Phil had never been the fidgeting type. He'd been that child who could look his mother square in the eyes and swear up and down that the sky was purple, the grass was blue, and he most certainly hadn't broken that lamp, it had definitely been the dog— without even a slip of a grin or the nervous shuffle of a sock covered foot against the hardwood floor. He'd been the Private who could stare down his CO and report what had gone wrong without breaking out into a cold sweat, and later he'd been the black ops agent who could lay in wait for hours for his target to act without even a single adrenaline fuelled tremble.
His ability to remain calm and collected under stress was one of the reasons he was so good at his job. But for whatever reason, today that didn't stop him from tapping his pen against the cold wooden top of his desk or the fingers on his hand from drumming a steady rhythm along the arm of his chair. He glanced down at the paperwork in front of him before leaning back again, trying to figure out what exactly this sort of situation called for.
Therapy probably. Lots and lots of therapy. But something told him Barton wouldn't exactly be willing to 'share his feelings' and whatever else the SHIELD psychiatrists usually asked of a patient in their care. At this point it might be better to just give him a bow, a few quivers of arrows and set loose in a remote forest to let him work things out for himself. Shooting things could help.
Truth be told, Phil had seen this coming from a mile away. The day Fury had sat him down and told him the plan, he'd known that this would somehow blow up in their faces. Plans that involved lying to a person about their lives, who they were and who they'd been had a way of doing that. In their paranoia they might've made a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy out of it, but that was life sometimes wasn't it? Phil sighed as he ran a hand over his tired eyes, trying to figure out what exactly he should put in the Incident Report. He wasn't even sure how this whole thing had started. Well, he supposed that was a bit of a lie. It was more the fact that he had no idea how he'd been dragged into it and given the responsibility of overseeing the project. How to put it to paper seemed to be a looming problem, but at least he knew where to begin. Yes, he knew exactly how they'd wound up in this shit show. In fact, it had started a little something like this:
Believe it or not, not all of the security agencies within the United States had the same 'back off this is my territory. Mine.' reaction as the FBI or CIA. Not everything was a glorified pissing contest. Some actually felt the need to promote interagency cooperation and luckily (or unluckily depending on who you were asking) enough, SHEILD was one of them. Therefore, it was not out of the ordinary to find Director Fury visiting the other agencies' headquarters and talking shop for a few hours once a month in order to open communications and encourage the flow of information. After all, at the end of the day they all worked for the same side, jurisdiction be damned.
So it was a decidedly normal day when Fury had been sitting in the new Secretary of the Impossible Missions Force's office talking over a table covered in files, mugs of coffee and a plate of Danishes when things were set in motion.
"So, this one was yours?" The Director asked as he flipped through the pages of a file marked Top Secret boldly in red.
The Secretary nodded, a worn look slipping onto his face. "Bit of a botch up really."
"I wouldn't say that," Fury disagreed. "It went well enough from what we could tell over at SHIELD. I'm sure MI6 wouldn't complain either."
"Then I'll correct myself and say a bit of a butch up for us. We lost one of our best," the other man sighed, passing over a thick blue personnel file. "We've got him in a secure location and sedated at the moment. We've still got to decide what's to be done with him."
Fury opened the file of one Clint Barton and was impressed by what he found: unbelievably high scores in marksmanship, true long-term eidetic memory, top marks in hand to hand and over all fitness, as well as a wide variety of skills that ranged from singing to fencing and every reference read like the officer was restraining themselves from dotting their i's with hearts out of sheer love and admiration. There wasn't a single complaint to Barton's name nor a hint or disciplinary action.
"As far as I know, only one woman was ever said to have had a true eidetic memory, and even that was controversial," he noted as he read on. It was definitely one of the best CV's he'd ever laid eyes upon and given the number that passed over his desk on a weekly basis, that was saying something. This was the kind of man anyone would kill to have in their arsenal.
"Brandt is indeed one of a kind," the Secretary smiled, eyes glassy as he picked up his coffee. "A very well kept secret."
"Brandt?" Fury asked, double checking the file to make sure he hadn't misread it. "Says here his name is Barton."
"There's a note somewhere in there about it. Changed it; my predecessor must have known why. Sentimental reasons I'm sure. Goes by William Brandt now. Or well, he did," he corrected himself. "But it was never actually legally done and therefore we're required to file him under Barton instead of Brandt."
"He must've been a great agent. His record is exemplary," Fury said glancing from one page to the next. "Even with this screw up in Croatia."
"He still is a great agent," the Secretary growled, looking frustrated beyond anything else as he fingered the handle of his mug but ignored the Danish he'd set aside to eat earlier. "Sadly, that's not what we need. We have dozens of 'great agents', what we needed was a great analyst. And that's exactly what we've lost. The head trauma was...extensive to say the least."
"How bad?" Fury asked, tossing the file aside as he leaned back in his seat.
"Retrograde Amnesia," The Secretary spat, as if the words offended his senses. "It's like something out of those dramas my wife watches," he added flippantly. "Remembers his real name, his brother, his childhood, enlisting in the army, training. His reflexes are still topnotch and he can shoot like goddamn Robin Hood. But anything within the span of his working for us is gone. All the information we needed from him is gone," the Secretary said, his fingers tapping against the glass tabletop as he stared out of the nearest window. "And there are already hints of the trauma having affected his impulse control and personality."
Both things that could be dealt with through proper handling and therapy if one was willing to spare the time, Fury noted. But then again, the IMF had always been impractical at the best of times.
"Is a full recovery possible?"
"Doctors say he'll gain some of the memories back, but more along the lines of his address, maybe his new name, his friends' names and such. Nothing useful."
"What about his ability to retain memories," Fury asked, an idea beginning to nig at the back of his mind.
"One damn person in the entire world with an eidetic memory, and he loses because of a blow to the head!" the Secretary said, a laugh of disbelief slipping out before he could choke it down. "A resource like that should've never been allowed out in the field."
"Surely his other skills would more than make up for—
"We have highly skilled agents Director Fury. Some of the best in the world. At this point, he's superfluous, and with the mental complications he'll become a liability more than anything else," the man sighed and tiredly ran a hand over his chin. "Frankly, I don't know what to do with him. It's all such a bloody waste."
Fury frowned for a moment before a grin cracked across his face and the Secretary at least had the decency to look unsettled, because a grin from Fury usually promised pain or something equally unpleasant. But, luckily enough for him, no one could say that Fury didn't know how to take advantage of a situation when it was presented to him.
"Well, if you've got no use for him," the Director trailed off, the grin still firmly in place as he stood. He turned to the suit clad agents that were standing guard by the door.
"Wrap him up Gentlemen. I'll take him."
Titles are from Mumford & Sons' song The Cave. I don't own either Avengers or MI:4.