Title: And Then There Was Us
Author: SLynn
Rating: M
Fandom: Avengers (movieverse)

Characters: Maria Hill, Clint Barton, Clint/Maria

Spoilers: For the movie.

Summary: Maria Hill thought she knew what she wanted out of life.

Notes: This fic takes place mainly before, but also during and after the Avengers movie. The chapters all vary in length, some being much longer than others, not because I necessarily wanted it that way, but that's just how I wrote it. The three shortest chapters are these first ones, so that is why I'm posting so many today. The rating is primarily for language, but there are some suggestive situations. Also... I have no idea where this came from! This isn't my primary ship but I kind of love it. I hope you do as well. Enjoy!


i.

"Agent Maria Hill, I'd like you to meet Agent Clint Barton," Agent Coulson said, gesturing towards the other man. "He's one of our assets and has agreed to give you some additional training on the range."

"You know I hate it when you call me that, Phil," Barton said, his mouth almost twisting into a smile as he patted him on the back. "Makes it sound like you ordered me out of the back of an IKEA catalog."

"If we did, we'd of returned you for a refund," Coulson joked back.

Maria watched on and was stunned into silence, managing a stiff nod which earned a shrug and eye roll from Agent Barton and a near-scowl from Agent Coulson.

She was used to it. First impressions weren't her strong suite. Neither were second impressions if she was being honest with herself.

Still, faulty facial expressions aside, she couldn't believe how flippant this man was. Agent Coulson was both his and her superior, technically, and you just couldn't call your, for lack of a better word, boss by his first name. It wasn't done. And you certainly didn't crack jokes with him. Until this moment she hadn't realized Agent Coulson could laugh. Which was how it should be.

And also, this was Barton?

Maria had been with SHIELD for five years, ever since completing her master's degree and a four year stint in the Air Force. She knew what the organization did, but largely her job had kept her in an office environment. She'd finally begun the transition to field agent, had begun to move up, and this was the first time she was actually meeting an 'asset' face-to-face. Asset was the codeword used amongst SHIELD agents for its assassins. To call them assassins seemed impolite. They were trained killers who took out targets, usually on solo missions, and had fewer constraints on them than the typical field agent.

It was strangely underwhelming.

"I'll leave you to it," Coulson said, choosing to ignore the tension that had suddenly cropped up due to Maria's less than warm response, before retreating off the range.

"All right, Agent Hill," Barton said, clipping her name short as he led her to the target he had set up. "Let's see what you've got."

"What am I supposed to do?" she asked after they'd stood there for several minutes in complete silence, staring at one another.

"Well, I suppose you could pick up that gun and shoot that target. That's why you're here, isn't it?"

"And you couldn't just say that?"

"I'm not in the habit of stating the obvious, Agent Hill."

"Are you in the habit of actually giving instruction, Agent Barton?"

"Funny thing that," he replied, smiling but in no way looking amused as he had before, "I thought I had."

Maria grit her teeth. This is more like what she'd expected. She'd met too many assholes to let him get to her, or so she thought, because as she fired the first three shots, she missed. Undeterred, she finished the clip before setting the gun down and turned her eyes back to Barton.

"Have you ever qualified on the range?" he finally asked after some more awkward and unnecessary silence.

"Yes."

"Was the administrator blind?"

"If you don't want to help me -"

"Oh, I don't," he interrupted, crossing his arms and looking completely unconcerned. "I really don't, but I told Phil I would and if I back out now, when you inevitably get yourself killed out there in the real world, he'll probably make me write the letter of condolence to your family. And I hate lying, so, first things first. Your form is awful. Your feet should be further apart and you have got to relax."

"I am relaxed," she interjected, but he steamrolled right over her words.

"I can see the tension in your shoulders and you stop breathing when you pull the trigger. Do you know what happens when you stop breathing, Agent Hill? You die. And there's me again, writing a letter full of things I don't mean. So breathe, Agent Hill. Relax. That gun won't bite you. It's probably more afraid of you than you are of it. And keep your eyes open. You can blink, but not until after you've made the shot. Is that enough instruction to start with, or do you need me to start over and speak slower?"

"No," she said, shaking her head and doing her best to refuse him the satisfaction of knowing he'd gotten under her skin, but she couldn't quite keep the anger out of her words. "That's plenty to start with, Agent Barton. Thank you."

"You are so welcome."