Oh my god, I went there. I wrote het. And I have nothing to say for myself.
Title: Leave None to Draw Asunder
Summary: His one saving grace was his aim. Sharp, deadly, and merciless. He's SHIELD's weapon to wield. A battering ram, made to be splintered and broken. The minute he ceases to be useful, he's gone.
Warnings: Migraines, panic attacks, vomit, blindness, acute medical emergencies, run-on sentences, overuse of commas, language and fluff. Oh god, the fluff. Not beta'd, sorry for the mistakes!
Disclaimer: Not mine. Please don't sue.
Notes: Written for a request for blind!Clint from avenger kink at live journal.
This Clint is a little different than the one you'll find in If It Ain't Broke. I'm having a hell of a time reconciling Comics!Clint and Movieverse!Clint so as a result they take turns showing up as I'm writing. I wrote this fic using comic!Clint background.
Researched from the internet and my own health profession background. Super reliable, I know.
Clint doesn't like to advertise it, but every once a while he does miss a shot.
Growing up in the circus, a missed shot in practice meant 3 hours of cleaning the menagerie. A missed shot during a show meant he didn't get to eat that night.
Once he joined SHIELD, a missed shot could mean someone's life. Back in the beginning when being handpicked straight out of basic meant he was all mouth and no brains, it almost did mean someone's life.
He had spent an extra second to finish mouthing off to his handler and all hell had broken loose. He'd lost the mark in the ensuing chaos and had spotted him again just in time to stop him from gutting an agent from behind. Out here, there was no redo. Clint learns to keep his mouth shut pretty quick after that.
He's known his sight and his visual memory to be something special since he was little, when it would bring his father's hand firm onto his shoulder, squeezing in approval when he brought home rabbits for dinner. It was also the one thing that brought out his mother's weary smile, in between the black eyes and bruised cheeks.
In SHIELD, they rip that apart, rip you apart then piece you back together bit by bit, every inch honed into a weapon. Clint's drilled in everything from espionage to open warfare. Battlefield tactics and strategies. Focus and dedication. He learns sniper rifles, throwing knives, and in one memorable lesson, even how to pick up a stapler and make it dangerous.
And once they find out he never finished high school, they start him in math and physics, teaching concepts past the university level. The knowledge is applied in angles and trajectories, wind speeds, and compensating for movement then grilled into him until he can calculate the variables while half dead and bleeding into the concrete. They take what used to be instinct and practice and turn it into something controlled and calculated. Something deadly.
A straightforward target has become too easy for him for years. Even since before he joined SHIELD, in fact. In the circus everything is about being fancier and showier so Clint came to SHIELD already able to shoot several arrows one after another in the span of seconds, bank shots, and reliably shoot a stationary target without looking at it. During his circus years, he sharpen those skills until he could place everything in a scene after just a glance. When SHIELD discovered that, they worked with him to learn how to analyze the scene as he went so his mind was not only taking in, but processing, calculating, and extrapolating as he went along. Clint can sight an enemy and pick them out of the air while already sighting the next.
In his fifth year, he teams up with Natasha and suddenly it's a whole new ball game. He learns how to keep track of her at all times, compensate for her movements, and together they how to work with seamless precision.
Being as he was the one who originally brought her in, Clint feels somewhat responsible for her. They have this relationship/non-relationship thing going on and everyone probably thinks they're fucking, but the truth is that they've been dancing around each other for years, neither of them wanting to risk what they've got.
Neither of them have the best track record in regards to sex being as they're both a minefield of triggers. It had always seemed safety and smarter to just leave it alone. But sometimes, he catches sight of her, adrenaline high after a successful mission, and he thinks this is what love feels like, but he isn't sure and he's too ashamed to ask.
Once he hits his eighth year with SHIELD, Clint figures that his combined time spent learning the bow probably exceeds that of what some people spent sleeping. Clint is very good at what he does and he damn well knows it.
But despite his best efforts, he is still human, and the unfortunately part of being human is that he makes mistakes. Granted, the misses are few and far between, but it's been known to happen.
So when his arrow slides a hairs width past his target, he doesn't even blink before the next arrow is notched and launched. This one is spot-on and the target is dead before he hits the floor.
The rest of the battle passes without incident, so he chalks it up to a bad day and promptly forgets about it.
Natasha gives him a look during debriefing, a silent question across the table. Clint returns with a near imperceptible shake of his head and she drops the issue. He turns away from her, faintly ashamed that she noticed, hand coming up to rub the back of his neck, partly self-conscious, and partly to ease the headache he can feeling coming on.
Two days later, Clint bites back a string of swears when he misses again. On a stationary target, too. He hasn't missed a stationary target since he was 12. Fortunately, he's on the training range. Unfortunately that means Clint can't even blame this miss on adrenaline.
He rubs a fist into his tired eyes and sighs. The first thing he does is check over his equipment, but it's perfect. Broken in, but not worn, clean, and not a single mark on it. Just like he knew it would be. He'd already checked it once before starting and would check it again once he finished. He's near obsessive about taking care of his weapons, knowing that a catch in the bow could cost him his life.
Years of working as an operative and the high physical demands that come with it have taught Clint the importance of knowing his limits. He knows exactly how much strain he can take before his aim is compromised. He knows how to listen to every twinge, every pull in his body and evaluate it. He knows when to push through and when to stop before he gets an injury.
So as he continues to shoot, he mentally catalogues his body. There's the ever present pull in his right shoulder from the rotator cuff injury 3 years ago. It's the reason he switched over to predominately using a left handed pull.
Even months after the doctors had pronounced it healed, he found his shoulder just couldn't handle the workload from the repeated back and forth motion for hours on end. He'd taken to switching sides back and forth as he trained and eventually found that he preferred the left side.
Down lower, his ankle is still protesting from the fall he took last mission. With the tensor bandage it holds his weight well enough not to hinder his step but it hasn't healed completely yet.
A few years back, he'd sprained it badly running over rubble, then followed that up with 2 more sprains on the same ankle with the next 6 months. Medical had almost pulled him from field, explaining how the loose tendons would make him permanently prone to repeated sprains.
Director Fury had blown a gasket over that, having already lined up Clint for his next few missions. Clint hadn't say a word as they argued, face expressionless and only the tightness in his jaw to give him away.
Once he had returned to his quarters, he had only just made it to the bathroom before vomiting, his stomach clenched with anxiety and his breath short, imagining being permanently grounded and useless.
He has no illusions about his role here. An orphaned circus freak whose own family hadn't wanted him. His one saving grace was his aim. Sharp, deadly, and merciless. He's SHIELD's weapon to wield. A battering ram made to be splintered and broken. The minute he ceases to be useful, he's gone.
In the days that had followed, he had learned to walk on it smoothly, not a hint of a limp to betray him. Eventually Medical stops pressing the issue and Clint got Coulson to pull the injury from his file. In exchange, he had agreed to wrap it when he knew he'd be doing more than just sniping, but the last mission, they'd run out quickly and he'd forgotten. He makes a note to check with Bruce about it and moves on.
There's a leftover stiffness in his neck from a headache he woke up with this morning. Bruce still owes his for that. Clint got a wicked concussion a few weeks back from jumping in the line of fire before Bruce was able to hulk up.
The stiffness and headaches have lingered longer then he would have liked but the CT scans they took after the injury came back clear. So Clint settles for popping Percocet like candy and slots the pain away, least Medical find out about it and pull him from active duty. And since Bruce has a guilt complex that rivals that of a supermodel after devouring a 30 ounce steak, Clint won't even tease him about it. Much.
Other than that, he feels fine. Injuries are an expected side effect in his line of work. And although they've become more commonplace than he would have liked now that he's with the Avengers, he'll take it as fair trade off. He's not used to constant open battle but he's not left with much of a choice. Now that he's had his face plastered over the news for the better part of a year, it's really hard to get back into the assassin trade. The YouTube videos alone had blown his cover sky high.
Eventually he figures that it's the new florescent lights they had installed a month ago that are screwing with his aim. They've been bothering his eyes ever since the concussion. Once he slips on his sunglasses, the strain eases a bit and Clint wonders idly what it would take to get maintenance to switch the lights back.
He spends the next 3 hours at the archery range in penance for his miss, letting the smooth rhythm of the notch, draw, and release sooth his rattled nerves.
At the end, sweat's dripping into his eyes and his left arm is shaking from repeatedly drawing the 250 pounds-force draw weight, but every arrow lands exactly where he wants it.
Days later, on the way to their now customary post-battle meal, Tony, who in Clint's opinion should have his mouth stapled shut, teases Clint about a near miss during the fight.
Natasha glances over with a raised brow, silently asking if he wants her to kick him and Clint smirks.
Tony, seemingly oblivious to the danger he's in, continues to needle Clint.
"It wasn't that close." Steve says graciously. "And he did get the guy behind me."
Tony fingers the hole in Steve's uniform with a raised eyebrow. "Mmmhmm. Not close at all. Maybe we should swap places. I'll take the cushy job sitting above the battlefield."
Normally easy going, Clint should have let it slide, but it's been a shitty week and Clint's tired of the needling. It was suppose to be his day off, and instead he gets doom-bots and what feels like another migraine coming on, judging from the stiffness gathering at the base of his skull.
Pulling his bow off from where it's clipped across his back, he flicks it open and tosses it to a surprised Tony "By all means Stark, be my guest" and gains some satisfaction when Tony can barely draw past half weight. He hands it back with a quirked lip and burgeoning look of respect.
Clint takes it back with a grin but inwardly, he has to fight down the unease settling in the pit of his stomach. He had realized it a second too late that his shot was off, and it was only because Steve had shifted in that final moment that he avoided getting an arrow through his shoulder.
Later, Natasha lets herself fall behind the group as they're walking back and Clint drops back as well, knowing she wants to talk.
"You all right?" She asks casually. Too casually.
"You know I can handle Stark just fine."
Natasha's expression tightens. "Don't you do that to me." She stares pointedly. "Are you all right?
Clint grunts, noncommittal and looks away, "Yeah, I'm just having an off day."
"Been having a few of those lately." Natasha comments.
Clint exhales forcefully, "Do you really think I need the reminder?" He snaps and struggles to keep his voice low so not to be overhead by the others. "So I've been a shitty shot lately. Can't I have a freaking off day every once in a while without you jumping down my throat? I'm fine. There is nothing wrong, I was just in a crappy position to make the crappy shot. Nothing more, nothing less. You need to stay out of it." He's breathing hard by the time he finishes, pulse throbbing at his temple.
Natasha's visibly taken back by his tirade, and to be honest, he's a little surprised too. Immediately, he regrets his words when he sees the shuttered off expression come over Natasha's face but he holds back to the urge to apologize.
Natasha doesn't pursue the issue and the silence turns awkward in a way it's never been between them. He knows he hurt her and he wants to address it but can't being himself to say the words. Everyone is just being paranoid and over-reacting and he is just fine.
The silence stretches between them as they walk back to the tower, the sun glinting low between the buildings and catching painfully in his eyes.
Clint freezes in the doorway. He had hoped to make it to debriefing before the shit hit the fan, but luck is not on his side. He straightens and turns to face Director Fury with a carefully masked face.
Fury marches towards him, every 6 foot 2 inches of him vividly living up to his name. "Barton, what in the hell was that?" He stops inches away from Clint and jabs a finger into his shoulder. "Are you fucking blind? You nearly ruined $50 million jet with your crap-assed flying. Not to mention the fact that you nearly kill yourself and your team."
Fury is livid and Clint doesn't blame him at all. It had been only a less second shout from Natasha and a reflexive jerk on the steering that had stopped them from clipping the corner of a skyscraper as they were heading home.
"Sorry, sir." Clint says, standing ramrod straight and eyes fixed to a point over Fury's left shoulder. His hands are fisted by his sides, white knuckled in deference to this very public dressing down but he doesn't said another word. He was in the military before black-ops and he knows when to keep his mouth shut.
"Oh, you bet your fucking ass you're sorry. I don't want to see your face for the next two weeks while you work out exactly how sorry you are. And until I see otherwise, you are grounded. You a liability to yourself and to your team." He leans in close enough that Clint can feel his breath hot and moist on his cheek, "And you better count yourself damn lucky that I don't throw you off the Avengers."
Clint's jaw clenches and he gives a stiff nod. "Yes, sir."
Fury sighs, "Get out of my sight."
Clint turns abruptly and marches off, agents scattering from his path. No one wants to look directly at him and he's glad for the small blessing. His entire body is shaking with adrenaline. Whether it be from the thought of his near miss or by the humiliation he just suffered, he doesn't know. All he knows is that these last two weeks have been the shittiest he's had in a long time and he can't shake the fear that it's somehow all related.
The instant the door slides shut in his SHIELD quarters, Clint punch the wall, hard enough to split the skin over his first two knuckles. He keeps hitting until he can't breathe through the ever tightening band around his chest. Gasping, he sinks along the wall until he hits the ground where he curls in on himself, boots scraping along the corrugated metal, teeth biting into the soft skin of his wrist to keep from screaming out loud. He stays huddled on the floor, head throbbing in time with the pain from his knuckles until he no longer feels like he's going to shake apart.
He wakes up the next morning sprawled face down on the metal floor, heart jumping in his chest, and vision dipping and splitting. He presses the heels of his palms into his eyes until the pain fades and the objects in his room stop doubling themselves.
For the next 3 days, Clint stays in the simulation room spending hours upon hours flying until his eyes are blurry with fatigue and tension radiates down the line of his neck. He only stops when the controls start dancing in and out of his vision.
Later in his quarters, he lays down with the light off. There's a faint smell of vomit coming from the trash can, but Clint can't bring himself to care. After downing some Dilaudid that he had stashed away, he tries to go to sleep with one gel pack over his eyes and another behind his neck, and prays that this migraine isn't the start of another cluster. Not enough water, he thinks. And too much time in sims.
He gets cleared for duty the following day, lying through gritted teeth at every question the medical staff ask.
Please don't forget to review! Even a few words would make me ecstatic.