When I awoke in the morning, I couldn’t hear the telltale signs of movement I normally heard in the morning, living with six other superheroes – two of which had a tendency to be extremely heavy-footed.
“Jarvis?” I whisper, “What time is it?”
“Good morning Ms. Stark. It is currently five a.m., most of the tower’s residents are still asleep. Might I suggest joining them?”
I sigh and slide out of bed. “Nah. Sorry, J, but there is no chance I’m going back to sleep.”
“Understood Ms. Stark. I will start the coffee maker.”
I nod and pad out my room. I decided to walk – I stay out of the vents until Clint’s awake.
Once I reached the kitchen, I could hear the coffee maker gurgling, but by the looks of things, I wasn’t the only one in need of its contents.
My dad was sitting at the table, hair a mess, hunched over and glaring into his coffee mug like it was Hammer, Vanko, Stane, and Loki combined.
Instead of walking in and announcing my presence like I would with the rest of the team, I just stood silently against the door. Contrary to popular belief, my dad wasn’t completely oblivious – he would notice me eventually.
And eventually he does. It takes about five minutes for him to wrench his gaze away from his steaming cup of liquid caffeine and glance at me with a shy smile.
“Mind if I join you?”
“Well the coffee maker started on its own, so either Jarvis made coffee meant for you or the robotic apocalypse is finally happening.”
I slide onto a stool after I grab my mug, and smirk into my coffee as I reply “Well we all know who would be behind that, now don’t we?”
“You would be right next to me.”
“Yes,” I say as I set my mug down and look him in the eye, “Just like always.”
He squirms and fidgets slightly as he replies. “Yeah…Taylor, I’m sorry for what I said yesterday, I was mad, and so worried, and…ugh. I wouldn’t be surprised if you wanted to be a mini-Hawkeye now and join S.H.I.E.L.D. or something.” The last part is whispered as he bows his head like a scolded child.
He jerks his head back up in disbelief. “What?”
I shake my head in amusement. “I’m going to tell you what I told everyone else yesterday – I’ve spent two years investing in our partnership, and I’m a fool if I throw that away over a few hot words.”
“-Spoke in the heat of battle.” I cut him off. “We’re both very aware that you, sir, have a tendency to say things you don’t mean when you’re scared or worried or high strung.”
I can visibly see the tension melt from his shoulders and his face sags in relief.
“Good to know Beta.”
I smile as I get up to refill my mug.
“And me work for S.H.I.E.L.D.? You wound me.”
“I know, right? What was I thinking?” My dad rolls his eyes.
“Oh – and the mini-Hawkeye thing, it seems to be spreading. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”
“Me? Nooo, pshh, where’d you get that idea?”
All it takes is one raised eyebrow.
“Okay, yeah, I might have let is spread, but he got you a bow! He doesn’t do that for anyone!”
“Oh yeah! Wanna see it?”
“Be right back!”
Once I return with my bow and quiver piled haphazardly in my arms, my dad takes one glance at my predicament and lifts and eyebrow and simply deadpans “We need to buy you a case.”
I gently set my pile down on the counter before turning to my dad. “Why would we, as Starks, buy something when we can make some infinitely better?”
“True. What are you thinking?”
“Hard-sided, steel, velvet lined.”
“Why? Because Birdbrain gave it to you?”
I dick my head sheepishly. Oh please don’t let him see me blush…
“Ah-hah! You’re blushing! You do have a crush on him!”
“Dad, please do not tease me. Not about this. And don’t go give him the shovel talk, he doesn’t know, and it’s kind of illegal for him to date me – a minor. Please just – just forget about it.”
He nods. “Don’t worry, you can trust me. I do keep secrets on occasion.”
“Yeah, just pretend you never heard what I just said. Now, on a completely different subject, what were you doing down in the lab yesterday? I needed to fix my suit.”
“Good thing I was doing just that.”
“Your suit. Fixing it. I re-enforced the booster so we never get a repeat of yesterday, retouched the paint, and added arrows – Gatling gun style – to the arms.”
“Really?” I can feel my eyes widen in excitement. ”We so need to test that!”
He nods excitedly. “And I’ll get to see you shoot.”
“Right – you haven’t yet. Want me to bring my bow, and you bring the rest of the team? Make it an exhibition of sorts?”
“If you’re comfortable with that, then sure.”
“I don’t mind showing off. Comes with the family.”
“You bet it does. We have an entire expo used for the sole purpose of showing off.”
“That you do.” We both glance over towards the entryway to see a sleepy Bruce blinking at us.
“Hey Bruce. We didn’t wake you?”
“No, just couldn’t stop my brain.”
My dad and I share a glace – our brains rarely ever shut down, always going over designs or machines or ‘what can I do to this’ or ‘what if..’
“Got any tea?”
“Yeah. The top cabinet – to your left, keep going, there.”
“Hey Bruce,” my dad clears his throat, “How would you like to see Mini-Hawkeye-“
“Don’t call me that.”
“-in action later?” I huff as my dad waves a hand and ignores my interruption.
Bruce rolls his eyes at our banter, but agrees anyway.
“You want to go to the labs, see your suit, and maybe get a start on the case?”
“Ah…” I glance uncertainly towards Bruce, not wanting to make him a third wheel of sorts, but he just smiles at me. “Go on, gearheads –" hey! "– I’ll be okay up here, if not in my own lab.”
“Thanks, big guy!”
My dad and I exclaim as we slide off our stools and run towards the lab like kids on Christmas.
Once down in said lab, the lights, music, and holo screens all come to life.
“Jarvis, bring up Beta I and all associated files.”
My dad grabs a few holograms and yanks them towards us.
“Wow.” I manage to whisper as I take in the stunning new designs for my suit.
“See that new arm piece right there? That’s what I was talking about. You just hold your arm out like this.” he demonstrates holding his arm straight out, fisted, “and Jarvis will fire. If he doesn’t, there is a voice command you can use.”
“Fire arrow. Try it. Here.”
I take my gauntlet as it is handed to me, and watch as it encases my arm and my dad clears a space at the far end of the lab.
“Alright, whenever you’re ready.”
I hold my arm out, fist my hand, and line up my sights.
"Wow. No kickback, nice precision, nice job.”
“Do I ever do anything less?”
“Do you really want me to answer that?”
My dad glances confusedly at the door while I send an amused look towards the vents.
“You can come down now, floor is clear.”
Clint drops from the vents, landing on his feet, perfect as always.
“Uh, Legolas, what are you doing here?”
“Hey bolt-for-brains. I was in the area and heard an arrow hit a target. Hey sparrow.”
“Thought we talked about that.”
“No, you talked about it. I like the nickname.”
I sigh heavily. “My dad made me a really cool arm attachment that fires arrows. Observe.”
Line up the target…
Clint rocks back on his heels, and grunts, seemingly impressed. “Nice. Lacks the finesse of a real bow, but you’ve got that covered. Speaking of,” he glances towards where my bow rest on one of the tables. “I forgot to ask: do you need a bow case?”
“Making one.” I wave my gauntlet-free hand towards the half formed case a few feet away.
“Recommend any materials? Protective as possible.”
“Mine is aluminum,” my dad and I flinch, “But I’m pretty sure you geniuses can figure something better out.”
“Like titanium alloy siding with a thin adamantium lining?”
My stomach grumbles. “Erm…anyone else getting hungry?”
My dad and Clint both nod. “I’ll ask the team if they’re in the mood for food; but there should be leftovers in the fridge.”
“With the spread of taste buds under this roof, I’ll find something. Vents, Clint?”
“You going to jump up?”
Clint nods as I back up, take a running leap…
…and land baseball style in the vents.
“Yay! I did it, I did it.”
“Yeah, now scooch in, I need in.”
“Oh. Right.” I say as I wiggle to the side.
Once Clint works his way into the vents, I start hesitantly crawling to where I think the kitchen is.
“We’re currently over a bathroom.”
“Oh. Moving on.”
Once my stomach is sufficiently filled with day-old pizza, I find myself down in the range, surrounded by the team, all of which are watching with eager eyes.
Apparently when I told my dad to turn my shooting exhibit in a team affair, he got the word around quickly.
“Whenever you’re ready, sparrow.”
I send a jittery glance towards Clint, but he just smiles – his brilliant smile – and sends me a thumbs up.
You got this, Taylor.
Deep breath in…
Line up the shot…
Deep breath out...
…and let it go.
I can hear the gasps of shock at my bulls-eye echo around the room, but my eyes only seek out first Clint – who has a proud, friendly, dazzling smile painting his face – and my dad second, whose jaw has dropped.
The rest of my team’s face mirror my dad’s, minus Natasha that is – she looks like she knew I could do it all along, and she probably did.
“Thank you, thank you, you’re all too kind.” I manage around my laughter as I set my bow down and take a magnificent, Oscar-worthy bow.