- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
The Winter Soldier enjoyed watching the Amazing Hawkeye. He put on a good show, to be certain, but the Soldier was less interested in the entertainment and more interested in the man himself. There was something about him that the Soldier found deeply compelling. His skills were extraordinary, to be sure, but they weren’t what kept the Soldier so utterly captivated. There was something else, something he didn’t fully understand so he couldn’t explain it. His attention was glued to the younger man and he never wanted to look away. But as much as the Soldier enjoyed watching Hawkeye’s frankly amazing displace of almost supernatural accuracy, he wasn’t actually at the show to watch the show.
He was at the show because there was a Hydra recruiter at the show. Hydra had approached Hawkeye a couple of times, through their various intermediaries, but the young man had been disinclined to leave the circus. The latest recruiter was the one they always sent last, and he had never failed to secure cooperation of a target. He had a variety of unpleasant methods, but if all else failed he resorted to abduction. Despite Hawkeye’s admittedly impressive skill set, he was ill prepared to defend himself against a kidnapping attempt from a Hydra Agent. The Soldier wasn’t particularly interested in letting Hydra obtain such a valuable tool as Hawkeye would surely become. Nor was he inclined to let them hurt him- Hawkeye was bright-eyed. His smiles are guileless. The Soldier had no intention of letting Hydra steal them away.
He shifted a little and offered his bag of popcorn to the Black Widow when she dropped into the empty seat beside him. He hadn’t been expecting her, but still wasn’t entirely surprised she’d tracked him down. She tended to do that, when they hadn’t seen each other for more than a few weeks. She helped herself to a handful, shoving it haphazardly into her mouth. She grinned a little at his appalled look, but he had no desire to reprimand her. She was young and he had no issue with her antics- she’d been allowed none as a child and if such things made her happy than who was he to complain about it? Instead he transferred the box of popcorn into her hands and watched as she all but devoured it.
“You like this one,” she commented only when all of the popcorn was gone.
The Soldier raised an eyebrow at her.
“Normally you’d have taken care of everything already. But you’re siting here watching his show.”
He looked away.
“And this isn’t the first time, is it?”
“I’ve been to every show this week,” the Soldier admitted. “And so has the recruiter. He’s a top priority for them. So he’s a top priority for me.”
“Sure,” she agreed, quieting a little as he did a particularly impressive trick with a flaming arrow. “But you like him,” she challenged.
He didn’t bother to deny her charge. She wasn’t wrong, and she well knew it, and her comments were merely an invitation for him to talk about it. But he wasn’t sure how to describe his preoccupation with Hawkeye.
“Vanya,” she said gently. It caught his attention because she, like all the others, almost always referred to his as the Soldier. He used Vanya when using a name was unavoidable, and even though it wasn’t his real him name something about it made him feel vulnerable.
“Natalia,” he replied.
The Black Widow did not share his discomfort with names and smiled a little. She used her codename in the appropriate settings, but she preferred Natalia in private. And it was such a small thing, the Soldier saw no reason to deny her. He was fond of her; he’d been fond of her ever since stealing her from the Red Room. She knew it well and there had always been a hint of informality in their relationship that he would never had tolerated from anyone else.
“It’s okay to like people.”
“I like you.”
“It’s okay to like other people. Another person,” she amended at his look of doubt.
“He is…” the Soldier began.
“Talented,” she supplied.
“Yes,” he agreed. “And…”
“Attractive?” she offered. There was a hint of hesitation in her voice.
The Soldier blinked a couple of times, surprised at how well her observation resonated with him. Despite his long years of freedom from Hydra, the feeling of being attracted to another person was not something that he’d yet experienced again.
“Yes,” he agreed softly. “Yes.”
He felt off balanced by the revelation, unsure and a little uncomfortable. Natalia looped her arm though his and it made him feel a little better. He turned his attention back to the Hawkeye for the culmination of his act. Natalia unwound her arm from him when the show was over and they both joined in the clapping. The recruiter stood, moving through the seats and out of the tent just a few moments after Hawkeye exited.
“What’s the plan?” she asked, tossing the last piece of popcorn into her mouth.
“But what if we asked him to join us?”
“You took a chance on me. I want to take a chance on him.”
“Because you think it amusing that the Soldier might have feelings for another,” he asked, bitingly.
“Because I care about you,” she corrected gently.
He knew that it was true so he did not attempt to refute it. She did care about him.
“Vanya,” she said firmly. “Let me deal with the recruiter. You deal with Hawkeye. But don’t relocate him.”
The Soldier blinked and pushed aside the suggestion, because it was too tempting. And just as Hawkeye wasn’t suited for life in Hydra, he wasn’t suited for life with the Soldier either. He was better off away from it.
“Please just talk to him,” she prodded gently.
“I’ll talk to him,” the Soldier allowed.
She smiled a little, “Good.”
SOP,” he said, standing. Natalia nodded, her expression turning serious as they turned to deal with the mission. They exited the tent together, and Natalia peeled off and disappeared into the dark. The Soldier adjusted his hat before heading off towards where the trailers were parked. He caught up with Hawkeye just as the man was opening the door to a trailer hooked up to a run down pickup truck. He looked over his shoulder and smiled a little.
“Ah. I had wondered.”
“You wondered?” the Soldier repeated, startled.
“I’ve seen you at a bunch of the shows. Watching me. You have a sort of intent stare. I thought you might be, you know, interested.”
“I do find you interesting,” the Soldier confirmed.
Hawkeye smiled a little, pleased by the reply, “Want to get a drink?”
“No,” he said simply, moving a little closer. There wasn’t time for such an indulgence, though the offer did please him. He imagined them tucked way in the corner of a dingy bar, Hawkeye happy and chatty with the Soldier content to listen to him for as long as he cared to talk.
Hawkeye tilted his head a little, but he was still smiling so the Soldier assumed the denial hadn’t offended him. He gave him an intent look, “No? Want to come in then?”
It was another appealing invitation. And again, the Soldier wished at he could accept the offer and take Hawkeye up on the implication that accompanied it. Hawkeye didn’t seem bother by his silence. He reached out and caught the Soldier by the wrist. He tugged gently, backing up towards his trailer.
“Come inside,” he offered softly.
The Soldier closed most of the distance between them. Hawkeye ended up with his back pressed against the trailer, but he didn’t seem bothered by the position. He lifted his chin a little and his hands went to the Soldier’s sides.
“And what would be on offer if I were to come inside?” the Soldier wondered at a whisper. Hawkeye’s breath caught and the Soldier pressed his body against him. He let his nose brush Hawkeye’s. The younger man’s eyes fluttered closed at the action. “You?”
“Yes,” he whispered. He shifted a little, hands going to the Soldier’s shoulders, moving to kiss him.
The Soldier accepted the kiss, let Hawkeye keep it small and soft.
“I don’t usually do this,” he admitted. “Pick up people at shows. But you…”
“You seem sweet,” he whispered.
“I seem sweet,” the Soldier repeated incredulously.
“Yeah,” Hawkeye confirmed. “Maybe you aren’t all smiley, but you have kind eyes. I’m a good judge of character. And I had a good feeling about you the first time I saw you. But all week you’ve disappeared at the end of the show. Until today.”
The Soldier kissed him, exactly as Hawkeye had kissed him moments earlier. Hawkeye made a soft sound when the kiss ended, but he didn’t try to chase the Soldier’s mouth. Instead he looked at him and the Soldier was content to let him look as much as he liked.
“What’s your name?” he smiled at the Soldier as he asked the question.
The Soldier found himself tempted to give it. Obviously he couldn’t ask the younger man to call him but Soldier. But Vanya was suddenly an unappealing, even unacceptable, alternative. It wasn’t an urge he’d ever had, but the Soldier suddenly wanted to tell Hawkeye his real name. The impulse was sobering.
“You first,” he invited, though of course he already knew it, because he still wanted to hear the other man give it to him.
Hawkeye laughed, “It’s Clint.”
“Hello, Clint. It’s nice to meet you,” he put enough space between their bodies to offer his hand, and Clint shook it with a pleased smile.
“And you are?”
The Soldier returned his smile. “My name is James.”
“James. Nice to meet you,” Clint said, still grinning.
He was so distracted, so entranced, by Clint that it wasn’t until the man was all but upon them that the Soldier realized they weren’t alone. It was a mistake, his second of the night apparently because he hadn’t realized that the recruiter hadn’t come to the performance alone. The Soldier turned and snatched the man by the throat, shoving him against the trailer with a force that had to be dizzying. Clint startled, badly, but the Soldier kept himself between Clint and the man.
“Well, well,” he sneered despite the Soldier’s hand on his throat. “If it isn’t the lost one. Still playing the hero, are you? You didn’t think he came alone, did you? Hawkeye is quite the prize for us. You’ve messed up enough of our operations we and-”
The Soldier snapped his neck, dropped his body, and turned back to face Clint. The younger man’s smile was long gone, replaced by shock and fear, and he pressed himself against the trailer with a hand over his mouth.
“You killed him.”
“Yes,” the Soldier said. “Did you know him?”
“He approached me a couple weeks back,” Clint said slowly. “He wanted to hire me for some private work, but something seemed fishy about it. The money was too good. He wasn’t the first, but I don’t know. Bad vibes. But you… you killed him.”
“Yes,” the Soldier confirmed.
For a moment he thought that his behavior had irreparably scared Clint. It wasn’t the worst outcome- Clint would run and hide and hopefully find himself safe from Hydra. But instead he took a slow breath and met the Soldiers gaze. “Why?”
“They’ve tired of taking no for an answer, Clint,” the Soldier said gently. “I have no desire to frighten you, but I won’t let them have you. You’re too talented.”
“Who are they?”
“Hydra? Like the World War II Nazi’s?” he asked in disbelief.
“You don’t believe me?”
Clint shrugged a little, his eyes moving to the body briefly, “I guess I thought they were gone. Doesn’t everyone think they’re long gone?”
“Everyone is wrong.”
“And they wanted me?” he wondered quietly, more to himself than as an actual question.
The Soldier answered him anyway, “You’re extremely talented.”
“I don’t know what to say. They’re going to keep coming, aren’t they?”
He exhaled sharply, the fear returning to his face. “Shit.”
“I’ve already said I won’t let them have you, Clint. And I won’t,” he said intently. His promise seemed to calm the other man and he shifted, moving so that Clint couldn’t easily see the body behind him.
“But I can’t stay here, can I?” Clint wondered.
“You need to make a decision,” the Soldier continued.
“What are my options?” Clint asked softly, he shifted sideways, leaning to peer around the Soldier a the body.
The Soldier cupped his cheeks and turned his face away. He held him there for a moment, fingers angled to check his pulse. He waited for Clint to calm. Once Clint’s pulse was no longer racing, the Soldier tugged him around the trailer and towards his rendezvous stop with Natalia.
“We can’t just leave the body behind!”
“We can,” he said. “I didn’t come here alone either. The body will be taken care of, but not by you.”
“I can help.”
The Soldier stopped, his hands resting on Clint’s shoulders, “No. I’m here to protect you. Not drag to deeper into this.”
“What are my options then?” Clint repeated.
“We can relocate you and hide you,” he offered as they began to walk again.
“Or you can come with me.”
“But my life is here,” Clint objected.
“Listen to me,” the Soldier stopped abruptly and pressed Clint against a nearby tree. Clint’s breath caught and for a moment the Soldier thought he was afraid, but the young man’s hands went to his elbows and he allowed the embrace. If anything, he welcomed it. “If they catch you, they’ll destroy you. They will want to mold you into a weapon and they won’t care about what happens to you- what they have to do to you to get the result they want. You can’t imagine that it’s like and I don’t want that for you.”
“Is that what they did you?” Clint asked at a whisper.
“What they did to me was far worse. But I’ve ensured they can’t ever do that to anyone again. But that doesn’t mean they’re weak,” the Soldier cautioned. “That doesn’t mean that can’t hurt you. I do what I can to work against them. But they are everywhere.”
“Is that what this is? You working against them?”
“It’s why I came,” he admitted. “But you surprised me. You distracted me. I started to think about things I hadn’t thought in so long.”
“Take me with you,” Clint whispered.
“You said I could hide or I can go with you. I want to go with you. So,” he said. “Take me with you. Please, James.”
It was somewhat unfortunate that Natalia appeared at that moment, her eyes wide as she heard the name Clint called him. She started to speak, but the Soldier held a hand up and addressed her in Russian. “It was an impulse. I’m not prepared to use that name again. Not yet.”
She smiled a little, “I knew you liked him.”
The Soldier smiled a little in agreement, “There was another. I killed him by the trailer.”
“I’ll take care of it,” she promised. “Introduce me to your boyfriend?”
The Soldier raised an eyebrow at her, but obeyed. He switched into English when he next spoke, “Clint this is Natalia. She’s a friend.”
“Hi,” Clint offered hesitantly.
“Hi,” she replied, grinning. “You gonna stick with him then?”
“That’s the plan,” Clint said.
“Good. He needs looking after. You have no idea.”
“Natalia,” he said. “The body.”
“Rendezvous?” she asked.
“The usual,” he said. “I’ll see you in Budapest.”
She grinned again, “Until then.”
She disappeared, stealing away back into the shadows. The Soldier got Clint walking again, moving in the general direction of his car. The other man said nothing until they were driving away, and he spoke only after the Soldier prompted him.
“You’ve gone quiet.”
“Because I killed a man in front of you?”
“Well,” Clint said quietly, “No, actually. But I just…”
“You just what…?” the Soldier wanted to know.
“I’m grateful,” Clint said. “But I just want to know,” he took a deep breath, “Do you want to sleep with me?”
The Soldier was quiet for a moment, unsure of the proper response. He couldn’t really remember much about how such things were supposed to go between two people. “I do. But of course that isn’t contingent on me helping you.”
Clint nodded slowly.
“Why do you ask?”
“I wondered if you just did it to try to get me away. The way you talked to me… kissing me….”
“I let myself get distracted because I was overwhelmed. I don’t remember the last time I noticed someone that way. I forgot what it felt like… to look at another person and want them so badly that you forget yourself.” He was quiet for a moment. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d said so much to a single person. He wasn’t entirely comfortable, the words in his mouth seemed poor descriptors of his feelings, but for Clint he wanted to try. “In that moment, when you were looking up at me and I could tell you wanted to kiss me, it was like there wasn’t anything else worth noticing. Normally I’m…”
“Not so relaxed?” Clint offered gently.
“Hyperaware,” the Soldier agreed. “But when I was looking at you, I wanted to relax. I felt relaxed. You have a certain something to you, in your smile, and I just wanted to stand there and stare at you.”
He felt Clint’s hand on his thigh. He squeezed gently for a moment before raising his hand to touch the Soldier’s, and it was only then he realized that he was gripping the steering wheel so tightly that it was beginning to creak.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. He felt foolish until he dared to look at Clint and saw that the other man was smiling softly. The words hadn’t displeased him.
“Nothing to be sorry for.” He was quiet for a longer moment, “Are we really going to Budapest?”
The Soldier nodded, “Natalia and I have a longterm project in Budapest. We’re planning a massive strike against Hydra. You could… you could help, if you wanted.”
“I want to help,” he said firmly.
“First I have to get you some documents. It’ll be a while before you can use your real name and even then you’ll need to be careful with it. Hydra- they aren’t ones to forgive and forget.”
Clint nodded in understanding, “So,” he said after a moment. “Budapest. Tell me more.”