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                Stopping the takeover of the tower was laughably easy once they scattered about the floors. There weren’t well trained soldiers; they weren’t prepared for the level of abilities they were going against. Within thirty minutes the tower was cleared with Jarvis routing the invaders straight into trap after trap. The cleanup took longer.

                While the others plotted or helped rework the tower’s defenses Clint helped with the cleanup crews. He tried to hang around the others more but he was often at the edges of the group, in a dark corner working on his stark pad. They left him alone for the most part, thinking he was brooding about his years with Cross, pity they were wrong.

                Several more attempts had been made at the tower and at grabbing Clint the one time he’d been allowed out of the tower. Thankfully none of the latest attacks had been very damaging, they were just finishing up the repairs even with the work crews working around the clock it had taken weeks. Clint had stayed isolated in the new basement rooms that had been thrown together in the most defensible location besides Tony’s labs until Tony declared that they had to celebrate the finished repairs with a night out. He bought out a rooftop restaurant for the night and even Natasha enjoyed herself after they took out two waves of hired goon and half the restaurant staff.

                He curled in his corner perch in the living room watching the others below him as they had a movie night. Stark had installed sniper nests in each corner of the floor and a few of the other levels now had small cat walks along the high ceilings. He turned on his tablet and carefully continued outlining the next few months with Jarvis. The AI didn’t like his plan but he agreed that it was the only way to capture Cross and prove his guilt.

                The team continued to refuse to punish him and Jarvis refused to do more than give him chores. He’d caused this mess and he needed to fix it. He’d lived with seven years of abuse, a bit more pain wouldn’t make him any worse. His mind made up he glanced over the team, they’d learn to live without him quick enough if his plan failed. The message went out with a sort chime and he settled in to wait.

                He glanced at his wrist with a frown, the only thing that might mess things up was the adamantium bracelet that let Jarvis monitor his location and vitals via satellite. He had no way to remove it and only Jarvis’ assurances that he would refuse to reveal his location until the team had reviewed the entire plan. He really hoped he was right and that Cross wanted him useful and wouldn’t remove his hand to get the tracker off.

 

***

“Clint seems to be doing better lately.” Steve said watching from the kitchen while the archer disappeared in to his room once the movie was over.

“He’s faking it.” Natasha said with a frown turning back to her task, Steve continuing to dry bowls and glasses.

“Really?”

“Has he chatted over the coms or made sarcastic comments during the meetings?” She asked putting the clean popcorn bowls away and tossing Steve another beer before opening one for herself.

“No.”

“Then he’s faking it.”

“What do we do about it then?”

“Nothing, he’s waiting on something so we just have to wait him out.”

“Waiting on something? You think he’s waiting to get kidnapped?”

“I think he’s waiting on the end game. Cross has to bring the fight to him personally since all his goons are failing.”

“And if he doesn’t? If he stays to the random attacks?” Steve pressed, “Clint can’t stay locked up forever.”

“It’s just until we catch Cross.”

“And if we don’t catch him? Shield never was able to make any charges stick. What if we catch him and he walks free again? He can’t kill him outright with public opinion the way it is now. They’d crucify the team.”

“Then we prove he needs to die.” She said flatly.

“Natasha,”

“He hurt, Clint.” She snapped slamming a cabinet closed and turning away, “I’ve been asking Shield for years to be allowed to take him out. I’m done asking.”

 

***

“So the Hawk is tired of playing,” Cross murmured with a grin turning to the man kneeling next to his desk, “Finish setting up the rooms for our Hawk, we’re going to have the delight of his company soon.”

“Yes, Master.”