Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of "The Avengers," they belong to Joss Whedon, Stan Lee, the MCU and people much cooler than I. I also don't own the characters of Mission Impossible, I think they belong to Paramount. This is the last chapter I'm borrowing them anyway.
"This is all your fault!" Laura Brandt was yelling.
"How, Laura?" Donald Brandt shot back. "Did I call up the recruiters personally? Did I ace those tests for Will?"
Will and Clint lay in bed, listening to the fight. "I hate this," Will said, leaning over the side of his bunk. "It's not Dad's fault…why's she saying it's his fault?"
"'Cause of all that time at the shooting range," Clint replied, tossing a baseball into the air below him. "Cause of all those times he showed us off to the guys at the precinct. 'Cause she needs someone to blame and she can't blame us…." His voice trailed off.
"I knew this's exactly what was gonna happen," Will said. "We shoulda just lied, man. Told her we were gonna go be like, mall cops or something."
"That woulda made her feel worse," Clint pointed out. "She's been telling us all our lives that we're gonna do big things."
"Guess this is too big," Will said quietly.
"Nah, man," Clint said, sitting up and poking his head out to look at his brother. "We were born for this."
New York City
It had been three days since the Malibu incident. After the dust had settled, Justin Hammer was put back in prison, some maximum security place in upstate New York that he'd never get out of. The place was reserved for the craziest of crazy psychopaths, or as Benji'd put it, "All of Hammer's rowdy friends."
Ethan was nursing a broken wrist from his roll into a fountain in Tony's front courtyard. Bruce had set it the best he could, but suggested that the IMF leader go to a real doctor because, "I'm not really that kind of doctor." Steve had hauled the three enforcers of Justin's into the garage himself, where Jane and Benji happily had held them at gunpoint until the Malibu police had shown up.
Tony had taken one look at the Malibu mansion and proclaimed that it was going to need 'a little fixing up.' He'd promptly called his contractor, and then called Happy to find another limo to take them back to New York.
"You're not staying to see the renovations?" Pepper asked, as if she couldn't believe that the industrialist didn't want to tear the place apart himself and put it back together.
"Nope, they got this," Tony said. "The only request I'm making is no white carpet." He'd turned to everyone. "We're going back to New York. We're going back to the tower. And then we're going to have the party to end all parties." He looked at Pepper. "That OK with you, boss lady?"
She'd agreed so fast Tony thought he'd missed it.
That was how Will Brandt found himself once again in Tony Stark's living room, watching the snow fall on the city, a glass of tequila in one hand. The other hand was holding Jane's. "At some point, we're going to have to figure out how this-" he shook her hand- "is going to work."
"If you even think about suggesting that I stay home with the kids…" Jane threatened him.
"Kids?" Will sputtered. "Jesus, Jane."
Her brown eyes laughed at him. "Sue me if I want to take things a little faster than, you know, glacial speed," she said. "Do you know how long I've been waiting for this?"
"How long?" he asked, challenging her.
"The night you and Ethan jumped on that train car," she replied.
His eyes widened. "That was the first time I'd ever seen you-in person, anyway." Her file'd come across his desk in the whole Hanaway thing.
"Well," Jane shrugged. "When you know, you know, right?"
"You know…." Will agreed, and then he frowned. "Jane, I might not be…you know…completely okay now." He shrugged. "I'm still having nightmares."
"So we'll work through them together," she said. "You don't have to be afraid to ask for help," she told him. "We're all here for you." Then she smiled mischievously. "Besides, if you have another relapse, I have Captain America as a fallback guy."
His eyes widened. "Oh yeah? Can Cap do this to you?" He brushed her hair back and kissed her full on the lips. She kissed him back and it made him almost as dizzy as the tequila.
"Definitely not," she breathed when they came up for air.
Will had spotted something over her shoulder. He looked down at her. "Hold that thought," he said. "I'll be right back."
She watched him head for the door, confused. Then she saw what was outside on the balcony.
Jane smiled as she went to go find Natasha.
It was cold, but not quite as cold as Will had expected it to be for New York in December. He rolled the sleeves of his shirt down as he joined his brother on the stairs. "Hey," he said cautiously. Both of them had learned that sudden movements and voices out of nowhere were not helping their recoveries.
Clint took a second before he turned. "Hey," he replied back. Will sat down next to him. "Freakin' cold out," he said.
Clint shook the bottle in his hand. "Can't feel it," he said.
"Declassify that statement," Will said.
His brother paused. "I have been trying to figure out for three days how to apologize to you," he said finally.
Will frowned. "Apologize?" he repeated. "For what?"
"Will, when I joined SHIELD, I changed my name so that stuff like this wouldn't happen. So I wouldn't put you, or Mom, or Dad, in any sort of danger." He chuckled grimly. "That turned out well."
Will said, "Justin Hammer was a moron, which is about 90 percent of the reason we ended up in this mess at all. Though, how he could mistake me for you is still beyond my comprehension. Clearly I'm better looking."
Clint snorted, and Will smiled. "The point is, we were made to get into trouble, Clint," he said, turning serious. "So this was bound to happen sooner or later. We knew the risks going in."
Clint listened to the sounds of traffic below them. Inside he heard Natasha laughing at something Bruce said. If he'd turned around, he could've told you what the joke was. "You know, Jane mentioned something to me when we were in Tony's garage…."
"She did, huh?" Will replied.
He nodded. He poked Will's chest with one finger. "You're the reason I am the way I am."
Will frowned. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he demanded.
Clint sighed. "That came out wrong." He rolled his eyes. And this is why I do better from a distance. "What I meant was…." He tapped the SHIELD emblem on his hooded sweatshirt. "You're the reason I'm this way that I am. Not a stressed out nightmare." He looked at his brother. The person who knew him better than anybody was about to get a whole new insight into him. "Do you remember when we were about seven or eight, and I was home sick from school, and Dad was off, and you and him went to the gun range after school?"
Will thought back. "Vaguely. I mean, that was like thirty some years ago."
"Okay, well whatever," Clint waved his hand, "the age doesn't matter. Do you remember how much Dad was braggin' you up at the dinner table?"
Will closed his eyes. "Yeah," he said after a moment. "I hit four bullseyes." He smiled, remembering. "That was when we started making regular trips to the range."
"Exactly," Clint replied. His brother still looked lost, and so Clint pressed on. "You made it a regular thing. For like three weeks straight, that's all you guys did, was go to the range every spare minute you had." He took a drink and chuckled. "God, you shoulda heard Dad talk about his little Clint Eastwood."
A light dawned in Will's eyes. "That was when you started practicing with the compound bow," he realized.
Clint nodded. "Yup." He shook his head and stared down at the city lights below them. "I used to fire off arrows until my arm was so sore I couldn't lift it." He glanced at Will from the corner of his eye. "I wanted Dad to brag me up." He let out a breath. "I was gonna outshine my little brother come hell or high water."
"You never told me any of this," Will said. He shook his head in disbelief. "And I never saw it." He sighed. "Apparently I grew into being an analyst."
"When we were comin' up that tunnel, Jane said I was jealous of you," he said. Clint looked his brother in the eye. "She's right."
"Well, you're not half as jealous of me as I am of you," Will countered. "For one thing, if I had to listen to anything about the 'Amazing Hawkeye' one more time, I was gonna punch a wall." He looked at his brother. "Or you."
Clint smiled. "For another thing…." Will downed the last of his tequila. "You're my big brother so…I've looked up to you from day one. I mean, even though we're identical or whatever, people always said, 'there goes the Brandt boys, and boy that Clint-yada yada yada'." He looked at him. "Loki said it, you know."
At the name, Clint's whole body tensed. Will touched a hand to his arm and after a moment, Clint relaxed. "Loki said you had heart." He looked at Clint. "He wasn't wrong."
Clint paused, listening to the traffic. "We're a messed up pair," he admitted.
"Yeah we are," Will said. "But come on, we save the world from terrorists and space aliens-"
"And jackass billionaires."
"-and jackass billionaires, present company not included," Will jerked a thumb back at Tony's living room and Clint grinned. "So we're bound to be a little screwed up."
"Yeah," Clint replied after a moment. "I guess so."
"So….that fight we had the other day…"
Clint grinned. "What fight?"
Will laughed. "All right, well screw this, man, I'm freakin' cold. I'm goin' inside. You coming?"
Clint nodded. "In a minute." Will eyed him. "I swear," Clint said. "Just a sec."
He waited until Will had gone inside, saw him snake a hand around Jane's waist. She said something and he laughed.
Natasha caught his eye through the window. He offered her a smile, and she nodded back. Amazing how you could have a whole conversation and never move your lips.
He looked up in the sky, catching snowflakes on his face, but he couldn't feel them. "Coulson, man," he said. "God damn it, I miss you. I'm sorry, Phil, so sorry, that I wasn't there to help you." He sighed. "I'll spend every day of my life making it up to you, one goddamned space monster, terrorist, mutated bunny, whatever, at a time."
Clint chuckled. "I'm talkin' to myself. So much for being better." He pushed back from the railing and turned to go inside. A light breeze caught his jacket and ruffled his hair. He froze, then looked back.
No one there. "Thanks," he said after a moment.
He'd be okay, he decided. He had his little brother. He had Natasha. He had his team. His family.
Author's Note: THANK YOU so much to everybody that read, alerted, favorited, lurked, etc. etc. etc. I apologize that I don't handle fluffy brotherly love talks very well. Constructive criticism is usually warranted and always appreciated. This isn't the last of me in this universe, believe me, the Brandt/Barton brothers will be back!