"I'm going out, call me if any super villains show up." Clint called to Fury as he left the SHIELD headquarters, stuffing a handgun in the back of his pants as he passed out the door of the operation center on the 3rd floor. He turned left then headed down the emergency stairs, nimbly skipping down two at a time. After descending the 3 flights, he entered the nondescript lobby, waived to the receptionist (a stern, official government agent) and then left the building. He popped out on the streets of New York.
Barton didn't quite have anywhere specific he wanted to go, the agent just couldn't stand being in that office anymore. He was a field agent, so it was no surprise that he didn't much enjoy when Fury told him to sit at a desk and analyze potential threats by just glances at a bunch of undercover pictures snapped overseas. Fury and he had come to enough of an understanding of each other that it wasn't too unusual for Clint to just get up and leave, or for Fury to let him.
The streets of New York were busy like usual, cars and cabs driving rapidly by, just to come to a quick stop to let a group of pedestrians pass. Even though the cars were 'stop and go', the whole of New York was a very, fast paced 'go!' kind of city. Clint liked that. The constant rush and hustle of the people on the streets filled him with a kind of subtle excitement that pleased him differently than the dangerous rush of a mission. This excitement was more... normal. While walking on the streets of New York Clint felt almost normal. He could feel the vibes of all the business people hustling by, their minds full of ideas and normal worries as their feet hurried to their next meeting or perhaps even, to visit their family after a long day of work. Barton never got to experience those average, commonplace things. Instead, his mind was always focused on the probability of the next terrorist attack, or when he'd be hitting his next target. Clint also had a bad habit of visually searching each person that walked by for signs of concealed weapons. And the fact that it was fall meant most people wore light jackets perfect for hiding guns or knives, so Clint couldn't relax, his mind plagued with too much paranoia.
Must be nice being normal. He thought wistfully as he glanced from face to face. But Barton did have a slight comfort though. No one really knew who he was, he didn't quite allow the media cover that the other Avenger's received. Especially Stark, that guy was on the front of every magazine so there was no way he was going anywhere without someone noticing him. He enjoyed it though, no doubt. Barton didn't mind being undercover, he had had enough chaos in his life already, and the idea of his identity being known never settled well with him. Names had never done him any good. That's why enjoyed just being known as Hawkeye. Nothing more.
Clint spotted a Starbucks on the corner, and the slight smell of coffee wafted out onto the street. Got nothing better to do. He thought as he entered the little cafe. He ordered a Mocha Caramel Frappachino (the cashier looked at him weird, since why would he want a cold drink on such a chilly day?) and then took a seat by the window, sipping it slowly. He settled back into people watching, and amused himself by guessing the profession of the people that walked by. His blue eyes rhythmically picked a face, then traveled down to analyze the attire. First there was a young woman, with straight blonde hair pulled up into a neat pony tail. Blue collared shirt, black tailored jacket with a thin name tag. Briefcase. Travel agent? Insurance agent? Then there was an older man, neatly shaped black beard and thin silver glasses. Grey pinstriped suit. Briefcase. Broker? Bond man? Another woman. Brown hair. Sweater jacket. Colorful scarf. Jeans and sandals. Independent shop owner? Work from home, out to lunch? Then a rather tall man walked by, black hair neatly gelled back. Nicely designed black jean jacket, light purple shirt, washed out gray jeans. Bit edgy for the workplace. Just out of college? Out for a day? The young man paused in front of the window, and pulled out a phone from his pocket, glancing at it once before looking past Clint into the Starbucks. But then Clint saw it, a flash of glance. Right at him. Clint stared. The man didn't. He stuffed his phone back into his pocket and continued on. Weird.
Onto the next one then. Older woman, small round glasses and a starch white ruffled top. Bank teller. Another man. Research lab worker. A plump lady with a stroller. Nanny. Then a fastfood worker. Next a landlady. CEO. Cab driver. Secretary. Teacher. Businessman. Fashion intern. Another businessman. Insurance agent. Graphic artist.
Clint stood abruptly, not making eye contact with the man with the jean jacket and the washed jeans that stood once again outside the Starbucks. He threw his cup in the trash, and slid out the door, pushing himself right into the mass of people. He shoved his way forward, moving as quickly as possible and swerving in between people. Clint considered turning around, but he knew he couldn't do that. The time for that would come later. And later was probably closer than he'd like to think.
He turned left, then sprinted across the street, turning right onto a smaller street. He was walking very fast now, and he could feel the weight of his gun in his belt. Hopefully he wouldn't have to use it. As he hurried forward, he figured now was a better time than ever. So he glanced over his shoulder.
And there was the man.
Clint didn't try to hide his knowledge anymore, so turned around and ran, full out sprinting down the street. Another glance behind him showed the other man doing the same thing. Clint shoved past some people, and dove in front of a car to make a quick turn into an alley that would cut back to the main street. He glance over his shoulder again, and the man was still following, but now he had pulled something from his pocket. Shit.
Clint was a smart survivor, and his gut told him to hide himself in a crowd, then dive into a cab, or his personal favorite, grab a motorcycle. But civilians. Civilians were always a damn issue. In his previous training, he was taught to do whatever was necessary to ensure his life and the success of the mission regardless of all other costs. If even 100 people had to die, that didn't matter to the program. But Clint wanted a clear conscious, and SHIELD didn't want a news article on civilian deaths. So Clint made the (lesser) smart decision, and took the fire escapes. Up.
He nimbly lept on a trashbin, then launched himself upwards to grab onto the metal rungs of the half-descended escape ladder. The whole structure groaned with the addition of his weight, but he hauled himself up, and then jumped the next 2 ladders in 4 leaps. When he was 4 levels still from the roof, the metal shook with the weight of his pursuer. This guy, whoever the hell he was, was persistent. But then again, Clint was only just beginning. Grabbing the gun from his belt, he fired three times down, the bullets clinking violently against the metal before sheering off into the brick. Clint wanted to show the pursuer that he was armed. But that didn't seem to slow him. Grunting, he jumped the next ladder, and then without even a moments hesitation, he put a foot on the rail and shoved himself into the air, slamming into the rail of the opposite fire escape, Clint grabbed his gun again and fired twice more, his shots just barely missing the assassin. The dark haired man pointed his own gun and fired, Clint jumping behind the stairs. The bullet, however, missed by 4 feet. What kind of assassin was this?
Clint didn't pause but for a second, though, and in an instant he was on the roof, sprinting across the gravel and leaping over all the vents and fans on the top. There was another gap. This one he didn't think he'd make. But then there was a grouping of power cables on the corner of the building. As he headed for it, he saw the assassin jump onto the roof and begin running, gun raised. Clint was worried at this point, because as he came to the cables, he knew he'd be a sitting target as he tried to cross them. Options flew across his mind, more and more dangerous challenges coming up. But he didn't want to die today.
then he had an idea. There was probably a window below. He'd jump to the ledge below, and then kick the window out. As he prepared to attempt the feat, he risked a final glance behind him, and what happened then made his eyes go wide and his mind go blank.
"You're very good at running, aren't you, Aaron?"
Aaron. Aaron Cross. His past identity. An identity, an entire life, that Fury had wiped. The shock was apparent on his face, because here he was, being addressed by a name he hadn't heard in years.
"Why are you here." He asked, voice stern to try to cover up his discomfort, because after all, this could really only mean one thing.
"You thought you could run? You thought the great Mr. Nick Fury could really wipe all the info on you? Get you off of Outcome's lists forever?" The man replied smoothly, like he had already planned this out word for word in his head. He walked forward comfortably, using his raised gun to pressure Clint into staying where he stood.
"Outcome was shut down. So was Treadstone. I'm not on anyone's lists anymore."
"Oh, you and Bourne got so close, didn't you." The man said, his voice laced with a dangerously cynical edge.
"Who are you." Clint interjected, ignoring the man's response. That was a time he didn't want to think about. He wasn't happy with what had happened, too many people died for the sake of progress, too many wrongs to ever make a right again. That's why he left and stopped trying. Bourne didn't, though. He hadn't seen him since.
"An agent, just like you." The man simply replied, shrugging his shoulders.
"Oh, but this isn't the first time your own people came to kill you, now is it?"
"They were never my people. They betrayed me." Clint replied sternly. The memories that were flooding back began to make him angry. He could feel the emotion coursing through his veins, and already his fists clenched by his sides.
The man with the short, gelled back black hair and sharp features stared calmly, a slight smile on his face. But the fact still stood that he held a gun pointed at Clint.
"No matter how much you hope to deny it, Aaron, you were a part of Outcome. You fought for them, you killed for them, you would have given your life for them." The man continued, grabbing something out of his pocket and holding it out to show Clint. It was his pill box dog tag. The one that held the Blues and Greens. The drugs he was dependent on for so many years, the drugs that he was forced to viral off of. Him and Marta Shearing...
Clint got angry, he was done playing games. "What are you trying to-!" But then man abruptly cut him off.
"The fact that you were an agent of Outcome is indisputable, so you must be erased just like the rest of the program. There's no room for you in the new plans."
"What new plans?!" Clint was yelling now. He really had had enough of this bullshit. Clint was not one to talk of his past, because Natasha was not the only one who had red in her ledger.
"Oh, you didn't hear?" The man faked mild surprise. "The program's under new management. Treadstone was part 1. The assassin you met with that day in the Philippines? That's part 2. And that was even a long time ago, too. But none of that really matters, because you, Agent Cross, are officially back on the hit list. Or should I say, Kenneth Kitsom?"
Clint's hand tensed on the gun in his palm as his face jerked into an angry frown. How dare he say his real name. However, no matter how fast he lifted it, the other man would be faster to pull the trigger. But then he remembered the gravel he was standing on...
"You talk too much." And then Clint kicked hard, spraying loose gravel all into the air. As the man covered his face, Clint closed the distance between them in a second, and landed a hard punch to the underside of the man's arm, flinging the gun out of his hand. Then Clint hit him hard in the jaw with a sharp jab of his elbow before kneeing him hard in the gut. After these precise hits, the man stumbled back, disoriented and probably in a lot of pain. Before the man could recover, though, Clint placed the barrel of the gun to the top of the man's head, not allowing him to look up.
"Who sent you? Who wants me dead? They should know I'm not alone." Clint asked sternly, shoving the gun hard against his head.
"Doesn't matter." Then the man lashed out, catching Clint in the gut. The breath shot out of him, but he recovered quick enough to block a punch with his forearm. The man kicked out, aiming for Clint's side. He jerked backwards, then grabbed the man's foot, using the momentum to throw his own body into an arching left kick aimed for the man's head. The man ducked, then suddenly slid his foot to the side, catching Clint's ankle. Clint tried to quickly shift his weight after realizing his mistake, but by that point, Clint had already landed hard on his back. The man then slammed his foot down hard on his chest, but as Clint exhaled sharply, the man knelt and shoved his forearm hard across Clint's throat, cutting off his air.
"The names Pierce, if you care to know the name of the man who will be ki-" Then suddenly Clint's fist flew right into the man's face. Pierce cried out and instantly took his forearm off Clint to stop the flow of blood. Mistake.
Clint then rammed his knee to the side, catching Pierce on the inside of the thigh. He held back another cry, pain flashing across his face. But then it turned to anger. Clint leaped up off the gravel, and flew into a precise roundhouse kick, but was blocked by Pierce's forearm. Pierce shoved Clint's leg back, and then pushed off the ground, coming at Clint with a strong punch. Clint dodged, grabbing Pierce's forearm and then shoving the man's arm down where it collided with Clint's knee. There was an awful pop and a shriek of pain from Pierce, but before the cry could even finish leaving his lips, Clint kicked out and hit Pierce's knee, immediately cracking it. The assassin crumpled to the ground, and Clint didn't hesitate to throw another punch at the guy's face.
"Who the hell sent you here?!" Clint yelled, shaking the bloodied man by the shoulders. But he could tell the assassin was already fading. Pathetic! He shook him again. "WHO?!"
"Brooke." Pierce replied weakly, blood gushing from his mouth as he attempted a weak smile. "Good... luck." And then the assassin's eyes rolled into his head and he fell back, sprawled out on the gravel. Clint swore and ran his hands frustratingly through his short hair as he stepped away from the unconscious man.
Dammit! They'll know he failed. They'll know I'm not dead. This won't be the end at all if they know who I am. And they do. Clint paced anxiously, thoughts scrolling through his mind but none of them giving him the escape route he wished was possible.
But as he looked at the man laying on the gravel, and then to the blood on his hands, he realized that at this moment his entire identity at SHIELD was lost. To these men, he was not Clint Barton, he was rouge Aaron Cross. An outlaw, a liability, a target. All civility fell from his name just like blood from a wound, because he knew he would soon have to fight for his life again. He looked to the sky, and half expected a chopper with a Gatling gun to be hovering in front of him, or a dozen men with machine guns to be running across the roofs. There would be no hiding anymore, no more peace, no more protection. He would have to leave tonight. SHIELD managed to give him a new identity once, but now all was lost, because Outcome was after him again, and his identity was Cross.
((Author's note: Gelas kindly pointed out my error in confusingly grouping Outcome with Treadstone, so I went back and corrected the mistake. It's all good now, I believe! Sorry for the confusion...))
...CONTINUE?: I've been surprised by how many people seem to be interested in this story, so I'm considering continuing it, at least for a few more chapters until I really have no idea what's going on? Haha, cause I didn't think much out past this, but I'm willing to give it a go if people might be interested! Let me know! ;)