And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
- Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah
Saving New York City from the Chitauri garnered forgiveness for deeds done while under the thrall of Loki and the Mind Stone from his Avenger teammates, but not from his fellow SHIELD agents. Agents who needed someone for the focus of their grief and hate. The Chitauri were dead, Loki taken back to Asgard, so there remained only Clint Barton and Dr. Eric Selvig.
After weeks under the tender auspices of SHIELD psychiatrists, and the hospitality of the basement rooms of the Triskellion, both men were declared free of any remnants of the Mind Stone and released into a world that wanted someone to punish.
Tony Stark swooped in and spirited Dr. Selvig into Stark Labs so fast he blew Nick Fury’s trench coat over his head. That left Clint.
Clint, who’s best friend and partner disappeared into the bureaucracy of SHIELD … Hawkeye, who’s handler and friend died … Clint who was persona non grata in the place that had been his safe haven for years … Clint who now sat in Nick Fury’s office reading through a pile of paper files.
“What do you want me to do with all this?” Clint indicated the scattered files.
“I want you to put that tactician genius of yours to work and tell me what you would do if you were in my situation.”
Clint rolled his eyes.
“I’d setup a shadow agency with safe houses and bolt holes for the loyal, and I’d be following the money. Pad budgets, siphon money from anywhere you can without sending up flags. Don’t bother taking out the small fish … Take out the linchpins … The people that are vital to the whole. Accidents, medical problems, deaths no one will look beyond the mundane.”
“Good. I’ll take the shadow agency, while you follow the money.” He pointed to two large sea bags and a large backpack. “Your gear and some spending money. There’s a small Quinjet right outside. It’ll be easier to get in and out under the radar than a regular jet. Report only to me. If I have to go to ground, talk to Romanoff.”
“Is this why you’ve kept her from me?” Clint’s tone was flat, his face a mask.
“As much as I hate what Loki did to you and Eric it was a perfect opportunity to put this plan into play.”
“One-eyed bastard.” Clint grumbled gathering.
“Barton, I know what I’m asking of you is so far in the shadows that it’s a shade of black, but I’d do it again if it means saving what we’ve built.”
With a sharp nod Clint gathered his gear and didn’t look back.
He researched and surveilled. He wrapped himself in darkness, and did Fury’s bidding. With each death, HYDRA lost key assets across their organization. With each assassination, Clint Barton’s soul withered until the day Nick Fury didn’t answer Clint’s call … The day the news services carried the gun battle in downtown Washington, D.C. The day Nick Fury died.
Clint laid his head on his arms. Darkness pulled on his body and soul. He picked up his phone and dialed the number Nick gave him as a Savior. It went to voicemail. He left a coded message then dragged himself to the shower. When he checked his phone, the message told him Fury had gone to ground. The endgame had started.
When the smoke cleared HYDRA, Nick Fury, SHIELD, and all its long time agents had been burned to the ground. One benefit of Fury leaving Clint out in the cold was his files were buried on servers only a select few could access. What was left of his heart clenched at the thought of Natasha exposed to the world. He would probably never see her again. The last little flame remaining in his soul sputtered down to an ember. His friends and family were gone.
Washington, D.C. lay in a smoldering ruin … The Triskellion was shredded from explosions and gun battles. Far to the west, a small Quinjet landed in a high alpine meadow where a cabin sat in the shadow of towering lodge pole pines. Clint secured the jet, grabbed the three bags he’d left Fury’s office with 18 months prior. Though the sun warmed the meadow, it no longer warmed the man. He set down the bags to punch his code into the hidden keypad. Before his fingers touched the keypad, the door opened. The sun lit a fiery halo around a beautiful face.
He moved forward to his savior.
~ Fini ~