Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Avengers or their awesome world :'(
Wow, sorry for the months and months and years and millennium that I haven't updated :[
The bell hanging on the door rang quietly and the man walked in. Jenny looked up from the counter.
"Ahh, Mr. Corey," she smiled, "the usual?"
Normally he would smile, and say how she could call him Jake instead of Mr. Corey. Then he would ask, cheekily, 'you know my usual?' and she would laugh and start making the coffee for him. He would take his favourite seat from the door with his back to the wall where he would drink his coffee without looking up from his newspaper. Then when he was done, he would drop a generous tip in the jar and say that he'll be back next week.
When he walked in this week he pulled the corners of his lips up into a grimace and said, "No thanks. Espresso please," when she asked their typical question. His voice was rough and when he brought up his hand to cough into it, Jenny saw white bandages wrapped around his left arm beneath his sleeve. His normally bright, stormy eyes were dull, and he had dark circles under his eyes. When she clearly looked taken aback, he smiled very faintly. "Rough week?" she asked.
He laughed, but it seemed a little bitter "Just a little." He had never come into the little cafe without looking at least somewhat happy. Or just a little more relaxed. He walked – or limped – over to the secluded little booth and slipped into the seat quietly. Jenny frowned and started making the coffee.
Clint walked down the street uncomfortably. The cuts on the back of his knees, though healing, where still chafing painfully. He knew that his often strong facade wasn't really on today. He could have made the effort to walk that little bit taller and relax the frown above his eyes that little bit more, and he knew that then people wouldn't even look his way. But he just felt that he shouldn't be hiding in the background any more. He should visible to all the judging stares from everyone for everything he'd done. He felt guilty.
His recent mission to Egypt – although successful – had hit him hard. Despite all the training S.H.I.E.L.D could give their agents against physical torture, there is very little they can do to prepare them mentally.
The man that was targeted (and doing the torturing) knew Clint wouldn't break from anything that he could inflict physically. Instead, he had dug up a few of Clint's previous missions, (not all of them, thankfully) but still several targets Clint had killed over the before he had been picked up by S.H.I.E.L.D – which meant they were missions that Clint had done for money, and that half the time they weren't bad people. Of one of the missions, one that had been done in England was the one that hit hard. It had been a young man, that was the little brother of someone that owed Clint's employer money but couldn't afford to pay it.
Although Clint had kept up his stony face, saying – hoping – he was still better then the guys that were torturing him. He pretended it didn't bother him, but it really did.
It really did bother Clint that he had shot a 26 year old guy, just getting his life ready, about to propose to his girlfriend and who knows what else. There had been a few others – not all exactly good people, but no one bad enough to be shot through the throat with an arrow. The torturers knew this was Clint's one true weakness; a deep, stinging guilt for all the things he had done in his life.
Of course, Clint, the efficient assassin that he was, managed to escape facility, killing everyone on his way out. The mission was considered successful, but what the man had said to Clint lingered in the archer's mind.
So when he walked into the little cafe, he really couldn't be bothered putting on his mask of the hard-working Jake Corey. He heard the bell ring above his head – he hated that bell. It just meant everyone knew that he was there when he entered the cafe, but equally, he thought it was fitting if everyone was going to know who he was and all the shit he'd done. When Jenny asked him if he wanted the usual, throwing in a glance at his wrist that she thought he wouldn't notice, he realised how tired he was. "No thanks. Espresso please."
He noticed the surprised look in the waitress' eyes. "Rough week?" she asked.
He wanted to say, None of your fucking business.
Instead he said, "Just a little." He put on a weary smile; half a mask just because he didn't want to feel any more guilty by making some poor girl feel like he'd been rude. Paying the waitress for his drink he walked away, still not bothering to hide his limp because she had already seen his arms.
He slipped into the booth while pulling out a newspaper that he pretended to read as a cover. This was the only booth that he felt somewhat comfortable in. None of the others had complete view of the cafe and the door, and Clint's booth was closest to the toilets for an easy escape. Jenny walked up to the table carrying his coffee and a biscuit on the side. The biscuits were one of the reasons he came to this place and no other. Besides the obvious things, such as security and quick escapes, should he ever needed it, he knew the one reason he came back here was because he wasn't Clint Barton for just 20 minutes. He could just sit there, eating the surprisingly amazing biscuit, drinking his sub-par coffee, and 'reading' a paper from when he and the Avengers had saved the city from when Loki had attacked.
He sat there for a while, even after he'd finished his biscuit (which didn't take long), and after the froth that Clint hated but still drunk had disappeared from his glass. He made a show of looking at his phone, just for something to do, and for a little while it made him feel like some normal guy working a 9-5 job in some cramped office somewhere. If only the phone hadn't been given to him (and designed of course) by Stark.
Clint looked down at the crumbs on the side of his coffee cup from the biscuit, and his mind drifted to the idea of making them one day for everyone. They were pretty damn good cookies after all. He could tell pretty much what was in them, but there was something else – something that added a bit of spice to them. Cinnamon? Clint thought to himself, studying a crumb between callused fingers.
He knew in the back of his mind that for some reason he didn't want to leave the small, quirky little cafe. He knew he'd been gone for a little too long – more than he thought he would be at least – but the reluctant part of him argued that other people were out as well. He knew Natasha was grocery shopping, as funny as that sounded – but she was sent to get the private little things that each Avenger that would be identified by the public wanted (but didn't want Tony to buy it for them, because they were often things the genius would tease the other about). Equally, some of the Avengers felt bad about Tony buying everything for them, which was the reason Steve had given Natasha this morning to buy him some more art supplies. Natasha and Clint were really the only ones that could actually go out into public, though occasionally Clint did get a couple of looks of confusion, as if the person knew him from somewhere, but couldn't figure out where. The same happened for Natasha, but she also more attention from a bunch of creepy guys who saw her as a pretty object instead of the killer that she was.
Clint knew that Tony would be out doing something...Starkish, and that Thor would probably still be asleep. Steve would be in the gym, or just watching old Looney Tunes shows. He didn't know what Banner would be doing – maybe yoga – but that didn't matter anyway. So Clint went back to 'reading' the paper, looking at the real estate section. He was scanning over a particularly ugly house when the dreaded bell chimed and he heard someone come in. Immediately, he knew it was a woman – a girl – because of the sounds the shoes were making. But a voice spoke then and he knew that it wasn't too old. And the steps seemed a little uneven, as if the feet making them weren't entirely balanced. So he immediately summed up a girl – probably a teenager – trying to make herself look older than she was. He glanced up, and saw he was correct. She was probably 16, dressing herself up to look 20, and the attitude of a older person that thought they'd seen it all and deserved their weight in gold.
He instantly disliked her. She walked in and made a show of looking around, pulling her sunglasses off her eyes, even though it wasn't sunny outside. She opened up her bag to pull out a purse to pull out her money with pristine hardened nails. When Jenny told her that they didn't actually do grande size, she pouted, looking (what Clint thought at least) like a duck.
And Clint thought spitefully, These are the morons that I have the back of my knees slashed for.
He sighed and put his paper back on the shelf next to his booth, and stood up slowly. He made his way to the front to put that tip in for Jenny that he always did, and overheard the conversation between her and the new girl.
"I'm sorry-" Jenny trailed off, not knowing the girl's name.
"Angelica," the girl snapped.
"I'm sorry, Angelica, but I don't have change for a..." she trailed off again, looking at the bill Angelica was throwing in her face, "hundred."
Angelica sighed, as if this was the pinnacle of her problems. "As if. This is a cafe for pete's sake, not a vending machine! Why don't you have change for a hundred?"
God, even her accent's annoying. Clint groaned to himself.
"Here," he sighed. "I have some spare cash." Clint brought the attention to himself and suddenly the girl spun round, all round eyes and clumped mascara.
Eww, Clint thought immaturely. Why can't she put make-up on like Natasha? He controlled a shudder that was threatening to rip down his back when the girl batted her eyelashes.
"Oh. Thank you." She smiled, and Clint was blinded by whitened teeth.
Angelica promptly turned, nearly whipping Clint with her hair, and paid Jenny. Then she reached over to the numbers and pinched number 1, ignoring Jenny's number that she was holding out.
"I'm in a hurry," she said to Clint, as if that explained everything.
Clint just frowned.
"Why don't you come sit with me? We can chat – get to know each other, you know?"
Clint just raised his eyebrows. "Sorry, I have to go. I'm late for a meeting."
"Ooh. What do you do?" Angelica asked, dragging him over to the nearest table and sitting down.
Clint stood there awkwardly. "I'm in...protection. Defense and stuff."
"Ooh my gosh! That's awesome! Do you mean like a body guard?" Angelica asked, and Clint saw her eyes brighten at the question.
Ugh, he thought.
"No, not really," he decided to scrap any job that might sound impressive, if only that would let him get out of here. "Like home defense. Roller doors, security systems, alarms. That sort of thing."
"Oh." She looked crestfallen. "Oh, that's cool, I guess."
"Yeah, I gotta run." He said, and looked at his wrist – even though he didn't have a watch there.
She laughed as if ignoring what he just said, and replied, "I thought for a second that you did what my Daddy did. He's a bodyguard."
Clint growled in his head. Ughh, why me?
"I get teased at school because I don't have my own car yet. It was my birthday, like, two weeks ago, and Daddy still hasn't bought me a car. The other girls at school say it's because he's a bodyguard and not a lawyer," she whined.
Oh my God, shut up.
"It's just not fair you know? So many other people have such awesome lives, wearing glamorous clothes, driving fast cars, living near the beach you know? And I get stuck here, wearing my sister's old clothes that aren't even in the stores any more, they're that out of fashion. And once, I had to wear this same dress to two parties. It was humiliating. Thank god Britney didn't realised, otherwise I would have been out of the group forever."
Please shut up.
"Come on, why won't you talk? I like, really need someone to talk to." She batted her eyes again, and Clint sighed. It's either that or be tested on like a lab rat by Tony all afternoon.
He reluctantly sat down.
"I'm Angelica." She held her hand out.
"Clint," he muttered.
"Clint? That's an odd name, don't you think?"
"Oh, I've heard plenty of stranger names, Angelica," he fake smiled.
Her coffee arrived in record time, "Finally," she heaved a sigh.
While Jenny was putting the coffee down on the table, Angelica turned to Clint and said, "I really don't like this place. It's so...ew, you know?"
I just don't understand why you won't shut up.
Clint didn't say anything aloud.
When Jenny turned and stalked off (Clint noticed that Angelica didn't get a biscuit like he always did) the teenager started talking:
"Oh. My god. OK, so anyway, Clint, the other day, I was having this coffee in this little place in Paris. From over the mid-term break?" The what? "But anyway, I saw this girl, Cindy, that I know from school. And just between you and me," It wouldn't just be between you and me, Angelica, I can imagine you telling everyone, "she is such a bitch! But she came over, and totally laughed at my shoes, just because they were this new colour that my friend, not friend anymore, said would be in fashion later. And I completely trusted her! And they are not in fashion, I'll tell you that. So now, two girls that I thought were friends, but really aren't are now bitching about me at school," ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod- shutup. The girl broke off, and Clint realised that she was probably going to cry.
She started talking again, (it didn't take her long), "My life just, sucks, you know? Why does all this stuff have to happen to me? And then Daddy didn't buy me the Porsche that I wanted," Are you serious? "And then one of my fish got sick and died! And the girls at school – well, you know that story – and the guy I was going to invite to the prom invited someone else. And now I have to buy a dress for the prom and convince Mom or Daddy to hire out a limo to get me there. But now without a date, I don't know what to do!"
"Cool story," Clint muttered under his breath.
"Huh?" Clint said innocently.
There was silence for a few moments, before Angelica said, "What do I do Vince?"
There was a pause before Clint (or Vince) said anything. "I think you have a pretty tough life," he answered sarcastically.
"I know right? I mean-"
"No, you don't understand. I was being completely sarcastic. You seem to live in this luxurious life where Mommy and Daddy pay for everything. All you seem to worry about it what other people think about you. I mean, you're what, 16? And you want a car? Are you serious? The fact that you walked here means you probably have a place around here with your parents, and this is a pretty expensive area. So, I understand your 16. Maybe it's too much of the world to ask for you to grow up and realise you're living the highlife. Because face it, so many people have it worse than you."
Angelica, eyes wide, blinked off her shock at being so verbally outdone. "And you think you have it worse than me? Is that it?"
Clint didn't hesitate, "No. I reckon I have an awesome life," and he realised it was true. It wasn't like a full on epiphany-oh-my-god-I-know-the-meaning-of-life kind of thing, but he still realised that he loved his life and his family.
"Great, you just ruined my day," she said snarkily, and got up. As she stalked out, wobbling in her ridiculously high heels, something fluttered out of her bag. As she slammed the door, the bell ringing cheerily, Clint stood up and went to see what she had dropped.
He realised that it was the 100-dollar bill, and he quickly scooped it up and stepped outside, hoping to return it to her. When he couldn't see her, he shrugged and thought, Well, I'm sure I can put it to better use than she ever would.
Well there's the main chapter. I actually though about doing this from Dean's POV from the show Supernatural, but then I was already half-way in and there was too much to change and frankly I couldn't be bothered.
Also, the epilogue is going up, right now :)
PS. It should be up by now ;)