The problem with Wade was that he was completely fucking crazy. It wasn't even that Clint didn't like him. In a lot of ways he was like Tony--busy with some shit no one else could follow, prone to talking to himself and with an ego the size of Chicago.
They could have been buds if it wasn't for the abduction and the shooting and the fact that Clint was bleeding out onto the backseat of his car.
That last was putting Wade out a lot more than it was Clint. Clint was happily in a state of numb, floaty blood loss. Distantly alarmed, but not much more. Sleepy. He'd be out already if Wade wasn't ranting about upholstery and carpet shampoo and how he never had any change when he wanted to use the industrial vacuum down at the gas station.
"Ugh," Clint said. He'd meant to say shut the hell up. Also, give me back to SHIELD and something cool like the Avengers will Avenge me. But then it wasn't that clear whose fault this mess was. It was even possible that Natasha had shot him, and that might make Avenging a little socially awkward if not straight out tactically iffy.
Clint suspected that if that was the case, his Avengence would end as an argument in the kitchen, an extended sulk involving all parties, and then as another entry on the list of things they hadn't really thought through and would never mention again in order to save face.
He hoped Wade would dump his remains somewhere where they would be found. Like on Tony's doorstep. That would show them. He hoped it would be messy. He hoped it would smell.
"Don't be so frowny," Wade tut-ed, "You probably have a shiny Cadillac somewhere, courtesy of Iron Stark. All you uptowners are the same. Think you can just bleed all over my car because it's a Honda? Let me tell you, me and this baby have been places you couldn't imagine. Open roads. Adventures. Girls in the backseat."
Wade had stolen the car about ten seconds after he'd stolen Clint. Clint decided not to say so. He tried to put pressure on the wound, but that hurt and made Wade's red and black mask blur and waver like a mirage.
And then Wade said, "Buckle up kiddies, it's road trip time," and actually clicked the seatbelts into place, only dubiously holding Clint onto the seat. If Wade hit the brakes, he'd probably roll onto the floor anyway. At least the impact would probably kill him.
His Avengence was going to be so crappy. He hoped they'd just call the whole thing off before word of how he'd met his demise got around to cool people like Hill and Logan.
And then the car lurched into motion, hopping and jerking and Clint puked all over the seat and the floor and himself.
"That's very unsupportive," Wade said, "Just because I can't drive a stick shift."
Clint suspected he could drive a stick just fine, but they lurched and revved and stalled their way around the block twice anyway before Wade 'got the hang of it' and started driving like a maniac.
Clint said, "Mmugh," and wasn't sure what he was trying to get at, but then Wade took a corner too fast and then drove on a curb or two and the jarring and bumping made his vision swim in and out until it eventually just hazed and went dark.
The only thing he remembered about the rest of the ride, when he woke up, was more puking and being cold and at one point Wade stopping the car to sing at him. He couldn't really call it to him, because he was pretty sure that his mental presence wasn't required. Maybe his presence at all, really.
But he was warm now. Sluggish and feeling heavy, and he couldn't really move his arms, but he was alive and he was warm. For all of five seconds, he thought he had been found and recovered.
And then Wade's voice cut in, saying, "Oh, oh you cheater. I don't think so," to someone who probably didn't exist, and Clint very carefully didn't open his eyes.
And then he realized exactly why he couldn't move his arms and sleep got a little harder to fake.
"Bet you're wondering why I own a straight jacket?" Wade asked, even though Clint really wasn't. He was actually pretty fucking unsurprised.
"Why the hell did you grab me from a fight that had nothing to do with you?" he asked, and got maybe every third word out. Even through the mask, Wade looked exasperated at his garble.
"Oh, hold on to your horses," he said, and disappeared to return with a glass and a bendy straw. Surprisingly thoughtful, since Clint didn't think he could sit up or even lift his head. "Don't worry," he said, "it's drugged."
Clint should have balked, but all he thought was, oh good, because his side was killing him.
He wasn't sure what Wade had drugged him with, because it didn't knock him out so much as make him feel weird and out of his body, floaty and kind of stupid as he watched colorful auras pulse dizzyingly around the edges of things. "This what it's like t'be you?" he said, and actually managed to sound intelligible.
"Think I liked it better when I was dying," Clint mumbled. He could feel the gunshot wound, but it didn't hurt so much as throb painlessly in time to the pulsing. Everything was moving too much. He felt carsick.
"You weren't dying," Wade scoffed, then said, "Oh well. Maybe for a bit."
"That when you were singing?" Clint slurred. His body felt heavy, and the straitjacket was uncomfortable, too hot and rough against his skin. Wade patted him.
"Listen," he said, "We're going to be partners in crime."
"Oh god," Clint said. Two hundred senior SHIELD agents and six Avengers, and he was always the one the lunatics wanted to team up with. Not even Natasha and she'd been a way better criminal than he'd ever dreamt of even trying to be. "Why?"
"Because," Wade said, which, Clint supposed, was a good enough reason when you were the one calling the shots.
Clint tried to glare at him anyway and hazy pink and green jumped and throbbed around the dark eyepatches of his mask. The room felt like it was tilting, one way and then the other. He had the suspicion that if it had been caused by Wade messing with him and not the drugs, he would still never know. "But," he groaned, and realized hazily that he was really, really high, "I wanted to be a hero."
Wade patted him as he slipped under again. "But that's so boring," he said.
Fury said, "No. Go back. Why did you shoot Barton?"
"It wasn't because I meant to," Natasha snipped back, without any of the deference she usually showed the director. Tony figured this was what Natasha looked like when she was freaking out. It was like a crabby Bruce.
"And what do you mean he's gone?"
"Gone!" Tony repeated, "Do we have to explain 'gone' to you? Disappeared, lost, vanished, weggegangen."
"Gone," Steve translated. Just to be helpful, probably.
"He was too badly injured to get far on his own," Bruce put in, "Someone must have taken him."
"Why the hell are people always taking Barton?" Tony demanded, "Why the hell is that guy so popular?"
"And when," Fury asked tiredly, "did you notice that Barton was gone?"
"After he was shot," Tony snapped at him, "He was shot, and then he was gone. Are you even listening to any of this?"
"So," Clint wanted to know, when he was awake and miserable again, "What's a guy got to do to be allowed to take a piss around here?"
"Bathroom's down the hall," Wade offered, nodding vaguely, engrossed in a game of solitaire. Clint tried to glare, but Wade didn't seem to notice, doing his own thing like they were amicable roommates.
"Could you maybe get this thing off me?" Clint tried to make it sound friendly instead of murderous, "You know I'm not going anywhere." He really wasn't. He wasn't sure he was going to make it to his feet, let alone the bathroom.
"Nope," Wade said, but got to his feet to help Clint sit up. He swayed, then tilted. His whole body was floppy and loose.
"I have no balance," he observed, leaning against Wade, who snickered in a very Tony way. If he said 'Captain Obvious' Clint was just going to give up and start liking him, straitjacket and kidnapping be damned. He was too miserable to be angry on top of it all anyway.
"I really hurt," he noted, after a bit, because his side was aching again. "Bullet still in there?"
"Through and through!" Wade said, like it was an accomplishment--like it was his accomplishment--and carefully touched the dressing on Clint's back to show him. Clint didn't try to look.
If he could get to the bathroom and if Wade would get him another drink, this would be, so far, the most pleasant, friendliest kidnapping he'd had to date.
By the third day he realized that the haloing wasn't from Wade giving him LSD but because he was having a weird reaction to an antibiotic or painkiller. No one who'd captured him had ever given him antibiotics before. Speed and bizarre serums and on one occasion crack, but not antibiotics. Definitely not painkiller.
He felt oddly touched.
Even more so when Wade got him different meds once he'd realized what all the puking and tipping over was about. Clint thought, dangerously, that he was an okay guy. Tony talked to himself. Clint, sometimes, talked to himself. It wasn't like it was a strike against the guy's humanity to be a little lonely.
"I think I'm developing Stockholm syndrome," he said out loud, just to hear his own voice and because it was boring lying in bed when he couldn't read or watch TV, or even scratch himself.
"Why do all my friends say that?" Wade asked.
"I'm quitting the Avengers," Clint said. He sounded more irritated than under duress. Like he was humoring someone instead of being coerced. Or maybe like he was just fed up with their friendly fire.
"Are you okay?" Steve asked, leaning too close to the phone and talking too loud either because he didn't trust speaker-phone, or didn't trust Clint to be listening. Tony was long over rolling his eyes at it, but he still noticed.
"Yeah. Yeah, sure," Clint said, "I'm good. But. Nat shot me, right? It was Nat? I just want to know for future argument purposes, because she still brings up that time I accidentally exploded an arrow in her kind-of proximity."
"Kind-of proximity?" Natasha said, "Come home and I'll show you my shrapnel scars again."
"You can show me," Tony offered. Clint huffed.
Steve said, "Clint, what's going on?" There was mumbling on the line, muffled, and then the sound of Clint arguing, then sighing.
"Gotta go, guys. It's been fun." More mumbling, then, "I mean, it's been a drag and Stark is an ass and don't try to find me," and, a little distantly, like Clint was facing away from the phone, "Okay? Are you happy n--" and then the line cut off.
"Well," Tony said, after a few moments of silence, "at least it doesn't sound like he's dead."
"Or being tortured," Bruce added.
"Future argument purposes?" Natasha said, "He's not quitting anything. What the hell is going on?"
"Time to go," Wade said, burning Clint's phone in a coffee can. It made the room reek of plastic fumes, and Clint was pretty sure Tony would be able to trace the thing anyway.
"What?" Clint asked, "You don't live here?"
"Live here?" Wade asked, incredulously, "Have you seen this place? It's a dump. I thought you were used to the finer things in life now?" Clint was, but the room was the sort of place he associated with mercenary hideouts. The sort of places he'd lived in when he had been a mercenary--bare and simple and with makeshift furniture. The kind of place where the rent--when there was rent--was cheap and payable in cash and the transaction hard or impossible to trace.
It was possible though, that Wade was just a better mercenary than he'd been--insanity aside--and could safely score better housing.
"Where're we going?" Clint asked, casually. He hoped it was someplace with hot showers, at least. He was pretty sure he reeked, and he couldn't quite believe the bullet wound wasn't infected yet, despite the antibiotics and Wade's surprisingly organized dressing changes.
"Tut-tut-tut. Nice try. I'll tell you when your whole phone is a puddle, but there's still little lumpy bits in here," Wade said, and used a pencil to stir around in the coffee can. He was going to kill them both with the damn fumes. "I burnt your clothes, too." he said, "but outside."
"Why couldn't you burn the phone outside?" Clint wanted to know, even though it wasn't like Wade needed reasons for anything.
"But I got you new ones, don't worry," he went on, as if Clint had never said anything, "I'll be new Tony, and clothe you and house you and drug you and stuff."
Clint started to say that Tony had never drugged him, but then remembered a couple of instances when he'd felt distinctly odd after hanging around in the lab with him and Bruce and decided not to mention it after all. "I don't know if antibiotics count as drugging," he said instead, and Wade looked up from his little Bunsen burner and coffee can and tilted his head a little.
"What? Oh. Oh, not that," he said, and rummaged in his belt pouch until he came up with a little baggy. He tossed it at Clint, but it wasn't like he could catch it with the straitjacket on. It his chest, then sort of slid into the crook of one elbow. "That. Take two."
Clint gave him a look.
"Oh, you're so stubborn," Wade said, and got up and fished two pills out of the little ziploc, shoving them into Clint's mouth with fingers that stank like smoke and melted phone.
"Ugh," Clint protested around them.
"Swallow," Wade said, "So we can get out of here before your phone gives us both cancer. Well. More cancer. Or gives you cancer and me more cancer. Wait." He thought about it for a bit, clamping Clint's jaw closed, and tilting his head up until he eventually had to swallow or drown in his own spit. Half-dissolved, the pills tasted foul.
"You cancer, and me more cancer," Wade said, "Yeah, I think that's right."
The car smelled disgusting. Like blood and vomit that had sat out in the sun for the better part of a week. It made Clint want to be sick and Wade gave him a disapproving look.
"You made this mess. And you wonder why we don't go out more. Well, this is why. Now I have to steal another whole car," he crabbed, and Clint leaned against the vile smelling Honda and was grateful that he wasn't going to have to get in it.
"Every damn time," Wade was grumbling, surveying the choices, "This is why we can't have nice things, Clint."
Clint slid down the side of the car and put his head on his knees. They were in a lot, cars all around that looked to be in about the same shape as the one Wade had originally stolen, before Clint had nearly died in it. Older, and mid-level and utterly unremarkable. Wade said, "How do you feel about red? It's very sporty."
Clint didn't give a shit. He tried to say so, but whatever Wade had given him was making him slur unsteadily. He wanted to go back to sleep. And he might have done so, for a bit, because the next thing he knew he was in the backseat--the clean backseat--of a moving car, dressed in proper clothes.
And he could move his arms.
He tried to concentrate on that rather than the fact that Wade had apparently undressed and then re-dressed him in a parking lot. He bet that scene had just reeked of foul play, but also that any witnesses had probably just hurried along and pretended not to see.
"Hey. I have boots," he said, and hadn't meant it to be out loud. Having real clothes shouldn't have been that exciting, but having real footwear meant a better chance of escape when he had access to higher brain function again.
"How'm I gonna be in crime," Clint asked, still a little drunkenly, when they pulled into a rest stop like they were on an honest-to-god road trip, so Wade could dose him again, "if I'm doped up the whole time?" Or restrained, but he didn't want to remind Wade of the existence of the straitjacket. There was the chance that it had been left behind at the squat, but also that it had been brought along. Or that Wade could find another.
"I think you'll be very good in crime," Wade told him, with warm reassurance. Like he was saying I'm sure you can learn to be good at math, dear, and also like he hadn't heard the second part of Clint's question.
Clint sighed and rolled his head to look out the window. It was raining. Heavy, fat droplets that gathered on his window and then slithered down to pool at the small ledge where window met door. He played with the window controls, watching the water gather as the glass lowered, then become a line as it raised again with all the fascination of being utterly out of his head.
"Honestly," Wade tutted, and got out to hustle him into the bathroom. Clint was glad the rest stop was empty because the straitjacket might be gone, but Wade had handcuffs on him, and how weird that might look to other people seemed more important, at the moment, than that they might recognize him or even Wade's red mask, and call the sighting in.
"Rest stop. Edge of Jersey," Tony called, when the tracer pinged, "Payphone."
"Thank god," Steve said, because after they'd traced Clint's last call from his cellphone they had found a nearly bare room in a filthy, run down old office building, with the remains of Clint's phone a shapeless, burnt mass in a can, and half-charred bloodied bandages and sheets, as well as the remains of Clint's battle gear, in what had been a bonfire on the roof.
They'd found the car, too, destroyed and smelling like something had been sick and then died in it. From the amount of blood on the seat alone, Bruce predicted Clint wouldn't be in any shape to escape on his own, even with proper care.
"Clint?" Natasha asked, when no voice came over the line. "What's going on? You want back on the team?"
There was a sound and then Clint said, "Hmmoog."
"Talk. Talk," a voice whispered, "You think I'm made of dimes?"
Clint obediently made a series of slurred mumbling noises, then said, distinctly, "Tired," followed by a thump.
"Oh, crap," The voice said.
Wade, somehow, acquired an RV, which was ridiculous, but also had a bed in it, so Clint didn't complain or comment. It was way more comfortable than being drugged in the backseat or, for a few hours when Wade thought he'd miscalculated and the Avengers were onto him, in the trunk.
Wade kept having him make calls, conversations he only half-remembered, and he wasn't sure anymore if the idea was to drag him to the dark side or to screw with the Avengers. Maybe both.
"I can't tell if you're trying to fuck with Tony or with Cap or if this just some cat and mouse game before you shoot me in the head," Clint told him, when they were parked in the middle of a field in what he thought might be Virginia.
"Why would I shoot you in the head?" Wade asked, "You were so much trouble to fix."
He wasn't fixed. He was still woozy from the bloodloss when he wasn't woozy from the drugs. His side hurt and he could barely sit up on his own. Shuffled around the reststops where they used the bathrooms and ate crap from vending machines like he might down hospital hallways.
The cuffs were gone, but now that Wade was leaving him alone for several hours at a time, in a non-moving vehicle, the straitjacket was back and his boots disappeared.
He should be bothered that he was getting used to it, but he was also relatively comfortable and Wade hadn't actually hurt him if he didn't count damage to pride and dignity and maybe blood sugar as pain.
"We're going to shoot somebody," Wade told him, when he came back from who knew where, coming and going through the tall weeds around the grassy patch they were parked in for no reason that Clint could figure other than that maybe he'd really enjoyed Field of Dreams.
"Or you're going to shoot somebody for me, and then ka-ching!"
Clint was pretty sure Wade didn't need his help to assassinate anyone. Wade was plenty good at assassination already.
"Ka-ching, ka-ching," Wade repeated, quieter, even though he was no longer miming playing slots. Or maybe he still was, in his head. Clint had had enough time in his own head by now to not even really be bothered.
Wade looked at him and patted his cheek and said, "I got you donuts," and Clint groaned. All the shit he was being fed was making him genuinely miss Bruce and his tofu and chickpea curry and spinach somethings. He had dreams about them. About Bruce clattering around the kitchen and him saying that's not actual cooking, Bruce like an asshole.
He ate the fucking donuts. Let Wade shove the pills into his mouth in what was now a familiar ritual and swallowed without the whole veterinarian-like tilt-your-head-and-hold-your-jaw thing.
"Oh, don't be all sad," Wade told him, when he sighed as the drugs hit, "We can play call the Avengers. This time you can tell them anything you want."
"G'na kill s'mone," Clint said, his voice crackling over the most shit connection Tony had heard in a while, but that probably made Steve feel all at home and nostalgic for war era radio.
"Hey! That was our little secret!" the voice that was often muttering in the background said, too broken up to identify.
"Said I could say an'thing," Clint protested. Even on the bad connection he sounded barely coherent.
"Are you drunk? Don't drink and shoot, Barton. That is bad policy,"
"M'not drunk." Clint sounded cranky about it, like he was insulted that Tony thought he'd be stupid enough to get wasted while also being the victim of a kidnapping, and it made Tony smile and Natasha nod in something that looked like approval, because if Clint was being snippy he was also probably mostly okay.
"Wade's druggin' m--" he said, and the connection died with an emphatic click.
"Wade? Wade? Holy fuck, Clint, are you with Deadpool? Clint? Fuck fuck."
"What was that?" Wade demanded, as they drove down the highway of god-knew-where, and, when Clint huffed and slouched, finally up to sitting in the passenger seat, at least for a few hours at a time, "No. No. You don't get to sulk. Bad assassin."
"You did say I could tell them anything."
"But not my secret identity. That's sacred. What if you did that to Spiderman? I'm hurt. I'm betrayed. I'm--"
Clint stopped listening and looked out the window. If he didn't count the drugging and the dramatics, Wade wasn't that bad of a captor. Clint might be handcuffed to his seat, but anyone else would have done a lot more to him for pulling the shit he did than mope and scold and refuse to share gummy bears.
"Who are we shooting?" Clint asked, to change the subject. There was a small bag of french fries in the cup holder. Grease and salt and Clint remembered loving those flavors, but living off them made him feel sick and disgusting and like he was legitimately on the run.
"Nu-uh," Wade said, "You don't get to know things anymore. From now on, your only job is to look pretty and man the radio. Now hush and find some country."
Clint tried. There was nothing but weather reports and talk radio. "Where are we?" he asked, fiddling with the knob, dialing it back and forth and coming up with static most of the time.
"Bad assassins don't get to know things," Wade said again, like he was scolding a child, or maybe a dog. It sounded kind of fond. Clint tried not to be glad about it, and tried to remind himself that the man was nuts, but he was also the only other person he'd talked to--if he didn't count their garbled drunk-dialing of the Avengers--in at least a week and half, by now.
"How long since you abducted me?" Clint wanted to know.
"Nope," Wade said.
"What day is it?" Clint asked.
"Nuh-uh," Wade said, then looked at the radio Clint was still trying to find decent music on and pulled the RV over long enough to shoot it.
"Really?" Clint said, because that wasn't the sort of over-reaction he'd been expecting.
"I'll steal you a cd player. We'll have tunes," Wade assured him, and patted his arm companionably, "But bad assassins aren't allowed to know things."
"Is it a Spiderman thing?" Clint asked, two nights later when they were eating canned pasta in the doorway of the RV, at an empty truck weigh-in station. Beyond the guardrail indicating the edge of the graveled lot, fireflies blinked on and off. Cap would have enjoyed this road trip.
"Is what a Spiderman thing?" Wade asked, and Clint indicated his mask with his chopsticks--it was inane, eating cold canned ravioli with chopsticks when they had forks, but it was pointless to argue even if the soft pasta kept falling apart on him.
Wade's chin was scarred. Ugly, knotted tissue that disappeared under his half-rolled-up mask. It looked like the remains of a burn injury, maybe. "Spidey came with us for burritos once," Clint said, frowning into his can as another ravioli square fell into pieces and slid out of his chopsticks, "Didn't take his mask off to eat, either. Seriously, why can't I have a fork?"
It might have been pointless to argue, but that didn't mean Clint didn't.
"Bad assassins don't get to--"
"Yeah, yeah. That's just an excuse now," Clint said, and ate in silence for a while. Then, "You know that I know who you are, right? I've been calling you 'Wade' this whole time."
Wade, magically, shut up. For a whole fifteen minutes, which was about how long it took for Clint to start feeling sick from the pasta.
And then he pulled his mask off.
"Oh," Clint said, looking at him, "I guess that's a reason."
"I know we're still heading south," Clint said, two days and three RVs later, "sort of." There was a lot of detouring and looping around involved, but he'd been paying attention and they were definitely on a vague Southward track. "We're not going to DC are we? I don't want to shoot a bigwig." He really didn't want to. He'd been in assassination-related trouble before, and anything Wade was involved in was likely to cause more trouble than the underworld small timers he'd fallen in with before SHIELD.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Clint said, but kept going anyway, "Is this what I'm for? You want me to take out some big shot they'd actually give a shit about? You need a fall guy?"
"That would make things easier," Wade said, like the idea had never occurred to him. "Maybe we should get ourselves one of those, someday." He had a ridiculous fishing hat on, complete with lures. "Like it? It came with the car."
So did a half dozen rods, a net, and a fridge with real food in it. Clint hoped Wade hadn't stranded anyone out in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe he hoped he had, because that might bring the cops down on them.
"Don't worry," Wade said, like he knew what Clint was thinking, "I changed the plates."
"We had a campfire. We cooked a fish. Or I cooked a fish. It was in our--the fridge." First non-junk food in forever. He hadn't realized how starved for actual nutrition he was until he'd smelled the thing cooking. And then he'd followed it with milk and fruit from the RV fridge and almost wolfed down a bag of greens raw and unwashed.
Bruce would be proud.
Tony, on the other hand, said, "I hope you're enjoying your camping trip, Barton," in mock-sweet tones, "Natasha is worried about you. You don't write, you don't call and then, out of nowhere--"
"You sound clearer," Cap cut in, hinting, and Clint decided to not tell him about the drugs. At least not any more than he thought he already had.
"Yeah," he said, "It's a better connection."
The trace said they were back in New Jersey. Tony was pretty sure that was bullshit.
"Why are we leaving a trail for them?" Clint asked, hanging up when Wade gestured at him to cut the call. "It's not even a clue trail. It's just--Is this some kind of proof of life thing?"
"Oh, that's good," Wade said, "Clint, it's a proof of life thing."
Clint sighed. His side still hurt, but he could walk and sit and get up just fine now, even though by the time they pulled over for the night he was ready to drop. He was sure that if Wade was going to kill him, there'd have been some sign of it by now.
Instead it seemed like Wade just intended to haul him around, stealing cars and vans and retirees' motor homes and talking shit.
"If I'm supposed to shoot someone," he tried, "shouldn't I have a gun or a bow or something to keep in practice with?"
Wade looked at him. "Oh," he said, "Sure."
Getting back into shooting shape was its own misery, even with the small arsenal's worth of gun and bow options Wade brought back for him. From where, exactly, was a mystery, because they were parked--and had been for two days--on the shoulder of a graveled mountain road that looked like it might be someone's private property. There was literally nothing around that looked like human habitation, and there hadn't been for miles.
The view, though, was pretty great. Clint almost felt bad for enjoying it as he lined up empty soup and pasta cans on a fence--just like in the dated boy's adventure magazines that the orphanage used to have, filled with cowboys and frontiersmen.
Except for the fact that he had a silencer, Clint thought, taking out the first can. Without it, his shots would have rung out and echoed against the hills. With it, there was mostly just the clatter of the cans, an innocent enough sound.
It was, for the moment, a little bit like an actual vacation. Up here, away from the city, the air was misty and cool with fog and if shooting was hurting his side more than a bit, at least he wasn't cuffed or drugged or bound up in Wade's mental ward memorabilia.
If he had any idea where he was, how far from civilization he was, or even what day it was--to determine how long they'd been driving, and thereby, again, how far from civilization he was--Clint might have made a run for it, half-healed injury be damned.
As it was, he was probably better off sticking with Wade a bit further. He wasn't exactly equipped to live off the land, shooting skills aside.
"I need a coonskin cap," he told Wade, as a joke, when he made his way back to the RV for more ammunition.
"Nope," Wade said, "You made fun of my fishing hat."
"I'm not really in top form," Clint said, as they started down the mountain in a station wagon Wade had taken from a look-out point and trail, leaving in its place the RV full of fishing rods and extraneous guns. Clint had chosen his favorites. The rest were dead weight. In another lifetime, Clint would have regretted every penny they were worth. Now he just hoped it wouldn't set anyone on their tail.
Wade didn't seem worried, but then Wade was also a nutbag.
"Nutbag?" Wade moped, when Clint said so, after voicing his concern about the guns, "And I got you music and everything."
He had. Sort of. The station wagon had a cd player and no radio--which meant Wade didn't have to execute it like last time--but the glove compartment was full of opera. And violin concertos, but Wade wouldn't let him put those on, so they had to listen to Italian warbling all the way back to habitated land.
"Stop singing along," Clint pleaded, after about an hour, "Do you even speak Italian?"
"I sing Italian," Wade insisted, arms waving as he acted out whatever he thought the opera was about, "Keep your eyes on the road."
"Are you going to wear that hat this entire job?" Clint asked.
"Oh, now you want it," Wade said, with a hand on his chest, the other hand out the window, as the cd hit a series of high notes, "I tried to give it to you. You might remember if everything I said didn't go in one ear and out the other."
Clint grit his teeth.
They spent the night in an abandoned mill, water wheel and everything. Or really, Clint did, because Wade dropped him off with a sleeping bag and two of the guns and pissed off to where ever Wade felt like pissing off to.
"This is the part where you've arranged for someone to come and kill me, isn't it?" Clint asked, rummaging through the back of the car for stuff he might want.
"Then why would I give you the guns?"
"To throw me off guard," Clint snapped, jamming his things into a small duffel that he'd found in one of the sequential RVs.
"Don't be paranoid," Wade said, waving out the driver side window, like he was leaving him at summer camp, "it makes you sound crazy."
"Screwy vacation, day I-don't-know-what," Clint said to himself, lying in the dark. Where ever they were, it was still seriously abandoned country. There wasn't a light anywhere that he could see. The mountains around him had become shadowy shapes, then humps of darkness and now just blended into the inky darkness of the sky.
The stars, though, were pretty good. Like they'd been one time when he'd been lost in Siberia or somewhere with Natasha. Except it wasn't that cold here. Damp from rain and mist, and chilly now that it was dark, but not really cold. Nat would like it.
Wade would probably get on with her, too.
"Holy fuck, Barton" Clint said to himself, "escape plan. Not hook up your pal with a lunatic plan. For god's sake, you're unsupervised, you should be able to figure a way out of here." And then he realized he was talking to himself and stopped. It was pretty innocent to-self talk, but it was a lot less comfortable to catch himself doing it after hanging with Wade for so long.
And Wade might have left him on his own, but he still had no idea where he was, and he still had the not-in-hiking-shape problem and the easily-exhausted problem and the lack-of-provisions problem.
By the time it was noon the next day, he was hungry and considering whether he should open the can of beans Wade had left him or try to save it, in case the man didn't come back. Instead, he did some recon, checking out the area.
It was beautiful. Scenery like that always made him think of Steve and his watercolors. If he knew where he was, he'd bring the team back some day for a real camping trip. Bruce had the same stupid hat as Wade, and the stream that had once powered the mill probably had fish.
He was poking around an old bridge, upstream a ways when he heard the sound of an engine and perked up, then swore at himself for doing it.
Wade was breaking him in a very wily way, and Clint didn't know if he was doing it on purpose, or if he was even aware of it at all, but when the station wagon puttered up to the bridge--having in the mean time acquired a smiley-face antenna guard even though the antenna wasn't hooked up to anything, and a flag of the Republic of Peru--Clint was actually happy to see the fucking madman.
He tried to tamp the feeling down, but then decided that denial was more dangerous, or at least made dangerous things even more dangerous, so he just filed it away and went over with one gun in his hand and the other tucked into the back of his jeans.
"Hel-looooo," Wade called, honking like he had New York road rage. "Are you running? Don't run. Not without saying good bye. Why would you do that?"
"You left me one can of beans," Clint accused, "where would I run to?" Getting to the bridge was about the limit of his stamina at the moment, anyway. Picking his way over the broken road and then the uneven, rotting boards had his side aching and burning. The gun was heavy in his hand.
"If you're running, you should have brought your stuff," Wade said, going from don't to how-to advice as if Clint had never spoken. Or maybe like Clint had spoken, but had said something entirely different than what he actually had. "I got your things from the mill," Wade said, "Hop in. I got new music."
Wade's new music was some kind of chanting that Clint couldn't discern the cultural origins of, but Wade was as happy to chant along to as he'd been happy to sing along with the opera.
Clint toyed meaningfully with the concerto cds--as least they were peaceful, and had no vocals to accompany--but Wade ignored him until small towns started to appear. Then he snatched the cd out of his hand and pulled over. "Get out. Get in back," he said. Clint glared.
"Because I wouldn't sing along? I don't know Italian, or whatever the hell this," he paused to wave at the cd player, "stuff is."
"Nooo~" Wade chirped, "Because bad assassins--"
"Oh, for god's sake," Clint snapped, and got out. He didn't get back in the car, just started hauling off down the side of the road. He'd seen towns. Even if he couldn't get very far at a stretch, he'd get to one of them eventually. Or someone would drive by. They weren't in the middle of fucking nowhere anymore.
Wade put the car in reverse, keeping pace with his--secretly--painful stalk. "Are you mad? Don't be mad. We can talk about this. I'll compromise, you'll compromise, we'll get along again. You'll shoot a guy. It'll be swell."
"You don't need me to shoot a guy," Clint snapped, "You've been shooting guys just fine on your own." Give me back to the Avengers, he didn't say, because it made him sound helpless and like he couldn't get anywhere on his own.
"But not with your style," Wade wheedled, "You kill so pretty. Come on. Get in."
"Fine. First compromise: No more drugs."
"Yeah. You'll have to compromise on that," Wade said, nodding agreeably. Clint gave him a look and went back to walking.
He made it maybe a quarter mile, sweat prickling his neck and back, his side screaming, and Wade keeping pace in the car, rolling slowly backwards next to him. "Well?" he asked, when Clint stopped to press a hand to his bandaged side and swallow down a wave of nausea.
"Fuck off," Clint said, and heard him sigh.
Then there was a click and there was a gun in his face.
If it was anyone else, Clint would have kept walking, because it made no sense to shoot him in the head after all the trouble of kidnapping him and dragging him all over the countryside. But it was Wade, and half of what Wade did made no sense to anyone, and maybe not even to Wade himself. There was really no way to guess if he would go through with it or not.
Clint guessed yes. He got in the car.
"Nuh-uh," Wade scolded, still keeping the gun on him. "In the back."
"Oh, fuck," Clint spat, and got out again to get in the back seat. When he was in Wade handed him two of the familiar pills and stuck the gun back in his face.
"I want to see them in your mouth, and then I want to see you've swallowed them," he said.
"What's the big deal? You can just stop fucking with the Avengers. I can't pass information on if we don't call, right?"
"Honestly, you ruin all our trips like this. Argue argue argue, the whole time," Wade said, and fired. Not at Clint, and it didn't even damage the car, because the rear door window was open. Conveniently. Too conveniently.
"Alright. Fine," Clint snarled and put the pills in his mouth, showing Wade before swallowing and saying, "Ah!" He stuck his tongue out for good measure.
"Drink," Wade said, tossing him a bottle of water. Clint did.
"How about we get some real food?" he asked, when they were moving again, and lay down across the back seat to watch trees and sky go by as he waited for the drugs to kick in. "I don't have a healing factor. This living on cheetos thing is fucking killing me."
It was actually kind of pleasant, Clint didn't want to think but did anyway, that there was nothing to do but sleep and watch the treetops turn into roofs and electric cables and back into trees. He'd even managed to get Wade to switch out the music and with the drugs, he didn't feel the pain in his side at all.
"Mmh," Clint complained, a cranky grunt, when Wade tried to sing along with the violins, just making up lyrics, "Shuddit."
"Don't like my hat, don't like my singing," Wade grumbled, "It's like we have nothing in common anymore."
Clint felt a wash of rage. Not at the kidnapping or the hostage holding or the continued drugging but at the talking over the first music on this trip that wasn't chanting or howling or yodeling. Until Wade had opened his damn mouth again, it had been a bit like riding with Phil, when he was tending classical instead of Elvis.
Clint was possibly getting a little over-invested in string instruments, but when Wade fell to humming and then back to driving in silence, he felt a wash of triumph.
"Cozy back there?" Wade chirped, just as he was letting himself fall back into a drowse, and Clint dropped his hand off the seat to touch the gun he'd put on the floor. If it was anyone but Wade, he thought, anyone at all.
"Clint?" Steve asked, leaning over the table to talk directly into the speaker, propped on his elbows. It was an oddly child-like pose for Cap, but he sounded worried enough that Tony didn't mention it.
"Where are you? What are you doing? Do I hear violins?" Tony asked Clint.
"Not s're," Clint slurred, and fucking Deadpool cut in to say, "I wanted Tuvan throat singing, but noo~."
"What are you doing with Hawkeye?" Steve demanded, "Bring him back."
"Bring? Do you know what gas costs these days? It's not like I can just steal a car that runs on Stark batteries."
"We'll come get him," Tony growled, "Where are you?"
"See?" Deadpool said, "If you were allowed to know things, you'd be spilling the beans right now. Letting cats out of bags. Singing as per canaries."
"S'town," Clint offered, sounding stubborn if dopey, and Deadpool gasped like he was shocked.
"Bad assassin. Bad. Give me the phone."
Wade got him real food, and it was probably a sign of some kind of vitamin deficiency that Clint very nearly decided that he was the best guy ever as he sat on the car's hood and wolfed down what would some weeks ago have been a pretty ordinary tuna salad sandwich. "I am not this excited about orange juice," Clint said, not that convincingly, as he unscrewed the old style glass bottle. It wasn't even from concentrate, but fresh. It was like Wade had found a fucking farmer's market or something.
"Aw, shucks," Wade said, shoving chocolate chip cookies into his mouth, "it was nothing."
Clint sipped, torn between chugging it and making it last. If only Bruce you-can't-live-on-milkshakes Banner could see him now, he thought, but hanging with Wade wasn't like hanging with the Avengers where food often had accidental nutritional value, even if one wasn't particularly trying for it. Where Bruce or Steve or Natasha cooked something involving actual biological material at least a couple times during the week. Wade seemed to pick what they ate according to how unpronounceable the ingredients list was, or how many times it had been fried.
It was like he was trying really hard to die of coronary disease, which was just stupid when a bullet to the head barely made him twitch.
Clint wasn't sure if the real food was a bribe or if Wade considered it a part of the I'll compromise, you'll compromise deal--or if that had even been a deal and not more bullshit--but he couldn't go back to whole weeks of canned spagetti-os and gas station nachos, so when Wade said, "Pills. Car," his only protest was to ball up his trash and toss it at Wade's head.
He woke up on a roof, with no idea where they were other than that it seemed like a shithole of a town, old brick buildings and weatherboard, at least from the bit of it that he could see. He was also handcuffed to a pipe.
"What's going on?" he demanded, as soon as he had control of his tongue. It came out raspy and thick, so when Wade handed him a bottle of water, he drank.
"What do you mean?" Wade asked, "This is what we do," and nodded at a rifle, already set up. There was a photo stuck to it like some kind of memento. Clint tugged it loose.
"This the target? I can't say I've had slimmer files."
"Oh, please," Wade said, and Clint could tell he was rolling his eyes, "You've shot guys on a name. On a 'shoot now, Hawkeye'." Clint shrugged. It was true.
"Why can't you take him out?"
"Because that's your job. I'm going to be in there," Wade said, and mimed walking with his fingers, "doing some up close, personal, and probably shot-several-times-in-the-process work. If that guy makes it out, you pick him off. If he doesn't--hey, it's a nice day to be outside. What've you got to lose?"
Clint hoped he didn't make it out, but he did. And he didn't particularly want to be casting his lot in with Wade, or be involved in whatever Wade was involved in, but he took the shot anyway.
Mostly, he told himself, because Wade had the keys to the handcuffs and he didn't want him to have to set off on a chase after the guy and leave Clint stuck where he was in the meantime. Or decide he was useless and leave him there more permanently, because Wade very well might.
"So what was that about?" Clint asked, when Wade had regenerated whatever injuries he's acquired and come back.
"Pack up," Wade said, "Can you make it down the ladder?" and gestured to a fire escape. Clint eyed it and wondered how Wade had gotten him up here in the first place.
"If there's stairs," he started, suspiciously, and Wade snorted in irritation and tossed his hands into the air.
"You aren't any fun, you know that, Hawkeye? Everything I want to do--"
"The gun's heavy," Clint explained--complained, maybe--and wondered why the fuck he was apologizing.
Lying on the roof half the day and then toting equipment down four flights of steep, rotting steps hadn't done his side any favors, so when they got back to the car Clint heaved his gun case onto the station wagon's tailgate and shoved it further in, then crawled onboard after it and eased himself onto his non-injured side.
"You don't have to knock me out," he said, when the back of the car had slammed shut and the driver's side door had opened, "I'm already out."
"Okey-dokey," Wade called cheerfully, and started the car. Then dum-dum-dum-ed the beginning to Ode to Joy and turned on the--completely unrelated--violins. But then he shut up and drove and Clint didn't ask him who the guy was, or why they'd had to take him out, or why the job had been in such a tiny, half-abandoned town or whether his assistance had actually even been necessary.
"Avenger call?" he asked after a while, because it was the first time in a long time that he'd killed someone and not known why, or even if they deserved it. For some reason, it made him want to talk to Steve, or just hear Steve say something stubbornly ethical.
"Avenger call?" Wade said, incredulous and hurt sounding, "What's wrong with me? Don't you want to talk to me? It's always 'shut it, Wade', 'I hate your donuts, Wade', 'that hat is stupid, Wade'."
Clint sighed. "Okay," he said, and pulled the folded up sleeping bag over his head so he could use it to shut Wade's voice out, "Okay. Forget it."
"Alright, mopeyface," Wade coo-ed, like he was talking to a cat or a small child or something, hanging over the back seat to lean over Clint, "look what I got you."
Clint opened an eye, "Where the fuck are we?" he asked.
"Oh, somewhere," Wade said, waving a hand dismissively. "Isn't that right, pal?" Then he switched to a high squeaky voice, and said, "Yeah, this place sucks. Who gives a shit?"
"It's a pez dispenser," Clint said, rolling onto his back to frown at Wade's stupid ventriloquist act.
"He's a pez dispenser," Wade scolded, cupping his hand over the plastic clown head, "Honestly, Clint. Don't worry, guy. Hawkeye's just cranky, but he gets over it. You'll see. You two will be pals."
Clint was fairly sure that the thing wasn't filled with candy, which meant that Wade intended to keep on drugging him, and that meant that he wasn't done with him yet. That he wasn't going to be released anytime soon.
He should probably care, but he just wanted to sleep.
It was the longest that they hadn't heard from Clint and Steve pretended to be keeping it together, but Tony could tell that he was cracking a little. He checked the call alerts multiple times a day, despite them being called alerts for a reason.
"He's been fine so far," Bruce tried to reassure him, but it wasn't like any of them were unaware how unpredictable Deadpool was. Clint could easily be his best friend today and his next body tomorrow. The only reassuring part of that, really, was that Clint hadn't been fine when they'd last seen him, which meant that Deadpool had actually taken care of him, not just failed to harm him.
Which meant he had a use for Clint, and if he had a use for Clint, he wasn't going to kill him.
"It's not even that I can't trace that lunatic," Tony groused, "Half the time he's calling from rest stops, but he's in Jersey, in Connecticut, in fucking Missouri." He tossed his Starkpad to the counter, “They’re constantly moving. He just wants us to know that we're being outsmarted by a guy who talks to himself."
"We're being outsmarted," Natasha said, "But Clint's being held prisoner. When we get him back, I'm never letting him hear the end of it."
"Did you forget the part where you shot him?" Tony asked, "Already?"
The clown toy, Clint realized, was misdirection. He'd been keeping such a close eye on it that he hadn't even realized that Wade had tampered with his drink. He couldn't tell if the man was sneaky as shit, or if he just went about things so randomly that it was hard to keep up, let alone stay a step ahead.
When he woke up, rain was pattering against the windows again and the car was parked. Probably tidily, because when he wasn't driving like he was making up his own traffic laws, Wade drove like the world's pickiest grandmother, and back-seat drove like a safety obsessed control freak. Clint thought it was probably sometime during the argument about how long it was necessary to stay at a full stop at an utterly abandoned intersection that Wade had popped the drugs into his coffee.
"I was behind the fucking wheel," Clint groaned to the empty car, and squirmed around to take stock of how securely the straitjacket was fastened. Wade had also crammed him into the sleeping bag, either so he wouldn't look so obviously held against his will to anyone who might peer in the window, or as a joke, or because he thought Clint would be more comfortable. It was possible. Wade could be a murderous lunatic, but he could also be a weirdly thoughtful murderous lunatic.
For certain bizarre values of 'thoughtful'.
"You ass!" Clint yelled, when he came back, wearing Clint's jacket over his usual get-up and with the fishing hat perched on his head.
"What? I cracked the windows," Wade said, and fiddled with the controls, "See?"
"I was driving!" Clint went on, trying to wriggle free off the sleeping bag, "Why would you drug someone when they're driving?"
"Because that's when you weren't looking," Wade said, like it should be obvious. "I had to stop you. You were a danger to the public."
"You wanted me to stop for five minutes at a stop sign! In the middle of nowhere!"
"No reason to go speed demoning around just because you can," Wade scolded, checking his mirrors, and fussily adjusting the rear-view, "Now shush. I have to concentrate. I'm about to pull out into traffic."
Clint gave the bag a last kick and gave up. Squirming around had strained his side. It felt like it was on fire and he had to take some time to just lie still and pant through it.
"Violins?" Wade offered, and Clint wanted to tell him to go fuck himself.
Instead he said, "Whatever. I don't give a shit. No singing."
Halfway up another mountain road, they ditched the station wagon. Clint was quietly, unreasonably pissed. He had been starting to love that car. He didn't know why. He just knew he hated abandoning it. It looked fucking lonely, sitting off the side of the road next to a seasonal restaurant that looked like it had last opened maybe ten summers ago, its faded sign missing pieces and letters. Weeds and a small tree were breaking through the asphalt of its parking lot
The smiley face antenna guard looked depressing as hell now that were going to just leave it there, where no one was likely to find the car, let alone get it back to its owners.
"Don't be strange," Wade told him, and Clint snorted.
"How are we getting out of here?" he asked, because the restaurant was in the middle of nowhere. Again in the middle of nowhere, with no lot, motel, or tourist trap to steal another vehicle from. "She's the only car for miles."
"She?" Wade smirked, and started to say something else. Probably about to bring up the stupid clown dispenser again.
"Shove it," Clint snapped. Then, "If we have to walk, I can't carry anything. You realize, right?" Carrying the rifle down the stairs after the job--whatever the fuck it had been about--had about done him in for the day. And maybe the next.
"Oh, don't worry so much," Wade said, wandering off into the building. Clint followed.
"How about we split up? I take the car, you do whatever you were planning on doing anyway."
Wade gestured at a booth. Clint sat. The fake leather was cracked and faded and torn and moldering foam poked through. Animals probably lived in it.
"No splitting up. I said we're partners now. I point, you shoot. Which part of the concept is difficult for you?"
"The partners part," Clint said, and picked pieced of laminated wood off the table, "I think you meant to say prisoner."
"Oh, you're always so picky. Why don't you order something? I'm having a cheeseburger."
Clint thought he was fucking around--or hallucinating--so he said, "Coffee," but then Wade disappeared into the kitchen and came back with two burgers and a mug. It felt a little like the fabric of reality was ripping, just a bit.
"Please tell me this is a hide-out of some kind," Clint said. Pleaded.
Wade put the dishes down with a little flourish and said, "Will that be all? Would you like to see the wine list?" Then, when Clint kept looking at him, flopped into the bench seat opposite him and sprawled sulkily. "Fine, fine. It's a hideout. There's a car around back. There's a mini-kitchen in the kitchen. Spoil everything. Ruiner."
Clint felt tired. It was worse than keeping up with Tony, because Tony at least followed a logical track. Even when he couldn't decipher it, Clint knew there was something that made sense underpinning the rambling. He could tune in and out and trust that eventually something would hang together. Wade, on the other hand, had a reasonable plan when Clint was sure he didn't, and when it seemed like he did, it sometimes ended up involving a third party who didn't exist. Or who only existed to Wade.
Because there wasn't anything else to do, Clint drank the coffee. If Wade had spiked it again, at least it meant he wouldn't have to deal with the surreal restaurant or the car switch. The car abandonment.
"This new car better be able to play the CDs," Clint said, "I'm not going anywhere without the violins."