It starts because somebody orders a hit on the Amazing Hawkeye.
Which isn’t unusual: somebody wanting to kill Hawkeye is a regular Tuesday at SHIELD and is treated with the same amount of scorn as the mystery meat in the cafeteria. But this is a Wednesday and there’s a hitch, as Maria explains when she brings Strike Team Delta in for a briefing.
“Emphasis here,” she says, “is on the Amazing and not Hawkeye.”
“Hey!” Clint looks up from where he’s juggling sugar cubes and tossing them one by one into his coffee. “I’m pretty damn amazing. You can ask Natasha. She’ll back me up.”
Wordlessly, Maria turns to his partner. Natasha only lifts her eyebrow a quarter of an inch.
“Anyway,” Maria says, clearing her throat, “here is the Amazing Hawkeye in question.”
She hits a button on her tablet and the screen fills with a picture of a young woman, dark-haired and sneering at the camera even though these are clearly surveillance photos. They look like they’re taken in some kind of campground, as there are striped tents around and that’s definitely a camel. But the weirdest part of all is that she’s wearing some kind of spangly purple unitard with a hip cut-out and carrying a bow and arrow. She can’t be more than sixteen or seventeen.
“Oh,” Clint says and Natasha swivels slightly at the conference table to look at her partner of three years because that’s a new tone. “That Amazing Hawkeye.”
Which is how Natasha discovers that the origin of her partner’s strange handle does not come from him being an Iowa-native, but—of all things—a circus.
“Normally not our jurisdiction,” Maria says after Natasha’s laughter has died down and Clint has retreated to sulking into his over-sugared coffee, “but the big man figured we owe it to Hawkeye to protect his namesake. Somebody’s ordered a hit on this girl, and our job is to neutralize the threat.”
“Why?” Natasha says, sitting up. She picks up her tablet. The dossier on the girl isn’t as full as usual since she’s not one of their political targets they’ve been gathering dirt on for years, but there are still plenty of details. She was right about the age, ran away from home, took archery lessons as a child, rich background, father was—“We’re dealing with the mob?”
“Old-school,” Clint says, putting his coffee down. “They gonna whack us with a cannoli, Hill?”
“They’re still a dangerous and troublesome organization, and this is literally a circus. Which is why we’re sending you two in. Infiltrate the circus, keep an eye on her, and neutralize the threat. Preferably without blowing the entire circus up, but I know better than to ask for miracles.”
“Hey, what happened in Jakarta was not our fault,” Clint says. He backs down when Maria stares at him. “Well, mostly not our fault.”
Maria is apparently feeling magnanimous, as she ignores that. “Luckily,” she says, “two of the performers recently fell ill—” No doubt SHIELD is behind that. “—and Carson’s Traveling Circus has a couple of openings. Romanoff, you’ll be joining two other stunt drivers in the Globe of Death, and Barton, they’re in need of a knife-thrower. Who apparently trades off as the showgirl target with Amazing Hawkeye herself, giving you an in with Bishop.”
“Luckily, I rock a good showgirl getup.” Clint grins. “Guess we’ll finally get to see what the Black Widow looks like in sequins and fringe.”
The Black Widow looks pretty damn great in sequins and fringe.
Their cover’s a couple again, which is surprising because Clandestine & Undercover Department (affectionately called Cow Spit by all field agents) usually makes them antagonistic coworkers on a business trip. And while it’s fun to play-fight with Natasha and see who can get more passive-aggressive about stupid things like coffee, it’s also nice to be in fake relationships with her. For example, she’s incredibly affectionate. And she gives great hugs.
They roll up to Carson’s outside of Omaha in the pick-up truck and pop-up camper that rattles a little and will probably blow a tire at some point. Luckily, Clint’s able to use his own clothes since they’re battered and appropriate for the nomadic lifestyle, but Natasha looks different in an ancient tank top, her hair pulled back and her jeans stained with motor oil. Softer, for sure. A quick talk with the manager and they’re introduced to the crew, all of whom are so used to the migrant lifestyle that they barely spare Clint a glance and only give Natasha a second look because she’s Natasha.
He looks at the gathered caravan and semi-trucks and all of the equipment and doesn’t think home, which is a relief. The circus hasn’t been home for years.
“Well, let’s see your act,” Hank McCoy, manager, ringmaster, and a great beast of a man, says to Clint after they eat a lunch that mostly comes out of cans. He’s a little rusty, so he wipes his palms on his jeans before he unfolds his throwing knife collection. The handles are painted a garish purple.
“Nat, you mind?” he asks.
They set up the board they’ve stashed in the pick-up next to her dirt bike, and she steps into position with a bored look in place. He flings the first knife and it lands two inches from her left ear, vibrating against the board. Natasha doesn’t even flinch. When all of his bright-handled knives form a silhouette around her body, she steps out and stretches.
“That do?” Clint asks.
“I suppose,” McCoy says. He eyes Clint up and down. “You have a routine already?”
“Yep. Nat’s not usually my target girl, though.” Not when they need her to watch the audience for any signs of somebody trying to attack Kate while Clint’s on stage.
“We’re a small group, most of us take on double duties. If you don’t mind working with a teenager—some people do mind, I understand—our archer usually performs that role. Our last knife-thrower ate some bad chowder, I’m afraid. They’d worked pretty closely until then.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Clint says, scratching his ear. “I’d like to avoid the same fate.”
“Stay away from Logan’s cooking, then,” McCoy says, and just like that, they’re welcomed to the family.
Natasha’s first job is infiltration of the camp at large, while Clint focuses on Kate. Usually it’s the other way around: Natasha knows every way to gain trust, but Clint’s the one that will be working closely with her, no matter how familiar he is with the way circuses operate.
Her first task is easy to accomplish, thanks to the trapeze artist. Natasha enjoys herself, flirting back whenever he offers an outrageous comment and giggling coquettishly when he offers her paper flowers pulled from the sleeve of his duster. By the time she strolls away to go meet the other bikers who will ride around the giant metal sphere with her, she’s uncovered quite a few new details from the acrobat: he’s German, he’s charming, the blue hair brings out the colors in his uniform, and there’s nobody new to Carson’s circus recently, other than Clint and Natasha themselves.
So the attack will come from the audience or somebody wandering around during the show.
She spots Kate watching her from the fringes of the crowd as she flirts with Kurt, and keeps the girl in the corner of her eye. There’s a wariness about her that she’d recognize even without being able to read people as well as she does. That same wariness stared back at her in the mirror for years.
This girl is on the run.
She tells Clint so while they watch the show in the crowd that night since they won’t be added to the act for another couple of days. “You’re going to have to really impress her,” she says as they watch the girl in purple step onto the sawdust in the main ring with her sequined bow.
“Well, her form could use a little work. I could—”
Nat flicks him with her fingers. “No.”
“Aw, but Tasha—”
“Don’t blow our cover by giving that girl archery tips, Barton. You so much as touch a bow here, people are going to realize you’re the original Amazing Hawkeye.”
Clint frowns. “I’m not. I’m the second. The original is in prison.”
Natasha studies his face and decides she won’t ask.
He lets Kate find him rather than the other way around. With Nat on patrol for any threats, Clint chooses to spend his time doing very important things. Like throwing a tennis ball at the side of the pop up camper and seeing how many ways he can get it to bounce right back into his palm.
And she bites, just like he suspected she would.
“I’m not sure how I feel about some stranger throwing sharp blades at me,” she says, coming around the trailer and scowling at him.
He barely spares her a glance. She’s so young. Too young—even though she’s much older than he was when he and Barney fell into this life. “You probably feel the same way I do about some preteen shooting arrows at my face. Are you even strong enough for that thing, kid?”
Her chin goes up. “I saw your show with Beast. I’ve got better aim than you.”
Clint wants to snort because he really doubts that, but all he does is raise an eyebrow. “Beast?”
“Hank. They call themselves weird names here.” She shuffles her purple chucks against the dirt. “Why are you even here?”
“Gotta make a living, kid. You think you’re better than me? Prove it.”
She scoffs, but pulls out the sequined purple and gold bow readily enough. Professional pride tweaked, Clint notes, and he nearly grins when she fires an arrow straight into the knot in a tree twenty feet away. Contrary to last night during the show, her form is pristine. Ah, so she’s adjusting for showmanship.
He tamps down whatever pride he might feel—the role was his once upon a time, he’s allowed—and merely pulls out one of his knives. A second later, it vibrates as it sticks to the trunk, splitting the arrow neatly in half.
Kate scowls. “Neat trick,” she says.
Clint pulls the knife out of the tree, wipes it off on his jeans, sticks it back in his kit. He looks at the arrow, split down the center. “Guess I owe you a new one. I won’t hit you, ever. For one thing, my wife would kill me. I never miss.”
“‘I never miss.’” Kate scoffs. “That’s a Hawkeye thing, and you can’t horn in on my act, old man.”
He has to grin, even though the old man thing is incredibly insulting. “Who says I even want to? Walk me through this act of yours. It’s been years since I’ve been a showgirl.”
Clint’s solution to dealing with a teenager is so 100% him that Natasha’s not even surprised it works. On their second night in Omaha, he orders the largest pizza he can get from a local restaurant, swinging by to talk to a few of the animal handlers—who are sitting near where Kate is eyeing her own dinner in distaste—with the box in hand before he comes back to drop down next to Natasha in his battered camping chair.
“Where’s the meat? This pizza is a disgrace,” she says when he offers her a slice. “If I wanted this many vegetables, I would order a salad.”
“Sacrifices for the greater good,” he says, though he also looks pained.
She sees why he went with the veggie option, though, because it’s not even five minutes later that Kate wanders over, the picture of absolute nonchalance. She drops to the ground near the fire—her coat’s far too thin for this weather—and squints at him. “You’d better not be using those knives you throw at me on that greasy junk you call food,” she says.
Clint groans far too theatrically. “You gonna follow me around and nag at me all the time, Katie Kate? You should know this pizza’s pre-sliced, which makes your insult twice as lame.”
Kate opens her mouth to argue, but Clint shoves the box at her. “Do something more useful with that smart mouth, help us with this pizza. Nat got too much again.”
Nat raises an eyebrow at him.
Clint shoots her a go with me here look, and Natasha decides to humor him.
Kate’s inhaled half a slice, though when Natasha looks directly at her, she pretends to pick at the veggies on top of the pizza. “You two are a package deal, right?” she asks, looking at Natasha rather than Clint.
“So how come you’re not part of his act, then? Why do I have to stand there and get knives thrown at me?”
“Oh, that’s easy.” Clint talks with his mouth full and gives Natasha a big smile; she’ll pay him back for that later. “Nat throws the knives back if I annoy her. And she’s not as good at it as me.”
“It’s a good thing we never wanted kids, sweetie,” Natasha says. Clint winces as Kate snickers. “Besides, I am much more interested in performing on my bike. It’s my baby.”
“I’ve got a bike, too,” Kate says. “Probably not as fancy or anything, but she’s solid.”
Natasha smiles and lets the teen talk like they haven’t researched her living arrangement—a tent and a motorcycle, god, she’s so much like Clint probably was when he lived this life. The bike is their first problem; they can set up perimeter alarms at night and keep an eye out on her tent easily enough. When they’re traveling in the caravan, though, it’ll be too easy for the enemy to separate Kate from the pack and pick her off. A car accident wouldn’t even seem suspicious. Natasha plans on sabotaging the bike in the morning, right before everybody pulls out to the next location, which will give Kate no choice but to ride with them. They’ll worry about the sleeping arrangements next.
The weather decides to give them a hand on both accounts when six hours later, pizza entirely demolished by Clint and Kate (though Natasha did get a couple slices), a rainstorm rolls in. At the first rattle of thunder, Clint rolls over and sighs at the ceiling. Ten seconds later, rain hammers against the roof in a torrential downpour.
“It’s a little soon,” he says. They had a plan in place to get Kate staying in the trailer, but not for a few days. Let some trust build up.
“Clint, just go get her.”
He pulls on a pair of galoshes and a rain slicker and steps outside. Five minutes later, Natasha can hear annoyed cursing, both teenage and Clint-variety, outside the trailer. A second later, Kate’s shoved inside, Clint shoots Natasha a frustrated look, and reaches around their teenaged charge to grab his pillow. “If you need me, I’ll be in the truck,” he says, and shuts the door, leaving Natasha with a very drenched Kate.
“Jerk!” Kate shouts after him.
Natasha rolls over and squints at the girl, pretending like she’s just woken up. “I was fine,” Kate insists, though she’s hugging her arms to her frame and her teeth are chattering. “It’s just a little rain, I don’t need some knight in shining armor. I’ve got this.”
Natasha reaches into the cabinet over her head and throws a towel and one of Clint’s T-shirts at her. “If you kick in your sleep, I’m kicking you back,” she says, and rolls over to give the girl some privacy. She really hopes Kate’s not as stubborn as Clint is because she really doesn’t want to get wet dragging the girl back in if she tries to leave. So she fakes sleeping and waits for a long, humming ten minutes before Kate finally curses under her breath and she can hear the girl drying off and changing clothes. She doesn’t kick in her sleep, but she does sleep in a ball curled up as far from Natasha as possible.
In the morning, they push her motorbike up the ramp into the bed of the pick-up truck and Kate blasts music through her headphones all the way to Kansas to protest this unfair treatment.
Downtime and gossip: two things Clint Barton definitely doesn’t miss about the circus.
They settle in with the rest of the Carson’s crew, which is as eclectic and strange but not quite as mean as he remembers. For the most part, it’s like a family. The grunts, the animal handlers, Carlos the wandering camel who really likes the cardboard in the dumpster and will munch away until he’s shooed back to his brethren, the workers, the performers, it’s all this sprawling mess of people. Tempers flare, gossip flies, and for the most part they all work well together to put on the same show night after night, wowing audiences and trying to make enough to put food in their bellies.
But there’s a lot of waiting involved in the circus: during traveling, before and after shows, even while waiting to go on stage. He remembers this forced idleness too well. He remembers how much trouble came during these times, how much the whispers flew.
These downtimes are what makes him so patient in the field, waiting for days for the perfect shot. But back in the circus, back in his origins, they drive him nuts.
Natasha never comments on it. He knows she doesn’t miss a thing, but she’s got that inscrutable thing going for her. He doesn’t ask. She doesn’t tell.
Kate, however, Kate asks so many questions he’s amazed they don’t strangle each other. She’s doing it solely to get on his nerves, and he knows that, but it doesn’t make him any less effective. She asks him why he doesn’t have his life together more, how he managed to land a babe like Natasha, why she doesn’t leave him if he’s always going to chew with his mouth open like that. She never misses a target on stage (which is good because one of those targets is an apple balanced on his head), just like she never misses a sensitive spot when poking at him. Clint’s sort of wishing the mob would get it over with and attack already so he can have some peace from the teenager.
They’ve all but adopted her; she sleeps in the camper with Nat all the time now, leaving Clint to get a crick in his neck in the truck, and they’ve left her bike in the back of the truck so that she rides with them between locations. Clint expected some distrust from the rest of the crew, but instead they seem almost relieved somebody’s willing to take responsibility.
Doesn’t mean she’s any less annoying. Just to him, though. She seems to like Natasha.
“Your outfit looks stupid,” she says while they’re waiting to go on stage.
Clint knows that. He’s wearing a white tank top that leaves his arms completely bare to the elbow, where he’s got fringed purple gloves on. The white satin pants are way too tight and decorated around the hips with giant purple and gold sequins and he’s wearing a headband and makeup.
He doesn’t miss certain things about the circus.
“Your outfit’s stupid, too,” he says.
“Not as stupid as yours.”
He can’t argue; she really has a point. Out in the ring, the Sensational Summers Family—all of whom are apparently somehow related, but Clint has no idea how, not even when they explained it to him with charts and everything—continues to jump and soar around like the acrobatic freaks of nature they are. Alex Summers dismounts perfectly off of his brother’s—uncle’s?—shoulders and bows to the crowd. Their cue is coming up.
“Could be worse,” Clint says. “Could be working in a cubicle somewhere.”
Kate’s silent for a long time. “You have a point,” she says, and Clint glances at her, swiftly, but then Beast cues them and they step out into the spotlight, waving their hands in the air for the excited crowd.
Maria Hill sends a text when they’re outside of Kalamazoo, so Natasha waits until they’re at a rest stop before she calls back. Kate’s like Clint’s purple, loud-mouthed shadow these days, which makes it a little difficult to report in to HQ since they’re supposed to be poor carnies.
“You ready to get out of there, Romanoff?” Maria asks, skipping pleasantries as usual.
“You’ve got the hitmen already?” She’s a little disappointed; after a couple weeks of being choked by diesel fumes in a giant circular deathtrap in the name of performing—and living with a teenager, which is its own trial by fire—Natasha’s been looking forward to beating up a couple mob mooks.
“Not quite. But we’ve got intel they’re in the area and will be at the show tonight. Sending over some photos.”
“I’ll fill Barton in.”
“Appreciate it. Say hi to the clowns for me.”
“Yeah, right.” Like she’s going to willingly talk to Bobby Drake.
She grabs a candy bar out of the vending machine for Clint and a can of soda for Kate before going to find her partner. Neither of them notices her approaching around the truck to where they’re balanced on the side like they’re acrobats and not marksmen. When she hears a snippet of their conversation, she pulls back.
“Didn’t have anywhere else to go,” she hears Clint say. “It was either foster care or the circus, and I figured circus was a better bet. You?”
“Ran away, too.” Kate speaks like she’s hunched over and when Natasha peeks, she sees that she is, her face downcast. “I learned some things that I—what do you do when you discover someone you love isn’t a good person?”
“I don’t know,” Clint says. “That’s rough.”
“That ever happen to you?”
“My brother used to beat the sh—crap out of anybody that tried to hurt me, but he’d turn around and punch me so hard he’d break my ribs. Trust me, I get it. Not sure the circus was the right answer, but it was where I ended up.”
There’s a long pause, like Kate’s trying to digest this—Natasha is, too, because Clint’s never willingly offered anything about his past to her, and she’s always been more than happy to return that favor. She wonders if he’s telling the truth about his brother. His voice feels honest.
Finally, Kate does speak. “I’m seventeen, you know,” she says, nudging Clint with a shoulder. “You can say shit in front of me.”
“Shut it, Katie Kate.”
Before they even set up, the field is muddy. Clint grumbles because that means hay-spreading duty, which sets off his allergies. Still: the mob mooks are finally making their move, which means they can take them down and get back to SHIELD. He misses his bow more than he thought he would—a fact that he does not bring up, as Natasha will only mock him.
Please. Like he hasn’t seen her eyeing his throwing knives.
As ever, things get hectic while the tents are being set up. Clint lets Natasha run herd on Kate during these times, as he’s always getting called over to help on a random assignment and she’s good at slipping through the crowd like smoke. He holds a beam steady while their strongwoman muscles the proper beams into place and kills a bottle of Jim Beam, and when he heads back to the trailer, Natasha’s already ordered pizza and fed the kid.
They’re not alone, either.
“Who’s this?” he asks, dropping into his camping chair and stretching. He holds his hand out.
“Stray,” Natasha says.
The dog eyes Clint mistrustfully through his one eye from where he’s enjoying neck-scritches from Kate. He doesn’t approach Clint until he holds out a piece of pizza.
“Clint!” Natasha says as it disappears down the dog’s gullet. “That can’t be good for him.”
“Probably the only good meal he’s had in a while. Huh, buddy?” And Clint apparently has made a new friend for life from the way the dog rears up and tries to lick his face. He gives the dog a thorough rub. “Looks a bit like a pirate.”
“And like a pirate, he could use a bath.” Natasha pushes herself out of her seat. “Don’t overfeed the dog, Clint. I’m going to go get ready.”
Which is Natasha-speak for doing another round and making sure their hitmen haven’t shown up yet. At least the dog gives him an excuse: Kate’s already grown attached, which means she hangs around the trailer and the dog—though she rejects the nickname Pizza Dog early on—and that makes an easy to keep an eye on her. Natasha returns and puts on her costume for the show, leaving him to wonder, as ever, exactly how she fits so many weapons in a skin-tight getup like that. But he doesn’t ask and she doesn’t tell. She does, however, give him a look when he slips into the trailer and comes out in his own costume.
Of course it’s just amusement at how terrible his outfit is.
There’s no sign of either of their suspected hitmen before the show, while the fans mill around being entertained by the clowns and petting the animals that the handler walks around. Carlos the wandering camel endures giving small children rides with as much dignity, though Clint always swears he sees the camel eyeing the dumpster for that delicious cardboard. He stays backstage with Kate, lazily trading half-hearted barbs and giving Pizza Dog belly-rubs.
Natasha’s going to be annoyed if the mob doesn’t attack. The truck’s crowded enough as it is, and there’s no way Kate’s leaving this dog behind.
While the first act goes on, he gets a text from Natasha. It merely says hello, handsome and shows a slightly blurry shot.
Their hitmen are on site.
Nat’s next text comes in: Get her to the trailer. Will handle Dumb and Dumber.
Clint scowls because they’ve only got ten minutes until his act. Inconvenient all around. He texts back a confirmation and pushes himself to his feet. If Natasha needed backup, she’d ask for it.
“C’mon,” is all he says to Kate.
“What? We’re supposed to go on in like five minutes.”
“Change of plans. We’re not going on tonight. We’re—”
He’s cut off by the ground-rattling boom of the cannon shooting one of the interchangeable Summers acrobats across the tent. He and Kate are used to the noise.
Pizza Dog, on the other hand, lets out a loud yelp and scurries off.
“Lucky!” Kate snatches up her bow and races after the dog.
Clint curses. The last thing he needs is for Kate to chase the dog into the woods and become an even easier target if one of the hitmen gets away from Natasha.
He sprints around the corner and thinks, no, actually this is the last thing he needs. Kate, bow in hand, gawks at three men all pointing their guns at Natasha. Clint reads the situation in a second—Nat was waiting for one to get close enough to where she could kill all three of them—but the problem is that their teenaged charge has no idea who they really are. And there’s no way she can control the situation and protect Kate at the same time.
“Hey!” Kate raises the bow, arrow nocked in a flash. “Get away from her!”
“Uh, Katie-Kate,” Clint says as the hitmen all look over at their target with interest. “Kate, those men have guns, maybe we should—”
The hitman nearest Natasha swings the gun toward Kate. “Drop the bow, kid.”
“Do I look like an idiot?”
“Kate,” Clint says, grabbing her arm. He tries to yank her behind him, but she won’t budge.
“Shoot her,” the lead hitman says.
“She’s got that bow pointed at me, boss. I ain’t about to be skewered.”
The lead hitman sighs and steps up to Natasha, pressing the gun against her temple. Natasha’s face never changes. “Think you can shoot him faster than I can pull this trigger, kid?” he asks Kate. “You willing to take that risk? We don’t even care about this woman. She’s not who we’re here for.”
“You’re here because of my father,” Kate says, her voice steady. “I’m not going to let you kill her.”
“One bow and arrow against three guns? You’re not going to have a choice. Lower the weapon or I paint the side of his tent with her brain matter.”
Kate trembles harder. Clint keeps his hand on her arm, trying to offer support or courage or whatever the hell he can. She doesn’t even sound surprised. It’s like she knew this was coming all along.
What kind of life has this kid led?
Kate lowers the bow. “Just don’t hurt them,” she says.
“Whatever. Get moving—there are too many possible witnesses here. This place is a fuckin’ circus.” The lead goon looks pleased with his own pun and Natasha rolls her eyes like she hasn’t made exactly the same joke three times in the past few weeks.
And then she looks at Clint and inclines her head very slightly toward the third man, the one farthest away from her. Clint raises his eyebrow a fraction.
They strike at the same time. Natasha karate chops the leader in the throat and finishes him off with a knife. Clint snatches up Kate’s bow, yanks an arrow from the quiver, and elbows the girl behind him, all in one movement. The arrow sprouts out of the eye socket of the third goon. Both bodies hit the ground at the same time.
The remaining goon stares at the nocked arrow and the gun Natasha’s stolen and gulps. “Who the hell are you people?”
“Not important. Tell your boss that if he sends anybody else after her, we’re burning your organization to the ground,” Natasha says, looking almost bored.
“What the hell?” Kate asks from behind Clint. “Did that just—”
“You want to move against Bishop, that’s fine,” Natasha says. “But leave his daughter out of it. Got it? Good. Now get out of here before I change my mind and decide to deliver the message myself. Spelled out with your intestines.”
It’s impressive how the goon manages to run and wet himself simultaneously.
The minute he disappears, Natasha tucks the gun away and dusts her hands off. “That could have gone better,” is all she says to Clint as she bends and grabs the first dead body under the armpits.
Kate looks from Natasha, to Clint, back to Natasha, down at the bodies, at Clint again, and finally her bow. Which is still in Clint’s hand. “What,” is all she says, and it sounds more like a demand than a question.
Clint scratches the back of his head. “Uh, we can explain.”
To be fair to Hill, she takes it extremely well when they roll back into SHIELD headquarters with a battered camper full of circus gear, a broken-down motorcycle, and two strays in tow. The one-eyed dog, she accepts with a sigh (and a covert scratch behind the ears). It’s the angry teenager standing between her two top operatives that really gives her pause.
“But what are we going to call her?” she asks, since it’s pretty obvious none of the three are going to budge on this issue.
“Hawkeye,” Kate and Clint say at the same time.
“Because that won’t be confusing at all,” Maria says.
Natasha only laughs. “Welcome to SHIELD,” and Maria’s not sure exactly who she’s addressing there.
(Clint sulks for a week when he finds out that he’s only Hawkeye in the field reports, but Kate is The Amazing Hawkeye. Damn favoritism)