Sorry this is so late. I always finish my stories. Sometimes it just takes a ridiculously long time.

4: The Mad Scientist Incident

To say Clint was feeling humiliated would be an understatement. First of all, the mercenaries had obviously been targeting Thor, repeatedly attempting to subdue and drag him away from the battle. The idea of kidnapping Thor was just ludicrous, and yet Clint had allowed himself to get caught up in defending his teammate and was quickly snatched up as an easier victim. Now he was drugged up to the gills, leaving him just aware enough to hear the melodramatic kidnapper's plan, and unable to do anything other than blink in response.

The evil super-villain of the day seemed to consider himself a scientist of sorts. He had outfitted the requisite subterranean concrete lab with an examination table, electronic equipment, and a suspicious lack of any science and medical tools that didn't facilitate slicing and dicing. Scalpels, yes. Petri dishes, no. Unfortunately, when Clint tried to comment on the matter, all he managed to do was accidentally bite his own tongue.

Lab Assistant Smyth (He was actually wearing a name tag, of all things), who had been carrying Clint around like a floppy ragdoll, had the nerve to drape the archer over one arm while he readied the examination table. Even if the lab assistant was stupidly strong, he could have at least pretended Clint's dead weight was a strain to carry. Despite his strength, he didn't make any attempt to set down the archer gently. When he hit the tabletop Clint's skull actually bounced with the impact.

It hurt.

"So you're sure these straps will work even with his super-powers?"

A cold hand wrapped around Clint's bicep and his arm was dragged out to lie parallel to his side. His arm felt heavy and disconnected from his body. In fact, his whole body felt disconnected and slow. Nothing moved under his command.

It was entirely unfair that he still felt pain.

Another voice answered from somewhere behind his head. "I told you I designed this examination table to hold Thor. I think it can take Hawkguy. Besides, I'm pretty sure his only super-power is flying or something."

Clint groaned internally. This did not bode well. He couldn't lift his head to see the rest of the room, or make any plans of escape. He couldn't really do anything except stare at the low cement ceiling crossed with pipes and dripping grates.

He had no doubts that Tony would eventually find a way to track him here, and Natasha would tear the world apart before she left her partner an unwilling captive, but Clint wasn't feeling particularly enthusiastic about lying here, waiting for them.

"All right, get his armour out of the way, and shut up. I'm broadcasting now."

There was a buzzing noise, and the equipment down beyond Clint's feet began to whir to life. The Mad Scientist walked past him. "Greetings, citizens of the world! You may be asking yourselves – who is this? And while you do not recognise my face yet, I promise you it will become one familiar and dear to your hearts. I am Doctor Chemicalia, and I interrupt your humdrum lives to bring you the truth! Today I bring you freedom from lies! I come to lead you out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light!"

Clint rolled his eyes as the crazed scientist's voice rose in pitch.

"Too long have we been controlled by the constrains of unjust law and totalitarian government. There's a conspiracy afoot!" he shrieked passionately. "A conspiracy against- is this thing recording? It is working, right?"

Assistant Smyth looked up from where he was fiddling with Clint's shooting vest. He was having an awful time trying to figure out how to unzip, unstrap and unbuckle the archer from his suit.

Served him right, oversized lunk.

"See the little red light, boss? That means it's recording."

"I know it's recording!" Doctor Chemicalia snapped. "I want to know if it's running."



"Yes, boss."

"Good." He turned back to his equipment, and Clint shivered as he was finally stripped of his shooting vest. Smyth tugged off his boots and socks, but thankfully left him his pants as he moved on to securing the archer to the table.

Cough, cough. "Ahem. It is time for us to strip away the façade that keeps us locked in fear! To escape from the lawman's pet guard dogs. It is time to reveal that there is nothing special about the Avengers, these so called 'World's Mightiest Heroes'! They pretend to have powers beyond those of mortal man, but in reality, they are as frail and mortal as the lowest bug! They are not gods: only human!"

Only human?

Only human?

Clint was quite proud of being only human.

"Watch me strip away these layers of flesh to reveal the same weak innards. Watch this 'Avenger' scream when I pull his puny heart from his chest and stop it with a single thrust of my scalpel!"

And there it was. The point of the whole long-winded speech.


Just Awesome. Dissected on live television. Exactly how he'd always wanted to go.

Tony would probably be able to get the footage off the air before it got too gory. But right now Clint couldn't even talk and employ his finely honed stalling techniques. How many pieces would the Avengers find when they showed up?

Doctor Chemicalia had moved on to maniacal cackling, giving them a brief pause from his horrendous speechwriting. Clint took a deep breath through his nose and let it out slowly. He could move his face a bit now, although he could tell there wasn't enough muscle control back yet for talking.

Smyth tightened the straps around Clint's wrists and moved down to his ankles where Clint couldn't see.

"Uh… Boss?"


"We have a bit of a problem."

The mad scientist let out a frustrated snort. "Just a minute. We'll be streaming live again as soon as I deal with this." He smacked his hand on the pause button, but when Clint rolled his head to the side (Yeah, movement!) he was able to catch a glimpse of the video monitor. The red record light was still blinking.

"What exactly is the problem?"

Smyth tapped a hand against Clint's wrists. "He doesn't fit."

"What do you mean he doesn't… oh." When the archer was lying far enough up the table for his wrists to be properly locked in place, his feet came up short of the ankle straps. In fact, Clint could feel his bare toes just brushing the tops of the straps. There was no way they could secure his legs in place.

"Well, where do the wrist straps land if you secure his feet in place?"

Smyth obligingly released Clint's wrists and grabbed him by the hips, tugging him down the table four or five inches.

He strapped Clint's ankles in place and looked up the length of their intended victim. "Just below his elbow, boss. He'd still be able to move his arms quite a bit."

Doctor Chemicalia rubbed at his jaw. The archer had an intimidating amount of muscle on display for his relative size. He definitely wanted those arms secured. "Are you sure we got the dimensions of the table right?"

"Yes, boss. He's just not the right size."

Doctor Chemicalia cursed. "Fine. We must have rope around here somewhere. We'll tie his arms to his sides. Just make sure the rest of his upper body is locked down."

Nodding, Smyth reached for another strap. "Oh. This one's not going to work either."

His boss looked over. "Really!?"

A piece of leather fell across his face, and Clint blinked. The cuff that was supposed to encircle his throat now lay across the bridge of his nose, ending just at his eyebrows. Even if they found away to tighten it so he couldn't just shift his head and slip out, the cuff wasn't long enough to go around a grown man's head.

"If I pulled it really tight, it might stay," Smyth offered. "Or if I looped it down under his chin?"

"No. That won't work. He has to be able to scream, and the footage won't be half as effective if they can't see his face.

Sicko, Clint thought.

"Forget that one, then. If his head flails around it will be more dramatic. Just make sure his upper body can't move. Secure his chest before the drugs start wearing off."

Assistant Smyth obediently reached across Clint's bare chest, pulling at the strap that was supposed to tie him to the table at armpit level.

It flopped loosely across his throat. Clint rolled his head to the side and twisted, drawing his head out from under the strap.

"Hey! Stop that." Smyth admonished, pushing him back in place.

Clint repeated the motion, escaping his bonds again. "Ids nod goin' t'stay," he slurred.

"You're not supped to be able to move yet." The mad scientist said, baffled.

"'M spesh'l like that."

"Go get some rope!"

Smyth rushed out of the room. "Yes, boss."

He returned minutes later with a long coil of rope, which he wrapped around Clint's arms and stomach, and down under the table.

"And gag him."

"Nooo." Clint complained, "Then this'll jus' get boring."

Unsurprisingly, they didn't listen.

Satisfied, the doctor returned to his filming equipment and fiddled with it a bit, apparently not noticing that he'd left the equipment on this whole time. Clint didn't mind. More time for Tony to pick up on the signal and track him here.

Striding back to the table, the scientist picked up a surgical knife, and addressed the camera. "I will begin with a Y incision."

Clint grit his teeth as the doctor pressed the scalpel into his skin, and dragged it the length of his sternum. Hot blood welled up and puddled between his pectorals.

Never mind.

Forget waiting for Tony. He'd had enough of this stupid mad scientist.

The second the scalpel was off his skin, Clint twisted his head from under the strap again and pushed his shoulders up from the tabletop, thrashing violently.

Chemicalia jumped out of the way, his scalpel flying across the room.

"He's moving!" he shrieked.

Smyth pressed down on Clint's stomach with one hand and tried to secure him with the other. He grabbed for the thick strap that was meant to hold the archer's hips down, and pulled it into place. It covered half of his torso, instead.

"How is that supposed to help me?" Doctor Chemicalia yelled. "I can't cut him open with that in the way."

"But he's just going to keep wiggling. Boss."

Clearly not having expected this type of resistance, the wannabe-villain really wasn't handling it very well. He leaned over the table and slapped Clint hard across the face. "Stop it! You're not supposed to be this awake. We need more drugs. I'm going to give him more drugs."

His lab assistant looked worried. "More? We didn't measure for a human this size. That was already really close to an overdose before-"

The doctor cut him off, turning back to the table. "Did I ask you?"

"No, but-"

Clint had finally gotten enough dexterity back into his hands to slip one from the tangle of ropes around his middle. It was still secured to the table at his elbow, but he had just enough range of movement to snatch the edge of Doctor Chemicalia's lab coat. He gave it a sharp yank, which knocked the villain off balance and caused him to fall forward over the table. Clint grabbed him by the wrist and in the same moment lunged upwards to seize the mad scientist's glasses with his teeth. He turned his head to the side and snapped the glasses in half while twisting Chemicalia's arm up behind his body.

"Ahh!" The mad scientist screamed and dropped to the floor as soon as Clint let go.

That was one arm that wouldn't be hurting him again today.

"Boss! Are you okay?" Assistant Smyth questioned urgently.

Doctor Chemicalia stayed on the floor, snuffling loudly through a waterfall of tears. "He broke my arm! It's broken… I can't see anything. What happened to my glasses?"

"He broke those too, boss."

"Get me my backup pair and get me some morphine. It hurts!"

Smyth moved to oblige, and Clint immediately freed his second hand.

"Don't let go of him!" Chemicalia shouted, spotting the movement. "He'll escape! Just forget his ankles. I want his arms secure."

Smyth scurried to unstrap Clint's feet and lock his wrists down to the table. Clint managed to knee him in the nose once before the giant lab assistant tied up his ankles. Now his wrists were the only thing actually cuffed to the table. The rest of it was just rope.

Big mistake, badguys.

"Hawkeye! Ahh! Aaaeeeew, gross."

When Iron Man came bounding into the villain's lair thirteen minutes later, the rest of the Avengers following not far behind him in the quinjet, he found the archer still strapped to the table by his wrists, but now folded in half, his butt up in the air and his knees resting beside his shoulders as he tried to use his toes to retrieve the lock picks he always kept tucked behind his ear.

"Hey, Tony."

Clint dropped his legs back to the table. He now had the lock pick between his toes. Placing it on top of his other foot he kicked the tool up into the air. It landed in the palm of his right hand.

"Hey," Stark stuttered, looking around.

There was a giant of a man lying facedown on the floor and someone in a lab coat half buried in a sparking pile of electronics on the other side of the room. Loops of tangled rope scattered the floor.

"Are they dead?"

"Nah." Clint shook his hand free of the right cuff, and started unlocking his other wrist. "Just very uncomfortable."

Tony folded back his helmet and eyed the smears of blood on Clint's bare chest. "The video feed cut out a few minutes ago. We weren't sure if…"

Clint hopped down from the table, locking his knees so he wouldn't wobble. "I'm fine. I figured I'd given you enough time to follow the signal. Was I wrong?"

"No. No, of course not," the billionaire blustered. "I had your location right away, and I cut that awful monologuing off the air, so you don't have to worry about that."

Clint's keen eyes picked up traces of sweat on the other man's forehead, and it seemed pretty clear he'd been running his hands through his hair incessantly over the last hour or so. Tony also couldn't seem to tear his eyes away from the blood. Clint decided to cut him some slack and didn't point it out.

The clatter of feet in the hallway was the only notice they got before a blur of black zipped into the room. Natasha stopped right in front of her partner, staring at him with hard eyes. Captain America rushed in a second later, skidding to a halt in the doorway. His gaze darted around the room, stopping twice to check on Clint before he turned to Tony. "Stop going offline, Tony! When I ask for an update on Hawkeye, I expect an update on Hawkeye! I don't want to find you've turned off your helmet mic again!"

"Give me a break," Tony whined. "I got distracted."

Natasha rolled her eyes, and ran the pad of her thumb down the centre of Clint's chest, gently skirting the long incision. He gave her a tiny twitch of a smile, and her shoulders relaxed.

"You're okay?" Steve asked. "Bruce is waiting for word in the quinjet."

Clint nodded. "I'm fine."

"Good." Steve blew out a deep breath and smiled. "Tony, I think you owe Clint an apology. He was right, you know. It is useful."

Brow clenched together, Tony followed their team leader's stare over Clint's shoulder to the empty surgical table, oversized cuffs and straps hanging loose. "What do you mean, it's useful -ohh."

Turning away, Tony scowled, "Maybe. Whatever. Sometimes."

Clint just smirked.