Disclaimer: I own nothing recognizable. The Avengers and Bourne Legacy belong to their respective owners and not me.

So, I have a bit of a headcanon that Clint Barton and Aaron Cross are (in some universes) the same person (okay, okay, William Brandt, too). Thus, this came into being. This is not the only fic I'm planning for this universe and I'm considering trying to write a multi-chaptered fic, too. Either way, let me know what you think!


Everything is a blur after Alaska. Everything feels like a whirlwind of too bright colors, sharp voices, and everything is stuck in his head.

They are running – he is running. Running from Outcome. Running from everything. Everything before Outcome. Everything after it. He is running and he can never quite catch his breath. He knows how to run, but he has never had to run like this.

He is spinning, spiraling, losing everything with each passing second. He is desperate. He is addicted. He wants to stop so desperately, but he cannot lose this. He cannot lose what he has.

He wonders if she would understand. Not Marta – her. She has been the plaything of those more powerful than either of them for her whole life. She is what they made her. Just like he is what they have made him. For a phrase so commonly used metaphorically, he is surprised to see exactly how well it fits. Without Outcome, he is nothing. Without the chems, without everything they've given him, he's just Kenneth Kitsom. Without them, he is nothing. Without them, he is cognitive degradation and a then it's over. There is no more after that. That is it.

The part that he worries about the most is not the chems. It is not his one-track mind. He does think about other things. He thinks about Marta. He thinks about her safety. He thinks about June Monroe. That was never her name anyway. It was just another one of their cover stories. James and June Monroe on vacation in Madrid. He knew her once, only weeks before. Before the only thing that made him good at what he did started slowly slipping through his fingers.

They all thought he was some half-educated ex-carnie from Iowa. He wishes he was. He wishes so hard sometimes that he almost believes that the name Clint Barton is really his. But he knows it isn't. He knows that it's just another name, another life. He knows that he can never be Clint Barton, because Clint Barton doesn't need to have chems to be good at what he does. Clint Barton only needs his bow to make a difference. Yet he needs so much more.

But Clint Barton is dead. He never really existed in the first place. If he did, it was long ago and no one remembers him. With Clint Barton go all of the triumphs of everything that he cannot even begin to describe.

He wants that. He wants to be Clint Barton so badly that he can't breathe. But he cannot be Clint Barton. Because Clint Barton never really existed. Clint Barton was a figment of his imagination. Clint Barton was nothing more than a cover story.

But Clint Barton loved someone. He loved her so fiercely that she is all he clings to. She is why he can still remember. She is the reason he is clawing to stay who he is, even if who he is is not Clint Barton.

He may not be Clint Barton, but he wants to be.

He wants to be so much more than Kenneth J. Kitsom. He wants to be more than just a soldier. But he can't be. Because Outcome is being burned to the ground and they are determined to take him with them.

There are moments where he almost wonders if it's worth being Aaron Cross. He wonders if all he has done and all he has been is worth anything. He wonders if anyone will remember him if he doesn't viral out – if he loses everything.

Even if he doesn't lose everything, he cannot go back. He cannot go back to face them. He cannot face any of them, least of all her.

He remembers being loved, once. He remembers fire and passion, eyes so green and hair so red. He remembers loving her. He remembers what they had. He remembers the feel of his bowstring against his fingertips and the ringing in his ears as they shoot in companionable silence.

He remembers what it is like to love her, to love someone so dearly, and then to lose her.

It hurts so much that he can barely breathe. But he wants it to hurt. He wants to remember her. He does not want the memories to fade. Because he knows that he will never see her again and he cannot stand it.

But she is a blur now. She is a moment gone – something he can tuck inside himself and pull back out. She is a moment that is passed. She is not a part of his present. She is part of the ever-spinning, ever-spiraling corner of his mind that he cannot slow down. She is everything and nothing to him and there is nothing he can do about it. There is nothing that can take away the bright flashes of red and green that hit him out of nowhere.

Aaron has other things to think about. How they are going to get into the lab. How they are going to disappear. How he is going to be free from Outcome. How he is going to protect Marta like he could never protect Natasha.

But there is still fire and ice and rage in his veins. There is nothing that can tap it out of him. There is nothing that can make him forget what he sees around every corner.

All he can do is run.

And never look back.