William Brandt took note of his surrounding—second storey of a traditional, shabby weapon storage in the middle of a jungle, Ethan bleeding profusely at the corner of the room, hand clutching at his bleeding stomach, Benji doing his best to tend the aforementioned wound, and Jane gripping her gun tightly, trying to aim the armed men outside the building through the narrow windows. Being an ex-analyst, his memory was always good, and he remembered perfectly that they only had two rounds of bullets left.
Yep, we’re officially screwed, he repeated to himself.
He flicked his glances towards the weapons on the wall. Despite being dubbed as a ‘weapon storage’, ihe shack was just a storage of hunting weapons abandoned by the local villagers. The ‘weapons’ in question were all traditional, consisting of sharp bamboos, bows and arrows. Definitely not a match for guns.
Benji’s voice broke the tense silence, voicing everyone’s thought. “Are we screwed?”
Brandt scoffed. Only Benji would phrase that obvious fact as a question.
Ethan, though—the optimistic, never-giving-up, choosing-to-climb-the-tallest-building-on-earth-before-failing-the-mission Ethan—shook his head. “No. We’re not.”
This same exchange had happened a few times.
Having enough of the feel-good lies this time, though, Brandt snapped, “Really, Ethan? We’re not screwed? Because we’re now in the middle of a nameless jungle in Kalimantan with no connection and weaponry except bows and arrows. We’re surrounded by at least a dozen armed men and five miles away from our extraction point, which is an open field, by the way, so we don’t have the option of sneaking away. We’ve just sent a message to the Headquarter that we finished the mission so they are not likely to be eager to look for us. Oh, and in case you didn’t realize, you are bleeding. We are quite screwed, in my opinion.”
"Eleven men, actually, less than a dozen…” Benji mumbled, then fell silent under Brandt’s glare. Jane decided to focus on the armed men, firing two bullets to no avail.
Ethan, on the other hand, opted to cough and pressed his wound, desperate to stop the flow of the blood.
Brandt cursed. They really had no choice—it was either dying, or… Brandt shook his head. No, Clint, he tried to tell himself, you’re not allowed to reveal anything. As the only direct ambassador between IMF and SHIELD, it was imperative that no one, except the head of IMF, knew his true identity. He was to pose as an IMF agent, only working for SHIELD when requested.
But then his mind went back to years ago, when he technically killed Ethan’s wife (he didn’t, but that didn’t change the fact that he was incompetent). That day, he’d decided that human’s life is more important than any order.
Nothing was going to change that.
And so he made up his mind.
“Well, we’re screwed,” he said as he half-sprinted towards the weapons on the wall, “unless…”
He trailed off, and he could feel everyone’s eyes were on him as he grabbed a bow and snatched some arrows. He quickly shouldered the bow. When he turned, Ethan’s eyes were wide, as if thinking Brandt had lost his mind under the stress.
Brandt didn’t blame him. He could imagine how ridiculous he might have looked in front of his team.
“Look, I know what you guys are thinking, and…” he trailed off again after seeing Benji’s and Jane’s equally perplexed expression and sighed, “Just wait, I’ll get us out of here.”
Brandt closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and exhaled.
Clint Barton opened his eyes, drew an arrow, shot the window’s glasses, and sprinted towards the window.
He has finally lost his mind was the first thing Benji thought during the whole situation.
He simply couldn’t believe what he saw—Brandt, the most pessimistic, realistic of them all, considered fighting against eleven armed men with bows and arrows? The men would’ve shot him before he could even draw an arrow! There was a joke at the tip of Benji's tongue, something along the lines with, ‘well, Brandt, this is really nice of you, not wanting us to die and all, but there’s this thing called Physics…’
But the words died in his throat when he saw Brandt closed and opened his eyes.
Something seemed to change. Brandt looked… different. Sure, his face didn’t change or anything, but there was something, the way his posture slightly shifted, the way his eyes pierced the room. It was like looking at a slightly altered version of a man he knew, except more dangerous.
And considering how dangerous the Brandt he knew could be, that was saying a lot.
Both Ethan and Jane seemed to think the same, too, because no one said anything. Not that they had the chance to—without warning, Brandt drew an arrow and shot one of the windows. From that makeshift gap, he jumped out of the building.
(The scary thing was? That was only Benji’s assumption, because what he actually perceived was the sound of wind—the one that people hear when something moves really, really fast—and suddenly, the glass of one of the windows broke into millions of different pieces.
When he blinked again, Brandt had gone.)
Clint held his bow tightly and grabbed the window pane with his free hand. Then, he swung up and placed himself neatly on top of the roof.
His eyes quickly scanned the trees around him—six men in sight, two on the trees—and without giving them any chance to maim him, he drew his arrow and shot all of them, two at a time. The last two on the tree couldn't even hear the low thuds that signalled their companion's deaths before getting shot between the eyes themselves. Piece of cake.
Definitely not worse than the situation I’m about to get myself into, he thought to himself, the displeased faces of Coulson and Fury immediately sprung into his mind, followed by Stark's condescending one.
A gunshot rang from behind him and his body instinctively jerked sideways. A bullet narrowly missed his left foot. A wrong, fatal move for the shooter—one bullet was all it took for Clint to trace the location of the shooter, and Clint’s narrowed eyes met wide-eyed ones before the latter closed, forever.
Seven down, four to go. Clint slid down the slanted roof as his eyes searched for any signs of the men. He found one running out of his hiding spot to tend to his dead ally; Clint drew another arrow, thought, this is for giving me a lot of troubles and aimed for his neck. The man screamed in shock before slumping down, and Clint calmly searched for the others—
The scream was definitely Jane’s. He quickly hung onto the edge of the roof and smashed the window, inwardly cursing to himself. He forgot to keep his eyes on the door, and the team was probably too in shock with his bow-arrows issue to do the same.
Another curse escaped his lips when he saw the situation—two men were lying unconscious on the floor, probably dead. Good news. But the rest was not—one bald guy was pointing a gun at Jane’s head, and another guy (with a Chinese word tattooed on his neck, Clint observed) pointed his at Benji’s. Ethan was unconscious.
“You are to drop—“ Tattoo Guy started, then stopped when he saw Clint holding onto a bow out of all things. He settled for, “your weapons.”
Clint—Brandt—looked at Benji. It’s okay. He turned to Jane, and mouthed, in the count of three.
Jane tilted her head slightly in acknowledgment.
One, he mouthed as Tattoo Guy half shouted, “I said drop your weapons!”
Two, Bald Guy waved his gun for emphasis, “or we’ll shoot!”
Everything seemed to happen at once:
Clint ducked, snatched a piece of the broken glass and threw it at Tattoo Guy, who became too surprised to pull the trigger when he drew an arrow and shot Bald Guy on his knee. Baldie screamed and Jane, seeing an opening, grabbed Tattoo’s arm and pulled to his back, snapping it. Clint saw this at the corner of his eyes and noted to give Jane way, way much more credit than they usually gave her.
But that wasn’t the only thing in his mind as he sprinted and jumped at Baldie. He put the man’s neck between his bow and his chest and—snap. Another second passed and he had already drawn his arrow, lifted his bow and shot Tattoo guy right on his neck, which was in between Jane’s arms.
Tattoo’s body slumped on the floor with a low thud.
The room went quiet. For a minute, there was only sound of panting.
Clint avoided everyone's eyes.
After another minute, as expected, Benji couldn't help commenting. “Brandt? How did you, how do you…”
“You’ve never told us you have… exceptional skills with bows,” Jane added.
“’Exceptional’? Those arrows defied the law of Physics!”
From the corner of his eyes, he could see Ethan had regained consciousness, maybe halfway through the whole fight with Baldie and Tattoo. Ethan just stared at him, more amused than surprised; nothing seemed to surprise that man anymore.
Clint chose to simply shrug. “Long story. Anyways, uh, extraction point.”
Benji’s eyes widened in realization, “Oh. Yeah. About that… I don’t think Ethan can make it. Not can’t make it as in, can’t make it alive, but more like, can’t make it walking for five miles through the jungle before bleeding to death.”
He didn’t ask, are we screwed? He instead asked, "Which is better than, you know. Right?"
Clint bit his lower lip. He could go on a roof and maybe made a call for extraction at this place, but considering the wilderness of the forest, it would take at least another two hours to find them. Not to mention the possibility that he wouldn't get a connection at all, and must find an open space first. Ethan would have been dead by then.
Unless, his brain added, and Clint hated his brain so much right now. It had been saying a lot of “unless” today, and all of them involved him revealing more and more of his Hawkeye identity.
Not that he had much of a choice…
He took out a phone. Not his IMF phone, but another, more advanced, device. He mentally (and grudgingly) thanked Stark for his brain; unlike the IMF phone, the SHIELD communication device actually got reception.
Clint snapped it open.
“Hello, Agent Clint Barton here.”
“Clint?” Coulson’s alarmed voice replied from the other end of the line. Of course; Coulson knew Clint was on a mission from IMF, and he was not allowed to make any contact with SHIELD for any reasons during missions.
No, Benji, we’re not screwed, he mentally answered Benji’s unvoiced question as he tried to explain his situation to Coulson.
Coulson’s replies sounded more and more agitated.