Log in

No account? Create an account
22 April 2015 @ 04:49 pm
To Build A Home
[ 1400 words | non-beta'd | G | no warnings but see disclaimer ]

Disclaimer: this is not meant as speculation on AoU, this is not me 'retconning' for any sort of purpose, I'm not trying to fix anything I've read about or heard speculated. This is simply an idea I had regarding Clint and his apparent propensity for picking up strays with no motive other than to give them a chance. This has potential-AoU references in it, but is not me trying to fix anything. I don't think it's not going up on AO3 though.

Laura always joked that he picked up strays. She said it’s because he’s a father, and Clint would always snort and refute that. Clint wasn’t a father, he’d make a terrible father, and anyway, you need a kid to be a father. And Laura would smile and say you have a kid, and you’re a father to her in all the ways that matter and then refuse to hear anything else on the matter.

But Clint was always wary of those types of words – words like ‘father’ and ‘family’ – see; Clint had a family, once. He had a family and it wasn’t good, had a father who wasn’t good either. And then he lost that family, that father – and his mother as well, and all that remained was a brother. A brother who went and got himself a new family and treated them about as well as their old family had treated them.

And then he lost the rest of his family, his brother going in much the same way as his father had, and Clint decided that if all Barton’s ever did was make orphans and strays, they might as well be orphans and strays together.

So Clint went in search of his brother’s widow and found Laura. Laura, was too good for his brother and deserved more than she’d been given, and her daughter Lila, Clint’s niece, three years old and warier than she should be.

They weren’t strays, not really, but Laura might have a point.

When he first found them he was only just starting at SHIELD, so the scrutiny and security was less than it became. But he was still careful. Through some legal loophole he’d ended up with his childhood home as well as Grandpa Barton’s old plot on the border. He didn’t need them and they were rundown as fuck anyway so he sold them; funnelled the money through several different accounts until he could give it to Laura without it being traced back to him. He told her to build a place, make it a home and put the next of kin as Francis Clinton – it’d get back to him somehow, if it needed to.

So Laura Barton built a farm, because Laura Barton was from rural Alabama.

Clint tried to see them as much as he could but both he and Laura knew that regularity and certainty were impossible, so Laura wouldn’t look out for him. When Lila turned five he managed to turn up just in time with a collie he’d passed on the drive up, mangy and rummaging through trash by the side of the road. Laura had laughed and complained about vet bills but she’d clean him up and said he could be trained up as a sheepdog for all those sheep we don’t have. Lila loved him and called him Toby, following him around the yard and shrieking with glee when he licked her.

Sometime later and Clint turned up with more bandages than he should technically be driving with. Laura made him steak and chips and made sure he was comfortable while Lila read him Pippi Longstocking and Toby drooled on his feet. Two weeks later and Clint said you’ve got to tell me if you find someone new. He knew that Laura should have more than just him, should have someone who loves her and cares for her and will never ben continents away when she needs them. But Laura had just laughed and said there’s a good looking farmhand one farm over, but I’m alright for now, Clint. Don’t worry.

When he couldn’t see them, he’d email. They were always from fake accounts but Laura always knew it was him, because they’d always mention apples and be signed with some combination of Barton family names. Clint would talk about co-workers – though never by name – the countries he was in – but without being specific – and would always, always ask if she needed anything, if Lila was OK and if Toby was OK and that he would always help, in any way he could.

And then Clint turned up one day with an assassin in tow.

So yeah, maybe Laura really did have a point.

Natasha was quiet and still and had an air of sophistication that Laura, with her farm boots, Alabama accent and plaid shirts, would never possess. She was self-contained and built walls inside her so high Clint wasn’t sure even she knew who she really was.

Lila insisted she have the room overlooking the garden and explained how to repair fences, and Natasha looked at her like she was speaking Farsi. Laura chatted about TV and films until she realised Natasha didn’t know what she was talking about and instead taught her how to make jam. Clint helped her sharpen machetes.

Clint was self-aware enough to realise he liked her more than he should. By now Laura knew Clint well enough to know it too, and she’d smirk at him when Natasha wasn’t looking.

But Clint was also smart enough to realise that that wasn’t what she needed, maybe wasn’t what she would ever need, from him. So he instead he became something only Laura ever believed he could be; he became her friend.

Laura believed he could be a lot of things; a friend, a father, a good man. Clint didn’t really believe it himself, but he trusted Laura’s judgement.

Clint had no idea how a woman like Laura could end up with a man like his brother.

After Natasha it became a sort of habit; Clint got SHIELD to hire an ex-con as a hacker, dropped of a hitchhiker called Ellie with Laura because she needed a place to say and was apparently good with horses, and adopted another dog – one-eyed and called Lucky, of all things – as well as an intern-slash-protégé called Kate.

But no matter where he was or what was happening, he always remembered Lila’s birthday and sent presents back to the farm every Christmas. And whenever he managed to drag his sorry ass back out to bumfuck Iowa, Laura and Lila were always there, with apples and homemade jam and the kind of life Clint would have killed for as a kid.

And then a hammer fell out of the sky and the world went weird.

True to form, Clint supported the underdog. True to form, Coulson’s eye roll was almost audible when Clint said you better call it Coulson, I’m starting to root for this guy.

Technically, Clint didn’t bring that particular ‘stray’ home but Laura definitely, one hundred per cent, had a point.

It’s not because he’s ‘a father’ though. Clint spent his childhood wanting a family like the ones he saw on TV and Clint also spent his childhood largely abandoned and not given options.

So now that he can, he wants to give people options, and now that he’s older, he’s found his own family; a woman with a farm who makes jam and teaches English part-time, a child who Clint saw with missing front teeth, scraped knees and a happy A+ on her Biology papers. Toby the dog, and Ellie the hitchhiker, and the good looking farmhand from one farm over who can make Laura blush at the drop if a hat. And Kate, who loves Lila like a sister and somehow fits the farm despite being New York through and through.

But he’s also found another family, and they’re less usual; Natasha the assassin, and Thor the god, and Tony Stark, and Captain America and Bruce, who turns green when he’s pissed off. And that family is getting bigger all the time. Those few SHIELD personnel who survived the whole SHIELD is Hydra thing are family too, and there’s a CEO and an Air Force Colonel and a Afghanistan vet with wings and more scientists than he can shake a stick at.

And maybe Natasha has levelled her walls enough to let someone in, and maybe that’s not Clint, and maybe a little part of him aches at that. But that’s OK, because Clint could never, ever resent her her choices.

And maybe Tony did something dumb and the world is ending (again). But that’s OK too because saving the world is sort of Clint’s job now.

As well as occasionally picking up strays.

And hey, thanks to Tony Clint now has an excuse to introduce one family to the other.
sweetwatersongsweetwatersong on May 15th, 2015 10:04 pm (UTC)
There's a lot of "oh, shiny," and grabby motions going on over here, because ooooooh. I love how you wove a story from strays and possibilities and a 'now' that never seems like years have gone by but carries us through them nonetheless. It's always the present moment, always the next thing coming, and so many good things come. <3
Atlas of Cloudsfranztastisch on May 16th, 2015 02:12 pm (UTC)
Aww thanks! That's such a lovely comment. :)