Word Count: 1934
Summary: Ignoring pain, mental and physical barriers so that he can keep up with the rest of his superhero team has become a new hobby
Notes: I've already posted this ages ago on ff.net and I'm just now coming around to post it on livejournal, so don't be too worried when you think you've already read it before :)
Beta was provided by the Beta-Branch.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately I don't own anything and neither am I making any money with this.
He’s breathing heavily and the New York streets around him are blurred, tinged red by the blood that’s running into his eye. There’s more blood on his arms, slipping in between his arm guard and his glove, actually pooling in the fingertips.
The quiver on his back is empty, the bow useless in his hand. There are new scratches in the black carbon. Clint had to use it to fight off an Agent of the Zodiacs. He’d won in the end, but it hadn’t been easy and it hadn’t come without a price.
There are tears in his armor; the Zodiac freak had talons and they had been wickedly sharp. The Kevlar hadn’t stood a chance and neither had his skin underneath it. Hot blood is running down his side, but his dark vest is hiding it for now. Not that there is anyone around to see it.
A few of his ribs are broken, the ends grating against each other with every inhale. All in all it’s not good, but he’s had worse.
The fight had lasted for hours and Clint had started it at the top of a high rise a block away. Just how he ended up down on the street, a crumbled hot-dog stand behind him, he couldn’t quite tell.
He should go and find the rest of his team, check how they are doing, if the battle is over, but Clint isn’t sure if his legs would actually carry him. He doesn’t even understand how he is still standing.
Adrenaline is a strong motivator and it hadn’t been the first time that Clint had pushed himself to his limits and beyond. He works with goddamn superheroes. A normal human couldn’t really compare; ignoring pain, mental and physical barriers so that he can keep up with them has become a new hobby.
Still, after every adrenaline high there is an involuntary crash and Clint is pretty sure that it’s coming hard and fast.
His knees are starting to shake no matter how much he tries to lock them into place, and there is a dark edge to his vision that is slowly but definitely getting bigger.
Clint blinks, forces the black away, and shakes his head. His vision clears somewhat and it’s enough for him to start moving, ignoring the trembling knees and the screaming wounds in his side because there is no way in hell that he’ll just collapses and let himself be rescued by the rest of his team like some damned damsel in distress. Especially since he trusted Tony to actually try and carry him bridal-style –just for the fun of it, and he’d rather be dead when that happens. His dignity and self-consciousness is being pulled through the gutter more often than not since he started to work with the Avengers. He doesn’t need the added humiliation.
He knows where the fight had started, where Coulson and SHIELD had monitored the fight from and that is exactly where he’s going to go. The fact that he leaves a blood trail behind is something Clint chooses to ignore for the time being.
The com. unit in his ear crackles and then Steve’s voice is right there. “Hawkeye, come in. Where are you?”
“On my way back to you, Cap,” Clint replies, and shit, his voice sounds bad: gravely and airy at the same time. Steve must have realized that too, because instead of being left alone, Captain America just continues with his twenty questions.
“Are you alright? Should someone come and get you?”
Clint actually cringes at that one. He is in a world of pain right now, every step reverberating through his body and aggravating any injury he might have. “Nah, I’m fine. Just a bit winded. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Which, yeah, is a big fat lie. But again, he doesn’t want to be hauled back to base like some helpless little junior agent.
His vision is swimming again, coming in and out of focus in random intervals and he knows that he’s stumbling, feet and knees barely able to keep him upright. Shock is starting to set in, cold sweat mixing with hot blood on his forehead and Clint swipes the back of his hand across it, smearing it everywhere. Not that he can actually see it, not that he actually cares. The onset of shock is a bigger problem, especially since he’s is starting to hyperventilate. And that really hurts. His ribs protest against the sharp movements and yet he still can’t seem to get enough air.
He needs a medic, somewhat urgently, but he can also see the original area of operation. Iron Man and Captain America are bright points of color against the grit and concrete of demolished streets. The Hulk must have already turned back to Bruce, because he can’t see the angry, green rage monster and Thor is just pushing a taxi back onto its wheels.
His vision blurs again and nausea rises in his throat, which he viciously swallows back down. Clint’s nearly there, just a few more feet, and he can and will manage that. No matter that his body his begging him to sit down, to stop. Because his mind is still yelling louder to go on.
“Clinton!” Thor booms and Clint can hear him in stereo, not only through his com., but also from down the street. “It is good to see you. Are you hale?”
The sheer volume of Thor’s voice is enough to turn up his headache another notch and a white haze is invading his vision that simply refuses to clear up, no matter how often he blinks. He can barely make out Steve, as he looks up from actually sweeping the streets and even Iron Man turns around, from whatever the hell he is doing – probably watching Rogers and offering unhelpful pointers.
And then his knees crumble. They refuse to hold him up and the next thing Clint knows is that he’s on his knees on the ground, Steve running toward him, the rest of the merry troupe right behind him. His vision whites out again and Clint knows that he’s swaying, but he can’t stop it.
He crashes the rest of the way to the street, unable to brace himself and something jarred loose in his chest, because there is blood in his mouth now and his lungs are refusing to cooperate entirely. His ears are ringing and the white turns gray and then black.
Voices wake him up. They are muted, toned down, but Clint still recognizes them immediately. It’s Bruce and Tony, arguing about something or another. It’s science and Clint’s pretty sure he’s on some heavy duty painkillers, so he doesn’t even pretend to understand what they could be talking about.
He hasn’t opened his eyes just yet; can’t muster up the energy either if he’s honest. The bed isn’t exactly comfortable, but it’s nicer than the street that he remembers last. He lets the voices wash over him and the meds drag him back under again.
He’s more aware when he wakes the next time. There are footsteps somewhere down the corridor and a muted, regular beeping close by. Clint is pretty sure that the doctors are slowly weaning him off the good stuff, because he can actually feel his fingers and toes and the dull throb of what could be pain, but isn’t quite there yet.
Paper rustles close by and then someone snorts. “Looks like there’s a new tape about Mel Gibson yelling at people,” Steve’s voice drifts into his drugged mind, but it doesn’t prompt him to open his eyes. “Whoever the hell Mel Gibson is.”
It sounds like Steve is reading him the gossip column of whatever trash magazine he had found lying around. Clint chuckles at the thought. Well at least he tries to chuckle, because what actually comes out is a groan and an explosion of pain in his chest.
Paper hits the ground and a warm, strong hand holds onto his wrist. “Clint?”
Steve’s voice is louder now, the man clearly closer, but the pain is growing and slowly taking over his senses. There is no way that Clint’s going to open his eyes now. Instead he pulls back again, lets the dark win and slips back into blessed, pain free unconsciousness.
The third time he comes to, the pain is even more tangible. Little stabs of fire across his chest and in his head, burning over his arms. Clint generally isn’t much of a fan of pain meds. They screw with his senses too much, keep him off kilter, but now he could really use a higher dosage. It’s not like he has to actually use any of his senses to shoot something anytime soon.
Someone hits his shoulder then. The blow is soft, not meant to hurt, but Clint groans anyway, because he only knows one person who would hit an unconscious man: Natasha.
“Stop playing possum, I know that you’re awake,” her voice follows the punch a second later. That is enough incentive for him to open his eyes, because he also knows that Natasha will hit him again if he doesn’t comply.
Everything is still blurred, the shapes out of focus and blindingly white. But with every slow blink the world sharpens and eventually he can see Natasha’s fiery red hair somewhere to his right. He focuses on the fuzzy batch of pink underneath the red, knowing that in a few minutes time, he would make out her features.
“Don’t do that again, idiot.” Her words sound harsh, but Clint had known her long enough now to read the underlying worry in them.
“Can’t guarantee that.” Clint replies, also knowing better than to lie to her. Besides that, she believes him and knows him well enough that he really wouldn’t act any differently, no matter the promises to her. It’s how they work, pretending to be fine when they really aren’t and hiding any weakness, because it can get you killed.
The plastic underneath his nose is itching, the constant flow of oxygen up his nose annoying and Clint pulls off the canula, throwing it casually to the side. He’s ready to escape from the infirmary. He sleeps better in his own bed and without doctors around to watch him constantly. It unnerves him to be under so close scrutiny. Usually Natasha helps him escape, so he looks up in surprise when her small hand stops his before he can pull out the IV.
A larger hand pushes him back into the thin mattress and suddenly Thor is standing on the other side of his bed. Clint hadn’t even realized that he’s come in, or the remaining three men.
“Rest, my friend. You have been severely injured in battle.” Luckily Thor had learned to use his indoor voice sometime in the past months and Clint only flinches marginally at the noise level and the ensuing headache.
“It’s okay, we keep the big, bad doctors with their pointy needles away from you,” that was Tony, smirking as usual and Clint would glare at him, if he had the strength to. Steve elbows Tony in the ribs and that has to be enough for now.
Even with the five of them hovering over him, Clint feels safe and relaxed and his eyes fall closed despite the fact that he’s fighting against it.
Natasha’s hand is still warm in his. “It’s okay Clint. Go back to sleep. We’ll be there when you wake up.” She whispers in his ear and he barely has the energy to nod, before he falls asleep again.