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Recuperating

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Clint took a deep breath and hold it in, silently savoring the scent of fresh grass and pine trees that surrounded his home. It had been a while since his last visit and he could already imagine the barrage of clingy hugs that his children would subject him to once he steps feet into the house.

As if reading his mind, Natasha nudged his side using her free hand and Clint could only grin goofily at the playful smirk that played on her lips. Of course she would know what he is thinking, they are so tightly wound together that they are basically one single entity with parallel line of thoughts. She knew his mind just as much as he knows hers.

“What is this place?” Thor rumbled from behind them and Clint merely throw a glance his way because he knew Tony would answer it with all of his snarks and sarcasm. He had been around enough sarcastic people to know how to predict them.

And true enough to his prediction, Tony answered the Asgardian’s question with voice basically dripping with sarcasm.

“A safe house?”

Clint snorted in amusement and he could practically feel Natasha’s eyeroll from his side. Tony will always be Tony no matter where he is. They stepped onto the front porch and Clint did not bother with reaching for the keys because he knew that none of them would be able to come anywhere near the front entrance of the farm if any of them held even a pinch of negativity toward the occupants of the house.

No harm could ever befall his home, not as long as the protective rune is still powered by one of his children.

Opening the door to the home he had helped build, Clint stepped into the warm embrace of his home, barely registering the sensation of mellow warmth caressing over his skin.

It took him a while to get over the tingling sensation of the magic brushing over him whenever he stepped foot into the house but he knew it would not harm him, not when the one who had put up the magical barrier meant to keep him and his family safe inside of it.

The brush of magic always reminded him of the gentle caress of warm summer air and he personally knew just how fast the gentle warmth can turn into the acrid stench of acid once it senses hostility.

Beside him, he could already feel Natasha unwinding her tense muscles upon entering the safe confine of the house. This wooden farmhouse is as much as a home to him as it is to her and they both are willing to sacrifice anything to keep it safe.

Clint did not say anything when she pulled away from his side and he made a beeline toward the living room that are connected with the kitchen, knowing fully well that his wife would be there at this time of the day.

“Honey, I’m home!”

He said out loud despite already guessing that she already knew of their presence here. Though he still did it because he loves the way the word home rolled off his tongue and also because he loves to be able to finally say it. He finally has a home to return to and he would definitely wring it to the fullest.

Clint heard the sound of her footsteps approaching first before he even saw her and he would never deny the feeling of joy that blossomed in his chest at the sight of her round figure bursting from the life they both had created. It was not hard for him to fall in love with this woman all over again and he definitely did swoon at the sight of her blinding smile.

“Hi. Company. Sorry I didn’t call ahead.”

He greeted her and did not waste any more time to gather her in his arms, cradling her swollen figure with utmost love and tenderness. God he loves her so much right now and the greeting kiss he received is just a bonus.

Not even Tony’s witty remark could make his happiness go away.

Clint held onto her for a moment longer before releasing her to turn toward the rest of his teammates, though he did not take off his hands from her. He caressed the baby bump lovingly while looking at his team and he could basically taste their awkwardness.

Seriously, these people called themselves Earth’s mightiest heroes but are so awkward when faced with the normalcy of life.

“Gentlemen, this is Laura.”

He did not have to say that she is his wife because he knew that each of them are bright enough to already connect the dots between the things that he had left unspoken. And Laura seems to have also picked up on their awkwardness too because she attempted to break it by speaking.

“I know all your names.”

Though none of his teammates seems to know what to say in return and Clint huffed in silent laughter when Tony waved with obvious jaunty movement that just screamed awkwardness. At the corner, he could see the stifled laughter that Natasha is holding back based on just how bright her eyes is gleaming.

Trust Tony to add up to the awkwardness of the situation, even if the rest of the teams are no better themselves.

The sound of thunderous footsteps rushing down the stair broke through the awkward silence that had fallen over them and Clint knew just who it belonged to as he pulled away from his wife’s side.

“Oooh, incoming!”

He said more to himself as his children come into their line of vision and Clint gathered the barreling children into his arms with practiced ease.

“Dad!” Hearing the word shouted in complete elation by his children made his chest burst with joy and he picked up his daughter with one arm whilst cradling his son close to his side using his other arm.

“Ahh sweetheart and hey there buddy.”

Clint held both of his children close, holding onto them as tightly as he could as he relished in the joy of being able to hold them in his arms once again after so long. God he missed his children so much even if it had only been a couple of months. He kissed the top of Cooper’s head and took his time in relieving his longing for them.

“How you guys doing?”

He added more to an afterthought as he held them close, letting out a fake groaning sound when both of them hugged him with equal fervor. Gosh both of them had grown up so much in the time he had been away and definitely ignored Tony’s quip about his children. He just missed his children too much to even care about anything else.

He kissed Lila’s cheeks and took a moment to gaze at her face with utter adoration. She definitely has her mother’s facial structure and Clint knew he would have to start beating boys away with a stick soon enough. His little princess will always be his little girl no matter how big she gets.

“Look at your face! Oh my goodness!”

Setting down his daughter, he finally released both of them from his clutch. Though he still kept Cooper close to his side with one arm over his shoulders because he knew just how shy his son can be around strangers.

“Did you bring Auntie Nat?”

Clint chuckled upon hearing her question because of course his daughter is too enamored by his return to focus about her surrounding to realize the presence of the other Avengers in the room. And of course Natasha does not waste any more time to come forward for her goddaughter.

“Why don't you hug her and find out?”

He laughed when Lila’s face brightened at the sight of the red-haired woman and could not stop smiling when she rushed into Natasha’s arms. He still could not believe that it had been years since he had brought Natasha into his family and it is a decision that he never regretted at all.

Clint knew of Natasha’s longing for a child of her own and this is the closest thing he is able to give her. Besides, it did not hurt that all of his children love having her in their life and Laura definitely love having another woman’s opinion in order to counter against his.

Wrapping his other arm around his pregnant wife, he pressed a kiss to her temple. He would not have been able to have this piece of haven in his life without her by his side after all and Clint loves her because of it.

“Sorry for barging in on you.”

Ever the polite man he is, Steve is the first to step forward with an apology on his lips and Clint is slightly surprised when Tony followed after, though the sarcasm immediately made it more understandable.

“Yeah, we would have called ahead, but we were busy having no idea that you existed.”

Of course Tony would not let a chance for him to add in his two cent of sarcasm to just pass by as it is.

Though Clint is too ecstatic about seeing his family again to even be properly offended by the tactless man.

“Yeah, well Fury helped me set this up when I joined. He kept it off SHIELD's files, I'd like to keep it that way. I figure it's a good place to lay low.”

Clint tightened his arms around both his wife and his son whilst fighting off the thought that this safe haven of his could be taken away from him. He would fight with more than just tooth and nail to keep them safe and away from the everyday danger he faced as an Avenger.

He could feel the tension building up between them once again and a glance at Natasha had her stepping in to break it before things could go down. Clint released Laura from his arm so that the two women could speak with each other and silently chuckled when his wife finally revealed the gender of their unborn child to her.

He had purposely kept that a secret because he definitely does not want to be the one to tell the deadly assassin that her goddaughter is in fact a godson. He knew just how vindictive she could be, especially when they had promised to name their unborn child after her.

Hearing her whisper the word traitor to the baby bump had him reminiscing about the memories of the past, where he had done the same thing to Claudia’s unborn child and speaking about that child, Clint turned toward his son to ask about him.

“Where’s your brother? Haven’t seen him anywhere yet.”

Cooper may be his first biological son but he has someone else who is his first son and he had taken the boy in after the death of his parents. His name is Stiles Stilinski-Barton, or that is what he preferred to be called as since no one other than Natasha could properly pronounce his birth name without twisting the muscle of their tongue.

Stiles is the son of Claudia Stilinski née Zieliński and Johnathan Stilinski, and the nephew of Philip J. Zieliński or better known as Phil Coulson by everyone on the field. Phil and Claudia had been his and Natasha’s best friends and Phil had agreed to hand over the custody of his nephew to Clint and Laura after John’s and Claudia’s untimely death when Stiles was eight years old.

And now Stiles is the only thing left that reminded both Clint and Natasha of the two siblings that had taken them in. Stiles is the last piece of Claudia and Phil and Clint is glad that Laura had agreed to take the boy in too during the early stage of the marriage after Claudia’s and John’s death.

“Stiles went to the woods with Derek and Malia.”

Well no wonder he had not seen him yet. If Stiles is with those two, then he would not be seeing them until dusk had settled over the horizon. Those three tend to lose track of time when they are together, especially when they are in the woods.

Derek and Malia had been a surprise addition to their family but not an unwelcomed one. Both of Stiles’ parents died in a car crash when he was five and the boy had been lost in the wood where it crashed. He was lost for three years but none of them had given up on searching for him until they found him amongst a pack of wolves, to be more specific, werewolves.

It was a surprise for them but they were too relieved in finding him alive to care about it. Though it had been a struggle to take him home with them. The werewolves had been a pack that had gone feral, being more wolf than human and Natasha had managed to connect them as the remaining member of the once prestigious Hale pack in Beacon Hills.

The pack consisted of Peter Hale, the Alpha, Laura Hale, the second in command, Derek, Cora and Malia Hale as the betas. They are not completely a wolf but they are also not completely a human, the death of most of their family had driven them into the wild and their consciousness are more wolf than human, which lead them to take the form of a wolf instead of a human.

The werewolves had been unwilling to let go of their youngest and with the help of a Druid named Alan Deaton, they managed to come up with a compromise between them. Stiles will return with Phil and the werewolves can settle into the wood that surrounded the Barton’s farm.

Nearly a decade had passed ever since then and the Barton family lived in peace with the predators that prowled the wood. The pack kept them safe from threat by watching over the territory that they had claimed as their own and in return, Stiles would spend most of his free times with them.

Though despite having the ability to turn into human, most of the werewolves preferred to retain their animal form more than human. As time passed, Clint and his family think them as more to a guard dog, a highly intelligent and deadly guard dog but still more approachable and cuddly than what their myth and physical appearance make people think.

It is not a strange sight for them to see a wolf sleeping on the front porch of the farmhouse, or a coyote since Malia is a werecoyote.

“What Clint, you have more mini agents running around? Didn’t know you’re that strong.”

Tony’s crude remark has the rest of the adults rolling their eyes though the curiosity in the rest of the Avengers’ eyes are undeniable, except for Natasha that is since she knew what Cooper is talking about.

Before Clint could answer it though, the back door was opened and in come his eldest son with two canines strolling in behind him. Clint felt more than saw the rest of his teammates tense at the sight of the massive creatures behind Stiles and shared amused smirk with Natasha.

It had been the same reaction they had done when they first found Stiles in the middle of a pile of wolves.

“Dad! You’re back”

A blinding smile made itself present on his face, mirroring the one that had blossomed on Stiles’ face when the teenager finally registered their presence in the room. He spread his arms wide for the rushing teenager and careened back slightly at the force of collision when his eldest barreled into his chest. Clint wrapped his arms around the gangly teen and silently noted the added height that had not been there before he left.

He must have been going through the last dose of puberty and both Claudia and Phil had said that the Zieliński had always been a late bloomer. Clint is sure that the boy would surpass him in height soon enough and he is also sure that Stiles would have a more fit and lithe figure once he had filled out, if both his mother and uncle is anything to go by.

He did not say anything though when cold nose pressed against his jugular, letting his son nuzzle against his throat for all he wants. Stiles had been raised by the wolves for too long for him to remove the animalistic behavior from his habits and none of them had bothered to make him remove it. There are just something oddly comforting about having his son scent marking them much like how a wolf would.

“Good gracious, you have been putting on height while I was away. You’re nearly as tall as me now!”

Clint crowed once he backed off just enough to look at the brunette in the eyes, though he did not take off the hands he has clasped around the thin shoulders. He could not help but smirk when the boy preened under his complement and he reached out to ruffle his hair, making it even more messier than it already is.

He even snagged out a couple of twigs that had nestled into the brown curls, god his boy is spending too much time with wolves if he forgot to watch over his appearance.

“Well I will the next time you come home.”

Clint snorted in amusement and mirrored the smarmy grin that curled on his son’s lips.

“How about you show me how tall you have gotten.”

Natasha remarked from somewhere behind him and it did not take Stiles much time to throw himself around the red-haired assassin, wrapping his wiry limbs around her like a particularly clingy limpet whilst shouting.

“Mamachka!”

Clint returned his arm around Cooper’s shoulder and gave his second son a reassuring squeeze. He might have declared Stiles as his first son despite there being no blood relation between them but that does not make him love his biological son any less. He loves both of them equally and nothing can make him choose between them.

“I am not aware that you and Natasha already have a child together…”

Bruce’s uncertain voice pulled his attention toward the gamma scientist and Clint immediately noted the heartbroken vibe coming from him. Of course the man would already be making his own conclusion about the kind of relationship he have with Natasha now that Stiles had called her his mother and him his father. And the rest of them are no better too.

Seriously, one of these days, he will have to sit each of them down about the topic of not making their own assumption too hastily. Perhaps he could just let Natasha loose on them for a change.

“We don’t but he is still ours.”

“Stiles is Phil’s nephew and we took him in.”

He retorted at the same time as Laura and both of them gazed at each other with utter adoration before snorting out a laugh. Leave it to Laura to bat aside bulshit and go straight to the point. His wife can be vindictive that way.

“As much as I love Nat, we’re not in that kind of relationship.”

Clint added and raised his free hand in surrender when the red-haired woman threw a coy smirk his way. Stiles’ own matching playful grin did not help their case in anyway. But then again, none of them had ever minded the misunderstanding that people often come up with when Stiles is introduced as their child.

Besides, Natasha had always been more of a mother to Stiles than Laura will ever be. Not that his wife loves Stiles any less, but there are just some things that a newly integrated bond cannot replace when compared to the preexisting one and Stiles is as much as a firstborn to Natasha that he is to Clint too.

No matter what people said, Stiles is their first child.

“Wait you’re telling me this brat here is Agent-Agent’s blood family. Like as in biologically connected down to the DNA level of family?”

“Well unless my grandma had an affair with an even snarkier man, my uncle was still mine through blood last I checked. But you’re welcomed to prove me wrong though.”

“Nope you just persuaded me. No one can be as snarky as Agent-Agent if they are not blood related. I am fully convinced that those sarcasms of his is more too a heredity thing than an achieved one.”

As the two-brunette divulged into a verbal battle of witty remarks, Natasha had pulled Bruce aside for some semblance of privacy, obviously trying to clear out the misunderstanding between them before it could take root. However way the talk ended, he will always root for her.

“You have wolves as pets.”

Steve finally spoke after the uncharacteristic silence that he had kept himself to and Clint could see the wariness in the man’s eyes and stance from where he stood with both of his children by his side. Though he did not have to be the one to explain it to him because both Lila and Cooper had stepped in to defend the two Were creatures.

“Lia and Der are not pets! They’re our friends!”

Lila exclaimed with all of the childish indignance that her small body could contain and Cooper had forgone his earlier shyness in order to back up his sister in defense for Derek and Malia.

“Yeah and they’re like our siblings too!”

Steve’s helpless look at being reprimanded by both of his children is just so hilarious that both Clint and Laura busted out laughing at the sight of it. Who would have thought that the paragon of American virtue can look like a completely chastised puppy when faced against children?

“Friend Barton, are you aware that you’re housing beast in human skin?”

Thor’s reaction is more to curiosity than the wariness that Steve had shown and much like before, Clint did not have to be the one to explain it. Only this time it is his wife instead of his children. Clint could not help but feel proud of the family he has, so willing to stand up for one of their own despite whom they stood against.

“With as much respect Prince Thor. Derek and Malia are not beasts. Yes, they can be all growly and flashy eyes every full moon but they are often very cuddly and affectionate most of the times. Besides, those two are mine and you’re not calling my pups beast again. You understand me?”

Laura did not raise her voice nor does she shift her stance to appear as threatening, she merely regarded the Asgardian with terse clinical eyes and sharp smile. If Clint is not so busy being so proud of his wife, he would have swoon at her right now. He did not marry the vibranium backed woman just because of her beauty after all. Clint knew she could stare down gods if she felt the need to when it meant to protect those she had taken under her wings.

Much like what she is doing right now.

Clint is seriously thinking that he has a type. He is attracted to fierce woman who can bend the world to their wills, much like the adoration that he once harbored for Claudia before he met Laura.

Perhaps Phil was right after all, he is totally whipped by the women he has in his life.

And it looks like Thor can see the fierceness in her eyes too because the blonde looked properly scolded under his wife’s severe eyes. If only Clint have a camera to commemorate this moment in the form of a picture.

There is just so many things he could make the Asgardian god do with it against him.

“My apologies Lady Laura. There has never been a proper translation to what us Æsir used to call the creatures that could take the form of a mortal. Shifters are not appropriate enough since they only took one beastly form. I did not mean to call your brood such a degrading name.”

Laura seemed to be placated enough by Thor’s explanation and she seemed to preen with pride when the Asgardian referred the two Were creatures as her children.

Huh, Clint never knew his wife had taken in the pack as her children too. He had thought it was only Stiles but then again, it is not like Clint is complaining. The wolves and coyote had been around long enough for them to claim the pack as their family.

And the two canines looked pleased by her claim too if the nuzzling they are giving Laura’s stomach is anything to go by.

“But still Clint. Werewolves…”

Steve still looked somewhat constipated as he said the last word, as if he had swallowed a football sized lemon and Clint could not seriously blame him for his ridiculity of this situation. He is after all a man from the time where Norse Gods and supernatural creatures are nothing more than myth, old folklore that had been passed down through ages.

“Well what can I say Cap, my family is full of surprise.”

Clint said with a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders, gathering his two children into his arms once again before they could burst into another fit of incensed protectiveness.

“Yeah about that. I will have a word with you about keeping secret from me. You and Widow both. But before that, how the fu-fish did you keep this brat a secret? I like him. I will have Pepper to fill in the adoption paper for him as soon as this whole mess is sorted. Seriously, I want to pick at his brain. Barton, I am suing you guys for keeping his potential hidden.”

Tony had curbed his cursing when both Laura and Steve shot him pointed look, only his wife looked more murderous because none of them wanted to expose their children’s innocent ears to it just yet. Though Laura does look like she is ready to murder the billionaire with a rusty spoon in the most painful way possible when Tony talked about adopting Stiles.

Laura had always been fiercely protective of their children and she is no different toward Stiles, more so after she got pregnant for the first time. It is a trait that both of them shared and the only reason Clint is not riled up by it is because he knew Tony would not do it.

The man is not that cruel despite what the media claimed him to be.

“You’re not taking away my babies Mr. Stark. I would be the one suing your company if you dare to take Stiles away from us.”

Before she could go on with her tirade though, Stiles had slipped himself around her from behind and dipped his head down to nuzzle against her anger flushed cheeks. The look of adoration on their boy’s face is undeniable.

“Mom, calm down. The anger is not good for little Nathaniel. Besides, I would never leave you guys, even if it is for Iron Man’s league. You’re my world.”

Clint’s chest warmed up upon hearing it and from the pleased expression on his wife’s face, he knew that she is bursting with happiness too. They knew that Stiles would not exchange them for the world but hearing it confirmed by Stiles himself left them with feeling of overwhelming joy.

“Good because you would not get the pumpkin pie I was making if you did.”

Laura retorted as she tangled her fingers with the hands that Stiles placed over her round stomach and Clint felt a part of his heart just melted away at the sight of it. Stiles is so much like his birthmother that Clint knew that Claudia would have loved Laura the same way her son is. He always knew that the two of them would have gotten along so much if they have the time to bond.

And those two together would be a force to be reckoned with, especially with Natasha in their midst.

“Wouldn’t dream of it mum. Love your pies too much to give it away.”

Stiles replied, planting a soft kiss against her cheek. Living amongst creatures that are as tactile as the wolves had made Stiles physically obvious with his affection, especially amongst the family and the pack.

“You’re denying me for dessert!? I am being denied because of a slice of pie!”

Tony’s indignant squawk sent all of them bursting into laughter, though Clint knew the man is not seriously offended by the rejection because he could see the pleased glint in the man’s whiskey brown eyes as it looked at the relaxed faces of their teammates.

Whoever said Tony Stark does not have a heart is truly blind.

“My Ma always said that dessert is the soul of life and I am sure Mrs. Laura’s cooking is swell if Stiles is rejecting you for it.”

“I agree with Steven. My mother said the same thing too.”

Thor added his two cents to Steve’s retort and their laughter intensified as Tony joined them too, even if it was originally at his own expanse. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Natasha and Bruce entering the room once again, their hand in each other with interlaced fingers and they too burst into fits of laughter when Laura explained the reason of their laughter to the two of them.

Whatever tension that had been between them when they retreated from Johannesburg had ebbed away from their body as they shared laughter with each other.

Perhaps the wound had been big and are threatening to tear them apart from around the seams but whatever it is, it is not enough to break the bond that they had created between them. The world might have hated them at the moment but they still have each other to lean on and Clint knew they all would get better soon enough.

Yes, they were beaten down once but they would not stay down forever because each wound they received only made them stronger. They are strong together and no alien intelligent creation could break this apart, not even the mind magic the little witch had casted over them.

As he gazed over his family and teammates, Clint could not help but feel bittersweet about it. This is what Phil had died for.

His death had brought them together and he knew that the man would be proud of the team that they had become.

Clint could just imagine the blinding smile that the Zieliński shared and he could only hope that at wherever he is, Phil is happy.

Phil definitely deserved it.

Because without him, none of them would be here to share this lighthearted laughter with.

Chapter Text

“Mind if I join you?”

Bruce looked away from the sight of the sun setting over the horizon when he heard the voice and he was surprised to see the teenager that both Clint and Natasha had claimed to be their son.

Not with each other but they still see the boy as theirs.

Bruce does not know what to make of the situation. He knew there had been an attraction between him and Natasha and he is not foolish enough to deny the allure that the Black Widow held but he is also not foolish enough to blindly give into it. He knew just how deadly she is and how her beauty had trapped many people into her webs.

But he had never thought for it to be a mutual thing.

Natasha is a wonderful woman despite how she could probably kill someone with only her pinky finger and she could have anyone she wanted if she put her effort into it. So it had been a surprise for him to have her not only returning his feeling but also accepting of his alter ego.

Perhaps it was because she is sharing living space with a pack of werewolves and-gosh is that a huge surprise that he is still trying to digest- are used to creature that could spontaneously change into killing machine when provoked, which lead her to be more receptive of the green rage monster that he become when angered.

It might not be the fantastical love that Disney often portrayed but the attraction between them are undeniable.

It is genuine.

It is real.

So it had felt like a punch to the gut to know she already have a son, even if it is not a biological one. Bruce is not the type to discriminate single parent, God no with his own mother basically being a single mother to him and what with his father being the abusive man he was.

But the reminder of children hurt him more than anything else.

Bruce knew that the possibility of him having his own child had been instantly forfeited when he first became the Hulk. There is too high of a risk that his mutated gene could be passed down to his own offspring and he would never wish that kind of life to anyone and definitely not his own flesh and blood. Besides, there is also the possibility of him being sterile since no one could possibly be receptive of his mutated seeds.

Though that did not stop him from wishing that he could have a child of his own with the person he loves, with Natasha, but that possibility is basically null because she too had been sterilized during her time in the Red Room. Both of them could never have their own flesh and blood because life had been cruel enough to take away their ability to have it.
He often dreamt of a child with Natasha’s red hair and his curliness along with his own brown eyes and her pale skin. And he would always wake up from that dream with tears in his eyes and a throbbing ache in his chest.

But Natasha already has this boy that she had claimed as her own.

He wondered just how is it that this boy had come under her wing but both Clint and Natasha had been tightlipped about it, their eyes clouded with immense grief and he had immediately backed away at the sight of it, knowing that it is not something that he would be willing to face.

Not yet.

He knew that the teen was Coulson’s nephew from what Laura had said, so that makes him to be the son of Coulson’s sibling. Maybe the two SHIELD agents knew the boy’s parents but it still does not explain how the boy had ended up with them. He can understand if the teen is under Coulson’s care but the man himself had died two years ago and Bruce could not help but wonder just what had happened to the boy’s parents.

“I can basically see the gears turning in your head, even hear the grinding too. Mamachka is right, you mad scientists tend to overthink things. You can just ask me if you’re that curious you know. Dad and Mamachka wouldn’t tell you anything no matter what you do.”

He was once again pulled away from his thoughts by the teenager who had settled beside him and Bruce blinked at the steaming mug of hot chocolate being offered to him. It even has tiny marshmallows floating in it.

The teen grew frustrated by his staring though and had manually handed it to him by making Bruce wrap his hands around the warm mug mechanically. Bruce did not stop staring at the boy though and that earned him a frustrated glare from the teenaged boy.

“I know you’re together with Mamachka.”

Bruce tensed upon hearing it from the boy because his relationship with Natasha had always been a secret amongst the Avengers, a secret that everyone knows but never spoke of. But then again it should not be surprising if he knew about it, this boy is basically her son, he would not be surprised if the assassin duo had taught him a thing or two about picking up on small details.

“Relax, I wouldn’t do the plain old speech about castrating if you hurt her and that’s only because I know she would do it herself if you do but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t add up to it.”

The lopsided grin that curled on the teen’s full lips looked so achingly similar to Clint that he can see just how this boy is their son despite there being no shared biology between the three of them, even the slant of his liquid amber eyes reminded him of Natasha.

This teen is definitely their son.

“So, when am I going to start calling you Tyatya? Or perhaps Father if you want something more formal. Not dad though, that’s Clint’s. He would flip if I call you that too. I can do Papa too if you want it.”

The sudden blurt of questions have his head spinning though because he did not expect it to begin with. He did not expect for the son that both Natasha and Clint had claimed as their own to be accepting of his relationship with Natasha. He did not expect for the boy to accept him, a man who caused so much destruction when angered, into his life and the family he already has.

And he did not expect that he would one day have the chance to be called a father to a child, even if it is by the adoptive son of his lover.

“What?”

Was the only response he can get out from his suddenly brain dead head and the boy looked as if he is stuck between amused or frustrated at Bruce’s lack of reaction.

“The marriage. When are you going to ask for my Mamachka’s hand? You’re going to ask her to marry you, right? This is not one of those onetime thing fling, right? I like you, I really do and Hulk is cool too and I wouldn’t mind having you as my second dad. Okay that sound so wrong in so many weird ways. Would that make you and Dad one of those gay parents? That would be cool too and I can totally tell people I have Hulk and Hawkeye as my parents but that would definitely confuse them since Dad already have Mum and you’re with Mamachka already but yeah, as I was saying, I wouldn’t mind having you as my Tyatya.”

It took him a moment to make sense of what the boy had suddenly babbled to him, a very long moment since the boy had been going off tangent from one topic to another but when he does manage to understand it, the boy had reverted from the loud flailing limbs to this silent fidgety bundle of anxiety beside him.

“Sorry, I got too excited sometimes and began to talk nonsense. Just ignore what I said, those are my usual rambling when I got stupid ideas in my head. Don’t worry about it!”

The teen is obviously trying to laugh it off and play it cool but Bruce could see the embarrassment and hurt shining in those liquid amber eyes that are surprisingly so expressive, especially when he factored in who his adoptive parents are.

Bruce internally smacked himself for taking too long to understand and also for being so awkward. Of course the boy would shy away when his earlier enthusiasm was met with only dead unresponsive silence. He out of all people should have known that better than anyone else.

He saw the boy moving to stand up, obviously attempting to retreat now after having embarrassed himself but Bruce would have none of that. He does not want to end up leaving a bad first impression to Natasha’s son, whom like the boy had said, would also be his son if he ever asked Natasha to marry him.

Reaching out, Bruce caught the teen’s arm before he could fully stand up and the boy looked at him with curiosity despite the embarrassed redness painting his pale cheeks.

“Stay. Please.”

Bruce could not help but cringe at how stilted the words come out as and he could only hope that this boy did not take it the wrong way. God, he is hoping the ground would just open up and swallow him whole right now.

Awkward silence fall over them like thick blanket that threatened to smother them both and Bruce heaved a soft sigh of relief when the boy slowly sit down again beside him. But now that he had managed to stop the boy from leaving, he does not know what to say to him, he had always been so awkward in situation like this and his usually fluent tongue felt like lead in his mouth.

At the boy’s pointed glance and not so subtle tugging of his own arm, Bruce immediately released the arm that he had caught in his grasp during his attempt to stop the boy from leaving. He quickly mumbled an apology whilst doing so, skirting a glance to the teenager’s way before returning his gaze to his still steaming mug of hot chocolate.

There is a lot of things going through his mind at the moment, more so after what the boy had blurted out at him not too long ago but before he could go any further with his own question, he felt like he owes the boy an apology for his earlier rude silence.

“Sorry about before…I am honestly helpless in this kind of situation. You just surprised me, that’s all and I’m honestly not the type to talk much. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
Bruce tried to smile but the muscles of his face are not being particularly receptive at the moment and the smile comes out as a tightlipped grimace.

God help him.

He is making the situation worse.

“Hey man. It’s cool. Dad always said I talked enough for everyone. So don’t worry about offending me, I’m too thickheaded to be easily offended by people. Though I has to apologize about creeping you out with my nonsensical rambling, I do that a lot too.”

A sort of unspoken ease had fallen over them upon the return of the boy’s insistent talking and Bruce could live with this. He would rather see this hyperactive and spastic teen talk like this than the earlier closed off timidity.

It is unnerving, much like seeing how easily Natasha had slipped on one of her many persona on like a second skin.

“Are you sure?” Bruce asked, cutting through the teen’s off tangent rambling about the validity of using vortex as the center focus of an energy well.

“Yeah-wait. What? Sure about what? I am sure about a lot of things, including my own sexual preferences but you will have to clear that up for me before I go down questionable line of thoughts. You don’t want that. Believe me, you don’t. Mamachka did say I has a rather vivid way of making things more complicated.”

For some reason though, hearing him ramble about it made his chest feel warm. He distinctly remembers a memory of his childhood, a memory about how happy his mother had been when he returned home with an A+ on his paper. He remembers how her honey brown eyes twinkled in the afternoon sunlight, how the brown curls framed her pale face, how her red painted lips stretched into a proud smile that complement her bright eyes.

And now that he looked closely, this teen looked achingly similar to his own mother, not identical but there are shadows of her in him. Perhaps it is fate or karma if life is that vindictive with him but the boy had looked so much like the only woman he had ever loved, before Natasha that is.

“Tyatya has a nice ring to it.”

Bruce said, successfully cutting through the teen’s off tangent ramble again and silencing him. He could not help but smile at the wide-eyed look that appeared on the boy’s face and chuckled softly when he sputtered in both shock and excitement.

He could practically see the excitement rolling off him in waves and sagged into himself in relief now that he had not scared the boy away with his awkward hesitancy.

“And it would match up to Mamachka’s too! Do you speak Russian? Well you better learn it if you don’t because we often use it here, same with Polish since Uncle Phil and I are Polish. But don’t worry! I will help you!”

Wry amusement unfurled in his chest when he heard that because of course this would be a multilingual household, not that surprising when both Clint and Natasha are proficient in at least twenty different languages.

“A little bit. I used to have a lot of Russian colleagues, so I had picked up on some of it. Though I admit that I am a bit rusty.”

It is not like his self-exile gave him time to harness his Russian, especially not when he had avoided the country like the plague itself when he had heard rumors about General Ross establishing a base there.

“Neat and I hope you like wolves because we have loads of them here. Peter is the big bad here but he’s actually a big softy under all of those growly teeth and sass. Same with Derek, who’s a total cuddly wolf when he is not being a sour wolf. Don’t let his judgy bushy eyebrows get to you because he’s an actual bunny in wolfy suit, heck he even has bunny teeth! Laura is badass, even if she is not as badass as Mamachka, you don’t want to cross her because she could totally rip your throat out with her teeth and feed you with your own intestine if she wants to. Easiest way to get in her good side are chocolate. Loads of chocolate and she would be the nicest of the bunch. Malia is Peter’s daughter, she’s a coyote though because Peter thought it would be fun to play around with the Dessert Wolf. You should have seen the canine style custody battle going on between them, totally epic.”

A feeling of tranquility curled in the pit of his stomach, like a cat purring in contentment, as the boy continue on talking about his ‘pack’, loving the way the boy just let the words flow out from his mouth, fondness and endearment lacing his voice. It is comforting to him for some reason, to have the jovial voice washing over him as he sipped the lukewarm hot chocolate on the back porch of the Barton farm.

It is lackluster, this moment between them, but Bruce feels like this would be one of his most treasured moment. Two of the pack had opted to join them in the middle of Stiles’ conspiracy theory about Captain America’s serum containing the werewolf gene in it and the apex predators had plopped down on Stiles’ sides, effectively swamping the boy in between the mass of black fur.

“This is Sourwolf Derek” Stiles said, scratching the canine to his left under its chin and only laughed when the wolf nibbled on his fingers in admonishment, causing Bruce to nearly have a heart attack at the sight of those sharp teeth being so close to the delicate flesh of the very much human boy.

“Bruce Banner, I am Natasha’s-” The wolf made a sound akin to a snort before he could finish and Bruce had the distinct feeling that the wolf is rolling its eyes at him. Stiles’ own amused chuckle had more than confirmed it for him.

“Now, now wolfie, play nice. Bruce here is going to be my Tyatya, so you are going to see lots more of him around after this.” Stiles reprimanded the wolf despite the grin stretching his lips, hands buried in the thick fur of the wolf’s scruff, fingers flicking the perked ears playfully. The wolf huffed and grumbled something indiscernible to him but Stiles seems to be able to under it perfectly well.

“I am hearing denial there, bunny. You liked him already.”

As the two dissolved into a one-sided bickering, Bruce is left to stare at them until the flash of blue eyes met him. At first, he though it is Laura but the greyish white coat and slightly different built had him realizing the difference between it and Derek. So this must be Malia, the coyote of the bunch.

The coyote stared at him with unblinking eyes and Bruce felt like it is looking straight into his very soul, searching for something that only it knows. He does not know how much time had passed but the drink in his hands had grown cold by the time the coyote let out a chuff of air and laid its head on his laps.

Bruce does not know what it is trying to tell him but he will just take this as a sign of acceptance by the coyote. He ran a hesitant hand through its surprisingly soft fur and began to feel more confident when its chest rumbled in what he assumed as approval after he scratched it behind the ears.

“Wow, that’s a first.” Stiles’ awed voice had him looking at the boy and he could see the amazement etched to his face. Bruce quirked one of his brows up in question and Stiles just laughed in response.

“Malia never liked stranger and this is the first time she had warmed up to someone so fast. I bet you would have Laura and Peter wrapped around your fingers soon enough if you can have Malia accept you so easily.”

Stiles explained after he managed to get his laughter under control, though his eyes still glimmered with amusement under the artificial glow of the back-porch’s light.

And his chest warmed up at the sight of it.