Disclaimer: I do not own the Avengers or any of the characters affiliated with them. 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"

Very special thanks to Khell for acting as my German translator!

I'm back! Vacation was awesome (except the sunburn :/ the week of beach and ocean was worth it though!) Thanks for all the good time wishes I got from reviewers! Sorry it took me so long to get this story finished :( I got out of my writing groove on vacation and had to get back in the rhythm :)

As the poll dictated! The story of how Clint comes to SHIELD...this story IS in the Vantage Point Universe...so if you haven't read it or its sequel Trust just beware :) There are some things talked about more in depth here that were mentioned in those two stories.

However, you don't need to have read them to enjoy this story as it is a prequel and neither of those story lines would have happened yet...not saying I wouldn't love it if you went and read those too. It would give you the full impact of how epic the meeting of Clint and Phil is as their relationship is addressed heavily, especially in Vantage Point :)...thanks to all my awesome followers!

Warning: Clint isn't his usually snarky self for the first part of this story. Just wanted to give you fair warning. Bear with him :)

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. –Albert Einstein

The constant thump of that damn kid's tennis ball on the wall should have driven Daniel Carmine crazy. Instead he found himself leaning over the edge of his bunk to watch his cellmate repeatedly throw the ball. There was a faint X scratched into the concrete on the wall opposite their bunk bed and without fail, the tennis ball thumped into the center of it every single time.

His cellmate, Clint Barton, was lying on the floor, staring lazily at the tiny air vent in the ceiling as he tossed his tennis ball around the room. Daniel had never seen the kid so much as glance at the mark on the wall before he threw. But it didn't matter. It also didn't matter where the initial trajectory of the throw took the neon green ball; it always ended on the X and then bounced back into the kid's hand. Daniel had been watching him bounce it off everything from the walls, to the floor, to the metal posts of the bed for over an hour. Sometimes he bounced it off one other surface, sometimes he bounced it off several, but every time it hit the X.

Daniel thought it was better than TV.

If he wasn't so disturbed by the kid's age, or lack of it, or the dark intensity that bleed from those stormy blue-grey eyes, Daniel might have said as much. But his cell mate barely spoke, barely even looked at him. He just threw that ball for hours, ate alone, and fought like a wild animal if anyone gave him half a reason. He'd been in the infirmary a dozen times already, and he'd only been in this place for 2 months. Whatever had happened to land a kid that didn't look like he was old enough to vote in a place like this, Daniel didn't dare to hazard a guess. That kid had something dangerous brewing in him, though, so Daniel didn't dare to ask either.

Clint caught his tennis ball, stolen from another prisoner within a week of his incarceration. He threw it again, contemplating the vent in the ceiling. There was no way he could get into the ducts above it from here. The guy that built this place wasn't stupid. He had a plan though; he knew exactly where he could get into the ducts that spidered through the ceilings of his prison.

He threw his ball again, ignoring his cellmate watching him. The guy wasn't that bad, at least not that Clint had noticed. There wasn't a dark evil in him like Clint had seen in so many others locked in this place. But Clint didn't plan on being here long enough to get to know him. Besides, he was done making friends.

Cole Williams had taught him that lesson well.

He threw the ball again, harder than was strictly necessary, as a result when it snapped back into his hand, his palm stung a little.

I hope that son of a bitch rots in here.

2 months ago…


"What the hell was that?" Clint growled, shoving Cole into the wall outside their barracks.

"It was a mission."

"The kid wasn't a target! You didn't have to kill him!"

"I couldn't get a clear shot, just like my report said; I had to get the kid out of the way."

"Bullshit!" Clint shouted, shoving him hard again before pacing away, trying to rein his temper. "I know where you were positioned. You could have made that shot easily!"

"That kid was a terrorist in the making! I did the world a favor!" Cole defended, shoving Clint back. Clint shook his head, horrified.

"That's insane…I've got to report you."

"Do that and I'll tell them you lied about your age. You'll be arrested and they won't believe a word you say."

Clint's steely gaze would have brought better men to the ground.

"Don't be a pussy, Clint…I did what needed to be done."

Clint blinked the memory away. His former unit mate was a murderer. Clint didn't regret reporting him, even if he was here because of it.

He threw the ball again.

"I need to speak with you." Clint stood ramrod straight in front of his commanding officer.

"Shouldn't there be a sir tossed in there somewhere? What is it, Barton?" Captain Tom Carter snapped. That kid had a hell of an authority problem, if he wasn't such a damn good shot, Tom would have booted him months ago.

"It's Williams, sir."

Tom sighed. Barton was the only person he'd ever known that could snap the word 'sir' like it was an insult.

"What about him, solider?"

"It's about the Ari mission and the kid he killed."

"You better think long and hard about what you're about to say, Barton." Tom glared, "Nobody likes wants a unit mate they can't trust."

Clint's eyes hardened until they were cold as ice.

"That's why I'm here. I don't trust him not to kill another kid."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"I think you know what it means." Clint shot back. "And you need to do something about it before he hurts someone else."

"I don't need to do a damn thing!" Tom barked, getting into Barton's face. He gave the kid credit, he didn't even flinch. If possible, his gaze grew harder. "Especially not on your say so."

Barton didn't respond, but he didn't back down. He met Tom's gaze unflinchingly.

"Are you sure about this?" The Captain asked more quietly. "This is a hell of an allegation."

"Yes, sir." The walls the kid always kept around himself fell for a moment, and Tom could see the sincerity bleeding from his eyes.

"Okay then." Tom turned his back. "Dismissed."

Clint let out the breath he'd been holding and exited the tent. He looked up to see Williams staring at him from across the yard. He stared back. It was then, before Williams ever made good on his threat, that Clint knew his life in the military was over.

Clint blinked when Daniel jumped down from his bunk. He arched an eyebrow in question.

"Meal time." His cell mate grunted. Clint rolled into a backwards somersault, rising to his feet with ease.

Daniel was unfazed; he'd seen this kid do some crazy acrobatic stuff. He'd stood on his hands in the middle of the room for almost an hour once.

They walked to the mess hall together, but separated as soon as they were shuffled into the large room. Clint got his food and moved off to a secluded seat, away from everyone. He never sat in the same spot, didn't want to ever draw the attention of the groups that tended to sit at the same tables every day.

Clint was good at being invisible.

He chewed his food quickly, not wanting to spend an extra minute in with the rest of the prisoners if he could help it. He may be good at staying under the radar, but a seventeen year old in a military prison was cause for notice.

He kept his eyes roaming, never settling on anyone, but aware of everything around him. Not for the first time, he wished he was older. Being young is what had gotten him into this mess. All those people that said not to wish your life away, had never been in military prison for lying about your age.

1 year and 2 months ago…

"These should do you…my friend is good, so everything will check out." Marvi Gibbons assured as he slid a stack of papers bound by a rubber band across the table.

Clint took the papers, snapping off the rubber band and inspecting the documents. Birth Certificate, Drivers License, Social Security Card. All he needed to skip two years of his life and become eighteen.

"Thanks Marvi." Clint glanced up as he stuffed the papers in his bag.

"Looks like you've healed up pretty good." The juggler observed.

Clint's hand moved absently to brush against the scar on his chest. It was covered by his thin t-shirt, but he could still feel the rough edges of the knife wound that had nearly killed him.

"I'm fine. It's been six months." Clint replied gruffly.

"Heard anything from Barney? Or Swordsman?" Marvi asked curiously.

"No." Clint snapped. "Don't ever talk about them to me again, understand?" He growled, glaring furiously at Marvi over the table.

"Alright, kid, calm down." He glanced at Clint warily, "It was wrong, you know. What they did. It'll come back one day, it always does."

"If it doesn't, I'll get my revenge in hell." Clint smirked, standing and reaching to grab his re-curved bow. It had helped him become Hawkeye, the amazing marksman that never missed. He knew he wouldn't be allowed to use it in the Army.

He held it out to Marvi solemnly.

"Look after it for me. I can't take it where I'm going."

"You got it, kid." Marvi assured, taking the bow with reverence. He knew it was Clint's single most valuable possession. "Take care of yourself, okay?"

Clint nodded once, and moved for the door.

"Hawkeye." Marvi stopped him with his voice. The older man's eyes were serious. "Trickshot doesn't really want you to go. You can work things out with him and I'm sure he'll keep training you."

"I don't want to work things out with him. He's made his choice and I've made mine."

"Clint, you have a good heart. Don't let what Barney and Swordsman did define you. Don't let Trickshot drive you away from where you belong."

"I don't belong here, Marvi. I never did."

Clint stiffened at an increase in activity around one of the tables. His eyes tracked the brewing fight with interest. One of the more intimidating prisoners, Liam, was causing trouble with Daniel's crew. Clint arched an eyebrow thoughtfully.

Now was as good a time as any, he supposed.

He wiped his mouth with his napkin and looked down at his plate. His roll would work.

He ran his tongue across his lips, eyeing the distance. He weighed the roll in his hand. Then he threw it.

It bounced off Liam's head and down onto Daniel's table.

Clint was sure the entire mess hall went silent, but it might have just been his imagination.

Liam turned, glaring around the room to see who had dared throw food at him. Clint didn't try to hide. After all, the whole reason he'd thrown the roll was to draw the big bully's attention. Liam's eyes fell on him, standing with one foot on his chair, the other planted on the ground, a triumphant smirk on his face. He could see the disbelief in the large man's face.

Clint was clear across the mess hall after all.

Clint let his smirk widen in arrogance and tossed the man a little wave. Liam shoved one of his own crew aside and stalked towards him. Clint knew he had precious seconds before the fight started. He reached to his tray and grabbed his plastic fork. It wasn't much, but in the right place, it would do damage.

He let his smirk fall away when Liam got close, dropping down into his stance. He knew he'd have to use all his speed to get out of this alive.

He laughed suddenly, making Liam's eyes widen.

It was a wildly inappropriate time to laugh, he knew. But the thought had just struck him. How do you fight when you don't want to get killed, but you want to end up in the infirmary? He doubted anybody had ever thought that before. Anybody that had been in his head would have thought he was insane, letting his thoughts wander at a time like this.

He ducked under Liam's first punch. Wasn't prepared for the one from Liam's friend, though. It caught him hard across the temple.

"Son of a bitch." He hissed, blinking at his two foes.

This just got interesting.

He couldn't help it, he smiled.

Clint really wanted to shoot an arrow through whatever was shining so brightly above him. He forced his eyes open, only marginally surprised when his right eye didn't cooperate. He tried to raise his hand to feel the damage, but the jangling of handcuffs reminded him of where he was. The bright infirmary lights above him confirmed it.

Everything hurt. His head. His ribs. His back. His stomach. His left pinky. He'd accomplished his mission though. He was in the infirmary again. He watched his nurse move closer.

"Hey there, Clint. Welcome back." She smiled. "Both in the sense that you've been unconscious and that you're becoming a regular customer."

He forced a weak smile. She had always been kind to him, ever since his first infirmary visit. He almost felt bad. She would probably get fired for this.

"Hey Mandy." He greeted. "How long have I been out?"

"About two days…nasty little concussion…but that's what happens when you let two guys three times your size beat you into oblivion." She scolded gently, moving forward to brush his hair off his forehead. She was nice, she really was. Looked to be in her forties, very motherly. Everyone he'd ever talked to loved her.

"You'd think I'd have learned the first time." He shrugged, wincing something in his back rejected the movement.

"Yeah, moving probably hurts." She admonished, setting her pile of files on his bed next to his hip, an action she'd done many times in the past 2 months. She leaned over him, checking his pupil's responsiveness. Without looking, he stretched his hand to the files and silently slipped a paperclip off one in the middle. He slid it under his blanket. She leaned closer, checking a cut on his forehead.

"Am I gonna live?" He asked with a boyish grin. He'd learned his first trip that she ate up the hurt little boy attitude. The fact that he was barely seventeen and she knew it helped.

"This time." She grinned, leaning away and picking up her files. "Get some sleep, kiddo. I'll check on you in a few hours." She pulled a curtain around his bed.

"Yes, ma'am." He smiled, watching her walk away through a crack in the curtain. He glanced down at his hand, and the key card hidden in his palm. He would have a little bit of time before she realized it was gone from where it had been clipped to her front pocket. Even longer before she suspected him. He'd gone to great lengths over the past two months to cultivate an innocent image in her mind. He'd had her pegged from the beginning.

He kept his eyes on the staff through the opening in the curtain as he silently retrieved the paperclip and bent it into the shape he'd need. Once his first hand was free, the second was easy. He silently slid out of bed and watched Mandy and the other nurse move around the room. The doctor was in his office, focused on his computer. When both of the nurses' backs were turned, checking a particularly volatile patient that needed both their strength to deal with, he moved.

He slid his stolen key card through the electronic lock at the supply closet and slipped into the room. He closed the door silently behind him. He listened intently. But both the nurses were still dealing with whoever was in that other bed. He hoped it was Liam. He vaguely remembered getting a few good hits with his fork in.

Knowing time was precious, he looked to the ceiling. Just like he'd noticed with random glances during his many trips to the infirmary, it housed a maintenance vent. Big enough for a man to fit through to do maintenance on the air duct. He smirked, climbing the shelves easily and pushing the vent cover up and aside. He was inside his metal safe haven in seconds, and then was sliding the vent cover back into place.

He moved silently. He'd spent the last two months memorizing the layout of this place. He knew where everything was. From the guard's locker room, to the warden's office, to the laundry room. The guard's locker room was his goal. He counted on it being empty and unmonitored. Prisoners would have to make it through two electronically locked doors to get to it, so it was the least of their concerns.

It was, indeed, empty and he wasted no time slipping into the room. He'd spent time learning the guards' names and schedules for this exact moment. There were only two in this whole place that were anywhere close to his size. Donaldson and McArthur. McArthur was working today, Donaldson wasn't. As he moved to the absent guard's locker, he wondered idly if Donaldson would get fired when they realized he'd stolen his uniform. He couldn't bring himself to care either way.

Once he was dressed, he pulled Donaldson's hat low on his head, hoping to hide the bruising. Then he walked to the door, took a deep breath and opened it. He walked towards the exit as calmly as he could when his heart was pounding inside his chest. He nodded to the man at the sign in desk and he nodded back.

"Have a good day." The man even tossed out, with a smile.

"Planning on it." Clint smiled back, stepping out into the sun.

No one paid any attention to the guard walking across the yard and out the front gate. Nobody realized the seventeen year old prisoner in the infirmary was gone until Mandy went to get a few towels from the supply closet and her key card was gone from her uniform. Even then it wasn't until she realized her usually very curious and friendly teenage patient wasn't reacting to the search for her card in the infirmary that anybody thought to look for him.

Clint Barton walked out of the Fort Carson prison that day after only two months of planning. He wouldn't think about Cole Williams again until over ten years later. But he wondered, often, if Mandy lost her job because of him. If in saving his own life, he'd destroyed another's.

Three weeks later…

"I'm telling you, John, I can't make it to Arkansas by tomorrow…it's just not physically possible." Marvi argued into his cell phone. "Two days at least."

A figure moved closer to the pacing juggler, but stayed hidden in the shadows.

"Fine…I'll be there…yeah, you owe me." Marvi snapped his phone closed and turned, only to jump and step back when there was someone standing in the shadows next to his trailer.

"Hey Marvi."

"Hawkeye?" Marvi gasped. "I'd heard you were found out…that you were in prison."

Clint sniffed and shrugged, moving around Marvi to take a drink from the man's beer on the table. "I decided it wasn't for me."

"You bust out?"

"Something like that." Clint smirked, wondering if they'd figured out how he escaped yet. Wondered if they knew he'd just walked out the front door.

"Glad you're okay, kid. You need a job?" Marvi asked, trying to ignore the darkness in his young friend's countenance. The shadow in his stormy eyes that had only started to show after the incident with Barney, but that had grown to take over the formerly friendly gaze.

"You still have it?" Clint asked instead, not answering the question.

"You bow?" Marvi wondered, at Clint's nod he went on, "Yeah, of course…it's just inside."

"Can you get it? I need it where I'm going."

"Sure kid, sure…" Marvi agreed as he moved to his travel trailer and climbed inside. He came back out with the black bow and quiver of arrows. He handed them over to their owner. "Where are you headed?"

"Somewhere far." Clint replied vaguely as he slipped his quiver onto his back and ran his fingers lovingly over his bow. He raised his gaze to his old friend. "Bye, Marvi." He turned to leave.


Clint turned his head, but not his body, waiting.

"You ever coming back?"


1 year later…


"Agent Coulson, what can I do for you?" The Director of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, Nick Fury, glanced up from the papers on his desk to regard his top agent.

In reply, Agent Phil Coulson tossed a file onto his desk.

"What's this?" Fury asked even as he flipped the file open. A picture was paper clipped to the inside cover of the file. A military ID picture.

"Meet Clint Barton…former Army."

"Former?" Fury asked, glancing up from the file. "He doesn't look old enough to be former anything."

"He lied about his age to enlist…got found out a year in."

"So you want me to get him out of prison?" Fury frowned.

"No sir," Coulson smirked, tossing an 8x10 black and white picture down on top of the file. "He took care of that himself a year ago."

The picture showed a young man dressed as a prison guard walking across the prison yard towards the gate. It was a still from a video, Fury realized. They'd taken the shot just as the guard looked over his shoulder. He looked back at the military ID. It was the same face.

"Well damn."

"Exactly. But it gets better…he was only 17 when he busted out. He's been in the wind for a year working as a hit man for hire."

"And why in the hell would you think I'd want to know about some 18 year old kid that kills people for money?" Fury demanded. He was seriously wondering if his friend had lost his mind.

"Because, sir, I still haven't told you the best part. Ask me what he did for the military."

Fury rolled his one good eye and decided to humor him. He couldn't help it, he was curious.

"What did he do for the military?"

"Marksman. Why don't you take a look at his scores?" Phil prodded, arching an eyebrow.

Fury flipped to the appropriate page of the file. He blinked and reread the scores.

"That's not possible."

"That's what I thought, so I did some checking. He worked for the circus as a kid and became the Amazing Hawkeye. It's true, sir. He's never missed…never, not once."

"Well that is intriguing." Fury admitted. But then he sighed, "But the kid is a fugitive and working as an assassin, that doesn't exactly bleed mental stability."

"Director," Phil reasoned, "He broke out of Fort Carson when he was seventeen. He's a born operator. And that with his marksman skills he could be the best asset we've ever brought in."

"If you can bring him in. And if he doesn't start killing everybody."

"I'll take full responsibility, sir." Coulson assured.

"What the hell has got you so stuck on this kid, Phil?" Fury questioned.

"It's just a feeling, sir. We want him on our side. If only to keep him from getting on a different side."

"Fine. Go. Try and bring him in."

"Thank you, sir."

"Just try not to get yourself killed."

"You concern is heartening." Coulson smirked before striding out of the office.

"Heartening my ass." Fury muttered, "Better not get himself killed."

Thousands of miles away, in a dark room lit only by a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling, 18 year old Clint Barton sat across from a large Hungarian named Akos.

Well, Akos called himself Hungarian, but Clint knew the man and his crew were a born and bred Germans. They'd been forced to flee Germany two short years ago, and Akos, formerly Fritz, had changed his name and called himself Hungarian ever since. Clint didn't care either way as long as he got paid; he just knew the importance of knowing where the money came from.

He didn't speak Hungarian, so it worked out better in the end anyway.

"Ich weiß es zu schätzen, dass Sie sich mit mir treffen, Hawkeye."(I appreciate you meeting with me, Hawkeye.) Akos began politely.

Behind Akos, his two guards shifted nervously. The man called Hawkeye had his hand wrapped loosely around his bow where it lay across his lap. They'd heard stories of this man who never missed and weren't in a hurry to put his reputation to the test.

Clint looked Akos unflinchingly in the eye.

"Wer ist das Ziel?" (Who's the target?) He demanded, not in the mood for pleasantries. The German slipped off his tongue with ease, one of the several languages he'd picked up over the last year. It was something he'd discovered about himself. Learning languages came as easily as shooting a bull's eye. He'd been struggling with Russian though. He needed more practice.

He watched with satisfaction as Akos and his men all shifted nervously at Clint's tone. Good. If they were scared of him, they wouldn't try to cheat him.

"Abel Béres." Akos replied. "Er ist in Wien." (He's in Vienna.) He slid a grainy picture across the table between them. Clint picked it up, barely glancing at it before returning his gaze to Akos.

"500.000 US-Dollar. Die eine Hälfte jetzt, die andere Hälfte wenn ich den Job erledigt habe." (500 thousand American dollars. Half now, half when the job is done.) Clint instructed.

Akos nodded and Clint pulled a slip of paper from his pocket. He slid it across the table.

"Sobald ich die Bestätigung become, dass das Geld auf dem Konto ist, können Sie davon ausgehen, dass ich den Job übernommen habe. Ich werde Sie kontaktieren wenn er tot ist, danach haben Sie 24 Stunden, um den Rest zu überweisen." (When I get confirmation that the money is in the account, you can consider the job accepted. I'll contact you when he's dead and you'll have twenty four hours to transfer the rest.)

Clint stood, leaning across the table menacingly.

"Wenn Sie versuchen, mich zu verarschen, finde ich Sie. Egal wohin Sie gehen, egal wo Sie sich verstecken. Und ich werde Ihnen einen Pfeil ins Herz schießen." (If you try to screw me over, I will find you. No matter where you go, no matter where you hide. And I will put an arrow through your heart.)

Akos nodded quickly.

"Sie werden Ihr Geld kriegen." (You will get your payment.)

Clint darkened his gaze, just to push the point home and then strode out of the room.

"Ruf Patrik an. Sag ihm, dass Hawkeye nach Wien kommt. Wenn wir Glück haben werden wir zwei unserer Probleme auf einmal los." (Call Patrik. Tell him Hawkeye will be in Vienna. With any luck we will be rid of two of our problems by the end of this.) Akos breathed to his men, who nodded in agreement.

"Und beten wir zu Gott, dass der Kerl nicht überlebt , denn dann wird er sich rächen wollen." He added after his men had left. (And pray to God that man does not survive to seek revenge.)

End Chapter 1

And so our next adventure with Clint begins! This chapter was mainly setting the stage and wetting your appetite.

This story is complete so expect daily updates as usual :)

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Here's your preview

"Kann der Falke fliegen?" He hissed in Clint's ear.

The archer's eyes widened.

Can the hawk fly?

"Oh shit." Clint breathed just before the huge arms sent him over the edge of the roof.