“Hey, Cap,” Clint says, casually. “Natasha and I are gonna be gone next weekend. I already cleared it with Fury. Think you can hold off anything that might come up?”
“Yeah,” Steve says, automatically. He realizes this is the equivalent to asking for a day off, which is not something that’s typically done in this line of business. “Not a problem,” he says, as Clint shifts awkwardly. “I won’t let Tony poke anything.”
Clint smiles slightly. “And if Natasha asks, don’t let her…”
“Don’t let her…” Steve repeats back to him, not following.
“Don’t let her get out of it,” Clint says, finally.
“Get out of what?”
Clint takes a deep breath. “I’m taking her to meet my family and I think she’s nervous.”
“Oh,” says Steve, and grins widely.
Clint blinks at him, grimacing.
“I knew it,” Steve says, finally. “I knew you were dating.”
Not the same type of dating that Steve was familiar with, but dating all the same. Tony makes fun of him, but this hadn’t gotten by him.
“Yeah,” Clint says, smile turning tight. “Well, thanks for your discretion. Thanks for not being Tony.”
“What did Tony do?” asks Steve, not sure he wants to know.
Clint shakes his head. “He’s a pervert,” he says, deciding Steve really doesn’t want to know. “Don’t mention it to him, either?”
“I won’t,” Steve promises. He’s going to ask Tony what he did, later. Chances are likely Clint said nothing and Natasha, if she had any reaction, resorted to violence. Maybe he can talk Tony into leaving them alone.
“And don’t let Natasha send herself on any missions next weekend,” Clint repeats.
“Got it,” Steve says.
Clint continues to stare at him. “Maybe, don’t talk to Natasha at all,” he says, finally.
“She’s not going to trick me,” Steve says, catching on.
Clint doesn’t answer, and has started to look worried.
Natasha is nervous. He’s never seen her be anything but calm and controlled. The cracks in her façade are tiny, but he knows her well enough to see them. Unfortunately, Tony sees them, too. And Tony is poking her in them. Steve tries to run interference, but they’re both being so mean – and then violent – that he leaves to find Clint. Except that Clint has disappeared. Steve asks Bruce to come help him keep the peace, and Bruce raises an eyebrow.
“You really think I’m the guy for that job?”
“Uh,” Steve says, “right, sorry.”
Thor isn’t around, and Clint might as well be on Asgard, too, for how well he’s hiding. When Steve returns to check on them later to make sure no one’s dead, it’s over. There’s a broken bar stool, but no blood.
Natasha is curled up on the couch with a bottle of vodka in one hand and a shot glass in the other. Tony is in the arm chair with a bunch of his tablets, his beloved holographic screens projected around the room.
Steve enters the room and stops in confusion.
“Hi,” he says, slowly.
“Down in front,” Tony orders.
Awkwardly, Steve slinks across the room and sits next to Natasha. She offers him the bottle of vodka, and he shakes his head.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
“Recon,” Tony answers, smiling brightly.
“Recon on what?”
Natasha takes another shot, mostly so she won’t have to answer him, he thinks.
“The family of one Agent Barton,” Tony crows. He’s delighted. And he sounds drunk.
Steve looks at Natasha, who avoids eye contact.
“You missed the tour of the homestead,” Tony tells him. “Let’s just say, rustic and adorable. You’d love it.”
“I’m from Brooklyn,” he reminds him. Everyone always forgets.
Tony ignores him. He starts flipping through images, sending them flying across the screens. Half of the pictures are of Clint.
“Okay,” he begins. “Let’s start here. What can you tell us about this fine young man?” He looks at Natasha hopefully.
Natasha glares at him, then sips directly out of her bottle.
“Fine,” Tony says, when she refuses to participate. “Nothing in the public domain on him, anyway. Lots in the private, though.”
He proves this by tossing up an image of Clint wandering naked down one of the hallways of Stark Tower. Tony immediately ducks, and Natasha’s shot glass sails harmless over his head.
“Moving on,” Tony says, shoving the image aside. “Mommy and Daddy Barton.” An image of a handsome older couple replaces the one of Clint’s backside. “Stephanie and James,” Tony says. “Both retired, and I bet they spend their days puttering around…” He takes in Natasha’s expression, and changes his tack. “Stephanie was a nurse and James used to be a cop. James’ maiden name, ahem, had three vowels and thirteen consonants. He took her name. Manly.”
Steve thinks Clint looks like his dad. His mom has finer features and dark hair. She’s pretty, but Steve doesn’t say that out loud, even though he means it harmlessly. He knows better.
More images fly across the screen. “Stephanie likes gardening, skeet shooting, and doting on her grandchildren,” Tony narrates. “James likes scotch, football, and calling in noise complaints about the neighbors.”
“They look nice,” Steve tells Natasha, who has shrunk into the couch, but at least stopped taking such frequent sips of vodka.
“So wholesome,” Tony agrees. “Clint’s brother Carter and his lovely wife Allison, and their three children: Megan, Caitlyn, and baby Amy.” He looks at Natasha. “You’re way behind. I bet Stephanie would like you better if you showed up pregnant.”
Natasha doesn’t rise to the provocation, which makes Tony sulk.
“Uncle Howie lives across town,” Tony continues. “Stephanie’s younger brother. He took Agent Barton on picturesque hunting trips as a child, where they bonded over killing Bambi together.”
“Clint told me about him,” Natasha says, then realizes she’s validating Tony’s ridiculous presentation and shuts up. “Go on.”
“Want me to go into first cousins?” Tony asks. “There’s some fruit and nuts in the extended family tree branches. But both sets of grandparents are taking dirt naps already.”
He brings up two black and white pictures, the kind that Steve still prefers. “James’ mom and pops: Catherine and John with the very Polish surname I’m not going to even try. John was in the army with you; recognize him, Steve?”
Steve shakes his head. “Do you know how many people were in the army with me?” he asks Tony.
“I don’t care,” Tony says. He brings up another old picture: “Margaret and Clinton Barton.”
All of a sudden, Steve can’t breathe. He barely hears Tony taking more shots at him: “Clinton Sr. was in the Navy during the old W two, they let him be a Marine.”
Steve doesn’t know Clinton Sr. He knows Margaret Barton. But her name was Peggy Carter when he knew her. And he’d known she was gone. He’d asked Fury in the beginning. It’d been seventy years, of course she was gone. But her picture is right there, and she’s young and vital even in shades of grey.
“Are you okay?” Natasha asks him, looking at him strangely.
“I’m fine.” Steve forces himself to get under control. “Named after his grandfather, that’s nice.” He swallows. “They seem like a very nice, normal family.”
“I wonder where the hell Clint came from,” Tony says. “He’s not adopted. I checked.”
A finger motion sends the picture of Peggy flying into nothingness. Steve forces himself not to react.
For two people who have shared a great deal of vodka, Tony and Natasha proceed to have a surprisingly coherent discussion about Natasha’s cover ID – Tasha Romalova – and the other lies she has to tell Clint’s family.
Steve excuses himself, since they aren’t at each others’ throats anymore. He doesn’t have any advice on how to meet your boyfriend’s family in the 21st century.
He runs into Clint, who has come out of hiding, on his way upstairs. Clint actually grabs him, because Steve almost trips and fall.
“You okay, Cap?” Clint asks, steadying him on a step.
“Uh,” Steve says. “Yeah, thanks,”
Clint slowly lets go of him.
“They’re downstairs,” Steve says. “Alive. But drunk.”
Clint nods and heads that way. “Thanks,” he says.
Steve watches him go. His breath catches in his throat again. Clint Barton is Peggy’s grandson. He can’t wrap his mind around it. The way he still has trouble believing that more than half a century has passed, and that Peggy’s gone. He never thought about her life after he was gone. Of course, she had a family.
It shouldn’t make him sad, but it does. Steve hurries up to his room before anyone can catch him weeping on the stairs.
He’s always thought of Peggy as having left him. She was gone when he woke up. Fury told him she’d passed away thirteen years before they thawed him. Steve had never thought about the fact that he’d left her, seventy years earlier. He’d never asked anyone about her life after his crash. He should have.
Steve wants to look at her again, suddenly. If Tony can pull up Clint’s entire family tree, he should be able to find it on the internet, too.
If he knew how to use the internet. He doesn’t.
Tony has given him dozens of electronic gadgets and obnoxiously suggested that using them is a requirement of modern life. Steve has never had the time or inclination to learn how. The desktop computer is the most familiar to him, mostly because it has a keyboard. That’s the part Steve recognizes and understands.
Pepper gave him some hand-written instructions on how to turn each object on , but he’s lost beyond that. Then he finds out everything is password protected, anyway. He has no idea what the password is. He tries his name. He tries “Captain America.” He tries “Tony Stark” and “Iron Man.”
None of those work.
Steve is left frustrated and tightly wound. He really, really doesn’t want to ask Tony. He doesn’t want to ask JARVIS, either, because Tony will find out. He cannot deal with Tony Stark right now.
So, he waits until he thinks everyone has gone to bed, or at least retreated to separate parts of the tower. Then he sneaks out of his room to find someone who will help him and be nice about it.
Steve finds Bruce in his lab, after getting no response from his bedroom. Bruce doesn’t sleep that much.
“Hey,” Bruce says, when Steve enters. “What’s up?”
“Um, are you busy?” Steve asks.
“Not really. What do you need?”
Steve takes a deep breath. “I was wondering if you could help me use the internet. I don’t really know how.”
“Sure,” Bruce says, instantly, without the hour of taunting Tony would have taken. “Tony gave you a computer, right?”
“He gave me a bunch of stuff,” Steve admits. “I don’t know how to use any of it.”
“Well, what do you want to do on the internet?” Bruce asks. “Send e-mail? Buy something? Look at pictures of naked ladies,” he adds, softly.
His face probably turns bright red. “No!” Steve says. Softer, “I want to look someone up.”
“Okay,” Bruce says. He brings up a holographic screen with a search bar in it.
“Someone dead,” Steve says. “She’s not alive, anymore,” he stumbles on. “I just want to see what happened to her.”
“This is Tony’s internet,” Bruce says. “So it’s the normal internet plus everything he’s hacked into because he felt like it. You should be able to find anyone, alive or dead.”
“Her name is Peggy Carter,” Steve forces himself to say. “Wait. I think, I mean her name was Margaret Carter. And after she got married, Barton.”
Bruce’s face flickers. “I can search for all those combinations,” he says, and gives a friendly smile.
“Thanks,” Steve says, tensely. He waits for more questions, but Bruce just types.
“There are a lot of results,” he says, and Steve can already see a tiny picture of Peggy’s face among them. “Do you want me to send the files to your computer?”
“I couldn’t figure out how to use it,” Steve admits. “I turned it on, but there’s a password.”
“Did you try “password” as the password?” Bruce asks.
“Try that,” Bruce says. “Tony set that as a default for you.”
“Okay,” says Steve. “Thanks.”
“Come back if you need any help,” Bruce offers. “Everything should be right on the screen. Just click it.”
“I will.” Steve starts to leave, then turns back. “Can you not mention this to Tony?”
“Not a problem,” Bruce says. “Good night.”
Steve stays up most of the night, reading.
Seventy years of records. A lot of it looks classified. He wonders if the US Government knows Tony has these.
He finds out Peggy stayed with SSR until just after the war. She also got married, three months after Steve’s ‘death.’ To this Barton guy, who she met through SSR.
That stings more than it should. It wouldn’t have mattered how long she’d waited. She couldn’t make her life last long enough to see him again.
They made her leave SSR after she had a baby. He finds her excoriating letter of complaint. It’s one of the few documents that’s by her, not about her. He reads it and can hear her voice, inside his head. It doesn’t really make him sad, though, because she’s so righteously angry.
He wonders if Clint Barton, Sr. wanted her to stay home and be mom to his kids. Steve doesn’t know anything about this guy. Except he’s dead, too. And his grandson is a creepy – if nice – sniper.
Steve takes a deep breath and shuts those thoughts down. Clint is a friend and a teammate. If he can work with Howard Stark’s bonkers son, he can work with Peggy’s comparably mild-mannered grandson. He likes Clint.
He wonders if Clint knows he has his grandmother’s sharpshooting skills. It’d be weird to tell him, probably.
Peggy went back to SSR in the early 70’s. That makes Steve smile. He’s glad she got to go back.
It’s the early hours of the morning, now. Steve’s eyes are sore from reading the screen. But he’s not tired. He’s tense and wound up.
Quietly, Steve slips out of his room. He heads for the work-out space Tony has ceded to him. They haven’t found a bag he can’t shortly destroy. Tony could probably make him one. He hasn’t, though. Just told him to use the weird electronic and holographic stuff Tony uses, but Steve doesn’t like those. It doesn’t relax him the way the heavy bag does.
He’s half way there when a shadow in the hallway catches his eye. In Stark Tower, it’s either a friend or an enemy who’s going to try to kill them all, and nothing in between.
“Hello?” Steve calls.
Natasha steps out where he can see her.
“Where are you going?” she asks, sounding abruptly sober. He wonders exactly how much she was drinking, earlier.
“Work-out room,” he says. “Where are you going?”
He asks because she’s fully dressed in one of her typical black get-ups, the kind that’s useful for sneaking around.
“A mission,” Natasha says. She is an excellent liar. “SHIELD needs a Russian-speaker deployed to –”
“No, they don’t,” Steve interrupts. Natasha frowns at him. “You already have a mission,” he tries. “You did research and everything.”
Natasha just blinks at him, her posture rigid. She thinks she looks impassive; he thinks she looks terrified.
“Come on,” he says. “Clint really wants you to stay. He asked me not to talk to you because he thinks you’re going to trick me into giving you orders to spend the weekend in Siberia.”
Natasha doesn’t deny her ability to do that. “Please don’t,” he adds. “Look, take it from someone who doesn’t have anyone. You should go.”
After a second, Natasha speaks. “I don’t have anyone, either,” she says. “I don’t have anyone for him to meet.” She pauses. “I don’t have anyone,” she repeats.
“Maybe you will after this weekend,” Steve says, and he means it.
Natasha absorbs his words silently, before nodding and slipping back into the darkness. He hopes that means she’s going to stay. He thinks Peggy would have liked her. Found her scary in the same way Steve does, but liked her. Or maybe Peggy wouldn’t have been scared. Peggy had intimidated a lot of people, herself.
Steve starts throwing punches, but his mind is decades from the bag swinging before him.
There’s no sign of Clint and Natasha that weekend. Steve hopes they went to see Clint’s family, but he doesn’t know. Despite sharing a home base, they can go quite a while without seeing each other. It’s the only reason this arrangement works without anyone murdering anyone else, and they all know that.
Steve keeps reading the cache of material on Peggy that Bruce downloaded for him. He likes looking at the pictures, but most of the text is professional and about her SSR work. Other than images, which show she only got more beautiful as she aged, there’s not much in there that’s personal.
He wishes there were a way to print out a picture. There probably is, but he’d have to ask Tony or Bruce, and even Bruce would probably start asking questions. Tony loves his holographic screens so much, there’s not very much paper in the house.
Finally, Steve decides he needs to the put the files away. There’s nothing magically cathartic in there. He doesn’t need to dwell on the past, and looking at Peggy’s face so often certainly qualifies. Also, he doesn’t know how to change the screen very quickly, and it’s only a matter of time before someone sneaks up on him.
That someone, of course, is Tony.
Steve hits the off button and the screen turns black.
“Hey gramps,” Tony says, and grins at him. “Are you looking at porn?”
Involuntarily, Steve feels his cheeks flame. He ignores both the greeting and the accusation.
“You said I should learn how to use computers,” is all he says.
“I did, but I never gave you any kind of guidance on safe usage.” Steve stares at him. “It’s a lot like the sex talk, but you know how the birds and the bees work, right? The USO covered that, I hope. “
It’s like Tony really, really wants Steve to hit him.
“Stark, you’re a pervert. I’m not. I don’t use machines to meet my needs.”
“Ouch,” Tony says. “That was kind of mean. You’re getting better at that.”
“Is there a reason you’re in my room?”
One of their agreements was about staying out of each other’s rooms. This almost exclusively applied to Tony, who claimed it was his building so he could go wherever he wanted. And to Thor, who didn’t really get Earthling social boundaries. And to Natasha, who didn’t like being told she couldn’t go places almost as much as she liked challenging Stark’s security system.
“The lovebirds came back this morning,” Tony says. “I think it went well. They’re still acting, you know, gross.”
“Gross?” Clint and Natasha haven’t even held hands in anyone’s presence, as far as he knows. He can publically touch her without bleeding, but that’s about it.
“Intimate. Monogamous. Gross,” Tony explains.
“Hrm.” Steve decides to make noncommittal noises until Tony leaves. That sometimes works, except when it makes Tony worse.
Tony tilts his head, then dramatically taps his foot. He rolls his eyes and crosses his arms, like Steve should be doing something.
“So, are you going to tell him?” Tony asks.
“Tell who what?”
“You’re a terrible liar,” Tony tells him.
“You’re a terrible person,” Steve retorts. “What did Bruce tell you, anyway?”
“Bruce?” Tony laughs. “I knew you had help.”
“I’m going to kill him,” Steve mutters. “In a gentle, non-enraging way.”
“Good luck with that,” Tony says. “Bruce didn’t tell me anything. I have security protocols that record everything accessed through my server.” Steve blinks at him. “You don’t understand that.” Steve shakes his head. “I know exactly what you were looking at last night,” Tony simplifies for him. “Think about that when you’re looking for porn. I’m going to see it.”
Steve stands up, infuriated. “Does the word privacy mean anything to you?”
Tony takes a tiny step backwards, but he doesn’t look scared. “There’s no such thing on the internet, that’s part of the safety lecture you didn’t want to hear.” Before Steve can respond, Tony continues, “And also as I have some very recent experiences with some trusted people betraying me, I like to keep a close eye on my house.”
“You think I’m a security risk?” Steve demands.
“No.” Tony holds up his index finger. “And…I don’t personally monitor anything.” He trails off, and looks oddly chastised. “But JARVIS told me what you were looking at, and then he told me why, and if you don’t tell Clint, I probably will. I’m not real good with secrets, you may have noticed.”
Steve squints, realizing Tony is actually apologizing. Or as close as he can get.
“You’re warning me?” he asks.
“It’s going to come out eventually,” Tony says. “I can’t stop me.” He pauses. “Besides, don’t you want to…” he stops.
“No,” Steve says. “I don’t. It’s the past. It’s seventy years ago. Everyone’s dead.”
“Except,” Tony begins. “You know.”
“Do you not realize?” Tony asks, possibly rhetorically, because Steve isn’t following him. “You didn’t figure it out.”
“Yeah, I did. It just doesn’t matter.”
“I’m going to leave,” Tony says.
“Good,” says Steve.
“But I’m coming back,” Tony continues. “I need backup.”
Tony doesn’t come back. He leaves Steve alone for a few blessed days. Things go back to normal. He sees Natasha and Clint, separately, in passing, and they act the same. Bruce engages him in harmless conversation about whether or not he likes the internet. Steve says no, though mostly he means he doesn’t like Tony Stark.
Then, Tony has him paged. JARVIS asks Steve to come to Tony’s office, which is the room with Tony’s desk in it, not the place Tony has to act like an adult or a professional or anything. So, Steve doesn’t go. But Tony keeps pestering him, through various electronics Steve didn’t even know were installed in his room. He rips half of them out of the wall, but even when he silences JARVIS, the beeping continues.
Bruce knocks on his door and tells him he can hear the noises in his lab and that it’s really irritating.
So for everyone’s safety, Steve reports as summoned to Tony’s office. He hopes Tony will be wearing the Iron Man suit so Steve won’t feel bad about hitting him.
Tony isn’t in the suit. He also isn’t alone. Pepper Potts is with him, and she smiles warmly when Steve enters.
“Tony would like to apologize for his behavior,” Pepper says, as Steve crosses the room. Tony grunts, and shakes his head.
“Your bells and whistles almost brought out the Other Guy,” Steve warns Tony.
“Noted,” says Tony. “Maybe you should have just come when I asked you nicely.”
“Alright,” Pepper interrupts. “Steve, do you know why we’ve asked you here?”
“No,” Steve says, honestly.
“Tony told me,” says Pepper. “About what you were viewing.”
“And I said it doesn’t matter and he threatened to tell Clint something that doesn’t matter…”
“Not threatened,” Tony says. “Warned as inevitable.”
“We don’t think you understood what you read,” Pepper says, gently. “About your…friend…Peggy.”
“She’s dead,” Steve says, tiredly. He really doesn’t understand. Tony has obviously called Pepper here to be the voice of reason and sensitivity, which he does appreciate. Doesn’t understand, though, and finds it bizarre that Tony actually made that kind of judgment call.
“Clint Barton is her grandson,” Tony says, pointedly.
“Okay,” Pepper says. “Why don’t you think that matters?”
Tony interrupts before Steve can answer. “Steve, Clint Barton is your grandson.”
“What?” Steve says, automatically.
“Tony, be quiet,” Pepper orders. “Steve, Peggy got married very shortly after your supposed death.”
“I read that,” Steve says. “Most guys got married as soon as they got out of the service,” he tells them, since they really might not know.
“Did you see when Stephanie Barton was born?” Tony asks. Pepper shushes him.
“Try four months after her parents married,” Tony continues. Pepper actually swats him.
“You called me here for a reason,” she says. “Let me do it.” She looks earnestly at Steve. “Peggy was pregnant before she ever met Barton,” Pepper says. “You probably remember what social views on unwed mothers were, then.”
Steve just nods.
“You and she, had, you know…” Tony prompts. He returns Pepper’s glare. “It’s important!”
They’re both staring at him, so Steve nods again.
“Well, then,” Tony says.
“Peggy was in a situation,” Pepper says, gently.
“And Clint’s namesake was either really bad at math,” Tony says, “or he was in on it.”
“Stephanie,” he says.
“Is your daughter,” Pepper says.
“She’s also named after you,” Tony says, “in case you didn’t catch that.”
Pepper reaches out and puts a hand on Steve’s arm. “And she’s alive.”
“You’re right,” says Steve. “I didn’t figure that out.”
In seems like it takes less that 24-hours before everyone else in the building hears the news. Everyone except Clint, that is. And maybe Natasha. It’s hard to tell with her. She absorbs information so stealthily, she could be telepathic. No one actually says anything to her, but Steve thinks she finds out after Bruce. Tony told Bruce because they ran into him in the hallway right afterwards, and Tony has no concept of self-control. Pepper scolds him, but Tony did warn him this would happen.
“Congratulations,” Bruce says, genuinely.
“What?” Steve says, still stunned.
“You’re a father,” he says. “And a grandfather.”
“To a seventy-something year old woman,” Steve says. “And…Clint.”
“Bouncing baby sniper,” says Tony.
“I wasn’t there,” Steve says to Bruce.
Bruce claps him on the arm. “You’re here now.”
Someone tells Thor when he drops in for his weekly visit, which means that Steve has until Thor’s next visit to tell Clint unless he wants an alien God with a very poor understanding of human relations to do it for him.
And there’s the chance that Natasha and Clint have a relationship based on honesty and trust, and she’s going to tell him first, if she hasn’t already. He doesn’t have much time.
Everyone clears out of Steve’s way. He’s shocked Tony doesn’t insist on being present so he can butt in constantly. But they all vanish, taking Natasha with them. Clint is a little curious where they all are, but accepts that Steve doesn’t know – he doesn’t – and sits down on the couch to watch a movie.
The movie is loud and fast, full of bright colors and fast cuts. Steve doesn’t like it. But there’s shootings and explosions, so Clint enjoys it. Steve watches Clint’s face. He tries to see himself in it, but he doesn’t. He tries to see Peggy, and can’t. He just sees Clint.
Steve waits until Clint pauses the movie to refill his popcorn.
“How’d your weekend go?” he asks, quietly.
“Good,” Clint says, returning to the couch with his snacks. “She came with me,” he says, contentedly.
“She tricked Tony into doing recon on your family,” Steve says, before Clint can restart the movie.
Clint laughs, lowly. “Yeah, I know.”
“There was a presentation, screens and everything. Lots of pictures,” Steve says, rushing on. “Um, I recognized someone.”
Clint looks at him, face vaguely curious.
“Your grandmother, Peggy Carter. Peggy Barton.”
“You knew Nana?” Clint says, sounding interested.
“I served with her,” Steve says. “And we, uh, dated.”
Clint coughs a little. “Oh,” he says.
“We were dating when, um, she got pregnant with your mom.”
Now Clint is just staring at him, silent.
“That’s what I could tell just from the dates on the documents,” Steve continues. “And, also, Tony did a DNA test without asking permission. I’m not sure what that is, but he says it was positive.”
“Your mom’s father,” Steve says. “Your grandfather. And I just wanted to tell you before you found out from someone else.”
“Tony?” Clint guesses.
Clint puts his chin in his hands. “I did not know that,” he says, after a moment.
“Neither did I,” Steve offers. “Until I saw her.”
“Huh,” says Clint, and decides to stare at Steve, intently. “Did Pop-Pop know?”
“They didn’t teach us a lot about babies back then,” Steve says. “But even men knew it takes 9 months, not 6.”
“Yeah,” Clint agrees. “Mom really loved him. She named me after him. He was a good guy. ”
“Good,” Steve says, and he means it. He means it so much. “I’m glad.”
“Did you want to meet her?” Clint asks, without set up.
Steve doesn’t answer immediately, the question too unexpected. He shrugs. “We can’t tell her anything,” he says. “But I’d like to,” and he’s genuinely surprised by how much it hits him that he really, really does want to meet her.
Clint shakes his head. “I tell her stuff. She can keep a secret. Nana told her lots of classified stuff from the war. She might know about you.”
“Okay,” Steve says, before he thinks about it. “I’d like to meet her, if it’s okay with you.”
“Fine by me.” Clint reaches out to restart the movie. “Do I have to start calling you Pop-Pop?”
Tony lends them a luxury car belonging to Stark Industries for the drive. Or Pepper does. One of them is apologizing for the field day Tony is having with this, and how many times he’s managed to call Steve a ‘motherfucker’. It’s plush and spacious, plenty of room for the three of them. Natasha joins Steve and Clint. Probably of her own freewill, since Steve doesn’t catch her trying to bolt the night before. She doesn’t look nervous, either, but she offers Steve a shot of vodka from the car’s mini-bar.
“No thanks,” he says.
He watches her subtly examining his face in the rear-view mirror, then looking at Clint. She doesn’t say if she sees any resemblance.
“You were wrong, before,” she says. “You have people.” It’s quiet enough, Clint doesn’t hear. Or he’s just taciturn enough to let it go by. “Now you have more.”
“So do you,” he says, since they’re going to be hers, too.
~please feed the author~