Through the scope, Clint watches Kate lean against the side of one of New York’s many skyscrapers, taking a deep breath before going in. He touches his earpiece, “Breathe kid, you’re going to do fine.”
Her eyes crinkle under the sunglasses and he hears, “you say that, but you’re up there and I’m down here.”
"Yeah, but you have me watching your back. You’ve never been safer, trust me.”
He clicks the mute on his earpiece and sighs deeply. He remembers his first solo mission. The beat of his heart in his throat, the slick sweat running down the back of his neck, the way that his feet were lead blocks under four hundred feet of water. Clint knows what it’s like to be young and afraid. But someone had been watching over him the same way he watched over Kate and he knows that she’s going to be fine.
Clint takes a deep breath and settles in behind the gun. He’s not used to guns anymore. Of course, he’s still the best damn marksman on this side of the Milky Way, but still - he’s nervous. He counts as Kate steps out from the shadow of the building, briefcase clutched in one delicate hand. With the other, she lifts her sunglasses and sets them atop her head. Yeah, she’s doing fine.
Fifty steps, he breathes. A black stretch limousine pulls up to the curb she waits at. Twenty steps, he breathes. Kate shifts on her feet, backing up slightly as the door to the vehicle swings open. 10 steps, he breathes. Public execution was just the worst. Two men in black suits emerge from the car, flanking Kate as another exits.
A bodyguard steps in line of the scope as he closes the car door.
Kate smiles brightly, shaking the target’s hand with professional zeal.
Clint moves his finger to rest on the trigger.
One of the body guards holds his hand up, the universal signal for ‘hold’.
Kate runs a hand through her hair, accidentally knocking her sunglasses to the ground. A pigeon hops onto the barrel of the rifle, cooing gently.
A flutter of wings as Clint pulls the trigger. She slumps to the ground in a rush, the briefcase clattering from her hand. Clint jerks his head up from the scope, breathless, wide-eyed. Screaming starts on the sidewalk where Kate rests in a pool of her own blood.
The target snatches the briefcase from under her and jumps back into the limousine, leaving Kate. Clint doesn’t even know what happened. He takes his hands from the rifle and finds them shaking. He sits up, stands, and sits again. Then, Maria Hill forcibly drags him into a helicopter, injecting something into his arm in the process.
As he falls asleep, he hopes to never wake again.