Once again the Avengers (plus Darcy this time, instead of Pepper) are gathered in their living room. And once again Tony is waving his drink incredulously.
"No, seriously. Who would be dumb enough to reproduce with you?"
It isn't quite the way that Clint had imagined his teammates would react to the news that he's now a father. It's really quite hurtful, and he mentions as much before throwing himself on the couch next to Natasha to pout.
"You really can't blame them," Natasha--the traitor--says without bothering to look up from her crossword. "You don't have the best track record with kids."
"I am great with kids. Remember that time when I had to take care of those kids when the park was attacked--"
"You mean the time that you accidentally took the kids to see their mother's body before anyone had told them she was dead?"
Clint slumps down. "That was...not my fault. Someone should have told me. They were scared and wanted to see their mom. How was I supposed to know that she was dead?"
Steve, looking vaguely horrified, quickly clamps a hand over Tony's mouth before he can say anything.
"So now that we've all been enlightened by that terrifying insight into what you're like with kids, when do we get to meet yours?" Darcy asks. "I'd like to meet the little guy before you kill him. Or her. Is it a boy or a girl?"
"I'm not going to kill my kids!"
"Wait a minute, Clint. Did you say kids? As in more than one?"
Steve's horror quickly makes its way around the rest of the team.
"So you have twins?" Darcy tries looking excited and fails miserably. "That's...cool." And terrifying
"I'm actually not sure. They all kind of look alike. I guess some of them might be twins? It's hard to tell."
Natasha sniggers into her paper. Everyone else contemplates calling Children's Protective Services.
The sound of a single duckling comes just before Coulson enters the room, followed by two very straight lines of ducklings marching in what can only be called a military manner. All of them are quiet, save for a single duckling toward the back of one of the rows.
"Barton! Get your duck. He keeps interrupting my work."
Clint scowls at him from the couch. "Oh, I see. So it's my duck when he's bothering you, but otherwise I shouldn't get attached, huh?"
"It's always your duck, Barton. That's why it's so unruly. None of the others have a problem being quiet."
"And let me guess, they're all your ducks. Did you ever think that maybe he's acting out because he wants your attention?"
"Barton. Duck. Now."
"You are a terrible mother," Clint says, scooping up the little quacking ball of fluff at the end of the line. "Come on, Duck-eye. It's okay. Daddy's here. You don't have to spend anymore time with your mean old mommy."
"I've already told you, you are not naming that duck after you. It's already bad enough. And stop calling me mommy."
Tony and Bruce are geniuses and figure it out while everyone is still trying to connect the dots between Clint's new fatherhood and him calling Phil mommy and little ducklings.
"Wait a minute--those are your kids?"
"When you said kids, did you mean ducks?"
And then Darcy squeals and scoops up several fluffy ducklings over Coulson's protestations of ruining their training. Thor claps Clint and Coulson on their backs with loud, congratulatory shouts, before launching into a tale about the first time his brother gave birth. No one wants to think about it.
Coulson and the ducks join them in the living room at Thor's behest so that they can all meet the cause of Clint's new-found insanity. It's obvious which ducks have been named by Clint and which have been named by Coulson. It's also obvious who's the better parent.
"This is Joseph," Clint says, lifting one of the ducklings.
"Edith," Coulson corrects.
"And this is Ben."
"This one's Donut."
"Yes, dear?" Clint smiles at Coulson. Coulson glares back.
"That's Sweetie, not Donut." Coulson picks up a different duck. "This one is Donut." Coulson finishes the introductions, although none of them are quite sure how he tells all the ducks apart. They're introduced to Steve, Edith, Donald, Donut, Tara, Robert, Annie, Jim, Mr. Quacks, Duckie, Beth, Cait, Joseph, Jacques, Chris, Lala, Eggster, Lowell, Penny, Sophie, Ben, Adam, Dean, Bob, Spike, Amara, Sweetie, Senor Taco II, Natasha, and--
"Duck-eye," Clint says grinning.
"Dodger," Coulson corrects. "You are not naming that duck after yourself."
"You named one after Steve!"
"That's because I like Steve."
Steve blushes bright red.
"You named one after Natasha."
"We both like Natasha."
The woman in question hasn't looked away from her crossword, but there's a small smile on her face, which could mean that she either already knew they had named a duck after her and liked it, or was about to kill everyone in the room because she had finished her crossword and was bored.
"So you're saying you don't like me?"
Coulson fixes a Look at Clint, similar to the I-Will-Taser-You-And-Then-Watch-Supernanny look with a touch more exasperation and something else that looks dangerously like fondness. "I would think the answer to that would be obvious, Barton."
"We could name one after you, too."
"I don't want a duck named after me."
"Oh, I don't know. Could be pretty awesome," Tony interrupts. "Duck Coulson has a nice ring to it."
"Phil Duckson, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.," Bruce adds, and Coulson's beginning to regret agreeing to Steve's planned team bonding exercises..
"Duck of Coul."
"I want a duck named after me!"
Coulson glares at them. "We are not renaming any of the ducks. Don't even try it. If you confuse them, so help me, you will be buried under so much paperwork you will never leave this building ever again." He stands and snaps once, and all of the ducklings save for Dodger-not-Duck-eye fall into two lines behind him.
He glares at Dodger-not-Duck-eye and says, "We have work to do." The poor bird looks properly chastised and hops off Clint's lap to join his siblings with a quiet quack. "Barton, a word." Clint stands, grinning like an idiot as he joins the military-straight columns of ducks behind Coulson as they file out of the room.
"So...anyone else get the impression that Hawkeye isn't the responsible parent in that family?" Darcy asks.
"I'm a bit concerned by the fact that you ever considered he was in the running for that to begin with," Natasha says.
"Oh come on. He doesn't seem that bad." Natasha hums and Darcy pounces on her. "Oh my god. He is, isn't he? What do you know? What did he do?"
Natasha gives the younger woman a small smile, which could mean anything from "I will not betray my comrade in arms" to "it's a highly classified matter and I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you," before slipping from Darcy's grasp.
None of them are stupid enough to pursue the matter any further. Only Tony is stupid enough to call Coulson mommy to his face, and it only happens once. They all get used to the parade of ducks that follow Coulson (and occasionally Clint) around S.H.I.E.L.D. However, the cute factor of two highly-trained agents raising a brood of ducklings is quickly overcome by the fact that Coulson's trained them to alphabetize in six different languages, and soon the junior agents are whispering in the halls about seeing them dissemble and reassemble various firearms.