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A New Way to Bleed

By Genevieve Kelly

Action / Adventure

Chapter 1

A New Way to Bleed

Chapter One

The battle in New York was two weeks ago and the scars, both physical and mental, left over from Loki's attack were still fresh, mainly among the Avengers. Unfortunately, there wasn't time for them to rest or to mourn for their losses. Each of them had things to do that could not be held off until they were ready to come back to work.

Seeing as everyone knew that Tony Stark was Iron Man and that he was involved in fighting with the other unknown heroes, he was the one that had become bombarded by the press, all of whom wanted answers to questions such as who had initiated the attack against the city, who were the other mysterious heroes that had fought alongside him, or were the others even heroes?

Tony refused to reveal his friends' identities in order to keep them safe and away from the dark scrutiny that came with consequences of their fight with Loki. Whenever he was confronted with the question of whether or not his friends were his allies, Tony always answered resolutely that his team known as the Avengers were good and devoted to fighting against any evils that would arise against them, knowing that the word of their existence would spread and draw more enemies throughout the universe.

As for the question of who it was that had attacked them, Tony only answered that an alien race had come in hope of taking over the world, as most people expected thanks to books, movies, and television. He continued to tell them that he and the other Avengers were only individuals, who agreed to stand up and fight against the threats, when the people could not. Tony never once mentioned the involvement of S.H.I.E.L.D. or that Loki was the leader of the Chitauri army.

When Tony wasn't busy with press conferences or being interviewed by countless reporters, he spent time working on repairing Stark Tower, with help from Pepper and even Bruce, who had agreed to stick around for a while, not only to help Tony, but also to work on some new research that had come to light since he had first been brought in by Nick Fury.

Thor had gone back to Asgard, taking Loki back with him in order to stand trial, with the promise to soon come back, not only to tell them of Loki's punishment, but also to visit so that they could get to know their new friend from another world, as both Erik Selvig and Jane Foster had done when he had come to Earth once before.

Natasha had left shortly after the battle had ended and headed back to Russia in order to finish her last assignment that she was not able to complete before she had learned that a war was coming and that the one person she cared about more than anyone else in the world, Clint, had been compromised. The only person that ever knew this about her was Coulson, until the Avengers had finally become a team. Her affection for Clint and his for her, though neither one allowed it to be more than just friendship, wasn't lost among Steve, Bruce, and especially Tony, who learned early on not to tease either one of the assassins about it unless he wanted an early funeral.

Finally, both Clint and Steve worked hard to help clean up the streets and ruined buildings throughout the city. Even though Clint didn't wear a mask to hide his identity and Steve's mask had been ripped off half way through the battle, no one recognized either one of them, as they kept a low profile in order to keep becoming known.

Tony Stark as Iron Man, the Hulk, not known to be Bruce Banner, except for the few that knew him and had been chasing after him since he had become the Hulk, Thor, and Captain America were all over the news, but he too was only known as Captain America, not as Steve Rogers. Hawkeye remained mostly unknown, as did the Black Widow, except for the criminal underworld that knew of her reputation, despite that there were a few rumors going around of their superhero personas, which was how they wanted it to be, as they were both spies, whose identities were needed to be kept a secret. S.H.I.E.L.D. helped to protect them and keep anyone who asked about the two most mysterious members of the Avengers from learning anything more about them.

One night, Tony was finally able to convince Steve to join him for a few drinks at a more exclusive club, which he had enjoyed going to for a long time. Bruce had been called away earlier that afternoon to help some others in trying to stop a new disease from spreading anymore among a group of natives down in a small town in Southern Africa, so he couldn't join them.

As the two walked through the halls within Stark Tower, where Steve agreed to meet Tony, Tony spoke up saying, "You're going to love this place, Steve. The drinks are phenomenal and the wings are the best in all of New York City."

Steve smiled as he looked over at Tony while they continued walking and replied, "It sounds good, but the alcohol won't do anything for me. My vamped up metabolism keeps me from getting drunk. I could drink ten beers and not feel a thing. Believe me, I've tried; back in the '40s. I doubt that beer now is any different."

"Good, then you can be the official designated driver," Tony answered. "At least you can still enjoy the buffalo wings. Have you been to see any movies at all since you woke up? There are some good ones coming out and it wouldn't hurt you to do a little reading in order to help you get more up to speed. No offense, but your lack of knowledge on our world now is just sad."

"For your information, Mr. Stark, I have been doing a lot of reading," Steve responded. "We can't all be as smart as you and Dr. Banner."

Tony grinned and then replied, "You're right. I'll always be a hundred times smarter than you and much better looking. I can't help it. It's a gift."

Steve just rolled his eyes and turned his head as they passed by one of the many labs inside the tower, in time for him to notice Clint working silently on some kind of project. As he did, Steve walked slowly into the room, followed by Tony, who was a little more cautious out of fear of the assassin shooting an arrow straight into his heart or getting a dagger in his eye. Truth be told, both Clint and Natasha, especially Natasha, kind of scared the hell out of him, knowing that either one of them could kill him at any time for sneaking up on them, not that he really could, or going too far in annoying and teasing them. Tony really needed to work on that.

Clint surprised both Tony and Steve as he was the first to speak without even turning around, saying, "Evening, Captain; Mr. Stark. JARVIS let me in earlier. I've been working on repairing my bow and arrows and designing a few new ones. I didn't really want to do it back at the base. I hope you don't mind, Tony."

"Not at all," Tony answered as Clint finally turned to look at them. "I told you that you are always welcome here. I know what it's like working around Fury. He's a real piece of work. I'm still not sure where I stand with the guy, but I certainly don't trust him completely. Not sure if I ever will."

"I know what you mean," Steve responded as he looked over at Tony and then to Clint. "Tony and I were just about to go out to have a few drinks and some dinner. Would you like to join us?"

Clint shook his head and replied, "No, thank you. I appreciate the invitation, but I'm not exactly a social drinker. Actually, I'm not a drinker at all. Alcohol doesn't do anything for me, but dull my senses and ability to stay alert; not exactly good traits for a spy and assassin."

Steve answered, "You don't have to drink. You can just join us for a bite to eat. Tony says that the place is private, so you won't have to worry about having attention drawn upon yourself. I'm curious as to how you came to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. That is, if you can tell us."

"I'm not much of a talker unless I'm required to be on a mission, Captain," Clint responded. "I haven't been for a long time. I'm not even sure if I know how to be social for the fun of it anymore."

"We would still like for you to join us," Steve replied sincerely. "You don't have to talk if you don't want to. Besides, I'm sure Tony will do enough talking for the three of us."

Tony nodded and said, "You got that right. You need to allow yourself to have a little fun every now and again. All work and no play makes Clint here a dull boy. Now, let's get moving. I'm starving."

Clint sat there for another minute as he looked between Steve and Tony, then finally shook his head as he agreed to join them and stood up. He quickly packed his gear back in the bag he had carried in with him and then followed his teammates into the room where Tony parked each of his fancy cars. Like his mansion in Los Angeles, this room had a drive way that led out to the street. Of course Tony drove, as Steve sat in the passenger's seat, while Clint sat in the back. Finally, they were heading out as danger was lurking from the shadows.

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