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An Hour After the War

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Turns out that SHIELD’s cobbled together in 15 minutes method of dealing with possession or mind control was to treat it like the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome as done to a child. Having a completely suborned will as an adult wasn’t really anything that most of the therapists they had were ready to cope with. They usually had something like PTSD or disassociation or outright psychosis to deal with, not that Clint hadn’t seen them for versions of that in the past anyway. When you were as good at killing people as he was, it was sadly run of the mill to expect all of the above. It was always going to be a race between getting killed by the enemies of SHIELD or by his fellow agents when he flipped.

None of that however, was helping at the moment. All it was doing was taking up brain space as he waited for his laptop to finish booting (again) and write his after-action report. He’d done the easiest one first - the battle for Manhattan. Mentally substitute Apache Helicopters for the Chitauri sleds, squint and put in a squad of spec ops soldiers for Captain America, etc. Straightforward enough to write a combat report, even when it did include phrases like ‘The enemy combatant known as Loki was unconscious when I arrived at the last location (see attached map - Stark Tower, Penthouse Floor) due to multiple contusions and what was probably a physical confrontation with Dr. Bruce Banner in his altered state known colloquially as the Hulk. I, along with my team members (see Director Fury’s files: The Avengers Initiative) held him under guard until Thor, Prince of Asgard, was able to put him in handcuffs that were alien in origin (see addendum 38b).’

No, the next report was the one on the Helicarrier. He was going to cover from his attack on the engines to being captured by Natasha. Nothing like starting from the end to get to the beginning right?

Clint startled as a big hand came down and closed his laptop. He looked up into Captain America’s eyes. No, Steve Rogers’s eyes. Clint might have more time in combat but there was no denying a brother-in-arms. They’d fought in very different wars but there was something about a fellow soldier (even if Clint hadn’t seen regular service in over a decade) that demanded mutual respect. That and he owed the man for taking Natasha’s word and a nod as good enough. A bit of expediency sure, but this was past that.

“Reports later. Right now you need to come with me.” Steve didn’t wait. He just turned and walked away.

“You can take the officer out of the Army,” Clint groused as he pushed back from the desk and followed.

“No, I was like this long before the Army. I’d say ask someone but I don’t think there is anyone around left to ask.” He shrugged, broad shoulders making the leather jacket creak. “But you can chalk it up to that if it makes you feel better.”

“Where are we going?” He entertained the idea for a moment that he was being led to the brig but that didn’t strike him as either Steve or Director Fury’s style. If they hadn’t clapped him in irons yet it was going to wait until the politicians got a hold of the issue.

“I rescued a bunch of guys once. Found out that sometimes taking a long walk is the best thing going for getting your thoughts in order.” He kept striding down the hallway though he’d shortened his stride enough to let Clint catch up and walk alongside. “So you and I are going to take a little trip. Figure I could use some time myself.”

“How very…” Clint bit back the words that wanted to fall out of his mouth.

“Old fashioned of me?” Steve’ smile was more than a little bitter. “There are worse things. Besides, it’s not like your generation invented guilt.”

“Hadn’t even gotten that far yet,” he admitted. “I’m still stuck on not knowing what the hell just happened.”

“Fair enough. Bucky and the Commandoes didn’t know either. Took the better part of two days before it really stuck that they had a chance at freedom.” Steve’s glance was far too knowing for Clint’s comfort. “Anyway, road trips are an honored American past time.”

“And it puts me out of reach.”

Steve pointed to the quinjet. “You’re not the only one that’s ready to be out of immediate reach.”

Right. A few weeks ago Steve was frozen in the ocean. “So, road trip.”