Hello, everyone! First off I'd like to welcome you to my first try at Avengers fanfiction. This is currently just a one-shot, but may be continued, depending on the reaction I get from reviews. Please be advised that this is currently un-betaed, but I did try to catch any spelling or grammatical errors I could.
I'd also like to add that I've never actually seen any of the Hulk movies, so my General Ross may be a little out of character in comparison to the one in the movie. This is just how I'd imagine him acting in this situation.
This story takes place roughly five months after Loki is taken back to Asgard, and assume that everyone has moved into Stark Tower.
I do appreciate constructive criticism, so fell free to add anything you see into a review.
I do not own anything you recognize from the Marvel Universe or the Avengers. Which is basically everything. I own nothing.
Steve looked up from his book when his door was thrown open. There was only one person in the tower that had a complete lack of respect for personal privacy, and that would be Tony Stark.
"Steve, I need you to talk to a general for me." the billionaire said shortly, poking his head into the room.
The Captain snorted but set his book aside.
"Tony, I don't talk to generals. I take orders from them." he said, tone amused, but Tony just scowled.
"Yeah, well, you need to talk to this one. It's General Ross. He's a couple floors down, and he won't take the 'fuck off' from me." Tony explained, his expression actually worried, which instantly put Steve on edge.
If he remembered correctly from the files he'd been given on his team, General Ross was the man that had dealt with Banner when he had broke Harlem as he put it.
"What does he want?" the Captain asked quickly, leaning forward and meeting Tony's gaze.
"He's torn between dead Bruce and dissected Bruce." Stark growled, crossing his arms over his chest. "The bastard practically idolizes you, Steve. I can't make him go away, you might be able to."
Steve stood quickly, sure his expression was disgusted. How could a general in the Army want to get at Bruce so badly that he waited years?
"Show me where." he said firmly and Tony let out a huff of relief. "Does Bruce know?"
"God no." Tony snorted. "He'd probably do something stupid like run off. He won't say it, but he's terrified of that bastard."
Steve sighed and nodded, following Tony's quick footsteps into the elevator.
"What exactly have you been talking about?" he asked as they rode down at least twenty floors.
"He wants Bruce turned over to Army custody, because he's a 'danger to the city'. He's lived here five months, and nothing's happened. SHIELD just couldn't keep him off our backs anymore, seeing as he threatened to bring tanks to my front door. Fury figured I'd be able to steer him off, but it's proving harder than expected. If you don't work, I'm having Thor fling him over the Rainbow Bridge." Tony said and Steve snorted.
The billionaire had taken to throwing the Rainbow Bridge into conversation when he wanted something or someone to go away and not come back.
They stepped off he elevator then, into one of the floors of the tower dedicated to Stark Industries meetings. Tony stopped outside one of the conference room doors, and turned to him.
"Look, I'm going to go up to the lab, keep Bruce out of things. I don't care what you have to do, what you have to say, what you have to show him. Get him to leave Banner alone."
The intensity of protectiveness in Tony's eyes wasn't surprising to Steve. They were all protective of the doctor.
The Captain pulled himself up to his full height and squared his shoulders before he turned the knob to open the door.
The uniformed General was seated at the head of the long table inside the room, watching a news broadcast on the TV with what seemed to be muted interest.
"General Ross?" he questioned politely, watching as the older man turned to look at him, eyes widening in shock when he was recognized. "Good afternoon. I'm Steve Rodgers." he offered his hand, hiding a slight scowl when the man jumped to his feet to accept his hand.
"Captain, it's an honor." he said in a rush, eyes brightened in awe.
"Thank you, really." Steve said, his tone actually sincere. It still humbled him to see people who looked up to him, even 70 years after his work in the war. "Mr. Stark said we were having a bit of an issue."
Something told him he shouldn't seem close to Tony right off the bat. They certainly didn't seem to get along.
"Um, yes, sir." the General said, and Steve couldn't help by hide a slight smile. If the man respected him enough to call him 'sir', even though he hadn't been in the military in 70 years, and only a Captain at that, this might go better than expected. "I've been dealing with Dr. Banner's presence in the city since his first incident. The beast is dangerous, and needs to be put down. Or contained at the very least. Mr. Stark refuses to submit him peacefully to my custody."
Steve felt his jaw clench.
"All due respect, sir, but Mr. Stark isn't exactly in charge of Dr. Banner, if that's the impression you were under." he said, his tone growing slightly shorter.
Ross tilted his head in confusion, so Steve elaborated, taking one of the comfortable seats at the table.
"Dr. Banner can come and go as he pleases. I'm sure you've been briefed by SHIELD."
Ross snorted angrily, taking his former seat.
"Those assholes? They've been giving me the run around for years. They won't let me do my job. They're letting him run around, and people are going to get hurt."
"General, I'm going to be frank with you." Steve said, waiting for the man to nod, slightly surprised. "I've been living with Bruce for months now. The man is imany things, but I can't say dangerous is one of them. He's one of the most cautious, most controlled men I have ever met."
Ross gaped at him for a few moments, before speaking clearly flustered.
"That thing is a beast, Captain, pretending to be a man." the General said. "You didn't see the last time that green monster was in the city. People died. It can't be controlled, it can't be used for anything less than complete destruction."
Steve stiffened, his eyes narrowing slightly, something Ross noticed and became unsettled by.
"You don't know him. You haven't spent any time with him in which you weren't trying to kill him. I have seen the footage, general, I've spoken to Bruce about it. The last time, in fact, that the Hulk was loose in New York, he fought an alien army with us, helped us save millions of lives." Steve said, his voice raising only ever so slightly.
"It's hardly something that can be counted on or controlled." Ross said hotly, but Steve cut him off.
"The Hulk takes my orders without problem, general. We haven't had an uncontrolled incident in a very long time." the Captain said before sighing and relaxing back. "Look, I understand that you just want to keep innocent people safe, but attempting to kill or contain Dr. Banner is a waste of your valuable time. There are a lot of other issues you could be focusing your time and effort on."
Ross looked affronted by his accusation, but Steve just spoke again.
The General looked surprised by the AI's sudden voice over the loud speakers, which made Steve smile. Maybe he was finally getting used to this new century.
"Can you bring up the footage of the Hulk catching Iron Man during the Chituri battle?"
The images on the TV changed, and Steve motioned for the general to turn and watch.
"Tony was falling uncontrollably." Steve said, watching as the green blur caught Tony in mid air. "He would probably have died if the Hulk hadn't caught him and protected him from the brunt of the fall."
Ross watched silently as the Hulk then stood beside Steve and Thor before he 'revived' Tony. He asked JARVIS to turn off the TV before he turned back to the general.
"The Hulk may have at one time been a danger. He may still be a danger under the wrong circumstances. But the best place for both of them is with the team. Bruce has much more to give the world with his genius than to be defined by one faulty experiment." Steve said quietly, sitting back again and watching Ross' face. "I trust Bruce Banner with my life, and I'm sorry if this causes conflict, but I will stand shoulder to shoulder with Tony Stark to keep you from hurting him."
"They're not the only ones."
Steve sighed, and Ross jumped when the voice sounded from above them, before Clint dropped from the air vent in the back of the room.
"So this' the douche bag that wants at Bruce?" Clint demanded, walking forward to stand beside Steve's chair, sizing up the general with a distinctly threatening air.
"I'm taking it that 'douche bag' is supposed to be an insult?" the Captain asked wearily, and the archer snorted, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I'm sorry, kid, but do I care why you're here?" Ross demanded, standing.
"General, this is-" Steve started, but Clint cut across him, stance unwavering.
"Hawkeye. SHIELD assassin. Avenger. I could kill you fifty different ways right now without a sound or a shred of evidence." the archer said stiffly, smirking at Ross' affronted expression.
"Are you threatening me?" the man shot out, but Hawkeye's smirk just widened.
"You don't like it, do you? You blind, ignorant,-"
He would have kept going, but Steve finally stood as well, putting a hand on Clint's chest.
"That's enough." he said in a clearly disapproving tone, and Clint just scowled.
"Call it like I see it, Cap." he said innocently, still glaring daggers at the General.
"Do you accept this kind of insubordination?" Ross demanded of the Captain. "Leaping out of air vents, eavesdropping on private conversations, threatening superiors?"
"Oh, trust me. You are not my superior." Clint spat, narrowing his eyes. "I sure as hell wouldn't take orders from an obsessive, sadistic, two-bit, grade A asshole like you."
"Hawkeye!" Steve said sharply, his hand still firmly on the archer's chest. "You don't need to use every insult in your vocabulary in the same conversation. There's a reason Stark has me talking to him and not you."
"You're not going to get anything past that thick skull with words, Cap. Not that there's anything to get through to. He would sooner put Bruce in a lead box and drop him into the ocean than listen to you." Clint sneered, still not taking his eyes off Ross.
"I am a five-star Army General!" Ross spat, pulling himself to his full height, but in comparison to even Clint he wasn't the most intimidating presence.
"And I'm an assassin who'se friends with the guy you want to turn into a lab rat, or just out right kill." Clint said stonily. "I really hope you don't think I'm cowed by the 'general' crap. I can see right through you. You throw around the power you've been given because you like to intimidate people. You're real used to getting what you want, aren't you?"
Steve sighed again, running his free hand down his face. He'd envisioned the conversation ending well, that he'd made Ross see his side of the coin. Now he had no idea what the general was thinking on the subject of Bruce.
"Captain, I'd appreciate it if you controlled your man." Ross said shortly, his tone devoid of emotion.
"We don't like seeing our team mates threatened, General. I can't blame him for protecting Bruce when I would do the same. His methods may be a bit abrasive, but maybe effective in the long run." Steve said, still the calm voice of reason. "Hawkeye, stand down, you've made your point."
Slowly, reluctantly, Clint took a step back, fingering the small dagger strapped to his shoulder, underneath his t-shirt. Steve saw, knew what it was, and glared strongly enough to make him release it, sigh, and fall into a chair.
"Captain, before your insubordinate assassin arrived, you wanted me to believe that the beast responds to your order. I find this very hard to believe." Ross said, shooting a final glare at Clint before turning his eyes back to Steve.
"JARVIS, do we have any video of the very beginning of the Boston mutant battle?" Steve asked, waiting for the AI's response as he returned to his chair, motioning for Ross to do the same.
"I shall put it on the screen." JARVIS said simply.
Moments later, video from what was probably Tony's helmet played, of the Hulk landing, snarling threateningly at the Army tanks, but instead of attacking them, going for the mutant apes as Steve had requested.
"And you also expect me to believe that Banner has his changes under control?" Ross asked, sounding extremely doubtful.
"He's been living in this tower for months. It's still in one piece." Steve said, beginning to get tired of having to justify his friend's every action to this man. He truely didn't see what gave him the right to terrorize the doctor.
"My respect for you has me willing to step back for now." Ross sighed, sounding put out by his own words. "But at the first hint of threat to innocent civilians, I'll have no choice but to take Banner into Army containment."
Steve felt the muscle in his jaw work again, wondering where Banner had found this guy, pissed him off so badly, and then somehow managed to keep off his radar for however many years. Clint and Tony were right; it bordered on obsession.
"I'm sorry, that sounds like a threat." Clint growled, grasping at his dagger again. "I don't even see how you have an ounce of jurisdiction here. Bruce is not going to keep living with you breathing down his neck, waiting for you to crawl out of the woodwork to threaten him again. So either you go away, or I kill you in your sleep with the help of another assassin, a demi god, a billionaire genius and a super soldier. Your call."
He irately pulled the dagger out of it's sheath, twirling it lazily in one hand.
Ross gaped at him again, looking to Steve who could do nothing but shrug. His patience had worn thin with the threats as well.
"Hawkeye, put the knife away."
They all spun around to see Bruce standing in the doorway of the room, Tony hovering over his shoulder. The doctor's face was pale but resolute and he slowly walked further into the room, his eyes anywhere but Ross.
"How long were you standing there?" Clint questioned with a frown, reluctantly sheathing his dagger again.
"Long enough." Bruce told him evasively, finally turning his eyes to the uniformed man when he acknowledged him.
"Banner." Ross said, staring at him with narrowed, untrusting eyes.
Steve was shocked to see the fear that practically oozed off the doctor in the presence of this man. It was enough to make him stand and walk over to stand at Bruce's side, putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"He can't touch you. We're trying to get him used to the notion." he murmured quietly in the doctor's ear, watching as he have a small, grateful smile.
It all but evaporated, however, when Ross stood as well, walking towards him.
Clint made to stand, but Bruce just waved him back down, steeling his shoulders and facing the man that would sooner see him dead or in the smallest cage possible than standing in front of him.
"One slip up, Banner, and you will be seeing me again." he said ominously, and Steve took a small step forward, Tony growled wordlessly and Clint stood.
"Bruce, do you feel threatened?" Tony demanded, glaring at the general who had taken a small step back from the three other Avengers that were now glaring at him. "'Cause even I feel a little threatened. And if you feel threatened, we'll just have no choice but to forcibly remove this bastard from my tower. I might even have to sue the Army."
"I'm not completely certain he's under orders to be here, Tony." Steve pointed out with narrowed eyes, his hand still gripping Bruce's shoulder.
"Fine. I'll sue him then. Very publicly. See how much support he gets for targeting the Avengers." Tony said darkly, eyebrows raised in challenge. "Might even be enough to get him fired. Especially if he's misusing Army resources."
Ross looked between all of them quickly, almost seeming to deflate as Tony continued talking.
"I thought you were going to have Thor toss him over the Rainbow Bridge?" Clint asked, sounding almost put out, his eyes not leaving Ross. "I was looking forward to seeing him hurled into deep space through an inter-dimensional worm hole."
Ross' mustache almost seemed to quiver with that statement, his eyes widening slightly.
"That does sound a bit more fun, doesn't it?" Tony mused, before clapping Bruce on the shoulder that wasn't already being occupied by Steve's reassuring hand. "So what d'ya say, buddy? Feeling threatened?"
Bruce smiled slightly. He wasn't as pale any more, and some of the fear had drained from his face. He couldn't describe the happiness and relief he felt to have his friends by his side at this moment, facing off against the one man he truely feared more or less for him. He'd always known that Ross would come back and try to either have him killed or contained and tested on, most likely in a way that would be the opposite of pleasant. He suspected Fury had something to do with it taking this long.
But now, Ross was the one that looked wary and threatened, and Bruce couldn't blame him. He wouldn't be very calm with three angry superheroes talking so blatently about things they could do to him either.
"At the moment, Tony, no I can't say that I am." Bruce answered truthfully, smiling when he noticed Clint's disappointed scowl, and heard Tony's sigh.
"That's too bad." the billionaire said lightly, before speaking to Ross, his tone dark. "I suggest you take into account the fact that Bruce has some pretty heavy hitting friends now, before you try to come back with tanks or something silly like that. He isn't going anywhere he doesn't want to. Have we, ah... made ourselves clear?"
"A pissed off Captain America should be a pretty good indication." Clint offered, tone light. "If not, we know a guy with a big hammer. Maybe he could beat it into your skull."
"I will not be threatened." Ross growled, his shoulders steeling as he looked up to Clint almost specifically. "None of you have any right to keep me from dealing with that monster."
Bruce flinched, and apparently the Captain had had enough.
"You have been threatening him for years." Steve said, his voice calm but clearly non-negotiable. "I know a bully when I see one. I just never expected it to be in an Army uniform. When I was in the Army, that uniform stood for something greater than a personal grudge match. By now, I'm pretty good at judging conflict. And something between you and Bruce is personal. That doesn't mean you have the right to do all of this. There's no honor in it, and you sure as hell aren't representing what that uniform stands for."
"Daaaaaaamn." Tony gave a low whistle, eyes widened slightly as he glanced at Bruce, and then at Clint, seeing as Steve's eyes were still locked on Ross' shocked face. "Cap is pissed. He said hell."
"Tony." Steve said shortly, not looking back. Even so, the billionaire got the message and promptly shut his mouth.
Let it not be said that he didn't know where to draw the line with Steve's tone.
"I am done trying to explain Bruce's every action to you, as if it was any of your business in the first place. I'm having a hard time imagining any chain of command that would authorize actions like this. So if you actually do have your orders, you can bring your superior to me, because I am well aware that you have one, General or not. I'm assuming that since you have managed to keep rank that you do have the necessary intelligence to find your way to the elevator and out of the building." Steve's voice didn't raise or change in tone through his entire chewing out, which is probably what made it so intimidating in the first place.
Ross was gaping like a fish out of water, his mouth opening and closing a few times before he cast one more glance to where Bruce was more or less surrounded by Steve, Tony and Clint, and quickly made for the door.
The Captain snorted and relaxed as soon as the door closed behind the man, while Tony just laughed.
"Asshole. I knew getting Steve to talk to him was a good idea." the billionaire grinned at the Captain who gave a slight roll of his eyes.
"The talking didn't really do so much. Then Clint dropped in and started using every insult in his vocabulary..."
"Please, Cap, that wasn't every one." the archer said modestly, eyes glittering. "Only about a quarter. I could have added obnoxious, narcissistic, bone-headed, dumb-ass-son-of-a-bitch,..."
"Alright, alright." Steve cut him off before he could go any farther, though he did have a small grin on his face.
"Thank you." Bruce spoke up, his gratitude clearly showing in his eyes.
"No problem." Tony said easily, while nods of agreement came from the other two Avengers.
"He can't touch you, Bruce. Not anymore." Clint said matter of factly.
"Nope. But I do have one question." Tony moved so he could better see the doctor's face, one eyebrow quirked. "What the hell is between you two other than the whole thing with the Big Guy?"
"Ah," Bruce looked a little embarrassed, rubbing a hand down the back of his head. "I dated his daughter, actually. Betty."
There was silence in the conference room for a few minutes, before Tony and Clint started laughing and Steve gave a slow, almost disbelieving blink.
"That's what I'm talking about!" Tony laughed, clapping Bruce on the shoulder. "I knew you had it in you, buddy. Good for you."
Bruce rolled his eyes, but smiled fondly as well.
~One Month Later~
Ross kept his expression neutral as he slid a picture and a slip of paper across the rickety table he was seated at.
"Your target is Dr. Bruce Banner." he said shortly, glancing up to the man sitting across from him.
He was in his thirties, black haired and blue eyed, with a tall, lithe build. His hair was cropped short and he had a strict no-nonsense look about him.
"You can find him at that address in New York City." he continued, not at all fazed by the man's silence. Mercenaries weren't known for being all the talkative.
"I'll want $250,000 up front and $250,000 after it's done." the man said eventually, looking over the picture with a critical eye. "Don't think I don't recognize the address of Stark Tower. It's not exactly an easy job for that reason. But if you have the money, I'll get it done."
Ross gave a short nod before writing out a check and sliding it across the the man.
"We'll meet here again once it's done. You know how to get a hold of me."
"Give me about a week." the man said, grabbing the check and quickly leaving the small cabin.
Ross watched him leave with a smug smirk. No, it wasn't the most conventional or moral method, but if it got rid of that monster called the Hulk, he was okay with it.
He was surprised to get a call from the mercenary three days later, asking to meet. When he got there, the man was already waiting and all but shoved the check he'd written out before back at him.
"You are freaking crazy if you think anyone will take this hit." the man hissed, eyes wide with what Ross believed to be fear. "Do you realize that Hawkeye lives in that building? That he's all chummy with your target?"
"So what?" Ross demanded, shoulders stiffening. He'd met Hawkeye, and certainly hadn't been impressed by him.
"Holy Jesus, you have a death wish. You don't screw with Hawkeye. That bastard will find you, and he will put a damn arrow through your eye." the mercenary shook his head, raising his hands up in surrender, taking a few steps back. "The guy is one of the deadliest assassins you will ever meet. You won't find one country on Earth where they don't know his name. Some say he's a demon. There is no amount of money that could make me screw with him. And that's not even taking into account his friend the Black Widow. She's just as deadly, if not more so. Take a little advice from me and drop this. You aren't going to find anyone stupid enough to take this contract."
With that, the man turned and retreated out of the cabin without so much as a single glance back.
Every single hired gun that Ross managed to get a hold of within the next two weeks had very similar reactions. As soon as they became aware that the man called Hawkeye was even the slightest bit involved, they high-tailed it out of there no matter how much money the general was willing to offer.
Finally, just as Ross was beginning to consider giving up, he met the man for his job. Medium height, heavy-set and former military sniper, the man was unfazed when he mentioned the fact that both Hawkeye and the Black Widow would be close by during the hit.
"Don't matter." the man had grunted, eyeing the check offered to him. "The Hawk's just a man that's earned a reputation. Same goes for the Widow. Got a respect for them, but not a fear. I'll get your job done."
Jerry Smith was not a man that feared. He'd worked alongside the now-famous Hawkeye before, when he was just a kid taking contracts. And Widow was a close-quarters fighter. He'd never even have to be on her radar.
He set up his rifle on a roof top facing the entrance to Stark Tower, setting up his scope to wait for his mark to exit the building.
Surveillance had been tough, the Tower known for having tighter security than the White House. So, Jerry had been content to just choose his vantage point and wait the good doctor out, knowing he had to exit at some point.
It was his second night of waiting, watching the comings and goings of the doors to the Tower in what amounted to patient boredom.
He spun, shocked that someone had been able to sneak up on him. He had a knife in hand, but felt his heart sink when he saw none other than the Black Widow crouched behind him and ready to strike.
"Hawkeye recognized you." she explained easily, not moving herself and her sharp eyes tracking every one of his. "He says hi too."
The red headed woman pointed to the roof of the building directly to Stark Tower's left, a dark figure standing at the edge with what was probably a bow barely discernible.
Jerry swallowed loudly and slowly raised his hands in a non-threatening gesture, tossing his small knife onto the roof between him and the other assassin.
"I don't have a quarrel with either of you." he said slowly, meeting her gaze to show his honesty. "I just have a contract we all know how that is."
"Which is why you're not dead." Widow agreed with a slight nod, making Jerry feel slightly uneasy. "But we're not exactly going to let you shoot at a friend of ours."
"Shoot at?" Jerry questioned, eyes narrowing in confusion at her wording. "Not just kill, but shoot at."
"Yes. See this more for your protection than his. No bullet would kill him. Wouldn't even leave a wound behind. We'd just end up with a very pissed, very green Hulk on our hands. No one wants that." she explained and Jerry felt himself pale.
"Seems like something I should have known about in the first place." he said lightly, and Widow just shrugged.
"As far as we know, Ross isn't aware of that particular fact." she said easily and Jerry gave a short nod, not surprised that they knew who had hired him. He didn't have to waste his breath trying to defend the man, after all. "We are, though. Very aware if you get my meaning."
Jerry grunted, wondering if he should just ask to leave, or if that would just send the encounter downhill. His hand to hand was nothing to underestimate, but the Black Widow could kill him in one move, with five seconds. He wasn't stupid.
"Hawkeye's kind of curious as to why you actually took the contract. We've seen at least five others start, and then beat it within three days." Widow said lightly and Jerry felt himself stiffen.
"A job's a job, no matter whose involved." he said simply, and she gave a slow nod, before nodding for him to look behind him.
Slowly, he turned, not at all liking the fact that he was putting his back to her.
Within moments, he heard the tell-tale sound of an approaching arrow and took a small step back, just in time to see the weapon fly straight into the barrel of his rifle.
Jerry felt his blood run cold at the sight of the arrow's black, sleek fletching sticking out of the barrel. The archer was on the other side of the street, at least 700 yards away, and adding in the breeze from the traffic below... The shot should have been impossible with a gun, much less an arrow.
"That's for you." Widow's voice sounded from his right, just as another arrow slammed into the roof top a few inches to the left of his rifle, the tip actually imbedded into the concrete. "And that's for Ross."
Ross' arrow actually had a slip of paper secured around the shaft, and Jerry felt himself nodding without his brain's express consent.
Even so, he spoke gruffly, not bothering to turn to face the Black Widow.
"Right. I'm just going to grab that and go then."
"Good plan." she said lightly, taking a few small steps to be side to prove that she wasn't going to hinder his exit.
As quickly as humanly possible, Jerry packed up his rifle, leaving the arrow in the barrel seeing as he knew it was going to take some effort to remove. He then grabbed the arrow meant for his employer and sat it on the very top inside his duffle before turning and leaving the roof without a glance back.
Ross was livid as he returned to his office after meeting with the last assassin he'd hired. The arrow and check he'd been given were in his jacket, and while he'd seen the note on the weapon, he hadn't yet read it.
What had shaken him slightly was the arrow the man had shown him that had been shot into his rifle barrel. He didn't expressly think it possible and was reluctant to believe his story.
As he slammed his door behind him, he glanced to his desk, freezing when he saw someone seated in his chair.
"I wish I could say that I was sorry for causing your anger." he man said lightly, spinning slightly in the chair and watching him carefully. "But that'd be lying. I'm thrilled, giddy even. What's that, six guys I've sent running back to you?"
"How the hell do you get in here?" Ross spat, recognizing the man as Hawkeye.
The man he'd met before when he'd visited Stark Tower, and the man that'd sent every hit man he'd hired running back to him.
The guy certainly didn't look intimidating; muscled yes, but smaller than any of the people he had sent. He didn't understand what about this 'Hawkeye' had sent all those assassins into such a frenzy. To him, the guy was all talk and no action.
"That's for me to know and for you to worry yourself sick over trying to figure out." the younger man gave a dark smirk that sent chills up Ross' spine. Not that the general would ever admit it. "I would have made a house call, but Bruce didn't want your daughter worried. He didn't expressly want me here either, but the rest of us weren't just going to let you slide with putting out a hit on him. Not that it would have done much other than send the Big Guy into a furious frenzy, but maybe that's what you were going for in the first place." Hawkeye shrugged, before nodding to the chair closest to the general.
Ross scowled and didn't move. He wasn't going to bossed around and intimidated by this man in his own office. He reached for his radio, only to pause when the younger man tisked.
"I wouldn't. They're going to be here in a few minutes anyway to fire your ass, so I don't think you'd want to speed up the process." the younger, sandy-haired man said lightly, making Ross gape at him.
"What are you talking about?" he demanded hotly, fists clenching and eyes narrowing. "I am in good standing with the Army, they're not going to just fire me."
"Hmmm." the man at his desk shrugged, eyes bright with mirth. "If you say so. Anyway, the reason I'm here. I suppose you haven't gotten around to reading the little note around the arrow shaft I sent back for you. Doesn't matter."
Ross watched, not bothering to hide a glare, as Hawkeye reached down and pulled a file up and setting it on the desk, spinning it so it faced the general. Grudgingly curious, he took a quick step forward and flipped it open, eyes widening when he saw his own picture staring up at him, the words 'ACTION PENDING' stamped across the paper beneath.
"This is your entire file, from the minute you were born until yesterday." Hawkeye said with another smirk, leaning back. "We know everything about you."
"We?" Ross asked tersely, flipping through it quickly and scowling when he saw reports of things he didn't really want reported.
"SHIELD. I am an agent; working for them, taking out who they tell me to." the younger man pointed out, but Ross just tossed the file back onto the desk. "See those words, 'ACTION PENDING'? That means I am this close from getting my boss to let me put an arrow through your eye socket."
The man held his fingers about a centimeter apart for emphasis and Ross felt his blood run cold. He opened his mouth to speak, but this time Hawkeye cut him off, his expression darkening into one that he was most definitely afraid of.
The younger man's gray eyes alone held a glint that said he would not hesitate to do just that, and more if he could get away with. It was an expression that said anyone with a hint of sanity had better run like hell in the other direction, or this assassin was going to make sure that you stopped breathing. It wasn't any emotion in particular that Ross could identify; certainly not anger like he would have expected.
"Let me make certain that you understand before you say something that just pisses me off more. The moment you even think about taking another course of action against Bruce, I will get my 'okay'. And the moment I do, I will thoroughly enjoy taking you out, with extreme prejudice. Understand?"
Ross was going to start spouting off about their presence in the United States of America, where he had no right to threaten him in such a way. But then, he stopped, sure that SHIELD's scope was larger than he wanted to realize.
Hawkeye must have seen the change in his eyes, the onslaught of the fear, because he smirked and stood.
"I'm glad we understand each other." he said lightly, just as there was a knock on the office door, the unmistakable voice of the Secretary of Defense announcing his presence. Ross turned to look with wide eyes, before looking back to see the assassin inexplicably gone without a sound or trace of him ever being there.
So, there it is. It's currently only a one-shot but if you'd like to see it continued, please tell me so in a review. (Which I really do appreciate receiving)
I hope you enjoyed it!