Stiles didn’t notice it right away - not with being in the hospital and finally recovering from all the damage the Nogitsune did to his body. He didn’t sleep much - still too afraid of what he’d see if he closed his eyes - so instead he snuck into Allison’s room. He would never stop being grateful that he could sneak into her room - that she was alive - that he hadn’t killed her. On her end, Allison welcomed him - rejoiced in the fact that they’d both come out ahead - both beaten everything that had been thrown at them. They were so wrapped up in being grateful they were alive that they didn’t notice they’d both slowly been pushed out of the pack. It was Allison that convinced Stiles to give sleep a shot again, but not on his own. She’d dragged him into her bed - not able to get out for long yet because of the still healing chest wound - and curled around him, tucking her head under his chin, face tilted towards the door.
“I’ve got you.” She whispered then, and he didn’t need werewolf hearing to know she was telling the truth. Trusting her to watch his back, Stiles let himself close his eyes and slept through the night for the first time in weeks. Chris had showed up in the morning with breakfast for 3, used to Stiles’ sneaking around, but he froze at the sight of his daughter watching the door with sharp eyes, Stiles fast asleep in her arms. He opened his mouth to speak and her eyes narrowed so Chris just gave a sigh, moving into the room to run a hand over her hair. Then, to his own surprise, he did the same to Stiles. The boy shifted but didn’t wake and now Allison’s gaze was warm.
“I love you.” She mouthed to her father, and with a tired smile, he mouthed it back.
Stiles was released from the hospital two weeks before Allison was set to be, but for once he didn’t run for the chance to escape, sticking with Allison instead, and the two of them talked about everything - what had happened - what could happen - where to even go from there. It was in one of those conversations that Allison pointed out what Stiles had realized but tried to ignore.
“Have you seen Scott?” She asked tentatively, and Stiles tensed before giving a slow shake of his head, gaze not leaving her face. “Isaac?” Allison asked, biting her lip, and Stiles could only shake his head again. He was used to this - being left behind by his best friend for others - first with Allison but then with Isaac, even Kira - but Allison had never been on this side of Scott - had always been the one he’d left people behind for. She’d told Stiles about their heartfelt goodbye and even Stiles had been a bit surprised by the fact that he hadn’t seen Scott around much (read: at all) but he just figured they were dealing with clean up and knew that he was fine. But he hadn’t realized Allison hadn’t seen anyone either - should have with all the time he spent in her room - but hadn’t. He could only huff out a breath, moving to the bed to wrap her in his own arms this time.
“I’m sorry.” And he meant it. Allison squeezed back so tight he thought his ribs would start creaking but he didn’t ease her away.
“Are we still pack, Stiles?” And the question hurt more than it should have at this point - after everything that had happened he should have seen it coming - but he’d still held out hope. Like all things he’d wished for, it had apparently gone ignored. He’d felt her tears then, soaking into his shirt front and squeezed her tighter. From that moment he swore he wouldn’t let this happen to her again - wouldn’t let this happen to either of them. They’d be their own damn pack, werewolves or not. He’d shifted his weight to get comfortable and Allison’s arms had tightened.
“Never again. I promise. It’s you and me now.” And he’d pressed a kiss against the top of her head, sealing the promise.
Allison wasn’t released from the hospital, instead she was sprung. Chris drove both her and Stiles back to the Argents, not even under the slightest misconception that either would go anywhere without the other. It had irked him at first - another one of the pack and his daughter - but he’d been there when Stiles could only sleep with someone there watching over him; had been there when Stiles was the only one able to calm Allison out of a panic attack. Even that day, the reason behind their leaving the hospital, he’d witnessed Stiles’ reaction when Allison’s scream had torn through the hospital, when Chris had raced to the door of her hospital room to see a nurse stumble towards him with Stiles in between her and Allison, rage in his eyes as he made himself her shield as Allison shuddered behind him, breaths too quick to mean anything good.
“She said no.” Stiles had all but snarled and the nurse had jerked back further rushing past Chris and out of the room. Stiles had stayed there though, eyes on Chris then, and Chris recognized this look so he put his hands up in easy surrender, making himself look as unthreatening as possible. He’d waited until Stiles recognized him, the violence sliding back behind recognition and the boy had shuddered before stepping back but he didn’t offer apology. Chris understood that too, understood that he would never have accepted an apology when the violence was to protect his daughter. Instead he watched as Stiles turned back to Allison and his hands were up but he didn’t touch - not until Allison’s hand shot out to grip his tightly, knees still curled to her chest.
“Hey Chris - we’re going to need your med training.” Stiles said easily, gaze never leaving Allison’s. Chris watched her grip tighten on Stiles’ but she didn’t say no. Chris moved further into the room, waiting. “We’ve got to change Ali’s bandaging.” And with that Chris knew exactly what had happened - a stranger had reached for her healing wound and she’d panicked. His chest tightened, hurting for his baby girl, but he didn’t let it show. “Alright Ali - so your dad’s gonna change your bandage, okay? And you’re gonna keep on holding both my hands, okay?” She nodded tightly, gaze flickering to her dad and back but saying nothing. Chris didn’t waste any time. He carefully peeled back the bandage stark against her breast bone - and was quick to press a new one over her stitches, carefully taping it back against her skin. Once the job was done, Allison sagged forward, tears sliding down her cheeks and she let go of Stiles’ hands to throw shaky arms around her father, sobbing quietly against his shoulder. Chris caught Stiles’ eye over his daughters shoulder and realized from the fury blazing in his eyes once again that this wasn’t the first time this had happened. His stomach turned to lead.
“We’re leaving.” He stated, and Stiles’ gaze snapped to his but didn’t disagree. Allison’s sobs tapered off and she pulled back, wiping her tears away.
“You’re not staying here.” He told her, and there was no hesitation. Within the hour, the Argents plus Stiles we’re leaving the hospital, and they didn’t look back.
“I think we should leave.” Allison announced 2 weeks after they’d left the hospital during dinner, and 3 sets of eyes snapped in her direction, the sheriff having made it from work that evening - having understood the moment he’d seen the two kids together there’d be no separating them. He’d seen it with Scott all those years ago and it hadn’t surprised him at all to see it now with Allison.
“Leave as in leave Beacon Hills?” Stiles was the first to ask, and Allison nodded resolutely.
“I know you’ve been doing your classes online anyways. You’ve practically graduated already. I could do online courses too until we graduate. I know you were looking at N.Y.U., Stiles.” She told him, and Stiles just stared back, unblinking. Neither parent spoke, watching their two children talk it out without either uttering a word before finally Stiles blinked, offering a shrug.
“If that’s what you wanna do, Ali.” He looked at his dad then, and John could only huff out a breath.
“I’ve known for a while you’d never end up staying here. At least if you’re in New York I’ll have somewhere cool to visit you.” And Stiles snorted out a laugh, leaning over to knock their shoulders together. All three of them looked at Chris then.
“We already own a condo in New York.” He conceded, and Stiles and Allison both shared a grin.
“Guess we better start packing.”
New York found them realizing that the supernatural community was way bigger than they’d expected - way bigger than they could have imagined what with the closed nature of Beacon Hills. They were approached within weeks of arriving - despite the Argent name and Chris’ growly exterior - and managed to pay their way through university from consulting alone, though Stiles’ growing power as a Spark had them gaining other odd jobs too. It was Allison who had to comfort Stiles this time when the Spark broke down under the realization that it had never been him that was the problem, but the old pack. He’d gone so long thinking that the issue was him, that the reason nothing went right was his fault, the reason he had trouble keeping up the friendships was his fault, but being sought after by literally hundreds of supernatural people for his knowledge and expertise proved that wrong. Even as Stiles raged and then sobbed, Allison kept watch over him, being the one he could lean on, even drawing her father in until they had Stiles boxed between them.
“I don’t understand.” Stiles mumbled, hands tugging at his hair, and Allison took on of his hands, tugging it free, Chris taking the other.
“You don’t have to.” Allison told him vehemently. “It’s on them. You’re worth hundreds of them.” she all but snarled. “Thousands.”
“They would have died without your help.” Chris put in, knowing it was all too true. “You’re the reason they survived, and one day, they’ll realize that.” Stiles hadn’t said anything further, instead he’d cried himself to sleep between them, and this time it wasn’t only Allison who vowed to make sure this never happened again.
The battle of New York happened 6 years after they’d moved to town, and following it, anything with even the slightest desire to take any form of control came popping out of the wood work. It was then that Stiles and Allison became no longer a neutral party - they became judge jury and executioner with the Tribunal at their back. Stiles was no longer sidekick but a leader - and his spark had lit the flame until it blazed. Of course, they had to be somewhat subtle - after all, with the avengers, SHIELD came to light, and it wouldn’t do to be caught by them. Consequently, it only took 6 months for SHIELD to start on their tails.
It was after one such hunt and Allison cursed their luck as she sped across town, loping across rooftops to get to the ally Stiles should be in. He’d called her on his way home from a consultation, one that should have been easy, but then he’d spotted a rogue fae they’d been on the lookout for for weeks and of course he’d followed on his own. She’d started running the moment he’d hung up to deal with the fae and then called her back minutes later.
“I killed ‘em Ali.” He told her proudly, “But he may have hurt me back.” He admitted words slurring together. “I’m gonna close my eyes so please find me, sorry.” He mumbled and then the line had gone dead. Allison cursed again but she was nearly there. She skidded to a halt on the roof at the end of the alley. She could see the dead fae, and more importantly Stiles, but she could also see the man crouching in front of him about to reach out and touch. Allison saw red and she flipped off the roof into the alley, knocking an arrow as she went and shooting it into the side of the dumpster between the unknown and Stiles. She had another arrow drawn even as the man recoiled away from the first arrow but didn’t run away completely. It had Allison narrowing her eyes.
“Touch him and it will be the last thing you ever do.” And she knew her voice was like ice, knew the violence was clear for any to hear.
“He needs medical attention.” Was the mans response instead, and Allison’s brow furrowed.
“That why you’re here?” he asked, and now his fingers were playing over the shaft of the arrow in front of him. “These are nice.”
“I know.” She repeated, then drew back the bowstring. “Now step back.” She’d already called her father - he should already be on the way with the SUV and the medical kit.
“How do I know you’re not going to shoot him full of arrows as soon as I leave?” the man asked, but there was humour in his voice. Allison scowled, why was this man even here? Stiles chose that moment to start coming to.
“Little Red, please tell me you brought water.” he groaned, and Allison was glad that even injured and previously unconscious Stiles knew better than to use her name, using instead the joint moniker they’d somehow adopted.
“Of course, Little Red,” she shot back, “But you’ve got a new friend and I don’t know if I trust him.”
“Is he cute?” and the man actually snorted out a laugh at that even as Allison answered.
“He’s standing in front of a light so I can’t see his face.” In a fluid movement Allison was jealous of because she knew she wasn’t capable of moving that well after just being unconscious, Stiles rolled away from the stranger and to his feet, ending up next to where she stood. he wavered then, unbalanced, but caught himself with a hand to her bracing shoulder. He let go quickly so he wouldn’t disrupt her balance. The man was standing now, blonde hair catching the light.
“Is attractiveness a qualifier for friendship?” and that was definitely humour.
“Nah, but it never hurts.” was Stiles’ blithe reply. “What makes you someone not afraid of entering an ally with two men down and who doesn’t run away when shot at?”
“Comes with being an agent of SHIELD I’d say.” Stiles went still and Allison knew the man noticed too.
“What’s SHIELD doing in this alley?”
“Looking for Little Red. The two of you have been talk of the town.”
“You here to try and bring us in or recruit us?”
“Doesn’t it mean the same thing?” Allison’s question was sharp, the muscles in her arms starting to strain from the effort of holding this position but not willing to let it go.
“We just want a conversation.” the man said, and damn it Allison could practically hear him grinning at them. It was offensive. “At your convenience.” he offered a card then and Stiles darted forward to grab it. the blonde didn’t stop him but Allison knew it was because his eyes were still on her, waiting to see if she’d shoot for being too close to her partner. “That’s my number. call me when you’re ready for that chat.” then he turned to walk away.
“That’s it?” Stiles asked in disbelief, and now that the blonde was at the mouth of the alley they could see his smirk. Allison itched to let go of the arrow.
“Pretty sure I fit the qualifier for friendship. Talk soon, Little Red.” and with that, he was gone. Allison waited another second before lowering her bow, and she scowled at the card in Stiles’ hand.
“You want to call him, don’t you?” she accused, and Stiles pouted at her.
“Come on, Ali, he’s not a bad ace to have in the back pocket. they definitely want to recruit us.” Allison wasn’t as convinced, but that’s when her dad arrived, SUV screeching to a halt at the end of the alley as he vaulted out from behind the wheel, hurrying over to them. Stiles chose that moment to lose his balance again, all but falling into Chris.
“Had a run in with SHIELD.” He mumbled into Chris’ shoulder as the older man herded them to the vehicle. “Recruitment speech ish?” Chris gave a sharp glance at Allison who scowled again.
“They were here before I got here. He was reaching for Stiles.” She bared her teeth in an attempt at a grin. “I stopped him.”
Stiles had never decided whether to call or not - he wasn’t really leaning in any particular direction - but 3 months later had him dialling the number, blood dripping from a gash at his temple. He was pretty sure he had at least 2 broken ribs and he was battered and bruised to hell. Allison and Chris had been taken and he knew beyond a doubt that the people who had taken them had taken them with the intent to hurt. This was payback for a previous hunt they’d been on - revenge on a job Stiles had done. They’d taken out a rogue Omega on the orders of the Tribunal, and since the Tribunal couldn’t be fought against, the pack the omega had once belonged to decided to take it out on the ones who’d taken the one wolf out. Stiles thought that was stupid - after all, the werewolf had been an omega because they were alone - pushed out - what right did any pack then have to take revenge when they could have stopped it by taking the wolf in? But that didn’t matter. A pack 20 strong had come after them and they’d been caught by surprise. It pissed Stiles off but even his Spark hadn’t been able to help much - not with Allison and Chris caught in the crossfire - not when he was injured and couldn’t focus enough to make sure they were kept from harm even while the others were hurt. So he’d pulled the card out of his wallet, slumped against a tree alone in the forest, and dialled the number.
“Barton.” The voice answered on the third ring, and Stiles only had a moment to be surprised that he’d actually been given a private number.
“So that’s your name. I’ve just been thinking of you as ‘cute agent’.” Stiles mused, and there was a snort of laughter.
“Little Red, I was starting to wonder if you’d ditched my card.”
“Before finding out if your claims of attractiveness were true or not? Blasphemous.” And that earned another laugh. Stiles sobered though, he didn’t have time to play these games, not with Chris and Allison in trouble. “I need your help.” And that cut the laugh short.
“The others - Little Red and our third, they were taken. I’m-” Stiles grimaced. “I’m in rough shape. And there’s 15 of them. We took out 5 before they knocked me out. Left me behind. Apparently they didn’t think I was as much of a threat than the two they knew by family name.” And he knew he was giving too much away, knew he was making this personal, but he couldn’t help it. “I’ll owe you one.” And he was rambling. “But I’m going after them, and I’d rather come out of it alive. You seemed to know what you were doing.”
“Where are you?” The man - Barton - asked, and Stiles grimaced.
“Uh, forest? This isn’t where I was knocked out.” Stiles admitted. “You’ve got my number, can’t you track my phone or something? I thought there were perks to being an agent of SHIELD. Don’t tell me I wasted my phone call for nothing.”
“Nah, I’ve got your location.” And Stiles rolled his eyes.
“Testing me? Rude. I called you for help. I’m kinda in your debt now if you actually show up. She’s gonna be pissed with me, but getting them back alive is worth it.”
“You guys a thing then?” And Stiles was actually thrown by the question.
“Like, dating?” He couldn’t help the bubble of laughter in reaction. Then he groaned at the pain in his ribs. “Shit. No laughing. I think two of my ribs are broken. I told her going by the same name made that seem like a thing. The two Little Reds being a couple. We are, but we’re not, exactly? I mean kinda. But. It’s complicated.” he hedged, because it was. “She’s my other half. My family. Some of the only family I’ve got left.” And that was true. He closed his eyes, letting his head fall back against the tree. “If they’ve taken either of them from me, I’m going to kill every last one of them.” There was a grunt in response and Stiles blinked his eyes open again. “That a problem?”
“Nah, but I’m wondering why you’re calling for help if you know you can kill them all.”
“You've obviously been keeping tabs on us for a while, what do you know about what we can do?”
“I know one of you has the power to level a football field. Is it safe to assume that’s you?” Stiles gave a hum of response.
“You wouldn’t be wrong. But in my shape, I wouldn’t be able to control it that much. With them alive, I can’t risk hurting them. If they’re dead, all bets are off.”
“Do you think they’re dead?”
“Not yet. But I know they’re being hurt. And that’s bad enough. So, you going to help or what?”
“I’m in bound to your location.”
“All by your lonesome?” And he couldn’t help the words that tumbled from his mouth. “Aren’t you worried about it being a trap?” That earned him a chuckle.
“Like you said, I’ve kept tabs on you. One thing you’ve proved to be is very honour bound. You follow a code, and expect people to follow their own as well. When they cross either is when they cross you.” Stiles wondered when he’d become so transparent.
“Right then.” He cleared his throat. “What’s your ETA? Any chance you’ve got a medical kit?”
“This seems to be a theme.”
“Hey, wait a second I’m not always injured. It’s not my fault people like to attack me.” He could practically hear Barton rolling his eyes.
“Whose fault is it then?”
“The people who attack me obviously. And anyways, you said I only go after people who cross me, so it really does make it not my fault.”
“So you’re one of those.”
“One of what?” Stiles demanded indignantly, and there was another snort of laughter.
“You just can’t leave anything behind. Hero type. Saving people thing. Whatever you want to call it.”
“Hey I resent that tone agent Barton. I am usually quite capable of saving myself as well as others. It’s not my fault that I’m only human in a freaky world of supernaturally enhanced beings.” He heard the whir of an engine then, and knew it was above him. “Is that you? Cause if not I think I’m about to be attacked again.” He turned to see a compact sort of jet land and then disappear from sight. “Whoa. Camouflage. Way cool.” And then the door opened and a vaguely familiar shape swaggered down the ramp that seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere, phone pressed to his ear.
“You coming to get that medical or are you going to make me drag you over?” Stiles ended the call, stumbling over to the jet, not bothering to hide his awe.
“This is so cool.” He was practically bouncing despite the pain, looking from the jet to Barton and back again. The agent was average height, with short blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He had a compound bow slung over his back and it struck a memory but Stiles was in too much pain to follow it yet.
“Get in. Medical then assault.” He was herded onto the jet and Stiles was looking everywhere at once.
“This is way awesome. Little Red’s going to be just as jealous as she will be angry. Our third won’t be much better.” He turned to Barton and without hesitation shrugged off his hoodie, carefully pulling his t-shirt over his head and hissing in pain at the motion. When the shirt was off, Barton was closer than he remembered, and Stiles started at the cool feeling of a hand pressing against his aching ribs. He looked down at the hand splayed across his skin, the calloused hands that lead to corded arms, and Stiles wondered just how long he’d been drawing a bow to get those old scars along both forearms, where he’d obviously let the draw snap against his forearm on both arms. Ambidextrous then. Handy. He chuckled to himself and winced again at the pain. “So are you going to wrap them for me or just stare?” And that earned a smirk on the well defined features of Barton’s face. He was older by a few years, but there couldn’t be even as much as a decade between them.
“You definitely broke them. And you look like you’ve been run over by a truck.”
“Do you know that from personal experience?”
“You could say that.” But he wrapped Stiles’ ribs with practiced ease. Those eyes were sharp though, and they noticed the blood hidden in the hair at his temple. Quick as a snake, his hand snapped out to catch hold of Stiles’ chin, tilting his head to the side to get a better look at the injury. “How’s the vision?”
“Good.” And at the poignant look, shrugged again, feeling exposed as he continued to stand without his shirt on. “Blurry at first, but it cleared. By the time I called you I could see just fine.” Barton nodded but still brought out a clean cloth and doused it in rubbing alcohol, cleaning out the blood. Stiles stayed still under the ministrations, waiting until the cloth came away clean and there was a bandage taped over the wound to reach for his clothes. He ditched the t-shirt - it was a ripped bloody mess, but he grabbed up his red hoodie, zipping it closed.
“How do you know where your friends are?” Barton asked, and Stiles grinned.
“Watch and learn.” And he was definitely showing off now, but hey, Barton was really attractive so what was the harm really? He was either going to die, get recruited, or have Barton attempt to arrest him so there was no harm in flirting while he could. Out of his pocket he pulled a silver arrowhead, and without a thought tossed it in the air. Gravity never pulled it down though, instead it spun in the air at eye level until it pointed north, and Stiles just grinned again before starting off. The arrowhead sped ahead, never more than 3 feet in front of Stiles in the direction they needed to go and let off a faint silver light. Stiles tossed a glance at Barton, noticed his bow was in his hand now but he had a gun strapped to each thigh with extra clips at his hips as well as the quiver on his back.
“So this is why you weren’t scared when my counterpart shot at you.” He noted, and the smirk he got in response spoke volumes.
“Definitely impressed. She held her stance the whole time. Didn’t even break a sweat. What’s her draw weight?” Stiles snorted.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Then he shrugged. “You can ask her yourself. She’ll probably be impressed with your choice of weapon. Most people think it’s archaic.” And he didn’t miss the responding quirk of lips.
“Says the guy using magic to find his partner in crime, both named after a fairytale.” Barton glanced at the hoodie he was wearing with a pointed look, smirk still clear. Stiles rolled his eyes.
“I had this hoodie long before any of this shit happened. Plus, red hides blood better.” Stiles offered as an excuse.
“So does black.” And Stiles rolled his eyes.
“Not that I’m complaining about your choice of wardrobe but I can’t exactly walk around looking like a one man army. People don’t see me as a threat. It’s a benefit.” And when he grinned, Barton wondered how anyone could look at this man and not immediately think threat. He decided to change the subject.
“How does the arrow know where she is anyways?”
“It’s hers. It’s basically just trying to return to her, but it can’t get very far from me, so it reaches for her until it can touch her while staying within my immediate range. If I have something that belongs to someone, I can find them.” And Barton didn’t miss the glance tossed his direction.
“Does that mean you could’ve found me with my number?”
“Since you gave me a card, yeah. But I don’t like to do it. It’s a bit of a breach of privacy. Plus it has to be something given to me. Like an invitation to return to owner kind of thing. I mean, I can do it otherwise, but it’s harder. This is easy.” He cast another glance Barton’s way, mouth running away from him. “I could find Little Red without the arrow.” He admitted. “She’s mine as much as I’m hers. We chose each other as family, then to go by the same name. I feel like I couldn’t exist without her anymore, she anchors me.” And he didn’t know where the words came from, why he suddenly felt the need to unburden himself of them, but he felt lighter for it. Suddenly, the arrow dropped to the ground, and Stiles dropped to a crouch in the same moment.
Barton was quick to follow the other man’s lead. He could see a building up ahead, and he cursed himself for having missed it before. He’d been so caught up in the words the man known as Little Red had been saying that he’d missed the building they’d been approaching.
“They’re in there, but we have to be careful.”
“The arrow dropping, does that mean anything?” Barton asked, only a little worried about the implication, but the other man shook his head.
“Nah, it was supposed to stop within a certain range, didn’t want us walking into a trap.” He met Barton’s gaze out of the corner of his own. “We have to be cautious. Werewolves can hear heartbeats, and they can smell people from miles away. We’re downwind, which is in our favour, but-” he reached out and grabbed the arrow then back into his pocket, pulling out a string and sliding the arrowhead onto the string before offering it.
“This will hide your heartbeat and your scent. They won’t be able to hear or smell you coming.”
“What about you?” Stiles’ grin was wolffish, and Barton couldn’t help but wonder if he’d spent too much time among the wolves he was hunting.
“Hearing me coming won’t help them, but I’ve already got myself covered.” He pulled a leather cord from under his hoodie that definitely hadn’t been there before, and the grin turned sheepish. “Sorry, I didn’t really trust you at first.” Barton wondered just what had happened that had made the other man decide he could actually trust him. He hadn’t even actually helped him get his friends back, and yet somehow he’d gained his trust. He knew, instinctively, that it was a gift he’d been given, one that not many earned, and decided in that moment he’d do his best never to betray it. Then he was turning back towards the building. He saw two men then, eyes flashing yellow in the darkness, and ducked further behind the trees.
“What’s the plan?”
“You’ve got a long range weapon. How fast can you shoot?” In response, Barton found himself showing off a bit too, drawing and shooting both sentries before they could even consider giving warning. The grin Stiles gave him this time was appreciative even as he slid from behind the trees and towards the building. He reached into his boot before he stood straight and Clint caught sight of a wicked looking knife in his hands. Then he followed Little Red into the wolves’ den.
Stiles was still amazed by how easily Barton followed him into danger, but he certainly wasn’t going to complain, not when the man moved with such dangerous grace, taking out the wolves that tried to stop them with ease. Stiles lead the way, now that he was so close he could feel Allison and Chris, could feel their heartbeats as if they were extensions of his own. His only little pack, without a single werewolf. They were still alive and that was the only thing stopping him from razing this building to the ground. He found Chris first, found him strung up by his wrists, a set of claw marks oozing blood across his chest. He was barefoot and there was water on the ground, and Stiles didn’t miss the car battery that was currently off by the door but that had probably pumped electricity into the water and then into Chris. He felt his rage bubbling and ripped the wires out of the battery, tossing it into the hall. Chris’ head shot up at the sound, eyes focusing on his face despite the haze of pain Stiles could see.
“Stiles.” And there was relief in his voice. Stiles winced at the use of his name but moved quickly to where Chris was, getting him out of the chains, and taking the mans weight when he couldn’t hold his own.
“Shit.” The curse had Chris stiffening but Stiles gave a soothing squeeze to his shoulder.
“It’s okay, he’s with me. Don’t think he believed me when I said they’d be torturing you.” Chris leaned back and Stiles saw the apology for having used his name but Stiles shrugged. It would have gotten out eventually. “Did you see where they took Ali?” And Chris’ grey eyes became shards of ice but he shook his head. “Okay. Barton, rustle up my friend here a shirt. And wrap him up as best you can.” He stepped back as the archer took Chris’ weight and headed for the door.
“Stiles,” and he turned back at Chris’ hoarse voice. “They knew about Scott.” Electricity crackled around Stiles as he struggled to control his fury and he gave a terse nod. He was going to tear these bastards apart.
He found Allison in a room almost across the building, and he was by her side in an instant. The skin where her scar had been was ripped open and she was unconscious but the tear tracks on her cheeks spoke volumes.
“Came to save your precious other half, Little Red? Or do you prefer Stiles?” The words were mocking and Stiles spun, right hand clenched around his knife the other a tight fist.
“This wasn’t about the omega.” He stated, voice flat, and the man who came out of the shadowed corner with bright red eyes scoffed.
“A Spark and two Argents who once belonged to a true alphas pack. Turned your back on them just so you could hunt our kind.” Stiles’ eyes narrowed. So it was one of those. These wolves weren’t after them for revenge but for a petty sense of self righteousness. Because they’d left a pack (no mention of course on how they’d been forced out), and then killed a werewolf (and of course it didn’t matter that said werewolf had killed a dozen people first), they were the enemy. He smiled and the wolf seemed startled, jerking back from the expression as if he’d expected anger instead of this bloodthirsty grin.
“So are you going to try and fight me then? Alpha wolf versus Spark?” He twirled the knife in his hand, waving the wolf forward. “Bring it on, pup.” and unable to stand the insult, the alpha charged.
When the alpha was dead, Stiles turned back to Allison, and without any hesitation he pressed his hands over her wound. He watched his spark come to life in the bright light that lit between his hands and her skin, felt the pain as he transferred her injuries to himself - felt his skin ripping itself apart even as hers healed. Even as it happened her eyes opened and she saw him, tears filling her eyes.
“You found me.”
“Always.” He promised, and he meant it. They were two halves of a whole - they were both Little Red but they were also Stiles and Allison and they balanced each other in a way the pack never could have. “I’m sorry I took so long.” He told her, even as the blood slipped down his chest. He knew he’d have a scar to match hers but he didn’t mind. She just smiled despite her tears and when he lifted her off the table she’d been on she wrapped her arms around his shoulder. They’d both grown enough that he knew she was still one of the best fighter’s he knew despite this, and she knew it wasn’t weak to lean on him. He carried her back to where Chris and Barton were, saw them both look up sharply at his arrival, concern shining through for the woman in his arms.
“We’re okay, just a bit shaky.” Stiles said easily, and though Barton nodded, Chris’ eyes were sharp on his face. Then -
“You’re bleeding.” Allison stiffened in his arms, shifting a bit to look up at him. He knew she could still feel the echo of her pain and so wouldn’t have noticed yet that he’d taken the wound from her. One shaky arm unhooked from around his neck to reach for the zipper and she tugged it down hesitantly. When the would became visible Allison let out a soft sob, hiding her face again against his shoulder. He pressed a kiss to her temple in apology.
“Can I get one of you fine gents to zip me back up? Nothing we can do until we get back to the jet anyways.” He said easily, though his arms tightened on Ali. It was Chris who moved forward, doing the zipper up before he shifted his hand to grasp the back of Stiles’ neck, pressing their foreheads together even as he settled his other hand on Allison’s shoulder. Stiles closed his eyes, grounding himself in these two, in his family, before he opened his eyes and stepped back. “Alright let’s blow this popsicle stand.” He said with a smirk, and it got a huff from both Argents. When he looked to Barton the agent was watching them with a sharp knowing that almost made Stiles uncomfortable but he shrugged the feeling off. Now wasn’t the time or place.
“Come one.” Barton said gruffly, pulling the older man’s arm across his shoulders and drawing his handgun so he still had a weapon in hand as he lead the way out of the building. He darted glances back at the other two, Stiles and Allison, Little Red and Little Red, and couldn’t help his frown. The man he was helping - Chris he was fairly certain - managed a snort of laughter.
“You’re trying to figure out how he got that injury.” Chris noted, and Barton just gave a wary look. It earned him a huff before Chris’ mouth tightened.
“He took it from Allison. That must have been how he found her.” And that had Barton blinking in surprise. Transferring someone else’s injury to themselves? That was quite the power. “She has an old scar there from - from our past.” Chris caged, and Barton immediately understood. These werewolves, they’d struck where it would hurt most - and from the looks of Allison in Stiles’ arms, it had started to work. He felt a surge of awe for the younger man - who had to have been in a lot of pain carrying another person with the shape he was in - broken ribs, bruised to hell, and now with his chest slashed up, but the look on his face said he’d do it all again without a moments hesitation. He couldn’t help but be awed by what that kind of loyalty and devotion meant.
“I’ve got a medical kit back at the jet. I’ll patch him up again.” And that had Chris shooting him another look.
“You’re the agent, aren’t you?”
“What gave me away?” And much to his surprise a grin flashed across Chris’ face.
“Stiles never goes halfway when it comes to family.” Then the grin faded as he glanced back as well. “How bad is he?”
“Couple broken ribs, bruises that’ll last awhile. And that last sucker we saw. Ribs are wrapped but nothing we can do about those bruises. We can bandage up that last one as soon as we’re back.”
“We have something for bruises. I’m going to need a phone.” At Barton’s skeptical look he explained. “I’ve got to call his dad.” Chris admitted, looking as if he’d just swallowed something sour, and Barton couldn’t help his bark or laughter.
“Better he hears it from me. He’ll want to meet us back in New York.”
“I can have him on a first class plane.” Barton offered, far more amused than he should’ve been, and this time when Chris looked at him it was far too knowing.
“Has he realized who you are yet?” Chris asked, and Barton’s eyes narrowed.
“He knows my name.”
“He knows the Barton part. I’m surprised the bow didn’t click for him. It will though. So do you generally prefer agent Barton to Hawkeye?” There was a smirk on Chris’ face but it was in no way malicious so Barton grinned as well.
“You gonna tell him?” Chris snorted out a laugh.
“I’m looking forward to the look on his face when he realized he called his favourite superhero for backup, and said hero actually showed up.” And Barton wasn’t sure why his face flushed red at the words but he knew Chris didn’t miss it if the ensuing chuckle was anything to go by.
They were back on the jet, Allison sitting next to Chris as Stiles stood in front of Barton who was meticulously cleaning out the gashes over his breastbone. Because of this, he felt it the moment Stiles went stiff.
“Oh my God.” He looked up from his work at the words and at Chris’ chuckle behind him. Stiles however was staring right at him, eyes wide in disbelief.
“Oh my God.” He repeated and now Allison’s giggles joined in. “You’re Hawkeye.” And this time Allison burst out laughing. Barton felt the tips of his ears burning as he focused on what he was doing again, but he hadn’t missed the awed grin, or the softness to the younger mans eyes when his partner laughed.
Stiles woke up with a groan. For a moment he couldn’t remember how he’d gotten here - how he’d ended up in his own bed and why he ached so much - but then a body moved next to him and it all came crashing back.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” Allison asked softly, lifting her head from the pillow next to his so she could see his face. Her expression was creased with worry and he offered a weak smile.
“I’m starving.” He told her, and she made a face at his blatant avoidance on the question but leaned over to press a kiss to his cheek.
“Your dad’s making pancakes.” And that had Stiles freezing.
“Dad’s here?” And then he was frowning. He didn’t actually remember getting back the apartment. “Ali, how’d we get back here?” And the concern on Allison’s face was genuine.
“The werewolves-” but he waved her off.
“No after that. When I realized I’d actually called Hawkeye, HAWKEYE, as backup.” And she smiled, though her worry was still there.
“You passed out once you were all bandaged up. The pain caught up with you.” And it was said with soft reprimand. “Hawkeye brought us back here. He said he’d hold off recruiting you until you were better. Your dad got here a couple hours later. Apparently your agent set him up with a fancy plane.” And Stiles couldn’t help the flush at Allison calling Hawkeye his agent.
“That’s all he said?” Allison shook her head, smile playing at the corners of her mouth.
“He also said next time you all him for back up he wants to know in advance that he’s up against supernaturals.” Stiles scoffed.
“Please. He should have known when I called it was supernatural. We’re Little Red. What else would it be?” And Allison’s smile widened.
“Very true. Are you up for pancakes?” And Stiles realized in that moment that she’d been very careful not to touch his chest.
“I’m fine, Ali.” He told her softly, reaching out and pulling her in. She went easily though she was still careful not to put her weight against him.
“You didn’t have to take it.” She whispered, and he just squeezed her tighter.
“Yes I did.” And this time when she pulled back, she nodded.
Stiles expected a phone call from the archer in question, what he didn’t expect was for said archer to show up on his doorstep in worn jeans and an old t-shirt with a one eyed dog in tow. Stiles just stared a moment before stepping back and the dog took that as invitation to bound forward, almost knocking him on his ass. Stiles burst out laughing, giving the dog a thorough rub.
“And what’s your name? Hawkeye jr.?” The man in the doorway snorted.
“Lucky.” And Stiles snickered. “And it’s Clint. My name.” Stiles nodded in acknowledgment, stepping back further, dog on his heels.
“Lock the door behind you.” He called back to Clint even as he moved out of sight, and Clint could only do as ordered before following the route Stiles had taken. His reflexes were immediately in action, catching the object lobbed towards his head the moment he was in the doorway, and he blinked down at the beer bottle now in his hand. He blinked over at Stiles who was taking a sip of his own and when he glanced down at Lucky he saw the dog chowing down on what looked like leftover steak. When he just looked back at Stiles again, the younger man took pity on him.
“You helped save my partner and her dad last week. The least I can do is give you a beer.” And that was something Clint understood. Grateful, he opened the bottle and took a swig.
“Where’s the rest of the crew today?” Clint found himself asking, watching as Stiles jumped up to sit on the counter, leaning against the cupboards.
“Chris is grocery shopping and Allison’s teaching archery at the community centre around the corner.” That had Clint grinning.
“Woman after my own heart.” Stiles rolled his eyes.
“She almost went to the olympics, but then decided it would be too much exposure. Considering our work.” And that peaked Clint’s interest. He’d gathered she was a good shot considering the move she’d pulled in the alley, but he didn’t realize she was that good. It seemed Stiles saw that in his face cause he cackled. “She’s pretty amazing. I’m pretty sure she’s actually a Disney princess. When they’re not crazy and murderous, werewolves fall to her feet. It’s hilarious and disgusting at the same time. I’m always waiting for birds to start flocking to her.” He rambled, and Clint rolled his eyes, taking another sip of his beer.
“That why you go by Little Red?” And surprisingly enough, Stiles pouted. Clint didn’t know how he felt about the fact that the expression had him wanting to flush.
“No. It’s because Allison thinks I’m werewolf bait.” He muttered, and Clint blinked.
“As in I might have had a few werewolf stalkers who were creeping creepers who creep because they think my sarcasm covers some sort of desire to be submissive.” His smirk was sharp and violent. “I corrected their mistakes. But since it happened more than once.” He shrugged. “Little Red.” Clint couldn’t hide his snort of laughter.
“Werewolf bait. That’s good.” Stiles narrowed his eyes but didn’t comment, changing the subject instead.
“So what brought you by?”
“Was in the neighbourhood. Figured it was easier to drop by.” Stiles slipped off the counter but instead of moving further he slid right to the floor where Lucky immediately draped himself over the other man’s lap, nuzzling in. Stiles curled around Lucky in return, burying his face against the scruff of Lucky’s neck. He glanced up at Clint, face still pressed against Lucky, gaze unreadable.
“Well I do appreciate Lucky. Cutest dog of my life.” Clint rolled his eyes, though he didn’t disagree.
“You might not feel that way when he steals all the pizza.” That earned him a quirked brow. “He’s a pizza dog. He could be anywhere in the world and he’ll still show up the minute you have pizza.” Stiles snorted out a laugh and the both heard the door open. Lucky perked up but didn’t leave his perch.
“Stiles?” That was Chris, Clint realized.
“In the kitchen. We have visitors.” The older man appeared in the doorway, bags of groceries in hand, and there was a tense moment of silence as his eyes swept over the three occupants of the room before he sighed, rolling the tension from his shoulders before he forced himself to relax and started to unload the groceries. Clint was surprised to see how Chris’ hand immediately reached for Stiles whenever he passed, even if it was just to brush a hand over the younger man’s head, and he realized these people were as much a pack as any werewolves he’d come across.
“You guys used to run with wolves, didn’t you?” He blurted out before he could help himself, and while Chris stiffened, Stiles laughter guffawed out of him, startling Lucky but not displacing him.
“What gave us away?” And the look in the younger man’s eyes was wicked. Clint hid behind his beer, taking a gulp to avoid answering, and Stiles snickered, standing despite how woeful he seemed to be about leaving the comfort on the floor wrapped up with Lucky. He moved so he was beside Chris, brushing their shoulders together, eyes still on Clint. The tension in Chris’ shoulders relaxed at the touch but his gaze was still sharp when he looked around at Clint. “You’re right. We did, back in the day. Didn’t work out though.”
“Beacon Hills, right?” And why couldn’t he shut up? But he was curious - even more so after having looked into the history of one Stiles Stilinski and the two Argent’s left stateside.
“Someone did their homework.” Chris noted, tone wary, and that’s when Lucky decided to greet him too, butting his head against the older man’s hand, looking up woefully for a pet as if he hadn’t just been loved up by Stiles. Chris obviously recognized that if the amusement in his eyes was anything to go by, but he still leaned down to oblige the dog.
“You can’t really blame him.” Stiles said easily as if Clint wasn’t in the room, despite the fact that Stiles spoke while looking directly at him, smirk in place. “After all, I did drag him into a werewolf lair extremely outnumbered. And he did bring us back home so that’s a point to him. Also would’ve given him last names to work with since it’s not that hold to get ahold of a lease as a government official who works with basically the top hacker in the world.”
“I resent that comment, I got your names all on my own.” Clint muttered, and it surprised him when Chris actually chuckled, no longer wary but shaking his head as he laughed, glancing over at Stiles.
“You sure know how to pick them.” Chris said, but he wasn’t angry anymore. Instead he looked back at Clint. “Are you just here for the recruitment speech or do you want dinner?”
When Allison got home, she couldn’t even be surprised at finding agent Barton and a dog in their living room, her dad in his usual armchair, Stiles sprawled across one side of the couch, one knee up and leaning against the back of the couch, the other hanging over the edge of the couch and rubbing softly against the dog’s side. Agent Barton was on the other end, one leg tucked under him while the other was tucked under who she assumed was his dog curled up on the floor. Rather than say anything, she just crawled between them, settling so she was leaning back against Stiles’ chest, and before she could hesitate she tucked her feet under the agent’s thigh, pulling Stiles’ arms around her torso, tangling the fingers of her left hand with his over her stomach. She felt the agent tense for a moment before relaxing back against the couch. His hand tentatively rested against her ankle, and she turned to look at the TV, hiding a small smile. Stiles’ finger squeezed against her own though, pleased, and she squeezed back. They’d definitely adopted the agent and his dog.
From Little Red:
Are you stateside again yet? Lucky’s been antsy. I think he misses you.
From Riding Hood:
Ignore him. Lucky’s fine. Did you teach him to fetch arrows? He’s definitely made classes easier. The kids love him.
From Little Red:
Ignore HER. Lucky definitely misses you. He wouldn’t even eat the pizza I brought him home.
From Riding Hood:
He didn’t eat the pizza because it had anchovies and broccoli on it. Stiles is using the dog as an excuse because he misses you.
From Little Red:
Rude. I’m not using Lucky. It’s not my fault you don’t understand him as much as I do.
From Riding Hood:
Come home so we can stop listening to Stiles whine about you being gone.
From Little Red:
From Little Red:
From Little Red:
are you coming home?
Clint looked at the texts that had been coming to the group conversation he’d found himself roped into and realized that he’d been adopted into the strange little family without even realizing it. Not only that, but Stiles and the Argent’s had become his first thought when he’d had to go out of town and needed someone to watch Lucky. They were his first thought when he was in town and wondering what to do with his time. And they were the only people he actually felt anxious over when he didn’t hear from any of them for more than a day at a time. They were the first people he told when he had to leave town for work, and the first people he sent the ‘still alive’ text too when he made it home. Oddly enough, home was more often than not at their apartment. He was pretty sure most of Lucky’s stuff had made it’s way there, and now that he was thinking about it, he realized he actually slept over a lot. It had started after a late night of trash talking the horror movie they’d all gone to see together; because after that day he’d shown up he’d found himself invited to pretty much everything and he couldn’t say he minded one bit; making fun of the cheap scares and then ragging each other on the parts that had actually succeeded in scaring them despite their bravado. They’d gone back to the larger apartment for pizza and conversation, and then suddenly it had been almost 1 in the morning and when Clint had made noise about going home to sleep Stiles had waved him off.
“Take my room. I can bunk with Ali. Lucky’s welcome to bed space as well, he always seems to nap in there anyways.”
“We’re not kicking you out of your room.” Clint waved off, and Stiles shrugged.
“Okay, you can share it with me then, but it’s late. No reason to go home when there’s plenty of space here.” Clint had blinked at the offer but before he could argue Stiles had already gotten up, waving Lucky after him who happily bounded down the hall. He watched Allison get to her feet and stretch with a yawn.
“Whoever wakes up first is in charge of coffee.” She told him before disappearing down the hall as well, and Clint just turned to look at Chris, blinking in confusion. The older man just clapped a hand on his shoulder as he passed.
“It’s easier just to go with it.” He admitted, disappearing as well and Clint found himself alone in the living room.
“Are you coming or not?” Stiles’ voice called and Clint shook his head before he followed the voice and found himself in the doorway of what had to be Stiles’ bedroom. The walls were covered in whiteboards with all sorts of information displayed on them, and he found himself momentarily distracted before Stiles grabbed his arm and dragged him in the room, closing the door behind him.
“Can’t sleep with the door open.” Stiles said before going to the dresser against the far wall and rummaging in the top drawer. Clint realized he’d already changed into pyjamas and soon found pants and a t-shirt being tossed at him.
“Bathroom’s through there.” He waved at a second door. “Knock first, I share with Ali.” Clint nodded, but instead of leaving the room, he just stripped down, pulling on the borrowed pyjamas. Stiles was already curled up under the covers, one hand tangled in Lucky’s fur where the dog had taken over the middle of the bed. Clint just rolled his eyes, clicking off the light before climbing in the other side of the bed. “Night.” Stiles had murmured, voice already heavy with sleep, and Clint realized he had a dopey smile as he pressed his face into his designated pillow.
And now that he was remembering that day, he realized that he actually spent most nights in Stiles’ bed, and rarely was it only with Stiles, Allison usually ended up curled up with them as well. He must have gone pale because Nat cut through his revery, voice sharp.
“Are you hurt?” He blinked up at her, realized she was watching him with an expression pinched with worry, and shook his head.
“I think I’m dating Little Red.” Her eyebrows shot up at that before a slow smirk spread across her face as she dropped into the seat next to him on the jet.
“You’ve been dating for 6 months.” She informed him, and he gaped at her. “So when are you going to introduce us?” He rubbed a hand over his face, wondering just how this had happened.
“Uh did I mention Little Red is more than one person?” And that earned him real surprise.
“You’re dating two people?” And he shook his head at that.
“No, no definitely not.” he denied immediately, and then he realized that wasn’t necessarily the truth. “Or, well, maybe? I think with him, but maybe her too? They live together. Her dad lives there too.” He rambled, and that had Natasha frowning.
“How old are they?” And Clint would’ve laughed if he wasn’t still in shock.
“Old enough.” He told her, before he realized he actually had no idea how old they were except above legal drinking age. But no he was pretty sure they were at least in their late 20s - and Chris was definitely in his mid 50s, so it wasn’t a huge age gap. He swallowed, wondering just how big the age gap was. He was in his 30s - it should be okay - right? Natasha noticed his panic because her hand linked with his, squeezing.
“Are you happy?” And Clint thought of how there was always people waiting for him at home, people who were happy to see him, who kept his favourite foods stocked, who left quirky and sometimes passive aggressive notes on the fridge or the bathroom mirror, and he felt the smile replace his frown.
“Yeah, Nat. I am.” She squeezed his hand again.
“Good. I want to meet them.” Then her lips quirked into another smile. “And I want to be there when you tell Coulson you’ve been dating the assets he wanted you to bring in that you claimed to have lost.” And Clint went pale again. Shit.
Clint unlocked the door with the key that had appeared alongside his own a month into the sleepovers and he realized it was just another sign he’d missed. He crouched down to greet Lucky who bounded towards him the moment he stepped in the door, kicking it closed behind him. Something delicious was cooking, the smell filling the hall and so he followed his nose and grumbling stomach into the kitchen, Lucky on his heels. He found Chris in the kitchen mashing potatoes with a pot roast cooling on the rack. He glanced over to where Clint was and offered a grunt in greeting.
“You’re on vegetable duty. I forgot to cook the asparagus and Stiles has not so subtly told me that’s what he wanted with dinner.” Clint was halfway through grilling the asparagus on the stove top when he remembered his dilemma and he turned to look at Chris so he wouldn’t miss anything in the other mans expression.
“Did you know that I’ve been dating them? Stiles and Allison?” He asked, and after a moment of silence, Chris actually laughed.
“You didn’t?” He asked then, and Clint scowled, though it confirmed his suspicion that he was actually dating two people at once.
“How long?” And now the look Chris gave was careful.
“6 months or so. This a problem?” And Clint was shaking his head before his mind caught up with the question.
“What? No, of course not. I just - how didn’t I know?” And he ran a hand over the back of his head, nervous and uncomfortable. “I have a shit track record with this kind of thing. And if I didn’t even know I was doing it then I can’t have been doing it right.” And maybe that was the biggest problem. He wanted to be dating them - but more than that, he wanted to do it right. The hand on his shoulder had him jumping but he didn’t shrug the hand off, turning towards the older man instead.
“My best advice? Stiles probably didn’t say anything because he was afraid you’d scare off. No matter how much bravado he shows, he expects to be tossed over for anything else that comes along.” And there was an anger to Argents gaze that told him the story from behind that came from the werewolf pack in Beacon Hills, as most of the shared bad memories of this little family seemed to. “Allison? She’s happy with what her and Stiles have built, happy with the way you fit. She’s waiting for Stiles to say something, because it’s him you have to prove something to. She decided to trust you the day you helped Stiles get us back. You want to do it right? Don’t let anything change.” And Clint nodded. That was definitely something he could do. Chris nodded, going back to the food he was preparing. “Oh and Clint?” Clint looked back over and caught the smirk on Argents face. “Give him shit for not telling you.” Clint nodded, grinning at the asparagus. That he could also do.
Clint bided his time. He didn’t say anything through dinner, basking instead in how good it felt to be back, especially now that he’d realized he really was supposed to be here - really was welcome. He sprawled on the couch with Stiles and Allison, this time with Stiles’ legs thrown over his lap, the younger man’s head pillowed on Allison’s thigh, her hand carding through his hair. Allison rose first, brushing a kiss across Stiles’ forehead and then one across Clint’s cheek.
“I’m going on that surveillance run.” she announced, heading for the door, squeezing her dad’s shoulder on the way by. He stood to follow, grabbing his own gun even as she readied her bow. “Don’t wait up. We’ll bring breakfast.” and they waved their own goodbyes in response. When the door closed behind them, key clicking in the lock, Clint nudged Stiles’ legs off his lap, heading into what had become their bedroom, and he shook his head at the fact that half the dresser was his now (and how had he even missed that?) and got ready for bed. He’d just settled under the covers when Stiles wandered in, stripping without any hesitation before sliding pjs on and climbing into bed as well. He was flipping through an article on his phone when Clint finally asked the question.
“Were you ever going to tell me we were dating?” He had to work hard to hide his smile as Stiles fumbled his phone and it clattered to the floor and his gaze snapped to Clint’s, eyes wide with a deer in headlights quality.
“What?” He all but squeaked, and it took all of Clint’s training to not even crack a smile.
“Why didn’t you tell me we were dating? You, me, and Allison?” He rephrased, and watched Stiles’ gaze dart from point to point around the room before landing back on Clint again.
“I - uh - I’m not - uh” he stuttered, and Clint finally took pity on him.
“I’m not complaining.” Clint said then, keeping his tone light though his eyes never left Stiles’ and so he didn’t miss Stiles’ jaw drop at the words. “But it would’ve been nice to know earlier. Unless I’m reading things wrong and you don’t want to be dating.” And that finally got a firm reaction out of Stiles.
“No! No, I do, I just - I didn’t really think that you’d - you know-”
“Want to date you too?” And when Stiles met his gaze then there was something sad and lonely in his gaze.
“Something like that.” And the words were self-deprecating, as was the sour twist to Stiles’ mouth. Clint moved carefully then, making sure all of his moves were choreographed so there’d be no confusion. He slid a hand around the back of Stiles’ neck, watched as Stiles stared at him again this time with disbelief, and he couldn’t help himself then. He dipped his head so he could bring their mouths together, a chaste press of lips, waiting for any sign from Stiles that told him to continue or stop. And then Stiles whimpered against his mouth, a desperate, needy sound, hands coming up to clutch at Clint’s shirt, and Clint couldn’t stop himself from surging forward to devour the younger man’s mouth in a not so chaste kiss. He pulled back when he found himself poised above Stiles, legs tangled together, Stiles hands gripping his hips with near bruising force. He focused on taking deep breaths, not pushing things too far too fast, taking in Stiles’ kiss swollen lips, pupils blown wide with desire, and pressed their foreheads together.
“I’m not going anywhere.” He said then, and watched the soft smile steal across Stiles’ features.
“Okay.” And there was no fear in his voice. Then Stiles was laughing, pressing his face into Clint’s neck. “Ali’s going to be so mad she missed this.” and Clint found himself laughing as well, smiling into Stiles’ hair.
“I’ll make it up to her.” he promised, and felt Stiles’ smile grow wider against his skin.
When Allison got home at nearly 4am, she found Clint and Stiles curled around each other and she knew without a doubt Clint had finally confronted Stiles about whether or not they were dating. She couldn’t deny that she was glad, it had been hard not to say anything, but she knew Stiles well enough to know when to push, and she also understood needing to see that it was worth it to the archer. When she slipped out of her clothes and into one of Stiles’ shirts, climbing into the bed, she saw Clint’s eyes blink open, focusing on her over Stiles’ shoulder. She pressed up against Stiles’ back so he was cocooned between them, but she didn’t stop there, tilting her head forward until she could brush a kiss against Clint’s mouth. She watched, pleased, as the flush crawled up his cheeks before he was reaching for her, pulling her into a second, gentle kiss, with Stiles asleep between them.
“I’m glad you two finally talked.” she told him, smiling, and he returned the expression, curling a hand over her hip even as she settled down to sleep, and she tangled their fingers together, giving a gentle squeeze. He returned the pressure.
Clint waited until breakfast to break the next bit of news, and now with Stiles next to him, the younger man having hooked their ankles together under the table, Allison on his other side, smiling sweetly even as she stole sips of his coffee, brushing their fingers together with every pass, and Chris across from him, looking for all purposes relaxed and happy, he wasn’t afraid anymore.
“So I should probably tell you that I’ve been lying to my S.O. ever since we met and I told him Little Red got away.” He said easily, feeling just a little evil as Chris all but inhaled his coffee. Allison cackled at her father’s distress before stealing Clint’s last piece of bacon as punishment. Clint whined at the loss but he supposed he deserved it.
“Why tell us now?”
“Nat was there when I figured out we were dating.” He said with a pointed look at Stiles who flushed at the words before offering a cheeky grin, and Clint found himself grinning back. “She wants to meet you. All of you.” He corrected, “But I can’t introduce you to her and not tell Coulson. And I don’t want to lie about who you are.” There was a moment of silence as the other three people the table exchanged glances before Chris spoke up.
“Is this going to cause trouble for you?” Warmth spread through Clint’s chest and he shook his head.
“He’ll give me some shit, but he let me bring in Natasha after all when protocol said he should’ve taken her out the moment he laid eyes on her. At least with you, he actually wanted you on his team.” Allison took his hand then, wrapping both her hands around his.
“We’ll do whatever you need us to.” She promised with a smile, and Clint couldn’t help but think of how different this was from their first meeting when she’d threatened to kill him.
“I was thinking I’d introduce you to Nat first. Then we can have a meeting on neutral territory.”
“What are you worried about?” Chris asked with a frown, and Clint winced, running his free hand over the back of his head.
“I’m not worried per say, more just being cautious.” He frowned, not sure how to express what he was feeling. “I trust Coulson.” And of that he was sure.
“You don’t trust SHIELD.” He winced again, glancing at both halves of Little Red before settling on Stiles who had spoken.
“I don’t trust SHIELD with you.” He watched as Stiles blinked in surprise and was suddenly furious with whoever had made Stiles think he wasn’t worth being worried about to the point that he was surprised when someone was. It seemed Allison felt the same way because he fingers tightened on Clint’s hand and when he glanced her way her blue eyes were stormy. He squeezed her hand in return. Stiles cleared his throat, cheeks flushed, and Clint let his anger slide for now, content to be fond of his - boyfriend? - for now.
“I for one can’t wait to meet the infamous Black Widow.” Stiles said brightly. “Invite her for dinner.” There was a moment of absolute silence before Chris huffed out a laugh.
“Why not? What’s another deadly assassin? No visible weapons in the house.” And Clint wondered what it said about them that that was a rule to be stated - and not only that - but that it was accepted that their would be weapons so lack of visibility was just to be polite. Clint just nodded, careful to keep his expression sober.
“Does she have any allergies or favourite foods?” Allison asked, settling back in her chair to finish her breakfast though she kept one hand linked with his, and that at least was an easy question.
“Thai. She’s a fan of sweet curries.” He felt a pang of guilt that he hadn’t actually seen much of her in the last few months, and further guilt for the fact that he’d been so caught up in these people that he hadn’t even noticed.
“Stiles makes a great curry. We have a job to do Thursday but what about Friday night?” Allison continued, and Clint was nodding before he’d even realized that he’d made plans for her. He was quick to back track.
“I’ll have to double check with her.”
“I’m sure she won’t mind.” Allison noted with a delicate shrug, and Clint saw trouble brewing but he couldn’t figure out what is was. Women confused him sometimes. He glanced at Stiles, hoping for backup, but Stiles was staring at Allison with a pleased smile on his face so he knew he’d be getting no help there.
“I have to swing by the tower today anyways. Tony said he finished a new set of arrows I asked for.” He watched Allison perk up at that but kept his mouth shut about how he’d asked for a few more than normal so he could share them with her.
“Great. Tell her to come by for 6, and that if she wants to bring something, dessert is always welcome.”
“What are you doing Friday night?” Clint asked as soon as he found Natasha in the common room of the tower, and she lifted a brow. “They want you to come to dinner.” He continued, and this time she actually looked shocked.
“Okay.” She agreed, and Clint blinked. He hadn’t expected her to agree so easily. Not because he didn’t think she was going to say no, but she hadn’t even thought about it.
“Okay?” She just stared and he rolled his eyes, knowing when his questions were going to go ignored. “Only rules are no visible weapons and if you’re going to bring something it has to be dessert.” And now she was smirking in amusement.
“That’s what she said, yeah.” And he wondered why it was that she didn’t seem at all surprised anymore and actually looked more amused than anything else. Maybe this was why his marriages had all failed. He was great at the sex thing, but as soon as it came to anything more serious, he was flat out clueless about how a woman’s mind worked. With Stiles, he didn’t have that problem, and Stiles seemed to actually understand Allison just fine which balanced things out in his opinion cause it gave him time to learn, though they hadn’t actually had sex yet. And now he was thinking about sex with Allison and Stiles. Shit. “Uh she also said 6 would be good.” And he was really glad now that Allison has steam rolled right over him when he’d protested to planning everything down.
“Alright. How about we hit the gym first?” And Clint grinned, relieved. That was something he understood.
“Sounds good. You haven’t kicked my ass in at least a month. It’s about time, right?” And she smirked back.
“Great. See you Friday.”
“Agent Barton, sir requests your presence in the lab.” Jarvis cut in before he could say anything further, and so Clint offered a lazy salute before turning towards the elevator. Nat’s suggestion made it easy. They could spend some time together and then head to dinner together - that way she didn’t have to go into a new and intimate space alone, and he got to get his ass kicked for being such a shit friend. It all worked out.
Clint felt self conscious leading Natasha to the apartment - not because he was ashamed, but because he hadn’t really thought about the fact that it was really his apartment too - he was showing her how he now lived just as much as he was showing her the people he lived with. With his key, he unlocked the door, watching Lucky bound towards the door.
“Lucky!” the order was sharp, but not unkind, and Clint recognized Chris’ voice. “Let them in.” he called from farther in the apartment, and Lucky skidded to an immediate halt, sitting and waiting obediently. He could feel the tension in Natasha now, unsure of how to proceed, and so he waved her in.
“Come in, kitchen’s through there.” he said, pointing down the hall to the right. She nodded, moving inside and carefully sliding off her shoes, leaving them next to the others in the hallway. Clint followed suit, putting a hand to her back to lead her into the kitchen. Chris met them in the hall and he offered a warm smile of greeting. Clint could hear Stiles and Allison bickering in the kitchen now, could hear the sizzle of whatever Stiles was cooking and could smell the sweet curry. He could tell Natasha could as well because once again she looked surprised.
“You must be Natasha.” Chris greeted, taking the box from her hands and handing it to Clint with a smirk. Clint rolled his eyes but accepted the box, watching out of the corner of his eye as Chris offered his hand. “Chris Argent.” Natasha accepted the hand and Chris used it to pull her forwards, guiding her towards the kitchen. “Clint said you liked Thai, and Stiles is a great cook.” she blinked at the name, and Chris tossed a frown towards Clint. “Did you not tell her who we were?”
“Figured you’d want to introduce yourselves.” Clint said, and Chris shook his head. Before he could respond though, they were in the kitchen and Allison was bouncing over. She greeted Natasha with a kiss to her cheek, wrapping an arm around her waist to draw her towards the stove.
“Come on. You have to taste this. I think it’s the best curry he’s ever made. I’m Allison.” and Clint gaped.
“That’s not the welcome I got.” Clint muttered, and Allison slid an unimpressed look in his direction, but there was a sparkle to her eyes that said she was enjoying herself.
“That’s because she was invited and you were creeping on my unconscious partner.” that got a snort of laughter out of Stiles who turned away from the stove now, grin on his face.
“That would be me.” he offered, grinning at her. “I’m Stiles. I’m the better half of our trio.” he joked, and Allison drew Natasha right over, leaning in to press her cheek to Stiles’.
“We want a taste.”
“You know where the spoons are.” Stiles shot back, and Allison grinned, leaving Natasha next to Stiles while she bounced over to get spoons and then darted back over. She leaned around Stiles, loading both spoons before offering one to Natasha, shoving the other into her mouth. Then she caught sight of the box in Clint’s hand.
“What’s that?” she asked, handing the spoon off to Stiles, who obediently dipped the spoon in to taste his own work even as he watched Allison move towards Clint and the box. She stole the box and brought it to the counter, and Natasha finally spoke up.
“Clint said you wanted dessert.”
“Always. Stiles is a better cook than a baker.”
“Hey!” Stiles cut in, offended. “I’m a great baker!” but Allison ignored him, opening the box.
“Chak-chak!” Allison exclaimed, and Clint wondered what it was about these people that kept surprising Natasha so much. “I haven’t had this in forever! When was the last time we had this, Dad?” she asked, and Chris also looked surprised, but pleased.
“Спасибо.” Stiles said, and Natasha inclined her head in his direction. Then she spoke again.
“The curry is very good.”and he beamed at her.
“We made cocktails to go with them. With mint. Clint?”
“On it.” and he moved to get the pitcher out of the fridge, pouring everyone a glass. He handed Natasha’s hers first, then Allison and Chris. Allison kissed him in thanks, a quick but intimate brush of lips as he handed her the drink. Then he settled Stiles’ beside the stove and before he leaned in for a quick kiss when Stiles tilted his face towards him. He still couldn’t help but feel a bit awed that these two people were actually his.
“How was your day?”
“Natasha tried to beat the shit out of me. It was great.” Stiles snorted out a laugh. Clint just snagged Natasha’s spoon from her hand, dipping it into the curry so he could also have a taste.
“Clint tells me Little Red is actually two people.” Natasha said then, but rather than stiffen up like Clint expected, the people in question just grinned.
“We are, Stiles and I. Clint likes to split us up though.” Allison informed her, taking a sip of her drink. “He let’s Stiles keep Little Red and calls me Riding Hood.” that surprised a laughter out of Natasha, and it was a light and refreshing sound.
“Little red riding hood.” Natasha repeated, and smiled into her drink. “Do either of you wear red?” Allison gave a far too innocent smile, sliding over to lean into Clint and brush a hand over Stiles’ arm.
“Stiles?” Natasha’s gaze darted to Stiles, and now she saw his pout.
“I owned that sweater before we even knew about werewolves!” he protested, and it was clearly an old argument. It had Natasha smiling again. She was beginning to understand why Clint was so wrapped up in these people.
When they sat down to dinner, Natasha found herself included in a loud and lively conversation, jokes and insults moving back and forth across the table, and it surprised her even further that this wasn’t just a father/daughter duo with her two significant others tacked on, but an actually family, with four people involved, and not only that, but she could feel their invitation, that she was just as welcome to become apart of what they had. Even as she participated in conversation, she found herself studying each person at the table that she had met tonight. She looked at Chris first - at crows feet at the corners of his eyes from all the laughter, the sharp but warm blue-grey eyes, but also at the way he sat that told her he was always ready for a fight, an instinct instilled from decades of expecting danger at any moment. Her gaze shifted to Allison then, at the dark curls that cascaded down her back, the bright blue doe eyes, dimples flashing every time she smiled. She was a coiled spring, a snake waiting to strike, but she also reminded Natasha of a fairytale - with her soft, creamy skin and whimsical sense of dress. There was a softness to her, and also a fierceness. Then there was Stiles - and he was physically very much like a male counterpart of Allison, with the same doe eyes this time the colour of amber, sharp angles where Allison was soft with moles like constellations across his skin. his hair was nearly the same colour as his eyes, spiked on top of his head, but while Allison was a coiled snake, he was a sharp eyed fox with sharp teeth that became visible when he’s protecting what’s his. Where Clint was compact, Allison was soft curves, and Stiles was wiry with hands that belonged to an artist. Said hands were waving about the air to illustrate the story he was telling. Natasha had been wary of these people, and she was not ashamed to admit that she was jealous. Clint was her closest friend - one of the first people he could actually call a friend, and she’d felt as if these people had stolen him from her. Yet watching them all together, watching how Clint unconsciously reached for Stiles, just a brush of fingertips against a shoulder, fingertips touching and moving away, how his other hand was wrapped around Allison’s ankle where her feet were propped in his lap, and how Stiles’ gaze always found them both in the end, like he was surprised and grateful that they was there at all even while Allison watched them both fondly, her affection for both men shining brightly. Natasha found she couldn’t be jealous because there was awe there as well - awe that told her these two - but particularly Stiles - thought they were lucky that Clint was in their life, and she understood because she felt the same way. She was pretty sure they deserved each other.
It was after dinner, after Allison had expounded on how amazing the dessert was and Natasha had finally admitted to making it herself which Allison took as license to try and bully her into baking for them more often - and it was clearly a way to make her aware she was always welcome in their home. They had settled in the living room with another drink when Natasha finally brought up the elephant in the room.
“When will you tell Coulson?”
“Whenever.” Stiles said, waving a hand in dismissal. “Clint just wanted us to meet you first. Rest doesn’t matter.” The younger man was curled up against Clint’s side and so he didn’t see how Clint’s ears went red with embarrassment, one of his few tells. It made her affection for this family grow.
“What Stiles is trying to say,” Allison corrected, hand curled around Clint’s on the back of the couch, shoving Stiles with her foot and making the younger man grumble. “Is that we also wanted to meet you first because you’re obviously important to Clint which makes you important to us.” And the words were unexpected. Clint’s cheeks were burning red now. “And we were hoping you’d come with us.” Her eyes cut to Stiles now, and there was worry there, worry the younger man didn’t notice, half dozing against Clint. “While we understand SHIELD wanted to recruit us a while ago, things may have changed. We don’t want to jeopardize the relationship you both have with them. Not only that, but neither of us are willing to give up the full extent of our abilities.” And once again her gaze was on Stiles, an obvious tell. Stiles was clearly far more powerful than she’d been made aware. She looked to Clint who stared right back and she gave a slow nod.
“How did you want to do this?”
“Neutral ground. Meeting with someone you trust. Whoever this Coulson is works. We’d rather work alongside of SHIELD than under them.” Natasha gave a slow nod, mind running with the possibilities. She was beginning to understand these people - understand that it wasn’t that they didn’t trust the idea of SHIELD but that they didn’t trust a blind agency. But they trusted Clint and were choosing to trust her, choosing to trust the people they put their trust in. Seeing as even she had some reservations on some aspects of SHIELD, she understood that. Nodding again, decisive this time, Natasha smirked at Clint.
“How do you think Tony would feel playing host?”
It took two weeks to arrange sneaking Allison and Stiles into the tower, and Natasha snuck them in just for the comedic value. She’d decided against warning Tony, after all he was always pulling weird and crazy stunts, and this was hardly as bad as any of those. Plus, the tower was secure and Jarvis would never let anyone but who was invited in.
“So this is Stark tower.” Stiles mused, gaze flitting from place to place. “It’s a little more normal than I expected, not going to lie.” Clint burst out laughing, linking their fingers together.
“What did you expect? Iron man suits laying around everywhere? Cap’s shield leaning against the kitchen sink?” Stiles shot him a look of betrayal that had Allison snickering from where she stood next to Natasha.
“Captain Rogers forbade the leaving of the Iron man suits in the common rooms.” A voice announced from all around them, and Stiles spun around, looking and finding no one. “Apologies, Mr. Stilinski. I did not intend to startle you. I am Jarvis, Mr. Stark’s artificial intelligence.”
“Tony built him into basically everything.” Clint added. “Which is pretty great, not gonna lie.”
“Does he know we’re here?” Allison asked then, turning an unreadable expression on Natasha, and despite her years of training, the expression made her uncomfortable. Maybe because she was used to seeing so much emotion in the other woman’s eyes, that this blankness was disconcerting.
“Sir has been made aware of your presence. He wishes to enquire why nobody informed him that agent Barton has a significant other.”
“Actually J, I asked why nobody told me bird brain had gained some arm candy.” The man in question stated, strolling towards them.
“Didn’t know I was hot enough to be arm candy. Honestly I thought that was your job.” Stiles drawled. “That why you keep me around?”
“That and your cooking skills.” Clint agreed easily, and Stiles snickered.
“And her? What does that make her?” And the humour in Stiles’ eyes took on a dangerous glint as Tony nodded at Allison.
“The prettiest gal in the room.” Stiles said easily, but he was still watching Tony with that predatory glint, there was the fox. “Sorry Nat.”
“Who said I disagreed?” Natasha replied easily, and she wasn’t going to admit she enjoyed the way pink dusted across Allison’s cheeks.
“So is it the four of you then?”
“And if it was?” Allison asked sweetly, and there was the snake again. She slid over so she was beside Natasha and curled an arm around her waist, tucking herself right in against the older woman, and Natasha accepted her there, tangling her fingers into Allison’s hair. Stark was actually pouting now, and Clint rolled his eyes though he had a hard time tearing his eyes away from the two women.
“Lay off, Stark. We’re not here to deal with you.” And now the man was offended, eyes narrowing.
“Then why are you here?”
“Ever heard of Little Red?” Allison asked, still curled into Natasha who was gently scraping her nails through Allison’s hair, earning soft purrs of pleasure. Tony just stared a moment before looking between them again.
“So YOU’RE the dynamic duo!” He exclaimed, and that was not the reaction they’d expected. “Love your work, and I’m no longer surprised by your choices of partner. Is this like a meet the parents thing? Cause gotta say if it is I’m half honoured and half offended cause I’m not that much older than you.” That earned him a laugh from Stiles, and Allison finally pulled away from Natasha, moving towards her partner in crime who met her halfway, spinning her in a little dance before offering his arm. She accepted, linking them together.
“Nah, this is neutral ground to meet with SHIELD.” Stiles admitted, somehow no longer offended by the billionaire. Tony cackled.
“Does that make Fury and Coulson mom and dad?”
“I strongly suggest you don’t take that any further, Mr. Stark.” Coulson’s voice drawled from the doorway, and at his appearance, both halves of Little Red turned, still linked but expressions now a polite neutral.
“You must be Coulson.” Stiles greeted, and something in his tone must have been familiar because he saw a hint of a smile.
“And you must be the assets my teams been hiding from me.”
“To be fair we may have accidentally adopted them into the family.”
“Are we having this meeting because you’re finally ready to join SHIELD?”
“On the contrary, we want what he has.” And they ignored Tony’s smug,
“Doesn’t everybody.” In the background.
“We’ll consult, even consider working alongside occasionally, but we are our own team. We have our own rules.” Allison told him, tone giving away nothing.
“And do those rules include having my team lie to me?” Allison was taught as a bow string but even as she opened her mouth to respond Stiles shifted forward and her mouth snapped shut, gaze turning to her partner.
“Let me make something very clear.” he said softly, and he made a clear wall between Allison and where Coulson stood. “I don’t care about SHIELD.” his hands clenched and unclenched. “I don’t care about your organization because I am without a shadow of a doubt that your organization is corrupt and that you protect the wrong people. I don’t care how good or right you think you are.” he grinned then, all sharp violence. “I care about her.” he said, waving at Allison. “I care about them.” he said, including the others. “I don’t care about you, not yet. So you might want to be careful about insulting the very few people I care about. You know who I am, what I do, and how I do it. Don’t insult my partner again.” Silence reigned, and surprisingly it was Tony who broke it.
“Well that was sufficiently terrifying.” he noted, moving forward to clap Stiles on the shoulder before circling around to stand next by Natasha. “You certainly know how to pick em, Barton.” and that had Coulson’s eyes snapping to Clint and narrowing. Clint’s chin shot up, and he moved to stand beside Allison, sliding an arm around her in comfort. Stiles dropped back then, taking Clint’s free hand. There was another moment of tense silence before Coulson sighed, shaking his head.
“You didn’t have to hide this from me.” Coulson admitted, and he offered the slightest smile to Stiles. “I respect your conviction, Miss Argent, Mr. Stilinski.” and Stiles’ brows winged up. “You think I didn’t know what one of my top agent’s has been doing, and who he’s been doing it with? However, that information hasn’t gone beyond me. I too, respect your privacy.”
“Wait, so for once, I’m not the stalker of the group. Cool.” Tony added, and that sparked a laugh out of Allison.
“Usually it’s Stiles.” she admitted, giggling, and Stiles spun on her, mouth open in shock.
“I’m not a stalker!” he sputtered, and Allison just laughed again. “I just like to be aware.” he muttered.
“That’s exactly how I feel.” Tony agreed, and Stiles’ shoulders slumped.
“That actually makes me feel worse.” Stiles admitted, and Tony made a noise of complaint.
“Anyways,” Clint cut in, drawing Stiles in and keeping him in place with an arm around his waist now too. “Now what, boss?”
“Now, I’d like dinner as payment for lying to me and thinking I wouldn’t know. Then we can talk about how to bring Little Red in as a consultant.”
“I could eat.” Natasha agreed, and Tony gaped at them.
“People think I’m the unreasonable and strange one.” he muttered. “If I’m hosting this party I demand to be involved.”
“Great, you can buy the pizza. We want Hawaiian.”
Clint and Stiles had fallen asleep on one of the other couches, this time with Clint’s head pillowed against Stiles’ chest, the younger mans arms wrapped protectively around him. Coulson and Tony were discussing something in low tones across the room so as not to disturb the sleeping pair, and that left Allison and Natasha, the latter slowly plaiting and unplaiting the formers hair.
“Would he really do it?” Natasha asked then, voice barely a whisper, and Allison glanced back up over her shoulder.
“Do what?” She murmured back, knowing by Natasha’s expression that this was serious.
“Tear it all down for you. For-” she hesitated and Allison smiled.
“For us?” Natasha nodded and Allison twisted on the floor to take the redheads hands in her own. Natasha stared at those hands, pale as her own but just as firm, hiding a similar strength.
“Without a shadow of a doubt.” She concluded. “When Stiles chooses someone, he chooses all of them. If we needed it, he would burn the whole world to dust.” Her voice lowered to barely a whisper. “He’d do it even if we didn’t, even if we just asked. He’d hate us for it after, but he’d do it first, with no regret. That’s what it means to be loved by him. He puts all his faith in us, all his trust. He gives us the power to control him because he trusts that we won’t betray him.”
“Because he knows what that feels like. He’s been betrayed before.” There was pain in Allison’s eyes as she nodded.
“Yes.” She gave Natasha’s hands a gentle squeeze. “One day, when he’s ready, we’ll tell you about the Nogitsune.” And her voice shook on the word. Without releasing Natasha’s hands, Allison reached carefully for her buttoned shirt, pulling it aside out of sight of the men, revealing the scar on her chest. She shifted her shoulder to slide the material back into place but now it was her hands that shook and Natasha who tightened her grip in comfort.
“Stiles has the same scar.” She’d seen it.
“Yes. Ask Clint about when Stiles called him. I - I can’t. Not yet.” Natasha released one of Allison’s hands just to brush it across the other woman’s cheek.
“Thank you.” She said, and Allison looked confused for only a moment before she smiled, leaning into the touch.
“Are you coming back with us?” and for the first time in a long time, Natasha wanted, desperately.
Stiles groaned into Clint’s mouth from where the archer had him pinned against the wall, hands making quick work or the button up he’d been wearing. Stiles retaliated by slipping a hand between them, loosening Clint’s belt before shoving a hand into his pants, and Clint gasped, breaking the kiss to nip at the corner of Stiles’ jaw and shove his shirt out of the way, rough hands streaking over mole dotted skin.
A throat clearing behind them had them both freezing and Stiles looked over Clint’s shoulder to see none other than Steve Rogers staring at them in shock, flush spreading across his cheeks.
“Well this definitely isn’t how I planned to meet a national icon.” Stiles quipped, disentangling himself from Clint who was quick to fix his pants even as Stiles buttoned his shirt back up.
“Oh hey Cap.” Clint greeted easily, wrapping an arm around Stiles’ waist to keep him close, hooking his chin over Stiles’ shoulder so he could turn to press a kiss to the underside of his jaw.
“Clint.” Steve returned with a nod, then he looked at Stiles. “We haven’t met.” He said awkwardly, and Stiles could feel Clint grinning.
“This is my boyfriend Stiles.” He introduced, but contrary to what they expected, Steve actually relaxed.
“Oh, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Nat said Clint had met someone new. Are you two here for movie night?” And Stiles lit up.
“Movie night? What’s on the list?” He asked, and Steve pulled out an actual list.
“The 4th Star Wars movie.” Steve admitted. “Sam said we have to watch them in order of production rather than in the actual order.” Steve told them with a shrug, but Stiles was nodding seriously.
“Whoever Sam is, he’s absolutely right. Plus, 4-6 are the absolute best. We are totally staying for movie night.” and he immediately shot off an invite text to both Allison and Natasha.
Stiles couldn’t deny the slightly malicious glee he felt at making sure Allison and Natasha joined them. He knew introductions would come up and he knew without a doubt that Clint was just as much of a little shit as he was and would definitely use titles as well as names. He could barely contain from bouncing on the couch when Allison’s text announcing they were in the elevator came to his phone, and watched the elevator eagerly. When the doors slid open, revealing the two women, he let his grin show. Steve stood immediately, ever the gentleman, and Stiles bit his hand to avoid snickering.
“Hi, it’s a pleasure to meet you, you must be Allison.” Steve greeted, offering his hand, and Allison took it, smiling sweetly.
“Pleasure’s all mine, Steve.”
“So how do you know Stiles and Clint?” he asked, smile open and friendly, and Allison’s smile stayed sweet even as the wickedness entered her gaze.
“I’m their girlfriend.” she said easily, dropping onto their laps and snuggling between them, and Stiles could no longer hold back his laughter at Steve’s bright blush. Then, however, he surprised them in the best way possible.
“I’m really glad you all found each other. It’s nice to see people don’t have to be as scared as they used to be doing what makes them happy.” and that was the moment Allison and Stiles both knew Steve Rogers was going to end up being one of their closest friends.
Clint got home later than he’d expected, but the reason was worth it. He carried the carefully wrapped box of one of a kind arrows for Allison and was nearly bouncing with the excitement to give her the gift. Chris was out of town for a job and Stiles was doing an all night research binge and had roped Stark in so he could use his computers, but Allison was supposed to be home which made it perfect. When he closed the door behind him though, flipping the lock, he realized that while every light in the apartment blazed, all he could hear was absolute silence. It sent him on immediate alert, hand sliding his gun out of it’s holster.
“Allison?” He called, not bothering to hide his presence since if there was anyone else in the place they would have heard him come in. Rather than an answer, he heard Lucky give a whine and he heard nails on glass. In response, he slid his gun away. No way was there someone in there if that was Lucky’s only reaction. He moved to where he could see Lucky and found the dog nosing at the closed window to the fire escape and he knew immediately where Allison had gone. He swung out onto the stairs, offering only a quick apology to the dog as he closed the window behind him. He climbed until he was at the roof and found Allison sitting on the ledge, knees curled to her chest, chin resting on them. It wasn’t the edge she sat on that alarmed him, it was the tears pouring down her cheeks.
“Are you okay?” He blurted out, and winced at the question. Obviously she wasn’t if she was crying, but Allison just gave a watery laugh.
“I was just wallowing in self pity.” She admitted, and Clint came closer then, noting how she was only wearing a pair of sleep shorts and one of his own shirts, a ratty one with the purple target on the chest. It sent a surge of fondness through him and he settled down next to her, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her in. She curled into him, sliding her legs over his lap, settling in to rest her face in the crook of his neck.
“What happened?” He asked softly, carding a hand through her hair, and she sighed against his skin. She was quiet for long enough he wasn’t sure she was going to answer, so that when she finally spoke he nearly jumped.
“Stiles’ dad called today. Apparently Scott’s been making noise about me and Stiles.” Her voice caught on the words, and though Clint didn’t understand them yet he gave a squeeze of comfort.
“Who’s Scott?” He decided on asking, and he felt the rush of anger as it bristled over Allison’s skin in a wave before she relaxed against him again.
“He’s my ex. And Stiles’ ex best friend.” That had Clint frowning. Why was this guy making noise about two people who’d cut him out of their lives? Allison huffed out a bitter laugh. “He’s pretty much the reason behind at least half of Stiles’ insecurities. And a fair share of mine. He was the first love of my life, and he was the first person Stiles let in after everything that happened with his mom.” Clint winced at the reminder. The three of them had sat down not long ago to talk about Stiles’ family since John was supposed to be coming to town soon, and the stories hadn’t been pleasant. Allison took a deep breath, closing her eyes as she pressed into Clint’s heat. She was pretty sure Stiles still wasn’t ready to talk about the Nogitsune with someone new, but Allison needed to and she knew Stiles wouldn’t resent her for it. “I’m going to tell you about Beacon Hills.” She said then, and saying it made it more real, made her realize just how much she needed to. And so she told him everything she knew - from her own perspective, from what she knew of Stiles’, from the Hale fire all the way to their move to New York. By the end of it, Clint’s hand had a tight grip in her and there was a palpable anger in the way he sat so still. Anger for her, for them, she realized, and it gave her confidence to tell him her other fears. “Sometimes, when everything comes up again, I just feel so angry, so hurt, but then sad. It makes me so mad thinking about what Scott did to me, but then I think about what he did to Stiles and I hate him.” And she knew he could hear that she meant it. “Because Stiles is so beautiful and wonderful and he cares so so much and he would do absolutely anything to take care of the people he loves. I love him.” And it felt good to say the words. “But sometimes I think of what Scott did and how Stiles has such low standards and how can I even compare to that?” And Clint understood now. He shifted her until he could see her face, until he was sure she could see his sincerity.
“Allison, you’re beautiful, and wonderful, and you’d tear the world apart for the people you love.” And she gave a slow nod.
“I’d do it for you.” And she was as fierce as when he’d first met her with the words, but now he could see a fragility he’d missed before. He closed the space between them, kissing her gently.
“I love you.” And the words were easier than he’d expected as he murmured them against her lips. “For who you are, and for completely different reasons than I love Stiles.” Allison smiled then, her whole face softening.
“I love you too.” She murmured back, peppering kisses across his cheek before she settled back in against him, no longer ill at ease. That’s when she finally saw the wrapped box on his other side.
“What’s that?” She turned to look at his face and watched the grin flash there.
“I brought you a present. Come inside and open it.” But rather than set her down he just scooped her up and she let out a laugh before wrapping her legs around his waist, holding tight, arms hooking over his shoulders. He used one arm to brace her against him and the other scooped up the box, carefully walking down the stairs to their window. He pushed it open what his foot and manoeuvred them both inside. Then settled them onto the couch. Rather than leave his lap, Allison just leaned back, pulling the box between them. She looked up at him eagerly and when he gave a nod, still grinning, she tore into the paper. When she opened the box, she froze, and then her eyes were shining, hands lifting an arrow out of the box with careful reverence.
“They’re yours. Trick arrows. There’s a sheet in their somewhere that explains the differences. There’s 6 different types, and 2 of each. If you have any favourites after trying them I’ll have more made.” He told her, and she shoved the box aside, leaning forward to devour his mouth in a kiss that was nothing like the one they’d shared on the roof. Her nails scraped up the back of his neck to grip his hair and she slid forwards so her hips were flush to his.
“Take me to bed, Hawkeye.” she ordered, and Clint grinned into the next kiss.
“Whatever you say, Little Red.”
Afterwards, sated and curled into each other, Clint found himself thinking back to the words Allison had said on the roof, and found himself frowning even as he traced the tips of his fingers across the pale expanse of skin in front of him.
“I hate to ruin the good mood,” he muttered, and the smirk Allison gave him then was trouble in all the best ways. “But I have to ask.”
“You won’t ruin my mood. You want to know what kind of noises Scott’s making, because if he all but kicked us out, they can’t be good noises. You’re not wrong, but it’s not exactly the way you think. He’s pretty much trying to get us to come back, saying it’s because we’re pack and all that bullshit. Basically, he figured out just who Little Red is. He knows now that we’re good enough, knows our reputation has spread through the supernatural world, and he wants our help because something else has been killing people in Beacon Hills.” Her eyes were serious as they bored into Clint’s. “You can’t tell Stiles yet.” she said, and she obviously knew what he was thinking because she reached out, brushing a hand across his cheek. “We’re going to tell him, but we have to be careful.” she gave a rueful smile. “What you just saw on the roof? That’s small fry.” the grin dropped, her eyes going violent. “It tore Stiles apart to realize that it was just the person he chose to trust who couldn’t trust him, wouldn’t trust him. Stiles literally did burn down Scott’s enemies.”
“But instead of thanking him, Scott threw it in his face. Sanctimonious bastard.” Clint all but growled, and the smile that flashed across Allison’s expression was warm affection.
“Exactly. I figure we should soften him up first.” and Clint smirked at the mischievous glint in her eyes.
“How should we do that?” and now her eyes practically sparkled.
“I have a few ideas. I’ll give you a full demonstration.”
When Stiles got home, both Allison and Clint were waiting for him in the kitchen, breakfast just being plated, and he looked between them with narrowed eyes.
“Something happened.” he accused, and Allison smiled, stepping into him to give him a thorough welcome kiss. When she stepped back, Stiles blinked once, twice, and then he pulled her into a hug. “Oh. I’m glad.” and she pressed another kiss to his cheek before she pulled him to the table, pushing him gently into a chair where Clint set breakfast in front of him. “You don’t have to apologize for it you know.” he said, sounding nearly uncomfortable. “It’s not like we hadn’t already slept together.” and it was true with both Allison and Clint separately.
“It’s not an apology.” Allison assured. “More like, maybe we should consider exploring this all together.” and Stiles’ gaze shot up to meet hers, expression inscrutable for a moment. Then he laughed, a carefree sound, shaking his head, but the smile didn’t disappear, and it was full of affection. He turned his gaze on Clint then, expression never changing.
“What are your thoughts on this?”
“I am 100% for exploring this together.” Clint said instantly, and the smile turned into a smirk.
“So really what your saying is, this ins’t an apology, it’s an energy boost.” and Clint couldn’t stop himself from laughing.
“Great. Glad we covered that. So how about you tell me what you’re trying not to tell me? Cause otherwise it’s just going to nag at me the whole time which won’t make for a very interesting exploration of anything.” The smile dropped from his face, and the stare he set on them both wasn’t asking. “So. What happened.” Clint moved first, taking Stiles’ hand, and Stiles’ eyes narrowed at the action, especially when Allison took the other.
“Your dad called.” Clint began, and watched Stiles’ brow wrinkle in confusion.
“That’s usually good news.”
“Scott’s been trying to talk to him.” Allison said then, and Stiles’ hands twitched in both of theirs before curling into their grips.
“Why?” the question was curt, but they could both hear the anger starting to boil behind it.
“He figured out who Little Red is.” Clint began again, and Allison nodded.
“He wants us to come back.” Stiles felt his jaw clench, felt the tightness in his shoulders as stress wound them tight. Before he could get too angry though, Allison was squeezing his hand to draw his attention. “Of course, John told him it would never happen, and I agreed with him.” the look on Stiles’ face shifted to surprise, and Clint felt a twinge that told him in some ways he was still an outsider as Allison’s expression shifted to answer Stiles’.
“Way I see it, asshole doesn’t deserve your help. If it was real bad, your dad would’ve called in backup. Beacon Hills hasn’t put out any requests.” and that drew their attention.
“How would you know?” Stiles asked, and he was unreadable to Clint.
“I keep tabs.” Stiles nodded, glancing back at Allison, who shook her head.
“Did you really think I’d want to go back?” she asked, and Stiles shrugged with one shoulder, meeting her gaze straight on.
“You might have. Your family is buried there.”
“So’s yours.” Stiles bared his teeth.
“Low blow.” and Allison relented.
“It was. I’m sorry. My point is, I don’t want to go back, and I don’t want you to either. I figure, if anything, we can send dad.” that earned a snort from Clint.
“You want to send your dad, mother hen of all mother hens, into the town full of the only people who’ve ever actually been capable of hurting the few people he considers family?” the archer asked, and he couldn’t help but laugh. “Let’s do it. He need’s back up, I’m in.” Allison laughed, but Stiles was staring again, this time at Clint, calculating look in his eye.
“How much did Allison tell you?” he asked, and Clint stared right back, unsure once more if Stiles was angry or not. He was beginning to realize it hadn’t just been women he’d had a hard time reading, but people in general.
“A fair chunk I think. Can’t be sure of course, but it seemed like a fair amount.”
“It was.” Allison confirmed. “I told him about everything - everything but the Nogitsune.”
“But your scar-” Stiles tried to cut in, and Allison gave a wan smile.
“I told him about that. I just figured you’d want to give him the specifics on the Nogitsune yourself.” Stiles shuddered and then Allison was there, standing behind him, arms draped loosely over his shoulders, cheek pressed to the top of his head.
“She told me why you took her scar.” Clint said tentatively, and Stiles nodded, closing his eyes and leaning back into Allison.
“Alright. Now’s as good a time as any.” And Clint didn’t miss the alarm that flickered over Allison’s expression.
“No, it’s okay. If you can tell him about nearly dying at my evil doppelgängers hand, I can tell him about being possessed.” He opened his eyes and offered a tight smile. “But we should be somewhere more comfortable. And I’m going to insist on putting off the exploration for another time. But cuddles are welcome.”
“Whatever you need.” Allison agreed, and Clint nodded, standing as Stiles did.
“Lead the way.”
Stiles ran through the forest, Allison darting through the trees 10 feet to his left, and wondered when his life had become this.
“Little Red, do you have a visual?” Coulson’s voice asked from the com in his ear, and he scowled. He glanced at Allison who grinned back.
“Answers the same as it was 5 minutes ago.” She quipped, understanding why Stiles wasn’t speaking - because if he did he’d just be angry. “We’ll tell you when that changes.”
“Copy that. Hawkeye?”
“We’ve rounded everyone up. 7 in all. Rest aren’t up for questioning.” So they’d needed to be taken out.
“They were holding him here.” Natasha’s voice added, and there was a softness to her voice that told them she was angry. “The chair is here.” and it had Stiles’ running faster. He caught movement up ahead - the slightest glint of silver, and motioned to Allison to slow. She dropped back immediately, bow in hand, and Stiles crept forward. They were here as a favour. A favour to Captain God damned America, who’d actually been injured in a fight and wasn’t back up to full power. So he’d asked his friends to go after the final lead - the lead that was supposed to take them to the Winter Soldier that intel said had recently been captured. The Winter Soldier who’d once been James “Bucky” Barnes before they’d wiped his memories over and over and stuck him in a freezer. Stiles had been so angry when he’d heard that - so angry because on top of that, exactly what he’d said was true had turned out to be just that when Hydra had popped out of SHIELD after having been lying in wait for decades.
“My name is Stiles Stilinski.” He said into the dark trees, and heard Coulson’s sharp intake of breath. Before the man could order him to stop he turned off the com. “I sometimes go by Little Red, and I’m not here to hurt you.” He was met by absolute silence but he didn’t let that stop him. “I’m here because I’m friends with Steve and that asshole guilt tripped me with those damn puppy dog eyes. I’m here because I’ve had someone else in my head and I watched how it hurt the people I loved and couldn’t do a single thing to stop it. I’m here because I don’t give a damn what Captain America or SHIELD says, I’m not bringing you in to them to be debriefed and shrinked to death. I want to help you because I’ve had my own best friends blood on my hands, and it’s shit and it never washes off. But you can move past it.” He looked back at Allison who stepped up beside him, offering a grim nod. She would stand by him. “If you can see me, you can see my partner. Her name is Allison Argent. She also goes by Little Red.” He turned back to face the trees and now could see the shadow of a man, looking scraggly and beaten down, but his eyes were sharp on Stiles’ face and he knew well enough to know the tilt of his body meant he was concealing a weapon.
“I won’t go in to SHIELD.”
“Agreed.” Stiles said with a nod. “Now I’m not going to lie to you. We live with an agent. He’s our - well, he’s our boyfriend. But he knew when he brought us into this that I wasn’t going to bring you in, which means neither is she.”
“Cause he knows our story. And he trusts us. He knows how we feel about SHIELD.”
“Stiles, we need to go.” Allison cut in, and Stiles nodded.
“They’re on their way. We have a short window. You in or out?”
“I want to see Steve.”
“Yeah I figured. We got him transferred to the tower.”
“The one and only.”
“He won’t want me there.”
“I’ll take care of it.” There was another moment of silence before the man gave a terse nod, coming forward. “Alright. Fair warning. Go after her,” he waved at Allison, “and I’ll take you out.”
“And yourself?” Stiles gave a wolffish grin.
“You’re certainly welcome to try.” The man huffed.
“Sounds like the kinda dumb thing Stevie would say.”
“Hear that, Ali? I sound like Captain America.” She just rolled her eyes.
“So self sacrificing idiot?” She replied sweetly, and that earned a huff from the soldier.
“You talk too much.” but there was the slightest edge of amusement which Stiles counted as a win.
“So I’ve been told, but I’m still alive so can’t complain. Come on. We’ve got to get to the jet Stark planted before they catch up. I don’t want them implicated yet.”
“You’re working against your - boyfriend?” he hesitated on the word but Stiles didn’t hold it against him.
“Yeah well, if he caught up now, he’d have to at least pretend to try and stop us so that he doesn’t get in trouble for being part of my plan to keep you out of SHIELD’s hands, but once we’ve got you somewhere safe, then he can claim that we won him over with my charm and her good looks.” they burst into the clearing where the jet was supposed to be and with a wave of Stiles’ hand the camouflage disappeared.
“He always like this?” the soldier asked gruffly, and Allison smiled in sympathy.
“Always.” but from Allison, it sounded more like a promise and it had the man getting on the jet. Once they were in the air and he could set the autopilot to Stark’s tower, Stiles turned back to the soldier, moving to sit across from him.
“Alright, so I’ve got an important question to ask you, but if you’re not ready to answer, that’s okay.” the man tensed, but he met Stiles’ gaze, giving a terse nod. “What would you like us to call you?” for a moment, the man just stared, and when he finally reacted it was to frown.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, records say your name is James, but Steve calls you Bucky. I’m of the firm opinion that you might want to go by both, or neither, so it’s up to you. Your life’s been controlled for a long time, and I’m not about to do the same thing by assuming your identity.” Stiles offered as friendly a smile as he could muster. “You don’t have to decide now, but whatever you choose, I’ll pass the message along. You get to choose from now on.” the man was still frowning at him, and so Allison moved to sit next to Stiles.
“Neither of us know what you’ve been through, not to this extent. Whatever we’ve experienced is nowhere near the scale of decades you spent with Hydra, so this is your new beginning. You’re never going to be the same man who came out of Brooklyn, but you can be somebody better.”
“To Stevie I’m always going to be Bucky.” the man finally answered, but there was an anxiety in his eyes that Stiles recognized.
“Fuck that.” he responded, vehemently. “And if he doesn’t want to respect your choice, fuck him. You only have to be Bucky if that’s who you want to be. Okay?” the man nodded, eyes darting between Allison and Stiles again.
“Stiles isn’t your real name.” he finally concluded, and Stiles shook his head.
“No. Only my mom could ever say my name properly, and she died from dementia. Created a lot of shitty memories with that name. I’ve been Stiles since she died.” the man nodded again, searching both of their faces still.
“I think-” he cleared his throat, unsure, but neither of them interrupted him. “I want to be James. For now.” Stiles actually grinned in response.
“Great.” Stiles stood, moving forward to offer the other man his hand, and while the man stared in bewilderment for a moment, he gave the proffered hand a careful shake.
“Nice to officially meet you, James.” and James gave a tentative smile.
Allison crept into her families apartment well after midnight. Stiles was still back at the tower with James and they were still waiting on Clint and Natasha to get back. She’d received multiple texts and half a dozen missed calls from her dad though saying he’d heard from Coulson that they’d stolen an asset and she wanted to get ahead of that while she could. The moment she closed the door, she felt the difference. She spun around, coming face to face with her father’s grim expression, arms crossed across his chest, and nearly burst into tears. Instead, she threw herself at him, knowing he’d catch her as she threw her arms around him in a hug.
“Is Stiles hurt?” he asked immediately, since her being there with him was testament enough to her health, and she shook her head as she pulled back, wiping the few stray tears from her cheek. “Clint? Natasha?”
“No, don’t worry. We’re all fine.” she gave an unsteady laugh that had her dad carefully taking hold of her shoulders and leading her to a chair. “We may have adopted another reforming assassin though.” her dad wiped a hand over his face, shaking his head, but he looked fond rather than angry.
“Stiles just had this feeling.” she admitted, and Chris couldn’t argue with that. To this day, as much as he hated to admit it, Stiles’ gut feelings had never been wrong. “And when I saw him - I know that look. He looked so lost, so afraid. I remember that. It’s how Stiles used to look but a million times worse because Stiles had us - he had his dad - James had no one. Not until we promised we’d be there.” there were a million thoughts running through Chris’ thoughts, but he mostly began to wonder how long it would be until Stiles would be bringing home another stray to sleep in their only spare room and if it would mean Natasha would stop pretending to sleep in there instead of where he knew she slept in his daughter’s room. That is, on those few nights when she didn’t end up with the other three in Stiles’ room because one of the trio dragged her along. He wondered how long she was going to pretend they were dragging her and that she didn’t want to be apart of it just as badly. Instead, he pushed all those thoughts back, and smiled at his daughter.
“So he’s James now.” Allison offered her dad a watery smile.
“Yeah, he chose the name himself.” and Chris didn’t fight the affectionate smile that slipped across his features, pressing a kiss to his daughter’s hair.
Stiles stood between the elevator and the room, arms crossed across his chest, power thrumming beneath his skin as he faced off with Coulson who still stood in the lift, unable to move forward without passing by Stiles.
“You’re harbouring a fugitive, Mr. Stilinski.”
“No, I’m offering food and shelter to a war veteran suffering from severe PTSD and memory loss.”
“A veteran who could kill you and everyone you care about in your sleep.”
“You really don’t think much of us, do you?”
“On the contrary, I refuse to think too little of him. He’s a dangerous man, Stiles.”
“Aren’t we all.”
“Do you really want to fight this battle?”
“Is that what this is?” Stiles asked, angry now. He’d come to respect Coulson in the few months since they’d met, but this was dimming his opinion. “Are you going to declare war against me, Coulson?” he felt his lips curl into a sneer. “What would you do if you had him in your custody, huh? Put him in a cage? Study him until you felt satisfied with the results?”
“We need to know what he’s capable of.”
“What we need, is to treat him like a human being. SHIELD isn’t capable of that. He’s staying with me. I’m not going to let you treat someone like a lab rat.”
“Do you know what he’s done?”
“Yes.” the single syllable response had Coulson rocking back, because in it he heard that Stiles really meant what he was saying.
“How did you gain access to that information?”
“How do you think?”
“It certainly helped, but you gave me access to your systems by bringing me onboard, no matter how small the capacity. Did you really think I’d go on a mission without doing my homework first? That I’d put Allison, Clint, or Natasha in the line of fire without knowing just who could be firing?” he scoffed, letting his disgust show. “I thought you knew me better.”
“If you refuse to turn him over to SHIELD custody, you’re aligning yourself with an enemy of the state.” and it was a clear threat. Stiles bared his teeth in an imitation of a grin.
“You know what I think? I think Steve would like to do a press conference on how his old war buddy was kept hostage from a cell group hiding within SHIELD. How he was kept cryogenically frozen for decades and how they’ve finally found each other. Once James’ identity goes public, you won’t be able to touch him.” he stepped back then, not wanting to keep fighting, but also not wanting to make things more difficult for Clint and Natasha. “Or, we can keep things quiet for now. We can deal with things here, not in a secret, hidden government facility, and you can have your best agents reporting back to you with progress. But I won’t subject anyone to this kind of treatment. He’s human and he has rights.” he took a breath, gaze cold. “And I’m ashamed of the fact that you lost sight of that.” and with a wave of his hand, the elevator door closed, taking Coulson back to the ground floor. Stiles closed his eyes, slumping.
“You didn’t have to do that.” he whirled around to face James, offering a tired grin.
“Sure I did, and anyways, it’s done now.”
“They’re going to make life difficult for you.”
“They’re going to try, but I’ve got a lot of practice throwing it right back in their faces. Anyways, Stark’s been trying to convince us to bunk here since we told him who we really were. We’ll just have to take him up on that.”
“Sir would like to point out that moving in so as to protect a brainwashed assassin was not what he had in mind.” Jarvis cut in from the ceiling, sounding almost exasperated, and James side eyed the ceilings even as Stiles laughed.
“Yeah well, tell him that the chances of us moving out once we’re settled are slim to none and he’s going to regret inviting us.” then he walked further into the floor, waving James after him.
“Come on, we should probably talk about how things work around here, orient you before Steve goes all mother hen and overwhelms you.” but James didn’t follow which had Stiles turning back with a frown. “What’s wrong?”
“You really mean it.” and he sounded lost. Stiles stepped back to him, choreographing his movements so James could stop him if he wanted, but he didn’t, and so Stiles laid a hand on his shoulder.
“I did, and I do. We’re going to figure this out. Together.”
“Even though you know?” Stiles just stared for a moment, not looking away from the assassins searching gaze.
“One day I’ll tell you about the Nogitsune, then you’ll understand. Till then, yeah. Whatever they made you do? They’re responsible. Now that you’re you, you have a choice, so it’s what you do from here on out that matters. Unless you fall back on Hydra tendencies, you’re okay in my books.” he gave James’ shoulder a squeeze. “Okay?” James nodded, but there was clear relief in his gaze, and so Stiles gave his shoulder one last squeeze before dropping his hand and waving him forward. “Now come on, before Stark decides to take over the tour and then we’ll never make it to Steve.”
Clint stormed into the tower with a purpose. He was furious with them. Both Allison and Stiles had gone behind their back, but while Allison had gone home to Chris, Stiles was at the tower with the person who’d caused this all, so that’s where he was. Natasha had broken off as soon as they’d been debriefed, wanting to go speak with Allison and Chris, but Clint was raring for a fight. He hit the common floors and barely had time to register the Winter Soldier sitting on the freaking couch before Stiles was up and standing in front of him.
“Clint-” before Stiles could say anything further, Clint braced his hands on both shoulders and shoved. Stiles stumbled back a step and the Winter Soldier actually jumped to his feet, snarl in place, but Clint pointed a finger in his direction.
“You, stay the hell out of it. This is between me and Little Red.” and he rounded on Stiles again, though his word choice made it clear he was just as furious with Allison. “What the hell were you thinking?” he demanded, and Stiles scowled at him. “Do you even know what you just did? You actively set yourself against SHIELD. Against Fury. And for what? You didn’t even tell me what you were doing. I thought you were just going to make sure they didn’t put him in a box, I didn’t think you were going to go behind my back and smuggle him out.”
“We didn’t want you to have to be involved.” Stiles replied carefully, and Clint felt his fury bubbling.
“Didn’t want - fuck you.” he snarled, and Stiles’ hurt was instantaneous. “If you’d have just told me I would’ve helped. Instead you cut me out. Cut Tasha out. I thought you trusted us.”
“You really think either of us was going to risk putting you in a cage just to keep someone else out of one?” Stiles demanded in turn, because now that he understood where Clint’s anger was coming from, he could fight it. “You would’ve been locked up for helping us. You and Natasha both, and you know it. Ali and I? We’ve always been a wild card, they expect this shit from us. But you? This would have marked you a traitor and we weren’t going to put you in that position.”
“So you get to make all the choices? You get to choose for me when I involve myself?”
“We get to choose to protect you.” Stiles snapped back. “We get to choose whether to put you in harms way for our own benefit. Don’t you get it?” he shook his head, anger making his cheeks flush with colour. “You’re part of who we are now. Ali loves you. I love you. I would die before I let something happen to you, and that includes being locked up by the people you trust.” he let his hands drop, tired of fighting, and most of all, sorry that he’d hurt Clint. “I’m sorry we went behind your back, but we weren’t about to ruin things for you with SHIELD because we all know how important it is to you.”
“Yeah well, maybe you’re more important.” Clint snapped, still angry, but Stiles reached out, offering a hand but not quite closing the distance. There was fear in his eyes, and though he was trying to hide, but Clint could see it. He swore again, bypassing Stiles’ hand to yank him in, crushing their mouths together in a kiss, and he fed all of his anger into it.
“I’m sorry.” Stiles finally murmured when they broke apart to breathe, foreheads rested against each other. “We’ll tell you next time. I’m sorry.” Clint just closed his eyes, breathing in slowly as he reigned his emotions back under control.
“Yeah. Me too.” he finally said, opening his eyes. “Nat would’ve done the same.” he admitted, and then shrugged. “So would I.” and Stiles smiled then, pulling away but linking their fingers together.
“There’s someone I want you to meet.” he said then, turning to pull him towards the Winter Soldier, and Clint noted with some smugness that the man looked uncomfortable. “Clint, this is James. He’s going to be staying with us for a while.” then Stiles turned back to James. “James, this is-”
“Your agent.” the soldier replied, and Stiles’ cheeks flushed pink even as Clint looked over in surprise.
“He told you about me?”
“Told me he and his gal lived with their fella who was SHIELD but that you could be trusted.” and Clint blinked, looking at Stiles who was still flushing.
“Ali would kill us if she knew she was being referred to as someone’s gal. For future reference, we’re her fella’s.” Stiles said with a smirk, and James actually rolled his eyes before Clint cut in.
“Good to know. Well, James, there some sort of plan now or you just moving in with Stark?” and James looked at Stiles. Clint’s eyes narrowed.
“Well. Here’s the thing. I told him he can stay with us.”
“At our apartment. With Ali and Tasha and her dad.”
“I was thinking maybe we could move in here for a while actually. Till James feels like he can manage being somewhere a little less secure. But then yeah, our place.” Clint just stared at James who stared back, and then finally rolled his eyes.
“Whatever. How do you feel about dogs?”
Steve woke up to the sound of Stiles chattering away about the last book he’d read and wondered just why Stiles was telling him about a paranormal mystery in his sleep. He shifted, blinking his eyes open to look over at where Stiles would be sitting and his breath caught in his throat. Stiles was there, but he wasn’t talking to Steve. Steve opened his mouth to speak but then Stiles was looking over, meeting his gaze, and interrupting.
“Steve, I’d like you to meet my new friend James.” And now the threat in Stiles’ gaze made sense. Steve cleared his throat, almost embarrassed.
“Hi James.” The greeting had James rolling his eyes.
“Hey Stevie. Heard you got into another fight you couldn’t win.” And it was almost scolding. Steve laughed and blinked back the tears that threatened.
“Just a few scrapes. I was bullied into this bed.” And Stiles grinned without an ounce of shame.
“Damn right.” Then he stood, hands shoved in pockets. “Now come on, Cap, we’re busting you out for movie night. Stark ordered Chinese food.” And even as Steve nodded he was watching the way Bucky - no, James - was watching Stiles like he was the best damn thing since sliced bread. He wondered if the others had noticed - Allison, Clint, and even Natasha - and then couldn’t help but worry about what would happen when they did notice. Instead, he pushed to his feet, a bit unsteady, but James steadied him with a hand on his shoulder, and Steve couldn’t help the stupid grin that spread across his face.
“Come on, punk. You can laze away the day in the common room.” And Steve was pretty sure he looked like a loon now with how wide his grin was.
“Jerk.” He tossed back, and the smallest smirk curled the corner of James’ mouth. He even let Steve lean on him all the way to the common floor, and Steve grinned the whole way.
Natasha slipped into the apartment with the use of her key, emotions swirling and making her chest feel tight. She’d taken a detour home, something she never did unless it was to throw a tail, but this time it had been to avoid confrontation, another thing she never did. And yet. She stood in the hallway, looking towards where she could hear the television on, and wondered just why she’d been avoiding her own home. She realized that was one reason. It had blind-sided her nearly as much as it had Clint, realizing she spent more time at the apartment than at the tower. She didn’t have a ton of clothes but she borrowed from the others, something she found amusing but also comforting because nobody ever stopped her, just looked fond, and it had nearly hurt to see because she wanted it so much. But they’d gone behind her back - behind her and Clint - not trusting them when it mattered most. Allison and Stiles had acted on their own, like they’d always done, except now they weren’t on their own, and it hurt because she’d thought they were important enough. She looked up sharply when Allison stepped into the hallway, and she wondered what was showing on her face before she let it go blank because Allison looked upset.
“I’m sorry.” were the first words out of her mouth, and Natasha was surprised, but she didn’t let it show. Instead, she lifted a brow, aiming for nonchalance.
“I do trust you.” Allison told her, taking a step forward, and Natasha had to fight not to show anything, because she’d clearly revealed too much already. “It wasn’t about trust. We went on our own because we trust you, but also because you trust us.” that earned her a frown, but Allison pushed on. “We trust you to have our backs, and you trust us to do the same, but this time, doing that meant not including you. If we’d told you our plan, you would’ve helped.” and she said it with absolute confidence. “And by helping us, you would’ve lost something important to you both. Stiles and I know how important SHIELD is to you. We know what it means to you both to be apart of something bigger, something that lets you be better. We became that for each other, in our own way. SHIELD is that for you.” she was close enough to touch now, eyes wide with sincerity. “I’m sorry that you doubted me. Doubted us. I - we - trust you completely, but I can’t say I won’t lie to you again to protect you.” she admitted with a smile, but it was nervous, and her eyes were still on Natasha’s. Natasha reached out, cupping Allison’s cheek in her hand before she let a smile spread across her features. Then she leaned in, crossing the boundary they’d all been toeing at but never fully crossed by pressing her lips to Allison’s. When she pulled back, Allison’s eyes fluttered open and a tentative smile bloomed on her features.
“I would have done the same.” and it was the honest truth. Any hurt she’d felt had been pushed away the moment Allison had begun to explain because it was exactly what she would have done to protect her in return - exactly what she would do if the need arose. So she let Allison see her smile, pulling her in closer to kiss her again. Allison’s hands slid into Natasha’s hair in return, deepening the kiss, nipping at her bottom lip.
“Is this the part where I tell you we’re probably moving to the tower temporarily until we can potentially move James in here?” And Natasha let herself laugh, nuzzling against Allison’s cheek.
“Have you told Chris he’s about to become a father of about 10?”
Okay wow this chapter isn't really a chapter it's so short omg but it's how I concluded so... oops? and also I'm sorry.
Anyways, thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a comment and to all of you who left(are leaving???) kudos, it's so much appreciated. Literally half the reason I keep writing is because y'all are so amazing.
Also sorry for all the time jumps? Just assume that unless it was an event that clearly directly followed the previous chapter it's probably been MONTHS because that's how my brain works. I've put it in the tags.
thanks again <3
They’d been back at the tower for nearly four month when Clint started to realize what Stiles had done. Clint was leaning against James’ side, the super soldier’s arm resting on the back of the couch behind him, fingers toying with the ends of Natasha's hair. Stiles was sprawled across Clint’s lap, head pillowed on James’ thigh. The younger man had his hand tangled in Clint’s, his legs thrown over Natasha and tucked under Allison’s thigh who was curled around Natasha in turn, all but dozing against the redhead. Natasha had one hand tangled with Allison's and the other curved just below Stiles' knee, her shoulder pressed firmly against Clint's, and Clint didn't think he'd ever seen her so relaxed. He turned his head to see Steve on James’ other side, leaning against the metal arm as a backrest, his sketchbook propped up against his knees, and from this angle Clint could see he was touching up a drawing of Allison and Stiles in full fantastical Little Red gear (which meant all the unnecessary straps and buckles, but hey, Clint wasn't complaining), but with an aura around them that was clearly supposed to be magical and usually unseen. He wondered if it was that invisible aura Steve was drawing that had drawn them all in, brought them all together. Stiles’ fingers squeezed around his and he looked down, meeting Stiles’ watchful gaze, and couldn’t help but huff out a breath even as he gave a reluctant smile.
“Are we all dating?” Clint asked, and felt everyone else’s gaze turn to him at the question, no longer on the movie onscreen. Stiles flushed bright red right as Allison laughed.
“We’re not, not dating.” Stiles hedged, and that earned a chuckle from James as well.
“Did you only just realize?” Natasha asked, the curve of her mouth soft even as it teased him.
“When did you realize it?” Clint shot back, and Natasha’s gaze slid to Allison, curve turning into a full smile.
“If it makes you feel better, some of us are platonic only bonds.” Allison put in helpfully, yawning herself awake and wrapping a hand around Stiles’ ankle. “Think of it as a wolf pack.”
“But none of us are wolves.” Steve countered, though it was clear from how he was still relaxed against James that he wasn’t surprised by Clint’s revelation either.
“But Ali and I were part of a wolf pack. It sort of rubbed off on us.” Stiles admitted. “Add that to my magic and well, it’s kind of my fault I guess.” which sort of confirmed Clint’s belief about that whole aura thing. However, the tone of self-blame was unacceptable.
“I don’t mind.” Clint admitted, squeezing Stiles’ hand in comfort. “It just took me a while to realize you’d done it again.” and that had Stiles nearly the colour of a tomato.
“It wasn’t on purpose.” Stiles hedged, and this time it was Natasha that laughed.
“Did you know the apartment has a spare room?” she said far too innocently, and Clint blinked, staring blankly at his partner (and now it looked like he meant it in every sense of the word) before he turned an exasperated look on Stiles.
“Give our boy a break.” James cut in, metal hand shifting just enough to muss Stiles’ hair on his lap without disrupting Steve. “After all, he brought us all together.” and as Clint looked around him at the people he now considered his, he couldn’t argue that.
“For some reason I’m in love with you.” he muttered. “Despite the fact that you keep manipulating me into relationships I don’t know about until months later.” the words had Stiles surging up, catching Clint’s mouth in a fierce kiss. When he pulled back, the younger man was grinning at him like he’d hung the sun and stars before he settled back down to his earlier position, beaming grin in place.
“I love you too.”
"Yeah, yeah, we all love each other and shit. Now shut up and watch the movie." James cut in, but Clint could hear the fondness in his voice even as Stiles turned to muffle his snickers against James' thigh. Clint just grinned. No, he didn't mind a bit.