Chapter 1: ‘Tis the Season to be Darcy
Speaking as his long-suffering girlfriend – and therefore well within her rights – Clint Barton was an idiot.
Considering they’d been together now for seven months, you would think that Darcy would already know that. Unfortunately, it never ceased to amaze her that she was still just as surprised by the stupid stunts he pulled while he wore the mantle of the Avenger’s master archer, Hawkeye, as she had been the very first time he’d done something stupendously stupid in the name of saving people. Current stupid stunt #523? Leaping off the roof of a high-rise apartment building in downtown Manhattan, with a set of new and untested, EXPERIMENTAL grappling hook arrows, and praying to whatever God was listening that they’d hold. He’d gotten lucky; the hook held for about 38 floors, before it failed and her fragile human boyfriend had fallen the remaining 2 floors with nothing to stop him from crashing into the concrete sidewalk below.
However, Clint lived on slapdash luck, so he had made it out of the experience with a couple cracked ribs and a sprained ankle for his trouble. Which, frankly, was totes not cool; if Darcy had fallen two stories, she would have broken her damned neck like a normal person. Then again, no one would ever accuse Clint of being normal.
Because Clint wasn’t normal. Clint was a Grimm . . . and that was a whole other kind of crazy that Darcy was still trying to get a handle on.
It was hard to describe the Grimms without just kind of throwing you at them. If there was ever a poster child for the Dysfunctional Family, it was the fucking Grimms. The core of the family was comprised of five brothers and one woman. There was also their father and their father’s wife and young daughter; an older brother who they had only just found out about and his family; the younger four brothers’ significant others; and the five brothers’ children, which totaled about a half a dozen. To hear it told at the S.H.I.E.L.D. water coolers, the Core Six were legends to the junior agents . . . even if the youngest two brothers did occasionally take a little too much delight in tormenting the junior agents.
The father of the Grimm brothers was a cantankerous German by the name of Johannes Frederick Kuhn, Hansel for short. Hansel was married to Assistant Director Maria Hill, who was technically his BOSS - talk about having the hots for strong women. They had a beautiful little black haired daughter named Minna Annika Kuhn; the little girl was a solemn three years old, with blue eyes that could only be described as a peculiar combination of robin’s egg and teal. (The first time she’d found Minna reciting the Lord’s Prayer to her father in LATIN, Darcy had literally turned around and walked away. There was weird and then there was WEIRD and frankly, Darcy had enough of both types, considering who her boyfriend was.)
Will Grimm was the eldest of the five Grimm brothers and the undisputed leader of the family, with his longtime partner, Marina Ivanovna Petrovka, his steady left hand. Will had asked Marina to accept his ring in January of 2004, but they had originally gotten together in October of 1993. (The story of their disastrous first date in Bucharest, Romania, was still one of Clint’s favorite ones to tell to the kids.) Marina and Will had twin three year old girls, Valentina "Valya" Mikhailovna and Yekaterina "Katenka" Mikhailovna. (Darcy had asked Clint about the middle names once and after about ten minutes of what she'd guess was pertinent informaton, all she got out of it was that the middle names identified the father of the child and were apparently a Russian thing - suffice it to say, she never asked again.) Gifted with Will’s quicksilver eyes and Marina’s long brown curls, Darcy thought they were the cutest children she'd ever seen. Both little girls were incredibly well-behaved and the apples of their father’s eyes; it was no secret that Will spoiled them fairly rotten.
After Will, came Brian Grimm who suffered from some kind of multiple personality disorder. Barney was a psychotic son-of-a-bitch, who each of the brothers had orders to kill on sight, while Brian was a total sweetheart even if he was still totes a little scary. Brian was happily married to the woman S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Avengers Initiative called the Black Widow aka Natasha Romanov. They had a beautiful, redheaded little girl, Svetlana Brayanovna. Lana was only about 8 months old; of course, that hadn’t stopped her from earning the nickname of “Pyro” after nearly burning the kitchen down, but what else would you expect from a child with parents like THAT.
The middle brother was Jason Grimm, who pulled double duty as both a field agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. and a detective for the NYPD. He could do crazy-awesome things with a computer, a wrench and a welder. When he’d hacked the Facebook server to help her upload a forbidden, if totally kickass, background onto her page, she could seriously have laid one on him . . . except for the fact that his wife had a gun and a license to use it. Auburn-haired Casey Schraeger was sassy, smart and in every way, Jason’s perfect match. She was also his partner at the Second Precinct with the NYPD and mother of his little girl, Nadya Yasonovna. Two year old Nadya had rich auburn hair like her mother and fathomless green eyes like her father making her a very beautiful little girl; and even at two, she knew it.
Next came Kenneth Grimm, or as he was more commonly known now, Aaron Grimm. He was a killer spy . . . and there was actually no pun intended there. Aaron was Clint’s best friend, but he was kinda intense . . . especially if you didn’t know him well. Aaron was married to Dr. Marta Grimm, who was a biologist working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Marta was really sweet, if a little unsure of herself; though even a blind man could see how deeply Aaron worshipped her. They had two children; 18 month old fraternal twins, Maxwell Kennetovich and June Kennetovna, who had inherited Aaron’s blue blue eyes and sandy colored hair, though there was enough darkness in the underlayer to hint that they may one day yet take after their mother’s hair color.
After Aaron came Clint, who – as was previously established – was an idiot. Moving on.
It took about an hour for Clint to be released from the Medical department housed within Stark Tower. The Grimms were notoriously co-dependent, and the families of the Core Six shared five of the residential floors of the Tower to themselves. In addition Darcy, Clint’s apartment was also home to one James Buchanan Barnes. James – or Bucky, as he was more commonly known – had entered the hospital room, seen Clint getting restless and immediately taken charge of the antsy 34 year old. He and Clint had joked about the Hawk’s uncharacteristically bad landing like a pair of idiots. And even as she threw up her hands in exasperation, Darcy couldn’t help the warm glow that filled her to see the two holding hands and giggling like a pair of lovesick teenagers.
Oh, right, she hadn’t mentioned that part yet. Yeah . . . she was a lucky girl (and if you told them she said that, she’d totes call you a liar then destroy your iPod . . . fair warning).
At long last, Bucky and Darcy helped Clint hobble gingerly into the living room of their apartment. Bucky lowered their lover into one of the overstuffed chairs scattered around, before leaning back to watch Clint cope with the movement and its strain on his fractured ribs. The spacious apartment was situated only two floors over the Medical wing, though it seemed as though Clint had struggled through every step it took to get there. None of his doctors had been happy about the order to have him released immediately, and Darcy knew that the Black Widow was going to be pissed to learn that her best friend and brother-in-law had once again disappeared from medical before she could get there to see him.
Now, however, was not the time for Darcy to be worrying about the Widow’s trampled feelings. Bucky had disappeared into the bedroom to find some more suitable clothing that Clint would be more comfortable in, leaving Darcy to watch her younger boyfriend carefully as he shifted restlessly. Lifting his feet up onto the ottoman Darcy moved his way, Clint sighed and relaxed completely into the position. “Clint . . . baby? Are you okay?” she asked her fingers light in his hair as she watched him for any of the usual tell-tale signs he was lying.
Clint’s cobalt-grey eyes were pained, even as he shot her a strained smile. “I hurt like a suka, but I’d prefer to be in pain and be able to think, than be drugged to the gills and unable to have a coherent thought.”
Darcy’s nose wrinkled in amusement, as she took the opportunity for an easy jab at her boyfriend’s expense. “Baby, when have you ever had even an incoherent thought?”
Bucky’s laughter filled the room as Darcy giggled at the shocked look on Clint’s face. The elder of her boyfriends could hardly breathe he was laughing so hard, though Darcy wasn’t much better, doubled over completely in helpless mirth. Clint glowered at both his boyfriend and girlfriend, crossing his arms over his chest and slouching backwards tentatively as he waited for the giggle fit to be over. After a moment, the two seemed to come to their senses and their hilarity started to fade away. “Thanks a lot, the both of you. You’re real pals.”
Darcy’s amused smirk faded into a coy smile, as she eased effortlessly onto his lap, careful of his injury as she leaned the backs of her hands on the chair next to his head. Clint’s hands came to rest comfortably on her hips as she bent her head to allow her lips to engage his lightly. The very tips of her fingers were tender at the nape of his neck as they exchanged leisurely kisses, both very aware of Clint’s banged-up ribs and the limitations that resulted. “I love you, Hawkass,” she giggled against his mouth, earning a tired grin from her boyfriend.
“Ya tozhe lyublyu tebya, Peresmeshnika, dazhe yesli vynepochtitel’nyy bol’ v zadnitse, (I love you too, Mockingbird, even if you are an irreverent pain in my ass,)” he growled fondly, brushing a strand of dark hair from her eyes hesitantly.
“Bakh, vstret’sya chaynikum,” she teased fondly, both Clint and Bucky wincing as she butchered the pronunciation horribly.
The former Soviet spy chuckled, lifting one hand to smooth over the curve of her skull. “I think you mean, ‘bank, vstretit’sya chaynikom’ (Pot, meet kettle).”
Darcy frowned, “What did I say?”
Clint laughed, hauling her to him for a long kiss as he shook his head. “We have no idea. Though you did follow the context, if you tried to say what I think you did, so that’s major improvement.”
“Whatever. I speak American, damn it. Other people in the room should too,” Darcy snarked petulantly, before imparting one last kiss to Clint’s lips and moving to settle on the ottoman next to his ankles. Careful not to hurt him, she lifted his feet into her lap and began working at removing his combat boots. Clint settled backwards in the chair, obviously at ease with her closeness and exuding a familiarity with the ritual that seemed to imply the comfort he took in the action. “It’s actually a good thing that you’ve been placed on the disabled list, Clint.”
“Oh? And why is that?”
“You can help me decorate the house. I’ve been trying to hunt down the Christmas decorations, but I can’t find them anywhere.”
Clint froze, grey eyes darting to Bucky, the two men engaging in one of their infamous silent conversations. As was typical during one of these, Darcy huffed and waited for them to realize that once again, they weren’t speaking aloud. Finally, Clint broke eye contact and turned to face Darcy. The look on his face was serious and blank; Darcy called it his “Agent-Face” because it seemed to only ever prelude bad news. If he was giving it to her now, she wasn’t going to like what he was about to tell her. “Darcy . . . Peresmeshnika . . . we don’t have any Christmas decorations here.”
Pretty eyes flashed open wide behind block framed glasses as she stared at him. “So where are they? In some storage unit offsite or something?”
Bucky’s smile was soft as he reached to brush back a tendril of her hair, before trailing his fingers down her arms and linking their hands together. “No, Darcy . . . what Clint means, is that we don’t have any decorations . . . period.”
Blinking at the word, she stared for a moment before whispering, “But why not?”
Clint’s smile was twisted lightly as he shrugged one shoulder. “My family has never really celebrated Christmas; it’s always been just another day. We celebrate my birthday on the 20th and Will usually takes Marina back to Siberia to lay flowers on her father’s grave on January 7th . . . but to the Brothers Grimm and their families, December 25th is kinda just another day.”
“But what about the kids? Don’t they get Christmas?”
“No. Marta’s atheist, so she doesn’t celebrate the holiday either; Casey’s been part of a rich family for so long, she’s had it with the materialism of Christmas; and Natasha is Russian, so she celebrates Christmas on January 7th like Marina.”
“But why don’t you celebrate Christmas?”
“Christmas at the circus was just another day to work and hopefully get paid for it. It wasn’t really important in the long run, so we just learned not to look forward to it. Then we joined the Army and it just never got to be important,” Clint replied with a sheepish smile.
"I was born before the Depression . . . AND Steve and I grew up in an orphanage. More than a couple of years, Christmas just wasn’t something we could afford. Not to mention, the Soviets weren’t real keen on religious holidays. When Clint and I got together, it had just become habit not to celebrate, so it never bothered me when it passed by un-remarked upon.”
“But . . . I love Christmas.”
“Then we’ll celebrate it with you, if you want . . . just the three of us.” Glancing at his watch, Bucky sighed. “All right; I have to run to pick up Clint’s pain meds before the pharmacy closes. Handsome, I want you to go lay down and get some rest; you’ve had a long day and I don’t want the two of you getting into trouble.” Turning to Darcy, he brushed back her hair adoringly. “Get me a list of what you need to have Christmas, just the three of us and I’ll see if I can pick it up.”
It was only when Bucky had disappeared out the door and Clint had shuffled toward the bedroom that Darcy overcame her shock and reached for her cell phone. Operation: A Grimm Family Christmas . . . was on.