A/N: This was done in answer to a challenge on The Beta Branch (see my profile for more info on that) in which Red Tigress said we should try to branch out more and write more than just the usual Clint and Tony fics that we love so much. In response to that, I decided to tackle them all just a tiny bit, get inside their heads a little. Sorry, it's not the happiest of fics. Sometimes I just do these "having a bad day" sort of deals.
For Clint's, I know they used the Ultimates version in the movie, but since Ultimates Clint has no backstory from before Fury picked him up in prison, I was basing his little piece on the history he was given in the original Avengers comics. Hope that's okay!
Also, if you haven't seen it yet, go check out 'Bungle in the Jungle' which was posted by Victoria LeRoux. That was a three-way story between her, Red, and myself, and has lots of humor, Tony & Clint banter, some angst, and like the most whump ever. Good times. :)
Cold, heartless bitch. She couldn't count the number of times she'd heard other people say it. Triple that and she might get close to the times she knew people were thinking it. It was always so clear in the disapproval, disdain, and distrust in their eyes. Not that she cared. Not really. The times that she was pretending, playing at being the sweet, pretty little thing that everybody loved and everybody wanted as a friend, she hated that. She hated the way they'd wait for her to catch up, the way they'd cluster at her table at lunch, the way they'd giggle and share secret gossip, the way they'd wink and flirt. She hated that it wasn't her they were talking to, befriending, trusting. They fell in love with a persona time and time again, a made up figment of the girl she maybe could've been if her life had taken a path different than the one she now walked. She hated that on some deep level it made her feel lonely, jealous of that other girl; and the more times she felt that way, the more cold and heartless she became. She didn't need that kind of love, that kind of companionship, that kind of trust. She didn't need it from the nameless faces she fooled undercover, and she didn't need it from her current teammates who, for some reason, kept trying to pull her into the fray. She didn't care what they thought about her. Not really.
A walking disaster. He was a hazard, an accident waiting to happen, one wrong comment away from being a deadly weapon. Locked away inside his room, inside his head, it was for the best. To be loved, to be respected, to simply be touched – he couldn't risk it. There couldn't be love without pain, there couldn't be respect when it was too tainted by fear, and even a light touch at the wrong time could lead to disaster. One thing he could latch onto, would latch onto, was that he was valued; not as a man, but as a tool. They'd use him when he was needed, keep the world safe for another day…then he'd hide himself just to keep the world safe one day further. Just a weapon. He was just a weapon who happened to fall into the right hands at the right time. To be anything else was an impossibility, to be valued as a man was a lost hope. He could never get close, never put the ones he loved in danger, including them, the ones that tried to call him "friend." He'd stand outside the circle and look in from time to time, living off their smiles and immature banter, watching them piss each other off without the threat of mortal danger. He'd watch for just a little bit, pretend for just a little bit, before retreating to his empty room with its empty silence, quietly keeping humanity safe from the likes of him. It was better that way.
A lost little boy. Caught in a strange time with strange people and strange customs, he couldn't fit in. It was the same place, the same language, the same basic dangers, the same basic desires, yet at the same time, nothing was the same. He was a foreigner in an exotic land, a baby bird leaving its nest for the first time, a minnow washed out into the vast ocean. They had to explain things to him, things they regarded as simple, everyday, thoughtless items and ideas, making him feel like a slow child who was far too old to be just now learning the alphabet. He was smart – was smart - but now with each question he asked, he was made to feel more the fool. It didn't take long before he just stopped asking. It couldn't be that hard. Observe, listen, experiment, learn. It wouldn't matter if he burned his hand a few times before he got it, fell off the ladder enough times to break an ankle, maybe stepped into the path of an oncoming train or two. That kind of physical pain was worth it. The hurt that came with the disbelieving stares, the judgmental thoughts, the impatient sighs – that kind of hurt cut him deeper. The simple fact that they refused to even try to understand - that stung the worst. But then they asked him to lead. And then he was terrified. He wasn't stupid, but was he smart enough in this world to be responsible for them? Their lives were in his hands, and half the time he didn't even know what his hands were touching. Not that they'd know that. He couldn't let them see his doubt, read his weakness, feel his insecurity. They needed to know he wouldn't falter, so he'd have to learn more, learn faster, make himself fit in and be functional in this strange time. Sleep was overrated, anyway.
Cocky little shit. It was true. It had to be true. He needed to sound sure of himself, needed everyone to know that he knew he was important. With only one real skill to offer, one thing that kept him part of the team, revealing any sort of doubt that he wasn't the best at what he did could send him out the door. Or worse. It was always worse. Nobody ever simply asked him to leave when he was no longer wanted. That'd be too painless. Not that he wasn't used to it. Being a little shit kept people slightly at a distance. It annoyed them, pushed them away, kept him safe from letting them get too damn close. That'd make it easier if he faltered one day, if they found out he wasn't nearly as valuable as he made himself out to be. Then they could do their worst to him and he'd simply set out on his own again, just like always, licking his wounds without feeling the goddamn heartache that came with knowing he wasn't good enough for the ones he thought held him dear. He just couldn't do it again, couldn't be beaten down and left for dead by the people who were supposed to be his family, waking up in some hospital or some ditch not feeling the pain of his wounds, but feeling the pain of his chest being ripped open and left hollow. And so he was cocky, and he was a little shit, and it kept them all away right from the start. It wasn't abandonment he feared. He could handle it if one day he woke up to find the world vacant of his allies. It was complete and utter betrayal that had him on edge, to find that once his usefulness was over they would try to dispose of him completely, feeling him unworthy of something as simple as just being allowed to live. He couldn't face that again. Not ever.
A man on a pedestal. Or a god. There was once a time when he valued that, grinned at the way the humans feared him, worshiped him, made altars and statues in his honor, prayed to him in hopes of having their wishes granted, their deepest desires realized, their fears washed away. He didn't want that anymore. In truth, he admired the humans, watched them struggle and love and hope and survive without the need of special powers or the convenience of a certain level of near immortality. He was a prince trying his best to fit in amongst paupers, wanting to feel that sense of strength that could only come from having to truly fight for everything one cherished. As much as he tried to fit in, though, to mask himself and try to live like one of them, to experience the universe from their point of view, they always knew. They could feel it, shied away from it, despised it, envied it, pushed him away with the bitter knowledge that he represented everything they could never have and everything they could never be. A prince sitting on his golden throne in his castle where he belonged could be adored from afar if he played the cards right, but down in the mud beside his people, he was the outcast, the one that made them feel not worthy, afraid of being judged, seen as lesser beings. Even with his new "friends," other people that held power, that stood on their own pedestals, he felt the outsider. They could at least make a connection with the people of the Earth, not like him. He was just biding his time until he was finished there, waiting to be sent back to his own home planet where he belonged. Back to his solitary golden throne.
Selfish, egotistical asshole. He shrugged it off. People always hated those with wealth and power. It was just the way of things. Of course, he probably didn't have to make it easier to hate him, but he couldn't really help it. Really, it wasn't his fault he grew up with everything he ever wanted, with the smarts to build what he wanted if the rest of the world couldn't provide it for him. It wasn't his fault he had been captured by psychos and turned into something even better than he was before, better than the average man by even more than just being a wealthy genius already made him. It wasn't his fault he didn't know how to properly interact with the lesser folks, didn't know how to really show affection or gratitude. It's not like anybody ever bothered to show him how. His best friends were robots when he was growing up, for christ's sake. They couldn't teach him about love or family or friendship, how to be subtle when it was necessary, how to talk to people without hurting their feelings, when to push and when to hold back. He couldn't learn how to socialize like a proper human being because he didn't live with proper human beings. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't his fault his father couldn't teach him because the man didn't know any better, himself. It wasn't his fault he didn't know how to not be who he was raised to be. It wasn't his fault that he didn't really give a shit if that pissed off everyone he worked with. It was their fault. If they ever stopped to look at him, to try to understand why he was the way he was, they'd get it. It was on them, because it wasn't his fault he didn't know how to open up, to let them see. It was out of his hands. That was their job. If they even wanted it.