Phil’s finally en-route to home when he gets a message from Clint. It’s a screenshot from his phone of an email header. The exact type of email header that says he’s got a job to do. With it is a very angry emoticon. At least, that was what he thinks it might be. There are a few extra characters, or maybe his eyesight is swimming. It could be either.
He’s much too tired to respond with a picture. He can’t really think of anything that could convey what he wants. Instead he just slowly and carefully types out:
Stay safe, come home to me soon.
The return text is of Clint’s team giving the camera a thumbs up. It’s definitely not something any of them should be doing if there is any type of classification for the operation--regardless of if his clearance is high enough or not. Normally, Phil would argue, but instead he lets the pain killers pull him under and rests.
He has no new text messages when Skye carefully wakes him before they land. He checks reflexively and tries to hide his disappointment when there aren’t any. He runs on autopilot to get home and tucked up in bed and when he wakes up the next morning, there is still a lack of messages. He takes a picture of the messy sheets and sends it to Clint.
I have to use more blankets when you aren’t here to keep me warm.
He doesn’t like being home without Clint. It’s nothing obvious at first but the thought catches him off guard after he realizes that he’s made too much coffee and poured two bowls of cereal. He pauses, the milk in hand but the cap left on. With a tiny scowl, he pours the cereal back into the box and goes out for pancakes.
He sends Clint picture texts every few hours out of habit and he hopes to hear Clint complain about it soon. The longer he goes without it, the more worried he gets. He dwells on it to the point that he starts to text Natasha, although without the pictures. She doesn’t respond either and Phil hopes that it means she’s with Clint, watching his back.
Phil never does get complaining texts from Clint.
Instead, he gets a picture that makes him laugh so hard. Natasha is cradling not one, but two infants and looking a little mortified. Clint is standing behind her, his hands over hers and guiding her motions. He’s not sure who took the picture, but he might have to thank them. The following text makes him want to both laugh and cry.
It’s twins! Sadly, they are one of many victims of the villain du jour.
The next picture is a wide shot of medical evac vehicles and too-thin-while-pregnant women. More filter in of the damage and the SHIELD agents, but none really show faces clearly. The last one he receives is from Natasha. It has Clint holding a little bundle by himself.
The baby is wrapped in a shock blanket in bright orange, and then cradled in Clint’s tac vest. It’s clear that Clint didn’t know the picture was taken and Phil’s breath catches when he spots Clint wearing his wedding band.
That little girl lost her mother due to complications. We’re going to find her father.
Phil stares at the picture for a long time, tracing the angle of Clint’s jaw and petting over the barely visible head of the baby. A self-dubbed irrational feeling wells up in Phil and he knows that he and Clint have a long, serious conversation ahead of them. He opens up a new text message and loads up the image that Natasha sent him.
What do you think about being a dad?