Bottled Lightning – Ch. 4
The next morning Clint got cleaned up and started training. He had energy to focus and burn off. By noon he’d run through the outdoor obstacle course six times and spent two hours at the range doing speed drills. Natasha found him sprawled on the observation deck over the obstacle course meditating as he forced the last of the rampant energy into its normal box.
“Your eyes are glowing slightly.” She said, soundlessly dropping into a tailor’s seat next to him.
“They do that sometimes.” he agreed, shifting to let himself go limp against the floor, eyes closed.
“You’ve healed me before.” she stated, once they had been sitting together silently for a few minutes.
“Yes.” he said with a sigh, opening his eyes and turning to watch her profile.
“When? Every mission we went on together or just the bad ones?” Natasha pressed, her gaze firmly fixed on some point out the window.
“The bad ones.”
“And your hands are hot when you heal.”
“Yes. If you want I’ll ask permission if I think you need healing from now on.”
“I would like that, yes.” she said frostily making him wince.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t tell anyone. Too many people have tried to use it against me.”
“Fury said Xavier looked into your abilities.”
“Does it bother you talking about it?”
“It’s just…I’ve never talked about it. Ever.” he said shifting into a more comfortable position.
“And now the entire team knows and will want to talk to you about it.”
“As long as they don’t start expecting me to use it.” he huffed.
“What about the hospital? You don’t want to keep making rounds once a month or something?”
“I just don’t want them to depend on it. What if I’m on a long solo mission or can’t make it? I don’t want the team or Shield relying on me for that.”
“So you want to only use it in emergencies?” “I’d rather not use it at all!” He snapped, surging to his feet, “I don’t have control of it!”
“Then you need to learn control.”
“You don’t think I haven’t been trying? I’ve been working at being able to use it since I was thirteen. I only wind up hurting people!”
“So instead of learning to heal and use your abilities for good, you want to hide.”
“You’re not listening to me!”
“And you’re ignoring the people you could be helping.”
“No, I just refuse to hurt anyone else.” He snarled, heading towards the door.
“This is not like you; you don’t refuse to help people, Clint.”
“And you don’t normally jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts. Read the damn file from Xavier.”
Clint had almost made it back to his quarters when Bruce found him. He watched the scientist hurry towards him with a sense of foreboding. Lab coats had never been a favorite thing of his.
“Clint, do you have a second to talk?”
“Depends what it’s about, Banner.”
“Maybe we could go somewhere a bit more private?”
“Sure.” Clint said with a sigh, gesturing for Bruce to follow him as he led the way to his room. It was a tiny space with nothing more than a bed, shower closet, and a single chair for guests. Bruce took it in with a shocked expression.
“This is your room?”
“On this base, yeah. I don’t normally stay here much.”
“Was there something you needed to say? I kind of was on my way somewhere.” Clint pressed with a sigh.
“Right, yes. I wanted to ask if you needed help training.”
“I doubt you could help me in my training schedule, Banner.”
“I meant with your abilities. It sounded like you used meditation similar to what I do to control the Hulk.” Clint fought back a snort and the concept of the Hulk being under complete control.
“Most mutant abilities vary wildly, Banner. I only really use meditation when my control slips like when I’m injured. The rest of the time it’s just finding harmless ways to expend the energy.”
“Even so, I thought you might be interesting in letting Tony and I look into some emergency methods you could use to prevent spikes like this week.”
“The last thing I would want to be is someone’s lab rat, Banner, a sentiment I thought you would have shared.”
“You know Tony and I would never allow you to be experimented on, Clint.”
“You’re suggesting that I allow you to do exactly that.”
“No, I’m suggesting you let Tony and I help you.”
“I’ll think about it.” he ground out, fighting to restrain his temper and the instinctive spike in his powers.
“Good, that’s good. I guess I will see you later then.”
“Yeah, see you.” Clint grunted shutting the door behind Banner and dropping onto his bed with a groan. “Fuck my life.”
Clint grabbed his phone and keys before locking up his room. He might as well get out for a bit if everyone was going to hunt him down on base. He dropped by Sitwell’s office and let him know he was headed off base. He was barely ten feet down the hall before Steve almost ran him over.
“There you are.” He said with a grin, “I was hoping to catch you.”
“You caught me.” Clint said, crossing his arms over his chest and mentally cursing his luck. “Did you need something, Cap?”
“I wanted to talk to you about setting up a training session with the team this weekend.”
“Okay. What exactly are we focusing on?” Clint asked tugging the other man into an empty office and shutting the door.
“Integrating your new abilities into the team. We’re going to all need to get used to you having a more hands on role in the team.”
“So you want me to move away from being your long range coverage?” Clint bit out, fighting with his temper.
“Exactly, we can always use another heavy hitter on the team and we are going to need to work on transitioning you into that role.”
“And what if I don’t want to transition? I happen believe I work best in my current position, Rogers.”
“I’m not saying it will be every battle. We’ll still need a long range gunner sometimes but at times having you on the ground with the Hulk could be to our advantage.”
“You don’t think that one Hulk is enough?”
“What if we run into something that the Hulk can’t take on? We might need your energy abilities then, not to mention the healing if we get injuries on the team.”
“The healing I can agree with but I seriously doubt we are going to need a nuke going off mid battle, Rogers.”
“Who said anything about a nuke?”
“You did. I don’t have enough control to use my abilities off the cuff. You want me to nuke some baddie during a fight and I might take out half the city instead.”
“Then you need to train. Figure out your limits. Bruce has been doing wonders with the Hulk since he started working with the team.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not the Hulk, Rogers. You turn it on, you get all or nothing. There is no controlling it.”
“You did fine this week.”
“I almost took out half of New York several times over!”
“But you didn’t. I’m sure we can find somewhere remote for you to train like we’ve done with the Hulk. Give it a chance, Clint.”
“No, I’m sorry, but the answer is always going to be no.”
Clint needed to move. He stalked through the halls and tried to ignore how the other agents jumped out of his way, just a touch of fear in their motions. He hit the garage and mounted his bike before the lot officer could get out of his office. He ignored the shouts as he roared away, resisting flipping him off only by flooring the bike.
He lets his senses expand, sweeping along the road around him as he picked up speed. He focused only on the road, the bike under him, the roar of the motor and wind in his ears. He let it consume him until the gas light flashed at him hours later.
He pulled into the first station he passed, filled up, paid in cash, and was back on the highway in minutes. He pushed the engine hard and by the time he hit the coast the bike was sputtering slightly when he finally let it idle. Stopping at a small local store he bought a pair of jeans and new tee shirt, trashing his black Shield gear. Leaving the bike he started walking and didn’t stop until he hit the beach.
Hours later the beach was deserted and the sun long gone down but he couldn’t make himself move. Exhaustion thrummed through his veins while the pounding of the surf throbbed in his bones. His phone beeped that the battery was low and he shut it off without looking at the screen full of messages.
It was late the next morning when he found a dumpy hotel on the water and rented a room. He needed some distance from the cluster fuck that his life was becoming. Curling up in a patch of sun on the balcony he settled in to review his options. He had at least three days before he would be forced to call in to Shield. He kind of doubted that the team would give him that long.
He didn’t want to leave Shield but he wasn’t sure he could keep working with the team now that they knew about his abilities. He seriously doubted they would be okay with him not using his powers in the open. They wouldn’t understand that it was just too dangerous. He was the Hulk on steroids, a supernova in a human shell. All it would take was one lapse in control, one moment of hesitation and he and most of New York would be gone in a heartbeat.
He knew he was on the Avengers because Fury knew about his abilities and trusted him to survive battles that would have left most humans paraplegic. Fury was one of the few people that had readily agreed that his powers were too erratic to trust. Of course he was also one of the few people who had seen Clint lose control and survived to tell about it.
Clint pulled his phone off the charger and dialed waiting on the connection. Three access codes later he was finally transferred to the correct line. Fury answered with a snarling demand like always.
“Do I want to know why my techs informed me that you’re calling from California?”
“Not really. I need to know that if the team decides it doesn’t want me that I still have a place with Shield.”
“Is this a valid concern?”
“Several of my teammates have already expressed that I should be training my abilities.”
“And I take it you refused?”
“I’ll talk to the team. When do you plan on returning?”
“I was kind of hoping you had something for me to do. I need to be doing…something.”
“I’ve got a class six mission you can handle. The chopper will pick up at six am. Don’t miss it.”
“Thank you, sir.” Clint said, hanging up and letting himself collapse back into the musty mattress. He set his alarm for five and let his muscles relax. Tomorrow he’d be back doing what he was born to do. Maybe by the time he returned the team will have given up on forcing him into a substitute Hulk.