I fell asleep on the way to Clint's house cramped in the back of a tinted SUV with Pietro. My bag was stuffed under the seat so that my legs were raised uncomfortably up to my chest. I stretched out as much as possible as Pietro shifted his arm around me to make room. It was dark in the car as we drove towards our destination. The last few days of training had been intense, I'd thrown everything I had into my sessions with Nat so she understood I was still serious about my position on the team. Never the less this trip might give me some of my freedom back, at least of a few days.
Pietro seemed to be glad to be coming along with us as well, he got more cooped up than I did back at base but at least he could sprint outside and be somewhere else in literally a minute. I didn't have that luxury.
We pulled up to the farm around dusk and the hot air seemed to cover everything as we walked up to the front porch.
"Don't worry we'll have the AC on." said Clint seeing my discomfort
There was a loud yell of "Dad!" from inside the house and a moment later the door opened. Two small people came barrelling out and latched themselves to Clint. He pretended to fall over and picked up his little girl. She smiled nervously at us and buried her head in her father's shoulder. She must have been only been a few years younger than my sister.
"Nah you're not shy you little kidder." said Clint pinching her cheek and clapping his son on the back. "Blake, Pietro, this is Lila and Cooper." he said gesturing to the kids
I gave them a wave. Cooper gazed up at Pietro in awe and he grinned back down at the boy, it was funny to see the height difference between them.
"Hey buddy don't stare." said Clint ruffling Coopers hair.
A shadow moved across the light and I looked up to see a woman framed in the doorway. She had long brown hair that fell in soft curls past her shoulders, when she smiled I noticed she had a very kind and pretty face.
Clint detached himself from the kids and gave her a kiss on the cheek "Hey honey sorry we're late, someone didn't finish training until five." he said throwing a nod at me.
"No it's fine." she said and held out her hand to me "I'm Laura."
"Hi, Blake." I said smiling back and shaking it "Clint's told me a lot about you."
She raised her eyebrow at him "Nothing bad I hope."
"No Maam." he said grinning "Come here you" he followed Lila into the house as she ran in giggling
"Kids, I said you could stay up until Dad got home, ready for bed in ten Ok?" she said as Cooper grumbled his way into the house after his father "Come on in you two, are you hungry?" I looked back at Pietro and he gave me a guilty nod
"Yeah, we're always hungry."
She laughed then and beckoned for us to come in "I guess it comes with the job. Have a seat I'll get you something."
We dropped our bags by the door as she closed it behind us. The heat was just bearable inside the house, a soft murmuring over the door jamb told me the AC was on full blast. I looked round at the room and saw it was rustic and cosy, very different from what I was used to.
I felt like I stood out oddly against the homely decor with my healing battle scars and training clothing. Pietro stood out as well but for many other reasons. He shifted awkwardly on his feet looking round at the family, Clint was being wrestled onto the couch by the kids while Laura was busy behind them in the kitchen. This was something I was familiar with, I'd grown up in a house with my parents and my little sister so it didn't really bother me. Pietro on the other hand, well this must have been difficult for him to see after how he'd grown up.
"They won't bite." I joked and got a smile out of him.
"Are you guys alright with sandwiches? We ate earlier so there's nothing made up." called Laura her head in the fridge
"That's great." I said moving to sit in one of the kitchen chairs "And thanks for letting us stay Laura, I really appreciate it."
"No problem hunni, Clint told me you've been having a bit of a crazy week." she said setting a plate of food in front of me
"You have no idea." I said smiling "So where's the littlest Barton?"
She sighed "He's asleep finally, I swear to god he's got more energy than those two put together." she said pointing at the kids, her smile faded then as she looked over my shoulder. I followed her gaze and saw she was looking at Pietro who was still stood by the door.
"You coming in?" I asked turning round in my seat and his attention focused on me. He nodded absentmindedly and came into the kitchen. Laura watched him the whole time a sad look on her face. He stopped behind my chair and pulled out the one next to me. She set him down some food and drink too. He thanked her though he looked a bit bewildered by the fact that someone was mothering him.
She looked over at us like she wanted to say something but stopped herself as Pietro tucked into his food.
"So how long are you staying?" she asked me
"Just a few days, if that's ok? If you need any help around the farm I'll lend a hand."
"Don't you dare, you're here to get away from working." she laughed then turned back to Pietro and opened her mouth.
"Pietro I...I wanted to thank you." she said sitting down across from him "If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have my husband..and my kids they-" she trailed off and shook herself slightly "I can never thank you enough, so if you or your sister ever need anything, we're only a phone call away." she finished smiling at him.
I felt my heart ache as I looked at her. All my nightmares and visions seemed tiny in comparison with the fear she must have gone through imagining what life would have been like if Pietro had made a different call back in Sokovia. Pietro coughed next to me and looked up at Laura stunned.
A moment later he corrected himself "He's a good man, I couldn't let that happen to him."
She looked over at Clint who was still playing with the kids and her eyes became very bright. Then she reached over and squeezed Pietro's hand slightly. "You are as well. I'm so sorry you had to go through that, both of you." she said looking at me too. I wondered what she meant then realized that Clint must have told her about my dreams and how much Pietro meant to me.
She let go of his hand and straightened up smiling "Your room is down the hall to the left, if you need anything, just grab it. I'll see you in the morning, and it's great to finally meet you both." She wandered over to the couch and sat down with her family.
"You too." said Pietro but she was already out of earshot.
I pulled my feet up so I sat crossed legged in my chair and watched him. As much as I felt out of place in this homely environment, Pietro stood out even more. I'd only ever known him at the base and out in the field where his body and personality alone gave him a presence you couldn't help but notice. But here it was almost funny to see all that folded up into a small kitchen chair. He was still sat very close to me, whether out of habit or familiarity I couldn't tell. My eyes found his face and all the humour went out of me.
He looked odd. I'd seen him at his best, laughing and joking, quick-witted and flirting nonstop. And I'd also seen him at his worst, dark and desperate and full of anger, but this was something different. He just looked confused and innocent as he looked over at the family on the couch.
I rested my hand on top of his on the table and he jumped. "You ok?" I asked as he looked at me. The innocence was gone in a split second replaced by casual amusement.
"I will be if you say you're not going to finish that sandwich."
I laughed and pushed it towards him "Knock yourself out."
"Right kids we're off to bed." said Clint getting up a squirming child under each arm.
"Night." I said as he slowly walked up the stairs with the kids laughing their heads off. Laura smiled fondly at us and waved goodnight.
The moment they left Pietro put down his food and got his feet suddenly holding out his hand to me. "I need some air, are you coming?"
"Um yeah ok." I said letting him pull me to my feet. The back door was on the latch letting air into the stuffy house. He pushed it open and strode into the garden. I followed him until he reached the fence.
He crossed his arms and leaned against the wood looking back at the house. His eyes were dark and he seemed to be standing very ridged.
"Everything alright?" I asked walking up to him, he nodded and glanced down at me for a second. "You're a terrible liar." I said and he narrowed his eyes
"What do you mean?"
"It bothers you that they're happy doesn't it?" he looked at me confused "I mean after what you and Wanda went through, how you grew up. I know it's not fair but it's ok to be jealous." I said hoping I didn't offend him
He looked over to the surrounding trees "Yes I am. Our childhood was hell, I just wish I'd had someone around to take care of us, so we weren't alone."
"Hey you are not alone anymore." I said reaching up and resting my hand on his face "You might not have had a family your whole life but you had your sister, and you have us now. Those people in there-" I said pointing back to the house. "They are happy because of you. That has to count for something, right?"
Finally he took his eyes off the trees and looked down at me. I could see he was hurting but he smiled anyway and pulled me into a hug "It does."
"If you don't want to stay here I understand." I said into his chest
"No I'll stay." he said kissing the top of my head "Anyway it would be far too boring at home if you weren't there."
"Always the romantic." I said and he chuckled. There was a sudden crack in a tree to our left and I span round.
How in the hell did someone find us all the way out here? I stepped forward squinting into the trees but before I could do anything Pietro started laughing quietly behind me. I looked back at him and he stopped but his eyes were still twinkling. He pointed back to the tree and I saw a bird fly off into the night. I dropped my arms and raised my eyebrows at him because he looked like he was going to start laughing at me again.
"I'm sorry." he said raising his arms and grinning "You need to relax."
"Next time you can fend for yourself." I said as he slipped his arms round my shoulders
"Against a bird? I think I'll manage."
"I'll get you back for laughing you know that." I said trying to hold back a yawn
"I don't doubt." he said and caught hold of me. We were back in the house a second later and he set me back on my feet "Bed?"
I nodded and grabbed my bag from the hall. As soon as I opened the door a cool breeze hit my face from the fan in the corner of the room and I went to stand in front of it feeling my hair flow out behind me.
"If you stand in front of it all night I'll boil over here." said Pietro flopping down lazily onto the bed and putting his hands behind his head.
"You've got that enhanced thermal homeostasis thing, you'll be fine."
"Um that's when I'm running not standing still." he said and put his hand on my back. His skin was hotter than mine almost feverish, I moved out of the way and sat opposite him on the bed as he shrugged off his jacket.
"Thanks for coming with me." I said nudging his foot with mine
"I didn't have anything better to do." he replied smiling at me and closing his eyes. I watched him and heard his breathing becoming slower and slower.
"Pietro?" There was no response, he was already asleep. Typical. I laughed and got changed before turning off the light and turning up the fan. I thought about texting Wanda to let her know we'd arrived safe but I was asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.
It was another night of fitful dreams. I slipped in and out of distant memories and more recent nightmares. The images of a blood stained floor and blank eyes crowded into my mind. The earlier it got the more I wondered if I would actually get any sleep and the stuffy room didn't help matters.
I was just between waking and sleeping when someone kicked me in the leg.
"Ouch" I sat up and looked over at Pietro. I would have thought he was fidgeting but for the tenseness of his muscles. One hand clawed at his chest while the other gripped the bed frame like he was trying to snap it in two. I began to panic as his breathing started to get very fast.
"Pietro?" I said shaking his shoulders. He muttered something and a heart breaking moan came out of his mouth. "Pietro wake up!" I said again more loudly.
He jerked awake and his eyes snapped open. He looked down at his chest but here was nothing there, nothing but faint scaring. He swallowed and let his head fall back on the pillow. I stared down at him in shock but all he did was cover his face with his hands. His breathing was still very fast but he managed to call out to me softly.
"Hey I'm right here." I said pushing the damp hair back from his forehead and prying his hands back from his face. "What was that?" I asked as he opened his eyes again. "A nightmare?"
He nodded and got up with his back to me. "Since when do you get nightmares?"
"I've always had them." he said still not looking at me "But now, since Hydra and Sokovia they're worse."
"Why..why didn't you tell me?"
"Because-" he said turning round and looking at me "You had enough to handle with your own."
"You mean you've been like this since we've been together and you didn't say anything?"
"Wouldn't make a difference, at least you'd feel safe."
My hand clenched the mattress as I imagined what he'd been going through without me. He glanced up at me guiltily "I just wanted to take care or you for a change."
I gazed back at him trying to hold back the wetness in my eyes "But we take care of each other in this relationship, that's how this works ok?"
He chuckled quietly as he came back to the bed and pulled me into his arms "Ok I got you."
Finally around 4 am he drifted off. And having put my head close to Pietro's chest with his rhythmic breathing calming me I feel asleep as well.
We were woken fairly early by the sounds of thundering feet upstairs. I sat up quickly wondering where the hell I was. Pietro rolled over next to me and pulled the pillow over his head. I flopped back down next to him remembering where we were and who was making all the noise. How did I expect to lay in with two kids and a baby in the house. There was a knock at the door and Clint's voice echoed through the wood.
"You want any breakfast guys?"
I groaned and rolled over so I was face to face with Pietro. He blinked a few times and shook his head.
"No thanks." I yelled back and he screwed his eyes shut at the noise
"Sorry." I said smiling as he pushed himself up slowly running his hands through his messy hair.
"What time is it?"
I looked over at my phone on the nightstand and cursed "Its six thirty." I had a message from Wanda and a voicemail from a number I didn't recognise but I was too groggy to answer them now.
"What?" he said incredulously looking up at the ceiling through which we could hear the kids running around
"They probably have school."
"Why does it have to be so early." he said swinging his legs over the side of the bed and standing up. He was still fully dressed from the night before, but unlike me he hadn't been training the day before so he could get away with it. I grabbed some clothes from my bag and threw them on. The noise above our room had stopped but there was a slight commotion in the kitchen now instead.
The kids were sat at the counter wolfing down their breakfast while Laura got their pack lunches ready. Clint grinned at us as we entered the room still half asleep "Morning sleeping beauty."
"Uh huh." I said not knowing which one of us he was talking to and sat at the table in front of a stack of toast.
"Help yourselves." said Laura patting me on the shoulder but I didn't feel like eating
"Look I gotta run the kids to school." said Clint throwing Cooper his jacket from the door "But me and Laura want to have a chat with you guys later when you get a second."
I glanced at Pietro and he looked quizzically back at me.
"Don't panic." said Laura kindly from the door helping Lila into her shoes "It's nothing to worry about."
I was still sceptical but passed Pietro a slice of buttered toast and despite the fact he hadn't wanted breakfast he ate it anyway. Ten minutes later Clint had the kids packed into the car and was pulling out of the drive. Laura disappeared upstairs not long after so we were left alone in the kitchen.
"What do you want to do today?" asked Pietro kissing my cheek as he got up.
I watched him saunter over to the sink and get some water. There was no way I could sit around all day watching TV and doing nothing, it wasn't in my nature. Outside I could see the day was bright and sunny but not as warm as yesterday. I didn't want to stray too far from the house though in case anybody needed us but then it came to me.
He saw me looking out the window and raised an eyebrow "I thought you wanted to relax?"
"You know it's physically impossible for me to do that." I laughed. He sighed and opened the back door smiling.
"I know, after you."
We spent the next few hours training in the garden. Mostly practicing hand to hand combat as Pietro still wasn't as good as me, I think he thought that with his speed he didn't have to learn. Why did you need to throw a punch if no one could hit you? It was a fair point, after hours I'd only managed a few precise hits. Each time I missed he grinned even more like he was proving his point perfectly.
"You're getting slow." he said grabbing my fist in his hand and spinning me round so I was crushed against his chest.
"And you're getting too cocky." I said ducking under his arm and wrapping my own round his neck from behind. He laughed and held is hands up, I was about to let go when he grabbed my arms and sped across the lawn pinning me against a tree with his back.
"You were saying." he said turning his head to look at me
"Pretty sure that's cheating." I said and looked up as the car pulled back into the drive and Clint stepped out.
"Come on you two, you're supposed to be on holiday." he said walking over to us. Pietro let me go and I brushed off the dirt from my clothes.
"It was her idea." he said pointing at me and smirking as I glared back at him
"Traitor." I said and he shrugged his shoulders
"It's getting hot out here, you coming in for a brake?" said Clint and we gladly followed him back indoors. Laura must still have been upstairs because no one was in the kitchen or living room.
I flopped down the sofa exhausted. When I trained with Nat I came away with bumps and bruises, when I trained with Wanda I ending up getting knocked on my ass, but when I trained with Pietro every single muscle in my body ached afterwards. He lounged in the chair opposite and winked at me. I envied his clear lack of exhaustion, the only way he got tired was by running way too much in a short space of time. I pulled myself up from the lumpy couch hearing my elbow click as I stretched it out.
"I'm going for a shower." I said and went back into our room. I felt grubby from the heat and jumped into a cold shower in a matter of minutes. When I emerged I felt miles better and not nearly as warm. The fan was still humming in the corner and I clicked open the window too to let the air flow through the room. I turned and jumped as I spotted Pietro on the bed.
"Nice." he said gesturing to the towel wrapped around me. I looked down and pulled it off laughing at the mischievous glint in his eyes. "Better."
My damp hair dripped down my back making me shiver for the first time in days. I spotted my reflection in the mirror and saw the purplish bruises on my ribs under my dark hair.
I pulled on a fresh change of clothes and grabbed my phone from the side. Before reading it I glanced over at Pietro who was still grinning at me.
"I don't think so." I said leaning down and meeting his lips with mine. He groaned an 'OK' under my mouth and snaked his arm around my waist pulling me onto the mattress. I broke away turning over so I was resting my head on his chest and unlocked my phone.
I had a message from Wanda asking how everything was going and telling me about her sessions with Vision. Pietro read it over my shoulder and made a disgruntled noise as he saw Vision's name. He didn't approve of Wanda hanging around with Vision. It was another one of those things he had no control over though, we were all on the same team. The vision and Wanda seemed to understand each other in an innate way that made them perfect training partners. I didn't see anything wrong with that but Pietro was still very protective of his sister, half of the time he didn't have to be, old habits die hard.
Flicking to the next message I saw it was from my sister, more ramblings about life at home. It didn't make me homesick but I did miss her.
Finally I tried the voicemail, it buzzed for a moment and then cut out. I took the phone away from my ear and looked at the screen which read 'Level Seven Access Denied'.
I flicked it off confused and slipped the phone into my pocket. Obviously it wasn't meant for me or I would have been able to open it. Looking up I saw Pietro's bright blue eyes gazing down at me, he leaned over and kissed me again twisting his hand in my long hair. Most of my weight was on his arm under my back and as I moved it tightened around me. I rose up so I could reach him more and crinkled my nose as his hair ticked my face. He smiled under my lips and pressed his once very hard against mine before pulling away. The sound of someone descending the stairs caught our attention and I sat up hopping off the bed as Clint called us from the living room.
I followed Pietro out and nearly walked into him as he stopped dead in the hall. Looking round him I saw Laura holding Nathan in her arms. She smiled and beckoned for us to come in.
I came to stand right next to Laura and Nathan looked curiously up at me. I didn't know what Nat was saying he wasn't fat at all, he was probably the cutest thing I'd ever seen with his large eyes and fuzzy hair.
Clint grinned at me as he saw my reaction "Cute right?"
"Takes after his Mom." I said back and Laura laughed as Clint's smile fell
"Yeah but he looks like me."
"I don't know Barton, maybe he got lucky." said Pietro looking over my shoulder at the baby.
"You guys just like to gang up on me." said Clint getting to his feet and coming to stand next to his son. Nathan looked up at Pietro and giggled reaching out for him. "I think he likes you."
Pietro smiled awkwardly and put his hands in his pockets. I could see he was pleased but didn't want anyone to see it. "So we wanted to talk to you." said Laura switching Nathan over to her other hip as he started squirming around. I stiffened wondering what I could have possible done to upset her after just one day. I perched myself on the couch arm next to Pietro who had sat himself down leaning his elbows on his legs. I watched Laura bob up and down to sooth the baby and thought how much of a natural she was, I hadn't heard him cry once yet. "Hawkeye you want to do the honours?" she said almost smiling. He nodded and turned to us.
"So we've been thinking about this for a while and we decided while you're here we should ask you in person." he said taking a breath "You can say no, we won't be offended."
I could see he was on the verge of going off on a tangent "Clint, just tell us"
He looked over at Nathan who was pulling on Laura's hair and chewing on the ends "This kid's gonna need some serious guidance and we'd prefer at little help along the way if you can. So what do you say to being his godparents?"
If I could have seen my face I probably would have laughed because my jaw dropped and I nearly fell off the couch.
"Us?" said Pietro from behind me and I looked down at him. He looked as shocked as I felt "Why?"
Clint smiled at his wife "Told you they'd react like this. Look guys I know this a lot but we made the right choice. You two are some of the best people I know, I want my son to have that when he grows up." Then he directed his words at Pietro "I want him to know the reason he has a Dad at all this because of the man you are."
"I don't know what to say." said Pietro in a husky voice and Clint clapped him on the arm.
"How about you didn't see that-"
"I swear to god old man." said Pietro batting his hand off chuckling
"Are you sure?" I said turning to Laura "You barely even know us."
She looked down at her son and walked over to me. "Yes I do. You've had my husband's back since you met him, I know how much the team cares about you both and Clint and Nat never stop talking about you. I'm sure."
I was speechless, there was this child in front of me that I could now have partial responsibility over and I was terrified. But there was something about the way Clint was looking at me, expectant and slightly proud, I couldn't say no. I nodded and he beamed at me. Pietro leaned back on his arm and looked from me to Nathan. Something in his eyes changed and I saw his lips tighten slightly, like he was holding back a smile.
"I'm in." he said looking directly at me. Something warm in my chest seemed to expand and I had to look away. Laura bent down slightly and Nathan leaned out of her arms trying to get at me.
"You want to hold him?" she asked angling herself so she could easily pass him to me.
"I dunno if I'm any good with-" I tried to get out of it but she'd already passed him over. "Oh ok."
"This is your aunty Blake." said Clint ruffling my hair fondly as I adjusted myself so I could support Nathan's head. I didn't have time to though before he started to pull himself up on my shoulder so he could see the person sat behind me. I laughed and holding onto him very tight sat down on the sofa next to Pietro.
Nathan was happy to sit in my lap as long as he could see the man next to him. Pietro stretched out his hand amused and Nathan grabbed one of his fingers in his pudgy grip.
"Hey lil guy." said Pietro grinning at me as Nathan laughed still holding onto his finger. I was so conscious of keeping the baby on my lap that I hardly noticed anything else.
"Hey Blake" said Clint from the chair opposite me "You're doing fine, chill out." I looked over then at Pietro. He was leaning across me so he could reach the baby and his face was inches from mine. I watched him as he played with Nathan, I wouldn't have guessed it even after knowing him this long but he seemed to be good with kids. I was still scared of moving wrong and upsetting the baby. Then I felt Pietro's hand closed round mine which was resting on Nathan's back keeping him sat up. His thump stroked across the back of my hand soothing me slightly.
"You've got this." he said quietly so only I could hear him. I relaxed slightly and felt Nathan do the same, he calmed down so much that he let his head droop onto my chest and closed his eyes, hand still clamped around Pietro's finger and fell asleep.
"That, is amazing." said Laura to me "It takes me hours to get him to fall asleep usually."
Pietro grinned at me "Guess you're not as bad as you thought."
"Huh, well you can't get up now until he wakes up." said Clint "Payback for being smart earlier. Come on honey." he laughed and put his arm round his wife's shoulder.
"Hey wait." I watched them walk out of the room worried, what if Nathan woke up and wanted his Mom, what if he didn't wake up for hours and I got dead legs. They'd already gone into the garden before I could call to them back.
"Great, what did I get myself into." I said looking down at the sleeping baby in my arms. I had to admit it wasn't as worrying when he was asleep though because he wasn't fidgeting around.
"I didn't expect that." said Pietro slowly prying his finger out of Nathan's. "Wanda is going to have a field day teasing us you know."
"I guess but she wouldn't be as bad as you." he nodded like it was a fair point. As soon as his finger was free Nathan turned over and grabbed a fistful of my hair in his hand and nuzzled into my chest. That feeling filled my chest again, like a hot balloon expanding.
"Aw my god Pietro, I want one." I said jokingly as Nathan put his thumb in his mouth and sucked on it in his sleep.
I froze and looked round at him. There was no one else in the room so he had to have said it but my brain couldn't comprehend the words.
"What?" I asked stunned
"You heard me."
"I, what? I didn't, I...you mean...wait what?" I stuttered trying to get my mind round the words
"You are so funny when you're freaked out." he said tilting his head to the side to look at me
I tried to keep my voice calm and quiet so I didn't wake Nathan. "Are you serious, you want-" I couldn't finish, the words got caught in my throat
"You don't?" he said looking ever so slightly worried he'd said the wrong thing.
I thought about that. Of course I wanted kids. Even though the whole idea terrified me I couldn't see myself in twenty years without them. But I never dreamt for a second Pietro did, he just didn't seem like the settle down type. All the time we'd been together why hadn't it even crossed my mind.
"I do but...I didn't know that's something you wanted, like ever." I said truthfully, there was no point sugar coating it.
"I'd never really thought about it until recently." he said and I held my breath, I didn't have anything to say so I hoped he would carry on "Nearly dying, nearly watching you die put a lot of things in perspective for me. Then I see Barton and his family, they're happy. I didn't think that was possible."
Some of my initial panic ebbed away "Course it's possible, not every family grows up in the way that yours did. Proof is right here." I said looking down at Nathan who was still fast asleep.
"But is it possible for me..with you?" he said questioningly
"What right now?" I choked out feeling the panic rise in my chest again, I wasn't ready yet. I had a sudden urge to run out of the room and reminded myself I had a small person in my lap.
He looked taken aback too "I..I didn't mean right...well if really you wanted-"
I laughed nervously understanding his meaning and seeing what he was willing to do to make me happy. I leaned into his shoulder. "No you idiot. But some day, it would be nice to have the option." His shoulders dropped as he let out a breath and rested his head on mine.
"Good because it's there." he said seriously
"You know if you wanted give me a heart attack, that was the best way to go." I said smiling and felt him chuckle under my cheek.
The back door opened and Clint and Laura came in carrying a few of the kids toys from the garden. I quickly sat up and Pietro jumped to his feet. Clint looked at us suspiciously amused "What did I walk in on?"
Pietro looked at me and shook his head very slightly. I knew he didn't want to give Clint any ammo to tease us with.
"Adult conversations." I said twisting round to look at him "You wouldn't understand."
"You are seriously pushin it, kid." he said with a smile
"She's right though." said Pietro and Clint rolled his eyes
"What did I say, ganging up." he said to Laura and she squeezed his arm
"I'd like to see you all in a room with Nat." she said coming over to me and holding out her hands for her son.
"No you really wouldn't." I said slowly pulling my hair out of Nathan's grip and passing him to Laura. She smiled and then gave me a guilty look. "What is it?"
"Clint said you wouldn't mind but we have to take Nathan to see his Grandmother, could you watch the kids until we get back? We won't be long, it's just she's not doing too well and we want her to meet him before-"
"Hey it's fine, I said I'd help out. When do they get back?" I said and she looked at the clock.
"Honey." she said to Clint "You should be going to get them soon it's almost half past."
"Got it." he said grabbing the keys she threw him with precision and heading to the door.
Within twenty minutes he was back with the kids and him and Laura were strapping Nathan into his car seat. "Here is the number, but we'll only be an hour or so." he said getting in as Laura kissed Lila goodbye. When they'd gone the kids ran into the house and sat in front of the TV.
I leaned against the door frame for a moment watching the car pull away. I heard him move behind me and turned to face him.
"You really meant it?" he asked searching my face for any hint of doubt. The idea of having a family had always been on my mind, but I'd never put any thought into who it would be with. It didn't really matter to me before, I was young and too focused on being the best agent I could. Now though it didn't seem so ridiculous to imagine it with the man in front of me, I'd never trusted anyone so fully in my entire life as I did Pietro.
"Yeah." I said "Whatever happens I want a future with you even if it's full of drama and field missions every other day."
"It probably will be." he said stepping up to me
"I don't care."
"You realise what you're getting yourself into?"
"Nope but you know me, I like surprises." I said and he smirked at me.
"We'll have our hands full you know." he said leaning against my arm
"Blake, we're both enhanced. Chances are any...any children we have, will be as well." I hadn't thought about that. It was bad enough trying to keep up with Pietro let alone a tiny version of him that wouldn't even listen to me. And what if they got my abilities on top of his, then we'd need some serious help. I chuckled to myself and he grinned "Sounds fun, no?"
"Yeah or a disaster waiting to happen." He smirked then looked down at my side. I wondered what it was until someone pulled my sleeve. It is Lila.
"Blake?" she said in a small voice and I crouched down next to her. This age I could deal with, I had my sister after all and she wasn't a baby. "Can we play outside?" I was happy she was talking to me now so I agreed right away.
"Sure thing, what do you wanna play?" I asked as Cooper sidled up to his sister and nudged her.
"Go on ask them." he said and she blushed
"Can you show us your powers? Aunty Nat said you're super strong and fast." she said and looked up at Pietro.
"Not that fast." he said and sped out into the garden "You coming?" he called back
"Wow cool." said Cooper and ran after him. Lila stretched out her hand and I held onto it walking her out into the garden to join the boys. She sat herself on her swing and waited for us to do something. I felt like the nights entertainment but didn't want to disappoint her. Cooper picked up his football and threw it to me.
"How far can you kick it?" he asked excitedly
"I dunno I've never played before." I said realizing how odd that was. Pietro braced next to me ready to run. I nodded and dropped the ball, before it hit the floor I slammed my foot into it as hard as I could. The noise made me jump as it echoed around the woods and in a second I'd lost sight of the ball. A trail of blue followed the path it had gone and before I could blink he'd skidded to a stop in front of me and tossed the ball back to Cooper who caught it open mouthed.
Lila clapped from her swing. "Do it again Blake." she said and smiled at me for the first time since I'd met her.
The next hour was spent launching objects into the surrounding woods and watching Pietro run after them and bring them back. The kids didn't seem to get bored and Pietro was having as much fun showing off. I had to call it quits when my phone rang. It was good timing because Cooper had just handed me a flower pot to throw and I was almost certain that it was antique.
"Not that I think it's your Mom's." I said pulling my phone out of my pocket. He looked disappointed but put it back down.
I didn't recognise the number again but I answered it because I did recognise the S.H.E.I.L.D logo that covered my screen. "Hello?"
"Please state your name and rank." said a cool voice at the other end
"What who is-"
"Please state your name-"
"Jeez ok, Agent Deveraux. Rank and classification: Avengers Initiative." I said cutting her off. Pietro came to a stop next to me waiting to hear what was happening.
"Thank you Agent. Directing you through." I waited until someone else picked up the line
"Bought damn time Deveraux, I've been calling you for the past two days." he said in a sarcastic voice and my eyes widened
"Who else would it be, and it's not director anymore agent."
"Sorry Sir, what's this about. Is the team-"
"Keep your head on everyone's fine, but we have some news I think you should get back to base. You and the punk need briefing."
I tried to disregard his dig at Pietro "On?"
"The Asgardian is back." he said sounding grim "And he's got word on the Infinity Gems."
I gripped the phone tightly in my hand and heard something crack. Pietro put his hand on my back and leaned down to look at me
"Are you alright?" he asked and I shook my head silently
"Sir when do you need us back?" I asked hoping I hadn't broken the phone.
The line was slightly crackly when he responded "Tomorrow asap. We need to talk." he said "But agent, try to enjoy the rest of your day, there's plenty of work to do when you get back." Then the line went dead
I gripped my head and in my hair so much it hurt. Pietro put his hands on my face and forced me to look at him. "What is it?"
"That was Fury." I said feeling my heart sink and stress fill my head again. "Thor's back with info on the gems, like the one Vision has."
Pietro dropped his hands "Is it good or bad news?"
"We'll find out soon. They want us back tomorrow." I said looking over his shoulder at the kids. I felt a slight ache as they looked back at me expectantly. This time yesterday I hadn't had any plan but stay here and then go back to my job. Now I wished I had more time with them and Pietro, I felt myself starting to miss a life I never even had.
"You have to go?" asked Lila looking sad
"Looks like it." I said "But we'll come and visit." I said and she smiled from her seat.
"Dad?" said Cooper as the car pulled into the drive a little too fast. Clint jumped out. "You get the call?" he asked jogging up to us. Pietro nodded and I saw a dark look creep back into his eyes. It had started to fade since we got here, maybe the hope of a different life and being away from the horrors at base had helped us both. But we'd just been shocked back to reality.
"Are we leaving tonight?" he asked Clint who looked over at his kids.
"No. We'll go in the morning." I smiled sadly at him trying to thank him but knowing how much it must hurt him to leave so soon after getting here. "Still got a few hours." He finished walking over to them.
I quickly walked back into the house and turned to Pietro with a resolute look in my eyes. "Guess I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. So much for having a life." I said and he hugged me so tight I felt every muscle in his body against mine.
"Do you want this to be our last mission?" he asked "If you want out, I'm with you." I was confused at the speed of his suggestion, had he been thinking about it for a while?
"We can't just quit." I said feeling the weight of responsibility burden me again. "People need us to do our job."
"I know but I thought you wanted-" he said looking away from me to where the family sat playing outside "If we go back, we might not ever have that."
"Who says?" I said grabbing his chin so he looked down at me "Why can't we have both, it's not like we have to decide right now."
He laughed and grinned down at me "I should have known you'd find a way round it."
"Pietro think about it. Being an Avenger, being part of the team. That's who we are. In the future that might change and then we can do whatever we want, go wherever we want. I'm not saying I don't want out because it's tempting." I said remembering the conversation we'd had in this room not an hour before. His tall reassuring body pressed up against me made it even harder to utter the next words "But I just can't leave, not right now." I finished hoping he would understand.
I still wanted all the things he'd said but the little voice at the back of my mind told me it would be selfish to not see this through. I was an Avenger now, there was more than my happiness at stake if I abandoned the people who needed me.
"Blake." he said looking directly into my eyes a smile unfolding on his face "It's alright. I can wait."