Clint remembers the first hit, the whumpf against his chest and the way his vision tilted violently sideways, the jarring impact of his shoulder on the concrete floor of the warehouse. The last thing he sees before his eyes close is a blur of red and gold and supersonic electric blue, and Tony’s mechanical voice cursing expressively.
There are pricks of blood on the inside of Clint’s elbow, haloed by rings of green and yellow bruising. He blinks at them, and feels every one of his eyelashes against the skin of his face. He closes his eyes and gets distracted by the whirls of colour on the side of his eyelids. His stomach pitches and rolls, and he lurches, retching weakly.
Sir someone says, and he struggles to open his eyes. There’s a man there, in green clothes and a scratchy looking beret, very close to him. In the distance, there’s crashing and shouting, and someone screams get the suit off him and that, finally, jogs something in the muddled recesses of Clint’s mind. Clint tries to get up and falls to the ground, stumbling. The man in the green clothes tries to grab him and Clint breaks two of his fingers, lunging for the gun at his hip.
The man shouts, shoving Clint away and he crashes against the wall. He staggers to his feet, rubbing at his eyes. His vision is muted and hazy, and the white of the room he’s in make him feel like his skin is bleeding into the tile below him. People in long coats flood in, and someone grabs Clint, their fingers pressing into the dots of pain along the vein of his arm. They pull at him, and he kicks out, connecting hard with someone and falling back to his hands and knees. He coughs, and tries to remember what he was trying to do. There’s a streak of dark red blood across the back of his hand, and he stares at it. It’s stiff and tacky and he can’t, he just can’t think.
He feels himself being lifted, and he closes his eyes against the sudden rise of nausea in his belly. Someone shoves his wrist into a heavy leather strap, and when it pulls tight across his muscle he arches, his mind snapping to another table, one that was cold and harsh and the sound of something dripping into his veins and Tony shouting his name to the side. Clint shouts, flailing, and a weight hits his chest, pinning him down and he can’t move and he can’t breathe and something tears out from the back of his throat that sounds like a sob.
Stop,” someone says, and everything does. The strap on his wrist goes slack and the weight lifts off his chest and Clint flings himself from the metal gurney, scrabbling against the floor until he finds a corner he can fit his back into, crouching and baring his teeth in a challenge. One of the men in long coats is holding a cylinder with a needle coming out the front and Clint snarls, his muscles coiled. You will leave now a man says, and he looks a little different than everyone else, in dark clothes instead of green pants or white coats. There are other noises and rumbles of other voices, but Clint tilts his head at the new man, because he looks familiar, the shape of his name is just out of reach for the curve of Clint’s tongue. Slowly, everyone leaves, and the man stands to the side of the door, his hands spread open where Clint can see them.
There’s a clear line from where Clint is to the door and he wipes at the drips of wet in his eyes. His breath is coming fast and hard in his chest, and he pants, gasping.
You’re having a reaction to the sedatives, the man says, and very slowly slides down the wall so he’s sitting at Clint’s level of sight. Stark is recovering well, he continues, and Clint tilts his head. He can’t parse the sentence, not completely, but something about it makes him relax back on his haunches, slump down against the wall and take a deep breath. They sit in silence for a long time, and slowly Clint’s heart stops pounding painfully against his chest, and he comes to feel the cool of the floor against his palms and the feel of the sun on his skin, coming in through a small window.
“I have something for you,” the man says, and his voice becomes sharper, clearer, and the shape of his body turns into smooth lines instead of curvy waves. The headache pounding in Clint’s temples eases.
“I,” Clint says, and the man starts minutely. Clint licks his lips. His throat feels parched and raw. He swallows back his words.
“This is yours,” the man says, and takes something from out of his jacket, something folded up and dark and dangerous looking and seeing it makes Clint’s fingers clench and his palms ache. Mine, his mind whispers, mine mine mine.
“Mine,” he rasps, and then coughs.
“Yours,” the man agrees amiably. “There’s water to your left, there.” Clint turns his head, keeping one eye on the door, and on the table top there’s a pack of bottled water. He moves slowly, flinching a little at the plastic crinkle as he cracks the top open. He drains half the bottle in one go and sits back, fingers clenching around the thin paper label. He tips his head back against the wall and breathes. His memory starts to come back, in little starts and fits, and his headache starts up again.
The man lays the little fold up weapon in the palm of his open hand. “Are you hungry?”
Clint’s stomach rumbles. He narrows his eyes. The man fixes his eyes on something in the distance and sits very still, looking bland and altogether non-threatening. Clint slides himself, still in a crouch, inch by inch over the floor, his muscles trembling with the control it takes not to bolt out the door, until his outstretched fingers close over the edge of a foil wrapped ration bar. He draws back and uses his teeth to rip it open. The food clears his head a little, the familiar cardboard chewiness making his back teeth stick together.
“You are safe,” the man says softly, and his eyes crinkle at the edges. He slowly reaches into a pocket again and unwraps another bar. The smell of peanut butter floods Clint’s nose, and for a while the only sounds are of them chewing, the rustling of the wrappers. Clint slides a little closer, feeling heavy and tired, but his vision isn’t tilting at all anymore, and then man presses his bow into Clint’s hand and it feels like safety and coming home. Clint’s eyes keep fluttering closed despite himself, but there’s no panic rushing through his veins.
“Coulson,” he says clearly, his tongue coming unstuck, and Coulson smiles at him.
“Yes,” he says in that same calm voice, and Clint lets himself slip down until he’s leaning against Coulson’s side. “Go to sleep,” Coulson says, and Clint does.