He didn't often drink.
They dulled the senses and in his line of work, that could often be the line between life and death. So when he drank after a mission, he usually took an entire platoon with him just to make sure something stupid didn't happen.
After Loki, however, not even his normal group was willing to go with him to Vegas, which probably explained why he woke up the next morning with the mother of all hangovers, in a hotel room not his own, listening to someone curse as she not so stealthily tried getting to the bathroom without waking him up.
He took a quick look at the woman as he heard her footfalls falter by the end of the bed. She was tall, taller than him most likely, with legs that went on forever, dark brown hair down to her waist, and big blue eyes set in a pixie-like face. She was wearing an oversized t-shirt that said “Sunnydale High” and nothing else. She wasn't too young, he didn't think, definitely not in high school, but if she was older than twenty-five, he'd be surprised.
“Well,” he heard her snort to herself as she quickly rushed to the bathroom. “At least I still have good taste when I'm wasted.”
He couldn't help but smirk at that as the door closed gently. Yeah, he'd been pretty much thinking the same thing. He remained silent, waiting to make sure she'd remain in there, before he quietly slipped his legs over the bed, the sheet bunching around his waist. He'd leave while she was in there, to avoid the awkward morning after, and they'd both be happy.
Well. Happier than he already was, anyway, because it had been a long fucking time since he got laid and so his body was pretty damn happy at the moment.
Shaking away that thought, he took in the hotel suite. It was bigger than his own, more costly, so the woman had money or access to it. It also looked like a tornado had ripped through. Two lamps were on the floor, one of which had shattered. A painting was skewed, and he flashed back to taking the woman up against the wall, blue-green eyes burning into soft blue as they lost balance and crashed to the floor laughing. A chair was toppled over and the bed, he realized, was in the center of the room, not up against a wall. He grinned slightly. A good fucking night (pun intended).
He got up, dropping the sheet as he rummaged for his clothes as quietly and quickly as he was able, considering he was hungover. His jeans and boots he found by the window, his jean jacket and hoodie by the door, his t-shirt had been under the bed, and his boxers he couldn't find at all. Zipping up, he spared one last glance around the room, before he grabbed his wallet and quietly headed out the door. Closing it gently behind him, he took stock of the number and memorized it for when he got downstairs. No way was he letting her pay all the damages.
No matter what some might say, he wasn't a douche.
It wasn't until he was leaving the hotel, left hand on the lobby doors, that he saw the ring.
Dawn spared a sigh of relief when Arms took the opportunity she'd presented and left. She'd known watching him that he wasn't asleep, she'd seen enough of Spike and Xander pretending to sleep to know when it was happening right under her nose. He was definitely better at it then the others, but she'd known. She just didn't want to deal with awkward morning after anymore than he obviously did so she'd decided to hang out in the bathroom, while he got dressed and skedaddled.
Sitting down on the toilet, she listened as he got up silently and went to work finding his clothes. She smiled slightly and leaned back, eyes closing as she waited for the tale-tell sound of the hotel door opening. Once she got it, her eyes popped open again. Almost immediately, she snickered.
His boxers were hanging over the shower curtain rod.
Coming back out of the bathroom, she flopped down on the bed, uncaring it was several feet away from where it started.
She was in Vegas as a gift for herself, having finally finished her thesis and defended it. She was pretty sure she'd killed it, so in a few days or weeks, she'd be getting confirmation that little Dawnie was now Dawn Summers, PhD. In the meantime, she needed to unwind. Hence why she'd found that bar, found Arms, and then proceeded to get them both drunk to, she smirked, screw each other senseless.
She shifted and then winced at the pulling. Oh yeah, definitely a good night but she'd be walking funny for a few days.
A knock came and she tensed, wondering if the lack of underwear had been enough of an annoyance for the guy to come back. Getting up, she tiptoed over to the door, cursing herself even as she did so. Just as she was about to look through the peep, a familiar voice shouted. “Come on, D, open the fuckin' door!”
Breathing a sigh of relief, Dawn opened the door and allowed Faith inside. Closing the door, Dawn turned to find the other woman looking around the room. The renounced dark slayer gave her a lecherous and approving grin. “Nice night?”
“He had arms,” she agreed, thankful not for the first time that she'd gotten over the issues she'd had with the other brunette. Buffy might be better about Dawn taking control of her sexuality (if better meant stuffing a box of condoms into Dawn's suitcase when she'd been packing and not saying anything about it) but it was Faith who she'd called the first time she'd had a drunken one night stand and who'd talked her through the panic of the morning after.
Dawn recalled the one hand holding her down and smirked. “Hmmm,” she agreed and Faith looked just a bit jealous. Apparently Robin had fucked her over when it came to just fucking without thought—she needed a connection now or it didn't do a thing for her in the long run. Which reminded her....
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Red got a hit on the legal system this morning,” she replied, turning around. Dawn suddenly realized she was carrying a six pack. Dawn's hangover had been taken cared of via the detox pills Willow made her but she had no intention of getting drunk again for a few days at least.
“What kind of hit?” she asked, moving to push the bed back to where it belonged.
“Apparently, you were feeling so good about getting your doctorate, you also decided to change your name last night,” Faith said easily. Startled, Dawn slipped and fell to the ground, bashing her head on the edge of the bed on her way down. She ignored that to twist around to look up at the dark-haired slayer. There was amusement on her face but it was the tone of her voice and the worry in her eyes that told Dawn that Faith wasn't joking.
“What?” she asked faintly. Faith handed over a can of beer.
“I think you're going to need this, Dr. Barton,” she said pointedly, looking down at Dawn's lap.
Slowly, she brought her hand up. There, sparkling on her left ring finger, was a simple gold band.
Clint hesitated as he approached the bank of elevators in the hotel lobby. He really didn't want to do this but he didn't think he had a choice.
He'd freaked out when he'd seen the ring, knowing he'd never have worn it unless he'd been playing a part and as he'd been strictly forbidden from getting involved in anything until Fury calmed the Council down about him, there was no way Clint went on a mission last night, drunk or not.
Which meant he'd actually become the cliché he'd sworn he'd never become. Fuck.
It took him less than an hour wandering around the casino attached to the hotel before he'd decided to man up and go back. At the very least the two of them could go and get an annulment and, if he were very lucky, no one but Fury would ever hear about this.
Clint was under no illusion that Fury either already knew or would soon enough. He was Director of SHIELD for a reason, after all.
The doors to the elevator opened and Clint took one look inside and froze. Fuck. It was her.
With an older brunette, who immediately seemed to connect the dots if the way she gave him a slow once over and then grinned in approval was any indication.
“So. Um. Hey,” his should-have-been-a-one-night-stand—his mind skittered over the word wife—said, waving slightly when she saw him. “Barton, right?”
“Dawn,” she said, shifting from foot to foot. Her friend murmured something too low for him to hear and the shifting turned into her crunching down on the other woman's foot. The older woman grimaced but didn't do anything in retaliation.
“Clint,” he finally said. “How, um...how did you know my last name?”
“Faith,” Dawn replied and Clint frowned, confused. Both women's lips quirked.
“Me,” the older woman—Faith, apparently—said. She stuffed her hands in her leather jacket, eyeing him up and down like Natasha'd done once—it was the look of someone determining a threat level. “S'my name.”
“How'd you find out?” he asked, surprised.
“D's big sis is major wacko when it comes to her safety,” Faith shrugged.
“She's so not kidding,” Dawn groaned. “She has a friend who, um, well...”
“Basically Red may or may not have a program in place online that alerts us whenever Dawn hits the legal system,” Faith smirked.
“You might as well just come out and say she's a hacker,” Dawn complained with a disgruntled look. “Seriously, do you ever do subtle?”
“Subtle's boring,” Faith shrugged.
“Doesn't have to be,” he and Dawn answered at the same time. He started, staring at her in surprise as she gaped back at him. Faith looked between them and—there was really no other word to describe it—cackled.
“Oh, B's gonna love you!”
They headed back to the hotel room, Faith tagging along and snickering every so often as she walked behind the couple. As worried as the Slayer was, the older woman was having the time of her life watching Dawn and Barton be all awkward. Seriously, everyone always said D was the responsible Summers sister. It was hilarious to her that no one ever realized how horribly horribly wrong that assumption was and that they conveniently forgot all about her shenanigans weeks after they came to light.
Though, Faith acknowledged, this one was likely to stay in the Scoobies mind for a bit longer than the time Dawn slapped the prince of that one country when he hit on her.
They had just gotten into the hotel room and were sitting down when Barton's phone went off, beeping at him. Barton swallowed harshly when he pulled it out and looked at who was calling.
“Shit,” he sighed, flipping open. “Tasha.”
“What were you thinking?” came a woman's voice, all cool flatness. Faith could see Dawn eyeing her speculatively out of the corner of her eye and gave a minuscule nod. She'd listen in, see if this was bad. Satisfied, Dawn went over to the mini-fridge and pulled out the beer again. She handed one to Barton. He accepted with a quirked smile before it fell to the silence on the phone.
“I was drunk,” he replied, putting the phone between his shoulder and ear and popping the can open. He took a long swig and Faith eyed his throat as he leaned back to guzzle it down. The irony of him drinking now while explaining this was not lost to any of those currently in the room. Dawn snickered as she grabbed her laptop and settled down on the bed.
“You were drunk.” It was a statement of fact, like she was repeating the words to try and make sense of them. There was a long pause before, “That's what you're going with?”
“I was rip-roaringly drunk?” he tried again and there was a distinct snort through the phone. “Tasha, I didn't go into this thinking, hey, let's become the cliché! It was an accident!”
The woman muttered something in what Faith thought was Russian. From Barton's wince, he understood and it wasn't complimentary. She tried memorizing what it sounded like for Dawn to maybe translate later. “So you went to Las Vegas when I distinctly remember me telling you it was a bad idea. Where you got drunk and decided to get married to a perfect stranger.”
“That...about sums it up, yes,” he admitted. He put down the beer can, still about half-way full if Faith had to guess. He leaned forward, putting his head in his hand, the other holding tightly to his cell phone. “Tash, you know me, this isn't the first time I've come to Vegas to forget and no one wanted to come with after--”
He stopped, his breath stuttering in something Faith intimately recognized: Guilt. Her eyes narrowed. What could he have to feel guilty about?
“I would have if you'd given me time to finish my job,” Tasha broke in and she sounded softer now, less angry. “Any of us would have, Clinton.”
Barton tensed. “I don't know them, Tasha,” he said softly. Faith absently wondered if she was just projecting when she heard the unsaid “I don't trust them.”
“I know,” Tasha replied after a moment. “So, this woman—what are you going to do?”
“We don't know yet,” Barton answered, eyes finally flickering up to take in Dawn on the bed, laptop in her hand and wincing every so often as she typed back and forth with someone; from what Faith could see of the screen, she knew it had to be someone from the Council. Probably Willow, since she and Giles were the only two who knew at the moment. “I'll...let you know when we do.”
“Well, I was going to say you might be eligible to get an annulment but Stark reminded me that Nevada recently passed a new law,” Tasha answered. “Anyone intoxicated at the time of their marriage in the city of Las Vegas is required to remain together for six months before getting an annulment or divorce. It's probably going to be overturned soon—people are saying its unconstitutional and a violation of personal rights—but that may not be for a few months yet with every state having to deal with the fallout from Manhattan.”
Barton groaned as Faith's eyes widened. “Damnit, Stark knows about this?” he demanded, either not getting the big picture or ignoring it. Faith grabbed a nearby pen and wrote down “Nevada law, annulment/divorce in Las Vegas?” before handing it over to Dawn. She looked at it, read what it said, and looked back at Faith confused. Faith gave a look at the laptop and the younger girl understood, bringing up Google. Faith knew the moment Dawn understood; her eyes got even bigger than normal and her mouth dropped open. Turning back to Barton, she saw him rubbing at his head. He hadn't noticed the byplay, which something told her was unusual.
“Yeah, yeah, tell him if he does, I'll shoot him,” he was saying, Faith having missed whatever Tasha had said.
“I don't think he'll care,” Tasha said and she sounded amused. “He's already planning a wedding party. Steve's helping.”
“Steve's helping?!” Barton yelped and Tasha gave a low throaty chuckle.
“Oh yes,” she agreed. “Apparently, our illustrious Captain doesn't approve of your shenanigans. His only consolation, it seems, is that you were married before you had sex with a complete stranger.”
Barton groaned, whether from the knowledge his friend didn't approve or the reproach even Faith could hear in the woman's voice as she said the last bit. “Old-fashioned nutcase,” Barton muttered. “What does Banner have to say? I mean, if Tony and Steve know, Banner knows too, right?”
There was a pause. “He's staying out of it,” she finally answered. “In all honestly, I think he's more amused than anything else. Stark and Pepper too.”
“Figures.” There was a pause and then Barton's grip on the phone tightened. “What about Fury and Coulson?”
“Coulson hasn't yet been told because Fury's refusing to allow him to do anything more than take a break,” Tasha answered promptly, which told Faith she'd been waiting for this. “And Fury, according to Hill, laughed his ass off in his office when he found out.”
Barton looked like he'd been electrocuted. “Fury laughed?!” Out of the corner of her eye, Faith saw Dawn look up at the absolute astonishment in the man's exclamation.
“Yes,” Tasha replied. Her voice turned wry as she added, “As you can imagine, everyone's thoroughly terrified of what that means.”
Having apparently done her job, Tasha ended the call then, telling Barton to figure out what they were going to do and then let her know. She informed him she'd been forbidden from going to Las Vegas but if Barton didn't update her at least once a day, she'd go off the grid. Barton had nodded and the call ended. He stared at the phone in his hand, simply shaking his head. Faith decided it was time to get some information.
“Are you military?” It was blunt, to the point, and tactless—but it also caught Dawn's attention.
“Former Army Ranger,” he answered, sighing as he looked up at her. “You heard that entire conversation, didn't you?”
So he wasn't as oblivious as he appeared to be—point in his favor, she supposed. Faith only debated a moment whether to be honest before she nodded. “You're still with the government.” Again, it was a statement of fact, not a question.
“Yes and no,” he answered. “I'm an Agent of SHIELD. That was my partner. We're an international organization. Sort of.”
“SHIELD?” Faith asked, frowning. “Why does that sound familiar?”
“You don't pay any attention at council meetings, do you?” Dawn asked Faith, exasperation on her face. It was at odds with the way her hands were balled up in fists in her lap, the computer closed in front of her. “Seriously, you need to pay attention even to the boring bits, not just the violent stuff.”
Faith snapped her fingers then, recalling the meeting they'd had in the aftermath of the alien attack in New York the month before. “Right, I remember now,” she said. They'd watched the footage on CNN and MSNBC and whatnot as they'd discussed things. The US Government's statement that it was an honest to god alien attack had done little to reassure Buffy or Giles. Their only consolation had been the team that had fought in New York weren't, supposedly, part of the US government but some international...organization... She suddenly turned to Barton, eyes widening as she took him in and compared it to the footage they'd seen. “Wait a minute—BOW GUY?!”
He winced. “I prefer the term archer,” he said miserably. He groaned and grabbed the drink again. “Damnit, Tasha's never gonna let me hear the end of this.”
“Oh, I don't know,” Dawn said suddenly, studying her nails easily as they both turned to her. “You definitely have bow fingers.”
Still stunned at the fact Dawn had managed to marry a member of the Avengers, it took even her a few seconds to realize what the other woman meant. When she did, she didn't know whether to laugh her ass off, leer suggestively at her, or groan. Bowman, it seemed, got it much quicker than Faith had and was currently choking on his beer.
“You knew!” Faith suddenly exclaimed, staring at Dawn when the other girl just smirked. “You knew who he was!”
“From the moment I saw him when I woke up in bed,” Dawn agreed. “Again, I actually pay attention in meetings. It's why I tried to let him out without the awkward morning after. Guy deserved a break.”
“Thanks,” Barton said dryly, wiping slightly at his chin. “You knew I was awake when you went into the bathroom?”
“You're not as adept at faking sleep as you think you are,” she agreed with a wink. He chuckled and went to take another drink of his beer, apparently wanting to finish it off. Either that or he was just going on instinct, routine, something subconscious. Possibly trying the remedy of a hangover by drinking more, Faith was honestly unsure. She saw Dawn glance at her a second, laughter in her eyes, before she turned back to Barton. “So, what are we gonna do, Husband-mine?”
Faith smirked as Barton began choking yet again.