Finding a young girl in New York City proved to be harder than S.H.I.E.L.D had expected. The description; blonde, medium height might have been to generic, Director Fury himself admitted to that, but they had managed to keep track of Bruce Banner for over more than two years.
They had found him in Calcutta, New York wasn't India so finding a girl with no gamma induced super powers or who was the daughter of a demigod shouldn't be such a feat. Two weeks Coulson had spent following leads to odd places, as Lucy Moon was an odd name for odd people with odd habits.
S.H.I.E.L.D met up with nighttime dancers, prostitutes, transvestites and old hippie ladies that had changed their names in order to be closer to odd pageant gods. No one had heard of her or even knew in which direction to point. Coulson was frustrated to say the least.
That was until Peter had come up to him, sheepishly grinning, Peter explained that he suddenly remembered that Lucy had once been his chemistry lab partner in his freshman year.
Or might have been, there was no proof that Peters Lucy was the actual Lucy. Coulson, usually calm and collected was tempted to wring Iron man's son's neck.
He calls up Midtown High School, the administration though had no current information on her except the last address ever since she had disappeared.
Coulson is sure that school administrations should be more aware of their students whereabouts, especially when they hadn't even finished school yet. After this summer she was supposed to start her junior year, not run around the city possibly sleeping in a dark alley.
Coulson decids that before barging in on innocent New Yorkers calling the number that Miss Garner had given him was the safer bet. After the first dial tone has passed a young man picked up.
“Speak now and speak fast.” He says in a true New Yorker fashion.
“Phil Coulson speaking, who do I owe the pleasure?” He tries to be as polite as possible but this scoundrel is just straining every bit of patience he has left for this case.
“We are not buying anything or giving out information for surveys...”
He takes a deep breath before carrying on. “Listen here I'm not looking for selling anything, I'm looking for Lucy Moon does she live with you?”
“Lucy? She's not home yet, I'll let her know you called...”
“No need we'll come by later.”
“We? What do you-...”
Agent Coulson snaps his phone shut and turns to Fury. “Found her.”
“She was in Hell's Kitchen the whole time?” Agent Hill asks, her eyebrows raised at the sheer amount of time they would've saved if Peter would've remembered Lucy earlier.
Hell's Kitchen isn't the nicest neighborhood in Manhattan, that is sure. Lucy's apartment though is okay, it was located above a pizzeria and was painted bright red. The door to upstairs was right next to the entrance to the restaurant and smells like old pizza and what Italy might smell like if pasta was fried there.
Coulson has two S.H.I.E.L.D agents with him in tow and he feels like he is on his way to take in a criminal. He knocks on an also red painted door and waits for almost five minutes. Then presumably the young man he had talked to opens up, he looks unprepared and disheveled by sleep. Like he hadn’t expected them to really come.
“Agent Coulson.” He says and holds out his hand for the boy to shake.
He looks at it for a moment and then back at the two agents behind Coulson, they had guns in their holsters and wore a general look of no nonsense.
“Lucy!” He calls turning his back only slightly, still eying the three agents. “There is someone at the door for you, I think you angered the FBI.” He trails off and turns back to Coulson.
“Just wait a second she'll be here in no time.” He retreats back into the apartment and leaves them alone.
A few seconds later Lucy appears at the door. Coulson can immediately see the similarities between her and her father, the same shade of blonde hair, same statue and maybe even the same lips but how would Coulson really know that.
“Hi.” She says warily.
“Hello Lucy.” He says much gentler than he had talked to the other guy. “I'm agent Coulson we've been looking for you for awhile now.”
Her green eyes grow big, panic seemed to rise in her.
“A-agent? Of what?” She asks her hands wringing together.
“Before I answer that question I would like to talk to you.”
“Do-, do you want to come inside?” She offers taking a step back inviting them in. “But um those guns? They are pretty unsettling. Can I get a guarantee that these won’t be fired here?”
Coulson smiles. “I’m sure there is no need for firing a gun.” He gives a quick nod to Agent Donovan who takes his place outside the door.
Lucy looked at him questioningly and then walked to the sofa motioning for the two agents to follow. Coulson notices that her home has the homely feel of a student’s apartment, no parent seems to be present, this is no home for a sixteen year old.
As she sits on the worn leather sofa, Lucy looks at Coulson for a moment and then shifts uncomfortably, waiting.
“I’m with S.H.I.E.L.D a freelance organization that operates in secret missions. We are here for the national safety.”
She looks confused and then asks: “What do I have to do with the national safety?”
“We also take care of minor affairs of our Agents.” He informs her, he watches as her face splits into a frown.
“Does that mean I am a minor affair of one of your agents? Who do I know in S.H.I.E.L.D? What did I do?”
He holds up his hands arbitrating, calming her slightly it seems. “I presume you don’t know any Agents except us now and I don’t think you did anything or we would have it in your file.”
“Wait, wait! I’ve got a file? I’ve known you for five minutes I just got your name and you got a whole folder on me?”
Coulson smiles patiently. “Just a little bit of background information on your birthplace, the things your school got about you. Well except your location for the past year. We had tremendous trouble finding you, we couldn’t find anyone who knew you. That’s pretty impressive.” He admits reluctantly.
“Then how did you find me then?” She asks frustrated her hands nervously playing with her hair, she still is wary of the whole predicament she found herself in. “One of our affiliates gave us a hint. He remembered you from school.” She seems a little put off by this information.
“Who would remember me? I’ve been in Israel and Germany for the past year and a half with my grandpa. I didn’t think anyone would remember me.” She says her voice in between a whisper and normal volume, strained even.
“Europe, huh?” Coulson asks surprised he looks at her for a moment contemplating the next step. “We need to get back on track on what we are here for, we need to confirm your relation before I tell you what exactly I’m here for. “ He makes a short pause looking around. “Is your mom here? We need her for the statement of agreement.”
Lucy’s face changes from mild discomfort to a pained one. “I’m surprised you haven’t dug that out about me. My mom…” She pauses taking a deep breath. “She left a few months ago, I haven’t seen her in ages.”
Coulson felt confirmed in his suspicions, this girl lived almost alone in New York City, that just left the question who that lout was that she shared the apartment with. “Who is your friend then?”
“That’s Levi, he will study here in autumn and he looked for an apartment a few weeks ago. And since my grandpa can’t pay for this place alone, he came in very handy.”
“You don’t have your Moms cell number?”
“No, wouldn’t you think I have tried that?” She asks offended.
“I think we don’t need your Moms agreement for this if you say yes.”
“What do you need me to do? I would like to know what this is about, what if I’m not who you are looking for? Then I won’t ever know what this was about.”
Coulson shrugs nonchalantly. “I’m convinced that you are who we are looking for. And if you are not, we both found something enjoyable to retell in a few years.”
“True.” She admits.
“We need your blood for this.” He says watching her closely, she visibly hesitates.
“What for? What do you need my blood for?” She asks even more hesitant.
“To see if you are the one we are looking for, it'll be really quick and it won't hurt.”
“Will there be a needle involved?”
“Yes but it will be just a quick little sting, if you would just give me your hand.” She reaches out and he takes her hand, Agent Wilson hands him the scanner. Gently he took her index finger and pressed the scanner onto it, it buzzed for a few seconds and then a small noise was heard and then scan was finished.
Lucy takes her hand back and rubs the little bleeding spot. On the blue screen appears a written ‘Positive’. Lucy leans closer and catches a quick look over his shoulder.
“So I am who you are looking for.” She confirms what he is thinking.
“Congratulations.” She says dryly clapping him lightly on the back.
“Now we can tell you what we are here for.” He says. “Right,” She answers enthusiastically. Coulson thought about it for a moment, there was no appropriate way to explain such a Job’s news. He came to the conclusion that outright telling her what he was here for would be the best way.
“We were looking for you for a while now because we…no, your Dad is one of our agents and we think it’s very important for you to be in a safe environment.”
“Wait, wait.” She holds up her hands. “My Dad?”
“No. No. No. Don’t do that to me.” She stands and walked to the entrance door, gesturing to it she pleads,“Please go.”
“I’m afraid that I can’t do that.” Coulson says and Agent Wilson steps in front of the door, his hand wandering to his gun, Coulson shoots him look that reads murder. She rubs her forehead fear appearing on her face. “Are you…are you threatening me?”
“No! Of course not, we are here to keep you safe.”
“To keep me safe, to keep me safe?! What could be possibly more threatening than you are?” She exclaims.
“Lucy, we are not threatening you.” He repeats calmly standing up to take a step forward. She dodges him and takes a step back.
“Please let us talk about this without any escalation. Your father is a highly esteemed colleague of mine and he would like to meet you.”
“But I don’t like to meet him! I’m not ready for another father figure. I’ve had five of them, that is enough.”
Coulson feels trapped in a discussion that will go in a circle that would eventually end in a grey nowhere. “It’s just one meeting. One time you’ll have to see him, to get to know him. After that you may return to your own life. But whether you’ll stay or not we will continue to have an eye on you. S.H.I.E.L.D takes care of their own.”
She hesitates contemplating her options, weighing pros and cons against each other. “If I come with you, can you promise not to make yourself seen after I return home?”
“We will try our best to be invisible as long the situation requires it.”
“Deal?” She inquires, almost demands.
“Deal.” He reluctantly agreed. He had imagined that finding her would be easy, which had been false, now convincing her should’ve been easy too but again wrong. This girl was anything but easy.
The SHIELD headquarters weren’t far away, but the quiet reserved way in which Lucy regarded the car and the agents was unsettling, it was all the more reason to speed a little faster than allowed.
The check the agents performed was thorough, Lucy was ready to just turn around after five minutes of questions that she deemed unacceptable. This day had been nothing but hard on her, it had been frustrating to get up in the morning and it was frustrating to be confronted with yet another issue she couldn’t just ignore.
Where was the mom that was supposed to be supportive and motherly where was the grandpa that was supposed to help? Lucy felt entirely alone in a situation that didn’t seem to change whether she walked away or stayed.
After the agents had finished their questionnaire they issued her a temporary visitors permit. Coulson puts a hand on Lucy’s shoulder and guids her down the glossy halls of the SHIELD headquarters until they reached a conference room that wasn’t occupied yet.
“I will leave you here for a moment Agent Wilson will stay with you.” He says and with twinkling eyes adds: “Try not to run away.”
Then he turns and walks down the hall, leaving Lucy alone with the overambitious weapon swinging dork. “Stay in a corner far away from me.” She instructs and heads for one of the big leather chairs.
“That is Director Fury’s chair, I wouldn’t..” Wilson advises but is silenced by the look Lucy gives him.
“Fury is a stupid name and since he’s not here I’m able to barely ‘avoid his fury’.” She deadpans and leans backwards fiddling with her hands. She’s nervous incredibly so, this is not how she wanted to spend her afternoon, this is not how she wanted to spend the rest of her life either.
Conflicted between just telling them that she doesn’t want to meet yet another father figure, that would eventually leave, because they all did and staying because, yes maybe she did want to meet the man who apparently conceived her with fourteen.
It turns out that he looks normal, she had expected another suit clad man with an unreadable expression but instead there is a normal guy in Tshirt and jeans. She recognizes him from somewhere. Somewhere that she can’t place yet.
For a moment they just look at each other, he stares at her as if he had never seen anything like her before but then again he never had a kid before. And she just looks uncomfortable.
“So you’re my Dad?” Lucy asked, her eyes fixed on him as if he was an illusion, she doesn’t seem disappointed like he had expected, or angry, she masks herself with an apathetic expression.
But he could tell that she is shaking from inside.
He answered her with a simple nod unable to do anything but that. He notices that she is beautiful and young, younger than he had expected. Suddenly he feels overwhelmed with emotions, he feels protective, paternal even.
“I..I don’t I need you.” Lucy says, again she is masking her real emotions with fake confidence. She is so overwhelmed that she feels angry tears well up in her eyes, she wraps her arms around herself defensively.
“I want to go home now.” She says looking at Wilson who took his spot in front of the door his head shakes almost unnoticeably.
“There is no point in this.” She gestures wildly and walks towards the door. He feels the opportunity slip from his hand and gives Wilson a sign not to move behind her back.
“Please don’t go already.” He pleads, for his taste he sounds a little too vulnerable. Lucy looks at him for a moment longer she visibly softens and to his surprise sits down again.
“I’m not good with this,” He admits, sitting down too. She lets go of a hollow laugh and shakes her head disbelievingly. “I’m not either.” She admits. He wrecks his brain for anything to say and then remembers that he didn’t even have had time to mention his name. “Just to show you how much I suck, I don’t think anyone has told you my name yet…”
“Oh? Your name isn’t Hawkeye?” She chuckles, visibly letting go of a bit of her preservation. He grins shaking his head.
“It’s actually Clint, Clint Barton.”
And then she remembers it’s him, the guy from the pictures her grandpa carries as if he is one of his own.
“My grandpa carries a picture of you in his wallet.” Lucy reveals Clint looks both surprised and confused, SHIELD might’ve told them that they had gotten an anonymous tip (or threat that was left to interpretation), that had revealed that there was a relative – his daughter somewhere – in danger.
And somewhere actually meant somewhere, for the time he went with the circus he visited a lot of places and the times after that, as a criminal and then later as an agent, to say there were many women would be an understatement.
“I think you are the son he always wanted, I mean, he told me that.”
“Willy Moon you know the circus -”
“Director, yes, I used to be part of that circus for a few years when I was younger. It’s surprising that he remembers me that well.”
“He remembers his own.” She repeats her grandfather's words, she knows that her Grandpa considers everyone family that has once been part of the circus.
“Yeah I knew him well.” Clint says, Lucy comes from the part of the past he actually liked, the part that he tells people about, the part that holds warm family memories. “Your grandpa is a great man, he was like a father to me.” Clint admits, Lucy nods in agreement.
“He did well with us didn’t he?” She asks rhetorically, leaving Clint to wonder just how fucked up her situation is.
“And your mom?” He asks carefully to avoid digging deeper than its appropriate.
“She’s gone. She left a few months ago, I don’t know exactly when because I was in Germany and Israel with grandpa for a while.” Clint looks shocked, Lucy notices but waves it nonchalantly away.
“It’s better that way, it’s not like she was there a lot anyway. Let’s not talk about it...I just thought you should know, don’t buy a pig in a poke.”
She looks uncomfortable and Clint feels honored that she’s telling him about her mother even though she has that deal with Coulson. He has hoped she would decide against leaving and staying away from him.
Admittedly he isn’t the fatherly type or the responsible one, he doesn’t even know how to approach a sixteen year old girl, a sixteen year old boy would be easier, since he knew sixteen year olds. Namely Peter, but he is willing to try.
“Does that mean you won’t take up the deal with Coulson?” For a moment Lucy just stares at him, she feels guilty now that she’s met him, he seems nice enough and willing to be at least present in her life, even if it’s just for a while.
It’s like grabbing for a very thin last straw, she thinks, but at least it is a straw. It’s not like, living in New York City alone isn’t scary.
“I won’t take him up on that offer.”