A/N: A note before we start:
Kate Bishop is a canon character from the main Marvel Universe (Earth-616), particularly in Young Avengers and the Hawkeye comics. She is not shown in the MCU, but her existence and parts of Clint's off-duty personality are influenced/borrowed from the two comics mentioned.
(Because 616-Clint is a bit of a hot mess.)
It was Tony's fault.
It was also Clint's fault. And Darcy's. And Kate's. And Bucky's.
But mostly, it was Tony's fault.
It was Tony's fault that de-aging happened, that the time-travel happened, that the fictional characters showed up, and that Bucky somehow gained a new best friend other than Steve.
Because if Tony hadn't made the localized space-time manipulator, no one would have tried to use it.
Especially not Darcy.
"So how old are you?" Darcy didn't look up from where she was poking around in the machinery. She messed around with Jane's stuff all the time; she knew what she was doing. Mostly.
"Seventeen. Technically still in high school, but I'm taking online classes because of the super-heroing thing." Kate sat on a workstool that stood at a nearby table. "You?"
"Twenty-four. Just got my poli-sci degree about a year ago. I still work for Jane, though." Darcy poked a few more buttons. "Hey, what do you think this does?"
Kate glanced at the button in question, and then shrugged. "No idea. By the way, listen to the ceiling."
"What?" Darcy looked up, only for one of the vents to swing open and Clint Barton to jump down from the resulting hole, another voice still cursing above. Darcy didn't understand what was being said by the ceiling vent, so she ignored it. "Oh. Arms guy. Are you here to give me back my iPod?"
Clint tilted his head, scratching the back of his head. There was a paper cup of coffee, miraculously unspilt (probably due to the lid), in his left hand. "Um... wasn't that, like, two years ago? I thought it was with the rest of the equipment that we returned to Dr. Foster."
"I couldn't find it." Darcy turned back to the machine. "Hey, do you know how to use this thing?"
"No. And I wouldn't try to use it if I were you." Clint crossed his arms, the coffee awkwardly pressing against his sleeve. "Kate, what are you doing down here?"
"Darcy invited me. She's the only one that's even near my age here." Kate pointed at him accusingly. "What about you? Why are you here?"
"JARVIS asked me to come and make sure you two didn't destroy anything." Clint answered with a sheepish grin, and then pointed at the ceiling, from which there were still large amounts of angry gibberish emanating. "I didn't come alone, either."
Kate tilted her head, asking with a somewhat knowing tone. "That's Russian, isn't it? Barnes?"
"I'm babysitting. Bucky-sitting. Keeping the reformed assassin from getting into trouble. Whatever." Clint waved the question off.
"You get into more trouble than he does." Kate pointed out, hand on one hip.
"Kate, no. Please, not you too."
"Natasha's been badgering you about what happened with the tracksuit mafia again, hasn't she?" Kate pursed her lips, hiding a smile again. "You shouldn't have tried to take them out the day you got out of the hospital."
"You're, like, nine." Clint accused. "You don't know how long it takes to get better from a hospital visit."
Darcy had wandered over to the vent, staring up at the empty space that was the opening to the vents.
"Natasha calls me whenever you get out of the hospital so that I know how long I have to keep you locked up in your apartment." Kate pointed out.
"...You're conspiring against me, aren't you?" Clint accused, pouting.
"Hey, old guy with the fake arm!" Darcy shouted at the empty vent hole. "Do you speak English?"
After a couple seconds, the answer came. "Of course. I'm from Brooklyn. Aren't you the Poli-Sci kid that works for that scientist lady that started working with Tony last week? How do you not know that? I'm actually in most history books."
"Yeah, but you had the brain-washing thing going on, so maybe you forgot English when you forgot your name!" Darcy called back.
"...Actually a possibility." Kate commented, having finished her little discussion with Clint about fighing men with bad taste in tracksuits when he was still injured or sick.
"Ha ha ha." Bucky replied, sounding very unimpressed. "Very funny."
"Why are you still up there?" Darcy asked, still staring at the vent, though she was now digging out her phone.
"Because, apparently, Stark decided to add supermagnets to the vents." Bucky grumbled. "And Feathers there forgot to tell me about it."
"So you're stuck to the wall?" Darcy was taking a picture of the vent now.
"Yes, I'm stuck to the wall." Bucky paused. "Barton, I already tried asking JARVIS to deactivate these things. I don't have clearance for this. Do you?"
"Why haven't you asked him to let me go yet?"
"...Too busy talking to Katie-Kate?"
"Barton." Bucky's growl sounded rather homicidal.
"JARVIS?" Clint reached up to scratch the back of his head again. "Uh, could you turn the magnets around Bucky off?"
"Yes, Agent Barton."
There was a clanging noise above them, likely the result of Bucky jerking away from the wall of the vent and slamming into the other wall.
"Can you maybe not try to kill him?" Kate called up at the ceiling, as Bucky's head finally came into view. "I know he's a moron, but he's kind of like a really stupid puppy, and that makes him a little too cute and pathetic to kill."
"I'm not going to kill Barton. Steve would be disappointed, and I'm not dealing with that." Bucky jumped to the floor, slightly more heavily than Clint had. "Also, getting blood out of the arm is a bitch."
"You know, for a formerly brainwashed assassin, you're pretty hot." Darcy commented, staring at Bucky as she tapped her phone against her chin.
"Have you seen Black Widow?" Kate asked, bumping her shoulder against Darcy's. "Most of the formerly brainwashed assassins I've met are sexy as hell."
"Are we including mind control under brainwashing?" Clint jumped in, the coffee held up like a hand in school, waiting to ask a question.
"Yes." Darcy answered, even as Kate let out a disgusted "Hell no."
"Wow, Kate. That hurts. Right in the heart. Ouch." Clint bumped the coffee against his chest a few times, right over the heart.
"It would be weird." Kate made a face, sticking out her tongue. "You're, like, my brother. Or uncle. Or, like, me. You're the other Hawkeye. Also, you're old as dirt and you think Brooklyn's better than Jersey."
"Bucky's twice my age-"
"Not really." Bucky commented, meandering over to take a closer look at the machine in question.
"-and I'm pretty sure he thinks Brooklyn's better too."
"More accurate." Bucky sent a nod in Clint's direction.
"You're both insane." Kate sniffed, turning her nose up at them. "Completely bonkers."
"Less insane than I was this time last year." Bucky pointed out.
"Weren't you in cryo?"
"Shut up, Barton." Bucky slugged Clint in the arm, but had apparently forgotten just how strong his metal arm was, because he punched Clint hard enough to send him stumbling, and consequently caused him to drop the coffee on the console.
"...Aw, coffee, no." Clint stared at the liquid that was now seeping into the gaps between the buttons.
Darcy was, all of a sudden, very, very alert. "Shit. Shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit. Everyone out. Seriously, now. I've seen weird stuff happen when Jane spilled coffee on her stuff, and we need to haul ass out of here."
"How fast?" Kate asked, already leaping over the table, hand landing on a few more buttons, none of which she actually expected to do anything.
"Like, now fast." Darcy was already at the door, and Clint was pushing her out and pulling Kate along. The three of them made it out in time.
Then the explosion happened.
A/N: Please keep in mind that this story is mostly inspired by some cosplay shenanigans that happened at NYCC. So yes, this will mostly be crack.