A/N: This is an AU fic, so, you know, no one's dead! YAY! I'm headcanoning that Lila's around 6 and Cooper is 11, and the Maximoffs are 20.
Where the Heart Is
"It'll be temporary."
"Mhmm, that's what you said about the dog."
Clint glanced over at Lucky, their golden retriever who had been a mainstay in their family for the past three years. The dog cocked his head as if catching the line of their conversation and then went back to gnawing on his pizza-shaped squeaky toy.
Okay, so Laura had a point.
"That's different," he said, pointing the carrot he was peeling at her, "They just need somewhere to stay for a little while. A month or so. Two, tops."
She dumped a bowl of potato slices into the big metal pot on the stove. "It's not that I don't want them here, it's—you don't know them that well yet." She plucked the carrot out of his hand and started dicing it on the cutting board. "And then there are their powers, and the kids…"
"I know, I know." He was asking a lot from her, but he needed her to say yes. The Maximoffs didn't really have anywhere else to go besides the Avengers Tower, and that wasn't exactly homey. Or secure, at least not anymore. If he could, he wanted to help them see that the world wasn't just war and oppression and moving from one screwed up situation to another. They deserved a break.
Stepping toward her, Clint wrapped his arms around Laura, above the baby bump, and gave her a quick squeeze. "I owe them. I wouldn't be here without them."
He felt her tense and then relax before leaning back against him, letting go of the knife and the carrot so she could hold on to his arms. They were both quiet for a moment, and he rested his chin on the top of her head.
She finally turned around and looked up at him. "If we did this, there would have to be rules about using superpowers in the house."
"That's fine, they'll be okay with that." Or he hoped they would be. Yeah, they would adjust. They both seemed pretty good at adapting.
"And if something goes wrong—"
"It won't," Clint said with more certainty than he felt, "It won't, they're good kids, I promise. They've just been through a lot." He ran his hands up and down her arms and smirked. "And think about it, the kids will never be late for school again, Pietro can just piggyback them there in the morning. And Wanda can lift hay bales with her mind. It's a win-win."
"Dork." Laura shoved his shoulder affectionately and rolled her eyes. "Where are we going to put them? We only have the one guest room now." The other was slowly filling up with stuff for Nathaniel.
"I was thinking that Wanda could take the guest bedroom, and I'll set up a cot somewhere for Pietro."
"Or he can sleep in the top bunk in my bedroom." Cooper stepped into the room, looking excited at the possibility of sharing his room with a potential Avenger and not at all ashamed to be eavesdropping. "Or the bottom bunk, I don't care. Can he?"
"Hey, you're supposed to be doing homework," Laura said, though she couldn't keep the smile from tugging at the corner of her mouth. "Not practicing spy skills."
"I wasn't, I was…" He opened a cabinet and grabbed a stack of bowls. "Coming to set the table."
"Except dinner's not for a few hours," Clint said, lifting an eyebrow.
Cooper grinned. "I'm getting a head start." He put the bowls down on the counter and looked from Clint to Laura and back again. "So. Could he?"
"I don't think your bunk is big enough for him," Clint said, grabbing another carrot to peel, "He's sort of on the tall side."
"Then the cot can go in my room."
Clint and Laura glanced at each other, both amused by how adamant he was. Apparently it wasn't going to be too difficult for Cooper to adjust to the idea of two new people in the house.
"We'll talk about it," Clint said, which earned him a bright smile. "Now go finish your homework so we can go work in the barn before dinner."
That got him an even bigger smile before Cooper dashed back into the living room, probably planning to rush through his homework so there would be extra time for working on their father-son pet project: a pair of go-karts that had four-wheel drive for mudding.
"So that's one kid in favor," Clint said, "Want to ask the other one?"
"Go for it," Laura said, taking the second freshly peeled carrot as he handed it to her.
Nodding to her, he headed out the door and onto the back porch, where Lila had what looked like half of her art supplies spread out. She was coloring with some pastels, but she had been painting earlier, and there were smears of color on her hands and face. When she looked up at him, he had to keep himself from laughing at the bright smear of purple across her nose and cheek.
"Hey, beauty," he said, sitting down on the porch beside her and looking at the papers she had already finished, "I like this one a lot." He touched one that was mostly green with a few big splashes of purple and grey.
"It's the flowers," she said, pointing to the big bush of purple blossoms beside the porch steps. She scooted over so that she was right beside him, their elbows touching. "They're pretty."
Lila grinned. "That's why they're pretty."
"Oh, of course." It was her second favorite color, after all, right after yellow. He picked up a pastel and swiped it across a blank sheet of paper. "Hey, Li? What would you think if a couple of my friends came to stay with us for a little while?"
She shrugged and leaned over to color on the page with him, adding her yellow pastel to his blue. "Like Mr. Steve or Mr. Bruce?"
"No, actually, they're new friends," he said, "Remember when I talked about Wanda and Pietro?" He hadn't told the kids all the details, but he had mentioned making a couple friends while he had been gone.
"Yep." She dutifully doodled a circle and then a few squiggles. "From Sobonokia."
"Close! It's Sokovia," Clint said, drawing a line beside her squiggles, "But they don't have a home anymore, so they need somewhere to live until they find their feet."
Her pastel paused on the paper. "They lost their feet?" Her eyes were suddenly wide, as if afraid that her own feet were going to run off on their own at any second, and this time he did laugh.
"Nope, that's just a saying, you monkey," he said, reaching over to tickle her, making her twitch and giggle, "It means they need some help getting a home and some other stuff. They might come and stay here with us for a few months."
"Do they like Finding Nemo?"
"I actually forgot to ask," he said, "But I will next time I talk to them."
"What about mac and cheese?"
"Um…I don't actually know if they've ever had it."
Lila's mouth fell open. "What? Nuh-uh!"
"Yes-huh. Mac and cheese isn't everyone's favorite food." Clint reached over and tapped her chin. "Hey, if they come live with us, you can feed them mac and cheese and see how they like it."
"They will, it's awesome," she said.
"I'm going to put you down as a yes," he said, adding a final dash with his blue pastel before handing it to her. Tilting his head to the side, he looked down at the picture they had been working on. "Sort of looks like a boat."
"Or a pirate ship," she said. Snatching up a brown crayon, she started to color in one of the shapes.
Leaving her to finish up the picture, Clint went back inside. The thick, delicious smell of beef stew was beginning to fill the room, making him look forward to dinner even though it was still a couple hours away. He leaned against the doorframe for a moment and just watched Laura as she bobbed to the music from the iPod speakers in the corner, dancing a little to a Disney soundtrack.
"What?" she said after a minute or so, flashing a small smile at him, "Tarzan has the best soundtrack, it's a fact."
"Lies. Everyone knows that The Little Mermaid has the best," he said as he walked over to her. "Haven't you heard Lila sing the ah-ah-ahhh song enough to know that?"
"Speaking of, what'd she say?" Laura raised a curious eyebrow.
"She's on board if we promise to feed them only macaroni and cheese and force them to watch Finding Nemo on a loop. Keep on swimming or else."
"I thought we were going to put them up for a while, not torture them," Laura teased.
"Apparently Li has other plans," he said and reached for Laura's hand. He ran his thumb over her knuckles and met her eyes. "You swear you're all right with this?"
"I swear," she said, "And I actually just got off the phone with Nat about it."
"Really?" Clint said, stepping back, surprised, "Already?"
"Well, see, we have this giant pot of stew," Laura said, waving a hand at it, "So I thought we should just go ahead and have Nat bring them here." She smirked. "Less leftovers to put away, you know?"
It was basically instinctual to kiss her after that.