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 the once-dearly departed, barney
Clint Barton
 Posted: Mar 24 2018, 12:57 PM
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wearin' our vintage misery
For someone who wasn't actively clowning around with a superhero team, Clint sure did spend a lot of time getting into fights.

Admittedly, it wasn't like he'd expected his life to get any easier after taking a hiatus from the Avengers. He knew himself well enough to know that his own recklessness was his downfall, but acknowledgement of the behavior and changing said behavior were two very different courses of action. Honestly, he didn't feel the need to change how he went about his life. He helped people sometimes, and he wasn't dead so that was a plus. And at this point, if he did wind up seriously hurt, at least everyone who knew him would understand to some extent.

That didn't mean that Clint liked getting beat up by Russians every other week. The assholes who had run his building had long since been removed from "power" in terms of who owned the building, but they still felt the need to come by and try to scare him off. The joke was on them, he supposed - except for the times when they jumped him in back alleys and kicked the everloving shit out of him. It wasn't like he couldn't handle himself in a fight - SHIELD training was no joke - but when it was one against seven? He wasn't Cap; he was just a guy.

At least he'd managed to take a few down with him during his last brush with the Tracksuit Mafia. A few of those guys wouldn't be walking anytime soon, and he was quite proud of that, actually. He'd taken a hell of a beating before he'd been able to strike back, though, and the results of that fight were evident in the colorful bruise blossoming across his jaw, the cracked and split lower lip, and the telltale wince every time he stretched his arms above his shoulders. But it wasn't the worst he'd dealt with. He'd manage. (Barney might have actually been proud, given how well that asshole had taken a punch when he'd still been alive.)

There was never really time to recover, not with the life he lived, so the archer was left trying to predict when and where the Russians would strike next. He had enough groceries to last him for... well, a few days, hopefully. If he ordered delivery, and Lucky didn't devour his leftovers, he might actually be able to hole up in the apartment for a good long while. Not that he was running from his problems; on the contrary, he just wanted a fight on his home turf for once.

That was how Clint found himself sitting on the front steps of his building, his bow and quiver casually resting within arm's reach as he tossed a ball for the half-blind golden retriever. His ribs ached, and he probably needed to see a doctor, but it was fine. He was fine. Tugging the sopping tennis ball from between Lucky's teeth, he grimaced as the dog's saliva dripped onto his palms and pant legs. "You're gross, you know that?" He wasn't expecting a response, but the tilt of the dog's head was enough.

Without really looking, he side-armed the ball, letting it bounce down along the sidewalk as Lucky raced excitedly after it. Snorting in amusement as he watched the dog haphazardly try to catch his toy (no depth perception really was a bitch for the ol' boy), he didn't realize that someone had approached until they were standing quite literally right in front of him. Blinking, Clint craned his neck up, only to freeze in place as he realized that he recognized the person standing before him.

And he shouldn't have.

Barney was dead. He'd shot him. And sure, when he'd come to, nobody would tell him what had happened, but it was safe to assume that getting shot in the chest with an arrow tended to be pretty fatal. The possibility of this being some weird magic was there, but honestly, he was doubtful. Who the hell even knew about his older brother enough to use him as a disguise? "If you're gonna kick my ass for the whole 'I shot you' thing, you're gonna have to get in line," he finally managed.
Barney Barton
I'm sorry this turned into a goddamn essay
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Barney Barton
 Posted: Mar 25 2018, 09:02 AM
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Barney Barton
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Barney had been alternatively dreading and looking forward to this moment for most of his life, but he had never doubted it would happen. He wasn't the sort of man to hope, but he was the sort of man do get the job done, and taking care of his brother had always been his job, and he had left it unfinished.

He still remembered the relief, back when he had first (unwillingly) joined HYDRA, when they started asking questions about Clint. They had no idea he didn't know, and had told him more than he could have ever hoped to tell them; Clint was alive, Clint was a high-ranked, respected, feared, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. The job had done itself. It was a funny feeling, a good feeling: the job was done, and he finally didn't care if he died.

HYDRA, however, had showed him the way; a path for true order and the peace that would follow. And SHIELD was the greatest obstacle in the way. They'd kept him out of him, leaving him to watch in the sidelines while his brother put his life on the line fighting for the wrong side. But it was always either too early or too late for him, and Barney knew what ultimately mattered; HYDRA came first. If Clint was lost in the process, he'd have to accept it.

Then, came the Avengers. Clint with his bow and arrow, side by side with monsters and gods and childhood heroes, and all he could do was watch. Until today. Until HYDRA approached him with a new mission. They'd managed to get themselves enmeshed deeply into SHIELD, but the team that had direct contact with the Avengers was small, hand-picked by Nick Fury himself, and they had no way in through that. They had another way in, however.

The new mission was for Barney to find Clint, get back into his life, and watch and report. Do not interfere. To see Clint mixing himself up with those people, and not say anything. Watch and report only.

The first part was important; there had to be a believable trail showing how Barney made it to Clint. It was also worriesomely easy; Clint was renting ia hole in the wall n some shitty part of town. If that was all SHIELD was paying him, he could probably turn him by showing his expenses packet.

Next part was to just show up, and see if he got punched, or shot at, or what; that would tell him a lot about what to do next. He decided to just show up and knock on the door. He was maybe hoping Clint wouldn't be home. That he would get a few more days to work on a better plan. Or any plan.

Instead, he found him on the sidewalk. With a dog. They didn't tell him about the dog, probably didn't even know. Probably didn't think it was important. Clint had always wanted one, but Barney never let him. First, it was just going to be another victim held hostage by their father; then, it was going to be another mouth to feed, another thing for Barney to take care of. Barney couldn't turn and walk away - it was against the mission - so he just kept walking, Clint got slobbered on, then sent the dog running after a ball. He was almost standing over Clint now, and he still hadn't found anything to say.

They stared at each other for a while, and he waited for Clint to crack. He always said something first; always had some wiseass remark to make. He did, and Barney snorted, his hand unconsciously going to the long scar on his chest. It was a long, thin, jagged line, that he couldn't really feel through the shirt, but he swore he could. The arrow itself hadn't done that, of course. It had snapped his rib, torn into his lung, and left him drowning in his own blood, struggling to get air, just from a tiny little hole. They had to crack his chest open to retrieve the arrowhead, and stitch up the damage.

"Kick your ass?" Barney still knew exactly where the arrow had entered, though there was no proof of it. It was where his finger rested on, a little below the beginning of the scar. "I thought you shooting me had made us even."

Clint Barton
I love it. Have an essay of my own in return.
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Clint Barton
 Posted: Mar 30 2018, 05:54 PM
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wearin' our vintage misery
Looking back on his childhood, Clint had to admit that he'd been a pretty shitty kid. He'd had no sense of self-preservation and an uncanny ability to say the absolute wrong thing in any situation. Arguably, neither of those had changed; he threw himself into dangerous situations and he still had a knack for pissing people off without even trying. The difference now was that he could handle himself. Mostly. There were some questionable situations that probably made people question his sanity, but at least he was capable of living on his own.

But as a kid, it had been worse. He'd been belligerent to a fault, and sitting through god only knows how many SHIELD-mandated therapy sessions made him at least vaguely aware that maybe some of that was due to the awful things his father had done. His home life had been crap, the circus had been worse, and his short-lived career as a thief had been downright abysmal. He'd been so angry about so many things - and in the end, his own brother had paid the price. The one person who'd stuck around and dealt with his shit behavior, mostly, and he'd shot him.

It had been an accident, sure, and they'd had their own issues, but nobody deserved that. Clint could still remember hearing him wheeze for air - and from his own personal experience with "interrogation techniques", he knew that drowning was a terrifying way to go. Knowing that he'd killed his own brother like that had weighed on him for years; he hadn't forgotten, even if he never brought it up in casual conversation. And yet, here Barney stood, very much alive and well and not a zombie.

For the briefest of seconds, Clint had the gall to be upset.

It faded fast, though; guilt had a funny way of kicking in and stamping down everything else. His eyes briefly flicked down, noting the motion and trying his best not to grimace. (He liked to think that he succeeded, but it was always a tossup.) "Fair point," he conceded, if only because it was. But the world wasn't all about tit for tat. No, it was shittier in that it dished out and never really stopped - at least, not in his experience. An eye for an eye only went so far too, so who knew what would be coming his way?

He probably shouldn't have been surprised, though. It was Barney. Carding his not-slobbery fingers back through his hair, he added on matter-of-factly, "You never know, though. Normal people hold grudges about shit like that. They get excommunicated from family outings and Thanksgiving, or something like that." They weren't exactly normal, though, were they? They were ex-carnies - or current carnies? What the hell did Barney even do now? What had he been doing for the past two decades?

The possibility of his own brother being hired by the Russians abruptly struck him, and this time he did grimace as he scrutinized his brother cautiously. "You're not here 'cause someone hired you to try and evict me, right? That wouldn't even make the top five weirdest things that have happened to me since I moved in, but I really wouldn't put it past those guys."
Barney Barton
womp womp
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Barney Barton
 Posted: Apr 7 2018, 03:07 PM
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Barney Barton
Trickshot
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forty-eight
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The best minds HYDRA had to offer had poured over the possibilities of this op, and offered Barney the possible scenarios he would find, and they were as completely useless as any psychobabbler had ever been. They even had the gall to ask him for input on what he thought, until he had to remind them that they knew Clint better than he did. That he didn't even know Clint from Adam anymore. Ultimately, it always came to three possibilities, the ones he had learned all the way back in the circus: they would get mad, they would get all emotional, or they would pretend nothing strange was going on.

Barney saw it, the little twitch in Clint's eye, that same spark of so long ago, and for a moment he was terrified he was about to realize he hadn't changed all that much. That he still knew Clint. That Clint was still Clint, and that was going to mean something. But that was good, too. That was good, because that was the answer he had been hoping for; that Clint was going to come at him, and they were going to punch each other into some sort of resolution, because Barney could see no other way out for them anymore.

And then, it was gone. Clint spoke as if he was speaking about the weather, and agreed with him, which was exactly what Barney didn't want. He wanted Clint to either demand of beg forgiveness, because if what they had ended on was fair, then that had been all solved them, and that hadn't been enough for him.

Barney forced himself to swallow down the lump in his throat. "Yeah, but we don't have outings, or Thanksgiving. Or family." That wasn’t what he was supposed to say. He was meant to be the proverbial prodigal brother, and he thought he could be, he thought he would look at Clint and feel nothing, and be able to hide it, but it wasn’t like that.

He took the bag off his shoulders, tossing it carelessly by the wall, before crossing his arms in front on his chest and leaning against it himself. He was expected to make some sort of plea, or apology, but the words wouldn’t come out. If would be easier if he didn’t have something to apologize for. Luckily, his speech was interrupted by Clint. Unluckily, Clint’s words were close to a mad man’s rant, and Barney found himself wondering if he had actually gone insane. “What?” He looked at him with a deep frown. To find their estranged brother of 30 years to take him out of an apartment? “No.” He said, with a shake. ”I haven’t had a job in a long time. That’s why I’m here, actually.” There. No big speeches necessary. “I need a place to crash.”

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Clint Barton
 Posted: May 7 2018, 11:11 PM
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wearin' our vintage misery
Fighting was what they knew best. Maybe a good punch or two would have better smoothed out the tension between them, would have actually rectified whatever crap was still brewing from years of resentment, but honestly? Clint was tired. So much shit had happened over the course of his life, and he was just trying to stay afloat. It shouldn't have been so hard, but no matter what he did, no matter how hard he fought, he was always the same distance from the metaphorical shoreline. There was always something to throw him off his game, so now it had simply hit the point where he was exhausted of throwing himself headfirst at the problem.

Maybe he'd picked up a thing or two about thinking critically, finally. Not everything could be so simply resolved - and not everyone was what they first seemed. It was shocking to see his brother there, sure, but there had to be some reason why he was here. He wouldn't turn up for no reason. Everyone had a motive, even family - and maybe that was why it was impossible to properly settle down. He was always looking for angles, always searching for someone trying to manipulate, and that was just as exhausting as hurling himself into no-win situations.

"I do," Clint admitted frankly, much as it made him feel guilty to say aloud. His world hadn't stopped when Barney had "died". He'd kept on living, and other people had filled that gap that had been left. He had Tasha, he had his team, his neighbors- hell, he even had a dog now. And maybe it wasn't perfect, but it was something. There were people that he could rely on, and wasn't that what family was meant to be?

It was something that he still had trouble with, though - and he'd have even more difficulty with it now that his blood brother was standing right here. No doubt the most pressing issue was this his immediate problems made absolutely no sense to anyone who wasn't directly involved. (They might have made sense if he'd explained better, but it was complicated. How the hell was he meant to detail the entire story and not lose someone in the process?) "Nothing, forget it," he sighed, scrubbing at his face.

At least the request was somewhat more manageable. A moment of indignation surged to life, though, and he shot a disgruntled look at his elder brother, flat displeasure in his expression as he deadpanned, "Twenty-odd years of pretending to be dead and you just roll the hell up without warning to ask for a place to stay?" It figured, though. Rolling his eyes, the archer's attention drifted to the exuberant dog that had finally come back, fingers ruffling through the lab's fur as he tried to decide what the hell to do. The decision was already made, though; they probably both knew it. Clint had somehow developed a reputation for taking in strays, and sooner or later, word would have found its way back to Barney.

Watching a car drive by for what felt like the fourth time in the past two hours, the blond finally responded (in a mildly terse tone), "The guy on 2B moved out two weeks ago. He left a bunch of furniture. It's either that or the couch in the loft."
Barney Barton
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Barney Barton
 Posted: May 14 2018, 06:33 PM
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Barney Barton
Trickshot
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forty-eight
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asdfg
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"I do." Two words, three letters, and they felt more of a betrayal than an arrow to the chest ever could. Barney didn't give a shit about 'being replaced', that wasn't the point, far from it. No one was irreplaceable, the very fact that needing anyone was a mistake was the lesson here. Families were a problem, and that everything they went through didn't teach Clint that, that his own betrayal of Clint didn't teach him that, it made Barney wonder if Clint had learned anything at all. He shouldn't have a family of his own, of any kind, and he shouldn't be letting Barney worm his way back. This, all that was happening, and all that was going to happen, it was all Clint's fault, because of that.

Barney, on the other hand, had learned things. He had learned to shove his feelings deep, and deeper still, until they were buried and suffocated. "Yeah, you never were smart enough to learn the first time." He said with a smile, as if he meant it as a joke.

"Five, technically." Barney said, his hand coming out to show the number, his fingers not fully stretched, but open in the bare minimum necessary to be counted as an open hand, before he crossed it back over his chest again. Barney knew to save his strength in the smallest of things. People like him, they needed to spare themselves for when it was really necessary. "I looked for you." He said, because it was true. It took Barney a while to learn his lesson, too. "During the Army, and after it." People were hard to find, especially people like them, who managed to fall between the cracks. "And after-" he double-tapped the spot on his chest again. "-too." Until the day HYDRA came, and told him where he was.

"And then, I see you on national television, shooting down aliens with 'The Mightiest Heroes on Earth'." or so went the newscaster. "I figure it ain't the right time." Not when HYDRA didn't think it was the right time, was the truth. Not when Clint was a big damn hero, and Barney was a two-bit crook running in some crimeboss' outfit, went the cover story.

"I hear you went semi-retired. Not living the luxury life of Stark Towers anymore, and, well, my business went bust. It felt like the time to go legit. Get myself a job and a credit history and a retirement plan that isn't a bag of money under a floorboard somewhere." The last one was a lie; Barney wasn't naive enough to believe he was going to live long enough to retire.

The dog was back, and Barney had worked with enough K-9 units to know this one was barely a step above feral. He wagged and slobbered, and was demanding, and it was clear Clint absolutely loved it. "I'll take the place where I don't have to hear you snoring." Barney said, picking his bag back up, and walking around the two to make his way inside. He knew a lot more now, of who his brother had become, and the next steps, and he needed time to figure out what was next.

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