Sep. 27th, 2015 11:01 pm
hasthehighground: comfortable in a crowd (at home in a crowd)
Clint walks out of the building with Doctor Jan Li, walking together but not talking. He looks tired, but otherwise well -- he's healed up, so his gait is easy.

He spots Natasha about halfway down the sidewalk, and a smile curls in the corner of his mouth.

He turns to Dr. Li, who looks and spots Natasha as well. They exchange a few words, and shake hands.

Clint tucks his hands into his jeans as he gets closer, stopping a couple yards back.

hasthehighground: SHIELD logo (S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Day One

Name: Clinton Francis Barton

Position(s)/Responsibility(s): Senior Agent, Specialist, Training Officer, Inter-Agency Liaison

Field Status: Suspended

If Suspended, Reason for Suspension: Health, Trauma

Purpose of Visit: Observation and Assessment

Doctor Jan Li sighed, looking up from the brief overview she'd been given on Agent Barton. She knew more about him, sort of -- her ex had been in some sort of regular poker game with him a couple years ago, which was apparently a big deal for a Specialist, but she'd never actually said why.

Maybe not having more information was a good thing. It'd keep her from making judgments ahead of time.

The man in the lobby did not look like a big deal. He looked tired, and nervous, but mostly tired. He was sitting in a chair, legs apart, elbows resting on his knees and fingers entwined in front of him. He was wearing a big jacket, the type used to conceal weaponry, but he'd made it through security -- any weapons he had brought with him were already checked into a storage locker until his departure.

"Agent Barton?" Jan asked, finally making her approach. He looked up, brows lifting, and glanced sideways as if not expecting her to be talking to him.

"Yeah," he said, once he'd ruled that out. "That's me."

"Doctor Janice Li," she said, extending her hand, and after a moment he shook it. He dropped her hand immediately afterward, and rubbed at his neck slightly.

"Good to meet you, doc," he said, after a moment, and attempted a hopeful grin that looked so faintly sheepish for his awkwardness that Jan couldn't help but wonder if she was being manipulated.

"Welcome to the WSC's Virginia facility," she said, opting for assuming the best of him for now. "If you could follow me...?"

Day Three

Her patient was very polite when he was present, prone to getting lost in his own thoughts that he didn't share with her, refused to remove his hearing aids for sleep, and while he appeared to take his sleeping medication clearly did not. People did not stay that still while sleeping, a sort of studied calm that did not last in the face of any noise in the adjoining hall.

He was also very politely dismissive of her security clearance, which he did not feel was high enough to discuss anything that he actually found traumatic. He had noticed that she was former U.S. Army, though, and Jan let him talk down rabbit holes of military service even though she knew he was doing that intentionally to distract her.

She hadn't been given the tools to find the answers her bosses requested, and -- well. Perhaps that was the point. She breathed, to keep herself calm against frustration.

Hers was a friendly interrogation, but it was an interrogation. Agent Barton had clearly been trained too well to break.

Day Four

"I've been removed?" Jan asked, wincing at the way her voice cracked. She covered the phone receiver, and glanced sideways along the room. No one in the office had reacted except Steve, who sent her a worried look. She wave a hand at him, and he moved to the far side of the room.

"You're doing great work, Doctor Li," Doctor Smythe repeated, tone soothing. Jan rolled her shoulders back, forcing them to relax. "We just think that Agent Barton will react better to.. different stimuli. We'll bring him back to you for a final assessment before he's released."

"Thank you," Jan said, faint, knowing that she would get no further. Smythe hung up.

Day Five

Response to requested update on case #0003204: No Update Available.

Day Six

Response to requested update on case #0003204: No Update Available.

Day Seven

Response to requested update on case #0003204: No Update Available.

Day Eight

Response to requested update on case #0003204: No Update Available.

Day Nine

Response to requested update on case #0003204: Patient Ready For Release.

Doctor Li jumped up from her analysis of the effort to provide for post-traumatic counseling for the entire New York office and staff, and rushed down to her meeting room..

She breathed, and straightened her suit jacket, opening the door. The guard inside the room nodded to her, and left.

"Agent Barton," she said as she glanced over him. He was wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt, and pants, and had his arms crossed over each other, shivering slightly. "Are you cold?"

He squinted at her, after a moment. "Yeah," he said, distantly. "Yeah, I guess."

She had turned to the thermostat, and turned it up five degrees, shucking her jacket as she did so. It was already 73, after all. As she brought back water bottles from the refrigerator by the door, Barton straightened.

"Doctor Li?" he asked, with a tone of genuine surprise.

"... Yes," Jan said, giving him his water bottle. He took it, and fumbled with the top for a moment before opening it. She sat down across from him. "We met earlier this week."

"Oh. Huh. It seems like it was ages ago." He drank down most of the bottle in one go. "I guess you're right."

He didn't say anything else about the time that had elapsed since they'd last spoken, and Jan knew better than to ask.

He was more centered than he had been, more focused. More nervous.

Jan had only worked with the WSC for six months, and she believed strongly in the aspects of its work that she had been given access to. Peace was a responsibility of the people, and those who got hurt in pursuing peace deserved the support of professionals and politicians. But, still: she knew better than to ask.
hasthehighground: (breathe in)
When Clint walks into the bar... he doesn't want to be here.

He hurts, all over, with a headache and bandaging across his back, and pain medicine working with the lack of sleep. Even after 12 hours crashed at Stark Tower last night.

But he owes someone an apology. So he gets a bottle of water, and takes off his sunglasses (tucking them over his shirt) before making his way upstairs.

He stops at Oswin's door, leans his good shoulder against the wall, and knocks.

If it's a little quiet, well: he's a little freaked out.

Avengers 4

Aug. 1st, 2015 10:05 pm
hasthehighground: Natasha emotionally grounds Clint ([natasha] sometimes the world falls)
She knocks him out, and she talks him down when he wakes up.

You can't think about that, Clint, she says, like he won't drag up the numbers once this is done.

Once this is done.

He has to wait for this to be done.

She sits with him, shoulder to shoulder, and he asks what Loki did to her -- her eyes, the green of old Coke bottles, look away.

Phil once told him Natasha would burn the world down for him, and maybe Clint didn't believe it.

"Tasha," he says, voice rough.

He kisses her before he showers -- soft, against her cheekbone by her eye, hand cupping her chin, and again to her lips. She breathes out, like relief. She's precious to him. She'd dragged herself back into war for him, and he'd forgotten.

He has to find a way to tell her.

Once this is done.

He has to wait for this to be done.

Avengers 3

Aug. 1st, 2015 05:16 pm
hasthehighground: ([heartwashed] intense)
Clint doesn't pace. He stands, steady in the purloined Quinjet as it signals its arrival to the Helicarrier.

It's easy. They should have changed the codes.

(In an operation this large, codes remain active for up to 48 hours post-change. It's just not feasible to change them in time. He helped run those calculations last year.

He almost smirks.)

He motions to the pilot to lower the back and walks out, positioning himself. He sights the turbine casing, and breathes as he feels the wind currents. Then he turns, to loose the arrow in the direction that will force the turbine to bring it to itself.

He doesn't look back. He can feel it hit. The pilot lands, and he detonates the package.


Sitwell's sitting at the computer Clint needs. Sitwell's the one who suggested the USB arrow.

Clint wonders if Sitwell knows he's turned. If he has, he'll have told Fury about the arrow.

(But if this doesn't work, he can do close to as much damage by putting the next one through Sitwell's neck.)

The arrow works perfectly. SHIELD R&D has never been anything if not efficient. Fury has never been anything if not closed mouthed.

Sitwell has never done anything less than trust him entirely, eyes widening at the arrow as he glances back up.

One of Fury's bullets ricochets off the wall next to Clint, and he withdraws.

His boss is in the holding cells, and Banner will be unleashed soon enough.


Clint's striding down the catwalk to the detention center, listening to the thrum of the turbines through the metal walls. Something's wrong. The back starboard engine is being restarted. It's sick, but it's coming to.

That's all right. Thor and Banner have been managed. Rogers and Stark are small game, in comparison. And the goal of this mission is to eat up time for Loki's allies to make their mark, for Loki to escape. Clint's going to facilitate his boss's transfer now.

Clint doesn't speed up, pace steady, but he feels -- there it is. A whisper of fabric behind him. Someone who can take advantage of the range of his hearing aids.


He turns.

Avengers 1

Jul. 28th, 2015 10:44 pm
hasthehighground: ([heartwashed] a new master)
Clint's been on enough battlefields to know when something's gone wrong, even in the split second before the alarms starts ringing. There's a taste, or a smell – it's palpable, and he's off his ledge immediately.

He stays when the rest of the senior security staff leaves to coordinate the evacuation, walking around the perimeter of the lab. Then he goes back to his perch, where he's out of the way, and watches. And thinks.

Fury shows up: Clint relaxes.

"If there's been any tampering, it wasn't at this end," he tells his boss, who actually has the power to do anything about that.

"This end?" Fury repeats, and Clint's taken by surprise. The cube's a door. That's what doors do: open.

And then, mid-explanation, it does.


The alien has his arm caught, a point of pain that's keeping Clint's thoughts from clearing out, but he hasn't killed him yet. Above the unearthly hum of the Cube, the sickly crackling of the energy gathering in the roof of the room, he thinks: That's probably good, that means he needs Clint, that means Clint can figure out his plan, figure out–

The alien smiles, and Clint's breath catches in his throat.

"You have heart," he says, and before Clint can figure out what he means, the blade is pressed lightly against his chest, and it's probably just the cold that makes it feel so sharp—

The cold that washes over him, that burrows deep, that suffuses into his tissue and his brain and his heart and the blade doesn't feel sharp anymore. It feels right.

His boss smiles again, stepping back, and Clint holsters his gun. He's not a threat: he's a loyal soldier.

And he can draw it again the moment Loki needs aid.
hasthehighground: leaned back casually, expression neutral (yeah I'm cool)
It's been a day since their talk, and Clint still hasn't figured out what to ask her (or even what he's supposed to ask her).

He has, though, remembered something he needs to tell her.

Clint finishes wiping down the kitchen counter -- Natasha cooked, he can easily clean -- and tucks his hands into his pockets, walking out of the kitchen proper to lean against the bar, watching her.

She's on the sofa, reading some book, and overall looking pretty peaceful. He feels, briefly, guilty -- but this is important.

"Hey, Tasha?"


Sep. 19th, 2013 03:41 am
hasthehighground: being still while others move on (special agent)
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.
hasthehighground: SHIELD logo (S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Clint didn't sleep great last night. Natasha was jetlagged, so she claimed the couch, and he woke up a couple times wondering if that's really why she did it. If Natasha's uncomfortable sharing a bed, that should be fine -- she's full capable of making her own decisions. But... he didn't mean her to think she wasn't welcome.

("Do you want to see me?" she'd asked, as if he might actually say no.)

It's stupid. He gets over it.


Clint doesn't concentrate that well at work, either. The coffee doesn't seem to be helping as much as it should be, and what they're currently doing isn't strategy-oriented, it's just... the standard stuff.

Clint likes the standard stuff (when it's not expense reports), but it's not exactly engaging.

The intra-office chat client on his computer blinks after lunch (he didn't really eat lunch).

"Clint," Beamon writes. "I can hear you stressing."

Clint looks down at his hands, which are completely still, and can see what she means. Metaphorically.

"Take the lady to the zoo or something. We have three meetings Monday, and I need you on the ball."

He acknowledges the message, and packs up his stuff.


Clint has a cigarette in the area just outside the doors before he leaves, because these days in San Diego he can basically only smoke here and on the roof of his apartment, and he's pretty sure the last one might be illegal.

After that, he buys a hot dog, and sits on a bench as he thinks about whether or not he should head back. Natasha might not want him there.

It's his house.

He goes back for his car.
hasthehighground: leaned back casually, expression neutral (yeah I'm cool)
Clint's not entirely sure how Oswin's gained access to the car she has -- a sturdy four-door sedan.

Whichever way that happened, she has a set of keys and hasn't wrecked it yet. Clint's given it a look-over, including pulling out out of its parking spot and re-parking it in the middle of the lane, and now he's sitting in the passenger seat.

He hands Oswin the keys once she's buckled in.
hasthehighground: Natasha and Clint being quiet and happy at each other ([natasha] relaxed)
After lounging on the couch, they get a grab-bag of bagels and fancy cream cheese from the bar for breakfast.

("Living the high life," Clint says, pulling out a packet of cucumber dill cream cheese.

"I told you," Natasha replies, corners of her eyes crinkling as she purses her lips as if to hold in a smile. "Glamorous.")

If they were less tired, the conversation after storing their food would be longer, and Clint would be laughing into Natasha's calf as he massaged her worn legs instead of into her ear as he promised he'd take care of them in the morning before putting his hearing aids on the bedside table.

But the fact that they end up sprawled on the bed, with Natasha curled over Clint and his free hand loosely in her hair, more comfortably asleep than they would be anywhere strange alone, well. That doesn't change.
hasthehighground: In SHIELD gear, looking serious and tired (the job)
It's a day. It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the air is breezy, and Clint's sitting in his cubicle trying to complete his latest expense report.

It's a Thursday. His reading glasses are sliding off the end of his nose, and Henry is humming/muttering Carly Rae Jepsen songs in the cubicle across from him. Clint's pretty sure he hasn't realized.

Life as usual in the glamorous world of clandestine activity.

Clint stretches after finishing the fifth section (out of seven). When he goes to get an apple from the breakroom, Schmidt's sitting on the counter, watching the television with the hyperfocus of any good sniper.

He feels obscurely proud of his sort-of-protégé, then he realizes she's watching "--Golf?"

"Shh," Schmidt says, putting a spoonful of yoghurt into her mouth, freezing. Clint shushes obligingly, and leans back against the counter.

The guy putts the ball into the hole. The crowd cheers, and Schmidt swallows her yoghurt.


"Shut up."

Clint bites into his apple, intending it as a sarcastic reply, then his work cell rings. He pulls the apple right back off his teeth and puts it down; Schmidt hops off the counter and mutes the television.

"Barton," he greets.

"Has Romanoff contacted you in the recently?" Koskinen's voice is tighter than normal, urgent.

"No," he says, immediate and surprised. Schmidt tilts her head to the door, offering to leave, he shakes his head. "Should I expect her to?"

"Unsure. If she does get into contact, let us know."

"I will. Can I ask what's going on?"

"No. Try not to be stupid." Koskinen says, and there's the buzz of an empty phoneline.

So his best friend is missing, and he isn't being told why.

Life as usual in the glamorous world of clandestine activity.

hasthehighground: In SHIELD gear, looking serious and tired (the job)
When Clint gets to work, first, he has the paperwork for acquisition forms on his desk. Beamon's unlucky enough to still be caught in traffic, so he shifts them to her desk. She's the team leader in the office, anyway; he shouldn't get shafted just because he's the one who requested the items.

He digs in Echo's file cabinet before pulling out the relevant form (though, still, Unforeseen Incident doesn't exactly involve alien bars with good coffee) and settling in to write.

He's wearing headphones, and they're just-off mission from New Mexico (where other aliens showed up), so for the first couple hours his team ignores him as they catch up on their own paperwork.

Something enters his periphereal vision and he raises up a hand to block it before realizing it's a mug of coffee. He glances further up at the person offering it, his sniper partner Schmidt.

"Hey, thanks," he says, taking one of his ear-buds out as he accepts it. He pulls open his desk drawer to grab a protein bar. He offers it to Schmidt, but she makes a face so he takes it for himself.

Schmidt leans against the cubicle divider, taking a drink from her own mug. "Don't worry about it. What's got you antisocial?"

Clint grimaces. "Need to know. Sorry, Schmidt."

"Say no more."


Jan's in town, which means it's easy enough to ask for him to deliver the file to Fury when he next sees him, or Coulson. It's only for Fury to open, but Clint would be more comfortable with Coulson having his hands on it than Jan who he's only known for eight years.

Clint spent a long time staring at the maps and detailed lists he'd created before giving it to Jan, searching his brain for any extra clue, but there wasn't anything else left for him to deduce.

The sheer weirdness of what happened oozes up on him, into his brain and under his skin, once the file is handed off.

If he leaves early, and spends the rest of the afternoon in Balboa Park watching people go about their every day lives --

Well, everyone has those days.
hasthehighground: leaned back casually, expression neutral (yeah I'm cool)

After Clint writes his notes but before he comes back from the bar, he grabs some bread, eggs, and maple syrup, because when a man promises French toast he's sure as hell gotta deliver.

There's no noise from the bedroom, and the clock says it's still the same time he left, so Clint grabs a sheet of note paper and writes a third note. Knowing Natasha has something on her is going to calm his nerves a bit.

This letter takes a lot longer to make than the other ones, because Clint has no idea what jobs Natasha is going to take in the near future or who he should pretend to be for the letter. He edits, and re-edits, several times in his head before settling on what he finally writes down:


Civilian letter )

Clint narrows his eyes at it, scanning it back over. Yeah, he's pretty sure that's soppy enough. Romance has never been his strong suit. He folds it and unfolds it a couple dozen times to give it a worn look, while listening to the early morning news, then sticks a salt shaker on it to weigh it down.

He starts work on breakfast, once he hears the shower start up. The only thing worse than no french toast is cold french toast.

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