"There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."
- from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Clint did not deserve this level of harassment. Everyone forgot that he was a professional. It was like once he joined Fury's super-secret boyband everyone immediately assumed he couldn't tie his own shoelaces. It was insulting. He'd been doing this longer than anyone except Natasha.
Yes, technically, this was the 12th mission in a row where he'd jumped off of a building without confirmed backup. Yes, technically, this time he'd landed on Tony as he got out of the suit, breaking his fall and Tony's ankle. Yes, technically, no one had caught him 4 out of 12 times, which, technically, gave him a failure rate of 33.3% - something which, in the world of industry, according to Tony's yelling as he was loaded into an ambulance, would mean scrapping a project entirely.
Clint did not think any of those things required an intervention but his teammates apparently had other ideas. After the debrief, Clint had tried to leave only to find Steve blocking the exit.
"It's not a question of competence-" Steve said, again trying to bring up this thing that Clint did not want to talk about, at all.
"On that note," said Clint, cutting off the rest of Steve's reprimand, "I'm going out for a few days, won't have cell service, I'm sure you can handle whatever comes up, right? Great."
He maneuvered around Steve and out of the room before Steve could grab him. Clint did not miss the look of surprise on Steve's face, which, seriously, insulting. Clint was a damn secret agent, he could get past a measly little door block.
Back home, he wondered where exactly he would go. He could stay home and mope for a few days but he felt the buzz of trapped energy underneath his skin and knew he needed to work it out. Hopefully with vigilante justice. Where could he go enact vigilante justice where he wouldn't be around Steve's disappointed face or Tony's bitching or -
His phone buzzed in his pocket.
He removed it and unlocked the screen to find a text from Natasha. It contained no words, only a small bat emoji.
Clint grinned. Natasha was his favorite Russian creeper.
Gotham, it turned out, was exactly what Clint needed to work out some of his coworker-related anger issues. Bruce Wayne had been surprisingly open to the idea of having an Avenger crash his city for a few days. (Clint suspected he had caught Bruce while he was at Wayne Enterprises. The man had sounded very "Business Bruce".)
There were a few ground rules for visiting vigilantes, apparently.
1. Different costume. Purple was not on the approved list, which Clint thought was unfair, given Dick's bright green and red getup.
2. No going out and drawing attention as your "normal" self
3. Batman's the boss out on patrol
It felt good to fall into the simple rhythm of patrolling the huge city. Lately, all he'd been doing was helping with the big, world-peace-endangering missions that were the Avengers' usual fare. It was good, hard work, but it left plenty of downtime and, honestly, he often wondered just how much they were helping. In Gotham, it was easy to see how their actions helped, even in small ways.
There was the little old man who kissed Clint on the cheek when Clint dropped on his would-be mugger. The old man insisted on being walked home and chattered all the way, ending the walk with an: "it's so nice to see young people take an interest in public safety these days. Say hello to Robin for me! He usually walks me home but you are not a bad substitute."
Completely thrown by this, Clint mentioned it to Dick, who laughed for a good few minutes at Clint's bafflement.
"Yeah," Dick said, still grinning. "That's Mr. Kravitz. He works a few nights a week at the free clinic. I guess his schedule changed. He's lived here for almost 50 years and insists on taking his usual route, even though it's a bad neighborhood these days. Most people there know him and leave him alone, though."
Most nights he went out with Dick, because Clint was good, but Gotham was an impossible maze to newcomers, and Bruce was not a good tour guide. Dick, however, loved to show off - the city, new moves, his knowledge of mobsters' secret lives.
("It's like every soap opera you've ever seen," he told Clint, pointing out the separated-at-birth twins in different gangs who were sleeping with the same woman. "One night I came by when it was really quiet in the city. I thought they were setting up for something big, but, it turns out that one of the bosses had been spending too much time with a mistress and his wife was pissed, so he was at home and everyone was slacking off since the boss wasn't around.")
He jumped off random roofs every single night and never got bitched out for it once. He and Dick even managed to goad Bruce into a parkour roof race one quiet night, just as the sun was sneaking over the horizon. They thought their lighter armor would give them at least some advantage. Bruce beat them by such an embarassing margin that they refused to speak of it ever again.
Five days after he technically went AWOL, Clint returned to New York. He was feeling so magnanimous that he stopped in at a florist and bought the biggest, most ridiculous Iron Man Bouquet they had for sale. Tony was still on crutches and Clint figured he owed the man an apology.
Tony agreed that Clint owed him an apology and disagreed about the method he chose to deliver it with. Who knew Iron Man would be so jumpy? It was just a bouquet of flowers lowered from the ceiling in his workshop at 2:30am. It could've come crashing through a window attached to an arrow. Some people were so ungrateful.
Once Tony's heartrate had returned to normal, he yelled up at the ceiling, "You might as well just come in, Barton."
Clint, already poised to drag himself away, dropped instead, executing an abrupt twist in midair to keep from squishing the flowers. Tony snorted.
"Still throwing yourself off random objects, I see. How was Gotham?"
Clint sat and spun in one of Tony's ridiculously comfortable office chairs. "Man," he said, once he was properly dizzy, "I don't know why you were complaining about me jumping off buildings with no back up, have you ever gone out with Batman? That dude-"
Tony looked up, focusing on Clint. "Gone out with? Clint, do we need to have the shovel talk?"
"No, I already got it from Alfred, despite the fact - "
"Damn, he always gets to give the shovel talks."
Tony returned to what he was doing and ignored Clint. Clint resisted the urge to back out of the room going "you'll see! you'll ALL see!" like a humorously thwarted villain. But it was a pretty close thing.
Not long after Iron Man was back on his feet Batman joined them in New York. Poison Ivy had decided to try out the Avengers and Tony had insisted on calling Batman in for his expertise. Clint figured it was mostly an excuse to get Bruce to come visit.
They had all been relegated to the rooftops because the streets were impassibly full of plants that didn't seem to stop growing. Batman hadn't been much help, honestly. He seemed to find the whole thing pretty funny, and along with disappearing for an hour, spent most of his time calling out advice over the comms from his perch at the very top of Avengers Tower.
"I saw a coupon for weed killer, maybe I should go pick some up?"
Clint grinned, thinking of Steve and Bruce, who were somewhere trying to mix up some weed killer strong enough to work on the damn plants.
"Oh, I've also heard talking to plants is good for them," Batman said. "Maybe if Iron Man reads them poetry they'll decide to like him?"
One of the long, trailing vines took that as a cue to snatch Iron Man out of the air and fling him against a building. He crashed through the wall and disappeared from sight. They could still hear swearing on the comms so Clint wasn't too worried.
"Obviously not fans of poetry," Natasha said, from wherever she was. Clint hadn't had eyes on her for the last ten minutes. If she was snarking, though, she was fine. "I vote we either get Cap to sing them 'Star-Spangled Man with a Plan' or Thor to regale them with an epic tale from his youth."
"Indeed," Thor said, obviously amused, "I have just such a tale to hand as would inspire such magnificent beings to grant us their allegiance. For its proper telling I require three nights, a feast of boar hunted by my shieldbrothers and sisters, at least one barrel of mead aged a thousand years amongst the stars, a bonfire taller than a Jotunn kept burning through all three nights, and, of course, three maidens with hair as dark as night for the demonstrations."
Thor knocked the head off a plant that looked to Clint like a Piranha Plant from Mario Bros. It flew in an elegant arc and landed near Clint. He kicked it off the roof, automatically, still processing Thor's speech. It was the longest he could remember them being quiet over the comms since this whole Avenging business started.
"... can we do that? Please?" Iron Man was back in the air, flying circles around the vines still reaching for him. "I can definitely get most of those things in the next hour."
"Perhaps for expediency, we should get the captain to sing," Batman suggested. He'd disappeared from his perch.
"Oh no," said Steve, from whatever rooftop he and Bruce were mixing up their magic weed killer, "if Thor gets a three-night feast for his tale, I get a 20 woman chorus, fireworks, a motorcycle, and-" he spoke quickly to cut off Tony's immediate offer of all those things, "- a time machine to get us all back to the 40s so we can really get the full experience."
Clint thought it still sounded mostly doable and was about to tell Steve this when he noticed the Piranha Plant's head had come back and was cutting off all avenues of escape except for... damn. Tony was gonna bitch about this.
"This is Hawkeye. I've got incoming, need evac from the east side of this building in 30 seconds or a body bag in 45!"
"Drama queen, I'm getting there, I'm getting there."
Tony caught him by the ankle, which he probably thought was funny. Clint took advantage of his new vantage point to fire exploding arrows into the Piranha Plant's mouth.
"There, was it so hard to give decent warning?"
Tony dropped him off on a new rooftop where he found Nat on a beach chair, sunglasses on like she was tanning or taking a nap. She peeked at him over the glasses, raised an eyebrow. Clint glared at her. She reached behind her and pulled out a new quiver, passing it over once he nodded. He was almost out of arrows. It was surprisingly difficult to get plants to return the ones he'd fired at them. Besides, Natasha didn't like the missions where they were basically doing damage control until someone else solved the bigger problem.
The "bigger problem" in this instance was that no one could find Poison Ivy. Not that they had the resources to send someone looking. They were barely containing the plants to a five-block radius. Clint left Nat to her sunbathing and relocated himself to a sniper-friendly roof. Clint reached it just in time to see the set up to what was about to become his favorite Avenging moment ever.
Batman was running along a nearby roof, clearly aiming for a corner he could use as a springboard to get him to the next building over. Clint had seen him do the same thing in Gotham many times. Iron Man was flying below roof level, heading for the gap Batman was about to leap across. For one very short moment, Clint considered warning Tony. He decided against it just as Batman leaped and Iron Man cleared the corner. Tony screamed when Batman swooshed past, an inch from his faceplate. Tony had to execute a flailing midair twist to avoid hitting Bruce which crashed him through another building.
"Iron Man, report!" Steve barked, immediately in captain-mode. "Does anyone have eyes on Iron Man?"
Clint was laughing too hard to answer.
("I take it all back, Hawkeye, please continue jumping off buildings like a sane person. I think I had a couple of heart attacks."
This was not surprising, considering that Batman had spent the rest of the day either using Iron Man as an extra landing place or leaping so that they barely missed each other. Bruce apparently had a bigger troll streak than Captain America - but only where pranking Tony was involved.
"I had no idea you were so sensitive, Tony," Bruce said, calmly. He was leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, and Clint couldn't look at him or Tony without bursting into laughter again. He sat, head resting on the table, shoulders shaking as he tried, unsuccessfully, to stop laughing.
"My favorite was definitely when you used Tony as a stepping stone to leap between buildings," Natasha said, raising her mug of coffee in a toast. Her mug said "World's Okayest Detective". Bruce grinned.
They find out during the debrief that Batman's mysterious disappearance for about an hour during the fight had been him and Natasha going and catching Poison Ivy. After they'd locked her up, all they had to do was keep the plants contained until the sun set, at which point the plants had simply reverted to seed form. No one had noticed Natasha's absence. She was, unsuprisingly, smug about this.
They'd decided not to inform the team of Poison Ivy's capture. When asked to explain, Bruce had said, deadpan, "I believe the correct phrase is for the 'lols'."
Clint, because he's a professional, does not completely lose it at this. But it's a close thing.)