You were too busy twirling your engagement ring around your finger to notice that the car was approaching the venue for the banquet. You were recalling the day Nicholas had proposed, your face holding mixed emotions. There was a party at your father's country club celebrating your promotion. The Avengers themselves were invited, but they were far too busy at the time to attend. Regardless, throngs of people you had never met, or had only met once, showed up at your celebration, no doubt trying to get it in good with the Avengers. You honestly didn't even want to attend the party yourself, but you couldn't pass up dad's offer to spoil you! You stuck to him like glue throughout the entire ordeal, desperately wishing the festivities to be over before your drained energy became evident to the rest of the party go-ers. You had been sitting with your father, mother, and Nicholas, with his parents, when suddenly Nick stood up for a toast.
"I've known (y/n) for three years now, but it didn't take me that long to realize just how amazing of a person they are." Nicholas smiled down at you and gripped your hand. "I've never met anyone so smart and captivating. And that's why," Nicholas moved from his standing position to kneel before you as the auditorium shared a collective gasp, "I want to ask you, (y/n) (l/n), will you marry me?" You could hear "aww"s and exclamations of excitement from the room as Nick pulled a ring out of his pocket. Your eyes went wide as the moment sunk in and you frantically looked to the members of your table. You looked to your parents, your mother wearing her "robotic" smile as always, and your father smiling proudly, slapping Nicholas' father's back jovially. Nicholas' parents seemed ecstatic, his mother even wiping away a few tears. You had a feeling that you were the only one at the table unaware of the proposal. Your eyes made a mad dash around the crowd, seeing everyone else just as excited, albeit more surprised, as your table.
"Dear?" Nicholas' voice snapped you out of your trance and you looked back to his expecting eyes. You saw your father's face; you knew he wanted this, he adored Nicholas. But did you want this? Logically, marriage was the next step, as you and Nicholas were already living together. You had a perfect relationship on paper, you two never fought, and he was always so sweet to you. But sometimes you felt like what you two had was more of a business partnership than a romantic relationship.
Maybe that's what love is for me. Passionate love never seems to last anyways, it's stability that is prided in a marriage right? But still, shouldn't I be more excited, jumping up and down like any normal person would? Could it be that we've been "playing house" for so long that marriage doesn't seem like such a big step? Yeah, that must be it.
You had convinced yourself that it may not be what you wanted, but it was what was expected of you.
No one gets what they really want anyways.
"Why not?" you said as you smiled the biggest smile you could muster. Nicholas hugged you and the hall erupted into cheers.
Your eyes snapped up in attention as you felt the car come to a stop. You looked outside of your window to see the swarm of press being held back to create a line from your car to the double doors. Still, they were close enough to the point where you had to shield your eyes from the blinding lights of the camera flashes. Your driver came around to your side and opened the car door for you, offering his hand for you to take. You gladly accepted, uttering a silent thank you whilst flashing a tiny smile his way. Your eyes then flickered to the imposing dark wood double doors, staring at them in hopes that it would deter any reporters from asking you any questions right now. You knew that the important magazine and news journalists would be inside already, and you didn't have time to waste on these small town papers; you didn't have the energy either. You stalked your way across the red carpet that was spread out for the guests, focusing your mind on looking as unapproachable and powerful as possible. You didn't need Natasha to teach you the "murder walk," being who you where, you had plenty of time to learn that one on your own.
You let out the large sigh you had been holding in as you stepped through the doors, music and chatter flooding your ears. You threw on your best smile and looked around for any familiar faces. As your eyes roamed the room, you found that the old building had had some major renovations. The floors were replaced with a dark wood, matching the two large doors leading outside to the reporters. They had revamped the staircase, replacing the old banisters with more modern ones that matched the crystal chandeliers that hung from the ceiling, and the walls had been redecorated and painted in a way that resembled a modernized Victorian Era. There was a bar on the second floor, and you immediately knew you'd at least find Tony, if not most of the Avengers, crowded around it. You weaved your way through the crowd towards the stairway, gripping the banister tightly once you arrived, pulling yourself up with each step. Unbeknownst to you, you had your fair share of secret admirers watching your every move as you ascended the stairs, looking on in awe at your electric smile. Ninety percent of the people who looked your way you had never even met, but of them, one man, who watched every breath leave your lips, you knew very well. He would have kept his jaw open the rest of the night, if Natasha hadn't playfully shut it herself, smiling broad as Clint sent an annoyed and bashful look her way. You never saw this playful exchange though, you were too busy searching the bar's occupants for someone you'd recognize. Your smile faltered as you realized there were nothing but unfamiliar faces crowded around the bar stools.
Not even Tony's here? That's surprising. Now I'm worried that he's talking to someone he shouldn't be.
You looked around the room, trying your best to mask the worry and confusion threatening to spill over. However, they don't call Clint Barton "Hawkeye" for nothing, as he noticed your discomfort immediately, and headed your way. You were just about to give up and sit at the bar yourself, when an arm made it's way across your hips. You flinched and started to turn your head to see who it was, but before you could, the "perpetrator" leaning into your ear and whispered.
"Looking for me?" You could almost see the smug look on Clint's face at his words. You smiled warmly, relieved at the sound of a familiar voice. You lightly pulled Barton's arm off of you and turned to face him properly, his arm still in your grasp.
"Actually, I was looking for Tony, but I guess you'll do~" You sent a playful smile his way as he twisted his face in mock hurt at your words. "How did you know I was looking for someone?"
"Well you were frantically looking around the room, so that helped," he teased. In response, you dropped his arm before playfully slapping it, earning a "Hey!" and a slight chuckle from him.
"I really do need to find Tony though, would you help me?"
"Of course. Last I saw of him, he was downstairs." Clint nodded in the direction of the staircase before walking towards it, with you tailing behind him.
"And the others?" You spoke as you reached the top of the steps. Clint did a quick scan of the room before turning back to you.
"Natasha is chatting with some old SHEILD agents, Bruce is sitting with Doctor Cho at a table downstairs, Thor is with Jane, who is talking to a group of people, most likely scientists, the twins and Vision seem to be keeping to themselves, and Cap, Sam, and Rhodey are talking to what I assume to be fellow veterans."
"Good, no one's in trouble...yet." You shared a laugh with Clint, but you silently hoped they would stay out of trouble the whole night. Sometimes you felt more like a team mom than a PR head. "That still leaves Tony though, so let's go look for him downstairs." Clint nodded and you two descended the steps looking around the ballroom floor for the playboy billionaire himself. When you reached the first floor, you looked around until you found him in a secluded area under the top floor. He was sharing an intimate moment with Pepper, as they were slow dancing as seemed to be having a very private conversation. Hawkeye followed your line of sight to the couple in the back. He looked back at you to see you smiling at them warmly, almost as if you were in longing. He stepped out in front of you, breaking your trance.
"Well, now that we found him," Clint extended his hand to you, "would you care for a dance?" he said, putting on a funny "snobby" accent that made you giggle as you nodded and took his hand. You two had impeccable timing, for when you approached the dance floor, a new song had started, one you recognized immediately. You loved this song, to the point where you had it listed as your "first dance" song for your wedding.
*AN: I had "So Close" in mind for the dance scene, but you can choose any song you want!*
You looked at Clint with a bright smile on your face, which he returned with a warm enticing gaze, making your cheeks heat up. You two weren't the best of dancers, but you were sure that you were having the most fun out of all the couple on the floor.
"Well it seems like bowties aren't your only weakness!" you laughed as Hawkeye "twirled" you around.
"So I'm guessing you're not impressed by my dancing skills?" He wiggled his eyebrows at you, making you laugh harder and lean into him. After your laughing fit, you looked up from Clint's chest and straight into his eyes. You two stood completely still, just staring at one another before Clint started to lean in. And then...your cellphone went off.
"Oh!" You quickly pulled it from your pocket (If you're wearing a dress, the dress has pockets okay) and looked at the name written on the screen. "It's Nicholas, I'm going to have to take this." You answered it quickly, and stepped away from Clint and the dance floor to find a secluded, quiet area. Clint sighed and scratched the back of his head. He knew he had gotten a little too close and had almost kissed you. You had wanted to talk to you first, not force himself on you, but sometimes it was just so hard to keep his composure around you. You made him crazy! He just wished you knew. Clint followed you to your little corner, making sure to keep a safe enough distance to show he wasn't trying to eavesdrop. He watched you hang up and sigh as you put your phone away. You turned to Clint and he raised his eyebrows, obviously wanting to know what the phone call was about.
"Nicholas came back early from his business trip and was supposed to make the banquet, but traffic is so bad he'll have to miss it. He said he'll see me at home though." You smiled at Barton, using the fake smile you always pull when someone asks about Nick.
"Stop that." Clint furrowed his brows at you, his face serious. Your smile faded as you looked at him confused.
"W-What do you-"
"Stop smiling like that, I know something's wrong. I can't stand it, you pretending to be happy."
"I'm not pretending, I am happy!"
"No you're not!"
"How would you know?!?"
"Because I've been there!" Clint's outburst startled you and your anger switched back to confusion. It was silent for a while before Clint spoke up again, his voice softer this time. "When I was a kid, my father would drink...a lot. And when he drank he would beat me and my brother, and sometimes even my mom. I know what it's like to pretend like nothing's wrong, like everything's perfect. I know what a fake smile looks like, I've worn one."
"Clint I'm so sorry. I didn't know."
"It's okay, he's dead now; he died a long time ago." Clint had his arms crossed and was staring intensely at the floor. He lifted his head to look at you, his eyes holding a hint of sorrow. "So," he started, "you gonna tell me why you're pretending to be happy?" You looked away from him, not wanting to meet his eyes.
"Sure... just... I think I'm gonna need a drink first."