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A Face in the Crowd

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"I can't believe you're doing this to us, Stark."

Tony chortled evilly at the face Natasha made as she adjusted her...uniform.

"You guys are the ones Ross wants on the Raft. This is part of my deal to keep you off it."

The look Natasha gave him promised payback. Hurtful payback.

Clint came in. He shrugged.

"It could be worse."

Nat leveled her glare at him.

"You're not the one in skin tight spandex and stage makeup."

"They made me up too...see?"

Clint made kissy faces at her, which she promptly ignored.

Tony frowned.

"Better not be skin tight, Widow, you've gotta stay family friendly."

Nat flipped him off.

"Language...." he sang out.

She turned her attention to her ride outside.

"I think I could flip that thing over on my own." she growled.

"Come on, Nat. We're not going to run into anything here." Clint paused. "This is neutral territory. I think."

"Give me one good reason why we're doing this?" she demanded of her partner.

"Uh...hello...Ross?" Tony came back with, sipping on his coffee.

"I'll outrun him in a minute." she almost snarled.

"I have three reasons. They're on the route. And they all want to see their Auntie Nat...." Clint looked at her pleadingly.

She sighed, defeated.

"Only for your munchkins, Clint."

"That's the spirit!" crowed Tony.

"I'm still getting you for this, Stark."

"It's worth it. Come on, they're lining up now."

"I do this once."

"Sure. Once at 3, then once at 6."

Natasha groaned.


20 minutes later, Nat and Clint stood on separate sides of the...whatever it was. It was supposed to be a open back jeep maybe, she wasn't sure. They were supposed to be waving to the crowd, posing heroically, saluting...doing whatever heroes were supposed to do.

Clint snickered when they gave them those instructions. The guy playing Cap sighed.

"Look, guys, follow my lead, OK? I really need to keep this role, and somehow I got to be your babysitter. Don't do anything that'll get me fired..."

Tony had slapped them on the back.

"Sounds like the real thing, huh guys. Don't worry, Cap, they'll behave..."

He mouthed the word "Ross" at them and then stepped down.

"See you at the end." as he sauntered off.

"I hate him." muttered Nat.

"It's just the once. Laura says they're about halfway down."

"Fine. Then we find something to shoot."

"There's some of those over at Tomorrowland."

Nat rolled her eyes as the float started to pickup, and she could hear the entrance music pipe through the speakers.

"I get Cooper..."

Clint smirked as they rolled out into the bright California sunlight.

"You really think you'll beat us?" he laughed as the excited screams of the tourists met his ears.

"Welcome to California Adventure's Parade of Heroes! Please give a Disney welcome to the real Black Widow and Hawkeye, Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton!"

Just twice, Nat reminded herself as the parade moved slowly through the theme park. Then she could go back and play nicely with Ross and the rest. It would help get Steve and the others back, eventually. Stark was doing his best to undo that part of Sokavia.

If Steve wanted to come back.

The parade float came to a temporary stop, and she waved and smiled. Her eyes drifted over the crowd. Not for the first time, she wished she could turn back time...

A movement in the crowd. Someone trying not to be seen. Her eyes automatically zoomed in, tracking them. She mentally shook her head. There's no threats here, this is Disneyla..

She stared. She knew that figure. To add to that, she knew the the woman who had immediately followed him. Nat had trained her.

The float began to move on.

Hesitating only a moment, Nat lept off, running into the crowd.

"Damn it, Nat!" Clint called from behind her.

"Guys, get back up here!" wailed the Cap.

Footsteps pounded behind her. She stopped, looked around wildly.

They had blended into the tourist crowd. Clint pulled up beside her.

"What the fuck, Nat?"

"Coulson. Phil."

Clint stared at her.

"Him and Melinda May. I saw them, Clint."

"He's dead....she's most wanted last I saw. With that group of rogue Agents."

"No, I saw him, he was in the crowd." She looked it over. "Gone now."

"I think you've been in the sun too long, Widow. The man's been dead 5 years."

"Yeah..." Natasha got back on the float.

They finished up the route, and then headed into security, where Tony had cleared the area and was waiting for them.

"Nat, we talked about this. You don't play nice, Ross.."

"Fuck Ross, Stark, pull up the video feed. I know what I saw."

A voice came through the intercom.

"You always had the best eyes, Natasha."

The three paused.

"Camera 12."

They pulled it up. On the Main Street of Disneyland, a lone man sat on a park bench. He took off his glasses.

"Nat. Clint. Stark."


"I know you have questions. I wish I had the time to answer them. All I can say is that I'm sorry. Sorry I didn't contact you earlier. Maybe it would've changed things."

"Anton Ivanoff. He's planning a diversion for General Hale with the animatronics. You three need to get to Main Street now, or it's going to be a blood bath."

"Where are you going?" demanded Clint.

Phil smiled sadly.

"I have a future to stop. If I can. You'll know it if I don't."

He got up.

"Stark, there's a USB stick with our data in your locker. If this goes wrong, you need to start getting people to those coordinates in them. Time will be of the essence, and there won't be much of it."

"Wait, we can..."

"We're wanted, Stark. The world doesn't have time for us to convince Ross. And..."

Phil suddenly looked much older.

"I don't have time to do anything more than save the world one last time. And say goodbye."

He stood up.

"You have five minutes to get here, Agents." He swallowed. "Stark. One request. Take care of whoever is left from my team at the end of this. They are...extraordinary."

Stark wiped his eyes.

"That had not better be your last request, Agent Agent. You've got a lot of explaining to do."

Phil shook his head.

"It was an honour serving with all of you. I mean it"

He gave one last nod to the camera, and then strode off towards Adventureland.

They stared at one another, shaken to the core. Then Stark looked at his watch.

"4 minutes, 15 seconds. Want a lift?"

The Black Widow, Hawkeye and Iron Man arrived in time to stop the robotic army from tearing into the unarmed civilians, most of whom thought it was another street performance.

Tony opened his locker to find a black USB key. On it was enough evidence to send the ATCU after one General Hale and her HYDRA team. No video evidence existed of the person who had left it there. Or of Coulson's presence in the park.

Before Tony could have FRIDAY do a deeper dive, the skies opened, and the Avengers were forced to face down the very real threat of Thanos.

After it was all over, with a mild aftershock or two, Stark returned to his tower. Opening his doors to the common area, he faced a little group of people sprawled over the floor. A woman and girl got up, hand in hand to meet him.

He lifted an eyebrow.

"Tony Stark? I'm Melinda May. This is Robin. The rest is the team."

He waited.

"Phil sent us."