As leader of the Young Avengers, Kate loved each and every one of her teammates equally. She was pretty sure it was required of any team leader. Nobody was going to corner Steve Rogers and ask him if he loved Luke Cage or Thor more, were they?
No, they weren't, and Kate was pretty sure that being a team leader required her to actively believe what her mother had always tried to say was true about Susan and Kate: favoritism did not exist.
But just because she loved them didn't mean that Kate's team didn't frustrate her at times - and by frustrate, Kate mostly meant to say that she sometimes wanted to punch their well-meaning little faces.
Such was the case after a particularly vicious battle with an especially well-equipped gas station thief (who, Kate would like to point out for the record, her team totally caught.)
"I am going to be fine, Billy," Kate said through gritted teeth as she carefully withdrew her arm from his hand.
"But ... "Billy bit his lip and Kate felt a momentary pang of guilt for wanting to punch him, because he always looked so remorseful for arguing with her decisions. Unlike some people on her team.
"But you've been coughing through the entire battle," Teddy said gently. "Maybe you should let him try the healing spell one more time, Kate."
"I've been letting him try for twenty minutes. I still have a cold and I am still very, very tired," Kate said, struggling to pretend she had anything resembling patience. "And I'm cold. Did I mention cold? Because I feel that it is an important factor in this discussion."
"Sorry," Billy said sheepishly. "My powers still ..."
"Your powers are fantastic when they work and not your fault when they don't," Kate said firmly. She gave his shoulder a squeeze, and didn't wince when the action tugged at her ribs.
Okay, maybe her "cold" was a little more serious than a little flu.
"At least let us take you home?" Teddy suggested.
"It won't be as much fun as riding on Cassie's shoulder down the street, but it might be less bumpy of a ride," Billy said optimistically.
"And besides, Cassie isn't here. She and some of our silly teammates are doing sensible things like having family dinners," Kate answered with mock scoff in her voice. But she would never judge Cassie for getting her father back and enjoying that time together, because Kate would have traded almost anything for just one more moment with her mother.
"Yeah, and I still can't believe that Tommy's gotten so close with 'Uncle Pete.' It's really kind of scary," Billy replied.
"Don't stop being afraid, Billy. We need to remain vigilant for the sake of humanity," Kate said solemnly.
"And for your sake, we need to remain vigilant on the flight home," Teddy said pointedly.
Yup, sometimes she really wanted to hit them.
She would have argued with them, for the record, but the deep sigh she gave them actually hurt, so she figured an actual argument was going to be even more painful.
To be honest, all she wanted to do was go home, take some Robitussin and crawl into bed until it took hold. So instead of fighting, she offered a compromise.
"You can give me a ride. But not to my place, exactly."
Kate stood on the fire escape of Clint's apartment and watched her friends fly off safely. They were kind of ridiculously adorable with their affection and she watched them until she couldn't tell that they were kissing in flight, before she went into the apartment.
Crawling through the window was a really bad, really painful idea.
"Bad night?" Clint asked, once she'd managed to stop trying to hack up a lung.
"Look who is talking. Who did you run into, the Sentry? You look terrible." And he really did, because there was no other way to describe a face with that many shades of black and blue.
"Gee, thanks. That's just what every guy wants to hear."
"It's not my fault you look like you are trying to make your face match your costume." Kate smirked as she plopped down on the couch bedside him.
She was pretty sure that she was never, ever moving from that spot. At some point in the future, she might even apologize to Clint for the time she'd mocked his tacky leopard print sofa, because he'd been right - it was the most comfortable thing she'd ever sat on.
"Maybe I am, Hawkette."
"Or maybe the universe is trying to give you the hint to get back in your old costume," Kate offered. She took the time to blow her nose before she continued, "Back into the one where you don't look like you are impersonating a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent."
"You're full of funny tonight, Bishop," Clint said gruffly.
"I'd be more full of funny if my wonderful boyfriend would get up and get me my cough medicine," Kate suggested pointedly.
"You took the last of it last night," Clint reminded, and Kate would have cursed - at Clint, at herself for not remembering to pick up a new supply, at the Kleenex for not being nearly as soft as they advertised, and quite possibly the universe at large for having germs.
But her epic cursing fit was interrupted by a much more epic coughing fit, which prevented her from verbally expressing her outrage.
While she coughed, Clint rubbed gentle circles in the middle of her back. When she was done, he smiled at her and reached over the sofa's arm to grab a Walgreen's bag. "Fortunately, your fantastic boyfriend stopped at the drugstore on his way home and picked you up some more."
"My boyfriend is pretty fantastic. I'll have to remember to thank him when I see him again," Kate teased as she opened the bottle.
She wasn't sure it would do much good at this point, because she was beginning to suspect she had pneumonia. But all she really wanted to do right now was sleep and if there was nothing else Robitussin could do, it could knock her out.
"You really should," Clint agreed solemnly. "When you can give him thank-you-kisses without making him physically ill."
Kate stuck her tongue out at him before downing her cough medicine. "I don't think I can get up from this couch."
"I could carry you," Clint offered. At her glare, he reconsidered that suggestion. "Or you could just use me as the comfortable pillow that I am and we can hang out here on the couch and watch some bad tv."
"Sounds like a plan." Kate toed off her boots and curled her feet up, lying her head on his chest. At his wince, she looked up at him with concern. "Too sore?"
"Move about an inch to the right and two inches down," Clint instructed.
Kate wriggled into place. "Better?"
Clint slipped his arm into place - always careful not to wrap around her from behind, though Kate had only mentioned it once and never mentioned why. "Absolutely, Hawkette."
"Thanks, by the way. Not just for the cough syrup, but for not acting like I was going to break because I had a cough."
"Your teammates driving you crazy?"
"You could say that."
"Not their fault, Kate-girl. It's what people with powers do. They don't know any better."
"So it's not ever going to get any better? They're going to hover like that forever?"
"Except the ones that go insane and try to destroy the world, yup."
"Comforting. I'm pretty sure this is where you are supposed to lie to me and promise they'll grow some sense," Kate protested.
"I never lie to my girlfriend. She'd kick my ass," Clint said solemnly. "But I tell you what. If they get too annoying, we can go steal us some Pym Particles and give you awesome powers."
"This is a ploy to get you a giant vagina to walk through, isn't it?"
"My kinks are the best kinks, Kate, and you know it."
Kate started to laugh, but ended up coughing instead. "No laughing," she said firmly. "My throat hurts too much for that."
"Then go to sleep, Hawkette, and when you wake up, maybe you'll feel more up to me tickling your funny bone... and other parts."
Kate rolled her eyes before closing them. She gave a faint protest as Clint moved to reach for the remote, and he responded by rubbing circles in the center of her back again.
It was a lovely sensation, and it lulled Kate to sleep by the second commercial.