As If I Was Human
Chapter Two - Night Out
Clint did a quick time check. Nearly closing time at the café. Standing up, he shrugged on his leather jacket, making sure to fix the collar, and grabbed hold of the chair, dragging it out onto the balcony. Carter always locked up. It was nothing exciting, or even interesting, but Clint made sure to watch anyway. His apartment was perfectly located, just across the street from the café, and he couldn't help smirk at the thought of S.H.I.E.L.D. forcing out some poor fools just to accommodate Clint for his mission.
Sitting down at the small table that stood on the balcony, Clint opened up his laptop. So far Carter had never looked up and saw him, but if she ever did, all she'd see would be him tapping away. She'd assume he was "writing", really, he was just typing up a short status report for the day. It bored the hell out of him, but it kept him looking occupied.
Honestly, this was the favourite part of his day. He saw better from a distance, and from a young age enjoyed the rush he got from watching someone that had no idea he was there. It gave him a sense of power. Being unseen and unheard. Carter would lock the café up, pull down the shutters, and then head home, never knowing he was watching her the entire time. Not just watching, but seeing. She never struggled with pulling the heavy shutters down, never fumbled or dropped the keys. She always did this small but important job quickly and skilfully. That was the part he enjoyed most. Carter was able. She could use her hands and her body easily. And he knew that, because he knew what to look for.
There she was, he noted. The door swung closed behind her, now wearing a light white jacket over her vest from earlier, and she shut it tight, spinning the key in the lock neatly. Taking a step back, she then grasped the edge of the shutters and gave an easy tug, the metal rolling down smoothly and clicking when it reached the bottom. Carter then knelt down, buckling the straps in and slipped a padlock through them, locking it tight. She stood, rolling her shoulders back, straightening out her jacket, and left, striding up the street and out of Clint's line of sight when she turned the corner.
Leaning back in his seat, Clint sighed. He didn't know how much longer he'd be here, and as nice as it was having such an undemanding mission, he was beginning to get bored. Carter did nothing of note, and he never had anything worthy to report. Clint was used to a much faster pace of life, hunting, killing, and this was far too dull for his tastes.
If he was to get out of here, he needed something more incriminating on Carter. He needed a reason to bring her in. He needed a set-up.
There was a knock on the door. Carter frowned, turning in her seat. Who the hell could that be? She put the television on mute, some soap opera she had on but wasn't even watching, and stood up slowly, listening for some clue to who was outside her crummy little box apartment at this hour. A quick glance at the clock told her it was after midnight.
The knock came again, more harsh this time. Carter shook herself out, and stepped up to the door, pulling it open fearlessly.
"Don, what the hell-" she began, pulling the man inside, closing the door quickly behind him.
"Don't start with me," Don cut her off, turning to face her. He reached into his dark coat, bringing out a brown envelope. "This wasn't easy to get a hold of. Lotsa checks happening right now."
Carter snatched the envelope from his hands, ripping it open to reveal her newly faked documentation. She breathed a sigh of relief, she had been beginning to wonder if she would ever get them delivered. But, still…
"You shouldn't have come here," she said to Don, looking the big man up and down warily. "You know you shouldn't. It's too suspicious." Don scowled, shoving his hands into his pockets.
"Don't start, I said," he muttered. "You said you've had fake ID before, we had to run this one carefully. Couldn't risk anything. Pedro thought you were a nark. Didn't trust you, still doesn't. Someone sniffing around us. Wanted to see if you were hiding anything."
Carter couldn't help but be a little taken back at that. Someone had been sniffing around? She gestured to her small apartment.
"You wanna have a dig about the place," she snarled. "Go ahead. I've got nothing. I just want a fresh start." Don held up his hands in apology.
"Don't care," he said. "Hide what you want. Pedro wants no more contact from you. If you got someone poking his nose where he shouldn't, tell him he'll end up ghosted, just like him that came 'round last night."
"Whoever that was had nothing to do with me," Carter promised. Don nodded, sniffing. Men like Don always sniffed. Dirty scumbags with more drugs in their system than sense. He stepped towards the door, giving her apartment a once over with his red rimmed eyes.
"We're done," he said. "Give me the rest of the money." Carter nodded, heading over to the television set. She gave the top a thump, jerking the plastic back off completely. She kept a stash of bills in there. She forked over the required amount, and after double checking the total, Don left, slamming the door behind him.
Carter let out a sigh of relief, turning her attention back to the envelope still clutched in her hands. Sitting down at the table, she tipped the contents out in front of her, picking up the little piece of plastic she had been waiting for. A shiny new driver's license. She couldn't wait to use it. Not that she intended to drive, she intended to get drunk. Forever carded when she went out, she had decided to wait until she had ID before accompanying Zandra and her friends on a wild weekend.
"Looks like this is the weekend," she whispered to herself with a grin. The past few months had been fairly stressful, Carter couldn't wait to let her hair down. Well, she thought, running a hand through her messy bob, what was left of it anyway.
The following Saturday at 1pm, Clint couldn't help but notice Carter was in a good mood. Her smile bounced off the walls, and she greeted him with more warmth than usual when she took his order.
"You seem happy," he remarked to her, leafing through his newspaper as she jotted down on her notepad. She smiled wider at him.
"Just excited," she replied with a slight curtsey he couldn't help but find cute. "Night out with the girlies tonight. First in a while. I'm needing it."
This could be interesting, Clint thought to himself. A chance to see her somewhere that wasn't this café, a chance to see how she handled herself around rowdy strangers pulsing with alcohol. He might even get to see her dance.
"Well," he said. "I hope you and the girlies enjoy yourselves." Carter laughed softly.
"I'm sure we will," she grinned. He smiled as she slipped away to get started on his order. Making sure Carter was occupied, Clint beckoned to Zandra, who had been watching their exchange nosily. She scampered over, grinning ear to ear.
"Yes, Curt," she greeted him. "Didn't Taylor just take your order?"
"She did," he replied. "She was just telling me you have a night out planned-"
"Oh!" Zandra exclaimed happily, clapping her hands together. "You want to know where we're heading, don't you? Get a change to see your pretty waitress with a drink in her?" Clint nearly laughed.
"Just thought I might surprise her," he clarified. "If I find myself…lacking inspiration tonight, where might I find you all?"
It would have been easy enough just to follow them, and probably more satisfying, but Clint would need an excuse if he decided to reveal himself to Carter. Zandra scribbled down the name of the club, and the address, on the corner of his newspaper, looking over her shoulder to make sure Carter didn't notice them together.
"See you there," she whispered, giving him a wink. Clint smirked to himself as Zandra bounded away. The girls might not see him there, but he would definitely see them.