Thanks so much to Shakespeare's Lemonade and the guys over on The Beta Branch for beta(ing) this.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except my pre-ordered copy of The Avengers on blu-ray.
I Wish I Had Missed
Clint shifted his quiver on his shoulder as he stalked around another corner, sticking to the shadows. Even though it was the middle of the day in Manhattan and he was decked out complete with bow and quiver of arrows, he didn't draw any attention. No one would see him unless he wanted them to.
He was currently on assignment following a known assassin who was in New York. SHIELD wanted to know why he was here and, if he was on a job, who the target was. But SHIELD didn't want the guy to know they were watching him, and this guy was good. Not just anybody would be able to track him unnoticed. So Clint got the job since he could follow someone and even kill them without so much as leaving a trace.
He had been following the guy all morning and he was pretty sure he wasn't here to kill anybody. From what he could tell the guy was here on vacation. Even assassins needed time off apparently. All in all the assignment was going pretty well. That was until…
Clint froze. He had been made and not only that but that voice could only belong to one person. Clint looked over his shoulder.
"Tony?" he hissed.
Clint was standing unmoving in the shadows of an alley. How on Earth did Tony Stark see him there and more importantly what was Tony Stark doing there in the first place?
Clint grabbed the front of Tony's shirt and jerked him into the alley.
"How did you see me?" he demanded.
"Clint," Tony said looking at the archer as if he had just asked the world's stupidest question. "You and the rest of the Avengers live at my tower and we all train together. I would recognize, slash notice, any of you anywhere."
Clint had to give him that one. Since the Avengers had moved into Stark Tower they had all gotten to know each other pretty well.
"What are you doing here?"
"There's this new restaurant that I wanted to try. I was on my way there when I saw you. What are you doing here?" Tony replied.
Clint just stared at him.
"Fine," Tony said pulling out his phone. "I'll just hack SHIELD and find out myself."
"All right," Clint said, exasperatedly. "I'm tracking a known assassin to find out why he's in the country."
"Don't assassins usually go places so they can, oh I don't know, kill someone?" Tony said.
"That's what I'm trying to determine Metal Brains. I'm here to find out if he's going to kill someone and if so who."
"So you can stop him?" Tony asked.
"Not necessarily. It depends on whether or not it's someone we want to stay alive," Clint answered only half joking.
"You mean there are some people that if that assassin wanted to kill, you would just let him?" Tony asked in genuine curiosity.
"Sometimes. It usually depends on just how annoying the target is," Clint said dryly.
Tony was pretty sure Clint was messing with him but the archer was so good at keeping a straight face that Tony couldn't always be sure.
"So, if some assassin targeted me, would you stop it?" Tony asked.
Clint didn't say a word. He simply stared at him. After a minute Tony couldn't take it anymore.
"Well?" he asked.
"I'm trying to decide," Clint said.
Tony belatedly realized that he had blindly walked right into that one.
Clint smirked at him as he saw Tony's dismay at having set himself up for the jab. Bantering was something the two of them did often. They enjoyed matching wits and trying to get the better of each other. Even though the rest of the team groaned and protested every time they went at it the two of them knew that, secretly, the other Avengers actually found it entertaining. It was sort of a challenge of who could best who. Tony had just unintentionally helped Clint win this round and he knew it.
Clint turned his attention back to the busy street and cursed.
"What?" Tony asked following his gaze.
Clint nodded. He had only turned away for a minute while he was talking to Tony, but apparently that was all it took. Before the archer could do anything, however, Tony held his phone out to him. He looked at it to see the traffic camera footage from a few minutes ago playing on the small screen. Clint stopped himself before he asked how Tony had done that. When it came to technology Tony Stark was king. The billionaire could hack into just about anything. In fact Clint had yet to see a program or device that Tony couldn't hack.
So instead of asking stupid questions Clint watched the screen to see where his assignment had gone. As soon as he knew he took off across the street to the alley the assassin had taken.
Tony followed on the archer's heels and watched in dumbfounded amazement. Clint Barton managed to blend in and traverse a street with high traffic as well as the two busy sidewalks on either side of it without calling attention to himself. The way he moved caused people to basically overlook him (which was saying something considering the man was carrying a bow in his hand and had a quiver of arrows strapped to his back) unless someone were specifically watching him (which Tony was doing so that he could follow him but even then he kept losing sight of Clint as the man ducked and weaved between people).
The billionaire managed to stay with the archer though. He stopped right behind Clint as the marksman stood to the side of the alley leaning against the wall just short of the corner.
"What are you doing, Stark?" Clint asked as the man came up behind him.
"I thought you could use some help, Barton," Tony stated with his signature smirk.
Clint just shook his head and rolled his eyes before jumping around the corner and into the alley. Tony followed right behind him. The alley was empty but it cut through to another street. Clint started forward with Tony falling into step beside him. They were only a few feet into the alley when Clint saw movement and a glint of light off steel.
Clint grabbed Tony and shoved him to the right and into a crouch. The wall they had been standing next to exploded as it was peppered with bullets and startled screams could be heard from the passersby. The shots lasted only a moment before the assassin turned and ran. Clint stood and took off after him yelling over his shoulder at Tony as he went.
Tony, however, hardly ever did what he was told and he never abandoned his teammates. He took off after Clint.
The two of them weaved in and out of traffic and people as they chased the killer. People scattered in all directions as they saw the assassin's gun and Clint's bow. The people around them were definitely noticing them now, Tony mused. Several bystanders even seem to recognize them as they sprinted past.
After about five minutes of running, the assassin sprinted into Central Park and made a beeline for some nearby trees.
Clint stopped at the treeline and held up a hand for Tony to do so as well.
"Aren't we going to follow him?" Tony asked as he panted for breath.
"No, we are not. I am," Clint said and quickly continued before Tony could argue. "It's too dangerous in there. He could be hiding anywhere and you don't have your suit to protect you."
"But-" Tony began, but Clint cut him off.
"Tony, please, just stay here."
Tony nodded reluctantly and Clint gave him an appreciative look before turning and disappearing into the trees.
Tony waited just out of the treeline and stared into the darkness of the forest for any signs of movement. This time he had every intention of doing what Clint had asked but that all changed when he saw the assassin just within the forest about twenty yards to his right. The assassin didn't see Tony but was instead looking at something that was deeper in the forest that Tony couldn't see. After a moment Tony saw a feral smile cross the assassin's face and he instantly knew what, or rather who, the man was watching.
He had to warn him. Without further hesitation, Tony quickly and quietly moved into the woods and headed in the general direction that the assassin had been looking. He had to find Clint and he had to find him first. Contrary to popular belief, Tony could be really quiet when he wanted to, he just didn't want to very often.
As he moved through the forest unseen he strained his ears to pick up any sound. Finally he heard a faint rustle. It could have been a breeze ruffling a leaf or even a bird or some other animal but something told him it was Clint. He headed toward the noise and after a few minutes he saw what he had been looking for, a crouched figure that was all but invisible amid the brush. But just as he spotted Clint he saw movement out of the corner of his eye and turned to see the assassin standing about ten yards to his right. He had yet to spot Tony but there was no question as to whether he saw Clint. Tony watched as the assassin fingered the gun in his hand. Clint still had his back to them and Tony knew he had to warn his friend before the assassin killed him.
If Tony had stopped to think he would have realized just how stupid the idea of running up behind a deadly spy, in the middle of a dangerous situation, was. But unfortunately Tony didn't think. He simply knew he had to help Clint and so he stood from where he was crouched and ran toward Clint shouting.
Tony saw Clint spin around and the billionaire realized his error just before the arrow left the bow. Tony suddenly felt something hit his chest hard, the impact sending him to the ground as pain, the likes of which he had only ever felt in Afghanistan, exploded in his chest and severed his connection with reality.