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24 July 2012 @ 08:11 pm
Fic: Failsafe  
Title: Failsafe
Rating/Warnings: PG13; suicidal thoughts and plans, mind/heart control, mild swearing
Length: 1506 words
Summary: He trusts her to take him out; she takes him back. She trusts him to bring her down; he brings her in.
Author Notes: written for the prompt tessaract!Clint + failsafe + "if I can just get close enough" from workerbee73 on the epic, wonderful be_compromised promptathon, with a touch of the prompt Morse code against her skin from sweetwatersong, and because of thinky thoughts triggered by workerbee73's meta.


He wakes in the night with a sharp intake of breath that cuts up his insides, flinging back the covers as he launches up into a sitting position.

Natasha creeps into his room not long after, finding him bent over his knees, hands fisted in the sheets and his sweat-soaked t-shirt clinging to his skin, going clammy as it cools. She slides into the bed next to him, turns on her side facing away, and nudges his hip with her butt in an unspoken command.

He strips off his t-shirt, dropping it to the floor, and lies back down, tucking himself around her and burying his face in her hair. The feeling of the soft cotton of her own t-shirt, which he thinks may actually have belonged to him originally, and her beating heart beneath his palms calms him, as does her familiar scent.

When his breathing has finally evened out, matching hers, he forces his hands down to her waist instead, so that he’s not groping her breasts when he’s in no state to follow through. There’s a gap between her rucked up top and the waistband of her pyjama bottoms. The little finger of his left hand comes to rest on her bare skin without him meaning it to and he leaves it there.

“Tasha?” he whispers against the nape of her neck.

She shows no signs of being awake, but then she never does.

For stopping me. For being willing to kill me. For not killing me.

He doesn’t know what to say, whether it should sound more like thanks or apologies, and he knows it’s nothing that she wants to hear.

You, he taps out, gently and slowly, in Morse Code with his little finger on the warm, smooth skin of her stomach. You, over and over, until she places her hand over his and presses, holding him still.

He doesn’t need to be on the Helicarrier to destroy it, but for the purposes of this plan, the plan that he has orchestrated, he does. For the purposes of this plan he has to get onto the bridge, where of course he will be seen by Fury and Hill and they, of course, will send Natasha after him, because they know that she can beat him.

Clint’s the best sniper they have, the best eyes, the best distance worker and tactician. Natasha though, she’s the best at close-up work, at hand-to-hand, and whilst she hates coming up with strategies she’s better at those than him too. Clint will argue for changing things, will start to root for a target, but Natasha will follow through, no matter what, if that’s what’s needed. She can keep her eyes on the larger picture whilst he sees everything, all the little details.

She can beat him in close combat because she’s better at it than him. She can take him out because she knows that it needs to be done.

She takes his bow out of action first. Then his knife. She’s everywhere and nowhere at once and he knows, even as he desperately yanks on her hair, that she’s going to win. He has to fight; the part of him that belongs to Loki is splintered into two, warring over whether or not him dying is good for Loki’s cause, but both parts know that Natasha dying with certainly help Loki and so h has to fight. It doesn’t matter. He knows that she can and will beat him.

He knows that she can take him out, but will she?

“Tasha,” he pleads.

She doesn’t kill him.

“The Tessaract is showing me so much,” Doctor Selvig says. “It’s more than knowledge; it’s truth!”

He sounds so excited, like a child given the best present in the world.

Later Clint will learn that the Doctor built a failsafe into his machine, to shut it down, and he will wonder if this is the moment he began. The moment Selvig realised that science is all very well but the truth is that it’s useful to have an off-switch, or something like that.

“What did it show you, Agent Barton?” says Loki and Clint replies, easily, “My next target.”

The Asgardian doesn’t ask him who or what, just what he needs, and it should not be this easy to evade the so-called God of Lies and Mischief.

Clint has never been and never wants to be a leader or commander. When it comes to strategy, to having a long-term plan that can’t be changed, Clint is not the go-to guy. He’s gone from foster home to foster home, from town to town with a travelling circus, from crisis to crisis in the military, and from mission to mission around the globe with SHIELD. He doesn’t have an ultimate goal, but he’s gotten good at hitching himself to people and organisations that’ll provide that for him. Loki has reached into him and taken up that role; appropriated Clint for his purpose.

What Clint is good at is tactics, changing plans and coming up with new ones to meet local conditions, adapting to the situation so that the strategy can be carried out. He’s used to change and can roll with it, capable of taking a step back and viewing things with an objective eye even when he’s in the thick of the action. It’s why Coulson gives him so much leeway and why even Fury asks for his advice on occasion.

Loki has provided the purpose and he’s left Clint to handle the details.

Part of Clint applauds his decision, because Clint will see to it that the details are indeed handled so that Loki’s overall plan will be achieved. He’s wedded to Loki’s purpose and he’s the best man for the job, so this is the best way to get it done.

However, Loki also wants Clint to attack SHIELD and Clint, well, Clint is as much of an advantage to SHIELD as he is to Loki and if SHIELD manages to reclaim Clint then that will be a blow to Loki’s plans, so there’s space there, some small amount of wriggle room, where Clint being taken out would be beneficial to Loki’s strategy. It will also be unbeneficial to the strategy, destroying the logistics part by taking out the guy doing the logistics, but Loki has left the details up to Clint to decide, it’s Clint’s choice to make, and the Tesseract has shown a truth to him as well as to Doctor Selvig.

The Tesseract has shown him his next target.

“I need a distraction,” he says. “And an eyeball.”

“You have heart,” Loki tells Clint, and then he takes it and fills it with his purpose.

He doesn’t feel any different, not really, just that the reason for everything now is what Loki wants instead of what Barney or SHIELD or anyone else wants; instead of what someone he chose to follow wants.

He finds that the distinction bothers him, that he can feel it bothering him, regardless of the fact that every action he takes is for Loki and every thought he has is for what Loki wants and every desire is to please Loki.

He still feels pissed off.

Hill rams head first into them whilst he’s trying to drive them clear of the base and Fury fires at them, which means other people are feeling somewhat pissed off too. That’s a little drop of comfort, even if they’re not pissed off on his behalf, that nestles next to his own anger and Loki owns neither.

He still has some small measure of self.

The Black Widow steps into his line of sight and Clint draws back his bow, waiting for the voice in his ear to call the shot.

She’s different to all the other times he’s observed her so far, whilst he’s been tracking her down, and to what he’s gotten from the file on her that SHIELD put together. It’s just little things, like the slight slump to her shoulders and the way she lets the blood drip from her hands instead of wiping them off on the inside of her skirt like she usually does. Of course there’s also the big thing: she’s stepped into his line of sight and she’s staying there.

She’s damn good at what she does. Before now he’d only managed to graze her as she fled across his sights, and that only because her other routes to safety had been cut off. He knows that she’ll have a read a file on him, produced by the infamous Red Room, just as he’s read one on her; that she’s aware of his aim, his talents, and his flaws.

The Widow turns her head in his direction, although there’s no way that she can see him, and the corners of her mouth curl up into a small smile.

The order comes.

Later, much later, she will tell him that she knew he could take her out and that she wanted him to.

He doesn’t kill her.
feeling: productiveproductive
(Deleted comment)
inkvoices: avengers:C/N always huginkvoices on July 26th, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
Thanking you! That morse code prompt has taken up residence in my brain. I think it's become headcanon, heh. I just love the idea of them silently communicating like that.

Glad you enjoyed it! :D
Alli Snow: movie // avengers // jeremy trapped in aallisnow on July 24th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
This makes me happy and sad at the same time. I like the backward flow of the narrative, and the characterization of Clint as something of a nomad, and of course the Morse code bit which is completely sigh-worthy...
inkvoices: avengers:C/N always huginkvoices on July 26th, 2012 07:57 pm (UTC)
I guess it kind of is happy-sad, because they have each other, but then to feel that they have to use each other as a failsafe... That morse code prompt crept into my head, took up residence, and doesn't plan on leaving *grins*. Glad you enjoyed the story :D
Korencybermathwitch on July 24th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
Ok, first of all, I flippin' LOVE how you've unwoven/reversed/undone the timeline here. That's fantastic.

I really love the idea that Clint's failsafe is putting himself in Natasha's way because he knows that she's capable of stopping him. That's really brilliant, that is. :D

And this bit:
What Clint is good at is tactics, changing plans and coming up with new ones to meet local conditions, adapting to the situation so that the strategy can be carried out. He’s used to change and can roll with it, capable of taking a step back and viewings things with an objective eye even when he’s in the thick of the action. It’s why Coulson gives him so much leeway and why even Fury asks for his advice on occasion.

I like the play of on-the-fly vs. long-term planning between the two them. It's another neat parallel/mirror of their approaches and personalities.

Great work! Thank you for sharing it! :D
inkvoices: avengers:C/N always huginkvoices on July 26th, 2012 07:29 pm (UTC)

I like playing with styles and the order of narratives - really pleased that you think it worked for this one! And I got a lot of thinky thoughts about Natasha being Clint's failsafe from workerbee73's meta on how they're equal opposites - the whole ying-yang, two side of the same coin thing - as well as filling the roles of hyper-masculinity and hyper-feminism in the film. The scene where Loki, Selvig, and Clint discuss what the Tesseracy shows coupled with Selvig designing a failsafe for his machine, that makes me question if Clint had a failsafe and if so what it was. Now, I can see no reason why Clint, so good at what he does and knowing that Natasha can take him, being on the helicarrier and facing Natasha, unless he meant to. And that plus the meta = he did mean to and Natasha is his failsafe.

I love all the ways that these two compliment each other whilst being different :)

Really glad you enjoyed it and thank you for the lovely comments :D
Korencybermathwitch on July 26th, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
I also <3 playing with narrative styles and language for effect as well as information and so on. This was really cool. I'm beginning to think that "what the Tesseract showed Clint" may be becoming a fic kink of mine...
Sunny: Avengers adventures in space brossunny_serenity on July 25th, 2012 03:39 am (UTC)

that is all.
inkvoices: bubbles and heartsinkvoices on July 26th, 2012 07:06 pm (UTC)
Wow, I GOT GIFFED! :D <3
A completely happy writer: Marvel - I've been compromisedlar_laughs on July 25th, 2012 07:10 am (UTC)
I love the order you put everything. It keeps up the suspense even though I know what's coming! The Morse code is such a fitting way to show the closeness (even more than just the holding on to each other) they have with each other. Love how you wove his history into this!

Love, love, love!
inkvoices: avengers:C/N always huginkvoices on July 26th, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
I like playing with styles and orders - glad it worked this time! And that morse code prompt stuck in my head after I read it, because it's such an intimate idea and the idea of them silently communicating whilst actually communicating, I love that.

Glad you enjoyed it so much! And thanking you for the lovely comments :D
a lanky brunette with a wicked jawintrikate88 on July 25th, 2012 12:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love this. I love the backwards timeline of it, the self-destruction that means something because it means there is a self, and how they get each other, so very, very much. Wonderful.
inkvoices: avengers:C/N always huginkvoices on July 26th, 2012 06:59 pm (UTC)
Thanking you! :D the self-destruction that means something because it means there is a self Exactly! That scene where Selvig, Loki, and Clint discuss what the Tesseract shows in the context of Selvig building a failsafe into the machine always hints at something more for me, and for Selvig to do that there must have been something left of him, yes? So what about Clint? Glad you liked it!
Heather: avengers-girl on firehjea on July 25th, 2012 02:06 pm (UTC)
I loved how you mirrored the endings together--the way they save each other instead of taking the other out. So well put together. Thank you!
inkvoices: avengers:C/N always huginkvoices on July 26th, 2012 06:56 pm (UTC)
I didn't realise it was a thing until I started writing it, but then they idea of them being each other's failsafe fit so well, especially with the ideas from workerbee73's meta always in the back of my mind for this. I'm pleased it worked for you and glad you enjoyed it :D
Sproidflying_android on July 25th, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. I am in awe of how you've crafted this story. It's so cleverly done, and your exploration of Clint's thoughts is just perfect. Such a brilliant take on Clint under Loki's control as well, how and why that plays out as it does. And them saving each other, planning for one outcome and then having the other person do the opposite of what was expected instead. Love this, so so much.
inkvoices: avengers:C/N always huginkvoices on July 26th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
Thanking you!!! I had thinky thoughts after reading workerbee73's meta on how Clint and Natasha take on hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine roles in the film and how they're the same, but also opposites, the whole yin-yang, two sides of the same coin thing. Anyhow, I thought that if Selvig could build a failsafe into the machine then surely Clint, so good at what he does, must have had his own failsafe? That seen where he, Selvig, and Loki discuss what the Tesseract shows always seemed to have more behind it for me. And then according to the meta's logic, the one person who could take Clint out would be his equal and opposite, and did he really need to get that close on the helicarrier, especially knowing that she'd be the one person who could take him out? So: FAILSAFE. Then when I started writing this I realised that it could also mirror him not killing Natasha when they first meet...

Also, Master Assassins: Expect The Unexpected ;)

So glad you enjoyed it :D
Hufflepuff Forever!: AVNG Clint/Tasha Yin-Yangjacedesbff on July 26th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
This is absolutely beautiful. So well done. :-)
Hufflepuff Forever!: HP I am that optimisticjacedesbff on July 26th, 2012 03:04 am (UTC)
I just read your blurb. WOW. I love that beyond the telling of it. I'm going to print it out and put it up in my classroom!
inkvoices: bubbles and heartsinkvoices on July 26th, 2012 06:26 pm (UTC)
I have it inscribed on a wrap-around leather bracelet as well. I love Neil Gaiman and how he manages to write things in a way that just unravels things that you already knew and puts tham back together in wonderful words :D I highly recommened his Sandman series (graphic novels) which is where the quote comes from. (But not to your students, if they're kids *grins*)
Hufflepuff Forever!: TW Scott/Allison Awkwardjacedesbff on July 26th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
They're in high school, but I'll check them out first. Heh. When I taught middle school, my students and I had this big thing about something-or-another because of a play we were doing (ninja cheerleaders, maybe? I teach drama - one never knows what we end up going on about). I mentioned that I had seen a movie on Hulu with a related title. The next day one of my students - an incredibly conservative young man whose father grew up Mennonite, of all things - came in and said that he looked up the movie and it was PORN!!! Lesson to self: always be VERY familiar with something before you tell your students about it! HELLO! LOL
inkvoices: avengers:lolinkvoices on July 26th, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
Ah. Well, Sandman can be graphic. Some of them I think might be okay, but some of them I'd say discretion advised, heh. Although there's a spin off comic where Death explains contraception and safe sex that was aimed at teenagers I believe.

Haha, yeah, 'Mum, Dad, Teacher recommended I watch porn!' = not good LOL
inkvoices: avengers:C/N always huginkvoices on July 26th, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
Thanking you! Glad you enjoyed it :D

(Can you tell I'm making my way through my inbox backwards lol)
workerbee73 on July 27th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC)
It's way too late where I am and I don't have the words but trust me when I tell you that this was perfect. And the way you layered in the meta so effortlessly--gah. I am sighing all the contended sighs right now. It's everything I'd hoped for and so much more. Gorgeous.
inkvoices: avengers:C/N always huginkvoices on July 27th, 2012 06:02 pm (UTC)
I'm so, so glad that this worked for you and that you think it fitted the meta! *twirls you* I didn't think I'd be able to pull off the thinky thoughts I had in fic form, so to hear that you think it's perfect is more than okay by me! :D
sweetwatersongsweetwatersong on July 27th, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
So first off, I highly approve of the Morse code. :) Shocker, I know. But the line about everything he's doing being for Loki, for someone else, always someone else, made me wonder if he had every done something for himself - I was answered when he didn't kill her. I also love that he deliberately chooses to get on the Helicarrier, because looking back you're right; it's not strictly necessary, but he does it anyway. Absolutely beautiful!
inkvoices: avengers:C/N always huginkvoices on July 28th, 2012 12:39 am (UTC)
Haha, good! I many have to write more Morse Code that is a bit happier, because seriously, I think that prompt of yours has taken up residence in my brain and refuses to leave :D

A few things bugged me in the film and when I read workerbee73's meta on how Clint and Natasha are equal opposites they came together for me - I don't see why Clint would put himself in the Helicarrier and that close to Natasha, the one who can take him out, unless he means to, and he say's the Tesseract shows him his next target, and Selvig had a failsafe...and so I gained headcanon. I'm glad it worked for you! And I'm all pleased smiles that you enjoyed the fic :D
rebelliousroserebelliousrose on March 12th, 2013 01:31 am (UTC)
"Hill rams head first into them whilst he’s trying to drive them clear of the base and Fury fires at them, which means other people are feeling somewhat pissed off too."

This is my absolute favorite line because it's like you reached into my Barton headcanon and wrote it.
inkvoices: avengers:assassins smileinkvoices on March 13th, 2013 12:31 am (UTC)
Thank you! Everyone's pissed off, it's a thing ;) Glad you liked the fic :D