Notes: This story borrows selectively from the comicsverse mythos, particularly as related to Hawkeye. You don't have to have read the comics to read this story; I've only borrowed a few facts from his childhood, anyway. All you need to know is that in the comics, Clint was an orphan, and spent a good portion of his youth under the tutelage of a twisted bastard.


STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

- I -


"Whoa, so this is the place? The place. Wow. Superhero Central. Hey, you guys got a coffee machine?" And then, Clint catches sight of Natasha Romanov - Black Widow, Jesus fucking Christ, Black Widow - walking - no, slinking - down the hall - in leather- and - yeah. His brain is hyphenating. "I mean, you've got your very own dominatrix, so a coffee machine is, like, a piece of cake. Right?"

"Mr. Barton," says Secret Agent Man, who probably won't be thrilled if Clint tells him that he's exactly the type Clint likes in his Daddy porn, "you're advised to stay away from the coffee machine."

"Why?"

"It's a watering hole."

It takes Clint a second to process that without making stupid sex jokes. "And it's where helpless young wildebeests get eaten by waiting lions? Or something?"

"Precisely."

"Er. And I'm the wildebeest?"

"Yes."

"Hey, if Black Widow wants to take a bite outta me, she's totally welcome to it. Do I need to slather myself in pig's blood? Politician's blood? Russian separatist's blood? What?"

Agent Coulson - that's his name - looks pained. "Perhaps you'll fit right in."

"You make that sound like a bad thing."

"Oh, trust me," says Coulson. "When you're in a madhouse? It is."

"Dude, I've spent most of my childhood in a circus, learning to be a master archer from a guy that ended up shooting me in the shoulder and becoming a supervillain. I don't think you can get any weirder than that."

"You can," Coulson murmurs, with absolute certainty and grim determination. "Believe me. You can."

And then, they're in some sort of meeting room, mostly because it has a round table and seductively ergonomic chairs (thechairs are like supermodels in this place, how awesome is that?), and there are people in those chairs, and those people are -

They're -

Okay, so maybe 'people' is an understatement -

One of them is a Norse god -

Another is a resurrected super-soldier who was recently buried in ice -

Clint's brain is hyphenating. Again.

"Yo, kid," says Tony Stark, lounging with his legs up on the table and somehow undiminished in stature, even out of his armor. The man's got presence. Which, considering he's in the same room as a Norse god, is saying something. "Hear you're new to the team. Except that there is no team. Because there is no 'me' in team. But you're welcome to it, anyway. Coffee?"

"Oh, god, yes," Clint blurts, before he can help it. Stark snickers.

"Go get it, then. And get some for me, too. Just milk; no sugar."

"I - I don't really know where the coffee machine is," Clint says, "yet."

Agent Coulson lays a hand on his shoulder. "Mr. Barton. You are not here to act as a bullied younger brother or a page-boy. You are here as an equal member of the team. You don't have to fetch anyone coffee."

"Hey! The kid's thirteen!"

"Seventeen," Clint mutters, but Stark ignores him.

"What else is he gonna do? He'll make the perfect gopher. Like Dummy, but with two arms that actually work."

"He isn't a substitute for a pet robot of yours that you can't even be bothered to repair, Mr. Stark." Coulson's patience must be like the best kind of mozarella; it just keeps stretching. "I repeat. Mr. Barton is a team member. He will be treated as a team member. He will train as a team member. He will have your respect. As a team member."

Stark snorts, like his respect towards his other team members is kind of lacking, anyway, and across the table, Captain America - freaking Captain America - scowls. Clint gapes, because he's seriously never seen that expression on Steve Rogers' face, before. All the magazines and TV interviews always show him smiling this angelic smile, but right now, the Friendliest Superhero of the Year looks like he wants nothing more than to kick Iron Man under the table.

This whole join-the-Avengers-Initiative thing is gonna take a whole lot of reality adjustment. Clint can see that already.

"Our sentinel and guide is correct, Man of Iron," says Thor. He isn't shouting, or anything, but his voice booms, anyway. Like, an actual sonic boom. Clint's ears just popped. "A young warrior must be instructed thoroughly in the arts of war, both tactical and tactile."

"T-tactile?" Clint gets the feeling that his eyes are huge. Very, very huge.

"He means sparring," Steve Rogers says, and there it is, that charming little smile, self-deprecating and slightly apologetic. "Don't worry about it. He'll go easy on you until you're ready for more."

"Ready for more? Oh, Steve, darling, talk dirty to me," Stark drawls, and Steve shoots him another glare.

Clint isn't sure why Steve Rogers is 'Steve' and Tony Stark is just 'Stark', but, well. Must be that smile. Also, Clint can't be certain whether Steve and Stark are flirting or whether they honestly hate each other, or both, so he's going to classify Steve's glares as non-glares, for the time being.

"Where's, um. I just saw Black Widow down the hall, but - "

"Oh, Nat?" Stark tosses what looks like a spare machine part into the air, and catches it. "She's on a mission. You'll meet her later. And Bruce is down at his lab. Tinkering." Stark makes this voodoo-like gesture with his fingers that may signify sinister biotech experiments. Or a few interesting positions from the Kama Sutra.

"Okay," says Clint, because - what can he say, really? He's out of his depth, and these are real live superheroes who've battled hostile alien hordes, and all Clint's done is survive an orphanage and a supervillain mentor. Well, okay, so he had stopped that school from exploding by shooting a leotard-clad terrorist in the eye, but that's about it. The terrorist wasn't even a moving target. Clint's so woefully inadequate, it isn't even funny.

Maybe Agent Coulson senses that he's feeling kind of down - not that Clint's letting it show, he doesn't think - because the hand on his shoulder tightens, briefly, and Clint realizes that Coulson hadn't actually let go.

"Come with me," he says, quietly, and steers Clint out of the room.

"Coffee machine's two doors down and to the left!" Stark calls out after him, and there's a thunk that probably means Steve didkick him under the table, because Stark hisses: "Ow! What was that for? I was just being nice!"

"Don't mind him, Clint," says Steve, blue eyes crinkling. "We'll see you later."

"I, too, will spar with you at a later hour, comrade," Thor declares. "It will be an honor to instruct such a gifted young warrior, and to learn from him, in return."

Clint mumbles - something polite and generic - and then they're out, Coulson guiding him towards what turns out to be a room just off the hallway, an - an apartment, Jesus, it's even got it's own kitchenette. And there's a fridge. And a. A couch. And a TV. And a desk. And a cupboard. And a large, open wall-display with hooks and holders for bows and arrows.

He just stands there, staring, feeling oddly out of breath.

He keeps blinking.

He -

"This is your home," says Coulson, and there's this gentleness in his voice that would gall at any other moment, but at thismoment, it just makes Clint swallow. Hard. And blink some more. "I understand that you… may not have had one, before. But this is your home, now. The Avengers - lunatics that they often are - are your family. But as they say," he continues, dryly, "you can't choose your family."

"Are you my family?" The words come from nowhere, and Clint wishes he could yank them back into his mouth, but you can't unsend a goddamn text message and Clint sure as hell can't take that back.

Coulson stares at him. His eyes are wide, and - and they're blue, too, Clint notices, except that they're a quieter blue, a steadier blue, than Steve's. They make Clint think of that nursery rhyme Mrs. Rodriguez used to sing to the little ones, back at the orphanage. (Something borrowed, something blue.) The blue of worn, familiar things. Things you never lose; that never turn away from you.

"Um," says Clint, dizzy and flushed - with shame, or - or want, he doesn't know. "Never mind. That was just - "

"No," says Coulson, and shakes his head, and touches Clint's shoulder again. No one's ever touched Clint so often in such a short period of time. It's like overload. Sensory overload. "I mean, yes. I - " Coulson clears his throat, and quirks his mouth. "I am your family. I… I am."

Weirdly enough, it's the fact that Coulson looks genuinely surprised at himself that convinces Clint; people don't usually look like that when they're lying, or when they're just trying to be nice. "Okay," says Clint, mindlessly, except that he's sort of still looking at the mouth Coulson just quirked - just as soft and worn as his eyes - and Clint jerks his gaze away when he realizes what he's doing. "Uh. That's great." Clint's tongue feels strange, plastic. He's never understood why people say, 'tongued tied up in knots,' but, damn. He gets it now. "Thanks, Agent Coulson."

Coulson lets go of him. "Call me Phil." He points at the wall-display. "You'll be getting even more bows and arrows to put on there, once Mr. Stark and and the people in Weapons Development start customizing weaponry to your needs. The training simulations will help with that."

"Was the - wasn't it okay to keep my weapons in the, the armory, or something? There's an armory, right?"

Agent Coulson - Phil, his name is Phil, how old is he, is he married, no, wait, he isn't wearing a ring, does he have a girlfriend, does he have a boyfriend, stop spazzing, Barton - nods. "Sure, there is. I just… I thought you'd like having your all things in your room." He tilts his head. "Was I wrong? I'd be happy to remove the display, if you - "

"No," says Clint, quickly. "No, that's. I do like it this way. I guess I just - didn't expect it, that's all."

"To have things the way you like them?"

Crap, can he be more lame? "Yeah," Clint answers, and scuffs his shoe. He tries not to think about the fact that Phil apparentlypersonally designed Clint's room, because if he does, he's going to start jerking off. Pretty much immediately. Thinking about how Phil's touched things, in here. Ran one of those calm, steady hands along the wall-display. Along the very hooks Clint's gonna hang his quivers on. It just - it makes him jolt, deep inside, makes something warm and uneasy and hungry wake up and take notice.

But Phil just smiles. "Get used to it," he says, but suddenly, his voice turns stern and his eyes narrow, and Clint's shoulders snap straight in automatic attention. "That doesn't give you leave to use your weapons in a reckless manner that will place you or your teammates in danger. Are we clear?"

"Yes, sir. Phil," he corrects, when he hears what he's just said.

"No, you're right. I'm 'sir' on missions or in command situations."

Not 'Daddy'? Clint doesn't ask, though he sorely wants to. Just. Calling Phil 'sir' is sort of giving him a boner. Then again,everything about Phil is most definitely giving him a boner. Possibly he has a problem. A problem that'll become an even bigger problem if Phil doesn't leave ASAP and give Clint some time alone with his left hand.

Maybe some of his desperation makes it onto his face, and maybe (hopefully) Phil just thinks he's tired, or something, because Phil pats him on the shoulder one last time. "I'll leave you to get settled, then. Your clothes are in the wardrobe. If you need anything, just use the comm panel to call Services. My number's on there, too."

Phil's number. Phil's number is on there. Phil wants Clint to know that his number is on there.

"Yeah," says Clint, weakly, praying desperately that his hard-on isn't obvious in his cargo pants. "Bye."

Phil raises an eyebrow, like he can tell something isn't quite right with Clint, but not exactly what isn't right, thank god. "Goodbye," he says, and then he's gone.

Clint closes the door behind him. Carefully.

And promptly shoves his hand down his pants.

It's - it's not his fault. So sue him, he's got Daddy issues, every shrink from Iowa to Manhattan thinks he has Daddy issues, he's an orphan, okay? But this isn't even about that - or not as much about that as it could be - because Phil's so beyond perfect in every possible way that Clint might have to sew an ice-pack onto his dick whenever Phil's around, just to keep from popping random boners.

Just. Those eyes. With the little crow-feet at their corners. Those hands, so kind and - and kind. That voice, and the way it can be low and tender one minute and so flawlessly stern the next, Daddy-stern, damn it, and now, Clint's coming, with one hand flying on his dick and the other clenched on his shoulder, where Phil had touched him -

Would Phil ever push him down -

Fuck -

Damn.

Damn, he's stained his cargo pants.

Clint experiences about four minutes of sheer, blind panic as he tries to figure out what the hell happens to the laundry, around here - he doesn't want anyone seeing his come-stained clothing, even if it's one of Stark's creepy cleaning robots - but after hobbling around his new apartment with his pants around his knees, he finally discovers the automated washing-machine-and-dryer combo hidden in his wardrobe, and breathes a sigh of relief.

This place really does have everything.

Except Clint's self-control. That? Left the building at approximately the same moment Phil Coulson walked in.

But Clint's going to have to behave himself. He's going to do this right, because he has to earn his place, here, and because, no matter what Phil says, it isn't his home. Yet. Maybe it will be, once he's pulled his own weight on a few important missions, but until then, he's going to be the resident baby duckling, waddling along uselessly behind the big guys, trying to do with a piddly bow-and-arrow what Thor, the Creator of Thunder and Lightning, can do with his supernatural Hammer of the Gods.

Yeah, no.

He's just going to do what he can do, and he'll be the best at it. No point in anything being anything less. He can't get kicked out of here. Can't - won't - tolerate an expression of pity, of disappointment, on anyone's face. Especially Phil's. He knows that Phil's the one who brought him in, the one who recruited him, the one who stands to lose credibility if Clint screws up.

So he can't screw up. Or just plain screw. He can't. And if Phil's shoulders make Clint want to climb him, he's just going to have to ignore that, and if Phil's hands make Clint want to lick their palms and wrap them around himself, he's going to have to ignore that, too.

He's here to do a job. He's here to save people. And he knows, after a lifetime of being one of the people who needed saving, just what an important job that is.

Phil saved him from that life. Clint's going to pay him back.

He walks to the window and leans his forehead against it. Cool glass. Thick glass, probably bullet-proof and missile-proof, but he can still see the city beyond it, stretching out around the Avengers Mansion, beautiful and and filled with light, with every kind of hope there is, despite the number of times it's been burned. The number of times it's been razed to the ground.

The city's a lot like Clint, come to think of it. And if it can keep on hoping, Clint can keep hoping, too.