Barney has a plan. Barney doesn't share the plan. Clint would've opposed the plan.
Working with Clint was a bit of an eye-opener for Barney.
He had known, in a fairly relative way, that Clint was good at what he did. He’d known long before they left the circus that Clint was a damn good shot; he’d been more than a little jealous about it really. Teenagers were slighted by the smallest of things, and Barney was always very prideful. His little brother besting him at something didn’t sit too good with him. Of course Clint’s natural charm didn’t help matters either, but it didn’t really matter in the long run. Barney knew that Clint was able and competent, with a bow, with a knife, with swords, apparently also with kitchen utensils, but Barney would place the blame for that firmly on M’diva.
Of course, that natural charm did come in handy once again. While Clint dealt with Dudek’s little minions, it left Barney the opening to broke a deal with Dudek without too much interference or interest from unwanted ears.
Usually, Barney wasn’t all that bothered with gun runners or arms deals. But there was an old associate that he knew, right now, was looking for a big pay off. Barney could get Dudek’s goods at an undercut price and Veichov could benefit from the high end weapon trade. It was that simple. Provided all went well.
The last week and a half hadn’t been utter hell for Clint. Just really boring compared to his usual ways to spend his time. Granted he could’ve just been driving himself crazy at Barney’s apartment instead, but that would likely result in a few unfortunate incidents itself.
So far, he’d been dragged to a strip club, been to four parties, almost choked to death in a smoke den, had four bar fights, been fed nothing but Polish delicacies (“You’ll like this little America, try these my little friend, this is the apple pie of Poland little one” which was more annoying because Sobczak was only just two inches taller than him) and had to brush up on said language since they refused to speak English at all.
Which, okay, not a terrible way to spend his time, Sobczak, Czarnecki and Gorski were the apparent side men to Dudek, who was supposedly some Polish businessman attempting to expand into America. The Three Stooges, as Clint had taken to mentally referring to them after bar fight number two, had quickly latched on to Clint as their new play mate and scarcely let go.
But he wasn’t born yesterday, and he knew his brother well enough to know that all wasn’t as it seemed, and self-made Polish businessmen didn’t need to travel with three beefy, armed associates at all times. There was something not quite right about things, so Clint never really let his guard down too much around his three new babysitters.
And keeping an eye on Barney was obviously a must.
With Clint by the bar with the three side men, Barney got a moment to approach a deal with Dudek, sitting near an alcove in the lobby bar of The Carlyle hotel. Dudek was due to leave in 14 hours, Barney was approaching crunch time and knew that it had to be now.
Business always waited until the last minute with these sorts of deals. Even if Barney already had a nice little payoff from the nine days work he’d put in, there was always the promise of a bigger payoff, and that wasn’t something he turned away from easily. Unlike Clint, Barney wasn’t fluent in Polish, he barely even caught half the words that prattled out of Clint and his buddies mouths. Thankfully, Dudek was less inclined to ignore the communication barrier of only speaking his home tongue.
“I do think we’ve gotten to the point where we should broach our original business arrangement.” Barney brushed at the front of his suit jacket, crossing one leg over the other as he leaned back in his chair, his peripheral vision catching Clint and Dudek’s three bodyguards, while making sure not to look away from Dudek himself. Arms dealers, however below the radar they were, shouldn’t be trusted for a second.
“I agree, Mister Anderson,” Dudek’s accent was heavily emphasized, something that was oddly annoying at the best of times really. “You know of my asking price, I have made that very clear to you.” Asking price was currently a cool million American dollars for four crates of AKM assault rifles, 16 Italian SxS express rifles and a twelve cases of ammunition for both. In Barney’s opinion, not over priced, but still something that could be bartered down with a little haggling.
“My buyer is willing to offer $750k,” for better or worse, Barney got his poker face from his father. He knew all of his own tells, so it was easy to curb them and keep himself at bay. His Russian associate was fine with the million dollar payout, but Barney was fairly sure he could shave a little off and pad out his own expenses a little in the process. “He can get Russian and Italian grade weapons for half of what you’re asking.”
Watching Dudek carefully, Barney noted the twitch by his eye and the clenching on his jaw, knowing he’d hit a sore spot before the Polish man even moved, slamming his fist down on the table, drawing his guards attention away from whatever Clint was doing.
While it was only three in the afternoon, Clint found that he was already being pulled into yet another drinking game. This one he was sure was made up, like the first one he played, although he couldn’t be entirely sure, because Czarnecki’s explanation totally counteracted Gorski’s rendition of things while Sobczak just drank non-stop.
Natasha was right about Polish alcohol though, and Clint noticed it more and more as they broke into the high end stuff the hotel had on offer. He was half convinced that these guys were purposely trying to get him completely shit faced, which meant his hackles went up and he started playing his own con.
He was just that side of tipsy, mirroring Gorski and Czarnecki while Sobczak was practically to the falling over point of drunkenness, when Dudek slammed his fist down on the table, grabbing everyone’s attention. Gorski was the most obvious in moving for his weapon, while Clint just swiveled to look full on at Barney with an inquisitive eyebrow raise.
“Chwileczkę, małego przyjaciela.” Clint almost laughed at the pat on the back he got from Czarnecki as he moved off towards Dudek and Barney, stern look on his face while Clint started another sweep of the place covertly to recalculate all the exits and threats.
Trust Barney to pull this shit now.
Locked in a stare with Dudek, Barney felt more than saw a presence looming closer. Just the one, so that was at least a little better than all three of Dudek’s men suddenly flanking him. A quick glance told Barney that the beefiest of the three had remained by the bar, standing ramrod straight next to Clint with a hand on his hip by his gun, the other was slowly slumping over the bar while the tallest of the three was coming to Dudek’s side.
They started muttering to each other in Polish, and Barney wondered just how much of their conversation Clint could hear, and just how much of that Barney would be better off he not hear. It wasn’t something he could really allow himself to focus on, since he had to make sure to read everything about Dudek and his man’s body language, what with him barely understanding a word coming from their mouths.
Note to self, work on language understanding. He really needed to at least learn the basics of his business associates languages it seemed. It pretty much came to a head when Dudek sneered slightly, pushing himself up in his chair and glancing over to Clint. Well, this might’ve gone sideways.
If the standoffish poses weren’t enough to give it away, Dudek’s rant to Czarnecki was more than enough for Clint to quickly catch up on the game here and pretty much kick himself for not calling Barney on this shit when it started to raise some flags. He had to try and keep his body lax, fighting his own urge to tense up in preparation for what he was sure was going to descend into an all out brawl in the hotel bar. Thank God there was only two members of staff covertly trying to edge out the door too.
The very short and succinct, “Zabić ich,” as Dudek stood up only made Clint roll his eyes, almost hard enough to fucking hurt, as Gorski pulled out the gun this time, already moving to aim it at Clint’s head.
“So much for Polish hospitality.” Gorski was a fucking bear, there was no way to bring him down quickly and with the barrel almost at his temple not even Clint had the time to get his own weapon out. He had to go for a more evasive move first, edging back just as the weapon fired, catching the gunpowder burn at the side of his face while shifting to go for the automatic cip release and the chamber eject to disarm Gorski.
Which unfortunately gave Sobczak ample opportunity to get his hands on Clint’s shoulders and drive him face first into the hotel bar with a smack.
Barney had to suppose that Dudek’s unwillingness to get his hands dirty had to be a blessing. He had enough time to catch Clint not having his head blown in before henchman number three became his main focus and Barney just had to count on Clint really being smart enough right then.
Czarnecki didn’t instantly go for his gun, which meant that Barney went offensive first and foremost, swinging out with a fist for the Pole’s tense jaw before bringing his other arm around for a gut shot. He’d been with Clint and the merry three in two of the four apparent bar fights, meaning he already knew that these guys didn’t pull their punches at all.
It took almost all of Barney’s former army training to keep pace with the guy; he wasn’t exactly good, but he was big and strong, which made for a risky combination. Especially considering Clint’s condition with two of them.
Reeling not only from the burning against his cheek from the gunpowder, but also from the collision his face had with the bar, Clint took a moment too long to recover from the assault on his face. Gorski opted for his knife rather than getting a spare clip, and only extremely well tuned survival instincts got Clint out of the way of the blade in time.
Clint’s hand-to-hand close combat might be sloppy, not nearly where his mastery was, but years at Natasha’s side for sparring and battle meant that he knew when to instinctively rely on just his gut to save his life. Dodging the blade almost knocking him into Sobczak, and while that was a bad place to be, the bulky guy was near falling over drunk and Clint was a good few steps back from that.
Driving his knee up into Sobczak’s sternum, Clint got the larger guy doubled over before bringing his elbow down into his neck, laying him out on the floor with a grunt. Clint just wasn’t fast enough to fully avoid Gorski’s stab second attempt, the knife catching the underside of his upper arm, slicing through the suit jacket and shirt with ease.
“Motherfucking-- Ow!” Pure reaction drove Clint to the backhand across Gorski’s face, even if it likely did more damage to Clint’s knuckles than anything else, before the knife was shifted in position and brought down in an effort to stab at Clint’s chest. Blocking Gorski’s wrist with his arm, Clint and the giant bear of a man ended up in a bit of a stand off, struggling for a moment against the other’s strength.
When it came down to it, really came down to it, Barney couldn't honestly say that he was overly pre-occupied with Clint right then. His main concern was, as it always was, himself. Naturally he had some common fighting skills, likely not as extensive as some other people he could mention, but decent enough to get by. But he wasn't overly strong, or especially fast. What Barney was, and what he hated most, was average. He was just all around average.
Fending off the basic attacks from Czarnecki were simple enough, both of them easily disarming the other and falling into series of blows and counter blows. At least until Czarnecki got the upper hand in a rather underhanded way. In a move that left Barney with two undoubtedly broken fingers, Czarnecki turned the trade of blows into a stand off in an instant. With both of the man's massive hands clenched around Barney's throat, his arms locked in place, Barney could do little to break the hold while dark spots started to dance around his vision.
A deal gone sideways didn't even begin to cover what happened here.
Since there was absolutely no way to win a battle of strength against Gorski, what with him being twice Clint's size, more in Steve's league of things, and Clint's arm already protesting under the possible muscle damage, Clint had to resort to yet more school yard (or so he assumed) tricks that he and Nat occasionally had to break out in their spars. Since Gorski really didn't have hair for Clint to pull, and he'd rather not put his teeth near the man, Clint went for the one thing that any man really shouldn't stoop to.
The crotch shot.
The release of Gorski's hold was instantaneous, and Clint wasted no time in shifting his knee to Gorski's face to knock the man back on his ass. Which was when he heard the choking sound from Barney and once again, training kicked in.
There was little thought that went into things, simply the fluid move of drawing his gun from his holster and pulling the trigger. The bullet embedded in Czarnecki's head dead on target, dropping the man without pause and breaking the hold on Barney.
With Gorski laid out, Dudek slinking off in a corner, Sobczak on the ground and Czarnecki making a mess on the table cloth and floor, Clint counted it as time to get the hell out of dodge right then. Holstering his gun, he crossed the floor to grab Barney's elbow before dragging him through the back of the bar, towards the kitchen, muttering under his breath while checking that neither Gorski or Sobczak was following them.
"You fuckin' lunatic."
It took more than a good few minutes for Barney's vision to stop swimming, for the air to steady into his lungs and his head to clear up. They were in the kitchen by then, weaving through all the people, while Barney's mind caught up with everything that just happened. Which was when he noticed the blood on Clint's face, and felt the blood on his own face.
"You killed him."
Possibly stating the obvious, since it wasn't just blood on Barney's face and neck, it was brain matter splattered there, but it just sort of fell out. Sure, Barney was aware that Clint likely had killed before, digging around Clint's history drew up a lot of blank spaces, specifically the last ten years or so, which meant there were things going on that were kept hush hush. But even without that, the name 'Hawkeye' wasn't just thrown around in the underbelly of the world either, since there was more than one person Barney had run into that cursed Clint's codename like it was something foul.
Pulling his arm from Clint's grasp, a little more than annoyed at being dragged off like a toddler, Barney just stopped where they were in the middle of the hot, crowded kitchen. "You just blew his fucking head off, and I'm the lunatic?"
"Are you fucking kidding me right now?" It didn't matter if they were surrounded by people that were whispering, giving them wide berth and surreptitiously trying to attract someone else's attention or not. Clint honestly couldn't believe that this was where their conversation was taking place, nevermind that they were actually having it.
"Would you rather I just let him strangle you?" Clint wasn't even about to go into the fact that this whole mess was Barney's fault. Idiot and his big fucking schemes. Clint was bleeding from a likely broken nose, had gunpowder burns on his jaw and a laceration likely down to the muscle on his arm. He was not about to argue the semantics over Czarnecki's death right then.
"We don't have time for this, I am not arguing about this in the middle of a fucking crime scene." Not only was Natasha going to kick his ass for getting himself stabbed, she'd likely do it for him getting his ass in this trouble to start with. Not to mention the potential shit storm from the fact that there was a dead body in the hotel bar and hotels like this had fucking surveillance cameras.
He was so fucking screwed that he just did not have time to argue with Barney about it.
"Oh, I don't know, how about aiming for the arm? Or his leg? Or just punching him?" Barney wasn't exactly used to having his associates brains blown out in front of him, least of all someone he'd just spent nine days with. Sure, people died, but the fact that Clint just so cooly and calmly pulled the trigger on a kill shot with a guy he'd been drinking with not twenty minutes before hand? It was a little unsettling.
Which said a lot about Barney's apparently misguided opinion on his little brother.
"Do you even know what you've done?" It wasn't the killing part there, not really, he was more than sure that Clint was well aware of this, but Dudek, God, this was going to be some out of control crap. "Cli--"
Barney didn't get to finish as a piercing scream from one of the female kitchen staff halted them, drawing attention for Gorski marching through the kitchen, gun already raised. Barney cursed under his breath, dodging to the side and behind a stove as bullets started firing.
As if the scream wasn't enough, Clint actually had to be standing next to the valve that Gorski hit, another screeching noise filling up the kitchen while screams started left, right and centre. With Barney going one way, Clint went the other, ending up behind a shelving unit just as he started to feel the tight, lancing burn in his side.
"Oh fu--" He hated being shot, like actually hated it. Not just in the 'well this sucks' kind of way but in the 'no someone needs to fish out a bullet' kind of way, because fuck his life really. Couldn't even get a through and through right then? "So can I kill him, or do you wanna talk it the fuck out with him?"
They were severely limited with options right then, since Stooge Number One was firing so wildly that there was no option but to let him run out of fucking bullets right then before even thinking of moving.
There was no way Barney was going to be able to do any sort of business with Dudek or Veichov or half the Russian mob now. He'd burned through an alias, probably through a decent amount of the money he'd made from this, likely got himself a fucking hit on his head and now Clint was getting pissy and bitching.
This was absolutely not how things were meant to go.
"Oh, by all means, kill him, definitely kill him!" If Clint wanted to take that shot -and you know what, screw him, he could make it, the little fucking show off- then that was fine. He could do it. Barney couldn't care less right then.
Poking at his side, making sure that his ribs hadn't moved and he wasn't at risk of puncturing his own lung right then, Clint just rolled his eyes, listening for Gorski's clip to empty before turning from behind the shelves and firing two bullets, one centre mass and the other in his head. The screams only intensified at that while the kitchen staff suddenly started running through into the hotel.
"Back door, now!" They still had a chance for some kind of escape, and Clint was not about to waste it. With the route to the door mostly clear, Clint still kept his weapon in hand, grabbing a discarded towel on the way to press to his side over the bullet wound, wincing slightly before following Barney through the loading exit at the back of the kitchen out into the alley between the hotel and it's neighbouring building.
Leaning back against the wall for a second, to catch his breath and try and manage the pain for just a moment, Clint just watched Barney pace back and forth. He was still trying to figure out if Barney even realised just how stupid he'd been, trying to pull a con on some fucking gun runners, and just how mad he was that Barney hadn't just fucking told him they were damn gun runners to start with.
Honestly, Barney couldn't even tell what it was that had pissed him off to the point of pacing back and forth right then.
He'd been in worse spots before, and really it wasn't that big a deal. So Clint had killed a couple of arms dealers, that sort of thing was probably the usual for him. It just so happened that they were associates of an associate of a friend, and that just got convoluted. And he was out luck on a pretty big deal.
God, he was going to be lying low for weeks now. Maybe months. And fucking Clint, just standing there all...
"Why're you holding your side?"
Clint just rolled his eyes again, dropping his head back against the wall, listening out for any indication of sirens right then. "That would be the bullet that went in my side." At least his face had stopped bleeding, from what he could tell, and hopefully if his nose was broken it'd be an easy fix.
Fuck if he knew where he'd be going for that fix, because his options were greatly fucking limited right then.
"On odmówił cenę. Nie ma negocjacji. Bierzemy pistoletów." He couldn't even work up the energy to put much into it, just muttering out what Dudek had said to Czarnecki before the shit kicked off. Of course, Barney didn't speak Polish, so that had to be translated. "It means 'he refused to pay. No negotiations. We keep the guns'."
The exhaustion from it all was starting to creep in, and Clint was finding it hard to actually build up enough steam to even care about Barney's reasoning. "Now I'm just wondering why the fuck you thought it was a good idea to go in blind against gun runners without filling me in on that tiny little detail?"
Yeah, of course Clint had heard it all, of course even if he hadn't, by that point it was kind of impossible to not know that Dudek wasn't in the home appliance business. More than likely, Clint knew that from the start, he just didn't know what exactly Dudek was involved with.
Barney wasn't in the habit of laying things out like they were, secrets were just part and parcel. Realistically, he probably would've been better had Clint known the full story, but he was sure that knowing exactly what it was that was going on, Clint would've walked away. And Barney didn't want to admit it, but he'd rather have had Clint in the dark and there than not. Even if things didn't turn out like they should've.
"I figured it was better for you not to know. Plausible deniability, right?"
"No," plausible deniability only worked when no one fucking died. "No, in that case it would've been ten times better to know that those were gun runners. That at any point you were going to end up pissing one of them off and that's when shit hits the fan. You don't con international terrorists, Barney."
Whatever Barney's business was, whatever his little 'personal bodyguard' thing was a front for, Clint didn't care. He never honestly thought Barney would do the straight and narrow thing anyway. The fact that he hadn't been dishonourably discharged from the Army was surprising enough, never mind his undercover stuff for the Feds.
"I cannot believe you, I--" He should've just listened to Natasha and bailed out earlier in the week, moved the fuck on and gotten out of there. She'd been right that he was far too attached to things around New York. Usually, their differences made them better, but that only really worked when they were operating as a team.
His arm was feeling annoyingly heavy, the muscle tensing up and aching, his side a searing agony from the bullet wound. "Fuck, I can't believe that I was this fucking stupid again." He should've just listened to Hope and Nat and fucking Loki and not bothered with Barney at all. Clearly it was decidedly bad for his health.
"Yeah, well, hindsight is awesome isn't it." They could play the blame game all night, they were pretty good at that actually, since blaming each other for something seemed to be one of the only things they did consistently well. Either way, they had a mess to deal with and that was the main agenda. Barney figured he had to get some money moved, find a safehouse to bunk out and wait a few days before venturing out.
Although Clint might need medical attention or something first, even if that would slow everything down. "Do we need to get you checked out?"
Seriously? Clint honest to God couldn't deal with this. "We don't need to do anything. You can fuck off and do whatever the shit you want, I have to get a fucking bullet fished out of my side." And his partner, the person he'd usually go to was across a fucking ocean. He wasn't even sure about taking this to Hope, least of all how Loki said she was being. And then of course there was Loki and--
"Such a fucking clusterfuck." The clothe against his side was starting to soak through, so the wound definitely needed checking out, and off the top of his head he could think of three people he'd trust with this. "I would strongly advise that you don't show your face for a good long fucking time." And that was about all the warning Clint felt like giving Barney.
One job, one damn job that went a little bit off the rails and Clint was already pitching a fit. Well, fine. It wasn't like Barney didn't do this for a living, however criminal it was. This was his gig, this was what he did. Clint could do his little secret agent bullshit, go off and just pull triggers mindlessly if that was what he wanted. Barney didn't care, he didn't need shit from his dead weight little brother.
Look after the kid for years and then one thing suddenly turns him into the bad guy? Well fine, they could keep those roles, Clint could keep his blood stained white hat and Barney would go off with his black cloak and dastardly plans.
"You know what, fine. You do that, you back out just like you always do. Don't even know why I expected anything else."
For the second time in their lives, Barney just shook his head and turned away, walking down the back alley. He had his own ass to cover, that was the most important thing. His life and his money. Clint could get screwed for all he cared.
Still kicking himself for the numerous half assed mistakes the last hour and a half brought, Clint headed in the opposite direction, using the wall for leverage until he got to the cross junction of buildings and the fire escape. It probably wasn't a great idea, but he'd be more conspicuous stumbling through crowds than he would teetering off building ledges.
He just had to figure out where the hell he was going now.