The life as a carnie wasn’t an easy life. You’re always on the road, relationships are almost impossible if you don’t want to have one with your co-workers, and it’s really, really hard work. You’re the star of the show? That doesn’t prevent you from having to do chores, to feed animals, to build up the big top, to shovel shit and all that.
But Clint loved it. He really loved it. Not only because the circus literally saved his life but also because he loved the people. Carson was a harsh, tough man but he was fair to his people and his wife was like the mom he always wanted. They took him and his brother in when they were desperate, they gave them a home, they gave them a goal in life and Clint learned to use the bow and got a place in the show.
Yes, Clint loved the circus life. And Barney hated it. He hated that his younger brother became one of the stars of the circus and he had to do the donkeywork. He hated that they earned peanuts for shitloads of work and the most he hated was that the circus guys hated him. Most of them were freaks and assholes, only Jacques and Buck were okay, mostly because they were like him.
Jacques Duquesne, also known as Swordsman, and Buck Chisholm, Trick Shot, were as greedy as Barney and they had their secondary business no one knew about. Wherever they were, whenever they would switch states, they robbed banks or jewelers and lined their own pockets. It was a profitable business and they got along but Jacques and Buck wanted more, way more, but they couldn’t do the job without a fourth man. And after long and heated discussions they decided to ask Clint. They were pretty sure that he would help his brother and the two guys who taught him to shoot and to fight.
Clint reluctantly agreed. He wasn’t happy, but Barney had said he wanted to leave the circus and he needed some capital to start a new life.
“Why do you want to leave the circus? They accepted us here and…”
“They accepted you, little brother, because you’re the talented golden child. And they let me stay because I’m your brother,” Barney said bitterly. “You’re one of the main acts and I sell hot dogs.”
“But… but… what about me?”
“Clint, you can stay if you want,” Barney shrugged. “You have a life here.”
Clint nodded and Barney smirked.
They did it a week later. At first the bank robbery was a cake walk, perfectly planned and everything went according to plan but then there was a guy in the bank who wanted to play hero and Barney just shot him. He could’ve injured him, but he killed him without missing a beat. Clint was shocked to the core and for a long moment he was literally stunned, couldn’t move and only Buck’s fast reflexes prevented him from getting shot by one of the arriving cops. But they lost their booty on the run. They got almost killed for nothing.
“You goddamn asshole!! You ruined everything! I wanted to start a new life with the money!” Barney yelled at Clint when they were back in their trailer that evening.
“You… you killed that man,” Clint said, still shocked. His brother just killed a man in cold blood.
“He should’ve stayed on the ground,” Barney said coldly and Clint made a step back.
“I’m outta here,” he said and turned around and wanted to leave, but Barney grabbed his shoulder.
“No, you’re not,” he hissed, his face taut with anger. And before Clint could react Barney punched him in the face. He stumbled back and Barney followed him, punched him again and again until he fell to the ground. “I’m gonna leave this fuckign freakshow with my share!” he snapped and went to the door.
Clint was silly from the blows and it took some time for him to get up again. He stumbled to the door, too, and opened it and saw Barney on his way to the Red Wagon, the wagon where Carson had the safe with the circus’ money.
“Barney!” he called after his brother, “Barney, stop!”
And Barney stopped, he turned around and saw Clint shouting the camp down. Lights went on in the trailers. He whirled around and came back, murder in his glance.
“Shut up! Shut up, you freak, shut the fuck up!” he pressed through his teeth and before Clint could react Barney grabbed the switchblade he always had in his pocket and stabbed him in his stomach.
Clint stared at him disbelievingly for a few moments before the pain hit him. He stared at his stomach and the knife, at the blood on his hand and his brother’s face, shocked for a second, before he turned away and ran to the Red Wagon. Clint fell to one knee, groaned in pain. The blood ran out of his body and it hurt, it hurt so much. He groaned again when his knees gave in and he fell onto his side.
“Barney!” he moaned and wrapped both hands around the handle of the knife, still sticking in his stomach. “Ba---Barney,” he whispered, slowly losing consciousness. “Please…”