He mumbled quietly as someone shook his shoulder and he turned over till he was laying on his back. Drifting off again when there was no longer a presents shaking his shoulder. He grunted as a weight landed none to gently on his stomach, prompting him to finally open his eyes and come face to face with a smiling four year old blond. Clint's hair was tousled and stood up at odd angles. He wasn't wearing his aids but his blue eyes were bright and full of energy meaning he had been awake for a while.
"What do you need Clint" he spoke softly knowing full well that the boy couldn't hear him but was infact reading the older teens lips.
Steve and Bucky had taught the boy, when Steve got bad ear infections that left his hearing with something to be desired, they had learned. In order to make things easier Steve had learned to lip read and his mother was happy to bring them books on sign language. He wasn't able to pick it up the way Bucky had but he was able to get his point somewhat across
"-ood pwease" He smiled widely his words slurred due to the fact that he couldn't hear himself
Bucky ruffled the boys hair and sat up on his mattress. It was still early in the morning but he didn't mind the wake up call. Steve was still asleep on his mattress with his back to the wall and his sheets pushed down till it was resting on his hips, the blanket was only covering one leg while the rest of it was pooled on the floor.
Thor laid on his back with no blanket at all, the Norwegian blond was always as hot as a furnace and he had his arm thrown over his eyes while the other was hanging off the side of the bed, his knuckles brushing along the hardwood floor, his mouth slightly open as he snored softly.
'What do you want eat' He signed
'Cereal' Clint signed back with a sheepish smile
Bucky smiled and nodded before he lifted the blond off his lap and pulled one his black t-shirt. He helped Clint pull on his own shirt which was purple and looking a little worse for wear. It was a dark purple and sported stains from dirt and dust to spilled milk. Clint was one of the most graceful 4 year olds he'd ever met but sometimes when he was extremely tired or in a bit of a grumpy mood making his movements a little less graceful but he made far less of a mess the any other 4 year old, Tony Included.
Once they were properly dressed Bucky rested the boy on his hip and went to the kitchen. After months of practice he had no trouble balancing Clint on his hip and using his bad hand to reach around the kitchen for what he needed.
He remembered the fire clearly. He and Steve had been having a sleepover when the gas stove had started to leak. Steve's beloved mother had went to make them popcorn for a movie when the fire had started. The whole of his left arm had been burned and sometimes the skin felt tight when he forgot to put lotion one it but he was happy that he was able to keep his arm and the Steve had been okay too. The back of the older blonds shirt had caught fired and the scars marred his back but Steve hadn't cared about the scars only that his mother had died from her injuries. Steve had been devastated.
Sara had adopted Bucky after his mother had passed and they had both been sent to the same orphanage to keep them together as long as possible. Steve was to stubborn and angry to let he and Bucky be separated and Bucky had agreed so what did they do.
They ran away
They Had Met Tony first when he had been screaming bloody as a man tried to drag him into a rather expensive looking car. They had took him home and he became one of there own. They found out later that the man was Tony's godfather and that Tony was in fact Tony Stark they hadn't questioned why he didn't want to go home but they knew that he must of had a damn good reason if he was willing to scream the way he had. he had been 7 years old back then.
The met Natasha when she was 14 a few months later. Her and Tony had looked at each other and from then on they had a odd relationship to say the least. Natasha hadn't gone back to the apartment with them and they would see her on the streets from time to time but the first time she had officially become theirs it was because they had found her in a back ally where a man was pointing a knife at her. He look just as ragged as any other homeless man but twice as desperate. They had stepped in when the man had tried to move closer to her, demanding she give him everything she had. When it was all said and done Tony had Taken her hand and started leading her toward the apartment with Bucky and Steve on there heels, she had looked back at them with a raised eyebrow but hadn't said anything further. They got her a mattress from another abandoned apartment in the building and cleared out the unused bedroom. Her and Bucky had even found nails and Steve had used some of there money they had saved up to buy more blankets and clothes line to make a privacy curtain that Natasha had appreciated.
They met Thor and Loki 5 months later when the raven haired pre-teen had tried to pickpocket Steve. He had gotten caught and when Thor had found them on the somewhat crowded street corner he apologized profusely and insisted on repaying them for there kindness for not turning Loki in. Bucky had looked at Steve and smiled inwardly. They had found a couple more strays. Loki had been 12 and Thor was 17, 18 in less then a month.
They didn't really know how Tony had found Bruce in the middle of central park. Steve had just shrugged and lifted the 5 year old onto his shoulders while Bucky did the same with Tony. The others were back ay the apartment and it was Natasha's turn to make dinner. She made the best soup
They hadn't found any strays in those two years. They made friends with some adults from a local gang but that had been it. They still saw Pietro and Wanda from time to time but no one ever really heard from Scott Summers, he had taken the fall for Pietro when he had been caught shop lifting. From what Wanda had heard he had been shipped off to a boarding school somewhere in Westchester, New York with an off handed comment about red tinted sun glasses.
He shook himself out of his thoughts and set Clint down in a chair and poured him a bowl of cereal before putting it back up in the cabinet over the sink, he smiled fondly at the memory of why they started putting the cereal up there in the first place. Tony had wanted to help with breakfast and had climbed onto the counter to get on top of the fridge. He had knocked down one of the cereal boxes while grabbing another and created a big mess of Fruit Loops, Cheerios, and frosted flakes. The only box that was spared had been the Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
He watched the four year old munch happily away on the surgery cereal with a fond smile before he went back into the living room it was still early but it was his and Steve's turn to go out to the stores and get what they needed. He knew for a fact that Tony was allergic to almonds and that Clint was allergic to strawberries.
He shook the blond teens shoulder till the teen finally stopped grumbling and sat up, leveling him with a sleepy glare.
"Come one now Steve, up you get. Its our turn to get supplies and we promised Clint we would bring him with us this time"
Steve nodded and pushed off his blanket and stretched before he pulled on on a red t-shirt. His hair was sleep tousled, he grinned, his friend reminded him of a certain blond with blue eyes that had jumped on his stomach that very same morning.
He grabbed Clint's hearing aids from were they rested on the corner of his mattress. They had originally planed on having Clint share a bed with Bruce but the blond hadn't wanted to, refusing to go any farther then Bucky or Steve's mattress when it was time for bed. Neither teen minded and Bucky liked that he trusted him enough to stay with him at night. He planned on keeping the boy safe, no matter what it took to do so. Clint was still eating when he and Steve stepped into the room. He knew the blond was happy when he ruffled Clint's hair and the boy didn't flinch. He still had an issue with people touching him and whenever someone was mad he made himself scarce. The others though he hid somewhere in the apartment but Bucky and Steve knew he hid in one of the apartments on the floor above them.
Grabbing his own bowl of cereal he ate quickly, Steve had always been a fast eater, before he and Bucky got to work setting out more bowls of cereal for the others. not even 10 minutes later Bruce and Tony walked in, Tony already talking very happily about what he wanted to do someday
Natasha, Thor, and Loki came in a few minutes later and grabbed their own bowls of cereal. Natasha, Steve and Bucky talking quietly over by the sink while Thor helped Clint clean up the cup of water he had spilled giggling as Tony and Bruce flicked water at each other playfully.
"So whats the plan today, Clint is very good and he is quite good at pit pocketing but i don't think you should let him out of your sight. He is also very good at blending in" she said seriously as she took a bite of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
"If anything happens and he gets caught on of us will step in. Well have money in our pocket and pay whatever is owed. He wont be far from us and well be able to make a quick get away if we need to" Steve said seriously.
"As long as the cops don't get involved well be good, its very unlikely that someone will call the cops on a 4 your old and an incredibly apologetic older brother" Bucky said as he tied his hair into a low ponytail at the nape of his neck
"True but lets not take to many chances, we've been lucky so far this month, our luck is bound to run out at some point" His features all business, he took his role as older brother very seriously, as did Bucky
"Alright we should get ready" He said to Steve "Clint come on you gotta get ready"
Clint beamed and slid off his chair, rushing into the living room and flopping onto Bucky's mattress with a giggle.Squirming away from the older teen when he went to wrestle him into a long sleeved blue shirt and a heavy green sweatshirt. It was a size to large but it was clean and warm. The perfect protection against the late November cold.
Steve did the same over by his bed, downing a long sleeved blue shirt and a grey hoody that he zipped up half way before putting on a pair of dark blue rimmed glasses he had bought from a dollar store. The perfect accessory to make him look more like a regular high school kid and not a street rat.
When Bucky was done dressing there youngest brother he threw on a short sleeved red shirt over his black tank top with a dark grey sweatshirt. He had always been less affected by cold then most but he wanted to be a good example, besides Steve would harass him for hours if he didn't wear at least wear the sweatshirt.
Once they were ready they made sure Clint knew the plan before calling out towards the kitchen that they were leaving before Clint climbed onto Steve's back as they descended the fire escape. Leaving the small alley and walking into the crowded bustling streets. Some of the streets occupants gave them a wide birth while others didn't spare them a second look. Bucky had managed to snag a wallet, none of them liked to steal but if they wanted to live then they had no other choice. Thor worked odd jobs as often as he could and they managed to get by on the money he brought home from cash he got under the table. they stole when Thor couldn't bring money home and they absolutely couldn't get by. Natasha once suggested that she hang out in dark alleys and corners that got plenty of traffic but they had shut the idea down immediately. It just wouldn't fly. No one said anything when Steve sometimes disappeared in the middle of the night and a few dollars magically appeared in the coin jar they kept on top of the fridge but that was only when they were absolutely desperate with no other options most often after a few days of pit pocketing that hadn't panned out.
No one ever mentioned it.
Not when Bucky disappeared for a night either.
It didn't take them long to reach the subway station. It was 8.25$ to get them across town but it was better then walking with Clint in the bitter cold. And They had another ten dollars in singles for the ride back home.
The street corner they settled on was busy and perfect for the plan that they made sure Clint understood. It was less then an hour into their work when things went to shit.
Steve had taken his eyes off of Clint for less then a second as a man in a rush bumped into him and he lost sight of Clint in the crowd. Panic swept through him in a huge wave. Bucky saw Steve's panicked face from his spot in the crowd and knew immediately that he lost sight of Clint and the first thing he did was start to look for a messy mop of blond hair.
"Clint" He dimly heard Steve call out over the rushing blood in his ears.
"Steve, Bucky" Clint turned in a circle in confused terror, Steve had been right there but now he wasn't and he was scared that Steve and Bucky had left him there just like Barney had.
The more rational part of his brain knew it wasn't true but he couldn't help but let his fears control him as he turned in what felt like endless circles. He fell onto his butt when he bumped into someone's legs. The man was wearing a pair of jeans and a blue button down shirt walking hand in hand with a man in and army uniform. A patch on his left breast read "Fury".
"Hey kid you alright" The man bent down and pulled him to his feet with a frown "Are you out here by yourself"
With a quiet sniff Clint shook his head "I lost my bwother. He looks like me but bigger, his names Steve and his boyfrwend's name' Bucky"
"Well I'm sure their around here somewhere, we'll help you find them" The man smiled, trying to be reassuring and he lifted Clint up onto his hip to give him a better view of the crowd.
"What does you brother's boyfriend look like" The man in fatigues asked looking around the bustling crowd
"Bucky has dawk hair and he's wearin' a gwey sweatshirt, Steve wears gwasses" He said a little scared, Barney had always told him not to talk to strangers and he knew better then ta go against something Barney told him but barney wasn't hear anyway.
"Clint, CLINT!" He saw a dark haired kid pulling a blond haired kid in glasses in their direction and Phil set the boy down on his feet just as the two teens broke through the crowd
"Clint aw thank god" Steve dropped to his knees and held Clint' face in his hands and kissed his forehead before bringing him into a fierce tight hug.
Clint barried his face in his big brothers grey hoody happily. He held onto a fist full of Bucky's sweatshirt dimly hearing Bucky thank the nice men over and over again for finding Clint as they introduced themselves as Nick and Phil Fury. He didn't protest as Steve picked him up and held him close as they started to walk away, Bucky pressed closely to Steves side as he ruffled Clint's hair and kiss his forehead before they started to walk away in the direction of the subway station
Phil watched them walk away with an odd feeling in his gut, he doubted that he would never see those boys again. He just knew it