Hawkeye Walks Into A Bar
Clint nodded in greeting. "Rogers."
"You holding up okay?"
Clint hesitated a moment before answering. "No. No, I'm not. I'm at the grave of a man whose death I am responsible for. A good man, and a friend. I'm not okay."
Steve shook his head, putting a hand on Clint's shoulder. "You aren't responsible for Coulson's death. Loki is, and he's answering for his crimes."
Clint gazed at him. "You know, I've been hearing that a lot lately. But, surprisingly, it does very little to make me feel better."
"I know how you feel. I've been through this, too. So trust me when I say that the guilt is only going to hold you back. It could take a while, I know, but eventually you need to realize that there is nothing you could have done. It's not your fault," Steve said. He reached into his suit pocket and pulled out the Captain America trading cards, every one of them signed, and laid them gently on the grave.
Clint cleared his throat. "I need a drink," he announced. "You comin' Rogers?"
Steve shrugged. "There's no point. I can't get drunk."
"Perfect. You can drive me home," Clint said, walking toward his car. Steve trailed behind, mumbling to himself.
"Captain Sober, designated driver of the Avengers."
"What was that?"
"Nothing. Don't worry about it," Steve replied somewhat sourly.
Clint stared into his drink, swirling the ice around. A man at a pool table was eyeing him warily.
"Why are people staring at us like that?" Steve asked Clint.
"They probably think we're Feds. No one else wears $500 suits to a shit bar like this. No offense, bartender," Clint answered, his speech slightly slurred. "Y'know what? I don' envy you, Cap. Getting drunk is truly one of the finest pleasures in life."
Steve studied him, a slight look of amusement on his face. "This is the most drunk you've ever been."
"Well, let me tell you, tomorrow you are going to have one hell of a hang-over," the bartender said with a half smile.
Clint downed his glass. "Bartender! Can I get a…uh…screwdriver? Just put it on my tab."
The bartender raised an eyebrow. "A screwdriver, huh? Okay, then." He glanced at Steve. "And you?"
"Uh…a beer. Thank you."
Clint looked over at him. "You are always so damn polite. Why is that, Cap?"
"It's how I grew up."
"Ah. Eighty years ago. Right. Things were different back then, huh?"
Steve was quiet. "Yeah. Things were different." He took his beer from the bartender and took a swig. Then another. The bartender watched in awe as Steve chugged it down like it was nothing. He set the bottle down with a sigh. "And I'm not even a little bit drunk," he said mournfully. Clint watched him as he sipped his own drink.
"That…was impressive," said the bartender.
Steve cracked a smile. "I could do this all day."
Clint sat alone and brooding at the end of the counter, where he'd been pushed and jostled as people had crowded around Steve, whom brave men were now trying to out-drink. He was feeling childishly slighted, and very very drunk as he pushed around the ice that was the only thing left in his glass.
"Hey! I know you!" a voice cried. He looked up to see a blonde bombshell leaning on the counter beside him. He shook his head.
"No, I don't think we've met."
"Well, I know that! But I know who you are. You're Hawkeye."
Clint grunted. "Yup. But you'd probably rather go hang out with Captain America over there," he said, nodding toward Steve.
"It looks like he's pretty well covered on the fan front," she said. She reached forward and straightened his black tie. "But you look like you could use someone." And then she was leaning in for a kiss.
"Hey! You! Back off my girl!"
She stood abruptly as a large, imposing man lumbered over.
"James, he didn't do anything. Come on. Let's just go."
"Shut up, Lexis! I'll deal with you later," James snapped. He grabbed the front of Clint's shirt and pulled him to his feet. "You son of a bitch."
"Hey, man. I'm not lookin' for trouble," Clint slurred.
"Oh, yeah? Well, you should have thought of that before you laid hands on my girl," James growled, punching him in the face.
Clint grabbed the edge of the counter and dragged himself up. "Big mistake, buddy," he said with a smirk. He rolled his neck and shoulders and was about to hit him when a hand grabbed his wrist from behind.
"Come on, Clint. He's not worth it. You're both drunk," Steve said.
James, seeing this as an opportunity, delivered a swift blow to Clint's ribs. Clint doubled and Steve caught him under the armpits.
"Hey! What the hell kind of shot was that?" Steve cried, leaning Clint against the counter.
James cracked his neck. "You wanna fight, pretty boy?"
"No, not really. I wouldn't want anyone to get hurt. So why don't you just back off and let me take my friend here and we'll leave. Okay?"
"What, are you afraid to get your soft little hands dirty?" James snorted.
Steve sighed. "Look, I am not in the mood for this, okay? I think you've made your point."
"No, actually, I haven't made my point! Now get out of the way."
Steve shook his head. "Don't you know who I am?"
"I don't give a damn who you are. You could be Superman for all I care!"
"Well, you're not that far off…" Steve remarked.
"Well, then, Superman, bring it on."
Steve sighed and shook his head as James fired a punch at him. Steve dodged it easily, then grabbed the front of James shirt and pushed him toward the back door, and into the dark alley beyond it. James stared at Steve in drunken disbelief; he wasn't a small guy by any means, and Steve had acted like he was the school twerp from whom lunch money was being taken.
"Buddy, next time you want to start a bar fight, make sure you don't pick it with the friend of a superhuman," Steve said, going back into the bar and shutting the door behind him. He ignored all the stares he was getting and grabbed Clint's shoulder. "Come on. I'm getting you out of here."
Clint winced a little, nursing his ribs on the left side.
"Are you okay? Do you need me to take you to a doctor?" Steve asked, genuinely concerned.
Clint shook his head. "Nah. I've had worse-much worse. I'll survive. Thanks fer havin' my back in there."
Steve shrugged. "No problem."
"And for being Captain Sober, designated driver for the Avengers," Clint said, laughter seeping into his voice.
Steve's face burned. "Mention that to no one," he muttered. Clint laughed, and Steve couldn't help bit smile, too.