Sometime, being deaf sucked. His teachers had automatically labeled him as stupid. Barney was an insupportable mother hen because, once, a car he hadn't heard coming, practically hit him. His brother always wanted to hold his hand outside like he was a dumb lost baby duck. Like other children needed any other reason to bully him a bit more. And there was his father's drunk attempts to correct him. Well. Like previously stated, sometime, being deaf sucked.
Sometime, Clint didn't mind.
It was not that Clint wasn't a people person (at seven, he yet had to have a traditional social interaction before being able to answer that). Until now, all the people he met were not a Clint-person. Clint was happy to stay out of their range, he was, after all, the best hide and hide player ever. He hid from Barney, his drunk father, social workers and ten years old bullies. Because he was deaf, Clint had the best hiding places. The hydroelectric dam had been a great one. He knew the sound of the dam was atrocious for anyone else but the turbine's frequency were far outside the range he could hear. Not that he could hear a wide range of sound anyway, but still. Sadly the dam was quite crowded these days. A bunch of electrician had invaded his nest.
He had to find a new one.
Most interesting places were already claimed by drug dealers or street kids. That's why he chose the abandoned Mei's house. People said it was haunted. Kids love to tell the story of the man that killed his wife and ate her rests. Cannibalism and ghost stories, the perfect horror story material. All were talking about the weird sounds that escaped the walls at night and the abominable screams that made all the direct neighbour left. Seven years old Clint Barton needed more than suspicious screams he couldn't heard to be afraid. He decided to make the haunted house his new nest anyway.
Facing Archibald Wei in all his dead glory standing in front of him made him reconsider his calculations.
Archibald's face was expressionless, like he was sleeping (He is not). He eyelids were closed but Clint doubt they were still eyes behind them. His muscles were tensed, forming awkward angles (Run, little bird, run). There were two large splotches of dried blood on his chest and belly, the blood having run sideways over his ribs, the left side of his body soaked in red. His lips were cut in multiple places and bluish. Clint saw them moving, too surprised to really catch anything.
Like he always did when he was stressed, he babbled. Barney told him it was because he couldn't hear the shit he was vomiting. Clint couldn't remember what he told to the corpse. A liberal amount of 'sorry sir" was used as well as "don't hit me" and maybe " I didn't know this nest was yours". But the body didn't move, neither did he tried to talk again. Clint didn't know how he came from " I am going to leave, please let me go, I wouldn't say anything. Let me go" to " Please, can I finish my math homework before leaving ?". OK Clint knew how. It was because it was Thursday and Thursday was payday, payday meant pubday also named father hitting party day.
Clint's father didn't use a wide vocabulary to refer his last child : boy, freak, monster. Maybe Clint had started to believed it a tiny little bit. Maybe, maybe, freaks could be friends or tolerated each others ? At this point, Clint was craving for human company. Well, not human but non threatening company. That's how Clint ended to do his math exercises on the bloody rug of the local zombie. The zombie let Clint alone and did his own zombie things across the house.
Clint was struggling with question 1-b. It had been half an hour and he was still there (question 1-a was just drawing the asked figure). Surely, it couldn't hurt to ask...
'sir ? Can you help me with geometry ? Please ?"
The corpse fell on the grown like the dead object he should have been and someone emerged from the back of the zombie. Not a zombie, possessed corpse though Clint. The possesser was a petite redhead woman. Why a young and healthy woman like her felt the need to possess an old smelly man was above Clint's comprehension. Not that Clint had already spent much time thinking about possessing dead bodies. The woman asked.
"What the fuck, kid ?"
Clint was not very good at lips reading. When Barney was in good mood he would help him to catch new words, essentially cursed words. Fuck was easy. Clint was already very good at reading insults. Not that it helped him at school. But sometime, it could help to know who his father would hit next. Bitch, freak, useless, slut, ungrateful little shits.
The redhead was speaking again. But Clint couldn't catch anything useful.
" I don't hear you. I am dumb-deaf."
He was not sure which one referred to : not hearing. His family was using them indifferently but he knew the two words had different meanings.
The woman sat by his side and took his own pen. She wrote "What do you want, kid ?" and read the sentence out loud. Twice. She was speaking more slowly but she wasn't over-articulating. He tried to remember the movement of her lips. She helped him with his homework, always alternating writing and reading. At the end of the night, he asked : can I come back tomorrow ?
"Yes" She wrote. "Yes. Yes." she told.
He came back. Most of the time he was just hanging around in the abandoned house. Sometime, she was possessing old Wei's corpse, sometime not. He didn't ask. It was impolite to ask grown up to justify themselves. She helped him again with his school works. Twice. By the end of the first week, he was brave enough to ask her name.
She helped him to pronounced it. New words were always difficult. She spent time to correct him. She let him touch her throat to understand how to make the sounds right. It wasn't an easy task. She asked him to call her Natasha. The sounds were easier for him. He had known a Natasha before the loss of his earing. He tried to protest, saying he wanted to pronounce her real name. She told him, both were English equivalent of the Russian name. Neither was her real name. Real names didn't mean anything. Chosen names did.
Clint asked Natasha to choose a name for him. She named him after a bird. Hawkeye.
Natasha was a demon, Clint learned latter. Demons were from another realm and could be summoned by magicians like Wei was or by mere mortals with death wishes. Demons couldn't practice magic for themselves like humans could. Instead, they used humans stupid enough to think they could control them. Fools thinking they could win a contract negotiated by a demon.
"I will be gone in two weeks." Announced Natasha.
" Why ?"
"Because it is the deal I had with Archibald. I granted his wish and I could use his dead body until the next blood moon."
"Will I see you again ?"
"But what if I wanted to ? Isn't there something I could do ?"
And the demon let her be weaken by the lonely child with a heart of gold. He learnt about demons and contracts and invocations. She taught him how to summoned her. They were terrible ways to cast demoniac invocations and human sacrifice was not even in the top ten worst. But there was a way. Blood freely given from the innocent. Innocent had a lot of meanings but in dark magics, four senses counted : never lied, never loved, never had sex, never killed. Mind, heart, body, soul. Clint had never done any of them but Natasha told him that until one of these four remained intact, he could contact her. They worked hard during her remaining two weeks. Then she disappeared but she had shown him Archibald's books to help him to continue by himself.
That's how Clint Barton became, at seven and half years old, the youngest human to have ever summoned a level seven demon. He may have cried a little. Natasha had never been more proud since the day she ended Mayas all by herself (what a great time not to be alive). It was the first hug he received from someone who was not his mother. He was the first hug Natasha could remember at all.
If Clint tried to always speak the truth, it was in Natasha's nature to lie. She hadn't told him that, for him to be able to cast her again (and not another random demon), she must grant one of his wish. She asked him for the first time about his home and family. He told her the hits, the screams he couldn't heard but made Barney mad, the cigarette's burns, his mother's tears, the wallpaper that smell like alcohol and smoke, his mother's recent hospitalisation (stairs fall).
He said : "I wish he could never hurt her again". When he couldn't hear her, she said : "wish granted".
The same night, while he drove her back home, Mr Barton crashed him and his wife in a tree.
As far as he was settled in his new foster home, Clint summoned Natasha.
"Did I killed her ?"
"Your father did."
"But was it because of my wish ?"
"You tricked me."
"Yes. Are you mad ?"
Maybe it was a weird though for a little kid to wish his own mother's death. But he really didn't want to see her beaten anymore, beaten to protect him. He hoped she was somewhere nice. Maybe somewhere with beautiful flowers like she wore on her summer dresses. Like the roses Barney and him stole to flourished her grave. He didn't dare to ask Natasha if heaven existed. But he asked if his father will pay for his sins. If hell existed and if he will ever regret every scratch he made on her white skin.
"Then, I am not mad. I am just sad because I lost one of the four keys. I will try to be more cautioned with my three remaining gifts. I already lost my mother, I don't want to loose my best friend."
What the fuck, kid. Natasha didn't told him. But she taught him to lips read, and latter to sign. She helped him to keep up with his education when he followed Barney and joined the circus. She taught him hand to hand combat and knives while he learned to shoot with Trickshot. If Barney was family, Natasha was his life. Clint swore to always tell the truth and was afraid anyone asked him about Nat. But no one asked. He needed time to understand no one cared.
Barney betrayed him. The child that once promised to never kill became an assassin. Natasha thought it was hilarious. He was one of the deadliest merc of his time and he summoned demon for a tea parties.
Most of demon summoners did it to assassinate their enemy. For revenge, power, money. Sometime they asked for sex but the causes remained the same. But there was this tiny child that asked for a friend.
Like all humans, he had to pay for his wish : never sleep with someone, never love, never lie. Love was the easiest. Assassination was a busy and lonely career. Clint told Nat she was the only love he needed anyway.
When he was older, Clint asked Natasha about the sex clause. Clint Francis Barton received The Talk from a demon. More than that, the demon gave him all the sexual education an teenager could only dream. She learnt him to seduce, to charm. Clint had always knew Natasha was pretty. Like Mom, like flowers, like an arrow in the bulleye. Growing up, he started to pay attention to how men sometimes looked at women, on rare occasion, men. He saw how Barney was staring at the fortune teller's daughter, how the swordsman looked the beard lady. He learnt lust. It took him time to understand
and apply the concept to Natasha. He had always been the only one to see her. Most of the time, he needed to see this specific light in someone's eyes to understand someone was commonly attractive.
Natasha told him about asexuality, and demisexuality. At first, Clint didn't understand the need to label his sexual and romantic attraction as he knew he couldn't either love or have sex. But sometime, when he was lost, when Natasha was absent, when his world was turned upside down, it helped to have words to describe himself. Asexual Aromantic. Asexual Panromantic. Demisexual homoromantic.
He asked Natasha which sexual acts would forbid him to see her again. Was it penetrative sex, oral sex, any contact with genitals ? Being naked in front of someone ? Was it about intend ? Did sexual assault counted ? What about kisses ? Masturbation ? He remember she used the term shity misogynistic heteronormativity. She told her the humans fixed the rules. Magicians from the Early Ages decided how the things should be. In fact, demons couldn't care less of human definition of innocence or virginity. Virginity is a social construct, Natasha had taught him early in her sex ed exposé. But Magicians believed in this social construct, and Magic forged her laws for humans according to their unconscious desires. Mind, Body, Heart and Soul purity. Not that such things existed but old beliefs of a few white old auto proclaimed wise magicians made them a Midgardian reality. That's why Clint hadn't had sex. He tried kissing once but he thought the whole thing was overrated. Who would kiss when you could do a sparring match with a demon or braid her hair while she told him the stories of the Earth's bloodiest massacres ?
Not telling lies was something else. But it became easier. They had this game. He picked up a card from the deck, and Nat would use her best interrogation's techniques to extract the information for him. He learned that always telling the truth was not telling what he had in mind. The kid who couldn't got "Natalia" sounded right became a genius at minded games. He could say something and make everyone understand the opposite. Everything was in intend. He practiced this ability like he used to dedicated to archery. He could modulate his voice, make silents sing. He gained a silver tongue while always speaking the bare truth.
Then SHIELD happened. He negotiated to never go undercover, his speaking skills having their limits. No one understood why. It was not like he could tell : I can't lie because it means I could lost my demon best friend. He decided it was more safe to play dumb. Only being the cocky guy who could shot stuff. Undereducated carnies freak didn't do undercover, did they ? But all SHIELD agents were offered courses to widen their skills set. He chose hand to hand combat, interrogation techniques, flying, wars arts. All of his handlers tried to push him to go against his promise to Tasha. He was reassigned often. Until Phil Coulson. He never pushed. Always asked him his inputs on every decision. Even the slightest. Bureaucratic nerd. If he was truly honest with himsel, he was very found of Agent Coulson. Badass, awkward Coulson with his perfect suit and deadpanned dry humour.
It was nice to know someone had his back. Natasha will always have his back, but she needed to be summoned, she couldn't protect him like a SHIELD team could. Like Coulson did.
Coulson always let him babbles over the coms during missions. He looked at him , expressionless, but he could saw humor in is eyes. Like he was seeing a cute over excited puppy. He recognised this light, Natasha always had this smile when he babbled. Why one of the most badass super spy ever and the most terrific demon from hell though his stupid babbling was entertaining was above his comprehension. You know what they said: Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Coulson had a very pretty mouth.
"Would you like to grab a coffee with me, Specialist ? As hum... As a date ?" Coulson's ears were in an interesting shade of red. He was handing him form TS-42-B, sexual harassment and abuse of power form. Clint saw it was prefilled. Coulson, you bureaucratic nerd.
"Would you like to ?"
Never lie, never love, never sleep with anyone.
You should never lie.
The following morning, he accepted a one year undercover alone mission in Russia.
Lying became easier than breathing.
Natasha insulted him but he told her he couldn't fell in love neither should he have sex. He promised her that his boyish crush on his handler would be easily forgotten. He told her he didn't need anyone in his life but her.
When he came back, things with Coulson were not as awkward as they could have. They were professionals. Half a year after his return, Coulson asked him if he would like to grab a beer. As a friend. Clint said yes. As their friendship grew stronger, he had to reminded himself he had made the good choice. What was a spy that couldn't lie ? What was a lover that couldn't have sex, that couldn't make love (make love, stupid crazy sex-centered society) ? Nothing. Worthless. Freak. But freak could be friends with freaks and Clint will always have Natasha.
Wasn't he aware that he also had Phil, Bobbie, Maria, Steve, Janet, Tony and Bruce.
Steve, Janet, Tony and Bruce. His fellow Avengers. Phil was so proud. He knew, because he had long ago learned to decipher that sparkles in Natasha's gaze.
You should never love.
Then fucking Hydra decided it was a good idea to mess with the good Captain like the good old times.
Clint disappeared for three weeks.
Tony stopped to sleep more than thirty minutes a day. Hulk never calm down for the whole time. Janet was forbidden to approach baby agents but she still made five senior agents cryed this week alone. Steve had broke more things in the training room than Hulk that time he Hulk out after a dubious prank from Tony. Jasper Sitwell was responsible of the Mission that lost Hawkeye. Phil didn't know what Maria told him, but Jasper was still shaking.
Phil and Nick worked until exhaustion but found the place were they kept him. Avengers destroyed the base and burned it to the ground. Baby agents stop sleeping for weeks after seeing the smile on Maria's lips. No one was allowed to touch their bird.
Clint, still in coma, had a private hospital room in the tower. A purple hospital room. Bruce growl when the medical staff tried to tell him the was not that kind of doctor.
Nick explained himself to the team what they found in the Hydra's labs. The base was an ancient center of human experiment. They had tried to reproduce on Clint a project named the Winter Soldier. A project made to break someone's mind and body in an enhanced reprogrammed assassin. Only one subject had survived since 1945 but it escaped his brainwashing and had killed himself ten years ago. When Steve saw the file, his face darken more than ever. All the details of the conditioning were dully written.
His body recovered inhumanly fast. Super serum had his benefits. Doctors were more afraid for his mind. Null could know if Clint's mind could have survived.
Janet, Phil, Tony and Steve were playing pokers on Clint's bed. Janet had an indecent luck but no one had yet managed to spot her cheating. Tony was a born lie teller. No one thought Captain America could lie at all and Phil had a legendary poker face. Steve was slightly winning when Clint began to move. He slowly opened his eyes and assessed his environment. His tensed body relaxed when he saw he was home.
"Report, Specialist. Do you know where you are, Agent ?" asked Phil with his most professional voice. The familiarity of it seemed to help Clint to settled down.
"Hospital. Tower. Home" Barton's voice was groggy but coherent.
"What do you remember, Specialist ?" asked again Coulson in full Agent Agent mode.
"Mission. Hydra... Sitwell..."
Tony cut Barton's speaking tentatives. " You scared the shit out of us, birdbrain. Never do that again. White hair is not a good look on my perfect face."
"Aaah. I know you loved me," answered Barton automatically.
Then he froze.
" You loved me. You. Love. Me." Barton looked positively terrified.
"Yes, we do." Yes, I do. Answered Coulson quietly.
" How could you ? What have I done ?" The pure betrayal in Barton's tone was heartbreaking and he became more and more agitated. " Hydra... They... They raped me. What have I done. You love me. Natasha ! Natasha ! Not her. Please. Not Natasha! They raped me. Natasha. I love you. What have I done ?"He escaped his bed and tried to walk only to fell on the ground miserably. His panic grew while he became less and less coherent.
" Please, Clint. You are hurting yourself. You are not healed yet. You are bleeding. Let me help you," tried Steve with his softest voice.
"I am bleeding. Blood.... Blood. Natasha ! By the blood freely given of an innocent child..." he became to recite. His fingers brushed his reopened wounds without a flinch and tried to draw a pentacle on the ground with the blood. He was crying. His body was shaking uncontrollably. Doctors sedated him.
Every time he regained consciousness, the story repeated itself. Clint seemed to recognized his environment but not to care.
He tried to escape the doctors attention to re opened his wound and draw the same pentacle on every surface. They had to cuffed him to bed. Even the fluffy purple vibranium handcuffs Janet had customized didn't made Clint smile. He looked at them, quiet for a moment, them came back to screaming. He called Natasha's name again and again. Until his voice broke or until crashing in one of his friend's embrace crying uncontrollably and proclaiming he loved them.
When Clint had proclaim his love and friendship to Tony, the genius had disappeared for two days with Pepper in his private quarter to surmount the emotional mess their team had became. Pepper had exceptionally authorize Tony to participate to their girl's monthly spa cure. Jarvis kept the pictures like the most hidden secret of Midgard. Janet Van Dyne and Maria Hills painting each other's nails discussing asphyxiation techniques totally deserved it.
It was the first time, for Clint too. The first time he told his love to someone who was not Natasha. The first time he admitted to himself, he loved again, he was not this lonely child a demon had adopted. He had family, friends. Natasha have known for years. But chose not to tell him. Let him discover it by himself. Her baby bird who though he could stop to love. Like he could. He had needed one day to welcome a demon in his heart, how could he have though he could not love. Hell, he still loved Barney.
But the wise Natasha hadn't see that coming. Someone assaulted his bird and stole him to her. She could never see him again. Last Clint's key of innocence was lost. And after Clint's torture, Natasha's vanishing was the last hit to his fragile heart. How could he survive in the whole wide terrific world without her?
After one week without a hint of amelioration, Avengers were at their worst. And SHIELD's top agents, well, it was classified.
Nick Fury approached Phil Coulson office with a heavy package in his coat.
"Cheese, you remember that time you saved my life ?"
"Which one, Marcus ?"
"Exactly. Consider my debt paid."
Magical ritual and invocations for dummies volume one was one Coulson's desk.
You weren't at the head of a worldwide spy organization without knowing about Magic. If SHIELD wouldn't have survived if Fury still had his two eyes, no one needed to know.
"By the blood freely given of an innocent child". It was not difficult for Coulson to find the incantation Barton had used. And it was easy to connect the incantation with the scars that decorated Clint's arms. They were thousand of them, some cuts were incredibly old. Barton should have started as a mere child. Coulson had never asked about them. He thought Barton had stopped with SHIELD. He had just learned to hide them better. Barton's attitude took a whole new sense. Phil used the same incantation Clint once used to summon a level seven demon. A level seven Agent for a level seven demon.
An incredibly awesome man fully dressed in black emerged from the incantation's circle. He covered Phil's body with his warn one and started lascivious moves.
" You must be very brave to summon a demon, human. What can I do to fulfill your desires, Master." His skilled hands were already attacking the button of his shirt. His breath was hot in his neck. The demon's face changed slowly. Bucky Barnes. Captain America. Oh gosh. Steve.
"Go away." Told Phil at the same time the demon said " I could be whoever you need me to be." His face shifted again to take Clint's traits. Phil's breath was hard. " Not him, please." Phil was not sure it was a plaint or a moan , but the demon seemed to have mercy. His face came back to Bucky Barnes.
A lust demon looking like a Howling Commando. Wonderful. Coulson's intern nerd was mortified.
"If you don't want sex, is it blood that you want, doll ? Do you want to make your enemies suffer in front of your eyes ?"
"No," answered Coulson. Only Clint could have befriended a demon. Only him.
"You lie." The demon's intense gaze was on him. Never blinking. He licked his lips sinfully. "I can taste your hate, mortal."
"I want revenge but I want it by my hand. I wouldn't want a demon to take what is mine."
" Humm. I like you, mortal. Are you sure I can't make you change your mind on my first proposition." More than Steve Roger, Phil had always had a crush on Bucky Barnes. The loyal friend behind the superhero. The sniper with a heart of gold. The old charms and cocky smirk. The blond messy hair and gorgeous blue eyes.
'Stop," asked again Coulson. His ears were red and he knew Barnes could read his mind as well as his tensed body.
"OK. What do you want from me, sir ?" The tone was so close to Barton's that Coulson wanted to punch him.
"I want you to tell me the story of a child named Clint and a demon named Natasha. I want you to explain to me all the ways I could use to reunite them."
The demon was a fine negotiator. But in magic, a truly selfless wish was one of the most powerful thing in the word. More than pseudo innocence, more than blood, more than true love kiss and other fairytale. Like any demon, this one had his own interest at heart. He asked Phil his revenge against Hydra. Phil gave it to him not without reluctance but he valued more his friend's (love's) sanity than any machist macho desire to avenge him.
Human and demons were not made to mix. Clint had lost Natasha and he could never see her again, but this demon had never played by the rules. He thought first about transforming Clint into a demon. Natalia would be thrilled to have her baby bird at her side for eternity. And the demon could use another friend in the afterworld. But this plan was, even for him, basically impossible. The other way around, transforming Natalia to a bare human should have been as much as impossible. But the demon also had something who was supposed to be impossible. Two selfless wishes by two selfless souls.
I wish he could never hurt her again.
I wish my friend could be reunited with his demon best friend.
He granted Phil Coulson's wish.
Around the world, all Hydra agents throats were cut at the same time. Their blood nourishing Earth to fulfill the wish of the man who loved the boy who loved a demon.
In the tower's infirmary, two persons appeared in Clint's room. One of them has blood red hair.
'Natasha !' 'Come here, kiddo.'
The good old Captain, lost, looked the two best friends hug. He couldn't stare at them too long, shy in front of the intimacy these two shared. He tried to distract himself by looking at the second person in the room.
"Bucky ? What the hell ?"
"I came back for you, punk. Without you, Hell is overrated."