Disclaimer: I do not own the Avengers or any of the characters in the story except Le Roux and his henchmen. If I did, there would totally be a Hawkeye/Black Widow movie in the works.
Author's Note: While I embrace constructive criticism remember this old saying if you choose to leave a review "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"
As always, very special thanks to TuningMyViola for acting as South African consultant and Afrikaans translator for this story!
Continued thanks to Rain in the Dark for agreeing to be my Russian translator in the future.
Thank you to Khell for volunteering to act as my translator for German in the future! :)
I've decided to go with Plan B on my next story, so no longer is a Hungarian translator needed. :)
Here is the last installment of Trust. Thank you so much for all the reviews and amazing compliments about this story. I had fun writing it and I hope everyone had fun reading it. Without further ado...
Clint offered a two fingered salute for the information and waited until Le Roux was out of site before slithering towards the supply room he'd found earlier. The garage was a separate building. Clint had seen it when they'd been brought in. It looked like it used to be a barn of some sort, or a warehouse. Either way, he doubted anybody had taken the time to cover the high rafters with ceiling tiles. And as the sun set, all that could exist up there was shadows.
He couldn't have asked for a better hunting ground. He just had one little job to do first.
The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. –Ernest Hemingway
Clint pressed his back against the wall of the garage, counting on the shadows created by the setting sun to protect him from immediate discovery. He quietly tied one end of the rope he'd stolen from the supply room to the end of his grappling arrow and tied the other end to Tony's case. He notched the arrow in his bow. He pulled back, blinking sweat out of his eyes and ignoring the searing pain across his ribs and let the arrow fly. It caught the empty second story window with only a slight sound. He waited for a moment, to see if he would be discovered. Nobody came running around the side of the building, so he blew out a deep breath, slipped his bow string over his head, and wrapped his hands around the rope. He climbed, hand over hand, up the rope until he could pull himself up into the window.
It was agonizing, but letting go meant falling and leaving Tony to fend for himself. So he kept climbing.
It used to be a barn, he decided. And what used to be a loft, was now just rafters and beams, the loft floor long since destroyed. He slid through the window and balanced on the wooden rafters. He pulled his rope up after him and coiled it around his body, resting the Iron Man case on a beam against the wall. His skilled eyes found Tony sitting in a chair towards the entrance to the building. There were two trucks parked in the barn turned garage and an SUV. They would provide good cover if he had to go to the ground. He slid his rifle off his back and rested it in the rafters as well.
Finally ready, Clint licked his lips and pulled a small black device from his pocket. There was a red switch on its side and an identically colored button on its face. He silently crouched, bracing his back against the wall. Without hesitation, he flipped the switch and pressed the button. The sound of the explosion made him turn his head to the side, trying to dampen it if only somewhat.
The panic that erupted below him was very satisfying.
Tony was lounging lazily in his small wooden chair, silently amused with how nervous his five guards were. All of them seemed ready to jump at the slightest shift in the shadows.
He hoped he was producing the nonchalant air he'd been going for. Because he felt anything but nonchalant. His calf was burning and blood hadn't stopped dripping out of it ever since the bullet had carved its tunnel. Le Roux's White Hulk had also had fun rearranging his face. Punishment for the broken nose, Tony supposed. As far as Tony could tell, nothing in his own face was broken, though. He'd always had a hard head.
Le Roux was pacing in front of the door, waiting to hear from his men that Clint had been captured or killed.
Tony knew that announcement would never come, because skulking around a base killing off bad guys was kind of his teammate's forte.
Tony was just as surprised as the rest of them by the explosion.
Le Roux ripped the door open, his men huddling behind him. They all watched slack jawed as their main building, and everyone in it went up in a ball of fire. The guards started shouting furiously about demons, which was all Tony could really glean from the rapidly spoken words. And only that much because he'd heard them use the terms many times by the recently deceased Johan when referring to his feathered teammate.
While they were at the door, a familiar red and gold case lowered from the ceiling, landing silently on the ground in front of Tony. He grinned, quickly untying the rope and sliding the case under his chair and hiding it as best he could with his legs. The rope slithered back up into the ceiling.
"You've been Hawkeyed." Tony announced, pulling their attention back to him. They all turned slowly. "But wait," Tony held up a hand, "it gets better…they say you don't hear the shot that kills you...do you think that's still true when it's an arrow instead of a bullet?"
As if on cue, a black arrow tore through one of the guard's throat.
"In die plafon!" (In the ceiling!) Le Roux shouted.
The remaining four guards raised their automatic rifles and fired into the rafters. Tony smirked as a shadow flipped and danced across the space above them, seemingly undaunted by the bullets peppering the air around it.
"Laugh it up Iron Ass, but me being able to do that," Clint pointed to the ceiling, "Will save your life someday."
Tony smiled at the memory. He was almost looking forward to being told "I told you so." He used the distraction his friend was creating to lay the case in front of him and start the process.
A second arrow felled another guard. Now there was only the White Hulk, two other guards, and Le Roux left.
Clint's shadow disappeared back into the darkness of the rafters. It was then that Le Roux turned and saw Tony, fully suited up.
"No!" Le Roux shouted.
His three men spun, firing their weapons immediately. They stopped after only a moment when they realized it was useless. The silence that followed was deafening. It was broken a few moments later by a familiar voice taunting Le Roux from the darkness.
"I tried to warn you, Le Roux...I told you this would happen."
Clint emerged from the shadows like some sort of dark warrior, arrow notched. Tony blasted the nearest guard even as an arrow killed another. Now it was just the gigantor and Le Roux.
The large man raised his gun only to have it blasted out of his hand.
Iron man shook a finger at him.
"No no…play time is over."
The man tried to pull his side arm anyway and before Tony could blast him, an arrow tore into his neck.
"Nice shot." Tony turned to Clint, who was lowering his bow. The archer nodded towards something behind Tony.
"What?" Tony turned to see Le Roux trying to flee. "Oh right…I got this one, buddy." Tony flew the few feet between himself and the man who had started all of this. "Where do you think you're going?" He asked before driving his fist into the man's temple.
Le Roux dropped, out cold.
"Well go team." Tony grinned behind his mask. He turned to Clint, ready to celebrate their victory, only to find the man leaning heavily against one of the trucks. "Clint?" He questioned, reaching him in three long strides.
"I'm good…I'm good…just need to rest a second…adrenaline is wearing off is all." Clint assured, pressing his hand against his side.
"Well sitting down is a good way to do that." Tony suggested. "Jarvis, get me Fury." He instructed he helped Clint slide to the ground and rest against the wheel of the truck.
"Yes, Mr. Stark…it is good to hear from you, the atmosphere at Stark Tower has been incredibly frantic as of late."
"I'll bet it has." Tony grumbled, waiting for his line with Fury to connect. "We did it, buddy." Tony grinned. "Well you mostly did it, but I like to think I played an integral part to the whole plan."
"You're the one that got their comms down...distracted them very effectively so they didn't kill me while I got this," Clint slid the folded map out of his pocket.
"The weapons locations."
"Got it in one, Stark." Clint smiled. "With Le Roux out of the picture, this is what we call a completed mission...you even managed to get that thing working."Clint reminded with a nod towards the HYDRA gun on the hood of one of the trucks. "Fury might even be impressed...so rest assured...you were a very integral part to the plan." He assured. He fished into his pocket for something else. "I also found something you might want back."
Tony couldn't help but smile as the archer produced his phone.
"It's one of a kind." The genius reminded, clearing his throat of the unexpected emotion that choked it. It was a small thing, in light of the last few days, but it was significant none the less.
"Yeah…kind of fits its owner, if you ask me." Clint grinned wearily.
"Now who's complimenting out of turn." Tony mock frowned, stiffening when Fury suddenly spoke in his ear.
"Stark! What the hell is going on? I want a full report!"
"No time for that, love bug, lets settle for an evacuation ASAP."
Clint raised his arm, pointing at the coordinates he'd written, before quickly returning his hand to his side.
Tony rattled off the coordinates immediately.
"Is there a reason you're calling me, Stark? Why not the Base Operator down there?"
"That leak you were worried about," Tony sighed, "Sold us out…we don't know who we can trust here."
"Understood…I'll have a chopper there in 20 minutes…where's Barton?"
"He's here," Tony replied, glancing down at his friend with a grin.
Clint was blinking sluggishly, and his hand had fallen away from his side. Where Tony had thought he'd been supporting his broken ribs, he'd been covering a bullet wound instead. A bullet wound that had painted his side and the ground beneath him red.
Of all the stupid things not to mention...
"Clint?" Tony reached for his shoulder, shaking him as roughly as he dared.
"Stark, what's wrong?"
"Barton's wounded, we need that evacuation now." Tony snapped, looking around for anything to stop the blood flow.
"It's on its way, but it can only get there so fast." Fury replied. "Stark…how bad?"
"He's shot. I don't know, Fury…it's been a hell of a couple days."
"Barton's as stubborn as they come…this is one of the few situations where that's a good thing...keep him awake and he'll do the rest."
"Just get someone here."
Tony disconnected the call and slid the helmet of the suit back, so he could look Clint in the eye.
"Hey! Barton! Stay awake!" Tony snapped.
"I'm awake...and it's Clint, now...remember?" Clint mumbled, blinking wearily at him. The unfocused gaze sharpened suddenly. "You're hurt." He frowned.
"I didn't like the way my face was arranged anyway." Tony shrugged the bruises and cuts on his face away and redirecting instead, "Why didn't you say something about the bullet in your side, huh, Clint? That's the kind of thing you're supposed to share with the class."
"I can take it." Clint breathed, hissing as Tony forced him to press his own hand against his wound again.
"What is that? Like, your catch phrase?" Tony teased, "I ought to get it on a shirt for you." He forced a light laugh as he held Clint's hand against the bullet hole.
"I'd wear that." Clint grinned a little.
"Consider it done." Tony decided. "Hey, why don't you tell me about a mission you went on where you didn't get tortured or injured in any way?"
"Zurich, '09." Clint replied after a moment's thought.
"What, is that the only one?" Tony frowned, "That can't be the only one."
"Okay…two is a start…we need to work on that record, buddy…that can't be healthy."
"Could be worse." Clint shrugged minutely.
"Really? How do you figure?"
"I could've been killed a whole lot sooner than now."
"You say that like you're planning on checking out of the game, Clint…you can't do that, not right now."
"Don't make plans, Tony, remember?"
"Well you can plan to stick around. I'm not going to be the one to explain to Romanoff why I let you get yourself killed."
Clint managed a small smile.
"She'd be pissed."
"Yeah…she'd probably drag your ass out of hell just so she could send you back."
"She'd never forgive me for leaving her." Clint sighed.
"Then don't leave." Tony demanded seriously. Recognizing his friend didn't have 20 minutes to wait. He slid the helmet back into place. "And don't ever take a job in South Africa again."
Clint's lips curled up slightly at that. He'd thought that same thing several times over the last few days.
He heard Tony call his name, but didn't have the strength to respond anymore. His body rarely reached a point where it decided it had had enough. This, apparently, was one of those points. Two days of torture and a heavily bleeding gunshot wound weren't a good mix. Not in this country. He was beginning to think South Africa really did have it out for him.
He felt something hard slip behind his back and under his knees, but couldn't process what it was.
His last thought, as he drifted into unconsciousness, was that Natasha was going to kill him for getting shot again.
Clint woke on something not exactly soft, but not exactly hard. He'd been on SHIELD infirmary mattresses enough to recognize them. The fever that had plagued him for so long was gone. The constant pain in his side was muted and he could breath, not quite easily, but not with the same difficulty as before. The bullet wound emanated no more than a dull ache.
Pain kept him sharp and focused. He blamed those drugs for the fact that he didn't notice the people in the room until one of them spoke.
"Stop playing possum, Feather Head."
Clint opened his eyes, blinking at the harsh lights of the infirmary room.
"Welcome back…I told the doctors you did this all the time and not to be concerned, but they ignored me."
Instead of responding, Clint slowly pushed himself up so he wasn't flat on his back anymore. He assessed Tony with his eyes, taking in the dark bruising on his face and the stitched cut on his cheekbone.
"If you're wondering how I managed to get away mostly unscathed, you can blame yourself."
Clint blinked, reaching for his IV.
"You know there are these amazing things called words…I've been told even you know how to use them." Tony mused, watching with interest as Clint freed himself from the many things entangling him to the bed.
"How long?" His voice came out gravely and rough.
Clint arched an eyebrow. It could be worse and that explained why his throat felt like sandpaper. He slowly eased himself into an upright position, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. It was then that he saw Pepper sleeping in a chair in the corner of the room.
"Where do you think you're going?"
Clint's head swiveled, staring wide eyed at Bruce as he walked into the room. He was about to ask when the doctor got there, but he noticed the guards standing at the door before the words made it to his mouth.
"What's going on?" Clint demanded.
"Collins ran…'went to ground' was the term Fury kept using…apparently we weren't supposed to come back from our little foray into hell." Tony answered as Bruce forced Clint back into bed. It was unreasonably easy, and again, Clint blamed the drugs. And the fact that 'swiveling' his head was too much movement at this juncture.
"And the guards?"
"You and I are the only witnesses to what Collins has been up to…I hacked his network and Fury's guys are looking for evidence and it's taking a while...apparently Collins wasn't stupid, no matter what his behavior dictates." Tony informed as he leafed through Clint's chart. "They even redact your medical history…seems like overkill." He mused.
"Natasha and Steve are on their way… their flight should land within the hour." Bruce announced once he had Clint's IV back in place.
"Does she know I got shot?" Clint demanded.
"Yeah, I gave her and Steve the fully low down." Bruce replied.
"You're gonna be in so much trouble." Tony grinned mockingly. Clint glared and changed the subject.
"They think Collins will make a move?" He guessed at the reason he had armed guards posted at his door.
"It's just a precaution," Bruce assured, "they don't know if he had anybody working with him."
Clint nodded, sinking back into his pillows, suddenly feeling exhausted.
"In holding." Tony assured. He was confused when Clint's eyes widened.
"He should be dead...he needs to be dead. That was the mission."
"Clint...Fury is more than satisfied with having him in custody, having the HYDRA weapon, and having that map...he even told me good job."
"But Le Roux..." Clint argued, frowning at Bruce when he suddenly felt his eyes drooping. The man moved his hand away from the morphine drip without a hint of remorse on his face.
"Sleep, Clint…we've got your back…you can stand down now." Tony assured quietly. Clint thought he might have nodded again, but he was asleep before he could be sure.
"What the hell happened out there?" Bruce asked Tony quietly, not for the first time.
"A little of this, a little of that…run of the mill covert super spy stuff."
"Run of the mill?" Bruce challenged, shooting a meaningful look at the formerly half dead agent between them.
"Yeah…concerning isn't it." Tony mused as he worked on his laptop. Bruce sighed, sinking into a nearby chair. Tony kept clicking away; trying to dig up evidence of Collin's betraying SHIELD. Fury may have techs doing it, but Tony wanted to make sure they didn't miss anything. Collins wasn't getting away, not after all this. Not after he'd watched Clint get tortured for two days and then had to fly him bridal style back to the SHIELD base so he didn't bleed to death.
Collins was getting buried. Tony would make sure of it.
"How much longer." Natasha snapped at the pilot.
"Ten minutes." The man replied with a sigh. It hadn't been the first time she'd asked.
"We're almost there, Natasha." Steve assured quietly. "And Bruce said Clint was going to be fine."
"I know that!" She nearly snarled. She just needed to see him for herself that was all.
They'd gotten back from Kiev to find Stark Tower empty of everyone but Jarvis. It hadn't taken Natasha long to get Fury on the phone and find out what happened. They'd been on the next flight out of the country.
Natasha, who had been the very picture of calm throughout the entire mission in Kiev, hadn't been able to sit still for the entire flight. She'd asked the pilot two dozen times how much longer until their flight landed. Steve had reminded her, many times, that Bruce had called before their flight took off to tell them that Clint would be fine. He was out of the woods, and should wake up soon. That hadn't helped calm the master assassin, though. If anything, it had made her more anxious to get to her partner's side.
Steve couldn't deny, as he watched the SHIELD base in South Africa come into view, that he hadn't been able to push the worry from his mind either since Fury had given them the basics of the situation. Even Bruce's call hadn't helped. Nothing about Clint and Tony being captured, the archer tortured, shot and unconscious was anywhere close to putting his mind at ease. Out of the woods or not.
Natasha was out of the jet before the bay doors had even fully opened. Steve was hot on her heels as they tore through the South African SHIELD base and headed to the infirmary.
Tony looked up from his laptop when Clint shifted suddenly.
"Tasha." The archer breathed, his storm colored eyes opening and turning towards the door a moment before the black clad, fire haired assassin came into view. A cold glare kept the guards from checking her ID. Steve was following behind her, offering an apologetic smile as he too, moved past them without explanation.
"Clint." Natasha was at his side in a blur of motion. Her hand went to his hair as she leaned to meet his eyes.
"Danko?" he asked immediately, his eyes surveying her for any obvious injuries.
"Dealt with." She assured with a cocky smirk. Clint grinned, shifting a little where he had curled onto his uninjured side.
"With prejudice?" He asked.
"Of course." Natasha grinned, her eyes tracking the bruises on his face and his exposed torso. Her jaw clenched at the multiple white bandages taped over what she knew to be minor electrical burns. Her lips pressed together at the sight of the thick bandage on his side with a light red stain bleeding through the center of it.
"If I could find a part of you that didn't look injured, I'd hit you right now for getting shot again." She hissed angrily, her eyes dark. "мудак."
"Tasha…I'm good, I swear." He defended, wincing a little at the nasty name. She was pissed at him. He must have really scared her.
"You're not good." She snapped. Her dark glare turned to Tony, who held his hands up in defense.
"Hey, the whole get captured on purpose thing was his idea…I was strongly against it."
"Thank you." She stated sharply and unpredictably.
"For not letting this идиот go alone and get himself killed." She turned her glare to Clint, who shrugged unconcerned. Идиот was one of her nicer Russian insults, so she was calming down.
"I'm glad you're okay, Clint." Steve spoke up from where he stood at the foot of the bed.
"I'm fine too, thanks for asking...what the hell?" Tony sat up suddenly, typing furiously on his laptop.
"What is it?" Clint demanded, instantly alert. Natasha pushed him back down into his pillows.
"Somebody is clearing out Collins' hard drive…"
"Can you stop it?" Bruce questioned.
"If I could stop it, I would have just done that…" Tony drawled. "And the expletive would have been unnecessary."
Bruce rolled his eyes.
"You'd couldn't do that remotely, could you?" Clint asked, bracing his hand against his side as he shifted.
"No." Tony assured, still typing furiously. He froze abruptly, wide eyes rising to look at Clint.
"Well go." Clint motioned towards the door. "Or do I have to do all the work?"
"He has to be on the base." Tony informed the rest of the team.
"Let's move…Natasha…" Steve turned to the red head.
"I'm staying here." She decided, her hand white around the rail of Clint's bed.
Steve nodded, leading the rest of the group out of the room, except for Pepper who slept on unaware in her chair.
"Tasha…" Clint pushed himself up, pulling out his IV. "My bow…"
"Where is it?" She demanded, putting a hand under his elbow to help him stand.
"Under the mattress."
Natasha didn't hesitate in lifting the mattress and pulling out his bow. She didn't ask how he slept with it making the mattress lumpy. She knew he felt safer with it nearby.
"Arrows?" She questioned.
"Some loose ones under the pillows…quiver's in the closet."He replied, wincing as he made his way to the door. She helped him slide his quiver strap over his head.
"Can you do use this with broken ribs and a bullet wound?" She questioned, moving over to Pepper. She arched an eyebrow at the look he gave her. "Forget I asked." She really should have known better, she admitted to herself ruefully.
Natasha quietly woke Pepper and told her the situation, instructing her firmly to stay in this room. Then she was at Clint's side, listening as he ordered the guards not to let anyone but an Avenger or Fury through that door.
They moved as one, skulking through the halls, covering each other as they cleared room by room.
"You think Collins will get past them?" Natasha murmured as she peaked around a corner. Her partner was leaning against the wall next to her, breathing heavily and sweating.
"I think they've got Collins more than covered…it's Le Roux I'm worried about." Clint replied, trying to keep his hands from shaking where they held an arrow notched.
"You think he's still a threat?"
"The guy knows Fourie, Tasha…I'm going to assume the worst in everything about him until proven otherwise."
Natasha blinked at that.
"Was he in contact with him?" She demanded.
"I don't know." He admitted, "But he had been at some point...we need to get to holding." Clint decided, running through the building schematics in his head.
"Which way?" Natasha demanded, knowing he'd have memorized the building layout before he ever stepped foot in it.
He pointed and moved; she followed closely at his back.
Tony, Steve, and Bruce slowed to a stop outside Collins' closed office door.
"He's still there..." Tony whispered, "Files are still disappearing." He was studying the screen of his phone, typing things rapidly.
"Let's get him." Steve started forward, but Tony stopped him.
"Wait...I got this...if you'll just get the door."
Steve hesitated before nodding. He stepped back, bracing himself. Then slammed his foot into the door. It burst out of its frame, splintering to the ground. Tony strode into the room, where Collins was staring wide eyed.
"Hi there." Tony smiled widely. "It's the damndest thing...I was going through your computer..." He held up his phone for emphasis, "and found an interesting compilation of deleted and encrypted files...I haven't decrypted them yet...but something tells me you won't like what I find."
"I wiped the hard drive...even the deleted files are gone." Collins shot back, raising his side arm to point at Tony. "You don't have anything."
"Oh no?" Tony ignored the gun and held his phone out flat, tapping the screen so a file was projected into the open space above it. "You don't try to out tech the guy who defines modern technology...I had this saved to my own mobile network as soon as I found it...you're done Collins."
Collins eyes bulged and he looked momentarily manic.
"You were supposed to die out there...I was supposed to just walk away." He waved his gun threateningly.
"Well that plan is off the table...and stop waving that thing around...what are you going to do, shoot me? I've got a green friend in the hall that won't take that too well...and let's just say, you won't like how he reacts."
As if on cue, Bruce and Steve stepped into the room.
"You're under arrest, Collins." Steve informed, moving to take the gun from Collins limp grasp and restrain him.
"Nice job, Tony." Bruce praised.
"I am getting better at this super spy thing...now we best get to the holding cells before Barton collapses."
"What?" Steve asked wide eyed.
"You really bought that whole weak as a kitten, going to stay in bed, crap... guaranteed he was headed for Le Roux the moment we left. That guy doesn't leave a mission unfinished."
"Let's go." Steve instructed.
"Just one thing first." Tony stepped up to the restrained Collins and punched him square in the nose. The man stumbled back a step, wavered, and then collapsed unconscious, his broken nose bleeding down his chin.
Clint let Natasha take the lead once they had the holding cells in sight. Getting up and going on this excursion less than an hour after waking from a three day coma wasn't his brightest idea. The only reason his hands weren't shaking was through pure force of will. But his head was pounding, reminding him he was recovering from a fairly serious concussion. The sheer energy it took just to breathe reminded him he had broken ribs, the exact number of which he wasn't entirely sure. And on top of that, he'd been shot, beaten and electrocuted. If there was ever a time he was okay with her taking the lead, it was now.
Because the only word he could think of to describe how he felt right now…was shit. Shit that had been shot, beaten, and electrocuted.
Natasha spun over to the opposite side of the door, motioning him that they'd move on the count of three. He nodded, putting his hand on the door handle. She counted down with her fingers, and he pulled the door open. She led the way, gun up. He was behind her a second later, bow drawn and pointing at Le Roux's heart.
"Don't move." Natasha snarled, her eyes promising death if disobeyed. Le Roux stood frozen behind the bars of his cell; his former SHIELD guard was propped against the bars at his feet, neck broken.
The Russian assassin trained her gun on Le Roux's forehead. This was the man that had put Clint into a three day coma. The man that had taken pleasure in causing him pain. The reason that his breaths were coming in sharp, labored gasps right now and sweat was dripping in rivers down his face and chest. The reason the bandage over his bullet wound was soaked through with blood. She almost pulled the trigger right then.
"Tasha, cameras." Clint warned, reading her thoughts.
"Looking a little weak, Agent Barton. Did my hospitality not agree with you?" Le Roux taunted.
"Just give me a god damned reason, Shit Head." Clint snarled. "Hell, I'd settle for half a reason."
"I'd settle for the thought of a reason." Natasha added with a predatory arch to her eyebrow.
"Tasha," Clint smirked, "do you feel threatened by this man?"
"Immensely." She answered without missing a beat.
"Sounds like due cause to put an arrow through your heart…" Clint shrugged slightly, glaring at Le Roux. "I've got to protect my partner."
"You do not look like you have the strength to shoot me." Le Roux snarled. Clint's eyes narrowed.
"Why don't you ask your dead friends how strong I need to be?"
"I see now why Fourie calls you a demon." Le Roux hissed. "You hide in the shadow and kill from afar… lafaard."
Natasha's eyes darkened.
"I changed my mind, Tasha, screw the cameras…let's shoot the bastard." Clint growled.
"Fine by me…looks to me like he's about to go for that dead guard's gun." She smiled darkly.
"Nobody will believe you…" Le Roux pointed out with the smirk of a man who thought he'd won. "I am still behind these bars...I am no threat and the cameras will prove it...you'll be murders."
"I've been worse." Natasha hissed, nodding at Clint that she would back his play.
"I just have one question." Clint looked at the man intensely. "Fourie?"
Le Roux smirked.
"Knew the moment you landed."
Clint's heart rate rocketed, increasing the pounding in his head.
"He sends his regards…says he's watching and he'll see you soon." Le Roux added. The words were barely out of his mouth before a bullet ripped into his forehead. An arrow stopped his heart from beating in the same breath.
"You can send my regards when you see him in hell." Clint instructed darkly. He glanced at Natasha, who had already holstered her gun. "Gonna be hard to explain."
"He should have kept his mouth shut." She defended, glancing at the cameras.
"Good thing we know a guy that can hack anything…hopefully Tony will help us out."
"Tony?" She quirked an eyebrow at the usage of the other man's first name.
"Long story." He sighed.
"You can tell me later, мой сокол." (my hawk) She allowed, coming to his side and pulling his arm over her shoulders. She was immediately concerned when she had to take more of his weight than she'd expected. His body was too hot against her side. The fever Bruce had said was gone, was apparently trying for a repeat performance.
"Why do you two get to have all the fun?" Tony complained as he stepped into the room. "Guess we can call this case closed," He clapped his hands together, "We got Collins...do you want to kill him too, or are you good now?" He smirked.
"You killed him?" Steve asked frowning thoughtfully as he, too, joined them.
"No choice." Natasha snapped, daring him to argue.
"Self defense all the way, Cap." Clint backed her up.
He looked back and forth between them, his heart at war with his mind. One look at the way Clint was almost fully supported by Natasha ended the battle.
"It's unfortunate, then, that the camera footage was destroyed. Wouldn't you say, Tony?" Steve glanced at the genius meaningfully. The billionaire smirked, phone already in hand.
3 weeks later…
"Steak!" Bruce voted.
"Lasagna!" Steve tossed out, leaning over the counter as if his closer proximity would influence Clint to go with his choice.
"Burgers." Tony piped up.
"Spaghetti!" Pepper chirped happily, ignoring Tony's eye roll.
"He made you spaghetti yesterday." Tony reminded.
Natasha leaned into Clint's space and kissed him deeply.
"Enchiladas." She purred.
"I was craving some Mexican." Clint smirked.
"Why do we even bother suggesting anything?" Tony threw his hands up in frustration. "I mean, come on, Clint, I thought we bonded? All that near death stuff…and whatever."
"I was the one near death, not you." Clint arched an eyebrow.
"It was a close call for all of us...and emotional roller coaster of sorts. What with all that bonding and trying to keep you from dying." Tony insisted, then he straightened, "The food will be done in time for movie night right?" Tony asked in concern. "This is the night your cinema education begins after all."
"Tony," Clint sighed, "You own Top Gun. We can start it whenever we want."
"But that defeats the whole purpose of setting a show time."
"And that's why I told you a show time was stupid." Clint shot back, silencing Tony's reply with a look.
He moved gingerly over to the pantry, searching for the proper ingredients. Steve was at his side in seconds, obediently reaching for things as Clint pointed them out. Natasha started cleaning the chicken the way Clint had showed her with Pepper chattering happily next to her. Bruce opened the fridge, looking to the archer for instructions on what to get.
"Tony!" Clint called from where he'd moved over to help Bruce at the fridge.
The billionaire looked up in time to catch a bottle of beer flying towards his face. He caught it easily, arching an eyebrow. Clint held up a bottle of his own, tipping it slightly in silent salute. Tony returned the gesture with a grin. He used the counter to remove his cap and took a drink. Clint was about to do the same when Natasha was suddenly next to him, pulling it out of his hand.
"You're still on meds." She scolded. "I however am not." She grinned, raising the bottle to Tony and taking a drink herself. Tony laughed.
"And that's what they call whipped…and by the way, I'm so never going back to South Africa."
He got a chorus of affirmations and agreements from around the kitchen.
Clint moved carefully over to lean against the counter next to Tony, having assigned everybody temporary jobs in the meal prep. Tony smiled at the archer's black t-shirt with "I can take it." written in scrawly neon purple letters across the front and a screen printed quiver stretched across the back in the same color.
"Have the figured out where Le Roux got the HYDRA weapon yet?" Tony asked curiously.
"Well according to the diary they found on Le Roux..."
"He had a diary?"
"He labeled it his memoirs...You don't want to know where they found it." Clint shuddered, "Anyways...when he said a contact in Germany, he failed to mention that it was his father's contact from back in World War Two. Le Roux's pop sided with the Nazi's and wanted to get in on the ground floor of HYDRA distribution...the weapon has been in South Africa for decades, lost in one of Le Roux Seniors weapons stashes in Namibia. Le Roux found it six months ago. Fury's got a team looking into other possible stashes in Namibia." Clint shrugged as if the information didn't really mean much to him.
"How does he know Fourie? Did his memoirs mention that?" Tony asked seriously. He didn't know who this Fourie guy was, or what Clint had done to merit the guy's hate. But anybody that put a man like Clint Barton on edge like Fourie did was worth avoiding.
"Apparently they know each other because Le Roux uses Fourie's ships to move weapons." Clint replied, his voice tense.
"I'll hack SHIELD again. Get a list of the guy's aliases and his picture. I can create a program to let us know if he sets foot in the country."
Clint smiled at Tony's protectiveness.
"You don't need to hack SHIELD again. Fury warned you about that. Besides, I know all of his aliases and have his picture."
Tony gave him a wary glance. Clint was, by far, the most mysterious and paranoid person he'd ever met. Except for maybe Romanoff, but he was too scared of her to try and figure out any of her mystery. He took a drink from his beer and changed the subject.
"So, Big Bird...I've got our Iron Man-Hawkeye theme song."
"Why can't it be Hawkeye-Iron Man?" Clint countered, sipping his orange juice Natasha had given him to replace his confiscated beer.
"Semantics..." Tony waved his concern away.
"What is it?"
"Trust me...you're gonna love it."
South African Coast
Josia Fourie stalked into a small dark room, lit only by a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling.
"Show me." He growled, using English because it was the only language his associate knew.
"These were taken three weeks ago."
He held out a small stack of 8x10 photographs. Fourie flipped through them quickly, stopping on the last one. His countenance darkened.
"Is this all?" He snarled angrily. Three week old photos of Clint Barton boarding a jet to leave South Africa did him no good.
"These," The man held out another stack of photos, "were taken a week ago."
Fourie smiled darkly, as he stared at several photos of Clint Barton leaving what looked like a SHIELD compound. In a few of the photos he was alone, but in most of them, he had the famous Black Widow walking closely with him.
"Where?" He demanded.
"The compound is in upstate New York…we don't know where he's living…he could be in the city or in the country…we just don't know."
"You have done well." Fourie praised roughly, stepping farther into the light, revealing a harsh dark scar on his neck from an arrow that should have killed him over three years ago. "But your services are no longer needed." Without another word, he struck out with a knife, stabbing it into the man's throat.
As the man fell to the ground gurgling, Fourie spread the photos out on the table against the wall. He focused in on a close up of Clint Barton's face as he looked over his shoulder while boarding a jet to leave South Africa. It was as if the man felt he was being watched. Fourie had no doubt he did. Abruptly, he stabbed his bloody knife into Clint's forehead.
"We will meet again, duiwel…and I will take your life as you took my fathers."
Fourie gathered the photos, sheathing his knife. He would bide his time, and when the moment was right, he would have his revenge.
End of Trust
That was the longest chapter I'd written yet. I just couldn't find a place I wanted to break it up that would make one of the chapters much shorter, so you got the whole thing :)
Shahar Mystral provided the history lesson about South Africa and WWII mentioned by Clint. Apparently there were many South Africans that sided with Germany during WWII and made the trek to German South West Africa, which is modern day Namibia. As you remember, this is where Le Roux's father had his weapon stashes.
The Hawkeye-Iron Man (or Iron Man-Hawkeye) theme song is hidden (not very subtly) in the chapter titles :) Give it a listen and be inspired...PM me if you can't figure it out :)
Those who are now vainly wishing they'd voted for the sequel to Trust as my next story, don't be too dismayed. It will come eventually! In it, we will find out what went down with the original Fourie mission. When it comes, it will be entitled "The Heart Bleeds". The poll decided which story would be next and I'm also using it to determine the order I do the rest of the stories in :) That process keeps me from being ADD with my ideas and forces me to stay focused on one story at a time.
Now my next story is in the works! However, I am leaving for a week of much needed vacation Friday! There's no internet where I'm going so I won't be able to post until I get back :( But I intend to finish my next story and hopefully most of the following one as well, so I'll stay productive:)
Without further gilding of the lily and with no more ado (hugs if you can figure out what movie that's from)
I give you the summary for "Youngest in History"
18 year old Clint Barton was lost. Known only by Hawkeye since his escape from military prison, he works as a deadly assassin for hire. But an unpredicted betrayal and an unexpected offer bring him to SHIELD. And Agent Phil Coulson will volunteer to take on the daunting task of rescuing Clint from his own darkness...and will end up giving the young archer the most valuable gift in the process...hope.