Chapter 1: Shaky Hands - Clint Barton/Phil Coulson
He swallowed. Hard. Licked his lips. Closed his eyes. Tried to will it away. He tried to…
Three weeks ago Clint had had an accident. It wasn’t work related. He just got his new bike, a Ducati, and he wanted to drive it, to test its limits. But a guy in a pick-up didn’t see him, ignored his right of way. Clint had to yank the bike around and ran into a tree.
The bike was totalled but Clint only had a few scratches, thanks to the combi suit and the helmet. But since then he had headaches every day.
He just got up from bed, went to the kitchen where Phil had made coffee. He reached for his favorite mug when he saw it again.
“Are you okay?” Phil asked and Clint startled. He pressed his hands onto the counter and nodded. Phi sat still at the table and ate but he sounded worried.
“Yes,” he lied. “Yes, I’m just… tired.”
Phil was quiet but Clint could literally feel his eyes on his back and he turned around, folded his arms and hid his hands in the armpits.
“It… it was… it was a…”
“Clint,” Phil said quietly and he closed his mouth immediately. “You know you can tell me everything, right?”
“It’s nothing, it’s just…”
“Clint,” Phil said again. He looked up and saw that his husband stood in front of him now. “Please tell me.”
“It’s…” he tried once again but when Phil cocked his head a bit he cast his eyes down. And then he showed him his hands. They shook. As much as he tried he couldn’t force them to stay steady.
“The accident?” Phil asked and Clint nodded. He still didn’t look up, couldn’t look up.
“I… I’ve been at the range yesterday,” Clint said. “I… I tried, Phil, but…”
Now he looked up and Phil saw tears in his eyes.
“I can’t… only one of five arrows hit its mark,” he said. “I’m… I’m useless.”
“No, you’re not,” Phil said and reached up to cup Clint’s cheek. “We know doctors and geniuses, we’ll find a solution.”
“And what if not?” Clint asked. He swallowed hard again. “I can’t be an Avenger - or an agent - if I can’t shoot straight. “What if…”
Phil took both of Clint’s hands and held them.
“Then we’ll find a solution for that, too,” he said. “But today we go to a doctor, okay?”
Slowly Clint nodded. “Okay.”
Phil took Clint’s mug, filled it with coffee and placed it on the table.
“I love you, Phil,” he said.
“I love you, too.”
Chapter 2: Explosion - Clint Barton/Bobbi Morse
“Hawkeye!” Bobbi screamed into her comm. “Get out there!”
Clint cursed silently under his breath. He just ran over rafters and shot at weird guys in uniforms.
The two were sent to Moldavia to find out why people disappeared and came back weeks later with their personality completely changed. Some of them didn’t even recognize their families anymore. Of course SHIELD got wind of it and sent two of their best agents. Clint and Bobby found a lab, led by a South African scientist who was supposed to be dead. And they had really, really good security here.
“What do you think I try here?” Clint muttered in his comm and jumped to the next rafter. He turned around, shot another two arrows when he saw a guy open a crate.
“Oh shit!” he cursed when he saw the bazooka in the man’s hand. “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!”
The guy aimed and Clint sped up, ran to the opening out of the building. And he almost made it.
The next thing he heard was an ear-shattering BOOM and he felt the heat on his back. He fell, something hurt and then… darkness.
Apparently she saw him move because she jumped up, closed the distance between them and moved her lips. Clint frowned. She moved her lips again.
“Wha…” he started but realized he couldn’t hear his own words.
Clint she said. He recognized the way her lips moved when she said his name.
“I… I… my ears,” he said. Or he thought he said it because now Bobbi frowned, too. But he couldn’t hear a damn thing and so he wasn’t sure if he said what he thought he had said.
Bobbi looked around, went to her rucksack and came back with a notepad and a pencil. She wrote and turned it around for Clint to read.
“I can’t hear you,” Clint said very carefully. Bobbi nodded.
Maybe it’s because of the explosion, she wrote. But I’ll get a doctor.
Clint nodded and with a reassuring smile Bobbi left his room. A few moments later she came back with another woman in tow. She came to him, moved her lips and when Clint shrugged Bobbi wrote it down.
Dr. Prescott said she will check out your ears but she thinks it’s just a side effect of the explosion.
Clint nodded again. Bobbi sat down beside him and took his hand, smiled at him and caressed his fingers with her thumb before she reached for the notepad again.
Don’t worry. Everything will turn out well and in a few days you can leave the infirmary and hear again. Clint smiled at her, too.
It turned out she was wrong.
Chapter 3: Delirium - Clint Barton/Tony Stark
“How’s he?” Steve asked as soon as he entered the infirmary room. Tony, who sat beside Clint’s bed, looked up and shrugged.
“Stable at the moment,” he said.
Two days ago the Avengers were called to an emergency. Victor von Doom tried to invade one of his neighbor countries with his Doom bots and the Avengers were there to stop him. They won, but during the fight Clint was exposed to some sort of drug Doom wanted to use to subdue the government of the other country. He was overdosed and since then he was knocked out.
Tony didn’t leave his side. He couldn’t, Steve knew that. If it was Bucky or Peggy, Steve wouldn’t leave them as well.
“The doctors are good, Tony,” Steve said and patted his shoulder. The genius looked up at him and he could see tears in his eyes. But he nodded and forced a smile onto his lips. “And Clint’s a fighter, you know that.”
“Yeah,” Tony said. “I know.”
But just when Steve wanted to leave again Clint moaned in his bed. He threw his head left and right and flailed his hands.
“Clint!” Tony jumped up and touched his arm but the archer just started to babble nonsense, he groaned and writhed.
“Steve, a doctor!” Tony snapped and Steve hurried to the door already. He called for the doctor and two of them came over immediately.
“Something’s wrong with him,” Steve said when the two men followed him in the room. They hurried to the bed and Steve took Tony’s arm, dragged him back.
Clint trashed around in the bed, moaned and babbled and sweat ran over his face.
“Can you please hold him?” One of the doctors asked and Steve nodded. Tony pressed his hand over his mouth when Steve went to hold Clint’s arms.
“He’s in a delirium at the moment,” the other doctor said. “He has a fever and we don’t know if we can give him a sedative as long as we don’t know what caused this condition. We have to wait for the guys in the lab,” he sighed.
“But we have to do something,” Tony snapped. “I mean, look at him!” Clint still trashed around, tried to get rid of Steve’s hands. He murmured unintelligible things and rolled his eyes, clenched his teeth and kicked with his feet.
“We… uh… we can…” the first doctor said. “We should fixate him. So he can’t harm himself or one of you.”
“You want to tie him down?” Tony yelled and the two doctors looked at their hands for a moment.
“Tony,” Steve said and Tony spun around. But when he saw the pained expression on Clint’s face he faltered and nodded. He just wanted to go to the door to get a nurse or someone who could help the doctors it was opened and a woman in a lab coat came in.
“We found it!” She said with a broad grin. She held a syringe in her hand and gave it to one of the doctors. “This will help him.”
“Oh god,” Tony breathed and sat down. He watched while the man injected it in Clint’s arm and then they waited while they still held him. But the trashing subsided and soon Clint lay in the bed and slept.
“Oh god,” Tony said again and looked at Steve. “For… for a moment I thought… I thought…” he shook his head and Steve reached out to squeeze his shoulder a bit.
“He’s a fighter and you know it,” Steve said and then added, “And he would never leave you behind.”
“I love him, Steve,” Tony said. “And… and…”
“He loves you too, Tony. He will be okay.” The two doctors nodded and left the room.
“Thanks,” Tony said and sat down again. And Steve patted his shoulder again.
Chapter 4: Human Shield - Clint Barton/Bucky Barnes
“Medic!” Bucky yelled and ran to Clint. The archer looked at him, a weird expression on his face and pressed a hand on his stomach. Blood ran through his fingers and he slumped down on his knees.
Bucky grabbed him, tried to hold him but Clint’s knees gave in.
“Bucky,” he whispered with trembling lips.
“Goddammit! We need a medic here!” Bucky bellowed into his com and helped Clint to lie down on the ground. “Bloody idiot,” he muttered. “Why’d you do that?”
“They… they would’ve killed you,” Clint breathed.
“I can survive a bullet,” Bucky growled. He pressed his hands onto the wound in Clint’s stomach. One of the evil guys who attacked a research facility not far away from Los Angeles appeared and Bucky grabbed his gun, shot them and threw the gun away to press his hand on Clint’s wound again.
“He… aimed…” Clint wheezed, “... for your… head.” His voice sounded so weak, so racked with pain.
“And you thought playing human shield was a good idea?”
“You… survived…” Clint’s voice was barely audible and there was still not a medic in sight.
“Medic!!” Bucky yelled again, “Goddammit, please!”
“B-bucky,” Clint whispered and blood ran out of the corner of his mouth.
“No, don’t, Clint,” Bucky pleaded. “Hang on, please, hang on.” He looked around, but the other Avengers were still fighting, only Nat and Scott managed to keep the evil guys away from them.
“Please, Clint, don’t leave me alone.”
“I… I… lo-love…”
“Clint, don’t,” Bucky begged. Tears ran over his face. “Don’t leave me.”
“Medic,” a voice beside Bucky said and he had never heard a word more beautiful. “Please step aside.”
And Bucky did.
Chapter 5: Gunpoint - Clint Barton/Steve Rogers
It was Friday the 13th. Clint wasn’t superstitious but sometimes life just decided to fuck him hard.
This morning he woke, sat up and just wanted to rise when he felt something wet at his feet. He looked down and saw that Lucky had peed beside his bed. The dog lay on his blanket and looked at him guilty. Clint muttered under his breath and walked to the bathroom to clean up the mess when he stubbed his toe on the counter beneath the sink. He bit his lip not to scream and wake Steve, who still slept peacefully.
With quiet curses he went back to the bedroom and cleaned Lucky’s mess, went to the bathroom and showered, slipped in the tub and hit his head, got dressed and ripped his shirt, put on a new shirt and left the apartment quietly with his dog on a leash.
Amazingly enough Steve still slept.
The elevator didn’t work and so they had to walk down the stairs. Clint cursed again, this time not so quiet. He had to call the repair service again.
Together with his dog he went to his favorite coffee shop, bought a coffee, burnt his tongue, cursed even more and went to the bank. He had a few bills to pay. So he tied Lucky to a railing outside of the building and went in.
But well, it was Friday the 13th.
Clint stood in line at the counter and waited when five men came in. They wore scary nun masks, had machine guns and shot in the ceiling.
“Everyone down!” One of them yelled. Inwardly Clint sighed but he was unarmed and there were too many people to do something. So he just lay down on the floor and placed his hands behind his head, just like all the others did.
Two men walked around, collected all the phones and wallets and Clint closed his eyes.
“Well, well, well, what do we have here,” the guy said. Of course he had found his Avengers ID. Clint closed his eyes.
“Is anything wrong?” One of the other men asked and the guy, who had just frisked Clint, pressed his gun into the back of his neck, grabbed his arm and pulled him up.
“Guess, what he have here? A real live Avenger,” the man said.
Clint sighed again.
It was Friday the 13th. And Clint was prone to bad luck.
Steve till slept when his phone rang.
“Yeah,” he mumbled into the receiver.
“Is… uh… is this Captain Rogers speaking?” a male voice asked. Steve sat up and wiped his face.
“Where did you get that number from?” he asked.
“I… uh… I talked to someone with the name Friday,” the voice said. “My name is Detective Alex Pettyfer and… we have a situation and apparently Clint Barton is involved.”
Steve was alarmed.
“Where are you?”
Steve arrived at the scene just the moment when two of the bankrobbers came out of the building and one of them pressed a gun against Clint’s temple.
“We want…” one of them started but Steve interrupted him.
“What are you doing here, Clint,” he just called. Lucky sat beside the door and barked when he saw his two favorite humans.
“Well, waiting for you,” Clint said with a tiny shrug. They had tied his hands in front of his body and Clint signed something. Steve read, raised his brow… and nodded.
And then Clint moved. Within two seconds the two bankrobbers lay on the ground, knocked out.
“Nat just called,” Steve said when he was beside Clint. He undid the ropes around his wrists and smiled. “She took care of the other guys inside.”
“That’s good,” Clint smiled and Steve cocked his head. “They were amateurs but too many civilians were around and…”
He shrugged and scratched the back of his neck.
“It’s Friday the 13th.” And Steve laughed.
Chapter 6: Dragged Away - Clint Barton/Bucky Barnes
“Really?” Clint moaned when the alarm went off. He looked at the sandwich he just had made, at his dog, who sat beside the kitchen island and wagged his tail, and then sighed. He placed the plate on the ground where Lucky darted for it and devoured it while Clint ran to the elevator. Two minutes later he was geared up and on his way to the quinjet. He just wanted to close the hatch when Bucky appeared. He wore his battle suit, too, and was armed to the teeth.
“What the fuck!” Clint blurted when he flopped into the co-pilot’s seat and glared at him. “What are you doing here?”
“There was an alarm and you’re the only Avenger here, the others are on their own mission, remember?” Bucky said matter of factly. “Would you start eventually?”
Clint closed the hatch and flew out of the compound and to the coordinates where the incident was reported.
“You’re not cleared for duty,” Clint growled and Bucky looked at him, a brow raised. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“Do you really think I let you fly alone into a battle?” Bucky asked, his head cocked.
“But you’re going to explain to Steve afterwards,” Clint grumbled.
“Don’t worry, babe,” Bucky grinned now. “Steve will understand.”
“From your mouth to God’s hearing aids.”
They arrived at the scene - a small-town in Massachusetts - twenty minutes later and both, Clint and Bucky, could see yellow people in uniforms shooting randomly at civilians, cops and vehicles. A space ship was parked at the square in the town and the attack really seemed to make no sense.
“They’re yellow,” Clint blurted as soon as he saw aliens and Bucky could only nod.
“But we have to stop them,” Bucky said, unbuckled and went to the back. As soon as Clint had opened the hatch he ran out and started to shoot at the attackers. Clint followed closely, his bow ready and shoot at the enemies, too.
At first it seemed as if they would get the situation under control but just when they thought they would win another space ship landed and more yellow guys came out. And one of the new guys managed to hit Bucky and he went to the ground.
“Bucky!” Clint yelled but Bucky didn’t answer and so he tried to get to him, still shooting at the enemies. But he was alone now and more than outnumbered. He was fucked.
Clint just shot at two of the aliens, when he heard someone call his name and he whirled around. Three aliens stood beside Bucky, who just came around again, and aimed at him.
“Hawkeye!” One of them called and Clint swallowed. “Stop now!”
“Why would I do that?” Clint asked but he lowered his bow a bit. Four or five of the guys came from behind, he could sense them.
“We don’t want to kill your comrade, but we will do it if you don’t throw away your weapon,” the guy snapped. “We have no interest in him!”
“What?” Clint blurted.
“Our client put a reward only on you,” the yellow guy said and Clint’s eyes went wide.
“What?” he said again. “Who? And why?” He lowered his bow a bit more and the aliens behind him closed up to him. But they didn’t touch him.
“Taneleer Tivan will pay fifty thousand units for you,” the guy grinned now. “He wants you for his collection.”
Clint opened his mouth, closed it and then he could only ask again, “His what?”
“Apparently your eyes are unique in the universe and he likes unique things,” the yellow alien shrugged.
“No,” Bucky said. “This is not…” he started but the alien, who pointed his rifle in his face, kicked him in the side and Bucky shut up.
“If…” Clint started, stopped, licked his lips and then said, “If I come with you, you leave him alone?”
“He’s not of value for us,” the yellow alien said. “Only you.”
“But if…” Clint started again but when the alien cocked his rifle and aimed at Bucky’s head, he said, “Wait!”
“Yes?” the yellow guy asked.
“I… I accept,” Clint said. “Just… don’t hurt him.”
The alien nodded at the other aliens behind Clint and he felt them grab his arms. One of them took his bow and quiver and another one pulled his arms behind his back.
“No, Clint! You can’t…” Bucky just wanted to say but the alien with the rifle kicked him again.
“I’m good but his projectile is faster than you and me, Buck,” Clint said while the aliens dragged him to their space ship.
The last thing Clint saw before the aliens knocked him out was Bucky, who got up and tried to follow them.
The space ship flew away and Clint… Clint was inside.
“FRIDAY,” he called the AI back at the Avengers compound. “Who’s Taneleer Tivan?”
“I don’t know, Agent Barnes,” the AI said. “But Mr. Quill mentioned the name once.”
“FRIDAY, please call the Guardians of the Galaxy. We need their help.”
Chapter 7: Isolation - Clint Barton & Phil Coulson
The light went on. Clint sat up in his cell, leaned his back against the wall behind his bed. It was quiet. He knew that there were other prisoners in this block but he couldn’t hear them. He couldn’t speak with them or even see them. The door was solid metal and the only human contact he had was the tray with food that was placed in the hatch.
The guards weren’t allowed to speak with him. The only thing he could hear was his own breathing. And the scratching somewhere in the walls.
Something was there. It scratched and Clint knew it was there to mock him.
He had no idea how long he was here. Days? Weeks? Maybe even months?
It was… exhausting, he was tired and worn out, but he couldn’t sleep properly. The bed was just a hard metal plate and he didn’t have a blanket or a cushion. It was cold inside his cell and he rubbed his arms.
The hatch opened with a loud noise and Clint startled. He looked over, saw the empty tray disappear and a new one appear. Another bowl with something he couldn’t even identify. It tasted like ass but it filled his stomach.
He shuffled to the door, took the bowl and started to shovel it into his mouth listlessly, put the empty bowl back onto the tray and sat down on his bed again.
The scratching in the walls was still here and Clint pressed his hands over his ears.
How long? How long was he here? Why was he here? He forgot. It was… it was something… something he didn’t even do… it was… he forgot…
Chrrr, chrrr, chrrr… the thing in the wall didn’t stop scratching and Clint yelled at the wall. Again. For the umpteenth time.
How long was he here? Days? Weeks? He cocked his head. Was there someone outside of the door? No. No one ever came and he had just emptied his bowl so no one would…
The hatch went open and the tray disappeared. A new tray appeared and Clint frowned. He had just eaten, right? It was… it was minutes ago? Or… or more? Hours maybe?
Something scratched in the walls as if it wanted to get into his cell.
The bowl looked at him and Clint shuffled over, took it and ate the muck. It tasted like ass. It never tasted like anything but it filled his stomach.
He went back to his cot, lay down and stared at the ceiling. The light was still on. Was it day? Was it night? He had no idea. He had no idea how long he was here. He was…
The scratching started again and Clint pressed his hands over his ears.
A week in solitary the warden had said. But how long was he here? Months? Weeks? Or days? Clint had no idea. He couldn’t even remember what he did to land here. No… no it… it wasn’t his fault, was it? No, it was… it was someone else’s fault… it was…
It scratched beside his head now… and Clint hit his head against the wall behind him…
The light went out. And then it went on… and the food appeared and the bowls disappeared and it scratched… and the light went out… and then it went on and… how long was he here? Days? Weeks? Why was he here? The light went out… and it went on… and food appeared and the scratching didn’t stop and Clint hit his head against the wall and the light went out… and it went on and food appeared and someone fetched the trays and the scratching became louder and louder and it came from everywhere and he had no idea why he was here and food appeared… and the light went out.. And…
“Clint Barton?” A voice said beside him. Clint screamed.
“Mr. Barton,” a man in a suit said. He stood in his cell and looked at him. “I’m Agent Phil Coulson with the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.”
Chapter 8: Stab wound - Clint Barton & Barney Barton
Clint never really had a family as such. Sure, he had had a mother and a father, a brother but they were not a family. They were people who lived in the same house because they accidentally were related.
Then his parents died and he and Barney had to go to the orphanage. But things didn’t get better. Quite the opposite. The people there were mean, there were too many kids and not enough food, clothes, toys or even warm water. They stayed only five months before they ran away. Before they saw the circus with the animals and the colorful dressed people.
They were invited to stay for a meal… and then to come with them. They agreed.
Clint loved it. Sure, he had to work hard for his food but most of the carnies were nice and for the first time in his life Clint had a family. A place where he belonged. And when Jacques and Buck discovered that he could shoot with a bow, they started to train him to become part of the show.
Clint was delighted. He loved this life, loved the many places he saw, loved to perform in front of an audience.
Much to the chagrin of Barney. He hated it, hated that he had to do the donkeywork all day long and he hated it that everyone seemed to love his little brother. Yes, he was jealous. And so had to find a way to get out as fast as possible. Whenever the circus was about to leave a town he went to earn some extra money. Sometimes he robbed a bank, sometimes a jeweller, sometimes just a liquor store or a gas station.
Clint was not dumb but he was busy with working and training. It took him some time to find out what he did when he went out to let off steam.
He talked to Barney but his brother told him to piss off and not to poke his nose in everything.
“I’ll tell Carson,” Clint hissed and went to the door of the trailer they shared.
Barney grabbed his shoulder and slammed him into the wall.
“You will keep your mouth shut!” he snarled. His face was only inches away from Clint’s. “Do you understand me?”
“No!” Clint snapped back. “You can’t do that! The cops will find out and then…”
Barney backhanded Clint and he slumped down to the ground.
“I know, you, the ‘Golden Child’,” - air quotes with both hands - “won’t understand but I have nothing! I shovel shit half of the day! I want to get some money and then I’m outta here and you will not stop me!”
Clint got up again. “No, Barney! That’s not…” he grabbed Barney’s arm to turn him around… and then there was pain. Clint stared at his brother, then down at himself. The knife Jacques had given him, Clint, some time ago stuck in his stomach. And it hurt like hell. He stumbled backwards, hit the wall and slid down to the ground.
“Oh god!” Barney blurted. “Clint! I… I didn’t…” he tore at his hair. “But you… you said… and… and I…” he stammered incoherent.
“B-barney,” Clint breathed. He grabbed the handle of the knife and wanted to pull but Barney stopped him. It hurt!
“Don’t! Don’t pull it out or you’re going to die!” Barney said. “I… I’ll get help…”
He went to the door of the trailer and opened it. “I’m sorry, Clint.”
It was the last time he saw his brother.
The next thing he saw was a white room and a cop beside his bed. He was in a hospital but he had no idea what happened after Barney left the trailer. He had lost consciousness and now…
He tried to move his hand but he couldn’t and when he looked he saw that he was cuffed to the bed and he had a bandage around his stomach.
“Are you Clint Barton?” The man asked and Clint nodded slowly. “We have to talk about a few bank robberies and other burglaries.”
Chapter 9: Shackled - Clint Barton & Steve Rogers & Nick Fury
“Where are we going?” Steve asked. He followed Nick Fury through a dark corridor, deep down in the basement of SHIELD’s headquarters.
“As the leader of the Avengers there’s something you need to know,” Fury said cryptically.
“But where are we going?” Steve repeated.
“Patience, Captain,” Fury said. He unlocked a massive armor-plated door and Steve helped him to open it.
Behind the door was another staircase and the two men went down to an even darker basement. And here was no electricity anymore. Fury took a torch out of a holder, lit it and gestured at Steve to keep following him.
“What is this?” Steve shook his head.
“This, Captain, is one of SHIELD’s most guarded secrets,” Fury said. They arrived at a second armor-plated door and Fury unlocked this one, too.
It was dark behind the door and Fury used the torch and suddenly there was light. Many torches illuminated a huge cave and in the middle of it sat a man.
“Oh my god,” Steve breathed. He recognized the man but… it wasn’t possible. This couldn’t be… “Clint?”
The man looked up.
“This, Captain, is not Clint Barton,” Fury said. He looked at Steve now and Steve stared open-mouthed. “This,” Fury continued, “is Clint’s… well, how do I phrase it… this is Clint’s second nature”.
Steve went closer to him but Fury’s hand stopped him halfway there.
The man - not-Clint - sat on the ground. He wore only sweatpants and had shackles around his wrists, ankles and his throat. He looked at Steve now, his head cocked. But his eyes were… different, like a cat’s or a snake’s eyes. And he seemed to be years younger than the Clint he knew.
“We asked a wizard to… to separate this part of Clint from the man you know,” Fury said. “It’s dangerous, very, very dangerous.”
“What?” Steve blurted and Fury took a deep breath.
“Show your true form,” he looked at the shackled man in the middle of the cave. He didn’t answer, he just cocked his head the other way. “Do it!” Fury snapped and reached into the pocket of his coat.And whatever he had there, it seemed to convince shackled man.
He rose to his feet, lowered his head a bit and his eyes changed. Something happened behind him, wings sprouted out of his back, his neck lengthened and scales grew on his skin. The sweatpants ripped when his legs changed and the man growled but it wasn’t a man anymore. In the middle of the cave sat a huge dragon.
“Oh… oh my fucking god,” Steve blurted. “This… this is not… this is not real! This is…”
“Agent Barton is… way older than he looks, Captain,” Fury said. “And this…”
“A dragon?” Steve yelled and pointed at the creature in front of him. “A… a dragon? You’re kidding right? I’m drunk… or drugged… or hallucinating, but this?”
“It’s true,” Fury said. “We captured it fifty years ago. Actually, it was Howard who captured it. We tried to kill it but it’s impossible. And then Agent Carter… well… Peggy knew someone who managed to separate the two. Agent Barton… he doesn’t know about this,” Fury said and gestured at the dragon. “The wizard we asked took care of it.”
“Why… why do you…” Steve gestured at the dragon again. “Why do you keep Clint as an agent if he’s so dangerous?”
“Are you kidding? Have you seen him in a battle? He’s one of my best agents,” Fury snorted. “And if it’s really, really necessary, as a last resort so to speak, we can release this creature and use its full potential.”
“Barton doesn’t know about it and it has to stay that way,” Fury said. “I told you because you, as his commanding officer, need to know. We’ll show you how you can use it to your advantage but for now,” he gestured at the stairs again and when Steve looked back he saw the shackled man sitting naked in the cave, looking at him with his weird eyes. “Let’s go.”
Chapter 10: Unconscious - Clint Barton/Logan
The winter was cold this year. Logan puffed angrily his cigar and glared out of the window of his cabin. And then he glared at the pot over the fireplace. It was still empty. He turned to the window, saw the huge snowflakes and sighed.
He was hungry and he had not much food left. That meant, he had to go out and find something to eat.
“Damn shitty weather,” he grumbled.
He took his rifle, put on his jacket and boots and went to the door. He could use his claws to kill an animal but the weather was bad and he was not in the mood to run after his food. Grumbling and puffing his cigar he trudged through the snow.
Two hours later he still hadn’t found an animal and he was in a really bad mood when he stumbled over something red in the snow. He raised his rifle to his shoulder and looked through the scope. That was no animal. That was a dead body.
With a sigh he went over to take a closer look. It was a man in a red jacket, black BDUs and combat boots. Logan looked at him for a long moment before he cursed and hunkered down beside him. He turned the man around and then he cursed even more. He knew the guy. Barton!
“Damn you, bub,” he growled, removed his glove and checked his pulse. It took him a few seconds but then he could feel it, very, very weak but steady. “At least you’re alive.”
Barton didn’t answer, he was unconscious.
With another curse Logan checked him if he was injured and when he was sure he wouldn’t bleed out or anything like that he grabbed one of his legs and one of his arms and shouldered Barton. He even managed to grab his rifle.
“You’re heavy,” he grumbled and panted after a while. “Fury should put you on a diet.”
He cursed the whole way back to his cabin, still hungry and in a foul mood. He opened the door with his foot, went in and let Barton drop as carefully as possible onto the small bed. He went to the wood stove and threw a few logs onto the dying embers before he took off his jacket and boots. He went to the still unconscious Barton and removed his boots and jacket, hesitated a moment and removed the rest of his wet clothes, too. He covered him with the blanket and went to fetch the bearskin to throw that over him as well. This should warm him up.
Then he opened the door, shoveled a few handfuls of snow in his kettle and put the kettle on the stove. He knew he had a few bouillon cubes somewhere and Barton would need the warmth and the nutrients. With a sigh and a curse Logan sat down beside him and tried to get the broth into him while his own stomach grumbled audibly.
It took two days till Barton came around. And then he seemed perplexed to see him beside the bed.
“I found you in the wood,” Logan, who saw the unspoken question in his eyes, said. “You’ve had more luck than brains. You’ve been more dead than alive and you’ve been unconscious for two days.”
“I… I was searching for you,” Barton said and Logan raised a brow. “Last time we met you said if I ever need your help I should ask you.”
“That was…” Logan started but Barton interrupted him.
“It’s Tasha, James,” he said. Logan looked at him for a very, very long moment. He knew, Barton and Romanov were close, like siblings, like twins.
“Shouldn’t’ve told you my first name,” he grumbled. Barton winked and grinned now. He sat up and cocked his head.
“I need you, James,” he said and then he batted his lashes. “And I can make it up for you, you know that.”
Logan scrutinized him again for a long moment and then he sighed.
“Tell me what happened.”
Chapter 11: Stitches - Clint Barton/Natasha Romanov
“Ouch!” Clint yelped and tried to get away.
“Don’t be a baby,” Natasha snapped and looked up to glare at him.
Clint lay on one of the beds in a dingy motel somewhere in Iowa. After a mission gone awry - Thanks, Steve! - they hid here. A whole gang of really, really angry bikers were after them because Steve sent them to find out if his buddy Bucky was one of them. Sam got a tipp a few days ago.
The two found the bikers and they even got close to them but then someone recognized Nat and everything went down the drain and after a tumultuous shooting the two agents managed to get away. But Clint got hit in the leg and bled like a stuck pig. Nat bandaged him provisorily but now in the motel she had time to take a closer look.
“I need to stitch you up,” she said and Clint winced. They both were trained in first aid but Nat was not known for her gentleness and Clint really didn’t like needles. But he removed his pants and laid down on the bed.
“Goddammit, Nat!” he cursed and twitched when she stabbed him with the needle again.
“I’m an agent and not a seamstress,” she said and glared at him.
“I know,” Clint pressed through his teeth, “but if I lose more blood I’m gonna die.”
“You’re not going to die,” Nat said matter of factly. “You can only die when I allow it and I won’t do that.”
“I have to ask you if I’m allowed to die?” Clint asked, a brow raised.
“Yes,” Nat said with a shrug and looked at him. “I told you, you’re mine and I will not let you die. Period.”
“Ah,” Clint said and then a grin appeared on his face. “Possessive, huh?”
Nat stabbed Clint with the needle in her hand and raised her brow.
“Lie still,” she said. “If you’re a good boy you’ll get a reward when I’m done.”
“A reward?” his grin broadened and he waggled his brows. And then he yelped when Nat stabbed him again.
Chapter 12: "Don't move." - Clint Barton & Hydra
“Don’t move,” the man hissed behind him. Clint stopped, closed his eyes and swallowed hard. He almost made it. He could see the door. It was within spitting distance. Two or three steps and he would’ve made it. Two or three more steps.
“Hands on your head,” the man snarled. Clint knew that he had a gun trained on him but he also knew he wouldn’t shoot.
He swallowed again and made another step. The man shot into the floor a few inches beside Clint’s feet.
“Next bullet goes in your leg,” the man said. He knew he would do it.
The door was in front of Clint. Two more steps and he could touch it.
He heard more men arrive and Clint licked his lips. Two more steps. He could make it. Two more steps and he would be out of here, would be free.
“Don’t try it, boy,” the man said again.
Hands grabbed his arms and pulled them behind his back. Clint closed his eyes. He should’ve tried it. Cuffs closed around his wrists and tied them together.
“You belong to us, boy,” someone hissed in his ear. A hand came around his body, grabbed his throat and Clint squeezed his eyes shut.
“Please,” he whispered. “Please, let me go.”
“You belong to us,” the man behind him said again.
“I… I can’t…”
“Yes, you can,” the man said. “What we do is important, boy.”
Clint’s lip shivered and his stomach was clenching in fear. The man let go of him but hands grabbed his arms again and dragged him back, dragged him to the big, white door he feared so much. It opened and he saw the lab-table in the middle of the white tiled room again. They would tie him down and then there would be pain, lots of pain.
“You’re a blessing for mankind, boy. Don’t forget that. Hail Hydra.”
“Are you sure?” Tony asked and looked down into the canyon. He could feel the platform move slightly.
Clint grinned at him like a maniac.
“Sure I’m sure,” he said and winked. “It’ll be fun.”
“I mean,” Tony turned to look at him. “You’re an agent, you’re on the verge of dying every day you go to work. Why would you want to do something like that on your day off?”
“It’ll be fun, grumpy-pants!” Clint’s grin broadened.
“But… this is ridiculous, Clint,” Tony said and looked into the canyon again.
“You fly around in a tin can,” Clint said and shrugged. “This?” he pointed at the canyon, “This is safe. And fun.”
Tony looked from him to the man, who held the climbing harnesses in his hands.
“What if I hit the rock face?” he asked.
“Don’t worry, sir,” the other man said. “This is safe.”
“Trust me,” Clint said. “I’ve done that before and it’s awesome.”
“Okay,” Tony nodded reluctantly. He licked his lips and reached for one of the harnesses. He was a genius but the thing was confusing but the man helped him into it and buckled him up.
“You first,” Clint said and grinned.
“What? Me?” Tony blurted and his eyes went wide. “Why me? Why don’t you…”
“Because I know you and I know you’re not gonna do it if you see me doing it,” Clint winked.
The man was there again, secured him and Tony grabbed the rope, looked down into the canyon and then back at Clint.
“Ready, babe?” Clint asked and Tony nodded slowly. “Then jump.”
“Yeah,” Tony said and looked into the canyon. “Right.”
“Problems?” Clint asked. Tony shook his head. He licked his lips and swallowed.
“Then jump,” Clint said again.
“Yeah,” Tony still looked down into the canyon. But then he felt a hand on his arm and he turned his head, saw Clint very close beside. And he touched Tony’s cheek, leaned in and kissed him, slow, passionately. “Ready?” he asked when they broke the kiss and now Tony nodded.
And Clint shoved him over the edge. He fell and screamed and could feel the adrenaline flood his body, could feel his heart rate go up and the wind on his skin. The rush was awesome and Tony wanted to scream and laugh and cry in happiness.
He shot through the canyon only held by ropes and - much to his chagrin - it was over way too fast. He landed on a platform and another man helped him out of the harness and moments later Clint came, too. He grinned like a loon, wrapped his arms around Tony and kissed him.
“Again?” he asked and Tony could only laugh. Clint was an adrenaline junkie and everyone knew it. But he had liked it, too, and so he nodded.
I know, it's not exactly whumpy but what can you do with "adrenaline"? Next chapter will be more whumpy!! Promised!! :D
Chapter 14: Tear-stained - Clint Barton/Thor, Clint Barton/Loki
Clint tugged at the chains that held him. He lay on a huge bed, naked and tied to the bedposts. Loki had left him minutes ago, frustrated and very, very angry. He had slammed the door shut behind himself and left Clint where he was.
He screamed into his gag, screamed for someone to come and find him but no one knew where he was, no one knew that he wasn’t on Earth anymore.
Clint was supposed to be on vacation. Steve, Tony and Fury had cornered him about a week ago and told him he hadn’t had a day off since more than three years and it was about damn time that he would take leave and they didn’t want to see him for the next month. They took his Avengers ID card, his phone and even the key to the HQ and they told FRIDAY not to take his calls. Clint had grumbled and cursed but he had mounted his bike and drove to the old farm of his family somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Iowa.
Two days later Loki appeared and with a snap of his fingers they both were gone. He was on Jotunheim - Loki had told him - and locked inside Loki’s palace. He knew he couldn’t escape, it was pure ice outside and he would freeze to death in an instant if he would leave his prison.
And since he was here Loki tried to break him. But so far Clint didn’t give in.
He just cursed the trickster silently when he heard the door. He looked up and expected to see Loki again but it was… Thor! Beautiful, strong Thor. His prayers were heard. Thor came to rescue him, to bring him back home, back to the Avengers.
But something was odd with him. Thor… Thor looked at him… and started to smirk. ‘Please, god, no!’ Clint begged inwardly. ‘Not Thor! Not him!’
Since he met him for the first time Clint had a huge crush on the big guy and he always seemed to be a nice guy. But the way he looked at him now was… frightening. He shook his head when Thor came closer and licked his lips. ‘Not Thor! Not that! Please, god, not that!’
“My brother said he left a gift for me,” he rumbled when he sat down on the bed. Clint tore at the chains and tried to get away but it was futile.
Thor put his hand on Clint’s stomach, a lecherous smile on his lips. Clint shook his head and tried to twist his body but the chains were solid.
“I like this gift,” Thor said with a grin. He shrugged out of his shirt and Clint shook his head again.
‘Please, no! Not Thor!’ he pleaded but no one could understand him with the gag in his mouth.
Thor removed the rest of his clothes and Clint could see his erection bouncing against his stomach. He squeezed his eyes shut. He had always imagined what it would be like to be with Thor. He had never expected it to be without consent.
Thor moved, climbed onto the bed and between Clint’s legs. Clint tried to close them but he couldn’t and Thor chuckled. He grabbed Clint’s knees and spread them.
Clint screamed in his gag when Thor moved, when he could feel his hard-on at his entrance. And then there was pain. Searing hot pain. Clint screamed and tears ran over his face, not only because of the pain. He couldn’t believe Thor did that to him.
He had no idea how long it took - minutes? hours? - but eventually Thor came with a hoarse scream, shot his load in Clint’s body and withdrew. He leaned down, licked the tears off of his face with a chuckle and when he moved back it wasn’t Thor anymore, it was Loki.
“See, little bird, I told you I would make you cry.”
Chapter 15: Scars - Clint Barton & Bucky Barnes
Sometimes life just fucked them over. Clint and Bucky were on a mission together. It was the first time the two were alone on a mission but when they wanted to fly back their jet had a malfunction and they crashed in the middle of nowhere in Canada.
Clint did his best to land as safely as possible but he injured himself in the process.
“I called help,” Bucky said when he came into the back of the jet. He had propped Clint on a makeshift bed made out of parachutes and sleeping beds. “They’re here in a few hours.”
“Okay,” Clint said and tried to sit up. He moaned because his ribs hurt. Maybe he had broken them when they crashed. His head hurt, too, and Bucky had ordered him to lie down. And who was Clint to disobey Steve Rogers’ best friend?
Bucky rubbed his arms and sat down on the ground.
“Let me check your ribs,” he said when Clint moaned again after moving a bit.
“What?” He asked and Bucky rose and went to him.
“Off with your shirt,” he commanded. “I want to check your ribs.”
“So, the serum gave you x-ray vision, too?” Clint mocked and Bucky only raised a brow. But when he cocked his head Clint muttered something unintelligible under his breath, sat up with a moan and removed his tac vest and shirt with Bucky’s help.
He hunkered down beside him and touched his back carefully. Slowly he let his hands trail down and Clint could feel him probing his bones under his skin. Clint flinched a few times because it fucking hurt.
“They’re not broken,” Bucky said a moment later and sat back. “Just bruised,” he added.
“Told you,” Clint mumbled and tried to take a deep breath, but it hurt and his breath stuttered. Bucky looked at him worriedly.
“I’m okay,” he said and lay back without his shirt. He knew it would hurt to put it on again.
“That’s… uh…” Bucky said and rubbed the back of his neck, “... uh… quite a collection.”
“Huh?” Clint frowned and propped himself up on his elbow. Bucky sat down beside him leaned his back against the wall of the quinjet.
“The scars,” Bucky said and now Clint looked down at himself.
“Yeah, that’s… well… that’s the story of my life, carved into my skin,” he sighed. “But I guess you have some, too, right?”
Bucky nodded and then pointed at a very criss-cross-y scar on Clint’s chest. “This one looks interesting. What happened?”
“Really?” Clint asked and Bucky shrugged.
“We have some time to kill until the others pick us up. So we can… I don’t know… talk.” He rolled up the right sleeve of his short and showed Clint a long but faint scar.
“This one happened when I had to defend Steve from a few guys in Brooklyn. Idiot couldn’t keep his mouth shut, even if his life depended on it. They tried to beat him up, I interrupted them and one of them cut me with his pocket knife.” He rolled the sleeve down again. “Now you,” he said and added a moment later, “Well, if you want to.”
“No,” Clint interrupted him. “That’s… that’s okay. So,” he said and looked at the scar on his chest. “Funny story. It happened in Budapest…”
Chapter 16: Pinned down - Clint Barton/Bruce Banner
“Hulk won’t hurt me,” Clint used to say. And he knew he was right. Hulk liked him. And Hulk was not the only one. Bruce liked him, too. And Clint liked Bruce. A lot.
Hulk always tried to help him when they were in a fight, he always had an eye on him despite wreaking havoc on their enemies.
This morning aliens appeared. Again. For the third time this month. This time they were in Los Angeles.
The Avengers assembled, they flew to the site where the aliens landed and when they sent their monkey-like creatures to attack them the Avengers fought back They weren’t hard to fight but they were many.
Steve ordered Clint onto a building to be their eye in the sky and Tony brought him. So far nothing unusual.
But unlike the Chitauri these dudes knew about their number and they used it to their advantage.
Clint had no idea how many of these fuckers he had killed but eventually they managed to get on the roof where he was. He shot at them but they were too many.
“Fuck! I have to change position,” he said through the comms, shot a grapple arrow at another building and just wanted to leave this roof when something hit him in the back. An alien threw itself on him and Clint stumbled. Mere moments later the others were there, too, and they all threw themselves on him, tried to bite him, to scratch him, to hurt him. He tried to move but he was pinned to the roof and could barely breathe. The sheer number of these creatures pressed him down.
“Help!” Clint wheezed. He tried to get his arm down to the gun at his side but the creatures bit into it and he yelped. More aliens tried to get to him and the weight of them was almost unbearable. He could feel his ribs crunch and it went dark around him.
But then he was here. With an earth-shattering scream Hulk landed on the roof and grabbed the alien creatures to throw them away. Clint greedily sucked in the air as soon as he could while Hulk still raged at the aliens, threw them off of the building and he even ripped some of them apart.
“Cupid ok?” he asked when Clint didn’t get up immediately. Clint nodded and breathed hard.
“Yes, Cupid is okay,” he said and smiled. Hulk growled, grabbed Clint’s bow, pressed it in his hand and jumped down to fight more aliens. Clint winced, took his bow and went, too.
They won. And on their flight back to the HQ Bruce came to him into the back of the quinjet, sat down beside Clint and scrutinized him.
“Cupid okay?” he asked, a worried smile on his lips and Clint nodded again.
“Yes,” he said. “Cupid is okay.”
“That’s good,” Bruce said. And then he leaned over to kiss him.
Chapter 17: "Stay with me" - Clint Barton/Tony Stark
TW: char. death
It was supposed to be a lazy sunday. Clint and Tony slept late and when they got up they went to one of Tony’s favorite places to have brunch. It was a small cafe not far away from Central Park and they loved it. People there knew them and they didn’t get bothered by fans.
“Come on,” Clint said when they left the cafe later. Happy waited for them beside one of Tony’s limousines and had already opened the door. “It’s a beautiful day. Let’s take a walk through the park.”
“You want to walk in the park?” Tony asked, a brow raised and Clint nodded, a broad smile on his lips.
“The sun is shining, it’s warm, we have nothing to do,” he said. “Come on, it’ll be nice.”
Tony pursed his lips but then he nodded and went to Happy to tell him that they would walk. Happy sighed and just wanted to get into his car when they both heard screams and yells from the sidewalk behind.
Tony whirled around, saw Clint look in his direction, his hands over his stomach… and slump down to the ground.
“Clint!!” he yelled and ran to him. “Clint!”
A man with a handbag and a bloody knife in his hand stared disbelievingly at the scene in front of him. And then he seemed to realize what just happened and tried to run away. It was Happy who stopped him with a fist in his face.
Tony slithered down beside Clint. He tried to say something but blood bubbled out of his mouth.
“Ambulance!” Tony screamed at the people around them. “Call an ambulance!”
“T-tony,” Clint managed but it seemed to hurt a lot.
“Shh, baby,” Tony said and leaned down to him. He pressed his hand on the bleeding wound in Clint’s stomach.
“Oh god,” a woman cried. “He… he tried to help me.”
“What happened?” Tony snapped and looked at her. Happy had his phone pressed to his ear and called an ambulance already.
“This guy tried to rob my purse but… but he stopped him and then…” she shook her head. “He had a knife…”
“T-tony…” Clint whispered barely audibly. “I… I… l-love…”
“Shh, Clint. Don’t try to speak,” Tony said. Clint was so pale and there was so much blood.
“No, Clint,” he said when he winced again and lost consciousness. “No, Clint! Stay with me! Please, stay with me!”
Where was the ambulance? Why did it take so long for them to come?
“Please, Clint, don’t do that to me, don’t leave me alone!” He knelt beside him, held his head in his lap and pressed his hand on his stomach. Blood seeped through Tony’s hands.
“I love you, Clint,” he said. “Don’t leave me, do you hear me? Please, baby, stay with me!”
He had no idea how much time passed when he heard the siren of the ambulance. Two women shoved him aside, started to work while Tony always murmured that Clint should stay with him.
And then one of the EMTs said the words Tony dreaded the most. Happy was beside him and held him.
“I’m sorry, sir.”
Chapter 18: Muffled scream - Clint Barton/Matt Murdock
Matt Murdock loved to walk to his office. It wasn’t far away from his apartment and he liked the buzz of the streets in New York. He usually met Foggy in their favorite coffee shop and then they went to the office together.
But today Matt got distracted on his way. He had just passed a side street when he heard a faint noise out of it. No one else seemed to hear it but Matt’s senses were more efficient since he lost his sight and he heard way more than ordinary people. It sounded as if someone was in distress.
Matt cocked his head and listened. The sound came out of the side street but apparently no one was there. He concentrated on the people around him on the sidewalk but no one else seemed to hear it. He checked his watch and sighed. He was late already and Foggy would be worried but there was someone who needed help.
Slowly he went into the side street, still concentrating on the sound muffled screams he could hear. They came out of the trunk of a parked car. Someone was locked in the trunk of a car? Matt frowned. He listened… but still no one was here aside from the person in the trunk.
He went to the car and tried if he could open it. It was locked.
He listened out once more and then reached in the inside pocket of his jacket, took out the lock picks and fumbled for the lock. Fortunately it was an older car and it still had a lock he could pick. It didn’t take much time and Matt could open the trunk lid.
A man lay inside, tied up, gagged and he could smell blood. He tried to say something but it was still muffled. But Matt recognized him nevertheless. It was his smell of coffee, pizza, dog and something very, very unique.
“Clint?” he asked incredulously. “Why are you in the trunk?”
The response was still muffled but somehow angry. Oh shoot! He was gagged.
Matt reached out, fumbled a bit and removed the gag.
“Why are you in the trunk?” he repeated.
“Oh, I thought I want to chill a bit in the trunk and to get more relaxed I gagged myself and tied me up,” Clint snapped.
“Okay,” Matt said dryly, ignoring his outburst. “Then I leave you to your own devices.”
“Fuck you, Murdock,” Clint grumbled. “Will you help me out already?”
Matt couldn’t hold back the grin but he took out his pocket knife to undo the zip ties. And then he helped Clint out of the trunk.
“Thanks man,” Clint said and scratched the back of his neck. “I owe you one.”
“An explanation would be nice,” he said. “You still haven’t told me why you’ve been in that trunk.”
“Uh… that’s a long story. Maybe I should tell you over dinner?"
“Are you inviting me to go out with you?” Matt asked and Clint nodded.
“Yes,” he said and Matt raised a brow.
“Okay,” he said. “Can’t wait for it.”
And he didn’t mean the explanation.
Chapter 19: Asphyxation - Clint Barton & Phil Coulson
It was supposed to be his first solo mission. Clint Barton was twenty-one years old, reckless as shit and currently in deep doo-doo. Three years ago he joined SHIELD and a week ago Coulson had told him that he was ready for a solo mission.
It was a clusterfuck. Intel was sloppy and now he had to suffer the consequences.
He was supposed to infiltrate an Iranian research facility to steal their plans for a new super-weapon. He had had a bad feeling about the mission plan they gave him but his handler had told him to shut his mouth and do what he was told to do.
Clint flew to Iran, drove to the facility and went in, according to the directives he had. But the mission went down the drain as soon as he entered the facility. There were way more guards than Intel told him and they discovered him way too early. He managed to kill a few of the guards but then they captured him.
And now he lay on a table, his head lower than his feet. His hands were bound to the side of the table and his feet were shackled to keep him in position. A broad strap held his upper body.
Three men came in and when Clint saw the things they had in their hands he swallowed hard. A watering can and a piece of cloth. They said something in a language Clint didn’t understand and laughed.
Clint struggled against his bonds but they were too tight. One of the men held his head, the second one pressed a cloth over his face and then came the water. I was cold, it ran over his face, it went up his nose, up his throat and the only thing Clint could think about was oxygen. He couldn’t breathe, he struggled and tried to get away but it was impossible. It hurt when the water ran through his nose and into his lungs.
The cloth disappeared and greedily Clint sucked in air, two breaths, three breaths… and the cloth was back. So was the water. It was impossible to think about something else than the fact that he would drown every moment.
The cloth disappeared again and they let him breathe a bit before they went on. He convulsed in his bonds, tried to get away but it was impossible. Sometimes they said something and he could breathe a few moments longer but he couldn’t understand them and they continued.
He had no idea how long he lay on the table but eventually he lost consciousness.
“Agent Barton,” a voice said and Clint startled awake. He was in a dark cell, lying in his own vomit. A man hunkered down beside him and Clint recognized him immediately.
“Co-coulson?” he stammered. The man nodded. A few more agents were behind him.
“We’re here to bring you home.”
Chapter 20: Trembling - Clint Barton/Scott Lang
Scott was worried. He hadn’t seen Clint for a whole week. He’d been in his dorm, he’d been on the range and he’d been in his favorite coffee shop but no trace of Clint.
“Where is he?” he asked Natasha and she only looked at him, stirred in her cup of tea and raised a brow.
“I’m not his babysitter, Lang,” she said coldly. He knew she didn’t like him and she hated that he dated her best friend.
“I’m worried, Nat,” he said and when she pressed her lips together he added quickly, “-tasha.”
Nat looked at him and Scott had to concentrate not to flinch. She was very protective about Clint and told him that she would kill him if he ever hurt him. But Scott really loved him and he wouldn’t hurt Clint.
Natasha sighed heavily and rolled her eyes. “He’s at Tony’s house,” she said.
“Why?” Scott blurted. Tony? Tony Stark? The college’s most attractive and highly coveted student? The guy who was richer than all the other students together?
“I am not his babysitter,” Natasha repeated, empathising every word very clearly. Scott cocked his head. She knew why he was there, she just didn’t want to tell him.
“Fine,” Scot said, angry now. “I’ll find out myself.”
Natasha snorted and took a long sip from her tea and Scott left the cafeteria, muttering under his breath.
Still grumbling he went to his bicycle and rode to the house Tony Stark lived in. Of course the great Tony Stark didn’t live in an ordinary dorm, no he had rented a villa outside of the campus where he resided and had his parties Scott was never invited to.
He stopped in front of the door and rang but no one opened. Scott shifted from one foot to the other before he looked over his shoulder and walked around the house. He looked in the windows but couldn’t see anything inside. But then he saw an open window and - looking around once more - he climbed in.
The house was luxurious furnished and Scott barely dared to walk on the expensive carpet. He heard voices from another room and recognized one of them immediately. He went over, prepared for the worst and then… he stared open mouthed.
“What the…” he muttered and stared. He had expected to find Clint and Tony making out or worse but this? This was… unexpected.
“Oh! Hey, Scott!” Clint, who had just looked up, said and waved.
“What’s he doing here?” Tony, who just wrote on a whiteboard, turned around, his marker still in his hand.
Scott saw equations all over every surface, books and papers on the tables, the floors, even the chairs and Clint and Tony in the middle of all the chaos.
“What are you doing here?” he asked and went over to them. Clint looked awful. His hair stood in every direction, he stank and his hands trembled violently. He saw dozens of dirty mugs and empty pizza cartons.
“We’re working on something,” Clint said and grinned manically. “It’s…”
“Clint,” Scott reached out and took Clint’s hands. They didn’t even stop trembling when he held them. “When was the last time you slept?” he asked.
Clint furrowed his brows and looked at Tony, who shrugged and took a sip from his mug.
“Who cares,” he mumbled and Scott turned back to Clint.
“Clint, baby,” he said gently. “You can’t do that, okay? You need to eat properly and you need to sleep.”
“But we’re sooo close…” Clint held up thumb and index finger and they almost touched. “It’s…”
“... time for a break,” Scott interrupted him. “You need to eat, you need to sleep and - most of all - you need to shower!”
“But we…” Tony started now and Scott whirled around and glared at him.
“He’s going to be an Olympic archer, Stark,” he hissed, “And he can’t shoot straight with his hands trembling because you put him on a pizza and caffeine diet! I’ll take him home and maybe… maybe!!... he can come back in two days.”
“In two days? Are you nuts? I need my maths genius right here!” Tony blurted but Scott just continued glaring.
“Clint, come with me,” Scott said and held out his hand.
“Only five minutes,” Clint whined but when Scott turned to him he nodded. “Okay. Bye Tony!”
Scott took Clint’s hand and went with him.
“And now you’re gonna sleep.”
Chapter 21: Laced drink - Clint Barton/Tony Stark
He had no idea in which part of the town he was when he entered the bar. Earlier that afternoon he and Tony had a fight, a serious fight, and Clint slammed the door shut behind himself, got on his bike and drove around for a while. But then his eyes fell onto this sign and for a moment it seemed to be a good idea. Get smashed and then… well… what then?
He sat down on a stool, ordered a vodka, downed it and ordered the next one.
“Hey,” a voice said beside him. Clint emptied his glass and looked at the man beside him.
“Hey,” he said, too, and gave the bartender a sign to refill his glass.
“I know you,” the man beside him said. He was tall, brunette and had a goatee. And he smiled at him. “You’re an Avenger, right?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Clint muttered, emptied his third vodka and ordered the next one.
“I’ve seen you on TV,” the man said. Clint glared at him, took his glass, emptied it and rose from his seat. He could feel the vodka in his system already and he swayed a bit.
“I’m sure you’re mistaking me for someone else,” he slurred. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to drink all the alcohol in only a few minutes. With a last glance at the guy he turned to go to the bathroom, went to the sink and threw a few hands of water in his face and rubbed his eyes.
“What are you doing here, Clint?” he asked himself. He should go home and talk to Tony. He should. But… No, Tony was an ass and he should apologize.
The other guy was still there when Clint came back to his chair and he smiled at him.
“Sorry, man,” he said as soon as Clint sat again. “I didn’t want to be obtrusive. I just… I never met one of you guys before and I’m a fan and…” He reached for one of the two bottles of beer on the bar. “... here, let me buy you a drink.”
He pressed the bottle in Clint’s hand and took the other one.
Clint eyed it for a very long moment. Even strangers had no problems to apologize.
“It’s okay,” he said with a shrug and the man clinked the neck of his bottle to Clint’s and drank. Clint drank, too. The man smiled.
“So, you are an Avenger, right?” the man asked and Clint shrugged again. Something felt weird. Maybe he had too much alcohol too quickly but somehow his head spun and there was this weird taste on his tongue.
“Are you okay?” the man asked and he looked concerned. “Maybe you should get some fresh air?”
Clint nodded and tried to get off of his chair, but his knees buckled and he could barely hold himself upright on the chair he just sat on.
“Whoa,” the man said and came to him, took his arm and put his other hand around his waist. “Come on, let me help you,” he said, threw a handful of bills onto the bar and led Clint to the door.
“Wha…” Clint slurred and the man held his arm a little tighter but he didn’t stop when they were in front of the bar, he kept walking, led Clint into the small side alley. “No, stop…”
The man ignored him, shoved Clint against the wall and pressed himself up against him. His hand slid under Clint’s shirt. Clint tried to shove him away but he felt so weak, could barely move his arms. The man grabbed both of Clint’s wrists and pinned them above his head while his knee slid between Clint’s legs and pressed. It hurt. He leaned in, tried to kiss Clint but he managed to turn his head away. The man grabbed Clint’s face and forced him to look at him before he just kissed him.
“No,” Clint breathed when the man’s hand slid down his body and to his fly, fumbled with the button and just tried to open it, when he suddenly was gone.
“What the fuck!!” Someone called angrily.
Clint slumped down, fell onto the dirty ground and saw a really, really pissed Tony kick the guy from the bar viciously. And then he was beside him, caressed his cheek.
“Hey, babe,” he whispered and tried to help Clint up.
“Tony?” he murmured and blinked confused.
“Yeah, it’s me,” Tony said. “I’m here, babe. Come on, let’s get you home.”
“Sorry,” Clint murmured but Tony shook his head.
“I love you, let’s go home.”
Chapter 22: Halluzination - Clint Barton & team
“Hawkeye! Get down!” Steve called through the comms. Clint reacted immediately but it was too late. The dart hit him in the leg and he stumbled. He looked down, saw the tranquilizer dart and pulled it out. He blinked. Once. Twice. And then he fell.
He floated. He had no idea where he was. The clouds around him were pink and purple and he floated on them. Weird sounds came from somewhere but he was alone with the penguin on his cloud.
“Hey,” the penguin said and Clint cocked his head. A talking penguin?
“Why are you green?” Clint slurred. He tried to lift his head but it was too big and too heavy.
“Why are you orange?” the penguin asked back and Clint frowned.
He wasn’t orange, was he? He looked down and saw that six of his eight legs were indeed orange. The other two were blue and pink.
“Huh,” Clint said and climbed into his net. He looked down at the world from his vantage point and wondered, why everyone else was so fucking tiny.
“Clint, come on,” Steve murmured and ran to the waiting quinjet with him. “You’re going to be alright.”
Bucky and Nat were behind him and shot at their attackers but Steve carried Clint in his arms. He had no idea where the rest of the Avengers were at the moment but it was highly probable that they were still in the lab, trying to find an antidote.
Blue and green flames licked at Clint’s wings. He tried to fly away but his feathers started to burn and it smelled awful, like burning gummy bears. The swimming giraffe followed him with her eyes and bubbles came out of her ears.
“You can’t get away,” she said and Clint tried to beat his wings faster, but they were numb from the exertion.
It was so hot, so damn hot and burning ice ran over Clint’s furry back.
“I cannot stay,” he breathed and the daisies giggled. Their yellow petals flew around and blocked his view.
“You cannot leave,” they sang and showed him their fangs. “You’re ours and we will eat you!”
“No!!” Clint flapped his wings faster but the ice cold flames burnt them and he fell.
“Doctor!” Natasha yelled as soon as she entered the hospital. “We need a doctor!”
A few people ran over to them, two nurses brought a stretcher and Steve placed Clint gently on it.
“What happened?” a woman asked him.
“He was dosed with an unknown drug,” Steve told her and she nodded. “We’re trying to find it but…”
“Okay,” the woman said and turned around. “Shock room two!” she snapped. “I need a full blood exam and…” they shoved the stretcher to a door and they couldn’t hear the rest of it.
“Oh my god,” Bucky mumbled. “I hope he’s going to be okay.”
“He will,” Natasha said confidently. “He survived so much shit, he will survive this, too.”
Steve looked at her, his lips a tight line.
“I hope you’re right.”
Natasha glared at him.
He was floating. He couldn’t feel his body. He knew he had one but when he looked down he could barely see it. It was so tiny and water ran out of it. It shrank and shrank with every moment and Clint could hear it vanish. The smell of roses was so hot, he could barely breathe. And with all the cotton candy in his head he couldn’t think. He was floating.
Bruce burst in, a relieved smile on his lips. “We have it!”
Steve sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. “Thank god!”
Chapter 23: Bleeding out - Clint Bartin & Maria Hill
“Oh fuck!” Clint cursed and ducked. The bullets hit the wall behind him and he crawled on his knees to the edge of the roof to look down into the garden. Where the fuck was Maria?
He usually worked with Natasha or Bobbi, sometimes with Sharon. But Maria Hill? Not so much. But for this mission it was essential that Maria was here and Fury wanted his best sniper with her. So Clint took his stuff and went with her to Sweden.
But Maria was out of active duty for a while and for a tiny moment her cover slipped and… well… their enemies weren’t exactly dumb. That’s why Clint sat on a roof, tried to cover Maria’s retreat while she tried to get to him without being shot.
He had no idea the swedes could be so vengeful.
“Are you okay, Eagle one?” he asked when he couldn’t spot Maria.
“Yes,” she hissed through her comms and then Clint could hear two gunshots. “But they are close.”
“Where are you?” Clint asked. He shot two men with one arrow, grinned for a moment and hunkered down behind the chimney again.
“Behind the Magnolias,” she whispered and Clint heard more gunshots.
“The what?” Clint asked. He had no idea what a Magnolia was and where the fuck he would find them in the damn garden.
“Right beside the pool,” Maria said. Clint saw the damn Magnolias now but still no Maria.
“Eagle one, I can’t cover you!” he hissed and stood up a few inches. But that was a mistake. He heard a gunshot and then there was pain in his back. He slumped down, couldn’t hold his bow anymore.
“Eagle two!” Maria yelled in her comms.
“Fuck,” Clint groaned. “They… shit…”
“Eagle two!” Maria said. “Tell me what happened?”
Clint tried to turn around but his back hurt like a motherfucker and he could barely move.
“Stay where you are, Eagle two,” Maria blurted. “And keep your head down.”
He would’ve laughed if it didn’t hurt so much.
No one was around, the shooter was down in the garden, too. He heard gunshots and yelling and steps and more gunshots.
His heart beat faster and he began to sweat. Once more he tried to move but it hurt so much.
“Ma-maria…” he breathed.
“Hang on, Barton,” she muttered. She forgot to call him his codename because she was really worried right now. And there weren’t many agents around anymore.
“Barton,” she said when Clint didn’t answer. “Talk to me, Barton.”
“Sorry,” Clint whispered and Maria rose, shot three agents and ran to the house. She entered it, shot two more agents and ran to the stairs.
“Hang on! That’s an order!” she commanded. She tapped her comm and switched the channel.
“Eagle one, here,” she said. “I need emergency evac asap!”
“Ten-four, Eagle one,” the pilot said.
Maria reached the roof access and opened the door carefully but no one was outside aside from Barton. He lay in a huge puddle of blood, seeping out of a wound in his back.
“Barton,” she slithered down beside him and felt his pulse. It was weak but still there. “Barton, you’re not gonna die here!”
“Eagle one, we’re coming in,” the pilot said. Maria whirled around and shot one of the last remaining agents before the quinjet landed.
“They are here, Clint,” she whispered. But Clint didn’t answer anymore.
Chapter 24: Secret injury - Clint Barton/Phil Coulson
“Okay, Agent Barton,” Fury said and closed the folder. “Debriefing finished. Go to medical to get checked up.”
“I’ve been there already,” Clint lied with a straight face. He rolled up his sleeve and showed him the bandage one of the other agents had applied to his arm in the quinjet. It was just a scratch.
Fury scrutinized him with his one eye for a very long moment before he nodded.
“Take a few days off, Clint,” he said and sat down. Clint nodded. Fury seldom used his first name but sometimes he did and it usually was a sign that he really worried about someone.
“Thanks, sir,” Clint said and went to the door. He left the office, left the building and went to his pick-up. Carefully he slid behind the wheel and then he winced.
His back hurt like hell. During the mission he had to duck and fell onto his back. And he landed on his quiver.
“Fuck,” he cursed. He had lied to Fury but if medical would’ve seen his back they would’ve grounded him and Clint hated to be grounded. And it wasn’t serious, was it? A few painkillers, a few days sleep and he was okay again.
Carefully he led his car through the city and drove to his apartment building, parked it and went in. The elevator didn’t work again and Clint grumbled that someone should call the landlord and yell at him. But the landlord was he himself and so he just went up to his apartment, grumbling and wincing.
He went to his couch and sat down, winced, and closed his eyes. Damn back, damn fail. With a sigh he rose again, went to the bathroom, took a handful of pills out of the bottle with painkillers and swallowed them with some water.
With a curse he glared at the stairs up to his bedroom and went to the couch again. He lay down and closed his eyes. And with a yawn he fell asleep.
“...int,” he heard a faint noise. His world shook and it hurt. Clint groaned in pain.
“Oh God, please, Clint,” he heard. Something cold touched his cheek and shook him again. “Please, baby, don’t do that to me,” the voice said.
“Wha…” he slurred and tried to move, tried to open his eyes but it didn’t work. Something shook him again.
“Clint, please,” the voice said again and now Clint recognized it. Phil!
“Phil?” he asked, barely audible. “What…”
“Oh thank god!” Phil said. “I thought… I thought you were dead!”
“Wha…” he asked again.
“You took half a bottle of pills, baby,” Phil said. “Why didn’t you tell anyone that you’re injured?”
“Don’t know…” Clint said and this time he managed to open his eyes. “Hurts…”
“The ambulance is on the way,” Phil said. “You just have to hang on a few more moments, okay?”
“‘Kay,” Clint whispered. “Love you, Phil…”
“I love you, too.”
And then they could hear the sirens. Finally.
Chapter 25: Humiliation - Clint Barton/Bruce Banner
Everyone loved Bruce. Bruce was a nice guy, a gentle soul with a kind smile. Clint loved Bruce, too, but not like the others. He was in love with him. And sometimes… sometimes he hated him.
Bruce was a nice guy, but he had a dark side. And no, it was not his little green problem. Hulk? Hulk was a clumsy but lovable giant in Clint’s eyes and Hulk would never hurt Clint.
No, Hulk would never hurt Clint. Not like Bruce did sometimes. Sometimes when he was in a bad mood.
“Here’s your tea,” Clint said and placed the mug on the table between loads of papers Bruce was brooding over for days.
“What the fuck, Clint!” Bruce blurted and looked up angrily. Clint furrowed his brows.
“You can’t just place a mug here! Can’t you see that it blocks my view on these papers? And it leaves stians!” he snapped. “They call you Hawkeye and you can’t see that?”
He gestured wildly with his hands at some of the papers. And then he accidentally touched the mug, it fell and the tea spilled over the table. And Bruce’s papers were soaked in an instant.
“The fuck!” He snapped. “See? That’s your fault!”
“Why is this my fault?” Clint tried to defend himself but Bruce’s expression darkened.
“You put the mug here and now my work is ruined because of your idiocy!” he snarled.
“You could’ve put it…” Clint started but Bruce interrupted him.
“Get out!” He hissed. On his way to the door Clint could hear him grumble.
“Don’t know why I still waste my time with you.”
Clint stopped and turned around again.
“I… I just thought…” he started and Bruce snorted snidely.
“Noticed your error?” he said. “You’re a good bed warmer but don’t try to think! Here are people more qualified to do that! I’m surprised you still know how to breathe!”
Clint blushed violently. Bruce knew that he left school with fourteen and that he never graduated. He knew that it was a sore point.
“I’m sorry,” Clint said and cast his eyes down. He closed the door behind himself, went to fetch his bow and went to the range.
He had no idea how long he was there but at some point he sensed another presence behind himself and he put his bow down. Bruce was here.
“I’m sorry,” he said and looked abashed. “I shouldn’t’ve yelled at you.”
Clint pressed his lips together and folded his arms over his chest.
“But… I worked and…” he scratched the back of his neck. “I’m sorry, Clint. I love you.”
Clint took a deep breath and eventually he nodded.
“I love you, too, Bruce.”
And he knew he did. Until next time Bruce had a bad mood.
Chapter 26: Abandoned - Clint Barton & Barney Barton & Lucky the dog
Clint woke with a headache. He groaned and sat up.
“What the…” he started and looked around. He… he was alone. No one was around. Everyone was gone, the whole tribe was gone. The tents, the animals, the people. Everyone was gone. His parents, his brother, they were gone, too.
He looked over his shoulder. Behind himself was the lake and behind the lake was the wall of rock with the waterfall. He could even see the empty fireplaces.
“Hello?” he called and rose. His bow and his arrows lay beside him but his horse was gone, too. “Hello?” he called again and then heard something rustle. Something was in one of the bushes and Clint fumbled for his knife. “I… I’m armed… come out and…” he said. His voice shook a bit and he licked his lips nervously. “:.. And fight.”
The bushes rustled some more and Clint made a step backwards. But when he saw what came out of the bush he almost laughed. It was the one eyed dog he fed sometimes when no one one saw him.
“You’re lucky you’re cute,” he mumbled and scratched the dog’s ears. “Guess we’re alone now.”
The dog sat down and wagged his tail. He panted and it almost looked as if he smiled.
“Come on, dog,” he said and then he cocked his head. “Lucky. I will call you Lucky.”
The dog woofed once and wagged his tail some more.
“Let’s find out where they are and why they left us behind, okay?”
The dog woofed again.
Clint shouldered his bow and started to walk to one of the sides of the valley when he sa man, sitting on a horse and apparently waiting. Clint recognized him immediately.
“Barney!” He sighed relieved. But when he wanted to go to him Barney drew an arrow, nocked it and aimed at Clint. “Barney?”
“Stay where you are,” Barney snarled.
“Barney, it’s me, Clint! You’re brother!” Clint said but Barney snorted.
“You’re not my brother, demon. My brother is dead. And now don’t move or I have to shoot you again.”
“Again?” Clint frowned and Barney gestured at Clint’s chest. And now he could see the holes in his clothes.
“What the... “ he mumbled. “You did that?”
“Not the first time,” Barney said. “But when you came around after you died, I shot you again.”
“I… died?” Clint asked, his mouth agape. “What do you mean I died? I’m not dead, Barney.”
“But you’ve been dead,” his brother said. “You died in the battle against the Romans and I brought you to our tent to bury you properly. But then you woke up. You’re a demon!”
“Barney! I’m not a demon. I’m your brother! Believe me! I’m Clint!”
“No!” Barney said. He put the arrow back in his quiver and glared at Clint. “Stay away from us, demon.”
Barney didn’t listen anymore. He turned his horse around and galloped off.
Clint stared disbelievingly.
And then he felt something, no, someone come closer. He could actually feel the person come closer and a moment later a young man appeared, a smirk on his face.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m not here to harm you. My name is Kronos and I bet you have loads of questions.”
Chapter 27: Ranson - Clint Barton/Tony Stark
“You know, SHIELD doesn’t pay ransom,” Clint said and looked at one of his captors. The guy seemed to be the boss here. He grinned at Clint and nodded.
“I know,” he said. “But that’s no problem.”
“Yeah? You going to kill me then?” Clint asked, a brow raised. He sat in a basement on a chair, his hands tied behind his back and his feet bound to the legs of the chair.
“No,” the man’s grin broadened. “But I know someone else who’s going to pay for you.”
“Really?” Clint asked and the man nodded again. “If you mean Tony then…”
“Your lover? Nah,” the man shook his head this time. “I mean, we could offer you to him and we know he would pay but…”
“Stark Industries also doesn’t negotiate with kidnappers,” Clint said.
“And that’s why we didn’t call him, too,” the man grinned.
Clint frowned. He had thought they would call SHIELD or Tony but…
“Who?” he asked.
“Oh, you’re going to see soon,” the man shrugged.
“Who? Tell me!” Clint demanded.
“It’s someone who…” he started but they got interrupted by the door being kicked in. It hit his kidnapper and threw him onto the wall behind him and a moment later Clint saw the red of Tony’s suit in the opening.
He kicked the kidnapper again and the man collapsed in a heap. He opened his faceplate and smirked at Clint.
“Hey, baby,” he said. “Missed me?”
Clint took a deep breath and leaned forward to undo the ties around his legs. He had opened the knots around his hands a while ago.
“Yeah, Tony, I always miss you,” he said and rose. “But you’re too early.”
Tony cocked his head.
“He just wanted to tell me who was going to pay ransom for me and…” he looked at the unconscious man at the floor, “...well.”
“Sorry,” Tony said but Clint knew he didn’t really mean it. Instead he leaned forward, put his hand under Clint’s chin and kissed him. “Guess we have to find out the old fashioned way.”
“Yeah,” Clint said.
And then they said in unison, “Natasha.”
Chapter 28: Beaten - Clint Barton/Phil Coulson
Clint was happy when Phil came back. They thought he died in the Battle of New York but Fury somehow managed to resurrect him. He got his own team, a plane and all the stuff he wanted.
But apparently he missed something because one day he stood in the Avengers’ new compound.
Yes, Clint was happy to see him. But Steve was not.
In the last few months he and Clint became friends. Close friends. And somehow he had hoped they would become… more. Yes, he had a crush on the archer but Clint was an attractive man, he was funny and sweet and caring and Steve was ninety-five, not dead. Sue him.
But well, Phil was back and Phil and Clint were a thing before... before Loki. And Clint was happy to see him so Steve stepped back. As long as Clint was happy, he was happy too. Sort of.
It took them about a week and Clint moved back in with Phil. It hurt Steve to not see him around so often anymore, but Clint came over regularly.
“Oh my god, Barton,” Tony burst out as soon as Clint came into the communal kitchen one morning. “What happened to your cheek?”
Steve, who just read his newspaper, looked up and saw a huge bruise on Clint’s right cheek.
“Yeah, uh…” Clint scratched the back of his neck. “We moved into our old house and we’re renovating. Phil broke down a wall to extend the kitchen and it’s not a good idea to walk when rubble flies around,” he said.
“You should be more careful,” Steve said quietly. “We… uh… we need your eyes intact.”
Clint looked at him and nodded.
“Will do that,” he said.
A few days later Clint came over and Steve saw him limping. He flinched with every step he made.
“What happened?” he wanted to know and Clint licked his lips.
“I was jogging this morning,” he said and cast his eyes down for a moment. “A guy on a bike stole an older woman’s purse and I stopped him. And well,” he gestured at his hip, “I fell. But at least I could secure the purse.”
Steve nodded slowly. He had seen Clint training with the team and this sounded a lot like bullshit to him. He would never fall while chasing a guy on a bike. But when Clint smiled he nodded and he left it be, even if his gut told him that something was definitely not okay.
And then he saw that something was not okay.
Clint had a shiner and came up with some lame excuse again. This time he told them he tripped over Coulson’s briefcase and fell and he had to get used to another person around him again.
But then the whole team went to the gym to spar and not only Steve but all of them could see the hand-shaped bruise on Clint’s upper arm. And Steve put two and two together.
He left the gym, went to the elevator, rode to SHIELD’s new section in the Avengers compound and went to the floor where Fury and Hill - and now Coulson, too - had their offices. But Coulson was not in his office.
An agent told him that Coulson was in a meeting with Fury and Hill and - completely calm - he went there, kicked in the door, strode in, grabbed Coulson and slammed him into the next wall. He held his throat and the man gasped for air.
“What the fuck are you doing!” Fury bellowed but Steve ignored him.
“I know what you did. I’ve seen it. If you ever,” he hissed strangled, “ever lay a hand on Clint again, I swear to god, I will…”
“Rogers!” Fury interrupted him. “What do you…”
“He knows what he did,” Steve growled, now in Fury’s direction.
“Coulson?” Fury turned to Coulson and cocked his head. “What’s he talking about?”
“He…” Coulson tried to say and Steve let go of his throat so he could speak. “He needs discipline. A strong hand and…”
“You beat him! Repeatedly!” Steve growled and raised his hand to backhand him but now it was Hill who stopped him.
“We will take care of it, Captain,” she said with wrath in her eyes. Fury nodded, his lips a thin line.
“If he ever comes close to Clint again,” Steve repeated and Hill looked at Coulson now.
“He won’t, am I right?”
“Sure,” Coulson agreed reluctantly and Steve stepped back.
And Clint started to smile again.
Chapter 29: Numb - Clint Barton/Natasha Romanov
It rained. It was as if the powers that be wanted to serve up each and every cliche available. Clint carried the casket together with other Avengers.
He stood beside the grave when the priest did his thing, he watched the casket being lowered into the hole and he stood there when all his friends and colleagues offered their sympathy with him.
But Clint just stared at the open hole, at the casket. And at the woman who lay inside.
Natasha was inside of it. The Guardians flew him back to Vormir and the guy with the red head agreed that he could have her body. He carried her to the ship on his arms, he sat with her the whole way back to Earth and he held her till Fury convinced him to give her to the mortician.
He couldn’t cry. He just couldn’t. He was so… numb.
It should be him inside of that box, not her. Him.
“She was a true hero,” said Sam and Clint nodded.
“She knew what she did,” said Bucky.
“She was the best of us,” said Wanda.
“She did it to save the universe,” said Peter Quill and Clint just looked at him.
“She will be sung about by my people,” said Thor.
Clint stood beside the grave, saw the casket and couldn’t cry, couldn’t grieve. He could just… stand there and watch.
Chapter 30: Recovery - Clint Barton/Sam Wilson
“Fuck!” Clint cursed. He lay on the ground, his crutches beside him and panted heavily.
“Get up, Clint,” Sam said and hunkered down beside him.
“Fuck you,” Clint said and glared at the man beside him.
“So,” Sam said, a brow raised. “You want to give up?”
“I can’t do that anymore,” Clint breathed and felt tears well up. His legs hurt like hell and he couldn’t move them an inch right now.
“And I thought you’re stronger,” he said and rose.
“You have no idea how…” Clint started.
Sam raised a brow. “Ya think, soldier?” He gestured around at the gym they were in. “I do that for a living, remember? I see injured soldiers every damn day, Clint. And they are strong, they do everything they can to get better.”
“I do my best but… it’s impossible, Sam! I will never be able to walk again!”
“You lie on the ground and whine, Clint,” Sam said and hunkered down beside him again. “I know you’re strong but right now…” he shook his head.
“You’re supposed to help me,” Clint grumbled. “Not snap at me.”
“Clint, baby,” Sam said and sighed. “You got blown up in Afghanistan only weeks ago. You survived by sheer luck, remember? You need time to heal. Time...” Sam gestured at Clint’s legs and the leg braces he wore, “... and sweat.”
Clint glared at Sam now and sat up.
“Slave-driver,” he grumbled.
“You thought I would give you a break just because we’re dating?” Sam asked and grinned now.
“Well, maybe,” Clint said but Sam interrupted him.
“I want you to be able to walk without these braces again, babe,” he said. “That’s why I’m so hard with you. I know it hurts but you know the saying. No pain, no gain. Now, get up and try again, soldier.” He held out his hand and Clint took it. “And when you’re a good boy, you’ll get a reward tonight,” Sam added and waggled his brows. Clint glared at him for a very long moment. But then he sighed and hoisted himself up with Sam’s help.
“Let’s do it, slave-driver.”
Thor kicked in a door. It slammed against the opposite wall and shattered into pieces. He raised his hammer and slayed the two men inside of the room cold blooded and went to the next door.
This one was armor-plated and secured with retina scanner and number pad and all that. But Thor didn’t care. He used Mjölnir’s power and pulverized it literally. Yes, he was angry. More than angry.
“Thor,” he could hear Steve’s voice over the comms they had given him. “Where are you?”
“Basement,” he growled. A few more guards came. They wore heavy armor and had rifles in their hands but he threw lightnings at them and they died screaming.
He went around a corner and saw four more doors.
“Odin’s wart-infested nasal wings,” he cursed and kicked in the first one. It was an office.
“What was that?” he could hear Tony’s voice over the comms and kicked in the second door. Another office.
“What business is it of yours?” he snarled. “Try to find Clint!”
“He’s not in the western wing,” Wanda said. “Peter and I will come to you, too.”
“Second floor clear,” said Sam.
“Third floor, too,” added Natasha.
“Nothing in the first floor,” Steve said when Thor opened the third door.
And then he stopped dead in his tracks for a moment. It was a control room and two men sat on chairs, tablet computers in their hands and took notes. They looked through a huge window into another room where Thor could see…
“Clint!” he breathed and the two men spun around. Clint was tied to a lab table with steel shackles and Thor saw him convulse in pain. Wires, tubes and lots of things he couldn’t identify were attached to his body and he had a ball gag in his mouth. But he couldn’t hear a noise, the room was soundproofed.
“What…” managed one of the men before Thor grabbed him and snapped his neck in a fluid motion.
“No, don’t!” the other screamed but Thor whirled around, took Mjölnir and smashed his brains in. But Clint didn’t stop screaming.
“Tony, I need you here,” he said briskly. “And hurry!”
Thor opened the door, went to Clint and now he could hear him.
“Clint,” he whispered in his ear. “I’m here. Tony will be here and then it’s over.”
Clint writhed in his ties and Thor wished he could help him. But he didn’t have a clue about all these machines and so he just had to wait for Tony. And when he could hear his repulsors he almost sighed in relief. A few moments later Clint slumped down. He was covered in sweat and tears ran over his beautiful face.
Thor reached down, broke the shackles and gently helped him up.
“Clint,” he whispered and when the other man opened his eyes he wrapped his arms around him and just held him. It took a moment but then he felt Clint’s hand on his arm. “You’re safe,” he said. “I have you.”
He opened the strap that held the gag and removed it gently and Clint sobbed in his shoulder.
“I have you.”
That's it, it's over. The pain has an end... I hope you enjoyed reading these ficlets as much as I enjoyed writing them! Thanks for the comments and the kudos!!