Clint shrugged off his jacket, dropping it into the open bag at her feet. "So you need what, twenty minutes?"
"Shut up. More like an hour."
He wrinkled his nose at her. "I like twenty minutes better."
"I like you shutting up better. Don't do anything stupid."
The heavy tread and banging doors of the security team drew closer. "We all have our skills. Being stupid is mine." He grabbed a handful of cables and slid them haphazardly into one pocket.
Clint pulled himself up into the hole in the ceiling, rolled across the hallway, slithered through the ceiling on the other side and pulled the cheap cubicle paneling to one side with a metallic screech. Faster than he'd expected, the flashlights and heavy boots converged on his location, leaving Natasha free to work in peace. Of course, now they were after him. He made a quick lunge into the hallway and let himself be tackled, rolling across the grimy linoleum and shedding computer cables as they brought him down.
Natasha's voice came from the speaker at his right as though she stood there. "Stark, you're up. Hurry."
"And I'm in."
Steve said, "The technology is remarkable. I mean, our radios -- "
Stark muttered, "Romanov, flash your tits at him or something, would you? Daddy's working."
"Rogers, I say this with all possible respect, shut the hell up and let Stark work."
Steve blinked. Even Tony gave the speaker a look, then turned to Steve. Steve frowned and said, "On task, Tony. Natasha, what's going on?"
"I don't have a functional monitor here. What's that?" Tony glanced up at the monitor in front of Steve and Steve snapped his fingers and pointed at the keyboard in front of them. Tony bent to his work and Steve said, "Empty hallway."
"That one?" she asked as the screen in front of him flickered as she flipped to the next security camera feed.
"Outside, um, parking lot. Next,” he said as he caught on to what she was doing. “That’s a conference room, go. Cafeteria, next. What are we looking for? Offices, um a room full of cubicles, with one damaged. That's the roof camera. Break room with a photocopy machine. Front lobby. Side entrance and fire exit. Stop!” he cried, and felt Tony, at his hip, bend backward to see the screen. “Tony, on task."
"Shit," Tony said, and he twisted to put the monitor above them farther out of his vision.
"Got it?" she asked. “What do you see?”
"Do you know what I'm looking at?"
"No, Captain," she said, and he'd not heard that tone from her before. "I don't, but I'm betting it's a handful of men in rent-a-cop uniforms and my fool of a partner, scowling."
"No, no security, just three men, two in suits and Clint. Real suits, not security uniforms."
"Okay, that's not good. Describe them."
"Uh, one Asian, one European --"
"The Korean, scar by his mouth?"
"Yeah. Wait, how did ...? Never mind. Are you going after him?"
"Can't," Tony said.
"Tony, we can't --"
"No, I need to stay here and trigger the cycle reset so Tony can stay in. Look at Clint. How is he tied?"
"With a rope?" Steve said, and she muttered something in Russian. "Look, if you know where he's being held, I can be there in --."
She interrupted him again. "Captain. The rope. Hands? Feet? Around his neck?"
Steve shuddered at the idea of a noose. "Hands only, looped around his wrists. He’s standing, not sitting. The rope is rough, like sail rigging, not the nylon stuff that you use."
"Go back to the loops. Is he hanging from it? Is he cuffed as well?"
"Uh, no, he's holding onto the --dammit! He's holding onto the ropes, pulling himself up on it and he's taking a beating. I can --."
"You can feed Tony a Red Bull and get us all out of here that much faster," she said and Steve glanced to the back of Tony's head. He sighed as Tony shook it and flashed four fingers at him.
"Rog--Steve, it's okay."
"I'm watching a teammate get hit in the face and ribs, so no, it's really not."
"Steve, listen to me. He's holding onto the rope, because he's already slipped the knot. Next question, is he smiling?"
"No, but your guy with the scar has a hell of a right hook."
"I’m not paying him, so he's not mine," she answered. "Tony?"
"One more cycle, I swear," Tony said without looking up.
"The other one is leaving. Is that good?" Steve rubbed his face as Clint leaned to one side and spat blood to the floor.
"Depends, what did they teach you about interrogation?"
"Name, rank and serial number. I didn't get into the other side. But at least he’s stopped punching. Now he's just ... looks like they're talking? Oh good! Clint's smiling."
"Well, fuck," Natasha said.
"I do not understand you people --"
Tony shouted "Yes! We're in, we're out. It's done. Go get your boyfriend."
“I’ve got a better idea,” she said and the explosives on the far side of the complex blew. Steve could hear them in real time as well as through the audio connection with Natasha, while on the monitor in front of him, Barton's head snapped up to stare calmly, expressionless, at something just under the security camera. Tony stood up, jostling him, and Steve frowned at him, so when he looked back, Barton was hanging from the ropes, his ankles at shoulder height and his hips twisting. He dropped back to his feet, slid his hands downward out of the ropes with a shake of his wrists, and dropped, popping back up into frame with a 9 millimeter in one hand and a suit jacket in the other. He wiped the blood from his face with the jacket and threw it behind him as he left the room.
"Natasha, shift cameras. Go to the other camera!"
"Why?" she asked. "Extraction point in two."
Tony grabbed Steve’s sleeve and pressed the handle of the black plastic case into his hand. “C’mon, pack mule. Chopper’s waiting.”
The van door slid open as they came around the corner. Tony shoved the bigger black cases into the back as Steve handed them to him, then slithered over them into the seating area of the van. Steve sat next to him and dug for the first aid kit, pulling it free and settling on the bench to see that Natasha was slipping into place behind the driver. He swore the van didn’t even rock. “Where’s Barton?”
“Don’t tell me you didn’t save me a seat?” Clint launched himself into the van feet first, the nine mil in one hand, a sub machine gun strapped over his shoulder and swinging at his back. He said, “Go” to the driver and the door swung shut as they pulled out of the alley. “And after I carried your books. I even stopped on the way for posies.” He handed her both weapons and reached for the shoulder strap of his seat belt as the van took a turn at speed.
Romanov handed the SMG back to Steve, who dropped the first aid kit onto Tony’s lap. Unfortunately, Tony’d already pulled out one of his paper thin flat portable computer screens and the kit slid to the floor of the van. “Dammit Tony, grab that, would you?”
“The gun, my tablet, or the BandAids?” Tony asked. “And how can you take up so much space, hold still!”
Steve pulled his elbows in and slid the SMG between his feet, ignoring the snickers coming from the seat in front of him. “I’ve got gauze, Clint.”
“I’m more of a linen guy, Cap.”
“Hawkeye,” Steve said, stressing the name. “I saw the rope burns. You need care.”
“He’s serious, isn’t he?” Clint asked Natasha, who smiled and shook her head.
“You’re getting blood on the upholstery. You know how he is.” Natasha put a hand on his shoulder and Clint leaned over to where he could catch Steve's eyes in the rear view mirror.
“Tell you what, Cap, I promise to go straight to Medical when we hit base on one condition.” He raised one finger, but, Steve noted, he kept his elbow close to his ribs as he did so. Natasha glanced sideways at Clint. He couldn’t see her expression, but Clint whispered, “No, wait, you’ll love this.”
“What’s the condition, Clint?” Steve asked, willing to play along now that he was fairly sure that she’d walk Clint into medical herself whatever he said now.
“You grab Tony’s tablet and google shibari.”