so to fit in with the new storyline, this chapter had a MAJOR change, specifically to Clint's background. Enjoy!
Clint's eyes were closed. His entire being drank in the moment of complete silence and loneliness. Down here, he was the only person on the planet. Nothing fazed him. The world was calm. And nothing could penetrate this invisible barrier he'd but up to keep everyone out. Small bubbles passed through his lips and lifted through the cerulean water to explode by the surface. He was doing his best to concentrate. Thinking the words that had kept him clawing hold of sanity for nearly two months since Loki ripped his mind apart.
First, say his name.
Next, what he does.
I am an agent of SHIELD. An Avenger.
Third, repeat a simple mantra.
Hawkeye. Avenger. Top shot. Archery. Good guy.
The questions and answers came smoothly to him. Rolling through his mind like crystal waves and pushing out the pain he learned to ignore. He still had plenty of healing to do, but he was making progress. Slow and steady progress.
Clint pushed himself up off the pool floor. He had just enough time when his head hit the surface to inhale before his lungs threatened to implode. The doctors, and mainly Bruce, would tell him he shouldn't be pushing his luck with strenuous activity. That's when he would ask if holding his breath for three minutes under ten feet of water counted as strenuous. Apparently, their definitions never contained the word "no" afterward. Oh well, Hawkeye was never very good at following directions to begin with. If Banner requested he stay out of the gym for the next week, then maybe he'd cut back to a session every other day or so, out of respect for the guy. Besides that, orders weren't always the top of his "to follow" list.
"There he is, Mr. Suicidal himself. Having fun with that self-water boarding there, little miss sunshine? I thought I drained this thing a year ago."
Clint didn't have to clear the chlorinated water from his eyes to know Tony was standing at the edge of the pool. He toyed with the idea of dragging Tony in out of spite, cast or no cast. But he vaguely remembered reading in some missions brief about the playboy's fear of water. He thought better about it and stored that little piece of revenge for the future.
"What do I owe the pleasure of your prestigious company?" Clint asked, sarcasm dripping off every word. He wiped his eyes clear and looked at the edge of the pool, gauging whether or not he could just pull himself out rather than swim for the ladder. He'd look like a helpless fool if he didn't make it out on his first try, so he decided to swim to the ladder instead.
"Oh, you know, saving the world job's been a little light as of late." Tony replied, walking along as Clint swam. Clint did note he kept a good four feet between him and the pool edge. So, the water fear was probably founded on some degree of authenticity.
"Somehow I know what you mean." Clint replied. He pulled himself up the ladder, trying to ignore the tug against his hardly healed bullet wound. Banner would be chewing him out later for getting his face's stitches soaked. The staples in his back didn't feel all that pleased with his pool jump either. But Clint needed someplace to think by himself and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
"Are those my swim trunks?" Tony pointed out.
"Pepper let me borrow them." Clint replied.
"She's enabling your bad behavior. I'll speak to your mother about this later." Tony folded his arms. "Son, you must stop this manipulative behavior. You know she can't say no to anything you ask her."
Clint felt an emotional rock slide knock the wind out of him. He turned away from Tony and went rooting for his towel before the emotion could blast across his face. Unfortunately for him, it was exactly what Stark was waiting for.
Ever since the heart-to-heart Clint had dropped in the plane, Tony had been doing everything he could to steer conversation towards Clint's past. He wasn't sure how or when the right time to bring it up was, but now with Clint veritably cornered on the rooftop swimming pool with no one watching but God, he jumped at the opportunity.
"You know, you're not the only one with a crappy rap sheet. I've been there too, at home and back in that desert cave." He said quickly, before Clint could take off and hide someplace.
Clint turned on him. "What are you talking about? Everyone knows what I did for SHIELD was government sanctioned—"
"I'm not talking about being in SHIELD, or Loki." Tony said. This conversation was not starting the way he'd planned it in his head. He held up a hand in supplication. "Ok, let me start over. You're not the only one on this team whose father was as close to him as a pile of elephant crap. I just want you to know, I understand."
Hawkeye was shocked and this time he could not hide it. "What the Hell do you think you know about me? You don't know crap about my father! What are you trying to do, say are fathers were the same? That I had the same upbringing you did? That you're hostage crisis somehow makes us equal?"
"Look, Clint, I'm just saying—"
"I know what you're saying, and I'm telling you that you've got it all wrong. My father, the man I consider my father, was the greatest man I've ever known in my life and if you're implying he wasn't, then I'm walking away right now before I do something that I'll regret." Clint was so angry he was shaking head to foot. His hands were clenched into fists, one wrong word and either of them was going for Stark's face.
Tony, for his part, was flabbergasted. It wasn't possible he'd gotten so many little hints, small details wrong. So of course, he had to be right. "But you told me you learned to pick cuffs as a kid, and all that jack about knowing how to set broken arms. That you had to because every day your parents beat the Hell out of you. I read your sheet. I know SHIELD doesn't share much info on their agents, but I do know about the orphanage and—"
Tony hit the pool deck with a thud. Even though Clint regretted what the punch did to his still pained wounds, it felt good to hit him. "You don't know anything about my family." His body couldn't stop shaking. His fist clenched and unclenched. For safety, Tony stayed down, nursing his jaw with one hand.
"The man whose DNA helped make me? He was no father. The things he did to us. . . our mother . . . he wasn't going to stop. I knew it was going to happen one day but he didn't have to take her with him. He wasn't worth crap."
Tony leaned up a little. "Ok... I'm confused. I'm guessing that whoever Mr. Barton was, you didn't consider him your dad. Have I got that straight now?"
The severe expression on the archer's face broke momentarily. "That was Phil. If anyone in my life could have been called my father, it was Phil Coulson. What's it matter now, though? He's dead. And I can't bring him back from that. My old man was nothing to me. Less than nothing."
"What about your mother? She just as full of crap as your Barton namesake then?"
Clint looked like he was in a mood for murder if Tony pushed him any farther. "Just because she never found it in her to leave, doesn't mean she's worthless. Besides, your parents were murdered." The archer growled. "Mine was a murderer. We aren't the same."
Suddenly it all clicked in Tony's mind. "But you aren't." He told him. Not so worried he might be decked again, Tony got to his feet, but kept a comfortable distance between them. "Look, Clint, I know you think your worth about as much as him. But you are not him."
"Oh, now you know everything I'm thinking, is that it?" Clint spat at him.
"I think if you don't stop comparing yourself to him, I'm going to walk into your room one day and find you splayed out with a gun in your mouth." Tony fired back just as angry.
Clint snapped. He moved forward, his fist seeking another connection with Stark's face when Tony ducked under him and rushed forward. With one hand he leveled a body shot to Clint's kidney and brought a knee against his side. Clint's elbow came down on the back of Tony's head and the two of them went crashing to the ground. Tony recovered a little first, making it to his feet enough to send his boot into Clint's shoulder. Clint let out a cry, hitting his back off the pool deck. He sat up enough to grab Tony's shirt with his right hand and yanked the billionaire closer. He punched Tony in the cheek with his left, holding him steady with the right. He pulled his left back again but Tony brought his knee up again, this time right into Clint's healing rib. Forced to let go, Clint turned away from him and held his side while he gasped for air. Tony rolled away, holding a hand to his throbbing eye. He wasn't sure if it was just blood rushing under his skin, or if his nose was actually bleeding.
Apparently Clint was able to get his bearings before Tony could because the next thing Stark felt was the shove against his side before his body hit the water. Then, the panic set in. Tony may not have the same extreme flashbacks PTSD rocked him through over a year ago, but that didn't mean he liked being thrown into a pool ten feet deep with a lead weight attached to his arm. So he may have screamed a little. At least the tears were well hidden by the ample cover around him.
Clint sat gasping on the pool edge for a minute or two, watching Tony try to drown himself with all his flailing around. He knew he'd save him, he just wanted the busy-body to suffer for a little while first. When it seemed like Tony truly was in danger of drowning himself, Clint reached out and hauled him back to the edge. Pure adrenaline made it easy for Tony to one-hand his way over the ledge and he sat, coughing and sputtering beside Clint. Clint wasn't exactly done being mad, but he wasn't planning on hitting Tony again either.
"So, I guess we're cool then?" Tony asked.
Clint looked over at him and glared a little. Tony did not forget how close he was to the pool edge in case the archer wanted to hurl him in again.
"Stop messing with my head." Clint told him. "I've got enough people trying to do that. I just need, one person, who doesn't. Is that so hard?"
Stark sat up, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. Yeah, he was bleeding. "So, you're saying you don't want to share with all your friends in group therapy?"
Clint tried to laugh. "Actually, I would feel a lot better if people stopped treating me like a four-year-old. Or the enemy. I mean, what did I ever do to you, Stark, besides try to get you killed in a plane crash?"
Tony laughed a little. "Actually, and I said this already, you did more trying to keep me alive then you did neglecting me."
"My past is my problem, ok? Stop asking about, looking into it, and squeezing people for it. If I want to tell you something, I'll say it."
"Coulson' your daddy, the old man Barton isn't worth it, and you love your mom."
Clint shoved Tony a little closer to the edge of the pool, just so Tony knew he was poking the bear again. "And no more trying to kill yourself to save me, deal?" Clint posed.
To that, Stark was more serious. He sighed. "Look. That I can't say yes to and you know why I can't. I already proved that I'd sacrifice myself for everyone on this team. And you are part of this team. It's not something I just decide in my mind. I mean, I couldn't tell you to do the same thing and expect you to do it, can I? In the heat of battle, someone takes a shot at me, you wouldn't jump in and take it yourself?"
"Probably not, you'd be wearing armor. I'd look like an idiot."
Tony gave him a disappointed look. "You know what I mean. We get robbed at the 7-11 going for a midnight Big Gulp, you would totally be the hero."
Clint thought about it for a minute and supposed Tony probably had a point. "Yeah, ok."
"So we agree?" Stark pressed. "Cause I got to clear this crap up. I'll stop being such an irresponsible jerk that Thor actually feels the need to handcuff in order to go where I'm told to, and you will stop thinking you're the bane of all humanity."
"And you will stop acting like I'm damaged goods and we both agree to not, not die for each other." Clint finalized.
"Double negative equals a positive."
Stark struck his hand out and the two of them shook on it. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship, the two of them thought. After all, they were similar on many levels. One of which was their ability to switch mental gears on a dime. Almost at the same time they came to a similar conclusion about their first joint venture as a partnership. And it involved one of the four beings that just arrived at the pool deck.
Natasha rushed for them, her gentle touch helping Hawkeye to sit up as she cursed him out in Russian. Banner was indecisive as to which one of them needed him most and so decided to sit between them and work like a four-armed human. Rogers stood over them, not actively admonishing what they had obviously done to each other, but he was looking for the reason why. Thor was laughing. And Thor was precisely who both Tony and Clint focused all their attention on.
"JARVIS told us you two were trying to kill each other." Rogers said.
"What were you thinking?" Banner said, his muscles quivering in anger at the cleanup job he had to spend the next few hours on.
"Clint, are you ok?" Tasha whispered. "What did he say? Should I kill him for you?"
Clint smiled at Natasha. Tony, obviously overhearing, whipped his head in her direction.
"They have solved what differences have plagued them. It is a normal behavior of true warriors of Asgard." Thor announced. "I am proud of your resolve my friends."
Tony smiled, taking the afforded opportunity. "Oh, what was that? I can't hear you with this water in my ears. Can you come closer?"
Thor, unsuspecting, did just that. He wandered over, and knelt down beside Clint and Tony both. His mouth opened to repeat what he had said, probably intending to add something more about Asgard rituals but he never got so far. Instead, Tony's soaked cast came up and gave him such a mighty right hook that the stunned Asgardian flung backward, his arms wind-milling to try and stop his momentum before he slipped into the pool. He might have saved the fall, had Clint not swept out a leg and knocked the giant off his feet and right into the water.
Like a single entity, both Tony and Clint began laughing and crying all at once. Clint's side had ripped open again, Tony's arm had snapped along its iron plate, but neither could stop themselves. So there they sat, as Thor struggled to understand the meaning of the joke and Captain American fished him out of the pool, Tony and Clint solidified a friendship the others could not hope to touch. Something built between them, something neither ever expected. They were closer then Avengers. They were brothers.
So there it is! the complete retelling of the Avenger's Lithium Hawkeye.
As this is Book 2, if you would like to read book 1, please see Moments in Mexico.
thank you for enjoying! at 300+ reviews, over 100,000 hits, and nearly 500 favorites, this is my most popular book here.