Bottled Lightning – Ch. 2
Clint came out of recovery with the doctors hopefully enthusiastic about his progress. He was breathing well on his own and they were just waiting for him to wake up from the anesthesia. He was a mess of IVs, bandages, and drains that would take months of healing and therapy but he would heal in time.
Phil was sharing his shift with Bruce today. The doctors thought Clint would wake up sometime this morning. It had only been twenty eight hours since his surgery and none of them were expecting him to be up to the normal disappearances he pulled when he was injured. They both jumped when Clint groaned, shifting as he woke up.
“Clint? You’re in the hospital. You need to stay still.” Phil said, waving Bruce back just in case he woke up violent or stuck in a dream. It had happened before, Clint tended to react badly to sedation of any kind.
Clint threw himself upright and back with a gasp. Phil felt his stomach drop as he took in the white lines of energy that were crackling and arching across the archers body. The worst part was the blazing white that removed any hint of eye color. It was Loki all over again.
“Bruce, go get the others. I’ll see if I can calm him down.”
“Right, I’ll get security to clear the floor just in case.” “That would be good.” Phil said fighting against every instinct screaming at him to back away. He didn’t want to consider what would happen if an explosion like at the collapsed building happened in a Shield hospital.
He barely made it another two tiny steps before Clint shouted, tossing out his arms like he was trying to protect his face. That was the last thing Phil saw as the energy exploded outward, throwing him into the wall and making every pane of bullet proof glass around them shatter. He let the darkness take him as Phil felt his head connect with something on the way down.
“Bad time to take a nap, Cheese.” Director Fury said with a sigh.
“Barton?” He asked pulling himself upright and waiting on the room to stop spinning.
“He’s in New York. The plane’s waiting on your lazy ass.” Nick said handing him several pills and a cup of water.
“Is anyone with him?” “Stark’s AI is keeping an eye on him. Anyone approaching him right now is just going to make him rabbit again.”
“You make it sound like this has happened before.”
“It has.” Fury said with a sigh. “Come on, Cheese. I’ll read everyone in on the fight.”
“Agent Barton’s been with Shield ten years, Nick. If he had that kind of power we would have noticed.” He said pulling on his coat and stepping into his shoes.
“Let’s wrap this up people, there’s a jet waiting.” Fury snapped, gesturing for the rest of the team to follow him as he strode off down the hall.
“How are you feeling, Agent Coulson?” Bruce asked, moving to grab the slightly unsteady man’s arm.
“Like I have a mild concussion, Dr. Banner. I’ll live.”
“I take it Fury is being a lying liar who lies again?” Tony asked, tapping away on his phone as they moved.
“I believe that this is more lying by omission however since Agent Barton was my asset I should have been informed of an abilities such as this.”
“Less chatter and more walking, people! I want my asset back before he manages to take out half of New York!”
“Please tell me that’s not an actual possibility. I just got Stark Tower fully repaired from the last major battle.”
“Get on the damn jet, Stark, or I’m leaving your ass here.”
“Okay, we are all strapped in. Spill.” Tony snapped, glaring at Fury.
“There is a limit even to my patience, Stark. Don’t push it.” He snarled back handing a stack of files to Phil. “Clint Barton’s full intake file.”
“Why didn’t I see this when he became my asset?” “Because that was part of his contract with Shield. He agreed to join only if his mutation was never exploited in any way, shape, or form. I was only to reveal the information we gathered about it if he became a danger to himself or others.”
“So, he’s a mutant. One tenth of Shield hires are mutants. How is he different?” Natasha asked eying Fury like she was deciding where to start cutting.
“We didn’t recruit Barton. He contacted us. He was tired of working on his own and had researched Shield. He liked what he heard and put out notices to get our attention.”
“That’s not right. I chased him for six months before having to shoot him in order to slow him down, Nick.”
“Barton demanded that he get to test his handler. If you couldn’t keep up, he wouldn’t work with you.”
“You don’t normally cave to assets demands.”
“I do when they have the power to back them up.” Fury said, running one hand across his mouth. “Barton agreed to let us test his abilities. Xavier looked at him and said he could level half the continent if he ever let loose but his moral compass was too strong to ever let him do that willingly.”
“Think about it. An assassin who only kills those who are truly evil, which is able to manipulate energy on the subatomic level, which can kill with a touch, yet prefers to use Paleolithic weapons because it represents a challenge. The man is a walking contradiction.”
“Why exactly has he never used his abilities for his missions?” Phil pressed.
“I really thought you would have caught on by now, Coulson. We have a boy who grew up abused and abandoned by everyone he ever knew, a boy who hit puberty while part of a circus of misfits and freaks. By sheer luck his mutation presented in front of a mutant who was part of the circus. He taught Barton how to hide his mutant abilities and how to turn them inward. It’s not why is he not using his mutant abilities, it’s when is he not.”
“His eyesight?” “That’s actually normal. Far as we can tell he was born with it. His enhanced speed, strength, stamina and accelerated healing are all his mutant ability.”
“And what he’s doing now?”
“He calls it jumping. He lets the energy build up until it explodes outward and focuses on a destination. He hates doing it however, says it feels like being torn to pieces, shoved through a tube and rebuilt on the other side.”
“That sounds…most painful. Not like the bifrost at all.” Thor muttered, watching the others with a worried expression.
“Has he ever lost control like this?” Phil asked needing answers faster than he could find them in the files.
“Since he joined Shield? No. He did have a similar incident after his brother and mentor tried to kill him. Managed to jump to a small town they had visited at one point. He was found by someone walking their dog and put in a hospital until he could heal himself fully.”
“Far as we can tell it’s an instinctive reaction to get himself somewhere safe. My guess is that he was close to dying under that building, passed out, and jumped completely on instinct to his safe house.”
“And at Shield?”
“When has he ever liked hospitals?” Fury said with a shrug.
“How are you planning to approach him once we get to the tower? He didn’t let me get within ten feet.” Phil pointed out.
“The difference between me and you is that I have a crib sheet for incidents like this. I was on my way to his room when he jumped. Once we get there I’m going to need everyone to stay back until I get him calmed down a bit.”
“What can we do to help?”
“Mainly stay out of the way. His defenses are up while he’s like this. Any threat no matter how small will be dealt with like it’s lethal.”
“How does he generate the…energy exactly?” “No idea. All I know if that the more scared or injured he is, the more he pumps out.”
“Great. So we have an assassin with an ability that can level most of New York in a tower powered by a massive arch reactor that would take out the rest of New York when it explodes.” Tony groaned.
“Considering you also house a man who turns into a giant rage monster, a super soldier, and a god, Tony, I doubt Clint is going to do that much damage.” Bruce pointed out with a small grin. “If he’s kept absolute control while working for Shield I doubt we could do anything to set him off.”
The first thing they found walking into the empty guest floor was blood. It lay smeared and pooling along the walls and tile floors. A line of discarded half melted medical paraphernalia pointed toward the living room area with bloody foot prints leading the way. Clint was curled, sitting up against one wall barely covered by the discarded hospital gown.
“Someone needs to get him some clothes. The rest of you, find a spot near a wall and don’t interrupt.”
“He needs medical treatment if he just pulled all those tubes out.” Bruce pointed out with a glare.
“What part of advanced healing ability did you miss?” Fury snapped, “He’s healing himself as we speak or did you not notice the dancing white lights under his skin?”
“That happens when he heals?” Steve asked, moving to lean against a far wall.
“You’ve seen him heal?” Bruce asked at the same time.
“Who do you think healed Coulson while he was in his coma? Seriously, get your heads around this. You’re supposed to be a group of some of the finest minds on the planet. I’m starting to doubt that designation.”
“How the hell are you taking this so calmly?” Stark snapped.
“Trust me. I’ve seen weirder.” Fury said with a glare. “Now find a piece of wall and let me deal with this cluster fuck already. Preferably before he decides we’re a threat and blows the building.”
They all glanced at where Clint was now watching them with glowing white eyes from his slump against the wall. Fury moved forward after a final glare at the team in general. Natasha had already disappeared to get the requested clothes and whatever else she thought Clint would need.
“I really don’t have time for this kind of shit, Ronin.” Fury snapped moving forward and dropping to a crouch a few feet away from Clint. He ignored the murmurs behind him and where Natasha was frozen in the entryway with a bag over one arm.
“Sorry, Boss.” Clint slurred, eyes not really focusing.
“You’re making my job complicated again, Ronin. You understand what that means?”
“You’re outing me to Shield.” He said, watching as Fury pulled out a handkerchief from inside his coat and started gently cleaning the archer’s hands and arms. “No, just to the team. As far as the reports go you will have been under the effects of residual energies from the tesseract that have since dissipated.”
“Benching me again?”
“At least a month until you can prove to me that you are back under control.”
“Can do that if you let me use it. Just need to get the levels back down.”
“How are you planning to do that?” “Healing.” He said, reaching out and touching Fury’s cheek with one hand.
“We’ve talked about this, Ronin. I like my eye the way it is.” He said grabbing Clint’s wrist and pulling his hand away.
“Just let me stop the pain. I know it hurts you.”
“Just that, nothing else. I don’t want to have to explain to medical how I grew a new eye overnight.”
“Yes, Boss.” Clint slurred, pressing his hand back against Fury’s cheek. His skin pulsed with an inner light as he healed the damaged nerves before letting his hand fall away.
“Thank you.” Fury said gruffly. “How drunk are you feeling?”
“Bourbon not vodka. It’s just power drunk. Can’t focus on anything unless I want to see everything.”
“How do you want to deal with lowering your power levels, Ronin? I’d rather not have to deal with you blowing up Stark Tower right now.”
“Told you, healing.”
“Healing who exactly?” “Doesn’t matter. Normally sneak into a few cancer wards till the levels are good.”
“We have a hospital just outside New York where our incurables go. I’ll arrange a visit. Everyone there has already signed off on experimental procedures.”
“You up to getting cleaned up? Romanov brought you some clothes.”
“Yeah.” Clint said, prying himself up slowly and staggering his way to the bedroom.
“Get dressed after you shower, Ronin. I’ve seen enough of your pasty ass to last a lifetime.” Clint flipped him off even as he bounced off the door way and disappeared into the bedroom.
“Coulson, Romanov, one of you go keep an eye on him. Don’t let him dawdle. We should be okay as long as he’s moving.”
“You really think taking him to a hospital is a good idea?” Steve asked as Natasha disappeared into the bedroom. “As long as we keep him moving between patients and not focusing on anything too hard, yes. You people need to wrap your heads around the fact that he has no control right now. He needs to get the levels down and to do that he needs to use it. It’s either by healing or by destroying something. Which do you want him to do?”
“Why is he ignoring us?” Thor rumbled from his place near the windows.
“He’s not. He’s trying to not see you at the subatomic level right now.”
“What do you mean, subatomic? No one can see an atom with the naked eye.” Tony said, sounding exhausted. “He has no control and no filter. Whatever he focuses on he’s seeing at full power. He looks at me and see’s the damaged nerves in my face. He looks the rest of you and god knows what he focusses on but it’s definitely not the face he normally sees.”
“Sound waves.” Clint said, wandering back into the room wearing combat boots, jeans, and an oversized hoodie.
“And?” Fury prompted.
“Good to know. We have a jet to take. Let’s move people, and take the next damn elevator. You really think boxing in a man who can rip you apart at the atomic level is a good thing?” Fury snarled, pulling out his phone and dialing one handed while he guided Clint into the elevator.
A doctor was waiting for them, protesting the use of his patients. They gained several nurses who followed them into the first ward. Fury pointed Clint towards the first bed and gave him a push forward before turning back to the doctor.
“This man has healed both myself and Agent Coulson. Are you saying that someone we deem worthy of treating us for life threatening injuries isn’t good enough to heal your patients? Patients I might add that have already signed in agreement of any and all experimental procedures?”
“We have never used mutants in this facility before. We don’t.” Fury rode right over him.
“Then we will be using them in the future. This Agent,” he said, gesturing at Clint, “will have constant access to this hospital. I don’t care when he shows up, he will be allowed access to our patients.”
“If any of the patients react badly to his methods…”
“They won’t. He uses energy to speed healing. Nothing more, nothing less. They might have a ramped up metabolism for a few days but it wears off.”
Everyone glanced up as Clint left the first bed and moved to the next, leaving behind a man slowly pulling himself up where moments before he’d been in a coma. Clint ignored the staff quickly moving forward to access his last patient. His hands were already glowing as he pressed one hand against a woman’s cheek and shoulder.
“How long has that man been unconscious, Doctor?”
“Then you might want to call for some more staff. I have a feeling he’s going to hit several floors tonight.”
“Floors? Yes, right.”
“We might be back tomorrow. It depends on the agent.”
“You want to get to work, Doc. You’re going to have a lot of healed patients to deal with.”
“Of course. Thank you, sir.” He said finally shaking off his stupor, tapping rapidly on his iPad. “Will this be a common occurrence, sir?”
“I have no idea. That depends entirely on the agent and this is not his day job.”
“Of course.” He murmured, already jogging away to see who could be called in.