In the grand scale of things, Jeremy Renner is not a short man. But if you watch him in the TV series 'The Unusuals', you will certainly get that impression. So here is an ode to short!Hawkeye.
This story is not compliant with any one Marvel medium in particular.
The Last Person to Get Rained On
Five Times Clint's Lack of Height Was a Good Thing, and One Time it Really Wasn't
"Present," the man in question said, raising his hand without looking up from the computer pad on the kitchen bar.
"Tony." A delicate hand with peach coloured nails spread across the screen, causing Tony Stark to pull back in protest. He found the pert little face of his Personal Aide turned CEO, Pepper Potts, leaning into his view. "Are you listening to me now? I'm actually trying to get somewhere on time today, and I could use at least your momentary attention."
Spinning around on his stool, Tony flashed her a wide grin. "Of course I'm listening. You just said um... Jarvis, help me out here."
Pepper rolled her eyes as the voice of Tony's personalised AI unit drifted through the kitchen.
"Ms. Potts was asking if you knew the whereabouts of the folder she left on the kitchen counter this morning."
"Yeah that. That's totally what I heard you say." He jumped to his feet, stumbling a little as he realised his coffee meter was seriously outweighing his real-food meter. Although he had made it out of the lab and all the way up to the kitchen, Tony had forgotten about the goal of actually eating something nutritious when he arrived.
The rich, outrageously smart, businessman/inventor was fit, handsome and relatively well-groomed, making him the frequent centre of the public's attention. But if it weren't for Pepper he would have died of malnutrition and a caffeine overdose years ago.
Scrubbing a hand through his scruffy brown hair, Tony looked around. "Uh. Maybe Captain Patriotic moved it. Where did you put the file down?"
"In the empty spot," Pepper sighed. "The only part of the counter that's not always covered in dishes."
The kitchen was rather messy, but upon closer inspection Tony could see what Pepper was talking about. A small two foot-square spot on the kitchen counter was clear of all dishes and paraphernalia.
In retrospect, Tony realised it was always clear. If someone left food or dishes in that particular area, they always found the items had disappeared within a few hours time.
"Okay. That's weird. Jarvis, cue up the security footage of the kitchen for this morning on my Pad. Also, make a note that we need some kind of dishwasher-loading robot. Nobody can figure that unit out."
"Yes sir. Noted."
Pepper leaned forward to watch as a shot of Steve Rogers and Thor eating breakfast cereal filled the screen. Tony kept the video in fast forward as the two blond and blue-eyed heroes ate their way through three cereal boxes and then began to stack their bowls and make a pathetic attempt at tidying up. They were just replacing the milk in the fridge when Clint Barton wandered onto the screen, yawning and still clad in a pair of ratty sweatpants. Thor slapped the archer on the shoulder and Steve gave him a silent greeting as he returned the cereal to the cupboard.
They watched Clint pour himself some coffee and then wander over to Pepper's abandoned file on the counter. He placed one hand on the file, fiddling with the edges absently. A couple minutes later Steve and Thor left.
"What's he doing?" Tony said.
The archer was very obviously scanning the empty room before he snatched up the file and a couple dishes and surveyed the crowded kitchen counter. With decisive movements he yanked open the unused dishwasher and dropped them inside.
"So that's where everything's going."
With the counter spot clear, Clint placed two hands lightly on the surface, and then in a blink-and-miss-it movement, he jumped straight up onto the counter. Rolling forward onto the balls of his feet, the archer pried open the top cupboard and pulled out one of the boxes of brightly colour cereal that Captain Rogers had replaced minutes earlier.
Tony let out a snort and Pepper just gaped at the tiny image of the Barton leaning there, nonchalantly eating handfuls of Fruit Loops.
"He's standing on my Italian marble countertops!"
"Pepper..." Tony waved a hand at the cupboards behind them. "It's cause he's too short to reach the top shelf."
All traces of anger vanished from her face. "Awww. It didn't occur to me that he might want a stool. Poor thing. I never use that top shelf, and Captain Rogers can reach it just fine. Why didn't you tell me it was out of his reach?"
"Don't look at me. Feathers likes to pretend he's a full inch taller than me. But who's he kidding? There's no way he's taller. Anyways, who needs cereal? If it's not bacon, what's the point of breakfast?"
But Tony did find a stool for Clint. It was perfect. He set it up after the others had gone to bed and then kicked his feet up in the adjoining living room so he could witness Barton's reaction in the morning.
Just in case, he also had Jarvis focus the security cameras right on the Barbie Playmate Toilet-training Companion Step-up Stool, tucked up against the counter right under the cereal.
As a finishing touch he plastered a label on the top of the stool.
Step right up, step right up, Hawkeye.
Tony was rather proud of the circus reference.
The main kitchen in the Avenger's tower was up on one of the highest floors, opening onto a porch that seconded as a landing pad for Iron Man and any other flying visitors. At 6:35 the sun was breaking through the floor to ceiling windows with vigour, but Tony was awoken by something different.
"Clint, don't you think you should... Wait! You aren't going to actually- Clint!"
The sound of someone else swearing hit Tony's ears. He tried to open his eyes, but didn't succeed until the rattle of the glass porch door startled him to awareness.
Tony fell off the couch in a tangle of cushions and misplaced legs.
Blinking at the sun, he realised Steve Rogers was standing in front of him, hands on his hips. The super-soldier had his Unimpressed Look on. It was the sort of look that set most red-blooded Americans crying like a scolded child. Unfortunately, Tony had become inured to that kind of look about the same time he was kicked out of his seventh elementary school.
"You were deliberately goading Barton." He didn't even bother to phrase it like a question.
Tony scrambled to right himself, so he was at least looking at Steve from the couch, and not the floor. "He was climbing onto the counter to get at the cereal, Cap! He can't even reach the shelf on his own."
Steve Rogers rolled his eyes. He did that with a frequency that really ought to have been mentioned in the history books.
"Tony, you can't press his buttons like that. Barton is a pretty solitary guy, and we're trying to make him feel more comfortable with the team, not less."
"It was a joke!" Tony protested. "We were bonding over a joke."
"He just threw the step-stool off the edge of the balcony."
Squinting at the sunlight streaming in from the open balcony, Tony frowned. "Um. That's a really long ways down. It didn't land on anyone, did it?" Pepper had him covered with liability insurance, right? Would that sort of thing cover Accidental Squashed Pedestrian?
"No." Steve shook his head, actually looking quite impressed. "We're almost ninety floors up, and he got it right in that garbage bin that sits beside the bus stop on Broadway. I mean, the wind alone at this height…"
Tony twisted around to peer behind the couch. Clint Barton was no longer anywhere in sight. "So. Did he look angry? Homicidal at all? Like he was planning on using any of his mad ninja-assassin skills?"
The guy was a freaking shadow when he wanted to be. He could walk on a bed of tambourines and probably make no noise at all.
"Well, you're still alive, aren't you?" Steve said with a shrug.
Apparently this wasn't enough of an answer for him, because Steve Rogers gave him a closer look. He was becoming much too good at catching Tony's distracted/scheming face. The taller man's eyebrows drew together. "Tony, this isn't going to become 'a thing' is it?"
The billionaire looked affronted. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Oh yeah. It was totally a thing.
Clint Barton was 'vertically challenged', and now everybody knew. It was pretty stupid, because Tony was just as short, and Bruce and Natasha fell just under that. The real issue was that while nobody expected the Black Widow to compete in height with Thor or Captain America, the rest of their team all had pretty impressive physiques on the battle field, and by comparison, Hawkeye spent most of the time looking compact, deadly, sexy as hell, and... tiny.
It wasn't anything they had outright talked about. By comparison to most teams, they had a whole herd of elephants just sitting there in the metaphorical room. One more unspoken subject wasn't going to cause a stir.
Tony was the one that really made it an issue. Because Tony was the one that started practically everything that was annoying and not helpful and generally made life more difficult.
Not long after the death of the Barbie Playmate Toilet-training Companion Step-up Stool, they found themselves all sitting around the dining room table, still staring rather dopey eyed at the remains of a surprisingly good home-made soufflé. Except Clint had gotten tired of sitting at least halfway through the meal and was now lounging on the opposite side of the table from his plate, standing beside Thor's chair and picking stray blonde hairs off the back of the god's cape. It wasn't until the archer moved directly behind the chair that something funny came to light.
Clint standing was exactly the same height as Thor sitting.
"Ha!" Tony let out a bark of laughter as the archer peered around the chair at him suspiciously. "You can't even see over the chair, can you, Legolas? You must have fudged the numbers for your SHIELD file just to meet the minimum height requirement."
"Shut up, Stark," Clint said evenly.
"I mean, I know you do most of your sniping from afar, so intimidating your enemies isn't usually an issue. But isn't it a hazard on the field? Can't get over that piece of fallen rubble, can't reach the bottom rung of the fire escape…"
Clint flipped him off.
"No, really. Do you have problems seeing the screen at the movie theatre? Should we get you a booster seat for the Quinjet-"
Steve didn't even see Clint move, but suddenly there was a fork embedded in the arm of Tony's chair, pinning his sleeve to the furniture.
"What the-!" Tony yelped. He pulled hard, but couldn't get his sleeve free. The fork was buried right up to the end of the tines. "Somebody get me loose!"
Steve had to fight hard not to sigh. "Natasha, will you do the honours?"
Glancing up at the super-soldier, the former assassin shrugged. She slipped a knife from somewhere on her person and flicked it in Stark's direction. With one slice, his sleeve dropped from his shoulder to pool around his wrist.
Tony yanked his hand close to his chest, and examined his appendage closely. "You took my arm hair right off, Barton! You were an eighth of an inch from taking the skin with it! Cap?" he appealed to the team leader.
"Clint. Please don't throw kitchen utensils at the table."
The archer said nothing, just continued to glare at Tony.
"You don't have to be so sensitive about it. We're not going to kick you off the team just because you're short."
"I'm not 'sensitive', Stark," Clint growled. "Did it ever occur to you that it might actually be useful not to tower over everyone like Thor? I can take a job in parts of Asia and not stand out in a crowd. I can fit in tight spaces others can't. People lower their guard around me because they don't think I'm dangerous. And I'm a smaller target when I'm up on the roof with no cover, guarding your freaking ass."
Tony let out a huff that was as close as anyone ever got to an apology. "Yeah. I'm sure your lack of height is super useful."
Clint's eyes narrowed.
"So!" Bruce said loudly. "I guess it's time for dessert!"
Steve jumped to his feet. "Great idea. Tony, come help me fetch the ice cream."
The billionaire followed Steve out of the room, grumbling, and that was the end of the conversation.
But not the end of the issue.
The very next day Tony hacked his way into SHIELD's unlisted phone log, found Barton's personal cell number, and helpfully started texting him short people jokes.
It turned out that Barton was right, though.
Sometimes his height was a very good thing.
1: The Retaining Wall Incident
"How are we supposed to defeat an invisible alien entity if we can't even see it?" Captain Rogers stared around the evacuated residential area, hands on his hips. The dedicated soldier was coming close to showing his frustration with what had been a several-hour long game of hide and seek with an invisible opponent.
"That's what invisible means. What did you expect?" Iron Man muttered while he busied himself with something on Jarvis' helmet display.
The Black Widow highly suspected he was playing solitaire.
"Methinks it is unwise to stand in such open grounds," Thor said. "Would not it be better to find cover from our cowardly foe in case he comes by stealth?"
SHIELD agents Barton and Romanoff were in full agreement. The two had unconsciously moved so that they were standing back to back as soon as Rogers had called for a quick regrouping. They were gathered in a parking lot. On one side a retaining wall offered them some shelter, but the Avengers were open to attack on all other sides. So far the alien hadn't attacked, as much as retreated and defended itself, but it had shown bursts of violence against civilians earlier in the day, so Barton and Romanoff were not relaxing.
Barton frowned, and pulled out his cell phone to see an incoming text.
Short people: The last to get rained on, and the first to drown.
He looked up with a snarl to see Iron Man with his mask back, laughing uproariously.
It was true that with the Hulk standing right behind him and Romanoff, the archer's lack of height was even more exaggerated than normal.
Captain Rogers tried to regain control of the situation. "According to Iron Man, the last energy pulse came from two streets down and was headed North. If we-"
A quiet fizzing noise caused all six of the Avengers to snap their attention in the direction of the retaining wall. They just had time to see a faint blue mass hovering on the grass beyond, before Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain Rogers and Thor collapsed as one.
Barton froze, eyebrows raised. "What were they looking at?" he hissed.
"I don't know. I can't see over the wall."
The archer moved closer to his partner. "I can't either. That must have been the knock-out energy pulse that Bruce was trying to explain to us."
Red hair bouncing, Romanoff nodded. "He said it would take two minutes to recharge. Think you can calculate exactly where the pulse originated from?"
Barton just smiled and nocked an arrow to his bow. "Up and over?"
The alien had no chance. If you can accurately shoot any target, you can also accurately calculate where any target was shot from. It took them less than a full minute to leap the wall, locate and then incapacitate the invisible alien. Romanoff destroyed its cloaking device and Barton made a joke about Romulans that she didn't understand and he thought was hilarious.
Then they removed Iron Man's helmet and played double solitaire for half an hour while they waited for the others wake up, and a clean-up team to arrive.
Steve, Thor, and a de-Hulked Bruce eventually woke up in the recovery position, lying on their sides with a jacket or cape folded under their heads. Tony was flat out on his face, and had to deal with a crick in his neck for the rest of the week.