Burned – Ch. 7
Clint woke with a start, blinking in the darkened room. The air was too still. He pried himself up trying to ignore the stabbing throb of his head.
“How can I assist you, Agent Barton?”
“Where’s the Doc?”
“Dr. Harris was called back to Shield for an emergency surgery.”
“And the team?”
“The Avengers were called out an hour ago for a disturbance in Brooklyn.”
“Do we know who it is?”
“Captain Rogers believes it to be Hydra or at least one of their splinter groups.”
“And the lights are still out why exactly?”
“I apologize, Agent Barton, but all nonessential systems have been shut down to boost the security systems performance.” Jarvis said as the room shook from some explosion or collision.
“Is the tower under attack?”
“Yes, Agent Barton. I would advise finding a defensible position in your rooms. My recommendation would be the closet.”
“Right.” Clint muttered forcing himself to stagger to his feet. The closet held most of his back up weaponry any way. He made his slow way to the closet, his balance acting up as he fought to not throw up from the pain in his head. The door clicked shut behind him and he started to gather knives and one gun, he doubted he would really do that much damage before someone shot him with how his head was spinning.
“Are you alright, Agent Barton? Your vitals are elevated.”
“Great.” Clint panted out. He stuffed himself into the corner of the room and set his gun to one side. He did not trust himself right now to hold it. When the darkness pulled him under moments later he welcomed it.
Clint woke up strapped up an upright chair, feeling concussed. Strangely it had happened often enough in his career with Shield for it to feel normal. People were yelling and occasionally smacking him in the sides or shoulders. Everything was garbled; it was like he was concussed and drugged. What the hell had Hydra done to him?
“What is wrong with him? Who did this?” the head thug demanded, tapping at the dazed agent.
“He was down when we broke in, Boss.”
They watched as Clint suddenly began to seize, blood trickling from his nose.
“Wonderful, we managed to kidnap Hawkeye and he is so broken we can’t question him.”
“How do we play this, Boss?”
“Shut up! I’m thinking.” He said watching as Clint stilled and slumped against the restraints unconscious.
“Someone get me a camera and a big piece of paper.” He snapped waving two of the minions away to go find what he needed. “We are going to ransom the Hawk back to the Avengers. We will use the money Stark will pay us to get the information.”
The team watched in horror as the video tape that arrived was played. Clint sat strapped to a chair, bloody and barely conscious. A masked man to one side pulled his head back as the camera zoomed in on his face showing his blown pupils and the hemorrhaged blood vessels in his eyes that were staining the white of his eyes red. Blood coated his chin and lips, dripping in a steady flow from his nose.
“Christ, what did they drug him with?”
“Hard to say but it’s not anything I have seen before.” Natasha said, her voice empty of emotion. “Nothing we can do about it right now. Let’s focus on finding him first.”
“Right.” Tony said swallowing thickly. “Jarvis, start analyzing the footage. Toss up any screenshots that look interesting to the walls for the team to review.”
The second video two days later was worse. Clint was chained against a concrete wall, body limp while his arms were cuffed together above his head. It was clear that at least one of his shoulders was dislocated. Bruises cover his sides and back, showing dark against his pale skin. He was wet and the black pants he was wearing clung to his form making him look thin and small.
“At least they left his brace on. If he was cuffed like that without it the damage might not be repairable.” Bruce muttered looking slightly green, before turning away. “I’m going to meditate. Let me know if anything changes.”
Clint wove between being slightly conscious and out cold. Much of the action around him when he was awake was distorted and fuzzy. Everything hurt in a steady burn of pain, all his muscles protesting at once but his head was the worst, a solid migraine that fuzzed out his sight and left him dry heaving at the slightest movement. They hosed him down a few times but mostly left him alone. He knew something was seriously wrong. He could understand what people were saying around him but it was like pulling barbed arrows out of his own flesh to respond.
He must have been out when someone finally came. He woke as a fuzzy shape arranged his limbs on the wet concrete. He watched numb as they stripped him out of his freezing wet clothes and forced his limp limbs into a workmen’s coverall, shoving boots on his feet and quickly tying them. His bad arm banged into the floor and Clint twitched in reaction, a weak mew of sound leaving his throat.
“Barton?” The blurred asked, “I’m going reset your shoulders. It’s going to hurt.”
“Kay.” Clint said, voice rasping and barely there. He rode out the pain as each arm was guided back into its socket with a bony crunch. His bad arm was then duct taped to his chest to keep it out of the way.
“Give me a pain scale, Agent. How bad is it?”
“Head.” Clint rasped, swallowing thickly. The soldier helped him to sit up, the other man helping support his neck and head with one steady hand. Clint knew those calluses and the voice in his ear but he was too out of it to connect the dots.
“Think you can walk?”
“Going to have to; It’s too far to carry you the whole way.”
Clint didn’t bother saying anything. He wrapped his good hand in a strap on the tactical uniform and tried to anchor himself to the man’s side as he pulled him up. His balance was shot but he could stand with support. They moved quickly through the corridors, occasionally stepping over dead or dying soldiers. Few of Shield’s members could have done this by themselves but Clint could not spare the energy on questions, not with a Shield emblem inches from his nose on the man’s chest.
“Conf’mation code.” He managed, tugging at the man’s vest when they crouched at an intersection. The soldier rattled off this week’s code without hesitation letting the last of Clint’s worry slide away.
“Tell me yours while we move, Barton.” The man insisted, hauling them both down the next corridor. It took three corridors for Clint to force out the code and his vision was full of black spots when they finally stopped just outside the compound. He heard the man start cursing as he went limp, darkness eating his vision.
Agent Phil Coulson cursed as Clint went boneless for a moment before starting to seize. He heaved the shaking form over his shoulder and started off. They needed to get away from the perimeter before the last set of explosives went off. By the time the Avengers arrived the base should be permanently disabled and most of the crew incapacitated in the hangers thanks to sleepy gas grenades.
He really did not like the look of this. Clint had two more seizures before they reached the cave he had scouted on the way in. They had at least another two hours before he could contact Shield and find out where the rendezvous was going to be located.
“Really don’t like you like this, Clint.” Phil muttered, wrapping the limp archer tighter in his arms. “You feel feverish enough without adding pneumonia to the mix.” The foil emergency blanket crinkled annoyingly but it was cold in the cave.
“This was not supposed to be how the reveal went.” He said with a huff. “Once the mission was over I was going to hold a meeting and just walk in. Tony, of course, would yell. Pepper would cry and maybe slap me. Bruce would be his normal calm self and would avoid me for a while. Steve would be disappointed at the lies but happy that I’m alive. Natasha will not be surprised since she assumes everyone lies but will punish me in some form later.”
“You were the only one who I couldn’t decide on. Would you punch me? Sit silent and watch with the thousand yard stare that unnerves everyone? Walk out? I never could decide how you would react. Heck, I never knew during missions how you would react. You jumped off buildings without a thought if it meant that you would save someone else, disobeying every order if it meant that you could save a single life, even at the cost of your own. I never understood why you don’t seem to value yourself as highly as everyone else does.”
Clint twitched weakly, his good arm coming up to grip at Phil’s sleeve. Phil shifted him slightly so he could see his face. Clint’s grey pupils were ringed in red from burst blood vessels making it hard to see where he was focusing. His normal light tan had disappeared, leaving a pale unhealthy look to his skin.
“Waking up, Agent Barton?” Phil asked, moving to slid out from under the man. Clint’s hand went white knuckled where it was holding on while a thin choked sound slipped from his throat making Phil freeze in place.
“Okay. Okay, I’ll stay here.” Shifting back the few inches he had moved. Clint slowly relaxed against him, eyes sliding back closed.
Two hours and another seizure later, Phil called in and got the coordinates for the pickup. He slid out from under Clint and left him to sleep while he packed up.
“Hey, Barton. Time to move.”
“Okay.” Clint slurred, staggering as Phil hauled him up.
They trudged through the forest as a slow pace. Clint was silent as they moved, all his concentration seeming to be focused on keeping his footing. By some miracle, he did not have a seizure in the hour it took them to reach the clearing. Phil had never been so relieved to see the bus waiting for him. Staggering on board they headed past the waiting medics and helped Clint to lie down on a stretcher. Phil made sure he was secure before moving to where Fury was waiting.
“How is he?”
“Bad.” Phil bit out. “We need to get him to a full hospital. Whatever they gave him is really messing him up. He’s been seizing on and off since I got him. Are the avengers in position?”
“Moving in as we speak.” Fury said with a grunt as Clint started thrashing. “I’ll get the bus moving.” Phil moved forward to catch Clint’s arm where he was trying to push one of the medics away.
“You’re in medical, Barton. Let the medics do their job.”
Clint slowly relaxed into his hold but twitched when the other hands touched him, like he had no idea anyone was standing there. Phil glanced at Fury with concern before turning back to Clint.
“I need a status report, Agent.” Phil barked, pushing Clint back down when he tried to sit up.
“Right wrist broken. Cracked ribs. Migraine. Prob’ concussion. Hard to talk. Can’t see. Everything’s blurry.” Clint reeled off haltingly, body tense and chest heaving.
“Stand down, Agent Barton. The medics are going to explain what they’re doing.”
“Yes, sir.” Clint murmured as he slowly relaxed. The medics moved in, explaining as they started to cut away the tape holding down his bad arm. They got him into sweats and his arm in a sling with IVs running before the next seizure hit.
“We’re running some tests on the blood we drew but so far nothing is flagging as a toxin or chemical he was given. We are also starting him on muscle relaxants to limit the damage done when he has a seizure. He should sleep for the rest of the trip.”
“I understand.” Phil said with a small nod. “Any idea what could be causing the seizures?”
“The best guess is a brain trauma of some kind. We’ll know more once we get somewhere that can do in depth scans.”