Disclaimer: I own nothing
Steve and Tony had made them all promise that if there ever was an attack whoever was closet or with Peter were to take him and run if ever the occasion occurred. And they had all agreed. No matter how much they wished to fight or even if they were needed nothing else mattered except Peter. Which was how Clint ended up in his situation to begin with.
He had just gotten back from a mission only three hours before it all happened. Peter had gotten into the habit of sneaking into his bed the nights he knew he was supposed to come home, a habit that no one had the heart to break. He had barely had enough energy to shower, change out of his uniform, and into his gray sweats. Whoever invented sweatshirt material was amazing and should be blessed with the world's treasures, Clint thought as he dropped onto his bed. He cringed and waited to see if his rather ungraceful drop onto the mattress woke Peter up but the toddler was completely oblivious to the world and so Clint allowed himself to drop into a deep sleep that his body needed to heal.
It was all thanks to his years of what someone would cruelly call a childhood, constantly on alert and waiting for the next hit to come, that gave him such quick reflexes that no amount of training at SHIELD could compare. He heard the faint footfalls of the invaders in his home before any of the explosions and before the first blast could rock the floor he had rolled out of bed covering the four year old with his body. Alarms whirled and misplaced chaos of malice broke through the silence. Clint scooped Peter into his arms and ran into his closet typing in the correct pass codes to open the passage way to the roof.
"JARVIS tell Tony I've got Peter when he can't be compromised."
"Already done sir," the AI said without his usual snark. "I have alerted Ms. Potts and you are to meet at rendezvous point 773."
The biting wind struck Clint. The wind patterns were rough but there wasn't time to waste. He typed in his code for the hidden compartment with the bow and looked for the best place to set his aim. Peter squealed in terror as the building beneath them shook and Clint swore as he realized two things. One, that Banner had let the Hulk come out and if that were so the situation was clearly a lot worse than what he had originally thought. Two was that he was now on the roof with a four year old running for their lives and the kid was probably scared as shit.
"Pete, buddy." Clint's voice shook as he tried to add some warmth into his tone breaking his working mask. Peter looked at him with wide eyes clutching his Raggy in his hands. "Everything's going to be ok bud. Alright."
"Daddy," the boy cried and it killed Clint a little inside more than he would like to admit. Damn Tony and his promises.
"Listen to me buddy. I need you to do two things for me ok. Can you do that? Can you help me?" Peter nodded his breath hiccuping in his chest. "I need you to hold on really tight to me just like that and don't let go... Good buddy... Now I want you to close your eyes and don't open them until I tell you too."
Peter had Clint's neck in a a near chokehold and his legs pressed a little to painfully into Clint's already bruised ribs but he didn't complain. The floor beneath them shook again as the Hulk's roar sent Clint's butt into gear. Firing the arrow to the closet building that had a roof to land on he tethered the end of the rope to the piping, his bow now the only thing that would be able to get the two of them off the roof. Clint's heart thunder against his chest and he felt about awkwardly trying to figure out on how he was going to hold the zipline and Peter.
"Your eyes closed, buddy?" He felt the flutter of wet eyelashes on his neck and a nod from Peter.
"Over there! He has the boy!" There was a crash and before the three dark clothed men could reach them Clint leapt off.
For a moment he didn't breath, his heart lodge in his throat. He had jumped off buildings before with no problem at all but suddenly the weight of the toddler clinging to him for dear life was a suppressing weight of responsibility on his shoulders. He gritted his teeth as they zipped along the line, the shouting from their home only fueling him to push forward until he landed unsteadily on his feet. But Clint didn't have time to celebrate, his training kicking in, and he wrapped both arms around Peter and bolted to the door.
They were fine he thought as Clint sprinted down the stairs, his footsteps echoing loudly throughout the metal staircase. But as he shouldered his way through a door into the empty office space filled with unoccupied cubicles he couldn't help but notice the way his body shook and the tremors in his hands. His breath was ragged as his ribs screamed at him and his neck was wet from Peter's tears.
"We're ok," Clint said more to himself because dammit all that had shaken him up more than it should have.
All he had to do was get to the spot where they had to wait to meet Pepper and...
A group of men in standard suits walked in soundlessly. Clint cursed shifting Peter to one arm and holding his other arm out to block. A man stepped forward holding his hand out but Clint didn't shake it and instead glared.
"Agent Barton, Agent Lewis of SHIELD. We were sent to secure the boy," the man said.
"That's not going to happen." Clint said narrowing his gaze on Lewis. He was packing in his left side but if they wanted Peter he wasn't going to pull his gun to shoot Clint while he was holding him.
"We were sent to take him to Ms. Potts. Your team needs you back at the tower." Lewis said. He didn't realize he had sunk the ship holding his story right there. SHIELD had no idea about the promise Steve and Tony had made them take, Tony made sure of it.
"Yeah, not a chance." Clint growled. Lewis looked unimpressed and turned to one of his men. The unnamed figure stepped forward and grabbed Peter making the toddler scream in terror. Clint broke his arm.
Clint spun with a kick taking down another suit before shoving Peter under the desk. Lewis locked his arm across Clint's throat cursing but Clint flipped him over onto his back. The fourth man lunged at him and Clint flung himself up effectively thigh locking the man to the floor.
Peter cried out again as Lewis began to pull him from the desk and Clint swiped his leg under him catching Peter before he could hit the ground and then… Clint ran.
Clint never saw himself as the type of guy to run but there was no way he was finishing his fight with Peter. He was too close. There was a gunshot that sent Clint ducking down but the wall next to him exploded into a tiny hole of dust. Clint never thought his heart would stop as fast as it did when Peter screamed in the greatest anguish anyone had ever heard. Had he been hit? He couldn't stop but if a bullet had hit him Clint was going to kill every single one of those guys in the worst ways possible.
Twisting his head down though to look at Peter showed that he remain unharmed. But he didn't seem to see it that way and had his hand outstretched.
"Raggy," he cried. Clint twisted and ducked down. Lewis and his men were struggling to get up but they had stopped shooting. Clint lunged to the ground and snatched the piece of fabric that had sent Peter into hysterics. Launching himself up Clint went for a dead sprint with the men's cursing behind them.
Heart pounding against his chest from the scare Peter had given him, he shoved through the lobby full of people and out into the cold autumn air of New York. Peter was sobbing uncontrollably onto Clint's shoulder. Clint couldn't stop walking though and he was scanning the crowd for more of Lewis's men he was sure he were around. And he was right, they had two tails following him several blacks.
"Pete, buddy," Clint said down to Peter rubbing his back up and down. "C'mon buddy. Calm down, we're ok."
"I want Papa," the child sob.
"I know you do kiddo but you gotta take some deep breathes for me." Peter let out one last cry before taking an exaggerated deep breath too quickly making him start to hiccup. I'm going to have to find another way to calm him down. Who knows how long we'll be out here! "Hey hey, you know those make believe games you play with Uncle Thor?"
"Let's play that game, ok?" Peter didn't saying anything. Clint glanced into the security mirror of a small family market to see his tails starting to close in on them. "How about you're my partner on a mission?"
"Like Aunt Tasha?"
"Yeah buddy," Clint smiled down to him. "Just like Aunt Tasha."
If he wasn't being tailed by two people trying to kill him Clint would have rolled over laughing at the pinched face Peter made to impersonate Natasha. Chuckling Clint nodded and dropped into the crowd and out of sight from his tails before ducking into an alleyway.
Lost in the shadow Clint glared as the tails looked around for him and tensed his body for attack. Peter was looking around with his "Natasha" pinched face completely calmed from earlier.
They waited for two beats before the tails disappeared from sight and Clint waited two more before he relaxed.
Clint looked around for some sort of route. If they knew the exit plan to get Peter to Pepper then Clint couldn't take the chance to go to the rendezvous site. For a moment he consider going to help Pepper but he decided against it. Peter came first and he knew better to underestimate the blonde. Pepper could take care of herself.
Clint looked around at the morning wave of people. His senses were on high alert though and his assassin mind was targeting everything as a threat.
"Alright buddy," Clint said in a low tone. Peter tightened his grip around him. "You got your raggy?"
The silk tie worn with being dragged around by a four year old was held in front of his face by a small hand with a death grip that would rival the Hulk's. Clint swallowed at the familiar pattern that had a much different purpose to someone else years ago. Maybe it was the intensity of the situation but Clint had to shove the nostalgic feelings deep into his gut before it consumed him.
If he was lying to himself he would say he could talk it out later but instead he would probably just drink the memories away. No, he needed to keep Peter safe first.
"Good job, buddy," Clint said turning to his left. Then he began to walk, dipping himself and Peter back into the crowd.
They walked for hours and Clint could feel the small bouts of anxiety creeping back into Peter's shoulder. The kid grew quiet and for some reason that unnerved Clint a lot more than it should. He was constantly checking around them, looking at anyone who could be a threat. The hair on the back of his neck would stand on end and Peter would feel him tense gripping Clint tighter. Even though he had gone a lot longer on his own, he was beginning to feel the stress wear down on his body. His feet were disgustingly dark and ached all over. His chest was burning from the pressure on it but he didn't bother to move Peter.
Clint's nose was cold and he mentally cursed himself. Peter was four and despite being wrapped in the safety of his uncle's arms was probably scared out of his mind. If Clint was cold then Peter must have been freezing. Still he stopped a moment. Last night his chest hadn't been the prettiest of sights and he wasn't sure he wanted to freak the kid out more than necessary but Peter readjusted his grip around Clint's neck and cold fingers ghosted along his neck.
Ducking into an alley, Clint secured the area before unzipping his hoodie and arranging the small body on his chest. Peter still had his face pressed to the hollow of Clint's neck so he swung the hood of his jacket to cover his head. It was awkward but it was warmer and Peter relaxed a little bit.
If Clint stopped somewhere too long people would begin to stare with weird looks on their faces. Not only was a guy in sweats looking a little less for wear carrying around a toddler in pajamas but they were also both barefoot and walking the streets of New York. He was either an idiot, a homeless person, or someone needed to call the cops on him.
As if feeling the stares they were getting Peter whimpered, a sound threatening tears that no one but Steve Rogers would be able to stop and unfortunately from the news reports on the TV in the cafe Clint passed, it would appear that he was still busy at the tower. Clint was crossing the street to the park before Peter got too upset. An idea struck and he was rubbing patterns on Peter's back mumbling a song he had on his iPod to him. The kid seemed to relax as they walked through the more covered paths in Central Park until he eventually fell asleep.
Cradling Peter to his chest, Clint bent down to sit on an old green park bench. His aches seemed to intensify the moment he stopped and he realized his mistake too late. He struggled to keep his eyes opened and he resorted to just resting his face. Natasha had told him the face he naturally made, when his body was limp and he was blocking off everything around him, made him looked like he was a psychopath. He would have chuckled if he wasn't completely shutting down. He let his body relax for a moment, trying to regain some energy that he had lost not only from his mission before but from the night and the rest of the day they had been walking. He kept looking around though, ready to snap back into awareness.
Which is how he heard the soft voice behind him. Before the hand could touch his shoulder Clint spun around, shoulders taunt and eyes narrowed. A man was standing at the bench, one hand extend with his palm open. A woman behind him with beautiful blue eyes and long dark hair was a few steps behind him staring at them wide eyed.
"Sir," the man said noticing the way Clint was tensed for attack and analyzing their movements as if he needed to take them out. "Sir, is everything ok?"
"Fine." Clint growled out. The man was tall with light brown hair in a standard suit. Clint spotted the gun on his hip and took a step back. The woman was carrying a purse but Clint couldn't see any weapons on her that her dress would hide. She was watching him though with her lips pressed and then she looked at Peter.
"Stop!" The man shouted chasing after him. "Stop, FBI."
Clint rolled his eyes. Were they seriously still trying to use that trick?
"Hey buddy," Clint greeted as Peter woke up as Clint kept running. His voice was a little more out of breath than it usually would have been but he still was able to smile down at Peter while going out in a dead sprint. The man behind him didn't let up and he was holding a phone to his ear barking into it. They were too open in the park, Clint decided, and he turned to closest exit and ran out into the street. A car slammed on its breaks, the driver honking his horn angrily but Clint didn't stop long enough to acknowledge him. He had to give the guy credit as the man from the park chased after him, he was keeping up with Clint.
And then Clint's heart dropped into his stomach as he realized that he didn't know where the woman went. He was being chased into a corner and he had fallen for the trap. Peter was going to pay for his mistake because he had carelessly forgotten about the other person chasing after them.
"Hey bud," Clint said to Peter. He waited until the toddler looked up at him and damn those brown eyes Clint felt a lump form in his throat. "Hey, I need you to listen to me ok. If anything happens, I want you to run. I want you to keep running and don't stop. You fight like hell and you don't stop running. Daddy or Papa or Uncle Bruce or Auntie Tasha will find you, ok? We'll all find you. You gotta remember that bud. But you gotta promise me that if something happens to me you will run. Ok?"
Peter quirked his lips to the side before curling back up against Clint's collarbone with a nod. Gritting his teeth Clint saw the man was gaining on them and he had friends now also chasing behind. Swallowing Clint nuzzled the top of Peter's head before he took a sharp turn into an alley way.
"FBI," The man shouted with his gun aimed. His friends were staring at him with hard eyes their guns also trained on him. People on the street were shouting and running as the cop cars whizzed onto the street and several cops jumped out.
"Put the boy down!"
Peter pressed himself further against Clint grounding the archer in the whirlwind of chaos around them. Clint held his hand up before going to the zipper of his hoodie forcing Peter to leave the warmth.
"Remember what I told you bud." Clint lowered Peter onto the ground and the toddler went behind him with a death grip on his legs.
"Just be calm about this," The man said. "We don't want to hurt you."
"Yeah you do." Clint growled not willing to go down easy. He was pretty sure the cops were legit but the FBI agents could easily have leaked into the system. Their buddy Lewis had already made them lose credibility and Clint clenched his fists. He took a breath and despite the silence of his conscious he just hoped that Peter would run before he could see anything. Bracing himself Clint drew his body taunt like a bow and…
"Stand down, everyone stand down!" Steve Rogers was elbowing through the mass of cops and FBI agents shoving their weapons down and Tony appeared past him looking more ragged than the night before. Peter shot himself forward into Tony's arms. Natasha rocketed through the crowd to Clint holding her hands up. She gave him a pointed look having caught the finality of his gaze just a moment ago, a disapproving scowl on her face.
"What the hell is going on here?" The man from the park shouted above the regrouped Avengers. Steve turned to him with a tamed irritated look as he extended his hand to the man. The man took a moment to recognize him and sputtered as he took his hand.
"Steve Rogers," Steve said. "This man is one of ours."
"Agent Burke, FBI. I'm sorry. My wife and I were at lunch and we saw them. He ran before I could do anything else."
"Papa!" Steve turned just in time for Peter to launch himself into his arms his father chuckling. "Papa, I went on an adventure with Uncle Clint!"
"I see that," Steve chuckled giving Clint a sideways glance with nod. The archer nodded back against the wall he was leaning on as Natasha stood by him protectively.
"I was Auntie Tasha." Peter explained before pinching his face again. Clint finally let out a low laugh with Tony and Steve chuckling. Natasha gave him an amused face before turning to Clint with a look that said he would pay for little impersonation later.
"We took out the rest. We've been looking for you for hours." Natasha said to Clint once the official SHIELD cars pulled up and agents went about covering up the scene. Burke was hustled back to his wife and his men were grouped together. He gave a deep rattled breath that only Natasha could hear as his sore body finally started to give up on itself and with a pointed look she nodded. Clint sucked in a breath of air and took the longest walk to a SHIELD car ever. Burke was watching him and Clint smirked at him before he hopped into the back of the car. Peter was talking animately to Tony and Steve who had a death grip on the kid. Letting out a sigh he felt sleep clawing at him and he relaxed in the back seat hoping to get this debriefing over so he could sleep for a week. Maybe two.
Nick Fury was the biggest bastard that Clint had ever met. Not shortly after he had been debriefed and on his way back to the tower did the director call him in for an assignment. He only had time for a short shower before he had to throw his uniform on and hop into a Quinjet. It was quick though and he had been promised a two week leave for compensation. Clint got it in writing. He refused to accept it until Fury signed the post it note that had those words on it and made sure Natasha hid it where no one would ever find it.
So, Clint dumped his arrows and quiver on the couch in the living room before he made his way into his bedroom. JARVIS already had his shower running and Clint just stood under the rush of the warm water thanking the AI profusely. Pulling on a pair of sweats he stumbled through the dark and up his loft to his bed. Dropping onto the mattress he was asleep within seconds.
He only woke up for a moment at the small body of Peter with his Raggy that had once been the tie of Phil Coulson in his hand pillow his head on Clint's arm.
a/n: If you caught my reference in there to something else dear to my heart, I REGRET NOTHING! Review review review! It'll help make my week!