It was Christmas Eve night. Kate and Clint walked through the city streets a bit aimlessly, but in the general direction of her apartment.
Kate's hand was trembling as she buzzed open the building door. It didn't escape Clint's notice although he didn't say anything. They hadn't really spoken at all since sitting in the ambulance. The weight of the night lay heavily between them.
Entering her apartment, the younger Hawkeye threw her coat, bow and quiver in the corner and headed down the hall without a word. Clint stood in the living room and wondered what he was supposed to do. Women and their emotions had never been his strong suit. He wished his wife was here to tell him what to do.
He thought it might be best to give Kate space for a bit before he left. Christmas morning was merely hours away and he had made a promise. He sat down in one of the chairs in the living room and just leaned back. It had been a long long week.
Shutting his eyes, it seemed like only moments before he opened them again. But the clock by the television told him it'd been over an hour. Groaning, Clint pulled himself to his feet, feeling he was getting much too old to be an Avenger anymore, and called down the hall for Kate. "You still here, Kate?"
No answer. He groaned again and started the walk down the hall to see if perhaps she was asleep as he had been. The bedroom door was partially open and he pushed it all the way open to find Kate sitting on the floor next to the bed, knees pulled to her chest, head on top. She didn't acknowledge him.
Clint felt his father heart melt a little at the sight. Her entire world and family were in shambles and what was he doing? Sleeping in a recliner, ignoring his partner. Great way support a partner. He'd known she wasn't doing as well as she claimed. How could she be, after finding out her mother had murdered someone and Kate had been the one to call the cops on her?
He lowered himself, carefully and slowly, to sit beside her. "I won't pretend everything is okay." He started off, unsure where he was going. "It's not and you've got every right to be upset."
Kate didn't even lift her head. Clint wondered if she was sleeping. "Okay, I'm just going to sit with you a while. If you wanna talk, we can talk, if you don't, we don't have to. Just, uh, we're going to have to get going soon."
"I have nowhere to go." Kate sounded muffled. "I just sent my mom to prison, remember?"
"Well, yeah, but you didn't make her choices, Kate. She did. Those choices are why she was arrested not your phone call. You did the right thing. That doesn't always mean the easy thing." Clint felt like he was reading off an encouragement card. He cleared his throat. "You aren't spending Christmas alone, not like this, not my partner."
She still didn't look up.
"In case you didn't get the message, that means you're coming home with me."
"Can't." She mumbled.
"You have, as you just pointed out, nowhere to go. So, I'm giving you somewhere to go. Can't promise much, but my wife will be there, the kids, it'll be fun." Clint briefly thought about what Laura was going to say when he came home with the kid in the ninja suit. He'd have to find time for a quick phone call before they reached the farm.
"Pizza Dog. And I can't just go butting in your family Christmas, Clint, it wouldn't be right." Kate finally raised her head. She'd clearly been crying but Clint didn't think it'd be wise to point that out.
"Okay, first of all, it's a farm. Pizza Dog will love being on a farm. Secondly, partners are like family. You can come butting in." Clint was pretty proud of his spur of the moment partner equals family mini speech. "Thirdly, I'm not leaving you here alone, especially at Christmas. Kate, we've been through too much together in the past week for me to do that to you."
"C'mon, you know you want to." He knew she was coming, even if he had to drag her kicking and screaming to Missouri.
"So, you want me to crash your family Christmas?" She still didn't look him in the eye.
"I do, Kate. I really do. Laura will love you, the kids will love you, Pizza Dog will love being on a farm, it'll be great." Clint tried to reassure her.
She sighed again, "Fine."
Clint leaned against the ticket counter. Getting to the airport had been easy, getting a ticket not so much. He was an Avenger. Kate Bishop was wealthy. Getting a plane ticket, even last minute at 3 AM on Christmas morning should've been a piece of cake. He had had no luck with the ticket agent.
Kate came up behind him, pushing him aside. "Hi! I'm Kate Bishop, of Bishop Security. You know, that really big security firm downtown, the one that has clintele from all over the world? So, here's the situation. This guy," she gestured to Clint, "needs to get home for Christmas. I gotta go with him and so does the dog. What can you offer us?"
The half asleep ticket agent told her the same thing he had told Clint, "No flights until dawn."
"Okay, fine. But can you get us on one of those dawn flights? Preferably into Kansas City, Missouri. Saint Louis or Des Moines would work too." Kate was far too chirpy for 3 AM in Clint's opinion.
The ticket agent sighed and clacked the keyboard for a few minutes. "Using Mr Barton's ticket credit that he already has and applying it towards two new tickets and a pet pass, I can get you both into Saint Louis on a 6:20 flight for a premium."
"No problem." Kate slid a black credit card across the counter to him. "Just use this."
Clint raised his eyebrows. "You've got some fancy cards, kid."
"I suppose I can have my credit cards back now." She shrugged as the ticket agent swiped the card.
"Very well. Your tickets are now printing." The ticket agent gave her back the card and the newly printed tickets.
"And thank you very much." Kate took the card and tickets, she gave one ticket to Clint. "See, not so hard, was it?"
"That fancy card spoke louder then anything else."
"Not sure how much longer I can use those. That one is linked to Bishop Security." Kate went quiet.
"One thing at a time, Kate. Today, we celebrate Christmas. Tomorrow, we figure things out." Clint told her.
They had three hours to kill before even being able to board their flight. Clint was exhausted yet somehow Kate was boucing along the terminal like she'd had her full eight hours of sleep and a Red Bull. She had actually had the Red Bull, Clint knew, he'd bought it for her. He had bought himself a coffee but it had not had the effect he was hoping for.
"Let's just sit a while, Kate. It's been a long night and I'm old." Clint gingerly lowered himself into a hard plastic chair. "Not to mention we still have a three hour flight and two hundred miles to drive."
"You're not that old." Kate scoffed as she sat in the chair next to him.
"I'm old enough." He leaned back against the wall.
Kate was quiet for a few minutes, long enough Clint thought he might be able to doze off. He wondered if he could slip his hearing aid out without her noticing.
"You've got three kids, right?"
"Yes. Cooper, Lila, Nathaniel. They'll love you." He did not open his eyes.
"Do they know I'm coming?"
"They will." He made a mental note to call Laura as soon as possible. She wouldn't mind too much, he didn't think. She was used to his strays by now. Nat, Wanda, now Kate and Lucky.
"I've never had siblings. Must be kind of nice to always have someone to talk to." Kate went on, Clint wasn't paying much attention any more. The terminal was warm and he was tired. She kept talking as he dozed off. It was going to be a long day that would end in his bed and he was more then grateful for that.
He woke suddenly to Kate jumping to her feet. It took a moment but he realized where he was quickly and reached for the bow that wasn't at his side.
She turned and laughed at him. "Seriously, Clint, your first instinct is to reach for a weapon?"
"It's been my experience that they're often necessary in my line of work." He grumbled at her. "Why'd you wake me up anyway?"
"I'm gonna get food. You want some? The cafe over there is opening, at last! I'm really glad because I'm starving. We never got dinner you know. " Kate was talkative as usual.
"No." Clint leaned back again and shut his eyes. He opened them again. "See if they've got bagels."
"Gotcha." She ran off.
He watched her go. He knew, all too well, everything was going to hit her soon and she'd crash, both physically and mentally.
6 AM finally came and the boarding calls started. Clint pulled himself to his feet once more and poked Kate, who was the one dozing now. "Kate, let's go. Time for the plane. You can sleep on the plane." He certainly planned to.
She squinted at him through half open eyes as he tugged her to her feet. "Your fancy card got us fancy seats, so we can board now." He helped her shrug her backpack on and picked up his own bag. "Where's your ticket?"
She pulled it out of her pocket and waved it at him. "Did you think I was going to lose it?"
"Did cross my mind." He prodded her along to the door. Showing their tickets to the attendant, they began the walk down to the plane.
Clint sank into the seat with a bit of joy. It certainly was more comfortable then the plastic chair he'd been sitting in for the past two hours.
"Never flown first class before?" Kate had taken the window seat and was watching him with amusement.
"I have, yes. There are some advantages to having Tony Stark as a friend."
"Thought the Avengers had their own plane."
"We did. More then one actually. Tony had, let's just say, Tony had style and he liked things a certain way."
"I met him once, you know. At one of my mom's fancy parties." Kate traced a doodle in the icy window.
"I did not know that. Yeah, he went to fancy parties a lot. Not really my thing unless I'm forced to. My wife, Laura, she makes me go to parties on occasion but nothing like a society shindig." Clint was surprised, it didn't sting as much as it usually did talking of his fallen friend.
"I was disappointed because you were supposed to be there too." She told him.
"Oh. Well. I'm not much of a hero, kid." He still couldn't understand why of all the Avengers, she had had to pick him. Not Natasha, the one most girls wanted to be, but him, the one with a stick and a string.
"You keep saying that." She settled back into her seat. "You don't give yourself enough credit." She gave him a look as she wrapped her oversize jacket around herself like a blanket.
He didn't say anything. They'd had similar conversations and every one had hit the same stalemate.