Moving Day

by Tenshi

Three months ago, if you had asked Sam Wilson about his plans for the near future, the most ambitious option would probably have been switching up his weight routine to include more kettlebells. Accepting Tony Stark's personal invitation to move to New York would not even have been a glimmer in the very dim distance. And yet here he was, standing outside the gleaming doors of Stark Tower with his duffel over his shoulder and butterflies in his stomach. Sam had almost--almost--gotten used to being friends with Captain America. But the idea of being roommates with him and Iron Man and whoever else the hell was downright nerve-wracking. At least, it was right now. Back when Cap first called him up it had seemed like the best thing ever.

This is your MO, Sam, he told himself. You never did know when to shut your face. It's always "Sure, I'll join the military" or "Experimental top secret jet pack program, sounds awesome" or "Captain America needs my help to take down three helicarriers, obliterate SHIELD, and bring back his brainwashed best friend who's currently a Hydra assassin with a big metal arm, why not?" Sam sighed at his reflection in the shiny gold doors of Stark Tower. Might as well add "Joining the Avengers" to that list, he thought, and reached out to the little intercom button to announce his arrival.

The doors, however, were smarter than the average entranceway, and as soon as Sam's fingers got within a foot of them they hissed open in welcome. Sam eased through them with a suspicious glance from behind his sunglasses. The lobby of Stark Tower was posh, imposing, and dominated by a central fountain. Steve's instructions said to take the elevator on the back side of the fountain, but there wasn't one. Only a smooth marble wall, and the vigorous splashing of the artificial cascade.

"Uh," Sam said, feeling a little ridiculous. "Hi?"

The back of the fountain slid to the side, revealing a glass elevator nestled in the marble.

Good afternoon, Mr. Wilson, the elevator said, in a brisk, clipped British accent. Or would you prefer to be called Falcon, which I see is listed as your official code name?

"Just Sam's... fine." Sam stuck his head in the elevator. It was empty. "...Who're you?"

I am Jarvis, and I oversee Mr. Stark's affairs. Your arrival is expected, Mr. Sam. If you will please place the rest of yourself in the elevator, we will get underway.

Chagrined at being chastised by a talking elevator, Sam did as he was told, and then the bottom dropped out of his stomach as the elevator shot upwards at alarming speed. While it zinged up through the fountain's cascade and along a transparent shaft, Jarvis prattled at Sam with weather reports and traffic updates.

...and the block on the Queensboro bridge is finally clear. Current Avengers Status: Mr. Stark, Captain Rogers, and Sergeant Barnes are due back within the hour. Dr. Banner, Agent Romanov, and the Prince of Asgard have not yet reported in for initial assembly.

"Wait," Sam said, "What? Cap and Sarge aren't here?"

Mr. Stark informs me they were unexpectedly delayed downtown. Something about cronuts, I believe.

"So I'm on my own?"

Not entirely. Currently, Agent Barton is the only other Avenger in Stark Tower. He has been informed of your arrival.

Sam couldn't help it, there was a little flutter of excitement in response to the way Jarvis said only other Avenger. Meaning another one, besides Sam himself. The elevator had stopped, but Sam didn't notice. "So, which one's Agent Barton?"

The doors dinged open.

"I am."

Sam hoped his sunglasses were enough to cover his startled expression. It wasn't the incredibly swanky penthouse suite of Stark Tower, with its breathtaking view of the city skyline. It wasn't even the fact that someone was standing right in front of the open elevator doors, blocking a slice of that view as he answered Sam's question. It was the immediate impression of a compact, powerful frame, of sandy hair and a wry smile. It was the fact that for half a second, Sam thought Riley was there waiting for him.

It had been a long time since that had happened. As days turned into months and then years, the sharp pain of loss had turned into a dull ache. Sam no longer saw his dead friend's face in a crowd of strangers, out of the corner of his eye in the subway, or flickering by in traffic.

Agent Barton, to his credit, took Sam's discomfort in stride, and the firm grip of his hand was enough to jolt Sam back to the present.

"But you can call me Clint, or Hawkeye, or whatever," Clint said. "Not everybody's as formal as Jarvis. And you must be Sam! C'mon in."

The illusion was gone; the physical resemblance between Riley and Clint Barton was negligible, at best. Sam managed to return Clint's handshake and get out of the elevator at the same time. "I must be," Sam said, with a ghost of his usual humor. "I hear you're the only man on deck."

"Ah," Clint waved an arm--a very impressive arm, Sam noted. "Stark said he'd have Cap and Bucky back by now, but you know how he is."

"Not really?" Sam admitted.

Clint grinned at him. "Well, you do now! Anyway, just throw your bag wherever. Get you a coffee or something?"

Now that the initial disorientation was past, Sam was getting a good eyeful of his surroundings. There was a large bar area, where Clint was rattling around inside a massive black fridge that looked capable of launching the Space Shuttle. On the other side of the penthouse was a recessed section of floor, with scattered sofas and low tables gathered around a fireplace, a good place to sit with friends and shoot the breeze or fall asleep under a magazine. (It looked like Clint had been doing this before Sam's arrival; there was a heap of cushions on one end of a sofa and a copy of Wired flopped open on the floor. Tony Stark was on the cover. Again.)

The center of the penthouse was open, nothing but sleek marble floor leading out to the windows and the balcony. The morning sun picked out thin fissures in the flooring, their intersections marking an irregular pattern over the empty space. Sam, recalling the seamless integration of the elevator into the fountain, wondered what lay just underneath the floor, waiting in patient readiness until it was called for. He only half-heard as Clint gave him an updated rundown on the contents of the fridge.

"Lessee... we got soda, tea, bout sixteen kinds of juice--think that can of OJ is Cap's, can't drink it myself, it's like battery acid... and--what the fuck is that--wheatgrass juice? Ugh, Stark, how do you drink this shit... some Clamato that looks like it's been in here since the 70's, that's Pepper's weird artisanal ginger ale, some kinda protein whatsits, and uh... Sangria." Clint scooted a few more bottles around. "If Tony was here he'd offer you a smoothie, but frankly that man's blender puts the fear of God in me."

Sam was having trouble getting the grin off his face. He might be putting an optimistic spin on things, what with the dubious wisdom of becoming a moving target for Hydra as a career choice, but he couldn't help it. This was going to be awesome. "Just water's fine with me, man."

Clint emerged from the fridge with a bottle of mineral water in his hand, and shut the door with his hip. "A man with simple needs," he said, setting it down on the bar. "I like that. How'd you get into all this, anyway?"

Sam took a swallow of water that was undoubtedly more expensive than his usual bottle of filtered DC tap. "I tried to out-jog Captain America," he said.

Clint grinned at him, and in that quick, ready smile he was like Riley, just a little bit. "Yeah well," he said, "I ran away from the circus."

Sam raised an eyebrow. "Uh. Isn't that usually the other way around?"

"Depends on the circus," Clint answered, still smiling. "C'mon. We'll take your stuff down to your room, and I'll give you the ten-cent tour."

Clint Barton was good for way more than the ten-cent tour. Sam got the feeling that Clint had been itching for someone to talk to, and for whatever reason he had decided that he and Sam were on the same level. Maybe it was the fact that neither of them were super soldiers or millionaire geniuses, just hard-working guys with a specific set of talents. Maybe it was that Clint and Sam both had the same knack for striking up conversations with strangers. Or maybe Clint was just bored. Either way, Sam was almost instantly comfortable in Agent Barton's company. It wasn't that Clint was like Riley, either--Riley had actually been the quiet one, the serious one, a guy more at home in the heat of battle than twiddling his thumbs at home. Clint, with his laid-back ease, seemed like the opposite.

At least, that's what Sam thought, until they got to the training floor.

They'd already done most everything else: the residential floor with Sam's quarters next to Bucky & Steve's, (it was more like a private apartment, really, with his own bathroom, kitchenette, and one hell of a view), the armory where Tony would store and maintain all their equipment, the main penthouse for meetings and relaxing. It was all impressive; Tony Stark had left no stop unpulled. But when the elevator doors opened on the training floor, Sam felt the full weight of the whole endeavor for the first time. This wasn't a mere gym, it was a place for superheroes to prepare for war.

"Pool to the left," Clint said, with a gesture that wasn't needed. The training room pool took up half the open space, a gleaming semicircle of illuminated water behind glass walls. "Weight room straight ahead. Boxing ring, punching bags, yadda yadda, that's all right beside it. Weird elliptical-on-steroids thing Tony uses to stay in shape to wear his suit, over there next to the bar and the bathrooms. Shooting range on the right. Running track circles around the whole perimeter, and it's half a mile once around, so--"

"Shooting range?" Sam asked.

Clint shrugged. "Well, I use it for the shooting range. It's actually a full tactical simulator with multiple programmable training routines and combat scenarios, but Stark hasn't got it all going yet."

Sam took a hard look at Clint's arms, bare and powerful in his tank-top. "What kind of guns you use?"

Something changed in Clint's smile, something imperceptible that made it incredibly dangerous. He put a hand to the palm-lock on the simulator room. "Why don't you step right up," he said, with the faint echo of a carnival barker in his tone, "And I'll show you."

The interior of the room was cool and dark, with a faint smell of electronics, but not gunpowder. Lights sprang up from somewhere once they entered, illuminating walls covered in metal panels. There was a row of lockers by the entrance, and that was all. No shooting booths, no barriers of ballistics plastic. Sam tipped back his nearly-empty water bottle, curiosity well and truly piqued.

I assume it's the usual, Agent Barton?

"This is an exhibition, J," Clint said, opening one of the lockers and pulling out a slim, black case. "Let's do that Budapest routine."

Very well. Budapest scenario loading.

"Hey," Sam began, as Clint slid on a pair of marksmen's glasses, "Do I need to back up, or get out of range, or--"

"No worries, Falcon," Clint said, and with a deft gesture a bow unfolded in his hand, slim and black and menacing. His wink was visible behind the purple-tinted lenses. "I ain't gonna hit'cha."

Sam had both eyebrows up now. With that case, he had expected some kind of assault rifle. But no, Clint Barton was going to take on Hydra--the most technologically advanced menace on earth--with a bow and arrows. "Seriously?" he said, in unrestrained disbelief.

Clint settled a quiver between his shoulder-blades, and tugged on a delicate-looking archer's glove. From his smirk, Sam got the feeling that Clint knew what he was thinking, and enjoyed it. "Seriously," Clint said, and strolled into the middle of the empty room. There was a static blue flicker in front of Sam, as a barrier of light divided the locker area from the main training area. Sam took a step back, anyway.

Clint rolled his shoulders around, and he sounded a little bit bored as he said, "Jarvis, engage."

Budapest Scenario engaged, Jarvis answered.

After the bow and arrows, Sam almost expected little paper targets to pop up and whirl around Clint, like some kind of fairground shooting gallery. What he didn't expect was for the whole training area to explode in a terrifying roar of unleashed artillery. In retrospect, he discovered that it hadn't really exploded, per se. It was only that every single gun in the training area--there were fifty-seven of them, he would later learn--popped out of its housing and began firing all at once. But in the heat of the moment, his first thought was only that something had gone wrong with Stark's training gizmo, Agent Barton was dead, and Sam Wilson hadn't even been an Avenger for a full goddamn day yet. It was only after Clint had taken out the first ten guns that Sam realized that this was the Budapest Scenario.

And it wasn't half so terrifying as Clint Barton.

Sam was pretty sure the guy only had a bow and some arrows with him in there. He wasn't a super-soldier, he didn't have a fancy armor suit or a bionic arm. All he had was a stick and a string and some little arrows, which he sent out--almost lazily--in every direction. Some had exploding tips, some fragmented into a dozen smaller missiles, some thumped into the walls and left segments of cabling behind. But they were still just arrows, Sam thought. The really incredible factor was Clint, up and down and all over the room, knocking down one gun turret after another. They withdrew back into the housing when they were defeated, on the walls and floor and ceiling, leaving just smoke behind. In less than two minutes, they were all gone. Clint was back down in the middle of the room, bow in hand, only a little winded for his efforts.

Budapest scenario completed, Jarvis said. And you've improved your time by one-point-twenty-three seconds.

Sam made a conscious effort to close his mouth. Shit, he thought. I am gonna have to step up my game.

"Thanks, Jarvis." Clint took off his glasses, and the protective wall of light vanished as he passed back through. "Shooting range," he said, with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Not as good as the real deal, but it's all right."

"Are you showing off in here again, Barton?"

Sam turned around. Standing in the training room doorway was Tony Stark, looking much like he did on the magazine cover, except he was wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt and an annoyed expression.

Clint made a dismissive noise over his bow case. "Much as I can on this slowass junk of yours," he answered. "I still say you've got too much lag in your targeting algorithm."

"Talk to me when you've got a master's degree in robotic engineering." Tony breezed past Clint without another bat of an eyelash, his hand out to greet Sam. "And you must be our Falcon. Should have guessed our two birds would hit it off. What do you think of the place? Pretty sweet?"

"Almost as impressive as its residents," Sam said, sharing a smile with Clint over Tony's shoulder. "Thanks for inviting me. Not sure I'm up to scratch, though."

"On the contrary, you come with the highest recommendation," Tony began, but it was Steve, coming around the doorway, who answered.

"The hell he does," Steve said, with a delighted grin for his wingman. "Mine. Bout time you got here, Sam."

Sam took Steve's hand with both of his. "Hell, I ain't gonna let you have all the fun. Where's Sarge?"

"Up in the penthouse, eating all our pastries. Unless we get up there and stop him." Tony waved them out of the sim room. "This week, Barton."

"Yeah, yeah." Clint shut his locker. "You get me my crullers?"

Tony rolled his eyes. "Yes. And Steve's jelly-filled abominations."

"There is nothing wrong with jelly-filled donuts, Tony." Steve's voice was adamant, but without hope of a clean victory. This was an old argument.

"There is everything wrong with jelly-filled donuts," Tony countered. "If you are going to fill a donut with anything, it should be Bavarian custard. Not some oozy jello by-product that's 97% comprised of red #5--"

"That's your wheatgrass juice in the fridge, right? And you think you have any credibility in what does and doesn't taste good?"

"This from the man who only drinks orange juice if it comes in a can with Donald Duck on it."

Tony and Steve made their way to the elevator, still bickering, and Sam could only shake his head as he and Clint followed them out. The lights went down behind them as Jarvis powered down the simulator.

"By the way, Sam," Clint said, putting one hand on Sam's shoulder, "Welcome to the Avengers."


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