“I see Thor with a small blond boy so I’m just going to call it,” Stark’s voice is his ear never failed to make Coulson grit his teeth. “Jarvis. Can you please mark off the “De-aging” square on the Avengers Ridiculous Alien Tech & Magic Bingo?”
“Done, sir. Captain Rogers only needs a square of ‘mind-control’ to win and Ms. Romanov needs ‘body switch.’”
“If it wasn’t for that ‘sex pollen’ square in the middle of his board, Steve wouldn’t be winning.” Bruce pointed out from his spot next to Phil. The Hulk hadn’t been needed for the emergency call about a suspicious anomaly in Brooklyn but Bruce followed his team anyway.
“I happened to love our sex pollen adventure.” Stark quipped. Coulson looked up from his spot on the roof of a nearby building and saw Tony hovering, keeping an eye out on the sorcerer who seemed to have disappeared into thin air.
“Of course you did.” Natasha muttered. Coulson knew that even after a year on the Avengers, Natasha still hated small talk on their comms. Coulson couldn’t be bothered to tell Stark to knock it off, he was far more concerned about the supposed de-aging that had occurred.
Of course Clint had to go and anger the unknown magician and get right into the line of fire. And magical fire at that. Coulson would be lying if he said he wasn’t surprised but that didn’t mean he wasn’t worried sick. Sure, Clint could handle himself normally but as a kid?
Coulson knew all about Clint’s childhood and the part of him that wanted to see how adorable Clint was when he was younger was overtaken by the knowledge that Clint’s early years were no picnic. It was going to be an interesting few days, Coulson was sure. He had read reports from the X-Men and Fantastic Four after they had dealt with similar situations.
“In fact, because of that square being checked off, I’d say Steve is winning in more ways than one.”
Groans came through the radio and the makeshift command center where Coulson, Sitwell, Bruce, and a few other agents were stationed.
“Shut up, Stark. Who has Barton?”
“I’ve heard that most teams go through a de-aging scenario, Agent.” Captain America didn’t seem disturbed at all by his boyfriend’s inappropriate comments or by the fact that one of his teammates had lost a good twenty years or more of his life. ”We can handle this.”
“We can handle this.” Coulson repeated and agreed, mostly to himself. In his mind, no one else needed more encouragement about the situation. It wasn’t their partner who had been magically regressed into an eight year old.
“Or maybe we can’t…” Stark murmured and Coulson inhaled sharply. “No, we definitely can’t. He’s already gone.” Stark reported, confused.
A collection of voices questioned, “What?”
It was a few seconds too long before Tony responded again. Coulson didn’t have visual on him anymore. “I’m saying. No, we can’t handle it. The kid we thought was Clint just went off with another kid and Thor let him. Maybe we were wrong? Thor, can you hear us?”
After a full minute, finally, Thor’s voice came over the radio. “It appears that I was mistaken. An older boy claiming to be his brother took him away. The boy went quite willingly. I do not believe he was our Clinton.”
“Tasha. Find out what we’re dealing with.” Coulson snapped, not convinced at all. “Thor, did the kid answer to Clint? What did the two of them say?”
“The brother appeared and the younger one shouted his name happily. Then they both turned away.” Thor reported, confused as to what he did incorrectly.
Coulson ran through the battle in his mind. He remembered Thor’s insistence about correctly finding Clint. He had heard a squeaking and nervous voice answering to the name over his radio. Coulson’s heart froze as he realized they weren’t going to be dealing with a normal de-aging situation.
“Thor, the brother. What did Clint call him? What was his name?”
“Most unusual name. I’ve yet to hear it on while on your planet. He called him Barney.”