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 the Avengers, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Bourne Legacy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
Author's Note: Hello. We've reached the end. I didn't think this day would actually ever come. I'm notorious for taking years to finish a story. Not so bad this time, lol. I hope you all enjoy this epilogue which is really just the teaser for the sequel Triad of Awesome (a working title, I'm open for suggestions if anyone can think of something better!). So anyway, enough of my blabbering. Hope you all enjoy!
Oh, just a FYI the title is lovingly borrowed from the song by the same title by the Smashing Pumpkins. Now enjoy!
The Beginning is the End is the Beginning
Technology was an amazing thing. It saved lives. It gave man the ability to reach the stars and beyond. It also allowed Phil Coulson to see every annoyed facial feature on the face of one Jasper Sitwell despite the fact that the younger man was currently in Manila. Phil was able to see his protégé suffer from the air conditioned comfort of his own office at Stark Tower. Technology was pretty awesome.
"How the mission going?"
Jasper's right eye twitched minutely but he gave no further indication that he was annoyed. He didn't need to. Phil knew he was but he also knew that Jasper brought this upon himself. So his sympathy was a little a low at the moment.
"The warehouse remains active but thus far there have been no signs of suspicious activities," Jasper reported. He fidgeted with the collar of his shirt. Phil could see little beads of sweat pooling on his skin in crystal clear high definition. Jasper noticed his attention and glared. "Are you sure Stark's information is accurate?"
"It's Stark. He might be functionally insane and permanently stuck in his teenage years but I don't doubt his research. Especially not when it comes to something like this."
This was the subject of Jasper's mission. A month ago, information was leaked about a project funded by the CIA. It was a huge mess with almost every intelligence agency in the game up in arms. When the information first reached SHIELD, Nick (and pretty much everyone) immediately thought of the ever present pain in the rear super soldier experiments. Needless to say that particular subject always tended to bring out the crazy in most SHIELD personnel and that was before the discovery that one of their own was born because of a failed experiment with the super soldier serum. Now everyone was chomping at the bit to get to the bottom of Operation Treadstone. Especially the Avengers as there wasn't a single one of the founding members (aside from Thor) whose didn't have some connection to that cursed formula. Phil was still waiting for the next plot twist that would reveal some previously unknown, unimaginable, and implausible connection between Thor and the super soldier experiment.
Or rather Phil hoped it was Thor's turn. He really didn't think that Clint could handle anymore curveballs. He was holding up relatively well given the sudden brother overload (not just Stark's continuing efforts at adopting them both). But Phil worried what one more blow would do to the archer's psyche. And what affected Clint also impacted Will. They really were two halves of the same coin. How they functioned thirty years without each other was a mystery to everyone as they hadn't spent more than a few days away from each in the six months they'd been reunited.
"You've got that look in your eye again. You must be thinking about a certain bird brained archer and his much better half. So how are the Doublemint Twins anyway?"
A lesser man than Phil would've been fooled by the flippant tone. But Phil didn't become known as Fury's good eye without being excellent at seeing between the lines.
"They miss you too, you know?"
"I definitely don't miss the brat or his devious twin. You know the only reason I even agreed to this mission was because it got me as far away from them as possible without having to quit SHIELD. But just so we're both clear, if Fury hadn't come through with the Manila mission, that would've been an option for discussion."
"I think you may be exaggerating the situation a bit. They're not that bad."
"Separately, no. Well, actually that's just Will. Clint is pretty much terrible on his own too. But together…. they're menaces. Last month, Will stood there and helped Clint climb the Statue of Liberty…. From the outside! With a blindfold! Will is the one that put the blindfold on the idiot!"
Phil smirked. That was one of Clint's lesser intelligent moment though Ethan did share some of the blame in that one. All of the IMF agents were told in the very beginning that under no circumstances was Thor, Clint or Tony to ever be dared to do anything. Ever. None of them had an ounce of common sense between them. No matter how impossible or deadly it might seem to a normal person, they would see it as a challenge. Impulse control was not one of their strengths. But to someone familiar with the Avengers, it was just another thing. The man on the screen opposite him was more than familiar with that truth.
"Ok, so he's a little eccentric."
"And he lives to annoy any SHIELD employee that isn't named Phil Coulson or Nick Fury. And Will isn't much better. He just goes a long with whatever insane thought pops into Clint's head. So no, I've earned my break from the kid. I'll catch up with him in a month. I'm sure he'll be fine until then. And you'd let me know if something changed, right?"
Phil laughed. "Careful, Jasper. Your caring is starting to show."
Jasper opened his mouth to retort but a voice off-screen commanded his attention. He held up a finger to Phil indicating that he would only take a minute. He took three and when he came back his face was even more flushed than before. The subtle tick in his right eye that was definitely Barton induced was even more pronounced.
"Is there something you wanted to tell me, Phil? How could you neglect to tell me that one of your twins is running loose in Manila?! Its Clint isn't it? That's why you didn't tell me. I know he's your favorite and what not but I thought you would at least have the decency to give me a heads up."
"Jasper, what are you talking about? Clint is right…."
The door to his office slammed open at that moment revealing one pissed off twin. Judging from the tie hanging loosely around his neck, Phil was going on record by saying it was Will. Especially since the other was currently in the vent just above his head.
"Come out now or I swear I will drag you out by that stupid fat head of yours!" Will hissed, glaring up at vent just behind Phil's desk. There was a muffled noise that somehow he interpreted as a response. "I don't care if we're identical. Clearly we don't have identical brains. Mine tells me to stay in bed when I have a concussion. Yours tells you to go crawling through the vents! Now get down!" Another muffled sound. "Fine then. I'm coming up there!"
Phil could only watch in silent amusement as Will nosily dragged a chair from across the room until it was under the vent he was yelling at. True to his word, he climbed onto the chair and stretched up to reach the very loose vent cover. There was a less muffled response this time as a head of dark blonde hair appeared in Will's hands.
"Ouch! That hurts!"
"Well then next time listen to me!" Will hissed. It didn't escape Phil's attention, however, that Will was a lot gentler as Clint slid out of the vent. He stepped off the chair and helped his brother to sit down. Once Clint was settled, Will squeezed his shoulder. "You need to stop escaping from Medical."
"It's boring. And that nurse Tony hired is a Nazi. Like seriously, I think she might actually have been a Nazi. She's old enough."
"So not that point," Will murmured. He pointed at Phil. "And you. You know you're only enabling his delinquency."
"Worrisome bitch," Clint muttered loud enough for Will to hear.
"Reckless asshole," Will said in the same annoyed, yet affectionate tone.
"Uh," Jasper started, pulling all attention to the forgotten screen. "If they're both there then we have a problem."
"What now?" Clint groused, rubbing his no doubt aching head. Will smacked his hand away as it strayed towards the bloodstained white bandage on his forehead. Clint frowned before redirecting his glare in Jasper's direction. "What's got your panties in a bunch this time?"
Jasper's right eye twitched again even as he held up a piece of paper with two pictures printed on it. It was an APB for a man named a man and a woman. The woman was a pretty brunette that Phil was certain he'd seen before and recently. But it was the male that caught his attention. All too familiar bluish eyes stared out from the paper Jasper held up. The same dirty blond hair. The same exact nose.
"Not again!" Clint and Will groused in unison. Phil could only agree. Didn't they go through this just six months ago? Things were only just now starting to settle down. He could only hope this was another doppelganger (although the world did not need another Jason Walsh). Although with the way that Phil's luck ran, this was going to end up being by the byproduct of some genetic experiment to replicate Project Rebirth. Again.
"Stark, Banner, get in here."
A few minutes passed before the door opened once again. This time a worried and frazzled looking Bruce followed by a calmer Tony and Benji. Oh, perfect. Phil made a mental note to check for any burned or exploded objects in the Tower. Bruce growled as he caught sight of the twins.
"Nurse Turner is going crazy looking for you," he pointed out as he stalked over to a not at all guilty Clint. "If you don't stop escaping, I'm going to follow through on previous suggestions to sedate you. I don't care if you slip into a coma. It might be an improvement on your current lack of self preservation."
"I meant to ask what you did to yourself this time," Jasper commented. Clint rolled his eyes and then winced as he was reminded as to why that was a bad idea.
"Latest alien menace," Will replied, rubbing circles on Clint's back. "Everything was going good until Steve's shield sliced off one of the thing's tentacles. It landed on Clint and knocked him off a building."
Jasper snickered, earning a dark glare from all parties assembled. He scoffed. "That one goes in the book, birdie."
"Right next to heat stroke on a BS mission in the Philippines," Clint retorted, glaring at the screen. "Have fun staring at a factory!" With that said he reached over and turned off the computer screen. "So, who's up for another fun filled adventure in genetics?"
Half an hour later, Will was seated on the very comfortable sofa in Phil's office with Clint beside him. A copy of the APB was resting on his thigh. Across the room, the others were doing the same. There was a heavy silence in the room as they all contemplated the pictures. Will had a feeling that something was going to happen. Things had been relatively calm in the six months since the IMF agents met the Avengers. Or as a calm as it can be living with a bunch of superheroes and Ethan.
But Will had a feeling that calm was over. Something told him that everything was about to change but he couldn't get a sense of whether this was a good or bad thing. Either way, it made him feel itchy. It also made him even more hypersensitive about his twin's wellbeing. He always on edge when Clint got hurt during a mission (which seemed to be just about every time) but between this new look alike and the feeling of wrongness, Will felt even more aware of Clint.
Almost as if on cue, Will felt Clint list further into his side. He didn't complain. He simply shifted his weight on the chair to help the archer settle into a more comfortable position. He eyed the bandage on Clint's head which Bruce changed. The bleeding seemed to have stopped at least. But the fact that he was so restless meant that the pain hadn't.
"How's the head?" he already anticipated the flippant response. Clint had a tendency to brush everything off as being fine or ok. Will was convinced that one day something was going to come along and rip his brother's arm and the idiot was only going to brush it off as a scratch. So he already knew it was pointless asking Clint how his head felt. He was just going to lie. But this time Will was wrong.
"Hurts," Clint murmured, shifting his head against Will's shoulder. Will raised an eyebrow. Clint just admitted pain. That never happened. The concern skyrocketed. "It's too hot, Will."
Will peered down at the thin t-shirt his twin was wearing, frowning at what he saw. He could see the sweat forming on Clint's skin. Could he be sick too? He brushed the back of his palm against Clint's forehead. He felt warmer than usual. The frown deepened. Clint wasn't showing any signs of a fever when he was initially checked into Medical earlier that afternoon. This was sudden. That feeling of wrong grew until it was suffocating him. He opened his mouth to call Bruce but Phil spoke up first.
"Now I remember where I've seen her," Phil said. "She was on the news. She was the only survivor in that laboratory shooting a few days ago. Seems strange that she lived through that and now she's on the CIA's hit list in Manila."
"Wait, a second I know this woman too," Bruce announced. "Her name is Marta Shearing. Actually she's Dr. Marta Shearing. We almost worked together on a project about seven years ago."
"Almost?" Tony questioned. "How do you almost work on a project? Especially you. It's science. That's pretty much your weakness. There isn't anything you wouldn't do for science."
"Except genetic experimentation on actual human subjects," Bruce clarified. "I won't do that. I was interested in working on that project because as you all know Erskine and his formula was a particularly interesting subject for me. This project was promising to capitalize on his work and improve it. I was involved in the early planning stages of the project but I left when they started talking about using human test subjects. Dr. Shearing was young. From what I remembered, she had just finished her doctorates. She was still easily influenced. She couldn't be persuaded to leave. So I left her there. And then I went to work on another project with the super solider serum. We all know how that turned out."
"Yeah, big and green," Tony acknowledged. "So what was the name of this project anyway? Not the gamma radiation FUBAR but the one that Shearing worked on."
"Uh, it was….." Bruce trailed off as he thought about it. Will felt Clint's snort of amusement and was relieved that his brother's sudden temperature was decreasing. He felt cooler. "Oh, I remember. It was called Outcome. Operation Outcome."
Will's eyes narrowed even as Tony let out an audible gasp. Still it was Benji that voiced their thoughts. "Wasn't Outcome one of the names you came across when you were researching Treadstone?"
"Yeah, that's actually the folder where I found the information about the lab in Manila." Tony ran a hand across his face. "So there is another guy that looks like Clint and Will running around with a geneticist that worked on a secret government project that was experimenting with creating super soldiers? Anyone else feeling a serious case of déjà vu right now?"
"I'm just amazed that there is a seeming never ending supply of men that actually look like the Wonder Twins over here," Benji commented, shaking his head. "And it seems like they have the same penchant for finding trouble too. What are the odds?"
"Better than you think," Clint spoke up, sitting upright a little more. "There's the creepy bomb expert in Afghanistan. There's also Walsh, who's not that bad as long as you don't eat his food. There's also that dude that thinks he's a vampire. Oh, and that guy that used to be SWAT and freed the French terrorist dude. Although now that I think about it that Hondo guy reminds me of Fury. Tony, did Hondo remind you of Fury?"
"Yeah, now that I think about it. Big, scary and kinda mean," Tony nodded. "Yeah, he's Fury's clone."
"There's also…." Clint trailed off as Will placed a finger against his lips.
"Shh, Benji meant that rhetorically."
Clint's eyes widened slightly even as he slowly nodded. "Oh, sorry."
"S'ok," Will assured him, patting him on the leg. He knew that between the concussion and the new look-alike, Clint was feeling on edge. Will wondered if his brother was picking up on his own feelings of uneasiness. Either way, he didn't want Clint overloading his already overtaxed brain. He watched as Clint settled back on the sofa, closing his eyes.
Will picked up the paper that set off this latest bout of turmoil and craziness. The man really did look like them. Will never really spent a large amount of time studying his face in the mirror prior to reuniting with his twin. But ever since then, his own face was the most familiar sight in the world to him. The face on the paper was similar but there were slight differences. His face was a little rounder and the eyes were a little harder. There were also a few scars on his face that would indicate some serious trauma. But the one that caught his attention was the faint, silvery line right about the man's left eyebrow.
"Mirror images," Will murmured. He looked at Clint beside him, specifically to the same sliver of a scar above his right eyebrow. He glanced down at the picture. The same exact eyes stared back at him. They were the same eyes. There was darkness in them but they were the same eyes he looked at every single day. "Oh, no."
Clint cracked an eye open. "What?"
Will shook his head even as memories flooded his mind. Of a smaller version of the man beside him giggling that he had something in common with their beloved older brother. While Will and Clint were identical in looks and voice, Clint and Kenneth would both sport the same scar on opposite sides of their face. They were mirror images of one another. Will's shaky hand traced the scar on the picture. Clint grabbed a hold of his hand.
"Will, you're starting to freak me out a little here. What's wrong?"
"Uh, I think…. I think that this might be Kenny."
Clint's hand fell to the side even as he stared at the side of Will's face. "Maybe it's the concussion speaking but that's not funny."
"Wasn't trying to be," Will replied, still tracing the faint line on the man's face. He then lifted the same hand and traced the matching scar on Clint's eyebrow. "Mirror images."
Clint paled even as his fingers took over for Will's, touching both scars. "Oh my god."
"Hold up, you're saying that you think that this guy is your brother, who last time I checked is dead."
"I know it sounds crazy and impossible but… yes. I think that this is Kenny," Will replied, firmly. "He's not just some random guy. It's him, Clint. I know it."
Clint didn't say anything. He just kept staring at the picture with wide eyes. But Clint and Will had a connection that went beyond words. He knew what his brother was saying without hearing the words. It's because he was also thinking it. There was a connection between Clint and Will. Once they were reunited, that connection became obvious. There was always a part of Will that thought something was missing. Once he was back with Clint, that piece was quieted… but it was still there. That was the same part of him that was feeling uneasy since the minute he laid eyes on the picture.
"It's him," Clint whispered, rubbing his forearm absently. Will was familiar with his brother's gestures. The archer had an almost amusing avoidance of needles. Whenever he was forced to get a shot, he would walk around rubbing his arm in the exact same way, whining to anyone that would listen about how it hurt. But Will knew that Clint hadn't had any injections recently. So why was he rubbing his arm? This was getting weird.
"Are you both certain?" Phil asked. He had wheeled his chair over to the sofa and was studying both of them carefully. Clint and Will exchanged glances before Will nodded for them both. Phil sighed, sitting back in his seat. He looked to the others gathered in the room. "Well, you heard them. Pack your bags. Looks like Jasper is about to have some company in Manila. And we've got a triplet to find."
*To be continued in the sequel, Triad of Awesome (again working title, hint, hint) which will probably be in the crossover section under Avengers and the Bourne series. Hopefully I can have that up soon. Not working is doing wonders for my writing these days! LOL
Thank you to everyone that has left such lovely reviews. Especially big thanks to NyxWings for all the feedback and ideas! When I look back on the outline I had for this story and what it's actually become, I'm really surprised. This story is nothing like my outline and I'm really happy about that. This has been one of my favorite stories to write and I'm looking forward to starting the sequel. I hope it's as easy as this one!
Anyway thank you all so much! I love you all to pieces! Ciao for now!