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Fic - Alternate Beginnings (2/2)



They didn’t talk much on the way back to Phil’s house, Clint surprised that the silence was still comfortable even though there was an underlying tension between them. He waited until Phil had opened the door before making his move, pushing the man up against the door and kissing him.

Phil tensed for a second, Clint wondering if he was about to see the man’s Ranger skills, before he relaxed into the kiss, his hands falling to Clint’s hips and pulling him closer to him. Clint wasn’t surprised that Phil’s lips were as soft as he had thought they were, his own moving softly against them before the kiss deepened.

It had been so long since anyone had been close to him, but Clint had never really missed it before, given that they had had to run so many times, and Pete’s safety was what was most important to him.

Pushing himself more into Phil, he relaxed against the warmth and hardness that was Coulson’s body, part of him impressed at how fit that other man felt, although running after children every day would probably do that to most people. He let his fingers sneak under Coulson’s shirt, stroking the warm skin he found.

“Maybe we should have that drink,” Phil said, as he tore his mouth away, breaths coming in sharp gasps. “And, ah, there’s something, something I need to discuss with you before we … before this goes any further.”

Clint raised an eyebrow in disbelief at the man, blood pumping through his body, before he nodded. At least it would give them a chance to take off their coats and move out of the hall way, give Clint an opportunity to actually see Coulson’s house.

Phil was already taking his coat off, hanging it up and walking down the hall way. Clint watched him as he left, eyes taking in the well fitted jeans, before sliding his coat off and hanging it up on the rack. He was about to follow Phil when something on the rack caught his eye. Looking at the rack, he couldn’t exactly pin point what it was that had caught his eye, nothing seeming out of the ordinary, except for the lone glove that was sticking out of one of the jackets.

Reaching out, his heart started to race, the bad feeling he hadn’t gotten for almost eight months running through him and making his chest tight. It shouldn’t have been strange for there to only be one glove, people lost one all the time, like socks, but there was something about it that made him pull it from the jacket.

Staring at it, he turned it over his eyes catching on the symbol that was emblazoned on the one side. He couldn’t take his eyes away from the symbol, eyes running over it again and again. When he’d first started working in the business, he’d made sure to memorise all the symbols, so that he would know who it was he was up against.

The eagle was SHIELD. Standing for something about Strategic Homeland defence. He’d never really cared about what the agencies stood for, he just knew what they could do.

He had never really come up against SHIELD, had never really heard much about them, but there could only be one reason why SHIELD were here, why they were spending their time on Clint. He couldn’t believe he’d missed the signs, the probing questions that he had thought were just genuine interest, the way Coulson had seemed proud of Pete.

The man was here for Pete, to take Pete away from Clint and use him like all those other agencies that Clint had been keeping Pete from, had been fighting to keep Pete the little boy he was, instead of an experiment or weapon.

But now, because of his feelings, all of that was for naught. Pete was in danger, could possibly be in danger right now, while Phil kept him distracted.

“What’s keeping yo-”

Phil’s question was cut off as his eyes took in Clint, Clint not missing the way they lingered on the glove, before meeting Clint’s gaze. Clint gritted his teeth as he saw a flash of something that could have been panic and fear run through the blue gaze, not allowing himself to be taken in again, to be fooled.

“Please just give me a chance to explain,” Phil said, a look of almost desperation on his face, one hand raised as if he was trying to calm a wild animal, and Clint almost fell for it. Before he reminded himself that the man in front of him was SHIELD, and he knew what SHIELD were after. Just like every other agency that came after him.

Pete.

“It’s not what you think. We’re not after-”

Whatever Phil, no Coulson, whatever Coulson, agent of SHIELD, was about to say was cut off when Clint picked up the lamp on the hallway table and hit him across the head. Coulson had clearly been thinking too hard about the lies he was going to use to try and convince Clint that he hadn’t been paying complete attention to what Clint had been doing.

The man dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes, Clint ignoring the ache in his chest, the pain that wanted to rip through him, as he reminded himself that he had to get to Pete, had to get to him before SHIELD, or someone else, did.

Staring down at Phil’s body, he couldn’t leave without checking that the man was still breathing, relief rushing through him when he felt the warm breath, saw the rise and fall of the man’s chest. Even if he had been betrayed, played for a fool, he couldn’t help but still care about the teacher who had wormed his way into his life.

Now that he knew that Phil was still breathing, he didn’t waste any more time rushing to his car and slamming into reverse once he was inside. His heart was racing, as all the terrible things he’d seen from his life before Pete rushed through his mind.

If SHIELD got to Pete … but he had to believe that they hadn’t. That Phil, no Coulson, the man he had started to get to know was fake, a persona to pull Clint in and keep him distracted whilst the agency learnt all they could about Pete and then swoop in and take him. He had to believe that Coulson hadn’t distracted him long enough for SHIELD to get to Pete.

Pulling into Sandra’s driveway, Clint waited a moment in the car, taking a deep breath to calm himself, before climbing out of the car and walking calmly up the steps to Sandra’s house. Ringing the bell, he went through the exit strategies he had in place, gut twisting as he realised that he hadn’t had to use them for eight months now. This place had become their home, Pete loved it here, Clint had found himself finally feeling comfortable in a place, and now it had all been ruined, all because Clint had missed the warning signs.

Pete would no doubt be even more gutted to move again given how long they had been there, but Coulson had been right when they had first met; Pete was an extraordinary kid, and he somehow knew that it was necessary when they moved.

“Clint? I thought you were picking Pete up tomorrow?”

Clint gave Sandra a small smile once she opened the door, confused look on her face, a hand running through his hair, the only outward sign of his nervousness.

“I completely forgot about an appointment Pete has early tomorrow,” he said, feeling the masks he had always worn so well come to his face. “I know the boys will be upset, but we should be able to reschedule for another day.”

“Oh, okay,” Sandra said, Clint wondering why the woman looked so disappointed. Maybe Jordan hadn’t had many friends over before, Clint had noticed that the boy seemed to be a bit shy and reserved when he saw him class.

“Can I come in?” Clint asked, after Sandra had continued standing in the door way for a moment that seemed longer than necessary. Clint felt an uneasiness run over him even as Sandra moved out of the way, holding the door open for Clint to come in.

“Where are the boys?” Clint asked, looking up the stairs, noticing that the house was dead quiet. He couldn’t help but shake the feeling that there was no one else in the house but the two of them, just him and Sandra.

It was that feeling that had him ducking the club that had been swung at his head, the gust of wind that rushed over his head telling him how close he had been to having a serious head injury. He continued the momentum from the duck and rolled forward, spinning around and striking out to kick the woman in the leg, grim satisfaction running through him when he saw her go down.

He may not have had to use his experience in a long time, but it didn’t mean that he had forgotten it. Just like with the bow, he felt that this was what he had been born to do. He didn’t have much time to dwell on it, Sandra quickly righting herself and throwing herself forward at him.

He only just saw the glint of the knife, using the woman’s momentum to throw her over him, flipping onto his feet, as he turned to face her.

She came at him again, and again he used her momentum to carry her away from him, the two of them switching positions, her with her back to the still open front door, with him with his back to the door leading into what had looked like the kitchen. He dodged her charge again, but unfortunately felt the second person too late, feeling the hit to his head, darkness crowding his vision, his last thought before everything went black was the hope that Pete would use his abilities to escape these people.

**

Groaning, Clint slowly woke up, eyes fuzzy, as the events of the day slowly came back to him. His head was throbbing, the pain worse at the back where he’d been hit, his stomach rebelling, making him want to vomit, his eyes taking longer than normal to focus. When they were able to focus, he found himself tied to a chair, hands handcuffed behind him, feet chained to the chair legs.

“Ah, you’re awake, finally.”

Looking up, Clint took in Sandra where she sat on the bench, her legs folded, as she used a knife to clean her finger nails. She looked so different from the mom he had known, even though she was wearing the same outfit, the only difference that she now had two guns strapped to her.

Holding her eyes, he wondered how he hadn’t seen the craziness that was clear to see in her eyes now; the motherly mask that she had worn since he met her gone now that the cards were on the table for all to see.

“Where’s my son?” Clint asked, gritting his teeth, as he imagined all of the horrible things he would do to the woman if anything bad had happened to Pete.

“Oh, well, he’s not really your son, now is he, Mister Barton?” Sandra replied, smirk crossing her face as she stalked towards him. “You stole him.”

“I saved him,” Clint shot back, slowly moving his hands, trying to find a way to slip the cuffs.

“That’s what you think.”

“Where is he?” Clint asked again, heart racing, chest hurting as he thought of his boy all alone with the kind of people Sandra no doubt worked with, that he had worked with once upon a time.

“Somewhere safe,” Sandra answered, stroking his hair, eyes following her movements. “Somewhere, where you and SHIELD will never find him. Not that you’re going to get an opportunity to mount a rescue mission, but still.”

“Who are you?” Clint asked. Sandra simply stroked his face for a long moment, before answering him.

“Wouldn’t you like to know.”

The chill Clint felt run down his spine was joined by nausea, as he thought of all the organisations that would love to get their hands on Pete. He still remembered when he had been given the task to take out the Parker’s, not thinking much about it, the mercenary life and following orders something he had done for a long time.

But when he had gotten to the Parker house and found them already dead, a little boy trying to wake his father, he hadn’t been able to keep his masks, his own childhood coming to mind. So he’d grabbed Pete, not really knowing what it was he was doing, just knowing that he had to protect the boy, part of him sure that Pete was who the men who had hired him were after.

It wasn’t until later that he had discovered Pete’s abilities, the little boy not only incredibly intelligent, but also possessing abilities that Clint had never seen before, but that he knew would make him wanted by all the agencies and groups out there.

“You know, our orders were only to bring the boy in,” Sandra said. “But there are other agencies that would love a piece of you. Even after all these years, there are still people who remember what you did to them, or what you stopped them from doing, the things you took from them.”

Clint frowned as her words and tone washed across him. He knew that she was telling the truth, but there was something about the way that she was talking, that made him feel that she had a more personal meaning behind them. He didn’t recognise her at all, and he knew that he would never forget someone he had come up against.

So maybe it was the second person, the one who had hit him across the head and sent him crashing, that had a problem with him.

“You know,” she continued, gripping his chin and turning his face from side to side. “I guess I can see some kind of resemblance.”

“What are you talking about?” Clint asked, a feeling of dread trickling down his spine. He hoped he was wrong, that he had again misjudged the situation, but he had a feeling that he knew exactly who the second person was.

“You know exactly what she’s talking about, little brother.”

The deep voice had Clint snapping his head to the side, Sandra’s nails scratching his cheek, the pain not registering as he took in the tall man who stood in the door way.

“Barney?”

It had been years since he had last seen his brother, remembering getting to the station too late, his brother cutting all ties with him once the bus had left the station, never answering any of Clint’s letters and later emails.

“Clinton.”

“What are you doing here?” Clint asked. He couldn’t remember any times he’d gone up against his brother since Barney had left, couldn’t remember ever stopping him from doing something or taking something from him.

“Killing two birds with one stone,” Barney replied, leaning back against the kitchen counter, arms crossed. “Untie him.”

“What?” Sandra replied, turning to look at Barney with what Clint was sure was disbelief.

“You heard me. Untie him.”

Sandra stared at him for a long moment, before turning back to Clint, hesitant look clear to see on her face, as she walked around behind Clint letting him loose of his restraints. Rubbing his wrists, Clint stood up slowly, wondering just what it was Barney had planned.

“Are you letting me go?” he asked.

Barney snorted, shaking his head as he pushed off the counter, striding over to Clint.

“No, you and I are going to find out just who is the best between the two of us,” Barney replied. "Once and for all."

“I won’t fight you,” Clint replied.

“You will, if you want the chance to save your little boy.”

Clint felt his heart squeeze at the thought of actually having the opportunity of saving Pete from the people Sandra clearly worked for.

“You know what they’ll do to him, Clint,” Barney said, leaning forwards, voice dropping as if he was telling a secret. “First they’ll use him as an experiment, and then, if he’s still alive enough and has those supposed powers he does, they’ll use him as a weapon.”

“You know, I think I won’t kill you,” Barney continued. “I think I’ll let you live, just so I can raise Peter to hunt you down and take you out. What would that be like, Clint? To have the person you love the most turn against you?”

Clint didn’t hear any more, taking the few steps to barrel into Barney and take him to the ground, fist flying before he knew it. But Barney had always been bigger than him, had always had more muscle and height, and it wasn’t long until Barney flipped them over, Clint trying to avoid the fist as it flew at his face.

Twisting, he managed to throw him off, scrambling to the side and trying to find something that he could use to stop his brother. He wasn’t really thinking about who it was he was fighting against, all he could think about was getting past these two and getting to Pete, saving Pet from the life he had worked so hard to keep him from.

His hand wrapped around the leg of the chair he had been sitting on, and he used all his strength to throw it at his brother, knowing it wouldn’t hurt him, but giving him enough time to get to his feet. He ignored the aches and pains that were running through him, taking in the room and trying to find something he could use.

Barney was up much quicker than Clint had hoped, the bigger man diving towards him, Clint able to dodge him, only to fall when something tripped him up. He only had a few seconds to see Sandra’s smirking face, before Barney was on him again.

They traded blow for blow, the two of them rolling on the ground, each one getting the upper hand for a moment, only to lose it a moment later.

“Dad?”

The quiet voice had Clint freezing, head snapping to the door way, heart clenching when he saw Pete standing there in his pyjamas, looking lost as he stared at them.

“What … how the hell did you get out?” Sandra asked, stalking over towards him.

Anger rushed through Clint, adrenaline making the aches and pains disappear, as he watched the woman get closer to his son. With a strength he didn’t know he had, he pushed Barney off him, hitting him hard twice in the face, watching with a grim satisfaction as his brother fell to the floor.

As he stood up, he heard the click of a gun, looking up and feeling his heart twist when he saw Sandra holding it aimed at him, her arm around Pete’s shoulders, holding his body in front of hers.

“Make a move and I shoot,” she said.

Clint let his hands go up, trying to think of how to get over to them and the gun out of the woman’s hands, only to lose his footing as a hand grabbed his ankle, pulling hard, Clint unable to stop himself from falling to the floor again. The fall reminded him of all the aches and pains that were present throughout his body, darkness once again clouding his vision.

“Dad!”

Clint looked up for the last few seconds that he stayed conscious, glad to see Pete struggling against the woman, using his strength to push the woman away.

“Pete,” he breathed, struggling to get the words out. “Run.”

**

“Pete!”

Clint tried to sit up in bed, groaning as pain lanced through him, his ribs and back in particular making a loud protest, as his heart raced. Everything came back to him in a flash, Coulson, Sandra, Barney, Pete. Pete had been taken and that was what his mind kept coming back to.

“He’s fine,” a calm voice replied. “He’s next door coloring.”

“Phil?” he croaked, looking up at the man above him, unable to stop both the warmth that ran through him, and the ache in his chest.

“Please relax, Mister Barton,” Phil replied, pulling the chair closer to the bed and sitting in it, giving Clint a look, which had Clint taking a deep breath, calming himself.

“What are you going to do with us?” Clint asked, not wanting to, but unable to stop himself from looking over at Ph- Coulson.

“Nothing.”

Clint couldn’t help but notice the suit Coulson was wearing when he straightened the cuffs of it, unable to stop himself from noticing how well it suited him, the lines fitting him perfectly.

“We were never planning to do anything, Mister Barton,” Coulson continued, Clint dragging his eyes up to meet blank blue one’s, part of him hating the formality in the man’s voice. “I know you’ve been running all these years, trying to keep Pete safe, but if you had let me explain back at the house I could’ve told you. We were never after Pete, he’s just a boy, and one day we might approach him, but not until he is old enough to make his own decisions.”

Clint couldn’t help the disbelief that ran through him, raising an eyebrow at the man.

“Really?”

“Really,” Coulson replied. “It was you we wanted to approach.”

“Me?” Clint exclaimed, wincing as he tried to sit up in bed again, once again reminded of where he was and why.

“Your aim is unparalleled, even though you haven’t picked a bow up in what I can only assume is years. You can get into places and tight spaces that should be impossible and we know that you would be able to handle the types of missions we want you for. Given that you managed to stop some of our best agents from completing their missions back before your son came into your life.”

Clint hated the way the tightness he had been feeling in his muscles ease a little at Coulson’s words. The man had lied to him and he couldn’t help but still feel suspicious, part of him not believing that SHIELD would really want someone like him.

There really was nothing special about him, not like Pete, and he couldn’t shake the suspicion that SHIELD really wanted Pete.

“There may be some in SHIELD who would want to use Peter, Mister Barton,” Phil said, Clint feeling like the man could read his mind. “But you have my word that he won’t be approached until he’s old enough to make up his own mind.”

“Your word?”

“We just saved your and Peter’s life,” Coulson answered, small frown on his face. “I would hope that that would at least give us a small part of your trust. At least give us a chance to prove to you that you can trust us.”

“I don’t think I can trust SHIELD,” Clint replied, not missing the small flash of hurt that ran across the other man’s face. “But maybe … maybe we can trust you.”

Clint couldn’t help the smile that crossed his face at the way Phil’s mouth quirked into his smile, glad to see the hurt look gone from his face. They held each other’s gaze for a long moment, before the door was thrown open.

“Dad!”

“Pete,” Clint replied, relief and happiness running through him as the little boy ran into the room and climbed onto the bed, arms wrapping around Clint’s neck.

“I’m sorry I used my powers,” he whispered into Clint’s neck.

“It’s alright,” Clint replied. “There are special circumstances when you should use your powers. And that was one of them.”

Pete nodded against his neck, hair tickling Clint’s nose.

“Is Mister Coulson bad?” he whispered again.

Clint froze, looking up at where the man stood, calm and patient look on his face.

“No,” Clint replied slowly, wondering if he could really trust his gut on the man. “I don’t think so.”

“Are you going to join their agency?” Pete asked again, swivelling his head so that he could stare at Coulson too. Clint gave a small smile, wondering how it was he ever forgot about his little boy’s powers.

“Maybe.”

**  

Coulson left them alone after letting Clint know that he’d be back in the morning, with the paper work that he hoped Clint would fill out. He’d been unable to stop a small smile when the other man had mentioned paper work, remembering how meticulous Coulson was with it, and hadn’t missed the twitch of the other man’s mouth.

“I’m glad Mister Coulson isn’t evil,” Pete said once the man left, looking up at Clint with a grin.

“Me too, kiddo,” Clint replied, eyes running over the little boy checking for injuries, hands touching the bruise on the little boy’s face.

Clint checked over Pete quickly, giving a small snort when the Pete rolled his eyes and informed him that he had saved Clint, not the other way around. Clint had finally stopped checking Pete once he was sure the little boy had no other injuries and the two had quickly fallen asleep, Clint not waking until he felt a slight shift in his environment.

Staying still, he opened his eyes a slit, letting his narrow gaze rove around the room.

“If I was here to hurt you, Barton, you’d already be hurt.”

His gaze fell on a tall man in black clothing, long black cloak, and black eye patch as he stepped out of the shadows.

“Nick Fury,” the man continued, walking further into the room and taking the chair. “Director of SHIELD.”

Clint couldn’t help the way his arm wrapped a little tighter around Pete, his body tensing, recognising the threat of the man who sat next to him.

“I’m not here for Mister Parker, Barton,” Fury said, amusement crossing his face. “I just wanted to meet the man.”

“The man?”

“The man who managed to get my ‘by the book, never breaks a rule’, best agent, to fraternise with a mark,” Fury replied, leaning back in his chair.

Clint couldn’t help the blush that crossed his face, hating the warmth that rushed through him at the other man’s words. Even though Coulson had lied to him, Clint could tell he was a by the book kind of guy, someone who would put the mission first, above his personal feelings.

“He was simply meant to approach you, be friendly and then present our offer,” Fury continued. “Phil isn’t the kind to enter into a relationship easily. In fact, I can’t remember the last person he dated. And I know everything about my agents.”

Clint looked away at the words, trying to ignore the way they made his heart race a little faster, the blush feeling even hotter.

“But that’s not really why I came here,” Fury said. “I simply came to tell you that SHIELD could use a man like you, Mister Barton. Someone who would give up their whole life to protect that of an innocent one.”

With that he stood up, small smile on his face as he turned and walked over to the door.

“Your aim is also something we could use,” he said over his shoulder, before walking out.

Clint stared at the door long after the man left, running things through his mind. It was true that his aim was something that would always stay with him, the fair proved that, what with how badly made the bow and arrows he had used were. And he never felt more comfortable than when he had a bow in his hands, lining up an arrow.

Except maybe when he was tucking Pete into bed.

But Pete was another reason for him to join SHIELD. If he really could trust the agency, and his gut was telling him he could, than they could help to protect Pete, could stop them from having to run every year or two.

So if he joined SHIELD, than he could possibly go back to doing something he loved, and protect the one he’d loved since looking at his small face.

By the time Coulson walked in the door, Clint had made up his mind, hoping that he wasn’t about to make a huge mistake.

“Mister Barton.”

“Agent Coulson.”

Clint couldn’t help but stare at Phil as he walked into the room, wondering if the man had any tells, if there was any way he could figure out if what Fury was saying was true. If Phil still felt that way, or whether he’d buried those feelings down, now that Clint wasn’t just a mark but someone who might be under his command.

“I trust you’ve had time to consider our offer?”

“I want it in writing that you won’t try and involve Pete in anything to do with SHIELD,” Clint started.

“Of course.”

“And I don’t want to have to go through all that basic training crap you probably put people through,” he continued, not missing the twitch at the corner of Phil’s mouth.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“And maybe somewhere nice where Pete can go to school?” Clint finished, running a hand through Pete’s hair.

“I already have a list of places for you to consider.”

Clint couldn’t help the small smile that crossed his face, reaching out to grab the papers in Phil’s hands, only just managing to stop the shiver that wanted to go through him as their fingers tangled briefly. Their eyes met for a long moment, and in that moment, Clint could tell that no matter what he tried to do, Phil still had some kind of romantic feeling for him that he couldn’t hide.

“I leave you to it,” he said, turning around and walking towards the door.

“I’ll see you around, Agent Coulson.”

“Yes you will, Agent Barton.”

END



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