Recruitment part 7
by SLynn

Clint had never been a heavy sleeper, even drunk, and the slightest noises tended to wake him, no matter the hour. So, when he heard the front door click open just after seven that morning, after just about three hours of sleep, he was wide awake and called out, "Shooting people isn't how I like to start my day."

"It's just us," he heard Steve reply, and Clint , who really did have a gun already drawn and ready to go, let out a sigh and shook his head.

"Who's us?" he asked, almost dreading the answer.

"Bruce and I," Steve answered, pushing the door open. "May we come in?"

"You seem to have already done that," Clint returned, putting the gun back in its hiding spot, behind his headboard, before setting to work on his boots, which he'd never gotten off that night.

"For arguments sake," Bruce said, stepping into the room and leaning against the wall nearest the door, "how many weapons do you have stashed around the Tower?"

"Enough," Clint answered, which obviously didn't please anyone, so he explained. "First thing you do in a safe house is keep it safe. Make sure you can defend it. Know the exits. The weak spots. Stuff like that."

"That part of SHIELD training?" Bruce asked.

"I actually thought it was just common sense," Clint fired back at him, in no mood to go another twenty rounds of 'This is Your Life' right now. His head was pounding and his whole body ached. Clint had a vague memory of Thor picking him up, and now he wondered if he'd also thrown him down at some point in time.

"It is, if you're expecting an attack," Steve agreed. "Or, if you're expecting to run."

"I've already told Tony that I think his security systems are weak," Clint countered. "And I'm always expecting an attack. But, no, I'm not running."

"Good," Steve said, coming further into the room and sitting down on the edge of the bed, "because we've been talking and... I want to be honest with you. I don't know what Tony offered you or said to you last night, but I'd told him that I thought it was best for you to leave."

"Okay," Clint said with a nod, appreciating the honesty if nothing else. "What about you?" he asked, turning to Bruce.

"I told Tony it was his call, but personally... I agreed with Steve."

"I don't suppose you're both here to tell me you've changed your minds," Clint said with a laugh as he ran his hands over his face in an effort to wake up a bit more. It was way too early for this.

"Yes," Steve said with a nod of his own. "That's exactly why we're here."

"So, you had a good night's sleep, a nice breakfast, and a complete change of heart?"

"No," Bruce answered. "We talked, after Tony left, and then some more when he came back for Thor and... and it wasn't really fair. Any of this. You work for SHIELD. Of course you can't tell us everything, they're a secret organization and we're not a part of it."

"Just... just stop," Clint said, waving his hands in the air. "Sharing time is over. I'm... I'm done. Tony didn't make me any offers. I'm not going to tell SHIELD anything about what is happening here because... because I'm done."

"Done?" Steve asked, not sure he understood exactly what Clint meant by that.

"Yes, done. As in... done with SHIELD. Honestly, I don't know how that's going to work. I have no idea what I'm going to do. If Tony asks, yes, I'd accept. I kind of like it here and... and I want to do this. I want to be a part of it. Had things been different... If the man who should have been in charge of this for SHIELD was still around, then things would be different. But he's gone and he's why I was with SHIELD in the first place so... so, I have no reason to stay."

"What about Natasha?" Bruce asked quietly.

Clint shook his head. "I don't know. I've known her for eight years and every day she surprises me so... I don't know. You're guess is as good as mine. I've asked. I'll keep asking but..." He trailed off, not wanting to talk about it anymore. Clint had talked more in the last twenty-four hours than he'd previously talked in the course of a whole year.

"And if Tony doesn't ask?" Steve asked, because he felt he needed to know.

"Assuming SHIELD doesn't leave me in a ditch, well... if he wants me gone, I'll leave. If I'm in a good enough mood, I may even tell him where I've hidden all my weapons first. I've got enough money stashed away to take care of myself and... I don't know. I don't have a plan and I guess I'll figure something out."

"And what if he asked you to take a position in Stark Industries?" Tony asked from the doorway, still in his pajamas and looking only half awake.

"I told you, I'm not going to be your bodyguard," Clint answered. "Learn to block a punch already."

"Stop catching me off guard and I might," Tony countered, coming into the room and laying on the bed without any preamble.

"How did you know we were here?" Steve asked, scooting over slightly so he could look Tony in the eyes.

"JARVIS told me," Tony answered. "Said you asked him to override Barton's door lock."

"That's exactly what I was telling you about, Tony," Clint snapped. "That's the exact opposite of secure."

"Don't insult JARVIS," Tony fired back at him. "He only does that for officially recognized voices. But not for my room, so don't get any ideas."

"So we can all just ask to get into each other's rooms?" Steve asked, to which Tony nodded in the affirmative.

"I'm not real sure I like that," Bruce said.

"It's only for emergencies," Tony assured him.

"Emergencies like accosting me in my sleep?" Clint asked, shaking his head.

"Calm down," Tony said. "There are kinks, I admit, but that's why I need you to work for me. I need someone who can point out these flaws and help fix them. I need a head of security."


"Don't," Tony said, quick to interrupt him. "Don't say yes or no or anything right now. We can talk about it later, when the room stops spinning. Hey, I'm curious, did Thor throw you last night? I think he did, but it's kind of a blur."

"Tony, I really can't -"

"As your future employer, I order you to stop talking," Tony said, getting to his feet and stretching. "We can't have you slipping back into a life of crime once you tell Fury to shove it. Also, someone needs to make this place defendable. I'm pretty certain that someone should be you. And, I pay well. There's health care. Dental. A nice retirement package. Oh, and you'll only have to carry my bags when Happy isn't around. There are other parts of the job we can discuss later but... yeah, that's about it."

"I don't really get a say in this, do I?"

"No," Tony said with a smile. "Who's hungry? I'm famished. Let's get pancakes. Come on."

Tony threw an arm around Bruce and pulled him from the room, leaving Clint and Steve momentarily behind where they both seemed frozen in place.

Steve let out a laugh and shrugged his shoulders. "Are you going to hire all of us, Tony?" he asked as he set out after them.

"Just the beautiful people," Tony answered. "You and He-Man are on your own. But Bruce... I think we can squeeze you into the company somewhere."

Clint didn't hear Bruce's entire response, but enough to know he was gently refusing. He also knew enough to guess that Tony wasn't going to take no from Bruce any more than he had from Clint. For a moment, he didn't realize that he wasn't alone. Steve had stopped. "You coming?" he asked from the doorway.

"I'm not exactly... dressed," Clint commented, giving himself a once over for emphasis.

"Neither is Stark," Steve returned with a shrug. "But, apparently we're getting pancakes so..."

Clint shrugged as well and followed Steve out the door and down the hall after Tony and Bruce, but just missing them on the elevator.

As they waited on the next one, Steve grew serious again. "I want to trust you. We all make mistakes and it's not my place to judge you or offer forgiveness. But this... this isn't going to be easy."

"I know," Clint said with a nod. "And I don't expect you to just start believing everything I say or do. That'll take time, for all of us. And given what... given the person I was, I understand if it takes a little more time with me. I'm just asking for a chance to prove myself."

"Fair enough," Steve said, holding out his hand for Clint to shake.

Clint hesitated a moment, eyebrow raised in disbelief, before relenting and grabbing the other man's hand. "You shake on everything, don't you?"

"I do."

"Okay then," Clint said with a smile.

For a moment there was silence, until the elevator finally rang and opened before them.

"Where'd you two go?" Tony asked, still on the elevator with Bruce. They'd apparently picked up Thor along the way, which wasn't a surprise since food was involved. "You were supposed to be right behind us. What gives?"

"You walk fast," Clint said, getting on board just after Steve.

"Okay, sure, I walk fast. But what if there had been a terrorist attack? You just let me get away from you and I could have died. That's a horrible way to start a new job, Barton."

"I don't work for you yet, Tony," Clint said as he leaned into the back corner of the elevator.

"Not yet," Tony said, making room for Steve as he pushed the correct button, "and if every former SHIELD agent has as much of an attitude as you do, I may have to widen my recruitment pool."

"If Fury has anything to say about it you'll definitely have to widen your recruitment pool," Clint countered. "He's not going to be happy about this."

"He's never happy," Tony shrugged. "And, I'll leave the rest of his agents alone. Maybe."

They continued the ride down to the garage in silence. Tony, not content to eat pancakes in his own kitchen, was evidentially taking them all out to eat. Apparently, he did not care that he was still in his pajamas, or that Clint wasn't wearing shoes, or that Bruce and Steve had obviously not slept or changed since the previous night. Thor was the only one of them reasonably attired, but since he was twice the size of a normal person, he drew stares no matter where he went. Not that it mattered; pancakes mattered at the moment, and nothing else.

Well, almost nothing else.

"So," Tony said as the doors slid open, "two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar."

"Are you serious?" Steve asked, shaking his head as he strode ahead of the group towards the waiting car.

"I do not understand your Midgardian humor," Thor commented, still getting there ahead of Steve, before squeezing himself into the car. "But I like your pancakes."

"If you expect me to listen to this all the time, I quit now," Clint said, following Steve into the car.

"What?" Tony called after them. "It's a good joke."

"Tony," Bruce said, stopping him and shaking his head. "No one wants to hear your joke."

"Are you sure because -"

"I'm positive," Bruce interrupted, breaking into a rare, full smile before getting into the car after the others.

Tony sighed and shook his head.

"You could have just told me you'd heard it."

The End.

Notes: A few things about this fic. Obviously, I based as much as I could off of comic book canon for Hawkeye. I may have changed a few things or omitted a few details, but it's a great backstory and this is my take on it. Another thing is that I wrote this as one gigantic fic and, because it was so long, felt the need to break it up. If it felt choppy, or cliff-hanger-y (that's a word, right?) I apologize, that wasn't my intent. However, I think 18000+ words in one sitting is kind of a lot, so I did what I thought was necessary. This was my first ever use of flashbacks and I'm happy with the outcome. I've started drafting the next two pieces to this series, so hopefully... soon! Thanks!