The door closed with a happy jingle, and Phil waved at Sarah through the glass as he dialed a familiar number. The call was answered immediately by a chipper voice. “Pick-up boss?”
Keeping his expression neutral Coulson turned and faced away from the door, “Yes, and when you get here you can explain how you managed to botch the one job I gave you, Barton.” Before he even finished the sentence a nondescript dark sedan pulled up to the curb. Barton must have been idling in the alley to get here so fast. A glance from the corner of his eye showed that Sarah was still watching him from the cafe, so he didn’t wait for the other man to get out and help him in. He settled onto the passenger seat with only a small wince as he tugged on his seat belt.
“Cute co-ed, sir, but Sophie'll eat her alive.” Of course Barton would spot Sarah. He wasn't in the mood to explain things, however.
“Just get us back to the air field for pickup.” Keeping a neutral look on his face as they pulled out of the quaint township Phil waited until they were nearly back to the highway before he broached the topic he wanted. “So, one job Barton, keep a low profile while I had lunch. One. Job. But I wasn't in there twenty minutes before I got a tweet from the local authorities about a, and I quote, 'damned robin hood style shooting in the alley behind the Coincidence Cafe'.”
“Actually, sir, there was a prior incident, but I guess the LEO's wouldn't have noticed it.” Clint drove with half his attention on the road, the other half on Coulson. Phil could feel his gaze even if he didn't turn his head to confirm it.
“So, you botched it twice.” The tone of his voice implied that he wasn't surprised.
“Well, I can explain...well most of it I can explain. First off, I was parked out back of the cafe. Figured I'd get less people staring at me while I played Angry Birds waiting for you.” The archer was addicted to the game, and had a ridiculously high score to prove it. “Figured you'd be in there awhile so I was all slouched in the seat, sunglasses on, radio going. But a grumpy older guy rapped on the window, and, not gonna lie, I didn't see him approach, so it scared the crap out of me. If I'd had my bow he would have had an arrow for an eyebrow ring. But,” he smirked. “I promised you I'd come unarmed, so he didn’t get a third eye. When I rolled down the window a bit he asked about you,” Coulson gave a frown, but Clint continued. “Told him that he was SOL, but this is where it get's weird. He fiddled with some laser pointer and then told me that I'd been playing my game for the last ten minutes. I figured he was a freakin' nut job, but just sat there until I watched him go back around the corner.”
Now Coulson had a pounding headache to go with the ache in his chest. “By grumpy old man I'm assuming you're not referring to Jack Lemmon, or Walter Matthau. Care to give me a better description agent?”
“Medium build, about 60-70 years old, salt and pepper hair, and he smiled like this,” Barton faced him and gave a glower. “Dark suit, government shoes, if I had to guess. And he was damned lucky I didn't smack him one for the trick with the laser pointer.”
“Guess it was good you had your shades on, could have affected your vision otherwise,” Phil said, voice even.
“Hadn't thought of that...you sure I can't go find him and put a projectile in him? I'll make it a non-vital location, promise.”
“No Barton, but maybe now you can get to the reason you ended up on the local's twitter feed?” Phil pulled up a number in his phone and started texting.
“That, well, that gets a bit more complicated. You'd warned me that things were a bit...unusual in that burg, but I figured you meant small town quaint kind of things. Not I may need to run by medical to get a psych eval strange.” Phil frowned as he worked on another text. When Clint didn't get any further reaction he continued, “So, after grumpy left I thought I saw movement. Figured it for an alley cat or a stray dog, but when I saw it again it was messing with the fire door. At that point I knew it was probably not fido or fluffy, they don't wear helmets. I was going to stay in the car, per orders, but there was a sudden disturbance and I figured I better intervene, before it escalated."
“A disturbance, what sort of disturbance.” Phil set his phone aside and gave Barton a hard look.
“I...I can't really explain it. I knew that you wouldn't believe me, so when I was policing my ordinance I grabbed one to show you.” Reaching a hand behind his seat he groped around for something.
“Barton, how could you police our ordinance when you swore to me, in front of Natasha and Fury, that you'd just be a my driver and NOT come armed?” Phil reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small prescription bottle. Shaking out two pills he popped them into his mouth and swallowed them dry. He'd had lots of practice at that since the incident in New York.
“Now boss, you and I both know that the ONLY reason Fury let you out of medical, and off base, was because I volunteered to be on Coulson-watching duty for the foreseeable future. He never really expected me to go anywhere without some sort of weapon.” Clint shot him a shit eating grin as he apparently found what he was looking for and pulled it to the front seat. Dropping it into Coulson's lap he, for once, shut his mouth and let Phil think.
Picking up the long, wooden, shaft Phil examined the carefully hand fletched arrow. His fingers traced over the nearly invisible sinew that held the fathers on, as well as over the wickedly sharp metal tip. “Obviously not one of yours, unless you have gone back to basics on me,” Phil noted. Giving Barton all of his attention he asked, “So, the LEOs were responding to an ACTUAL Robin Hood event, not you. But you said you fired as well. Did you see the other person?”
“No sir, by the time I grabbed my things from the smugglers boot I only had time for a warning shot. At first I thought I'd hit whomever it was, but my arrow was...returned to me the same way these were shot into the alley. I figured I was damned lucky the other guy was firing at whatever it was in the shadows and not at me.”
“How do you figure that?” Phil fought to get the words out clearly. He'd forgotten the pain killers Medical had given him made him lethargic rather quickly.
“Well, sir, if this guy was able to sink wood and iron arrows six inches into brick and concrete he could have taken me out inside the car without me even knowing the first shot was coming. The bodywork may be reinforced, but the driver's side window was still down. I was a sitting duck.” Clint paused, waiting for the inevitable lecture; he'd heard it a million times from Coulson. But silence filled the car. Glancing over he bit back a smile; Phil was passed out, leaning on the car door. A small sound, the vibration of a cell phone, alerted him to an incoming text on Coulson's phone. Not one to resist temptation, or pass up a golden opportunity, Clint filched the phone off his knee and glanced at the message. He frowned and scrolled up to the start of the conversation.
Coulson: It's not nice to try to neuralize my agents.
K: It's not nice to forget to tell your father when you're in medical for six weeks after being stabbed during an interplanetary invasion.
Coulson: Fury cut off communications for a while, didn't figure you'd worry overly much.
K: Kid, I've shot people's heads off for less than stabbing my progeny in the chest.
Coulson: Oh, there are more of us? I take it mom doesn't know.
K: Kid, don't make me send Frank to babysit you, you know he loves Hill.
Coulson: The sentiment is, sadly, not returned. She said if she ever saw him again she'd neuter him and then leave him in a CoS for the next interdepartmental conference call.
K: That's really not a deterrent.
Coulson: Fine, when I get my agent back to base I'll swing by and let you examine the scar. You can see for yourself I'm fine.
K: It's have to wait; I'm with delegates from Planet Kevin*. Don't think the water would do your wound good.
“One word Barton, and I'll have you on pug walking duty,” Phil mumbled, and Clint bobbled the phone back to his knee. “And keep your damn eyes on the road, I don't want to end up back in Medical because you were too busy nosing into things that are none of your business. Drive.”