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Pain Control

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“Clint. Clint, wake up.”

Clint found himself resisting the urge to say, “No, I don’t wanna, leave me alone,” but then he remembered that he was a grown man - in theory, anyway - and opened his eyes. His back hurt and his ankle hurt and his mouth tasted gross and for some strange reason he was on the floor next to his bed. It was hard and uncomfortable and no wonder his back hurt. Had he slept here?

Also Kate was staring him right in the face.

“I’m not sure I ever wanted to see you this close-up, Katie-Kate.”

Lucky’s face squeezed in next to Kate’s, his tongue lolling.

“Phew. You ever brush your teeth, man?”

Lucky barked.

Clint pinched his nose.

“You’re one to talk,” Kate said. “You smell awful. And why are you on the floor?”

Thinking made Clint’s head hurt. “Not really sure.”

“You smell like a distillery, if that helps.”

“Huh. It does, actually.” Clint might have over-indulged. It was only that his damned broken ankle (it sucked being a superhero without any superpowers, it really did) had been hurting, and alcohol had seemed like a good idea at the time. Numbing, you know. And then - Well, he wasn’t sure about the floor. Maybe it had seemed easier than maneuvering onto the bed. Maybe he’d just missed. Both options seemed equally likely.

“Pain control?” he said by way of explanation.

“Alcohol isn’t a good substitute for painkillers,” Kate said, using her disapproving, ‘you’re an idiot and I don’t know why I put up with you’ tone.

“I ran out of ibuprofen,” Clint said, smiling cheekily. “Also alcohol tastes better.”

Kate frowned at him. “If you take a shower, I’ll make you coffee and bacon.”

Lucky’s tail thumped against the floor.

Kate scratched Lucky’s ears. “And I’ll only give half of it to Lucky. Okay, sixty percent.”

Lucky’s tail thumped harder.

“Traitor,” Clint said. He wasn’t sure which of them he meant. Probably both. Here he was, suffering, and they were plotting to steal his bacon.

His stomach grumbled. Was he queasy, or starving? He couldn’t tell. He still wanted the bacon, though. After a shower. That was a good idea. He did stink. A lot.

Kate drew herself back up to her feet and walked out of the bedroom, Lucky trotting at her heels.

Clint lay there. The alcohol definitely wasn’t working anymore. He wondered if Kate would go to the drugstore and buy him a bottle of ibuprofen or Tylenol or something? Otherwise he would be forced to partake of an adult beverage, and she wouldn’t like that.

He pushed himself up into a seated position. “Aww, crutches,” he said. The damn things were across the room. Clint hated them.

He looked at his ankle, considering. It really did hurt. And his head hurt. And he was hungover.

“Kate!” he called out. “Kate, come help me!”

It took a few moments but Kate returned, arms crossed over her chest. “What now?”

Clint stretched his arms out. “Help me up?”

“Oh my God,” Kate said, but she went over and let Clint put his arms around her, leaning his weight into her as she helped him to his feet.

While Clint hopped one -legged over to his crutches, Kate said, “Sometimes I wonder how you even manage to dress yourself in the morning.”

“Yeah, me, too,” Clint said, grinning at her. “A miracle, right? But that’s what you’re here for.”

Kate rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why I put up with you,” she said, stalking back out of the room.

“Because you love me, Hawkeye!”

“Yeah, whatever, Hawkeye,” Kate’s voice drifted back.