Another Round Robin between the folks of the Beta Branch. This was written by me, Red Tigress, and Alex Kade. I started off the story with the first couple of paragraphs, then another writer added a few more, then another added a little more, and we all bounced back and forth and this story was created. It's different than a collab because we don't share any plans for where the story, so it's unpredictable and as fun as hell.
It was so long that I had to break it up into three parts. It was waaay longer than I expected an RR bounced between us to be, so I was in for quite the surprise when I complied it in a doc.
Part One of Three
Clint missed the old days.
He missed the time back when he'd only get shot at. He missed the days when he didn't have to fill out paperwork about the situations Stark got him into (or left him in) and he missed the days when said paperwork never possessed the phrase, "And then something went horribly wrong."
Of course, "horribly wrong" could refer to a lot of things. In the past, he'd used it to describe a power failure, the White House catching on fire, accidental detonation of a bomb, Stark running out of hair gel... the list went on and on.
This time, the phrase described something a little out of the ordinary.
Or at least, a little more out-of-the-ordinary than even hewas used to.
He wasn't exactly sure how he got into these situations. It was probably the fault of the company he kept, but not even Clint could fully blame Tony for this situation.
Come to think of it, maybe he could. It might even get him out of the paperwork.
Of course, that depended on his unlikely survival.
He really needed to stop falling for the whole, "It's gotta be you, Clint. You're the world's greatest marksman. Nobody else can make that shot," phrase. Stark only praised him like that when it meant sending Hawkeye into the worst possible situation ever. And he fell for it everyfucking time.
No more. If he got out of this one alive, he was going to shove a big, fat pillow over his ego's ears whenever Tony started in with the praises from now on.
First, though, he needed to figure out how to get out of his predicament. It couldn't be that hard. All he had to do was escape the mutant panther crawling towards him on the remains of an old rope bridge where he dangled upside down from one leg over a seventy foot drop into a raging waterfall full of equally mutant piranhas. No problem. All his arrows had of course fallen from his quiver, and he'd given Stark his last explosive before they parted ways - not that a bomb would really help in his current situation, anyway. Sure, he might blow up the mutant panther - good god that thing was ugly - but the bridge, and consequently him, would go down with it. He had a knife in his boot...the boot with the coil of rope thankfully keeping him from plummeting to his certain doom either by impact or psycho fish munching on him like a bucket of fried chicken - probably both. That thought didn't appeal to him, either, so he didn't want to risk unwinding the rope enough to get the blade out.
Come on, Clint, think!
The cat thing slipped a little on the wobbling bridge and let out a growl...hiss...scream? Who the hell would make something like that?
"Easy, kitty," Clint cooed.
Kitty did not take it easy.
Tony cursed again, swatting a branch out of his way. He, nor his armor, was not made to traipse through South American jungles. He had only agreed to do this mission in the first place cause it was away from the unfortunate Manhattanites. He would say that since they moved in, property values had decreased dramatically.
But now the bottom of the armor was completely brown, there was mud gumming up his thrusters and he had lost Clint somewhere. He needed him (well, his bow) to take out the supervillain-type defenses that would have blown him out of the sky if he flew in by air. Unfortunately, the place was also guarded by a slew of mutant animals. Tony had been attacked by some sort of giant spider monkey while Clint (like a worthless coward) had bolted into the woods when a panther three times the size of a normal one and with sabertooth fangs and claws that would make Edward Scissorhands proud bolted after him.
Tony had since disposed of the monkey, and was now looking for his hapless teammate.
He ripped another frond out of his way and came upon a a chasm with a rickety rope bridge crossing it. The mutant panther was slowly stalking toward him.
Tony looked down at the bridge. "Clint? What are you doing?"
"Oh, you know, just enjoying travel to exotic locations. Help me, Tony!"
"Alright, alright, don't get your panties in a twist..."
The mutant panther, unsure about the new threat, crouched slightly, its tail swishing back and forth. It took a step forward and the rope bridge creaked in protest. "Any time now," Clint added sarcastically.
"Okay, genius, think," Tony told himself, and immediately began running through his options...along with the odds of certain doom for both he and his teammate. "Bad idea. Don't think, just act."
With his thrusters currently coated in a so not helpful layer of jungle gunk, and scared to fire at the beast lest he accidentally hit the bridge, he did the only thing he could - he ran to one end of it and swung his arms around wildly.
"Hey, you big, fat, ugly, sorry excuse for a cat! Over here!"
The cat turned its head and let out another of its glass-shattering screams. For a second it appeared to be torn between going for the easy prey dangling helplessly over the falls, or for the one that might be more of a challenge but was at least on solid ground. Clint, in what he hoped wasn't a moment of sheer stupidity brought on by the blood rushing through his head, decided to help the creature make its decision. Holding his breath, he swung his body back and forth slightly, just enough to make the bridge sway unsteadily.
The cat panicked and dug its claws into the rickety boards at its feet, the point of one of the sharp talons ripping partway into another one of the ropes.
"Clint, stop!" Tony yelled.
Barton tensed up his muscles, bringing his swinging to an instant halt. "Did it work?" he asked after a brief hesitation.
The cat regained its footing and pushed off at a run directly towards Tony. Whether it was just for the sake of escaping a potential kitty bath, or the sprint signaled the beginning of a whole cat/mouse thing, Stark wasn't about to find out the hard way.
"It worked!" he hollered, and took off back into the jungle with the cat following behind.
Clint was left still hanging precariously upside down. "Well, at least that's one less thing I have to worry about."
He was unaware of the partially severed rope as its threads slowly continued to snap one by one.
His oblivious state didn't last long, as the fraying rope caused him to suddenly drop down a few centimeters. It wasn't a whole inch, but instead just enough to make him gasp with surprise.
"Oh shit," he groaned as he took in the view. If he fell, there wouldn't be much for Tony to pick up off the ground. As the rope slipped another half inch, he felt a tentative plan form.
It was quite possibly one of the stupidest ideas he'd come up with, including the time he put Nair in Fury's shampoo bottle.
At least Tony wouldn't be around to watch.
Barton could feel his leg starting to shake with exertion, so if he wanted to fulfill his plan (or rather, get a one-way ticket to certain doom) he knew it was mandatory for him to move quickly.
He almost found himself wishing the mutant kitty was back. It had provided some proper motivation, at least.
Clint took a deep breath and tried to remember what he'd learned years ago.
Keep weight balanced as steadily as possible. Be aware of appendages at all times - and always have at least one steady grasp on the rope.
Dammit. This wasn't helping. It was just reminding him of what a clusterfuck he was in. He wasn't playing by any of the regular rules he had learned.
Reluctantly, he twisted. He had just a precious few moments before he was swung headfirst into a cliff.
Knife.He hoped the thing hadn't fallen out of his boot by now - he didn't feel the sensation of it pressing into his skin but his circulation was so restricted in his foot, it was getting hard to feel anything.
He'd prefer to get himself out of this situation than rely on Tony, he decided. Maybe that's why he was about to do such a stupid stunt.
Quickly Clint twisted his body, nearly causing the bridge to collapse. By the time he grabbed the rope with two fingers, his foot was numb and his entire body was shaking.
Not good. That is definitely not good.
Cautiously, Clint looped one hand into the rope. The relief he felt was instant as a few pounds of strain shifted off his foot - then just as quickly, some of the feeling started to return to his foot. "Ow," he muttered. "That's it. I'm getting myself a nice iron suit to show off in. I can walk around, and say things like, 'Look at me, I'm a multimillionaire genius with a clunky iron suit. I have nothing better to do than lure my co-workers into South America and get them chased by mutant furballs.""
"Alright, come on Barton," he told himself. "You can do this. Just like the circus. One hand over the-"
The bridge shifted again as a few more strands snapped. Pep talk forgotten, Clint frantically jerked his body, grabbing onto the rope with his free hand.
Bad idea, he realized. His sudden movement had caused part of the rope to snap.
"Shit," he said as he felt himself drop.
He knew that there would be a snap as the rope's tension caught, and if it didn't snap, he'd probably become a Hawkeye-smudge on the rocks the bridge had been hanging off of.
This was going to hurt.
"I hate you, Clint," Tony spat out as he ran. "I hate you, I hate you, I hate-"
Something hit him from behind, sending him sprawling into the muck and getting yet more mud stuck in places where it just didn't belong in the joints of his suit. He let out a little yelp as the something latched onto his leg and started dragging him backwards through the foliage.
Something? It wasn't a something. It was a big fucking dinosaur-cat-toxic waste project gone wrong.
Tony flipped his body over, bringing his free leg across his captured one to kick the beastie in the face. It growled like fucking Cujo and narrowed its glowing yellow eyes at him.
"This...isn't going to be good," Stark mumbled right before the cat swung its head around, letting him go and sending him straight into a tree. He barely had time to shake off the dizziness before his arm was grabbed this time, and he once again found himself being dragged across the ground like a sack of manure.
"Well this is degrading," he muttered, keeping himself fairly relaxed for the time being while he recuperated from his impact with the tree. At least the cat hadn't just decided to eat him right off the bat. It gave him a little time to get his head back on straight before he started in on what would probably be a painful fight to rid himself of his new feline...ish...friend.
"Clint, I swear to god if you're not dead when I get out of this mess, I am going to kill you myself."
He sent a little juice down into his free hand and hoped the sludge hadn't effected his weapons system too badly. With really only one way to find out, he raised his palm towards the cat's head and fired.
"I really hate you, Clint," he murmured once again.
"I really hate you, Tony," Clint gasped as he felt the sudden tension as the rope ran out of slack. His arm dissolved into an appendage no longer made up of skin and bone, but pain and relative agony. He could feel his foot snap, and considered himself lucky that his arm didn't break as well. "I'm never listening to you again," he gasped as he clung frantically to the rope. Falling into the water and getting eaten by the mutant piranhas would probably be the perfect end to his horrible day. "Next time, just find yourself another damn archer. 'You're the only one we have.' By the end of this, you going to need to find another one, because this whole situation is your damn fault."
Clint could feel the momentum of the broken rope. It was gathering in velocity as the fragile threads propelled himself to the rock face. Not good,he thought distantly as he saw the rocks approaching.
His bad day was about to get worse.
Hawkeye-pancake, or fish food.
He really didn't have much of a choice, all things considered. With his unmangled left arm, Clint scrambled for his knife and yanked it out. "Shit shit shit, not good, not good, not good!" he gasped as he sawed at the rope. The tie around his ankle slipped, and he felt his body swing free.
He didn't think it was possible, but the pain in his arm increased. It was the only thing holding him up now. Slowly, painfully he sawed on the rope holding onto his arm. The rope gave after just a few moments, weakened by age and disrepair.
Then he was falling in a move worthy of the cheesiest Indiana Jones movie.
He was going to hit. If the rocks didn't get him, the genetically altered piranhas probably would. Clint Barton, death by waterfall. Tony would probably survive this jungle just to laugh at the obit Hawkeye was going to get.
Clint yet out a yell of part adrenaline, part terror as he plummeted.
The one time he'd actually appreciate it if Tony was nearby, the Iron Man was nowhere in sight. If Tony appeared, he might even take the snarky comments with good grace.
Or maybe he wouldn't. It was Tony's fault he was in this mess after all.
Tony left the remains of the panther's head behind him as he ran off back in the direction of the bridge. To any onlookers, the sight of a muddy red and gold robot splattered with mutant panther brains booking it through the jungle was either something hilarious, or a horrifying nightmare. How did the guy get himself irreversibly trapped in a 17th century death trap, anyway? The archer was more accident prone than him sometimes and there had been definite phases in Tony's life when he had been inviting it.
He burst again through the edge of the tree line.
"Clint! Clint! Good news!" He paused for a moment, seeing the remains of the rope bridge, before he heard a scream.
Before thinking about, he ended up jumping off the edge of the ravine.
Then he remembered his thrusters may not have been entirely functional.
He hated Clint Barton so much right now.
It took only seconds before Iron Man's metal shell was dropping faster than a rock, and he activated his thrusters to catch up with the falling form of Clint. If this didn't work out, it wouldn't look like they had just fallen and become pancakes, it would look like someone had pulled their insides out of their mouths and THEN made them pancakes.
Tony's heart stopped as his thrusters sputtered and his HUD flashed red, before he felt the familiar and comforting push against his feet of his thrusters working and his HUD flashed back to blue. "Sir, the thrusters have been compro-"
"LATER!" he shouted at the robot. This was too much pressure. Luckily, he had programmed Jarvis to know when to shut the fuck up and let him work.
He shouted as the adrenaline pulsed through his body before extending his arms and hooking Clint around the waist. He turned upside-down and there was a deafening screech as his back plates scraped along the rocky outcroppings of the river before he angled himself so they were shooting upwards again.
"YOU OWE ME EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR GOD GIVEN LIFE!" he shouted at Clint right before his thrusters cut out.
"We're falling," Clint ground out between clenched teeth. "Tony, why are we falling?"
"Shut up!" Tony shouted. "Thrusters on...come on, thrusters on...on...ON!"
They slid down to just above the surface of the river below when the mechanics kicked in again, pushing them up just in time to save them from a watery, piranha-infested death. Not wanting to go all the way back up in case the suit malfunctioned again, Stark stayed fairly low and paralleled the chasm wall until he found a solid piece of land large enough to be considered something of a shoreline. With a disgruntled huff, he let go of Clint and watched him fall heavily to the ground, after which he looked down to see one of the mutant fish latched onto his armored foot.
"Shit!" he yelled, and yanked the little bastard off his boot. It immediately tried to grab onto his arm, which Tony dodged and clumsily chucked the thing back into the water. Checking over the total damage done to his suit, he let out his frustration on the archer. "Three! That is THREE times I've been in the mouth of some grotesque...animal...beast...monster! And TWO of those I could've avoided if I wasn't saving your sorry a-"
"Thanks, Tony," Barton panted.
Stark whipped around and pointed at the object of his anger. "Don't give me that tone- Wait. What?"
Clint stayed curled on his side, keeping one arm hugged closely to his chest, and blowing heavy breaths into the sand he had his face pressed into. His eyes were clamped shut. "I said...thanks..."
Tony sighed and knelt down over his friend. "Great. Well now I have to feel like an asshole on top of being pissed. You hurt yourself, didn't you?"
"Little...bit," Clint hissed.
"Jarvis, do a scan." Tony whistled and shook his head in pity. "Badly dislocated shoulder, and you broke your leg right above your ankle."
Barton opened his eyes enough to glare at Stark. "I could've told you that...myself."
"Well, now who's Mister Grumpy Pants? Come on, sit up. I can at least reduce the shoulder. You'll feel better after that."
"Ugh, this is gonna suck," Clint moaned as Tony helped him into an upright position.
"Yup," Stark agreed, and twisted on Barton's arm without giving him any sort of warning.
Clint screamed, and promptly passed out.
"Oh, good, that's convenient," Tony said jovially. "Now you won't feel it when I set your leg."
He patted his friend on the good shoulder and looked around for something to use as a decent splint, trying not to think too much on how the hell they were going to get out of the bottom of a ravine in the middle of a jungle full of mutant animals with Clint running on half his total limbs and Tony's suit on the fritz. One problem at a time...
One thing Tony would say about being a superhero, is you never had enough fabric when you needed it. He took off his helmet first, shaking out his hair which had become plastered with sweat, thanks to how extremely stressful the past half hour had been for him. He tossed the helmet aside for the time being, and then took off his gauntlets, now covered in mud, and did the same thing. He leaned down next to Clint's good leg, undid both of his boots, and tore off his pant leg below the knee. Clint groaned slightly at the jostling but remained still.
"Stop being a pussy," Tony admonished.
He ripped the cloth into a few thinner strips before moving over to the tree line where he found some sturdy branches about eight centimeters in diameter. He snapped them over his knee before moving back over to Clint's bad leg. He then knelt down so that his knees were facing Clint's feet, and leaned forward putting one hand on Clint's upper thigh and gripping his heel with the other. Tony sighed. "This is gonna suck for you. But you have no one to blame but yourself." He looked at Clint's face, but the archer showed no signs of answering. Tony exhaled slowly again. "I really hate you." He pulled.
Clint jerked visibly and moaned, but Tony ignored him as he placed the sticks on either side of his heel, adjusting them so they extended past his knee. Once that was done, he wrapped the thin strips of cloth around them to hold them in place. Tony looked around again, before a glint of something caught his eye. He got up and moved over to the bank, where he found Clint's knife and picked it up. He moved back to the archer and dropped to the ground with a heavy crash.
Since the gauntlets were off, he had clear access to his neoprene suit he wore underneath the at his elbow, he made a few cuts, (hissing and cursing whenever he missed), and tore the sleeves off. He did the same to the other arm, though when he was done he looked like he had lost some fight with an animal. Which technically, he already had.
He balled up one of the sleeves and stuffed it under Clint's bad foot, tying the other around the bottom in an impromptu fabric boot that would keep his foot from rotating side to side. "I hope you appreciate this," he muttered, letting himself fall backwards into the smooth stones around the bank. "The mission has been a complete failure. They're going to send in Natasha, I'm sure of it. She'll be done in five minutes. You and I will get benched. Well, probably not me, since I am a genius. This whole initiative would fall apart without me, you know." He looked over at Clint's still form, before looking wistfully at the abandoned quiver a few feet away. "God, I wish you carried cigarettes in that thing."
Fuck,Clint thought as he felt himself begin to awaken once again. It was a little hard to piece together the events that caused him to pass out and awaken on what seemed to be an extremely hard bed.
He remembered Tony's hands all over him and the sensation of falling. There was a niggling sensation that this was all Tony's fault.
Shit. Tony had dangled him out a window again, hadn't he?
"God, I wished you carried cigarettes in that thing," Tony's voice reached him as he stirred.
"Who says I don't?" Clint mumbled as he opened his eyes.
The events were gradually beginning to fall into place - angry pussycat, a rope bridge definitely not approved by a safety inspector - and the heart-stopping fall.
Tony catching him.
Shit. Tony would never let him live down his yell - not a scream, a yell- of shock (not terror, he told himself firmly).
No wonder his arm hurt like a bitch, Clint realized. He could deal with the broken leg, but his shoulder...
Shit, he needed that shoulder. An archer couldn't survive without fully functional limbs.
He really didn't want to think about his shoulder, but the appendage didn't seem to want to be forgotten. It felt like someone had inserted a small ball of fire in his back.
"I say so," Tony snapped back after a pause. "Don't you know how to stay unconscious like a normal person?"
For once, Clint agreed with Tony. Unconscious was good. Unconscious was pain-free.
Unconscious was about the furthest thing from his current state at the moment.
"You're one to... talk about being normal," Clint's voice was strained and uneven, mangled by pain.
"Genius, remember?" Tony's trademark smirk flashed Clint's way, even if it didn't seem as wholeheartedly meant as it usually was. "I think I'm more qualified to make the decisions here."
Clint was well aware of Tony's intelligence level from the man's point of view, thank you very much.
"So," Clint began, his voice cracking slightly. He had the distinct recollection of Tony calling him a pussy come to mind and he did his best to even his tone. "Mr. Genius-Tony-Stark, you have a plan to get our asses out of here?" His voice did not waver.
There was a pause. Clint knew that whatever Tony was about to say, he wasn't going to like.
Clint shifted his weight slightly. His lower leg gave him a blinding burst of pain, making him instinctively try to brace himself against the ground. It was a stupid move - his shoulder instantly gave a yelp, no, more like a screaming howl of protest.
A slight, involuntary whimper crossed his lips.
Of course, their luck being what it was, Clint should have laid money on what was about to happen.
It was to be expected after all. It was almost obligatory for everything that could possibly go wrong to go wrong when it was him and Tony on assignment together. If they got out of this alive, he was putting in an official request to never be teamed up with Iron Man again. Ever.
He thought that over for a second. How many things had he already put on the list of if I get out of this alive...already today? It had to be some sort of record, he was sure, even for them.
"Clint, you need to get up," Tony said, his tone casual, the message behind it screaming right the fuck now.
He heard something splash in the water and knew it couldn't be good. What was it this time? Probably fucking Godzilla if the rest of this day served as any sort of clue.
"Clint...now would be a good time..."
A hand was pulling at his good arm, forcing him upright. A regular hand. Where the hell were Tony's gauntlets and why the fuck wasn't he using them to blast The Creature from the Black Lagoon back where it belonged? Or maybe it wasn't really that bad. Maybe whatever was making all that noise splashing around was just a stupid beaver, or a furry little otter, or maybe just a freakishly big, but perfectly harmless frog. He'd take a look for himself in order to determine the threat level, but for some reason he seemed to have been struck completely blind at the moment.
"No, no, no, Clint, open your eyes. Don't be a normal person. You gotta stay conscious, buddy. We need to move."
Goddamn it, Tony! He was just starting to feel painless again, too. Now the burn in his leg and shoulder was back with a vengeance, and Stark wanted him to run?
"Gonna shoot you when we get out of this," he grunted, adding that one to the list, too. In fact, he was putting that at the top of the list. In big, red, bold letters.
SHOOT TONY STARK.
Yeah, that was worth the effort to get out this shithole alive.
"GODDAMN IT, CLINT, GET UP!" Tony shouted, pulling the half-conscious man's arm around his shoulder. The move jostled Clint's leg and he moaned, touching his chin to his chest.
"W'at's the point..." he slurred "of 'avin' armor if you're...always takin' it off..."
"Good question! And I'll be happy to discuss the finer details later, if you'd be so inclined," Tony couldn't keep the panic out of his voice now. Standing in the water stalking towards, and seemingly oblivious to the piranhas (much to Tony's amazement and rage), was another mutant cat. A spotted one, this time. The leopard? Jaguar? Spotted panther? Ocelot? had much longer teeth than the last one. But it still had those claws. "What the hell are they doingto the wildlife in this country? Does PETA know about this you think?"
Clint finally looked up then, eyes widening. Without realizing it, he put a hand on Tony's chest plate, trying to grip it. "I will love you forever if you get us out of here right now."
"Um, see, the thing is...I can't really...I mean..." Tony reached down to the leg that wasn't supporting Clint. "Close your eyes," he said, before he released the flares from the remaining parts of his suit.
The cat screamed as the lighted flares assaulted its vision and its face, and Tony quickly dragged Clint into the jungle.
The cat was gaining speed, and Tony was losing it.
"I could use...a little help, here," he panted as he half-carried Clint along.
"I'm...trying...ass," Barton ground out.
The cat was right behind them now, so close that they could hear its breaths coming out in what was almost a rumbling purr. They were aware of the sound of its feet padding down onto the soft earth, followed by a sudden silence as the creature leaped off the ground. That was going to be it for them, they knew it, but they surged ahead with what little desperate, life-saving adrenaline they had left.
And then they were falling.
The blanket of leaves and branches had given way below their feet, dumping them down into the bottom of a dark pit. They both hit with a thud, barely aware of the screech of the cat thing above as it sailed passed the hole and barely latched onto the other side, its legs kicking more dirt down on their heads as it scrambled back up to safety. It hissed in frustration at the loss of its prey, but thankfully didn't seem interested in going down into the pit after them. With a flick of its tail, it turned and left them to die down there on their own.
Tony moaned as he sat up, cradling the arm that his body, and all its armor, had landed square on top of. He looked over at Clint and his heart skipped a beat as he realized the archer was laying on his back, perfectly still, his eyes staring up at nothing.
"Clint? Clint, buddy? You in there?" He stood on shaky legs and barely made it over to Barton's side before just letting himself fall heavily to the ground. For a second he just looked at his friend, afraid to reach out to confirm what the vacant eyes were already telling him.
"You're not dead," he decided. "Because I will not become the crazy guy stuck in a hole talking to a corpse. Snap out of it!" He raised his good fist in preparation to bring it down on Barton's chest, but stopped last second as a small smile pulled at the corners of the archer's mouth. Clint coughed once, drew in a deep, gasping breath of air, and proceeded to either choke, laugh, or cry for several long seconds. Tony couldn't quite decipher which one.
"Wanna clue me in on the joke?" he asked.
Barton kept cry-laughing, his eyes squeezing shut as tears rolled unchecked down his face.
Tony sighed and sat back with a slouch in his shoulders. "Great. Fantastic. Instead of being the crazy guy stuck in a hole talking to a corpse, I'm the sane guy stuck in a hole talking to a man who had clearly lost his mind. This day just keeps getting better and better."
Clint laughed even harder at that.
"Shut up," Tony mumbled.
Hours later, with what little sunlight that had made it down to the bottom of their pit disappearing as the day passed, Tony sighed and nudged Barton with his foot. He was rewarded with nothing more than a slight groan. Clint had pretty much stayed quiet since his insanely long, crazy-man giggle fit had ended with him puking on himself. He had turned his head, tried to roll over in time, but that was the extent of movement the added pain from the fall had allowed him. Tony took pity on the man and, despite his own screaming arm, had done his best to at least drag Barton away from the mess and help get the outer layer of armor off. They were both pretty much done after that, falling into a pained and exhausted sleep. Actually, it was probably more like off and on unconsciousness, but nobody really needed to know that.
Now Tony was awake. Awake and bored. And his arm hurt. He really needed to find something to try to splint it with...
Taking a second to check on Barton, he frowned as his core reactor shone light on Clint's face, revealing the slightest flush in the archer's cheeks. Tony felt his skin, taking note of the slight elevation in temperature. It wasn't too bad, just a low grade fever that he mentally ordered not to cause any more problems for them. They didn't need that on top of everything else from this mission-straight-out-of-a-campy-action-comedy-film. This whole day had been one big catastrophe, and damned if his night was going to be spent trying to tend to an injured, sick Hawkeye with only one arm.
Arm. Right. He needed to take care of that.
Coming slowly to his feet, he began to really pace the circumference of the hole for the first time since they'd landed in it, not only looking for good splint material but also to see if he could spot anyplace that might make for a good climb out. All he needed was one wall of the pit to be nicely slanted, with enough hand and footholds to clamber up with one good arm each, and sturdy enough to withstand the fact that Clint would have to literally hop from one to the next. It could happen.
Tony sighed as he continued around the circle, stopping when he came across a sad little bush that somehow managed to grow at the bottom of their dungeon. Intending to break some branches off it to use for his arm, Stark smiled in surprise when pulling on the plant revealed a little tunnel behind it. A tunnel where there was definitely air flowing through, and upon crawling in just a little ways to investigate, he picked up the sound of water flowing through the rocks somewhere up ahead.
"Huh. Maybe the universe isn't out to kill us, after all," he said, and carefully made his way back to where he had left Clint.
First things first, fix arm. Second, wake Barton's useless ass up. They were getting out of that fucking hole.
Clint flinched as he felt something slap his cheek. "Wake up, I need your help with this."
God. "Fuck off, Tony," he mumbled.
"Hey, that's no way to talk to someone who pulled you out of your own puke," Tony said sourly.
Wait, what?Clint opened his eyes, blinking warily at the glow from Tony's chest illuminating their otherwise dark surroundings. He felt sick, and his leg was throbbing steadily with pain.
Oh yeah, they were in a hole.
Clint had a vague recollection of laughing his ass off when they fell down it, though he wasn't really sure why. He peered up at Tony. Tony was holding one arm protectively against his chest, trying to hold a lopsided stick in place on it with his good hand. "Will you stop staring and find something to tie this off with?" Clint felt around for his discarded armor, following the distinct smell of vomit. Holding his breath, he tore some of the cloth away from the Kevlar padding underneath.
"Nice," Tony grumbled sarcastically.
"Look, it's all we have," Clint said. Still lying on his side, he motioned Tony other. "Come down here, I can't stand."
"Which is completely your fault."
Clint pulled Tony's arm away from his body a little harsher than he had meant to, making the other man grunt in pain. "This is yourfault," he mumbled. "I'm never going anywhere with you ever again, unless I have at least THREE people as backup, one of which has to be Nick Fury." He straightened the stick out and began wrapping the cloth around Tony's arm who let out a few breaths between clenched teeth.
"Hey, I've been saying from the beginning, I do better alone. But it's good you...hey, watch it! It's good you had me here because I found an exit."
"What?" Clint looked suspiciously at the other man, ready to believe the Tony's intense narcissism led him to assume he had thought up a terrible plan that would kill both of them.
"An exit." Tony gestured with his good hand. "Over there."
Clint squinted, and it took him a few moments to see the tunnel. "Where does it go?" he asked suspiciously.
"How the hell should I know, they don't make blueprints of THE JUNGLE. But it at least leads to water, and air. So," Tony hefted his newly-splinted arm in appreciation. "Let's go."
"Wait, we're not going there in the dark."
"Baby, it's never dark with me around." Tony tapped his chest plate.
"I have a broken leg and you have a broken arm, and you expect us to crawl down there."
"...I didn't say it wouldn't be painful."