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When we became us

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Clint ignored the downpour, walking down the street and keeping his head level. People were dodging him as they ran for cover, some laughing as they passed; some walked by slower, taking cover under their umbrellas. None of that really mattered to Clint- it was just water. Clint stopped when he got in front of a building with bright neon signs and checked the address. He tapped the card against his leg then walked in.

The atmosphere was exactly what you would expect from a dive bar. It was a little dirty, the people a bit rougher, everything loud. Clint hated loud- it was harder to focus and harder yet to hear someone coming up behind you.

“Going to need to see some ID,” the bartender said the instant Clint sat down, his accent thick.

“Yeah yeah,” Clint replied, holding out his ID. “Twenty-four,” he muttered. Which was a goddamn lie- he was only twenty-one, but he had been using this fake ID for awhile now. Nate Smith- so boring, so generic. “Kronenbourg, thank you.” He paid up front, which may have been a little out of style but it was easier than trying to leave the bar in a hurry and still having a tab open. Annoyed the piss outta bartenders though.

Clint looked around the bar, thumbing at his drink. He wasn’t exactly fluent in French, but he knew more than enough to get by. Especially when it came to listening into people’s conversations to see what they were saying. He picked up a few times about ‘dumb American’... which was fair he supposed. Clint would never brag about being smart.

He looks like an easy one to take- fetch a good price.” Bingo- that was exactly who he was listening in for. Clint didn’t react in any way. He casually looked around the bar before he locked eyes on the man who had made the comment, giving him a brief smile. Clint left the bar and went to grab a few darts, setting his beer down so he could throw a few.

“And whats an American boy like you doing here?” the man asked.

“Just trying to find a good time,” Clint replied. He turned his body slightly and rose an eyebrow. “Last day in France- figured I’d try a local bar. Everywhere else seemed kinda boring.” He glanced down at his beer, noticed it had moved just a hair.

The look was almost predatory and Clint had to bite back his anger at it. “Boring?” the man asked. “You want to see a good time?”

“Not sure you can keep up,” Clint answered cockily. “Got a son or daughter?” he asked.

Now the look darkened to exactly what Clint was expecting. “Come with me.”

Clint abandoned his beer and settled the darts down The man was already heading towards the back. Clint wasn’t a huge fan of back alley hookups but why the hell not? What could go wrong?

Clint followed the man out then felt the man’s hands on him, pushing him back roughly against the wall. It was a messy and rough kiss, definitely not within the top ten. Clint groaned and leaned into it; hands were working under his shirt.

“Holy shit,” the man wheezed.

“Not expecting so many muscles?” Clint asked before he bit the man’s lip, giving it a tug.

That was more of an invitation for the man. His hands dropped back down, dropping into Clint’s pants. Clint rocked his hips forward. Clint pushed the man back, stepping with him, wanting to take more control. The man protested for a moment before Clint reached down, eliciting a moan.

There was a car backfire, the man looking down the alley. Clint sighed and reached back, pulling a pill from his pocket. He waited until the man looked before he slammed his hip into him, pressing close and forcing the pill into his mouth. Clint used one hand to pinch the man’s nose, the other covering his mouth. He angled his head back and away to avoid hands.

“Swallow,” Clint said in a bored tone. Thank god for long sleeves because this fucker has nails he thought. That would have been bad. “Swallow. I’ve got all night.” It didn’t take too long but Clint held out, making sure. Even if the man hadn’t swallowed, by now it should have dissolved just enough to become worrisome.

“Good boy.” Clint dropped his hand holding his nose. “So… you answer my questions… you live. But you have approximately fifteen minutes to make it to a hospital so let’s focus and make this snappy. You attempt to scream, I'll make sure you die in this back alley. We clear?”

The man nodded enthusiastically and Clint dropped his hand. “Please, I have-”

“Sh, sh, it’s okay,” Clint hushed. “Claudia Monte. Go.”

“I have children-”

“I have a gun,” Clint quipped. The man flinched back, eyes wider than before. “Claudia Monte.”

“Whatever you want, whoever paid you-”

“Tick tock- local hospital is a ten minute ride- you may even pass out in six,” Clint reminded calmly. “Claudia Monte.”

“She knew too much,” the man finally said. “She knew too much, she was going to tell S.H.I.E.L.D., fuck us all over. She needed taken out.”

“She was a mother of three,” Clint pointed out. “Just like you are a father to two.”

“We can pay you more,” the man said. “Is it S.H.I.E.L.D.? Defect and we can work out a deal.”

Clint tilted his head to the side. “You want me to abandon S.H.I.E.L.D. to work for… you?”

“For HYDRA, yes,” the man said.

Clint wanted to swear- he hadn’t been told this particular bit of information when he agreed to the hit. Clint had rules, and avoiding S.H.I.E.L.D., HYDRA, and AIM were all top three spots of that list, no particular order. He was just told the man killed Claudia, not why. And Clint- he just wanted to make sure he was tracking and killing the right guy. Now this was a game changer that Clint didn’t know how to deal with.

“Huh- that’s news,” Clint said. He dropped his hands and took a step back. “You can go.”

“I can… go?” the man asked hesitantly.

“Yeah- just needed confirmation. Go on. Down the alley,” Clint said, leaning against the door.

Clint almost felt bad… almost. The man took two steps back before he turned and ran. Clint leaned down and slid out his bow and a single arrow. He took a deep breath, lined up- the sound of the man hitting the ground was satisfying. Clint strolled down the alley and knelt down, putting a knee on the man’s back, giving a swift tug to dislodge the arrow from the back of his neck. He waited until the man stilled, waited more, then got up and walked back down the alley, grabbing a bag to shove his bow and arrow in. He ruffled his hair before he turned a corner, disappearing into the crowds.

Clint pulled out a pill from his pocket and tossed it in the air, catching it on his tongue before he swallowed it. Who knew caffeine pills could be so handy?

-----

Clint lost count on what shower number he was on- he was pretty sure this was the fourth. He scrubbed his body again and ducked his head under the water. He was tired but he couldn’t sleep- when he tried, all he saw was the man’s pleading eyes. As much as the guy deserved to die, Clint still didn’t enjoy it.

Clint didn’t like who he had become. He could still remember being seven, parents dead and thinking his life would actually get better. He wanted to be a pilot, an astronaut, maybe even a policeman. Even when he was bounced around from one foster home to another, one orphanage to another, Clint still thought he had hope. When him and Barney ran away and joined the circus he held onto hope. He thought he could make something of himself. Sure, his hearing was shit, but he had his eyes and they were sharp.

And then he had to fuck it all up. He was sixteen when he found out what the circus was doing; a front of organized crime. Before Clint could do anything drastic, they tried to take him out, left him for dead. When found alive, he had a series of crimes falsely pegged against him. He spent two years in juvie- released at eighteen with nothing. He was angry, but he kept it under the surface as much as he could.

And now? Now he was in France, taking on jobs as they came. Threaten people? Sure. Take back stolen goods? Why not. Take down people who the government didn’t seem to want to fuck with? Hell yeah- where do you sign up? He was labeled as a ‘bad guy’ back home, so why not show them exactly how bad he could be? That is if they could catch him.

He got out of the shower and toweled off. He looked at the three scars on his stomach, the constant reminder of the last betrayal, and he knew he had something worth fighting for. Because when he finally made it back stateside, when he felt he was ready- he was going to take on the people who left him for dead. He’d pick them up, one by one, hoping to build the fear. He wasn’t flashy but he liked the dramatics behind it. It was fitting.

Clint padded out to the main living quarters of his hotel room, toweling off his hair still. He grabbed a pair of sweats and tugged them over his hips. Tomorrow he was taking the train to Amsterdam. He’d try to find a new job there- maybe take a week or two to let the dust settle first. He flopped down on the bed and put a hand over his eyes. And then he saw the eyes again and groaned.

“Fuck,” Clint breathed.

He rolled onto his stomach and pulled out his blue bag, unzipping it. He pulled out his bow and ran his fingers over the smooth portions, feeling himself calming almost instantly. He rolled back to his back and pulled on the tension string, running his wrapped thumb along the string. It was old school- paleolithic as all get out, but the muscle memory involved was what drew him in. And there was some poetic justice somewhere in there when he could finally kill the guy who trained him on how to shoot the damn thing. At least that's what he hoped- if not, this whole becoming an assassin business was pretty much all for nothing.