Hunt For A Memory
Title: Hunt for a Memory
Disclaimer: We don't own anything belonging to MARVEL and we're not making any money from this fic
Summary: 44th in the Redeeming Grant series. Even the simplest of plans don't always go as expected.
Authors: Hope1iz and BlackFox12
Warning(s): Spanking; spoilers for various MARVEL movies and television programs.
It had taken a while, but Blake had finally figured out where he recognised Bakshi from. He'd spent most of the night looking for traces of the man who'd attended the police academy with him... but Sunil Bakshi had dropped off the proverbial grid. Presumably, HYDRA had had a hand in removing all trace of him; but Blake wondered if taking him to a familiar area might trigger a memory.
Having asked the AI where Bakshi was, Blake found the man in the common living area, finishing off watching a movie with his younger cousin, Pietro. For a change, there was no sign of Wanda.
Bakshi glanced up as he became aware of Blake hovering in the doorway and he waved him over as the end credits began scrolling. "You need something?"
"I think I can fill in some of the blanks in your memory." Blake stepped further into the room, lowering his voice... but just enough that he hoped he wouldn't arouse Veronica's suspicions, having heard firsthand what measures the AI took to protect members of the family.
Bakshi blinked and focused more fully on Blake. A look of longing came over his face... longing to actually discover his own identity; where he'd come from, for all he had a father and a brother now. "You knew me before?"
"It was bound to happen sooner or later," Pietro commented, finishing off the last of his popcorn. "If you're going somewhere, I'll come too. I could do with getting out of here for a bit... get some fresh air. Stretch my legs."
Grant had wandered into the common living area, looking for someone who might be interested in sparring with him, but he'd caught the last part of the conversation; namely Bakshi's question and Pietro's declaration of intent to go with them. He narrowed his eyes slightly, glancing at his nephew. "Where are we going?" he asked, just as softly as the others, some sense telling him that they were trying to keep Veronica from hearing (although how they truly thought the AI wouldn't be able to enhance the sound to figure it out, he wasn't sure).
Bakshi glanced at Grant, but his body posture was relaxed rather than tense. He wasn't scared or nervous around Grant or Bobbi... possibly only if his cousin was going to talk them out of it; but Grant's wording implied he wouldn't. "Blake knew me from before I lost my memory."
"We were at the same police academy," Blake said. "I thought familiar surroundings might help trigger some memories."
"That would be great, if it worked. When do you want to go?" Grant didn't even bother saying he was coming too; he figured his show of interest would indicate he wanted to go- and there was no way he was letting his nephew and cousins go off without him. Blake and Bakshi were still recovering (even if they'd been given a clean bill of health, they were still under instructions to not 'overdo' it when it came to exercising) and Pietro was a bit too cocky for Grant's liking, the younger man's speed ability having convinced him that nothing could touch him.
"I figured as soon as possible would be best." It hadn't yet occurred to Blake that he should let his father know where he was going... and even though Fisk was still out there, he figured they'd be safe enough going to the academy. He glanced at his cousins. "Unless you'd prefer to wait a while?"
Bakshi shook his head. "I want answers..."
"And like I said... fresh air." Pietro shrugged. He figured that, if they did run into any trouble, he could at least get out of the area fast with at least one of the others.
"The police academy is the only place we're going?" Grant asked to be sure. He didn't figure a place like that should be dangerous, so no need to request back-up to be on standby. Sadly, it didn't occur to him that common courtesy would dictate he let at least one family member know where they were going so that if they were needed, people would know where to look (and his father's express wishes would dictate he tell Coulson what they were doing).
Blake nodded. "If we don't have any luck there... I thought we could see about accessing your records," he added to Bakshi. "There shouldn't be any problems getting them released." Not unless the academy had something to hide.
"If they do have a problem with it, we can have Skye or Tony look into it later..." Grant said off-handedly.
"Sounds good to me," Blake said. "I figure we can take my car... it'll have enough room for us all."
"Great." Bakshi stood up.
"Lead the way..." Grant motioned forward with a smile.
Pietro stood, but waited for his cousins and uncle to head out the door before he exited behind them.
Blake wandered over to the elevator and stepped inside, waiting for the others to join him before he set it to go to the garage.
"So...are we going to question people at the academy? Just ask for records? Just go from building to building until maybe something jogs your memory?" Grant glanced at Bakshi and gave a crooked smile. Bakshi may not hold any ill feelings toward him because of what he and Bobbi had done, but Grant still felt a great deal of guilt about what he'd done. It made encounters with his cousin awkward.
"I guess maybe we'll look first." Bakshi glanced at Blake for confirmation.
Blake nodded. "I should be able to get us in to look around, at least." He wasn't sure his influence would buy them much else. No matter his reasons... he was still a dirty cop. He forced a smile as the elevator stopped and he stepped out into the garage, heading towards his car.
Grant wrinkled his nose. "Here's hoping they never saw me on television a few years ago; or if they did, they realize I'm working with the good guys now..." he muttered, as he quickly followed Blake.
"Believe me, I'm probably in the same boat as you." Blake's reply was wry as he got into the car.
Bakshi took the front passenger seat, while Pietro sat in the back.
"Maybe...how much do you know of my history?" Grant asked Blake wryly, as he got into the car next to his nephew.
"Bits and pieces. Enough to know you were on the wrong side of the fence. Now you're not." Blake waited for all of them to put their seatbelts on before he started driving.
Pietro snorted softly... though it wasn't really out of humour. "That's probably too simple a way of putting it," he said, remembering how he and his sister had started out on the wrong side.
Grant smiled at his nephew, knowing Pietro had his own skeletons that liked to claw at him. "I think you'll find that being a crooked policeman because you were trying to keep your brother safe is mild compared to some of the things you could have done," he finally commented.
"It's not going to matter to a lot of people," Blake said. "All they'll see is that I was dirty. I think... I'm sure I can get us in to look around. And there won't be problems with Bakshi talking to people. But if we need records, chances are good we'll have to rely on outside influences."
Bakshi didn't say anything... even though he was reluctant to rely too much on the family members. It wasn't that he didn't trust them; he just wanted to be able to be self-sufficient.
"Well, I guess we'll see when we get there. It might not even be an issue..." Grant said agreeably.
"That would be a help," Bakshi commented.
Blake nodded and drove to the police academy, parking in the visitors' car park before he undid his seatbelt and got out, waiting for the others to join him.
Grant had got out quickly, but waited until Pietro and Bakshi were following Blake before he moved to walk behind them, his eyes darting everywhere, making sure there weren't any dangers or potential enemies readying themselves to attack. He, Pietro and Bakshi had to worry about Hydra, after all; and Blake still needed to worry about Fisk. He followed at a sedate pace as he watched, not missing anything going on around them, or with them.
Blake kept close to the others as he walked, also on his guard, just in case anyone tried anything... though he hoped none of their enemies would be so brazen as to attack them at the police academy.
After talking to the receptionist, Blake was able to obtain permission for them to look around and visitor passes for each of them. Even though there was obvious suspicion, their connection with the Avengers opened doors that might otherwise have been closed to them.
Grant just followed along quietly, keeping his eye on everything around them...and on Bakshi. He was hoping the other man might have a moment where something would seem familiar and would jog his memory. At the same time, even if they were at a police academy, he'd been an agent long enough to know that no place was safe from infiltration. His own recruitment had taken place before he went to SHIELD academy, after all. There was nothing to say that one of the cadets here wasn't in the same situation as he was, pretending to be loyal to those they trained with, but harboring a secret identity.
Pietro stuck with the three older men, but he quickly became bored at what he saw was a snail's pace. "I'm going to go look ahead." He didn't wait for a response and zoomed off at a blur.
"No, wa..." Grant blinked as his nephew was there one second and gone the next. "...it," he finished lamely.
Blake frowned, concern passing over his face as his young cousin disappeared. He scanned up and down the hallway, searching in vain for a sign of Pietro, and then looked at Bakshi. "Anything?"
The other man shook his head, having been momentarily distracted by Pietro's disappearing act. "Nothing yet." He tried to sound hopeful, but didn't really succeed.
"It might just take a while to connect." Grant tried to be helpful. "If you give it some time, maybe tonight when you're relaxing, one of the places or faces will pop back into your memory and suddenly you'll make the connection..." He was trying to be helpful, but his nephew's disappearance obviously had him worried.
Bakshi nodded. "I guess there are other things we can try if just being around here doesn't work."
Blake's worry had also skyrocheted, no matter that Pietro was fast enough to outrun most things. He didn't put voice to that... but he was still looking around, in case there was anything going on he might have missed.
"Where could he have disappeared to?" Grant mumbled to himself, somewhat irritably, due to his increasing worry over Pietro. It was moments like these, he knew exactly why his father turned them over his knee if they just took off without a word as to where they were going or what they were doing. It was downright worrisome, if not terrifying, not knowing if someone you loved was in danger, or just out of contact. He winced as he realized that's pretty much what the four of them had done, coming to the police academy. "Did either of you happen to clear this with your fathers before we came here?" he asked hesitantly, since he knew he and Pietro hadn't cleared it with Coulson or Clint.
"...No..." Bakshi admitted, somewhat sheepishly.
"It didn't even occur to me." Blake's voice was just as sheepish.
"Damn...Pietro and I didn't, either. I can pretty much guarantee none of us are going to be able to sit still tomorrow..." His tone was rueful.
"Do you think we'll get brownie points if we get Pietro and go straight back?" Bakshi had actually managed to keep himself out of trouble so far... but he knew how the family dealt with things. His own father had explained it even before Veronica had broadcast her conversation with Bobbi.
"We have to find him first," Blake muttered. "But maybe one of us should call...?" He was reasonably certain their fathers would know they had gone... but he held out a slim hope that they hadn't realised yet.
"I can't tell my father I lost his grandson..." Grant couldn't help the slight whine in his voice. "One of you call! I'm pretty sure they've figured out we've left by now anyway; and I can't keep a secret from my dad worth shit...so even if they hadn't figured it out, I'd end up spilling within a few hours of our return anyway. May as well fess up now and hope for leniency." He gave the other two his own sheepish look.
Blake looked at his cousins and sighed. "It was my idea. I'll call in." He took out his cell phone and dialed his father's number.
Bakshi looked worried, but he started wandering in the direction Pietro had disappeared in, keeping his steps slow to allow his cousins to keep up, while looking for any sign of his younger cousin.
Grant followed Bakshi, looking for his own indication of where Pietro had gone. "Sorry this trip hasn't been much help for you..." he said softly to Bakshi. "It was a good idea and I'd really hoped it would work for you."
"It was a good idea," Bakshi replied. "And worth at least trying out... though I'm sorry it looks like we're all going to be in trouble."
"We all knew we were wrong to just take off." Grant smiled crookedly. "No reason for you to be sorry about us..."
"I don't think I'm used to having someone who needs to know if I just take off..." Though, really, Bakshi didn't know anything about his past.
Ben answered his phone fairly quickly. He was going over evidence that he had dug up on Fisk with Nick. "What's up, son?"
Although his cousin kept his voice low, Blake still cringed at the reminder... more so since it seemed his father didn't know they'd gone; and therefore, the others likely didn't, either. "So... um... I had a bright idea. Except I implemented it without talking to you first." His tone was apologetic.
Ben raised an eyebrow at the tone in his son's voice as well as the words. "Just what plan did you implement?" His tone was serious and firm, although he managed to keep it calm and non-accusatory. "And did you implement it alone?" He glanced at Nick, to see if he had any idea what he was talking about. If Blake had told one of the directors, then he wouldn't need to worry so much. It didn't sound as if that was the case, but still, he could hope.
"I recognised Bakshi from the police academy and I suggested we come here in case it might trigger some memories," Blake replied. "Umm... Grant and Pietro came along, too, but none of us thought to clear it with any of you..." His own tone was apologetic.
"I see." Ben managed to keep his voice at the same calm level, but the look on his face was anything but calm. "Are you able to come home right now?" he asked seriously, as he grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down, 'Phil, Bucky and Clint?' on it before showing it to Fury.
Fury gave a single nod to show Ben he understood, before requesting that Veronica pass on the message to the other three parents involved, asking them to meet him and Ben in his office.
Blake was quiet for a second or two before saying softly, "We've got to find Pietro... he took off at top speed before any of us could stop him."
"What's up, Uncle Nick?" Clint asked, as he walked into the office. He glanced over his shoulder as Bucky came in behind him.
Bucky nodded at his nephew, then at his brother. "I suspect our answer lies with Ben..." He smiled at his newest 'brother'.
Ben smiled crookedly to acknowledge the other two, but was focused on his son's words. "As soon as you find him, call me back immediately. We'll come meet you and help you look."
"Yes, sir," Blake replied automatically.
Coulson had walked into the office with his son and he looked at the others with concern. "What's happened?" He didn't think it could be anything good, judging by Ben's final comment on the phone.
"Be careful, son..." Ben said, before hanging up and facing the other men. "Pietro, Grant, Blake and Bakshi went to the police academy to see if it would jog Bakshi's memory any...Blake remembered him being there at the same time he was. Apparently, they all realized none of them had informed any of us of their plans at the same time, so Blake called me. Not before Pietro ran off, unfortunately."
Clint got a worried look on his face. "Pietro isn't with them?"
"Not at the moment..." Ben said quietly.
Coulson placed his hand on Clint's shoulder and squeezed gently. "Pietro probably got restless and bored," he tried to reassure his son, even though his own worry was palatable. "Maybe we can drive out to meet them," he suggested, looking at his brothers.
"I'll hold down the fort here," Fury suggested.
"Let's go, then..." Clint said, trying to keep his worry in check. "I know a police academy should be safe, but with all the enemies we have...I don't like that Pietro ran off..." he admitted.
"I'll drive." Ben nodded at Fury in response to his words then walked to the elevator, not surprised when the others followed. Soon, they had reached the garage, piled into the car and were on their way.
This was... embarrassing.
Pietro winced as he tested his arm. He was fairly sure it wasn't broken... it was just pure bad luck that he'd happened to swerve to the side to avoid plowing into the janitor's cart and wound up bouncing hard off the wall. He was normally much more careful than this.
Bakshi rounded the corner and spotted Pietro. He quickly jogged over to his cousin. "You're hurt? Let me see your arm."
Blake rounded the corner seconds later, pausing as he saw Bakshi carefully rotating Pietro's arm... examining it in much the same way Bruce or Jemma did when one of them was injured.
Grant had gone in the opposite direction to look for his nephew, so didn't realize that he had been found yet.
"Damn it, Pietro! Where'd you run off to?" Grant was becoming a bit more than worried the longer his nephew stayed missing. What if HYDRA had followed them to the academy and waited till the younger man had separated from the group and grabbed him?
Ben parked the car and, not willing to just start wandering around the entire campus with no direction, called Blake.
Clint stood anxiously by, worried that they might not have found his son yet.
Blake answered his phone almost immediately. "I'm with Bakshi and Pietro," he reported. "Grant went in the opposite direction... I'm about to call him and let him know." He gave his father directions to where they were, adding, "Pietro hurt his arm... I figure Bakshi has medical training that kicked in, since he's examining it..."
"I think it's just bruised," Bakshi said, overhearing. "But maybe one of the others should check too, just in case."
Blake nodded and relayed that to his father.
"I'll inform Bruce to be ready to look at it when we return home," Ben reassured his son. "Don't leave where you are now...we're heading your direction." Hanging up, he turned toward the other three men. "They're calling Grant to have him meet up with them; they found Pietro, but Grant went in the opposite direction to look for him, so isn't with the three of them currently. Pietro somehow managed to hurt his arm- they didn't go into detail how, but they didn't seem overly worried, so I don't think he was attacked..." he added, for Clint's benefit.
Clint only marginally relaxed at hearing that Pietro had been found and it hadn't been an attack to hurt his son. Pietro normally didn't get hurt, so he was still worried.
Bucky raised an eyebrow. "So he knows he has medical training now? Maybe some other things will start returning to him now..." While he wasn't terribly happy about his son just taking off without word, he was happy for the younger man that the trip might have proven at least a little useful.
Coulson nodded. "Even if it was just a reflex... his body doing something familiar to it... I'd think it's still a good sign." He began walking, having waited long enough for Ben to let him know the direction to go in, though he kept his steps slow enough to walk with his son and brothers.
It didn't take Ben and the rest of the group long to reach Bakshi, Blake and Pietro. Grant was still nowhere to be seen.
Clint walked over to his son. "Hey, kid...how'd you get hurt?" he asked sympathetically, even as he checked for himself that Bakshi's medical training had been sufficient to help.
Bucky walked over to Bakshi and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently. "So something came back to you, even if it isn't in the form of a memory..." He smiled, relieved that his son seemed to be in good shape.
Ben walked over to Blake and patted him on the back. "Glad you came to your senses and called...even if you should have let us know before you took off. Have you told Grant yet that you found Pietro?" He glanced around, wondering why the other man wasn't with the group yet.
Blake frowned. "I tried calling him... I don't know if he heard the phone ringing, or was maybe distracted..." He tried dialing his cousin again.
"I bounced off the wall..." Pietro admitted sheepishly. "I didn't want to collide with the janitor's cart, but I took the corner too sharply."
Bakshi nodded, stepping closer to his father. "It was like muscle memory, I think." There was a hopeful note in his voice.
Coulson's worry was obvious as he looked around, stepping over to Ben and Blake and preparing to try calling Grant himself if Blake couldn't get through.
Clint managed not to smile at his son's description of what had occurred. The fact Pietro had been hurt was enough of a concern that he was able to easily keep a straight face. "We'll have Bruce double check to make sure you're okay when we get home. But that sounds like a really good reason not to go speeding around unless it's absolutely necessary," he said blandly...sounding so much like Coulson at that moment that he blinked and gave his own father a sheepish look.
"Muscle memory is as good as the other type..." Bucky commented. "We now know you were trained to take care of medical emergencies, at least to some degree. It gives us another aspect to investigate." He wrapped his arm around Bakshi's shoulders.
Ben wrapped his own arm around Blake's shoulders, waiting to see if Grant answered his son's call. He gave Coulson a sympathetic look.
Grant frowned at the captain sitting across the desk from him. "If you won't allow me to answer my phone, could you please answer it yourself? If they can't reach me, they're going to assume the worst and I'd rather not worry them if I can avoid it..." He sighed in resignation. He'd been stopped by a couple of the instructors at the academy; they had recognized him from the time when HYDRA had broken him out of the prison over a year before and his face had been plastered on the news. Unfortunately, even though Tony's lawyers had managed to obtain probationary status for him with his father gaining guardianship over him... the information hadn't made it to every law enforcement agency; and the fact he had been by himself and not with anyone else from the family who could vouch for him hadn't helped. They thought he was still a wanted man. He now sat in handcuffs across from the man in charge of the police academy. He could have easily escaped the handcuffs by dislocating his thumbs, but he was hoping that the man would listen to his explanations and at least call his father for confirmation before attempting to send him to a high security lock-up.
The captain looked at Grant suspiciously then looked down at the phone that was ringing. Finally, he picked it up and hit the green box to answer. "Who am I speaking with?" he answered brusquely.
Surprised by the question (and reasonably certain that naming himself wasn't going to help any kind of situation), Blake handed the phone to Coulson with a murmured, "Someone else picked up."
Coulson took the phone. "This is Director Phil Coulson of SHIELD," he said into the phone, without wasting any time. "Do you have my son, Grant, with you?" His tone was calm, but clear and no-nonsense. He had no problem drawing on his authority when it was needed... and he didn't know if Grant had been arrested, or kidnapped by one of their many enemies.
Bakshi nodded, leaning into his father without comment.
Grant watched as the captain's face took on an irritated look, but it soon became apparent that the irritation was because he'd discovered Grant was telling him the truth. "Your son was found wandering the halls of the academy without an escort, in an area he wasn't supposed to be in. His face was rather well known for a few days following the exposure of HYDRA; the fact you had adopted him wasn't quite as well known..." His tone sounded accusatory, as if it was Phil's fault that Grant's situation hadn't been announced in the same way as his original 'escaped' prisoner status had been. Grant winced at the tone. His father didn't deserve to be upbraided by the leader of this academy because Grant had gone off on his own and ended up in a part of the building he shouldn't have been in (even if he'd been looking for his nephew). "You can come retrieve him in my office. Just ask any of the cadets where to find Commander Lassard and they'll show you the way." Grant winced again as the man hung up on his father without another word.
Coulson addressed the other family members. "Grant was in an area he shouldn't have been and got arrested by Lassard... Blake, can you tell me where his office is?"
Blake nodded and gave his uncle the directions.
"Thank you." Coulson sighed. "I'll go and retrieve him... I'll meet the rest of you by the cars." He waited for an acknowledgement and then started walking, following Blake's directions.
Ben sighed softly, waiting till Coulson was out of sight before steering Blake toward the parking lot. "Come, we don't want him having to look for all of us once he's retrieved Grant."
Bucky began to steer Bakshi in the same direction, while Clint gently led Pietro.
The three remaining children went willingly with their fathers. Pietro was favouring his arm a little, but he could still move it.
Grant swallowed hard. "I didn't mean to end up in a restricted area...I was attempting to locate my nephew and wasn't paying attention to the signs. I apologize for the trouble caused..." he began, in the hopes it would calm the commander down enough that he wouldn't continue to jump all over his father.
Lassard just grunted.
Coulson had been able to tell that the Commander was irritated (plus, he was worried about his son), so he wasted very little time in getting to the man's office. He didn't just barge straight in when he reached it, instead pausing and knocking politely.
Grant glanced toward the door, unable to hide sudden nervousness due to guilty feelings when he heard the knock.
The commander saw and smiled thinly. "Come in."
Coulson opened the door and stepped into the office, smiling politely at Lassard. "Commander Lassard, I apologise for this inconvenience. I'm sure my son has already explained the situation... He didn't mean to cause trouble and was in fact attempting to help a former student regain his memories."
"He explained..." Lassard commented, barely glancing at Grant. "Given who he is and what we knew of him, I wasn't inclined to trust him. And he went into a clearly marked area that he wasn't supposed to enter. Having said that, if you take responsibility for him, I'm willing to let him go without pressing charges..."
Grant was clearly frustrated, but managed to keep his mouth closed.
Coulson nodded. "I appreciate that. If you need the relevant paperwork, I can have a copy sent to you," he offered. "I will also personally vouch for him. He is a valuable part of SHIELD and past actions are no longer a factor." Coulson's words were simple and sincere as he spoke up for his son.
Lassard slanted his head then smiled. "No need...if you take him right now. He makes my men nervous." He motioned Grant to stand and as soon the younger man was on his feet, motioned the two SHIELD agents to leave.
Grant didn't wait for a second invitation, quickly leaving the office and heading down the hall to the exit closest to the parking lot. He was in a hurry to leave before he said something inadvisable.
Coulson thanked Lassard before following his son, quickly catching up to Grant. Making sure Grant knew he was there, he gently squeezed the nape of his neck in his usual reassuring gesture.
Grant had been tempted to begin jogging to the car, not exactly ready to face his father. He felt all kinds of unsettled, out-of-sorts and disillusioned. But in the end, he couldn't ignore the older man. It wasn't his father's fault, what had happened. And it did help somewhat, feeling the gentle squeeze at his neck, reminding him that he wasn't alone and his father had everything under control. He relaxed, slumping into the familiar gesture of love. "This isn't how I envisioned this trip turning out..." He finally sighed. "Did they find Pietro?" he asked worriedly.
Coulson nodded. "He hurt his arm when trying to avoid a collision... but there was some good that came out of it. Bakshi's discovered that he has medical training." He stepped closer to his son, fairly certain Grant wasn't feeling good and wanting to make sure he knew he had Coulson's full support.
Grant blinked at that, but nodded. Just because Pietro normally wasn't hurt didn't mean it wasn't possible for him to be hurt. And that was interesting about Bakshi. "That's good?" he said uncertainly. "I mean...he now knows something about himself he didn't know before..." He didn't move away from his father, but for some reason, his father moving closer didn't really help any. The hand at his neck had helped the most; and for some reason, that fact irritated Grant, but he couldn't for the life of him figure out why it would. He kept walking at the same steady pace, but it was obvious he was tense.
Soon, they had reached the cars.
Bucky glanced over as Coulson walked up with Grant in tow. "I think we'll be changing things up a bit. Bakshi, Ben, Blake and I will go in Blake's car. If you four would like to drive back in the car we arrived in..." He directed his comments to Clint, who nodded briefly, and Coulson. "Bruce is waiting for Pietro in the medical lab."
Coulson's expression was worried as he glanced at Grant, but he nodded to Bucky. "That's fine with me," he answered. "Grant... if you sit up front with me, Clint and Pietro can go in the back." Even though his grandson seemed fine, Coulson knew he preferred to be close to his children when they were hurt... he was fairly certain Clint felt the same.
"Y'sir..." Grant mumbled, moving to the passenger side without argument.
Clint helped Pietro into the backseat, making sure to keep his arm as still as possible. It would probably be fine, but until Bruce could confirm, he didn't want to risk further injury.
Ben walked with Blake to the other car, going to the passenger side. Since it was his son's car, he wasn't going to insist on driving.
Bucky gently led Bakshi to the back seat and let him get in first before going around to the other side and getting in himself. As far as he could tell, Bakshi was doing fine, but even so...
Coulson got into the driver's seat, putting his seatbelt on and waiting for his sons and grandson to settle in.
Pietro knew his family was worried, so for once, he didn't come out with any comments... that and his arm was quite sore, even if it was only bruised.
Clint knew Pietro was sore. He trusted Bakshi's diagnoses that the arm was only bruised; but Pietro was so seldom wounded at all that he couldn't help but worry. "We'll get your arm checked out by Bruce when we get back. He can use the scanner to make certain something wasn't hiding that can't be seen without the proper equipment."
Grant buckled his seatbelt, sitting straight and looking out the window. He tried to relax. It really wasn't his family's fault how Lassard had responded to him. And truth be told, it wasn't really Lassard's fault either; the man hadn't known that Grant was on the right side of the law now. The whole situation had left a sour taste in his mouth though, and irritation and upset bubbled under the surface of his emotions. He had to concentrate hard to keep it from boiling over and spilling onto innocent victims- in this case, his father, brother and nephew.
Pietro nodded. "I can still move it, at least. I don't think it's broken." But he didn't protest having it checked out by Bruce.
Coulson freed one hand from the steering wheel as he drove and placed it on Grant's knee, squeezing gently. While he didn't say anything, he could tell his son was struggling... and he wanted to make it clear he was there.
Clint reached over and carefully put a hand on Pietro's shoulder, careful not to jar the injured arm, but wanting to give some small sign of affection.
Grant took a shuddering breath and let it out slowly, counting to ten before giving his father a weak and tense smile. He didn't want his father thinking he was upset at him...or that he was unaware of the fact the older man wanted to be there for him. But he really didn't feel like talking and it was a struggle not to begin ranting at what had occurred.
Blake got in the driver's seat without argument and put his seatbelt on, making sure the others were settled and ready before he started driving.
The look Bakshi directed at his father was uncertain. While knowing how the family dealt with things, he had yet to experience it... and wasn't sure what to expect.
Bucky caught Bakshi's uncertain look and, suspecting he knew the cause, smiled at his son and reached over, clasping him on the knee and squeezing gently. "We'll talk at home, son..." he said softly.
Ben nodded, having heard Bucky's comment. "So will we..." His tone was just as soft and gentle as Bucky's; and just as promising.
Bakshi nodded and tried to relax. It wasn't like he could change anything... and he already knew he didn't need to fear his father. "Sorry..." His voice was soft, even if it was nervous.
Blake already knew what it would entail and he nodded in acknowledgement of his father's words. "Yes, sir." His voice was quiet and respectful as he drove them back to the tower.
Bucky gave Bakshi another gentle smile, squeezing his knee again. "I know. It will be ok."
Ben gave Blake his own smile.
It didn't take the cars long to return to the tower. As soon as the car had come to a complete stop, before his father had even turned the engine off, Grant was out of the car and speeding toward the stairwell, not even waiting for the elevator in his need to work his irritation out in some physical way.
Clint blinked as one minute his brother was in the car with them and the next was gone from site. "Uh...what exactly happened in Lassadar's office? Something we need to be worried about?" he asked his father uncertainly, even as he carefully unbuckled Pietro and then quickly got out of the car and went around to the other side to help his son out.
Bucky got out of the other car and walked around to stand next to Bakshi as he got out of the car. Ben got out of the car and waited for Blake to walk around to stand next to him. Both men were staring at the stairwell in confusion.
Coulson somehow wasn't that surprised that his son had taken off, even as he undid his seatbelt and got out of the car. "Nothing happened per say... I suspect that it was frustrating to have to go through that," he said softly to Clint, fairly certain that it was more than just frustration... but unwilling to try and psycho-analyse Grant when all he wanted was to help him stop feeling bad.
Pietro got out of the car with his father's help, looking worried about his uncle.
Bakshi and Blake got out of the car, both moving to stand next to their fathers. Bakshi looked confused... but Blake was fairly used to needing to work out frustration, sadness, anger... and he was reasonably sure that was what Grant was doing.
Clint nodded. "So just give him some space and let you handle it. Got it..." He carefully put an arm around Pietro's shoulders and gently led him to the elevator. "...In the meantime, we're going to get you scanned."
Ben carefully took Blake by the arm. "We'll just go to our apartment now, then...Unless you needed us for anything else?" he asked Coulson, just in case.
Bucky tugged Bakshi closer to himself, putting one arm around his son's shoulders, and waited for Coulson's answer. If his brother didn't need them for anything, he would take Bakshi back to their apartment.
Pietro nodded, leaning into his father without argument as Clint led him towards the elevator.
Coulson shook his head. "You can both go back to your apartments... I'm sure everything will be fine." He was worried about Grant, but his son had run into the tower rather than away from it. Coulson headed towards the elevator, figuring he was more likely to head off Grant that way, and requested that Veronica inform him of where Grant was... and if he stopped anywhere.
Ben and Bucky led both of their sons into the elevator as well. The first stop was the medical floor and Clint nodded at the other men as he directed Pietro off the elevator and toward where Bruce was waiting with the scanner.
Soon after, the elevator had dropped all the others off at their personal floors.
Grant jogged up the stairs, not paying attention to which floors he was passing by. Considering the fact the living quarters were up near the seventieth floor and he'd started in the garage, he might should have thought about it.
Grant had finally stopped jogging about forty floors up. By the time he'd reached the floor where his apartment was, he was very tired...but the frustration had ebbed enough that he felt he could be around people without unfairly biting their heads off. Stepping onto his floor, he wearily trudged to the front door and slipped into the apartment, closing the door gently. After running off without word, he wasn't exactly looking forward to facing his father yet. He smiled as Copper padded out into the foyer to meet him. "Hey, boy..." He knelt down so he was level with the dog and began to pet it gently, wrapping his arms around Copper in a needy hug that told the dog the fragile state of emotion his master was in. Copper began to lick Grant's face and whine softly.
After Veronica informed Coulson that Grant was back at the apartment, he took the elevator there and stepped off. Spotting his son with Copper, Coulson didn't interrupt immediately... even though he was very worried at this further evidence of how Grant was feeling.
"Sorry for running off..." Grant mumbled loudly enough for his father to barely just hear him. Giving Copper one last pat, he slowly stood up, having to brace himself on the wall when his legs turned to jelly and felt like they were going to give out on him. It had been a while since he'd pushed himself physically to the point of exhaustion; running up forty flights of stairs and then walking quickly up the remaining close to forty had been a workout and now his muscles were protesting. "Oh, wow..." He blinked in surprise as he looked down at his now shaky legs.
Coulson immediately moved to Grant's side to support him, wrapping his arm around his son's waist. "Let's go and sit down. Once you're settled a bit, I'll get you some water." His tone was calm and no-nonsense... but also worried and filled with love and affection.
Grant nodded sheepishly, letting his father lead him to the couch. He leaned back and closed his eyes. "Guess I won't need to work out later..." he joked feebly.
Coulson took a seat next to his son and wrapped his arm around Grant's shoulders, squeezing gently. "Are you ready to talk to me about how you're feeling?" he asked, his voice gentle.
Grant sighed, listing sideways until he was leaning on his father, his head on Coulson's shoulder. "I'm frustrated...irritated... My feelings are a confused, jumbled mess, to be honest. The only thing I'm sure about is that I feel like hitting something." He glanced down. "Being here in the tower...surrounded by family and knowing that everyone trusts me and cares about me...it's easy to forget that outside the tower, there are people who don't know how much I've changed and who will think the worst and be scared the minute they realize who I am. The police commander and his instructors may not have been scared of me, but they definitely didn't trust me and were very wary. It was like a kick in the head, their reaction..." He clenched his fists and took a deep breath, trying to let go some of the anger and tenseness. "I know it's not their fault. They don't know everything that's happened since HYDRA broke me out. And it isn't my family's fault. The only one I can really blame is myself and it makes me so angry!"
Grant clenched his jaw and blinked back tears of frustration. If he was truly honest- with himself or his father- the anger was a side effect of how hurt he was. He didn't feel like he had a right to feel hurt, though and that was causing the irritation and anger. He reached down and scratched Copper between the ears when the dog put his head on Grant's knee.
Coulson wrapped his other arm around his son in a tight hug, shifting close enough that he could pull Grant into his lap if his son indicated he needed that. "It's all right to be upset by it, son," he said softly. "You've come a very long way... but there still might be people who need to see the evidence of that. I know what happened today hurt you. I was bothered by it and it wasn't me sitting in the handcuffs." He kissed Grant's head. "How other people react to you doesn't change anything," he said softly.
Grant may have wanted to crawl onto his father's lap and just be held and let his father take care of him, but the same thing that made him think he didn't have a right to be hurt made him feel like he should handle himself like an adult and not a needy child...so he stayed sat where he was. That didn't stop him from nestling just a little bit closer to his father, however. "I know it doesn't, dad...it just..." He sighed, not sure how to say what he was feeling. "I wish you hadn't had to see it, though. Hadn't had to be reminded how awful I was before..." He swallowed hard.
Coulson gently stroked his hair. "What happened before is in the past. You acted a certain way because that was how you were taught. But since I took you back, you've managed to leave that person behind. You have grown into your own person. You don't hide your emotions. You feel free to be who you truly are." He tightened his embrace. "Just like there are setbacks we've had to deal with... there are also going to be reminders of the man you once were. The man who has changed."
Grant nodded. "You're right," he said quietly. "Thank you for reminding me of that." He sighed deeply, snuggling just a bit more. "I'm glad you were there...if I'd had to face Lassard on my own...wait till he called you or one of my uncles to clear me...I don't know if I'd have been able to stay calm," he admitted reluctantly.
Coulson pressed another kiss to Grant's head, before tugging gently so he could situate his son onto his lap. "That's a natural reaction to have as well... and it's a good sign," he said. "You've spent so long bottling up your emotions... it hasn't been healthy, son."
The reminder of how far he had come...how broken he had been...affected Grant in two distinctly different ways. First, he was relieved and grateful his father understood and wasn't upset at his impulses. But then, he was irritated because it felt almost like his father was making excuses for him. He didn't say anything...he didn't understand why he was having such conflict about it, to be honest...but he couldn't help but huff slightly in frustration. "I can't see how letting all my emotions out on innocent bystanders is any healthier..." he muttered under his breath.
Coulson hugged his son tighter. "Taking your frustrations out on people isn't a good idea... but it is good that you're not trying to hide when something upsets or frustrates you." He stroked Grant's hair.
Grant didn't respond to that, instead just slumping further against his father. He knew his father was trying to help and he appreciated that. He wished it were working. Something...he wasn't sure what...just seemed to make him more determined to be frustrated and irritable. He figured it might be better to not focus on that for a bit, since he didn't understand his own reactions at the moment.
Coulson held his son close. "We're going to need to talk about what happened today," he said, his voice gentle.
Grant felt himself tensing up and pulling away slightly. "What do you mean? We already have talked about it..." he hedged. He knew exactly what his father meant. He found the irritation returning doubly. It was unfair! It wasn't as if they'd deliberately gone someplace dangerous and put their lives in danger. It was a police academy,for crying out loud. If a police academy wasn't safe enough to go without having the entire family for back-up, then no place was safe and he may as well never leave the tower again! And he'd cooperated with the commander and the instructors who'd waylaid him. He hadn't fought them. That had to count for something...right?
"It was a police academy that we know one family member who attended there was forced to become a corrupt policeman... and another was brainwashed," Coulson pointed out calmly, making eye contact with his son. "Both of which were things you knew... for all we know, one or more of the instructors there could be working with one of our enemies. That's why you at least check in with us... so we know where you are if something does happen... if you don't come home." His voice was soft, as talking like this reminded him starkly of losing Grant when his son was a baby.
Grant blinked at that, having not thought about those two aspects, even if he had been aware of it. Instead of calming him down, though, it only served to irritate him more. He should have thought about the fact that two people had ended up in bad situations; and they'd both started at that academy. It didn't necessarily mean anything was wrong there (it could have just been coincidence), but it could also have very well meant someone was there who could prove a danger. And he hadn't thought of it. He'd allowed his cousins and nephew to walk into what could have potentially been a deadly situation and none of them would have been the wiser and no one at home would have been able to help...
"But we called you as soon as we realized no one had actually touched base with you all. We didn't try and hide it..." Grant winced at how whiny and petulant his voice sounded.
"We've talked about the fact that letting one of us know where you are is important... that is has to be instinctual," Coulson said. "There were four of you involved. One of you should have thought to call. By the time one of you did, Pietro had vanished and you'd been arrested. It could have gone a lot worse."
"But we did call. Granted, it wasn't until we'd already got there, but we hadn't been there long at all when we remembered and called! Pietro just ran off as we were getting ready to call. And I didn't get arrested until afterwards...when I'd gone to hunt for Pietro," Grant protested irritably. He felt so out of sorts and upset at having been looked at as the dangerous HYDRA agent that he hadn't been in so long that it was impossible for him to be reasonable about anything; he knew his father was right and he knew he was only insisting on being called before action was taken because the lives they led were already so dangerous, they needed to be kept in the loop about everything, no matter how simple or innocent. He knew that. He just couldn't bring himself to back down and admit it.
Coulson sighed. "We could go around like this for the rest of the day, son. I know the others are in trouble along with you. Being arrested might not have happened at all, since we would have been able to open communications with the commander from the start and make sure the instructors knew who you were." He was still holding onto Grant, even though his son had pulled back, so it was little effort to gently move him over his lap.
Grant didn't fight his father's grip, or try to stop what his father was doing. At the same time, it was very obvious he wasn't happy about the situation or the position. "Maybe they shouldn't be in trouble, either..." he muttered, in a snide tone he obviously meant his father to hear. He also tensed up stiffly, all the irritation, aggravation and general bad attitude almost oozing from him.
Coulson wrapped his arm around his son's waist, drawing him in tight against his stomach. He didn't speak straight away, deciding not to drag this out longer, and instead tugged Grant's pants and underwear down to bare him. Taking a tighter grip on Grant, he brought his hand down in the first sharp swat.
Grant grit his teeth and managed not to react, at all, remaining tense and silent, quietly fuming on his own discontent. He wasn't even sure why he was upset at this point. He just was upset. And his father was a convenient target to be upset at.
This time, Coulson didn't use a methodical approach. He brought his hand down in random spots over Grant's backside and thighs... sometimes swatting three or four times in one spot, before once in another.
Grant closed his eyes tightly, stubbornly, refusing to admit his father had been right, even though he knew he was. He couldn't even say why he was being so stubborn. He'd reached a point where backing down wasn't even in his mind, even if, under normal circumstances, he would have apologized and accepted what he'd done wrong, well before it had reached this point. He tensed up even further, clenching the muscles of his backside and thighs defiantly and holding his breath so he wouldn't let any gasps of pain escape, even though it did hurt.
Coulson continued in this vein for several more swats and then paused, worried his son's stubbornness would push him to cross a line he wasn't prepared to. Coulson rested his hand on Grant's lower back... partly for contact; partly to indicate the spanking wasn't over... and then spoke. "I know what happened today affected you more than you've told me. It makes you remember a past you'd rather forget, doesn't it?"
Grant blinked in confusion at what, to him at least, seemed like an abrupt question. "Wh...really? You want me to talk, now?" he asked, somewhat peevishly, although he couldn't hide the confusion or the hint of amusement that his father wanted to have a conversation while his backside was the most visible part of him. He huffed slightly, trying to hold onto the aloofness he'd armored himself with. "Yeah...it reminded me of what I was before. Okay? The person that the instructors and commander would have been right to be wary of..." he finally, reluctantly forced out.
Coulson didn't tell his son he'd been able to see that... see how much Grant had been hurting. The supportive words that hadn't worked before would wait until his son had surrendered. He did gently rub Grant's back as he continued, "Why did that reminder upset you so much when it's also a sign of how far you've come?"
Grant blurted out the first thing that came into his head, "Because! I don't like to think about who I was before and they made me think about it!" He wrinkled his nose as what he'd said settled into the air. "I mean...I..." He frowned, some of the angry tenseness being replaced by an uncertain tenseness. "I don't know..." He huffed again, trying to hold onto his upset; it was easier to deal with than all the underlying emotions.
"I think you do," Coulson replied, his voice serious even though it was gentle at the same time. "I think your first answer was correct. You still think you were a monster... and something like this makes you feel like you shouldn't be a part of the family... doesn't it?" he asked, his voice tender.
"I...I don't think..." Grant swallowed hard. "...I know I don't deserve to be. Pietro disappeared and I couldn't even help him because my past caught up with me and I was stuck trying to convince people I wouldn't hurt them..." His voice was tight with anger again; this time, he could admit it was at himself, though. "All the wrong things I've done can hurt everyone I care about and nothing I do will ever change that..."
Coulson continued to gently rub his son's back. "Things you've done in the past can sometimes affect the present, that's true... but you have come a long way. You know that what you believed before wasn't true. You aren't the only one to make mistakes, son. And I know how hard you've worked to make up for that time... even though most of those actions were because of the way you'd been brought up, outside of my influence and with people who had negative impacts on you."
"I know...still...I didn't expect to be faced with it like that..." Grant admitted with a strained voice. He wanted to stay angry and upset...it was a lot easier to be angry and upset than to let the underlying hurt out. To admit what was really bothering him. His father was making it really difficult to stay angry, with his reasonable tone, reasonable questions and gentle affection. As much as he tried to hold onto it by tensing up and trying to ignore the gentleness, the more needy part of him was responding.
"Of course you didn't," Coulson replied. "And I know it hurt to have them assume you were still one of the bad guys... to have them question your assurances that you're my son. And you can feel that way. It doesn't make you a bad person."
"But...they...they won't be the only ones. I can't..I can't help but feel like I'll always be facing that fear and disbelief...that nothing will ever make up for what I did and no amount of changing will make any difference...and that means I'll never really be free of my past. Ever...and when...when..." He couldn't even finish the last thought, because it was too hard to even contemplate, even if his biggest fear was tied to it.
Coulson still continued stroking his son's back. "And when...?" he coaxed gently, wanting to get this all out in the open... so he could work on helping Grant to heal.
"You won't be around forever..." Grant whispered, his voice catching and sounding lost.
Coulson's voice became very gentle as he carried on with the comforting touch. "I plan to be around for a good long while, son. That's why I make sure I don't take any chances. Even then, you won't be alone. You have a huge family here... people who know you and will be able to vouch for you... even though I don't think this will hang over your head for the rest of your life."
"I...I don't want anyone else to have to vouch for me..." Grant's voice was even softer and tinier than before. "...If...if I have to have someone to help me that way, I want it to be you..." His voice caught and he shivered from the effort not to start crying. He was too busy trying not to cry to realize that he wasn't angry any longer. He'd finally admitted his biggest fear: losing his father. It hadn't really sunk in that it might happen some day until he realized how much he still had to depend on his father for anything outside of the family. That realization had sent his emotions reeling; being angry and upset had been the only way to keep control over them.
Coulson threaded his fingers through his son's hair. "You aren't going to lose me, son," he said softly. "I'll do everything within my power to ensure I'm here for you. That's why I make sure I don't take the chances I did when I was younger. I might not have had you with me for long, compared to the years you've been away from me... that only makes me more determined never to waste the precious time I have with you now."
"I love you, daddy..." Grant finally squeaked out, sounding very young and insecure.
"I love you. So very much. More than I could ever put into words." Coulson's voice was soft, but still rang with sincerity.
Grant lay over his father's lap, quivering. His position and state of undress hadn't escaped his notice, but it wasn't until he'd finally admitted what had truly been bothering him that he was finally able to calm down enough to think about why he was, where he was. Swallowing hard, he asked, "Do I have to be spanked?" His tone was decidedly less belligerent and antagonistic than before. Instead, it was more resigned. He wasn't going to argue any longer. The fight had bled out of him along with the anger.
Coulson leaned over to press a gentle kiss to his son's head. "I'm afraid so," he said, his voice gentle. "Do we need to establish why again?"
Grant sniffled slightly, his voice shaky as he answered. "We didn't let you know where we were going until we got there; if something had happened, we might not have been able to call you and then you wouldn't have known we needed help or where to look for us or anything...we also didn't think about the fact that it was a potentially dangerous place to go- if we'd said anything before going, you could have reminded us to be more vigilant or something...we let our group get split up; first by Pietro taking off on his own and then by my going off on my own to look for him. It was risky and I was lucky I was just detained until you could get there..." Grant's voice had gotten progressively smaller and more hesitant the more he said, until he sounded like a scared, guilty little boy. Biting his lip and swallowing hard again, he couldn't help but ask uncertainly, "Did I forget anything?"
Coulson gently stroked his hair as he replied softly, "I think you covered everything... apart from how devastated the rest of us would have been if something had happened to any of you. I love you, Grant. I know it's not always easy to remember to let one of us know where you're going... but I'd like you to try, son. Please." The thought of losing Grant... losing him again... was devastating.
"Y'sir...m'sorry.." Grant sniffled again, going limp over his father's lap. Without the anger to help him, remaining so tense and unyielding was impossible; and he was already tired from the attempt.
Coulson gently stroked his son's back a few more moments before he wrapped his arm around Grant's waist once more and resumed the spanking. He swatted methodically, but the swats, though firm, weren't nearly as hard as those he could give out.
Grant couldn't help the tiny, choking gasp he let out, or the fact that he almost immediately began to cry. It had been an emotionally draining day and now that he was no longer fighting his father or looking for a reason to be obstinate and difficult, there wasn't anything helping him keep himself under control. He didn't even tense up...remaining limp and pliant for his father, trusting that he'd only be given what he deserved.
Although it was always hard to force himself to follow through with a punishment, only the fact that he knew Grant needed him to be consistent kept Coulson finishing up the spanking. Even so, he could only bring himself to land two more full circuits of swats before he had to stop, gently pulling his son into his arms so he could hug him tight.
Grant was a wreck by the end of the punishment, though it was less to do with the spanking and more to do with the emotion he'd been fighting since being taken into custody at the academy. As soon as his father had pulled him up into his arms, Grant was sobbing, clinging to him with his face pressed to Coulson's chest. He had a hard time saying anything; he wasn't sure what to say... his father knew he loved him and knew he was sorry. "Don't wanna lose you, daddy..." he finally whispered through the tears.
"You won't," Coulson promised, rocking Grant as if he was much younger than he actually was. He kissed his son's head and held him as tight as he could without hurting him. "I love you," he reiterated.
"I love you..." Grant's voice was adamant. He didn't care that his father was comforting him like a child; he was grateful for it, as it helped ease the remainder of the anxiety he still harbored. "Thank you..." he finally whispered. He knew, as stubborn as he had been acting, Coulson could have given him a much harsher punishment. Instead, his father had dealt with him more gently than he probably deserved.
Coulson squeezed him gently, pressing another kiss to his head. "Being scared is natural, son... but if you start worrying again, I hope you know you can always come to me."
"I do know that, daddy..." he whispered, as he snuggled closer still. "As long as I'm not being stubborn about it..." His tone was sheepish.
"Even if you are, it doesn't make a difference," Coulson promised. "I'm not going to give up on you. I'm always going to be here for you."
Grant nodded, shifting until he had his head on his father's shoulder. "Love you, daddy..." he whispered, slumping even more. He felt drained emotionally; and it was seeping into his physical state. He closed his eyes because it was easier and hurt less than trying to keep them open.
Coulson kissed his head and gently threaded his fingers through his son's hair, hoping to soothe him to sleep. "I love you," he said, his voice soft.
Grant hadn't realized how emotionally distraught he was until suddenly, those feelings had been eased and soothed. The spanking had hurt, yes...but it had enabled him to let go and just cry, which was what he'd needed. He trusted his father implicitly and felt safe and secure with him, so it took little time at all for him to fall asleep in his father's arms...not even able to stay awake long enough to fix his clothing or change and definitely not long enough to move to a bed.
Coulson held his son tight until he was certain Grant had fallen asleep. Then, he gently replaced his son's clothing and stood up to carry Grant through to his bedroom, so he could settle his son on the bed.
Pietro sat quietly as Bruce checked over his arm, not moving... even though he didn't really like having to stay still. "What's the verdict, Doc?" he asked finally.
"Amazingly enough, considering how hard you hit, you just sprained it. Wear it in this brace until it has a chance to heal..." Bruce carefully helped place the brace on Pietro's arm. "Try not to move it too much and if you have pain, you can take regular pain reliever."
Clint nodded at his cousin's words. "I'll make sure he takes it easy. Thanks, Bruce."
As soon as Bruce had nodded that they could go, Clint was leading Pietro back to the elevator to go to the apartment.
Pietro went with his father without argument, but he frowned unhappily. "This is going to be annoying..."
"Yes, we'll be glad it wasn't worse. I've broken bones before...annoying and painful..." Clint smiled crookedly. He led his son off the elevator and into the apartment, leading Pietro up the stairs to his bedroom.
"Yeah..." Pietro grimaced at the thought, even as he went along with his father without protest.
Clint didn't see his brother or father anywhere, but he noticed his father's bedroom door was closed on the way by to the third level of the apartment and figured they might not see either of them for a few hours. In fact, if Pietro seemed inclined, they definitely wouldn't be seeing anyone for a few hours. He wanted Pietro to rest so that his quick healing would activate.
Leading his son into the bedroom and shutting the door, he walked with Pietro to the bed and dat down, pulling the younger man down next to him. "Do you know what you did wrong?" he asked gently.
Pietro sat down with a sigh and stared at the floor rather than at his father. "We didn't call any of you," he said. "And... I shouldn't have run off. Even though I was bored," he muttered, almost under his breath.
"Not exactly..." Clint corrected gently. "Blake actually did call. But you should have informed us before you ever went. There was no guarantee that the men who gave Bakshi up to HYDRA don't work there. And you are right that you should never have gone off on your own. Something worse could have happened and we might not have been able to reach you in time..." Clint's voice was serious.
Pietro gave a slight up and down movement with his head. "I'm sorry, Papa..." The form of address slipped in automatically, as it normally did when feeling emotionally vulnerable.
"I know...we're going to take care of it..." Clint said softly, giving his son a tight hug. "I just want to be certain you do understand what you did wrong- because you even being hurt bothers me. I don't know what I'd do if you disappeared or something worse happened." His admittance was just as quiet as the rest of the words, but it was said so emphatically, he might as well have been shouting. "Are you ready?" he finally asked, not letting his son out of the hug, but not wanting to drag things out any longer if Pietro was ready. He knew how anxious he got when waiting for a punishment, and didn't want to put his son through that.
Pietro hugged tightly just a little more to his father before nodding and slowly letting go. "Yes..." He waited for his father to position him.
Nodding, Clint moved so that his son's upper body would be supported on the bed, placing a pillow so that Pietro's hurt arm would be braced, then carefully positioned the younger man over his lap. Pulling him in tightly against his stomach, once Clint was certain Pietro wouldn't fall or be further injured, he bared him quickly then raised his hand up and let it fall with a resounding smack against Pietro's backside. He quickly fell into a rhythm, covering Pietro's entire backside from top to mid-thigh, though he was careful to not smack a spot more than once before moving and he kept the force just at a level hard enough to be painful but not leave bruising or jar his son too much (not wanting to injure the sprained arm any further).
Pietro winced, letting out a sound that was nearly a whine. He held still as much as possible, but he'd forgotten how much being spanked hurt... and it didn't take long for him to be squirming in reaction to the swats.
Clint tightened his grip on his son, pulling him more tightly to him so that the squirming wouldn't put strain on Pietro's arm, before starting over in a second circuit of swats. "You hurt your arm because you went speeding off into an area and a situation you weren't familiar with or ready for. While sometimes that might be necessary and acceptable, there was no reason for you to do so today. I don't want you being hurt because you are doing things you have no good reason to be doing." He continued to swat, though he had lessened the force enough for Pietro to listen to his words.
"I especially don't want you doing things you have no good reason to be doing, such as going places without letting your family know where you are going. I'm not saying you have to get permission to go places; unless, of course, they are places where the potential for running into HYDRA operatives or other dangerous individuals or situations is high. But you do need to let me know where you are going...if only so I know where to begin my search should something happen and you not make it back home." Clint swallowed. "I can't lose you, son. You need to do everything in your power to help me make sure I don't..." His voice was tight with the worry he always felt when he thought of how easily he could lose his son, considering the life they all led.
Pietro swallowed, feeling the tears spring to his eyes as he listened to his father's words. No matter how painful the spanking was ... knowing he'd hurt his father was always the worst, no matter that he was used to hiding how he felt under bravado. He didn't try to be brave now... didn't try to pretend he wasn't affected. "I'm sorry, Papa..."
"I love you Pietro...the thought of losing you...it physically hurts..." Clint admitted, beginning a third circuit. "And knowing you got hurt doesn't feel much better..." He continued smacking, but only got about three more swats in before he couldn't continue any further. He could tell his son was crying, even if he wasn't sobbing. And he could tell how affected Pietro was and believed that he truly was sorry. There was no need to continue. Stopping, he carefully replaced his son's clothing before gently drawing him up into his arms and holding him close. Kissing the top of Pietro's head, he reiterated, "I love you, son..."
Pietro latched onto his father immediately, pressing his face against Clint's shoulder as he tried to stop crying. "Love you, Papa..." he whispered, voice somewhat muffled due to not wanting to pull back even just enough to make himself clear.
Clint continued to hold Pietro tightly, just rocking him gently as his son cried. He wasn't planning to let go of his son until Pietro was ready for him to let go.
It took a little while, but Pietro's tears died down... though he still held tightly to his father as best he could with one arm. "Could we maybe not mention how I got hurt to the others?" he asked, a little bit of humour coming back.
"Well...If you don't want them to know you ran face first into a wall, I won't tell them, although I'm sure Wanda at least will want to know how you hurt your arm. So what are you planning to tell them happened?" Clint's voice was amused.
Pietro snorted softly. "If I'd run face-first, that would be harder to hide... and, of course, I meant anyone apart from Wanda. Since she'll just take one look at me and know exactly what happened, no matter what excuse I come up with."
Clint chuckled, hugging Pietro a little bit tighter. "That's true. So what do you plan to tell the others?"
"I figured I'd leave it a mystery." Pietro grinned, not moving away from his father. "Everyone who asks me, I'll give them a different answer."
Clint outright laughed at that. "You do that. Tell me what results you get. I might try that the next time I fall off one of my perches..." His smile was impish. "...Although I'll warn you right now, your grandfather and great-uncles have the ability to suss out bullshit without even trying..."
"Ah, well I'll just tell my cousins, then... and I'm fairly sure Grandpapa already knows what happened." Pietro smiled, happy to have made his father laugh.
"Your grandpa is wise like that..." Clint agreed. "There was many a time I thought I'd snuck something by him and he knew exactly what had gone on. He'd let me have just enough rope to hang myself if I tried to be dishonest about it; I soon learned it was better to just come clean immediately." He chuckled again, able to laugh at himself now that a few decades had passed; though at the time, he'd been anything but happy about his father's eagle eye and firm hand.
"Maybe you can tell me and Wanda about some of those times." Pietro knew his sister always soaked up stories about their family's past... she'd never said, but he was fairly certain it was because she wanted to feel like a part of the family even before they'd both joined.
"I'm sure I can...maybe we can get together with your grandpa, aunts and uncle later tonight or tomorrow and just tell stories. Your Aunt Natasha has some interesting stories to tell, too, even if she joined the family later than I did." Clint smiled, kissing the side of Pietro's head. "You doing ok now?" he asked gently.
"Yeah, Pops. And sharing stories sounds good." Pietro pressed close to his father for another second or two before carefully sliding off his lap. "Am I grounded?" he asked, not sure if the spanking was the end of it.
Clint carefully stood as well, putting a hand on his son's shoulder and squeezing gently. "Only in as much as you can't leave the building without me...and I'd like you to stay close to me or one of the other family members while you are in the building. I won't make you stay next to me while you sleep, but if you'd like to stay in my room, that'd be good too..." Clint slanted his head, watching his son closely to see what Pietro thought of his suggestion.
Pietro swallowed. "I... don't mind staying in your room." He wasn't quite as willing to outright say how he felt like his sister was... at least outside of his vulnerable state.
Clint smiled. "I'm glad...I'd like to keep an eye on you at least until your arm is fully healed..." he said softly, figuring if he gave Pietro an excuse to stay with him, the younger man might feel less self-conscious about it. "Come...let's go find your sister and then see if we can't figure out what we want to do for dinner tonight; maybe catch your aunts and let them know we want to tell stories and see if we can't get that set up." He gently began to lead Pietro from the room.
Pietro went willingly with his father... slanting a bit closer to Clint without really thinking about it.
Ben had led Blake directly to their apartment and into the living room as soon as they'd gotten off the elevator. He'd sat down on the couch, tugging his son down next to him, looking him over carefully. "You weren't hurt, were you?" he asked finally, unable to see any wounds or noticeable damage to Blake. He assumed not, since he'd hope that his son would say if something had happened that could have caused a set-back in his healing...but he wanted to give Blake a chance to confirm that.
Blake shook his head, sitting down next to his father obediently. "Nothing happened... it was only Pietro who got hurt; and he wasn't attacked anyway... I can't say for sure the academy's safe, but nothing happened this time."
Ben nodded, relieved that his assumption was correct. He couldn't help raise an eyebrow at Blake's wording, though. "So...you admit that you don't know for sure that the academy is safe?" His tone was neutral, but it was obvious he was anything but neutral about the subject.
"I didn't think about it before," Blake admitted. "I should have put that connection together... me and Bakshi. But it was driving me crazy, trying to figure out how I knew him... when I realised we went to the same academy, it didn't occur to me until after I called you that we could have both been targeted from there."
Ben nodded. "That's what I figured. So the trick is to get you to realize things like that before you put yourself into possibly dangerous situations." His tone was wry. He wrapped an arm around Blake's shoulders and squeezed gently. "Get you to think about and realize things could be dangerous before you put yourself into the situation... and think about calling and informing me or one of the other family members about your plans before you've already headed off and put yourself into possible danger..." This time, his tone was serious and firm.
Blake nodded, leaning into his father. "I know." He sighed. "There isn't an excuse. One of us should have informed you or one of the others." His voice faltered a little as he added, a bit quieter, "I'm sorry, Dad."
"Yes, you should have..." Ben agreed gently, hugging Blake a little more tightly. "And I know you didn't do it deliberately...I've already forgiven you. But I can't let it go without addressing it. I need you to learn to keep me informed, because I don't want to lose you. And if the only difference between me and the rest of the family being able to keep you from being hurt, or being able to rescue you should anything happen, and us not knowing in time to do anything, is whether or not you informed us where you were going... well, I want you to learn to inform me before you go."
Blake hugged his father tight. "I understand," he said quietly, waiting for his father to either move him into position... or tell him what to do.
Ben hugged tightly for just a few seconds longer before he gently tugged Blake over his lap. Tugging the younger man in close and tight to his body, he quickly lowered his pants and underwear before resting his hand on his son's lower back. "I'm going to spank you for failing to inform me of your plans before leaving; because if anything had happened before you called, I wouldn't have had any idea that I needed to be worried, let alone where I needed to go to help you. That is unacceptable. I'm not spanking you for deciding to go to the academy, although it should have occurred to you that it was a potentially dangerous place, due to the fact both you and Bakshi went there and Bakshi at least was targeted for brainwashing. You didn't go there knowing it was a potentially dangerous spot and it wasn't deliberately ignoring the danger. If you'd told me your plans, I likely would have brought that fact up to you; which is another good reason to always let your family know your plans." He waited to see if Blake had anything else to add before beginning to swat.
Blake shifted slightly, closing his eyes, although he made no attempt to fight the position. "I'm sorry," he said again, his voice coming out barely a whisper. He swallowed. "I'll... do better next time," he promised.
"I know you will, son..." Ben said softly, before forcing himself to raise his hand and let it fall with a firm smack against his son's backside. He didn't follow a set pattern- sometimes he smacked the same spot more than once before moving on- but he kept the speed steady... and the force was only hard enough to sting, not be so painful that he'd feel if for a long time after. As far as he was concerned, Blake hadn't deliberately set out to do anything dangerous; he'd called as soon as he'd realized they hadn't told anyone...and he stayed with his group once there. Other than not realizing the possible danger in going to the police academy and his not informing his family before leaving to go there, he hadn't done anything meriting a harsher punishment.
Blake winced, forcing himself to keep still... the spanking hurt, but even though he'd only been spanked once before, he could tell his father wasn't using nearly as much force as he could have been. Still, it did sting... and Blake's body shifted slightly in reaction to the swats.
Ben continued swatting, keeping the level of force the same throughout until he'd covered Blake's entire backside and sit spots. Then he began again. On the second circuit, he started to speak softly. "I don't want to lose you, son. I know there are no guarantees in life and you telling me where you are going is no insurance that something won't happen...but if you tell me where you are going, at least I'll be able to know where you are, or where you should be if you need me, and can save precious time in locating you if I need to. And if I know where you are going, I'll be better able to warn you if you are heading into danger. I don't want to dictate every move you make, but I do want you to share your moves with me...if only so I can be there if you do need me."
Tears began to blur Blake's eyes and he pressed his head into his arms, unable to stop his crying becoming audible as his father's words hit home as much as the spanking. It was sometimes hard to remember that he now had a father who cared enough about his safety to want to be there for him... but right now, the point was being driven home.
Ben forced himself to finish the second circuit, but he was only able to give three smacks of a third circuit before Blake's crying became too much for him to stand and he stopped spanking, carefully replacing his son's clothing, then tugging Blake up and into his arms so he could hug him tight and rub his back gently. "I love you, son. I love you so much..." he whispered against Blake's hair, before kissing the side of his head.
Blake immediately latched onto his father, hiccuping slightly as he tried to stop his crying. He pressed closer and sniffled, speaking in a soft, sad tone, "I'm sorry, Dad... I didn't mean to worry you... I love you..."
Ben held onto Blake tightly, not letting go. "I worry because I love you."
"I know..." Blake sniffled softly. "I'm sorry it's taking me a while to get used to having a father."
"I'm not going anywhere. We'll keep at it for as long as you need..." Ben promised.
Blake nodded and gave a quiet sigh. "Thank you."
"Any time, son..." Ben answered quietly with a smile, before kissing the top of Blake's head again.
Bucky had led Bakshi back to their apartment and into his bedroom, knowing Lance wouldn't accidentally walk in on them there. Sitting down on the bed, he pulled Bakshi down next to him. "You care to tell me what happened in your own words? You seem ok, but if you aren't, I need to know..."
Any hesitation Bakshi felt had nothing to do with his father... though everything to do with the fact he wasn't sure what to expect. He sat down without any hesitation. "I know I should have told you where we were going," he began. "When Blake mentioned he knew me from the police academy... all I could think about was getting answers. None of us thought to check in with anyone... I guess I'm not used to doing that," he admitted.
Bucky chuckled sadly and leaned over, giving his son a kiss on the side of the head. "Hold on, sport...let's start over. I appreciate you wanting to explain to me what you did so quickly...and I'm glad you understand what you did wrong. I guess I didn't word my question the right way...I want to know if you are ok, first. That's the most important thing to me...that you weren't hurt in any way and that you are ok emotionally..." he said softly. Pulling Bakshi in closer with an arm around his shoulders, he hugged the younger man. "I've been where you are...not remembering...I know it's frustrating and can be very upsetting. I also know that when you do remember things; sometimes they are upsetting and disorienting...I want to make sure you are ok before we address your actions."
"Oh." Bakshi sat quietly for a second or two, as he tried to gather his thoughts together and figure out exactly what he felt about what had happened. When he spoke, it was in a soft voice. "During... when I went to examine Pietro... it was like another me took over. I couldn't explain how I knew what to do... I just knew, like muscle memory." He hesitated, then, and looked at his father. "I keep getting these flashes now... but I don't know exactly what they're of. Just that they're there and starting to surface."
"I've done that a few times. Discovered I had a skill that I didn't remember having until I actually needed it. Is it something you'd like to pursue? Maybe you could work with Bruce whenever the family needs medical care... see if any other medical skills manifest?" Bucky asked quietly, looking into Bakshi's eyes to get a feel of what his son might be thinking or feeling. "Do these 'flashes' make you nervous or apprehensive? Or just curious?"
Bakshi met his father's gaze without flinching. "Mostly... they pique my curiosity," he admitted. "But a couple of them... I don't know. I get the feeling there's a lot of bad waiting to come out." And he was nervous... maybe even scared. "I would like to see if working with Bruce would help, though," he added.
"We'll talk to him later tonight and see about arranging something." Bucky smiled. "As for the bad...I'm here and I'm not going anywhere. I'll help you..."
"I know..." Bakshi trusted his father completely and let himself lean against Bucky for a second or two, while he waited for his father to direct him on what to do next.
"Ok..." Bucky sighed internally. He never liked punishing loved ones. Add the fact this was Bakshi's first offense as his son and it was even more difficult. But it needed to be done. "You know what you did wrong. Letting me or another family member know where you are going and when needs to become second nature. It helps us keep you safe," Bucky said quietly, as he carefully pulled Bakshi over his lap. Tugging the younger man tight and close, he then bared him. Raising his hand, he let it fall with a firm smack.
Not knowing what to expect, Bakshi jumped as the first smack landed, his mouth falling open in a startled gasp that he quickly tried to stifle. While it stung... he was fairly sure he'd had worse pain. No... it was the humbling position that he was in... knowing he'd made his father feel like he had to do this... that made him feel bad.
Bucky didn't say anything through the first circuit, instead letting his hand do the talking with firm, concise swats from the top of Bakshi's bottom to the crease before his thighs began. He didn't swat too hard; past experience let him know that it wasn't the pain that made the most impact...he only swatted hard enough that the sting would last for a little while past the spanking. On the second circuit, he picked up his tempo halfway through and said one short phrase. "I love you, kid. I don't want to lose you to something we can easily prevent."
Even though it wasn't anything like as bad as he'd feared, Bakshi couldn't stop himself from shifting in a reaction to the swats. He swallowed as tears blurred his vision, threatening to fall. "I'm sorry..." His voice was soft; barely a whisper.
"I know you are..." Bucky responded softly. "...I just want to make sure you think a bit more next time- hopefully prevent it from happening again." With that he finished the second circuit and- determining that Bakshi was close to where he needed to be- gently tipped the younger man and began targeting his sit spots.
The tears began to fall as his father focused more on where Bakshi knew he'd feel it later. His breath caught as the first sob escaped... and then, as if the dam was broken, more sobs followed the first.
Bucky couldn't continue once his son had begun sobbing. As soon as he'd heard the first sob, he was already stopping and pulling the younger man up into his arms, holding onto him tightly and rocking him back and forth gently as if he were much younger. "I love you, kid..." he whispered against Bakshi's ear, kissing the top of his head, before continuing to gently rock and cuddle him.
Although a bit surprised to find himself hugged, Bakshi nevertheless responded immediately, wrapping his arms around his father and hugging on tight as he tried to calm his tears.
"You'll be alright..." Bucky soothed, not letting go of Bakshi even a little. "...And when you feel ready, we'll focus a little bit more on what you found out about yourself today. See if it helps you remember even more."
Bakshi nodded, letting his head drop gently against his father's shoulder. "I'm glad I have you," he whispered, knowing his life now could have been vastly different.
"Always, kid...always..." Bucky said softly, just continuing to hold his son and provide comfort.
Although he knew that he'd be informed if anything had happened and his help was needed, his brothers and nephew had left a bit abruptly. Having asked Veronica to inform him once everyone was settled, Fury continued working until the AI gently interrupted to let him know everyone was safely back home.
Rather than go to everyone's apartment, Fury took out his cell phone to try Clint first... fairly sure Coulson would have more kids hanging off him.
"Hi, Uncle Nick," Clint answered his phone. "How can I help you?"
"I just wanted to check everyone got back safely," Fury said. "I know one of you would have let me know about any problems... but you did all disappear very quickly. I take it your brother and son are all right?"
"Yes, sir...Pietro and Grant are both doing fine, if a bit tired from all the excitement. Bakshi and Blake as well, as far as I know..." Clint's smile carried in his voice. "I'll make sure that Grant and Pietro know you asked about them. It's good for them to remember that there are more than one or two people who care about them in the family..."
"You do that," Fury said. "Make sure they're aware they can call me at any time they need to." Smiling, he added, "Even if I do still make Grant nervous at times."
Clint chuckled. "Yeah, well...you are his godfather, after all...and the one most likely to step in when he messes up, if dad can't. I'll make sure they know. And thanks...it means a lot..."
"I'm just relieved they're all safe," Fury replied. "I'll let you get back to the family now."
"Ok, Uncle Nick...give Kara and the guys a hug from me. Love you..." Clint hung up the phone then turned toward his son. "C'mon, kid. Let's go round up some dinner..."
Fury hung up his phone and then headed out of his office to join his children, knowing he could rest easy now that he was certain the wayward family members had come home and were settled with their fathers.