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It's not that Clint objects to backup, but he usually likes to have a little more of an idea of how good the backup is going to be.

On the other hand, Nat's vouching for the guy so there's only so incompetent he can be.

The street's still innocently empty when Clint hears the scrape of a foot on the surface behind him and glances over his shoulder. Nat's backup is a tall, broad-shouldered white guy with a day or so of beard and his dark hair tied back in a hipster ponytail that goes with his black skinny jeans. He's not exactly dressed to go into combat, his other clothes are clean but soft and shapeless in a way that looks like it's on purpose. He has gloves but no hat, and you don't have to have Clint's eyesight to see that he's extremely fucking dangerous. But Clint thinks he's also...worried?

"I'm gonna assume this is for you," Clint says, shoving the rifle case in the guy's direction. The guy looks at it for a blank second before he unsnaps the catches and lifts the weapon out. Only once he's checked it over does he say, "Thanks." 

"We're moving in two," says Cap's voice in Clint's ear.  He wishes he hadn't let Stark build comms into his regular hearing aid; it's fine on ops like this but it can make daily life a bit of a drag.

Tall Dark and Gloomy checks his phone.

"Who are you?" Clint asks, idly curious.  Might as well pass the time till go.  The guy gives him a look he recognizes, one that says Oh great, a talker.  He smirks.  

"Nobody," the guy says curtly, and settles the rifle on the edge of the roof.

"'I'm Nobody, who are you?  Are you Nobody too?'" Clint quotes.

The guy gives him a look of bafflement that rivals Rogers for depth, and Rogers can frown in confusion like the super-serum enhanced all his face muscles too.  "What," the guy says, with no lift to make it a question.

"It's poetry, Emily Dickinson," Clint explains.  "What, you don't like poetry?"

The guy snorts and looks back out into the street.  "Of course I like poetry.  Russian poetry."

"Aw, dude, no," Clint groans.  "You're part of Nat's Russki squad?"  No response.  "No wonder you look like Gloombucket T. Doomerson, Esquire."  Even for Clint that's not terribly tactful, but Ivan ignores it.  The dourness of Russians is a stereotype, but it's one that Russians in Clint's line of work tend to embrace wholeheartedly—not Nat, but she is an exception to a lot of rules.  At least this one's managed to eliminate his accent; from the sound of him he could be from New York.  But he isn't going to be anything but business.  "You want wide perimeter or narrow?"

Clint completely fails to miss the skeptical look Ivan gives his bow, but he ignores it; he's used to it.  Ivan will figure it out.

"Narrow," Ivan says.

"You got it," Clint says, and swings up to the top of an air exchanger to get a better wide view.  As he's going Cap says, "Thirty-second warning."  He's just settled in when something down on street level explodes with a snap and goons start swarming out into the street.  Clint grins as his thumb settles in to anchor against his jaw.  Nothing like a good old-fashioned shooting gallery.

Iron Man dives across his vision as he looses and grabs another arrow.  At the edge of the roof Ivan is shooting with mechanical precision, but he's also muttering.  At this distance, with comm chatter and the noise of the fight in the street drifting up, Clint's aids are too muddled to make out what Ivan's saying until he gets a little louder.  "What would you do without me to take them down for you?" is the first coherent sentence Clint gets, and he takes a half-second of relative lull to check.  

Ivan is completely focused on Rogers, who has done his usual thing where he runs full-tilt into whatever the threat is and comes out relatively unscathed because you can do that kind of stupid shit when you're a supersoldier with a shield made of the rarest metal on the planet, even if you never, ever check your goddamn left flank.  Because he's on wide Clint sees the dude on Cap's left before Ivan does and the bowstring falls off his fingers with the sweet perfection of a shot you don't have to watch to know it'll hit.

Hydra dipshits.  Clint's not even trying for non-lethal shots, though now that he's paying attention Ivan seems to favor kneecaps—and is good enough to hit them at this distance.  Where has Nat been hiding this guy?

"Get back, Steve!" Ivan barks.  Fortunately Clint's in the middle of drawing so it doesn't mess up his shot.  "Do you not have any thought for the people who care for you," Ivan goes on, in that same flat no-questions voice.  "Stark at least has a tin suit to wear.  Where is your tin suit."

"Stark offered to make him one but he wouldn't take it," Clint says as he nocks another arrow.  Ivan doesn't seem to notice, wondering audibly why Steve doesn't take cover behind the Hulk, which is a little unfair because in this case Bruce is comfortably back in the Tower where, as he put it, he's not going to break another borough.  But it means Ivan knows about the Hulk.

"For shit's sake, Steven, duck," Ivan says.  Clint doesn't see the boneheaded maneuver that produces this order, but he knows the tone; it's the same voice Nat usually uses on him when he's gotten into a fight he shouldn't have.

"Are you serious.  Steve why do you never look left."

OK.  This is getting creepy, because when has Ivan seen Cap fight enough to know about that little peculiarity?  Clint releases his arrow with a worried feeling in his stomach, scans for another target, realizes there isn't one just as Rogers says, "I think that's a wrap, people."

Cap is standing over one of Ivan's takedowns, rubbing the back of his neck.  After a second he looks up at the Roof o'Snipers, because Cap is totally good enough to calculate bullet trajectories.  Clint gives him a two-finger salute but he doesn't know if Steve spots Ivan, who maybe isn't actually Ivan after all.

He gets down from the exchanger and does a quick check of his bow as Ivan takes apart the rifle.  Clint has a feeling the armory is not getting that weapon back, which is fine by him because when he needs one he has one he likes better.

"I thought you were a friend of Nat's," Clint says conversationally.  Ivan nods, looking a little sour about it.  "Uh...so, then why did you spend the whole time yelling at Rogers?"  And also Clint's fairly sure that Ivan's 'narrow' was exactly one Cap-width.  Ivan gives him a baffled look and Clint grimaces.  "You do...know you were doing that, right?"  Because if Ivan was talking to himself without realizing, that's maybe not the best indication of mental stability Clint has ever encountered, and he's saying this as a guy who worked for SHIELD and hangs out with the Black Widow.  "Yelling about how Rogers is a dumbass who can't watch his own back?"  In the interests of fairness he adds parenthetically, "Totally agree about that, by the way, but, like...how do you even know him?"

Ivan looks like he wants to slit his own throat.  "Ask Romanoff about it, she can explain," he says through gritted teeth. So maybe he is a Russian after all?  Clint's getting confused. "But don't say anything to Rogers."

Uh.

"Please," Ivan adds, as if he's just remembered people say things like that.

Clint studies him, then glances over the edge of the roof.  Down in the street Cap is directing the bindup of a whole lot of kneecap-challenged Hydra dipshits who Clint didn't have to personally shoot.  Not that he couldn't have, but it was nice to be able to concentrate on the free-range dipshits instead of Rogers' left.  "Yeah, OK, I'll talk to Nat," he says with a shrug.  He offers his right hand, which Ivan stares at for a second before accepting. Thankfully he doesn't try to play stupid grip games, just shakes. "I'm Barton."

"Barnes," Ivan says.

"Pleasure working with you," Clint says, as he's anchoring one end of his grapple.  He shoots the arrow and steps out into space as soon as it hits, and he's halfway across the street when he puts together that name, what Nat's told him about the leadup to the fall of SHIELD, and way too much time hanging out with Coulson. The realization combined with the pang of missing Phil makes him almost not stick his landing, and Nat (it never gets old how damn good she looks suited up) gives him the face that's laughing without actually laughing.  He dips his head at her and she shrugs.


"Did you seriously.  Did you seriously send the Winter Goddamned Soldier to be my backup without telling me?" Clint hisses, as soon as he gets Nat alone, which is not nearly soon enough.  She's sitting in an overstuffed armchair in her suite and he's looming over her, not because she'll be intimidated but because it makes him feel better.

"Technically, no," she says, with the ghost of a smirk.  "Technically, I sent him to be Steve's backup."

"He doesn't want Steve to know he was there!" Clint exclaims, barely resisting the urge to wave his arms.  "And given he was trying to fucking kill him the last time they met, I'm not surprised!  You should have told me so I could drop him if he threatened him."  He's aware his pronouns are getting confused but Nat will know what he means.

"He's not trying to kill him anymore," Nat says seriously.  "I talked to him back in DC a few weeks after the fall." Clint has a flash of retroactive terror at that statement, but Nat knows what she's doing.  "All he wants is to keep Steve safe.  It's his mission now."

"Oh jeez," Clint says.  He drops into one of the other chairs and thinks about Nat's DC debriefing:  So you know how Steve's best friend got shot off a train and he tried to kill himself a week later?...And you know the Winter Soldier?  "Oh, this is...not good.  This is why Steve came back to New York, isn't it?  He's hoping it'll break the programming or something."

"Frankly I think the programming is already as broken as it's going to get," Natasha says, and for a second she looks tired and much closer to her real age than usual.  Clint's aware that this is treading on dangerously unstable ground for her.  "It's just...aimed in a better direction now."

"That's some really relative definitions of 'better', Nat."  She shrugs.  "Steve wants to find Barnes."

"Steve wants to find Bucky," Nat says grimly.  "Who I don't think technically exists anymore.  So I'm helping Barnes keep his head down until he can get it straightened out."

"I'm not sure...the first time someone seriously threatened Bucky Barnes, Steve basically changed the direction of World War Two, singlehanded, to save him.  How long do you think you're going to be able to keep this up?  I mean, Steve's not actually a moron, he knows I wasn't the only one shooting."

Nat heaves a sigh that is, for her, theatrically heavy.  "Just say you didn't see him, Clint.  There was another good roof behind you."  Clint thinks about it, and he's pretty sure none of the shots Barnes made would have been impossible from up there, so that'll work.

"Next time, I'd just...really appreciate a heads-up," Clint says helplessly.

Nat takes his hand.  "It wasn't my secret, Clint.  I'm sorry."  And Clint gets that, and knows she wouldn't be telling him now if he hadn't a) figured it out on his own and b) gotten permission from Barnes.  They aren't and can't be the kind of couple who tell each other everything.

"Bucky Barnes," he says, wondering, which also means apology accepted.  "God, Phil would fucking explode."  It's been long enough that he can say things like that.

Nat laughs.  "It couldn't be worse than when he tried to talk to Steve the first time."  She squeezes his hand and drops it.  "Come on, we should go do team bonding with the others."