It’s almost been eight months since Thor took Loki away. Eight months since Director Fury banned me from S.H.I.E.L.D HQ "for my own good." I still want to beat him to death for that comment even though it ended up being true. Eight public months, of the Avengers going around "saving" the world from S.H.I.E.L.D criminals. Ironically, myself included. Banned from S.H.I.E.L.D is not banned from Avengers. Thanks Steve... But in all that time, Natasha and I have been living with Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner and Pepper Potts. And all that time, everyone had been checking to see if I was fine.
A week or so after having gotten free from Loki, I was taken by someone in S.H.I.E.L.D. We still have yet to figure out who. But whoever it was, used some tech from Tony’s father to basically mess with my mind. It’s taken almost this long to really figure out what had actually happened to me during that entire day... What was real and what wasn’t. The questioning at the end, the time it seemed I was in debrief with unknown voices was apparently real. But everything else (Loki and torture), wasn’t. From the moment I woke after being taken from Tony’s place in Miami to waking in the Council room on the Triskelion was fake. In a surprising move, the Council had given Fury their ‘investigation’ into what they had asked and how I had answered. Being drugged out of my mind, I was actually perfectly honest with everything I remembered. Honest to the point that Nat was mad at me for a little while considering I had lied to her about a few of the things I told the Council. Whoops.
After having been captured, given a hole bunch of chemicals, and waiting until Tony cleared me from the chemicals from his father’s device, was a highly boring week. But, when Fury allowed me to come back on Avengers duty, he claimed: ‘I can't treat Agent Barton any different than Dr. Banner or Dr. Eric Selvig now can I?’ That got a few heads rolling (mostly the stupid Council, but who cares about them?). It wasn’t like I was gonna be taking missions with S.H.I.E.L.D, just working with the Avengers. I still have, I think a year or something until I’m allowed that. Also kinda helped that Fury knew I was not good at sitting back and relaxing. I'm one who ‘works’ through my problem by doing other things. He learned that after my actual brother ‘died’ a few years back. When he tried to give me grief time, all hell broke loose until he sent me on a mission.
But everything has been rather easy lately; nothing like going against Loki and the Chitauri. Going on Avengers cases with the others has shown me more about them then just spying on them during our socializing times. Seeing them in battle, I get to see them open up a lot more. When in Stark Towers (now more considered Avengers' HQ), Steve seems rather shy and sullen but in the battle field he becomes a strong and confident leader. Tony goes from cocky ass, prankster to ‘call me and I'm there to help.’ Natasha's rather closed off spying, ‘leave me alone or I'll kill you attitude’ changes to ‘come here and I'll really show you what sexy can do’ (so pretty typical for how she was in S.H.I.E.L.D). And Bruce... Well, we all know what happens to Bruce.
I was rather surprised to learn how well the others hid behind masks. Though I knew Natasha hid behind one, I never knew about the others. As I watch them from my distant views of the battlefields, I see them all getting along. It makes me miss the times when it was just me and Natasha and Coulson on a mission. And sometimes, it made me almost want to jump down from wherever I was perched and stand by her side. But, considering eight months ago I had been the enemy for a short time, I still wasn't sure I wanted to get really close to these guys. No matter how much they all seemed to trust me.
So in times like this (when there are no bad guys to go after), and there is nothing to do but wait, we all tend to get a little antsy. Tony and I have already been pretty much banned from pranking anyone; especially when we started teaming up. The billionaire had been rather surprised to know that I was an expert pranker. But after a few months of living with him, he just kind of went with it. I mostly tended to go after Natasha and Tony tended to go after Pepper or Bruce. But when we joined forces we liked to go after Steve. His super soldier serum couldn't make him fast enough to catch both of us when we took off in two directions.
But now, with the pranking banned (damn you Nat), Tony and I had kind of gone our separate ways. We didn't really have anything else in common outside of that (that I had noticed so far). Since we all still didn't really know each other well, we all tended to keep to ourselves. Thinking about it, I wondered now where everyone was.
Right now I figured Bruce was in his own private bio lab. When he mentioned to Tony that he was still looking for a cure, Tony made sure that a private lab was designed into the redecorating. Tony was more than likely in his own lab or garage. Probably working on one of the suits or designing a new one. Hell, maybe the guy was modifying something else that honestly didn't need modifying. When you walk into a kitchen with a walking and talking toaster, you know who to blame. Steve was either in the downstairs training room that was specifically designed for him, cooking dinner (or attempting too as he was too used to the 1930s way of cooking) or catching up on some of his missing years by either reading a book or trying to watch TV. And Natasha... She was definitely training.
Tony had gone above and beyond when he heard that none of us had a safe place to go. When Thor left with Loki (and after a few other things that I'd rather not talk about), he told us that Stark Towers would be ready in a few weeks. We weren't sure if we believed him (ie: we all thought he was joking) but we all ended up meeting up in Miami until the tower was ready. The place was entirely done and refurbished to fit all of us just in time for me to get a clean bill of health from Tony and Bruce. In the end, Tony went too far for all of us. Not only did we all have our own private rooms but we also had our own different areas as well. Tony built a gym for Steve that could handle the super soldier strength. He built Natasha an infiltrator's camp/gym set up that would automatically change if it noticed that she was going through it too easily.
And then there was my area; a huge archery range that encompassed the whole base of the tower. It connected to multiple computers and JARVIS so that they could all not only be controlled by someone watching me but they could follow me and challenge me to a higher level. Not only did this range have targets set up in random areas, but I didn't have to stay in one spot. Well, actually... Tony pretty much forbid me from being in one spot for too long. After thirty, sometimes forty, seconds of standing in one spot, something would tend to attack me. The first time, I had an arrow shot at me. Almost shot through my ankle because I wasn't focused on looking for attacks at me. The second time it was an explosion. Thankfully, I was waiting for that and all I got was the concussive blow throwing off the trajectory of my jump.
But right now I wasn't down in the range. Too much time down there shooting with my bow can actually hinder me more than help. Or at least that was what Coulson always told me. So, for now, I was up on the roof, my newest hiding spot in a seemingly unending list. But it was quickly growing into my favorite. Up here I could see nearly all of New York. Not many of the other Avengers had found their way up here yet (not including the easy stair access to the other side of the roof), so it was all mine so far. I could stretch out. Be more myself. And the best part, so far I couldn't find a single trace of JARVIS up here. It was nice, peaceful, open. A perfect spot to find a hawk.
'Speaking of,' I thought to myself before slowly turning to the south end of Stark tower. I had noticed, about two days before, a rather large collection of twigs, leaves, strings and other such randomly light objects were beginning to merge in between two decent sized air condition units. Normally, I would never have noticed it but when you see a small feather sticking between the grates of the units, you tend to investigate. So now, when I remember to check on it, I briefly stop by to see what type of creature was creating such a mess. As it happened, I hadn't had any luck as of yet, but today I was feeling lucky.
The air conditioning units weren't directly available from the area where I normally hung out. Mostly, because I don't take the normal route of stairs and doorway to get to the roof. So, I had to twist and slide my body slowly and gracefully across different types of pipes and tubes that did different services for the building. Some were labeled, some weren't. But on every single one of them, I acted like they'd explode if I even jostled them slightly out of place. As I got closer to the two units I began hearing sounds of twigs snapping and rustling of leaves. Someone was moving the collection around. It meant that someone was home. Moving quieter than ever before, I slunk closer and was shocked.
"Hawks?" comes my startled voice as I looked upon the beautiful pair of hawks that now faced me with little to no fear in their hazel brown eyes. For a moment, I freeze as realization hits me that I just invaded the territory of actual predators trying to set up a nest. To make it worse, it wasn't just one of them, it was both of them. And then I see the reddish brown on their tails. 'Red-tailed hawks. Now what did Coulson tell me about them...' I thought but before I could think of anything my old handler said, the hawks went back to building their nest as though I wasn't there. My mouth almost dropped down in shock before I noticed the little ID tags on their legs. They had been around humans before.
'Could they really be that desensitized?' I wondered before shifting closer. The smaller of the two hawks looked to me. Almost as if it realized that I'm not going to leave, it hopped closer to me. I kept perfectly still as I watched the hawk move toward me. Unsure of what else to do, I had made sure to focus my eyes near its gaze but not centered completely on it. Then the hawk gave a small kree-ing sound and turned back to making the nest. Stunned, I blinked my eyes a few times and just went back to watching them. After a few minutes and no more odd occurrences of behavior, I decided to leave them alone. My mission was over; I now knew what was going on. But that just meant a new mission had started, when were the babies going to come?
As I backed away from them and began my trek back toward my normal hiding spot, I had to stop and laugh. Before my thoughts had been clouded with the fascination of telling Natasha all about the hawks, but now I wasn't sure. This was something that Natasha and Tony would really get a kick out of. Did I really want to tell them? Because really, only something like this could happen to me. Just my luck, that the Avenger "Hawkeye's" favorite private spot would get invaded by actual hawks.
It was about a week after I discovered the hawks on the roof that Thor finally returned from Asgard. At first, we had all been happy to him, Tony had even started to plan a huge party. Hell, he was going to throw a week long fiesta by the sounds of it. Even Pepper sounded like she'd allow him too, which was a surprise. Normally she tried to limit him but she was going to let him go all out on this. But when Thor wasn't really sharing our happiness and he willingly told us why.
Apparently during Loki's trial, many Asgardians had felt that they had indeed been wronged by the Royal family. Most also admitted they didn't care about Midgard. A few only cared about Loki's past misdeeds around the realms and wanted him punished for those. But basically it all turned out that Loki's trial was a total sham. And now some 'mysterious' woman, Amora, with magic powers almost as strong as Loki's has vowed vengeance against the Avengers, but mainly against me.
"Why me?" I asked when everyone focused their attention on me. Natasha looked worried. Tony seemed a little put off. Steve was rather stressed. Bruce kept trying to keep his eyes focused on everyone as if doing so would change the outcome of what was happening. Pepper just looked sorry for me. And Thor almost acted liked he wanted to be in my place instead. They all knew what had happened to me previously. Why was it going to continue? What was it that made the world... Universe, against me?
"I fear I do not fully understand her reasoning, my friend," Thor despairingly answered. I frowned, half at his answer, the other half at his use of the word 'friend.' The man had only met me a few times and even then we barely spoke. And hell, I even told him I wanted to kill his brother in a very slow and painful fashion, which had made Loki laugh, but we won't get into that.
"Hey, we kicked Loki's ass. I think we can handle this woman too," Tony bravely stated. I felt a bit better at his bravado until Thor shook his head in sadness. 'Why did he have to do that? Why?' I thought to myself with a silent groan. Natasha focused on me for only a second before she looked back to Thor. Steve and Bruce never stopped watching the thunder god.
"Amora is as crafty as Loki. And the Loki we battled before was not the Loki I remember well. I fear we could be out matched. But I have asked Heimdall to help watch over you, my friend," Thor responded as if this other Asgardian watching me would make me feel better. I could only nod, praying that Thor doesn’t see my discomfort at being watched. In fact, now that I knew about it, I couldn’t get the feeling of being watched to vanish again. It was just stuck there. Damn it. Thor had mentioned Heimdall before, when he was transporting Loki back to Asgard, so I knew that the blonde god trusted whoever he was. But, I wasn't sure that I was in such a trusting mood. Too much shit had happened. First Thor in New Mexico, Pegasus, mind control/Loki, and then the Chitauri. Yeah, fuck it all.
"This Himale? Can we trust him in battle?" Steve questioned, completely butchering the poor guy's name. Tony and I hid behind sniggers as Thor shook his head. Natasha lightly slapped me when she heard the sound and sent me a sharp glare. But the hidden joke between Tony and myself did help calm me. We loved when Steve messed anything up. Hell, there had been times we created fake names or words just to listen to Steve try and state them after us. It wasn’t anything bad and at this point, I was willing to bet Steve kept doing it just to fuck with us.
"Heimdall guards the Bifrost and must always stay in Asgard. But like our friend, sees all from above," Thor briefly explained, stressing the correct way to say his friend's name. Steve frowned (mostly at Tony) but nodded. I rolled my eyes. 'Great, so this guy was only an informant,' I thought to myself as I turned away from Thor. Natasha gently touched my shoulder. A sign that she was asking if I was okay. I twitched away, silently telling her that I wasn't and I wanted to be left alone. She looked away but I didn't miss the brief flash of hurt on her face. Sighing, I knew that I was gonna have to apologize for that later. There was a lot I had to apologize for lately.
"So, Thor, when can we expect this... Enchantress to attack?" Bruce wondered aloud. At that Thor shrugged. Groaning, I leaned back in my seat. Tony did the same so no one actually noticed when I did it (except Natasha who glared at me). I ignored her as Tony spoke.
"Come on! You come here, claiming there's gonna be a battle and then say you have no idea when it's gonna be?" Tony cried. Thor frowned. I had seen that the next words were going to be even worse than finding out there was a price on my head. Sighing, I waited for the god to speak.
"Amora is... Different. She can be very patient when the time comes. Sometimes, she has waited months to attack. Other times, she declared an attack and then proceeded to attack. She is..." Thor stopped. I noticed he was having trouble with this next word. Almost like he was searching his mind for the proper statement. Rolling my eyes, I settled in for Tony's long guessing game. I thankfully didn't have to wait long as Tony didn’t even get to start.
"Unpredictable," Pepper provided helpfully. Thor smiled at her and nodded. That apparently had been the word he was searching for. I sighed deeply and turned my chair before getting up. This was getting annoying. Almost like a meeting with Fury about my disrespect around S.H.I.E.L.D. I was done with it all.
"Clint?" Natasha asked as I walked away from the group. I paused to look back at her over my shoulder. Everyone was now looking at me. I almost felt like it was the first day back from Loki's take over when I was still at S.H.I.E.L.D HQ. They were all just waiting for me to snap. Natasha slowly got up and began to walk over to me. But I couldn’t deal with it all. "You okay?"
"Just need some air."
"Look, Legolas, you can't disappear anymore," Tony suddenly remarked. I frowned, turning to glare at the genius. "Hey, you got some insane lady with magic after you. I can't guarantee that my security can stop her!"
"Oh, that makes me feel safe," I snapped back before Tony could retort, my fear having gotten the best of me. Natasha's hand quickly snapped across my face. The stars that followed the attack reminded me of the stars that got me out of Loki's control. Shocked, I look to her. Her eyes are rimmed with anger and what possibly seemed to be tears but I knew that couldn't be true. Natasha never cried.
"Don't be an ass. We're worried," she growled. I couldn't help it. I laughed. My laughter made them all pause. The anger slowly faded from Natasha's eyes. My laughter died out once it vanished from her body as well. Here was the moment when they finally realized what was going on. That they didn’t need me. Honestly I had been surprised that it took so long.
"You guys, worried about me? Hawkeye? The guy who fades into the background? The guy no one sees? Who cares about me? Who the hell cares? I could vanish off this team right now and it wouldn't make a lick of difference. You guys could still fight. Could still win. Could still be one hell of a team. No one out there would give one flying FUCK! WHO CARES ABOUT FUCKING HAWKEYE!" I screamed at Natasha. Each statement had been thrown out of my mouth with so much force and unbridled fury that I was surprised she didn't try to slink away from me in fear or even viciously attack me to make me see sense. Her shock kept her frozen to the spot.
That was when it hit me what I had done. Natasha was going to unfreeze as soon as the statements sunk in. I knew I had only seconds before her anger kicked in and she began to beat me senseless. And that was all the time I needed. The vent above me was already loose. I made sure of that weeks ago, not that I knew something like this would happen. Had originally done it to escape Fury but this worked as well. Within seconds, I was up and gone.
This has a somewhat slow start but I needed to set up some background to this. I promise, it gets better. As I've said in After Loki, this story has been posted on Fanfiction.net but this is a very edited version. So, ignore what is posted over there. Hope you all enjoy.
Darius is doing good. Currently making a food mess in the house... But, good. We had an adventurous weekend. Sunday we saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra which was an amazing show! We sat front row so the band members could really see us and tended to wave to Darius when they had a second to do so. Monday night we went to Monday Night Raw. We sat third row TV side. If you watch Raw then look for the woman in purple and blue hair with glasses. That's me. Darius is the child in the purple Firefly Funhouse shirt. Had a troublesome week just because of lack of sleep for all of us, but we seem to be catching up pretty good now. Baby Jason is doing good. Yesterday, everyone had him laughing by playing various games. This morning, he threw up on his parents after being put in the car. Hopefully he isn't ill.
I hope you all enjoy. I plan on posting every day or every other day. But I can't promise. I keep forgetting. Whoops. Anyways, till next time!