“…the fuck?” Clint narrowed his eyes slightly then closed his right, focusing entirely on the red-headed subject at the other end of his scope. His eyebrows drew together in confusion and he spat his dog-tags out so that he could be understood over the radio.
“…seriously, what the fuck?” he repeated, and his earpiece crackled.
“Which part of radio silence was difficult to understand, Specialist?”
“The part where the target is twelve. I’m not shooting a kid, no matter what SHIELD thinks she did.”
“…what?” Fir the first time in the three years that he’d known him, Clint heard hesitation and disbelief in his handlers’ voice. “No, that’s not right. This is Black Widow… she’s killed thirteen men, including two of our operatives. You sure there’s not just a kid hanging out there?”
“This red-headed kid is the only person for about two miles, other than me… and I think she’s… yep. She’s spotted me. Going silent.”
“Barton! DAMMIT YOU-” Clint cut Phil’s rant off with a tap to the tape on his neck holding his throat-mike in place, silencing his entire radio array, and got to his feet, keeping both eyes on the slim girl in torn jeans and an oversized black button-down shirt. She was barefoot and filthy, skinny but not emaciated, just pre-teen-kid skinny. She was also looking directly at him, two hundred and fifty yards away and he *knew* that she couldn’t see him. Intellectually, he knew that… but the way she was looking at his nest was just… unnerving.
He moved, slowly and deliberately lowering his rifle but in the second it took him to refocus from scope to distance the girl vanished.
He shifted in place and scanned the area, but there was no sign of her.
He didn’t actually speak, but he was letting loose a rather impressive string of swear-words (in several languages) inside his own head, because no way in hell should some not-quite-teenaged kid be able to get the drop on him like that.
Hell, he was Hawkeye. Nobody should be able to get the drop on him.
He sat there, half-twisted in his little nest and waited. If this girl was half as good as SHIELD was giving her credit for, then… well, he needed to be ready. He withdrew his grip from the rifle and reached down to grip his sidearm, flicking the safety off and ready to draw it the moment he heard anything.
He carefully kept himself still, and it was only his extensive training and self-discipline that stopped him from whipping his head around when he heard something crack above him, then a rush of air.
He moved just as she landed, rolling entirely onto his back and catching her in a bear hug, using his size in an attempt to overwhelm her, and failing rather miserably when a heel made high-velocity contact with his groin.
Two seconds later he found himself doubled over, gripping… himself… while the kid pointed his own sidearm at his face.
She was tiny, really tiny, with acid-red hair and pale skin, massive blue eyes and she was… she was terrified.
He uncurled, slowly, no sudden moves around the kid with the handgun, and shifted so that he was on one knee in front of her, then lifted his hands, showing her that he was unarmed, and reached out and gently brushed her hair back from her face.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” he told her, and she narrowed her eyes at him, setting her jaw and adjusting her grip on the pistol - the firearm was far too big for her delicate little hands, but she was certainly confident enough with it for Clint to be more than a little unnerved.
“I promise.” She was still glaring, so he switched to Russian. They were only 23 miles from Moscow, after all, and the rumors flying around all indicated that the Widow was Russian.
Unfortunately, Clint only knew a few phrases, and a lot of them were rather inappropriate for conversation with a kid at least fifteen years younger than him.
“Who hurt you?” he asked, because that was about the only thing he could think of to ask, that wouldn’t result in another kick to the balls, or the girl pulling the trigger on him.
They were like that for a solid minute, Clint’s pinkie finger brushing her jugular as her pulse slowly settled and eventually, when she realised that she had all the power and that he was being genuine, she lifted the gun.
“Nobody hurts me. If they try, I kill them.” she told him, and he took a moment to translate that inside his head.
“If I promise not to hurt you, will you not kill me?” he asked, and she cocked her head to one side, considering.
“Can I have my gun back?”
“Do you want a piece of chocolate?”
Her entire bearing changed. Suddenly, she was a kid. Just a kid, and the gun in her hand could have been a toy. She dropped the weapon to her side and her eyes lit up, she stepped forward and was smiling properly, now.
“If you give me back my gun, I’ll give you some chocolate.”
She considered this for a moment, before her gaze flickered down to the hunting knife strapped to his thigh.
“Knife and chocolate for gun.”