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One minute, Clint was standing in Jeremy Ellsden's apartment building, watching Deadpool hand him a thumb drive with the background files of every active SHIELD agent.

The next thing Clint knew, he was standing next to Black Cat, who was screaming obscenities and banging on a laptop, while outside the window, Barney ran across a rooftop carrying what looked like the remains of a rocket launcher.

"Hawkeye has only had one indoctrination session. We need to reinforce it."

"There's no time," said Black Cat. "If you don't think he'll be compliant then push him out a window."

Okay, this looks bad, Clint thought. He turned slowly towards Black Cat and her companions, keeping as still as possible while they tried to recover from... whatever the hell Barney had done to the power.

Black Cat's hacker minion was tapping away futilely on the laptop. "I can't copy the SHIELD personnel data to the net with the power down," he said.

Black Cat leaned over the desk and offered him her phone. "Here, use my mobile as a hotspot."

As much as Clint wanted to make a quiet escape, it was his responsibility to make things right, so he quickly strung an arrow and shot the phone out of Black Cat's hand, shattering it.

"So much for your brainwashing, Dr. Lusk," Typhoid Mary said, watching Clint carefully.

"I used bright lights to put them under my sway, and bright lights can free them. I assume the explosion down below reset him," Dr. Lusk said.

Clint readied two more arrows and aimed for the group of them. "Give me that thumb drive, and nobody gets shot."

Black Cat looked Clint up and down and laughed. "You're an Avenger. We know you're not just going to start shooting us full of arrows."

Clint tilted his head a little at her, snorted, and proceeded to shoot them full of arrows. He aimed for hands and legs as he jumped behind the closest cover he could find – a grand piano – and pushed it over to make more solid protection as more of Black Cat's men filed into the room and began shooting at him in return. Clint searched for an exit, but nothing stood out as a possibility except maybe a nearby window—which shattered as Barney broke through it, still carrying a piece of the rocket launcher case and using it as a bat.

"Clint!" he yelled. "You've got to snap out of it!"

"I don't need saving, Barney!" Clint yelled back, pulling him towards his cover. "I'm fine now, I promise."

"Before we kill you, are there any other Bartons dropping in?" Black Cat asked, loading her gun.

"Well, not exactly," Barney said, and like a man who knew exactly when to take his cue, Deadpool broke through the side of the wall on one of SHIELD's flying motorcycles.

"Tell me he didn't steal that," Clint said.

"Okay, he didn't steal that," Barney said.

"Do you think he knows the stabilizer is busted?" Clint asked.

"Uh," Barney said, and the rest of that question was answered as the cycle's engine exploded, shooting Deadpool backwards with a loud "Wheeee!" until he crashed into the neighboring building.

"Okay," Clint said after a moment. "Let's everybody take a breath. There's no getting out of this now. Deadpool just blew up your neighbors. Every cop in New York is on their way here."

"Plus, think about what Deadpool will do to you if he arrives before the cops," Barney added.

"You're right," Black Cat said. "I realize that now. My conscience is guilty, but I hate to lose. And I really hate witnesses."

"Okay, that's my cue," Clint said, moving out from behind the piano and starting to pin down Black Cat's goons. Barney joined him in an instant, charging at the guys that Clint wasn't taking down.

"Mary! Can you cook me up an exit?" Black Cat yelled, grabbing Dr. Lusk.

"You bet," Typhoid Mary said. "You'll come back for me, right?"

"Uh. Yeah. Of course," Black Cat said, taking off with her hacker right behind her, clutching the thumb drive.

Typhoid Mary faced Barney and Clint, holding her hands out at them, and it only took a moment for them to start to gasp.

"Okay, is she burning our insides for real or are we hallucinating?" Barney asked.

"Either option isn't good!" Clint said.

Whatever Typhoid Mary was doing, it stopped for a moment as Deadpool came crashing through another one of the windows. "Fear not, Bartons. I'm here to save you!"

"We don't need saving!" Clint and Barney said in unison, as they frantically caught their breath.

"All of you can burn in my fire," Typhoid Mary said. "You think I'm stupid? I know Black Cat's not coming back for me."

Watching her for a moment, Clint put his hand up defensively. "Mary, please stop. You don't need to do this," he said, approaching her slowly, ignoring the burn in his chest. "You're not a murderer. And if you were, you wouldn't just roast people alive."

"What are you talking about?" she said. "You don't know me at all."

"Yeah, you're probably right," Clint said, but he was close enough now to grab her hand and throw his head against hers, knocking her out.

Barney looked between Clint and Typhoid Mary for a moment and sighed. "You do know your skull isn't actually thicker than a normal person's, right?"

"Whatever," Clint said. "She was burning us alive, and now she's not. Can we refocus before Black Cat gets away?"

"Sorry I took so long to get here, I ran into a little trouble," Deadpool said.

"Yeah, so did we all," Clint said, glancing at Deadpool's non-stabbed chest for just a moment before heading for the stairs where their criminals had escaped. Deadpool didn't hesitate before jumping down onto the hacker and grabbing the thumb drive, but when Clint aimed at Black Cat, Barney put his hand on Clint's arm.

"Wait. Look," he said, pointing at Black Cat walking with Dr. Lusk. She turned and gave him a kiss before heading down the building's escalator, and Clint watched with growing dread as the doctor's clothing got caught in the machinery, one piece after another.

"Oh, I can't look," he said, but they certainly heard when the doctor's body hit the bottom step and the escalator came to a grinding, squishy halt.

"Aw, poor guy. Such terrible luck," Barney said dryly, patting Clint on the head.

Clint ducked out of the patting, and watched as Black Cat, staring glossy-eyed, walked straight out of the building and into the waiting custody of the police. "Oh, of course she's going to pretend to be brainwashed."

"No one's going to fall for her routine though, right?" Deadpool asked.

Clint sighed, knowing how likely that probably was. "Come on, let's find Agent Adsit."

When they got outside, Clint wasn't remotely surprised to find out that Black Cat's arresting officer had been programmed at some point, and Black Cat had gotten away. Still, Ellsden's data was safely back in SHIELD's hands, Deadpool promised to pay for the power station Barney blew up (Barney had tried to claim it was an emergency, but the power guy wasn't convinced), and Deadpool and Barney made it clear to Agent Adsit that in no way had Clint kicked their collective asses. It was all in the name of protecting Clint's reputation, of course.

"This turned out a lot better than I thought it would," Deadpool said as Barney and Clint made it back to their apartment. "We were a great team, right?" He held up his hands in fists to the two of them. "Until next time?"

"Please don't let there be a next time," Clint said, giving him a reluctant fistbump.

"I have to admit, shooting that rocket launcher was awesome," Barney said with his fistbump.

"And that's why you're the superior Barton," Deadpool said.

When they got inside, Clint collapsed onto the couch and grabbed his phone, wincing at the series of unanswered messages from Kitty. "Ah, she's gonna kill me," he muttered.

"Not as much as I'm tempted to. Do you remember me and Deadpool coming after you? And you nearly jumping off a bridge?" Barney said.

Clint nodded quietly as he sent Hey, I'm here. Catching the next portal to Fandom, to Kitty, like that would make her stop worrying. "I'm sorry. This whole trip turned out to be such a mess."

"Ah, it's all right. It was fun to beat people up for a good reason," Barney said. "And that rocket launcher's gonna be in my good dreams for a long time."

"I'm glad you had so much fun cleaning up my mess," Clint said with a scowl.

"What mess? Getting mind whammied again? That wasn't your fault."

"Barney, this whole thing was my fault," Clint said. "If I hadn't shut the door on Ellsden, none of this would have happened."

"If you hadn't shut the door on Ellsden, he still would have been an asshole hacker with futzing Black Cat on his tail," Barney said. "You still would have gotten into this whole mess, and maybe it wouldn't have turned out so well."

"What turned out well? Black Cat got away!"

"Yeah, and your entire organization is safe, and there's a whole hospital full of people being deprogrammed, and Typhoid Mary's back in prison along with most of Black Cat's goons," Barney said. "We did good work here."

"Yeah, great work. I've just got to clean the blood splatter off our stoop and everything will be fine," Clint said dryly.

Barney sighed and sat down next to Clint on the couch "Okay, so you screwed up a little. You made a mess. It happens. But you fixed it. That's what matters, that you fixed it all in the end. That's all you can do."

"Maybe," Clint said. "It'd still be nice to not make a mess in the first place."

"Brother, I don't think that's our lot in life," Barney said. "You going back to your island and your lady?"

Clint thought about making a comment about Simone, but he bit it back in the end. Barney's business was his own, and Clint wasn't going to ask him about it before Barney was ready to tell him. "Yeah, I'm gonna go get the portal set up now," he said, getting up and heading for the kitchen phone.

"Hey Clint," Barney said, watching him. "Just so you know, I'm going to call Kitty in a few days, and if she doesn't know what happened, I'll be happy to tell her."

Clint rolled his eyes at Barney and sighed. "I should have punched Deadpool and stabbed you."

"Next time, little brother. Next time."

[Adapted from Hawkeye vs. Deadpool #4. TW for violence and one particularly gross death.]


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Clint Barton

August 2017

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