“I don’t know how you do it,” Clint says, leaning back into the railing as they watch the kids run across the grass. “I mean, I get how Tony does it. He’s got nothing to lose.”
Scott looks away from the kids to raise an eyebrow, mug pausing against his lips.
“But you…” Clint shakes his head. “I took a risk telling the team, and it still gives me nightmares sometimes. And I trust them.”
Scott leans back as well, settling his weight against the railing himself. It’d been more rickety the last time he’d been by. But Tony had insisted on upgrading some of Clint’s upgrades and somehow they’d all gotten involved until Clint’s home had become somewhat of a retreat for everyone when things got really bad and they needed to touch base with what was really important. Even if Scott never really needs reminding. Regardless, he trusts high tech upgrades that look low tech and he knows the railing can hold the Hulk despite it’s rustic flair. So he follows through and hops right on up, legs swinging a bit.
Clint - circus brat that he was - doesn’t even bat an eye.
“Works for Steve too,” he points out, gesturing with his mug for good measure. “Hell, it’s even managed to work for Barnes.” No one dares call him anything else. Only Steve can call him “Bucky” and while he’ll let a body get away with James, he never answers to it. Not even Tony Stark yet has the balls to try to call him any derivative there of. Scott’s fairly certain just thinking it is liable to get a body seriously injured. At that, he’s pretty sure Barnes actually likes him. They have good history and all.
Clint makes a sound through his teeth and cocks his head. He’s not exactly disagreeing, but it’s not full agreement either. Scott’ll take it.
“Still,” he says and shakes his head. “It just doesn’t sit right with me.” He shrugs, arms crossed in that way that both subconsciously projects that he’s uncomfortable and equally showcases his archery guns. Which, Scott freely admits are impressive as hell.
“To each their own, I guess,” Scott replies, taking another sip of his drink and turning to watch the kids again. He’d never been happier than when his visitation rights had been eclipsed by restoration of custody over Cassie. No one came out and said it, but knowing he was an Avenger - and quite possibly all the string pullers that came along with the job - was the entire reason he’d even been able to legally revisit the subject. Maggie and Paxton had also been seriously awesome about the whole thing as well. And his life has been nothing but on the rise since the day he pulled his second ever job. He does his best to be prepared for the inevitable, but being an Avenger comes with excellent benefits. He knows if anything happens to him - on the job or off - Cassie will be taken care of. Maggie too. Not that Paxton wouldn’t be capable enough, but it’s reassuring in it’s own way that the three of them will never want for anything if - when? - things eventually go south for him. “But, you have more kids than me.”
Clint snorts. “I’d say you’re still young, but in our line of work…”
The ball the kids are playing with goes flying wide and Cassie faceplants in her pursuit of it. Like the trooper she is, she gets up without so much as a sniff, dusts herself off, wipes her hands on her bottom and keeps right on going.
“I love my kids,” Clint expands. “But every time I hear those words ‘I’m pregnant’...I go all cold in the gut, even as the rest of me gets all excited. I try not to let Laura see the first part, but…” He sighs. “I’m pretty sure she’s caught on by now.”
Scott nods. “Well, each one’s another potential liability,” he says reasonably. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago, someone hell bent on revenge had gone to his ex-wife’s home and held his daughter hostage.
Clint nods as well.
“But, they’re also your family. And no one’s going to hold it against you for being happy about it.” He gives a soft snort, shifting his feet so they lock him in place as he holds out both arms. “When I first held Cassie in my arms…” He shakes his head, trying to find the words to express the enormity of the feeling. “It was like the sun rising for the first time in my life, and I’d never seen a sunrise before. And that light...it touched everything. No part of me was ever the same again. And I didn’t care. I didn’t want it to be.”
“It’s the same, no matter how many times you do it,” Clint responds with a light, nearly helpless laugh.
Reaching over, Scott gently taps him in the chest with the back of his hand. “Good on you, “ he says. “For having that. No really, I mean it. The others...They’re good at what they do. They’re great. But they lose focus in the repetition of it all. Save the world. Kick back. Save the world. Train. Save the world. They forget the reasons they started in the first place. Why they sacrificed everything. They lose sight of the reason they get out of bed every morning and do what they do. It's why they struggle more than we do.”
They both turn to look at the kids again. Take in their own reasons for throwing themselves into the fray every single day. For hunting down madmen and stepping in the way of imminent danger. The ball has rolled under a tractor and they’re having trouble getting it out. Cooper is trying to scoot under while keeping Lila and Cassie from following him, while they argue that they’re smaller and faster and thus better qualified to retrieve it - if not in so many words.
Scott and Clint sip from their mugs and let the moment wash over them. These sort of days are rare now, and getting rarer.
Cooper’s sneaker kicks up dust and Lila shrieks and kicks some back at him as if he’s done it on purpose. Cassie rolls her eyes.
Cassie turns on her heel and stomps away a few paces before shouting, “Fluffy!”
The super sized ant comes scuttling through the grass at the summons and Scott laughs. He can’t explain their relationship any more than anyone else tries to. Hank still finds it fascinating. Cassie points to the tractor. “Ball,” she says, clearly.
Scott has to hide his grin behind his mug as the ant lifts the tractor clear off the ground, antennae feeling around for the ball. They bob around Cooper’s head, the boy making a face as they come into contact with him. Cassie skips forward and retrieves the ball while Lila tugs her brother out of the way.
“Down!” Cassie says and the tractor is set down clear of the children.
Clint taps him on the chest as Cassie climbs up onto Fluffy’s back. “I’m glad you’re here,” he says with a smile.
“Glad to be here,” Scott replies, even though he can feel the weight behind the words. Clint’s glad to not be alone in this anymore. Frankly, Scott’s grateful the archer paved the way. Sometimes it’s nice to just be dads together.
“Looks like it’s going to be a nice night,” Clint points out, straightening with a bit of a stretch.
Scott feels his own spine beg for attention as Clint’s gives a soft pop and the other man sighs in relief. He raises a brow as the archer turns and heads for the front door.
“Checking on Nate?” he asks.
“Making a call.” Clint smiles at the confusion on his face. In their periphery, Fluffy charges off in a cloud of dust with the kids on its back. The ball bounces free in their wake and rolls harmlessly into a patch of shade. “Pretty sure everyone’s free tonight. And you know, it’s our job to keep them on point.”
Scott laughs and salutes him with his mug.
Clint winks and disappears back into the house.
Turning back to take in the kids, Scott throws his legs over the railing so he’s facing the exterior property. He knows they’ll all come, plans or no. The Avengers are a family and if there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s that they love being reminded of it.
Fluffy rears and the kids laugh, clinging to one another.
Scott doesn’t much mind it himself.