I know I probably shouldn't be taking on another Avengers story, but I've had this idea in my head for a really long time, and you know plot bunnies-they just won't leave you alone until you give them what they want. :)
So, this is basically a series of oneshots that take place in the Barton household (with Pietro, Wanda, and maybe some other Avengers). There's probably going to be an ongoing storyline at some point, but I have a few unconnected things that I'll put out first. This story is also a sequel of sorts to one of my other Avengers stories, Twelve Days. While it's not imperative that you read that, it might help the story make a little more sense.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Avengers.
I'd just like to wish anyone who has finals in the next couple of weeks good luck. I had mine a little while ago and I know how stressful they can be. Study hard; you'll do great.
That's my little spiel. Sorry it's a little longer than normal. Now onto the story…
The Quinjet came to a landing in a swirl of jet engines and rustling of trees. It was a sunny morning at the beginning of summer, and Pietro Maximoff couldn't be happier. In a way, he was coming home. Well, technically the Barton farm wasn't his real home, but he liked to pretend. He certainly felt more relaxed here than he did almost anywhere else-except for maybe the Avengers base. But it was nice to take a break every once in a while-and he thought a break was certainly warranted.
His twin sister, Wanda, tossed him his backpack. They'd gone shopping the day before and he'd gotten to pick his out-it was green and black, with plenty of deep pockets. He powered down his iPad and made sure it was safely stowed. The iPad had been a gift from Tony; a welcome-to-the-team present of sorts. Wanda had one too, though hers was red rather than white. "Let's go. Clint is waiting for us out back." she said. Pietro still thought it was amazing how far she'd come in just a few short weeks. Three weeks ago she'd been in the hospital, near death-and now it was like that nightmare hadn't even happened.
"Coming, coming. I'll meet you there." He glanced down at the steep jet way that led from the plane's cargo hold to the soft grass of the farm. "Be careful, all right?"
She rolled her eyes at him. "The doctors said I'm fine, Pietro."
"Yes, but they told you to watch yourself for at least another few weeks. "
"You worry too much."
"Only when I need to."
She headed down the ramp, but Pietro could see that she was smiling.
Outside, the sun had just risen. The farm was covered in a thin layer of dew and smelled like freshly mown grass. Soft yellow sunlight gave everything a golden tinge, like something out of one of the fairy tales his mother used to read to him when he was a small child. Things almost seemed…magical this early in the morning. It seemed like nothing had changed. Everything was exactly how it had been the last time he'd been here, three weeks ago. The house and barn were in the same place, the fields were still lush and green, and he could even see the same bales of hay piled in the silo.
"Admiring the view?" Clint asked as he handed Pietro his suitcase-also new.
"Yes. It's beautiful. You must love it here."
"I do. The farm is great year round-but especially in early summer, where everything is coming to life. Lila found a bird nest under the eaves. She's ecstatic-now she can watch the baby birds as long as she doesn't get too close."
Pietro laughed. "What kind of birds are they?"
"Robins. They just hatched a few days ago. We kept a few of the eggshells. They're sky blue; Nathaniel loves playing with them. Speaking of which..." He waved Wanda over from where she'd been examining a rusted weather vane. "I may have forgotten to mention to my family that you were coming. I thought you'd want to surprise them. Laura knows, of course, but the kids have been kept in the dark."
"So we're going to surprise them?"
"Yes. I hope you don't mind. They're going to be so excited to see you."
"I think I can handle that. What about you, Wanda?"
"Of course." she replied, sending the weather vane spinning with a light touch. "I'm assuming you have a plan?"
Clint nodded. "I'll go in first and then call in the two of you. Wait for my signal, okay?" He started to walk across the worn gravel path that led to the small farmhouse. It looked incredibly tiny from this far away; it was impossible to think that it could host nine people if need be.
After a while, the twins followed him. They passed a trellis filled with sprawling clematis blooms and Pietro carefully cut one away using his Swiss army knife. He carefully placed it in Wanda's hair; the purple flower provided a nice contrast to her brown locks. "How's that?"
She touched it absentmindedly. "It's beautiful. Thank you. I think I'll take a few more for Lila. Maybe I can make her a crown…" She rummaged around in her bag until she found a needle and thread. She began to stitch as they went along, concentrating wholly on her project. Pietro worried her own flower would fall out, but it seemed to be holding its own.
Clint stopped at the low fence that surrounded the house and waited for them impatiently. "Come on, guys. What's taking so long?"
"Wanda is making a flower crown for Lila." Pietro replied.
"Well, you don't need to walk that slowly. Come on, Pietro. You have super speed for heaven's sake!"
"Almost finished…" Wanda tied off the last flower with a bit of string and admired her handiwork. "It's a little lopsided, don't you think?"
"Lila will love it." Clint said confidently. "Okay. I'm going to go see if they're up yet. Stay out here until I call you in." With that, he went inside and shut the door behind him.
Sound still drifted out from inside the house. The twins could hear Clint say "Hey guys. I'm home!" followed by running feet on the stairs and the happy yells of excited children.
"Dad, can you help me make a birdhouse today?" Cooper asked. "We can move the baby birds in there once they get big enough."
"Can you have a tea party with me?" Lila cut in. "Mommy says she has a PTA meeting and she can't play with me."
"Of course honey, but why can't you play with Nathaniel?" Clint said.
"He's too little. All he does is sleep, eat, and get his diaper changed."
"Those are all very valid points, but I think I know someone else who might want to have a tea party with you even more than I do." Clint glanced outside. "So, you know how I told you Pietro and Wanda were going back to New York for a while to go to Avengers training?"
Lila nodded. "You said they might come back for my birthday. They can come, right Daddy?"
"Well, I talked to Director Nick Fury about it. We discussed what would be best for the twins and seeing as Wanda is still recovering and probably won't be able to go to training for a few weeks…Pietro, Wanda, do you want to come inside?"
The reaction the twins' arrival got was seismic. Both kids started talking at once and Lila immediately ran to hug Wanda. "My birthday isn't for two months yet!"
"Well, consider this your early birthday present." Wanda handed her the flower crown carefully. "I made this on the walk over here. Do you like it?"
Lila was holding it almost reverently, like it was made out of gold. "It's like a princess crown! I love it! Thank you so much!"
"So, I heard you saying something about wanting to build a bird house." Pietro said, turning to Cooper.
Cooper beamed. "Do you know how to build one?"
"…Not exactly. But I'm sure I can figure it out. Anyway, I can always handle the power saw if you need me to."
"Probably a good idea." Clint said. "I'm not sure I trust Cooper with the heavy machinery."
"Dad!" Cooper protested.
Just then, Laura came downstairs wearing a bathrobe and holding Nathaniel, whose face was still red as if he'd just been crying. "Hi Clint. How was the trip over?"
"Not too bad. A little bumpy, but I didn't need to throw up." Clint gestured to the other new arrivals. "The others are here."
Laura beamed. "It's lovely to see the two of you again-both alive and well, I trust?"
Pietro nodded. They were in one piece and alive for the first time in a long while. "How have things been on the farm?"
"About the same. The kids helped me plant a vegetable garden."
Lila nodded vigorously. "We planted watermelon. That's my favorite fruit."
"Mine too." Wanda said. There hadn't been enough of it in Sokovia.
Lila grasped her hand and practically pulled her upstairs. "Do you want to see my new Barbie dolls? I got them from my friend, Shanna-she lives on the next farm over…"
Laura yawned and handed Nathaniel to Clint. "He needs a diaper change. How about you handle that while I make the pancakes."
"I suppose that's only fair. Come on, Pietro-I have a surprise for you too." Clint led Pietro and Cooper, who had decided to tag along, into what had once been the dining room. Now it was divided into two separate rooms-a living room with a couch, a few chairs, and a TV; and a small sun porch that had been converted into a spare bedroom-with an actual bed. "I've been meaning to get around to this. Of course, you can always share with Cooper if you want to, but I figured you might want your own place."
"I love it." Pietro said, throwing his backpack onto the bed. The room was small, with a nightstand, a few shelves that were mostly bare, a chest of drawers, and of course the bed; but it felt very cozy and he really enjoyed it.
Clint eyed his suitcase, which it looked like Pietro was preparing to kick into a corner. "You know, Laura is kind of a stickler about cleanliness. It's probably in your best interest to keep the place clean-you know, clothes folded in drawers and that sort of thing."
Pietro smirked and put the suitcase next to his bed so he would remember to unpack after breakfast. "Fine, fine. I can keep the room clean."
"Really? Have you seen your room back at the Tower?"
"Shut up, old man."
"Come on. I thought we'd moved past that."
"We'll never move past that."
Just then, Laura called everyone back to the kitchen for breakfast-except for Clint, who still hadn't changed Nathaniel. Cooper led the way back to the table, beside himself with laughter.
Breakfasts at the Barton household reminded Wanda a lot of breakfasts at Avengers Tower. Everyone talked over each other, the food was doled out based on a first come-first serve basis, and there was plenty of coffee. However, the Bartons had better table manners.
Nathaniel sat in his high chair at one end of the table, laughing as he banged his spoon in his mashed carrots. A few pieces of flying carrots fell on Wanda's shirt, but she laughed as she wiped it up.
"Sorry about that." Laura said, trying to catch Nathaniel's attention. "Nathaniel, we've been over this. We don't bang our silverware like that."
Nathaniel didn't seem to be paying attention. Laura sighed. "You're just like your father."
Clint looked up from a conversation at the other end of the table, where he'd been having a discussion with Cooper and Pietro about baseball. Pietro had never followed baseball in Sokovia; in fact, he still wasn't sure how the game was actually played. Currently, Clint was trying to explain what an inning was. "What, honey?"
She laughed. "Never mind." Nathaniel was banging his spoon again and more carrots splattered onto Wanda's shirt. "I'm so sorry about that."
"Don't worry about it. I never really liked this shirt anyway." Wanda examined it carefully. The little bits of baby food had started to stain. "But I think I'll change it just to be sure."
"There's a laundry basket at the top of the stairs. Just toss it in there. I hope you don't need it back right away. In our house laundry never seems to get done in a timely manner."
"Don't worry. When I lived in Sokovia, we only got to wash our clothes if and when we had the money to go to a Laundromat. Other than that we had to wash in the river-and river water always ends up smelling just a little bit like fish."
"Rest assured that we don't use river water here-although sometimes I wonder if anyone would be able to tell the difference."
Wanda was smiling as she went upstairs to the spare bedroom. She'd stayed in it the last time she was in the Barton house, and it really hadn't changed much-except for a picture on the windowsill that hadn't been there before. There were a few family photos-one of the family at one of Cooper's soccer games-Cooper was holding a trophy that was bigger than he was-a picture of Lila's dance recital, and a picture of the family somewhere that looked suspiciously like Hawaii. And finally, next to all those pictures was a picture taken the last time the twins had been at the farm. Pietro was holding Nathaniel as he watched a movie with Cooper and Wanda was reading a book to Lila. On a small piece of stationary underneath the frame, the words Welcome Back had been written in Laura's careful and precise penmanship. Wanda couldn't help feeling touched.
She pulled open the window and leaned outside, into the morning air. It was still quite early; about 8:15, but the world outside was clearly alive. Birds sang in their nests and a light wind rustled through the fields. Once again, Wanda was struck by the feeling that this would be a lovely place to grow up-being able to roam those fields at will, play hide and seek in the haylofts, make daisy chains, go swimming in the swimming hole just out of sight behind a grove of trees, and play in the treehouse Clint had built for the kids to use. It was three rooms and quite clean-especially for a treehouse. Lila had already made plans to have a sleepover inside of it one day.
Most importantly, this was a place where a family could be together. This was a place where you could feel cared for.
This was a place that felt like home.
Just then, there was a soft knock on the door and Pietro came inside. "How long does it take you to change a shirt? Lila has been asking about you."
"I was just…looking outside. Isn't this a beautiful place?"
Pietro nodded. "I love it here. It feels almost like-"
"Our home. In Sokovia. I was just thinking that."
"Yes. I suppose it does. This is going to be a great week, don't you think?"
"It definitely will."
"I'll race you downstairs!"
"Pietro that's not fair in any sense of the-" And he's gone.
Wanda had time to think a little bit more as she made her way downstairs. By now Pietro had probably eaten the rest of her breakfast; she would have to find a way to get him back…maybe by putting some temporary hair dye in his shampoo bottle. He would hate that…
Whatever prank she eventually decided to pull, she knew that this was going to be a great week.
Maybe even the best of her life.
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