He had lived his life in the shadows. Everything was in shades of grey - the bricks of an orphanage, the fletching of an arrow, the shadows he lurked in, the legality he lived in. He was born in grey, he lived in grey, and he would die in grey.
He didn’t even notice when color began to bleed in on the edges.
It was dark, a quarter moon the only source of illumination for a dark alley in Bristol. He saw the gleam of a pistol, the brilliance of muzzle flash, and the dull shine of men’s dress shoes clicking evenly on the pavement as they advanced in his direction. Clint lay, breathing around the pain and exhaustion, cracking jokes about the bullet hole through his calf, and trying not to cry at the relief that he didn't have to keep running. That they had finally caught him, and he could stop now.
The man’s hand was pale. Clint's blood was a shiny, sticky, dark stain on the cloth of his pants. When he met the man’s eyes, he saw intelligence and kindness. It was only when he was hauled to his feet and pulled into the light spilling from a pub that he realized he had also seen blue.
He saw blue and purple and then red. Blue eyes and blue pens and blue ties. Purple uniforms and purple bows and purple bed sheets. Red hair and red blood and red ink in a ledger.
Then all he saw was blue. But not blue like Phil's eyes. Not blue like the sky. No, this was blue like ice, like fire, like drowning.
Everything was blue until suddenly it wasn't. Until Nat's face was swimming in front of him, but her hair was grey and not red, never red. Not anymore.
Until his world was greyscale again, and Clint was thrown abruptly back into the shadows blue eyes had once dragged him out of.
There is grey on his hands. Smudges and smears and stains of grey. He stares at them as Fury drones on about the WSC and posturing and precautions. He rubs one thumb over a liquid stain and it smears across the palm of his hand, a dark streak of grey.
The shouts of his teammates pull his attention up, and he sees the dull shine of men's dress shoes stepping unevenly on the carpet as they limp into the room, the end of a cane beside them. His head snaps up and Clint sees a silver cane and grey scrubs and blue eyes. And Tony is red and Steve is blue and Nat's hair is red and his hands are red and his uniform is purple.
And Phil's eyes are blue.