or unseemly not to obey. He would need to ask Thor...but he couldn't help the confused but curious glance he darted at Fury.
Fury started up the stairs, knowing that Loki was following him and expecting Clint to do the same. When his other nephew spoke, he glanced at him. "You're wondering if you should be so willing to submit to the correction of someone other than your brother?"
Clint didn't hesitate to follow his uncle up the stairs. He had a feeling this conversation wasn't going to be comfortable, so he hoped that everyone else left the house for a bit. Or at least that his father managed to get the twins out of the house for a bit before the conversation started. Just because everyone knew what occurred didn't mean he actually wanted them hearing it.
He glanced back at Loki sympathetically. He'd been disciplined by his uncle before...his father and uncle were best friends and he'd spent nearly as much time in Fury's company as his father's; especially when his father had no choice but to go on a mission. It had been inevitable that Clint would fall under his uncle's care occasionally- and given his penchant for pushing to see how far he was allowed to go; well, he didn't always stop when common sense would have dictated. Loki, though- as far as Clint knew, the only individual to ever take care of Loki was Thor (although he suspected his father had held a conversation with Loki at least once). It couldn't be easy to submit to someone else, even if they were family.
Loki actually blushed and gave Fury an embarrassed smile. "Something like that...more that...I am wondering if perhaps I should have submitted long before now. You are one of the heads of this family. I have yet to truly acknowledge that, though I believe it to be true...." he admitted softly. "Before..." he waved a hand aimlessly, "...I would not have even submitted to Thor. I was too proud. I was too old. I was too smart. And now I cannot imagine him not being in charge of me...so much so that now that he is not here and I have done something I know to be wrong, I feel unsettled. Not too proud...not too smart...and as I mentioned, comparatively, my age in Asgardian life-span would have me being a teenager in your life-span. So not too old either." He winced. "I... I think I should not only submit to your correction, but I need to. It was you I disobeyed and...and I owe you my obedience just as much as I owe it to Thor." Loki couldn't face Fury by this point. He wasn't sure if he'd said too little to explain (he was truly confused at what he was feeling right now), or if he'd said too much.
Fury headed into the main bedroom, knowing his way around the house Coulson had stayed in with both Clint and Natasha. He spoke as the two others joined him. "Since your brother brought you back, you have become a part of the family," he said to Loki. "An important and valued part of it. If there comes a time when someone other than your brother takes you in hand, it's due to care and concern for an important family member."
Loki swallowed, looking up into Fury's face again. "Yes, sir. I...thank you...." Loki's smile was crooked and almost shy. This was the second time someone other than Thor was making an effort to show him that he was important to the whole family and that they would take care of him if needed. Any reservations he might have had about his easy acceptance of discipline from someone other than his brother evaporated with that realization.
Clint snorted. "Try thanking him after he's done showing you the error of your ways..." He grinned.
Fury stepped over to the bed and took a seat, indicating that his nephews should sit on either side of him. "I'm not sure there's any point in asking either of you what you were thinking. I'm sure I have a fairly good idea."
Clint easily sat down on one side of his uncle, noting that Loki didn't hesitate to sit on the other side. "If you're thinking that I wasn't thinking... beyond the whole 'we gotta put a tracker on him so we can find him again later' bit.... you'd be right."
Loki winced at Clint's words, thinking that perhaps the archer could avoid being such a smart ass when their butts were on the line. "I...I admit I was not thinking about everything I should have been...."
Fury gave Clint a slightly exasperated look. "I noticed you told Pietro not to do exactly the same thing you did."
"Uh..." Clint ran a hand through his hair nervously, a sheepish look on his face. "Well...I know 'do as I say, not as I do' isn't going to fly with anyone and I already admitted I was wrong to him. And...I do know I was wrong." He sighed, looking down toward his feet. "I don't have an excuse, Uncle Nick...I don't even have a good reason. I just acted first and thought later. I'm sorry."
Fury nodded. "I know you are, but you can't disregard your safety like you did... either of you," he added, including Loki in that. "I don't think we need to discuss this in any further detail, so one of you should wait in the other room."
"Yes sir." Loki quickly stood and walked to the door, glancing back once before heading to the other room as ordered.
Clint swallowed hard then looked up at his uncle. "You'd think I'd know better by now..." He sighed forlornly as he stood and undid the button on his jeans, pushing them down to his knees. He then waited for his uncle to direct him.
"I imagine it's not always easy to remember what the right thing to do is." Fury took hold of Clint's wrist and drew his nephew over his lap, securing Clint with an arm wrapped around his waist before tugging Clint's underwear down.
Clint couldn't help but whimper. It wasn't that he hadn't been in this position often enough...it had just been a very long time since it had been his uncle to take him in hand. He didn't know why; he couldn't even figure out for himself why there was a difference and he was glad he wasn't being asked to explain to anyone else because he couldn't, but it just felt different having his uncle take him in hand instead of his father. His father was familiar and while his father would not have gone easy on him in this situation, it still might have been easier. Or maybe it was the fact that if it was his father spanking him, he could pretend it was only his father upset with him.... with his uncle disciplining him, he couldn't pretend that his uncle wasn't upset with him; and his father would still be upset with his actions, even if Uncle Nick was handling it, so that was two people upset with him. "I'm sorry..." he finally said, in a tiny, contrite voice.
"I know you are." Fury's voice was calm, but still serious. "You put yourself at risk today and that is not acceptable. You are far too important to risk your safety like you did... and I know you know better." Lifting his hand, he brought it down in a firm swat at the crest of Clint's backside then repeated the swat.
Clint quickly reached down and grasped his uncle's ankle, using his other hand to brace himself on the floor. "Ow..." he whispered, mostly to himself. He knew he deserved this. His uncle was right. He did know better. If he hadn't known better, he wouldn't have warned Pietro against doing exactly what he had done.
Fury tugged Clint tighter against his stomach as he settled into a rhythm of swats, covering every inch of his nephew's backside down to his thighs. He then started over from the top, speaking as he did so. "You can't put yourself in danger. Losing you would be a devastating blow to all of us... especially since you seem about to take on the responsibility for those twins."
Clint had thought he would be able to make it through the correction without bawling like a baby...even if he still cried. But his uncle's words cut through what little resistance he had up (and there wasn't much to begin with...he'd long ago learned to submit and accept when he was wrong). Thinking about what his family would go through if he died was hard and immediately, tears of remorse slid down his face. Thinking about the twins pushed him over the edge.
His uncle was right. If he was serious about taking them under his protection and care...he had to make sure he came home to them...not take unnecessary chances that would leave them alone (even if he knew the entire family would step up and be there for them.) And did he really want Pietro or Wanda to do what he'd done? Of course he didn't. Letting out a tiny sob, he went limp over his uncle’s knee. "You're right...I know you are...I wouldn't accept what I did from anyone I was responsible for...I should never have done it to you....I'm sorry, Uncle Nick....really truly...."
Fury landed two more swats and then stopped, bringing his nephew up and into his arms, holding him tight. "I'm glad you're safe, Clint. I don't want to lose you. None of us want to lose you."
Clint didn't waste any time wrapping his own arms around his uncle and hiding his face against Fury's shoulder. "I'm sorry, sir...I really am. What I did was unfair to you...and wrong...and I want to do better. I have to do better...." He left unsaid that he now had two 'kids' who were watching closely and he wanted to be a good example.
Fury hugged his nephew close. "I care about you the same way as everyone else here does," he said. "I'm not concerned with you disobeying my orders so much as you putting yourself in danger to do so." After all, there were times when disobedience was the right thing to do.
"I know, sir..." Clint sniffled and hugged more tightly. "I just...I wanted you to know I know I was wrong...and I'm sorry...because I love you and don't want you to think I don't respect you or anything like that..." He sniffled again, his tone sheepish.
"I know you do and I do love you as well," Fury said. "I'll be happier if you're more mindful of your own safety in the future. Especially now."
"Yes, sir..." Clint readily agreed. He'd never thought about the fact that his father was always so careful not to do risky things unless they were absolutely necessary; none of the authorities in his life took unnecessary risks. He thought he understood it now, though. He needed to be the same way...especially if he had two people depending on him. Hugging Fury tightly one last time, Clint stood and fixed his clothing. He looked his uncle in the eye and all but promised, "I'll do better, sir."
Fury placed a hand on Clint's shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. "I know you will," he said simply. "Being responsible for someone else can be very rewarding... but when you make that decision, it's a big commitment."
Clint nodded brusquely. "Assuming they will want me to take responsibility for them..." His grin was uncertain, but hopeful. "Thank you, Uncle Nick....I do love you...and I'm lucky to have you taking responsibility for me." He hugged the older man one last time before stepping back. "Should I send in Loki?"
Fury nodded. "Yes please." He then added, "Wanda, at least, seemed to respond well to you. And if she trusts you, I think her brother will follow suit."
Clint gave his uncle a thankful smile before leaving the room.
Indistinct murmuring could be heard and then a minute later, Loki was stepping hesitantly into the room, his gaze going straight to Fury. Taking a deep breath, the younger Asgardian walked to Fury's side, then stood there...not sure if Fury wanted to scold him a bit first, or get straight to correcting him.
Fury gave Loki an encouraging smile. "I think we both would like to get this over with." He reached out, keeping his movements slow and not sudden, to grasp the Asgardian's wrist, drawing Loki forward over his lap and securing his second nephew with an arm wrapped around his waist... just like he had done with Clint.
Relaxing slightly once he was in the regrettably familiar position, Loki reached down and grasped his... uncle's? …leg. He put his other hand on the ground to brace himself. "Thank you..." His voice was hesitant. "...For not making me wait...for being willing to take care of me...." Loki had felt accepted by the family for some time now...but he was still uncertain of his position in it.
Fury rubbed Loki's back gently. "You are a part of this family, Loki. Putting yourself in danger is not acceptable. None of us want to lose you." He tugged Loki's pants and underwear down.
Loki closed his eyes tightly at the words. He knew what Fury was saying in his head; it was just hard sometimes to accept emotionally. He never said it to Thor- he didn't want to worry his brother- but he still often thought of himself as a monster. Finding out he was Jotun...after years of believing the frost giants to be savages and below animals... it was hard for him to feel that he was worth anything. But then Thor would do something that would remind him he was loved by his brother. Or one of Thor's adopted family would say or do something that would show they included him among their group and the feelings of unworthiness would ease for a bit. This, though? You didn't correct someone and try to protect them if you didn't care. To his shame, Loki found himself crying... and he hadn't even received one smack yet! "I...I understand..." he choked out, hoping that Fury wouldn't hear the tears in his voice, but knowing the chance was very slim. Especially since he didn't truly understand...not completely.
"Do you?" Fury asked. "You put yourself in a huge amount of danger and that is not all right. You are part of this family. You are important... not just to your brother, but to all of us here. Not because of what you do, but because of who you are. Because we care about what happens to you." Tightening his grip on Loki, he brought his hand down in the first sharp swat.
Loki couldn't help the gasp that escaped at the first swat...he'd been listening so closely to Fury's words, trying to hear through the other man's tone if he could believe the words...that he hadn't been ready for the swat to land. And it hurt! On top of that, Fury had asked a question, but Loki wasn't sure if it was rhetorical or not. Was he supposed to answer? And if he did answer; well, he didn't want to lie, but saying he wasn't certain of his place seemed a bit churlish and unfair when the whole family had done nothing but accept him. The hang-ups he was having were because of his own insecurities, not because of anything they did. "I...I think I do?" he finally said, his tone more a question than a statement.
Fury continued swatting, settling into a rhythm, working his way over Loki's entire backside, down to his thighs. "I wasn't just worried about Clint, Loki. You scared me. All I could think was that something might happen to either one of you. You might as well be my nephew too. I certainly care about you that much."
Loki twisted slightly in an attempt to see Fury's face and blinked his eyes, frustrated that tears were blinding him and making it impossible for him to see his uncle's face. "But why?" he finally asked, his confusion clear. "I...I know you all have accepted me... but I didn't think...didn't think I would matter to you like that..." he finally admitted.
Fury met Loki's gaze, his own carrying nothing but sincerity. "You do," he said. "Not just to me, either. Any of the others would tell you the exact same thing. And you must believe that of Coulson."
Swallowing, Loki shifted back into position, slumping slightly. "I...I knew Coulson cared...after he...he took care of me a few weeks ago...." he admitted, blushing slightly. "I...I think it would be a lot easier on my backside if I just take your word for it and believe that I am cared about, than to have every single member of the family have to spank me before I believe it..." His tone was chagrined and embarrassed, but also relieved and accepting.
"Believing it takes time." Fury's tone was calm, but still serious. "But none of us are going anywhere," he promised. "And you won't stop being a part of the family."
"I... I'm sorry I worried you... scared you. I never meant to. I know better than to... to take chances that aren't necessary. I know better, I just didn't stop to think..." he admitted brokenly. "I really didn't think it would matter..." Going limp over Fury's knee, Loki just cried quietly, even though it was still audible to Fury. "I'm sorry..." he said, in a very contrite voice.
Fury stopped and, with as little hesitation as he'd shown with Clint, gathered Loki into his arms, hugging the Asgardian close. "It does matter," he said firmly. "You matter."
Loki hesitated for a brief moment, but then wrapped his arms around Fury and held on tight, putting his head on Fury's shoulder. Shuddering slightly, he swallowed. He wasn't good at allowing himself to be vulnerable; but he felt very vulnerable and needy right now. In an effort to not be so embarrassed at his neediness, he teased gently, "Does this mean I can call you Uncle Nick now?"
Fury tightened his own embrace around Loki, one hand rubbing gently over the other's hair and back. "You're welcome to call me that," he commented.
Loki sniffed once, managing to regain control over his emotions, even though he still felt very needy and vulnerable. Swallowing, he pulled back just enough to look at Fury. "Thank you...." he said quietly, before wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. Carefully standing, he fixed his clothing, then smiled crookedly at Fury. "I guess we should go and let everyone know it is safe to return to the house if they wish...." Biting his lip, Loki slanted his head. "Do you wish to tell Thor what occurred, or do you believe I should do so?" There was never a question in Loki's mind that Thor should be told.
Fury stood up as well, placing a hand on Loki's shoulder. "I think it would be better if you told him." That was the way he'd handled things with Clint when it had become necessary to deal with him, after all.
"I will do so when he returns, then," Loki said firmly. "I hope he is not too disappointed in me...." Shifting closer to Fury, he began to walk toward the door with the other man. "The young woman that we brought back with us.... Kara? She seems to have formed an attachment to you very quickly. Did you know her from before?" he asked hesitantly, not sure if he was asking something too personal or not. It was hard sometimes to know where the lines were and if he was crossing them.
Fury nodded. "I knew her before she was brainwashed... in the same way I knew Brock. And like Brock, I care about her and I'd like to help her heal... and provide her with a family."
Loki nodded, slowly making his way downstairs. "If anyone can help her, I'm certain you will find a way to do so." He slanted his head. "I'll follow you...." He gave an impish grin. Clint was nowhere to be seen, so he assumed the archer had already gone to the barn.
Bucky wasn't certain what to make of the situation. Tony had managed to get a lock on the tracking device that Clint had planted... he and the rest of the Avengers had gone after the body and managed to retrieve it. Then Tony, acting on impulse and without any warning to anyone else, decided to download the remains of JARVIS into the body. And yeah, perhaps it had been discussed as an option... but his nephew was supposed to have waited until everyone was in place and ready, in case something went wrong. Thor's arrival had complicated things even further. Apparently, he'd had a vision-which wasn't clear to anyone- not that he'd actually tried to explain it. The electricity he'd pumped into the body had been the last needed element, though. The remains of JARVIS blended seamlessly into the body, along with the electricity... and a new AI was born. Not JARVIS, though. He was called Vision.
Bucky frowned. Things were going entirely too fast. No one had even a small chance to adjust (or react to them other than a few stern words) to Tony's actions...the birth of a new team mate... anything, really. Next thing they knew, Ultron's location was discovered and the Avengers were on their way to thwart the villain... leaving the SHIELD agents and rest of the family who usually helped, but didn't have an official capacity, to follow Fury to the helicarrier that Bucky was quite honestly surprised was still in existence. And they all waited, watching nervously while their family... the Avengers... fought a foe who wanted to exterminate humanity.
Pietro had left Wanda in the church to stop Ultron's creations from getting past her. Ignoring his own exhaustion, he sped through the robots, knocking them to the ground.
And then he saw it.
Pietro was impulsive. He knew that. Wanda managed to curb those reckless impulses fairly well, but she wasn't there. Clint was. And Pietro could see that Ultron was firing, the bullets coming dangerously close to Clint... who obviously saw it, because he turned to shield the child in his arms.
There was no conscious thought, only the knowledge that Wanda (and himself, if he was honest) had grown close to Clint in the short time they'd known him. The two of them had lost so much already... and Pietro didn't want his twin to lose the first person outside of himself who had seen her as a person... not as a freak of nature; to be allied with, perhaps, but never trusted.
Pietro zoomed ahead of the bullets, grabbing for Clint and the child.
Hulk had seen the robots heading toward his Hawk and the young one...aiming their guns. And he couldn't allow that. Bounding quickly in their direction, he threw himself over Clint, the child and the blur that had entered the space near Hawk seconds before Hulk could cover them. It was the new man child that Hawk felt protective of and therefore one that Hulk would protect.
Clint knew when he saw the robots bearing down on him that he wasn't going to be able to get away; not without abandoning the child. He had so much to live for and knew staying would be his death, but he couldn't leave the child. He only hoped his family understood.
And then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Pietro. And knew before the boy became a blur what he was going to do. "No!" he began to shout...and then he was being crushed.
Pietro couldn't run, because he suddenly found himself pinned by a huge, solid object that he recognized as the Hulk. The sound of the battle was muted, though Pietro was fairly certain that the Hulk was taking the full force of the attack.
Steve saw the Hulk taking the full force of the robots' attack and he went after them, even as he directed the other family members towards the ship he could see carrying one of the Ultron robots.
Bucky saw Steve and spoke through the coms. "We've evacuated everyone except you, Clint, Wanda, Pietro and the kid...Tony's ready to blow this thing before it goes any higher and is a risk for the rest of the world. Can you get them all to this evacuation vehicle?"
Steve continued breaking the robots apart. "Wanda's still at the church. Loki, can you teleport in and grab her?" He would have sent Pietro, but since the kid had already acted recklessly once, he didn't think Clint would want him out of his sight.
"Got it," Loki answered quickly. Focusing on where he felt her location to be, Loki first sent a clone to make certain he wouldn't walk into a trap, then quickly teleported in, grabbing Wanda and teleporting out and directly to the helicarrier. "Got her and we're safe. Is that all?"
Clint hadn't heard any gunfire for a while. "We're ok, big guy. We gotta get to the evacuation ship." He heard Hulk grunt and then he, the child and Pietro were all being picked up and carried to the ship. "Uh, thanks, big guy..." Clint patted Hulk on the arm and smiled at him, before turning his gaze onto Pietro. "You and I? We're gonna be having a little talk." His voice was stern, his unhappiness with the younger man's actions clear.
Steve headed quickly onto the helicarrier, even as he addressed Loki through the coms. "One of the robots is flying a ship away. Think you can teleport there with Wanda, take him out then get back to the helicarrier?"
"I can take out one more," Wanda said, listening to Steve's instructions. She'd used a lot of energy, but she was aware of her limits and knew that she could focus at least once more before she'd need to rest. She hesitated. "What about Pietro?" She knew her twin wasn't seriously injured... they were bonded so tightly together, she knew she'd feel it if anything had happened to him.
"...I could have done it..." Pietro's voice wasn't quite as confident as he'd planned. Hearing his sister's voice, he spoke into the com, avoiding eye contact with Clint. "I'm safe."
"I've got enough in me for a couple more trips." Loki's grin was wolfish. It wasn't often that he needed to be used as much as he had been lately and his adrenaline was high. Having only seen the one robot get onto the plane and realizing they didn't have much time, Loki trusted that if there were other problems, he'd be told. Taking hold of Wanda, he immediately teleported into the ship without sending a clone first. He didn't want to warn the robot they were coming, after all.
"Guys...I'm fast running out of time where this thing won't still cause major damage to the earth no matter what we do...." Tony said, his voice worried. "Please tell me everyone is off this rock and safe so I can blow this thing."
Clint looked at Pietro, flabbergasted...and wondered if this was how his own father felt every time he or one of his siblings got it into their head to do one of their dangerous but 'bright ideas'. "Uh... no. No, you couldn't have. Did you not see how we were surrounded on all sides? The only reason we're still here is because Hulk is big and nigh unto indestructible and he covered us!" He barely managed to keep his voice calm, hints of frustration slipping out; pointing out yet another trick of his father's that Clint needed to learn. "You know. You're making me want to apologize to my dad and I haven't even done anything wrong this time!" His voice was amused this time...even if he was still a bit frustrated.
Wanda wasted no time in taking apart the final robot. Using her abilities this much was something of a strain... but it was necessary and since she still felt responsible for all of this, being tired for a while was a small price to pay.
"Everyone's off," Steve said, trusting that Loki would let him know when he and Wanda were safely back on board.
Pietro tapped his fingers against the com, frustration showing on his own face. "There was no way I could just stand by and let you get shot."
Loki waited until he was sure that Wanda had not only destroyed the last robot, but that it was no longer on the ship. He glanced around. "You know...if I just pop off this thing with Wanda, there will be no one to control it and it will careen into who knows what...." he said. "I think I can steer it, at least long enough for Tony to do what he needs to do and then get his butt here to steer the craft to safety. If that is acceptable? Unless someone else who knows how to fly this thing can somehow get over here with us?"
"You're sounding more and more like us every day, cuz! And yeah. As soon as I blow this thing... I'll fly your direction and get the stealth craft...." Tony said.
Clint stiffened, biting back the words he wanted to yell at the younger man. Yelling wouldn't solve anything and it wasn't like he wasn't sympathetic to the boy's point of view. He was. He just also knew that what Pietro had done was basically suicide...and while sometimes, a decision like that might need to be made, this hadn't been one of those times. Swallowing, he managed to say, very calmly, "We'll talk about this later. Once we're sure everyone is safe, not hurt and back home with the family where they need to be...." Putting a hand on Pietro's shoulder, he squeezed gently and gave the younger man a tiny smile. Then, he began searching for his father. He needed advice- and quickly.
"Do you want me to act as co-pilot?" Wanda asked Loki. It wasn't as if she knew that much about flying... but she could control it enough to keep it from crashing.
Coulson had been moving around the people they'd evacuated, checking if anyone needed medical attention or needed to find friends or family members. He was calm and reassuring as he spoke with them, making a note of any details he needed to.
Loki glanced at the 'witch' and grinned. "That would be helpful, yes. Between the two of us, we should be able to prevent this craft from crashing and killing us and anyone else who it might collide with...."
Tony grunted. "Are you all clear? Is it safe to blow this thing? I literally only have a minute before it will be too late...."
Clint spotted his father helping people. Looking back at Pietro and realizing that the younger man needed to help, to feel useful, Clint glanced around them at the dazed and confused people. "Pietro... I need you to get all these people to line up. Start taking down their personal information. Ask them to list family members that they either need to contact or who should be among the refugees, so that we can reunite them as quickly as possible. Make sure that none of them have any injuries that need to be seen to... and also that none of them have medical conditions that might cause problems later if they don't receive proper medication, meals...what have you." He handed the younger man a tablet to enter the information into. "And keep your com, in. As soon as we get your sister back, I'm sure you're going to want to see each other." He smiled, squeezing Pietro's shoulder again, then began to walk toward his father; his steps determined, even if the look on his face was slightly frazzled.
Wanda nodded, her eyes gleaming red as she worked on making sure the craft stayed on course and didn't crash into anything.
"Everyone's accounted for, son," Steve said, addressing Tony over the coms. "Go ahead."
Pietro nodded, taking the tablet and beginning to move through the people. For a few moments, his eyes kept tracking towards Clint, a hint of confusion on his own face. He wasn't sure what the later talk was going to entail... but very much like Wanda had quickly attached herself, to Clint and the rest of the group, Pietro had found himself doing the same.
Coulson finished entering information from one of the people and straightened in time to spot Clint coming towards him. He stepped over to his oldest, reaching out to gently squeeze his shoulder. "Are you all right?" he asked gently.
"And we're off!" Tony whooped as he sent a stream of repulsor energy into the core of Ultron's doomsday device. It soon blew apart, starting a chain reaction of explosions through the 'city asteroid', sending chunks of earth, concrete and other debris toward the earth. It might cause a few problems in the immediate area, but at least it wouldn't knock the earth off its axis and bring with it world-wide destruction and extinction. "And..." Tony yelped as he had to dodge a particularly fast piece of debris, "...Coming your way, Lok's." In a quieter voice that obviously wasn't meant to be heard... "Sheesh...I feel like I'm playing Frogger...."
Without a word, Clint tugged his father in closer, kissing his cheek then wrapping his arms around him in a tight hug. "I'm sorry. I never knew before how awful my recklessness might make you feel...and I'm so sorry. Dad....I don't know what I'm doing...." His voice caught and he had to take a deep breath before his nerves took over. What he felt for Wanda and Pietro... he'd never expected to feel that way about anyone. He was positive he was going to mess something up.
Wanda kept the ship away from any obstacles, though her face was beginning to show signs of strain. She'd exerted herself a lot already... but she was determined to see this through to the end.
"Be careful, Tony..." Steve's worried voice came over the coms.
Coulson immediately wrapped his arms around Clint in a hug that was just as tight, kissing the top of his head. "There's no manual telling you how to deal with taking on the responsibility for someone else, son," he said gently. "Sometimes all you can do is follow your instincts and hope you're making the right choice." He kissed his son's head again. "Caring is one of the most important things... and you've got that, no problem."
Loki did his best to steer clear of all obstacles as well, trying to make it so Wanda didn't have to exert herself any further than necessary. He hoped Tony made it to them quickly, though. The younger woman was looking worn...Loki could understand. Teleporting the distances he had, as often as he had, had been wearing on him...and he was used to this type of stress. He didn't think the girl was.
Tony flew as fast as he could; he'd eventually given up dodging the debris and just started blasting it out of his way. Finally, he'd reached the aircraft. "Coming in, guys- steady....steeeady... And I'm here!" Tony began to quickly move toward the cockpit, his armor removing itself as he walked. "Scootch over, Reindeer Games..." He grinned at Loki, quickly taking the controls and deftly beginning to pilot them through what little debris was still falling near them and steer the craft toward the hellicarrier. "You can stop with the mojo, sweetie. Get some rest." He nodded at Wanda. "I'm bringing us home, dad...."
Clint sighed softly. "Yeah...ok. You really think I can do this?" He didn't know why he was asking...it wasn't as if he was going to change his mind now. His heart was already too invested. But if his father believed in him, he thought he'd be able to handle the nerves. Then he heard Tony's comment and cut into the conversation. "Tony? Loki? Is Wanda alright?"
Loki chuckled. "Yes, Wanda looks fine- if a little tired. Tony and I are fine as well, thank you for asking."
It was with some relief that Wanda relinquished control of the ship and slumped wearily back into the seat. She half-closed her eyes, but didn't fall asleep. True rest wouldn't come until she'd satisfied herself that everyone else was safe. "I'm fine..." she breathed out, responding to Clint's question almost automatically.
Coulson tightened his embrace around his oldest. "I think it was obvious how much you care about them when you brought them to the farmhouse. And they've both responded to that." He smiled. "And I'm quite happy to be a Grandpa."
Clint hugged his father back just as tightly, before carefully stepping back and looking toward where the stealth-craft was getting ready to land. "I'm going to go get Pietro... take him to his sister," he said softly, before looking back at his father. “Thanks dad. I love you!" Throwing his arms around Coulson in one more, quick, tight hug, Clint was already moving back toward the boy he had already begun considering his son. "Pietro! Come this way. Your sister is here...."
Tony gently landed the aircraft then opened the hatch so that they could disembark. He grinned at Wanda and motioned toward the exit. "Ladies first...."
Loki snorted, but he wasn't about to exit before the girl. Not when he could see both Clint and Pietro bearing down on them quickly and didn't want to get in between the two worried men and their family member. "So...when are you and Pepper going to make Steve a grandfather?" he asked curiously, not bothering to turn the coms off first, so everyone heard the question.
Coulson smiled, responding to his son's declaration with one of his own and then watching as his son and (soon to be) grandson went to his granddaughter.
Wanda opened her eyes fully and gave the two men a tired smile, then carefully began making her way down the hatch... though she didn't get very far before Pietro sped up to carefully help her down, drawing her over to Clint. "You need to rest," he said to her.
Steve approached quickly, not bothering to hide his worry for his son. He knew, logically, that Tony was safe... but he couldn't help having to see with his own eyes.
Tony spluttered at Loki's question then stuck his tongue out at the Asgardian before making his way down the ramp to meet his father. Loki was by his side, so he answered the other man's impertinent question. "We haven't really discussed it yet, since we are still planning our wedding! But when it happens, Grandpa here will be the second to find out." Tony's grin was impish.
Loki's grin was a trifle embarrassed; he had been teasing, but even so.
Steve wrapped his arms around Tony and hugged him tightly. "Did any of that debris hit you?" he asked, worriedly checking his son over for injuries.
Thor had arrived by that point and he quickly approached his brother, hugging Loki tightly to himself. After all, things could have gone so much worse.
Tony wrapped his own arms around his father and leaned into the man. "A little, but the suit took the brunt of it...I'll get checked out as soon as the worst injured are through being taken care of...just in case." He smiled crookedly at his father, knowing that Steve wouldn't feel right until Tony had gotten clearance from someone with a medical degree.
Loki hugged his own brother back tightly. There was a lot to talk about with Thor; but right now, he was just relieved to have his brother back with him. "You are ok," he finally mumbled against his brother's chest. “Shall we go find our other brother and make sure he is alright?" He stepped back a bit, checking over Thor to make certain he wasn't wounded as unobtrusively as possible.
"I still want to make sure you get checked out by Bruce or one of the other doctors as soon as possible," Steve said firmly, pressing a kiss to Tony's head. "There was a lot of debris flying around..." His embrace tightened a fraction, worry obvious on his face and in his voice.
Thor released his brother, but wrapped an arm around Loki's shoulders. "I am uninjured," he replied calmly. "But, yes, we should find Mack and make sure he is safe."
Tony nodded. "We can head over to the medical station now. As soon as someone is available, I'll get checked out. It will be an easy place for Pepper to find us, too." Tony snuggled closer to his father, letting the other man lead him over to where the medical personnel were.
Loki pressed up against Thor's side as they began to walk away from the stealth-craft. He kept an eye out for their other brother. "I have something to confess to you when we have time...I did not have time to do so before we had to come after Ultron." He gave his brother a semi-embarrassed and apologetic smile.
Thor looked around for Mack, but kept his attention on Loki. "What is that?" he asked.
Loki actually blushed and glanced around as well. "I...I would prefer to tell you in a more private setting," he admitted. "In case you feel the need to chide me for my actions...." He wasn't worried that Thor would punish him again- Fury had already taken care of it- but if his brother was very displeased, he might be louder than intended...even if he'd got better at not speaking as loudly as he used to.
Mack had been watching for both of his brothers and when he saw them together and looking around- he suspected looking for him- he quickly finished the task he was working on and informed the area supervisor that he had to go elsewhere. He then quickly walked to meet his brothers, relief clear on his face.
Thor cast a worried look at his brother, but didn't say anything as he spotted Mack coming towards them. He wrapped his free arm around his other brother. "Are you all right?"
"I'm doing great..." Mack said with a smile. "I was worried about both of you, though. You left because of that vision and didn't return and then Loki had to do a lot of teleporting and using his clones and after this afternoon with the truck...." He blinked then gave Loki an apologetic look as he realized belatedly that Thor might not know about the truck yet.
Thor raised his eyebrows, looking at his brother. "Does this have anything to do with what you'd like to tell me?"
Loki winced, looking at the ground, unable to face his brother, as he answered, "Yes, brother...."
"What happened?" Thor was serious, but the worry and concern he felt for his brother was obvious. He still held both of them close, happy that his family was safe and well... even if he suspected he was about to hear of something dangerous.
"I did something very foolish earlier when we were still trying to locate Ultron. There was a truck that was surrounded by robots and Clint and I both immediately thought it was the synthetic body...and that it needed to be tracked. So without waiting for orders to do so, I teleported myself and Clint to the top of the truck, where he shot a tracking arrow into the box... there were robots shooting at us and we both nearly fell off before he planted the tracker...but I managed to grab him and transport us back to the Quinjjet. We did all this despite Uncle Nick telling us not to...." Loki looked down, shame in his voice. "Uncle Nick was rightfully upset with our actions and punished me. I did not mean to scare him...I did not think he would care that much.... I know you would care, had you seen, and I did not want you to find out from anyone else what I had foolishly done. I am sorry, Thor."
Mack blinked at Loki's calling the gruff older man 'Uncle Nick'. It was obvious that when Fury had taken the younger Asgardian in hand, he had done more than just punish... Loki had formed another attachment to the family. That could only be a good thing, he thought, as he glanced at Thor to see his reaction.
Thor didn't loosen his hold on either of his brothers. He also noticed Loki's use of the words, 'Uncle Nick' and it actually made him happy... knowing how uncomfortable Loki still felt. "Since you have been punished for it already, I see no need for me to scold you further," he said. "I am glad you told me... and I am also glad that you have formed a closer attachment to Fury."
Loki finally looked up at his brother and could see he was genuine in his words. Smiling hesitantly, Loki pressed closer to his brother. "I...I do not know why I did not realize earlier...but both Coulson and Fury care about me...much like you do. Maybe I...fit in better than I thought." He swallowed and glanced away again, sheepishly.
Mack pressed closer to Thor as well, not saying anything. He knew sometimes it took a while for knowledge to connect with feelings. He was glad it was finally happening for his brother.
Thor tightened his embrace around both of his brothers. "It is not just Fury, Coulson and myself who care for you, Loki. Everyone else has accepted you as part of this family and that has been proved in that they trust you to fight alongside them."
Loki nodded. "I...I am starting to feel that..." he admitted quietly.
Thor smiled at his brothers, but his focus was a bit more intense on Loki, seeing how tired he looked. "I believe it is time for us to retire to our room," he said.
Loki nodded wearily. "I believe you are right, brother..." He yawned.
Mack chuckled. "Won't get any argument from me."
"Do you know where our room is?" Thor asked Mack, not sure if their brother would have found out already.
"It's this way..." Mack shifted so he could gently take both of his brother's arms and lead them to their quarters.
Thor followed Mack willingly, happy just to be with his brothers.
Clint pulled both Pietro and Wanda into his arms, giving them tight hugs. "She is going to rest...you can stay with her to keep her company," Clint said firmly, as he began to draw the two younger people of his family toward where the medical station was. He could see Bruce helping different people and smiled at his cousin, before directing Wanda to one of the spare chairs. "Sit down- I'll get you some food and water to replenish your energy..." Clint impulsively leaned over and kissed her on the top of the head, before squeezing Pietro's shoulder one more time and then going in search of the items for his daughter.
Pietro stood next to his sister's chair, arm wrapped around Wanda's shoulders. His sister leaned wearily against him, her eyes half-closing once more. "Did something happen?" Her voice was soft... but she knew her twin well enough to know that something had happened.
"Not something you need to worry about," Pietro said. "You just need to rest." He couldn't bring himself to be that sorry about saving Clint... not seeing how his sister responded to the show of affection from him. He wasn't about to tell Wanda what had nearly happened, though.
Clint finally was able to find some food and water and brought enough back for both Wanda and Pietro. The younger man had expended a lot of energy running and he wasn't going to neglect his health. Handing each of them a bottle of water and a sandwich, he pointedly looked at both of them. "Eat."
Wanda took the sandwich and bottle of water, beginning to eat and drink without argument. She also shifted closer to Clint... a bit hesitant about initiating the contact, but still wanting to be close to him.
Pietro moved his arm from around Wanda's shoulders so that he could eat, more hungry than he'd had a chance to realize.
Clint smiled as his kids began to eat, putting his arms around both of them and tugging them in close, leaving just enough room that they could maneuver to eat, but otherwise not letting them have any space away from him. He kissed each of them on the side of the head. "As soon as you've rested a little bit more and as soon as there is a doctor available, I want both of you to be checked out and make sure you weren't injured," he said, firmly but lovingly.
Steve wrapped his arm around Tony's shoulders, guiding him over to the medical station and pressing a kiss to the side of his head.
Wanda leaned into Clint without any hesitation, nodding obediently to his directions. She was already half-asleep, otherwise she wouldn't have said what she did... what was in her mind. "Yes Papa."
Pietro glanced quickly at his twin, but didn't make any comments.
Bruce was busy helping out civilians who had been injured....luckily no one had been injured seriously. Mostly sprains, cuts, a few broken bones. He glanced around to make certain that the medical personnel had everything under control, then grabbed his medical kit and headed over to meet his family members who were starting to gather. He smiled at his brother as he made his way to Wanda and Pietro first. "I'll get you in a bit, Tony. Since you're standing and don't seem to be in any pain, I'll take care of the exhausted ones first so Clint can get them to a bed."
Clint was proud of the fact that he didn't react to Wanda's words. If he'd stiffened up or acted surprised or shocked, she might have withdrawn from him; and he didn't want that. Instead, he kept his calm, gently squeezing her to his side and rubbing her arm. "Bruce is on his way," he said softly, nodding at his cousin as he made his way to the trio.
Wanda turned to watch Bruce's approach, even though she stayed plastered to Clint's side.
Pietro watched both his sister and Clint, almost a little uncertain. He didn't find it as easy to show his feelings as Wanda clearly did... but the tension wasn't as obvious when Clint was holding him.
Clint continued to gently rub Wanda's arm as he held her snuggly to his side. He tugged Pietro a little closer as well, gently rubbing the younger man's arm. "I know they both expended a lot of energy, Bruce. I just want to make certain there isn't anything wrong that rest and good food won't fix...."
Bruce nodded and began to do his examination, running various scans. He did both twins' exams, asking various innocuous questions. By the time he was finished thirty minutes later, he was grinning crookedly at his cousin. "They're perfectly fine. Take them to the bunks that you've been assigned and have them each nap... and then eat a big dinner when it is time to eat."
Clint couldn't help but slump in relief. "Thanks, Bruce." He turned to look at his children. "Well, you heard the good doctor. Nap time for all overworked super-heroes...." he teased lightly, checking his phone to see what quarters they had been assigned until they could return to the farmhouse. Once he had a room number, he wrapped his arms around his two kids again and gently began to lead them into the helicarrier where they could rest.
Tony nodded at Bruce and just leaned against his father to patiently wait. He was watching Clint, a crooked smile on his face. "Yeah, he's done for. I guess I'm going to have to find another partner in crime. I don't see him wanting to do half the things we used to get up to, now that he has two kids depending on him...." His voice was teasing...but not. Tony did try to avoid doing things that would get him into trouble, but when he did do them, Clint had often been his partner.
Steve pressed a kiss to Tony's head, even as he gave a slightly amused smile. "Maybe your new partner-in-crime will have a more calming effect on you," he teased.
"I guess it depends on who my new partner in crime is..." Tony grinned impishly at his father.
Steve just shook his head, smiling a little. "Someone to keep you out of trouble and safe with me, hopefully."
Tony's grin turned less impish and more innocent. "Yeah....Maybe I'll just have to learn to behave and not get involved in any 'crimes'. That would probably be better."
Bruce had begun examining him by this point. His brother couldn't help but tease, "You sure you can handle staying out of trouble? Behaving yourself won't cause you to be bored?"
Tony snorted. "Yeah...Lately, I've been able to find trouble without looking for it. I doubt I'll get bored if I actually try to behave..." He glanced at Steve, wondering if he'd have anything to say about his actions that had resulted in Vision. In the end, it had worked out ok, after all. Thor had come in and said that he'd been given a vision that it was necessary, what Tony was doing, but until Thor had made his announcement, Tony had been acting without any regard for anyone else's opinion and had started before anyone could argue against it. Tony had a feeling his father had not been happy about that, but he was loathe to bring it up and find out exactly how upset his father was about it.
"Well, you can consider yourself lucky. Despite having debris hit you, all you have is a few bruises that should go away in the next few days. Get some rest. Eat a good dinner. You'll be fine." Bruce smiled wearily.
Tony frowned slightly at his brother. "Yeah. Don't you be wearing yourself out either, Brucie. There are medical personnel on the carrier that haven't spent the better part of the day fighting robots. Let them take care of the wounded and get yourself some rest and food. I'm sure your kiddies will appreciate having you be with them...."
Bruce nodded. "Yeah. I'll do that."
Tony nodded then looked at his father. "I just got a text from Pepper. She's at the quarters we were assigned with some food for both of us."
Steve looked at Bruce, able to see how tired his other son was, and reached out with his free hand to touch Bruce's shoulder. "I'd like you to leave now." His voice was soft, but no less serious for it. "Find Leo and Jemma... have something to eat with them and take advantage of this being over." He looked at Tony. "We'll go and meet her," he said softly.
Bruce blinked at the order; it was given kindly and with love, but it was still an order. "Yeah. Ok, dad...." He smiled crookedly, running a hand through his hair. "I'm pretty sure Jemma and Leo are back helping the other scientists. I'll go pull them away so they can eat and then... a nap really does sound wonderful."
Tony nodded, giving his brother a quick hug; then, taking his father by the arm, he tugged him toward where he knew their quarters were located. "She said hurry up. Bossy woman...." His grin was infatuated, though. He didn't mind in the least.
Steve managed to give Bruce a quick, though tight hug, before being dragged away by Tony. "We want to see her just as much," he said, smiling at the thought of being able to see his daughter.
"I know. That's the only reason I didn't argue with her bossiness." Tony chuckled softly.
Soon, he'd reached their quarters; but before he could open the door, it was flung open from the inside, Pepper launching herself out the door and into both his and Steve's arms. "I was so scared for both of you!" She hid her face against them both.
Steve responded by wrapping his own arms tightly around his daughter. "We're safe," he said, his voice soothing and loving.
Tony shifted so that he could wrap his arms around Pepper tightly from behind, kissing her on the ear. "We're fine, Pep...and we're back home with you... or at least we're with you, since I can't really view the helicarrier as home...." He gave her a soft smile. "And I've got my favorite sandwich now, so...."
Pepper blinked. "Favorite sandwich?" she asked, confused. The hugs had helped to calm her somewhat, but the distraction from Tony's random comment calmed her the rest of the way.
"Yeah. A Pepper sandwich!" Tony grinned, pushing forward slightly so that she was further squished between him and their father.
Pepper rolled her eyes, but grinned back. "Tony!" she huffed in amusement.
Steve smiled and pressed a kiss to each of their foreheads. "Let's go inside," he said. "It's been a long day... and I just want to spend some time with both of you."
Tony backed through the door, still hugging Pepper from behind, dragging both Pepper and his father into the room with him. He noted that Pepper was already in comfortable clothing. There were two sets of clothing on the bed for him and Steve. "I'll be right back, Honey..." He kissed Pepper on the cheek, grabbed one of the sets of clothing and headed across the hall to the showers. He grinned as he passed Grant and Bobbi both heading to the showers themselves.
"Ok," Pepper said softly; and sat on the bed to wait for her father and fiancé to get changed.
Steve changed quickly and then returned to sit next to his daughter, wrapping his arm around Pepper's shoulders and drawing her in close, kissing her forehead.
Tony changed as quickly as he could- though not quite as fast as his father- and was soon back as well. He sat on the other side of Pepper. "I love you both, you know that?" he said quietly.
"I love you both too..." Pepper responded, hugging both of them before scooting back onto the bed so that she could get under the sheet and lie down.
Steve smiled at his son and daughter, his eyes soft. "I love you both. More than I could ever put into words." He kissed each of their heads and then waited for Tony to get comfortable, too, so he could join them.
Tony scooted up so that he was next to Pepper then waited for Steve to move up and join them. He let Pepper be in the middle this time; she'd been so worried about both of them that he felt it would help her to be snuggled in the middle. He glanced at his father and gave him a relieved and grateful smile. Everyone they loved had come through relatively unscathed...and Clint had even gained two new kids out of the whole mess that was Tony's plan to save the world. He glanced away from Steve with a wince as he remembered his second attempt to save the world. Luckily, that one had turned out better than the first...not that Steve had been happy about him trying it without talking it through with anyone else. He glanced back at his father, his smile a little more sad. "I love both of you; you know that, right? What I did...I was just trying to protect you both...."
"I know, Tony," Pepper muttered, already half on her way to sleep; only staying awake because Steve wasn't situated yet. "You need to stop trying to protect people without talking to them about it first...." Her tone was slightly grumpy, even if it was still loving. She'd been terrified that he was going to unleash a second Ultron and that he would be the first casualty. The only thing that helped her trust Vision was that he'd picked up Thor's hammer.
Tony sighed. "I know." He glanced back at his father, knowing that he probably had things he wanted to say as well, but not sure if Steve would say them now, or wait until they weren't on the helicarrier and they could find a bit more privacy.
Steve settled down, wrapping an arm around his son and daughter's shoulders. "I know you thought you were doing the right thing, Tony, but what if you'd created another Ultron? It was hard enough trying to fight this one, even with the Vision's help..."
Tony shifted onto his side so he could wrap his arm over Pepper protectively, his hand tangling up in his father's shirt. "I know, dad...it could have gone so much worse. I...I don't know. At the time, it seemed like a really good idea, even though I know it wasn't. I think maybe my head was still... I was still focusing on what I'd seen in that dream vision thingy... and even though I know it wasn't real, it felt so real that. Well. It doesn't excuse me, I know- but I just wasn't thinking clearly." Tony glanced toward his father over Pepper's head; she'd fallen asleep immediately after Steve had got into bed.
Steve covered Tony's hand with his own. "I know how scared you were, Tony," he said gently. "But you can't keep doing these things on your own. You should have waited, because if something had gone wrong..." He took a deep breath, the fear on his face very real. "I can't lose you, son," he said, very quietly.
"I'm sorry, daddy..." Tony whispered his voice filled with shame. "When...when we get back to wherever home is going to be...I...are you going to....I know I deserve..." He winced, not able to bring himself to actually voice the question.
Steve gently gripped Tony's hand, the look on his face loving and compassionate, even above the fear he couldn't quite get rid of. "I love you, Tony." His voice was filled with sincerity and affection. "When we can get to wherever we can call home, we will deal with this. I'm not going to love you any less. I'm not going to withdraw from you. But this needs to stop, son. Your safety is so important..."
Tony swallowed, feeling inexplicably relieved at Steve's promise; and he was fairly certain it was a promise. Steve always did what he said he'd do. He smiled crookedly at his father. "Ok, daddy...I...I know I have it coming. I love you so much; I wish I could learn to stop scaring you so bad. You and Pepper both..." His tone was sheepish and he squeezed his father's hand gently.
Steve stroked his thumb gently over Tony's hand. "We're scared because we love you so much," he said softly. "Don't ever think otherwise. You are both so important to me. If I didn't have either of you in my family, I think I would find my life a lot harder."
"I know mine would be..." Tony admitted, his voice softened by sleepiness. His eyes closed as he focused on the movement of his father's thumb against his hand, the motion soothing him to sleep.
Steve just held his son's hand, continuing the affectionate stroking, just absorbing the closeness of his children. When he was certain they were asleep, he finally felt able to sleep himself.
Bruce located Leo and Jemma quickly and wrapping an arm around each of their shoulders, led them to the quarters they would share- after picking up some food for all three of them.
Wanda cuddled in close to Clint, though not close enough that she would hinder him walking. "You're going to stay?" she asked, her tone sleepy... but the question was still a serious one that she hoped the answer would be yes to.
Although not as tired as his twin, Pietro also glanced at Clint, waiting to see what his answer would be.
"They'd have to drag me away..." Clint answered seriously, squeezing both Wanda and Pietro gently, even as he led them to their quarters. Once there, he opened the door and motioned them inside. "Into bed with you. Both of you." Clint was surprised to see that the three beds, that would normally have lined each wall, had been pushed together to form one large bed. He wasn't sure who had arranged it, but he suspected Pepper, since she was one of the few non-SHIELD people who would have been on the helicarrier. No one else would have had time to arrange something so personal. He glanced at the kids, wondering if they would feel uncomfortable sleeping in such close proximity to him.
Pietro looked at the three beds and then at Clint. "I am sure that's not a normal arrangement."
Wanda reached up to stifle a yawn before speaking. "It doesn't matter... does it? Not to me, anyway..." She glanced at Clint, a little uncertainly, knowing that she'd been plastered to him for a while now and not sure if he wanted space.
Clint shrugged. "It's not normal for SHIELD. For our family, it is very normal. And I have a feeling it was one of our family that arranged for the room for us." He smiled gently, thinking of Pepper. He didn't mind the beds being where they were, but he wanted to make certain the kids were ok with it. "If it bothers you, I can separate the beds... but it doesn't bother me. And to be honest, after what happened today, I'd probably rest easier if you were within reach." His voice was calm and honest, but not pushy. He didn't want either of them to feel obligated to be close to him.
"I want to stay close to you, Papa." Since Clint hadn't reacted badly to her using that form of address before, Wanda felt safe using it again... when she was a bit more conscious of what she was saying.
"Well, if you want to keep us close, I can manage," Pietro said, ignoring his sister's knowing look.
Clint smiled. "Good. I'm glad it won't bother you." He kissed each of them on the forehead, then gently led them to the beds. "I don't know about you two, but I'll find it a lot easier to relax when I'm not in this uniform." He picked up a pair of lounging pants and one of the t-shirts that had been left on the bed, motioning toward where there were several other pairs of outfits. "If you look in there, I believe you'll find something that fits..." He glanced toward the door. "The showers are right across the hall, so we can change without having to move too far."
Pietro picked out one of the outfits and headed through to get changed. It said something to how tired he was that he moved at normal speed, instead of dashing.
Wanda quietly picked out her own outfit, a bit quiet as, now that the adrenaline from the battle had faded, guilt surged up once more in its place.
Bobbi wandered in shortly after the other three had gone to change, Grant on her heels. "Well...I guess someone was here, at least; three of the outfits are gone..." she said to her brother, grabbing one of the outfits that were left for herself and heading to change.
"Dad said he'd be here shortly; he's just collecting Nat..." Grant yawned, grabbing his own clothing and going across the hall as well. He passed Clint on his way out, giving his brother a huge grin.
"What?" Clint asked, somewhat nervously, confused at why his baby brother would be looking at him that way.
"You made me an uncle!" Grant beamed, slapping Clint on the back slightly harder than was necessary then disappeared before his older brother could retaliate.
Coulson arrived at that moment, Natasha walking next to him. He picked up an outfit and gave Clint a quick hug, before going to get changed himself.
Natasha flashed a smile at Clint. "You figure out the sleeping arrangements with the twins yet?" she asked, picking up her own outfit.
Wanda came back into the room, changed, with Pietro following on her heels.
Clint grinned at his sister. "Yeah. I figure you can have the left side, since you normally take an edge...then Pietro, then me, then Wanda...then dad, Bobbi and Grant...." He slanted his head. "If that's alright with all of you."
"You know I'm good with whatever." Natasha went to get changed, patting the twins on the shoulders as she passed them.
Clint looked at the twins. "Are you alright with the sleeping arrangements? Because if not, I'm sure the others will be willing to adjust...."
"The sleeping arrangements are fine with me." Wanda ended the last word on a yawn, looking dangerously close to falling asleep on her feet.
Pietro wrapped his arm around his sister's waist to keep her steady then shrugged. "I have no problem with the sleeping arrangements."
Clint nodded. "Good. Then into bed with both of you. Pietro, leave some space on the edge for Natasha. We can go ahead and get in- the others will join us when they get back. No need to wait for everyone to be in the room, though." With those words, he crawled up onto the bed, leaving enough space on his left for two people, then patted the area directly next to him on his left and right. "Bed. Now. We'll talk more later after everyone has rested up."
Wanda moved over without hesitation, settling onto the bed and nestling in close to Clint. "Night, Papa," she breathed out... then fell immediately asleep.
Pietro was a little more hesitant, fully aware of how Wanda was seeing Clint, but uncertain how he saw either of them. He stretched out on the bed, almost close enough to touch... but not quite.
Clint smiled, tugging Wanda in tighter and kissing the top of her head. "Night, sweetheart." he said softly. Turning his head to glance at Pietro, Clint slid his arm under and around the younger man; not pulling him in as tightly or close as Wanda- the boy seemed uncertain and Clint didn't want to force him into a relationship he wasn't comfortable with- but making certain the kid knew that Clint cared about him as well. "Night, kid..." he said softly to Pietro, the tone in his voice as warm as if he'd called him son.
Bobbi snuck back into the room a few minutes after Wanda had fallen asleep and sat on the side of the bed, waiting for the rest of the family to get in. She didn't want to make her father crawl over the top of her to get in.
Grant was right behind Bobbi and sat down beside her as they waited for Natasha and Coulson to return. They smiled at Clint, but didn't say anything, not wanting to disturb the sleep of the two 'kids'.
Pietro relaxed, his eyes closing... though he didn't fall immediately asleep, even though he was more comfortable than he thought he had a right to be.
Coulson slipped back into the room, a soft smile on his face as he looked over his family members. Focusing for a moment on Clint, he moved to the side of the bed and leaned over to kiss his oldest's forehead, careful not to lean on Pietro. "I'm so glad I didn't lose you today," he whispered to him.
Natasha came in on her father's heels, looking about ready to fall asleep on her feet.
Clint smiled up at his father. "I'm glad you didn't lose me either," he joked feebly. "I didn't want to put you through that...there was just nowhere I could go to get away...unless I left the child...and I couldn't do that...." He knew his father would understand. It wouldn't have made things any less difficult had Clint actually died, but he knew his father would understand.
Bobbi stood up, pulling Grant up with her so that Coulson could actually get into the bed and scoot next to Wanda. "I know I was very thankful to see Hulk had noticed you...." she said softly to her oldest brother.
"We all were..." Grant affirmed her declaration.
"I know you didn't have a choice... but it wouldn't have hurt any less." Coulson pressed another kiss to Clint's head, then ran a hand through his new grandchildren's hair gently before he stood up, kissing each of his other children before he climbed into bed as well.
"I know, dad. More than I did before, even..." Clint said softly, although everyone would be able to hear if they were still awake and listening.
Bobbi gave her older brother another smile, before grinning at her sister and then crawling into the bed and snuggling up to her father. "Love you, daddy," she whispered against his chest. “Love you, everyone else...." she said, slightly louder, still muffled against her father's chest.
Grant chuckled, shaking his head. "Love you too, squirt." He crawled in behind Bobbi, spooning her, his arm crossing over so that his hand was on his father's chest.
Coulson moved one arm so that he was in contact with both Bobbi and Grant. He extended his other arm as far as it would go, so it was resting against the other four members of his family. "I love all of you... more than I could ever put into words." He closed his eyes, feeling truly happy.
"Me too..." Natasha said around a yawn, closing her eyes after she settled into bed.
Clint lay there, listening to his family. As soon as he heard his kids' even breathing, and his siblings breathing also evening out into sleep, he was finally able to let go and close his own eyes...falling asleep himself.
Trip and Brock had helped the last of the refugees from Sokovia settle down. It had taken hours to make sure everyone had received medical care, food, and a space to lay down. The helicarrier had landed in the Atlantic Ocean, not too far off the coast of Spain in international waters. The plan was to take everyone back to their country as soon as their country had figured out how they would deal with the disaster that had occurred. The people couldn't return back to where their homes had been to rebuild; it was a giant crater. Some, of course, had family or friends in other areas that hadn't been affected- and they were being allowed to go to those places...but there were so many that did not have that option. Needless to say, the two brothers were worn out.
"Do you know where dad is?" Brock asked Trip wearily.
"Last I saw, he was talking to the heads of various international relief agencies to get help for the people..." Trip answered with a yawn.
Brock couldn't help but yawn in response. "I'm assuming Kara stuck close to him?"
"As close as she was able. I think he had her playing secretary for him to give her an excuse to be with him." Trip smiled. "He had an office on board once upon a time. Maybe he still does?"
Brock shrugged. "Let's go look, then." He took his brother's arm and headed into the interior of the helicarrier, asking various people along the way if they knew where Fury was.
If he hadn't known how tired Kara was (and guessing his sons were just as exhausted), Fury might have pushed himself even further. As it was, he approached Kara and slid an arm around her shoulders. "I think we need to go to bed," he said, his voice firm and gruff, but still gentle. He guided Kara from the office in time to see his sons approaching.
Kara blinked wearily. It took several seconds for his words to process; they were already almost to Trip and Brock before she realized he was leading her somewhere, ostensibly to bed. "Where are you going to put me?" she asked hesitantly. It hadn't been that long ago she'd been doing things on HYDRA's behalf. Brainwashed or otherwise, she didn't trust herself not to do bad things in her sleep- who knew what HYDRA had programmed her to do? At the same time, she was nervous about being locked up with strangers. She didn't want to be forgotten.
Brock and Trip had joined them just in time to hear her question. Brock knew immediately why she was hesitant and quickly took her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. "You're staying with us, Hermanita," he said with a tiny smile.
Trip nodded quickly. "Yeah. Unless you don't want to be with us. But I figure there should be plenty of room...." He glanced at his father for confirmation.
"There is plenty of room and that's where you will be staying," Fury said firmly, reaching out with his free hand to gently squeeze each of his sons' shoulders, even as he spoke to Kara. "I know why you're worried, but if anything does happen, the three of us are light sleepers."
Kara found herself relaxing into Fury, despite her worries. "So...if I do anything in my sleep that I shouldn't, you'll be able to stop me..." she confirmed.
"Easily." Brock gave her a tiny smile, before giving his father a bigger smile. "Dad's really good at helping his kids get control over themselves...."
Trip just nodded.
Kara bit her lip. She wasn't sure how to take Brock's lumping her in with Fury's children... she wasn't Fury's kid, after all, so Fury's views of her and his ability to help her might not be as strong as Brock seemed to think. But she was too tired to argue and had to admit she'd rather be with people she knew who might possibly be able to stop her if needed, than to be alone or with strangers that she was positive wouldn't be able to stop her.
Fury looked around at the three of them, knowing Kara might as well be his as well, considering how much he cared about her. "Bed," he said firmly. "We can talk more in the morning." It would be best then to sit down and lay everything on the table with Kara; much as he had done with Brock.
"Yes, sir," Trip and Brock answered immediately, opening the door to their shared room and waving Kara and their father in. Much like all the other rooms, someone had taken the time to push the two beds together to form one large bed. Trip suspected Pepper.
Kara walked in and glanced around, then looked at Fury, biting her lip. "Are you sure....?" She began to question them wanting her to stay with them. It wasn't that she didn't trust the three men; she did implicitly. She just didn't trust herself and sharing a bed put them at greater risk, as far as she could tell.
Brock didn't bother answering, just grabbing a change of clothing, tossing another change of clothing to Trip, and heading to the shower.
Trip caught the clothing his brother tossed at him. "We're all sure..." he said lightly, as he followed Brock out to change.
Kara bit her lip again and glanced at Fury, then at the remaining clothing on the bed. She supposed she was meant to go change as well, but for some reason, she was afraid to leave the older man- had been afraid to leave him pretty much the entire day- and was trying to decide if staying in the tactical gear she was currently wearing would make it difficult to sleep. The only options other than sleeping in tactical gear were to leave Fury's side to change, or change in front of him. It was galling to be so frightened that she didn't want to leave his side, especially since she couldn't figure out why. Her fear about leaving him was strong enough that it was less daunting thinking about changing in front of him; she only refrained because she was sure it would bother him. Finally, she kicked off her shoes and hesitantly sat on the edge of the bed, not sure if she'd be on an edge or toward the middle, or what.
Fury picked up his own outfit. "You don't have to leave the room to change. You can change right here." He turned round, to give Kara privacy without having to leave the room, and began getting changed.
Grabbing the clothing that had been left for her, Kara quickly changed as well. Carefully folding the clothing she had been wearing and putting it on top of the shoes, she whispered, "I'm ready...." but remained staring at the corner she found herself in, not willing to turn around until Fury had said that he was ready.
"I'm ready as well," Fury said, moving over to Kara's side. He placed a hand gently on her shoulder, making sure she saw him coming, and squeezed lightly. "I know you're worried and scared right now. Later on, you may find it helpful to talk to Brock. He went through a very similar experience."
Kara turned around, finding herself leaning into his hand, and nodded. "I...I'll try?" She bit her lip uncertainly. It wasn't that she didn't believe Fury's words. It was that she felt so unsettled and scared and uncertain, she wasn't sure anything or anyone could really help. She glanced at the bed before looking back at Fury. "Where do you want me?" she asked softly, twisting her fingers into the hem of her shirt and fidgeting from one bare foot to the other, giving her the appearance of a very young girl.
Fury slid his arm around Kara's waist, gently guiding her over to the bed. "I'm going to put you between me and Brock... Trip on the other side of Brock." He knew his other son still had issues, even if Brock was slowly recovering.
Kara found herself moving easily to where Fury directed her, climbing onto the bed and under the sheet. She felt inexplicably childish...perhaps because it felt as if she was being tucked in. For some reason, that didn't bother her. She glanced up at Fury, a shy look on her face, still twisting the hem of her shirt in her fingers.
Brock returned along with Trip, closing the door behind them. He then crawled onto the bed next to Kara, reaching up and gently ruffling her hair.
Trip gave his father a quick hug then got in next to Brock.
All three 'kids' looked up at Nick expectantly. "You gonna tell us a story, dad?" Trip teasingly asked.
Fury snorted softly. "I think you'd all be out by the first word." He settled on the bed, sliding his arm around Kara and stretching out so that he could be in contact with all three of them. "It's been a long day and I suspect it'll be similar tomorrow."
"Yeah, you're prolly right," Trip agreed easily. "Considering your youngest is already out like a light." He glanced pointedly at Kara, who'd wrapped herself tight against Fury, her head on his chest, and was very softly snoring.
"I'd like to join her in dreamland, if you can stop talking!" Brock grumbled good naturedly at his brother.
Fury smiled as he looked at his three kids, his face softening in a way it rarely did outside of them. Wrapping his other arm tight around Kara, he reached out and gently squeezed his sons' shoulders. "Good night. I love you."
"Night, dad. Love you too." Brock smiled.
"Yeah," Trip agreed. "We love you too."
Bucky had gotten checked out by medical and then spent several hours helping direct the refugees on where and who to see on the carrier. He knew Lance was ok; he'd seen him helping the people from a distance and could tell he was healthy and whole. He was tired now, though, and seeing it from a distance wasn't the same as checking his kid out for himself to make sure he was ok. He hunted his son down. "Finish up what you're doing, Lance," he said with a tiny smile. “Time to take a break...." He glanced toward where May and Skye had been helping Lance. "That goes for everyone, even super-ninjas," he teased May gently. "I believe your quarters are next to Lance and mine, ladies."
"That's convenient. You can show us where they are, then." May smirked, motioning to Skye to finish up so they could go get some rest.
Lance hesitated, but really, he knew better than to argue with his father. Nodding, he stepped over to Bucky's side, leaning into his father. After the day's events, he needed the contact with him.
It was a testament to how tired Skye was that she didn't even try to argue. Instead, she nodded and closed down her laptop, stowing it safely away before she stepped over to her mother.
Bucky tugged Lance in a little closer and led May, Skye and his son to their quarters. "Night, ladies. Sleep well..." he said as he left the two women at their door and pulled Lance along with him to their own room.
May nodded briskly, wrapping her own arm firmly around Skye, then led her daughter into their room and shut the door firmly behind them.
Fury had been more right than he'd known he would be, Trip was certain of that, as they all wearily piled onto the shuttle that would take them down to the private airstrip Tony owned, where they would pile into waiting limos to take them to the mansion. They would be living there for an undetermined amount of time while the tower was repaired.
"There are only eight bedrooms- five baths- so pretty much we'll all need to have roommates. I'm thinking, unless there are objections, we can just stick to our family groupings. Unless I'm wrong," he eyed Clint uncertainly (not sure if the archer would want to stay with his father or branch off into his own room with his kids, like Bruce had done with Jemma and Leo), "that will leave one guest room for 'just in case'," he added air quotes with his fingers, "the rooms are all large enough for several twin beds; or some custom made king size beds, depending on what's needed." He glanced around at his family, giving a crooked grin. "The kitchen and dining room are large, though and the family room is huge; it used to be the ballroom when my parents were still alive and had parties...." He ran a hand through his hair nervously. "There's also a training room, a lab that we'll all need to share... and an office that's in the back of the house and not really near anything; my dad liked to hole himself up in there when I was making too much noise. Can't really hear much of the rest of the house there...and the rest of the house can't hear what goes on there either...." He frowned, thinking about all the times Howard had disappeared into that office then sighed.
"I'm sure it will be fine, Tony," Bruce soothed. "Half of us have been there before, remember? And those who haven't been will just be happy for a place to lay their heads at night, if I'm not mistaken."
Bobbi didn't say anything, just scooted closer to her father and put her head on his shoulder. She glanced out of the corner of her eye and could see Kara hovering near Fury nearly as close. The other woman hadn't indicated that she looked on the older man as a father figure; actually seemed oblivious to the fact that Fury was treating her like a daughter. Bobbi couldn't help but snort softly, a tiny grin on her face.
Grant heard the snort and gave her a questioning look, but didn't say anything, glancing toward Kara and Fury as well, before looking back at Bobbi and rolling his eyes at her. He wrinkled his nose when Bobbi stuck her tongue out at him.
"What my darling fiancé is attempting to say is you all are welcome to make any changes necessary to your room to make it more comfortable. Just let us know so we can arrange for it." Pepper smiled at the group as she snuggled up under Tony's arm and reached for Steve's hand with her free hand.
By that point the shuttle had landed and the hatch was opened. "Well... all out and into a car. We'll be home soon..." Tony said quietly.
Coulson pressed a kiss to Bobbi's head as he stood up, glancing around at the rest of his immediate family. He wasn't surprised to see Wanda nestled in close to Clint. Pietro seemed reluctant to follow his twin's lead... at least for now... but Coulson suspected strongly that he wanted to. He did plan to talk to Clint about what his oldest would prefer to do, but for now, he just moved to leave the shuttle, gently rubbing each of his other children's shoulders as he came close enough to them.
Steve gently took Pepper's hand, squeezing it gently. The look on his face was loving... but also some sense of relief that they were all safe; that none of the family had lost their lives... not to mention gaining three new members.
Fury hadn't been unhappy about Kara sticking close to him... far from it. He'd kept his hand on her shoulder during the flight, or his arm wrapped around her shoulders when he felt she was all right with that. He stood to leave the shuttle as well, drawing his children with him.
Soon, they had all piled into the limos and were on their way 'home'. Upon arriving at the mansion, Tony had informed Coulson that, as the master bedroom was largest and he currently had the largest family, that was where he could go. Everyone else moved off to lay claim to whichever room suited their family best.
Clint took Tony aside for a moment to find out which direction the 'quiet office' was. As soon as he had the information, he went to Pietro, wrapping his arm around the younger man's shoulders. "You and I need to talk," he said, softly but firmly, beginning to lead the young man down the hall toward said office. He'd noticed Pietro held himself aloof, even as he sometimes got the impression that the young man wanted to be closer. Maybe he didn't feel wanted or accepted? Clint wasn't sure, but it was something that needed to be cleared up. By the end of their talk, Pietro would know exactly what Clint's intentions were for both he and his sister.
Pietro slowly went with Clint, after glancing around to make sure Wanda would be all right. Coulson, noticing the two of them leaving, had drawn his twin towards him and the rest of his family, suggesting they could look at the master bedroom and see if there was anything they'd like to change.
Relaxing now that he knew Wanda would be all right (and a little jealous of how his sister had adapted so easily), Pietro found himself leaning into Clint as he was led.
It didn't take long to find the office-;Tony hadn't been wrong that it was in a far corner of the house where household noises couldn't be heard. It was very quiet. Clint hoped that meant that the conversation he was about to have with Pietro wouldn't be heard outside the office, either. Leading the younger man into the office, he closed the door, then went to the couch that sat just under the window, drawing Pietro with him. Sitting down, he patted the cushion next to him, waiting until Pietro had sat down before turning to face the younger man and beginning.
"I'm sure you heard my father last night regarding my near death experience..." he began gently.
Pietro slowly sat down, then he nodded. "I did hear you talking about it," he admitted, not entirely sure what Clint was going to say. He was feeling unsure about the whole situation, to be honest.
Clint nodded, trying to formulate his thoughts. "If Hulk hadn't been there, I wouldn't have survived. Neither of us would have. They'd likely be having our funeral soon."
Pietro hesitated a moment before speaking. "I know I'm impulsive... a lot more so than Wanda. And... I guess I know that you feel I acted unnecessarily." He shrugged. "I thought I could do it... but it was more than that. Wanda liked you already. You were the first person to treat her like a person... not a weapon. And... I didn't want to see you die either." He stumbled over the words, able to articulate his emotions with his sister with no problem... not so much with others.
Clint hummed slightly, putting his arm around the younger man and drawing him in closer. He thought for a moment again before speaking. "When I went after the child- that little boy- there were no robots around. I thought I could go grab him, run him back to the evacuation vehicle; no harm, no foul. And then I reached him and within seconds of my reaching him, I and the kid were surrounded. I knew there was no way I could outrun them- even if I left the little boy behind, which I would never have been able to forgive myself for if I'd done that- I could never have outrun them. They had completely circled me and there were too many of them. I knew I was dead. I knew it. And I knew the only thing I could do was cover the child and hope that somehow my body would prevent the bullets from reaching him." He swallowed hard, his arm tightening around Pietro.
"When you ran in after me...did you honestly believe you'd be able to carry me and the child out to safety before any of the bullets could connect? Because, to be honest, I could tell immediately when you reached me that you'd expended too much energy already. Even if you managed to pull us both out, it wouldn't be unscathed. We'd still be shot up. Only you'd be shot up, too. And like I said- so many robots, too many bullets. We all would have been dead, including you." His voice was soft. "You're right. I do think you acted unnecessarily. But not for the reason you think. If you had been at full strength and were positive beyond doubt that you could get us out without bringing harm to yourself...we wouldn't be having this conversation. The rule in the family is unnecessarily putting yourself at risk- and I'm not going to tell you putting yourself at risk to save a family member is wrong. I've done it before and I'll likely do it again."
Clint swallowed again, his arm tightening just that slight bit more. "There is just one caveat. I only do it when I know I have a chance at succeeding. You knew you wouldn't. You knew you were too tired to be able to bring us out. Your plan was to throw yourself over me and use yourself as a shield to keep me alive. Because you thought my life was more important than your own. Tell me I'm wrong." He looked into Pietro's eyes, his own sad and worried.
Pietro couldn't hold eye contact for long. He could remember the sense of fear as he'd seen those robots. He could remember the thought that he couldn't allow Clint to die... that he had to save him. "I didn't have a plan," he admitted, his voice barely above a whisper. "I reacted... because not reacting meant I might have watched you die. And I couldn't do that. Not just for Wanda."
Clint nodded slightly, not surprised at the admission. Tugging slightly so that Pietro was leaning against him further, he kissed the younger man on the forehead. "I understand letting your emotions rule your actions. Lord knows I've done it often enough. But my understanding it doesn't make it right. You felt you couldn't watch me die. Do you know what it would have done to me if I'd had to watch you die? Knowing that it was because of me that you were dying? Do you know what it would have done to Wanda, having you die? Even if I had survived due to your actions- and it isn't likely I would have- losing you would have been devastating to her. You're her twin. Her other half. The one who has been there beside her, her whole life. And while everyone in the family would have done whatever they could to help her, it wouldn't have brought you back." Clint sighed, forcing himself to continue.
"Like I said. Taking risks; when you are reasonably sure of success, there are no other options available and you are trying to save family is acceptable. Putting yourself in line to die, when you know that chances of success are next to non-existent... even if you are trying to save family... is not acceptable. Your life is no less important than any one of the rest of us and you can't treat it like it is less important. And I can't let this slide, because you are that important to all of us." Clint leaned back so he could look into Pietro's eyes. "Do you understand?"
"I..." Pietro wasn't sure he did understand. He wasn't used to having anyone other than Wanda caring about what he did. Since the death of their parents, it had just been them... and right now, Pietro only felt lost. He wanted to find it as easy as Wanda did to attach himself to Clint and the rest of them... but even the people who had treated him as an ally before had never accepted Wanda, so they'd never had a chance to be part of someone else's family. And it was that sense of confusion that triggered Pietro's question. "Why?"
Clint frowned, looking into Pietro's face, trying to decipher his question. "Why do I care about you?" he finally asked, unable to keep the slightly incredulous tone out of his voice. Smiling crookedly, he answered in a gruff, affectionate voice. "Well, for starters, you're loyal. You've stayed by your sister when doing so put you at disadvantage. You care about people; if you didn't, you would never have changed sides when you found out the truth of what Ultron had planned. You're willing to help; after you told us of Ultron's plans, you could have easily left and found someplace safe for you and Wanda. Also, you brought Kara with you- and she wasn't originally part of your family. Beyond all those good qualities, you're fun, brave, caring... you kinda remind me of myself." Clint's smile turned impish. "Which I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing, considering how often I got into trouble with dad...." Clint's smile went back to affectionate. "But mostly, it's because my gut says you're worth caring about and that I should care about you... and I've learned over the years that my gut is usually right about things like that."
"Oh." Pietro's voice was quiet, but slightly thoughtful. He felt like he was going through an emotional upheaval and he leaned closer to Clint, holding onto the one thing that felt constant right now. "You... said you can't let what happened slide." His voice was hesitant... nervous, even. "What are you going to do?"
Clint smiled softly, but his eyes and tone were serious. "That depends on you, kid. I know things moved really quick and you might not want to accept me as any type of father-figure in your life...although I already feel like one to Wanda and I'd like to be that for you as well. If you are willing to let me be a father to you... it would make me very happy. Of course, being your father would mean that I hold responsibility for you...that I would do everything in my power to keep you safe and healthy; and train and discipline you so that you keep yourself safe and healthy...."
He looked into Pietro's eyes. "If you want that, then I would discipline you the way my father disciplined me whenever I did something unnecessary that was dangerous or even life-threatening. I would spank you."
Pietro was completely lost. Spank him? He knew what that was... in theory... but his and Wanda's parents had died when they'd been so young, there hadn't ever been anyone to give them any sort of boundaries. Or want to be a parent to them. "You... want to be our father?" He spoke hesitantly, not sure if he was understanding correctly... no matter how quickly Wanda had adapted to calling Clint Papa.
Knowing that Pietro needed to believe he was wanted and that Clint was serious about wanting him, Clint shifted enough on the couch so that he could fully face the younger man. Then, putting his hands on both shoulders and squeezing gently, Clint looked him in the eye, his eyes serious and full of caring. "I want to be your father. I want to be father to both of you. The question I have is, do you want me to be your father?"
"Yes." The word slipped out without any conscious thought. Pietro wasn't sure when that desire had come. He just knew that he desperately wanted what Clint was offering... what his father was offering. He shifted closer, emotions threatening to overwhelm him.
Clint nearly slumped in relief. He'd been hopeful, but hadn't been certain that Pietro would want to be part of his family. "Good...good." His voice was filled with relief as well and he couldn't help but tug Pietro forward into a tight hug, before kissing him above his ear. He held him like that for several minutes, just enjoying the fact that his son was alive and wanted to be his son.
Finally, he pulled back, a sympathetic but firm look on his face. "Let's get this over with, then. And then we can go find your sister and see where we will be sleeping." Waiting just long enough to be certain that Pietro wouldn't be caught by surprise when he moved, Clint carefully tugged the younger man over his lap, pulling him in tight against his stomach, then baring him. He gently rubbed his back for a few seconds before lifting his hand up. "We'll take care of this... and then it will be over. You'll have paid and it will be put behind us. Clean slate..." he stated calmly, then brought his hand down in the first sharp swat.
Completely out of his comfort zone, Pietro couldn't help the soft whimper that escaped him. A slightly sharp gasp erupted when the first smack landed, taking him by surprise, and he grasped his father's ankle, pressing his face into his arm.
Clint, realizing Pietro was feeling overwhelmed and not wanting to drag the situation out if it could be avoided, quickly began covering his son's backside with the firm, sharp swats. They weren't as hard as he could have made them...but then, this spanking was less about punishment and more about cementing Pietro's position in his life; and making it clear to the younger man how important he was.
Finishing the first circuit of swats, having covered every inch of skin from the top of his son's backside to upper thigh, Clint began again at the top. "I understand the desire and need to protect your family. But it is not acceptable for you to place your own life below that of any one else. We all care about you and would be devastated if you died because you thought of yourself as less important and didn't take care of yourself. Placing yourself into unnecessary and avoidable danger will never be accepted; and will land you back over my knee. I want you in my life for a long time to come. Do you understand?"
Pietro's ability to run away fast meant that he didn't really tend to get into fights. Even in battle, his speed meant that he could land a punch and be away before his opponents knew what hit them. He could tell that his father wasn't swatting as hard as he could... but the feeling of emotional upheaval and having someone who wanted him as a son had the tears close to the surface. When Clint started over from the top and began speaking, the tears that Pietro had barely held back began to fall as he managed to sob out an affirmative.
When Clint heard the sob, he knew Pietro was close to where he needed to be in order to remember this lesson. Gently raising his knee so that his son tipped forward slightly, Clint began to focus the swats on the boy's sit-spots. "You are so important to us, Pietro. I don't want to lose you. Remember that.... You're doing good, son. We're almost through." He sped up the swats and increased their strength just enough to be noticeable.
Pietro couldn't stop the tears running down his cheeks. He went limp across his father's lap, sobbing, as he realised he accepted... he believed in... the words that were being said to him.
Clint immediately stopped spanking, gently tugging the boy up onto his lap and wrapping his arms tightly around him. Rocking him back and forth slowly, he rubbed tiny circles on Pietro's back and made soothing noises to him. "I've got you. You'll be ok...It's all over. You're forgiven...I've got you...."
Pietro immediately latched onto Clint, sobbing into his father's shoulder. The tears weren't from the pain of the spanking (though that hurt), but more from the sense that he and his sister weren't alone. They had someone who wanted them in his family... wanted both of them.
Clint just held on tighter, gently rubbing his son's back and hair, kissing the top of his head and murmuring, "I've got you and I won't let go. You're alright...."
It took a while for Pietro to calm down from the emotional upheaval, but even after his tears slowed and then stopped, he held tightly to Clint, not quite ready to allow himself to act 'normal', because he needed the comfort so much. "I didn't think it would matter," he admitted quietly.
"Thought that what wouldn't matter, Speedy?" Clint asked affectionately, as he continued to cuddle his son; there was no other word for it and he was honestly surprised that Pietro was allowing it, but he was grateful at the same time. He'd thought he'd have a harder time convincing the younger man that he was wanted and a part of the family, but if this was the reaction he was getting, maybe he didn't need to worry about that so much.
Pietro snorted softly, the nickname serving to help him relax further and not feel quite so at odds emotionally. "That I endangered myself... but I guess I know better now, Pop." He grinned, a teasing note slipping into his voice... even though calling Clint that cemented his father's place in his life.
"I should hope you know better now..." Clint's voice was gruff, but still affectionate and slightly teasing. Pietro had been punished for his actions; there was no need to rub the lesson in further. "You doing ok, now?" His tone softened and he loosened his hold enough to be able to lean back and look into his son's eyes.
Pietro nodded. "Yeah. I'm... glad you want to be in our lives like that," he admitted. "It's only been me and Wanda for a long time." He didn't say that it had been lonely at times... that he'd avoided making friends with anyone, because all of their allies previously had distrusted Wanda and treated her like she was a monster.
"You and Wanda aren't alone anymore, kid. I'm here now and I plan to stay as long as I've got breath in my body to do so...." Clint didn't say it was a promise, but in his heart, he meant it to be. Hugging Pietro tightly one last time, he smiled at his son. "You ready to go find your sister? Let her know that I didn't skin you alive?"
"If she really believed that, she wouldn't have gone off with Grandpapa." The name for Coulson slipped out without conscious thought. Pietro stood up, carefully replacing his clothing.
"That I can easily believe!" Clint smiled, standing as well. Once Pietro was ready, he wrapped his arm around his son and led him out of the office and toward the stairs, where he knew everyone else had been heading to stake claims to rooms.
Pietro went along willingly with Clint, happier and more secure in his place with the family and with his father.
After talking through what they wanted to do with their room, Steve watched fondly as Pepper went to find out what everyone else wanted and then turned to Tony with a loving, affectionate smile. "I think it's time we have a little discussion," he said gently.
Tony bit his lip, then took a deep breath. "Yes, sir....do you want to take care of it here? Or in the office?" He swallowed and looked at his feet. If he was truthful with himself, he only cared where they went in so far as he didn't want to upset the rest of his family.
Steve wrapped his arm around Tony's shoulders and pressed a kiss to the side of his head. "Sound is going to carry a bit more here, so I think we'd be better off taking care of this in the office."
Tony nodded, pressing closer to his father even as he turned to head back downstairs to the office. They passed Clint and Pietro on their way down the stairs and Tony wordlessly pointed them in the direction of Pepper, so that she could find out what they wanted and needed. Tony didn't know why- it never ended with him escaping and it wasn't like he was afraid of his father because he wasn't- but the urge to run from what he knew he deserved was starting to build in the hollows of his stomach. Irritated at his irrational and childish need to avoid repercussions, he pressed closer to his father. "Hold on to me? I'm feeling the urge to run..." he admitted softly, his tone embarrassed, slightly ashamed and very irritated with himself.
Steve tightened his arm around Tony's shoulders and pressed another kiss to his son's head. "I love you." His voice was quiet and sincere. He wanted to be sure that Tony still knew that... even though they were going to deal with what had happened.
Tony blinked and glanced up at his father. "I know you do, dad....I've never doubted you or your love. I just doubt myself..." His voice trailed off and his face turned bright red as he looked down again. "I love you too and just don't want to cause you problems...."
"You don't cause me problems." Steve reached the office and opened the door, heading inside with his son. "You're impulsive, but you do try to do the right thing. I know you're still not used to someone actually stepping in when something happens. I know you're not used to being so important that I would actually step in and spank you, rather than run the risk of losing you." He kissed Tony's forehead. "But you are. You're important to me... and to Pepper... to everyone here. You wanted to act on your own when you created the Vision, but if it had gone wrong, you could have ended up in the hospital again. Or worse. I could have lost you..."
Tony swallowed hard, shoulders slumping. "I know, daddy..." he finally said softly. "I should have thought of that instead of worrying about you trying to stop me. The fact I was even worried about you trying to stop me, and hiding it from you because of that, should have told me I was wrong...." His voice had a defeated tone in it. It wasn't like he didn't know what he should have done, or why. It wasn't even that he didn't want to do what he knew he should. He trusted his father completely...knew his father wouldn't just randomly tell him no or change the plans without serious thought...and Steve wasn't an idiot by any stretch of the word. When it came down to it; while Tony might be a genius, Steve was actually much better at seeing the big picture when it came to confronting the enemy and the pros and cons of different actions. His father was better than him at doing that- smarter. So he really should stop trying to follow his own plans. He knew it. It was just that when it came time to do the right thing...his ego and his inability to let go of control of the situation got in the way. He knew that's all it was. He wasn't able to let go of control... until it was too late and he'd done something extremely dangerous or foolish or both. Oddly enough, he never had any problem giving up control when he'd messed up... accepting punishment from his father when he knew he'd done wrong was the only time he didn't seem to have problems with not being in charge. He just didn't understand himself.
Steve pressed a kiss to the side of Tony's head and gently drew his son over to the couch. "Whatever you do, it doesn't change anything between us, son... but we need to make sure this doesn't keep happening. Which is why I'm going to spank you; now and any other time you do something dangerous." He hugged his son tighter. "I love you. I can't lose you. None of us can."
"I don't want to keep messing up, daddy. I just can't seem to stop myself. I just have...I...it's so hard, and I don't understand why I can't..." He shook his head, turning into his father's arms and pressing close, hiding his face against his father's chest. "It's like something gets inside of me and convinces me that if I do what I know I should do- what I know you'd want me to do- then that means...I don't know what it means. Just that I'm not in control of it anymore and...that scares me. I know it shouldn't, but it does...." he finally admitted.
Steve sat down, gently pulling Tony down to sit next to him, wrapping his arms tightly around his son. "I think we should make sure you stick with either me or Pepper for a while... closer than usual... no more closing yourself off in the lab to work on your own."
Tony let out a whimpering whine, then slumped against his father. He should have seen this coming. He was having problems...problems he didn't understand and couldn't even fathom of how to begin to understand. Of course his father was going to be worried enough to want to keep him close. He snuggled a little closer, reluctantly agreeing. "Ok, daddy...if you think that's what I need to do...."
Steve pressed a kiss to Tony's head. "I don't want you to do something that will take you away from me... from all of us. I think that it's important to keep you safe... safe with me." He held Tony tightly a moment or two longer. "Shall we get this over with?"
Tony was ashamed to find that he'd already started crying. Events were finally catching up to him. Sniffling slightly, he nodded, then stood and undid his jeans, pushing them down to his knees before holding his wrist out to his father to take hold of.
Steve took his son's hand, squeezing it gently, and then tugged Tony across his lap, wrapping an arm around his waist and drawing him in close. He pulled Tony's underwear down and then lifted his hand and brought it down in the first hard swat, then repeated the swat on the other side.
Tony let out a tiny gasping yelp as the swats landed, tensing up fractionally, but not attempting to get away. Since tears were already blinding him, he didn't bother trying not to cry or vocalize...he just tried not to be too loud about it. He used one hand to brace himself against the floor, but instead of wrapping the other hand around his father's ankle like he normally would have, he threw that hand back over his bottom; not that he expected to stop the spanking. His emotions and nerves were all over the place.
Steve laced his fingers through Tony's, holding his son's hand against the small of his back. He settled fast into a rhythm, swatting hard and fast down to Tony's thighs before starting over from the top, speaking as he did so. "You are so important, Tony. To all of us here. I never want to risk losing you, son. Not even to your own recklessness."
Tony quickly began squirming as the sting from the swats built. His father was moving much more quickly than usual and the speed was making it difficult to prepare. It was also making it difficult to focus on anything except what was happening. It didn't take long before Tony's tears and sounds of distress had risen in volume. He squirmed a bit harder, kicking his feet out in an effort to lessen the sting, only his father's grip on him keeping him from falling to the floor.
"I can't lose you, Tony." Steve used a bit more force and speed behind the swats, but they were still an emphasis for how important his son was and not just about punishment. "I know you have good ideas. I'm not telling you that you can't do something... but you can't act alone. You can't take your own safety for granted. Because I can't lose you, son. That would destroy me."
Tony heard Steve's words...he always did... but as usual, it wasn't until he had the combination of the words, the vulnerable position and the pain from the spanking that it clicked with him what exactly he'd done to his father through his actions. And then he thought about how he'd done something that would hurt his father so badly; and still his dad was holding onto him tightly, making certain he didn't harm himself in his efforts to get away from a well deserved admonishment. His father had him. He always had him. His father had control even when Tony felt completely out of control. Tony had to admit; as much as he fought the idea of having to obey anyone else and not be in charge himself...he felt safer when he was letting Steve be in charge. He still didn't understand it, but maybe he didn't need to. As these several different revelations made themselves known, Tony's squirms and attempts to get away slowly ebbed until he was lying still over his father's lap, just accepting. Finally, he slumped, seemingly boneless, and just cried softly. "I'm sorry, daddy...." he said with a tear-choked voice. "I'm sorry...."
Steve could never continue the spanking past Tony properly crying and going limp and now was no exception. He stopped and quickly gathered his son into his arms, hugging Tony as tightly as he could. "I love you, son. I never want to risk losing you... you are so incredibly important to me," he said into Tony's ear.
Tony wrapped his arms around his father tightly, snuggling as close as he could to the other man. He'd quickly regained control over his crying; at least enough that he wasn't sobbing, though tears were still streaming down his face. "I know, daddy..." he admitted in a contrite voice. "I love you so much too...and I don't want to make you so worried or scared all the time." He shivered slightly, taking in a gulping breath. "Prolly be easier if you never let me out of your sight. Easier for me to be good when you're watching...." He huffed, not liking what that implied about him or his self-control, but knowing it was true. He had no problem at all doing what he knew was expected when Steve was there to so much as lift an eyebrow. It was when Tony was alone that he got antsy about 'obeying' his father.
Steve tightened his embrace around Tony and kissed his son's forehead. "We'll figure out what to do and how to go about helping you remember how important you are," he said softly. "Keeping you close isn't so much about a punishment, son, as about having you close to me."
Tony couldn't help but smile at that. "I know, daddy. I don't view it as punishment. I just wish...I just wish I knew why it was so hard to do what I know I'm supposed to when I'm alone; I don't have any problems at all doing it when I'm with you. And it isn't cuz I'm afraid of you swatting me if I don't...if that was the only reason, I'd listen when I'm not with you too, cuz I always end up over your knee.... I just don't get myself sometimes," he huffed. He really hated not understanding something; when that something was his own actions, it was beyond frustrating. He sighed softly, snuggling against his father some more.
Steve gently threaded his fingers through his son's hair. "I think a lot of it may be that, on some level, you're still testing me," he said, his voice gentle, rather than irritated or angry. "You spent years without anyone to give you boundaries... and just like a child, you're pushing at those boundaries until you feel safe. No matter how long that takes." He kissed his son's head. "But I would never regret taking on the responsibility for you," he whispered.
Tony relaxed against his father, the gentle affection helping to calm him the rest of the way. "You think I'm testing you? To see if you really have control of me or not? That would mean I want you to have control of me, though...." Tony's voice was confused. He wasn't upset at the thought of Steve having control. He was more uncertain why he would want Steve to have control. He couldn't lie about the fact that he always felt safer after Steve asserted his authority, though.
"I don't mean complete control," Steve said. "You're my son. Not a slave. But children push at the boundaries they're given. It's part of growing up. It wouldn't be a surprise to me if you're going through smething similar. I know Howard wasn't the best father he could have been." That was an understatement, but Steve didn't feel like badmouthing the man who had been Tony's parent first.
Tony smiled faintly. "I know I'm not a slave...maybe control was the wrong word to use; I just don't know how to..." He shrugged. "I... I think part of me wants you to tell me what to do and wants to know that you can enforce what you tell me...because I feel safe when you do... and the other part of me thinks that I'm a friggin adult who should be able to govern his own life without needing so much direction... but I don't feel as safe when I do that." Sighing softly, he stood and fixed his clothes, before looking at the ground. "I ran my own life for so long and I screwed it up so bad in so many ways...I feel like there's something wrong with me not wanting to run my own life anymore. But I don't...not really. But I should want to..." Tony groaned in frustration. "Am I even making any sense? I'm not sure I even understood all that and I'm the one that said it...."
Steve stood up, wrapping an arm around Tony's shoulders and drawing him in close. "By the time you had people care so deeply about you, there was no one to step in when you did something dangerous and risked your life. There's nothing wrong with needing someone, son. Even if it's in more ways than you think you should." He smiled, tugging his boy in tighter. "After all, I've still needed my brother." And he never realised just how much until Bucky was back in his life.
Tony let his head drop against his father's shoulder and wrapped his arms around Steve's waist. "So you don't think I'm all screwed up for wanting you to boss me around? Or for pushing to see if you'll do anything when I disobey you? Cuz I can't help thinking that I am all messed up." He sighed softly. "You must think I'm the biggest f*n baby..." he muttered to himself.
"Hey, you're not a baby," Steve said firmly, stroking Tony's hair. "And neither are you messed up. Pushing the boundaries is normal. And it doesn't make a difference to how I feel about you. I love you."
"I love you too, dad..." Tony snuggled a little longer, before finally stepping back. "Sooo...no lab work unless you're with me? Really?" His voice was uncertain; but whether it was uncertain because he wanted his father to tell him that he wasn't going to make him give up working in the lab alone, or if it was uncertain because he wanted his father to tell him he wasn't allowed to be in the lab unless he was there, wasn't clear.
"No working in the lab unless I or someone else is with you," Steve replied, his voice firm. "I know that you often close yourself off in there... and I want to be certain you won't be doing anything dangerous." He leaned in, kissing Tony's forehead to take the sting out of the scolding.
Tony sighed softly, nodding. "Ok, daddy..." he said. He couldn't help the tiny grin that formed on his lips, though. Or the fact that the tiny grin grew to a full blown smile. "You'd think I'd be upset by that...but...Yeah. Thanks. For caring...." He hugged his father one more time, before finally stepping far enough back that they could walk. "I don't know if I'll want to be in a lab for a while anyway...but if I do, I think maybe having you there would be best. I owe poor Bruce an apology. Yeah, he gave in to me about the Ultron thing... but that's only because I steamrolled over his opinions with little to no regard. He didn't deserve that." Tony wrinkled his nose, then sighed again. "Want to go find Bruce with me so I can grovel?" His grin was crooked this time.
Steve smiled, kissing his son's forehead. "Of course I'll come with you, Tony." His voice was amused, but also very loving. "Afterwards, we can see about perhaps ordering in something for us all to eat." He wrapped his arm around Tony's shoulders to guide him from the office.
After everyone had spent time figuring out the rooms they wanted and how they wanted them decorated (Coulson and his family had wound up sharing two rooms, with Clint and his new kids having one, but also the option of ending up in Coulson's room if they wanted that), they'd ordered in some food and now sat around the table... or tables, since they'd had to put a couple together just to make sure they had enough room to fit all of them around.
Wanda was sitting next to Pietro, picking a little at her food, even though she was trying to eat. She still couldn't help feeling guilty for her part in all of this... even though things had turned out all right and she and Pietro had gained not only a father, but a whole family as well.
Leo was talking to Jemma about a couple of new experiments he wanted to run in the labs, mainly to look at creating better, more effective weapons and armour. The threat from Ultron might be gone, but that didn't mean all of the danger was past.
Lance had claimed the seat on the other side of Bobbi (who was sitting next to her father, as had become usual) and was amusing himself by taking bits of food from her plate while she wasn't looking.
Fury sat between Kara and Brock, Trip on the other side of Kara. He could tell that the woman he considered his daughter was still affected by what had been done with her and he did very little to hide his worry and concern.
Natasha had ended up sitting next to Skye, the younger woman talking animatedly to Natasha about some projects she was working on that she wanted the spy's input about.
Thor was seated between his two brothers, happy and contented now that he had the rest of his family with him... though he had been considering returning to Asgard for a visit. His home was with the rest of them here, but he did miss Asgard and his friends there. And he hoped Loki and their father might be able to heal the rift between them.
Steve watched Tony and Pepper carefully, trying to make sure his son and daughter ate a healthy amount... but also simply because he loved them and wanted to make sure they weren't troubled by anything.
Bucky had sat at the breakfast bar where he could overlook all his family. "We've got enough people in this family...we could probably get a game going....anyone want to play Soft Ball?" He grinned at his brother impishly.
"Ooh, I like that idea!" Tony grinned as well.
Clint had noticed Wanda picking at her food. "You ok? I'm a good listener if you want to talk..." His voice was loving and patient.
Steve smiled at his brother's suggestion, then looked at his son. "Sounds like a good idea," he agreed, glancing around the table to see that most of the others seemed to like the idea as well.
Wanda looked up as Clint spoke to her. "I... I'm just a little troubled," she admitted, unable to force a smile... even though she did force herself to take another mouthful of food that she really had no appetite for.
Clint looked into Wanda's eyes. He recognized guilt when he saw it. Sighing softly, he put his arm around his daughter and gave her a gentle squeeze. "Tell you what...we can set your food aside for the moment. Go talk. Then...if you feel up to it later, you can finish your meal. We can get on a team if you want to play with the others later...." He didn't want to force her into talking, but he thought it would do her good. He could see the others begin to clean up their plates and cutlery. Soon, the others would be outside and he and Wanda could talk in private.
Wanda hesitated, but leaned automatically into Clint. "Okay, Papa," she said quietly, almost clinging to the comfort he was freely offering her. Pietro had always been physically affectionate with her, but he'd been the only one since their parents had died.
Pietro clasped his sister on the shoulder. "I'll see you soon, sis... Pop." He moved to help clear the table, putting on enough speed that it was done within seconds.
Bruce had noticed Wanda's quietness and also Clint's protectiveness. Catching Bucky's eye, the two men soon had the cleanup moving like clockwork. It didn't take long at all before everyone was heading out the back door, leaving Clint alone with his daughter.
Waiting until he was positive they were alone, Clint shifted closer still to Wanda, hugging her tightly. "I can see it in your eyes that you are unhappy. I think I can guess why, but would you like to tell me what you are thinking?" he asked softly, kissing the side of her head gently.
Wanda let out a little sound that might have been a sigh, wrapping her arms around her father and pressing her face into his shoulder. When she spoke, her words were muffled... though still audible. "I know everything turned out for the best... but many people were hurt and died... and it's my fault..." she whispered.
"How is it your fault, princess? Did you tell Ultron to go after all those people? I don't think you did... I do remember you standing up to Ultron when you realized what his plan was. I remember you helping us at great risk to yourself to save people." Clint's voice held every bit of conviction that he could convey.
"Ultron wouldn't have existed if I... hadn't manipulated anyone's mind." Wanda's voice was soft... sad... She wasn't sure she could understand how she and her brother had been accepted so quickly... but she was incredibly grateful that they had been.
"Ah...you mean because you showed Tony his worst fear...." Clint nodded. "Not to cast dispersion on my cousin, because he's a good guy with a good heart- and I'm certain Uncle Steve has already addressed his error- but you didn't plant the idea for Ultron in Tony's head. He was working on his robotic army before you ever came into the picture...started soon after the Chitauri, if I'm not wrong. You showing him his worst fear caused him to take the scepter without putting it into protection first; and the scepter influenced him the rest of the way. To be honest, I'm not sure it didn't influence you to some degree. Plus, Tony is the one that chose to do what he did with no input from anyone else. If he hadn't been so secretive, one or probably all of us would have been able to prevent him from doing it." Clint smiled crookedly. "You can't blame yourself for what Tony chose to do. I'm sure apologizing to him for scaring him so badly he lost all common sense wouldn't go amiss, though."
Wanda nodded, her head a slight movement against her father's shoulder. "I will..." She sighed, then leaned back slightly so that she could look into his eyes. "Pietro said you do want to be our father..." Her voice was a little hesitant. She might have adjusted to seeing Clint as that, but she didn't want him to feel forced into taking care of two adult kids.
"He would be right." Clint looked into her eyes and smiled. "You already are, as far as my heart is concerned...but if you aren't against the idea...I thought I would talk with my cousin about making it official. You and your brother have become very important to me. I don't want to lose either of you."
"I want to be yours, Papa," Wanda said, cuddling in closer to Clint. "No one else really wanted to be that... maybe for Pietro, but he wouldn't have joined a family who didn't want me as well."
"They just didn't understand...it was their loss and their error in judgment. Because I think you are wonderful and I do want you." He hugged her tighter and kissed the top of her head. "I'll have Tony get the papers as soon as his lawyers can get them together."
Holding her for several more minutes, Clint just rubbed her back and hair, every so often kissing the top of her head or her forehead. Finally, leaning back, he looked into her face. "You feeling a little better now? Do you think you could eat?" His voice was obviously worried. She hadn't eaten nearly enough for his liking.
Wanda relaxed at the show of affection, cuddling into her father. When he asked her about eating, she nodded, the look on her face happier than it had been. "I think so... I'll try, at least." She could see his worry and didn't want to make him even more so.
Clint's relief was obvious and he smiled brightly at her. "Good. You wait here and I'll get you something fresh and warm...." He took her plate and went to the kitchen and replaced it with new items, careful to not overload her plate. He'd rather one back for more for her than to give her do much she became overwhelmed. Bringing it back and placing it in front of her, he sat down beside her again. "You think you'll want to join the others when you're done? Or would you rather just hang out and talk?" He gently ran his hand through her hair.
Wanda leaned into Clint as she began eating, chewing each mouthful carrefully and then swallowing. She gave her father an uncertain look. "Do you think they'll want me to join in?" she asked, painfully aware that most people would consider her abilities an unfair advantage... even if she didn't use them.
"I think they'd be happy if you did." Clint nodded. "Do you think they wouldn't?" he asked her curiously.
Wanda looked down at her plate of food, but continued eating. "It's like with card games... people never want to play with me. Because of what I can do."
"Huh... well. The family is always willing to give the benefit of the doubt, so unless you do something that proves them wrong, they aren't going to have any problems with what you can do. I mean, we have a magical demi-god with us that can cast clones and teleport... among other things that we aren't quite clear on... and they still let him play. We have two super-soldiers with eye-hand coordination that would seriously outclass most of us... we still like to do things with them. We have a man who, if he loses control can destroy a city block without even trying- and we don't want to leave him out. Your ability isn't going to cause them to want to avoid doing things with you or being near you. Not if you don't abuse it." Clint's voice was firm and assured he was right.
Wanda darted a look at him that, for all it was uncertain, was also hopeful. "If... you think they'll want me, I'd like to join in," she said quietly. "I wouldn't use my abilities in a game anyway. It wouldn't be fair." She finished her plate of food, looking that much happier about the situation and the family she'd found herself in.
"I'm sure they will want you." He smiled, picking up her plate and taking it into the kitchen to clean up. It didn't take long. "If you're ready to go out now, we can go join a team." He wrapped his arm around her and led her toward the back door and outside where they could hear laughter.