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Rating: 3-3-3

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Thread Contributor: Clint BartonBlack Hawk Down
Marvel-MCU-1

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#1
The sound of arrows cutting through the air was both unique and memorable. It was also one of those sounds that people didn't tend to love the way Clint loved it. It was a predatory noise, full of danger and threat.

Thwip. Thwip. Thwip.

Arrow after arrow flew to its mark as Hawkeye fired. The little range was nothing special, really, nowhere near as nice as anything SHIELD had to offer, but it was serviceable, the lanes straight and true. And standing at the far end was Clint, loosing his arrows with an easy smile on his face.

There was nothing quite like the way this felt to him, and it showed on his face and in his posture. Clint Barton was having fun.

He knew the moment he wasn’t alone anymore; time with SHIELD made it pretty damn impossible for anyone worth their salt to go without that feeling on the back of their neck, the one that made your small hairs stand on end and caused you to itch to turn around. Clint ignored the desire to turn and see who it was that had entered his haven for a moment, watching his last arrow strike true regardless of the distraction, and then slowly turned, bow coming up, arrow already nocked, “If you’re here as a friend, show yourself. If you’re not… Well, now’s about the right time for you to start running.”
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Marvel-MCU-3

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#2
After her encounter with Tony, Natasha had spoken to Friday about the people who lived in the Tower, and their habits, to make sure that she didn't run across anyone unexpectedly. Which had lead to the revelation that there was a version of Clint Barton here, and that he liked to spend a lot of time on the archery range. Neither of which were exactly shocking revelations, although she was somewhat surprised that this version of Clint was still in the game, since he was the same age as her Clint. It had been less surprising that he was sharing a suite with his universe's version of Phil Coulson-in her universe neither man had been especially good at living alone, and both had been in long term relationships that they kept carefully hidden from anyone at SHIELD.

So she'd gone to the range, and there was Clint Barton, putting arrows into targets as pretty as you please, and for a moment she'd just stood there, watching and evaluating. Then he'd noticed her, and called her out of the shadows. Which seemed to be a habit of his.

Natasha stepped forward, open hands, palm spread, in a stance that would mean it would take her an extra five seconds to attack. Which might not sound like much, but Clint would be able to have an arrow in her in two, and he'd know that. "Stand down, Barton." she said calmly "Its Natasha. Or *A* Natasha, I should say."
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#3
This version of Clint Barton was still in the game, still an active Avenger, but finally looking to settle down just a little bit. Looking to take on his own team when he finally got home. Whenever that ended up being. Right now, he was just enjoying taking some down time and going on adventures with Phil. And living with Phil. And being out with Phil. Going out with Phil. Damn, but that was so nice…

It wasn’t as though Hub weren’t pretty safe. It was. No one here had really threatened him, not yet anyway, and he wasn’t really expecting that to change. Not unless some villain from their or some other similar world showed up and decided to cause mischief. Clint had to suppress a shudder at the idea of Loki showing up with that terrible staff of his…

Still, the moment he realized he wasn’t alone, and that the person in question was hiding in the shadows, it was past time to call them out and either chase them off or meet them in the light to either greet or snark at them.

He really wasn’t expecting Nat to be the one who stepped out, hands held way out from her sides, as near to a harmless posture as Nat could make when it came down to it, and the arrow slid back against the wood of his bow as he let the tension out of the string, “Nat!” There was joy in his voice when he said her name, the smile stretching his lips and calling attention to the crow’s feet at the sides of his eyes. In a blur of movement he sheathed the arrow back into his quiver and slapped the bow back onto his back before taking a few easy steps toward her, arms spread out wide in the offer of a hug; Nat had never really been one for big shows of affection, but she usually agreed when he asked like this, and it had been so damn long since he’d seen her, and the relief that she was alive and well and here was evident.

A Natasha. Not his Nat, then. The offer of a hug stuttered, and then he shrugged, “Still a Nat, though. A Nat that, maybe, misses a Clint?” He asked hopefully; she might not be the woman he had known for years and years, but that didn’t mean she was a stranger, either. Natasha was Natasha, there would be differences, but… “I miss Nat. Not you, but hell, I haven’t been exactly me since New York either. And you’re still as much Nat as the one from my world.”
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Marvel-MCU-3

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#4
Natasha saw the grin, and for just a moment she wished that this was her Clint, because she knew that smile. Natalia wanted to run forward and hug him, but she'd always been sentimental like that, Black Widow thought with amusement. Amusement, not disgust, because the truth was that Black Widow was fond of the archer as well.

"A Nat that misses a Clint, yes." she said, stepping forward and clasping his arm, giving him a pat on the back in an approximation of a hug. "Its good to see you. I've missed getting to see my Clint do this." she gestured at the target "He earned his retirement, but I still miss him."
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#5
Hadn’t he and Phil just been talking a bit ago about finding a Natasha that wanted to find a tem and… They had, but that didn’t mean this was the right Natasha to complete their trio again. Clint felt a very real sense of loss when he considered that this Nat might not have all the same memories as he and Phil had, that she wouldn’t know all the inside jokes, all the stories.

She missed her Clint. Wasn’t that telling, though? God, he missed his Nat something fierce; she was his family, even more than the rest of the Avengers. His sister, a part of his heart and soul just like Phil was, if in a different way.

The arm clasping almost hug wasn’t completely unknown to Clint, but… He’d been hoping for an actual hug. She couldn’t be blamed, though; she wasn’t his Nat, and he wasn’t her Clint, and that was going to make things be a little bit awkward, at least to start with. She missed watching her Clint shoot? He turned his head to look over at the range, blinking, “He doesn’t shoot at all anymore?” Clint couldn’t imagine giving this up, not entirely. He loved shooting, it balanced and centered him in a way that nothing, not even time spent with Phil and Nat, could do. He needed his time here on the range, maybe not as much as he used to, and maybe he would start shooting, even at the range, just a little bit less when they got home and he had a team to lead, but… He wouldn’t give it up completely. That would be like cutting off a limb or going blind. “I’m sure he misses you, too. I know I miss my Nat like crazy.” He gave her a small smile, “I can’t wrap my head around some version of myself being retired…”
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Marvel-MCU-3

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#6
"He shoots, but I don't get to seem him do it very much. We keep in touch, but it isn't always easy to get time to go upstate and hang out with him. Besides, when I'm there, we usually end up taking the two oldest kids to the range, so that Laura can get a break. Its fun, Cooper and Lina both have real talent, but it isn't the same as just seeing him cut loose on the range. " she smiled "Yeah, we miss each other, but its good to see him happy. Good to know that some of the people I'm fighting to protect are people that I know, and that I care about."

"You don't have kids." Natasha said with a shrug. "The Clint Barton I know has four kids-well, he had three when he retired, but you get my point. That changed his thinking about retirement. Speaking of that, are you and Coulson roomies, or are you shaking up? Friday was kind of vague about that when I asked her."
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#7
Clint’s internal monologue was running a mile a minute. The running commentary had become a mantra of: ‘Nat! Nat Nat Nat! Thank fuck, there’s a Nat here! NAAAAAAAAT!’ It wasn’t as though Clint weren’t paying attention to anything else; he was listening to what Natasha was saying, logging that in some small file in his head. A new file about a Clint from another world that was this Natasha’s version of himself that gained information like: Retired, still shoots, lives in upstate New York, misses the fuck out of her… And then more was added: Married, four kids, oldest two like to shoot, wife is Laura. “Oh. You’re from one of those worlds.” He nodded slowly, his smile half amused and half confused. Because for Clint, Laura Barton was his sister in law, not his wife. Barney’s wife. The kids were his niece and nephews, not his own; he loved them all, adored them and took care of them in Barney’s absence, but they weren’t his. Family yes, but not the same way. Clint gave her an easier smile this time, “I’m glad that there’s a version of me out there that’s happy and retired and doing the domestic thing.” And he was; because as much as he loved his life, he had found himself sometimes wondering if he could do that, have a domestic life and be happy. If he could retire and not miss the action. It made him feel more...normal...to know that he could, or at least some version of himself could.

“Nope. Doubt I ever will, either.” And he was… Okay with that. Okay, so maybe he wasn’t okay with that. Maybe since he’d come to Hub and met that girl who said she was his daughter he’d given it more thought, and after the initial panicked ‘Oh my god, I have a kid, I’d be a terrible father, how could any version of me have thought this was okay?!?’ thoughts, he had wondered at just how well put together the young woman was, and how damn good a father Phil would be, and… Yeah, so maybe he’d given it more thought since then, and maybe, just maybe, he sort of liked the idea. In the distant, ‘some day we could have this’ sort of way, because thinking of babies, of holding them, of being responsible for one, that still gave him a thrill of panic every time. Four kids? Wow…

”Speaking of that, are you and Coulson roomies, or are you shacking up? Friday was kind of vague about that when I asked her.”

The first thought Clint had was: Thank you, Friday, you beautiful Irish lass, I owe you a thousand. Which was followed up by Holy shit, this isn’t my Nat and if she doesn’t know then maybe it’s better than she just keep on not knowing because people aren’t supposed to know and she isn’t MY Nat, and who knows which side she’d come down on this and I can’t just trust anyone, even Nat, from another universe!!!

Clint’s body went taut, as though he were a marionette and his strings had been pulled too tightly. The smile he’d been wearing never hitched or faltered, but it didn’t reach his eyes anymore. Piece by piece, he fell into Hawkeye, into mission mode, purposefully relaxing, his eyes becoming unreadable, “Does it matter?”
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#8
"Yeah, kids aren't for everyone." Natasha replied "Me, I like being able to hand them back when I'm done playing with them." which wasn't entirely true, but she'd accepted a long time ago that babies weren't in the cards for her. Mostly accepted, anyway. Sometimes it bothered her, that she wasn't the kind of person who could be good at being a parent, but she had other skills, and other things to give to the world, and that was enough. Most of the time, anyway.

She watched as Clint slid into mission-mode, which was something that she recognized, and that answered her question. He'd done the same thing the first time Steve had asked him, casually how Laura and the kids were doing. The only reason why he'd react like that was if he was trying to protect Coulson, and their relationship. "No, I guess it doesn't." she said, wanting to give him the space to calm down a bit "I was just curious. This does make me wonder-did you and Coulson ever hook up with your version of me?" Because that was something that she could see happening, in a universe where Clint wasn't like a brother and was into dudes.
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#9
Nope, kids were definitely not for everyone. But... Clint looked over at Nat for a long moment before he asked almost shyly, “Am l.." I mean, is your Clint… A good dad? A good husband? Is his family happy?" For the most part. Clint had written off having a family. For the most part. But now, he and Phil were together, and when they went home, they would take the promotions being offered to them, and they could be together openly... which could, maybe, eventually mean… Clint didn’t want to go too far down that path of thought right now, but knowing if at least some version of him had been good husband and parent might help. Because Phil would be amazing at both.

Of course Clint would protect Phil. Sure, they were pretty much out here in Hub, but... who knew what this Nat would think?!

He did start to relax when she said it didn't matter. Of course, then she dropped the question she did and Clint stared at her for a long, long moment. “Are you... You are. You're serious." He couldn't help it, Clint laughed and relaxed. "And? Like a three way?" He shook his head, "No. We," he motioned between the two of them. "Used to hook up. Mostly after missions. But we were better as friends. You're-my you-is like my sister. I love her, l've leapt off buildings to keep her safe," he grinned, "And Phil..." he shrugged, “You were a part of his team. A subordinate. That's against the rules," there was a glint in Clint's eye at the admission, "And he only ever broke that rule for one person.” He winked at her. “Me." He straightened, growing serious, “We love each other. Nat."
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Marvel-MCU-3

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#10
Natasha nodded "He's a good father, and a good husband. Before Clint-my Clint" not that she needed to specify that, but it made it a little easier to talk about Clint in the third person while she was standing in front of his double "retired, he was away from home a lot, but when he was there, he was really there, giving Laura and the kids all of his attention. He adored them, and they felt the same way. Once he retired it was like that, but even more so. He took care of the kids, I don't think that Laura changed more than three diapers when Ella was a baby, joined the PTA, all of it." she couldn't help but smile, "All of the focus that he put into being Hawkeye, he put into being the kid's dad and Laura's husband, and it showed. So yeah, he was good at it."

As soon as he asked if she was serious, Natasha couldn't help but laugh herself "No, I'm not serious, Clint." she couldn't help but smirk a little "The question was a way to get confirmation that you'd been slipping Coulson the sausage that didn't end up with you slamming me into a wall." she nodded with approval "Good. I'd hate to think that there was a version of Phil Coulson who'd go against regs for the sake of a booty call."
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#11
A good father, a good husband. Clint was watching Natasha like, haha, a hawk. Not looking for threats, but to make sure she wasn’t saying anything just… Just to be nice. Normally, Clint wouldn’t suspect Natasha of gentling something like this, let alone downright lying to him about it, but this wasn’t the Natasha that he knew so damn well, either, this was another version of her, and who knew what differences there were. But the thing was, she didn’t seem to be misleading or lying to him, she seemed… Sincere. Damn.

The idea that some version of himself out there was a good dad, a good husband… That was meaningful to Clint in a lot of ways. He wasn’t stupid, he knew that someday Phil would want all of that; marriage and kids, maybe not anytime very soon, but eventually he would, because Phil was that sort of guy, and that was partly why Clint loved him so damn much. If Clint could, eventually, give him those things…

That he’d been slipping Coulson the sausage. Clint just about fell over laughing at the words. “Oh… Oh. My. God. Nat.” Clint laughed hard enough, taken so much by surprise, that he moved to hold his side, “Do you really want to know who pitches and who catches??” He snorted, “I mean, sometimes we mix things up…” But seriously! He did however, grow more serious when she spoke of going against regs, “No one knows. Well, you - our version of Natasha - knows, but that’s… That’s pretty much it. We’ve been careful for over a decade.”
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Marvel-MCU-3

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#12
Clint's laughter was infectious-that was a universal constant as well-and Natasha couldn't help but laugh along with him. "No, no, no. I do not need to know the details of your sex life. As long as the two of you are happy, I'm good. Seriously." and then he told her that they'd been hiding it for a decade, and she blinked in surprise "From everyone? Well, not your Natasha, obviously she'd know. But Fury doesn't know? You're sure about that?" because she couldn't imagine a version of Nick Fury who wouldn't know everything that was going on with SHIELD. On the other hand, she could easily imagine Fury being willing to look the other way, when the alternative was breaking up one of his best teams.
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#13
Laughter, real honest laughter, often was infectious. When Clint laughed, the real sort of laugh, not the sarcastic or downright nasty facsimiles of laughter that he often affected to make a point or hide a hurt feeling or wounded pride, but the real sort, like this was, he gave it his all, and just fell into it, letting it out, letting it bubble up and out of him. At her words about not needing details of his sex life, though, he hiccupped back a few gulps of air, his expression turning just a bit mischievous, “You sure? Because oh Nat, there’s so much of it!” Was he teasing? Sure as shit he was, but at the same time, he was partly serious, too. He and Phil had a very healthy relationship, from their sex life to the fact that they actually (sometimes) talked about things. When they needed to. You know. It wasn’t like they were whiny or anything. Just… Sometimes talking was necessary. For the good of the relationship.

Enough of that line of thought, thanks, Barton.

“From everyone.” He arched a brow at her incredulity, “‘Tasha, seriously.” Clint almost looked insulted, “We’re talking about Phil here. If anyone can keep a secret from Fury, it’s him. And I still flirt with everyone. Obviously. Leopards and spots, right? There are betting pools. People have money down on Phil being an LMD.” Clint snickered, “Or married to Fury’s sister. Or secretly married to Fury. We’re actually pretty good at the whole secret workplace romance thing.” And if Nick Fury knew and had decided to not say anything? Hey, no skin off Clint’s back. Strike Team Delta had been the best team SHIELD had for years, what good would be had in breaking them up? “Besides, we’re professional at work. We know why the rule exists.” He looked up at her, eyes wide and far too innocent looking for the archer, “But it’s love, ‘Tash.”
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#14
"La La La, I can here you." Natasha teased back, putting her hands over her ears "Stop, or I'll shatter all of Phil's illusions about Captain America. All of them." which, after she'd said it, made her stop for a minute. Joking about Steve, about her failed relationship wasn't something she'd done yet, and it felt right to do it with Clint, or some version of him anyway, but still, it was a new thing for her.

"Oh, I believe that no one else knows what is up." Natasha replied "But if anyone knows, its Fury. Unless your Fury is way, way, way less savvy than mine is, I'd put good money on Fury knowing and deciding that he is going to put you guys on the side with his eyepatch, so he can pretend not to notice, just sayin'." she laughed "And of course, its love, I get that already."
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#15
Clint loved to laugh. Oh sure, his sarcastic nature often meant that a laugh wasn’t an indication that something was funny, but when he really let loose with an honest to goodness belly laugh that just sort of carried, you knew you struck his funny bone. Under the sarcasm and banter and silliness that was more a defense mechanism than it was a true lack of maturity. When Natasha started ‘singing’ and cracking jokes, Clint’s laughter took on a different dimension; it was still mellow, but it was also fuller somehow. Clint Barton was absolutely happy. He was calm, and relaxed, just joking around with one of his oldest, closest friends. “Aw, you wouldn’t, Nat, because it’s Phil, and those are some awfully strong illusions.” He had no way of knowing what the joke, seemingly made so easily, meant for Nat, but something in his tone carried the indication that Clint understood, even if he didn’t know.

Grinning, Clint nodded to Nat’s words, “There’s so much in the betting pools. But no one has it, Nat. Not a single dime on ‘Barton and Coulson are an item.’ And honestly, I’m pretty damn proud of that.” Because that meant that no one even had a clue, it wasn’t even on the radar. “But yeah, if Fury knows, he’s not looking.” He shrugged, “And as long as he’s not trying to mess up what we’ve got, then I’m good with him knowing, or not knowing.”

He bounced on the balls of his feet, “‘Course it’s love. It’s me and Phil.” He tipped his head much like the bird of prey he had taken his name from, “When -if we ever go back, we’re taking promotions, both of us.” He smiled, “Can you imagine me with my own team?”
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#16
"Well, ok, maybe not. Unless you start giving me mental images I don't need in my life. Then, I make no promises." Natasha teased. "Of course no one has it in the pool." she replied "You understand what op sec looks like and so does Phil. But when you do go public, you should totally do my Natasha a solid and tip her off first. That way she can cash in, since she was probably the one who shoved you at Phil." it was a guess, but a shrewd one. She'd been the one who'd told Clint that the pretty barista really was flirting with him. Granted, she hadn't expected them to fall in love and make babies but it had been her idea for him to ask her out, so she always demanded credit.

"I can actually, after watching what my version of you did with the PTA after you retired. If you can do that keeping a few specialists in line will be easy peasy. Besides" she continued more seriously "Its a way for you to stay active for longer. Pass on what you've learned, and make sure the kids know how its supposed to be done." a thought occurred to her "I wonder what kind of problem children Fury's tossing your way? Because you know he is."
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#17
Thank god for universal constants! Or at least, semi-universal constants? Nat was… Nat. Sure, she was a little bit different, even in the short time they’d been talking, Clint could see some of the little differences, deviations from the norm, in this Nat from his own, but… She was still Natasha, she was familiar and recognizable, and… He laughed again, “Scouts honor, Nat, I will try not to give you too many disturbing mental images. For Phil’s sake.” Her request that they tell their Nat before coming out earned another goofy grin from the archer, “Aw, Nat… She already knows. She was our exception; you think I could keep a secret from you? Any version of you, but especially mine? You’re giving me way too much credit, ‘Tasha. But yeah, she was definitely the one who might have sort of maybe told me to go for it, and chicken shit that I am, I took forever to do it, but I don’t regret doing it, not for a moment.”

What had he done to the PTA?? Clint was burning to know, and while he didn’t ask, not yet anyway, his eyes found hers and asked the question he was trying to hold in. “Yeah, yeah, Nat, I know, thanks for reminding me about my age.” Clint rolled his eyes, “But on a serious note, yeah, I’m not ready to retire, so moving up to handler with my own team sort of seems like the right thing to do. And I’ll still be an Avenger, too, so…” He grinned, he loved being an Avenger. Best way to jump off a building was to know that he had Big Green there to catch him! “Oh, he’ll probably be giving me the ones no one else will take. It’s Fury, and it’s me. It’ll be hell.” He laughed, “And fun!”
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#18
"That is another universal constant, then." Natasha said with a laugh "I was the one who talked my version of you into asking his wife out. He was a chicken about it too." she smiled, shaking her head at the memory "I'm glad that the two of you are happy together. Both of you deserve it. So, I gotta ask, what is your-me's love life like?"

Nat caught the unasked question and said "Turned them into the best fundraising and school board lobbying operation in New York. Seriously, every field trip, every extra thing the kids needed was funded. It was awesome. He's thinking about running for school board, once the youngest kid is in middle school. Its awesome." she nodded in agreement "Yeah, moving you up to being a handler is a genius idea, actually. Especially if he hands you the kids who need someone they respect if they're gonna take orders. And who understands that mindset."
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#19
Another universal constant? Awwwww. “Hey, I’m not a coward. It’s just really risky to ask people out. And with Phil it was even more risky, because he was my handler, my boss, and that’s not something that SHIELD smiles on, you know? The moment we’re officially not on the same team, that Phil won’t be in trouble for us? I’m planting one on him in the middle of the cafeteria at lunch. It’s been crazy hard not to give any indication all of this time, I’ve been dying to do it.” His Nat? Clint considered, thinking back to before the fight with Thanos, before Hub, “Uh… Do you have a James Barnes in your world?”

Wait, wait, what? He joined the PTA when he retired and whipped them into shape with fundraising and school board lobbying?? That… Okay, maybe that sounded just a little bit like him, at least with the going gung-ho and making things maybe a bit more militant, more organized, but... He did that? Seriously? And running for school board. He blinked, settling against the post that marked the end of his lane, “This place… I like it here, you know? Teaches you a lot, shows you things you would never have dreamed of. There’s a world out there with this girl, she’s like, at least 20-something, and she’s my kid. Mine and Phil’s, we adopted her. And she… She’s amazing, Nat. But I look at her, and ask how I could have done that? And then here you are, telling me I’m this badass superdad in another world, and it… It leaves me wondering…” Could he do that? Could he really be a dad? With Phil? Was that… “I mean, the idea of marriage makes me cringe, but you’re saying I did that and had kids, and that I’m even a good dad…”

He looked down, “I’m not sure about that, Nat. I mean, sure, I know how to be a handler. I know how to make good calls in the field, yeah. But these kids, they’re gonna have to trust me, and… That’s not really my strong suit, you know? How do I convince these agents that I deserve their respect and trust? I’m just one of them… Always have been. This… It’s sort of scary. Exciting, and Phil thinks I can do it, too, but scary, Nat.”
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#20
Natasha couldn't help but grin at the mental image "I'm trying to decide if more people would start applauding than would die of shock." she said, in a tone that indicated she'd be one of the first to start clapping. When he asked about James, her tone changed a bit "Yeah, we do. Did have one, anyway. He died a few months ago. Your Nat was with him too?" Something about his tone made her think that things maybe hadn't ended well for that Nat and that Bucky either.

"It shows you what you're capable of becoming." Natasha replied "The important thing is that you're a good man, and make the lives of the people around you better. That can look like a lot of different things, though. Just do what feels right. For what its worth, my version of you was worried he'd be a shitty dad too. So he worked twice as hard at being a good one. He said that the difference between a shitty parent and a good one is that a good parent worries about all the ways they're fucking their kids up."

"Trust doesn't happen overnight, trust happens because you're making the right calls, and because they know you've got their backs, no matter what." Natasha replied "You build it, brick by brick."
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