Fatigue – Ch. 2
The days and weeks piled up, turning into months. The first six months were a lot of fun as he broke into various buildings and drove his newly hired staff crazy trying to prevent his daily excursions. It was trial by fire for the men and women who weren’t used to preparing for someone with the training Clint had. He even forced himself to spar with them on his good days ignoring the resulting collapse the next day if it proved they needed to push themselves to improve. In the process they’d stopped three bombing attempts, six kidnappings, seven assaults, and hundreds of minor incidents that could ruin a CEO’s day.
It was over a year since Loki now and he wasn’t doing better. He hadn’t seen Natasha at all, they kept in contact by the occasional email when her missions were slow or she was at a European Shield base. Whatever weapons transport they’d stumbled on in Europe had exposed a nasty organization that she was tasked with infiltrating and recovering prototypes or plans as she could. She had several good agents for back up so Clint wasn’t worried even if he did wish he was there watching her back. It was probably for the best, he barely got an hour of practice in a day now and that sometimes got swept aside depending on how bad he was feeling.
The constant feeling of being sick with the flu hadn’t let up leaving him strung out and exhausted even after a light day of work. On the bad days he’d collapse into bed and be unable to keep solid food down while his brain tried to pound out of his skull. Jarvis had come up with a system for dealing with Clint’s bad days that at least took the edge off things. Clint wasn’t sure what would have happened if he’d still been living on base or off on his own. He’d have probably died before someone noticed he hadn’t been seen for a few weeks.
He crawled out of bed and took a lukewarm bath, having given up on showers given how even light pressure set his nerves jangling with pain on a bad day. It was a miracle he was moving at all after yesterday but he needed to check on Pepper and make sure the rest of his security team was covering the gaps. He dressed slowly sitting on the edge of his bed, and pulled on his coat, tucking the stocking cap and gloves in a pocket for later. He always seemed to be cold lately.
In the kitchen there was a glass of fruit smoothie in a travel mug and a travel mug of coffee. Jarvis left it to him which one he would drink. On bad days it was the smoothie, good days meant the coffee and a microwave breakfast sandwich. Today was a smoothie day.
He gathered his bag and went back for his phone and tablet when Jarvis flashed a reminder at him when he started towards the elevator. Finally getting everything together he headed out, tugging on the fingerless gloves and hat on the way to the car. Carl, his normal driver who subbed for Happy most often took one look at the smoothie mug and was silent for the entire drive letting Clint steel himself for the rest of his day.
Striding into the office he checked in with Nancy Smites, the ex-staff sergeant who’d become Pepper’s new secretary and door guard. She ran the floor and its occupants like an army base and Clint couldn’t be happier. She filled him in as he shed his coat and gloves.
“Ms. Potts is taking the day off after the excitement of yesterday. Flowers have been sent to Mathew’s hospital room and he’s getting a hazard pay bonus from the company and his entire medical bill taken care of. The general security of the building had been doubled and everyone was being checked for weapons at the door before they were allowed in.”
“Make them check everyone; they waved me through without a word.” Clint said, emptying his bag and glancing at the monitor for how many messages and emails he had waiting, 102.
“I’ll alert the guards now.” She said with an approving nod, “Who do you want to pull up to partner Danvers?”
“Rolls should be able to step up if Danvers will give him a few pointers on how to handle the executives.” Clint said knowing the recently discharged marine was solid if unused to dealing with some of the demands the visiting CEO and rich entrepreneurs would make of anyone who looked like staff near them.
“Noted,” Nancy said with a grin, “The repairmen are already working on the foyer and garage damage. “Ms. Potts wanted to know if there were any security changes you wanted made included in the repairs?”
“I’ll email them to you.” Clint said with a sigh, “We also probably need to look at getting most of the employees to either sign a waiver acknowledging the danger working here might put them in or offer them a transfer to another building. Get someone in legal working on it.”
“Yes, sir;” She said with a nod before hesitating near the door, “Do we know how they got in, sir?”
“The idiots in the laundry department let a fake truck in and the mercs got the drop on them. They waited in the loading dock until someone on the street let them know that Ms. Potts was entering the lobby. We need to add a screening system of some kind to the delivery trucks since we missed this one.”
Clint and John Mathews had been guarding Pepper as she walked out of the elevator and into the lobby. He’d spotted the gun coming up and thrown a knife even as he shoved Pepper to Mathews. Mathews had shielded her until she was behind the counter, taking a bullet in one shoulder even as he shot two of the gun men. The other three had fallen to Clint’s knives. Two were still alive thanks to incapacitating wounds that weren’t fatal but three had died, one from Mathews shot to the chest and two from a knife to the throat or eye.
Tony had descended in the suit and taken Pepper back to the tower since she hadn’t been injured while Clint made sure Mathews made it to the hospital with a guard in tow just in case. He dealt with the initial cleanup, police statements, and made sure a Shield agent was attached to the case. It was close to midnight before he finished with the legal and publicity teams so that the proper announcements went out and the local news wouldn’t make too much of a fuss. Sadly, anything with Stark in the title sold papers and the reporters would be hounding the tower even more for the next few weeks.
“Let me know if you need anything.” Nancy said giving him a sympathetic look, “I’ll try and keep the crazies out for a few hours.”
“Thanks, Nancy.” Clint said with a huff as she shut the door behind her, “Anything I need to know about Jarvis?”
“There is rather a lot of chatter back and forth from Shield. The messages are encrypted to a rather extreme level and I haven’t attempted to break the coding as of yet. It seems to only deal with the upper level agents.”
“I’ll call Hill later today and see if she’ll share.” Clint said with a sigh, his day was just kept getting worse.
Hill and most of the other Shield agents he saw on his trips to base treated him like a leaper. He’d went from being one of the most skilled and trusted agents in the agency to someone they wouldn’t trust enough to spit on in the dessert least it give him the strength to crawl for water. He still went to medical once a month to get scanned and poked but they’d thrown their hands up and were just running the same tests over and over again lately, none of the medications or treatments they’d tried had helped that he could tell.
No one knew why he felt like crap and struggled to even think some days. No one knew why his nerves were over stimulated and his body ached like he was dying of the flu. No one knew why he had nearly constant headaches and migraines that reduced him to a huddled mess. No one knew why and no one really cared at Shield if he wasted away, he wasn’t their problem anymore.
Pepper had offered to set up doctor’s appointments for a second opinion and he’d finally agreed. He’d been seeing Dr. Utahan for two months now and was waiting on the latest batch of test results. So far they’d ruled out Rheumatoid Arthritis, endocrine disorders, Lupus, and brain tumors, Clint thought with a snort.
He shivered for a moment and let the pain wrack his frame before forcing himself to stand up and tug on his gloves. He needed to make his rounds and check in with Research and Development. Just like at Shield if R&D didn’t see someone wandering through at least once a day they’d wander off on some insane tangent and start building ray guns. Coulson had been a firm believer of discrete review, as long as everyone got their work done they could slack off a bit but they needed the occasional reminder of what their work did or how it was used, which meant a once monthly show and tell, which was of course today.
By the end of the demonstration he’d flagged several of the developers and projects for further promotion and development. Some of the items had just been silly like the glowing algae that they were hoping to use to replace lighting but others could be applied to benefit the company. By the time he left the building he had a full blown migraine and was wearing his sun glasses. He’d bug Hill in the morning.
Carl took one look at him and took the short way home, driving as smoothly as he could, avoiding the pot holes where he was able. Clint sent a text to Jarvis that they should give the guy a bonus. By some miracle they made it to the tower and into the garage without having to mow down a reporter. Clint took the elevator to his floor, leaning against the cool metal with his eyes closed thankful for the reprieve.
Once he was inside he dimmed the lights and carefully scouted the rooms but nothing was amiss. He ordered Jarvis to lock down the floor and shivered as the emergency steel doors came down behind the glass with a thud. He tugged out his hearing aids and stripped, forcing his breathing to stay even, his iron control was starting to slip now that he was safe.
Clint forced himself to take the pain medication by his bed with a sip of water before he climbed in. Only then did he let go, curling into a ball of misery as the pain overwhelmed him. Eventually the drugs knocked him out and he slept until the dose wore off. The rest of the night was spent in a daze, shivering in pain or drugged into unconsciousness.