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Advocating the Avengers

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    After watching for a minute, Allison looked up with a little grin and held up her StarkPad. "Looks like we're going to meet the team.  Everybody should know I'm coming, so I just have to warn them I'm livestreaming, right?"

     "Nah, just this once we're clear, everyone knew you were gonna be here today so we're all prepared already.  Most of the folk with secret IDs are either not here or their civvy identity isn't the secret." Clint dismissed. "C'mon.  You mind if we stop off at my room on the way?  I got a shirt I've been meaning to mend in there and a slingshot I need to settle a bet with the Hulk."

     The casual way he said it had Allison laughing before she could think about it and she shook her head. "No no, it's fine," She assured him, fixing her flannel sleeve to roll it up properly again and surveying the room. "Right.  Everything's put away that needs to be.  Let's go.  Who all is up there again?  You didn't say." She followed him out the door and he showed her how to lock it before continuing to the elevator. 

     Clint laughed. "Whoa no, kiddo.  You get to find out when you meet 'em.  I want to see how many you can pick out by sight.  There's at least three that just about anybody will be able to identify.  You a Cap fan?" He spun around to walk backwards as he talked, eyes lit up with excitement, and as they got into the elevator he kept bouncing on his feet. 

     Allison grinned at the evidence that even super spies could get that excited, and talking about his friends, no less! "Uh, yeah, I've never been to the exhibit but yeah I know who he is too.  I've watched a lot of his interviews and things, so.  He's amazing on The Daily Show, with Trevor Noah, he's on a fair number of talk shows actually."

     "Yeah, he's a big human rights activist.  I've been trying to get him elected President for ten years but no such luck.  Write-in campaigns with no million dollar promotion aren't that successful.  Who knew?" Clint rolled his eyes and then whirled around to grin at her. "Wait a second.  Video log.  We might actually get him elected this time.  Honey, you may save the world with this." He pointed at her meaningfully and the elevator opened. "I call it my room but that's out of habit, I actually have my own floor here for when my family visits.  My wife and me, five kids, two of whom have spouses and kids of their own now, gets pretty crowded."

     "You have five kids and you're a grandfather and you're still a superhero?  That's pretty awesome." Allison said, trying not to stare in astonishment. "You seem way too young to be a grandpa."

     Clint snorted and ducked into the bedroom to grab the shirt, revealing with the open door that it was a total mess. Trash in the form of old pizza boxes, napkins, newspapers and paper plates littered the floor in various states of crumpled, along with broken bits of purple feathers.  The walls were covered in targets of various sizes with darts or arrows stuck in them. 

     Allison was so distracted taking in the difference between the trash of his bedroom compared to the near spotlessness of the living room she'd entered into that she almost missed his response.

     "Yeah, two of the kids are technically adopted, so their ages get my wife and me some raised eyebrows when we're in public, 'cause we were teenagers when they were born.  They're the oldest two, the married ones.  Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, you've probably heard of them." He gave her a proud smile when he exited with a t-shirt and the slingshot in hand. "Got 'em.  Let's go."

     "You adopted Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver." Allison echoed, following him. "What happened to their biological parents?  Was this before or after they got their 'code names' as we call them and were on the news?"

     "All part of their TE, but suffice it to say they were mutants already and that's why I wanted to step in. Nobody else was going to." Clint shook his head. "You'll hear about their dad soon enough, though, I guess.  Fucking Magneto.  Thinks he has a right to control them just because he was their genetic donor.  Fuck him." He pursed his lips before saying more. "I'm their dad now, though.  They're good kids, really, when there's no hypnotists involved."

     Allison looked at him curiously. "Are you saying that during their stint as supervillains that got them branded terrorists, they were hypnotized?  That would explain the sudden change of sides."

     "Scarlet Witch was.  Quicksilver was more . . . just hanging around to protect her." He shot her a lopsided grin as the doors opened. "Whoop, we're here!" 

     "That was fast." She observed.

     Anthony Stark himself snorted from the room the elevator opened to. "It should be, I built it.  Allison Willow, right?  Come on in.  How old are you?"

     Clint touched her arm to guide her out into the room, suddenly shocked as she was by Tony Stark speaking directly to her without being introduced. "It's okay, kid." He murmured under his breath.

    Allison shook herself and gave him a nervous grin. "Just 19."

    "Shirley Temple it is." Tony moved over to an honest to goodness drink cart like she'd only ever seen in movies. 

    "Oh, that's okay," She said quickly. "I'm fine, really, I'll just grab some water or something-"

     Clint cut her off with an arm around her shoulders. "Just let him make it, it makes him happy.  If you don't like it, someone else will take it." He guided her over to where a group of people were mostly sprawled across living room furniture.

     Thor jumped up from his seat on their approach, beaming. "Here, here.  Thor." He extended a hand to her.

     Not wanting to be rude, Allison took it, already wincing in anticipation, but Thor seemed to have an idea of how fragile humans were by now, and he didn't even crush her hand as much as Clint had.  She grinned at him in surprise and relief. "Hi, Allison, it's, it's okay though you can keep your chair, I'll find somewhere else to uh, to sit."

     "Nonsense!  Everywhere else is taken and as our guest and a new person to the group you should not be expected to share." Thor scoffed. "It's a matter of decorum!  Sit, sit.  I'll go annoy Stark for a drink and then steal the place beside the lovebirds." He swaggered around the back of a small couch and flicked a blond man in a Captain America's shield t-shirt upside the head, making him jerk with annoyance and the brunet resting on his shoulder grumble.

     Clint made sure Allison sat down and immediately chose to perch on the back of a chair where Hulk was sitting, using the green giant's shoulder as a footrest.  He whispered something to Hulk, who snorted, and he took out the slingshot and something else from his pocket and loaded and pulled it back. "Allison, sit still." He ordered and she froze, not sure what to expect.

     A small bean bag flying across the room and ricocheting off several surfaces before beaning Thor in the back of the head was not it, though, and she gasped.

     The redheaded woman seated in the chair beside her snorted without looking up from her book, despite the bag having flown right over her head, close enough to move her hair. "One day you're going to get yourself killed doing that, Barton."

     "Only if I die, Romanoff, only if I die." Clint beamed as Thor slowly turned around.

     The thunder god calmly bent to pick up the bag, eyed it for a minute, and then looked pointedly at Clint. "Hulk, do not move." He said flatly, and Hulk snorted as he too froze.  Clint's eyes widened but he didn't move fast enough to dodge when Thor just threw the bag back, and in his scramble to get away, he merely unbalanced himself enough that taking the bag to his shoulder knocked him off the back of Hulk's chair onto the floor.

     He lay there prone for a minute and groaned, laughing. "I deserved that."

     "Yes, you did." Thor said cheerfully and then nodded to Tony as he was handed his drink. "Thanks, Stark.  So, Allison!  Tell us about yourself." Both he and Tony wandered back over, and Tony took a seat on Pepper Potts-Stark's lap without batting an eye, and Thor tapped on the legs of the man on the couch. "Move 'em or lose 'em, Falsworth."

     The brunet jerked his legs out of the way just in time to keep Thor from flopping on them, landing himself curled almost entirely in Steve Rogers' lap. "Oi, mate!  Some of us are usin' all our limbs!" He griped. 

     Steve laughed and hugged him close as Thor snorted at him.  The Asgardian replied airily, "You're not using any of yours at the moment, 'mate'."

     "So, Allison." Clint had perked up and was just leaning on the coffee table now, seated on the floor, giving her that same lopsided grin. "See anyone you recognize?"

     Allison looked around. "Well, um.  Tony Stark, obviously.  Thor, Hulk, you.  I figure those are the ones you expected me to know.  And I think I recognize Captain America?" She gave the blond on the couch a sheepish look.

     He smiled reassuringly even as he carded his fingers through the other man's hair, calming him down despite ruining the neatly coiffed brown hairstyle. "Yeah, that's me."

     "And that's honestly all the Avengers I recognize.  I don't know who most of the rest of you are, although I do recognize Ms. Potts-Stark." Allison grinned shyly at the billionaire couple, Tony lounging comfortably in his wife's lap as she was writing an email on her phone. "I remember hearing about how you have an Avengers persona as well, but since you come out so rarely . . ."

     Pepper shook her head. "I have armor as a last resort.  I'm a backup."

     "She's called Rescue and she has one of the best armor sets I've ever built," Tony bragged cheerfully, kissing her cheek. "If it weren't for her we'd never have defeated Thanos.  But she's much better at paperwork than me so she devotes most of her time to managing the company, as well as the team's finances.  Most of which come from my company.  Because the rest of these people have no jobs."

     Steve gave him a deadpan look. "I'm literally the only person here who doesn't have a formal job, Tony.  And I have savings from 1933."

     "Barton has a job again?" Tony tilted his head backwards until he could see Clint, who was glowering at him.

     "Yes, I have a job.  Sort of.  Family income, anyway, even if my wife is managing most of it.  And you've known about it since 2010." Clint deadpanned. "Plus I think I'm still getting severance pay from the government so there."

     Hulk sighed contentedly. "It's nice to not be the go-to 'guy with no job' anymore."

     "I'm sure it is but to be fair you work for me so . . . I'm still paying for everything." Tony reminded him, still backwards, at this point more lying across Pepper's lap than actually sitting there.

     "No, you are not, actually, the company is.  And the company pays you as well." Pepper said dryly and rubbed his chest idly with her spare hand, which made his eyes drift shut in bliss. "Hello, Miss Willow.  I'm sorry about the distraction, I just have to get out a couple more emails." She gave an apologetic smile.

     "Oh, it's fine." Allison grinned nervously.

     Before the Starks could start again, the redhead beside her put down her book, placing a bookmark and offering a hand to her to shake. "Natasha Romanoff." As Allison shook her hand she added, "Black Widow."

     "Oh, hi," Allison blinked. "I haven't really heard of you."

    "Good, that means my cover's working." Natasha smiled grimly at her. "I'm an agent.  That's all you really need to know.  The government already has my information on file.  Several governments do." She nodded to Clint, who waved. "He's my old partner."

     "She's not as scary as she seems." Clint grinned. "So everyone in this room is an Avenger except you."

     The previously unidentified brunet in Steve's lap raised his head and spread his hands indignantly. "Excuse me?" 

     "Oh, and him." Clint conceded.

     Before Allison could even open her mouth to ask, the man had sat up a bit and turned to face her, kicking Thor spitefully in the calf as he moved, which the god predictably ignored. "Sorry, I'm Brian Falsworth-Rogers.  Pleasure."

     Allison couldn't help the amused grin at his introduction, waving back in favor of shaking hands as he was so far away. "Well hi, I'm Allison Willow, as I'm sure you heard.  What brought you into the Avengers fold, then?"

     "Lord Brian Falsworth-Rogers is my husband," Steve said smugly. "Used to be a Captain in the Royal Army.  After he retired- early retirement- we met at a reunion for the old Howling Commandos squad.  He was standing in for his father, a man I used to know, and the rest is history.  We got married a couple of years ago." He kissed Brian's temple affectionately, beaming with the exact same proud expression as Tony had worn when talking about Pepper.

     Brian rolled his eyes. "My sister manages the day-to-day of our estate back home.  I still have a dual citizenship and don't plan to give it up.  We travel back and forth a couple of times a year." He tilted his head back to glance at Steve and include him as he talked, but his focus remained on Allison.

     Steve shrugged. "It's nice enough up there.  Falsworth Manor is beautiful, but driving in London is a fucking nightmare."

     Brian snorted again. "It's no worse than here!"

     "It is worse than here!  You've got all the same big city problems, plus the fucking M25 exists, and on top of that when was the last time it stopped raining and you could really see the road?" Steve insisted.

     His husband glowered at him. "You're going to stop talking about Britain now."

     "Yes sir." Steve said cheekily.

     "Would you two stop it, you've only been married for what, eight years?" Thor grumbled.

     "You and Sif've been married for over a thousand and you're still worse than they are," Hulk retorted. "Let 'em banter about the weather, it's not nearly as graphic as you two.  Not an image I ever needed." To Allison he added, flatly, "They didn't make it all the way to their room one time back when we still had rooms in a shared hallway.  I was across from them."

     Thor scowled. "It wasn't that bad!  We just had a few bits of armor off, that's all."

     "Still saw a lot more than I needed to!" Hulk glanced down and saw Clint still in arm's reach and looked speculative.  Fortunately the archer caught on and bolted over to sit by Black Widow instead.

     "Hey, new rule, no throwing Hawkeye like a pillow!" He yelped.

     Allison laughed with the team. "Does that need to be a rule?"

     Four or five people all replied "Yes!" at once, Clint's being the high-pitched squawk of the group.  

     Once the banter had died down a bit, Allison relaxed enough to interrupt with a question. "So, Hawkeye- Clint- mentioned that he was married with kids earlier, and now I find that several of you are married as well.  How many of the Avengers are settled with families now?"

     They all exchanged glances and had to think about it for a minute. "I think the majority of us, now." Steve was the one to reply, thoughtfully. "Brian and I have two boys, Clint's got kids, everybody knows about Tony's kids." He conceded to the Starks. "Well, I mean.  Two of Tony's kids."

     Allison turned to him in astonishment. "Tony Stark has secret children?  You realize that's gonna headline in the tabloids soon, right?  Not a lot of people are watching yet but really . . ."

     Tony waved a hand dismissively. "No, no.  He's talking about my actual kids plus the superhero kids I just sorta mentor.  There's my girl Morgan, and then Alex, who are actually ours," He gestured at himself and Pepper. "Then there's Spider-Man, two other young tech geniuses whose names I don't wanna spoil- the girl's Iron Heart, and I swear to god she's my rightful heir as Iron Man.  Then there's Rhodey's niece.  I feel like I'm forgetting somebody." He eyed the ceiling thoughtfully. "I may just be thinking of my friends' kids.  Takes a village, and all that."

     "Yeah, we all sorta helped to raise each other's kids," Clint admitted. "It's kinda like a massive found family.  They've started getting old enough to date now- the main contingent of them, anyway, a few are older, some are younger- and let me tell you it's exactly as weird as I thought.  Oh, Tony!  Vision!  Vision's the one you're forgetting!" He bounced upright in his seat as he remembered.

    Tony snapped his fingers. "Right, right!  The robots!  Dum-E, Butterfingers, You- the robot's name is You- technically I guess Ultron is the lovechild of me and Hank Pym, little help from Banner over there.  Which makes Vision my grandchild, and he's also Clint's son-in-law.  You're right that is very weird."

     "Speaking of which," Clint added, "My other son asked Morgan out the other day, or he said he was going to.  Did you hear anything about that from her or did he chicken out?" 

     Tony rubbed his forehead wearily. "Yeah, she told me, and she said she was going.  Kids are just determined to drag our families together, huh?"

     "Apparently.  I think Tasha's been getting tongue-tied around Alex too."

     "Dear lord can just one of your kids other than Pietro not marry into my family?"

     As the team laughed, Thor ribbed him optimistically. "Don't worry so much, Stark!  Magni, Modi, and Torunn all have eyes for humans as well, and from what I overhear of their sibling gossip, they're all quite interested in Morgan and Alex."

     Tony wrinkled his nose. "Listen, Thor, if your thousand year old sons touch my kids, I'm yeeting them straight back to Asgard, do you hear me?  Otherwise, can we please stop talking about the kids' love lives because it is rapidly reaching an uncomfortable level."

     "Point taken." Clint said after a moment's thought. "But yeah, Allison, a lot of us are married with kids, or at least committed.  That's gonna change shortly as the kids get a little older.  A lot of them decided to go into vigilante-ing too, and their generation is just about ready to join up, so that'll shift the scales back towards single young people again.  That's where the X-Men tend to hover."

     "Justice League's got a pretty good mix of both." Steve added. "Same with Alpha Flight, so I hear.  There's a lot of other teams around the world, but those are the ones mainly based in the United States and Canada.  Actually Canada might have some that I don't know about too."

     "Is there ever any territorial dispute between the teams?" Allison asked curiously. "A lot of the fan theories about you seem to imply a pretty heavy rivalry between you all, to the point of a team war between the X-Men and the Avengers."

     They all exchanged glances. "We've had our differences," Tony admitted carefully. "We did have some conflict with the X-Men for a while, but the policies that caused it are in the past.  We've come to an understanding now."

     "With the Justice League it's more of a friendly rivalry," Clint said, more relaxed. "I'm actually on both teams.  We've got an archery club, me, Green Arrow, Speedy, Red Arrow, Arsenal, the whole gang." He grinned. "We're all pretty chill with each other these days.  Other than the occasional competition between two people with the same skill set.  Archery tournaments, super speed races, that kinda thing.  We try to keep it fun.  We've got enough trouble with everyone else.  We all wanna save the world, we ought to keep on good terms."

     "Well said." Thor said approvingly. "Though it is not just one world."

     Clint rolled his eyes as the moment was broken, the team all groaning. "She knew what I meant, Thor!"

     "Did you develop telepathy when I wasn't watching?  She may not have known!" Thor bickered back, and Allison never quite got them back together after that, but at least the viewers got to see more of their casual bickering matches.  Things were surprisingly quiet at dinner, which Steve and Brian got up to cook, everyone just wolfing down their food.  As there weren't any alarms at that point, Allison opted to go to bed.

     "So that was Day One with the Avengers," She said to the camera in the elevator. "It wasn't very candid, but I didn't really expect to get there during introductions.  We'll just have to see where the trip takes us after this.  Until tomorrow this Advocating the Avengers, signing off."