Sometimes, he would wake up in the middle of the night sweating, screaming and crying, feeling the place at his side cold and empty- wondering why. Feeling like it wasn’t like it was supposed to be. Like it hadn’t always felt like that. Like the dreams weren’t actual dreams but a reality he had lived- and yet, all too aware that it was impossible.
When people talked- about their wives and children and family and schools and all that jazz- names would come to mind, appear in the front of his brain like from thein air – Laura and Callum and Lewis and Nicole – and he would look quizzically in the void, wondering who they are and yet feeling like they were missing from his life, and weren’t supposed to.
And then, there were those odd feelings he couldn’t quite understand- quite point his finger at- like feeling incredibly at home at the Triskelion, and knowing the place inch by every inch, like he had always been there- like it was somehow a second home to him- but what scared him the most, was what he felt for Tasha.
She had been (one of) the love(s) of his life; he had always cared about her. Worried about her. Developed an uncanny friendship and companionship despite not being together any longer. And yet, after the skies turned red and Reed and Sue died somehow saving each and every one of them from an unknown fate, things had changed between them -for him, at least; he would feel hate like he had never felt before, rage and his blood boiling, and more than once he had barely resisting the urge of attacking her. Not for any particular reason- just because he felt he had to. That she deserved to die at his own hands. Even if he didn’t know why.
One day, he was talking with Basher (the young) before a Mission with Berto’s team, and it all came out.
“This is the eight incarnation of this reality- and yet, my father believes that until a few months ago, we were living in the seventh one.” The young scientist explained. “Maybe you remember the world as it used to be, and not as it is now.”
Was it possible, he wondered? Having lived two lives- one an athlete enhanced by SHIELD, married with children and happy until he wasn’t any longer, and yet also a carnie freak who tried to be a criminal and then turned out to be pretty awesome at being an hero.
He was, slowly, turning mad- even Barney(who was never in his dreams, like he hadn’t been alive to begin with) and Kate (Whom Spidey the younger looked with both fear and resentment and regrets and affection and many other reasons that quite didn’t make any sense, because he knew that Spidey the young and Kate had never been part of the same team, that they barely knew each other) were starting to get annoyed with him.
He turned to magicians. Spell-casters. Telepaths. Psyches. And yet… nothing.
Until one night, he woke up in the middle of his dream- in his dream- and they were there. Reed and Sue and Franklin and Valeria and the kids and then another guy who was smirking at him, and…
“Hang on one sec- I know you. You are what-is-his name… The… Molecule guy, right?”
Owen smirked, and touched Clint’s forehead with his right index finger, just like God in those Italian paintings Laura loved so much (How did he know it, anyway?).
“My bad. I told Miles that he would have gone part of his world back because he’s been kind to me- and trust me, it was quite a new and nice feeling- but I think I got things mixed up. Took a bit of another Barton and put it in you while you were sleeping. Sorry, pal.”
And then, as Reed and Sue were holding hands and the kids were hugging him -because, hello? He and their Uncle Johnny were the coolest guys on the face of the planet!- he woke up in his bed, feeling like he had just had a dream and yet not remembering any of it.
And yet… feeling like something was amiss.
Like he had forgotten something.
Or maybe, just maybe… someone.