A/N: Welp, this is it folks. It's been incredibly fun to write. This one's for the Tony!Whump fans, like me! You know you love it.
It didn't take Tony long to figure out the company that was a front for The Ten Rings.
After the attack on the helicarrier, Nick Fury hadn't let anyone leave until they had determined no one aboard was at fault. The charges had probably been set a day in advance, but a few had failed to be completely effective. The ship had detected the explosions of the first few, and then had effectively sucked all the oxygen out of the areas the charges had been placed in, resulting in much smaller reactions and thus, damage. It seemed that the terrorist organization hadn't figured out how to get to any other parts of the ship undetected, or it could have been far worse.
The goal, it seemed, had been to wipe out Nick Fury and the Avengers in one, unsuspecting go. But they hadn't been too great at that.
Tony had hacked into S.H.I.E.L.D.'s information systems, to access the information he knew Nick Fury was trying to hide from him. A few minutes after he had downloaded the specific information he wanted on to his own server, he had received a "cease and desist" call from agent Coulson.
"Mr. Stark, if you continue going through our files, we will be forced to treat you as a cyber terrorist."
Tony had snorted. "Good to know you actually can detect when someone is hacking your system, Coulson, but what are you going to do to prevent an actual cyber terrorist from looking at your stuff? Call them up and politely ask them to stop?"
"We're giving you the professional courtesy of not being impaled by a missile right now."
"Yeah, a missile that I built. Blow it out your ass, Coulson." He hung up.
He wasn't really in the mood.
He also noticed Steve had been finding a minutia of excuses to stop by and "check" on him. Steve was going to the store, did he want anything. Steve and Bruce were going to watch a movie, did he want to come upstairs. Steve and Clint were going to try and cook chow mein, was he hungry. Clint had passed out after challenging Thor to a drinking contest, did he want to come draw on his face.
Tony did say yes to the last one.
Thor had been laughing loudly as Tony drew a mock-up of the Iron Man helmet on the unconscious marksman's face. Slightly self-incriminating, but Clint was going to guess it had been him anyway.
Tony had a few drinks with Thor and Steve then, letting himself forget for the time being why he had been working so hard.
When he returned to his lab, Jarvis informed him that the CEO of the company Tony suspected, one Zhang Tong, would be in Indianapolis next week.
When Zhang Tong arrived in Indianapolis on Monday, Tony took Pepper out to dinner in LA. Tuesday, Nick Fury himself showed up in Tony's lab back in New York, with questions for him about the security database's firewalls. Wednesday, they did actually have to deal with some guy in New York that could form tornadoes with his mind. That had sort of been an issue.
Thursday, Zhang Tong seemed to be on everyone's backburner.
At 2 AM, he suited up.
He was flying over western New York when a blip on his HUD informed him there was a Quinjet following him. He opened a frequency.
"Hello there. I sure hope you're flying to Buffalo, although I hear it's awfully cold there this time of year."
"Can it, Tony, I know what you're up to."
"Barton?" Tony laughed mirthlessly. "Running an errand for Fury at 2 AM? I sure hope he's paying you overtime."
"He didn't send me. I'm coming with you, so you don't do something stupid."
"What if I don't want you to?" Tony snapped back, the humor in his voice gone.
"Too late. Tony, you don't know anything about this guy. You could be walking into a trap."
"I know enough, Clint, and I can protect myself. May I add I've been the one saving your ass for the past month?"
"I'm still coming. Short of blasting me out of the sky, there's nothing you can do about it."
Clint waited for a retort, but none was forthcoming. He took the silence as an acceptance.
The office building belonging to the company was set a little ways from the main parts of the city, so Clint had a place to land. Tony waited as he got out.
"You don't think…he'll be at his hotel or something? You know, sleeping?" Clint asked hesitantly.
Iron Man's armored visage seemed to glare at Clint from over his shoulder. "He'll be here." It was easy to forget how intimidating that mask could be, especially when Tony was in a serious mood. Clint nodded and unshouldered his bow, following him inside.
The front door was unlocked and Clint felt very uneasy about this whole situation as the cameras in the main lobby tracked them, but no alarm was forthcoming. They rode the elevators to one of the executive floors. "You're not in an email correspondence with this guy, are you?" Clint joked in a whisper. Tony remained silent.
As they stepped off the elevator, half the lights flickered on revealing a board room that took up most of the floor. A huge mahogany desk and chairs had been pushed to wall to one side.
"Welp, looks like no one's here," Clint started before he felt three jabbing pains in his neck and spine and collapsed to the floor in a boneless heap, unable to move.
Tony heard a grunt from next to him and whipped around just in time to see Barton collapse and his bow clatter to the ground next to him.
Zhang Tong was standing calmly where the archer had been just a moment before. "Hello, Mr. Stark," he mused.
"What did you do to him?" Tony looked at Clint whose eyes were moving in a panic. He could see his jaw working, but no sound came out.
"Have you heard of chi, Mr. Stark? I simply redirected his." Tony kept his repulsors aimed at him, but made no move as he walked around Clint's fallen form towards the abandoned furniture, hands folded behind his back,
"That's a load of horseshit."
"Is it? You are on a team with a man who can change into the strongest form in the world due to radiation, a man with enhanced strength and super-human powers, and a god." He shrugged, turning to face Tony again. "But if you prefer it in simpler terms, I have enabled a temporary paralysis in him by pushing pressure points in his spinal cord rendering him unable to move or speak for a short period of time."
He looked down at Clint, smiling. Tony almost physically stepped back from the pure hatred and a little bit of shame radiating in the archer's eyes.
"As for you," Tong looked back at Tony.
"Look, can we skip with the villain monologueing bit? I've had enough of that to last me a lifetime."
"Very well." The arrogant smile was gone now. "But there was something you wanted to ask me," he said.
"Why me?" even with the built in mic in his helmet, his voice sounded quiet.
"Well, Mr. Stark, for every reason your captors initially told you. However, it would seem you were only beginning. I'm proud to say we made you into something far better, far stronger, than any amount of weapons you made in the past could have afforded us. But now, it seems you've served your purpose. You and your little club," the last word was said with a sneer as he looked towards Clint.
Clint knew Tony was seething with rage at Tong's words, however much of a twisted view point they offered. The last words though, made Tony chuckle. "You guys have been doing a pretty shit job with it. That last attack didn't even knock us out of the sky."
"It would seem S.H.I.E.L.D. has been more resourceful than we anticipated."
"I designed that helicarrier. Maybe my purpose isn't over," Tony mocked.
Tong moved, holding his hands in front of him with his index and middle fingers extended. Tony let out a disbelieving "Are you-" but Tong was striking his armor in the joints where the arms met his torso, and Tony could feel it. He hopped backwards out of reach while Tong stood straight and smiled.
"Still don't believe in the power of chi, Mr. Stark? I have studied martial arts my entire life. I have learned how to hone my energies in ways where my body will do more damage than is humanly possible." He narrowed his eyes. "Even to you."
Tong resumed his attack, striking quick and hard in the places he had been hitting. Every time Tony moved to take a swing or fire a repulsor, Tong was gone. He was behind him, striking his knees. He was in front of him, striking his armpits. Tony couldn't follow him, and Tong knew it. Tony's HUD was flashing with a schematic of the suit and red circles highlighting the places where the suit was being compromised. "Shit, I know!" Tony yelled, as Tong's next hit pushed him backwards and a sharp CRACK rang through the air.
Tony stared disbelievingly as his left pauldron armor split and then…simply fell away, leaving his upper arm exposed as well as the wire skeleton frame his armor had previously been attached to.
Clint, still lying helpless on the floor couldn't fight the feeling of dread washing over him. Despite the Iron Man armor's intimidating looks, the Avengers knew Tony's strength wasn't really his close combat skills. Every time Tony tried to back away, Tong wouldn't let him and was right back in his face, hitting and jabbing. Clint renewed his struggles to try and move, to help. A feeling of hope surged within him as he felt a few of the fingertips move on his right hand.
"Jarvis! Electroshield!" Bolts of electricity began flowing over his chest piece and Tony could only stare dumbfounded as Tong reached up, seemingly oblivious to the shockwaves as he absorbed them through his fingers. Before Tony could comprehend what he was doing, Tony moved his other hand so that it was positioned over Tony's arc reactor, completing an electric current that blasted Tony fifteen feet through the air to land on the conference table, snapping it in half.
Tony lay dazed for a moment as his HUD fired off all kinds of warnings. "Sir, power levels are done 60%, the outer shell of the chest piece has been compromised, the outer shell of the right gauntlet has been compromised, the outer shell of both upper leg-"
"Jarvis," Tony interrupted, but he didn't finish because Tong was on him again. Tony grunted as Tong pried open the chest piece with a fury he had been containing until that moment, followed by pulling off his helmet. Tony tried to hold up an arm to stop him but Tong grabbed his wrist and bent backwards. Since the upper arm plating had already been ripped away, nothing was there to stop Tony's arm from bending backwards at the elbow and snapping.
Tony's pained cry made Clint double his efforts. He could now move the wrist of his right hand slightly and the fingers on his left. He began inching his hand towards his bow.
Tony tried to scoot backwards away from Tong's assault, but Clint watched in horror as Tong then savagely punched Tony six times in his exposed abdomen. Tony looked confused for a moment, before his eyes widened and he made a disgusting hurk! noise. Tony curled forward, eyes jammed shut in pain as blood started flowing out of his mouth and down his chin.
Tong stood back and watched with a sick pleasure as the man began choking up blood, struggling for breath with wet gasps. Clint was sickened. The man had won a long time ago, and was now just playing with Tony like a cat with a mouse. Clint's fingers closed around his bow.
"You made a mistake coming here, Stark." Tong said quietly. Clint could barely hear him over Tony's pained moans and struggles to breath. "The Ten Rings are just beginning. With you and your friends gone, there will be no one to stop us." Tony tried to smile at him through bloody teeth. It was a gruesome sight.
"Hydra might…disag…" Tony didn't finish his sentence as more blood dribbled from his mouth.
Christ Tony, don't talk… Clint thought desperately. He moved his arm slowly behind his back.
Tong ignored Tony, who had closed his eyes again in pain and fallen forward, sputtering and shaking.
"Like I said. A mistake."
An arrow shaft suddenly appeared from in between the back of Tong's shoulder blades, making him look up in surprise. His eyes met Clint's.
"Your mistake," he whispered.
The arrow exploded.
Tony weakly covered his head as Tong was propelled screaming through the air over him, and out the window behind him.
Clint crawled over to Tony, who was still shuddering and moaning in pain. Clint himself couldn't quite stand yet, but he was beginning to feel all his extremities again. He propped himself up on his elbows, his brown furrowing with worry at seeing the other man up close. The blood running down his mouth stood in blatant contrast against his pale features. "C…Clint," he whispered.
"I'll get you out of here, just hang on, okay? It's gonna be okay." Clint resumed trying to stand up but before he could, Tony reached over with his good hand, gripping Clint's forearm tightly.
Clint had finally gotten to his own feet with difficulty, before helping the shuddering Tony up. He ignored the small wisps of pain as Tony's arm brushed his still healing back. Together they stumbled back into the elevator. Every few minutes, Clint would feel the warm spray of Tony's blood against the side of his head as Tony gagged and convulsed.
"C'mon Tony, you're gonna make it, hang in there," he chanted over and over. Tony gave no reaction. They stumbled outside, Clint stumbling once on unsteady legs. Tony fell to the ground with him and was eerily still.
"Tony, oh god, I'm sorry," Clint said getting back to his feet and taking Tony's arm and rolling him over.
"God…"Tony gritted out before he spasmed again, coughing up more blood. "…damn it, Clint…" he whispered.
Clint bit out a bitter laugh. "Let's go, you can yell at me later," Clint said, unable to keep the fear for his teammate out of his voice. He hauled Tony to his feet as the other man let out a moan, and together they stumbled to the quinjet.
Once inside, Clint set Tony down on a bench in the back, turning his head as the other choked on more blood. His eyes were closed again.
"Tony? Tony! Stay with me, Tony. We'll get you to the hospital soon, but you gotta hang in there and stay awake, ok? Tony?"
Tony shuddered once, but didn't open his eyes. "you…bein so…nice….'s weird…" he whispered.
Clint squeezed his good hand. "Yeah, I know. Stay awake."
He ran back over to the conn, turning on the communications systems as he fired up the engines.
"Hawkeye to anyone," he called desperately.
"Where the HELL have you been?" Fury's voice. He had probably been looking for them. Hawkeye regretted turning off the quinjet's tracking system now.
"Sir, Stark's in need of emergency medical assistance."
"Bring him here. And you guys are in a shitload of trouble."
Clint fought to keep the frustration and terror out of his voice as Tony gave another particularly violent cough from the back, and Clint could hear the sound of liquid hitting the floor.
"Sir, he…he won't make it that far. I gotta take him somewhere here, in Indy…"
"Is his arc reactor compromised?" The quinjet was lifting into the air.
"No Sir, it's…it's his internal organs. They were all hit, and I think they're failing him. He's been coughing up blood for ten minutes, Sir." Clint's voice hitched at the end of his explanation.
"…shit. Alright. We'll meet you out there."
Clint landed the quinjet on the roof of the hospital. There were already nurses there waiting with a gurney, so Fury must have called ahead.
Tony had lost consciousness by that point, and Clint tried to go with him to the OR. He was deftly pulled aside by one of the orderlies, and without thinking, Clint broke his wrist. It took five more orderlies to restrain them (one suffered a broken knee cap and another a bloody nose) before he felt a prick in his neck and he was floating into oblivion.
When he woke up, he was on a gurney in the helicarrier, Coulson sitting calmly next to him.
"I'm obliged to inform you, you are no longer allowed anywhere near the St. Vincent's Health facility, by request of hospital staff," he said quietly.
"Tony, is he…"
Coulson sighed. "He's still in critical condition. Whatever you were up against ruptured a lot of his internal organs. He's undergone major surgery. But we need to debrief you."
Clint shut his eyes in frustration. "Damn it, Phil, he going to be okay or not?"
Coulson hesitated. "It's…still very early to tell, but the doctors are…hopeful."
A weight lifted off of Clint's shoulders, and he sank back down on the gurney. He noticed then that someone had taken the liberty of removing his uniform and placing him in scrubs. "I'm not sick," he said to Coulson.
"You were covered in blood when we got there."
"It was…Tony's…" he mumbled, covering his eyes with his forearm trying to block out the visions of the night before.
"What happened?" Coulson pressed.
"Tong…he could…do this thing with hands…he basically stripped Stark of all his armor and started destroying his insides by punching him," Clint said.
"Where were you?" Coulson asked.
"He hit me first…in my spine. It paralyzed me. But I'm fine, it was temporary," he added quickly as he saw Coulson write down "MRI" on the pad of paper he was holding.
"What did he want with you?"
Clint shrugged. "To kill us, I guess. Standard stuff. Look, can I see Tony now?"
"One more question, and then you can go to the observation room. What happened to Tong?"
Clint hesitated, a little confused by the question. "I blew him up and he fell out a window…didn't you guys find that?"
"Not a body, no."
Clint's stomach lurched, before Coulson added, "If he does show up again, we'll know how to handle him. The boss is a little angry you two went off on your own with no intel."
"A little?" Clint said sarcastically.
Clint sighed, standing up. "Well, thanks for coming down without him to see me," Clint said, clapping him on the shoulder.
"It was an order. Fury said he wouldn't be able to stand the sight of either one of you."
"Fair enough," Clint grumbled before moving towards the door.
As he walked into the observation, he wasn't surprised to see Steve there. Thankfully though, Steve didn't chew him out. That special privilege would probably go to Fury. On the other side of the glass, Tony was hooked up to numerous machines and tubes, his lower half covered by sheets and bandages. From what they could see of his stomach, it was black, red and pink.
But through it all, his arc reactor continued to burn brightly.
"He'll make it," Steve assured him.
"I know. I gotta kick his ass later for dragging me to Indianapolis at 2 AM anyways. Vegas would have been better. Hell, Cleveland would have been better."
Steve crossed his arms over his chest and gave a sidelong look at Clint. "I know Tony can be a bit…trigger happy, but don't follow him by yourself again without telling me first, okay?"
Clint grumbled out an affirmative response, and Steve turned to walk out. "Oh, and for what it's worth," he paused in the doorway. "I'm glad you were there."
Clint could only stare at Tony's pale and too still form, hoping he hadn't been too late.
Tony was vaguely aware that he was on a rocking surface. But at least it was soft. He wasn't really sure how he got here. But he felt pretty good, he supposed. He was enjoying his blissful ignorance when suddenly he found himself tipping sideways and metal bars in his stomach. A burst of pain made him open his eyes hissing.
He was somewhat surprised to find he was tipping sideways. In the bed.
On the helicarrier.
"Mr Stark!" a nurse shouted frantically, noticing his level of consciousness and hurrying over, trying not to fall. "How are you feeling?" She gripped the sides of his bed.
Somewhere an explosion rocked the ship. "Been better," he choked out.
"I'm sorry sir," the nurse said frantically. "There's…a fight…"
"No shit," Tony whispered rolling back onto his back. The nurse stumbled over to the wall where she activated the comm system.
"Agent Hill," she breathed. "Can you please tell Thor to draw fire away from the ship? Mr. Stark's awake."
Tony was surprised and a little flattered that a few other voices that weren't Maria Hill's replied with an enthusiastic "He's awake?"
"Yes, but not for long if you don't keep…whatever his name is away from the ship!" the nurse screamed, flustered. There were a few muttered apologies over the comm, and the ship resumed a more normal flight path. Tony fell back asleep after that.
He found out later that he had been out for a week, and as soon as he was mobile again, S.H.I.E.L.D had collected all the pieces of his armor for him to repair.
Clint had "made" him his own version of an Edible Arrangement, which was a pineapple that had an orange on a skewer sticking out of it. The archer had feigned shock when Tony tossed it into the trash in front of him. "Well, if you're not gonna even try. Please, I'm sick, sick man. I need my…" Tony trailed off thoughtfully.
"Potassium?" Clint supplied dryly.
"Suuuuure," Tony drawled.
"Get some rest, Tony." Clint got up to leave.
"Hey, wait." Clint turned back around.
"Thanks again, just. You know." He scratched his head and raised one eyebrow. "I'm just used to…relying on myself. So it was nice to…have backup. And I owe you my life for it," he said quickly.
Clint shrugged. "I'd say you'd do the same for me, but you already did. Four times this month."
"Five. If you count me and Jarvis hiding you from Coulson."
"True. I still owe him a Japanese sex robot."
"Yes, you do."