Summary: There was never just one. And to think it was all because of the coffee. Thor was stuck on Tony duty which required lots of patience and a visit to their favorite coffee shop. It's all downhill from there as they meet Not!Clint and his brand new British sidekick that seems intent on stalking the two Avengers. In other words the time that the IMF met the Avengers.
Pairings: Clint/Natasha and strongly hinted Will/Jane. And of course, bromance all around!
Warnings: Language, I guess and a strong possibility for crackish behaviors. Spoilers for both the Avengers and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
Author's Note: So Jeremy Renner has infected my brain. That's about the only thing I can say about this one. This is my first crossover and I hope that someone out there enjoys. Real life and work are currently kicking my ass so I apologize in advance for the slow updates. That being said… enjoy!
The day everything changed started out simple enough. Thor was on Tony duty. It was a rotating duty that every Avenger (and all associated and affiliated personnel) found themselves assigned every so often. It basically entailed making sure that Tony saw the light of day at least once a week and had at least three coherent conversations with someone other than Bruce (because that was just science babble) and his robots. Battles against the villains of the week did not count. Though Tony argued that they should count, the rest of them countered that aside from Loki most of their bad guys were incapable of stringing together coherent sentences due to the rampant crazy that made them think that taking on the Avengers was a good idea in the first place. So they were not acceptable socialization partners. And Loki was also not acceptable because he had a tendency to lie and make Clint go crazy. Thus the duty was created and on that particular day, Thor was on Tony duty which meant that it was his responsibility to drag the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist out of his lab and into civilization. The fact that Thor was a little bit gleeful with his duty had little to do with the fact that he was bored. It was because he was concerned about his friend… and yes, it was mostly because he was bored. But hindsight taught that maybe it was necessary for Thor to be bored at that particular moment on that particular day because if not then this story would not be told.
As it stands, Thor was very, horribly bored. Television was growing tiresome. Snooki was no longer entertaining since she left the house on the shores of Jersey. And he wasn't quite sure why there were so many underage Midgardian mothers but that seemed like something someone should be concerned about. Either way, it wasn't very engaging. With most of the other Avengers out of the Tower for the day, there was little in the way of other distractions. So without much prompting, he barged into Tony's lab using the new override code of the week and bodily hauled his spitting mad friend away from his latest experiment. Thor held him up by the collar of his t-shirt until they were a few blocks away from Tony's favorite coffee shop. Thor didn't often have Tony duty but he knew there were a few things required when reintroducing their genius with the rest of the world: patience and a ton of coffee. Thankfully Thor had patience to spare and coffee was readily available.
The Stand was a relatively small place not too far from the Tower. It was one of the few buildings in the area that somehow managed to remain mostly intact from the usual craziness that seemed to happen only around the Avengers (i.e. explosions, aliens and the Science Bros). The owner of the shop was a lovely older woman named Delilah Tiers. She was a widow with no children of her own. She took one look at the collective team of orphans and decided that to adopt them as her grandchildren. When they were having low days, it wasn't odd to find one or more of them being fussed over while being force-fed pastries and hot beverages. Though she loved them all and lavished them with affection and attention, Delilah was notorious for playing favorites and made it very clear early on that Clint was her favorite. It helped that the archer reverted to every inch of his Midwestern upbringing when he was around the older woman. The archer's smart mouth seemed to vanish when he was around the older woman. Tony swore he heard Clint say 'aw, shucks' once. None of the Avengers minded that he was blatantly the favorite because they all enjoyed the sight of their normally cocky friend blushing and using words like 'ma'am' and 'y'all'.
That's why neither Tony nor Thor blinked an eye when they walked into the shop and found Delilah fussing over a very stressed and embarrassed looking Clint. At first they were both confused as Clint was meant to be with Steve and Bruce at SHIELD HQ. But they didn't give it any further thought because... it was Clint. Short of drugging him, it was very difficult to keep the agent contained in one place, especially when that place was SHIELD HQ. And even drugging him wasn't a guarantee. So it figured that he escaped. Although….
"Barton, if you were coming here, you could've called," Tony sassed as he breezed past the sputtering and red-faced Clint to press a kiss against Delilah's cheek. Once Thor was lifting the woman into one of his less violently exuberant embraces, Tony turned to eyeball their friend, who was apparently trying to inch away towards the door. Hindsight showed that this was the part where Tony should've realized something wasn't quite right with this picture. But hindsight is rarely helpful and he didn't realize something was wrong. He was too busy being amused by the surprised flush that remained on Clint's face and the outfit he was wearing.
Clint Barton, the perpetual teenager, was wearing a suit. It needed a double take because really? A suit? An actual tailor made suit with a shirt and a tie. That was amazing. They could barely make the man dress in anything other than hoodies and jeans. But someone managed to get him in a suit. Tony raised an eyebrow. He definitely wore it well. Huh, there might be hope of taking the archer out in civilized society yet.
"So you're all dressed up. What's the occasion? You finally getting around to putting a ring on Spider Chick?"
Clint's brow furrowed. "Huh?"
"We really need to broaden your social awareness. Do you need to sign up for Pop Culture 101 with Steve and Thor?"
The younger man looked hopelessly confused by this point. "I'm sorry but I have no idea what you're talking about. Do I know you?"
Now it was Tony's turn to frown. He looked into the familiar set of bluish gray eyes and found no sign of levity there. His gaze was flickering between Tony and Thor, who was happily engaged in Mrs. Tiers' recap of her soap operas. There was not a hint of recognition there. Not to mention, there was another man very clearly listening into their conversation. He was medium height with cropped close blond hair. Clint's gaze drifted towards him for a brief moment before focusing on Tony again.
"Oh," Tony murmured, understanding settling on him. He leaned forward prompting Clint to do the same, though his face displayed his confusion clearly. "Barton, you asshat, you should've just said something."
"Said something about what?"
Tony rolled his eyes. Of all the days for Clint to suddenly pull the dumb blonde act, he picked the one when Tony was the least cognitively aware. A week with little social contact outside of Bruce and occasionally the man in front of him would have that effect on anyone. But at any rate, Tony was not having a particularly genius day himself. That's why it took him so long to catch on.
"You're on a mission, right?" Tony whispered, letting his eyes slide pointedly to the blonde that was still visibly listening in. "That's why you're acting weird."
"Uh, yes?" Clint replied. "That's exactly why."
"You should've just said something," Tony chided. "I didn't mean to break your cover or anything."
"Why are you answering everything with a question?"
Clint's eyes narrowed. "I'm not?"
Tony started to reply but the words died on his lips. The other man was still listening to their conversation. Clearly Clint was in the middle of some work thing. Why he chose the coffee shop most likely to be inhabited by an Avenger, Tony would never understand. It was difficult to understand the mind of Clint Barton. He was pretty sure the only one fluent in Barton was Natasha and that whole relationship was a confusing mess that even Tony wouldn't touch.
"Whatever. Have fun on your mission. I'm sure it's a one day thing since you know Steve is insisting on family dinner tonight. He's even got Fury, Phil and the Wicked Stepmother coming. So it's a big deal. You better not bail. Or you better find a way to take me with you."
"Uh, okay," Clint said, the confusion still lingering in his eyes. "I'll remember that."
Tony patted him on the shoulder. "You do that, Cupid." He turned towards Thor, who was still chatting with Delilah. "Yo, Point Break, let's roll. I still have to finish the schematics on Natasha's new suit."
Thor nodded, saying goodbye to their self appointed grandmother and receiving extra pastries to go along with their order. Once everything was packed up the god made his way back to where Tony, Clint and Clint's new nameless, lurking friend were standing. He could read the confusion on Thor's face as Clint didn't move to join them, instead moving closer to the man that was watching them before.
"It's cool, big guy," Tony leaned in closer, keeping his voice purposely low. "Barton is on a mission. Can't talk."
"Oh, I understand," Thor nodded. He cleared his throat before looking at Clint. "Farewell, strange man that I have never had any types of brotherly interactions with. I hope that your journey is successful and fruitful!"
Tony groaned even as Clint seemed to collapse in on himself. He simply shook his head, grabbed Thor with one hand and tossed a jaunty wave at Clint with the other. As he steered the god towards the Tower, Tony heard Clint let out an audible sigh of relief as the door closed behind them. He stopped their trip home only long enough to send a text to Natasha reminding her that there was a rule about them being let in on the two spies' missions for a reason.
"Did you notice something odd about our friend?" Thor mused aloud around a bear claw donut. Tony shrugged, sipping his coffee and savoring the mind awakening powers it held in its dark, delicious, sugar filled depths.
"There's a lot that's odd about Barton, buddy" Tony replied. "It's Clint. He makes it a habit to test just how many different limits he can push before a person breaks. I feel bad for the poor sap trailing him today. I have no idea what the mission is but it's mostly likely going to involve that poor dude wanting to run for the hills before the day is over."
Benji Dunn was not a super ninja like Ethan, capable of scaling the world's tallest buildings without calculating the risks involved or mentally updating his will. He was not super observant like Will, who could remember every single variation of his team's coffee pattern and always seemed to pop up with a fresh cup when one of them was reaching their breaking point. He was also not badass like Jane, who more than held her own when sparring with Will and Ethan. No, Benji was not like the rest of his team but he also was not an idiot. He would've needed to be blind in order to miss that there was something terribly wrong with William Brandt.
The newest agent to their team was not exactly the most extroverted but lately he seemed even more stuck in his own head than normal. It was… worrisome. The whole thing was made even more worrisome by the fact that Ethan seemed to know exactly what was going on. After a successfully completed mission, Benji expected that they would return to their individual corners of the world until they were called into duty once again. Instead, they received orders to convene in New York City for observation duty. Benji took one look at the mission and realized it was a milk run. Jane saw the same thing and opened her mouth to protest but one look from Ethan had them both quieting. The fact that Will made no complaint was the sign that Benji needed. This mission was for Will. To give him time to come back to them. Two days into the mission and Benji had some serious doubts.
That is until Ethan sent them to get coffee. The hotel concierge recommended the place, saying that it had the best coffee in the city. With such high praise, Benji was willing to make the ten block trek from their hotel to The Stand. He dragged a strangely compliant Will along with him. He never thought he would miss the days when Will questioned every move they made but he did. He would take that version of his best friend (when the hell did that happen exactly) over this quiet, sad shell of a man that merely followed where they led. Exactly two weeks and five days passed since the last time Benji saw Will express genuine human emotion. And he was starting to think he would never see it again. That is until the minute they crossed the threshold of the coffee shop and the slightly younger man was accosted by an elderly woman.
After assessing that the woman was not an actual threat (this was New York City after all), Benji was content to watch as his friend grew even more flustered by the woman's grandmotherly attention. It was clearly a case of mistaken identity but Benji was too amused by Will's flushed face to bother correcting the mistake. He ignored the pleading looks from Will in favor of simply watching his friend be human again. A few minutes after their arrival at the mostly empty shop, the bell over the door rang signaling more customers. This time two men entered. Neither of them seemed confused by the woman who was alternately pinching Will's cheeks and commenting on his weight (a concept Benji whole heartedly agreed on by the way). On the contrary, the shorter of the men greeted the woman with a friendly kiss to the cheek while the larger blonde grabbed her in a fierce yet friendly embrace. Benji stayed silent on the sidelines as the brunette addressed Will with the same name the older woman had thrown out a few times.
"I'm sorry but I have no idea what you're talking about. Do I know you?"
Benji suppressed the urge to snicker at Will who seemed so lost at the moment. He glanced from his friend back to the stranger, who was starting to look more familiar as time passed. As the other man pulled his friend into a not at all quiet conversation involving the words mission and spy, Benji realized why he recognized the man. He held his tongue until the two strangers were out of the shop and Will's elderly admirer moved onto other customers.
"That was weird," Will commented, taking a sip of coffee that the owner pressed into his hand prior to his escape from the woman. Benji watched as an expression akin to awe graced his features. He raised an eyebrow in silent inquiry. "This is exactly how I like my coffee."
"Oh, so she got your complicated mess you call coffee correct? That is weird."
"No," Will murmured, still staring at the cup and pointedly ignoring Benji's barb about his coffee preferences. "I never even placed my order. She just gave this to me. How did she even know I liked cinnamon and nutmeg?" he paused. "I don't think I paid for this either."
Benji snapped his fingers in Will's face once he realized he was losing the former analyst. "None of that is important, Brandt. Do you know who that man was? That was Tony Stark. You know the Tony Stark."
"Genius playboy billionaire Iron Man Tony Stark?" Will replied, looking confused. "Are you sure?"
"Trust me. The man is considered a god in the technological field. I'd recognize him anywhere. The question is who he thought you were."
Will continued to stare at his coffee cup. "This is going to lead to something I'm going to regret later today, isn't it?"
"Let's just follow him for a bit. Aren't you even a little curious?"
"Not really," Will said. "I just kinda want to go back to the hotel and…."
"And what? Mope some more in the corner?"
"I'm not moping!"
"You're definitely moping."
Will huffed. "I'm not moping, Benji. We're on a mission. And I don't think that we should be taking time away from that to chase after a superhero."
Benji rolled his eyes. "We're on a milk run. Jane has clearly been playing Angry Birds on her iPad for the past two days and Ethan is likely plotting how to best way to climb the Empire State Building and not get arrested. Actually, never mind, he probably hasn't even factored in the arrest part of that plan. The point is, even Ethan isn't concerned with the so called mission. The only reason he sent us to get the coffee is because he, like the rest of us, thought you needed to see the sun at least once on this trip."
Will's mouth opened in a protest but Benji cut him off. "We're just going to try and catch up with them. See if we can't figure out who they think you are. Then we get you back to the hotel to your regularly scheduled brooding."
"Ben…." Will trailed off with a deep, world weary sigh. "Fine. At least if I'm with you, when this all blows up in your face, you'll already have backup."
"That's the spirit!" Benji grinned, clapping his friend on the shoulder. "They won't even know we're following them!"
Will glared at him even as he allowed Benji to drag him out the store. "This will only end in misery," he muttered, still sipping at his convoluted too sweet mess he called coffee. "Misery and pain."
"Did anyone ever tell you that you're rather depressing?"
"Pretty much every IMF appointed psychiatrist since Croatia."
"Hmm, remind me to crash all their computers."
"That's strangely sweet, Benji."
*The end for now. More to come soonish.