It's four in the morning, and aside from the low buzz of late-night television, the Hawk's Nest is silent.
The Hawk's Nest isn't the official name for Clint's apartment, the one that Kate crashes at a lot, but it's the official unofficial name, the one that most of the superhero community (as well as the occasional newspaper and tabloid) calls it.
There are two Hawkeyes currently in the Nest. Clint's sprawled out across the futon in the TV area like a man accustomed to living his life alone (which isn't totally inaccurate, aside from the brief stint with Mockingbird), and Kate's curled up on Clint's favorite armchair, looking more like a sleek, oversized cat than a superhero.
Both of them jump to their feet in an instant when they hear four knocks--two thudding ones, and two rapid ones--at their door, because that's the secret Hawkeye-Hawkeye knock that only Kate and Clint know, and they've trained themselves to respond to it even in the middle of the deepest sleep.
They are both startled when they realize that both of them are actually already in the apartment. "Who--?" mutters Clint, looking blearily at Kate, who just shrugs.
The knock sounds at the door again--the same knock as before, only a little bit more urgent, followed by a familiar voice exclaiming, "For God's sake, Kate Bishop, open your goddamned door!"
It's a voice that Kate instinctively recognizes and trusts--although, now that she thinks about it, it might not be a good thing, considering his past and all--but either way, Kate flings open the door to see Speed standing there, in all of his green spandexed glory, with a limp figure in his arms.
"Sorry. Kind of panicked--didn't know where to go, this was the first place I thought of," says Tommy. He grins a little half-smile at Kate. "Maybe I'm still subconsciously fond of you or something."
"Kate, letting in random strangers--" Clint begins to chastise, before looking at Tommy and the injured Billy in Tommy's arms and letting out a low whistle. "Well, damn. That looks bad."
The two Hawkeyes step out of the doorway, and Clint gestures for their unexpected guests to come inside. "Green kid, put him on the table," says Clint, his tone brisk despite the bags under his eyes and the early hour. "Hawkette, put on some coffee. It's probably gonna be a pretty long night."
While Clint strides out of the room to grab his med kit from its safe place under his bed, Tommy and Kate hasten to comply, and neither looks in each other's eyes. Tommy, with his characteristic Tommy Shepherd swiftness, places his limp brother on the dining room table, while Kate moves into the adjacent kitchen and starts putting on the coffee.
"Where's Teddy?" asks Kate, worry lining her voice and concern darkening her blue eyes a few shades.
"He's hurt pretty bad. Avengers took him to some special facility because he was in pretty critical condition. Something about--extraterrestrial therapies or some science shit like that," Tommy replies as he removes Billy's cape, to better show the extent of the gashes across his chest and abdomen. Tommy's voice is flat and emotionless, which is how Kate can tell that he's especially worried--Tommy Shepherd doesn't stop acting like a cocky jackass for just any occasion. "He'll be fine. He's with all of those swooningly clever men of science now."
"If you two are done gossiping, I've got some stitches to sew," comments Clint from the doorway, making both of them jump and whirl around a little bit guiltily. He shoos them off with his free hand--the other hand is clutching to what looks like a crocheted version of a medical kit, made out of white yarn with a bright red plus in the center. (A long story.) "Move along now. Kate, why don't you take your little elf friend and help him out of his spandex?"
Kate and Tommy both begin spluttering something inane at the same time, and Clint rolls his eyes. "Hawkette, piece yourself together. I trained you better than that," he says, and Kate bites her tongue to keep from commenting that Clint's barely trained her at all, because there isn't that much time to waste, if the amount of blood that Billy's leaking onto the kitchen table counts for anything. "Look at his uniform. Some of that blood's other people's, some of it isn't."
Clint's explanation makes Kate want to smack her palm against her forehead for not noticing earlier, but there's no time for that, either--she just nods and catches the bottle of disinfectant and roll of gauze that Clint throws at her. "I don't think he'll need any stitches," Clint instructs. "So just tape him up nicely, he should be okay."
While Clint gets to work on Billy with a sort of casual efficiency that's probably become ingrained in him from served in the Avengers for so long, Kate and Tommy go into the kitchen, so that they don't bother Clint.
"I'm sorry, I'm an idiot," Kate mutters with an apologetic smile to Tommy, and then gestures towards his uniform. "Would you mind?"
"Not at all, Hawkingbird," Tommy replies easily, all bravado and swagger--that is, until Kate touches a segment of ripped skin, making him hiss in pain for just a brief moment before covering it up again. "C'mon, easy fingers, now, Kate, please? You've done this enough before, right?" he asks with a wink at the end.
"You're usually not bleeding when I help you out of your uniform," Kate replies, and yanks the rest of the spandex off of him, making him yelp, just because she always likes knocking his swagger down a peg or two.
"Jesus, Kate!" Tommy yelps.
Kate grins. "Sorry. Not-so-easy fingers, after all." Of course, she immediately feels bad when she notices all the various cuts and bruises dotted across Tommy's slim frame--she hadn't actually expected the wounds to be that bad.
She's also pretty curious as to how, exactly, Tommy and Billy got into this mess, but Tommy hasn't mentioned it yet. And if there's one thing that she's learned about Tommy from being in the Young Avengers with him, it's that he won't volunteer any information that he doesn't want to volunteer, so she makes a mental note to ask Billy about it later on.
"You're always so loving," Tommy mutters, and snatches the bottle of hydrogen peroxide and gauze out of Kate's hands before she can use it. "No offense, Kate, but I think I'm better at this whole medic thing."
Kate watches in fascination as Tommy begins to work at a feverish superspeed, wrapping up his wounds before she can finish murmuring a soft wow.
It should probably be weird, watching a guy wearing just a pair of green boxers.--Kate's still not sure whether she is relieved or disappointed that he chose not to go commando today--fix himself up at superspeed in her (well, technically, her and Clint's) living room, but it's not, for some reason. She supposes that it's because it's Tommy Shepherd, and their bond's always been a little more informal than the rest.
Tommy grins at her. "I'm pretty awesome," he agrees, but then glances over at his twin, flinches a little, and sighs. "I still can't stitch for shit, though."
As if pulled back to consciousness by Tommy's thoughts--or maybe just because Clint's finished patching him up, and Lady Luck decided to pay Billy a visit for the first time tonight, Billy groans and sits up slowly. Tommy races out of the kitchen to his side.
Kate takes a step forward to follow, but is restrained by the arm of a fellow Hawkeye. "I think we should give em a little space," Clint says and Kate's about to ask him who died and made him Dr. Phil when she realizes that Clint's right.
"Hey, are you okay?" Tommy murmurs to Billy, his hands clasping his twin's in a gesture of caring that he probably doesn't even realize he's doing. (Because Tommy Shepherd doesn't hold hands. Usually, at least.)
"Never... better..." is Billy's weak response, which makes Tommy break out in a grin.
"Still as much of a snarky loser as ever, I see," Tommy comments, which makes Billy smile back.
"Still... --a jackass," Billy manages, and Tommy ruffles his hair in a manner that's probably a lot less condescending than he meant it to be.
"Still saved your lily-white ass, didn't I, princess?" asks Tommy, with a faux-haughty sniff.
Billy chuckles, and then winces as his stitches pull. "You blew up half my school."
"Well --the bad guys started it!" replies Tommy defensively. "Besides, you know Stark. He's probably already donated enough money to feed a third world country for a year rebuilding that school."
Billy groans, a groan that's more whiny than pained. "God, I hate school."
"Nobody's been giving you shit, have they?" asks Tommy, his eyes narrowing suddenly. "I mean, you'd think one Shepherd-Altman pounding would be enough, but--"
"No, no, nothing like that," Billy says hastily, his eyes opening all the way up. "School's just... boring."
Tommy snorts. "Hey, if you think school is boring, you should check out juvie. Seriously. Especially if you're a super that the resident mad scientists think of as the most awesome plaything this century."
"I'd actually rather not," replies Billy, with a rueful twist of his lips. "I went through something kinda like that once, remember? And it wasn't the best of experiences."
Tommy winces. "Oops. Sorry. Shouldn't have brought it up."
"You don't always have to play older brother, you know," Billy says. "I can take care of myself."
"Right," replies Tommy, gesturing meaningfully at Billy's wound-covered body.
"Speak for yourself," Billy shoots back, and adds, "At least I'll be able to heal myself once I feel a little better."
The whole exchange seems to take place in a world where there's nobody else, just Billy and Tommy, being various shades of injured and snarky. Kate suddenly feels an odd sense of displacement, because she can feel that she's not part of their world anymore.
They've grown up, she thinks, listening to the two twins toss fond words back and forth as she realizes that all of them--Tommy and Billy and even her--they've all moved on.
It's ironic, how she was one of the first to say it, but one of the last to really acknowledge it: whatever future reincarnations may come and go, one thing is for certain:
The Young Avengers--as they knew it, a group of a bunch of ragtag, sixteen-year-old knock-off Avengers sort of accidentally saving the world every now and then, the ones with a patchwork of backgrounds and a lot of screw-ups that somehow were promoted to full-fledged Avengers--they're done.
The Young Avengers are over.