Barton And Banner Walk Into A Bar

Summery: Natasha forces Clint to socialize with his new teammates after the battle against Loki. In retrospect taking Banner to a bar probably wasn't the brightest idea. A collaborated fic between Strawberrywaltz and Lou-deadfroggy.

Strawberrywaltz A/N: Hey guys, this lovely story is a combined effort between myself and the lovely Lou-deadfroggy ^^ She wrote for Bruce and I wrote for Clint (and Natasha) and this is what we came up with – a angst fest! This story is complete, I will be updating once ever other day.

Lou-deadfroggy A/N: Thanks for reading and cyber cookies to you all! We would like to apologize to Clint and definitely the owner of this bar!

Part One

Clint was not dealing with the aftermath of Loki. At least not well. He knew it and worse yet, Natasha knew it. When it came to Clint's mental or physical state, Natasha was like a dog with bone – she wouldn't let it go.

"At least try to get to know the others." The redhead growled at Clint as he came out of the shower. They had sparred most of the afternoon in silence, how Clint missed it. While they trained all the archer could think about was the next move, the next block and the next attack – there was little room for anything else.

Things like being mind-raped by a disgruntled God and forced to turn against SHIELD, his country – hell, his whole freaking planet. It was all still too much to process, so Clint avoided it. He also avoided people.

Shortly after the Loki disaster, Fury moved his two best agents into the newly named Avengers Tower. Mostly because they were part of the shiny new team of superheroes but also because SHIELD was in a state of chaos.

The Council still wasn't sure exactly what to do with Clint. His mind had been breached by the enemy, all of his secrets given up with the simple touch of a staff – Barton had been compromised.

The Director assured Clint that he wouldn't be punished or taken into custody for his actions under the alien's influence – this didn't really make Clint feel better. Clint was safer away from people.

"You need to get to know your team." Natasha repeated as Clint silently pulled on a clean black shirt. "Just start by talking to them. They aren't all annoying like Stark."

With a shake of his head the archer sighed. "Tasha – "

"No." The Russian interrupted harshly. "Go. Take one of them out for a drink. You probably could use a good buzz anyway."

With a second long-suffering sigh Clint gave up. There was no use arguing with Natasha, the woman was almost as stubborn as he was.

"Fine." He agreed unhappily as he grabbed his black leather jacket. "But for the record, you're mean." Clint grumbled and headed out the door.

"You wouldn't have me any other way!" Natasha chimed happily after her partner.

As Clint walked down the hall he thought about his choices. Yes, he could simply go out alone, but off course he'd have to face the Widow's wrath later.

Steve seemed like an okay guy, but the solider was almost as elusive as Clint around the tower. The Captain was busy though as he tried to catch up on the time he lost.

Tony was less desirable. The man was loud mouthed, pushy, and drew way to much attention to himself. At the moment Clint had no desire to interact with someone like that. He wanted a quiet drink.

Thor was the last person Clint wanted to be around. He was the brother of the man who had controlled Clint's mind. It wasn't fair to judge Thor by his brother's actions, but Thor was a painful reminder of everything that had happened. Everything Clint tried so hard to forget.

That left the wild card – Bruce Banner.

Bruce was quiet, timid even. Honestly Clint only knew a hand full of things about the man. He was a scientist turned experiment with extremely deadly rage issues. After the 'accident' that created the Hulk, Banner was basically hunted down. When SHIELD had learned about Bruce they had offered to step in.

The Hulk was dangerous, yes, but he had potential. The Hulk had shown that potential in the battle when the green beast saved Tony Stark from his swan dive back towards Earth.

Clint could relate to the guy. Better now than he would have before. Clint knew what it was like to lose control and hurt people.

Okay, so Banner probably could use a drink as well.

With a grunt Clint headed towards the labs only to find them empty. "If I were a mad scientist, where would I go to unwind?" With sharp turn Barton started to walk. "The library, of course."

As he approached Clint's stomach tightened a bit. He wanted to return to the safety of his roof, up high where he could watch over the city. Prepare for the next attack. Protect the world – protect himself.

"Suck it up." Clint growled and pushed open the library door, maybe he'd be wrong and – nope. There was Bruce, nose in a book, just like the archer had thought. "Uh." Clint tried to capture the doctor's attention. "Look, I was going out for a drink. Do you want to come?" Like ripping off a Band-Aid, Clint thought to himself once the hard part was over.

Maybe Bruce would refuse – that way Clint could at least say he tried when Natasha interrogated him later.

It wasn't even that he didn't want to hang out with the doctor – Clint just didn't want to do anything. He'd rather go hide in the vents or focus on a target. Sit in the dark, alone, and suffer for what he had done. Blame himself for everything he couldn't stop. Dwell.

Yeah, that wasn't healthy.

Silently he waited for the doctor's response.

Bruce had expected an overexcited Tony to appear web the door opened quietly; maybe the man was trying to sneak up on him, do he didn't bother looking up. When Clint's voice came instead he lifted his eyes slightly.

The archer stood as awkwardly as if he had just caught him with his clothes off or something instead of reading. Bruce tilted his head to one side, trying to work out why Clint would ask him to go and have a drink. He seemed more like the kind of person who would go alone and anyway, he had Natasha.

Unless, thought Bruce, it had been Natasha's suggestion that he socialize with people other than her. It didn't take the doctor long to figure out why he had been chosen over Tony or Thor. What puzzled him was why Clint hadn't gone for Steve, a fellow soldier and more in with SHIELD.

"Sure, thanks." It wasn't often people asked him to spend time with them, even rarer did they offer to put him in the same place as alcohol. Somehow the fashion for drinking with the Hulk had never quite caught on. Clint didn't seem scared of him, which was more than most of the SHIELD agents he had met were. No, he just seemed awkward.

Bruce did a quick scramble for the elusive bookmark, found the old train ticket from the days he could actually go on the subway and closed the book. He hardly knew his way around New York so he wasn't going to suggest a bar and had a feeling that Clint didn't mean just finding some alcohol in Tony's kitchen.

"We're relying on you to know somewhere good by the way," he told the archer.

Clint's eyes widened a bit with surprise, but nodded. "I know a place."

With a wave Barton led the way out of the library and towards the elevator. They entered the small elevator car and Clint gave a sideway glance to the doctor. He wondered slightly how Bruce could handle small spaces – or rather how the 'other guy' could handle small spaces.

Clint also puzzled over why Bruce had agreed to go out. It felt too easy. There had been no real hesitation – just a small pause for consideration. The archer wondered vaguely if it was Bruce who avoided people, or people who avoided Bruce. Either way Clint was glad he'd approached Bruce over the others.

The archer himself wasn't overly worried about being in such a small space with the Hulk – Banner could contain himself. Not to mention as a trained SHIELD agent Clint always had an escape plan – even when he didn't directly think about it.

"So," Clint spoke when the elevator doors opened for them. The archer thought for a moment, unsure how to start a conversation with the scientist. The hell with it, Clint glared to himself. "Natasha told me to socialize." He announced - it was always safe to start with the truth. "So this is me socializing."

They approached the bar Clint had chosen, located a good block away from the tower. Politely Barton held the door for the doctor. The place was called Amnesia, a quaint bar that was typically a quiet hang out. Phil had introduced Clint to the place; the memory hurt the archer's heart. Immediately Barton ordered a glass of whiskey.

"Booth or would you rather sit at the bar?" Clint asked his companion.

It was still relatively early in the night. The place buzzed with a limited amount of customers. It would probably get busier as the night progressed.

After the Loki disaster SHIELD had done a media sweep, destroying any imagery of Barton and Natasha being involved in the battle. Their identities were sacred, if tainted their usefulness as SHIELD assassins would vanish – and Clint didn't want to lose anything else to Loki. The archer's mind, his self-control, and his handler were enough collateral.

Bruce didn't need to worry about being recognized either, no one would recognize his human self. If by off chance the 'other guy' did make an appearance at the bar – and Clint really doubted the green giant would – no one would remember Bruce's face in the aftermath.

"We may as well stay at the bar, unless this is one of the few places where the booths don't smell permanently of smoke and sick," Bruce answered, shrugging as he slipped into a tall chair and ordering a scotch. He looked around, taking in the slightly faded walls that looked too cheerful for a bar and the bored waitress cleaning glasses.

He wasn't really sure why Clint had chosen the place, it would probably get too crowded later on and wasn't the sort of dark and dingy place he had envisioned the Hawk hanging out in. Then again, he hadn't really put Clint down as a person who frequented bars, more as a stay at home with a can of beer type.

They sat in silence for a bit, not an awkward one but simply neither of them felt the need to say anything like Tony always did. The scotch was alright, he thought as he sipped it, not mind blowing but he didn't want to pour it down the drain.

The bar wasn't even half-full, mostly the first few after work drinkers coming in as they got out early. He didn't even know if there was some game on that would mean the place, along with every other bar in the city, would soon be flooded. The name above the door was Amnesia, forgetting. That struck him as slightly comical considering the effects alcohol usually had on people.

"You're doing a great job of socializing," he told Clint eventually. "Natasha will be very proud of you." He mock toasted the archer with a slight grin.

Clint nodded his agreement mutely and slipped onto the stool next to the doctor. They fell into a compatible silence as Clint took a sip of the drink the bartender had placed in front of him. The drink slipped down his throat and the burn cures nice and slow.

In all honesty Clint wasn't much of a drinker. Not only had his father been a drunk through most of Barton's childhood but it had been a drunk driver that had ended up killing his parents. Some nights Clint dreamed about the police officer telling him the 'bad' news.

That dream didn't haunt Clint as much anymore. There were so many new nightmares the archer's mind couldn't replay old classics.

Barton nursed the glass between his hands as Bruce broke the quiet. Clink chuckled lightly before he responded. "Well, I don't have much to say these days." Barton admitted lightly giving Bruce a sideways glance. "Unless you want to compare sob stories."

Bruce let out a hollow chuckle.

"Sob stories? I guess the other guy's my trump card but somehow no one ever cries over him, they're more likely to just back away." He wasn't sure that he could even tell Clint about himself, he usually just talked about his life after the accident.

His life before had become nothing more than a collection of memories, separated in the same way his present ones were: good and bad. Although the bad ones weren't tinged with green. He had never spoken about his childhood before.

Still there was a first time for everything.

Hope you enjoyed the first chapter! Two more sections to go ^^

Reviews are loved!