It was a Tuesday. A dead sort of day, not mid week, not the beginning of the week, nowhere near the end.

Clint was crouched, body taught, on the alcove of a building in London.

White stone greyed by pollution. Pigeon droppings and the odd feather, here and there. The sky was white too, not grey, but a big blank canvas of a sky, no discernible clouds, as they were so thick as to blot out the blue. It was bright though, and despite an almost heat haze over the tarmac below, the visibility was good. Normally Clint could be relied on to hit target even in a blizzard, but today he was glad of the clear sight lines and clear air.

He was so tired.

As their plane had landed, Natasha had punched him in the shoulder and told him to lighten up or take some painkillers. That was her version of concerned, and the fact that she didn't tease him about the various less than angelic causes of a late night showed that she was actually worried.


She couldn't figure it out. Somehow, but certainly, Clint knew no-one could help. Heck if he ran for help it'd probably get worse.

Mischief after all.

He drew his bowstring back with a steady hand as he heard the screech of car tires down the street. That would be Natasha and the target then. This was easy. Arrow in the eye and- all over. Maybe a cup of tea since they were in London, then a flight straight back to the US. Clint didn't even like tea, but they'd had vodka when they were in Russia. Natasha could drink him into the ground.

Back to the job!

He held the string steady, the narrow alcove meaning his elbow brushed the dirty stone behind him. It was cold and he wished he had long sleeves on despite the humidity of the day.

Cold white stone. Cold white arms and surprisingly gentle fingers.


The car swerved around the corner, black, shiny, a sports car, not at all like a S.H.I.E.L.D vehicle, not like the one Loki had stolen.


The street was almost empty. This was easy. Arrow in the eye. Silently. No evidence. Then they could go.

That arrow had never hit Loki's skull though.

Focus Clint!

Clint shifted position even though he didn't need to. He knew where he had to shoot, and when- just as the car passed that street light, before it passed below him. It was nearly there.

Two seconds.


"Shoot Barton."

Whispered words. In his right ear. Cool breath and the smell of iron and cinnamon.

Ice shot down his spine and he froze, string taught, as the car passed the streetlight. That voice.


Clint fell from his crouch onto one knee and sent the arrow flying, directly into the targets neck, from behind, killing him instantly.

Clint didn't even notice the guy's car swerve violently, then crash with a sickening crunch of metal, block smoke seeping from the bonnet, black blood seeping from the man. He didn't notice Natasha's car come around the corner afterwards and skid to a showy handbrake stop.

Clint lowered his bow and looked around him in the alcove. As though anyone else could fit up here with him- let alone a six foot God!


To keep going, Clint operated on habit. Dismantle bow, back in case. Arrows. Check for evidence. A last sweep for camera he might have to take out, as if he'd missed any. Case strapped to back, gloves with grippers on, and back along the edge of the parapet to the open window. Or he should have, immediately, except he stopped and scanned the building and the alcove and feeling ridiculous and utterly stupid, whispered angrily to the air, that now smelt of nothing but pigeons, dust and pollution, "Leave me alone okay?"

A pigeon hooted mournfully somewhere above him, but nothing else answered. Nothing, unless Loki had turned himself into a fucking pigeon. The mental profanity and the stupid image helped a bit, and Clint turned and edged along the alcove a little more steadily, to meet Natasha downstairs.

Back on the ground, she was dressed in civilian clothes, disguise, and had clearly been waiting. Clint had changed into jeans and a T-shirt in the marble bathrooms of hotel he'd been sitting on. Natasha wore a summer dress in green and heeled sandals, yet she looked anything but the easy holiday maker as the heel of her hand slammed into his shoulder in the dirty area behind the kitchen bins, and her mascared eyes were cold.

She pushed him against the brick wall and leant up into his face and hissed, "What the hell are you playing at?"

"It went fine. I got him."

"You missed."

"I didn't I-"

She shook her head, her eyes narrow, "No Barton, you missed. You count missing as less than a centimeter. You shot him five meters too late, in the neck. You left evidence. It went through into the god-damned car seat! We were meant to be untraceable!"

She stepped back away from him, a lock of red hair falling across her face as she opened her shoulder bag and pulled out Clint's arrow, mostly clean with just a little dried blood in the grooves. Natasha tossed it back at him and he took it, and knelt to pack it away with the others.

He could feel her cold gaze on him even before he straightened up. To cut her off, "Shall we go? The next flight's in two hours and we're going civilian. We may as well get it."

She pursed her lips and Clint knew this wasn't finished with. However, after a look that could kill, she silently nodded.

He picked up his bag and they left, blending into the street like a normal couple, Natasha ahead with an angry (worried) stride, and Clint a little further behind.

He kept hearing footsteps that he couldn't place.

There was a growing hopeless panic that he could.