"You called for me, sir?" Clint kept his tone polite as he leaned against the wall. His muscles burned and he felt fatigue sweep over him once more, as it had the whole trip to meet Fury. He had only just returned from a risky mission, and he was in no state to be sent on another-, which he suspected was the reason he had been called upon.

Nick Fury appraised him coolly and Clint met his one uncovered eye. The head of S.H.I.E.L.D was an imposing figure; what with his eye patch and his short, dour way of speaking, but Clint was not intimidated. He simply made good of his training, waiting and observing without comment. Fury finally cleared his throat and gesturing to walk. Despite the aching of his legs, Clint followed, longing to get this over with and rest. A hawk couldn't hunt without sleep, and Fury knew this. So, why had he been called in?

"Barton." Fury paused for a second, then resumed. "You're my best agent."

Clint dipped his head in acknowledgement of the compliment.

"I have a task for you to complete as swiftly as possible." Fury cut straight to the point, and Clint glanced at him in disbelief. "With all due respect, sir, I only just got back and I'm exhausted. You can't possibly think I'd be able to complete this mission with my normal level of effectiveness." He struggled with the urge to simply leave him there.

Fury's eye narrowed and his face tightened. "If I thought you couldn't handle it, I wouldn't have called you in. I don't like to waste time, especially when we have so little of it." Clint shrugged. "I don't know if I'm your man for this."

"Well, I know." Fury retorted, "and you are going to do this job for me, Barton."

Clint sighed in helpless frustration. "What's the job?" he asked, all businesslike, fighting off the waves of exhaustion threatening to blink him out of consciousness.

Fury smiled thinly. "Ever heard of Natalia Romanoff?"

Clint pursed his lips and shook his head wordlessly, waiting for Fury to continue.

"She's an assassin, a spy, and she's been proving quite pesky to S.H.I.E.L.D recently."

A flash of understanding illuminated Clint on the matter and he raised an eyebrow.

"You want me to wipe her out." He stated flatly, not asking, but confirming.

"Yes, I do. I want her eliminated." Fury agreed dourly, and Clint furrowed his brow.

"Why me? We have plenty of agents for this job."

"Yes, we do, but you're our best hope." Fury seemed to search for words. "We've been tracking the situation for a while now, and it's not looking good. There isn't much information on her- but somehow; she's extremely well trained and talented. She took out several of our best men without even batting an eyelash."

Clint grimaced. "And why do you want her killed? What has she done?"
"Quite a few things, but she's a huge threat. She does any job for anyone, anywhere. I wouldn't mind if she wasn't so skilled, but she is, and she needs to be taken care of."

A simple arrow from far away would dispose of her easily enough, but Clint hesitated for a moment. "Where is she located?"

"Here, New York. We're tracking her, but she's very careful. We haven't been able to listen in to any of her phone calls, or get a glimpse of what she's doing here." Fury sounded displeased at this, and slightly impatient at Clint's intense drilling.

"Are you sure you don't want me to bring her back for questioning?" Clint asked quickly, and Fury's eyes flashed. "Are you questioning my decision? You have your orders, Barton, now carry them out!" his harsh tone eased up slightly. "Agent Coulson is waiting inside with her supposed location. He has quite a bit of information on who she is and how she operates, so make sure to listen carefully."

Disliking being ordered around like a simpleton, Clint unwillingly turned towards Agent Coulson's office. He paused when Fury added one last piece of advice.

"I've heard she's very pretty, Barton. Don't let that distract you."


There you have it, my first Avengers fic. Please review, favorite and follow. Reviewers, assemble! ~Jez