Disclaimer: I do not own the Avengers or any of the characters affiliated with them. If I did, there would totally be a Hawkeye/Black Widow movie in the works.
Author's Note: While I embrace constructive criticism, remember this old saying if you choose to leave a review "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"
So sorry it's been so long! Life's been crazy...I've been fighting off illness all week :( Good news is that you're getting "Year Five" bad news is that "Croatia" isn't ready yet :(
This is the fifth in a series of one-shots in my "Vantage Point Universe", which is an Avengers universe centered around the character Clint Barton. It has six completed stories and four other one-shots. Here's a brief rundown of the universe so far:
Clint Barton was 18 when he was recruited by Phil Coulson into SHIELD. After that, Phil worked patiently and tirelessly to gain Clint's trust and eventually the two formed a deep bond of trust that became the basis for the brotherhood the two would share for the next nine years until Phil was killed. Several years after coming to SHIELD, Clint was sent to France for a mission and eventually after Natasha Romanoff, who he eventually recruited. The two assassins were officially partnered a year later, and would work together for the following two years. A mission in Vietnam changed the nature of Barton and Romanoff's partnership when the two began a romantic relationship during the events of that mission. Director Fury subsequently split up their partnership, claiming it was for other reasons. A mission in Budapest went horribly wrong. The cause was later revealed to be a betrayal from an unexpected place. After the events of "The Avengers", Clint Barton struggled to deal with the death of his handler and the return of a former Army unit mate with a thirst for revenge. Clint eventually started to build relationships with his team mates, and eventually built a solid friendship with Tony during the disastrous events of a mission in South Africa. Months later, after Natasha was reported killed in action, Clint temporarily left SHIELD to seek revenge.
I have gained two awesome betas...Kylen (who is pure awesomeness) is not only going over my old work and helping me with revisions but beta-ing (?) Croatia for me and looked over this too! And also chibi-ringo who is also checking over old work to help with grammatical errors :) Thanks to both of them! That being said, "Vantage Point" is the first one that's going to be getting revisions...Yay! :)
Thanks to all who reviewed "Year Four": ChokkaBlockk, Panther Moon, Guest, VoldieBeth, Splitbeak, Sam Mayer, viressiel, bookworm1517, CyanB, Brandi Golightly, Shanynde, TheNightFury, Shannon K, discordchick, ladygris, Reteka Hyuuga, Susan M. M, animexluva13, Cara, Fyroni, TheNaggingCube, Drake.12, ArabianForest, snitch-bewitch, authorunable, xx-Forever Yours-xx, jacedesbff, Dani9513, Tsukinoko1, Emiliana Keladry, rae, Qweb, Anon, Leo-firefly, and AlwaysABrandNewDay
Direction is more important than speed. We are so busy looking at our speedometers that we forget the milestones. -Unknown
Relaxed. That was the first word that came to mind when Phil eased back to consciousness. He hadn't felt this relaxed as he returned to the waking world in a long time. He stretched, feeling the satisfying pull of his muscles. He took a moment to just lie in his bed, embracing the feeling of contentment he was feeling at the moment.
With a sigh he pushed himself up into a seated position, swinging his legs around to press his feet into the cool tile floor. He stretched again, squinting at the sunlight spilling in through the break in his curtains. He reached for a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, pulling both on before padding to the bedroom door with bare feet.
He pulled the door open and went out into the large living space of the beach house they were currently residing in. It had taken the pulling of some serious strings to get a set up like this for a mission that wasn't really a mission, but more of a short meeting with a contact that they'd wrapped up their first day on the island.
That was two days ago.
Coulson made his way over to Clint's bedroom door, cracked open about two inches, and pushed it silently open. Clint was sprawled out on his back, one arm thrown over his stomach and the other tucked under his pillow. His breathing was deep and even and his expression was peaceful. Satisfied, Phil pulled the door back to its original position and moved to Natasha's door. He didn't push this one open. For one, it was fully closed and he knew the assassin would know the moment he opened it. On top of that, he and Natasha weren't to the point where he could just come into her personal space.
So instead, he pressed his ear to the door, listening closely. A few moments later he was able to zero in on her steady, soft breathing and deduced that she too was sleeping peacefully. He backed away from her door and moved to the large door at the front of the room.
He pushed it open, sighing in satisfaction at the view of the white sand and crystal blue water. He left the door open and headed to the large open kitchen. The kitchen, and its professional-grade equipment, had been one of Clint's favorite features when they'd arrived three days ago. Coulson had only touched the coffee pot.
It was all he touched now.
He heard Clint's door pull open just as he was pouring the fresh coffee into two cups. He started scooping sugar into one of them even as he glanced over his shoulder and watched Clint shuffle out into the living room, bare foot and bare-chested with athletic shorts hanging low on his hips and a t-shirt dangling from his hand.
"Morning," Phil greeted with a warm smile.
Clint smiled a sleepy greeting, rubbing his eyes.
"Coffee?" Phil held the cup that he'd added cream and sugar to out in offering.
"Gimme," Clint shuffled closer, taking the cup and starting to bring it to his mouth.
Clint froze, frowned and set the cup on the counter reluctantly. He pulled his t-shirt over his head and threaded his arms through its sleeves, then took the coffee cup again and nodded towards the open front door. Coulson nodded and together they made their way to the front porch, sitting in individual identical wicker rocking chairs.
"God, I love it here," Clint sighed, inhaling the salty ocean air and propping his feet up on the porch railing. He sipped his coffee carefully and Coulson did the same, rocking his chair slightly.
"It's something else, isn't it?"
"It's quiet. I feel like we never have quiet anymore."
Phil knew that wasn't exactly true, but he understood the sentiment. He knew for a fact that Clint sought out the quiet of the SHIELD base rooftop on a regular basis. They were reaching the end of an incredibly busy year, though. Clint and Natasha had proved to be the most effective covert team in the entire SHIELD network, maybe in the history of the organization. As a result they'd been in and out of the base with barely enough time to breath between assignments.
They'd all felt the strain eventually and that had gone a long way in Coulson convincing Fury this "mission" was necessary. Fury had agreed with less reluctance than Phil had expected. The Director had ended up just nodding and agreeing that they'd had a long year and this mission was right up their alley. Coulson had been relieved by the easy capitulation, but not entirely surprised. After giving Clint the cold shoulder for a little over a year after the incident in France, Fury and the archer had come to an understanding. Clint hadn't told him what words were exchanged but to say he and the Director were good now.
"Remind me to take you to Cape Town one of these days. That place is amazing," Clint commented idly as he sipped his coffee.
"I've heard that," Phil agreed. "We'll make it happen one day."
Clint rested his head back on the back of his rocker and sighed. This was nice. Just sitting and existing. A perfect way to start the day that marked the fifth year since Phil had kicked his ass across that alley in Vienna. A perfect way to recover from the hectic, nonstop year they'd had.
Two nights of sleeping as long as he wanted to and Clint still felt exhausted. It had been a long ass year. It had its high points though. Natasha actually talked to him now, that was something. He'd even started getting a small grin when he said something particularly funny. They'd turned out to be a deadly team. The kind of team he imagined came when you took an unstoppable force and an immovable object and made them combine instead of collide.
That newly discovered compatibility had made them the most demanded covert team in the SHIELD network. Clint couldn't remember the last time they'd gone more than a week without getting a new assignment except once. That time they'd both been on the injured list. Clint had taken a bad fall from a two-story rooftop and somehow managed to dislocate his shoulder. He still insisted he had jumped and just landed badly. Natasha had gotten her bell rung and walked/stumbled away with a serious concussion.
The frequency of their mission assignments had exhausted all three of them. This trip had been exactly what they'd needed to recoup.
Clint found himself smiling when he thought about how many strings Phil had probably pulled to get them this house with its three bedrooms, two bathrooms, professional grade kitchen, and beach front view.
"What?" Phil asked, wondering about the smile.
"Just thinking about this house and how many favors you had to call in to get it."
"More than I should have," Phil laughed. "But it's worth it. We all needed it."
"Won't argue there." Clint nodded in agreement.
Clint shifted suddenly, rising from his rocker.
"I'm gonna refill. Want some more?"
Phil shook his head negatively and relaxed back against his rocker back as Clint made his way back inside. He returned a few moments later with two cups of coffee instead of just one. Phil arched a questioning eyebrow that Clint decidedly ignored.
He sat back in his rocker and rested the second cup on the floor of the porch.
"You know you're supposed to rock rocking chairs," Phil commented as he watched Clint slouch in the rocker and prop his feet on the porch rail again.
"I'm rocking." Clint used his feet to slightly shift the chair for a few seconds before stilling again.
Phil rolled his eyes and sipped his coffee.
They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes and then Phil turned his head when he felt a presence over his shoulder. Natasha smiled slightly in greeting as she finished tying off the end of a long loose braid.
Phil realized the reason for the second cup when Clint suddenly held it out. Natasha accepted it without comment and eased down to sit on the top of the three-step staircase that led from the porch to the sand.
"So, Romanoff, got any plans for the day?" Clint asked curiously.
"I have an old contact that I'm going to meet up with," she answered with an ease born of fielding questions from Clint for almost a year now. He nodded.
"What about us, Phil? What's the plan?"
"That's a surprise."
"But I want to know now."
"You'll tell me?" Clint's eyebrows rose in surprise.
Clint's eyebrows dropped.
"I was going to let you pick what I cooked for dinner, but no sir, not anymore."
Natasha listened to the exchange with a curious curve to her lips.
"That seems like a rash reaction, Clint." Phil frowned in what she thought may actually be a petulant fashion.
"So does not telling me where we're going."
"That wasn't a reaction, Clint. That was a well thought-out decision."
Natasha hid a grin behind taking a sip from her coffee. It was perfect, just a hint of cream, just the way she liked it.
"Why is today so important to you two?" she asked when it seemed like Clint was just going to glare at his handler instead of respond.
Clint carried on his glaring, even though the grin on his face took all real heat out of it, so Coulson was the one that answered.
"Today is the five-year anniversary of when I recruited Clint to SHIELD."
Understanding dawned on her and she nodded. It was no surprise to her that they celebrated that day. It was obvious to her, even though Clint never talked about it one way or another, that his relationship with Phil was the most important thing in his life. Today was the anniversary of the day that relationship started and she figured that was what they were really celebrating.
"Wow," Clint breathed as he stared at the waterfall in front of them.
"Yeah," Phil agreed.
"What's this place called?" the archer asked as he moved closer.
"The Seven Sacred Pools."
"Come on," Clint urged, heading towards mid-century bridge 75 feet above the highest pool. It took them several minutes to climb/hike their way up to the bridge. Clint was already tossing down his backpack and shucking his shoes.
"What are you doing?"
But Phil already knew what he was doing. The look Clint shot him said that he knew Coulson knew. Clint hopped up onto the bridge rail and shot a grin at Phil.
Then he jumped.
Coulson leaned quickly over the edge to assure that Clint had landed alright. He was greeted with the sight of the splash Clint had created. A moment later his agent broke the surface, laughing loudly.
"Jump!" Clint demanded.
"Awe, come on, Phil! Where's your sense of adventure?"
"You have more than enough of that for both of us!" Phil assured.
"Phil! Don't make me come up there and push you!"
Phil rolled his eyes. Clint would too. He shucked his own backpack and toed off his shoes.
"Why do I let him talk me into these types of things?"
Before Clint could say anything else, he pushed off the bridge. The fall was heart stopping and exhilarating and amazing. When he broke the surface, he was smiling.
"Did you ever do anything fun before I came along?" Clint smiled widely.
"I think we have different definitions of fun," Phil laughed.
Clint laughed too.
"Can't really argue with that at the moment." Phil shrugged as much as was possible when treading water.
"I'm glad you jumped…"
Phil knew there was a 'but' coming before Clint said it.
"But I really wanted to climb back up and push you."
Phil shook his head as they moved back to the edge of the pool. He wasn't surprised by that at all.
"Stir, Phil, stir," Clint instructed as he worked to brown beef in a frying pan. Phil dutifully continued to stir a white mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.
"Mixed enough?" he asked a few moments later.
Clint eyed it critically and then nodded.
"Okay, I'll be right back."
Clint didn't have a chance to ask where he was going before he was gone. He didn't have to wait long, though, because Phil came back into the room with a long package, wrapped in brown paper. He held it out to Clint who was already trying to fight back a grin.
"Open it," Phil urged.
Clint didn't need to be told twice. He tore open the paper and his eyes widened in awe.
"This is beautiful," he breathed as he took the knife in his hand.
"I got it off a South African a few months ago, so it's second hand. But it was too beautiful a weapon to pass up."
"Phil, you could have gotten it off of Hitler himself and I'd still want it. Thank you," Clint assured with a smile.
Clint didn't give Phil a chance to tell him he shouldn't have gotten him anything. He pulled something from the back pocket of his cargo shorts and handed it over.
"Holy shit." Phil gaped at the Captain America vintage trading card.
"I will not tell you what I had to do to get that."
Phil laughed, feeling something on the back and flipping it over. He felt a swell of emotion at the sticky note stuck to the reverse side of the card, Clint's familiar scrawl showing a short simple message:
Phil, here's to five years. This is for everything I can and can't thank you for. Now you're one step closer to a full set. –Clint
Leave it to Clint to inspire such a strong emotional reaction with a sticky note.
"Thank you," Phil offered sincerely.
Clint smiled just as sincerely and nodded once.
Coulson leaned on the counter, admiring his new card with a wide grin. Clint tested the balance of the knife in his left hand, smirking in appreciation as he shifted the meat in the frying pan with a spatula.
Natasha could smell it the moment she stepped foot on the porch. She wasn't sure what it was but it smelled amazing. She pushed the front door open and looked across the living area to the kitchen, where Clint was serving something onto a plate.
"Romanoff! Sit! Lasagna is served." Clint beckoned her closer as he passed the plate he'd just filled to Phil. Natasha didn't want to intrude, almost didn't, but the smell was too alluring. So she drifted closer.
"Smells good, Barton."
"You say that like you're surprised," Clint scoffed with a grin.
Natasha allowed her lips to quirk and moved to sit at the kitchen table. Coulson and Clint settled in as well, Clint next to her and Phil across from her.
Natasha watched Clint and Phil share a laugh over a joke she hadn't been paying attention to. She took a bite of her lasagna, her mouth curling into a smile of appreciation. Barton was a damn good cook and she would never let anyone tell her different. She watched Phil shake his head in exasperation and watched Clint's smirk turn a little mischievous.
A sudden memory came to her, a little under a year ago, on the anniversary of the day she'd met Clint properly for the first time. She remembered that she and Clint had only just been assigned as partners and she'd come back from a sparring session to find a box of delicious smelling take out on her bed and a short note from Clint acknowledging the year that had passed.
As Clint suddenly asked her a question about learning to surf with him tomorrow, she realized for the first time how lucky she'd gotten that it had been Clint sent to kill her. How lucky she was that she could count him and Coulson as friends.
Phil smiled as he watched Clint and Natasha started bickering over whether they should take surfing lessons or not. Natasha never talked to anyone like she talked to Clint; he had a disarming affect on her that Phil was grateful for. It kept things from ever getting too uncomfortable. Though, their 'talking' was usually arguing, bickering over stupid things that didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. It hit him then, as he considered how slowly and painstakingly Clint had worked over the past year to draw Natasha out of her shell, how right Clint had been. They had needed Natasha. Not just SHIELD, but them, their team. She completed their dynamic in a way Phil didn't know it needed to be completed.
Even if he did feel like a parent trying to keep the peace between feuding siblings most of the time.
He couldn't have picked a more perfect way to finish this day than with three of them together.
Clint laughed as Natasha rolled her eyes and started ignoring him. He shared a glance with Phil and then dug into his dinner. He smiled a little as he chewed, looking first at Phil and then at Natasha. He nodded slightly to himself and took another bite. He'd gotten his day with Phil and it had been the best day he'd had in a while. And now he was sharing a meal with his two favorite people in the world. Content. That was the word for what he felt right now. His smile widened.
Now if only he could convince one of them to learn to surf with him.
End of Year Five
That one was mostly sunshine and daisies! Next year is a little more intense though ;)
Working on "Croatia" promise! You guys are all awesome! "Croatia" WILL come out next week, that is a promise...WHEN next week is a little more up in the air (don't blame me, blame life) I do love what I have written so far though, so I know you guys will too :)