Prompt: #349 – radius
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters are copyright of Joss Whedon and ME. Avengers and all related characters are copyright of Marvel Entertainment, Paramount Pictures and Stan Lee. No infringement intended.
Note: Apparently this series will be told out of sequence, but at least there’s more of it. Thank you for reading!
Synopsis: First impressions; you can get more than one.
White foam dipped, forming a circular ripple in the surface of his Peroni and Clint Barton watched it, amused that the bass reached well into the second floor of the club. A floor that was scattered with tables and a few couches; all strategically placed to give the illusion of privacy. He’d seized one such table that placed him equal distance between the stairs and the emergency exit tucked behind a black curtain—he was pretty sure that was a fire hazard.
Clint snagged the vibrating beer and leaned back in his chair to prop a boot along the bottom rung of the railing protecting the inebriated from a twelve-foot fall onto a crowded, and marble-tiled, dance floor. He’d been studying said dance floor from his vantage point for the better part of the of the evening and he’d been taking great enjoyment from watching his team swing and miss with a pretty blonde. Most of them only knew a few words of Italian and had thus zeroed in on one of the few patrons who spoke fluent English and she’d been gracious for the most part. Dancing with most of his guys and accepting more than a few drinks while Clint had watched, with growing amusement, her lose more than half of them into a nearby trashcan.
Clint been watching her since she’d entered the club but, he was fairly certain, for different reasons than his team. He’d noticed that her dress, while made of light material, covered far more than most of the other women and she held herself straight, chin high and shoulders back. Which tended to imply she either had excellent posture or was hiding a weapon, most likely a bladed one, down her side and if Clint were to guess he’d say the weapon would be on her left. She’d held all her free drinks in her right hand and when she danced she led minutely with her right side, he’d wager that was her dominant side, and a cross chest draw was always easier than an under arm.
She also carried herself with the confidence of someone who understood how their body moved and was in perfect control of that body, a confidence that was usually only found in dancers or someone who studied rigorously in a martial art. His arm rose as he continued his perusal and he took a sip of his beer as he admitted, at least to himself, that her lack of visible tan lines might have also garnered some of his attention.
Though in the last thirty he’d noticed a slight change in her demeanor; her brush-offs of his men had held a harsher edge and her smile was sharper, more forced as she studied a particular couple on the dance floor. She’d remained within a ten foot radius of the pair and, normally, he’d have brushed it off as a jealous ex watching their past significant other with their newest conquest, but the predatory vibe he’d been getting from the blonde put him on edge.
Especially when she maneuvered her way closer to the pair and he lost visual for a moment, which had him standing to get a better view and he saw that the woman of the pair was now wearing the blonde’s drink. Irritation flickered across the brunette’s face and she narrowed her eyes on the blonde who was apologizing profusely and now dragging the other girl from the dance floor and leaving behind a confused and disgruntled guy staring after them. They slipped beneath the stairs towards the hallway that led to the bathrooms and Clint found himself heading down those steps.
The base was thicker on the first floor; he could feel it vibrating in his chest as he ducked beneath the stairs and slipped into the vacant hallway. He took another sip of his beer, the habit to look and act natural at all times ingrained into him, as he made his way down it and past the men’s restroom. The woman’s was at the end, directly adjacent to another, unobscured, emergency exit and Clint hesitated, glancing back and forth between the two. The music drowned out any and all other sound leaving him indecisive—a rarity for him—and at a loss as to which door to choose.
A choice was made for him when the woman’s restroom opened and the pretty blonde appeared; her hair in slight disarray and a flush to her cheeks. His gaze narrowed on her left side and the fact that her posture was less ridged, her shoulders having gained a slight slump in the few moments she’d been out of his sight. Her head inclined, green eyes assessing, as she noticed him staring and Clint smiled, slipping into another persona with ease, and greeted her with an easy, “Hello there.”
Her brows tugged together, but her mouth quirked at his words and she replied with a mild, “Hello.”
His inquiry brought on a wider smile and she pointed over his shoulder. “You passed it.”
“Ah,” he turned as if taking in her directions before offering her a wide smile, “Thanks.”
His brow nearly quirked at the deepening red of her flushed cheeks and he had a moment to contemplate how good she was before she was making her way past him and back to the crowd. He followed her a few feet, as if heading to the head himself, until she left the hallway and then he spun on his heel. Clint retraced his steps and pushed open the door to the ladies’, adding a slight stumble in case there were other women present, and found it surprisingly empty. His mouth turned down at the corners as he pushed open each stall and aside from one of them in need of a thorough dusting the brunette was nowhere to be found.
Clint stepped back, took another swig of his beer and turned in a complete circle to take in the entire room with one sweep of his critical gaze before sighing. There was a narrow window placed along the top of the far wall and he supposed she could have squeezed herself through, but he found that scenario lacking all facets of sense. He lifted his beer, prepared to take another sip when the bathroom door opened at his back and he stiffened before allowing his beer to dribble down the front of him.
With a slurred and muttered curse he turned around, prepared to act the intoxicated fool and hesitated, startled by the sight of the blonde filling the doorway. Her arms were crossed and one brow rose high above the other. “Either you have a thing for the ladies room or we have a problem on our hands,” a shrug lifted one of those tan shoulders, “and by we I mean me.”
Clint wiped away the bit of beer he’d spilt on his chin and gazed at that pretty face at it twisted into a frown. His mind worked though the best versus worst case scenarios even as his mouth countered with an innocent, “Ma’am?”
Green eyes narrowed and he quickly assessed that someone didn’t like their age even as she stepped further into the room, allowing the door to close behind her and Clint went into worst case mode as she stated, “I noticed you watching me from your perch,” she sighed, “I’d hoped it was just cause you found me pretty.”
“I do,” Clint assured her and smiled at her frown, “Find you pretty that is.”
“There’s a but buried in there somewhere.”
His smile stretched wider at the casualness of her reply even as her hands lowered from being wrapped around her waist to hang loss at her sides. He didn’t bother to reply to her assessment of his statement and instead dropped his beer. Her gaze dropped with it, distracting her and Clint lunged, catching her small shoulders in either hand and shoved her backwards, into the tile wall. He let go of her on impact, attempting to evade a full on confrontation and reassess the situation as he turned to slip out the door, but her hand settled over his shoulder at the same time his fingers wrapped around the doorknob and spun him back around.
He blocked the blow she aimed for his face and winced at the force behind it as his forearm went numb where it absorbed the impact and he dodged her next swing. Clint stepped into her then and brought his closed fist into the underside of her jaw, her head jerked with the impact but it didn’t appear to phase her—at all. Aside from pissing her off, if he could gleam anything from the glare she was shooting his way now, and she blocked his next three jabs and a knee before he found himself on the receiving end of a truly vicious head butt.
The impact sent him stumbling backwards into the ceramic wall that housed the bathroom stall and it shuddered under his weight, but held him up as the blonde squared her shoulders. He took a step forward, more than willing to meet her halfway but she was suddenly in front of him and palm-slapping his chest. He impacted that wall for a second time, it groaned in protest and the tiles it was bolted into cracked. His opponent seemed to hesitate with her palm on his chest, eyes suddenly wide and he used her distraction to his advantage as he caught her shoulders and drove his knee into her side.
A ragged gasp escaped her and Clint shoved her suddenly winded body away from him and into the tile wall before darting for the door. He managed to open it that time and exited the bathroom, smiling at the two women making their way down the hall towards him and they frowned at Clint. One of those frowns turned suspicious as he pushed past them and he ignored their disgruntled responses to his rudeness as he hit the dance floor and made a round up motion in the air before making his way out of the club and into the cool night air.
His team fell in step behind him only moments later and Clint spared enough time to state, “We have a problem,” before leading them back to the safety of their hotel.
Clint fell in step behind Coulson as they exited the elevator, allowing the other agent to lead him along the top floor of the US Grant Hotel. The carpet beneath his feet felt plush and a brow quirked with the high-ceilings wasted on a hallway, but they were heading towards the presidential suite and appearances seemed to be everything for this particular hotel. Clint shook his head even as he straightened the already smooth lines of the jacket of his tailored suit and the slight weight of his gun, at the small of his back, was comforting—if a little awkward.
He knew they were on their way to pick up a civilian that Fury was in want of but who had, for the most part, managed to elude all previous attempts at a face to face meeting between herself and the director. Coulson had been the face of Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, which Coulson had taken to calling SHIELD as of late, and he’d made some progress, but it wasn’t until thirty-six hours before when the other agent had simply walked out on a briefing because Summers had called and requested his assistance.
Clint had found himself on the next transport to San Diego, the nearest SHIELD base and setting up transport home for Six Army Rangers and Natasha, who was currently awaiting their arrival at the base with Fury, had set up hotel accommodations and filling the three requests Summers had made of coffee, a shower and a change of clothing before her meeting the director. “So why did she cave?”
Coulson turned his head, presenting him with a view of his profile and the slight quirking of his mouth, as he explained, “Specialist Summer and her team were in a bit of a,” he paused, considering his words before settling on, “Situation and we were able to help them.”
“Of course we were.”
“It’s what we do.”
They shared a smile and then Coulson continued turned, leading him a few more feet before stopping at the only door down this particular hallway. His hand rose, knuckles forward and he rapped gently at the door. Clint quirked a brow at the gentlemanly behavior since the other agent was more prone to kicking in doors than knocking on them. Several silent moments passed before Coulson’s head inclined and Clint could picture the pinched look on his face as he knocked again, only harder.
“Sorry, sorry,” was heard from the opposite side as it opened, revealing another hallway and petite woman who smiled up at Coulson before stepping back and allowing them entry. “I’m running late because that bathtub is distracting.”
“Are you finding everything to your liking?” Coulson replied as he stepped forward and gave Clint enough room to enter behind him.
“I did,” she closed the door as she continued, “You should have just offered this suite sooner. The bathroom alone is worth the meeting.”
“I’ll keep that in mind the next time we require your assistance.”
Clint listened to their interaction with an amused smile fixed on his face while he allowed himself to study the woman Fury had been so interested in and had a sudden sense of nagging familiarity. Her hair was still damp, making the color indistinguishable, and the black robe she had wrapped around herself was several sizes too large. She’d rolled up the sleeves to expose delicate looking wrists and those wrists were moving as she questioned Coulson.
“Should I be impressed or frightened that my dossier contained what lotion I use?” Coulson merely smiled and she shook her head before directing her gaze and one of those wrists at Clint as she offered him her hand. “Buffy Summers.”
His head inclined, smile still in place as he studied her, and accepted her firm handshake. He was unsurprised, since she was up for possibly recruitment, to find calluses lining her palm and the wrist held up just fine against his own. They locked gazes as they shook hands and he watched something slip behind her gaze, some sort of understanding, and the welcoming smile slipped from her face. It was replaced by a confused frown, a frown Clint wholly understood, as she suddenly inquired, “Have we met?”
“I’m not sure.” He admitted, retrieving his hand and glancing over to see Coulson’s frown. “You look familiar, but…”
He trailed off, at a loss for words and she nodded. “Exactly.”
“Well that cleared up nothing,” Coulson’s quiet observation and quirked brow brought Clint’s spine up and he focus back on the task at hand as the other agent turned to Summers and inquired, “So the meeting?”
“Right!” She offered Clint one last sheepish smile before nodding, “Give me fifteen,” she reached up and squeezed the dampness of her hair before flinching, “Make that thirty!”
His amused smile was back, and not entirely forced, as he watched her make a hasty retreat up the three steps leading out of the hallway and into what appeared to be the spacious interior of the suite. Coulson followed her and Clint fell in step once again as the bathroom door to their left slammed closed and they were suddenly in the dining area with a spectacular view of the San Diego Bay.
“Care to explain.”
He turned with Coulson’s statement, which was more of an inquiry, and sighed. “Wish I could.”
“Director Fury will want one.”
“Don’t I know it.”
“Just so we’re clear.”
“Good.” Coulson turned to study the view as well and a silent moment past before he finally inquired, “What happened in Budapest?”