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Keeping Clean

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Barney has gotten used to feeling dirty. Ever since Jacques loaded him and Clarice back into the van after that first night "on the town". He supposes he'd be a better person if he felt guiltier about stealing for Jacques too, but Barney didn't know the meaning of the word dirty until Jacques had shoved him at some man, who pawed at Barney's hips, until stubble was pressed against his lips.

The feeling comes back now, when he's stolen from someone who needed it and Jacques voice appears in his head "We do what we have to, to survive." And all of a sudden he's smelling cheap cologne and wishes there was a shower close at hand.

Clint never feels this way. Barney has made sure of that. The more Barney earned, the safer Clint was, and Barney meant for Clint to be safe. It's hard sometimes not to resent him for it now, but of course Clint doesn't know. Clint has an apartment and friends and a protege who will never be sold.

Barney feels his dirtiest next to Kate.

Barney feels at his best next to Simone. With Simone he feels worth something more than gravel under his knees. With Simone he feels like he can do good and help. Sometimes it hurts. Simone's silly little ones reminds him of what he and Clint could have been if their Ma had left their good for nothing father instead of getting herself killed with him.

But, she probably would have drunk herself to death anyway.

Simone doesn't drink, not like that. And she is going to make sure her babies grow up happy and healthy and low be it to anyone who tries to get in her way. Barney loves her love, loves her fire, loves her. He wants to help her, wants to make sure those boys grow up feeling good and knowing that they are good.

Those boys will never feel dirty, not while Barney's around.