A/N: Decided to jump on the bandwagon and write an Avengers movie-verse story. FYI, I did not read the comics so if I screw up cannon, please forgive me.
Disclaimer: I own NOTHING!
Six months after the incident in New York, and Stark happily strolled through is partially repaired tower. Today was note worthy in that it was a Saturday and he wasn't hungover and that he had a full house. For once, Agents Barton and Romanov had decided to stay with him, rather than at the SHIELD base. It was a bit odd for them to do so but whatever. He suspected it had more to do with the fact that they came back from their last mission with her sporting a busted collar bone and dislocated shoulder and he had a shrapnel wound to the side, broken ribs, and a bum knee.
At first, he had had brilliant theories that living with two assassins would be like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, though Barton had nothing on Brad Pitt. Turned out, it was more like living with a live wire and a ghost. Romanov was there more often and tended to be more outgoing with the rest of the team than Barton but she was ill tempered, cold, rude, and occasionally cruel. Barton on the other hand seemed to have no desire to interact with anyone other than Romanov and generally spent most of his time there eating, sleeping, or prepping weapons. Half the time Tony didn't even know if he was there or not. Frankly it sort of creeped him out.
He actually still remembered what Coulson had said about Barton, when they had mentioned him on the Helicarrier with the comment that Romanov almost never deployed without him. Tony had made some glib comment about him being the exception and Phil and Natasha had snickered. "Just because you didn't see him, doesn't mean he wasn't there, Stark." Coulson had joked. It hadn't made much sense till he actually met the sniper. It made more sense after he went back and looked at some "procured" SHEILD tapes of his expo, Senate hearing, and trip to Monaco. The Expo tape had been the most disturbing. It had been grainy, dark and shot from at least 800-900 meters away. Tony had had Jarvis retrace the angle and it would have had to have been shot from the interior rafters of the tower next door. Natasha had glibly pointed out that it had been shot on a camera mounted on Clint's sniper rifle, and Barton had been all for "taking out the show boating asshat." The thought that he could have died and never had a clue the shot coming, had been a little unsettling.
Today seemed to be an average morning for them, he had made her crepes and hard boiled eggs with caviar, because they were clearly sleeping together. What dude made crepes for a woman unless he was thanking her for letting him bang her? Today's crepes were nutella and strawberry with homemade whip cream. They looked so good but Tony knew better than to ask, the way someone not fucking Clint Barton got fed around him was to eat out of the trash. Not that Tony had done that, the sink didn't count as the trash. He supposed that wasn't completely true, he had made pancakes for Pepper and Jane once, but none of the men had been served.
It was one of the weird quirks he had noticed about the marksman, he liked to make women happy. Maybe Mommy beat him as a little boy, who knows. What he found more interesting was that spy lady was shoveling food down her gullet like there was no tomorrow and he was picking at toast even though that stuff smelled heavenly. In fact, the man looked almost green. Tony slid in beside him, the same time Bruce came in, scurrying around the edges of the room as usual.
"So what's the matter there, Barton, did Natasha get you pregnant?" he teased. Most sane people wouldn't taunt either of them, but it was tough to find the Black Widow frightening when she was wearing a tank top (no bra Yeah!), shorts, and a worn out flannel shirt that clearly belonged to Barton, her wounded arm still in a sling. Another point for the side that they were sleeping together. Male and female friends do not share clothes. The intimidation factor of Hawkeye was even more reduced with his long sleeve Henley, old Ft. Benning t-shirt, and Eeyore pajama pants, which was again another point. Why would a badass like Barton wear Winnie the Pooh jammies, unless his squeeze bought them for him.
His answer was a middle finger from both of them. "You know you'll feel better if you eat something," Natasha followed in between bites. That woman could eat. Tony watched her reach up and run her hands through his shower damp hair, ending with her hand on the back of his neck, rubbing her thumb behind his ear. She was so different now then she was when they had first met. Then she had been playing a part and later had been on a mission. This softer side of her was something new and kind of sexy, not that he would cheat on Pepper unless Natasha started it.
When they had gotten to the Helicarrier for that first mission, he had asked Coulson why she and everyone were so concerned about this Agent Barton guy. Coulson had said something about Barton's skill and knowledge, both of which Tony had discounted as exaggeration. No one could fire an arrow into an electrical socket and blow up a ship, that just wasn't possible. Of course until said agent actually did it. But when Phil got to why Natasha cared so much, he remembered the Agent looking away and saying, "he's her valium, a drug more precious than sleep." It had made zero sense to him at the time but now he understood a little bit more. Around him, she could relax and stop looking over her shoulder because she knew he had her back. She may have said she didn't love him but she clearly trusted him and Tony guessed that for people like them trust was more important than love. But then again anytime he brought up her feelings for her partner, it tended to read as she doth protest too much.
"I am eating," he grumbled, looking down at his plate as Steve came in from his morning run.
"No, you are shredding your toast into oblivion but you aren't eating any of it," she countered and finally pushed her plate away after downing 3 crepes, 2 eggs, and 3 pieces of bacon. She gave Bruce a small smile and a nod, telling him he could have the rest, which he jumped on.
"Are you sick, Agent Barton?" Banner asked between bites, almost purring in contentment at the taste.
"No, I'm fine," he answered, continuing to destroy his toast.
"You are not fine," Romanov countered, shoving his plate away.
"I'm not sick," he emphasized.
"You look sick," Tony commented, pouring a large cup of coffee, more important than actual breakfast.
Before Clint could counter, Bruce chimed in, "you do look a bit unwell. Is your wound getting infected?"
"No, it's nothing like that. I'll be fine in a few hours."
"Are you sure, I can take a look at it if you need me to."
"No, don't worry about it. It's all Rasputin, over here's fault," Barton pointed at Natasha and her eyes narrowed to a glare.
"Name calling, really, that's how you want to play this?" She questioned then continued, "I made GI Joe take his pain meds last night so I could get a break from his tossing and turning."
"GI Joe was the best you could come up with? And if my tossing and turning bothers you, sleep in your own bed."
"I'll sleep wherever I damn well please, maybe tonight in Steve's room."
"I'm sorry, can your repeat that, I don't speak whore," he snarked and Tony was sure he was a dead man but all she did was shoot back.
That one got a grin from him, which apparently meant he had lost some contest that no one other than them knew they were having. "Whatever, Natashen'ka." Tony knew that one, it was a very endearing diminutive of her name, the Russian equivalent of calling her sweetheart. Of course that was not nearly as interesting as the fact that they had both just openly admitted they shared a bed.
"Anyway, I got tired of seeing him laying there tense as a bored and in pain so I made him take the pain meds the doctors gave him. He slept like a baby, six whole hours," she crowed over him. Six hours was more like a nap than a good night's sleep to Tony, at least when he was in one of his down phases.
"Yes and I woke up from that six hour stretch barely making it to the bathroom in time to not puke all over the bed and still feel like I could hurl on command."
"At least you weren't hurting," defended herself.
"Have you ever tried vomiting with broken rib and a frag wound in your side?" he questioned her and Tony lost his appetite.
"What did they give you?" Banner asked quietly, unobtrusively, like he always did. She handed him a pill bottle and he read the label, "Reprexain, hydrocodone and ibuprofen. They gave you the good stuff," he smiled. "It's probably the codeine; a lot of people have a sensitivity to it that makes them nauseous when they take it. The ibuprofen probably made it worse because it's pretty hard on your stomach at the best of times. I can write you a prescription for an anti emetic so you can still take them," Bruce offered but Clint shook his head no.
"They make me too groggy," he defended.
"This from the guy that eats Halcion like its candy," Tony questioned.
"Only on flights longer than 10 hours and before missions where I know I won't be able to sleep."
"Or we can switch you to Oxycodone. It usually doesn't have the nausea side effect as frequently as codeine based drugs do. It will make you feel more 'high,' though," Banner brought the topic back on track to helping Clint.
"Or I could just suck it up," he offered but Natasha cut him off.
"Switch it please, Bruce. I am not going to spend one minute longer than I have to seeing you in this much pain." There went that "love" thing again. Women did not tend to be that concerned for people's comfort unless there was a little something, something going on. "Because you have the personality of a badger with dental problems when you're wounded and I don't want to deal with it," she finished. OK, maybe it wasn't love. He filed it away for later and left to go work on some plans.
When he came back later, it was right around noon and Clint was baking, while Natasha dozed on the couch just off the kitchen. Tony had learned that the only time either of them ever slept out in the open like this was if the other was around. That was trust he supposed.
Tony inspected the multitude of pots and mixing bowls Clint had around and tried to guess what in the world he could be making as he limped around the kitchen. The limp was much less pronounced than earlier though, so he assumed that Bruce's drug change had helped. Though there was no sign of loopiness, that is usually caused by Oxycodone. Barton was so damn controlled all the time, he wondered what the guy would be like completely smashed. He had never seen him drink more than a single shot of vodka after a mission with Natasha, always with both of them saying a quick 'Za Vas' or 'to you' before downing it. Now Romanov, that girl could drink. "What ya' makin' there Robin Hood?"
"Caramel popcorn, for this afternoon," he stirred the homemade caramel bubbling on the stove, "brownies for dessert, and chicken Kiev with potato rolls and kale, carrot, and green bean salad for dinner," he answered, moving around the kitchen like a pro.
"Let me guess, you only made enough for you and spider woman?" Clint gave him a look that said, 'd'uh.' "Do you have any idea how rude it is to only make enough for 2 people when there are 5 of us here?" he asked, his mouth already watering at the sight of the chicken breasts he was butterflying with the precision of a master chef. This time his look was more, 'do you have any idea how little I care if you think I am rude.' "So if I have sex with you, will you cook me wonderful food too?" Tony asked as Pepper walked in, invited by the smell of the caramel. She did have a sweet tooth.
"We aren't lovers, Stark," Clint defended, this time without looking up.
"Your mouth says no but everything else about you 2 says yes." He taunted.
"Hello, Pepper," he ignored Tony and greeted his girlfriend, as he poured the caramel over a large bowl of popcorn and began to toss it in the air and recatch it without missing a single piece. He then gave it a slight dusting of salt and tossed again, holding the bowl out to her, "would you like to try?" he flashed her a smile, charming and boyish that made his eyes sparkle and Tony felt sick at the lie. Barton's eyes didn't sparkle, they were dead like a cipher.
"This is wonderful, salty and sweet. It's delicious. Phil was right, you are an amazing cook." Pepper beamed at him, making Tony's dislike of the guy go even higher. Wait, did she just say he would cook for Coulson? Why would he cook for Coulsson and not for the rest of them? He might have gotten angry but again, it's hard to really be angry with a guy wearing cartoon pajamas.
"Thank you," he smiled shyly, mimicking the "awe shucks" vibe the Steve gave off. Now that Tony knew him better he was better at picking up when either he or Natasha were acting and he found it disturbing how often they seemed to act.
"Where did you learn to cook, if you don't mind me asking?" Pepper returned his smile and Tony reminded himself that he was better looking, richer, smarter, and for once actually nicer than the other man.
"In Bogata." He answered simply as he sprinkled what looked like sea salt on the top of his brownies and slid them into the oven. Tony was beginning to think maybe he was a little loopy. Hawkeye did not talk this much to anyone except Natasha.
"Really, why were you in Colombia?" she asked, tucking her hair behind her ear. It must have been bugging her because she was most certainly not flirting with SHIELD's one-man-automatic-dictator-removal-machine.
"Tash and I were down there for a mission to take down some drug and weapons traffickers. She posed as an heiress to get close to the cartel and I needed someplace close by where I had access to the hotel. The best they could get me was assistant chef so I had a seven days crash course on how to work the line in a 5 star hotel restaurant and faked the rest when I got there. I spent 3 months getting yelled at in Spanish and sweating my ass off in the back of a kitchen, while she was wined and dined by drug lords. Sometimes I wish I was the one with the tits, then I wouldn't get all the crap jobs." She giggled at him and Tony ground his teeth. He loved how Barton skipped over the fact that they probably killed the entire cartel, their family, and maybe even the kitchen staff. The two of them seemed to have like zero concept of morality. Oh, and this level of talkativeness meant he clearly was high.
"I see, well a useful skill to be sure," she giggled and Tony suddenly felt like picking a fight with his 'teammate' just to make a point. If he was stoned, Tony might stand a chance without the suit.
"Tasha and I were going to watch a movie, if you would like to join us, Pepper. Today is a relaxing day, a rare treat for us."
"A relaxing day?" Tony questioned, wondering if Clint was high enough he could get some black mail material.
"Yup, we sit around and don't do anything, eat what want, sleep when we want, and don't bother putting on real pants." He grinned. Well that explained the goofy attire.
"What are you watching?" Pepper asked, then looked over at Tony's displeased expression. "I probably should be working, I'm sorry."
Tony instantly felt guilty that she misread his jealousy for anger at her. "No, Pepper, let's join them. I could use a break." She smiled at him and his heart melted. "So what was the flick?"
"Ringu," Clint smirked as he took drinks and popcorn out to TV room off the kitchen. Natasha was still sleeping soundly, which surprised the shit out of Tony.
"I'm shocked she is still out. I figured she would have woken up when we walked in?" he asked as Clint found the movie and got it ready. He also pulled out a blanket and draped it over her. It was February in New York and it was cold.
"Why, you aren't a threat to her?" he asked as he settled down beside her, leaving the other couch for Tony and Pepper.
"Yeah but she seems like she wouldn't want us to see her sleeping out here and would wake up and be all ninja like on us."
"She knows she doesn't have to," Tony lifted an eyebrow in question. "She knows I wouldn't let anyone other than a friendly get within range of her." He answered simply. "And besides, she hasn't been asleep since you got out here"
Tony looked over and noticed her eyes were now opened and locked on his. He swallowed at the silent message that if he meant her any harm, Clint would kill him. "Your own personal guard dog?" he teased her.
"More like a guard hawk," she answered and moved to curl against Barton's side, her head resting against his chest. "And it goes both ways. You even breath too aggressively around him, when he is down and I will end you painfully." She smiled and it was not a kind smile.
"I see," he swallowed, wondering again how either of them could be counted as a hero in any sense of the word. "Well, movie?" He leaned back as Pepper leaned in.
"They are so cute, aren't they? I'm glad I didn't end up fixing her up with Happy." Tony barely managed to cover the snort that wanted out at the thought of his guileless chauffeur with the Black Widow. No, those two deserved each other. Two more fucked up and broken people he had never seen and he grew up rich so he knew fucked up. But regardless of their different pasts, they seemed to be broken the same way; a deep down, soul level damage that warped and twisted them into something that could only play at normal. For her it showed as paranoia and complete lack of trust in almost everything. Barton on the other hand was anti social and dissociative to the extreme. And according to their psych profiles both of them were classic examples of Schizoid personality disorder.
Once the movie started Tony noticed 2 things, one it was a good movie and 2 Natasha clearly did not like ghost movies. More than once, between stuffing her face with popcorn and strong, black tea, she jumped, hid under her covers, or hid against Clint's chest in the scary parts.
"Are you afraid of ghosts, Natasha?" Pepper asked politely. Tony knew she was secretly a huge horror movie fiend. It seemed like Barton was too.
"Yes, I am. I cannot stand ghosts or ghost movies and he loves them." She pouted and Clint just smiled.
When the movie finished, she crowed,"just for that, blondie, we're watching the Abyss next," smiling gleefully and programming the movie in.
He groaned, "do we have to? Wouldn't Aliens be better? You like Michael Biehn."
"No, I want The Abyss."
"Oh that is a great movie," Bruce settled himself in a chair to watch, a good distance from Romanov, who still occasionally seemed wary of him. "Steve, you should watch it, it's a classic Sci-Fi masterpiece."
The super soldier folded himself into a chair and watched the screen, even as Natasha sprawled out with her head in Clint's lap, no less, after an aggressive stare down that resulted in Clint taking another dose of his new pain meds. Those two were totally sleeping together, at least he was pretty sure, maybe. At least Pepper curled against him.
"It is not a great movie, it is a creepy, disturbing, annoying movie that she likes to watch just to bother me."
"Sort of like you and your ghost movies?" she taunted, gently massaging his sore thigh muscles above the brace.
"Ghost movies are a sub genre of horror. Movies about being in a submarine and drowning are not a genre, plus you only watch this one."
"Oh my god, you're claustrophobic, aren't you Agent Barton?" Tony questioned, finally finding a chink in Hawkeye's armor.
"I am not claustrophobic," he stated calmly and the movie started.
Tony kept a close eye on him as the movie progressed, but the man was as stone faced as ever until a scenes where the people started drowning. "You're afraid of water?"
"I'm not afraid of water," he defended, while shying away from the screen.
"Yes you are, you totally are," Tony crowed. "See Bruce, he can't even look at the screen."
"I'm not afraid of water," he defended again, "I just don't care for the idea of drowning."
"No one cares for the idea of drowning but no one but you are shying away from the screen." Tony stopped the move, "so what was it, your daddy nearly drown you or did you get picked on in high school." Natasha looked like she was about to jump up and kill him for some reason. Ok, he would have to be careful not to trip her protective instinct towards her partner.
"Sorry, you don't have clearance for that intel because it's classified as none of your goddamn business," Clint snapped, just fueling Tony's curiosity but he pulled back, deciding to bide his time, restarting the movie.
As the sub began to fill with water, it got to a point where he actually closed his eyes rather than look at it and Tony pounced, "So it's not all water, it's water in an enclosed space that is bothering you. But I've seen you swim, what could it be?" He tapped his glass of bourbon against the corner of the arc reactor in his chest.
"Will you please just leave it alone, Stark," Barton commented, finally opening his eyes, if he wasn't mistaken they looked a bit glassy.
"No, because I find it interesting, and I can't ever ignore something I find interesting. You're willingly stand on the corner of buildings with no safety gear, hundreds of feet in the air, and fire arrows at aliens with technology you can't begin to understand without a second thought. Yet you can't watch a movie about a submarine without averting your eyes. So enclosed water, where you on a sub that sank?"
"All subs sink, that's their point," he countered, playing with Natasha's hair.
"He said he was afraid of drowning, not being in water," Bruce piped in, as he sank back down after stealing some of the popcorn. Man, that stuff looked good. "A subtle yet important distinction, I think."
"I never said I was afraid. I said I didn't like the idea of it." Barton defended
"Yes, but in SHIELD speak that is like saying you are terrified." Tony continued.
"He isn't really phobic about it anymore," Romanov betrayed as she practically purred under Barton's fingers.
"Et tu, Brute?" he complained but continued to pet her hair.
"Life's a bitch, Barton, and so am I." she gloated.
"Phobic about drowning, huh, but not scared of water? Why would someone be afraid of drowning on dry land?"
"Water boarding," Banner threw in as he caught a piece of caramel popcorn in his mouth. Stark couldn't help but notice how Barton's face went from mildly annoyed to blank, the closest thing to a tell the assassin had.
"So you are phobic about water-boarding?" It made sense, he had read the man's file. He had served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, when he was still in the Army, before SHEILD took a circus criminal turned army man and made a master assassin.
"I hate to interrupt, but what is water boarding?" Steve asked politely.
"It's an intimidation technique," Clint started when Natasha cut in.
"Torture, it's a torture technique. Call it what it is," she corrected, taking hold of one of his hand and lacing their fingers together, tucking it under her chin.
"Ok, a torture technique where you put a cloth over someone's face and pour water on it to mimic drowning," Barton finished and Steve nodded.
"Never sounded that bad to me, not like getting hit by shrapnel trying to enter your heart," Tony commented, trying to elicit sympathy from Pepper or Natasha, both ignored it. "Besides, I read your file, you were Special Forces, right?" Clint nodded in the affirmative. "You should have been taught in SERE training how to handle it."
"They do teach you about it in SERE, but there is a huge difference between having it done to you, while your squad is around and the instructor is walking your through what is happening, and being captured, having your feet caned, strapped upside down on a table, blindfolded and having it done while a bunch Afghanis yell at you in Pashto.
"Still doesn't sound that bad," Tony grumbled.
"Have you ever been water boarded, Stark," Clint asked.
"No, because I had the luxury of brains, and money, and looks so I didn't join the military." Tony prevaricated. What had been done to him was more like a swirly than what had obviously been done to Barton.
"Fine, so shut the fuck up about it," Barton finally snapped, apparently Tony had hit a nerve.
Tony wanted the whole story and was not about to stop now. "Come on, you can't tell us just that much and nothing else, besides, we all have high enough SHIELD clearance to know what happened." Barton remained unmoved. "And this is how you build team spirit and friendship and you are the worst of the team players," he tried, turning to Steve. "Isn't that right Captain?"
"If he doesn't want to tell us, you shouldn't force him." Steve tried but Tony clearly wasn't listening.
"How long were you there?"
"Oh for the love of, just tell him, Clint, or we'll never get any peace and quiet. Either that or I'm going to garrote him. He is ruining my relaxation day!" The Black Widow roused, annoyed because Barton had stopped stroking her hair.
"Then strangle the mother fucker for all I care." He would defend Iron Man with his life but Tony Stark, not so much. That pathological ability to compartmentalize had to be a form of mental illness, it just had to be. How exactly either of those two lunatics made it into the Avengers when he had been considered too unstable, he would never understand.
"I know, but he does have a point, these people are our new team and you should start tolerating them. Besides, I bet they would like to hear how Squawks saved your life." She reasoned with him but he still seemed to waiver. Apparently his trust issues had trust issues, just like his partner. "If you tell them, I'll do whatever you want," she finished, looking him in the eye.
"You bake some of those brownies with the sea salt in them?" he nodded 'yes' "You got deal," she let go of his hand and held her unwounded hand out.
"You drive a hard bargain, Natashen'ka, but deal," he shook it and they went back to holding hands. "Fine, so Fury and Squawks sent me to observe a camp on the Pakistan Afghanistan boarder that was known for human trafficking."
"Wait, who's Squawks?" Tony interrupted already, hoping the story wasn't long. He just wanted the torture bits plus he had had enough of Afghan prisons to last him 3 life times.
"Coulson," Natasha answered simply. "Squawks was his nickname."
"That's not a very nice codename," Steve thought out loud.
"His codename was Suit, Squawks was my nickname for him, because he was always squawking in my ear about something," He ducked his head and gave a small smile. "Coulson was my handler for 8, almost 9 years." Clint confessed a look of what might have been genuine regret in his mostly dead eyes. Tony couldn't be sure though. Both of them were masters at manufacturing feelings and emotions, though she was much better at it. He was getting better at telling though. If he saw blatant emotions on either of their faces, it was probably a lie. Meeting either of their eyes normally was like looking into the eyes of a shark or a snake, a cold, blooded killer. At first he had thought assassins would be cool, now he sort of thought they were a lot scary and a lot messed up in the head. Sane people did not act like either of them.
"I see, so carry on," Tony leaned back against Pepper and prepared himself for what was probably going to be a rather dull story.
Afghanistan side of the boarder 2006.
"Hawkeye, the extraction team is 20 minutes out," Coulson spoke to his operative in the field.
"Copy that, 20 minutes and counting," Barton replied quietly, his voice sounding oddly hollow with the new style com device implanted between 2 of his molars and rusty from disuse. Phil wasn't surprised though, they had mostly maintained radio silence for the last 15 hours and he knew Barton wasn't going to make a move or a sound otherwise. Not when his job was to observe and then take out the guards when the extract team came.
That was why he had sent Hawkeye. There was no one better suited for this type of wet work. No one else that could set up 1000 meters from their targets and remain undetected for 32 hours while he watched their every move, their every pattern and gauged their every line of site so he could take them out. Hawkeye was weirdly efficient about these sorts of things and as deadly as his partner, Black Widow, who was currently pacing around behind him and hurling insults at him in Russian for deploying Clint without her. But really, this was a straight up forward spotter and cover fire mission, pure military, which Clint was, and she would have been of no use. No one needed to be charmed, they just needed to be dead.
"So Fury hired this new filly named Agent Hill. She brought homemade cookies from her mother, lemon chiffon," he took a bite and chewed loudly, "and tasty."
"You're killing me, Squawks, I haven't had shit to eat in over 30 hours other than SHIELD issued glucose and electrolyte supplement gel. Green, which I might add, tastes like when you puke back up lemonade. I would kill for a freakin' pizza."
"You kill at least 2 and I'll get you a pizza, 3 if you want toppings." Coulson joked, trying to keep Clint engaged.
"You throw in a hot shower and a warm drink and I'll kill the whole fucking camp. Why did I agree to this in the middle of January?"
"What's the matter, you sound cranky, did you miss your nap?" Phil taunted, though he knew it had been snowing and that Clint no doubt allowed himself to be covered in it to make himself look like his surroundings. Right now it was about 5 degrees and the poor guy was probably freezing his ass off.
"There's a death stalker scorpion half burrowed into my sleeve and it's been there since before the sun went down. I'm afraid it's thinking of moving in."
Phil laughed, "probably trying to steal your body heat, like the other one. You can just add it to your collection of scary, deadly arachnids that follow you around," his eyes cut to Natasha as she glared at him. He couldn't help the new dry feeling in his mouth at her look. That woman was scary. He often got the feeling that she tolerated him because Barton liked him. Her allegiance was to Clint, not SHIELD
"What's the matter, Squawks, did Tasha hear you?" Hawkeye teased right back.
"Yes, she did, and now she thinks your cheating on her. Which one of us do you think she'll go after, the messenger or the cheater?" He cut up, Romanov's jealous streak over Barton being a thing of legend around SHIELD. By her rules, he was not allowed to be partnered with, in close contact with, or basically be around other female agents. Other women were only tolerated if and only if it was directly involved with the mission. Otherwise it was hands off or risk losing them. If it had been Phil's call, he would have cut her lose as a PSYCHO but for some reason Barton seemed to see it as a sign of affection. He and Fury, along with some of the other agents had a running tally over which one of them was more touched in the head. Usually she won but every once in a while, Clint would pull ahead with something, like thinking that murderous jealousy was how one showed they cared. Oh well he was more than a bit of a masochist and she was quite a bit of a sadist and they were a good team so Phil kept his opinions to himself. At least he did most of the time.
"Very funny," Clint started, then scanned the area further east with his scope, "oh shit, we have a problem. A truck is coming in fast and there are soldiers on it, at least 20. How many men did you send?"
"Shit we only sent 10. How well armed?" Phil started yelling for satellite pictures and for someone to get Fury.
"To the teeth, abort, you're sending them into a killing field." Hawkeye stated, all joking gone from his voice.
There was a pause, "It's too late. We can't call them back."
"Fuck," Clint breathed.
"How many can you safely take out, Hawkeye?" Coulson asked, making sure to stress the safely. Snipers were some of the most dangerous people in the world but they relied on stealth and surprise, once they fired, especially multiple shots, they were exposed and either had to relocate or risk being sighted themselves. He needed to know how many could Clint take out before they could figure out where he was and go after him.
"Safely 4 maybe 5 but that won't be enough to save your guys or the hostages." Barton answered, not bragging but being completely realistic.
"How many unsafely?" Phil turned away from Natasha and asked, hating that he was thinking about sacrificing his favorite asset to protect 10 others.
"All 20 are in the courtyard, clear shots. I can get 12 before I have to reload." There was a pause then, "Your team will be here in less than 120 seconds, what's the call?" Phil shut his eyes weighing his options when Hawkeye spoke again, "there are women and children down there, at least 50 kids." And with that Coulson knew what Clint wanted, he wanted to take out as many as he could disregarding the fact that his location would become obvious.
"30 seconds to arrival, sir," the agent nearest him reminded him.
"Do what you need to do, Hawkeye." He turned and looked at Romanov wondering if she would stay at SHIELD if Barton was killed or more to the point, would she even bother to stay alive herself.
Coulson was used to Hawkeye's fights being over in less than 20 seconds but this one went on for 14 minutes. It might have been the 14 longest minutes of his life, listening to one of his best assets call out targets and take them down all the while, leaving himself open to attack. At 13 minutes, 21 seconds, Barton commented, "I've got Hajis coming up on me from behind," he sounded calm and oddly relaxed.
"You need to learn to stop calling them that, its racist and it marks you as having served in the US military," Coulson corrected him, always coaching to make him a better agent. It also gave him something to do.
"Sorry, there are 2 fine gentlemen cresting the hill behind me that I do believe intend to murder me." He exhales and fired again. To Coulson it sounded more like a low vibration than a shot. "Target 15 down," he intoned flatly.
"How many left?" Coulson asked, scanning feeds from different monitors. The extract team wasn't supposed to take down the whole camp, just free the hostage. They were close, there were 5 dead and only 2 guards between them and freedom.
"2 at the exit and the team and hostages are coming out hot. Can they take them?" Still so calm, he couldn't be more than seconds away from death or capture but you could not hear a hint of it in his voice. He was as calm as his partner was high strung.
Phil broadened the channel and asked, "Gunnarssen, sit rep?"
"We're coming out, sir, no amo left and several wounded. Any help will be appreciated."
"Don't worry, Gunnarssen, I've got your six," Hawkeye reassured then fired. "Target one down," fired again and, "target two down." Coulson watched the extract team evac the survivors, quickly loading them into waiting trucks.
"Good job men, Hawkeye, fall back to rendezvous," Coulson smiled to himself.
"Do you mind, I really don't like that feeling," he heard Barton say out of no where.
"Of a rifle pressed to the base of my brain." He breathed and Coulson felt himself go weak. Barton was captured. He had left himself open for too long so he could take out the guards.