Holiday Requests: Your Brother's Birthday

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Holiday Requests 2014

Request: December 1. Clint has no idea how Natasha found out it was Barney's birthday (or why that should even matter to him) for alphaflyer


Natasha didn't often surprise him anymore, they knew each other so well, but there were times when she still managed to startle him. Clint had almost forgotten the significance of the day when he stumbled out of the bedroom, half asleep and grasping for coffee, to find her sipping a mugful and holding the pot hostage.

"Clint."

"What?"

"It's your brother's birthday today."

He stared at her for a long moment. How did she find that out? It didn't even matter. His brother was dead.

Natasha held his gaze long enough to make him suspicious of why she was telling him this. "There's somewhere I need to take you." She handed him the pot. "Get dressed."

It said a great deal for their relationship that he did indeed drink his coffee, get dressed, and let her drive him somewhere on Barney's birthday.

"So you hacked my file," Clint seethed into the silence in the car between them.

"Not exactly," which was as good as a you're so far off the mark your name shouldn't even be Hawkeye. But she wasn't giving up her secrets. She wouldn't really be Natasha if she did.

She drove them to an area of New York he hadn't had cause to be in for a long time then parked near a tall apartment building. He followed her up to a small unit and followed her in after she knocked and the door opened.

He stopped cold.

Barney was dead, dead, not standing here in front of him, looking awkward and hanging his head that Barton way when he realized his little brother was staring at him. Barney didn't have an apartment and, and pictures scattered over furniture of a family and an FBI badge on the kitchen table and a bow hanging on the wall.

Clint opened his mouth to curse, to demand, but Natasha broke the silence first.

"They told him you were on a vendetta you shot him." She looked at him a long moment, then turned to Barney and smiled slightly. They had talked before. It was obvious. "Happy birthday." Then she turned and made her way past Clint and out of the apartment, leaving the brothers alone.

Clint stepped forward to lean both arms on the kitchen table. "You're alive."

"Three weeks in ICU." Barney shrugged. "I got better."

After being shot by Clint's arrow in a gang bust. After he'd tried to kill Clint. Brother against brother because they'd played for opposite sides.

"I never even looked," Clint admitted.

"Well, I did try to kill you, even if it was due to bad intel." Barney gestured at the apartment. "I cleaned up, joined the FBI."

"Yeah."

Words stalled out. Neither paid attention to who moved first but they wrapped arms around each other and held on for long enough to be brothers again.

They talked, caught up, and Natasha stood watch outside the door, pleased at the length of time without the sounds of angry voices. It hadn't taken her long to put together the pieces after she ran across Barney at the FBI, not knowing everything she knew about Clint. How many Bartons played with a bow and arrow on a job?

It was Barney's birthday, but it was her gift to Clint.

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