Laura Barton sighed in contentment as she looked out over her farm land. Her little flower garden had blossomed well this year and the rain that had been predicted earlier in the day looked like it had shifted off course. Far off in the yard, nearer to the slightly run down barn, the start of the vegetable garden and some fruit trees looked to be coming along well. Copper and Lila were inside, silently playing together. Laura praised the Lord that the two got along so well. She had no idea how she would have lasted as basically a single mother if they hadn't.
A swift kick in her stomach region reminded her of the soon to be new addition to the family. Little Nathanial was far more active that his older siblings. Already a little trouble maker, Laura suffered through almost eight months of 'morning sickness', a sudden intolerance to all types of chicken, and a complete aversion to all things healthy. Whenever he was home, Clint loved making fun of her new eating habits. And as each day passed, it was harder and harder for Laura to continue convincing Cooper and Lila that they still needed to eat healthy while she ate whatever crap she wanted.
A sudden familiar whine of a slowing Quinjet's engines had Laura perk up from her thoughts. As the sound grew louder, Cooper and Lila rushed from the house to join Laura on the porch. They were partly excited and partly frightened, like every time they heard the noise of a Quinjet. In fact, Laura felt much of the same way.
"Is Daddy finally home?" Lila curiously asked in her soft spoken four year old voice. Laura didn't reply. She had long since learned that an appearing Quinjet could be Clint or could be any one of four others (now seven [eight if one counted the deceased Coulson]) that knew of this little slice of peace.
"It could be Uncle Nick," Cooper pointed out with his superior eight year old mind. Lila frowned. While she liked Uncle Nick, she wanted her father home soon. "He's been visiting a lot since his business went to crap."
"Cooper!" Laura quickly scolded, turning her head from the image of the Quinjet on the horizon. Cooper winced at her tone. Language was strictly enforced in the Barton household. In fact, Clint usually ended up being in trouble more often than not because of what he said. The archer's language use had even increased since hanging out with Tony Stark. So Laura shouldn't have been surprised at what happened next. "Who taught you that?"
"Uncle Tony," the boy softly admitted. It was something Clint had feared if he ever introduced his family to the Avengers. While Clint was often in trouble, he actually only used language when the kids weren't around but Laura still yelled at him. And while the Avengers had only come to the farm once since the first introduction during the fight with Ultron, Cooper had stuck to Tony Stark's side like glue. It almost came as no surprise that Cooper would learn some bad language.
"Well, I'll have words with him," Laura huffed as the Quinjet touched down in the empty field that Clint had mentally designated the landing zone. She sighed. Considering Clint was now freely bringing his dog home, there needed to be a fence out there soon. Maybe she'd get a horse or something as a cover story. Nervously the family waited as the jet went through the final landing procedure. This was something the family had gotten used to but they were still tense as they wondered and waited to see who would step out of the jet.
It seemed to take forever before finally the back hatch began to open. Cooper and Lila went to run toward the jet before seeing who was inside but years of Laura telling them not too made them stay by her side. Even if they were practically jumping. Finally the back finished lowering and out stepped Clint Barton, the shaggy looking Arrow (renamed Lucky by the kids) waiting patiently at his side. Laura's relieved sigh was masked by Cooper's whoop of triumph and Lila's scream of joy.
"DADDY!" the little girl shouted before her and Cooper raced to get to Clint first. Arrow barked from Clint's side but his training made it that he didn't move until Clint snapped his fingers. Once the archer did that, Arrow rushed off to meet the children. Laura stayed behind on the porch, knowing her pregnant form needed rest and it'd take her forever to get down the steps. But she studied her husband from afar, looking for any new signs of injury or use of that Dr. Cho's miracle machine. Not that she'd be able to see that. If Clint hadn't mentioned the use of it on him before, she would never had known of the hole that had been blown in his side before the big fight with Ultron.
By this point, the children had reached Arrow midway to the Quinjet and Clint hadn't been that far behind. He was now hugging and kissing them fiercely like he had been gone for years. The kids squealed in delight and joy at their father and hugged him back just as fiercely. Laura laughed as suddenly Clint's face took on a different expression. The trios hugs and kisses paused as the kids registered the change in their father. Cooper was first to realize and with a yell, he spun and raced off, Arrow running after him, barking excitedly in confused joy. Lila came next, squealing almost like a pig as she rushed to get away from Clint before his mental countdown reached zero.
Then as sudden as he changed, Clint roared this fake roar and took chase after his kids. Cooper and Lila both screamed back in a poor imitation of their father's roar. Laura chuckled as Clint drew closer to Lila (the slower of the two kids). He grabbed at her and faked missed her to give her a better chance of getting away.
"I'm gonna get you," Clint cried to the girl. Lila shouted again in faux fear before picking up the speed. Clint chuckled and followed after. It didn't take much longer for the group to arrive near Laura. Arrow stopped at the bottom step, knowing better than to jump on Laura at this point. But Cooper rushed up the steps.
"Save me!" the boy jokingly begged as he rushed behind his pregnant mother. Laura chuckled, watching as Lila came tripping up after Cooper.
"Help! He's gonna get me!" Lila added, rushing behind Laura's other side. Clint stopped at the bottom steps, for a moment looking at Laura with his hands out ready to get her rather than his kids. Laura, knowing that Clint knew all of her good tickle spots, held out a hand to stop him. Clint paused halfway up the stairs.
"Clinton Francis Barton, you tickle me and you better be ready and willing to fly that jet to a hospital," she threatened, figuring that a tickle fight right now would cause her to go into labor. Clint chuckled, covering his confusion of whether he'd be flying to the hospital for himself or for Laura if he went after her. Laura then smirked and Clint backed off, knowing what was going to happen next. "Course. I don't know why you two are hiding behind me."
Cooper and Lila had no time to register what Laura meant before she reached behind her and started tickling her children. Their screams of delight made the Braxton-Hicks that hit her totally worth it. Clint laughed at the plight of his children and the look of contentment on his wife's face. It felt good to finally be home. Even better knowing that he had a minimum of three months off from being an Avenger and missions. Not that Clint had had to worry about actual missions for a while.
About ten months ago, Natasha (aka Black Widow) and Steve (aka Captain America) exposed S.H.I.E.L.D as being overrun with Hydra agents. Thankfully, Clint had been on mandatory leave after trying to 'kill' himself by taking on too many mission in an effort to get over so many various issues in a short amount of time. While Laura had been pleased as punch having Clint home, she had also been rather upset that he was trying to commit suicide from a mission. It was the downside to S.H.I.E.L.D being destroyed, Fury wasn't in charge of the Avengers anymore. Now the person in charge of the Avengers was Maria Hill and she never was all that good about giving well deserved breaks. So, Clint's mandatory leave, which was supposed to last for four months, only lasted about two weeks.
Course it would be within that small amount of time that Clint got Laura pregnant again. It almost came as no surprise to either party but Laura was rather worried. Dealing with Cooper and Lila was easy and now she was adding a third? And worst, Clint didn't actually find out about the new baby until he nearly died on an Avenger's mission and came back home for a break. If she lost him, what would happen to her and the kids?
"Dad?" a soft spoken voice asked, knocking Clint out of his thoughts in surprise. Cooper was standing before him, looking worried. Arrow was rubbing his head into his hand. Having no idea what was going on, Clint quickly glanced around. Lila and Laura stood in the doorway, staring back at Clint and Cooper was actually holding Clint's right hand, partly tugging the archer in an effort to get his dad to follow. Arrow was on his right, whining pitifully. Shaking it off, Clint smiled to Cooper.
"Yeah, bud?" the archer replied, hoping his mental snafu could be ignored by the rest of the family. Cooper frowned at him along with Laura. So, no such luck on that. Arrow bumped his head into Clint's hand again and Clint absently patted the pup. Slowly, he finished walking up the steps till he was on the edge of the stairs.
"You... Okay?" Cooper wondered, sounding more worried about his father then any boy his age should be. Clint grinned, still trying to save face. Cooper looked unconvinced but a quick glance to his mother, and Cooper knew the subject would be dropped. But Clint could see that Laura would try to bring the matter up once more. Clint just kept grinning, trying hard to act like he didn't need this break more than the others assumed.
"Well, keep up old man," Laura joked, not knowing how that would affect the archer. Clint paled, hearing the joking tone of a young teenage boy rather than his wife. 'Keep up old man!' Then the sound of gunfire had the archer wince as his mind quickly got lost into the main reason he was now on leave again. Lost in his memories, Clint didn't notice his family reacting to his lost moment.
Arrow quickly huffed out a warning that Laura was getting more and more used too. Looking over Clint closer, Laura recognized the signs of Clint's own personal type of PTSD. She was quick to react. Gently, she pushed Lila further inside the house. Lila didn't protest, knowing that when Arrow barked in that way it meant danger. Cooper tensed, glancing to Arrow before looking back to his father. Slowly, Laura shifted closer to Cooper and Clint. She needed to get Cooper away from Clint before the archer accidentally turned violent.
There had only been one time that Laura ever saw Clint turn violent during a PTSD event without Natasha present to handle it. Laura ended up with a broken wrist and a couple of fractured ribs. Since that incident, Natasha taught Laura what to do. One of the main things, slowly back away and let Clint handle it alone. He'd find her after.
"Cooper," Laura softly called to her eldest child. Cooper, knowing something was drastically wrong, turned to look at his mother but didn't let go of his father's hand. Arrow whimpered and slowly backed away from Clint, going against normal training for a dog of his need. The pup looked between Clint and Cooper but knew there wasn't much he could do to help, so he just backed away. "Let go of your father's hand and slowly walk over to me."
Cooper nodded, not trusting his voice to be as calm and quiet as his mother's. He got as far as releasing his father's hand before Clint reacted. Faster than Laura could blink, Clint grabbed Cooper, pulled him to his chest and spun around so that his back was to Laura before tensely waiting for something to happen. Fearing the worst, Laura screamed and Cooper cried out in shock. Their combined cries made Clint jerk as if slapped but he didn't release Copper. It took Laura a few seconds before she realized that Clint wasn't hurting their son. Instead, it looked as though the archer was protecting the boy from whatever he was seeing in his mind.
"Mom?" Cooper questioned, using just as soft a voice as Laura had earlier. It amazingly didn't even sound that frightened even though he must have been terrified. For a boy so young, Cooper had an amazing ability to pick up on social cues.
"You okay?" Laura inquired, trying to get around to see Cooper without disturbing Clint. There was a pause in which Laura figured that Cooper tried to nod. Arrow whimpered, unsure what to do. The pup wanted to help but he knew that he couldn't until his master came out of his memories.
"Yeah. What's wrong with Dad?" the boy responded, more worried for his father than himself. Laura smiled, so much like his father that it hurt. She could almost even see Cooper in the full Hawkeye gear, out there fighting to protect the world from whatever new threats came in the future. As much as the idea of Cooper out superhero-ing like Clint terrified her, Laura had to admit that she would be proud of Cooper.
"I don't know yet, honey," Laura replied as a sudden shiver spread over Clint's body. It was the signal that he was coming out of his memories. Laura sighed in relief as Arrow yipped happily behind her. "Clint?"
"Huh?" the archer muttered, still not fully aware of what was going on. Then it hit him. He had come home. Snapping fully to awareness, Clint realized he was holding Cooper tight to his chest. Horrified he hurt the poor boy, Clint released him and scrambled back, falling down off the porch steps in the process as he hadn't been paying attention to where he was.
"DAD!" two voices cried over the sound of Arrow barking his worry.
"Clint!" Laura shouted, even as she moved to follow after him. But in his fear, Clint shuffled further away from them and it made her stop as she thought, maybe his PTSD wasn't over. Arrow stumbled down a few steps to move closer to his master but didn't get completely near him. When nothing further happened, Laura glanced at her two kids before focusing on her husband. Clint looked closed to tears as he gazed over his family, looking for something wrong. "Are you okay?"
"Did... Did I hurt anyone?" Clint mumbled, more worried about his loved ones then his now sore body. Cooper moved forward to help his father but Laura stopped him at Arrow's warning growl, waiting to see if Clint had pulled himself together. Arrow sniffed the air but still didn't get closer. Apparently, Clint was still on the verge of going back under.
"No, Dad. You didn't hurt me," the boy answered. Clint nodded before his worry turned to extreme guilt. Both Clint and Laura knew how badly that whole situation could have gone. Laura was thankful that it didn't and wasn't expecting it to happen again. But Clint knew that anything could set him off and it was frightening.
"I'm sorry," the archer started but paused, trying to figure out the right words to say to his wife. Laura, knowing where this was going, spun to face her kids. Cooper looked to her surprised but Lila, who was still in the doorway to the house, was focused on her father.
"Kids, go inside and get ready for dinner," the woman ordered in the space of Clint's silence. Her tone already showed her displeasure at what Clint was focused on. Clint looked away from his family and home, knowing he was in for a stern talking too.
"But Mom!" Cooper whined, wanting desperately to stay outside and help his father even though the poor boy had no idea how. Lila nodded but didn't move. She was beginning to shake in fear of what was happening. Normally when Clint had his PTSD moments, the girl was never around to witness it. This was the first one she had seen.
"Cooper," Laura warned, giving the boy her no nonsense tone. Cooper winced, getting rather used to this tone lately, before nodding and heading toward the door and his petrified sister.
"Come on, Lila," Cooper said as he slipped past the girl. Lila, still frightened of the whole situation, easily followed after her brother in hopes of being distracted. Arrow looked back and forth between the retreating kids and his master. With a huff, Arrow figured Laura had this covered and rushed after the kids in an effort to get some loving attention from the duo. Laura waited a few to make sure Cooper was actually following her command before focusing once again on Clint. But before she could speak, Clint did.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come. I told the others that this was a bad idea," Clint started not even giving a pause to let Laura respond or even really react. He continued spewing different statements about how he should leave and he didn't want to hurt anyone.
"Clint Barton!" Laura loudly interrupted. Clint winced as if slapped but stopped talking. He almost looked like a kicked dog, begging for forgiveness. Laura sighed knowing that that reaction came from years of abuse. While Clint never told her much about his past, she had picked up on enough to understand a little of what he went through. "What makes you think this is a mistake? You've had episodes before."
"I know," Clint mumbled, shifting to a more comfortable position on the ground. Laura frowned. She couldn't see his face anymore but could tell that he was internally beating himself up. Shaking her head, she slowly started to hobble down the steps. Clint glanced up at the creak of the wood and once seeing her coming down, he jumped to his feet and met her halfway, stopping her to help her sit down rather than walk down the rest of the stairs. Once she was down and comfortable, Clint went to back away but Laura pulled him into a hug. Clint tensed for a moment but then relaxed into the hug enough to hug her back.
"What happened to you? You've never returned from a mission like this," Laura commented softly as she started stroking Clint's head. Clint sighed deeply into his wife's chest as everything began to compile onto his mind again. It was true. Whenever Clint had a really bad mission before, normally he called her before going off somewhere with Natasha. He never came home messed up and if he ever had too, Natasha typically came as well.
"Have you... Watched the news at all?" Clint wondered, his voice slightly muffled by Laura's chest and stomach. Laura chuckled lightly at the fact that he didn't move. When he didn't chuckle back, Laura knew that this situation was serious. She shook her head before realizing that he couldn't see her.
"You know I don't like too when you are on a mission," Laura stated. Clint nodded into her chest. It was true. He had actually begged her not to watch the news when they first started dating. At the time, he didn't want her to put two and two together and report him for murder but now, she listened because she felt safer believing his missions went without a hitch, no matter how many times Fury, Coulson or Natasha called to report Clint was injured and or missing.
"My mission... My original mission was Loki's scepter... As you know," Clint began. Laura sighed. He was stalling. She pulled him off her chest to look into his face. His eyes focused on the ground rather than her. Laura shook her head. He was avoiding. She'd need to press him to get the answer she really wanted.
"You told me that. And about Ultron and those poor kids," Laura told him, noticing right away when Clint winced at the mention of the Maximoff twins. She frowned. Any mission that involved kids tended to always hit Clint the hardest. But Laura could tell there was something more to this one then the others. "What happened?"
"Ultron... He... He attacked their home... Sokovia. At this point, they had already realized their revenge on Tony was stupid and wanted to fix their mistake in helping Ultron," Clint started, skipping details like he normally would for her protection. Laura nodded, piecing together the few bits that Clint was telling her along with what he told her before. "We were all on the freaking city when Ultron lifted it into the air."
Laura gasped, stunned at what Clint said. Clint looked up toward the sky, away from his home. He was getting to the worse part and yet here Laura was, freaking out over the first bit. Would he be able to tell her the truth? Could she handle it?
"Oh my god!" Laura cried more worried that Clint was in this battle even though he was sitting beside her, safe and sound. Clint scoffed, lost in his memories of the battle. It was almost like by looking away from his home, he could see the whole event happen again.
"Cap ordered Wanda... The telepath twin, to get everyone to evacuate beforehand but... There were still a lot of people that got lifted with the battle. Thankfully, while we were dealing with the Iron Man Legion, turned into Ultron drones, Fury called for the Triskillion. We started using that to help people escape," Clint continued. Laura nodded. "Nearing the end of the evacuation, Cap ordered all the non-flyers like Nat, Pietro, him and me to leave as well. I boarded one of the boats when a woman started freaking out. Her kid was still in the city."
"Oh Clint," Laura sobbed thinking he tried to save this kid and failed. And if this was anything at all like she thought, Clint had pictured this child as one of his three kids.
"I spotted the kid... He was a good distance away but doable in the time constraints. So, I went after him. All I could picture was Cooper and that spurred me to go faster. I got the boy and started back when I heard a jet coming toward me. Looking to see what it was, I saw an Ultron... No, the Ultron, was flying it. He started shooting the guns while flying closer to the boy and me," Clint added. Laura gasped again.
"You protected that boy like you had Cooper," she realized. Clint paused to remember how he held both boys before nodding. Laura did another quick once over and saw no injuries or even scabs, scars or anything really. She was half tempted to feel his body for injuries but stopped. "But... You aren't hurt."
Clint shook his head, almost too afraid to speak. He had gotten hurt during that moment but Cho had fixed him before Steve told him to leave for the farm. Laura frowned, assuming that Clint shaking his head meant that he had visited Cho's machine before dying. She was going to have to have words with Steve about using Clint as that woman's test subject.
"As Ultron drew closer that Speedy Bastard... Pietro... He..." Clint couldn't finish. Laura gasped, drawing her hands to her mouth as tears formed in her eyes. She understood what happened now and why it was bothering him so much. "He just looked at me and said 'bet you didn't see that coming.' And... Damn him... Damn him for being right! DAMN IT!"
Laura winced as Clint jumped up from the stairs to walk the grounds. He continued screaming as he walked away until he suddenly dropped to his knees and began pounding the ground. Behind her, Arrow, Lila and Cooper rushed to the doorway, stunned at the sudden noise from their parents. Lila stood frozen, unsure what was going on and wondering why her mother wasn't yelling at her father for the bad language use. Cooper watched in silence as his father broke down and screamed and beat the ground as if it could change anything. Laura sat on the stairs, not knowing what to do as she unknowingly watched Clint dissolve into another PTSD moment. Arrow growled and blocked the kids from moving from the doorway, protecting the young family from his violent master.
"DAMN HIM! WHY!? Why did he do that? He hated me! Hated me the most! Even more than Tony! DAMN IT! WHY?" Clint shouted as he pummeled the ground. Laura quickly realized that he had gone into a PTSD moment, one that was much more violent than any she had seen before. One that she couldn't stop cause this was an event that needed someone to hold Clint tight and not let go. And there was no way she'd be able to do that. Suddenly a blur went flying past her as Cooper slipped by Arrow and his mother to get to his father's side.
"Dad! Stop!" Cooper cried even as he hugged his smaller frame around his distraught father. Clint instantly froze at the boy's touch, too stunned to move. Somehow the boy's actions stopped Clint faster than anyone had ever been able to do before. Almost like the archer understood an innocent was now holding him and he shouldn't fight. Laura couldn't help her sigh of relief even as she wobbled herself to her feet.
"Coop?" the archer questioned as he dropped into a normal frame of mind. Then, like before, Clint spun and grabbed his son. But unlike before, he hugged Cooper to him and started crying. Arrow moaned and rushed down the stairs, placing his head on Clint's shoulder. Lila was quick to follow and pulled her dad into her own hug. Laura stood on the stairs, watching in a surprised horror as this was one of the few times she had even seen Clint cry over something. The family sat there like that for over an hour as they listened to Clint cry and cry over the teen that scarified his life for him and a random child.
Hello all and thank you for following me in my continued adventures of making Clint Barton's life difficult. For all those who follow my previous adventures, Clint is Whom ended on a strange note. I had thought it was self explanatory what happened but apparently, many have not gotten what I wrote. I apologize. Now, I have an issue. There may be many readers who have not read that past story (though there are a few things in these next few chapters that may better be explained if you read it but not really needed), and so I cannot just readily post what happened. So, if you still do not understand and wish for an answer, you may either wait for later chapters in this story where I make mention to the incident or I can private message you after you review. Whichever you decide.
And now, for those who follow me you know I post about my family. Well, Little Clint has been going to an Early Learning Center and is doing much better all around. He is speaking well, listening to direction (as much as any child does) and doing good. The one main issue we are having with him is that he has a major attitude problem. He fights us on everything. We say 'go to the van' and he replies 'I don't go to van'. And as I type this he just suddenly screamed that he 'hates' one of the shows he just watched earlier this morning in enjoyment... Little Darius is starting to walk on his own, he can talk a total of about ten to fifteen words including names, hi and some phrases. He also has a bit of an attitude issue in he loves hitting, biting and scratching anyone who comes near or when he wants attention from whichever adult is near him.
Hubby is working three jobs and I've been trying to be a stay at home mom and it's amazing how little time I have to do anything. The house is always a mess, the kids barely let me go to the bathroom alone and the animals are demanding my attention the second I get a free moment. Between driving hubby around and dealing with the kids I typically am too tired to do anything. Not that I'm complaining. Would rather be a stay at home mom than pay a ridiculous amount of money to daycare. Honestly, I wish I did this sooner so that I would have been better prepared for dealing with two kids at home.
But that is it for now. Should be able to post later this week. Hopefully Friday or Saturday. Who knows. But for now, until next time, enjoy and please review.