Disclaimer: Nothing is mine to own save for the order in which the words flow out during the journey from mind to desktop keyboard.
Chapter One: Clandestine Meeting
6:43 am Tuesday, September 23
Empty warehouse temporarily off SHIELD radar, New York City, New York
Clint Barton silently made his way to the previously agreed upon location, north facing side of an abandoned warehouse on the edge of the industrial district. He recognized the area, even before he scouted out the location from a distance before moving in to location, never one to go in blind. The Avengers had taken out an AIM lab only about two blocks east of here last month. And a Hydra weapons shipment three blocks south three months before that. And an anonymous terrorist cell HQ a block west four months before that.
As evidenced above, this area was well known for its popularity with the city's far less than elite and outstanding.
Which meant this clandestine meeting couldn't mean anything good, at least in Clint's opinion. He swept his glance behind him and received the slightest of nods from his red-headed shadow to confirm that they were not being followed, and knew that she probably shared the same opinion.
Clint's arm brushed against the holster on his belt, but his fingers itched for his bow, still sitting safely in his room in Avengers Tower. He and Tony were still working on a less bulky version of his bow as well as thinking up new arrow designs, in between Tony's other projects, most of which consisted of better weapons and armor for the team, and Clint's missions for SHIELD, of which he had been steadily decreasing the amount of since becoming a full time Avenger just over a year ago.
But his handgun would have to do for now. Though, if things went well, he hopefully wouldn't have to use it. Things did so rarely go well for him, though.
Which is why he waited a full thirty seven seconds after the designated time of 0645, just in case, before turning the corner to the north facing side of the warehouse.
No bombs or bullets flew at him. So far, so good.
Glancing around once more, he approached the tall dark form wearing a long black leather trench coat, the only soul seen for miles in this empty area.
"Barton," said the form in a deep, level tone, not looking at the man. "I assume Romanoff is here as well."
"Director Fury," Clint greeted back. "You would assume correct. What is this about?"
Nick Fury, not one much for small talk, handed Clint a file folder marked 'Top Secret', and got straight to the point. "Seems your new pal Stark finally proved himself to be more nuisance than asset in the eyes of some high ranking individuals."
Clint flipped open the folder. The first page was Tony's personal information, from height and weight all the way down to net worth and social security number. A picture of Tony smirked up at him from its paperclipped position on the corner of the page. The second page was a list of known associates. Clint had seen it all before when had first become an Avenger, though now his and the other four members' names were on the list as well.
The next two pages were of Tony's movements in the last week all the way up to about 3 this morning, complete with pictures, which meant that Tony was under surveillance. The names of each of the Avengers, Pepper Potts, Col. Rhodes, whom Clint had met a few times and knew to be Tony's best friend outside of the Avengers, and a few other names popped up in the report. Turning the page, he found five pages of Tony's recent financial activity, but none of it answered his biggest question. "How's that, Sir?"
"I've not been privy to all the details," Fury responded, sounding more than bitter about that fact. He continued. "The Council is sanctioning a hit on Stark."
That made the unflappable, specially trained secret agent pause a moment. He knew that Stark and the Council never really saw eye to eye, especially after the whole trying to nuke Manhattan fiasco during the Chitari invasion, but Tony had always managed to stay well within the parameters of 'asset', a.k.a. too important to lose no matter how annoying he is, even before the Avengers. What could have happened to suddenly move him to the top of the Council's shit list?
"The decision was made late last night. They asked for my best to take this. I told them my best wouldn't do it, but they disagree. They're going to be requesting your presence at 1400 hours today."
Ah, so not only was a member of the Avengers being targeted, but another member of the Avengers was the intended assassin as well. A poetically ironic fate for their Avengers Initiative.
"Who knows. But they've obviously weighed the pros and cons and, apparently, Stark lost. They want him taken out of play by the end of the week, specifically before Wednesday of next week. They have something big planned and want him out of the way to keep him from interfering somehow. They also plan on seizing all patents, blueprints, and prototypes of the Iron Man, repulsor, and arc reactor technologies they can find to make up their losses."
Fury was being blunt and to the point, laying down all the facts and giving Clint all the info he needed to know. But there were gaps, too much missing information and explanations, and Clint couldn't tell if Fury was withholding intelligence from him, or if the man was just as in the dark as to the inner workings of this decision as he was. "Why are you telling me all this?"
"Tony Stark and the Avengers are the only people I know to actively defy the Council on an every other day basis simply by doing what you do." Fury looked straight at Clint, eyes unreadable. "I still want the Avengers around, and that won't happen if Stark is out of the picture." His single eye went back to studying the growing shadows of the warehouse in the gathering early morning light. "For some reason beyond my comprehension, you Avengers have grown close to Stark in the year you all have been together," he said with the slightest of smirks.
Clint remained silent, drinking in all that he had been told.
Fury's smirk turned into a frown as he continued. "I hope you understand that my hands are tied. My protests have been overruled and I've been given direct orders to stay away from this. This is out of my hands."
Clint was silent for another moment, calculating and weighing his options before responding, "Only if you understand what it is I have to do, sir."
"Out of my hands," Fury repeated, and, business concluded, he turned away and began walking back the way he had come. "And into yours. Good luck, Agent."
"Thank you, Director," Clint replied before the man disappeared from sight down a side street.
Well, he was right about clandestine meetings in crooked neighborhoods baring bad news.
Clint turned and made his own way back. He made it all of two warehouses away before his partner seemingly solidified from the shadows.
"Did you catch all that?" he asked unnecessarily, because she is the Black Widow, of course she heard it all. But he was still reeling slightly from the news and didn't quite know what to say. But he always trusted her judgment in difficult situations, so he asked, "What do we do?"
"We have to tell them," she answered, and he knew she meant the other Avengers. Anyone else looking at her would be fooled by her calm and cool, almost emotionless appearance, but knowing her as well as he did, he could clearly see the turmoil rolling in her eyes. She was just as close as he was to the other members of their team, and had only just managed to earn her way back into Tony's good graces a few months ago after the 'Natalie Rushman' betrayal.
He nodded once and pulled his Starkphone from his pockets, quickly dialing speed dial number two (number one was Natasha). Steve picked up his phone on the second ring.
"Cap? Round up the troops for a team meeting; something big's come up. Tasha and I will be there in ten."
Clint hung up and tucked his phone away, and with a single nod from Natasha, the two took their leave back to the tower that had become their home, despite the forces seeking to rip them from it. They dissolved into the shadows as the light of the rising sun just managed to peak over the warehouse rooftops onto the deserted pavement below, lighting the previously dark and dreary meeting place with brilliant orange tinged autumn light.
To be continued. . .
Author's Note: So what do you think, dear readers? Worth continuing? Or perhaps this tiny taste is not enough to judge it on? My first go at writing for Avengers, and I do plan on finishing at least the second chapter before deciding if this story should indeed be continued, or left in the depressing bowels of both the FFdotnet archives as well as that of my desktop's memory to waste away and collect dust where no one will find it. . .
Anyways, please tell me what you think, if you feel so inclined. Thanks for reading! Love you guys! Take care and God bless!