Note: Originally written to a prompt of future fic in which child of Clint and Natasha has to talk about her parents at Career Day.
This story features an original character (young daughter of Clint and Natasha), Hawkeye, Black Widow, and a brief appearance by Darcy, but only mentions of the rest of the Avengers. enjoy!
Traffic was terrible, as usual, as they headed for school.
"You have your talk ready, princess?" Dad turned from the front passenger seat and touched her knee.
"My pack of lies, you mean?" She patted her backpack. "Right here."
He groaned. "Sveta-"
"They're lies. But fine, yes, I know what to say. Mom is a police officer, which is at least sort of true, and you're an accountant." She heaved a put-upon sigh. "So boring."
"You can't tell the truth," Mom said from the driver's seat. "When you're older and can protect yourself better, but not yet."
Lana rolled her eyes. She had half-a-dozen uncles, including a couple of demigods and the Hulk, who would murder anyone who looked at her funny. She was probably the safest girl in all of New York, if not the world. "Da, in Soviet Russia, all girls wish boring life." Her mother winced at the terrible accent, and Lana folded her arms. "I get it."
"I think you'll find that being famous, or the daughter of the famous, isn't all it's cracked up to be, sweetheart. Stay anonymous and a regular girl as long as you can," Dad advised.
Her mom's eyes touched the rearview mirror to look at her. "You're growing up fast enough as it is."
"She'll be dating soon," Dad said, his expression a little wistful as he looked at Lana.
"Never," Mom declared, honking at someone slow in front of them.
"At least 'til you're thirty," Dad teased. "No boy can possibly be good enough."
"Well, I found an okay one," Mom returned and reached across to the passenger side, and Dad clasped her hand briefly. Lana pulled a face at the mushy stuff. But secretly she was kind of proud - so many of the kids at Lankershim had parents who hated each other; her parents had tried to kill each other long ago, but they still held hands.
Mom pulled up in front of the school. They were anonymous in the dark sedan - nobody could tell it was armored and full of gizmos from the outside. No one knew her parents were Avengers. It was a secret, 'for her safety' they said, because there were evil people who might want to kidnap her or something.
It sucked. What was the use of being the daughter of two Avengers if nobody knew about it? Aunt Darcy came to school events, but her parents were never, ever there, because someone might recognize them. Which saved her from them watching her flub her only two lines in the play last year, but was going to keep them from the spring concert where she was determined to dance perfectly.
But Svetlana Natalya Barton was Lana Richardson at school, and she was very tired of having no friends. She could never bring anyone home or go to a party, even though everyone at school had been background checked as if the freaking Mandarin might use a birthday party to come at the Avengers. (It had happened once, not the birthday party part, but the Mandarin had tried to come at the Avengers. She had vague memories of damage at the Tower, but Uncle Bruce hadn't been very impressed by the fight, so it couldn't have been that serious.)
The only kid who could come over to the Tower was Franklin Richards, and he was a giant dork who only liked video games. Plus he had superpowers. A while ago he'd trapped himself and Lana in this scary other dimension place, and only Uncle Loki had been able to rescue them. That had not made Lana's parents happy at all, even though he'd saved her life and been super nice. Afterward, at home, he'd made some gummy bears line dance to try to cheer her up. It had been awesome, and she still remembered the look on his face when she'd given him a hug.
But she hadn't seen Franklin since "the Incident." She heard Aunt Pepper say he'd been sent to boarding school in Westchester, which seemed kind of harsh when it had been an accident. She was glad the limit of her talent was that she could throw and shoot accurately. Except even there she had to pretend, because it might be suspicious if Lana Richardson was perfect at dodgeball.
"Have a fun day," Dad wished her.
"Darcy will pick you up," Mom said and she turned around to pin Lana with narrowed eyes. "Police officer and accountant for Career Day, Svetotchka."
Lana refused to squirm, heaved a another sigh, and muttered, "I know. Bye." She jumped to the curb and slammed the car door. She made sure to trudge up the steps sullenly, so they wouldn't suspect. At the main doors, with only a few minutes before the first bell, she turned back to watch the car pull away.
Then, her parents safely away, she straightened and walked into the school, grinning.
"Hey, Lana," said Cherie as Lana took her usual desk in the midst of all the chatter of the other students settling in for a regular day. "What's got you in a good mood?"
"Career Day." Lana smiled as she pulled out her fake notes about her parents' fake careers. She scrunched them into a tight wad and threw. The paper ball sailed into the trash can at the end of the row. Nothing but net.
When Ms Carson called her name later, Lana made her way to the front of class. She turned around with a photo clutched in one hand and cleared her throat, suddenly nervous. Maybe she shouldn't do this. Maybe her parents were right. If she did this, everyone would know and she couldn't take it back.
Then her eyes settled on Dylan and he was looking at Cherie, not at Lana. Lana lifted her chin and announced a little louder than she meant to, "I was supposed to tell you that my parents are a police officer and an accountant. That's a lie." Dylan's face snapped up to look her way, suddenly interested. God, he was so cute.
Her hands trembled a little. "My name is really Svetlana Barton. My parents are Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton, also known as Black Widow and Hawkeye. They're part of the Avengers and their job is saving the world. This is a picture of us if you don't believe me." She held it up, annoyed to see her hand was trembling. "Or maybe this is better proof, because I take after my dad." She grabbed a pencil off Ms Carson's desk and threw it. She didn't have to watch it to know it went straight into Abe Lincoln's nose on the opposite wall and buried itself there like an arrow. Score one for Hawkeye's daughter.
The other kids and Ms Carson watched it fly, and then slowly turned back around to stare at her like she'd just announced she was a Skrull. She tried to smile, feeling increasingly stupid and embarrassed, when no one said anything. "Um, okay. Any questions?"
"Your parents are Avengers? Seriously?" Blake demanded.
Then the whole place exploded into a forest of upraised hands and shouted questions: "Do you know Captain America?" "Have you been in space?" "Do you live at Stark Tower?" "Were you ever kidnapped?" "Do you have superpowers?"
She didn't have a chance to answer the questions with so many thrown at her until she couldn't hear herself think. Ms Carson eventually restored order, though she seemed as stunned as the others. "That… um, was quite something, Lana. I mean, Svetlana."
"Lana's fine," she interrupted.
"Lana." Ms Carson took a deep breath. "Wow. Well, I suppose it's not the first time we've had the children of famous people at our school or in my class, so we'll continue to treat Lana no differently. I do hope your parents can now attend the spring concert. I'm sure they'll enjoy watching you perform."
"I hope so, Ms Carson."
"All right then. Take your seat, Lana, and we'll go on to Bryant's presentation."
Lana felt a little bad for Bryant having to follow her as she headed for her desk, since the room was still buzzing and whispering. Anything he was going to say couldn't beat that, unless he was about to reveal his parents were supervillains, which she was pretty sure the background checks would've found.
She looked at Dylan, to see what he thought, if he was impressed. At first he was still staring, but when she caught his eyes, he looked away, seeming embarrassed.
"Seriously?" Cherie leaned closer and whispered, "You know that hot Captain America and you never said a word? Never invited me over?"
Hot? Lana thought about that for a moment. Uncle Steve was not hot. He was good-looking, okay, but not hot. That was gross. Besides, her friend drooling over someone who'd changed her diapers was freaky.
It was a little relief she could whisper back, "I'm not allowed to have people over."
"Oh, man, that sucks."
"Tell me about it."
Ms Carson took note of their conversation and gave them the evil eye, and Lana shut up. As the bell for lunch rang, Dylan gathered his stuff and was out the door before she could say anything.
Cherie saw what was up. "It's a bit much, y'know? I mean, the Avengers. Closest I've ever got is Iron Man flew by my window once, and you're, like, one of them. It's weird, if I think about it."
"Um, sorry, I guess." But then Blake was in her face asking questions and by the time she was out the door, she could tell word had spread. People side-eyed her, and suddenly half the school was saying 'hi' to her in the hall, when most of them had barely acknowledged her existence before. It was fun at first, then it got to be a drag, because the attention was for her parents and who she knew, not her. The girls were the worst, especially the older ones, who only wanted to find out if she'd seen her uncles naked.
"Oh, my god, no!" And okay, that wasn't true - she had seen Uncle Bruce naked after a transformation and that had been plenty, thank you very much. It had been almost as bad as that time she'd stumbled on her parents having sex on the couch. There were not enough sporks in the world to get that image out of her memory.
Her day was now officially the worst, because she had lots of new 'friends' but her actual friends didn't want to talk to her.
After school a crowd waited with her to see who picked her up. Aunt Darcy pulled up in the open-top Jeep and Lana had to smile a little as she heard people try to figure out who she was.
But Blake - figured it would be Blake - followed her down the steps and had poor enough social skills to ask, "Are you an Avenger, too? Which one are you?"
"I'm not -" Darcy started to answer then her eyes widened. "How the hell do you know that?" Then she looked at Lana and ordered, "You. Get in."
Lana sat in the front seat and the instant the door shut, Darcy peeled away, forcing her way into traffic. "You told them, didn't you?"
"It was career day. We were supposed to tell what our parents do. Mine save the world. Why can't I be proud about that?"
"Of course you can, if that was why you did it." Darcy slanted a look at her and then shook her head in mock despair. "You're in so much trouble, kiddo. Hope it was worth it."
It sucked to admit it probably wasn't. "It didn't go like I thought it would." Glumly, she stared at the people on the sidewalks as they nudged their way back to Avengers tower.
"You can drop me off outside, Auntie," she suggested.
"Oh, no, I can't. I know you, because you're exactly like me and you'd probably run away if I didn't march you upstairs," Darcy said, pulling out her fob to open the parking gate.
"I would not!" Lana protested. Though maybe... She was big enough to fit in one of the Iron Man suits now. But that was no good because Uncle Tony would bring her back, and that was only if JARVIS didn't rat her out in the first place. Maybe she could persuade Uncle Thor that she really, really needed to visit Asgard right now…
They went up to her floor and when the door opened, Mom was there, doing yoga on the floor, and Dad was at the kitchen counter tearing lettuce.
"We're back!" Darcy announced loudly and pushed Lana's shoulder to nudge her out of the elevator. "I'm going back downstairs. Good luck, kid." She disappeared as the doors shut, and Lana took two reluctant steps forward.
"'Good luck'? Why?" Mom unfolded herself to stand in one smooth motion that Lana always envied.
"Was school okay?" Dad asked in concern.
"School was fine." She let her backpack slide to the floor and then didn't know what to do with her hands. "And um." She nibbled at her lower lip, wondering if she could get away with not saying anything. But Darcy would check, and Lana didn't like to keep secrets - that was kind of the whole problem to begin with. "See, the thing is, Aunt Darcy found out I kind of… well," she took a deep breath and then let it all out as one word, "Isortoftoldmyclassyouweremyp arentsandAvengers."
They both stared at her, hopefully not understanding what she'd just muttered, but she wasn't that lucky. "You told them?" Dad asked.
"After we specifically told you not to?" Mom said. It was not a good sign that her voice got a little lower, as if she was about to break into either violence or Russian, or maybe Russian violence. Dad left the kitchen, so they could face Lana side by side, with nearly identical expressions and folded arms.
Then it got worse when Dad used the dreaded full name of imminent doom-and-grounding: "Svetlana Natalya Clintovna Barton, we told you that was dangerous!"
"Who knows?" Mom demanded, as if she might go around and assassinate everyone who'd found out.
"Well… my class, and then it kinda spread. Probably everyone in school by now." She looked down at the floor. "I'm sorry." She was, too, but not for telling, only for making everything awkward and upsetting her parents.
"That means they'll tell their parents and media will have it tonight," Dad said. "There'll be paparazzi tomorrow morning."
"Only if we let her go back to that school," Mom said. "I'm thinking maybe a week in Asgard while this blows over and we look for another school and establish a new cover identity."
Lana wanted the first, because a week in Asgard would be awesome; she was the only one of the whole family who hadn't been there yet. But she really, really didn't want to deal with another school or another name.
"Maybe we should send her to Westchester, after all," Dad suggested. That was where they'd sent Franklin.
Lana interrupted, "No, please, it'll be fine. They've dealt with famous people kids before at Lankershim. The mayor's son was there a few years back."
"The mayor's son doesn't have to deal with the possibility of supervillains kidnapping or killing him," Mom snapped.
Suddenly the years of resentment bubbled up and burst free. "Yeah, and the mayor's son doesn't have to deal with living a lie!" Lana shouted back. "It's not fair I get punished all the time because you're superheroes. I didn't ask for this, I don't want it, and I'm sick of not having any kind of life!"
She whirled around and ran for her bedroom. She slammed the door, locked it, and threw herself on the bed, furious tears running hot on her cheeks. She kicked off her shoes - one shoe hitting the lamp hard enough to send it crashing to the floor, and the other slamming the mirror, but without enough force to break it.
The tears stopped but left her hiccuping, and her nose running. She clutched Feathers, her stuffed pegasus that Uncle Thor had given her years ago. She hoped his story was true (not that he lied but he did tell stories), and there really were winged horses on Asgard and she would be able to ride one someday when she was bigger.
But she was never going to ride a pegasus on Asgard. She was never going to go see a movie with a friend like a normal person either. She was Rapunzel, stuck in this tower until she was old enough to escape.
Dad rapped on the door. "Svetlana?" She didn't answer and then the door knob rattled as he discovered it was locked. A few seconds later, he opened the door. It was so unfair - why did they bother having locks on this floor when her parents didn't pay attention to them anyway?
She turned over to face away from him, and he sat behind her on the bed. "Hey."
"Go away. I'm not talking to you."
He put a hand on her shoulder and she shrugged it off. "Is that what you really feel, princess? That you're being punished?"
She thought about holding to the silent treatment but muttered, "I know you just want me safe. But I can't bring friends over. I can't go to their place, or out to a movie. I can't talk about you." She twisted to sit up, sniffling and swiping her drippy nose with the back of her hand. "Some people at school thought I was lying about having parents at all; they said I was an orphan living with Aunt Darcy because she's the only one anybody ever sees. And I just… " she hugged her knees, Feathers still clutched in one hand. "I wanted them to know you're real. That you're awesome."
"Thanks," he said, sounding surprised and a little amused. "Even if I know you're buttering me up." He handed her a tissue so she could blow her nose. Settling his hand on her hair, he stroked it until she leaned into him and was soon gathered against his chest. She had the vague thought that she was too old for this, but it was cozy there.
"You're right," he murmured. "You shouldn't have to live a double life because of us, and you deserve a chance to grow up more normally than we've been letting you. Everything's going to be changing pretty soon anyway: Nat and I have been talking, and we've decided that it's probably time I pull out of the field."
Lana took that in and sat up to look at him, incredulous. "You're going to take a desk job?"
"Something like that." He gave her that wry grin of his that crinkled his eyes. "I'm not as young as I used to be, pumpkin, and I won't be the dad who gets himself killed because I'm too stubborn to realize I'm not indestructible. I want to watch you grow up." His fingertips were rough but familiar and gentle on her cheek. She realized for the first time that his hair was silvery, and those crinkles at the corners of his eyes didn't totally go away. Her stomach went all tight and achy at the thought that he was getting old.
He said, "We still have to consider your safety, but I think we can figure out some new rules that won't make you feel like a prisoner. Or at least less like one. Deal?"
"Deal. Maybe I could go to school in Asgard?" she suggested, only half-seriously, but that would be cool enough to make up for all the rest of it.
He laughed and kissed her head. "We'll see. No promises on that one. Now come on out. Your mom's kicking things in the studio, so you should go make it up to her before she breaks something Tony will complain about."
Lana snickered and blew her nose again, nodding. "Fair enough."
On the way to the door, she threw the tissue into the trashcan over her shoulder without looking, and he ruffled her hair. "Nice. But you're still grounded, young lady."
She heaved a sigh but didn't complain, since she knew she deserved it. "How long?"
"What? That's so unfair!" She rounded on him, fists balled, to complain about that. Her mouth opened and then she saw the barely hidden smile and the twinkle in his eye.
The smile widened. "Gotcha, princess."
She punched him in the side and his dramatic wince made them both laugh. They nudged each other down the hall to the workout studio. The door stood open and Lana looked from her mom, still so beautiful and deadly beating up the bag, to her dad, tough and strong but with kind eyes when he looked on his wife and daughter.
Lana smiled, feeling glad she'd told her classmates the truth. Her parents were awesome, and it was time her friends knew that.