Being stuck in the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico isn’t the most glamorous life choice but it sure as hell beats being stuck in a train compartment for a month in Russia. Besides, not all missions are going to be during the Bikini Fashion Week in Miami Beach.
Clint remembers that week particularly fondly.
After they kick all the locals and their souped up pick-up trucks, it’s fairly standard procedure setting up the S.H.I.E.L.D. base and security. That is one of the advantages of being in a random part of the desert, not having any local through traffic. They’re on basic detail for only three people, when they’re at the lab. All three of them are civilians with nothing in any of their backgrounds that presents any sort of threat and two, aren’t too bad to look at. It’s nice spying on people that are attractive and aren’t going to cause the downfall of the world as we know it.
Since this is about as close as a vacation Agent Barton is going to get, he makes sure to bring his sunscreen and ‘vacation’ sunglasses.
After he learns that the underdog he was rooting for was not a professional wrestler wannabe or even an ex-agent of some secretive program, but the Norse God of Thunder. Well, his life gets a tad weirder than what it was and Clint manages to shake off his daze after a minute or two.
But that means that the basic detail they were doing before, gets bumped up a few notches, and they’re doing active surveillance on Dr. Foster’s lab. S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to keep an eye on her progress (since she has refused their assistance, still pissed that her work was commandeered), as well as make sure there are no future attacks.
Dr. Foster spends most of her time at the lab or in the dessert, with her two known associates: Dr. Erik Selvig and Darcy Lewis. It does have a habit of making the observation on them be rather easy. Still, they’re working hard with Dr. Foster up all hours of the night and Ms. Lewis prodding the doctor to sleep, eat, and let off some steam. Dr. Selvig will help brainstorm ideas and Ms. Lewis will help organize them. They’re a well-functioning unit but it’s not enough.
Eventually, Dr. Foster gives in and joins S.H.I.E.L.D. finally succumbing to the prospect of more data and some more advanced pieces of technology. Clint’s sad to go, since this has been a pretty easy gig after that initial break in and the attack by the metal behemoth. You don’t ever get to truly know a person by just doing surveillance, but from what he’s gleaned, they’re an amusing bunch with real affection towards each other. It doesn’t hurt that Ms. Lewis and Dr. Foster like to break out in the occasional dance parties; definitely better than monitoring sleazy arms dealers in run down warehouses.
The end of this mission leads to him being sent to another on in Japan where reports of an Oni have been coming in. S.H.I.E.L.D. has tracked down this person of interest—that is not a mythological demon troll that causes earthquakes—and has been slowly tightening the net around him, when Agent Barton is pulled in for his specialties for the takedown. The operation is set up and he is waiting on his mark, trying to get a clear shot for the tranquilizer when Dr. Banner realizes something is amiss and transforms into the Hulk.
‘Huh,’ thinks Clint, ‘Yea, the locals were on to something with that demon troll business,’ as he finds himself running along the rooftops keeping Banner in his field of vision.
He’s scurrying for the tactical advantage, trying to keep the target in sight. S.H.I.E.L.D. had equipped him with some special arrows that were tipped with a potent tranquilizer. They were supposed to be a last resort option.
Judging by the current state of affairs and the number of agents knocked out on the ground unconscious or not in their specified location, he thinks they have reached last resort measures.
The first arrow he shoots hits the Hulk in the meaty part of his thigh, and has no immediate effect. The Hulk doesn’t look like he’s starting to slow down either. Plus, now he knows that there is something shooting at him from atop the roof. The green giant grabs the closes thing to him—a stone bird feeding dish—and tosses it like a Frisbee. It comes at Clint too fast and he avoids the discus by sliding the roof, catching himself with one arm along the edge of the roof.
He’s in the process of pulling himself up, when the Hulk comes charging at him like he was a discounted big screen LCD on Black Friday. He doesn’t have enough time or hands to string his bow. He slings it on this back and grabs a handful of the modified arrows. When the Hulk is within range, he drops down, catching the Hulk around the neck and jabs the arrows into the green man’s neck. The Hulk continues to try to buck him off and if this were a rodeo there would be an announcer counting to eight. Soon, it becomes noticeable that the Hulk’s movements become more sluggish and stilted. He staggers around a few more steps, before finally falling.
Clint jumps off before the enormous man hits the ground. He radios to the other still standing and in no time the unconscious Hulk is taken away to the base.
Clint finds his way to the base as well. Takes a quick shower and writes and files his report, when he goes back to the locker he’s been temporarily assigned to find Commander Fury waiting for him.
“Agent Barton, I saw the footage of this afternoon. If you didn’t stop him when you did, he might have gotten away and it would be weeks before we could of have that kind of positioning again. That was good work soldier,” Fury says.
Clint is confused why Fury is talking to him, but he doesn’t let any of that show in his face and instead responds, “Thank you, sir.”
“We could really use some of that perspective on the Avengers,” Fury declares.
“The Avengers, sir?”
“It’s a specialized team I’m putting together, that will be stationed out of S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. I want you on the team.”
“What kind of specialized?”
“Last-resort,” Fury replies.
Clint gives the idea a once over. If Fury is directly asking him, then it must be a big deal. He’s not sure what kind of last-resort measures Fury’s talking about but they’re never easy and he’s sure that there won’t be any do-overs in this line of work. It’s a combination of wanting to help, pride, and the chance to stay stationed in one spot that wins him over and he says, “I’m in.”
“Good. You’ll be accompanying Dr. Banner back to Headquarters. He’ll be one of your new teammates. I think you’ll find him much more amenable this time,” Fury states as he walks away.
“Yes sir,” Clint responds, all the while thinking he has no idea what Director Fury said to Banner to get him on the team and he’s not sure he wants to know.
A month later he finds himself on a team building retreat in the woods with the Avengers. Clint is still a bit in awe of Captain America and actually working with him, and finds Tony to be an entertaining jackass. The newly returned Thor is with them as well and he knew there was a reason why he found himself rooting for this guy those months ago. Tasha is on the teams as well, and should he really be surprised that she’s found herself a spot here? The last of their merry band of heroes is the quiet, un-transformed Bruce, which Clint has to say he likes much better than the Hulk.
He’s not sure whose bright idea it is to go camping, but if he has to do a trust fall, even if it is with Captain America, he’s going to kill someone.
By now everyone has read a dossier on everyone else and mainly use the day to train and get the hang of working together. Tony pesters Steve about the shield; Natasha waits for Steve to be ready; Bruce sits back and watches everyone while Thor is gallivanting around in the woods; and Clint plays around in the canopy of the trees. Of course, none of this training is a full representation of their strengths and weaknesses until it is battle tested.
The group is sitting around a campfire that Thor made, the sun having set over an hour ago, when Clint thinks, ‘I’m not sure who put this little jamboree together but bad, bad, bad things are going to happen to them.’
A couple of minutes later Tony breaks out the booze.
It’s the first moment when they’ve all been enthusiastic about the same thing (minus Steve and Bruce, but it’s a majority and that counts for something).
When Tony is passing out the cups of that sweet, sweet nectar of the gods (Thor even said so), Steve declines and Tony looks like a wounded puppy.
Steve clarifies, “I can’t get drunk.”
Everyone has a look of pity and a ‘glad that ain’t me brother’ on their faces while Tony mutters something about he thinks he’s read that.
Luckily, Tony did bring mixers so Steve and Bruce have orange juice while the rest of the group shows their second act of solidarity and toasts to the legendary solider.
Thor starts off the idea of storytelling by saying it is a tradition in Asgard to pass the time by singing tales of old and describing past acts of valor. “Comrades in arms, let us sit by this bountiful fire and share tales of various feats to amuse and entertain.”
Tony starts them out by telling them all a humorous story about him and Rhodey getting into a race in the armor. It was two o’clock in the morning and they were in farm country Nebraska, out on patrol and they decided to make things a little interesting. One thing led to another and a farmer ended up believing he had been abducted by aliens.
Everyone laughs and even Natasha cracks a smile although it might be due to the particularly good vodka she’s drinking.
Bruce tells them how he got into his hobby of horticulture, after he was playing football as a kid and wrecked his neighbor’s rose bushes. He was made to go over there every week and help her with the upkeep of the rest of her plants until the new rose bush, that he had to buy, took root and started to bloom. There was one plant in the back that he would look after and would always leave him itchy. After about three weeks his neighbor noticed what he was doing and told him to stop, because that was poison ivy. The tranquil man livens up as he shares his story, smiling back on past memories.
Natasha talks about some of the more comical behind the scenes details of working for Tony Stark. The entire time Tony sputters and denies that all her accusations are false, that she is clearly yanking everyone’s’ chain, and threaten to takes the vodka away from her, but he says all of this with an amused gleam in his eye.
Clint decides to talk about the shit show of a mission Dubai was and how it involved him hanging from a 900 foot tall building by a wire—like Peter Pan—shooting at enemies, while swaying around like a leaf in the wind due to the approaching sand storm. He very nearly made it inside, before the storm hit. He refuses to work with Agent Hunt ever again.
Steve’s story is about the first time he rode a motorcycle. Besides guessing at how to ride it, which all worked out ok, while he was driving through the forest, he nearly swallowed a bug, choking on his own spit and almost crashed into a bridge.
Thor brings it on home by describing some of the rituals Midgardians used to perform in his honor and the feasts held in his name, talking about the past ceremonies that use to take place. He takes this backdrop and uses it to compare it to his most recent time on Earth; his first encounter with the fair Jane and Lady Darcy.
It takes Clint a second to recognize those names as Dr. Foster and Ms. Lewis. Once he does, he’s surprised to learn that he doesn’t know the full story of how they met; just that it was sometime after Thor had been sent down to Earth by his father. He’s curious what the women he once observed did, and finds himself excited to hear Thor’s story.
“The gate between our worlds is a swift journey, which takes place no longer than four heartbeats. I knew not where I had landed, gazing upon a different night sky trying to divine answers from the stars, when a metal beast being steered by the lovely Jane charged upon me and sent me to the ground. I have been told that the beast is called a van in this realm and Lady Jane has apologized profusely for “running me over.””
Clint can see the shock spread on everyone’s faces, even his own, when they realize that the metal beast wasn’t a mythical creature but, in fact, Jane had ran over Thor with a van. Tony looks like he’s about to start giggling, but manages to reign himself in.
“Yes, after this encounter with the metal beast, we came to an accordance and it did not charge me again. I was mystified as to where my location was and I asked the Jane, Darcy, and Erik, whose names I knew not at the time, on what realm I was in. My questioning confused them, for they had no knowledge of the different realms. Finding no answers I then came to look for the mighty Mjolnir and could not locate my hammer. My search was so passionate and vigorous that I frightened Lady Darcy, which was not my intention, and she reined upon my body the almighty hand lightning, that she calls her taser, and awoke in a room of white.”
Tony is stuffing his hands in his mouth he’s giggling so hard, while Steve looks sympathetic and friendly and is quietly nudging Tony to shut up. Natasha is amused and pleased, but Clint isn’t sure why she’s pleased, and Bruce takes all of this in with a calm demeanor, moving past the initial shock, and has an expression on his face of, “It happens.” Clint, well, he had no idea that the women who danced to “Sexy Back” managed to subdue and knock out a Norse god. He finds himself impressed at Ms. Lewis’s nerve and is slightly charmed in hindsight.
Thor continues his story, talking about finding out how delightful coffee and pop tarts are and encountering the metal beast again.
Everyone is having a good time, and the group bonding session doesn’t turn out to be a total bust.
When the all get back to headquarters, the next couple of weeks turn out to be a couple of busy ones. If they’re not fighting whatever dastardly plot schemed up to take over the world this time, they were training or sleeping.
Clint, finally, has a somewhat slow day and goes down to the shooting range to practice with some new arrows Tony designed. They’re pretty good. The arrows aren’t balanced all the way, still a smudge heavier on the left due to the modifications, but it’s an easy fix. He’ll suggest the improvements and some ideas he’s had tomorrow morning.
He’s the only one in the shooting range, since it is closing time for the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. but it is nice having the quiet and to not have to be shooting for your life. He plays around, shooting multiple arrows at once or with his eyes shut. The agent packs his equipment up in his gym back after shooting for an hour and a half and makes his way over to the locker rooms.
On his way there, he sees a woman looking furtively around and recognizes her as Ms. Lewis. He’s more than a little curious and makes sure to keep out of sight as he follows her over to the storage area. She’s swiping what clearly isn’t her ID and Clint has no idea what’s going on. He knows S.H.I.E.L.D. had her and Dr. Foster checked out and there weren’t any ties to criminal organizations and while he doesn’t think her purpose is nefarious, maybe he should make contact and figure out what’s going on anyway.
She lets out a little “Yesss!” in triumph, as he sidles up behind her, preparing to say hello, when she looks back and barely manages not to drop the f-bomb and questions him.
While making her jump, hadn’t been his original intention, he’s pretty amused by the outcome and smirks in reply. She doesn’t seem to recognize him and he tosses out, “Oh, seeing if you needed any help. You looked confused and I’m always happy to lend a helping hand.” Because saying, “You’re looking rather shifty and I wanted to know what you’re up to,” seems a bit creepy and intrusive.
She blusters her way out of his company threatening him with paperwork, and for a second he’s thinking to himself, ‘Can she really assign me tons of forms to fill?’ Before he decides to retreat, regroup, and ambush her later. He shoots her a grin and a wink, going along with her ruse as he replies, “Now, that won’t be necessary, Agent… I’ll see you around.”
Not that he’s really going to give up his quest so easily, but it would be nice to put up his equipment and maybe get in a quick shower.
Less than twenty minutes later, he’s back in the warehouse, able to use his fancy new clearance to swipe him in. He can hear her still rummaging through the shelves, so he follows the noise to her location. Clint decides to initiate contact again, since Ms. Lewis seemed to give up more answers than she realized, besides it was more fun that way.
He settles against the shelves, watching her search through some files, when she suddenly stops, and he thinks she’s picked up on him, finally, but no. She shifts to the light, turns, and sneezes all over his legs.
He vaguely hears her say, “Oh shit, where the hell did you come from?” As he looks over his uniform and thinks, ‘So much for the shower.’
Ms. Lewis apologizes, and he’s not upset but feels a little dirty and not in the good way, so he says, “Gesundheit,” and wipes his hands on his shirt.
Clint takes this opportunity to start a conversational tangent. “So I never caught your name earlier.”
She cheekily responds, “That's because I never gave it, Agent Barton.” She goes back to searching in the files and he wonders, ‘Is she using the silent treatment to get rid of me?’
After a minute he realizes she is and smirks in reply. ‘Nice try. But, you’ll have to do better.’
She breaks after two minutes. “You're not going to leave until I give in, aren't you?”
“Nope,” Clint responds in a gloating tone.
"Fine, it's Lewis,” she says wearily.
He already knew that, but where’s the fun in showing your intel? “Nice to meet you...Agent Lewis.”
“Yea, it’s a real pleasure.”
Since he’s sort of playing this jaunty, annoying S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, which wouldn’t be too far off from his real personality he’d be sad to hear, Clint asks her straight out, “What’s got you searching down here after hours?”
“It's classified,” is her firm response.
Clint asks, “It’s that much of a secret that you have to do it after hours?”
“Get the man a prize he knows what classified means,” she responds sarcastically.
He winces at the phrasing, reminding him of his childhood for a second. She doesn’t catch that moment of him feeling exposed, and he jumps back into the conversation.
"You sure you don't need any help? I've got a good eye. Get expert word searches finished in a minute.”
She doesn’t pay any attention to that and mockingly replies, "When I'm trying to find Where's Waldo I'll know who to call.”
He can’t help but respond with a helpful, “Ghostbusters?”
"Are you sure S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't hire you for your comedic skills? ‘Cause you really got something there,” Ms. Lewis says, and while he knows it’s a joke, he sometimes wonders if he was asked to be on the Avengers because Fury has a weird sense of humor.
"Thanks doll, nice to know I'm appreciated,” he winks, breaking up the serious thoughts.
She gives him a blank stare in reply and Clint smirks as he sees her lips turn upward, almost reaching a smile.
"It's obviously something recent and not large since you’re looking in the boxes. Want to at least give me a date? I had to put away some of these boxes so I know the damn cataloging system,” he offers.
"I didn't really think there was one, no Dewey decimal code. Y'know?”
"Yea, it's shit,” he admits shrugging, “But I don't really wanna be the one that has to reorganize it.” He thinks back to having to pack boxes, load them up, and unload them, plus organizing them and he’ll take surveillance duty any day over that administrative hell.
"No kidding,” she responds and pauses. He can tell she’s debating whether on telling him or not, when he hears her say, “Uhm, it's from 4 months ago...”
Clint’s not surprised that it’s around the time of the Thor incident, and it’s looking less like a devious plot to get S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets and more like getting some research Dr. Foster needed.
“You mean around the time of the Thor incident?”
She mutters out an assent and he says, "Those boxes are over here.” He leads her to the correct shelves and points where she wants to look. Clint finds himself a sturdy part of a shelf, which has nothing he can knock over and leans against it.
She’s already on the first box and plowing through it. He’s still wondering what it is that she’s looking for and she must see the question on his face, because she blurts out a lie, “Dr. Foster didn't get all of her equipment returned,” and goes to the next box.
Whatever she’s looking for, he’s sure it’s not going to be a threat to the nation, it’s probably something personal or a lucky charm.
“Thought you said it was classified?” He teases.
She flounders at his question, but recovers quickly, “It is. But it’s the device itself that is classified, not the surrounding details.”
Clint smirks and thinks, ‘She’s not bad at this. She’s a quick thinker and has a plausible story. As long as we worked on her facial tells, I’m sure we could have Ms. Lewis tricking people at S.H.I.E.L.D. with ease.’
She snaps him out of her thoughts, with her tiny gasp, and his eyes are immediately focused on her again. Whatever it is that she’s been looking for, she seems to have found it. He takes into consideration the box size and that most of it is paperwork and some miscellaneous office supplies.
She’s pulling it out, when he can see the moment that she remembers his presence, and orders him to, “I’m going to need you to avert your eyes Agent Barton. Stat.”
He complies, secure in the knowledge that he’ll see it and she won’t know and that if it is dangerous, he can easily report it, all while seeming like he listened to her orders or grab it.
She threatens more paperwork, as she pulls the object out of the box, and recognizes it as her iPod, the one from the infamous dance parties. He smiles to himself and waits for her to tell him it’s ok to look. She does as she puts the boxes back up on the shelf. He waits for her to finish, enjoying watching someone else have to shelve the boxes, because it fucking sucks.
Clint catches her mouthing a word and it takes his brain a second to decode it, ‘Ass.’ He laughs to himself, liking Ms. Lewis’s chutzpah. It’s still not going to make him help with the boxes though.
When all the boxes and files are back on the shelf, she asks, “Ready?”
He nods and leads the way to the exit. In a few steps she’s keeping pace with him and states, “Well, I don’t think that good eye of yours really came into play today.”
“What,” Clint questions, because he knew the right shelf and if he would have known what she was looking for, he could have found it. “I’m the one that located the actual boxes.”
She airily replies, “Which I would have found eventually, you saved me ten minutes of work, tops.”
They’re at the exit now and he holds the door open for her as he says, “It would have been much longer than that. You would have been in here until tomorrow morning.”
Ms. Lewis is about to reply when she momentarily tenses up and then brushes it off, acting like the shifty person from earlier before replying a quiet, “Whatever.”
Clint goes instantly on alert, examining the area for any potential threats. The only thing he finds is the night security guards and tells her so. Her expression shows her alarm to that news, which is right around the time that he realizes that’s she not using her actual S.H.I.E.L.D. ID and might not want to run into anyone.
He grabs her wrist, pulling them both further into the hallway of the storage locker, where the security guys are least likely to see them if they walk past and covers her body with his own. The black of his uniform, will attract less attention than the colors of her outfit. This may be a little overkill, but it was the alarm on her face that did him in and made him want to help. She’s not a pro, yet, at breaking into facilities and all she wanted was her iPod. He doesn’t want her to get into trouble for something as harmless as that.
“Shh,” he whispers into her ear when she looks like she’s about to talk. He’s too busy monitoring the footfalls and directions of security to focus on the young woman he’s guarding. Tactically he knows that they’re located in the place with the fewest places to be spotted and that his body is covering hers adequately so he doesn’t have to worry about her shirt drawing notice. Still, there is somewhere deep in his mind that isn’t driven by training that notices that Darcy’s an attractive woman, her body is warm and her hips are the perfect place for his hands.
Security is walking further away, when she shifts, and they both feel something hard dig into her hip.
Clint pulls back to look her in the eyes, and there is no way he can say this with a straight face when he asks, “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”
She looks a little resigned and states matter of factly, “Actually, it’s a taser.”
He stares at her for a second, remembering the story that Thor told, before he leans back and laughs. “Of course it is. I guess I’m lucky it’s not paperwork. All clear.”
He’s made it two steps down the hallway when she says, ““You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, Agent Barton?”
Clint turns to her and smiles, “Go ahead, make my day, Agent Lewis.”
This draws a laugh from her and soon they’re at the elevator. Right before the doors close, she says, “Uhm…well, thanks for the help. Cool.”
Clint gives her a mock salute, turning as the doors close. He has some security tapes to erase of a certain storage locker.
It’s three days later, when the team is introduced to their new interoffice consultant at the end of the meeting.
He just smirks when Ms. Lewis gives him an exasperated look when they’re introduced.
It’s not surprising that after that Ms. Lewis becomes friends with the Avengers.
Clint has heard rumors about her and Natasha’s trip to Atlantic City. He hasn’t been able to get any more details about the incident from any of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but he knows they were there and Coulson had to be called.
She and Steve have a knack for ganging up on Tony, when she isn’t with Tony ganging up on Steve, and she makes a zen playlist for Bruce.
Clint tends to bother her when he’s bored and by the third time, she’s fed up with him putting his dirty boots on her desk filled with paperwork.
“But, I’m bored,” he whines when she tells him to go away.
“Oh my god, you are such a child,” she says as she grabs her bag, “Come on.” She leads the way and checks to make sure he’s following.
When they’re on the elevator he asks, “Where are we going?”
“You said you were bored,” she responds leaving it at that.
Clint can’t just leave it like that. He offers, “How about I guess then.”
She shrugs and he’s following her out of S.H.I.E.L.D. to whatever location she picked.
“Broadway show?” he suggests. This doesn’t get a reaction so he tries again.
He’s on his twentieth guess, “Build-A-Bear Workshop?” when Darcy shoots him a glare and tells him to shut up.
He elaborately mimes locking his mouth and throwing away the key, because he knows it will irritate her. It does, wonderfully, and she throws her hands in the air exclaiming, “You’re impossible!”
When Clint doesn’t immediately follow her in their current direction, she stops and huffs, “Come on!” He grins and catches up to her as she turns to him and says, “We’re almost there anyway.”
None of the stores stand out to him on the street, plus she already nixed the theater idea, and he pays no attention to the hotels.
They’re alongside a restaurant, when Darcy stops and pulls open the door, and answers him cheerfully, “We’re getting ice cream!”
“You do realize it’s fall and sixty degrees outside, right?”
“Says the guy whose shirts are all sleeveless. Is your winter concession short sleeves?”
“I’ll have you know that I have plenty of shirts with sleeves, but my uniform gets a better range of motion and therefore I do as well, without the sleeves.”
“Yea, yea,” she responds sarcastically, “Well, if you get cold, I’ll lend you my scarf. Besides, it’s not that cold in the sun anyway.”
“The fact you’re wearing a scarf means it is not the appropriate time for ice cream.”
“First off fashion police, it’s a sartorial choice. I realize all you agents shop at Catsuits-and-Spandex-R-US, but some of us that don’t have to execute scissor kicks all the time get to wear clothes that reflect our personalities and not our asses.”
“I bet you love our asses,” he grins.
“Working at S.H.I.E.L.D. has the same number of hot, fit, attractive people as an Abercrombie store without the fear of being drowned in cologne, I’ll give you that,” she responds, shoving his arm. “We’re holding up the line, if you don’t want ice cream, get some cheese fries then.”
“I never said I didn’t want ice cream,” he says reading the menu, “Just that it’s not the appropriate weather for it.”
Darcy quietly mutters to herself, “Oh my god, I want to tase you so badly right now.”
They’re at the counter and she orders a root beer float and ushers to Clint to order. He ends up getting Pretzel! The Concrete, because it looks like it will be nice and chocolatey. The person behind the register gives them their totals, and he’s reaching for his card, when Darcy says, “I got it.”
She holds him off before he can say thanks and takes the receipt. They move to the side when she states, “Think of it as a bribe. If I ever catch your G.I. Joe boots on my desk again, I won’t hesitate to tase you, and I’m sure Coulson won’t mind covering up for me.”
Clint laughs and replies, “Understood, ma’am.”
“Good,” she starts, “Now tell me how Tony ruined the microwave…”
They get their frozen treats, and he has to admit, it’s pretty good, and when they’re standing in the sun, it’s not that cold.
He walks with her back to her floor, when she gives him a fixed gaze, “Now, remember….” Clint nods, and she sends him one last ominous look before heading back to her desk.
The next week, when Clint is stuck waiting two hours between meetings, he bugs Darcy into going on a candy run with him. She gets Shock Tarts, and he should not be surprised due to her partiality to her taser, and he grabs peanut M&Ms. He pays.
Clint is finishing writing a report, when the call comes in that a monster is rampaging Manhattan, not too far from S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.
He thinks, ‘Well, at least they it wasn’t plural,’ but he knocks on some wood, just in case.
In no time at all, he has his gear and is with the rest of the Avengers, that aren’t away on business, on the street the beast was last on. He can already see the destruction of some crushed cars and tossed objects, but it doesn’t seem to be attacking people. The quick brief they received before heading out there, was that it was a mythical creature in origin but could fall under Loki or any out there geneticists’ plot. Clint’s still not able to wrap his head around a three-headed dog, but working with S.H.I.E.L.D. let alone the Avengers, means you see some weird shit.
Iron Man spots the creature and relays the details, while Captain America states the plan of action, which is, essentially, to try and herd it into a sheltered location to minimize damage.
Hawkeye climbs up the fire escape to the top of the roof in the area they’re trying to draw the dog to.
Thor easily attracts the beast’s attention calling out to it, “May your day be blessed Garmr, how do you fare?”
The mutant dog drops the post office box it was chewing on and runs towards Thor. Captain America calls for an attack of himself on the left side, Thor on the right, with Iron Man in the air. “Hawkeye, whenever you get a clear shot, use those special tranquilizer arrows.”
“Affirmative, Cap,” he replies.
His team members aren’t having any luck with the dog beast and Thor doesn’t even seem to try and fight it, instead calling out, “Oh, Garmr! Let me ride astride you on this glorious day! For you have much changed since I have seen you last.”
Iron Man laughs over the comm, but hell, maybe Thor’s Allspeak worked because the dog is no longer moving. Hawkeye lines up his shots and sends arrow after arrow into the dog’s flank. The beast’s tails wipes at the minor annoyance and goes back to fighting with the others.
“They don’t seem to be penetrating the fur, Cap. The tranqs are useless,” he says.
“I’m going to build you some new ones then, that can fucking seal the deal,” Iron Man states as he shoots a beam at the dog’s head. The middle head lunges at Iron Man and as he tries to escape, his foot is caught by the beast’s mouth.
“If I get teeth marks on my suit, I’m going to be pissed,” he yells, as the dog shakes him around as if he were nothing more than a chew toy.
“Does this taste like bacon?” Iron Man proudly cries as he shoots a repulsor beam into the dog’s mouth.
This appears to be enough to get the beast to let go, and Iron Man goes flying into a nearby store.
The area seems to be quiet as a lonely cry of “Noooo!” is let out.
Captain America asks as he manages to rip his shield away from the three-headed dog, “Hawkeye, who is that?”
He looks down to his left where the cry came from, only to feel his stomach leave his body when Clint recognizes the person now trapped by the mutant dog. “Oh fuck, it’s Darcy.”
Clint isn’t able to see Darcy face due to the mutant animal’s moving blocking his view. He has no visual confirmation and can’t even see her face to lip read or read her expressions. He looks over to Captain America’s face, knowing that the super soldier can hear her, and the man’s expression does not look good.
“Shit,” Iron Man says, free from the rubble. “Thor, man, can you use some of that Allspeak and get your dog friend away from her?”
Thor nods and yells loudly, even for Thor, to the beast, “Garmr, come over here and we shall roam the forests hunting prey! I will race you and you can tell me of Hel and the others.” None of this seems to have an effect and Thor begins waving his hammer and sends shocks along the ground.
The three-headed dog reacts to that, all six of its ears lying flat against it head, and growling in response. Now, if they could only figure out a way to get the dog away from Darcy without her accidentally injured by a back leg, they could take this thing down.
Thor is still calling to the beast and making noise from the side, when the mutant dog goes still. The Avengers think that Thor has gotten through to the canine. When it then, lifts its back leg and thumps it against the ground and rolls over, legs droopily hanging over its chest.
“Anyone have any idea what’s going on?” Iron Man calls out and none of them have a clue.
Darcy is slowly standing up, her taser in hand, when the dog makes a noise. All the Avengers tense up, but she sends another charge of electricity and it quiets the hound up.
Hawkeye is in the process of climbing off the roof, when he reaches the ground and sees her finishing up her phone call. His stomach is no longer having an out of body experience, but may be higher or lower than it was before. She’s still by the dog, and he’s itching to tug her away from there, but resists, especially because he thinks she’ll tase him.
Captain America, ever straight to the point asks, “Are you ok, Darcy? What are you even doing out here?”
“I’m fine, Cap, and S.H.I.E.L.D. will be here in three minutes with the containment facilities for Fluffy here,” she replies and tases the dog again, who seems to love it.
“Fluffy? You named the demon dog, Fluffy?” Tony chimes in, lifting up his face plate.
“Really, none of you know about Harry Potter?” Darcy asks in a disappointed tone.
Clint goes to push up his sunglasses, to hide his expression of amusement, and then remembers he’s not wearing any and slickly runs his hand through his hair.
She continues, “I was out here going to go get lunch because I didn’t know the Hound of Baskerhell was going on a rampage. I missed that memo because I’ve been in the basement all morning. I was going to get some cheap, amazing Cuban food and have one of the most amazing drinks known to man, the mojito frozen daiquiri, but you know what?”
Darcy gestures to Tony, voice getting louder, “Since you, went through their front window, I doubt that that’s going to happen. Who even knows if they’ll reopen? Those daiquiris were works of art man! Never smelt like alcohol, just made you smell like mint and dreams. Dreams! They even would turn my coke slushees into Cuba Libres! Who does that? Who does that?”
All Clint thinks is, ‘Oh, that’s why she would talk in Spanish whenever she smelt like mint, and probably why most of what she would say would be Spanish cuss words and “Salud” over and over again.’
“On top of that, I feel disgusting,” which is the point all the Avengers realize that Darcy is standing there in a wet, transparent top. Steve is embarrassed and looks away, while Tony, an admirer of the human body, gazes appreciatively and moves back to her face. Clint stares openly and stupidly before straightening up and keeps his eyes strictly on her face. He does have excellent peripheral vision and secretly gazes a little more.
He’s debating if this is better than the Miami swimsuit show, when he hears her talking again.
“While you all were playing with a giant, mutant puppy, I was getting slobbered on by it! Ok, it may not seem like playing and it may be teething, but you’re playing tug-o-war and swiping at it, and it just thinks it is a game! It’s a puppy, still, and holy shit, yea, it’s going to get bigger, and destroy cars instead of flip-flops, but that’s what it’s going to do.”
Thor furthers her claim and says, “Lady Darcy is correct. This ‘Fluffy’ is a genteel beast and only wishes for its stomach to be assuaged and meat flavored treats. It will be a fine hunter once properly trained!”
‘Well, I guess it’s official and the dog’s name is Fluffy now. I wonder if music works then?’ Clint ponders jokingly.
“Uhh, thanks Thor. So yea, it’s a puppy, you ruined my lunch and essentially my outfit, and...You’re buying me lunch and new outfit!” she states to the team.
They’re all looking a little bewildered which is when Agent Coulson appears. He strolls in and offers Darcy his jacket, which an appreciative Darcy says, “Oh my god, thank you. I’ll get this dry cleaned and back to you by tomorrow.”
“You can bring it in with your report,” Coulson replies and then addresses to the team, “I expect your reports on my desk tomorrow as well.”
Clint nods his assent, but is mentally somewhere else, as he contemplates Coulson’s jacket on Darcy. He doesn’t like it. It feels wrong.
Agent Coulson is walking away when the stops and states, “Stark, buy Miss Lewis lunch or would you like our standing lunch date of Super Nanny and a plush carpet instead? And Miss Lewis, take the rest of the day off, and if all else fails, appeal to Ms. Potts’ sensible nature.”
Clint shakes out of his mental daze and laughs, thinking about the other person that loves a taser almost as much as Darcy does.
Clint cracks a joke, and Tony makes a plan for all of them to go eat Mexican food and to get Darcy some new clothes.
“¡Vamanos muchachos!” Tony excitedly announces and grabs Steve to tell him all about the restaurant they’re going to. Thor is practically floating on air, after playing with a giant beast dog and is walking contentedly.
Darcy looks too serious and Clint leans over and whispers to her, “Sounds like someone has been watching too much Dora.”
“Heard that! And, fuck Boots, I’m all about Diego” Tony yells back.
He keeps Darcy entertained the entire trip back to the mansion.
As soon as Clint steps foot into his bathroom, he strips off his uniform and hops into the shower. He’s still a little worked up from earlier, but staying away from caffeine and relaxing with deep breaths, like Bruce showed him, on the couch should help out.
When he’s finished, he towels off and heads to his closet. He’s not sure how fancy the place Tony picked is and most establishments don’t care what you’re wearing when you’re with Stark. He’s goes for some dark jeans and picks a light blue dress shirt, out of his, admittedly, sparse wardrobe. He may not have a lot, but at least they are all classics pieces that he could get multiple uses out of them.
He heads over to the main living room and sits in his spot on the couch. He’s not the first one ready, Steve is, but none of the others are finished either. He takes a minute to zone out, taking a deep breath in through his nose and exhaling out through his mouth. Bruce showed him how to concentrate on his breathing and really focus on his diaphragm filling up with air. Soon he is somewhat more relaxed, and with no real concern, lightly stretches his muscles.
Clint uses the remote to get to his DVR folder and picks an episode of The Soup he hasn’t seen and hits play. Joel is introducing Chat Stew when Darcy comes in and takes a seat, asking where Tony is.
“Still getting ready, I think,” Clint says contemplating other options, “Unless he’s snuck into his workshop and we’re better off sending for a search party and take out.” He looks over at her in her red and stripes and whatever was wrong earlier is gone. “Nice threads. Although, I’m pretty sure a paper bag is better than being soaked in eau de dog drool,” he jokes.
“I have two words for you Barton, purple spandex,” she replies, driving the point home in his arm.
‘She had to have seen some of Natasha’s lighter blackmail on me to know about that,’ he grimaces at the thought.
“And, Daddy Warbucks and JARVIS did a pretty good job. Although, I give all the credit to JARVIS, because if this were up to Tony, I feel like I’d be covered in feathers and sequins,” she finishes and physically winces at Tony’s occasionally gaudy taste.
Clint mentally imagines some red and gold number so that Darcy can be an Iron Man Rockette 2.0, he laughs out, “But what a show girl you would make!”
Darcy laughs too, before shoving him and reaching for the remote to turn up Clippos Magnificos.
That mutant dog definitely would have thought she was a chew toy if she wore something that flashy out and about. He’s glad that she wasn’t hurt. One day she might be, and others associated with the Avengers too, might get caught up in some villain’s chaos, and he tries not to think about it. He glances over her way and lightly says, “I’m glad you weren’t eaten by a mutant dog beast,”
She turns and smiles up at him, responding, “Yea, me too.”
It’s a really good episode of The Soup.
Thanks to Tony being Stark, they’re seated at the restaurant as soon as they get there, leaving a small line of swanky people peevish in their wake. It’s a private booth, with the prime viewing location of the elaborate waterfall, surrounded by fire that also doubled as some mood lighting. There are some tropical plants hanging along the wall and the other tables beside them are empty. If they wouldn’t have just come from outside where there was still sunlight, it would be easy to mistake the time to be nine in the evening.
As soon as the waiter comes Tony announces, “We don’t need menus, we’ll have a little of everything, but what we do need are drinks, so why don’t we start four mango-passion fruit margaritas and one of your tropical lemonades.”
After that dinner goes, predictably, a bit off course, with Thor getting a brain freeze and Steve finding the hottest salsa too hot. Darcy and Tony get into a mangled Spanish rap-off. Clint has no idea how they started but he swears he’s going to have “Dónde está la biblioteca?” stuck in head for days. Although, while they’re trying to rhyme naranja with another word, he secretly eats most of the guacamole, it evens out.
Tony keeps on ordering exotic margaritas for himself and Darcy, because Clint put his foot down and wanted a regular one, while Thor decided to try Sangria and found it be a wonderful brew that tasted nothing like blood. Tony even has a plethora of non-alcoholic drinks for Steve.
When the food comes out a cheer goes out and soon everyone is grabbing tacos, enchiladas, empanadas, fajitas, tortilla chips, rice, beans, plantains, and sauces. Even though everyone is eating, and they’re making a good dent in the food, Tony manages to keep them entertained with stories of his favorite time in Mexico; the one time he was at a state dinner and kept referring to shrimp, camarones, and said cojones, balls, instead; and other crazy stories that happen only in the life of Tony.
Another round of drinks arrives as the plates gets cleared, all of the food gone. They’re all mentioning how full they are when the dessert arrives. It’s this wonderful fried concoction with powdered sugar, cinnamon and honey and it reminds Clint of eating elephant ears, when he was younger. They demolish it pretty quickly and are soon sitting, relaxing and joking around.
Thor goes to take a call, and it’s weird seeing the Asgardian with a cellphone, when Clint looks over and checks to see how Darcy’s doing.
“This was fun,” he states.
She turns her head to answer him, when he spots some sugar on her cheek.
“Hold still for a second,” he tells her, focusing to make sure his hand-eye coordination is accurate after all those drinks. He uses her chin as a guide and gently brushes granules off her smooth cheek. “You had some leftover sugar on your cheek. All clear,” he says, grabbing his water to take a drink.
A flash of annoyance crosses her expression before it’s gone and she sarcastically says, “Thanks.”
‘Huh? Did she think I was mothering her? Because I wasn’t. I was cleaning off some sugar,’ he thinks, lightly biting his thumb, not aware of the faint trace of sugar he tastes.
His thoughts are derailed when she finishes her drink and looks slyly at him, asking, “So, what’s your favorite Harry Potter book?”
Clint laughs and they argue the merits of all of the Harry Potter books.
Tony tries to convince Darcy to stay the night and continue the party, but she pointedly reminds him about the reports and some of the work she needs to do. The threat of work wisely shuts Tony up, but he offers Happy’s vehicular services and she accepts.
Darcy’s waving to them from the door of her apartment as she enters, when Tony turns to Clint and sighs, “Oh Barton.”
Clint has no idea what Tony’s going on about and shoots him a confused look.
Tony leans over and pats the other man’s hand and says, “You’re hopeless.” He effectively ends that conversation when he asks, “JARVIS can you play “Don’t Stop Believing” for us?”
This is how Tony, Steve, Clint and Thor all got home, by singing Journey.
The next day when Clint goes to his locker he finds an 11x17” map of the S.H.I.E.L.D. offices. His first thought is a mission, but he would never receive it so informally, when he notices what’s written on the map. There’s a phoenix staircase over by Fury’s office and some sort of cat—‘Which has to be a lion,’ Clint thinks—by Coulson’s office.
He sits down and marvels at the map, laughing when he comes to a new joke. The usual meeting room for the Avengers is called the Gryffindor Common Room. The research and development labs are called the dungeons, with the exception of Bruce’s lab which is called Dagobah. Even, where Steve normally liked to work out was marked with a star and the shooting range was covered with arrows. He discerns that Thor’s symbol is a lightning bolt, Black Widow’s an hourglass, and Tony’s a little crown, which were all huddled together and labeled the golden trio.
He looks for more little symbols when he comes across a squiggle. He has to look at the location on the map when he realizes it’s a snake with bolts of electricity surrounding it. Of course, Darcy would mark her desk as an electric Slytherin.
He chuckles and folds it up carefully back in his locker. There’s no note and even though it doesn’t say by Darcy on the bottom, she’s the only one he’s discussed this with recently.
He makes sure to stop by her desk later on with a large bag of Warheads he’s bought. She’s too busy to open it then, but she gives a big smile and appreciatively thanks him before she’s off answering another call and pulling up the appropriate file.
When Clint gets back to the Avengers Mansion that night, he makes sure to hang the map on the wall.
The next day while Clint’s at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Steve asks, “Clint, can you come with me to go visit Fluffy? He’s located in some upstate S.H.I.E.L.D. facilities.”
“Oh, I know the place and sure, let me go grab my gear and a couple of electrified arrows, just in case,” he replies.
Steve smiles, “Good. The car will be waiting outside; I’ll meet you there in a couple minutes.”
Clint nods, thinking, ‘I guess the name Fluffy, really did stick.’
He heads upstairs to bring his things, grabbing the new bow Tony built him. It was a travel sized version that could be folded and more easily concealed than his usual bow. The only down side was that it didn’t have quite the power of his normal bow. It made Clint feel better having a bow with him, even if they weren’t expecting trouble today. Talk about one hell of a security blanket.
As he’s exiting S.H.I.E.L.D. to head out with Steve, he comes across Tasha and Darcy chatting amiably. He still hasn’t found out anything about their Atlantic City trip and feels let down by the S.H.I.E.L.D. gossiping network.
They’re saying their goodbyes and Darcy walks past him, back to her desk, waving hello. He smiles and gives her a mock salute. Natasha smirks at him, as if his downfall was imminent, and he’s confused about what he’s done.
‘Sure, I ate the rest of her cheesecake while she was in Paris, but that would have gone bad. I was only helping out!’ he justifies to himself. He looks back and forth at where the two women once were, thinking ‘Why’s Darcy in this? Or is Tasha only making me think that she’s a part of whatever evil plot going on?’
After a minute of trying to figure out Natasha’s plan, he gives up and shrugs. ‘Screw it. I’ll drive myself crazy attempting to discover her motives and plan. I’m never thinking about this again.’
Clint walks a couple of steps before his nose picks up on a fragrance wafting through the lobby. It’s spicy and sweet with hints of the exotic in there.
‘Smells good in here,’ he thinks as he walks out, looking for a new flowering plant and finds none. ‘Well, I have a man to see about a dog.’