Disclaimer: I do not own the Avengers or any of the characters affiliated with them. If I did, there would totally be a Hawkeye/Black Widow movie in the works.

Author's Note: While I embrace constructive criticism remember this old saying if you choose to leave a review "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"

Hi there! It's been a LONG time, I know. I had some serious stuff go down in my personal life lately – if you're interested, go see the note on my profile page as I don't want to get into it here. This little oneshot was inspired by a post a reader tagged me in on tumblr (if you're interested in following me there, it's a VPU blog under the username aggie2011whoop). Follow this link to see it:

aggie2011whoop dot tumblr dot com/ post/131532132177/aggie2011whoop-amandadubs-edit-credit-to-kc

But my reason for posting this is two-fold. It's both to assure you that I'm still here and I'm still writing. I've just been off my game from that aforementioned personal stuff. "The Untold Stories" is nearing completion, and being able to write this little ficlet has proven to me that I'm ready to get back into it.

Second, my story "What No One Else Sees" is entered in a fanfiction contest that ends Wendsday (10/21) at midnight pacific time. I NEED votes. You guys know me. I don't ask for this type of thing like ever. But I'm asking now. Please go to

inkitt dot com / stories / 33755

and vote for WNOES! It's in second place! But the #1 story has a pretty solid lead. I'm counting on you guys! It only takes a second. You create an account with facebook, twitter, or email (or all three ;) ) and click the heart. Easy-peasy and it would mean A LOT to me to win this. I need a win in life right now, lol. And if you want to get your family and friends to vote too, that'd be totally awesome. If you already voted, vote again with a different email if you have more than one! I could use all the help I can get!

Thanks in advance! Consider this oneshot a form of bribery ;)

Now enjoy!

There is nothing so uncertain as a sure thing.
Scotty Bowman

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Awww, c'mon! Did you leave your glasses at home? Is that what happened? Cuz the only way in hell that bastard was safe is if you're goddamned blind!" Clint angrily flicked some popcorn at the TV screen and sat back in his seat with a huff. A snicker off to his left had him turning his glare on Todd Bryan. "Shut up," Clint snapped, tossing a piece of popcorn at his friend.

Bryan held up his hands in surrender, but kept chuckling.

"You can't honestly tell me that you believe he was safe?" Clint demanded with an angry gesture at the TV.

"Oh hell no, but I'm not gonna complain about it when it works out against the Yankees," Bryan replied with a laugh.

Clint rolled his eyes and huffed in annoyance.

"Whatever, my boys will still pull it out."

Bryan outright laughed now.

"You really think so? Checked the scoreboard lately?" the trainer taunted.

Clint chewed his lip and glanced at the score on the screen. The Yankees were down three runs at the bottom of the seventh. It was doable, as long as their fielding was good and the batters were on.

"They're just going for the more dramatic victory," he stated confidently. "They got this."

"Oh, the arrogant confidence you have in the Yankees is almost pathetic, man," Bryan joked with a grin. Then his grin turned to a smirk. "If you're so confident, how about we make things more interesting?"

Clint arched an eyebrow and fixed Bryan with a skeptical look.

"You wanna make a bet?"

Bryan nodded once.

"Stakes?" Clint asked curiously.

The trainer shrugged.

"Name yours and I'll name mine."

Clint narrowed his eyes. He had unending faith in the Yankees. He was confident they could pull it together for the win. The opportunity to profit a little off that impending victory was impossible to pass up.

"Two uninterrupted hours at the parkour course for me and Nat during normal hours – not the ass-crack of dawn, after dark, or in crappy weather."

Bryan thought for a moment.

"I can shift some things in the parkour schedule and make that happen, if your boys win," the older agent agreed.

Clint smirked. The parkour course was a popular training area. Getting time on it without other agents meant going out before dawn, after dark, or when it was raining or worse. Clint would know, he'd been out on the course during all of those situations. He'd even broken his arm once running the course in the rain.

He eyed the smirk on Bryan's face warily. The trainer looked way too confident and cheerful for his liking.

"And if they don't win?" he asked slowly.

Clint's eyes narrowed when Bryan's smirk just grew.

"I just want it on the record that I'm not welshing, but the Yankees were robbed and that should make this whole bet void."

"A loss is a loss, kid." Bryan grinned at him. "Now go on, the clock starts when you step out the door."

Clint straightened his shoulders and shifted his hand on his bow.

"Right," he muttered lowly, eyeing the closed door that would lead him outside.

Bryan smirked and pushed the door open, holding it out of the way.

"After you, kid."

Clint cleared his throat and smirked. Bryan, he was sure, had aimed to embarrass him with this bet, but Clint wasn't easily embarrassed. Nat had told him on more than one occasion that he had no shame.

But, as he strode across the training yard to the outdoor shooting range wearing nothing but a pair of tight-fitting black briefs, his quiver, and his shooting guards, it took all of his self-control to keep his smirk in place and his posture straight.

It wasn't the modesty that bothered him. Hell, after growing up in a traveling circus, modesty was a privilege he'd long ago learned to live without.

It was the scars. Not the ones gained in his long tenure at SHIELD, but the older ones. The ones that painted his back and told a clear story without him ever uttering a word.

He'd never hidden the scars Phillip Jacobs had left on his skin. He'd chosen, long ago, to own the marks. To accept them as part of him so that they – and Jacobs – didn't have a hold on him. It had been Brit that had helped him do that, that had helped him accept that the scars stood for something other than pain and fear. They stood for strength. They were evidence of survival. They were a token from the day he'd decided to run away and never look back.

But just because he'd never hidden them didn't mean he flaunted them. He didn't tend to waltz around shirtless because to do so would invite stares and no doubt speculation. He didn't need anyone speculating and he sure as hell didn't need or want anybody asking.

So as he arrived at the outdoor range and felt stares land on him from all sides, he was keenly conscious of those scars on his back.

Own it.

He firmly repeated the mantra to himself and then forced himself to relax. He rolled his shoulders, reached back for an arrow and looked down range at the target.

After that, it was easy to forget the stares. Because just like it always did when he had a bow in his hand and a target down range, the rest of the world faded away.

Todd watched with crossed arms and a grin as Barton fired arrow after arrow, seemingly unconcerned about the numerous sets of eyes pinned on him.

"What the hell?"

Todd glanced over at Dan Wilson as the doctor came to stand next to him.

"When agents came in chattering about Barton shooting in nothing but his underwear, I was sure they were delusional or concussed or both."

Todd just grinned wider.

"Care to tell me what the hell is going on and why you're grinning like the cat that ate the proverbial canary?" Dan eyed him, then Barton, then him again. Todd saw the exact moment Dan put it together. "God! You're responsible for this, aren't you?"

"Barton lost a bet."

Dan rolled his eyes and huffed a laugh.

"Lost a bet, huh? Tell me he's at least wearing sunscreen?"

Todd shrugged. He hadn't thought about that but now that Dan brought it up, he hoped the kid had possessed the forethought to protect his skin for the duration of his shooting session.

They stood in silence watching Barton fire his bow and watching agents flit to and fro around him, whispering and staring.

"You know, if your aim was to embarrass him, you should know that Barton has no shame. He once strolled through the infirmary with the back of his hospital gown wide open and his ass hanging out the back. I started giving him scrubs after that," Dan told him with a chuckle.

Todd snorted.

"That doesn't surprise me in the least. Kid's never had a lick of modesty, not since day damn one of training."

Dan eyed him.

"So what then? If not to embarrass him, why the skin show?"

Todd gestured widely at the entire area.

"For the ripple effect. I was betting on it being entertaining as hell and it hasn't disappointed."

He saw Dan look around, realize that it was entertaining to watch the other agents flitter around in a flustered tizzy. Nobody dared approach the Hawkeye and give him shit. So they all just stared. The female agents with a certain lust in their eyes and the male agents with something more like annoyance.

Dan elbowed him suddenly.

"And the main event is about to begin."

Todd followed Dan's gaze and smiled.

He watched Maria Hill march across the training field, angling straight for Barton.

"This oughta be good," Todd muttered gleefully.

Clint had one arrow left when Maria Hill approached him from the right.

"Agent Barton."

He turned to face her with as innocent a look as he could manage.

"Agent Hill, what can I do for you?"

She wasn't fazed.

"What the hell are you doing?"

He looked around in feigned confusion and then tossed her a condescending look.

"I'm practicing. Gotta stay sharp."

She stared at him with a completely unaffected expression – though Clint noticed she was keeping her eyes firmly pinned on his face.

"And is there a reason you're practicing naked?"

Clint looked down at himself in mock shock.

"Holy shit, look at that. I knew I forgot something."

She rolled her eyes.

"Besides," Clint went on, "naked implies complete lack of clothing. I am not naked," he leaned closer and finished in a stage whisper, "though wouldn't that be embarrassing?"

She blew out an annoyed breath, checked her straying gaze and glared at him.

"You need to put clothes on. There have been complaints."

"Let me guess, all the complaints were from male agents?" He smirked. "Some guys just can't handle their own jealousy."

The annoyed look on her face confirmed his conjecture.

"Fine," he sighed. "Show me in the rule book where it says I can't practice like this and I'll go get dressed."

She glared.

"Hell, show me where it says anything about attire at the range and I'll get dressed."

"Barton, you and I both know you have a photographic memory. So we also both know the rule book doesn't say anything about attire at the range."

Clint tutted mockingly.

"Quite the oversight," he teased.

"One I'm personally going to make sure is rectified. Immediately."

Clint nodded mockingly.

"You do that. But until then, I'd like to get back to my target practice."

She made an annoyed noise.

"Fine. But when you end up with a sunburn, SHIELD's infirmary will not treat you. Products of your own stupidity are on your own dime."

Clint shrugged dismissively.

"Sunburn?" he scoffed. "You kidding? I've never burned a day in my life, but I'm definitely gonna have a killer tan after this."

He turned back to face his target and nocked his final arrow, ignoring the rising heat in her glare.

"Aren't you worried about what Romanoff will think when she gets back?" she tried, an obvious level of frustration in her voice.

Clint laughed.

"She'll think it's hilarious." He hoped. She tended to have a pretty good sense of humor...in private at least.

"And Phil?"

Clint's grin turned a little chagrined.

"He won't be as amused, but after a lecture on propriety I'm sure he'll let it go."

She threw up her hands and turned on her heel, practically stomping back across the training field.

Clint drew back his last arrow and fired.

"I gotta say," Natasha grinned as she looked at the photo that had been circulating around base for the past week, "you should do your target practice like this more often."

Clint laughed.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

She smiled silkily and looked back at the photo.

"As long as the audience isn't quite so wide next time," she added.

Clint grinned. She rarely showed her possessive, jealous side, but he found it endearing.

"Has Phil let you off the hook yet?" she changed the subject.

Clint nodded as he carefully waxed his bowstring.

"Once I told him it was all Bryan's fault, he redirected his irritation – or at least evenly distributed it. Another week of extra maneuvers before morning training and I'm sure he'll let it go."

"You know what I think?" Natasha set the photo aside and crawled off the bed, walking towards him with swaying hips.

Clint arched an eyebrow and let her take his bow and set it aside.

"What do you think?" he asked as she pushed him back in his chair and straddled his lap.

"I think, from now on, any bets that involve you taking your clothes off, should come from me."

Clint smirked.

"I don't need to lose a bet to you to be convinced to take my clothes off."

That comment had her smiling and leaning in to kiss him. But just before their lips met she paused and whispered one last comment.

"And next time? Don't take the bet unless it's a sure thing."

She cut off his immediate and fervent protest – that a bet on the Yankees was always a sure thing – with her mouth. It took less than three seconds of her lips on his for him to forget about the Yankees, the bet, and everything else.


Believe it or not, the Yankees did lose to the Toronto Blue Jays that day :D

I hope you enjoyed this brief, but fun little oneshot. And please, please go vote. The contest ends TOMORROW at midnight.