Darcy slowly drifted out of sleep as strange sounds infiltration her senses. Blinking slowly she opened her eyes searching for the source of the sounds. It almost sounded like a wounded animal, and she sat up realizing it was coming from the bed. Clint was wrapped in the blankets and bed sheets, covered in sweat and obviously dreaming.
“Darcy! Where is she? What’ve…you…done?” he mumbled, tossing his head back and forth, obviously struggling against something in the dream. “Darcy!”
Moving from the armchair she forgot the warnings against waking him from such a dream/flashback. Pressing a gentle hand to his arm she shook him. “Clint, Clint! I’m right here. It’s okay, wake up Babe.”
His hand shot out and grabbed her wrist hard. Darcy jumped and squeaked as he ground down on the fragile bones. Using her other hand she tried to pry his fingers off, as he sat up and stared at her. She froze, watching him warily as his cloudy gray eyes stared unseeing at her. “Clint, let me go. It was just a dream, c’mon wake up!” she struggled in vain against his vice grip on her arm.
With a rough shove he let her go and she tumbled to the floor. Clint rolled, grabbing his bow from under the pillows and Darcy’s eyes widened in shock. She hadn’t seen him put it there when he went to bed. He spun in a crouch bow held horizontally, arrow nocked and pointed at her.
“Clint! What are you doing?” she shouted.
Unhearing, he gripped his bow tighter. Standing in front of him was Viper, the Hydra agent who’d captured and tortured him and Darcy. He shook his head as the woman’s face blurred and Darcy’s face appeared. Blinking, he desperately tried to get his vision to clear as the face morphs back to the hydra agent. “No! You won’t get me with your tricks. You aren’t Darcy!”
Darcy backed away slowly, hands outstretched towards him defensively. “Clint, it’s me. It’s Darcy, I’m right here in front of you…you’re safe. We were rescued remember? We’re home in Avengers Tower.”
Confusion slid across his face for a moment as he slips between reality and what’s going on in his head, before his gaze hardens. “No, you’re lying! I won’t let you get in my head; I’ll never betray my team! Or Darcy!”
The dark haired woman laughed cruelly. “Oh, we’ve already done that Archer. Your precious Darcy is our guest at this very moment, though from the sound of her voice, I don’t think she’s enjoying her stay."
Clint flinched as a scream pierced the air. Suddenly he hears Darcy’s voice and she appears in front of him. “Clint, please come back. What you’re seeing isn’t real! It’s not real babe, I’m real and I’m here with you. I love you!” Tears slipped down her cheeks as she pleaded with him.
She disappeared and suddenly Viper was in front of him again. “No! What have you done to Darcy? I’ll kill you if you hurt her!” he shouted pulling back on the string of his bow, the nocked arrow aimed straight at her heart.
She smirked. “Oh it’s too late for that. Your precious girl is already hurting. Can’t you hear her lovely screams? It’s music to the ears.”
Darcy’s eyes widened in horror as she realized that he was completely stuck in his head and had every intention of shooting whoever he was seeing, which just happened to be her. Opening her mouth she let loose another ear piercing scream hoping someone would hear her. Turning she ducked through the doorway as the arrow embedded itself in the frame, right where her head had been. “Jarvis!” she shouted as she ducked behind the couch. “Alert the others! Code Purple-”
“Alerting the team Miss Lewis, though I would advise escape and evade tactics be used as something is wrong with the system and lockdown is impossible.”
Peeking over the couch to find Clint she ducked again, flinching hard as an arrow hit the couch quickly followed by another. Darcy crawled along the back of the couch looking for more cover. Their rooms were good sized, so there was plenty of open space, which would not exactly help her in this situation. Scurrying from behind the couch she dove behind the island in the kitchen hearing several arrows thud into the floor and then the island as she moved. “Help me please!” she shouted at Jarvis.
Clint watched Viper run and tracked her, growling in frustration as his arrows narrowly missed her. His aim was off, must be from something they did to him. He had to get rid of her and save Darcy.
Darcy knew her only chance was to make a dash for the front door and then the main stairs. The others were somewhere in the house below them as Clint and Darcy’s rooms were on the topmost floor of the mansion. Taking a deep breath she sprinted for the door scrambling to open it and sprinted for the stairs, dodging an arrow as she went. Adrenaline pumped through her, helping her to ignore the nagging injuries her body had sustained while they had been captured. Her breath tore from her lungs in painful gasps as panic threatened to overcome her. Stumbling on her bad leg down the stairs she prayed that she would keep her balance. Falling now would not be a good thing as it would hurt like hell and slow her down. Oh and like an arrow wouldn’t? She thought sarcastically, letting out a short laugh.
Clint watched as Viper laughed evilly, evading him as she moved down the staircase towards the main floor. Sprinting after her, he gained ground slowly until she was close to the bottom and he had a clear shot. Drawing back on the bowstring he tracked her as she ran.
Not knowing who all was in the mansion, Darcy started yelling anything to get someone’s attention. Jarvis was sending out the alert over the mansions intercom. “Avengers, Code Purple! Friendly fire!” He shouted normal dulcet tones obviously stressed and desperate as he tried to get someone to come to her aid. “Avengers, Code Purple!” Sirens began to blare loudly throughout the mansion.
Clint winced, releasing his grip to clap a hand over one ear. The pain in his head increased and his vision shimmered again to reveal a decadently decorated house and a familiar woman with long curly brown hair running away from him. Wasn’t her hair black? And why was he suddenly in a house instead on the dark, damp concrete compound he’d been held in for days? Something wasn’t right; they were playing tricks on him again, trying to get him to let his guard down. His vision wavered again and suddenly the mansion disappeared and there was the dark haired woman in front of him again. Nocking the arrow again he drew the bow tracked her progress as she hit the bottom of the stairs, stumbling as she shouted something he couldn’t understand.
Darcy reached the bottom floor and stumbled as Natasha suddenly appeared out of nowhere. She startled at the sight, still not used to people with ninja skills living under the same roof. She smiled; relief washing over her, help had arrived. Clint’s voice cut quickly through her relief.
“Stop!” he growled roughly.
Automatically Darcy stopped, the look of panic on Natasha’s face telling her that Clint was right behind her. She held her weapon pointed at him but he didn’t notice, completely lost in his delirium. Darcy knew Natasha wouldn’t hesitate to shoot him somewhere nonlethal to take him down and save Darcy. Unable to allow him to be shot she stepped in front of Natasha’s line of sight and shook her head slightly, her gaze even. Natasha’s eyes widened but she held her weapon steady.
“Turn around and face me!”
Raising her hands she slowly turned to look at him. His eyes were clouded over, a wild look on his face, as he stared at something she couldn’t see. “Clint…Clint, I’m right here. I’m not captured and being tortured. Open your eyes Babe, I’m right in front of you.”
Clint slammed his eyes shut, shaking his head to try and clear his mind as a whisper of Darcy’s voice floated through the air, pulling at him. Why was he hearing her voice? She was pleading with him for something. His head pounded as he fought through the fog to find her voice. Opening his eyes again, the vision of Darcy floated in front of him, a look of concern on her face before she was replaced once again with the Hydra agent.
“Darcy. Where is she?” he demanded.
Viper cocked her head at him curiously. “Why do you want her? She’s a pathetic weakling. You know, it didn’t take much to break her…she’s really rather fragile. She gave you all up, Clint Barton.”
Pain threatened to overwhelm him. “Stop lying, you stupid bitch!” he roared. “Why would I believe anything you say? Darcy is the only one besides my team who would never betray me! Where is she? Give her back to me and I’ll make your death swift!”
Darcy watched him argue with the demons in his head, her heart swelling at his faith in his team…and in her. His trust was hard won but fiercely loyal once given and the fact that he actually had people in his life he could trust to never betray him, made him return the favor. His pain radiated from him and her heart broke as he shouted for her. Tears filled her eyes, voice hoarse with emotion as she continued to call to him and moved closer, ignoring the arrow pointed at her heart.
“No! I’m ending this now!” he said grimly, preparing to loose the arrow.
She heard the helpless sound from Natasha behind her, as she was completely unable to do anything for Darcy without getting them both killed. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Steve, Tony, Loki, and Thor slowly advancing behind Clint. Bracing herself Darcy stepped forward around the bow and brought a hand up to press her palm against his cheek. “Clint Barton, you listen to me! I am right here in front of you, I’m not hurt. Open your eyes and come back to me!” Bringing her other hand up, she cradled his face in both hands and pressed her lips desperately to his.
Clint stopped short in surprise as the woman pulled him into a fiery kiss…but then it changed to something familiar, like coming home. The world suddenly snapped into focus and he realized it was Darcy kissing him frantically.
She pulled back, eyes glistening with tears as she searched his face, a brilliant smile crossing her face as she found what she was looking for. “There you are, we lost you there for a moment,” she said softly pressing his bow towards the floor as he released the tension, holding it limply at his side. Natasha moved to take the bow from his grasp and set it aside.
“Wha-how, what’s going on?” he asked in confusion frantically searching her face and down her body for any injury. “You’re okay?” Reaching up he covered her hands with his, bowing his head to rest his forehead against hers.
“It’s okay Babe, I’m here. What you saw wasn’t real,” she whispered, pressing a soft kiss to his lips. Darcy watched the team as they stood around them in a semicircle, concern and relief apparent on their faces. Steve stood behind Clint with a small syringe in his hand. Glancing at Darcy questioningly he waited for her nod of approval.
Darcy rubbed Clint’s cheek gently with her thumb. “I love you, Clint. Everything is going to be fine. You need to rest now.”
“I’m so tired Darce…but I can’t sleep. And everything hurts… I don’t know why.” Confusion and pain radiated from his haunted grey eyes.
“I know, but everything is going to be okay. We’ll help you get some rest okay?”
Knowing what she meant, he nodded slowly, relief rushing over him. Usually he hated anything to help him sleep, any kind of drug that slowed down his responses, but at this point the pain was threatening to take over everything. “I love you Darcy. I’m sorry.”
She smiled gently. “I know, its okay. Just rest now.” Meeting Steve’s gaze she gave him a small nod.
Steve quickly pressed the syringe into Clint’s neck. His eyes rolled back and he slumped suddenly, Steve wrapping his arms around his body to keep him from hitting the floor. Catching Darcy’s eye he nodded reassuringly as he lifted Clint into his arms. “He needs to rest, and get his wounds rechecked. I think he tore some stitches and re-aggravated his wounds. We’ll take him down to the infirmary so they can monitor him and he can rest.”
Tears overwhelmed her suddenly, and Darcy pressed her hands to her mouth, a strangled cry escaping as her legs collapsed. Arms caught her, sweeping her up in a gently embrace. Looking up she met the deep emerald gaze, full of understanding. Her face crumpled and heart wrenching sobs escaped and she wrapped her arms around Loki’s neck as her adrenaline crashed completely.
Loki held her tight in his embrace, rocking slowly back and forth. Natasha ran a gentle hand down Darcy’s hair, offering her silent comfort as well. Darcy sobbed, letting all the repressed emotions out all over Loki’s chest. As her tears faded she pulled her head up to glance at Natasha with a small smile of thanks. Natasha clasped Darcy’s hand gently before giving her and Loki some space.
“Loki…I need to be with him. It’s not his fault…what they did to him almost broke him,” her voice cracked as she spoke through her tears.
“I know Darcy. Listen to me,” he clasped her face in both hands forcing her to look at him. “You don’t blame him do you?”
She shook her head. “Of course not.”
“Neither do any of us. Clint isn’t the only who’s had episodes like this which is why we have the new protocols. He’s been making a lot of progress, but we knew this could happen again right?”
She nodded wiping at her cheeks, leaning heavily into him.
“You can’t help him if you are falling over. When was the last time you slept?” he asked softly.
Darcy shrugged. “I don’t know. Days, maybe? I didn’t sleep much…while we were captured. It’s been weeks, but Clint hasn’t been sleeping well since we got back…so I stay up to watch him usually but I must’ve fallen asleep…when I woke up he was confused…and well, you saw what happened.”
Loki hugged her close, pressing gentle kiss to her hair. “You both have been through so much…you can’t help him if you collapse. Sleep now, you don’t have to do this alone. He won’t wake till tomorrow at least.”
“Put me next to him in the infirmary?”
Loki smile softly. “Of course. Sleep now.” He slid a finger down her cheek, soft green light emanating from his hand as he pressed soothing magic into her until she slumped against him. Gathering her tighter into his arms he headed towards the infirmary, trailed by the others.
Clint surfaced slowly; glad the world didn’t seem so fuzzy anymore. He could hear the soft bustle of the infirmary and voices speaking softly. Opening his eyes he saw the familiar infirmary room, the lights dimmed low and comforting. Glancing around the room her saw chairs haphazardly pulled around the room, various members of his team sprawled in them. Darcy was curled up in the comfy chair next to his bed, and next to her, long legs stretched out and holding her hand was Loki. Tasha was next to him head down on her folded arms on the small table, face peaceful in sleep. To his left was Tony, scribbling on a touchscreen tablet, arc reactor casting a soft glow through the room with Pepper curled up next to him, feet in his lap and her head resting against the back of the loveseat.
Steve and Thor sat at the end of his bed heads close together as Steve taught Thor how to play chess against Bruce. A small smile crossed his face as he took in his family surrounding him. Moving his gaze back to Darcy, he reached out slowly, muscles protesting at the movement, to brush his hand against her arm.
Sleepily her eyes began to open and she blinked at him several times before realizing he was awake and looking at her. Sitting up she dislodged Loki’s hand, waking him, as she leaned forward to grasp Clint’s hand.
“Hey,” he croaked, throat bone dry.
A soft smile crossed her face. “Hey Handsome. How are you feeling?” she asked brushing her hand through his hair.
“Thirsty,” he rasped.
Grasping the cup on the table next to the bed, she held the straw to his lips as he lifted his head to sip. Sucking desperately he almost inhaled the water before Darcy pulled it away from him.
“Slow down Cowboy. Too much will make you sick,” she said softly, tucking her hand into his.
Tony glanced up as he heard soft talking interrupt his thoughts. Seeing Clint awake he nudged Pepper gently and she was out of her seat and next to the bed in a second. Grasping his other hand, tears welled up in her eyes as she looked over his battered body.
“Hey little brother. I love you,” she said softly pressing a kiss to his cheek, being careful of the cuts and bruises. “You better take care of yourself or you won’t have to worry about Darcy kicking your butt,” she pointed a finger at him sternly.
He held an arm out. “Hey big sis.” Seeing the tears, he enfolded her in a one armed hug. Pepper had stepped in and taken on the role of surrogate big sister to him and the others (except Tony of course), worrying, and bossing them around as she forced them to let her take care of them.
Clint grinned around Pepper’s head at Tony and held his hand other out and Tony slapped his hand grabbing it in a makeshift handshake. “Hey man, you look terrible,” he stated matter-of-factly, his voice cracking with emotion.
Pepper gasped and pulled away to stand upright. “Tony!” she scolded, slapping his arm, sighing in exasperation.
Tony jumped. “Ouch! What the hell woman?” He gave her an innocent look.
“That’s a terrible thing to say! You jerk!” She admonished, trying to hide her laughter.
Clint couldn’t help but laugh wrapping an arm around his injured ribs as pain radiated through him. “Thanks Tony,” he said wryly, knowing his friend was only saying so to hide the emotion he was feeling.
Truthfully Tony’s bluntness was a welcome familiarity, which he preferred to everyone treating him with kid gloves. The others moved around the bed and they chatted for a few before Pepper herded everyone towards the dining room to make them eat. Loki pressed a soft kiss to Darcy’s forehead, saying something softly to which she nodded.
Glancing up he met Clint’s gaze, eyes full of understanding. Loki understood what he was going through, having been through a similar experience. While Loki hadn’t been his favorite person for obvious reasons, over time they had become friends after Loki joined the Avengers.
If you need to talk Clint Barton, you know where to find me.
Nodding slightly he thanked him without words. With a small smile Loki nodded back and lifted his hand in a wave before ducking out the door. Clint looked back at Darcy as she watched him interact with Loki. He pushed himself up on his forearms trying to sit up, but his whole body protested.
“Stop, you’re going to hurt yourself worse,” Darcy pressed a hand to his shoulder.
“I just want to sit up a little. Can you stick some more pillows behind me or something, just prop me up?”
“Oh. Yeah.” Getting up she pulled some pillows from the linen closet and braced an arm on his back to hold him up as she placed the pillows.
As he settled back he grasped her hand, pulling her down to sit on the bed next to him. “Another Code Purple huh?”
“Babe, look at me,” Darcy prodded.
Looking into her eyes, he didn’t see an ounce of blame, fear, or wariness. He sighed heavily wiping a hand over his face. “I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to be sorry about. Okay, while I was super scared there for a moment, I knew that you’d come out of it, or someone would make it to us before you something happened. We knew this could happen. And I’m rambling…” trailing off she took a deep breath, grasping his face in her hands. “It’s going to take time.”
“Darce, I almost killed you,” he whispered painfully. “I was seeing things that weren’t there…I was completely out of it. I’d never forgive myself if I hurt you.”
“But you didn’t. There are safety protocols in the mansion for each the Avengers should something happen. And while there was a glitch somewhere we were prepared anyway. We knew this could happen, but you snapped out of it without needing to be knocked out or something worse.” She grinned at him mischievously. “Besides you know I woulda tasered your sexy ass if I’d had my Taser on me.”
He laughed shortly. “Of that I have no doubt.”
Darcy widened her eyes in fake surprise. “That’s what this was about!” she pointed a finger at him eyes narrowing suspiciously. “You were trying to get me back for my little friendly fire incident with my Taser when we first met.”
A grin slowly crept across his face until he burst out laughing, breaking the tension in the room. “Yes, that was exactly my plan, to use my PTSD flashback to use friendly fire on you,” he snarked.
Relieved at the break in tension and suddenly lighter mood she joked. “How about next time you use the Nerf bow or the arrows with the suction cups on them huh?” Her smile lit up the room, blue eyes full of love and laughter.
Clint’s laughter slowly died and he slid his hand around the back of her neck and into her hair, tugging her forward. He pressed his lips to hers softly before pulling her closer and deepening the kiss. His hands moved down her back and over her hip tugging at her until she moved to straddle his lap. Her hair draped down to curtain their faces as she kissed him, sucking at biting softly at his lips, their tongues tangling. Clint slid his hands down to grip her ass pushing his hips into hers as she moved her hips against him, sliding over his hardness and dragging a low, throaty moan from him. Pulling away she leaned her head back letting him trail his mouth slowly down her neck and across her chest. Biting softly at her skin he slid his hands up her sides brushing his thumbs over the sides of her breasts sending a shiver down her spine.
Gasping, she slid her hands through his hair, nails raking softly over his scalp as she slowly pulled away leaning her forehead against his. He watched as she kept her eyes closed, a small smile on her face like she was savoring something.
“Mmmm.” Sighing deeply she fought for composure as she opened her eyes. He was watching her intently, grey eyes cloudy and full of desire. “You take my breath away.”
He laughed at her open honesty, pulling her in for another breath-stealing kiss. Wrapping his arms around her he went to roll them over, forgetting about his injured ribs. With a gasp he broke the kiss a hand moving to cradle the injured spot.
“And there goes that idea,” Darcy joked.
Glancing down at her he gave her a sheepish smile. “Sorry, don’t think we’re gonna be going much further tonight.”
“No worries, I’m good with cuddling. How ‘bout you?” she asked as she stretched out next to him, laying her head on his chest as his arm wrapped around her.
Clint smiled as he pressed a kiss to her hair. “I’m good whenever you’re in my arms.”
They lay there for a while just enjoying the silence. As Darcy started to slip into sleep she whispered. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Darlin.” Clint closed his eyes and slipped into his first peaceful sleep in a long time.