My first foray into writing Avengers fanfiction. :)

Disclaimer: I do not own The Avengers, and all rights go to Marvel/Disney, I believe.

He shoots arrow after arrow, kills gangsters and crime lords and human traffickers, but he doesn't realize his work has purpose until he meets her.

He's crouched on the roof of some building or other, and he's wearing a standard S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform for once because it's the middle of winter in Northern England and it's fucking cold, damn it, so it's nice to actually have his arms covered for once. And he waits. It's dark outside and the moonlight is sparse but he watches the building next door intently, waiting for her to show up.

His eyes are focused but he lets his mind wander a bit, because S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms don't really offer much protection from the cold and he's bored out of mind right now, maybe even has been for a while. Mobsters and drug lords and criminals and all the villains that he's killed, but that doesn't dent the population at all, doesn't stop a hundred more from taking the place of each one that he killed, and he feels like Sisyphus, according to Phil (because he's just a jaded, uneducated ex-carnie orphan has no idea as to who the fuck Sisyphus is or was). But he still feels like him (or her? he doesn't really know) because he's rolling a boulder up a hill and it falls down and he can't stop it, he can't stop the criminals from reappearing. All he can do is kill more criminals and watch them bleed and hope to whatever power isn't there that he's making a difference in people's lives.

Like right now. Maybe it's silly, but he has no regrets with this job, because this bitch is ruthless and he knows that killing her will help (even though she kills gangsters and crime lords and human traffickers, just like him, they're different because he does it for different reasons and and he has heartand she is just a murderous robot). He has her face memorized and he expects a redhead, so when she finally appears, a blonde in a slinky black dress, he takes a step back and thank God she doesn't notice him. Not that she would, him being so high up it's ridiculous to even consider, but she's the goddamn Black Widow and he wouldn't put anything past her. Especially since he actually read her file and he knows about Drakov's daughter and São Paulo and the hospital fire. She moves into the hotel and he shifts slightly, pulling an arrow from his quiver and readying his bow.

The sliding glass doors are open. Which makes him frown, because no assassin would open the doors and let anyone in, so he's kind of suspicious. But if she's giving him the chance, well, he'll take it. When she appears by the tiny desk he lets an arrow fly and it just grazes her shoulder. Her instincts take over and she's moving into the shadows as her eyes dart up towards him, and he just grins at her. The shadows don't hide that shock of blonde hair, and there's already another arrow on his bow, pointed straight at her heart and she can't move because she knows that she doesn't have time.

Time that she doesn't want, anyways, because she's tired of being Sisyphus. She's tired of pushing her boulder up a hill, tired of killing (because yes she kills gangsters and crime lords and human traffickers but she also kills philanthropists, volunteers, and children), tired of watching eyes wide with fear turn cold and emotionless.

He sees it in her eyes, the bone-deep weariness (no matter how cliché that sounds, because for once he doesn't care) and the Sisyphus in her and he changes his mind, lodging an arrow in her shoulder and another in her thigh that forces some kind of drug into her system and she's out cold before he even lands in her hotel room. He can hear Coulson in his ear asking him what the fuck he's doing (except Coulson doesn't say fuck) but all he can think about is her and him and Sisyphus and they are all three exactly the same.

Because even though there will always be more gangsters and crime lords and human traffickers, maybe he can help her stop being Sisyphus and become someone else. Existence precedes essence, Phil always tells him, and maybe through her, he can find his essence. Whatever that means.

(Because he's not entirely sure, but he thinks it has something to do with choosing who he wants to become. And he likes that. He likes not having to be Sisyphus.)

Thank you for reading! And please leave a review? :P

Also! The "Existence precedes essence" quote is from Sartre. It's one of my favorites, and I really wanted to put it in there, so I'm sorry if the end doesn't really match the rest of the fic.