This is the sort of thing that happens when you wake up disconcertingly early on a day off when the house is quiet, but at least now I can say I've done a 5+1! These s little vignettes are based on a prompt from workerbee73, in the be_compromised Valentine's Day Promptathon: Five times Clint Barton lost his train of thought. I added the "Plus One" based on her second prompt, conveniently entitled, Five times Natasha Romanoff lost her train of thought.

I'm using bits and pieces of Clint's backstory from the comics, but since I haven't actually read them (Google is my friend), this is rather an impressionistic canvas with a liberal dose of head canon. Please forgive any inaccuracies and liberties taken.

I own only the words, and the joy of writing.

Five Times Clint Barton Lost His Train of Thought

(And One Time Natasha Romanoff did)

By Alpha Flyer


He is lying in bed, the frayed teddy bear soft under his chin. Tomorrow is a big day in school, they're having a race and all the first graders are allowed in and Teacher says the way Clint can run, he could maybe do real well. He can run like the wind even though he's small, and it feels good when he does, the wind on his face and in his hair and his feet on the grass. And even Petey Doyle who's such a big bully and mean and in Grade Three can never catch Clint like he does Barney even though they're both older than him - Clint can run faster than any of them and he can climb trees, too, to get away.

He looks at Teddy, and Teddy agrees that running is something Clinty is good at, almost as good as he is at throwing pebbles into tins from real far away. Too bad they don't have that as a race, he would sure win and then maybe Daddy would be nice to him for a bit and …

… then he hears Mommy scream in the kitchen and they're fighting again and there's a large bump like something's crashed to the floor and Mommy screams louder and then Daddy shouts in that slurry way he gets when he comes home from work late and there's another bump and Clint grabs Teddy and they pull their blanket over their head and he just wants it to be silent again. He scrunches his eyes shut and he isn't thinking about tomorrow any more at all.



He stands in front of the ticket booth, helping Jessie Mae count the daily receipts; it's been a good day, he had the crowd cheering (especially when he split that apple into a thousand pieces – he has to find out what kind that was, that's the best effect he's seen yet).

The smell of waffles is sweet in the air; there's a number of them left, and on a day like this, Mary will surely let him have some of the leftovers. Clint can feel his stomach do a little dance, and his mouth waters in anticipation of the treat.

They're almost done, and Jessie Mae leans out of the booth to take the last bundle of fivers from his hand – four-hundred and thirty dollars, it really has been a good day - when he sees a shadow in the back of the booth. Clint holds perfectly still as a familiar purple glove reaches through the back window, into the strong box that's sitting there, grabbing a fistful of green bills. His eyes lock with the Swordsman's, right there over Jessie Mae's shoulder, and why does he suddenly look like his Dad?

Later, as he lies in the ditch, trying to open his swollen eyes, retching up blood and wondering where his next breath will come from, Clint wishes he'd just kept thinking about those waffles.



He's running through the alley to the sound of police sirens echoing off the buildings. There's a splash every time his feet hit a puddle; the drops sparkle blue and red in the fractured lights coming in from the street.

Clint feels the burn in his lungs and his quiver bounce on his back and for a moment he is laughing, laughing with the exhilaration of the chase and the knowledge that any second now he'll jump up a fire escape and be swallowed by the night. Next day the headlines will scream again about the "Robin Hood Bandit," who holds up banks with a bow.

As he swings himself up and over the metal railing and starts climbing, the wad of cash presses on his pocket. Once safe up on the roof he takes the money out of his pocket and starts counting. He didn't take much – he never does, but what else is he supposed to do when he's hungry and no one will hire an ex-carnie – but it will keep him for a week, and that's good. That's good. Hamburgers tonight, and maybe a beer …

But then Andrew Jackson's face on the bills starts to blur and it turns into another face, that of a young cashier with enormous eyes that plead and say 'No!' and 'please don't hurt me…' and 'I'm scared…' and …




The heat beats down on his head, and the helmet and flak jacket sure don't come with coolant fluid. Mirages dance across the dry, brown landscape, making it hard to separate the road from the sky – after three tours he wonders, does it ever rain in Afghanistan? He's read stories about pastures and orchards, but they seem to be a thing of the past, at least here in Kandahar province. Maybe further North, in Herat or Mazar-i-Sharif; he'd like to see that some day, a few green shoots of hope in this saddest of countries.

Clint can feel the sweat running into his combat boots but the rifle in his hands never wavers, and sure enough there it is, coming out of the haze; the intel was good. A beat-up pick-up truck, laden with what looks like firewood headed for the small market town over the next hill. There are two men in the cabin and two more in the back, all wearing loose white clothing, vests, and those traditional Afghan caps. Clint squints a little – they don't call him Hawkeye for nothing, the name has followed him right into Special Ops – and sure enough, some of the supposed firewood sticks glint black in the sun, and there are packages concealed under a tarp.

He whispers "target acquired" when the comm crackles to life in his ear, and waits for the order to take the shot. His world narrows to those men in his scope, fanatics who would take their war to the people just trying to scrape a living out of those unforgiving hills. While Clint does not enjoy killing, he anticipates their end calmly and without doubt; maybe he was made for this. His breathing slows and his finger curls around the trigger. Anytime now …

"Stand down, Barton," the clipped voice in his ear shatters the moment. "… and come in. Orders changed. Some civilian here to see you."



S.H.I.E.L.D. has all the intel they need on the mark; it's a simple take down.

Clint has been watching his partner glide through the evening, flaming red hair above a tiny, midnight blue dress that hugs every curve and shimmers as she goes. The Svarovski choker around her neck flashes a spray of rainbows, a gift of those same lights that turn the chateau's enormous windows into a panopticon of opulence. Framed by those windows, Natasha is a work of art, flitting in and out of conversations like a stained glass butterfly come to life; now and then, she alights on the arm of the man willing and able to procure the guns that fuel the drug wars of Central America.

Yuri Makarov's eyes follow her hungrily as she bestows attention on his customers– he takes deep breaths through flaring nostrils whenever her smiling eyes return to find his across the crowd. Clint sees him wetting his lips at the sway of her hips, sees the sweat beading his fleshy forehead.

Once she has made her 'rounds', the Black Widow returns to the one they have come for, letting him know through lidded eyes that she has chosen him above all those who want her (there are none who do not). She pulls back her shoulders to let the fabric of her dress stretch over her breasts, giggles at his visible response and breathes something in his ear; his wet mouth is open as he follows her out onto the terrace and he snaps his fingers as he goes. One of his minions discreetly draws the velvet curtains as Natasha allows Makarov to bend her over the stone railing that separates the terrace from the gardens. He will believe in paradise when he meets his death.

The arrow silently parts the night air with a deep, lethal kiss. Natasha straightens and steps aside as soon as it has lodged; the outfit is a favourite, one of her most effective. Clint drops from the tree on sure feet, but then she turns her back and twists slightly to pull that dress back over her hips and …

He never sees the root that puts his ankle out of commission for a week.



It's been a pretty standard op; now they just have to maintain cover until the QuinJet gets here. But the thing has thrown another mechanical tantrum; where does S.H.I.E.L.D. find the mechanics that are supposed to keep it in the air? She's already told Coulson that she wants Clint to fly them back.

Cancun is still a bit of a bubble in the Mexican drug wars and the move against the head of the Jalisco Cartel was designed to keep it that way. Her little nighttime tryst with Alvarez in the VIP pool was discreet (observed only by Clint), but it's no surprise that the body was discovered so soon. The pool boys here are efficient.

They're stuck in the lobby, killing time; mandatory checkout is at ten and S.H.I.E.L.D. won't pay for the extra night so they could stay in their room. ("Cancun?" was Hill's tart text. "Looks too much like vacation on taxpayer's dime.")

And now the Federal Police is everywhere. They talk only to the non-threatening tourists of course – too many dead cops already - but they have started asking about the blonde last seen making out with Alvarez. Good thing S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't too cheap to buy wigs yet.

"Diversion," Clint suddenly mutters beside her. "In case anyone thinks it was you." He grips her bare shoulders, turns her to him and suddenly there's nothing but his calloused fingers on her skin, and his tongue sliding across her lips and into her mouth … he tastes of espresso and sun and …