A Handful of Freaks (or How Clint Barton Finally Found Family)

AU. What Clint thought was the worst thing to ever happen is starting to be the best. / "I have nothing. No family, not even a pet." "Not true. You had nothing. Now you have us. As for a pet, maybe Coulson can smuggle you a goldfish." One-shot.

Rated T for touchy subjects and language.

- O -

"Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten."

David Ogden Stiers

- O -

"You're short." Nicholas Fury looks curiously at the man in front of him. He smiles, completely at ease in the situation. His hair is spiked up and on his feet are mismatching socks- one is grey and the other is white. Glassy blue eyes stare a few feet to Fury's left. A hand is thrust in the direction he's looking, and Fury steps to intercept it.

Fury has heard about the accident. And about the blind man who thinks he can still see.

"Actually, I'm six foot zero." He replies evenly, shaking firmly. "Nick Fury." The man blinks slowly. It's like he's trying to clean the window, and suddenly everything will be crystal clear. It must have failed- obviously- because he instead grins like a maniac and runs his long fingers through his hair.

"Cool. I'm Clint Barton. How long has your hair been green?" Clint's vision is now skewed to the right of Fury. He waits expectantly as Fury tries to decide how to respond. Eventually, he gives up and goes for the obvious.

"I'm bald."

"That's pretty cool." Clint amends, not off-put in the least at his incorrect prediction. Instead he runs his hand along the bed sheet of the hospital bed and hums to himself in thought. He then goes silent for a minute while Fury tries to figure out what to say (or rather, while he gathers his courage.)

"I like sunflower potted plants. How do you think the hospital knew that?" He questions, pointing towards the left bedside table. In the corner of the room, next to Fury, sits a short ceramic pot housing a bunch of plastic violets. What? Clint smiles vaguely and tilts his head back to stare at the ceiling.

"Those are violets." Again, Clint shrugs flippantly and waves a hand around casually.

"Violets are cool too. What do you think I could do to get a pot of those in here?"

"You already have some."

"Really? Was that nurse that just came in hiding them from me?" Again, what?

"Nurse?" Fury asks, and Clint answers eagerly.

"Yeah, Nurse Amanda. You know, short and dainty, with lots of tattoos and long purple hair. She's pretty nice, although nobody else around here knows what she looks like." He shrugs again and shakes his head. "But she's pretty cool."

Fury scratches his head in confusion. Nurse Amanda was the one who let him by at the front desk. And her unscathed, ivory skin, curly brown hair and somewhat-lanky arms leads him to believe they are thinking about the same person. "Yeah, I met her. But her hair is brown now." He is hesitant to add on her description. Clint doesn't go berserk though, he just hums to himself and goes back to lazily bobbing his head.

"So. Why are you here?" He asks curiously, expression mellow. Fury is unsure how to respond to the question. What does he do, come straight out and tell him he's here to put him away in a hospital for the uber-crazy? No siree.

"I heard you're short on money, can't hold your room here for much longer. I work at a hospital with plenty of vacancy. Thought you might want a different offer."

"You mean you think I'm crazy." He rephrases. Fury doesn't bother protesting. The man may be blind and slightly insane, but he's not an idiot. Is he? "If I couldn't see, could I do this?" He snags an uncapped pen from his bed table and hurls it with deadly accuracy and precision across the room. On the opposite wall a paper target is stuck right through the middle with the Bic fountain pen. A trickle of inky royal blue slithers down the punctured sheet. The size of the hole leads Fury to believe that chucking writing utensils at target templates made for carving pumpkins is a popular pastime of the man.

"Where did you get that scar?" He asks suddenly, and Fury is honest-t-goodness shocked. Not that Clint asked him a question like that, because it's practically all he's been doing since he got here. No, Fury reels back in amazement because a long and calloused finger is pointed directly at a thin and wicked looking scar, shiny white against smooth dark skin.

Also, the sudden demeanor change gives him a sense of whiplash. Maybe the guy is bipolar on top of the fact that he's 100% blind 95% of the time.

"Which scar?" He asks, taking hold of the man's wrist. Clint twists a finger and points at the jagged one he was aiming at before, even though Fury had moved his hand.

"That one. It looks like it was painful."

To say Fury is shocked is an understatement. He gulps; the loud analog clock mounted on the wall above the door ticks loudly in the silence. It counts away the seconds until Fury needs to answer Clint's statement, to acknowledge that he was right about not being blind.

What does he say?

Clint shuffles anxiously. Fury bites his tongue and shifts his weight back and forth from foot to foot.

He needs to answer. People like this can be unstable.

The clock is getting louder with each second.

Outside in the hallway, footsteps pound where they were tapping lightly the minute before.

Clint rolls his lifeless eyes agitatedly from one side to the other, as though surveying the room for danger.

Answer.

"It was."

Clint breathes out a small sigh. "Okay."

- O -

"You want me to move hospitals?" He asks. Fury returned a week later, and is now sitting in one of those horribly uncomfortable chairs while he explains the benefits of their new mental hospital. Of course, the name won't be mentioned to Clint for obvious reasons. "What's wrong with this one? Besides, I really like Nurse Amanda. She's so nice and her purple hair is cool." He bobs his head like he's nodding, agreeing with his own statement.

The resistance is somewhat frustrating to Nicholas. Fury doesn't want to go into details about the doctors, who warned him just before he came in that Clint's spot already had a waiting list, and that his brother was starting to ignore the bills he had once promised to take on. If he doesn't show signs of improvement, he'll be abandoned, left for dead in the care of the government or worse- parked out on a street corner in downtown New York, blind and hungry and possibly bi-polar. And he might just have anger issues too.

Basically, Clint's best bet is Fury's new hospital in a sparser part of New York State. "We have top of the line treatments for your eyes, and there are plenty of people you would get along with."

He decides not to mention that he brought this topic up a week ago with drastically different results.

Clint looks unsure, trying to decide whether it's a scam or not. For someone Fury had dubbed mentally insane, he sure isn't an airhead.

"There's other people you can talk to there. The patients are like family." Fury offers again and Clint scowls this time. Fury's hit a nerve.

"I haven't talked to actual family in two years." He admits, a sour tinge to his voice. "I'm sold."

Fury grins, shakes his hand and goes to drop off the paperwork with the front desk. Clint Barton will be in better hands from now on.

- O -

Clint has decided that insanity is a very loose term. To be insane, you basically have to be weird. Like Barney could be considered insane because he likes apples more than almost anything. Nurse Amanda could be considered insane because she likes the scent of freezer burn. Clint could be insane because he says he can see and everybody else says he can't.

But Barney's not insane, although Clint thinks he is, and Nurse Amanda's not insane, and Clint is definitely not insane.

The term family is even looser. From what Clint has heard, you can find family anywhere; even in the toys you would play with as a kid, or the girl next door who always stopped by with some cookies when you were having a bad day. Really, all a person had to do to be family was act like family. Clint trusted Barney, who was family even if he didn't want him to be.

Barney had lost that trust just five minutes ago.

He had come to talk to Clint about something unimportant- probably the bills Barney was forced to pay to keep Clint in the hospital's care. Clint had brought up his musings after a confused declaration of, "You shaved your head!" because in his mind, there was Barney, bald as a pumpkin and red as one of those apples he liked so much.

"No I didn't!" Barney seemed particularly explosive after Clint said that. Like he was doing it on purpose. "Stop that! You're a freak! You cannot see, so just quit it! Quit pretending like you can! I'm done with you! Burn in Hell!" He screamed, knuckles clenched and white and eyes smoldering. Clint had backed off immediately, a large balloon of hurt beginning to swell in his chest. Barney, the only person who'd taken care of him after their parents died, who'd held his hand on their journey to the circus, who'd looked out for him when nobody else did. Barney was disowning him because a stupid drunk driver had ruined his entire freaking life by taking his hands off of the wheel and his eyes off of the road… while driving in the left side lane with his headlights off.

"I'm outta here Clint." He had announced and slammed the door on his way out. There was a surprised yelp of someone being shoved aside, into a cart laden with vaccines and extra IV pouches and linen towels- Clint recognized it as Nurse Amanda's- and then the faded sound of someone stomping down the hall.

That was the last time Clint had seen Barney. Two years, seventeen days, and five point five hours ago today. Afterwards, Clint had promised himself he would never have a family.

He can't help but feel like he's breaking that promise.

- O -

Clint stands in the lobby of Fury's new hospital. In his eyes, the desk is over to the left, and the waiting area is on the right. There's a hallway leading to a set of swinging double doors where he assumes the rooms are located. The counter is painted a light teal color, and there's a thin crack on the paneling along the ivory walls. The chairs in the receptionist area are plush, not hard seated, and the cushions are a warm blue color. Underneath his feet, the squeaky clean tile is white with flecks of grey and red and turquoise.

"The check-in counter is over here," Fury says, a hand on Clint's elbow, leading him to the right side of the room. "Back the way we came is the waiting room, for visitors. The doors to the treatment ward are here," Fury leads him over to the left now. Clint stumbles over something and scowls when he can't look down to see what it is, "And right next to them is the housing wing. We don't have roommates here, but you will have some neighbors. Rooms are arranged in clumps of six, called Assignments. We have space open in all Assignments, so whichever section you're interested in, you can take. Unless of course, we see you fit to place you in either the Avengers Assignment or the SHIELD Assignment. Both have a special set of requirements, and the SHIELD Assignment actually holds twenty four instead of six patients."

Fury leads him through a set of doors. "There are twelve Assignments in total, so that makes-"

Clint interrupts him. "Ninety rooms. What are the rest called?"

"Well, there's only two that actually have names, which are the Avengers Assignment and the SHIELD Assignment. The rest are numbered, one through ten. The rooms go up in letters. So the third room in the fourth ward would be Room 4C. You'll have an evaluation in a while to determine which Assignment you will fit in best with. Until then, I'll be leaving you with Doctor… Oh! There he is now."

Fury leads Clint down the tiled hallway. There are shoes squeaking against the linoleum flooring. His or Fury's? Someone else's? Listen. Footsteps approaching. Listen harder.

Clint looks down and it happens again. His vision flashes, and the black is replaced with a colored scene. A man of average height approaches himself and Fury. Look at his shoes. The man wears a white lab coat that skims the backs of his knees. On his shoes are a nice pair of polished black dress shoes. An immaculate black suit and a dark silk tie like the ones a spy might wear dangle over his arm. A pair of pilot shades is in his right hand.

The vision fades and Clint mentally stores the picture in the back of his mind. Label to be formed now.

"Clint, this is Doctor Phil Coulson. He and I share the work between the Avengers Assignment and the SHIELD Assignment. Doctor Coulson, this is Clint Barton."

Label the photo "Doctor Phil Coulson when he's just arriving at the hospital". "Hello Doctor Coulson. Clint Barton." He pauses pragmatically. "I like your shoes. I had a pair like that a couple of years ago. Course, my brother burned them. Said they were about as classy as a dump truck full of elephant dung rotting in hell."

Unbeknownst to Clint, Doctor Coulson balks at Doctor Fury. He mouths something and Fury nods in agreement.

"Thanks. My friends always make fun of my shoes too. I suspect I might be working with you one day. Until then, follow me. Doctor Fury," Coulson turns to address the other doctor. "The Council sends their wishes that you might be on Channel fifty seven in ten minutes. Conference room eleven is open for your use. I suggest you hurry. They're in a foul mood today."

Fury nods and shakes Clint's hand. "I'm sure I'll be seeing you again. Coulson will stay with you until it's your turn for the examination. I do believe Nurse Hill will be administering it." He turns to go, off down one of the corridors Clint saw earlier, when Fury stops and turns around again. "Report his results straight to me, Doctor."

And then Fury leaves Clint with Doctor Coulson. Clint has a strange feeling that he's going to like it here.

- O -

"Coffee? We make it pretty crappy here, but it's better than nothing. Just watch out for Stark- this is his Assignment's designated kitchen and he's addicted." Coulson hands over a ceramic mug, cool on Clint's warm fingertips. Here in one of the twelve little cafeterias, Clint sits with Doctor Coulson at a round table, his feet propped up on the chair to his right. It's peaceful and quiet- very much so compared to the hospital he was in before.

Listen. Uh-oh. Here it comes again. Refrigerator humming, ice machine grinding. Coffee dripping from the Keurig into another mug, this one for Coulson. Listen harder. The clock is ticking on the wall. Out in the hallway, a door swings open and taps the wall. There. Look.

It's homey, like a mother bear sporting a pink gingham apron came in and threw up honey all over the place, which was turned into decorations. The theme seems to be honey bees and pots that look suspiciously like those in Winnie the Pooh. The table is made of a light colored wood, and the chairs are cushioned with yellow and brown checkered seat cushions.

His mug is a pure shade of ivory. On it is deep purple mask that looks almost masquerade style. Underneath the mask is a pair of crossed arrows with silver tips and purple fletching. The decal reminds him of a skull and crossbones, like those on a pirate's flag. He tilts the rim of the cup away from his face and studies the bold purple words printed underneath: THE AMAZING HAWKEYE- MAY, 1965. He spins the cup around and studies the other side. It is blank, save for a spidery grey crack that's been painted over with a clear gloss running down the ceramic.

The vision fades and he tucks this picture away with the other one he took today. Label it Hawkeye, just because he likes the mug.

"Who's Hawkeye?"

Coulson looks over at him from the counter and spies the coffee cup sitting innocently on the table. "Oh. He was a comic book character. Master assassin, lethal with a knife, unstoppable with a bow. He was a villain in the beginning, I think it was 1964, September. He joined the Avengers in May, 1965."

"The Avengers?"

"Oh. We named this Assignment after the Avengers. They're a team of superheroes. There's six original teammates: Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and my favorite, Captain America. Actually," Coulson pauses, and Clint hears the air around the doctor's head shifting as he turns his head. "Don't tell anybody, but there are five people in the Avengers Assignment. And it's so weird, but… each one of them is like a clone of one of the Avengers. That's why we named it the Avengers Assignment. The only Avenger missing is Hawkeye."

Clint sets the mug down on the table with a dull 'thunk'. "You think I'm Hawkeye."

Coulson swallows. "Yes."

"You gave me the Hawkeye cup because you think I'm Hawkeye. I bet there are five other mugs in the cabinet where you got mine from, and each one has one of the Avengers on it. And only the person who represents each Avenger can drink out of the cup with their Avenger." He waits for confirmation. "Can't they?"

Coulson is silent. The sound of a cabinet door swinging open replies instead, and then there is another mug in his hand.

Clint runs his fingers over the painted decal. A circle. A circle inside that circle. Another inside that one. One more after that. A star in the middle. Underneath he feels the words: CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE FIRST AVENGER- MARCH, 1941.

The other side of this cup is not blank though. There are two words and a short string of numbers, painted on DIY style- Steve Rogers, 2010.

"Yes."

- O -

Fury finds Coulson and Clint in the Avengers Assignment's assigned kitchen, drinking coffee and facing away from each other. The Keurig machine Tony bought for them a year ago hums.

"How was the exam?" He asks slowly. Coulson stands and shoots a wary- almost nervous- glance at Clint.

"Come with me." Fury finds himself being yanked into the hallway. "He needs to be in room 12E. Maria gave me the test results herself."

Fury is floored. "You mean… he's the last one. He's Hawkeye." Coulson nods.

"Yes."

It seems he's doing that a lot today.

- O -

"This will be your room. E." Coulson opens the door and leads Clint inside. If you were to look at Clint's room from the sky, the bottom serving as the wall separating Clint from the hallway, then in the right corner of the room is the door, where they are now. Stationed halfway up the left side is a queen sized bed draped with a light lavender duvet. Folded neatly and waiting on the corner is a black fleece blanket.

Across from the foot of the bed is a wardrobe. To the left of the wardrobe is the door to the closet. The bathroom is on the other side. On the wall opposite the hallway is a window that takes up nearly the entire space. Sunlight filters in through the dusty brown wooden blinds.

"What assignment is this?" Clint asks. Coulson frowns guiltily.

"The Avengers Assignment. The test results came back positive."

Clint just sighs. He knew it all along. It seems everyone else did too.

- O -

"Stark! Open this door! You have a neighbor!" Coulson raps on door A for the fifth time. Rock music blares from the inside, and Clint picks the opening chords of Black Sabbath's Iron Man out of the sound of a hammer clanging against metal. Then, the music stops, the clanging ceases and door A swings open. Behind it is a man, probably in his late thirties or possibly his early forties. His skin is tanned and his eyes and hair are the same color- a chestnut shade of brown. He sports a stylish mustache- goatee combo, and has a handsome face. He wears a dark Black Sabbath t-shirt, and a pair of torn blue jeans with loose thread hanging out of the seams on the side. Oil and grease marks stain his clothes. Add to that the protective goggles and the noise cancelling headphones hanging around his neck, plus the fact that he's barefoot. He looks like a homeless hippie.

Clint hasn't even realized his sight has returned. Because it has, he sneaks a glance behind the man into the room. The furniture is shoved at haphazard angles along the hot-rod-red walls, and the center of the room is occupied with a steel table piled high with scraps and tools. Lastly, printe on the front of the door, in the middle, where a room letter should go, is instead a gold facemask with red trimming. Vision fades. Wait for label.

"Clint this is Tony Stark. The folks around here call him Iron Man. And Tony, this is Clint Barton. He's your new neighbor."

Tony studies Clint for a moment, then laughs. "Well Hawkeye. Welcome to the team." And then the door slams shut. Clint finds himself grinning at the closed door.

"I like him."

Coulson sighs good-naturedly. "Most everyone does. He and Steve clash kind of a lot, but they're best friends when they aren't ripping each other's head off. Tony may seem kind of rude, but it's his nature. He was a billionaire, and a genius, with an IQ in the 180s. He still is, I guess, but his dad's friend stuck him in here after he decided he would rather invent full suits of armor with working flight and tracking systems than of weapons."

"And he's cool with that?"

"Oh no, he was pissed off at first, but Tony never really had anyone he was close to when he ran Stark Industries. Now he has the Avengers. Plus, they booted the guy who put him in here and replaced him with Virginia Potts. He was CEO, and then suddenly he wasn't. Practically everybody knew he was just after ensuring that he wouldn't lose his title to Tony. That definitely backfired on him."

Clint laughs, then stops because Coulson has led him over to door B.

"Thor? Could you come out? I have somebody I want you to meet."

From inside the room, a booming voice ensures them that he will be there in a minute, and true to his word the door swings open exactly a minute later.

"Hello Friend Doctor Coulson! Hello new person!" He exclaims heartily. Clint waves back. Vision is back. Why is it so frequent today?

Thor is a tall man in what looks to be his late twenties to early thirties. He sports a trimmed golden beard and mustache, and his hair touches his shoulders. Unlike Tony, Thor is dressed in clean clothing that looks relatively fresh. He sports a light blue button-up that is not buttoned up- ironic much- and a white t-shirt underneath. His faded blue jeans are still sewn together. His clear blue eyes examine Clint closely.

One peek inside the room allows Clint to see that Thor's room is untouched from its original set-up. Vision fades again. Label it Thor and store it in the back of the brain.

"Thor, this is Clint Barton. Clint, this is Thor Odinson. He's… well, he's Thor Odinson. That's how we knew he was an Avenger."

Thor thrusts out his muscular hand for a handshake. Clint takes it and shakes firmly, which cause Thor to laugh heartily.

"You must be Hawkeye. The good doctors here have informed us of our missing brother. I am glad that you are finally home. I bid you good luck on your first day here."

Clint freezes. Brother. He forces a smile. "Thanks."

- O -

"So why is Thor in here? He seems perfectly normal." Clint states when they are standing in front of door C. He remembers back to image of Thor's room and picks out the grey hammer with the hammerhead the size of a watermelon in comparison to the leather wrapped handle.

Coulson, who is about to knock, stops. He opens his mouth to reply when the door in front of them opens and someone appears in the doorway.

"He has visions about a place called Asgard. Claimed he was a golden haired warrior and carried a hammer. Said he was prince of the place. Maria looked it up, found out his description of himself fit the Norse god Thor exactly, and boom. Here he is. I'm Bruce Banner. People call me the Hulk." Clint stares at the man for a second, then frowns.

"What's the matter?" Bruce Banner asks.

"I can't see you."

Coulson steps in here. "Right. Bruce, this is Clint Barton, Hawkeye. He's ah… blind, but he's not."

Bruce Banner sounds intrigued. "However so?"

"Well, I can see sometimes, but most of the time I can't. I thought it was getting better. I could see Tony and Thor. But I can't see you."

"Well, in that case, I am Bruce Banner. My real name's Robert, but Bruce fits better with Banner than Robert does. I'm a year younger than Tony, and I have hair a couple of shades greyer than he does. Our eyes are the same. I have some stubble I guess, and… Should I tell you what I'm wearing?" Bruce asks.

Clint can't nod enthusiastically enough.

"Okay. Then I am wearing a long sleeved purple button-up dress shirt and grey pants. And brown shoes. My hair is kind of curly. And I'm holding a cup of tea."

Clint is touched. Nobody has ever done that for him before. After he thanks Bruce and the man shuts the door, he turns to Coulson. "What about him?"

Coulson shoots a wary glance at Bruce's door, then pulls Clint halfway down the hallway so they're between doors. "He has anger issues. Like, on a major scale. They're so bad they've become a sort of alter ego. When he can't control himself, we call him letting off steam 'Hulking out'."

"Oh."

"He's normally the kind of guy he just was. He's a genius too, studied physics and radioactivity and had an IQ in the 170s before he started freaking out."

"Oh."

- O -

"Steve? You in there?" Coulson calls. Wait. Vision is coming back. Concentrate.

"Yeah. I'll be out in a sec." Clint stares at the door. He can see again. Same door, except this one has the shield he felt before on the coffee cup. Captain America.

Then there's a man in the doorway- take it in quick. Close cropped golden hair, clear blue eyes, impressive jaw, broad shoulders, very muscular, slim waist. Plaid button up- what is with these people and button ups? - and khakis, brown loafers, brown leather riding jacket.

"Morning Coulson. Who's this?" Vision fades. Wait for a label.

"Hello Steve. This is Clint Barton. Clint, this is Steve Rogers." Label picture Steve Rogers.

Steve looks at Clint curiously, notices the way his eyes aren't exactly focused, even though he swore they were when he first opened the door. Then Clint extends his hand and Steve shakes it. "So you're supposed to be Captain America?" Clint asks.

The man in question blushes. "Well, it's a much respected title. I suppose I am. I'm actually in here because I am him… at least I think I was in a past life. I get PTSD from the war, through his eyes. I guess that was the tip-off to Miss Maria. She told Coulson here, Coulson told Mr. Fury and the rest is history." Steve smiles. "And you're in here because you're Hawkeye. And judging from your eyes, you're part blind. And when you're not, you have amazing eyesight."

"You know, I think you were once Captain America too." And Steve smiles and shuts the door.

- O -

Natasha Romanoff isn't in the day Clint Barton meets everyone else on the 'team'. Coulson explains that she goes back and forth between the SHIELD Assignment and the Avengers Assignment, and would spend a couple nights over there, and would then return for a couple nights with the Avengers. Clint first meets the Black Widow at breakfast with the team, when Steve is both making scrambled eggs and bickering with Tony over why the billionaire does indeed need to pour the orange juice, because no, people do not typically share one pitcher when there are clean cups right there in the cupboards.

Clint is spending his fourth morning with the team today, when she walks in and it's coincidental that his vision is working when she does so.

Natasha Romanoff is gorgeous, with vibrant cherry red hair that falls in corkscrews down her back. She's thin but muscular and wears black heels with her jeans and blouse and tan leather jacket.

When she comes in with a smile on and a compliment already on her lips ("Steve, it, as always, smells delicious!"), and then she spots him and her expression goes kind of icy until she sees the cup he's holding that's full of coffee, and notices the purple mask on the front. And then she smiles.

"Hey there cutie. You're Hawkeye, huh? The boys back in SHILED were saying they'd finally found you. Coulson was smiling like an idiot all day." She says, pulling the bar stool out from underneath the counter with a flick of her heel. She sits down daintily and tosses her hair over her shoulder. Clint is kind of mesmerized with watching it bounce against her back.

"I- ah, yeah. Clint Barton." He introduces himself. She curls her bright red lips up.

"Natasha Romanoff. Welcome to the team." And then, just like that, Clint is a part of the team, and he's never felt happier.

- O -

Clint finally gets fed up with the family talk a month later, because even Tony's been calling him a brother now, and after Barney, Clint isn't open to anymore brothers. So he snaps at them and all five of them stop talking and watching their Doctor Who marathon and Thor even stops shoveling popcorn down his throat.

"I'm not like you. I'm not your brother. I have nothing. No family, not even a pet." Clint feels like he's breaking because everybody else here is everybody else's family, and Clint is like this outsider to their little group. And they've talked about their families before in front of him, and even though Tony's family and Bruce's family were pretty jacked up, Tony had his butler, Jarvis, and Bruce had his mom. Natasha didn't even know her family, and she still had a guy named James who took her in for a while before she was admitted to the Marvel's Mental Institution of New York, New York for being convinced she was a Russian Assassin.

"Not true." Tony says angrily. "You had nothing. Now you have us." He stops and quirks a smile.

"And as for a pet, maybe Coulson can smuggle you a goldfish."

Clint pictures Coulson sneaking around in that suit and those glasses he saw him in the first day, wearing a wireless earpiece, carrying around one of those plastic bags with a goldfish in it like those you could win at the circus in a briefcase, and cracks up. And the rest of his family follows suit.

- O -

Clint looks up at the sound of a knocking on his doorframe, and sees Steve there, with Tony and Natasha and Thor and Bruce, before his vision fades again.

Doctor Coulson and Doctor Fury say he might actually regain his sight over the next couple years. For now he's ecstatic that it's improving like this.

Clint waves them in. He has a feeling he's going to like this visit.

Steve smiles and places something cool in Clint's hands. He knows what it is, he just has to be sure. Subconsciously, his fingertips trace the familiar little decal on the front before drifting to the back. There it is: Clint Barton, 2013.

- O -

"Family is not an important thing. It's everything."

Michael J. Fox

- O -

A/N: Review! Please! I love reviews. They make me do funny dances!

Okay, so I'm trying something new. Because I am not committed enough to have a Beta (and also because I can't figure out how to get one- no worries! Google exists for a reason!), you guys are my Betas for this story. Which means that I will not even be re-reading. I am taking my well-deserved break from this story. So in the meantime, spill everything you don't think works. I'll come back later, read any and all reviews and PMs, and then will rewrite this. SO! Three cheers for experiments!

My favorite part is the coffee with Coulson part. And where he's meeting Thor. And those last few lines. And the bit that's in the summary. It's like all the places where everything is meeting ends in the story. Eeee! I just love it!

Also, I am super excited because this is officially my longest story yet! Hooray!

Once again, constructive criticism is always welcome, because let's face it. My work kind of sucks. I'm aiming to get better, but that won't happen without some help from you. While little notes like 'Update!' (this is a one-shot- sorry) or 'I luv this!' (aww, go on!) are always appreciated (y'all are so sweet!), errors you caught should definitely be brought to my attention. And while flamers who hate for no reason aren't okay, if you didn't like a part and you can tell me why, feel free to do so.

Thank you!

- O -

ESTIMATED WORD COUNT (done before writing the actual story: 5,000

ACTUAL WORD COUNT: 5,425!