Hi Everyone! :D

So...I have been going incognito again, I know. Just finished up school for the semester, so hopefully we'll get back to some real updates.

In the meantime, I watched "Wind River" with Renner and Olsen and it was just incredible. NOT for anyone who dislikes dwelling on the effects of traumatic death and suffering, etc. but it was a gorgeous movie, several purposefully nasty scenes aside, and it had a great narrative on dealing with grief and guilt and having courage in the face of oppression. If you are okay with the R rating, go see it! :D

Beta-d by the ever-excellent 'Black'VictorCachat. Go read his stuff because it's awesome!

*This may or may not become part of "Dad" eventually. I just wanted to stick it out here ahead of time because I don't know!



The ghostly voice woke her in the middle of the night, causing her to start up and stare in the direction of the frosty window. "Vision," she breathed, the warm air puffing from her lips. She threw the covers back and scrambled out of bed, crossing the distance between them in a few short steps. "You're here!" She instinctively reached for his forehead as she saw him in the moonlight for the first time.

The cabin deep in the woods of upstate New York was an emergency hideout Clint had established in case his family had needed to run somewhere. He had quite a few of them around the country, some of them on SHIELD files and some of them entirely off-grid, but this one had been closest after he and Wanda crossed the Canadian border three days ago.

Wanda wasn't sure how Vision had slipped inside without Clint noticing—then again, she wasn't sure whether Clint's sharp eyes or Vision's stealth would hold the upper hand in competition. Right now, it was just like she had walked into a dream.

Vision's lips curled into an incredulous smile as he reached for her shoulders, taking in the sight of her with awe. "You are—stunning!"

It was then, as they grasped each other in the shadows, that she noticed the change. "How-?!" she gasped, stroking his hair.

Just then the door burst open, making both of them jump as Clint came inside along with half of the snowstorm, stomping his boots and shaking ice from the hood and shoulders of his parka.

He froze when he saw the two of them standing together, before registering the most notable presence in the room and slowly striding forward with a knowing, dangerous smirk on his face.

"Dad," Wanda stepped in warningly. "I've got this."

Clint was looking increasingly like he was about to pull a harpoon out from under his coat and lodge it wherever most convenient.

"'Dad?'" Vision questioned, looking back and forth between the two of them, confused. "What do you mean by 'dad'?"

"Huh. You sure about that?" Clint folded his arms, not taking his eyes off his prey.

"Yes. Out," she pointed sternly in the direction of the door, taking his shoulder and starting to push him back the way he came.

"We WERE having a moment; I hope you don't mind," Vision stated in curt, yet polite, tones.

"I ain't afraid of him," Clint reassured Wanda, nodding up and down as he assessed the 'new and improved' Vision. "He's not even a robot anymore. I'd be happy to beat him up for you.

"Mmm-hmm. And while we're talking you can go hunt bears and serial killers and stuff."

"In fact, I would really enjoy it," Clint yelled over her shoulder as he was pushed back onto the snow-covered porch.

Wanda glared at him, fixing a wide, fake smile on her face. "Love you! Bye!"

Clint rolled his eyes and stomped off a little more loudly than was strictly necessary.

Slowly, she closed the door, almost afraid to turn around lest the man she knew to be there would suddenly be gone, like a dream.

She leaned back against the wood, wincing as she stepped on piles of snow with her bare feet, and sighed as she took in the sight of him once more.

"Sorry about that…" she started, glancing over him from head to foot. The mellow color of his skin, the hair on his head, the realness of him… "How did you do this? More importantly—why—did you do this?"

He took a step toward her, and she quickly obliged by closing the rest of the distance, laying a hand on his arm.

He ran a soft hand through her hair, stopping to caress her face with warm, flesh-and-bone fingertips. His breath was warm as it ghosted over her face. "I could not bear to be apart from you."

She leaned in and closed her eyes as he bent down to kiss her, meeting his lips with her own. She could sense the thrill of it pumping adrenaline through her heart, beating faster and faster…

"GAH!" Wanda threw back the covers a second time as she sat up in bed, heart pounding wildly. Her hair flipped around her head as she looked from side to side, noting the pitch-blackness and total absence of the moonlight that had been there a moment ago.

She swallowed to moisten her dry throat and held a hand to her head, telling herself to be calm. "It was a dream," she realized, swearing furiously in her head. "It was only a dream."

She stayed in bed a moment longer, before jumping up and running into the main room, where the window was.

She had to swallow a lump of disappointment. There was no Vision. Not only that, she must have come up with the idea of him being human. "How selfish can you get, Wanda? As if he needs to be human for you to love him."

She laid a hand over her heart, fighting with her own jumpy thoughts and emotions to settle like they had been before the dream.

But that kiss and fight with Clint had seemed so real…

She jumped nearly a foot in the air when boots stomped on the porch outside just as they had in the dream, and the door swung open to reveal Clint, just as frosty as she'd imagined but lit by a headlamp that also blinded her momentarily instead of the soft glow of the moon.

"Geez, Wanda, you scared me!" he exclaimed, slamming the door shut and stomping a few more times for good measure before unwinding his ice-encrusted scarf and throwing it over the side bench.

"Sorry." Her voice came out croakier than expected. She hugged her shoulders. The wind he'd let inside, combined with the cold leaking through the walls and floor, was more than it had been in her dream, too.

Clint gave her a glance that let her know he knew something was wrong, but took off his headlamp, parka, and two pairs of gloves before crossing the space between them. "Hey," he said, more gently this time, "you want coffee?"

"What time is it?" she shivered.

"Time for you to put on some clothes."

That made the corners of her mouth raise a little. "I think that was your worst ever attempt at a dirty joke."

"Better than nothing," his eyes twinkled anyway as he leaned over and pulled off his boots. "At least put on a jacket," he nodded in the direction of her room.

"Yes, Dad," she emphasized sassily before scampering off to do just that.

"And socks!" he called after her, after she was in the other room.

She wrinkled up her face. "Do you really think I don't know how to dress myself?" she shouted back.

"Just making sure!" he yelled back, as sounds of the coffeepot banging against the counter began to filter through the door as well.

Wanda rolled her eyes, already feeling slightly better, before pulling on two pairs of socks and hugging her jacket around her.

Back in the kitchen, Clint was standing over the pot, staring at it as though through sheer force of will he could force it to brew faster.

She smiled and leaned against the counter, and the two of them sat in silence as he waited for her to speak first.

"How do you know when you're in love with someone?" she asked finally.

Clint blinked at the coffeepot for a moment, then stared at her instead. "When you find anyone remotely attractive in this godforsaken wilderness, I recommend marrying on sight.

Wanda giggled. "What if it's a very attractive porcupine?"

"Then you make your advances with caution," Clint didn't miss a beat, still not cracking a smile as he supervised the coffee dripping.

"But how do you know?" She asked again, groaning as she leaned over the bartop. "How do you know if it's just an idea in your head or if it's true love?"

Clint got out the mugs, but checked the coffee level again and was disappointed to find his actions premature. "First of all, 'true love' is a piece of crap."

Wanda gaped at him. "What? Have you never seen Cinderella?!"

He arched an eyebrow at her. "Did you SEE who his other options were? That wasn't true love; that was self-preservation!"

She sighed. "Then how do I make a decision when my brain tells me one thing but the inside of me feels completely different?"

Clint silently poured her mug of coffee, sneaked a brief 'taste test', and handed it to her, letting her get her own cream and sugar while he continued to wait on his own.

"Love's like a donkey," was his next, valiantly poetic, expression. "I had a donkey once. It was a dumb ideal. They go wherever they want to one day and the next day they dig their heels in and refuse to go anywhere.

She shook her head, not understanding, and took a sip while he explained.

"If you do whatever your heart wants, I'll tell you what'll happen. One day, you wake up, and you want to love someone. So, you drop everything. You leave everyone else behind and do nothing but love. Then one day you wake up, and you suddenly realize, you just don't want to love them anymore. You've already given up everything else you have. Suddenly, you lose them, too. Then you've got nothing." He grinned slightly, a little wistfully, as he finally poured his own coffee. "'Course, if you never had anything to begin with, you might be better off that way."

"Are you saying I should ignore every feeling I have?" she asked, incredulously.

"Feelings aren't love," he shrugged, taking a large sip. "They're the good side of love. But there's a bad side, too. If you can't take the good with the bad, then your love life is gonna suck."

"So…" Wanda stared emptily into her mug, watching the little ripples as the liquid moved in circles, "I might—I mean…maybe this could still be a good thing?"

Clint smiled into his own coffee. "If you found out today that he was your cousin, would you still love him just as much?"

"That would be so weird," she wrinkled her eyebrows at him. Huh, Vision her cousin? It was good Clint didn't know who she was talking about, she thought with a laugh.

"What, the being related part, or the being stuck with him forever whether you want it or not part?"

"The related part," she replied defensively, smacking him lightly in the shoulder with a grin. "I guess you're right."

"Well, I am the only married man in four hundred square miles. This is the best advice you're gonna get."

"You hope you're the only one out here," she corrected, laughing.

"Yeah, I do! If someone came after us out here it would suck."

"Thanks for coffee," she smiled sweetly at him, finishing hers off with a final sip. It really was very good.

"Sleep well, kiddo," he wrapped his arm around and kissed her forehead.

Wanda held on tightly as she pressed her cheek against his jacket, inhaling the scent. It was an outdoorsy, woodsman, dad-like scent.

What would she do without him?