Title: Flying Monkeys
Fandom: Avengers (2012)
Characters: Clint Barton, Maria Hill, Nick Fury
Tags: Sort of cracky, sort of angsty; (Still riding the Coulson Lives! train); non-graphic vomiting, is that going to bother anyone?
In retrospect, Clint blames it on the Alphabet. He became acquainted with the Alphabet relatively late in life (troubled homelife, joining the circus, stuff in general) and when he finally did, the Alphabet turned out to be an unchancy friend. At best.
If he hadn't been on terms with the Alphabet, then when Maria Hill asked him about his part in the invasion of the helicarrier, he wouldn't have blurted out, "Oh, Loki was in a hurry so I went with Plan C." See? No Alphabet: no rating system: no trouble.
Hill blinks. "Loki had three different plans for taking down the 'carrier?"
"You planned it."
Clint is tired. He's really tired, and dirty from a very nasty fight over New York City and, while he remembers a lot of things from his time as Loki's Little Helper, sleep and regular meals aren't among them. He has to admit, he's a little muzzy. But Hill is his superior officer, and this is an official debriefing, and he isn't a traitor to SHIELD except under very specific circumstances. So he tries to explain.
"You were on alert and knew I was compromised, which takes out A. I wouldn't have been able to spring Magneto from supermax until Saturday afternoon, even assuming he'd be willing to help out an alien invader which, I don't think so. That left C, and if you think it's easy finding and training even halfway decent minions in three days on my private budget, wow, it's really not."
Hill is silent for a moment. Then, "You were very specific about Magneto."
"Is this some kind of hobby for you? Planning our imminent destruction?"
He stares at her. "I'm a sniper. You pay me to take down targets as quickly, efficiently, and finally as possible. You send me out for hour after hour with nothing to do but wait for the shot and think about how to take down targets quickly, efficiently, and finally. What am I going to do, crochet? I need my hands free to work."
He looks down at his hands now, blunt-fingered and battered. The trouble with great eyesight and a good memory is that now he has a whole lot of faces of the people who died when it became only right and sensible to turn his hypotheticals into realities. One of his drinking buddies. That girl from Finance who always beat him at poker. Three civilian analysts who shouldn't even have been on the 'carrier... He lunges out of his chair and Maria has her gun out, but he's only grabbing for the rubbish bin and emptying his stomach of the first meal he's had in days.
"Thanks for the sign of trust, Hill," he says, wiping the tastes of garlic and bile out of his mouth. It's okay, though, really. She has no reason to trust him now. He still doesn't know how he avoided shooting her in that first hour. So it's okay.
Hill holsters her piece and slaps a yellow legal pad on the table. "Write them down. All of them." So Clint does, fishing out his thick reading glasses and scratching awkwardly at the pad with a plastic felt-tip pen in the blocky printing that's the best he can really manage.
Hill sighs when he starts blocking out Plan D. Around Plan G she's swearing softly under her breath. At Plan K she peers over his shoulder and says "Flying monkeys? Really? Get to bed, Barton."
"I have a really nifty one for Dr Doom's place in Latveria," he says, a little helplessly. But Hill scritches him on the head like some kind of dumb kid brother and pushes him to the door. So it's kind of okay.
What with critical damage to the helicarrier and the alien invasion to clean up, it's several hours before Maria gets time to look through the sheets of yellow paper. She spreads them out on a table in the senior break room and sips the specially bad black coffee they serve there while she reads. After a while, she looks up to find Plan K pinned to a cork board and a couple of senior analysts looking it over.
One of them, tall, white-haired, and austere, says, "Flying monkeys?"
The other, petite and dark, says, "Oh, from that lab in Borneo."
"I guess." He squints at the awkward printing. "Yeah, they'd get through the radar okay. Slip through in a flock of birds, no trouble."
"Those ceramic limpet mines'd be great," says the other. "Boomyah!" They high-five with both hands.
Maria does not like senior analysts. She gives them the look that says 'I am Fury's Right Hand; don't make me notice you,' and they scuttle off. She flicks through security feeds until she finds where Barton has migrated from his (but we're not calling it a holding cell) temporary quarters to the corner of Medbay that Stark and Rogers aren't supposed to know about yet, where a very ill man lies with more tubes in him than a hydroslide park. Then she picks up a phone.
She says, "You know that guy who's really good at shooting things so we just send him off to shoot stuff?"
And, "Since we're rebuilding the 'carrier anyway, there's some security holes we could maybe take a look at."
The next morning Maria stands at ease as Director Fury finishes his breakfast, peeling and breaking apart an orange with strong dark fingers. Barton is sitting in front of them with his hands flat on his knees. He's looking considerably healthier - only one day dead, now - but he's doing the thing with the eyebrows, the I am stoic as a very stoic thing but my eyebrows are miserable! bit. Maria grinds her teeth.
"Are you going to shoot me, sir?" asks Barton bluntly.
"And why would I want to do that, son?" says Fury, and takes a long sip from his mug of hot chocolate. Barton's eyebrows pinch together a little more.
Fury puts down his mug and flips through a folder, stopping at one particular page. "'Interrupt Fury's daily supply of pastries,'" he quotes with interest.
Barton's eyes slide to the side. "Textbook hypoglycemia, sir. There isn't much that'll throw you off your game..."
Fury hums thoughtfully. Then he pops a piece of orange in his mouth, swallows it, opens a notebook, and says, "Your thoughts on Latveria. Ah yes," he leans forward over his desk and holds out one hand. "Welcome to Level 7 clearance, kid."
Barton hesitates. "Clearance only goes up to Level 6."
From behind the Director, Maria explains, "This is on the 'how screwed is SHIELD if you flip again' scale."
She smiles reassuringly, but Barton only turns green.