Between Heartbeats

Or, Five Times Clint Barton's life changed.

Fittingly enough for a sniper, his life seems to take place in the space between heartbeats. The irony isn't lost on him.

For the cottoncandy-bingo prompt "Heartache". Fill for my Wild Card spot!

I'll be posting the rest of this as I finish editing. Thanks for reading!

The blood running down his face makes him feel like he's crying, except he doesn't do that, hasn't done that in years because Daddy doesn't like it when boys cry. He also doesn't like it when they call him Daddy instead of Dad or sir (because it's always yes, sir, no, sir at the end of every sentence, always, always, always), but he's not so good at remembering that. Barney remembers, but Barney's seven and goes to school and they teach him how to remember things like the names for colors and shapes and all those squiggles that get mixed up inside his head when he tries to understand them.

Daddy . . . Dad says that the teachers are idiots who don't know nothing about anything, and that his boys should stay at home and learn real things, important things like shooting and hunting, but after the old lady with the blue hair and the purple suit came to visit, Barney started going to the school in town and Clint had to stay at home with Mommy all alone, helping her keep everything clean.

He likes staying at home with Mommy, likes singing with her while they scrub the floors and iron the drapes. He also likes baking, likes measuring and pouring and mixing, but Mommy always tells him that he's not allowed to tell anybody about that, and she always makes double sure to scrub his hands and change his shirt before Daddy gets home from work.

There's too much blood in his eyes, and he swipes at it, but that just makes it worse and now there's some in his mouth.

He spits before he remembers that you aren't supposed to do that kind of thing in the car, but Daddy's not moving in the front seat, so maybe he didn't notice yet and Clint won't get punished.

Clint struggles to move, but he can't really feel his right arm and the seat buckle is too hard for him to open without both hands. He strains his head, looking over to the seat beside him where Barney is supposed to be.

He starts to realize that there's a buzzing in his ears when he notices Barney leaning over the seat back in front of him. Barney's shaking Mommy's shoulder and his mouth is open, and Clint knows that he should hear something, that Barney's shouting, but he can't hear a single thing over the buzz, the hum, the ringing in his ears.

The flashing red and blue lights are the last thing he remembers before he slips into blackness, but he will always remember them. They haunt him for the rest of his life.