I wrote this story as a birthday present for my awesome friend, AGriffinWriter, who is a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Thank you to our friends, Laura and Heather, for the beta! So this was a little bit of fun, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as AGriffinWriter and I did! Spoilers for the episode of Buffy "Once More With Feeling".
Clint Barton had had a long day full of meetings and strategic talks and paperwork. Clint hated paperwork. Spies shouldn't have to do paperwork. He really needed to put his feet up for awhile, so he headed up to the lounge on Stark Tower's thirty-second floor. He made himself a large bowl of extra-buttery popcorn, flopped down on the couch, and turned on Netflix. It was time to do something he hadn't done in far too long.
He was glad no one seemed to be around, for this was an indulgence he rarely shared with anyone. It was a part of himself that he kept just for Clint, something he could treasure without anybody else poking their nose in it like they did the other 99% of his life. He was sort of ashamed to admit it, but he hadn't even told Natasha.
Clint Barton's guilty pleasure was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
This wasn't to be just any regular viewing of the nineties cult classic, either. No, tonight, Clint would be watching his very favorite episode, Once More, with Feeling. It wasn't just Buffy - it was Buffy with copious musical numbers!
He had just gotten comfortable (stretched out on the couch, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, popcorn bowl within less than an arm's reach in front of him), when he heard the ding of the elevator and footsteps approaching the lounge. He wasn't sure whether to feel glad that he might finally have someone to share his appreciation for Buffy with, or nervous as to what the outcome of this situation would be. He supposed it depended upon who it was.
Please be Natasha. Please? Or Bruce. Bruce would be fine. Or Steve. Heck, even Loki. Just please don't be...
"Hey Legolas, whatcha watch...Holy Guacamole! Is that Buffy the Vampire Slayer?!"
"Maybe." Clint shoved a fistful of popcorn into his mouth and chewed very slowly. This was no longer an optimal situation. And his day had just gotten even longer. Stark was going to think he was a girl. Which was already sort of a problem, since he and Natasha had started dating. Everyone was less hardcore than his girlfriend. Literally.
"Awesome! I've always been curious about this show." Tony tried to flop down on the couch next to him, but Clint pushed him away with the jab of a foot. The billionaire ended up in the armchair next to Clint's head.
"Who said you were invited?" Clint took another bite of popcorn.
"It's my tower. I'm always invited." Tony crossed his arms over his chest, resembling an eccentrically-bearded five-year-old. Clint rolled his eyes.
"And," he continued, "I get to choose who else is invited." Before Clint could stop him, Tony addressed his Artificial Intelligence system.
"JARVIS, give the signal! Avengers Assemble for MOVIE NIGHT!"
"Musical pop culture television night," grumbled Clint, moaning and pressing his face into his blanket. It was only a matter of seconds before Thor appeared.
"To what film shall we be treated on this fine evening, friends?"
"You'll like it, Hammer Time," grinned Tony, as the rest of their friends began filing in.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer?" asked Bruce, squinting at the screen through his glasses.
"Vampires? Like Dracula?" inquired Steve curiously.
"Vampires, like soulless, undead demons that can only exist on Earth by leaving their own dimension and possessing human corpses," replied Natasha. Clint looked up at her, eyes wide. Natasha had known about Buffy all this time? He knew there was a reason he loved her.
"Whom do I eviscerate for this crass disruption of my magical studies?" growled Loki, the last to arrive. Everyone pointed at Tony.
"I'll help," offered Clint. Loki rolled his eyes and flopped down on the couch next to his brother, looking thoroughly annoyed.
With the entire team sitting around, looking at him expectantly, Clint realized there was little he could do but press "play".
"This one's a musical," he informed them simply.
"Sounds great! I love musicals," said Steve enthusiastically.
"You would," Tony deadpanned. Steve blinked once in his direction, slowly and innocently.
"Why are they all singing?" inquired Thor. His head was tilted to one side, making him look like a confused spaniel.
"Apparently...bunnies," said Loki dryly. He looked bored.
"Can that happen?" Thor asked him. Loki rolled his eyes, exasperated.
"I agree with Anya," said Tony, making everyone else turn suddenly to regard him with confusion.
"You think bunnies are making them all sing?" Natasha raised one ginger eyebrow.
"No, just that bunnies are...I don't know. They're weird."
"Weird?" Bruce pushed subtly.
"Yeah, they're just...too cute, you know? They're all fluffy and cute and their noses do that...that thing." Tony twitched his nose to demonstrate. "It's creepy."
"Tony Stark is scared of bunnies," declared Clint with a wide grin.
"Clint Barton is going to find himself out on the curb without a big screen TV to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer if he doesn't shut up."
Clint smirked and turned silently back to the television. But he had to stifle his laughter when he heard Natasha whisper "hippity-hop" from beside him.
Everyone was quiet, except for Clint providing a few necessary explanations for the uninitiated, until a certain bleach-blonde vampire appeared on the screen.
"Who's that?" asked Steve, eager to keep up with the story. "I like his leather jacket."
"That's Spike," said Clint.
"He's a vampire," said Natasha.
"So...Buffy's going to slay him? Since she's the vampire slayer?"
"Not exactly," replied Natasha. "It's complicated."
"I wish to understand," stated Thor. Natasha sighed.
"He's like two hundred years old."
"Let me explain, Thor. He was a poet, but everyone made fun of him because his poetry was so bad. So then he became a vampire and staked his own mother. Then he ended up in Sunnydale, where his girlfriend eventually broke up with him."
"That sounds rather...sad," said Loki quietly. "No one likes him." He looked vaguely reflective.
"Yeah, and he even has an accent like yours and everything!" Tony was being purposefully overenthusiastic.
"You'll pay for that, Stark," growled Loki with an acerbic glare.
"So Spike's just hanging out in Sunnydale?" Bruce tried desperately to get the conversation back on track.
"Yes," said Natasha.
"He's in love with Buffy," said Clint.
"Does she love him back?" asked Steve.
"No," said Natasha.
"She will someday," sighed Clint, clutching his fuzzy blanket a little tighter. Everyone turned to look at him, wide-eyed.
"What?! I ship it," said Clint, a little defensively. "I mean, come on! They're perfect for each other! No one else really understands what Buffy has to go through as the slayer, and no one else can see through to Spike's past and all his buried emotions and stuff like Buffy can. Yeah, they've had some fights and some rough spots, but they're just settling into their relationship. They'll figure it out." He paused and looked around at the six pairs of alarmed eyes staring at him. "What?!"
"I can't believe I'm hearing this. My boyfriend's into fantasy chick-flick motifs." Natasha got up from the couch without another word and left the room.
"Hey! This is team bonding time!" yelled Tony after her. He got no response. "Well that was mean," he said to no one in particular, crossing his arms over his chest again.
"What, you wanna try and go get her and drag her back down here? She'll kick your butt with your suit on! She's tougher than Buffy." Even as let-down as he felt, Clint couldn't help but smile a little to himself.
"You would compare your own girlfriend, who's more hardcore than you, to Buffy the Vampire Slayer," laughed Tony. Clint glared. And then he continued to stare at the television.
"I wish to sing all of the time like the people of the realm of Sunnydale," announced Thor following Spike's rousing rock solo, "Rest in Peace".
"How about not?" deadpanned Loki.
"You know how terrible your singing voice is."
"I'm with Thor," contributed Steve. "I think living inside a musical would be fun. In general, the residents of Sunnydale seem to be enjoying living their lives through song."
"They're also spontaneously combusting," Bruce pointed out.
Steve and Thor were quiet after that.
The demon had just finished taking Dawn away when Natasha returned rather unexpectedly to the lounge, carrying several long, thick pieces of wood and a knife.
"What?" asked Tony simply. Natasha didn't answer. She just silently sat down on the other end of the couch from Clint and began methodically rasping away at one end of a piece of wood.
"'Tasha? You okay?" prompted Clint softly, but his girlfriend ignored him. Puzzled, Clint studied her for several seconds before it suddenly hit him what she was doing.
"So, Natasha's sharpening stakes...I think we should maybe not disturb her."
Everyone else's eyes grew wide and they all nodded silently.
Most of the rest of the episode passed quietly, with the continuous, even sound of Natasha's knife whittling the sticks to a fine, terrifying-looking point providing a background to the narration of the show. She didn't seem to be paying attention to the show until, just as Buffy was about to dance her way into incineration, Spike stepped in with a rather heartbreaking request that Buffy persevere through the pain she felt from being pulled from Heaven. By continuing to live, Buffy allowed the soulless Spike to live in his own way.
He was dead inside, thought Clint. But he saved her, not because it was the right thing to do, but because something about her makes him feel like life's worth living. Huh. He'd never realized before just how familiar that story sounded. Then he realized that the sound of stake-sharpening had ceased, and that Natasha was looking up at the television. She turned to look at him just as he laid a hand on her knee, and they shared an understanding smile.
"Saps," said Tony, who had of course noticed the whole exchange. Natasha picked up a stake and aimed the point in his direction. Tony shut his mouth.
As Buffy and Spike shared a passionate kiss at the end of the episode (something which never failed to delight Clint to the utmost end), the archer glanced around the room to judge his friends' reactions. Bruce looked mildly embarrassed, Tony looked exasperated, Steve was smiling, Thor was blubbering, Loki was blinking back tears of his own ("that was the worst hour I've ever spent, they're tears of boredom"), and, to Clint's surprise, Natasha seemed to quietly approve of the ending.
"So, thoughts?" he asked her as the group broke up.
"I've seen the episode before, Clint. I've seen all of Buffy."
"But you have new thoughts."
"Maybe I do."
"Do they have to do with Spike and Buffy?"
"Are you ever going to give me a direct answer?"
"Are you the one currently in possession of several stakes they could use on someone who annoyed them?"
They both grinned.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer nights became a regular thing after that. Clint had to say he didn't mind sharing his quiet-time activity with his friends, especially since they, for the most part, appeared to enjoy it (even Loki, though he would never admit it).
Occasionally, Clint would walk in on Steve or Thor singing to themselves about some random daily task they were performing. Steve especially liked to sing about making pancakes. Clint supposed that, as long as he got some pancakes, he wouldn't complain.
About a week after they watched Once More, with Feeling, there were screams to be heard all throughout the tower. They emanated from Tony's bedroom, and when the billionaire came flying down the hall blabbering almost incoherently that his room was full of bunnies, it was ironic that Loki was nowhere to be found for several hours.
One night, after a particularly angsty episode entitled "Grave", during which all of the characters experienced much pain and suffering, Tony asked,
"Who directed this show again?"
"Joss Whedon," responded Clint, from where he was nestled next to Natasha on the couch.
"Hmm. So, if they ever decide to make a movie about our great adventures as famous superheroes, which would be super cool, remind me not to let Joss Whedon direct it."
And for once, everyone was in agreement.