Bottled Lightning – Ch. 3
Hours later Clint pulled away from the bed in front of him and didn’t move on to the next. He glanced around the room taking in the frantic staff and the small cluster of super heroes and Shield agents who were waiting on him. Shuffling over he wrapped his arms around himself.
“Done for the day?” Fury asked, tossing Stark his tablet back.
“Yeah, probably will need it again in the morning.” Clint said with a sigh.
“I’ll have the jet pick you up at nine. Think you can do without me for a while, Ronin?”
“Yeah. Thanks, Nick.”
“How are you feeling?” Bruce pressed, pushing forward as Fury strode away.
“Tired. I just need to get everything locked back down and I should be good.”
“How do you do that exactly?” He asked as the rest of the team followed them through the hospital to the hangar bay.
“Probably about like you do. Meditation.”
Clint made his slow way off the quinjet once they arrived at the tower. He tried to ignore the way everyone except Bruce was giving him a ten foot radius. It all just made him tired. No one except Fury and Bruce had approached him since they found him at the tower.
He was trying to ignore the fact that they were letting Bruce do it because he was essentially indestructible. He was also trying to ignore the fact that he was probably the one person on the planet right now who could take out the Hulk. Would it hurt? In more ways than Clint wanted to think about but he could do it.
Natasha he could understand. He’d hidden something from her for seven years, hidden abilities that could have saved them countless times over on dozens of missions. He wondered if she realized that he’d healed or bumped her energy levels up when she flagged on many of those missions as well.
He wandered into the common area with a small sigh. He ignored the looks Bruce was shooting him and shuffled into the kitchen. He suddenly sagged against the counter coughing, curled in on himself as he violently hacked. Straightening he wiped shakily at his face before continuing to the fridge.
Pulling out two protein drinks, he grabbed a jar of peanut butter as an afterthought. He shut the door before pausing to wipe at the handle with the sleeve of his hoodie. He could feel the energy crackling just below the surface, begging to be used.
“Clint” Bruce said softly moving like he was going to touch Clint.
“Nope.” Clint said weakly, gathering his haul to his chest and shuffling to the elevator.
“Jarvis?” he asked coughing into his sleeve.
“How can I assist you, Agent Barton?”
“Of course, sir.” Jarvis said soothingly, opening the elevator as he finished his too slow shuffle. Bruce, of course, followed him in.
On his floor he went to the bedroom, ignoring the bed and opening the closet. Setting his food on the floor next to his pallet, Clint struggled out of his hoodie tossing it to one side. He heard Bruce gasp softly behind him but he ignored it, curling on the pile of blankets and pulling off his boots.
Clint did his best to ignore the rest of the team getting to the floor and tromping their way along. God, they were loud and he was running on instinct, never a good place to be for him. He huddled in his nest and finished his drinks while the others milled around. He’d half-finished the peanut butter when Bruce come back and stopped just outside the open door.
“What do you need? Can we do anything for you?” Bruce asked, shifting in the doorway. Clint pushed the peanut butter away with a sigh.
“Just leave me alone. Going to sleep and I don’t know how I’ll react if you try and wake me up.” He settled deeper into the pile of blankets and tried to ignore how his skin was glowing from the energy pulsing just beneath.
“Okay, I’ll have Jarvis wake you when the jet arrives in the morning.”
“We’re not giving up on you yet, Clint.”
Clint woke to the feeling of eyes watching him. Natasha was perched on his bed in the main room watching him with unblinking eyes. He coughed as he untangled himself from the blankets and made his slow way to the bathroom. She followed a few feet behind.
“Almost healed.” He corrected absently, stripping and starting the shower.
“You’re coughing up blood.”
“When I jump.”
He ducked under the water and grabbed a bottle of some kind of body wash to scrub himself down with. He didn’t stay to enjoy the never ending hot water like he normally would; he was on a time limit. He could feel it building under his skin and in his chest. He managed to get mostly dressed before it surged, taking his legs out from under him and leaving him huddled on the ground.
Clint could feel the energy snapping in the air around him looking for an outlet. Desperate, he threw his senses wide. He grabbed on to the steel girders of the tower, following their deep progress into the earth. He let a trickle of the excess pour down the path his mind had noted, pouring into the earth below the tower and dissipation into heat.
The team watched him collapse. Listened as Jarvis began listing changes to the build. The temperature in the room soared, Clint’s skin and hair steamed as the lingering water from his bath was vaporized.
“Barton, what just happened?” Stark demanded, as Clint slowly uncurled and pulled himself back to his feet.
“Need to get to the hospital.”
“No, you tell me what you just did.”
“I grounded some of the energy.”
“In my building!”
“In the ground, I just used the steel to guide everything down.”
“Tony, let him get to the jet. We can figure out exactly what he did later.” Steve said, gesturing for Clint to head for the elevator.
“He could’ve destabilized the entire building!”
“But he didn’t.” Steve said trying to sooth the pacing engineer. “Jarvis, back me up. Did Clint hurt anything?”
“Except for a ten degree increase in temperature of the walls next the girders; I am not registering any damage. I will continue to monitor the situation.”
“Do that and run some models to see what could have possibly happened.” Tony snapped.
“Already in progress, sir.”
“Let’s get this freak show on the road then.”
“Tony.” Bruce said with a sigh, looking at how Clint was huddled in on himself in his seat on the jet. “He can’t help how he was born.”
“He can learn some damned control. Or at least have the decency to tell people before he starts destroying their things.”
“Like the Hulk does?” Bruce asked, taking the seat next to Clint. The rest of the ride was silent.
Clint spent the rest of the day silently healing, moving through the different wards of the medical base. The doctors had been better warned this time and they simply pointed him toward the worst cases and the incurable patients. He had pushed his sleeves up as the day wore on, letting everyone see the pulses of light buried under his skin.
“Does it hurt?” One nurse asked as she helped the patient he had just finished with.
“What, the healing?”
“No, does the light hurt?”
“No, it’s…it’s more heat than light. It’s just warm.”
“So the healing would feel like?”
“Warm.” The patient said with a sleepy grin, “Like having hot tea poured into you, or thick sunlight.”
“Sounds nice.” She said with a grin. Clint forced himself to tiredly return it and continued his rounds. He paused in the hall once he finished the floor, accessing things. He probably could get everything settled if the team left him alone. He really doubted that was an option.
With a sigh, he made his way down to the next floor and to the next patient. If he drained himself enough he should be able to lock everything down even with the team distracting him. None of them were really known for their calm and level headedness.
While he worked he started setting up each “lock” as he thought of it. It was more of a task that he gave his gift to accomplish. Use this energy to heal him of any injuries he gained, use this bit to help his speed, use this to keep him moving past the point of exhaustion. It was a convoluted system but it had been working for him for years.
He absently wished he had used more control earlier when he allowed it to roar through him and heal every injury it found. The energy had remodeled the breaks from his bones and erased the scars from his skin along the way. He would not be surprised if he looked or even genetically was younger after this was all over.
Most of the team had already went back to the tower by the time he pulled himself into the waiting Quinjet. Natasha and Bruce moved like twin shadows behind him. Heaving a sigh he glanced at Natasha before moving to the pilot and handing over the note he’d written out earlier.
“Call in and check.” He muttered when the man simply gave him an unimpressed look.
“Going somewhere?” Natasha asked, as he secured himself into a seat.
“The New York base. He can take you guys back to the tower afterwards.”
“You’re not coming back?” Bruce asked fiddling with his glasses.
“Stark seemed rather against it. I have a bunk on base still. I’ll stay there.”
“You don’t have to. Tony’s just upset.” “Stark owns the building, Bruce. He doesn’t let us pay rent and can kick us out at any time. I’m just saving him the argument.”
“He’s not going to kick you out.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m out. I’ll come for training and shit but I’m not going to stay where I’m not wanted.”