Sep. 19th, 2013 03:41 am
hasthehighground: being still while others move on (special agent)
[personal profile] hasthehighground
Clint opens his eyes. He's in a building, but its purpose -- its shape -- doesn't register to him, and that... doesn't really trouble him.

He walks down the hallway (he thinks it's a hallway), and into a bigger room. It's still undefined on the edges, but it has the cavernous space of an empty warehouse, except for some wooden crate boxes along the side.

On one of them is a man in his mid-20s, thin and gangly enough to mistake for a teenager. He's smoking a cigarette -- it's clove, Clint knows, before he can even smell it -- and watching something on the laptop set in front of him. His black hair's stuck up from where he's been running his hands through it.

"Hey, Joshua," Clint says as he nears, and Joshua turns to face him.

His eyebrows go up, and he pulls out his cigarette. "Hey yourself, Agent Barton," he says, dry but with little malice. "Pull up a crate."

Clint does so, sitting so he can watch the screen with Joshua. He's not really sure what they're watching; everything from lines of code to graphs and lists of data flicking past each other. It's kind of like the internet in a 90s movie.

Joshua offers him a cigarette, and Clint accepts it, even though he hates the taste of clove. It'd be rude to decline.

"So," Clint says, after a length of time he can't count. "Is this supposed to be a nightmare?"

Joshua turns back to face him, eyebrows going up. "I don't know, is it?"

Clint breathes a laugh, looking around. "Pretty boring nightmare. No offense."

"I guess I could try to make you feel guilty," Joshua says, after a silence, and his tone's bitter, "but I kind've doubt you'd give a fuck."

"Joshua," Clint says, quiet and with an edge of warning.

"I was just a hacker, man. I never hurt anybody." Joshua stubs out his cigarette. "What'd I do to deserve getting shot while I'm sleeping, like some sort of crime boss?"

Clint watches him. "You said you didn't want me to tell you."

"'I might have to kill you, so do you want to know if I'm going to or not once I figure it out?' Because that's really an okay thing to ask somebody."

Clint snorts. He knows it's an okay thing to ask someone. A couple of the people he evaluated and found unsalvageable even thanked him for keeping his promise. If you might die, and you can't do anything about it, you deserve every choice you can get.

Admittedly, he hasn't asked it of too many civilians.

"What do you want me to say?" He asks, after a long quiet.

"You could answer my question," Joshua says. "Why'd I die, and not the lady you're making teeth rot with?"

"-- How did you know about that?"

"We're in your subconscious."

Clint accepts this. "They're completely different cases," is what he ends up on. "Natasha Romanoff had useful skills to the agency, and a history of following orders and keeping security clearances. You weren't being evaluated for the agency, and showed consistent disregard for the fallout of your actions."

"I don't get that. Why do I care what happens to gangsters when they go bankrupt? They're gangsters." Lower, sulkier: "I was just trying to pay for Mary Joy's degree."

Clint doesn't reassure Joshua that his sister graduated. He's dead, and he already apparently knows what Clint does. She thinks he was killed by gangsters; revenge for his actions. And it's a stupid excuse. He was doing this years before she started nursing school.

"I didn't judge the morality of your choices," Clint says, again tone steady as he watches Joshua. "But your actions destabilized neighborhoods and cities that organized crime was keeping stable. Power vacuums caused chaos. People died. And every time someone told you to stop, you found a way to wriggle back out and do it again. If I could've trusted you to go program computers in Tel Aviv or something--" he breaks off to breathe. "You'd be there. You weren't evil, you were unreliable. And in my line of work, that's not acceptable."

Joshua watches him, then looks away. "That's cold, Agent Barton."

Clint knows.
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hasthehighground: In SHIELD gear, looking serious and tired (Default)
Clint Barton

February 2017


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