deaf Clint for lithiumlaughter
Clint lost most of his hearing before he was six years old. Clint thought it was his own fault; Barney said it was Dad's.
Barney took his own fists to any kid who pushed Clint around in the orphanage and used his own crude homesign to translate for his younger brother. When they left for the circus, it was Barney that showed off Clint's almost preternatural aim and made it clear that being deaf left less room for distractions. It made Clint an asset, not a liability.
So when Clint discovered the Deaf community, it didn't take long for him to join it.
Agent Phil Coulson had been tasked with recruiting Hawkeye, but he ran into his first major obstacle when he found himself face to face with someone who barely bothered with English. A sniper could get away with choosing to engage in sign language or via written English only. A spy didn't share the luxury. It didn't help that Barton's handwriting left much to be desired.
Coulson rubbed his temple then shoved aside his notepad to dig out a copy of SHIELD's benefit package.
Hawkeye eyed it suspiciously for a moment, then took it and flipped through a few pages. He shrugged but kept it.
Coulson started to give him a phone number, then crossed that out and wrote an email address instead.
Two weeks later, he got an email back.
'You really want a Deaf ex-carnie?'
He typed back, 'Can you learn to read lips?'
Coulson muttered to himself. Hawkeye clearly saw the benefit of playing into stereotypes. Understand without being understood. It was the smart thing to do, but it bothered Coulson that he'd bought in too.
Reading lips didn't mean that Hawkeye talked much at all. What few words he did say were when he ws frustrated enough to want to shoot the offending party rather than talk to them. He signed, he read lips, and he gave Coulson looks that shouldn't be repeated aloud but that Coulson had to translate anyway. Anyone who thought deafness was a liability were referred to Hawkeye's mission success rate and his range scores.
Unlike the rest of SHIELD, Coulson was thrilled when Barton brought home Natasha. Finally someone else could repeat those faces out loud.
"I'll be the spy, and you be the sniper," Natasha told him.
'Talk I can,' Clint pointed out.
She raised an eyebrow, as good as saying he didn't like to.
Coulson watched the exchange with interest. Clint would make an excellent spy and did occasionally when they had cause to insert a Deaf person.
Clint merely shrugged.
Natasha nodded. "That's settled."
Fury kept on his sign languages, even if he swore like a sailor while trying to master Russian Sign Language. "I can't have my agents knowing languages I don't," he pointed out.
Mostly Coulson assumed that Fury wanted to know what Strike Team Delta was gossiping about at the back of the meetings.
Loki didn't know sign language. Allspeak was based on speech and even though his words were translated into English and he understood Clint's thoughts when he tried, he didn't realize that Clint couldn't lipread Aesir and didn't understand a word Loki was saying.
Little wonder then he ended up forced to serve a purpose he hated but still managed to have an embarrassingly lousy shot.
Steve asked if he could fly the jet and Clint exchanged glances with Natasha to read her. He accepted the job.
'Okay?' Natasha asks him at last, signing into his hand under the table as they ate shawarma.
Instead of answering, he tangled his fingers into hers.